Friday, March 30, 2012

We are so blessed.

I have had a bad week.  The week started with some bad days and just turned into a bad week.  I felt like I struggled in all aspects - work, children, husband.  The only thing that kept me going is remembering that all bad weeks come to an end and next week will be a good week.  This I know.  Plus, it helps knowing that tonight I am going out with some friends.  I need that!  

I love following blogs.  One that my mom told me about is the family of one of her preschool students.  Their youngest daughter was diagnosed with SMA (Spinal Musclue Atrophy) last year.  I won't go into the details because I don't understand them.  This little girl is Calvin's age.  It is hard to see the toddler in her around her medical difficulties.  But she is a toddler.  A happy energetic toddler that wants everything he wants.  She just has more challenges and struggles.  Their most recent post was of her g-tube for feeding that she just got.  I have a woman in my small group at church with a 2 year old with a g-tube.  I never knew what all that meant until I started reading about it and talking to her.  I know more now.  These children are amazing for what they go through and the smiles they have.  Their smilies in the midst of their challenges make me smile.  I also read a blog occasionally of a friend of a friend with a toddler Calvin's age.  Yesterday, they posted about a minor defect their daughter has in her arm/hand.  They are in Boston now for surgery.  

Suddenly my bad week wasn't so bad.  We have two healthy children that are thriving.  We are so blessed. 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

To be a fly on the wall...

I am starting to see some selfishness and maybe hypocrisy in my parenting.  I talk a good game - My main goal is raising children that become self sufficient adults, good members of society.  That sounds all well and good but harder to do.  I still know that I don't want to hold them back and I want them to grow and experience new things.  I want them to be independent.  But I realize that being independent means being away from me!  I am selfish in that regard.  I want to experience everything with my children.  I hate it when they get to do things and have experiences without me.  Last summer, Laci went on several field trips at school.  Some were small - the park, the movies but they also went to the county fair and the zoo!   She had a great time - without me.  At Thanksgiving, Laci went to the Children's Museum with my brother-in-law and cousins.  I was worried how she would do on an outing with them.  But mostly I was just jealous.  It killed me to be at work when I knew she was having fun and experiencing the museum without me.  My MIL has been asking to take Laci for a weekend or maybe just a day.  She asked again yesterday.  The pit in my stomach formed.  I first wondered why.  Why can't Laci go spend the day with her?  Then it hit me - it bothers me because I want to go too!  I want to be a part of all the special times and experiences she has.  But part of the specialness of spending the day with Grandma is not being with Mom.  I complain sometimes that Laci is too attached to me but maybe I am too attached to her.  Laci is excited to spend the day with Grandma next week.  She even checked with Calvin to make sure he was okay staying home.  He was. 

As she grows up, Laci is going to do lots of things without me - birthday parties, play dates, sleepovers, sporting events, weekends and then a week at Grandma's.  These are things she needs to experience without me.  I just wish I could see her do these things.  I wish I could just be a fly on the wall.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


My kids are not technology saavy but getting closer.  I really haven't done too much on the computer with Laci.  There are so many toddler and preschool games out there.  But she can't work a mouse!  She is so used to the touch screen on my Nook and her LeapPad that she gets frustrated with the mouse.  I should pull it out and try again.  She likes to type the alphabet on the computer.  The first "video game" / electronic we got her was the LeapPad for Christmas.  She loves it.  She really does a good job of taking care of it and not losing the stylus (my fear).  I am amazed at how she can figure things out on it.  I have never done anything on it but put the games on and hand it to her.  She does the rest.  Before she got that, she would play with a calculator and call it her video game.  This is one of those things where being first born is a disadvantage.  We want to wait as long as possible before introducing video games to her.  No Nintendo DS's or Wii's for awhile.  But whenever we give in and get one, Calvin will be 3 years younger when he starts playing than Laci is.  Sometimes he sneaks off with her LeapPad and looks so proud of himself pressing the buttons and screen and doing nothing.  

When it comes to cell phones, Laci is a whiz.  She loves the apps and camera on my iPhone.  It's a work phone so I don't let her get any games for it.  The only apps I have are the free ones I can get from Starbucks.  She was so impressed when I told her I got Dora Skywriting from Starbucks.  Of course, she was devastated when she realized that is the only game that came with the app and I wouldn't let her get the ones that are advertised on the Dora app. Those sneaky app makers messing up my kids with advertising!  

She is just starting to want to call people on the cell phone.  I have two Favorites - my sister and Charlie.  I heard my phone dialing at 7:30 on a Saturday and was terrified that she called a work contact!  Fortunately, it was just my sister and I didn't mind waking her up early on a Saturday.  :)  I rarely text people but Laci loves "texting".  I have found her on her toy cell phone "texting" her cousins.  Last night, she was begging me to call one of her friends mom to set up a play date.  I don't have her number so I told her I would email her later.  Laci handed me the cordless phone and asked me to "text" her.  She reminded me that the last time I texted (emailed) her I used my phone.  Well, it was my cell phone, not my landline phone.  Close but so far. 

To the kids, anything is a phone.  In the car one day, she pulled out an old Sucrets box that my grandfather-in-law had kept small things in (remember we got the car from him) and used it as a cell phone.  I had a magazine in the car and that became my "computer" to receive the messages.  Somehow the Sucrets box made it in the house and I saw Calvin walking around yesterday holding it up like a phone saying "-Ello, -Ello".  Nothing says 90 year old toddler like a Sucrets Box!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Saturday Night's Not Alright...

Saturday night is not Laci's night.  We just can't get over the hump.  Laci is almost done night potty training... again.  Laci was 2 1/2 and completely potty trained, day and night right before Calvin was born.  But when I went back to work, the night time potty training disappeared.  She has had good weeks and bad weeks.  The last few weeks have been really good.  I thought we were almost there.  I told her that if she can go dry 7 days in a row, I would get her the Cinderella game for her LeapPad.  The makers of LeapPad are geniuses and put ads for games on the LeapPad.  This is the first thing she has really and repeated asked for.  So this is the first "reward" we are trying.  She has gotten so close to 7 days - until Day 7, Sunday morning.  This morning was the second Sunday morning (Day 7) in a row where she crawled in bed with me crying at 6 am because she wasn't dry.  So close.  I know she can do it and she is doing so well.  There's always next Day 7, hopefully next Sunday to be a success. 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Laci's Grammar Lesson

Laci's reading is still coming along.  It's a slow process.  Sometimes I think she should be able to just read now.  But it takes time and it is a process.  She still gets the letters "b" and "d" confused.  But she must pay close attention in class and pick everything up that they teach.  Last night we had to stop often for her to review her grammar and spelling rules.  For example -

Silent letters - In "know", both the k and w are silent.  If there are two vowels in a word, the "e" at the end is silent.  

Long and short vowels.  - I always get confused between what a long and short vowel is.  She explained which is which when there is only one vowel in a word and when there are two vowels next to each other and what it is when there is an "e" at the end.  She loves talking about vowels and consonants. 

Sentences - She explained what a sentence was.  

I thought she was going to start defining nouns and verbs.  When that starts happening, I going to need to brush up on what all those things are - nouns, verbs, adverbs, pronouns, etc.! 

Monday, March 19, 2012

Sometimes I set the kids up... And sometimes they do it on their own...

I think sometimes I set my kids up for goofiness.  But then I remind myself that they can do it all on their own.  Yesterday afternoon, Calvin was wearing a red polo onesie.  After his nap, I just left his pants off.  It's a warm day and he can only go around without pants for a little while longer until it is no longer cute, only creepy.  We went outside to take a walk and have a snack by the pond.  I laughed at him walking around without pants carrying my flower lunch box with black argyle socks.  Yep - I set him up for goofiness.

But Saturday, Laci clearly had not grasped the concept of spring and insisted on wearing her winter boots.  So she went to a birthday party and shopping in winter boots.  She has plenty of goofiness all on her own!

What do you want to be when you grow up???

It's interesting to see where we all end up from where we thought we would end up when we were younger.  Children are always asked "What do you want to be when you grow up?"  Laci has really enjoyed space lately and she loves looking at the stars and planets at night.  Charlie has a big interest in this also and will get his telescope out for her.  With daylight savings, this is going to be more difficult to do.  It never gets dark here.  I am exaggerating of course but right now in March, the sun doesn't go down 8.  By July, it doesn't get dark until almost 10.  Try to get a 4 year old to sleep when it is daylight!!!  The other day Laci was talking about going into space to look at the earth.  I told her she could become an astronaut when she grows up.  She reminded me that she wants to be a princess.  We settled on an astronaut princess but we may have to share Daddy as our prince.

Charlie is looking at career changes right now so we talk about that question a lot - What do you want to be when you grow up.  I remember being 12 or 13 and being asked that question.  I distinctly remember writing something for class along the lines of "I think I want to teach preschool when I grow up - or do something with kids.  I know I do not want to an engineer like my dad and brother."  My brother was in college at the time studying engineering.  I think about that sentence a lot because it makes me chuckle.  It's funny how a few years can make such a difference.  By the time I graduated high school, I had changed my tune.  I am now an engineer and very proud of it.  Getting my professional engineering license has been one of my proudest accomplishments.  Even though I have never been a designer or designed anything, I passed the test.  I passed the test that so many others have struggled with.  I have two letters next to my name that give me authority and remind me that I may know what I am doing.  

I thought about my original career dreams to work with children yesterday morning.  I was volunteering in the 2 year old room at church.  Usually there are 4 or 5 kids there.  Laci and Calvin often stay with me even though Calvin is too young and Laci is too old for that room.  She likes to be my "helper".  Yesterday there were 13 children in there - including my two.  It was mass chaos.  I had 2 teenage helpers and one mom randomly stayed the entire hour.  I wasn't sure if she thought we wouldn't be able to handle it or if she was checking things out or if she was overprotective but she stayed the whole hour.  Even with the help, I still never felt like I had total control.  There were a few minutes here or there where I had two or three kids with me reading a book and I could sigh and catch my breath.  But at the end of the hour, I was exhausted.  It proved to me that it takes a special person to be in that line of work and I am not that person! 

After the service, Charlie picked the kids up to get donuts in the dining room while I waited for the parents and my replacement to arrive.  When I got down to the dining room, Charlie handed Calvin to me in the hallway and said "Here take him, I have a mess to clean up." Apparently, instead of donuts, the kids picked up cupcakes with lots of frosting and pudding inside.  Calvin ended up with cupcake and pudding everywhere - and I mean everywhere!  After watching Charlie clean up Calvin and then the table and floor around him, I was starting to question who had a more traumatic morning.  

Friday, March 16, 2012

Rock a Bye My Baby

One of our mottos from early on has been "Good sleep promotes good sleep".  Now that Laci is 4, that motto still rings true!  We have good days and bad days at bedtime.  It seems to go in spurts.  We'll have a few good weeks and then a bad week.  One of the side effects of a bad bedtime routine is going to sleep too late and not enough sleep.  The byproduct of not enough sleep is a misbehaving Laci!  She is set off at the tiniest little thing when she is tired.  She has a very distinct tired tantrum.  I suppose the "silver lining" is that she appears to still be behaving well at school and that the tantrums are only at home.  I am trying to recognize these tired tantrums and am trying not to punish them but to control them.  I know she is not doing it to be naughty.  

This week, the bedtime routine wasn't terrible but she just has trouble falling asleep and will go to great lengths to stay awake.  She was falling asleep way too late.  When we get home from school, the tears have been flowing.  Yesterday, we had another pile on the couch moment as we walked in the door while both kids cuddled me and cried.  Last night, I knew she needed some sleep.  So we quickly read her books and I rocked her.  I stopped rocking her to sleep last fall and told her she is too big to be rocked anymore.  We have been cuddling in bed instead of rocking.  But last night I rocked her.  It was nice and she feel asleep quickly.  I don't want to make it a regular thing.  Sometimes I just have to throw the rules out the window and do what is best for my child in the moment.  She needed sleep and she needed a few minutes of rocking time with Mama.   And I needed a few minutes with my baby...

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Predicability and comfort in old friends

I mentioned a few weeks ago about wanting to be "adopting" by some grandparents nearby.  Fortunately, in some ways we have that family.  Unfortunately, they are still an hour away from us.  But we are honorary members of Charlie's college roommate's extended family.  Charlie has spent every New Year's Eve at their party with the exception of 2 since he was 14 years old.  I quickly learned that to be with Charlie meant being with this family on New Year's Eve.  When they were younger, it was a big party of all of their friends.  Now it is mostly family, a couple of neighbors and us.  They are one of those families where everyone lives nearby.  Charlie's friend and his wife have two kids, both sets of grandparents are in town, his sister and her family are in town and his brother-in-law's parents are in town too.  And we are honorary members of this extended clan.  They are still an hour away but it's nice to know they are there for us and our kids.  As I said before, I want as many people as possible to love and look out for my kids. 

Yesterday was his friend's birthday.  Every March the whole family gets together to go out to dinner for his birthday.  It always seems to be a last minute thing with little notice.  Charlie kept saying we would be going out this weekend for his birthday.  But the call never came.  We even joked at dinner Friday night about a last minute invite.  I told him that we shouldn't be too presumptuous.   Maybe he didn't want to celebrate his 40th birthday.  Charlie sure didn't.  But at 7:30 Friday night, they called and invited us to Outback for an early Saturday dinner.  We always eat this birthday dinner early because it's just easier with a group and kids.  I laughed and thought about how nice to have the predictability and comfort of old friends.  We can count on them and they can count on us.  Their younger son turns 8 next week and Laci and him had fun playing Angry Birds.  Their daughter is 10 and so cute with Calvin.  As we left, Laci commented that we should get together with them more often.  She's right.  We should. 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Part 2 of Parenting

I am realizing that there are two parts of parenting. Part 1. The basics. Making sure that my kids are fed, clothes and sheltered. Over the last 4 years, I think I have that stuff down. I'm not perfect. I'm not great. I'm barely good. But my kids are healthy and happy. I don't think I have screwed them up too much in that department. Still, there is plenty of room for improvement. They can eat more (or any) vegetables. Take more regular baths. But overall, we're good.

Now I feel like I am moving on to the second part of parenting. I have said that from the beginning, my goal as their parent is to make them fully functional adults that can make it successfully in the world. I will miss them when they are gone. But my goal is to let them go. Every day I become more and more in love and infatuated with them and I realize that letting them go will become harder and harder. But that is what I need to do. So now as I am in this second part of parenting, my worries and concerns have changed. I still want them to eat more vegetables. I still want them to be clean. I still want them to wear appropriate clothing. But now I know that I need to teach them to bathe themselves. They need to learn how to pick out their own clothes and find their own sense of style. I need to teach them responsibility. One way to do that is with chores and making them put their own things away. I want to teach them about money and to be fiscally responsible. I want to teach them about faith and how to have a generous heart. I want them to learn how to treat other people and how to respond when they are not treated properly. I want them to be independent, confident and secure in who they are. Sometimes Laci has such an ego and when she tells everyone how great she is, I am reminded that I also need to teach her about humility and grace. I know that the best way I can teach them these things is by example and I need to work to be the person I want them to be. That's where I fear that I have totally screwed them up.

Right now we are making some decisions about Laci's schooling. It feels like such a big decision to me. I feel like we are setting the tone for her academic life which will lead into her social life also. I want to do right by her. I want to encourage her but I don't want to be too overbearing. I am actively trying to gather as much information and ask as many questions as I can about this. One of the people I have been hounding with questions said that it is obvious that I really care. That really meant a lot to me. Especially since the night before I felt like a huge failure as a mother as Laci was screaming and throwing a tantrum. I know the cause of the tantrums and we are working on it but it is still discouraging. Sometimes I think it may be easily to not care so much about the details and this next part. I would stress and worry less. But I don't think it is in me not to care.

I have been warned about this next part of parenting and so far I agree. This is much tougher - much more challenging. I think it will continue to be challenging. As others have told me, the challenges are always there - they are just different as the kids get older. But I can't wait to go through them with my family. And see the adults that they become!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

My Magic Treadmill

I got a run in today.  Due to schedule, the closed gym, etc. I had to take a full week off.  I don't know why Charlie does his streak running.  After a week off, I feel great - much better today.  I had been running about every other day and in the afternoons after my run, I was so tired and beat.  It hardly made the run worth it.  Rest does me good.  I feel good this afternoon.  I didn't get to use my "magic" treadmill.  There is one treadmill, Treadmill 5, at my workout room that I had dubbed the "magic treadmill".  I don't know what it is about it.  But I am faster on it.  I typically run at 6.7 - 6.8 on a regular treadmill.  Towards the end of last year before my Christmas running break, I was running on average 7.0 - 7.2.  I hope to get back there again in a few months.  But on my magic treadmill, I can run at an average of 7.0 now.  At my peak, I average 7.3 - 7.4 on treadmill 5.  My assumption is that the treadmill isn't calibrated corrected.  That makes sense.  But what doesn't make sense is that I can run on Treadmill 5 continuously for 35 minutes without stopping to walk.  I have endurance on that treadmill.  Today, on a regular treadmill, I walked three times.  I have no problem walking every mile or two and taking a break.  But it strange that I have endurance on my magic treadmill.