Monday, February 29, 2016

I Want to Remember...

...snuggling on the couch with Iz while we watched a large flock of birds fill a tree and flutter about before all flying off again.

...seeing Iz happily play with a new friend together and to remember to find time in the warmer months to set up time for her to have the opportunity to play with more kids she hasn't seen in awhile. slow down, be patient, know that everything will work out as it should if we just stay open and stay focused on what is most important (each other). happy Iz is when she can help out. Once I loosened up and allowed her to help with an item for O's party she was so grateful and so happy to be involved and I wanted to see her face look like that a million more times. O will take a few steps with a smirk before squatting back down and quickly crawling into my lap with a big grin on her face.

...the dove that came to visit before I went into labor with O and how I suddenly knew everything was going to be okay. 

...a birthday morning spent with my Sue followed by being greeted at home with big smiles and freshly made cupcakes followed by seed planting with my wonderful little sidekick. 

...snuggling with my E while he wound up balls of yarn for me. 

...these warm winter days, sunshine on our cheeks and all of those lovely hawks soaring above us at the park. playfully parent through hard transitions.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

What We've Been Up To Mid-February

Our days are as full as ever right now as we continue working on our home and carrying on in our general day to day to-dos with our girls. Work on the house is coming along and big things will be happening before we know it I am sure, but more on that later. Here are some of the things the girls and I have been up to during our weekdays together.

When working on downsizing and organizing the art room - still a ways to go - I decided all of the old unused crayons, many from when E and I were kids ourselves, needed to go and so I broke them all up and the next day we finally did the whole making rainbow crayons out of the pieces thing with some old molds I already had. Was a fun way to use them up but in the end we still really don't need more crayons. Iz uses her beeswax crayons almost exclusively, along with other art materials, and while she did request to give some to friends (and we did) there are still a lot left that we may donate or pass along elsewhere to spread the rainbow crayon love and to help our downsizing along. This was definitely fun though. 

These past couple of weeks also contained Valentines Day and while we have never been big time celebrators, I upped my game this year as having kiddos makes me want to celebrate just about everything and make it as special as I can. Iz and O received some crafty valentines from their GG and Grandpa and I had fun putting them together. We then used them to decorate the back door window, along with a few crafty watercolor hearts. 

Early in Valentine's Day week I cut a bunch of hearts out of watercolor paper and Iz painted them for over two hours, asking for more and more. I kept my scissors cutting, she kept the paint brushing and O mostly crawled around exploring. Once they were dry she chose who she wanted each one to go to and I wrote her messages on the back for her and prepared envelopes and she did the stamping before putting them in the mailbox and flipping up the flag to send them on their way to brighten people's days.

I also finished up our healing cream after having the herbs do their thing in oil for a couple of months and poured ourselves a jar before filling tins with what was left. When Iz woke up in the morning and saw them she started moving them around and saying who she wanted to give each one to. I love when she thinks of ways to share kindness without prompting so we got out some stickers and she decorated the tops for each of the friends she wanted to give one to and we were finally able to see everyone and pass them out this week. 

O is always on the go and exploring our home. She is so close to walking, having taken a few steps here and there, but not fully taking off just yet. We are all excited to see how excited SHE will be when she puts it all together and can really chase after big sis. 

We never got around to making hand and footprint ornaments and mistle-toes for O back in December so we squeezed that in one day before her bits grew any bigger. 

Lots of healthy food making. It can be a challenge and things aren't exactly how we'd like them to be but we are constantly trying to find a groove and to focus on minimizing sugar especially. One way we've done that is by making our own almond milk. We have been doing so for a couple of months now so it finally feels like part of our routine and not a big deal. We don't use a ton but do like to have it for recipes and our banana, nut butter, raw cacao smoothies we all love. 

Another one I had been wanting to do for awhile and something I really enjoys. We have done this (a pan of baking soda with tinted vinegar squirted on with pipettes) a couple of times on our own and I set it up for a little valentines day playdate the friday before the holiday with purple and red. Always a hit! 

So much time hanging out in our kitchen. Sometimes it seems like we, or at least I, spend more time there then anywhere with all the meal making and dish washing and dance party having. I love when I can sit back and just watch my girls play and explore together. 

Our girls have always been close. Really, I and all the animals are pals and it's such a wonderful thing to see. We've promised her chickens once we move and O is two and she talks about how she will be their mama and care for them and tuck them in at night and on and on. We've told her that if we moved to the country she could have even more animals but she is set on being close to people and so are we, for now, so probably just chickens and that will be plenty for all of us at this stage of our lives. 

And of course so much painting and coloring. Iz paints for hours each week and I'm so interested to see where this takes her as she grows. Will she always love to paint? Will she move on to other things? Nobody knows, but I don't doubt that she will always be an artist.

And that's that. We are having some pretty full days as we approach O turning one, all of the house projects, and taking care of the day to day life which is plenty on it's own, but we are happy and just loving one another and craving time together. The good thing is that this week is O's birthday and then my own so we have plenty of family time planned to soak one another up.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

I Want to Remember...

...her tiny warm hand wrapped around my thumb as I walked her to sleep.

...everyone gathered around to enjoy the chocolate covered strawberries I made and gobbling them up with smiles. sisters girls and my oldest happily playing in her room together for a long stretch and the reminder that things do change with time.

...O nursing as I rested against the drawers on the kitchen floor, rubber spatula in her hand, dinner simmering on the stove, Iz peeling garlic up on her helper stool.

...Iz insisting she wanted to make meat balls and me being so confused and reminding her how we don't eat animals and all that jazz and her looking at me like "duh mom" until she said "with the meat in the white bag" and me realizing she was talking about the almond nut meat leftovers from making our latest batch of almond milk. My bad.

...holding and rocking Iz while I walked her around and helped her decompress from an emotional overload and then sitting snuggled so close on the couch as she finished her lunch and we read a big pile of books. A good reminder that the times she is most "acting out" are the times she is most in need of connection.

...O smiling up at me with her cutest little smirk and taking three steps forward before squatting back down. Each day she adds a couple more and I bet by her birthday (in just eight days) we will have a full fledged walker. hard E always works to not only provide for our family but to get the house fixed up so we can try to move forward. good it feels to shed the extras and feel the weight of it all being released slowly but surely.

...sweet handmade valentines from the ones I love most and Iz cluing me in to their existence and hiding place long before the giving.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Prompted: "Home"

Snuggling her to my chest for milk, her eyes gazing up at me, lyrics float across the room singing, "no ones gonna love you like I do" and I sing along, pulling her in a little closer and stroking her long hair, the end bits a little crusted with dried yogurt from the breakfast we left behind before heading for the more comfortable couch. As I sing along and look into her curious eyes I know that nothing else matters. I am home.

As much as these walls and this space feel like a living member of our family, pulsing along with us as we live our days within them, they are not, not to the extent I often feel they are at least. Leaving them behind may bring tears at the memory of the floors where my babies were born, the walls that witnessed so many firsts and so much love and growth, but as we move forward and look toward a new home in the relatively near future, knowing home will go with us wherever we go, in our embraces, our memories, our love, brings me comfort, for truly so long as we are together we are home.

What We've Been Up To

As much as the weekly roundups are nice they aren't very realistic for me, but I do enjoy reflecting on what we've been up to, so here is a bit from the last few weeks:

When we have friends over lately we try to involve them in our activity for the day so on this day Iz and her friend A did some watercolor painting together and played dress up amongst other things. It's always a treat when everyone has a happy time. We worked ahead of time on trying to think of ways to make our friends feel welcome and it seemed to help on that particular day.

We did our weekly stories and finger rhymes and Iz seemed to really like it best when I worked props into them, so that is something to keep in mind and to try to do more of in the future. This gal loves a good story and is very into reading and theatrics of sorts, very regularly "reading" us books from memory as we drive along or are hanging out around the house and I think working props in made things even more exciting for her. I sure do miss the days of lounging around with her reading as long as she wished, but we do the best we can and if O falls asleep in the car and there is time I usually unbuckle Iz and let her crawl up front to read the stack of books we keep in the car for her to get a little bit of that special time together in.

I requested a drawing of E working. The reality of being a work at home dad when we go to play in the basement. Iz scrounging for snacks from his desk and O crawling around pulling up on his chair and me sneaking in a kiss and a hug. We're pretty lucky and he's pretty tolerant.

I finally finished a sweater for Iz that I had started back before O was born, purposefully sizing up knowing I would be setting it aside to pick up months down the road. It was nice to finish it up and have it off the needles and she was excited to have new mama-mades.

I was then craving another knitting project so found a pattern for a cowl and cast on with the yarn leftovers from Iz's sweater. Now that is finished and I'm craving another but really need to be working on some other things so have moved on temporarily.

One day we decorated beeswax candles (with beeswax decorating wax). This was fun and something I really enjoyed but was a bit hard on that particular day when my patience was low and Iz was more interested in ripping up all the sheets of beeswax. Still fun but we set it aside to finish another day. Mostly these things are a bit hard to do because O can't yet participate and is at an especially attached age so it's hard to give Iz and the activity the focused attention necessary but it's still worth it and we will always keep trying and making and doing.

We had a snow day and as another perk of E working from home, he and Iz were able to shovel together during his lunch break...and I was able to stay warm inside and get O down for a nap.

Random activity. I put all the letters in a bin of oats with a scoop with the idea of Iz scooping and searching for them and then putting the puzzle together. Was kind of a dud but she enjoys the puzzle and we'll revisit this activity or other ones while using it since she is very interested in letters right now.

For instance, she has been requesting for us write out block letters pretty often so she can color them in. It's one of her favorite things to do lately.

We played with play dough of course and O got in on the action for the first time. Mostly playing with the tools and a little squishing (and trying to eat) the dough. She was so pleased.

In other news we started working on doing a minor makeover in our kitchen in anticipation of putting it on the market. This space needs lots of love and we'll give it what we can. I'm only wishing we would have had the means to do this earlier but will enjoy the cute changes while we are still here.

An especially fun activity this month was watercolor painting lanterns. One day we each made a large painting, then that night I rubbed them down with oil and the next day we made them into lanterns. Super fun and it tied into the story that week which was really fun for Iz.

For our baking day we made oatmeal raisin snackels and this past week we made almond meal chocolate chip cookies and they were both pretty good. I'll definitely be making the almond meal cookies again (probably for O's party as I like to have a sweet gluten free option for those who prefer it but probably sooner too...).

Iz - always happy to help however she can, this time by washing the dishes. I really need to tap into my patience and let her help more often. We do quite often but many times I'm under a time crunch to get a meal on a table while keeping O happy too that it can be a bit overwhelming to add another step - have to try though as these are things I certainly want to continue to nurture.

Random coin sorting. Another that was of little interest but we will revisit another time when she's a bit older.

After finding a small strand of plastic beads on the floor of the thrift store during our Mama/Iz time last weekend she was talking about making a necklace so this past Monday I pulled out some one inch wooden beads and she painted them, we then let them dry while on a walk with our company. Later I wrapped tape around the end of a piece of yarn and had her string them up. She loved doing this and running around with her new necklace on.

Our pipettes finally came through the mail so we hopped right to this next random activity. Simple - a pan with a layer of baking soda and a few bowls of colored vinegar. This kept her entertained for a long time and she spontaneously thanked me for setting it up for her. That tells me it's a hit and we will definitely be doing it again.

Cloud dough play is always a hit too. She really likes the messy activities best.

As much outside time as we can get too, but I could admittedly do better. O has been having a rough few weeks so we have been in a bit of survival mode and with the chilly weather it can be a hassle, but we are always happier when we get a bit of sunshine and fresh air.

We did sneak in a family nature adventure (photos above) too on an unseasonably warm but much appreciated day last weekend and it was just what we needed. And, Iz had fun playing with some of her nature table finds with some of her thrift store finds the following day.

Otherwise, some sewing on my part to help the kitchen makeover along, lots of deep breaths, lots of healthy cooking as we focus in on cleaning up our diets a bit more and lots of remembering what's most important...and of course lots of pre-dinner dance parties.