Children, Family, Uncategorized

One Day She Will Roll Her Eyes At Me

one day she will roll her eyes at meWhen our first child was born, I remember looking down at her, in awe of her newness and so in love with this warm, wiggly little being. And I remember thinking that this beautiful gift from God would one day roll her eyes at me in frustration. I knew that day would come. Because she would grow and learn and develop her own opinions and thoughts about things.

And occasionally her thoughts would be in direct opposition to my thoughts. She would grow to want to be independent and the struggle between parents holding on and children wanting to let go would rage on, like a dance with all the delicacy of a bull in a china shop.

Fast forward to today. Girl child really likes to do things by herself. Not like baby girl does…spilling the cereal all over the table because she wanted to pour it herself but does not yet possess the fine motor skills to maintain accuracy when aiming for her cereal bowl. Girl child likes responsibility. She likes to do things that confirm she’s growing up. Like emptying the dishwasher herself, including the knives. She knows what’s been off limits to her until she’s old enough. And she wants to be old enough!

So, as she gains more and more independence, I wonder where I will fit in to her world. When she was fresh from God, I was completely in charge of everything for her. Now I reach into my pockets and hand over yet another thing I managed that she now can do for herself. Lord help me when she’s old enough to drive.

That’s kind of scary. Because at some point in her life, I won’t know where she is or what she’s doing. She’ll call me and check in (she better if she knows what’s good for her!). We will chat and catch up on all the stuff she’s been into. Maybe she’ll share heartbreak with me, but who knows. Maybe not. And then, she’ll hang up and go on with her life. Without me.

As we move further away from dependence, I try to remind her how family always sticks together. How we always look out for each other, no matter what. That her brother and sister are now and will forever be her closest and best friends. She will still roll her eyes every now and then but I’m trying to plant the seeds now so that later, when she needs the tree of support and faithful love and encouragement, she’ll find us all there.

 

 

 

Children, Family, Funnies..., travel

That time she almost peed in the Uber!

uberYou guys! You don’t know stress until you experience something so traumatic as hitching a ride in a lovely Uber with your littles only to hear “Momma…I have to go potty weely bad!” from the backseat. Um. wut?? The littlest of our littles has urgently advised she has to go and she can’t hold it. We are at the near beginning of our ride back into Washington DC from Alexandria during evening traffic. So, the seemingly forever 7 mile trek to the hotel is wrought with pleas of relief because her pee-pees are coming and she can’t hold it anymore!!!!!

At first we figure, how bad can she really have to go…I mean she went twice in the course of our dinner (completely normal activity for her- a combination of curiosity of what the bathroom looks like and maybe also actually having to go). There can’t really be THAT MUCH pee in her at this point. But then we start thinking, she’s really sticking to this ‘having to go potty’ mess. And she’s getting a little louder.

We try telling her “we’re almost there…look I can see it!” (we can’t see it AT ALL). That does not work.

We try telling her to imagine her pee is going back into his little house (a trick my grandma used on me as a kid and it usually bought us about 10 minutes). That also does not work.

Now we start really feeling the stress of the logistics of managing the situation if, in fact, she really can’t hold it any longer as she is now vocalizing quite loudly. I mean, there’s no way the Uber driver can’t hear what’s going on at this point. We are in a mini-van. A nicely appointed one with comfortable leather seats. Crap. What if this child actually pees on this guy’s car? What’s the protocol here?

Anyone who’s been to DC knows you can’t just “pull over” and “stop in” to a “shop”. Besides the double-parked issue, there’s also this: “No, pal, those restrooms are for paying customers only”. And a teary-eyed four-year-old whose pee-pees are coming doesn’t faze them at all. Those cold-hearted savages.

Nope. We have to make it to the hotel. We HAVE to make it to the hotel.

So baby girl is now crying, “I can’t make it! My pee-pees are coming!!” and she’s wiggling all over the place. I spot the car mats and see that they are the plastic kind with spill catching grooves all in them. Ok. Worst case scenario, I lift baby girl up, she pees all over herself onto the mat. We arrive at the hotel, give the Uber driver an extra $20 for his trouble while I take the mat into the bathroom and rinse it down.

While I’m mentally preparing for this scenario, my dear husband has come up with his own idea. He’s thinking of taking off his t-shirt and fashioning a diaper around baby girl so at least his shirt bears the brunt of her dilemma. Bless him.

uber alexandria washington DCA huge tour bus has now pulled in front of us, slowing our rate on the last leg of our seemingly endless trip. CRAP!! MOVE!! It is at this point that I know for sure that our Uber driver is in this with us as he starts maneuvering like a parent who’s kid has to pee. He weaves in and out of stupid traffic…and this is more than the efficiency that Uber drivers usually use. This guy does not want his car to be peed on. But he says nothing. He just focuses on his mission.

Finally…we round the last turn. We really CAN see the hotel. “Look baby girl! There’s our hotel! We are here!!” She’s still a crying mess. But we made it. As the driver rounds the turn in the courtyard, I’ve already unbuckled her so I can grab her and dash out of the car. Whatever happens next, I can handle.

I proclaim to the Uber driver, “we are still dry!” and he smiles at us. We thank him for this expeditiousness and I bolt to the lobby bathroom with baby girl. We make it to the bathroom, I lock the door and strip down her pants, then hoist her up on the potty. She then starts chatting about how the bathroom light turns itself on and off and did I know this? Also she can’t reach the toilet paper but that’s ok because Momma can hand her some. This is her favorite hotel ever.

Wait, what?!? GO POTTY!!!

She says, “oh yeah!” like she forgot! Then the relieving sounds of tinkling and she smiles up at me, saying, “See?? I told you I had to go!”

Traveling with little kids…ugh!!

 

 

 

 

Children, Family, parenting, Uncategorized

Don’t Cross The Line

Cross the lineEach child is uniquely different, with different personalities and different triggers to action. So what happens when your child is willfully disobedient or unruly? When they knowingly cross the line?

You’ll Break Your Tailbone!

helicopter parentRecently my little kids got roller skates! I discovered three pairs of skates at a thrift store that perfectly fit each kid. And they were the grow-with-me skates. All for the price of $9!! So I put the skates on the kids…8, 7 and 4 years old. I also made them wear their bike helmets. I never wore mine when skating, but I think the Earth’s gravitational pull is stronger now so the odds of the kids falling and busting their heads is significantly greater than when I was a kid.

Anyway…it became obvious really quickly that these kids were not good at skating. If you ever were unsure if you were a helicopter parent, put skates on your kids. You’ll find out where you stand really quickly! So, I established boundaries for skating. The kids couldn’t pass the first line in the driveway until they had become a little more proficient in not falling all over the place. Our driveway slopes upward so I was not about to let them up that hill until they showed me some skill.

Of course soon enough, girl child was a skating “pro” (not really…but she’s waaay better than she was) and boy child was completely out of control but for some reason never fell. Like ever. I’m not sure what was happening but it was almost like he couldn’t fall if he wanted to. He was a straight up mess of flailing arms and wildly kicking, rolling feet but his grin was huge and he always made it to his intended destination (the other side of the driveway into the grass). So I relaxed the rule a bit for them.

Baby girl? That was another story. She is not good at all with skating. Partly because she’s four and how good can you actually be at that age? Partly because she kept sitting down, goofing off, taking one skate off and just not getting any real practice time in. But as soon as she saw girl child and boy child crossing “the line” she wanted to cross the line as well.

Oh heck no, darling. No way in all of heck am I going to let you past that line. Are you kidding me? Have you seen yourself skate? She was not pleased that she couldn’t cross the line. So do you know what she spent the rest of skate time doing? Getting herself right up to the line and looking back at me with a sparkly eye while saying, “I’m gonna cwoss da line, Momma!”

Why would she do this? Why would she knowingly disobey me and why is she wanting to cross the line? Well, if you’ve met baby girl, you’ll know the force is strong in that one. She’s got a strong will that makes me wonder what we are going to do with her because all of our tried and true manipulation tactics do not work on this child.

So here’s the thing..and believe me when I say I’ve failed at this. Miserably. Yelling at a child like this will not make her want to change whatever she’s doing and do what it is that you want her to do. In fact, it thus becomes her mission to never do that thing you want her to do. Or conversely, she will try come hell or high water to do the thing you’ve yelled at her not to do. And this may or may not include skating past the line.

Manipulation- The Puppeetering of Childhood

We may have stumbled upon some things that work pretty good for this kind of child. I don’t claim to guarantee these will always work and maybe these are unique to baby girl. But here’s some things that we found to be effective:

  1. A distinct choice Not a crappy choice…she smells a bad deal a mile away. A good choice. Baby girl falls apart if she doesn’t get to sit next to Momma at a restaurant. Like big, loud, long-lasting fall apart. So…a trip to the bathroom to discuss options is in order. I squat down to her eye level and I ask her to quiet her cry. Then I ask her to take a breath…fill her lungs (she obliges). I tell her “here are your two options:” and I make sure to put up two fingers so she “sees” her options. “#1, you sit across from Momma now and it’ll be your turn to sit by me the next restaurant we go to. I’ll write it down. #2, we go home right now and you spend the rest of the afternoon in your room while girl child and boy child skate.” She gets to choose her fate. Now she’ll try to negotiate and I again list her two options. She’ll try to wind up her fit and I tell her the choices are gone, it’s time to go home. At this point in her young life, she can’t call my bluff so she starts yelling “No, Momma!” and I start the process over again. I give her the two choices. Once she resigns herself to choosing option 1, I tell her how proud I am of her and I ask her for a hug, which she really wants. While I hug her I tell her I’m so happy she will be across from me because I can look at her beautiful eyes when we talk. She suddenly likes this idea.
  2. “I need you to…OK?” I used to think asking a child “OK?” after I gave an instruction was a sign of weakness. But now I see it, at least for baby girl, as a way to empower her to be a part of what she’s about to do. Obviously I still manipulate the situation to produce the desired result, but she gets to actually agree “all by herself”. “Baby girl, I need you to help me set the table, ok?” or “Baby girl, I need you to pick up your books, ok?”. She usually responds favorably to this kind of request. But in the instances where she may balk, I sprinkle the request with a compliment: “Baby girl, You are always so good at helping out, I need you to help me set the table, ok?” Compliments go far with her…really far. She wants to do good. She wants to be noticed for doing what she is supposed to do. If she’s doing something she knows is good and we are a little slow to notice her, she’ll say, “Momma aren’t you so very pwoud of me?” This is the part that impresses me. She really does want to do the right thing. We’ve just got to convince her of what it is sometimes.
  3. Logic At least with Baby girl, she gets logic. She really understands it. The key is to keep it simple and attainable. So don’t threaten her with tossing all her clothes in the trash if she doesn’t put them away. That’s obviously not going to happen and it’ll reduce the credibility of your future logic arguments. Logic to baby girl looks like this: “Baby girl, I need you to put all of your markers away because I’m worried that puppy dog will get a hold of them and start chewing on them. I don’t want a marker to get stuck in her belly because she will get very sick!” Baby girl is loyal to her dog. That dog isn’t going down on her watch, no sir. That appeal to logic (or really emotion) sets baby girl in motion quickly.

Obviously, there’s much to consider with a determined child…this is just a sampling of what works for ours. We often think of how much of a challenge baby girl is, where it comes from, and how to dismantle it without breaking her spirit. There’s no one way to tackle this and it’s a moving target. The key is to adapt and adjust. I’ll reiterate what I said earlier…I have failed at all of this. But I’ve also had success. And it’s those successes that you build on.

Children, Family, Uncategorized

It’s Picture Day- I Must Paint My Face

Picture DayIt’s picture day. The day you clean your kids up, brush their hair, and press their clothes. You make it seem on print like they are cherubs who don’t break things, scrape knees, get dirty, or otherwise have kid fun whenever possible. Everyone knows this is true. And yet everyone does the same thing.

If you think about it, how often are your kids as clean and orderly as they are in the portrait hanging in your main hallway of your house? At least for us…it’s kind of never? Maybe Sunday for a few hours during church time.

Picture day should be letting kids do the very thing they were designed to to…kid things. Clean, dirty or whatever. Then when they’ve really gotten into their fun for the day, plop them on a little stool sitting in the middle of the very “creativity” they have made (read: mess) and take a really good quality portrait.

Slap it up on the wall, baby! That’s a memory. That’s the true essence of childhood.

Picture dayAnd yet here I am, thinking about the time ticking down before my kids’ scheduled picture day. I’m both impressed and mortified that baby girl decided this morning, of all days, to “play with make-up”. She smeared stamping ink all over her face. Today, of all days. It’s like her DNA code tells her that paint must be applied to her face because the energy of the universe indicates that a picture will be taken today.

I scrub baby girl’s face to the point where I can’t tell if I’m scrubbing off pink ink or irritating her skin. I make the kids brush their teeth for obvious reasons. Like quality brushing…the kind you make your kids do before their dentist appointment. You hope to fool the hygienist into believing that your kids brushed their teeth every single day like they’re supposed to. I don’t want to see last night’s pizza oregano nestled in between the two front big teeth of girl child.

Now I’ll brush their hair so it doesn’t look like the sweaty, stringy heap it does every other warm, sunny afternoon. I wipe their faces as if they don’t shove food into their mouths with such accuracy that the gooey sides of food don’t smear all over their cheeks. I save the clean clothes for the very last moment. And then bark out orders to quickly change clothes and for the love of Pete, don’t get into any messes!

We tip-toe to the car, not touching anything on the way. Don’t pick anything up, don’t run anywhere, don’t do anything. Just get into the car.

I try to manage all attitudes and interactions such that no one feels offended or slighted or anything else that causes one or all to burst into tears due to some obviously important injustice. You know, like the sun shining too much. Or the seat belt being too gray. And dear heavens do not let anyone fall asleep on the way to the picture studio.

Yes, picture day represents a completely accurate vision of childhood. It’s not at all a fictional version of my kids at any point in their little lives. If nothing else, it shows everyone what my kids look like under all their fun.

 

 

Children, Family, Homeschool

Totality…almost.

Totality almost baby girlLast week was the week of the total eclipse across the entire continental United States. And we were in the path of totality…almost. We were in the path of 97% totality. What’s a measly 3%, anyway?! Well…when you’re dealing with the sun, apparently 3% of the sun is still super bright. More on that later.

So…the day of the eclipse arrived and the kids were super excited. This was a homeschool day focused completely on what happens with an eclipse, how the moon covers the sun, how the shadow screams across the ground lightning fast although it seems to us on the ground like it’s taking forever!! We had bought our glasses awhile back (shout out to dear husband for thinking of buying them back before the price jacked up with supply and demand!) and those glasses came with an eclipse book. So we poured over the book while we waited our turn for the big show. On the east coast, that was about 2:30pm so we had time to watch the eclipse on TV as it made its way across the country.

Pinhole Eclipse ViewerI had found cute pinhole eclipse viewers you can make out of cereal boxes so we spent some time making those as well. As much as my OCD self wanted to take command of this project, I made myself stand back and let the kids cut out the holes, tape the tin foil and…poke the hole in the foil! I need a minute for this one because every fiber of my being wanted to manage the ‘poke the hole’ step!!

But, I let them do the whole project and the kids ran outside to look in their viewers. They were not pleased. I’m not sure what they thought they were going to see, but a little bright circle at the bottom of a box of Special K was not it! So, the boxes were kind of flung to the side. But at least it was time spent having fun making a craft. Memories, right? 🙂

I had put on my viewing glasses just to see what the sun looks like through them and low and behold, the moon was already kissing the edge of the sun!! “The moon!!!”, I screamed like a little kid,  “I can see the moon!! It’s starting!!”. And my own little ones came scampering outside with their glasses loosely attached to their heads. It was in this moment that I realized that baby girl’s glasses would never stay on her face. So, the resourceful side of me poked holes in the back edge of the glasses and I tied twine pieces to the holes.

Then I tied the glasses to baby girl’s face. Yep…tied them to her face. Worked perfectly!

So…in all of this excitement we had told our dear children, “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity. We can’t make it happen again so don’t miss it! We aren’t going to stop looking at the eclipse because you are having a fit. You are on your own until after the totality.” Because, for real…this IS a big deal!!

So, we had thought the wildcard would be baby girl. She’s got a knack for pitching a fit at the worst times. But she did great! No… the dark horse of the day was boy child and I’m debating to tell you why he was pouting right at the moment of maximum coverage of the moon…

He wanted to eat hummus. Right then. At that moment. Yeah. you read that right. He wanted to eat hummus. It was all we could do to get those glasses on his head and make him look at the sun!

“Look at the sun right now, son!!” If I had a nickel for every time I’ve said that…

The moment was upon us. All the kids were quietly watching. We took off our glasses to look at the darkness around us that wasn’t there…begin commentary now:

Totality almost eclipse maximumHey, it isn’t dark!..Hey, the moon isn’t completely covering the sun..I thought the street lights would come on!..It isn’t even cold!…Where’s the stars??

This picture is the moment of maximum moon cover. This is 97% totality:

So, feeling a bit disappointed ourselves, we start talking about how bright the sun is. How when only 3% of the sun is showing, it’s still bright enough to cast shadows, still bright enough that we can see to read, still bright enough to feel hot outside, still bright enough to burn your eyes …It’s bright!! Although for a few minutes, we were able to see a single planet in the sky.

So, it was totality…almost. But for us, it was an entire day of lifetime memory making. And though I didn’t see the Bailey’s beads, the wispy corona or the diamond ring effect I had an entire day of time with the kids that we will undoubtedly be talking and laughing about years in the future around our Thanksgiving table…

“Remember that summer where we had a total (almost) eclipse?! Who was complaining about the hummus??

 

 

 

Children, Creative Ideas, Family

Do You Remember Paper Dolls?

Paper dolls 1This past weekend, girl child and I did something so fun! Do you remember paper dolls? Did you ever play with them? I sure did and I had hours of fun making up stories, changing outfits and having fashion shows! Oh, the memories! And the idea just hit me to see if I could show girl child the fun of paper dolls.

Paper dolls 2Now since this was a very last minute idea and paper dolls aren’t readily available on shelves, we had to improvise! So I found a picture of a front-facing Barbie doll online and then hunted for dresses that would fit on the doll. Once we got those all printed, I started girl child on cutting out the dresses. I cut the doll out and then traced her onto a thick piece of cardboard. I cut the outline out and then glued the doll onto the cardboard so she was stable enough to stand upright without bending over!

Girl child was enamored with the dresses we found online. Most were from the seventies, eighties and we even found a few from the roaring twenties! Time just flew by as girl child concentrated on the outlines of each dress. She even made her own tabs on the few dresses we found that didn’t have them.

Paper dolls 4We found a beautiful wedding gown, which instantly got girl child’s attention. It was kind of a complicated dress to cut out because of the bouquet but it was worth the effort. She was pleased as punch that she was able to have a wedding gown doll! And I was pleased that she wanted to keep all of her paper doll stuff safe when she asked for a ziploc bag. In fact, girl child was so happy with these paper dolls. She went back the next day to continue cutting out her dresses and trying them on her Barbie doll figure.

Even though we are in a high-tech, fast-paced world, paper dolls are such a fun and slower way to enjoy time with your little girl.

I will say that cutting out the doll, the cardboard behind the doll and all the clothes might be a bit much. So let me suggest a little purchase instead. Now, if you decide to buy these, I’ll get a little payment but I still think these would be great for some paper doll fun! It’s called Fancy Nancy’s Perfectly Posh Paper Doll Book and it’s only $4.00!

Whichever way you go, be sure to introduce your daughter to paper dolls. It’s a great way to spend an afternoon in an imaginary world!

Children, Family, Uncategorized

8 prayers I pray for my children

8 prayers I pray for my childrenSo often I find myself wondering what kind of world we are leaving our children. It is in these moments that I find myself silently praying for my kids and most often it’s one of these 8 prayers I pray for my children. Mind you, these prayers aren’t lofty nor are they spoken aloud. These are the silent, constant prayers that mothers find themselves praying.

Whether it’s in specific thought, or during those times when sleep evades us…when tragedy strikes another family and we are counting our blessings while grieving with them. A mother’s prayer is constant. It’s a bath of protection and blessing and desires and hopes and faith…a jumbled mess we hand over to the Father. These are 8 prayers I pray for my children.

I pray for my children’s safety

Our world is so dangerous. Some may say it’s always been dangerous, but I see it creeping precariously close to the safety of the home. People are becoming more evil in how they would harm children or how they would harm random people, no matter the age. I pray for my children’s safety. I pray for God to protect them with warrior angels. Warriors. To fight the evil that exists around us at all times. So I pray for my children’s safety. As Girl Child has prayed for, “the strongest bubble that no one can break through!”.

I pray for my children to stay close to each other

This one sits in the back of my mind and I pray on it when it bubbles to the front. I pray my children remain close friends. Hopefully we will be around for a long time but when we are gone, my children will have each other. And I pray that they rely on each other and confide in each other. I pray that they look out for each other and keep up with each other. They can still irritate the mess out of each other because that is sibling right, but at the end of the day I pray that they always love each other. It’s simple but it’s important.

I pray for my children’s future spouses

Yep. And I know many other parents who do the same thing. I pray for my son’s wife and my daughters’ husbands. And I pray for their safety and I pray for God to guard their hearts and minds. That they are immersed in God’s Holy Word and I pray for their health. I pray that God helps them to make good decisions along the way as they are growing. It’s all important…from childhood to adulthood and these future spouses need to be bathed in prayer just as much as my own children are.

I pray for my children’s hearts

I pray that the seeds we plant in their hearts about their Heavenly Father are deep-rooted, healthy and strong. That they will judge everything they encounter with the knowledge they gain each day from studying the Bible and that the world is no match for God’s promises. I pray that they have joy in their hearts that cannot be taken away.

I pray for my children’s sweet dreams

Sweet dreams. Sleep is the place for rest and recuperation from a busy day. I pray for sweet dreams for my children so that their sleep is truly restful. So that their bodies can rejuvenate and be ready for the next day of learning and excitement. Sweet dreams ensure peace whereas nightmares causes anxiousness. So I pray they are able to rest and that their imaginations will deliver wonderful stories to them throughout the night.

I pray for what my children will become when they are grown

I can only imagine now what each child will become or where their interests will take them. So I pray for what they will become because all of that starts now while they are young. What they’re exposed to, what captures their interest, what comes naturally to them…it starts now. I pray that they find something they are truly good at and something that grabs their interest. And I pray they love what they become.

I pray for my children’s happiness

Happiness is a luxury and I pray my children have an abundance of happiness in their young lives. I pray they see the happiness in their world. That they see the joy in the little things all around them. I pray that their happiness is infectious and that they share it with as many people as possible. And I pray that their happiness only grows and that they enjoy being happy.

I pray for my children’s childhood

Their childhood is so very important. So many children no longer get to have a real childhood because they are forced to grow up so quickly. Perhaps it is how fast our world is with technology. I pray my children are able to hold fast to their childhood and that they enjoy their time for as long as possible. I also pray that we are able to protect their childhood and we are able to shield them from whatever seeks to steal our children’s childhood away from them.

So I pray for them all the time. Sometimes with words, sometimes my prayer is simply the thoughts in my mind and on my heart. But I pray for my children. Every day.

Children, Family

She’s kidding right? I’m sure she’s kidding…

Each one of our kids have wild imaginations. And wildly different imaginations. Girl child is all over creativity and storylines, fairytales and fashion. Boy child is an engineer at heart…he’s methodical and precise. He designs and invents things, and his attention to detail on his drawings is something to behold. And then there’s baby girl. Now she has a great imagination as well…she lines up her stuffed animals for class, she prepares dinners in her kitchen to serve at her restaurant and she’s the only child to have an imaginary friend.

Baby girl’s friend’s name is Sweetie and she’s a puppy dog. Now this puppy dog shouldn’t be confused with her stuffed animals who are dogs: Belle, Puppy, Frankie, Spots, etc. Sweetie is a dog we have never met. And she doesn’t live with us. She lives at baby girl’s “other house”. We’ve heard about Sweetie for awhile and baby girl has big plans for her playdates withSweetie when she comes over. We’ve heard about Sweetie’s likes and dislikes. We’ve heard about the time Sweetie was sick, when she was injured and when she ran away.

Lots of exciting stories surrounding Sweetie.

But a few months ago, Baby girl said something to us that kind of caught us off guard.

“Tomorrow I’m leaving to go to my home with Sweetie.”

Um…excuse me, what?

“Yes, I’m leaving. But I’ll come back and visit you.”

Now, most of me thinks this is part of her elaborate imagination at work so I leave it. But then she mentioned it again later. And again even later.

“Tomorrow I’m leaving to go to my home with Sweetie.”

So I ask her where her home is. “It’s about ten minutes away.” Of course it is…she can’t tell time. I ask her what her home looks like. “It’s all brown with big windows and a door and there are no stairs.” (For the record, not at all what our house looks like) I ask what Sweetie looks like. “All black with a few white spots on her front.” So I ask her why she’s leaving her family. “Because Sweetie needs me.”

This is interesting and just a teeny bit concerning. I ask why Sweetie can’t live with us. “Because Sweetie likes it at my other house.”

So I try to call her bluff. I mean, how in the world can she say she’s leaving us for a fake dog!

“Ok, well, I’ll help you pack in the morning. I hate to see you go and I’ve really enjoyed having you live with us. We’ll be so sad when you go, but I guess since Sweetie needs you, you have to go.”

I see the thought work its way through baby girl’s brain. She’s starting to realize what leaving to go to her other home will mean. I see these wheels spinning so I drive it home.

“I guess we’ll give your bed and toys to another little child who can use these things since we won’t need them anymore.”

And then I see the crocodile tears welling up in baby girl’s eyes. uh-oh…too far. Reel it back in. Quickly.

“Of course…if you would like to stay with us, that would make us so happy because we don’t want you to go. How about you stay with us and Sweetie can come stay with you. She can even sleep in your bed with you so she won’t be scared. how does that sound?”

Suddenly a huge grin appears on baby girl’s face and she is relieved. “Yes, yes, yes!!! Sweetie will love to live here!” I tell her that her other home will be great when she’s grown up because she’ll have a place to live that’ll still be close to Momma and Daddy. This is the best idea in the whole world and baby girl is once again happy and off to something else.

So, yeah, baby girl’s imagination? We need to watch out for the colossal stories coming out of that brain or I’ll end up with a hole in my roof to fit the imaginary dragon she befriends!

 

Children, Family, Family Finances

Fun Doesn’t Have To Cost Much!

Kids toys are expensive. And on top of being expensive, my favorite part of kid toys is that the kids usually get bored of them relatively quickly considering the price. So, what you end up having is a bunch of toys the kids ignore until you go through with the donate bag, at which point those toys become a most prized possession.

What I think we sometimes forget is how important the imagination is and I’m guilty as well. There’s so much available and for some reason we’ve put this thing on us to have to entertain our kids every waking moment. Again, guilty. The times I see my kids “miserable” with boredom, my first instinct is to create magic for them. But the times I held strong and said “go figure it out” to my kids when they present me with their boredom? Magic happens.

Case in point: sweet husband had a character building class with younger boys that he taught at our church. One of the group games he had them play was a cup stacking game- which team could create the highest tower of cups without it falling over. So, he bought cups at the dollar store. A ton of cups! And at the end of the program, we were then the proud owners of these cups. We had them in a milk carton box and put them in the kitchen when we returned home from church. No sooner had we put the box down, the kids had grabbed the box and had begun to play with the cups.

They played and played and played. They played the next day. They built forts. They stacked them. They knocked them over. They were in fits of giggles and laughter. They played bowling with the cups.

The only down side was the reluctancy the kids had in cleaning up…that part is a work in progress, I guess. But this generally got me thinking about what makes a great toy for kids.

Empty boxes, paper towel rolls, empty milk containers, plastic (or paper) cups, small wooden blocks, jump ropes, blankets, clothes pins…I know some of these sound like the kitchen trash, but these objects open up so many possibilities to let kids figure out on their own what to do with the objects. What to make from them. How to use them together. Inventing things with them. Designing things with them.

I know this isn’t brand new information and I know it’s not cutting edge advice, but I’ve seen more success in playtime and boredom busters with these type of objects over complicated gadgety toys. Granted the mess is big so be forewarned about that. But I will say I can deal with this kind of mess over lots of little pieces of toy crap laying all over the place.

Give it try if you don’t already…give your kids some generic objects and see what they do with them.

PS…You’ll be a long-time hero if you have a refrigerator box!

Children, Family

Hangman

IMG_4314.JPGI recently played a game of Hangman with four-year-old Baby Girl. Now before you faint from her ability as a four-year-old to not only think of a word, but spell it out mentally and provide the corresponding tick marks where each letter goes please know that this is not how this game works for her.

I love her dearly and think she’s a smart little cookie but she cannot spell. Well, that’s not true…she can spell her family’s names and her own name. Outside of that…don’t bet on it.

So, we played Hangman on the back of a paper kids menu while waiting for our dinner at a restaurant.

I went into this game the way I go into a hearty game of checkers with Baby Girl…there are no rules, but try to keep the game “looking” somewhat like it’s supposed to. She’s good with that. And also, when you play these games with her…really play them. She can spot a phony opponent a mile away.

So here we are…playing Hangman. Her rules are basically this:

She draws the Hangman noose apparatus thing? Then she draws out a bunch of tick marks where the letters go. She’s a fan of big words (read: a lot of tick marks). Sometimes it looks like I’m guessing the letters that make up a sentence. Now we are ready for the game to begin… well, a few snide remarks from Girl and/ or Boy Child about her inability to spell words followed by a quick admonishment from a parent and now we are ready to begin.

Occasionally, I do something outside of the rules and boy, she calls me on it…the little stickler! But, rules are rules so what are ya gonna do?! I say “oops, I forgot!” and we keep moving along.

Her sparkly eyes, her impish smile and her little elbows on the table…one hand holding up her head, the other hand playing impatiently with the crayon she has methodically chosen…

“Pick a letter, Mommy!” she says.

So I do…I pick a letter she loves to write. Lately, it’s the letter ‘R’. And without fail, that was a correct letter. Imagine that!

We go through this process many times and I pick the letters she loves to write…K, X, S, R, L, M (she knows this is Mommy’s favorite letter because, well, “MOMMY! That’s your letter!”)

Every once in a while, for the letters that aren’t in her current favorites list, she’ll say, “nope!” and start to draw the cutest hangman in the hanging thingy. And she’s giddy with delight!

Now for those of you who are sticklers to rules and playing by them, this game will kill you. Literally. Because what you have at the end of this fun game of Hangman is a bunch of letters that don’t spell anything. Although Baby Girl will tell you what it says…something like “Mommy is my best buddy” or “I love to eat yogurt”.

If you ever get the chance to play a game like this with a little one, put your OCD away for a bit and watch the magic unfold! It’s a beautiful thing to watch a little mind work.

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