Taking a Step Back

The unusually mild winter in our area has made the past four months of nearly constant morning sickness a little more bearable because the kids have been able to get out and burn off some energy, while I relax, enjoy the sunshine, and allow myself to be present for my sweet cubs. As lovely as it would be to say that every day was spent in that sort of appreciative bliss, it wouldn’t be the truth. Certainly more days in recent months have been spent inside instead of outside, with me on the couch playing patient to two doctors, conducting story time from my horizontal perch, or eating plastic meals and desserts prepared by my two enthusiastic chefs. We have watched The Lorax and Tinkerbell movies far too many times and usually opted for picnics on the floor of the living room instead of at the table so I didn’t have to leave the couch.

Despite being in this haze of nausea and having life thrown a little off kilter for awhile, I have been in pretty good spirits. I am focusing more on leaning into the natural ebb and flow of our day to day lives, relying on the kids built in curiosities to drive the direction of our focus, doing more spontaneous projects and experiments, and less scheduling and planning of activities. This has afforded us all a certain sense of freedom with our time and energy and although there are things that tend to be sacrificed (like keeping ahead of the laundry and cleaning), the reward of having less stress each day is totally worth it, right now.

We have taken this week at a snails pace so far, allowing ample time for creativity and imagination to take the place of our once normal schedules. The shamrock activity we did on Monday went over really well, but we still haven’t gotten around to the decorating and displaying part of things. Mostly because the kids just want to use the shamrocks for hiding, hunting, sorting and counting on their own now. And that is fine by me. They both seem to have other drawing priorities when the markers come out anyway, and aren’t interested in instruction from me. So I have given them free reign to create as they please and the results have been absolute perfection.

Astoria likes to trace her hands, and color the palms of each hand with whatever color she is currently fixated on. Her paper is always covered in big loopy fingers and swollen thumbs, “ghost hands” as she calls them. Her coloring time is generally short-lived as she is far more interested in playing dress up, practicing her unicorn riding skills while mastering her high heeled princess walk. She goes from room to room on her stick unicorn, acknowledging all of her subjects, which she usually lines up along her parade route, waving and throwing silk flower petals in their direction, occasionally stoping by her favorite dolls and stuffed animals for a big hug. Then she brings out the stool from the bathroom sink and steps up onto her soap box for a long and very important royal speech which always begins with the same announcement “Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls, Here is your Princess Astoria Miss Stodola” (yes, that’s actually what she calls herself, silly girl)… And she follows that up with either a long commentary on her experiences of the day or a nice made up song and dance number. It is spectacular.image image image

Zoren is right in the middle of a creativity and engineering explosion. His drawings are complex, deliberate, and very important to him. He creates entire worlds on paper with detailed explanations as to what every line, color, and shape represents. He constantly designs levels to his favorite critical thinking games on the Xoom, World of Goo and Where’s my Water. He draws ladders, pipes, pumps, levers, gears, and pulleys all connecting to one another to form, what he sees, as the perfect new level to his game. He also loves to draw his own complex contraptions. Grandiose machines that will do things like take his laundry to the hamper so he doesn’t have to, or clean up the toys that he doesn’t want to deal with. Now, I have no idea if this is a “normal” type of thing for 4 year olds to do, but it absolutely amazes me. I am sure, at that age, I was probably barely able to draw some stick figures in a house, much less a theoretically fully functioning mechanism with direction and purpose.

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These expressions of creativity, imagination, and ingenuity are exactly what I want to foster in my little ones. I want them to see the world as an open platform with which they can expand upon freely, without limitations or instruction from others. I am thankful that this pregnancy has given me a reason to slow down and take a step back from expectations I have for myself as a stay at home mom. It has made me see, that although planning learning activities and projects to do with them is integral in preparing them for school and something we will continue to do in the future, it is also important to take a step back and let them discover and create on their own.

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