This kid cracks me up. He is my joy on the days when life wants to drag me through the mud with no hope of a shower. Owen has a million funny faces. His newest one is not the one below, but one that only comes out when you tell him no. Like when he tries to push buttons on the TV, is drawn to the light on the surge protector plugs under the office desk and those sneaky little trips up the stairs. (Today he actually came back down after I told him no...he was only on the first one, but my hopes for a good listener are growing.) He scrunches his nose and furrows his brow just long enough to evoke sympathy for his forlorned state.
Owen is still a good eater, although our transition to chunkier foods is taking a bit longer than I remember with the other kiddos. I remember buying about three jars of those 3rd foods for Josh before he went right into bits and pieces of what we were eating. Ellie was a picky eater, didn't eat too much, but still didn't have a problem moving through the stages. Owen gags. He notices a larger piece (read: one corner of those melt-in-your-mouth kids' snacks), makes a face and starts to gag. We've had some progress on this milestone this week (even a few pieces of spaghetti from last night's dinner!), so I've decided not to worry. I've noticed how with Owen I'm waffling between savoring every stage of our last baby and eagerly anticipating the next stages that I loved with the others.
Owen babbles and keeps up very well with his noisy family. I think he's already figured out that the loudest one wins. He likes to climb up on bottom rung of our kitchen chairs and finds loads of entertainment under the table, too. He is still very stable and careful about how he gets around, but can push his way into his sibs games with bullish motivation. He's also perfected a kind of fake laugh that cracks us all up, and I think he knows it. He is looking less like a baby every day.
He's had rough winter with several small colds and a bout of "the pink eye." But he still continues to sleep well and bounce back with amazing resilience. His first birthday seems like it will be here before I know it! Well, until then, I look forward to warmer weather, a chance to introduce him to the warm grass under his toes and more silly faces.
When Josh was around 6 months I was frustrated that he wasn't crawling. I know, first mom thing. He would stand, cruise and just about walk his way around the house, but not crawl. I got hopped up on rumors of reading issues later in life if a child didn't crawl before they walked and so I called in reinforcements. My sister-in-law is an OT and was kind enough to humor me. In one sunny afternoon on Labor Day, she had this little honey crawling down her hallway. Apparently, Josh just needed motivation (read:shiny object) and a little muscle memory practice.
I was overjoyed.
Then we came home and he was crawling more. The old adage "be careful what you wish for" could have been tatooed to my forearm after that. The child was everywhere. But mostly at my pant leg. He also had the most interesting way of crawling. It was a combo of walking and crawling. With a knee to the ground and the other foot propelling him forward, he got wherever he needed to go. We still found it cute, and yet I was thankful that by Thanksgiving he was walking and choose that as his preferred mode of transport.
A strange thing happened. Ellie crawled the same way. But of course, she put her own spin on it. Her crawl was more of a wounded animal making its way across a field. One knee moving while the other leg was more or less dragged behind her like an unwanted accessory.
I got worried. Maybe, in some freak way our genes were predisposed to "oddball crawling." (that's the official term...look that one up on wika.pedia.) We checked with our parents. No "oddball crawling" in our own past, at least that they could remember.
Then we had Owen. I began to wonder. What if he??? Well...he's fine. He crawls just as normal as can be. And he did it pretty much on his own. No motivational toys were needed. Just a big brother and sister who seemed to be having so much fun over there.
And then today....
I'm going with the theory he's just ready to move on to walking. Yeah...I'm sure that's it.
Well, my dark green Wicked Witch face from yesterday is fading to more of a pale sage today. Today the deal is that if she is a "big girl" all morning, she can pick one toy or book to bring back to her room. I still worry about our new plan because this child is one of the most imaginative kiddos I know. She can entertain herself for hours with a dryer sheet and a pen cap.
Anyway, still hoping this will be at least part of the motivation that gets us to the land of only one child in diapers. (I hear it's cheaper to live there).
Plus, the Hubs is not so sure about how long he can last with a princess tent in our bedroom.
**updated to add** She was so excited to have one book for naptime today. Only bummer...a thump from upstairs drew my attention to her and I caught her exchanging the one book for another one book. She's no dummy, eh?
I did it. I emptied out her room. I've come to my end. Out they all went. Toys, books, the princess tent. Everything.
We've been working on being a "big girl" for a long time now. It's time to get serious. The will the Lord has given this girl is only matched by that of her mother. Just ask the Hubs.
So. After a morning in un.dies, successful independent trips to the bathroom, she wanted "baby diapers." I figured she needed to poo.p. (hey, I'm motivated, but not that crazy...that's a whole 'nother ballgame, friends). Allowance was made. Naptime came and I reminded her she needed to go before she took her nap.
"Nope, Mom, I already went in my baby diaper."
Grrrrr. Deep breaths. A calming walk around the circle.
"Ok, if you are not going to be big girl, you do not get to have big girl things in your room." A few whines. "You need to help me put all of your toys out of your room." A few more whines. And then... Humming and singing. "Clean up, clean up, everybody do a share...." "Don't forget this one mommy!" "This be awesome." "Bye-bye, tent!"
WHAAAT? Is this grand plan forged from months of frustration going to unravel right in front of me? Has she decided to see if I'm bluffing? Does she think if she's good she'll get to keep some things?
I asked her to look around her room. It really looked very empty. Even to me.
And then the tears came.
I can't say that seeing my children in tears ever brings me joy, but it does give a hint to the affect of what is happening around them.
We sat on her bed. I cuddled her. I looked down at her beautiful blue eyes, looking at me through watery tears.
I spoke to her firmly, but kind.
"The toys and books can come back, but only when you start showing what a big girl you are. I know you can do it. I love you."
Well, not sure if this is the best tactic (not asking for advice, friends), only time will tell.
Ps. To show that I haven't totally lost my heart...I did allow her to have "Blankie," her blanket that she usually sleeps with, plays with and, on occasion, puts in timeout. Blankie was not in her room and I told Ellie I would go look for her. (Oh yes, Blankie is definitely a "her"). Back to her room, I handed her her 'comfort a la cotton', gave her a smile and left. *sigh*
Recently I visited my old grade school as an option for our kids' future education. It was such a blast from the past. I met old classmates who's kids currently attend there, and even "old" teachers that had led me through those formative grade school years.
One in particular was my 6th grade teacher, Mr. B. I'd have to say he was one of the most influential teachers/people in my life. He may not even know it. He was an amazing educator with a knack for getting us super-engaged into whatever he was teaching. The man was so good at his job, we were motivated to do whatever task he gave us, all for the hopes of gaining a "Muffler sticker." Which is exactly what it sounds like. A sticker. With a muffler on it. Again, either he was really good, or we were just starved for stickers with car parts.
The words he said to me were ones I always took to heart. He was the first teacher/person to stand back, and say with his gentle smile, "YOU can do anything you set your mind to." I told him then that I wanted to be a teacher. He smiled even bigger. Mr. B leaned in and said, "I was hoping so, because you will be great." That was it. My fate was sealed. I had the encouragement I needed to pursue the only job I have ever wanted.
I still love teaching. And not just kids at school. I've enjoyed all the places in my life where God has allowed me to teach others...teaching grad school classes, Sunday school classes, GEMS, and children's messages during church.
Funny thing is...I've still got a lot to learn. I can see that everyday as the Lord challenges me to lean on Him, call on Him, and point Him out to my children.
PS. I am actually working on something, too. One of the other things Mr. B told me I could be was a great writer. It's something I've always wanted to do, and after seeing him recently, and an odd dream I had...a story has been born. So, I'm working on it. Hoping to share it with you soon...
I was changing Ellie she yelled out, "Look, MOM! A new ickle!" (mommy brain working...ickle=???)
"See mom, a frickle!"
At this point I have to stop her. If it wasn't so darn painful to see her try to come up with the right word, I would have let it go some more. But kindness won and I asked her if she meant, "freckle?"
"Let's match ours mom!" This a fun thing we do every now and then. Match our freckles. Both her and Josh have a freckle in the same place that I do. Josh and share one on our hands, Ellie's and mine are on our forearm. It's an odd thing, and I feel little weird sharing it, but I'm not sure when I'm older I'll have forgotten about the days when we had time to sit, talk, cuddle and in a moment of amazing observation, realize that we have matching freckles.
I have neglected you as of late. Life has taken me by the pant leg and dragged me kicking and screaming into just about every imaginable distraction.
Owen got sick. High fever, then pink eye, then rash from fever.
The Hubs' truck got sick. New transmission needed. Small fortune spent.
We've been struggling with decisions about school for Josh and the kids. Private/Christian v. Public. Each comes with it's own positives and challenges. The Hubs even took a day off so we could visit a few of our choices. Some would mean moving, others would mean major financial sacrifices (more like living-on- a-prayer-and-a-dime), and still others would mean feeling like we toss our dear children into the wild world.
It has been a rough week or so and it has caused major tension, sleepless nights and way too many tears. I'd like to say that I was a saint and leaned on the Lord through it all, but I can't. I had more than a few moments of questioning "what in the blazes was He trying to teach me?" But I did see His hand working through these trials.
No one else (so far) has gotten the extremely contagious pink eye. (We had told the kids to keep their distance with Owen. When he started to feel better and was getting around again he came after Josh in a chair. Josh literally started climbing up the chair away from him..."MOM! Owen's going to give me a pink eye!")
The truck broke down right before last weekend. Fewer days off of work for the Hubs, and a time when we naturally use one car anyway.
The in-laws graciously sent us out on our own for a pre-Valentine's night out. It was luxurious. We walked, shopped with gift cards, and ate at a wonderful place. All. by. ourselves. We had tons of time to talk, reminisce and just enjoy cuddling together against the cold wind of the night.
Although we are still in process of making a decision about the school thing, God has given us key conversations, insights and information from several different perspectives and people. He also has shown how making a decision about something this huge really does bring a couple closer together.
So...apologies dear blog for my absence. I hope you understand.
The kids love to have Dance Parties. The Hubs started it. So yesterday, I'm changing Owen's diaper, and this comes around the corner.
Surprised, I ask her what's she's up to.
"A dance party!"
"Oh really, let's see your moves!"
"Great moves, but where's the music?"
Then I realize I actually hear music. It's coming from the office. A quick check finds that our dear Ellie has discovered...iTune*s. She had found the music note icon, clicked it, began the playlist, and then did the next sensible thing...got dressed for the occasion.
All in all, she was quite proud of herself, and I just had to giggle.
At lunch today: Ellie: Mom, why you eat TWO cookies?! Me: Because I'm a big girl. Ellie: No you not. Me: Oh really, than what am I? (yes, I opened that door) Ellie: You a BIG MAMA!
(maybe one too many cookies??)
On the way back from picking up Josh at school, we had an in-depth discussion about traffic lights. Clarification was needed on the fact that one light had only arrows (red, yellow and green). Josh: So what do you do at a yellow light? Me: You slow down, because it's almost a red light and you'll need to stop for that. Josh: I like the way Daddy does it better. Me: Really? How's that? Josh: He just keeps on going.
(Hmmmm...in need of a "Rules of the Road" refresher, dear Hubs?)
Today you are six. Actually, at 10:50pm you'll be six. But we're keeping that part out today. We will be celebrating tomorrow with family and a bowling party! Your grandparents, your cousins, aunts and uncles will be coming over for a night of bowling, lasagna, and probably presents. You got a bit of gift already today by having a snow day. It's funny because this is your second year of missing school on your birthday. Last year it was because you were sick. When you did get to go, we brought in Krisp*e Krem*e donuts, but the teacher said you only ate a bite. I asked you about it today, but you had forgotten. I was glad, because it was such a bummer for you to miss your special day at school.
You were in preschool then. Now...now you are in Kindergarten! You've gone to full day kindergarten this year for a few reasons. Mostly, because you were so ready to go to school. Everyone says you're a mature little boy, and I'm always so proud to hear how well you do in places without me. You LOVE school. Your first weeks were hard because you were tired and not used to such a jam-packed day. But you enjoy the routine of the classroom, the rules and free choice time the best. Each day you like to tell us about your adventures over dinner, and if I try to sneak any information out of you earlier, you roll your eyes and say, "Mom, at dinner, so Daddy can hear."
Besides starting your grade school career, you tried many new things this past year. Teeball. Soccer. Riding a two-wheeler with no training wheels. You've gotten to be very good at Legos, and are beginning to read all by yourself. (that last one is very exciting for me to see...it's the teacher in me!) I'm so proud of the way that you have shown how brave you really are and how willing you are to try new things. Today you said you wanted to try snowboarding or skiing after seeing some big kids at the sledding hill!
You are amazing with your younger sister and brother. They love being with you because you have great ideas about what to play and how to make the everyday really fun. (most recently...meerkats under the living room pillows and between the ottoman and the couch) Sometimes, you can get Ellie to listen even when I can't! You are kind, thoughtful, playful, funny and I love to hear you laugh.
So, today is your birthday, but in my heart, I've been celebrating for a while now. Of all the kids' birthdays, I think yours will always fill me with a different kind of emotion than your sibs. You were my first baby. The day you were born, both sets of your grandparents sat outside the room anxiously waiting your arrival. They came with a basket of goodies to keep themselves busy, and from what they said, they had a great time anticipating the momentous occasion of... you. You came after being induced into the world, and my life will never be the same. Each stage that you go through is the first time I'm going through it, too. We're learning together, and you are teaching me A LOT. You've taught me a new kind of love, and to accept you for the way God made you. I do love you, more than I realize somedays. I feel it most when you jump on my lap and we snuggle or read together. I check on you every night before I go to sleep. I love hearing the slight noise of your breathing and the peaceful look on your face as you rest. These days are going fast, I can feel them getting away from me sometimes. But I promise to look for chances to show you how much I love you, not just with my words, but with the way I care for you, too.
We love snow days around here. Today is also Josh's birthday, which made it just a bit more fun for us. More family time is what made today so terrific. Plus, even though the snow kept school from happening today, the "warm" temperatures and mounds of snow drew us outside as soon as we could.
We started in the back where Josh was convinced he was going to tunnel under the snow. A face full of the white cold stuff soon let him know there was more to his plan than originally believed. (yes, he tried to tunnel face-first)
So with my years of experience in the snow with three brothers, and parents who sent us outside not to come back until we were frozen or it was dark (remember those days?), I felt the need to educate my little ones on the fine art of snow building. Not just an ordinary snowman was going to do it this time, my friends. We have 6-8 inches of snow here, we needed a fort.
We headed to the front yard. Josh and I began with the idea of an igloo type fort where small kiddos could tunnel inside and hide. After the quick-witted observation of Josh ("This isn't good packin' snow"), we went to Plan B. A castle type fort, open to the sky and yet, very able to hold a hiding snow kid. We had built up the pile quite well with the snow from the driveway and the sidewalk. After digging out a shallow hole in the middle, I dumped Josh in and told him to start scooping. Soon we had hollowed out a sizeable space. He dubbed it his "Snow Volcano." (note: Ellie was inside, she gave up after snow found it's cold way into her gloves. She was also on Owen patrol...monitoring if he woke up from his morning nap.)
All in all, it has been a wonderful day, with lots of quality time with the birthday boy.