Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Soaking in Stratego

You know whose team he's on....Songbird is Blueberry's main squeeze. He calls her "I" - and he says it loud and proud. All day long I hear him calling, "I!" "I!" "I!" Today "I" and her boyfriend spent the bulk of the day playing games with Blueberry and with each other. The little one was soaking up the games and was particularly enraptured with Stratego. Sadly, "I" lost to MathMan every time, and claimed distraction as her  defense. He is so darn cute (the baby, I mean!).

Game ON!

This year's family game is Tsuro - dragons, paths, up to 8 players, and takes about 30 minutes.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Boyz n' NFL Ticket

Seahawks vs. Packers = a perfect family showdown

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

A Tradition of Sleeping Round the Tree

The biggies sleeping around the tree. The picture was shot at 6 a.m. I'm up and making coffee. 6:30 a.m. the baby is up and ready to play. But, they insist on sleeping in the middle of it all. Sweet tradition.

Monday, December 21, 2009

6 Sillies and a Dog - Holiday Photo 2009

Herbie the Dog, Songbird, Ms. Plum, Mr. SillyPants, Waffles, Twinkletoes, and Blueberry - 2009

Sunday, December 20, 2009

This is NOT a Charlie Brown Christmas (Tree)

A whole day of just way too much fun. The goal of the biggies is to disregard aesthetics and to convince the adults to agree to the biggest and fattest tree on the farm. They beat their previous record and we brought home a 14 foot monstrosity! Our day started at 9 with a Twinkletoes UW-Madison pick up (she's still in the midst of finals), hot drinks for everyone at the local coffee shop, and a trek to our all time favorite tree farm. We arrived, dog and toddler in tow, to a perfectly beautiful morning - and we had the run of the tree farm. We played chase with the dog, we took a holiday family photo, and we threw plenty of snowballs (or snow masses, if you check out the first picture). Tree hunting is NOT serious business, until our tree CEO approves  "this tree is fat enough and big enough?" Twinkletoes is large and in-charge of tree approval and after inspection she gives the final word. This year Blueberry had fun for *most* of the adventure outside. I have to say, once inside he was all over the ladder. Up, down, and all around. This kid can climb - he climbed to the top time and time again. Eggnog and silliness continued. For the record, we have no room for company as the tree now occupies the entire house. And, sleeping under the tree commences tonight.  3,000 lights...and lots of memroies....2009

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Wordless Wednesday - and a few words about the autoclave

These are the families an autoclave would serve at Bechina Clinic.
Please read the post below and help me find and autoclave.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

All I Want For Christmas is an Autoclave!

Yep, I'm serious. This is what I want.

It's for the Bechina Clinic. Bechina is a clinic that serves about 500,000 patients a year. They need an autoclave. They need to steralize reusable needles, medical instruments, and guaze. The Clinic is the project of my friend, Mulu. Mulu is a nurse. She's Ethiopian. This is the Clinic that serves her home community in Gojjam Province (near Bahir Dar).

A few years ago Mulu began a non-profit, Clinic At A Time to provide assistance to Bechina Clinic. Watch their YouTube video HERE . I'm inspired to help. Infection is the number 1 cause of morbidity and mortality in Ethiopia (and resource limited countries more generally). An autoclave sterilizes equipment to prevent the spread of infection through medical equipement itself; needles, guaze, medical instruments all get steralized in an autoclave.

Once we get an autoclave, we'll start filling a shipping container with medical supplies - and that's a piece we will work on covering next. Shipping a container costs about $8000 - but we MUST have an autoclave in the container. Bechina desperately needs an autoclave. They identified this need as priority #1 right now.

Anyone, anyone - an autoclave? Readers who are dentists, scientists, medical workers - look around! I know there are autoclaves at university swap shops, in back rooms at dentist offices, unused in labs....Check your university swap shops, ask your friends and neighbors. All of this is, of course, tax deductible through  Clinic At A Time.

Let's find one!
ETA: a rich auntie would do fine, too - because I know where to buy one!

Monday, December 14, 2009

From Hurricane to Skippy - It's a Toddler Thang!

Tons of balloon play is happening in the house. Blueberry has amazing hand-eye coordination and we celebrate his delight in using his body with balloons. Normally we blow them up and then hit them around the house using a child sized tennis racquet. Blueberry can swing away pretty darn well. Lately he has been experimenting with his hands, feet, and doing headers with a balloon. It's good stuff and it tires him out.

In my last post I mentioned we were referring to our little boy as "Hurricane." Somehow, just when I was at the bottom of the barrel this little guy swung  full circle. The other night Mr. Silly Pants commented, "He's so skippy!" It's true - and oh my gosh, what a relief! Oodles and oodles of smiles are so much more fun than the alternative. Of course, I know the winds of change are blowin' - and Blueberry's doin' the toddler thang!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Communication to The Biggies - Please Read

Dear Twinkletoes, Waffles, and Songbird,
Your little bro is a total hurricane of "NO" and "MINE" and "YOU'RE NOT DOING THAT THE WAY I WANT YOU TO!" (He doesn't talk, so this message is all conveyed very loudly through yelling, yanking on my arm, pulling my hand, crying, and occassional full body throw downs accompanied by alligator tears).  Seriously, I feel like I am parenting a hurricane! Plan on helping your 'ol mom out over winter break, K? The well only runneth so deep.
Love, Mommy

Snow Day!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Here, There, and Everywhere

We've had some really doozy days around here with Blueberry. Lots of complaining. Lots of giggling. Lots of smiles. Plenty of tears. Bountiful objections. Fun followed by not so much fun.
Very intense behavior - all day, all the time. I'm wiped out. Blueberry is eating/grazing non-stop (and the diapering is endless!).  He wants to play in the sink, he wants to play outside, he wants to eat, he wants to sit in a different chair, he yells "mine!" "NO!" at every opportunity. He wants to snack while sitting outside in his sled while I pull him around. What????  I hope this little 'blip' doesn't blip too much longer - because it is hard to be 'good' all the time when a little person is contantly shifting gears; going from tugging on my arm and pulling my hand to his next desire, to throwing himself down with abandon over some 'wrong.'  Whew. I'm looking forward to the next shift for Blueberry- because if I can count on anything, I can count on change. Today, change is welcome!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Sorta Solo Pseudo Single Parenting and Covenants

I've blogged before about the realities and my reflections about raising teenage children who are part of two homes - their dad's and mine. And, add a little toddler to the mix, the child of my husband and myself, and we've got a tapestry of relationships and parenting styles that is pretty darn interesting.

I'm lucky - our blended family is darn functional. We've worked to keep the dysfunction in the adult realm, and tried to maintain healthy and happy biggies. We all live in the same neighborhood. We're walking distance from Harley (that's what we'll call my X on account of his obsession with Harley bikes). My  husband, Mr. Silly Pants, is a friend and very generous adult in the lives of the biggies. He's super - we've grown as a family ourselves since he came into our lives. The depths of this have deepened since we brought our beloved little one into our family. I love being a family of 6.

It's also true that I do a lot of parenting in a pseudo solo space. I say that because I feel like a lot of the parenting I do with the biggies I do in my own space. This is by choice - I'm their mom. I don't want Silly Pants to parent the biggies and they certainly don't want him to parent them. Plus, my biggies have a dad. So, I parent the biggies pretty much on my own. Harley and I cooperate on critical items; common curfew, frequent dialogue about big items (college expenses, sports teams), and we have united fronts on big issue topics (drinking, drugs, dating). Communication lines are open, but most of the time I do my parenting in a more, rather than less, solo way. My opinion is that I do the bulk of the "parenting" in the context of my divorce.

My 'opportunities' to parent are different with each child. I think that's the way it is with children. This isn't a one size fits all family. For instance, Twinkletoes, who is now 19  live(d) here full time, at least up until she started college. For good reasons, about 5 years ago she stopped doing shared placement and stayed here full time. Thus, this was an obvious solo parenting experience. Living with me full time was the right decision for her. She's a super independent, focused, and self-disciplined young woman - so not much parenting required. Even though this is the case, presence has always been important with Twinkletoes. She's grown into an amazing young woman in my presence. Presence: that's the covenant of being a parent, in my opinion (and experience). Songbird is 21 now. She's a joyful, happy, gentle spirit and old soul. Parenting her has been about listening and being open and ready to receive her wisdom and insight. While my parenting didn't involve too many interventions, the experience with her has been close and emotionally lively. Listening: another one of the covenants of parenting.

Waffles brings up the biggie rear. I've got  a fresh parenting story about Waffles. He's a great kid. He's my first boy. For a long time I thought he'd be my only boy. I've always called him my pudding. He is such a free spirit with such a laugh and a sense of fun and silly. I'm crazy about this boy.  I'm more 'in' the parenting space with Waffles. And, although he is 17, he's still under the parental radar on lots of issues. Case in point. Today was the day we decided to get him a new snowboard. He had picked out a board - Rome Artifact. It was the board he wanted. He liked the quality, he liked the brand, the price was great at his board shop. The graphics/content didn't matter to him. In fact, in lots of ways he didn't "see" it, and at least not the way I did. It mattered to me. I said no to this board. He didn't flinch (much). So, one of the covenants of parenting is saying "no." There was no backup for this parenting moment. There was no feedback. Just my boy and me - working it out.

It's what my sorta solo pseudo single parenting gig looks like. It's all good.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Where is ______________ ( fill in the blank); Singing Comfort in the Night

Every night I soak up the opportunity to hold and snuggle my little boy. I put him to bed with a warm bottle,  a rocking chair, his blankie, and singing. I always end with the same song. This post is about the last song.

I sing the final song to the tune of "Where is Thumbkin?", but I make up my own lyrics. I remember singing this song to Waffles when he was a little boy. I'd sing "Where is ____" and fill in the blank with the names of his cousins, friends, and grandparents. I'd make up lyrics and Waffles always loved the routine of his special bedtime song.

Like big brother like little brother - Blueberry snuggles into me, sighs, and I can feel his contented spirit when I sing. He just loves this "Where Is?" song. I have often thought this song anchors my littlest boy in his world, just like it anchored my biggest boy in his world. And yet, for him the anchor necessarily different. Blueberry lives in a house with big kids who come and go in ways I imagine must sometimes perplex Blueberry. So I sing. I sing order, routine, and security into his night and on into his day.

The reality is that Twinkletoes and Songbird are at college. They come home sometimes. They come home for holiday breaks. But, they essentially live away from home. And Waffles only lives with us part time. Every two weeks Waffles leaves and doesn't return until two weeks later. We might see him during the time he's with his dad, and we make good efforts to see him, and him us, but this is hit and miss. Our cat is even a 'shared' pet. I try to make sense of Blueberry's revolving house door with song.

Here are examples of my silly, made up, amateur, goofy lyrics. (To the tune of Thumbkin - more or less)

"Where is Songbird? Where is songbird? She's in college, she's doing homework. Songbird is in college, she is reading books and working hard, we miss her."

"Where is Herbie? Where is Herbie? He's sleeping now, on the floor. Herbie is a good dog, he ran and played today, now he's tired, he's asleep." 

"Where is Grandma? Where is Grandma? She's at home, on the island. Grandma is reading her book, it is a dark night, she's going to bed soon, just like you."

I go on and on...anchoring, making familiar, finding ways to tell a little boy it's ok to go to sleep, just like everyone he loves and everyone who loves him. I mention the boys with whom he stays when I work, the friend we walk with every Thursday, our playgroup friends, my sister and brother and their kids.

It's our routine, and WE LOVE IT!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

When The Family Effort at a Holiday Picture Looks Like Ghosts and Ghouls

We'll try some shots another day, but everyone won't be home again until December 23rd!

Goodness gracious - they  are so awful they make me laugh.