Sunday, August 28, 2005

Morning at the Bird Sanctuary

This morning the kids and I got up and went to the bird sanctuary a few towns over. I loaded up the double jogger and hustled the kids in the car. M already had her morning dump so there was no need for diapers or wipes, sweet.
We got to the sanctuary and asked about trails at the office. I let L do most of the talking. The woman behind the desk spoke to her as if she were an adult. It was refreshing. We got instructions on several trails and headed out. Our parting instructions were: "Look for Godzilla the snapping turtle at the Rock pond!"
We hiked down a rock trail and got to the first marsh. It was gorgeous. I put the older kids up on my shoulders one at a time and had them gaze out on the expanse of reeds and flowers.
"What a beautiful view. " Exclaimed T(4). I believe that quote sunk in after I have uttered it hundreds of times.
We continued on the trail. Each child would take turns in the carriage. When we got to the Rock pond we stopped and began looking for Godzilla. As we looked out on the pond two gargantuan blue herons soared into the pond from the heavens. The sight was so surreal that my breathing stopped.
The scene had the same effect on T: "Look! Two pterodactyls!" T exclaimed.
I did feel as if I had been transported back to the Jurassic period. There was something very nice about being alone with the kids in nature. I felt we had a much deeper connection than at the zoo where things are a little too hustle and bustle.
"Yeah, it looks like a Pteradon." Exclaimed L (5.5 yrs.) "The P is silent or it would sound like a Pa-Teradon" she proudly explained.
"That's brilliant L!" I exclaimed. "I didn't know you knew so much about silent letters."
L beamed. "And T, I feel like we are Chomper, Little Foot and Sara in the Land Before Time. Are those Petrie's parents out there?"
"Your imagination is great dad." Replied T.
I broke into hysterics at the whole conversation. We all laughed and headed to the rock ledge. I let the kids climb around on some pretty treacherous terrain. They handled it great. We had a ball.
We made it out to the beaver dam and then it was time for daddy to head back for his afternoon golf tournament with Uncle B. (We came in second and played out of our minds.)
It was another miraculous morning with the little angels.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Planting the garden.

On Monday morning I was heading into work:
"T, we can bring the flowers out back and plant them tonight."
"I already brought 2 of them out back, dad."
I looked over at the plants and he had indeed brought two of them around the house. He was as excited about this project as I was. He spent and hour with me 2 weeks ago weeding the entire area. We also spent time telling bedtime stories about how we were going to plant a garden. I guess he was excited.
"Thanks T! I gave him a huge hug and a kiss."
T smiled: "I will did some holes too dad."
Sure enough, when I got home, T (4 yrs.) had dug two holes with his plastic hand shovel.
Great job T.
L was also very excited about the garden.
I explained to the kids that I needed to put the plants in the back of the garden, because we needed to grind out a stump in the front of the garden.
"Guys, the stump grinding machine will crush our flowers if we plant them near the stump. We need to plant in the back."
No argument from the troops. I brought out some peat moss and while I dug, the kids brought handfuls of peatmoss over and mixed it in with the dirt. M (1.5 yrs) was also part of this assembly line. It was totally adorable. She was head to toe dirt.
The kids watched and got very excited if we hit a rock or a root.
"Get the pick axe, daddy!" Shouted L.
With a couple of swings I would remove the obstruction.
All 3 of the kids worked with a passion. Running up the hill to get more peat and dumping it in the hole. I tried to give as little direction as possible and let their creativity run wild.
After the last mum was in I said: "Time for the water."
L and T sprinted for the hose.
"You hold the hose and I'll turn it on." Suggested L.
"OK." Agreed T.
T watered the flowers for a few mintutes and then began watering, M. M did not mind too much. She may have realized how dirty she was.
Bath time was a little stressful that night because the gardening had made us late. I needed to breathe deeply many times as the kids lost their focus many times during the nighttime routine. We were able to make it through with no yelling, however.
When I put T down he asked for his story.
"T, remember when we read about Rabbit in Winnie the Pooh? We said we were going to make a garden like his someday? Well we did it, man! We weeded the garden, put up fence posts, bought the plants, dug the holes and watered the plants. We did it T! We made a garden! How do you feel?"
"Good." Replied T with a big smile.
I hugged him again and said goodnight. I read L a short story and tucked her in and headed out for a run.
Any activity can be turned into a heavenly adventure with the kids. T has spent several hours of focused time creating his garden. I am really proud of him and L for thier hard work.

Working on the garden.

The oldest 2 and I went to the flower store today to get some flowers for our garden. We missed vegetable season, but I wanted us to have the experience of getting some flowers in our garden.
We went to the store and waited for 20 minutes while the owner helped other customers with their flower arrangements. The kids played with the store's humongous tabby cat. Then we looked for a Bhudda statue for the garden. L kept looking at the cut roses and begged for some of them. I told her I would consider it, after we had met our original objective of getting flowers for the garden.
We all went out back and checked out some mums and other perenials. I let the kids pick out 2 flowers each. When we got back I allowed the kids to also pick out some roses. L pleaded for 5 roses and I thought that was reasonable, but T got to pick the color of 2 of them. L picked red and T picked white. Mommy was very excited to see those when we got home. But L was quick to point out: "Those flowers are for the whole family." I am not sure if mommy is used to sharing her flowers, yet:)
I was excited to get the flowers in the ground, but it was too hot. I did not want to overwork the kids and ruin an amazing morning, so we headed to aunt L's pool. Nighttime brought the concert in the park. It was and amazing day.
I am always amazed at how well the kids do in stores. We look around, but they are gentle with things. They understand the word "fragile". When we engage each other and tell stories and ask questions the time flies by.

Building self esteem at the park.

L was jumping from apparatus to apparatus at the park. She was zipping around on a huge wheel that was suspended in the air. Her feet scraped against the ground and she began screaming:
"Daddy help!!!"
I knew she was not in pain and that this was some sort of game. I bristled at the loud noise and prepared for another shout.
"What is it love?" I asked.
"My feet hit the ground! I don't want my feet to touch the ground! Help Me!" L half whined and half screached.
The pitch sent shivers down my spine, but I took a deep breath and tried to help.
"L, I will be glad to help, but let me get into the game. Please do not yell at me. I do not yell at you."
"Alright, daddy."
She got back up on a balance beam and began to tip towards me. I extended a hand that she could grab if she needed it. She chose to take it, and smiled. She was grateful to have her game continue.
She jumped up on the monkey bars and then up and over them. She slid across the zip wire and landed on a platform. She jumped for the wheel again and spun almost entirely around. The tip of her toe was almost touching the platform when she started drifting slightly back.
I nudged the wheel and gave L just enough momentum to make it back to the platform. She looked back at me and smiled a huge smile. The next time she made it through the whole obstacle course without touching the ground with no help from daddy. We gave each other a huge hug.

I could have snapped at L or ignored her requests for help. It would have been easy the way that she asked for it. I was thankful that I was able to breathe deeply and get through to a deeply rewarding experience for both of us. That is much better than an argument.