So, we've had a rule of no bike riding in the house. You know, one of those rules you would never think of having until you have children and realize the number of things you need to specify. For Christmas, Santa brought our 5 year old a scooter and our 3 year old a 12" bike. There has been snow on the ground and the weather has been freezing cold - not ideal conditions for riding bikes and scooters. I never considered our house that large, but apparently our long hallway and kitchen covered with linoleum are ideal conditions for bike and scooter riding. So we are bending the rules in celebration of Christmas. Every day, several times a day, they ride up and down the hallway. I'm sure it's not ideal treatment for my floors, but if it keeps my kids happy and burns off some of the extra energy they have from candy and not enough time spent outdoors, I'm happy to bend the rules. Let's just hope come summer they don't still want to ride indoors.
My 5 year old daughter has decided she wants to take a shower every night instead of taking a bath with her younger brother and sister. This is one of those things you never really consider, but makes you realize how quickly your little kids grow up. I know it's a simple shower, but I felt like saying "No! You're too little! I want you staying in the bathtub with your siblings forever!" I didn't say those things, of course, but it did make me kind of sad to realize she's old enough to do something simple by herself like bathe herself. Of course, she still needs a little help with shampooing her own hair in the shower. And, with kid #4 coming in March, it will be a little difficult to have 4 children all sitting together in the tub at bathtime. I understand logically all of these things, but it still made me a little sad. Maybe I should blame that on pregnancy hormones.
My 3 year old son has taken to narrating his playtime. I don't know if he's seen too many Thomas the Tank Engine movies or we've read too many books written in 3rd person, but it's fairly entertaining to listen to. Especially because it's frequently when there's no one else around.
I'll overhear him playing with his toy trains and saying things like this:
"'You're going too fast,' said the blue train. He needs to slow down. He goes up the hill now."
Or he'll be playing with the kid's nativity saying and saying things like this:
"Mary and Joseph need to stop at the manger. The bad guys are coming."
Perhaps it's time I start playing with them a little more and doing some role playing rather than reading books!
I've found myself falling back into a threatening mode towards my children. This is one of those things I have to make a conscience effort to avoid. I frequently find myself saying things like "If you don't clean all the books up, I'll have to take your stuffed animals away." Really, I'd probably get a better result if I phrased it as "If you put all of your books away, you can go play with your stuffed animals". I react better to incentives than I do to threats, and I'm pretty sure my children are the same. An early New Year's resolution, I guess, to focus on encouraging the positive rather than punishing the negative.
My house is being overtaken by snow clothes. Now that there is snow on the ground, we (I and my 3 children) take half an hour to get everyone bundled up in socks, boots, snow pants, gloves, hats, and coats to go play in the snow outside. I sometimes long for the day when I only have to worry about dressing myself. When we come back into the house, I've been managing to at least keep the snow clothes contained to the entryway while we unbundle and before the kids take off through the house. I'm left however, with a giant pile of wet, cold clothes. They end up everywhere to dry--on the banister, on the dryer, on the backs of the kitchen chairs, on the floor next to the heat vents, etc. Today I was longing for one of those "mud" rooms some have in their homes that connect the garage and the rest of the home. I'm not sure the wet mess would dry any faster there, but at least I wouldn't have clothing scattered throughout my house.
We uncaged the animal this week. We took the side railing off the crib our 19 month old sleeps in and turned it into a toddler bed. We decided we might as well do it now. If I try to do it in February, in the middle of tax season and when the new baby is almost here, I'm pretty sure I would not have the patience to do it. But, the baby's going to need a place to sleep, so we had to do it sometime.
Switching child #1 to a "big kid bed" was a bad experience. She was about 19 months old, and like this child, we were going to need the crib for the new baby on the way. She has never been an easy child to get to sleep at night, and this just made it worse. She would scream and refuse to sleep in her bed, but also refuse to sleep in the crib anymore. We would find her asleep on the floor, or up against the door when we tried to open it.
Child #2 was a breeze. He's always been the sort of kid that just goes right to sleep when he's tired. We got bunkbeds, so his big sister got to sleep on the top bunk and he got to sleep on the bottom. No problem.
This child falls somewhere in the middle. She's okay about going to sleep, but given the choice between sleeping and playing, she'll always choose playing regardless of how tired she is. Here's how it went: Day 1 - 19 mo stayed up until 10 pm (normal sleep time is 8 pm) playing with her sister, climbing into the top bunk, and pulling toys off the toybox to play with. We found her asleep on the floor and had to move her to her bed. Other 2 kids were asleep by 9:30 at the latest. Day 2 - She went to sleep during nap time, but it was on her sister's bed on the top bunk. At night, about every 20 minutes we went in to try to get her in her bed to go to sleep. She kept trying to go back up to the top bunk to play with her sister, who seemed to be enjoying it. There was much crying involved. They were all asleep finally by 9 pm. Day 3 - She napped on the top bunk again. We finally unscrewed the ladder from the bunkbed before bedtime. Her older sister has to climb up now using the footboards or the dresser. The 19 mo was sad to not be able to climb up anymore (and only fell once trying), but it was much more peaceful and all were asleep by 9 pm.
I'm hoping it continues to calm down some. I'm pretty sure my sleeper boy is looking forward to having his own room in the near future so that he can just go to sleep and not be kept awake by his two sisters. I'm looking forward to his getting more sleep so that the daytime is a little happier. I may have to cut down on the 19 mo nap time so she starts to go to sleep a little earlier at night, but I'm not sure that would help right now. This is just another one of those things I think you just have to sit through as a parent and wait for it to be done. At least they get along, right? I'll enjoy those moments while I can before they become teenagers.
My children have started telling me "I don't like to eat that" when I serve them foods that they've always eaten in the past. I'm hoping this is just a phase. I've always heard it takes 10-15 times or so of being served a new food before a child will sometimes try it. I'm not sure how this applies to food they have eaten before. I try to just ignore them when they say it, and serve it to them anyway. Today my 4 year old told me "I don't like grilled cheese. I won't eat it." I ignored her and made it for everyone anyway. She ate half of it, which I considered a victory. I'm hoping they don't get in the habit of saying they don't like something and never eat it, only to find out as an adult that, what do you know, they really do like it. I'm pretty sure that's what happened to me and tomatoes. Any suggestions?
Do you remember twirling as a little kid? I remember having so much fun just spinning until you dropped. It makes me happy to see my kids spinning around in circles, trying not to run into each other, until they get so dizzy they drop or have to stop. Wouldn't it be great if we adults found such great pleasure in simple things like children do?
This video reminds me of the old 8mm home movies we had when I was a kid. It was taken on my phone, so the picture and sound are a little grainy, but still captures the fun fairly well.
When I get stressed, I organize. I think I inherited this from my own mom. When she was angry, we all seemed to start to clean. I don't know if it's because she made us clean, or if we were just trying to stay out of her way and give her space. Either way, it's what I do in my own life now. If things seem stressful or out of control, it calms me down to organize something.
Today I categorized and alphabetized the books on my bookshelf. If this is something I did on a daily basis, I'd probably start to be worried. In many ways, this is mindless work for me that helps me feel like I accomplished something, without exerting too much effort.
Folding laundry is a fun time in my family. Weird, huh? I always hear people complain about laundry, but I guess I don't have enough kids yet or big enough kids yet that it is overwhelming for me. Or maybe I just don't wash things enough! I do one load a day 3 or 4 times a week. (Not counting those small quick loads where someone has leaked onto their clothes and they need to go right into the wash). Doing it this way, putting a load in just becomes part of my morning routine and it never gets overwhelming.
In the late afternoon, in that time period before I need to start getting dinner ready and when the kids are starting to get tired, we all go upstairs with a basket of clean laundry to Mom & Dad's bedroom. I dump the clothes on the bed, and the kids all climb onto the bed with all the clothes. (Note: I rarely buy clothing that needs to be ironed.) They run around on and jump off the bed while we do the little rhyme of "Five little monkeys swinging in a tree, teasing Mr. Crocodile". I pretend to be Mr. Crocodile and "snap" them off the bed in a hug. It's so much fun, that it makes folding laundry (which comes after the rhyme, while they're jumping off the bed onto the pillows on the floor) so much more bearable. They even ask if they can go to Swinging Monkeys. Granted, they're not folding all the laundry for me, but they see me doing it, and the older ones will try to find their clothes in the pile and even attempt folding them all by themselves. I keep hoping also that this is one of those things that if I don't make it seem like a horrible chore to do, they'll be more willing to help with it or do it themselves as they get older. More of the "spoonful of sugar" helping the medicine go down, I guess!
I've found that the answer to many problems with my children is "read a book". If my children are fighting, I'll say, "Why don't we read some books." If we have time before bedtime but need to keep things calm, "Let's get our library books out." If we're waiting for dinner or lunch to be ready, "Let's read some books until the timer goes off." If I'm too tired to do anything that requires any effort, "Why don't you bring me a book to read." Even if one of them says they don't want to read a book, if I start reading aloud, they wander in and start listening.
I really believe that reading is the answer to a lot of problems. Obviously there are educational benefits for my children if I read to them, but it's also just a lot of fun. We go to the library every week and get new books, and it's like buying new toys for my children. Sometimes we do get some of the same books over and over, but usually I know I only have to read a book over and over for a week. (This is especially comforting for some of the really poorly written or annoying children's books out there).
I used to limit the number of books to 2 or 3 for each child each time we went, but I decided I'd rather have them get 6 or 7 and read through them and decide whether it's a book they like or not. Thank goodness for the receipts the library prints that list all the books you have checked out. And thank goodness for the library. They've saved me thousands of dollars and lots of tears.
Isaiah 7:15 Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good.
I was reading the other day in Isaiah, and this verse stood out to me as a great parenting scripture. Isn't being a good parent all about providing good experiences for your children (butter and honey, so to speak)? When you've gotten used to eating top quality food, it's hard to go back to generic mac & cheese on a daily basis. Wouldn't it be wonderful if our children are so used to being surrounded by good people and good environments and experiences, that when they are confronted with evil, they automatically refuse it and choose the good instead? We can't force our children to choose good, but we can certainly do our best to make sure they know what is truly good so that the differences are obvious. That can be a good goal for me - to ask myself each day, "What good thing can I expose my child to today?"
Today (as I was actually cleaning my house), I thought of all the benefits of having a dirty house.
1 - My kids are building up a great immunity to germs. By not having everything bleached and sanitized on a daily basis, I figure it's helping their bodies learn to fight germs better. By the time they get to school age, they should be set!
2 - Cleaning is still fun to my kids. If you don't clean too often, your kids get excited to help out. I frequently have arguing over who gets to clean the mirror, who gets the green sponge, who gets to dust, who gets the spray bottle, etc.
3 - So much extra time. It's amazing how much you can get done in the 15 minutes you don't spend cleaning every day. There's extra time to play with my kids, shower, read that magazine that's been sitting there for 4 months.
The next time I get the urge to clean my house, I'll have to remember all these and save myself the trouble. :)
So...the other day I ignored my children for most of the day. I still took care of their basic needs, but I spent most of the day reading a book. I was in escapism mode, and thought it would be a nice break. It wasn't. I was reminded that I really do enjoy spending time with my children. They're not going to be little like this for long where I have a chance to play with them and have them want me to spend all my time with them. I know I still need a break every now and then, but for me, apparently, taking a whole day to read a book is not the way to do it. I'm pretty sure I would have enjoyed the book more if I had still played with my children and read all night after they were in bed. I'll have to remind myself of this when I'm reading another book that is hard to put down.
We just watched "The Game Plan" the other night, starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. His movies always bring on deep thinking and introspection. Seriously, though, this movie got me thinking. In the movie, the main character has an 8 year old daughter show up on his doorstep and disrupt his self-centered single life. After taking care of her by himself for 1 month, he's crushed to see her go and ready to have her live with him full-time.
I don't know about you, but it sure took me more than a month to adjust to being a new parent. In fact, the first 6 weeks of being a new mom were some of the most unpleasant ones I've ever had. I kept hearing people talk about what a beautiful it was to be a new mom, and all I thought was that I was completely overwhelmed and exhausted. Granted, there were some extenuating circumstances including nursing not working, the baby eating every hour on the hour, and still weighing 6 pounds at 6 weeks old. Some of the problem came, though, from just having my life completely turned around and disrupted. Apparently my life before having kids was as selfish and self-centered as a professional football player.
I don't know if it's because I was a little older when I got married and started having kids, or if it's because I worked in the business world for so long before having kids, but becoming a mom was a difficult adjustment for me. I love being a mom now, and having child #2 was not a huge adjustment. I guess I had already emotionally surrendered myself to my children and putting them first. It was just a matter of adding him into our life and schedule rather than find a brand new life and schedule for myself.
I love that much of my life revolves around my children now. I love that having children has taught me to be less selfish and put someone else's needs first. I also know that Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson certainly knows how to adjust to these things much faster than I did.
I love bedtime and bathtime for my kids. For many reasons. In fact, I'm usually a little sad when I can't be there for bedtime for my kids. It's like our little family time. We start bedtime at 7 pm (which is early for a lot of families, but perfect for mine). After gathering the necessary water bottles, stuffed animals, and books, we all head upstairs (including my husband, assuming he isn't gone for a meeting) and put all 3 of the kids in the bathtub together. There is probably only about 4 inches of water in the tub, and we don't even always use soap or shampoo. Really, it's more about calming down and having a little transition time before they have to get in bed. We tell stories, play guessing games where I'll say a line from one of their books and they have to guess the book, and everyone gets to just sit for a few minutes.
One by one, we get them out of the tub and dressed in pajamas. Then it's time to brush hair and teeth; I brush their hair while they brush their teeth. It's time then for family prayer, after which they each get to choose a book to read as we sit on the bottom bunk bed. We sing "I Am a Child of God", give hugs and kisses, and Dad leaves while mom helps them say their personal prayers, reads a chapter from a book (Charlotte's Web right now), and then sings a song, before leaving them. I love it.
Granted, there are times when all 3 kids are screaming before, during and after the bath, and you just want to shut the door and run away. But those aren't the norm. The norm is that I get to sit in the relatively quiet with my kids, and just enjoy their company. I know that they will only be little for a short while longer, and I'm trying to soak it all in. This is one of those times when I can do that. Far too soon, they'll have to just shower and get dressed and ready by themselves. They won't want to sit on Mom's lap and read a story before bedtime. But for now, I get to enjoy these little ones every single night. And I do.
It's not an easy thing to take 3 kids out of the house. For one thing, it takes forever to get a diaper bag packed with diapers, wipes, snacks, tissues, water bottles, hats, etc. It would be so much easier in some ways to just stay home and never worry about going anywhere. I had to make a conscious decision to take my kids to a weekly activity, whether it's the library, the park, or wherever. Inertia will otherwise take over my family and I'll look back and say "Wow, there were some really cool things we could have done and experienced as a family."
I have a list hanging up on my fridge of free activities and ones that cost money. When I think of something or see something online or in the paper, I add it to the list. Not all of the activities work out. Just last week we drove to what I thought was a free museum (that's what I get for growing up near the Smithsonians) and found out it was going to cost $7 to take my kids. It wasn't worth it to me, so we drove to the closest park instead. Sometimes it's exhausting to me as well as to the kids to go do things, but then my 4 year old will say something like "That was the best thing ever!" and I know it was worth it.
It was difficult at first for me to start going on activities without my husband and just with my kids. For one thing, it's awful helpful to have another set of hands. But also, I like spending time with him and having him do fun things with us. It's just not reasonable, though, to wait to do all activities when Dad is home from work in the evenings or on the weekends. I think I'm adjusting to that and just learning to take lots of pictures and make sure the kids tell Dad about their day and what they've done.
It's getting easier to take the kids out and about, and I'm sure a lot of that is because they're getting older. If you're nursing or have a baby that takes a bottle, it's even more coordinating that takes place. But, what a great experience it's been for me to get out of the house and experience so much. Until I started looking, I had no idea how many free and fun activities there are in the area.
vin·dic·tive [vin-dik-tiv]–adjective: disposed or inclined to revenge; vengeful
As teenagers, my siblings & I would frequently hear my mom say "Don't be vindictive". This was usually when one of our friends did something to make us angry or hurt our feelings. She would tell us not to waste our energy trying to get even or react to them, but to move on. I had no idea this advice would apply to me as a mother as well.
The other day my children made one of the biggest messes they've ever made of my kitchen. This picture doesn't really do it justice, as it was taken after they had cleaned up some. The floor was covered with water, milk, carrots, hot cocoa, half a bottle of ranch dressing, every apron, and half the kid cups and bowls. My 2 year old was sitting on the counting, dumping out a packet of dry honey ham glaze all over everything and laughing. I was not laughing.
This is one of those moments as a parent when I'm sure I could have just laughed about the whole thing. Or, I could have taught them a calm lesson about listen to our conscience and what we know if right or wrong. Or, I could have politely explained to them why they shouldn't dump food all over the floor. I didn't do any of those things. I just lost it. Granted, my losing it is not quite as scary as it could be, but I was furious. Apparently when they had made a giant mess several months ago, I didn't quite get the point across. My 4 year old said "Sorry we made such a mess mom. We were having fun." My 2 year old doesn't know the concept of remorse, so he was still laughing.
I was angry enough, that I just wanted them to be punished somehow and feel guilty for what they had done. I wanted to be vindictive. I remembered something my wise sister had told me before - that the point is not to make your children feel guilty, because they won't; the point is to make them understand that there are consequences for their actions. I'm good at feeling guilty, though. It's something I inherited. And I think that because of that I wanted my children to feel guilty about what they had done. It actually took me at least an hour before I felt like I was over it and not angry at my children for their actions.
I understand that they're just little kids and they're not trying to be mean. They also don't quite understand the concept of "wasting" food by dumping it out or of not wanting to clean up a mess. But, wow, it's hard not to feel vindictive even of little kids sometimes. It's one of those things you're never told before you have children. As parents, we still have to move on and get over the things our children do, just as we did with our teenage friends.
Being Mary Poppins is exhausting. It's hard work to make things fun and exciting for my kids. It would be so much easier in many ways to just not try to make them clean up after themselves, or behave, or go to sleep, or be nice to each other, etc. etc. But it's oh so true that if I add some fun into these things, my kids enjoy it and do it. I don't really enjoy cleaning up clutter, so of course my kids don't enjoy cleaning it up. But if we march the toy animals into their box while singing a song or race the cars back into the box, the cleaning goes much faster and none of us are whining or frustrated. Of course, I'd still love to be able to snap my fingers and have them march themselves into the boxes. I just have to tell myself, sometimes over and over again, that if I "train up my child" now when they are young, they will learn and be able to do it by themselves someday. Right?
Several times a week I hear the phrase (from my 4 yr old) - "Mom, when I'm a mom, you can still be a mom". It's then followed up with a phrase like one of the following:
"You can cook with me."
"I get to choose what we have for lunch every single day".
"I can drive the car and you can sit up front with me."
"You can come and stay with me. For 15 minutes."
I find it somewhat flattering. I'm assuming that what she is saying is that she wants to be a mom and that I don't have to change who I am (a mom) even when she's bigger. I'll enjoy these days of her wanting me to be her mom and hopefully remember them when she's a teenager and my being her mom is not necessarily something she's enjoying.
The stuffed animals are getting kind of rowdy tonight. I had to go in and tell my 4 yr old at 9 pm that it was 5 minutes until lights out. (She's been in bed since before 8 pm). She said the animals were laughing and bouncing all over the place. Apparently they're the ones being loud tonight and not her, so I had to tell them it was bedtime as well.
I love having an imaginative child. I love that each of her stuffed animals has a name, and we all know them - Ariel, Punch, Jello, Tutu, Goofy, Donald, etc. I love hearing her carry on full conversations with them, with each of them speaking in a different voice. And I love that her little brother can be sound asleep in the bunk bed below her while this is going on (with his one stuffed animal - a dog named "Puppy"). Here's hoping she never stifles that creative side and finds a great outlet for it as she gets older!
We have quiet time at our house every day. Both of my older children were done with naps before they were two years old. So, every day after lunch we have "quiet time". It's not always quiet unless they're watching a video (and sometimes I feel guilty if they just watch a video during quiet time), but it does mean they're supposed to play without mom. In fact, it should probably be more appropriately named "Don't bug mom time".
Frequently, I come out of quiet time and the house is a complete disaster. I say "come out" because quiet time is when I hide myself in my office and try to work. If they come in and I have decided quiet time is not over yet, I make them leave the office. I've even been so stern as to shut the door so they can't come in. Quiet time lasts for however long I decide it should last. It's one of the benefits of my children not yet being able to tell time. The baby goes down for a nap right before quiet time starts, so usually as soon as the baby is awake, quiet time is over.
I've found I've become very selfish about my quiet time. I get annoyed and cranky if I don't get my quiet time. It's almost like a 2 year old who doesn't get his way. I was at the park the other day with a friend and her children, watching the kids play, and I found myself checking my watch to see what time it was. Even though we ate lunch at the park and the kids were having a blast, I started getting anxious for my quiet time to start and nervous that the window of opportunity had passed and I wouldn't get any quiet time for the day. I'm wondering if I'll ever get to the point where I can just go to the park and just enjoy it and spend as much time as my kids want without looking at the time.
I'm a schedule and routine kind of person, so I guess for me it's comforting to know that each day I'll have that alone time when I can spend time away from the kids and not feel like I'm neglecting them. I guess I need to have a little more sympathy when my 2 year old has his schedule changed or when my 4 year old doesn't get to spend time doing something that just she wants to do. Or, and I've seriously considered this, maybe I need to start getting up an hour earlier and having my quiet time before they wake up (although I have a feeling I would probably need to start going to bed earlier for that to happen). When do you have your quiet time?
There's a lot of potty talk that goes on around my house. You know, things like "you're a poo-poo head" or "you have potty hair". I'm pretty sure the word "poop" can be used as an adjective, noun, verb, or adverb. Or a proper noun, for that matter. I was talking with a friend about this the other day, and realized that I am partly to blame for my children's potty-obsessed language. I spend a large part of my day saying things like "Who's the poopy one?" or "Someone's stinky, who is it?" or "Did you just pee on the floor?"
You know how in school you used to keep track, while someone was giving a presentation, of how many times they said "ummm"? I'm thinking I may start tracking how many times the words "poop" or "pee" are mentioned in my house in one day. I think it may be shocking. Now, if you don't mind, I'm off to change another poopy diaper.
Here's a conversation I had with my 4 year old tonight:
"How do you say hello in Spanish?"
"How do you say hello in Tongan?"
"Malo e lelei."
"How do you say it in French?"
"How do you say it in English?"
"How do you say it in Texas?"
"Howdy." (I was unaware they spoke a foreign language in Texas. Now I know.)
I'm always calling my children the wrong names. Luckily they're good at correcting me. Throughout the day I'll hear the following:
"No, I'm Luke Skywalker".
"I'm a princess."
"I'm a ballerina."
"I'm not a pioneer. I'm a cowboy."
"I'm not a good guy. I'm the grabbing monster."
"I'm a baby bamboon". (whatever that is)
"I'm puppy's daddy."
I was wondering what would happen if as an adult I decided to assume different identities throughout the day. Would it make the day more entertaining? Is that why children aren't as stressed? If they don't like what they are, they just change their identity. Hmm...maybe tomorrow I'll decide to be Ariel. Think I can pull it off without my husband thinking I've completely lost it?
My mom used to tell stories about taking all 6 kids to church when my dad was in the bishopric. She used to say sometimes she never even made it into the chapel. I had in my mind that she was exaggerating or embellishing the story, as we're so good at doing in my family. That is, until it happened to me this past Sunday. Apparently she wasn't exaggerating.
I walked into the lobby, and my 2 year old started screaming (not just crying). I thought the tantrum had completed after we got out of the car. I immediately walked to the back steps outside again, and sat with him for a while. My 4 year old really wanted to go to church, so I just sent her ahead into the chapel by herself, thinking maybe we could join her in a few minutes. I guess she went right up to the first row and sat down by herself until her Dad came down and brought her up to the stand to sit with him. The 2 year old finally stopped screaming and we were able to sit in a chair in the lobby, but he was on the edge of breaking down again when I would try to get up and go into the chapel. So, I sat in the armchair for all of church with a 2 year old and a 1 year old on my lap. I never made it into the chapel. Just one of those times when you're not upset; you are more amazed at what is happening and thinking "I never thought this would happen to me." Thanks for enduring, Mom!
I've gained an even greater appreciation this week for mom's of big families. I grew up in a family of 6 kids, but that doesn't mean I really appreciate what that meant for my mom. My sister and her 7 kids just came and stayed with my family for a couple of days. That means there were 10 kids in my house, with 5 of them under the age of 5. That's just a lot of kids.
I love my sister and I've always admired what a good job she does as a mom. I've even spent a lot of time at their house. Until now, though, I don't think I ever fully appreciated what it means to take care of 7 kids every day. The food, the noise, the drama, the food, the coordination. I take for granted the fact that with 3 little kids I can decide 5 minutes before lunchtime what we're going to eat for lunch that day. There's a lot more planning involved (and money) when you have to feed more than twice that many. I have a hard time keeping track sometimes of 3 pairs of shoes, much less 7 pairs. Granted, when you have that many kids, there are older ones who can be a great help to the younger kids: changing diapers, feeding, dressing, etc. I admire my older nieces for helping out their mom.
This is just a big shout out to my mom, my mother-in-law, my sister, my cousins, and all my friends out there that somehow manage to care for big families. You have my utmost respect!
I eat much healthier now that I have kids than I ever did when I was single. I think I got kind of freaked out when my first child starting eating real food, feeling pressure that somehow whatever she ate in her 2nd year of life was going to determine how healthy she was when she was 80 years old. When I was single, I ate one thing for a meal, e.g. just mac & cheese (or a Michelina frozen meal). Fruits and vegetables always went bad before I ate them (except for bananas). When I started feeding my child, I made a goal to have some kind of fruit or vegetable at every meal, even if it was just a cup of orange juice. Luckily, I was blessed with a first child who really was just born craving healthy foods. It's never been uncommon for her to turn down junk food.
Because I try to feed my kids healthier, it means I eat healthier now as well. I've been trying lately to eat salads for lunches. I'll make something for my kids to eat, and then make a salad with green leaf lettuce, mushrooms, tomatoes, and maybe ham or kidney beans with ranch dressing for myself to eat. Apparently my kids have noticed this, because the other day my 4 year old and 2 year old both said, "I want some salad, too." So, of course, I obliged and gave each of them a little salad to eat. They didn't eat it all, but I wanted to shout "Hooray"! It's not always that as a parent you get to "reap" the rewards of trying to teach something to your children. They may not always ask for salad or want to eat healthy, but I'll take the little steps towards making healthy food choices anytime!
(Now I'll need to make sure they don't see me sneaking a brownie after I eat that salad).
We took our kids to their first rodeo last night. My husband and I were both really looking forward to it. It's been 7 or 8 years since I've been to one, and my husband hasn't been to one since he was probably 11 or 12. There was a free family fun night beforehand where the kids could do little games and we could eat our picnic dinner. The kids had a fun time doing several of the little games and winning "prizes" like a helium balloon or new crayons. By the time the rodeo started it was 6 pm. Normal bedtime for our kids is 7 pm.
We sat on the first row, because we didn't know how long they would last. but that meant that anytime someone walked in front of us (which was frequently), we couldn't see what was happening. The 1 year old couldn't stop squirming and wanted to run around, but there's not much space on bleachers to safely do such a thing. The two year old wanted to sit on a lap and let his helium balloon on it's long string fly in the faces of the people in the rows behind us. After about a half hour our 4 year old was asking if she could take a nap. We finally left after about an hour and almost physically restraining our 4 year old to make her stay and watch.
This was one of those moments where you're reminded, once again, as a parent that it's all about the kids, not about you. If we really wanted to go and just enjoy the rodeo, we should have left the kids home. If we were going because we wanted our kids to enjoy it and have fun, we probably should have left about 20-30 minutes earlier. We ended up going back to the family fun party where the 2 year old and 4 year old each got a balloon from the clowns - shaped like a cat and a sword. I think that was the most memorable part of the night for them. It was another good reminder of how hard it sometimes is as a parent to be unselfish and do what your child wants to do, rather than what you want to do.
My children reached a new level of independence recently. My 4 yr old got a car seat that uses the regular seatbelt, so she can buckle herself in (most of the time). My 2 yr old caught on and can now buckle the chest buckle by himself. Every time they get in the car, each of them will ask "Did you hear my buckle click?" In fact, my 4 year old will sometimes even take the car keys before I get out of the house, unlock the car, open the door, and they'll both climb into their seats and buckle themselves. Wow.
I'm not sure I'm ready for this. It's great to think they can do things by themselves, but it's also nice to know that I can make sure they're safely buckled in. As my husband said, "Next thing you know, she'll be taking the car along with the car keys". There's something to be said about having some control over your children while they're little.
I had the following conversation with my 2 year old the other day.
"Mom, there's something in my pants."
"Is it poop?"
"Is it pee?"
"What is it?"
"I like to carry it around with me."
He then lifted his shirt to show me his Thomas the Tank Engine magnets tucked into the waistband of his pants and diaper. Apparently I need to make sure he wears pants that have pockets.
You gotta love toddlers and their creativity!
I am so not one of those moms at the parks. You know who they are. You've seen them. Or maybe you are one of them. The ones that come with their hair perfectly styled, makeup on, and wearing cute trendy clothes. They're pushing an expensive stroller with one child. Their one child is dressed in a cute new matching outfit, complete with cute new shoes (and cute hair accessories for the girls). They look like they are reading for the photo shoot to appear in the next month's issue of Baby or Parenting magazine.
Sometimes I tell myself it's just because they only have one kid so they have time and money to spend on preparing for an outing to the park. Then I remember that even when I only had one kid I was never one of those moms. Then I remember I was never one of those young adults or teenagers either. Then I remember how thankful I am that my mom wasn't one of those moms, and that when I was growing up I never felt that pressure from my family to look "perfect". There are so many things that compete for my time. I guess fashion and cosmetics are losing that competition. And I'm fine with that.
Why is it that my 1 year old, when given Cheerios on her high chair tray, immediately proceeds to throw them on the floor one by one. If I try to hand her one to eat, she refuses it. However, if I'm trying to sweep the floor, and have a large pile of dirt that includes a Cheerio in the stack, she immediately tries to grab it and put it in her mouth. I find myself having to cover the stack of dirt/Cheerios with the broom until I can grab the dustpan and sweep it up. Otherwise, the human Cheerio vacuum will lunge for it and eat it, no matter how old or disgusting it is.