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.