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)
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!
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….
Read about previous year’s magic seeds here:
Our first year
Our second year
Today I have completed the 31 Day Writing Challenge from the Nester, along with many other bloggers I have gotten to read through this community. My topic Stop, Drop and Parent was my second attempt at this challenge, after doing it last October as well. I did better this year, with regard to my posting. I only had to combine two days (Days 25 and 26) where as last year there were many more. And I hope I am a better parent too!
I think as the kids get older, there is a much greater opportunity to do more structured activities, which certainly helps on the blogging front! As a kindergartener, Connor wants to do more structured activities, like all of the Christmas Science projects. And Amelia is starting to go along with these activities since she wants to do everything her brother does!
Clearly the biggest benefit of this writing challenge is that it does make me more focused on what I can be doing that is stimulating and interesting to my children. This helps us build family traditions and memories. And to take photos to document such activities!
The fall is always a challenging time of year for me. Because I have just about always worked in education, it is the beginning of the academic year and thus super busy. But it is also the end of summer which makes me super sad. The timing of this challenge, helps me to engage in the fun that is fall!
Until next year!
Amelia loves her pony tails – or her “ponies”. She didn’t have much hair until well after her 1st birthday. She made up for it in adorable cheeks!
She first insisted on ponies at the sitter’s. Our sitter loves to do all the little girls hair Amelia climbed in her lap and instead on ponies as soon as she had “some hair.
Since that day she has become obsessed! She wants ponies all the time. She prefers the sitter’s ponies to mine. When I do her ponies they do tend to fall out more easily. I also tend to do the one top pony – two ponies are hard to get even!
And of course, Amelia want to do ponies to us too! Can I say ouch!?!?! Normally she doesn’t get as far as actually getting the elastic entangled in my hair. She just wants to pull and tug at my hair for hours………. And those pony tail elastics need to be kept under lock and key! They come in packages of hundreds and before you know it she has the whole box dumped in the middle of the living room floor!
So I always stop and ask her if I can do her hair. Most often she wants to wait and have the sitter do her ponies, but if she will let me, I will try. And if she want to do my ponies, well, I will probably let her…
I had been neglecting our Fall Bucket list this year as we have also been in the middle of a serious kitchen renovation and I was feeling like we weren’t doing too much as a family. When I looked at it this weekend, I realized that we have almost completed our list!
Here is our Fall Bucket List update!
Go apple picking: We went apple picking in CT.
Visit the pumpkin patch: I think our visit to the pumpkin festival counts!
Carve a Jack o’ lantern: We did do this after we scooped out the pumpkin seeds.
Jump in a leaf pile: Connor spent a lot of time with Dad raking and jumping!
Fall photo shoot: I have a lead on a local photographer – so maybe!
Drink hot apple cider: Not yet but I think we can manage this one before the end of fall.
Tag our Christmas tree: We should have done this by now. We go to a great tree farm, but the forecast is not looking good for a warm sunny day to go tagging, which is why we would do it now anyway. Daddy keeps suggesting a parking lot tree this year and I may just give in.
Get dressed up and go trick or treating: Friday – here we come!
Try some leaf crafts: Yes! We made paper leaves and placemats!
Bake an apple pie: Daddy made one just last weekend!
Get lost in a corn maze: We did this with friends this past weekend! Even with a map, we still got a little lost!
Have fun at the Pickle Festival: Of course! Every year!
Make butternut squash soup: We haven’t gotten any butternut squash in our farm share yet, but we should this week.
Make applesauce: I skipped applesauce this year and we made apple crisp instead!
Share a treat with our friends: We will make s treat for Connor’s first school party this week!
So really, we have accomplished most things (or something close) and can easily finish up the rest soon from our fall bucket list! I am still hoping to tag our Christmas tree, but it better warm up again!