Nailed It

Yesterday, Josh borrowed our wonderful neighbor’s car and drove to our local hardware store to rent a carpet cleaner. On his way out the door, I asked him to pick up some scrap wood and nails for Jude to play around with.  Jude is always eager to help Josh with whatever home project Josh has undertaken, so I figured this would be right up his alley.

I was right! Hooray!

After lunch, I gave Jude the rundown of what Josh had picked up at the store. We quickly talked about holding the hammer and how to start the nail before going to town with the hammering, and then he was off. His favorite bit seemed to be using the back side of the hammer to remove partially-hammered-in nails. It was magical for him, and it was magical for me to watch him.

Before leaving to do some work at a local coffee shop, Josh suggested that Jude might want to place the nails in a pattern and then string some  yarn around the mostly, but not completely, hammered in nails. Jude though that sounded like a neat idea and decided that he wanted to draw the shape of a trident and use it as a decoration for his upcoming (*non-Skylanders*) birthday party. I’m excited to see how it turns out!

Party Time

Jude loves a good party. Whether it’s a birthday party (his or someone else’s), a Christmas party, a Mardi Gras party, or just a really nice brunch with friends, Jude. Is. Down. Almost immediately after his birthday last year, he told me that *next* year he wanted a Skylanders birthday party. I told him it was just a touch early to start planning the following year’s party. I really thought he’d change his mind. He has not.

So, with almost exactly three months to go until the big day, I’m starting to plan this birthday party. I’m scouring Pinterest, and trying to pay more attention to the details of the game while Jude and I play. I don’t know if I’m up to this challenge. His Minecraft party two years ago really stretched my abilities, and in that case, we were working with cubes. This year I’m looking at making fondant cupcake toppers, decorative vines to hang around the place, and a Kaos pinata. And more!

I think my plan is going to be to buy a notebook (paper!) and start trying to make lists of activities/decorations/food and their corresponding shopping list, and then just dive right in. This year, we may go ahead and rent some space to hold the party, instead of having it outside like we normally do. (And all the party-goers rejoice! They won’t have to spend three hours near the beach in the cold and wind this year!) Give than I have three months to work on it, I *should* be able to get it all done.

Right?

Sick Days

Often, when I’m having a string of tiring or trying days, or when I feel a bit under the weather, I half-joke about how I’m not allow to get sick. I’ll go on and on about how my works never ends and how I never get a day off.

Then, days like Wednesdays happen, and I am reminded that I am surrounded by a family that cares for each other. Of course, when Jude or Ramona are sick, Josh and I work together to keep them comfortable and help them get well. When Josh is sick, he likes to be left alone, so I keep the kids occupied and get him water, food, and medicine as needed. And then, when I get sick, as I was on Wednesday, and as I have been in the past, Josh takes off work to let me rest. Jude helps as he can, playing with Ramona, getting water for me, and being incredibly sweet. Ramona does her part by being cute and spending time with me while I’m stuck in bed. I’m not alone, and the pity-parties I’ve had for myself in the past are uncalled for. I’m extremely lucky to have the family I have, and I’m going to do better about remembering that.

Seven, Three, and Simplicity

In the past three months, Jude has turned seven, Ramona has turned three, and I’ve been lucky enough to have at least one or two really wonderfully simple days with the kids.

For Jude’s seventh birthday party, we created a pop-up adventure playground for him and his friends. For around two hours, the kids (and adults!) used different materials to create some really amazing things (houses, boats, etc.). We had huge cardboard boxes on that that we had picked up from a not-so-local recycling center; large cardboard tubes from bolts of fabric; paper bags; fabric; markers; tape; scissors; and a bunch of other things. Oh! Also, cupcakes. Lots of those, as well.

Ramona’s birthday party was a bit more low-key than her brother’s. We invited friends to join us at a local park and play there for a few hours. We decorated and brought snacks and coffee to share, of course. And THERE WERE MANY CUPCAKES, as well. It was a lovely morning that melted into a lunch out with friends (lovely!) and our first family outing to play putt-putt (so fucking miserable).

And then, today! We had such a nice day, today. Mostly, this summer has been lacking in the heat department, but today was 90-degrees-hot. To be honest, after testing the waters on a short 2-mile run this morning, I didn’t want to take the kids out to get sweaty and tired. And, since Jude has circus camp in the afternoons, I figured that chilling out at home was a better idea than expending all his energy before four hours of constant movement and exertion. So. We stayed home. Jude spent a good bit of the morning Skyping with a friend while playing Minecraft with her on his Realm. Ramona and I worked our way through the awesome birthday gifts she was given: reusable stickers, a board game, some crayons and paper… Then, when I had to stop to wash dishes and make lunch, Jude happily took a break from the computer to hang out with Ramona, which was a real gift. We ate lunch, and then I helped Jude get ready for camp. After seeing him off, Ramona and I continued to play with her new toys. This time, water colors and paper tape and some sort of magnetic-y sand. And then, when I realized we needed to go to the market to get stuff for dinner, the girl happily got ready and walked along side me to the market.

The best part of the day was that it ended as well as it began. Jude and I read for about an hour together-a rare treat these days. We usually top out at about 30 minutes or so. Because circus camp require so much energy, we try to make sure he can be in bed by 8pm, and we ‘re lucky if we’re finished with dinner by 7:30pm. But, tonight Ramona wanted yogurt after she finished her ice cream, so I continued to read and read and read. Finally, the kids had used the bathroom, brushed their teeth, and changed their clothes… sleep came quickly for them both. Soon, it will be my turn.

Right Now

Right now, my entire family is asleep. I’ll be headed there shortly, but first, I wanted to take advantage of the quiet to think and write down some things I’ve been thinking about and experiencing lately. In no particular order…

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A Collection of Thoughts

Over the past few days, I’ve had the urge to write, but haven’t had the time. This evening, I have the time but not much focus. So, instead of a cohesive story, I offer you some snippets and a glance into a few different aspects of our lives.

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Napless in Chicago

Today marked two weeks of Ramona not napping. I. Am. Exhausted.

During the past two months or so, the girl had been fighting her mid-day nap tooth and nail. Then, THEN, she would fight sleep for an hour (sometimes an hour and a half) at night. Ramona not falling asleep until 9:30pm meant me not going to bed until *at least* 11pm, and that just wasn’t sustainable. So, Josh and I decided to see how the wildling would do sans nap. The result? Besides me being fucking tired all time time, you mean? Well, amazingly, it worked. Ramona can make it through the day (most days) without napping (unless we’re traveling in a car-in that case, all bets are off), and only gets extra cranky starting around 6pm. However, she’s also noticeably tired, which is something she hadn’t been for a long time. Bedtime takes, at most, 20 minutes, but usually it’s closer to 10 or 15. For Josh and me, this means we’re getting to bed at a (slightly) more reasonable hour, even while feeding my Doctor Who addiction.

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Cabin Fever

Two days ago, I snapped.

This winter has been the coldest, snowiest, and most miserable winter of my 32 years on this planet. Chicago has had more days with a high temperature BELOW ZERO than I’d care to count. The kids and I have been home (mostly) and dealing (mostly) all winter. We’ve read books and watched movies, played LEGOs and built forts. We’ve swung on our indoor swing and jumped on our trampoline. We’ve had dance parties. We’ve napped. We’ve painted pictures, played (Don’t) Burp (Break) the Ice, mined in underwater caves in Minecraft, visited museums, and had coffee dates with our artist friends… but it’s just not enough.

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Turning In

Lately, I’ve been spending much of free time (read: minutes stolen, here and there) delving into radical unschooling books (right now- Free to Learn by Peter Gray), listservs, and (egads!) Facebook groups. One piece of advice that keeps cropping up is “turn in.” Turn in to your family. Look inward. Find joy within, rather than without. Since the beginning of this year, I’ve been being intentional in doing just that.

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Theatre, Darling

Dear Rogers Park neighbors: Stop what you’re doing right now and go and get yourself a subscription to the 2013-2014 KidsSeries at Lifeline Theatre. Don’t walk. Run. Seriously.

This afternoon, Lifeline Theatre had an open house for the first show in their 2013-2014 KidsSeries lineup, Click, Clack, Boo! Jude and I have been to a few of these open houses in the past, and they’re always a ton of fun. Today we got a sneak peak of the show, and, wow. Really. WOW. I am always impressed by the productions put on by Lifeline, but today, I was blown away. The acting, even just two weeks into rehearsals, was top notch, and the music? The music was awesome. Catchy and fun and funny. Jude was literally on the edge of his seat listening and watching.

After seeing a bit of the show, the Education Director at Lifeline (Lea Pinsky) came out to talk to the kids and get them started on some really neat Halloween crafts. Jude usually isn’t a crafty kid, but he really, really enjoyed making the ghost puppet and jack-o-lantern mask Lea had planned out for them. While that was going on, the adults chatted or took a tour of the theatre. At the end of the program, I did the only thing I could after having been wowed and awed and amazed: I walked my butt up to the ticket counter and paid for two subscriptions for the season.

Please, neighbors, take my advice–get a subscription for everyone in your family. We’ve seen every show in the KidsSeries since 2010, and we have not yet been disappointed. You won’t be either. Promise.