Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The next lesson...

Laci's secret is out.  Although I have suspected it for awhile, Laci can read.  Whenever I asked her to sit down and try to read a few words with me, she always refused.  We play a game called "Stump Laci".  I spell simple 4 letter words and she tells me what the word is.  If she can do that, I figured she must be able to read a little.  So I asked her teacher and she responded "Of course, Laci can read."  When her teacher told her to sit down with me to read, she did.  I don't know why she doesn't do what I ask her to do but I am glad she does what her teacher asks her to do.  

Fortunately, we have a lot of level 1 and 2 Dora and Princess books handed down by my nieces.  I love older cousins!  I would like to sit down with her every night but if I can get her to sit down quietly and read with me every few days, we're doing okay.  Laci responds well to praise so I am making a big deal of reading.  She is still in the beginning stages of reading and sounding out the words.  She confuses the b and d and asks each time which it is.  I confuse d and b too sometimes so I can't blame her.  She is super slow and not fluid at all but she is doing it!  Last night, we spent half an hour on a short 10 page book.  It was painful for me.  She kept bobbing up and down and scooting around the room.  But she did it.  It was funny because every time I would just read the word to her, she would say "Mo-om, don't do that.  I'm not 2!"  Or something like that.  She is not a baby and doesn't need my help.  Laci learning to read may be my next lesson in parent patience.  Laci still has a year and a half before kindergarten.  It will be a long year and a half.  Her teachers say that she is already bored in class.  Maybe this will be a good lesson in patience and understanding for all of us.  

Friday, January 27, 2012

Some insight... or just being 4

I often wonder about the reasons Laci does the things she does.  Is she just 4 or is there a deeper meaning.  Last night, Laci slept in her bed.  Her actual bed.  Not the floor.  First she asked if could she sleep with me because my sheets are so soft.  I reminded her that she also has soft sheets on her bed.  So she decided to try her bed again.  I made the bed with her pillow at the head of the bed.  When she did sleep on the bed before, it was always with her head at the foot of the bed.  As part of her avoiding going to sleep, she decided to sleep sitting up and put her pillows on the wall to sit there.  She said "I'm a little nervous to sleep in a bed.  I have never slept on a bed before."  I reminded her that of course she has slept in a bed before!  Goof.  I asked if she wanted me to take her railing down to sleep on the bed.  She also mentioned the time she fell out of the bed at Grandma's house and this is a really high bed.  Laci's bed is a regular height bed and that happened months ago.  Is that why she has been sleeping on the floor?  I don't know but maybe.  She kept saying she was nervous.  I finally got her tucked in and left.  I came  back a few minutes later and she had moved back to the foot of the bed.  She also asked that the bathroom light be left on.  Ironically, she told me this morning that she couldn't sleep last night because the bathroom light was on.  Again, she's a goof.  But all this makes me wonder - has been sleeping on the floor because she is afraid to fall off?  Or is she just 4 and likes to try different things?  

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Circle of Stuff

As all parents know, babies and kids have stuff.  Lots and lots of stuff.  I like to try avoid stuff if at all possible.  Again, I say try because I am not very successful.  When you are pregnant with your first baby, it is all so overwhelming.  If you read "the books" and Babies R Us pamphlets, you feel like you need everything.  I tried to get by with as little baby gear as possible.  At the time, we were in a small house.  I wanted everything to be foldable or have double use.  Babies grow out of stuff so fast.  I borrowed as much stuff as I could (crib, changing table, bed).  Even now for the kids furniture, we have our old childhood dressers instead of buying new.  Instead of a baby bathtub, I used a baby bath mat for our tub.  Instead of a bouncer, I used a infant rocker that kids can use until they are 3.  Instead of setting up the pack n play downstairs to change diapers and nap, we just walked the baby upstairs and changed them there.  It wasn't very inconvenient.  Instead of a bassinet that they grow out of in 3 months, we used a pack n play in our room and then moved them to the crib in their room after 6 weeks.  But it still seems like we had tons of baby stuff.  When we moved into our house, we affectionately called the back room in our basement "the baby's room" and all the baby gear and toys would go in there as she outgrew it.  It was easy to pull out again for Calvin.  That room is now filling up again as Calvin is starting to outgrow the gear and toys.  I have been putting all the clothes they outgrow in old diaper boxes and that room also looks like a diaper warehouse.

Because of all the stuff, I have found that one of the greatest resources mothers can have is other mothers to pass stuff down to.  We are fortunate in that Laci has several older girl cousins.  They are outgrowing their stuff as Laci is moving into those toys.  A toy chest, dollhouse, princess dresses are some of the great things that have been passed down to Laci.  Charlie's nephew is 11 months older than Calvin and therefore, they share the same seasons.  Every few months, we get a new box of clothes from them.  It has been wonderful to get those clothes.  They grow out of clothes so fast that they hardly get worn out.  Clothes seem to have a 2 - 3 child lifespan to them.  One of my coworkers grandsons is 11 months younger than Calvin.  There's my person to pass to.  Every few months, I pack up some clothes and toys and pass them on to her.  Her grand-niece is the same age as Laci but smaller.  So I pack up boxes of clothes for her too.  I long for the day my kids can wear clothes longer than a season but we just aren't quite there yet.  I would much rather pass them on to someone I know than just donate them to the unknown.  

The other day I brought a big box of toys and the music table to work to pass off to my coworker.  When I got home, there was a package on my doorstep from my SIL full of clothes.  As opened the box and went through all the clothes, I couldn't help but realize that the circle of stuff continues.  

Friday, January 20, 2012


Uno is Laci's new favorite game.  Uno is the game Charlie always played as a kid with his grandparents. There was a phase when we were dating where we played a lot of Uno.  I know, we're dorks.  So it is fun to pass Uno down to Laci.  We play often in the evenings after Calvin has gone to bed.  Here are the things I love about playing Uno with Laci.

1.  She can play by herself so there are three players.  But often she wants to be on one of our teams.   We hold the cards, she lays them down.  She wants to look at all of our cards before picking teams but Charlie won't let her look at his cards. 
2.  If she is playing by herself, she makes a point to lay all of her cards out and makes sure we can all see them.  If we can't see them, she moves so we can.
3.  She has no poker face and is smiles with glee if she has a wild card.  And pouts if she doesn't.  She gets that from me.  I have absolutely no poker face and the two of us smile with glee when we are about to win.  
4.  If she wins or is on a winning team, she likes to be tickled.  This does not extend to Charlie.  I learned the hard way that he does not want to be tickled if he wins.  
5.  She loves shouting out Uno and this extends to any number of cards she has in her hand.  She will shout out "Dos", "Tres", "Cuatro"...
6.  She has no strategy.  If she does get a Wild and has four reds and one yellow, she will pick yellow.  If she plays "choose one player to draw 2" and I have 5 cards and Charlie has 1 card, she will pick me to draw 2. 
7.  I love my turn to deal because I can do the bridge when I shuffle.  Charlie can't.  It's amusing to watch him try and see the cards go everywhere.  We usually have a nice laugh.   
8.  We end on a win.  Meaning - when it is time to go to bed, we will keep playing until she wins.  

Thursday, January 19, 2012

A New Day...

I don't know if it was the freshly fallen snow or what but tonight went much smoother.  I cooked dinner with Calvin in the kitchen to minimal screaming / crying.  The four of us ate dinner together.  Very little landed on the floor.  We all played in the basement.  Bathtime was smooth.  Now Calvin is going to sleep and we are getting ready for Uno.  Yeah.

Last night was a reminder that parenting is a big lesson in patience.  A lesson that sometimes I don't learn very well.  I adore my kids and it is not my kids that drive me nuts.  It's my loss of patience that disappointments me the most.  It's a daily lesson that I am constantly working on.

My three wishes... To never lose a pacifier

Well, the apple thing that I thought was so cute the other day led to a complete breakdown last night.  On my part.  I completely lost it at dinner.  I just wished for a day where my husband would be home for dinner.  That is never going to happen on a regular basis so I need to quit wishing.  My second wish is to be able to cook a dinner without Calvin on my hip or crying at my feet.  Don't get me wrong.  I like that he wants to be with me after being gone all day.  Usually I am okay with him on my hip but one handed cooking is a bit challenging.  Plus, we still have a lot of communication issues and there is a lot of screaming - sometimes by both of us.  My third wish is to be able to eat dinner without most of it landing on the floor.  Calvin is in-between sitting in a high chair or at the table in a booster seat.  I would prefer the high chair a little longer because it is a little easier to contain the messes.  He would prefer the table.  Tuesday night, there were pears everywhere.  Last night, Laci dumped her spaghetti everywhere.  She is funny about her spaghetti because she decided that she wants ketchup and shredded cheese on it instead of spaghetti sauce.  But she complained that the spaghetti didn't seem quite right.  I reminded her it was because it had ketchup on it instead of spaghetti sauce.  Fortunately, Laci was very helpful and helped clean up the spaghetti.  She is growing up.  I think she sensed I was about to lost it...  Or by that point I may have already gone nuts.  After dinner we went to play in the basement.  The apple came with.  I must admit that it was pretty cute how he pushed the apple around in the doll stroller and then put the apple in the doll high chair.  I cringed a little when he tried to shoot a basket with the apple and the basketball rim was all sticky of apple.  When he started to throw apple peel around the basement, I decided I had had enough of the apple.  We all went upstairs and the apple went in the trash.  

I just kept thinking why am I such a terrible mother?  I thought I would be good at this but I have a breakdown from three nights alone with the kids.  I'm terrible.  How do other mothers do it?  They are home all day with their kids and make it.  Husbands travel.  Mothers are home all night with their kids and make it.  By Wednesday night, I'm struggling.  This week has been harder than others - maybe it is the winter doldrums.  But I keep reminding myself that the kids will grow up.  There will be a day where I can make dinner without Calvin on my hip or screaming at my feet.  There will be a day where the kids don't drop all of their dinner on the floor.  There will be a day where Calvin can just eat an apple.  I will miss this time - but I will not miss the sticky days and the screaming.  As other mother tell me, it always continues.  The challenges are just different. 

On top of all that, I lost a pacifier.  I don't know why but I am obsessed with knowing where the pacifiers are at all time.  Maybe I associate my ability to keep track of pacifiers as being able to keep it together.  Laci used a certain type of pacifier that could only be bought online.  So I became paranoid about losing it.  I always had a count of where they were.  Calvin uses one that can be bought at the store so I have some "security" that I can always run to the store for a backup, if needed.  Plus, by now, he isn't as dependent on them.  We were down to two.  As of Tuesday night, the count went to one.  I know it is somewhere in the house.  But this lost pacifier just nags at me.  

Fortunately, Charlie came home early at 6:45 to find me near tears on the couch, Laci playing with her leappad and Calvin wandering around aimlessly with balls and toy phones.  We got Calvin to bed and after Charlie ate dinner, we all played Uno, Laci's new favorite game.  I finally found myself smiling again.  We will make it.  

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Cookie Monster!!

There is nothing worse than being able to see the cookies in the oven but not being able to eat them!  He stood by the oven and cried the entire time the cookies baked.  It was even worse when he had to wait for them to cool.  

FINALLY!  I'm a happy boy now. 

Don't mess with my Apple!

Calvin is currently obsessed with apples.  Not necessarily eating them but carrying them around.  On Sunday he even took it to church with us.  He takes a bite and then spits out the peel.  Last night we stood by the sink for 20 minutes while he ate and spit the apple.  Then he carries the apple around.  He carried the apple around for 1 1/2 hours last night.  Then he cried when I took it away at bedtime.  Laci kept telling him that apples are not stuffed animals.  I even tried bribing him with his blankey.  He doesn't quite understand the bribe yet.  Next step - having him actually eat the apple!
Don't mess with my apple!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Floor Bed

I read an ad online about a floor bed.  Basically, it was a mattress on a small wood frame on the bed.  Laci also sleeps on a floor bed.  But it is just Laci sleeping on the floor.  Before we accept our terrible parents award for forcing our child to sleep on the floor, it is her choice.  Laci has a perfectly good bed.  But for the last few weeks, Laci has chosen to sleep on the floor.  I don't know why but if she sleeps, I'm fine with it.  She has moved all of her stuffed animals, her favorite pillows and comforter on the floor.  When she goes to clean her room, she even makes her bed on the floor by straightening out the comforter and pillow and organizing all the stuffed animals.  We use the bed now to lay out her clothes for the next day.  Sometimes I wonder if her mattress isn't very good (it's pretty old) and I wonder if we should just get a good mattress.  But she seems to prefer the floor. 

She's back!

Baby Ariel is back!  Yeah!  She was in Calvin's cubby this morning.  Yes, she was in Calvin's cubby.  In an ironic twist of fate, it was the daughter of Calvin's new teacher who accidently took the day.  I know it was completely unintentional and the little girl just grabbed a doll that looked like hers.  I talked to Laci's teacher about it and she talked to the little's girls mother.  She even put a sign on the blackboard that said "Missing Baby Ariel".  I really hope that I didn't come across rude or accusatory.  I was just asking in case a mistake had been made.  I am pretty sensitive about the entire thing now.  I think we have all learned a few lessons.  I hope Laci learned a little bit about responsibility.  We talked a lot about responsibility this week.  Here is the biggest thing we learned - PUT LACI's NAME ON HER DOLLS BEFORE BRINING THEM TO SCHOOL!  I don't know why we didn't do it before!

Speaking of Laci and responsibility, she must be learning something somewhere.  Last night at dinner she spilled her milk.  In the past, she has cried.  She has literally cried over spilled milk.  Last night, as I went to get a paper towel and wash cloth, she stopped me and explained that she needed to clean up the mess because she made the mess.  I was proud.  I was also a little concerned about the stickiness factor since she isn't great at cleaning up.  Later, when she wasn't looking, I cleaned up the floor again.  But Laci is growing up.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Little Moments

I took the kids to the park yesterday.  It was a beautiful, unseasonable warm day.  It was the first time Calvin has been able to play outside at the park since he could really walk. He loved walking, almost running, in the mulch.  He loved pulled the wagon around the parking lot and didn't even mind falling into the bushes.  He loved the tunnel slide and always went down on his belly.  This caused me to freak out last night while I was getting him ready for bed because he had little scratches on his belly.  I first worried that he was having a reaction to his shots yesterday until I remembered the belly slide rides.

One time, I was at the bottom of the slide and Laci was going to go down head first, upside down.  She wanted me to stand at the bottom because she was afraid.  "Nervous" is one of her new emotions and she talks a lot about being nervous.  My first response was "If you are scared, don't go down that way."  No one was forcing her to do it.  It wasn't particularly dangerous.  But then I realized that I was having one of those parent moments.  It's not the big lessons that kids learn from.  It's the every day ones.  If I continue to say, "If you are scared, don't do it", she will be scared.  She won't do it.  That will be imprinted in her.  That is what she will learn.  So I told her that she should go down and reminded her that I was right there to catch her.  Just like in life, I will always be right there to catch her.  She went down and was fine.  She went back to the top and we repeated that moment of nervousness.  This time I told her that she was fine the first time and she didn't need to be scared.  This led to several more rides down the slide upside down.  A few minutes later, another little girl came to the park and they were instantly BFFs.  I love this age where they are all friends.  

Fear and nervousness are on my mind a lot.  My own fears.  My own anxiety.  Charlie's fear of the unknown.  I feel like we are at a crossroads about several different things in our lives.  I just don't know what.  Something small?  Something big?  Fear of the unknown is holding us back.  I try to remind Charlie that I will always be there to catch him and vice versa.  More importantly, God will never let us fall.  But it so much harder to trust and to take risks as an adult.  I pray that we both remain open to listen to what God tells us and to be trusting in Him. 

Our pastor posted this quote on the newsletter this month from Guillaume Apollinaire.  This is what I want to teach my children.  This is what I want to learn.   
“Come to the edge.”                                            
“We can’t.  We are afraid.”                                       
“Come to the Edge.”                                            
“We can’t.  We will fall.” 
“Come to the edge.” 
And they came. 
And He pushed them. 
And they flew.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

The other side of things ...

Something tragic happened in our house yesterday... Tragic indeed.  Laci lost her new favorite doll - a baby Princess Ariel.  She left it at school.  We realized this at 5:45.  If it were during the week, I would have told her that she had to wait until tomorrow to get it at school.  But since it was Friday, I decided to drive back to school to pick it up on our way to Taco bell.  We arrived at 6:00, just as they were cleaning up and getting ready to close.  Charlie ran in and came back empty handed.  He and her teacher looked around the home and couldn't find it.  :(  We were so upset.  Laci had mentioned that two of the girls in her class have the same doll.  I emailed one of the girls mothers last night just to see if she may have taken it home accidently.  I felt like such a hypocrite after the whole doll fiasco of the fall.  But thought it couldn't hurt to ask.  She did not have it. So now we wait until Monday and pray the doll is there or the other girl accidently brought it home and brings it back to school on Monday. 

Laci cried when she first realized the doll was missing.  When we got home, an American Girl catelog came and she pulled out her Bitty Baby.  She was okay with sleeping with her and Giggle Baby (her previous favorite doll) that night.  We stayed up a little later because it was a Friday night.  By the time she got to bed, she was overtired.  Then the water works started when she remembered Ariel was gone.  For 30 minutes, I listened to her scream and sob.  It was all I could do to not send Charlie to the store to buy another one.  It's funny how fast she became attached to this little baby doll.  It was heartbreaking to hear her scream.  I kept telling her that Ariel is on an Adventure and she will be home.  I always tell her that I will check on her in a few minutes when I leave her room.  She asked that when I come back to check on her that I tell her again that Ariel will be back.  Is this the moment we teach responsibility and don't buy her a new doll?  Or is this when we replace it but let her know that this is a one time only deal and give a lecture on responsibility?  I don't know.  I can only hope we make it thorugh the next two bedtimes and pray the doll shows up on Monday...

Thursday, January 5, 2012

West Virginia Time

Several years ago, we were driving home from out East from vacation.  We usually don't set planned stopping points but drive until we are tired and then we stop.  That particular night, it was starting to get dark and we were wondering how much longer we had it in us to go.  Both of us were exhausted.  It felt really late.  We just couldn't go any farther and we decided to stop in West Virginia.  We looked at the clock and laughed.  It was 7:30.  But we seriously felt like it was almost midnight!  We decided that West Virginia must be on different time.  

One of the biggest changes I noticed when I became a parent is how early my life became and how schedule crazy I became with my babies.  I have never been a night owl and have always been more of a morning person.  But I did occasionally stay up past 10:00.  Now, I am often in my jammies, settling the kids in for the night, turning the lights off downstairs and I will look at the clock and it will be 7:45.  7:45?  Really, I'm settling in for the night at 7:45?  Often we say to ourselves, "Where are we, West Virginia?"

When I was pregnant with Laci, my SIL gave me a book, "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child" about sleep.  It became my Baby Bible.  Schedule and early bedtimes became very important to me and I stuck to them.  It helps that the daycare has a nap schedule established when the kids were 6 months old.  Plus, the kids have to get up at 7 and don't have the luxury of "sleeping in".  My babies' bedtime has always been 7:00 by the time they are a few months old and they sleep 12 hours.  I think they were better off for it.  I am a firm believer in the importance of sleep.  What worked best for me is when they struggled sleeping through the night was putting them to bed earlier, not later.  And it worked!  By the time Laci was a year and a half or so, she was "staying up" to 7:30 or so.  Calvin is 18 months old now and he is still asleep by 7:15.  He loves his sleep.  We still struggle with naps on the weekend for Laci and she stays up too late.  Unfortunately, her behavior suffers for it.  I know when she doesn't get enough sleep that there will be tantrums the next day.  She has a very distinct tired tantrum.  It's clear that the tantrum is because she is tired, not naughty. 

The only problem with their great sleep schedule is that to get Calvin in bed by 7:15, we have really early lives.  Now that he is a little older, we make exceptions and occasionally, he is even able to stay out until 8.  I know, crazy.  We find ourselves going out to dinner early or saying silly things like "It's getting late, we need to get home" when it is 7:00.  We're often the first ones to parties and the first ones to leave.  Our weekend activities are scheduled for morning or late afternoon to accommodate a nap.  It is a bit limiting.  I know that this phase won't last forever.  Laci was almost 3 when Calvin was born and we were starting to go out in the evenings more often.  We'll resume our big "night life" soon enough.  But my happy children with their sleep schedule is definitely worth sacrificing the late nights.  Until then, we'll just keep living on West Virginia time.  

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Calvin Rules

One of Laci's goals when Calvin was born is that she wanted to be able to hold him standing up.  We could all hold him while standing up and walking around, but she always had to be sitting while we gently placed him on her lap.  Now that he is bigger and a little more rugged, she likes to try to carry him around.  It's not pretty and he hates it.  They also love to rough house.  When Laci was a baby, we joked that you could always tell the "second child" at school versus the "first born".  Calvin is a good "second child" and loves to rough house.  We play and jump around every night before bed.  He loves jumping on the bed.  He loves jumping on piles of pillows.  He loves jumping on people.  Even though, he is pretty rugged, we still had to give Laci some "Calvin's Rules".  A few of Calvin's Rules - 1.  No attacking him.  2.  No jumping on him.  3.  No pestering him.  Now, when she starts to jump on him, we just say "Calvin Rules" and she knows to stop.  Sometimes we have to remind her that Calvin's Rules apply anywhere, not just as home.  Usually it works.  Sometimes it does not.

The other day, Calvin started jumping on Laci.  It must have been more than she wanted or could handle because suddenly she shouted out "Laci's Rules".  Apparently, in her mind, it works both ways.  :)

Monday, January 2, 2012

A Grandma didn't want to be left out

When I was pregnant with Laci, I found a half finished cross stitched quilt my special grandma had started.  So as a gift to her great granddaughter, from  I finished it for her.  My MIL was nice enough to finish the ends and add a wall hanger to it.  It has always hung in Laci's room.  I love that it was touched by so many hands for Laci.  Even though she never came out and said it, I always had the feeling my mom felt a little left out.  She is not crafty. 

When I saw my mom at Christmas, she gave me a clown wall hanging that she had made in the 70s and her MIL (my grandma) added the hanger to it.  She asked if we could hang it in Calvin's room so that each child had something their grandmas and great grandmas made for them.  I thought it was really sweet that she finally felt like she contributed and made something for them.  I noticed today that Charlie hung it up in his room.  As a side note, the goofy dog piggy bank was also Charlie's old childhood piggy bank.  I may be a bit sentimental but I love a few touches of our childhood that we have been able to pass down to our kids.


Pajama Puzzle Day

This has been a very strange weekend.  4 days at home with nothing to do.  I can't remember the last time we have had a break like this.  I wanted to go on an outing like the museum or something but realized playtime at home was just as fun.  So yesterday, we had a lazy, pajama day.  Laci was up late at a New Years Eve party and slept until 9:45.  I don't think she has ever slept that late in her life.  One of our traditions is to do a puzzle on New Years Day.  I love holidays that have no set traditions.  Days that are truely "free".  This year, we chose a 1000 piece Royal Wedding puzzle.  We tend to be a little obsessive when it comes to "puzzle day" and our child care lacks.  The one rule that I had to instill for Charlie is that he had to take breaks to help with the kids.  He did a good job of helping me when I asked.  I look forward to the day that the kids can do puzzle day with us.  Laci got a free pajama day and didn't even have to get dressed yesterday. 

During Calvin's nap, I also got to the neighborhood work out room to get the first run of the year done.  This year's goal is still 400 miles, hoping to be done by Thanksgiving again.  I rewarded my run with a pan of brownies Laci and I shared.  Yum. 

Working on our puzzles

The finished puzzles -
Will and Kate Wedding for Charlie and me, Princess for Laci and the Snowman Stacker for Calvin
For dinner, we had our lazy Sunday afternoon dinner of waffles and fruit.  We had that moment during dinner where we couldn't help but laugh.  Laci had applesauce all over her waffles and then proceeding to drop them all over the floor.  For a simple dinner, we made quite a mess.  I chose cleaning up the kids with baths and Charlie took over the kitchen.  Our lazy day finished with the Lion King for Laci and finishing the puzzle for Charlie and me.  The bonus this year is that we get today off too!  It's faux Sunday here - a cleaning and playing day!