Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Ode to a Toad

It's not really an ode. I thought about writing one, but I suck at poetry. Prose is more my style, but "Prose to a Toad" sounded stupid.

The toad in question is this one.
Actually, it's like this one, but with blue where the orange part is. That's very important.

During the last week of school, Luke's interest in wearing underpants increased to the point that the first thing he did each evening when we got home was change into some. He can do that himself now. I know this because I accidentally got the underpants out of the drawer one time when he intended to do it himself, and after I had dressed him completely, he undressed and changed underpants to a pair that he got out of the drawer. By himself. It didn't matter what kind, just that he did it himself. The independence? It's lovely and also frustrating. So frustrating.

Still, though he was working really hard, he had not been successful with the actual using the potty part of the operation. Until last Friday night when a small miracle occurred in our life and he used the frog potty at Grandma's house. Three times. We brought it home with us. And, we bought another one the next day. The newer ones have the orange bowl; it was just barely acceptable. The blue-bowled frog is very much his preference.

He used the potty all weekend, even at church in a not-frog potty. Since Monday, he's been wearing underpants for all of his waking hours and he has not had an accident yet. He even went yesterday afternoon when I suggested he just try before we left Aunt Becca's house - on command. He made it happen.

This "potty training" business went just like I thought it would. As soon as it clicked, it was game on. Potty training. Whatever. The only training we've done involves the careful emptying of the bowl (which he must do himself) and hand washing, the rest was just me freaking out like a fool everytime he uttered a breath about needing to potty and washing lots of laundry.

I already feel like I can take him out of the house in underpants and he'll be able to make it to a potty and use it. He still asks for a diaper to poop in, but that's fine with me. We can work on that later - preferrably when he's comfortable sitting on the big potty. I'd rather change poopy diapers than clean poop out of a little plastic bowl, but maybe that's just me?

Thursday, May 16, 2013

What a week.

It's been an emotional week - happy, sad, exciting. I've been too busy processing to think of things to write.

Graduation was fantastic and we had a great weekend. For the first time in a while, we had no where to be on Saturday morning. I woke up before the kids and sat on the porch with Dave to drink my coffee. We went to breakfast and did our shopping, and I spent a few hours cooking for the week. We filled the house with cousins for the evening and Dave made supper. It was a low-key day, and we needed it.

Sunday morning, I found a letter from Dave in my coffee drawer. I sat down in the sunshine in the Big Room to read it while I drank my coffee and I cried. It was one of those things that is just so perfectly on time, so perfectly soothing to the soul, so very needed in the moment. I've read it over and over again since then.

After church we had lunch at Rebecca's with Grandmother, and supper at our house with Grandma. It was a day full of family; a really good day.

Monday was Monday, but Tuesday was the last day of school. For one kid, it was a blast (he had a water party and was just beside himself about having chips and pizza for lunch), for the other, it was hard. It was hard for me, too, knowing how she felt and feeling very much the same. I had written thank you notes to her teachers the night before, trying to fit all of my gratitude for the past three years coherently into a note card. As if three years of loving her wasn't enough, she came home with a hefty three ring binder full of the things she did this year and notes from her friends and her teacher. I flipped through the whole thing immediately, but Dave chose to wait, saying, "I can't handle that right now." The best part is the book with all of her friends handprints and notes about what they liked to do with her and why they like her, including a page from her teacher - which she didn't know about until I read it to her. We sat on the couch last night and went through the whole binder, and at bed time she asked if I would read the friend book again tonight. It's obviously a source of comfort to her. She has asked me to pray for her each night about being out of school because she wasn't ready for it to be over and she misses her friends. I have. I've prayed while she listened, and I've prayed some more later when I went to check on her and found her sleeping. I know she'll be fine once we get fully into the swing of summer, but she's struggling right now, and I'm struggling right along with her. If the end of preschool is this rough, what kind of wreck will I be at the end of high school?

The highlight of the week for them both was coming home Tuesday evening to see our waterslide inflated in the yard. Luke's eyes grew 10 sizes as he asked me, breathlessly, "I get to put my swimpoot on?" Yep. Swimpoot time. They have played and played, and we will probably leave it up until the pool opens next weekend. Then, it will be put away until her birthday party.

We also had our one week check-up on the new earrings, and Dr. Tattoo Piercer gave her a clean bill of health. Again, Luke queued up his list of ailments to report, and asked me about our "appointment" as we were leaving. For some reason, I'm finding his confusion about this especially amusing.

Outside of our household, some of my friends and several others I pray for regularly have also had very emotional weeks with sickness and injury and bad news and good news. It's been a lot to take in, and I've spent a lot of time stopping mid-something to pray for whoever just popped into my head. That's how it works for me, my mind just wanders along doing what it does, then suddenly it's like Emeril makes an appearance in there: "BAM! Someone's Name," and I have to pray.

The verse I've clung to this week is the one Ella's teacher gave them in class on Monday. It seems fitting for most of the people I've prayed for this week.
"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." - Joshua 1:9

Friday, May 10, 2013

Closing a Chapter

Ella's preschool graduation was tonight. Ironically, I paid for preschool graduation and registered for kindergarten in the same week of April. I bought her a dress, sent in a baby picture for the slideshow, made sure she was dressed for cap and gown pictures, and until this week, it's just been a list of things to handle so that she had everything she needed when she needed it. But this week, her teacher's daily Ask Me emails changed into things like, "Friday is graduation! I hope that all of your children will still be joining us for school on Monday and Tuesday of next week. If your child will not be returning for those days, please let me know ASAP so that I can make sure I have everything ready for them on their last day. :)"

Yes, that got me. Because it's not just her last day of the year; it will be her last day at preschool. Ever. Then I started thinking about how much fun she's had there, and about the friends that she won't get to see every day anymore, and about how exciting and sad graduation can be. I started paying attention to her solemn but excited attitude when we talked about it, and I realized that this might be her first, truly bittersweet experience - the first crossroads in her life where there is no where to go but forward, and what's ahead is exciting, but leaving what's behind is sad. And all of that is what made me need to cry about preschool graduation, more than the fact that she seems more grown up each day. Ear piercings and fifth birthdays and kindergarten are big milestones, but realizing that you are telling your friends "goodbye" instead of "see you tomorrow" is, I think, more impactful. She does realize this, and I am humbled by her graceful handling of it. She is not the baby I sent there three years ago.

Tonight, I watched her sing her heart out in the serious way that she always performs, I watched her get her certificate, and I watched a slideshow of pictures of all the kids from all their years at Concord and I let the tears run down my cheeks for all the fun, and all the learning, and all the growing up she did there. At the end of it, I handed her the orange roses I bought for her - orange because we read a book once that had picture of a lady in her cap and gown with roses in her arms and Ella told me then that she wanted orange roses when she graduated. She couldn't believe they were for her, and that they were real, and that there were other presents from Grandma and Pop the Pop, and Aunt Becca, and Grandmother and Papa.

She still has two days of school, and I'm glad for that because now that graduation is over, I know that they will be two days full of play with her friends. I hope she has a blast. I hope the last two days are as good as tonight, because she really loved tonight.

I'm pretty sure this is a peek into the future.

P.S. Guess what else? There was vomit. Is any Roper event complete without it? I think not.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Freshly Pierced

We didn't have Ella's ears pierced as a baby because I wanted to wait until she asked for it. I wanted it to be a big deal for her. She started talking about it a couple of years ago, and I've always told her, honestly, that it would hurt a little. She always decided to wait a little longer.

Last weekend, she started talking about it again in earnest, inlcuding a private conversation in her room where I had to talk through the whole procedure and how it would hurt again. That was Friday night, and she decided she wasn't ready. Sunday morning, as I was getting ready for church, I heard her talking to Luke.

"Luke, do you want to know a secret? I'm going to get my ears pierced so I can wear real earrings. Don't you think that will be pretty?" He did, of course. I think it's awesome that he was the first person she told about her decision.

Then, she started hounding me about when she could get it done. She wanted to go Saturday. I told her to chill because I needed to talk to Dave about it and find a place that would pierce a kid. A place that doesn't use a piercing gun.

I had already done my reading on the subject and decided that, when she was ready, I wanted to take her to a professional piercer. I just wasn't comfortable with the gun, and having had piercings done both ways, I believed the needle route would be a better fit for Ella. I thought she would be more comfortable in the privacy of a piercing room than sitting in the middle of a store where everyone could watch, I thought the gun would freak her out, and I liked the sterility of the individually wrapped needles.

The challenge was finding a place that would do it. Some doctors offices offer it, but that would mean taking time off work. I was looking for a tattoo studio. On my third phone call, I found a place that would do it. I called again the next day to talk to the owner, and he was totally nonchalant about it. He had pierced his own daughter's ears when she was three, and from the things he said, I gather he's pierced lots of kids. He told me what kind of earrings to buy and to just stop by when we were ready. He was going to be out of town over the weekend, so we decided to go last night on the way home after gymnastics. Dave met us there so he could witness this milestone, too.

When we got there, we met the owner's five year old daughter and she talked and talked to Ella about her earrings. I handed over the earrings and he checked them out and said they would work perfectly, then he went to set up. He came back to the lobby a few minutes later and led us back to a room that looked very much like a procedure room in a doctor's office except for the occasional sign with profanity or poster of scantily clad, tattooed, and pierced women. In fact when the piercing was over and Ella got down from the chair, Luke piped up to tell the man, "It's my turn. My tummy hurts." He thought we were at a doctor's office.

Little kids amaze me with their acceptance of people. I had already talked to Ella about the fact that we would see lots of tattoos and different kinds of piercings, to which she responded, "Okay." She hasn't said a word about anything she saw there, including the man who did the piercing, who had several tattoos and piercings of his own. Luke hasn't said anything either. Neither of them seem the least bit affected by it.

Ella was a trooper. She made it through both piercings before she cried, just a little, and by the time we got home, she was fine. This morning, she was very happy watching the light bounce off the little gold hearts in her ears while she was getting dressed in front of her mirror.
Freshly Pierced Ears

Friday, May 03, 2013

More than I Deserve

I went to Breakfast with Mommy at preschool today. There was doughnut stickiness, sweet smiling faces, thumbprint-decorated potted flowers, and happy kids running off to their classrooms with barely time to spare for telling me, "Bye, Ma! See you later alligator, after while crocodile!" They love it there. I love it there.
My Flowers
Ella spent the night with Grandmother last night and I heard that she woke up terribly excited about Breakfast with Mommy and the things she had made for me. She couldn't wait to show me the little book she made about all the reasons she loves her mom, complete with pictures she drew.

It humbled me to my core.

Sometimes I get so caught up in my to-do list, in the routine, in myself, that I forget to stop and appreciate them. Sometimes I'm just going through the motions trying to make sure their physical needs are met - food, drink, sleep, play - that I forget to enjoy the people that they are along the way.

I love them. I love them so much that I tell them "no" and "stop" and "be respectful" and "that's annoying" and "clean up the mess you just made". I love them so much that I acknowledge their anger and hurt feelings and complete, tantruming meltdowns when they don't like my answer, but I don't excuse them from the consequences. I love them so much that I spend too much time working to make sure they have clean clothes, clean teeth, clean bodies, clean dishes, clean rooms; I don't always spend enough time playing. I don't always spend enough time listening, or reading to them, or cuddling them.

And yet, they love me. They love me so much that they get really, really excited about having breakfast with me at school, and about the flower pots they painted with their thumbs, and about the book she made for me.
Ella's Book
It humbles me because the very things she listed as her reasons for loving me are the things that I always think I need to do better. They are more than I deserve.