Monday, October 6, 2014

a walk in the park

give kids some fresh air, swings and space to run free and you're guaranteed a good time. the simplest things make for the biggest smiles.
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Thursday, October 2, 2014

the post process

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we've been in the kindergarten swing-of-things for one full month. those first few days – and the few leading up to them – felt like such a radical shift. lots of unknown, lots of newness. i tried to prepare for it on the front end as best i could, to help ease the adjustment where possible – all in practical ways: the breakfast prep, setting clothes out the night before, that whole bit. and it's been a huge help. it's become my routine, cycling through my checklist in the evenings to set myself up for the day ahead. and our mornings are smoother for it – so, win.

but where the real work has been is the post-school portion of the day. the thing is, i'm realizing more and more, is that i'm processing so much – like i said, so much newness. new schedule, new kids, new parents, new day-to-day happenings, just new. it's been amazing and i could not be happier with his school but it's all been a big shift in my life.

and it gives me great perspective because bonz is processing just as much – and more. new schedule, new kids, new social interactions, new social dynamics. a huge shift in his life.

he's thriving and loving it – he looks forward to school everyday, has fun with the kids, adores his teachers and his confidence is soaring. i couldn't ask for more, really.

but with all that processing of all that newness comes some pretty massive feelings, not surprisingly. he takes in so much from 8:30 to 12:30 – he's absorbing new words, new actions, new ideas and trying on new words, actions and ideas for size everyday after school.

and i have to mentally prepare myself for it everyday. i want to pick him up from school and scoop him up, hear every last detail of his morning and squeeze him tight to make up for the few hours we missed being together. and he wants that, too but it comes out in a different way, on a different – if not slightly erratic – schedule.

on one hand he wants to jump into my arms and be smothered with kisses and love (bring it, bonz!) but on the other, he's needing to work through the stuff he's taking in. he's needing to try those different words, actions and ideas on for size and, while i'm sure he experiments with it all at school, he's saving most of it for me – where he's free and safe to have at it.

sometimes his process looks silly and goofy and we can joke and play and have fun with it. sometimes it's just a casual conversation about this-that-and-the-other from his day and then onto the next thing. but others? less pleasant. more discord.

and sometimes i'd just love a pleasant afternoon where we can just sail on by without issue. (and i get many of those so i'm in no place to complain. further, i know the discord is productive in its own right so i'm not complaining either way.) so that's what i mean by work. and mentally preparing for it. because dude. we're not always sailing.

and it's not about what he's saying or doing or what he's processing or regurgitating. that's the minutiae that's probably only interesting to us. it's about how i deal with what's coming at me. finding that balance between letting him process what he needs to process, in the security of home, and holding limits in place for him so he can still feel that security and rail against them as necessary. and sometimes it's necessary. and sometimes it's exhausting, i'll be honest. but it's been so constructive, giving him the freedom to work through his feelings but the boundaries he needs to be able to feel that freedom. such an interesting relationship between boundaries and freedom – they really do need each other. boundaries don't extinguish freedom, they actually let it flourish.

so not every afternoon is baking and cuddling – though there have been plenty of those. some afternoons feel like an endless stream of complaints, and less-than-fun behavior on repeat. but i'm trying (with a less than picture perfect track record, i might add) to recognize that it's his process and it's a productive one at that.

what's revealed after an afternoon of raggy, naggy bonz is a clear-headed, bright-eyed and full-hearted guy who's ready to pick up where we left off – because he's left all that heavy stuff behind him.

so yeah. this kindergarten stuff is a process. but i'm grateful for it. things feel so much less foreign and unfamiliar to me now than they did just a few weeks ago, and ditto for bonz. i love that quiet, slow progression where things go from new to routine without even noticing when or how it happened.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

then and now

since my vintage – scratch that: childhood – books have made it into our daily rotation, i've had a couple laughs about the differences between the 1978 printing of richard scarry's best word book ever and the 1991 printing that i bought for bonzo when he was wee.

as long as one of the copies is being devoured, i have happy kids. in fact, it's just gravy having an extra copy so there's always one on the shelf, ready for action, and one to tote about willy nilly.

no matter which way you slice it, richard scarry rules.
but i guess the powers that be must have just felt like they needed to dial up the gender equality and dial down the stereotypes to make it more... well... modern maybe?

my vote's totally for the old school version. obviously.
but life moves on. daddy bunnies help in the kitchen and girl bears pave roads. it's just how it goes.

old on the left, new on the right:



they nixed the notion of being a cowboy when one grows up. along with being a commuter or train conductor in favor of being a reporter or photographer:

a quick bow and we've got a she at the helm.

this spread – one of my childhood faves – doesn't even exist in the new school edition:


there's that bow again. sigh.

now we've got ma out there earning her keep:
this page fell by the wayside, too:
the last words of the day didn't make the cut? tough crowd.

happy reading!

Monday, September 29, 2014

findings and happenings

oh hi. it's been a little while, hasn't it? i feel like my feet are slowly getting back underneath me after a seriously busy few weeks. this kindergarten stuff has been an adjustment for all of us, clearly. the days just seem to go by a little faster (sigh) and the to-do list just seems to be at a perpetual stall.

a nice little round-up is always my favorite way to return to this space – so with that said, here are a few of the latest findings and happenings from around here:

it's getting darker earlier. i used to dread that change but it suits life with kids so well that now i welcome it with open arms. it ain't easy to sell a 7:30 bedtime when it's broad daylight in july – but when it's dark (or at least nearing dark) we've got buyers lined up around the block. glorious. mushy goes down closer to 7 o'clock so lately we've been playing a board game, just bonzo, chooch and me some evenings before bonzo turns in. i scored us a near-mint vintage chutes and ladders off ebay a christmas or two ago because the new-school rendition (or worse yet, the super hero edition) of that adorable classic is so ugly it hurts my eyes. some things were just better in the 80's. we've also been playing another game called sunny day pond which is cute and i like it because it's totally non-competitive (not that chutes and ladders is real cut-throat) and simple but sweet and fun.
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i get knitting – and crafting – fever like crazy as fall nears. every single year, without fail. i've pinned a few things that i want to get busy making. you know, in all my spare time. hedgehogs! penguins! leg warmers!

speaking of spare time, i don't watch much tv anymore – we cut our cable months ago and didn't even flinch. i thought i might miss it but i rarely even think about it. but fall means season premieres so thank goodness for technology so i can still watch a few favorites. parenthood (don't even talk to me about how it's the last season!) and nashville, i'm talking to you.

you know how you sometimes don't realize the silly little things you say until your kids say them too? well, when something's truly delicious, i've been known to exclaim that i want to bury my face in it because it's so good. i know for a fact i don't say it that often but i'm certain it comes up every now and again. case in point: the other night as bonz was falling asleep he sleepily said, "mommy i don't like it when you say you want to bury your face in your food because then i wouldn't get to see your beautiful angel face. so let's just say 'this is really good' from now on, okay?" then my heart exploded into five million pieces. man, i love that kid.
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there's much more to say, but this is available now and i couldn't recommend it more – plus: baby bonz!

i simmered a huge batch of one of our favorites on the stove-top all day yesterday and i'm already excited for leftovers at lunchtime this week.

so, it took me about five minutes to realize that twitter is not my jam. but i'm getting more in the swing of facebook – join me over there if you're so inclined.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

mornings around here (and a new favorite breakfast recipe)

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i feel like i live a new life these days. the adjustment from a two-mornings-a-week preschool schedule to a five-mornings-a-week kindergarten schedule is no joke. i'm a pretty organized girl – i'm almost embarrassingly punctual and rarely wait until the last minute to get my act together. having said that, though, we're not immune to the morning rush. it still happens despite my preparedness and will to avoid it. but let's just say it ain't my favorite way to start the day.

bonzo's new school is right down the street from his preschool – a stone's throw, really – so our commute really hasn't changed a bit. but having to get us up, fed, lunch packed, all of us dressed and out the door for an 8:30 arrival monday through friday has taken a serious effort on my part. prep work in the evening: clothes laid out, coffee pot ready to go, lunchbox awaiting its fill – the whole bit. it shaves off a few minutes and sets a more relaxed tone in the morning. it's just easier to flow when i've done the leg work the night before. and the more the morning flows the better in my book. 

last weekend i had the wise idea to batch-prepare breakfast for bonz. i liked the idea of streamlining one more element of the morning and i loved the idea of him having a rad, healthy start to his day.

so on sunday – in our annual late summer heat-wave i might add – i decided to make the week's breakfasts ahead of time: bacon, egg and spinach cups. it was so easy and to say that i have a satisfied customer is an understatement. 

all you need is eggs, bacon, spinach – but the better the quality, the better the result. so we use our usual pasture raised eggs along with the best quality bacon we can find and organic spinach. always best to pack the most nutritional punch, you know?

i pre-cooked the bacon on a wire cooling rack at 400º for like 10 minutes give or take. so it's on its way to being cooked but not all the way done. then i pulled it out and let it cool a bit and lowered the oven to 375º. in a bowl i whisked 8 eggs and added a very generous handful of washed and chopped baby spinach and mixed it all up. once the bacon was cool enough to handle, i took a piece and laid it in the cup of a muffin tin, outlining the opening of all twelve spots. then i filled them about 1/2 full with the egg and spinach mixture and put in the 375º oven for about 20 minutes.

the result: fluffy, spinachy eggs inside a piece of bacon. 

(side note: i was short a couple pieces of bacon so i filled a couple cups of the muffin tin with just the egg mixture and topped it with a tiny slice of bacon. they turned out just as great. in fact, i will probably make half the batch this way going forward just to mix things up a bit – so it's not a full-blown bacon parade every single day.)

i kept three days' worth in a storage container in the fridge. in the morning, i preheat the oven to 350º and put the cups in a lidded glass pyrex container to heat up – 10 minutes or so. i froze the rest and will just transfer to the fridge the night before then heat and serve as before. 

this certainly isn't a groundbreaking concept – the recipe itself or the idea of batch preparing food for a busy week – but it's ruling our mornings right now so consider me hooked.

it feels good to be finding our morning rhythm for our new schedule.