Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Christmas chaos brings New Year's clean up

It is something I noticed long ago. Christmas presents tend to cover the house once opened and it takes extreme effort to put things in new places. With young children the problem intensifies because they are constantly wanting to pull out a new toy to play with. With our two year old the attention span between one toy and the next is approximately a minute, so the room becomes cluttered again very quickly. So over the next day or so, I will wage a war to bring order to the chaos once again. It's time to sort through the old toys to see what needs to be put away for later, what needs to be put in the bedroom, what needs to be in the living room, and how to consolidate everything into new orderly places. The two year old will still want to pull everything out to play with, but at least she won't have all of it in one spot to tempt her constantly. The tree will be coming down tonight and we can move the furniture back to its normal locations. We have to achieve some kind of order by the weekend so that I don't go crazy next week when my husband goes back to work.

I have definitely entered the "Ugh! How long can I carry around this child before he decides to come out" stage. I realize that it isn't time yet. We have five more weeks. But, I can't chase after the kids like I used to. I can barely get the normal household chores done (and only the most desperately needed at that). I tire out every few minutes and I need naps more than the kids do. So next week will feel like a marathon. My husband will be back at work and my parents won't arrive to help out until the following week. I will have to get the kids back to a normal (non-holiday) routine after they have been thoroughly spoiled. I also have to find baby sitters for while I go to two appointments that week. On the plus side, I'll be so busy it will go by quickly.

So, it is vital that I bring order to the chaos this week. Clutter affects my moods and makes me cranky and depressed. If I feel like the house is in order, I will be able to make it through the tough spots easier. After all... if Momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy.

Friday, December 22, 2006

The Ballet and the importance of field trips

Since we are homeschooling, one thing we are trying to do is arrange various field trips for our daughter. It is tricky getting good age-appropriate ones for a four year old. However, when our daughter started getting hooked on anything ballet, we thought it would be good to go see the Nutcracker this Christmas. She was able to see her first ballet this evening, and her imagination is going to be full of it for some time to come. It was a very nice production and very magical to the eyes of a four year old. We were a little worried that she would freak out during the applause since she usually does. However, we talked about it before hand and she actually clapped some herself a few times. When she didn't, she at least refrained from going into the screaming tantrum she usually goes for. One thing we forgot about was the type of seats you find in auditoriums like that. She is a little light for those seats that flip up. One of us had to hold it down for her so she didn't get swallowed up. Overall, it was a great experience for her and an enjoyable one for us.

She has been wanting to be a dancer and dances to just about any music, so showing her what it really looks like seemed to be a good thing to us. It also helped that she is already familiar with the music thanks to Disney's Fantasia. I guess the next step will be a preschool level dance class (once she masters the potty training). That will be where the rubber meets the road. Will our headstrong daughter take instruction on how to do something? Or will she insist on doing things her own way and therefore lose any benefit a class could give her? I'm not sure which way she will go. I can see her doing well, because it is something she loves. But, I can also see the possibility that her lazy side will decide that it is too much work. We would love for her to put in the work and do well at dancing, but it is still extra-curricular as far as we are concerned. If she tries it and then decides against it we will let her stop, but only if she has put in the required work for that class series. With her personality, we will have to work extra-hard to instill disciplined habits.

We would also love it if our kids learned a musical instrument and developed their art skills. They will need some kind of sport, martial art, gymnastics or dance to get in the physical education aspect of schooling(a walk in the neighborhood is a nice start, but doesn't do enough in the long run). We think we have the basics of reading, writing and arithmatic covered OK. My husband's strong point is music, literature, and science. My strong point is history, theology and research. That covers a wide range of topics, so we keep coming up with wish lists of other things we would like to teach our kids to put the icing on the cake so to speak. One thing we still have to decide is languages other than English (should we do modern languages or classical languages for example). Should we require the musical instrument instruction or be satisfied with some other type of music instruction should they not be interested when we think they should be? (So far they love it when Daddy brings out the harp for them to play on). So, we get off onto tangents thinking about the future schooling of our kids from time to time. We have to bring ourselves back to reality by reminding ourselves that our oldest child is just four. We have time to work it all out. If we keep our education goals in mind, we will do just fine.

So, for a four year old, field trips that expose her to new and interesting things are a good thing. We are going to try to do something once a month. January we are thinking of a snow trip (since we are fairly close to some nice snowy mountains). What better way to introduce the concepts of seasons, weather, and even some basic physics than sliding down a snowy hill. Mommy will need family or friend volunteers to go with Daddy and the kids for that one. Too close to my due date to be heading into the mountains. We haven't figured out February's trip yet, but I suspect it will be the visit to the hospital to meet child number three (and lots of discussions about babies and families). Once things are growing again in spring we were thinking of a visit to a farm (seasons again, animals, crops, and the way we get our food). Sometime in summer, we could do a beach trip (seasons, oceans, different geography). I'm not sure she's ready for the local fire station yet. We may save that one for next year. One other thing that the field trips are good for is to get us adults out of our routines and do something adventurous.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Life's surprises

Just when things seem to be going smoothly and I'm tempted to be complacent, something comes up to throw me off balance again. This morning my picture perfect pregnancy had a hiccup of sorts. Bleeding that shouldn't have been there. Turns out everything is fine. We just need to be on the lookout for any further problems. It also changes our plans to go out of town for the holidays. After my previous pregnancy ending in a miscarriage, I was constantly second guessing and worrying early in this one. Once the baby started kicking like crazy, I stopped being such a worrier. This was more what I was accustomed to in my pregnancies. Now I find myself tempted to start worrying again. I suppose that this is where faith comes in. Without knowing what is going on, without knowing what is coming in the future, we just have to trust God to take us from point A to point B whether that involves good or bad. It is hard to do sometimes (especially for a planner and control freak like myself), but there is also a comfort in it. And I have seen prayers make a difference in many different ways, so I'll be trying that therapy every time I'm tempted to worry again.

Monday, December 18, 2006


Somehow the Hallelujah Chorus seems appropriate now that our Christmas music program is over. The Christmas Cantata went well. We heard lots of good comments. We are still exhausted however. We had kept the kids up well past their bedtimes the last two nights and tonight, child number one asked "are we going anywhere tonight?" in a slightly apprehensive voice.

My husband, the music director of last night's performance (also known to some in the chorus as the song fairy since he arranged a good number of the songs in the performance) didn't get much chance to recover and had to be in to work 2 1/2 hours early this morning. The poor guy is terribly tired and the kids are making up for missed Daddy time. By the way, he wants to know which of you taught child number one to give her Daddy a wet willy (Uncle Rick?). Kids and chaos are reigning in our house tonight.

Notable recent quotes:
Child number one (at a recent singing practice): "Let's get out of here before something else happens."

Mommy (to child number one who is loudly complaining about her sister playing with her hair): "If you lay your head in your sister's lap, she has permission to play with your hair."

Child number two (frequently): "Again! Again! Again! Again! Again!..."

I am very happy to have the Cantata performance behind us. Now I can concentrate on Christmas craziness that needs to get done before we travel again for the holidays. Even so, I am trying to make it fairly simple. Too much stress during this time of year makes me sick, and I don't want to be sick when I'm so close to delivery time.

Well, that's all for tonight...

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Interesting family dynamics

We are frequently very amused by the antics of our two daughters. Especially as the younger one is getting old enough for her personality to start showing itself. Child number one is a serious child most of the time. She likes to have fun, mind you, but she also feels a desperate need to boss her sister around. On the other hand, Child number two is an action child. She loves to climb and loves anything with wheels. They will occasionally play together and have giggle parties. We have noticed though that it is the younger one who will dump water or leaves or what not on her sister's head. The younger one (only two) initiates pillow fights. Sometimes the older one thinks it's funny, sometimes she doesn't.

This brings me to a funny episode we had yesterday during a timeout. Which illustrates why we don't do timeouts in our family much. The older child received a timeout. This is a new discipline method for us, because our previous method didn't take her enough away from fun things to learn the lesson. However, up until yesterday, the timeouts had always occurred while child number two was down for a nap. This time child number one was placed in her chair and a timer set. Child number two sees this and proceeds to pull up a chair next to her sister. She seems to think it is a new game because she is happily sitting next to her sister in a timeout. Child number one, starts to freak out because she doesn't think her sister should be doing that. She breaks the rule of quiet during timeouts to try to stop her sister from imitating her timeout. It doesn't work and Mommy has to lengthen her timeout because she broke the rule of her timeout. So child number one has to sit in torment while her sister sits quietly next to her and Mommy has a hard time not laughing about it all. Needless to say, Mommy and Daddy had a good laugh over it after the kids were in bed.

We can see that the family dynamics between them will be very interesting in the coming years. Now, what will happen when baby number 3 arrives, will probably stir things up a bit.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Cloth diaper decision

OK, so I am blogging some more this week. After doing some research and talking to a few people, I have decided to go with cloth diapers for baby number 3. I may talk to a few friends I know who have used cloth diapers recently and know the various brands available now. But, unless I hear something to change my mind, I think we will be going a very basic and simple route. I'm leaning toward the flat-fold diapers that are one size fits all based on how you fold them. Plus some type of diaper cover that fits a little like a disposable (that way I don't need to use pins). I won't need to change my laundering system much from what I am currently doing with the cloth training pants. I think that the only thing that I haven't completely decided on yet is whether to go cloth 100% (such as while traveling and during errands) or to use the occasional disposable (like when we have a babysitter who doesn't know what to do with cloth diapers). If I can firm up these decisions in the next week or so, I'll be able to get the supplies and have one less thing on my to do list.

Some people may call it the nesting instinct, but my wanting to get things taken care of soon is really more of my personality type than anything else. (I was planning out my college courses back in Junior High. Yes that's right, I was actually trying to plan what to take which quarter. I know, it was highly unrealistic and had to rethink every time I changed career plans. But, that doesn't stop me.)

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Pleasant surprises

This is a hectic time of year for me. It always has been, but with my husband being the musical director of our church's Christmas program this year (and believe it or not, I'm singing in it at 7 1/2 months pregnant), that adds more stress than usual. I've been holding off on doing much Christmas shopping until after the program this Sunday. So, I was pleasantly surprised when I was out shopping yesterday for some needed clothes for myself, that I walked right by a stack of items that I wanted to get my husband for Christmas. I think that this is the first time since we got married that I got him a Christmas gift that he'll have to wait until Christmas to find out what it is. Up until now, we would agree on items ahead of time or do our shopping at together.

I also had pleasant surprises from my daughters today. Both did what they should for potty training. The older one actually stayed on the toilet long enough to poop there, and the younger one let me know that she pooped and wanted something done about it. It gives me hope.

And finally, My oldest daughter came up with the great idea of making an alphabet book. She likes to make books, but this was an actual coherent idea that she came up with all by herself. She made a page for each letter and drew pictures of things that start with that letter. She would ask me for ideas from time to time, but she was picky about what she would draw and came up with most of the ideas herself. I was especially impressed with "U is for Unicycle" and "V is for Volcano." She also took the time needed to do the whole thing in one sitting. She was working on it for about 3 hours straight (and I took a nap during about half of it). It is so nice when she decides to do something that interests her and is useful in either helping her learn or demonstrating what she has already learned. The homeschooling has been a little difficult to work in lately, so this was a breath of fresh air.

It would have been nice if the whole week was like this, but alas, it has had plenty of rocky moments. I probably won't blog much for the rest of the week. I have to work in a dentist appointment and extra rehearsals in an already busy schedule.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Simple pleasures

Today was child number two's second birthday. We had just a family birthday party and, except for a few little glitches (like the birthday girl being down for a nap for the first hour and a half of the party), I think a good time was had by all. She enjoyed opening her presents and playing with them. She is still into package ribbons and loved those as well. But, the thing that reminded me of the joy of simple pleasures was when we blew up seven birthday balloons this morning and showed her how to play with them. We bounced them. We bonked people with them. We had balloon wars with them. She had the biggest happiest grin on her face.

The balloons are temporary of course. They will all be gone in a day or two. However, considering how little I paid for them, they are a great treat for kids. There are many similar things to do with kids. My kids love to have an occassional half hour of bubble blowing. They love to go outside and play in the dirt/mud. They are in heaven if I take them to a local park that has swings.

I love to get toys that my kids will play with for years, but I have to remember not to overlook the little things, the simple pleasures, that make normal days special. Wouldn't it be nice if we all took the time to find the simple pleasures that make our adult lives feel special. I like to reread a favorite book on occassion or work on a craft project. Things that my sensible side tells me that I don't have time to do. But, I feel so much better after I've indulged in my little treat. What simple pleasures do you have that lighten your daily load? Do you ever do silly things like twirling across a grassy field singing "The hills are alive with the sound of music...." My husband does. We also like to make popcorn on Sunday nights when we come home from church. And, the everyday things that make us laugh are a treasure. If you haven't thought about these things lately, I hope you do. Take the time to enjoy a simple pleasure today.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Unexpected impressions

Do you ever discover that people have an impression of you that is not what you think of yourself. OK, so that happens all the time. I mean a drastically different impression. Just recently it has been brought to my attention that I am considered something of a health nut among some of my acquaintances. Oh, they haven't actually said anything of the sort. But, I have noticed that I will say or do something that seems perfectly normal to me, and they will respond in some way that tells me that what I said or did is completely alien to what they consider normal.

I think I first noticed hints of it among some other Moms of preschoolers when I mentioned that I was avoiding caffeine while pregnant or trying to get pregnant (I don't have it much anyway since I don't want to get addicted and then try to wean myself off again should I decide to get pregnant in the future). They couldn't imagine going without their coffee. Then I noticed similar reactions when I would mention to people that I tried to walk several times a week with the kids (In fact I didn't do this until I had kids. They like the outings and it keeps me from feeling too cooped up). Now that I'm getting fairly late in my current pregnancy, the walks don't happen as often and I count a trip to the grocery store as exercise. My family went on an outing to a community event recently with friends and had the choice of standing in a long line to ride a shuttle bus or walk close to a mile. Our friends were puzzled that I, the pregnant woman, chose to walk. They kept asking me if I was OK or if I needed a rest. This so astonished me that I began to realize that I really must be different.

I have never considered myself to be any kind of health nut. I walk because I enjoy it and it helps in my kids routine. I avoid caffeine because it is recommended when pregnant. I have never dieted or followed food fads. I use the good old four food groups to teach my kids healthful eating and think the food pyramid should be trashed as way too complicated. I don't care if my food is organic or has anti-oxidants. I buy my food based on what is easy to prepare and relatively inexpensive. I eat large portions and add bacon fat to my vegetables. I eat when I'm hungry and stop when I'm not (that applies when I'm pregnant, too). I do try to keep myself to the same rules that I give my children and eat a variety of foods at each meal (3 of the 4 food groups before any dessert). If I didn't, they would call me on it. I don't exercise excessively (unless taking care of a preschooler and toddler can be called excessive exercise).

So, when did my normal behavior (in my eyes) turn into weird behavior to so many people I encounter? I do admit that I have always been a little abnormal. But, growing up, it always seemed to me that I had the surface appearance of normal, which became dispelled once people got to know me. Now, somehow the surface appearance of normal is starting to dissipate. It makes me wonder, am I really changing much? Or is it that the world is changing around me? I suppose that it is possible that both are happening. It is just a little startling when you realize that you don't fit the categories anymore that you thought you did. Hopefully the changes are for the better.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Home at last

We returned home today and are glad to be here. It's tough to be gone for a week with small children even when you have help. I also sleep worse when I am away from home (even though I was at my parents' house, sleeping in my old bedroom). So, I'll try to keep this posting fairly short and try for an earlier bedtime tonight (it doesn't usually work, but I'm not usually this tired).

Thanks to those who have given me input on the cloth diaper issue. I'll be checking out those websites soon. I'll have to do a lot of things soon, seeing as my count down is now at 9 weeks to go. On a daily basis, that is a lot of time. In the grand scheme of things, Yikes! it's almost time.

For those following our homeschooling posts, We have managed to keep up the schooling fairly well while traveling. In fact my daughter was starting to get tired of the same old toys and games and was asking for schoolwork on her days off. We have a smallish plastic file box that we keep the current homeschooling supplies in. It has folders for a lesson plan book, the current main lesson book, supplemental workbooks, coloring books, drawing paper, writing paper, construction paper, stickers, a ruler and a small box holding pencils, pens, tape, glue, scissors, etc. I have found this a useful system for me. I keep it up to date easily, since it is used nearly every day. As she finishes one book, I replace with new ones that I've been storing in the closet until they are needed. When we go on a trip, I just pick up the whole box and put it in the car. The craft items are also useful when we go places where she will need entertaining. Since she is still so young and I am just a few months into homeschooling, I use the lesson plan book more for recording what she actually does rather than planning out the lessons ahead of time. My theory is that I can use it to set goals and create a broad outline, then look back over the year to see what specific progress has been made. Then I can use that information to better plan for the next year. I fully expect that as we go from year to year, the planning will become more detailed and it will turn into a true lesson plan book where I chart out the lessons ahead of time. Right now goals and flexibility are the order of the day. One upcoming challenge I see is how to adjust the learning schedule when the new baby comes. It is tempting to take a break from homeschooling for that time, but I don't want to break a good habit that we have been developing. I'm thinking of switching gears some (since she will have recently finished her current lesson series on phonics) and do a lot more reading practice. She will probably enjoy the attention and the stories, the parents and grandparents can do it easily, and most important she will still be learning. If anyone else has some ideas about this, feel free to share them.

Well, that's all for now. G'night.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Diaper issues

I have made various comments in my blog about the fact that potty training has been a trial. My oldest child is now four and still resisting finishing her potty training. I have noticed that my second child who will turn two in a week is developing the same habits as her sister did. Both were in disposable diapers as infants and began official potty training at about two. Neither seems to care when their pants get soiled or wet. This has gotten me to think more seriously about using cloth diapers with child number three who is due in early February. I am already washing out cloth pants with my oldest so I have passed through the grossness barrier I felt when I was a new parent.

What I would like is if anyone who reads this who has experience with cloth diapers and potty training thereafter would give me their opinions and share their experiences. I am hoping to make up my mind about this in the next month so that I can get the supplies I will need either way. So, tell me what worked for you, what you liked or didn't like. I want to get my kids on track with potty issues earlier than has happened with my first child.

Friday, December 01, 2006

More on the chaos front

Traveling to visit with grandparents is a great challenge to the daily routine. I feel that I have accomplished a lot to miss only one day's homeschooling so far. I think the kids play harder when they are with grandparents. They seem to think after a few days that new experiences should be the order of the day. We have managed to keep the limit on videos to two a day, same as at home, despite the pressure that all the adults in the house are more exhausted than the kids by evening. We have put the kids down for bed a half hour early every night and they have been sleeping late by at least another half hour. We have found that an outing of some kind, even if it is getting groceries, helps cut down on the cabin fever problem. However, the adults find that we don't get a lot accomplished. That shouldn't be much of a surprise when there is a four year old and a nearly two year old around. I find myself astonished at the people who manage to run home-based businesses in similar circumstances. They must not sleep much. As it is, I am just averaging about 6 hours a night when I would prefer 10 (seven months pregnant now). Though, much of my staying up late has nothing to do with housework or business. There is also a difference between having very little energy and being sleepy. So, today I will feel that I will have accomplished a lot if I manage to get the kids a bath.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

If we could harness childhood energy...

It is amazing how much energy children have. I have heard a theory that they have the same amount as adults, though with adults it is spread wider since we are bigger. Today, I attempted to tire out my toddler. We went on a shopping outing since we were all due for some new athletic shoes. After that was lunch. After lunch we went to the park to play on the swings (parks with swings are wonderful, by the way). She also played on the slides and the little horses on a spring. Then she walked all the way back to the house (about half a mile). Back at the house there was a pile of leaves waiting to be played in. She and her sister were having a blast. By the time we came back inside it was 2:30 pm (about half an hour after her late naptime). Mommy got a phone call and she was running around playing. It was about 3:00 before she got down for a nap. She went willingly (though she usually does). Would you believe that she only slept an hour and a half? At this age, her older sister took three hour naps on a regular basis.

The older child doesn't take naps anymore (though she sometimes konks out on an especially tiring day if I put in the car to go somewhere). Both kids are fairly energetic. My oldest currently wants to be a ballerina and will dance for hours, music or no music. She has always been pretty active too. Although, they get video time which is often seen as couch potato fodder and leading more kids to obesity. My kids manage to eat well (though pickily) and burn off the energy so well that they are average weight or less for their age while being very tall (95th percentile at least).

Mommy remembers her childhood and I was much the same as a preschooler. I was always tall and thin too. But, from mid-elementary school on, I tended to be a tired kid (I had anemia issues). However, although I like to be fairly active and go for walks, I do not have nearly the energy I need to be active at the same level as my kids. There are times that I wonder if I am absolutely insane to be having more kids. Then I shake myself out of it and tell myself that I may not have their energy but I can use my cunning. That will have to carry me through until they hit the tired years like us old folks

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

In a slump

Not much for blogging today. The only idea I came up with was troubles with potty training. And, I don't think you want to hear about it. Really, you don't.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Travel miscellanea

First I would like to thank Anonymous for the first ever comment made on my blog!

Next, today's topic is travel miscellanea. During the holidays, we do a good bit of travel (mainly to visit relatives). We have discovered a few things about ourselves when we travel.

For one thing we enjoy road trips. My husband and I found that we get to have long meandering conversations on road trips. There is no time for that during a normal day. Also, I really hate travelling by airplane (part control issue, part motion-sickness issue). Another benefit to road trips is that there is usually some small adventure or funny thing that happens along the way. Much to our satisfaction, our kids travel fairly well. Part of that is probably because we do two hour trips on a fairly regular basis. The longer ones happen at least once if not twice a year. We have always brought the kids with us since they were infants, so they have had plenty of time to get used to it. So far we have been able to keep them entertained without resorting to a portable DVD player.

Another thing we have discovered is that we always manage to forget something, no matter how well we plan ahead. Most of the time it is something small that we can live without for a few days (On this last trip I forgot my prenatal vitamins). Occasionally, we have to make a trip to a store to pick up a real necessity (We forgot deodorant on our honeymoon).

We don't take many pictures on our travels. We keep forgetting the camera, for one thing. But, even when we remember the camera, we forget to keep it handy for those picture perfect moments that are gone so soon.

It doesn't matter where we stop for a meal, it will take at least an hour to finish and get back on the road. We've tried packing snacks and stopping at rest stops, stopping at fast food restaurants, and stopping at slower sit down restaurants. Between food, restroom trips, various diaper issues, and baby feeding issues when the kids were infants, it would usually take at least an hour per stop. This is very frustrating on a longer trip.

The older the kids get, the easier it is to pack for them. The clothes get simpler and are less likely to get horribly messed up on the trip. The sleeping arrangements get more compact in size and are easier to take along. The kids start needing the same type of toiletries as the rest of the family. Bottles makes way for sippy cups then cups with a straw and finally water bottles. It is a blessed day when you can pass a snack back to the kids while you drive without undue concern for choking issues or messes. I look forward to the day when I can have potty trained kids to simplify the travel that much more.

This year's holiday travel is a bit tougher, since I'm pregnant. My doctor wants me to stop and walk around every hour on a long trip. I'm in the very uncomfortable stage of the pregnancy, so I don't sleep well away from home (I have trouble sleeping well at home too). Also, some of the travel is with just me and the kids, so I have to plan ahead and do driving when I am at my most clear-headed (afternoons are out since that is my sleepiest time).

All in all, we do enjoy our travels. The visiting, fun, and discovery at the other end, make the bumps in the road worthwhile.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Kids have such a way with words

I love the wonderful things my daughter says. This is child number one that I am talking about, as child number two is just beginning to be comprehensible. She has been coming up with howlers for a long time now. Lately, they are a combination of funny and philosophical. She calls 'em as she sees 'em. Lots of kids have this talent. Some more than others. I like to think our child is above average in this area. Before she turned two, a thoughtful relative gave us a journal for writing down interesting things a child may say. We have used it quite a bit.

Our firstborn is the star of the book so far, but her little sister has a few entries already. We have even had to add some things that Mommy and Daddy said (parents sometimes say funny things too). For this blog, I thought that I would share with you some of our favorites.

At 17 1/2 months: "Mama! Cow... moo... Sing!" (her way of requesting another round of Old MacDonald)

At 2 1/2 years: (She stops eating her ice cream, raises her spoon high in the air and says) "I am a woman."

"I'll say it loud...Moo!"

"Praise the Lord with snacks!"

"God plants cheese in our hearts."

At 3 years: "I want to snuggle." Daddy responds, "so what's the difference between a snuggle and a cuddle?" Child number one says after a pause, "seven."

(wearing her Halloween costume) "I am a cow. Mooing makes me happy."

(while playing with a toy Noah's Ark) "We need a potty-time before we go in the ark."

(Completely out of the blue) "Mommy, is it all about you?"

(around election time) Daddy said, "In about 15 years you will be able to vote." Child number one responds, "And, I'll use a hammer!"

At nearly 4 years: "I think it's too normal for us."

(during a prayer) "And dear Lord, we bless you and bless you until you sneeze."

(After receiving a sticker while getting a flu shot) Daddy said, "Would you like me to put it on your chest?" Child number one responds, "No. I want you to put it on my shirt."

"Daddy, come here. I need your appendix."

And her latest one tonight was about Mommy's changing appearance because of the pregnancy:
"Your belly is getting bigger and bigger and bigger and bigger and wider and wider and wider and wider."

Needless to say, these sayings have been a source of much laughter among family and friends. We are looking forward to her sister coming up with some soon. Though, child number one is now very aware that we write down the funny things said and suggests that we write down a few things that we say from time to time. We have found that if we don't write something down right away, we forget it too fast. We definitely recommend this if you have a kid or just someone in your life who is gifted with the ability to say really funny things from time to time. It is fun to look at it every few months to get a good laugh. It also causes us to wonder what the future holds for this child. She definitely has a remarkable vocabulary and has a way with language. We wonder if she will be able to retain the humor as she grows up (since most of the funny stuff was unintentional). We hope so. We dearly love a good laugh.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Thanksgiving hindsight

Hello all,

I noticed that I was so busy preparing to travel for Thanksgiving, that I didn't reflect on thankfulness much until we got back today. We spent time with my side of the family this year for Thanksgiving. It felt to me like it had been so long since the whole family was together. My brother and sister-in-law have been the hosts for Thanksgiving for many years now and they do a wonderful job. We live close enough that we could drive to the grandparents the morning of, and give the kids playtime before the gathering for the evening meal. There was a little bit of family representing both sides for my brother and his wife totaling thirteen at table. It was a pleasant evening of visiting and catching up. Since my family is from out of town and we don't see my sister-in-law's step-mother very often, there was plenty of visiting to do. Child number one and child number two were able to be easily amused before dinner. And, thanks to their cousin, were able to be amused after dinner enough not to disrupt the adults from their visiting. It was a pleasant evening, and I can say that I am thankful for a family that I like to spend time with.

The day after Thanksgiving, we took the kids to the Children's Discovery Museum in San Jose. They absolutely loved it. Neither one wanted to leave after being there nearly two hours. The only thing that could consol them was going back to have lunch with their grandparents. We had another day of play and came home this morning.

I'm thankful that our kids travel so well. I'm glad that they enjoy spending time with their grandparents. I only wish could travel as well. I found that I never could get enough rest, even with three other adults helping with the kids and naps as well. This too shall pass.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Construction paper...a magical substance

It has dawned on my husband and me that construction paper can be used for making just about everything (as far as a four year old with a good imagination is concerned). Several months back, child number one was adamant that she wanted to paint (before we had any in the house). To calm her down, I created a palette of paints and a paintbrush out of construction paper. She played with it for days.

However, that incident opened her eyes to the possibilities. We have made many things out of construction paper since then. An arrow, a badmitton set, a road construction cone, and red toe shoes are some of the more interesting items. Of course there are obvious drawbacks. Paper doesn't last long. A few minutes in child number two's clutches and the toy is no longer recognizable. The toe shoes lasted only about 15-30 minutes from normal wear and tear.

From the parent's point of view other problems come up. There is the need for parental assistance to make these wonderful objects of play and then the storage issue when child number one wants to treasure them forever. Needless to say, the destroyed toys are thrown out for obvious reasons. Child number one has not figured out yet that these fragile toys disappear when she stops playing with them. Eventually, I think I need to teach her to thin out her belongings from time to time. For now, this is the less painful way. She has a lot of her daddy in her, and he hates to get rid of things.

On the whole, one package of construction paper is worth a lot more than its purchase price for the hours of entertainment it provides. It ranks up there with large appliance boxes. And, we haven't even introduced paper airplanes yet.

Monday, November 20, 2006


I do not like to cook. I have never liked to cook. But, on those rare occasions when I develop an urge to cook, it usually involves baking. This is usually an extra rare thing, because I'm not into sweets or deserts very much.

However, as mentioned in previous posts, I am six months pregnant right now. This is my fourth pregnancy and the first one where I seem to be wanting sweets. Every time I go to the grocery store I am tempted to buy all sorts of things that I don't need. I usually forgo the extras, but today at the store the pumpkin pies were a great price, so I bought one.

When we get home, child number one is wanting to claim a reward for pooping in the toilet earlier that morning. Until recently we would let her have some computer game time, but that no longer interests her. I give her some alternative choices, and she came up with baking. During the last month or two, we have given her the opportunity to assist us with some baking (usually with her Daddy). She has helped make cakes, cookies, pies, scrambled eggs, and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. This is a great way to introduce so many useful ideas to her. I consider cooking to be a course in beginning physics and chemistry. She helps count. She learns about measuring and fractions. Not to mention how you can combine ingredients together to create something new. She even loves helping cook things that she has no intention of eating. So today we agreed on a recipe of cranberry-orange muffins. They turned out nicely (except slightly overdone so that they stuck to the muffin papers. She did decide that she liked them enough to eat one as her lunch-time dessert instead of her Halloween candy. Mommy eats one too, and then inherits child number two's muffin. (since child number two is a picky eater and difficult to predict. She thought she wanted a muffin until she tasted it.)

As a result, I'm feeling good that I accomplished a baking task with my daughter. Then comes nap time, school work, and video time and Mommy is still hungry. We have enough leftovers in the refrigerator that I don't need to cook dinner, but I'm wanting sweets. I want another dessert. We have pumpkin pie. We have muffins. We have Halloween candy. We have ice cream in the freezer. But it's not enough. I have the fixings for apple pie that I've been meaning to make. I have a wonderful recipe. The kids are enjoying a favorite video that is nice and long. I can peel and cut apples while I watch the video with them. Apple pie is easy to make (especially as I just happen to have some ready made crusts in the freezer). I succumbed to the temptation and we ended up with more desserts than we needed for dinner tonight. My husband is not complaining. However, my Ob/Gyn may wonder about the amount of weight I'm gaining at my next visit. Last time around I used the excuse that it was the holidays. Oh yeah, I guess it is again.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Christmas is coming...

I was driving home tonight, when child number one brought up the fact that there were a lot more lights on the road than usual. We drive past a major shopping mall on our way home from church and they have put up their Christmas lights recently. I have been well aware that the holidays are coming. For our family, the holidays start after Labor day. My husband is heavily involved in our church's Christmas music program and that requires early preparations and practice for it beginning in September. Child number one has a birthday in October. Then there is Halloween (costumes, candy and bounce houses) which is always a favorite with the kids. November brings Thanksgiving (on Grandpa's birthday this year) with family visiting. After that, child number two has a birthday in December, followed soon after by Christmas and more family visiting. This is our busiest time of year so I have been planning ahead as usual.

With all this in mind, it felt a little strange to hear my kids exclaiming over the Christmas lights tonight. I've got my schedule in mind, but forgot how the kids see it. It is new to them every year at this age. Each year they relearn what the holidays are at a different level. They live so much in the present that the prolonged nature of the holiday season is torture when they realize that something they want is coming. But, at the same time the length also prompts constant questions and repetition of stories and traditions. Maybe that is why this time of year is the favorite for so many people. They are inundated with things they like for a longer time than just a one day holiday.

Thinking this over, I started to wonder if I need to look at it from their perspective a little more. Maybe, I need to spend more time on the little enjoyable things that are easier to do every day. I could think more about what I want them to learn about relationships, giving, faith, and life. I could try coming up with ideas for how they can participate more at their age/ability level, so they are not just receiving but giving as well. Who knew that a mall's christmas lights would get me thinking profound thoughts. Usually, I would have seen them as crass comercialism.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Under construction and lots of dirt

I may have mentioned in passing that our backyard is periodically under construction. Since the winter rain has started, the ground is now soft enough for digging. So, we have started our next yard project. We are going to put in a pathway and patio. The digging is preparing for the foundation, upon which we plan to put pavers. It is going to be a challenge finding enough places to put the dirt. Some dirt is going into last year's terrace project that needed just a little more. Some is going to level out some low spots in the yard. A lot will be going into the garden and orchard area (it has some very uneven spots). We may ask our neighbors if they need any extra dirt. But, we expect that we will need to take load or two to the dump.

It is both amusing and nerve-racking to watch our daughters play outside during these construction times. We have stakes with twine stretched throughout the yard outlining the project area. The girls love playing with the string. But at least they aren't tripping over it any more. So, Daddy has to retie broken strings once or twice a play session. It is also hard to keep track of what they are doing since Mommy and Daddy (while present) are both busy doing jobs during the increasingly rare, nice weekend weather. Today the kids were enjoying sitting in the ditches that Daddy has dug. Child number two although not yet two, figured out how to climb into a wheelbarrow all by herself. Child number one decided her sister's hood was a handy container for dirt. They discovered that worms are wiggly. They love to climb all over the dirt piles in our garden area. They rock climb the terrace wall to explore up there (usually a nice place to find sticks and weeds). Child number one got to help by playing with the landscaping rake to smooth out dirt in the places we wanted it. They still don't like taking turns or sharing things. I found myself saying, "there's enough dirt for everyone" and "please give your sister her worm back." The kids love playing outside. I would usually let them play outside more often, but between the rain and the construction. They only get to go out there on the weekends when both parents are available. They got a good two hours of outdoor play today while Mommy raked leaves and Daddy dug and moved dirt. Our green waste barrel is now full and the ditch for the pathway is about one third completed. So it was a good day for everyone. We just had to strip the kids clothes off as we brought them in. I did remember to check child number two's hood... a handful of dirt, some dead grass, and a live worm.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Change, constant change

I like it when life is predictable. I like routine. I can relate to Bilbo Baggins' comment about adventures: "Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner!" The kids like routine, too. But, we all know that life is full of change.

Now, I have noticed that if I change my kids routine, they will usually complain. Afterwards, however, they may decide that they liked the change and want it to be part of the permanent routine. If my kids decide to change things in my routine, I tend to want to straighten out things and put it back the way it was. Even though I know in my heart and mind that if the kids are wanting a change, it is probably because they are ready for it and it might be a good thing.

For instance, our video routine (We don't own a T.V.). I allow each child to choose one video to watch (daily schedule allowing for it) each day. We have an assortment of Baby Einstein, Veggietales, Baby Faith, and some animated movies. My husband has shown concern that this is too much video time for the kids, especially when they both choose long videos. But, I have noticed a pattern. Our kids (and I suspect most kids follow this pattern) will develop favorites that they watch constantly, then suddenly with no warning they change their favorites. I don't like the idea of using videos as a baby sitter, so I try not to treat them as such and watch them with the kids and talk about them. But, I do come and go during the video, so I can get a few things done around the house. When both kids are on a long video kick, I've noticed that the day seems awfully short, but I can get more done. That leaves me with mixed feelings. I like getting more done, but am I filling their minds with drivel. When both kids are on a short video kick, the day lasts forever, and I am exhausted and tired of the kids' demands by the evening. Right now, they have settled down to a reasonable compromise between them. Child number one is hooked on Fantasia and child number two is hooked on Baby MacDonald (The Baby Einstein video about the farm). My husband is OK with Fantasia. He calls it "an effective classical music delivery device." Baby MacDonald is a good learning video, too. I also find that the stories they learn from their videos are good vocabulary builders and give them building blocks for creating their own stories. So, I let them memorize them to their hearts' content and try not to get upset if I wanted them to choose something different to fit in with what I wanted my routine to be.

Another example is computer games. We have three games from the "Jumpstart" series that the kids seemed to like. In fact we used to use game time as a reward. The first game is for ages 18 months to 3 years (Toddlers) -- A perfect fit for child number two. She enjoyed it for 3 or 4 months on a once or twice a week basis. She was making progress on using a computer mouse and the activities seemed to be right on target with her development level. The problem is that she decided that she likes the more advanced games her sister plays more which are completely beyond her ability level. The second game was for 2-4 year olds (Preschoolers). Child number one enjoyed this for several months as a reward, but it was obvious that her skills were developing beyond it, and it was getting boring to her. Child number two likes to watch her sister play it, but can't do it herself yet. So, the third game came into the picture which is designed for 4-6 year olds (Kindergarten). Child number one loved it and would cry when she had to stop playing. Child number two loves to watch her sister play this one too. However, this game has a paint program that sucked in our art lover to the exclusion of the learning games. Child number two only likes to watch the learning games. Today for the first time, child number one didn't want to play the game as her reward (not even the art that she loves). Instead she decided to make some games. She drew two board games on paper as well as getting Mommy to help her make a "disk" game (like what goes in the computer, except made out of construction paper). So are computer games suddenly of no interest? I suspect this is just a temporary change (She thinks some of her Mommy and Daddy's computer games are interesting too). I'll have to get out her board games for her reward I think. Or, maybe her reward needs to be an art project.

So, I need to be flexible. Accept change when it comes. As my husband just told me after reading the above, "In the long run, the only solutions that work are the creative ones." I can't say that I'm sorry that my daughter wants to make her own toys, games and books. She has an excellent imagination. I want to foster that. My younger daughter is starting to do more imaginative play too. She is also learning to talk very quickly. Every day I'm surprised by something she says that I didn't know she knew yet. If she is devouring information without the benefit of "educational toys", who am I to slow her down.

Of course, I push changes on them from time to time. I suppose, ideally, if I display an ability to handle change well, they will pick that up from me. Let's hope so.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Out of Order

(As dictated in a near catatonic state to her dutiful husband)

This blog is down for a little R&R. Too many late nights blogging in a row resulted in cumulative sleep deprivation. Good night.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


This past fall, I have started to homeschool my oldest child. My husband and I had talked about the possibility even before we had kids, but for the longest time I was hesitant. I wasn't sure that I had what it takes. I knew that between the two of us, we are well educated and have lots of teaching ability in various areas. But, somehow the responsibility of schooling your own child when all you have experienced was public school and a mix of public and private colleges is daunting. People who were schooled in a certain way tend to think about schooling following that pattern. It is sometimes very hard to think outside the box.

The things that finally decided it for me were as follows:

1. Child number one has always been way out of sync with her age mates. She knew her 50 states by shape and location two weeks after her second birthday thanks to a map puzzle she was given, though she had some creative ways of pronouncing them (New Hamster was my favorite). She spontaneously started to sound out words around her at age 3 1/2. She could also count to one hundred by age 3. She has always had an enormous vocabulary for her age. She loves poetry and memorized a 65 line poem her Daddy read her from the Lord of the Rings. There was no way that this kid was going to fit in the traditional public school setting.

2. We visited this summer with my husbands Uncle and Aunt who homeschool their kids (not many years older than ours) and got to talk to them about what they do and what does a typical day of homeschooling look like. I got ideas about how flexible homeschooling can be. How it isn't as labor intensive as I feared (or doesn't have to be). Talking with them sort of opened a door to the possibilities for me.

3. There is a homeschool supply store near our house that I would drive by all the time. I stopped in one day and picked up a book that was basically an introduction to homeschooling kids ages 3-8. It was a one time read type of book rather than a resource that I would continually be looking back on. But it helped me see what working with a preschool age kid would be like, and how I had been homeschooling her from birth but didn't realize it. I think the key point that I took away was that kids that age want to learn and the homeschooling parent's job is to help them do that and not stifle it.

4. The store mentioned above also holds a "How to Homeschool" meeting once a month for interested parents. By the time my husband and I went to the meeting, we had done our homework and knew most of what was presented. I think we felt encouraged that we aren't the only ones trying to figure out how to educate our kids in the way that is best for them. We now know about some resources that will help us out in making our decisions.

5. My husband has found many resources online that have given us ideas of what to try with our child.

So this past August, feeling pumped to get started, I just started doing a little "school-work" with her every weekday (on weekends only if she asks for it). We are now nearly four months into it and I have learn a lot about how my daughter thinks, what works and what doesn't. She is making progress. She could read a little before we started, but now she can read better and doesn't get as frustrated as she used to. She doesn't feel the need to guess all the time when faced with a new word and can sound them out better. She has started learning some basic arithmetic. Her writing is more legible and she is starting to put spaces to separate her words. She loves art and wants to draw, color and paint all the time. I've been impressed how without any help she is developing ability to draw detail of a face (I love the way she does noses... it's like an exclamation point followed by a period). She varies the intensity of the color by coloring lighter or heavier. She mixes colors. She is starting to grasp some basic perspective by drawing some things behind others. Did I mention that she turned 4 less than a month ago?

I have learned that she may be advanced academically in some ways, but she is very much a 4 year old emotionally and socially (maybe even slightly behind on those). She has the 4 year olds' inability to stay still for very long. She has a remarkable attention span for her age, but only on things that she finds interesting (like art, stories, and music). She needs a lot of physical activity and doesn't get as much as she needs (I try tricycle rides in the neighborhood, parks with swings on occasion, and our backyard is good except when it is under construction). So, she dances ballet (her version of it) in the living room and climbs on everything. She gets social interaction a lot (socialization is one of the first things people bring up with homeschoolers). She is in Bible classes with her peers every time our church has them (4 times a week, actually). We attend a weekly meeting for Moms with an excellent child care program where she gets most of a morning of play time with kids her age (including playground time). She has lots of adults and kids of all ages who like to play with her and talk with her. With all of this social interaction we have learned that you can't make an introvert and extrovert. Our child is an extreme introvert. She isn't really shy, she is just in her own little world. The world going on around her is minor to her compared to what is going on in her own head. We see that she has made some progress. When people talk to her, she may actually respond to them on the same topic now instead of letting them in on the conversation going on in her head. But conversations with her are still pretty surreal. She is even picking up some things that the other kids do (typical I understand, but rarely desirable) so she must be paying some attention.

Right now, I find the biggest challenge with homeschooling is to give her the academics she is ready for (kindergarten and first grade) in a way her preschool body can cope with. Mainly I keep the structured part of the schooling down to about two 15 minute segments and then offer her lots of "play" that is somehow building skills and reinforcing things she has learned. I also give her lots of time to do creative things (art, creating her own stories, imaginary play, creating new toys out of old ones, etc.) My guess is that at least 50 percent of her day is productive learning and she has no idea that it is happening.

The lesser challenge has been involving and/or distracting child number two as needed during this process. I try to take turns doing things with each child so that they both feel like they have gotten attention and get to do things they like. I also consider myself homeschooling the younger child and try to help her develop her abilities too. She is on a very different level as a not quite 2 year old, so there is almost no structure to what I do with her beyond a typical daily routine.

This year is basically a trial year. I have no doubt that we will continue homeschooling, but not having done it before, this is our first year to try things out. We are constantly evaluating if this or that is working. We make adjustments as needed. It really helps that we figured out what we want to accomplish with homeschooling (our philosophy) and set out goals for the year to help keep us on a path. Our method right now is very "eclectic," but that is appropriate for our situation currently. We would like to introduce more stucture and perhaps follow a particular curricula at some point, but that will probably have to be a gradual change as our child's capabilities are up to it. So far, only four months into it, I'd say it has been a success for our family and we are hooked on it.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

My say on pregnancy

I have mentioned from time to time in my posts that I am pregnant. I figure that it is about time I say something in more detail about it. I am currently six months pregnant. I seem to handle pregnancy fairly well. I have two daughters, ages 4 and nearly 2. I had a miscarriage before this current pregnancy so that brings the total up to 4 pregnancies. My husband calculated that I have been pregnant for a third of our married life.

Nothing has changed my life as much as becoming a Mom. That change started with that first positive pregnancy test. I had been planning to have children. I had thought ahead and tried to get myself into good habits before we started to try. But, somehow, when that positive test tells you you're pregnant, you begin to have a series of realizations about how life is different. You suddenly are forbidden to take medication that you used to rely on. You have a barrage of advice from family, friends, and complete strangers which is of greatly varying worth and have to sort through what to believe. You hear pregnancy and delivery horror stories. Advertizers try to make you think that if you don't use their product, you will be either endangering your child or guilty of gross neglect. People do tend to treat you nicer (once you start showing). I actually had someone give up a seat on a bus for me once. People also tend to want to treat you as an invalid in some ways. But, the biggest realization for me was that this new life is completely dependent on me.

Another thing that pregnancy has taught me is that it is a lot of waiting. There is the waiting to get pregnant, the waiting each cycle to find out if you are, the waiting until the first doctor's appointment, the waiting day by day that seems to take forever, the waiting for test results of one kind or another, the waiting for labor to occur. The first time around was worst. We waited 7 months before becoming pregnant the first time (not a terribly long time, but not right away). Everything was new to us and even the research we did to learn more about the pregnancy didn't seem to help us with the daily waiting. Then, I went through a false labor scenario about a month before the due date. Also, my first child decided to stick around and I was finally induced about a week and a half after the due date when they saw in an ultrasound that this baby was getting big (estimate was 9 pounds, they were off by an ounce: 8 pounds, 15 ounces).

I was never one who got all googly around babies. I avoided babysitting other people's kids. So when my first child was born and they put her in my arms and I realized that for better or for worse I was her Mom, and I had better start acting like it. From then on it has been Mom on call 24/7. I have learned a lot.

Now that I'm on my fourth pregnancy, I can say that I've learned some useful things.

1. You need to pay attention to what your body is telling you. If you're tired, find a way to rest. If you're hungry, you should eat. If you are having a craving (within reason), go with it. If you get clumsy (I start dropping things and spilling things almost immediately after conceiving and well before I would normally have a clue), use extra care.

2. If you are tall (like I am), start cooking on the back burners. My belly and maternity tops would overhang counter tops and stove tops. Verrrry unsafe situation. Besides, when the kids are tall enough to reach that high, It's an extra precaution to keep them safe.

3. Get a sense of humor if you don't already have one. Revel in the absurd things that happen to you when you are pregnant. It's a training ground for the funny absurd things you experience as a parent.

4. The waiting is hard, but it will eventually end. Every time I've been pregnant, the wait has been less of a burden because I am more and more distracted by life with my growing family.

5. The last trimester of pregnancy is going to be uncomfortable. Some things help, some things don't, but eventually you just want your baby out at all costs.

6. Try to stay active in some way during pregnancy. I like to go for walks. In my first pregnancy I had a route that was about 1.5 miles. Near the end, I had to decrease it to around the block (and it was a small block). But good health helps you recover afterwards faster. We've moved since then, and my current walk is more like 0.8 miles with some hills. Of course now I've got two kids to herd as well. So my walk now involves pushing two kids in a double stroller or pushing one in a jogging stroller while the other uses her tricycle (As an added exercise the tricycler needs to be pushed up hill every once in a while which can be accomplished by bumping the jogging stroller on her back bumper). The activity improves mine and my kids moods and does seem to help my overall health. I've impressed my doctor with how much exercise I get. Of course, if you have preschoolers or toddlers as well, then that is a built in exercise program, too.

7. No matter how you carry your baby during your pregnancy, if you are visibly pregnant people will think you are nearly ready to have your baby. Don't take it as an insult or slur against you. They don't know what they are talking about. Even when they have been through it themselves, they forget how big a woman at 9 months pregnant really is. I've gotten big faster each pregnancy and this time had people making comments about the baby's imminent arrival when I was only 4 months pregnant. In my case, I carry my babies out in front as if I swallowed a basketball. I don't look pregnant from behind and have visibly startled store clerks who come up behind me and ask me if I need help finding something. By the time I am 9 months pregnant I have a huge belly sticking out in front and people around me start acting like I am a bomb ready to go off.

8. As a corrolary to the last point, people will ask you at some point if you are having twins. The closer you are to your due date the more likely they will say "are you sure you're not having twins? You're so big." Just remember that they probably haven't been around a woman pregnant with twins lately.

Well, that is probably enough on pregnancy tonight. Maybe on another occasion I will have my say on what I've learned from being a parent.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Back to the joys of orderliness

My husband gave me the chance to sort and put in order baby clothes on Saturday. It was glorious to have enough time to sort, take inventory, rearrange and put away the clothes we have for our new little one who is expected to enter into our lives in early February. It is so rare these days to start and complete a project in one reasonably short chunk of time. Usually I have several projects at different stages of non-completion (which drives me nuts).

We were able to that this time because we got all of our chores done the day before. When I thanked my husband, he said, "um, I didn't know that was anything special. I thought I was just goofing off." Which is technically true. But the important part was that he was goofing off and taking care of the kids, leaving me to do something else virtually uninterupted. It felt really good.

I realize that in the big scheme of things, this was very small. But now one of the big jobs in preparing for the baby that was waiting for me is done. As far as clothing and accessories are concerned, I know what I need and what I don't. And, far more importantly, I have a little bit more peace of mind. That is worth a lot.

Yes, the rest of the house still has waiting or interrupted projects. Yes, I still have more preparations to make for the baby. It'll get done. Some just have to take time (like weaning child number two off her pacifier or cleaning up the baby furniture and car seat for another run through with soon to be child number three). I started the process with the pacifier this weekend too. So, I think the furniture and car seat will come next. Did I mention that I really, really like having things in order? I think one benifit of preparing things for the baby is that, the baby isn't here yet to throw things into disorder. I can get everything ready, put it in the nursery and close the door. Since the other kids aren't allowed in there, it stays ready. Yeah!

Well, now that the kids are in bed. I should go bring some order to a few other areas of the house before bed. Or I could call it a successful weekend and deal with the fact that I have the munchies. I think the munchies will win in the short term.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Thoughts on waiting...and waiting... and waiting

I usually think of myself as a patient person. In general, I suspect that I am. But, every now and then I am reminded that I am not as patient as I would like to be. Thursday, I had a late afternoon doctor's appointment. I usually schedule morning appointments, but this one was scheduled without my input and I chose not to reschedule. With my morning appointments, I sometimes have to wait some, but not much. But, I have now come to expect that afternoon appointments have a days worth of delays for one reason or another built into them. Sometimes it is the doctor. Sometimes it is a sequence of previously scheduled patients that throw things off. Friday was a good example.

I was in a rush because I wanted to drop off the kids with a friend who graciously agreed to watch them for me. I had to get child number two up from her nap, get her ready quickly, bundle both kids into the car and find a house I hadn't actually been to before. I gave myself plenty of time since I knew that traffic at that time of day would start to be thick. I dropped the kids off in a happy mood, since they were discovering new toys they hadn't played with before, and I hit the road 45 minutes before my scheduled appointment. I hit some slow traffic, but managed to get a good parking place at the hospital and register for my appointment 20 minutes early. Then I started to wait. I read a magazine. I did some people watching. There was a family with kids in a waiting room across the hallway who had endearing children who were singing songs and playing ring around the rosie with some other patient's kids. Not a bad wait really. I was early. I can wait. My appointment time came and went and I was still waiting. They called the names of people who were there before me. They started calling names of people that came after me. OK, I'm still patient, I can think of reasons they might need to be first. About 30 minutes after my scheduled appointment they have called everybody except me and start calling names of people who weren't there. I'm starting to wonder what's going on. Not long after this, the metal gate at the registration window goes down and the receptionist takes off with the change bag to accounting. My patience is sorely tested and I'm calculating how long it has been since I dropped off my kids. Will I need to knock on the door to remind someone that I'm there? Will I need to reschedule for another day? Fortunately, they did finally call me in before very many more minutes passed. The nurse was apologetic and said that it had been a crazy day. When the doctor came in he knew I had been waiting a very long time and offered to tell me the reason.

Want to know why? Two other patients who had later appointments than myself, registered earlier and were taken back earlier. No noble reason. In fact the doctor would have preferred to have seen me first, since my pregnancy is an easy case. The other patients were there because of problems.

Well, all went well with my appointment and I was walking back to my car 2 hours after I woke child number two from her nap. I still had to fight rush hour traffic to pick up the kids. My friend tried to feed them dinner since I was running so late. She was amused that child number one ate only corn and child number two ate nothing but ham. Yep, one vegetarian and one carnivore in this family. We finally got home almost three hours after leaving. I had exactly 15 minutes to pull together dinner for us when my husband got home.

And guess what? Yup. My next appointment is a similarly scheduled late afternoon appointment. That was the best time they could get for me. Maybe I should try to register 30 minutes early to beat out the other patients. Nah. Sometimes going too early, just doesn't make things better.

I just hope I don't have to practice my patience as much next time.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Wiggles and more wiggles

Today was one of those days when my kids were driving me nuts. It has a lot to do with non-stop incessant wiggles. There is a saying in this family about kids being too tired to be good. Sometimes kids are just too wiggly to be good as well. Child number one was in a constant wiggle state from the time she woke up and was too wiggly to eat a decent breakfast. Her wiggles would drive her to do things she knows she is not supposed to do, but she can't help herself. She does something wrong. I remind her. She does it again immediately. I punish her. She does it again, more punishment. It was like the brain wasn't getting the signal at all to alter behavior. Other days she is just fine and can be a joy to play with. What made today different? I have no idea. Even a tricycle-ride around the neighborhood didn't help. The only thing I could think of was she's been dealing with a wiggly tooth that was becoming more and more uncomfortable. She finally asked me to pull it for her, so I think it was really bugging her. However, the over-wigglyness continued all the way until bedtime.

Fortunately, child number two was not having the same issues, but I think she wanted more attention. I was spending so much time dealing with behavior issues with her sister that I think she felt a little neglected. And, she decided that playing with her food was more important than eating it today. She'll probably be ravenous tomorrow.

So, chaos was winning today. As Scarlett O'Hara observed, "Tomorrow is another day." Maybe if I manage to get a decent night sleep I'll be able to bring some more order into our lives. That and a play date while Mommy goes to a doctor's appointment might help deal with the possible signs of cabin fever.

So, on that note, I'll sign off for today.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Concerning pajamas and games

Being a Mom of preschoolers, I find one of my sanity outlets is to attend my local MOPS meetings. If you haven't heard of it, MOPS stands for Mothers of Preschoolers which is an international organization with local chapters purely intended to support and encourage Moms of small children. Its a lot of fun. We have people take care of our kids for us while we enjoy brunch and visit, do crafts or listen to speakers. Today's special thing was pajama/game day.

Now I am not a pajama person. For me pajamas, whatever their type, are for night when going to bed. If I am in pajamas in the morning, it is because I haven't gotten my shower yet or I am sick. If I stay in my pajamas on a day when I am fine, I start to feel like something is wrong and I have no motivation to do anything at all. I don't normally think about pajamas much at all, but at my MOPS group I am obviously in the minority. I have found that most of the others love to stay in their pajamas all day. It's a special treat for them and their kids. I think that I tried once to convince my oldest child to wear her pajamas to a similar event about a year ago, and she thought I was out of my mind. She has relaxed her attitude a little and now likes to have breakfast in her pajamas.

It is a little amusing to see people in their pajamas out in public. It helps if they have presentable ones. One of the moms had to go get groceries on the way home from a pajama day last year and bravely used the laundry detergent in her cart as her excuse. I find that I have three categories of pajamas. There are the "not for public viewing-husbands eyes only type," "the frumpy but could pass a public viewing OK", and the threadbare mumu style that I am currently using because at six months pregnant nothing else fits comfortably for sleeping. I decided to dress normally, but casually instead (Nope, my sweats don't fit either). Oldest child went in leggings and slightly large T-shirt. Younger child in flannel pants and knit top. If the idea of a pajama day is to be comfortable, we did it, too. If the idea is to be silly and laugh at yourself, we can manage that too. If you have young children, you need to develop the ability to be as silly with them in public as you are in private, otherwise you will be frequently embarrassed.

Oh, and the games were fun too. I've found that I am horrible at Spoons, slightly better at Pit, excellent at Charades, and OK at Cranium and Outburst. The excellent rating at charades is purely from practice. I normally don't think well on my feet or like to act in front of people. But, back in college I hung out with our church college group a lot. Charades and Dictionary were the favorite games at nearly every social gathering. I have never played charades in such a cut-throat atmoshere before. We had pre-med and nursing students, literature majors, political science majors, psychology students, ex-military personnel, and individuals into auto-reconstruction. The idea is you split these people of wide ranging interests into two teams, take about ten to fifteen minutes for each team to come up with words or phrases for the other team to act out and guess. The harder the list, the less likely the other team will be able to either act it out or guess. Most of the time each list was filled with obscure words or phrases from each person's specialty. The hardest one I had to try to act out was "onomatopoeia" and I failed miserably. Another memorable one was "Anna Karenina." I didn't have to act that one out, but seem to recall that it was guessed before time ran out. I remember a lot of attempted telepathy as people would act their selection out to the one person in the group they thought might know it.

As for the game of dictionary, I got good at that too. Dictionary is a simple game requiring a dictionary, paper and writing implements. Each person has a turn finding a word in the dictionary for which he thinks nobody present knows the definition. Then he says and spells the word for all assembled. He then writes the real definition on a piece of paper while the others make up their own definitions for the word. The dictionary holder collects the papers and then reads them one at a time (trying to keep a straight face as much as possible). Everybody votes for which one they think is the correct definition. Anybody who guesses the correct definition gets a point and anybody whose false definition was voted for gets as many points as votes were voted. My strategy was to select a word with a weird true definition when holding the dictionary and to make my false definitions sound very dictionary-like. It worked pretty well. Some people gave up on making their definitions sound real and just went for the more hilarious the better. It made for a fun game when people went for laughs. Some of the false definitions were so memorable that my husband and I still refer to them at times. "Darkle" now means to us the lights you see when you close your eyes. "Bruel" means a thick stew prepared in large cauldrons by Scandinavian women.

Sometimes the simple games are the most fun. Though my tastes run more toward computer games like Sims, Civilization, and Pirates these days. Maybe my oldest will be ready for dominoes soon. My grandparents played that one every night (I've never seen anybody count up dominoes from a double twelve set faster than them). My husband and I will backseat drive when one of us is playing a computer game. But we don't play too many other games, especially when we are competing against each other. Our talents are different so one person's preferred game is either boring or frustrating to the other. We both have a competitive streak, too. His is more obvious than mine.

Well, I guess I'm turning out to be more talkative than I thought on my blogs. I think that this is quite enough for tonight.

Monday, November 06, 2006

How to vote without getting caught up in politics

Since it is election day tomorrow, I'll say my two cents. I think voting is a very serious civic duty. I think that every citizen has a responsibility to be the good government they want by voting for people and ballot propositions/measures that promote good government. That said, I'm not a big fan of politics and don't really like to follow the ebb and flow of movements, scandals, personalities and so on. I agree with George Washington that political parties are actually divisive and make it harder to govern in some ways. I realize that there are plenty of people who could make a case for the good that political parties do. The only practical purpose I see for them is for mobilizing nominations of people popular enough to be electable. I've been a Republican. I've been a Democrat. Now I'm independent. Each time I eventually found myself out of sync with the party line of the time. Instead of voting for a party, I vote for who I think would do the best job and promote a good and efficient government.

Now, I'm realistic enough to know that most people don't think this way. Some people vote party line because they identify with the group. Some people vote for personalities they like. Some people are swayed by the last scare ad they see on TV. Some people are very conscientious and agonize over the options and end up confusing themselves and voting for the opposite of what they intended. Many just vote for their perceived narrow interests (Bread and Circuses). Combine all this with the truism that power corrupts and it is amazing that our government is as good as it is.

So, do I have any advice on voting without getting caught up in politics? Having a faith in God helps. I know that whatever happens, God can handle the situation. It is not a disaster if my choice loses. I have no right to gloat if my choice wins. The election is not the end of the process but the beginning of a task. That helps me keep things in perspective. So if you are a registered voter, get out there tomorrow and do your best to provide us good government. Then get on with your life and do your best to live a good life.

I think that will be the last I say on politics for a good long while.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

The Unlikely Blogger

I'm probably not the "most likely to blog" in anybody's mind. I'm not a very talkative person. But, every now and then I would like to make comments on blog sites I've seen without being anonymous. But, after thinking about it, it is probably helpful to self-reflect from time to time. In thinking about what my blog site would be, I thought of the chaos vs. order issue in my life. OK, so my husband helped me come up with it. Still, it is very appropriate. I love order, and the people I love are much, much more casual about it. I don't plan on composing a novel online. I don't promise wisdom or wit. I might say something funny on occasion, but that might be purely accidental (I am prone to that). I am not aware of any simmering desire to take on news or political issues. If something comes up, I'll let you know. I'll probably keep my posts pretty short on average. So, on that note, I'll end my first post.