Wednesday, August 27, 2014

8 Year Old Logic

A few days beffore we set off on our trip to Yellowstone I reminded Bug and Bunny know that we were going to be meeting up with not only grandma and grandpa, but with my cousin B and her two kids J and G.  B is my cousin, but she's a lot older from a different generation than I am.  And her kids are more Lone Wolf's age instead of Bug and Bunny aged.  This conversation for some reason, elicited an almost instant hysterical break down from Bunny.  In previous conversations about our trip, I guess Bunny hadn't caught on to the fact that J and B are much older than she is.  They weren't going to be more kids to play with, but more like grown ups. Not super old grown ups like Mommy, but you know, for an 8 year old, grown up is grown up.  

For some reason, my little girl got it into her head that J and G wouldn't want to hang out with them.  More, that they wouldn't even LIKE her.  Seriously, this had her broken down in tears because these new cousins she was about to meet weren't going to like her, or want to talk to her, or be around her because she was a little kid and they were grown ups. 

Between sobs and consoling snuggles I talked to her about how family always loves family.  And how they were coming all this way, in part, to meet her and Bug.  And how, I was SURE, they were all going to love her.  I mean, honestly, who wouldn't love her?  Nothing, and I do mean NOTHING, I said could convince her. 

Clearly, I had no idea what I was talking about, and she didn't just make a new best friend for life.

Seriously.. Thoughts?

Friday, August 22, 2014

Yellowstone Day 2

Gooooooood Morning Yellowstone!  This photo is brought to you by Bug.  I took one too, but I liked this one so much better.  We woke ourselves up pretty early on day two hoping to see some animals, but all we saw were the two legged hungry kind on their way to the main lodge for their cup of joe. The view from the lodge's considerable front porch (minus the construction) was probably as much of a draw as the joe.

I gave the kids a choice of a slow day driving up and stopping at whatever we wanted to see along the way and going on a hike.  The yells of "hike" are still echoing across Lake Yellowstone today.  After a quick check-in with the front desk on what hike would be good with two small children and we were on our way to Storm Point trail which begins right next to Indian Pond.

Isn't it pretty?  We followed the trails into the woods which even at 9am was better than being out under the direct sun.   It's always nice walking through the woods.  We've done a ton of hiking as a family and there is just something about walking through the woods that slows everything down.  I don't know if it's the quiet and lack of distractions, or if it's just us being alone as a family, but we do love our hikes.  

We were walking along talking about this and that when this view popped up out of no where.  Such an amazing view of the lake and we walked along beside it for a while before we hit this very cute wooden bridge.  I love wooden bridges.  I have no idea why, but there's nothing like the sound and feel of walking on one.  I say we convert all sidewalks to wooden walkways.  I bet we'd all be a lot happier!

About half way through our hike we found ourselves at this beautiful overlook.  

We were all having a good time, enjoying the view when Bunny - my fearless girl - walked right up to the edge of that 30 foot drop behind them down to the water and large boulders sure to crush her little bones. And then I lost my mind.  Now, *I* am afraid of heights, but neither of my kids seems to have inherited that little trait. So seeing my beautiful baby so close to what, to me, is obviously clear death, sent my poor heart into a tizzy.  Once I'd managed to pull her back from the edge and she'd managed to remove my death grip from her arm, we had a long talk about safety.  With only me on this trip with them, we all needed to be extra careful.  And that included not going to close to the edges of death drops and stopping mama's heart. 

And with that, we moved on down the edge of the lake until we found this beautiful sandy beach complete with rocky point.  If you zoom in on this picture, you'll even see my two little monkeys down at the very tip of the point.  And while we were down there, these two little monkeys came out to play with us - as long as we were very still and very quiet that is. These are Yellow Bellied Marmots for those not in the know, and they apparently love this area.  Cute little guys, no?

We wrapped up the hike and started our long trek north to Montana out of the North entrance.  We hadn't gone more than a few yards when we came across this old man wandering next to the road.

I got a little too close and was the recipient of some dirty looks from one of the many wonderfully helpful park rangers.  And despite my error in judgement, she was more than happy to answer questions for us.  

As we continued to make our way North, I worried he was going to be our only encounter with a buffalo when we found this guy just chill-axing on the side of the road.  We stayed a safe distance this time.

I was thrilled to see two whole Buffalo on our trip, but we had no idea what was waiting for us just around the river bend.. just around the river bed.. (okay, name that song!)

We were stuck in traffic that didn't move for over a half hour.  Have you ever sat in bumper to bumper non-moving traffic with a 6 and 8 year old?  You do whatever it takes to keep them entertained.  And that included taking photos of lots of trees and singing Pocahontas Disney songs.  

The wait was so completely worth it.  

After sitting in the car for so long, we stopped at the first hot springs / mud pots we came to. This is Dragon Mouth Springs.  A wonderful bubbling, steaming cave that even sounded like a dragon roaring.

Bug, however, was clearly less than impressed with the smell.  

I don't know why though.  The buffalo didn't seem to mind it.

We decided to move along, but got caught behind this buffalo for a few minutes instead.  Best game of follow the leader, ever!

He led the way to the biggest herd we saw (and one of the best views) of our whole trip!  We didn't know it at the time, but there are only about 4,000 buffalo living in all of Yellowstone.  It just doesn't seem like enough considering how prevalent they used to be back in the day. 

The Tweedles and I talked a lot about why Yellowstone was protected, and why there was a need for places like this.  I don't know how much sunk in, but at least we're giving them the beginnings of a conservation education.  And with views like this, it's never to early to start.

Seriously.. Thoughts?

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Lunchbox Disparity

This year, before school started, I asked both of The Tweedles if they wanted to do school lunch or bag lunch this year.  They both enthusiastically voted for bag lunches.  It means more work for me, but they're more likely to eat what I send them than what's offered at school, so it's worth it.  However, I'm noticing there's a huge disparity in my house when it comes to the quantity of food included in Bug and Bunny's lunch boxes.  Today for example.

Bug's Lunchbox:

2 Ham and Swiss Sandwiches.
1 Baby Bell Cheese
Baby Carrots
Grapes and blueberries (about a half a cup combined).
Graham Cracker Stackables
Lunch bag size bag of gold fish
Yogurt covered pretzels
V8 Fusion Juice Box
Water Bottle (not pictured)

Bunny's Lunchbox:

1 cheese and tomato quesadilla
Grapes and blueberries (about a half cup combined).
Baby Carrots with several slices of cucumbers
1 Baby Bell Cheese
Lunch bag size cheezeits
V8 Fusion Juice Box
Water Bottle (not pictured)

And the kicker? Bunny will come home with only part of her lunch eaten and tell me how she even shared that part with her friends.  Bug will come home from school today having eaten all of his food, and tell me how starved he is and needs more food in his lunch box.  He's only 6.  What am I going to do when he becomes a teenager???

Seriously.. Thoughts?

P.S. I'll get back to our Yellowstone trip with more pictures, I promise.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Perfectionism is a Four Letter Word

Many of you may know that we've been struggling with Bunny academically for quite some time.  This is not to say she's not smart.  Anyone who has ever interacted with my girl knows lack of intelligence is not her problem.  I've been working closely with her every year since first grade through each school year and over each summer and with her teachers and her principal to try to figure out what exactly the issue is.  Clearly there is a disconnect somewhere, but the best we've been able to come up with is throwing various techniques at her and hoping something sticks.  It's been frustrating to say the least.

Today while correcting her homework, I had a bit of a light bulb moment.  I have struggled most of my life with various levels of OCD and perfectionism.  Anyone who knows me, knows I think in very black and white terms. Grey bothers me.  Grey bothers me a lot.  I want, no, I need things to be black or white, right or wrong, yes or no.  Everything in between causes me great amounts of anxiety.  And I'm a planner.  I have a plan A and a plan B and usually a plan C for pretty much everything with corresponding check lists.  That's not to say that I can't have plans change, I can, but I need to know it's coming, and there needs to be a new plan.  Winging it is not my thing.

Today, I realized Bunny is more like me than I'd like.  So after a particularly hard breakdown over getting something wrong on her homework, I looked up how perfectionism manifests itself in children:

  • Tendency to become highly anxious, angry or upset about making mistakes
  • Chronic procrastination and difficulty completing tasks
  • Easily frustrated and gives up easily
  • Chronic fear of embarrassment or humiliation
  • Overly cautious and thorough in tasks (for example, spending 3 hours on homework that should take 20 minutes)
  • Tries to improve things by rewriting 
  • Frequent catastrophic reactions or meltdowns when things don’t go perfectly or as expected
  • Refusal to try new things and risk making mistakes
Now, she doesn't fall into all of these categories, but she falls into a lot of them.  Tendency to become highly anxious, angry or upset about making mistakes? Check.  Chronic procrastination and difficulty completing tasks? Check.  Easily frustrated and gives up easily? Check. Overly cautious and thorough in tasks (for example spending 3 hours on homework that should take 20 minutes)? Oh, yeah.  Frequent catastrophic reactions or meltdowns when things don't go perfectly or as expected? Oh, hell yeah!

This isn't an official diagnosis, of course.  But if I struggle with these issues, it's easy to see how my girl, who is so much like me, might also struggle. And while I've had almost 40 years of learning how to overcome and compensate, (and I still struggle daily with a lot of things) she's only 8.  All of these feelings can't be easy for her.

The article I read this morning has some helpful hints on how to help children with perfectionism tendencies.  Some things I could probably use myself, to be honest.  If you want to read it for yourself it's here. Of course, there's probably a lot more sites out there, but this is the one I found.  I'll be looking into this more and seeing if some of the tips/tricks help Bunny, but this really is the first thing that makes sense. 

Seriously.. Thoughts?

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

End of Summer Last Hurrah

We took one last hurrah trip to Yellowstone right before school started this week.  And by we, I mean the Tweedles and myself.  It was a 3 day drive up to the park.  Three days of really really long driving.  The Tweedles did amazing.  Honestly, I think I watched Bunny mature overnight on this trip!  Seriously, OVERNIGHT she turned into this helpful, well-mannered, good listener. I was amazed.  Watching this little girl grow, is pure joy.. PURE JOY.

And now, onto the photos from our trip:

When we came into Yellowstone from the West Entrance and drove all the way around to the Lake Cabins.  And here was our home sweet home for our first night.

And this was our view.  Can I tell you how many times I used the words 'amazing', 'wow' and 'just look you guys'?  It was, a lot.

It was a mad dash to the lake...

stopping only long enough to take some photos,  (Awww, my budding photographer).

And maybe a quick game of hide and seek.

He's a hide and seek expert.

You'd think they'd been cooped up in the car for three days, the way they acted.  Oh wait...

But could we have found a prettier place to celebrate our freedom?

Heaven.  Simply heaven.

Seriously... Thoughts?