Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Kitchen Table

I grew up where eating together as a family was important.  We ate family style at the kitchen table together everynight.  As the kids got older, kids came and went and dinner was sometimes late.  But there was always a dinner at the table for whoever was there at 6:00 p.m.

I think it is important to continue to eat at the kitchen table together as a family every night.  I must admit that I have not done a good job at it.  Monday through Thursday, it is usually just the kids and me.  On the weekends we tend to go out to dinner.  So I have slacked and I let Laci eat at her little table watching TV.  Calvin and I eat together at the table.  I feel bad about letting Laci eat while watching TV but we are all eating together and she is sitting at a table.  I feel like it is hard to enforce the family table when one fourth of the family isn't there.  Laci knows that if Daddy is home, we all eat together - no exceptions.

Today, the kids and I went to a friends house for dinner.  Her husband was gone tonight.  She has a daughter two years older than Laci and a son Calvin's age so the kids play well together.  They do not have a kitchen table.  They got rid of it and the space where a kitchen table should be has a toy basketball hoop and a potty chair.  They still have a dining room and a table. 

We got pizza and when the pizza came, my kids instinctively went to the dining room table.  I was proud inside. My friend looked over and said "oh, I guess we could eat at the table.  We never do that."  She got out plates and said "Oh, we'll even use plates."  Not eat at a table?  Not use plates?  I know a lot of people eat while watching TV.  Not a big deal.  But with kids, how to you teach manners?  How do you teach using a knife and fork on a lap?  How do you eat on a small child's lap?

I still feel guilty for not eating as a family at the kitchen table every night.  But I am proud of my kids for knowing how to behave and where a dinner together belongs.   

Friday, June 22, 2012

Bye Bye Boppy

Is the boppy (pacifier) gone?  I am sure I am speaking too soon but maybe.  Charlie has been on a kick for a few weeks to take the paci away.  I am more lenient.  They don't allow him to have it at school which I am fine with.  But I usually give it to him when I pick him up - to lots of disappointing looks from the teachers.  That bugs me - if I don't mind him having the pacifier at night, they shouldn't either.  We have gotten to the point that if he doesn't ask for it, we don't give it to him.  

This week was rough.  Two year molars are tough and painful.  He didn't slept well at all.  Monday night, when Charlie wasn't home, he woke up crying every hour from 7:30 - 6 a.m.  That makes a long night for mama.  Tuesday night was better - he only woke up every two hours from 7:30 - 6 a.m.  Wednesday night, we thought he had turned a corner and he slept from 10 - 3:45.  Unfortunately, he was up for the day at 3:45.  Last night he finally slept all night.  Maybe the molars have finally come through.  He had rough days at school too.  

But in all of the bad sleeping, the normal "go back to sleep" tricks didn't work.  He didn't want Ninny (blanket) or boppy.  Sometimes he would be picky and reject the first one or two I handed him and only take a specific one.  Sometimes he would actually hand the boppy to me or throw it across the room.  Is he done with the boppy or does his teeth hurt and the boppy doesn't help?

I don't know.  Last night, he rejected the first two boppies I handed him at bedtime.  I went downstairs and got three more.  I felt like a dealer offering him 5 boppies saying "take your pick".  But then I realized he had settled down while I was collecting the stash of boppies.  So I just left the room.  And didn't hear another peep ... until 3:45 when another small person fell out of her bed.  But she went right back to sleep after a kiss and a hug. 

Are we done with the boppy?  Could it have been that easy?  Probably not.  But it does look like we are on the right track.  Oh, an update on the potty training that I was so excited about last week.  The novelty is gone.  I think we still have a long road ahead of us.  He has gone a couple of other times but it is much more fun to run into the bathroom and play with toothbrushes than actually use the potty. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Another Life Lesson - Showers

Laci is starting to take showers now.  At a birthday party this winter, some of the parents were talking about their girls and showers.  It got me thinking.  When / how does that transition happen?  A few months ago, Laci asked if she could take a shower.  It is a very wet process for me.  Because I have to still do most of the work with washing her hair.  Sometimes, I just get in the shower with her.  I'm soaked anyway.  This past week, she decided she wants to do everything by herself with her hair.  I found myself demonstrating on my hair how to wash it - all of it, bangs, sides, back, not just the top.  I think she is doing okay.  Of course, her favorite part of the shower is soaping up the sponge and drawing on the glass shower door with bubbles.  I have to set a time limit and remind her that showers are not as long as baths.  But it is just one more thing she is learning to do by herself that is reminding me that she is growing up! 

BTW - Calvin loves it when she takes a shower because that means he gets to take a bath by himself.  No sharing toys or space!  For some reason, neither kid has been a big bath sitter.  They both just stand in the tub and play with toys - usually just dumping water everywhere out of cups.  Laci has always liked colder baths so Calvin is usually subjected to cold baths.  I have no idea why.  I hope he is enjoying his warmer baths by himself.  He is doing better with the earplugs and keeps them in the entire bath.  As soon as he is wrapped up in his towel and I tell him he can take out his ear plugs, he is taking them out.  His other favorite part of a bath is putting his animal towel hoods on his head and looking at himself like a lion or monkey.  ROAR!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Talkin' Potties

Calvin is almost 2 and we are approaching the world of Potty Training!  Actually, I thought I had learned some lessons the first time through and I am going to do things a little bit differently.  I am going to do nothing.  That's right, right now I am going to do nothing.  I have always heard that boys potty train later than girls.  And that kids potty train very easily when they are ready.  The struggle comes when they are pushed.  My sister's son is a few months younger than Laci and that is she approach she took.  She had the potty out but she didn't stress over it.  On his third birthday he announced he was done with diapers and that was it.  I stressed and worried about Laci being potty trained, especially when I was pregnant with Calvin.  She moved into the "potty training" class at school when she turned two.  But she didn't start going on the potty for many months.  When she was 2 years old and 8 months, it started to click with her.  After a month, she was potty trained.  It was frustrating for me and it didn't need to be.  So with Calvin, I'm not doing anything.  No frustrations.  No hurry. 

But every kid is so different.  I had put the potty in the bathroom a few weeks ago and he was happy just sitting on it or running around with it on his head.  They moved Calvin up to the 2 year old trainers class this week for Summer Camp.  I love saying that he is in summer camp.  He's so cute.  They do a craft every day and have lots of outdoor activities and water day once a week.  I brought in pull ups as they requested.  Of course, I have about 100 diapers to use at home but we'll get through them.  I didn't expect him to use the potty for awhile.  But lo and behold, he started using it yesterday.  Twice at school and once at home.  They even wrote on his daily report "loves to potty".  I thought that was funny.  Even funnier is that he is still learning to "point down" and there is a lot of clean up involved.  I only had one extra shorts at school and he came home with an extra pair of pink floral shorts from school.  I brought two extra pairs today.  I think he was embarrassed about the shorts because he did not want me taking his picture!   I thought it was adorable.  I know we have a long ways to go and maybe he won't go in the potty again for awhile.  But I was pleasantly surprised at yesterday.  We'll see how the rest of his potty training goes.  We may be done with diapers sooner than we thought if he keeps this up.  Or it may take a year.  I'm sticking to my original plan of following his lead.  His lead just started before I was ready. 

As far as talking, after his second set of tubes, his talking has exploded.  I thought he was talking okay before.  There is such a range when kids talk that I didn't think his talking was behind at all.  But now that he can hear, he talks pretty well too.  Well, pretty well for an almost two year old.  He does two and three word phrases and is constantly repeating us.  It's amazing what a difference being able to hear makes.  Now we feel bad again that he couldn't hear all this time again!  

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Middle of Nowhere...

I love our neighborhood.  We had some friends visit the other day for the first time and the first thing she said was "your neighborhood is in the middle of nowhere!"  I know, isn't it great!  The best part is that we really aren't in the middle of nowhere.  We are three miles from a mall in one direction and three miles from town with Meijer, Walmart, Kohls, any restaurant you can think of, etc. in the other direction  There is just nothing but farms, cows and golf courses in between.  The houses across the street back up to a cow farm and sometimes we see cows from our window.  We see cows on our way to church.  We pass a golf course and llama farm on our way to Meijer.  To Charlie, who really did grow up in the country in the middle of nowhere, we live in town.  I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago.  There are no corn fields.  To me, we live in the middle of nowhere.  We have a neighborhood which I like (sidewalks, playground, trails, neighbors, small yards).  And we are a little secluded which Charlie likes.  We live in a small town that is growing every day.  But we are a suburb of a big town and get the benefits of that.  True, we never do anything there but it is nice to know it is there and available if we ever get back to doing things.  I only have a 25 minute commute and we can get downtown in 40 minutes.  

A few months ago, my parents were visiting.  That night we went outside to see something that I realized I never lived anywhere I could see it - STARS!  Tons and tons of stars!  We are 3 miles from any city lights and we can see STARS!  I know it is still not as many stars as you could see if we really were out in the country.  But to me, it is more stars than I had ever seen.  Charlie is an amateur astronomer and loves to take his telescope out.  Laci loves the telescope too.  If only it got dark before 9:30 p.m. in the summer.  I hope the telescope and starts is something they can share together.  

Laci plays soccer in a neighboring town.  A very very small town - population 2000.  The church she plays soccer at literally is in the middle of corn fields.  I looked around the other day and realized I didn't even know where the actual town was.  So after the game we drove through the town.  It is cute.  My nephew lives on the east coast next to the ocean / bay.  I saw a picture of his t-ball game and the background was the bay full of sail boats.  I sent them a picture of her soccer where the background is corn fields.   I love corn fields.  
The corn fields in the background are still short.

Calvin trying his hand at soccer.

I am most at home with what I am comfortable with and what I know.  I know flat land and I know cornfields.  I get nervous when we drive to the east coast and have to drive through the mountains of West Virginia.  Even the hills of Pennsylvania are more than I am used too.  I breathe a sign of relief when we get back to the flat lands.  I sent Charlie my thoughts about the Ocean from last week.  His response was "I don't get the aha feeling when looking at the ocean but I do get a sense that possibilities are limitless.  Maybe people from the beach get the aha moment when looking at our corn fields."  I have a feeling that I may be the only person that has an aha moment when looking at corn fields.  

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Something about a boy and his dog...

Calvin loves his dog.  Not a real dog, of course.  We're not pet people (new fish are the exception).  But Calvin has become attached to Dog, his stuffed animal.  I love the creativity to name him.  Dog has slept in Calvin's bed forever but he has just started to venture out with him to play on the weekends.  Dog came with us on our vacation.  Dog came everywhere with us.  It is so cute to see Calvin interact with Dog the way Laci is with her dolls.  Calvin feeds Dog.  Calvin gives Dog his pacifier.  Calvin has named his pacifier Boppi.  Calvin kisses Dog.  Calvin walks Dog aroud on the floor.  Calvin loves Dog.  There just something about a boy and his dog.  

Calvin has named his blanket "Ninny". Fortunately, Ninny and Dog came together. They are Taggies and there is a picture of Dog on Ninny. Calvin normally isn't allowed to bring Ninny places but both Dog and Ninny came on vacation with us.  Here he is ready to go home on the last day of vacation. 

Dog - Check, Ninny - Check, Princess Purse - Check  :)

Monday, June 4, 2012

The Ocean

One thing I always struggle with when I am at the ocean is expectations.  For some reason, I think that when I look at the ocean, I am supposed to be awe-inspired.  I think that I am supposed to have this big "Aha" moment and reflect on my past, my present and my future.  Isn't that what other people are doing?  Aren't they sitting there contemplating life?  Seeing God in the nature of the ocean?  Feeling peace?  When I look at the ocean, I see a lot of water.  That's it.  It's beautiful but I am not moved by it.  And then I am slightly disappointed.  I drank my coffee out on the deck every morning to have "my moment".  I couldn't feel the peace and calm of being at the ocean because I was too busy trying to be reflective.  I kept expecting more.   I took a walk on the beach.  I still didn't have my "aha" moment.  I took a walk with Laci on the beach.  I took a walk with Calvin on the beach.  That was closer to it because I was with them but I still didn't feel like I was sharing this big piece of nature and worship with them.  Why don't I feel like I am "supposed" to? 

After a few days of trying and disappointment, I remembered that that isn't for me.  I know some people like to worship in nature.  They see the mountains and the oceans and can feel the power of God there.  I can not.  I finally had to come to the conclusion that it is okay not to have that big "aha" moment.  It still makes me wonder what others are thinking about as they are sitting at the beach watching the ocean.  Are they able to simply enjoy the peace and calmness of the ocean?  I can not.  

We drove through mountains to and from the beach and I also looked out the window looking for the beauty of the mountains.  I was looking for God in nature that I hear people talk about.  I just saw lots of trees.  

We started our drive home on Thursday.  It was a rough drive.  I had a big fight with Charlie and Laci and there was lots of yelling and crying.  Laci finally fell asleep.  After 2 hours, I had to wake her up.  I don't know what she had for lunch but she was Tootie McTooter.  The next thing I knew, Charlie was singing the old camp song "Diarrhea", Calvin was in the back screaming "Rhea!" Rhea!" and Laci was giggling.  I started to smile and realized that this was "my moment".  This chaos of my family being goofy together was what I was looking for at the ocean.  Before we left on our trip, I told Charlie that my favorite parts of vacation are always in the car.  All of us together. I was right.  
My favorite moment was driving to the beach and seeing Laci's face full of excitement the closer we got.  As we got our suits on and headed to the beach, the kids faces were so full of excitement, I thought they were going to explode!  Another "moment" was all of us extended family having dinner together.  I love the craziness of dinner.  I was worried about going on this vacation and was afraid of being with people and out of my routine for too long.  I realized that I have it all backwards.  It's not that I don't want to be with people, it's that I only want to be with people.  I want to do everything on vacation with everyone and I don't want to step on toes, be rude or invite myself on other people's activities.  Maybe others don't want to be with me all the time.  My "moments" and magic come when we are all together - whether it be at the majestic ocean, cramped car, dancing around the house or eating dinner.  It's the people that make me happy and all being together, not the setting or location.  

Sunday morning, we went to church.  I walked in the church and had an "Aha" moment.  This may sound corny or unpopular but church is where I feel the awesomeness of God.  The ocean, mountains and nature is not where I feel peace.  Church is where I feel peace.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Big Decisions

We just got back from vacation and I will write more musings, thoughts and stories on that later.  But just to vent, making big decisions is hard.  Making big decisions that affect the life of your child is even harder.  Having to make those big decisions with the other parent is even harder than that.  Charlie and I have a big decision to make.  We're frustrated because the first half of the decision was made for us by our daycare.  So we are going to frustrate Laci somehow and take away something she was already told she could have.  In the big picture of life, what she is going to have to do will hurt now but now be a blimp on the rest of her life.  But the decision Charlie and I have to make for her is bigger and may affect her negatively or positively over the course of the next 18 years. 

I am a gut decision maker.  I listen and trust my gut.  That is okay for me.  But is that good enough for Laci?  Charlie does not work off his gut.  Can our reasoning and different decision making methods come to the same conclusions?  What to do, what to do!?!

Right now I am going downstairs because I hear them walking in the door with my birthday present.