"The most wasted of all days is one without laughter." ~e e cummings

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

coping

We had planned a "Cookies and Cocktails" party for a few of our new friends for Sunday, December 16. I'm so glad we did. It was nice to, for a few hours, come together as friends in celebration instead of sorrow. It was nice to be able to watch our kids playing together and feel that warmth of gratitude spread among us without saying a word of the heartbreak we were actually feeling. We didn't want to talk about it....there were little kids with big, wide open ears beside our elbows. And also, we didn't need to talk about it. Behind every smile was The Look. A where do we go from here? look. 

It was just what I...we....needed. 

It was a simple affair. There were cookies, of course.



And drinks. A few new Pinterest recipes I had been wanting to try....

(nut and cheese-free in our house)

(I skipped the parmesan. Still great!)

And for the kids, a Make-Your-Own Reindeer Food station. (Thanks to Kelle Hampton for the inspiration.)



 



And it was good. Great, actually, if I let myself not feel guilty about celebrating amidst other families' sorrow. It provided some balance during what otherwise would have been a very hard weekend.

Monday came and the pit in my stomach returned with a vengeance. Anxiety? Yes. Though I always tended to be a worry-wort-ish person, Motherhood gave me a good, healthy dose of Anxiety. My mind goes to pretty scary places pretty easily. I hear that's not uncommon among the Mommy Set. (Right? Anyone?)

But Monday? I could do this, right? Put Evan on a bus? Send him off to school? Yes. I could. I must. But....what to do until I see him hop down off that bus at 2:51?

Operation: Keep Busy and Distracted

Max and I prepared for his Special Reading Time at school. On Tuesday, I was going in to read Frosty the Snowman to his class. (He chose the book. I was *thrilled* that it meant that I would get to read/sing instead of just read. Oy.)

I had been holding on to a Make-Your-Own PlayDough recipe my sister had passed along. I decided that Monday was the perfect day to give it a try. Instead of food coloring, we added Peppermint Extract into the dough. When it cooled, we kneaded white glitter into it and, voila! PlayDough "snowballs" for each of Max's friends.



Those were super-tight shots to shield you from the rest of my kitchen counter.

Oh, okay, here's the rest.


...although you can't see the sink full of dishes from this angle. Or the fact that Max has systematically, though neatly, emptied the drawer he is rifling through in an effort to find the "right" snack plate.

Lesson Learned:
Because I (we) have followed too many of these heart-wrenching tragedies, I have learned that I am an information junkie. I need to read/watch/talk/think it through endlessly to make what little sense there is to make in an effort, I think, to convince myself that it really won't happen to me and mine.

Although the more I read and watch, the more Experts tell me that it's happening more frequently and more horrifically in places Exactly Like the bucolic little town we are so happy to call Home. Stomach Pit threatening to overwhelm.

So, because a control freak like me can't control for everything, I'll do what I can. And for now, for always, it's to love these little babes to pieces.


**PlayDough Recipe:

1 c. flour
1c. water
2 tsp. cream of tartar
1/2 c. salt
1 Tbsp. oil
Food Coloring

Mix into microwavable bowl. Cook on high for 2 1/2 minutes, stop and stir every 30 seconds. Knead on wax paper with flour.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

BLW: the loaded spoon

Molly has been in a little rut food-wise, lately. I wanted to expand her options but she isn't into meats and the variety of fresh produce is somewhat limited right now. We tried dairy-free cheese (Daiya brand) and she wasn't a huge fan (I can't blame her). We'll keep at it, but in the meantime, we gave Soy Yogurt a try. And to do it, we Loaded Her Spoon.


The theory behind BLW dictates that Baby is in charge of bringing food to mouth. So to introduce a food like yogurt, you dip the spoon (or "load" it) and place it on the tray for Baby to pick up and bring to her mouth.



After a few misses--spoon to cheek, back of spoon to mouth, fully-loaded spoon to floor, etc.--she made contact.


And it was good.





There was some good finger-play in there, too. She mixed and mashed and licked those babies clean.


And it was a huge success. She's had yogurt probably four or five times now and it's a definite favorite. Best at breakfast before she's dressed or at dinner right before bath, though, because....wow. That's some Yogurt Hair, Baby Girl.


Lesson Learned:
It's a messy method, but BLW remains one of the best parenting decisions we've made. I honestly don't know when or how this kid would eat if she depended on me to spoon-feed her. Mealtimes are a bit hectic around here, but with BLW, Molly is just one of the gang.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

real magic

Evan came home from school yesterday with the book he had ordered from the Scholastic Book Club. Of course, we had to read it right away. Twice. After the second reading, he turned the last page to see the other titles in the same series of books.

"Lego City," he read, "Fight this Fire." Then he looked up at me, quite pleased with himself and his reading.

I pointed to a word: "What does this say?"

"Fight," he answered correctly.

"Hmm....but it looks like it should say fig-hut." I feigned, "How did you know it says 'fight'?"

"I just looked at it and I just knew it. I didn't sound it out, I just knew it."

"You didn't sound it out, huh? You just knew it? You know what that's called, buddy?"

"What?"

"That's called READING."

Lesson Learned:
No red suit or white fluffy beard needed for that kind of magic.

Monday, December 10, 2012

the most wonderful time of the year

It is magical, isn't it?

Not because it really is, but because we make it so. Or wish it so. Or WILL it so...even when it's not, because the kids just won't have fun and enjoy it, despite our best efforts to MAKE them have fun and enjoy it. They fight over who gets to turn on the Christmas lights (even though we have three sets of lights to plug in and four ROOMS full of candles to turn on). They argue over who gets to lick the cookie dough spatula (never mind that we ALWAYS have one for each of them). They spend the entire Angel Tree Shopping Trip adding to their OWN wish lists and sulking when we don't let them buy even just one thing, even with their own money. They run wild through the house "playing Santa and his reindeers and some ninjas" and, without fail, one always ends up in tears. They're each up multiple times each night and up for the day by 5:30.

And it comes as no surprise that overtired, overstimulated, can't-wait-two-more-weeks kids have a hard time showing their Christmas Spirit.

But we continue to look for the Joy of the Season. Because it's there. Somewhere? Way down deep?

Even when Max crosses his arms over his chest, furrows his brow, and says in his grumpiest voice, "I am So Mad at you, Mommy, for getting the red and green candy canes and not the pink and purple candy canes." We look.

And when Evan has difficulty saying ANYthing to ANYone in a voice other than a demanding, angry,  stubborn voice. We keep looking.

And when Molly....nevermind. The Christmas Spirit is alive and well in this kid.


We look for The Magic, and sometimes, maybe sandwiched between a meltdown and a "THAT'S NOT FAIR!" we find it.

Exhibit A:
Evan tiptoed in to where Bear Ticklish, our Elf, was hiding one evening before bed. He didn't know I saw him go, and didn't know I was eavesdropping. "Bear Ticklish?" he began, "I want to tell you where you should be tomorrow when we wake up. You should be on our Christmas Tree. But not just ANYwhere on our Christmas Tree. You should be up at the very top by the star. You can hold on tight to it."  I heard it and I tucked it in my pocket, knowing the next morning's Elf Hunt would be the Best One Yet. Magic.

Exhibit B:
Max has been walking around the house singing Christmas Carols for weeks. Jingle Bells was a first favorite. He sang, "...in a one-horse, open sleigh" as "...in a one horse, slope and say." When I tried to teach him the real lyrics, he said, "Okay, but I sing it however I want, it's MY Jingle Bells." Now, he's moved on to the more sophisticated, We Wish You a Merry Christmas, and even has the part about the figgy pudding down. Step aside Mariah Carey, there's a new Christmas Diva in town.

Exhibit C:
Evan wrote his Christmas list the other day. There were only two things on it: "A ninju robot" (Phew! I'm pretty sure that one's already in Santa's sack. And, "Molly to be happy." And then he smiled at me and said, "And I know YOU want her to sleep through the night! But I just want her to be happy." He may have a hard time showing it to me and Sam some days, but man, that kid can turn on the Sweet Lovin' like no other.

Exhibit D:
We went to see a huge light display at a botanical garden and park near my in-laws house. There was a life-sized unicorn made out of lights, a Christmas Light maze, lights, lanterns and decorations in every tree, and a huge Chinese dragon made out of lights that you actually walked through in one part of the park. Evan, Max, and even Molly just stared, mouth open, eyes sparkling, as we walked through the park. There was Magic that night, too.

Exhibit E:
They clean up pretty well this time of year, too.


Lesson Learned:
I don't want to wish these next two weeks away. We have a lot to look forward to....lots of memories to make...lots of fun to have. And I. Will. Enjoy. It. And so will they, whether they like it or not.