Sunday, September 30, 2012

They grow up so fast!

Last year at the pumpkin patch:

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This year at the pumpkin patch:

They grow up so fast.

I know.

Baby to little boy in one year. Toddler to protective older brother. Crazy how that works.

Killian says, "Don't get too close, Mick!" protecting Mick from the farm animals.

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There Killian goes trying to grab Mick's hand again.

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A horse!
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It was a fun impromptu trip to the pumpkin patch tonight.

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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Flashback

While Mike was at yoga last night, the boys and I walked around Uptown and had a sushi picnic. Oh, memories.

Sushi picnic

Except this time, Mick is solidly walking around Uptown. It's hard to believe our family has outgrown strollers already. Mick has refused a stroller (good for him!) for a few months now.

Rainbow Hall! Ruuuuuuuuuun!

Mick is so big now I confuse him in pictures with K. Running down rainbow hall in our adventure in uptown last night.

Obligatory shot of the Duke Building while on the Green. Did you guys know there is a secret passageway after Rainbow Hall to the Green? Killian knows.

Obligatory duke bldg shot while at the green


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Birthday Fun

I'm late to blog about it, but I turned 30 earlier this month - hooray! Mike and my family made it a really special weekend for me. My parents watched the boys on Saturday and Mike and I got to spend the day doing some things we don't get to do with little boys in tow.

Such as:

Trail/beach running along Lake Norman!
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Fun in the sun.
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Mike has made every birthday my best ever. Enjoyed our run at Jetton Park yesterday. @fansipans

Then we (ok I) got to dress up nice,
She's 30! (Tomorrow)

and enjoy some amazing food (gimme a beet!)
Gimme a beet. #foodporn

We came back to my parents' house and I was surprised with this awesome memorabilia blanket, my sisters made from their memories of my room as a teenager (posters and various items in my room)! I was laughing so hard when I heard what search words Tina had to use to try to figure out what the cd cover the "Hole: Live Through This" was! (90's, crying prom queen...?)

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THEN, Mike unveils this:

An instagram of 588 of our own instagrams arranged in order of hue and saturation. My 30th birthday present from my awesome programmer husband @fansipans :) technology sure is beautiful!

He wrote a program to arrange 588 (almost all) of our Instagrams in order of hue and saturation, and then had it printed and framed! This photo is about 2 by 3 feet and now hanging in our hallway. It is the most beautiful gift ever - full of memories - mostly our kids, some nature, some architecture (Duke Building of course!) and a good amount of food pictures too! Every time I walk down the hall, a new picture catches my eye and brings back a memory.

To top it off, Beth then showed me the video interview she had made. She had interviewed my family members talking about their memories of me. Talk about a tearjerker! I was super touched to hear the favorite memories of my younger siblings. I was not expected to hear what they said and it was a reminder how the little things can be so important and significant to kids.

It was a beautiful weekend, a perfect kickoff to my 30's, and I feel so blessed and fortunate - thank you all! :)

Emotional Intelligence

In my last post, I wrote about how I can get bogged down by disappointments and regrets (related to parenting). I have a perfect example of such I'd like to share, which actually lead to a lovely moment with Killian.

Killian was having trouble settling down to sleep and then mentioned he wanted a snack. He never does this as an excuse to get out of bed - it is only when he is genuinely hungry. I quickly thought about that evening and I thought CRAP - he barely ate anything. (He's still a very picky eater.) We got out of bed, and as Killian ate his bowl of applesauce in the kitchen, I started to grate a sweet potato for a recipe. Killian was asking about 20 questions for every bite of applesauce he was taking. Grating anything is not a good idea when you are tired, and then OUCH went my finger/fingernail into the grater. I let out a loud cry... and woke up Mick, who Mike had just gotten to sleep. I was now very upset at myself for failing to make sure Killian ATE DINNER and then waking Mick up.

I don't remember specifically what I said to Killian, but I must have been getting short with him, especially since he was asking so many questions. But I remember I was standing a few feet away from him in the kitchen and all of a sudden his face changed, became softer and he held his arms open wide and said with so much empathy and love, "Come here, Mommy." My heart melted and I came over to him at the table and knelt down to his level and let him hug me. I started to apologize and explain I was frustrated because I hurt my finger, and he said, "Let's start over."

"Let's start over" is exactly the phrase I find I use when I'm losing my cool and respond to a situation in a less than desirable way, which in turn, sets off Killian's defensiveness. When I catch this situation (which would otherwise spiral out of control), "let's start over" and a hug always fixes the situation. By now, he knows that "let's start over" means that my demeanor will change instantly, love and trust will be restored, and we will solve the problem together.

The moment made me so happy because it showed Killian's emotional intelligence. It also showed that's he's already learned effective ways to manage people's emotions. I was raised in an environment in which if someone was short with you, you were short back. If someone yelled at you, you yelled back. It's kind of groundbreaking to think that he could see me in a bad mood and think, "She needs a hug." He really melted my heart that night and blew my mind that a young child could be so emotionally strong and literate.

(Yay positive discipline for the win!)

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Zen of Parenting


A recent post from Zen Habits, discusses "The Zen of Work."

I read this post and immediately thought of parenting. This speaks so perfectly to my life as a parent. Just replace "work" with "parenting," "co-workers" with "children," and "tasks and messages" with "endless diaper changes and messes." You'll see. (Bold is mine.)
At work, we often face stressful situations, dreaded projects, irritating co-workers, frustrating bosses, an overwhelming number of tasks and messages, boring work we don’t enjoy
These problems have one simple cause: we’re holding on. 
The work itself isn’t stressful — it’s just action that’s taken or that needs to be taken. It’s our reaction to the work that causes the stress: our holding on to a wish that things were different. 
It’s not the constant stream of interruptions that is frustratingthey are just events that happen around us, like a leaf falling or a bird flying by. It’s our holding on, in our minds, to the task we were doing before we were interrupted that causes the frustration. We wish we weren’t interrupted from the task, and we resent anything that interrupts us, and our minds are still half on the previous task. 
Our co-workers and boss aren’t the problem either: they’re just other human beings trying to do the best they can in this world. It’s our holding on to the idea that they should somehow behave a certain way, that they should do their best to make us happy, that causes us anger and irritation. 
It’s not that we have an overwhelming number of tasks and messages that causes us to be stressed out — it’s our reaction to that number. It’s just a list of things, or a phone ringing, or an inbox with a list of messages. Those things are harmless. But when we hold on to the idea that we can do everything, and that we have to deal with all this at once, we become stressed, because obviously we can’t. We can only do one thing, though our minds are on all of them. 
So what’s the solution? It’s letting go. 
This is the Zen of Work Parenting.

I couldn't agree more. I find myself getting stressed, annoyed, frustrated by these "constant stream of interruptions" and the "overwhelming number of tasks." What a great reminder that these things aren't intrinsically stressful, but they become stressful to us by the weight we assign to them. After all, "they are just events that happen around us." We choose the significance of them.

At church last Sunday, the following was read:

We aspire to live lives of passion and joy but we are, at times, distracted or despondent, bogged down in things that stifle our sense of wonder and delight.
I often feel like parts of the service for written just for me that week. Being a parent has let me experience "wonder and delight" that I have not experienced since my own childhood. However, on a daily basis, I can let myself get bogged down by the to-do list, the disappointments when things don't go as planned, the regrets, etc. What a wonderful reminder to not get bogged down by our task list, and shift our priorities, focus, and the significance that we assign things, tasks, or events, so that we are able to experience wonder and delight from the world around us.

Friday, September 21, 2012

"Do you want to be a princess?"

Boys





These boys. They make my heart swell.

I am so thrilled they love their new school. Mick is so confident at school, and I am so happy for him! He walks around like he owns the place. He knows the routine and you can tell how much pride it gives him to know what to do and have a routine he can participate in. He proudly carries his lunchbox in each day (he says "lunchbox" now), hangs it up in his own cubby, picks up the stuffed animal he stored in his cubby the afternoon before, hugs him, and then waves to me and says, "Bye Ma!", running off to an activity or person of interest.

Killian seems to love his class as well and his teachers have shared some amusing anecdotes of Killian. "Killian taught us all a silly song today." (I'm thinking: Oh crap.)  "Jingle Bells, Batman Smells, Robin laid an egg..." (Me: Oh Phew.) I think he has also picked up a British accent from one of his friends at school. Video coming soon.

I am loving their new school too, for many reasons (awesome, involved parent community!) but mainly for the new schedule. The boys come home at 1 and immediately take naps at home. They wake up @ 4 most days. Having them home in the afternoon, even if they're not awake for most of it, feels so much more balanced to me, as a mom (of 2 small children) than having them in daycare all day. I love being able to tuck Killian in at nap time. (Mike tucks Mick in, as Mick falls asleep much faster for Mike than for me. He knows he can walk all over me.)

I have fond memories of living in Uptown, but it feels like our life (in our new neighborhood and with the new school) is slower paced now (less rat race-y) or at least more balanced.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Siblings

I can see why experts say 3 years is the ideal age gap for siblings. Killian is showing quite a nurturing streak these days and seems willing to share the spotlight with a baby (emphasis on baby - not a toddler or kid!)

Making a pouch for baby kangaroo

The nurturing has not been directed to Mick, who doesn't resemble much of a baby these days, but to Baby Kangaroo.

Killian and Baby Kangaroo

Killian calls himself the "Momma Kangaroo" and swaddles his baby, talks in soothing tones to her, talks her through what will happen, etc.

Killian swaddles baby kangaroo

Killian has mentioned several times to me that he wants me to have another baby - a baby sister, specifically. He wants to name her "Gabby." He would like me and the baby to sleep with him at night. I think it's super sweet.

Just 2 brothers hanging out.

On the other hand, Mick is definitely not ready to give his title of "baby of the family" away. It blows me away that at Mick's current age (18 months), Killian was 3 months shy of becoming an older brother. By the time Killian was 13 months old, he had self-weaned and was sleeping in his own (floor) bed in his own room through the night with no problem and would just come to us if he needed us instead of crying. (We thought, this is eeeeaasy!) As independent Mick is, he is still very much "my baby," showing no signs of self-weaning any time soon and no signs of being ready for sleeping independently through the night away from a parent (currently Mike). He needs to seek us out for comfort much more than Killian did at that age and shows jealousy when I hold other children, whereas Killian never did as a toddler (which was a relief to me because I was pregnant with his brother!)

I don't have commentary on these differences, but just think it is interesting, and that children's personality can greatly influence sibling spacing. If Mick was born first, there would be a much larger gap between him and the next sibling, as neither of us would have been ready.

Growing up fast, yet still so little.

I have been unsuccessful in getting any good going back to school pictures of the boys. They take lunches with them to their new school and it's so cute to see them walk with their lunchboxes.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Double Trouble

We made it to the start of the school year!

I got to experience what parents of older, school-aged kids feel when their kids are home for summer break driving them crazy, I mean, getting to spend extra time with their sweet children making making wonderful summer memories, and then they gloriously return to a place that is not my home/workplace for a few hours a day. Hooray!

As I mentioned we had a little "summer vacation/home-school" experiment for all of August and a week of July (who's counting). It was definitely a learning experience for me. I learned how hard and how much planning it takes to really keep these boys engaged and occupied. I was already grateful of school, and it made me more so. I did not keep up with their daily "lesson plan" at all and didn't cycle through activities and introduce new ones (art, sensory, etc) as much as I wanted to. At the end of the day, I was exhausted and fell asleep at the same time Killian did, leaving no time for planning the next day. Even though I had help, I felt like I was constantly switching gears between work and home/the boys, which was a bit draining.

But the boys had fun! They spent countless hours outside with different family members and walking around the neighborhood, going to see the chickens, visiting parks, and making forts in the living room. (As I write this, I think - maybe free play and getting bored with their toys in order to use their imagination to come up with new uses - is actually exactly what they needed?)

Here chicky chicky chickies

This is naturally what happens when you bring home a new (used) train table. Disappointed they can't climb on it, the kids build a fortress out if sofa cushions instead and climb/hide all over it. (why do we buy toys?)

I have precious memories of early morning walks to the park and around the neighborhood.

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Killian has made a new friend in the neighborhood.

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The past few weeks we've gotten to see the boys interact and play with each other more, which used to be a rare occasion and now is becoming more frequent.

Killian invented a game called "dog/dog owner" where he and another person take turns playing the dog at the end of the leash and dog owner walking the dog. He taught Mick how to play.


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Killian loves the Sleeping Beauty story. It's so amazing to hear him repeat lines verbatim from the story in his play, "...in true love's kiss, the spell shall break." With these hooded towels, Mick and him play fairies. Killian says, "Mick's Fauna and I'm Merriweather."  (The pink and blue fairies).

Mick will find the hooded towels and hand one to Killian saying "Hereyogo."  (I notice Mick instinctively knows what belongs to Killian. "Baby Kangaroo" is no questions asked, Killian's baby. Mick will find her and immediately hand it to Killian; doesn't even try to play with her. Both boys have special things that belong just to one of them. Mick's special animals are his doggies.)

Killian loves to play fairies by himself and with adults too, requesting, "Let's fight over colors! Make it blue! Make it pink!"

"We're fairies! Mick's Fauna and I'm Merriweather."


I love watching the big brother/little brother dynamic and how Mick will quickly catch on to what's going on. Oh, ok, we're doing a parade now. I'll do the trumpet. March march march.

Enjoying the boys' Labor Day parade today.

Mick is communicating so much now. He has a few little phrases, as I mentioned, "Hereyogo" and "I do!" He also sometimes says, "Thank you" which I think is crazy! He requests "snaaaaaaaaaack!" and "bar" and his favorite "Lara bar." He is becoming more independent, able to get his own spoon out of the drawer, move a kitchen chair across the floor to turn off the kitchen lights (that trick got old real fast!). He frequently will not want to sit in the stroller and wants to "walk." Lately he seems disappointed when we get into the car instead of going for a walk. Whenever I say, "What should we do today?," he says, "Papou" hopefully. Both boys LOVE going to "Papou's house!"

When we are at new places, Mick is usually the adventurous "GO GO GO!" kid, while Killian is more reserved. You can see this in the pictures below. Mick sees water fountains and immediately wants to go down there and run straight in, while Killian hangs back.

Picnic at Latta Park. Is that a splash ground down there? Holy sh*# it is a splash ground!

It was the same when we went to the beach (Myrtle). This was the first "beach" we visited at Lake Norman and Mick lead me straight to the water and wanted to put his feet in, while Killian hung back and observed.

Lake Norman "beach"


For Killian, the themes of the last month or so, (and I think anyone who has spent much time with Killian would agree), are 1) POOPY UNDYPANTS and 2) Bad Things.

I'll start with the Bad Things. Several times a day, we will hear, "Let's talk about bad things." This started when earlier this summer Killian witnessed someone being approached by a police officer. (We were in our car stopped at an intersection while driving to the airport.) I explained what getting arrested was and a reason or two why people get arrested. This was fascinating. The rest of the drive: "What are more bad things?"  As a result of this daily questioning, Killian can now explain: arson, littering, larceny, stealing, bank robbery, vandalism, and kidnapping. (We've talked about even more: fraud, embezzling, etc.) He likes to talk about arson the most because there is a house that was burned down in our neighborhood and he likes to walk over to see it and ask a million questions (well to be fair, the same few questions over and over again).

And yes, poopy undypants. Killian is exploring his sense of humor and all things poopy are funny right now. It seems "poopy undypants" is to a 3 year old what "that's what she said" is to a "grown-up." It's also interesting to see how he uses this humor in situations I feel he is experiencing some social anxiety (a new little girl approaches him at the park, someone new comes to our house, etc). So any new person to meet Killian this summer has experienced this.

Hanging out with this little man and hearing what's on his mind is my absolute favorite past time.

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It's been a good summer, Mick and Killian!



Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Happy Birthday, Luke!

Happy Birthday to my sweet brother, Luke!

Welcome to the teens!

I've loved watching you grow, Luke.

It's been absolutely beautiful watching you as an uncle.

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You are Killian's best friend.

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You are incredibly patient and kind with him. :-)

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We love you, Luke! Best wishes for a great year ahead!

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