Posted in family life, sqt

{sqt} – our random happenings

For the quick takes link up this week, some moments and thoughts that were really too small to make up a whole post on their own ūüôā

  1. As Aubade grows older, her relationship with Limerick is really beginning to flourish and deepen. He took a while to adjust to having a younger sibling around, but recently he has taken on the older brother role more consciously. If he sees her lying down he will lie down next to her and snuggle; if she is playing with something he will join her; if she is struggling with something he will try to teach her or help her. He will also tell me how cute she is and how much he loves her, and will describe to me all the things she does that make him laugh. She in turn follows him around, wrestles and dances with him, randomly comes up and hugs him, and wants to play with everything he is playing with.

    IMG_9361
    Aubade and Limerick using an automatic sink, backs to the camera, faces reflected out-of-focus in a mirror behind the sink
  2. Non-toy items are apparently the best things to play with these days. Currently, all the forks are spread out on the kitchen table as a herd of fork monsters. They use their long sharp teeth to fight each other to establish dominance, I’ve heard.
  3. Limerick has a significant dislike for shoes, which is somewhat inconvenient now that the pavement is too hot to touch every afternoon. He has one pair he will tolerate when necessary but he takes them off every chance he can find (such as at the zoo, until a zoo volunteer told us it was against zoo rules).
    IMG_9388
    Aubade is leaning into a large stone water fountain; Limerick, next to her, is looking at the camera while taking a bite out of a cucumber.

    Also, he likes to eat cucumbers like most people eat apples. I’m not going to try to persuade him otherwise!

  4. Rondel’s hair is so long. As in, almost shoulder length! I’m going to be sad when he finally asks to have it cut, I think.
  5. Our anniversary was this weekend! Seven years so far, with four homes, three kids, two jobs, and one degree along the way. We celebrated by having dinner as a family and spending most of it apart with one of us handling a meltdown and the other feeding the two remaining kids. How is that for real life? We are planning on doing something together when my parents are available to babysit, however ūüôā
  6. I should not be allowed to go shopping on my own with the kids: I can’t resist when they ask for certain things. In other news, we now have a child-sized floating stuffed turtle that can double as a pool raft that will be living (and swimming) at Grandma’s house…
  7. A couple nights ago I was putting the boys to bed and they both plastered themselves up next to me, to the point where I started to feel panicky. Little kids have high physical touch requirements, and that can definitely be hard for me sometimes. But at other times I think to myself, when will I ever again have the opportunity to give and receive so many hugs and kisses and snuggles every day? And the spontaneous exuberant hug of a toddler is hard to match.

Head on over to This Ain’t The Lyceum for the rest of the {sqt} link-up today!

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Posted in musings

parenting towards inclusion

Inclusion begins with honesty.

If I gloss over the differences between people, my child will be confused by the discrepancy between what he sees and what he hears from me, and will intuit that difference is something shameful, something not to be spoken of.

Inclusion begins with knowledge.

Last week we watched a friend’s three children for a few hours at our home, one of whom is severely autistic. One of his favorite things to do is to take things apart (things like Duplo creations)… which was understandably frustrating for Rondel, who is very particular about his creations and gets worked up if anyone even gets too close to them. They were building together when the inevitable happened, and when I separated them Rondel told me that he didn’t like his friend “at all.”

But when I explained to him why his friend was behaving that way – that his brain was developing differently and he was in a lot of ways similar to Aubade as far as impulse control and the kinds of activities he enjoyed – it made sense to him, and he was able to adjust the way he played to accommodate those differences. Having that knowledge helped him to more fully include his friend.

Inclusion begins with presence.

One of the reasons I offered to watch my friend’s children (besides the fact that she needed someone urgently at the last minute) was that I want my children to spend time with people who aren’t like them: people of different ethnicities, people with physical disabilities, people with neurodivergences, people of different ages. It isn’t actually inclusive to sit around and talk about equality and opportunity and diversity if you aren’t living it out by filling your community with all types of people. I want my children to know from lived experience that even people who face incredible physical and mental challenges are just people, with their own needs and preferences and personalities, with their own unique strengths and weaknesses and quirks.

Inclusion begins with me.

Because my attitude and my choices determine the environment in which my children grow up, I have to shape it into one of acceptance and love. This is not necessarily easy for my introverted self, but I believe it is critically important for the future of our society and communities for inclusion to become part of the fabric of our everyday life and personal relationships. It begins here, in my home and in your home.

“So far we’ve talked about getting out of our limited thinking and envisioning how we’d design our ideal day if we knew we would be successful. We explored letting go of our own emotional baggage, recognizing them our personal triggers have been provoked, and committing to parenting our children from a place of possibility instead of fear. But for this last Tilt, I want to talk explicitly about fully leaning in to the power of our personal choice and using it as a foundation for creating what our child needs. Because the truth is, what our child needs may not exist yet. But why should that stop us?” – Debbie Reber,¬†Differently Wired


If you liked the quote from Differently Wired, read my brief review of the book here and check back in June for the giveaway!

why should that stop us?

Posted in family life, musings

love

Love is such a difficult thing to describe; it is impossible to quantify. Rondel and Limerick have been attempting to articulate how much they appreciate or enjoy something by telling me they love it “even more” than they love something very special to them, including people (so one would say he loved Grandma more than Mommy, and the other one would state the opposite, or they would say they loved a new type of popsicle even more than swimming). They have also asked me a few times who I loved the most – talk about a question with no right answer!

What I’ve been explaining to them, and how I answered their question, was that I love all of them in different ways, because they are different people and our relationships are likewise different. I love them all just the same amount, but it looks different; in a sense, my love for each of them is a different color, but each color blazes with the same intensity, beauty, and brightness.

If they asked me which color represented my love for each of them, this is how I would respond…

Continue reading “love”

Posted in family life

holding open doors of possibility

Rondel loves the zoo. I think he would want to go there almost every day (some days have to be for Grandma’s house) if possible, and he never wants to leave no matter how long we’ve been there. There are always more animals to see, more wonders to explore, more facts to learn. As much as he enjoys the splash pad, he always asks to see another exhibit instead, despite the heat, until I mandate a water break on behalf of his siblings.

So I thought to myself, I wonder if the zoo is doing any summer camps? Rondel will probably still be too young, but I can still see what’s available. Blithely thinking these things, I went onto their website and discovered that Rondel is¬†not too young by any means, and would be eligible to attend a half-day camp focusing either on animal stories or animal art.

Part of me leaped up in excitement! He loves the zoo! What a great opportunity! How awesome would it be to get to spend that much time at the zoo, talking about animals, looking at animals, surrounded by people who also love animals! What a chance to try to integrate with a group of peers, in an environment without a parent, to stretch his comfort zone and expand his social skills! And oh… what about dealing with loud groups, bright sunlight, the challenges of speech articulation delays, and the anxiety of the unknown? This is, after all, the boy who struggles in a typical Sunday school classroom even with a personal aide, and the boy who cries at the park if he turns around and can’t see me – even if I haven’t moved from where he left me. Would a summer camp be an adventure or a nightmare?

My husband had the wisest words about this dilemma, about the dichotomy between excitement and fear: that if we, as Rondel’s parents, make a decision for him based on our fears of what might happen, based on what we think his limitations and struggles might be, than we are placing that limitation on him instead of giving him a chance to grow and soar and potentially surprise us all with his abilities. We would need to plan well for it, obviously, to give him the best possible chance to succeed and to give him a way out if it proved to be too much, but it would be foolish – especially in the long-term – to simply close this door because we fear he will fail.

It reminded me of a passage from (you guessed it!)¬†Differently Wired. (Reber really seems to have covered everything. I promise I didn’t begin writing this post trying to sneak a quote in!)

“Choosing fear equates our child with their diagnosis, rather than seeing them as¬†creative beings who are here to shake up the world in their own magnificent way. Choosing fear is the very thing that keeps us stuck. Choosing fear creates a culture of apprehension and anxiety in our families, and affects the way our children, many of whom are already highly sensitive and anxious, feel about themselves. Operating from fear leads¬†to more limited thinking and fearful energy, which both we and our child will feel, and less chance of our child’s uncovering and experiencing their extraordinary possibilities. It’s the¬†epitome of a self-fulfilling prophecy.”

Instead of choosing to direct my child away from opportunities and experiences because I’m afraid they’ll be too hard for him, I am choosing to present him with the options and let him come to his own informed decision – and then, I am choosing to support him through the results of that decision, even if they prove to be difficult or unpleasant. That is the process that will help him grow in self-awareness and confidence, that will help him develop autonomy and independence, and that will therefore help him grow into greater possibilities instead of holding him back in a box created by my own anxious and limited imagination.


If you liked the quote from Differently Wired, read my brief review of the book here and check back in June for the giveaway!

Posted in book lists, sqt

{sqt} – what we’re reading now

We finally made it back to the library to return our old set of books (renewed at least three times because we kept forgetting to bring them back) and pick up a new set! We’re missing some of the old ones, but loving some of the new ones, as well as finding classic favorites from our own shelves and Grandma’s house. These seven are some of our current most-read titles.

  1. Make Way For Ducklings, by Robert McCloskey –¬†This one is of course a classic. I had a copy as a child, but the one we have now I managed to find at a thrift store for $1.99, hardcover in perfect condition. I still can’t believe it… Published in the 1940s, it was a classic when I was a child and I wouldn’t be surprised if both my mom and grandma grew up with it. The Boston of the book is probably quite different from the Boston of today – but the story is timeless and the illustrations are absolutely beautiful. The humor is subtle but still has both the boys laughing every time (it’s the rhyming names for the ducklings that really get them). It has the added advantage of being a book I will never grow tired of reading aloud.
  2. Marti and the Mango,¬†by Daniel Moreton –¬†This is another book that I grew up with, although I doubt it is nearly as widely known. We are currently borrowing it from my mom. It tells the story of a mouse who is supposed to find a mango to take to dinner at his friend’s house, but who doesn’t know what a mango is! On each page he asks a different animal if the fruit they have is a mango, and they give him a different point of reference as to why it isn’t. What makes it really enjoyable to read is the alliteration for each animal-fruit pairing as well as the repetition of the mango identification hints on each page, as they accumulate. It is a simple story with the attention to detail (in both words and pictures) that makes it interesting for both parent and child.
  3. How Does a Dinosaur Eat All His Food? by Jane Yolen – This book is from our new library haul, and is I suppose nominally about table manners and dinosaurs, but is really just hilarious as the dinosaurs exhibit every type of horrible, atrocious, behavior. The boys basically fall over laughing every time we read it.
  4. Hello Hello, by Brendan Wenzel –¬†This is another book from our latest trip to the library, and one I didn’t expect the kids to enjoy nearly as much as they have. I had actually noticed it on the display and put it back because I thought they wouldn’t like it – but Rondel also noticed it, had me read it at the library, and then put it in out stack of books to bring home, and all three of the kids have requested it since we’ve had it. The words are very simple and sparse, but the illustrations are bright and bold, as the author takes you through pages of different animals and says hello to them (by category, not by name – the actual species of each animal is in a list in the back, however). Even Aubade will sit through the whole book looking at the animals, and Rondel and I will peek at the back to find out what some of them are that we can’t easily identify (although he’s quite good at remembering all the animals from the documentaries he loves… I probably need the identification key more than he does!)
  5. Tiny Little Fly,¬†by Michael Rosen –¬†This is one of the books we just returned, by the author of¬†We’re Going On a Bear Hunt. It has a similar pattern of repetition and rhyme, beautiful illustrations (this seems to be theme with these books), and a little fly who manages to irritate all the huge animals and get away with it unscathed. The boys were starting to copy the rhythms of it into their conversation and pretend play, which was neat to hear!
  6. Usborne¬†Big Book of Colors¬†– This book has no story; it is just a book naming colors, with a color wheel in the back. But it’s beautiful, with thick not-quite-board-book pages, and the boys and I – especially Limerick – like to sometimes just go through it together enjoying all the gorgeous colors and finding our favorite shades of each. It also sparked a conversation on idioms that link emotion with color, which was interesting for me to think about in depth and a great opportunity to discuss metaphor with Rondel. And why is it that no one is ever described as being “orange” with some emotion?
  7. There’s a Wocket in My Pocket, by Dr. Seuss –¬†This is Aubade’s favorite book right now (in board book form). She will ask us to read it multiple times per day, and multiple times per sitting. I’m not sure what she loves so much about it, but my hunch is that it’s the silly words and silly pictures combined. The book is basically just playing with the English language, and that’s a great way to come at it when you’re still beginning to learn that language.

Head on over to This Ain’t The Lyceum for the rest of the {sqt} link-up today!

Posted in family life, musings, quotes

wonder

Watching my children play, I am reminded of the wonder and beauty of small and simple things. There is enough joy in a glass of milk to send a three year old dancing around the kitchen; there is enough beauty in a well-done coloring page to keep a distractible, active four year old still and entranced watching it happen; there is enough passion in a stuffed animal to occupy the full attention and imagination of the one year old who walk around snuggling and protecting it. Continue reading “wonder”