One Day Per Week

September 16, 2014 By: Jenna Category: Adventures, family, Parenting

We went through a period where That Husband was working every single day of the week and I was emotionally depleted by the lack of family-togetherness time. It was really hard for me to enjoy my time with my kids when I was constantly jumping back and forth between meeting the needs of one or the other. I craved an easy afternoon where we would laugh and play and be in love with each other, all of us together in the same place . TH could see that the everyday working arrangement wasn’t a good long term strategy for our marriage, and so he promised me Saturdays as a family day. So far he’s been able to stick with it and we are all so much happier! The kids get to interact with him and show him their newest skills, and I get to go to Happy Hollow and have someone to chat and sit with as the kids do their kid things.

Speaking of Happy Hollow, once we figured out we were going to spend time together, we had to agree on what to do. Not an easy task when one partner likes to explore and try new things and the other likes routine and predictability. I want to sit down with the Red Tricycle emails and plan a different sort of outing every weekend, focusing on all of the food festivals that have a little something for the kids and a little something for me too. TH has won out for now, and most of our Saturday mornings of late have been spent at Happy Hollow, a little park and zoo not too far from our house. We can wear the kids out, feed them lunch, keep them awake in the car, and have some quiet time to ourselves in the afternoon. T1 loves it there, so much so that every time his teacher asks him what he has been up to he describes trips to Happy Hollow. Even on the weekends when we don’t go :).

I’m not a huge fan of zoos, but I do have a soft spot for the meerkat exhibit. Those little guys are really committed to being on the lookout at all times.  Read more →

One Roll for the New School Year

September 12, 2014 By: Jenna Category: School

To celebrate the new school year I decided I would treat myself to a mini-session in the front yard with my kids, using a full roll of medium format film in one sitting. This is an indulgence because the cost for the film+development+scanning for the 15 frames I shot was $23.20. I only kept 8 of the images from the roll, which means each photo cost me $2.90, not including any time spent editing. It’s an expensive hobby to pick up (digital images would be free!), but when I scroll through these images I think it’s worth it.

This is an evening in our front yard, eating watermelon with the cookie dough scoop my great-grandma gave me on our wedding day, dancing to a Spotify playlist, shouting with excitement each time a neighbor walked by with a dog.

Mamiya 645, Porta 400 (b&w images converted in LR)


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One Quick Take

August 29, 2014 By: Jenna Category: Personal

Where You Go, I Go

First Day of Daycare/Preschool

August 26, 2014 By: Jenna Category: Personal

This Monday was the first day of daycare for T2 and pre-k for T1. I took the kids to the front yard for a photo and had one child enamored with a balloon and another shivering from the cold. I went back inside and grabbed some jackets so we could try that again.

Much better! And I will unabashedly brag here and say that I did not ask them to hug OR smile. They hugged and smiled for both my dSLR and my iPhone, which earned them a lot of mommy brownie points. I have trained them well.

T1 is going to the same school he has been at for the past year, a school that we chose our housing location based on, and a place that we are already to anxious to enroll T2 in. We love this school so much! When the kids attend as four-year-olds they make a really big deal out of it being the pre-k year, breaking the kids off into a special corner throughout the day to focus a little less on play and a little more on letters and numbers. In the last few months I’ve seen a big change in the detail in his drawings and his desire to engage in imaginative play, and I’m looking forward to watching him progress even more through 2015. We are currently thinking that he will attend the school’s private kindergarten next year as well.

From December of last year to June of this year T2 had been spending 3 days/week with a family down the street, playing with a mom and her six home-schooled children. It was so reassuring to know that she was in an environment where she was loved and adored by so many people, and she had no problem waving goodbye to me each morning when the teenage girls came to pick her up. Unfortunately the mom’s schedule is changing this school year and she is unable to continue the arrangement. Having regularly scheduled kid-free time is really essential for my happiness and emotional well-being, and after about 3 months of no regular help for T2 I told That Husband it was time to find some daycare for her. I waded into the Craigslist postings and spotted one close to our house that has a webcam in the playroom where I can check in on her throughout the day. It’s a home-based place with about a dozen kids and 3-4 caretakers at any given time. They provide the food and offered me the option of Monday-Friday care from 8:30am-1pm, which allows me to spend some time with her in the afternoons before she goes down for her nap. When I picked her up after her first day of care she babbled all the way home in excitement, so I think it’s a good fit for her as well.

Now to wade through my mass of photos from the past year and write a few catch-up posts. Because I know everyone is dying to know what we did for Christmas in 2014 :).

 

Children and Foreign Grandparents

June 20, 2014 By: Jenna Category: Parenting, Travel

 

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We have been in Poland for about a week, with another week to go. TH’s family is as lovely as ever, and once the (grueling) flight from the States to Poland is over I always feel we shouldn’t wait so long to come back again.

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I anticipated a really awful flight, and the kids actually exceeded my expectations. It was overnight and they slept for a good portion of it. We bought a seat for T2 and put her in a car seat and that made things a lot easier. I also expected jet lag with two kids to be tough, and it was. The kids have been sleeping in the same room for several weeks now, but here we have been unable to get them to settle in and sleep through the night if they are together. I’m grateful that my in-laws are providing us with several days in Berlin without the kids. We are craving some serious re-connection time as a couple.

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One thing I didn’t anticipate was how hard this trip would be for T1. Previously he was very young, either not talking yet or just learning to speak, and he didn’t seem to mind the language barrier so much. All speech probably sounded a bit confusing to him! Now though he seems really thrown by the lack of English and strong accents. I confess I’m not sure how to walk the line between affording him space to be shy and autonomous, and pushing him outside of his comfort zone in order to be polite and attempt to form bonds with these family members who love him so much.

We’ve talked about different options but aren’t sure what will be best. Maybe we keep the current approach, visiting for two weeks every 1-2 years, and see how things develop. Try to prioritize video conferencing more often. Long summers in Poland for the kids at some point? Are there things we can do now to prevent the same disconnect for T2?

It’s been really hard for me to watch all of this unfold, because I feel like one way I can express love and gratitude for my inlaws is to encourage my kids to engage with the in meaningful ways. But T1 is his own person, and I can’t force him to feel and think and act in ways that don’t match with what he wants. I hope this is just a stage, like most other things with kids this young.

Do I have any readers with family who live internationally and speak a language that isn’t spoken by their grandchildren/nieces/nephews/etc? How have you made it work?

      I'm a farm-raised almost-crunchy stroller-pushing picture-taking lifestyle-blog-writing gastronomy-obsessed divine-seeking thrift-store-combing cheese-inhaling pavement-pounding laughter-sprinkling lover of individuality and taking chances.
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