Thoreau-ly wonderful day

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, 
to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.
Henry David Thoreau

It is so tempting to keep the nose to the grind stone.  To attack the never ending chores.  To let the kids stay indoors.  Without a scheduled invite, it seems monumental to carve out a chunk of time just for enjoyment.  Yesterday at 9:30am, Jake and I realized that we needed to jump in the car RIGHT NOW or else the day would pass between chores, meals, naps, crabbiness  etc.  We spent 3 hours hiking through the forest, finding hidden gems and enjoying time together.  As we packed our sleeping children back in the car, we couldn't help but congratulate ourselves.  Our kids got to explore, experience, learn names of trees and sounds of animals... no TV show or "educational" toy can compare!


Early Warning Signs of Future Rock Climbers

I'd like to say "don't try this at home", but as you will soon see... this is what is happening at MY home.  I fear/ anticipate/ excitedly await that this is JUST THE BEGINNING (in fact, I don't have pictures of what these 1.5 & 3 year old girls yesterday with a tree stand... and we're heading to the site of some of the best rock climbing on the east coast in a few short weeks.  Oh my... )

STEP 1:  Acclimate your children to heights at a very early age

Crater Lake vacation 025
2 month old Hazel camping at Crater Lake National Park

18 month old Heidi at Lake Arthur in Moraine State Park

STEP 2:  Buy the tiniest body harness you can find for your toddler 
3 year old Hazel's first "ascent" up to the balcony.  She is FEARLESS! 

STEP 3:  Improvise a baby harness 'cause your wee one insists on joining in on the fun!
18 month old Heidi LOVES to climb, dangle & defy.  She LOVED hovering over the ground (just a few feet, of course)

And that my friends is what you get when you choose to breed with Jake Kosker.  Can't say that I didn't have plenty of warning :)


mama advice :: a playful lesson learned

I knew I shouldn't do it, but I did it anyway...

I bought GENERIC playdough.

It was sticky.  It was weird.  It was not fun.

However, I had just bought this kids baking set from IKEA:

It is AWESOME!  Real materials, heavy, could actually be used in a real kitchen.  Totally Montessori.

So, I splurged on the REAL PLAYDOUGH.

Suddenly, Hazel is spending HUGE CHUNKS OF TIME baking, making cookies and cakes and becoming an expert roller.  Such a great creative activity, building fine motor skills, role playing, and simply playing independently.   Though I am always convinced that each age the girls are at is my FAVORITE age, I'm loving observing my brilliant, creative girl play by herself... and Heidi and I love being food critics and "sampling" countless gingerbread men!  (ok, sometimes it ends up in 1.5yo Heidi's mouth, but mostly she mimics my reaction and fake chews... she loves it when I declare the cookie "YUCKY"!)


not ONE perfect match

As my dad gains strength and chemo side effects have time to heal themselves (fingers crossed), my dad is preparing for the next leg of his AML (acute myeloid leukemia) journey.  A bone marrow transplant.

According to the unscientific data rolling around in my head (ie: sound bites of things I've learned these past few months that a scholarly writer should confirm before writing about), a person's siblings are their best hope for a perfect bone marrow match.  My father is fortunate because he has THREE siblings (crazy, rabbit-like grandparents I have).  Each sibling has about a 25% chance of being a bone marrow match.

After years of meaning to get to that, I also joined the bone marrow donor registry.  The odds of being a match with my dad are about 1:500 (err... remember, not scientific on this blog), but I hope and pray that I get that call someday!  I will RUN to the hospital, perhaps even snubbing the Anesthetist as I joyfully give my healthy bone marrow to a stranger.

Keeping slightly on the subject, I would like to personally thank all of the Pennsylvania tax payers for helping us out and keeping my babies insured over the past 2 years.  I'm THRILLED to announce that I now have a job that provides all of us with great health insurance.  Both the CHIP and the WIC programs helped this family by providing health care for the kids and food for the family.  As a middle class, hard working, educated woman, it's tempting to hide the fact that we accepted public assistance.  However, I want more people to see the faces of those accepting public assistance.  Perhaps I can shift some paradigms by being more vocal and transparent?

To recap:
  •  SIGN UP FOR THE BONE MARROW REGISTRY (I'm not even gonna say please, just DO IT!).  
  • Oh, and as for not ONE perfect match for my dad... NOPE, HE HAS TWO PERFECT MATCHES!  (as for the 4th sibling who is not a match with anyone... uhh... shall we blame the mailman?)


where I am

Hello friends,

I've been a tad busy and I can't wait to tell you all about it!

1.  My grandfather passed away in utter peace.  His timing was impeccable... right before the school year started, right when travel schedules allowed.  It was an emotional and exhausting 2 weeks as his final journey drew near.  However, he was 91 years old, all of his kids and most of his grandkids enjoyed spending time together, his wife was as prepared as could be hoped for.

1.5.  Two things happened which I will not share many details, but have been very important in my life.  However, in case you have similar circumstances in your life, I want you to know that I have this in my life and we could chat privately:
- A loved one entered rehab this summer and conquered alcoholism.  It amazes me every day how this person keeps a positive outlook and is determined to stay strong.  "Staying sober is much easier than staying drunk."
- A loved one who lives with bipolar disorder hit a major roadblock due to this illness.  It's heart wrenching and there is no magic wand.

2.  My dad came home!  Though it feels like he won his battle, the reality is that he won a break, a period of rest and rejuvenation.  The timing was impeccable...almost as if my Grandfather got to heaven and said "The compound is now done taking care of me and has enjoyed a long season of company. Now it's time to send John home".  Had he been discharged one day earlier, his home and property would have been filled with relatives. Though his strength grows every day, he certainly needed to come home to an empty & quiet house.  It's wonderful to have dad home...making Hazel his perfect dippy eggs and cracking semi-inappropriate jokes.

3.  I landed a dream job!  I've been referring to it as "the answer to a prayer I didn't know I was praying".  Moving home, to the town where I did my school counseling internship, was a great decision for many reasons.  In particular, because my colleagues remembered me and at least one of them threw my name out when it became clear that a 1/2 time elementary counseling position was available.  The Principal needed someone who would commit long-term and someone who loves this community.  I needed an income, health insurance, and to fall in love with my chosen career again.

5 years ago, I didn't see myself in an elementary setting.  I'm a different person now and I LOVE working in this setting.  Though I'm thankful for my past for bringing me to where I am... I'm so glad that I'm not babysitting for friends 9+ hours a day or working with older kids.  I fully appreciate my new job and new schedule... it even provides me regular time to write!

4.  My kids :)  We had lots of mini adventures this summer and perhaps I'll write about them down the road. Right now, Hazel's language is leaps and bounds stronger than it was just a few months ago.  She and I can have big discussions, she can still out logic me in any "debate" and she LOVES to sing (though she mostly makes up new songs).  She can even correctly identify (and use) a trebuchet!

Heidi... oh, Heidi.  She is fearless.  I fear she's destined for great heights.  *mental note:  start scaring her about the dangers of climbing Everest now*.  She climbs on top of things I never realized where climbable.  She's independent and graceful.  She's a complete CLOWN!

In an effort to actually include Heidi in the family pictures scattered throughout the house, we finally had new family pictures taken!  I've only been allowed a sneak peek, but I 'm quite tickled with our farmer- themed shots!