The Art of Play

My husband is ‘the funny one’.  And, as a dad, he qualifies as ‘the fun one’ too.  Truly.  He is the one that has always made the funny voices and faces. So much so, that my small people are virtually professional at mimicking his face. And, honestly, they’ve been doing it since they were itty-bitty.

I would say, ‘smile!’ as I prepped for a picture (an important one mind you – like Pres-School Graduation) and this is what I would get.  This face is his standard.  It is now a version of his standard and her standard as well.

And we never, ever, take family pictures without a ‘funny one’ or a ‘silly one’ included.  Photographers – take note – this may be the virtual key that unlocks the perfect family photo – promise a silly picture.

Here’s the thing…. it is my small people (and my husband) who have brought out this silly side, this fun side, this dare-I-say funny side in me.  Children come by laughter and play so very easily.  It seems as though I had truly forgotten that this passion for play lay buried deep within me.  In the past eight years, I have re-learned the art of spontaneous running, jumping, face-making and true belly-laughing.

But it hasn’t been without prodding.  It hasn’t been without the pulling of little hands.  It hasn’t been without the willingness to find that within myself. And it definitely hasn’t been without witnessing the joy my children find in the everyday and in the toys that helped them grow.  A few months ago, I started working with Fisher Price and I have been reminded all over again how integral some of these toys can be to play, to development and truly, to simple joy.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Champion Olympic Gymnast Nastia Liukin about her partnership with Fisher Price to release Fantastic Gymnastics Dora….and I kept thinking how much fun a doll like that would be for a young gymnast.

Even now, as I see some of the latest toys… the opportunity for dancing, for learning, for interacting with apps…. I’m amazed at the possibilities.  Children are surrounded by opportunities to expand their play – and even better – parents receive the encouragement so many of them need to get down on their hands and knees to observe and join in.

For me, it was the ability to see what what happening behind their eyes, to recognize the connection behind their senses and their smile that truly tapped in to my art of play.

This weekend, we are taking our play to a whole new level.  We are joining Fisher Price and Royal Caribbean on a Cruise in the Western Caribbean.  The list of things that bring me joy about this experience are long, but what I, and I assume, many people don’t know is that Fisher Price and Royal Caribbean partner to make these cruises as family friendly as possible. The Little People Fisher Price are so well known for are visible throughout the ship, from the dining experience to classes, from Little People Parties and Shows to the Nursery.  In addition, a Toy Lending Library is available for families with children aged 6-36 months.  Parents can borrow toys to keep little minds occupied and growing with play while on the ship.

I am definitely excited to continue sharing the evolution of my personal ‘Art of Play’ journey with you.  I will try not to embarrass myself too much :)

How do you want to be celebrated on Mother’s Day?

The celebration of Motherhood, for me, is wrapped up in the tiny details – it is in the dandelions clutched in tiny fists, presented to me as Royal flowers, it is the unexpected, “Mommy?….  I love you.” from the quiet of the backseat of the car… it is the smile I can’t hide when one of the small people holds the door open for someone or says, ‘thank you’ without a prompt….  It is in hearing the small dude say he can’t wait to be at the same school as his sister so he can hug her at recess or the small girl congratulate her brother on a school project.  Individually, these moments are but grains of sand gathering on the shore of my life as a mother…  but collected?

They mean I am doing something right.

And THAT is worth celebrating.

In the sea of guilt that threatens, some days, to take me down, it matters to me to know there are moments, there are glimpses and golden reminders.

I know, for some mothers – being celebrated on Mother’s Day means a ‘day off’ – heading to the spa, a massage, a pedicure, no laundry…..  and for others, it means to be surrounded by family.  It seems to me that both age and the length of time you have been a mother factor in to your preferences here.  As a brand new mom – you are enamored by all things motherhood…. You wouldn’t dream of spending your first Mother’s Day without the being who made you so….  When you are in the throes of the crazy – the taxi driving, the soccer games, the PTA, the homework, the 9 year old or teen angst – you can’t seem to help but scream for the Calgon but as your children begin to develop a sense of their own lives….  Distancing themselves naturally, you long to grab them by the shoulder and pull them back.

I know, if it was up to my mom – we would be with her from sunrise to sunset.  But I have friends who would be happy with breakfast in bed and a day off.

For me….  I think I fall somewhere in the middle.  Now, don’t go accusing me of being wishy-washy.  I want to spend time with my small people.  I want to be surrounded by everything that reminds me of the joy of being a mom – I want to be hugged a million times – I want smiles and little-bitty hands curled in mine – I want eyes that look at me – still somehow sure I have the answers. – I want my children to get along…. AND I don’t want to do the laundry or make dinner.

So there.

Who’s with me?  How would you like to be celebrated on Mother’s Day?

This Mother’s Day conversation is sponsored by a company I love (and use!) Tiny Prints.  I love that they have given me some beautiful things to think about as Mother’s Day approaches.  All of their Mother’s day cards(and Father’s day cards too!) are fully customizable and can be sent straight to the recipient. You can even schedule the cards to be sent ahead of time too.


Where my heart is….

My small people?  They are wise.

Too wise.

Wise enough to recognize my absence and brave enough to pretend it is all ok.

But I can see we are wading into new territory.  I’ve traveled before.  Three days here.  The odd weekend there…  but never like this.  Never gone more than I am home.  For a while when I only traveled three days in a two month period, they would whine and moan, attaching themselves vise-like to my ankles.  I would drag us both down the stairs fearing one wrong move and we would all tumble.  And I’d end up with a broken hip.

Now that I’m traveling – sometimes a week at a time, they comfort each other and it is their silence that speaks to me.  It is the joy in their eyes searching for recognition, for love, for placement in mine…. this is what I hear echoing in my ears even when they don’t say a word.  It is the enthusiasm of a first goal hooted and high-fived as I hop in the car from the airport…

It is the, “Mommy-will-you-tie-my-shoe-get-me-some-milk-look-at-this-picture-I-made-you-HOLD-MY-HAND-fix-my-ponytail-carry-my-soccer-ball-LOOK-AT-ME-read-me-a-story-dance-with-me-pet-the-puppy-TELL-ME-YOU-LOVE-ME….”  that screams to me….

And I hear them.  Not in my head.

But in my heart.

I hear them.  I hold them.

When I arrived home yesterday, I didn’t answer my phone.  I didn’t shoot you a quick email.  I didn’t even plug in my computer for the first 6 hours I was here.  Because I wasn’t really here.

I was waaaaayyyyy over here.

And I like it over here.  It is soft.  And warm.  And full of giggles and light, goodness and heart.

If home is where the heart is?  Well….  my home is wrapped tightly between a small girl with freckles and brown curls and a spunky blond dude prone to yelling, “hugs, Momma!”

He said, She said

If you have more than one child – and both of those children are of a speaking age – you will likely understand my life.

Delaney is 5.  Cooper is 3.

Apparently, their recent birthdays were the trigger for constant squabble.

He says, “I see an airplane.”

She says, “That’s not an airplane.”

“Yes it is.” “No its not”

And so on.

She sings, “The sun’ll come OUUUUUUT…..”, He sings louder. 

She says, “Sttooooooppp it!!” And he turns the volume up even more.

They argue over who has seen the most imaginary tractors out their car windows, who is standing too close to whom, who gets to close the car door, the refrigerator door and the door to the house.

They battle about flushing the toilet, sitting on my lap, eating their cereal and who is ‘the tallest’.

They yank toys from each other’s hands, yell, ‘that’s mine!”, ignore requests for peace and tackle instead and have even resorted to a little pushing and shoving.

And right when I think my head might explode, I hear, “Come here, Buddy, do you want me to read to you?” or “Damey, can I sleep in your bed tonight?  I love you.”

And I remember I must be doing something (small) right.

Sticking Together

So, I am learning.

Each day is giving me a new opportunity for amazing life experiences. Today has been no exception.  From the minute I woke up this morning until these last few moments I type, this crazy, small world story about our family picture ending up in another country has been *almost* the top of my mind.

*Almost* because nothing can ever truly edge my family out of  their ‘first place’ slot. And today’s chaos certainly lobbied to be the winner.

But  all I have to do it look around.  My husband spent his entire day at my side – helping to navigate our way through the inquiries and requests.

And…..right now….

Snuggled together just to my left are the two small people who bring me the most joy and make my life an adventure.  Delaney has her four year old arm tucked protectively around Coop because we are in a new and strange place. 

We are in New York City to visit CBS’s The Early Show first thing in the morning.

I know this will all die down, and when it does, we will still be the same family we were 2 weeks ago: We will still play baseball in the house, read to the kids every day, laugh through bath time, enjoy Friday night Family dinner dates and sit together for bed time prayers.

We will still stick together.  We will still be us.

I hope, if you see us – or if you have seen any of the media on this story – you can recognize that my family means the world to me.

They show me every day what it means to love, they remind me how good it feels to belly laugh and how grateful I am we wake up in the same home together every day.

Speak Now For Kids

Just about 2 months ago, I said out loud, “We’re so lucky, Delaney has never been in the hospital.”

Well, you know how that works, right?  Say it, forget to knock on wood – well, I might as well have requested a bed in the Emergency Room.  After 5 full days of a fever 101-103 and a negative flu swab, we felt compelled to visit our pediatrician.

Based on the sweet girl’s fever, chapped lips, swollen tongue, convunctivits in her eyes, and overall crabbiness, we were given a one-way ticket to Children’s Hospital for fear of Kawasakis disease.  I knew next to nothing about Kawasakis beyond the briefing our doctor gave – if Delaney had the disease, we had a finite period of time in which to treat her – otherwise there is the potential of serious heart problems – and she had never seen a child not fully recover, but couldn’t make promises.

Delaney is fine.  She didn’t have Kawasakis.  A second flu swab came up positive.

It was my job during this scary time to Speak Up for my daughter. Sadly – not all children have a voice, but a new campaign is aimed at changing that – the goal – to make sure kid’s voices are heard when health care reform decisions are being made.

Add your voice  (upload a video) to the conversation – some videos will be shown to members of Congress.

Speak Now for Kids.  Visit.  Speak.  Share.