wear the necklace, mama

S. saw me getting dressed for a casual, impromptu BBQ at our neighbor’s house.  I had thrown on a jersey dress and was just looking for a simple necklace when she said, “wear this one, mama!” I turned around and it was a chunky, beaded one she had made me from one of her kid jewelry sets over a year ago.

“No, I don’t think today is a good day for that one,” I said. “I don’t think the colors match.” But what I was really thinking was “I only pretend to wear that when I’m home all day, I’ve actually never worn it OUT.”

“But look, this bead is the same color as your dress,” she said. And before she could say anything else, my brain suddenly came to the realization that I was being silly. And selfish. Why WOULDN’T I wear something my then 4 year old had made, and proudly? Her little hands had put that together. And given it to ME instead of breaking it back apart or putting it back in her room. And I was being an idiot giving up the opportunity to wear it for my own joy AND hers.

So I wore it. And I rocked it. And, to be honest – it looked great with my simple dress (not that it mattered). If it had been a necklace of cheerios, I would have worn it.

So wear the necklace or bracelet or hat, mama. And wear it proudly. I did, and the smile it brought to my daughter’s face and the little glances she threw my way that evening when she would look at it were nothing short of amazing.

to prevent or not prevent the summer learning slide

My daughter is in between kindergarten and first grade this summer. I’ve heard a LOT about the backward “slide” that takes place in the summer with kids – and was told if I can keep up on things like reading and math these few months, she would have an easier time come September.

I didn’t want to put my daughter in camps where they would focus on academics. I mean she’s still FIVE (turns 6 at the end of August) and I know from personal experience her school years are only going to get more demanding, her pressures will only mount more, as she gets older. So we put her in a fun summer camp 2 days a week (9-3.30) where they do field trips and art projects and play outside. And the rest of the time she is home, going to our local barns, parks and just playing in the backyard.

But, I do have her do a few worksheets a day. Like 3. Sometimes it takes 5 minutes, sometimes 20, which I don’t think is unreasonable. But she still thinks it’s mean. 🙂

That’s okay honey. I know it may seem mean…but I think you won’t know how grateful you’ll be come the fall!

summer cousins

We took our annual trip to the west side of the state last week with some extended family. And although traveling with young kids isn’t a piece of cake, I was AMAZED at how it gets a tiny, tiny bit easier each year.

For one, the girls (both turning 6 later this year) got along much better. There were less statements of “I don’t want to be her cousin anymore” and more imaginative play than I’ve ever seen. I mean even moments where we didn’t know where they were in our rental because they were off in some corner pretending to by spies.

And the little one – although C refused to sleep in the pack ‘n play and we ended up co-sleeping with him for naps and bedtime, did great. It did mean I had to lay with him each time and then sneak out of the room, but it worked!

So it was an amazing week. Filled with what I hope will be great memories for the kids – sprinklers and beaches and water balloons and ice cream and walks to the park, all with cousins. I have such fond memories of growing up with my cousins, I’m trying to give my children the same opportunity to create meaningful bonds with their extended family as well.

A successful trip!

15 minutes with my little

It’s amazing what a little 1:1 time can do when you have two kids.

I picked S up from summer camp yesterday afternoon and we decided to stop by Starbucks. Me for my usual iced latte, and she got her usual kids hot cocoa.

But we got to sit there… together…and talk about our day. She told me all about the animal visitors at camp that day, who she played with, when she got sad, and the happiest part of her time there. If we had gone straight home, out little 2 1/2 year old often monopolizes mom and dad’s time.

Reminder to me to spend more time with my kids separately every once in a while!

kindergarten progress

I am amazed at how much my daughter has learned and grown in Kindergarten. Her last day was Thursday, and she came off the bus a combination of smiles and a little sadness behind her eyes that I’m pretty sure only I could see.

“Are you happy you’re all done with school?” I asked her. “Yeah,” she said. “But I didn’t want to leave the classroom. Or the school. Or the bus. Or my friends.” I knew what she felt; I distinctly remember kissing the wall of my kindergarten classroom when nobody was looking because I was really, really going to miss it, and even at 5, I knew it.

But I assured her that the summer would be just as fun. And so would her Wednesdays and Fridays at summer camp. And then First Grade! She would be a first grader come fall.

Her teacher sent home all the binders and workbooks they had been using throughout the year.  I had seen some of them because I was a frequent helper in the classroom. But there was one that especially caught my eye – it was a monthly writing sample.  I could not believe how she went from barely legible scribbles to complete sentences with detail in pictures. And how a teacher of 24 wiggly little 5 and 6 year olds can successfully teach so much to all these kids.

I’m so grateful for all S has learned….it brought tears to my eyes looking through her little “science notebook” and leadership binder.  In a way so much is expected of our kindergarteners now – but I think she did okay!

hold your friends close, dear daughter

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S came running off the bus the other day with half of a best friend necklace around her neck. “Mama, look! My friend gave me this. We’re best friends!” and the joy on her face lit me up as well. “She has the other half and we are going to be friends forever!”

I hope she and M are friends forever. But in reality, I know that kindergarten friendships sometimes fade.  Just like ones in grade school, middle school, high school, and even into adulthood. But I also know that she will find some friends that are just gems, like I did, and that they will be one of the most important parts of her life.

So dear daughter, I wish you an amazing lifetime of blossoming and joyous friendships. In the beginning, they will be the friends that you swing with, bike with, and play house with. Then those friendships will transition to those of confidants; you will giggle with secrets of boys and groan about homework together. Then you’ll enter another phase – one where your friends will carry you through heartache, significant life changes and disappointments. Some of those disappointments may be through broken friendships – but you will have friends to carry you through those as well.

And I hope you give your heart to your friends as well, and give them all the love they need through their own ups and downs. That, dear S, is an important part of a friendship – how you both support them and celebrate their joys alongside them.

Most of all, dear daughter – I wish you a circle of friends that wrap you in their love. That know from one look what you are thinking and feeling. And that can sense when you need a little something that only a good friend can provide. And I hope that you know what a treasure a good friend is. Hold them close to your heart and give them all the love you can in return.

problem solving

It’s amazing to me how these little brains think.  And, every once in a while, I learn a lesson from watching them.

I can’t even keep track of how many times I’ve said to my daughter “no honey I don’t think that will work” – when sure enough, it does.  Or even to my two year old son – “I don’t think that will fit in there” and sure enough it does. They have persistence. They keep trying.

As an adult, I often give up. If I’m tired, if it’s not worth pushing, if it causes conflict – I just decide it’s not worth it. And I guess that’s okay. My husband is better at this – he’s a pretty persistent guy. If we have a problem, he seeks out creative solutions and it’s boxed in by the normal confines of how something should be done.

Kids start problem solving early – and the first time they do it, we’re always like “wow that was smart of them!” I think we as adults can watch these little teachers and learn too. Sometimes there are creative ways to get to what we want.