Thursday, December 20, 2012

I love Santa!

One of my children loves Santa, and has spent the entire last year talking about him, and thinks he is a swell guy. One of my children thinks he is not to be trusted. Can you tell who feels which way?

These pictures were taken at our ward Christmas party (and I even chose one of the less awkward pictures of Kiddo). Babs walked straight up to him (after waiting what must have been an eternity for a two-year old), and settled in on his lap. She didn't talk to him, but was very content to sit there. She seemed surprised when she was handed a present and had to go.

Kiddo, who had talked about talking to Santa in very positive terms before getting to the party, choose differently once we got there. Until she saw all the other kids with presents (coloring books). Then she found the courage to sit with him. She also did not interact with Santa, but got her gift, and did her duty.

Apparently she's not ready for Santa just yet. (But given last year's experience, we're making progress!)

Friday, December 14, 2012

ode to you

This is my sweet girl. Five years ago today I was sitting in the midwife's office, waiting to see if they were going to induce me or not. I had finished collecting all my dissertation data, and had no school commitments for at least a month, and my mom had just flown into town. And when I finally checked into the hospital around 5 pm, I had no idea my girl would make it to me that day (I had never considered a fast labor, but I'm now a believer, seven minute contraction notwithstanding), but she did. Just before 11 pm, she made her grand entrance.

Kiddo is completely not what I expected from my child. (Her best friend in Texas was a complete tomboy. I was once mentioning this to her mother who said, I would have no idea what to do with a girly-girl. Like I do? I thought.) She loves pink, and fancy clothes. She is happiest in a dress (or as she says "girl clothes"). And she loves to dance, especially if that includes twirling. Her lovies are still an old pair of footed pajamas, and a scrap of fabric that used to be a onesie. She is compassionate and patient with her little sister, even though Babs has mostly just antagonized her since she started exercising her free will.

Kiddo is bright, and happy. Everything is an adventure. I recently sat down with her preschool teacher, who pointed out (as I suspected) that Kiddo is way ahead of all the other kids in her academic skills. She worried that Kiddo would be bored. I assured her that was not in Kiddo's personality, and it's true. She excitedly comes home each week telling me about the letter the week, as if she hadn't known that letter, and its sound, for the last three years.

She is helpful, and from reports I overhear from other moms at preschool, much better behaved than a lot of her friends. She wants to learn everything. She often tries to help me with dinner (when I am capable of being helped), and gushes "I want to be just like you mom."

She spent most of the summer picking flowers (weeds) and bringing them to me, to show me how much she loved me. It drove me crazy. But I managed to say thank you every time, knowing that the outpouring of love would eventually be more subtle, and I needed to take it while it came. (I'm expecting more flowers next year though.)

I look into her eyes, which are a lot like mine, and wonder who is this crazy, kind, happy, brilliant child, and how do I keep her that way? I love you Kiddo.

Monday, December 3, 2012

our tree

Doesn't this look like fun? It was! Christmas season is here.

As I put Babs to bed that night, she asked if Santa was coming that night. No, I replied. Tomorrow? she wondered. Still no. But hey, my two-year old can use the word tomorrow correctly in conversation. I'm impressed.

Some of you may think - wow, your first tree since Kiddo was born (which as my sister mentions, was more of my mom's tree, as I had just had my first child, and really couldn't focus on much else). I would like to remind you that we had a tree two years ago. And my kids loved it!

Friday, November 30, 2012

a joke from kiddo

Kiddo shared with my the following joke this morning:
What did the bluebird say to the butterfly?
You look blue-tiful!

She then reported that Daddy makes jokes like that all the time. I'm not sure if she remembered a joke he told him, or made it up herself, but maybe she's starting to get it. (But if I considered yesterday's joke, maybe not.)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

where's kiddo?

For what feels like the ump-teenth time (and with precision like that, you know I've counted correctly) Kiddo yelled from her room this morning: "Mom! Come find me! Pretend you can't find me!"

So I dutifully walked into her room, where it was immediately apparent that she was hiding under her covers. Then we did our little script:
Me: Where is Kiddo? I heard her just a moment ago...
(mostly silence)
Me: I guess I'd better find her. Is she in her doll house?
Kiddo (muffled by covers): No, I don't fit there!
Me: Is she hiding behind the bookcase?
Kiddo: I would never fit there!
Me: Maybe she's in her closet... No...
Me: Well, that was really tiring, I'll just lie down and rest on her bed, (intense giggling)
Me: Wait! This bed, it's giggling, and lumpy! what's wrong here!
Kiddo: It's me! You found me!
Then there's more laughing and tickling.

I was so tired of this game, but she ruined my pity party. After "finding" her today, her little head poked out of the covers and she gushed "This is my favorite game mom." So I suppose I'll be finding her tomorrow too.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

program participation (or Kiddo reads)

The other morning, the girls were in Babs' room. I walked in to find Kiddo reading this book to Babs. It was wonderful. Babs now frequently asks Kiddo to read to her.

I believe in letting kids who are not yet in school drive their own education. I will teach them things, but only when they show desire. Yet I pushed her into this. But only a little bit.

Kiddo came home at the end of preschool last year with a student evaluation. Among many things, it said that she could recognize her name, and those of many of her classmates. I put this with some other things I'd noticed, and decided to try to teach her how to read over the summer.

Her participation in my goal for her changed from day to day, meaning she's like all of us. Some days we would do the minimum daily work, other days she would read, and read, and read.

Since (pre)school started, I've let her do things at her own pace, although I still practice with her some days. She is becoming an independent reader, even if she doesn't recognize it.

Two Sundays before the primary program, she got assigned her part. In the initial practice, as each child's name was called, he or she came to the podium, repeated the sentence told to him or her by the leaders, then sat down. Unless the assignment was a talk, those children just came up, got the assignment paper, then sat back down. Kiddo was assigned a talk, but didn't understand that she was just supposed to come back down without saying anything. So she stood there, expectently, waiting for someone to tell her what to say. When no help came, she looked at her paper, and clearly read "I am blessed when I choose the right." By that point I got her attention, and had her sit down.

That week, I wrote her a five paragraph talk, which she read for the program. It may not have been written by herself, (I already had her write her own talk, she's not ready for that yet) but it was delivered as well as any of the older kids did, and better than many of them.

Disturbingly, I made her read it about four times to practice. But she recited it almost entirely from memory when the actual program came around.This recitation caused me no small amount of angst, because she had been cracking a joke about her talk for the last few days, and I was very worried it would make it into the talk. She kept to the script though.

As well as her own independent reading, she reads her verse in the scriptures with us each night.

She notices things written all the time. I am becoming aware that if I don't want her to read it, I need to write in cursive.

I am so proud of her.

Friday, November 9, 2012


 A few weeks ago Kiddo had a primary lesson on service. It seemed to really stick. The next Saturday, as we were outside (talking to our landlord I believe) she saw that our neighbors hadn't started raking their leaves, and decided she would help. She found her rake, and headed on over.

Well, you have to support a blossoming understanding of service, right? So my husband found his rake, and the two of them worked at it.

Most of the work by Kiddo stopped once there was a serious pile of leaves, but I was proud of her anyway.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

mad, mad

Babs has an very good understanding of mad. It's an emotion that she quickly identifies in others, and in herself. She is also quick to assign the emotion to her toys that may have "mad faces." In fact, while we were playing with a dress-up puzzle yesterday, she even dressed him in his "mad shirt," which was red. In her pretend play, people get made all the time.

The other night she was getting in major trouble (because she likes to throw cups of water on the floor, but only at dinner time). Babs was discussing with her daddy the end of her time out, and the conversation went something like this:

D: What did you do wrong?

B: I dun-no.

D: You threw water. We do not throw water.

B: We don't throw water. Then daddy gets MAD.

D: Yes, I am mad.
B: Then I get MAD. I MAD! My time-out is done. I need to wash my sticky hands!

Her fixation with being mad is always surprising to me. Perhaps because Kiddo had to teach herself what mad is. But Babs has always known, and seems to identify with it really well.

Here she is, not so mad.


For my birthday, my mother-in-law bought me tickets to see the musical Wicked. It was amazing, and I highly recommend it. She was supposed to be our babysitter for the event, but the hurricane kept her away, and we had to find someone else. We asked a newly married couple in our ward that know our kids (he's happy to quietly play with them at church), because we knew we'd be out pretty late, and it was a school night. The kids were very excited to have babysitters, and were thrilled to have someone new to tell all their stories too.

They played with them for a bit, then put them to bed. We had put their jammies on, and told the couple that when it was time, they should read them some stories, then put them in their beds. I told them that I assumed Kiddo would just go to her bed and put herself to sleep. I also said that Babs might be a bit harder. I suggested they could just put her in her crib, and close the door and let herself cry it out. But, I am quick to assure babysitters that they are the ones with my kids, so they should do whatever they can live with.

Babs tried multiple ploys to not go to bed. She informed them that her mommy wanted her to be up. She asked for a bandaid. She tried every excuse she could think of. They tag-teamed rocking her, and trying to get her to peacefully go down.

Which she eventually did, because she was asleep when we got home.

Our friends are good people.

Friday, November 2, 2012

some things about kiddo

During nap/rest time today, Kiddo was alone in her room talking to some of her imaginary people. Was she introducing herself to her class/ teaching? I don't know. I do know that she made an itemized list of 30 things about herself. Unfortunately I only managed to remember about 15 of them, and I am not able to list them in the order they came in. But I love these windows into her soul. (It's important to list the number before the item, because she did label each one.)

8. I have a lot of candy [from Halloween].
9. My mom doesn't think I should eat very much candy.
10. My dad thinks I should eat candy after three meals, breakfast, one; lunch, two; and three is dinner.
16. Most of my room is pink; it's my favorite color!
17. We'll be moving into a new house soon.
18. My parents want me to know that when we move we'll get a kitty-cat!
19. I have lots of books, stuffed animals, and toys that I don't want my little sister to touch.
21. When I grow up I want to be an artist. Not a firefighter, or an astronaut, but just an artist.
22. I love to paint. Not color in the lines, or crayon, or marker, just paint.
25. I have lots of dresses, two are matching with my sister, and one is a costume.
26. I have a Cinderella light with an "on-screw" that is very hard to turn.
27. I love being a girl.
29. We had a Halloween party at preschool today.
30. I have lots of dresses, shirts, and skirts. Sometimes my mom makes me wear leggings, pants, jeans or shorts.

Speaking of windows into her soul, Babs was teasing her this afternoon, as always. I tried to explain to Kiddo AGAIN that Babs was just teasing. (Specifically today, every time Kiddo tried to assert that she was the big sister, Babs would say no. Kiddo was so distressed that Babs wouldn't listen to her.) "She teases. That's what she does." I stressed.

"I don't tease," replied Kiddo solemnly.

And my heart reached out to her, without possibly having the words to express to her how deeply I understood her. I know she doesn't tease, and barely understands the concept. I know that this will be a (seemingly) never ending source of misunderstanding between her and her sister (because Babs loves to tease), and be a source of joy to her sister. And I get it, because it took me years to learn to tease (and more importantly, take a tease) myself. Yes, my little sincere one, I know, you don't tease.

Last night the girls were watching something on the computer, and my husband and I went downstairs to watch TV (they didn't follow us, it was strange). When we finally came upstairs again, there was Kiddo, bravely trying to watch her site while Babs was gleefully twisting her hair in knots. I told Babs, not for the first time, what an amazingly patient and good big sister she had. The typical child would have been whomped in that situation.


Halloween started early this year with our church's Fall Harvest/Trunk or Treat activity. It ended late with Kiddo's preschool party being held today, two days after halloween. In the middle we actually did some trick-or-treating. Given the option, Kiddo would continue the festivities, and attempted to throw a Halloween party tomorrow. I had to tell her that is not how parties work (not in this house any way) and convinced her to wait until her birthday.

We spent a lot of September, and some of October, discussing various costume ideas. I was adamant that we would make no costume decisions until after my birthday. After many ideas floated by Kiddo, once she found her old Snow White costume, she knew exactly what she wanted to be, and I spent an hour and half repairing the ripped tulle so it was ready. (Not to be confused with the second time, my husband and I tag teaming the mending of the gigantic rip across the front.) She was very excited to be a beautiful princess, because they are not scary and are nice, which is exactly what Kiddo wants from life. We tried to convince Babs to be a little witch, my husband even bought her a hat. But she told anyone and everyone that would listen that she was going to be Jessie. So the day before the party I bought her a Jessie hat, and the day of the party I made her some Jessie pants, and a braid for the hat. She was very, very excited.

I also invited a girl from Kiddo's school and her mom to the party. I may not have done that had I known what my ward party would be like. First, the lights in the gym were almost all off, so it was pretty dark (mood lighting I know). They announced that adults were encouraged to be in costumes, so I made my first costume in decades. (No pictures, sorry, but also no big deal. I sewed some leaves on my brown T-shirt and went as fall. I'll tell you what though, small kids loved it.) And, as announced, there were lots of adults in costumes, and many of them were pretty scary for little kids. No masks, of course, just dark face paint. How could I have expected this? The end result of the lights, noise, and costumes was that Kiddo shut down, and did not want to associate with any one. In fact, she spent about half the activity sitting out in the (well-lit, quiet) foyer with my husband, leaving me there with our potential new friends. Thank goodness for Babs, our little ambassador, who played all night with Kiddo's preschool friend. In fact, the two of them are now better friends than Kiddo and the girl.

Babs did take two breaks from playing. One was for a diaper change, and the other was when she found one of the five-year old boys who dressed as Woody. Babs spotted him, and yelled "WOODY!" then ran up to him and said, "It's me! Jessie!" The boy was not excited to see Jessie, and pulled his hat low over his face, as if this would hide him, and tried to get away. I really should have grabbed her, but it was so funny the way she was chasing him, yelling about how here she was, Jessie! But then he looked so uncomfortable I finally tried to convince her to stay at the table.

When we got the trunk-or-treat portion of the party, a small announcement was made. "It's raining." I assumed that would be followed by an announcement that we'd move it indoors, but no, they just let us know it was raining. In the 10 minutes we were outside it moved from a sincere sprinkle to thunder, lightening, and serious rain fall. So we yelled a brief goodbye to our visitors, strapped soaking wet children into our van and came home.

Compared to that, our Halloween was pretty tame. Preschool was still cancelled that day (see our hurricane event), so we just stayed home again. After bribing our children to eat some dinner, we layered them up with multiple undergarments, and they went trick-or-treating with their dad. They visited ten or so houses, and by then their small buckets were full, their daddy was tired of carrying Babs, and he brought them home. They LOVED it! (My husband was not as sour as this picture would lead you to believe. But I was pretty sure that asking him to take another picture would not lead to a happier face.)

And here they are, home with the loot!

Then two days later was the preschool party. They played fun music, decorated cookies, made crafts and dressed up. What a perfect day for Kiddo. And this holiday is finally past for another year.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

a super hurricane

Hurricane Sandy blew through our neck of the woods this week. The devestation is wreaked on many areas of the country is mind-boggling. But, where I live, as my friend noted, if I hadn't known it was a hurricane, I would have thought we just had a big rainstorm.

Except we were prepared for a hurricane. So, my husband got a day and a half off work, which we've spent hanging out at the house, enjoying some time to not do errands, not go to preschool, and just be here.

This morning we had a scavenger hunt to find a new toy. This afternoon I went for Bab's blood draw* without the pressure of an older (freaking out) sister in the room. The girls both took a nap yesterday afternoon, giving us some precious quiet time. I didn't have to make dinner tonight.

Of course, it's not all perfect. For example, Grandma was supposed to be here, bathing our girls for us as I write this. But the 50 mph winds last night made for a cancelled trip. Oh, she'll be here soon, but not this week.

But it was pretty close.

* It's the fever thing. And the fact that she tells me at least once a day that she's tired and needs a nap. Really? At two? No, that's just not normal. So we're testing all sorts of things as the Dr. and I try to figure out what's going on.

Friday, October 26, 2012

fired from parenting

One afternoon this week, Kiddo called me "Mom." Babs retorted, "No, she's a parent!" Except she had to say it about four times before we understood what she was saying. And by then, Kiddo decided that was no good for her.

"You're not my parent," she told me.

"Oh?" I replied.

"I just want to take care of myself," she replied. Considering I'm currently (always?) overwhelmed with the idea of caring for the physical needs of two small children, I was intrigued by this turn of events. In fact, I couldn't respond to her for a few minutes while I chose not to reply with the vaguely sarcastic comments that kept running through my mind. I also considered how freaked out she could get if I pushed the idea of independence (which scares her frequently).

"Well, where will you live?" I asked.

"In my room."

"Oh. What will you eat?" I wondered.

"I think I need one of those toys that is a kitchen set. Then I would have a place to make food in my room."

I made some comment about the great pretend food she could enjoy, and a few moments later she stood up and went off to her room.

Five minutes later she was back. "I would miss you too much if I left!" she exclaimed.

Me too.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

meet Bullseye

Also pictured are Woody and Jessie. We really like Toy Story 3 around here.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

going to the farm

On Monday I took the girls to a local petting farm, as part of a preschool field trip. Each family drives themselves, which was probably for the best, because we had a deep theological discussion on the way (yes, me, and the four-year old). "Mom, how far away is heaven?" and "How are we born again?"

As I talked about baptism, Babs joined the conversation: I don't want to be baptized! Fine, I replied, knowing better than to take such a statement from a toddler seriously. But Kiddo didn't, and informed her that she could get baptized when she was 8. There was a fair amount of back and forth, involving many statements about not being baptized by Babs, many about being baptized by Kiddo, and a discussion of whether or not Mommy would be baptizing (let's be clear: I will not be). By the time we got to the farm, Babs was converted, and yelled frequently for the first five minutes "I want to be baptized!" to anyone who might walk within 50 feet of us. Luckily, other kids started showing up soon, which distracted her mission.

We spent the first 20 minutes inside with some other girls from preschool, but then interests diverged, and then it was just me, Kiddo and Babs. There were pygmy goats, which meant they came up to Babs' chest. One was roaming outside the pen when we first got there, so we got to pet it. I finally convinced my kids to feed the animals, "That tickles!" was both of their assessment of it. But they loved it, and went back again and again to get more feed. Babs especially loved feeding and patting the one that was wandering around. I eventually convinced them to see some other things.

We pet baby chicks, and baby pigs. We visited the turkeys, and saw the horses. With a lot of help from the farm workers we got milk from a two cows. And we rode on the hay ride, which was absolutely a thrill.

After the hay ride, I was pretty much done, so I convinced them to do one more visit to the goat, and then go home. Except first we had to go through the maze. And then see the hay bale sculpture. But then I walked them to the pumpkin pile, just before the exit, and had even picked out two of our three pumpkins, when Kiddo heard the announcement. She really wanted to go see whatever fun was happening at the gathering of people. So we went to learn more about heifers (do you know the difference between a heifer and a cow? I didn't). While there we also got to see a short pig race, which is always exciting for Kiddo.

The rain that had gently come and gone throughout the morning started to come down more seriously while we were learning about heifers, and Kiddo asked for my jacket to cover her head. I went to get her own jacket, and realized that we had lost her hoodie.

Sigh, sigh, sigh, for many reasons. It was green, so it wouldn't be obvious on the grass. We'd been a lot of places since I last remembered seeing it, so we had a lot of ground to cover (hilly, grassy ground, with at least one kid in the stroller because they were now too tired to ignore it). And, perhaps most frustrating would be Kiddo's inevitable reaction when she learned it was gone. She is petrified of losing things. She won't watch shows when things get lost (even though she knows they will be found), she won't read books about losing things. She does not like things to be gone.

I was not disappointed. Kiddo was distraught. After a few minutes of fast negotiating, she accepted that, no, I could not make the jacket un-lost just by saying so. And the crying started. And continued. And continued while we wandered around the farm area, looking for a small sage green hoodie.

Kiddo, worn out before realizing the jacket was gone, sat in the stroller while I pushed it around. To her frustration and sorrow, I put Babs on her lap so I could just push both of them. (Wow, that stroller is amazing.) Babs wasn't quite sure why Kiddo was crying, and alternately tried to hug her to help her feel better, or cried along with her. I found neither actions particularly helpful.

Before too long, it was too hard to keep the crying up, so she racheted up the behavior to loud wailing. It was then that I put my foot down and said: There will be none of that. I will accept crying. But there is no wailing in public. And so she returned to loud crying. (She was not happy I took this picture. But I figured after how long she'd been crying, I deserved to document it.)

After walking by all the places we'd been, there was still no hoodie. Babs was now walking. I parked the strolled near the exit and told Kiddo to stay put so I could a) ask at the lost and found, b) pick out my pumpkin, and c) check near the turkey pens. I could do all these things within sight of her, and was tired of pushing the stroller.

About now, this whole experience had moved to high comedy. I had no luck at the lost and found. But I also realized Babs was no longer following me. I turned around to tell her (with very little patience) "Come here!" She looked at me, looked at her feet where she was standing in a dirt patch, and whined "I can't! I stuck in the mud!"

I picked her up (easily, as there was no mud to be stuck in), carried her to the stroller, set her next to the stroller, and informed her she would be walking with me to the car, and started pushing. It should be noted that Kiddo was still crying, and Babs was still whining.

I finally reached the car, and turned around to see Babs had stopped 15 feet back. She put on her saddest face and yelled "I just want to be baptized!"

Saturday, October 13, 2012

funny dark

Do you want to play a game with us? Kiddo dreamed it up, but Babs is the great believer. We play it (way more) often (than I'd like) after Babs wakes up, but before I get her out of her crib.

Here's how it works:
Babs switches the light on, then switches it off. Every time the light is turned off, we are supposed to laugh. When the light is turned back on, we stop, often I am expected to say "Oh!" as if I'm surprised. This continues until I can't stand it a moment longer. Sometimes, to add more variety, Babs turns the light on and off really fast, while I make a bunch of silly noises until she settles on one or the other (briefly).

Because I want my children to feel loved, and to have lots of fun, I play this game a lot. Today though, I'm not very fun at all, and when asked "Do you want to play funny dark?" I finally said what I always want to say: "no, I absolutely do not want to play" and that was that.

I'm sure I'll get to play again tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

war's begun

Kiddo wanted to watch YouTube on my iPhone during Saturday conference, so I told her sure. She loves watching toy reviews for play-doh on it. I then sent her into the other room, so I could hear conference. About 20 minutes later my husband found her watching a video of a video game, one which can only be described as inappropriate. We're pretty sure she didn't know what she was seeing, but she still saw it. Although I have been careful with what they watch on YouTube, and how they watch it, with that one moment of less vigilance, everything changed. Now we've established tighter rules on her watching. (Which frankly she loves. She watches it with me now, so she gets my undivided attention in a way that makes me want to scream, and seems perfect to her.)

This afternoon she pulled her dress off her shoulder, explaining to me that it was prettier that way. I just replied (continuing a conversation theme we pick up now and then), with less patience than usual, is that what it did was make her look immodest. And I told her to pull it back up. She responded by ducking down where I couldn't see her (her response when she thinks she's in trouble), then running to her room saying "I'll show you what I mean!"

I rolled my eyes, and started wondering a) what I'd find when I followed her to her room, and b) where she picked up that showing her shoulder was a pretty thing to do?

She ran back in wearing her dress with the halter top (that she has always worn with a shirt underneath) without a shirt. "See mom, like this." And then I just got sad. Why does my 4-year old think she looks prettier with her shoulders showing? and for that matter with make-up, and probably nail polish? It is impossible that she got this message from me. We live a sheltered life, but apparently it is not sheltered enough.

Now we need a real conversation about modesty, not only what it is, but why it is. And some serious contemplation about how to teach her about her beautiful amazing body that does not go on display. And a major sigh that it is starting so soon, when she understands so little.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

some good some bad (at the aquarium)

On a whim this morning, I decided to take my kids to the aquarium (we have annual passes after all). After convincing them that we had to go to the big one (not the small, less accessible one) and that we would not be seeing "baby jack" or any of his family, we were on our way.

Aren't I spontaneous? I thought to myself, as the aquarium was not on our to-do list today. Kiddo brought her drawing bag (it nicely holds paper, markers, pencils, scissors, and glue), in case she needed to draw something. And Babs had her Jesse and Woody figures tightly in her fists. The drive up was pleasant, and it's always nice to use the members entrance. As we stopped to look at the fish in the first tank, and comment on colors and such I thought "this is going to be a great trip."

But before too long, Kiddo was running far ahead of me, Babs was screaming (pleasantly) at the man who welcomed us because she was so excited, and I wasn't so sure this was the right idea after all. Kiddo rushed past most of the exhibits without a second glance, so my time to enjoy the fishes was cut short. She did stop to draw a picture of the grouper fish though, so that was nice.

As we were approaching the shark tank, Babs approached me, and seriously reported, "Jesse's gone. She fell down." And I looked over the wall, and there was the Jesse figure, lying two stories down on the roof of some construction site. "Oh, Babs," was all I could say, as I took Woody and put him in my pocket, hoping that we could hold on to one of them.

I was torn. Do I ask some poor employee to try to help, or do I just accept the loss (knowing she was replaceable)? Kiddo answered that question for me as she came back to where we were standing, saw the Jesse figure, and started in with the hysterics. This clued Babs into the seriousness of the situation, so she started crying too. I calmed them both down slightly, and headed toward the information desk, where they could at least find someone in charge. There was a lot of crying and weeping. I asked the welcoming man, who found some sort of manager, who found the foreman, who (quite easily) retrieved Jesse. I stuck her in my pocket too. 

After that we saw the dolphins (always amazing) and played in the children's section. Then we saw the jellyfish, and by request, had "french fries in the aquarium." (Babs loves french fries.) "And how about the ketchup?" which, once she finished all her fries and chicken, she hopefully asked if she could eat with her fingers?

The trip home took an hour, as opposed to the 30 minutes I expected because a car almost ran into us (thank goodness for good breaks) and then a traffic jam. And as I pondered on all the hard parts of the day, I wondered why I even try. Is this how all the excursions I remember so fondly as a child went? One disaster after another for my mom? Then why did she keep at them?

Then a quiet thought reminded me that the day was what I make it. I could remember the glory of the dolphins, the fact that we didn't get hit, Kiddo's sincere desire to do art wherever she goes, Babs head on my shoulder as we walked back to the car, and realize it was a good day after all.


Just before dinner, Kiddo asked if we could do play-doh. No, I responded, we can't. Why not, she wondered. Because it's not on our to-do list today, was the answer I came up with. The aquarium was, not play-doh. We'll do that tomorrow, I assured her.

A little later she came running over with my actual to-do list (which did not have aquarium on it) and pointed out: We're supposed to do YouTube! How do you know that? I questioned. It's on the list! she triumphantly announced. It was, back from when I didn't know we were going to the aquarium today. I can't believe I thought it was a good idea to teach her how to read.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

General Conference & NPR

This weekend is our church's semi-annual General Conference, where our prophets and apostles share with us messages from our Heavenly Father.

I keep working on making it meaningful for the little girls, even if it's hard for them to understand, and to have patience with the length. There are a lot of choir songs, which they like, and a lot of talks, which do not keep their attention. But one thing I have succeeded at is hyping up the experience, so Kiddo is very excited about it.

Yesterday afternoon I had NPR's All Things Considered playing while I made dinner. A new story started, with a church organ playing, then the iconic quote voiced by an old man "Maw-aige, maw-aige is what brings us to-ge-ther, today" from Princess Bride.

"General Conference!" Kiddo yelled.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

happy birthday to me

My birthday was earlier this week. It was a fun day because my kids are just old enough to understand the birthdays are really fun. (Did it hurt that I sang a silly song all Sunday about the next day being my birthday?)

My husband planned to make me one of my favorite dinners and a magnificent cake when he got home from work, but came home with an intense (and I mean, intense) headache. So instead we got take-out. (Bad take-out, like where the kids McDonald's cold french fries looked appetizing. But in an attitude that was cultivated in graduate school, we did not see the meal as a loss. Now we know we don't like this particular restaurant, and never have to wonder about it again.) After that, my husband and girls made me a super chocolate-y cake, and then went to wrap presents.

I got a lot of fun presents. Babs and Daddy had replaced the batteries in my watch. When I opened the present, she announced to me that they gave the watch to the man, and he fixed it. Kiddo got me gardening gloves, and a kneeling pad from my husband so I can get all the weeds up. I got fancy scissors from my parents, and a book. I got tickets to a play from my mother-in-law, and a fancy fruit arrangement from my sister-in-law. Plus a magazine subscription from my sister, and phone calls and texts from my brothers. Birthdays are nice like that.

As we were approaching the end of the presents, Babs came over and had me put my gloves on her hands. Then she started giving me lots of little kisses, all over my cheeks and nose. Really, is there much sweeter than toddler kisses? But she kept at it, for much longer than time than her attention span would suggest. She took my face in her ridiculously gloved hands, looked me in the eye, and said "Kisses for my Bullseye"  kissed me one more time and ran off to play.

I know I'm a mom, because that was the best moment of the day.

Monday, October 1, 2012


I teach child Sunday School at my church (except we call it Primary). I, along with two other ladies, teach all the kids that started the year 4 years old, and at some point have/will be turning 5.

When I was first called to this position, I had only five kids in my class. They came every week, stayed in their chairs (mostly), and we had a good little class. The other two teachers worked with everyone else. Their class size ranged from two to eight kids on any given week, and as such, the class dynamics changed accordingly. Their two kids that came every week are also the two that have the hardest behavior issues. (They had the more complicated class because there were two teachers.) But the differences, which we thought we understood when the class was split, ended up being much bigger in practice than on paper. So three weeks ago we combined the classes (and teachers).

Because Babs was sick, then I was visiting my grandma p, last week was my first week there. We had eleven kids. That is a huge number of kids of this age. They really did quite well, and we had a pretty good lesson. Most of the kids do want to be engaged, and try to learn and participate. But eleven! It means that it's harder to get to know them, it's harder to involve them, and behavior expectations went up, because things that work with five kids do not work with eleven.

I will miss my intimate little class. But I think this is good for them for right now. And we'll have a chance to shuffle them up again in a few months, when they move up a year for their new class in January.

Friday, September 28, 2012

baking with preschoolers

Last night Kiddo and I made cookies. While I was doing the dishes afterward, she did a little baking of her own.

Using the cookie dough bowl, she made "water cookies." Her recipe: First you add a lot of water. Then 1/2 cup of flour, 2 teaspoons of sugar, and a lot of salt. Then add some raspberry jam to make it pink, but that doesn't work so well. Stir it a lot, and possibly add more water.

At the end, she was surprised that it didn't solidify into some dough like substance. "I guess it will take more practice" she surmised. But, ever the optimist, she tried some.

"It tastes like beach water!"

In a great act of motherhood, when she offered me a taste, I tried some, and as I suspected, it tasted exactly like beach water.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

waking up

Babs almost always wakes up happy, and sings or chats in her crib a little before she wants to be picked up. She bounces up and is very excited to see me. But often, moments after I arrive she furrows her little brow, and says "First, we got to fix my hair." meaning that we need to brush it out of her face. I crack up every time she asks.

Is it her hysterical little mad face? Is it the fact that her hair will be in her face her whole life, given how it grows? Is it the utter sincerity with which she utters the phrase? I don't know. But it is so hard to take her seriously. I love two-year olds.

The other day, she asked me for something (I believe it was along the lines of, can you get me the dolly that Kiddo doesn't like me to play with?). I repeated the request back to her, because I thought it was so funny, and she nodded her head yes. I was lost in the moment, and didn't immediately act. She paused, looked at me, and said "That means yes, mom."

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

time off

I flew out to visit my grandma and aunt in Seattle last weekend for a short visit. I was only there for two days, but I was grateful to even have that much time. On the flight out I had to use the airplane lavatory, and I think my weekend could be summed up by my thought there: wow, this room is pretty spacious! It's the first time I've been in one without at least one small child since Kiddo was born. This was the first time I've left them with my husband alone for more than a few hours. I trust him, but have never had the need or the opportunity.

It was really nice. We went to our favorite fish place, and I just felt guilty for not having my kids there, because there was water, and a park, and things they would love. But from then on, I just slipped into Grandma mode, a time where you can forget your life responsibilities, and just be loved. I went with them to a hockey game (in which their team was royally beaten) and just hung out. We talked, and I read books, and it was very quiet and enjoyable. Grandma brings out my smart aleck side. I believe it a combination of memories of my grandpa, who was a royal tease, and something about our relationship. Her stories of me as a child have a strong sassy side to them too. But I don't think she cares, because she likes a good laugh.

My superstar husband held down the fort while I was gone. I think he and the girls had fun. And, this morning Kiddo came down to our bedroom before we were up. My husband looked at her, and motioned for her to come to him. She came. This is a momentous occasion, up until this weekend she would have made a mad dash for me, hoping he wouldn't stop her. Something this weekend made it so he was on par with me. That is a blessing worth the lost sleep and crazy visit entirely.

But mostly the visit was worthwhile because I got to see that great lady who is my grandma again. And I love her. (I'm debating whether to post the one picture I took while there. It's grainy, and grandma looks like she's half asleep. I didn't notice the closed eyes when I glanced at the picture before hopping out of the car. It's good of me though...)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

you be...

Have I mentioned we're going through a Toy Story phase around here? I spend as much time as I can handle (and way less time than Babs would like) being Bulls-eye each day.

But today I got a little reprieve. We read an illustrated Christmas Story book today, so Kiddo thought it would be great to put on a little nativity. Kiddo's Cabbage Patch Kid was assigned the role of Baby Jesus. Kiddo was Mary, Babs was Joseph, and I floated around being various characters (shepherd, angel, wise man). Later, long after Kiddo had tired of the game, Babs was still assigning roles. "I be Mary, you be Joseph." Then we had to sit around the basket, looking at Baby Jesus.

Out of the mouth of babes: Each time we crowded around the basket, Babs would look at me and gush "Look at Baby Jesus. She's so cute." (We're still struggling with pronouns around here.) It made me think, of course Mary told Joseph a hundred times how cute the baby was, and he had to agree. That's what new parents do. But I don't spend enough time thinking of them as parents.I'm glad Babs did.

By the end of the night, the doll was still Baby Jesus, Babs was still Mary, but I was somehow Bulls-Eye again, worshipping Baby Jesus along with the rest of the group.


The Cabbage Patch doll is also referred to as "the sponge doll" and has spent much of the last few months in a basket with a lot of other toys and dolls. This morning she was rediscovered, and immediately became the object of much affection, and fighting. Both girls wanted this doll, and only this doll. And neither one had any solid claim. She is Kiddo's doll, but Kiddo doesn't care about dolls, Babs does. But Babs would not accept any of the other 5 or so dolls we have around here, all which have been the object of her undying love at one point or another. It was a long morning.


Babs is completely in the pretend phase. Each day we get assigned our characters from some show. I grin and bear it, knowing it is just a phase, remembering that Kiddo went through exactly the same thing. How many days was I Linnie from the Wonder Pets? A lot. But Kiddo is not a current fan of let's pretend. Each time Babs tries to assign her a character, she recoils, and yells how she does not want to pretend. Do you think this is payback for how poorly Babs played her character assignments from when she was 3 mos. old?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

what was that again?

The things Babs wants to express to us have once again exceeded her ability to pronounce them. So even though I spend all day with her, I don't understand a lot of what she's saying these days. I alternately say "I don't understand you" or give some sort of non-committal reply.

A few days ago my husband and I were discussing this after dinner. He wondered if I had noticed that Kiddo seemed to understand her better. And I agreed that I had noticed that.

This morning, as Babs is almost, but not quite better, I asked her what she wanted to eat. She whined some answer that was specific, but unintelligible to me. I had her repeat herself, but it was not any easier to understand. After the third repeat, I was desperate, but still couldn't understand her. (I knew if I guessed wrong she would start crying again, and then I'd have no chance of understanding her at all. And she'd possibly change her mind about eating in the first place.)

"Kiddo," I tried, "Do you know what Babs is saying?"

"She wants Cheerios and milk like the pig is eating."

It's important to note, Kiddo was right.

Monday, September 10, 2012

when you grow up

In central PA, there is an amazing annual used book sale. You can imagine that, even with incredible deals, it broke our bank each time. One book we got there was Richard Scarry's Best Story Book Ever.

Last night we were looking at the "When You Grow Up" page. I asked Kiddo what she would like to be when she grows up. "An artist!" she exclaimed, "I'm a great artist!" This matches what she's been saying for weeks, and the huge gallery of pictures she had taped to the wall throughout the afternoon.

Babs was also reading with us. Her answer to what to become was much more exact. "A fox."

Sunday, September 9, 2012

some things worth remembering

The other night Babs wanted me to play "baby." "You be the baby," she instructed, trying to hand me a dolly. I was sick of being the baby. I thought I might have to throw myself out the window so I could have a break from being the baby. So I told her no. She asked more insistently. I replied no again (lest you think I'm too heartless, I was eating dinner at the time). Then she screamed "Let's try again! You be the baby!"

After trying to suppress a smile, I said yes. While I'm not a fan of screaming, and especially obeying their screaming, I had to say yes. "Let's try again" is code from me to my kids indicating that they need to ask again nicer, or give a different answer, and I'm giving them another try before they have consequences. If she can use the code words for me, showing she understands them, then I guess I'll respect them.

Kiddo loves to laugh, and she loves when things are funny. An afternoon activity that made her extraordinarily happy was the day we sat on the couch and told each other meaningless jokes, then laughed hysterically after each one. Since almost every joke is meaningless to a four year old (connecting the multiple meanings of words is just a little beyond their literal brains), it's easy to make up more.

But Kiddo does not get friendly teasing. She doesn't understand it, and it often upsets her. She understands though, that it's supposed to be funny, so she is trying. I love how she talks about it though. When her daddy says things that are teasing, or that she wants to be teasing, she says "Daddy's joking me." Or when she thinks shes being pretty clever, she'll say "I joked you." I love how she's made the noun into a verb. She also "jokes you" when she's about to do something wrong, and she knows it, as if making it a joke makes it okay. Friendly teasing is such a hard concept.

Yesterday Kiddo was hording her lunch, as she often does. She was afraid her dad would take some of it. (Not an irrational fear at all.) He eventually did take one of her chicken nuggets off her plate as he was leaving the kitchen to answer the phone. "Mom," Kiddo said with some urgency, "Dad just sneaked some. He broke a commandment."

Yup. He's a sinner. When discussing the 10 commandments the last Sunday in church, the phrasing for "Thou shalt not steal" was tempered for a young child's understanding to no sneaking. And for sure Daddy did. But it's okay, because he was just joking her.

hot girl again...

As soon as we dropped Kiddo off at preschool on Friday, Babs knew exactly what she wanted to do: watch Toy Story [3]. Sigh. I don't want her to get into the habit of watching TV while Kiddo is at preschool. But how much of a habit can a 2 year get into without me enabling it? It would be easy enough to say no to the TV on Monday, when I wasn't tired (ah, how I dream), when I had a viable other options, when I wasn't desperate to just wash my face in peace... I mean, Friday was one of those mornings when you wake up knowing you'll have a hard day, so I let her watch TV, while I tried to take care of myself.

After about 15 minutes I looked at her, I mean, really looked at her, and said "oh no!" It was clear, her fever was coming back. Within an hour she was asleep on the couch, which allowed me the very odd experience of watching TV for me during the morning. I don't think I'll do it again soon, but I could, so I did. (Side note: while I don't think I did anything wrong by watching TV, my reasoning "I could, so I did" scares me. My stake president [an ecclesiastic leader] last night talked about that being one of Satan's phrases to help us justify poor choices. I don't want to make bad choices.)

I had to wake Babs up to pick up Kiddo from preschool. She threw up in the car on the way there, so I ran to the preschool door, found an aide to go get Kiddo, then ran back to the car, so as not to leave Babs alone too long, but also not move the throw-up mess. Kiddo couldn't understand why I wouldn't read her announcement pages to her immediately after getting home, the explanation of "I have to clean your sister up" (who wasn't keen on having her clothes changed) didn't cut it for her.

Babs gets these fevers. We really don't know why or what triggers them. They come about once a month, and last for 4 or 5 days. She has a lot of fever reducing medicine during that time, and we get through it. No one else gets it, and then it's done. When there is no medicine in her, she is shaky, and thirsty, and so sad. She sleeps a lot. I think I'm going to have to start a daily "what we did, how she acted" journal, in some hopes of finding a trigger. Or hope she outgrows this soon. Whatever works.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

and another new class...

Today was Kiddo's first dance class. I am so grateful this is over. She loved it. I knew she would. But she wasn't sure, and the way that manifested itself was multiple crying episodes over the last few weeks. She would tell me that she didn't need to go to dance class, because she already knew how to dance. She likes to dance by herself. She cried and insisted she wanted to be a baby again. Basically, she was just worried.

When she would totally loose it, we would just love her. I tried to assure her that dance class was fun. She was right, it wasn't her wonderful dance class in Texas, but it would be good. Some things would be different, but some things would be the same. I also firmly told her we were going to try it out for a few weeks. If she still didn't want to go after four weeks, then we would revisit the decision, but she was going to try.

And she loved it. Of course she did, this is my child who was born to dance. I don't know much about the class itself, because I'm not invited in, nor did I hover to catch a glimpse through the mostly drawn shades (maybe because I could usually see her pretty well through the door?). I am determined to let my child have some experiences for herself. I'm also determined not to watch her grow up through the lens of a camera.

Now, we've tried out both of our new classes, I hope she can stop worrying about them. She can know, that like I said, there will be some things the same, and some things different. What is the same is that she can dance with lots of other little girls to fun music, and get a stamp on her hand near the end. And that is what is really important to her.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

First Day of Upstairs Preschool

 Today was (finally) Kiddo's first day back at preschool. She was alternately very excited and very nervous. She wasn't sure about a new teacher, and new anything. (It's been a rough two weeks as she worries about the new in her life right now.) She wasn't even sure about new clothes, but decided after she saw them that she was willing to wear them.

I think the note she "wrote" to last year's teacher sums up her concerns: "Dear Miss, Thank you for being my teacher. Don't worry, I will be fine in my new class."

 This is the lousy picture I took from her in the five seconds before we needed to leave. We had plenty of time, until Babs informed me of her poopy diaper. Then we still had enough time, except as Kiddo was being friendly to a boy that was obviously in her class, she missed a step and tripped. So instead of taking another picture, more calmly, without the banister in the way, we were running around looking for a bandaid. (I have two other lousy pictures, one where she looks pained, and one with a lady's arm in the way. I chose the one where she looked happy.)

She came home much happier about preschool. She had one disappointment, and that was that she didn't get to play in the corner with the toys she wanted. She explained to me "I wanted to make my face sad, but it was mostly happy." I think she really enjoyed herself, and as she makes friends, will do so even more.

Babs and I went shoe shopping with our time together. Her shoes were two sizes two small, no wonder she's been reluctant to wear them. Also at the mall she rode the rides. She was truly happy with this arrangement. Plus, she got to watch part of Toy Story 3, so that was even more of a bonus.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

decisions that show I'm a good mom

We made chocolate cookies this morning. When I put Babs down for her nap, there was cookie dough all over her neck and in her hair near the nape of her neck. Really? I thought, and decided I would clean it up later (because I'm that good of a mom).

She was pretty upset when she woke up, because she had blood on her sheets. Yeah, I was pretty upset too. I tried to reassure her, while I started to rack my brain for what she had done that morning that would have produced a head wound. And I realized that the "cookie dough" probably should have been cleaned up earlier. (Of course, then she might have missed her nap, and I'm certainly not a fan of that.)

I put her in front of the TV, found a washcloth, water, and started cleaning her up. And then I found the wound. It was approximately the size of a nickel, with, I believe, a tick in the middle. It was still bleeding. And that's when my brain shut off - or at least the part that thinks clearly and finds myself capable.

First I wanted my husband to be home, NOW. I can take a tick out, but there was just a lot more blood than my last two encounters with ticks, and I was just so tunnel visioned to the fact that my child's head was bleeding! We called the doctor, went immediately in, and she took it out. (She irrigated it with a lot of saline to clean some of the blood, and then it detached itself.) It was really low key, with both doctor and patient very calm and very still. (Not at all like my last experience when my other child found her way to the doctor unexpectedly.) I was so grateful for Babs patience with the whole visit.

I'm not sure I overreacted. But I'm not sure I didn't. I am a capable, smart, resourceful adult. Why do I consistently freak out when my kids' health seems off?

(Luckily, I made cookies this morning, so there was comfort when I got home!)

Monday, September 3, 2012

ready, set...

Through a series of non-decisions, my girls wake up in the morning, drink a glass of milk, and watch TV. We've been doing this routine for months. It means a late breakfast, a late lunch, an on-time dinner that no one is hungry for, and ridiculously huge bedtime snacks. I love the way I don't have to engage as a mom first thing in the morning. But I am not proud of this routine, and I think it is having some negative consequences.

Thankfully, preschool starts on Wednesday. So I've been prepping Kiddo that things will change when school starts. Namely, we will not be watching TV in the morning. And breakfast comes before chocolate milk. (I can see it now, the negotiations we will be having every morning about how much breakfast has to be eaten before the chocolate milk...) This will be our schedule whether or not there is preschool. There is no preschool tomorrow.

I'm nervous. I have to be on first thing in the morning. I can't ignore them. What if I'm not up to the challenge? I am convinced this is a good thing for our little family. I am also quite sure that the first few weeks are going to be challenging.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

finding joy in Cinderella

Watching Kiddo interact with Babs is a fascinating window on how she perceives me. But the other day I finally had to be explicit. "Kiddo, did you know that only mom and daddy's get to make rules? That big sisters don't get to make rules for their little sister?" She seemed genuinely surprised. So that was good to get out in the open.

Now that she knows she can't make the rules though, she can express frustration about not being in charge. So, she says sometimes "Well, if I were the mom, then I would..." and yesterday, when she said it again, I almost told her she could have a turn. I was not having any fun, and just wanted a break.

Luckily one was on the horizon (a much better break than last week's trip to the dentist, which I'll admit I was looking forward to as "special me time"). I went to the temple last night.

As I rounded to corner on the highway, the temple stood tall and majestic, as always. And I felt pulled in, as if Heavenly Father were standing at the door calling "Hurry home!" I was anxious to oblige. I remembered that in the Missionary Training Center, my weekly trips to the temple were my refuge, and how I would attempt to collect the peace inside of me, to sustain me for the next week. (I certainly don't need peace now like I needed it then, but don't we always need more inner calm?)

Once inside, I just tried to feel the calm that is there. I wondered how to help my home be more like the temple. My newest effort is to renew my effort to find joy, to choose joy, in daily life.

Have you heard those women, the saintly ones, who suggest that motherhood improves significantly when you start to see all the drudgery as instead sacred service? That every meal made, every dish washed, every sock folded is a way to show love to your family? I think it's really good advice, but have a hard time feeling it. I am growing into it though, and have found that it's even true. When I see dinner as a way to bless my family it becomes something I am fine doing, and perhaps even enjoy.

Last night at the temple I thought: If I can find joy doing the dishes, then surely I can find joy pretending to be Cinderella. It is the girls current favorite game, where my husband or I are assigned a doll and a character, and we get to talk for the doll. It about drives me batty, and I would rather not do it. But if I choose to play the game, not because it fulfills me, but because it fulfills them (and isn't that part of the reason I'm home with them all day anyway) then through this service, I'm sure I'll find joy. Or at least I hope.

Monday, August 27, 2012

karate lessons

Tonight Kiddo asked when she would be taking karate lessons. "Umm, when did you think you were taking karate lessons?" I replied uncertainly. She thought it would be in about 7 years. (How long is seven years mom?) No problem.

Then she got a great idea, we could pretend to have a karate class, and I could be her teacher! I sent her to her daddy, who actually has martial arts knowledge.

First he taught her a stance, then started to show her one very straightforward punch. "Punch. Punch. Punch," they practiced. Babs, who had been wandering around (making herself pretty by applying a liberal coat of chapstick) suddenly got very interested, and yelled "punch" along with Daddy, practicing her punches.

Then they paused the lesson to talk about safety. "The most important thing about karate," he started, only to be interrupted by the very immediate task of needing to stop Babs from using her new punching skills on Kiddo.

"No. That's what I was going to say. We don't punch other people. Babs, can you (meaning are you allowed to) punch Kiddo?" The answer was supposed to be, of course, "No." Instead Babs showed her mighty skills, and punched Kiddo. "NO! Don't hit your sister. Babs, can you punch Kiddo?" As the words escaped his lips, she punched her big sister again.

Ah, the essential difference between can and are you allowed, and the literal mind of a two-year old. Oh yes, she can.

(It should come as no surprise that Kiddo is done with karate lessons now, and forever.)

Friday, August 24, 2012

slow down!

Babs is constantly requesting from the back seat of the van for us to "slow down." I usually give some sort of reply to the idea that I'm going as fast as I should, and going slower isn't an option.

The other day we ended up on our road behind the garbage truck, which was collecting garbage at the time, so we were going very slow. Babs pipes up "Thank you for going slow, mom."

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

"No Ebil!"

Did I mention we're going through a big Toy Story 3 kick? There is something about watching (parts of) a movie daily that gives you a lot of time to reflect on it.

This time I try to think about watching movies with a kid's grasp of fantasy and reality. Each time they watch it, they seem to truly believe that the outcome might be different if they cheer on the characters appropriately. Yet, they are soothed by knowing what comes next, and talk about the next step. I can't get into their heads.

Babs especially likes the first five minutes, where we see Cinderella's castle, then they have the train scene. In case you haven't watched recently (or ever) first we see Mr. Potato Head. Babs announces "Here's Mister!" I love that she thinks his title is a name. Even better, further on in the scene, Evil Dr. Porkchops is narrated in, and each time Babs yells "No Ebil! Don't do it!" I always smile.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

long night for not much

Last night, near the end of Family Home Evening, Kiddo got a splinter in her big toe. It was relatively deep, but I just went in after it. There was much weeping and wailing as I tried to get a grip on the splinter, but I soon pulled it out, only to notice that I didn't get it all. I tried a bit more, and realized I couldn't do this myself, so we headed off to the local extended hours clinic.

We got in relatively fast, and sat in our room, waiting for someone to come. (And, while checking her vitals, I learned that Kiddo is four inches taller than I thought she was. We'll be needing to try on those new pants I bought her.) Here is Kiddo, chilling, waiting for someone to come fix her toe.

First they put on a numbing agent. Then about 20 minutes later the doctor came in to take the splinter out. His watch said 8:30, and I thought, hey, we'll actually get out of here by a decent hour. Kiddo saw the instruments he was working with, a needle and a pair of tweezers, except his needle was bigger than mine, and his tweezers had sharp ends, and thus began our long adventure. Kiddo was scared to pieces. She yelled, and tried to move her foot away, then curled her toe under so it couldn't be looked at. She was crying enough for them to remove her toe, not just the splinter. After a fair amount of wiggling and squealing, the doctor decided to put more numbing agent on before any more work. And he left for another 20 minutes.

The second visit went about like the first, except this time he got one part of the splinter out. As he went for the second part, the hysterical crying of Kiddo (and thrashing about), led him to offer more numbing agent, and he left again. I believe there may have been a third try, that went about the same (crying, thrashing, no progress, Kiddo accepting the offer of more numbing agent, him leaving again).

When he came back the next time he had the nurse with him, explained to her that Kiddo was scared of him (not true, she was petrified of the tweezers), and handed the task to her. I basically said to Kiddo that we're getting this out now, and pinned her down and expected the nurse to do her job. But she was just too good at curling her toe, and after some intense weeping the nurse left again (ARGH!). (To their defense, they were trying, each time, to get that little splinter piece out. But Kiddo truly acted as if, and believed, she was dying.) I was so frustrated. Clearly the numbing agent was about as effective as they told me it would be (not very, but a little, plus the psychological effect), and I just wanted it to be done. I sincerely wished they would just push through, because every time they walked away without the splinter out, that meant Kiddo had to be scared, and cry and be hurt again.

The last time (around 9:30), we put Kiddo on her belly, I put my head on her back and held down her legs with my hands, and told the nurse to just get it out. And after the same amount of wailing, thrashing and crying from Kiddo as every other time, she did. "She got it! It's all done," I assured Kiddo. She immediately calmed down a lot. "Can I have a bandaid please?" came her plaintive, sob-filled voice. The nurse told her she could have as many as she wanted, "Just one please," she replied politely. Her politeness at this moment both broke my heart and made me so proud. We stuck on a pink bandaid and she was healed. The tears dried in their place, she climbed down off the bed, and pretty much danced out the door.

The next splinter experience is not going to be pretty, that's for sure.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

hoping if I start writing...

... then all my thoughts will come bubbling to the surface. It seems like I think of things all day to include in this family record I call a blog. Then finally once the kids are in bed and I can think I can't think of a thing to say.

So let's start with the fact that about a week ago, Kiddo found our copy of Toy Story III, and exclaimed how this was her favorite movie ever. We watched it a day or two later... Well, we watched parts of it, the non-scary parts. Kiddo still enjoyed it (toys coming to life!), but Babs is now a complete convert. She spent days looking at an advertising insert that has most of the characters on it. She called it her "newspaper." She loves Buzz, and Jesse, and "Cowper" which is what she calls Woody. (We cannot convince her of her error.) And she loves to be "liddle cowper" and ride Bullseye, her name for whichever parent who gets to pretend to be the horse.

Speaking of pretending, Babs is becoming quite the expert. She will often have her dolls pretend to be someone else. And it seems that at least every other day she has a new persona. She has recently been "baby" (a lot!), "little giant," "little cowper," "prince," "princess," and who knows who else. And I don't know if this has to do with her pretending, but she loves to give a firm (hard) pat on the back to any of us (Kiddo included) while exclaiming "you such a good dog!"

One thing I love about Kiddo is that she is very good humored about this whole treatment from her little sister. Kiddo got hit at least twice by Babs yesterday, and when Babs was pulled away for her punishment, Kiddo was more concerned about Babs being okay than she was herself. (Once the beating stopped she bounces back quickly.) I don't know that Babs will ever understand how lucky she is to have such a patient older sister.

Kiddo is really starting to read. She has been working through some learning-to-read books, and she helps me read her verse in the scriptures too. She knows a lot more words than I think she does, and she is thrilled to start recognizing words when we're out and about. I'm really proud of her work in learning to read. Speaking of reading the scriptures, I'm always proud of her at church, because she is the only one in my primary class (Sunday School for little people) who gets the gist of the small scripture verses I read to them each week. I'm grateful that she is already beginning to understand the language of the scriptures.

She is just growing up right now. She eats almost whatever we make for dinner, at least enough to try it. She says thank you for making dinner. She takes great pride in doing her job of setting the table, and is interested in helping me cook. (Now I just need to figure out how to let her help.) She is our calm while Babs is our crazy, and for right now, it is working for us.

Tonight when it was bedtime, both my husband and I were giving ourselves pep-talks that we could do this (getting them to bed). I reminded him that we spent a long time really wanting these kids. He reminded me we still want them. And we do. Every single day.

Thursday, August 16, 2012


We're taking a potty training break. I'm waiting until I can give it my complete attention, which will be next week hopefully, after my dentist appointment. But I thought I could still have her sit on the potty first thing in the morning so we don't loose all our momentum. Yesterday morning Babs and I were "discussing" whether she would sit on the potty before we did other things.

The discussion went something like this: "Babs, before we play I want you to sit on the potty." "NOOOOOOOO I do not sit on potty!" "Just sit on the potty." "NOOOOOOOO I do not sit on potty."... well, you get the idea. We went back and forth for a minute or two.

Kiddo finished the argument. "Babs, if you don't want to sit on the potty, just ignore Mom."

Okay, clearly, we need to talk about who you can ignore, and who you can't. Yes, you can, and should sometimes, ignore your sister. Or the kid in the next classroom who's kicking the wall. You should not ignore your parents, even if you don't like what they're saying.

I told this story to my husband who paused and said, "well, this explains everything."

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Pink Dolly

This is a picture of pink dolly. I took it because Babs ordered "Take a picture of Pink Dolly."

I was happy to comply though, because this dolly is special. First, it was a Christmas gift to Babs from her 2nd oldest boy cousin. He picked it out, and did a marvelous job. Second, this is Babs' favorite of all her dolls, which is a lot. Pink Dolly must be in place every night as Babs settles for bed. (Pink Dolly's place is face down next to Twilight Turtle, but she must be there.)

It is no surprise that Babs is a great lover of dolls, because she loves babies. Last night we saw my dad, and visited a book store, where Babs picked out a book about a new baby. On every page she exclaims "Oh! Look at the cute baby!"

When we told Kiddo that her Aunt  LE was going to have a baby, Babs chimed from her seat "I want a baby!" And I'm sure she does. But there is no baby, besides the cute ones in pictures, on the horizon.

Monday, August 13, 2012

off to (high) school

Kiddo is very focused on the idea of going to high school. I've told her that this won't happen for 10 years, but as that concept has no meaning for her, we still talk about it a lot.

Tonight as I was putting her to bed, she asked me for a story when I was in high school. What story from high school can you tell to a 4-year old? So I told her how I was in choir, and my friend would "boing" my curly hair. Then she asked me to tell her a story of her in high school.

As always happens when she wants to know what it will be like, I'm at a loss. I can describe to her a typical high school, except she has no frame of reference to understand it. Plus, I can't help but wonder if I even know what a typical high school is like any more, and then I really wonder what it will be like when she gets there.

So instead I mention the great constant: You'll probably take a bus. You will have a friend on the bus with you.

And that was good enough for Kiddo. She then told me how they could show each other all their high school stuff on the bus, and she would bring two apples for a snack, one for her and one for her teacher. (I couldn't help thinking at this point: you'll need more than one extra apple kid.) And she had one more idea of what they could do on the bus, sing. Specifically, she'll be singing "The Wheels on the Bus."

I can add this to my list of fun things to tell her when she starts high school. Another great thing I can tell her is that she was super anxious to get a toy make-up set, and bring it to show-and-tell. My dad tells me that this news will get an eye roll from her. I agreed, but countered that since I'm going to get eye rolls any way, I might as well provoke a few too.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

the gifts of potty training

Note: this is not for the squeamish.

On Saturday, my husband helped a friend of mine move, all day long (or 7 1/2 hours, so yeah, all day) which meant I was home with the kids when both they and I expected him to be home. Kiddo was still feeling under the weather, and I am still negotiating learning to use the potty with Babs. It was a long day for all of us.

Babs seems to like the idea of underwear, even if she just doesn't like the idea of going pee-pee. (At this point either in the toilet or in her diaper, so I don't know what to do about that.) After being in a diaper for some of the day (I'm trying to give my super strong willed child some say in the matter. I'm not sure it is working.) she had been in underwear, but after an accident she could be found in a common state, shirt and bare bum. She was happily coloring with her markers at the table and I was trying to get dinner together.

"Here mom," she called, hand extended. I reach for whatever it is, and then stop short. I want nothing to do with that offering. And then I realized, I'm the mom, if I don't take that turd from her, no one else will.

So I found a paper towel, and took her poop out of her little hand. I then cleaned her up. My champion husband cleaned off the chair. And put her in a diaper. Or was that after she peed on the stool, splashing both him and me? Oh yeah, that's when it happened.

Today, Sunday, was our day to take a step back and regroup. I'm not sure what I'm doing next week, but I do know that this is not going very smoothly at all.

Friday, August 10, 2012

not potty training

Somehow I was able to postpone life when I potty trained my first child. Not so much this time. As well as helping her learn to use the toilet, I've also had to get an air conditioner fixed, visit the doctor, and, this is a big one, take care of an older sibling. Consistency has not been our friend for this effort. But, I told you this post was not about potty training.

This morning I had a doctor's appointment, so I left my kids with a friend. I was gone much longer than I expected, but she seemed unfazed by it all. When I got there, Kiddo was at the door, telling me she felt sick. I started to brush her off with a "you're just hungry" or "do you need to go to the bathroom?" (ARGH! potty sneaked in again! This gives you an insight to the real focus of my life right now.) But then my friend chimed in, "I just took her temperature, it was102." I stopped while I considered this, Kiddo? Sick? I put my hand out to her neck, and sure enough, it was abnormally warm.

I took her (and her sister) straight home, and put her to bed, per her request. She feel asleep within minutes. Then I fed the second kid, and put her to bed.

For sure, I don't ever want to my kids to be sick, but is it okay if I revel in the quiet two hours that are the silver lining of this grey cloud?

Note: I actually only got 15 minutes. But oh, the idea of 2 hours to myself...

Thursday, August 9, 2012

how's it going? (potty training day 3)

Yesterday consisted of me having Babs sit on the toilet a lot. She also had a few accidents. But she wouldn't drink any water, so they were few and far between. And my air conditioning broke, so I just tried to maintain my sanity as my house got hotter and more humid as the day went on. By mid afternoon I wasn't sure what to do... go out, get cool, but break the potty routine, or stay and suffer? Although I had the following experience, we stayed until my husband got home from work. I was trying to get the dishes in the dishwasher, and Babs yelled "Momma!" "Just a second!" I replied with little patience. "Momma, I pooping on the floor!" she reiterated. "Argh!" I thought as I hurried to put the plate down, and go help with the mess.

Once he came home, we went out to eat. (I was not willing to add to the heat, nor was I capable of cooking. Our frozen pizzas for potty training became useless given the temperature of our house.) Then we came home, played a little, and tried to go to bed. As I was putting Babs to bed, after she had a diaper on, she told me "I pooping on the floor!" which meant not what she said, but that she knew she was peeing. I told her she was wearing a diaper so it was okay, and put her to bed.

This morning Babs was amenable to putting her underwear back on. She wants to wear it. But each time she would sit on the toilet, nothing would happen. After a few hours we found our rhythm. She would say "I have to go pee-pee!" We would run to the toilet, and nothing would happen. (Except she would get her "sit on the potty" treat. M&Ms. "Look! I find choc-late!" she announced joyfully each time she bit into one.) She would then get up, and not long after she would pee all over the floor, her, and often me. Remembering the first time, I tried to convince myself we were making progress.

Then without warning, she did it. She said she had to go, and she did go in the toilet. We cheered and clapped, and gave her a mini oreo cookie (she loves them). We called Grammy who also cheered with us. And since then things have looked up. She has peed as often in the toilet as on the floor, so I have high hopes for tomorrow.

Tonight, she used the potty just before bed. As she got up to look at her accomplishment she announced "Look! I make it yellow!" She's so proud of herself, and I'm proud of her too.

Side Note: In linking to my discussion of Kiddo's training, I was struck by the different experience of the two events. Part of it is that they are very different children, with different motivations. Kiddo was so excited to be a big girl. But Babs has no desire to be a big girl (in fact, we're playing a lot of baby these days). But a big part of the difference is that I'm using a kinder-gentler technique, inspired by my sister-in-law and my own memories, as opposed to a plan designed by psychologists who don't leave room for actual people in their prescriptions.

There is one big similarity: they both slipped on puddles of their own pee. And I can laugh about my experiences with Kiddo now, and Babs too.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

pick your battles (day 1, potty training)

Today was the day. I was going to potty train Babs. We had all the supplies, I was ready to do this, and it completely fell apart within 45 minutes. When I mentioned it was time to sit on the potty the second time, she cried and expressed deep sorrows. She insisted she didn't have to, but eventually sat down when I bribed her. As we approached the third time I realized she'd had an accident, but by this point she was done cooperating. She wouldn't do anything I asked her, and there was no way she could be convinced to sit on the potty a third time. As I wondered what to do next, Kiddo demanded a lot of attention, and I lost my patience with her. Then Babs and Kiddo started fighting, and Babs started crying again. I put a diaper back on her, and sat in the corner to regroup.

After a while, I decided potty training with this much resistence from my already head-strong child was a bad idea, and I would try again another day. But when you plan to potty train, that's all you do, so then I was unsure what to do with my day. And I knew I needed to do something that would allow me to feel that today had not been a complete failure.

A-ha! I would sort through those three boxes of papers from graduate school. And get rid of all of it, because when will I ever touch it again? Should I get back into academia at some distant point in my future (or even tomorrow), I'll need new stuff anyway, because all my articles and information are already ridiculously out of date. So while Babs was napping and Kiddo was watching TV I opened the boxes. And put one article in the recycling box.

I tried to put a second, but found I was unable to do it. As I stared at the articles, I was compelled by the titles, even though I knew they didn't really match my interests, nor did I think they displayed very good scholarship. Notwithstanding, I couldn't throw them away. That felt like closing the door on that phase of my life. "Did you know I have a PhD?" I asked myself, remembering that at one point in my life I did things that are recognized by the big world as being impressive. (I like what I do. I can't imagine not being home with my kids. But that doesn't stop a part of me from missing the praise of the world a little bit.)

So, I picked a smaller task: clean the toys off Babs' floor. You'll be happy to know I succeeded.

At 4:30 Babs walked up to me, and asked to put her underwear on. She happily sat on the potty with each timer ring from then on. She has had no actual success of peeing in the potty, but maybe tomorrow? I have no idea what tomorrow will bring. But she seems to think underwear is okay right now. You never know.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

insight to Kiddo - obedience

Today's primary lesson was "I can be obedient." Kiddo is generally pretty obedient, but lately we've struggled as she asserts her independence, and comes up with her own opinions of how life should work. But my husband and I try to remember that she wants to be obedient, and she tries. This lesson to me was driven home by part of the lesson I taught her and her classmates.

Every time a story gave the possibility of someone choosing not to be obedient, she would plug her ears and try not to hear the story.

She not only wants to be obedient, she is bothered by stories of disobedience. So she is trying, and I need to remember that.

answering machine

Babs was pressing the on/off button on our answering machine. With each touch a red light would turn on and off, and a voice would declare that "answers are on" or "answers are off." I thought it was the voice that was enthralling her. I told her to stop because it was time to go to dinner. She pressed it one more time, then came quickly.

"I make it pink," she delightedly announced.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

July recap

In July, we traveled to Colorado for a family reunion, then continued on to Utah for some more family time. I am grateful for the ways stars align so we can spend significant time with a lot of our extended family, even though we don't live very close to any of them.

Since we returned home, we've had visits to the doctor, a car that wouldn't start, and another week where Babs had a fever. It finally broke last night, and we are grateful to be on the mend.

Next week holds the promise of potty training, and, well, I guess that's enough for one week.

I would like to blog about some or all of this. But at least I've mentioned it, and that is a start for my extended family history.

I leave you with "hippo mouth" (and the pig Babs kissed to the horror of her daddy), a new favorite face around these parts. I can't even remember how it started, but it makes me laugh every time.

Monday, July 9, 2012

what we're watching

We take turns of who gets to choose what we watch on the TV.

Two nights ago Babs had her choice, and wasn't excited that we insisted that it was Daddy's turn to choose.

"Daddy wants to watch Caillou!" she announced hopefully.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

why 2 is great

I find consistent joy with Babs. She is so incredibly strong willed and opinionated, but she is also two, and that can be a delightful age. She is incredibly articulate, and as such we always know what it going on in her head. Every day, she makes me laugh.

As she plays with the dollhouse, I often hear things like:
"No mama, I don't want to take a bath!"
"I come play with you soon."
"I don't want to use the potty!"
There is a lot of conflict in that dollhouse.

When my husband reaches out to touch my shoulder, or hold my hand in the car, she will yell from her seat in the back (well, middle, this is a minivan after all) "No touch! That my mama!" She will continue to yell until her prized possession (me) is left alone.

Today she was screaming for the joy of it. Her daddy told her to stop. She walked up to me with complete sincerity and asked "It okay if I scream for a little bit?" "No," I replied, "Daddy said no." "But I just want to scream a little bit," she countered. I can't remember how we resolved it, but she would not give in. (Luckily, her grandma and aunt called later, and she got her screams out with them.)

A lot of her play revolves around baby and grandma. This is true for her dolls in the dollhouse, and the puppets she loves.

The other night, my husband was watching some older kids (read: 8 and 4) so I could go visiting teaching with their mom. Babs got introduced to some adult themes that night, and so we hear her little voice saying "I kill you!" right now. This was horrifying the first time, but bothers me less and less as I realize that whatever it means to her is far cry from the actual meaning. I'm not sure how to get her to stop saying it though...

She loves to color, especially with "my markers" and loves stickers. She doesn't actually like to draw though. When there is drawing to be done, she makes me draw a "princess" and then "the daddy." She likes to refer to herself as a princess.

She used to hit and pull hair, mostly at Kiddo, but sometimes at my husband and me. While she is not completely cured, we've told her no enough times that she has actually changed her behavior. When she gets mad she will stand there screaming with frustration, but is no longer physical. I'm so proud of her for that.

When it is her turn to pick the song for our nightly family prayer, she always chooses "Temple!" ("I love to see the temple") and then sings along. It is one of her enormous repetoire.

My house is filled with small girls singing. Maybe the lady who held out the cart for me at the store, seeing I was packing a two year old was right. She said "I remember that time. I miss it." Maybe I will miss it. Tonight, it seems possible.