Archive for the ‘Children’ Category

Summer 2014 Day 3

Read Full Post »

Summer 2014 Day 2


Some photos before bedtime:

Me with Ashley, Caitlin, Ethan and SeanMe and Ashley


Read Full Post »

check mark    check mark check mark

As I find myself daydreaming about things I would like to be doing, but have not yet been able to act upon, I am finding it helpful to shift my thoughts to things that are currently happening and that are working well. My daydreaming leaves me restless. My reflection on family routines that are working relaxes me.

We are very fortunate here that James’s job allows for him to be with us in the morning for breakfast and back in the evening for dinner. While the changes in roles and duties that his presence has brought about has taken a little time to adjust to, we seem finally to be entering a flow.

Weekday Mornings Routine

Alarm goes off. 


  • Wakes girls
  • Frees the boys 🙂 (They have a child safety handle on their doorknob inside the bedroom  to prevent Ethan wandering around without supervision during the bedtime hours. Sean is still in a crib.)
  • Showers and dresses
  • Takes breakfast requests (within his weekday breakfast limits)
  • Heads downstairs to make breakfasts and his lunch

While I:

  • Nurse Sean
  • Read a story to both boys as I nurse
  • Say good morning to, and sometimes with, Ashley and Caitlin
  • Change the boys nappies/pull-ups
  • Take Ethan to the bathroom
  • Send boys downstairs
  • Have a shower
  • Start a laundry load, strip beds or fold some laundry depending on what day it is and what tasks  need doing.

We eat breakfast.


  • Takes girls to school, nearly always accompanied by Sean and sometimes by Ethan (who seems to be more of a homebody at this hour)

While I:

  • Finish my tea
  • Assess what needs to get done during the day and create a check list.

James returns from school. The boys and I say goodbye as James cycles off to work.

My day with the boys at home begins.

Evening Routine

  • The girls do homework.
  • I cook dinner or put it together from having prepared it earlier in the day.
  • James returns home from work.
  • We eat dinner together.
  • James and I alternate taking the boys to bed and cleaning the kitchen after dinner/supervising the girls’ chores.
  • Ideally, there is then time after the boys bedtime and chores for James and I to enjoy time with the girls before their bedtime (sometimes dallying over homework or chores means these tasks need to be completed in the time before they go to bed :()

As I write this time I can see that we really do have a great deal of rhythm to our days as a family. These routines don’t always run smoothly but they tick along most of the time. Homework and chores are still a work in progress with the girls, but we are starting to have some fun evenings before their bedtime playing Yahtzee or Scategories or reading in the living room together. Some evenings, if the boys have had a very late nap, they join us in the living room. They both enjoyed playing “Pagliahtzee” with me and James one evening recently. (Ethan came up with the names. He has confused Pagliacci Pizza and Yahtzee and run them together. Sean copies Ethan a lot, so now they both call the game “Pagliahtzee” :))

It really helps settle my mind to focus on what is working around here. Our morning and evening routines are working well and act like anchors, giving me a sense of place and purpose with my family. As I reflect I take a deep breath and exhale with a sigh. Life is Good!

Read Full Post »

Ethan and Sean love baking day. I usually give them a bowl of flour and some spoons to play with beside me on the counter. They inevitably gather some cars and drive them through the flour and Ethan likes to pretend it’s snow 🙂

After our very successful experience with the sensory box with rice last month I decided to use the box again. Only this time, in honor of our first baking day of Autumn, we used flour. (I poured the rice and little toys into a storage container so that we can easily reuse it when we want.)

This time I added some of my plastic measuring cups and spoons, ones I didn’t need for the recipes I was making 🙂

I had been gathering a little collection of scoops from things like detergent and large bags of baking soda.  I have also been hanging onto some empty play-doh containers in various sizes and some little plastic applesauce cups thinking I would find a use for them sometime (’cause containers are the kind of thing I “hoard” :)). I popped those into the container too. The boys loved using them.

Just like with the sensory box with rice Ethan ran off to get his little Lightning McQueen and Mater to play with in the “snow”. He had a lot of fun pretending that Lightning McQueen was stuck and Mater had to pull him free (Mater is a tow truck and McQueen a racecar).

Again I placed tha blanket under the container. This was the real test of the box. My original idea was that this would be an indoor activity for a rainy day, but our initial test drive using the rice was on a sunny day on our balcony. Well, inevitably some flour did get on the blanket, but when we were all done I was able to pour most of it back in the container. Then I shook the blanket out on the back deck and clean up was done.

The boys were occupied for about an hour while I baked. I am loving this sensory box as much as the boys. Though obviously for different reasons 😉

Read Full Post »

For the longest while I’ve wanted to create a sensory box for Ethan and Sean to enjoy at home. I was anticipating it as a fun activity for rainy days. I finally made one last month.  It wasn’t a rainy day but I needed to occupy the boys for a while and as I had been slowly gathering the materials to put it together I was able to get it up and running in no time. I was delighted that I had finally put one of my good ideas into action.

I poured some rice from a 25 pound bag of cheap calrose rice into a shallow, medium sized tub (with a lid for easy storage afterwards). Under the container I lay a large blanket to make it easier to pour any spillage back into the container when we were all done.

I then added various little toys that could be hidden amongst the grains of rice. I chose dinosaurs, frogs and some other animals and figures the boys enjoy.

The stacking cups that have been a huge favorite since Ashley was a baby were then added. Ethan also ran to the playroom and retrieved some vehicles to add to the rice. In case you didn’t know, all play can be enhanced with the addition of a few vehicles!

I could tell it was a success because after a little while Ashley was drawn to the box and joined Ethan and Sean. Shortly after that…

…all four children where absorbed in play. Anything that can happily engross four children with an age range of 2 to 10 years is definitely a keeper.

A final shot of Sean lovingly guiding Ashley’s hand as they played together. He held onto her in this way for a little while and she seemed very pleased to let him 🙂

Read Full Post »

It finally rained here in Seattle! It happened on Sunday night. We haven’t had rain for 48 days. Temperatures have been lower since Sunday, though they are forecast to go back up to the 70’s today and for the next 10 days. I took advantage of the cooler weather to indulge in some baking. Although I have baked a batch or two of cookies over the summer I have really missed regular baking. At the end of the school year I baked some cookies and bread that I froze for summer use. I will try to do much more of this next spring. It makes it much easier to enjoy milk and cookies in the afternoon when I don’t have to melt in the kitchen to make it happen 🙂

Over the summer I have missed the taste of my Irish Brown Bread, Honey Whole Wheat Bread and Oatmeal Raisin Cookies. So that’s what I made. The girls were particularly thrilled with the Honey Whole Wheat Bread. They adore it. It is very satisfying to make something that is enjoyed so much by all.

Interestingly, each of the recipes was a little off for reasons I could not figure out, unless it was somehow just me out of practice. Of course, no one really noticed except me 🙂 When the season turns fully I’ll have a lot more opportunity to practice and get my baking groove back.

Much as I would love the temperatures to stay in the 60’s and a little more rainfall, I am trying hard to embrace the end of the summer and start of Autumn. I am resisting my usual urge to skip right over Autumn and mentally shift into my beloved Winter mode. So far, it’s working. The lovely sunny afternoons hanging out at the playground after school are very pleasant with all four of the children. The girls are enjoying down time with friends and the boys are loving the freedom of playing on the playground with all the big kids.

Sean and Ethan enjoying a quiet early morning play on the playground after school started yesterday. They had a chance to play there a second time in the afternoon when school ended. The playground was much busier and it was a different kind of fun for them with the big kids around.

Read Full Post »

At the start of the week, with only two days to go before returning to school, our family hit two stores in order to get all the girls’ school supplies. Actually the entire six of us went to one store and then James took the girls to the next one to polish of the supply list while I took the boys home for their naps. I managed a two hour nap too. Delicious!

When I woke up the girls had returned and their new supplies were gathered on the kitchen table. The thrill! The excitement! The newness!

They particularly love their sparkly new pencil cases: purple for Ashley, blue for Caitlin.

In the quiet of the late afternoon I found myself smiling for them, remembering how much I enjoyed gathering together my school supplies when I was a kid. My uncle Jimmy worked in office supplies and he would visit us shortly before school started with most of our school supplies. I would spend the last few days of the summer vacation itching to write and write and write on those blank pages of my copybooks.

In all the excitement of the return to school we also feel a little sad that the summer vacation has ended. Despite my up and down summer I have loved having all the kids home, with no school schedule to follow and lots of down time for us to enjoy small pleasures.

My surprising thought as I looked at the girls’ supplies, and fondly remembered my uncle Jimmy and his school supplies drop off, was that I wish I homeschooled.

No, I haven’t lost my mind 🙂 I know homeschooling would be a lot of work, but the number of hours it would take to complete the course work is a lot less than the number of hours they spend at school and we could control our own schedule.

More control over our daily schedule and more time with all the kids. That’s a very appealing thought right now. I’m going to miss my girls now that school is back!

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »