Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sunday afternoon

Before Addie's 4th birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese.... 

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Clay creations

Grace and Dawson started art classes today. Always looking for new opportunities to encourage and expose our girls to new things, Kellie and I made arrangements for semi-private lessons at a little studio in our area. The studio has an excellent reputation because they encourage young artists to create handmade artwork from their hearts alongside studio artists.

For today's class, the girls were introduced to clay - something I haven't done with Grace yet. We have molded and modeled with Play-doh, but real clay has a totally different feel. The teacher, Miss Nancy, first took Grace and Dawson into the kitchen where she showed them how to cut a block of clay using a wire. Then they helped her flatten it in a machine with big rollers. They worked together to turn a big wheel and watched as the clay came out flat.

At the art table, they experimented with stamps of different shapes and sizes to make impressions in their clay. Some were store-bought, some were handmade, and others were common objects like a walnut and a fork.

I loved how they were both great listeners and were creative in their own way - especially when it came time to paint! We are excited to see the finished products next week when go for our our second class. But, to give you an idea....this was the sample....

....and here is Grace's clay creation "in progress".

Thursday, February 24, 2011

When did our house become a nudist colony?

Don't ask me why, but Grace decided to take all her clothes off and just hang around the house naked.  I guess you cam do that when you are 3+.  I took a lot of funny pictures of Grace running, jumping, trying to do cartwheels, and playing the drums.  But this IS the internet, so the photos are heavily censored!
After about an hour of high-energy playing, she finally calmed down to watch Diego. Still no clothes, though. And, it is about 30 degrees outside. I guess this is why I am paying an arm and a leg for heat this winter!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Cutest kid in the class

Grace's preschool SPRING pictures arrived yesterday. Do you have a favorite?

I always love the class picture. They are ALL so little and cute!

  According to Grace, these are the people in this photo:
Back left to right: Anthony, Miss Linda, Trey, Miss Pamela, Nathan J.
Middle left to right: Elyse, Grace, Avalynn, Grace Z., Hannah, Ella
Front left to right: Nathan Z., Noah, Frederick, Nick, Josh, Daniel

Monday, February 21, 2011

What is a president?

Miss Linda: What is a president?
Grace: Something you get wrapped in a box for your birthday. You take off the paper and play with the toy inside.
I guess we'd better work on that! Grace's teacher wanted her to volunteer more often during circle time. She certainly did that today!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

A whole world on our window

It may not look like much more than scribbles, but Grace created her own world with roads, rivers, friends from school, Daisy, boats, a pool, and the Statue of Liberty when she drew all over our windows and sliding doors this evening.

Crayola makes these awesome window crayons (probably for store owners to advertise in their windows) which are perfect to get a little bit of writing and drawing practice. I think she was stunned that I actually allowed her to make a mess on the windows. Every time I asked her if she was done, she got re-energized and move to the next free space!

Friday, February 18, 2011

On "mommy guilt" and being selfish

A long time ago - way before Grace - someone told me I was too selfish to be a mom.


Okay. Not a nice thing to say, it was probably true at the time. I don't think I had any concept of what it truly takes to be a good parent. I never realized how much of who you are and what you need takes a backseat to providing for your child. I am sure not everyone is this way. I know first hand from the job I do that there are a lot of bad parents out there. But, never one to do something halfway, I have tried to be as good as possible with Grace. Along the way, that has meant putting myself last for the almost three years that she has been home. The "mommy guilt" sets in when I think about going shopping, working out, or doing anything that might not be focused on what Grace needs at the time. Usually it is because there just isn't time to get everything done. So, in trying to have the highest standards for myself as a parent, my standards for other things - work, keeping the house clean, running, pulling weeds in the yard, shoveling the driveway - have suffered. Most of the time it doesn't matter. Really, who cares if I let the laundry sit for a week if it means I am present to play hide and seek with Grace? But, lately I keep thinking "this isn't a sprint - it's a marathon" and I have to find a way to add back some of the things I enjoyed "BG" (Before Grace). Things just for me. Maybe it is okay to be a little selfish sometimes.

That is hard to do. Kyle and I try to have a date without Grace at least once a month. But, I am still thinking about her and feeling guilty that I am not home with her. Sometimes after work I consider going for a run but then feel sorry that Grace's day at preschool is longer than my day at work and I go pick her up instead. I have been wanting to take a photography class, but doing so would mean one night per week that I am not around and I value those few precious hours we have together each day too much to sacrifice them. And a massage and facial would feel so good, but I could also use that money for some type of enriching class for Grace.

I know I am supposed to have balance. I know that doing things for myself and separating from her sometimes will refresh me and make me a better mom. I know that she is fine at preschool and taking 30 minutes to run after work will not make a difference.

I know.

I know.

Last night, Kyle and I went to see Sting perform in concert at a small venue. It was a special promotion put on by a credit company and friends invited us to attend. We had short notice and all of the Mommy Guilt in me came rushing forward when I first considered it. But we went and it was the first time in almost three years that I truly relaxed and wasn't a mom for a few hours. It was certainly worth it as that performance and the amenities (open bar and appetizers) provided made for one of the best concert experiences ever!

I am not sure if I will go for any spa treatments, take a photography class, or shop anywhere that sells clothes for grown-ups in the near future. But I am really glad I allowed myself the time to have fun last night.

Today, I am back to being "mommy" - a tired, happy one who is surviving on only 4 hours of sleep!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A book before bed

Grace loves to "read" her stories to me at night before she goes to sleep. I am happy she is developing this pre-reading skill, but I miss being allowed to read to her at night.

Monday, February 14, 2011

It's an explosion of color!

Tonight after dinner, we re-created an experiment Grace did with her preschool class. You use whole milk and food coloring and then add a drop of dish detergent on the end of a cotton swab. I wasn't prepared for what was a pretty cool swirling explosion of color on the plate!

Grace's dirty after-dinner face!

The simple explanation is that the dish detergent breaks up the fat and protein molecules in the milk causing them to roll, twist, and contort in all directions. The food coloring allows us to see this happen. And it certainly makes an interesting show!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

At the high school

After the Peter Pan play, Grace wanted to walk around "Mommy's work". Here she is telling me to "Come on!"

She let me take this photo of her sitting at my desk.

She was fascinated with all the murals around the building. There are a lot of really amazing ones - all done by students during their senior year. This one is of someone "falling" through a hole in the wall!

I believe in fairies

Grace spent the morning sitting in the sunshine watching "The Great Fairy Rescue", her Valentine's Day present. What a cute movie and a great introduction to Tinkerbell.
This afternoon we are headed to a school play about Peter Pan and Wendy. The drama teacher told me that Tinkerbell is just a light in the play, but I think Grace is going to enjoy it anyway. We are getting ready for our spring trip to Disney World where we have plans to go on a pirate voyage with Captain Hook. So my hope is that by May she knows the characters and the story so it all makes sense to her. I think today is a good start!
Oh, and check out this family picture she drew last night. So funny!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Be my valentine

There is no better way to spend a cold afternoon than doing valentine crafts with your good friend!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

A pig, a goat, and a rat live in our house

Today we celebrated Chinese New Year with Kellie, Dawson, and their family by going out to eat at a Chinese restaurant where they had a traditional dragon dance performance. (I actually think it is a Lion Dance, but it looked more like a dragon!) What fun!

Dawson and Grace amused themselves while we waited by smelling the rose on our table and sharing a Shirley Temple.

Before long we could hear drums beating in the distance. The dragon started his dance outside the restaurant and we could hear the music long before we saw him.

Grace and Dawson kept looking over the wall, watching the dragon as he made his way back to our table.

When the dragon came in, he danced for a long time, visiting every table, stopping for photos, and even going into the kitchen to bless the food and the workers there.

We fed the dragon money in red envelopes - a tradition to ward off evil spirits (and to give the dancers some tips!)

The cash in the envelopes is supposed to be in even numbers, as odd numbers are associated with money given at funerals. Our waiter told us to stay away from the number 4 since in Asain cultures that number means death. (I remembered that from living in Japan.) Most commonly, new year's red envelopes in the US contain $8 because the number 8 is related to wealth. Just for the record, though, our envelopes didn't contain $8! Grace was really funny when she "fed" the dragon. She was a little afraid so instead of putting her hand in his mouth to give him the envelope, she tossed hers from a safe distance away!

In return, the dragon threw candy, fortunes, and some fruit back to the crowd. With Kellie's help Grace caught an orange! Now, that is lucky!

According to the Chinese calendar, 2011 is the Year of the Rabbit. But, each person is supposed to demonstrate certain character traits based on their birthday. I thought it would be interesting to find out what the Chinese say about Grace, Kyle, and me. I'll let you guess who is the goat and who is the rat, but I will tell you that Grace's birthday falls under the sign of the pig. The Pig symbolizes such character traits as diligence, compassion, and generosity. Pigs enjoy life and because they are entertaining, others enjoy their company. Pigs are giving souls and reap much enjoyment when they’re helping others, but sometimes they give too much. Honesty is what Pigs give and it’s what they expect to receive in return.

Not only that, but people born under the sign of the Pig in 2007 are "Fire Pigs". They say the fire in Fire Pigs comes through in everything they do. They’re gutsy risk-takers and once they put their minds to something, it’s all or nothing. That applies to work, romance and goals. Fire Pigs make excellent leaders and bosses. That certainly sounds like my Grace!