Friday, February 28, 2014

Cold Weather Projects with Boxes

I order all of our diapers online, so we often have large cardboard boxes in the house. Our last box we turned into a house. This one I turned on it's side to make a barn. The girls drew on the box with markers and I cut out farm animals and hay. They wanted it to be a nighttime barn, so I cut out stars as well. It was interesting to me that Alessia out all the farm animals on the bottom of the box. The realistic idea of them standing on the floor of the barn was stronger in her mind than the visual appearance of them lying down.


Today we turned a smaller box into an aquarium. We have a membership to the New England Aquarium and went last weekend. We often make art about our adventures. It gives us an opportunity to think and talk about what we saw and did. I cut out fish, seaweed, and coral, and the girls colored the fish. This time I showed Alessia how to glue some to the sides of the box. She got into it once I showed her and we put most of the coral and seaweed on that way. I hung the fish from the roof of the box and showed the girls how to blow on the fish to make them swim.


I asked Alessia what else our aquarium needed. She came up with penguins, rays, turtles, and a diver. The penguings went on the bottom of the inside of the box and the rest on the outside.

I was a little confused when she said the aquarium needed a bus and a train. Then I remembered that due to construction we had to take both a bus and a train to get to the aquarium that day. The trip there and home was obviously an integral part of that trip for her. So we added a bus and a train.


These projects can be a little tough for Olivia. She colors with crayons and will do some glueing, but eventually she gets a little bored. When bored she has a habit of throwing things (note the crayons on the floor) or doing little sassy things to get my attention. I know this will get easier as she gets older. I explain to Alessia that sometimes we need to stop and do something else as the project might be a bit advanced for Olivia. She handles it pretty well. So I'm very lucky there.


Thursday, February 27, 2014

A Week of Transitions for Two Little Girls

This is a big week for us. The whole house is going gluten-free. We made this decision a couple of weeks ago after Olivia dropped a toy under Alessia's chair and then put it in her mouth. Alessia was eating a whole wheat sandwhich at the time and the crumbs on the floor were enough to put Olivia in screaming pain a few hours later. When she has a gluten attack like this, it takes a week before she starts sleeping normally again. So over the last two weeks we have switched to gf pasta for everyone. Adam finished the last of his crackers, and yesterday we finished the last of the regular bread. Alessia was faced with her first gf sandwhich at lunch today. It went about as well as to be expected.

She protested that she can eat gluten and she likes gluten. This bread's not for me! This bread's for Olivia! She told me that we can buy more regular bread at the store. In the end she had three bites of the sandwhich and then licked as much of the peanut butter as she could out of the middle. It will take a few days but she'll get used to it.

Olivia's on a nap strike. I've decided I don't care if she sleeps or not, as long as she spends some quiet time in her crib as Alessia does in her room. So now I nurse her and then put her in her crib at nap time. She screams as I leave the room, and then after a few minutes plays with her music box. Two days ago she actually fell asleep. So we'll see how all this goes.

Alessia gave up her high chair for a big girl chair with a booster seat on it. As with most things I spent weeks chatting it up and she put up a bit of a fuss, but in the end she embraced it as a big girl thing to do.

Alessia also decided to try undies this morning, which she has done a couple of times now. Generally what happens is she has a rare fit of enthusiasm for trying the potty. She pees a little, puts on undies and then a half hour or so later she pees in her pants, declares she's had an accident, and then goes back into diapers. Unfortunately she wants to wear undies, but doesn't want to use the potty. This morning she went so far as to poop in her undies just to see what I would do. I told her that wearing undies meant pooping in the potty, and that I knew she knew how to hold it. She told me flat out that she didn't want to poop in the potty. So I told her that she couldn't wear undies again until she showed me she could poop in the potty. This tactic might actually work with her, as she really does like being a big girl in undies.

So that's what's going on here...


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Faith and Money (did I really just write that?)

So the two big taboos of faith and money have been much in my mind lately. I know I'm not supposed to talk about them publicly, but I'm not sure how to talk about a whole bunch of other things without talking about them. I'm in the middle of reading a book called "Practicing Our Faith." One of the authors writes about faith and relationships in terms of money. The Christian commandments to love God, ourselves, and our neighbors is for many a commandment to be "in right relationship" with all people (and even beyond people to all of God's creation). Money is at the center of many of our relationships, both with other people and with nature. How we choose to make, spend, donate, and invest money can be seen as how we choose to be in relationship with other people and with God's creation as a whole.
So this year, I am going to try to be more conscious of how I buy stuff. My hope is first to buy only when necessary. This allows me to donate more and spend more on organic and locally produced food. It keeps me from cluttering my house and eventually a landfill with stuff I didn't need in the first place. Second, I am going to try to buy used. Buying used cuts down signifcantly on the environmental cost of buying stuff, and it keeps stuff out of landfills for at least a little longer. Third, I am going to try to buy locally, American-made, and fair trade goods when I do need something and can't get it used. Through this I can support my neighbors near and far.
This isn't a set of rules, but a set of guidelines I've set for myself. I expect to question them and possibly change them as I see how they play out in everyday life. Already I've found myself in situations where once upon a time, my reaction would have been "well I'll just order a __________." I also realize that consuming this way is going to take more time and research, which I will have to balance with the other ways I choose to spend my time. For example do I run all over creation searching for a locally made version of something that I could just order quickly from Amazon for much less? At times the answer may be "just order it", but I'm hoping that at least some of the time the answer will be either yes, it's worth the trip, or no, I actually don't need that at all. We'll see.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

A Thank You to my Family, Friends, and Strangers

This past week we placed two of my family members into the hands of God. On Sunday we baptised my little Olivia. On Wednesday we buried my grandmother. Throughout my grandma's funeral people spoke of how loving she was and how dedicated she was to her family. I am blessed, because this love of family is something that lives on. For Olivia's baptism my sister drove from New Jersey with her family, our mom, and our brother all in her car through Saturday's snow storm. Along with our friends and my husband's parents they trudged to church in the ice and snow and then back to my house for food and coffee and talk. I've been a little sleep deprived lately, so all this was posssible because my family and friends make themselves at home in my kitchen, pulling out dishes, making coffee, finding the mustard in the back of the fridge. On Tuesday Olivia and I took a cab and two trains to Long Island for my grandmother's wake and funeral. While the occasion was sad, I could not but help take joy in seeing my little Olivia running around my Aunt Johanna and Uncle Vinny's house. I have so many happy childhood memories of our trips to Long Island. On this trip it was my little girl who was showered in love by aunts, uncles, and cousins, just as I remember being showered in love as a child. For the love of my family and friends I am most grateful.

Traveling with Olivia strapped to me and a car seat strapped to a piece of rolly luggage, I am also grateful for the kindness of strangers. The dad who helped me with the clasp of the baby carrier, explaining his wife was traveling alone with their two kids and he was feeling a little guilty. The people who saw me coming and opened doors. The train conductor who ended Olivia's meltdown by making a paper doll out of a ticket with his hole punch. The woman who let me buy her return ticket on the Long Island railroad as I found myself without enough cash to buy my own ticket at the elevated on train price. The red cap at Penn Station who told me how to get down to the train platform before the train was announced. Thank you.


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Homemade Finger Paint

We've been experimenting with homemade art supplies. Yesterday we tried a recipe in The Artful Parent for homemade finger paint. The recipe is basically three parts water to one part cornstarch, cooked together with food coloring added.

On the upside the colors were amazing and they mixed well. On the downside I cooked the cornstarch and water way too long, resulting in a jelly. Olivia was not impressed with the stickiness on her hands and begged for a brush, a q-tip, anything, and finally gave up as the q-tips I gave her were no use. Alessia on the other hand was in hog heaven, as you can see in the photo below. She squished and squeezed the paint, trying different color combinations and in general having a grand time.

We'll try this recipe again as the colors were gorgeous and the girls really enjoy the making part.


Monday, February 10, 2014

Conversations with my children

At 4:00 AM in bed

Olivia (19 months)- Where's daddy?

Me- Daddy's downstairs

Olivia- Where's daddy?

Me- Daddy's downstairs

Olivia- Daddy's downstairs. I ready get up.


At lunch

Alessia (three years old)- Can I have my crib back?

Me- No baby girl. You have a big girl bed now. You had a crib when you were small.

Alessia- So someday when I'm small again I can have my crib back.

Me- No baby, you don't get small again. You only get bigger.

Alessia- (intense look of concentration as she noodles through this)

Me (internally)- we are never getting this child out of diapers

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Drawing Volume

Yesterday we were drawing with markers on a big sheet of paper. Olivia screeched as she scribbled forcefully on the paper. It gave me an idea. I started talking very quietly and running the tip of a marker very gently and slowly around on the paper. Then I shouted and made a strong bold swoosh across the paper. I made little ah ah noises while making little marks. I made a loud sustained arrrrgh, and scribbled back and forth really fast. Olivia didn't take much notice, but Alessia was mesmerized. At first she just stared, alternating between my hand and my face. I could see the wheels in her brain going. Eventually she joined in shouting and making bold swooshes of her own. Olivia did take notice of Alessia's shouting (do younger siblings learn anything from their parents or do they just learn from their older siblings?), and joined in shouting and scribbling. It was fun, and probably very educational, although I'm too tired at the moment to articulate it.