gifting

sparkly googly-eyed softdough

sparkly googly-eyed softdough

sparkly googly-eyed softdough

sparkly googly-eyed softdough

sparkly googly-eyed softdough

We had a birthday party to attend this morning. This certain big three year-old has been in our lives since he was just starting to crawl around. Such a big boy deserves sparkly blue softdough with googly eyes, don't you think?

Softdough with a twist has become our go-to gift for other children. I like to involve Finn in the gifting process, and predictably, he always chooses blue softdough with sparkles for his friends. Aside from turning on the stove, he can be involved in every step. I thought his idea of putting googly eyes in the jar was great! He was proud and excited to give this to his friend today.

Unrelated - I'm trying to figure out what in the world to do with all of my pictures from our vacation. I'll be honest and tell you that pre-mama me is like a little devil on my shoulder, telling me that it would be awesome to make a traditional scrapbook a la Ali Edwards. But man, I just dont' have the time. I do have a serious case of hobby envy, though. But I do want a printed record of our trip. Do any of you know of a less time consuming way to get these photos printed? Digital scrapbooking templates? Just print a book via shutterfly? Looking forward to your advice!

 


a mountain vacation

a mountain vacation

a mountain vacation

a mountain vacation

a mountain vacation

a mountain vacation

a mountain vacation

a mountain vacation

a mountain vacation

a mountain vacation

a mountain vacation

a mountain vacation

a mountain vacation

a mountain vacation

a mountain vacation

a mountain vacation

a mountain vacation

a mountain vacation

a mountain vacation

a mountain vacation

a mountain vacation

We had such a good time. Sometimes I felt like pinching myself, certain moments were so dream-like. But then a baby pulled my hair or a two year-old needed help turning on the light in the bathroom, and I remembered that I was, in fact, still in reality. A neatly transposed mothering reality tucked in a cabin in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

We hiked a lot. We even did something crazy - crossing the suspension bridge atop Grandfather Mountain in what must have been tropical storm-force winds. Seriously. The wind was blowing so hard that I hardly had to breathe, it was entering my nose of its own accord. That, combined with my ever-so-slight fear of heights. I felt giddy, baby strapped to my front. It was like I was in high school again, jumping off a thirty foot rock into the river below (blowing out my ear drum, as my mother will surely remind me. Pshaw, Mom. It wasn't that bad. :) 

I got to thinking about fear, and the thrill of pushing yourself just out of your comfort zone, and the confidence you gain, along with the sigh you breathe out, when it is done.

Am I comparing vacationing with two small children to jumping off a cliff? Oh yes. Excuse the hyperbole. But it is sort of like that, for a homebody like myself. I am an odd kind of homebody. I would much rather hang around the house than go out, and I guard our out-of-house schedule perhaps a bit too fiercely, not wanting to be over scheduled - pushed out of my comfort zone and into the not-as-predictable social world. But I do like the big adventure trip. I've taken many a leaps in my life, putting the homebody in me aside - living abroad twice, backpacking, jumping into water and swimming across large expanses of it, and even walking across aforementioned bridge. 

Somehow, for me, a bigger, more symbolic move out of my comfort zone is easier than the everyday little ones. But I learned something about myself and my family on this, our first trip away from home as a family of four - the comfort zone is important to my family and my children, but so is pushing ourselves out of it every so often. 

This week, we connected, we learned about each other, we laughed, we cried, we talked about the future, and we did things that I didn't think we'd been in a position to do before. We hiked nearly every day with Finn and Lachlan, each of us sporting a baby carrier just in case. We each conquered fears - our adult worries that everything would fall apart away from home, and Finn's smaller fears of standing up while peeing (!) and going tubing, to name a few. 

We conquered fears, and we made memories. The best kind of vacation. We need to make such time together a priority. 


number two

first painting

Sometimes I worry that my second child fits a little too cozily into that number two slot. I wonder if he gets read to nearly as much as my first, if he gets his fair share of uninterupted mama gazes. Because, well ... everything is interrupted around here, a majority of the time. Yet, he seems content to do his own thing while I once again direct my attention to his older brother.

first painting

But yet. He is not the first. He does not nurse to sleep. He does not nurse all. the. time. like his brother did. He does not struggle with strong feelings. He does not need to be carried. These are not his issues. 

first painting

He comes along. He rides on my back, he crawls, he pulls up. He wants desperately to walk. He smiles at his big brother as his big brother cries in frustration, not knowing how to handle a baby who wants to play with his toys, touch his books. If he is dealt a brotherly blow (real or perceived) he recovers quickly. He forgives.

first painting

It's such a challenge, isn't it? Mothering two very different little people, providing each one with what he needs, balanced by what you can realisticly give. As the youngest of four, I did not grow up with my brothers in the same way that Finn and Lachlan will - my brothers are much older. This sibling "balance" is one of my biggest challenges as a parent, and it makes me feel raw and vulnerable. (And often very tired.)

Sometimes, though, I realize that I have already learned a lot - I can call on past experiences, filed away in my mama's mind, to respond to my second child with an ease that wasn't yet natural with my first. Sometimes, the first pretends to be a mama, helping the second. Sometimes the first smiles along with the rest of us as we watch the second blossom in some mundane-yet-marvelous way. Sometimes I think about the blessing of being a recipient of more love, more play, more talk, and more rambunctious moments.

In those times, I know that being the second child is a special and unique experience, just as being the firstborn is. 

I thought about this moment as I watched Lachlan "paint" for the first time. These are moments to remember.

Also, I wanted to draw your attention to the book recommendations in the right side bar. I've added links to books I am currently reading with both boys, which I will change as we rotate through our collection. My intention this year is to keep only 4-6 books out per boy, and rotate them weekly. An attempt to simplify

We are getting ready to go on our first vacation as a family of four! My in-laws were so kind to gift us a week of their time share and we are heading to the North Carolina mountains for a week. We're hoping for snow. I will be away from this space to fully enjoy the week with my boys. Enjoy your week, too!


thoughts

pruning

pruning

pruning

pruning

pruning

pruning

pruning

~ With one on my back and the other enjoying the carnival of activities available in our yard (digging, throwing, pretending, running), I was suprised at how productive I was. Pruning, gathering, hauling - all accomplished. Two reedy bushes by our little pond, looking wintery-dapper with their new buzz cuts. A productive yard sesson like this every day and maybe, just maybe, we can keep up. 

~ I've been thinking a lot about our garden. A deer fence, to be precise. The fencing quote was way out of our league. Build a six- to eight-feet tall fence ourselves? We've built a fence to keep animals out before, except this one was meant to keep out neighboring pigs, cows, and goats. And as lovely as cob is, I think fence 2.0 will be wire. At the rate we go with with the boys in tow, it would take us 18 years to build a cob wall for our garden. Post and wire it is.

~ Finn has been asking about chickens and goats. We have the perfect coop/spot for them. Too bad we can't just fence in our entire property, which is mostly open space, and let the goats roam free. I raised goats when I was a little, and I'm sure they wouldn't heed my warnings about the road that borders our property. Unless I danced around with alfalfa, making goat-ish noises. Not that I've ever done that. Nope. Wink.

~ Feeling thankful for my Dad and his recovery, and feeling optimistic about this Spring, when he will be able to be out in the garden with us, sharing all of his gardening know-how with me and my boys.


on a rainy day

Thank you for your well-wishes for my dear Dad. His recovery is moving along steadily, and we hope he'll be out of the hospital by Thursday.

on a rainy day

We've had a handful of rainy days this past week, and that, coupled with some runny noses and persistent coughs, has kept all of us inside and mellow. 

Finn wrote a story the other day, which he dictated to Patrick. As they read it over together, Finn made edits. Love that. Patrick has fond memories of doing this same activity with his mother when he was a wee one.

We tend to use the light tray on dreary days; this time I put a plastic bin on top and let him loose with paint.

on a rainy day

on a rainy day

on a rainy day

The best part was print-making, according to Finn. Just put a piece of paper on top of the paint and smoosh, then lift it up. 

on a rainy day

We also used the light tray and plastic bin to do a float/sink experiment with household objects. Finn filled the bin with water (using a pitcher and going back and forth to the sink) and then we gathered the following in a bowl: crayon, ball of clay, apple, wooden egg, spatula, cookie cutter, plastic whale, clay formed into a boat, an almond, a bean, a pumpkin seed, a measuring cup, and a few other things I'm forgetting. Before Finn placed each item in the water, we formed hypotheses and dicussed the results. He was most impressed that the bean sunk while the pumpkin seed floated.

on a rainy day

I'm most impressed that he is writing stories and forming hypotheses. Wasn't it just two days ago that he was just starting to crawl across rooms? Before long, these boys of mine will be four and six, and my life will be totally different than it is now.

For now, you must excuse me - I have to sweep the floor yet again because something major happened this week (aside from my Dad's surgery). Yes. Lachlan is on the MOVE. And putting everything in his mouth. Lachlan is rather pleased, and I'm pleased for him. I must say, however, that I have just a dash of pity for my broom-weilding self, knowing that he'll only get faster. 

And with the snap of my fingers, the stay-put baby stage is over and a new one has begun! 


a different sort of christmas

Christmas 2011

Christmas 2011

Christmas 2011

Christmas 2011

Christmas 2011

Christmas 2011

Shortly after I hit "publish" on my last post, I found myself at the hospital. Again. This time, Lachlan was fine. It was my Dad. 

On December 23rd, I was busying my hands (a thing I must do) once again while someone I love dearly was undergoing open-heart surgery. (Insert your expletive of choice here, even if you don't cuss, because man, it has been one of those years!) My Dad, a very healthy man (and former marathon runner), had to have a triple bypass. He's one of those rare people who, despite living a very healthy lifestyle, has a body that over-produces coronary plaque. It's just bad genetic luck, I suppose.

He's doing well, and will be home within the week. We are postponing our bigger holiday feasts and festivities, as two year-olds don't know the difference between December 25th and December 31st, thankfully. If you'd like, please leave my Dad, Gery, a word of encouragement in the comments. I'll make sure he sees them.

Oh my goodness. I don't know about you, but I'm so ready to say goodbye to 2011. May 2012 be calmer, more predicatable, and - above all - free from heart surgery! 


an elf among us

an elf among us

an elf among us

an elf among us

an elf among us

an elf among us

Oh, baby boy. That you are here with us this holiday season is the greatest gift of all.

Wishing all of you a memory-filled Christmas with those you love. May the time you spend together be the gift, whether filled with activity and big-family going-ons, or simply gathered by a fire, reading a book under a blanket. See you back here on Monday, friends. 

P.S. If you're still looking for stocking stuffers, Lachlan's Snow Pixie Cap makes a great last-minute sewing project!


campfire and carols

campfire and carols

campfire and carols

campfire and carols

campfire and carols

campfire and carols

Good friends. A light-sweater kind of December night, when doors could be kept open for the munchkin crowd, busy going between the popcorn bowl on the kitchen table and the rocketship (treehouse) outside by the fire. 

I think we'll have to make this a tradition. We are surrounded by such good people. As everyone walked in the door with a dish to share, I couldn't help but remember the many meals these friends brought to us while we were in the hospital with Lachlan. Nourishing relationships, indeed. Even though any gathering involving more children than adults is, by nature, chaotic - I take great pleasure in thinking of how my relationships with these friends will evolve and deepen over time, and how - not too far in the future - we'll be able to sit down and have the occasional uninterrupted conversation. Sigh. I'm feeling full of gratitude these days.

*** I thought I would have this blog makeover done by today, but here I am still, going through all of my archives. The html furrowed my brow many times over, but that tricky-sticky stuff is over now. I'm just categorizing things, making resource buttons, writing text for my About page. I hope you'll like the final product. 

Instead of running my giveaways before Christmas, I've decided that I'll do a twelve days of Christmas thingy after the big day. I seriously have lots of things to give away! Too much for a single weekend. Fun stuff, new small businesses to show off, and a handful of book reviews. How's that sound? ***



wonky blog

DSC_0299_2130

Hi, friends. 

Things are apt to look quite a bit wonky as I experiment and refine the blog's look. It's time to streamline. Purge. Have bigger pics. Make things more easy to navigate. Unlike some, however, I can't do this in a feverish evening. It's apt to look odd for a few days.

I hope to have the new look complete by this weekend, when I'll be hosting a bunch of holiday giveaways from current sponsors (as well as from my own book shelf!) 

So here it goes. Eek! This makes me nervous!