Friday, September 20, 2013

Friday Randoms ...

**I never blogged about it, but last week Casey and I had our first Date Night Out in over 6 months. That's just sad. One of our favorite neighborhood teens babysat Bea and headed over to the Museum of Life and Science for The Science of Beer:
When Bea found out we went to the Museum without her (which, btw, she calls "her museum") she was utterly offended and said, "You went BY YOURSELVES?!?" Yes, yes we sure did:
And we drank beer while doing it. So there.
 Though, clearly, Casey shouldn't be allowed in unsupervised:
**Bea's dance class re-started two weeks ago too. We decided to move her up to the "older" kids class (4 and 5 year olds), and it's a little trickier for her and the age difference absolutley shows. But she's hanging in there and doing really well. I see her practicing her moves each week after class:
**I have a really, really busy fall coming up and have been working hard in my current Off Call Time to get our house organized so it can run more smoothly when I'm away at long births. One of the things I've tried to do is get a central "command center" put up with our family calendar, meal plans, house chores and a cork board for important papers. I asked Casey to install the cork board a few nights ago and he spent nearly 2 hours on the project. You know, getting it juuuuuuuust right:

**This fall, I'm spending Thursday mornings in a Women's Bible Study Group at a church here in Durham. No it's not Moravian. But it is an incredible group of women (70!) all studying the story of Ruth and Naomi and it's been incredible. I'm so thankful to my friends Ali and Kathy for inviting me to join in.

**I looked back in my backseat on the way to school on Tuesday and this was what I saw:
She's too cool for preschool, I guess ...

**Next week, Casey is leaving us to go and speak about his work to a national conference in Washington DC. Bea is spending the week at her Grandpa and Grandpa Jan's house (Casey's dad and step mom). I'll be spending the week sleeping and watching what I want to on TV, maybe get a pedicure and a haircut catching up on work and waiting on a baby.

**And finally, a little video of You Know Who dancing like a fool to Outkast (yes, seriously) at Jimmy Johns a few weeks ago after Church:
I can't remember if I've told you all about her love for Jimmy Johns' yet or not. She loves it so much that we can't even say the words anymore around her or she goes BANANAS for a sandwich. Seriously. So, instead, we call it "James Johnathan's". And the eyes closed dancing? She does that when she really, really, really loves what she's eating. It's hysterical.


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Cultivating the Sense of Wonder ...

I make no claims about being a perfect parent. But, if there's one thing I feel that Casey and I have done right, so far, it's the fact that we've worked very hard to help Beatrice Kate cultivate and foster a sense of wonder about the world around her:
We're those parents. You know the ones. We limit television time to a very bare minimum. She has little to no toys which require batteries. Most of her belongings are made from wood or cloth and have very few plastic parts. We take the time to explain processes and answer her questions as fully as we can and it can take a very, very, very long time to get an explanation she deems adequate.

Go ahead and take a few minutes to get in a good eye roll. It's okay, we're used to it. It's challenging at times, I'll admit. How we've chosen to parent Beatrice Kate is often incredibly time consuming and yes, it would be a lot easier to do things differently sometimes (especially when she gets on a "Why" kick!). Let me be clear: I am in no way judging other parents and their styles. How you choose to parent is your right, and differences among families are a good thing. For us, our family, this is what works. As Bea's parents, we feel like it's our responsibility to help her make connections and leaps between Point A and Point B and to encourage her explorations into her world.
And the "payoff"? You guys it's incredible. She's so thoughtful and inquisitive. She's insightful and imaginative.
During last weekend's camping trip, I feel like we hit on something really special. We didn't bring a single toy, shut down all electronics (aside from my camera of course), and let Beatrice Kate create her own entertainment. She wasn't disappointed in the least. Every time I stood back to watch her, I was blown away by her creativity.

During the span of two days, Bea and Livvy built upon their Sense of Wonder:
Beatrice Kate pretended to be a hawk:

A salamander:
A pirate (of course):
With her sword by her side and at the ready:
She and Livvy spent time as "kitties" scratching their posts:
The girls made "soup" on top of Stone Mountain:

And Bea found a tree branch "perfect for sweeping off the path":
They formed a rock band:
Emphasis on "rock":
And in general, just played with anything and everything at their disposal. Even if that meant braving ice cold water temperatures for some splash time:

More than anything though, Casey and I were simply so proud of our girl's clear preference for The Great Outdoors and hope it helps her live her life intentionally someday:
 And we truly believe that if we do nothing else right, at least we got this one right on point:
Play, Incorporating Animistic and Magical Thinking Is Important Because It:
Fosters the healthy, creative and emotional growth of a child;
Forms the best foundation for later intellectual growth.
Provides a way in which children get to know the world and creates possibilities for different ways of responding to it.
Fosters empathy and wonder...

By suggestion and example, I believe children can be helped to hear the many voices about them.  Take Time to listen and talk about the voices of the earth and what they mean—the majestic voice of thunder, the winds, the sound of surf or flowing streams.
~Rachel Carson, A Sense of Wonder


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Soul Sisters Go Camping ...

Two weekends ago, on a hike at the Eno River, we decided to take advantage of a short period of "off call" time I'm currently on and go camping at Stone Mountain State Park this past weekend. Though Casey and I have stayed at this park before, we've never taken Bea. Since it's only 2.5 hours away and a relatively easy place to camp and hike, it seemed like a logical place to go for a last minute camp out.

We invited along some of our closest friends, who happen to have a daughter Bea's age, Livvy. Livvy and her Daddy Mark were able to join us and Bea was so excited she could barely contain it. You might remember that Livvy and her family joined us at our only other camping trip with Bea. The girls have grown a bit since then...

These two... they're cut from the same cloth:
With age, comes silly smiles ...
Livvy's mommy, Cindi, and I had the same due date in 2010 and we're pretty convinced these two were actually meant to be twins. They're so similar it's scary. Soul Sisters, if you will:
I'll be so thankful when they're capable and willing to smile like normal people ...
Since we decided to go camping 7 days prior to going camping, and didn't actually pack anything or prepare anything until oooooh, the night before, I was incredibly thankful for my husband's anal retentive camp supplies organization. Mark is equally obsessive prepared, so I knew the girls and I were in good hands:
A little supervision never hurts...
Livvy has a little sister who is just a little young for a camping trip this time, so Cindi stayed at home with her and I went with the guys and children. For the most part, I think the girls were happy with just have a Mommy there; they weren't concerned too much with *which* Mommy it was. And, it was only a little awkward when a campsite neighbor came over to ask for some baby wipes and Livvy introduced us all to her, ending her introductions with, "And we're all married!". Umm... not so much.

Naturally, we had all the camp out necessities like firewood like s'mores:
These are tasty and all, but this stickiness just isn't working for me ...
 And campfire breakfasts, like pancakes and bacon (and kiwi?):
Comparing breakfasts. Thankfully I thought this might happen and prepared identical plates ...
And the weather was perfect; just a little chilly in the morning (though not as chilly as my child's attire might lead you to believe):
I swear, she's happier than this picture might seem...
And the girls? The girls were great. They fought and loved in equal measures, like any true sisters would do:
I'll hug you. And then I'll strangle you.
We ended up hiking about 6 miles (maybe a little less) around the Stone Mountain Loop Trail. The girls probably hiked nearly half of that distance themselves:
Bea of course, stopped every 5 feet to look for a new stick sword to "cut down vines" (note: we were not in a jungle):
When they weren't hiking, they were riding in the lap of luxury:
We stopped along the way to check out the views (Side Note: Can I get some commentary on how adorable Bea looked?!? Tiny Work Out clothes! Who knew they existed!):
Casey seriously tested the limits of my anxiety levels a few times, allowing Bea to check out the furthest limits of the edge:
But eventually, I caved and let him lead our girl on a Daddy-Daughter Adventure. I even agreed to be in a few shots:

This one cracks me up, because it's the pinnacle of a Casey Photo:
Hey can you take our picture? You know, with us actually in the shot?
One of the Daddies and Daughters:
So much sass in such tiny bodies ...
Casey and I both grew up in the North Carolina Mountains, so it was a nice re-connection to home to be among these sights:

Look who else tagged along, on his first (and likely only) camping trip:
He's since been sleeping every minute of every day since returning home. On the couch...
Just as we reached the summit, this happened:
Hey Bea, check out the views:
No seriously, it's so lovely. You'll really like it:
She was really impressed...
Thankfully a little lunch perked her right back up:
We also noticed that our family has a slight addiction to Keen footwear:
We like a wide toe box, you guys ...
I attempted to take a "Hey, look at us! We reached the summit and here's a photo of our children to prove it" picture. This is as good as it gets with two wiggly, silly three year olds:
After the summit, it was time to walk back down the mountain. Or if you're Beatrice Kate, it was time to Adventure Walk:

We stopped at the Homestead at the base of the mountain, where Casey's photography skills struck again:
If you look reeeeeeallllly closely, you can see a photo of my only child ...
Finally, finally! We reached the end, where a 200+ foot waterfall greeted us:
Bea asked to have "naked feet" (what she calls bare feet) as soon as she saw the water and despite ice cold temperatures, she played there for the better part of 30 minutes:

After returning to camp, the girls we all were a little tired:
The Campfire Trance ...
Sunday morning, the girls finally got the chance to play in the tents:
Jazz Hands optional ...
Remember what I said about loving and fighting like sisters?
Immediately after this picture, they were wrestling ...
I really, really hope that Bea and Livvy can stay friends for a long time. Several times throughout the weekend they would say to each other, "You're my bestest friend in the whole world. Ever. In my Whole Life". I didn't have the heart to tell them that their whole lives, so far, are just a fraction of what's to come!