Sometimes I Just Stop

Sometimes I just stop and stare at their faces, small and precious, with chubby cheeks and innocent eyes, and I think about how boring life was before them.

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As of late, I’ve been praying the prayer they tell you to never pray. Oh yes, I’ve been praying for patience. They say to never pray for patience because God will consistently give you the opportunity to practice this noble virtue….maybe by putting you in a line somewhere, or behind stand-still traffic, or giving you a colicky baby. But I recognize the need for patience now more than ever before in my life. Having become accustomed to a life of instant gratification, I have found it difficult to put aside my demands for those I love most. My schedule often revolves around what I have to do, with playtime being a distant second or third or seventh place. Time is precious, and it hasn’t been until recently that I’ve truly embraced that playing groceries is just as important to them as checking the bank account is to me. That having them “help” me clean is just as important to them as actually cleaning is to me. That they can’t just stop doing what they’re doing to hop in the car to go…because they’re in the middle of something and it’s important. It’s important to them, so it needs to be important to me, regardless of whatever it is.

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My determined diva made me realize this today. She was coloring at the table and I asked her to do something, I don’t remember what. But she replied that she couldn’t right then because she was “working”. It’s true, she was. Though part of me wanted to tell her to do it right now because she is a child and should do as I say, the other patient side prevailed to make me realize that she was working. She was doing the work of childhood, and my request could wait a few minutes until she was done. Her time is just as finite as mine, and when this one precious irreplaceable day is done I still won’t remember what I asked her to do, but I will share this memory with her of respecting her very important work.

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Patience is really teaching me a lot lately.

Cartwheels and Coffee

I recently found this wonderful magazine for Richmond families that is complete with a calendar of local events, many of which are cheap or free. While scouring through the site, one place in particular caught my eye…Cartwheels and Coffee.

Specifically designed for parents with children ages 6 and under, this place offers a safe indoor play area for kids and a coffee bar with wifi for adults! What a genius business strategy! Combining the love of childhood play with the much-needed caffeine boost for sleep-deprived mothers in an indoor safe area….it’s the perfect recipe for a rainy day! SCORE!

They offer something special for everyday of the week…singing, dancing, doing art, exercise, and story time. We went on Tuesday, which is their singing day. We all gathered around and sang songs and played with shakers and bells.

Cartwheels music time
There were probably around 20 kids and just as many adults there. We all gathered around to sing some classics like “Twinkle Twinkle”, as well as some that I have never heard of.
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LV’s classic look of apprehension at something new, though she did seem to enjoy the egg shakers they handed out.
Cartwheels Autumn
And then there’s Autumn, the Yin to LV’s Yang, who had no issues at all shaking the egg, the bells, her booty, mom’s drink, a random girl’s pony tails, some poor baby’s pacifier…

After singing, it was time to play! Both the girls loved the indoor playground, reading nook, kitchen area, train table, and dress-up area. My favorite part, of course, was my latte!

Cartwheels Playground
This whole playground looks as though it was custom-built. Underneath the climbing wall was an area to drive a car, and around the playground were insects on wheels that the kids could ride on, as well as a rocking horse and a trampoline. For some reason LV thought it would be hilarious to have Autumn sit on the trampoline while she jumps as high and fast as possible. To my horror Autumn enjoyed it as well. These kids are going to shatter what’s left of my nerves.

Cartwheels LV on Playground

Cartwheels Autumn Reading
I love it that both my kids enjoy books…if only to eat them. Hey, at least they’re interested, right?

I think I had more fun playing dress up than LV. I was pulling every outfit off the shelf and asking her to try them on. She’s just so darn cute! Plus I’m slowly developing my pile of embarrassing photos to bust out at completely inappropriate times when she’s older (*cue evil mom laugh…muah ha ha ha*).
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And it wasn’t just moms and kids there, either. I was really impressed by how many fathers were there! It’s so refreshing to see fathers taking an active role in their kids’ lives. One dad in particular I talked to was from England. I don’t know much more about him since he was quite busy cooking up something delightful in the play kitchen with his 18-month-old.

I just love finding jewels like this! It’s such a great place for both kids and adults to socialize, play, and learn! And it’s so nice to have coffee without having to worry about a certain toddler knocking down a display of ground coffee and mugs…(ahem, clear throat, not that my child has ever done that before. On that note please be sure to tip your local barista. They work hard.).

Hope your rainy day is full of caffeine and singing!

A Day of Festivals

I had a major delima this past Saturday….what to do? Summer is in high gear around here and there are just too many options to choose from on any given Saturday, this Saturday being no exception. There was RVA Streets Alive, and the Vegetarian Festival. Oh what to do, what to do? Might as well hit them both up and see if I can’t push my kids and my patience to the limit. I am proud to say we succeeded and live to tell the tale!

We started out at the RVA Streets Alive event. This was a free event put on by Sports Backers where they closed off the streets surrounding Byrd Park and had vendors offering fun things to do outside. They had jump-roping, wheelchair basketball, a tricycle obstacle course, dancing, roller derby, running, and more!

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I love it when the community comes together to try to better their health!

We weren’t there very long before we were feeling rather hungry. They had a few food vendors there, but knowing that the Vegetarian Festival was only 5 miles away was quite enticing. I was thinking that the festival would be similar to this one, which was extremely easy to park and walk to. Oh was I wrong! 5 miles away turned into about a 1/2 hour of stand still traffic trying to get in. Then another 15 minute walk from the parking area to where the event was happening. But in the end it was all worth it for some vegan BBQ with cole slaw and veggie hot dogs with sweet potato fries. YUM!

DSC_0505 DSC_0508I had a wonderful conversation with one of the owner/operators of NOPE, a composting company that was present at the events, collecting food and paper scraps that could be composted. Their container was in between the recycling and trash receptacles. I really hope that concept catches on. It’s absolutely brilliant!

Home-brewed kombucha!! Oh be still my hippy heart!
Home-brewed kombucha on tap!! Oh be still my hippy heart!

A short side note about myself: I was a vegan for 2+ years, a vegetarian for 5+. I actually just recently, reluctantly, went back to eating meat (that’s another blog post). I still have a large heart for vegetarian/vegan cuisine. But not just the cuisine…the whole atmosphere that surrounds veggie people. This festival is a wonderful example of that! Not only was there a plethora of yummy meat-free options, but there were also a number of booths raising awareness for different causes that tug at my heartstrings…essential oils, midwifery, holistic healing, etc.

I have to say it’s the first time I’ve gone to an event like this as an omnivoire, and part of me felt rather deceptive, like I no longer belonged in this eclectic group of peace-keepers and save-the-world activists because I eat meat. Maybe it was all the t-shirts staring at me everywhere I went.

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I think my favorite exhibit was the hoopers. Because secretly I really want to be a hooper. And I think the preschooler does too.

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Then there was this guy who was just a fabulous performer! So funny and so talented!

As it was getting time to leave, we wandered over to the kids tent where we colored bandanas for shelter dogs. The thought was to make them look more presentable to be adopted, though I’m positive our bandanas probably didn’t really help the cause much. We also did a little stretching at the yoga tent before heading home.

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Needless to say, the girls slept quite soundly the whole ride home.

I just love exposing the girls to events like these. What better way to enjoy a Saturday than with some free, fun, and educational community events! I can’t wait for the next one!

A Camping Week of Preschool

I have the fondest memories of early education while growing up. There was always something magical about a brightly colored carpet, or the decorated bulletin board. Early education always brings back memories of excitement in learning; you couldn’t wait to go to school because there was so much fun stuff to do and learn about.

While still trying to decide what kind of schooling I want to expose the girls to, I thought I’d creep in a form of curriculum and see how we’d do. I picked up an early childhood development book at the library and have dove headfirst into weekly themes. I love the idea of exploring different aspects of life each week…there’s so much to learn!

We just completed week #1…camping. This week was pretty easy since, well, we live in a campground. Actually it was too easy. I love camping!

We started the week off with a field trip to the Pocohontus State Park. Pocohontus has this wonderful splash pad/pool area. We went with a group of local mothers and children and had a blast! There’s a parking fee and a pool fee, but if you camp there it’s all included in your camping fee.

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We then went to the library and cleaned them out of every preschool-age camping book on their shelves. We read them every night by flashlight under a homemade tent in the bunkroom, before engaging in shadow puppets on the walls. By the end of the week, the spirited 3-year-old could read them back to me.

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Everyday we took part in some finger play and singing of camping songs. Then we did some crafts to go along with our theme. Our first craft was binoculars (made out of toilet paper rolls and yarn), then we made a picture of a fire with marshmallows roasting, and finally we went outside and recorded what the clouds looked like with some cotton balls.

DSC_0019 DSC_0021DSC_0580DSC_0034We also learned some sign language for camping. I just love sign language, and I’ve always wanted to learn. What better time to learn than when teaching?! Tent was pretty difficult for my little nature-lover, but she got the hang of fire just fine. She can tell what word I’m communicating when I sign it…doing them herself is another story…

A few weeks ago I bought a fishing pole. Why? Because it was free fishing weekend in Virginia and I needed a pole like you wouldn’t believe. So now I have a pole. Since it’s camping week, I took the hook off the end and we went down to the extremely overgrown pond to catch us some seaweed. Success!

DSC_0031While we were there I spotted a baby bird’s nest! Such a wonderful treat for our camping week! I’ve been checking on these guys everyday and they seem to be doing just fine!

DSC_0057We finished up the week with the all-American favorite camping pastime…the roasting of the marshmallows (though I now think it should be renamed to the roasting of mom, since it was 95 degrees outside when we started this lovely fire. Oh the things we’ll do for some toasted sugar and childhood memories!).

DSC_0067 DSC_0081 DSC_0099I’m not sure if the preschooler is having fun, but I’m having A BALL! I really love this age, and I really love teaching! There’s so many ideas out there of fun, easy, entertaining ways to learn!

Next week is Ocean Week, and I cannot wait!
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Melody Magic Studio!

Meet Ms. Katherine! She is one of the awesome teachers at this fabulous place we found called Melody Magic Music Studio. This past week they had a free open house to check out their summer programs.Melody Magic Whistle

Melody Magic Studio offers Kindermusik classes, which I have heard about but never really explored. Kindermusik is kind of cool in that it combines the universal language of music into an brain-stimuating class. They have classes for babies through 5 years old, each class offering unique movements and music to stimulate brain development. The benefits of such classes include early literacy, social-emotional skills essential for school readiness, creativity, and gross and fine-motor skills.

It gave me a lot of ideas of what we can do at home on rainy days this summer. There was a lot of shaking, stomping, and clapping. For someone like myself who still has no idea how to play with children, even after  3 years of parenting, places like these are lifesavers! It’s so nice to see children playing and learning in a fun environment.

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LV always has a difficult time getting excited about new things. Sometimes she just needs to hang out on Mom’s lap for a while until she feels a little more comfortable.

With each dance they handed out something new, asking the children to put away the previous objects. At first it was shakers and rattles. Not only were the children encouraged to shake the rattles, but they were also encouraged to stop shaking them on cue. (Hmm….how to make that work at home….)

Next came the scarves. Ms. Katherine played some music, and when the notes went high in the register, the children waved their scarves above their heads. Then the music went into the bass region, where they were encouraged to wave their scarves low for the low notes.

After that it was using hands and feet to tap out the beats. Amazingly enough, Autumn started tapping the ground on cue!

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I was really amazed at how well all the kids shared. I feel like I’m always learning about life from my kids. Autumn has become quite the social butterfly, and had no issues at all going up to other children and giving (or taking) them shakers.

Melody Magic Studio Shaker Melody Magic Studio put away For those who live in the area and are interested in having some musical fun, summer classes start next week. They range from babies through preschoolers. For more information on classes and playdates, click here.

For more information on Kindermusik, as well as products specifically for small children music classes and school locations, click here.