Archive for January, 2010


And oh so many of them!

Sometimes I can go over the top in my planning of what “might” happen which can take away from what does happen. I’m so used to being comfortable improvising in the moment that when I have the opportunity to plan, it goes to my head and I can get bogged down in the details.

And when an opportunity to celebrate comes along, invite it in to play. Celebrations can be as simple as dressing up in scarves and dancing or blowing out imaginary candles when there are no real ones in the drawer.

Yesterday was Tu B’Shevat which is the Jewish Arbor Day or New Year for the Trees. I knew I wanted to do something with LP


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Birthday Thoughts

Growing up I thought my birthday was all about me. Of course it was.

Since LP’s birth, I see birthdays a bit differently. LP’s birthday is a celebration of her AND of us becoming a family of three. And as the one who gave birth….it is a bit about me.

So on my 39th birthday, I want to share some memories of my Mom and the gifts she gave me that help me be the mom I want to be…because my birthday is always about her too.

My Mom, who probably never thought about the word improv — was a master improv-a-mama. She encouraged (and enjoyed) imaginative play… our home and yard was a safe place to let my imagination roam and explore. She delighted in being tigers with her kids, having us stomp off barefoot in mud puddles and creating blanket forts galore.

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A Happy Day

There’s nothing quite like a break in the storm.

For the past few weeks LP has been wrestling with a developmental leap — it has been clear in her behavior that she was frustrated a lot more than usual. There’s been a lot more screaming and night-waking and whining.

And yesterday there was a breakthrough of joy and expression and she (and by extension we) had a much more fun day.

Overall her mood was upbeat and what really stood out to me was the new level of creative expression. She was a singing, storying, playing whirlwind. Goofy and delighted…and delightful too.

Most of it was in the moment so is just captured in my memory but here’s a few pics anyway (as a side note, much as I dream of being an all-natural material toys home, a girl loves what she loves and currently what she loves is a Simpsons chest set we recently uncovered in a closet…c’est la vie!)

Here are the Simpsons (from a chess set) on their lego trampoline-bed reading The Mouse & The Buddha:

After that, they needed a snack of kafarla and fatooda (spellings approximate since LP can’t spell yet):

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Looking over my blog, I realize how heavily I rely on improvised verbal storytelling and have neglected getting into action. The reason is because verbal stories have been what seem to delight and inspire LP’s imagination but as I’m working to challenge her to expand her play, it is good to challenge us both into more active storytelling.

Getting started can be easy…while sharing a story (either made up or already known like a fairy tale), find a place to do a little action together. You can flutter like butterflies or wiggle like worms. You can feed each other pretend spoonfuls of the Three Bears’ porridge or clip-clop clip-clop around like the Billy Goats Gruff.

You don’t have to commit to acting out the whole story to introduce action into storytelling… although acting out whole stories is something I look forward to with great anticipation!

This post is a part of the Moms’ 30 Minute Blog Challenge over at SteadyMom.

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My friend Jenny (improvisor and mom of 2) wrote about telling improv stories with kids over at Improv Notebook. Go check it out!

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One of the traps that I fall into in my storytelling is trying to make it all a neat package with a cohesive beginning, middle and end. Yet if I pay attention to LP during storytelling I find she is much more open-minded about where a story goes. It can be a reflection of (or my best guess) of some of her experience in the world. (Sometimes I think my storytelling job is to help build cohesiveness and other times I think it is simply to reflect.)

So today’s storytelling challenge is to let yourself meander like your kiddo.

See something shiny in your story…go over there and describe it, explore it, find out what it likes to eat for dinner and oh, wait…look over there! It’s a worm in a puddle swimming home. Follow the worm as she wiggle-swims along and then….Hey! Look over there! The worm found an apple to eat and there’s an apple tree with a bird’s nest in it and the nest has three eggs, one blue, one green and one red. The eggs are starting to hatch and out comes a dinosaur, a turtle and a bird. A little girl named LP climbs the tree and look sin the nest and then…..

well and then, see what happens next and next and next.

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Return to Play

Things haven’t been feeling so playful lately at casa de Improv-a-mama. LP’s sleep is a mess and therefore so am I. I know it is a phase (most likely brought on by the combination of being almost three + starting to use the potty + transitioning to a big girl bed) but still, I’ve been feeling off my game in all areas of my life.

So I’ve been trying to remind myself to find some improv structures to add play into our day when it isn’t coming from me in any kind of organic way and when I find myself saying a lot of “no” and wanting to sneak away to read or websurf the second LP’s attention is on anything else. I find the structure so helpful AND it takes a lot of pressure off needing to be creative. So the main structure is find something (anything) to say “yes” to and then play with it.

Today play also served some other aims as well.

On our rainy walk, a beanbag purple cow (named “July the Space Heater”…after the cat at preschool and her favorite object) became the vehicle for play. I would place July in a bush and then start looking around calling “July….LP, where’s July?” And LP would trot over and find her with joy. July got in trees and fences and behind trashcans and then got to try out a tire swing. And (here’s the bonus), LP walked so much more than usual. She’s been wanting to be carried everywhere and I so want her to walk more without me becoming a nag about it. Hurray for July the Space Heater and walking Hide and Seek! (And hopefully the extra exercise will help on the sleep front)

Then at lunch, LP was asking and asking and asking for “parfaits” (a la Fancy Nancy of the book of the same name). We save ice cream for a special dessert for Shabbat evenings so I said no but offered to make almonds into French “almondine” by slicing them. She was totally into them and enjoyed asking for another almondine (I sliced them one at a time at the table). Bonus was getting the extra healthy food in her.

Even finding these little bits of play in our daily routine lightens the mothering load that lack of sleep was making feel quite heavy. Remembering that simple “yes” and then just letting an activity grow from that almost always leads to new discoveries for us.

This post is part of the Moms’ 30 minute blog challenge over at SteadyMom…go on, check out what other moms are blogging about.

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