Money makes you crazy

Welcom too are Shop of food and clour

The girls have become financial tycoons. 

Every single day they and their gaggle of friends come up with some way to try to get money out of us.  It's mostly been shops, though this weekend it was a combo of dance performance and concession stand.  Not too surprising when you consider what we do for a living, I suppose.  And their performances are always top notch, complete with twirling, banging on a keyboard, curtsies and yes, even blown kisses to the applauding crowd (read, Me and the Mister).  The concession stand, while adorable, does make me grumble a bit.  See, I've already paid for the cheese and crackers for which you're attempting to collect, kid. 

Mark, who is clearly the much nicer parent of us two, went and found some coins and dropped them into Lily's eager hand.  This lead to Anya throwing a wee fit at Lily about the fact that nobody ever gives her money.  So Lily divided the coins and paid her performer off.  Anya, seeing the effectiveness of such a fit, repeated it to her father who also paid her. 

I'll give you one guess as to the result.

It took all of thirty seconds for both girls to be yelling at each other about their money and another thirty seconds before the kicking started.  

Money makes you crazy, indeed.

When it was pointed out to Lily that she never actually spends her money, her impassioned reply was, "But I like just having it!"  Me too, kid.  It does make me feel safe to know there are piles of coins in a special place, just in case.  But at five and seven, I'm afraid of what this means.

How do we teach kids about the value of money without teaching them to overvalue money, to the point they end up kicking their sister and collapsing into tears?  Does rational thought come with age?  Considering the State of the Stock Market, that doesn't seem a safe bet.

How do you or would you handle financial education?  I'm in desperate need for some tips, yo.

Good Morning Messages

A while back I started writing "Good Morning" messages to my kids on the white board they keep in their room.  I had been writing them notes on paper, but they just contributed to the mess that is their room (and I hate using up a resource if I don't have to).  So the white board was the solution.  Very quickly, Lily started requesting that I write and so it became a nightly routine.

Yes  Lily. A note *wood* be lovly.

I can't tell you how useful these have been.  With these notes I can get them thinking about what they might like to have in their lunches for school (an issue that was greatly stalling our morning routine):

Good Morning Message for 9/28/10

I can tell them what to expect from the day, which cuts down on some of the anxiety they often feel when they don't know what comes next:

Good Morning Message: 9/30/2010

I can threaten them not to wake us up too early on the weekend:

Good Morning Message: 10/02/10

OR I can address a wildly funny thing that happened without giggling, since, to my kid, it's not so wildly funny:

GMM: 10/4/10

I've even started collecting these in a flickr set which serves as a mini journal for our lives.  Helpful, considering I don't seem to have the time or energy to write this one anymore.

Curious as to if other parents have a similar habit?

The seven switch

Miss Lil
Lily, age 7, at a birthday pool party for a friend

Something has changed with Lily.  On her birthday we went to The Children's Museum and she was talking to everyone, telling them she was now seven, telling them about her day, telling them whatever thought happened to come into her head.  She was approaching random strangers at the book loft and Starbucks later in the day to tell them about all she'd done for her birthday and to elicit a "Happy Birthday", smiling big and open at them when they complied.  By bedtime she was telling me how she felt older.  She told me she wasn't afraid to talk to people and was super comfortable the whole day and was just really happy with her confidence.  And it hasn't really stopped.  It's like turning seven flipped a magic switch in her head and she's no longer so shy or emotional.  I don't know if it'll continue, but for now, I'm enjoying seeing the smile on her face and the confidence in her voice.  More than that even, I'm in love with the pride she feels in her own progress and that she sees the world with a few less fears now.

I've been thinking about how fortunate I feel with Lily's placement in the multi-age, dual teacher class last year.  While I believe she would have thrived in the smaller, more intimate setting of the first-graders-only class, I have a feeling that teachers nurturing style and the small class size would have allowed her to stay in her shell.  I don't know, of course, but it's something I suspect.  While 40 kids was overwhelming to me, Lily never got lost in her class; not with multiple teachers to keep a hand on her and their commitment to addressing each child's individual needs.  That dynamic, coupled with the age variations, allowed her to feel safe, comforted, cared for and... free to step forward and explore who she is.  She grew SO much this year and is, in many ways, a very different kid.  One that is more confident and, I think, more happy.

She still has her moments of intense introspection and emotion, but I see this summer as an opportunity for her to step into her own.  And honestly, I cannot wait for Fall and for her to return to school.  Anything that makes my child feel so deeply part of the world... well, it's something I can't help but cherish.

7 days: 3 - first day of summer?

7 days: 3 - first day of summer?

So what did you do for your first day of summer?  We went to school.  My big kid has always had a bit of a rough go at transitions.  So, we decided for her first day off from school we'd go to school and help clean up the classroom.  She got to see her teachers for a couple hours, we got to fulfill some of our volunteer hours (the school is a co-op) and we got to help out with the monumental task of cleaning up a year of crazy kids.  I was going through the book bins to put things back where they belong while Lily was washing down tables and chairs.  Anya was mostly reading books, but earlier she had gone through about half of the marker bin to test each pen and see which could stay and which had to go to the marker graveyard (aka trash).  It was a lovely couple hours.  

sometimes loss leads you to love

A couple days ago Lily went to collect our ever growing bounty of eggs from the hen house and forgot to close the laying box door.  Her hands were full and I think she probably told herself she'd come back for it, but she didn't.  Sometime between then and the next morning, most of our newly laying hens decided to take a walk.  Seven of them were discovered by coyotes. 

When I delivered this news to Lily she was in the midst of packing for the end of the year beach trip her class would take that day.  She made a sad face, asked a few questions and then got back to the task at hand.  My child, who usually reacts to all things in a deeply emotional way, showed very little emotion, pushing it off immediately.  This concerned me.  I couldn't quite figure out if she didn't fully understand her role in this or if she took all that emotion and stuffed it.  After all, she doesn't handle transitions well and it's the end of the school year.  It's possible she's simply sticking this incident aside and that emotion will find it's way out later. 

Talking to her teachers (who so often double as child psychologists) Mr. V suggested that once school is over he & Ms. K should come for a home visit and talk with Lily about what happened.  Maybe, he thought, with the school transition under her belt and with someone not invested in the event Lily could talk about how this whole thing is making her feel.  And if she can talk to him about it, maybe she can process it in a healthy way.

Do you see why we love this school so much?

Today was the last day and Lily came home with a pile of stuff, workbooks and project folders, art and love notes from classmates.  Also, a class CD including liner notes, each track selected by her fellow students.  At the end are songs from her teachers, the last from a sub who filled in when Ms. K had a baby.  It's a song Mrs. L wrote and her daughter (who heads to High School in the fall) performed.  Listening to it, I found myself suddenly sobbing with the understanding of how deeply my kid is loved.  She has such amazing support all around her; the team of teachers that shepherded her through her school year are some of the more brilliant souls I've ever met.  At the beginning of the year I remember them telling the kids every day that they loved them and the cynical part of me said, "Pfft.  Love them?  They don't even know them."  But now?  Now I know.  Now I know what love really means here. Now I can see what a positive school culture, a social emotional curriculum and the love of some wonderful teachers can really mean.

There's been some major upset at this school lately, with almost half the teaching staff moving on to other opportunities and (the most difficult of it all) two teacher whose contracts were not renewed. It has divided the parents, made many consider leaving the school, and made the end of the year more emotional than anyone could expect.   And yet, I look at the year my child had and the love that has been offered her (and Anya, who was around enough to get her own dose of affection) and I can't help feeling like we're in the right place. Especially in moments of such clarity as I had this week though the kind offering of time from one teacher and song from another. 

We are so damn lucky.

My Favorite Thing

Lily's project on Sign Language

Lily's last class project was part of what they call "Passion Project Night" where each student picks something they are passionate about and puts together a whole display on that subject.  Lily's project was about sign language, a subject she became very interested in it after her classmates mom started teaching it to the class on a regular basis.  With help from her teacher she signed each letter of the alphabet, photographed her hand making the sign and posted it above her display board in an alphabet strip.  She also wrote a poem and created a Weekly Reader style magazine.

 But the really cool part was what a bunch of kids from her class got together to do.  The learned to sign all of "My Favorite Things" from The Sound of Music.  It's so deeply awesome, I can hardly stand it.  Wanna see?  Of course you do.  Enjoy:

If the video is no longer working, it's because a certain company has decided it's copyright infringement.  Yep.  Seriously.

Life doesn't allow time for blogging

Now that we're back from vacation I've had zero time to upload photos or write more about the trip. Lame.  But it was great and we came home tired (rather than rested) and some of us with illness.  In fact, Lily threw up the whole flight home.  It was awesome, except for that it wasn't.  I'm just getting over a pretty wicked head cold and getting back into the rhythm of working and gardening and taking care of what needs caring.  In fact, right now I've been requested in the kitchen for a child that has already had breakfast but is still hungry and will surely perish in mere moments.  So, on that note I leave you with the following conversation, between Lily & the Mister, from dinner last night:

Lily: Hey, stop that.

The Mister: Who are you talking to?

Lily: My peas.

The Mister: Why are you talking to your peas?

Lily: They keep rolling into the sauce and glaring at me

stinky escape artists

Tonight, while at work, I got a lovely little text from the Mister that read:

I just pulled Lily's tooth out.

If only it were Christmas we could sing the classic, "All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth" (sorry, but I couldn't help link to the Chipmunks version, though I'll admit I did not sit through their entire performance).  The one on her right is coming in and promises to be bigger than her head.  I'm a little afraid for what she'll look like once they both fight their way into view, each trying to out-do the other with their sheer magnificence.  Being (almost) seven is terribly awkward, I fear. 

But she is beautiful and no amount of rabbit features would ever take away from that.

And her jog-a-thon is coming up again this year.  Do you all remember last year?  We all thought she would plod around the track a couple times, visibly wilt under the strain and then drop to the ground in a spectacular fit, claiming she couldn't go on another second and why did we hate her!  Instead she ran 37 laps and was so awesome I wanted to make 50 more of her to distribute all over the world, just so everyone could understand the brilliance that is Lily.  I'm curious as to what she'll do this year.  Also, accepting donations this year with the warning that you should simply pledge a flat fee rather than by-the-lap. Unless you enjoy living dangerously, in which case, $5 a lap will BLOW YOUR MIND.

In chicken news, the latest batch of babies (see below) are growing nicely.  They are, by far, the stinkiest chickens I have every smelled, shockingly rank even.  The last batch could go a couple days with the same bedding in their box but these girls need a change every single day.  And they seem to have an odd obsession with filling their water cup as full as possible with shredded paper.  It's as though we have offended them somehow, by providing them with clean drinking water, and this monstrosity must be corrected.  Immediately.  And with lots of very loud peeping.

They are doing their damndest to escape, as well, which could have something to do with the stink.  If you even crack the top of the box you will be greeted with the most emphatic flapping of wings and a platoon of fluff flinging itself at you.   I wonder if it's a breed thing, but really haven't a clue.  We just refer to them as the stinky escape artists.

We're heading out of town for a bit and they'll stay with Lorien, but as soon as we return it's going to be time to introduce them to the side-car coop so they can stink up the joint AWAY from the house.  They're so ready to take on the world.

I wish I had photos to offer you, but finding time to upload AND update seems to be tricky. I'm just feeling pretty damn proud I managed to update more than once this month.


Chicks hanging out on our deck, growing big and making stink.


Dorothy in the yard
Anya hanging out in the yard with the Dorothy costume we scored at a thrift store.


she's a nature lover
Lily enjoying the plants at a local nursery.


How is everyone?  I miss you.

Random guilt talk and then, Oh, look! Shiny things!

Last night I was dreaming that I was sorting photographs into piles.  This pile was for Lily, this for Anya and this for a classmate of Lily's named Olivia.  Olivia's pile grew and grew: Olivia at birth, Olivia dancing on a stage, Olivia holding a puppy, etc, etc.  And only here and there a photo of my own children would emerge, taking it's place in the tiny piles of their life.

If you believe in dream interp, this is highly revealing, though I'm not sure of what.  How could it be that my very documented children would somehow take a backseat to another, more documented child?  Seriously, could another child be more documented than my own?  The obvious answer is yes, there are thousands of blogs out there to prove it.  But it likely does show my recent frustration with myself and this blog.  How do I find time to blog when I cannot even go to the bathroom in peace? 

Seriously, just ten minutes ago, I was sitting on the toilet when one child came to me with a problem with her knitting while the other yelled for me from her bed, unwilling to take a nap. Even now, while I type, I am responding to one child and marching the other back to bed while yelling at the dog to stop fussing at the door (she wants to be outside with the Mister, but has a habit of running off when nobody is looking). 

And guilt, which I am feeling in abundance these days, has been making the rounds in my life as I struggle with how to make all the pieces fit.  I keep looking to some event in the future as the cure: "When Mark's job ends in March," I tell myself, "my life will get easier since he can pick up the slack at home."  But his lack of a full time job won't make things easier on all fronts.  In fact, it's not something I should be looking forward to at all.  The freelance life is difficult, despite the fact that he's already landed a gig in Cancun.  Lucky bastard.

I wish I had time to explore more of this, but alas, I have to go to work.  Instead I'll distract you from my sudden departure of topic with the following video of my big kid on her first day of knitting.  She's a total rock star.

7 days: 3 - My Silly Lily

7 days: 3 - My Silly Lily


This is classic Lily.  She, unlike her little sister, would like me to take a million photos of her every single day.  She even puts on faces so I'll be unable to resist. 

It totally works. 

Here we are at the park being silly.  And that tooth of hers still hasn't fallen out, bringing her one day closer to her wish for Santa and the Tooth Fairy to have to make trips to our house on the very same night.  She's crafty, that one.

7 days: 2 - Breakfast out on a Sunday Morning

7 days: 2 - Breakfast out on a Sunday Morning

Since I've been working full time it's been hard to find time for us simply be together.  Sunday morning breakfast has become something of a default for our little family as we all enjoy stacks of pancakes, french toast and runny eggs.  The girls always manage to find or bring along something to color or draw while they wait and Lily has been eating so much I wonder how we're ever going to keep up with her.  At this breakfast, she ate her own plate of French Toast, Eggs & Bacon and then sat their eye-balling everyone elses food.  When Mark paused in his eating to tell a story (something he does a lot of) she quickly asked, "Daddy, are you going to eat that?"  Ultimately, she ended up finishing her sisters pancakes and was still hungry when we got home.

Growing much?

what fear looks like when you're six

Dear Lily,

This morning when I emerged from the shower, I found you curled up in the bedroom recliner, knees tucked under your dress and eyes leaking tears quietly. You were afraid about our trip to the dentist to get a cavity filled and I gathered you up and we talked all about what would happen, how it would feel and about how it is OK to be afraid.  But you were in a loop of that fear, unable to stop thinking about what could be, how it might hurt, what may happen to you there.  So I suggested you go draw out your feelings, since so often you have trouble talking to someone about your fears when they are a stranger.  "Draw everything you want the dentist to know," I suggested, "so you don't have to speak if you don't want to."

You set immediately to work.

making a note of it

Dear Lily & Anya,

I started this blog years ago on a suggestion from your Auntie Allyn.  She talked about how amazing it was to be given a glimpse of her own mother during her first year of motherhood through the journal she kept (and later shared with her daughter).  Seeing that transition somehow made her mother more human in her eyes and she learned so much about her mom, herself and what it means to go through such a life altering change.  I thought I needed to maybe buy myself some insurance.  After all, you two could think me a total idiot of a mom some day and it would be so nice to show you how I can so easily blame it all on you.

perfectly normal

Lily was recently telling me all about how one of the moms of her classmate is deaf and so they are learning some sign language from the boy and his other mother.  We were having a lovely conversation about language when she suddenly stopped me and said, "Wait a minute.  If K has two moms and no dad, how did they make him?  Don't you need a daddy?"  Luckily, I didn't totally flub an answer, though I was much less concise than the answer I'm about to type for you.  I said something along the lines of, "All you really need to make a baby is a sperm and an egg.  How you get those two things together, well, there's LOTS of different ways to do that."  Luckily, she totally accepted that as sufficient, although we did talk a little about adoption and I skirted around in-vitro. 

Which reminds me of one of my most favorite moments regarding in-vitro EVER.

on hair, lies and ideological conundrums

Lily has beautiful hair.  Beautiful, thick, tangly, troublesome when you're tender-headed, hair.  And sadly, it's turned into one of her deepest areas of self doubt, one time breaking down and crying that she hated her hair, herself, her everything.  Just the other day, when wishing on a magic wand, I heard her whisper, "I wish for long, straight, beautiful hair."

And the thing is, I totally get it.

I remember hating my hair and wishing it was straight like most of the girls I knew.  I remember despising how it tangled and dreading having the back brushed out, so much so that I once let a tangle grow to monster proportions and my mom had to cut most of it out. 

As I got older, I grew to appreciate the loveliness that is naturally curly hair.  I started understanding how far people would go to get what I woke up with.  I started to see my hair as one of my greatest assets.  Even now, with it going rapidly gray, I know it's the thing about me people notice and most often compliment.

New kind of religion?

The girls spent the night at Grandma's house last night which meant they attended church with my mom and step-dad in the morning.  Usually, Mom is singing in the choir, so she just drops them off in the little daycare room and they don't actually get much "church" exposure.  Today, however, Mom wasn't singing (which I'm sure has a juicy story attached) so she brought them in with her until the Children's Sermon, after which they went to hang out in the nursery.

At dinner I decided to ask them about the children's sermon, "What did they talk about?"