Tag Archives: kids

Too Much of a Good Thing

I love Halloween. Kids in costumes, glowing pumpkins, roasting seeds, raiding the kids’ candy stash. What’s more fun than that?

Last year, I loved it way more than Leo did. I forced / bribed him into his monkey costume. (Pro Tip: Saying, “Do you want candy? Yes? Then get in this costume!” is not bribery; it’s an incentive system.)

This year, I’m not sure how Leo feels about Halloween. But I know how he feels about his giraffe costume: Continue reading

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Filed under All in the Family, Your Moment of Leo

Minnesota Nice: Let’s Go Fly a Kite!

kite-flyers

You know how, when you anticipate sharing an experience with your children, you build it up in your mind? You picture the joy on their faces. You imagine the wonder and delight. You think, “This is the stuff memories are made of.”

And then, you actually do that memory-making thing. And most of the time, it doesn’t quite match up with beautiful picture you created in your mind. For example, you definitely did not picture this much weeping and whining and wailing, or this many dollars flying out of your wallet. I have been there, fellow memory-makers. It can be rough.

The upside is, when the vision and the reality do match up, it is even sweeter. Such was the case last weekend, when the Cumings family attended The Fourteenth Annual Prairie Winds Kite Fly!

It sounded whimsical. It sounded magical. It sounded like a fun, inexpensive family outing on a beautiful (and windy) fall day. And guess what? It was. It really was! Continue reading

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O world, I cannot hold thee close enough!

Fall is in the air! We are just on the cusp of this wonderful season, but I wanted to share one of my favorite fallish poems today.

Turns out: I shared it five years ago. So, let’s just turn back the clock and enjoy that post (and some vintage Zoe photos) again, shall we?

Never Done It That Way Before

Today, let’s let Edna St. Vincent Millay (Vincent, to her friends) do the talking.  Zoe, of course, will do the rest.
O world, I cannot hold thee close enough!
   Thy winds, thy wide grey skies!
   Thy mists, that roll and rise!
Thy woods, this autumn day, that ache and sag
And all but cry with colour!   That gaunt crag
To crush!   To lift the lean of that black bluff!
World, World, I cannot get thee close enough!
Long have I known a glory in it all,
         But never knew I this;
         Here such a passion is
As stretcheth me apart,—Lord, I do fear
Thou’st made the world too beautiful this year;
My soul is all but out of me,—let fall
No burning leaf; prithee, let no bird call.
–Edna St. Vincent Millay, “God’s World”
What do you want to hold close this fall?

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Filed under Book Report, Your Moment of Zoe

Satisfaction Guaranteed

 

IBM Electronic Data Processing Machine

I’m pretty sure this is a behind the scenes photo from Amazon headquarters.

 

What did we do before Amazon?

Seriously, what? How did we find the every day things that aren’t for sale in our town, or the obscure things we forgot we needed until we needed them immediately, or the things we didn’t know we needed until Amazon suggested them to us?

Amazon is a magical  place. When you live in a small town, it is a lifesaver: you can get the stuff they don’t sell in your town delivered to your door (and you can still shop in your town for all the stuff they do sell). Party favors, Halloween costumes, expensive but effective eczema shampoo and body wash, Thomas the Train everything. (Pro Tip: They still sell books, too.)

But it is dangerous, of course, for the same reason: they have everything, and they deliver it to your door. It’s easy to fall down the Amazon rabbit hole, especially if you read the reviews. One product review leads to another, and another, and another, until your virtual shopping cart is filled with things that have suddenly become essential.

We recently converted Leo’s crib into a toddler bed. (Or, in Leo’s words, “Daddy broke it!”) The transition was not as smooth as we had hoped–he was on the floor multiple times a night. So, I turned to my friend Amazon for the answer.

Piano voor aan bed gebonden zieken / Piano for the bedridden

I didn’t find this on Amazon, but maybe I didn’t look hard enough.

What would it be? A traditional bed rail? An inflatable bed rail? A foam bed rail? “Magic bumpers”?  There were so many options, each more expensive and complicated than the last. I was overwhelmed.

But then. Then, I was saved by the very tool that had brought me down this rabbit hole: the Amazon product review. I can’t find the actual review now, but the gist of it was: “This product is basically a pool noodle. Don’t waste your money on this. Buy a pool noodle instead.”

And it’s true! Cut a pool noodle to size (we went with the thicker kind), stick it under the fitted sheet, and voila! No more sad thuds in the middle of the night.

Thanks, Amazon, for once again helping me find exactly what I needed. Even if I found it on clearance somewhere else.

Visit of the Chancellor of the University of London, HRH Princess Anne to the School, 8 May 1986


What is the best or worst Amazon purchase you’ve made?

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Filed under Marvelous Miscellany

Back to School Joy

“I’m tired of playing all day. I want to learn things again.”

That’s my Zoe, who went off to second grade with a big grin on Tuesday:

back to bus.jpg

She couldn’t tell me her favorite part of the first day because “everything was so awesome.” That’s my Zoe, too: when she’s in, she’s all in. She has more “best day[s] ever” than anyone I know. Her joy and enthusiasm for life and learning fill me with joy, too.

I give thanks for Zoe’s joy and excitement, and for the wonderful teachers, bus drivers, paraprofessionals, cafeteria workers, and others who nurture and guide her and her classmates each day.

Speaking of back to school joy: Continue reading

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Filed under Music!, Thankful Hearts

Minnesota Nice: Butterfield Threshing Bee

train waiting

Waiting for the train. Look at that lean of anticipation!

I was mostly in it for the train ride.

Sure, I love tractors and steam engines as much as the next person (Pro Trip: Depending, of course, on how much the next person loves them), but it was the promise of a train ride in the park that convinced me to load the kids in the car and head over to Butterfield for the 50th annual Butterfield threshing bee.

Well, the train ride exceeded my expectations. For seventy-five cents each, we got to hang out in the depot, tell the ticket taker our imaginary destination (Zoe chose Unicornia), ride through a tunnel, and take in the sights and sounds of the bee. I bought enough tickets for two rides and we loved each one.

But there was so much more: Continue reading

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Filed under All in the Family, Minnesota Nice, Taste and See

Better Together

Look what popped up in my The Eye of Facebook Sees All (Pro Tip: “On This Day”) today:

pacifier

Caption from 2013: “She’s really good at giving him his pacifier.”

Caption from 2016: “My babies! They were so little! And now they’re so big! They are so beautiful! I need to give them the biggest hugs tonight!”

Anyway.

I knew that I wanted to have a second child for my own selfish reasons. (Including, but not limited to, getting people to stop asking, “When are you going to have another one?”) I knew I would love reading and singing and talking and playing with our new baby. I knew I would love watching him learn and grow. I knew he would bring more joy, more wonder, more crazy into our lives.

I did not know– Continue reading

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Why I Vote with My Children

Voting in Brisbane, 1937

“Can vote?” Zoe asked at the supper table Monday night.

“Not yet. But you can come with me,” I said, sorry to crush her democratic dreams.

Luckily, she wasn’t crushed. Clearly, she knows the drill, because her next question was:

“Can I have your sticker?”

I said yes. And when Leo asked if he could come, too, of course I said yes again.

In the morning, our conversation went like this: Continue reading

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Sticktoitiveness

Ski Emblems Decorate Door of Donovans, an Apres Ski Spot 02/1974

“We have to be at the doctor’s office at 7:45,” I said to Mike Tuesday night.

“7:45 in the morning?” he asked. If he were a cartoon character his jaw would have been on the floor.

Even though the Cumings kids are early risers (and, Pro Tip, no respecters of Saturday mornings, either), actually leaving the house early in the morning is not exactly one of their spiritual gifts. So, when we pulled up to the clinic at 7:47 AM on Wednesday, I was pretty proud of all three of us.

The appointments went pretty well, too. No one was injured despite robust use of the exam table as a play space; no fingers were crushed in the frequent opening and closing of the exam room door; we spilled some Trix on the floor but didn’t crush any of it underfoot.

So I’m pretty sure I earned my reward:

super sticker

Yep: a sticker. We each got one, and each wore them proudly all day long. (Or until we led a prayer service at the funeral home, because, Pro Tip: stickers are not actually professional wear.)

In my first call, I sometimes awarded imaginary stickers to my confirmation students when they had a really great answer. For a really, really great answer you might even get a sparkly one. This was a surprisingly effective motivational tool.

"Turn Off the Damn Lights" Stickers Mirrored the Seriousness of the Energy Situation in Oregon During the Fall of 1973. This Sticker, in a Portland Business Office, Was Used in Newspaper Ads as Well as on Television, Billboards and Car Bumpers 10/1973

So, what can we learn from this?

1. Recognition matters. When we acknowledge the small victories and the everyday successes, it makes a difference. It makes us happy and proud and motivates us to keep on keeping on.

2. We need more stickers. While I was writing this post, I remembered that today is recycling day. I filled the bin and rolled it around to the front of the house exactly in time for the recycling truck to collect it. Sure, an empty recycling bin is its own reward. But you know what would be the perfect thing to commemorate this mundane achievement? A sticker.

Make it a sparkly one, please.


What motivates or inspires you?

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Filed under Learning Opportunities, Marvelous Miscellany

Big Words

Check out the books Zoe chose for bedtime last night:

books

First, let’s take a moment to appreciate the variety:

1. A wonderfully weird William Steig. In which a pig meets a talking bone. Why? I don’t know. As the bone says, “I didn’t make the world.”

2. A beautiful and interactive book about mixing colors. From the author of Press Here. Just delightful.

3. A lovely biography of Martin Luther King, Junior. Truly, the pictures are gorgeous and the text is, too. A great introduction to the Civil Rights movement for young readers.  Continue reading

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Filed under Book Report, Lord in Your Mercy