Thursday, July 31, 2008

We really know how to vacation

We "played" football on those unrestful, rest stops.

We practiced our cheerleading stunts.

We went rock climbing.

We snuggled with Gigi.

We spun around on the merry-go-round, which we hadn't seen before.

We spent a lot of time on the front porch. Like, a lot.

We saw a lot of mountains. Like, a lot, a lot.

We washed our shoes in the creek, just like the old days. Or, not.

We discovered a new playhouse.

We were entertained by Uncle Tommy's tricks.

We were silly. (Slightly more than usual, but only because of the crowds.)

We sat in circles.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Mountain whispers

If you could hear me right now this is what you'd hear:


That's a sigh of relief, of having done something momentous and now feeling great to be remaking a life at home.

Our trip, which from here on out will always be called The Venture because that's how Liana says it, was truly a remarkable adventure.

I will also call it a vacation because I barely recognized my own home when we walked in the door. The dining table, the sparkle of that room looked odd to me, but it wasn't until I walked into the kitchen and did a double take that I knew ... I knew I had been away and that it had been a very good thing.

There is no way to truly describe how physically and emotionally hard those four days of travel were but if you've traveled with young children at all for, say, more than a three hours then you can triple or quadruple that chaos to envision our 1200-mile road trip. In fact, to write it that way just makes me want to collapse or faint or cry. It was a ton of work. What should have been one 12-hour car ride turned into two eight-hour days -- one way! Then back again, back again, jiggety jig.

Would I do it again? Not for a while, but while driving in the rural mountains of lovely northeastern Georgia, I realized that we have to do it again -- in May, when my dear brother graduates high school. Then again, I'm looking into flight rates ASAP for that. Or, at the very least, a minivan.

In the meantime, the mountains taught me more than I ever imagined:

I'm not who I thought I was: A few days into our stay at my mom's house, sitting on the living room floor, my mom told me something I never knew. She stayed home with me full-time until I was 2 and then she only worked part-time. My only memories are of her working and me being in day care. "That's why I'm so smart," I sung out. She laughed. Because of the divorce with my father, and the hardship that time caused my mom, I have avoided asking her many questions about my first five years. In time, she'll tell me more, I suppose.

I heart Southern hospitality: It couldn't have been more perfect for my interview with Jen Lemen about building community to be posted the week I was in Georgia, where we enjoyed the following gifts from neighbors: pasta salad, strawberry cake, zucchini bread and homemade peach ice cream. This in just five days, too. It's not just being kind ... it's their way of life, and I could easily get used to that. Oh, and the old man down the road selling tomatoes and corn from his garden waved to every car, every day -- even if you passed him six times in one day, which we did once. There's a real lesson there, I think, which goes back to what Jen said about not caring what people think. Smile, wave ... spread the happiness and kindness even if it's not returned.

I still get car sick: I'm not sorry to see the row houses that are my neighborhood any longer. Mountains make me sick. In fact, I might still be swerving as I type right now. Still, they are gorgeous, especially in the morning when the dewy fog and rain set in around them. I was listening to some meditation music on Day One of the return trip and it was almost a heavenly feeling to see those gigantic mounds of earth float by in such angelic music. I'd like to say that it helped the rest of the ride, but it didn't. Later, I cried from the exhaustion of it all, the stress of it all. And then I got bit by a spider, or something.

I'm not good at sitting still: Dan was the better child entertainer; I am the better driver. He's fine with turning around a hundred times, tickling their feet and interacting. I have to stay still or else ... see above. The pressure, too, was just so much for me. It's one thing to be able to pull out a bunch of paint and brushes; it's quite another to feel motion sick and try to calm two very bored, restless 2-year-olds. None of our toys worked. Very few games were a hit. Thank goodness for DVD players.

Home is where your mom is: My mom moved to Georgia when Jadyn and Liana were 6 months old. This was our first trip to her house, set deep in the mountains and nestled on a quaint campground, owned by my step-uncle. Most of the furniture came with the house and was new to me. She lives 600-plus miles from the home I grew up in and yet her house still felt like home. We immediately felt like we'd been there forever. There really is no other place than the place mom is.

Life would be easier with them around: Tommy, an active 17-year-old, easily entertained the girls with pillow fights, climbing on the playground like a crazy teen-ager can and just being present. My mom easily embraced them, sat on the floor with them and curled up on the couch with them. They ran to her each morning. She ran with them in the field, walked with them and carried them, too. The girls felt this energy and thrived on it. We could easily sit back, for once, and just take it all in. We weren't the only center of their world for five days straight. It was amazing and, for that very reason, it felt like a real break. That, and my mom cooked every meal, every day. I actually got to spend some quality time with the girls each morning and night without having meal-time hassles to worry about.

Reality bites: As great as it was to see my daughters playing and learning with my mom (Gigi), my step-father (grandpa) and my brother (Uncle Tommy), the reality is it really is the exception. We won't see them again until December, sadly. It's very hard when the people you love the most are so far away. As I've written before, I'm less angry now but it is still a situation I wish would change -- and soon. But, and listen up mom, I will be mad if you can't be here for their 3rd birthday party.

Elmo is evil, yet powerful: We do not know for sure, but the trip changed one of our girls dramatically. She arrived in Georgia practically saying Thank You to everyone, for everything. We can only thank the Elmo video that seriously was the only thing that kept those two happy and quiet in the backseat for most of the Venture. Liana returned home speaking in full sentences, much of which we cannot understand because she's making up words as she goes along, but it's so amazing to see. Her voice is even different. Somehow, between Elmo and Georgia, she turned into a little girl, and one that I hardly recognize. And yet ... we were with her the whole time, never missed a beat.

Or, perhaps I've returned home a little more awake, a little more aware and the fact that they are growing up is so very clear to me right now.

Thank you for visiting today. Stay tuned for our trip in pictures.

Did you like this blog post? Please consider subscribing here:

Subscribe in a reader

Friday, July 25, 2008

Anything to make them smile

A neighbor of ours sent me a link to this video and I just found it to be so relative to the life we live as mothers -- stay-at-home mothers, desperate to embrace the tiny moments that mean so much. This really says it all.

Having a great time on vacation ... preparing for that long ride home. Will post next week!

Monday, July 21, 2008

What's your idea of community? An interview with Jen Lemen

I started reading Jen Lemen before I started reading any other bloggers. I'm not sure how I came upon her site, but I did and she never ceases to amaze me with her ability to tap into so much of what I'm seeking that day. More than that, I'm more captivated by her ability to reach out to her community and be open to it.

If you aren't familiar with her work, she recently went to Africa, a trip that has changed her life and she's still trying to find that new normal. The stories are incredible. It's an adventure that was only possible because she was open to it. In the end, that seems to be the nugget I walk away with. Stay awake; remain open.

The journalist in me sees more to Jen's story. I wanted to find out more about how she builds these relationships, how she nurtures them and how she came to have an urban family, which she writes about often.

Now, it also happens, Jen told me, that these very things that I interviewed her about are also the very things that have shaken her to the core and have her in a little bit of a major life transition -- a major upheaval of sorts. I didn't intend to make matters worse, but she assures me my questions were therapeutic. Let's hope so. Thanks, Jen!

Here we go:

BWTL: My husband and I live in a very racially and ethnically diverse neighborhood and city. We had been trying to move to be closer to his job (and after some serious crime issues) until this job of mine came along, which is just down a few blocks and which has inspired our decision to stay and try and make this work a bit longer. We are some of the pioneers trying to revive the city. The thing is we've never really fit in ... I'm still longing for that quintessential urban family that you write about often. I also long to get to know some of the people I might not normally get to know. Now that I've dumped all that ... you seem to have a talent with building community and that is what I want to focus on.

How long have you lived in your Silver Spring neighborhood? What's it like? What's your neighborhood like?

We moved here in June of 2005. Our neighborhood is pretty diverse--we are mostly a mix of middle class working and professional/established white families with some Chinese families, a couple of Turkish families, some Spanish-speaking families and a few African American families who have been here for decades thrown in in between. We have young families here, too, and down our street there is a collection of garden apartments where many African and Central American immigrants live. It's not Sesame Street, but it's close. I should also mention that we rent.

What does community mean to you?

For me, a community is a web of support, a big nest of kindness that is big enough to hold you along with the many things you need to feel connected, cared for and close. Communities pick up the slack, fill in the gaps, point out the holes, mend the fences and create a space where you can be yourself and you can grow and understand you are not too much. Your needs get spread around along with your capacity to give. I find that a community--while holding you close in so many ways--actually gives you more space to develop and grow. It's very hard for people to achieve this kind of thing alone or in their nuclear families.

Do you feel America is losing out on the idea of community?

I think America is reaching out more and more for community really. We see it in all different kinds of ways--when people decide to go to each other's houses to watch a favorite show, when families eat dinner together, when women decide to pull their friends together for fun when everyone is worn out and run down. Our bigger problem as a country, I think, is believing that having our own stuff and our own space can make us happy. Americans really struggle with this--it's hard to imagine that you could actually be more fulfilled by giving up your privacy or your time, but I've found that to be the case over and over again.

You write often about your urban family. Can you please describe what that family is, how it came to be and what it means to you?

My urban family is comprised of my immediate family (Dave and the kids, Madeleine and Carter), our next door neighbors Mark and Meryl (who are 60 something) and our other next door neighbors Nick and Jess (who are twenty-something). We function as a close extended family and offer each other a lot of practical and personal support. People who come to visit me often remark that it's like one family living back and forth between three houses--we do life together (and apart) in a fairly free, fluid way. That includes four to five meals together a week, giving each other space, hanging out on the weekend when we feel like it, cooking, celebrating birthdays, promotions and other life events, fighting in front of each other, having major meltdowns, talking about our day, asking each other questions, giving each other advice and lots of other stuff in between.

All this happened gradually over time, but the seeds were planted with Mark and Meryl when we first moved in and I went over everyday to borrow something or look for something to eat in their frig. They started looking forward to my visits, and were delighted to be imposed upon after living quietly in the neighborhood for 30+ years. My kids became friends with Nick and Jess first by talking to them as they came and went on their way to and from work. Those conversations gave way to frisbee and a kind of play the kids really needed. Dave and I didn't factor in, until I went next door to bum a cigarette off Nick one drunken New Year's Eve. We started hanging out more after that, and have been good friends ever since.

All of us like to cook, so it was only natural that we start sharing food and putting our meals together on the same table.

I've always had some kind of urban family everywhere I've lived, but I can't begin to tell you what this one means to me. They are so dear to me--I really don't have words to describe what it's been like to have this level of love and support.

You have tapped into the African immigrants in your community. How did that happen and what has that been like for you?

It's not hard because we live across the street from the elementary school where 80% of the children who attend come from immigrant families--over half come from Africa. I have always felt deeply at home with people from other cultures, so it's natural for me to reach out. Sometimes people avoid conversation or eye contact with immigrants because they are worried about making people feel uncomfortable in communication, but I've found the opposite to be true. I always say hi and chit chat with the women dropping their kids off, even if we can only exchange smiles or little greetings. These little exchanges have opened to the door to deeper friendships where very sweet connection is possible--I honestly do not know what I would do without these women and all the ways they show me how to be humble in opening my heart. I need them so much.

What is the most courageous thing you've done to build community?

Not worry about what other people think. Also, I have shamelessly and aggressively asked my neighbors for help over and over again on many levels--practical, emotional, social, spiritual. Without that, this community might not exist.

You raised money last year for an ice cream party for your neighbors. Can you share a photo of that? What did that event mean to you? Did it change anything in your neighborhood?

It was mostly just fun and made me happy. I don't know if it changed anything for anyone else, but it definitely opened doors for me to talk to people who might have been shy before that--especially immigrant parents. It helped that we did the ice cream day with an African guy named Musa and that we tried to be as low-key and discreet as possible about the money that made the day possible. There was no big-give there, just love.

What's the hardest lesson you've learned in these community-building endeavors?

The hardest thing for me has been realizing how fragile my own nuclear family is and how our success as a family is deeply intertwined with the existence of the urban family we have created. I'm going through a time of soul-searching and personal transition right now and I'm very aware of all the ways I crafted this community to keep my own family together. That's been scary for me to admit to myself and hard to hold as I think about the future. Building a community has been a lot easier for me than creating a traditional family.

What did your Africa trip do to influence your idea of community?

Rwanda really blew me away. I was really shocked at the level of cooperation that happens there on a daily basis. My kids love the song from High School Musical with the line "We're all in this together" and I thought I understood what that meant, but really I had no idea. Any plan or priority anyone has can be shelved in a second, if someone else needs something. This has adversely affected development to some extent in Africa, but it has done wonders for people's sense of belonging to each other. I could say more, but that gives you a taste.

What three things would you suggest to someone like me or one of my readers to do in their own community to reach out to people we do not know?

1. Say hello to everyone you meet. Smile and don't worry about seeming insane for being so cheerful. If you want an urban family, you have to start by loving the people around you however you can and letting them love you. You don't need more than one other person to make a difference.
2. Share whatever you are cooking, baking, eating as much and as often as you possibly can. If you have extra anything, drop it off. If you are having a party for whatever occasion, invite someone over. Food is a great connector and breaks down so many barriers. No one has time to cook or entertain or enjoy food anymore, so you do a big thing when you bring that joy to your neighborhood. If you have kids, absolutely make them part of the invite or the delivery--kids (and dogs!) are natural community builders.
3. Ask for help. Really, without this, there is no community. Some people build community by offering help, but I think that's a mistake in the end. You will connect much more deeply with others around your frailty than your strength. So ask for soy sauce, advice, charcoal for the grill, help with your kids, ice for your party, paper towels, whatever you need really. You'll be shocked at what comes back to you as a result.
4. Decide that your neighbors and the people who live near you are the dearest people on earth. So many times, people think that community is only possible in certain settings with certain kinds of people and that you just don't happen to have the right conditions for having community. It is not true. Your community is right there waiting for you. If you love it as it is, it will blossom and offer you gifts you could not have cultivated on purpose or predicted in a million years. Love these people for whoever they are (even if it is only joy over yard work and neat, tidy yards at first!) and be open to being surprised.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

A list of happy moments in pictures

There's been so much happening, so many emotions and just so much Terrible Twos to deal with that blogging has actually become hard for the very first time. I'm not sure if it's that I just don't have the time, or if the mundane of saying no a thousand times a day is just not interesting to me. I could have written how we spent five hours in the ER with a bleeding finger last weekend that resulted in three stitches, or the fact that one of my daughters got locked in her bedroom this morning before breakfast. But, I'm just not feeling any of it. But, there have been plenty of bloggable moments happening ... even if they really only matter to me, the Mommy. I'll apologize now for the low-quality photos.

So, here are some of those many good moments we have had these last few weeks:

These three above are at a local nature center, again, and we have been enjoying getting to know the place. The rocks are perfect -- and intended -- for climbing. The creek is there for wading. And, the stage and bleachers are perfect for performing.

Sometimes just a flat piece of cardboard does the trick.

Sometimes we make funny faces. And laugh.

Sometimes we put homemade play dough on our feet and legs. Or, under our nose.

We dine a lot. Often alone, but sometimes with friends, which is a lot of fun.

Who needs the 4-hour drive to the beach when local parks have beach volleyball courts ready and waiting all the time?

Taking a nap in the sand would be perfect if our mean mothers would let us!

We jump all the time. A lot, really. In fact, we just might be jumping around in all of our dreams.

And, because we know you like them, too. Here's those trees that were mentioned earlier this week. Couldn't you just hug them?

The trees, too.

How I'm planning for the trip

We're gearing up for a major two-day, 600-mile road trip and our backseat will be full of two 2.5 year olds and not much else.

Even our car is not ready for this kind of a trip.

And, for two people who have had trouble going a half-hour to the outlets to shop, a road trip that will span at least six states is a bit of an undertaking.

But, the time is now, and we're ready. In fact, other than knowing I will not get my usual weekend kid-free breaks, I'm excited for this trip.

What's that saying? Plan for the worst; hope for the best. That's my philosophy.

I've been reading and researching and thinking about everything. Overthinking, as the husband might argue.

"Did you call and make reservations for Olive Garden?" he asked last night.

"You don't need reservations for Olive Garden," I said, not getting his joke.

We'll do half hour gift bags filled with something new and special, and some other prized possession that should bring a smile or two. (Same for the ride back.)

We'll have various, very special snacks to offer at certain intervals -- things they don't normally get like a cool mix of cereals, toddler trail mix and fruit roll-ups.

We'll stop every two to three hours, depending on the mood levels.

We'll pack lunch, and probably serve it in the car and let them run at rest stops and other open spaces to let them blow off some pent up energy.

We'll stay over night at a place with a pool so we can wear them out in the water and, hopefully, watch them crash quickly in the hotel.

We'll have games planned, activities ready and toys and books within reach for those cranky moments, and just to help them let off steam vocally, physically, artistically and by laughing.

And, we'll have a portable DVD player for the desperate -- and much-needed quiet -- times as well.

Whatever happens, hopefully it's not too brutal. After all, it's supposed to be a vacation away from home. Then again, isn't there a saying about there is no such thing as a vacation with kids -- just trips.

Still, it will be new scenery, a change in the mundane routines -- especially bedtime routines -- and a time to let go of the stress of only healthy meals and snacks and strict nap times.

In other words, a week to say yes, yes, yes, instead of no, no, no.

Any road trip tips you want to pass along?

This is cross-posted at How Do You Do It?

Thank you for visiting today.

Did you like this blog post? Please consider subscribing here:

Subscribe in a reader

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Good-bye, Guilt-filled weekends!

While I realize that I will certainly have an enormous amount of guilt to overcome in a month about how I will be spending my Monday through Friday, I am jumping up and down with joy right now about guilt-free Saturdays.

Yes, people: We are officially a two-car family once again.

Living with one car was admirable. It was green. It was even a bargain.

But, with a husband who's gone 12 to 13 hours a day, two restless toddlers and piles of errands each week, life was just a bit -- I can say this now -- crazy.

Life will be so much easier now despite the cash flow loss.

First, I've got wheels -- every. single. day. And, I'm not afraid to use them, folks. No, I will be using them.

Second, my dear husband who has walked in the rain, sleet and snow to catch a bus that doubled -- sometimes tripled -- his commute time will have more flexibility to take a morning off, an afternoon off or just run home to help for an appointment. This has been impossible over the last two years. He was gone by 6, more recently 7, and not home until 6 or later.

Thirdly, and most importantly, who ever is home with the kids on Saturday or Sunday isn't stuck at home with the kids anymore. I can go out on a Saturday morning and take my time and not feel GUILTY that they are all stuck at home instead of going out to the park or whatever.

America is just not ready for less cars, which is why we're all buying hybrids. It's a shame, really, that employers aren't more flexible for one-car families.

Now, what will we do with our wheels all week????

Edited to clarify: We did not buy a hybrid but we did get a very nice efficient Hyundai.

Thank you for visiting today.

Did you like this blog post? Please consider subscribing here:

Subscribe in a reader

Friday, July 11, 2008

A tree to hug

The other night I went out to walk and got only a few blocks away, knowing I had errands to run, and decided to change my plan.

I didn't need the Suburbs. I'd been walking enough, freeing my mind enough, enjoying the 'burbs enough, that I could finally stay close to home and walk in a city park.

I chose the one closest to my home, that also happens to be the most popular, the most beautiful.
I haven't been there much because it has steep hills and a "lake" and I'm probably too cautious when I'm alone with the girls but I worry ...

I was mid-walk, shoulders falling away from my ears, when I remembered all the pre-children walks we had in that park. I looked up and realized I was surrounded by dozens and dozens of big, beautiful, wise trees. These beauties came to life right before my eyes.

Not spending enough time in nature over the last 2.5 years has gotten to me, I guess, and I've been slightly obsessed with trees. They now adorn our living room, this blog banner and anything else I can find. Journals, necklaces (though, the girls broke it).

It occurred to me during this walk that I've been scurrying out to the suburbs in search of something that I could actually find closer to home, in the city. Those metro-area parks have their highlights that I love, but they are, without a doubt, mostly treeless. Or, the trees are still babies, memorializing someone's life.

I walked under the trees; they embraced my worries and troubles. They held me close as I realized that I'm not really searching to be outside the city; I'm searching to be a part of something.

That, in effect, has always summed up my existence. We moved to the city to make a difference.

As I thought about this I realized that living in the city is only great if you leave it, and often. The more you are here, the more it can work at your nerves. And I'm here a lot. All the time, in fact.

But, if I lived in Suburbia -- and I will eventually -- I'll want to be in the city. I'll miss those trees, the walks to the farmer's markets and downtown events. Those new, mixed-use communities are on to something. It's what feels right. Open space, everything you need in one spot and community that is close to home.

Community. That's what I was all about until I became a mother. Even in high school I was someone who wanted the best for everyone, not just a few. In the back of my mind I have remained that woman, but it's been hard to juggle it all. I wonder how I'll be able to let go of my mother-self to help represent all people, including the childless, in my new job.

During an interview with a source this week for my very last freelance gig, he told me about how he sent his three children through city schools, and how they had fears going in about being bullied or not faring well, academically.

In the end, he said, "We decided not to fall prey to our imagined fears." They left the door open for an easy exit ... but they never needed it. The kids are nearly all grown up.

That is staying with me. I have a lot of imagined fears. I guess I have a lot of imagined promises, too. If I've learned anything, the let down of imagined promises is much harder to bear.

My mom lives in a very rural location in the mountains of Georgia. She's mentioned a neighborhood bear. (Oh, god). I am sure it will be beautiful, and a welcome relief from city life. I'm open to this welcomed relief, knowing that rural settings actually scare me at night. I like being able to see my feet when I walk.

I recall long ago, when my brother was in middle school, he wrote an essay that declared, "I hate the city."

That statement hurt me not because of his honesty but because he didn't know the city. He's never spent anytime here. None of my family really has. Or any city for that matter.

Cities get a bad rap and it's frustrating. People hate on the cities and yet get mad because developers are buying up farmland to build more new houses.

Our city has plenty of available housing. Just waiting.

Waiting for people to love on its gigantic, old trees.

Waiting for people to get over their imagined fears.

Thank you for visiting today.

Did you like this blog post? Please consider subscribing here:

Subscribe in a reader

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Need activities for your bored kids?

Check out this review for Leap Frog TAG and SavvySource on my review blog, The Chunky Purse (I know, I need to update more now that I'm not doing as many reviews. Sorry.) For those of you with toddlers and preschoolers, you will love this review. Thank me later. See my note at the bottom of the post, too. All of this is related to this crazy-big sidebar widget to the right. It will be there a while so get used to it. lol

Vacation doesn't start for a little while. I'll be posting some more between now and then.

Thank you for visiting today.

Did you like this blog post? Please consider subscribing here:

Subscribe in a reader

Monday, July 7, 2008

Let freedom ring

My brain is scattered; too scattered to write anything coherent, I assure you. We are busy and I am fine. There is too much happening; suddenly I can't find the brakes for this life.

One month.

One month.

One month.

It lives in my brain that way now. I have one month to do it all, to live it all, to be it all. I'm acting as if life ends in a month and I know it does not. That there will still be life. But it will be so different and the closer it gets the harder it is feeling.

Working will be so good for our family; day care will be so good for my girls. I know all of this and that is why I am eager. But, at the same time, I am full of so much other stuff.

What's making it harder -- and easier -- is that I'm planning a major event.

A road trip.

We are going to see Gigi in Georgie. Yes, we're going to take the girls to Georgia to see my mom, stepfather and brother, Tommy.

I'm so full of emotion about this trip. I do not say much on this blog about my mom, her move away, because it has been such a hard thing to deal with, especially as a new mother of twins. I have gone through all stages of grief, I guess, even the anger. Which, I"m sure, my mom would say lasted a very, very long time. I still get angry, just not at her so much.

After my last spell of this life is so hard, she pretty much demanded that we get down there, and fast. I agreed that getting out of this town, this house, this life is probably exactly what we need. What I need.

I need my mommy. I need her to cook for me, and hold my girls and give me a break. A real honest to goodness break. No one else can do this for us, and this is why it's been so hard.

So planning a road trip that will cover roughly 600 miles over two days is not easy. And, I dont' want to forget about the 600 miles on the return trip. So, I'm digging up every resource possible to make this "big ride" a success for all of us -- even The Overworked Husband who has been working two jobs at only the pay of one and who has been up for a promotion for three months only to learn last week that it will be a mystery for yet a fourth month. He, perhaps, deserves this vacation more than us. No, wait, he gets to eat two meals a day without two screaming toddlers who have discovered that they can spit out food and make each other laugh. At. Every. Single. Meal.

This post is rambling, I know. That's my point. I'm full of life and emotion and happiness and joy and sadness and worry and ideas.

Over the last two weeks, you all have been such amazing friends.

From Bella, who I met in person last month and who is much more than you'd ever know, who never fails to cheer me up even when she's the one who really needs cheered. I love you, Bella.

To Katherine, who I think is one of the most amazing artists I've ever come across, because she created this, I fell in love with it and she sent it to me all the way from her studio in New Zealand. I cannot wait to hang it up (both of them. : )

To Karen and her daughter Georgia (Gigi) for parting ways with a couple years' worth of Baby Bug Magazines that, I swear, has filled our days the last week. We've read these great magazines at the park, in restaurants, in the car, in the stroller and before bed.

And, Susana, a great neighbour up there in Canada who sent me a fabulous relaxation CD and a beach ball that actually does entertain my sweet bundles of energy for a couple minutes at a time. She isn't blogging anymore, but her blog is still worth reading for inspiration on how to truly live every single day.

It's been hard not having my mom around, but I have done it but not without all of you. This crazy life is so much more amazing thanks to my blogging girlfriends.

Now, the rascals are screaming from their beds ... nap time blogging at it's best.

Thank you for visiting today.

Did you like this blog post? Please consider subscribing here:

Subscribe in a reader

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

I laugh at your messes

It was a typical afternoon.

I said, "Paint your bellies."

They looked shocked, but game. And that is how it all began ...

It didn't take long before smiles curled up on their faces.

Or, until they realized they didn't need paper or canvas or even their own bodies.

Then their little brains took over, and that's when the real fun began ...

Purple paint below their feet; slippery slides they do make.

Purple butts, in our hair -- we had paint, everywhere!

Pure success.

Great satisfaction.

A little swim, afterward.

This creative activity was inspired by both the book First Art, and the blog Pepper Paints, which I found via the new and really cool Blog Nosh Magazine.

Thank you for visiting today.

Did you like this blog post? Please consider subscribing here:

Subscribe in a reader