Showing posts with label Parenting. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Parenting. Show all posts

May 12, 2023

On Mother's Day

I learned this weekend that the key to having a nice Mother's Day is dropping any expectations.  Isn't that the key to peaceful parenting in general?  It seems like any time I have an expectation (the kids will just nap in the car, one diaper is enough for a quick trip out, we don't need an extra set of clothes) it just blows up in my face.
I went into Mother's Day with no expectations.  True, I knew it was going to be a cloudless, beautiful day, but that's about it.
Taken at The Rodale Institute on Saturday
I was lucky to start the day at yoga with my bestie, then stop for a leisurely cup of coffee before heading home to pick up the kids and trek to my parents' house for a cookout and hanging around, reading the paper and even taking a quick nap.

Finally, we finished the day at an outdoor show, listening to music as the sun went down, watching the kids run around, dancing and tossing balls.  It was the perfect day.
Despite how challenging being a mother is for me, I'm so grateful to have taken the plunge and experience what it is to be a parent.  It's taught me so much about myself and given me a deeper connection to humanity.  And it's made me appreciate my own mom so much more.  
Hope you had a great day too!

March 4, 2024

Winter: Killing Me Softly

This winter has done me in.  Cold, snow, a pulled tendon from sitting too much with my feet tucked under me on the couch (seriously!).  I generally like winter and its encouragement to look inward, as well as enjoying all those inside things like needle arts, reading, cooking, baking and catching up (or binging) on television shows on Netflix.
This is what the space beside my chair has looked like all winter.  And I'm sorry to say I'm tired of it.  I love it but I want a break from it, a respite outside in the sun.  I'm pretty sure that last year at this time I swear I was digging in dirt.  Yep, I was.  No snow in sight.

I've been taking Jude to a kids' gym, where he can run around, hang, jump, etc.  It's a great place, but I'm so relieved to nearly have filled up my punch card.  Pulling into that parking lot with literally a line of mini vans deflated any ounce of strength I had.  The place was packed, and while it is great seeing the kids have fun, I've just become weary of the constant buzz of children.  But I do it for my kids, as you probably do too.

I often wonder why parenting is so agitating to me; the noise, the constant interruptions, the mere energy of these boys is enough to put me on edge.  I found some answers in this article, about the highly sensitive parent, and it's like the sunlight parted the clouds above and heavenly beams shone down upon me (hyperbole much?).  I probably wasn't cut out for raising children, but I'm still glad that I did, most days.

I hope my next post (a month from now, most likely) will be more positive.  The past weeks, I've been quietly dying inside, restless, agitated, wanting to scream into the void.  It's been a long winter here in Pennsylvania, and I know that spring is sooooo close.  That's the hope I cling to, knowing everything changes and like the wind, so do our moods.

To end on a positive note: yesterday's post on the Wise Craft book has now turned into a giveaway, so go leave a comment on it if you'd like to win a copy.  Good luck!

January 10, 2024

Moving Forward, Looking Back

Ten days into the new year and I'm finally writing again. It's so hard to get back into the rhythm of writing after such a long, cozy holiday break.  Hot toddies for all!
So far the year is off to a good start.  Lots of knitting, this time a shawl/scarf for myself instead of the near-dozen hats I knit last month for gifts.
The MadelineTosh fingering yarn is such a pleasure to knit with.

I had one sort-of resolution this year (my thoughts about not making them more HERE), which was to start researching my family tree.  And basically, I've already checked that off the list, having geeked out all last weekend on creating it via  It's amazing how much one can learn in a weekend now with the help of the interwebs.

I was merely curious about my past and thought it would be fun to look up the names of people as far back as I could.  While I'm not sure how much affect they have on my daily life, I can't help but wonder what their lives were like.  Were they happy?  What did they cook and eat? How did they spend their time with their kids?  And my, did they ever have kids; most families I came across had at least 8.  I was also surprised at the long lives they lived--lots of them lived into their 80s, which seems unusual for the 1700s and earlier.

Most of my ancestors on my maternal grandfather's side were of Dutch and German origin, with a sprinkling of English and Swiss.  One ancestor was a resident of Plymouth Colony, though not having been aboard the Mayflower.  Others were a member of the well-to-do DeWitt family from the Netherlands who settled in New Amsterdam and Kingston, New York.  One of them owned slaves, as well, which was surprising to me. You usually hear about Southern families with slavery woven into their roots, and I had forgotten that wealthy Northerners had owned slaves too, at least in the 1600s.

My mother's mother's family as well as my father's Polish relatives were harder to trace beyond a few generations.  It's surprising, considering that those families came to America much later than the other ones, so I assumed that more modern records would make them easier to trace.  But you have to hand it to the meticulousness of the Dutch and Germans to keep detailed records of birth, death, marriage and land ownership.

I'm still working at figuring out those families, at least beyond the first few generations, and hope to get some information from living relatives.

Mapping my family tree has conjured a dreamy quality in my life at the moment.  Whose eyes do I have?  Have I stepped on ground that any of my ancestors have stood on? I wonder about those people and what they'd think of my life now, if I'm too soft on my kids (most likely, considering the harshness that children were often raised with) or if I have too much leisure time (I do! When compared to farm life in times past).  It's made me appreciate the moments I spend, quietly playing with Jude or walking outside with Soren.  I wonder if the vistas of snow covered fields were anything like they saw.

In an odd way, clicking through generations in a matter of seconds has deepened my understanding of how brief life truly is.  These people lived, died, loved, worried, and then their children did the same.  It's a little scary and sad, but important for me to remember so that I live my life, my moments with purpose and clarity.

I hope your new year is off to a good start too!

November 25, 2023

You'd Better Watch Out

I've gotten myself into a pickle.  As usual, my waffling about a course of action has yet again brought about mixed emotions regarding a certain topic.  This time it's Santa Claus.
We've done the Santa thing for a few years now, including his elves who visit our home each December.  It's fun, certainly, but I've always had some reservations about the Santa charade (click away believers and little kids, you don't want to read the spoilers in the rest of this post).  I'm not opposed to encouraging the belief in magic and fantasy in my kids, frankly, I'd like to nurture that as much as possible in this grim world.  However, Santa Claus to me always seems to symbolize "getting" as opposed to "giving."  Generosity is something I've been having a hard time teaching to my eldest, despite trying to set a good example.

S was making out his Christmas list the other week, as kids are apt to do this time of year.  After listening and talking to him about it, I asked what he'd like to give to his dad, grandparents, uncles and aunts, and to his brother.  It was as if I spoke to the wind; he didn't even hear me at first, and then seemed irritated about it when I prodded the issue a bit. 

Despite a basket full of Christmas books on the topic of giving, peace, and goodwill, the model of charity has not been absorbed into our child.  I'm striving for things to be different this year, somehow, whether it's giving to those in need or just sitting together as a family and reflecting upon our blessings.

To add another complication to the situation, I found out that S doesn't believe in Santa anymore.  In my mind, I had always resolved to tell him the truth when he eventually asked me about it.  I thought it might have been when he was 8 or 9, but it turned out to be just a few weeks ago.  This is where my conflict lies; I thought I was ok with telling him the truth, but the truth is, I feel guilty puffing out that magic.  I try to live an honest, genuine life, so I assumed that by telling him that Santa isn't real would be a way to honor my values, however I'm having regrets.

It's not just Santa Claus that has been on my mind.  I've spoken with Chris about how conflicted about Christmas I am.  I'm not a Christian. I'm not a Pagan/Witch. I do believe in celebrating peace and goodwill towards all living things, and trying to bring some light and joy into these darkest (literally) of days.  I enjoyed this comment on a forum about Non-Christians celebrating Christmas
"Christmas barely had any connection to Christianity except that it was believed, from no sources or facts, that Jesus was born on that day when the exact date of Jesus' birth was unknown. Christmas actually was derived from the PAGAN holidays of Yule and Saturnalia, gift-giving and merrymaking are from Saturnalia; greenery, lights, and charity from the Roman New Year. Saturnalia and Yule were both holidays celebrating the winter solstice. Saint Nicholas was the Christian figure of Santa, however the Santa that we use as a figure is a trademark of Coca-Cola where they had used that version of Santa in advertisements."

I tend to celebrate Christmas more as a way of connecting to my own childhood memories of the season.  My mom especially brought so much joy into our home during Christmastime, and I want to do the same for my boys.  This year, I will continue to bring light and festivity to our home and family, but am also going to make more space for charity and expressing love and gratitude toward those we care about and to those who are in need.

Some of my ideas:
  • Shop for toys for children in need
  • Put together a food box as a family to donate to a local food bank
  • Make special treats for the birds and animals to hang outdoors
  • Create a countdown to Christmas calendar (I hesitate calling it an advent calendar) that focuses on doing something positive for a specific person each day (their names would be in the calendar bags along with a little treat)
  • Create handmade gifts for friends and family
  • Encourage random acts of kindness all month long, including baking treats to anonymously gift to our neighbors

And for those of you whose children know my son, I beg for your forgiveness in advance if he starts filling your child's head with ideas you aren't ready to face.

November 4, 2023

Death, The Companion

This morning, I'm heading to a funeral for Soren's former preschool teacher.  Since her death early last week, I can't seem to get her out of my mind.  She wasn't that old (60) and died suddenly.  It sounds selfish, but I feel as if a part of my past has died, a part of my son's childhood, which I suppose it has. 
It seems the older I get, the more closely aware of death and dying that I am.  Maybe it's having been so close to that cliff, that vulnerable, horrible place last year when my son was hovering between life and death, which has made me truly realize how fragile and unpredictable life is.  I can't watch an episode of Parenthood without bursting into tears.  Does simply having children just do this to you?  I can't even read or watch anything anymore that involves violence or abuse toward children.

Death is on my mind each day, but not necessarily in a morbid sense.  I want to keep it close to me, to guide me in savoring this life and these moments I have with my family and friends.  It's hard to live with sometimes, but I'm hoping that its presence makes this life richer and more fully inhabited by me.

October 30, 2023

In the Realm of the Toddler

The terrible twos.  Jude has entered them, right on time, as he's apt to do (he meets most developmental stages on cue).  Irrational, unreasonable tantrums, wanting to "do it myself!", demanding what he wants, when he wants it, smearing his food all over the table, dumping cups, and constantly turning on the television.  Oh, his love of touching the TV, that's the worst!
Actually, the "terrible twos" all pretty new to me.  Considering that Jude is my second child, you'd think I would have been accustomed to these behaviors, but oddly enough, Soren was surprisingly a much easier toddler, and never quite compared to the classical toddler profile.  He was (and still is) an intense, highly sensitive person, but was not typically prone to tantrums.  Don't get me wrong, he was difficult and full of unbridled energy, which nearly killed me by day's end, but usually he was agreeable.  That is if you could stop him for a moment to redirect him.
Soren at age 2, typical of many of my photos of him.
Soren never had a tantrum if he had to hold my hand while crossing the street, or if I insisted upon feeding him yogurt, or if one of his favorite toys was lost.  In that sense, he was an easy toddler.  I'll elect to NOT remember how he was constantly in motion from pre-sunrise to post-sunset.  And that his favorite activity was destroying toys rather than playing with them.  It made for a tidy home though, as we had to get rid of broken or un-played with toys.

Jude's behavior, though sometimes grating, isn't so daunting to me.  Maybe it's because Soren has worn me in with a groove so deep that it takes a lot to rattle me anymore.  Sometimes I find myself thinking "so THIS is what people mean when they talk about the terrible twos."  I sometimes feel more like an anthropologist, sitting back and observing and remarking about this developmental stage.  To be fair though, Jude is an easy-going child, so I don't think I'm getting the full thrust of toddlerhood, or maybe it's lurking around the corner.

For me, the terrible twos really aren't that bad so far, especially considering the energy and chaos I endured with my eldest.  Bring on the tantrums, Two.  Just please don't break our TV.

September 26, 2023

Good Grief

I'll start off by saying that this is a hard post to write.  It's filled with memories that are difficult to think about, but have been on my mind lately.

It's nearly October, roughly one year since the nightmare that our family went through when my eldest was hospitalized for over two weeks with a staph infection.

Throughout the past year, I'd catch brief moments of grief, like finding a toy that reminds me of that time, or reading a book that I had read to Soren when he was sedated, or even seeing an episode of the Mickey Mouse Club, which always seemed to be on during those long days and nights spent at his bedside.

All year long, I felt that I hadn't fully processed the grief and what had happened.  It's not that was avoiding it, but it was just maybe not convenient to let it all out.  A car ride on the Interstate that goes past the hospital might elicit a few tears, but can I really sob while driving on a three-lane highway with two kids in the back seat?  Or when discovering a bag of burn-related bandages and ointments in a closet when digging for wrapping paper to wrap a birthday present?

I just feel so sad lately, and wonder if the grief has finally, after all these months, caught up with me.  There is something powerful about the change of seasons and its deep association with the events of last fall.  I could hide in swimming pools and sandboxes all summer long, but now that those damned beautiful leaves are upon us, it triggers the memory of watching that small maple tree outside the hospital window change from green to red and then remain a bare silhouette of itself.

I pulled out a few autumn decorations this week and came across a little pumpkin plate I bought in the hospital gift shop, a souvenir of the last days of my son's illness, when we were all eager to come home.  While it's a reminder of the good that came out of the experience (the amazing care and kindness of the doctors, nurses, therapists and staff, and oh yeah, that my son got better), it's still hard at this moment to not focus on the feelings of fear and helplessness that dominated our time in the hospital.  The horror of those first days, the procedures done on him and how ill and not himself that he looked in that hospital bed are forever burned into my memory.

I imagine that this is what grieving is like when approaching the eve of those dreaded anniversaries, when the control one's emotions is relinquished by seasonal reminders of the event. 

So this month is going to be a hard one for me.  I'm considering a project, like an "October Thankfulness" project, where I do something every day, whether large or small, to thank someone in the world for what they do.  I'd like to include a visit to the Pediatric ICU in that project, which I really have been eager to do with Soren, but I'm a little shy about invading such an important and often stressful (for the staff) place.  "Hi, my formerly-ill son and I would like to say hi and bring you bagels.  Oh, and I don't mind chatting while you perform a tracheotomy on an infant!"

But I do think it's important for closure for us to figure out a good time to visit.  And Soren does seem eager to go back and see the hospital again.  As far as we can tell, he has no bad memories of his illness.  A lot of it was that he was intubated and sedated for most of it, but even at the tail-end of his hospitalization he was allowed to watch as much TV and drink as much juice as he wanted, and also got lots of gifts!

There is so much for me to be grateful for, and of course I am.  I have a healthy, thriving son (two of them, actually).  However, there's still a lot for me to digest here, and I'm hoping that upon reaching the other side of this grief, things will seem a lot better and I'll be stronger.  Thanks for listening to my ramblings.

September 16, 2023

Men, Fathers, Writing

Something I have been encouraging my husband to do for a long time has come into our conversation yet again this weekend: starting a blog.  Yes, it's easy to encourage everyone I know to start one (maybe I'm just curious about their inner lives and experiences) however I understand it's hard to get one's feet wet when attempting such a daunting project, at least in the minds of those who haven't even kept any sort of regular diary.
Chris is a good writer, despite his protests.  While it may take him 10 hours to write a paragraph, he has a lot to say.  I can't tell you how many times sitting at the kitchen table I have said "well, if you had a blog, you would totally write about this!"

There certainly seems to be an underserved niche in blogging honestly about fatherhood and what it means to be a man.  The dad blogs I've visited tend to lean to the humorous, wry side of things rather than delving into the meat of the matter (forgive me if I'm just plain wrong; I haven't read all that much of dad/man blogs lately).
Some of Chris' dilemma about starting a blog is feeling that he has too many random things to say (um, sounds a little like my blog?).  But he is frustrated at the lack of men's magazines that are not just advertisements for $400 watches and $1200 pink suits (seriously! He was just flipping through one).

So my question is multi-layered and open-ended.  What do you think actual men you know would be interested in reading about (Duck Dynasty aside)?  Do the men you know read blogs?  Or write them?

September 13, 2023

Emerging from the Depths

Phew!  It's been nearly three full weeks since I sent my eldest off to full-day (!) kindergarten, and I must say there's been a lot more breathing room around here.

Not to say I haven't been busy with playdates and projects, like this embroidered pillow made from an old linen nursing cover,
but a lot of the stress of emotional tugs-of-war have been replaced with a calmer, more orderly household.  I'm not heaping the blame on Soren, but life with one laid-back child is so much more manageable for me.  I have the time and energy to cook meals more leisurely and to even take a walk with Jude without the feet dragging and complaining that accompanies Soren on our strolls. 

While the transition has been really hard for Soren, he's doing better each week.  He is an anxious and intense child, and quite sensitive so these first few weeks have been difficult for him.  His sleep has finally become more restful and he's eating more of his lunch at school.  I did visit him one day this week when volunteering in the school's garden, but it was so upsetting for him and he cried nearly the entire time at lunch.  Heartbreaking, it was.  But he does enjoy riding the bus to school now, and likes his "specials" like fitness, art and music.  And of course his teacher, who is awesome at communicating with parents via email, phone calls and a weekly newsletter.

As for me, I've been lax about posting here, and I'm not really sure why.  I think I get into a rhythm of posting, and then when I lose it, it's hard to get back in.  Plus I always have a lot on my mind and am not sure which topic I'd like to write about.  And that indecision leads to writing about nothing.

I've also been busy trying to refinish our kitchen table and chairs, which were hand-me-downs that clearly have seen better days.
I experimented on table's leaf, and am pleased with the results of sanding, staining, sealing and painting the apron green.
Now to find a stretch of a few hours on the weekend to work on the table and chairs. 

Between canning tomato sauce made from our garden tomatoes
walks on the trail (cue the "Rocky" music)
removing and repairing all the old door knobs in our house
and starting a new knitting project (a lace cowl using gorgeous yarn),
I have no complaints about being bored. In fact, the days still fly by like they usually do.

I'm still settling in, and hope to include updating this blog as part of that new routine.  I hope your late summer days are going well too.

August 28, 2023

Kindergarten Blues

It's been an emotionally trying week here for my newly-minted Kindergartener.
It was to be expected, knowing how hard last year's transition to preschool was.  Despite liking school and telling me that he's eager to go back each day, separation anxiety often gets the best of my son.  Getting him on to the morning bus is a tear-filled event.

"I don't want to be away from Mommy."  "I miss Mommy."  These are his mantras.  And I acknowledge that he is having a difficult time and is sad.  It's a huge transition, for sure, especially that our kindergarten is full-day AND he's riding the bus to school (the bus literally picks up outside our door, it's only a 10 minute ride, and driving him there would be challenging given our one car situation).
My spirited child is having difficulty sleeping at night too. He's already running on a sleep deficit from the past week of early wakings and late nights (despite his early bedtime, he's been taking a long time to fall asleep).  Last night, he was up throughout much of the night, even though Chris slept with him for a few hours he was still tossing and turning.  And again, awake at 5am, scared and worried.  My poor boy.
As his parents, Chris and I just accept that September is going to be tough and that things will get better eventually (they have to, right?) and we just have to wait it out.  But I keep thinking about what I could do differently, could have done differently.  Did I not prepare him adequately for being away from me?  Should I have sent him to a camp or daycare this summer? 

Truthfully, I know it probably wouldn't have worked.  He's always been emotionally dependent on his parents, especially me.  Chris and I often remark that even since birth, Soren has viewed us as his security blankets.  He was never one to take a pacifier, lovey, thumb, or any other kind of self-soothing technique.  We are his comfort, and it's no surprise that he's having trouble adjusting to full days without us. 

Soren is the kind of child whom I'd characterize as intense.  He lives his emotions to the highest level--when he's happy, he's over-the-top elated, when he's angry, oh boy watch out.  So I know this is normal for him to have such an extreme reaction to kindergarten.  I'm just hoping that he's at least enjoying some parts of school and making new friends.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to suck my thumb and curl into a ball myself.  Or at least have one more comforting cup of coffee.

July 29, 2023

I Can't Get No Satisfaction

Lately, I've had this heavy sense of being unsatisfied with the daily routine.  Don't get me wrong, it's not an unhappiness about life or being ungrateful to the bountiful life I lead with these two:
It's more of a sense of personal unease, that I'm on a hamster wheel of laundry, loading/unloading the dishwasher, bedtime routines, and lack of things to talk about with Chris, other than the kids (total First World problem, but it is one nonetheless).

I know raising children and keeping a home is important work, but the thanklessness of this job, and its occasional accompanying sense of drudgery at times gets the best of me.  And by thanklessness, I don't mean that I want my children to appreciate what I do; I think it's just a contrast to previous work, where you had some notoriety and satisfaction in a job well-done.

I've been struggling with a creative urge that is going unanswered, mostly due to lack of time and space to make something.  Knitting is all well and good, but I'm looking to do something else.  And our kitchen table just doesn't accommodate the kind of artwork that requires time to make, like a quilt or a painting.  Meals, play dough, and even races around the table prevent any serious art from happening.  Or even just a therapeutic blog post like this one.

I took a walk yesterday to clear my head. Exercise helps, of course (tell that to my usual splayed-out-on-the-couch self, after putting the kids to bed.  I strolled the neighborhood, and talked with a former professor, who sympathized with my situation. While I didn't walk away feeling marvelously better, it still got me thinking.  While I try to tap into creativity via many avenues (cooking, coming up with ways to entertain the kids, etc.) I don't devote as much to myself, and I really need to carve some time out for that (duh).

While walking, I also had some weird moments, looking at houses that evoked my childhood.  Something about the style of house, a certain degree of shade from the trees, or even the faint lights coming from the windows awoke a sad, nostalgic longing in me.  I don't usually get like this (the past is past, my parents are no longer those of my childhood, but have a different role now, etc.) but for some reason it really made my heart feel heavy.

I determined that the feeling was more of a longing to be taken care of, to have someone else keep me safe, nourished, warm and in the arms of a happy home.  Of course, I do love to provide these things myself, but every so often it would be nice to have someone else care for me again.  Oh, well, that's life.  We never appreciate what we have now.

And maybe that's the sentiment I need to cling onto.  To be here, now, satisfied even if I'm in need of something more.  Is it even possible?

July 6, 2023


My sweet baby Jude is now a two year old.  Predictably, I wondered "how did that happen?"
We celebrated this much-loved little boy with little fanfare, a store-bought chocolate cake and ice cream cake, spruced up a bit with sprinkles by his big brother.
No, that's not a ghost, it's that impossible-to-absorb zinc oxide sunscreen
This milestone snuck up on me, so much so that by the time I remembered it was coming, I had forgotten to plan a party.  We had plans to visit my parents' house in Delaware for a beachy 4th of July week, so I figured that enjoying his birthday with family was the best thing.  Especially when it involved stomping sandcastles with big brother.
We had a nice little tribute to Jude, after pizza for lunch.
Chris and I will also claim the title "worst parents ever" for not even getting him a birthday present, unless you count the balloon (which he LOVES!).  He's 2.  And a second child.  What more can I say.
I'm sure we'll pick up something for him if we come across a toy he'd like.  It's odd, but my kids just don't play with toys much, other than Legos.  We don't even have that many, since they just end up getting dumped out and trampled rather than played with.  But that's a topic for another post.
He was carried into the dining room though, in a princely manner.  We love him so!
(Frankly, it was just easier to carry him, chair and all from the kitchen, where he had just finished his lunch in the booster seat).

Jude was a little shy about all the attention during the "happy birthday" serenade.
But after it ended, he enjoyed having Daddy relight the candle for him to blow out.  "Turn it on!", he'd demand.   And rather than cake and ice cream, he preferred chewing on a pretzel.

We love this little guy and can't wait to see what unfolds in his third year of life.  Happy birthday sweetheart!

June 28, 2023

Summer Survival: Part II

It seems that we're surviving summer around here a little too well: I haven't had time to or felt much like posting.

Days have been spent outside, mostly leisurely, and I've been living up to all the goals I set out to meet this summer (see my last post from nearly a month ago, which is right below this post--ugh).  We've taken a trip to the beach and are planning another soon, as well as having visited some other fun places.
It's been an excellent summer so far, filled with simple pleasures like popsicles, mineral-panning, playgrounds and pools (and yeah, maybe a little extra tv due to some hot days).
It's hard finding the motivation to blog in such distracting (though enjoyable) conditions, especially being so wiped out by day's end.  When I do sit down to devote some time to it, including resizing and watermarking photos for a post, I'm always interrupted.  I've come to the conclusion that the one word I'd use to describe parenting is "interruption."  In fact, just now my train of thought has been derailed as Soren is imploring me to help him find a lost toy.

I have so much that I want to do on MY list, however the kids of course come first.  Hence, there's not much time left to write, craft, paint Soren's bedroom, etc.  But as the years go by, I'm getting more and more accepting of this.  My one worry is that when the kids don't need me anymore, It's going to be a hard transition to having more free time.  Time will tell.

Hope you're enjoying summer!

June 4, 2023

Summer Survival

With one week of official summer vacay from school under my belt, I'm panicking a little about how the kids and I are going to survive the loooooong summer days.  Well, specifically me.  Either I'm going to lose my mind or end up yelling my head off at a certain someone each day.  Who is now a preschool graduate, by the way.
I'd rather not yell or stress-eat myself into an even bigger paunch, so I've been mentally compiling a list of things I want to do with the kids this summer.  It's been a blessing and a curse that Jude needs to nap every day, blessing because obviously it's a bit a break for me, but a curse because we're stuck planning events around naptime, or else skipping the nap all together, which can be disastrous.  And why, pray tell, little man won't you transition from the car seat to the crib when asleep anymore?

I want to engage in activities that are simple, no big day trips to the big city for big meltdowns or the like, but bare-bones summer activities that I remember enjoying as a kid.  Plus, I'm just too lazy to investigate and enroll and taxi the kids to organized activities.  Here's my vague list:
  • Visit creeks and natural bodies of water as much as possible.  Fortunately we have a wade-able creek within walking distance that the boys enjoy playing in, even just with sticks and stones.
  • Go hiking.  Pennsylvania is full of wooded trails filled with wildlife and plants to identify.  I'm also an advocate of walking around one's neighborhood, encouraging the kids to notice things they might not otherwise, like changes in flora and fauna, or if a new neighbor has moved in.  Or rainbows.
  • Play in the dirt, anywhere, not just in the backyard.
  •  Make messy crafts, especially outside.  String up a drop cloth on the clothesline for painting, get out the dyes to tie-dye, or make papier mache sculptures.
  • Do one special trip every other week, like the aquarium, a museum or other venue.  And do it with friends!
What tips do you have for surviving the summer with kids?

May 28, 2023

Creative Destruction

"The urge to destroy is also a creative urge."--Mikhail Bakunin
Chris and I often talk about Soren's love of destruction, even from an early age.  When he plays, he destroys.   It's his favorite thing to do, take things apart, break them, crash them, etc.  Just yesterday, he busied himself with smashing Matchbox cars with a brick and was utterly delighted in this activity.
It's difficult for me to see the creative power in this; as an artistically-inclined person, my natural instinct is to create, as in build, make marks, produce something out of nothing.  Watching him and accepting this destructive impulse is teaching me about different ways to approach creativity.
I remember as a kid having an overwhelming urge to pull all of the flowers off of a bleeding heart bush at my grandmother's house.  Even then, I'm not sure why I did it.  There is a smattering of other memories regarding the urge to destroy, like peeling wallpaper off a wall, tearing at a hole in my clothes, etc. even if these impulses weren't  on the level of Soren's. Why did I do this?

Most likely, it was thoughtless, done out of boredom rather than curiosity.  But in many ways, destruction is a satisfying thing, like peeling bark off of a birch tree, or it can be dramatic and exciting, like watching a watermelon drop from three stories above.  For me, it's rare that the creative acts that I know, like painting or drawing have such a dramatic conclusion as a watermelon shattering to pieces.  Or a snowman, for that matter.
No sandcastle is safe either, as this one proved too irresistible for avoiding stomping on.  Thankfully, the kids who made it were long gone.
Is that what the interest is, the dramatic effect of destruction?  I'm still trying to make sense of it.

The obvious meaning behind Picasso's quote above would seem to be that destruction makes room for more creativity, however it doesn't seem to the be the case with Soren.  He's not interested in rebuilding, other than for the purposes of destroying again.  Maybe he should start dabbling in the "eraser drawing" style of Willem de Kooning.

I think Soren simply enjoys cause and effect, and having power over something physically, which might be where his love of destruction comes from.  I only hope this creative urge can be focused onto an activity or hobby.  If that were to happen, I'm sure Chris and I would be blown away by what he can achieve.
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