Monday, March 31, 2014

Spring Lessons

When the warm air finally arrived and most of the snow shrunk away from the driveway, we headed out for some outdoor play and ended up spending most of the day in the sunshine.  With a 3-year-old who wants to do everything her big brother does and a 6-year-old who wants to do things without his little sister tagging along and "messing things up" I often feel pulled in two directions at once.  But we dusted off the bikes and the soccer balls and the sandbox and occasionally took some deep breaths during some epic 3-year-old meltdowns and enjoyed our first REAL spring weekend.  And when I failed to follow the rules of soccer play, Sam asked me if maybe I wanted some lessons instead.  Lesson One: Dribbling.  Lesson Two: Stay close to the ball so it's harder for the opponent to take it away from you. Lesson Three: Use the side of your foot.

Lesson Four... Even if everyone has their own ball the three-year-old will cry that you're not playing with her enough so open the sandbox and give her something else to do.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Two Conversations About Sleep

The Three Year Old

On the first Wednesday of spring, our car winds along the frozen backwaters of the Mississippi River, and I glance in the rear view mirror.  Eva's eyelids are heavy.  The kids spent the night before at Jamie's and the night before that Eva spent two hours after bedtime doing the I-need-a-drink-I-have-to-go-potty-will-you-buy-cookies-tomorrow torture that has become a regular nighttime routine.  She hasn't slept great for two nights in a row.  It is almost five o'clock and if she falls asleep on the way home the bedtime routine tonight will be even more torturous than usual.

"Eva," I say.  "Don't go to sleep.  Stay awake.  We're almost home."

"Don't worry about it, Mom," she says.  "Don't worry about me.  You worry about yourself!"

The Six Year Old

On the first Wednesday of spring, Sam and I lay under the rocket blanket on his bed with one of the new books he brought home from school, one of the books that I snuck in to the Scholastic book order after he picked out Lego early readers and Star Wars phonics sets.  National Geographic First Big Book of Why.  He always tells me that he is smart because he likes science, and he and I enjoy reading science books after Eva's in bed.  I tell him he can pick out 2 more questions to read and then it's lights out.  We read an explanation of why you need to sleep at night, how the body needs to rest to take care of itself, to keep your mind from getting confused or angry or sad.  The second question he picks is about why we have dreams and nightmares.  The book explains that everything we see and touch and smell and hear during the day is tumbled around and when we sleep the brain makes mashed up movies of all these things.

"That doesn't make sense!" he says. 

"What doesn't?"

"They said your brains needs to rest at night but then they said dreams are when your brain is playing at night.  Which is it?"

"Good question, Sam.  That's a really good question."

Sunday, March 16, 2014

March 2014

Random photos from the last month of crazy.  (Notice the moving boxes.)

With Eva, even a quiet Sunday morning painting session is full of drama...

Friday, February 21, 2014

Snowstorms and Dumplings

With a road-closing winter storm leaving a couple inches of ice followed by a foot of snow on our driveway and three runny noses trapped in our house, I was not the only one who was excited about chicken noodle soup with cheese-filled dumplings.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Valentine's Day 2014

Random pictures from the weekend in which TT showed up with flowers and balloons and more groceries than we could possibly eat.  Thanks for another awesome weekend, TT.  We love when you visit.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Just Bend Your Knees

Despite the nearly constant barrage of sub zero temperatures this winter, Sam has managed to ski most Thursdays while I sit in the heated car and chat with other moms or run to Hyvee to pick up groceries for dinner.  And on the night they tackled the big hill I told him he'd have to teach me how to do that.  I've never had a lesson.  I've never learned the tricks to staying upright while soaring down the steep hills.  So during one of the few sunny Saturdays in January in which the temperatures actually climbed in to the double digits above zero for a few hours, we laced up our skis and hit the slopes in our backyard.  Sam is learning to ski without poles, so I left mine in the snow and made circles around the yard.  And while Eva got in on the action trudging through the deep snow, Sam screamed at me to "Bend your knees!  Just bend your knees, Mommy!  It's easy."

Apparently when the hills get steep you just need to lower your center of gravity and focus and let go of any fear of falling. The things our children teach us.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Kicking Up Drywall Dust

I fondly remember Sam helping me paint the master bath when he was around Eva's age.  So as the week of time between the sheet-rocking and wood trim installation in our basement grew quickly to a close and I still hadn't gotten the painting done, I thought painting with the kids might be fun.  After all the floor was unfinished and covered with paper and drywall mud, and there was no woodwork to avoid or tape off.  What a great chance for the kids to "help" with painting.

Sam stripped off his school clothes and put on TT's old Habitat for Humanity Women Build t-shirt, and Eva threw on a gray Obama t-shirt over her pj's, and we handed them each a small roller and set them loose without instruction.  I quickly realized that if we were going to have enough paint to finish the whole room, they needed some instruction... even if a 3-year-old doesn't really follow instruction.  I showed them how to roll only on the top part of the paint tray and how to make sure they rolled all the paint into the wall without leaving long drips and thick lines.  Sam, for the most part, did pretty good (with the exception of whining that he really wanted a big roller like Mommy's rather than the little roller I'd tried to pawn off on him), but Eva glopped paint everywhere and stomped around kicking up drywall mud dust and within ten minutes I was ready for them to be done helping.  Eva wasn't, of course.  And I had one of those parental challenge moments in which I needed to decide to be the parental authority rather than letting her have her way.  She was allowed to paint for 5 more minutes, then we set down the rollers and stripped off the t-shirts and spent 10 minutes scrubbing paint off fingernails and toenails and earlobes and hair.

Thankfully I had other adult help so a ten-minute break didn't slow us down too much and the room got painted... with only about 15 interruptions because they wanted snacks or had to go potty or had fallen down the stairs.  Hey - we got an entire room painted in an evening and no children were hurt in the process, so I think we did damn good.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Her Little Buddy

One of Eva's favorite toys is the Hex Bug maze and the little battery powered bugs that seem so real that you forget they're not actually alive.  Her favorite is the red glow-in-the-dark bug which she calls Buddy.  She sits on the floor and opens and closes the orange gates, trapping him and then setting him free over and over again.

"You want to go in there, Buddy?"

"You can't go in there, Buddy."

"How about over here, Buddy?"