Monday, January 30, 2012

Mom, Can You Make Legs for the Dolphin to Dance?

A while ago, I ran into my art teacher from high school.

"Are you still doing art?" Ted asked.

"Just marker drawings with my kids." I said, as if that didn't count.

"That's all I wanted to know, that my students are still doing art."

The kids' interest in clay has rekindled their parents' artistic creativity.  We sit down and sculpt things for them.    It took a bit of a push for both of us to sit down and get past the creativity block that we somehow built of dirty diapers, status reports, and grocery bags.  Art is a luxury in that time to make it and think about it can only be done when you're not busy bleakly surviving and keeping the kids alive.  It's a good thing the kids push us to take the time to focus on creativity and that we listen to them and play with them instead of pushing them away.

I brought home a bucket of 50 different shades colored clay yesterday.  Nala began squishing all the colors together into a giant ball.

"Nala, if you mix all the colors together then you wont have the one color you need to make something."

"But mama, I'm making the ocean."

That shut me up.  How could I stop her from building a beautiful coral reef.

I have a friend with lots of kid toys at her house and she takes much care to keep everything organized and perfect.  So much so that when Nala was playing with a pint size bin of little tiny soldiers my friend suggested only playing with one at a time, so as not to loose any.

Those are the types of things, I never think about.

My sister in law still has all her childhood toys in perfect condition.  Like, she has a bin with a dozen vintage Polly Pokets, including all the little polly figures and pets.  It's worth a couple hundred dollars if she were to sell on ebay.

She's generously gifted us a few toys.  Relics that have survived a generation of playing get obliterated at our house.  She knows that.  My kids marker all over dolls, drip paint all over trains, stuff colored clay in the mouths of figurines.  Toys are welled loved over here and I have no hope of ever selling anything on ebay.

Nala's favorite toy at the moment is a little pink dragon: a used dog toy with the stuffing ripped out and squeaker broken.  She loves her, sleeps with her at night and takes her to preschool. This ragged dragon won out over every fancy doll or stuffed animal she's ever been given.

Kaio's current comfort creature is the red angry bird. Some days he'll make one out of legos, last night clay was his medium.  He took it to bed and slept with him carefully nesting next to his pillow.

Nala doesn't sleep in a bed, she sleeps in a "nest."  A collection of blankets, toys, and pillows encircling her on the top bunk.

So that's us.  Living in imagination, defying the rules on how toys should be played with.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Entering the Season of Learning

What's the point of going to school?  If happiness and living in the moment is our true goal, then why spend money to enroll in school or stay up late studying and driving towards a different goal? Why plan for something?  Shouldn't we just enjoy where we are at, here and now, and not venture for more?  

As I'm diving into the deep ancient wisdom of the East, I'm realizing that all mothers seek a life of learning.  Some mothers teach and guide, some blossom in a career, some spend late nights researching parenting inspiration on the internet.  I believe all mothers intend to learn endlessly.  And it is this growth, though difficult at times, that enriches our individuality and contribution to the community and world.
This winter the family is all orienting towards knowledge.  

I'm studying Hatha yoga, acupuncture and Chinese herbology.

Mari's begun volunteering translating educational Khan Academy lessons to Portuguese.  Plus he's been involved in a guy's club for the last couple years that gathers to discuss philosophy and culture.

Kaio's started a Lego robotics course and likes it so much my mom wants to get him the homeschool kit.  

He also plays soccer on the weekends.

Nala's begun preschool and takes a weekly dance class and music class.

But today we all played hookie and enjoyed a rare 65 degree day in January.

The tree across the street that looks like a bridge.  Nala needed me to cross with her the first time.  The second time she asked for me to stand on the ground and hold her hand as she crossed, and the third time she crossed on her own with some help from branches.  No surprise Kaio danced and jumped on it with no fear.

Inside they shared a plate of strawberries.

Then the sun came out and we took off for Great Falls Park.

And they went bouldering.

Which started to freak me out.

Nala took a picture of me.

Inside the visitor center she found a phone. What is it with girls and phones?

Kaio found a spot for his angry bird lego.

And then we ran into a short lecture about a corn snake.  This one came from one albino parent.  When the ranger asked if we knew what the snake eats, Nala piped up in her tiny fast voice, "Baby birds."

He chuckled with surprise, "Yes they can eat baby birds, they can climb up a tree into the nest and eat them."

I'm amazed she remembers the sneaky snake who ate our baby quails.  I'm always amazed by what they remember, especially the things that happen when they're so young.

But really, I'm amazed by how much you can learn when you're not trying to learn at all.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Time with Kids is a Tremendous Gift

The kids often make a mess with legos on the floor, and not always want to clean them up when I want them up.  I remember the first time I knelt down to tidy them myself and actually loved it.  Why?

Because I realized I could do it!

I could just sit there and pick legos off the floor, instead of being pulled out of the moment by thoughts and paranoia around all the other things that needed to be caught up on.

Maybe I'm getting stupider or something, but I just adored picking those legos off the floor.  Time is a tremendous gift and I really treasure having more of it at home with the kids.  So much so, that I'm looking forward to the summer when preschool's out and we resume our day trips to DC and parks.

Picnicking in the kitchen

Sh#t Krissee Says

Ok, this is going to sound bad, but I'd rather clean up sh#t than go back to work.

Me thinks the economy must be picking up because I've been receiving lots of calls about job prospects in the last two weeks.  Ironic that I have no desire whatsoever to call any of them back. I guess I'll take time with kids over money.  I'll keep funding coming by selling old stuff on ebay and old books on Amazon until we're out of stuff to sell.

Then.... Just as I finished writing that I got frantically summoned to the bathroom to fetch a boy out of the bath.  Half an hour ago said boy made a big poopy mess and I asked him to bath instead of wipe.  You know...  Well I didn't realize it but the mess was not confined to the bathroom.  I came back to the computer and saw a... you know (mashed mess!)... right where I had been sitting.  My jeans were covered in... you know.  Gross! So gross.  That makes two days in a row cleaning up poop.  Yeah, the other one had a mess in her pants yesterday.

So, I'm sanitizing the room and my fresh-from-the-bath-clean-damp puppies are wrestling on the bed, giggling.

I declared, "Everyone is in trouble."

"ohhh... no we're not in trouble.  Other people are in trouble." Kaio retorted.

Me: "Yup, mama's mad, I'm cleaning up poop in my room, everyone's in trouble." I said, totally mater-a-factually.

"No, all the mamas are in trouble." Nala said with a huge smile.

The amazing thing: as I'm cursing and cleaning poop off myself and the floor, peering at the stains on the laminate and trying to determine if that one is a poop print or some other substance (like a squished strawberry or mud), my brain pondered the thought: should I call those recruiters back?

Naw... Still no inclination to dial the phone.

I guess I'd rather clean up shit than go back to what I was doing before!

Just the fact that I have time and energy to clean up poop without getting extremely aggravated, is amazing.

The kids often make a mess with legos on the floor, and not always want to clean them up when I want them up.  I remember the first time I knelt down to tidy them myself and actually loved it.  Why?  Because I realized I could do it!
I could just sit there and pick legos off the floor, instead of being pulled out of the moment by thoughts and paranoia around all the other things that needed to be caught up on.

Maybe I'm getting stupider or something, but I just adored picking those legos off the floor.  Time is a tremendous gift and I really treasure having more of it at home.  So much so, that I'm looking forward to the summer when the kids are out of preschool and we resume our day trips to DC and parks.

Picnicking in the kitchen

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Unbearably Cute

So we actually did something today.   

I think I've said before that I'm not good at planning those cute little pre-school style themed craft activities.  Today I surprised myself and mustered the ingredients for something preschool-esk.  Kaio's latest obsession is Angry Birds and we saw a promo for one of their new games.  The video has puppets. So we copied the idea and put on a dragon puppet show.

I'd like to take the kids outside every day, but really we've been mostly hiding from the cold.

Although Nala and I went for a walk while Kaio had Lego robotics class last week

Have I mentioned how freggin cute I think she is.

More inspiration from Angry Birds, Kaio created a Lego set.  These are just a few of the ones he's made  I had to super glue the sling shot Legos together so they would hold the rubber band.

Then he asked me to buy him the extra large Lightning Mcqueen.  Buuuuttt it's like $25.  I told him I'd get it if he gave me all the money in his piggy bank.  He decided to build one from existing Legos instead. Thatta boy.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Some kids are more difficult, that never really changes

Driving back from picking a friend up at the airport and Kaio's screaming in a tantrum.  My kid-less friend looks at me, stunned by the beast in the back, "You're a saint." Comes out of her as an empty attempt at reassurance.  Got me thinking: because I haven't dropped him off on any church steps or violently shaken him yet?  

I'm not a saint at all, he's just insane.  And I'm weighted by this more in the last few days as he's caught a cold and that aggravates his emotional behaviors.  And I'm realizing this is just how he is: a very emotional child and that's always going to make my mothering job much more difficult and frustrating.

Today we tried out a music class.  I wasn't planning on taking Kaio cause I knew that he would hate the sensory integration aspect.  But he insisted that he wanted to go and promised not to 'freak out.'  So I brought him with us and some toys for him to play with on the sidelines.  

Well, at least he was only the second most disruptive kid in the class.  The first being the boy of a girl/boy twins pair.  This toddler stomped around the room stealing other kids' toys, crying, throwing tantrums and knocking over little girls.  I looked around the circle, all the other kids were sitting quietly next to their parent (mom).  There was another pair of twins the same age hovering gently around their mama, blissfully following all the teacher's directions.  My boy was spread out laying on the floor trying to steal the attention of the class by moaning.  

I looked at this poor beautiful mama chasing after her pair of two year olds.  I really felt the unfairness of it all and how she must blame herself for his wild behavior.  I thought about commenting to her something like, "My son was just like that too, hang in there."  But then glanced at Kaio in the corner: flat on the floor moaning for attention and making hissing sounds every time I tried to give him some.  I thought that might not help her feel better at all.

After the class another mother passed by her and said, "Don't worry it will get easier."
I know that she was trying to be nice and it's true in many ways that parenting does get easier with time.  But I also knew, from experience, that some kids are just much more difficult and that never really changes.  Well, it should change when they mature (crossing my fingers).

Looking at her sweet exhausted face, seeing her good heart breathing through all the apologies for the trouble her kids were making, I realized that a good mom can only do so much.  Like our genes define how outgoing we are or how risk adverse we are, this boy was more prone to explore and play tough.  

My kid climbs on top of the playground while other kids climb on it.  This week my kid was the only one who said "No" when the Lego robotics teacher asked the class if they had fun.  Tonight he sat at another empty table at the restaurant instead of joining us for dinner.

And it's his super rebellious, super attention craving personality.  Hopefully my nurturing and love help him be a better person.  But it sure does get exhausting and frustrating, especially during the weeks when he's under the weather.

chapped lips from the January bug
Akkk. Just gotta love him so much though

Before catching cold

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Get'n Crafty

I guess it's inevitable: you stop working the 9-5 and you start getting crafty.  My first sewing project in ages, inspired by Kaio's latest Angry Birds obsession and lack of funds after the holidays to spend on commercial products.  I'm calling this guy a "Fiery Fowl."  Good news is my client is happy and has contracted me for three further projects.  Shows how important 7th grade Home Ec (my favorite class in middle school and I got an A) can be in the real world.  Can you tell I'm still so proud.

Nala's getting ready for 7th grade with some Luna Star play makeup.

She looks like a raccoon.

And I'm realizing this blog's incredibly therapeutic.  No matter how rough a day has been with arguments, messes, emotions, etc; I can post the nice pictures of cute moments and feel like we're a functional family.  Focusing on the positive.  Breathing though all the rocky times that have already come this year with our full schedule since I've started evening classes and Nala's started preschool two days a week.  The months when my mom is away really make me realize how great it is to have her around, yah know.


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