Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Constant re-arranging

I am forever trying to strike the perfect balance between giving the girls the play space they need and still leaving a pleasant looking and relatively spacious living space for everything else. Today when I was the working parent at Iris's school I was eyeing up the floor to ceiling bookcases filled with pretty jars, boxes and baskets full of art supplies, puzzles, mirrors, baubles, you name it. I love looking at this bookcase and can only imagine the wonder it holds from a child's point of view.

The creaky gears in my head started spinning about how to re-create it in our home. At first I thought "oh, I'll have to go to IKEA to get a new bookcase!" and then "I'll need baskets and jars and and and and" and, well, you get the idea. I was about $400 in debt on this project within moments of conceiving it.

When we got home from school I scoped out the girl's play space I realized I could put the top two shelves on the shelving unit that I'd only set up the bottom two on. Then I could dig out of the Goodwill box the mis-matched drinking glasses I was going to give away eons ago (yay for procrastination!). I filled the glasses with colored pencils and markers by color family. I dragged out two unused milk crates and filled one of them with all of the painting supplies (the other is currently empty, in wait for new art supplies). I dragged out all of Iris's rolls of tape and but them in a box together, I filled a small vase with Iris's various beads and gem stones. It is all coming together so nicely! AND-- NO money spent. I am so proud of myself! I really hope it's going to encourage the girls to do more art projects because they won't have to dig through bins to find all of their art stuff. It also gave us a ton of space for filling with new project supplies, which I have been wanting to get, but was never sure where I would put. Of course, I keep wondering if we can pull off giving them art supplies from Santa? Hmmm . . . .

On that note, I asked Iris what she wanted for Christmas. She said "whatever Santa brings me" so I said "well, if you could ask Santa to bring you something, what would it be?" and she said "whatever he wanted!" Art supplies it is!

If the world could vote?

I wanted to share this link with you all:


Very interesting, no?

I remember four years ago seeing a picture of a world map and the whole world was blue except for the United States and the caption was "Kerry wins!". That is what this website reminded me of.

Vote, people!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Saturday Shmaturday

Today we took the girls trick-or-treating on Greenwood Avenue in Seattle. I am in love with the fact that they have this event during the day on a Saturday so we don't have to go out at night on Halloween if we don't want to. Of course, we still will! We're candy hoarders :)

Iris was a Sonics cheerleader, though I tried to convince her to be a dead Sonics cheerleader (har har). She wasn't feeling it, though. Eloise was a frog. The same frog Iris was two years ago. Ah, the beauty of being second born! Matt and I? No costume. I am generally against family costume themes but we saw a family of four dressed as Kiss and my god, that was genius. They all looked amazing, too. The girls got a decent amount of candy. Not an insane amount, but enough to get them through, oh, a day. At one point Eloise left her trick-or-treat bag in a store, we didn't discover it until a block away, but Dada was to the rescue! He got it back and she was slamming down Smarties again in no time.

After trick-or-treating Iris and I with headed up with friends to B.F.E. to see my friend Julia's horse, Girlfriend. Girlfriend was gorgeous and lovely but apparently hates cameras. And new people. And children. And, well, she hated me especially and wasn't interested in letting me ride her. She did let Iris ride her and I was so impressed by how comfortable she was on the back of a horse! She rode a horse at my friend's farm the summer before last and was equally as comfortable. For someone who is so fearful of everything, this is HUGE. I wonder if she's interested in learning more about horses? Oh dear god I hope not, as driving that far out to ride horses would drive me to insanity! It was really cool to see all of the horses, though. I hope we will get to go again at a time Girlfriend is interested in letting me ride her!

Tonight I mixed up a batch of cookie dough from my Grandmother's secret recipe. These cookies, her sugar cookies, are my absolute all-time hands down favorite cookie. Not only are they delicious, but every time I eat one I'm instantly transported back to being 8 and at my Grandma's house for Christmas. Tomorrow our friends are coming over for a little Halloween fun and we will have the kids cut out cookies and then frost the baked ones. It should be fun. Or messy. Or likely very much both. I'm looking forward to it!

And here are some pictures of how much fun the girls had at dinner last night. I've decided that as long as the girls are happy and are not fighting, they can do whatever the hell they want. So they did.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Oh damn. I'm a helicopter mom!

I have become what I have always despised. A helicopter mom. In case you don't know what this is, it's a mom who hovers over her children during play, ready to swoop in and direct things at any given moment.

Now, in my defense, I do this with Eloise purely out of the concern for the safety for other children. I don't tell Eloise what to do unless it involves her or some other child's imminent safety. However, to other people, I probably look like I'm just hovering above her not giving her the space the needs. Blech.

Last week at the playground someone recommended to me I check out toddler gym time at the local community center so my friends and I could sit and relax while the kids play. Um, yeah, riiiiight. There is nothing at all relaxing for me about letting my children play in a playroom! Even with Iris, who didn't try and beat the crap out of other children when she was a toddler, was still watched very closely because on more than one occasion she was smashed over by other kids. Presumably their parents were under the mistaken impression that toddler gym time was actually a good time to sit and relax while their little darlings took out other kids like it was each child for himself in there. Annoying.

So, the point of this whole post is, I'm taking Eloise to an open gym this morning. Wish us luck.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Our first chapter book

Tonight I started reading Pippi Longstocking to Iris. The new version, the one pictured above. The reason I specifically chose this book is that there are a few illustrations thrown in here and there by Lauren Child, who illustrates Charlie and Lola . We will do one chapter a night for 11 nights. So far she seems interested, though did express her preference for "the books with the paintings that have words on them". Yeah, yeah. Pippi is such a fascinating character, though, so I hope it is enough to hold her attention. If not, we'll try again in a little while.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Ah, the weekend

I always, always look forward to the weekend. Getting to spend more time with Matt is the absolute number one thing I look forward to. I miss him alot during the week, actually, so the weekend is seemingly a great time to catch up with him. Except you know what? I usually don't get to spend much more time with him on the weekend than I do during the week.

Yesterday I made a trip to Target (my last, EVER, trip to Target-- long story. Hate them.). Then when I got home, Matt ran took Eloise swimming. Then it was lunch and nap. Then his hair cut. Then friends here for pizza night. And friends here. And friends here. Until bed time. Since we don't share a bed, it's apart all night too. Boo.

This morning when we got up it was time for me to get MY hair cut. Before I left I made a deal with Iris that if she was gentle with her sister until I got home from my hair cut we could go to the pumpkin patch. Well, not three minutes later Iris kicked her and lost her privilege of going. Tears ensued, but you know what? We stuck to or guns. But you know what that meant? I had to with Eloise alone. I got lost going there and it took over an hour. Then we mingled amongst the throngs of camera-wielding parents at the pumpkin patch, came home pumpkin-less (you know you're in a Seattle-area pumpkin patch when the pumpkins are selling for up to $14 a piece!). We did get a chance to relax a bit after that. As a family. We took a long walk and played at the playground and ate some of Matt's delicious home made chicken soup for dinner (best hubby ever, right?).

Of course, Sunday night is here once again before I ever had a chance to really relax in to the weekend. We are looking forward to Matt's birthday this week. We are going to drive over to his work and pick him up and go out to dinner at one of his favorite Japanese places. Should be lots of fun! Next weekend is some trick-or-treating up the street. Of course, we'll trick-or-treat on Halloween, too. Hey, we're greedy! Should be really fun, though.

Friday, October 17, 2008

When Iris was the age Eloise is now . . .

. . . . she became a big sister. As of yesterday, actually, Eloise was officially one day shy of 26 months old, the exact same age her big sister was the day she was born. I will always remember Iris being such a big girl. So mature and ready to be a big sister. In contrast, Eloise seems like such a baby. She is so much more needy than her big sister. Still needing lots of help to fall asleep, to attend to all of her, um, issues. In many respects she is much more independent, but I still see her overall as much less mature than her sister was at that age. Of course, with Iris, I had to see her as more mature. There was a baby coming! She had to be the big sister whether she was ready to be or not. I had to see her in that light. My attention was focusing on a new little being. Eloise, however, will now forever be my baby. There will be no more kids in our future. She will be my baby just as I am my mother's baby, even though I am 31 years old.

I have never once since Eloise's birth had even the slightest inkling that I wanted another child. Every day I struggle with the two I've got. Wondering when it gets even the slightest bit easier. When my girls will actually play well together, stop beating on each other, stop screaming at each other, etc etc? I was admiring my sister's boys when I was in Milwaukee, how well they get along and how little they fight. My sister reminded me several times that her boys are 5 and 8, worlds away from 2 and 4. Yes, I will just keep reminding myself. I suppose my biggest fear is that when they are, say, 6 and 8, the fighting will still be there, just much more violent and escalating as they grow older and bigger and stronger.

I have really enjoyed saying goodbye to all of the baby stuff in our home. Passing along clothes and other baby items, just getting rid of the things we will never again use. I get excited thinking about next year, with Iris in kindergarten full time and Eloise in preschool four mornings a week. About growing past that stage where I am needed 24/7. About becoming more of a person separate from being a mother. I talk to Matt about what I will do with myself when I have more time, will I get a job? Doing what? What can I even do? What do I even want to do? Matt, being the world's most amazing husband and father, has told me that I should take this opportunity to do something I would really love, regardless of how much money it brings it. Imagine the possibilities! No, really, imagine them. Because I can't. So please, if you can imagine a few for me, let me know! My brain can't even wrap my head around what to do this weekend let alone what to do for a *gasp* career. Or even just a job.

Iris has a friend over today, a boy from school. Their little sister's go to school together on Friday mornings and the boy's mom brought Eloise in today while I watch him. He and Iris are playing so well together, they have been for an hour and a half, that I have showered, blogged, read emails, it's like heaven. I have listened intently on their conversation, interjecting only when Iris gets overly bossy ("pretend you are the brother, okay? You be the brother." "No." "No? But you have to be!" ad nauseum). I was thinking of dragging them out of the house to do something fun, but I am not sure if I should interrupt their imaginative play. Hmmm.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Long weekend

This past Thursday morning my dear friend Julie picked me up at 4:30 am to take me to the airport for my 6 am flight to Milwaukee. I wasn't sure what possessed her to volunteer for such an early morning gig, but she certainly is a sweetheart and a wonderful friend.

Besides being beyond tired, I enjoyed travelling. It was nice to be so relaxed on the trip and not all freaked out about keeping the girls entertained. I slept, read a book, listened to music, looked out the window. Ahhh . . .

My weekend was full of relaxing, spending time with family and eating and drinking to excess. One of the highlights included my eight year old nephew's soccer game on Saturday morning. I swear, little kids running around a soccer field, half excited, half a little scared, they were adorable! My sister and I went out with a friend on Friday night and stayed in with some close girlfriends of hers on Saturday night. We had so much fun.

It was just so much fun to just be away from my regular responsibilities for a sort while. The easiest thing about leaving was knowing that Matt would absolutely have everything covered. I knew he would be super dad and take care of everything the girl's would need. I know how much the girls adore him and they wouldn't miss me a bit because he would be there with them.

I was glad to get back home on my birthday, though. We all missed each other and it was fun to have a little celebrating to do on Sunday.

So now I've hopped back in to the usual schedule rejuvenated. I have more energy, more patience, more excitement. All because of one little weekend away. Hmmm. Maybe I need to do this more often?

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Older and, hmmm, wiser?

I woke up this morning in Milwaukee, at my sister's house, at the ungodly hour of 4:30. Off to the airport for my flight home from a short get-away. I suppose the one nice thing about coming back to Seattle on my birthday is that I get two more hours to celebrate! Or, well, sleep, as will be the case with me this evening. I thought I could keep my eyes open until The Girls Next Door was over, but alas, I think I will be missing it tonight.

Matt, his mom and the girls picked me up at the airport today and then we headed straight to the store to get me my birthday present-- a new camera!!!!!!!!!!! It's the one I wanted, but I couldn't resist looking it up online and I found a cheaper price, so I will probably be a total cheapskate and return the one we got to save a few bucks :)

The girls picked out a gift for me (animal print head bands) and made me a sweet card. They brought out the cake in the afternoon, complete with a "3" and "1" candle and sang to me. And then we ate too much cake. Yum!

Dinner tonight was at Julia's on Queen Anne. It was nice, but the girls were sass-tastic. We likely won't be returning any time soon. Oh, well.

I had a great long weekend in WI, as well. Will blog about that as soon as I'm a little more awake!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

What came first?

At story time today. As I was emailing this picture to Flickr from my phone Eloise clobbered the little guy on the left over the head.

I am leaving at the ungodly hour of 4:30 am for a solo trip to see family and friends in WI for a long weekend. This trip could not have come at a better time, but today I was thinking, what came first-- being so stressed out that I needed a get-away or having a get-away made everything else seem more stressful! I swear, though, 4:30 am could not come fast enough. This past week has been one of those that has made me really, really want to go out and get a job. ANY job, just to get out of the house more. I have done a few nights of solo parenting in the past week and wow, yeah, it's for the birds. Further proof that single parents are cut from a special mold that I am no part of.

Sigh. I keep telling myself I need to find the good stuff under the stress, and I try hard, but alot of days I set my sights on that magic time of the night when both of the girls are asleep and I am zoned out in front of the tv or computer, just soaking in our clean and quiet home.

Eloise is in a hard phase right now where she refuses to let go of night nursing, is taking very short naps, and is basically doing the opposite of everything I ask her to. Case in point, during clean up time the other night she sat on the rug and furiously ripped up a paper in a to a million tiny pieces. I want to be patient, to use all of the gentle parenting tricks up my sleeve, but mostly, I just want to be able to actually get something done without having a billion obstacles in my way. In order to get the bathroom floor clean today without the girls killing each other I had to stick them both in the bath tub. They still attempted to kill each other, but at least I was right there instead of imagining the horrors that were occurring in the other room.

Next week is a new week, though. I will officially be a year older. I will be home from some seriously needed mama time, and I know FOR SURE that my children will become perfectly behaved angels while I am away. Sure of it.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Mommy blogger

The Seattle Times wrote a piece on mommy bloggers.

Well, I survived another short stint of solo parenting! I am getting better and better at it, at least psychologically. It still leaves me really drained, but I'll take that over extreme anxiety any day.

Tonight we had some good friends over for pizza and apple/blueberry crisp, all home made by yours truly. We're trying to get friends to come over every Saturday to share pizza night with us, so far we've had two, we're off to a good start! It often feels like we're so secluded from friends and like it's so hard to make time to see people, so this is a perfect solution for us, I think.

Yesterday I was the working parent at Eloise's preschool. She only goes three hours a week, but it's alot of fun and the one sort of social outlet that she has during the week. We've had some struggles with her being really rough with the other children in the school-- pulling hair, pushing, hitting, scratching, you name it. Everything except biting, which is good! But yesterday? Yesterday she was a dream! Only one episode where she tried to hit another child and I saw it coming because the other child took a toy from her, so I stopped the hitting mid-swing. The kids played with a mixture of cornstarch and colored water for their art time and although it was a monster of a mess to clean up, holy cow did they have so much fun. All of their eyes were getting SO big!

On Thursday I leave for a solo trip to WI! I am so darn excited I can hardly stand it. I told my sister that she needs to teach me how to bake bread while I am there, as it was my New Year's resolution this year and I still haven't learned. Although I did learn to make pizza dough, so that's something, right?

Off to rest my aching full belly. On our new couch. Oh, our new couch. I want to run off to Mexico with it and live forever on it's velvety cushions. It's a fantastic couch.