Sunday, December 28, 2008

My Children are Adorable

Out on a walk this morning (to get toothpaste at Walgreens, which is a whole 'nother post), I saw a 2 year old out with his daddy.  That got me remembering how much I adore 2 year olds and how great I am at just admiring wee children for who they need to be in any given moment. Somehow my mommy zen does not extend as well to the early primary age, and I'm working on that.

Coming in the door with toothpaste in hand today, however, I am filled with adoration for who my children are in this moment. 

Rosie greeted me at the door wearing fancy pants, socks and the family iPod - nothing more because she's part polar bear.  Her green and white beads bouncing she danced, sang and smiled in a way that lights my entire life.

Theo hasn't noticed me yet.  He's huddled near to the fire (because he's clothed only in underwear) reading The Silver Chair by CS Lewis.  It is 4 years beyond the level most school experts tell me he "should" be reading and last year he wouldn't let me read it aloud because it was too scary. He started yesterday afternoon and now there are 10 pages left. He has an obsession with reading right now that extends to every inch of print in the house and pulls him beyond himself.

My children are who they are, full of individual passions and inclinations.  I love to wonder how those passions and inclinations will manifest as they reach their 20s and 30. If I can just manage to stay out of their way, they will mature to dynamic self-actualized people who bring their best to our world. Probably from a nude beach somewhere in Hawaii.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Snow Fun

Yesterday the promised snow storm arrived.  It announced itself in the middle of the night with some truly awesome thunder.  Where else besides Seattle would you get thunder in a snow storm?

Living at the base of a hill has perks.  After marching around to several neighbors houses inviting them to come over, we found ourselves in the middle of kid central.  15 kids sledding for 3 hours packed the snow perfectly and people came from blocks around to play.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Wimped Out

We wimped out on the Jingle Bell run today.

Bill and I woke up late and rolled the kids out of bed.  They were both laying on the floor complaining when Rosie realized there was snow on the ground.  Immediately they threw clothes on and spent 5 minutes playing in the snow by the car while Bill and I got ready to go. The no-too-icy drive downtown  passed quickly with the snow excitment.  

When we stepped out of the car, the building-funneled cold winds surprised us.  By the time we got to Westlake Center to pick up our registration tickets, Theo's "it's toooooo cooooold" whine was fully revved.  Our faces thawed while we stood in line for our runner numbers and shirts. Two lines later it became clear only one registration had processed when I struggled with their website 6 weeks ago.

Faced with another long race registration line and dread of the winds blowing on our faces for the first mile of the run, we wimped.

Breakfast at the Sunlight Cafe was warm and satisfying. We'll run next year.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Off the Charts?

Have you ever heard of the Ilg/Ames theory that kids development goes in 6 month cycles?  I can't remember their exact wording for the cycles, but something like balanced and off-kilter.

Somehow around the birthdays, my kids tend to demonstrate an adherence to this idea. Magically, just 2 weeks after his birthday, Theo's behaviors are driving me CRAZY.

Enter a good developmental chart.  I learned as a very early parent that if my baby's behavior was on "the chart" I could relax.  See now instead of my wee one doing some scary freaky thing, he is just really doing a great job of being a 6 month old.  Same holds with the 8 year old and charts.  It is just that there are more freaky behaviors.  

Scientists love babies and there are more developmental charts than you can throw a diaper at. But clear 3 years old and pickings get slim.  I was stuck with merely the Ilg/Ames selection for years. Which admittedly are better than nothing, but much of the parenting advice rubs me the wrong way.  Happily I stumbled upon the Washington State DSHS charts last year.  The charts go from 0-19 years, with sections for physical, intellectual, emotional, social and moral development.  Appropriate milestones are marked with short and reasonable suggestions for how to handle behaviors. I print them out and post them in the kitchen where I can see them daily.

Now if I can just convince myself he's great at being 8 years old and that those thunderous burps aren't really SO annoying.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Let It Snow

We're off to the mountains today.  Having loved the snow so much growing up, I really wanted my kids to at least know what the white stuff is.  So we have an annual tradition to go spend a few days playing in the mountains.  Most years there are loads of snow.  Right now, though, it's looking a little grim, more of slush mountain than a winter wonderland.

Think snow for us!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Thank Heavens its December

And I'm free from NaBloPoMo.  I learned how to crochet a hat today and must continue working on it.  Very exciting stuff going down here.....

Thursday, December 4, 2008

To Read

Here are the books lined up waiting for their turn to be read - squeezed into my scant personal moments between blog posts, crochet and guitar.

Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell - recommended by Theo
White Men on Race by Joe Feagin - this is the guy who did the talk at Bush School
Race: a History Beyond Black and White by Marc Aronson - recommended by Joe Feagin
Can We Talk about Race? by Beverly Daniel Tatum - recommeded by someone at Pact Camp
How to Improve You Marriage Without Talking About It by John Gottman - recommended by a friend

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Completion Complex

Many years ago, in my first corporate job (the one where I sold my soul to the devil so I could afford to buy toilet paper and have health insurance), I shared cubicle space, a hard drive and many job responsibilities with someone we shall call Renae.  That much closeness bred friendship.  

One of the things Renae quickly noticed about me was my urge to finish something before moving on to the next item.  Once she pointed this out about me, I was fascinated by the difference between us. If we agreed to go to lunch at 12:15, she'd stop typing mid-sentence and get her coat.  3 minutes later I'd still be slogging away at my paragraph trying to come to a good stopping place. She dubbed this personal trait of mine "completion complex."

I think almost daily of Renae as I notice moments of completion complex.  Turns out crochet feeds my complex like crazy.  Because of my temperament I want to finish the row before moving onto other projects that need my attention.  However, I find it confusing to restart from the end of a row, the middle area of a row is easier.  So I choose to move a little into the next row for ease of picking up later, but then I desperately want to finish the row. Of course, I don't like to stop at the end, so I start another row....

Many other things set my completion complex off: it is hard to for me pick up without cleaning the entire house, having the kids start a project without finishing it makes me twitch, practicing a song on the guitar should go on until I have all the notes under control. Starting a new book when I haven't finished the one I'm in the middle of is sacrilegious in my world.  I even tend to finish one food on my plate before starting the next (swear to g-d).

As a childless adult completion complex was interesting and fun and at work it could be a useful tool.  Fortunately I always worked places where they handed out overtime like candy. As a parent, completion complex can be devastating.  Trying to force kids to clean until I think the house looks done or setting them up with school work that turn out to be way too long creates giant power struggles.  Similarly, ignoring them for an hour while I "just work out this one song" never reaps anything but whiny, angry children.

Over the years, I've developed some coping skills to at least quiet my drive to finish everything. While browsing the parenting section of a book store, I came across the title Parents Who Think Too Much by Ann Cassidy.  Theo was a baby at the time, and I know I read the book cover to cover (that completion thing again).  My memory of the author's point is that our kids need us to relax, let them make their own mistakes and be realistic role models.  One of the chapters went something along the lines of "it's good to suck at something."  And I truly understand how much my kids learn from watching me and seeing how I handle learning something completely new.  I haven't looked inside it since, but just having the book on my shelf where I can see the title helps me remember to relax and just coast sometimes.  For me, this means walking away from 1/2 done tasks.

About the same time as I found Cassidy's book, FlyLady came into my life.  Her assertion that we can do anything for 15 minutes is usually meant to get us out of inertia and start working on an overwhelming task with baby steps.  There are many times, though, when I use the timer to achieve just the opposite.  I set it for 15 minutes of cleaning because that is all I honestly think it is reasonable to ask my little ones to do.  Theo's handwriting only lasts for 10 minutes no matter whether he finished the line and sentence or not.  20 minutes of guitar practice everyday actually does yield lots of progress when I show up for my next lesson.

In Praise of Slow by Carl Honore helps keep me focused on what is important.  While it is not a book about leaving tasks undone, the reminder about living my life mindfully and using my time to create connection helps me release the frenzy of doing so much.  Which in the end means fewer things to complete.

Funny, I just googled "completion complex" to see what came up.  First up was a link to "Women of Ideas and What Men have Done to Them by Dale Spender".  She (?) defines completion complex as "the incomplete nature of a woman without a man."  Fortunately, I do not suffer that version of the complex.

Here's another version of completion complex.  I like my interactions and stories to have a tidy end.  I seek clean completion in my relationships.  So I've spend the last 15 minutes trying to figure out just the right way to wrap us this post, when I could be downstairs chatting with my dear husband. So just for kicks, let's try this....

The End.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

More about adoption awareness

Some of the comments to my post about Adoption Awareness Month got me thinking about teenage pregnancy and adoption.

Coming from my passion for attachment parenting, I deeply believe we each understand our abilities to care for and be safe with our children. And if someone things she/he can't give their child what they need, I support them following that intuition.

There are several issues that come to mind, though, in relation to teenage pregnancies. First is that I doubt most teenagers who find themselves pregnant are in the loving supportive environment they need. Studies I've seen indicate that young girls seek sex when they don't have the love and guidance of significant adult males in their lives. So by the time they get to teenage pregnancy, we've got another big indication of the breakdown of the social fiber that should be family relationships. Once these girls find themselves pregnant I'm sure few of them find themselves in nurturing situations with plenty of coaching and education about healthy birth and parenting ideas. Heck, it was tricky to get that in my 30s.

Second, I think our US culture has a huge bias against young moms. I get that they're pretty green in the way of the world. And, the discount of these girls abilities to bond to their babies and respond to their needs angers me. As the daughter of a teenage mom, I've kept an eye on the young mothers around me. The ones who get the coaching I mentioned above, and many who don't, are great moms. Again, to me another symptom of the illness of our society - shame the young ones for getting pregnant, discount their ability to parent, then don't give them any guidance or support to succeed.

On a similar vein, I'm interested that adoption conversations rarely include the dad. If my son helped create a pregnancy and the mama wasn't ready to parent the baby, I would aggressively support him taking on the role of primary caregiver for his baby. Surely daddies count, too.

And again, with fully met needs and enough support, I really do believe a gigantic percentage of women would never let their babies out of their arms. As always in life, there will be exceptions. I want those women to get all the respect and support they need, too.

If I could just push a magic button....

This time 8 years ago

I was at Providence Hospital working on birthing a baby.

At 12:15 tonight, he'll turn 8 years old.  Where did the time go?  I guess the old adage "time flies when you're having fun" applies here.  What a delightful boy and what a joy to be his mommy.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Victory and Cute Animals

Today is December 1. That means I finished my commitment to post every day in November (you know, starting on the 5th). Turns 
out I really enjoyed posting and the challenge of coming up with something everyday. Perhaps this means I'll continue into 
December. Thanks for all the encouragement along the way.

December is also one of our months off from homeschooling. Instead of the standard 3 month summer off, we've been taking April, 
August and December off. We'll be lightening our load, spending a little time each day on guitar, history and spelling. Otherwise, 
we've planned a few days in the snow, gingerbread house camp, gift making and lots of puttering around.
In celebration, here are the kid and my current favorite youtube videos.
(have I mentioned how much the formatting in blogger bugs me recently???)
Hampster on a Piano

Cat Chasing Leash

Roomba Kitty

Mean Kitty