Monday, May 28, 2012

Assateague Island

I took this shot just over a dune from where we camped this weekend. That's the Atlantic Ocean. I know - wow. We joined Pretty Mahana's family at Assateague Island this weekend. It was my first time camping since we had children, and it was an amazing place to do it. Rob and I camped a lot when we were newlyweds, and it felt like part of my old self came back to me by camping again.

I'm really proud of myself for doing this. Sure, there were hiccups. Emily had to use the bathroom in the middle of the night, and wouldn't go back to bed for a long time after. Pretty Mahana opened her large tent and discovered her poles were broken, and they had to pile their family of five into the 3 man tent they brought for beach shade. Elliot and I had a vicious cycle of him being covered in sand, me trying to remove it with a towel, and him getting mad about it and face planting into the sand in despair, covering himself yet again with sand. The kids and I were exhausted and kind of crabby when it was time to go home. But we made some awesome memories.

Elliot loved playing in the sand so much that when I set him down in it and started setting up camp, he didn't even move from the spot I put him until my tent and most of Pretty Mahana's had been set up. I loved watching Emily jump over approaching waves over and over and over again. I was amused (and a little bit terrified) that as soon as Elliot saw the ocean, he just squealed with glee and tried to run straight into it. Yes, I watched him closely this weekend. I loved how happy my kids were to eat S'mores and sing songs around the campfire. I loved how excited they were to sleep in a tent, and how much fun they had sticking their heads out of it over and over during the day. It was a great weekend.

Some more fun pictures:



 SO sandy.



Thursday, May 24, 2012

Group effort

Emily is 50% potty trained. Meaning, if I make her sit on her toilet periodically, she generally stays dry, but she usually won't take the initiative on her own. Still, I'll take it, and we'll get there.

There are lots of things that got us this far - finding the right incentive system, staying healthy for long enough stretches, the right DVD from the library, etc. But surprisingly, the most helpful thing didn't have anything to do with Emily - it was giving Elliot his own kid toilet to sit on. Potty training flopped so badly for so long not because of anything Emily did, but because of Elliot. Elliot was a disaster. If we let him in the bathroom with us, he'd whack his sister with the plunger, pull the toilet paper off the roll, and try to throw things in the toilet. If we left him outside, he was a hysterical mess because he was left out. Anything and everything would set him into 10 minute tantrums for the rest of the day. By the end of the day, my ability to control my temper was shot, and I'd cave when Emily would beg me to give her a diaper instead.

Enter Elliot's toilet. I finally gave him his own toilet seat, told him he could stay in the bathroom with us if he sat on his toilet too, and let him wash his hands in the big sink after. He eagerly obliged, and twenty-four hours later, Emily had it. Every time Emily heads to the bathroom, he comes too, and he happily sits on his toilet seat.

I guess that's family life. I'm realizing more and more that I can read every book in the library on a parenting topic, but at the end of the day, my solutions have to involve the whole family. My kids don't live in isolation, so although a certain idea would work great for an only child, it often won't work for my kids. We succeed a lot more often when I include the whole family in the equation.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's day

There are thousands of reasons thousands of people have mother's day angst. I'll own that I've felt the angel mother guilt complex. But rather than dwell on those, here are some things I love about my relationship to mothers and motherhood.

I'm grateful for a husband and children that make me feel so valued year round, and give me so many breaks year round, that I feel like I don't need anything extra on mother's day. I'm grateful they see all the ways I'm bad at motherhood, but choose to love me for the ways I'm good at motherhood. And I'm grateful for the ways I've been enriched as I lurch along trying to become the mother I want to be.

I'm grateful to grow up with a mom who listened to me, served me, and loved me as I am. I'm grateful she hasn't said, "well, she's a functional adult, I'll hang up my motherhood hat," and continues to listen to me, serve me, and love me as I am in new and so incredibly needed ways. I know I continue to become a better person for having her as my mother.

I'm grateful for a mother-in-law that I love so much, I have to remind myself when she calls from London that although she likes me, she probably also wants to talk to her son and I should pass the phone along. I'm grateful for her love, service, and example.

I'm grateful for a stepmother-in-law that is so incredibly thoughtful and accomodating. Even when she's under periods of stress, she takes time to make personal and meaningful contact with the large and crazy family she dove into.

And I'm grateful for the vast variety of inspiring mothers and women I see around me. We all make different choices, and make painful sacrifices to make them, but we're striving to do right. We make mistakes, but try to do better. As women, in little or big ways, our lives usually don't look how we'd imagined they would, but we're all striving to find grace and beauty in the lives we've been given. And amidst the crazy, we find that grace and beauty, and it sustains us.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Great Falls

We took advantage of National Parks Week and headed to Great Falls with a friend and her kids for a picnic. We all enjoyed seeing the falls, and the kids loved playing in the kayak in the visitor center.

 Because goofy pictures are what my family does ...
 There's a more normal picture. She also enjoyed climbing on rocks on the way to the falls.
Elliot loves all things wet (from fountains to the toilet bowl...), so he really enjoyed the falls. He also enjoyed seeing herons fly by.

I'm really glad I came. I love the DC suburbs, but I don't get out into nature enough (aside from our walking trails), so I'm glad I got a chance to enjoy something majestic.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Pinterest

I'm kind of obsessed with Pinterest. I have mixed feelings about that.

Sometimes I love it. I've gotten a lot of great ideas from it that I use often. I ADORE my daily toy rotation bins (best idea ever), I fall back on my 40 minute roll recipe all the time, and I've found some great educational activities that my kids love. In April, Emily still asks for the Christmas tree waffles I made for her in December, and when I read Elliot books from We Give Books, not only did I not have to make an extra trip to the library, I'm also contributing to a good cause. I feel like my life is better for knowing these things.

At the same time, it is a huge time drain. It isn't lost on me that I've been blogging a lot less since I got on pinterest (although I do have another writing activity I've been working on that I'll talk about another day). My spring cleaning is a lot more chemical free, but I'm less motivated to do it. And I've found that when I've had a rough day, it isn't a book I want to cuddle up with after I get the kids down – I want to go on pinterest. Or maybe before I've put them down.

I guess balance is the answer: use it to help me do the things I love, but not so much it keeps me from doing the things I love.