Kid-Made Stations of the Cross Box

Last year I made a Stations of the Cross box for my girls, inspired by the one Bonnie made and shared in this post.

The girls really enjoyed doing Stations last year using the box. It was fun for them to have something tangible to look at and touch while we read the book and prayers.

We had been doing it every Friday during this Lent too. They seemed to like doing the Stations and talking about them, just like last year. Last Saturday however, my kids’ love for doing the Stations went through the roof, and I had nothing to do with it.

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I wasn’t even home, but my oldest daughter decided she wanted to make her own Stations of the Cross box with the babysitter. All by herself, she came up with a way to make each of the items in the box or to substitute with something else if she couldn’t get or make what we had used before.

My babysitter texted me this picture while I was at the Catholic Women’s Conference on Saturday:

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At first I had no idea what it was, but I thought for sure Lass had made it, because she has been into making small figures out of paper lately. I texted, “Is that Jesus?” The babysitter texted me back that yes, it was, and that Miss had made all the items and they had been sitting around doing the Stations.

Yes. My kids did the Stations of the Cross with my babysitter on Saturday, with no prompting from me. Twice. Then they requested to do it again when I got home. And we did it again before bed.

We’ve done it at bedtime every night since then, at their request.

How do we do it? We use both boxes (the one I made last year and the one Miss made) and take all the items out. We distribute the items among the girls, and each of them also gets a small pocket Stations book to follow along with the pictures. We use this book to read the prayers and the descriptions of the Stations (and BTW, what a rip off, Amazon, the book was $2 at our local Catholic store!). As we read about each station, the girls with the items relating to it put the items in the boxes. Some of the prayers we all say out loud together. That’s it.

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Sometimes they ask questions about the Stations and we talk about what it must have been like for Jesus.

Sometimes they argue about who gets to put which item in which box. Whatever. We (or they) have read through the Stations 10 times since last Friday. (!!)

Miss used craft foam (my girls’ favorite) to make most of the items in her box. I love that she got creative with a few of the things she couldn’t duplicate from the box I made. She didn’t have a rosary, which is what I used to symbolize Mary, so she cut a piece of blue foam, knowing that blue is a color often associated with Mary. She didn’t have a rock, so she made Jesus and wrapped Him in tape to show that He was in the tomb. She could have easily gone upstairs and gotten her rosary from her room or outside and gotten a rock, but she chose to make all of the items instead (except the tissue).

The cross shapes aren’t perfect. The hand (symbolizing Simon helping Jesus) is missing a thumb. But she made it all by herself. And that has made her want to pray the Stations of the Cross and look at the items symbolizing each station every day. And because she’s the oldest, her sisters want to do it too.

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I had thought I might make this a how-to-type post, but then I realized I really couldn’t. In this case, the complete independence of the project, and the creativity and satisfaction that resulted from the process, made it so much better than if I had set out all the materials and had a planned way for Miss to make each item.

Obviously, I think it would be great to give your kids the idea to do this along with some suggestions on how to make it happen (I wish I had thought of it!), but I don’t really have those suggestions other than to show you another photo of Miss’s finished product and say, “Let them go for it”:

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By rows, top top bottom, left to right:

  1. Jesus is condemned to death (rope)
  2. Jesus takes up his cross
  3. Jesus falls for the first time (that’s supposed to be a BandAid, it has a 1 written on it)
  4. Jesus meets his mother
  5. Simon helps Jesus
  6. Veronica wipes the face of Jesus
  7. Jesus falls for the second time
  8. Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem (they are crying, thus a tissue)
  9. Jesus falls for the third time
  10. The soldiers tear off Jesus’s clothes (that is a piece of paper folded and taped to represent a tunic)
  11. Jesus is nailed to the cross
  12. Jesus dies on the cross
  13. Jesus is taken down from the cross (Miss said that this is the “Jesus outside the tomb”)
  14. Jesus is placed in the tomb (Jesus wrapped in tape = “Jesus inside the tomb”)

All kept together in a nice shoebox she found in her closet.

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If you try this with your kids, please let me know how it goes!

So Big, and Yet So Small – The First Day of Kindergarten

Yesterday morning, when I went in to wake Miss up for her first full day of kindergarten away from home, I stood and gazed at her for a second before rousing her. I brushed her hair back from her sleeping face, and as I looked at her in profile, I saw her, right then, as a two-year-old. In sleep, her big-girl face took on the baby-like qualities from when she was smaller, and it almost took my breath.

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^ In the upper left-hand corner of that photo is Miss at about 18 months.

I almost didn’t want to wake her. I wanted to just stand and look at her. She looked so little and so big, at the same time.

I wasn’t sure how I would feel about today. I knew it would be hard/weird to send her to somewhere else for a full day. I knew it would feel strange to know that my little girl is big enough for kindergarten, even though next week she’ll be back home with me, and we’ll be doing school at home most of the time. I knew I would be nervous and excited for her.

She was certainly excited.

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So, did I cry when I dropped her off?

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No. I didn’t. I felt the throat tightening, eyes burning feeling for just a moment when she first started to walk away with her class. But it passed pretty quickly.

However, it was certainly a strange, and in some ways difficult, day. I kept feeling like a part of me was missing. At lunch, sitting with just my two youngers, I noticed how odd it felt to not have Miss there. That was the hardest part. That’s when I almost cried.

Sis: (to Lass) “You be Pincess Pesto, and I be Affa Pig, and Mama, you be Supa Why!”

Me: “Okay! Too bad your sister isn’t here. She could be Wonder Red.”

Sis: (looking sadly at Miss’s seat) “We need to go get her!!”

That moment, that little-sister-missing-big-sister moment, is when I started laugh-crying, as I said something like, “We can’t yet. She’s at school.” I almost spiraled into all-out bawling, feeling acutely the void left by Miss’s absence right then. But I pulled it together and rallied with more Super Why! pretending. It helps when you know all the words. . .

For most of the day, I kept looking at the clock and wondering where Miss was and what she was doing right then. “11:07, I wonder if she’s having lunch yet?”  Super Friend kindly texted me a photo of her grinning from ear to ear on the playground at recess and let me know that she seemed fine at lunch.

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By 1pm I was checking my watch every five minutes or so, to see if it was time to go get her yet. I missed her.

At pick up, I realized how much fun she had had, and how grown up it made her feel to have had a full day at school, away from Mom and sisters.

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She and her sisters played with other kids on the playground for a bit after dismissal. Miss kept following Sis around, helping her on the relatively large play structure. She came to me and told me that I didn’t have to watch Sis, because she would take care of it.

The whole day, I was struck over and over by the juxtaposition of so grown up with so teeny tiny. She was acting so responsibly, and so big with her little sister. Yet the older kids careening around her dwarfed her.

Her uniform clothes were so grown up.

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But in them, she looked so teeny tiny.

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I guess that’s one of the tough things about the start of kindergarten. Our little ones are so big and so small at the same time. This makes it hard to let go. At least for me.

I must say, I am quite relieved she will be back at home with me next week. I think I’ll be able to handle this for one and a half days per week.

7 Quick Takes – Happy 4th of July!

1.

I’ve been practicing singing my songs for the Labor Day party. All the songs are on a playlist in my phone, and I usually play them and sing along in the car. The girls really enjoy most of the music. I’ve had some interesting questions from Miss about some of the songs. For example:

Little Willy – “Mom, why won’t Willy go?” (lyrics, “‘Cause Little Willy Willy won’t, go home. But you can’t push Willy ’round, Willy won’t go“)

You Be Illin’ – “Who’s Ellen?”

500 Miles – “Mom, is he really going to do that?” (lyrics, “But I would walk 500 miles, and I would walk 500 more.

That’s Not My Name – “Why are they calling her that stuff?” (lyrics, “They call me ‘hell’ They call me ‘Stacey’ They call me ‘her’ They call me ‘Jane’ That’s not my name. . .“) and “Did that really happen?”

And my favorite/most awkward of the questions:

Sweet Dreams (by The Eurythmics)- “Mom, why does someone want to be abused?”

2.

Speaking of Miss, I was feeling such warm fuzzies the other day when I heard her and Sis playing together. Miss was pretending to be Sis’s mommy, and was saying such sweet, loving things to her. I was just about to pat myself on the back for obviously providing such a beautiful model of motherhood when I heard, “It’s bedtime. You need to stay in bed. You. stay. in. bed. Go to sleep! Now stay. asleep. Stay asleep! STAY ASLEEP!!”

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Things devolved from there and the “Mommy” ended up chasing the “baby,” yelling, “Get in bed! It’s time for bed!!

Ahem. She might have heard me say something like that before.

3.

I just love this photo:

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Lass woke up extra early one morning and my husband sat and perused this huge animal book with her before he had to get ready for work. They were playing a game that seemed to only make sense to the two of them. Love.

 4.

I am not always quite so engaging when one of the girls wakes up super early with me. Jake and the Neverland Pirates? Yes, please.

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5.

A friend texted me yesterday to invite me to the 4th of July parade today. I had no idea there was a 4th of July parade in our town. Seems logical that there would be, now that I think about it, but it had never occurred to me. I’m so glad we went.

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6.

The parade was lots of fun for all of us, but my natural suspicion and defensiveness sort of put a bit of a damper on it for me. Early on in the the parade, a man came and stood directly behind my stroller, which I had pulled right up to the curb so Sis could see when she was sitting in it.

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We had our sit’n’stand and my purse was sitting on the back seat. The man was disheveled and dirty, and he was totally in my personal space, so my mind immediately went to protection mode. I made sure I was between him and my kids at all times, and I nonchalantly moved my purse to the ground in front of the stroller after rummaging around in it for some chapstick (I didn’t want to be too obvious). I didn’t quite go so far as to plan out in my mind just what self-defense moves I would use on him if necessary (apparently he wasn’t quite as threatening as the young girl who walked next to my car while in the Starbucks drive through line), but I did keep my eye on him the whole time.

7.

We had some friends over for a cookout tonight (same friends we went to the parade with). The girls had so much fun and they did sparklers of the first time. Two of my three girls were not scared at all. One was a bit nervous at first.

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My big girl sometimes just needs a minute to observe. She eventually overcame her fear.

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The grand finale:

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It was a great day, full of fun and friends. I can hear everyone else just getting started with the fireworks outside, and I’m ready for bed :) Happy 4th of July!

See more quick takes at Conversion Diary.

Going to Catholic School?

I met with the principal at the local Catholic school today. Next fall Miss will be starting kindergarten. But since I homeschool my kids, you might wonder why I would bother to meet with a school principal.

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I had started thinking about beginning the process of taking my girls to after school religious education classes in order for them to prepare for their first communions and confirmations. And then I thought about the descriptions I had heard from people who went through religious ed after school like that (none were good). And I began to wonder if there was some way I could have my girls do it differently.

I have a sister-in-law who homeschools her oldest son part time and sends him to public school part time. He’s in first grade. They love the arrangement they have.

Super Friend’s kids go to the Catholic school here in town. I have heard wonderful things about the school from her and everyone else I know whose children attend there.

I put all of these thoughts together, and I couldn’t help but wonder if I might be able to work something out where I could send Miss (and later her sisters) to the Catholic school part time, and still maintain our homeschooling for the rest. I figured I could still have her home with me most of the time, still be able to technically be a homeschooling family so that we aren’t subject to the attendance rules of the schools and could continue to travel as much as we want, and yet be able to derive many of the benefits available with a traditional school system.

My mind was swimming with the possibilities. I envisioned being able to send her to school for religion classes and then not have to send her to them after-school. Maybe letting her take art and music classes in school. I mulled this over in my head for quite a while, and finally I just called up the principal of the school and asked her if we could do it.

Guess what she said? “That sounds wonderful. Let me check into it.”

So she met with the people that needed to be met with. She sent me a schedule for the kindergarten class to look over. And today we met to see if we could come up with something that might work.

It. was. fabulous. The principal was absolutely open to all of my ideas and completely willing to work with me. She was open to trying to enable Miss to attend not only religion classes but the school mass on Thursday mornings, music, gym, computers, and art. I also asked that she be able to participate in some free periods like recess and “free choice,” so that she’d have a chance to play and interact and make friends with the other kids.

I am so thrilled with how the meeting went. As it looks now we will probably send Miss to school maybe for about a day and a half per week. She’ll be able to perform in the school concerts. She should be able to go on field trips. She’ll be able to have plenty of time playing and learning with other kids her age, but still be home with me most of the time. I’ll be in charge of the majority of her schooling. I’ll get some help in teaching her religion. And we will still be able to travel whenever we want and do all the other things that homeschooling enables us to do.

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I haven’t talked to Miss about it, but I think she will be very excited about the possibility of spending some time at school outside our home. And I think it will be a great experience for her. I really think it will be the best of both worlds.

7 Quick Takes, Mostly About Wasting Time on the Internet

Linking up with Conversion Diary.

1. Here’s something I’ve learned about myself:

I do not like going to a salon for regular maintenance of any kind. This might be a somewhat new-ish development (maybe since having kids?), because I used to get my nails done every two weeks when I was in graduate school. But these days? Forget it. This is why I don’t color my hair. I even have a tiny bit of a mustache because I can’t be bothered to get it waxed on a regular basis.

This has never really been a problem for me. It wasn’t really too much of a big deal for me to regularly go at least six months between haircuts. But then I got bangs!

I did not foresee the problem of needing regular maintenance on bangs. They get long fast! I am not willing to go in for a $40 bang trim every three weeks of so. My solution? Cut them myself.

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^^ See how long??

Well, now they’re short. Except I think I might have cut them a bit too short this last time. Good thing I invested in a few head bands for off hair days.

2. Speaking of learning things about myself, I am addicted to taking the ridiculous online “quizzes” everyone is posting on Facebook these days. I never seek them out, but when I see someone’s result from one of them on FB, like “I was meant to live in the 1950s. Which decade do you actually belong in?” or “I’m Burt! Which Sesame Street character are you?,” for some truly bizarre reason I can’t help but click on these just to see what I’ll get. Here’s what I’ve learned: I am a Hobbit Big Bird, who should have a career as a professor and live in Tennessee. Or Paris. In the 1920s.

See? Isn’t that interesting? Never mind the fact that my real answer to most of the items in these questionnaires is “None of these options,” or that I’m so unhip that the first time I took on of these quizzes (the one about “Which city should you actually live in?”) and it asked the question, “What’s your jam?,” the only one of the available responses that I had ever even heard of was “Sweet Child of Mine.” I must still be pretty glamorous though (see #1^^ for evidence of this), because I learned that I truly belong in Paris.

3. And speaking of silly internet wastes of time, my favorite of these quizzes was the one from the NY Times about “What does the way you speak say about where you’re from?” Unlike those in #2, this one was actually totally accurate. Calling the night before Halloween “Devil’s Night” and referring to a sugary carbonated beverage as “Pop” placed me squarely in Detroit, which really is the area where I did grow up.

One of the fun things about this particular quiz is that it showed the regional popularity of each individual answer given. Having lived in lots of states in the midwest and south, some of the things I say and ways I speak now no longer reflect my place of birth. Like “Frontage Road.” People don’t say that in Detroit, but I say it now. Fascinating.

4. Do these quick takes make me seem like all I ever do is waste time doing stupid stuff on the internet? Well, let me get all literary on you for a moment then. I recently came across a fun post (yes, on the internet) “What Your Book Crush Says About You.” My favorite literary gents from those included in the post are Gilbert Blythe and Rhett Butler. Though there’s nothing accurate in the post about what that actually says about me, it was still fun to read and think about some of my favorite male book characters. I wish she would have included Manly from the Little House books though. He’s a much better literary main man than Edward from Twilight, for pete’s sake.

So. I must know, which are your favorites?

5. I have discovered a love of the bento box for serving my kids lunch. I had gotten into such a lunch rut until I bought some of these containers and these silicone muffin things. Now it’s so much easier to get creative with lunch, and the girls seem to like it too. They refer to these as their “special” lunches.

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^ Bacon, avocado, and lettuce, wrapped in a piece of turkey. In the muffin cup is some Justin’s Chocolate Hazelnut Nut Butter for dipping apple slices. They loved it!

It doesn’t really even seem to matter if they enjoy and eat what I put in these boxes for them. They almost never complain, because usually they have at least one thing in them that they like. Lunch is so much less of a drag.

And yes, I do realize that having a special box really isn’t necessary to serve lunch this way. But it seems more fun.

6. Miss started her piano lessons on Wednesday. Oh, the cuteness.

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I wasn’t sure how it would go, but she loved it. And her teacher is a perfect fit for her. Now I just need to get a piano.

7. I said this before, but I’ll say it again. I am having a little bit of a hard time with five. All of a sudden my eldest is doing all sorts of super grown up stuff. She’s wielding scissors like a pro. She’s reading.

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She no longer says, “lasterday” instead of “yesterday” or “with-about” instead of “without.” I don’t know exactly when she began pronouncing those words correctly (it’s probably been a while), but her sweet little mispronunciations are gone (except that Lass now says “lasterday”).

I’m not ready for her, for them, to be getting so big. Sis will be two next month. I don’t have a baby anymore!! I’m very near the point of no longer having anyone’s diaper to change and this makes me sad. Probably that makes me weird too, but obviously it’s not the diapers I’ll miss, it’s having a teeny baby. I need another baby :)

Check out more quick takes here.

A Brave Birthday

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Miss had such a fun party yesterday. She asked for a Brave-themed party, and I ran with that, keeping it a bit more archery-focused than princess-focused. I have a little bit of a Pinterest obsession, and I found lots of cute ideas, though I ended up mostly just using my own.

The plan for the party started with the realization that, since it was on a weekday evening and we would be having it at my house, a movie party (and a small guest list) would be a great idea. With the movie being Disney’s “Brave,” of course. I remembered seeing little cars made into boxes for a “drive-in movie” party, so I went with that. It went over even better than I thought it would (I couldn’t find a tutorial for making the boxes, so I’ll share how I did it in a later post here. I know you can’t wait).

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I kind of wasn’t expecting the kids to actually sit in the boxes. They didn’t sit in them for the whole movie, of course, but for at least 30 minutes or so they did. After that it was chaos and the boxes were vroomed all over, filled up with toys, and crushed, but that’s okay.

For a movie party of course one has to serve popcorn, so I bought these cute little popcorn boxes and decoupaged the Clan DunBroch symbol on them.

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I didn’t realize until after I was done that I put it on upside down on all but one.

One of the decorating ideas I was most excited about was making “will-o’-the-wisps” for our front walk. In the movie, Merida follows these to her “destiny,” so I came up with the idea of making some for a cool decoration. I put a battery-operated tea light into some blue tissue paper along with a few marbles to keep them from blowing away and set them on white paper plates in the snow. They didn’t turn out quite as cool as I wanted, largely because it wasn’t dark out when guests arrived.

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But I still liked them, and they did look pretty when everyone left.

I found these fun “medieval” goblets for the table (and for the kids to each take home), so I got gold plates to go with them and blue forks and napkins to be “wisp-like” again. The goblets actually come half with pink and blue gems and half with green and blue, with was a happy surprise for me since we had our favorite boy guest in attendance.

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Of course I couldn’t possibly throw a party without some fun find from Etsy. I found a cute banner, which Miss loved.

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And I also got these bow and arrow charms to make necklaces.

DSC_0650I got them, along with some cotton thread and some beads from Hobby Lobby (and also these charms which I didn’t use this time), with the idea that I could let the kids make their own necklaces during the party. But then I decided that the movie, pizza, cake, presents, and archery (which Miss said she really wanted to do) would take up enough time. So I just made one necklace for each guest. I thought Miss could give them out as the guests came in, like we did with the horse tails at Lass’s party, but she didn’t want to wear hers and wasn’t really into handing them out, so I just put them in the favor bags.

Also in the favor bags were small bows with arrows for each guest (these came with little knives too, but I ditched those) and a Brave tattoo.

At the end of the shindig, the kids each took turns shooting Miss’s bow, which was the highlight of the evening for me (and seemingly for many of them). They all seemed to enjoy it, and Miss really wanted to include this as part of the party.

I am so please with how everything turned out.

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^^When I asked her what she wanted for her birthday dinner she said, “pizza and green beans,” so each guest got some fresh green beans with their pizza!

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Everyone seemed to have fun.

The planning and crafting is a fun perk for me of having kids’ birthday parties. There were even a few things I didn’t have time to do (I got a cupcake stand but didn’t have time to decorate and put it together, and I got some paper targets and mod-podged them to some foam core boards but didn’t have time to cut them out and put them up). But obviously, the most important thing is that my girl and her guests had a good time. And they did.

Today I’m taking my five-year-old to her first piano lesson and to get a library card.

Skiing, Valentine-ing, and Birthday Prep

I promise I’m not going to make this another post about how sick we have all been. Everyone is really feeling better now.

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But, I would like to update in order to amend Friday’s post. The one in which I said we were most definitely going on our ski trip because no one had been puking all day and nothing was stopping us. I think I said, “We’re. going.” Note the extra period in there for emphasis.

Well. Ha. Ha. I remember as I typed that thinking, “I’m totally jinxing myself.” And then thinking, “No. No way. How could anything else possibly prevent us from going??”

So, when my husband got home from work on Friday, everything was packed. We were ready to go. He was about to start loading stuff into the car, but then he looked at Miss, who was lying on the floor, uncharacteristically sluggish, wrapped in a blanket. She had taken a nap that day, which was unusual for her, and woke up still saying, “I’m so tired.” She had come downstairs after her nap and barely moved from her spot on the floor.

Hubby said, “Did you take her temperature?” I said, “No” as I was walking over to put my hand on her forehead. The moment I did, I knew. She had a fever. I knew it, but I went to get the thermometer anyway. 101.7. I turned to my husband and silently mouthed some choice words before tending to her and then sending a text to Super Friend (who was already on her way to the skiing place with her family) that we weren’t coming.

But, amazingly and happily, Miss started to perk up almost right away. So much so that when I called to cancel our reservation, I only cancelled Friday night. By the time she went to bed, her temp was already below 100. I texted Super again, “There’s hope!” Saturday morning Miss woke with no fever, no other symptoms, happy as can be. I said, “Quick throw everything in the car and let’s go before something else happens to stop us!”

Okay, I didn’t really say that, but we did get on the road first thing Saturday and made it to our little condo in time for lunch and afternoon skiing and hot chocolate with Super Kids.

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The girls went to Wee Ski school in the afternoon. My husband wanted to teach them himself, but knew he couldn’t take both of them at the same time, so we thought that would be the best option. I was able to watch them from Super Friend’s condo, which was right across the street from the area where they were having their lessons. They were so darn cute all bundled up and wobbly on skis. I wanted to give them a few minutes to get comfortable before going over and watching and taking some photos. But they were only out for a very short time before going back inside to play in the little daycare area. So much for skiing.

They did say that they had fun, and they loved going tubing that night. The dads took the four older kids tubing while Super and I took the three little ones and went into town to get pizza and ice cream and beer. We had the best pizza ever, delicious treats for after the kids went to bed (we did let them have some ice cream too), and wonderful company. So, even though the trip was short and the skiing was minimal, we had a great time.

And yesterday we had our little Valentine’s Day make up. Red heart-shaped pancakes, flower arranging, tea party, and more. It was lovely.

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DSC_0652 DSC_0658 DSC_0654Today we have a birthday. Our big girl is five today. Five!

Miss and Belle

I’m having a little bit of a hard time with five. Five is so grow up. Five is school-age! Even though I won’t be sending her off to kindergarten in a few months, still, I could be! I just got a bunch of paperwork from the elementary school she would be attending if she went to public school, so I called them to say she won’t be attending. It felt so strange to do that. Five is so big.

Anyway, I have been party planning for this Merida party we’ve got happening tonight. A little preview:

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The party will be here at our house, so the guest list is small, small. But Miss is so excited and I can’t wait for her to enjoy her day. Details to follow.

I Have Bangs

I have been wanting to make a change to my hair lately. It’s been on my mind, and then when we were at my parents’ house last week Miss saw a 20-year-old photo of me and exclaimed, “Oh! You look so beautiful!” She especially seemed to like my hair.

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How did you get your hair like that???” It was a bit hard to explain, because she didn’t quite understand the concept of a three-year-old perm. Her questions got me pondering a change more seriously.

Other than a few (very) brief ventures into “different” hair,

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my hair has been the same since I was 16.

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I’m only wearing that sweatshirt ^^ because I lost a bet.

So this past week I decided it was time to get my hair cut and try something different again. I asked Miss how she wanted me to get it cut and she said “Short!” I told her I hadn’t had very good luck with short hair, so I probably wouldn’t be doing that any time soon (ever, ever, ever).

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But I did decide I wanted to try bangs again. I haven’t had bangs since about 1991 (the top photo in this post was taken around then). Well, except for one reaaaalllly bad attempt at reaaalllly short hair in college, around 1995. Thank goodness I have no photos of that horror.

So. 2013. I have bangs.

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I like the change. It satisfied my urge for something different (it’s nice to get a haircut and give some directions to the hairdresser beyond, “Just cut off a few inches”), but not too crazy.

Best of all, when I came home from the salon and asked Miss if she liked my haircut, her face lit up and she nodded enthusiastically, “Yes!!” Love that girl :)

I Think It’s Interesting!

I went to the library yesterday and grabbed a bunch of stories by one of our new favorite children’s authors, Robert Munsch.

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We just discovered this prolific author. His stories are cute, funny, and often feature clever protagonists. Some of our favorites are “The Paper Bag Princess,” “Mud Puddle,” and “We Share Everything!”

We read a new one yesterday called “Stephanie’s Ponytail.” It’s a witty tale of a little girl who wears a ponytail in different ways and gets copied by others in her class at school. The moral of the story is “don’t blindly follow people.” It’s a good book, and we all enjoyed it and laughed at her funny ponytails.

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Today, Miss said she wanted one ponytail “coming right out the back” and two more on the sides. I gently suggested that perhaps she would like to have either a ponytail in the back or two on the sides. Her response?

“But Mo-om! I think it’s interesting!”

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Well. Yes it is.

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Interesting.

I love her independence.

Food, Lies, and Church

I have some rules about food and meals and eating in our house. Though I try not to go overboard with crazy rules, I think these are important as they serve to try to ensure my kids eat in a healthful way, to minimize battles over food and eating, and to make mealtime a non-negotiable period of time set aside for family.

Here are the food rules at our house:

We have set meal and snack times. My kids do not eat or drink (except water) all throughout the day. Except for special occasion “picnics” on a blanket in the family room while watching a movie and the occasional snack eaten on the road somewhere, they eat at the table. When they get down from the table, they’re done eating until the next meal or snack.

I do not make special food for my kids separate from what I make for my husband and myself. We all eat the same meal. I often include options like cottage cheese or applesauce for my kids to go along with the meal, but I never make them something else.

No one ever has to clean her plate. My kids eat what they want of what is served. When they say they’re done, they ask to be excused and get down from the table.

Along these lines, I don’t ever require my kids to eat anything at meal time if they say they aren’t hungry. BUT, everyone has to at least come to the table and sit with the family (just for meals, not snacks). This preserves the family meal time and also prevents hungry meltdowns after meals if they really are hungry but just say they aren’t because of being absorbed in playing. And I find that, even if they complain about coming to the table saying, “I’m not hungry!!!” they almost always eat once they’re there.

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However, if there is some sort of “treat” being served with or after a meal, they must eat a certain amount of their meal in order to be allowed to have dessert. For example, sometimes we have sweet potato chips or nuts (cashews, pecans, etc.) or fruit along with a meal. These things aren’t considered “dessert,” but I also try not to let my kids just fill up on these alone, so if we have these items at the table, they are required to eat a few bites of their meal, then have a bit of one of these side items, then a few more bites of meal, then some more side, etc.

These rules really work well for our family. We rarely have battles at meal times over how much or what they’re going to eat. We all gather together for dinner, which is important to me. My kids learn to listen to the signals from their bodies to control how much they eat. The girls know the rules, so if they try to do something different, we just recite the applicable rule and they generally comply. It’s part of our family routine.

 

Yesterday, some of these rules got tested a bit. We had meat and cheese for lunch (lunch meat and sliced cheese without bread is common here). Miss was complaining that she didn’t like this food (though she eats it happily often enough). She stated that she only wanted cheese to eat, which was fine. While the girls were eating, I finished putting groceries away. Miss saw some pecans and asked to have some. I told her she could have some, but she needed to eat her cheese and some meat first. She complained and complained. She said her cheese was “sour,” though again she had eaten some of the same cheese happily the day before. I told her, as I always do, that she didn’t have to eat her cheese if she didn’t want to, but she would not be allowed to have pecans if she didn’t. It was her choice. So she kept eating, and kept complaining. After a bit she said, “Okay, I ate it all.” I started to get the pecans for her, but noticed that she had not in fact eaten all of her cheese. She had eaten most of it, and then hidden what was left under some meat on her plate.

Oh man. Busted.

I told her that hiding her cheese under her meat and saying she was done was a lie. I told her she would not be getting pecans. I was pissed and I raised my voice, telling her that she is not to lie to me ever.

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Then I stopped and reminded myself that lying is a pretty normal thing for a kid her age. That she is still in the process of trying to figure out what lying really means (she often will say to her sister while playing, “no, you’re lying,” when Lass isn’t lying but simply says something Miss doesn’t like). I reminded myself that she already felt bad after I confronted her on her lie and told her that she would not be allowed to have pecans. I dropped the issue for a bit and we proceeded to get ready for nap time. I put Sis down for her nap, read books with Miss and Lass, and put Lass down for her nap.

Then Miss and I came back downstairs to have our special time (15 minutes of time set aside every day for us to do whatever she wants while her sisters nap). Before we started, I pulled her up on my lap and told her I wanted to talk to her. I told her that when she intentionally says something that is not true that means she is telling a lie. I told her that sometimes telling a lie might get her what she wants, if she doesn’t get caught, but that it’s never worth it. I told her that lying hurts relationships and makes people not trust her. I told her I was sorry for yelling at her. I told her that I felt angry and hurt and disappointed when she lied to me. I told her that I will always, always love her no matter what, but that if she lies to me, I will not trust her. She listened to all of this very intently and nodded her head. Then she gave me a hug and we moved on to our special time. I think this was a good learning experience for both of us.

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And speaking of learning experiences, tomorrow we are going to church as a family.

Gulp.

Is it weird that I’m super nervous about this?

I can’t really pinpoint why. I’ve been in church many times over the past several years, though all of those times have been for a wedding or funeral. Maybe it’s because the last time I went to a church just for the purpose of going to church, no one talked to me, not even a “hello” or a smile, which made it feel very weird and unwelcoming. Maybe it’s because going to church will lead my kids to ask questions that I’m not sure I’ll know how to answer. Maybe it’s because going to church will push me further to work on answering my own questions.

It’s probably a little bit of all of these things. I’ve never been one to shy away from pushing myself though. And I’ve made the decision, with a little help from my husband and some other thoughtful people, that I want my girls to be exposed to the experience of religion and worship and faith and all that. I have some to the realization that I’m grateful for having had that experience to some degree myself as a kid. Because even though I moved away from it for many years, when I needed to draw on that history, I was able to do so. I was able to say a prayer and find some comfort in that. I want my girls to have that foundation, whether they maintain faith and/or religion throughout their lives or not.

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And if I had had any doubts left, the other day Miss heard me singing “Amazing Grace” and asked me about the “house” where we had heard that song before. I didn’t know what she was talking about and kept asking her “what house?” while trying to figure out what she meant. She said something about the “big house” where she and her sister had been coloring while people were singing. Then I realized she meant church. She was talking about my husband’s grandmother’s funeral. I think she just confused “Amazing Grace” with either the “Hallelujah” song or “Ave Maria,” both of which were sung at that funeral (though I don’t think “Amazing Grace” was).

Anyway, after I realized what she meant and we clarified that she was talking about church, she said, “Can we go there again someday, Mama?”

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Yes. Yes we can.

Taking that leap of faith tomorrow.