Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Mommy Mule

Somehow, during Ella's infancy, Dave started calling me The Mommy Mule. I tried to be offended about it because it hardly seemed fair that he got the cool name of Knee Donkey, but I had to be a mule. Then I started thinking about all the crap I haul around all the time and decided it pretty much fits. Thus, when Dave came home last night and found us like this in the kitchen, he greeted us with reference to The Mommy Mule.
Luker Man has been skipping his late afternoon power nap lately because he's too busy learning to crawl/walk/crawl/we really don't know which he will do first. At any rate, skipping that power nap makes him one fussy baby in the evenings. Last night I decided, instead of listening to him fuss as I rushed around trying to do all the things and comfort him while the overall stress level of the whole house rose, I would tie him on in a back carry. 

I believe Ella was a few months older when I started wearing her on my back, but I've been thinking Luke might be long enough and strong enough for it to work, so we gave it a try. He wiggled and bounced for the first few minutes, and then settled down when he realized he could reach all sorts of new things while I worked. Then we needed to include Ella in the picture taking.
Putting him on my back was a very good idea, because he finally got that power nap. He slept for about twenty minutes while I finished making supper. 
I tried to lay him down without waking him. That didn't happen, but he did wake up happy and ready to gobble bites of chicken finger and sips of juice. He made it happily through bath time and slept better last night than he has in the past few (sleep begets sleep, you know).

Here's to babywearing for making a would-be hectic evening calm and relaxing. I think I've mentioned before that I love my Babyhawk carrier.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Luke's First Crush

I have to admit I was unprepared for this. I mean, I know boys have testosterone surging through their bodies from the moment their gender is decided, but I really wasn't prepared for my son to have his first crush on a girl at the ripe old age of 7 months.

He's in love. Head over heels, can't be distracted, in love. She's cute. Blonde, big blue eyes, curvy, petite -some might even say pixie-ish. Maybe a little too scantily clad for my liking, though.

Luke is crushing hard-core on Tinkerbell. It's so bad, I feel like I need to buy him a poster to tape on the ceiling above his bed.

It makes sense, of course, that because she's an older woman he met her through his big sister. He loves it when Ella wears her Tinkerbell nightgown or t-shirt. He can't get enough of Tink on the folding chair in the living room. It's not good enough to sit in the chair, he has to pull up and stand there looking at it so he can touch her. We have to hide it from him to get him to play with his own toys. It's serious, and it's just Tinkerbell, too, because there are two other fairies on that chair and he pays them zero attention.

I'm really thinking we might need to get him a Tinkerbell blanket so he will have something of his own with her face on it. Big Sister is getting a little tired of his new obsession.

Thursday, March 24, 2011


I already know that I'm the kind of parent who is more likely to make a donation to the school than peddle the wares all around the neighborhood to raise money (for many reasons which I will not discuss at this time because that's not the point of this post). I also know that should an opportunity arise where the kids feel strongly about the cause for which money is being raised, they will be primarily responsible for raising the money (i.e. it will be their decisions whether they peddle the wares, and I hope they make them for better reasons than winning the prizes). I recognize the value of teaching my kids about raising money and giving money for good causes. As with most everything I want to teach them, I know that I need to start now.

We already model giving in a variety of ways. Ella has seen us tithe when she joins us in church for "big music" and she has even insisted on putting money in the offering plate herself. She understands that when her clothes do not fit her anymore, we pack them up and give them to someone else who needs clothes. She already has a very generous spirit, offering to share her imaginary whatever we have run out of and need to buy at the grocery store this week.

Her preschool has presented us with a great opportunity to talk about raising and giving money. When I first heard they were doing a trike-a-thon, my initial reaction was not to be bothered with fundraising. Then I learned that they are raising money for St. Judes Children's Hospital - a cause that has always touched my heart. I decided that we will partcipate in more than just the trike riding part.

Last night, I set about explaining the trike-a-thon and that we are going to raise money to help kids that are very sick and have to be in the hospital a long time. Understanding the way she works, I expected her reaction. She had three concerns, in this order.
1. "I don't want them to ride my tricycle." -  "Them" being her friends at school, and I explained that everyone will have their own tricycle and helmet.
2. "I'm not going to be sick?" - I explained that these kids aren't sick with an ear infection or a tummy ache, they are very, very sick and they have to stay at the hospital for a long time to get medicine in their IVs.
3. "I don't have any money! I used all my money in my piggy banks!" - I told her that she just needs to think about it a little and maybe we can ask some people if they want to give money to help the sick kids.

Later in the evening, she told me that Cinderella, who has been substitute teaching her students, is sick so Ariel has to teach the babies. And, she told me that she has some money to give for Cinderella because she is very sick. So, I think we are on the right track. If you live nearby and have enough regular interaction with Ella that she will actually talk to you (they are few and far between), don't be surprised if you are asked for money for the sick kids.

On that note, if you are asked or you are reading this post as the solicitation it's about to become, please do not feel obligated to give money if you aren't moved to do so. I absolutely believe in giving, but I absolutely do not give to anything that doesn't move my heart and I don't expect anyone else to do so either.

If you would like to help Ella raise money or you just want to support St. Jude's, please contact me or visit her page to make a donation online at this link: EGR's Trike-a-thon Page. The Trike-a-thon is April 1st, so please donate buy that date if you feel so moved.

I will consider this a success if I can convince her to ask one person for money and if she will actually ride her tricycle at the Trike-a-thon next week!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Conversations with EGR

I love talking to Ella because I never know what that child is going to say. She always surprises me with the depth of her thought processes. These are just a few of the things she's told me recently.

We were lying in bed one cool, Saturday morning a few weeks ago with the windows open. Then wind changed, and we smelled the chimney smoke from the neighbor's house accross the street. She promptly exclaimed, "I smell fire! Everyone needs to get out!" I explained that the smoke was coming from the neighbor's fireplace and that we didn't have to evacuate at that time, but that she was correct, we would normally have to get out. I guess she was paying attention when the fireman came to school, even though this is the first I've heard about that visit (in October) other than her insistence that she doesn't like firetrucks.

Last week on our drive home after work, she was telling me that she doesn't like dinosaurs. I reminded her that she had recently painted a really pretty one. She thought quietly for a minute, and then she asked, "Are they strong?" Yes. "Do we eat them?" No. This lead to an ongoing conversation during that evening about what animals we do eat. She was comfortable with the fact that some people eat "deers" but could not accept that we eat chicken, cows, and pigs.

For the last two nights, she has worn panties for bedtime instead of a pull-up. This was at her complete insistence, and both nights she stayed dry until morning. We were talking about it during our morning snuggle time yesterday and I pointed out that she is almost ready to say "goodbye diapers" completely, but she has to start pooping in the potty first. She told me that it is hard to poop in the potty and she doesn't want me to give her diapers away to someone else who needs them yet because she still needs them right now. I love that she was able to articulate that she can't get comfortable enough while sitting on the potty to poop there yet. We will respect this and wait for her to make that decision when she feels ready.

Last night, Pop the Pop ate supper with us. While we were eating, she asked him, "Are you going to spend the night with us?" (We've never had overnight guests at our house.) He asked her if he could sleep in her bed with her, and she told him, "No, you have to sleep in a big person bed." I guess she doesn't think hers is a big person bed because it's not on a frame, or maybe just because she sleeps in it and she's not a big person.

This morning as I was loading them into the car, she stopped me with her serious face and told me, "You need to teach Aunt Becca the bedtime song so she can learn about it." I said, "So she can sing it to the new baby?" She said, "Yes, I will help you."

She has already started asking what I think of as an intro to the hard questions, like "Where is God?" I've already noticed that she's put quite a bit of thought into the answers before she asks, so I try to feel her out before I answer to make sure I'm providing information at an appropriate level for her understanding. For example, she asked me where Jesus was, and I wasn't sure if she was talking about Jesus in Heaven or the baby Jesus from our Nativity scene, which she knows is stored under the house right now. She is still very literal in her thinking sometimes. This particular time, she was looking for me to tell her he was in Heaven.

The H. Luke Update
The Littlest Roper is on the brink of exploding into mobility. He can now sit unassisted, as of today, including getting into the sitting position by himself. Over the weekend, he pulled up on the side of the kiddie pool. He has crawled across our laps, but he hasn't realized he can do it on the floor yet. Here's a picture of him from his morning.

He mostly eats table food now, inlcuding the steak we had for supper last night, and he finally figured out how to get the puffs into his mouth by himself. He has pincer grasp, but he doesn't use it all the time yet, probably because stuffing the puffs in by the handfuls is more efficient.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Unfriending Facebook

I've decided to unfriend Facebook. I haven't gone so far as to delete my account, but I've logged out and unchecked the Keep Me Logged In box and I've removed the link from my Favorites bar.

I've come to realize that this constant view into people's lives is too much for me. I really need to go about my life blissfully unaware of other people's business unless they tell me about personally. I get too caught up in a few sentences posted and forget to consider that I don't know the whole picture. Luckily, I've been able to stop my itchy fingers from commenting without thinking, but I feel myself jumping too quickly to butt into other's business to offer unsolicited advice. I hate unsolicited advice.

Because I read so much, I have a lot of random knowledge stored in my head. I'm a virtual library of randomness, and I love to solve new puzzles, so I'm constantly learning. This makes it hard for me to keep my mouth shut (and fingers still) when I see someone struggling with something that I know about. I know that it makes me seem like a know-it-all, and I guess I probably am. But, I can honestly say I'm more like the nerdy kid in class that just can't help but raise her hand and answer the question rather than the "I know more than you, so I'm superior" type of person. (I just realized that I am Hermione Granger.)

I've also realized that I feel things too intensely to know about everybody's business. I get too caught up other people's hurt/anger/frustration/sadness, etc. and I worry about things that I have no control over. That really isn't good for me.

 A lot of people have given up Facebook for Lent. I'm starting to think that's not a bad idea for me as well.

I probably won't be posting links to the blog there for a while, but you can always access the blog directly. Also, feel free to comment on any blog post in the "post a comment" section below. Your comments won't show up automatically because I have to approve and publish them first (to prevent spam), but I'll do that frequently.

Smell you later, Facebook!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Family Foto Fun

Luke has finally solved his combined problem of being basically immobile and having malfunctioning "go go gadget arms." No longer does he have to worry about being stranded, unable to reach his toys - I present you with his newly improvised, rolling wagon of fun (courtesy of Grandmother). It even comes with a readily available napping surface, of which he is known to take advantage.

Ella requested a walk yesterday afternoon and she wanted Luke to ride in the wagon with her. I packed them both in there, her in the seat, him in the bottom with a Boppy wrapped around him. It must be quite relaxing to ride along, watching the clouds, listening to plastic wheels on the pavement, with a nice, spring breeze on your face, because approximately 10 steps into our walk, he was passed out cold. Today he's making the rounds at Grandmother's house with all of his things in reach.

Oh, and Ella sends her love as well.
This is the second "hand kiss" I've received from her today. The first happened when I dropped her off this morning. She was quite disgruntled by the Daylight Savings Time wake up and she told me she was going to be ugly today. I told her that was fine as long as she went to her play room to be ugly. She then told me, "I'm going to time out!" I said, "Okay, but give me a bye kiss first." She efficiently kissed her hand, patted my cheek, and passed me by on the way to time out. I guess she needed a break before she got started with her day. I know the feeling.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

We've got spirit, how 'bout you?

I started a new book yesterday called Raising Your Spirited Child, by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka. I laughed through the whole first chapter. She says some readers cry through it because they are so relieved to find out others have children like theirs, but me, I laughed because it completely validated what I already knew about my daughter.

She is spirited.

What does that mean? Some slightly more negative synonyms are "strong-willed", "difficult", "challenging" - you get the idea. With the exception of "strong-willed", I don't like those other words because, while they do apply, they make the very essence of her self seem somehow wrong. I know there is nothing wrong with her, she's just different. To put it in the author's words, she "more" - "more intense, sensitive, perceptive, persistent, and energetic." I tell people that she is everything I wished her to be and she's also my biggest challenge. She's amazing and frustrating - often at the same time. I'm both awestruck and infuriated by her - often within seconds. It's the reason I pray, "Thank you God for this amazing child. Please don't let me screw her up."

There is a quiz in the book that helps you rate your child for each of the characteristics of spiritedness (intensity, persistence, sensitivity, perceptiveness, adaptability, regularity, energy, first reaction, and mood). The total scale goes from 1 to 45, with 1 being the low-key, cool child and 45 being the spirited child. EGR scored a 35. I also rated myself and I scored a 28, which is the highest score in the "spunky" category meaning that I'm pretty spirited myself (29 - 45 is spirited). I didn't rate Dave, but I'm pretty sure he falls well into the spirited range.

These are some of my favorite quotes from the book that describe Ella.

"They don't cry; they shriek." - Holy moly, that couldn't be more true since the very minute she was born. The only time I've seen her just cry was during her allergy testing when there were silent tears flowing down her cheeks. Even that was a dramatic reaction given how different it was from the way she normally handles things.

"Getting them to change their mind is a major undertaking. They love to debate and are not afraid to assert themselves." - She is her father's daughter. Enough said.

"...quickly respond to the slightest noises, smells, lights, textures, or changes in mood." - Um, yes, yes, and yes. She hears, smells, sees everything and asks about it. She does not miss a thing.

"It can take ten minutes to get them from the house to the car. They notice everything - the latest oil spill, the white feather in the bird's nest, the dew in the spider web. They're often accused of not listening." - True. How often do I tell her to listen with her ears?

"They hate surprises and do not shift easily from one activity or idea to another." - Just ask Papa about his experience the day he picked her up from school without telling her first.

"A quick withdrawal from anything new is typical of many spirited kids." - Ha! Anyone who knows her knows this is true about her.

"They're analytical, meticulously reviewing experiences, finding the flaws, and making suggestions for change." - How many times in the last week did we discuss Grandma's car? It was in the shop to have the power steering fixed. We had to look at it when we drove by it, we talked about what was wrong with it, we prayed for it every night, and last night we finally called Pop to find out if it was fixed yet. Then we thanked God that it was. I feel certain we aren't finished discussing it yet.

I can't wait to finish this book and add another set of skills to my parenting toolbox. Do you have a spirited child?

Friday, March 04, 2011

On Crying It Out

There’s a practice in the world of parenting infants that I abhor. It’s called “cry it out” or CIO. It keeps popping up around the edges of my life lately, and I have reached my limit of disturbed so now I have to write about it.

It means sleep-training, letting your baby cry and cry and cry until it learns to “self-soothe”. There are varying degrees of it from checking on them occasionally to make sure they are “safe” to leaving them crying until they vomit and then determining if there is enough vomit to necessitate a change of bedding. Enough vomit? Are these people for real? People do this with their infants, their tiny few-month-old babies, their 9-month old babies, their innocent, completely dependent, unable-to-communicate-their-needs-with-words-so-they-cry babies.

They do it because the doctor told them to. They do it because they are tired of getting up with baby in the middle of the night. They do it because this society has convinced them that tiny little babies with tiny little tummies should be able to sleep for 10 straight hours without waking up to eat. Or cuddle. Or touch base with Mom.

I. Do. Not. Understand. It.

I find it impossible to believe that any mother can listen to her child cry for hours on end without feeling a very basic, biological, psychological, physiological need to do everything in her power to get to that child. That’s the way God made us. Because babies cry for a reason. Just because you don’t know what the reason is does not mean it’s not valid! If you don’t want to get up in the middle of the night to feed said tiny, dependent, human being then DON’T FREAKING HAVE ONE!

Right now, the top of my head may pop off and my blood might just boil over.

Every time I hear or read about someone leaving their baby to cry alone, I become physically ill. I can feel the vomit rising up in my throat. And I hurt for that poor baby that has no other way to communicate. That sees its parents as the sun and the moon and the stars, as everything in its life, that cannot understand why those people who care for it will not meet its needs.

Reality check: Babies wake up at night. They just do. They have tiny tummies that need filling often. They have a biological need to be near their parents, especially Mom. They need diaper changes. They have tummy aches. They get scared. They feel lonely. They will continue waking up at night until they are developmentally ready to not wake up at night anymore. That might happen at a few months old, or it might happen at 4 years. It depends on the child. If you try to force it by making your baby cry and cry and cry alone in the dark, you are going to make the child distrustful, detached, and dependent. If you think CIO is “working” you should rest assured that your baby stopped crying because it gave up on you.

If you are doing it because someone told you to, stop. Listen to your instincts and pick up your baby. If you are doing it because you are tired of the inconvenience of getting up at night, shame on you. With all sincerity (albeit through a blood-red haze of fury), and for your own sanity, I hope your baby does not aspirate on its own vomit.

It’s bad for mom; it’s bad for baby.

Some information, if you don’t want to take the word of a crazy, ranting, liberal, hippie mother.

On infant sleep:

Links to studies about infant sleep:

8 Infant Sleep Facts Every Parent Should Know:

Baby-centered tips to help you with sleep:

Links to studies explaining why CIO is bad:

Happy reading. I hope it’s thought provoking for you.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Building Her Nest

I've always heard about kids building a nest of their favorite things in their beds at night. To some extent, Ella has been doing this for a long time with an assortment of babies or the favored stuffed animals of the day. However, recently, I think she has officially started building what I can only call a nest because of the random assortment of junk she includes.

It's not only her bed she builds the nest in. If she comes to our bed in the middle of the night, she brings her nest with her. I've known this, too, but I didn't realize the extent of it until I pulled back the covers of my bed the other morning and found the following.

A sippy cup of water
Two slippers (Not so unheard of if they had fallen off her feet during the night, but no, she brought them from her nightstand, where I had put them at bedtime.)
A stuffed animal
A picture of her friend, Brooklyn
A baby doll
A strip of plastic tile floor out of the dollhouse

I don't know what logic she applies in deciding what goes to bed, but I know she has a reason for all of it. I know what happens if I try to move any of it out of the bed.