Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Mean Girls

Back in the Fall, Kylie started having trouble with one of the girls from her school. Let's call her GirlA. Last year at Kylie's same Montessori school, she had two best friends. One friend moved to a different school and the other friend moved out of state. When the new school year began, Kylie had to look for new friends.

She gravitated to two younger girls--GirlA and Girl B. GirlA was sweet and nice to Kylie at first. Then in November, things started to change. GirlA started playing with Kylie and then would suddenly say something like, "I never want to play with you again".

This confused Kylie. She would try to figure out what she had done to make GirlA feel this way. Kylie would try to sort it out with me. After several weeks of this behavior, I started telling Kylie that it sounded like GirlA was wishy-washy and maybe Kylie should play with other friends.

At this point, I truly didn't understand that cliques and groups had already formed. To make matters worse, GirlB started copying GirlA's behavior too.

Things came to a head when at the first of January, Kylie came home in tears. She told me about how she went from group to group of kids on the playground asking if she could play with them and no kids wanted to play with her. She spent the entire playground time trying to find someone. GirlA noticed this and at the end of playground time pointed at Kylie and said, "Ha, Ha! Kylie doesn't have any friends!" This made Kylie embarrassed, mad and sad. She later drew her first unhappy face in a drawing. She drew out the scenario.


Until now, I had approached the playground dynamics that Kylie had shared with me seriously (wanting to hear her share and validating her feelings and thoughts) yet also casually. I was shocked and surprised by the unexpected and complicated clique-y issues that surfaced. This was something I expected in middle school--not with my four year old!

Wanting to understand and take some action, I purchased this book (you've got to love the accessibility of the Kindle) and read half of it that night.

I learned about "yo-yo relationships where a close friend is often cruel or exclusionary one day and again best friends the next" and how "cruel words, silent treatment, exclusions, and backstabbing" are all forms of bullying.

I also read about active listening--a way to be attentive without imparting my feelings, values, judgments and advice. I know how to be an active listener but I honestly hadn't framed my relationship with Kylie that way. My time with her on this bullying issue had been to listen and repeat but also jump in with some advice to, I hoped, alleviate her pain and help her avoid future situations.

The next day I went out and bought this book in hard copy.

And Kylie and I sat down and read pages 45-49 on betrayal. And Kylie opened up about how GirlA and GirlB said all these mean things. As she talked, I had to keep biting my tongue and chant silently to myself, "Listen. Just listen." She would talk and then want me to read again and then she would talk some more.

My mind was reeling. I wanted to scream, "My baby is just four! FOUR! I can't believe she is having to go through this already!" But I kept listening and reading. The end of the American Girl case study story has the Kylie-character continuing to be nice to GirlA but also making other friends. GirlA had run out of chances to be Kylie's close friend. It made sense to Kylie. She decided she would make other friends.

It hasn't been easy. GirlA and GirlB want to lure her back. They say nice things to Kylie and play with her but in no time, they are back to saying mean words and excluding her. Over this month of January, Kylie has gotten over it. She's tired of their yo-yo behaviors. She tells me about other girls and boys she is playing with. When she shares with me about her playground time, I can tell things have gotten better. She shares funny stories instead of overly dramatic ones. She's calmer and happier. But she misses having "best" friends this year. She still misses her two best friends from last year and the carefree nature of their friendship.

And, as a side benefit, Kylie really uses the American Girl book. When she opens it up and brings it to me, she will show me a page with two friends who look unhappy with one another. She'll point to the picture and ask me about their story. I'll read it and then ask what is going on with her. The book has provided a way for us to talk about friendship troubles.

I'll end this long blog post with this. While sharing the story of GirlA and Kylie with different friends, I've been surprised at how many people nonchalantly shrug it off and say "Little girls are mean". I've been bombarded with advice such as "Kylie is just going to have to suck it up and toughen up" and "She'll learn to sink or swim" to "Demand that the school do something". The feedback has been all over the place.

I'm simply relieved that Kylie isn't coming to the car in tears and that I'm a little more prepared to hear about her friendship troubles. I see that my role is to empower Kylie, to role play or do whatever so that she feels strong and secure. I want to continue to strengthen my relationship with her, to be the great listener in her life not always the "know-it-all" Mommy, and to help her navigate the learning through social struggles.

Mostly, I'm very grateful that she shares so much of her day with me. I'm grateful we have the time from when school ends until bedtime to play together so that I can marinate her in lots of love.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Project Life Week 4

You can click on any picture to see the credits.
Project Life Week 4, Page 1
There were a lot of words to describe this past week. My journal cards were filled with tiny type.

The top row has a date card along a picture of Kylie playing her new sneak-up game at the park. The second row has Kylie showing off her flexible gymnastics moves, a picture and some journaling about her red envelope to celebrate the Chinese New Year, some journaling about Karen's travels this past week, and finally some journaling about the sneak-up game. The bottom row has a picture I snapped of Kylie playing with her wind-up toys (had to get on my belly to get that shot) and another picture from the day at the park.

Project Life Week 4 page 2
The second page has more park pictures on the top row. The second row has some pictures and journaling about my running and Karen's running. The second picture shows a scrape Kylie got on her temple. She ran into a tree at school trying to tag a boy before he reached base. There was a funny story associated with this accident that I wrote on a pull-out card and tucked in between the pictures. Because of the way the small card page protectors load, you can see the "pull me" brown tab just on page 1. Still, I'm glad I captured the story and like the "tuck it in" cards. There was so much text on this page 2 so I tried to off-set it with a bold block. I put the 37 to document how much Kylie weighs. The last picture on the 2nd row shows Kylie attending a movie night at her school.

The bottom row has a picture of Kylie displaying a mug with her handprint on it that she brought home from school and some pictures and journaling about the dragon masks Kylie and I colored and played with at home.

Project Life Week 4 Inserts
Each week, I pick 2-4 pieces of Kylie's artwork to keep with the Project Life pages. I put the artwork in either an 8.5 x 11 sheet protector and/or I usually mount some artwork onto a 12x12 piece of white cardstock. I have a rubber stamp for the journal lines and I make a point to write a few lines. The white 12x12 pages separate my project life week pages quite well. The page on the left has the red envelope I gave to Kylie on the front of the insert. On the back of the insert is this picture she colored of a dragon, adding fire and a tower to the page. The page on the right is a beautiful and colorful fish she made in aftercare.

Project Life Week 4, insert back
Kylie brought home new school work in this week's folder. In her class, she has a lesson were she matches a word with a picture and then writes the word on a slip of paper. These were just some of the many slips of paper she brought home. My darling one can't wait until she gets a journal like the ones the kindergarden students use for this type of work. I also included a very cheerful flower she colored for this week's work around the letter F.

And that's it for another week of Project Life!
If you want to see other Project Life Projects, see
Ali Edwards blog
Big Picture Classes Gallery
The Mom Creative

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Jumping the ditch

Kylie has a new game she likes to play at the playground. She likes to cross this mostly dry ditch and try her best to seem nonchalant.

Then she likes to S-N-E-A-K up towards me

then run close to me, but not within tickle range...

as we both race for base (tree).

Some times I catch her and tickle her. Other times, she makes it to base. As soon as she lets go of the tree, we race back towards the ditch. Only kids can jump the ditch to the kid-zone.

It's a fun game for us both!

Today's base tree had two boys high up in it. This is the face of a tomboy who hasn't yet learned to climb trees.

But a few more games of chase had her smiling again.


Monday, January 23, 2012

Chinese New Year

Happy Chinese New Year--the Year of the Dragon. I had read that it is traditional to give a red envelope to your children on this special day. I couldn't find any Chinese red envelopes here in Florida. So I whipped up a photo in Photoshop and glued it onto a red envelope I had on hand.
And after school Kylie was thrilled to open it and see her gift. My kiddo loves to get money.


To show her gratitude, Kylie colored this picture for me. I love the castle she added and the fire coming from the dragon.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Project Life Week 3

Click on the photo to see the credits.
Project Life Week 3, Page 1
This page documents:
our recent letterboxing trip,
the funny photo I took of Karen teaching Kylie subtraction,
a picture of Kylie with a blue heart sticker on her lips along with journaling about Grandpa getting a smartphone,
and a picture of sweet Kylie in the tub.

Project Life Week 3, Page 2 and insert front
The second page documents:
the three cards Kylie and I made to send to our family in TN,
Kylie on a cat statue taken at Atlantic Beach town center,
Karen & Kylie playing together "Where's My Water" on the iPad,
a picture of Kylie sick in bed on Friday (she missed school due to a tummyache),
and our recent trip to the beach. I included some additional beach photos on an insert page.

Project Life Week 3, insert back and clue sheet
And on the back of the insert page, I put more letterboxing photos and the letterbox clue sheet.

Saturday night was one of those nights I just couldn't sleep. So I stayed up past midnight working to put the pages together. It's hard when insomnia hits but there is something magical about getting creative when the house is quiet with everyone sleeping.

Friday, January 20, 2012

{this moment} Counting

{this moment} - a Friday ritual. A photo capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Karen using her fingers and TOES to show Kylie how to calculate 14-9.


This moment posts are inspired by SouleMama's Friday posts.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

One of my favorite sounds

One of my favorite sounds is listening to Karen and Kylie playing games together while I'm in another part of the house. Their voices and laughs rise and fall like ocean waves. I adore it. I like to sneak in and listen more closely. And every once in a while, I'll snap a picture.

Like this one of my girls playing marbles.

And this one as they play their new iPad obsession: Where's my water

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Don't hate us because we live in Florida

What do we do when it is 75º and we have half a loaf of stale bread?

We go to the beach and feed the gulls!





Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Project Life Week 2

Click on any image to see the credits.
PL Week 2 Page 1

Page 1 has a picture of me, my Dad & Kylie the day we drove home from Orlando
a picture of Kylie checking out her books at the library,
a picture of Karen wearing her new computer progressive glasses,
a picture of Kylie opening the presents we got her at Disney,
and some journaling about Kylie putting worms in the edible garden at her school.
I really want to incorporate more handwriting in this year's Project Life. It's easy for me to write on her art pages because I have to write small. Writing "big" intimidates me, like on the card next to the picture of Karen's glasses. I wrote that card 4 times. The first 3 times the handwriting looked like a cross between a child's writing and that of a hurried doctor.

PL Week 2 Page 2
This page has lots of little "bits". On the blue card, there is some journaling about the fact that Kylie had her eyes checked at school and that she had a visit from "Officer Friendly" from the police department at her school. I took a picture of Kylie and added some journaling about her haircut. I included a part of the envelope with the "intent to re-enroll forms" from her school. I love having a place to put movie ticket stubs; these were from the Alvin & The Chipmunks- Chipwrecked movie, and lastly the descriptive cover from our new set of our favorite sheets.

PL Week 2 insert front
I included this information sheet from her vision screening.

PL Week 2, insert back and art page
On back of the insert, I put in a piece of Kylie's artwork. "G" was the letter of the week and she brought home pictures of goats, groceries (including this food pyramid) and a goose (on the back page not pictured here).

If you want to see other Project Life Projects, see
Ali Edwards blog
Big Picture Classes Gallery
The Mom Creative

Letterbox at Fort Caroline Park

Today, we made our second letterbox experience.

Letterboxing is "an intriguing pastime combining navigational skills and rubber-stamp artistry in a treasure-hunt style outdoor quest." Our first letterbox experience was in February 2009 when we lived in Portland Oregon.

I found today's letterbox through atlasquest. We started at Fort Caroline National Memorial Park.

We took the trail behind the visitor's center. Then we followed the signs to the fort and played there for a while.


Then we followed the nature trail just a short distance. Following the clues, we passed the #3 ecology sign and took 27 paces. We were told to look for an old stump on the left. Kylie saw it right away.
Behind the tree you see in the right of the picture, there was a fallen timber. The letterbox was hidden under some moss under the timber.
The box had two stamps--an owl and a teacher. These were beautiful hand-carved stamps. We stamped them into our book and then stamped our three-star stamp into the box's visitor's book. Karen wrote a note in the book and Kylie signed her name.


On our return trip to the car, we stopped and chucked rocks into the River of May, making Karen laugh and shake her head at how horribly Kylie and I throw. It was a fun family afternoon.
letterboxing_River May_011612_006.jpg

Monday, January 16, 2012

Bird feeder

Earlier in January, when my Mom was visiting, we made pine cone bird feeders. We smeared peanut butter into the crevices of pine cones and then poured birdseed over the cones.


And then we hung the new feeders from the trees in our backyard.

I'm happy to announce that the birds have found our feeders! Whenever Kylie sees a bird eating the birdseed, she lets out the most delightful squeal and then runs to consult the bird guide she got for Christmas. She dutifully looks at every page until she finds the bird she saw.

After she finds it, she copies the name of the bird into her journal along with the date she saw it. So far she has seen Northern Cardinals, a White-Eyed Vireo, and a Northern Mockingbird at her feeders. She has also seen Canadian Geese and Mallard Ducks flying overhead.

I love her enthusiasm for the birds and her scientific approach to recording them.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Project Life week one

I started using the Project Life Scrapbooking method back in August 2011 in the hopes that it would help me catch up on my digital scrapbooking from 2010. Well, I'm still behind on finishing 2010's pages (still slowly working on it!) but I've fallen in love with using the Project Life system.

So I'm tickled to have my new 2012 Project Life album. And I plan on sharing my pages here on the blog. Some of the photos and stories are ones you've seen here on the blog. But I think you'll see some new ones too. Click on any image to see the credits.
PL Week 1 Page 1
Because of the way I keep Kylie's artwork each week, I find it best to use a "front and back" page method for each week rather than the usual "left and right" method so many others use. On this page, I documented our 34º temperatures early in the week, my last week of marathon training, a sweet picture of Karen and Kylie on the couch together, along with a bold 2012 card.

PL Week 1 Page 2
On this page, I wrote about Grandpa's visit along with photos Grandpa and his girls and of the banana pudding Kylie and I made for him (his favorite dessert). There are also pictures of us at the park and some smaller cut-out pieces of Kylie's artwork.

PL Week 1 Insert front
This was a piece of artwork that had a great story attached to it. I printed the story on an 8.5x11 piece of paper and attached the picture.
Grandpa called us on Saturday because one of Kylie's shows on Netflix got hung up and wouldn't play. He called us and left a message. Then he put in one of Kylie's DVDs. Kylie, who was put out by this, decided to draw out the story. In this picture, Kylie is on the left (with a frown) sitting on "wiggle worm". Grandpa with his long hair is standing in front of the tv and on the phone to us. Kylie, this is so very you to draw out this story.

PL Week 1 Artwork insert
Each week, I pick 2-4 pieces of Kylie's artwork to keep. I put them in either 8.5x11 inserts or I glue it to a 12x12 piece of white cardstock. I use a black stamp I got at my local scrapbook store as guiding lines to make notes about her work.

Left insert: Colorbox work from Kylie's Montessori school.
Right: "E" was the letter of the week in Kylie's Aftercare class. Kylie made this elephant fashioned after the Elmer book by David McKee.

That's it for week one!

If you want to see other Project Life Projects, see
Ali Edwards blog
Big Picture Classes Gallery
The Mom Creative

Grandpa's breakfast


Grandpa was with us from 1/4 to 1/10. We had a wonderful visit. Each afternoon, we went to a different park. Karen and I left for Orlando on Saturday morning and Grandpa took care of Kylie by himself on Saturday, Sunday, and took her to school on Monday morning.

My favorite story from that weekend happened on Sunday morning. Grandpa toasted two waffles for Kylie but couldn't find our maple syrup. He offered Kylie honey or jelly, both of which she refused. So he then offered her chocolate syrup. She, of course, LOVED it. Grandpa is officially awesome in Kylie's book.


Thursday, January 12, 2012

Race videos and pictures

Hi everyone!

I've got some marathon videos and race pictures from the official race photographers. I'm thrilled to get both!

Cinderella Castle
To see me, look for the women in the pink and green tutus. These were the "tutu girls" I blogged about earlier. I'm tickled to have them in this video because they were the only two that I stayed with for the whole race. I'm behind them and I'm out of view after 13 seconds. I'm running downhill and it shows in my stride but at least I'm smiling at this point.

Hollywood Studios
I remember running through Hollywood Studios (around miles 22-23) but I don't even remember the huge Mickey Wizard hat. I was so drawn into myself and putting one foot in front of the other. Yeesh, this video is hard to watch. I'm just shuffling at this point and you can see me start to limp. I'm out of view after 10 seconds.

Finish Line
The finish line is great to watch! Makes me grin every time I see it. I'm running right down the middle and I raise my hands up right after they say my name.



Giving a thumbs up here.