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    Chiropractor Mama Dr. Dolly and professional photographer Elisa B. share about adventures in intentional and natural parenting while living in Virginia's beautiful Blue Ridge.
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Hippo the Potamus

My son is so into animals or “am-i-nam-als,” as he often pronounces them.  When we sing “The Wheels on the Bus” song, we often add our own verses.

My almost two and one-half-year-old comes up with verses about dinosaurs roaring, bears opening doors, and sharks eating turtles…all on the bus, of course.

Then, he gets even more creative about naming every animal he can remember–he would’ve been a great adjutant for Noah, because this kid’s a walking encyclopedia of animal names, even if the pronunciation is just a little unusual, yet totally perceptible, and extremely cute.

My favorite: hippo the potamus!

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The other night, he was in the bath tub and lying on his belly.  While splashing as much water on the floor as was once in the tub, I asked if he was a shark.

Calvin said, “I’m a panda bear.”

Of course.

*Photo by Bob P&S via Flickr photostream.

Whites or Brights?

This weekend, we’re discussing learning by living…one of the best teachers of all time.

Since our son could confidently walk and understand instruction (that happens much earlier than the walking), we’ve encouraged him to take part in helping out around the home.

There are times when I’m the sole person picking up a bunch of toys on the floor, but usually, my son is eager to do this task with me or on his own.  He races as fast as he can to put away his toy cars and trains.

Sometimes we make it a game…

The incentive may be to pick up the toys before an even more fun event occurs, such as helping me in the kitchen with dinner.

Besides picking up toys, Calvin learned to put his dirty clothes (and sometimes clean clothes) in the laundry hamper.

When I ask, or often without prompting, he’ll throw away paper bits or other rubbish into the nearest trash can.

Not that I’m particularly fond of this activity, but after he goes into his potty (after repeatedly see his daddy and me dump it into the toilet), he also has taken the initiative to dump the contents.  At first, I objected because that left a much greater mess for me to clean.

Now, I let him do it…and he seldom spills a drop.  He’s got the pour down perfectly.

The more household chores and tasks he sees us do, the more he wants to do them, too.  For our son, work is fun, and it’s not a chore.  Sure, I have to oversee some of his activities, and often I have a bigger mess to clean up than if he’d never got involved, but he’s learning and appreciating everything from preparing snacks and meals to taking out the trash.

I realize the day will come when he no longer considers these things fun, but for now, I love watching him grow in independence and confidence enjoying the things that need to be done.  It’s such fun for us as a family!

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Jokingly, I tell my husband that I yearn for the day when our son will do his own laundry (since I have an infinite pile of washing or folding to do almost every day—it never ends!).

Well, that day has arrived.

I’d asked Calvin to drag the laundry hamper to the laundry room.  Not only was he having a blast pulling it along the tile floor, but he proceeded to pull out each article of dirty clothing to show me and name it.  Uhm, yeah, thanks for holding up Mommy’s dirty socks.  That’s great! (and so on, and so forth).

When I checked on him, I realized the hamper wasn’t nearly as full as it was when I handed it to him.  Sure enough, he was busy loading up the washer with everything. His big brown hooded moose towel, and my white athletic socks.

I didn’t undo his efforts in front of him.  Rather, his daddy and I both clapped and praised him for doing such an awesome big boy task.  I lauded him for being a great Mommy’s helper.  (Later on, when he was busy doing something else, I pulled the whites out of the washer load and started the wash cycle).

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Confession: There are times when I’d rather he didn’t help me in the kitchen (most of the time), and when I’m folding laundry, he’s jumping on the piles or “putting it away” by dumping a stack of clothes into a basket in his closet.

In my mind, I calculate the amount of time it will take me to fix the mess.  Some days, I’m not a calm and relaxed mommy, and I get a little uptight about the extra “work”.  Other days (and I wish this was my attitude all the time), I enjoy watching my son learn and grow and find that far more valuable than sweeping up spilled buckwheat flour on the kitchen floor.

YOUR TURN: What’s your approach to picking up your child’s toys?  Do you do all of it?  Do you “race” with your child and make it a fun game?  Do you offer a reward?  In what other ways do you involve your child for household tasks?

Wordless Wednesday: Dino Dental Hygiene

Dino Dental Hygiene2 TwB

Dino Dental Hygiene TwB…because dinosaurs need a good tooth-brushing, too!

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Wordless Wednesday: Boy with the Red Balloon

Calvin and his balloon

Calvin and his balloon

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One of those days

My son woke us up at 5:30 AM and he never fell back asleep–meaning I never really did either.  I’ve been super grouchy mommy all morning.  I grumbled through morning prayers over breakfast because I was SO-exhausted-not-gonna-survive-another-night-of-interrupted-sleep-or-i’ll-SCREAM!

Then, my son kept smiling and laughing…ever trying to coax me to lighten up.

Next, I spent at least 30 minutes making the bed [when it should have taken less than 5].  Someone (who shall remain Nameless) crawled beneath EVERY single layer of bedding while I tried to make the bed.

I relented.  We laughed, played peek-a-boo, and Nameless undid every hospital corner, and wrinkled every bit of smoothness on the sheets.  When it was all said and done, it looked as though I’d never even made the bed.  (Why did I bother?)  Obviously the laughter wasn’t enough to enliven my grumpiness.

At breakfast, I told my husband I was 1) tired, 2) hungry, and 3) grumpy.

He remarked, “Not necessarily in that order.”

After my husband left for his job interview, I tried rather unsuccessfully to get something done.  Just one thing.  Dishes. Laundry.  Well, that stuff doesn’t count when I’ve got posts, press releases, and thank you cards to write.  Right?

Well a certain Nameless encouraged me to dance with him while some lively tracks were spinning on the CD player.  Somehow, that lifted my mood just a wee bit.

Later, Nameless gave his stuffed dinosaur a drink of water from his sippy cup.  I couldn’t help but smile at his imaginary play.

At this very moment, he’s walking around in my beach crocs and using my martial arts bamboo fighting sticks as his walking sticks.

Some days I’ve just gotta learn to go with the flow and laugh.  Flex or break–those are the options.

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Playground Fun

Calvin’s physical skills have advanced considerably since the spring, when I first took him to the big kids playground.

Initially, he was a little timid.  He’d NEVER go down the slide without Mama or Daddy.

But, he’s almost two, and things have changed with this little climber…Climbing at the Playground (19 seconds) from drgarnecki on Vimeo.

Once he ascended the ladder, he announced greetings in English and Chinese.

Nei Hao (10 seconds) from drgarnecki on Vimeo.

Just in case you’re not a video fan, here’s a couple of my favorite snapshots from this afternoon.

tunnel editPeering at Mama in the tunnel

swing2 editGetting Daddy kisses on the swing

slide2 editSerious slide fun

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Attention-craving hug monger

It’s been almost non-stop with house guests for 2 weeks.  Steve’s parents blazed through for a few nights on their way down to Florida for a conference.  Two days later, my dear friend Dr. DeJeanne came into town from New Orleans to visit and to get intensive scoliosis treatment.  Then, Steve’s parents came back into town on their way up to Pennsylvania.  The result: Calvin’s used to much more attention from folks other than just Mommy and Daddy.

He’s going through attention withdrawal.  In fact, he started crying when he saw Grandpa pack up his suitcases into the vehicle.  He knew he was leaving without him, and that broke his little heart.

I was able to momentarily distract him by whisking him off to church with me so he could drive push pedal cars and play with his homies in the church nursery while I was at Bible study.  However, once he awoke from his afternoon nap, it was all downhill after that.  No amount of bananas or grapes could keep him happy.

Actually, I was at the office this afternoon working with a patient (we typically don’t see patients on Wednesdays).  Steve was going to join me to help, but the weather was nice, and his arborist skills were still in demand.  So, I was juggling new patient intake while listening to a very, very upset toddler who just wanted to be held, and he was quite mad that I was paying attention to someone else.

Daddy saved the day and called to tell me he was home from work.  I asked him to get to the office ASAP to rescue Calvin who was having grandparent withdrawal.

Steve’s timely appearance quickly stifled anymore yelps and red faced howls of desperation (which is only to be expected when one is missing his grandparents and really wants Mommy all to himself. RIGHT NOW.)

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Just to recap on the most amazing weekend ever.  We went hiking on Sunday. Only three miles from our home.  Just THREE short  miles to Ragged Mountain Trails in Charlottesville.

img_4946

It was a short skip away, and I suddenly felt I was away from it all.  The calm, cool lake and hilly backdrop of leafless, matchstick trees left me reminiscing for the serenity of the Northwest.  But, Virginia boasts a rugged beauty that left me breathless.

img_4950We spied swimming salamanders, blue gill, turtles, and ancient hearths.

img_4960Calvin can point to the camera on cue.

img_4973Behold.  The perfect setting for a 68 degree Sunday afternoon hike.

img_50101We found an ancient hearth that had some pretty solid masonry.  It did give us a fun window for photos.

img_5016Just for some sizing perspective on these cool ruins, check out Steve and Calvin to the left of the hearth.

We had a decent hike for some steep terrain.  Calvin even managed to clear some large logs on the trail.  Next time, we’d like to try it with a backpack carrier for our toddler instead of the Daddy arm carrier method.