I keep stopping what I'm doing to just stare at Annalee. Sometimes it's like a drug, the way I love these children. It's worth noting that sometimes I also collapse on the kitchen floor and say "Why do you want to make mama so sad?!!!!!" but on a regular basis I also just sit and gawk at them.
Today I am gawking at Annalee (newly 18 months old). And since I have a few minutes I thought I'd share it with you. I promise to be brief. ;)
I love to look at her while she sleeps. I love her golden curls, especially coming from two long lines of straight haired people. I love the way that despite keeping her in sunscreen and shade, she gets a tan if you turn on a light. I love her 3 crooked bottom teeth and how slow all of her teeth have been to get here.
I love her rounded little tummy and the way it sticks out over her diaper. I love her thick little legs and watching her walk that darling toddler walk. I love her angel-high voice when she sings "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star." I love her grumpy voice when she tells Victoria "No no no!" when she's being picked on!
I love her stubbornness, that she'll sit down firmly on her butt and wail when life is terribly unfair, but I also love that she can turn happy again pretty quickly with a little effort and distraction on my part. I love her sense of humor-- the way she'll give you a sly grin and put a bowl on her head and say "hat!" to see what you'll do.
I love that she counts as well as her 3 year old sister, most of the way to 20, purely by paying attention when I played counting games with Victoria. I love that she's trying to potty train, climb swing sets, write letters, and draw people, whether she's old enough or not.
I love the feel of her in my arms, and the feel of her hand in mine. I love the way she thinks butts are marvelously funny and likes to talk about them and grin. I love her fascination with butterflies, spiders, fish and birds. I love her love of life.
Pretty soon she's going to wake up and I know she'll do at least a couple of things that are less than lovable in record time. One reason I focus so much on all of her beauty and personality is to give me perspective when she dumps water all over the floor AGAIN and then paints the cat. Messes clean up, even Anna sized ones (though believe me, hockey teams and goats could not compare to an Annalee mess!).
I've been giving her kisses on her cool little perfect forehead, and then we're off to get flower crafts ready for when the rest of the crew gets home. I'll finish this later......
On with the newsletter!
Want an art activity that will captivate a range of ages of kids, but be less messy for itty bitty ones? I love this painting idea, using waxed paper over blobs of paint and "painting" through it with popsicle sticks...... http://www.kinderart.com/painting/popsiclestick.htm
I got a lot of enthusiastic responses from the quilt ideas. A lot of you do quilting of your own and sent some neat ideas and memories. Thanks for sharing them with me. Look for a follow-up quilt issue later this week!
Help your kids play a fun joke on friends or family members. Gather up some greeting cards or stationery and write some pretend letters to people they know, signing made up names. If you can, get a friend to mail them from out of town. Only do this to people who enjoy a good joke! It can be pretty funny to watch Grandma try to figure out who on earth Mildred Adler is and why she's writing about her cat though. This can be especially fun on birthdays-- mail an extra, fictitious card with a made up name and watch the birthday boy or girl go crazy trying to figure it out! Don't forget to fess up. :)
A peek inside your toddler's brain:
Have you ever been frustrated because you told your little one "no" and within seconds she was doing the exact same thing again? Here's a few quick peeks into that little mind of hers....
A 9 month old has a bowl of oatmeal and is in his high chair. He dangles the spoon over the floor to see what will happen.
Mama smiles and says "noooooooo."
Baby smiles back, shakes the spoon.
Oatmeal lands on the floor. Mama rolls her eyes and says "Don't do that, honey."
Baby smiles, shakes the spoon.
Mama shouts "no!" and looks angry.
Baby wants her to smile again, holds the spoon over the floor and smiles.
Mom gets annoyed that this child just can't understand, and takes the oatmeal.
A two year-old is playing with toys on the floor. She picks up a drum stick and bangs a tune on a toy house.
Daddy smiles and says "good job!".
She bangs the stick on the TV.
Daddy frowns, says "No! Don't hit the TV!".
She bangs the cat. The cat runs away. Daddy says no, but he's smiling.
She bangs Daddy's leg. Daddy frowns and shouts "No hitting!" and takes the stick.
She is confused, since daddy sometimes says it's good to hit things with the stick, sometimes says no, sometimes smiles and sometimes shouts. She will need to get the stick back and hit things until she can figure it out!
Kids are scientists! That's how they learn about the world. They wouldn't survive if they were programmed to just accept a stern "no!" and never do whatever they've done again. Even when they seem to be defying us, they are usually simply trying to understand.
Let's say you tell your one year-old not to hit the cat, and she reaches out and hits the cat again. Think about the way she may be thinking-- maybe she hit the cat on the back the first time and now she's seeing if it's okay to hit on the head. Maybe she is trying to hit more softly to see if that's okay, or maybe she wants to see what "no" means in this instance. This sounds silly, but remember babies are born with no fundamental knowledge! Every bit of what we know, we know from learning it as we grew. And yes, for a toddler, even hitting the cat is a learning experience. :) Luckily for the cat, you can be there to show your little one how to pet the cat so that she's happy.
This is something we all know, but sometimes we forget. I know I do.
So next time that little one seems to be willingly defying you, just remember it's not personal! You're just part of a very big, very long, science experiment. Smile and help him learn. :)
A Literary gold mine
At this site you can find entire books, poems, essays and biographies from famous authors, philosphers and historians from Plato to Beatrix Potter, plus lesson plans. And that's just in the P section. ;)
Do you cook with your child? Whenever you use a recipe together, have him jot down the date, a rating and suggestions, plus any notes or memories he wants to. When he leaves home years from now, present him with the cookbook. :)
Kids and Depression.....
I'm on a gardening list online and earlier this month a woman wrote in asking for ideas for a memorial garden. Her son's best friend had just killed himself. She wrote that he was the most creative, intelligent kid she had ever known. He was eleven.
I've been struggling with this ever since I heard it. I can't get over the loss this must be leaving for the boy's family, his friend, and the world. It's so awful, and such a profound, tragic waste.
As parents, we easily forget some of the most painful parts of childhood. We forget how turbulent life can be and how different the world seems. Thirty is old age to a kid! Problems seem permanent and the reality of death can get lost in the very real pain that too many kids live through. Sometimes parents aren't even aware that their kids are being picked on in school, for instance, or the severity of cruelty that other kids can be capable of.
These sites offer some information about kids, depression and suicide:
Talk to your kids about these issues! Ask what they'd do if a friend told them he was planning on killing himself. Tell her about times you felt hopeless when you were a teenager.
If your child is depressed, contact your local social service organization to find out about counselors in your area. If she's being picked on in school, brainstorm on ways to help or get her in a better environment. Sometimes the most sensitive, creative, intelligent or unusual kids are the ones who are treated the most cruelly and feel things the most deeply. There are many options now for school choices, from magnate schools to distance learning to homeschooling. Keep the lines of communication open so that your child feels safe confiding in you if he is being abused or there is something else going on that she may feel ashamed about. Remember, too, that children can suffer from clinical depression.
The teenage and preteen years are hard. There's no escaping that. We can't insulate our children from a lot of the normal pain that accompanies this tumultuous time. But if you sense that a child you know is seriously depressed, find out how to help.
Twenty years ago, that suicidal kid was me. A few people took me seriously, and cared. Just think-- if they hadn't, who would there be to send you sappy newsletters at 2 a.m.? ;)
Talk to your kids! And now on to something cheerier...........
10 Ways to Make Today Magical~
1. Plant some seeds from dinner-- watermelon, squash, even lemons (in pots for inside if needed). Keep them warm and moist, and pamper the seedlings. Name them and make temporary house pets out of them. ;)
2. Plan a surprise party for your child. Invent a silly reason like "Happy 8th and one eighth birthday" and invite family and friends to bring a silly, handmade gift. Give a prize for the funniest gift, and ask people to dress according to the theme-- like wearing one and one eighth socks....
3. Pass on something valuable. Present your child with something meaningful or sentimental to you, and tell her the story behind it. For instance, tell her that you want her to have the watch you keep in your jewelry box from your childhood, and tell her why it's special.
4. Play truth or dare.
5. Buy or make several sets of wind chimes and put them up in the house and garden. Ask them to help you make up a meaning for what it means when they clink-- maybe the wind just blew them a kiss, a fairy entered the room, or someone's wish came true.
6. Find an old ugly piece of furniture and paint it together. Encourage the kids to be as creative as possible. Add symbols, poetry, anything you want! Have them date and sign it.
7. Have them write letters to their next year's selves. Ask them to write letters to themselves in a month or a year. Seal them and put them someplace safe to mail when the time comes.
8. Make a fake silly tape like the ones on "America's Funniest Home Videos." Come on, we know most of those were faked anyway! Let them brainstorm on what would be funniest (safely!). I'll bet your kids could come up with some pretty hilarious "goofs"!
9. Do an adult ritual together. Take your kid to coffee (get decaf if you want), get manicures together, or go to a poetry reading.
10. Introduce him something you loved as a child..... cross-stitch, "Black Beauty," Malomars, roller skating.... start a new tradition and enjoy it all over again!
Magical mama Jane in South Africa writes:
This isn't a poem as such, and I'm not sure if you have seen it before, but it's written by our country's greatest man...
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness, which most frightens us.
We ask ourselves:
“Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?”
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small doesn't serve the world.
There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that
other people won't feel insecure around you.
We were born to manifest the glory of God that is within us.
Its not just in some of us, it's in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously
Give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
What's the last nice thing you've done for yourself? If you can't remember, go do something now. Chocolate counts. ;)
Picked up somewhere online (but not tested):
If you mix powdered Tide with water and paint the ceiling (ours are textured), it glows in the dark, but you can't see it in the daylight.
If you try this, let me know if it works!
And now, I should wrap things up. Those elves still haven't showed up to clean my kitchen, the lazy things. I'm going to sneak down and move the dirt around. ;)
Don't forget to take care of you!
A Magical Childhood
Copyright 2001, Alicia Bayer
A Magical Childhood Newsletter is just something I throw together because I love children and love good grown ups. To subscribe, send a message to email@example.com. We do not use ads. It's not about money. :)
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