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Archive for the ‘misc.’ Category

When I was a girl, maybe 7 or 8 years old, I wanted a dog.

I wanted a dog more than anything. I desperately wanted a dog.  And there was no way we were getting a dog.  My mom was afraid of dogs.  More accurately, my mom was AFRAID of dogs.  Sometimes she would cross the street if a dog was barking in a house we were walking past. (Do you remember that, siblings?  Or did I make that up?)

So I imagined some dogs.  Actually, I imagined 100 dogs.  I chose breeds and names and spent hours taking care of them, playing with them and would go to sleep at night saying goodnight to them one at a time. I’m sure that back then I could have told you about each dog in great detail.

I also remember that when we moved the summer I was 9, I decided I was too old to still have those imaginary dogs. So I left them behind.  I felt sad and grown up at the same time.

Fortunately for me these many years later,  I made a list of the dogs!  Recently I was going through a box of photo albums, journals and other flotsam and jetsam from my life and found the first page:

(It is quite a mystery to me why it says “Toothpick” in pen near the top.)

What a find!  I shared it with LP and she has been wildly interested in it.  She loves to have me read the list and through the power of her imagination, has brought the imaginary dogs into our home.  (She too is a girl who loves dogs and we are certainly not getting a dog anytime soon.)  It is sweet to get reacquainted with Chinkie, Splotch, Dandy, Butterscotch and the rest and experience imaginary dogs through her eyes. Even better, in addition to playing with the imaginary dogs from the list, she is adding her own.

Over the weekend, as she sat swinging away in the park, LP asked me “When you were a little girl, did you have six imaginary comets?” When I said no and asked her if she had six imaginary comets, she smiled a huge smile and started to tell me all about them (they live in the large cracked pot in the backyard for starters).

The things we can do with our imaginations…just beautiful!  I hope she doesn’t feel the need to grow up and leave imaginary dogs and comets behind too soon.

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I have a confession.

I love blue painters tape.

This feeling started slowly…a roll of painter’s tape for an emergency diaper fix, to cover a few electrical outlets and quick hang up some family photos for baby LP to see.  It quickly grew… blue tape, LP and I, we can do anything together. Need a spoon? I can make you one.  Need in indoor swing for a stuffed animal? We can do that. Puppets to entertain on the plane? Check. Tape pictures on the floor or wall? No problem.

When LP and I went visiting family for 3 weeks in the fall, we went through a full roll of tape before the final weekend. It was the major source of entertainment on planes and trains and also got a major workout creating circle paddocks for her horses. ImprovDad was meeting up with us for a family celebration a few days before we returned home and my SOS to him when he asked if he could bring anything was “blue tape!”

The blue tape creations are getting more wild and wonderful as LP takes more and more control of them.  She’s just starting to get the hang of ripping off pieces on her own.

Recent blue tape creations at our home:

Bandages for Raz:

A costume for Violin Case:

 

Labels for the herb pots in the garden:

LP has been on a labeling kick with blue tape.  Below is the photo of Feather’s House (Feather being the space heater who lives in our old computer desk when she’s not in use), complete with its own name and a blue tape mailbox.

Got your roll of blue tape ready? Need some ideas to get you started? Check out:

“Spider Web” on Tuesdays with Daddie — this post also has the best description of painters tape ~ “Its like a roll of duct tape married a stack of post-its and they had a blue baby.” So true!

“Masking Tape Portraits” on Art Projects for Kids

“The magical, multifunctional properties of painter’s tape” on Parent Hacks

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Tinkering

Our DVD player gave up the ghost a few weeks ago…so this week, LP & I were able to start exploring its insides.

I was not a tinkering kind of kid so I’ve actually never taken anything like a DVD player apart before. I figured that there were couple of different joys to be found in the experience from seeing the mysterious insides to finding new uses for the pieces and parts.

So I spread out a sheet to protect the floor, grabbed a few screwdrivers and we went to work.

Most of the screws were quite small and hard for LP to even attempt on her own.  I did about half of them on my own and loosened the other half to where she could work them out with her fingers.

I think much of the deconstruction process was a bit more fun for me than for her.  She left me to finish up finding and taking out the 100 million screws while she bopped between playing with various things in the same room and coming back to explore the pieces and parts. It was interesting to watch how certain pieces certainly triggered her imagination.

And when a girl has found pieces like this, what else can she do but cook up some ukulele candy?

I think the insides have a lot of life in them as playthings and I’m very curious to see what LP transforms them into next time.  While I have ideas for art projects, I’m waiting to follow her lead and discover what ideas she cooks up next. (And hoping, of course, that she doesn’t put the ukulele candy in my ukulele!)

This post is part of “We Play” over at Childhood 101…always lots of fun and interesting ideas to explore there!

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ImprovDad and I were talking last week about how we want to help LP expand and challenge her physical self.  She is often reluctant to use (or experiment using and therefore build) her strength. ImprovDad expressed a longing to be able to toss a ball back and forth with her and we smiled at each other, knowing our girl is much more interested in setting up a ball family than tossing them around.

We started brainstorming how to invite LP to use her body more fully.  The idea that caught our imaginations was for ImprovDad to create and play Horse Ball with her.  We had fun with the different ways that could look and also acknowledged engaging LP in creating it would make something different and fun for her too.  We’re pretty sure the idea of Horse Ball  will engage LP’s vivid imagination and love of horses AND give ImprovDad the enjoyment of something he wants to share with her.

After our brainstorm, I remembered one of my favorite child development books Building Healthy Minds by Stanley Greenspan (also love First Feelings which focuses on babies).  He focuses on social and emotional milestones for babies and young children and provides a framework to think about them.  One thing he advocates is identifying and actively building on your child’s strengths in order to help them take on challenges.  The idea of “woo-ing” LP to try something new or attempt something she felt scared of has been influential in my parenting and I found his insight into possible strengths/comforts useful.  It had been quite awhile since I had thought about this and here it was in action in our parent brainstorm.

I also think this a good practice for us as parents.  If we develop this way of approaching small challenges, we can be more open to each other’s ideas and imagination when we hit larger parenting bumps in the road.

Horse Ball hasn’t been put into action yet…I have hopes that ImprovDad will have a chance tomake LP the offer to play it this weekend.

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One of my biggest joys is being an aunt.

It has been  one of my favorite roles in life. From the first time I held my oldest niece, H, I was hooked.  When H and her brother L were small, I was lucky enough to be in a time of life when I could see them often even though I lived on the opposite coast.  I said “YES!” to every opportunity to see them.  I had such fun in those years and even though I sometimes thought I should be using my vacation time to see the world, the payoff of delight of being in their worlds brought me there time and again.

(An added bonus was some great on-the-job training for parenthood. Thanks to my brother and sister-in-law for that good deal!)

One of the things I miss now that I’m a mom is the freedom of being an aunt who has just come to play and have adventures. I miss my time with the older two and have been sad about not knowing the younger three kids in the family as well as I would like.

It is becoming easier as LP gets a bit older;  she is more ready to go off with other family members and as I continue to heal from PPD,  I am able to let her go. Even as it gets a little easier, I miss those days of having open time to just focus on one kid whether it was to take an adventure of imagination or ride the train into Boston for a museum or aquarium exploration.

So a hope of mine for the recent East-Coast-family-visit-extravaganza trip was to have time to enjoy my five nieces and nephews who now range in age from 15 to 6. While there were many adjustments and moments of figuring out how to relate and getting an open mind to see each child as their individual, creative self, it wasn’t hard and it delighted my soul to have time to be niece & nephew focused for awhile.

So to my nieces and nephews…I loved sharing the time with you and enjoying all the ways you are creative and spontaneous. From sharing poetry, writing and playing music, enjoying the “band” of cousins performance, dancing, doing handstands, listening to drumming and piano and guitar, tree climbing, art making, peeling bark off logs, making forts and panda caves, playing with pirate ships and kitchens and trucks and so much more —  it was such a great reminder of all the different way kids can be creative and spontaneous and then add intention and craft to the things that capture their imaginations.

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The Chanukah Cow

LP and I are on the road visiting family on the East Coast.  We’re about halfway through a 3 week trip and if the quiet moment I long for ever arises, I might be able to write a reflective post about traveling solo with my girl.

Until then…just a cute kid post.

LP has invented the Chanukah cow.  She opens up one of her cousins’ plastic dreidels and takes it over to her imaginary cow and milks the cow’s “dreidel juice” then drinks it.  Her making the milking noises is delightful. I’d love to get it on video but I’m afraid filming might ruin the pure delight and engagement of the moment.

My contribution?  A bad pun:

What does the Chanukah cow say?

Cha-mooo-kah!

(LP is not so into this joke but one of her 6 year old cousins thinks it is hysterical.)

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November Challenges

1) National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)

Last year I thought there was no way I could possibly write 50,000 words in a month.  Signing up (and being public about it) was the best and loudest YES to doing the impossible I could think of.  It was a great and crazy ride and I made it…finished the month with 50,050 and have slowly been working on editing and revising over the year.

It was truly amazing. On November 1st last year, I had no idea I had a novel in me and now it is what I’m doing…writing novels!  Of course I have dreams of being published but in the short term the project of writing a big story feels hugely ambitious, hard and wonderful.

Since I’m not done with that process on my first novel, it seems a bit much to start in on writing the second one (which is a sequel). AND the energy and fun of the process has got me hooked…so I’m in. I’m doing it. Actually I’m 1/10th of the way there as I type this entry with 5, 522 words written.  I’m finding it much easier this year, at least the first few days because I feel much less serious about trying to get it the writing right the first time…a little more able to leap around in the story in my head and just write.

2) Can I be patient enough to allow our jack-o-lanterns to fully decompose in our little yard? I’m really not sure. We have so little space and giving even a square foot over to these three is not an easy choice (nor am I sure I’m willing to put up with all the flies, etc)…AND I think there will be some interesting learning for LP and truth is, I’ve never watched one decompose beyond the early stages. We’ll see…

Here are our jack-o-lanterns on Halloween:

And here they are today in their new location:

What will happen first? 50,000 new words or decomposed pumpkins?

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