Wonder Woman’s Identity

What’s that you say?  You didn’t know my secret identity?

Today:

  • 5 piano lessons
  • 1 batch of cookies
  • 1 batch of bread
  • 3 meals
  • 3 snacks
  • 5 “bear hunts”
  • 1 doll hair-do
  • 45-minute gab fest with my sister
  • 45 minutes of being a human trampoline for my daughter (it kept her happy during the gab fest)
  • 43 spring tops sent out for judging
  • double batch of laundry soap
  • 1 batch of diapers (after making the laundry soap, oops)
  • Untold numbers of cuddles
  • Untold versions of “I love you more than….” (fill in the blank.  Recent favorites are light bulbs, walls, and jelly beans.)

Ah, but you want to meet my mild-mannered alter ego?
Here’s where she lives.  Prepare yourself.  It’s a pretty good hiding place.

EEEEEEEE!!

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Noooo!!!!

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But never fear. Order was restored before company came. Even if Wonder Woman had to wear her baby on her shoulders to cuddle AND clean.
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Neighborhood Walk: More Gorgeous Entries

I can’t help it.  I take the kids for a walk, and I MUST take the camera along!  This neighborhood is so pretty in the spring, and I’m still day dreaming about what our front yard will look like when our projects are done.

SO!  Let’s go!

This is a different loop than last time.  We have a funny neighborhood- it’s near water, and the variance between the south end of the neighborhood at the north end is only 4 blocks, but the price variance… well, let’s just look at these lovely and well-manicured yards, shall we?  (And maybe next time I’ll walk the girls by my FAVORITE houses.)

Oh man, look at that cool gate.  Love that.

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Again with a wide long porch, but I love the columns, love the house colors.
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I love the long path to the front door, the slight wiggle to it is a nice touch.  The gorgeous spring-greened grass isn’t too shabby, either!  (While I love an eatable yard, there’s something ridiculously decadent about all that GORGEOUS green, rolled out there, in the spring.)

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Mmm…look at those boxwoods, will you?  I love sculptured boxwoods, and know I couldn’t even THINK about committing to sculptured boxwoods for a very, very long time.  I dream of garden herb boxes surrounded by low boxwood hedges.

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Ah, here’s something eatable!  Doesn’t look like much to munch on now, but it’s loaded with drought-tolerant herbs.

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Gah, I’ve never seen such gorgeous tulip pots.  I think they dumped a sack of bulbs in each urn!  Yes, they’ll have to be divided every single year, but LOOK at that mass of color!

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Hands down, favorite garden design in the neighborhood.  (Granted, every other garden I’ve seen is a weed-covered box, in a lonely corner of the yard, that looks like it hasn’t been touched in years.)  In the summer, they send beans up the trellises.  (I think these folks actually go to our old ward- they have a painted plaque with the “Six B’s” by the front door!)

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OK, I love how this looks.  My eyes are telling me that is a hunormous lilac tree, but my head is saying it isn’t possible.  Is it a Royal Palownia tree?  Whatever it is, this yard is just perfect right now.

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While we plan on pouring a concrete patio in our front yard (we’re going to have a concrete truck here, we’re pouring everything we can in one fell swoop) I still love cobble patios.  I love that they’re pervious to water, so no runoff issues.  I love the look.  I love that you can grow plants in between the pavers.  Wonder Daddy reminds me that they settle, must be weeded, must be “re-set” periodically…but still, I love them.

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I love Spring around here!

Parenting an Einstein Daughter

Raising Mimi, I’ve realized that Mimi is easy.  Very, very easy.  Quick to amuse herself, eager to explore, content to eat most of what I serve, and slow to anger.

The other possibility is that Ernie, who was and is none of those things, was very, very hard.  She nursed every 4 hours until she was nearly 2.  With the exception of yogurt cups, she demanded constant entertainment.  (She still does.  Not that she gets it, poor thing.  Good thing she loves to read!)  Ernie wanted an undeviating schedule, completely familiar foods, and everything else to be constant.  It’s become more pronounced as she’s gotten older.

As a first-time Mom, I was very concerned when our pediatrician sent Ernie to a speech therapist for evaluation, and Ernie basically flunked the test.  (They tested how many words she could say: she refused to talk, and refused to mimic the tester.  That’s a fail!)  She aced the problem solving part, though- pointing out sequences, etc.

When we got the letter in the mail that Ernie would need intensive, twice-a-week therapy 4 towns away until she caught up with her peers, I was 2 weeks from delivering Mimi and couldn’t think about committing our family to that kind of schedule.

Ha Doo-Day!

Ernie didn’t talk until she was 3 1/2 (three months after the evaluation)- the main obstacle was that she refused to ever imitate us.  She wouldn’t even imitate animal sounds- no “woof!” in our stories or “quack” for Old McDonald.  I think she knew she wouldn’t be able to do it perfectly, and so wouldn’t try.  But when she DID…watch out, she hasn’t stopped since!  (I would say she totally caught up to her peers by age 4, with a few sounds left over that she has difficulty with.)

At 4 1/2 Ernie taught herself to read, and progressed to a 3rd grade level in…3 months?

Right now our main goal with Ernie is to give her space to learn in, since she is largely self-teaching.  We give her as much encouragement and validation as we can.  We keep firm boundaries, and let her make her choices inside those limits (and let her live with the consequences.)  (For example, a 20 minute tantrum at bedtime steadily eats into any story or song time we might have had available.)

One challenge that is surprising me is her lack of respect for authority.  She is very bright, she is very mature.  She sees no reason on earth why she shouldn’t have just as much clout around here as me!  Perhaps this is more common than I know of with oldest children, or children in general, but when I mention it to friends they either look confused or nod knowingly and describe something their daughter has done a few times.  No, no.  You don’t get it.  This is CONSTANT.  It’s 10 minute tantrums if I shut the garage door when she planned on doing it (but didn’t tell me.)  It’s the unshakable need and demand to choose “what comes next” in her bedtime routine.  It’s the daily announcements of park and restaurant outings.  When I say it’s not the plan for the day, I get the oft-repeated “But it’s MY plan!”

There was a month’s-long period of time when she was 2 I believe, where I refused to take her to the park. I just couldn’t cope with the 20-30 minute tantrums that always happened when we left, no matter how many “this is how many minutes we have left” warnings, and no matter how many times she happily agreed to those warnings. After a time or two of her wailing the entire mile and a half walk home, I threw in the towel. Not sure I made the right choice there, but you must know: she really, really doesn’t cope well with change.

I think I should mention one other thing: she is VERY logical. So much so that as early as 2 1/2 years old often I could head off a “I don’t want to leave now” tantrum with a detailed description of the rest of the day. No, this never ever worked at the park, but if we were leaving my sister’s house for example, I could kneel down and poke my nose against hers and say “we’ll leave, and then have a nap, and then a story, and then a snack, and then we’ll play, and then’ll we have dinner, and….” all the way to bedtime. Suddenly, she was eager to pass out hugs and kisses so we could get home for that nap and do the rest of the day. Currently she has a calendar in her room that she’s darn near memorized. She knows what day of the week her birthday is, and Christmas, and a lot of other dates she deems important.

I continue to pray and study. My husband and I spend anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour daily (you know, except during the Horrible Tax Season) discussing the kids, what they need, what their challenges are, what our ultimate goals for them are.

I hope this helps someone else who is learning to teach their beautiful Einstein children!

The Einstein-Syndrome Daughter

Tell me if this sounds like a child you know:

  • Delayed speech development
  • Usually boys
  • Highly educated parents
  • Musically gifted (families)
  • Puzzle solving abilities
  • Lagging social development
  • Delayed toilet training

wikipedia

Stacking cups

She could put together a puzzle of the United States when she was 2.  Ernie would sit and stack yogurt cups, alone, for up to 45 minutes when she was 2 1/2 (and really started that game after her first birthday).  Ernie started speaking English at 3 1/2- before that it was an amalgamation of made up signs, made up words, and 10 words others could recognize.  Oh yeah, and she didn’t even begin to potty train until she was 3.  (And at nearly 5, she still has occasional accidents NEXT to the toilet.  Grr.)  Both her dad and I have 5 years of college education, and are both musicians.

So, whatever Einstein Syndrome is, I know it’s HER.  It’s not a medical term, it’s a description coined in the book  of the same name, penned by Thomas Sowell in 2001.  There are a group of kids out there who have been labeled either retarded or seriously delayed, because they test poorly by  choosing not to do activities they aren’t good at. Einstein is a famous example- he was labeled as retarded early in his life, but in reality had amazing intelligence and developed at a different pace than his peers.

From that same Wikipedia synopsis: “The book details a series of high achieving scientists and musicians all of whom spoke late and displayed “autistic like” features (long attention span at young age, strong will, ability to play alone, delayed language/social skills) which not rarely are seen in children with extremely high intelligence.”

I think as a society we are becoming increasingly obsessed with childhood “milestones” and whether or not our kids live up to the averages.  The burgeoning number of labels for children (ADD, ADHD, Asperger’s, Oppositional-Defiant, etc.) , the increasing number of children diagnosed as “on the autism spectrum” makes me believe that we are simply finding labels for a basket of behaviors that tend to go together.  Whether or not the child needs medication, intervention, or just space and time to grow at their own pace I’m not qualified to say.

However, if you know a child that displays a large number of the Einstein Syndrome characteristics, I’d definitely recommend this book.

Front Yard Update

Ok, so I’m calling this a front yard update…but truth is, I don’t HAVE an update.  Our front yard is still dirt and a patch-worked rock wall.

There’s no garden boxes

There’s no structure

There’s no terracing.

BUT, we should have big trucks here within a week or two to tear out our driveway (bye-bye mint and lemon balm patch), and tear off our front porch.  The concrete guys will come and pour a new porch, a new driveway, a new patio.  (bye-bye lilac, crocosmia, daffodil, day lily, lung wort, and lilies.)

As you can see, I’m torn.  I’m totally excited for what it will be, getting ready to transplant all my favorite things, getting ready to pull up all my bulbs to dry and re-plant next fall…and still, I don’t really grasp what’s happening!  Have I mentioned that change stresses me out?  And decision making makes me hyperventilate?  And PURCHASING…oh man, I once spent more than a year trying to convince myself to purchase Chap Stick.  I’m serious, I did.  In the end, I stole my husband’s.

So, what better way to celebrate all this up-in-the-airness with a neighborhood walk through!  (Complete with unsolicited commentary- it’s on the house.  Oh gosh, I kill myself.)

Big blue house.  Nice front yard, almost ZERO work.  Totally covered in naturalizing bulbs, ground covers, etc.

See, they went ahead and built rock walls…very expensive!  We were going to, and then realized we could save thousands by paying a little more for concrete stacking stones that we could stack OURSELVES.  No heavy machinery required.

Mmm, we love this yard.  Tidy, tight, cohesive aesthetic.    It’s nicer from the other side, but there were neighbors out and I was snapping pictures as we walked by…awkward… 🙂

This was one thought for our new front porch- a little rectangle stoop, with diagonal stairs.  I didn’t like it on paper, but seeing it here…I kind of like it.  The curvy aspect, the slightly hidden aspect…

Probably one of my favorite entries of all time.  Yellow house, white shutters, white trim,  there’s a tidy walk up to the front door…

Love the pergola (??) on this one.  We’re considering putting one over our garage…later.

I want an arch somewhere, maybe with a kiwi berry vine on it.  DEFINITELY won’t look like this one, though!  Ever since they put it in, I keep looking for the “rest home” sign.  It’s so business like!  I think that’s the look they were going for- the landscaping looks like an office park.  Very neat and tidy though- they take such great care of their yard!

Loved the espaliered apple here, the “steppable” ground cover, the florescent orange tulips…

Oh wow- gray house, red door, climbing vine…love this entry!

And this…is what we’re going to look like in a little bit.  Looks like we’re not the only ones with big plans!

Are You Ready?

I was going to write a gushing post about a fantastic garden walk-through we attended today, hosted by SustainableEats.com, but I feel weird posting pictures of her yard, so I’ll let you take yourself over to her fantastic blog and read about what they do in their yard- it’s inspiring and beautiful!

So. China, haiti, Mexico, California…all earthquakes. Iceland has that volcano, with apparently a neighboring volcano set to spout off soon as well.

Please. I am begging you, don’t let your response be “Wow. That stinks, wonder what they’ll do about it?”

What are you doing to get ready? I live near Seattle. COME ON. I live on a fault line. Yes, it practically runs down my street. I’ve been racking my brain, trying to figure out what more we can do to get ready. There WILL be earthquakes here, there is no question of that. I have water (maybe not enough, I haven’t counted.) We have food (good golly and gravy do we have food.) We have “survival kits” in a backpack (that really need to be checked- do those clothes still fit??) Really, with 2 kids, I’m concerned if we have to evacuate our house. They can’t walk far. I suppose if we could get into the garage we could pull out the stroller. If we can stay here, we have the BBQ and some wood to cook with if there’s no electricity. We need to pick up a camping stove and little fuel bottles- those fuel bottles for your Coleman camping stove have an indefinite storage life, that’s pretty great!!

We keep granola bars, jackets, and emergency supplies in the trunk of the car- definitely need to add water to that mix.

We’ve gotten behind on strapping things to walls- TV, armoire, bookshelves, desk hutch, that kind of thing. I think we’ll have a zip tie party on Monday!

We’re part of a neighborhood emergency group- there’s a team leader that will walk around and check on us, then report via walky-talky back to his leader (our Bishop, in this case.) We’ve done a few drills, it works really well!

Not everyone needs to worry about earthquakes, but I firmly believe we need to be aware of the possibilities in our own areas, and prepared to face the challenges that come our way.

What have you done to prepare for emergencies? Is there something you don’t know how to do, to get ready?

Nursing Mommy

Bed Time

I counted it up the other day.  So far I have spent FORTY-TWO months of my life nursing children.  That’s forty-two months of cuddles, forty-two months of instant comfort and connection, forty-two months of never wearing a dress. (At least for more than a few hours.)

There are so many benefits to nursing- the endorphins for mommy, the uterus-shrinking and magical oxytocin post-birth, the connection between mommy and child, the…weight loss…. 🙂  Not to mention the phenomenal nutritional benefits to the child, eating a food created JUST for them.  Then there’s the immune system boost.  Oh the cost- can’t beat free!

I never intended to nurse my first baby for a “long time.”  It just happened.  And it’s happened again with my second, which I love.  I’d be OK if she decided it was time to wean (and I know we’re in that process right now, it won’t be much longer I don’t think.)  I’ve been so blessed, being able to be home with my girls- with no judgement intended on anyone who uses formula, I’m so grateful my kids have never tasted it.  In fact, they’ve never even had a bottle!