It's been a really busy summer with swim, tennis, VBS, Dare to Dream reading program, Fit Camp, ballet and catching up with friends at the park. Still, it's going by way too quickly. I have really enjoyed watching my young children develop skills and friendships these last weeks and know that it will help them become better adults.
Yesterday, rushing between reading and swim, we stopped to enjoy this beautiful rainbow gracing our town:
I appreciate reminders as such that we are blessed and should never take that for granted.
As I write this, I'm brainstorming ideas for my two-year old daughter's preschool class end-of-year party. I'll admit I'm not the biggest fan of hosting class parties; I'm pretty low key and am often overshadowed by Pinterest-addicted Moms who seem to plan these parties years in advance. But, it's strongly suggested that Moms sign on for at least one party a year (and there are many), so here we go again.
I'm leaning toward a picnic vibe, with maybe an Americana feel. Think red and white check tablecloths and blue plates. And that's where I get stuck. Centerpieces are not my strong suit and I literally cannot come up with anything other than beach balls. And I know this is a terrible idea. Picture nine two-year olds tossing beach balls around and running amuck. I prefer not to jeopardize next year's prepaid registration fees.
Then there's the issue of food. One year, I went the extra effort to make homemade everything, only to have the kids - fresh from gym time - ransack the table and not eat a single bite of anything. I was not amused. As for healthy snacks, typically fresh fruit and other healthy snacks are ignored. Cupcakes, chips and candy are the big winners, but I always feel guilty for supplying only these. Do I soothe my conscience by buying healthy snacks that will be examined, sneezed on, tossed around then thrown away, or do I save that money and go straight to the junk? Hmmmmmmm.
As for drinks, I am a sip-up gal. Yes, the pretty pitchers and monogrammed cups are to die for, but it's a toddler class party, not a baby shower! Besides, I don't have the time to make those if I wanted to. (I suppose I would in the time it takes to prepare this blog entry, but then I'd have no outlet to vent.)
So here we are...one blog post later and still no clarification on the task at hand. What I do know is that I could lay a plastic garbage bag over the table, serve fingerpaint and Kool-aid, and the kids will have an undoubtedly grand time. They don't care about a theme, decor or pictures like their Moms. So I am not going to obsess and just do what I think is appropriate for the kids and myself. Then I'm going to come back home and figure out what to do with my munchkins for the next three months!!! Wish me luck. :)
To get my rambunctious tots out of the house (and stop them from driving me insane with their constant power struggles), we spent the latter part of this morning at the local library working on puzzles. At some point I noticed a man walk in and head toward one of the back displays. (In hindsight, I realize he must have been there for some time, apparently observing us.) As we were wrapping up, he came over to compliment the children on their abilities (couldn't believe they were only four and two) and me for my teaching skills. He then asked about my educational background to determine if I would be eligible to teach kindergarten. Some compliment huh! Especially once he introduced himself as the Principal of the elementary school!
While not necessary, it's certainly nice to get independent confirmation that I'm doing something right. It negates the questions that pop up when I feel like I've literally spent the day breaking up fights and arbitrating for toddlers. I love my kids sincerely. Some days they are a handful and they need waaaaaaaaaaaaaay more structure than other days. But it seems their intellectual abilities exceed expectations and it feels damned great that my investment in them have a little to do with it.
My family and I live in rural Alabama. This is challenging at times, but we are very grateful to be close to a larger city like Montgomery so that we may attend events like Disney Live at the Montgomery Performing Arts Center in order to expose our children to the finer points of city living.
Below is a picture summary of Snow White (my daughter's favorite), Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast:
You could not wipe the smile of my nearly three-year old daughter's face. Dressed in her Snow White costume [I thought I was original in this, but there were hundreds of other little girls dressed as one of the three princesses], she was truly on toddler cloud nine. My son enjoyed the first two stories, but grew restless during the third. I guess there weren't sufficient manly parts to keep him satisfied. Still, it was a terrific family outing, which I'm sure we'll do again soon.
I place my very tired 2 1/2 year-old daughter in her crib, kiss her goodbye, turn out the lights and close the door hoping she takes a well-deserved nap.
Amidst the sounds of toys being thrown around and bouncing up and down, I listen attentively for any signs she's slowing down.
She begins crying to come out of her crib. I ignore her cries because I am trying to convince myself that she will soothe herself and fall asleep. Yeah right.
Not able to take it anymore, I go into her room pick her up and settle into the rocking chair, still hoping there's a chance those puffy, red eyes will close for at least 40 minutes.
I'm watching the clock, highly alert to any changes in breathing. Sadly, there are none. As I continue to rock, I feel her former drowsiness leave her body for mine. I wonder who will give in first.
She begins pulling on the rocking chair cushions, my hair, her hair, and begins to fidget. Determined not to lose this battle, I pull her closer and begin to hum. I get sleepier.
She's really getting antsy now. The redness in the eyes are long gone. There's not hint of the sleepy little girl I saw hours ago. She begins pressing her feet into the arms of the rocking chair to propel herself up and away.
My son celebrated his fourth birthday party last weekend. Just like last year, I decided to bake his cake so that I could personalize it for him. This year, the theme was Cars, so of course the star of the cake would be Lightning McQueen et al.
I started with a sketch of what I wanted. Then I cheated a little with white, box cake mixes. It takes two to fill a 9"x13" pan. For a moist texture, I prefer Duncan Hines with pudding, and shave 3-5 minutes off the recommended baking time. Once the cake was throughly cooled, I frosted it and added Oreo halves to line the bottom.
The race track is crushed Oreos. The birthday boy had a great time mashing them for me. (I need to remember this activity for one of those long summer days I know are coming.)
The grass is shredded coconut dyed green. The lines on the road are long strips of coconut held in place with a little frosting. The flags are printed paper glued to toothpicks.
Next I staged my son's toy cars. Lighting McQueen is racing to the finish, while Tow Mater is towing Pacer from the track. Red sprinkes cover the still blank area at the top.
Completed cake with a too cool #4 candle and Happy Birthday Wishes over the red sprinkles. The kids loved it!
I also made marshmallow pops using jumbo marshmallows dipped in red candy melts and blue sprinkes. Too sweet for my taste, but naturally a hit with the kids.
For an added bonus, a lady we know made a cardboard Lightning McQueen. He served as a decorative item and we used him as a backdrop for pictures.
But of course the pièce de résistance was this...
It was a great day. And even though the ferocious wind storm made our paper decorations ineffectual, which in turn made me cry because I'd spent so much time making them, everyone enjoyed themselves. And I relearnt that's what matters most.
Talking to young children about death is difficult at best. While they can understand the absence of a person [Mommy and Daddy left me with the babysitter but will be back later] or an item [I've lost my favorite dolly], they are not mature enough to comprehend a failure to exist.
Two weeks ago, just before leaving for a long weekend on the coast, I accidently dropped [an apparently heavy] fish food tablet on the tail fin of our cory catfish named Blackbeard. Because we were out of time, my husband 'took care' of Blackbeard down the garbage disposal. Tempted to replace Blackbeard before any of the kids noticed, I decided instead to turn it into a teaching opportunity about death. We explained as gently as we could that Blackbeard went to heaven where he wouldn't be sick anymore. My two and a half year old didn't really have any follow-up questions, but my four-year old questioned death, heaven and visitation rights for days. In between fun, vacation activities of course.
Just as the kids were getting used to only have two fish left, Goldilocks, our orange goldfish died suddenly. We're not entirely sure what happened, but we do know that an aquarium prop was leaning irregularly. My husband and I talked to the kids again, but this time held a funeral in the backyard. The kids and I said a prayer and we asked Goldilocks to take good care of Blackbeard in heaven. There were questions of course, even from my youngest, but there was a certain closure I guess they received from the funeral process. I also think companionship for Blackbeard added ease since one of the lingering questions was about Blackbeard being alone.
Only Snow White, our albino goldfish remains. Lord, if you're reading my blog, please bless her with at least a few more months of life. I don't know if I have the strengh to muster another talk about death.