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Archive for June, 2011

Quick and playful – what more could an impovisational parent want?

Give your little person yoga pose inspirations.  Yesterday, as we waited for our neighbors in their garden, LP was having a hard time waiting and not picking things.  So after explaining for the 50th time why she had to wait, I switched tactics.

“Show me lettuce pose.”

And she did! I wish I had my camera with me as she squatted down over a growing head of lettuce and put her head gently down to it.

It lasted for a few more vegetable poses and then she moved on to exploring their gardening tools.

When I stepped back in to our house for a minute to check on dinner, she had moved on to “bunny pose” which was similar to lettuce pose but involved munching on the lettuce. Sigh. Another moment with a four year old adhering to the exact rule — “no picking” — and not the spirit of it.

Making up new yoga poses is great for playfully passing the time when you are waiting.  LP, who adores her yoga class at preschool (and probably knows more real yoga poses than I do!), has initiated creating her own poses in the past.  When we had to get up at 4 am to go to the airport, she passed the time while ImprovDad and I loaded up the car by doing “heater pose.”  It works well to give her something to do with her energy when we’re in a situation that calls for patience and/or containment.

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“play·o·pe·di·a
1. A comprehensive reference network of unique play ideas categorised according to the type of play and hosted at childhood101.com.”

~ “Introducing Playopedia” by Christie Burnett at Childhood 101

 


“Sensory Play Inspiration to get You Going” by Amanda Morgan on Not Just Cute

“Play Broadens and Deepens the Mind” by Robert Hess on Playborhood

“Creation on Command: What We Know” by Jonah Lehrer on Daily Good

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LP is in love with never-ending stories.

These are made-up stories that are always “to be continued…”  At least five times a day, she says, “Tell me the rest of the story.” She has latched on to them as one of her top procrastination techniques at bedtime; as I reach to turn off the light, she pipes up “No, that’s not how it ends.” (Anything for a few more minutes before sleep). In general, I see her request for the “rest of the story” as a cue that she wants to connect (except for that obvious bedtime ploy).  I like that idea she has…there simply is always “a rest of the story” to be told.

The story she likes for me to tell revolves around her dog friends (including her in her dog persona of Honey Muffin).  ImprovDad’s story involves a bunny named Snuffles and a horse who lives underground named Flutter.

I have a little story envy because Snuffles and Flutter seem more interesting. The stories LP wants me to tell about the dogs are INCREDIBLY REPETATIVE!  The dogs get muddy, someone gives them a bath.  The dogs go for a walk in the woods and have a dog party with kibble cake. Then they get muddy and have to get a bath.  Sometimes when the dogs are muddy, the mud dries and they get stuck as mud statues until someone comes along and gives them a bath (sense a theme here?).

I’m curious about why I get so restless with the repetition in our made-up stories when I’m pretty willing to read the same book 4 or 5 times in a row.  Is it because of my own expectations of what a made-up story should be?

LP is incredibly joyful about these stories and I think focusing on that in my impatient moments will help. She loves incorporating any new dogs that we meet. All of the stories involve my brother’s family’s dogs, Kjarni & Lucy so it is sweet to get to include the family in the stories too.  Sometimes I ask her about what comes next, sometimes she offers up ideas spontaneously and sometimes we act out parts of the stories.

I’ve been trying to get LP to tell me the “rest of the story,” an idea that she has firmly resisted.  Until this morning when she actually told me (most of) a story to wake up to (a precious extra few minutes lying in bed – heaven!).  AND it had new elements in it!

In this morning’s story (a summary not verbatim), Lucy woke up early and went downstairs by herself. She went past the teepee and cousin A was in it making s’mores. Lucy went in and A made her a s’more with kibble instead of chocolate because dogs can’t have chocolate. Then Kjarni woke up and went and jumped on Honey Muffin’s bed to wake her up and all the dogs went downstairs together.

I’m sure later today we’ll be telling “the rest of the story…”

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We’re home. Home at last!

The Little Person and I spent much of the last bunch of weeks visiting family and friends.  I figured that we switched houses at least 8 times in the last two weeks and I was feeling so proud that I hadn’t left anything behind when I realized that LP’s beloved red towel (think Linus blanket) didn’t make it home. The little girl is quite sad about it but thanks to quick mailing action from my uncle, it may even arrive tomorrow.

In addition to all the wonderful and fun moments while we were away, there were some bouts of never-ending whining, a few spectacular meltdowns and plenty of parenting challenges (this child is the queen of the lollygag).  I was laughing with my friend today what the alternative photos of our vacation would look like. (It would need to have sound to capture that perfectly pitched whine.)

And now we’re home. We made it through all the ups and the downs, the travel by plane and car and ferry and train, the too late dinners and nights with too little sleep and the excitement of big, friendly dogs to play with and amazing horses to groom and ride. We played together as a family and in combinations of two; LP played with cousins and friends and Grandma and Auntie K and Aunt B.  She played with every nicknack she could get her hands on at Grandma’s house and fashioned clothes for model horses and forks and spoons out of ripped up napkins and paper.

Memories aplenty were made and I do wonder which ones might stick with LP as she grows.

So a record in pictures of some of the places she played (and animals she played with too):

There were large stumps in yards:

Deep, dark forests:

Rocky beaches on Orcas Island:

Wading in cold water:

Mud to explore:

Horse friends to groom (and ride):

Playing with a new dog friend who was willing to wear a wig:

Running after ducks in the yard:

Climbing a tree:

…and falling out of the tree and climbing it again.

On Friday morning, as I packed our things up to head for home, LP asked me “where are we going next?”  Our girl has the travel bug…although our next trips are going to in the realm of imagination!

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While I was packing for our last trip, LP would not leave me alone for a minute. Finally, she came up with one of those games that makes a parent groan.  She was tearingteeny strips of paper from her easel in the living room and running into the bedroom where I was packing to spread them out and then use the strips to create clothes for her small panda bear. On one hand, it was wonderful that she was (finally!) playing independently and I could focus on getting things together. On the other hand, it was making a mess and I was not in the mood to deal with clean up.

Fortunately, ImprovDad got home in the nick of time. So instead of Improvamama going all authoritarian and raising my voice to say “Clean that up NOW!”, she got non-stressed ImprovDad who suggested they “pack” the panda’s wardrobe up together.

That moment stuck with me as LP and I spent 10 days visiting family and friends on the East Coast.  We had a good time AND like all travel, we individually and collectively got tired, stressed, cranky or all of the above.  Those moments can be so hard for me to hang on to the parent that I want to be (playful, patient, empathetic, energetic,  good boundaries — those are some of my ideals).

I find that when I’m not able to muster those qualities from the inside, channeling someone else helps.  It becomes especially important when I’m traveling solo with LP and we’re are away from the support of daily routines.  I just have to remember I have a lovely stable of parents, teachers and friends in my head to choose from to emulate.

I’ve been calling on them a lot in our travels recently (especially as I’ve been having trouble sleeping which takes me to cranky level 100 very fast). If I catch myself berating myself, thinking, “Well T would know what to do.” I try to flip that around and pretend I’m her.  It usually gives me a little burst of energy that helps get through a difficult moment.

Who do you channel when the going gets tough for you as a parent?

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