Like the rest of the world, we are horrified by the devastation the earthquake wrought on Haiti. While many large organizations have mobilized to provide support for the victims, many smaller efforts are in process as well. We, like many others, were glad to provide monetary support (with matching from Truls' company) through the Save the Children organization. But the needs are great and there is so much yet to be done.
This afternoon, the girls and I baked a cake and cookies to contribute in our small way to the Haiti Earthquake Relief Bake Sale going on tomorrow in Menlo Park from 8am to 3pm in front of the Draegers Market. All proceeds will help a local team of doctors and nurses provide outpatient support to earthquake victims in Haiti. The travel, the medical supplies and more require monetary support and through the efforts of PAMP, Silicon Valley Moms Group and other organizations, this bake sale is one of the ways we can all chip in. Come join us if you can!
It's wintertime and you know what that means...back to Tahoe! This year, we've joined a ski lease and are too excited. We were able to leave all of our ski equipment and some of our gear at the cabin. In future trips, we won't be stuffing our SUV to the gills. Moreover, we may have decreased our departure prep time significantly.
As in past years, we brought in the new year in Tahoe. We took advantage of an early stay at our ski lease house for a week. Our friends, the Tokic family, joined us for the latter part of our winter vacation.
Of course, the girls have already hit the slopes along with their cousin, Greg. This is the third time he has been able to join us for the week between Christmas and New Years day in the snow and the girls couldn't be happier. He really improved his technique in the short time he's been on skis... Must be nice to be an athletic 16 years old with boundless energy and strength. Those were the days...
"This is the best hotel ever!" exclaimed Songwriter as she watched yet another fireworks display explode in the distance from our hotel window. Munching on room service in the Grand Californian Hotel as we ate dinner last night, our little weekend getaway (courtesy of Disneyland, my connection to Silicon Valley Moms Blog and active writing on our family blog) has already sparked a little magic for our girls. And for me, a trip down south to Disneyland to enjoy the opening of the Christmas holiday festivities, is just one of those things I've wanted to do for many years...an idea that has laid dormant in the back of my mind. Until now.
But now, I'm a blogger; a mommy blogger at that. I have children. We love to travel and both Truls and I LOVE Disneyland. We have only fond memories of childhood trips to this park and it's something we want our girls to share. Sure, we're alerted to the over-commercialization of Disney-fied fairytales but that's a daily worry with many things other than Disney. And a trip to the park is always something special.
So, here we are - our second trip this year (the first being on the girls' birthday in March). And we're all excited and can't wait to run around the park in all its holiday glory. Yea, we've already been here this year but I've heard so much about what Disneyland does for the holidays, my curiosity has built to the we must go point.
Hahaha I have to say that at this point, I’m highly amused. I know this will change with time, perhaps even next year. But I’m enjoying it for now. We were out trick or treating for less than one hour and our girls were done. We hit two neighborhood streets and even then, only one side of one of the streets. But that didn’t matter. That was it. The girls were done. They wanted to go home.
“Mommy, I can’t even eat all this candy in my bag already. I want to go home,” Storyteller declared.
Songwriter could have kept going but she did not put up much of a fuss. My husband and I encouraged Storyteller to keep going to just a few more homes with such cool decorations, we couldn’t imagine our girls passing them up. She acquiesced only because she knew we were heading in the right direction – home.
In my old trick-or-treating days, I remember running around until I couldn’t take another step. I remember assessing how much space was left in my trick or treat bag, knowing I would not quit until I could barely close it. I carried a pillow case-size bag all night long and at the end of the night, it was heavy. But the best part of the night was the end. Coming home, dumping the bag and counting each piece to get a grand total – to compare with my brothers’ collections. The idea was to have *more* than my brothers. I don’t know why this became such a point of contention but it did. It was a friendly rivalry but one with much pride attached.
We experienced a revelation on Labor Day weekend. One that only another experienced parent could have shown us. We were relating our woes in teaching our girls to ride a bike without training wheels. Frustration was building with each lesson. An added complication was that we had a double-tagalong to hook up to my husband’s mountain bike allowing him to do all the work while our girls enjoyed the ride. So really, what was the point in learning to ride your own bike? And then we started hearing stories of how other kids their age (or slightly younger) had taken off their training wheels and were now reaping the benefits of their respective freedom. We didn’t want our girls to feel like they were being left behind.
So, we (well really, my husband) began the arduous task of teaching them balance on two wheels. He took the training wheels off one bike and held our daughter steady (her twin wasn’t so keen on losing her training wheels, so we left hers on). All the while, I could hear him giving instructions, encouraging her to take off and letting go. Only to see her fall into a heap…a loud, angry, crying one. And over several sessions, the frustration built. Theory and execution do not easily go hand-in-hand when learning to ride a bike.
As we lamented our stories that weekend, one of our friends told us to take off the pedals. Huh? And then he talked about how he took the pedals off his daughter’s bike and had her glide around the street for a day, using only her feet to propel her forward. As he had tired his own back from holding her, pushing her and letting go, he realized that she was so focused on pedaling to keep up and going that she wasn’t taking the time to just stay up. The next day, after she became a pro at gliding as she sat on her bike, he put the pedals back on. She took off. Wow. What a concept. I could already see how this made sense. Teaching your child to balance on two wheels had nothing to do with pedals. Pedals only got in the way *and* took the child’s attention away from focusing on balance. It seemed so obvious…but one we never thought of. We couldn’t wait to test this new technique on Songwriter.
I started a new career last year as a professional photographer. Photography is a passion that both my husband and I have shared for many years. In fact, I often tease that part of the reason we were meant to be together was because I’d never met anyone who took as many (or more) photos than I did at any given event. And so over the years, we’ve often talked briefly about starting a photography business of some sort. Fortunately, the timing worked well for me to embark upon this new venture last year.
I’d learned from the previous business I started (designing scrapbook elements kits), there’s a heckuva lot more to starting and growing a business than the actual passion of creating that “thing” you want to design and sell. And there are plenty of things one cannot control. I was a die hard scrapbooker. I had several layouts published in scrapbooking magazines. I loved creating my own elements. It touched me that other scrapbookers would love and purchase the things I created for their own memory books. It was so personally gratifying…but the industry changed. And I burned out. I rarely put a scrapbook page together these days, real or virtual. Much of it is lack of time. Part of it is the lower priority it has become. Part of it is…I just lost the creative mojo. Someday, I hope to get it all back. For now, I just leave my stuff alone – digital and real – for that one day when that particular passion sparks again.
This was one of my biggest worries when I started the photography business. Would I enjoy photographing other families, other children? Could I create the kinds of images that would touch other parents - the way the ones my husband and I have taken of our own girls have touched us? And most importantly, would I burn myself out?
The day finally came. Our girls entered the first of 13 years in the public school system. It's a day that many of us parents look forward to and kinda think of it as the next biggest milestone in their kids' lives. We're no different. Funny but I didn't experience that pang of sadness that they've crossed some kind of invisible threshold. Perhaps it's because they've been in a full-time preschool/pre-K program for the last couple of years. Perhaps it's because they will be together in the same classroom for one more year. Whatever the reason, I wasn't nervous about their start to this important phase of their lives or even a little sad. I was excited, though not nearly as excited as our girls.
Storyteller woke up at 4am. Songwriter got up at 5am. Jet lag? Yup...but I think the anticipation of this first day in Kindergarten helped wipe out any remaining drowsiness they would have normally felt at that time in the morning. Songwriter insisted on her newest clothing acquisitions. Storyteller couldn't care less. In fact, I insisted that she put on a new outfit because I was going to take photos. She acquiesced.
They were both up, dressed and ready to go at 5:30am. Their afternoon Kindergarten session started at 11:30am. We had a few hours to kill. Chomping at the bit - a most apt description for their mood that morning before school. When we finally got ready to get in the car, Songwriter was full of nervous energy, "Mommy, I'm scared." I of course, told her it would be fine and fun.
One of the unexpected benefits of having our girls speak Norwegian is this unique experience of attending school in Norway for a day. I’d heard from a mom (whose husband is an old friend of Truls) that the schools there were quite open to having visitors in the classroom. I thought, gosh what a great experience that might be for Songwriter and Storyteller. I also thought that their cousin would absolutely love it, too. It was the first week of school, however, and a time when all the kids and teachers were still getting to know each other and I wasn’t so sure the staff would be agreeable to the idea.
We’d gone to the first day of our niece’s school to drop her off on Monday. It’s her first grade of school (which equates to Kindergarten here). At that time, the principal introduced the staff to parents and relatives then called out each student’s name to go stand behind their new teacher. Storyteller and Songwriter both asked if they could go with their cousin and we’d told them not that particular day but perhaps later in the week. My brother-in-law asked the teacher that day if it would be OK and they were set for Friday – the day before we returned home.