Lemme brag on my children.

For those of you that only come to my blog for my children…  You know who you are.  😉

My girls have had a complete turn-around in behavior lately.  Sophia has turned into this wonderfully sweet little girl.  She’s acting like a baby so much less.  She’s throwing fits less.  She’s back-talking less.  She’s playing by herself and with her sister very well.  I’ve seen her talk to Abby, consider her needs, and try to help.  I’ve been brought messages like “Abby told me she pooped.”  I’ve seen her get her feelings hurt because of Abby’s attitude.  I’ve seen her feel love when Abby says “sorry” to her.  I’ve seen her choose to do the right thing (share, apologize, hug, etc.) all by herself.  I’ve seen her offer to help me and actually help me.  I’ve seen how much it means to her for me to let her help me. I’ve seen her persevere in learning to read and ride a tricycle.  I’ve seen her broken heart when a friend chose to play with others instead of her.  I’ve seen her memorize bible verses and sing new songs that I didn’t teach her.  I’ve seen her love her daddy more than anyone in the whole world.

Now Abby.  She is now a toddler!  If she wasn’t already…. She’s just started playing by herself and is finally “into” something.  She’s super into babies and wants to do everything with babies.  She now must take one (firmly gripped with a bottle in hand) EVERYWHERE we go.  Feed the baby, change the baby, put the baby in night-night.  All by herself, without direction from me.  I have heard this child use new words every day and communicate full ideas using up to 4 word sentences.  I’ve seen she and her older sister play by themselves for an hour actually talking to each other like best friends.  Here’s a story for you.  I told Abby if she hit sister one more time, she would go to time-out.  She walked away and sulked.  Then, she came back less than a minute later, looked right at Sophia and said, “Sorry,” clear as day.  Unbelievable.  Unbelievable what she’s learned just from watching.  I never would have dreamed of asking her to say “sorry.”  I would’ve thought she was too young for it.  What a nice surprise.  She’s since said “sorry” a handful of times.

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The excitement that fills my heart to move on to this new bigger girls’ stage!  OH!  I can’t explain what it’s like to witness these girls growing up.  The girls that they are becoming warms my heart like no other feeling in the world.  I guess, you know, if you’re a parent, too.

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A Mother’s Wish

I want to make a memory of today, of something I just witnessed.  I want to make such a vivid memory that I can recount every detail to my girls when they’re adults.  My mind is always so foggy, my memory so disjointed and unclear (thyroid symptom?)  I fear I won’t remember.

Today’s been pretty rough day.  It began abruptly at a 5:45 bang on our bedroom door, followed by a 5:46 climb into bed over the top of me.  Yup.  Sophia.  She needs some boundaries. (By the way, I was up past midnight last night; so, I did not welcome this sweet face so early.)

As I groggily came downstairs at about 6:30, I was met with the unmet tasks of yesterday–horribly crusty kitchen with a sink full of dishes, 2 new shrubs to plant out in our front flowerbed, the next week’s grocery shopping, 2 loads of unfolded laundry, and a houseful of tornado-toddlerdom, i.e. every kind of toy everywhere.  (I’ve been taking some time off from housework.  Still recovering from a recent stomach illness.  More on that later.)

This might not be so bad if I had woken up a bit cheerier… or let’s say, if everyone else had, too…

So, Sophia went to bed after 9 last night, and she woke up before 6.  She is CRANKY today.  She is every bit of 3 years old today. The way she is talking to me sends my head spinning, my eyes rolling, and body shaken.  I tell her to do something, and she yells at me, “NO! I DON’T WANT TO! THIS IS MY KIND OF LIFE AND I CAN DO WHAT I WANT!!!!!”  You can be sure that this kind of behavior is met with time-outs and apology sessions…

How’s Abby today?  She’s getting new words every day.  Just a few days ago she finally started verbalizing “no” and doing it very well.  Now, she yells (in a very sweet 18-month old voice) “NO!” after I tell her to do something.  Then she rolls all over the floor laughing.

WHAT the WHAT?!

Where was I?  Was there a scene I wanted to savor?  It wasn’t them helping dig the holes for the shrubs… or them helping me get new soil mixed in… or even watering them…  though, it sure made me think a lot about how God is working on my patience…

About 20 time-outs later sometime after cleaning up lunch, I hear, “Abby’s hugging me, Mommy!  Abby’s hugging me!”  I look around the corner, and both my girls are on the ground.  Abby has tackled Sophia from the front, arm tight around her neck.  She sitting on her knees, hugging her heart out, laying her head on Sophia’s shoulder.  Sophia’s smiling ear to ear, trying to be patient enough to hug her back, her legs wrapped around behind her.  There is only sheer joy.  “Abby’s hugging me, Mommy!  Abby’s hugging me!”

They’re becoming best friends–following each other around everywhere, wanting to be just like each other.  They’re playing together better all the time and also doing their share of fighting and wrestling.  It’s the most beautiful thing a mother can see.  I want to savor it.  I want to pause and make this memory of this moment last forever.  I want to tell my girls when they’re in the late 20s about this day.  I have a feeling if I remember it, I will tell it through choked back tears.

The Ongoing Fun of Two

Oh!  My kids are SO hilarious right now.  And, by hilarious, I actually mean ornery-as-can-be!  The newest development in the sage of raising two is time-out behavior.  For a while now, when Sophia cries her heart out, yelling “Cooooooow-booooooy,” during a 3-minute time-out, Abby will go on the search for Cowboy and bring the stuffed animal to her.  This morning, after taking Cowboy from Sophia’s hands during a time-out, Abby goes after whatever toy she can find to take to Sophia–over and over and over.  I take it away from Sophia.  Tell Abby, “No.  Sister’s in time-out.”  And, she goes and finds something else to take to her sad big sister.  Here’s the tension: It’s sweet, right?  Abby’s compassionate.  She wants to give Sophia something to make her stop crying.  I want my girls to relate sweetly to each other as sisters.  I want to encourage compassion and empathy–sticking up for each other, etc.  But, it’s a time-out.  When will she be old enough to learn that when you’re in time-out for doing something wrong, you can’t have a toy?  I guess, at this point I need to just pick her up and take her away for 3 minutes.

–I just looked over at Abby, and she has unzipped my wallet.  When did she get old enough to do that?—

We’ve started time-outs with Abby, too… and this is also difficult.  She’s throwing toys and hitting, unacceptable things that Sophia never really did.  She goes to time-out almost excitedly.  You know, it’s “big girl.”  Sophia does it.  Well, yesterday after Sophia and Abby had an altercation, Abby went to time-out at the bottom of the stairs.  I went to Sophia to console her sore head.  I asked her if she wanted me to kiss it.  Immediately Abby jumps up arms stretched out making kissy faces and noises.  It was all I could do not to fall all over the floor laughing.  Straight face.  Discipline.  Follow through.  This is important.  Poor Abby is not getting the same parenting that Sophia got.  I’m coming to grips with that fact.  They’re going to have different stories.  They’re going to be different people based on a lot of facts–internal and external… and birth order is one of the unarguable facts.  They will get parented differently.

–Alright, I just put Sophia in time-out again for getting water from the faucet unattended–AFTER I gave her a vase that I told her she could “pretend” with, “no water.”

She’s whispering to Abby, coaxing her, “Abby, go get Cowboy for me.  Abby, please….  Please Abby, go get my Cowboy.”

Abby takes her a shoe. “Shoe,” Abby says.

“I don’t want a shoe, Abby.  Go get my Cowboy.”

Abby doesn’t get her Cowboy.  She walks off and plays.  HAHAHAHAHA!  —

Okay, I should probably go parent these little monsters.  😉

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.

Ah, the irony

I just opened this fortune cookie for the girls.

Patience

Today is taking an extra measure of patience.  I’m not sure why.  It may be that Will and I have started getting up extra early to exercise, and we’re feeling the extra tiredness and soreness from that…  Or, maybe it’s that I actually tried to get something done this morning.  You know that box (or drawer, if you don’t move every 6 months like we do) of stuff that you don’t have any idea what to do with.  It’s stuff that you might need… or you could just throw away and never notice it’s absence… it’s junk, really… but the thought of throwing it away is just SO HARD.  But, it’s just random crap.  Well, we’ve moved so many times that we have acquired multiple junk boxes that never get filtered through, thrown away, or organized.

This morning, at an attempt to have our bedroom completely put together, I opened a box of junk.  Yes, the girls were with me.  And, if it weren’t for the constant questions, “What’s this?  What’s a _______? Why? Look it’s a ______.  What’s that?” I think I could’ve finished with a more positive attitude.

How does the constant questioning and jabbering on make me so angry so quickly?  It’s just curiosity.  But sometimes, it’s just plain stupid questions.  Like this conversation:

Sophia: What’s that?

Me: It’s an empty box.

Sophia: What’s an empty box?

I want to yell at her.  She said to me, “I’m trying to use my brain.” Oh, dear me.  You can see what kind of conversations we have here.

To increase my lack of patience, Sophia’s not my only needy little creature.  Abby’s constantly falling all over me, trying to learn to walk and falling all over everything else–crying and getting her feelings hurt all the while.  She’s such a sensitive little baby.  Precious, lovely and adorable.  But so sensitive.  I think she may be getting a tooth AND she’s in that weird place of too-tired-for-just-one nap but won’t take two.  I’m also trying to implement a more intentional schedule.  Sophia’s obsession with T.V. is getting “managed” as I’ve created the rule that we watch only 1 show a day as a reward for taking a nap.  It’s working gloriously, but I could sure use a babysitter…. 😉

Yah, so today, we’re going to stay home and organize… and play… and try to get through the day.  I need an extra measure of patience to enjoy these lovely, curious little people.

Nighttime Talks

Daddy is starting to put Abby to bed to help her sleep through the night and get rid of some Mommy-attachment issues… It’s working!  6 nights in a row, Abby has slept 12 hours!  WAHA!   Thank the Lord!  Anyway, now I’m putting Sophia to bed, and it has been refreshing and delightful to lay down with her in her twin bed and talk to her before I tell her goodnight.  This was our conversation tonight after we prayed.  How did she get so grown up?

Sophia: And pray for the princesses.

Me: Huh?

Sophia: And pray for the princesses.

Me: You mean, you want to thank God for the princesses?

Sophia: Yah.

Me: Okay.  Thank you, God for the princesses.  We love them.

Sophia: Thank you, God for the princesses.

Me: Sophia, do you know who God is?

Sophia: Yah.

Me: Who is God?

Sophia: Jesus.

Me: Yah, that’s right. Did you know that God gave us everything?

Sophia: Yah… my toys.

Me: Yah, that’s right.

Sophia: My dollhouse.  My cowboy… and piglet.

Me: Yes, He gave us all those things.  And Abby and Daddy and Sophia and Mommy.

Sophia: And my cowboy… and piglet.

Me: You like piglet a lot, don’t you?

Sophia: Yah, but it’s Abby’s piglet. I love Cowboy.

Me: That’s right… I think it’s time to go to bed now. I love you, Cowboy.  I love you, Sophia.  Good night.

Sophia: Mom, can we watch another video tomorrow?

Me: Sure, honey.  You can watch a video tomorrow.  Good night, Honey.

Sophia: Good night.