Monday, January 28, 2013

Birthday Crown

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My youngest turned 2 a few weeks ago. We were traveling to Hawaii so an Aloha crown was in order :)

To my Nolly: A poem written about his 2 years
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Awakening to the light of the sun, my dear boy,
You have traveled this world two full times around the great big sun.
Your passion, your warmth, your caring heart, your ability to make all fun.
Your mama's heart full with each smile on your face,
For your arms growing bigger each day to close your embrace.
Grateful my life is, blessed each day,
Thank you Nolan for sharing your life with us in your own special way. 

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The sun set on your magical day.
Two years completed with it's last shining ray.
A kiss on the head, 
Good night sweet boy as we lay you to bed.
For we welcome your next year with love so true,
For you are our blessing,
Your brother and you.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Painting Day

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Nolan joined us today in "fancy" paint day. That's Hudson's word for our Stokmar paints. I think I might have scared him for life when I talk about how "important" these paints are and why we use them very carefully.

I was worried about Nolan using them because they are such bold colors. We usually stick to the Melissa and Doug paints that will wash out of anything. So I held my breath and hoped that he didn't start flinging his paint brush and ruin our white curtains that are right across from him.

He did magnificently. I was surprised by his ability to concentrate on painting. What fun!

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Feeling very pleased with his work!
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Love the rich colors!
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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Media Free

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There's been a lot of talk regarding media and children. I recently accepted an invitation to be a part of a group that is media free or wants to be media free with their children. We've been child media free for 4 1/2 years. Yes, that means that both my kids are media free. Disclaimer: my older son has witnessed an episode or two of Caillou. We "tried" it out and I could not handle watching his body fall limp during television watching. He was also not very interested.

So why did I "test" the waters?
Mostly from feeling a little peer pressure. I was starting to wonder if it was "ok" for him to dabble in a little bit of "netflix" watching here and there. It really didn't seem necessary for him. I really felt like I was forcing it and therefore that was that.

You might ask, my child already watches TV, we can't go back.
When Hudson turned 3 he was given his first TinTin book. I thought it was cute (not knowing the stories) because his daddy also loved TinTin. As the stories unfolded I couldn't believe what was being read to him, and worse than that was the imagery that he was looking at. He had no idea on how to decipher or process these images. We didn't change it. He continued to read them for over a year. We kept saying "well, he doesn't watch TV so these are just excitement for him." Then one day, I had just had it. I said "this is not appropriate" and I took the role as parent. I explained to Hudson that, unfortunately, those books are for much older kids and that he can't look at them until he gets older. There was a fight! "But mom, they are my favorite!" And they were. But I couldn't allow him to continue down this path. Months have passed and there is no reference to the TinTin books.
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I talk to a lot of people who wonder how we do it. It's funny because it doesn't seem that hard because it's a non issue. TV never comes into my mind when things are either going crazy or when I am needing some down time. The best thing I can recommend to people when they are either question whether to cut back on media or to choose to not do media at all, is to have a plan.

We have a weekly rhythm that we hold quite sacred. This then doesn't allow for much time to think about needing an outlet like media to step in.
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Our weekly rhythm is as so:
- Hudson goes to preschool Monday, Wednesday, Friday. During that time is strictly focused on Nolan. Nature walks, coloring, baking, painting, etc.

-When Hudson is not in school, here is the rhythm:
1) Monday: Cleaning day
2) Tuesday: Baking Day
3) Wednesday: Painting Day
4) Thursday: Building Day
5) Friday: Free play day

The other things the kids do is play doctor to their animals. They take their temperatures, give them love, carry them on their backs or tummies if the animals are not feeling well, and then tuck them in to night night.
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Hudson knows what each day brings and he actually looks forward to them. Kids use their parents and their homes as a place to feel safe and I feel that they find safety in Rhythm. Feeling like there is order in their world. We will also do other things during these days. We do massive amounts of coloring, painting, nature walks, puzzle making and truck playing. Those are just the things that always happen on those days.
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What about when I need down time? 
Yes, it's not easy to raise two small children all day every day. There are times that I need an escape. Some times that I want to come and catch up on emails, scroll through Facebook, etc. I simply set my children up with an activity and tell them that I am going to go on the computer for a few minutes. They understand that I need down time and for the most part they are very respectful of that. They are not constantly at my feet when I disengage from them for a bit.

I feel that not having television or video games has really helped them be able to focus on doing this without constant stimulation. They are able to find ways to battle their boredom and some times I will see them just gaze outside with their thoughts.

There have been many studies done on how television effects the brain and that is is not recommended for young children. I firmly agree with this. There will be a time when it's right for them to sit and watch a show or two. When they can understand it more and decipher the images that are being implanted into their brains. I know that time will come. We will sit together and decide when that time is right. People frequently ask me when I will let them watch television? The answer is: when they are ready.

This need for media free is not just falling on our children. I too have seen the effects of television and media in my own life. We are living in a society addicted to technology. We are always connected and further disconnecting to our true lives. We strive for having the latest gadgets and toys that are supposed to make us faster, more connected humans, but in turn, I feel, we are becoming a less engaged society. I have been challenging myself to also cut back on media. To start engaging in more meaningful relationships. To work on my inner soul and self and to develop a better knowledge of this world that we live in. Not the fast, busy world that I don't mesh well with, but this beautiful world that is ours. The one I see with my eyes and the eternal beauty of what lies in the world. 

So try it if you think it necessary. Pull out some board games with your child and see just how fulfilling that can be. It's the most delightful thing to hear them talk to you about the game, to show that inner competitiveness, and just the pure bonding of it all. It's beautiful.
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Yet another disclaimer: I am no expert. but I have living proof of a media free home.

Friday, January 18, 2013

this moment

. . . . . . . . . . 
{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.
. . . . . . . . . . 

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Monday, January 14, 2013

The Witching Hour

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(excuse the super blurry photo. I was trying to be discreet!)
Everyone knows the 5pm witching hour. 

In our house it's: dinner prep and waiting for daddy to come home. An hour that sometimes fills with lots of excitement, which leads to loud boys, and ultimately someone crying and whining. 

In order to keep my sanity at this time, I started the "hour quiet time" 

Here's how it goes. 

For the hour of 5-6pm you can either help me in the kitchen to prepare dinner, you can grab a few books and sit on the sofa, or you can color in your sketch books. No coloring books, just sketch books. 

I lit two candles to welcome them to the table. Just the two of them. I dimmed the lights in the entire house and even only used the sink and stove light in the kitchen. THEY LOVED THIS! 

With their sketch books, I asked them to draw their day. What happened in their day that made them feel good. Nolan of coursed drew tons of squiggles lines and then said "Hippo!" I guess he saw a hippo today. Hudson drew a tree with snowy mountains. He is very excited about the snow. We talked about their drawings and at times they would ask me to help them. Hudson wanted to draw a bike, so I drew a bike.. the story then continued. 

This was such a beautiful way for us to connect in harmony with one another. A special time for the three of us to come together. Breathe. And talk. 

At 6pm, we put away the coloring books and the boys were asked to set the table. Napkins folded, silverware placed and then I added two more candles. This was to welcome the four of us together. I told them that I was putting the candles in a circle to show that dinner has brought us all together, that our circle was complete with the arrival of daddy.