Friday Fun Flick: Tapping in Mommy's Shoes

3.31.2011

I'm not sure what inspired me to take my tap shoes out, but for some reason this week, I had the strange desire to see if I could remember any of my tap routines.  You see, I don't have many skills or talents.  I'm not athletic or artistic.  I'm not good at singing or playing a musical instrument.  I'm also not particularly flexible (alright so maybe that's just too much information). What I'm saying is that during my childhood, adolescence, and even adulthood, I tried a lot of different sports and hobbies, but the only one that I truly loved, and still love today, is tap dancing.  I started at age five, took lessons until I was sixteen, and then I went back to taking lessons in college until I was thirty.  Oh, I'm not a flashy dancer that can gracefully hop around clicking my heels, but I can do a mad shuffle hop step hop step.  (Drawbacks are my specialty.)

Well, to my surprise, I actually do remember several of my old routines from five years ago.  (My last dance recital was in 2006.)  From time to time, Little Lewie has seen me tap dance and liked it, but this time, he LOVED it.  He kept following me around the kitchen, stomping his feet again and again.  Finally, I suggested he try on Mommy's tap shoes.  Well, this just made his day.  Of course, I didn't capture him early on when he was full of energy, but I did manage to get this video clip before he decided to take my shoes off.  (I may just need to buy him his own tap shoes one of these days...)


video

Kissed by the Bluebird of Happiness

3.30.2011

When I was about eight years-old, my mom bought me a bluebird of happiness that graced my windowsill.  We saw it together at a card store, and when she purchased it, she said she wanted it to be a reminder that if she could have one wish, it would be that my life was a happy one. 


Well, almost twenty five years later, I've passed down the bluebird of happiness to my son.  It now graces his windowsill, and everytime I lift the shade, I take the bluebird out, and he swoops down to Little Lewie (yeah, I have a pretty good imagination) and kisses him.  Little Lewie, of course, loves and expects this daily routine.  He always cringes a little when the bird first "kisses" him because the glass is cold from sitting in the window overnight.  Still, I want it to be a reminder that, like my mom, I want all the happiness in the world for him.  No matter what challenges a day brings, I want him to know that happiness is just around the corner (or in this case, sitting in his windowsill) to be reclaimed.  For now, my one goal everyday is to make sure Little Lewie's mornings and days are happy ones that begin with the promise of a special morning kiss.

Friday Fun Flick: Mr. Manners

3.25.2011

My little boy may not always behave appropriately (i.e. terrible two tantrums or before nap meltdowns), but one thing you can't call him is rude.  My little boy is Mr. Polite.  In our household, we're always saying please and thank you.  In fact, if you never saw our messy house but only heard the words that came from inside, you could possible mistake my husband and I for Ward and June Cleaver.  (If you don't know who these TV characters are, then don't worry, it just means I'm an old fossil.)

I love the following video clip because it's just an example of his "peas and tanks" (translation--please and thanks.)  We had good friends of ours come over with their little boy who's about five months older than Lewie.  The two of them placed nicely together with our Fisher Price doorway and actually shared one of the plastic "letters" by handing it back and forth through the doorway.  Lewie's little friend would announce, "Special Delivery," and Lewie would respond, "Tanks."

The best part, I think, is listening to us parents in the background.  Our entire conversation is centered around our little guys, and we keep coaching our kids to be "polite."  At the end, you can hear my husband say repeatedly, "Good job buddy," in praise of the fact that Little Lewie is sharing his toys.

video

I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend.  To close, I've decided to share a song that was taught to us during our library reading hour.  It's sung to the melody of Frere Jacques or  Are you Sleeping?

                             "Please and thank you, Please and thank you
                              Sound so nice, sound so nice.
                              Manners are important, manners are important.
                              Be polite.  Be polite."

Yes, sometimes I have to sing this song in my head when I'm not getting along with a coworker.  It's interesting how these early lessons we learn at say, age two, need to be reminders when we get older...

Monday's Mommy Moment: Finding Creativity in Silence

3.21.2011

Our house is noisy.  It's not because there are a lot of people--there's just my husband, Little Lewie, and me.  Our house is noisy because we're always busy "doing."  In the morning, we watch the weather and some news followed by Little Lewie's cartoons.  In the afternoon, if I'm not at work, I'm usually vacuuming, doing laundry, washing dishes, or doing some sort of other activity that provides a background noise.  Oh yeah, and there's more TV. 

Finally, in the evening, there's even more TV.  (When my husband returns from work, I can always guarantee he will request control of the throne, the recliner, and oh yes, the remote.) Consequently, the TV doesn't go off until well after Little Lewie is in bed either.   If Little Lewie isn't listening to the TV, music, or my household chore activities, then he is used to hearing Mommy and Daddy talk on their cell phones. 

Yes, while we are busy "doing", we are 1) training our little guy to feel like there always needs to be some sort of background noise, and 2) missing out on what's being said or taking place behind the laughter, shrills, screams, and blabber on TV.

This weekend, whenever possible, I decided to shut the TV off.  I didn't talk on my cell phone, and I put down the laundry and other chores.  Yes, instead,  Little Lewie and I went for walks where we could hear the sounds of birds, geese, and even peepers (we had one incredibly warm day).  And, when we were at home, we played "in silence." 

At one point, I realized my little guy wasn't interested in playing with me anymore, and he had created his own little storyline.  He became so involved in his play that he even let me film him without once paying attention to me.  It was at this moment that I realized what I've been missing.  He was talking, making sound effects, and creating his own little pretend world.  I know kids do this all the time, but I've been missing it.  In the confusion of our loud, perpetually busy household, I've been missing my little boy's play--the secret, inner workings of his mind--the beauty of his thoughts, imagination, and creativity.  Below is some of his play I was able to capture on video. 


video


For months now, I've been reading mom blogs that have made it their personal mission to turn off the TV.  While I won't be able to get my husband to subcribe to this philosophy anytime soon, I will however, do my best to create "quiet" times in our house or outside where Little Lewie can listen to nothing else but his own thoughts (and maybe a bird or two in the background.)

The Open House Crashers

3.15.2011

For the past few weeks, my mom has semi-seriously started to look at new house listings.  My husband and I are not quite sure why since we love our home, but she's definitely on a kick to see what's out there.   For almost five full years now, my husband and I have been living on one side of our duplex house, and my mom lives on the other.  I have lived in this home since I was three (I can't believe Little Lewie is only a few months away from this age), and while I lived on one side with my mom, my grandparents had lived on the other side--the side that we now inhabit.  Of course, I didn't always live here--I moved away to college and grad school, but I did return home when I was 24.  (I'm now um...okay I know I announced this in a previous post--35.)

Okay, so it's safe to say that I've lived here for a few decades, and to be honest, not much has changed.  Our house is still green, our yard is still the same (with the exception of a few flower gardens I've started) and the rooms are still the same (other than different carpeting and color wall paint).  It's a place that gives me security, and yet, I know my mom's right when she says it's a little too small.  Since both our kitchen and living room are small (we have no dining room, den, or family room), we have gotten used to entertaining only two adult guests at a time, and usually we have them eat in the living room, since again, our kitchen is quite tiny and crowded.

So, I'll have to admit, my mom has now gotten me a little more excited about looking at new homes too.  We started doing drivebyes a few weeks ago, and this Sunday, we had the pleasure to discover that one of the homes we wanted to see was holding an open house.  Score!!
The only problem is that this house was a little bit out of our price range.  Okay, it was a lot out of our price range.  It was a $700,000 home marked down to an affordable $599,000.  (If we sold our current home, we'd still have an over $300,000 mortgage--a mortgage that we simply couldn't swing with property taxes, etc.--no way!)  Still, we looked at it, and since I've always had expensive taste, I fell in love with it.  The house had a balcony that overlooked the family room.  The family room had a fireplace with vaulted ceilings, and there was a four season sun room attached to the family room that went out onto a Club Med type deck.  Oh yes, the kitchen was spacious with granite counter tops, and the laundry room (no kidding) was the size of our current kitchen.  (Right now, we have the pleasure of being able to sit on the toilet and take clothes out of the dryer at the same time--too much information, right?)

So, because I loved this house so much, I overstayed my welcome. Little Lewie came on the tour with us, and as soon as he saw the swing set in the backyard, I knew we'd just have to stay a little while longer. Oh, it was so much fun playing on the swing set and pretending like we owned the house. For a minute there, I could envision us enjoying the yard on a warm summer day and having tons of people over to enjoy the deck, the stone patio, the four season sun room, and the gardens.

Oh, we didn't get yelled at, but I'm sure it seemed like we may have gotten a little too comfortable on the property. So, for one day, we became open house crashers instead of wedding crashers (although that sounds like fun too). It was so much fun pretending to live the high life, and yes, I could tell that Little Lewie loved this house, too. Why wouldn't he? He'd only have two huge playrooms to enjoy instead of our living room that he has to share with us filled with his playthings.

I'm sure we may look at a house or two again in the next few weeks, only this time I told my mother that we needed to stick within our price range...maybe.    

Proper Pronunciation? Bla, Bla, Bla...

3.09.2011

As you can imagine, my 2 year-old mispronounces quite a few words.  TV is pronounced TT, my friend Sue's name is pronounced SHU, bottle is pronounced BABA, moon is pronounced MOO, cat is pronounced COT, mouse is pronounced MAO, etc. etc.  I can go on all day about my little boy's various pronunciations.  In some cases, he doesn't use the ending consonant so ding dong sounds more like DEE DAW.  In other cases, he doesn't use the beginning vowel so Irene becomes RE. 

There's no exact science to how he chooses to pronounce words.  The only constant in all of this is that his words and mispronunciation of them are well, cute.  When he yells, Mummy TT (translation: Mom turn on the TV) or Daddy shoon (translation: Will daddy be home soon? I sure hope so...) my heart melts inside.  His little voice and the innocence of his words turn me into mush.  This is not much of a problem, except I think his words are so cute that I reinforce them and use them myself.  Everyday I catch myself saying...

"Would you like mommy to turn on the TT?" 
"Would you like your baba?"
"Do you want to say hi to Shu?" 

I know in my heart of hearts that I should be correcting him.  I should be reinforcing that a TT is a TV, a baba is a bottle, and Shu should be pronounced Sue.  Otherwise, I'm helping him form bad habits, and gulp, I may end up catching myself using these bad habits in front of my boss or the college President who has her Ph.D. in French literature and foreign language.  How could a linguistic scholar, without children, possibly understand my reasoning for massacring the English language and sounding like a complete bafoon, especially when I'm supposed to be teaching English grammar and writing?

So, even today, I'm still not correcting him.  Oh, I know I should, but I think the mental block is this...if I correct him, he will learn to say it right, and then I won't ever have the pleasure of hearing his little voice say these words again (did I say they are soooo cute?  Yeah, right.  I know I already mentioned this.)

Do you catch yourself using baby words instead of grown-up words?  Do you think children 's mispronunciations need to be corrected right away?

Tot School Beginnings

3.06.2011

My friend Liz from her blog, From Chalkboards to Strollers, started posting about Tot School.  Her activities are amazing, and since I've been feeling like I'm in a rut lately of not spending enough time with my little guy, I've decided to join the fun.

Tot School is not a school but a concept.  The goal is to set aside special time each day with my tot (Little Lewie), so that I'm exposing him to "early learning skills through FUN play."  The main rule is "Tot School is not forced, is always fun, and always focused on my tot," which means I don't worry if my project doesn't go as planned.

Tot School

The Tot School link is posted on Saturday, but moms can link up anytime during the week to show the different activities they've done with their toddlers.  So far, the ideas I've seen are so creative--they've inspired me to get out of my work and errand rut and start actively participating in learning activities with my little guy again...

Here goes one of the activities we did this week...

I decided to let my little guy have fun playing with uncooked rice and noodles. While I need to invest in some trays so that there isn't a messy clean up...we still had fun.  First, Lewie had fun scooping rice into various containers and letting it 'sprinkle' all over. 

When I gave him the noodles, it suddlenly occured to me that we could make a 'noodle necklace.'  I found some coarse string/twine, and I tied one end to our kitchen chair (this kept the noodles from falling off one end.)  While Little Lewie still couldn't 'thread' the string into the noodles, he certainly had fun moving the noodles up and down the string.  As each noodle was threaded, we'd have the noodle glide down the string.  (It reminded me of a zip line.)  Lewie had fun with this, and all in all, it was a great sensory experience.

Having fun with rice and fun containers.

"Hmmm...this feels different!"

Twine for our 'noodle necklace.'

'Let's watch the noodles go down the zip line!'

'This is pretty fun!'
Okay, so my goal is to start coming up with different themes each week, so we can combine play with actual learning lessons, but I'll get there. In the meantime, we did enjoy this activity, and I plan on doing more and linking up each week, so I can both share ideas and get inspired from other moms.

I hope everyone is enjoying their weekend!

Waiting to Exhale

3.03.2011

Yes, some days I feel so overwhelmed by work, mommy responsibilities, wife responsibilities, family responsibilities, friend responsibilities, and household responsibilities that I wonder if I'm remembering to breathe.  Juggling my new job with all my commitments at home has not been as easy as a transition as I thought.  There is definitely less time to accomplish errands during the week, so just like when I was working full-time before Little Lewie, I find that I have to use the weekends to clean the house, go grocery shopping, and get our laundry and clothes ready for the week. 

Even though we did something special for Valentine's Day, it feels like it's been forever since my husband and I went out on an actual date, and even though I am at home with Little Lewie on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and half day Fridays (including weekends), I feel like it's been forever since we sat down and planned a fun playtime activity.  Instead, poor Little Lewie is involved in a rambling cyclone of activity (anything from going to the mall, food shopping, cooking, TV, laundry, and spontaneous play, which has no exact rhyme of reason).  Since I am a person who thrives on schedules, it bugs me that I'm not able to find spare time during the week to schedule some fun and interesting playtime with Little Lewie and to plan out a schedule that he can get used to and anticipate.

Finally, my work time has definitely taken away time for me--my blog time, my girlfriend time, my long walks, and my exercise time.  Every night I find myself trying to pick up the computer only to slump back down on the couch in sheer exhaustion.  (The same thing happens in the mornings when I want to try and wake-up to do my exercise routine before Little Lewie awakes...)

Right now I feel like I'm on a race to nowhere.  I work, I do errands, I play with Little Lewie, I comfort my husband, I cook, I clean, I try to remember birthdays, holidays, and special occasions, and by the end of the week, it all feels as if if were one big blur with no exact start or end.  I ask myself, "What did I accomplish?" and in the silence the only answer I hear my inner voice tell me is "Life."  I accomplished life.  But what if I want to accomplish more than life?  What if I want to have gone on this amazing trip, or had this amazing play date set up for Little Lewie, or this amazing date with my husband?  What if I could live each day and feel as if I'm savoring every moment of just being instead of watching the seconds tick by with a checklist of stuff to do in my hand?

Okay, so now I keep telling myself..."breathe"..."breathe deeper."  All the great exercises...yoga, Pilate's, running...it all focuses on breath..controlled breath...planned breath...awareness of breath.  These days are slipping away from me, and I feel like I need to get them back.  I can't, but I guess I can start by reclaiming today.  Today I'm going to breathe....I mean really breathe....I'm not placing a checklist in my hand, and while I don't have a spectacular activity planned, I'll make today count.  Yes, today, I'm going to be aware and make the day count...

Thanks for listening to my ramblings...Do you ever have days, weeks, months, where you look back and think, what did I do?  What did I accomplish?  (The perfectionist, Type A personality in me is always asking this question and often not satisfied with the answer.  Today I'm going to ignore Ms. Perfectionist and capture memories, unplanned memories, with my two year old.)