Wednesday, December 26, 2012

May your days be merry and bright

Without making a conscious effort to do so, I've found that I'm taking the soak-it-in-now-and-reflect-later approach to the Christmas celebrations.  That has led to the photo above being one of only a few taken over the last few days but a heart full of giggles and snuggles and moments that can only be captured there anyway. 

Perhaps in the remaining week and a half of my break from work I'll jot some details on our plaid attire, some new holiday traditions, or our expanding collection of trains and tracks and dolls and how I'll end up organizing it all.

But for now I wish you all moments that warm your heart and even better days in 2013.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

A Drowning Eloi

It took me a little while to identify the scene that kept replaying in my mind and why my subconscious kept trying to push it to the surface over the weekend. 

There's a rushing river, a girl drowning, a man shouting to save her, and passive onlookers frolicking on the river bank. Yes, it's like that, I thought.  That's us.

After some mental rewinding and rewatching, the pastel mini-dresses came clear in my mind along with the lead actor's jawline and that afternoon when I was nine years old that I got sucked into an old movie on TV.  It was The Time Machine from 1960.

I have no idea how true to H.G. Wells' story the film is as I've never read it, but what that adaptation has always suggested to me is that over time humanity will lose its empathy, will no longer react to human distress, and will rather watch it and then move on as if it hadn't occurred. 

We all watched the news and later cried while wrapping Christmas presents this weekend.  We all have shaken our heads and wagged our fingers and snuggled the heck out of our kids.  We've all talked of gun control, mental illness, and our culture, all in some collective search for reasons, answers, and direction. 

I certainly have views on all of that, but what haunts me most right now is the idea that if our reaction ends, if our conversation stops when the news cycle dies down, that's like waiting for the river to carry the screaming girl out of earshot so we can get back to our frolicking.

Whatever aspect of this moment in history is firing you up, please don't let time burn that out.  I'm saying that to myself as much as anyone else.  For me, that aspect is character.  Instilling empathy, creativity, and accountability in my children and students is always in the back of my mind, and I believe those traits are what prevent most of us from choosing to become monsters.  I'm not naive enough to think that's the ultimate solution, but it's what I can do.  I need to keep that effort at the forefront of my parenting and my teaching, ahead of letters and numbers and showing growth on tests.  Humanity still has a heart, and we have to cultivate it.

Otherwise the cannibals will get us. 

See the movie.  You'll feel me.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Potty Training Progress

We started potty training at the end of the summer.  I was heading back to work, and although the kids' child care center and my mom would have been perfectly competent at getting potty habits started, I wanted to be the one to get the ball rolling, to teach the kids the process.  By the time I was back in my classroom, Michael was well on his way, but Sophie just wasn't there yet.  She'd sit and sit and sit and look back at her potty expecting pee or poop to magically be there, and I knew it would be a little while yet.

It was probably possible to have stayed diligent back then and to have gotten Michael peeing in the potty consistently, but with Sophie still firmly in diapers and the rotation of daytime caregivers (us, my mom, the center) starting up again, taking it easy for the time being just made more sense.  Michael started going on potty breaks at school and would go occasionally when we encouraged it at home, but we've all been pretty comfortable living in this transition stage where diapers and Pull-Ups are more than back-up.

We did a couple more potty training days over fall weekends, doing the same routine we tried in the summer (naked bottoms, potty timer, sticker rewards, salty snacks, water, lots of Elmo's Potty Time and Potty Time with Abby), but still no real luck with Soph.  However, we gave it a shot again this past weekend and it was like the light went on for our girl.  I was down in the basement sorting through my online Christmas shopping loot when Sophie told Mike she had to go, and she did!  Since then she's been wearing her Minnie Mouse undies most of the time at home with (knock, knock, knock) no accidents, keeps her Pull-Ups mostly dry the rest of the time--even for naps, and even did number two yesterday.

But guess what.  Michael isn't as into it anymore.  He still goes when we urge him to do so, but he doesn't really tell us when it's time.  He doesn't want to wear his Thomas undies (a couple of accidents early on really bummed him out), and he's not keeping his Pull-Ups as dry as I know he could. 

I'm hopeful that Sophie's progress will be a big turning point for us, that we'll get Michael back into the swing of things with Sophie at his side (literally).  We're still going to take it pretty easily, though.  The kids will still wear Pull-Ups for naps, bedtime, at the child care center, and when we go out of the house.  Perhaps pushing forward a little faster would work better, but I just don't feel the need to stress any of us out like that.  I have Michael and Sophie's third birthday in my mind as the point when I'll get frustrated.  For now, we're in the process, and hopefully by April the process will be complete.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Ribbon Tree

Michael and Sophie enjoyed sticking paper ribbons to a wrapping paper tree in their toddler classroom last year at their center's Christmas party, and I filed that away as a project to try at home.  It's not a toy that can be played with again and again like its felt cousin, but the supplies for this tree were on hand in our gift wrapping stash, and we've done it a couple of times now.  The pictures below are from the second time around when I actually cut the tree big enough to fully cover the vinyl one underneath.

Stickers are as popular as cheese around here these days, so this activity fit right in.

Ribbon Tree-1 Ribbon Tree-2

Ribbon Tree-3

Ribbon Tree-4 Ribbon Tree-5

Ribbon Tree-6

Ribbon Tree-7

Ribbon Tree-8

Ribbon Tree-9
"Help, pwease."

Ribbon Tree-10

Here's Michael playing "Pa-rum-pa-pum-pum" on the ribbon box and looking a lot like old pictures of his dad.

Ribbon Tree-11

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