Jolly Playmates

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Oh jolly playmate, come out and play with me

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and bring your dollies three.  Climb up my apple tree.

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Slide down my rainbow into my cellar door.

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And we’ll be jolly friends forevermore.

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May Fair Blossoms

Our adventures in envious Waldorf behavior continues with this year’s May Fair celebration, complete with a real May pole, cake walks, silk watercolors and face painting, flower crowns and lots and lots of bubbles.  It started with a walk around our very own May pole with Little H’s morning garden class, with a guest appearance by big sister Em.

PicMonkey Collage

Then we returned that afternoon for the school-wide celebration, where I remembered just how much Em has enjoyed it in years past and probably should be attending school there even now.  She just blossoms there.

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Little H loves being there, too.  We three ladies had a lovely afternoon watching the classes do the cake walks, snacking on delicious cookies and weaving flowers into a crown for Em (which was a true labor of love, but was worth it in the end!).

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I have always struggled with our decision to pull Em out of the Waldorf school for financial reasons, since I feel that she is such a perfect fit for that brand of alternative education.  But I have hope after a very successful preK year that she will bloom wherever she is planted, as long as we continue to nurture her sweet spirit and individual self.

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We’ll just take every year as it comes and enjoy this girl as she grows!

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Taking Flight

When I pick up Em and Jax from school today, it will be with cheers of jubilation and sighs of relief that our first year with kids in school was such a roaring success.  They will be my little first grader and kindergartener from this day forward, and it’s with so much love (and a bit of trepidation) that the entire summer lays before us, just waiting to unveil itself to us, with its promise of lazy days and grand adventures.  I am so looking forward to just allowing them to be themselves and to learn at their own pace, exploring the world all summer long, so that when school comes around again in the fall they will be ready to take flight, rejuvenated and content in their own skin.

Chalk Outline Butterfly @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Like butterflies.

Oh, and don’t forget the butterfly-in-training.  She’s still got some growing to do!

Chalk Outline Butterfly @ Rub Some Dirt On It.  Use chalk to make butterfly wings and antennae and have the child form the body!

Happy summer!

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It’s Game Time!

Okay, enough practicing.  It’s game time!

Em’s ballet conflicted with t-ball so I didn’t make it to all Jax’s games, but the ones I did were so priceless I can’t wait for next year when Em can play, too!  Jax was very excited and passionate about being on the team, and I know that a lot of that had to do with his excellent coach, who did such a great job teaching them the foundation and love of baseball while still having lots of fun.

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My favorite part was watching Jax at first base, trying so valiantly to do what he knew he was supposed to do, even if his body may not have the coordination to keep up with his brain yet.  He’s got time, and meanwhile, watching his eager and overzealous effort was delightful.

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Of course, there’s nothing cuter than little guys wearing gigantic batting helmets.  Unless it’s a little guy wearing a gigantic batting helmet with his shirt tucked in “just so” (by Dad) to his regulation gray baseball pants, cinched right above his very first pair of cleats.  My heart explodes just a little looking at him.

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He has a good little swing and loves running the bases!  He is (not surprisingly) a bit of an aggressive base runner, so he often tries to stretch a single into a double…even if there is a kid still on second base.  Like I said, he’ll get there.

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Add to all that the joy of being on a team, rooting for one another and learning to be a good sport, these Saturdays in spring were some of my favorite parenting days yet!

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Go Lions!

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Fixing A Hole

Little H is my second girl, but in so many ways she is absolutely unique. Sometimes, without a doubt, there is a glimmer of tomboy in her, and I love how she is her own little person, even while she looks up to Em so wholeheartedly.

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I am and always have been super girly, wearing dresses everyday to elementary school and enjoying every moment of cheerleading and sorority life.  My younger sister Amanda was every bit the tomboy, so this is a little bit of deja vu for my family.  Little H loves tools, trains, and things that go.  She chooses Lightning McQueen band-aids over Hello Kitty.  I love that even though she can play princesses with her big sister, there’s a rough and tumble side to her as well.

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As I was taking her photos on this busy morning, I watched while she made an interesting observation: her bellybutton.  She noticed it and then proceeded to get our her screwdriver to fix the hole.  “A hole.  Hmmm.  I fix it.”  I was laughing so hard I didn’t even get a picture.

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Balancing her love of princesses and purple with this very tomboyish side is enough to wear a girl out.  Luckily she has both boy and girl toys to inherit from Jax and Em.  I wonder what the future has in store for my unique and special little one.

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Raising Good Humans

Truth: Summer is coming, and with it three little humans who will be home with me all day, every day.  I am excited to have nowhere to rush off to, no lunches to pack, no gym shoes to remember and no schedule to adhere to.  But at the same time…nowhere to be?  No schedule to adhere to?  Suddenly the weeks of uninterrupted time alone with my children sounds a little more…daunting.

Truth:  I need a schedule.  In fact, I thrive on it and I believe children do, too.  Add to that equation that both Jax and I are a little Type A and the need for a bit of structure to our summer is real.  Jax has already asked me if we can make a daily routine chart like they have at school (you know, breakfast play snack play lunch play read play dinner bed).  But he wants it on a posterboard written in permanent marker so that he knows what is coming next.  I guess we both need a bit of a plan.

Truth:  I get a lot of stuff done when the big kids are at school and Little H is napping, and I’m not going to give that up just because it’s summer.  I can either give the kids lots of time to play independently (sign me up) or I can include them in the getting-stuff-done process (sounds good).  I decided I would do both, and so the internet/Pinterest/Etsy search for a chore chart was on.

The search brought me to Fisher Kids, a company you can check out here that has a philosophy on parenting I can get behind.  They are called Fisher Kids because they want to teach kids to fish, to provide for themselves, and thus become functioning humans in society who don’t need their Mommy or Daddy to hold their hands at every problem.  Fisher Kids also believes that kids need not be rewarded or receive accolades for every little thing they do in life. “There is a need for children to have intrinsic motivation to succeed. Our stations are designed to teach children that there are some things we do simply because we want to help the family team. These are not “paid for” chores, simply deeds we all do around the house to keep a healthy, happy, high-functioning home.”  You don’t get a trophy for just showing up here, kids.  You’d better work.

Fisher Kids has a whole responsibility station you can purchase and it looks great and comes completely set up for you.  My only problem was we don’t have a ton of wall space so I wanted a chore/responsibility system that was more three-dimensional.  Plus I love jars.  But I did buy the responsibility magnets from Fisher Kids, one for Jax and one for Em.  I put them on our refrigerator and assigned them each two “deeds”–jobs that they have to do just because they are functioning members of our family who help out.  They get those chores for a week.

Responsibility & Chore Chart @ Rub Some Dirt On It Responsibility & Chore Chart @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Then I bought a $3 jar at TJ Maxx with a chalkboard label on the front to hold a colorful array of “chores”–things the kids can do to make money if they are feeling particularly industrious–and “deeds.”  The brown/plain sticks are the “deeds” — Dishwasher Duty, Set the Table, Sweep the Kitchen, etc.  They have a deed on one side and “Thank you” written on that back  That’s all they get for participating, but being polite and thankful are important things to learn, too.

The colorful sticks are “chores” and are more specific–Wipe Down the Counters, Tidy and Clean the Coffee Table–and have a monetary value written on the back.  These range from 10-50 cents, depending on how labor intensive the chore is.  Just making them colorful made them appealing to the kids, and the fact that they are learning how to add money (so they can write down the commission earned each day and the total for the week) is an added bonus.  If you need a place to start for your chores, I love the list provided here.

Responsibility & Chore Chart @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Basically, the kids don’t make any money if they just do their deeds and don’t do any chores.  They get a hearty “Thank You” for your help and we’ll see you next week.  BUT the chore jar is going to be the first place I send them this summer if they give me the dreaded, “I’m booooooored…” at which point they will be bored no longer because I will be having them do chores for free.  I can’t wait.

The other element of Fisher Kids I like is to teach them not only to be helpful members of our family, but also contributing members to our community.  The kids are going to give a percentage of their wages to a “Give” jar, which we will let build up and use for some kind of contribution, donation, or random act of kindness.  Having the money be earned instead of given to them will really help them build some sense of ownership in the process, and I look forward to brainstorming ideas about how we can help our community over the course of the year.

Responsibility & Chore Chart @ Rub Some Dirt On It

The last thing I am going to do is start rewarding the kids for good behavior and exhibiting qualities I try to encourage in them.  For example, yesterday Em dropped her cup of graham crackers and without me having to say anything Jax came over and gave her some of his.  That sort of kindness should be acknowledged and rewarded; so once they reach a certain number of beads for their Caring Jar, we will have some kind of family reward, like going to get ice cream or making s’mores.  Something fun that celebrates the kids being well-rounded, kind people.  That’s my goal in life, anyway: to foster that in them.  And to have as many uses for jars and beads as possible.

Responsibility & Chore Chart @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Lastly I got two small swingtop jars at Walmart for Jax and Em to put the money they make into–we’ll separate it into money to spend and money to save, and hopefully we can make a decent amount to open a savings account at the end of the summer.  I put it all in a pretty crate that is now my Command Center and smiled like crazy about how happy being organized makes me.

Responsibility & Chore Chart @ Rub Some Dirt On It

 And raising good humans.  That’s pretty important, too.

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My Mother’s Day

This year on Mother’s Day (aka the best holiday ever because it’s always on a Sunday and therefore JDubbs is always around), I asked for the usual things: sleeping in, time with my family, and lunch at The White Cottage in Woodstock.  Better known as my happy place, with my very favorite people in the world.

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I’m not alone in my opinion!

Every spring we can’t wait for Mother’s Day when The White Cottage opens with its delicious food, fabulous ice cream and setting that just begs families to sit and stay awhile.  I really cannot ask for more than the many memories I’ve had with my kids, sitting by the river, throwing stones, playing in the grass, and pretty much guarenteed an idyllic Vermont summer day together.

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Every year we come here, and every year I can’t think of anywhere I’d rather be on my special day.  The kids look forward to it, and so do I!  Jax asks to play Red Rover and Em looks for minnows and tadpoles in the little pools beside the river.  Everyone loves the ice cream and there is no rush to head home.

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These four people are the greatest gift any mother could ask for, and this Mother’s Day, like always, was a day worth waiting for.

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Thank you for a very wonderful day!

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