Fly on the Wall: Parenting in a Nutshell

Welcome to a Fly on the Wall group post. Today 9 bloggers are inviting you to catch a glimpse of what you’d see if you were a fly on the wall in our homes. Come on in and buzz around my house.

Buzz around, see what you think, then click on these links for a peek into some other homes:

Baking In A Tornado                   http://www.bakinginatornado.com/

Menopausal Mother                    http://www.menopausalmom.com/

Spatulas on Parade                     http://spatulasonparade.blogspot.com/

Searching for Sanity                    http://singlemumplusone.blogspot.com

Never Ever Give Up Hope             http://batteredhope.blogspot.com

Dinosaur Superhero Mommy         http://dinoheromommy.com/

The Bergham Chronicles               http://berghamchronicles.blogspot.com/

When I Grow Up                       http://kimberlyyavorski.com/whenigrowup/

Wanting to Regress, I Guess

In past Fly on the Wall posts I have talked about growing older, mostly as it relates to my kids. In a unique twist, I heard my kids say, “I wish we were babies, and you had to change our diapers.”

Daddy O. replied, “Babies don’t earn coins for doing jobs. They can’t buy things with money. They can’t go swimming by themselves.” At age 6 Big Sister can be in the water by herself with an adult on the pool deck. Little Brother still needs an adult in the water with him at age 5.

Little Brother explained, “We would just swim on you. You do all the work, and we do all the relaxing.”

Me lamenting to Daddy O., “That’s parenting in a nutshell.” Sigh.

Camping / Outdoor Quips

While we were hiking, we had to double back to reach the correct trail. I was able to say, “Turn by the floating caterpillar!” It did appear to be floating, suspended on a thin line of a spider’s web. It was cool!

Both kids asked on our hike, “Are there wolves in the woods?”

I replied, “Just make your annoying noises and they’ll stay away.”

Big Sister was a big discouraged after fishing, saying, “I know why we didn’t catch any fish. It’s because we SUCK!” Wow, I didn’t realize she knew that phrase.  I explained that they didn’t suck, but they just needed to find a better fishing spot…and the fish don’t always bite, blah, blah blah (I’m sure she just heard the voice of Charlie Brown’s Mom.)

Wedding = Kid Free Time!

Daddy and Mama O. wedding 2016.png

Daddy and Mama O all fancy for the wedding – what I can do with time to fix my hair.

Daddy O. and I attended a beautiful wedding of an extended family member, while our kids went with their aunt and uncle and cousins. At the end of the weekend, Big Sister explained, “At our aunt’s house, you get points for sleeping in.” Hmm…maybe we should do that at home!

On our drive to the wedding we were enjoying some 80’s music. I heard the station identification and said, “Wait, is this the oldies station?!”  Daddy O. remarked, “Yeah, we are oldies.”

While up north we saw a few “Man’s Sale” signs. My sister and I laughed, wondering if men were for sale.  A few miles down the road more signs gave a few more clues as to what a “Man’s Sale” was – fishing, hunting, clothing for men, but it was a good laugh!

Little Brother’s New Game

At the step in our garage that leads to our home there were four water bottles lined up. Daddy O. asked, “What’s with these water bottles here?”

Me: It was a game. Little Brother would ride his bike around the garage and would deliver me a water bottle that he pretended was a bottle of wine. Then he’d ride around again and pick up another bottle and deliver it to me. I think it’s a good game.

Daddy O: Okay then…

Now shoo fly, and go check out all of these other posts!

 

Parenting is Like a Family Bike Ride Part 2

Last year I wrote part one of Parenting is Like a Family Bike Ride, and it’s hard to believe that one year later my oldest has ditched her training wheels for good.

Sometimes kids make up their minds quickly.

Early on in summer Big Sister asked to have her training wheels taken off of her bike. I stalled a bit, saving this project for Daddy O., but finally, tired of waiting (and having a tendency towards impatience) I broke out the tool box and took the training wheels off myself. The result – she tried it a few times and was scared of falling. We’d practice every now and then, but she would find something that wasn’t quite right. Her helmet was too small. What if she fell? She wanted knee & elbow pads.

Some More Motivation – and Safety Gear

We shopped for a bigger sized bike helmet together and found a really cute, pink & purple set of elbow and knee pads and gloves. Daddy O. would walk beside her, holding on, as they practiced balancing, braking, stopping.  I’d help her practice, which involved a lot of holding her bike as she whispered to herself, “I can do this. I can do this.” It often was more talking and waiting than actual riding. Grandma even practiced with her for a brief time, only making it two mailboxes down from our own home, but still, she was out there, cautiously figuring it out.

I was talking with complaining to my sister about our biking riding woes and asked how her two boys learned how to ride their bikes without training wheels. She told me that they worked on it EVERY DAY. I shared this idea with Big Sister – using her aunt’s method, which is already cooler than what mom says, and she agreed.

A Little Push to Get Started

I went along with her unique routine that she established with Daddy O., which was a pass of braking practice before trying to pedal on her own. I’d hold onto her bike seat as she mentally prepared herself and said, “I can do this.”  With a little help, she started on her own and rode down a few houses. We turned around and I helped her start going down the street with a little decline to give her some momentum, so she could just coast and balance.

It’s amazing what a little push can do to get kids going on the right path. Don’t we as adults often need a little push and encouragement in our own lives too?

A lot of Work & Dedication Pays Off

We spent a little bit of time each day trying to ride her bike. We did miss a day here or there, but all of the consistent practice really helped build her confidence.

Similarly, there is A LOT of work in parenting, and you have to be show-up each and every day for your kids.

A Time to Let Go

Finally I heard, “No, Mom, don’t hold onto the back of my bike seat. I’m going to do it myself.”  And like that, she was off on her own!

there-she-goes-on-two-wheels-go-mama-o

Look at her go!! Whoo hoo!

Now she wants to take a quick spin around the block and ride her bike almost daily. When I look back to our “practice sessions” I thought it was taking SO LONG, but lo and behold, she gained confidence and learned how to ride on two wheels. This is a continual lesson in patience that I’m still learning as a parent!

1st-time-bike-riding-on-two-wheels-without-help

Big Sister and Daddy O. celebrating their ride around the block together.

Sure, she’s fallen since then, but we’ve heard an immediate, “I’m okay,” and she’s hopped right back on her bike and kept on riding. Wow – how proud I am of this little girl! If she approaches all challenges in life like she’s done with learning how to ride a bike, she will go so far.

As my kids grow older, there are more and more times when I can let go and allow them to figure things out on their own. And yet, there are still times when I hear “Mom” being yelled out, so I know that I’m still needed.

Stay Together

Today I can ride my own bike right next to my daughter. We can ride through the neighborhood at a leisurely pace and chat a bit. I hope this is something we can continue to enjoy to do together for years to come.

As for Little Brother (almost 5), I am still walking beside him as he grows more comfortable with his bike and training wheels. I know it’s only a matter of time when we’ll take those training wheels off and pedal away together for a family bike ride. Until he’s ready for that, I’ll wait patiently and hold on to this time.

 

 

Visiting the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum

On a trip to Chicago, the kids and I ventured to the Lincoln Park area and visited the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum on a very hot and muggy afternoon. The museum was perfect for escaping the heat and learning about nature during our two hours there.

1st Floor Highlights:

We sort of few through the Riverworks and then paused a bit more to see the live reptiles and amphibians. The exhibits are very much hands-on, reminding me more of a children’s museum. Both my four and six year old enjoyed the Hands On Habitat area, designed for kids age seven and under. They played in various animal habitats, went down a “tree” slide and even played dress-up in animal costumes.

2nd Floor Highlights: the Butterflies!

The butterfly haven really stole the show at this museum, though on our way there, we did walk through the taxidermy areas that showcased Illinois ecosystems. Most of my pictures are from the butterfly area. I just love this oasis – it’s so peaceful and relaxing to watch the butterflies flutter around the greenhouse.

So many butterflies

I loved the Blue Morpho Butterfly, upper left. My smartphone camera took some decent shots!

Butterfly collage

Upper left – feeding time, a butterfly by the fruit plate. Upper right – turtle hanging by the pond / waterfall. Lower left – a Blue Morpho butterfly landed right by my kids!

The circle of life is represented in this habitat. In the picture above, lower right corner, there is a quail and below a bird that both eat dead butterflies.

Bird in the butterfly exhibit

Pretty bird. Must eat a lot of butterflies too…

After hanging out in the butterfly haven for some time, we made sure that none were coming with us (not one butterfly landed on us), and left the greenhouse. Outside we could see the chrysalis with the next crop of butterflies for the garden. I think the lifespan of these butterflies is about one month in the garden, so I can imagine how many have to hatch to re-populate this beautiful exhibit.

hatching butterflies

Hatching new beauties

We spent some time in the weather exhibit, having the most fun with the green screen! My daughter did pretty well reading and keeping up with the lines.

Fun with the green screen and reporting

This line was perfect for the HOT weather we were experiencing that day. 

You could choose between fast or slow reading (we chose slow for my soon to be 1st grader), which was nice. I think all kids (adults too) enjoy seeing themselves on camera! \

After one more visit to play in the under age seven habitat area, we briefly hit the gift shop and cafe. While there are many tempting and exciting items (my kids wanted a lot of the stuffed animals), we managed to each buy a drink and then leave the building to hike the nature trail outside.

My kids found some ducks and scared them into the pond.

Enjoying a hike outside the nature museum

Ahh – noisy kids, better swim away!

It was a really nice, shady nature trail that hooked up with a larger park, so we could have kept on walking if we wanted. Instead we cut our time short and headed back to the car. This was our view as we left:

View of the Chicago Skyline from Lincoln Park

All in all we enjoyed our visit to the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum! It is a nice, manageable museum in Chicagoland that is not in the main museum campus near the lakefront, so it was relatively easy to find. I think it was perfect for my kids, though it seemed people of all ages were visiting. I’d recommend checking it out if you’re in the area.