Sunday, June 21, 2009

Random brain dump

A couple of things:

On Thursday "Auntie" Julie came by with a birthday present for Iris. It was a super cute tiny pony (pegasus? unicorn?) in a little pink purse, in other words, the absolute perfect present for Iris. After she opened it, Eloise turned to Julie and said "good one Julie" with impeccable inflection. This kid is TWO. Two!

Also, if you're in the Seattle area, make sure to check out the area beaches on Monday the 22nd or Tuesday the 23rd! Beach naturalists will be on hand to explain the cool stuff you'll find. Schedule HERE of when/where the naturalists will be. Note to self: figure out how to get that gig! I think that would be SO much fun to know all of that stuff and be able to talk to people on the beaches.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

There is now a five year old in my house. Gulp.

We have had such an insane week (details HERE if you're interested) so I haven't taken the time yet to post about Iris's birthday.

I can't believe she's five now. CAN. NOT. BELIEVE IT. Her fifth birthday was also her last day of playschool, and the toddlers were also invited to come that day, so Iris, Eloise and I spent the first half of the day playing with friends. At the end of the day all of the parents came to school for an end of the year gathering, so EVERYONE was there to sing "happy birthday" to her. I started crying, it was the sweetest moment. She also had a birthday party this past Sunday, but maybe it was because she actually wasn't five yet, it just didn't hit me the same way.

Without further ado, here is a flashback of Iris's life thus far:
Iris just after birth.

On her first birthday.

Second Birthday.

Third Birthday.

Fourth Birthday,.

Fifth Birthday.

Oh, my sweet little girl. I adore her so much. She is so smart, so sweet, so funny, so happy. She for sure has a temper and gets crazy angry in the blink of an eye, but I find as she matures, it gets easier for her to control it (lord knows I've been working on it for over 30 years!). She has an amazing sense of personal style as well as being incredibly creative. She loves singing, dancing, drawing, playing computer games, building with legos, playing with her stuffies and polly pockets, sliding down the pole at the playground, oh, so, so many things. he wonder of a just-turned five year old. It's endless.

Iris is absolutely my heart walking outside of my body. My first born. My love.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Tears a flowin'

Tonight was my very last parent meeting at the school that Eloise and Iris both attend. Iris has been there for two years and Eloise for one. It was an interesting meeting. Hot-button issues came up that we all tried to hash out, mostly without anyone saying what they really wanted to say, I think. The other part of the meeting was that the two teachers, one for Eloise's program and one for Iris's, presented us all with photos of our kids from their time at the school. Since it is such a tiny school-- maybe 13 families total between the two programs-- we all got to go around and share thoughts on our child's, an our own, growth during our time there. This is when we all got a little blubbery.

Iris is just about five and has spent two years at this school, that's a huge chunk of her life. When she first started I thought I had found a nice little school, not thinking too mch about the impact that it could have on our lives. We had left a school that had very little support and wasn't at all a good fit for our family, so the best I was hoping for at that point was a school I didn't hate that had parents I actually liked. I had NO idea. For the first year I actually didn't feel all that connected to the other families, but I still felt a sense of fitting in there. Like it was the right place for us. I connected well with the teacher and the director and had tons of support from both of them, so it was fine. Most of our issues with Iris were outside of school-- especially her relationship with her sister.

The following year, though, which was this past one, was really intense. The year got progressively more difficult for Iris at school. She had alot of issues with some of the other kids at school and kid's seemed to get more intense. We went through a hard struggle for a while this past late winter/early spring where Iris was refusing to go to school, freaked out when she got there, it was really hard. I thought for a while that maybe we needed to pull her out, but never was too serious about it. I am glad that idea never took flight, because the issues have worked out and she's been doing great now that the year is winding down. We've made some great friends there, as well. I had finally figured out how to set up playdates and all that good stuff after, oh, almost two years!

Eloise, on the other hand, has done nothing but absolutely grow and blossom in her once a week program. At first she had to have a buddy with her because she would hit kids, push kids, pull hair, basically be a huge bully. They worked and worked with her and eventually she grew out of it. It's been a while since I have gotten a report of a day where she has hurt someone else, which is very exciting. She has really delighted her teacher and the other parents. Everyone has stories about the funny things they have witnessed Eloise do! Even tonight at the meeting when we went around the table, several parents mentioned Eloise in their memories of their own child in school. There are definitely feelings of sadness that they won't have her at the school next year, which is soooo sweet to hear.

We're so incredibly lucky that we've had this school for two years, to help guide our children through some tough stuff. I feel pretty sad to be leaving this community, but I do keep reminding myself of the amazing school we're going to be joining. It's good change. Hard, but good. Sigh.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Aha moment

On Monday night I had the pleasure of spending several hours with some little friends of ours. They are the same ages as Iris and Eloise and go to school with the girls as well. Their mom and dad were going out for the night and I was excited to babysit because these kids are the sweetest, kindest, smartest kids and are always a pleasure to be around.

Later that night their mom drove me home (just like when I babysat in high school!) and was telling me about a situation that happened with her five year old earlier that day where she totally lost her cool and how upset and guilty she felt about it. When I got home Matt told me about feeling upset about yelling at Eloise about something she had done. It was upsetting to him that he had yelled, but also felt like at times, yelling is the only way to get through to the girls.

I sat and thought about it for a bit, and it seems like many parents I know have trouble yelling "too much" (I say it like that because it seems most parents have a very different idea of what is acceptable in their home). Many of those parents also had parents in their homes growing up who were yellers, as well. With this knowledge, I hit a bit of an "aha moment" and wrote this on Matt's facebook page yesterday morning:

Sorry for the novel, but I thought this would be nice to post here:My "aha" moment this morning was this: Was there another way for adults in YOUR life to get through to YOU without yelling when you were a kid? What other ways do you wish they would have tried connecting with you instead of yelling? How did their yelling "work"? (ie did it just make you mad/scared so you did what he asked or did it make you say "hey wow they are really showing they care about me so I am going to do what they are asking!")

Just put yourself back in your kid body, on the receiving end of that yelling. Then see what kinds of things you feel would work better.

Also, keep in mind: our goal as parents isn't just to get our kids to do what we want them to IN THE MOMENT but rather to have them learn the skills to become productive members of our family and society. We don't want to win the battle just to lose the war, so to speak?

I feel like I really stumbled on something here, for myself at least. Hopefully it will ring true for others, as well. Think about being a child, if you can, and how you would have liked to have been interacted with. Was yelling the only or best way to get through to YOU? Probably not. Even if it was, it certainly wasn't an action that made you feel loved. Likely if you did do what was asked (demanded?) it was out of fear or anger. Is that the best way to get our children to listen to us? I know that I personally don't want kids who are scared of me. Respect me, yes, but not at all scared.

I remember moments of being scared of grown-ups in my life because of their loud, scary voices. It wasn't something I took lightly. It stayed with me. I still remember some of those moments to this day.

You know what else I remember, though? The times I was apologized to for mistakes grown-ups made. No one is perfect. We make mistakes with our kids, but being able to apologize to them and point out that you made that mistake is really important. I really, really struggle with this. I HATE feeling like I was wrong, but you know, if we don't model this for our kids, they won't learn this lesson.

Anyways, I'm rambling now, but maybe some of this will ring true for someone else?

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Recent pictures

Over the weekend my husband's mother's cousin's son was here to visit (you got all that?). What you need to know is that his name is Justin, he's 22, and more educated and well travelled than I can ever hope to be. He recently graduated and is now travelling the world writing stories for magazines and taking pictures. His tales were amazing.

He is back in the States for a short while and came to Seattle for a visit. We haven't seen him in a couple of years, since Eloise was a baby!, so it was just as much fun for him to see us as it was for us to see him. At least, we hope!

Here is Justin and Iris hanging out.

Holy God I hope Justin doesn't see this blog. He would kill me for posting this one! Okay, no, actually, he would do his Justin chuckle and look a little embarassed and probably not care at all.


His website is www.justinvela.com if you're interested!

Where is my mind?

Not only an accurate description of my life right now, but also my favorite song by the Pixies :)

Anywho.

So last week I managed to leave my cell phone on the top of the car and drive all over West Seattle with it up there. It was still there when I stopped at my friend's house to see if I had left it sitting on her table. Yeah. Then today I leave my car keys on top of the car. Matt was driving and for whatever reason, I had my keys and set them on the car. We drove away, then rounded a corner and I heard the sound of keys hitting pavement. Matt pulls over, I sprint down the middle of the street to fetch my keys, all the while wondering how exactly I got so spacey. I used to never do stuff like that!

Not surprisingly, focusing my mind while I'm in yoga class is a huge feat these days. I just can't. My mind will be wandering for minutes before I'll even realize it. And about the dumbest stuff, too. Like how I want to tell my friend to tell her husband to take yoga classes. How I wish I wouldn't have worn such short shorts because surely everyone behind me is getting WAY too good of a view during my downward dog. I my daughters did okay going to sleep without me there.
I have said it before, but I looooove my yoga class. Tonight I was also lamenting the fact that we are moving to the other side of the city and it will make it very difficult to keep going to this same class. It's at the perfect time of day, it's all mamas, and oh my god my teacher is so delicious. I adore her and want to eat her up. Tonight while in class another thing I did was lament about how so many parts of our lives are changing because of this move. We are changing just about everything, it's almost like we might as well be moving across the country!
Here is a Seattle map to assist you in your visualization.


*I have to add that my boundaries are not completely accurate, but are pretty good.

West Seattle is like it's own little city, practically. It's great, we are excited about it, but it feels so removed from everything else in Seattle. I am sure we'll find everything bigger and better there than we had here, but it will take time. Starting over can be exhilarating and daunting.