It’s Been A While…

Hey there! And happy new year! It’s been a long long long time since I’ve posted.

But as I sit here in our home, with all the Christmas decorations finally down, having missed the Downton Abbey premiere because of two children that just didn’t want to go to bed, finally getting around to writing a post I am almost totally unable to think of one thing to write. Because I have a million things I want to write.

In no particular order here are a few things I have on my mind:

Christmas is finally over. The boxes have all been packed and a snug away in the garage until next year. Can’t say that I’ve ever been happy to have it over with either. We started celebrating the day before Christmas Eve and went for six days straight. By the end of it we were all exhausted, crabby, sleep deprived and ill. After six Christmas parties and a birthday party that week I have over 1000 pictures (that’s including our Thanksgiving road trip which I still haven’t posted). I need to edit them and put together a recap post, but it’s a daunting task. And honestly, I don’t even know if I want to see them all again so soon either. Maybe I will conquer that by the end of the week. Maybe I’ll just throw together a few collages. What do you think? Still interested in seeing pictures of Christmas, or ready to forget all about it?

Cedella is turning 3 a week from Monday. 3!!!! WHAT?! So not only do I have a bday party on Saturday to prepare for but I have a letter to write to her and a whole “This is Cedella at 3” blog post to write. There’s so much to say about her. So much that’s new. So much that’s old. And I want to capture it all, all of her, but I can barely get her to stand still, let alone look at the camera so it will have to be very wordy. There are so many crazy silly and unique things about her. Things that I want her to be able to be reminded of when she grows up. Things I want to remember that if I don’t write then down will slip into the ever increasing cracks in my Mom Brain. And then there will have to be a birthday party recap and more pictures to edit.

Isora is growing by leaps and bounds. She started pulling herself up around Thanksgiving, started scooting around the furniture shortly thereafter and now she’s standing alone and is just moments from walking. She says sweet little words like ‘duck’ and her favorite thing to say ‘dada’. She has changed so much in the past month alone that I feel utterly neglectful for not having recorded more about her each month. It really is going by so incredibly fast. But I vow to do a proper update on the 18th. I’m scheduling it now. If you get an empty email that morning you’ll know I’ve forgotten all about it…

Now that it’s really a new year and I’ve gotten motivated to start reorganizing and cleaning it has occurred to me that we have had no schedule or preschool since Thanksgiving. The girls are staying up way past ten at this point and waking up by 8am. In short, they aren’t getting enough sleep. Time to get back into a normal schedule. Dinner before 7. Bath and bed by 8. School on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Housekeeping on Tuesday and Thursday.

Of course, throw in a week like this one, that included a day spent entirely in a hospital waiting room, and two drives to Detroit and back, and how could anyone keep a schedule?

Well at least, we kept one of our scheduled events this week. Because we’ve found a class that Cedella actually loves. Gymnastics!! She’s a natural :)

And yes by all means, it’s the beginning of the year and therefore it’s Resolution Season. But I learned from last year’s resolutions that it is lovely to have goals, but having two small children pretty much means that goals should be simple. Like “I resolve to shower more often”. Or “I resolve to not yell at my kids until after I’ve had coffee”. But that doesn’t mean that I can’t set goals that may not be accomplished this year, or ever for that matter.

So for that reason I’m joining up with Alicia at Clever Compass for a new kind of resolution. A Life List. All week long myself and other bloggers are sharing a list of things we want to do during our lifetimes. Travel. Learn. Try. Do. All of it.

And while I can’t wait to read all the other lists out there I really can’t wait to share mine, if only because it is so incredibly liberating and exciting to think about and write about all the things I want to do with my life. So stayed tuned…

And just because I couldn’t let you go without a pic or two. Here’s my future Olympian and her BFF Anna in full training mode…

And just getting a hang of things…

 

 

 

 

The Trouble of Two

Words haven’t been easy to come by. That’s not quite right. It’s time that hasn’t been easy to come by these days.

I’ve got plenty of words. Most of them have four letters. The one I use the most has ten.

F-R-U-S-T-R-A-T-E-D.

Everything seems tricky these days. Even eating lunch is a full scale production that takes nearly an hour. Getting the three of us dressed and ready in the morning? 45 minutes on a good day (2 hours the other day. 2 HOURS.) And don’t get me started on naps. And that’s just the normal things we have to get done every day.

Our home, our life, even my car seems to be disorganized, disheveled and chaotic.

It sucks.

When Cedella was born and I was learning how to be home and how to fill our days and how to get along in a new city, life seemed so incredibly hard.

And then being pregnant chasing a toddler was just so challenging.

We walked into the house from the birth center on the day Isora was born and perhaps a bag of crazy followed us in the back door. Cause it’s been pretty cuckoo ever since.

Truth is that The Biz is only 8 months old. Only 8 months old? And holy shit she’s already 8 months old.

Seems like once I recovered from her labor we were fast to get into a routine and our leisurely pace to things. The three of us took naps together, or I let the girls sleep and was actually able to ::gasp:: mop the floor! It was as if Isora had always been in our family and our lives hadn’t really changed too much.

We had a summer full of travel and playgrounds and pools and fun. And maybe because we were so busy and so relaxed about things I didn’t see the Beautiful Monster growing right beside me.

Cedella is 2 years and 10 months old. And she thinks she runs our household. Over the past year as she has grown in independence, she has grown in bossiness. The more she learns the more she feels empowered and the more she thinks she’s in charge of all of us.

In the first few months of Isora’s life, Cedella was never mean to her sister. In fact she smothered her with love and affection. She reserved all of her anger and meanness for Michael and me.

But for the past month, now that Isora is sitting, crawling, standing and getting into everything? Cedella is being downright nasty to her sister. There’s a lot of snatching toys out of the baby’s hands, pushing the baby over, tackling her to the ground, shouting in her face. Which means there’s also a lot of shouting and time outs happening.

I talked all about the gentle discipline methods that we try to use in my guest post on Hormonal Imbalances The Gentle Road… and we are still very much attempting to practice these methods but it is just HARD.

There are moments when it takes every single cell in my body wants to grab my child, throw her over my leg and spank her butt. But I know that I just can’t do it…because I have. And it was HARDER.

Yes. I spanked my child. I was trying with absolutely no success to get her to settle down and stop messing with her sister. She began screaming “NO!” at the top of her lungs and just wouldn’t stop. She started screaming right into her sister’s face and Iz started crying. And I grabbed her, put her over my knee and smacked her little behind sharply three times.

The air in the room seemed to change. Her whining became a full-fledged cry of pain. When I sat her up and looked at her face she was bright red. She was gasping for air and she wouldn’t look me in the eye. Tears streamed down her face and I had an instant and guttural memory of being spanked as a child.

I grabbed her and picked up Izzie and held them both in my arms, all of crying and shaking and screaming. I knew I could never put her through that again. I couldn’t put myself through that again.

So I try. I really really try to be more patient. Not to immediately raise my voice. To look at things from her perspective. To let go of the small things and laugh things off. But I can’t handle the violence between the girls.

I know siblings fight. I’m not expecting them to always get along and never argue. But this early? It’s just too much. And it’s all Cedella being aggresive right now. What’s going to happen when Iz gets big enough to fight back? I shudder to think.

At this point I don’t know how to get anything done if I can’t even put Isora down for a few minutes without Cedella giving her a black eye. Load the dishwasher? Can’t do it with Izzie in a carrier and can’t do it with Izzie on the floor. Something as simple as loading the dishwasher becomes a major problem and takes three times as long.

Organize the toys? The second they’re all away, Cedella takes them all back out again.

Put the books on the shelf? She’ll take them all down.

Clothes hung in the closet? She decides to put on a fashion show and take everything off the hangers.

And poor Izzie. I spend so much time talking to and disciplining Cedella that the Biz always gets the short end of the stick. And right now she’s going through a growth spurt, wants to nurse constantly and will not be set down. Ever.

I can’t pick up my phone to make a phone call without it directly signaling at least one of the children to have a melt down. I cannot go to the bathroom without an entourage. My house is a complete disaster area and I’m pretty sure there’s a whole other dog’s worth of white fur on my floors. I can’t find clean socks or underwear for the kids because if they’re clean they’re in a laundry basket and if they’re dirty they’re in a laundry basket and it’s hard to tell which is which some days.

I know that with Cedella I really didn’t start feeling like a had things together until around 11 months. And then she learned to walk and got a mouth full of teeth at once. And all our scheduling and sleeping and organization went to hell again.

So I know that some day things will get easier. But right now? They are hard. And as Isora enters this clingy phase and still has no teeth (I am waiting with bated breath for that shoe to drop already) I know it’s going to get harder before it gets easier.

My whole second pregnancy I felt like people were trying to prepare me for the Trouble of Two. That it is just so much harder when there’s two. But it’s not that much harder than one. So you have to pack slightly more in the diaper bag. A bit more food. More clean clothes. More diapers. But not THAT much more. Just more. (BTW my Mom has already said that three is nothing once you get used to two. Is that for real though?)

Since I’ve had the pleasure of having more than a few nights of putting the girls to bed on my own I have to say, once I got the routine down, it wasn’t too bad at all. Maybe a bit stressed, but not horrible.

I think where the Trouble of Two comes in is the personality of the kids. Something you could never never ever prepare for. If Cedella was the easy kid and Isora was the tricky one made things would be easier. I could just pop the tricky kid in the carrier and call it a day. But no, I’m not popping my tricky kid into the carrier and going on about my day. My chiropractor would NOT be pleased with that!

So what’s the solution? Obviously spanking is out. Time outs are pretty much a joke. Taking away toys or sweets or cartoons doesn’t really work. Taking away playdates gets her thinking but still doesn’t curb the bad behavior. What else should I try?

Suggestions and comments are always welcome because I trust all of you and am literally at the end of my rope here…

And just so that you don’t think my kids are always so unreasonable and evil…

Thanks for giving me the opportunity for a good old fashioned rant. I needed that.

Wordful Wednesday: The Doctor is In

Part of our attempts at Preschool at Home is to work on some imaginative play and following Cedella’s interests.

Well lately? She’s been interested in all things ‘Doctor’ related. Every time we go to Anna’s house to play she finds the Doctor set and drags it around the house.

Somewhere in our house she found a stethoscope and worn it around her neck all day. So I gathered some bits and pieces of Doctor gear around our house and I built her a little kit and set up a Doctor’s appointment for her Baby Doll. And yes, this doll is called Baby Doll.

I set up all her Doctor gear: glasses, stethoscope, thermometer and script pad. And her new computer. Because, as she reminded me, all Doctors have computers. Which is so very very true.

But really, she just wanted to include her computer in this game. This computer is the coolest thing she’s ever seen. And she tap tap taps away, just like her Mom. She may have officially gone over to the Tech Side of things. Thanks Grandma Becky!

When Baby Doll was ready she listened to her heart.

And took her blood pressure. Which she insisted that she was different even though she did the same thing.

And then she had to type everything into her computer.

When she was done taking her notes she wrote Baby Doll a prescription for a nap. Seriously. She said Baby Doll needed to rest so she could feel better. Smart kid. Wish she would follow her own advice sometimes.

It was so much fun to watch her imagine her way through this ‘appointment’. She created problems and talked through them. When she was playing with the computer she kept telling me to stop taking pictures so she could ‘do work’. I love that she wants to ‘do work’. And when she finally prescribed Baby Doll some rest, Cedella gently tucked the doll into her own bed, kissed the dolly forehead and tell her everything would be alright.

So it was no surprise that a few days later when we visited her BFF Anna that once again the Doctor kit came out. Only this time? It was Princess Doctor. And it was FABULOUS.

Anna said she had a tummy ache, so Doctor Cedella listened to her stomach to hear what was wrong.

Then she gave Anna a shot to make her feel better.

I think they both enjoyed it, huh?

Have you ever stopped to just watch your kids play? I say that because I never really had. Not without interfering in some way. But when she was playing Doctor by herself, Izzie was sleeping and I just sat back and took an occasional picture and watched her.

Slowing down for a moment and just really watching her imagine and play was pretty incredible.

Everything is so new and fresh and unique to her. Seeing things for the first time through her eyes is amazing.

To us grown-ups playing Doctor means to do simple tasks like checking your heart, giving shots or typing notes on a computer. (*Or something dirty. But please, we’re talking about little kids here. Let’s keep our minds out of the gutter.)

But for her it meant more than that. It meant taking care of Baby Doll, and making sure Baby Doll knew everything was ok.

My girl has the most unbelievable sense of compassionate and empathy.

Whenever another child cries or gets hurt she becomes very quiet and focuses on  figuring out what went wrong and how she can help them. And while I will gladly take some credit for teaching her to care for others, her intense connection to making others feel better is all her own.

Maybe Monk will grow up to be a Doctor. Maybe she’ll be an Artist. Or even the President. That is not important to me. What I hope is that she will grow up to be a kind, smart, confident and compassionate person.

And I think she is already on that path.

How do you instill the values of compassion, kindness and caring in your children? How do you use imaginative play in your house?

Happy Wordless/Wordful Wednesday to you all!!