Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Happy Birthday Wandering Dad

Today is Wandering Dad's birthday, and I have been thinking a lot about how much I love and appreciate him. I have known Wandering Dad for one third of his life, and I have seen him transform from college kid to stay-at-home dad. Wandering Dad is a wonderful and supportive husband. He is a dedicated and caring father (also with the added benefits of being supportive of and active in co-sleeping, babywearing, homebirth, and extended/tandem nursing :-) ).




Wandering Dad and I have grown together into who we are now. We have both come a long way, and I am so very proud of my husband. He is more than I ever would have imagined when we met. Thank you for being you, and Happy Birthday!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

thoughtful little boy (sometimes)

Last evening Fire Boy broke a toy. He broke the top off of his wooden toy gas station while I was putting Wind Girl to bed, and then he told me why he broke it off (he didn't like the sign on top). I explained to him that we do not break toys on purpose and that the whole toy garage might need to be put away for a while until he could learn to take better care of it (this is not the first time he has made modifications to the design). His first reaction when we tell him that things need to be put away is to check the severity. Our conversation went something like this...

FB: "Far far away?"

Me: "No, just in the back room for a while until you can play more carefully with it." "
FB: "Oh. Not far far away?"
Me: "No, not really."
FB: "No, I think we should give the garage to a little boy who needs toys."
Me: "You don't want to keep it?"
FB: "No, I think we should take it to a little boy who doesn't have many toys. And my toolbench, too"
Me: "That's very nice, but I think we'll just put the garage away for a few days."
FB: "No, no, I think we should give it away to someone else."
Me: "That's really sweet, dear. That's just like Snip Snap and Snur gave away their brand new yellow sled to the little boy who wanted one and didn't have any money. That's very nice of you, but I think we'll keep the garage and toolbench."
FB: "Okay. Let's draw a picture before we read books."

I guess this comes from the fact that we take outgrown toys to thrift shops and talk to Fire Boy about how we are donating them to children who don't have many toys. Yesterday I was sorting toys and asked if we could pass on one of the things he never uses, and he said "no", but gave me an item that is one of his favorites instead (I did not donate that item...).

Last winter I got warm fuzzies listening to Wandering Dad explain to Fire Boy about the Salvation Army bell ringers. My the end of the season Fire Boy wanted to put change in every bell ringer's bucket. Maybe this year he is ready for a more active roll in giving?

So for now I will focus on Fire Boy's thoughtfulness and generosity instead of the fact that he modified a toy because he didn't like the sign on top.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

camera eye of a 3 year old

Last year we bought our son a kids camera, but the picture quality was poor and the flash was worse. So a few weeks ago Wandering Dad hunted out our old digital camera, charged it up, and gave it to Fire Boy. It has been very interesting to see what catches his eye, and below are a few pictures from the first time we downloaded it.

exploring textures
self and family
lots of feet and shoe shots
lots of pictures of random objects

Other interesting pictures included a monarch butterfly chrysalis waiting to hatch in our garage, a measuring spoon, cloth diapers, play room mess (lots of these), daddy changing diapers, and grass.

Next time we find the camera I'll download it again...

Sunday, October 4, 2009

fishing in the sky

A few weeks ago Wandering Dad took our son to the open house at the local fire hall, and they came home with a yellow balloon. Our little Fire Boy was having trouble understanding the ins and outs of helium balloons, so Wandering Dad though of a great in the sky. He attached the balloon to the end of a fishing line, and let Fire Boy fish for it. They let the line go out and out and out and the balloon go up and up and up, and then Fire Boy reeled it in, time after time. This is a great way to keep a toddler busy for half an hour or more. Thank you creative dad!!

And it's also a great time to practice walking skills.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

handmade beauty: wood

I was going to spend my "me time" (i.e., afternoon nap) working on cleaning up the basement, but then I decided to take a few pictures instead. Lately I have been appreciating the handmade things in our life. We do have a high proportion (although not as high as I would love) of handmade items - rag hugs on our floors, wall hangings on our walls, and quilts on our beds. A few toys. A few hats. A few jewelry items. A few wooden items. A few tea mugs. A few photographs by friends on our walls.

Today my mother joined us on an outing to the local farmers' market and the the fairgrounds for the Virginia Mennonite Relief Sale. And we came away from both places with new handmade wooden items.

Last spring my son developed an interesting relationship with "Cookie Man" at the farmers' market. One day last spring Cookie Man was selling cookies, along with his handmade wooden items, plants, and veggies. He gave my son a small cookie for free. The next week, Cookie Man did not have cookies for sale, and my son was very disappointed. And every week since then Cookie Man has brought a single cookie for my son. It really is very sweet of him!! My little boy talks about Cookie Man all week and even makes up stories about Cookie Man. When we get to the farmers' market the first item of business is visiting Cookie Man (he looks for Cookie Man's truck when we are parking and makes sure that he is there and in his proper spot). But as soon as we approach the booth, my son gets quiet and shy. He whispers, "May I please have a cookie", and "thank you", but the long stories that he made up to tell Cookie Man are all tucked away inside. If I prompt for some of the things he said he wanted to tell Cookie Man he can manage a few words. But mostly it's just shy smiles. This seems to be okay with Cookie Man.

Last week I asked my son if he would like to have one of the wooden cups that Cookie Man makes so that he could remember him through the winter (and I would also like to support Cookie Man since he has been so very generous this spring, summer, and fall!). My son replied that he would like that, and so this week we bought a handmade white pine cup. I'm not sure yet what it's place in our house will be, but I think that it would go nicely on a nature table if I can manage to get one going.

At the Relief Sale I picked up a few wooden items for Christmas presents.

I had planned for them to go to extended family, but now I'm not so sure. I think I have fallen for this little box, and will probably give it to my son.

And, I am pound to say that I think my mom's quilts are at least as beautiful as those selling for over $1000 at the Relief Sale auctions!! Maybe I'll do a Mom's Quilt's post later! :)

I must also add that I was so please to see several other babywearing parents out and about this morning, and even a nursing toddler! Wonderful! So wonderful!

Friday, October 2, 2009

can I be mindful? can I be positive?

So, I haven't moved way up a holler without running water or electricity and so been unable to blog (but maybe that's not such a bad idea...). I'm here. I think about writing but seldom make the time. I think about life. A lot. A whole lot. I think about the changes and opportunities that we have available in our lives. Both internal change and external change. I struggle with the relative importance of these two - internal and external - and I struggle to find the balance and happiness.

Both Wandering Dad and I have a tendency to be, well, critical. We want things our way. We want things done right. We want it to all line up. We want it to fall into place. Easily and quietly. Well, guess what. It doesn't. So we tend to be dissatisfied on some level. And we have trouble moving beyond that dissatisfaction to see the richness and wonderfulness of what we have. We have a lot on our plate right now, but we also are tremendously lucky in so many many ways.

So, instead of focusing on the stinky shrews that have colonized our wall and made out basement playroom smell like Yuck, I hope that we can focus on how wonderful it is to have a large playroom and what we can do to make this space a pleasant place to be as we go into winter (after the shrew stink is gone). Thoughts like that - for even the much larger things on our plate. Conscious thought transformation. Is that part of mindfulness?

I've been seeing the word mindfulness a lot lately in my reading. I read a bit here and a bit there (even my reading is disorganized these days - or actually, these years), and I see the idea of mindfulness, and I like it. But I'm still hesitant to use that term. I want to bring it into my life, but I'm still not sure I "get" it. I have been reading blogs and books and trying to learn about personal transformation and how to incorporate bits and pieces into my real life. I would like to be a better person, but I'm also trying to be realistic about how much I can do on the very limited time and energy I have as a working mother of young two high needs children. We're talking baby steps here.

And I've been thinking about how writing fits into my life. I write emails and chat with friends and things like that, but I think there is a place for writing here in this space, too. Somehow it helps me to write down some thoughts and then go back over them and proofread and try to make something that is a tad bit coherent and makes a smidgen of sense. It could also be helpful to write down current thoughts and goals and things I want to strive for. Accountability on a very very low level.

Another way that I think writing has helped me in the past is to organize my thoughts around the good things in my life. Writing here could provide a time to focus on the good things. When Wandering Dad and I were engaged for the last two years of our undergraduate days - him down south, and me up north-ish, we called and email and wrote letters. I loved to sit down and write letters about what I was doing and the little things that I saw or thought. The bugs or leaves or trees or sunshine or the warmth of the steps I was sitting on or people I saw, things like that (I think Wandering Dad probably got some odd letters!). Of course we wrote love letters, but we also wrote letters to share the little things in life. And I think writing like that brought those little things to the forefront and made them cherished.

When I was blogging somewhat regularly, and for weeks after I stopped, I would think about things in my life that were stories I wanted to tell. The little happy things. The good things. The things that give me warm fuzzies. Yes, I have written about some of the not so warm fuzzies, but I really enjoyed putting down the good things in writing. I took pictures on walks with the kids. I thought about what we were doing and how great it was and how I wanted to share it. And that was good! It was good to be searching my everyday life for the good things worth sharing. It felt good. Most of them never actually made it onto my blog, but I'm thinking about trying again. I want to bring those things to the forefront of my life. I want to consciously shift my thoughts toward the positive and good in my life. That doesn't mean I won't be grumpy or tired or lonely or dissatisfied with portions of my life, but I'll try not to dwell on those. Why not spend some energy on the happy things, too.