Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The magic of 4

Brynn helped me cook dinner the other night.  She 'made' the rice...

She 'cut' the canteloupe...

And she enjoyed eating dinner more than she ever has before (or so she says)...

We sat down to dinner, around an hour later than my original plan...operating in 'summer' mode + having Brynn 'help' in any capacity = an inevitable delay in achieving your goal.  Brynn proceeded to inform everyone at the table of what she made (she also microwaved the peas, helped put the cut strawberries and blackberries into the bowl, and set the table...all things she later was annoyed at me for not documenting on camera), and then proceeded to say, "Mommy, you're welcome for making dinner" (followed by everyone else at the table).  She chattered the entire meal about how hard it was to make each thing, how much work she did, the steps involved in those steps, etc, etc, etc.  She chattered, and rambled, and chattered some more...checking in to see that everyone enjoyed each component of the meal as if she were the chef in a four-star fine dining establishment.  Randy and I exchanged amused glances throughout the entire meal (as we often find ourselves doing when Brynn pretty much does, well, anything.

I wish I could experience life through Brynn's eyes--just for one day.  I don't know that I could take more, or begin to comprehend more than that.  The other morning, she was in the nursery, keeping Raegan occupied while I took my time waking up and getting started for the day (have I mentioned I love the laziness of a summer morning?!).  She was talking to Gavin and said, "Gavin, I licked Raegan, and she tasted like glass".  Really?  Glass?  Of all things, glass?  She's a toddler...she most likely tastes like dirt, or milk, or some sort of a questionable sugary and most likely sticky item--syrup, lollipop, cookie, etc.  But no, in Brynn's world, she tastes like glass. 

There are times when I wish I could afford to keep a camera rolling on Brynn 24/7.  I always thought I'd be better at documenting all the funny things my kids say and do...and I am trying to do so with the blog...but with Brynn, I would need to hire an assistant to follow her around all day long (or, the assistant would do my housework, cooking, etc. so I could experience Brynn's world full force).

A parent of one of my former students once told me that there's nothing like the 4-year-old phase.  I figure he's a good resource, seeing as how he has six children.  As we're raising Brynn, I'm beginning to wonder if she's going to spend more time than the average child in the '4-year-old' phase.  I know she's only 4 for one year, but I feel like she's one of those kids who will eternally see the world through 'kid eyes'--even into adulthood.  In some ways, I sure hope so...because I know that she'll create magic in whatever she does, but in other ways, the 'mom' side of me fosters a bit of apprehension at the thought, knowing that the world she's going to grow up will be placing many demands on her.  Either way, I know she's going to thrive, succeed, kick some tush, and look adorable while doing so.  I mean, really, who can resist those curls?! :)

Saturday, June 16, 2012

our newest 'neighbors'

A few weeks back, I noticed that the column on our front porch started 'collecting' bird droppings.  When I looked up, I saw the early stages of the construction of a bird's nest.  We opted to let nature be nature and not disrupt the plans of this budding little birdie family.

I've been checking in on this momma bird daily, and had noticed her spending a lot of her time, well, 'nesting'.  I didn't want to bug her and be nosy, so I just observed from inside the house, pointing out the 'tweet tweet' to the kids.

Earlier this week, I noticed momma bird had 'flown the coop', so I climbed up on a stepstool to discover her sweet little chickies had hatched! 

The nest is too high for the kids to really see, so each day, I've been climbing up on the step stool to snap some photos so we can watch their little transformations.  Momma bird is usually close by, on the eaves of our neighbor's house, and I don't stay long.  Randy thinks I'm crazy, because he grew up in 'actual nature', so he doesn't quite see my excitement over these cute little babies--espeically my little friend who seems to like the camera best...

The kids have named her 'Chirpy' :)

There appear to be five little birds, however out of the five, I think the Brynn best represents Chirpy.  Always in the front of the nest, head peering out to observe what's going on in the world around the quaint little nest.  There are two other babies who seem to be pretty chill, one on each side of Chirpy, who are pretty similar to Gavin's personality.  Just sit back, relax, and every so often gain a little curiousity enough to peer his head out of the nest to check out the world.  Then, there's one toward the back of the nest, who strains her little neck so proud and tall, wanting to be just like Chirpy, only not in quite the right position to do so.  This would be the Raegan of the nest.  It's amazing how in the last few months, we have watched her transform from 'baby' to 'toddler', from 'learning' to 'I know this and can do it myself' (although, she still is learning...she likes to believe the latter!).

I find myself being like the momma bird at times...she hovered so much while they were little helpless eggs, leaving only rarely for her own nourishment needs.  Now, even in just this short week since the babies have hatched, she is venturing out for longer periods of time, trusting them to be able to rely on one another for support, and to be more independent.

I know that my kids and birds obviously have a very different rate of progression through the early stages of their lives into independent adulthood, but if you could correlate the timelines, I think they're pretty similar.

We're enjoying watching this progression of life each day, and the kids can't wait to open the door each day to wish the little family good morning and see the newest photos I take.  Randy has already made plans to craft some sort of a 'block' so this location will not become a possibility again next year for another bird family--his concern mainly being the effects of the bird droppings.  I see his point, but I also love watching this experience through the eyes of my kids.  I love that they get to see this little bit of God's miraculous work right on their front porch each day.

Hi Chirpy!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Pedulum Erin

If you've ever been to The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia and observed the Foucault Pendulum, you can begin to realize how a teacher feels as the school year draws to a close.  The pendulum not only sways back and forth, but also in various directions, making its way in a circular/spiral fashion back and forth, covering 360 degrees of the space in which it encompasses.  It's one of my favorite parts of the museum, and one metaphor I relate to as not only a teacher, but a mom, and, well...a woman.

Technically, if we're talking metaphors for how I have been operating as of late (eternally?), it would be more closely reminiscent of your classic pinball machine--bouncing back, forth, and all over in random fashion, making noise, *possibly* collecting points (thus meeting your objective) as you move along, and in the end...when you've lost all of your momentum and energy...when the coffee/chococlate/wine (a.k.a. the 'flippers') can no longer support your overworked and overtired collapse into the dark abyss, sleep (briefly), and (most often) sooner than you desire, you are catapulted back into the mix to do it all over again.  Yes...that seems much more accurate to how I have spent the last few weeks (months...) of my life.  I don't like it.

Therefore, I chose the Pendulum because of the nostalgia, the beauty, the 'fun' of it.  Sure, mommy/wife/teacher/sister/daughter/friend/etc. offers many destinations I need to reach in order to effectively fulfull my multitude of roles. However, the fluidity with which the Pendulum sways from one destination to the next is something I find myself aspiring to.  In my 'wiser' years, I've learned to become more reflective, and so I've pondered some ways in which I can reach my goal of being more like 'The Pendulum'.  Curently, my list isn't long.

Enter summer vacation.

ahhh....summer vacation.

Two sweet words that hold such promise in the heart of anyone so fortunate to be able to enjoy even a small pocket of time during the steamy, sun-drenched months that mark the end of yet another school year.  As a teacher, I of course have the privlege of multiple weeks of sweet, sweet, relaxing bliss.  A time for re-focusing, re-energizing, re-evaluating, and re-newing my perspective as an educator.  As a teacher/mom, summer time means the opportunity for some non-stop fun with my kiddies, days of 'nothingness', or my personal preference--a delicate balance of each of those.

Although school has been 'out for summer' since May 25th (for my students), I've been finding myself busy with moving my classroom, playing solo momma while Randy was in Vegas for my brother's bachelor party (during which time the kids and I wound up in Children's Hospital with Raegan, a wickedly high fever, rapid breathing, and a gnarly double ear infection), some time for personal transformation (turning 31 isn't easy), and most recently, an outstanding training for increasing student engagement in my classroom.  While the training was awesome, it was four full days of being a 'student' during what is supposed to be my summer break.

So, now that my training is over, I feel like I can officially commence with the summer activities, and ease into the fluid motion of the Pendulum, swaying gently around the roles of "cleaning/organizing" mommy to "running through the sprinkler and throwing water balloons" mommy to "enjoying a late night glass of wine, candlelight, and great conversation with my husband" wife to "tapas and sangria with my girlfriends" friend, to "swimming and sunscreen" mommy to "al fresco dinner planning" wife/mommy to "hot yoga" friend to "arts and crafts" mommy to "read for pleasure with a tall glass of iced tea" Erin.  All of those roles (and many more), are on my 'intentions' list for this summer.  Tomorrow, the kids and I will spend some time brainstorming, prioritizing, and organizing some lists and calendars for the upcoming weeks of summertime fun.

In my attempt to be less 'pinball-y' and more 'Pendulum-y', I've resourced my new guilty pleasure, Pinterest, to kick start, inspire, and help tame my (too-often) times of ADD.  One of my ultimate goals for the blog has always been to make it a living document for my kids, so they can have memories and stories captured 'in the moment', so they'll have things to laugh about and share around the dinner table years from now, just as my brothers and I so enjoy and look foward to doing when we get together, or call one another.

Being the 'people pleaser' that I am, I know that putting it in writing and making a commitment to myself, my kids, and any other person who happens to find my (too often times) endless ramblings remotely interesting, I am making another goal similar to the one I made earlier in the year...and that was to blog every (or nearly) every day.  At the time, it was focused on the things I love about my kids...something new evey day. 

The love I have for them hasn't changed (obvi)...well, if anything, it's grown (as if I even thought that was possible!).  But this time around, I don't quite have a specific goal.  I want to sway like the Pendulum, move in the direction my mind happens to be wandering that day (or, most often times, night).  I do want to document our fun, our laughs, our learnings, our adventures, our nothingness, our life.  I want the kids to be able to come back to this summer's worth of postings years from now and read/see all we did.  I feel like last summer, we were on a big learning curve style roller coaster.  Adding Raegan into the mix of our family threw us all off kilter at times and in varying (exhausting) directions.  Kids will do that to you at whatever age, I realize, but I feel with that first year under our belts, we can spend time this summer crafting, designing, and redesigning our new dynamic, learning more about Raegan's (*super fun*) personality and meshing it with ours, and creating some amazing memories for those 'early years' part of Randy and my 'Story of Us' (sidebar: LOOOOVE that movie).  

I look forward to getting back to something I've missed doing--writing, sharing, reminscing, documenting our family for our family.  I've been down the road before, blogging well for a while, and then not, making a promise to become better at it and sticking with it--for a little while, then falling 'off the wagon' again.  The 'pinball' in me would be disappointed by this fact, but the new and improved 'Pendulum Erin' is realizing life is what happens as you sit back and make plans for everything.  So, while we're going to plan some things, the purpose and intent have a 'smooth and groovy flow' to them, thus giving summer 2012 an asterisk next to it in my memory.


Love (adore, even!)