I like Facebook, but usually abhor all the little apps. Except for this fun, quirky one. A year in review of some of my favorite little moments across facebook. Kinda makes me want to type one up and hang it on my wall for real...
For 2 1/2 years now James and I have had several ongoing arguments. Among them: sack lunch. When we decided to get out of the Army we knew that changing careers would mean a slight decrease in finances at first. And one of the first things we agreed on was that James would make lunch to take to work, except for those occasions where a co-worker or manager wanted to eat out - networking is important, after all. But for 2 1/2 years we've been going through the same routine. At night I ask James if he's made his lunch yet, he says "No, I'll do it in the morning," I roll my eyes knowing that isn't going to happen, and sure enough - about 50 - 60% of the time it doesn't. There are a number of reasons this has annoyed me to no end - I won't get into them because, well, that's between us. BUT, the bottom line is - this particular argument has been a thorn in my side for two. and a half. years.
It has gone beyond frustrating. It's made me angry, resentful, and just more angry.
For the last 5 weeks or so I have had a huge amount of work on my hands from my fledgling photography business. I've been grateful to be so busy, but it hasn't been without growing pains. And a lot of compromise and sacrifice on both mine and James' part. We've discovered some areas that will need working on if I'm going to continue to run a successful business, but I have also discovered some gems. Among them - James has grace. He's always been more patient than I am, more tolerant of my whims and tantrums than I would ever be in return...but he's come home almost every night after a long day's work to discover me focused intently at my computer...and without any prompting has picked up wherever I've left off with the girls. Don't get me wrong, almost every surface in my house is currently totally, embarrassingly grody. But the kids have been fed, bathed, dressed - and on most occasions the dishes have been done. All without me.
And when my laptop broke in the middle of a very busy working period, and I came crying to him desperate and panicking for some help with my workload, he made my crisis important and asked that question we females just want - need - to hear sometimes: "What can I do?" And when I told him what he could do to help, he did it. It was awesome.
So the other evening, while James was at his men's group, and I had some extra time on my hands organizing groceries, a thought occurred to me: "Let it go." A few minutes later, I'd packed his lunch, tucked a note inside, and resolved to let this one go, indefinitely. Two and a half years of the same argument...I guess I could continue making my point. It isn't a compromise, and it isn't what we agreed to. But we all need someone to give us a little grace. I've been lucky to have that from so many people in my life, including James. And in the end, even though it's only a small gesture, for me it represents a little growth to just - let it go.
I'm starting to wonder if I'd be less angry sometimes if I just had a little more grace.
Do you Twitter? Use Facebook? I'm all over the place it seems, here, my other blog, my business site, Facebook...it's all a bit much. As you can probably tell by my infrequent posting these last few months...so the thought of journaling my pregnancy, or the kids' happenings, on paper is, well, only a thought. It probably won't happen. And really, aren't I already doing that?
I don't use Twitter as much as I use Facebook, but I've found that all those little updates really amount to something: our family journal. Now, if only there were a way to capture it all for print. I went looking...and I've found a couple of options:
Tweetbook - a pretty simple application that basically collects all of your recent (not sure what defines "recent" but it goes back several months) tweets and puts them in PDF format for printing.
Cozi Family Journal - what I really wanted was an application that did the "tweetbook" thing for Facebook. I haven't found one. But I did find Cozi - a site that is actually a ton of things, but one feature they offer is a Family Journal. You can do as much or as little as you want with the Journal; I opted to only use the Facebook application.
If I find a way to use all of your Facebook updates to create a book, I will let you know. Hey, if you're a tech genius who's figured this out - will you let me know?
I'm not a reading expert, but I was fortunate to work with some of the best in the field during my time as an Educational Services manager for a public television station. I can't say enough about PBS - the institution that spurred intentional parenting when it came to media as an educational resource. I was lucky to get to attend a number of workshops presented by the likes of Ruby Payne, Jim Trelease, and LeVar Burton - long before I was ever a parent myself.
I don't remember everything I was taught, but a number of key ideas have stuck with me and I try to be mindful of them in setting up my kids for success.
I, myself, have always been an avid reader. I was a child that could focus on one activity for a long time even as a toddler. I liked time to myself, I had an active imagination, and I loved to get lost in my own thoughts. I read early and often - because I wanted to. Evyn is much the same way; she has always sat still for a good book or three, and even though she can't read just yet, she loves to go to the bookstore and dig into a stack of books, gazing at the pictures and imagining the stories that go with them. Ashlyn. Is a different story. She likes the idea of a book, and she will often ask me to read to her. But by the second page she's wiggling out of my lap and off to another room, ready for the next activity. It is really, really important that children be involved in reading early and often. So what can a mom with a toddler like Ashlyn do? Give up until they're older? NO!
When I was little I remember taking naps after church with my little sister Lora. I fondly recall the Story of the Little Tree scratched out on our record player, lulling me to sleep. I loved that story.
We've repeated the tradition in our house with audiobooks. I originally started with the kind of audiobooks that Evyn could "read" along to - the kind with the prompts for page-turning. Those were particularly awesome for the car, and they're not too expensive. It was a nice option because she wanted so desperately to read but just wasn't there yet. Then I noticed that she took a long time to wind down at the end of the night and was talking to herself for up to an hour before she fell asleep. For a while we played the Little Kid's Audio Adventure Bible from ZonderKids - and she loved it. After a couple of weeks of the series, we decided to freshen up the rotation a bit. Enter this awesomely-awesome series from Focus on the Family Radio Theatre - Classic Stories for a Girl's Heart:
The music, acting, and sound effects are incredible - truly closer to radio theatre than a narration of a book. Which is what makes the series easier for Evyn to comprehend and pay attention to. She usually listens to them as she falls asleep, but occasionally we will do "quiet time" with these (an alternative to a nap), or she'll color or do her art with the stories in the background.
I had a hard time finding something more brief and animated for Ashlyn, until this week, when I discovered Audible and Audiblekids.com (from Amazon).
For anywhere from .99 cents to $20+ you can download a range of stories, organized by age, genre, or popularity. I downloaded Mouse Tales, the Cat and the Hat series, and Skippyjon Jones. Ashlyn listens to them before bed and during bath time with Evyn, and we plan to bring them along on our trip to the beach next week. Basically, any time the kids are "trapped" is another great opportunity for an audio reading.
Another "car option" - especially if you want to be able to accommodate short attention spans by way of the dvd player - are the Scholastic dvd sets that you can buy (cheap) at TJ Maxx. I bought this one for six bucks for our Nashville trip. Besides the familiar content and visual format, these also feature the words on screen so would-be readers get the benefit of understanding words have meaning.
So here's the bottom line, and it's an important one: literacy is a series of skills that children must master in stages. And research proves: the earlier you start, the better. Reading aloud to your kids is one important step, but there are a number of ways to help the process along - and a huge number of resources to get you started.
I'm probably preaching to the choir here, in which case you also have some favorite resources - I'd love to hear what they are!
PS: I should mention that an obvious first place to look is your library. If you're lucky you live in a town with a library that keeps books on CD and not just tapes (TAPES!). I do not. At least not as of a year ago, which was the last time I looked. I should probably check back.
I'll keep this short (because, really, a post about nail polish shouldn't be lengthy)...I love all those fun new choices for colors out there but they usually wind up looking a little bit cheap. This color, however, wound up toe-ing the line perfectly between "trendy" and "kinda pretty." Ew. Toe pun.
Ashlyn is enamored with my entire vanity routine (consisting mostly of a hair dryer and deodorant, both of which she likes to take part in). So when I sat down to slap this on my toes she plopped herself down and yanked her shoes off, then waited, impatiently, for me to do the same for her.
Check out the way affordable "West Village" by NYC - at the "circle with a dot in it" store near you (this is Evyn's overly-verbal way of saying "Target.")
When J was deployed, I used to bring Evyn to my room in the mornings so she could play and watch PBSKids or Disney while I slept in a little. Every time this Choo Choo Soul lady came on, E would start hopping around the room and singing. And, I'll admit, I kinda enjoyed the beat, too. I noticed they had several different songs so I went looking for a cd.
At the time it was only available for mp3 download, but here it is on Amazon in both CD and DVD format:
We downloaded it and went on to listen to it in the car quite a bit; I recently took it out for Ashlyn. The tunes are catchy and the cd covers a range of styles within the soul genre.
Since then, I've run across a number of cds that seem to be marketed to both kids and the parents that are stuck in the car with the music, including Snacktime by Barenaked Ladies:
Thanks again for all the encouraging, supportive comments and emails you've sent my way. I appreciate all the feedback and kind words. And I hope that if you ever need it, you,too, receive as many kind words from friends, family, and strangers. It carries you a long way...
So...on another note. I've noticed that I frequently have something I want to share - some shopping tidbit or random little thing that hardly seems blog-worthy but that I want to put up here anyway. And while I've come to wince at the "Thursday This" and "Sunday That" that has inundated blogs over the last few years, here I am - joining the ranks. Because Friday is a goof-off day anyway. And what I have to share really are little finds. So the Friday shelf of my blog is where I'll be putting this random stuff.
On with today's randomness.
I have a warm spot in my heart for Coppola wines. Back when my girlfriends from Nashville and I had time, we took several trips. One of my favorite was Napa Valley - we spent most of our day at the Niebaum-Coppola vineyard (as in Francis Ford). Love. That place. It's rich in history, a beautiful property, and overall just a fascinating (and delicious) place.
So when I was last-minute grocery shopping for props for Wes and Amy's shoot, and I ran across Coppola's Rosso, packaged just like so:
I snatched it up.
To me there was something very romantic and cinematic about this little package. I pictured all those romantic movies - couples resting on the hood of the car under the stars with a bottle of wine and a solo cup.
If you want to like red wines but haven't in the past, you'd probably like this one. It's basically a table wine - a mix of several reds. I'm not a connoisseur so I couldn't begin to describe it properly, but I did get a taste and it wasn't overly dry or sweet. Really, a perfect "date wine." It made a great prop and would work nicely to bring along on an outdoor picnic or beach date.
Wait, wha? How did this adorable set of pudgy squish feet get in here?