Today was great. We started out at a playground with Mo super early, then met my friend Blair and her daughter at a favorite coffee shop and played in her garden nearby. We haven’t seen most of our friends here in Miami since before our trip so it feels great to reconnect with everyone. Seeing this friend was especially nice because she homeschools her two kids, and in terms of being unconventional, Blair is an amazing trailblazer. Her family lives in a school bus converted to a mobile sustainable living demonstration. It is cozy and beautiful, and she welcomes us to her home and her garden in midtown Miami. Ben and Ella were excited to be back at the garden where we had been going to a weekly playdate for many months. Ella went for a naked swim in the baby pool while Ben played with a dollhouse on the bus. Blair and I collected mangoes from their tree to bring home and talked about our hopes for homeschooling this year. Visiting the garden always leaves me feeling more hopeful and whole.
We made it home with no major screaming in the car (Ella has never been a fan of car trips) and Ben was super excited to watch a DVD and eat a strawberry coconut milk ice pop while I put Ella down for a nap. We are very sparing with screen time, partly because of ideology, but mostly because of behavior. Ben does best with under an hour of screen time per day, always followed by direct interaction. If he is cut off from the screen and told to go play or do whatever it always ends badly. When Ella is sleeping I sometimes want to just eat chocolate and surf celebrity blogs, but instead I sat with Ben and read his new book and some old comics that our friend in Vancouver gave him (don’t worry I had a chance to do the chocolate/blog thing after the kids went to bed). I do always enjoy the quiet time alone with Ben, I feel like we get to connect and actually build our relationship. Daily life can get so busy and distracting, especially with two kids. The activities that actually nourish us and build the connection between us sometimes get swept away in the tide. That is another huge reason I wanted to homeschool this year. I feel like the past few years have created a distance between us, and I miss the special connection that we once had. Ben is such a unique person, a sensitive soul, and has been through so many changes in the past three years since I was home with him full time. I think being at school for full days since he was two, and all the moving have really taken a toll on him. Since Ella was born Mo and Ben have really bonded in a special way, but Ben and I have grown further apart. I consider this year a gift to both of us, to take the space to really reconnect.
After Ella’s nap we went to Whole Foods to get groceries to last through the weekend. Ben was pretty wired and asked me for just about everything in the store. I realized that I hadn’t been as clear with him as I could have been at the outset. In the end I bought him a yogurt and he was quite happy. Ella rode in the Ergo on my back and was pretty content. I felt kind of badly for taking them on another errand, but I know it’s just part of life sometimes. Mo is always willing to go shopping and he is much better at sticking to the list, so I will try and let him do it more in the coming weeks.
We picked Mo up at school, and seeing the kids’ faces when he walks up to the car is always one of the best parts of my day. The big smiles just for him, the expectation and surprise, because they know we are there to get him, but then his face just appears in the window. It’s the best. They love him so much and he gives them such great attention even though he’s had a long day at work. I feel so lucky to have a partner who shares my priorities. None of this homeschooling or holistic healing or organic food eating would be possible without Mo and his hard work in and out of the home. So I guess that’s a shout out, Thanks Mo! I love you.
We came home and I cooked dinner while intermittently picking Ella up because she was squawking at my feet. I tried to nurse her in the Ergo while cooking but I couldn’t see past her head, which was bad for chopping veggies. She’s too big to cook while wearing nowadays! Dinner finally materialized, then Ben read books with my mom on Skype, Mo had a phone appointment, and I took some time alone to connect with Ella. The same thing I said before about getting distracted by life and not spending enough time investing in relationship building goes for Ella too. When my kids were small babies I was always connected to them through sheer proximity. When they are bigger I have to take the time and effort to step back, look them in the eyes, sit down on the floor, and actually play. Ella and I had a girls only dinner, then sat out on the balcony. Ella dug through a box of Ben’s toys and intermittently brought one over to sit on my lap and show me. She sings and chatters to herself when she is engaged in play, which I absolutely love listening to. I really enjoyed feeling the evening breeze off the beach (we are mile or two away) and just watching her, making eye contact, feeling her sit on my lap. It’s really cool to see her grow and change as she is in the transition between baby and little kid. Exciting stuff.
Mo took Ben to the pool for a late swim and Ella and I watched him tread water and swim a lap from the balcony. He is so big now! Amazing. I put Ella to bed while Mo read Ben books in the living room. Then Mo went to visit a friend and I got to snuggle Ben to sleep again. I had all kinds of things on my mind but I tried to quiet down and focus on being in the moment. Ben was fidgeting and I started to get a little impatient. I almost told him to just pick a spot and hold still, then I realized that I fidget the exact same way when I fall asleep. Honestly, I think what we all want is someone to be patient with us while we get comfortable.
Lot’s of love and looking forward to tomorrow!