autumn days

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Hannah's Stories, Age 4

Hannah made a birthday package for her friend.  She chose to write and include a few stories with the gift.  Here are her stories as she told them.

Hillary’s Lost Pedometer
Hillary lost her pedometer.  She didn’t know where to find it.  “Oh no,” said Hillary.  “I gotta go back and see where I lost my pedometer.”  She looked all over and he couldn’t find it, so Hillary was in the biggest take out.  He ran over to the house where he had lost it in and found his papa sitting right next to the pedometer.  “Here you go, daughter,” he said.  So no one could lost their pedometers.  “Maybe I should see where they took it from you,” said Sam, a little boy.  “I know it’s not much,” said Gramps, “but my spin art daughter took it.  Where is your spin art daughter?” asked Gramps.  “In the big woods,” said Mom.  And then when Gran shut the door behind Gramps, they both hurried out to see where Pa’s mobile and pedometer was lost.  “She found her spin art daughter,” said Gran.  “She might have made a spin art head and given the pedometer to Pa.”  Sam ran over and found the biggest hiding place over and out of the take.  “Push that button,” said Sam.  Everyone lost their pedometer.  And then he found his pedometer with the spin art daughter and they all found their own pedometers piled in the machine.
The end.

Babe’s Bear
“Babe lost a bear,” said Mommy.  “Big things aren’t the best,” said Daddy.  But when Babe looked up, she heard a “Boo!”  And then she said a bow.  And then who skipped in was Yinny who tumbled in with all her other cousins she had seen that day.  And then she ran out and did a babysitter.  “I’ll spin, I’ll talk, I’ll eat, I’ll munch, I’ll serve, and I’ll punch.  We will have a great babysitter,” said Babe.  And then who skipped in last was Ago and Uncle Mike.  So from that day on, Babe was a little babe who didn’t forget anything and she found her bear hiding in a raspberry bush.  “Ooh, this looks like a pokey bear,” said Mommy.  Daddy grinned.  And Mommy did grin too.  But when Daddy opened the kitchen door, there was a big “slap, slurp, slap, slurp, slap, slurp.”  It was a ghost!  It said “slap, slurp, boo, slap, slurp, boo!”  “It’s the best ghost mobile,” said the baby, and then all the cousins went home for the night.
The end.

Barry’s Babysitting Shark
The author wrote ten books at the first page.  Barry said, “Binda, I lost my paydek chair.  It was too much fun.  I would go home.”  Binda said, “I would too, but we have to do the babysitter before the dane comes.”  So when Barry opened the door he heard “slurp sloppya, slurp sloppya, slurp sloppya” until he reached the end of the gate and then he found the place of the curious garden.  And in the biggest place next to the curious garden, there was a shark biting him right on the leg.  “Oh no, don’t bite me!” said Barry.  “It’s just a big torn shark,” said Binda.  “Yeah, that’s how it happens.  It’s one of my favorite sharks.  Best things, even though all the things I know are very hard,” said Barry.  “I thought that was new,” said Barry.  “Yeah, it’s new and it’s better than a babysitter,” said Binda.  And then he heard a big “pppt, pppt, pppt.”  It was the shark throwing up because the shark bit Barry’s leg.  He knew that the shark was sick, so when the shark got the biggest cold, Barry helped.  But then the shark came to a stop.  “Oh no, I forgot I could do that.  It is not the same,” said Barry.  “But it is the biggest present I’ve ever saw, better than an ordinac.”  The end.

homemade, heartfelt gifts: muffins and stories tucked into a decorated toolbox
Our little man gets his love of writing from his sister.

please pass the energy...

There are times when I need a little extra energy to get through the moment or hour.  As I embrace the changing emotions and lessons of full-time parenting, I find I need more tools to hang on for the ride.  Lists bring me joy and I feel it is appropriate to make a list of things that refill my energy.  When I have enough energy, I am able to share my joy with others.  I explain to my four-year-old daughter that I need to have energy to do things for her, like prepare meals and play games and read long chapters out of Little House books.  Things that drain my energy are typically one child being unkind to another or endless crying or whining.  What do I do to get my energy back?  With this helpful list in my figurative handbag, I am able to replenish a bit of my energy and make it through to the next wondrous moment.  What helps you, dear reader, to recharge yourself?

Energy Fill-Ups
Give my helpful preschooler some of my chores (dishes, laundry, assembling meals, sweeping, etc.)
Get outside to romp and stare at trees
Walk to the park or just around the block
Draw on the sidewalk with chalk
Sing to some of our favorite music (Elizabeth Mitchell or Anne-Louise Sterry)
Draw on blank paper with my children
Read some of our favorite books
Assemble puzzles
Bake and share cookies or cobblers
Make myself a cup of tea
Sit in pajamas and sit on the floor with the kids while they play
Listen to my daughter tell me stories or watch her jump rope
Watch my son dance or unload an entire kitchen drawer
Hang out at the library
Set up a date with friends (adults and their children)
Write and mail a love letter for someone special
Hear from a friend that they've felt the same way
Remember that this is all temporary and one day I'll miss whatever is now causing stress
Take a bath (when my spouse has the kids)
Pull out my journal and write for a few minutes about anything
Share and eat a dark chocolate hazelnut bar

fine balance of parenting (part one)

It continually amazes me how little things can knock us off our fine balance.  Give me a month with only a few hours away from my children (instead of a few hours each week) and I realize how valuable time alone has become.  Add to that hormones, a heavy work schedule, breastfeeding trouble, 20 unread library books, a week without naps, many unfinished projects, and cold weather, and the days get a bit harder.  The pressure and the snippety attitude were building.  I wasn't on my best behavior for my beloved family.  Finally I could hear the disequilibrium screaming that some changes were needed to make my inner mama and my family happy once again.  My family could hear it too.

Sometime last week, after a month of having my children attached to my body in one way or another, I got out of bed around 3am with my congested uncomfortable little boy and drowsily paced around the kitchen with him in my arms.  Somewhere in that darkness I saw the light at the end of the discombobulated tunnel.  I found some relief with a simple thought.  The pressure finally gave way and burst like water gushing from a water balloon when I thought one simple thing: "I finally made it to my weekly bath day!"  And there was more personal time on the horizon for the coming days: dinner and movie date, babysitting time, and lunch with my spouse.  There was once again a little time for myself, enough to reinstate a bit of balance.  I could make it day to day with these precious hours of personal time.

Despite the moments of balance and relief, each day feels like an amazing roller coaster.  There are so many ups and downs, joys and sorrows, challenges and solutions.  I continue to look to some moments alone, a few minutes with my journal, a few quiet moments each day.  And I hang on and feel the movement of the unpredictable roller coaster.  And I search for more patience and forgiveness for myself.  I am a limited individual.  I can't run on empty.  I don't know what I need or how to ask for it all the time.  I don't have all the answers.  I remind myself I cannot be everything to everyone, no matter how hard I try.  One day I will miss the all-consuming territory of being a full-time parent, though for now I will try to laugh and smile and appreciate this time with my small children.  And I can fantasize about someday having a couple nights all by myself at the beach.  I breath easier just taking time to cherish my children and knowing more personal time is on the horizon.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Hannah's Stories, Age 2

reading all by herself

reading to Oscar the cat at 16 months

making cards at 20 months

Hannah loves reading and writing stories, but she loves telling stories most of all.  She dictated these four stories to me when she was a pinch past two and we included these in holiday cards.  

There was a hand print.  And then there was a goat trying to take the hand print.  Along came an ozzy and hurt all of 'em that were scared, so scared.  Along came a ayzee and he ate them all up.  And then there were no left to have.

Once upon a time it was so quiet until a mouse walked, walked, walked.  It swimmed in the water like a big fish and popped itself right on the nose.  And then along came a fish and popped him on his eye.  Along they were sleeping in a small bed.  They were so happy when somebody slid and wake them up.  They were sleeping by now and a sled came and woke them up and it was all nighty.  Then they woke up and were gone with the sled.  And that's the story.

There were words on the story, but they didn't have found.  And then they popped and popped and there were stripes all over them.  There was a warthog he didn't have found.  A line, line, line, line, line, line, line, line, line, line.  And then there were stripes all over the line things.  And then they went to sleep.  "Nighty nighty," said the one that scared them.

There was a big splash of water from a warthog.  "Let's go nighty, let's get a stripe and get bundled up for the snow," said the warthog.  And there were stripes, pipes.  Then came a mousie.  A pp up peener.  And then "bee-een."  There was a big "klklklkl" and then "pop!"  The mouse came back and asked for food and a nappy.  They went to nappy and that's the end of the story.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Happy Valley Park harvest festival

This is our second year to enjoy the harvest festival at our local park.  I never realized what awesome resources are right under your nose until Hannah was born.  Happy Valley Park is the center of a lot of celebrating throughout the year.  In October, they have an awesome harvest festival with a pumpkin patch, petting zoo, face painting, live music, a scavenger hunt, pumpkin decorating, hay rides, kids in costumes, jack-o-lantern judging, and food and other vendors.  Since the birth of my second child Liam one year ago, we've trimmed our schedules and attempt to stay local.  Instead of spending time strapped and crabby in the car driving to a different community, we now venture outside for walks near and far within our own community.  This year we walked to Happy Valley Park for the festival.  It was such a pleasant experience to slow down and enjoy this autumn afternoon in the park with friends.

She was loving on the llama!

He was full of giggles and grins in the petting zoo.

our little pumpkin wearing a pumpkin

Justy's Produce (pumpkin patch)

Last autumn we went to at least four different pumpkin patches.  Being pregnant and nesting could have something to do with our activity level.  This year, however, while adjusting to the needs of two children, we three enjoyed a couple hours at a little pumpkin patch behind Justy's Produce and called that our grand pumpkin adventure, complete with photos.  This is a quaint little market with spray-free produce that is locally owned and near our home.  The nice older gentleman inside told us his son opened the market about 25 years ago.  He told my children that he fixes the tractors and grows the gardens.  He tried to guess my children's names (Mary? Susan? Bill?) and suggested they come back for a job when they were a bit taller.  

When we arrived, we were enamored with the dahlia patch.  The blooms were huge and colorful.  We chose a wagon and meandered past the flowers, by the grapes, watched the birds busily enjoying the sunflowers, and found our way to the little pumpkin patch.  Each child immediately picked out their favorite pumpkin and then spent some time figuring out how to take it with them.  When they were thoroughly muddy and delighted with their adventure, we found our way back to the market and hopped on a hayride with a friendly school group.  

When compared with driving 30-45 minutes for a pumpkin patch and hayride, this was a simply awesome excursion.  Now we not only have a new favorite pumpkin patch and friendly grandfather figure, we have also discovered a spray-free friendly market nearby.  And we went home with juicy grapes and in-the-shell hazelnuts (also known as "hours of enjoyment").

a field dahlia's at Justy's Produce
discovering the pumpkin patch
dahlias as large as dinner plates
Look at that happy grin!  There's nothing like your first pumpkin patch.
Yes, she was able to get this one into the wagon.  It is still awaiting a future as pie, muffins, breads, etc.