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.