Monday, August 30, 2010

Dream with me for a moment, would you?

I have always enjoyed having the babes' play spaces incorporated with the rest of our living space. Having their little kitchen just outside of our kitchen, having a space set up for play in the living room, etc. My thought was that they usually end up in whatever room I am in, so why not have little spaces set up for them?

In our new house, though, we have much more space and toys were s p r e a d i n g everywhere! Downstairs, upstairs, in our room, their room, the living room....AHHHH! I really do try to keep their toys simple and limited, but even so the spreading out of them was just becoming too much. Sooo, a basement play space was created (my mama really encouraged it and I listened!:). The basement isn't finished and so it's hard for me sometimes to see the beauty of it, but for the most part I LOVE IT and most importantly, they do! Yes, some toys do find their way upstairs and that's okay, but it has cut down significantly on the chaos. They play down there A LOT, and also find plenty to do upstairs without gaggles of toys.

I think of this space as their "pre-school room" also, because I think that children learn so,so,so much from creative play. Building, creating, pretending, finding solutions, sharing, cleaning up, interacting and on and on. Their favorite toys right now are stuffed animals, trains, blocks, and their little rubber animals and barn. Amelia doesn't ever play in the kitchen (uh oh, taking after mama) and they don't play with the dress up clothes (except for playsilks) unless friends are over. I have a storage space attached to this basement room where I have just finished organizing extra toys, all of their books (now sorted into categories, I'm a nerd like that), learning games, puzzles etc. I'll show pictures of that soon.

It is still a little weird for me to have them playing away from where I am, and I do spend a lot of time peeking in on them:)
Today I went down and they were in their little boat sitting side by side just talking away. They were taking a trip to a "sandwich shop" and had all of their stuffed animals on board. I ran up to get my phone to snap a picture of them (sheesh, I wonder why I never feel like I get any house work done:). Here are those pictures and a few others. Dream with me for a minute of what the space will look like when it is finished out.

Here is to childhood and creative play:) Jen

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Another one bites the dust...

Amelia hasn't been feeling well for almost a week now:( Fever, chills, low energy, and then sores on her lips and tongue and mouth. Poor little babe, I'm calling the doctor in the morning. Every time she gets sick I think Sammy might escape it because he doesn't start showing symptoms for a while, and then right as she turns the corner towards getting better, he goes down hill. So, I wasn't too surprised when he woke up from his nap today "hot as a firecracker (as my mama would say, and apparently as I say now too:)". This might make for a very long week. Let's hope their pediatrician can help give us some answers and speed these poor babes back to health! Here is Sam in happier times (this morning:), when he found a leaf bug and put it in his bug jar. He was a very happy little guy, until he dropped his jar and it shattered during church. Apparently, he handled it well and some sweet friends helped catch the bug in a plastic cup and clean up the broken glass. Thanks friends!:) Anyway, here are some cute pictures of one of our little bug lovers who happened to be wearing his bug PJ shirt:)

All for now,

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Cutest little tomato picker I've ever seen.

One of the things I will miss about the summer is tomato picking with Sammy. It usually starts with us being outside and him saying, "I need my bakset!" and running inside to get it. Then he sets to work and is oh, so serious about it. Oh that little boy, he just grabs my heart. This evening as he was picking so earnestly he kept saying the cutest things like,

" I like my daddy's tomatoes!"
" I'm a good picker."
" Look at that little guy!"
" Look at all these tomatoes in my bakset!"
"I'm reaching mama, I'm reaching so hard for this tomato."
" This guy isn't red yet."
As a moth flew off of a plant in front of him he said, "Look at that. Isn't that lovely?" Oh Sam. Sammy, Sam, Sam. Can you stay a little ragamuffin three year old with chocolate pudding all over your mouth proclaiming the loveliness of a moth? Can you please, because it just makes my heart burst.

Soaking up these last days of summer,

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Art in the park...

Yesterday was one of those days. Amelia was running fever and weepy and whiney and clingy. Sam did not know what to do without his playmate and was literally bouncing off the walls wanting someone to play with him, namely me. Are you ready for this? Yesterday I actually had the thought, "How do mamas do it without twins?" I am telling you, a glimpse of what it might be like to have one pre-schooler without a playmate made me ultra thankful for their twinness:) All of the hard work and challenges of having two babies is now completely worth it to have two best friend playmates.
Anyway, their neediness just made me shut down. Or I should say, I let it shut me down. I had zero energy or motivation to do anything. "Don't you guys want to watch Kipper again? What? You're hungry? Go get that box of cheerios." Yep, it wasn't pretty.
So, as I was laying it bed last night I vowed to myself that I would not let today be like yesterday.

And it hasn't been. At all. Funny how much power we have over the tone of our days. Amelia still isn't feeling hot. Sam still needed to get some energy out. On this day though, we packed up and went to City Creek park, just a five minute drive from the house. We brought our watercolors and the babes painted and I read and then we read some books together and then went on a little "venture". There was still some whining and clinginess, but there was mostly laughing and walking and talking and fun. We came home and ate lunch and now they're playing in their room for quiet time (Joel doesn't get home until 11ish on Thursdays so I purposefully keep them from taking a nap so they will have a very early bedtime:). I just heard Sam yell, "Mom, I'm having an accident! Mom, I'm having an accident!" So, I jumped up and sprinted in there and said, "Sammy, run to the potty!" He looked up calmly with a little dog in his hand and said, "It's the baby dog talking to his mama." Oh, right. Anyway, all is right in our little world again. Thank the Lord. Hoping next time we hit a bump, I'll choose to set a better tone for our day because it is so much better for us all! Jen

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Mud Pie Kitchens...

Sam and Amelia have been inspiring me so much with their play lately. Their complete and total absorption with the present. No thought of the past, nor the future, just the now. It is the gift of childhood, I guess.

The Mama bird finding worms for her babies, the train track that is built and adjusted and rebuilt, the towers built and knocked down and built again, the soup fixed for an injured animal, the construction projects in the sand box. It is their world, and I stand in wonder of it.

For a while I have been wanting to make an outdoor kitchen space for them. I brought some muffin tins out to the sand box a while back and together with their friend Vera, they made some great "mud muffins" and had wonderful birthday celebrations with them:) Then I saw some mud pie kitchens on Rhythm of the Home that were inspiring, and then found this jewel of a post that pushed me to really get started (this whole blog makes my jaw drop with inspiration and a wee bit of envy:)!

So I started! Just a tree stump and a tub and a crate so far, but it was plenty to get their imaginations whirling. Sammy and JJ were so busy making creation after creation. Amelia made a "gum cake" and then just watched the guys:)

More on their wonderful world of play soon, Jen

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Mornings out.

I love our summer routine that we get into of spending our mornings out and our afternoons in. It is so easy to get out the door in the summer months verses the "layers of clothing, do we have gloves, hats, boots, etc." months that I think internally I just know we have to take advantage of it! Shorts, shirt, flip flops, water and a snack, out the door! We don't even have to worry about diapers now, though we do have to think about having a bathroom handy.

Anyway, out we have gone these past few weeks. It makes the day fly by and provides for lots of adventures. It is also one thing I look forward to while home schooling, going to places in the week day mornings that are crowded on the weekends! I may miss it a bit during the transition this fall when the babes are in pre-school two mornings a week, but I know they will be enjoying their adventures there and I will be enjoying mine! :)

The Children's museum is a 3 minute drive from our house now-yay! We have been going there forever it seems and it is so fun to see the new things they can do each time we go. It is SO easy and fun now compared to when they were younger. No strollers or slings, no tantrums from Sam, no falling off of things, no having to bribe them with a snack to leave peacefully...have I mentioned that I love 3 year olds? Anyway, the museum is such fun and has so many ways for them to explore and learn and just have fun! Sam is so into everything, and Amelia is so into all of the new friends she finds there:)

The aquarium. I think Sammy would live there if we could. We have got to get these children to the ocean! They know so much more about ocean creatures than I do! Before we go, I try to brush up on things by reading our books about the ocean and it's creatures together and I am always so amazed at the things we learn! Oh Sammy, I just love watching you watch the sharks and eels and octopus, etc. Amelia is mostly on the hunt for new friends:)

Of course, we always love a trip to the farm (although this one ended with poopy underwear which was not fun)...

and to our beloved Liberty Park, which is where we went on this cloudy morning and had a fabulous time with Anne and Vera...

Now it is rainy and cool and perfect weather for an afternoon snooze. I'll write soon about what we've been doing during our afternoons at home:) All for now, Jen

Monday, August 16, 2010

It isn't always glamorous.

Maybe I should rephrase this and ask, "Is it ever glamorous?" Motherhood that is. Well, my morning certainly was not, and I just want to write down all of these events that happened this morning to remember how funny and gross and decidedly not glamorous motherhood can be.

Let's start with last night. We all just piled in our bed to go to sleep after the babes got home with Joel from a late night out (on a hiking trip that included sightings of a raccoon, two moose, squirrels, and salamanders! ) I was soooo sleepy after a long sunny day manning our yard sale. Anyway, I was drifting off and Amelia says, "Jesus died." "Oh gosh," I think to myself, "I should take this opportunity to expound on why Jesus died." I started saying, "Yes, Jesus did die. It's complicated, but he is alive now and lives in heaven...." but Sam interrupted with, "Jesus died and Johnny Cash died too." Amelia piped up with, "Yes, Johnny Cash died and now he can't talk." Their conversation continued and then we had to tell them to stop kicking each other and that was the end of that.

Then, there was this morning. More throw up in the bed from Amelia (she only does this at night and we can't figure out why). Yay! I take a shower, get out and go out to get started on some laundry before the babes woke up. I went into the guest room and as I was walking through the doorway I stepped in more throw up- yay! I still haven't figured out why she was in the guest room in the middle of the night. Maybe Joel knows. After thoroughly washing my foot and the carpet, I went to get some clothes out of the dryer. The clothes included some shorts that Sam had pooped in. As I pulled the laundry out I could swear that I smelled poop on the clothes. "It's just your imagination", I thought, "you rinsed out the shorts lots before putting them in the wash". So, I chalked it up to my imagination and slipped a shirt on and folded the rest. Yes, I did.

Babes woke up, got everyone dressed and fed and in the van (borrowed from our friends who our out of town. I love it. It just feels right to drive a mini-van. It feels like a work vehicle.) Anyway, the van was full of donations leftover from our yard sale to take to Goodwill. Proceed to Goodwill while singing "Five little ducks went out to play, over the hill and far away..." with Raffi at the top of our lungs.

Drop off boxes and proceed to home of "Jen", a craigslister who I was buying a toddler/twin bed for for Sam to match Amelia's! Yay! I have always wanted matching beds for their room and will eventually need the crib when our babe comes home. She and I manage to wrangle the bed in the van and tie the back door closed with a really thick shoelace. I hope we don't have a major accident on the way home. I also hope she can't smell my poopy smelling shirt. Thankfully we made it home with no incidence.

Promised kids we would go to Chick-fil-a today, which is a good thing because we have no groceries and I don't feel up to going to the store (I'm spoiled because Joel does almost all of the grocery shopping). We head back out. We walk into Chik-fil-A and order and then sit down. Amelia proceeds to ask me if God has a scrotum.
"Did you just ask if God has a scrotum?"
"Um, I don't think so Amelia. God doesn't have a body like ours. I think I better go get some napkins."

The big cow comes to our table and Sam's complete surprise and awe when he looks up and sees him makes me teary.

While eating ice cream Sam tells me that "ice cream is like winter." I deem the statement brilliant and give him a big hug.

We go to the play area. A dad comes over and sits next to me and immediately declares that "it stinks in here." I am now 100% sure my shirt smells like poo and shuffle the kids out as quickly as possible. Sam pees in the little potty I brought in the van and we drive home, with me hoping the pee doesn't slosh out in our friend's van (Stephanie, if you ever read this, it did not slosh out!). We sing "Shake, shake, shake our sillies out..."with Raffi at the top of our lungs to keep the babes awake until we get home.

We get home with them awake. Success!

I retrieve all of the folded clothes from dressers, take off my shirt, put them all back in the washer on a two hour sanitary cycle with an extra rinse and put the kids down for a nap.

Now I am off to take another shower and get some beans out of the freezer to defrost and make some cornbread for dinner. Oh, and then wash our throwupy sheets and Sam's new sheets.

Such is the funny, gross, unglamorous life of this mama--and I honestly wouldn't trade it for anything in the world.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

A little glimpse:

It amazes me how much a glimpse at Sam and Amelia's interaction can reveal about them. I gave them some shells that I got at a yard sale yesterday and grabbed the video camera because I knew they would love them. They did and played for a good long time with them and I was so glad to capture this little conversation (once you press play, double click the video to make it bigger so that you can see Sam:)
I hope this little clip will help me remember as the years go by:
* How much I love to hear their little polite, "Thank you Mena!" "Your welcome". Music to a mama's ears.
* How Sammy can hear the ocean through every shell;) His imagination is rich.
* How much they are intruiged by the ocean and all of it's creatures. We are all craving a trip to the beach!
* How they are more and more "wanting to be alone" as Amelia puts it.
* How excited Sammy gets to show us things.
* What a sweet listener Joel is.

I wish I could just bottle these moments up. How I love these children, Jen

P.S. They are saying both coral and cool in the video, sometimes it's hard to distinguish:)

Friday, August 13, 2010

Oh my.

I get to go to go on a trip at the end of next month. BY MYSELF. TO OREGON. BY MYSELF. MY DEAR FRIEND ELIZABETH WILL BE THERE. WE ARE GOING TO A CONFERENCE. I'm sharpening all of my pencils tonight. I'm going to buy several little pads of all sizes of sticky notes. Oh, I hope we get lots of hand outs to write notes on. I'm a little bit excited. Especially because the conference is about so much what I want for my family.

To Simplify.

Is any body out there a Passionate Homemaker blog reader? Well, that's where I first read about the conference, because she is leading one of the sessions about Missional Homemaking. Oh man, I immediately was like, "I must go to this." That coupled with my forever desire to visit Oregon, and a chance to visit Elizabeth, and the absence of conferences in my life since having children (I mean, what's not to love? You just sit there and gain wisdom and get new materials and, did I mention, you just sit there:), and feeling ready to feed my spirit a bit. All that together just made it nearly impossible not to go. Joel immediately agreed, that sweet man, and pushed me to find out more. Then my friend Anne was like, 'Jenny, you have to go!" and that pushed me even further. So, Lord willing, I will be there.

Watch out conference women, it's been a long while since this mama has been completely on her own. I may talk your ear off about who knows what. Just a little warning.

All for now, Jen

[ A disclaimer: Just because I am going to a conference with simple living, whole foods, worshipping Jesus as we clean type topics, does not mean this is my current life. It is indeed what I strive for, but I am a long way from being where I would like to be. In fact, in all honesty, I was looking through the conference topics on the internet on my phone and was zoning in on the one about simplicity and wholesomeness in our food choices and then was hit with the irony that I was currently in the drive through lane at Burger King while delighting in the thought of sitting in that session. Ahem, enough said. ]

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Our happy little mess.

The messier, the better in her mind (and made apparent through her actions:). Joel made a comment yesterday as we watched her rub paint all over her body, that the only way she could be happier in that moment was if she were "standing naked in mud sucking on a lollipop while she painted". So,so true. Our mess loving, mud loving, sweets loving little Amelia.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

"I'm a man!", he says as he climbs to the top of the ladder. :)

Friday, August 06, 2010

Confessions of a yard sale junkie: Homeschool resources edition.

Man, I have many posts I could write about yard sale/ thrift finds of late. I must narrow my thoughts though, because lately I have so much I want to write about that I don't write about anything (except for potty training, which has been pretty much a breeze with Sam!). So, without further ado, here is a yard sale memory I didn't want to forget:)

I was out early a couple of weeks ago and took a break to look on Craigslist to see if any new yard sales had been posted. I saw a new one that said something about being a retired teacher and having lots of educational materials. Ding, ding! I was right in the area and zoomed over. The lady, Gisela, was so kind and was from Germany and i knew it was going to be good (I am telling you, Germans and Europeans in general, have the best yard sales!). She had wonderful, quality children's books, educational games, lots of laminated pictures and posters, and most everything was about nature! Um, I was in heaven. She asked if I was a teacher and I said that, yes, I was planning on teaching my children at home (though they are going to be in pre-school two mornings a week in the fall, but more on that later:).I could tell she was a bit disappointed, as she had imagined her all of her hard work and meticulous lessons going on to another classroom (plus I think she was a bit skeptical about home schooling. Isn't it still illegal in Germany?), but she soon warmed up and was eager to help me come up with ideas on how to use her fabulous materials with Sam and Amelia and our friends.

Here is a sampling of what I purchased. Everything, including some beautiful posters and lots more books and games, was $25. One of my favorite yard sales of all time.

This is one of many,many laminated pictures. Most have descriptions of the pictures cut out and glued to the back of the picture. So meticulous, I tell you. I am going to put a bunch around Sammy's bed, as he just can't get enough of them and a some downstairs in the play/school room.

This Smithsonian's Backyard series is great. We have several that I have found at thrift stores and the babes just love them. I wouldn't pay full price for them, but keep your eyes open when you're thrifting (I think we are up to five now, all from thrift stores and yard sales)!

These little sets of cards (and there are several more sets) are so great and I have lots of ideas for them. They have been matching them, and later they can sort them, and practice drawing them, sooo many uses! Tonight they just spread them all out and oohed and awed over them, "Looook Dad, it's a sea otter!"

So many wonderful, useful treasures! I'm thankful. Jen

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Mud, mud, mud

It makes their world go round:) And in potty training news: Day 4 came and went with no accidents at all! Amazing. Still haven't ventured into the great big world, with clothes on:), but I'm thinking we'll wait a few more days. Way to go sweet boy!

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Day 3: Total goodness.

I promise not to write about potty training the rest of my days, but it is quite the overwhelming task and my brain can't fit much else in while it is going on--so lucky you, you get to read about it!:)

I'll just quickly say that today was back to amazingness. No accidents until after 7pm, when he was just done and so was I and he had two in a row. Otherwise, he did great. I just let him go naked for the most part and when I see him squirming I just make a vaugue statement like, "If anyone needs to use the potty, it's right here!" Sometimes I don't even need to....he just says "I have to go pee pee" and runs to the potty!! I have to be with him pretty much all the time so I can remind him, so I still feel really tired...but this is nothing compared with Amelia. For one thing, he holds it much, much longer than she did and also he is not terrified by poop and already goes in the pot--woo hoo! We didn't even use treats today, and nothing was mentioned about them. Still doesn't like wearing underwear and all of his accidents have been when he is wearing them pretty much. So, I'm trying not to push it for now.

So, go Sam go!

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Today was bad.

Just plain bad. Total reversal from the amazing success that was yesterday.There was me carrying him down the sidewalk while he thrashed around kicking and screaming and crying, and then him literally falling into the toilet and thinking he would get flushed down. Fun stuff. We ended on a high note though with lots of giggles and a successful pee pee, so we head into tomorrow hopeful for a better day.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Mid-day report...

It's almost too good to be true...he is doing GREAT!!! He didn't respond well at all to the" every fifteen minute reminder to sit on the pot method" that I used with Amelia, but is doing awesome with his own "every thirty minutes tell mama that I feel it coming and run to the potty and go" method! I will take that over the stress filled horror that was was the first few days of training Amelia! He even went poo poo in the potty on his own and though he was obviously a little distressed about it, about 98% of it made it into the potty!

Amelia is such a help. She is needing to go frequently as she is drinking a lot of lemonade too, and so he follows her lead a lot. They are also playing with their animals a lot doing role play about going to the bathroom, which is quite amusing:)

It's funny because neither of mine have been super motivated by treats or praise or anything, really. It's like they do it just because they know they need to/ have to and then go on with life. Neither ask for treats after they go, but sometimes are motivated by them to sit down. Just an observation (because I will forget immediately if I don't write it down).

Oh, Sam does not like putting on, pulling down his that will be a challenge. Any tips? I am mostly letting him go without for now.

Better run, bath time is ending! Jen
An hour and a half, one juice box, lots of water, several trial runs, and plenty of whining later and we have our first success ! The great thing was that he could feel it coming, told me, and then ran to the potty and went ! Go Sammy Go!

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Tomorrow is a special day...

It is Sammy's "Potty Day!"

That's right folks, it took me almost exactly a year from the day I started potty training Amelia to start training Sam. It's because I am dreading it. Though Amelia did great overall, there are always bugaboos. Like her and poo poo and how it has only been a couple of months that she has been going poop in the potty without it terrifying her. I dread bugaboos. I dread days like this...


I dread staying home for a week. I dread cleaning up accidents. I dread being on edge those first weeks in public. I dread. I dread. Wow, this post is a real drag. Let's change the tone!

We have lots of fun things for tomorrow! Juice boxes! Yogurt covered raisins! Stickers! Animal crackers! Thomas underwear! Woo hoo! This means no more buying diapers! No more (well, except for nap and nighttime for a while) washing diapers!

So, I have postponed it long enough. He is a baby no longer and mama needs to help him with another step towards independence. So, here we go:) I'll keep you updated, Jen