1. Give her something to be in charge of.
2. Let her have a pet.
3. Laugh every single time she cracks you up.
4. Delight in her fierceness.
5. Make space for her crabbiness.
6. Speak of her positive character qualities in public.
7. Spend alone time with her, even if she acts like she doesn't need it.
8. Be the one to introduce her to all the best things about being a woman.
9. Let her bring along a friend.
10. Give her a chance to make a difference in the world.
Happy Birthday, my sweet Madeleine! May this year surprise and delight you and let you know in new ways you are deeply loved and never alone.
We're just a week and a half away from the first day of school and for once I can honestly say I wish the day would never come. Summer days passed way too quickly; I can't remember a summer that was as fast-paced and action-packed as this one. We won't know what to do with ourselves once school days hit and we have to settle into a regular routine.
Still, for all my wistfulness about our passing summer days, I am looking forward to the first day of school when we'll be able to welcome everything encouraging and good--not only for us but for everyone who walks to school on our very friendly street.
Care to join us? Break out that sidewalk chalk and get your messages ready. The new year is just around the corner.
The funniest thing is happening at my house. We still can't seem to make it one night without at least one or two kids waking up in the middle of the night. You are thinking, "you have a baby. Of course you shouldn't expect to sleep." You are also thinking, "didn't you already write about this just last week?" And you would be right on both counts. Let's just say that sleep or sleeplessness, to be exact, would be on my mind these days.
In the last week or so we have gotten into this crazy cycle of only 1 1/2 hours of peace and quiet at night before someone is crying to eat, crying because he is hot or crying because the hall light is supposed to be on but then some parent forgot the new light requirement and turned it off. You know those sticker charts for kids to do their chores? We parents need one for lights and drinks and temperature and specific blankets and baby dolls. Of course that sticker chart for parents would have to be a fluid document because the baby doll requirement changed for tonight from the leopard to the tiger. I made the mistake of washing the required blanket and not drying it in time so I had to make a last-minute substitution that will most likely violate the required night time body temperature. This is because the thought of kicking off the blankets will never cross this child's mind.
And that baby who got his first cereal? Yeah, it didn't make him sleep any better because his tummy was fuller (you deceiving Internet that made me promises). In fact, he woke up more because it gave him constipation. In case you are wondering, that means I have an extra problem to add to this vicious night cycle where I currently find myself. But when your baby looks like this, you somehow don't really mind.
If you are wondering why his mouth is purple, it is gentian violet. Gentian violet is natural solution to baby's thrush. It also stains his mouth this awesome purple for three days.
Are you shocked and amazed when your kids are more resilient than you realize? Here's a great post about how tough (and tender) our kids really are.
Need a little sibling bliss to help you remember your kids too do get along every now and then? Here's a lovely photo essay with some helpful links from the everyday life of a sweet family.
And we still have wonderful book recommendations for you. Listen to this nice interview from Lindsay Lebrasco.
So we are saying goodbye to summer, almost. One last road trip to see family, a few more days to sleep in, the lazy trips to the park are winding down. I find in times of transition my kids love rituals to help them reflect and then welcome the next season before us. Some times they are intentional, sometimes they unfold on their own.
We laid in bed last night (all of us, I don't know how this always happens), talking about this, that and the other. I asked them what they will miss about summer.
Lucy: "Dress up all day!"
Jack: "Hanging out with my family."
Josiah: "The pool will be closed."
"I'll miss not having to go anywhere." I said.
"Yeah." they chimed in.
Out with the old and in with the new. After a goodbye, there is almost always a hello.
Hello cool new shoes for school, hello new teachers, hello occasional school cafeteria lunch full that kids like for some reason beyond me, hello old friends...
What are you saying goodbye and hello to? Ask your kids, I bet they have plenty to say on the subject. As always, feel free to share in the comments.
We are having a bit of a sleep dilemma over here. It is 10:00 p.m. right now and I can hear the patter of little feet in the room above me. There was an incident involving a late afternoon nap that I normally would have not allowed, but I was tired myself. My friend asked if I was sure I wanted to let Nathan take a nap. I knew I shouldn't do it but I just couldn't take the talking or whining or shouting any more. I let him go to sleep.
Then I fell asleep. I must have been tired because I woke up two hours later. Three out of four of us slept for the whole two hours. Mason? His brothers had awakened him all morning and he couldn't find a decent enough piece of grass to sleep on when we were outside this afternoon. As a result, he fell asleep and he did it right.
With school starting soon, I know I should be getting into the right sleep routine with naps and bed times. I just can't do it this week. How are your pre-school schedules going?
I'm writing to you from a very kid-friendly hotel in New York City where I'm trying out my theories of quality time vs. quantity time with Madeleine and Carter. We agreed before my latest twelve day trip to Africa that quality time for us would look like an overnight at the beach before I left and an overnight trip to New York when I got back. I forgot to factor in the exhausting four hour car rides when deciding to test just how far quality time will take you! Note to self.
At this juncture--since I'm really tired from traveling and a bit irritated with everyday kid stuff --why does Madeleine have a Sharpie tattoo, for example, and when did Carter start the systematic tormenting of his lawyerly sister with nonsensical arguments?--I'm wondering if there's any quality time at all if you don't have some quantity time as a foundation to spring from. To say I'm burning the candle on both ends is putting it mildly.
Despite the hurdle of trying to move mountains, I think we're all learning exactly what it takes to feel connected--whether the together time is abundant and mundane or highly-focused and exciting. Here are my thoughts so far for your review:
The time we spend together is witnessed by the memories we create. I thought creating exciting adventures would put something grand in the memory bank, and while we've certainly succeeded on that front, my kids are telling me they need very regular boring memories, too. Like mom making a special lunch or taking them to the park every single day. I'll be keeping this in mind when we make plans together for the fall.
Being cheerful and happy to be together trumps everything every time. More than where we are, my kids kids are focusing on how we are. Me crabby because they've been arguing for an hour over whether Carter accurately remembers coming to New York (all the way from DC) for a field trip in first grade (oh the insanity of it all!) makes more of an impression than the Empire State Building. I hate to say it, but mom's mood does matter and so does the kids'. Building conditions for harmonious interactions might be the secret ingredient whether we're spending fifty hours together or one.
Bringing your heart to the mix really does make a difference. You can run your house like clockwork or be the most exciting mom on the block but none of it matters if your kids don't deep down understand your heart is right there with them. We can go through the motions (and granted, the motions do matter) but what stays with any human being is the presence of mind, heart and soul in every interaction we choose. I'm thinking about this as we finish up our little string of exciting reconnecting times and move into more of an everyday mode as school starts soon. My kids need me and I need them--no matter what kind of time we're able to spend together--and I'm hopeful that understanding comes across in the months to come in everything that I do.
Any lingering thoughts on quantity or quality time? Here's your chance to have your time in the comments below.
Jack has been laying some kid wisdom on us lately. Sometimes it comes at the most random moments, like while eating cereal or from the back seat while I drive. Either way, I'm definitely taking notes.
On why we should plant a tree in the backyard.
1."It would keep us cool because you know how hot it gets."
2."It's good for the earth."
3."We would have something to sit under."
4."Then we would have a base for tag."
On how me managed to slide down the enormous slide at the pool.
1."First I tried to breathe. Take a big breath."
2."Then I believed in myself really hard."
3."Then I just did it, even if you are a little scared."
Are your kids sharing any bits of wisdom these days? Kid wisdom is the best. We would love to hear some more in the comments.
It finally happened. I don't consider us true rule followers but we do try to roll with the norms. The pediatrician said we could feed Mason some cereal if we thought he was hungry even though he was not six months old yet.
I should be happy we made it to one day before his 5-month-old birthday before his father fed him for the first time. Maybe I should mention how his father tried to give him "ice cream" at the Tasty Freeze when he was a month old. It was as if I was a superhero as I threw my body in between the offending ice cream moving in slow motion toward my precious little newborn.
K: What are you DOING?
D: I think he wants some ice cream.
K: What makes you think that?
D: Look at his eyes. He wants it.
K: He just learned to focus on things further than 6 inches away from his face only 3 days ago. It's called focusing, not jones-ing for nonfat ice milk.
D: It won't hurt him.
K: At this rate we should stop at the store and get some non-organic milk for the boys to drink.
D: Okay. I won't give him any.
I don't think the universe is going to implode because we gave the baby cereal when he was five months old. I did probably ruin his chances of getting steak off his father's plate this week though. I hope.
We have been really busy this week, cleaning things up and looking for ways to simplify our lives. That includes putting unused things on craigslist. You really can't beat the concept of putting a picture of something on the internet and then giving a complete stranger your home address so they can come to your house at 11:00 pm and ask if you will take $100 for that treadmill that they said they would purchase for $300.
In our house, it is a feat of nature for anyone to part with anything. You never know when you are going to need that set of golf clubs that haven't been used in the entire seven years I have known you. Maybe, just one day, I might want to golf. So recently when a dear friend gave us two sets of loft beds, I got nervous. I know you can't imagine why. I'm sure I'm overreacting about the five times I have gone to the emergency room. But tonight we decided that perhaps we were at least four more years out for the little one to sleep in a loft so we should get rid of one of the beds. I whipped out my camera to take the obligatory photo for the ad. The camera was handy because I had just been taking pictures of the boys playing nicely. I wanted to have a memory on paper of that moment since I had spent the better part of the afternoon screaming at them for beating each other with a plastic pump that I kept taking away from them and hiding.
My husband grabbed my hand as I went off to the computer.
"Be sure you post the picture of the BED on craigslist and the picture of the KIDS on Supersisters."
I think he was joking though I really can't be sure.