Thursday, November 20, 2014

Bedtime Stories

As a reader, there is nothing more exciting than your son learning how to read. Seeing his face when he correctly reads a sentence in his book aloud. Discovering new words and ideas together through books. Reading. 

It's so exciting to see his vocabulary grow, to see sentences formed by his own hand, to hear chapters read out loud.

But as a tired mother, there is nothing more exhausting than the bedtime routine of a new reader. The wanting to read a book all by himself, but needing me there to guide him. Through all ridiculously loooooong 15 pages. Discovering new words that take 5 minutes to sound out, and he must read, and re-read and re-read again in a silly voice just to show that he does actually know it.

So while I am so incredibly thrilled that he is learning to love to read.......I really just want to go to bed.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Fantastic Five

Parents of toddlers, rejoice. There is a light at the end of the tunnel.

If you can get past the Terrible Twos, if you can manage to withstand your Three-nager, if you can make it through the F*&king Fours.....there is hope.

When your son is five, he will say things like "Please, Mommy, can I have a grilled cheese?" and when you make him that grilled cheese, he will sigh with contentment. "Thank you, Mommy, for making me a great dinner."

Seriously. That happened.

He will put on his own jammies so you can have three minutes to load the dishwasher before bedtime routine begins and when he is done putting on jammies, he will help you with the dirty dishes. He will remember to brush his teeth in the morning and at night without your nagging. He will still want to snuggle on the couch on Sunday morning.

You will have a child who, when you tell him no TV tonight says, "Ok, Mommy. Can we play a game instead? I'll go get Yahtzee." There is no tantrum. A boy who loves homework and school because words are "tricky" and tricky things are fun. You have a boy who can read street signs and sight words but still doesn't know what you're saying when you spell D-I-S-N-E-Y-L-A-N-D.

He can wipe his own butt, but he still wants to hold your hand when he crosses the street. It truly is the best of both worlds. A little big boy. Or a big little boy.

So hang in there, Parents of Toddlers. Stay strong. If you can get past the ages where you wonder why on Earth you ever thought having kids was a good idea, you will see. Five is a magical number.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The Thankful Tree

This year I wanted to try making the holiday season more meaningful to Bjorn and Peanut. They are, as the cliche goes, such little sponges. I don't want them to soak up the all the commercialism and Christmas songs 24 hours-7-days-a-week without also realizing that there is a lot more to Thanksgiving than turkey and Christmas than reindeer.

I decided to start a "Thankful Tree", which is exactly as it sounds -a place to hold all the things we are thankful for.

The acorns were actually in another decor setup, but Bjorn keeps moving them onto the tree. Because that's where acorns go. He's so logical.

I happened to have an extra tree jewelry holder. Yes, an extra one, don't ask me why I have so much stuff. And, yes, that is the same tree we draped in spiderwebs and hung bats from to decorate for Halloween! Reduce, Reuse.....

Throw in some fake acorns and a few decor leaves, and you have yourself this year's Thankful Tree.

I explained it to Bjorn as a place for us to write down all we are thankful for, a new one each day. We would write the word on a leave, put it on the tree and watch the tree grow thick with leaves.  I hope for them to realize just how much we already have in our lives to be thankful for, little bit by little bit. 

Day One. I meant to do this every day during November, but as it usually happens, time got away from me, so today was Day One. And only because Bjorn grabbed a leaf and reminded me. "Hey Mom, can we start our Thankful Tree now?" Ummmm, yes. Yes, we can.

I expected one of them to say their favorite vice, TV. Or on the heels of Halloween weekend, their second favorite: candy. Instead, I got this.



My son is thankful for the Marines. Yesterday, at dinner, he prayed for the military. Each branch* got its own little prayer, as he stated "Thank you God for the Army and the Marines and the Air Force and...what's the name of the ones who are in the water? Oh yeah, the Navy. Thank you for all the military."  Thankful for the Marines. I can't write much more about it, for I feel it says it all....that, and I'm tearing up as I write. He makes me so proud.

Peanut is thankful for our dog. Our 13 year old, slightly insane, always hungry dog that steals string cheese from her hand as it is en route to her mouth, breathes so loudly the TV volume has to be turned up to 40 so we can hear it over her, and hasn't played a game or fetched in at least five years. She is still thankful for her. She does not see a curmudgeon of an old dog, breaking doors and stealing stuff from the trash. She sees a soft doggie that lets her hug her, and dress her in tiaras and necklaces, holding a Tinkerbell wand in her paws. She sees an animal that is scared of thunderstorms, so comes to sleep in her room. She sees love.

I thought maybe this Thankful Tree would teach my kids to not be motivated for more possessions, but to love what they have. It has already, on day one, taught me so much more.

I am thankful for my kids.


*I just looked up military branches because it felt like one was missing. The Coast Guard. I'll have to show him pictures of the Coast Guard. I honestly didn't know that they weren't a subdivision of a different branch. I feel ashamed that I don't know my own country's military better, but I guess that's the first step? Feeling a little ashamed and then learning? 

Saturday, October 11, 2014

It's a jungle out there

As a college graduate in English Literature, an avid reader, and a writer who prides herself on not using spell-check, I never expected our language to be so tough to teach.

Then I had to explain it to a five year old. A smart, precocious, inquisitive five year old. 

Driving outside of town yesterday, we passed an outdoor plant store, one that specializes in palm trees. 

"Is that a jungle?! In our city? In Arizona?" Bjorn asked.

"No, that's not a jungle. That's a nursery." I replied.

"Nursery? What's a nursery?"

But just as I was opening my mouth to answer, he stopped me.

"OHHHHH. I know what a nursery is." he said excitedly. "It's like the doctor's office."

It took me a minute, but I finally got it. 
Do YOU see the connection? 

The English language sucks. I'm just sayin'.

Monday, September 15, 2014

All by herself.....

Peanut has been playing Connect Four by herself for close to an hour.

By 'playing Connect Four', I mean putting all the checkers in, dropping them from the bottom and yelling "It's pooping!"

Still, it's playing. By herself. For an HOUR.

I'm astounded by the differences in boys and girls, first and second kids, and children from the exact same parents who act completely different.

Bjorn recently began drawing and painting pictures alone, but besides that, I cannot recall a single time where he didn't want the attention or adulation of an adult at least once every five minutes. Mainly me. And usually it's not even five minutes, it is more like every two minutes.

I'm astounded with her ability to amuse herself. I'm not sure if it is a girl/boy thing, but I believe it might be a combination of nature and nurture working in her.  Bjorn was the only child for 2 years, so I spent more time guiding and leading and playing with him alone, while Peanut, until Bjorn went to school this year, has never known a world without him taking some of the time and attention from her.

Yesterday, she laid a kitchen towel on the living room floor, pulled the chairs from her toddler table over, and sat different stuffed animals in each chair. She then piled cups and teapots and food from her play kitchen on a tray and served each of them. Baby Belle's coffee was too hot so she had to blow on it, and Pepper the Cat had chocolate milk that he kept spilling.

Of course, when she asked me to join her picnic, I did.

It was the best, hottest coffee I've had all year.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Through a Child's Eyes

Ever since he was little, I've been teaching Bjorn the art of finding shapes in the clouds. Last week, he found the laughing elephant and turtle sitting on top of a rock before I did. He has an eye for it.

Today, he found another gem.

"Look, Mom! Those clouds look like a big butt coming through the clouds! A big giant butt because the giant fell and his butt broke through the clouds!"

He was right. It did.

Monday, August 11, 2014

One week.

It's been one week.

One week of 6 am alarms jolting me out of a deep sleep.

One week of waking up Bjorn because, for the first time in two years, he is actually sleeping past 6.

One week of making lunches the night before, checking folders when he comes home and wondering if he should join soccer or Spanish or Chess Club (all of which he said he is interested in).

Yes, school has begun.



Already.


My little Buckwheat. He HAD to have spiky hair



I didn't cry. He didn't cry. The Hubs didn't cry. Peanut....well, Peanut wailed a little when she realized she couldn't go with him, and stopped when she realized she had me all to herself for the day.

Around lunch time she did begin to whine that Bjorn was "Taking for-EVER" to come home from school. I agreed. That first day was looooong.

But he came home with a smile on his face, and, instead of taking a much-needed nap after 7 hours at school, asked if we could all go bowling. When I said no, he asked if we could go swimming. Or maybe go to the zoo.

My hopes that school would wear him out were quickly dashed.

Kindergarten isn't all that it is cracked up to be, according to Bjorn. Much to his dismay, they "don't even get to watch any movies!" and they "Don't get to go outside for recess". That is only because it is still 116 degrees outside, so recess is spent inside the classroom. I think he will enjoy it much more when they can actually head outside.

So far, his favorite parts of school are "music, art and gym". He says the rest of school is "boring". Ha. You think kindergarten is boring, wait until you get to the big grades, kid!

I had hopes that he would make a best friend on the first day, and that Mom would call me, and we would get together for the kids to play, and we would wind up best friends too. That stuff happens, right? Right?!  Not for us. Not yet, at least. It has only been one week.

As much as I tried to not go to work this week, airplanes are still flying and people still need help buckling their seat belt, so off I went. The first day I worried the entire day how Bjorn would do at Extended Day, an after care program that lasts for 3 hours. That would put him at school for 10 1/2-11 hours. A long day for anyone, but especially for a brand new kindergartener.

He told The Hubs that it was "the best day of school"!. Why? In extended day, they rotate through different activities, including computer lab, gym games and music. He was in heaven. I guess I underestimated my little man. He was ready, willing and able.

Now I just have to be. Ready to let my kid make his own mistakes and accomplishments away from me at school. Willing to help in any way that I can. Able to be the Mom he needs for me to be.

So I signed up the PTSA. Ready, willing and able to make this the start of the best years of the rest of his life. Happy Kindergarten year, Bjorn. It's going to be a great one.


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Happy Birthday, baby.

I never wanted to be one of those moms who throw parties at expensive indoor places for their little kids.

Then I had kids who both have summer birthdays. In the desert. It's 106 degrees at 9 am....and by noon, it's 116. Parks are ridiculously hot. (Why didn't they make swings white instead of black? And why do slides have to be metal!?!)  Splash pads are a joke, like spitting on a wildfire. In general, leaving the home is out of the question. We all melt over 112.

I also can barely keep my home clean for five minutes before a smoothie is spilled on the floor, or a baggie of cheezits is poured between the couch cushions or the dog has grabbed a container of crayons, leaving half eaten crayons and paper in her wake. Not to mention we are bursting at the seams here, and don't have a lot of space for friends to come over and celebrate.

So what's a mom to do?

Yes, that's right.  Indoor parties. Lots of money. And not one single thing for me to cook or clean or prepare or set up. So there is that.

With this face, I can't help but think that every dollar is worth it.



Peanut's Third birthday party was at an indoor bouncy house place. They closed off the rooms completely for her and her friends and for two fun-filled hours, they bounced and jumped and ran and spun.





She climbed over everyone so that she could sit right next to her brother

Then came the overpriced princess cupcake cake (as requested by the birthday girl),  requisite slice of pizza with lemonade, and present opening.




Happy Birthday, Queen Birthday Girl!

Bjorn's birthday was a month ago, but his, too, was at an indoor play place. This one was a pizza parlor with skeeball and car races and basketball and games.

The boys kicking the ball around

While the girls go cruisin'


He really wanted a themed party - Spiderman AND Flash Gordon. I got a little creative with his decorations, making glitter glue spiderwebs and felt lightning bolts for the table, and homemade Flash Gordon masks. (A party store had Spiderman ones, so those were pre-bought. But apparently, no one has Flash Gordon parties, so there were no decor options anywhere. Not at party stores, not on Amazon. So they had to be homemade.)


He refuses to look for pictures. Stinker.

I love Costco. Awesome cake. Perfect decorations.

Happy Birthday my wonderful little five year old.

 His friends had all the coins they wanted for playing games, more pizza than they could handle and a fabulous cake. I'm actually a little ashamed that I made goody bags for his party, though. I knew they were "expected" so I did it.....and half the kids forgot them and a few asked why there wasn't stickers/play dough/candy/insert other item they wanted here.

I did boycott the goody bags for Peanut's party, though. So I haven't completely bought into the high-priced world of kids birthday parties.....yet.**

**At Peanut's party, one little girl (who I'm not saying was, but I'm not saying wasn't one of the ones who asked why she didn't get candy in her goody bag at Bjorn's party) kept asking "Where's my goody bag? Where is it?! How come there are no goody bags?" Because I just paid a crap ton of money to have you jump in bouncy houses, eat 1/2 a slice of pizza and spill a cup of lemonade on the floor. There's your freaking goody bag, kid.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Looking for a Bad Guy

Want to hear my one big beef with Frozen?

(Of course you do. You're dying to know. I just know it.)
**Also - there will be spoiler alerts below. As if there is anyone left that hasn't actually seen Frozen.**

I don't like when I can't tell the bad guy is a bad guy.

I want my bad guys to look like bad guys - long mustache, weird name (Weaseltown, anyone?!), leering creepy looks. I don't want my bad guy wrapped up in a handsome face, with a strong voice.

In The Lion King, the antagonist can be seem from the very beginning. The name. Scar.  The voice, the sly sarcasm, the disrespect. It is very clearly shown. The same can be said for The Little Mermaid, with the scary eels skulking around an ugly octopus, or Finding Nemo, with Darla - the screaming child with a knack for killing sea animals. Even Toy Story 3, with its sweet little stuffed bear, doesn't take long to show that that sweet face is covering a little stuffed evil heart.

The looks Hans gives Anna are loving. Caring. Devoted. Not one.single.time does he look at her connivingly. Not one single time does he give the impression that he is anything less than completely in love with Anna.

Until that moment that Anna comes back to Hans, hoping for true love's kiss, we have no indication that Hans' intentions are anything but honorable. Even in private he doesn't show anything that would make the audience think differently.

I feel like Disney wrote half the screenplay and then realized, hey, Prince Hans is not the best choice for Anna - Kristoff is! So they decided to make Prince Hans the bad guy, but only after they had already drawn and created half the movie. Oh well, they thought, no one will notice, I'm sure.

I noticed.

I know that this is how life is. Bad people don't always look like stereotypical bad people. Bad people can look like you and me and Bobby Jo next door. But I don't want my kids to know it yet. I don't want her to see that the man she is in love with, who openly says and shows that he is in love with her, is lying. I want him to know that when he gets lost, a policeman is the person to ask for help. I want them to trust that people are who they say they are, that you can read a bad person by the way they talk and act.

Even Peanut, at two years old, can watch a movie and point out the "bad guys" and the "mean witches". They are stereotypical roles, with easily found similarities across most kids movies. Black garb, mean eyebrows, disrespectful talk, scratchy deep voice. Frozen has none of these. I thought the bad guy was the guy from Weaseltown, but still -after my 452nd time watching it - don't understand why he was ousted from Arrendale when all was said and done. What did he do that was so wrong?

My kids haven't picked up on it yet. Neither has mentioned anything about the guy who sings "Love is an Open Door" with Anna being the one who leaves her alone to die barely an hour later. I see it, though, and every time I do, it bugs me. Why can't his colors at least be black and dark blue? Why can't he give at least one menacing laugh and mean glare into the distance?

Is it too much to ask that the bad guys look like bad guys?!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The second time around

I didn't want to say anything until it was official.....

But she is wiping her own butt now, so I think it's time.
THE GIRL IS POTTY TRAINED.
Completely and totally.

We don't ask her when she needs to go to the potty. We don't remind her to go (Except before long car rides, but that's normal for The Hubs and I too!)

Remember this? It worked. The very next day.

Once I told Peanut that it was time, and took away her pullups and her diapers and her backup plans, it was done. Almost three months has passed, and in those three months, my amazing, beautiful little girl has had one accident at night, and none during the day. She has gone from a toddler in thick little diapers, to a big girl in real princess covered un.dies. She has to go to the bathroom, and she goes. No fuss, no muss (although she does still ask for the occasional ice cream reward, which I am happy to oblige).

I'm not sure if it is because she is a girl, or the second child, or scored a Perfect 10 on the APGAR. But potty training was a million times easier than it was with Bjorn.

Speaking of Bjorn, he has moved on to the next part of potty-training; he wants to go to the bathroom (a public bathroom!) by himself. He has begun balking when I take him into the Women's room. "I'm a boy, Mommy! I go into the Mens room!" Not when you're with me, buddy! Five is still too little for that. Having led a fairly h appy and sheltered life, he trusts most everyone, and -thankfully!- doesn't understand the evil that can hide in perfectly normal situations. I won't tip him off on this either.

The only concession I have made is if there is no line in the women's bathroom, and multiple stalls, I will let him go into his own stall. He locks the door, does his thing, and always always always washes his hands. He's good like that. Mainly because he likes making a huge mess of water all over counters and using the hand dryer that makes his "hands look funny".

Monday, June 23, 2014

Better late than never.....a vacation to remember

I started this blog post the week after we returned from vaca.....a MONTH AGO. I am such a procrastinator. Can we pretend that this just happened?!

*************************************************

On Saturday, I found a deal for a Legoland vacation on a coupon website. I sent the link to The Hubs with the title "Family Vaca?!"

On Monday, he sent me an even cheaper link for Legoland through my work and said "This Sunday?"

I shook my head. No way could we plan a trip to Legoland in less than one week. No way could I work out of town for three days, landing on Saturday evening, and be ready to leave early in the morning Sunday morning.

But we could. And we did.

Our first family vacation. Our first real one. 

Not that the others weren't vacations, but this was the first time we headed to a place where none of our family lived, or owned homes, or were coming to hang out. For the first time, we were in a hotel, just the four of us, with no agenda beyond going to dinner, the beach and Legoland.

Best.vacation.ever.




Seriously. It was awesome.

Our hotel was on the beach, a short few hundred yard walk down a flight of stairs. Everyday we took morning walks on the sand with our coffee, where we saw whales (actual whales!!!) in the ocean, and birds skimming the surface. In the evening, we played, building sand castles and running from big, scary waves.




 We spent our days walking every square inch of Legoland.

Dino dig was high on our list of must do's!


We took a detour to Vegas for the afternoon.....

Bjorn rode his first roller coaster with The Hubs - the Coastersaurus. I was riding the Safari Cars with Peanut, who LOVED them, and when we switched so I could ride the roller coaster with Bjorn, he balked. Once he knew what it was, he wasn't quite ready to tackle it again.

She has her driving face on

So does The Hubs!

He did love all the smaller rides, and since there was almost no one (I sincerely recommend LegoLand in Mid-May on a weekday!) at the park, the most time we spent waiting in line was 7 minutes. And that was to drive the little mini Volvos around a race track. Even Peanut got to partake in that one (although we did have to coach her for the whole seven minutes that when he asked her, she was to say she was 3. We were only two months off, right?!). 

Our tickets were park hopper tickets, which means we got to enjoy the Sea Life Aquarium as well as the Water park. No pics were taken in the Water Park - my camera was locked up tight, lest I lose all my pictures if a kid decided to throw a tantrum with my phone and the water. But, the kids LOVED it. Bjorn later told us that the slides and the tunnel slides were his favorite "ride". I believe it. A few weeks later, we began going regularly to the pool at the gym, and he has begun learning how to swim. It's amazing what he can do when he puts his mind to it.





Peanut's favorite "ride" wasn't a ride at all, but a collection of dots on the ground that, when you stepped near them, played music and sprayed water from a collection of insturments. Although it was definetely not a conventional "ride", her loving it reminded me of my favorite ride from Disney World - actually, the only one I really remember. It's called the Carousel of Progress, and is not what you would ever consider to be a ride, or a fun thing for a five year old. I'm weird, just like my awesome daughter. She spent SO much time playing with the water dots.

The musical dots were pretty fun!


She also rode a ride with her brother, no parents needed. First one ever. They got to drive the train!

I'm driving!



It was an exhausting, amazing trip, with just the right amount of good food and dining out for the parents and beach playing and LegoLand exploring for the kids. Best.vaca.ever



They really do love each other!

"Mom, why do we have to stand in front of this?! What is this?!"

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Through a child's eyes

This morning Bjorn asked  why I didn't have my glasses on.

"I already put in my contacts for the day." I told him.

"Your contacts?"

"Yes. You know- those clear little pieces that i put in my eyes to help me see."

"Oh, yes, I know what you mean," he said. "Your eyeball glasses."

I started laughing.  "My what?!"

"Your eyeball glasses. Little tiny glasses for your eyeballs. Like him." He ran over to our movie pile and pulled out Monsters University. "Mike Wiskowski wears eyeball glasses too!"


Sunday, June 8, 2014

Another first....

Friday, while I was working and The Hubs was still sleeping, Peanut got her very first haircut.




By Bjorn.


Monday, June 2, 2014

Eight

The last few months of the school year, a teacher friend of mine has done Monday Morning Countdowns on Facebook. "5 Monday Wakeups Until School is Out" she posts.

So I decided to do my own countdown.

8 Monday Wakeups. Eight.

8 Monday Wakeups until I don't get to choose what Bjorn does for the day; whether he goes to the park or the library or the gym is not for me to say.

8 Monday Wakeups with my firstborn by me day in and day out.

8 Monday Wakeups until he is in school five days a week, 40 weeks a year for the next 13 years. More if he chooses college and a graduate degree.

8 Monday Wakeups until school rules our days and  our life and our plans.

8 Monday Wakeups of little hands pulling off the covers and a little voice piping out "Mommy, can you get up and get me a snack? And can I watch PBS kids?" Soon I will wake to an alarm at 5:30 am so that I can get him to school by the 7:40 start time. (Seriously. Why can't school start at 9:30?!)

8 Monday Wakeups before he begins thriving and learning in a structured classroom, with his peers and friends.

Since he turned 3, he has asked almost every month - if not more - if he could go to school. 8 Monday Wakeups more and he will finally begin kindergarten, just like he has wanted.

On days when he won't stop whining, or "accidentally" hitting his sister, or bugging me to watch TV or play the Wii or build him a Lego house (but not like that, he says. No! The red piece has to go on the yellow piece and the green piece goes under that one and do we even have any black pieces?). On days when he won't stop talking, and he follows me into the bathroom, perching on the tub so he can finish his story while I pee. On days when we play hockey for what feels like hours, and then it's time to play baseball, and then he wants to throw the frisbee.....on those days, I have longed for kindergarten.

I admit it.

I wanted him to go to kindergarten - to give me a break, a minute, a breath.

But only for a minute. Then I want him back.

Now, I have 8 Monday Wakeups before he will begin his school career, before he will be taught for 8 hours a day by teachers and peers, by situations and by books.

Eight.

A wise colleague once told me something I will never forget. "The days are long, but the years are short."

I had the last five years, I have a lifetime and I only have 8 more Monday Wakeups. The years are, indeed, short.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

4 year old questions about God

We have most of our important conversations in the car.
It was 8:30 in the morning and I was on my second cup of coffee as I drove them to daycare.

"Mom?" Bjorn asked. "Who made God?"

I struggled. How do I explain the omnipresence of God to a 4 year old? Especially to a boy trying to put labels on things, organize ideas into the little compartments his mind understands.

"Who made God? Well....God has always just been. He has always been here, and always will be here. He made the planets and the animals and everything around us."

"Did he make the trees?"

"Yes, he did."

"Did he make the lions?" "Yes." "The elephants?" "Yes." "The fish?" "Yes." "Did he make all the dogs?"

"Yes, Bjorn, he made all the lions and the elephants, and the fish and all the dogs. He made all the animals."

"Is God here on Earth?"

"Yes. He is in heaven-"

"With all the angels."

"Yes, Bjorn. With all the angels. But He is also here on Earth with us."

"Is he in that bird?"

"Yes, God is in every animal. He is all around us."

"Is he in that tree?"

"Yes, Bjorn. God is in all the world that He made for us. But most of all - He's in you. He is in every kind thing you do and every nice word you say. He is in your heart."

"Me too!" piped up Peanut. "He's in my heart, too!"

I nodded. "Yes, He most definitely is in your heart, too, Peanut."

Bjorn changed subjects abruptly, as kids are prone to do.

"At night, Mommy, I try to keep my eyes open."

"You do, Bjorn?" I asked. "Why?"

"So I can see all the angels when they come in to kiss me."

I looked in my rearview mirror. He was looking at his arm, at all the little freckles and imperfections on his perfect little arm. The angel kisses, I've always called them.

"Well, Bjorn. Angels like to come in and kiss quiet, sleeping little kids, not awake kids. They can be pretty sneaky, too."

"I know," he said, shaking his head. "Sneaky little guys."






Thursday, May 22, 2014

My Very Eager Mother Just Snapped Up Nine Poodles

In the car on the way home tonight, Bjorn pointed at a red light in the distance.

"Is that Mars?"

I answered without thinking. "No, Mars isn't near Earth."

"Yes it is," the 4 year old genius replied. "It's the planet closest to Earth."

I quickly went through my junior high astronomy. My Very Eager Mother Just Snapped Up Nine Poodles. My Very Early Morning Just Stopped Under Nosy Places. MVEMJSUNP. 

There were two M's, so it didn't help me much, but....

"Ok, sure, that could be Mars. MVEMJSUNP."

"Ma-Vem-ja-what?!" he asked.

"Oh, well.....that's the order of the planets. I guess it's Mercury Venus Earth Mars Jupiter Saturn Uranus Neptune Pluto. But, maybe not Pluto anymore."

I could see him nodding in my rear view mirror. "Uh huh. Because Pluto is the special planet."

"The special planet?! What do you mean?" 

"Pluto is the special planet. It's the smallest one."

That's right. Not really a Planet with a Capital P anymore, it's a dwarf planet, kicked out of my MVEMJSNUP.

"How did you know that, Bjorn?"

He shrugged. "I just know."

Genius.
Or it might be the Disney Channel. 





Sunday, May 4, 2014

A little SparkPlug

Recently I was asked if my girl is as feisty as her Mama. 

Feisty?! Me?  I have no clue what you're talking about.

And yes, she is. Even at 2. We are in trouble with this one when she is older, I can tell.

For example:

"Mommy, can you get a drink for me?" she asked sweetly on the couch. 

From my spot comfortably next to her, I answered. "No! You can go get it."

"No, Mommy. No I can't."

"Why not, Peanut? You have legs, don't you?"

She looked solemnly at me. "Them are broken."

"Oh, really?!" I couldn't help it. I laughed. "Your legs are broken?'

"Yeah. I need a new leg. Mine are broken. So you have to get me my juice."

I laughed the whole time I was pouring.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

My real, little baseball player

When Bjorn began playing baseball this season, he refused to bathe after his first game. He wanted to keep his uniform on forever - around the house, to sleep, to preschool. I finally convinced him that real adult baseball players smell nice and clean, like baby shampoo and flowers.

Yesterday, after his bath, he stepped onto the bath mat. 

"Do I smell like a real grown up baseball player?"

I leaned over and sniffed him. "Yep. You sure do. Like roses and baseball!"

"Mommy......when I am a real grown up baseball player, will you come to all my baseball games?"

"Yes, Bjorn, I will." I said.

"Mommy......All of them?" he paused before continuing. "Every single single one of them?"

I stopped drying him off, aware that he was asking me a very serious, very important question. I looked right into his eyes, answering the question he didn't ask. "Yes, Bjorn. I will come to every single single one of your baseball games when you are a real grown up baseball player."

I promise to be there for you every time you need me. As you grow up, I will be there. Even when you are a real grown up adult, with real grown up problems, I promise I will still be there every day whenever you need me, for as long as I can.

His face was the face every kid makes when their  parents show up to the school play, or the soccer field, or the preschool doorway at pickup time. Relief mixed with excitement.

She will always be there, he was thinking. 

"I'm always going to play for the Royals. Just like I do now. I am always going to be number 7."

"You know what, Bjorn? That sounds great."

"Number 7, Mommy. Just like you." Before he ran out of the bathroom to get his jammies on, he paused, reached over, and hugged me. My real, little baseball player.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Hug it out

How quickly I forget that my incredibly smart, stubborn child is just that..... a child.

He may be approaching five (too quickly!), and he may be able to count to 100, hit a baseball, and write his full name - and mine too.

But 5 years ago, he was still living inside me, having never breathed, ate or slept outside of my body. 4 years ago, he was drinking mostly breastmilk and formula, eating a few fruits and veggies. 3 years ago he was climbing and running and falling on his clumsy chubby toddler legs. 2 years ago he was just learning how to pick up a hockey stick and learning what letters are. 1 year ago he could buckle himself into his car seat, and ride a bike with training wheels.

So much has happened in the last five years and he can do so much more than I ever thought a not-quite-five-year-old could do.

Sometimes I forget how little he is. How emotionally fragile he is. 4 and 1/2 years ago, he was still screaming in the middle of the night and I could only figure three ways to soothe him - milk, diaper or rocking. 4 1/2 years. It's not so long ago.

5 years ago, I was new at this parenting thing, too. So I do give myself some slack. We are learning this together.

Tonight Bjorn made me realize that no matter how much of a superhero he wants to be, he really is just my little boy.

Peanut and he were fighting (of course) over the play tablet (of course) and when he tried to grab it from her, she hit him (of course). Not hard, but (of course) he had to play it up in the hopes of getting her in trouble.

I wasn't up for playing referee tonight. So I didn't.

"MOOOoooooooOOOM! She hit me! SHE hit me!" Bjorn cried, holding his arm.

Peanut had already said she was sorry for hitting. Without prompting on my part. He had tried to wrestle it away from her by brute force, and she wasn't having it. I didn't blame her one but for smacking him.

But of course I couldn't tell him that. 

I didn't want to punish them. Or referee. Or lecture.

I simply wrapped him in a hug. "I know it's hard to be a kid, Bjorn. I do know it. It's not easy being almost 5."

And I held on tight.

He let go first (I read somewhere to never let go first from a hug with a kid), and happily went to play with his transforming robot dinosaurs.

A few minutes later, I felt him tapping me on the arm.

"Mom? Do you think we can try that hug thing again?"

Oh, yes, Bjorn, we can. Yes, we can.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Four P's of Potty Training: Patience, Persistence and Princess Pan.ties

Oh, Peanut. You certainly do make life interesting.

You've been wishy-washy about potty-training ever since our Potty Party. It almost seems that as soon as you learned what a big deal going in the potty truly was, you no longer wanted to do it. You only liked it when it was an ordinary act, with no applause and great cheer.

So we let the potty training wane.

We let you refuse to sit on the potty. We let you shake your head and scream "NO!" when you were anywhere near a potty.

I've never been one of those parents who does the 3 day Boot camp potty training, or who feels compelled to push their kid before they are ready. But you changed me, Peanut. You called my bluff, and you forced my hand.

After one year of you partly potty training, it was on.

See - you know when you have to pee. You sing-song "I'm NOT going pee in my pull-up right now." And, yet, you ARE. Then you laugh and say "I get a new pull up now. This one is wet. I want another Ariel!"

Guess what, Peanut? The gig is up. I'm not buying any more fancy-pants Ariel pullups. No more Rapunzel or Cinderella or Doc McFreakingStuffins. I don't like spending $10 for stuff that gets wet and thrown away (or, as we have had lately, eaten by the Dog. That's another story, though.)  From now on, if you need a diaper, you are getting the generic, ugly, plain white non-pullup pullups.

Because now you have Princess Un.dies. And you are going to learn to wear them.

When I told you on Monday that you could have Princess Un.dies if you stayed dry for three days, you did. Easily. And then you picked out the prettiest, pinkest, girliest ones you could find.

You stayed dry all night, and put on princess un.dies in the morning. You peed in the potty.
You stayed dry the whole two hours at the gym. You peed in the potty at the gym (all by yourself!).
You stayed dry at the kids park with NO BATHROOM (seriously, who designed that?!). You peed in the potty at home.
You stayed dry all through your 3 1/2 hour nap.

And then you refused to pee in the potty.

I didn't push you, Peanut. It was early evening by this time, and I was fed up to my eyebrows with tantrums and fits for the day. My patience tank had run out the 300th time your brother asked to watch TV and play with my phone. You threw a mini fit when I mentioned going on the potty, so I let it slide. One more tantrum might do me in, and I was determined not to go down tonight. I gave up on forcing the issue with you,  and figured - hey, you're smart enough. You'll head to the potty when you need it.

Twenty minutes later, you had an accident. A big one.

Oh boy, Peanut, did you hate it. (Does anyone actually like having accidents? I can't imagine it ever feels good.) You were trembling and your voice, shrill and anxious, called out to me across the house. "MOMMY?! Mommy - my chair is all wet. It all WET! It smells like PEE PEE!"

Oh, Peanut, it smells like that because it IS.

We talked then, Peanut, about going to the potty after naps. We talked about pullups and un.dies and how everyone - even Princesses, especially Princesses - go pee pee in potties.

You put on a pullup, and I told you you couldn't have your Rapunzel un.dies back until you told me you had to go to the potty, and then went. A few hours later you did just that, and danced for joy afterwards.

I'm sorry I've been lazy with you, Peanut. I underestimated your persistence and my patience. I think if we work on this together, we can make it happen. We can make it fun and simple and easy.

What do you say, Peanut? Are you in?




Friday, February 28, 2014

Right is right. Or is it left?

We were at a craft fair a while ago and saw a Left Handers Mug.

Isn't that just a mug where you turn the handle the other direction?  Yes, normally. But this was a mug made to curve your hand in, providing almost a glove type handle to keep your hands warm around your drink. So the creator had crafted two types - a leftie and rightie. (Nothing for those who like to keep both hands wrapped and warm, though.)

A nice little gift specifically for a left-handed person in a world that is definitely not.

Take something simple, for instance. A water fountain. Where is the handle or button to turn on the water? The right side. Imagine for a minute, right handers, if the push button was on the left side? Would we have the dexterity and strength in our left hands to hold that button down the same as we do on the right? I think this is why some water fountains now have a push bar in the front, too. (That, and so we can push it with our bellies when we are pregnant. Am I right, ladies?!)

We all know about left-handed scissors. If you were that right handed kid who accidentally got the left handed scissors in school, your hands became foreign objects and you had no idea what this contraption was and how to use it. Imagine left handers before those scissors came around. They had to learn how to do everything backward, flipped around, upside down.

Driving a stick shift? Use your right hand to change gears. Opening a door? Doorknobs are always on the right, closest to your right hand.

I know, I know - most lefties probably don't use their left hands to open doors anyways, so is that really a leftie or rightie thing?

Well.... is the reason they use their right hand to open the door because they were forced to, as no doors have knobs on the left, or because they truly are more comfortable opening with their right hands? Would it feel more comfortable to lefties to open a door with a knob on the left?

The old debate - nature vs. nurture.

Today, during craft time, my boy was coloring buttons on his snowman, and I noticed that he first drew a circle, starting at the bottom and circling around clockwise, and then he colored in the buttons. He did it three more times (one more button, and two eyes) the same way. Something about it struck me as different, so I tried it.

Without thinking, I draw my circles counter-clockwise. It takes effort to draw them clockwise, and the moment I stopped concentrating on the direction, I went back to my natural counter clockwise.

This isn't the only instance I have noticed the differences in his writing. Little "a"s start at the bottom right, curve around and up, then down when draws the line on the right. The number "7" starts at the bottom and then goes up and to the left. In fact, almost every letter and number - although they look exactly like what they are supposed to look like - are drawn differently that I make them. I have noticed it before and just thought - maybe this is toddler thing?

A few years ago, when Bjorn first picked up utensils and crayons and anything else he could put in his mouth, he used his left hand just as much as his right. The Hubs and I started thinking he might be left-handed, which is not surprising, considering that his Grandma and Uncle J are both lefties.

When he began throwing a baseball and playing hockey, he played on both sides, eventually switching to almost exclusive rightie. Except he still bats left. I can't wait until he starts baseball next month to see if he continues as batting left, or if he also starts to throw left again as well.

I wanted to do some research on writing left and right and the differences, and I wondered - could that "0" directionality be a left handed thing? So I did what any amateur psychologist in this social age would do, and I asked Facebook. (Not Facebook itself, because I'm pretty sure FB doesn't have hands, but just a whole bunch of wires and spy cameras and maybe a few rolls of duct tape, what I mean is I asked all of my Facebook friends.)

"Do you draw your "o"s clockwise or counterclockwise? Are you right or left handed?"

Out of 16 responses, not a single right handed person drew their "o"s clockwise. The lefties were split, with two writing CCW and two writing clockwise.

Are those two lefty's who wrote counter clockwise ones who had adjusted better to this right-dominant world? Not a single right hander (in my admittedly small research group) drew clockwise, but the lefties were split. Had they been forced to write and cut and sew and cook with their right hands and somehow that had created the difference? Or is it really all just a coincidence?

And all this came about because my son wanted to make a snowman.

Amazing sometimes what an afternoon can bring.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Catchup

So I don't know what I have been doing the month of February, because I most definitely haven't been working or writing. Maybe I've been enjoying life? Playing with my kids? Going to the park?

Maybe. But I really don't remember doing more than the usual of that, either.

But I have some catch up to do on this blog.... or, as I call it, the kiddo's keepsake diary.

In January we signed Bjorn up for Kid First Hockey, a FREE (did you hear that?! FREE!) four week program for kids 4-12 to try out hockey. Bjorn was issued elbow pads and shoulder pads and shin pads and a helmet and jersey and this kid was in heaven. His very own (super over-sized) hockey gear.

His game face


Isn't he just the cutest?!


Never have I seen him so motivated. For the entire 4 week course, all we had to do to get him to finish his dinner is to tell him that Shane Doan eats his entire dinner before he plays hockey.

He even carries his own gear...which is twice the size of him


Hockey is over now, and we start baseball in two weeks. We probably would have continued with hockey, but the only day its offered in February and March is Wednesdays at 5 pm. Who can do that?! The Hubs doesn't often get to leave work until after 5:30 and I fly most Wednesdays. So, hockey will just have to wait until practice is on Saturday mornings....or at least until 6 pm weekdays.

His biggest fan.


Peanut has been Bjorn's biggest fan during hockey, but she seemed to have very little interest in trying it herself. Which worked out well, as she was content to watch him and cheer him on. I DID win a $50 gift card to a local gymnastics studio, and am figuring out which class to start her in. Gymnastics? Dance? Cheer? She is very interested in all three of those, and I've also recently started to teach her yoga. She's a
natural.

Remember this? Planking at 6 months old

Most babies sit, she planks.

Still planking at 7 months old. Wish I had a pic of her doing this now - she still does it!

A few weeks ago, we threw a "Potty Party" for Peanut, complete with the musical potty song, pin the toilet paper on the potty and the TP toss around the living room. It was a blast to have some of Peanut and Bjorn's friends over for a day all about potty-ing.

Musical Potties

TP toss was their favorite

In case you're wondering, I threw the party because I was picked as a host from House Party.com and Pull-ups. But after perusing Pinterest and Google for party ideas, it is apparently a REAL thing that crazy people do even when someone hasn't given them coupons and free pull-ups. Some creative foodie genius even came up with a mini toilet snack: a mini white doughnut, topped with a marshmallow on back to create the toilet tank. I thought about making those and putting two brown m&ms in the middle of the doughnut.

If nothing else, the potty part was an excuse for a playdate on a Saturday morning. And an even better excuse to finally teach my son how to "roll" a tree in the front yard. He is now ready for junior high pranks. And my decorations for the Potty Party were the easiest ones ever. Did you know a 6 pack of one ply toilet paper is only a $1?!

Getting these kids to smile at a camera is like asking a crocodile to sing opera.

I'm sure there is much more to hear about soon. What's going on in your neck of town?


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

She is Fierce

About a year and a half ago, Peanut became very opinionated.

Although it might have been there from the moment she was born, but we just missed it. Maybe she didn't really have acid reflux, she was just voicing her aversions to everything we were doing? I have the feeling this part of her, her temperament, was not created in nurture, but given to her through nature.**

She refused to sit in her high chair, but ate dinner in a chair like the rest of us. Not in a booster. In a big person chair at the big person table. She didn't so much throw a fit as...... told us what she wanted. Pick your battles, right?! Since sitting in a real chair let us get the big, clunky chair out of our small kitchen, it was a win-win.

She also decided she didn't like any clothes that didn't have kitties, Disney or Nick Jr characters and candy (polka dots) on it. All those cute clothes I bought in preparation for a cute, fun, little girl were bought in waste. I am pretty sure that the entire last year she rotated through the same four shirts.

Some will say - well, just make her do it. MAKE her. Some also don't have children and should keep their mouths shut.

Just sayin'.

When she doesn't want something, she lets you know. Sometimes it is with a simple refusal that, if you push the issue, becomes a pleading, horribly sad "No. no nonono  no  no no n o no n o" and it's so heartbreaking you have to forget that you wanted her to take off her rainboots because its 120 degrees outside, and just wrap her in a hug. Sometimes - like that one time I tried to force her into a Christmas dress that *GASP* didn't have a picture of Sofia the First on it - she becomes the Tasmanian Devil. 26 lbs and 30th percentile of ferociousness and kicking legs and scratching nails and judo.

But I never really know with this girl. She is one to keep me guessing.

She now refuses to sit anywhere BUT in her booster chair. It was brought out from the garage when a friend was over with her 9 month old and we needed a place for him to eat. Now, Peanut sits there for meals, or uses that seat to feed her little baby dolls.



She also has become the girliest of girlie girls. When I said that I wasted cute clothes on her last year, I mean the camo and pink pants that she wouldn't wear, the casual tank tops that went unworn. Now she wants to wear nothing but princess dresses, and pink pink pink pink.



Have I mentioned that I hate pink?

Ok, well.... not hate the color, exactly. But I hate that all girls stuff has to be pink. Before Peanut was even born - before we knew we were having a girl - I was dead set against anything being pink. We painted the nursery blue. I bought green curtains. PINK was a four letter word.

Pink is now my world.

She asked to get ice cream tonight saying, "I going to have pink ice cream with pink sprinkles. Mmmm mmm." That's my girl, all right. Pink sprinkles. Her favorite color, she told me last week, is "princess".

Now she shuns all character shirts for dresses she can twirl in, shirts with ruffles and stripes and flowers. She wants "two ponies" (pigtails) with bows....every bow she owns. She wears them all at once.

She is a stubborn, obstinate little girl and I love every bit of it.

Well, mostly. I wish I could figure out how to get her to do what I want her to do, but I haven't quite figured it out yet. Yelling doesn't work. Nor does explaining or describing. Bribery doesn't work either.

All I know is, it is going to be one heck of a ride of a life with her beside me. The quotes I bought for her wall totally sum it up.




Be fierce, my little one. You've got some mountains to move.

** In fact, I am reading "The temperament God gave your spouse" and have found a version for kids. I plan to check it out soon.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Progress

A few weeks ago, I posted my 101 in 1001 list. At first (and I mean in the first few days!), I was gung-ho about crossing stuff off my list, but as it usually goes with any kind of resolution or to-do, the days went by and I became lazier and lazier.

Still, I was able to cross a few things off my enourmous, long, how-am-I-ever-going-to-do-this list.

#26. Run a 5k.

I ran (yes RAN the entire thing!) The Color Run in Tempe with my BF and a few other friends. It was an early morning wake up (YAWN!) to drive halfway across town, but totally worth it. My BF flew in from CO to run the Color Run in support of her hubby's new charity, SPARElife.

I kind of forgot to train for the 5k. Either that, or it was just too dang early to wake up every day to run, but I still did alright. It would have been a lot easier if I had ran more than three times that month, but whatever - I did it. In 40, actually. Not a time I am proud of, except.....I strangely am. Fast or slow, I finished and that in itself is enough. And I had such a good time that I have already signed up for two more 5ks and am contemplating a 10K and 1/2 marathon (my #25.)

#50. Updo my guest bathroom.


Before. Well, after the non-framed mirror was taken down...But Before.

After. HUGE improvement, IMO.
After two months of no mirror and fixtures waiting patiently on the floor to be hung, the bathroom is now "updone". Builder grade mirror is gone, fresh texture and paint is up on baseboards and walls. New caulk is around tub sink. The old fixtures are gone. On the new ones are new towels and a shower curtain perfect for a kids bathroom. The mirror was purchased yesterday, on a fabulous deal and I love it. It's perfect.

# 73. Declutter my junk email.

I don't know when it happened, but sometime over the last five years, I began accumulating emails like they were candy.

When I check my email in the morning, I would have 400+ junk emails. EVERY DAY. I don't have a job that requires people to send me email, so there is NO reason I should be receiving this amount.

Not to mention, I read a budgeting book recently that gave another good reason to unsubscribe to emails. The more "Fantastic deal!" and "You have to buy this NOW" emails you get, the more likely you are to spend your money on unnecessary splurge items. If I really need or want an item, I can research the best deal on it myself, instead of buying it just because a spam email told me I should.

I spent two hours (TWO HOURS!) this morning unsubscribing. I hope that takes care of it, but I have the feeling this is a long process. Something tells me these emails are going to be a little more persistent than just accepting the "opt out".

#85. Submit articles to 10 magazines.

This isn't done, but I submitted article #1 and #2 to a magazine this week. I'll let you know if they are ever printed. It's a good start, at least!

The more you write, the more you grow.


3 1/4 out of 101. If I continue on this pace, there is a good chance I might actually finish most of my list. 3 a month, 12 months a year at just under 3 years, comes to.....well, I wasn't a math major, but it comes pretty close.

Here's looking at you, October 2, 2016!