Easter Egg Hunt

I hope you all had a great Easter.  We had a super fun time playing with the girls and telling Sophia about why we celebrate Easter.  She listened intently as we looked through a picture Bible and Daddy explained how Jesus conquered the grave.  It was sure interesting figuring out how to explain it all to her.  Her mad knowledge of Sleeping Beauty helped quite a lot.  There are some similarities there that you might not think about…  We also had a little Easter Egg hunt for the girls.  They were both a great age for this.  It gave me such joy to watch them run around and fine the bright little surprises.

Here’s some video for the grandparents.  My camera battery ran out so we only got the first couple minutes.  Not terribly riveting, but sweet.

We didn’t take any sweet dress-em-up pictures… sorry, I know, so sad…  Check out this sticker collage that Sophia made with the stickers she found in her Easter Eggs.  I’m afraid that she may take after me more than I thought. 😉

I, of course, helped her with her name, but the stickers and the placement was all hers.  She kept removing and resetting stickers, and she had to have so many of each one.  I’ve seen her categorizing colors around the house, but never quite like this.  Anyway, it’s really cool to have the privilege of watching her grow up.

Better throw in a picture of Abby.  She’s starting to try on other people’s shoes.

It’s a privilege watching her grow up, too.

A call to play.

Playing.  What does that word stir up in you?  Delight.  Smiles.  Warm fuzzies.  Or, what does it make you think of?  Games, running around, joking.  What about pretend play?  Childish. Frivolous. Any anxiety there?

My eldest daughter’s pretend play has recently been turned up a notch.  She now likes to act out stories.  I’m so-and-so, and she’s somebody-else.  She calls out scenes and lines…  Tells us where to go and what to do.  Yesterday morning, I was feeling a little more gracious, and I thought I ought to “play” with the girls:

8:00 a.m. The morning began with a dance party, as it usually does.  I had intended to “start” the dance party, i.e. turn on the music, get them dressed up in princess outfits, and then proceed to do the necessary morning housework while they danced.  Only, this day was different.  Since the girls were both in their princess outfits and Sophia’s getting into story-telling, out of nowhere she tells me, “I’m the fairy godmother.  You are Cinderella.  You must go to the ball!  Where is your carriage?  The prince is waiting for you!  You have to find the prince.  He wants to dance with you!”

This was some invitation to play princesses with her!  It was on!

I was in a particularly well-rested and pleasant mood, so I went with it.  I abandoned my dish-washing plan and dove into pretend play with her.

Only, it wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be.  I had trouble adding to the story with her.  I had trouble “diving” in and becoming Cinderella.  (If you know me, you know that I probably didn’t play “princesses” when I was a kid…)

Anyway, I did my best, and the three of us played our little princess hearts out.

Why was it so hard, though?  When did I lose the ability to lose myself in the story?  When did I lose the ability to pretend play with abandon?  

I think one thing that feels so hard is that I am always in the role of “facilitating” play–setting it up for them and/or demonstrating how to play, like you do with a infant or a toddler.  The reason that I’m doing that is usually because it’s my plan to set them up doing something so that I can then do something else.  Basically, get the teaching of “how” to play this particular thing out of the way and then moving on to my to-do list.

You know, I’ll “play” with them outside by giving them gardening tools while I rake and do yard-work.  I’ll “play” with them at the kitchen table by doing bills while they color.  Or, set them up doing play-dough while I make pizza dough… I’ll read to them, I’ll show them how to properly use scissors, or make an “o” or draw a person…

But, when was the last time that I painted with Sophia when she was painting, rather than just watch or glance back at her occasionally?  When was the last time that I actually had a tea-party with Sophia?  When was the last time I got down in the sand with them and got d.i.r.t.y.?

I first noticed my “play” deficit when I was being paid to play at various times in my life, whether babysitting or as a paraeducator in a preschool classroom.  I found that “facilitating” came natural to me; I was good at it.  The kids loved me.  It wasn’t necessary (or even proper) to lose myself in the play, though, because I was getting paid $6/hour for this…

Now, though, it’s different.  I’m a parent and it’s my job to teach my kids. But since it’s the primary way that they learn it’s also my job to “play” with them, right?  Why is it so hard?  Is it just because I can’t get the to-do list out of my mind–can’t stop thinking about what else I could (should) be doing?

Yesterday, I decided to abandon the list.  I just played.  I played and I played and I played.  By noon-time, we all went out for lunch, after 4 playful hours had passed.  At the end of the day, I had forgotten the list, dinner seemed to have gotten fixed and the kitchen seemed to have gotten clean.  No one was any worse off… It was a good day.  The girls were happy.  I think they were seen.  It was pretty dang lovely.  Why then, is it so hard?

Let me leave this post with an homage to play via a cazillion pictures of us playing.  Hope you enjoy.  And, I hope you decide to play a little extra with your kiddos this weekend.  (Imagine some awesome dancing music in the background while you look at these pics.)

A Perfect Saturday

“Family Dates.”  That’s what we call them.  Last Saturday we had the most perfect day.  We biked downtown and pulled our precious babies in a trailer.  They loved it.  Abby got a little nap in, and we enjoyed lunch on an outdoor patio, ice cream (gelato with coupons!), and a stroll through a few shops.  We biked back home and the kids took another nap.  Could we get more perfect than that day?!  Here’s a few pictures.

Spring pics

Spring is here… off and on.  It’s 70 or 80 one day, and then it’ll snow a bit and the sun will come back out.  Here’s a few pictures of the girls from a fun time outside, yesterday.  (We got freezing rain and snow this morning.  Fun.)

A Peek into our Evenings

I haven’t posted a video in a while, and I thought a few of you may need your Spicer girls fix.  Here’s a video of them. Them being them, nothing else.  Sophia’s belting out her abc’s and Abby’s running around being Abby.  If you make it through the end of the video, you’ll get some of Abby crying.  Well, that’s Abby being Abby.  I won’t apologize for it.  Bless her heart, she’s got sensitive feelings… as well as new teeth coming in.  Well, hope you enjoy it.

We have fun

We’ve been having a lot of fun around here.

Abby likes to pull everything out of the cabinets.  It’s pretty hilarious to see her carrying things that are bigger than she is.

Yes, she emptied out ALL the pots and pans by herself.  And, yes, she tore into that box of granola bars with hungry vengeance.  She leaves me lot of little surprises like this.  I have since had to relocate the snacks above the fridge.

Sophia has been painting.  She is slowly coming around to the fact that there are more colors than just pink.

These girls are my pride and joy.  We have so much fun together.  I love when I can remember to play with them.  Remember that a messy house is par for the course.  And, remember that they are a precious gift.

Confessions of an emotional eater.

Emotional Eating.  So many of us do it, right?  In fact, who doesn’t?

4:00 in the afternoon.  I’m sitting with Abby.  She’s having a snack.  I’m sitting with her silently worrying about something I cannot control.  I’m carrying the burden for a loved one.  I can’t take away this loved one’s pain.  I can’t magically make things right.  I can’t give my loved one a do-over.  I can’t make everything right and happy.  I can’t do anything.

I decide to pour myself a bowl of cereal, I didn’t eat much lunch… I’m thinking about how nice it is to have a baby.  No judgement.  She isn’t judging my bowl of cereal at 4 in the afternoon.  She’s actually excited about it.  I share some with her.  I’m not really enjoying this bowl of cereal. I continue with my worrying.  Now, I pour myself a second bowl.

Waaaait a minute.  I’m not even hungry.

Abby’s still not judging me.  I reach into the cabinet and get Sophia’s leftover Cheetos.  I share some with Abby. If Sophia woke up from nap right now, she wouldn’t judge me either.  She would just join me, thinking we were having a party.  Isn’t it nice being alone with the kids?  I can do whatever I want… and, no one will judge me.

Except for there’s this tiny fact that I’m teaching my children with my actions.  I’m teaching them to reach for food to comfort them when they’re worried.  I’m teaching them that eating is a good way to try to make yourself feel better.

Dammit.

I roll the Cheetos back up and put them in the cabinet before Sophia wakes up. I know I don’t need to go hide away in a closet to “emotionally eat” in order that they won’t see me…  That’s hardly satisfying… and I’m not THAT kind of emotional eater.  I’m just a normal emotional eater.  I eat when I’m worried.  I eat when I’m bored.  I eat when I’m lonely.

My babies are always eating. ALWAYS.  It’s so hard to tell when they’re actually hungry or just bored or just wanting comfort.  Sometimes Abby rolls all over the floor crying with one hand in her mouth because she’s SO hungry.  Sophia will eat 3 breakfasts for an average person and turn around and ask for a snack not 2 hours later.  I’ve been constantly saying “yes” lately.  Ya know, “choose my battles.”  Keep them happy so that when I really have a point to make it will be heard.  Help Abby sleep all night. (Overfeeding her at dinner really helps with that.)  I keep limitless snacks in my diaper bag for outings.  But now, outings are turning into a 24/7 snackfest.  Right when we get in the car, the kids are jonesing for the next carb load.  Abby’s hollering, pointing to the floorboard at the empty containers, and Sophia’s hollering about wanting candy.   I’m rewarding with food.  I’m pacifying with food.  I’m stuffing, stuffing, stuffing.

My girls don’t have a weight problem.  They’re babies.  They’re perfect sizes.  Sophia eats pretty well.  She eats some vegetables.  She eats fruit like candy.  But, when I tell her it’s time for lunch, sometimes she’ll yell at me: “I DON’T WAAAAANT LUNCH! I want a SNACK!!!!”  Hmmm.  She seems to know the difference.  And, Abby… well…  she’s had a hard life.  And, I’m coming to terms with the fact that re-training her spoiled little brain is going to be difficult.  And as soon as I feel a little less pity for her, I’ll give in less and stop giving her animal crackers for dinner…

Shew.  I’m being hard on myself.  I realize this.

I’m not, though. I realize what’s going on.  I’m aware of my personal struggles with food.  I understand the potential problems that my daughters will face.  I realize that my children are little imitators.  I realize that (almost) every drop of food that goes into their bodies is food that I’ve paid for and chosen for them to consume.  I AM responsible.

There’s a bigger issue here.  Food.  This is no new issue to our culture.  As a society we struggle with emotional eating, with feeding our emptiness and our anxieties and our multiphrenia with something sweet, salty, oily and quick.  The bigger issue isn’t food, though, it’s the hunger that we’re feeding.  And, the food that we’re feeding that hunger isn’t going to make us ULTIMATELY satisfied.  We may be satisfied for a few moments, an hour if we’re lucky.  But, ultimately that snack, those Cheetos, wasn’t what my body craved.  It craved a meal. Not an actual meal, but a metaphorical one.  In this case I needed to lean on the Father.  I needed to trust Him that my friend would be okay.  That, though I couldn’t take care of my friend, I could trust that He will.  And, I can trust that He will take care of my friend in just the way that He sees best.

I want to teach my daughters to lean on the Father.  I want to teach them to lean on Him for comfort.  To trust Him through difficult times.  I’m not sure I know how to do that.  But, I do know that thoughtlessly stuffing my worries with food is no shining example.

FREE-DOM!

 

You may be saying to yourself, “Yah, what’s so special about that picture?  It’s just two kids playing outside…”

Yah, but can you see where I am?  I am inside! They are playing outside together while I’m working in the kitchen, looking out at them through the window over the sink, listening through the open sliding door.  Do you know how long I’ve been waiting for this?  All the elements are perfect:  The weather is warm enough, the girls are finally old enough, and they are enjoying and entertaining each other!

AH. FREE-DOM!!!!

 

Following through

…sucks.

I had this great afternoon planned.  After Sophia took a nap (She didn’t have one, yesterday), I planned for us to do painting projects together.  I had some wooden letters to paint for Abby’s room and a canvas to get started on, and I had a wooden birdhouse for Sophia.  She was so excited. She had her “princess pink” picked out and everything.  I told her, “After you wake up from your nap, we can paint your birdhouse.” She’d been talking about it all day.

Five minutes into her nap, “I can’t sleep.  I don’t need to paint my birdhouse.”

We’ve gone through this before: television as a reward for naptime.  She figured out that if she tells me that she doesn’t want to watch T.V., then she can get up.  Miss Princess has figured out how to exert control and get what she wants… sort of… I always follow through, no big deal, just no T.V.

Well, today I had plans.  Fun, exciting, painting plans.  I didn’t mean for the birdhouse to become a reward for her to nap, it just sort of happened that way, and now we’re both punished.  It didn’t keep me from painting, but it kept me from getting to share the experience with her.  I wanted us to be able to do this activity together. While I painted, I facilitated her potty trips and taking her back to bed… and back to bed.  I was essentially watching her make a choice that would hurt both her and me, and it was so painful.

I just wanna take it all back and say, “Screw naptime.  Let’s paint!”

But, I know that I must follow through.  An hour later with a second poop trip, she’s in the bathtub, and my head hurts.  I’ve got to step back and think again.  The rewards aren’t working.  We removed all the books from her room a few days ago because we thought that the stimulation of the books was keeping her up… apparently not. The removal of toys and stimulation isn’t working.  I can’t lock her in her room because she always has to poop at naptime if she’s not asleep–sometimes multiple times.  I’ve thought about instilling “quiet time.”  So far, that’s really what it has been most every day with an occasional nap when she’s freaking exhausted.  She does a good job of being quiet, she knows that waking up Abby would send Mommy into a HOLY TERROR! She sleeps fine at night…

Oh, the battles of the will have begun.

This overtiredness is, no doubt, contributing to a new phase that we’ve entered: Tantrums on a whole new level–a more sophisticated and verbal level.  A verbal tantrum at an embarrassingly loud volume.  I can see the manipulation in her eyes.  They’re no tears in her cries.  She screams “No, I don’t want to!” and the like.  We’ve started having time-outs in the corner with no Cowboy.  I give her opportunities to leave time-out.  I tell her, “When you are done crying, we will talk.”  Yesterday, this lasted nearly a half-hour.  I kept asking her, “Are you ready to talk? When you stop crying, I’d love to talk to you.”  She’d scream at me, “NO! I’M NOT READY!”  This whole time-out in the corner sends Abby into HOLY CONFUSION!  OH, it’s not pretty.  Finally yesterday, during said time-out event, after 30 minutes of an exhausting tantrum in the corner she stops crying, falls into my arms, hugs me so tight and says, “I can’t believe myself.”  That’s either some strange self-awareness… or she heard that somewhere.

I’m so freaking exhausted at the end of the day.  It’s no wonder.

So, all of this is to say: Let’s hold our glasses up to the moms who follow through.  Cause it SUCKS.

Snowshoeing with girls in-tow

We had a perfect day today.  Absolutely gorgeous weather, so we took off to the mountains.  We began our adventure with a snowshoe rental and headed to RMNP for a picnic lunch.  It was beautiful.  We hiked with the girls around Sprague Lake with snowshoes (our first time)!  It was SO fun. The girls LOVED it!  And so did we.  We also met some really cool people on our hike and stopped to sled with them a bit.  Here’s some pics from our day.