Thursday, December 5, 2013

Throwback From Above

Throwback #fromabove

Family nap after returning home from the hospital with Mick in 2011 and after Killian returned from his first sleepover away from home.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Fall Fun

Spantaneous leaf-raking turned into a circus act with mom =)

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Another view of the launch into the leaf pile.

Boys at Play

One unexpected joy I have as a parent is watching my kids play. Of course, I'm not talking about when they're running around the house and around our small kitchen when I am trying to cook, loudly making weapon and superhero sounds. I'm talking about how much joy it brings me to see them be quietly engaged in their play :)

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From drawing at his deck...

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...to answering the phone at the fire department and then having a two-way conversation with the caller.

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Montessori School Update

At the top of my gratitude list most days is Killian’s Montessori school. I love all the rituals involved with the school that raise his self-confidence and transform him from little boy to confident big kid. I cherish briskly walking behind him in the morning, as he scooters himself to school in the morning. I love how I always now need to remind him to pause to give me a hug before he runs inside the school and down those big elementary-school sized halls (that he was so timid to enter by himself the first couple weeks of school). I love that he is always beaming when he runs up to me after school. He always asks, “Can we go to the park?” And “Did you bring my scooter?” I love the after-school park tradition that has started, hanging out at Clemson Park with other NoDa and Highland Mill and families and getting to know a really great group of parents of kids. After school at the park
(Overwhelmingly for the most part), I love what Killian is learning inside his classroom. To hear how proud he is to tell me that he gave a lesson to another pre-k student and how he gives me lessons as well. He is, of course, learning great academic material (drawing letters), but it is the grace and courtesy he exudes when giving me a lesson that makes me so happy for him, whether it is how to draw an ant colony, or write the letter P. His enthusiasm is growing as he explores new things. Last night he read a comic book for the first time (he brought it home from the school library), and also wanted to read a scientific book about the universe, followed by his old favorites, Curious George and Cinderella.

He brought a comic book home from the school library... He is turning into such a BIG KID before my eyes. And after he read the comic book, he wanted me to read him Cinderella. Phew.
There is one aspect of his school that has given Mike and I pause, and we’re not thrilled about it, but we’re hoping is small in the grand scheme of things. His teacher (or school) uses a rewards-based system. I realize this is a very normal for schools, but it wasn’t really until we heard Killian talk about it, that we realized how foreign this system is for us and for him. Each student has a “good behavior” punch card and when all the holes are punched, they get a prize.

We’ve spent the last few years trying to figure out and implement positive discipline at home and most of that effort has been focused on figuring out how to best discipline (teach) without being either permissive or punitive, focusing on solutions instead of punishment, and communication and problem solving skills. The discipline side of positive discipline. There is another aspect of positive discipline that I don’t think of often, which is using encouragement instead of rewards. Mike and I have both needed to put a lot of effort into disciplining without being overtly punitive, but not focusing on rewarding has come pretty natural. We were able to get through potty training using any bribery techniques or rewarding with treats, and honestly, the whole concept of rewards just feels weird to me. (Plus the research that shows providing external rewards can detract from a child’s internal motivation to do good or to accomplish things for themselves.)

So it was a bit disconcerting when Killian has been saying recently, “Mick, I’m going to give you a prize for being so good” and other talk of “if you do that, I will give you this.”

I’m glad it is leading to positive interactions with his brother, but I do like to remind him that prizes are something they might do at school, but we don’t use them at home, and when we do nice things for ourself or other people, it makes us feel good.

But overall, we are so grateful for the school and his teachers. And we're definitely not ready to home-school yet!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Fall Visit to Tina's Farm

Sometimes you just need to blow off work and spend a day on a farm in the mountains of North Carolina.

Sometimes you just have to blow off work and spend a day playing with your kids on a farm in the mountains.

Sheer joy (a tad terror)

Industrial pipe mountain slide

The boys have so much energy, sometimes I say I feel they could really use a day on the farm. Good thing we have a family member who currently works on a beautiful mountain farm!

I had me a vision...

That also has a seasonal corn maze...

Corn maze in the mountains

and a pumpkin patch, of course.

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A goat walking in the rafters is totally normal.

A goat walking in the rafters is totally normal.

Rope swing shenanigans. Not exactly sure what is happening with Mike's body in this picture.

Rope swing shenanigans. Not sure what's going on with Mike's body here.

Every barn needs a trike track.

Every barn needs a trike track.


It was a very chilly, but fun day at the farm. And the boys were so happy to see Tina!

It was a chilly, but a great, fun day at Tina's farm in Asheville.



Sunday, October 20, 2013

Wedding Weekend in Raleigh

Last weekend we attended the most thoughtful and beautiful wedding of two wonderful people.

We stayed with Beth at her new place in Raleigh. The boys were thrilled to have a sleepover with Aunt Bethie and Mike and I were thrilled to have some adult time - two nights in a row!

We were also able to have some family fun around Raleigh too - Pullen Park is great!

Bethie and Killian

Thanks for the pictures, Beth!

Halloween Pre-Gaming

We are getting excited for Halloween!

We get excited for Halloween.

Killian wanted to be Maleficent again this year. (He said that last year too but was distracted by a Cinderella costume in Target.) We could not find a kid's Maleficent costume - only sexy ladies', so Mike spent Saturday morning making Killian's Maleficent costume from black satin and purple velour fabric.  But we were able to buy the adult horns because Killian has an adult sized head apparently.

The making of Maleficent's cloak

The horns just happened to be delivered from amazon soon after Mike finished the cloak, and Killian couldn't wait to put it on. He headed straight outside and stood by the road, so that cars could see him. I was loving watching the amused faces driving by.

"Round King Stefan's castle..."  Maleficent is happening this year.

A very happy Mistress of All Evil:
A very happy Mistress of All Evil.


Halloween 2013

Also - Halloween Pre-Gaming is not complete without this 1982 Disney Halloween special. I enjoyed watching one of my favorite childhood videos with Killian this weekend: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iZ-Gol7gUrg


Wall of Whimsy

A couple years ago, a friend in Oregon took some pictures of a fair that I loved. The colors were just perfect. I finally got around to asking for the raw files, so I could print them to add some color to our walls. I thought it would be fun to fill the house with art and photographs from people we actually know. I procrastinated several weeks in deciding how/what size to print these and then Mike saw 2 more great fair pics in his instagram account and asked his buddy for those files as well. The two sets of photos worked so well together.

The result... is a Wall of Whimsy! I love what they do to our living room.

Wall of Whimsy. Photographs from 2 friends of Mike and I. I fell in love with some pics my friend Kyoko took at a fair in Oregon a couple years ago (top left and bottom right.) I was just about to get them printed when Mike saw the other 2 pics in his Ins

Thank you, Kyoko!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

stories for the scrapbook

There are some things I hear come out of my boys' mouths that make so proud.

Like when Killian said he wanted the next president to be a women because all of the other presidents so far had been men. (I had kinda set him up for that by telling him a few days before that we've never had a women president - he was surprised.)

Or when Mike started talking about bacteria, and Killian quickly interrupted with, "Good bacteria or bad bacteria?"  The fact that he knows to ask that question!

Or the time Mike asked Killian if he wanted to watch a skateboarding video and Killian said, "No. I'd like to see a picture of mold."  (!)

And when Mike talks to Killian about what they'll study when we buy a microscope, Killian actually comes up with good ideas of what to look at under the microscope!

Mike gets all the credit for the boys' enthusiasm for science. Mike will read pages and pages to Killian from "The Way Things Work" and other science books we have in the house and enthusiastically explain pretty much any concept that Killian asks questions about.

And there are some other things that come out of my boys' mouth that make my heart swell. The biggest tearjerker I already wrote about last year when Killian asked me if I just needed a hug when I was having a cranky moment. And there are so many smaller, but still significant moments too, that I don't want to forget about.

At bedtime, a sleepy Killian rolling over to put his arm around me and saying, "I love you, Mommy" before falling asleep. In the early morning, a groggy Killian rolling over to stroke my arm, and saying in a comforting voice, "It's ok, Mommy, it's ok."  (I'm not sure why he comforts me like this sometimes - I suspect he might be having a dream, but his instinct has been to say re-assuring words to me.)

Mick announcing unprompted, "I love you Mommy!" in the middle of Papou's (I mean Pa-Poof's) magic set, and all the other times he says "I love you Mommy! I love you too, Daddy!" unprompted throughout the day. He always includes both of us if we are both present.

How in the middle of a standard, busy evening, Killian will occasionally just look at me and say, "Can we just go chat on the couch?" How at this age, he still just enjoys the simple act of spending time together and chatting.

Mick's eagerness to give hugs. And when he's too busy, he'll give us a "tiny hug" if we request it (which is him just leaning his forearms into us), but then he'll often then say, "Big hug too!" and give us his big squeezes he's famous for.

I always try to to tell the boys when I am enjoying an activity with them, or just had a fun experience with them, as a way to practice gratitude and mindfulness too. "I'm enjoying being with you right now, Mick" is something I hear myself say often.

Last night, we weren't doing anything really out of the ordinary (so much so that I can't even remember what exactly we were doing at the kitchen table - eating?), but Mick suddenly said, "I'm having fun sitting on your lap, Mommy." That made me heart just melt to hear Mick (at age 2) acknowledge that he is enjoying the present moment.

I'm having so much fun with you right now, Mick and Killian :)

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Friday, October 4, 2013

October!

After this past month, it was unanimously decided that September is the best month of the year. The weather here in Charlotte was beautiful. I enjoyed having the windows open and the warm and sunny afternoons at the park after school with Killian.

October is shaping up to be a pretty good month too. The boys put together a fire pit last weekend and we're looking forward to breaking it in this weekend.

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Also... Halloween! The boys are already excited. I stole the Oriental Trading Halloween catalogue from my parents' house and Killian has been perusing it with great interest. This morning Mick wanted to look at it too and was fighting over it, so I pulled it up online for him, and they were both perusing scary costumes and decorations side-by-side. So cute.

Killian wants to be Maleficient again this year. He had said that last year too, but then changed his mind when he saw a Cinderella costume in Target. But this year, I'm sure he's sticking with it, so we need to start working on his costume.

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Thursday, September 26, 2013

Going Green Without Grass

I've had a hankering for a no-grass front-yard landscape for awhile. I think I was just waiting to be referred to the right person & company before getting started.

Our front yard didn't look too shabby before. It was definitely green and lush, but the flower bed area was definitely overgrown. I was sad to take down the crepe myrtle tree, but it was eventually going to grow into the power lines, it blocked the house, and it was in the way of the newly designed pathways to both driveways.

Before...

And the after: cleaned up flower bed (some existing plants stayed), new flowers, 2 geometrically shaped pathways to both driveways, and pebbles in the place of grass. Our house really seems to "pop" now.

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At first the front yard looked so stark compared to what it was previously. I took this picture of my sisters the day before the landscaping began. I love crepe myrtles, but this one just wasn't placed right, especially given the power lines.

Sister date!


Killian in August:
Savoring the last bits of summer

However, the clean look has definitely grown on me. I love having a solid path to each driveway. And I love not having the grass to mow and feeling like it constantly looks shabby or overgrown.
Front yard chillin'

Mick and some of our new flowers...
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which he has enjoyed watering daily!
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Friday, September 20, 2013

Romare Bearden

Love this city. #uptown #clt

Evening at Romare

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Charlotte just got a beautiful new "interactive" park, because Charlotte is awesome!

The park is located where parking lots used to be behind the TradeMark building.

It's named "Romare Bearden" after a local artist. The park opened Labor Day Weekend for Romare's birthday (9/2), which just so happens to be my birthday too, so the city of Charlotte really hooked me up this year!

Danger Duo Update

This month has flown by!

In general, Monday - Friday is a blur. I try to fit most of my 8 hour work day into the slightly less than 7 hours I have in between dropping Killian off at school and picking him up, so the days really fly by.

Everyone is enjoying their new work and school routines. Killian won't talk about any details of what he does in his new Montessori classroom. I hear a lot of "I don't know" and "I don't remember" but there is no doubt that he is happy there and the environment has had a positive impact. Even though I don't hear specifics, he is so very happy (even joyous) when I pick him up from school. He comes running down the sidewalk to me every day with a huge smile on his face, and his disposition this past few weeks has been so agreeable and pleasant.

He signed up for his first extracurricular activity. The school sponsors a few different before and after school activities, such as swimming, karate, basketball, Spanish, and art. Killian chose art. On Friday after school, he takes a bus from school down the street to the NoDa YMCA for a special art class. He also has art once in a week during school as well.

Killian always used to come home from pre-school at Plaza Presby with sheets just like this:

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I always appreciated the colors, but didn't think much about the fact that he painted at school (just assumed that's what kids do), until other moms (of boys) commented on his paintings, saying how nice they were and how their boys didn't come home with artwork. So I realized his interest in art might be a little special and I'd love to encourage it.

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Killian: "This is the scrotum bottom." It's not a big deal...something like 8% of all kids do it. #mykidislikethatkidfromsuperbad

He has only been to one art class at the Y so far, and he was introduced to fuse beads, which was new to him. So I'm hoping he'll continue to be exposed to some new things!

Mick started "Open Door School," one of the city's oldest progressive pre-schools. He loves it (and so do we!) It is very similar to Montessori school and when you visit you'll see a peaceful environment with kids concentrating. Every week, he receives a new job, and he beams when he talks about his job that week, such as, feeding the birds.

Mick's been really into doing marble tracks at home lately.

Ahhhhh an engaged kiddo

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I returned to my Bank job after a 90-day mandatory leave over the summer (during which I worked part-time for my contracting company). I have a new role, am really enjoying it, and am extremely grateful every time I step out the door to pick up Killian at school at 4:15 that I have the flexibility to do that!

Mike continues to make awesome things at work and work himself out of a job! There may be a 2 year plan in place for him to start working reduced hours, so he can volunteer and be more involved with the kids' school and extracurricular activities :)

In other news, I have been sick for most of September and was diagnosed with bronchitis yesterday and given an antibiotic to prevent it from turning into pneumonia. (Asthma tends to make me prone to respiratory issues during the change of seasons.) In the middle of sinus and respiratory craziness over the past few weeks, I also had a full week of menopausal symptoms: hot flashes, night sweats, chills, aches, and general fever-like symptoms and disorientation. Turns out, when you are either pregnant or breastfeeding (or both) for the past 5 years, your hormones go a little haywire when your two-year old finally does completely wean. Surprisingly, there is little information about this on the Internet, but other women say they had this experience too. Filed under #themoreyouknow. So I am very much looking forward to returning to good health at some point in the near future!


Thursday, September 5, 2013

Mick Walker, Handsome Young Lad

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This face...

Somehow I didn't get a picture of the alpacas,  llamas, giraffes, zebras, longhorns, deers, potbelly pigs, rhinoceros, horses, or goats, but the kids had a blast at Lazy 5 Ranch today

Mick got his first professional haircut and actually enjoyed the experience too!

Who is this handsome young lad? He looks familiar, but I don't recognize him. @fayecheadle you have a $5 credit at Snip-it's now because I said Henry referred us.