Wordless Wednesday: Indoor Active Play

IMG_5891IMG_5893

I’m a knitter, not a quitter (but seriously, ruining a project is so sad)

I have been working on knitting a ballet sweater for Abbey (5 1/2) to wear at her Friday ballet and tap class at the local dance school. Their class meets in the downstairs room, and it gets very cold down there due to a secondary entryway to the building that is used by another business, and wafts brisk, cold, alaskan winter air into the hall and dance room.

For weeks, Abbey had been complaining about it being cold, but wearing a hoodie or sweatshirt didn’t work out well. So, the question was asked:

Mommy, can you knit me a ballet sweater?

We looked at patterns, picked one out together, and I ordered a nice fingering weight yarn. While I waited for the yarn to arrive, I practiced the pattern to make sure my gauge was good and that I understood the cabling part of the pattern, in order not to make a mistake with the real yarn. And when the real yarn arrived, Abbey and I both squee-ed together at how pretty and soft it was and I set out knitting the sweater for her.

Amywilla.com: I'm a Knitter, not a Quitter

Amywilla.com: I’m a Knitter, not a Quitter

For weeks, I worked on it. Every Friday she would ask if it would be done in time for ballet class, but she continued to wait, while I finished it. And when I finished it, she was so excited! Except, of course, there was something the matter: the sleeves were too tight under the arms. *doh!*

I promised her that I would try to fix it, and I did try, but I failed. Thankfully I had warned her that if I tried to take it apart, it may not work out, and I might not be able to salvage the sweater. I say thankfully I warned her, because of COURSE that is exactly what happened when I tried to take the sleeves apart from the bodice (which fit great!) and fix the size of the cap sleeves.

When I realized that I had ruined the sweater beyond repair, I lost it. Abbey was at school, Joseph was in his room playing, and Hubs had just arrived home from a busy day, and fallen asleep on the sofa. So, thankfully, only Hubs witnessed what I did. I had a major, giant, massive adult fit. I pitched this fit like a pro. I cried. Vehemently. Profusely. I cried like a little girl, and then I screamed like a sailor, and then I bawled like a baby. And then I repeated those things again, with body language added.

Hubs woke up very confused as I flailed about, sobbing and throwing knitting around. I was not very proud of myself at all when it was all over, but I was so distraught over the work and time and beautiful yarn that was lost by my inability to separate the sleeves without unraveling the whole thing beyond salvage. And more, I prayed that I wouldn’t break Abbey’s heart when I told her I had failed and she would have to wait longer for a ballet sweater knitted by mommy.

What I learned

Gauge is SO IMPORTANT in the sleeve area. The slightest tightness in your knitting in sections like the sleeves will make the sleeve too small.

There are different types of sleeves and ways of adding them in knitting. I am currently starting a new attempt at a ballet sweater, with raglan sleeves instead of sewn in cap sleeves. Adding sleeves by knitting raglan can help to ensure that the sleeve openings are large enough and somewhat stretchy.

I’m a knitter, not a quitter. At a certain point in my grief-stricken mommy-fit that I threw when I realized I had ruined the first sweater attempt, I screamed “I will NEVER EVER knit anything EVER again!” Yeah, that’s not true. As soon as I had calmed down, I was googling and messaging knitting friends on Facebook to find out the reason that I had made a mistake and made small sleeve holes, even though I followed the pattern exactly. Hubs was in the middle of reassuring me that it was okay to be upset and a little irrational about my mistake and the loss of Abbey’s sweater- and I was already trying to figure out what had gone wrong and how I could make sure that I could try again with better results.

Behind her strong-willed, intense personality, Abbey is incredibly forgiving and compassionate. Her response to my somber explanation that her sweater had to be thrown out?

“It’s okay mommy. If you want, you can try again, but it’s okay to be sad. You worked really hard on that sweater, and it hurts that its gone”

Amywilla.com: Abbey

Amywilla.com: Abbey

Seriously: what a sweetie. She might be catty at times (okay, a lot of the time.. . . )

but with a compassionate reply like that, I guess I really am doing something right.

Finding Priorities in Changing Environments

Welcome to the January 2014 Carnival of Natural Parenting: The More Things Stay the Same

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have talked about the continuity and constancy in their lives. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

***

IMG_5117As a military family, we are not strangers to change.  Orders change, duty stations change, daddy leaves, daddy comes home. Mommy’s happy; mommy’s overwhelmed. Change is just a part of our lives and we have adapted to it as our family grows.

But this Christmas, 6 months after our big PCS move from Kittery, Maine to Kodiak Island, AK, I noticed just how much an environmental change had impacted our family dynamic, and the truth was startling. It would seem insignificant to someone in the lower 48 states, but we are totally limited to the food, activities, and events that occur ON Kodiak Island, AK.

Family Changes

When we watch TV, we see commercials for places, restaurants, and activities that occur all over that State of Alaska (which is BIG, if you’re not familiar). But unlike Alaskans that live on the Mainland of AK who can reach these different places by land, we say to one another, “well, we can’t even drive there” or “wouldn’t Pizza Hut be yummy? Too bad we’re here on the island.”

IMG_6883

You see, the only ways off of Kodiak Island are a 9 hour + ferry ride, or a plane ride to Anchorage. And plane rides aren’t cheap for a family of four. Through our military base, we can take a Space-A flight on one of the Coast Guard planes to Anchorage for a day trip once a year (or more times, if we put our names on the list and wait for availability) – and we do plan on doing that in the Spring. But it’s a huge change from anywhere else in the United States in that I can’t say “I need to run to target” or “Let’s go to the mall and walk around.” This is so different for us and for our Silly Bears, because driving to the mall to walk around and visit the play place on a rainy day was commonplace, and we enjoyed going to Target and Joann’s Crafts and all the restaurants that just aren’t available here. . . the kids would look forward to earning a special eating-out trip, as long as they didn’t accumulate three strikes for unruly behavior during the week. Their favorites: The Grapes and Chocolate Spagetti Store (Olive Garden) and the good ol’ House of Mouse (Chuck-e-Cheese’s). Neither of which is available here on the island (and if anybody on Kodiak is reading this, wouldn’t a Chuck-e-Cheese franchise here make BANK!? Just saying. . . )

Fitness Frustrations

The most impactful issue facing me regarding this change from mainland life to a secluded, limited island life is the issue of fitness. When we were in Maine, I had gotten into a really solid workout routine at the YMCA in the neighboring city to ours (a 20 minute drive at most) and 5-6 days a week, I would take the kids with me to the Y, and they would enjoy an hour and a half playing in the KidsZone child care center while I worked out, got a shower, and enjoyed some peaceful, mood-boosting exercise, un-hurried and unencumbered.  It was good for ALL of us. Kodiak Island has no YMCA, and no gym with childcare that I know of. I tried taking the kids to the “Parent Room” in the gym on base, but honestly, I hated it. I would’t get a good workout because I was constantly stopping to parent my kids. And by the end of however much time the kids allowed me to have, I was more stressed than before I went to go exercise.

IMG_5126

There’re more things that I tried to do in order to get exercise while mommy-ing my little Silly Bears here on Island. But the time that Abbey is at preschool (and Joe is home with me) is the best time for me to have work/college time, and at night, after the kids go to bed, is just not a productive time for me to exercise. I’m tired, and usually, I’m also facing deadlines for college or writing or sewing for my shop, so I use that night time for those tasks as well. Hiking and jogging outdoors is only feasible during a few months out of the year. Playing in the snow is fun exercise, but it seems like we get more icy rain than snow here (at least this Winter so far).

As a result of moving here and not having access to the community amenities (like the YMCA) that I had at our last mainland duty station, I’ve gained at least 5, if not 10 pounds, and most importantly, my mood and energy level has suffered as a result of not getting the exercise that I was accustomed to.

Changing – To Stay the Same

But it really is true – the more things change, the more they stay the same. Even facing a really frustrating situation and suddenly realizing the issues it was causing for me, I was still the determined, multi-faceted, creative thinking person that I’ve always been, and after telling my husband that I needed to have his support in creating a way for me to get exercise (preferably kid-less at least a couple days per week), I set out to make a plan to get it done. We’re a week into 2014, and I have been exercising consistently 5 days a week for the past 2 weeks. It feels SO GOOD. I missed it SO much. I’ll write more later on the ways I have achieved this.

I really don’t care how many pounds I lose, or the fact that exercising will make my clothes fit better again (of course, that will be nice for my self-esteem!). I care that I FEEL GOOD AGAIN. That’s always been a priority of mine, and it will continue to be.

I thrive on stability in exercise. I’ve definitely realized this as a result of our move here and the environmental change that took our normal “fun activities” out of the house off the table along with my beloved YMCA with a child care area.  I pretended for the first few months that island life wasn’t much different from life in the lower 48, but I’m not pretending anymore. It’s different here, and it’s vital to stay consistent in my priorities and adapt them to my environment in order to make sure that I, mommy, am feeling good.

Have you ever gotten out of a good habit as a result of a change in environment? How did you reconcile your needs and your new environment?

***

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be updated by afternoon January 14 with all the carnival links.)

  • The making of an artist — Some kids take longer than others to come into themselves, so you have to stick with them, as a parent, long after everyone else has given up, writes Douglas at Friendly Encounters.
  • Not Losing Yourself as a First Time Mom — Katie at All Natural Katie continues to stay true to herself after becoming a new mom.
  • Using Continuity to Help Change {Carnival of Natural Parenting} — Meegs from A New Day talks about how she is using continuity in certain areas of her life to help promote change and growth in others.
  • Staying the Same : Security — Life changes all the time with growing children but Mother Goutte realised that there are other ways to ‘stay the same’ and feel secure, maybe a bit too much so!
  • Harmony is What I’m AfterTribal Mama gushes about how constant change is really staying the same and staying the same brings powerful change.
  • A Primal Need For Order and Predictability – And How I Let That Go — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares how she overcame her primal need for order and predictability once her awareness shifted, opening her eyes to the impact this had on her young daughter. Take a short journey with Jennifer and she bares her soul, exposes her weaknesses and celebrates her new outlook and approach to living life, even in the face of total chaos.
  • Breastfeeding Before and After — Breastfeeding has come and gone, but Issa Waters at LoveLiveGrow finds that her relationship with her son is still just the same and just as good.
  • A Real Job — Back in high school That Mama Gretchen had a simple, but worthwhile career aspiration and today she is living her dream … is it what you think?
  • Comfortingsustainablemum never thought she would want things always being the same, but she explains why it is exactly what her family wants and needs.
  • The Other Mums’ and The Great IllusionMarija Smits reflects on the ‘great big magic show of life’ and wonders if it will continue to remain a constant in our lives.
  • Unschooling: Learning doesn’t change when a child turns four — Charlotte at Winegums & Watermelons talks about the pressure of home education when everyone else’s children are starting school.
  • Finding Priorities in Changing Environments — Moving from Maine to a rural Alaskan island for her husband’s military service, Amy at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work found that keeping consistent with her priorities in changing environments can take some work, but is vital to continuous health and happiness.
  • Keeping it “Normal” — Kellie at Our Mindful Life has moved several times in the last two years, while doing her best to keep things stable for her kids.
  • The Evolution Of Our Homeschool Journey — Angela at Earth Mama’s World reflects on her homeschooling journey. Homeschooling is a constant in the life of her family but the way in which they learn has been an evolution.
  • Sneaking in Snuggles: Using Nurturing Touch with Older Children — When Dionna at Code Name: Mama’s son was a toddler and preschooler, he was the most loving, affectionate kiddo ever. But during the course of his 5th year, he drastically reduced how often he showed affection. Dionna shares how she is mindfully nurturing moments of affection with her son.
  • Steady State — Zoie at TouchstoneZ writes a letter to her partner about his constancy through the rough sailing of parenting.
  • A Love You Can Depend On — Over at True Confessions of a Real Mommy, Jennifer has a sweet little poem reminding us where unconditional love really lies, so it can remain a constant for us and our children.
  • Same S#!*, Different Day — Struggling against the medical current can certainly get exhausting, especially as the hunt for answers drags on like it has for Jorje of Momma Jorje.
  • New Year, Still Me — Mommy Bee at Little Green Giraffe writes about how a year of change helped her rediscover something inside herself that had been the same all along.
  • One Little Word for 2014 — Christy at Eco Journey In The Burbs has decided to focus on making things this year, which is what she is loves, as long as she doesn’t kill herself in the process.
  • The Beauty of Using Montessori Principles of Freedom and Consistency — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares the continuity of her teaching, parenting, and grandparenting philosophy using a combination of freedom and consistency.
  • My Husband’s MiniCrunchy Con Mom shares which of her sons looks more like her husband’s baby pictures — and the answer might surprise you!
  • Growth Happens When You Aren’t Looking — Lori at TEACH through Love is treasuring these fleeting moments of her daughter’s early adolescence by embracing the NOW.
  • A New Reality Now – Poem — As Luschka from Diary of a First Child struggles to come to terms with the loss of her mother, she shares a simple poem, at a loss for more words to say.
  • Making a family bedroom — Lauren at Hobo Mama has decided to be intentional about her family’s default cosleeping arrangements and find a way to keep everyone comfortable.
  • New Year, Same Constants — Ana at Panda & Ananaso takes a look at some of the things that will stay the same this year as a myriad of other changes come.
  • I Support You: Breastfeeding and Society — Despite how many strides we’ve taken to promote “breast is best,” Amy at Natural Parents Network talks about how far we still have to go to normalize breastfeeding in our society.

Colds, Christmas, and Christianity: Our December

IMG_4909Wow, this December has been a mad rush of Nutcracker ballet rehearsals, preschool parties and presentations, Christmas shopping, family outings, and all of us trying to overcome the yuck that has poured down upon us from a cold virus Hubs brought home from his specialty Coast Guard school in Virginia earlier in the month.

I mean, really: just call us the ill Willas. At this rate, we’ll still be using 6 boxes of tissues per week and filling humidors with water, salt, and Vicks vapo-pads long after Christmas has passed.

IMG_4935IMG_4908

Oh, yes, Christmas. The most wonderful time of the year. Actually, this year has been pretty low key for us, which is nice, considering Christmas really isn’t about presents or feasts or what Santa’s going to bring. . .

we’re finished with shopping for one another, the kids are appropriately jazzed for Santa’s visit, and in order to keep Christmas about Christ in our household, we have been doing weekly Advent Family Nights, led by a lovely book that my sis-in-law sent us in a care package, and I have included the birth of Jesus in every conversation that we have about Christmas, emphasizing that He is the best gift we could ever get, and I let Abbey tell me why.

IMG_4911Her responses are sometimes adorable

“because I get to color him pink on every picture I want”

“because he is GOD!”

and sometimes miss the mark

“um, because he’s such a cute little baby?”

But amid the fuss of rehearsals, the cloud of sickness, and our seclusion in a small town environment in rural island Alaska, we’re having a pretty great December.

If you and your family are Christian, tell me: How do you keep Christmas about Christ and downplay the commercialism? Do you have specific family traditions for giving, feeding the hungry, or serving others?

My friend and fellow Natural Parents Network author Laura has a wonderful tradition of bringing seasonal joy to families who have babies in the NICU in her town. And this post on The God Article really hits the nail on the head with reminders on avoiding Christmastime excesses that go against what we actually believe as Christ-followers.

ThankFULL Weeks 2 & 3

ThankFULL

Wow – the rest of November really got the best of me! I am finally finishing this post . . . the day after Thanksgiving.

But, really, every day should be a day of giving thanks. So, I’m not late. No. . . totally not. *wink*

Every day, I fill my tank FULL with the blessings that I have! And it makes my outlook so much more free and anticipatory.

These past two weeks, I have been thankful for:

9. My Health

While I’m still trying to lose weight that I gained throughout my two pregnancies, I am thankfully able to cook healthfully for my family, understand how to snack wisely, and keep my weight and overall health at a good point. There are so many in this world that are either underweight or overweight, under-nourished or gluttonous . . . and I am glad that neither I nor any of my family members are in those places. Because no matter how you get there, by choice or by chance, being unhealthy is a giant burden to overcome. So this week, I am so glad and full of thanks for my health and my ability to attain knowledge and skills to keep myself and my family healthy.

10. My Kids’ Development

My kids are so smart and funny and well adjusted, and I am so grateful for that. No, this does not mean that we don’t have disciplinary issues, or tantrums, or bedtime struggles. . . we have all of those in the Willa house. But when I interact with them, I can tell that they are healthy and growing and that their brains are full of curiosity and brightness. When Joe babbles on about helicopters and fire engines and steamrollers and concrete trucks. . . and Abbey – oh, Abbey. That bright little girl keeps me on my toes constantly. From practicing penmanship to making up stories and games, to having a strong curiosity regarding Jesus and his sacrifice for us. . . she keeps me on my toes and I am so grateful for her cheerful (well, sometimes not so cheerful) zest for life and learning!

11. My Embroidery Machine.

Seriously, I can get so crafty with this thing. It brings my creativity to the next level.

12. My friend Melly for teaching me how to knit.

Because knitting is so awesome and productive and satisfying. It mellows me, and I’m glad that Melly took the time to sit by me while I tried and tried and tried again when I was learning!!!!!

13. New Friends

Because wherever you go (or wherever life takes you) you need friends. Real ones.

14. Old Friends

Because friends that you leave behind should never be forgotten!

15. Neonatal Intensive Care Units

Without a NICU, our sweet Abbey might not be here today, and the staff that works in the NICUs of this world are extraordinary people. I hope to be one of them someday!

8. The Internet

For the way that it connects people, especially the way that it opens doors for knowledge, learning, and collaboration.

9. Coupons

Because seriously, a dollar (or even $0.40!) is something saved. Especially when added up.

10. Meal Planning

Because it limits my impulse buys at the grocery store or commissary, and it allows me to make a detailed list and know exactly how much of our grocery budget will be spent!

11. Compassion

Feeling for another and actually doing something about the needs and pains of others is so rewarding. Sometimes, just by looking at another’s struggle and really listening, we can unearth hidden strengths and weaknesses that benefit us and those around us. Compassion is totally cool.

12. Natural Parents Network

What’s not to like about a group of like-minded (and yet totally diverse!) group of parents actively participating in the spread of fact-based, compassionate information to grow healthy families and inspire a commitment (small or large!) to a brighter and more informed generation of families! LOVE.

13. Parent Coaches and Social Workers

Without whom Hubs and I probably would have been lost in the grief and helplessness of having our two-day old sweet firstborn go under for major surgery in 2008. . . and the parent coaches with whom I have crossed paths that have imparted such simple wisdoms to me that, shared with my Hubs, have brought us closer to success in this really really trying parenting gig ;P

14. Charity

I love introducing Abbey and Joe to the idea of doing something for someone out of love for our neighbors, not for any other reason. It was hard for Abbey when we first introduced the idea that there are people that have literally NOTHING in this world. But she cheered up a lot when we explained that everyone in the world has the opportunity to be charitable and help out those in need, no matter what the need might be, and without expecting anything in return but the joy of giving.
15. Hot baths

16. The amount of laundry chores I have. . .

Because that means that we are blessed with enough clothing to wear in all seasons, for all the days of the week. Some people cannot say that (see #14 for what we try to do as a family about that injustice).

17. The dishes in my sink

Because, again, this means that I had the food to prepare for a meal, the utensils and appliances to cook it healthfully, and the plates and cups to serve food and drink to my family for the entire day! How blessed we are to have that!

18. The magic of the Christmas season

Doesn’t need an explanation.

19. The anticipation of the birth of Christ!

Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to you! It’s so thrilling to look forward to celebrating the birth of our amazing savior Jesus Christ!

20. My extended family

Because they care so much about us, and are always thinking of us and caring for us by sending love and prayers, taking phone calls whenever I call, and sending lovely little care packages that just warm my days and encourage me always!

21. Snail Mail

It’s always fun to get a REAL letter.

22. Student Grants and Federal Loans

They allow me to pursue my education, and apparently they boosted my credit as well.

23. My IRA fund, and our monthly contributions to it.

Someone (eghem, Mom?) taught me that you need to start one of these sooner rather than later, and it feels stellar that my retirement account grows every month. It’s one more thing not to worry about!

24. Military life

Because what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

25. Integrity

Because real and honest people are the best.

26. La Leche League

An amazing organization that not only bolstered my family, but now gives me the opportunity to bolster the families of others – through leading La Leche League group meetings and spreading fact-based information and compassionate support for breastfeeding and expectant moms. Whoot!

27. Tradition

Amen.

28. Forgiveness

Amen.

29. Collaboration

Amen. Just thank you Lord for all of these blessings in my life! Some of them seem like challenges at first glance, but I always am drawn to see the good because I know that you have plans for me, and I am blessed to be on the path you have drawn out for me!

What are you thankful for this month?

How was your Thanksgiving Day?

Mamatography Week 44

We have finally started settling into a good, healthy rhythm here in our new home at Coast Guard Base Kodiak in Kodiak, AK. Just in time for winter to blow in!

Abbey Ballet 2013

Abbey has been enjoying preschool Monday through Thursday and dance class on Friday afternoons!

Joe Oct 2013

Joe has been busy doing lots of toddler stuff. . .

throwing birthday parties for Thomas the Train and taking pictures of his toes, to name a couple.

IMG_3736

We have also been busy with crafts. . .

I’m pretty sure I caught Joe red (rem, green) handed in this pic!

IMG_4226

Abbey LOVES the perler beads craft set Grandma sent her on her birthday!

Daddy and I have also been enjoying crafting with her.

IMG_0233

I have been getting crafty myself. . .

now that my college semester is over, I can focus again on my Silly Bear Handmade shop.

Pumpkin Carving 2013

Halloween found us carving pumpkins

IMG_4580

And trick or treating! Abbey was a Pumpkin Fairy

IMG_4578

Joe was Leo from the Little Einsteins.

Though lots of people guessed Harry Potter.

Mya October 2013

The week wouldn’t be complete without capturing some canine portraits. . .

POttery Painting Datesy

And I had to photograph the masterpieces that Hubs and I painted on our date-afternoon to the coffee house and painting’ place.

I cannot WAIT to see them after they are fired, all bright and glossy and beautiful! It was so fun to leave the kids with a sitter and go do something relaxing and creative with my love.

Joe's Apron and Chicken

I also made Joe his own apron for helping in the kitchen this week.

 I’m not sure how much he likes it. . .

. . . but he sure likes homemade chicken fingers and mac and cheese! Who doesn’t?!

That was our week – how was YOURS?!

IMG_3756

That was our August. How was YOURS?

mtbadge2This post is part of the Mamatography 2013 Project with Diary of a First Child and Momma Jorje.

We are taking (at least) a photo a day to keep a record of our year. Join us at any point during the year and start sharing your own daily photos!

Wordless Wednesday

Abbey has been picking me a bouquet of wildflowers from our upstairs neighbors’ garden plot every time we go outside – “before the flowers wilt and drop their seeds for winter!”

IMG_4601

Creating a Positive Relationship with Your Child

Today, I’m posting at Natural Parents Network, and it’s so fitting, as Abbey turned five yesterday, and the tips I’ve written about in this article for NPN have helped us through the last year immensely! Check it out at 5 Tricks to Help Create a Positive Relationship With Your Child

IMG_3658

Natural Parents Network: 5 Tricks to Help Create a Positive Relationship With Your Child

Our daughter has always been spirited and strong-willed, and as we entered her fifth year of life, my philosophy of parenting authentically and gently was met with a very strong punch to the gut. Here are a few things that have been very helpful to me in responding to my growing child in a loving and nurturing way.

Today on Natural Parents Network I’m sharing several ideas that help me connect with Abbey and parent intentionally. Read them and leave your own ideas at 5 Tricks to Help Create a Positive Relationship With Your Child.

Making Pizza Together

The other day for lunch, the Silly Bears really wanted to make pizza.

Lucky for them, mommy has all the ingredients on hand to make dough, and though we didn’t have mozzarella cheese, I figured cheddar would do.

We used the Quick No-Rise Pizza Crust from Kitchen Trials to make our dough. I don’t mind allowing dough to rise (obviously, judging by the amount of bread I make!) but the kiddos wanting pizza that very second drove me to google “no rise pizza dough” and this recipe was great!

IMG_3881

Abbey is getting really good at kneading dough.

IMG_3879

Joe is studying her form.

IMG_3880

Peeeeeeeeze can I do it, Abbey? Peeeeeeeze!?

IMG_3887

“Joe. You can open the cheese. You’re really good at that!”

IMG_3888

Mya helped us clean up the extra cheese pieces. . .

about 12 minutes in the oven . . . And then, VIOLA! Pizza!

IMG_3890

I couldn’t get a picture before the kiddos begged be to cut it up and serve it.

IMG_3885

Abbey even helped clean up. Go, Abbey!

What do you like making with your children?

Another First Day of School

Everybody is talking about and posting pictures of their kids’ first days of school. Most of the chatter I hear amongst my friends is pride and relief – that they made it through another busy summer at home and are now ready to greet back to school time! Some of my friends with children Abbey’s age are musing about the feeling of sending off their little kiddos to Kindergarten for the first time.. .

Abbey was slotted to go to Kindergarten in Maine this fall, but our PCS to Alaska changed things. She missed the age cut off in Alaska for Kindergarten, and while at first I was unhappy about it, because she is really academically ready, I’m starting to realize that I would rather have her be one of the oldest in the class and more comfortable with school and emotionally/behaviorally ready before she enters kindergarten. So this works to her advantage.

All ready for school in the knit dress I sewed her - she picked the fabric out of my stash! She's got a good eye for fashion!

All ready for school in the knit dress I sewed her – she picked the fabric out of my stash! She’s got a good eye for fashion!

She’ll be nearly six when she starts kindergarten next year, but boy, will she be ready to learn everything they will have to teach! She started at her new preschool for 4-5 year-olds this week and LOVED it.

With no apprehension, and a calm, quiet energy, she waltzed right in and put her things away, chatting with the teachers about this and that

. . . and then, as if remembering that she forgot. . . she ran up to jump in my arms for a big hug. “See you guys after school, mommy and Jo Jo!”

Joe was NOT happy leaving his sister at school.

Joe was NOT happy leaving his sister at school.

Joseph was already throwing a giant tearful tantrum, and it went on and off for 30 minutes after we dropped her off. “I want Abbey! Where’s Abbey!?” he cried. “I want school with Abbey!”

We played ran an errand to the grocery store, and played mega blocks and animals and read some books in the quiet house. We made and ate lunch, and then I laid down with him to nurse him for his nap. We fell asleep together, and when I woke up, I made some coffee, retreated to my office area, and got some schoolwork and shopping done without Abbey coming to me every 6 seconds in boredom.

It was nice. But by the time it was time to leave to go get her from school, I definitely was ready to have her back. I’m sure the bittersweet lonesome feeling like something’s missing for a few hours out of the day will go away in time. It did last year when she attended the Child Development Center while I worked on my online classes at home with Joe.

But there’s something about the quiet house and the lessened need for mommy while she’s away. It’s both awesome and lonesome at the same time.

“Don’t put me on your back when we go get Abbey.” said Joe in his little toddler voice when he woke up from his nap. I had worn him in the Ergo when we dropped Abbey off to keep him from running into the classrooms to play with toys. . . and to make handling the tantrum (that I knew was coming) a little easier.

“I done crying. I walk on my own. . . we pick up Abbey. . . I a BIG boy. Okay, mommy?”

Okay, little guy. And he was a big boy when we went to go pick her up. It was amazing how he reconciled his emotions and informed me passionately that he was ready to get get her from school, but that he wasn’t sad anymore.

What a big girl she is becoming. And what a big little boy Joe is lately! I look at them and I have to struggle to remember Joe being tiny. . . Abbey – well, I can’t believe she was a ever a baby (but of course, I know she was)! Sweet Abbey, may all your school days be as effortless and joyful as this one was. And Joseph, my little man, may you grow into a little school-bug yourself someday . . . Mommy loves you both!

If you send your children to mainstream school, how do you feel on their first days? Tell me below!

Even if your kids aren’t in school, how do you feel when your child goes off to an enrichment activity, or to play with a friend? Proud? Relieved? A little lonesome? Chat with me in the comments!