Sunday, December 28, 2008

After the holidays

There were some nice highlights, but this year I was ready for Christmas to be over. Among the highlights, I had some really great get-togethers with my mom, and we had a really relaxing Christmas morning at home. Miss P really had us in stitches with her animated, excited responses to gift openings. Actually, upon awakening, she was most interested in beelining over to where she had left Santa's treats to see if he had actually eaten them (he had).

The festivities continue, albeit more low-key, as we continue to connect with friends and family this week. E and I are thrilled to have another week of vacation. This is the first time in years that he hasn't had papers to grade. It has been very nice to just relax together. E and I are the types that love to just cozy up at home after P has gone to bed with some conversation and a loaded Tivo. We are getting together with two other families on New Year's Eve for an overnight 'family friendly' party at a friend's house, and are looking forward to that.

One thing I like after the holidays is the anticipation of a new year and a new beginning. Like many, I always think about how I could be healthier. It's fun to think and make plans, even if my goals are a bit more lofty than realistic. I've been inspired by the yoga store Lululemon - extremely pricey - but has a neat goal-oriented focus. The store is filled with 'goal sheets' and misson statements by all the employees re: where they want to be in 1, 5, and 10 years. I always like to dream and plan. Some things on my list include preparing healthier meals in a fun way (need to get more specific) and leaving work earlier to include time for outside active time/play/ workouts with Miss P in the afternoon. We are currently trying to teach her how to ride a bike (with training wheels). She can do it, but is not very motivated. We're trying to get her over the intial learning curve - I know she'll enjoy it once she has some confidence...I'd also like to do more yoga and maybe train for a short race.

Finally, I think I'd like to start planning more get-togethers. We tend to get busy accepting invitations to do things with various different groups of people, and then run out of time to do much reciprocation. (It also sometimes seems overwhelming - like we have to go all out and/or spend a lot of money.) I'd like to do more frequent, simple small parties.

What are your thoughts for 2009?

Monday, December 22, 2008

Guitar Hero

Miss P last night at a friend's house....
P at a craft party

I'm back!

OK, I'm going to toot my horn and share a few things I'm proud of from the past few weeks...

~We have managed to really teach P the point of the Christmas. She has been talking about Jesus fairly often, and her goal to be like him. She gets that Christmas is Jesus' birthday and a celebration of God's love for us.

~We've been working on giving. P used her piggy bank money to buy a gift from the giving tree. We also dropped off some icognito treats.

~ I created 'Gratitude Boxes' for the teachers at P's preschool. I got the idea from an Oprah episode on simple, meaningful gifts. I printed out 'thank you note' templates from her website on cardstock and included them with a note explaining the project in the 'sign-in/sign-out' book. Parents put the completed notes in a box in the office. Then, at the holiday party I snagged parents as they arrived and ended up with several more notes that shared what parents and/or kids appreciated about the particular teachers. I then sorted the notes into boxes I had purchased from Target and added bows and nametags. I almost didn't do it, and I've been kind of pressed for time. I'm so glad I did though. So often I have a great idea, but then not the time or follow through to actually do it the way I envision. I got a call this morning from one of the teachers thanking me - I was so glad it meant something to her.

~I've done some beautiful wrapping this year! Wish I had a picture. Cards were mailed early, and shopping is nearly done. And we've stayed close to our budget.

I am out tonight with some girlfriends for a quick mom's night out. Then we are out every other night this week at some celebration. Today is supposed to be a day of cleaning and catch up; there has been some of that, but a lot of relaxing too. Since that can be tough for me, I'm kind of proud of that too!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

I woke up this morning so feel of peace and joy. There has been a bit of illness, stress and just busyness surrounding us -- this morning it was just all gone. My favorite thing is to just have downtime with E and Miss P and that is exactly what we are doing for the first half of today. As usual, P was out of bed within minutes of my getting up (someone asked her recently what time she gets up in the morning, her answer: "As soon as mommy does.") Often I admit that I slightly cringe, just wishing for a few more minutes to get organized. Today, I looked at her sparkly blue eyes and felt even happier than I had moments earlier.

We hit Star*ucks, breakfasted, and perused the Black Friday sale ads. P has me so entertained lately with her musings and questions. Today: "Why do the baristas shout the drinks when they are ready?" We headed back home in time for the Macy*s parade. I really enjoy it every year - especially the musicals. To keep P engaged, as she does not share the same affection for the morning chatter and balloons on TV, I found an 'alphabet sticker workbook' -- which had been hiding for a year in the coloring books tub. I'll be darned, but she actually likes it, and clamored to do 4 pages.

In a bit, I'll start my last two dozen apple dumplings for later today. We are due to see the in-laws in about three hours. I'm looking forward to connecting with family and am hoping to get everyone organized for a game of charades. (Or possibly to leave the babes later on at home with the grands, and head out with the sibs to see Four Christmases. We'll see!)

Tomorrow I'll be heading out to Tarjay early for Black Friday. After that, we may head to the park, maybe hook up with my mom or friends for lunch or dinner, and see a holiday flick.

I spoke to my mom this morning and she said she feels more in the spirit than usual, and she thinks its something to do with emphasis on meaning this holiday, instead of materialism. How's that for a silver lining in these economic times? Have a wonderful holiday!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Relationship Building

Last year E and I took a parenting class called 'Raising a Resilient Child in the 21st Century.' It was awesome. Partway through the class we realized that it was really a class about building relationships, not just parenting. A lot of what we learned could be applied to all of the relationships in our lives. However, building relationships is the #1 key to parenting. Not rewards and punishments, sticker charts, etc. But listening, talking, playing and connecting with your children. There's more I'd like to say on this in another post. But what I've been thinking about is some of the homework assignments we had. One was to go on a 'one-on-one' date with your child. Another was to 'make a memory' with your child. Do something that they might remember forever (or at least for a really long time!) My challenge to myself beginning in Dec is going to be to do weekly one-on-one dates with P, and 'make a memory' with her once a month. Brainstorming (affordable) memory making ideas may be a bit tough, but it is very important to me (see my #1 Life Goal on sidebar) . Here's the kicker - I'm going to do the same thing with E! Although I think we will have to do a monthly date. Any ideas for memory making experiences for either? I'm in the market....

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Holiday Card 2008

I thought about including this Halloween photo in our Christmas card....

Or this doozy, (of me in P's preschool class), gotta love the 'teacher face'....

But we went with this instead!

I don't love the ideas of 'studio' photos. I've always wanted to get a photographer to take some more natural photos of us, outside, etc. And I actually know a couple! Maybe that will be our route next year Anyway, after trying to find enough 'in focus' shots of the three of us, that didn't include random people, etc, in the background, we took the easy way out and headed to our local Picture People . We were partly motivated to get some nice shots of the Miss P in her flower girl dress (since we failed at the actual wedding). The card turned out great! (Better in 'real life') And you know what, we ended up getting such a great deal - not only was it the same price as my Kodak Gallery card mock-up, we had the actual cards in hand a couple of hours after the session. Instant gratification....
How is your card quest going?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Not the best Haiku, but.....

Report cards almost done - yay
Turning off my mind
Magazines and TV - aahhhh

Sunday, November 16, 2008

What I'll definitely be doing this December

Is it just me, or can preparing for the holidays almost feel like planning a small wedding each year?

I'm not really complaining. I actually love to plan, organize and take part in all of the festivities. I do think, though, that Christmas (or whatever holiday you celebrate in December) can be more enjoyable if you focus and savor the joys of just a few things, as opposed to doing everything. I read an article on simplifying Christmas last year that suggested determining what 3-5 things were most important to you and your family at holiday time, and doing just that.

Here are my must do's for making the holiday season special (some of them may seem a little silly or superficial, but, hey this is me!):

1) Christmas Music: I love Christmas movies. The ABC Family channel plays original cheesy Christmas movies each year that I typically eat up with a spoon and some hot chocolate. Sometimes, though, it feels a little forced. Like - 'Oh! It's December, better pull out the Christmas movies for the mandatory viewings.' That's not the case with my holiday songs. I love them so much that they are always at the top of my itunes 'most played list' -- even though I only listen for a month each year.

2) Christmas Cards: We missed sending out cards in '05, and I was sorely disappointed. I adore receiving cards, especially the 'family photo' style cards almost everyone does now. I even love getting the 'holiday letter' some people do. I have started saving my cards and putting them in a little scrapbook, which I occasionally look at.

3) Get-togethers with special family and friends: My school has a little holiday shindig (potluck at someone's house of course), and some of E's friends from high school throw a big party that is kind of like a reuinion every December. Both of these events are nice, but I could truthfully miss them and be OK. (One year, we were so starved for a date, that we did miss my school party and went to see 'The Holiday' with Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz - which is now one of my favorite movies of all time, btw.) However, there are a few get-togethers that are really special to me. I have a few friends that I got my teaching credential with. Two of them teach in my district and are married with their own families now. We have a very special friendship and I really relish our annual little Christmas celebration. One has a son Miss P's age and I have a great pic from their first Christmas with the two of them in little red suits clawing at each other, while I laugh hysterically in the background.

It also wouldn't feel like Christmas without my aunt and uncle's party. Growing up, my family spent all its holidays with the relatives on my dad's side - we're talking every special day. As everyone has grown, changed, moved and branched out, that is not the case anymore. However, we still make it to my aunt and uncle's party which is now the weekend before Christmas each year. Spending time with the family I grew up with really says Christmas to me!

4) Special clothes: During these special get-togethers it's important that I (and Miss P) have something special to wear. Not necessarily fancy, just (subtle) festive, cute and appropriate.

5) Church and the true meaning. Finally, attending mass on Christmas Eve is a must-do (as well as pretty much every Sunday). As Miss P gets older (and now attends religious education), I have been really enjoying teaching her about the true meaning of holidays, and Christmas is a big one! Something new I'd like to add to this vein, is a way to give back to the community. We've done different things in the past. I've been talking to E and Miss P about this and I have a few ideas that I will be posting later.

What's on your list?

Friday, November 14, 2008

Celebrity Collage by MyHeritage

This is way fun! (Although the first couple of times I did it, I had several male 'lookalikes,' so don't feel too bad if that happens to you! Hee hee)

I heart Angie Harmon and Kristin Davis!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Thanksgiving Fun - Getting in the spirit

I'm looking for fun activities that demonstrate gratitude and celebrate Thanskgiving. What do you do with your family?

Some ideas I have brainstormed or collected thus far:

~Make Happy Thanksgiving cards (kid versions could have a 'hand turkey' on the front). Inside write a note telling someone how and why you appreciate them, maybe citing a specific example or story.

~Make a big turkey shape out of construction paper and hang it up. Write on construction paper feathers something each member of the family is thankful for. Ask visitors to add their own additions. Send feathers in advance to faraway relatives so that they can be added.

~Fill a thankful jar year round with strips of paper (in Autumn shades or Christmas colors) that list things you are thankful for. Open the jar and read them on Thanksgiving day and then make a paper 'thankful' chain to decorate the house or upcoming Christmas tree with.

Tomorrow I'll post some games the whole family can play, either to keep kiddos busy during feast preparations or to work off a bit of that turkey! Meanwhile, how do you practice gratitude?

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Fun and Games, or How to be the Life of Your Next Party

Oh, I wish I had taken a picture. Last night our playgroup had 'parents night out,' or a 'simultaneous girls and guys night out.' (Girls gathered in one half of the house, guys on the other.) Great times, but we decided to mix it up a bit and play some charades!

I love games. I'm the person who loves activities at showers and even makes parents (sometimes) play ice-breakers at Back to School Night. Oh, people good naturedly moan and groan at first, but, wouldn't you know - everyone is smiling and laughing and having fun in spite of themself within just a bit. I've always wanted to partake in a good old fashioned game of charades, and so last night was the night. The theme was movies and - thank God - I got the easy ones! (Top Gun, A fish called Wanda, Striptease, Full Metal Jacket, to name a few). We did girls against guys and then a 'couples speed round.' Too fun!

I got to thinking about some other games I've enjoyed and thought I'd share. I recommend this game on Thanksgiving while you are letting the turkey digest.

"Consequences." A friend from England taught me this game, and it is E's family's favorite. (some people have recipes, I have entertainment!) You need at least 6 people with a writing tool and piece of paper each. One person gives the 'writing prompts' and everyone passes their paper to the right. Here is how it goes:

1) Write down the name of a woman - someone everyone in the group knows. She can be famous or just familiar. Underneath her name, write the word 'met.' (Then pass to the right)

2) Write a man's name (same directions as with the woman). Underneath his name, write the word 'at.' (pass)

3) Write a place. Underneath write, 'He said to her.' (pass)

4) Write 'a saying.' Underneath that, write, 'She said to him.' (pass)

5) Write another saying. Underneath that, write, 'As a consequence....' (pass)

6) Write a consequence! (pass)

7) One at a time, each person reads their papers out loud.

This is great fun! After one round, each group will 'get it' and find a humor that fits them - from silly to 'R' rated. Great way to bring people together!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Hooray for girlfriends!

Had a 'Surprise around the corner' this morning. Was barely awake when greeted by the ring of the telephone, meaning either 1) a work call, 2) emergency, or 3) a cheerful invitation from my fantastic (early rising) girlfriend. It was the latter! My dear friend A was up organizing breakfast, her hub had taken #1 son to school, and with 'just two' boys underfoot she thought it was a great opportunity to have us over for a quick impromptu date before #2's afternoon preschool. Miss P and I had been snuggling in bed. I was out late last night having an (always) glorious girls' evening. You know the mood I was in yesterday, my 'aunt' is in town, and dear Miss P is 'experimenting' with testing the limits, all which were not particularly helpful. Last night was renewing, and I had awoken determined to make today a wonderful day. I was aware that I've been letting other areas of my life (work, social engagements, desire for clean home) crowd my playtime with P and was determined to spend the day having fun with her.

Anyway, after I hung up, we quickly showered, dressed and grabbed some scones to contribute to the breakfast feast and finally made it by 9:00 a.m. The photo above shows Miss P with her friend M (A's #2 son - and exactly Miss P's age and 'lifelong friend.') Photo was not taken today but shows their bond! Anyway, A's #3 son was sleeping, so we had a relaxing breakfast of banana pancakes, bacon, scones and fruit. This girl rocks - let me tell you. A very rare friend - always generous, gracious, thoughtful, positive, and makes everyone feel comfortable.

Afterward we head to the Discovery Museum and then grocery-shopped. The day had a good balance of fun, together time, and getting things done.

I adore E and Miss P and they are my favorites to spend a day with, but there is just nothing like girlfriends! I have some of the greatest!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

No room for error!

Brrr....we've had various types of weather in the last week and a half. Very warm, to very rainy, to now - cold! I am bundled as we speak.

I have not posted since Halloween as I've been trying to prioritze....I've been bellyaching about stuff that needs to get done, and I finally decided to do something about it! On Saturday (November 1st) we did a major cleaning blitz at home. Our 'secret' to a tidy house: Keep the visitor-trafficked areas (living/dining room, kitchen, guest bathroom, Miss P's room) respectable, while ignoring (not quite) the rest. I decided I didn't want to sleep with the paper shredder next to my bed anymore, so we kicked it's silver metal body out of the room along with E's bobblehead collection. (Bobblehead collection had been waiting in an oh-so-attractive brown box lid, along with a collage frame needing updated photos and a Giants poster. The collection of items had been waiting -- who knows how long -- to make a new home in E's classroom on some mystical future day. I intervened and 'arranged' for the box to move to E's car - unsure if bobbleheads have reached their destination yet.)

Anyway, when I figured out all the things I should be doing to stay on top of the multiple areas of my life at the level I would like to - home (and all that entails) and work (with a partner teacher, student teacher, and twenty families to answer to) - it's a bit daunting. I 'masquerade' as part-time, but it often feels like I'm trying to squeeze full-time work into three days. That's why sometimes it feels like there is no room for error. If I get off schedule, there seems to be a domino effect....and I have one child, and two days off a week! I am in admiration of moms who have mulitple children and full time jobs. (Secrets, anyone?)

When it is good, it is exhilerating to have such full and stimulating days. Other times it can feel a little overwhelming.

I am (trying) to read Quantum Wellness by Kathy Freston. It talks about visualizing what you want, setting an intention, educating yourself about the changes you'd like to make, and then letting yourself shift naturally. I'm only on page 13, but it is resonating with me. Although I was talking about organization and workload above, I do think that is connected to health and wellness, as this book is about health from a mind, body, and spirit perspective.

So, I will find time to do more frequent and likely shorter posts, while forging ahead on what I need to get done. What I know for sure: it is all about how you look at it. Attitude is the key. Because life is what you make it!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!!

We have festive weather today - gray, rainy and gloomy! Just need the hot chocolate...

E has the day off and we have a few errands, the preschool party, maybe lunch out, and then some rest time (Peanut's Halloween?), before a wedding tonight. We are excited for Miss P's flower girl debut...

What are you doing today??

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Musings of the week...

Add in some pictures of me corraling kindergarteners as they paint on themselves and assert their 'independent spirits' (wink) and there you have my week!
Alright, so I can't quite stop there...time for the quick and dirty on several topics...
* * * * *
*Last Saturday our playgroup had its big Halloween party (photo 1). It was a blast. One of the final activities was for the kids to 'mummy wrap' the dads with TP. As we 'wrapped up' the party, the kids found a way to entertain themselves. This was on actually very little sugar...
* * * * *
*Sunday morning after church we decided to go for broke and head to Gilroy Gardens, a family theme park and (as the name implies) gardens. It was decked out for Halloween with scarecrows, pumpkins and they had a treasure hunt. If you can believe it, Miss P literally had to be dragged crying, Ok driven crying. It was one of those 'do I, or don't I' parenting moments. Before we had fully decided to go, we mentioned to Miss P that it was a possibility. "I'm too tired," she told me. Despite that, E and I decided we really wanted to go, make use of our season pass, and have a fun outing (as opposed to staying home and inevitably cleaning the house). We kept putting P off with, 'let's just keep thinking about it,' however as I pulled onto the freeway onramp, she could no longer be fooled and wailed about going. Do we turn around? Commonsense says yes. But we had the sense that her mood would change on a dime once we arrived. And, survey says...yes! it did! (Photos 2, 3 and 4) Score one for mom and dad.
* * * * *
*My students were not in the finest form this week. They had a sub last Thurs and Fri, which may have contributed, and it is Halloween Week. Next week is going to be better! I am going to try and build in a little more downtime for the class, which I think will help. Also this week, I headed up Family Fun Night for our Upper grade students. We had a Halloween-themed dance night. So fun! Thriller, Ghostbusters, a 'dance off' to 'Stayin' Alive.'

*Last night we had the rehearsal for my brother in-law's (Halloween night!) wedding at a winery in Los Gatos. Miss P and her cousin (last photo) are the flower girls. The matching dresses they are wearing were birthday presents from the bride. At the dinner both girls received hot pink jack 'o lanterns filled with treats including Halloween undies (the hit, which Miss P immediately donned this a.m.), and an orange tracksuit from Gymobree. We are looking forward to the extended family get-together.
* * * * *
*Coming up: this Sunday my mom and I will venture to my cousin's wedding shower. I'm looking forward to it, but will the madness ever stop? Will this post.....?

Friday, October 24, 2008

The cupcake!

The pictures really tell the story here. Miss P spent the majority of tonight's school Halloween carnival playing a dancing game where you walk (run) around a circle with numbers and, similar to freeze dance, stop when the music stops. Then a number is pulled and if it is yours, you win a cupcake. Initally Miss P was so moved by the music and desire to demonstrate her dancing prowess (not much for the beag bag toss, our Miss P), that she beelined from the face painting/hair streaking booth (the other fav) to the music spot. After awhile of piroutting around the circle and dramatically posing at the freeze, she was ready to pack it in. I was quite impressed, as I'm always trying to push being active. Anyway, just as she was starting to leave the game and shed her 'dancing queen' blinders, she clued in to the real objective of the activity: winning a cupcake. That girl was back on a number so fast. She played with the best of them. And damn it, if she didn't earn that cupcake finally. A half-a-sugar induced hour later, E was trying to pry her from the basketball hoop and finally carried her to the car. Aaah, I love Halloween!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Somebody get me a collar and fast

Yo. Doggy here. Man, I've been busy. Miss P pulled me out of her cubby yesterday (rousing me from a nap) and instead of going home I was dragged to her mother's classroom. Yuck - snails and worms had just been delivered and suddenly Miss P was all 'excited' over the "live" pets. Hmmpph! Anyway - would you believe she FORGOT ME THERE. There I was, stuck hangin' with the classroom teddy bears (I am more of a Barbie guy, but whatever). Actually, I was kind of starting to have a good time, when, whadda know - in walks Miss P's mom at 8:30 p.m. "Yep, that's right, I'm chopped liver during the day, but come bedtime suddenly everybody wants me." At least that's what I tried to say. Well, Miss P's mom certainly got her comeuppance today!!! I was again in the classroom (like, get a life lady) when Miss P's mom shook a bottle of blue paint that had a loose top. mmm hmmm. Bright. Blue. Paint. everywhere. Want the topper? After all that, she left me again in the room (albeit, only for a few minutes) and then again in P's Auntie's classroom (again just for a minute). Will those two ever learn? I finally made it to dinner and snuck in a few bites of burger, fries, and a beer. I heard something about a Pottery Barn Kids concert tomorrow. Hope I'm not left there. On second thought, I have been eyeing a certain doll....

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Hooray for Halloween

Today kicked off our official Halloween season. After church we headed to Then there were two... 's house to have a final planning meeting for our playgroup's Halloween bash next week. I think it's going to be amazing! With 4 year olds, we are beginning to feel quite the experienced moms - ha ha. To be fair, we have done a handful of these gigs, beginning when these little ones were just starting to walk.
We are expecting about 20 families so we want to be organized, and so far we are right on target. Here's our rough plan: Families arrive and kids play at various stations including pumpkin bowling, apple bobbing, arts and crafts and the standard bounce house. Then, we will do whole group activities like freeze dance to Halloween tunes and "Witchy Witchy" (see bottom of post for directions). Group games will be followed by dinner. After dinner, we'll do a mummy wrap activity, a practice trick or treat, and finally a parade around the neighorhood. The party will end with a Halloween Hunt in the front yard, with whatever 'treats' we have left. Then it's 'adios!' (Except for those of us cleaning up). All that in about 2 1/2 hours or less! Should be a great time.
The pictures at the beginning of this post are from today's Halloween party. We left the 'planning get-together,' and drove straight to a friend's Halloween spooktacular. I was so thrilled with both my NEW CAMERA and the decorations that I couldn't resist snapping a bunch of pictures and posting them. Besides the gorgeous decorations (these pictures actually do not do them justice), and the yummy treats, the highlights of this party were the bounce house (even Paige, a non-Tigger, hopped in - once the crowd cleared), the crafts table and multiple pinatas. Next up - our school's Halloween walk-a-thon and Carnival Friday night.
"Witchy Witchy" Directions: The 'witch' (ideally wearing a witch hat, and usually a grown up for the younger set) stands at one end of the yard with all of the children standing in a horizontal line at the other end. Children call, "Witchy Witchy, what time is it??" The witch chooses any time (except 12 o'clock, or midnight), such as "4 o'clock." Children must take that many steps (4) forward. Then the children ask the question again. Play continues until the children are very close to the witch. (The witch will often tease, by saying 'One clock' a few times at the end, so the children are verrry close.) Finally, the witch yells, 'Midnight!!!!!' Makes a scary face and chases children back to the starting line. Once the game is clear, children take turns being the witch, and play continues until each child has had a turn.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

On my own time

So a girlfriend was kind enough to forward some pictures from our girls' weekend which was....sigh....last weekend. There I am on the end in the white sweater. The wine wife (husband and wife winery team) posed us 'gals' for the picture with the refrain 'glasses at the hips ladies, glasses at the hips!'

I was fortunate to have the weekend away! Last night, as I snuck in a bit of computer time as Miss P readied for bed and E was doing somethingorother, he announced to me that I needed to hop off the computer to assist her and return 'on my own time.' Just to confirm, I asked him, 'when is my own time?' Response: 'Early in the morning before P and I are awake.' Just checking. Guess what, I hauled my happy arse up extra early this a.m. with visions of coffee, my tivo'd Starter Wife, and computer in my head. Within 15ish minutes the telltale patter of little feet exuberantly greeted me. As soon as my feet hit the floor, an alarm sounds in her room saying it's 'go time' for her. So now she is Dragon Tale-ing it up. Love, love love the fam. Love my own time. : )

(Have to add: He's really a great guy! And I have nothing to complain about, I'll be meeting a friend for lunch today to celebrate her birthday)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

"You like really like me..."

All Things Southern & Preppy surprised me with a smile award last week. What? You aren't familiar with the smile award? Let me fill you in:

Characteristics for the Smile Award:
1. Must display a cheerful attitude. After some coffee, yes.
2. Must love one another. This is true about me. I even like people who are a little iffy about me. Drive E crazy with always sticking up for the other person (i.e., "No, no, really. I know she basically trashed me, but I think it was just a bad day.")
3. Must make mistakes. You bet!
4. Must learn from others. Ditto.
5. Must be a positive contributor to blog world. Workin' on it.
6. Must love life. Every day.
7. Must love kids. Have I mentioned I teach kindergarten?

These are the rules for the Smile Award:
1. The recipient must link backto the awards creator. yes!
2. You must post these rules if you receive the award. got it!
3. You must choose 5 people to receive the award after receiving it yourself. easy.
4. You must fit the characteristics of the recipient of the award. think so.
5. You must post the characteristics of a recipient. my pleasure.
6. You must create a post sharing your win with others. done.
7. You must thank your giver. and done.

The five people that I choose to keep this award going are the following:
(I noticed some of them recently received it. However, I wanted to keep the list I had in my head, upon originally receiving the award last week.)

3 Peanuts : Such a gracious, stylish and intelligent mom of three! A lot of class on that blog!

Happy Homemaker: Her blog is private and I was so happy to be able to keep reading. Love hearing about the special relationship she has with her daughter. She is a great mom to both of her kids, and seems like a really fun person.

Biscuits are NEVER Boring : Very creative lady who throws the best parties. Have saved her descriptions of birthday celebrations (following clues around the house to find all the gifts) and admire all of her school and church volunteer efforts.

my happy little life : Amazing writer who speaks passionately about things that matter.

One Fabulous Mom :Very fun and savvy gal with an innovative style. Speaks her mind and really works to connect with her readers.


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

By the Numbers

5 - Glorious hours of unwatched excitement on Tivo, waiting for me and the gleeful after bedtime hours...

4 - Brand new, crisp, shiny magazines waiting to be thumbed through and devoured.

3 - Days since I've indulged in Starbucks (and instead used my affordable substitute, General Foods International Coffee Cafe Francais)

2 - new Tafetta Belle skirts (on sale, chi-ching) from J. Crew. One in mustard yellow, the other in "Fall Blue" according to the salesgirl (oh, the marketing genius).

1 - more day of work this week!

Have a good one!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Girls' Weekend!

If you haven't done it.... I highly reccomend a girls' getaway weekend! This is the second year the moms in our playgroup have made it happen. Last year we went in December to San Francisco for two days of checking out decorations, shopping, eating, relaxing and girl talk. Oh, and we squeezed in some 'spirits' and a night of dancing.

This year we tried something different - an Autumn wine tasting weekend. One of our ultra-organized gals had the idea to jaunt off to a sleepy town about an hour northeast. Livermore has a growing quaint-ish downtown and at least half a dozen wineries, but not much else. We nabbed a two bedroom suite for the six of us at a dirt cheap price, making it hard to say no. With dads and kids set up with food and plans, we made our getaway at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday morning. By noon we were picnicing and tasting at our first winery. Oh, it was heaven - the best medicine for stress. Although, I had been trying to not succumb, I had been feeling a bit overwhelmed by everything going on in the world. Even though, we are not yet directly affected by the financial crisis, I find the 'worry' about it contagious. That, along with a host of other concerns that made me feel a bit overwhelmed, had been wearing on me. Yet, as we talked and clinked glasses, I had such a feeling of empowerment. I felt ready to go back and tackle everything! Meanwhile, I tried to take in all the fun of the moment. We hit three really different, eclectic and lively wineries, sat in the hot tub, chatted tons, had a very nice dinner, and capped off the evening with a viewing of Sex in the C*ity in our apartment-type hotel room. Today we breakfasted, shopped, and lunched before heading home.

We are already in discussions for the next getway. I'm not sure how soon I'll be able to escape again, but it will happen eventually!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Yay for me!

Me: "I did 20 parent conferences this week and gave all the parents really good information about where their child is at school!"

Miss P: "I can draw a little girl with long eyelashes!"

Me: "Yesterday I did all of your laundry!"

Miss P: "I shared, even with children who were not using their words."

Me: "I wrote this week about ways to feel happier, which I hope will help people."

Miss P: "I tried some new foods!"

Me: "I have done a lot to get to get our schedules and money organized."

Miss P: "Sometimes I fall down really hard, but then I get up."

Me: "Yay, for me!"

Miss P: "Yay, for me!"

You? What's your yay for me? Comment!!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Today, we are talking about...

Positive Visualization! It can be fun to picture what you would like life to be like. Whether you imagine yourself speaking confidently, looking your best, or staying calm under duress, positive visualization is a surefire tool. Here are two tricks:

1) Best Self Journal: Get yourself a pretty journal, a pen, something delicious to drink and steal about a half an hour. Now, imagine your life one year from now. Pretend everything you have hoped and worked for has happened. Describe in detail what life is like. Try repeating the same exercise but making it five years from now. How about 10 years from now? The objective is to first help you figure out some commonalities; what is it you really want in life? Second, it can help you to build optimism. What I found worked is to really shoot for the stars, yet still keep somewhat within reason (i.e., I didn't win the lottery or move into my dream house. I did feel healthier and had better self esteem). Through this exercise, you can really start to see that a lot of what you want is reachable. The idea is to repeat it regularly, and slowly you'll find your life evolving to meet the ideals you are writing about.

I actually did this excercise with a group of friends and it was really fun!

2) Board of Directors: When you are feeling a bit low, or not very confident, you might try this strategy. Think of a couple of people you really admire. People you trust, respect and feel comfortable with. It can be your mom, grandma, or a celebrity. (Mine are Oprah and a friend who is really supportive and amazing). Next, picture a favorite place (mine always involves a couch and steaming mugs of something, but the details - wraparound porch, beach, in front of the fireplace - vary.) When you need a little lift or some guidance, imagine yourself in that comfy place with your very own 'board of directors.' Imagine what you'd say, and then the helpful, uplifting way they might respond. (Of course, talking to real friends is ideal, this is just another option to try.)

Tomorrow, I will post about savoring life's joys, with a focus on my favorite things!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

A shout out for gratitude

Counting your blessings, and not just at Thanksgiving, is a definite mood lifter. Studies show that it may be almost impossible to feel negative emotions while you are focused on being grateful.

Here are a couple of quick ideas:

1) Think of someone you really appreciate. Maybe it's a parent or in-law who is readily available to help with your children. Or a friend who is a good listener. Someone who inspired or taught you something. Take a few minutes and write that person a letter detailing what he or she did for you and how it has affected you. You will find pleasure both in your own description, and in the pleasure you know the other person will feel when reading it. (You might also consider reading it out loud.)

2) Play the gratitude game with your child. Very simple, passes the time while driving, waiting in line, etc., And once again, models an important practice. Simply take turns sharing back and forth things you are thankful for. (With really young children you might be doing most of the sharing. Eventually they will get the idea!) Consider child-friendly ideas, such as 'I'm thankful for tonight's yummy dinner,' or even, 'I'm thankful for pizza!' Another plus of the gratitude game is that it is just a great conversation starter. And, a way for you to learn more about your child and how he or she thinks.

These are just two ideas. Anyone have another? Share!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Well Being Week continues....

Did you know that you can easily feel happier almost every day? Research shows that a large part of how happy you feel on a daily basis is due to your habits and behavior. When we think or behave in a negative way over and over, we are wiring our brains for unhappiness. (Similar to the cravings we develop for chocolate or junk food if we eat it on a regularly). The good news is that scientists have now learned that through changed habits and conciously altering your thinking patterns, you can increase how happy you feel (even though on paper your life is the same as always). You can read more about this in books such as The How of Happiness by Sonja Lyubomirsky and Happy for No Reason by Marci Shimoff.

Happiness Tip #2: Yesterday, we talked about setting our intentions. Here is a way to help that positive intention grow. Let's say your intention is to feel more joyful. Throughout the day, make a game of noticing things that bring you joy, whether it is that first sip of coffee, falling yellow leaves, the color of the sky, children's laughter, a great book, or a hello from a friend. See if you can count 10 joyful moments in an hour. Like setting intentions, this could be a game to enjoy with your children. What a wonderful practice to share with them! The fantastic thing is, this intention flicks on the reticular activating system (RAS) in your brain, which is responsible for turning on your memory system. Meaning the more you do it, the more automatic and effortless it will be to find the joy.

Let me know if you try it!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Feel the Joy, Day 1

Welcome to Happiness Week! It's no accident that this blog is named Life is what you make it. I really believe this, although sometimes I need reminders! This week I will share my various strategies for keeping a positive attitude. Why am I so passionate about this? I've always felt strongly about my outlook, but having Miss P around really solidifies this. I think, arguably, the most important thing I can teach her is how to find her own happiness (not wait for it to come find her) and how to be resilient, especially when the chips are down. Similiarly, life can't be much fun if mom is gloomy, so I work to stay 'funk-free' (most of the time.) These ideas come from books, articles, conversations, and my own (ahem) wisdom. They are not new, but perhaps something will resonate with you this time. If so, let me know!
Today's Happiness Hint: Try starting the day by setting your 'intention.' This is a great practice to share with your children. Happiness is (most of the time) a choice. Decide how you will feel that day. Will you focus on being content, finding humor, or feeling joyful? Choose how you'd like to feel and conciously make a decision to evoke that feeling throughout the day. If you find yourself straying away, or losing the feeling, remind yourself of your intention. Use music, jokes, excercise or just close your eyes and visualize something to bring the feeling back. I personally will do silly yoga poses with my daughter, make funny faces, and sing loudly. Laughter is really the best medicine. If you are home with your kids, check in with each other about your intentions. They are almost never too young to start. Even if they can't make their own yet, they will learn a lot from hearing you talk about yours.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Tricks up my sleeve...

Decided to take a page from Jen on the edge awhile back and start a tradition of Thursday nacho night. (As we arrive home late from swim lessons and need something fast and yummy.)
(This is said to give the impression that on other nights I make something more time consuming. I do not.) Anyway, they were delish! Miss P does not care for most foods outside her general rotation however. How did we get her to the table? Offer bribes? No. Threaten punishments? No. Demand? No. Here's what I did:

Me (sitting at the table across from E, while Miss P plays in her room, 'not hungry'): "Hey daddy let's play a game!"
E: "Yeah, sounds fun. What?"
Me (loud voice): "Diamond Castle girls! I'll be Liana, with the dark hair, you be Alexa with the light hair!"
Miss P (horrified voice, from the other room): "Liana has the LIGHT HAIR mommy! Alexa has the DARK HAIR!"
Me (to E): "Look, here are some heart shaped stones, Alexa. We could make special necklaces."
Me (Stage whisper to E): "Best friends, today, tomorrow, and forever."
E (repeats in loud voice): "Best friends today, tomorrow, and forever."
Miss P (shrieking): Best friends today, tomorrow, and ALWAYS daddy!
Miss P runs to join the table and continues to further explain and act out the intricacies of Diamond Castle (finally eating the nachos)
Her verdict on the dinner: "I love it."
And that's why I get paid the big kisses and hugs.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Getting Organized

So, the other day after a barbie shoe had been lost, take-out had been eaten (again) and swim lessons had been missed, P and I decided to kick things up a notch. I uttered a favorite phrase of mine.....'let's get organized!' And off we went...

We started by walking the house and making note of the toy-lined playroom floor and unmade beds. Then we sat down for a chat. First, I told little miss P that we can not live in clutter canyon and that we need desperately to get back on a schedule. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday I work and P spends most of the day at preschool, so we really only have two days to try and squeeze in fun, quality time, and home chores.

I grabbed a sheet of paper and divided it into 4 sections: Things P wants to do, Things mom wants to do, Things we both want to do together, and Things we don't like to do, but need to do. Here's how it turned out:

Things P wants to do:
*Play dolls
*Browse at Target (not any store, mind you, Target)
*Watch a movie

Things mom wants to do:
*Go to Starbucks

Things we want to do together
*Outings/dates to the Discovery Museum, library, etc.
*Playdates with friends
*Crafts, baking, stories at home
*Singing and dancing

Things we need to do, but may not want to do
*Grocery shop
*Prepare 3 healthy meals a day
*Clean up after ourselves throughout the day (no major labor, we're talking making beds in the a.m., taking care of dishes after each meal, putting away toys after playing with them)
*Swimming lessons (this is not a hard sell, just time-consuming)

What I loved most about this discussion was P's participation. She sat and listenend attentively, made great contributions to the talk, and seemed to really 'get it.' Once we finished, I let her go and play while I then scheduled out the tasks into the two days, keeping in mind a mix of activities and a host of other considerations. (I will now be getting up an hour earlier.) I'm really excited for Thursday to roll around to give it a try!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

They're back!

A lot has been going on, but due to some computer glitches on Friday and Saturday, I wasn't able to post. Hopefully tomorrow. For now, I am going to cap my weekend off with some old friends...

Thursday, September 25, 2008

New way of looking at things...

I think I'm pretty 'Type B.' However, I tend to have very high standards for my life. Like I want everything to be perfect. Always searching for 'leaks and cracks' (as the self-help authors would say) and blowing them out of proportion.

Today I had an epiphany. If something as small as fighting with my husband about driving (I'm a scaredy cat and am always stepping on my imaginary break through curves, hills and hectic highways) is my biggest problem -- how freaking lucky am I??

With the number of people dealing with deaths, divorces, children with serious challenges, major illnesses, and crippling financial woes --- how lucky am I to have the time and luxury to needle over small things?

Now, when I find myself bothered over some minor wrinkle, I will be thankful. Thankful that my 'problem bank' is clearly so vacant that it needs to 'reach' for material.

So bring on the itty bitty issues! I'm ready with a greatful heart.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Going bananas!

Disclaimer: this is not a very satisfying story......

So, a week and a half ago, my camera went ahead and took a little vacation without telling me. Story goes like this, it was Wednesday night, after back to school night, after a debrief with my student teacher, around 9:15 p.m., when I was preparing for the following Monday (my next teaching day). I took a few pictures of classroom storybooks and that's the last I saw of my beloved picture-taker.

I had been zipping back and forth to my desk to check what was next on Monday's lesson plans and then off to prep that part of the lesson. I thought for sure after I took the photos that I raced back to my desk and set the camera on top, or placed it inside my purse. Anyway, I didn't look for it until a few days later on Saturday, and after checking all over the classroom, home, in my car and with colleagues it still hasn't surfaced. It was a new camera so I have been just plain nauseated whenever I think of it. There is just no explanation. I was actually going a bit bananas. Even E wasn't frustrated with me, as he could see how I punished myself. We decided we should just get (another) new camera, and if the old one turns up - great - we'll have a spare.

Just when I was making peace with myself...

Today, I was racing out to go to church solo, when my remote car alarm stopped working (again). I raced upstairs to switch keys with E, and then was on my way. Later at home, we divvied up our errands and decided to switch cars, and so I was given another pair of keys. Do you see where this is going?

After dinner, E decides to replace the battery on my key's remote alarm. He can't find 'em. Sighing, I push back my chair. I'm certain they are in my purse. Nope! I start searching though the house, first casually, then wildly. Not again! I had not touched them since the morning church episode. What could have happened? I even go through the recycling outside. Finally, I check in E's car which I had been driving. Hallelujah. There they are in the cubby between seats. (Why were they out? Think I must have subconsciously taken them out as I approached my car, and then tossed them in the cubby - instead of purse - when not needed.)

Oh, but the story doesn't end. As I am preparing for tomorrow's work day, I decide to call my teaching partner. E is on the landline, so I reach for my good old cell phone. Hmm, strange, not in it's spot. I continue to look in back-up places. No, no, no. Yes, yes, yes, another wild goose chase ending with me calling my phone from our landline (once it was free), calling the last store I was in, etc. Finally, E races back to his car (I had already ran out there to search) and finds, yes, the phone, in the space between the passenger seat and the door.

Is there a full moon out tonight? Me thinks me need to s-l-o-w down a bit. I can be a bit careless with things like sunglasses, but not to this degree. I try and take a lesson from frustrations. I think this lesson is telling me that I need to limit my to do list (although it is very tempting to do as much as I can squeeze in) so I can stay more present of small details. Re-reading this post, I see an image of myself like a bat out of hel*, with my phone sliding out of my purse into the door. Unnecessary!

Here's to a smoother week.....

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Top reasons I'm a slacker mom lately!

Today as Paige and I shared a typical Friday morning, stopping at Starbucks for my cup of heaven and Paige's chocolate milk, followed by a walk through the shopping center to pause at Diddam's Halloween decorations and peruse the latest magazines at Safeway (P: Disney Princess and Fairies, Me: Us Weekly), I had an epiphany: Aren't there other things I should be doing right now? I am slackin'! Here are some other areas I've been slacking in lately:

3) Miss P's school readiness: P attends a play based preschool three days a week. I hear she is doing great (i.e.: she cooperates, takes turns, is attentive at circle time, etc). I know she's a pretty bright cookie in terms of language development and general knowledge. I also know she is only writing the first three letters of her name independently. Developmentally appropriate? Yes. I also know as a kindergarten teacher, that it will behoove her to have strong fine motor next year. Do I do anything to support this at home? Very little. Seems like we are too busy having fun singing and dancing...
2) Program watching: Thank heavens for the high quality children's programs out there, or I'd really be mortified. (I can hear 'Steve' singing now: "line, line, circle, circle..") P doesn't really watch that much I guess, but there has been an increase lately. Last year P would go three to four days a week without watching any TV (yes, I counted), and now I feel like I give in too quickly when I have something important to do, you know, like talk on the phone or blog.
1) Nutrition: Oh lord, this is the biggie. Again, P used to eat very healthy as a baby and toddler. Now as a preschooler who obviously only eats people food, she has adopted my sub-par eating habits. I'm one who longs to eat healthy, but totally caves for fast food and sweets. Like one who tries every diet and fails, I have tried many healthy eating regimes, that end up going south after a few weeks. Making matters worse, she has received, I don't know, 5? goody bags at preschool filled with suckers and hard candy, along with a full-size bag of cotton candy at a back to (pre)school carnival. 1 point for me for at least trashing that stuff ASAP. However -1 point for the fruit snacks and granola bar she had for dinner (in my classroom) when I was working late last Wednesday night...
So, there you have it. I'm a slacker... : )
How about you???
Update: Paige turned off the TV and is now on the floor next to me practicing her name and drawing people. Maybe there is hope for us yet!!!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

So far, a great, yet exhausting year...

Whew, another marathon day. Left the house about 7:20 a.m., made my 'must stop' to Starbucks, then arrived to the classroom to begin my day. Rolled up my sleeves, and dug into work, prioritizing and tweaking lessons for the 45 minutes before the students arrived. When the first bell rang, it was time to put on the music, and get the show on the road. I think the actress in me (I starred in the high school plays), loves the chance to be on stage, the controlling part of me, the leader, loves to have the autonomy, and the mommy part of me likes to be able to have chunks of the day where I can calmly focus on projects without interruption (this would be before and after the students are in the room!) After a high energy day with just a 40 minute lunch break, I had a two hour grade level meeting. Was I done then? No! I zipped next door to pick my daughter up at preschool, chatted with friends outside for a bit, settled her back in my room and let her watch two videos and eat a snack and then finally dinner, while I called and emailed parents, made copies, prepped an art project, read through and sorted parent paperwork, and called my partner (who is on tomorrow) to chat about everything and plan curriculum. Despite it all, I have to say, I am really enjoying this school year.

And I don't want to think or talk work, until I'm 'on again' next Monday.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Little 'tube therapy

After I took naps on both Friday and Saturday (something I never do), I realized I was likely fighting Miss P's bug. Thankfully she's better now. Yesiree, just in time for school tomorrow.
We had a nice family weekend of needed downtime together. Today I got busy and collected about 12 bags of old toys, clothes and other miscellaneous stuff. How could one kid accumulate so much? Anyway, about halfway through my efforts I realized I had misplaced my camera. Yesterday as part my weekend (home) warrior routine I worked on fall decorating. I wanted to get some pics of my efforts thus far, and that's when I realized the camera was missing. After some major mental retracing, I remembered having the item last Wednesday night when I was at school. I was taking some photos of books for a project I'm doing tomorrow. Anyway, I raced to school not once, but two separate times tearing the room apart and can..not..find..the camera! Soooo aggravating. I am usually pretty mellow, but I let myself get a little nuts over this, because it is a newly purchased camera (had left the old one at the park in July. Raced back for it an hour later, and some kids had taken off with it.) Anyway, finally realized the agonizing wasn't helping. Hopefully it will show up!!!
About the photo above. After getting Miss P to bed, and churning about an hours worth of work out (weekly classroom newsletter, parent's copy of yearlong math plan, and updated daily schedule, along with emails to jobshare, student teacher, and principal), I settled down with this cute new show Privileged. Very cute and just what I needed! Go Monday!

Friday, September 12, 2008


What a week! Remember how I was saying how much I've been enjoying being back at school?? Still am, but this week has worn me out some.

I'm enjoying the kids and actual teaching quite a bit, but lets just say there have been some 'politics' and extraneous nonsense going on, that's been a bit draining. We had Back to School Night on Wednesday night (which is my Friday, last day of the week.) I stayed until nearly 10 p.m. finishing my prep for next week. Typically, I pick up P from preschool, we are home at a decent hour for dinner, bath and bed. As soon as her lights are out, I'm back in action working from home and then showering, and doing morning prep.

Anyway, last night I came home to learn that Miss P has a bug. At least she waited until I put my ' Th/F SAHM Hat' on to fall apart. Yesterday and today we have just laid low. Actually yesterday, P was pretty significantly under the weather. However she perked up when I suggested we zip to Target to buy Barbie's new Diamond Castle movie. We zipped over shortly after they opened, grabbed the film, and stopped at Bucks on the way home to get coffee and my beloved pumpkin scone. We had a nice mellow day together.

What I find usually happens on my Thursday and Friday off, is I'm filled with huge to-do lists. I want to clean the house, run errands, plan the weekly menu, but also, have some fun quality time with Miss P. Go to the park, library, museum, or zoo. Have playdates. I am keenly aware that this is our last year at home together, and already feel disconcerted thinking about how next year I'll be ALONE on my days off - not ready for that! Still want our special time. Anyway, what usually happens is that we do our fun stuff for most of the day, and the rest of the time, I spend somewhat lazily sipping my coffee, organizing, catching up on emails and phone calls, while P watches her programs, reads or plays on her own. I'm basically recovering after 3 days of non-stop work and connecting with the outside world again. Then around 5:00 p.m. I'm hastily doing a zippy quick cleanup and throwing something together for dinner that is only a few rungs up from what's on the table on a worknight.

Today, P was feeling much better. We actually headed out to Tar-jay again for just a short outing. My daughter is such a shopper. I do enjoy a putter around Target with a coffee in hand, but this is a world class event for P. We had fun looking at the Halloween decorations for awile, then headed to what P has affectionately dubbed 'the girls' area.' She ooohed and aahhed for awhile, then turned to me and said: 'Mommy, this is the best time I've had in awile. Let's just really enjoy this magical experience together.' No lie. (Have to admit, I talk a bit like this.) Some of the 'nonsense' I mentioned earlier re-reared it's head in the form of new preschool fees and miscommunications. After a few irate yet articulate phone calls, I handled the 'bidness.' Sigh.

This weekend I hope to recoop with a little cozying up with my new book Odd Mom Out by Jane Porter, some 'bucks and a little couch time with the fam. Sometimes an under the weather kid can give you just the break you needed!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Happy Fall

Good Lord, it's Pumpkin Scone time at Starbucks again. Had my first of the season this morning; is tomorrow too soon for another? Dee-lish!
Here are some other things I'm excited about this Fall....
School! As a teacher, you'd think that I'd be still in mourning for summer, but you know, I was actually ready to be back last week. Weirdo that I am, being busy accomplishing things, and having structure and routine really work for me. I love having the balance of three days working (I jobshare), and then four days off. The days off feel like dreams! During the summer, when each day is off, I start to feel a bit in a rut. During the school year, I love working hard, and then feeling like I'm earning my laziness on my off days with Miss P, sipping some 'bucks and going to the park.
Holidays! I'm a big holiday nerd, and my favorites are all in the Fall/Winter: Halloween, Thanksging and Christmas. Miss P's fav is Halloween. Around here, the Halloween 'Spirit' stores have billboards along the main streets advertising their wares. It's a big black and white sign with a ghoul. P loved it last year, we would purposely take routes that would lead us pass the Spirit Ghoul. I love Thanksgiving because it is so much fun to teach; we have a big feast and parade at school, and of course there is the whole gratitude concept. Finally, Christmas - no brainer. I'm a total shmaltz, crying at commercials, etc., I totally eat up all the Christmas rituals - from decorating to teaching P about the story and true meaning.
Cozy times! Where we live, we don't really have weather, but it does get chillier and eventually rainy. I love bundling up and and watching a movie, sipping coffee or hot chocolate while the rain falls. I love the sound and visual of rain (while watching safely/warmly from my perch on the couch.) And of course I dig a comfy sweater, pea coat, and scarf.
New TV Season! What to do when braindead on a weeknight? In late Fall, never fear, some good TV is sure to be near!
What do you love about Fall???

Saturday, August 30, 2008

What do you think of Sarah Palin???

What an interesting race! While I am passionate about our country, I admit I am not as
knowledgeable about the issues and the candidates as I'd like to be - I am working on this. Quoting Obama, I find this woman compelling. I think she was probably a smart choice for McCain (although I hear he has only met her once? Seems kind of bizarre.) Like many women (and people in general), I am looking for someone to relate to. Someone new, energetic, passionate, dynamic. Why must all the the power go to an older, white gentlemen year after year after year? Thank goodness this election the race has included some variety in gender and race.

One thing I am mulling over is how one balances being an effective parent to five children, including a special needs infant, and running for v.p. Parenting one special needs child is a full-time job in my eyes. Parenting a small brood of children is a full-time job in my eyes.
Not saying it can't be balanced, there are different ways to do things. But just
curious about it. Again, I know if it were a man with five children, including a special needs
infant, that would likely not be a consideration. Perhaps Mr. Palin is going to step up and
be full-time dad?

Anyway, congratulations to Sarah Palin on getting the nod. I'm really curious to hear others' thoughts on her and the race in general.

Friday, August 29, 2008

You watch what?

OK, raise your hand if you have a daughter and have seen a Barbie movie. I'm telling you, these movies are good. I've always been neutral on Barbie. However, when my daughter first received a doll at age 3 or 3 1/2 from a friend, I felt she was a bit young...however, being fairly relaxed about things like this, I shrugged and moved on. A friend's little girl who is a year older then got into Barbie big time and we were introduced to the movies. People, these are quality productions. Unlike the website (which I'm not a fan of), Barbie isn't portrayed as a simpering fashionista. Instead, in each film she is a brave, strong woman who makes good choices as she navigates through the plot. There are 2 categories of movies: musicals and action/adventure which are often based on familiar stories, such as Rapunzel. The musicals (Princess and the Pauper and Island Princess) are my favorite. The songs, particularly in Princess and Pauper, are amazing and the choreography is impresive too. I also recommend The Nutcracker and Swan Lake. No singing in these movies, but the music, of course is also beautiful. Need a little down time for your small fry....give these a try!

Monday, August 25, 2008

We've come a long way, baby!

Today, P turned 4. She's had a spectacular birthday. Yesterday, we had a pajama party for her, at a local kids play place that we were able to reserve. All the kids came in their jammies, there was free-play on the slide and tunnels, and in the play kitchen and amongst all the toys. Face painting and a craft - moon and star wands - were also an option. I did a shared reading (little teacher talk here) of an excellent book 10 Minutes til Bedtime by Peggy Rathmann. I digress a bit, but it is an great choice for preschoolers and kinders. The illustrations are so amazing (especially if you compare it with her other books, like Goodnight Gorilla - there are some secrets and surprises in the pages!) Anyway! We also played musical sleeping bags. Pictured above is (obviously) the cake. The little bunnies on top are supposed to be slippers. I think a really fun time was had by all. I'm a dork, but I really love birthday parties...

Today, the actual birthday, E and I had to work, but a lovely friend of mine took P for the day and made it a nice time for her while I zigged and zagged about the classroom. Isn't this strange. My co-teacher's daughter has the same birthday - she turned 5 today. And, my brother and sister-in-law gave birth to their daughter this morning. She wasn't due until Sept. 2nd (first baby), hadn't dropped - total surprise. How crazy that out of all the days, she and P would land on the same birthday. I remember when SIL was talking about when (roughly) she had conceived and I joked that maybe her and her big cousin would share a birthday. Little did I know that it would happen! It's kind of crazy that another cousin is here. E and I have been together for about 12 years now and it is so bizarre to me that almost all the sibs are married with kids. E being the second oldest, we have really watched the younger ones 'come of age.' There have been five babies born in the last three years. It's so interesting to watch people grow up. Anyway. I picked up P and went home to meet E and the three of us played for awhile and then went to Red Robin for din-din, came home, opened some presents, played some more and then lights out. All in all, a good day.

Back to title of this post, so much has changed in the last four years. Not just the extended family baby boom, but in our small family. When P was first born, we took our time connecting. Motherhood felt foreign to me, like an ill-fitting pair of pants. I was fond of my small daughter, and wanted to care for and protect her. But I didn't feel that bliss, that amazement, I so wanted to experience. My mom remarked, 'I can see it is difficult - but, don't you feel like you just can't imagine life without her?' Me - 'ummm, no?' It didn't help that we had to return to the hospital a few days later because she caught a bug and spent a few days hooked up to machines, we had breastfeeing issues, our insurance was a mess, she cried a lot, and slept, little, etc, etc. I did OK for awhile, then started having insomnia because I felt just so out of sorts. It was a terrible time. What did I do? Pulled myself up by my bootstraps, started taking some meds to help me sleep, reached out for support, joined a moms group, and went back to work part-time (huge help). I look at pictures of that chapter. I looked pretty good. I remember having some nice moments. But struggling. And then, around five months, the clouds parted and the sun came out. I clearly remember, feeling 'Oh my goodness, I like being a mom! This is for me! This is fun! This kid rocks!' I continued to need meds to sleep for awhile longer, but I began to experience vividly the pleasure of motherhood. I composed songs for her, pushed her in the swing, stared to feed her solids, read stories, and flushed with pride as she sat up solidly on her own. Things continued to blossom and really soared again probably around age 2 1/2. I remember thinking - 'wow, she can run, talk, sing, play games. If I thought I enjoyed her before, well, this is really the &%$#.' By then, I was very active in my mom's group, participating with P in mommy and me type classes and just loving the new things we could share. I was able to finagle a reduce in work to three days a week. Now, at age 4, I really cannot imagine life without her. Along with my husband, she is definitely the most important person in my life. From our made-up games, sing-alongs, similar personalities and shared interests in so many things, I am awed by the gift of her and our relationship. Happy birthday, baby. We sure have come along way.