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Siblings


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Thursday, November 29. 2007

This evening after a very busy full day, I was cuddling on the couch with AJ and L. They had spent most of the day together attending a nature center class, lunch at the Y, swim and gym program, dinner and then an hour of swimming together in the pool at the Y while I taught without much friction. During their lap swim, L took AJ under her wing teaching him to swim with flippers, sharing her knowledge and various drills from swim team. It was the kind of interaction that warms your heart. They seemed to really be enjoying each other's company and were requesting to have a sleep over with each other this evening. I commented on how they really seemed to be enjoying their time together today and they both agreed. I then commented on how it isn't always like that and then asked why they thought at times the other was the worst sibling in the world and other times they wanted the fun to last forever. AJ responded that he didn't know. L, without missing a beat stated "Sometimes you just need a good fight!"

Gratitude


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Tuesday, November 27. 2007

Since the holiday last week, we have enjoyed more meals as a family in the evening than we have in a long time. I started asking the kids each evening to name something they were grateful for. The first few days their answers seemed to be the same (family, house, food, toys, friends, God ...not necessarily in that order). A-girl rarely comes up with her own unique answers but she usually comes up with something that makes us smile. This evening, the following conversation took place:

Me: What are you grateful for, A-girl?
A-girl: burgers..................and peas!
S: and rice?
A-girl: NO! Not rice......just burgers and peas (she didn't like the curried rice at all!)

The biggest change in responses has come from L. It seemed initially she said what she thought she should say and she seemed to say it as quickly as possible so she could eat or finish eating. She seemed more occupied with "getting it right" than looking beyond that to what she felt. The past couple of nights, her answers have gotten away from that and been much more personal. Tonight, she said "I am thankful for being able to eat with Daddy for so many nights in a row rather than only like once a week like before"

I put this little ritual into place for many reasons. I want the kids to be able to express their gratitude. I want them to be thankful in all situations but not have to be thankful for all situations. I want them to find something to celebrate and be grateful for each and everyday despite how hard some days will be. They are young and I don't expect profound answers from them but I do want to build their communication skills by providing opportunities for family discussions around the dinner table. A few weeks ago the kids brought home from Sunday School little cards with questions on them and we have had fun asking and answering them. I am hoping that we will have built the foundation for good family communication so that in the years to come when they would prefer not to talk with us they will still feel safe, loved and be able to share with us. Wishful thinking??? Perhaps, but I am enjoying our discussion times anyway and if in some little way, they bring us closer together over the years then it was all worth it.

A drawback


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Tuesday, November 27. 2007

I realized today, when I went to work in the swim and gym program that this would be the first time since L started the program 4 years ago that I would not be able to see her rock climb on the climbing wall in the gym. The swim and gym program is a two hour program where participants spend one hour in the pool and one hour participating in various gym games rotating through a variety of games/activities during the three sessions. I have watched her 9 times as she became more confident, climbed higher and now is trying harder routes. I have seen AJ climb once and he was looking forward to climbing higher today than last time. I have watched the entire class, younger kids in tow as we cheered the kids on and took photos. Today was odd and a little tough for me as I didn't see them climb at all. L was proud of herself for climbing tougher climbs to the top twice. AJ was frustrated he didn't get to the top but also proud that he made it part way. I would have given anything to leave the pool and watch as my climbers did their climbs.....

Was that Y or why???


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Monday, November 26. 2007

This evening, L went to swim practice and AJ was wanting to go along as well. He has been having a really hard day pushing the limits to the end and then falling a part when he recieves a consequence. The following conversation followed yet another request to go to the Y..

AJ: But why can't I go? (insert really whiny voice)
Me: Your behaviour is telling me that you are needing to stay home, play quietly and then go to bed and going to the Y would be too late a night for you.
AJ: But why can't I go to the Y? I will be good. I'll sit by Dad and watch. Why can't I go.? (all in a very whiny voice)

After about 5 questions as to why he couldn't go and none asked very nicely, I told him he was staying home. He immediately dropped to the floor, whining and crying, crawled under the table (we were eating dinner) and was pouting.

Me: This the why you are not going!
A-girl: Mom! This is not the Y. This is our house!


Thought for the Day


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Monday, November 26. 2007

"The life I touch for good or ill will touch another life,
and that in turn another, until who knows
where the trembling stops or in what far place
my touch will be felt" Frederick Buechner

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas


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Saturday, November 24. 2007

November, 1, when the Halloween merchandise was replaced by the Christmas merchandise in stores, L informed me it was too early, that Christmas was a long way away. She would tell me how it wasn't the right time to have your house decorated when we would pass one all decked out or see someone with a tree on the top of their vehicle. For her it was too soon. Somehow along the way, in the past few days, she is now ready for Christmas. She has started to ask where our decorations are. I over hear the kids singing Christmas carols as their dramatic play evolves around the "Christmas pageant/concert" theme. We have tuned into the all Christmas Carol station on the radio. We have CD's of Christmas tunes on the player and they are played often. We have started to make some of our favorite treats of the season and the kids are learning Christmas music on the piano. We received our first Christmas card/letter in the mail the day after Thanksgiving. I am starting to see the excitement of the season and the extra energy that they all seem to gain this time of year. I also am feeling the warmth of the season and the excitement building as the magic of the season is reflected through my children.

Family Time


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Saturday, November 24. 2007

Lately it seems that we have not been spending the family time together that we enjoy and need. S's work schedule has been hectic and he hasn't been able to eat many evening meals with us but has been able to join in with some part of the evening and bedtime routine and then work some more after the kids are in bed. Something has been missing. We are lacking that feeling of completeness. The past couple of days, we have been enjoying our family time. Thanksgiving day we enjoyed the day together playing, eating, and hanging out with our family. We missed sharing the day with loved ones many miles away, however we soaked up our family time as we just haven't had much in the past several weeks. The kids have had so many things over the past months that they wanted to share with their Dad. We have had opportunities to go to various museums, the zoo and play together and they have wanted to share that with Daddy. Friday we went to the zoo and that evening Grandpa A came to visit for a few days. This morning the guys took the girls to dance class and then all of us went to a technology museum that the kids have been eagerly waiting to share with Dad. They designed simple circuits, built forts, built and raced cars and enjoyed the many other things at the museum. This evening we watched the broadcast of the local holiday parade with floats covered in lights. As we tucked them in tonight, you could tell they are thriving with all the family activities. They are really enjoying the togetherness. I am hoping that they can hold onto those feelings of peace, contentment and love in the weeks to come when I am sure things will become hectic once more.

















Observations of AJ


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Saturday, November 24. 2007

Some of my recent observations of AJ:

1. He doesn't approach a couch and sit down nicely, instead he runs and dives at it flipping himself up on his head and propping his feet on the wall behind the couch. He then proceeds to do somersaults from one end of the couch to the next.

2. He is fascinated with learning to read and spell......particularly words like hate, fart and ass.

3. He only has one volume at which he talks which is extremely loud and he only has one activity level which is extremely high. He never sits calmly and if he does one needs to consider a doctor appointment or the emergency room as he is likely very ill.

4. He is fascinated with building things with Lego, K'Nex or gears and he would prefer if someone else picked up all the tiny pieces.

5. Instead of getting dressed in the morning, he would prefer running around without a shirt making fart noises under his arm pits.

6. His favorite past time is tormenting his sisters and if he can get both of them crying and then manage to run for the safety of my lap just as they are about to pummel him it is an enormous personal victory.

7. His baby brother adores him and grins ear to ear when they make eye contact.

8. His hair looks best cut really short.

9. He gives the best snuggles on the couch....if you can actually get him to sit beside you instead of standing on his head!

On TV


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Thursday, November 22. 2007

Yesterday, the three older children joined a few other children to represent children in programming at the YMCA for a check presentation for ten thousand dollars from Rainbow Foods and Fox 9 News. After the initial picture with the check, A-girl was done. The kids were excited but when the lights shone in their faces and camera was rolling, they were a bit nervous. AJ said that the light was too bright and made his eyes water and L said she was nervous. They enjoyed their moment of fame on the 5:00 news. Today they were able to watch themselves as our neighbors had captured it for us.





Thanksgiving


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Thursday, November 22. 2007

Today, along with many across the country, I find myself reflecting throughout the day on what I am truly thankful for in my life. Of course there are the obvious ones such as faith, family and friends but its almost too easy to come with a list. I am grateful everyday for my faith, my family, my kids, my health. I realize that there are many things that I am grateful for, yet take so much for granted. The fact I have a warm place to sleep. The fact that I have food on my table several times a day and have a variety of food choices. Sure there is a budget that I need to follow and there are times when it runs a little tight at the end of the month, but I have food to eat and an abundance when you take a closer look. I have a warm house to come home to each and every day. My children have access to an education with many opportunities and options. We have many options and opportunities for career and employment. If I get sick, I have a safe place to go for assistance. A place with up to date medicines and technology. I am free. Free to express my thoughts, ideas and opinions. Free to practice my religion of choice. Free to go where I want to and do what I want to. For many, these things are luxuries that they don't have. I am blessed and I am truly grateful.

Wishing you and yours a wonderful thanksgiving filled with joy, praise, hope, peace and celebration.

Shoes


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Wednesday, November 21. 2007

A-girl has always had a "thing" for shoes. She was loaned a pair of white "fancy clickety clack shoes" as she calls them and wore them proudly last night. This morning she insisted on wearing her "fancy clickety clack shoes" again and I told her she could. I couldn't convince her that the shoes should go on last!

First Recital


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Tuesday, November 20. 2007

This evening marked the first recital of the "piano lesson year" and the first recital for AJ, A-girl and two of our friends who also take lessons from the amazing G. Twenty one children played this evening and it was incredible. It is truly amazing the beautiful music expressed by all the children. Four young musicians have only been taking lessons for less than three months and they got up and played without hesitation. Two of those young pianists were AJ and A-girl and the other two were friends who are 5 and 8. We weren't sure A-girl would get up and play but she was wound tighter than a spring and was excited to get up there. She had told me she wasn't going up without Mommy so I was prepared to go up and her teacher and I were prepared only for her to walk up, sit at the piano and bow. At home she played the entire piece with cues from me this afternoon but she had a bit of a rough time just before dinner (I had had her "rest" this afternoon and she finally fell asleep late afternoon and then woke up an hour later), refused to eat, wanted to be held and wasn't a happy kid. This evening she only went part way through (to the spot they had practiced in her lesson), but she did so proudly and without being shy/frozen with terror which we have seen in other situations. Perhaps it was the bribe of a chocolate kiss but no matter what it was a great joy to see them playing their pieces. It was made even more special by having our great friends A and AJ (whom our AJ idolizes and chose his name from) share the evening with us.















On our way home, we stopped for a special treat at the local custard shoppe. AJ shared his lemon Italian Ice with the baby and by his reaction, I am not sure he enjoyed it as much as his older brother. By spoonful three, he was shoving Aj's hand away!







What's For Breakfast?


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Monday, November 19. 2007

This morning was a bit rough for all of us. S and I got very little sleep as we dealt with Baby L's fever and discomfort. The older three slept in. This all made for a busy morning to make sure that A-girl got to her play date and the rest of us got to the Y. Of course the older two started off on the tangent of how they hate the Y.......although they only seem to hate it when I need to go there for something for only me and they have to go to the Kid's Gym......they love it when it is programming for them. Then of course there was trying to get everybody fed. AJ is in this phase (although it has lasted much too long to consider a phase!) where he requests bizarre or non-real things and then fritters time away as he creates a reality for all his interesting things. At times it is purely frustrating from a parenting stand point but I am sure it is beneficial on some other developmental front. This morning, I asked him what he wanted for breakfast. The following conversation resulted.

AJ: an X
Me: What is an X
AJ: Just an X
Me: anything with it?
AJ: I want a bagel with an X
Me: Buddy, Mom doesn't have a lot of time this morning, so what do you want on your bagel?
AJ: an X
Me: Well how does one put an X on a bagel?
AJ (Quite sarcastically): take a knife and make an X in the top of the bagel

Knowing this was going nowhere except to increase my frustration and blood pressure, I took a bagel, put it on a plate and proceeded to make an X on it and placed it in front of him and told him it was ready.

AJ: But I don't want a plain bagel!! (Whining) You want me to eat this? I want it with something on it!
Me: Well I asked you what you wanted on it and you told me an X. I put the X on it and now I have run out of time to help you. I need to help the others and feed the baby.
AJ: I'm not eating then. You will be late because I am not going to eat. I am not eating this bagel, because it is not what I wanted. You are the meanest Mom!! I want a bagel with cream cheese and jam. Mom!!!!! (in his best whining)

Now I am even more frustrated as somehow in me giving him exactly what he asked for, I have been given the "you're the worst Mommy" award which I tend to receive daily if not more frequently for something and he is escalating into meltdown mode and I am certainly going to be late.

He finally decided to make his own bagel with everything that I had left out for him on the counter. Then just when I thought we were going to be able to move forward in getting out the door, he decides to get dressed in the manner that has become his routine......need to be asked at least 10 times to get dressed, leave your pajamas at any point in the house except for the bedroom, decide that what was laid out for you the night before is not what you will wear and then take everything out of the drawer in search of something other than what was laid out, run through the house torturing your sisters with some toy or article of clothing just to stir them up and keep you from getting dressed, lose the socks laid out for you somewhere in the house as they were used for a soccer ball and no longer visible, dump out all the K'Nex to start your next creation and then throw a huge fit when told to finish getting dressed and ready and if there is time you can play, decide that maybe you weren't finished breakfast yet and go back for more, start to brush your teeth and get distracted, and leave your poor mother frazzled as the above has taken about an hour when if you had of just gotten dressed and ready to go it would have taken less than 10.

Miraculously, I made it to the Y with about 3 minutes to get on the pool deck. Hopefully tomorrow there will be no requests for an letter on a bagel!!

Our dinner table


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Monday, November 19. 2007

Dinner with four kids is often not a pretty site. Its loud. Its chaotic. Its full of excitement and joy as the children want to share things and talk. And then there is the not so pretty side. We rarely have issues now that AJ is not so tactile defensive to food as he was as a baby/toddler but last night we seemed to have our share of nasty moments. Poor baby L wasn't feeling the greatest but wanted to eat and then proceeded to gag on his food and the end result wasn't pretty. Moments later, A-girl was eating a peach slice and instead of taking a small bite decided to put the whole thing in her mouth. Her eyes were huge with panic and it was obvious she was choking. We all briefly stared at her wondering if we should do the Heimlich. She managed to dislodge the piece and moments later announced "All done!" Someday, I will find myself sitting quietly at my dinner table missing all the excitement and chaos. Right now though, I am left hoping for one (just one) less chaotic, less crazy meal where I can actually sit and complete a plateful of food without having to stand up 20 times to get more food, more water, more.......whatever. That being said, one of the top things I am thankful for and will be celebrating this week is being together with my kids/family. I enjoy the buzz of excitement.

BTW


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Monday, November 19. 2007

My five and a half year old son has decided to frequently use the phrase "by the way,......." lately. Initially it was quite funny to hear those words spouting out of his mouth. After a while, the tone took on a sarcastic quality and it wasn't so sweet anymore.

"By the way, did you know my new coat has an inside pocket just like Dad's and if I had a cell phone I could put it in there?!"

"By the way, did you know that your shirt is really dirty?" (The baby had just wiped a dirty food and snot covered face all over my shirt when I went to comfort him and take him out of his high chair and I didn't notice and returned to eating my dinner).

"By the way, did you realize that you didn't give me my vitamins for the day and that I didn't brush my teeth?" (delivered with a very smug sarcastic tone after I had asked him for the tenth time to get dressed and ready to leave because I was going to be late for work)



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