November 18, 2008

Welcome Winter

I woke up today to find that winter has arrived. The grass is covered, the car is covered, the trees are covered. It has been snowing most of the day today. It's amazing to me how you can go to bed in fall and wake up in winter. Now where did I put that snow brush?

Training Them to Work

I decided recently that it was time to assign jobs to the kids. Up to this point Katrina has been a half trained jack of all chores - with minimal proficiency she can do basic jobs such as folding laundry, putting clothes away, picking up toys, etc. She has been more an overall helper but with no real purpose. Alex has been coasting comfortably through life, being asked to help with toy clean up at most.
Many people I have talked to say that silverware is the first job they give their kids. As they are unloading the dishwasher, the child is set up with the silverware rack and the drawer and it is their job to put it away. I tried this - Katrina wasn't bad at it but it didn't seem in any way a help to me. If she was to do the entire dishwasher, that would be a different story. But to give her one section of a job didn't seem to make sense to me. If I am going to take the time to train the kids on a job, I want it to be a job that benefits me not just a job to have a job.
Alex seems to be last at breakfast so it seemed natural to have him in charge of putting the cereal boxes away. In most houses this probably wouldn't be a large task but for some reason Justin and the kids need to make cereal mixtures in the bowl so there are 2-5 boxes out every morning. Alex has been in charge of cereal for two weeks now. At first liked this job. I think then he realized that it is his job not an option and suddenly it wasn't as fun but today he turned around and did it quickly with enjoyment (and a little help from Katrina).
The question of what job to give Katrina was still stumping me until yesterday. Then I figured out something that would be both do-able for a three year old and helpful for me! I decided that she was going to be the dirty laundry collector. It is actually a two step job. The first part is to go room to room, collect up any dirty clothing or bedding (if it is a change the sheets day) and throw them down the stairs. This is the fun part. Then once the clothes are downstairs, the second part is to drag them to the washer. This is the not so fun part.
Yesterday was day 1 and part 1 was was accomplished with little resistance. Once the clothes were downstairs in a heaping pile, moving it to the washer was a struggle. At one point Katrina was lying in the pile content to stay there for ever if it meant not having to carry anything else the 10 feet to the washer. The entire process to about two hours. Yes I could have done it all in about 15 minutes but I reminded myself this is the training processes.
So today after breakfast I announced it was job time and off we went. Katrina went upstairs to begin. I fed Max while she got started. I went up stairs and checked her progress. She had gotten the clothes out of three of the five rooms before getting sidetracked - not bad for day 2 I thought. She got back on task and the rest of the laundry came tumbling down the stairs. Now came the dreaded part two. To my surprise this only took a few minutes. Yes, there was not nearly as much to move as the day before but she seemed to get the concept of finishing the job so she could go on to other things.
We'll see how the rest of the week goes!

November 12, 2008

Working with Daddy

Justin was home today working on our yard project. In early spring we began accepting dump truck loads of dirt (around 400 loads) to make drastic changes in our yard. We buried two foundations and increased the amount of flat usable yard on the both the creek and driveway sides. Here are pictures from the beginning stages:

Today, Bill Thomas was on the bulldozer spreading top soil over an acre of our land, Adam was hauling boulders, and Justin was hauling and directing traffic. Alex and Katrina, outfitted in coats and hats (to combat the cold) and boots and mittens (to combat the dirt), alternated between digging in the dirt with shovels and rakes and hauling rocks alongside Adam and Justin. They are at the age where working with Daddy is a privilege, not an obligation. At one point Katrina had filled a stroller with rocks and was using it like the guys were using the wheelbarrow. When Alex was brought inside he was exclaiming, " daddy...outside!" I hope their enthusiasm continues for years to come!

I feel so many good things happened today. To name a few:
1. The kids spent time with Justin.
2. They worked hard and contributed to family life.
3. They got fresh air.
4. They had fun.
5. Our yard is one step closer to being finished.

October 27, 2008

The Magic of Band-Aids

I have never understood the magically power that exists in Band-Aids for children. How can applying this little strip cure all hurts and pain? Where does this power come from? I don't know where they discover this power either. At every scratch I have not been standing with the box ready and waiting for tears to appear. At a bump I have been the one saying "You're ok". Until this past year I have not even owned a box of band-aids! Justin has been known to hold together cuts with duct tape or plastic cement (I would not recommend the second). Yet our children have somehow learned that injuries require band-aids.

Katrina pinched her finger tonight and decided that she needed a band-aid. No blood, no scratch. But still she asked for the magic strip. I don't even have fun cartoon ones so I really don't see the appeal. Alex then decided that he too needed a "bambi" as he calls them. He first held out a finger, then a different one, and then happily grinned as I placed one on his hand. He obviously had no pain but was suffering from a sympathy wound that only a band-aid would cure. Now I understand that Alex has learned this from Katrina...but where has she learned it?!? I wonder if there is a band-aid gene...

October 24, 2008

Kid Talk

I was quite amused by this exchange between Katrina and Alex on the car ride over to the Tallo's. They had obviously heard the phrase "oh my gosh" from someone. The following argument continued for a good 10 minutes.

Katrina, "my gosh"
Alex, " no, my gosh"
Katrina, "no, MY gosh"
Alex, "no, MY gosh"
Katrina, "no, MY gosh"
Alex, "no, MY gosh"
The next morning over breakfast, Katrina informed Alex, "It is everybody's gosh and we have to share gosh."

Alex's name for Katrina - zah! Sometimes it is szah! Why? no idea. Though I never could figure out why Katrina called Alex "I". I noticed tonight that she will still call him that occasionally. I think it is cute that she has her own little nickname for him.

So I don't forget to document it somewhere...

Alex's first phrase - my daddy....big fish! This has evolved into "my big fish"

October 15, 2008

My Past Life

Where have they come from, I can not say, but I bet they've come a long long way. - Dr. Seuss
Where I am now is do drastically different than what I ever imagined it is often comical!

I went to a good high school and knew from the start I would go to college. I actually remember learning of a friend who was graduating a few years before me who was NOT going off to college. I remember being completely confused by this concept. What was this person going to do with their at McDonald's!? At that point in my life, college and jobs were a black and white issue. The correct path was go to college and get a good job. The wrong path was do not go to college and live in a box. So off to college I went. I spent four fantastic years at the University of Rochester and graduated with a degree in Molecular Genetics...and now needed a job. I had been working at various part time jobs since I was 16 but now this was the real deal.

My first job was in the lab of one of my professors. It was a small lab and I worked closely with one of the graduate students. It was an excellent learning curve/confidence gaining situation. The project I was working on lost its funding which put me at an intersection...continue working and hope our funding would be reinstated or look for a new job. I chose B. This decision brought me to an HIV research lab at Strong Hospital.

Here I was doing both research and clinical work. Here are two papers from my time in the lab:

So here I was minding my own business, working 40 hours a week, teaching dance, and playing volleyball. I assumed I would end up married to a college graduated professional, raise a few kids in a nice housing development while I continued my work. Enter Justin, fast forward time.

The most scientific thing I have done lately (aside from teaching at Academy) is read a butterfly book to Katrina during "B" week of preschool. I've thought about playing volleyball again but haven't played competitively in four years. I certainly don't live in a development and I don't work outside the home.

I'm often asked if I would do it again knowing how things ended up; would I go to college (spend the time and money)? ABSOLUTELY! Your past makes you what you are today. I'm very thankful for all of my "failed" plans. I wouldn't trade the past nor would I trade the present.

October 14, 2008

Words of Wisdom

Reading a post from an old friend, I was impressed by the following: " goal in life. To experience life, not just survive. To sample and choose, not just take what is given to me. To learn and lead, not just follow the crowd."

Experience life, not just survive. I think many of us fall into that trap. Get through another day, get through another week. On Monday you hear people saying, "I can't wait for Friday" or "If only the weekend would hurry up and get here". Why survive 5 days to live for 2? So much of life will pass you by. There is so much to do, to learn, and to experience every day.

To sample and choose, not just take what is given to me
. Sometimes what you are being presented with is not the best but is the easiest. It is easier to buy a pre-made microwave dinner instead of preparing something healthy at home. It is easier to take a job you don't really want than to work hard to do what you are passionate about. If you don't feel something was done well and you feel you can raise the bar, don't settle for what is given to you! But how do you know if something is good? You need to get out there and experiance life so that you can choose what you want to accept. If you are surviving life, you won't know if you are accepting mediocrity. It is so easy to passively accept what is out there instead of striving for excellence every day.

To learn and lead, not just follow the crowd.
Again, passivity is killing us (I'm sounding just like my father-in-law!). Learning and leading both require active engagement in life. Following is passive; it is surving life. I'm not saying that you should go against the crowd just to go against the crowd. That is following since there is already a whole group that feels the need to do that! I'm saying formulate your own decisions and know why you are doing what you are doing. Take upon yourself the learning process. Own what you do and why you do it. When you believe why you are doing something you are more apt to do it with excellence.

Wise words my friend. Something we should all take to heart.

October 7, 2008

Where are your clothes?

This morning I am greeting first thing by Katrina who has dressed herself like she has been doing on her own for quite some time now (a year or so). Today's outfit: a florescent pink and orange two piece bathing suit. Bathing suits are a favorite - at least this one is the correct size. When asked, she informs me that she is warm but as she slips into bed with me I realize that her skin is FREEZING.

I leave Katrina in my bed to get Alex up. Alex does not change his clothes on his own or dress himself yet. Today when I open his bedroom door, I find him standing in front of me ...completely naked. I had put him to bed in a bear suit (the furry zip up footed pajamas). The suit was in a heap in the corner as was his diaper. Thankfully that was only wet. We used to have to put Katrina's pajamas on backwards so they zipped up the back to keep her in them...I wonder if Alex is getting to the point where I will have to do the same.

While I'm getting Alex situated, Katrina had taken it upon herself to get Max ready. She had climbed into Max's crib and stripped him down. I walk in as she is trying to put a new diaper on him and her scolding him for not following her directions. A little more practice and she may be the official diaper changer!

Outfits worn today: K - 3 including the bathing suit, A - 2, M - 1.

October 4, 2008

Joining the Blog World

Well, it is official. I have joined the blogging world. I think that Lindsay getting a blog inspired me to take the plunge and get one myself. Here is an update on the family to get things started.

Justin is self-employed doing mainly remodeling work and managing investment properties. One of the current remodeling projects is the lake house we purchased with my parents and his parents on Cayuga Lake. He is currently playing in volleyball leagues at hotshots not that his summer softball leagues have finished. He's also gearing up for hunting season.

I am home with the kids, teaching chemistry and physical science at our homeschool Academy, and assistant teaching Irish dance. I should be folding laundry not starting a blog but this is definitely more fun.

Katrina is 3 now. She is in taking gymnastics and tagging along to dance with me. She lasts about half the class and then plays in the hall with Aunt Luissa who is waiting for her class to begin. I'd say that her favorite movie is Little Mermaid and book is any Clifford book. She loves putting on multiple outfits a day, much to my washing machine's dismay, and making sure things match. Is she really my child?

Alex is 2. He is talking up a storm and very excitedly told us, "my daddy....big fish!" followed only days later by "my big fish!". He LOVES fishing. He has shown me that there truly is an innate difference between boys and girls. No one had to tell teach him to love cars, trucks dump trucks and getting dirty. His big eyes and fun smile problem get him out of more trouble than they should.

Max is 8 months and on the move. He is crawling all over now. All that crawling has made him very hungry and he now loves eating. He's a happy guy and smiles and talks often. He recently made his mother very happy by doing the "mamamamamama" babble.

Sandor (dog), Sid (dog) and Steve (cat) round out our quiet house.