The Birdies. 21/52

A portrait of my birdies, once a week, every week, in 2014.

Phoebe Jane. “I two and a HALF, Mama.” Oh yes, my darling, you are two and a half. You are such a pure joy!

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Super duper big week for Wren. She had her dance recital and she turned five. More on both of those later. Just a little portrait now of my wonderful Wren Sabina, looking very much like five and not four anymore. Bittersweet.

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Happy Mother’s Day

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There was a time I didn’t know if I would have a family. My Dr told me not to give up hope for a family after we lost our first daughter, Ariel. I’m so grateful I found my hope again. And so very blessed to have these strong, smart, beautiful people in my life. I love you, birdies.

Happy Mother’s Day!

 

let them lead

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I was reminded of something very dear to me last weekend. It’s so important to let our children have an opportunity to lead US. So much time is spent (wasted) trying to get kids to do what we want them to do, dress how we want them to dress, play how we want them to play, act how we want them to act, smile | stand | sit how we want them to for our photos, for others, for our selves. I see so many people trying to control everything around them–including their children, spouses, family–and it is driving everyone crazy, including themselves.

Children are people too.

We visited the Detroit Zoo last weekend and I gave Wren the map and let her lead us for the day. Of course I had to say “no” to most of the ice cream stands and gift shops we walked past, but that’s about where I drew the line. Otherwise, we saw the animals that she wanted to see, we took the paths she wanted to take and we saw the penguins twice. Why not?

It’s so vital that we let our children have these kind of opportunities. How else do they learn to lead and feel confident in their choices? So what if we didn’t see the monkeys.

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wreading

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It’s so exciting to see Wren begin to legibly and confidently write letters and show an interest in learning to read. She’s always loved books and wants to read a mountain of books every night before bed. After intense negotiations, we usually settle on three because that’s about all I can keep my eyes open for before she starts nudging me to stay awake.

We’re going to be starting the DISTAR reading method soon to capitalize on her interest in learning to read. I checked out Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons from our library and we’ll be jumping into it soon. Hopefully this will complement the Montessori pre-reading work she’s been doing in school. Wren and I are both excited. We’ll see how it goes. If she doesn’t enjoy the 20 minute lessons, I’ll set the book down and try again later. We’re not in a rush, but I wanted to strike while the iron’s hot, as they say. Here.we.go!

Any early reading advice, lovelies?

drinking like a Montessori, revisited

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I have such a vivid memory of the time Wren learned to drink from a real cup (instead of a sippy cup). I don’t think I had even considered it, but she was going to enroll in a Montessori school a couple mornings and she had to know how to drink from a cup. I was surprised at how quickly she learned to drink from it and I was thrilled to see how proud she was of herself. It was one of the first times that the basic idea of Montessori hit home: independence promotes confidence.

Now that the second child is here, parenting is a lot more intuitive and involves a lot more watching and learning from her. Phoebe has been putting a cup up to her mouth and drinking in the bath a lot lately, yuck. When she’s in the kitchen, she’ll often reach for a cup and pretend to drink. Today Wren and I decided that she would help Phoebe learn to drink water from her cup. They both were so proud! And wet.

I had an “aha!” moment today with these two. I’ve been struggling to find things the three of us can do together. Usually it involves Phoebe getting into Wren’s stuff (paint, stickers, puzzle, book) and Wren screaming at Phoebe. Fun! And then I listened and watched and quietly directed, but it didn’t take much from me. Voila! Birdie number two begins to drink from a cup, thanks to her sister.

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I’m so excited to explore this more: empowering Wren to help Phoebe explore the world in a meaningful way. Nothing is forced, just a natural relationship that needs a bit of nurturing from Mama.

a date

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I had the best afternoon in a LONG time yesterday when Wren and I had a very rare date, just the two of us. After church we had brunch at one of our favorite cafes in town. We got to have escargot (!) and Wren was incredible company: funny, open, interested, polite, charming, a great conversationalist. We wondered about snail hunters and their techniques, we whispered about how some people don’t have hair, we giggled while we played hide-and-seek with a tiny blue ball. I took my camera, but we were so immersed in our brunch together that I didn’t stop to snap any shots. I looked around and many of the other tables had families, but there were so many SCREENS. And I was just so grateful that we didn’t have screens to captivate us instead of each other.

After brunch we headed off to The Nutcracker. It was a beautiful performance and we were inspired and uplifted. And a bit wiggly and sleepy. Wiggly and sleepy, what a funny combination that seems to belong only to children. I do not get wiggly when tired, do you? I may have teared up a few times while snuggling Wren tight on my lap, so full of gratitude for her presence and our special time together.

When we left The Nutcracker we stumbled upon this misty sculpture garden, wet and a tad mucky with the remains of late autumn in northern Michigan. How could I have never seen this before?

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We played for a while and Wren got some wiggles out in the mud. When we left I asked Wren what her favorite part of The Nutcracker was. “Playing in the mud!” Aha. That’s my girl.

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first day of Primary

Big week! Wren started her first week of Primary at our public Montessori school. It’s mostly been full of smiles, but a few chants of “I want to stay home with you!” come out half-heartedly every morning. She says it like she thinks she’s supposed to say it, but not like it’s 100% what she thinks and feels. There have been no tears. Yet. Bittersweet!

We’re slowly getting into our new routine and I think it’s going to be great for us. We have every morning together before she goes to school in the afternoon for a few hours. Because I know our time is limited and we don’t have the entire day stretching out ahead of us, we’ve been having fun-filled, unrushed, messy, creative mornings. Plus lots of time for snuggles and books upon waking up. I’m not ready to give up my mornings to school yet!

The afternoons are a little crazy with either a late nap that pushes the bedtime into the late evening or no nap that makes for a long evening with the tasmanian devil sometimes making her appearance… Ahem. We’ll get there and the darkness at 8:30 is helping to push the bedtime up a bit and for this I am very thankful.

It sure is quiet around here in the afternoons though and I think Phoebe is really missing Wren’s energy… and so am I.

Living with Kids

I love Design Mom’s Living with Kids series, which focuses on unique, beautiful, ultra-organized, inspiring spaces that have kids living in their midst. Sometimes I find them inspiring, but on a bad day I find them a bit depressing. I try to remind myself that these Mamas are also changing diapers and in a constant state of near chaos and there are messes following them around as soon as one gets cleaned up in front of them. Right?! Please say so… Anyway, I thought since I usually just show snippets of beauty and smiles I should balance it by my own little “Living with Kids” tour on a normal day. At some moment every day, it looks somewhat like this so this is really Living with Kids. Maybe you’ll agree? Please say your house looks like a tornado went through at least at some point during the day? Or maybe it will make you feel better because your domestic skills are so superior to mine and your kids pick up all the toys right after playing with them? Take it, Mama, take it! More power to you, just don’t tell me about your nanny or your cleaning lady… or that you have a better organizational method than the Pile Method?

This is the usual state of my “croffice,” with kid stuff mixed with work stuff mixed with, well, life.

And here’s our beautifully-organized craft and game closet. Are you taking notes on the Pile Method? Thought so.

Trip over anything today while you were cooking?

Train of books, anyone? Choo choo!

Nothing escapes being cooked in the kitchen we made for Wren. It does get a lot of use, but is almost always a complete wreck. Note the missing faucet… It seems that Wren is picking up on my Pile Method of organization. Oops!

And sometimes it’s just too much to take and a birdie might be found passed out in her well-designed library. Aah, what a day.