Reintroduction

Welcome!

Hello. My name is Sarah. I’m a designer, a crafter, a writer, a runner, a lefty, and an amateur mama.

My husband, Keith E. Daddysaurus Rex, and I are on a personal journey toward a life of simplicity, freedom, peace, and wellness. I am hopeful that it will include ice cream. Really, REALLY hopeful.

The things you’ll find here in the future will stem from our core values: kindness, curiosity, and creativity. It will most likely involve arts & crafts tutorials, nesting projects, and food. It will definitely involve honesty and a sense of humor. Not so much, “BWAHAHAHA!” humor; more like, “Heh. Funny,” humor. I believe in having reasonable expectations.

So. What’s changed since I started this blog almost three years ago?

1. I’ve birthed two babies: Norah A. Babysaurus and Eric N. Ninjasaurus Duke Handsome McCutiepie. They are almost exactly eighteen months apart. Oh. My. Goodness.

2. We started embracing a minimalist philosophy. Keith E. Daddysaurus Rex and I are tired of working hard just to maintain our stuff, and spend all of our personal time cleaning and maintaining the stuff, and replacing the old stuff with new stuff while hoarding the old stuff because we’re creative and can find new stuff to do with old stuff, and feeling weighed down by lives stuffed with stuff and devoid of purpose and meaning. Having two children under the age of two also made it sort of necessary if we are to find a modicum of peace and order any time soon.

3. We are buying a house twice as big as our current one, with substantial acreage. On the surface, perhaps this seems to oppose the whole minimalist thing. But really, it’s achieving a long-term goal of ours and getting us one giant step closer to creating the home life we’ve always envisioned and valued — with plenty of room to grow, play, create, discover, and connect with nature as a family. Fact is, our little townhouse just isn’t cutting it. As I’ve learned, minimalism isn’t about making things smaller and sparser, it’s about focusing on what’s essential and meaningful. And — let’s face it — packing up house with a couple of littles hanging from your legs and elbows really forces you to decide quickly what items you need to take and what items you never want to see again in your life.

So, although life is so! incredibly! busy! for a few weeks, I hope to be back soon with fun things to do, and brilliant insights, and good food. Which, I hope, will include ice cream.

Wishing you a week full of purpose and meaning,

Sarah

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A happy new year

I’ve been offline here for most of 2013 — unintentionally, of course. I was working on something pretty important.

Eric N. Ninjasaurus

I’ll affectionately refer to him as Eric N. Ninjasaurus. Or sometimes Handsome McCutiepie. He’s just about three months old now: an exciting milestone in and of itself, but especially so for us when you consider that during the first twelve hours of his life we didn’t know whether he would survive.

You see, Eric N. Ninjasaurus Duke Handsome McCutiepie was born with a rare heart defect and underwent open heart surgery when he was five days old. I want to write about it in more detail, but not now. Just know that we were terrified, and grateful, and so, so lucky. He’s a darling, sweet, extra-wiggly baby, and I’m glad we got to keep him.

Norah A. Babysaurus

And Norah A. Babysaurus — who’s really not such a Babysaurus anymore — is an excellent big sister. She holds his hand and showers him with gentle kisses, covers him with blankets, and brings his empty bottles to the sink.

(But let’s keep it real: for every moment of bliss there’s a moment of sheer horror, such as having both children on my lap crying at the top of their lungs AT THE SAME TIME.)

Sister and brother

I have many goals for 2014, but chief among them is to be present and focused on the things that are most important to me. I’ve felt so acutely how precious even the tiniest of moments are and I don’t intend to waste any more.

How I made the biggest parenting mistake ever and lived to tell the tale

As soon as we recognized that Norah A. Babysaurus could comprehend the meaning of “no” and other words, we started teaching her rules.

Our greatest success was when she finally learned that she was allowed to sit on the bottom step of the staircase (which can’t be blocked by a gate) but she was not allowed to stand. It took one full day of mustering all the patience and energy we had to be firm, calm, and consistent in correcting her. When at last she ran over to the step and sat right down, once, twice, every single time,  it honestly felt like we’d won the Nobel Parenting Prize.

Then after a few weeks of almost perfect behavior on the staircase, she started standing again. Consistently. Running over to the step, climbing up, and turning around with a big smile and her arm out, saying, “Ah!” which, to us, sounded a lot like, “Ta da! I can do whatever I want!”

So we started over. As she persisted, it was hard not to get angry at her stubbornness. That smug little grin. That defiant wave. The frustration of her falling when we reached down to pick her up because she’d try to step off as soon as we got close. Over and over again.

Until one day, when I managed to resist being angry for long enough to pay attention. And this is what I realized:

She had climbed up because she wanted to practice stepping down. She wasn’t waving, she was reaching out. She wasn’t saying, “Hah! Look at me asserting my independence and derring-do!” Instead, she was trying to tell me, “Hey, Mama! I can do this, but I need a little help.” So I went to her, held out my hand and asked, “Would you like some help stepping down?” She happily took my hand for balance, carefully stepped down to the floor…and promptly sat down on the step.

I stayed and helped her practice stepping up and down a few more times, until she was ready to move on to something new. No yelling. No tantrums. No frustration. Just good, solid communication.

BOOM. That was the moment — when I realized that all of our frustration and anger was because we simply weren’t listening — I knew we had made the biggest parenting mistake we’ve ever made.

In fact, I replayed it in my mind every day. I don’t want to forget it, because I realize that it’s probably the biggest mistake we could ever possibly make. Trouble is, it’s also the easiest mistake to make.

(I should know. I communicate for a living. And also for a hobby. I also have a master’s degree in it. Which is why I’m hanging my head in the most shameful kind of shame.)

I immediately apologized for not listening sooner. She might not understand the words “I’m sorry,” but I did it anyway, just to get in the habit because one day she will understand. I want her to know that I am not perfect, but I am trying to be good. I want her to know what honest, two-way communication feels like and I don’t want her to settle for less. We hugged for a moment, then she ran off to find Big Ball, I reflected on a very valuable lesson, and everything was good again. As a matter of fact, everything was better.

Since then, Norah A. Babysaurus has started to “ask” for help before she climbs up. She’ll grab my hand and bring me over to the step, or rocking chair, or whatever she wants to try. She’ll make some small indication of what she needs me to do, and that’s what I do — no more, no less. I observe, I ask, I wait, and eventually she succeeds. And that. THAT. Knowing that she knows that we understand — that we want to understand — and that she trusts us to understand, even when she can’t express herself in a way that we’re used to: that is the best prize by far.

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