Friday, February 28, 2014

7 Friday Quick Takes about getting kids to talk and a favorite park

1 There is a crazy park in the town over from us that could have been designed by army men. No frills, all serious equipment with a park wide obstacle course designed and built with heaps of old tires and wooden structures with moving and floating walkways, shaking balance beans, and other challenging creations.

2 Euly was a little blue about something and Nick suggested we make a visit to that park. I didn't make the connection that he knew it was a happy place for them when they wanted to work hard and burn off unhappy feelings. What a sensitive brother!

3 This shot inspired me it was time to pray the Angelus. 

4  I got to thinking of ways to get the middle kids to talk to me more often about their thoughts and feelings. These two are pretty close and spend a lot of time together. When one sits down with me with a problem, it's many times after they've discussed it with the other. I'm thankful for sibling friendships! I don't want mommy guilt to tug at me about trying to be all their closest confidants. I am glad they have a confidant, especially one I know and trust. 

Front seat priveledges are best way to get one to talk to me, unfortunately that coveted spot in the car is for the oldest child present. Non negotiable. Kid created and enforced. A right of passage. May not always be the child who needs to talk.

I have find other opportunities for chit chat. Working on a project together (that isn't math), is a good time for talk, like cooking, but even better is time set apart for sketching or other art mediums. Hands busy, mind free, talks happen.

6 After home from the park, Ceci asked me to go for a walk, (I usually take an evening walk with Molly, she was out with friends). I am so happy that I said yes. The shortest loop is three miles, Ceci was up for it. She talked The. Whole. Walk. about all kinds of things, past, present, future, here, there...
She asked if I liked going with her as much as going with Molly. Of course I did!  Ceci was charged with enthusiasm the rest of the evening from our time together. Filled my heart too.

7 Another sure way to get them to talk, to sit on their beds at bedtime, or even snuggle with then for a few minutes to see if they want to talk about anything that's on their mind. The time before sleep is a special time. 

Got any sure fire ways you get yours talking about what's on their minds? 

Have a happy Friday and a great weekend!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

{p,h,f,r} at the Children's Museum

round button chicken
~ Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life ~

I process events and every day occurrences in my life through journaling. In my past. I wrote in hard bound books kept by my  bedside, noting things about life as my days passed. The 90's along came Creative Memories scrap booking craze, and my photo albums became my scrapbook journals. Then two years ago, for me, along came the blog journal, simplifying the process. 

When we have a big outing, like a trip to the Children's Museum, I process the memories, impressions and the decompressing of the day by sorting through pictures, tickets, receipts and writing up a post.
Our day at the Children Museum: If I had to give a rating of my day the moment we returned home, I would have said a big mistake, an overwhelming waste of time and money. I was worn out chasing Lilly around the museum with too much stimuli, too many colors and activities for a three year old to handle. I probably processed things like a three year old and was instantly overwhelmed with all the sights, lights and people. I went through the motions and try to pass on the knowledge the museum thinks she should be able to learn, but usually I spent half the moments of her attention trying to find the details provided to me in English.

The museum seems to target and attract children Lilly's age to visit, but the museum exhibits were designed for grade school and middle school kids. The ability to understand making money via exercise, storing that on a atm card, and being able to go to the city-opolis and spend the money on groceries, restaurants and other stops, is a concept for an older child. 

Now the younger ones can have fun running to and for as she did playing grocery store, ambulance drive and vet, laying groundwork for future visits. A better visit might include a docent slowly touring the museum, or have a season pass and concentrate on one area per visit. 

As it turns out, after I reviewed the day in the quiet of my home, I could see it actually was quite productive and educationally successful for my older kids. They had a great time and talked about their favorite things the rest of the day. 

When I discovered the Invention Convention and Workshop, I immediately relaxed. It was set up as my dream homeschool room with stations for building and using imagination stocked with colorful supplies specific to building rockets, geometric shapes, lego cars (and testing race track), hot air balloons and more. It was less chaotic than the other parts of the museum.

The museum has been rebuilt since we visited last when my oldest was a little guy. It was simpler. It had a water way out back where moms could take a break and the little ones would place water crafts of all kinds in the various water paths and follow then around the water way. Max remembers this waterway as a significant point when he became interested in dynamics of water and is now studying for marine engineering. So, you see, my internal conflict of wishing all my kids could be moved by the children's museum to help figure out their future careers, getting past the chaos to be inspired. No pressure Children's Museum, just their futures relying on this visit! Okay, deep breath, I'm done processing.

{pretty} in concentration

My kids all wanted to have baby chicks again. I sure missing having cute little guys like this peeping around.

Waiting and hoping to see one hatch...

The floating stair step disks, we called "Seuss Steps," stated for those over five. The big kids went off and had fun and Lilly and I stuck to activities her age. When we'd pass these steps, she'd beg to try them. Finally when the crowds subsided, she plunged in, climbed up and down the three stories worth of twisty steps. 

Channeling air flow

The invention stations were set up with supplies, tidied up as the day went along. There are instructions and ideas for crafts at each station. No one could resist building and creating in this environment.

This is a hot air balloon that flew the highest the fastest (not sure if that would a good thing for reals) and Lilly's cool geometric shape thingy she made with one of the museum workers.

Ceci's balloon with streamers.

Air tubes to try out and test various inventions

Six racing lanes to test and race Lego inventions

{fun} Kidtropolis

The grocery store was almost too realistic. I asked Molly (17), "Was this fun?" I must be getting old for this to ask such a question. She answered an enthusiastically "Yes! I could play in here for hours!"

The grocery store was the perfect size for a three year old to jump right in and play cashier.

Lilly assumed an attitude while playing delivery truck driver.

In the ambulance, she was a natural.

"Don't look, you'll be ok."

"She's fine, mom."

Hopefully, they were inspired after all. They are begging to go back. 

Go visit More phfr.

Theme Thursday - Fences

Linking up at Cari's for Theme Thursday photo for Fences

We have a small section of our yard fenced, an area fenced for the dogs to play without (me) having to worry about running off and without (them) having to be tethered or shocked-fenced-collared.

 Gromit does not like to be out during any inclement weather, but today he could not be left inside while I had to be gone for a while.
"Awww, don't fence me in!!"
Our not-fenced escape route for our roaming dog.
 With his dramatic complaining, I imagined Gromit singing/howling this old David Byrne  tribute album to Cole Porter.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

What We're Reading and Watching Wednesday

For our read aloud, we have been reading books in the All of a Kind Family series by Sydney Taylor:
All of A Kind Family
All of a Kind Family Downtown
More All of a Kind Family
and Ella of All of Kind Family
(missing All of a Kind Family Uptown)

When the kids ask if this is a true story, the answer is yes, even the names are Sydney Taylor's sisters names. (She is Sarah, and changed her name to Sydney). Sisters: Ella, Henny (Henrietta), Charlotte and Gertrude.

Told in a style like Betsy & Tacy or Little House books, it is a collection of memories from Taylor's childhood of her Jewish family growing up in the lower east side of New York City in the early 1900's. There some plots lines, relating mostly to relationship encounters, mostly a collection of memories and a day in the life stories. They have a close family, stair step ages of five girls with younger brothers to follow. 

The tales revolved around daily life: library trips on Friday; "It was heavenly to borrow books from the library."  Stories about getting lost, sharing nighttime hopes and dreams with sisters in bed, fleeing town to avoid epidemics, holidays with lots of work for mama, chores for the girls. In an effort for mama to get the girls to take more time dusting, she invented a button game, when it was each girl's turn to dust, she'd have to recover a certain number of buttons hidden throughout the room found as the dusting was done. I always thought I'd try that, but never got around to it.

We enjoyed the perspective into a Jewish family culture and their celebrations of their faith. As our older brother and sisters in faith, they practice so many similarities of feasts and festivals marking the calendar and how we, as Catholics, spend time together in services or with family and friends. Taylor's stories give a taste of what it was like to celebrate and prepare for the Sabbath, Purim, Seder, and Succos. 

A couple things my kids mentioned, as a honest review: Papa is a good dad, but he is no Pa Ingalls. My kids also noted there is something missing or different, but I'll leave it to you to see if you notice differences, between Christianity and Judaism in a family culture. Taylor is very honest on her portrayal of real family situations and dynamics in her family memories, some members with annoying personalities and occasional unkind behaviors. The sister do love each other and their family.

For Rosh Hashanah, while their mother fasts in the synagogue all day, the daughters brought her a bouquet of flowers. Apparently the fragrance of the flowers helps to stay off the discomfort of fasting. We might have to try to have fresh flowers around Ash Wednesday to test out the idea.

I wanted the kids to see ceremonies from All of a Kind Family, we watched Fiddler on the Roof, a favorite of mine from my childhood. It is a very long movie, three hours. The musical score is wonderful. We watched it many times during my childhood, and I still love to sing along to the songs, much to the embarrassment of (some of) my kids.
If you just watch the first half, up to intermission you will see preparations for the traditional Sabbath meal, a wedding ceremony and other cultural practices of the early 1900's persecuted Jews in the Ukraine under Russian rule. My kids did not like the practice of having a Yenta.

The kids made the connection of the influx of immigrants in NYC could have been neighbors in All of a Kind Family stories.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Best Friend Birthday Break

Ceci's friend Maggie turned 9, and we  celebrated her day with family and friends. Euly wanted the girls to celebrate with a dress up party princess style. She planned activities around this theme, brought Maggie a crown, presented it to her in royal fashion on a lace pillow and helped the girls play dress. She also decided to take pictures. I like the twelve year old's perspective of the day.
Lilly, almost ready to go in her Costco dress I was saving for spring

 So much fun to celebrate birthday with friends: 

and the girls were good to include Lilly in the fun:
decorating with balloons...
 bothering (embarrassing?) the boys...

 spending time with friends

 keeping it silly..
and getting serious with an artsy angle shot.

(I love the wallpaper and matching bedcovers in Maggie's room).
The dresses were made for a Maggie birthday party two/three? birthdays back by Maggie's older sister, Ali, who is now off at college. We were glad they still fit the girls.

And just what were the moms up to? What else? Yacking and snacking, having a fun girl time visit ourselves.

Have a beautiful birthday, sweet little Maggie!

 you and your happy royal entourage.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Gifts of motherhood

The gifts that we receive from having children..
and I'm not talking about adding to the baby's room or layette..
I'm thinking of those gifts that enrich us the rest of our lives; an intensified infusion of previous characteristics, or a new appreciation or interest or a newly discovered talent. Qualities I think I can hold on to if I use them, fearful they'll leave me as the kids will do, if I don't use them. Happy they opened my eyes a bit more.

I'll go first,  I'd love to hear yours.

Gifts with my oldest son:
Discovering the limitless capacity of the heart.
Found my purpose for living: being a mother.
Experienced limitless love.
Received a new perspective on the world, my life, my choices, effects of my actions.
Renewal of Faith.
Driving desire to capture the special moments of life in written word and captured on film.

Second child, a girl:
Drawn to the arts.
Great desire for music to fill my days starting during pregnancy.
Need to express myself in other mediums, most often paint (as in color for my walls... that kind of paint), but also pen and ink sketching and watercolor.
Appreciation of nature, need to be submersed in nature.
Desire/craving for healthy living.
Take control, grow up, maturity. Feeling all grown up as a mother of two, now that's something!
Letting the adventurous side come out and win a few battles.

Third bouncing baby;  boy:
Deeper faith renewal.
Trust in God.
Love, more that I thought ever possible.
Love, unconditional deeper level than before.
Acceptance of my failings and inadequacies. Loved despite them.
Even deeper need to know Faith, to be able to explain to children.
Vulnerability. Accepted and trusted  I needed God more than I ever thought I did. 
Life got hard, more serious, I learned to try to control less.

Fourth child, daughter, "baby":
Appreciation for and drawn to simple goodness of life.
Appreciation for small things.
More Love.
She's such a gentle spirit, I was called to answer the need for a gentle hand, gentler tone of voice in her (and siblings) upbringing.
Self control, (although still sparsely practiced).

Fifth baby, girl:
Look at the bright side
Deeper desire to renew Faith.

Sixth: girl, the baby:
Happiness; reminders to smile.
Reminders to Relax.
Don't miss an opportunity to show love with a hug, snuggle or kind word.
Knowledge that I am loved.
Life is a miracle.
Don't sweat the small stuff, and put it in practice.
Savor as many moments in the day as possible.
Knowledge God is good, all the time, and truly, gently loves me. Even though I don't deserve it.

I've received these gifts spread out over the span of our children. 
I believe these qualities and gifts are really their gifts,
and because I was so fortunate to be chosen to be their mother,
the vehicle God used to bring them here to earth,
some of their good qualities visited me, and fortunately, 
some stayed.

Babies are the best gifts in life!
Deo gratias!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Day book: things that flip Lilly out, altar tour and a pretty outing atpark

Outside my window...beautiful weekend with perfect weather. 

I am thankful...he thinks of his mama. Nicholas was off to Enchanted Rock on a campout for scouts. He texted me a picture from the top of the rock.

I am thinking...about Jen's Seven posts in seven days much fun it will be to read all the new posts up this week!

I am praying to follow and accept (and know) God's Will in our lives.

In the kitchen...Molly made eclairs for a friends birthday party. Ceci helped make cookies for her friends Maggie. The girls decided it's going to be a princess theme. 

I am reading...A young Folk's Josephus, All of A Kind Family series, and The Dyslexic Advantage, 

I am watching...Fiddler on the Roof, and Masterpiece series Sherlock and Downton later this evening.

I am plan a good celebration for my husband's big birthday next week. If someone says they don't want a party, do they really mean they secretly do, or no, they really don't want a party? I'm thinking I'd secretly like the party, Craig? ...maybe not? So I'm planning a special date...

Around the's been quiet with the guys gone. Euly said the days are too boring with out her sidekick, Nick.
I am pondering...Sunday school topics. Now that we have finished going over St. Joseph's Catechism book.  we'll read about St. Tarcisius 
Saint Tarcisus, patron of First Communion, found here

.A favorite quote/verse/prayer for today...Helen Keller

A few plans for the rest of the week:
Starting the week off with a little girls birthday party, and not much else planned beyond the regular school, exercise and music classes and scouts.

A peek into my Father gave my class a tour of our makeshift temporary sacristy and altar.
He taught them about vestments, recited the prayers and explained purpose for each piece. He showed the sacred vessels used at mass and taught interesting facts and tidbits. I learn so much each year we have the tour. I think a lot of it goes over the kids heads, but they have time with Father so that when it's time for confession they won't be as nervous. 

He showed them the altar stone, the reason we have an altar, not just a table. And unfortunately no, he doesn't know who the martyr is whose relics are in the stone. The stone has five crosses engraved on it to mark the five wounds of Christ. 
Our altar rail has the altar cloth attached (as an extension of the altar) so that when it is time for Holy Communion, we are invited to come the altar, via the altar rail. Everything has a purpose and an explanation. I hope it washed over them, and in the future, they will know to seek out explanations to help deepen their understanding and their faith.
One quick fact new to me: ever wonder back in the days without AC and window screens, there would be more flies around, even at Mass, even on the altar. The wine for Mass is first carried up in cruet, then added to the chalice. Covered with a pall (pronounced "pail") or covered with the purificator cloth. If after the consecration, wine is now Precious Blood, a fly happened to go in for a taste, the priest sometimes has a straight pin on his Maniple worn on the arm as part of his vestments. He can use the straight pin to get the fly out, and then burn the fly in the candle flame. Can't have a fly fly off drenched in Precious Blood. I hate to think what if it couldn't be retrieved or seen first. God bless our priests for all they do and the vast store of interesting tales they have to share with us.
I read article: Diet related... The article that will make you want to stop sugar.

Did you see Jason Good's reasons his three year old son might be freaking out?
Lilly has a few of her own reasons to freak:
She wants to swing.
She doesn't want to swing like that.
She can't wear her special Sunday dress in the backyard to play in the mud.
Mud got on her mud boots.
Her sister is talking.
She woke up in bed alone.
Someone else is talking when she wants to talk.
She wants to ride in a seat belt, like her sisters, not car seat.
She didn't get her dinner on her special plate.
Her special plate looks like all the other plates.
Mom's phone rings while she's playing it.
Her sister isn't playing dolls the right way.
She can't explain what is right or wrong way to play dolls.
She threw her drink away and wants it back out of the trash.
The dress should be worn tag in front and on the outside where she can see it.
Her older sisters shouldn't be able to do any thing she can't do:
.. ride a bike, walk the dog, play at a friend's house, have a friend over.
The dog's tail hits too hard when he's happy but she doesn't want to move from his side.
She doesn't want her sister to come down the stairs when she is still on them.
She doesn't want to go outside right now.
She wants to stay outside when everyone else wants to come in.
Her pretend  house has doors that open and close and everyone should be able to tell if open or closed.

One of my favorite things...spending time outside with happy kids enjoying a beautiful spring-like day.

Happy last week of February!