Flashback: Oxford

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Why do I always do this to myself? Wait until forever to get trip pictures up? Until I can't remember the background of each place and just have to resort to a big ol' boring photodump.

Bah. But, I told myself I'd get these pictures up, and slowly but surely I am. I've got family members asking for them, and I just need to get them on here. So, I apologize. I've already gone on and on about how much I love England, and Oxford just took our breath away. (I love you, London! Don't be jealous!)

The building on the right had bicycles chained all around it. We saw a notice saying that they all had to be removed by a certain date because a "period piece" was to be filmed there. In my my heart, I just knew it was Downton Abbey. Okay...maybe I was just realllly wishing I'd run into Maggie Smith. So. Bad.

C was particularly excited about this place. He was like a kid in a candy store at the Oxford University Press shop. Maybe someday he'll see a book of his there? Right?!

Kids, It's Okay to be Sad.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

"Don't be cranky! Don't be cranky! Don't be cranky!" I heard S yelling at her brother. 

She continued by saying/yelling/demanding, "Be happy, Pato! Be happy, be happy, be HAPPPY!"

Normally, I'd agree with those sentiments. Heaven knows at the end of the day, I just want my kids to feel happy. And I have to admit....when they're happy, things go much more smoothly around here.

But, what kind of parent would I be if I expected my children to be happy ALL the time? I'll tell ya, a very unrealistic one.

Before she goes to bed, S has taken to talking about how she's "sad about (insert any possible thing in here)" to stall for another minute. Sometimes she'll be sad about the moon. Sometimes she'll be sad about her blanket. Sometimes she'll be sad that we just don't think it would be a fun idea to sleep next to her on her floor.

Normally, I find myself telling her why she shouldn't be sad, or try to find a way to immediately fix the problem.

"Don't be sad, Dada will be home soon!"
"If I give you a treat, will that make you not sad anymore?"

I don't plan on discontinuing this altogether (because I think trying to find the positive in things and finding solutions are both very very good things to do), but I do want to try to sometimes let my children be sad. 

What I've been working on lately is telling S that sometimes, it's okay to be be a little sad. It's normal. Some people struggle daily with debilitating sadness. We all could use a little more support and a little more kindness in our lives.

I want to teach my children that life isn't always just about being happy. It's about being happy...and sad. It's about being excited, and also disappointed. They will have moments of joy and moments of heartbreak. I want to stop giving them the message that being sad is not okay or is not tolerated. Instead of putting "bandaids" on things, I want to be able to just sit and hold them when they need it. Talk about why they're sad.

Cause you know what? Sharing toys can be hard! And, no one likes being told it's time to leave when you're having so much fun with friends. Things are sad!

And sometimes you have a leak in your ceiling, no AC in the middle of the Virginia summer, the kids wake up with colds, and your dang garage door won't open as you're trying to leave the house to get to an air conditioned place! All in the same 24-hour timespan. Bah! That would drive anyone to tears! (Or maybe just me?)

And other times you lose someone you love.  Or someone lets you down. Or people get sick. don't know why you're sad, except that you just are.

I want my children to feel on top of the world, but I also hope they will also have moments that will humble them to their knees. Because so much growth comes from opposite ends of the spectrum.

So, what's the main point here?

The main point is this. The world and the people in it have so much value. It is a breathtakingly beautiful place that is full of joy, but also full of mourners. I want my children to truly be able to mourn with those who mourn, and comfort those who stand in need of comfort.

And I pray that others will be there for them, too. 

The art of storytelling.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

This girl. She's turning into a storyteller. She gets this from both sides of her family.

Although, the actual storytelling-gene somehow skipped me. I can't for the life of me tell a good story. How many details do I add? What should I skip over? And how the heck do I end story? I'm so awkward. These are hard hard things, people. Do not even ask me to tell you what a movie is about. I'd somehow make Harry Potter sound like Jurassic Park. Trust me. 

Anyway. She comes from a long line of storytellers. I have memories of being around her age, and hearing my abuelita stay up late into the night telling stories of her childhood to my aunts. How she would climb trees to spy on her neighbors. And how she'd braid her hair and wear her one flowery dress and sing in the street in front of her home. 

I love my abuelita, but the world's best singer....she is not. Being bad singers also runs through my veins. Sorry, kids. 

When we lived in Utah, my very favorite thing to do was have Sunday dinners at our Granny's house. I loved hearing all her stories. She would tell stories about the places she'd been to (she'd always say that Papa "...showed her the world.") I'd hear about how her mother used to make what she would call "Depression jelly" because they would use all parts of the apple to make it. I'll never forget the way her eyes light up and the way she laughs when she's telling a good story. And I promise....they're allll good. 

Just because I can't tell a good story doesn't mean I don't appreciate one. And these are the things I want to pass down to our children. The stories that are told to us, and hopefully, someday my kids will be able to appreciate my attempt at storytelling on here. 

Lately, S mostly talks to herself and tells stories along the way. I love listening in as she talks about going to the beach or about making new friends or going on a new "benture." (adventure) Just today I heard her playing in the sunroom and pretending that her shovel and rake were her "cousins." (My goodness, sometimes I really really wish we lived closer to family...) 

So, my girl, keep telling your stories. I'm excited to hear them all. 

A plea

Hey, Pato. 

You know that whole 5:30 am wake-up thing you do?

Can you not?



P.s You're cute. 

Farmer's Market

Monday, August 4, 2014

It's official. We've ruined our kids. Saturdays are now for farmers markets and cupcakes and stealing some of mama and dada's Popsicles. Oh, and sheep and horses because, boy, those never seem to get old. If you ask S, her favorite flavor is "rojo." And be aware if you're sharing with her because she translates, "Just take a little lick," as "Go ahead and take a big honkin' bite." 

So, in this picture, S is doing one of her favorite things. Every week, we go to this stand and try the different flavors of chèvre cheese and take a tub home. The man who makes and sells the cheese is a pretty quiet sorta awkward man. (Makes great cheese...but pretty sure I won't find him at a party any time soon. Then again, I don't think i'll be finding myself at many parties anytime soon, either.) Anyway, he never talks much to us, but this last week he totally smiled when S ran up, and I think mayyybbe we've started to grow on him?? Maybe?! That's us. We keep badgering ya till you like us.

And let's end on a cute note, shall we...

Dream. Boat.

Just. Can't. Do. It.

So, something happened this morning. 

For a good HOUR, these two didn't fight or whine ONCE! Unheard of, I say! 

We are in the middle of an "out with the old/in with the new" phase at our place as my parents have given us some of their things that they can't take to Hong Kong. (Oh, how I wish couches were included...someday someday.) 

I came across a set of clear decorative beads last night, and I thought they'd be great for practicing sorting and making patterns. I handed the beads to the kids this morning with a little cup for each. Wow. You would have thought I had given them the world's most amazing toy! They spent a good chunk of the morning playing quietly with each other, and S likes to teach her little brother to count. 

So, what I could I just not do?

Anything. I had plans to go out with the kids and my mom and do something fun. My kids go stir crazy if we spend too much time indoors, so very rarely do we ever spend an entire morning at home. 

But, today, they were playing so nicely and being so sweet I couldn't bare to interrupt them. As I was getting ready for the day, I could hear them playing and laughing. S would narrate, and apparently they went to the farmers market to get cupcakes, and then visited the horses and the sheep. And now, they're off in the sunroom apparently having a picnic. 

These days of them just being little are too short, and sometimes, to-do lists just need to be tossed out the window. 

Selfie series: a thing with feet

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Feet are a common subject in her photographs. Don't blame her. They're cute feet. I'd kiss 'em. 

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