.:25:. PLAY, It’s simple.

 This morning I woke up with my girls and asked (as I do every morning), “what do you want to do today?”, and (as they do every morning), they excitedly responded by saying, “PLAY!!!”.

In the complex and constantly developing mind of a child, play is simple. It’s basic and requires minimal effort to ignite joy and fulfillment. Encouraging imagination isn’t complicated… with the use of tangible or intangible tools, PLAY is happening all the time in the mind of our kiddos and it becomes even more exciting, fulfilling and memorable when we also participate. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t “play” with my children every second of the day and they don’t want me to. They need to play with others and they definitely need to play alone. This is all part of their development.

However, too many parents get carried away by it all and (at times) I am one of them. They structure the day so tightly that they forget that play has to happen naturally. I reflected back on a day last week. Someone asked what we did and I blankly said “nothing”. I felt a bit unproductive, like a bad and lazy mom, and slightly embarrassed that we didn’t do anything on a beautiful day. But wait!!! We did so much more than nothing.

Danced and tumbled in the grass. We practiced somersaults and rolled down the hill, made angels in the grass and compared it to the snow that will come before we know it! We looked at the clouds while talking about the scratchy grass on our backs, and noticed the smell of summer in the air. Practiced whistling like the birds and counted the small planes departing from the local airport.

Read. They listened to my words attentively and made visual connections with the shapes of the letters and the imagery in the book. They recognized when I skipped a word, pointed out the yellow hat on the man, and counted all the fruit that very hungry caterpillar ate.

Pretended. We are at a fun stage. My girls love pretending. They acted out scenes from a favorite story, they made up their own story with an exciting “once upon a time” and a joyful “the end!”, they pretended to be the animals at the zoo, a doctor to their toys (fixing ‘owies’ and checking hearts) and they sweetly rocked and changed their babies like the little mommies they are.

^ This may seem like nothing, but to your child it’s exactly what they want and need!

Parents!!! Enough with the pressure. You don’t need to go places all the time. You don’t need to be so busy. You don’t need to have the best and biggest toys. Play does not require a plan. It’s doesn’t require a location, a certain day, and it definitely doesn’t require a reason! Play happens every single second of the day for children and it’s important that we recognize this with encouragement and support. I am not doing “nothing” when all of the above is accomplished in one morning. We are busy bonding, building brains and making memories.

With all of this in mind, I love going places with my children and I appreciate the importance of learning and exploring other places than home. But, what I’m also learning is to ignore the pressure and not feel so bad when we do stay home to PLAY. If you’re the type of person that needs to get out all the time, I commend you and I am sure you are making wonderful memories… but just know that when you stay home, you are still surrounded by many opportunities for your kids to PLAY, explore, learn and simply be happy.

Some days it’s just too much to expend all my morning energy into packing a car for two kids, quickly dressing pokey children, eating on the run, and skipping naps. It’s just not always worth it.

I encourage you, you reading this, you with the to-do list in your hand and the plan ready to be implemented. STOP for a moment and just let your littles PLAY at their own pace.

One day, they will leave the house and you will beg for them to come home as much as they can. Enjoy these days, these simple days of PLAY while it lasts… and go roll in the grass with them!


THAT is what PLAY is all about. Simple, beautiful, PLAY.

.:24:. To Err.

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:: when life gives you a lemon plant, have patience and watch those lemons grow!


During pregnancy or preparing for baby and the first years that follow, parents turn into walking talking teaching machines (and many years after). Trying to avoid error in parenting, perhaps? Unfortunately, error is inevitable.

| To err is human; to forgive is divine.” |                            – Alexander Pope

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Well, thank you Mr. Pope but forgiveness to oneself can be difficult and doesn’t feel very divine when I can’t seem to figure out my newborn’s needs, when I’m up all night with an uncomfortable child who can’t tell me what’s wrong, when a kiss on a boo boo is not the answer, when I first heard the words, “I don’t want you, mama.”

>Where did I go wrong? <<

What happened to my machine… that teaches “right” and “best”. How did I err and why does it not feel human?

This is so easy to think and so easy to point the finger at yourself. “Going wrong” is just not the route I thought I took. From the start I did what I was suppose to do.

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Per the suggestion of some psychologist somewhere I remember reading children’s books out loud while my little girls developed inside me. Even before that I quickly had my hands on parenting books – making sure my husband and I were well prepared to raise smart, curious and wonderful little people.

>This is where I went wrong.<<

Well, kind of. I’m not saying being prepared, educated and excited is wrong but…

I didn’t allow myself to just be. I found myself referencing every “how-to” book and following steps like a puppet. When I let certain things work themselves out and I relied on my gut for answers – those were the moments we I learned so much more. To watch in awe as their little brains developed. Physiological and emotional growth cannot be fully controlled by anyone else, but that being. It’s a beautiful thing that we (parents) think we have so much control over. We have a little more control at the beginning and then we pray (really hard), that are teachings help them decide what is “right” and “best” as they go from scooting to running a marathon right before out eyes. While they are figuring it all out… they will ERR and it will be ok – especially if we are there to tell them that it’s all ok because they are HUMAN.

We don’t get a report card to see how we’re doing with our children. We don’t get to meet with a coach who high fives us for our victories or benches us for our faults. What we get is this…

>without request, unprompted<< children who say “I wub you mama”. who look you in the eyes and say “thank you”… and then “you’re welcome” – because that’s how they hear it ☺️.  Who joyfully sing their ABCs and really everyother song you sing together. Who surprise you by counting past 10 one day (did I teach them that?) and curiously ask and tell me what color everything in the world is.

They are determined to complete tasks on their own, gently pushing me away… This is new to me. I’m proud but a tiny bit sad that my babies have hit the ‘no mama, I can do it’ stage. They are particular when it comes to colors and specific when we choose books. Decisions are complicated but powerful. When they make one, their excited eyes delight with joy and confidence… “I will brush my own teeth, mama!” “No mama, I will read the book.” “I don’t need to hold your hand, mama.” “I can do it ALL by myself.” This confidence amazes me. They can’t be trusted to do all the above by themselves just yet, but I can’t get in the way of letting them err.  We’ve all heard this and have probably said it before but, they need to fail before they succeed. The common conflict and result from failure is the fear to keep trying, the fear that failure may occur again. We can’t allow this fear in our children and at the same time, we can’t allow this fear in ourselves. We are HUMAN and we need to watch our little ones err, praise them for trying and encourage them to continue, while showing them that we also err and keep going.

As a parent, the most difficult part for me is knowing that they can keep going through failure in all aspects of life. That they can forgive themselves and others who may fail. I will not always be there to offer a helping hand or a wise word when someone shames them for failing, when someone discourages them or denies them the ability to succeed. But I can give them the best tools to embrace err, positively respond to negativity, succeed in their own way and be happy and confident little people.

Thank you Mr. Pope for shedding so much light on us humans – even before your fellow innovator, Mr. Edison, brought us an actual light.

Now, I must get on with my day… embracing err along the way.

 

.:19:. This thing called “bond”.

 

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Alaina (left) + Hannah (right): 20 months

April 10th marks National Sibling Day (according to someone, somewhere). I like to jump on bandwagons sometimes and celebrate random things. But this to me, this isn’t as random as one might think. I truly think this is something to be celebrated. The blessing of a sibling is amazing. We are born adoring our family, defending, protecting, and looking up to them. We soon find our own identity, we make our own choices and at some point we branch out and form our own life and family. But we never forget where we began. We may have our differences, strong views and perspectives in life, we may even lose touch or drift apart, but something holds us together – a memory, a story, a person… weak or strong, we always have a BOND.

I may be a dreamer, as I imagine my girls will remain best friends for the rest of their lives, thinking about how they’ll make the news… “90 Year Old Twins, Still Best Friends” (as they giggle over tea and hold hands).  Of course, my husband and I will be 120 living in a glorious place probably learning about such news via SKYpe (get it?). ah ha, ok (and I will not be a retired comedian).


Since day 1, I have been fascinated with this world of twins.  How special it is to raise two at once.  Chaotic and challenging in it’s own right, but this unique bond is simply amazing. I really wouldn’t trade this experience for anything. I am always surprised, taken aback and even a little offended (but I get over that quickly) when I get those looks of “good luck” or “no thank you”, as if raising twins would be the most horrible thing ever. I’ll tell you, it is not. Watching them grow up together is really the best thing ever.

{the beginning}
I recently found myself reflecting back on day 1, when my girls came into this world together, well… 2 min apart.

After a shocking welcome, followed by gasping screams of “I’m here!!!” my babies’ fears seemed to subside when they were near each other. When I first held them together, it was beautiful… and when they made eye contact, as blurry and non-identafiable as I’m sure it was, I could see their heart rates increase on the monitors. As a first time mom, with preemies, and in the Special Care Nursery, I was actually scared “what was happening?”, but I quickly understood.

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Eyes locked. hearts raced. hands touched. tiny coos emited from the mouths of two. two babes. sisters. twin sisters.

As I stared at two sets of tiny everything, my mind raced with wonder.

Do they know…

they lie beside a tiny shoulder they will someday cry on, another set of feet they will run and dance with, another mouth to chat and giggle with, hands to hold and hug each other with?

what fun they will have exploring this world together?

how much they love each other?

how much they’ve changed our lives?

{and the rest of their life}
I cannot predict their future, but I can pray that they remain beside each other. I pray they find comfort on each other’s shoulders when that time is needed.  I hope they can keep up with each other and wait for one another…even when one wants to go fast and the other wants to slow down. I hope they can speak the truth and advise each other while holding back words of regret. I pray they can support each other as they sometimes “learn the hard way” and as they make those big life decisions (college, career, love, family). Through thick and thin, good and bad.  Sisters, siblings, what a wonderful bond.

Watching my two innocent sweet baby girls grow right before my eyes, is more than a blessing, it’s an honor to be their “mama”.  I am determined to guide them together, teach them to love each other and always have each other’s backs. Partners in crime (to be expected), both of my social gals are beautifully unique; outgoing, silly, wispy strawberry blonde (Alaina) and timid, serious, clever, brunette (Hannah). It is so awesome to watch them teach and learn from each other as they explore the world in their own way. They had one another before I even knew them and I pray this amazing and unique bond will only strengthen throughout the years.

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tummy time + learning to sit is pretty fun with a partner.

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“I wub sissy” is a favorite phrase.

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Now, at almost 2 years old, I watch my once preemie girls learn to comfort and defend each other. With caution and delight I witness their precarious wobbly run as they excitedly chase one another. I can’t help but belly laugh along with them as they roll around on the floor or dance their little hearts out – clapping, screaming and stomping their feet ~ I’ve never seen such passionate little dancers. Waking up to their chit chat/giggle sessions is simply wonderful. And the hugging… Well, it may result in a tackle on the floor but it’s all good intentions!


This thing called BOND… I think they’re getting it.

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::Happy National Sibling Day::

.:13:. {quickly} rockin’ around the Christmas tree.

This is our first Christmas with two little ones that can run, scream, grab, yank, kick, pull and probably anything else someone with a black belt can do. Toddlers + a Christmas tree do not mesh well.  Or at least that’s what I’ve been told. So, we decorated our tree very quickly and caged it up.

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Hannah (left), Alaina (right), Vulnerable Christmas tree (caged)

The entire process took an hour and it included a lot of “no no no”, crying, screaming, falling, tree grabbing, ornament breaking, a lot of coffee drinking by me+the hubby, not the babes – at least I don’t think they had any… or did they?  That would explain everything! …or they’re just toddlers. So, going back to the hour that it took.  I must be clear, this was record time for us.  Much longer and we would have a very unhappy tree, prostrate on the ground and the screaming decibels from our tiny shriekers would most likely increase tenfold.

We actually went back and forth between getting a tree or not.  Is is really worth it?  Will they even care? How are we even suppose to decorate with them running around? Where do we put it in our small home with a toy invasion problem? Well, as you can see we opted for the addition of a tree amongst the toys (toys not pictured as they are perfectly scattered just outside of the perimeter of the photo to your left).

With our coffee buzz and overtired brains, we thought – why not capture this “decorate with toddlers” experience somehow?!  A time lapse of us doing just that turned out to be pretty funny and honestly, exactly how it felt.  Rushed, busy and kind of crazy ~ Not just our life, but I’m sure how most people feel around the holidays. We are always rushing, greedy, needy, stressed out, thinking about what we want and where to buy that perfect gift, waiting impatiently in lines for “the best deals of the year”, and sometimes forgetting the meaning of Christmas.

Well, in the hustle and bustle of the season and the event that took place between our kitchen and our living room, we managed to enjoy. And I am happy to report that our tiny vulnerable tree (free from small fierce hands) is nicely snuggled in the middle of gifts and protected by our play yard. >>This is what these circular gates are for!!<< So far so good.  We've had it up for almost a week now and it remains intact, with very minimal needles on the ground, happy as a fir tree can be.  I retract my statement/question from above… "Will they even care?".  I've decided that our girls do care.  They see the tree lit in the dark at night and every morning and still act as if they've seen it for the first time. Big eyed girls, in awe, so giggly and happy to be in it's presence. Sounds like my two tots probably grasp the meaning of Christmas more than most of us.

From our family to yours, Enjoy!

 

 

.:12:. caught in the storm.

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High, screeching winds. Hard and heavy hail. Unforgiving rain, changing direction every 30 seconds. Uncovered, unprotected, undeserving but the most necessary place to be.

This is how I describe my day with two snotty nosed babes, overflowing with tears and cries to be held, lack of sleep and hungry yet demanding nothing but to be cuddled.

I found myself in the middle of our house, on the floor in the midst of a storm made up of toys/clothes/food/kleenex, trying to tame two wild animals that really needed me but only fought over me. Clawing and climbing me, as if it were a competition to reach the top of Everest. My back aching, stomach muscles clenched while holding my two unhinged maniacs, trying my hardest to stay calm and relaxed (ha). My face in the line of fire – tiny hands poking at me like sharp tree limbs, slimy little faces rubbing against mine, thrashing elbows and headbutts. Contemplating a forfeit by laying down, hiding under a blanket and letting them go at it. A million serious questions and concerns running through my head, like “where are my ear muffs? why didn’t I put my hair up? how do I calm them down? how do I get up?…”

They look at me with desperate eyes and pouty lips, certain that I am the cure. Waiting for some sort of magic pixie dust (that only moms have), to make it all better.

For us, on this day it’s just the common cold (really, nothing more). I can’t imagine worse and my heart is heavy for those who are dealing with so much more that include hospital visits, bills above their heads, uncertain of the next day. From a minor scratch to long term illness, we do everything we can to be the cure for our little ones. Unknown to the outcome, we do our best to stay strong. We battle the storm with bravery, sprinkle our pixie dust, hug and kiss their discomfort and pain away until we are fresh out of x’s and o’s (which we never are).

xoxo…

.:11:. an ode to the pin.

I love Pinterest and if you were to look at my page http://www.pinterest.com/sclochie/, you’d agree and you might think, ‘wow, this gal is so creative, fashionable, has great taste in food, super organized’.  Oh how I love that it can appear so!  I have to admit, I’ve done/accomplished a fraction of a fraction of what I’ve actually posted… I’m sure this is the case for most.  And yes, I know… “pinning” isn’t proof or validation of my creativity, but it does something to the creative soul. It has now become an inspiration for me to actually be creative, fashionable (to a very tiny degree), slightly food savvy, and organized (when I make the time).  I get this strange buzz of excitement when I “pin” and think “oh, I can’t wait to do this and that”…  But realistically most of what I pin is just a tiny piece of hope that I will do one of the 2,000 + pins.  I’d love to know how other mom’s out there find motivation to do all the great freezer meals, craft beautiful and cheap artwork, reorganize their entire house to look like it should be on the pages of Martha Stewart Living.  Please tell me!

With my girls, I think about the future a lot.  Sometimes too much.  My husband reminds me that I need to just enjoy the moment more – they are only little for so long.  He is right.  But still I find myself daydreaming about tea parties, coloring books full of scribbles, barbies on the floor, princess gowns in the closet, broken-in and “loved” books, bins full of construction paper and stickers on the wall…  It’s so lovely to think about.  But I am enjoying every moment of snuggle I can get with my 17 and 20 pound peanuts.  I blame Pinterest for inspiring my daydreams.  I have a folder labeled ‘for the kiddos’, containing not only things for my 16 month olds, but ‘best books for beginner readers’, ‘how to communicate with teenagers’, and so much more that is really not necessary at this stage of motherhood. So, I’m obviously relying on Pinterest to be around for many more years.

I believe that some day I’ll be able to accomplish maybe a little more of a fraction of a fraction of the clever, crafty, delicious and orderly ideas that sit, collecting virtual dust.  Until then, I will keep pinning – holding onto hope that I will have that kind of time someday… Until then, I will be patient and live in the now.  Ok, I may still sneak off into a crafty little daydream to add more ideas to my “boards”, which I’m sure would have collapsed months ago if these were tangible ideas hanging from my old dinky cork board that I recently “freshened up” with new paint (thank you pinterest)!

“Be gentle with yourself, you’re doing the best you can”. -Unknown, via Pinterest

baby hats made from old sweaters.
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.:10:. “mama”: an identity crisis

imageWaking up to my babies is something I am still getting used to. Arggh, I would love just 5 more min of deep sleep. Then I listen to them in awe as they babble and talk to each other. More sleep is not going to happen, maybe if I just put the cover over my face. Then I hear that word, “mama, mama, mama?”  Do they even know what it means?  They use it an awful lot.  I’m not complaining.  I’ve definitely had those “oh she’s saying my name” or “oh she wants me” precious moments.  But, they seem to use it for everything and I’m really starting to wonder what it actually means to them?

I change them, yes.  I feed them, yes. I play with them, yes. I comfort them, yes. I teach them, yes. I guide them, encourage them, help them, yes. I watch their every move, yes – – – well, when I’m not going to the bathroom or doing things moms do when babies sleep… like watch them on the monitor (ha) – or eat/sleep/drink coffee/shower/clean/food prep/relax (kind of).

Who was I before children and who is this person that has taken over my body and changed all the rules on me? My social skills are now limited to words that end in y. Dolly, baby, puppy, yummy, yucky, ouchy, silly… or phrases that contain the word little. “Let’s read this little book”, “how’s my little munchkin?”, “is that a little ducky?”, “how much is this little shirt, ma’am?”.  Honestly, I don’t even think about it, it just falls out of my mouth. However, I’m now realizing that I need to be careful around my tiny mimes, or they will end up sounding like their “little mommy”!

It is cute though. Hearing any words come out of your child’s mouth is cute. Isn’t it? So cute, it’s worth a series of videos with invisible parents loudly whispering “that new word” in the background while actually only capturing sweet shy smiles and giggles, until take ten when they whisper the word back and you realize much later you can barely hear them.

But lately, “mama, mama, mama…” has caused me to raise some questions that I may never know the answers to. Are they asking for me? Telling me something? Requesting my attention? Expressing to the world that they know me?! Or is it just a word that equals EVERYTHING.  I’ve never felt so wanted.  Yet, I’m noticing it’s more than that.  MAMA has become more than a name.  It’s a desire, a demand, an expression of excitement and an exclamation of anger.  It’s the words to a song or a story.  It’s whatever they want it to be and I go with it!

Oh, I gotta run. I have two girls yelling “mama” over and over again… or maybe they’re just chatting about me.  Cute, how sweet of them!!

…don’t get me started on “dada”. 😉