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Meet me on the flip side!!

This sadly neglected blog has been abandoned, not for lack of love, or interest, or disinterest in writing.
I’ve begun a new blog: swellwithmysoul.com
I truly hope you’ll meet me there!
See you on the flip side!
Come swell with me…

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Season of Giving

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We have officially entered the season of giving thanks! This weekend, the holiday warm fuzzies started to hit me. My family is already making Thanksgiving Day plans and I have signed up for my menu contribution (roasted root veggies – YUM). We have been enjoying some chilly weather dinners this week (think comfort food!), and the temperature has dropped to a seasonably cold 30 degrees at night!!

I am currently teaching Finn about being thankful for all that he has, as well as trying to help him understand the idea of giving to those who are in need. I have recently had some opportunities to try and explain, but I’m not sure he really understands.

I want my family to be consciously thankful for the small things that happen in our normal, everyday. I am finding that the subject of “need” is hard to communicate to a child without confusion. When I try to explain the donation of food we recently sent to school to be given to our town food pantry, he didn’t understand that there are families in need of something as basic as groceries.

I can tell that he is trying to process this information. He is a very inquisitive kid who asks a lot of questions and he tries to find answers. But how can I teach him to give to children who would feel grateful for half of the toys that he has? It’s hard to not run into contradictions when the holidays come around. It is a time when lists are made, catalogs arrive, and wants are loudly and excitedly voiced. (Hello, Santa Clause? I’m looking at you…) It is a time when parents seemingly blackmail their kids behavior with threats of a call to the North Pole, or remind them that their creepy friendly household elf is watching their every move to report back the Man in Red (guilty as charged). So much of the noise around us is about “getting.” Is it me, or do commercials seem to get louder and more obnoxious? And don’t even get me started on the atrocious trend where retailers think it’s a great idea to open on Thanksgiving; a time that should be dedicated to family, friends and being thankful for all that we have. Instead, people are being persuaded to run to a store to BUY MORE. And for these corporate retailers, it is all a ploy to make MORE money. I just can’t embrace that mentality. And why do we get so caught up in needing/having/buying MORE stuff?

I don’t want to raise kids who don’t understand the meaning of giving. Giving to those without, giving to those we love, giving for no other purpose but to make us feel good.
I have declared November and December as the months where we express our gratitude for all of the things we are fortunate to have, and sometimes take for granted, as well as to find a way to give back in ways that will help others, whether in the form of time, money, donations of goods…whatever it takes. November is the time when at work, all colleagues are given the opportunity to contribute to a cause and have the donation deducted from their pay. My charity of choice is always St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital because I am forever grateful for the blessing of having two perfectly healthy children. I will ask Finn to choose two toys, one from him and one from Jack, to donate to Toys for Tots.

We’ll also be making some Christmas gifts this year, because it’s fun, it encourages imagination, and more thought goes into customizing it for the person who will receive it.
I absolutely love the holidays and can’t wait to celebrate all of the festiveness that we will experience in the coming weeks. I look forward to twinkle lights, candles, delicious scents permeating my kitchen, old and new traditions, relaxing…and yes, shopping. But this year, I am going to keep it simple, because thoughtfulness is not equivalent to dollars spent. I want to support local businesses and artists because they are charming and unique. I want to help my boys understand the real meaning behind this time of year and that it is about the warm feelings and small bits of happy that we will experience as we build up to the BIG day…and keep those feelings close so that we live in each small moment before it passes us by.

I want to show Finn, by my example, that there are plenty of ways to “give” that don’t include “presents” and there are lots of things that will make people smile that even Santa wouldn’t be able to accomplish.

So, tell me…How do you teach your kids about giving?

Everybody’s Zooing It!

Wander

We had a lazy weekend. The heatwave finally broke, we had lots of rain and it made things actually feel chilly!  It was such a welcome change. But dampness didn’t damper spirits. Red’s pre-school class went on a field trip to the zoo on Friday. It was a much anticipated outing, especially since Mike went and was the appointed photographer and one of the parent chaperone’s. Red has been a big-time Daddy’s boy lately (which is great for Mike, but I can’t help feeling a twinge of jealousy…I’ll get over it since I’ve been smothering him with hugs and kisses and snuggles that never end). They left the house extra early (no issues getting dressed, or wanting to watch more TV, or taking forever to get shoes on…)

Just to break routine was exciting for Red. No work for Daddy, a bus ride, exploration of wildlife and the anticipation of not knowing what to expect! Their class has been focusing on wild animals a lot lately, and even made a zoo cage for the classroom out of a big cardboard box.

And Red made this mask a few weeks back:

RoarSo this post is just a photographic summary of the day they went to the zoo.

Each group was given a different animal hat. Red was in the Lion group. Roar!!

Waiting

Here is the class anxiously waiting to leave school and get on with the ADVENTURE already!!

Spread Your Wings

Upon arrival, they were ready to begin exploring – and got ready to “spread their wings!”

Here are some of the animals they saw:

Wolves

CROC

WOWZA!!! Look at that THROAT!

Peacock

Too bad this guy didn’t “spread his wings,” er, feathers….he looks annoyed, doesn’t he???

Watch the Croc

Tunnel

Turtle

World

It was a day filled with exotic creatures, reptiles and birds (there were many more than what Mike captured!), and great fun with friends. As Mike said as they were leaving…”The zoo is leaving the zoo.” He had a great time supervising a bunch of four and five year old kiddos, but was exhausted at the end of the day. He was a great chaperone, and is a great photographer. Thanks babe for the pictures…and for being such an amazing dad. xo

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Embrace the Madness!

We have a crazy couple of days ahead of us, with a rehearsal dinner, a July 4th family picnic, and the wedding for which Red is the ring bearer.  The heat and humidity (mixed with some equally humid drizzle) makes for a delightful (read: oppressive) cocktail of bad hair, sweaty pits and shiny skin.  I hate when this happens during events where pictures will be taken, I want to look good, I have a wedding outfit that includes four inch heels, and I should probably know better.  (I’ve been known to make the statement “fashion before comfort” but we’ll see how long I last while chasing Roo around!)

With all of the getting ready we have to do to prepare for these events (especially because as mom’s  know, 15 month olds come with lots of their own personal baggage), it should be mentioned that we have no air conditioning in our house.  Yup.  That’s right.  Bring on the sweat.

I am a very easy-going girl.  I am only relatively high maintenance, meaning that I like to play dress up, and wear makeup and get a spray tan (and/or maybe actually lay in a tanning bed- I know, I know…), especially when I am going  to events like a wedding.  I am already anticipating fighting with my hair to sit atop my head in a way that doesn’t make me look like I was just electrocuted, with little pieces sticking out everywhere, or as if I recently went back to the nineties and have that gel infused “wet-look” that used to be in style, though in my case it would be from brow beading courtesy of the sun or drizzly rain that I mentioned above.

It wouldn’t be so bad if I only had to worry about myself getting ready…but there are three other boys (yes, Mike I am calling you a boy in this case) that need tending to.  There is approving of the outfit (again, Mike, I am looking at you), ironing, packing gear and baby needs, including a change of clothes (just in case),  and making sure Red gets his tux on and stays clean and quiet for an extended period of time.  I have to remember the camera, make sure my phone is charged (because iPhone bribery works wonders with the staying clean and quiet bit) and get out of the house without becoming a wrinkled mess myself.

And when it all falls apart, and the temperature gets the best of us and whining ensues, and tempers get tested, and Roo needs a diaper change at zero hour as we are heading out the door (it’s inevitable), I have to remind myself to embrace the madness.  Because really, in the grand scheme of everything that is going to happen in the next few days, all we will remember are the lovely, laughable moments.  The times where we are together with family, playing cards and enjoying music, and lighting sparklers in the summer night.  We will be gushing over Red walk down the aisle with his ring pillow all dressed up with his sweet, shy smile, and revel at how cute Roo will be boogying on the dance floor.  Not to mention how beautiful my cousin and her husband-to-be will look and how wonderfully mushy I become at weddings.  All of that will overshadow the crazed chaos that we went through to prepare for such fun.

Maybe we’ll luck out and the weather will grace us with beautiful warm breezes to take the edge off.  In any event, I will surely have plenty of pictures from our adventurous holiday festivities in my next posts, and hopefully I won’t be too embarrassed to share them (as in my hair will look ok).

Happy 4th of July!

Inspiration Is What You are to Me…

(Thank you to Led Zeppelin (fav band!) for my aptly titled post, from, ironically enough, the song Thank You)

I have been feeling very “stuck” as of late.  I feel this intense need to bring more creativity into my life – into my daily routine.  I feel strongly that I am not meant to sit in a cubicle day-in and day-out.  My best friend Kate, (whose beautiful blog is here) recently said that it is one thing to send our kids to daycare so that we can pursue a job that is fulfilling, but it feels so wrong to do so for a job that simply pays the bills.  Ok, so I need a job right now so we can pay the bills.  That is a reality. 

Truth be told, I’d love to have MORE time with my babes every day rather than doing the damn thing and feeling no passion.  I am feeling more and more of a strong need to start digging deeper.   

digging deeper with toes in the sand might be a good place to start...

digging deeper with toes in the sand might be a good place to start…

I have accomplished a lot in my thirty some-odd (that’s a very accurate saying by the way!) years, and I have no regrets because I don’t believe in lamenting over such things.  Besides the fact that it’s not as if I have faced any huge hurdles that have put a damper on my life.  However, I have put a lot of work into big goals, such as graduating from college as a grown-up, with way more responsibilities – like a baby, and then another baby…and I yearn for still more babies, and even with all of that, or maybe especially because of that, I feel that I owe it to myself to make something of that piece of paper I so painstakingly earned.

This blog is a beginning.  It is a creative outlet that I look forward to investing time and effort to.  And it will get better – that is a promise. 

But I want more.  I want to go back to my roots. 

When I was 18 and had started college (my first and failed go at it), I was going to major in art.  Photography was my main interest, but I’ve got to admit I was a pretty good artist too.  I need that in my life again. 

I need a spark.  Which will light a fire…

My summer to-do list is to find something interesting, beautiful and enlightening every day.  If I am to be honest with myself, and make things happen for myself, I just need to live in every moment with attention and purpose, and think imaginatively.   

carefree...

carefree…

dreamer...

dreamer…

SO… feeling inspired, I decided to do a craft with Red.  Red is not particularly crafty.  He loves the IDEA of crafting and creating, but when faced with (in this case) a pile of feathers, pipe cleaners, googly eyes, felt, scissors and glue, he doesn’t go at it with any certain intent.  He kind of stares at it, then me, and asks what to do.  So we just started cutting and gluing and I made a silly monster that ended up looking more like a rooster:   

mommys monster

 and he made this: 

finns monster

It’s an abstract, and I can appreciate that, though every time I picked it up it was falling apart. 

Quick back story, I am forever jaded from an art experience in nursery school when we were told to make jack-o-lanterns and given a bunch of triangles and shapes that we were supposed to precisely glue to an orange circle and make a face.  I, being the little spit fired redhead who refused to follow the rules (god, if THAT wasn’t foreshadowing at its best), decided to just keep gluing shapes any which way I pleased, and my conceptual jack-o-lantern was met with a look of disgrace by the teacher, who was from what I can recall, (and by my then four-year-old standards) an old bitty, asking me why I would do such a thing.  Obviously I was a visionary genius way back when…but clearly misunderstood.  (my apolgies for the run-on sentences…I just had to get that off my chest.  Moving on…)  So, because of this exprience, I would never question the originality that Red saw in his piece.

And then he said, “Lookit Mommy – it has Love on it”  and although he was literally speaking of the puffy, glittery “LOVE” sticker he put on the felt monster, it struck me.  I looked at it, took a picture and said to myself, “Yes, yes it does.”

So I guess point being, is that even in the things that don’t seem to have any specific creative sense at first, if I look hard enough, I will find it, or if not, I will make it, and in either case, whatever “it” turns out to be – it will be filled with love.  Maybe I should go back to my four-year-old self, and consult with her about just how to make this happen.

 

From a five year olds perspective…

I’ve been taking a lot of photographs lately.  It seems like our Canon Rebel is constantly by my side, or I run to get it if I see some lovable moment the kids are creating that I just have to capture.  It could be that I am really trying to get better at picture taking, or to see things in a new way, or to learn new tricks on the camera, or, (this is the most probable) that I am completely obsessed with this heckin’ blog and all I wanna do is show my sweet family, our adventures and anything else I happen to stumble upon in pictures. 

Yesterday, Red decided that he wanted a turn at taking pictures and quietly snuck away to capture a few shots of his own.  Below is what he came up with:

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(This is our “patio” – UNDER CONSTRUCTION!)

Not bad!  He actually really loves picture taking and has his own Leap Frog camera…but the real deal is so much more fascinating, what with all the buttons, and flashing, and a lens that goes zoom.  I think he enjoys the continuous shooting especially.

Here is where he got busted:

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Uh-oh – Daddy is ruining all the fun!

 And here are some more shots from the weekend.

It was a hot one.  Since Red was still recovering from “the throw-ups” (which unfortunately hit him again at 2 am this morning-poor thing), we rested at home and enjoyed the warm sunshine, while trying to stay hydrated and feel better.

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The tomatoes needed watering. Farmer Roo to the rescue!

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Mena came over to see her boys.

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Boys & their toys.

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Mommy’s way of hydrating.  Even the glass is sweating.

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So……until this guy feels better…IMG_6770

 …there is nothing new to report.  And hopefully in a few days, he will have a more energetic and peppy perspective – one which might end up in our camera.