I have two children who seem to mix and play together as well as oil and water. It seems weird in some ways, because they are the most like their Dad and I. My five year old son is more like his Dad than any of the other kids. My three year old daughter is "Banks" through and through. Their Dad and I seem to get along fairly well. :) Yet, somehow, these two must have the personalities and traits from each of us that are completely opposite. My husband and I have always said that if we had met when we were younger, it probably never would have worked out between us. So, maybe in the future, as they grow up, they'll end up getting along fabulously. I just have 20 years or so to wait for that to happen and keep them from killing each other.
Grrrrr. This is/was a library book. Not a puzzle, despite the many pieces. I can understand my 20 month old doing something like this. But my 3-1/2 year old? Not one of those things you can blame on an accident or not understanding. In fact, I'd even understand it a little better if she'd been in one of those moods where you know you better hide the breakables because she's going to hurt someone or something. But she had just been playing nicely 15 minutes earlier. Why oh why!! Am I too harsh on her for making her take the $4 out of her bank to help pay the library for this (which will cost me much more than that) and not letting her get library books this week? I assure you I thought of many more harsher punishments. Grrrrr.
I love going to the library with my children. We go every week. I love that they can choose their own books and find out what they like and don't like. I love that the older ones now know how to ask the librarian to help them find certain books or put books on hold that are checked out. I love that it teaches them a love of books. I hate gathering the books at the end of the week to take back.
Each child gets to choose 5 books each week. They have their own library bag to carry the books to and from the library. They really like checking out their own books on the computer. Each child checks out separately and gets a printed receipt at the end of checking out that shows what books they have. This allows them to easily track what books they need to return at the end of the week. If only it were so easy.
I've found there is a fine line between letting my children take personal responsibility for gathering and returning their library books, and having them drive me crazy because a book is missing. It would be so much easier to just gather all of their books for them and put them in the proper bag. We even keep most of the books together on one bookshelf, but invariably a book will have been taken somewhere else in the house, or hidden under someones covers, or fallen under the bed. Four children at 5 books each = 20 books = a lot of books to find at the end of the week. The books are really checked out for 3 weeks, but I know that if we don't find the book the first week, it's not going to get any easier to find it the next 2 weeks.
Isn't it so much easier to just do things for our kids sometimes rather than let them take personal responsibility for it? I'm pretty sure I could gather all the books in under 10 minutes. Instead, sometimes it seems to take us close to an hour to get out the door to the library with all of the books found. This is one of those things as a parent where I just have to repeat to myself: "I'm teaching them responsibility. It's worth it. I'm teaching them responsibility..."
Having a child in school all day changes family dynamics quite a bit. Our oldest is quite imaginative and is constantly thinking up new "games" for she and her younger siblings to play. She'll take charge, make up the rules, and lead the way. "We're playing castle, and I'm the princess, you're the knight, and you're the baby. We have to run away from the dragon who's trying to eat us." It's great to see her take charge, but she is now gone during the day. This leaves little brother in charge.
My 4 year old son, is a good follower. Being the oldest at home during the school day, though, there's not someone else to take charge of playing. It's great to see him becoming the one who makes up the game for his younger sister to play. Of course, having a 4 year old boy in charge leads to playing different things than when a 6 year old girl is in charge. There's a lot more building of castles going on than before rather than just chasing. But it's still fun to see him take charge.
With this change in "leadership" roles, there can be some conflicts when the oldest is not at school. Number 2 is used to being in charge, and when number 1 is home, at times there is some disagreement about what to do. For the most part, however, they fall back into their original roles with the oldest being in charge.
I'm not sure these family dynamics change, even 40 years down the road. When my siblings and I all get together (which is not that frequently), I see us as still falling into some of the same roles as when we were little kids. I think maybe we're better, maybe, about allowing for change, but in some ways, my oldest sister will still be in charge of what we're "playing" and the "baby" will always be the baby.
My kids normally aren't picky eaters. In fact, sometimes I worry that if they eat this much as toddlers, what in the world is my grocery bill going to be like when they're teenagers. Recently, though, several of them (the 4 year old in particular) have been going through a stage of "I hate that". As in, "I hate this food. I'm never going to eat it. If you make me eat it, I'm never going to do what you want again."
I'm not going to cater to them and make them a separate meal. In fact, frequently, when they say they hate a dish, it's one I've never made before but full of things they like, or something I know they've eaten before and liked. I'm pretty confident in my ability to cook well, but it can be a little discouraging when every time you make a meal for your family, the first thing you hear is "Gross. I hate this. I'm not going to eat it." I've told my 4 year old that if he continues to do that, he's going to be in charge of making dinner for the family all by himself. I guess this is one of those areas where you just have to be consistent and continue to not give in and be bullied by your child into giving them what they want, but man, coming at the end of the day, it's not enjoyable.
I had no idea I had body issues until I was pregnant with my first child. I've never been one to be really obsessed with my weight. To me, it's always been more about just being healthy and taking care of myself. My weight would fluctuate 5 pounds one way or the other, but it was no big deal. As long as I was trying to eat healthy and I was exercising, I wasn't too worried about it.
Enter pregnancy. When you see pictures of pregnant women, it's always women who have these cute little round bellies. In fact, usually there's not any body fat on these women. Why else would they be willing to uncover their bare bellies and show them to the world? Oh, and they usually look like they are about 7 months pregnant.
Being 8 weeks pregnant doesn't look so cute. I remember seeing the weight on my bathroom scale gradually increase and getting a little nervous. That 5 pounds wasn't fluctuating. It was just steadily increasing. And I didn't have a cute little belly. I just felt fat. I had to keep telling myself "You're not fat, you're pregnant". This mantra only helps so much when you stop fitting into pants that zip and button. Pregnancy clothes are made for cute bellies. They aren't made for those first few months when you feel sick and fat and try on 4 different outfits before you find something that fits and looks halfway decent and is comfortable.
This eventually passed so I could fit into pregnancy clothes and see a real belly, not just an expanding waistline. But seeing the pounds add on every week for 9 months can still be a little disconcerting. Having a new body can be a little strange. Inching closer to your husband's weight can feel a little depressing. Was I alone in feeling this way about the weight gain?
My almost 5 year old son is completely potty-trained except at night. He's such a sound sleeper that he'll wake up in the morning with a completely soaked bed that he has slept on that way for half the night. My husband and I have started waking him up about 10:30pm and having him use the toilet then having him go back to sleep. I say "my husband and I", but really my husband does it. And when I say "waking him up", really it means carrying him to the dark bathroom, helping him do his business, and carrying him right back to his bed. I'm pretty sure he's not really awake, especially because usually he has no idea the next morning that he did this.
Last night I took a turn taking my son to the bathroom. I carried him into the dark bathroom, stood him next to the toilet, and helped him get his pants down. But apparently peeing in your sleep does not equate to aiming in your sleep. Needless to say, there was some cleanup required after I had carried him back to his bed. Perhaps I should continue to leave this job up to his dad.
I have a glamour girl and I'm not quite sure how I'm going to deal with it. My little 3 year old is a beauty queen. She has play lipstick, perfume and nail polish. I used to own some lipstick. She has a princess curling iron and flat iron. I own a brush. She likes to wear "play dresses". I wore shorts under my dresses when my mom made me wear them to school so I could still climb on the monkey bars. I think I may need to turn her over to her aunts/friends when she turns 14 because there's no way she's going to learn about hair and makeup from her mom. Any takers?
I love watching my boys sleep. I don't know what it is, and I don't know why it's different than watching my girls sleep. Maybe it's just the fact that my girls are in a bunk bed and curled up under big blankets, so I can't see them well. But I love checking in on my boys at lights out or before I go to sleep. It's complete peace and silence and sweetness. It makes me happy.
Thoughts going through my head the day before my oldest child starts 1st grade:
1 - Kindergarten was just a prelude. The real stuff starts in 1st grade. We made it through kindergarten just fine. Hopefully 1st grade goes just as well.
2 - I think I'm more nervous than my daughter is for school to start. I remember how mean kids can be in school and the drama of friends. I'm hoping my daughter doesn't have to deal with that yet.
3 - I'm going to miss my daughter when she's gone at school all day long. Some parents get excited for their kids to be back in school. I am not. This may have a lot to do with the fact that the other 3 kids are still at home. I feel bad that we get to go and do things every day while she is not with us.
4 - I'm really not looking forward to homework. And when in the world are we going to do it? She won't get home until 2:30, and I want her to still have time to have a snack, play, practice piano, and have some quiet/alone time.
5 - Schedules schedules schedules. I like having a routine, but not a set schedule, if that makes sense. I like having the flexibility to change when we do things. School doesn't really allow for that.
Thoughts going through my head after the first week of school:
1 - I keep thinking it's time to pick her up before lunch. (Kindergarten got out at 10:45am).
2 - My 4 year old had the meltdown the first couple of days, not my 1st grader. He was so sad to not have his older sister to play with. When she came home, she wanted a snack and a little down time, and he had been waiting all day to play with her and wanted her to start playing immediately.
3 - My 1st grader finally had her meltdown on Friday night. It consisted of sobbing on the bedding crying "I never want to go back to 1st grade. I never get to play with [my brother and sister]. I never get to watch movies." It was just tiredness, and by Sunday night she was telling people she loved 1st grade and was excited.
4 - I guess I'm really a control freak. It's hard to know she's gone all day and not know exactly what she is doing at school. Better get used to it.
So, here we go. School has begun. Let the fun begin.
I spent the first 6 weeks of my first child's life starving her. Really. She was born weighing 5 lbs 6 oz and within the first two weeks she had dropped to 4 lbs 12 oz. This was despite the fact that I was feeding her every hour. Literally. We're talking feeding her from 8am-8:15am, then 9am-9:15am, etc. It was an absolutely horrible experience. I'm almost 7 years away from that experience, and I still have a difficult time thinking about it.
My plan when my baby was born was to breastfeed exclusively. Every book and article I had read talked about the amazing benefits and I couldn't think of any reason why I wouldn't or couldn't. I tried. Probably about as much as I possibly could. As I mentioned earlier, I fed my baby every hour, and yet still she wasn't gaining weight and was in fact losing some weight. I went to a lactation specialist to make sure she could latch on. I tried different ways of holding the baby. I tried pumping before feeding her to get the milk going. I tried herbal tea. I tried taking fenugreek. And I prayed and cried a lot. A lot. I'm pretty sure my husband has blocked those 6 weeks out of his memory as well. It's amazing we ever had more kids after this experience.
Everything I had ever read seemed to say that everyone can breastfeed, it's just a matter of putting in the effort. Believe me, I put in the effort. I'm not sure I can adequately describe the feelings of guilt and inadequacy. "I'm just trying to do what's best for my baby. Why is it not working?" "My sister doesn't have a problem breastfeeding, why is it so difficult for me?" "This is supposed to be a beautiful experience having a newborn and bonding. Why does it feel like hell?"
I think my 3 sisters and mom saved my sanity. I don't know if they had some kind of schedule setup, but they would each call me and check up on me and see how I was doing, listen to me cry, and give me encouragement and advice.
Finally, after 6 weeks, my doctor told me "Look, I don't care what the lactation specialists are saying, this baby needs some more nourishment. You need to supplement with some formula." I felt like a failure. But I also felt completely and utterly exhausted. I "gave in" and bought some formula and started feeding it to my baby after nursing each time. Within 2 weeks she had gained about 2 pounds. She was a different child. She was sleeping better. She was not crying all the time. I was sleeping better. I was not crying all the time. I realized that my pride and reliance on book knowledge had caused way too much suffering for 6 weeks. We eventually settled into a routine of me nursing her, followed by pumping with a rented electric pump. I did this until she was almost 9 months old.
Not everyone can breastfeed. Regardless of what the "experts" may say. Regardless of whether even your other family members are able to do it. It is a great thing for your child, and I applaud people that can do it. My body does not produce enough milk. I've never known what it means to be engorged. I barely even change bra sizes when I'm pregnant and have a baby. My mom and 2 other sisters have had this same problem. It wasn't for lack of trying.
I no longer feel any guilt over not breastfeeding my other children. I tried for 2 weeks with my second child, but had to supplement the whole time as he was another small baby (5 lbs 6 oz) and had to spend 2 days in the NICU as they tried to get him to keep food down. I think he latched on once. I decided that it was better for my sanity and mental health to just use a bottle. I knew I would have to pump also, and nursing then pumping while also trying to take care of my 22 month old toddler and a new baby was just an overwhelming thought. My husband was willing to support me with whatever I thought best, but I think he sighed a giant sigh of relief when I decided to use a bottle.
Breastfeeding can be a sensitive topic for a lot of people. There is a lot of pressure and a lot of guilt and pain associated with it. I think it's important for new moms to understand that and to talk about how it's going with someone. Don't be afraid to say it's difficult and to ask for help. And don't be afraid to use a bottle. My children are fairly well adjusted, healthy and intelligent. Most importantly, though, I love my children and family and have done what is best for them and for me. Isn't it great that we can all be different and have different experiences as we raise our families?
I have a problem with New Year's Resolutions. When I sit down to make them, I usually end up with just a giant "To do" list full of things that I wish I had time to do. Most of them don't get done during the year, and it's a little depressing to look at the list the next year and see so many things not done.
This year I decided to do something a little different. I have one theme for the year rather than lots of little goals. My theme for the year is "Be prompt". I've found so many different ways to apply this in my life. Be prompt at: answering emails and phone calls, sending thank you notes, going to bed, getting to appointments/places on time, etc.
One of the main applications of this, though, has been with regards to my children. Be prompt in responding to the needs of my children. Quiet time (my work time) will be almost over and the baby will start to cry waking up from his nap. I'll think to myself "He'll be okay for another 5 minutes while I finish this up", which frequently turns into 10 minutes. I'll have to remind myself "Be prompt. Stop being selfish and go get him out of his crib". Or, I'll be eating breakfast and trying to read the newspaper when my children all start asking for another bowl of cereal. Once again I'll have to remind myself to "Be prompt" and put the paper down for 1 minute while I refill their bowls.
I think of the scripture in Alma 9:26 that describes God as being "quick to hear the cries of his people and to answer their prayers". If I'm striving to be as God is, than I should try to do as he would do. This includes being quick to hear the cries of my children. I've got 7 months down on working on this goal, and a whole lot of work still left. In fact, my children should be waking up soon and I need to "be prompt" in starting the day and getting ready now.
I've recently discovered one of my flaws as a Mom. I actually discover these all the time. This one I discovered by listening to my children talking and hearing echoes of what I say.
I hear my children say things like this: "If you don't give me that toy, I'm never going to play with you ever again!" Or "If you don't play with me right now, I'll never ever let you play with my toys again." It drives me crazy. I don't like my children manipulating each other into having to play a certain game or do something.
Then I heard myself the other day. "If you guys are going to be obnoxious and disobedient at the grocery store like this, I'm never going to take you grocery shopping with me again."
Ouch. It's one thing to hear your children repeat the way you say things that are funny. It's another to hear them say something that you know you shouldn't be saying. So, I'm trying to watch my words more carefully and find better ways to get my children to do/not do things. I'm trying to be more positive/motivating in getting them to do/not do things. I know manipulation like this is wrong. Let's hope I can change my ways and be a better example for my kids.
I have a 3 year old who is the cutest, sweetest thing ever. Except when she's not. When I try to explain to people that she has a temper and can be a screamer, sometimes they just give me a blank look as if to say "I can't imagine her being like that". Well, the other day I took a video of her screaming. I know it probably wasn't the kindest mom moment, but she wasn't hurt, she was just throwing a fit. I find it entertaining to watch. Please don't call child protective services on me. :)
I love hearing my children pray. I know that eventually they need to learn to have such a personal relationship with God that they can pray silently. Right now, though, I enjoy having the opportunity to hear what they have to say as they pray.
My 3 year old is one of my favorites to listen to as she says her prayers each night. She is so specific. "Please bless this owie right here that it will get better, and this one," she'll say as she points to various places on her leg. I could learn a thing or two from her. I need to be so specific as I pray to God. I'm pretty sure he wants to bless us specifically, not just generally, and kids get that. Listening to their prayers reminds me that I have a lot to learn and improve.
I love the fact that my kids are growing up knowing most of their cousins and being able to play with them. Granted, the closest cousins on my side of the family live 2 hours away, so it's not like they get to see them on even a monthly basis. Still, though, every couple of months, they get to see some of their cousins and hang out and play with them.
Extended family is pretty important in my family. In fact, I'm pretty sure my family extends more than most families. My husband (who has 3 cousins he rarely sees) was always amazed that I knew my second cousins (children of my parents' cousins). Even though we lived on the East coast while many of them lived out west, we still had family reunions on a regular basis (every couple of years) and got to see and play with them.
I'm so glad that for most of their cousins, my children don't have to wait several years to see them. There's something to be said about knowing your relatives and seeing not just family resemblances, but personality resemblances and idiosyncrasies and knowing that you share a common family history.
Hooray for family! Here's to family reunions and cousins.
1 - Play-doh. Maybe it's because some of my children are still pretty young, but this is definitely not a hands-off activity. "Mom, will you press it down for me." "Mom, will you help me make..." "Waaah, it didn't work." Maybe if I bought new play-doh more frequently, it would constantly be soft and my children would not need me to smash it flat for them. It just always seems to be a fairly time-intensive activity.
2 - Sidewalk chalk. Are there many things messier? They can draw some cool pictures, but everyone ends up covered with chalk and needing to change clothes and wash off. The baby especially enjoys talk. It seems to taste good, and crawling through it seems to be extra enjoyable.
3 - Bubbles. Everyone enjoys bubbles, but I'm pretty sure it's impossible to do bubbles without one or more of my children spilling theirs and being in tears because it's all gone.
I understand that really it's just my laziness that causes me to hate some toys. But really, if I'm going to spend time doing an activity with my children, I confess that I'd rather have it be something I enjoy also. What toys do you have a love/hate relationship with?
My oldest daughter has always had an amazing imagination. She can entertain herself for hours playing with her stuffed animals and making up games. At bedtime, especially, she will setup a pile of 10 or so of her stuffed animals on her bed and play camping with them, or school, or church, singing time, or any number of games. In fact, sometimes, she would kick her stuffed cat, Ariel, out of the room and ask us to put Ariel in the hallway because she was being too loud and not allowing her to go to sleep.
Enter the ability to read. I think it's great that my daughter is learning to read. It's opening up a whole new world of entertaining herself and not having to wait for mom and dad to read books to her. My husband and I had a conversation the other night that we noticed that she was much quieter in bed before lights out and that we couldn't hear her playing with her animals. The next morning, the following conversation occurred:
Daughter to her 4 year old brother: "I never play with my stuffed animals anymore."
Mom: "Why not?"
"I like to read books in my bed instead."
"You can do both things."
"I can't remember the games I used to play with my animals."
"You can always make up new games to play with them."
"But they like to play the old games and I can't remember how to play them."
Ok, so I didn't really yell that out loud, but I wanted to. I wanted to say "You can't grow up yet! You're only 6! Yes, reading is great, but you need to be a little girl and play with your stuffed animals forever." It made me sad. She really is growing up too fast, and I don't like it. I'm not ready for it. And Ariel and her other animals are getting lonely. I may have to start playing with her stuffed animals on her behalf.
As I finished up another tax season of working much more than I really like to, I was thinking about some personal finance principles that I teach. Here are some of them applied to child rearing.
1 - Start the saving habits now. Don't wait until you have a lot of money.
It would be so easy to get a lot of work done if I ignored my children. It would be so easy to say "I'll play games with them when I'm not so busy" or "I'll start taking them on walks once tax season is over". It's not true. Life doesn't really get less busy. We always seem to find things to occupy our time. If I don't get in the habit of making my children a priority and finding time to play with them even when I'm busy, it's not going to happen. Ever.
2 - It's never too early to start.
Just like the principle of compound interest, it's never too early to invest in teaching your children. If you start when they're young, it's so much easier than trying to teach them something when they're 13 and don't really want to listen to Mom and Dad. Not that 3 year olds want to listen that much more, but at least you have a few more opportunities.
3 - Even a little bit makes a difference.
Sometimes, even just the little things we do with our children make a difference. Five minutes spent coloring with my child, or 30 minutes on a "date" with a child may seem like a little thing, but sometimes it ends up being something a child remembers and brings up over and over again.
A good reminder to myself that a true principle is a true principle regardless of what subject it is applied to.
No mother is perfect. Not you. Not the neighbor who seems to have it all pulled together. Not the grandmother who seems to have raised 10 perfectly sane children. Not the author of the book who has all the answers as to how to raise perfect children. But, through the grace of God, I can be made perfect. Not immediately. Not easily. But I can try. And repent. And try again. And plead with God for his help. And eventually get there.
"But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you." (1 Peter 5:10)
At this Easter time, I thank God for his grace and for the atonement of Jesus Christ which helps to strengthen, stablish and settle me as a mother and as a child of God.
My children are fascinated by this sign on the wall outside the library elevator.
Not being able to read themselves, they always ask me to read the sign for them. Their next question: "If there's a fire on the stairs, why do you want to use the stairs instead of the elevator?"
I hate chore charts. I don't necessarily hate doing chores, but for some reason I don't like little charts that track whether or not chores have been done. I have chore charts for my kids. It's a little grid I print off the computer that has about 5 chores and a square to put a sticker on for each day of the week. It doesn't work. My kids will beg me: "Print our chore charts out!" and I'll try again. Mondays usually are full of stickers of the chart. Tuesday has about half that. It starts to disappear after Wednesday. We'll do this for a week or two before I just get tired of nagging my children to do their chores, and they don't really care whether they get a sticker or not. So the charts will disappear for a week or two at a time. It doesn't affect whether or not they're supposed to do their chores, but I stop tracking it. I guess it's laziness on my part, but if they don't care, I don't care either. I guess I need to find a better system for making sure they do their chores. Any suggestions?
Conversation at my house this morning:
4yo "You know that yellow stuff that you get in your mouth? That's kind of yucky?"
Me "You mean throwup?"
4yo "Yeah. I had that on my bed last night."
Me "You threwup last night?"
4yo "Yeah. It's on my blanket. And my bed."
Me "You need to come get me when you throw up."
2 minutes later...
4yo to 6yo and 2yo "Hey, you guys, do you want to come see?"
2yo "Wait for me!"
I should be grateful they don't throw up very often, so it's a novelty. If they're that excited about it, though, I'm thinking I might have them clean it up. That might make it lose some of the novelty. Certainly works for me.
I've decided that being a working mom, I'm always working overtime. You know those feelings you have when you're working overtime. Those feelings of "I'm just too tired to be working right now, but I know I have to get it done." Or the feelings of "Everyone else is asleep or doing something fun. Why am I still working?" I remember working full-time (plus) during tax season, going home for dinner, and then coming back to work to settle in for the night. I'd come back feeling resigned to work, but also having a complete focus on working as efficiently as possible so that I didn't have to stay too late before coming back the next morning.
That's kind of the way it is every time I work now. I may only work a few hours a week, but when the kids go to bed and I start working, I have to get in that mode and work as efficiently as possible regardless of how exhausted I may be. This holds true during my little hour of quiet time during the day when I try to return phone calls and emails and start on projects that aren't too big. Not fun.
Luckily, some of my children are getting old enough to somewhat understand what is going on. My 6 year old came into the kitchen where my computer is, after quiet time, put her arm around me, and said "I know you have to work a lot Mom, because it's tax season". If only I'd had understanding like that when I was working full-time and overtime!
I love being an aunt! Don't get me wrong. I really love being a mom, too. But, I've been an aunt a lot longer than I've been a mom. I love that before I got married, when I was "the single one" in the family, I got to travel all over the country and spend time with my nieces & nephews (and their parents). I love being called Aunt Christie almost as much as I love being called Mom. I always heard that to be successful, a child needs the influence of an adult in their life outside of their parents. I figure that's what aunts and uncles are for. I take almost as much pride in the accomplishments of my nieces and nephews as I do my own children. Hooray for being an aunt!