Recycled Halloween Decorations

I will be the first to admit that not only am I absolutely awful at doing arts and crafts with my kids (I have a rare inability to draw a recognizable stick figure), but I hate it too (the mess!  the drama! the stickiness!).

However, I am a big sucker for the fall holidays.  I love Halloween.  I love Thanksgiving.  I love that you (not me, but you) can draw a turkey with nothing more clever than two hands.  I’m also a big fan of reusing stuff that we buy, because it teaches my kids values and responsibility and junk like that.  (Also, it’s cheaper.)

So I have taken it upon myself to have my kids help me make decorations.

For our spiders below (which are soon to decorate our doorway), we took an egg carton, cut it up and painted the body and faces, added some pipe cleaner for antenna–which I kept calling antlers, much to Oliver’s dismay–and legs.  I used a meat thermometer to punch the holes into the cardboard to put the pipe cleaners through, as well as to make holes to tie some twine to.

Oliver was able to do most of the work himself–he put the pipe cleaner in and drew the face on his (the green one).  Hazel didn’t particularly want to try, so she just chose the colors for the things that she wanted, and I helped her put it together.

It’s A Miracle!

When we left Trader Joe’s today, Oliver saw an American flag flying over a nearby building.

I heard him say, “It’s a miracle!”

I asked what he meant, thinking he would answer with something about seeing the American flag meant to him, maybe mentioning Kullervo’s military service, or something heartwarming. Or I thought he would be amazed at the flag flying in the wind or something along those lines.

His response?

“Not a miracle, Mommy. It’s America!”

Well, at least he knows our flag.

Let Condemnation (and Literalness) Reign

Oliver told me today that he wanted to put on a show in the living room. He elaborately set up chairs for Hazel and me to sit in and turned off all the lights. I was excited to watch, and wondered if he would be dancing or singing or performing a skit of some kind.

So Hazel and I sat down, and then Oliver came and sat down with us. He said, “Don’t worry, I have, like, five thousand remotes.”

He then pointed an imaginary remote control at the cleared space in the living room, and said we were watching a show about kitties.

No skit. No dancing. No singing. No poetry recitals. Nope. My kid wanted to put on a pretend show.

Hands

A lot of people that I know love baby feet.  And what’s not to love?  They’re small, squishy, and don’t have all the ugly callouses from, you know, walking that the rest of us do.  They make adorable footprints and have little chubby toes that might just make delicious snacks for the cannibal-minded.

Now, I have nothing against baby feet.  I think they’re cute.  But they are not my baby-nip of choice.  For me, there is something magical about hands.

A baby’s hands are so expressive.  When Oliver was a baby, I used to just watch him open and close his little fists.  They communicate needs–through gripping so tightly that they can actually carry their own body weight, they communicate feelings–when Hazel gets mad she balls up her hands as a way of expressing her rage.

These days, though, I still fall in love with my kids by watching and experiencing what they do with their hands.  Watching Oliver’s little boy fingers, with nails too long because he won’t let me cut them, and chipped green nail polish from the last time we all had to paint our nails our favorite colors, watching him grip a pencil as he furrows his brow and concentrates on putting pencil to paper and practices writing–I fall in love.  I love that this is my little kid, and he’s getting old enough to be able to write and to be able to do, and to be excited to learn. And I love that he thinks that writing is fun, because it’s something that is inherent to who I am.

Today, we were walking home from somewhere or other, and Oliver was riding in the stroller and Hazel was walking.  I have a hard and fast rule that across the major streets, Hazel has to hold my hand (not just the stroller), because she’s a fickle pickle and will just run off if something strikes her fancy.  And obviously that’s not okay in the middle of the road.

As we got closer to the main intersection we had to cross, Hazel reached her hand out to me and wrapped her fingers up in mine.  Her soft skin was warm, and I could feel each of her little fingers inside of mine.  She gave me her hand to hold willingly, because she trusts me.  She has faith that I will keep her safe.  And it made me so glad to be her mommy, and want to remember that moment forever.

To add to that, tonight when I tucked Hazel in, she reached her arms up and encircled my neck and pulled my face close to hers.  She tangled her fingers up in my hair and said, “I love you forever.”

I love those kids so much that it makes me cry when I think about it too hard.  I have to break it down into more manageable bits–like individual body parts–to even think about communicating those feelings into anything other than a blubbery mess on paper-mache.  And so I can’t wait to see where life takes these two little humans I get to have in my life, and to watch their hands grow and develop and help form them into whatever they become.

Punching Pillow

I posted before about anger. This is what I am trying with Oliver and Hazel, to help them manage their emotions in a healthy way. Anger is normal for everyone, but it is my job to teach my kids how to appropriately deal with intense emotions.

It isn’t okay to hurt other people, or themselves when they are angry. They also shouldn’t destroy their stuff, because later they would regret it.

So, the punching pillow. A natural inclination for my kids (and for me too) is to want to physically vent anger. I realize this probably isn’t the best, but it is what it is. Some people get a punching bag, some people go work out. My kids now have a similar outlet-their punching pillow.

Oliver and I talke about the things he wants to do when he is angry, and we wrote them all on the pillowcase. Now, if he gets mad, I can direct him to the pillow until he has spent the physical, overwhelming portion of his anger, before he is capable of talking calmly about it.

We will see how it works out. In the meantime, we have an angry pillow.

Oliver’s Story

Earlier today, Oliver and I were chatting about babies.  I think we’d seen one on TV and Oliver thought it was cute.  Anyway, he then proceeded to tell me the following story:

“So, one time I [Note that this is Oliver talking, not me] had a baby in my tummy.  And it was born, and it was a girl, and she was so cute.   Like, so, so cute.  She was cuter than you were when you were a baby.  I named her Katy.  And I loved her so much.  And then she disappeared.

“But it was okay, because then I had another baby in my tummy.  And I loved her so so much, and she was born.  And I named her after you, Mommy.  She was so cute.  I just loved her.

“She had to go out to discover the world.  So I had to go with her, of course, because she was just a baby.  So I packed my backpack with all of the stuff we’d need.  Like, I packed a lot of corn, so we’d have food.  And other stuff too.  I loved my baby.”