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.