On having big kids

I want to be sure to document some of the wonderful aspects of having nonbabies, so that when another baby comes along and we’re back to the intensity of that season, I can look back and say, “Okay good, I really appreciated that while I could.”

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Because I do appreciate it. I love it, actually. There is a whole lot of freedom in our daily life these days, and I’m extremely thankful to have this stretch before gearing up for Baby.

I look forward to having a baby in our family. I’m very excited. (In a hesitant, don’t-come-too-quickly sort of way.) So it’s not that I won’t be thrilled when the time comes for life to turn upside down. But for the moment, for the next 5 1/2 months, I want to celebrate this season.

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-We can read chapter books at bedtime (currently reading The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe).
-We can leave the house with little warning: no diaper bags, no feedings, no gear…just go.
-We can play board games as a family and fully expect that everyone will be engaged.
-I can get in the shower without even telling them. I just expect them to continue playing together.

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-We can let the kids play outside without hovering over them.
-We can go on walks without a stroller. Today the kids and I walked a mile, with Charlie on the balance bike and Lillian on foot. So easy!
-I can ask the kids to do something and they will likely know what I mean and how to do it. And usually they listen. :)
-We can take trips or spend the night away from home, and it doesn’t mess us up too much. It’s more an adventure and less a hassle.

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There are challenges in this season too, of course. And there will be unspeakable joys this winter with a wee one, of course. But I’m thankful for where we are right now. For these big kids I’ve got, for their growing independence, for the friendship between them, and for the joy in teaching their maturing minds. This is a sweet time.

Lillianisms

I could spend an entire day writing about Lillian and still not finish. This girl is a delight and a mystery!

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The older she gets (almost FOUR now!) the more witty she becomes. Jeff and I are constantly exchanging amused glances over something she has said. She makes us laugh and keeps us on our toes.

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Today especially, she’s been cracking me up. Here are a few examples.

- As we prepared to leave the house for preschool this morning:
“Backpack? Check! No jacket? Check! Beautiful day? Check!”

-Looking at pretend ballons in the sky on our way to drop off Charlie at school:
“It’s perfect! Do you know what’s in the sky? A Savior Jesus!”

-And on the way home from preschool:
“Daddy likes pink. Then why doesn’t Charlie like pink? He’s a stubborn kid!”

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And here are a few of my favorite words she says. I’ll be sad when she learns to pronounce them correctly!

-oapmeal (oatmeal)
-porehead (forehead)
[EDIT: I just quizzed her on those first two examples, and she pronounced them correctly. *sniff*]
-”t” sound in place of a hard “c,” which creates words like: yut (yuck), tate (cake), stool (school) [Jeff more accurately typed it "stchuwool"]
-”w” sound in place of “r,” such as libwrewwy (library) and Chawlie (Charlie)

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Two more favorite things about Lillian in this season:

-She’s so affectionate. Generally on her own terms, but she’s almost always ready for a cuddle. I snort-laugh when she sticks her face right in mine, with her little hands on my cheeks, and smothers me with kisses. It’s heaven.

-She’s very excited about being a big sister, and I know she’ll be a great one. She loves to comment on my belly (“Mommy, your belly is getting fat!”) and sit next to me and talk to Baby (“Hello, are you in there?”). I can’t wait to see her and Charlie when they cuddle this baby for the first time.

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An evening of firsts

After dinner last night, I watched through the kitchen window as Charlie rode his bike with no training wheels for the first time. I admit I had to wipe away a few tears. Charlie has always been our sensitive kid, uneasy with change and unwilling to try anything unknown. For the past year he’s been riding a balance bike (Lillian’s, actually. She currently prefers the teeny-tiny “Mickey Train.”), and he would have happily continued with that all summer. But Jeff was just sure he could handle his own bike, sans training wheels. I knew that one fall in the learning process could be incredibly traumatic for Charlie, so I was nervous and skeptical. Which is why I couldn’t stop the tears of surprise and pride and joy as I watched Charlie pedal away from Jeff with no trouble at all. Way to go, Cboy!

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A bit later a new neighbor came over with her five kids to introduce herself. After I told her my name, she asked, “And are you expecting?” This is the first time a stranger has commented on my expanding belly. The first of many.

Then we walked to the park. And for the first time, I watched Charlie as he got going pretty high in the swing and then jumped out onto the sand below. I couldn’t believe his confidence! He’s growing up, and this seems to be a magical season of turning points for him. Maybe this will be the summer he puts his head underwater in the pool?

Thankful in this season

The past few months have been very hard, but very joyful. Hard because I’m exhausted, napping two and three times a day, nearly incapable of performing basic household chores. Hard because I’m nauseous most of my waking hours. But joyful because, of course, there’s a reason for feeling so yucky. Baby #3 will be arriving in mid-November!

We’re very excited to welcome this little one into our family, and there’s so much I could rattle on about! But for now, just a few things I’m so grateful for during these months of the crummies:

-A very kind and patient husband who allows me extra sleep and the occasional night off of kid duty
-Very thoughtful and generous friends and family who have brought meals or offered babysitting help when I’ve felt extra needy
-A gap between Lillian and this baby! Lillian has been surprisingly understanding when I tell her that Mommy needs rest because Baby makes me tired. I’ll lie down in bed for a nap, and she’ll sit next to me paging quietly through stacks and stacks of books. My kids have long outgrown their naps, but I’m thankful that they’re independent enough to allow me some rest.
-A flexible work schedule. I’ve kept busy, but not overwhelmingly so. This comfortable pace has been a gift.
-A great first appointment with an OB I’d never met. I liked her and immediately felt at ease with her. And we heard Baby’s strong heartbeat and had a quick look at the sono. Everything looked great!

I’m ready for this stretch of the pregnancy to be over, but I’m constantly reminded of how well I’m being cared for in the midst of it.

Is it wrong to fear summer?

Last summer, I cried at the thought of Charlie being gone at school all day long. And I still hate it sometimes. I wish he were home more.

But now as summer approaches, I’m mildly terrified of his being home all day long. What will I do with him? He’s often quite needy and clingy, wanting someone to play with him every waking hour of the day. And I’m just not ready for an entire summer of dealing with that.

I know that being prepared will go a long way. Having plans of things to do, places to go, activities to try.

If you’ve stumbled upon this little blog and have any insight to offer, I’d love to hear it!

So we’re not morning people

Well hello, little blog!

Here’s a funny comparison of my expectations last fall of our new school schedule versus how the morning often plays out by now.

THE ANTICIPATED MORNING SCHEDULE (let’s say it’s a Tuesday morning)
7:15 Alarm: Jeff gets in the shower, I wake up Charlie.
7:16-7:41 Help Charlie get dressed, feed him breakfast, then scramble around getting him and Jeff out the door.
7:42 Jeff and Charlie leave for school.
7:43-8:09 I shower and get ready for the day.
8:10 Wake up Lillian (and Jeff returns).
8:11-8:44 Get Lillian dressed and fed, then scramble around readying for preschool.
8:45 Out the door.

REALITY (Not always, but embarrassingly often)
7:18 Alarm: Jeff takes a shower, I wake up Charlie.
7:19-7:44 Help Charlie get dressed, feed him breakfast, maybe pack him a lunch, then sit at the table like a zombie, pretending to be present in this one-on-one time with my son.
7:45 Jeff and Charlie out the door.
7:45:30 Crawl back into bed.
8:09 I hear the garage door open. Jeff comes into the room and collapses onto the bed.
8:09:30 We’re both sound asleep.
8:22 I wake and glance at the clock. Nope, back to sleep.
8:29 Drag my dead body out of bed. Wake Lillian. Jeff agrees to get her breakfast.
8:30-8:58 Scramble around getting myself presentable, while urging Lillian to put her clothes on and get her backpack ready.
8:59 Out the door.

Who’s the Boss?

We’ve known for a long while now that Lillian is going to challenge us. She has a will and a voice and a stubbornness, which add up to the occasional butting of heads. I’ll return to this in a moment.

I just finally finished a fantastic book by Pamela Druckerman, an American woman who is raising her children in Paris. She compares and contrasts the cultures of parenting in America and France. Not only is it a delightful read, but it also offers eye-opening nuggets of sound parenting wisdom. I decided to practice one of these on Lillian today.

According to Druckerman, French parents have a saying that translates, “It’s me who decides.” She says, “Parents say [this] to remind both their kids and themselves who’s the boss” (p. 226).

So, on our way home this afternoon after lunch with Jeff’s parents, Lillian was talking about things she wanted to do this afternoon. I said, “The very first thing we do when we get home is quiet room time, remember?”

She said, “No. I don’t want to do quiet room time.”

[My kids always always always protest quiet room time, but they pretty regularly seem to enjoy the alone time once it is forced upon them.]

I gave her my best Mommy-is-the-boss look, then said, “It’s Mommy who decides.”

She stared right back at me and responded, “It’s Lillian who decides.”

And Jeff, trying to drive, was in silent hysterics.

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Do you ever have a project on your to-do list that just doesn’t get done? This little nagging task that weighs on your mind, but you feel either too lazy or too incompetent or too busy to face it? This seems to happen frequently at our house. High on my list of neglected household tasks has been installing more smoke detectors in our home. We have one in the hallway by all the bedrooms that was here before we bought the house … and that’s it. Long ago we did buy additional smoke detectors, but they remained in unopened packages. Last year some time, I did prop one up in Lillian’s room when she decided she wanted to close her door at night. But that preference was short-lived. Finally last night, after scribbling this task on countless to-do lists over the past few years, I convinced Jeff to install them. And now it’s done! Just like that! As Lillian would say, “Y’hoo!”