Friday, October 24, 2008

Falling for Fall

I don't know about you, but fall is my favorite time of year. I like the crisp air, wearing warm, soft sweaters, drinking hot cider, making pumpkin pie... the whole thing. It just seems like a time where you enjoy snuggling up all cozy with your family and have fun things to eat. Or, if you go outside the temperatures are that nice in between area, not too hot or too cold. And of course, one of the best things about fall is the leaves with all their beautiful colors, not to mention the fun they provide once they're on the ground. Since we live in a rather new neighborhood though, there aren't too many mature trees here, which means not a whole lot of leaves to walk in and hear that satisfying leafy crunch. So the other day we headed off to a place where we knew there'd be a ton of leaves to let the kids experience the fun.

It was a beautiful scene with all the trees all decked out in their fall splendor. And the wind was blowing so leaves were drifting down out of the trees constantly. The kids thought this was pretty cool and Bree wanted to try and catch one right out of the air.

Always wanting to do whatever his sister is doing, naturally, it wasn't long before Noah decided to try it as well.

Then we spied a big leaf pile and both kids dived right in and had fun rolling around.
Okay, well Noah isn't really having fun in this moment...we thought it would be fun to bury him in the leaves. He disagreed.

Of course, it wouldn't be a romp in the leaves without the traditional jump into the pile. With a little help from Mom, the kids were soon jumping-into-leaf-pile experts, while Trav snapped shots of the action.
Bree and I did a couple of jumps, and then Noah wanted in on the fun too. Notice him running along behind us in on this jump...

So, I helped him "jump" too.

After the jumping, Bree got a little more creative and started just lounging in the leaves, striking poses for the camera...
(Yes, bare feet, she arrived wearing shoes, but I just can't keep them on that kid! The dirty toes are pretty cute though huh?)

Here she is making a leaf angel.

Not to be outdone, Noah tried it too, but he got a little confused and instead just face planted.

It was a lot of fun! What's better on a fall day then playing in the leaves?

Yep, it's an old, but true saying that sometimes the simplest things in life are the best.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Fairy Tales

Well, it's time for me to climb back up on my motherhood soap box again. Although I usually just have fun recounting the amusing little things the kids do throughout the day, I do occasionally get the urge to write down some deeper parenting thoughts as well. (Don't worry, I'll try to keep it short!)

I've had fairy tales on the brain. Halloween is coming up fast and my little girl wants to dress up as a fairy tale character (I won't spoil the fun and tell you which one just yet) and then there's her obsession lately with anything regarding Princesses. It's just gotten me thinking. That and I also recently watched Disney's Enchanted, a cute little movie that parodies fairy tales. Never seen it? Well here's a clip for you:

It's funny because it's just SO ludicrous. And as adults, we get that. But, I have to look at my children and wonder how they're processing movies like Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty and the like since they won't be taking it in with a grain of salt. Don't get me wrong, I'm not planning on banning fairy tales from the house or anything, and I think that these stories can be fun and have their place. However, I also really think they need to be tempered by real life. Because otherwise, our little girls and our little boys alike will grow up aspiring to be like these caricatures and feeling inadequate and dissatisfied when themselves and those around them don't measure up. Our little girls will think that if they find themselves stuck inside a tall tower that the most proactive thing they can do is grow their hair out long and wait to be rescued. They may wait their whole lives waiting for a Prince Charming that doesn't exist to sweep them off their feet and "complete" them. Meanwhile our little boys will think they have to be out slaying dragons while they pursue unrealistic images of an idealized woman who will every day be at home happily cleaning house while she sings. It sets them up for failure. They need to know that not all woman have size 6 bodies, long flowing perfectly coiffed hair and a beautiful singing voice and that it's okay. They need to know that not all men are musclebound dragon slayers who will always say the right thing and leave you sighing after them constantly and that's okay too. Of course, maybe I'm reading too much into it, maybe I'm being too literal here. But then, don't children tend to take things literally themselves?

I guess I would hope that we can enjoy these idealized version of reality, these fairy tales where everything is sprinkled with pixy dust, life is charming, and men and women are converted into 2 dimensional personalities in more ways then one. I hope we can enjoy them as they were meant to be enjoyed with our children but still manage to have them grow up realizing that while they'll never be like those characters, they can still like themselves with all their complexity, their flaws and their humanity.

So, to close this topic I leave you with a song. If you've never listened to Sarah Barielles, check it out.

Sunday, October 19, 2008


Brianna sure is getting to be a big girl! Lately I have really seen a big change in her, as she is becoming more likely to listen, easier to reason with, and more obedient. And at 4, she's now becoming interested in more "grown up" things than she was before. For example, she's very into fashion and looking like a fancy lady these days. Although she starts out in regular clothing each morning, just about every day she ends up changing into one of her more frilly dresses with dressy shoes to match. Of course, this has gone hand in hand with her new penchant for playing princess. Virtually every day she informs me that she's a princess and she's going to get married and invite all the girls to her wedding, where she'll marry a prince and have lots of babies. (Specifically she's said she wants to have 20 and a half babies... poor little half baby.) For lack of any other men in her life, this means that quite often Noah or Daddy are named the prince. Noah doesn't seem to mind it, and quite obligingly goes along with his day, not knowing he's been appointed to royalty. Actually sometimes he's not only the prince, but also her "little husband," whom she leads around the house holding hands and ordering around. This is not to be confused with her big husband, Daddy. One evening while eating dinner out Bree started chatting up our waitress and was telling her all about how she's going to get married and have kids and so on. The waitress, playing along sweetly said, "Oh, and how many kids are you going to have?" I expected the answer to be the standard 20 and a half but this time Bree just shrugged and said, "I don't know. Travis and I haven't decided yet." The waitress smirked and then laughed once Travis pointed to himself and informed her, "I'm Travis."

Aside from being more interested in the marriage and babies scene, Bree just generally seems more sophisticated in the way she talks, acts, and handles situations. Take for example the other day when the kids and I decided to pick Travis up at work and have lunch together. Travis and I were both pretty indecisive about what we wanted for lunch or where would be a nice place to go. Plus, being in a small town, the options are somewhat limited. So we went around for a bit saying, "How about that restaurant?" "Yeah, that would be okay, or how about this one?" "Well, I don't care, do you have a preference?" "Not really, either one works for me." We went on like that for a few minutes when Brianna piped up from the back seat, "Guys! Guys! How about Pizza Hut!?" Well, Travis and I both paused for a minute and then smiled and said, "Good idea, we hadn't thought of that one." Then after lunch Bree said, "That sure was a good idea I had huh?"

Then there was the evening that Bree decided she wanted to have a pajama party. She started chattering excitedly about how we would all get in our pajamas and have so much fun. Fact was though, it was already after her bedtime and this was her third or fourth time popping out of her bedroom, so not only were we already in our pajamas, but we weren't super excited about the whole pajama party idea. So we both stood there patiently, waiting for Bree to wind down her long run on sentence when she suddenly paused, eyed her dad up and down and said, "Do you even have pajamas?" Because Trav's usual night time attire is just a pair of cotton shorts, which, apparently doesn't meet Bree's PJ criteria. Trav just laughed and told her, "Yeah, I'm not wearing them now but I'll wear some for the pajama party okay?"

Apart from this newer and more mature outlook on life, she still charms and amuses me with her preschool childishness as well. She's still very involved in the world of her imagination and her alter egos. She just keeps coming up with them, the newest being "Arista the cat cowgirl." I know the name Arista and the cat part cropped up right after she watched Aristocats, but I don't know how that character morphed into a cowgirl as well?

But then, even without a wild alter ego, Bree is character just being herself and can make even the most mundane of things funny... like riding on her Auntie's shoulders while going for a walk. She informed her Auntie that while she was up there, she wanted to give her a new hairdo. "Okay," Auntie Em said obligingly, and Bree went diligently to work. A few mintues later she pipes up and says, "Hey Mom, do you know how I'm staying up here on Auntie Em's shoulders so good?" "How?" I ask her without looking up. "Well, she's holding onto my necklegs!" I paused to translate that one in my head, "You mean ankles?" I ask. "Yeah, ankles!" she says. I smile and look up and then... "Holy cow!" I exclaim. "Nice hairdo Em." "What?" my sister asked innocently. Well, all the while Em was giving Bree a ride and holding onto her "necklegs" Bree had been hard at work ratting and twisting her aunt's hair up into a tangled, tall beehive worthy of Marge Simpson!

Whew! That turned into a long one, but I guess I haven't done Breeisms in awhile. After burning all those carbs reading, you're probably thinking a snack would be nice right about now huh? So, in Bree's words, why don't you head over to the "country" (pantry) and see if you can't find some of those "banilla" (vanilla) cookies.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Monkey See Monkey Do

It's been interesting, as Noah works his way through the usual milestones this past year, to watch and see how differently he approaches things and how he's achieved various skills in a different order and on a totally different time line than his sister. He's done a lot of things later than Bree did, rolling over, crawling, walking... But, in trying to keep up with a big sister, he's also done many things much sooner than I seem to remember Bree doing. Take coloring for example, at 15 months old he loves to color.

I don't think Brianna was even starting to want to pick up crayons and markers at this age.

And it's pretty cute to see the two of them playing together in this way, although, a bit surreal they're at this stage already.

If you notice, they're using those wonderful Color Wonder markers, the kind that only work on special paper. This is because Noah's interest in coloring on things extends beyond the page and onto the walls, and the floor and just about anything else. And so far, I haven't been able to get across that we only color on paper, hence the special markers.

Actually, now that he's walking, and therefore better able to keep up with his sister, he's all about the copycatting. Yep, he wants to do everything he sees Bree doing. Everything. So there they'll be, in a rascally mood, and instead of just one kid head-butting the cat or deciding to empty a whole cereal box onto the floor, I'll have two. This goes both ways though, since Bree often has a blast imitating her brother as well, reverting back to her inner toddler.

Of course, Noah's monkey see monkey do attitude extends to his parents as well. Which means you can find him handing clean dishes to Mom (yes, I'm enjoying that while I can), or being helpful in some other way. You can also see Mom and Dad's influence in Noah's dance moves. Now that he's up on his feet he loves to groove a beat, copying his parents' best moves. (I've always thought that kids' behavior is a little too revealing about their parents in those type situations. That and when they start repeating some of the embarrassing things you say.) But then, you know what they say about mimicry, best form of flattery and all that.

The newest and perhaps the most interesting behavior Noah's been imitating comes from me though. I've already talked about this a bit, but you see, lately I've had sort of a fixation with painting my walls. We've lived in this house around 18 months now and I'm determined not to have a white wall left. I'm fundamentally against white walls. This means that I've been doing a lot of holding paint chips against the wall and squinting. A lot. Apparently I've done this so much that Noah's picked up on it. So, whenever he comes across a paint chip he immediately holds it up against the wall! Perhaps Mommy's been a bit overly obsessed with this project?

While Noah has been watching and copying the other members of his family he still has a personality all his own. He's adding new words to his vocabulary, like peeking around things and going "Boo!" or pointing his little finger at people and saying "Don't!" (Rascal!) He also charms his mom by giving out hugs and kisses quite freely. And he already has some little personality quirks as well. My favorite one? The kid loves socks! It's kind of odd but he just loves to wear socks. Maybe he likes toasty toes but when he sees a pair of socks he smiles and sticks his feet out obligingly. He's just one fun and charming little guy.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Paint Me Exasperated!

Well, I think it's official, I am now completely and certifiably insane. If you needed any more proof then I submit to you the following incident that happened this week...

Running errands with two kids is always an (ahem) "adventure." And now that Noah's started walking it's even more fun. I mean, it was a bit difficult before but at least I knew that the baby was right there with me, in the stroller or shopping cart, and I only had one rambunctious rambler to keep an eye on. It's probably not politically correct to say it, but it was kind of nice having one kid who was too young to move. But now, with two very active and busy kids it's double trouble! It's like trying to run errands with a small troupe of monkeys or something. Seriously, despite the fact he's now mobile the one is always clinging to my pant leg or wanting to be held and hang off of me. And the other one is always roving around, getting into things, whining, or both at the same time. You get the picture. It makes an errand that should have taken 5 minutes take at least a half an hour.

All that's pretty standard for any mom though. But here's the part where I lose my mind. Knowing full well what it's like to take two young kids into the store, I actually took them with me to try and choose....paint! Oy vey! Let me tell you... For starters, I went in there thinking it would be a quick in and out job since I had some fabric I wanted them to match. You know, since all the stores seem to be offering to match colors. Come to find out, as the store clerk dryly informed me, that they "can't match fabric" since it has threads of several colors in it and that apparently confuses the computer. (Aaaargh!) So, the gal hands me the fan deck of 60 trillion colors and tells me she's sure I can find the right color somewhere in there. Figuring I came for paint and by golly I was going to get some I sat down determindly to find my perfect hue. Well, matching colors can be a tricky thing, as anyone who has tried to do it well knows. Not only is it virtually impossible to really know what the color will look like in your space from a tiny paint chip stuck up on the wall but because, it gets a bit confusing when faced with 60 trillion colors all at once. Even something seemingly "safe" and innocuous as picking a bland beige can be trecherous since there's a pinky shaded beige, a more brown beige, a grayer beige, a greenish beige, a more yellow beige, an orangish beige, and so on. And all of them just slightly different enough to make a person's head start to spin. And of course, all of them not *quite* the same as my sample. So there I was, knee deep in paint chips and really concentrating and squinting at the samples, willing one of them to match while my kids are.... oh wait, I brought the kids. Where are the kids? Oh there they are, in the row straight ahead steadily throwing a stack of 50 or so plastic paint trays into the middle of the aisle, making an impressive pile really.

"Bree!" I say. "Please stack all those back up and put them back on the shelf. They belong to the store not to us."
"Okay Mom!" she says obligingly and starts stacking.

Back I go squinting at paint samples. After a minute I look back up to check on the kids again. Now that they've cleaned up the paint trays, they've found a stack of cardboard paint buckets that they're pulling apart one by one and doggedly making a pile in the middle of the aisle.

"Brianna, can you please help your brother clean that up?" I say, "The people who work here like to keep the store clean so pick up."
"Okay Mom!" she says and starts stacking them all back up.

I glance down at my paint chips and when I look back up I see that now Noah has grabbed a medium sized cardboard bucket and put it over his head like a hat and it comes far enough down that it's covered his eyes. He's laughing and staggering around the aisle with his hands out in front of him. This makes Bree laugh and decide to join in so she grabs the bigger size and puts on her own "helmet."

"All right you two. Those are very nice hats you have but you can't see and I'm afraid you'll fall so please put them back okay?"
"Okay Mom!" Bree says.

By this point, despite the fact that I've had to have some sort of child chaos intervention every few minutes I've narrowed my paint choices down to two. Hmm... which would be better? My thoughts are interuppted by loud banging. Now both children have each grabbed two of the tiny paint sample cans and are banging them together to make music.

"That's very loud!" I tell them. "Why don't you play a quieter game..."
"Okay Mom!" Bree says. Then her and Noah start stacking all the small sample cans of paint from a low child-height shelf onto the table they have for poor idiots to sit at while trying to choose a paint color. After they have them all stacked I'm still wavering between my two choices and I say, "Okay! Now let's move them all back from the table to the shelf again. That's a good game!"
"Okay Mom!" Bree says and they start shuffling back and forth putting them back, although, I do beleive they were in order by color before we got there.

Finally, I pick my color. I ask the gal at the counter to mix it for me. Meanwhile, the kids decide to play a very loud shout and laugh hysterically while peeking at each other from behind a round display game. I ignore them.

Then at last, the paint is mixed and I feel like my head is going to explode. I round up the kids and take my perfect color home, leaving somewhat of a wrecked paint section behind me. But really, it could have been worse. Still, I'm pretty sure the paint clerk hates me on site.

And guess what? I took that color, painted a big old swatch on my wall and.... I hate it! Looks totally different in my house.

So, lesson for the day, kids can be frustrating even when they're really not being bad they're just being, well, kids. And picking a paint color can be VERY frustrating. If you haven't tried it yet, I don't recommend mixing the may have to dose yourself with tranquilizers afterwards.


It's been awhile so it's time for an update on Bree's developing artwork. Her doodles are getting much more detailed and structured and I thought it might be fun to take a look and see her progression. At least, I find it fascinating. But then, I'm pretty sure I'm obliged to. :) Anyways, take a look, it's pretty interesting to see what new details emerge with each one. (Oh, and to help you see what's there I labeled some of the parts for you...)

Her drawings of people started out like this:
A head with eyes, a smile and legs, that include feet, coming right out from the head. Pretty cute huh? Classic childhood drawing.

Then you could see that she started noticing more elements of the human face. Like here where she's added eyebrows and nostrils.

This is her most detailed face yet. This one has eyes with pupils, eyebrows, a nose with nostrils and a frown too. I guess this guy is sad...

Recently she's also started adding more details to the rest of her people's bodies, making them more anatomically correct. This person has quite a few facial features and legs with feet, arms, hands and even fingers.

It's just funny to me to watch how these little facets are being added on one thing at a time to her drawings. And she's even toyed around with writing her name a bit.

Travis wrote her name out for her there on top and she took a darn good stab at repeating it below. Pretty impressive for a 4 year old I say!

What do you think, budding artist on our hands? Of course, her mom thinks so! :)