Sunday, July 25, 2010

the little things

Who knew how much enjoyment could be provided by a construction paper balloon on a yarn string?

We were unpacking (finally... I know...) the stuff from Frances's school at the end of the year, and in the bag was a construction paper balloon with her name on it that decorated the classroom door. Clark nearly lost his mind with excitement about it and Frances got very upset because she didn't want it torn, so I got out the construction paper and let him pick a color for his own balloon. We taped on some yarn just like the school balloon. Frances wanted another one of her own so I made a second and they ran around with them for something close to an hour. For a while they flew them in the fan wind, and then dragged them around outside behind their trikes. Sometimes I feel like there is a secret book of tricks like this to entertain them when it's late and they're hungry and waiting for dad to come home. Where is that book? It took me all of 30 seconds to make these balloons. (I waved aside their suggestion to help me cut it out, though I suppose that could be a project in itself...)

Summer here is fabulous. Have I said that before? Really really lovely. We can be outside all day, every day, very few bugs, not too hot but hot enough for the sprinkler or kiddie pool. And cicadas. I missed them out west. They make everything sound like summer.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

only kid blues

Would you look at this child's art space?! Officially jealous. And trying to remember that a year from now I will not only have children old enough to do projects without pouring the paint on their heads, but also a couple of days a week when they're both in school to organize such a thing. Gotta give myself a little slack and try to keep my story in perspective.

That said, we've done a couple of fun things lately--Did this art project a few days ago. We only had a few minutes to fill and so just did the muffin tin, not the pie plates and other larger items. I painted the paint on the back of the tins (she told me where to put which color) and then I had her draw in the paint with Q-tips. She made some pretty nifty designs but some of them were lost when we did the print.

We also did this art project with coffee filters, markers, and the rain. I loved it and so did Frances. It was particularly fun because it was multi part (meaning we colored the filters, then waited days for it to rain, then left it out and watched the colors run, then had to wait for them to dry)--it sort of kept the fun going. Will post a picture of the result soon.

Note that I did the above things with Frances alone.... while Clark was napping, or playing with his trucks.

While I'm here I might as well bitch a bit, because I do that so well. SO MANY of the art activities in the blogs linked above would be SO MUCH FUN if I only had one kid. Really. Much of my life, in fact, would contain less stress. I sometimes imagine my days would be filled with patience and connection and love and sunshine. I know it's ridiculous. And I know why I had more than one kid--it was on purpose, and because I'm likely to fall into some of the traps of the parent of an only child. (None of my friends with only children are likely to do this, of course.) I fear I would attach too firmly, unhealthily. I suspect I would put even more pressure on myself for the child's success in whatever area. I am an only child; I know the burden. 

So I've got a little of the wish-I-had-only-one-kid blues. My friend D (who ironically desperately wants more more more but her husband won't have anything to do with that idea) is spending the summer with her 4 year old son, going to farms and playgrounds and swimming pools, having a great time. I'm refereeing screaming toy ownership and trying to keep people from dashing out in front of cars in parking lots.

Oh yeah, and to enter a drawing for a kids craft book giveaway, I'm linking to the post on Paint Cut Paste about using bubble wrap to do ocean themed prints, which is pretty cool. We've done bubble prints before, but not used them as ocean or any other specific thing. This is the same blog that did the coffee filter flowers above. It's a GREAT source for art projects, my new favorite. That one and The Artful Parent (where the post about the fabulous kid art space came from) are where I get most of my kid art ideas these days. 

There are a lot of blogs out there with great ideas about things to do with your kids, and I love reading them. They give me great ideas, but they also produce a good bit of I-should-be-doing-more-with-my-kids guilt. Then it occurred to me that--I'm pretty sure--every single one of these blog moms has only one kid. Or they have one kid with whom to do the projects, and one baby--at least 4 years apart. Why didn't anyone tell me about having them close together? 

Okay, enough of that. It's what I've got, and it's got its plusses too. And everyone says the plusses grow in number as the kids get older. I'm holding onto that idea with something akin to hope. 

Thursday, July 15, 2010

hi there.

Lots of time since my last post, lots of summer in between. We were traveling--visiting my dad, then Mitch's brother and family, then we were at the beach in North Carolina with my mom, and aunt, and cousin, and cousin's husband, and three kids (making 5 in total, all 5 and under) which was wonderful but also full of company and little time for reflecting and then posting about my reflections.

Frances and her constant companion, Cousin Claudia

We're home now, after a 17 hour drive that Frances announced to her sitter was her favorite part of the trip. (I laughed out loud and asked her what she liked about the drive home and she said the music. Hm.) I had the post vacation blues in a bad way, suddenly again alone with my children, no adults around to talk to, no grandparents who enjoy putting my kids to bed, no husband because he's vanished back into the unbelievably demanding world that is academia. It's better now. I'm getting back into our rhythm. 

The news: Frances can swim! Actually keep herself afloat while propelling forward across the pool! She started lessons on Monday, four days ago, four swim lessons ago. On Monday she couldn't swim, and was actually scared of putting her face in the water. (Clark, by contrast, has not even healthy fear of the water and flings himself in with abandon. He's not bothered in the least by water in his face, by going under completely. This was the case in the ocean too...) Today she jumped in without my catching her, just jumped in by herself, went under, came up and paddled herself back over to the side. This means I can actually take both kids to the pool by myself, though the showering part is still exhausting. 

More news: Clark is a screaming lunatic! Oh, wait. That's not new news. But man has it amped up the last couple of weeks. Screaming. About everything. All the time. I can't wait for this stage to pass. 

Also, Frances wrote the entire alphabet yesterday without any help from me, without my even telling her what letters come next. She's getting so big. And when she gets mad at me she tells me I'm not her mom.

p.s. We have an active television in our house. 

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

the lure of disney magic

Frances: Mommy, why can't I do magic? 

What do you mean?

I say the words but nothing happens. Abracadabra. See? 

What kind of magic do you want to do?

Turn the couch into a bouncy house. 

Well, that sounds like a fine idea to me. Too bad those words don't work, hm? So there's some interest in magical thinking. Then they saw the new Mickey Mouse Clubhouse show for the first time when we were in Michigan (oh the grandparents with cable!) and she's suddenly interested in Disney World too.

We left last Wednesday for another long trip: a couple of nights with my dad and stepmom in Virginia, a night with Mitch's brother and family in Greensboro, then to the beach for a dreamy relaxing week with my mom and aunt and cousins, five children 5 and under included. The day before we left Frances came into the bedroom first thing and said, "Mommy, we're going to Disney World!" Don't know where that came from. "Well, actually, we're going to the beach," I said. "NO! DISNEY WORLD!" An actual whining argument ensued as I tried to explain that we wouldn't be going to DW for a while because it's far away and a trip we have to plan and costs money etc etc, none of which meant much to her.

Later that afternoon she went with her sitter to her sitter's parents' house where she announced, "We're going to Disney World tomorrow!" She told them how we were getting there and how long we'd stay and about the hotel and everything. They were so excited for her and got out their old photo albums from past Disney vacations and on and on. Later, after the kids were in bed and I'd come home from my errands, my sitter said, "I didn't know you all were going to Disney World." Which we, as said previously, are not.

What a nut. Was she trying out her magical thinking? Did she think saying it would make it true? I didn't know if the next morning would be harder or easier, if she would be more convinced or would have become sated some from seeing the pictures and have people believe her.

The next morning we were packing up and getting breakfast and she said, "I can't wait for Disney World!' I said, "Frances, we're probably not going to Disney World until you're about 8." (That's the age beyond which she can imagine nothing; eight years old might as well be a millennium away to her) She said, "Yeah, because the characters are big." Which means, I'm pretty sure, that when she saw the pictures, she realized that Mickey Mouse and Winnie the Pooh and the princesses are these towering bizarre figures that will in all likelihood scare her to death. She won't even go into the WING of the mall with Santa, you know. Covers her eyes if a clown comes on tv. Right. I could have stopped that argument right away, just by pulling up Google Images.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

a parenting book to set you FREE

I figure since I espouse and talk about it I should probably read the actual Free Range Kids book. So I checked it out of the library last week (though I've interestingly been on a waiting list for a while... it's a popular item around here!) and have been motoring through it. And I LOVE it. It may change my life. So many of the things she suggests are things I was already practicing (I don't hover near my 2-year-old on the playground, for example, and he's a climber. Yes, he might fall, and he might get hurt, but he won't kill himself, and the independence he gains is worth more...) but I felt guilty about them, even while believing they were right.

Oh if she can lift my guilt. So far it's working.

Also, she's got the statistics. She tells you how many kids have been abducted randomly (it's fewer than you think) and what the actual risk is if you want to let them walk down the block to Josie's house by themselves. She addresses directly the hysteria about not being able to let them out of your sight, gives you the actual numbers and lets you decide if our reactions are out of proportion. (Okay, she goes ahead and tells you they are in fact out of proportion, and even how we got to this ridiculous place.)

She has a whole chapter about how you should not read parenting books (except for hers, of course, she says cheekily) because parenting "experts" only serve to tell you what you're doing wrong. Wrong wrong wrong. Well intentioned though they may be. (She also points out how completely absurd and unfounded and incorrect some of their suggestions are, and though they may go against our better judgement, we feel the "experts" must know more than we do, and so, if not trying to implement something because it feels wrong to us, we feel guilty....)

She's got a lot of good sense. Go read it! Or at least look at her blog.