Precision

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I spent last night caring for a sick Cecilia.  Chris was out of town; there was vomit involved.  I’m a bit traumatized today.  I am, however, quite impressed with my kiddo.  With the exception of waking herself up puking, this kid managed to hit the barf bucket (i.e. trashcan lined with Kroger bags) every time.  She was calm and steady.  Cecilia did whimper a bit between up chuck session, but she figuratively kept her shit together when she needed to.  This is not a one time phenomenon - she even had this skill at age 4.  I know this is a strange thing for a parent to be proud of, but it puts joy in my heart. The less regurgitated food for me to clean, the better.

But like I said, between sessions, she didn’t keep it together.  Cecilia must have a grace under pressure skill.  As her mom, I know my child doesn’t have that kind of attentiveness and precision every day.  For example, my child cannot undress properly.  BEFORE you get concerned about me discussing my child undressing on the internet, let me explain.  The clothes in her laundry basket are all jacked up, especially pants.  Most people take off their pants similarly to the way you’d scoot out a sleeping bag - a little bit of unzipping, a little shimmying, and a little pulling it down.  My kid removes her pants as if she was peeling a banana.  She grabs the waistband of her underwear and pants and peels them down, turning them inside out in the process.  At this point, the unders/pants combo shucking comes to a stop -  they’ve hit a bumper - her socks.  More pulling, more stretching.  The socks pop off into little balls that lodge inside the inside-out pant legs.  It now appears that her pants are wearing underwear on the outside and have kneecaps made of socks. Hopefully, at this point, she puts them in her dirty laundry basket, but probably not…

Washing and folding her laundry feels like a puzzle.  It sort of reminds me of those Chinese fingercuffs that require you to relax in order to escape.  I just have to remind myself to relax, especially when I’m dragging those still wet little sock balls out of her pants.  Sock balls do not dry in the dryer.  I dream of the day that she can do her own laundry.  Six is old enough, right?

Advice for My Daughter

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There are some things from my youth that I remember vividly, like teen angst and having a broken heart.  Over the years, I’ve thought about lots of things I’d like to teach my daughter before she reaches those trying years.  I realize some lessons she’s just going to have to learn herself, but hopefully I can help avoid some pain, even if it’s just the smallest amount.  Now that I have a daughter, I figured I’d better start writing these lessons down before I forget some of them.  Hopefully, there will be a lot of these…

Surround yourself with people who lift you up at all times and restore you and comfort you in your time of need.  Show them great kindness, love, and forgiveness during their times of need.  And never waste your time with people who are reckless with your heart.

Apples to Apples

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When Cecilia was about 18 months, I was giving myself a big pat on the back because she was an awesome eater and enjoying all sorts of foods, like asparagus and tofu.  I knew I was doing a great service to her by introducing her to different foods early on.

But then she turned two.

Suddenly, she hated everything except hot dogs and applesauce, and even then, those foods had certain rules.  Hot dogs need ketchup, and the applesauce had to be the squeezy packet kind.  Homemade, home canned organic applesauce wasn’t good enough.  It needed a cap.

Thankfully Cecilia’s starting to come out of that a little bit.  She’s starting to eat salad with dressing and applesauce in individual container.  Once again, tofu is a favorite.  However, some stuff is still a toss up.  She hates melon, loves grapes.  She’ll only eat carrots that have cooked all day with a roast.  It’s just trial and error.

Today, however, was a big win.  Last night I grabbed a bunch of apples from the bargain bin at the grocery store.  You know, the ones with a spot on them and need to be consumed immediately.  Normally I only buy squash or something that is easy to prepare and consume a lot of at one time.  It had been a while since I made dried fruit in my awesome food dehydrator, and I thought apple chips would make a good snack.

I have to admit that I was a little frustrated while cutting up 15 pieces of fruit, but it was totally worth it this morning when I discovered Cecilia LOVES dried apples.  Fresh apples are one of those toss up fruits for her - some days she’ll eat it, some days she just gives it to the dog - but she can’t get enough dried apples.  And it’s a big bonus that I know where the apples came from and that NOTHING was added to them. It’s just fruit - no sugars, no preservatives.  Looks like I’ll be shopping that bargain fruit bin a little more.

dried apple lover

Toddlers & Tiaras

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Have you seen that crazy show on TLC?  I am, by no means, endorsing it, but if you choose to watch it, it’s hard to look away.  It’s like watching a train wreck happen in slow motion, and there’s nothing that you can do about it.  Just try not to think about the fact that these are real children because that will just make you said, and try to keep their little souls in your prayers because that’s all you can do.

I digress.

If you see my child in the next few days, please do not judge us and assume that I’m one of those stage moms.  I know she’s sporting  very dark, nearly black, purple fingernail polish.  Trust me, I would have painted them a soft pink if I could have.  However, I promised Cecilia that I would paint her fingernails if she pooped in the potty.  In fact, I’ve been promising her this for nearly two weeks without any success.  But today, she told me she needed to go, and she peed AND pooped on the potty.  When she got off the potty, she was very excited and told me she wanted “Purple!!” Unfortunately, the only purple I had was dark, emo purple.

Basically what I’m saying is that my desire to potty train my child outweighs my desire to get your approval as a good mom.  Amen.

Sassy

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Cecilia has started to display a little sassy lately.  However, it’s appropriate placed sass, not rebellious, boundary testing whining.  Tonight was a good example.

I went to the gym before dinner time, and knowing that dinner would be late, Chris got through the bathtime routine while they waited for me to come home with pizza.  After we consumed delicious Papa Murphy’s, I told Cecilia that it was time to brush teeth, and she followed me to the bathroom.  Once we were there, she started twirling her hair, looked at me, and said, “Daddy already brushed my teeth so…”  I wasn’t sure I heard her right and asked her to repeat herself.  Again, she said, “Daddy already brushed my teeth so…”

For the record, we brushed and flossed, and Chris had, in fact, brushed her teeth before dinner.

Learning Every Day

As I stated previous, Cecilia is very TWO, and the last few months have been challenging.  It seems like every minute she’s trying to explore her world and test boundaries.  It occurred to me the other day that this is when the real parenting begins.  I’m not saying that parents of infants aren’t real parents, but rather, they aren’t quite “parenting”.  With babies, the main goal is to keep them alive and thriving - take care of their needs by nurturing their bodies.  But when they become toddlers, especially older toddlers, you have to start nurturing their souls, and that’s when it gets really hard (at least in my opinion).  Mending a little body is much easier than mending a little soul.

I’ve found this responsibility to be overwhelming at times.  It’s very tricky to find the right balance of discipline and openness that creates both a structured and empowering environment.  How do you control and correct a two year old’s behavior without risking harm to their fiery spirit?  How do you build their self-confidence while teaching them to value others?    How do create an environment that is loving and open while still maintaining individuality and space?  It’s all so new and different from the baby years.  Yes, those were hard, especially when I couldn’t figure out why my small child was crying, but I think these years are harder and more long lasting.  At least I’ve finally shaken that “new parent anxiety”.

One thing I’ve been trying to do is assign Cecilia tasks without making them commands.  (The commands weren’t working!)  So instead of saying, “Find your shoes,” I’ll say, “Will you help me get ready? What shoes do you want to wear?”  Cecilia loves to be part of whatever I’m doing, and she loves choices.  Does it always work? Nope.  Does it usually work? Nope.  But even if it has the same results as just saying “Find your shoes,”  it still fosters a more independent and loving environment, and it’s just as easy to say.

We’ve tried giving Cecilia some independence when it comes to her clothing.  Some days we let her choose between two options, but if we have more time (a lot more time), we let her have mostly free reign on her wardrobe (no jammies to school, which gets requested often).  Today Cecilia asked to wear her Wiggles shirt from the Wiggles concert that she saw with her grandparents.  I’ll be honest, it’s not my favorite shirt.  It’s a bit androgynous, and I like to put my cute girl in cute girly clothing.  But, eh, it’s just a shirt.  When it was nearly time to leave for school, I asked her to go find some socks while I put on my shoes.  She was gone for quite a while so I figured she got distracted, but when I found her, she was sitting in front of her sock draw and exclaimed “I got socks!”  Well, almost, kiddo.  She actually put on leg warmers.  You know what? I let her wear them.  It won’t hurt sending her to school with leg warmers over her pants and taking them off might hurt her self-esteem.  I did, however, put some socks on her too.

independence

27 months wiggles shirt

TWO

Categories: Cecilia , mommyhood | 1 Comment

Cecilia - 24 months

I’m sorry for the absence.  To be honest, I’m having a hard time managing my family, responsibilities, and all the things I want to accomplish.  Life is busy, which is exactly how I like it, but it causes things to slip through the cracks, like my blog and vacuuming all the dog hair out from under the furniture.  (If you visit, PLEASE do not look under the beds.)  Since I last posted, Cecilia turned two.  We spent the weekend celebrating, holding two parties, and hosting visitors.  It was a great time, and Cecilia really soaked it all in.  She’s becoming a very bubbly, sweet, and funny girl.  It’s awesome watching her grow.  It’s hard to believe she’s two.

But then there are some days that it’s not so hard to believe that she’s two.  Rather she’s TWO. T-W-O. And everything that comes along with that age.  Not only is she starting to talk in full sentences (”Momma’s car’s hot.) and learning her colors, shapes, and letters, she’s also developed selective hearing, stubbornness, and disobedience.  The last two days, I’ve had to enforce timeouts, which is something I’ve never had to do before.  In general, when she acts up, I try to remove her from the situation, acknowledge her feelings, and tell her why that behavior is unacceptable.  But when she does something like hit Lucy after I tell her not to, I know she’s testing boundaries, and I have to make sure to enforce them.

It’s hard. Very hard. Especially when I know that I’ve chosen to take this on as my job-all day, every day.  I did have a moment today when I debated going back to a paid job, one sans child.  Then I realized that I would just be passing the buck and assuming that someone else would do as good as a job as I am.  I know that’s not the right choice.  I know I need to suck it up and parent consistently.  It’s hard being a mother.  Part of me would like to fast forward through this time, but then I realize that I would miss out on so much.  Cecilia is an absolute joy, even when she’s saying “Potty” to manipulate me.

Cecilia - 24 months

Peace

I’m sitting in my driveway with a sleeping baby in my backseat and listening to a woodpecker attack one of the neighborhood trees.  My laptop is picking up the house’s wifi and playing my favorite type of music on Pandora.  It’s a sunny day, and the car is blocking us from the chilly wind.  It’ so incredibly peaceful.  I know a lot of folks would criticize me because I haven’t been able to master my child’s sleeping habits and the fear of an overly tired, hyper toddler is enough to keep me from moving her out of her carseat, but I don’t care.  For me, the chaos and stress of a forced nap (and usually resulting in an unsuccessful attempt of said nap) is not worth it.  She’s small.  She won’t sleep in the car for every nap.  Life is good.  Besides, if she napped inside, I couldn’t watch the wind pick up leaves, twirl them around, and place them back on the ground.  I couldn’t enjoy the winter sun on my skin.  I would feel obligated to do laundry, make beds, and put away toys.  When everything is said and done, a moments peace and balance is more enjoyable than an empty kitchen sink.

Snow Angels

We took the kids outside to play in the snow today.  They both seemed to enjoy it quite a bit.  Well, Cecilia did until I pushed her down our small hill in a laundry basket.  She wasn’t a fan of that.  Lucy, on the other hand, scampered over the snow with delight.  She would run around and take quick turns, shooting snow high into the air.  It was quite a sight to see.  You’d almost think she was meant to be a colder climate dog until you realized she hasn’t pooped in over 24 hours.  I guess squatting over the cold stuff intimidates her.

snow days

snow days

Mother’s Guilt

Categories: Cecilia , mommyhood | 4 Comments

It’s hard for me to admit this, but the last two months have been really difficult.  Cecilia has reached a new level of curiosity, and she’s always on the go.  I feel like I’m constantly struggling to maintain the house, get my errands run, and take care of my other responsibilities while entertaining her.  Throw in a crazy, whiny dog, and some days I just want to cry.  I feel like I’m not doing any of my jobs well because I’m never able to fully focus on just one task.  Don’t get me wrong.  I realize that multitasking is part of life, but when it takes an entire day to clean up the kitchen because a little girl is pulling on my leg or the dog has run off, it’s hard to give Cecilia the attention that I want to (or exercise the over-excited dog).

With Cecilia reaching the 18 month mark on December 28th, I decided it was time to enroll her in a day school two days a week.  I was really ashamed of that decision.  So many of my friends told me that they enrolled their kids in preschool or a mom’s day out program at two.  While they were trying to be supportive to me, all I felt was guilty for denying my daughter the additional six months at home.  I felt guilty because I couldn’t handle my job as a stay-at-home mom.  I felt guilty because I knew Cecilia would cry because I wasn’t there.

But I also knew it was the right thing to do.  Even if placing my daughter in day school at one made me a questionable mom, I knew keeping her at home and denying myself a break would prevent me from being the mom I wanted to be.  Plus it would give me time to finish my errands while someone, whose sole job is to entertain the children in her classroom, challenges her in just the way she needs.

And when I dropped her off Tuesday, things went incredibly well.  I kept my phone on me at all times and expected a call telling me that she was inconsolable, but my phone never rang.  In fact, she didn’t even notice that I was gone for at least 30 minutes after I left (per her teachers).   According to her daily report, she oscillated between busy, happy play and fussiness.  She also didn’t nap for them, but that was no surprise.  When I arrived to pick her up, I expected her to come running to me.  Instead, she looked up from her activity, brought a toy to me, and then went back to play some more.  I think she likes it there.

And my first day without her, I did pretty well too.  I did wander around town for the first fifteen minutes or so because I couldn’t decide what I wanted to do or where I wanted to go.  But I managed to go to Home Depot to get gardening starter supplies, the grocery store, and the hardware store.  I also cleaned the house from top to bottom and worked out.

When I got Cecilia home, she nursed and fell asleep in my lap.  I didn’t try to move her.  Instead I admired my girl while enjoying a clean house.  It was a relaxed feeling.  I’ve come to realize that I’m just not meant to be the kind of stay-at-home mom who homeschools her five children, and I’ve accepted that.  My goals had been accomplished.  My baby was happy.  Momma was happy.   I feel secure that, despite all the guilt, I made the right decision.