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Sunday, December 23, 2012

Family Friday on Sunday

I meant to post this on Friday and never got to it so I am breaking routine and schedule and posting it on deep thought day.  You will have to ponder the photos and see if  you get any deep thoughts from them.
Noah made a bird feeder in nursery at church and he was so excited to hang it out for the birds.  It wasn't 30 seconds before the good old reliable chickadees arrived.
A Chickadee landed while Noah was standing there and he was so excited to see a birdie up close.   My camera skills were not fast enough though.
Loki and Diogi celebrated their 1st birthday on the 18th of December.  This is from before then but I don't think they have changed that much.
I added this one because they look so vicious, but they are just playing.
See they are sweet.  They are stunningly beautiful dogs, especially now that there is lots of snow.  They just look right in the snow.  Loki is your typical dumb dog, impulsive, naughty and mindless.  It looked like he was going to claim the title of alpha until  Diogi ripped his cheek open.  Diogi is a spectacular dog (that's because he is mine).  He is obedient, gentle and sweet.  Even though he is smaller his intelligence (for a dog anyway) gives him the upper "paw" so to speak
I added this one because I never let anyone tough my camera so there aren't many pictures of me.  I had worn my in braids the day before and didn't take them out before I went to bed.  I took the picture to ask Sophie if she thought I should get a perm.  Can you guess what she answered?
This is from district chorus day where Sophie was asked last  minute to introduce the special guests, the UVM Top Cats, in front of hundreds of people.  I literally turned to the stranger next to me and said, "That's my girl!!!"
I was not in a good spot to get a picture of her and the gym was packed, but I did get this one of her with her lifelong friend who shall remain nameless as I have not asked her mother if it was ok to post it here.
Thanksgiving spread.  I had been so busy with class, and the family with taekwondo and dance and  mason etc...that we stayed home for Thanksgiving.  While I missed seeing family, it was a much needed family down time and we thoroughly enjoyed the relaxed holiday.
Ben approves...
Jacob adds his thumbs up
Aaron had some dream of having four pies for Thanksgiving so I fulfilled his wish.  Pumpkin, apple, pecan and peanut butter.  The favorite was the new arrival; peanut butter pie.  In fact I forgot how good it was and now I want to make it again.
Here is Noah's seal of approval...I wish he had waited for me to take a picture before digging in.
Excuse the bum....Noah is potty training.  He is doing well, but has a fear of getting pee or poop on his cool undies so he refuses to wear them.  He has good control (enough to pee in strange places like a cup, the handle on the laundry basket, and the hole in the lego trunk...) but doesn't want to take the full plunge into no diapers.
Blurry photo, but I think it is funny how kids like confined spaces. Noah set himself up in these milk crates
This is a horrible picture.  I am licking my lips and Aaron's head is cut off, but we are together so I added it.  It was taken by a random stranger who grabbed my camera and took this picture of us as I received a rose from the Freemason's Christmas party.
The party was held at the home of a widow of a freemason.  It was a mansion and it was amazing.    I spent half of the evening wishing I was rich and the other half thinking of how much I love my simple life.  The house had these amazing doors that they got from an 1820's church in England that was torn down.  Apparently they bought the church, which I didn't know until just now, and now I am wondering what other things int he house were salvaged from the church
So there you have the photo portion of the updates from Craftsbury Cottage.  I am sure there are other things to share but my head is going to explode so I am off!   Until next time!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Parenting Practices: Taekwondo

For quite some time Ben had been asking to take taekwondo or karate.  Sophie has her dance class and it seemed like it was time for the boys to have a creative outlet.  We love Dunlavy's Black Belt Academy and the boys have really loved it. It is amazing to see how it has influenced their lives outside of taekwondo.  They are learning focus, self-control, respect, integrity, courtesy etc... and plus they get to yell and chop the air, what else could a kid ask for?
p.s. my class is done and I even gota good grade!!!!!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Like so many others, I am asking the question, why did this happen? As a compulsive fixer I want to identify a root cause to any problem so I can fix it quickly and simply.  Are guns the problem?  Is public school the problem?  Are video games and screens the problem…? I am certain the solution to the many lives senselessly lost in school shootings the past years is not so simple or concise. 

I cannot condemn any of these things.  A gun did not kill those children.  A person using a gun did.  The stories coming out from the situation in Connecticut are giving great evidence that the educators and administrator were nothing short of stellar.

I am writing this as a mechanism to process the mind numbing emotions, images, fears, and questions I am asking.  For example, do I pull my kids out of school so I can keep them safe at my side?  Has the time come where school is no longer a safe place to be?  I am not asking for answers, rather demonstrating why I am writing and posting this.

So bare with me as I process…I find it therapeutic.  The way I see it, there are a few issues that might contribute to the unhappiness that so many people feel.  First, maybe we should all put down our cell phones, laptops, tablets, smartphones, T.V. remotes or even our newspaper and book and look someone we love in the eyes and have a heartfelt conversation.  Maybe we should stop running around trying to live a diverse and fulfilling lifestyle and realize that we can have that right at home with the ones we love. 

I am not condemning any of these technologies, activities or desires, but we have a unique situation where we have limitless possibilities at our fingertips.  Most of the things we have to choose are good choices and I think a lot of us (me included) get wrapped up too many things because how do you say no to a “good” choice or opportunity.

Sometimes my kids will get so bent out of shape because they had to empty the dishwasher yesterday and it isn’t fair that they have to do it again today.  Or their socks have been crinkled and pinching them all day and that is why they were rude to their friend or brother.  We have had such a wonderful life for so long I think we forget that we have it good.  We have to choose between dance and taekwondo when there are people who have to decide to live as illegal aliens in order to feed their families, or they aren’t sure if the place they call home will even be their home.  My kids wake up in the night because they had a bad dream, other kids wake up because of gunfire or sirens announcing the arrival of some life threatening weapon.  My children are not watching their cousins or parents or friends disappear to some mysterious work camp never to return. We need to remember that no matter how bad we think we have it, there is always someone who has it worse so we can make the best of our situation.

I love technology and its ability to supply me with ideas, uplifting quotes, entertainment and connection to friends and loved ones far away.  It is amazing how far technology has come since I was in high school.  It is accessible to almost everyone and information, entertainment, conversation are available in an instant.  I know people who get frustrated when a page on the internet is loading slowly.  Remember how amazing we thought the internet was, even as we sat there waiting for 6 minutes as a page loaded?  Or even better we would bring up a page and go fold a load of laundry while the page loaded?  The constant, instant stimulation that technology gives us today is literally changing the way our brains work and by golly if you don’t get what you want NOW, get ready for a rant, fit or tantrum.  People are brimming over with anger and frustration because we have come to expect instant gratification.

Another wonderful thing about our society is the freedom to choose.  We are all so liberated and free to be whoever or whatever we want.  We don’t have government officials telling us how to marry, dress, eat or worship.  Unfortunately every good thing we have is abused by so many and the result is that there are a lot of people out there who want things to be a certain way because they have certain rights and in the process they forget their neighbors or friends or family have rights too and neither is important enough to remove the rights from the other.

Finally, I think the media is appalling, and yet here I am contributing in my own way.  But as I sat there reading the stories from Connecticut and looking at the pictures, I couldn’t help feeling disgusted by myself and the media.  I looked at the image of a woman crying and thought how can they be there and invade this poor woman’s privacy and broadcast her grief and sorrow for the whole world to see?  And yet I clicked through all those pictures and went to find more reports on the incident.  The media is entertainment from movie to news.  The media sets the stage for the show, but they wouldn’t put the time, effort and money into the “show” if there wasn’t an audience.  Unfortunately there are some unhealthy, unhappy people out there who want to create drama and the stage is set and ready for their leading role.

For me part of the solution lays in believing in a higher power.  My religion and beliefs help me to see that there is someone or something out there that is greater than myself.  I am constantly climbing up my ivory tower then falling to the ground as I realize that I have been selfish or uncaring.  Sometimes we need to get over ourselves and think about how we are treating others and how our actions affect others.  I think we all need to have the words to one of my favorite children’s songs from my church emblazoned on our foreheads as we discuss politics, religion, or gardening; “Jesus (Buddah, Mother Earth, Ala the Goddess , insert your preference here) said love every one, treat them kindly too.  When your heart is filled with love, others will love you.”

So put aside whatever that pressing matter may be and love those that surround you.  Recognize the amazing lives we have.  Express gratitude for your trials and challenges and how through them you gain strength, wisdom and compassion for others.  And when everything feels hopeless and you feel like no one is listening or no one cares, kneel in prayer and call out to that higher power, even if you don’t know for sure there is one, and know that you are never alone.  You have a Father in Heaven who loves you, wants your happiness and can lift your burdens.  This is what has brought me peace. 

I am not saying that I have perfected this process.  I mostly wrote all of this for myself.  I am guilty of all of the things I listed as possible reasons our society is so messed up, but I do know that if we could all love unconditionally, regardless of belief in a higher power, the world would be an even better place.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Parenting Practices: My Prerogative

It is every parent's right and privilege to believe that their child is a genius or gifted in some area of development.  I am sure you have heard it before; "Oh Johnny is so advanced compared to his classmates.  He can already sign the alphabet. Johnny show us the letter P...........oh you know kids, they never do things when you want them to.  In fact that is evidence of Johnny's intellect, he already refuses to be somebody's puppet."

So today I claim my right to declare that Noah is a genius and artistically gifted, even though the evidence I provide is indistinguishable by anyone and is actually evidence of my negligence and Noah's naughtiness.  I give you exhibit A:
When I was going through my pictures I honestly thought, "Who got a hold of  my camera and took random pictures of scribbles?"  As a mother and a firsthand witness, what we have here are Noah's first drawings of people.
Exhibit B:

Exhibit B Addendum: 

And in case you need it, a map to Noah's people:
A=Head B=Legs C=Head with eyes, nose and mouth that Noah scribbled out before I could get a picture D= VERRRRYYYY long legs 

Friday, November 02, 2012

Family Friday

For almost as long as we have been here in Craftsbury there has been some controversy over the school gym. It needed to be replaced as it was deemed unsafe to use when there was snow on the roof or if the wind was blowing over a certain speed and there were often frogs in the locker room.  After years of debate and failed bond votes we finally have an AMAZING new facility.  For the ribbon cutting ceremony each class had a table with examples of work they have done this year.
This was one of Ben's contributions.  He is very self conscious about these poems, especially War.  His teacher pulled me aside and showed me these poems long before the open house.  She said that he had spontaneously come up with these poems and that they had just flowed out of him without pause, direction or correction.  He will share Stream but not War.
Once again I took so many pictures of Sophie but she was always doing something goofy or very obviously staged.
This was Aaron's presentation center
The brightly colored poster behind Sophie is her creation.
And of course Jacob at his class table
It is voting time!  Can you guess who I voted for?

Ben did his hair and wanted me to take a picture and I just couldn't resist those sweet brown eyes.
Pumpkin carving time!  This year we let the kids carve their own pumpkins, sharp knives and all.  It was seriously the most enjoyable pumpkin carving we have ever had.
I think they turned out pretty well
I am not a fan of characters, but Jacob asked to borrow this from a friend and it was one less costume for me to worry about.
This costume is more up my alley.  Sir Ben of the Common
Happy Halloween and Happy November!

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Reckless Recreation: By Request

Our town hosts a Halloween Trunk or Treat and parade on Halloween night.  We have never been organized or ready for it on time but for some reason last night, the planets aligned.  I LOVE IT!!!  In a rural town where every one is so spread out, trick or treating tricky and time consuming.

I had class last night so we all went up together, I took some pictures and then I drove away to class.  It was really hard to leave Aaron and the kids.  Halloween is not my favorite holiday (if it even deserves that classification), but I love how our little family does it.
Words can't express how much this fills me with contentment and joy.
After this party they went to a few houses in the village and then my favorite part of Halloween.  The part I was most sad about missing.  Aaron took the kids to our closest (in proximity) neighbors. Most of them are over the age of 80 and they LOVE it when we come.  These are not your average trick or treat stops.  We go in chat for awhile and when the kids start pilfering through their personal items we know it is time to go. We are the only ones that come and they always have copious amounts of candy, cookies, and homemade fudge specifically for us.  One neighbor told Aaron that it she so looks forward to the kids coming and that it was her favorite day of the year.

ANYWAY........this far too lengthy post was supposed to set the stage for what Aaron really wanted me to post about.

So take an overtired, overstimulated, over sugared toddler (Noah) and send him to bed.  Aaron told me that when he went to bed he was writhing and gyrating in his bed attempting to allude sleep, and mid-writhe/gyration he fell asleep in a twisted contorted position.

Fast forward to about 4:30 a.m.  Noah has woken up and gone downstairs.  I get up and meet him at the top of the stairs and say, "Noah it's sleep time, let's go to bed."  He willingly heads toward his bed, but when he gets to the edge of it he stops and with a voice a little to loud and shrill for normal hours, let alone 4:30 am, he says, "Where is it?
"What Noah?"
"It was right there!"
"What Noah?  What was right there?"
"Wher'd it go? It was right there!?"
He throws back his covers and begins waving his hands over his sheets madly, all of his movements and questions too fast. loud, and exaggerated for his "normal."
"Right there Mama!"
I finally just put him in bed and cover him up.  I started to lay down with him and he commanded me, "Now you go away.  This is my bed.  This is my blankies.  You go to your bed.  To Daddy's bed."
I asked if he was going to stay in bed and he assured me that he would.  I gave him a kiss and said goodnight and began to walk away.
"Wait for me Mommy!  I want to give you high five."
High five's received, I laid down with him and observed the same wild gyrating that Aaron had seen earlier except this time it was accompanied with a jabbering, rapid fire, dialogue.  At this point I started to worry.  Did he have too much candy?  He is no stranger to sugar.  Did he have meningitis and was having feverish hallucinations? I felt his head for a fever;cool as a cucumber.  Is he autistic?  
(You should know that I was listening to a book on CD on the way home from class about a family that discovered their son had autism and he would hyper actively writhe around  and spout words and phrases his parents didn't know he was capable of.)

I finally decided to pretend I was asleep thinking that if I ignored him it would remove the only stimulus he had and he would quickly fall asleep.  At this he began propping different body parts on top of me and announcing," Look at dat!"   First his head.  Then his legs or arms.  Finally he perches his whole body on top of me and triumphantly announces, "TA-DA!!!!" Back to plan A

I tuck him in again, reminding him it is sleep time and he needs to be quiet because he is starting to wake up Ben and Jacob.  Jacob rolled over in bed and softly snorted with an intake of breath.  "JAY-CUB!!!"  "JAY-CUB SHUSH!"
"You shush" was my response.
"NO! I not shush.  I just Noah!"
I laughed, admitted defeat and decided to spare the rest of the house from a 5:30 a.m. wake up.  

It is 9:10 now and I predicting that any moment now he will not be able to resist sleep any longer even though there is absolutely no evidence to support my prediction but ample evidence to support my imminent slumber.

Sweet dreams!