Archive for April, 2010

Yesterday was a rainy day and LP & I were feeling it here at the Improv-a-Mama house.

She was up early and had started bouncing from thing to thing.  Even before 9am I was feeling a little overwhelmed thinking of how to keep this little person engaged (and therefore not driving me up a wall) for more than 5 minutes.

She was into painting and what a great activity it turned out to be – 45 minutes!

I started her off (by request) with red & pink paint with paper and a sponge heart cutout to make valentines.  When she was losing interest, I brought out other colors of paint to add to the mix. Then pinto beans.  Then cornstarch. And finally, scraps of felt.

Clean up could rightly be called part of the activity. LP was pretty covered with paint (truly her own self remains her favorite canvas) and enjoyed watching the water in the basin turn colors as she swished her hands around in it.

Having her settle into something gave me the headspace (and time) I needed and I enjoyed watching her play with the materials expand and change. I offered the materials (or responded to her requests for more paint or cornstarch) and let her play with them.

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Saying “yes” can be glorious, freeing and full of enjoyment.

At best, “yes, but” is an attempt to woo the other person with the promise of the joy of “yes.” At worst, it is a bait and switch. Yet even if you get what you want and the little people get what they want, the end result can be unsatisfying to both sides. Certainly as a parent, I find that I miss the joyful moment of “yes” because I am still in negotiation mode. I imagine on the little person end of thing it is frustrating to hear “yes” and then have it not really be the case.

So I am working to keep my “yes” a true “YES!” and any but-ing to be worked out before there’s a “yes.”

A small example:
At dinner, LP shouts out, “I want dessert!”

Now there are 2 things I want to have happen. One is I want her to eat more of her dinner. Two is that I want her to ask politely. To avoid the “yes, but” of “Yes you can have dessert after you eat your last two broccoli trees,” I skip the “yes” until I’m ready to actually say it.

So I say, “LP, I’d like you to finish your broccoli first.”

Which she does. And then shouts out, “I want dessert!”

And I say, “Please ask politely.”

Which she does, “May I have dessert please?”

And then I can say “yes!” with no strings attached.

To which she responds with a big smile and whispers to herself “Dessert! Desssertttt!”

More important than the words is a little bit of inner attitude shift on my part. In life in general, I want to say “yes” ~ to my family and friends, to work opportunities and so on. Yet I often probably say “yes, but…” because I’m not fully ready or able to say that “yes.” I’m curious to see if trying to shift my inner process to one of getting clear on what I need/want to make the “yes” happen will prevent that auto-“but” from showing up.

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

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New Blog Home

Improv-a-mama has made the move to wordpress.  Welcome to my new home on the web.  Excuse the mess while we’re getting organized around here.

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The Magic Number 30

LP works on collecting 30 branches.

LP loves the number 30. I think it is the biggest number she can imagine.

So when she enjoys a game she wants to play it 30 times. Or read a book 30 times. Or eat 30 cookies. Or pick 30 flowers…and so on and so on.

My observations is that although she can count to 30, the upper numbers don’t really have meaning yet, so 30! Wow! That’s just the biggest, the most, the best amount!

It makes us smile every time. She’s so delighted by asking for 30. And although we cheat and do something a bunch of times (like 5 or 6 or 9) and call it a day. It seems to satisfy her.

Oh kiddo, just wait until you discover the world beyond 30. Yes, Little Person, you could ask for 100 cookies or put 300 shakes of cinnamon in the muffins or pick 2000 flowers.

And it does give me a reflective pause….wondering what is my 30? What are the things that I’m accepting as the end, that I don’t have the vision to see beyond? What boundaries have I created in my world that I accept as the way things are and will be for always? There is a whole other realm of possibilities beyond that…I’m talking about the 40s and 50s and 100s and 1000s and 10000000000s.

As I’m reflecting on it, I see how I accept many 30s in my life now. In my writing. In my getting involved in new things. In taking risks in relationships.

So for now, we delight in 30…and look forward to the world getting bigger and filled with even more possibility. LP will discover those at her pace and I’ll keep trying to be open to ones for me too.

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

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Making memories…

Today on the bus with LP on my lap, an elderly woman said to me, “A woman can live to be about 80 years old or so and we only have our children for such a short time.”

We just had 2 more stops to go when she said this but in those few blocks she also shared that when “they go away from you, they do come back again”…and that “the best is being a grandparent.” (when she said “grandparent” her whole face lit up…I look forward to the grandparent experience someday!)

I find that thing everyone says about “it goes so fast” is completely true (in the big picture, I still find individual moments or minutes can take forever). LP is three and bounding forward in her knowledge and abilities every day. Whoosh!

It often crosses my mind the memories I am creating for LP; what I don’t often think about is the memories I am creating for me. Memories to stand out from the moments of tedium and times of tantrums.

So from our recent days, I hope that we will both remember:
• porcupine stew (crackers with butter and dried lentils)
• gardening in the rain
• walking with shaving cream “penguin feet”
• creating a costume out of pipe cleaners complete with tiara, earrings, glasses, necklace, dressing gown, belt with a ponytail and anklets
• sharing flower “ice cream cones”

And the one that’s just for my mind’s eye…the sweet sight of LP sleeping.

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

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Traveling is a time when I am often reaching into my improv bag of tricks ~ especially in just reminding myself to keep an improv mindset (meaning among other things to find things to say “yes” to, be flexible and be open to opportunities).

Our visit with family was so exciting for LP (she was on overdrive trying to keep up with her older cousins) so I used familiar storytelling structures as part of calming down and grounding and reflecting on things that were happening. When she was homesick, we told stories about home and what ImprovDad and all her beloved stuffed friends were doing.

One series of stories emerged about LP as the “Panda Queen” and her group of pandas. LP has 3 pandas at home (1 made the trip with us) and quickly gathered up a few pandas from a willing older cousin (thanks H!) while we were away. We told stories about the Panda Queen and both groups of pandas and LP has embraced her new royal title.

On a cold, drizzly day, my sister, brother-in-law and I ventured to the zoo with the 4 youngest kids. I think we had the place to ourselves except for one other family. The rest of our group roamed the zoo while LP and I went at her pace and she enjoyed lots of puddle splashing. I was feeling tired and down from having a cold and was counting the minutes until we could get back in the car out of the rain.

Then we discovered the river otter.

LP has been into otters since we read “Sea Elf” for the first time a few months ago. She loves to wear a green & blue blanket as her kelp and often has us tie it on her first thing in the morning. (It is a beautiful book about a girl imagining herself as an otter for a day.) And here, unexpectedly was an otter…and a very playful otter who seemed as excited to see LP as she was to see it. The otter would jump into the water and come right up to the glass where LP was, then dart away and return…again, again and again.

It was a beautiful thing to witness. Her enjoyment was so pure and full body. She laughed at times and was just entranced at other times. It lifted my spirits to be there with her.

To top it off…there was a carousel and the Panda Queen got to ride a panda…twice!

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

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LP & I just returned from a wonderful trip hanging out with family on the East Coast.

And in addition to all the good visiting and food and experiences, my love of blue painter’s tape was rekindled.

It is probably my favorite parenting item…good for everything from emergency diaper repair and babyproofing to crafting to creating a much needed spoon for applesauce on the plane. I use it to help keep paper still for art projects and hang things on the wall and as bandaids for all LP’s lovies.

Despite having the world’s most densely packed backpack of books and toys and snacks for our journey home, what was the biggest hit with LP? The painter’s tape. Good old, familiar, multipurpose painter’s tape.

She played with the tape people (pictured above) for longer than any other toy and used strips of tape to create a Wild Thing costume for her small doll (wish I had a picture of it because it looked more like a shaggy ball of tape than a doll). As a bonus, she could stick in all over herself and the seat and the window and it peels off quickly and easily. We also made a few bracelets and a necklace.

Painter’s tape…truly, I don’t leave home without it!

I linked this post to se7en’s Fabulous Friday Fun…go on over and check it out!

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