Monday, March 30, 2009
Quality Time: As a stay-at-home mom it could be easy for me to just check this one off the list. "I spend all my time with my girls, I can't give them more time than I do, I'm good at this one!" But I think that quality time for Anna and Josie and Ruthie is time that I spend completely focused on them without other mommy distractions. Quality is especially time with each of them one-on-one without their sisters taking any of my attention away from the one that I am focusing on. That, my friends, is hard to do. This week there were a few days when Anna didn't take a nap. Sometimes that is hard for me because getting them all down for a nap at the same time is one of my highlights. I actually get some time for me! But the time that I was able to spend with Anna was precious time. We played Go Fish and a few other just mommy and Anna things and we both loved it. I find I have to be very intentional and creative and it takes a lot of energy for me to find the space in our lives to spend time with just one daughter at a time.
Acts of service is another way of expressing love that seems at first glance to be easy for me. I feel like I am serving my girls all the time. Serving them feels like all I do sometimes. But then I realized that for me there is a difference between acts of service that are just my daily responsibilities and acts of service that are extra ways that I put in extra effort to serve them. In our house there are things that are Anna and Josie's responsibility to do and things that are my responsibility to do. When I need them to do something that is their responsibility to do I tell them to do it, I don't ask them to do it. Anna is responsible for getting herself dressed every morning. When it is time for her to get dressed I tell her that. I don't just ask her to. There are things, like changing diapers, that are my responsibility to do as a mom. Sometimes when I am changing Ruthie's diaper I ask Anna or Josie if they want to do me a favor by bringing me the diaper. They usually love to help out in little ways like that. But it is always something I ask them to do and they have the option of saying no to the request because it is something that is completely and totally my responsibility to do. When they do choose to help me out with something that is my responsibility to take care of then they are serving me, then they are showing me love and I try and express to them that I really appreciate what they are doing. I want them to know how it feels to show love like that, how right they feel inside when they serve. When they obey me and take care of something that is their responsibility to take care of, that is great but it is not an act of service. When I make lunch for the girls I am doing something that is my responsibility to do, it is not an act of service in a going above and beyond the call of duty sort of way that they will receive as love. It is an expectation in our daily life although done with a lot of love on my part. When they are doing something that is their responsibility to do, like getting themselves dressed, and they ask me for help, I can choose to help them or I can choose not to. When I choose to help them in those duties that they know are their responsibility to do then that feels like I am truly serving them and I can see in how they respond to me doing those acts of service that they do feel loved and nurtured by that.
Physical touch is a way of expressing love that seems extremely important to young children, especially babies who don't have a separate identity from their mothers yet. In our household with three girls aged three and under there are constantly needs that need to be met from the moment the first one wakes up in the morning until the last one is finally asleep at night. Despite this pressure to do, do, do, I find that making sure I take the time to sit with each of the older girls each morning (one at a time) until they decide they have had enough snuggle time and climb out of my lap on their own goes a long way towards meeting their need for physical love each day. If I rush that time and try to move them on before they are ready to move on (breakfast has to be made, laundry needs to get started, I want a shower before Mitch walks out the door...) I find I pay for it later with little girls who are fussier and clingier than usual and just want to be up all day, their way of making sure their need to be close to me is met. I have also found that my baby carriers are invaluable. They are one item on the endless list of 'stuff you supposedly need to buy for your baby' that does actually seem important to me. They truly help me to be a better mother. I love my Ergo backpack for that reason, I can carry any one of our three girls on my back or front and still go about my day getting the endless list of chores done that makes our household function. It allows mothering and the domestic arts to go hand in hand. Wearing my girls (hopefully one at a time) allows my girls to feel loved even when I feel overwhelmed by all the stressors of life and don't feel like I can just stop and hold the one that needs to be held. Wearing Ruthie allows me to hold her and be responsive to her needs even as I keep moving to meet the needs of the older two and do all the tasks in my day that require two hands (laundry, chopping veggies for dinner, changing Josie's diaper...) Another thing that feels like it helps meet their need to be close to me is cosleeping. I love our big family bed! We have a queen size bed and a twin size bed right next to each other in our room that we all sleep on. Our room is basically one big bed:) It feels like this is what allows Mitch and me to continue parenting our girls in the way that we want to (responding to them when they need us, letting them be physically close to us when they need to...) even at night and still get the sleep we need. When they wake up at night they can roll over and feel our warm, sleeping bodies right next to them and they can go right back to sleep feeling safe, secure and loved even at night. (For tips on safe bedsharing check out: http://www.mothering.com/articles/new_baby/sleep/family-bed-safety.html )
Verbal affirmation, telling them I love them, is something it is easy for me to forget. Of course I love them! But I find that it is so easy for a day to slip by without telling them so. Coming from a 'Deeds, not Words' family where the emphasis was more on showing love means it is especially easy for me to forget how important it is for Anna and Josie and Ruthie to hear me say "I love you." But every time I tell them and see their responsive grin and how they cuddle up to me I am reminded that they do care. They do need to hear it. It does contribute to their feeling of well-being, to their physical, emotional and spiritual health.
Gifts are hard in our family because neither Mitch nor I are good gift givers. More 'stuff ' is not a very high value of ours nor do we have much money to spend on gifts or often have the time, hands and money it takes to make gifts. But it is another way in which our girls receive our love. So the little bit of time we do find to devote to making gifts is usually spent on making gifts for our girls, sorry to all of you who haven't received a gift from us in the last number of years:). I think that kids are natural gift givers. Our girls love to tell me who each of their creations are for and sometimes I am able to get those creations to their intended recipients.
It feels like all of these things are pieces of what contribute to our girls feeling a sense of rightness inside themselves, a sense of security, a foundation with which to approach the world, a confidence in themselves and joy in the world around them. I love the smiles on their faces when they feel these things inside themselves. I love seeing them share that love with each other and with others around them, modeling how they see us loving them. It is good for me to remind myself of what I am trying to do, of how I want to love them each day in the ways that Mitch and I have chosen to parent our girls.
Saturday, March 28, 2009
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Ruthie was awake when we first came outside but then she promptly went to sleep and missed seeing the creek:
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
You can tell by Josie's perkiness that she is feeling much better today. Still not 100% and she hasn't eaten much, but I did get her to drink quite a bit by having a tea party!
Anna didn't take a nap today, but then she fell asleep on the couch listening to a tape of Beatrice Potter stories at 5 pm. (Why do they call it tape, Mommy?)At dinner Josie insisted we put Pooh Bear inside her shirt on her back because she wanted to carry him that way and keep him close to her. Interesting that just lately I have started carrying Ruthie on my back in the backpack, too, instead of just in front. Monkey see, monkey do. How much of what we learn in life is actually formally taught to us and how much is picked up by watching the people around us? Tonight as I was in putting Josie to sleep we could hear Ruthie start crying out in the living room. Josie told me "Ruthie wants Mommy, I think you need to go get her, Mommy. She wants to lie right here with us, too." So I did, and two girls fell asleep at the same time, content with their mommy. Anna and Josie are learning so much about mothering right now as they watch me mother little Ruthie (and them). They are sensitive to their sister's cries and understand her nonverbal cues about what she wants and needs and mimic those same things in their play. They make my heart happy:)
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Sunday, March 22, 2009
-Ready to work in the garden
Saturday, March 21, 2009
-It is amazing to me that little Ruthie stays asleep after I put her to bed at night and doesn't wake up 5 minutes later.
-The worm that Josie found:
Friday, March 20, 2009
Here's Anna enjoying the feel of gooey fingerpaint on her hands making a three year old creation.
Here she is again joined by Josie and our neighbor, Sophie June.
Then the sidewalk chalk got pulled out. I'm not sure what was more covered in chalk by the end, the girls or the sidewalk.
This is my favorite, Josie helping me water the garden. We've got onions, spinach, lettuce, chard and kale all coming up on the warm south side of our building along with our herbs that made it through the winter.
What is this? Was this the most comfortable position for a nap for Anna? I guess she must have thought so since she slept the whole time like that.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Monday, March 16, 2009
And then I remembered the stretch and fold method of making bread! It is perfect (for me)! You can take almost any bread recipe that requires kneading and by utilizing the stretch and fold method you take out the need to knead. It is a method of making bread where you mix the ingredients, let the dough sit for 45 min., stretch it out into a large, flat rectangle and then fold it into thirds in both directions, let it sit 45 more minutes and repeat the stretch and fold 2 more times before forming it into a loaf and putting it into the pans for the final rise. Viola! Bread that has a texture even better than what most people get by kneading it. For a more in depth lesson including videos check out http://www.sourdoughhome.com/
I have had some requests for my bread recipe so here it is:
- 2 c. starter
- 2 tsp. salt
- 4 T melted butter or oil
- 4 T honey or sugar
- 1 1/2 c. water or milk (it rises better if you warm the milk a bit)
- 4 1/2 c. flour (whole wheat or white)
That is my basic recipe. It makes two loaves. Usually I use oil, water, honey and whole wheat flour, but it is yummier the other way around. The stretch and fold method works better with at least some white flour, but 100% whole wheat works as well, you just have to do a few more stretches and folds (not just the three). I mix all the ingredients, knead it until it passes the windowpane test (a golf ball size piece can be stretched out into a square 'windowpane' that you can see light through without it tearing or getting holes in it). Cover and let it rise until doubled, punch it down, form it into loaves and place in greased bread pans or baking stone, let rise again until doubled, bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes or so, remove from pans and let bake another 5 minutes until crust is well browned. For the stretch and fold-no knead method check out the above website. If you're doing 100% whole wheat it usually takes me 5 stretches and folds before it will pass the windowpane test. This is our 'everyday' bread. It uses a sourdough starter to rise the bread as opposed to dried yeast, but does not have a sour flavor like a San Francisco sourdough unless you let it rise too long. (We have a recipe for San Francisco sourdough as well, or see the above website.)
Saturday, March 14, 2009
The girls got a new Djembe drum yesterday so our Friday evening was spent making music and dancing. The Djembe is what they wanted to get with the money that various people that love them had given them for Christmas and birthdays recently. They wanted this particular one because you can wear it around your neck and play while you dance or march. I can't imagine why my little girls would want a drum that they can dance with!? Mitch even pulled out his guitar last night! It has been good to see Mitch feeling not as exhausted and overwhelmed at this point in his semester as he has in every other semester. That has been one of our biggest blessing lately. Enjoy this little video from our evening!
Anna playing the Djembe:
After such a fun evening we decided to continue the fun and ended up going to the zoo today. It was enjoyable by all (I think Ruthie enjoyed her nap). It was Josie's first time to the zoo since she was old enough not to be sleeping through it all and I think the immensity of some of the animals was a new thing for her creative mind. Anna would have stayed all day if she didn't have a little sister who was ready for a nap by 1 pm.
Thursday, March 12, 2009
Some days mothering seems like the most intimidating of occupations, if you can even call it an occupation. A calling, a privilege, a fact of life and nature, a way of being... Today I looked at Anna and Josie and was struck by the weight and responsibility of raising them to reach their full potential as healthy individuals. I was wearing a bandana this morning, and of course they wanted to too. They mimick everything I do. They carry their dolls around in slings and moby wraps of their own making, they nurse their babies, they lay them down to sleep and lay with them, they cook and garden and take out their pretend compost... Their whole day is spent watching what I do, learning, taking it all in. What an incredible gift and responsibility. What a lot to live up to. The blessing of raising them is one of my greatest joys. But on the days that I am down or overwhelmed I feel sorry for them that they have to put up with me and all my quirks and I wonder what scars or disfunctions they will carry into adulthood with them. I guess that is part of being human. Part of being a part of a family. I just have to look at the smiles on their faces and the peacefulness of Ruthie's face as she sleeps in the sling and I find some reassurance in the pure joy of just getting to be with them today.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
The dialogue, if it's hard to understand, is "Thank you for the bear puzzle! Thank you for the playdough! And we're coming in our boxes to visit you!" They loved the package you sent and how you colored it all. Did you notice how they colored their boxes, just like you did?
Here they are playing with the puzzle you sent
And here they are playing in the box again. They wanted me to tape the boxes shut so they could mail themselves to your house and come and visit you!
Here's Boulder weather for you. Barefoot playing in the sun yesterday, coats and cozy mittens today. 19 degrees out.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
As I was putting her to bed tonight she started talking about her scrape on her knee. "Jesus is not healing my body, Mommy. He's just healing my leg." I asked her if she wanted to pray about God healing her knee. "Yeah, I want to pray about that." I told her she could say 'God, please heal my owie and make it all better.' So Josie said "God, Thank you for my owie and thank you for my bandaides." Out of the mouth of babes...
Here's Ruthie's day:
First this. Sweet sister time.
And then this.
And finally, "Mommy, Wuffie's awake!"
Monday, March 9, 2009
Look who just turned two! My favorite two year old in the world, Josie Joy Clement! All right, I'll admit I'm slightly predjudiced, but I plan to stay that way. Her birthday was last Friday, March 6th. We had a dance party with a few of her little friends and their jammin' parents. What do Anna and Josie like to do? They love to dance! I think they could dance all day! They didn't stop as long as we kept the music rolling! Daddy'O (as they love to call him) made a great DJ and dance partner. You can't beat dancing to Huckleberry Flint! Josie had a great time, which was the ultimate point, in my opinion.
Anna decided to dance the whole time with a balloon in her mouth. She kept telling us to look at how much bigger her balloon was because she was blowing it up. Their absolute favorite song to dance to right now is Aiken Drum (sorry Huckleberry Flint, you're a close second). Since the songs goes: "and he played upon a ladle, a ladle, a ladle, and he played upon a ladle and his name was Aiken Drum" they always find a ladle and play it through the whole song.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY JOSIE!!!
We were camping last summer in northern Colorado and were spending some time along a creek digging our toes into the mud. I made a comment to Anna along the lines of, "What happens if a plant grows in the dirt between your toes?" and thus began my career as silly song writer for kids (so far limited to this moment of inspiration). By the time we had returned to the car this song had been born. Katie and my mom have been trying for a while to get me to post a video of it. I have to apologize that the video does not quite display the enthusiasm the song deserves (the song is typically performed with much more exuberance in our household), but it is all we have for now.