Monthly Archives: February 2012

Jumping Jacks with Toddlers – A Kafkaesque Experience

Thirty jumping jacks was all I had to do. Little boy was really eager to “workout” with me. As I prepared to start my first one, he yelled out, “One!” and continued on counting right in sync. I gave him a big smile and did my jumping jacks with great gusto and good cheer.

And then he got into the teens. “Fifteen…Seventeen..”

This isn’t so bad I thought. I’m okay skipping a number or two.

And then we were in the 20’s.

And then we were back in the teens.

We were not getting any closer to 30. At all.

Things continued on in this vein.

Little boy was belting out the numbers and I was flapping my arms.

I thought to myself that this would make for an even better workout and I was okay with that, until I started tiring. And then I realized that instead of a mildly more intense workout, I was really trapped in some Kafkaesque novel. The fun was quickly leaving.

And then somehow or other, we were there! Thankfully.

1 Comment

Filed under Life with Kids

Warm Slippers and Easy Bedtimes

“Ahhhtoyuk! Ahhhtoyuk!”

My little boy is lying in bed singing his Eskimo name. We walked in the dark (one of my favorite times) to Eskimo Dance tonight, completely forgetting that it was canceled because of Ash Wednesday services at the church. He was very excited about going and walked the entire way, holding my hand and pulling the sled in the other.

We greeted some friends at the church and they called him by his Eskimo name. He was shy as he often is and didn’t talk. I said our good-bye’s and he climbed into the sled for a nice quiet walk home in the cold dark with the snow crystallizing around us. Once back home, he hugged his dad good-night and ran up to bed reminding me that we should be very quiet because sister was sleeping.

And then once tucked in bed, that quiet rule was quickly dropped and he began processing out loud the events of the day.

He sang his name a few more times then spoke about the Kids Yoga DVD, sang about an alligator and now I can hear him falling asleep.

Sometimes being a parent is just so dang easy and special. I could do this every night.

Other times, such as when I was showering before dinner and little girl kept trying to throw articles of my clothing into the shower (with brother giggling away in the background) are not so easy. (“Stop” just created more giggles. “I feel frustrated” went unheeded. “Time out?” got brother taking a step away from sister, but still bright red from the giggles. “You need to be a big brother and talk to your sister” said with utter seriousness from my spot in the shower brought the words, “Sister. You may NOT throw things in the bath.” It made me want to giggle. Sister definitely did not heed his advice, but by then I was done showering and so with my free hand I grabbed my underwear before it got thrown in, turned her little body towards the door, and somehow managed to get dressed and out of there without anything more landing in the tub)

However, my socks, which I thought were dry enough, turned out to be fairly wet from their brief toss into the shower. I didn’t really process this until little boy and I were out walking to Eskimo dance and the chill began to seep in through my shoes creating a cold clammy unpleasant experience. But now, back home, with my feet in my warm Valentine’s slippers from my husband and two sleeping children, the frustrations of the day (and the cold feet) all seem so far away and everything seems quite nice.

May every night go so smoothly.

1 Comment

Filed under Life in Alaska, Life with Kids

Eskimo Dance, Valentine’s Day, Blue Skies, and a Dirty Drinking Vessel

Last night I took little boy to Eskimo Dance for the first time. I loved, loved, loved being back in the midst of the drums and old Eskimo songs. As we walked home in the snow with me pulling boy in his sled, I felt excited for the next time.

Going to Eskimo Dance isn’t easy. The group here in this community is primarily made up of King Island Dancers who I don’t really know. I know Diomede folks, but nobody from Diomede was there when I walked in. When I walked in, everybody, including the elders were sitting in chairs along the wall and I saw right away that the drummers hadn’t begun to arrive. (Of course! I was on city time showing up right on time!) I recognized people from around town, but didn’t really know anyone. I felt shy and awkward. I wondered if I was welcome (I know the Diomeders have welcomed me, but they weren’t there). The room felt quiet, but I took a deep breath and recognized that all this is normal and took off our jackets and sat down and waited.

There were some other kids and soon my boy went to go play. He chased another little kid and they both laughed and I talked a little with the women near me who also had kids. When more people arrived, my boy climbed up in my lap hugging me tightly (he was feeling a bit shy as well) and watched the going-ons. The drummers arrived, including a couple past students who are now looking like really strong young men.

The dances began with a couple drum songs. Little boy sat on my lap and felt the rhythm through my legs and moved his hands with mine in the motions of the common dance (the opening dances which are open to all). Even though I’ve been around, I still have to watch and wait and figure out the protocols and etiquette. I waited for another common dance in which more women stood up before I joined in. Sighing in pleasure – it felt so good! My little boy went up as well – both interested in everything going on, overwhelmed by the loud drums, and in awe of everything going on. I could see on his face that the overwhelminess was beginning to tip the scale so I said, “One more dance and then we’ll go home” and he agreed. He stared at the young boys dancing the boys’ dance and I smiled thinking of how fun it will be to watch him when he tries out the dances for the first time.

We joined in the next dance and then bundled back up to head home in the snow. While walking I thought back to the times I lived in Diomede and the small well-used and well- worn Rec Center where drumming and dancing would happen twice a week – with kids racing in and out, teenagers sitting on the back tables whispering and giggling, and wind blowing in snow whenever the door opened. I miss it. If I could go back and do it all again, I think I’d try to soak up and appreciate the Eskimo dancing. It wasn’t an easy thing to be at because I always was aware that I was an outsider and I knew my dancing could use some work and I didn’t know all the etiquette and lots of times I just wanted to be at home or working, but at the same time, I miss it tremendously. There was a cozy famiarity about it that I loved and there were moments amidst all the time I spent there that were so wonderful – like when I really recognized the songs and felt my dancing as part of the other women’s dancing. Ohhh – it is hard to live in the present and appreciate all the things isn’t it?

It was a good night and I am excited to go again and to tackle my shyness and get to know this group of people (and hopefully more of the folks I know will be there next time)

Today we celebrated Valentine’s Day and it was nice. We had a heart shaped breakfast, a couple little presents for the kids and then a nice walk to the frozen ocean with the kids and the dog. It was an absolutely gorgeous day and little girl is walking further and further in her bundled up gear, absolutely content to wait for us to pick her up when she falls face forward in the snow that is too deep for her.

For the kids’ nap, I bundled them up again to go in the stroller thinking I’d get a great long walk in the beautiful winter air. It was beautiful all right, until we got out of town and out of the protection of the houses. The north wind was whipping over the tundra onto the ocean and we were right in its path. The kids didn’t care because they were sound asleep, totally snuggled up and warm, but I felt the cold burn on the side of my face and in my legs which were snowpant free. Nonetheless, we kept walking and returned home an hour or so later feeling the darkness of the house after the intense bright light of the outside.

The late afternoon was spent indoors while the wind outside continued picking up. The kids both ran around naked practicing using the potty. Big boy has got it figured out most of the naked time, but little girl is sitting on the potty at all the wrong times. She really wants to get it and she’ll get it eventually and in the meantime, I’m thankful our floors do not have carpets and are easily cleaned.

The nakedness also seems to lead to crazier play and I soon noticed that the children had absconded with yet another one of my drinking vessels – this time a large glass pickle jar. They had an Elmo spoon dropped in and were now fishing out a small brown porcelein owl (being mindful to pull up their sleeves). The water, the jar – it all looked gross. I sought out a new jar which I may be able to keep away from them for a day or two. They were full of giggles.

And the rest of the evening followed along with puzzles dumped onto the floor and then pieced back together, a call from a friend asking if we’d like some fresh crab they’d just pulled up this evening and the start to some Guinness stout brownies taken from a blogher post.

Considering how exhausted I’ve been feeling these days and how BEHIND I feel with the clutter in our house, I have to sit and appreciate that there really are a lot of rich things managing to sneak their way in.

I only hope I can appreciate them in their goods and bads and awkwardnesses so that I can feel like I fully experienced this wonderful life I am living.

And tomorrow….off to Eskimo dance again.

3 Comments

Filed under Life in Alaska, Life with Kids

My Naked Kids

My naked children are racing around after dinner delightedly pushing their chairs which have select books in the seats and dry dog food sprinkled on top. They are giggling as they run back and forth from the kitchen into the living room. They stop at the front door and climb up on their chairs to inspect the lock mechanisms and then climb down and push the chairs across the floor again with glee. They are a team.

I take out my phone to film a video clip for my husband who is out of town and I see our house in the screen:

There is a print we bought recently at a charity auction perched askew on the hutch. Our children are naked with grubby faces (possibly from dog food that they might have been sampling). A couple plants are doing great and a few others are looking fairly neglected. The kitchen counter is clean and so is the stove top, but the oven door is looking like it could use a scrub. Now the children are climbing up on their table and dancing. They look like beautiful bohemian children.

This is our evening after dinner and it’s wonderful.

I finish the dishes and pick up a few things and marvel at how the house could go so quickly from absolute chaos and dishevelment to something that looks okay to come down to in the morning.

Guess what time it is kids?

“Time to brush teeth!” they say (in their own ways) and run to the bathroom where they each claim one half of the stool.

And now little girl is asleep and little boy has given me his cub bear love bites and is somewhat quietly talking to his stuffed animals. He might fall asleep.

It’s a nice way to end a very long day.

7 Comments

Filed under Life with Kids

They Are In Cahoots

Tonight after dinner, little boy and little girl made their way into the kitchen where they proceeded to eat the remnants of shredded cheese still left on the cutting board. They both knew they were taking advantage of having the kitchen to themselves. They then proceeded to open the silverware drawer and with great cackles of glee and delight, they scooped out all the silverware (no knives) and threw them onto the floor.

Husband and I heard this and I could see this all happening from my spot on the couch, but neither of us really wanted to stand up and enforce the ceasation of their activity. And we didn’t want to say anything if we weren’t ready to enforce it. It was easier to just sit and giggle in the living room at their joyful cahoots.

And then they climbed off the stool and started picking the silverware up!

Could our children really be this amazing?

No.

Once they put all the silverware back in the drawer, they threw it all out again. And repeated this process quite a few times, never seeming to tire of the thrill of this activity that they knew must not really be endorsed by the parents and was so full of great clattery sounds.

When husband did go in the kitchen and once the silverware was all cleaned up and the drawer was closed, little boy, completely caught up in the fun, tried to open the drawer. Husband said, “No, you may not open the drawer right now”. Little boy responded, “Will you open the drawer for me?” We burst out laughing – does little boy know that he was being witty. I think he might.

And our silverware? It’s back in the drawer, but if friends come to dinner, we’ll be sure to wash it before we let them use it.

1 Comment

Filed under Life with Kids

Sneaky Girl!

Out of the corner of my eye, I keep catching my 16 month old doing things she shouldn’t. And then she smiles and I shake my head and think to myself that I must be mistaken. She’s such a good sweet little girl that always runs to help put things away.

But I’m not mistaken. Today, I enlisted my periphereal vision to keep an eye on her when she thought my head was turned the other way. Ha! She was peeling off the tape that covers all the buttons to our heater (important buttons and ones that we don’t really understand, making it that much more important to leave them be). She was peeling off the tape and quickly reaching for the buttons.

But when I looked her way, she quickly pulled her hand back and turned her body. She even enunciated, “no” to me as if she was really telling me that she knew that was “Off Limits” and would never violate that rule.

She is a sneaky little one!

And it makes me smile.

But it does amaze me that she can be so young and yet so aware of what needs to be done covertly and what does not. I don’t think little boy had that awareness at her age (and even now at 30 months, he is so much more transparent than she is!).

She’s a sly little one with such earnestness and such delight as she demonstrates new skills. This week has been chock full of intense efforts to repeat back important words such as “hands” and “heart” and “sock” and “yellow”. She’s even signing words with cute little pudgy hands doing pretty much the same thing each time – a bit like her talking, but she’s SO DANG CUTE about it.

And then tonight, I discovered one of our wax hearts torn (torn!) off the window with wax crayon shavings all over the end table below (our kids use the end table as a boat and as a way to see out the window – they’re good climbers and balancers – thank goodness!).

Little girl was next to me when I discovered the destructive act and I asked her if she took it down. She shook her head and said, “no”. (She shook her head!) I asked her if her brother did and she nodded her head and said, “no”. Hmmmm. I went to older brother who was sitting on the potty reading a book hoping and hoping he could make something happen and I asked him. He looked perplexed and said he did not tear down the heart.

I believed him. It’s not his modus operandi.

I went back to little girl. I think she knew the game was up. I asked her again. She nodded her head this time and tried ever so hard to enunciate, “yes”, but out came, “nuo”. I explained that now we’d have to throw it away (it was way past fixing) and she nodded again, took it from my hand, and toddled off to the trashcan.

She loves those wax hearts we made. I’m really surprised we’ve only lost one. But I think I’ll need to keep a better eye on my little girl who has learned via older brother and faithful-ever-hungry dog that it is good to be quick and sly when something captures your attention.

Leave a comment

Filed under Life with Kids

Month of Love

When I was a kid, I’d wake up and go downstairs on February 14th and there at my seat at the table would be a little red and white stuffed animal or a little puzzle or a mug. One St. Patrick’s day, my mom made my milk green. On Easter, I searched for chocolate eggs with the dogs by my side. I grew up enjoying the special days that are sprinkled throughout the year and, in retrospect, I think that was a truly wonderful gift.

I think it’s fun to have a cause to celebrate or make a day a bit more special. It’s fun to get something new or something made just for you. And it’s fun to grow up and want to do the same for others. It’s fun to have an excuse to decorate or make waxed crayon hearts for the windows and I think the stirring up of creative energy can only be a good thing for it brings some play and humor and light into our lives.

A bit ago, I read avflox’s Defense of Valentine’s Day! She quoted the poet and writer, Catherynne Valente and I am going to do the same thing because I really like the sentiment:

This world is a beautiful place, but it is also often dark, and cold, and unfeeling, and life slips by, not because it is short, but because it is so difficult to hold onto. Holidays, rituals, these things demarcate the time. They remind us of the sharpness of pleasure and the nearness of death. They tell us when the sun leaves, and when it comes back.
This world needs more holidays, not less. More ritual, the gorgeous, flexible, non-dogmatic kind that isn’t about religion but about ecstasy in the sheer humanness of our bodies and souls. More chances to reach out, to sing, to love, to bedeck ourselves in ritual colors and become splendid as the year turns around.
And no, I’m sorry. It doesn’t work to say “make every day special.” First of all, most of you know damn well that you don’t shower your partner with gifts and adoration and that most precious of things: dedicated, mindful time every day of the year. Even the best relationship is not a 24/7 orgiastic festival of plenty and perfect moments. No human can sustain it. If every day is special, none of them are. If every day is special, specialness becomes monotony. What makes days special is the time between, the anticipation of a the day, the planning, the surprises, coming together, cooking, playing, reveling in sheer time, watching the dedicated colors and rituals that wire our brain for pleasure spring up in the world to remind us that we live in it. The entire purpose of holidays is that they are a kind of otherworld we step into, full of special symbols, that informs and shapes everyday life–and some of life, no matter how some bloggers would like to deny it in their Grinchitude, is always everyday.
Life slips by, so very fast. Spend it in the practice of joy, not the destruction of it.

Yesterday the kids and I put some hearts up on our windows. Little girl was SO Intensely Pleased and kept pointing and smiling at the colorful works that she helped create. Today we went out walking and visiting friends. Tomorrow we plan to make some more decorations and I plan to try out a new brownie recipe that, once baked, we can deliver to random people (the delivering is the most fun part I think).

Fitting things in to our day is hard and it takes effort, and I’m a bit alarmed at the fact that we are already eight days into this wonderful month that brings longer days, but I love the effort and I love even more that I’m showing my kids how to celebrate and care for others.

And I find I don’t like to make just ONE day the focal point so I figure we can celebrate Valentine’s Day all month (it also gives us some leeway in case the days sneak up too quickly)

And maybe, just maybe my husband and I will seek out a friend to watch our kids so we can go off and enjoy some time together as well.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

“K is for Kiss”

Nap time and little girl is quietly breathing away and little boy is quietly reading books behind me on his bed. I’m lying on the ground with my head resting on his mattress. And then little boy who still can’t kiss leans over and says, “Mommy, K is for kiss” and mouths the bridge of my nose. I look over at him and he has the art museum book with a portrait of a child embraced by a mother in a kiss.

Dang cute little boy who won’t go to sleep!

I’m super hoping he does nod off soon because the weather outside is gorgeous and sunny and I want to take the kids out in the double stroller for a walk out of town. It’s still cold, of course, and there is a touch of a breeze, and my feet in their tennis shoes got cold when I went out at lunch to the post office, but overall, it’s like summer!

So my dear little boy, please fall asleep so you can wake up and we can go enjoy the outside.

Little girl is wiggling her feet. This is not a good sign.

And I just banged my eyebrow ridge on the windowsill leaning over to pick up the fallen binky. Ouch. Major ouch and I think it will be a major bruise. At least I hope it gets to look as bad as if feels.

Plan B (Nap in the stroller)

Plan B revised (Go make coffee to muster up the energy to bundle the kids up and get them out of the house. Then, nap in the stroller (the kids, not me))

I’m downstairs making my coffee. The children are decidedly not asleep. I hear them talking and little boy is handing little girl books and they keep pulling the cord to the music box. I’m drinking my coffee. As fast as I can.

B is for Beautiful Blue sky day

C is for Coffee

K is for Kiss

S is for Beautiful Sunny Day

W is for Walk in a beautiful world of White

Z is for a nap in the stroller bundled up in the fresh summer winter air

Leave a comment

Filed under Life in Alaska, Life with Kids

Oh, Glorious Days

This last weekend, a blizzard rolled in and it was wonderful, wonderful, wonderful. We stayed inside and I worked on my puzzle and the kids played and outside the snow piled up in drifts preventing people from driving and knocking out electricity in part of the town, and it was blizzardy and it was WARM.

Warm is a bit of a relative term, but compared to the negative twenty to forty degree temperatures of the last month, anything above zero was a refreshing and welcome relief. Facebook posts had comments from people who were finally doing laundry because their drain pipes thawed and others just commenting on the falling snow. We put away the hairdryer we’d used to thaw some of our pipes every morning and we considered getting our car from the airport where it’s been stored in deep-freeze since December. Everything is nicer when it’s warmer.

Ahhhh – and it is SO nice to walk outside without a face mask and SO easy to get the kids ready to go out. And the air is so much more MOIST. We’ve been running a humidifier up in the kids’ room every night and the humidity level still sits below 20 which is pretty dry, but now it must be higher.

So yesterday, I semi-bundled up the kids and we went walking to the post office and then to the playground. It felt like the world had righted itself. Little girl fell asleep in the stroller so she missed the playground experience, but little boy and I had a fun time climbing up the ladder and going down the slide into a thwump of soft snow.

And today, again, we semi-bundled up and went out to the library for kid’s hour and on the walk the sun was rising and the sky was laced with hot pink which quickly faded away and we loved it, loved it, loved it. Winter is wonderful when you can be out in it and I found myself again really enjoying this odd little town that we live in.

And as for my thoughts of making this a month of music? Haven’t done anything towards that one, but we have begun our decorations to celebrate this month of love and perhaps we’ll let the month overlap into next month to keep it going.

Leave a comment

Filed under Life in Alaska, Life with Kids

February Tap Shoes

I took my tap shoes out of the bin of shoes we never wear. The tap shoes are sitting downstairs in the windowsill (a low windowsill so it’s not a totally goofy looking place). It’s a bit crazy that I even have tap shoes, but once when I was in Sweden at a dance camp, I took a tap class. It was a blast. Well, IT wasn’t a blast. I was horrible and didn’t have even the basic rudimentary skills, but being around people who could just make music with their feet and bodies and tap along with music – THAT was amazing. So I bought tap shoes for the class.

I took the tap shoes out because Victoria’s_View commented about it when I blogged about doing so. So I am following through. And I like the idea a lot. The problem is now WHERE to tap. Our floors are not very tap friendly. Perhaps, I’ll go to the hardware store this weekend and see if I can find a square of something to tuck behind the hutch and bring out when it’s practice time.

I am also bound and determined to get out a puzzle once darling little boy finally falls asleep for his nap. Today was one of those days where I felt myself getting angry at his antics which seemed to go on forever. It’s only because I wanted him to fall asleep quickly, at the same time as sister, so I could go downstairs and get myself some lunch and get things done.

We’d had such a nice morning as well so I wasn’t quite prepared. Ah well. He’s quietly lying under the covers with his stuffed animals around his head. His eyes are still open, but he’s in the process of getting closer to where he drifts off. (Just as little girl will be ready to wake up!)

Back to the tap shoes. Yes. I’ve got them out.

I also downoladed all my photos for the month of January, fixed our kitchen sink (a couple nights ago – It took a few walks back and forth to the hardware store at minus thirty below holding various parts – I LOVE small hardware stores where people just make things work) and I got out my hard drive to back up my computer (but I didn’t back it up yet). I did not do Christmas cards, nor Thank You cards, nor the family blog/photo thing I do at the end of each month.

But I did get a lot done last month and I feel optimistic about this new month. And for that reason, I am not going to commit to blogging every day. I like that I’m feeling enthused about some of the projects and I’m noticing that it’s hard to fit everything in, so blogging is going to take a back seat – perhaps.

And perhaps puzzles and Eskimo dance and tap dance will take precedent. We shall see!

(But OH OH OH – there were just so many things I wanted to blog about! Did you know that a school back east banned the UGG boots because kids were slipping cell phones into them? It’s so dang silly. Even Super Nanny says, “Give the kids a time out, not the toys”. Banning particular shoes is missing the point and only a band-aid solution. And what else…oh so many things. Mindlessness and Being Mindful and what does one do to feel relaxed. I finish all the things on my to-do list. The problem is that my lists are always too long to finish. And….ahhhh….little boy has closed his eyes. His hand twitched. I’m off to gather a puzzle and go downstairs and make some lunch for me.)

Leave a comment

Filed under Life in Alaska, Life with Kids