Chub.

I could have also titled this post “The best laid plans.” Because, you see, I had this clever idea/hope that I was going to spend no money clothing Beatrice because I had saved all of Camilla’s best & cutest clothes. Thrifty mama, I thought, that’s what they’ll call me.

And then this little bit of chub came along and all those plans came to naught.

I’ve already busted out the 3-6 mo stash, and I can see that Camilla’s winter jacket is going to be too small long before the weather gets cold.

The happy chub.

Oh well. Who gets disappointed about shopping for a baby, even if it’s at the Goodwill?

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Week 10.

For the first time since Bea was born I forgot that Wednesday was, well, Wednesday and that I needed to take a photo. Oops. So these are from yesterday.

Week 10.

In my defense, this has been a really busy week. Husband starts teaching again today and next Monday we begin our real fall schedule.

To be honest, I’m really looking forward to it. It’s been nice for him to have these shorter teacher prep days, but pick up and drop off are almost inevitably during someone’s naptime and that has led to a lot of crabbiness in the car.

Plus, my confidence (possibly foolish, admittedly) that I can handle the girls all day has gone way up and now I want to Just Do It.

I’m also looking forward to a certain moms’ group starting up again and to hanging out more with friends in general. I kind of feel as though we hibernated all summer and need to come out now. Things are sort of backwards in Florida because the summer heat makes you want to stay in and the winter coolness is the best time for going out. Oh, and we had a new baby this summer.

Thanks for all your helpful comments regarding my last post. Lots of good ideas! I haven’t started anything new yet because a brief foray into the fabric closet led to the discovery of a broken shelf, which led to the need to move my serger, which led to the need to move a bunch of other stuff around, which led to the need to reorganize the linens…you get the idea. Not to mention the discovery a few days ago that Beatrice has outgrown a bunch of clothes and that I needed to go through my newborn – 6 mo clothes storage bin. But hopefully I am now on top of the closet/storage situation now and can sit down during that rare, golden moment when they both — sometimes — nap at the same time.

Ahhh. Wish me luck and that it will happen again today!

(Want to see all the weekly photos together? Look here.)

Some thoughts on thinking.

It’s not very often that I use this blog to write a big long post about What I Think. This is partly because I don’t have a lot of time, partly because I’m lazy and don’t want to take the trouble, partly because I’m afraid I’m wrong and wiser people will laugh at me, and partly because I know that various students and school folk read this blog and I worry  that it wouldn’t be prudent for everyone to know their teacher’s wife’s thoughts.

Lately, however, I have been feeling as though I need to make myself think more in general, and about better things. When you spend most of your time dealing with very young humans, it can be easy to slide by on the bare minimum and have a thought life mostly concerned with food, cleaning, shopping, and Duplos. (And some days are just going to be like that, no matter how elevated you want to be.) The problem is, this doesn’t make very good grounds for conversation with a husband who reads all sorts of good and challenging books and has a very interesting thought life. Or with your friends and family, for that matter. When someone asks, “Did anything exciting happen to you today?” it’s disappointing to find that the culmination of your precious free time was catching up on the blogs of people you don’t know and finding a cute striped backpack for $24.

The problem isn’t that I don’t read anything, it’s that what I read is almost exclusively on the internet. I used to be a big craft & design blog follower, partly because it gave me what I thought were good ideas and partly because it was fun to be on top of the trends for once. Ever since I was in high school and first became aware that I had no idea what clothes were cool or what music was new, I have wanted to be on top of something. However, I found that in the end these blogs just ate up a lot of my time without really affecting my life. Knowing what great choices are currently available in $2000 sofas is really pretty useless in day-to-day living on a teacher’s budget. I also realized that a steady stream of enviable photos of other people’s houses did, in fact, make me envy and that I just needed to cut back. So I did. But over time, a few more stops got added to my daily internet route. I still follow 2 or 3 design blogs and have added a few more lifestyle bloggers whose writing and taste I enjoy. Oh, and then I added in some baby sales websites that have tempted me more than once to make purchases a bit out of my budget. And facebook. And then there’s Pinterest, which is simultaneously an awesome place to keep visual bookmarks and a massive black hole that wants to suck up all your free time.

When I add it all up, the sum of time I spend on the internet while nursing the babe can be regrettably high and not really very satisfying. Sometimes I’m looking for ideas for a specific project and looking leads to doing, but more often then not I’m just looking and wanting and those words and images end up going nowhere. It’s like flipping through Vogue all the time when you know that you can’t afford a single thing advertised. So then, why do it? I like to think that “getting inspiration” justifies a lot of internet gawking, but if I’m not actually inspired to do anything, what difference has it made?

Now that I have a bonafide toddler, I realize that I forgot how much kids love candy. Camilla loooooves sweets. And if sweets are present in the vicinity of dinner, the grilled chicken and vegetables just don’t look appetizing anymore. Pretty much every time I want to correct Camilla for some shortcoming in her little life, I realize that I have a grownup version that I don’t want to extinguish. Do you want to eat jelly beans instead of green beans? Well, mama would like to read a blog instead of beginning St. Augustine’s Confessions. Do you want that Hello Kitty backpack at Target? Mama’s not going to get it for you, but she will make you sit patiently in the cart while she peruses the clothing & shoes. The other day I read a friend’s facebook update about how upset she is with her children’s obsession with toys. We’re not quite to that stage yet, but I’m sure we will be in a year or two and I realized that if I am going to ask Camilla to temper her materialism and desire for more, I had better not be spending all my free time looking for new shirts.

Anyhow, all of these thoughts and observations have combined into the realization that I need new reading material. Husband puts it quite succinctly: “Read more old books.” Since I enjoy having my hands free to do a small project at the same time, I think I might also try good podcasts (I love Ancient Faith Radio and need to get back in touch with This American Life) and there are quite a few free audiobooks available online. I listened to Frankenstein that way last year when husband was teaching it in class and really enjoyed it. Got a lot of knitting done, too.

So my new, small, practical goal (i.e. the best kind of goal in my life right now) is to check email and facebook everyday but only look at blogs two or three times a week. And when I’m coasting around the internet, it needs to be because I’m looking for something in particular (i.e. kimono onesies for an ever-growing babe) and I need to do my best not to go down those time-sucking rabbit trails.

Any suggestions for good quality reading or listening material that you want to send my way?

Week 9.

Wow, has this been a busy week. And the weekend shows no sign of slowing down.

Week 9.

It is taking me a while to learn how to Go Places and Get Stuff Done with two kids. This is not helped by the fact that Bea just hates her carseat. I mean, really hates it. Every once in a while we luck out and she looks around silently or zonks out. But usually, every errand / dropoff is set to the tune of a particularly shrill baby wail. I used to think that her cry was so much sweeter than Camilla’s, but it has taken on a new level of screechiness recently that is pretty unpleasant.

Who, me? The fat and happy?

So that’s made things a little more difficult lately. I am just praying that this is a stage that she quickly outgrows.

Big Sister has been active but chipper, as long as she takes long naps. Which I have no control over. So some days we just luck out and other days we don’t.

I will note that I had no idea that a two year old could be so comical. Sometimes it’s accidental (“plip-plops”) and sometimes it’s on purpose (tickling sister’s feet), but all the time it keeps me laughing.

Want to see something fun? Compare this photo:

To this one:

Sisters.

And it’s only been eight weeks since then! I guess we’ll have to stop calling her “Little Bea” sometime soon.

Have a good weekend!

(Want to see all the weekly photos together? Look here.)

My painter.

I let Camilla paint for the very first time last week as part of our now-daily Craft Time.

Painting for the first time.

I had been looking forward to this day for a while and it did not disappoint. She loved it.

Pleased.

I looked around the internet for a little while, trying to find tips for painting with toddlers. But in the end, I just went with my gut and what I had on hand: a nice sturdy brush, some real watercolor paper, and three colors of nice gouache that I mixed with water. (Purple is her favorite, so of course there had to be purple.)

I thought the single color cups would be less distracting to work with than a whole palette of colors, although I did buy one of the classic Crayola watercolor palettes on Saturday and we have used it as well.

The thing that made me so happy about her first paining is that she very naturally started using the brush to make good lines. Now, I thought for a few minutes about being a touch-feely-exploratory art mom but rejected the idea pretty quickly because I don’t want Camilla wrecking the nice tools that I’m letting her use. I don’t mind if she does some finger dipping or paint pouring at the end of the session, but I think I’m doing her a disservice if I don’t teach her as much painting technique as she can handle at this age. For her, that pretty much means (a) only painting on the paper, (b) not scrubbing the brush around and wrecking the bristles, (c) not splashing water everywhere with the cups, and (d) trying not to dip the brush in every single color when using the paint palette. If she can do those things, I am perfectly willing to buy her decent paper and let her use some nice brushes. (If you are letting your child paint for the first time, please please don’t use those horrid floppy little brushes that come with a paint set. Buy a nice fat brush with bristles that come to a good point and which actually holds some paint. I don’t know why kids are supposed to be able to learn to use watercolor with those terrible brushes.)

So far, scrubbing the paper with the brush (which I refer to as “scribbling”) has been the biggest temptation. But she didn’t discover that until her second painting.

For the first one, there was enough fun to be had just dipping the brush into the different colors.

She had this pleased / intensely concentrated look on her face the whole time.

At the very end, I light her pour all the colors into one cup to see what happened. I don’t think she cared much about the color change, but she is obsessed with pouring things right now. Her favorite game of all time is to stand at the kitchen sink with a collection of cups and a trickle of water and some watered down soap. It is referred to as “hands” (because it usually happens after we wash her hands) and she requests it about twenty times a day. Anything involving paint in cups inevitably gets poured into one container, so the paint palette is a nice alternative.

First painting.

I know I’m the proud mom, but really…isn’t this a very nice first painting? I think it has a very pleasant abstract quality. I gave very little direction, other than asking her to try the green instead of the purple and giving her a new sheet of paper when I thought this was done enough. (Remember: less is more when it comes to children’s paintings!)

Second painting.

This is the second painting. It’s a little lighter because she decided to start dipping the brush in the paint and then the water. Also, you can see exactly when she discovered how fun scribbling is. To counteract that, I now specifically suggest that she make either lines or dots, the two kinds of brush strokes in her repertoire.

We’re painting again today, and I hope to get to the store this week to stock the little bit of space I’ve carved out of a kitchen cupboard for Craft Time. I want playdough, a big set of crayons, some tempera paint, and a lot more paper (I just noticed that Joann’s sells long rolls — that might be nice). Eventually we’ll probably try to make playdough and all that, but given that we’re working around an 8 week old baby and her uncertain nap schedule I’m cutting myself some slack.

More masterpieces to come.

Week 8.

Well, we’ve made it through most of Day Two and everybody still seems to be doing okay. My back is pretty tired, though. I really need some muscles somewhere to man up and get stronger instead of just complaining. This baby isn’t getting any lighter, so the only good alternative is to start getting stronger, right? I wonder how long that takes. I want to have arms of steel like my friend Allie, whose firstborn weighs a lot more than Camilla and who has awesome biceps to show for it.

Week 8.

This is my favorite photo from this week. I know I said I’d stop complaining, but the wrinkly fabric is driving me nuts. Anybody have a good, quick suggestion for how to fix it? This time I wrapped one side of the fabric under the rug and put the ottoman on the other and it still got those little ripples everywhere.

I’m also going to sob quietly (again) for my poor departed computer and its Photoshop capabilities. I just cannot get the white balance to be the same each week and some days there are these really strong shadows that I don’t like. And I can do absolutely nothing about it.

For some reason, Camilla wasn’t in the mood to play “next to” today. So this is all I got.

Well, some weeks are just like that I guess.

I have a few posts on the backburner that I just haven’t had time to write. One is about the ring sling I sewed, which has turned out to be awesome. It might be part of the cause of my sore back, unfortunately, but it is so great that I will keep using it anyway. I really really needed a way to nurse Bea while chasing Camilla around the apartment and this is it.

I’ve also been working on an exciting (to me!) new schedule for our family that has been especially helpful at keeping Camilla engaged and me from dreading long blocks of unstructured time. But we haven’t been doing it long enough to have much perspective, so I’ll wait a few weeks on that. I’ll just say for now that part of the schedule includes a daily Craft Time, which has been a big hit. Photos to come…

(Want to see all the weekly photos I’ve taken so far? See this post.)

Flying solo.

Well, it’s my first day at home alone with two kids. Given that I’m writing a blog post in the middle of the day, it’s obviously going well. A lot of that is due to the fact that our day started late (husband doesn’t need to be at work till 9 for the next two weeks) and that everybody has been cheerful and napping well. But hey, I’m just plain grateful. I have looked forward to this day for a while with mixed apprehension and anticipation and, well, it’s finally here. I am still slightly terrified of the fact that I am outnumbered and everyone could start crying at once (or that a certain someone could decide to be very naughty when I am nursing the baby and can’t do anything about it right away). But I have also been really been wanting to know that I can do this. With a lot of prayer and encouragement and occasional help from my friends, I can mother these two girls. At the same time. By myself. And put some food on the table, and keep the house in a relative state of cleanliness.

Whew.

I think I’m going to be tired tonight.