31 August 2011

Of Staying Accident Free

If this home were an official work place, we'd have a sign hanging in the bathroom saying, "Accident Free for 2 Days!"  That's right - she's getting into the swing of things and, though Monday was rough, she seems to enjoy her alone time in the potty these days and has fallen into somewhat of a routine, where I hear less arguing when it's time to go and have even heard on more than one occasion, "I have to go potty!" followed by the pitter patter of little feet.

So, folks, it looks like we're well on our way to having a potty trained toddler - finally!  If she keeps it up, I might even be able to say she was potty trained when she was two (only a week and a half to go before that bragging right is gone).

Now we're working on the finer points - like not playing in the sink when it's time to wash our hands or spending five minutes making faces in the mirror.  "Hurry up, Helga!"

30 August 2011

Of Sweet Kisses

"Ok, give me a hug and a kiss," Daddy teased his little boy after we closed our Jesus Storybook Bible and said our good-night prayers.

Unexpectedly, Emmett turned his precious head toward Daddy, rested lips on his cheek and clicked his tiny tongue in an attempt to mimic the sound he hears every night, of lips smacking on skin, before resting in his crib.

Surprised and excited for Emmett's first kisses, I tried to get mine, but he denied me a couple more times while indulging his Daddy's requests.  Finally, it was Mommy's turn for a kiss (with that delightful click).  Then Sissy's.

What a big, grown-up boy.  Looking forward to many more sweet kisses before he gets too grown up for such things.

29 August 2011

Of My Boy

I was squeezing in laundry between baking four dozen muffins and making a week's worth of homemade macaroni and cheese for our children (a recent idea due to the fact that our daughter refuses any form of sandwich - she doesn't even like peanut butter - not even in cookies!).  Thus, I had the washer sitting open, half-full (so optimistic, I know) of dirty laundry with a waiting box of just-released-from-storage maternity clothes waiting for a rinsing, while I rushed over to stir the thickening milk/cheese mixture on the stove.

Enter my precious 14-month-old baby boy.  Out of the corner of my eye, I see him, article of clothing in hand, crawling toward the washer.  Then, lifting himself to his knees, he stuffed the shirt in and hurried back to the waiting box for the next item.  And so it went, shirt after shirt.  He even dug through the box to find items he deemed more worthy of washing and then crawled them over to the machine and shoved them in.  As I helped him finish the job and be sure all was in that would fit, I announced it was all done, at which point, he crawled around me, behind the door and began to push it shut.

My little helper.

I suppose it's a good thing he's so eager to do laundry, considering his newly discovered ability to wipe his mouth on his shirt (or any shirt nearby as yesterday he tugged on the bottom of my tank top to clean his pizza-stained mouth).  I honestly have no idea where he learned this, but it's clear: he's a boy.

Fortunately, he's a laundry-washing boy.

28 August 2011

Of My Food Tracker

Because I realized I was doing a better job taking care of this baby through my nutrition when I was actually writing down what I eat (yes, I know, it's a common weight-loss method, and its effectiveness is a contributing factor), I have decided to continue the close examination of my eating habits beyond the one week required by the midwives (though I'm still glad they won't actually see my log anymore).

I've turned to a tool I've used on more than one occasion in the past: SparkPeople.com - a free website which has an on-line food tracker which allows me to plug in what I ate and it will spout out the calories, carbs, fat and protein - and let me know if I'm staying in my target goal for the day.  And I love it.  I like the personal accountability that comes from actually telling someone what I ate.  And I love seeing my protein numbers right where they should be (though the fat, not so much, but let's focus on the good right now, shall we?).  What makes it all even better - there's an app for that (and it's FREE)!  And the app and the website work together, so I can jump from one to the other throughout the day.  What could be easier?

Though, my personal philosophy lately has been, if I don't put it in the food tracker, then it's like I never ate it, right?  Lying to Spark People - it's easier than exercising.

PS I know it would seem I got paid to write such a glowing review of this website, but I'm just being honest - I don't know the actual Spark People (I don't even know what that's supposed to mean) and they don't know me.  I just really like their site.

27 August 2011

Of Success (in Small Ways)

Are you ready for your weekly potty training update?  Otherwise known as: way more than you ever wanted to know about our daughter's bathroom habits.

For those who are actually intrigued by our on-going battle, you may be happy to know that today was actually a really exciting day.  We made a very important discovery: if we let her go all on her own, she actually will!  I don't know why it never occurred to us that our independent spitfire might actually prefer a little privacy in the potty, but we have let out the kite string just a tad and she is beginning to soar.

It was an accidental discovery, really.  When I was too lazy to help her this morning, knowing she had no pants under her nightgown, I simply told her to go potty when I felt it was time.  Thus, she ran off and before we knew it, we were listening to the sound of a flushing toilet.  She had gone!  But what was more impressive was about a half hour later when she suddenly announced, "I have to go potty!  I got gas [poo] in my body [booty]!  You don't come!"  And off she ran to do her duty, all by her big girl self.

True, she didn't make any further thrilling announcements the rest of the day, but she obeyed when I asked her to go potty and was successful every time.  She had a dry diaper when we went out and her only business done outside of the bathroom was in her diaper during nap-time.  

We love it.  

And she loves it - which is the goal, really.  In fact, I think she was so darn proud of herself, she completely forgot to demand stickers or cookies when she was done.  Now that's progress.

26 August 2011

Of Thoughtfulness

Yesterday, as I diapered, dressed and rushed the kids out the door immediately following naps, snack time became a fun car activity.  Lately, snacks have consisted of whatever box of cereal they haven't eaten their way through yet.  Running out of options, I cracked open a box of Special K Red Berries (a favorite of mine, but I haven't been eating much cereal for breakfast these days, so I didn't mind), doled it out into their little re-purposed yogurt cups and hustled them into their seats.

While Micaiah was an overall fan of the crispy, sweetened flakes, she did not seem to enjoy the dehydrated strawberries quite as much.  Being the pregnant and non-wasteful mom that I am, I quickly agreed to finish those off for her.

I had not thought anything of yesterday's car-time snack until this afternoon, when, in the middle of watching "Wonder Pets" and munching on her afternoon sustenance, Micaiah exclaimed, "Mom!  You need your snack!"

Running into the kitchen, searching for the empty yogurt cup sitting on the sink I had told her was mine fifteen minutes before (only to convince her to stop asking questions about the silly cup I found on the floor), she was adamant I was missing out.  She quickly hurried back, holding both her cup and "mine."  In the midst of my attempt to ward off her gift of an empty container, I heard her say, "You like strawberries.  I don't like strawberries."

There, in "my" cup, rather than simply handing me her discarded leftovers, my daughter had lovingly deposited all of her dehydrated strawberries just for me.

That, my dear friends, is thoughtfulness - and it pretty near melted my heart.

The moment, I'll admit, was a little ruined by my son who noticed someone in the room still had food and it wasn't him and, thus, I got an earful from my greedy, hungry little man.

And that, my dear friends, is life.

PS If you have a moment, check out the giveaway on my "deals" blog, The Steadfast Steward.  As of press time there are NO (zero, zilch, none) entries and I'm starting to feel bad for the sponsoring company that was hoping for a little advertising through this.  So, if you're at all interested in digital scrapbooking, or just being able to say you won something once, go check it out and enter!  Right now, your odds are looking really good!

25 August 2011

Of Checking in with the Midwives

We had our second official midwife appointment today.  Once again, while listening to the heartbeat, I asked Micaiah, who was standing next to me with eyes twinkling like Christmas lights, who that was we were listening to and she said, "That's my baby sister penguin!"  She cracks me up.  She also gasped excitedly when the baby's kicks caused a louder blurb on the monitor and exclaimed, "She's talking to us!"  I love that girl.

I also got a little bit of a talking to (less stern than I would have had we been conversing with an actual midwife, as opposed to one of the gentler assistants) about what showed up on my food diary.  Though the week represented on the chart was the healthiest I've eaten, well, ever, I still got a warning about chocolate chip cookies and sno-cones which should only be weekly treats and have no nutritional value (I wanted to point out that each item was only on the chart once - thus making them weekly treats - and the sno-cone was only the second I'd had in about four years, but decided not to argue).

Just makes me glad they're not tracking me this week.  Wonder if Cinnamon Toast Crunch qualifies as an acceptable bedtime snack.

Probably not.

24 August 2011

Of Play-Time Favorites

Emmett's favorite place to play at the current moment is sister's bed.  Whenever I notice him missing from the room, I know where to head first.  There he'll be, bouncing around on pink flowered sheets, grasping the white bars of her converted crib.

This morning, as I headed to replace something in his room, I noticed my Little Man, simply laying on his back, enjoying the comfort of his sister's mattress.  Upon seeing me, of course, he hurried to his knees, tightly holding the bed rail along the front of the bed, only a foot a tall, hopping excitedly as he kneels and almost beckons me to join him.

The real fun starts when his sister climbs in next to him - they could spend all day, tumbling over each other, tackling, hugging, exploring the wonderful qualities of a springy mattress, as both a wrestling mat and a trampoline.  Laughter, hugs and smiles abound.

These are the precious moments of our life.

23 August 2011

Of Communication

Mr. E has become much more expressive as of late.  Both his verbal and non-verbal (a.k.a. sign language) skills have continued to sky-rocket in the past week alone.  It seems every day we are newly amazed at the things he requests, copies or comprehends.

When we say phrases, he pulls out the sign to express the same thing - when we weren't even trying for it.

He now uses the accompanying syllable, "Ba" when rubbing his hand on his chest to say "Please" - the same way his sister did when she was a wee one.

He requests milk by saying, "Mi" and squeezing his fists.

Truly, he never ceases to astound us.

Tonight was one of the cutest moments when he pulled the little push-and-ride truck from its parking spot next to the toy box, knelt next to it, then reached both arms out toward me, opening and closing his hands to indicate he needed me to get him on that seat so he could GO!  It may not be an official sign, but he sure did get his point across.

It really is quite nice to transition into being able to communicate with our little darling.

22 August 2011

Of Being Home

We enjoyed a very nice weekend visiting with Philip's family as we all gathered to celebrate fifty years of marriage for his grandparents.  I met many new faces I had only seen on Facebook and found myself wishing we had more excuses to gather with all of these fun-loving people - there are definitely some fun characters in that family (in a good way, not in a crazy way - though there may be some of those that I just didn't get to talk to).

Upon leaving yesterday morning, Micaiah was bewildered and upset by the fact that, rather than following Grandpa Ross and Grandma Veta to church, we were talking of home.  "But," I could just hear her little mind speaking, "they were just going to church - I just saw them!"

To put her anxiety at ease and make for a much more enjoyable hours-long journey, I gave her a new joy to focus on: dinner at Nenaw and Papaw's on the way home.  Worked like a charm.

As we finally came through our own door at an hour and a half past bed-time, Philip deposited Emmett on the floor as he rushed out to hurry along the process of unloading the car.  Little man, who is typically very cranky at this "drop and run" tactic, actually hurried along happily to the living room where he found all of his old friends waiting for him.  Wasting no time, he plucked his favorite ball from the toy box, tossed it around a few times, then headed straight for the books - I later found him pounding away at the keys on their toy laptop.  Yes, this little boy, who had met only a few more new familial faces than myself or his sister, was very glad to be back in recognizable surroundings.

Micaiah, however, was slightly less delighted.  While getting dressed for bed, Philip asked, "Are you glad to be able to sleep in your own bed?"


"No?  Where would you rather sleep?"

"At Nenaw and Papaw's."

Well, you can't please all of the people all of the time.

20 August 2011

Of Directness

A couple of days ago, while we continued to struggle with Micaiah's stubborn and non-cooperative attitude she has put on of late, I spent the three-minute drive to church gently lecturing her on why it is important to do what Mommy and Daddy say the first time.  Reminding her of the concept of "danger" and what that could mean if she didn't do what we said, I loquaciously hammered in the point.

In the midst of my speech, Micaiah interrupted, "Mommy?"

"Yes, sweetie?"

"Thank you to stop talking."

Point taken, my direct darling.

19 August 2011

Of Checking in on Sister Penguin

I realized it's been awhile since I've last mentioned our little penguin.  Yes, I keep forgetting I'm pregnant, too.  Until I wonder why my tummy seems just a bit larger.  Then it all comes back.

Truly, it's a good thing that the sickness has generally subsided enough to allow me to forget on occasion.  Also, this little one is riding higher than Emmett did (further evidence, other than Micaiah's predictions, that this little one may just be a girl after all), which is lovely for the fact that I have yet to need a pair of maternity pants (and still need a belt!), though my shirts have started bulging just a bit.

Even though we're only 15 weeks along, we are asked just about any time we converse with other human beings, when we will "find out" what this one is.  Well, for now we know it's a baby (I'm not holding to the guess by Big Sister that it's a penguin, I'm just not).  If it were up to me, I would let it be a surprise - I mean, we're going so hippie with this home birth concept, let's just take it all the way and pretend we live in the 18th century, shall we?  Besides, I argue, we're prepared with both blue and pink clothing, so what's the point?

But, for naming purposes, my husband is interested in being able to focus on one gender or the other and for the sake of our daughter's sanity (who may just lose it if the long-awaited day for meeting Sister Penguin turns out to produce something that is not only not penguin, but also not a sister - this could be detrimental), I feel it might be best to warn her ahead of time if all her current believes prove to be false.  So, I'm guessing we'll probably have further knowledge about this baby come the next ultrasound (which is probably still, at least, five weeks away - just so you know!).

Anyway, that's how things are going, for now.  Thanks for stopping by!

18 August 2011

Of Adorable Antics

Yesterday evening, as Philip put away the lawn mower, I swept the driveway while the kids watched one of the thirty Land Before Time movies on Netflix in the house.  Upon re-entering the house, I noticed, under the closed door, the pantry light had been left on, most likely by my husband who had been in there a moment earlier.

Thinking nothing of it, I popped open the door to flip the switch and there, looking up at me with the two most guilty looks mustered by little faces, were my munchkins, seated next to each other with a carton of Micaiah's "shiny cookies" (the ones with red sprinkles on them she earns as a reward for going potty) between them.  Fortunately, Micaiah has yet to learn the fine art of opening said cookies, so there were no tiny crumbs scattered across the mouths of our contrite little ones.

What am I going to do with those two?

The further adorable aftermath of the above scene was Micaiah declaring her need to go potty (so she could rightfully gain possession of one of those coveted cookies), actually doing so, and then picking the two largest treats from the container - one for her, and one, slightly larger than the other, for her brother.  What a sweetheart.

17 August 2011

Of Our Potty Book

Clearly, if you've been reading long, you know I am not the mom to go to for potty training advice.  We, in this house, are potty training failures.  However, can I tell you about our favorite potty book in this house?

First, I'll share, I am not a fan of potty books.  I do not look down on anyone using them, it's just that most are too descriptive for my taste - even if they are informative and helpful (again, my child isn't potty trained - maybe a more descriptive book would have been useful).  But on a lark, I purchased one last holiday season when buying discounted books on-line.  And Micaiah fell in love - and I'll have to admit, I think it's fun, too.

Now, when she's on the potty, she loves for me to read her the book of Potty Animals, all learning their potty manners.  I love that it covers so many good tips for little kids who are potty training - the concept of going before you sleep, washing your hands, flushing, and not waiting too long (for boys it even covers lifting the seat and perfecting your aim).  It's truly adorable.  She loves when I read it and then let her repeat the commands to the animals, so she can tell them the right way to behave in the potty.

Adorable, really.  Now, if she would take the words to heart, we'd be on a roll!

16 August 2011

Of Emulation

Emmett's absolute favorite person, though the one who also tends to best at making him cry, is his sister.  While she, at times, gets bossy and demanding if he chooses not to follow her around, she needn't fuss too much as follow-the-sister is generally his past-time of choice.

Lately we've been dealing with much fussing over the iPad - if Micaiah is playing Angry Birds, Emmett wants to play, too.  And, of course, his little one-year-old hands don't quite have the finesse and crying typically ensues.  Either way, I'm convinced he would not be nearly as interested if it weren't her favorite activity.

Likewise, this evening, as she stood next to the toy box with her "big box" of crayons and a clean sheet of paper, Emmett pulled himself to his feet and bopped at the container of colored wax as well.  Thus, we encouraged her to find a canvas for her brother.  And so the two stood, side by side, with two white papers in front of them and a set of crayons between them.  One of the most adorable sights of my day.

15 August 2011

Of Experimental Parenting

As with most first children, parenting Micaiah tends to be an experiment.

I have felt sorry for Philip in the past because, as we would make a discipline decision together one day, the next day, feeling it just wasn't working, I would change tactics and have to remember to tell him when he got home.  Most likely, I would forget, he would try to reinforce a rule that was now antiquated and I would find myself saying, once again, "Oh, we're not doing that anymore - I think this will work better."  Poor guy.  It's not his fault his wife apparently stinks at consistency.

But, in reality, parenting, I feel, is a constantly shifting wave, a continual re-evaluating of what's working and what's just not.

Thus, considering the three lessons we've learned regarding Micaiah and her potty training, something very obvious stuck out to me.  When we are home, I ask our little girl quite frequently, in the hopes of warding off future messes, if she has to go.  Every time, with increasing frustration, she insists she does not.  If I urge her to try anyway, I am often met with hostility, which is a bad sign for me because I want to keep this a positive experience (as in, we want her to actually like the potty so she'll actually use it - that's kind of key).  So, today, I made (yet another) new decision: we would simply stop asking.  If it's her stubborn streak keeping her from training, we need to give her the opportunity to actually tell us if she needs to visit the toilet - which is what happens when we're out of the house.  See?  It seems so obvious, doesn't it.

Of course, this only occurred to me halfway through the day, after her first couple of accidents on the floor (thank goodness for laminate flooring - she's currently not allowed to play in the carpeted rooms of our home), so we haven't seen a drastic change yet, but she did notify her daddy of an evening mishap right away, rather than waiting until he discovered it (as she'd been doing in the past).  Maybe she really does like this new sense of responsibility.

Fingers crossed, anyway.

14 August 2011

Of Potty Training (Take 3)

Here we are on Day 2 of our third (fourth?) attempt at potty training our little girl.

I had a moment yesterday when I suddenly remembered our previous seven-month-long endeavor and the fact that she actually would go out without accidents and be able to let us know when she needed to make a visit to the potty while we were at, say, Wal-Mart.  Home, however, was another story - she didn't seem to mind creating a mess in her own house.  This was what finally caused me to throw in the towel - seven months of a toddler on the brink of embracing the concept without ever making the plunge.

I decided then and there, in my car yesterday afternoon, this is it.  We're done playing games.  We're not turning back; we're jumping in with both feet.  We'll do it positively, encouragingly, and with much applause and smiles, of course, but we'll make it clear - this is it.

Upon awaking from her nap, I declared there would be no more FuzziBunz [cloth diapers] for her.  Confused, she ran to her closet, pointed to the brimming diaper basket and reminded me, "Yes, more FuzziBunz!"

"Nope," I told her, "We're giving those to Emmett.  You'll have to learn to use underwear."

But for now, we're not using anything at home.  We've tried it before and, yes, it was messy, but I know our mess-hating daughter will hate the idea of piddling on the floor at this point in her life.  So, today, while she didn't exactly tell us she had to go, and wasn't very enthusiastic about trying, she certainly held it for a long time.

And, eventually, she gave in and headed to the potty, when I knew she probably couldn't hold it much longer.

So, here's what we've learned: she can resist the urge to go, she can tell us beforehand if she wants to, but she hates, under all circumstances, being told what to do.

We'll see how this goes.

12 August 2011

Of Cherishing

After napping a solid three hours, until 5:15, it was not entirely surprising, though he wiped seemingly-weary eyes at story-time, that Emmett was not quite ready to commit to going back to sleep by bed-time at 7:30.  And after a steady half-hour or more of fussing, Mommy finally gave in.

It's not as though we do it often, relent to the whines of a little one who isn't wanting to go to bed, that is, but sometimes, very rarely, it just feels more important to have a few more waking moments with these small ones who will not be this small forever.

Thus, he was happily plucked from his crib and released to play for just a little longer on the living room floor.  And he could not have been more joyful.  Giggling, he showed off his handsome dimples, as he indulged in toys typically selfishly hoarded by his sister.  He toyed with the purple pull-and-go VW Bug, learning how to ratchet the wheels and let it drive on its own.  He listened to the barking whines of the dogs outside and mimicked them. He climbed, for the first time, onto the hearth (and was given a firm reprimand), something his sister never even tried.  Yet another reminder that this boy is growing right before our eyes.

And, as I watched him snuggle and tickle with his Daddy, I thought, sadly, of just how soon he will be grown and out of our house and we will find ourselves much older and only remembering bittersweetly these days and the stolen moments when a certain little boy was out past his bed-time.  I certainly do cherish these.

11 August 2011

Of Exciting News

I was initially going to share about Emmett's second haircut, which happened this morning.  He was not a big fan of sitting still in a new environment while someone came at his head with sharp objects, but he had some great distractors and survived fairly unscathed.

This was Emmett's Joe-Jonas-pre-haircut look:
Cute, but shaggy.

Here's the exciting part, this is post-haircut, but more importantly, notice what he's doing in the picture.  All by himself!

This was how I found him after re-filling his water cup in the kitchen!  He got up all by himself!  FINALLY!

And as further proof that he is no longer safe outside of Mommy's constant watchful eye, as I was typing this exciting post, Micaiah ran to me from the kitchen in a panic: "Emmett is stuck!  You have to help him!"  Wondering how he could possibly be stuck in the kitchen, with no objects to get wedged behind, I considered maybe he had stood again, against a cabinet perhaps, and was afraid to sit.  But no.  A standing boy is not what I found.  This is what I discovered when I entered the kitchen:

Oh this boy is going to be trouble!

09 August 2011

Of Addictions

I'll just say it: My name is Angela and I am addicted to honey.  Now, please don't misunderstand, it's not just any honey that will give me my fix.  As a matter of fact, until about two or three months ago, I would have told you I didn't even care much for the dripping amber-colored substance (unless, of course, it was adorning the wonders of blini, the Russian crepe, but that's another story).  But one fateful day changed me forever.

On that beautiful spring Saturday, I was running around town on Mommy errands (the kind that get me out of the house all by myself) when I spotted a red truck on the side of one of the main thorough-ways of our thriving metropolis.  The truck bore a simple yellow sign proclaiming its wares: "Honey."  Now, only a few weeks before, I had silently vowed to myself to take advantage of road-side stands this season.  In years past, I had seen farmers selling corn, melons and other wonderful produce from their own vehicles parked on the shoulder of any given street.  Always tempted, I had never stopped.  This year, I had decided would be different.

And what kind of change could I hope to effect if I reneged on my personal vows now?  Besides, though I didn't care much for honey, I thought my husband might enjoy it.  And, so, I turned my little car around (the one I drive when I'm on my Mommy errands - without carseats!) and headed back to the large three-quarters-aged man (what do you call them when they're beyond "middle-aged" but not quite octogenerian?  When you have an answer, you let me know) and his red truck.  Pulling in, I decided I would simply ask the price of his product.

I chided myself - who was I kidding?  As if it's not awkward enough to be the only consumer at the vendor's vehicular stand, to get out of my car, ask a simple price and then get in and drive off would just feel ludicrous.  I was going to be buying honey, like it or not.

Still, looking for an opener, I questioned the going rate.  As he told me his not-unreasonable asking price, he inquired as to whether or not I'd like a sample.  Not wanting to be rude, I acquiesced.  And thus was the moment.  The moment this honey took over my life.  Okay, maybe I'm being melodramatic, but that home-grown honey, produced by bees cared for by this very man before me, was the most amazing tasting-honey I could have ever imagined.  I quickly purchased a bottle - still not knowing for what we would use it, but proud of my "support local growers" purchase and my great-tasting sticky goo.

I should mention, that for argument's sake, I re-tested my former bear-shaped bottle of store-bought honey almost the moment I returned home and knew I was not wrong.  I would never be able to have any other than 100% pure raw honey again.

And so it sat in our cupboard for weeks.  We pulled it out once or twice, but it rarely saw action.  Until I started eating better.  Recognizing honey's status as lower on the glycemic index than actual sugar, and not being able to tolerate plain oatmeal, I decided to give this new-found friend a shot - and I fell in love all over again.  Now, my bowl of oatmeal with milk and honey (along with a couple boiled eggs) is the meal I most look forward to every day.  I've also begun experimenting by adding it to bread or pancakes in place of plain white sugar.

And now we're running out!

I made a special trip this last weekend, to his trusty spot and found my honey-provider in order to re-stock and invested in a bottle twice the size as the previous, but I find I am still concerned as to whether or not this bottle will last through the winter.  And what if he's not there next summer?  How will I get my fix?  I am now nearly dependent and I'm almost going through shakes thinking about not being able to find what I need when I next run out.

I need help.  There, I've done the first step myself.

08 August 2011

Of Movie Night

As Philip and I settled in this evening, I with my chosen craft and he with his, for a quiet movie night, I glanced at the clock, noting, at just past 8 o'clock, that we may even be able to squeeze in two movies if they were of reasonable length.

But it was not to be so.

Between rising to investigate the pending "severe thunderstorm" rolling into town, multiple snack breaks for this hungry mama, a pause to mop up the half-bottle of juice which my husband successfully exploded on the kitchen floor, his attempts at brewing tea, changing a little boy who was hot and sweaty in his crib, then, later, bathing said boy who had now vomited his dinner over himself and his crib, comforting same boy, reading another bed-time story and nestling him back into bed, running the washing machine to rinse soiled bedding and pajamas, then running another cycle to include the juice-soaked towels and mop-head, along with aforementioned soiled bedding and pajamas, it would seem a two-hour movie can, apparently, easily consume a span of three and a half hours.

When did movie night become so complicated?

07 August 2011

Of Poured Blessings

I believe this morning was the first occasion the low rumbles of (non-threatening) thunder, along with the pitter patter of drops hitting the window actually inspired me to get out of bed. Typically, these sounds beckon me to remain in my cozy nest, and, quite honestly, my headaching and slightly-nauseated pregnant self partially wished to follow the old patterns and let the other three head off to church without me. But the excited words of my daughter when my husband entered her room, "It's a storm!" - the likes of which we have not seen here in these parts for the better part of two months - were too much to ignore.

So as I heard him, infant in hand, and happy, pajamed little girl in tow, opening the front door so they could take a look, I needed to be there as well. And when that same happy girl refused to go eat breakfast, begging, instead, to get her feet wet, I had to open the glass door for her, so we could all, in p.j.'s and bare feet, enjoy this glorious blessing together.

What better way to begin the Lord's Day than by basking in His goodness pouring down?

06 August 2011

Of Climbing

I take it as a good sign for his physical development.  Our little guy started climbing today.  That's right, he can't stand, but he sure can climb (to a certain extent).

After months of simply crawling to his sister's Pottery Barn Kids armchair, and then kneeling in front of it as he pounded his open palms on the seat or bounced a ball off the top, our big boy finally pushed off of his knees, and his feet, and to climb atop the seat himself.  And boy was he proud!  Like a king on his pink throne, he took in the world around him.  Squirreling around, he tried to see just how much he could reach from his newfound height.

Of course, his newly discovered talent served to spark his sister's renewed interest in the chair, while she attempted to reclaim her rightful place in the world.  It was tough to enforce the "one child at a time" rule when she looked so darn cute sitting next to her brother, while subtly attempting to oust him from the spot.

They eventually learned to take turns, but what Emmett hasn't quite learned is a graceful exit strategy, which currently includes a controlled fall to his hands so he can crawl back out - sometimes successful, sometimes not.

We're so proud of our new little climber, though.  And are suddenly very motivated to bolt down every piece of furniture in the house.

04 August 2011

Of Failures

My head knows it's not my fault.  I am not a failure as a parent.  My head knows it, but the rest of me is a lot tougher to convince.

The part of me that sees and reads about almost every child we know younger than Emmett (though of a reasonable age, of course) is not only standing but moving their tiny feet, one after the other - while our thirteen-month-old gets much praise and adulation for simply pulling to his own two feet while Mommy pulls his hands up higher than he can reasonably reach while resting on his booty or knees.

And the part of me that sees and reads about almost every child we know younger than Micaiah (though of a reasonable age, of course) who seems to already be using the potty - and has learned to do so in a matter of weeks, or even days - while our near-three-year-old, after months (and months, and months) of encouragement, positive attitudes and training still continues her dis-interest in all things potty.  Or, rather, she likes the idea of Dora underwear or M&M's for sitting on the toilet, but is not really into actually trying for a permanent move from diapers.

My head knows it's not my fault.  These things can't be forced and if they're not interested, the only result of forcing a child into either of the above activities is, most likely, irreversible psychological damage.

But part of me still feels like a failure as a parent.  I suppose if this is where we fail, life could be worse.

03 August 2011

Of Stranger Danger

I had an inkling this morning while preparing breakfast for the little ones (read: putting Apple Jacks and bananas on their respective high chair trays and filling their sippies with milk - I'm so gourmet it kills you, doesn't it?) that I should take a moment or two to try to explain the concept of "danger" to our rambunctious near-three-year-old. Not wanting to complicate breakfast, however, I shrugged off the feeling.

Not ten minutes later, our doorbell was ringing with a shadow behind the glass taller than any typical visitor to our stoop (especially being that our only "typical" visitor is my rather small sister-in-law).  Not being appropriately dressed for strangers at this time of the morning, I panicked - I knew Sesame Street was probably a little too loud to pretend no one was home, but I also wasn't sure I wanted to even try opening the door - I always panic at the thought of a stranger at the door - dressed or not.  When what to my wondering ears should I hear but my daughter, yelling, "Is it Dia?!  Mommy, who is it?!"  I tried to quietly urge her to shut her trap (ok, I really was nicer, but still firm), but she did not seem to get the hint, continuing in her obnoxiously loud voice, "Mommy, who is it?!".  Knowing I definitely could not pass off the "we're not home" theory, I dashed to the bedroom for a robe, only to hear more yelling from the living room, "Come in!"  I could have died - and taken a certain little girl with me.

Of course, by the time I returned to the front door, the tall, shadowy stranger had disappeared and I would later learn it was someone sent by the electric company to trim trees in our backyard.  But none of that mattered.  What made me whirl around with the glare of death toward my toddler was the fact that she did not listen to me and, in fact, did the exact opposite of what I had requested in a moment that could have been dangerous.

Thus, I decided maybe this morning would be the perfect time to discuss strangers and the danger they can pose.  I'm praying there was not a reason coming in the near future that necessitated that lesson being taught today.

02 August 2011

Of Emergency

Our city is currently in a "State of Emergency."  Due to many water main breaks throughout the town, all of the four water towers have now been emptied and many homes are without water.  Those of us who still have this precious commodity flowing through our faucets are asked to boil it before use and, for that matter, use as little as humanly possible.  I'm not going to lie, when I first received the automated phone call with all of the above information, my eyes starting tearing up of their own free will (yes, my tear ducts are a separate entity altogether).

Much as with the sound of a tornado siren (though to a much lesser degree), those three little words - "State of Emergency" - push a panic button found somewhere deep inside and I feel as though the world as we know it is going to crumble at our feet.  Of course, the logical part of my brain explains this is not true, which is why the misting of my eyes lasted but a mere few seconds before I simply pulled out our two largest pots, filled them with water and set the burners to "Hi" so we would be prepared when the children needed something to fill their sippie cups.

Regardless of all that is occurring, I know one primary truth: God is in control.  And I am grateful for the fact that we at least have the option of heating liquid which has come from our own sinks rather than having to dash to the nearest store still in possession of the bottled variety.  Yes, there is much to be thankful for and much still needing prayer, such as those working around the clock to fix this mess and get us back on track.  To the best of my knowledge there will be no looting or riots in the street.

Life goes on.

UPDATE: Mere minutes after posting, my husband turned on our faucet and noted it seemed to be going at full pressure, as opposed to the weak job it had been performing for the past 36 hours.  Apparently they have taken care of the major breaks and are focusing on the minors while the water towers refill.  What'd I tell you?  Life goes on ;)

01 August 2011

Of Thin Skin

It took a great number of years - or comparatively so for the span of years I have lived thus far - for me to discover my real passion in life.  It was not until I was in my early twenties that I realized those younger years of awkward cursive on paper in the form of short stories my brain would spew out, coupled with my knack for editing friends' papers through high school and an unexpected love in my senior year elective creative writing class were all indications of my heart's desire.  I longed to write.  I enjoyed doing so and to be actually paid for such an endeavor would be a true dream.

Turns out I'm not one who finds great ambition in the pursuit of dreams, but I am working on the discipline aspect.  The one true notion which has always inhibited my ability to truly embrace this dream is my incapacity for taking criticism - mostly that of the un-constructive nature.

I have always found, in this technological age of being infinitely connected to others of the world who we know not personally, that one negative response to a blog comment or note to another on Facebook will turn me into a downward spiral.  My stomach goes in knots, my blood boils, my mind races with witty comebacks which I know I will never deem to write, for lack of desire in being entangled in another's bitter tirade.

I become consumed.

All due to one response, by someone of whom I know nothing other than the pointed words typed on the screen before me.

If this is how I respond to such meaningless drivel as is poured forth by internet "trolls" who get their kicks from making others miserable, how could I possibly bear to stand naked before the world, my mind laid bare on the pages of a book, inviting negativity, anger and bitterness in droves from those who are merely waiting for a single mis-step, wrong word or incorrect theory?

How will this girl ever develop a skin thick enough for the goal she pursues?