Monday, January 31, 2011

This recipe is a keeper!

Recipe for Preserved Children:

1 large field
1/2 a dozen small children
2 or 3 small dogs
a pinch of brook & some pebbles

Mix the children & dogs together well; put them on the field, stirring constantly. Pour the brook over the pebbles, sprinkle the field with flowers, spread all over a deep blue sky & bake in the sun.
When brown, set to cool in a bath tub.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Just cuz I feel like ramblin' a little....

It's cold outside right now at 18 degrees but the snow is falling and there is this quiet stillness. I love it when we get new snow because it seems to suck up all of the noise around and even though we're next to a busy highway you can't hear any of it out the front door. It's a strange cold peace.

My little loves are sweetly dreaming away right now. I gave them a bath before bed and they're soft as silk with big bouncy curls resting on the softest organic bedsheets. It all fits them so perfectly. My tiny dancer has a fever but she's a strong little one and never lets such petty things get to her or slow her down. I'll peek in on her in an hour and see how she's fairing.

They are so interested in looking at their own baby pictures lately. I have a good hundred of them in a big huge photobook and they just page through it over and over and over and over again. I'm talking hours a day. We hear "Adia and Rasa! Adia and Rasa! Look Papa, look at baby Adia! Look Papa, look it's ME!" all while pointing at each baby completely engrossed in each photo. Talk about simple entertainment!

They also love ballerinas. My dearest friend Mary came over just before Christmas and brought the girls a goodie bag. In it were some wonderful books and a metal tin that held two magnetic ballerinas and a slew of magnetic tutus and dance clothes that you can layer on (she was, well still is, a dancer). The girls love to take them out and stick them to their locker and dress them up. Rasa is so creative putting skirts upside down to form funky hats and turning tutu's into funky tops. Each time she screams, "Look at her Momma, Look!!". Rasa's ballerina could put Lady Gaga to shame. Adia loves to slide all of the pieces of the ballerinas inside the locker through the vents in the door and then look and me and ask "where'd they go?!" while holding her arms up trying not to crack a smile all the while hoping I really don't know because she certainly does. When she does keep the pieces where they should be she has fun taking everything out and putting everything away. She enjoys cleaning up and I simply LOVE that about her!

They are typical in that they want to color all day long and play with play-doh. All of our walls are covered. Part of me cringes when I hear myself telling them to keep the colors on the paper. It's so opposite of what is natural. The wonderful beauty of washable crayons is that as long as the wall is painted and not just primer (I learned the hard way) a wet rag will wipe it perfectly clean.

Music Together has been so good for them. They dance, they play instruments, they see a circle of grown ups with kids singing, dancing, connecting and having fun. It's been amazing for me too and I have wonderful friends I look forward to seeing each week. I love hearing the girls sing the songs all week long and when I sing them as we do routine things they get excited and shout out requests and play along. Getting out of the tub, getting dressed, washing hands, eating etc are all fun because we make music while we do it.

I can't help but gush about how much love I feel for them and from them. Adia is busy most of the day but a few times she comes and sits on me and sticks her arm in my sleeve and rubs my arms or my shoulders. Rasa still spends half the day on my lap or hugging me like a koala but she's started to ask, "Kiss Momma's nose? Kiss Momma's eyes?, Kiss Momma?"". What sweet loves. Adia loves to be tickled to the point of out of control laughter and she comes up to me and asks me to do it. It makes me laugh uncontrollably too! Royce and I started rubbing lotion on the girls feet and giving them foot massages last winter and part of our wind down and good night routine. Now Adia grabs the lotion herself off the bathroom counter whenever she wants a foot rub and she LOVES them.

It's true that every single day is something new. It's a new idea or a new concept. It's always changing, challenging and special. Believe me, I have days and moments in nearly everyday were I'm driven to the point of insanity, I mean come on, I have TWO, TWO year olds. It's hard, it's even impossible at times but I get over it quickly and we all work it out. Lets just say I practice a lot of deep with peace, out with frustration has been a nice retreat lately.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Proof they really do listen!

We have a large picture book that has 100 different photos of animals, everyday objects, babies, cars, trucks etc. It was something the girls enjoyed looking through when they were first learning words. I've kept it around because it's been a useful tool with sign language as well. Today Rasa and Adia were reading together and they had this book out. Rasa always likes to play the role as the grown up or teacher to Adia. Sometimes she wraps Adia up in a blanket and calls her a baby! Not just a baby but her baby.

While they were paging through this book nne of their conversations went like this:

Rasa: "What's this Sissy?" pointing to a photo of an owl.
Adia: "It's a owl!"
Rasa: "Owl! That's right Sissy!"

I had to laugh because that's exactly how I talk to them. It's a technique that I learned when they were little to help them develop speech. When you point to something and they say what it is you reinforce it by repeating it so they hear it again. I forgot all about it but clearly it's been embedded in my everyday speech and, well, now they're teaching each other with the same technique!

New Adventures

It's been bitter cold over the past week and a half. So cold it's not even safe to play outside bundled up. This week is supposed to warm up, thankfully. The girls and I all get stir-crazy when we spend too much time at home and indoors!

Royce, myself and the girls took a ride down to a neighborhood we're considering moving into in the future. They have this fantastic children's bookstore that has live animals running around it. Specifically cats (without tails!) and chickens, yes real live chickens! Have I mentioned the girls favorite animals are chickens?! You can imagine their glee when we arrived! Adia was so excited she was going up to random strangers saying "Chickens!!! Chickens!!!" They also had this lizard with a face that looked identical to jabba the hut (spel?)! Seriously! Both girls cried as we were leaving because they weren't able to kiss him good bye! What a fantastic place.

Last week on the coldest day (-20 below zero!) my Mom and I brought the girls bowling! It was fun and Adia especially seemed to enjoy it. They have bumpers that pop up on the lanes so they can't get gutter balls and this weird sort of ramp you set the bowling ball on and the girls would push the ball so it would roll down the lane. Adia loved to push the ball and then clap for herself and say "good job!". Rasa had fun people watching and putting her face in front of the fan on the ball return. Both girls loved sitting and having appetizers with us.

Today we got going early and went to Eagles Nest just as it opened. They have an area in the back for kids 3 and under but the girls have outgrown it and when we go back there they stand around bored! They love climbing in the big kids area, going through the tunnels and down the slides. I have to follow them because they're still a little too small to maneuver through everything but I enjoy myself (I've always been a big kid!) and it's a nice workout!

After a couple hours of climbing I decided we better get lunch before the girls got too hungry. We went to a park I do a lot of my photo sessions in and had lunch at their cafe. They have an area for little ones to sit and color so the girls colored while we ate. After we went for a small hike outside (much too cold for a long one) and talked about all of the things we saw; trees, snow, more snow, even more snow and some leaves. The fresh air made for sound and peaceful naps, hopefully filled with dreams of new places and nature.

Every time I bring the girls out people ask me if they're always this good or they comment on how well behaved they are in public. Today at the cafe a lady stopped me to tell me she couldn't believe how good they were and the fact that every time they dropped a piece of food they were quick to pick it up and throw it away. I encourage (ok I insist) the girls pick up after themselves at home. I don't like cleaning up after people and I don't want them to think things magically get picked up when they go to sleep or move on to another activity. I PRAY their behavior in public stays the way it's always been. I'm not ignorant enough to think it will but it sure makes my life easy this way!

It's fun having two little buddies to play with. I love our adventures together. I can only imagine that month after month we'll find more and more things to explore, play and learn together. Of course I find it VERY hard to be mindful all the time in the winter and find myself dreaming of green buds on the trees, the smell of grass and the fun of walks in the park. Maybe it's time for an art project. I think I'm in need of some color in my life!

This is the best job in the entire world!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A "corny" story

I made Rasa and Adia each a Mexican plate tonight for dinner. I get them all settled in and we start eating. Adia is stabbing at the plate with her fork trying to get some kernels on the end. After trying for about a minute I hear a loud "Oh come on!" as she hollers at the corn to get on her fork.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

What's next?

I've been thinking lately about how time passes so quickly. When you have kids it seems like every day they stand in front of you is a visual reminder of how quickly things change, grow and move. Every morning I notice something new with one of the girls. Sometimes it's in their speech and other times it's in how they look and how it's changing. The picture I posted last time of the two of them standing next to each other in the clothes they put on themselves looks like a picture of someone else's kids! Those aren't my babies!

I think this is good though because I have to be more conscious with what I'm doing with our time and what direction we're moving in. Royce and I are having to reevaluate our plans to make sure they are still what everyone needs and wants. What do I want for them? What do they need? How can we set up a life for them that fosters the importance of love, peace, joy, compassion, kindness and hope? How can we give them just enough so they have what they need but not too much so they become spoiled?

My dream right now is a different community closer or in the city. My dream is a little house with a yard just big enough to run around in and have a small garden to grow food with my family. I want their hands dirty and their feet muddy. My dream is to be close enough to the city to take advantage of what it offers and the benefits of a very diverse community yet far enough outside of the lights to see the stars at night. My dream is a preschool that shows my girls how to spend the day outside, learning, running, playing and creating and an elementary school that fosters those same importances. A place where the approach taken is more important than the answer.

I'm finding that being a Momma can be a tough balance between my priority of being focused in the now (in order to fully enjoy my little girls, where we're at and what we're doing, "mindful parenting") and at the same time moving in the right direction for the "coming up quickly" so we're set up to continuously enjoy the now. With that being said my philosophy of life remains the same and it gives me GREAT relief beyond words; things will always happen exactly as they should. Letting go of that artificial control paves way for a very enjoyable ride!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

On the mend.

After spending the last five days with my entire house suffering from the stomach flu I feel like we might see the light of day again soon! I think the images of the girls crashed out on the couch and Royce and I literally crawling to the bathroom will be burned in my mind for many, many years. Even in the middle of it I would just laugh because it was like something out of the apocalypse! The things I've seen should never be seen by another. Enough said.

This morning the girls dressed themselves. Rasa put on a pair of flood water pink and white stripped pants and Adia had a hoodie and the most hideous pink leggings I've ever laid my eyes on. I pulled out my camera and snapped a few pictures.

They were VERY proud. I hope this isn't a look into their future of fashion. It looks an awful lot like their Dad's!

I take so many pictures of the girls they aren't even curious in my camera anymore. It's good and bad. I can't resist taking their photos though. They are my favorite subjects ever.

Signing, Speaking, Reading!

It's been about a month but with the busyness of the holidays and the birthday celebrations in our home I got rushed and didn't make time to write about a very special milestone!

Since Adia and Rasa were about four months old we started doing sign language with them. Although teaching sign language to babies is not a new concept we LOVED the idea of our babies being able to communicate needs early on since we'd have double the needs and likely double the frustration at the same time. Studies show that babies who sign communicate verbally faster than their non signing peers because it develops that part of the brain faster.

I'll never forget when Rasa had just hit 6 months and Lucy had ran past her how excited she got and then right out of the blue signed dog! I couldn't believe it. I grabbed the video camera and she did it again!

The same thing when Adia was 8 months old and signed "all done". It was so strange because I'm looking at this little chunky baby and she's talking to me with a statement that's very - not baby! I didn't believe she could possibly know what she meant and when I offered her more she gave me a stern look and signed "all done" again as to say aren't you listening to me lady! I'll never forget the look on her face when I said "ok, all done" and she connected with me like WOW you actually understand me!

Every time the girls would learn new signs they always knew when to use them to let you know it was very real that they were in fact communicating! When they started learning dozens of signs they began talking and then signing and talking together. It's been fascinating to watch. Both of their vocabularies have been advanced and we believe wholeheartedly it's because of sign language.

They enjoyed signing so I kept teaching. I've been learning too! It's great even now when they're saying a word and I can't figure out what it is that I can sometimes ask them to sign it and we figure it out.

For an early Christmas present I gave each of them a children's book of sign language. In each book are words and a photo of a person signing the words. Some of the words have drawings like "play" for instance has a tree fort and some have just the word and the photo of the sign. I wasn't sure if they would be able to understand the words based on a still photo of the sign, especially since almost all signs are with your hands moving. They sat next to each other, side by side, and both read each book together out loud! They got 9 out of 10 pages! I was so proud! It's amazing to see something you've been teaching come to life like that. It was even more amazing for me to see how proud they were of themselves and how much fun they were having! They were happy to be reading!!

It's really been a fun and rewarding experience to see this circle develop with sign language and how it started out as our only means of communication, then it turning into an aid to verbal language that is now turning into an aid to reading and recognizing written words. I love that it's a second language and that the girls will be able to use it throughout their lives. The best bonus of all is that we do it as a family and we're all learning and having fun together.