Thursday, September 30, 2010

Imagination and Creativity

Well, I suppose I better explain my gleeful explosion during an earlier blog post. (If you missed it see it here.)
I don't know if I want to tell yet. Maybe I'll tease you. Allright, I won't.
I came across an article a few months ago that spoke to me. I've been kicking around the idea of "de-toying" the house for a while, and this was the clincher. I removed all of the toys from the whole house (except the most beloved ones and Joe's and Hannah's small stash), dumped all those boxes I used to try to organize them into a giant trash bag and put them in the garage (I haven't decided how to make the toys leave yet...).

Years of pondering the idea of the kids toys led me to the following conclusions:
  • The kids play with the toys they throw down for less time than it takes for me to pick them up.
  • Time spent picking up un-adored toys could be better spent doing things together. The article I read called picking up toys, "stupid work" (a very influential point for me.)
  • No toys, no fighting over who gets the toy (EVERYBODY has a toy called IMAGINATION)
  • Imaginary play allows them to grow in ways that toy play does not.
  • Too many toys are overwhelming for young children to organize. They are just beginning to be able to order and organize personal possessions. I can't expect them be able to conceptualize and execute a plan to keep their room clean when they are overwhelmed by the sheer multitude of toys. Not fair.
  • Its not fair to my kids growth and development to do for them what they can do for themselves. I am trying to teach them to to be able to conceptualize order and enjoy an organized environment. I can't do that if it takes more time to accomplish than I have available. Gotta start small. (And stay small in my opinion)
  • People don't seem to value as much what they have a great excess of. A very small number of cherished toys is better than a multitude of toys about which a child is ambivalent. I am trying to raise my kids to value and care for what they have. If they are physically unable to care for their possessions for the sheer number of them, there isn't much chance of teaching them that.

I have spent time with Joe climbing trees, slicing underbrush with a machete, and crossing rivers in the living room. Aubrey, Heidi and I have turned the whole house into a grocery store where we went to buy the ingredients to make pizza. Joe and I ride dirt bikes (uh, tricycles) outside together. The kids all spend more time outside. I've seen more works of art lately than ever before. I watched this afternoon while Aubrey got out leftover blocks of wood from Brian's wood pile and made log cabins, fires, chairs, musical instruments, and who knows what else. I really do have more time with my kids if I'm not picking up after them. They really do have more time for life if they are not busy picking up toys too. I think we are all happier.
And you want to know what? They helped me do it too, lest you think there was weeping and wailing. (In fact, I couldn't help it - I giggled with joy as I filled trash bags with toys, thinking of all the fun we could have together.)
Before I removed all the toys, I explained the above reasons to them. I let them know that they already knew I loved them and that I felt this would be a solution that would make all of us happier as a family. There has not been any bored kids since the toys went away, whereas before they were always bored.
Now they alone are responsible for their play - if they are bored, it is only because they are not using their imaginations. When the toys leave the house, the whole world is your playground.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Confessions of a sleep deprived, mush brained, fourth time mommy...

Little Hannah hasn't been sleeping well lately, or like, really, hmm... Ever. Anyway, it hasn't gotten better. She still wakes up, and I do not, er, try not to nurse her (if I am awake enough to stop myself). Anyway, its been worse lately. I am tireder and she is more uncomfortable. Brian was sure it was her stomach, or her esophagus (remember the reflux, which by the way has diminished wonderfully). Anyway, I guess I am kind of grumpy because when he makes those suggestions, I think to myself, "Perhaps its her arthritis, or her kidney, or her spleen... we don't have a clue - SHE'S A BABY and she can't TALK!" All I know is that the baby won't nap and I either have to hold her or spend an hour getting her to sleep. That involves dancing a continuous waltz and singing... No wonder I am feeling exhausted. Anyway, Brian got home and I was a mess. I handed him all the kids and prepared to leave to get some ingredients for dinner. Before I could escape, Brian called me to come look. Well, Hannah is getting a tooth - her very first. I guess I just thought she would be toothless forever, because it never occurred to me. And in that moment, I got a mommy reality check - too much focus on me, and not enough of really seeing her. *Sigh*. So -
Happy New Toothy Day Hannah!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Dollies and Dirtbikes

I'm sure you've noticed the hair clip in Joe's hair on my first day of school post. Joe has been thoroughly indoctrinated on the joys of being a girl. As soon as we got home from dropping the girls off, Joe donned the coveted tutu and proclaimed himself top dog. The flower flip flops and lip gloss and other typically female interests are worrying Brian.
I have decided to take matters into my own hands. I am introducing Joe to "boy" things. Now, in my experience, dirtbikes are definitely manly - my dad had one and it made a very manly noise and he could do cool manly tricks with it. So that had to be first. I showed Joe dirtbikes on youtube and he was hooked. Everything was a dirtbike and he had to have more. Its ok, I actually enjoy dirtbikes too. We ride our dirtbikes in the driveway together. Joe let me borrow his.

In other news, the garden produced some JUMBO sized watermelons. In fact, not just huge, but also yellow and hugely tasty. It kind of almost makes up for our pittiful tomato harvest.
I love Joe and Hannah's growing relationship.

Hannah had her first encounter with spicy recently. We had beautiful, spicy peppers from our garden this year. Hannah eats everything she can reach. The pepper had fallen on the floor. She gnawed (no teeth yet) until it broke open and unleashed its vengeance upon poor Hannah. Actually, she handled it very well...

Another kid, another GREEN SMOOTHIE lover!