Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Zen of a Three-Year Old

Arlo started preschool yesterday and already he has taught me a lesson in being present and living the moment.

Last year he was in the Two's program, and this year he is in the Children's Peace Garden, which is a Montessori way of saying the program for 3-6 year olds, encompassing pre-K and Kindergarten. I realized yesterday that most of his friends from last year are in a different class from Arlo. I was concerned that he'd be upset by this.

Today I arrived a few minutes early for his pickup and got to see him playing with his new classmates on the playground. Was he concerned about last year's friends? Nope. Worried that they were in another room, having more fun than him? Not a chance. He was running around the playground with his new best friend, his face registering pure glee.

Then, later this afternoon at the playground near our house, I witnessed Arlo and another boy have a small disagreement over the use of sticks in their play. (Arlo said yes, the other boy said no, they shouldn't play with sticks.) If I had a grown-up disagreement like that, you can believe I would replay the event in my head, discuss it with my mother and husband, and probably use it as fodder for Facebook status updates. But my three-year old? It was over immediately and he went back to having fun. And living in the present moment.

You think when you become a parent that it will be about you teaching them things. But sometimes, if you are open to the lesson, you realize that they make pretty awesome teachers.

And my little Zen master has already given me my first lesson of the school year.

Monday, July 26, 2010


I think back to when I was pregnant with Elsa. Arlo was not yet two, and I felt guilty: Was I taking away his babyhood? Depriving him of alone time with his daddy and me? My fears were put to rest the first day Elsa and I came home from the hospital. It may have been sloppy at first, but we figured out how to be a daytime team of three. And now, when I catch them playing or reading together or just being buds, I melt. The fear of change has given way to the joy of discovering sibling connectedness.

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Thursday, April 8, 2010

Grandma's Sewing Basket

The littles ones and I spent last week in Oklahoma visiting family. One afternoon I caught sight of my mother sewing Elsa's tutu, using her mother's old sewing basket passed down to her after my Grandmother's death. It was a lovely moment, a shared specialness between four generations of women.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Spring Musings

Feeling grateful for the beautiful spring weather here in Oklahoma.

Having fun exploring parks that, while new to Arlo and Elsa, hold many memories for me. (Memories of playing as a child with my brother, parents, church youth group and, on really lucky occasions, my grandmothers.)

Loving this picture of Elsa, in her hand-me-down shoes and warm weather dress, discovering the joy of picking dandelions.

Treasuring the "bird's nest" that my son and his Nana made from rocks and leaves while I attended a yoga class the other night.

I do believe this is what Karen Maezen Miller refers to when she speaks of the inexplicable beauty of the ordinary.


Thursday, March 18, 2010

In the Spirit of Lent...

In the spirit of Lent, I've given up complaining.

Well, that's the intent at least. Actually, I've become more mindful about the triggering events that typically begin my complaining and I'm working on doing something more productive during those times.

Why? Because it is a drag to be around a person who bitches and moans all the time. Also, complaining keeps you stuck in a rut by giving you the satisfaction of letting off steam and this prevents you from taking action that would prevent such occurances in the future.

For example, when our babysitter was late for the third time, instead of immediately calling my mom or husband and complaining about her, I simply decided to call a differrent sitter next time and I went on with my life. A lot more pleasant for everyone involved, right?

It's not easy to give up a complaining habit, that's for sure. But it's a heck of a lot more fun than giving up chocolate or ice cream for 46 days.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

St. Patty / Green Beer Day

I have two memories of St. Patty's Day.

What I mean is that when I think of St. Patty's Day, two very different thoughts come to mind.

First, I think about dive bars and green dye in Coors Lite and people guzzling that nasty stuff down. (I dated a microbrewery owner many moons ago and I have no problem admitting I'm a beer snob of the highest degree.)

Second, I think about being a kid and always wanting to wear a green shirt or a green dress on St. Patty's Day. No brainer, right? For some reason - and I bet my mother will deny this! - she always made us wear regular clothes and pinned a small square of green construction paper to our shirts.

"You're not wearing green!" Some 3rd grader would say, pinching my ribs.

I'd defensively point to my square of green over my heart and pinch them back.

You'd think I would make amends for this by dressing my kids in spectacular green outfits today, right? I am sad to say that I blew it. I totally forgot it was St. Patty's Day and we didn't even accidentally have a streak of green on anything we wore. But the worst part is that for a split second I actually considered finding some green construction paper at the CVS across from Arlo's school...

Happy St. Patty's Day, everyone.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

I Love Dirt!

I stumbled upon this great book - "I Love Dirt: 52 Activities to Help You & Your Kids Discover the Wonders of Nature" by Jennifer Ward. Pride leads me to inform you that I know my way around the outdoors. I may not be much of a camper (I need my daily showers and the bugs like me a little too much) but I grew up playing in the Oklahoma pastures and today I can't resist a good hike. But, I can always use a little inspiration for outdoor things to do with my little ones, especially in these cold winter days.

Score! I found a great activity for winter days, and this one will work for my one year old, my three year old and my 15 year old stepdaughter. The project is to design treats for the winter birds that stick around during the cold months. Food, including orange wedges, seeds, and nuts can be used. I love the book's idea of using pinecones smothered with a mixture of peanut butter, raisins, sunflower seeds, cornmeal, and oatmeal and to skewer orange slices on sticks to make bird shish kebabs. I'm not sure which the kids will find most fun - creating the bird food or watching the birds enjoy our tasty treats. Either way, I'll take pictures and report back.

What are your favorite outdoor winter activities with small children?