As I look back on my first blog post of the year, my “word” of the year, I realize now that being present meant less blogging.
My position at work was converted to a 10 month position with the months of June and July off. I was super excited to have all this time at home with my children, engage in all kids of fabulous activities and blog our way through our summer adventures. But I was too busy being present to blog….
So here I am, at the end of summer, looking into another academic year and wondering where I go from here.
Recently we lost one of our cats, Bart. When we got married, we had five cats and a turtle and now we are left with just two cats. There have been some sad times in our family. Each pet death comes with a whole host of emotions, and when there are kids involved, it becomes especially painful to try and answer their questions while processing our own sadness.
Learning about death
But the death of a pet, especially when the pet dies at home, can be such a powerful “teachable moment”. Everyone needs to learn about death. We do not try and hide the pet from the kids, but we have given them the opportunity to see him, say goodbye to him. For this time around, it was much harder for dad, so I tried to step in and answer as many questions as I could for the kids.
So many questions about what it means to be alive and what it means to be dead. We have been able to bury pets in the back yard, which I think really helps our kids to connect with what it means to return to the earth and to what cemeteries for people are all about.
I also talked to cremation because that is our choice for this cat since the ground is solid frozen still.
I spoke to both kids about the sadness that Daddy was feeling. Connor asked if he could draw Daddy some pictures, and while some of the pictures were clearly about making Daddy feel better.
There were also a few that were Connor thinking about what was happening to the cat. Both kids continue to ask lots of questions about the pets we have lost. There are lots of pictures of them around and we will visit the spot in our backyard where Bart will be buried this summer.
Some books I keep tucked away on the grown ups bookshelves for learning about death…
When Dinosaurs Die: A Guide to Understanding Death (Dino Life Guides for Families)
by Laurie Krasny Brown (Author), Marc Brown (Illustrator)
Lifetimes: The Beautiful Way to Explain Death to Children
by Bryan Mellonie (Author), Robert Ingpen (Author)
The Fall of Freddie the Leaf: A Story of Life for All Ages
by Leo Buscaglia (Author)
I was super excited to receive a jar of Reese’s Peanut Butter Spread from Influenster! Despite my first inclination to eat the entire jar with a spoon, I restrained myself and shared with my kiddos.
Connor my picky eater, regularly requires lunch from home while in school. We review the weekly school lunch calendar and I do encourage him to try things I think he might like, often times I know that he will just refuse and spend the day in school hungry. Sending him peanut better and jelly sandwiches in his lunchbox has become our staple. It is hard to find things that a kindergarten can eat that 1) he can open by himself, 2) doesn’t require refrigeration or 3) doesn’t need to be heated.
A Reese’s Peanut Butter Spread and strawberry jam sandwich was the perfect twist on the classic! It gave me an opportunity to give him something a little special in his lunch. He gave it RAVE reviews!
One cold snowy day I also made grilled Reese’s Peanut Butter Spread and banana sandwiches for Amelia and I. Fortunately she couldn’t finish hers (and this Mama got a few extra bites)! Super yummy but oh how decadent…. with the right bread, this could be dessert!
Reese’s Peanut Butter Spread may find a permanent place on our grocery shopping list!
I received these products complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes.
After poking around the internet I ran across all these “Word of the Year” posts for 2015. It seemed like a good fit for me this year. Last year I decided not to have resolutions, but thought that “goals” seemed like a good idea. After reflecting on the goals I had set for 2014, I realized that those goals truly had no end. There is no point in the calendar year when I can say, yes, I have accomplished “Being a more patient Mama”. 2014 was an interesting year for our family, for our careers for our roles as parents. We have taken on so very many challenges and I think we are better for it all.
Generally I take the first ten days of the year to sort out this resolution/goal bit in my head. Since my birthday is also in January, I associate that date more with the beginning of a new year than the beginning of the calendar year. After trying out several different ideas, I finally settled on a phrase that fit me and the goals I have as a working mama: Be Present
Be present at home
Focus on the immediate needs of my children and spend more quality time with them.
Be present with my husband
Enjoy where we are right now instead of always focusing on the next thing.
Be present in my career
Focus on work, at work, not thinking about home at work or work at home!
Okay, maybe I have one small goal too. Making our beds every day. Obviously the weekdays are the hardest times, but I have enlisted Connor to help me. I usually make our beds right as we are going to bed at night, but a nicely made bed just looks so much better. We will be engaging in some bed making lessons this weekend!
Be present in 2015!
Our Elf on the Shelf continues to bring excitement to Connor and Amelia every morning. He is certainly taking full advantage of the Christmas decorations now that there are more up around the house. Some of these have definitely become perennial favorites!
Alfie loves to sit in the jingle bell wreath!
He is a big fan of checking out the advent calendar.
This year Alfie made some super cool snowflakes and even a couple with the Super Hero Templates.
One morning our Elf on the Shelf hid way up high, on the curtain rod with the snowflake garland in the dark dining room. Even Mama couldn’t find him!
I was a little nervous when Alfie started hanging out with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, because I was worried Connor might think his toys come alive at night – which would put him over the edge. But Connor understood that our Elf on the Shelf was just playing with the toys!
Alfie always likes to hide inside the Christmas tree!
He has taken a ride on Rudolph once or twice before too!
The number one reason that we do the Elf on the Shelf in our house, is because the KIDS LOVE HIM! They get out of bed each morning, eager to find him, they can’t wait to show me where he has landed each morning. They love to talk about what Alfie has been doing to their friends. We get to hear all kinds of stories about what other neighborhood elves are up to as well.
There is one Elf on the Shelf activity that we have done every year in our house. Connor has loved it each year and by this year he was asking Alfie when he was going to bring magic seeds! Fortunately Alfie doesn’t give away his time table for these activities…
Each year, Alfie brings a bagful of magic seeds (tic tacs) and a letter giving instructions on how to plant the seeds and some friendly reminders about behaviors. Amazingly Alfie has brought the SAME LETTER with the same friendly reminders THREE years in a row! Connor eat you dinner and Amelia get a good night’s sleep!
This year they grew into candy canes, but red and green candy canes. In fact there were the same number of green and red seeds as there were green and red candy canes. However, Connor did ask why they had wrappers….
This year, Alfie, our Elf on the Shelf got a bit of an upgrade! I had seen a few tutorials online before to make your elf’s arms and legs bendable, but mine didn’t see to go quite as others had posted so here is my suggestions!
Elf on the Shelf: Alfie 2.0
Make sure that you have enough time alone with out little eyes sneaking up on you. I ended up doing this at 4 am one morning when I couldn’t sleep, but yet I was almost caught by a wandering 2 year old. Then gather your supplies! I used thread and needle, a seam ripper, bendable craft wire and some wire cutters.
To insert bendable craft wire into your elf on the shelf, generously rip open the hands and feet of your elf. Our Alfie’s limbs are stuffed with tubes of stiff paper and I really needed to see where I was poking the craft wire. I used some plastic covered craft wire I had on hand. I ended up sticking in wire as far as I could go and then trimming it off with wire cutters. I was able to put three lengths of wire into each limb. Basically I was looking to figure out the right amount I needed for the flexibility and hold I was after.
Our elf on the shelf only has openings are his feet, not the back of his knees as referred to in other tutorials.
Once his craft wires are in place. I did quick stitching to close up the openings! He is ready to go!
I also have some Velcro dots to attach to his hands so that he can hold on a bit better, but alone time for secret stitching is hard to come by!
Alfie, our Elf on the Shelf, has been busy this week!
While he was “scheduled” to appear in the dollhouse, he opted for the silo in the barn. Really any Little People toys make great Elf on the Shelf hiding places!
He left a note for Connor and Amelia on the chalkboard. He kept it simple since we only have one emergent reader. He also held on to that chalk for dear life!
He also “found” kids stockings! While I do refer back to my planning calendar, I also try and look at what is happening in our house at the moment and run with it. This weekend we unpacked the decorations that don’t go on the tree since we are putting off getting our tree until later and Connor was getting anxious to decorate. I had the stockings tucked away so I could gauge my shopping (stop buying stocking stuffers when the stockings get filled) and their weren’t in the box.
He also built a tower out of Legos ahead of schedule after the kids left them out one evening. Connor also took it upon himself to write a note to Santa and ask Alfie to pass it along. He asked Santa for more TMNT and flowers for Mama!
Next Alfie landed on an actual shelf! He was perched over a picture of the place that Daddy first kissed Mama and then asked me to marry him (a bit later on). He returned a note from Santa in which he asked Connor and Amelia to be kind to one another.
What was your Elf on the Shelf up to last week?