The past month has taught me how beautifully adaptable kids can be. We have been in the midst of renovation chaos, and the girls have been rolling with the punches. The other day while I was working on something upstairs, Brian was putting together some of the kitchen cabinets in the basement while he was watching the girls.
They decided to help...
"Here, Clara, I'll hold this together while you attach that thingy-ma-bob"
It's possible they were just playing... When I was about Clara's age, my Dad built the house I grew up in. I distinctly remember coming to the construction site with my blue squeaky rubber hammer and 'helping' to nail in some baseboards. It's funny, because I clearly remember that it was a rubber hammer I was using and yet I believed for years that I had actually helped build that house. It will be interesting to see how Clara remembers this time when she is older.
My girls are insanely observant. We have known this about Clara for a long time, that we will change one small thing in a room and she will instantly be drawn to that small thing. "What's that?" Recently her Grandparents changed the small rug that they used by the back door for shoes, and the first thing she said when she walked in was "You got a new rug!" We were impressed, because we hadn't noticed the rug at all. In the past few days, we've noticed that Audrey has this same attention for details. The progress on our kitchen these past few days have been marked by small changes, and when she enters the room each day, she will immediately point to whatever she notices that is new. This week, the kitchen sink and faucet were one of the changes, and she points immediately to that side of the room, wanting to take a look.
Tomorrow will mark the end of four full weeks without a proper kitchen. I had hoped everything would be done by November 15 - wishful thinking, I suppose, since half of the project we had to do on our own, and we are not construction workers... this has been slow going.
Amongst all of this chaos, it has been difficult not to get discouraged. With two little girls who need constant attention, we haven't been able to get much work done very quickly. Even with all of the babysitters we have been recruiting, the extent of our progress has had to happen in 1-2 hour intervals in the evenings and weekends, and sometimes just one of us can work at a time. Also, because so much of the project is done with power tools, we can't do most of it after the girls go to bed at 8. Did I mention this project was coming along slowly?
This is the chaos as it was yesterday morning...
Last night, however, I put in a couple of hours installing our laminate flooring and although I really only completed a few more feet - I managed to bring it to a point where suddenly the project feels as though it is near completion. Looking back over what we had accomplished so far had me feeling excited instead of discouraged for once. And now I can't wait to continue! Here's a sneak peek at the difference so far:
From this (before the renovation began):
To this (same corner from a different angle):
It's hard for me to see what the finished product will be in this picture, because I have trouble seeing through mess. I'm so excited to finally be done with this chaos!
Just short of a full month later, here are some of the photos taken at Audrey's first Birthday parties...
First, despite our initial intentions, we bought her a few gifts ourselves and we had her open them at our house on the morning of her birthday, before we left for Party #1.
Clara got a bit excited about Audrey's gifts, and we had to repeatedly remind her that it was Audrey's birthday, and to let Audrey open her gifts by herself. We did let Clara help every so often when Audrey clearly needed some assistance.
That evening, we went to Brian's parents house for Audrey's first party. For a few reasons this year, I asked our Moms if they would be willing to host Birthday parties for Audrey's first birthday this year. We were getting ready for our upcoming renovation, and I just wasn't sure we'd be able to host anything for Audrey in our home. Also, although neither of our families are very large, and we have only a few friends that we insist on inviting to our girls' birthdays, when we collect them all together, it's quite a crowd - larger than any one location can comfortably host. So, our Moms were willing to do this for Audrey for this year.
Brian's Mom got some cute ideas from Pinterest...
At first, Audrey only picked at her mini-cake, but soon she was grabbing handfuls and stuffing them in her face. This is her 'I can't believe I ate the whole thing...' look,
even though she didn't.
I love all of the gifts she got. We tried to encourage people to not bring gifts for her, and the few items we did get for her were brilliant. The girls have an insane number of toys, and it's almost impossible to think of things that aren't just repititions of gifts they already have, but that classic old telephone is a gem, and the Melissa & Doug condiments kit with matching magnetic lids is a great way for Audrey to practice her coordination and colour matching. She also got some books, and clothes, and a few other toys that were great compliments to the girls' toy collection.
My Mom hosted a party for her the next day, and it was time for more cupcakes!
Clara got a few small gifts at my Mom's party - what are your thoughts on that? Should siblings get small gifts at their siblings parties? I've heard conflicting perspectives on this, and I can agree with both sides of this argument. I don't know if we'll actively try to do either though, so I'm curious to hear other opinions...
The chocolate icing beard...
By the end of Day 2, Audrey had mastered the art of opening presents.
We had a great Audrey-focused weekend, and I am so grateful to our families for hosting these parties for us at this time in our lives. I hope that Audrey won't hold it against me for not hosting her parties personally, but I wanted to make sure she got the attention she deserved. When Clara turned 1, I rediculously overplanned her first Birthday - for Audrey, I underplanned by asking others to do it for me. I guess that's just life...
I had an interesting discussion with a friend awhile ago about whether or not to start a child in lessons/classes early (or not) and about which classes were better to begin earlier than others. I had always said that music is something that can be picked up later in life, and physical activity must be done early. My experience told me that beginning piano lessons at age 13 did NOT slow me down, and I pretty much caught up to others in my age group after about two years - so piano lessons could therefore begin at either age 7 or at age 14, and you would all end up in the same place by age 16 (ish).
Athletics didn't work this way for me - my Dad had no interest in sports, and so there was no encouragement to become involved in team sports when I was a child. At about age 12, I decided I wanted to do something active - like my friends were - and joined a community soccer team. It became quite clear, quite quickly, that I would never catch up. I had been too inactive for too long, and so I quit and decided that 'if only' my Dad had encouraged athletics when I was young, maybe I could have been athletic as a teenager as well. Sigh.
Anyway, my friend argued that for some people it is the opposite - beginning music early is imperative if they are to truly learn and grasp all of the concepts, and athletics come naturally so some can pick those up later in life and be just fine.
So all these years I thought I could be a ballerina if only I had been exposed early enough... and the truth was? I'm musical. Music is natural to me. Sports are not. And likely, no amount of experience could have kept me on the court that day my elementary school basketball coach told me that it was probably best for me to sit on the bench for the rest of the tournament...
Anyway, I am making a general assumption about my daughters that may or may not prove to be true in a few years: I'm assuming that they will also lean toward music and academics and struggle a bit more in the physical education department. My husband and I were both the types to avoid gym class at all costs, and both of us excel in music.
For this reason, I decided that I will (for my daughters) encourage physical education early. Brian and I will have to really push ourselves out of our comfort zone to do some of these activities with them, but I also wanted to get them involved in some kind of classes/lessons as soon as possible.
Excuse the rotton photo - I was trying to catch a running subject without getting anyone else in the picture. Didn't quite work.
Last week Clara attended the last class in her first 10-week session of gymnastics. She is in a class for 3-5 year olds (yes, I know she's only 2) but the administrator, who is a close friend of ours, told me that she would likely be ready to start already this year. Intellectually she is not slow for her age, and because she is used to hanging around with kids who are in the 3-5 year old age group, I hoped this would go well.
The first week was a bit of a surprise. Clara has never been clingy with me, and for this first class she insisted that I stay with her. She participated in almost nothing that the other kids were doing, and I was nervous that she would always need me beside her and would never be confident enough to run and jump with the other kids.
The second week was encouraging and discouraging. Encouraging, because she attempted a few of the activities and seemed more confident than the week before. Discouraging, because she seemed to be really awful at sitting, listening, and following directions. She was 'that kid' who spent her time running around doing other things and paying little or no attention to what she was supposed to be doing. As someone who teaches kids myself, I know how it feels when a parent remains too involved in a class setting - the more a parent is involved with their kid, the less able the teacher is to interact with the child, which makes it almost impossible for the teacher to properly teach. I knew that on one hand, if I was always stepping in to try to get Clara to 'sit still and listen' I was robbing the teachers of the chance to figure out how to get my kid to 'sit still and listen'. But, on the other hand, if the teachers were spending all of their time trying to get Clara to 'sit still and listen', then I felt bad for the other kids whose experience would be diminished because of my daughter.
For the third class, I left. The teachers knew where to find me, and I had explained to Clara that I would not stay. After about half an hour I guess there were a couple of kids who had meltdowns and wanted to come see their moms (I was informed that this sort of thing always happens in groups - when one kid gets the idea, at least one other will follow). She stayed up with me for a little while, and then I took her back downstairs to her class and left her there, where she remained for the rest of the class.
I should probably add that for the first few classes I bribed her with cake pops from Starbucks if she listened to her teachers...
For the remaining gymnastics classes, she did pretty well. I don't think she ever got to the point where she was brave enough to do everything that the other kids were doing - she's a pretty timid little girl, and I think trampolines kind of freak her out - but for the rest of the session she only came to see me once, and I was told that this time she hadn't been the 'first kid' to call for her Mom that day. I was pretty proud of her.
So anyway, my plan is to keep her in something that is physically active at all times, and to introduce some kind of music classes at some point in the future - if our budget allows, that is.
I struggle with the idea that so many talents require a lot of work and practice - that if my child chooses someday to be an expert *whatever*, I hope that they have been given adequate training for that to be possible. I know that some things - like ballet, I believe - require you to begin early. If you want to be a ballerina, but take no ballet until you're 16, I believe you don't have a shot anymore. Recreational, maybe, but at this point you are 'too old' to ever be a professional. I know I can't put my daughters in everything, because I also think that kids are way too busy these days, but I would hate to know someday that their dreams could not be realized because of my choices for them.
What are your thoughts about lessons and classes? Should kids start early? Later? Are kids in too many things these days? What did you do for your kids?
Back in September, I wrote this post on my dreams for our new kitchen. In a nutshell, that post includes photos of our kitchen - as it was - as well as my thoughts and dreams about what to do instead. Some of those thoughts and dreams have changed slightly - some things from necessity, and some because we had a 'better idea'. One week and 5 days ago, my kitchen changed from this:
And from this (on the other side of the room):
I didn't think to take a photo of the laminate that was in the kitchen before, but we pulled it up to discover this old linoleum. We've had a few 'glitches' - to say the least - in this whole project. First, the window, which was supposed to be in on November 1 so that day 1 of the demolition would also include installation of the new window. However, there was something about a glass company strike and we find out the day before the renovation was to begin that our window would be delayed for a month. So, the window has been boarded up and will be installed last - after everything else is (hopefully) already completed.
The next issue happened when we asked about the pocket door - and could we choose our own design for it? (I wanted frosted glass panels, but not the one that actually says 'pantry') So, our contractor told us to go buy whatever we wanted and he would install it. Because we needed a 22" door, we had to order it in ($350 door, by the way...) and it wouldn't come in for a number of weeks also. After some searching, we discovered that no one carried 22" doors (24" is the smallest) so we would have to order in from anywhere - and our contractor was needing the door early so he could frame it into the wall. Anyway, as it turned out it was possible to increase the size of the door opening to 24" and we were able to get an in-stock door (in the style we wanted) for $100. We were also able to cancel our initial door order. So that one worked out ok.
Now, the boarding has been done...
And most of the electrical, although you can't really see that.
Oh yeah, and where I used to be able to see this wall when standing in the kitchen? (Excuse the packing mess)
Now I see this chaos! Which will hopefully someday just be a normal living room...
So there we are so far. I hate renovating. The mess is atrocious and everything is always lying around because right now nothing seems to have a home. Or, at least, not a home we can get to.
Sigh. I hope to be done soon.
Henoch-Schonlein purpura is a disorder that causes inflammation and bleeding in the small blood vessels in skin, joints, intestines and kidneys. The most striking feature is a purplish rash, typically on the lower legs and buttocks. HS purpura can also cause abdominal pain and aching joints. Rarely, serious kidney damage can occur. (Mayoclinic.com)
Saturday, October 26th, on Audrey's first birthday as it happens, we discovered a rash on Clara's legs and lower stomach. She had light pink spots all over, and she insisted that they didn't hurt or itch or bother her in any way. That morning I had opened a new package of tights for her to wear, and since she had shown signs of skin sensitivity as an infant, I assumed the rash was from the unwashed tights. Since she insisted the spots didn't bother her, and she also was determined to wear her new tights, we decided it would be ok to leave them on her.
When we arrived home from Audrey's birthday party, the rash had spread to cover Clara's body except her face and head, although there were a few spots on the underside of her chin. They still seemed not to be bothering her, but like the paranoid mother I am, I turned to Google to solve my problem. I searched for images of 'rash on toddler legs' to try to find something that appeared to be the same as what Clara found. The closest photo I found was the one in THIS article. If you don't follow the link and read the article, I'll sum it up for you - a 9-year-old boy developed this rash (that, in appearance, seemed identical to what I saw on Clara) and died.
Assuming I was overreacting - like I'm known to do - but wanting to play it safe, I called the local health line and spoke to a nurse about it. After asking me what seemed like a thousand questions about whether Clara had eaten anything strange, etc., she asked me to describe the rash. After examining her closely, I had to use the word 'bruise-like' to describe some of the small spots on her legs. As soon as I said this, the nurse told me that a rash with a bruise-like appearance is a 'red flag' in her books, and that I needed to take my daughter in to a clinic immediately.
I stammered and tried to back track... I was just overreacting, wasn't I? It was after 10pm and we had just gotten back from a party and the girls needed sleep for the next day when we would be having a second party for Audrey... I really wasn't expecting to be told to take her in. I was expecting to be reassured that she was probably fine and that there was no reason to be concerned unless x, y and z happened. I guess the bruising was x, y and z...
I made Brian look closely at Clara's spots also - because he wouldn't exaggerate the symptoms - and he agreed that they looked suspiciously like bruises. And then she opened her legs slightly and a larger, dark purple spot became visible to us. We gasped, and while I put Audrey to bed for the night, Brian put Clara in the car and drove her to the hospital.
After waiting for two hours in the hospital Emergency Room (a 3-car accident, involving at least 4 children, happened just as they were driving to the hospital and this backed up the whole emergency room for the evening. This was one of those situations where - instead of being frustrated by the wait - we could only be thankful that it hadn't been Brian and Clara in the collision), Clara was diagnosed with Henoch-Schonlein Purpura. Purpura is the name for the skin discolouration, and Henoch-Schonlein are the names of the two German doctors who re-discovered it in the 1860's.
I sent out a few texts to family members and friends, informing them of our situation and asking for prayer. One close friend, who happened to be on the University (and hospital) grounds when she received my text, and who also happens to work in the medical field asked if there was anything she could do. I asked if she would want to go keep Brian and Clara company while they waited. Brian's phone was dying, and I knew that my friend would be able to keep me well informed, while making sure to ask all of the right questions of doctors. I felt more at ease knowing she was there.
At one point, however, as my friend was relaying the information about Henoch-Schonlein Purpura to me via text, my rapid questions prompted her to call me and have me speak directly to the doctor. What I was beginning to realize, as she spoke about the dangers of kidney damage, was that this 'Henoch-Schonlein Purpura' was the same disease I had read about earlier. The same disease that killed this young boy. It was helpful to speak to the doctor, however, and to have her explain how Clara's immune system had gone into overdrive (we have all been sick for weeks) and this is how it had overreacted. I was told that because her blood vessels were leaking (scary echo of what my Dad had died of not two years earlier...), there could also be leaking inside her body. She would need to have her urine checked for blood, and she would need to go in to the doctor for weekly check-ups for two months, and then monthly for a year. It would be a lie to say I was anything less than terrified.
I read a little bit more about the disease and what I could expect. In 85% of cases, the child will experience severe stomach pain and vomiting - I would have to brace myself for that. It was also common to experience swelling and pain in the joints - I would make sure to watch out for, and be sensitive to this as well. After three hours, my baby was sent home from the hospital, seemingly well but tired as she gladly crawled into bed and fell asleep.
The next day, her legs looked like this.
This photo doesn't really show what we saw - the bruises were much darker than this photo indicates.
Two days later - you can see where some of the darker bruises were, and how they are healing - they looked like this.
It has now been over a week, and so far Clara has not complained of any joint or stomach pain, and hasn't vomited once. I pray this means that her case of HS Purpura was a mild one, and that no further bleeding has occurred. She had her first weekly appointment last week, and her urine test was perfectly clean. Tomorrow will be her second, and I am praying again that nothing else will be found. I also pray that this was a one-time event, and that she will never again experience this - especially since I'm sure additional occurrences would only increase the likelyhood of more severe symptoms.
It has been a rough few months for us, and this has so far been the worst thing we've experienced with our daughters. As it turns out, Clara is likely fine, but I can't describe how scary it is, as a parent, to know that your child has something rare - that could be deadly. I know I'm not alone in my experience, and I probably can't think of one single parent who hasn't experienced this same fear at some point.
I would love to say that with everything going on in our lives that I'm feeling sorry for myself for, that this gave me some perspective and made me realize how unimportant everything else is, and maybe to some degree I do understand this a bit better - but I feel as though I'm in a fog, and despite this, I haven't been able to get out of it. So much has been so hard lately, and I just want to throw up my arms at God and say 'What?? What message are you trying to tell us that we're clearly not getting??' I don't know. This was just one more thing.
I catch wind of a nearby petting zoo, and we're there at the first opportunity. Clara loves animals - from a distance, and Audrey really, really loves animals. Here we are at the petting zoo.
She would like to be petting a Llama, but the darn things wouldn't get close enough.
Llama, Llama, Llama...
I don't think she quite got the idea...
Clara was having a Pacifier-dependent day. 36 days, Clara... 36 days...
There was a corn maze that we didn't quite get through before a desperate potty call had me running full speed to get out of the thing. Note to self - make sure kids pee before entering the maze - those things are tough to get out of in a hurry!
After the corn maze and petting zoo, we went to Great Grandma and Grandpa's for Thanksgiving dinner, and visited a nearby playground.
Ryan, who endorses 'Fun Kids Pajamas' asked me if he could send me a guest post with some kids' crafts that my readers would find interesting. Considering my own writing has been lacking lately, here's a post with some craft ideas to give you something to read and do! It's no longer fall in our part of the world, but I'm excited to try these crafts out in the next week or two - especially this first one!
The fall is full of bright colors, cool weather, and fun festivities. This can make the autumn season breaming with inspiration and opportunities to do some creative crafting. From making your own fall themed Thanksgiving turkeys to creating trees and beautifully colored leaves, there is no shortage of fun fall arts and crafts.
Swirly Painted Fall Leaves
While trees blazing in red, orange and yellow are beautiful, they tend not to last for too long before the leaves fall off and you are left with some bare sticks poking out from a trunk. Fortunately by creating marble swirled fall leaves with your child, you can make your own beautiful, fall colored leaves that can last for years to come. One thing to keep in mind is that this activity can quickly get messy, so you may want to do it outside and bring a change of clothes or a kid’s bath robe for your child to put on before coming inside.
You will need:
Shaving cream (the fluffy white kind, not gel)
White card stock
A foil baking pan
Orange, yellow and red food coloring
The first thing to do is to cut leaf shapes out of the card stock. A fun and easy way to do this is by taking a walk with your child in your backyard or a local park and collecting some of the biggest, and most interestingly shaped leaves that the two of you come across to take home. When you get home, you can trace these out on the card stock, and then cut around the outline to make your own “leaves.”
Next, cover the baking pan in about 1/3 inch of shaving cream, as evenly as possible. Gently scrape off any lumps and bumps with a plastic card or ruler so that there is just a flat plane of shaving cream covering the pan. After everything is level, put in 3 or 4 drops of each food coloring in different areas and gently swirl everything around with a paintbrush.
As the foamy mixture is stirred, the colors should blend into marbled swirly patterns of red, yellow and orange. If you keep doing it for too long though, they could all mix together and just become brown, so once you have a pretty pattern, just stop. At this point, you should take your leaf shaped card stock and gently press it onto the mixture, then remove it. After letting the colors soak in to the card stock for about 2 minutes, scrape off the shaving cream and you should be left with a leaf covered in bright fall colors!
If fall has an official animal, it may very well be the turkey. You can make some fun turkey decorations with the following materials:
Red, yellow and brown craft store feathers
Brown, yellow and red construction paper
The first step is to make the turkey’s head. To do this, cut out a piece of the brown paper in an oval shape about an inch a half long and half an inch wide. Then glue the two googly eyes near the top of it. Cut out a small triangle of the yellow paper and attach it in the middle of the oval as a beak, then cut out a small oval from the red paper and glue it onto the side of the beak as the gobbler. Once all the glue has dried, attach the face onto the narrow end of the pine cone.
The next step is to make the backside of the turkey. Glue the feathers to the broad and flat end of the pinecone so that they fan out to shape the turkey’s plume. Once this has dried your turkey is done! If you would like you could also add legs with pipe cleaners, or make more in different colors to create a whole flock of turkeys.
Fall Paper Trees
All you need for this activity is a sheet of brown construction paper, some glue and a poster board. Have your child trace their forearm and spread out hand on the brown construction paper. Then they can cut it out. This will be the tree trunk. The next step is to glue the trunk onto the piece of poster paper, which will be the background. Then you can color in a leaf covered lawn along the bottom of the posterboard, and make a blue sky with some fluffy fall clouds floating through the crisp air. Other fun things to include are animals stocking up on food for their fall hibernation, and anything else you or your child would like. Once the glue has dried and the background is decorated, you and your children can go out for a walk and pick some more of your favorite leaves. Then these can be glued onto the tree to create some brilliantly colored fall foliage. Once everything is dried up, you can hang the poster on a wall, or even just prop it up as a backdrop for the pinecone turkeys!
Taking walks in the crisp fall weather can be great, but eventually it may get chilly and you’ll want to head back inside. With these activities you can go outside to collect beautiful fall leaves, then come back inside and huddle around the fireplace or change your children into a pair of kids footed pajamas so everyone can stay warm and toasty to finish off the projects. This way, even during the bleakest winter months, you will have art themed after the bright and vibrant fall to liven up your home!
Last year, on October 25th, we were shopping with my Mom for some last minute items for our baby. I hadn't yet purchased the outfit I wanted to carry her home in, and so we were wandering the mall looking for something suitable. As we wandered, I started feeling significant cramping and started watching the clock. Although still relatively calm, the contractions were coming at approximately 10-15 minute intervals for about an hour, then quickly changed to being about 5 minutes or less apart, and lasting at least 30 seconds. I could walk through them, but it was more comfortable to stop walking or talking and wait until they passed. Since I had to be induced with Clara, I wanted to be sure that I gave this baby - and this labour - as much time as possible to progress.
As it turned out, I still needed to be induced, which is its own story, but the next morning - just before 10am - Audrey Grace Rayne was born. If you feel like reading the whole story, here is Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.
Last Saturday marked the anniversary of my baby girl's birthday. She is now a '1 year old'. It's more than a little bit sad for me to know that I will probably never again experience all of the joys and strains of raising a newborn to this point in life. Audrey was - more than likely - our last baby, and I'll miss that.
Dear Audrey, on your First Birthday:
I don't think I really understood how different one baby could be from another until I got to know you. You are so much different in temperament than your sister - maybe to make sure we notice you! For the first few months of your life, you could really only be described as the 'perfect' baby. You rarely cried, and only if you REALLY needed something - you would wait quite awhile if you were hungry before demanding anything - which, as a Mom who was new to juggling more than one child, I appreciated more than you could have known. As I struggled to figure out how to parent an increasingly challenging toddler while now parenting a newborn simultaneously - you became the baby that I needed you to be.
Maybe it's because you are my second child, but I've loved how much more relaxed I feel with you. And you respond in kind, because you are so relaxed as well. You love each member of your family - you adore your sister, and follow her around everywhere. You love your Daddy to the moon and back, and get hyper excited when he comes home from work each day. I think I have a bit of a special place in your heart still, though, and although sometimes it's irritating to be so needed - I love it at the same time. You follow me around the house sometimes, and every once in awhile, I feel a small little tug at my pant leg - requesting to be picked up.
You are CUDDLY also, and I love that. At your birthday, you were given a toy doll from Clara, and the first thing you did was to pick it up and snuggle it close to your face. After being picked up by just about anyone, you will first lay your head on that person's shoulder and snuggle for a moment before lifting your head and looking around. Yesterday, I sprawled on the living room floor and you crawled up to me and over me, stopping to hug me repeatedly and to give me very sloppy, drooly kisses.
There are so many things I still can't check off of your list of 'Can do's' - still no teeth, no walking, no words - but I get the impression from you that you have a very active brain inside that giant head of yours, and I know that your physical inabilities now will never slow you down in the future. You are an explorer - you will crawl into, onto and over anything in your path and will fight with determination to overcome something that may not seem easy or even possible at first. You have definitely had your share of bumps on the head, but I think that also will not slow you down.
We made it to one year of breastfeeding, and I think it is just about time to stop entirely. We're down to once or twice each morning, but that is all. There is so much I love about breastfeeding, but there are things I don't like also, and you - at this point - much prefer a bottle. You drink a ton - I have been giving you lots of milk, and water, and you guzzle everything down in lightning speed. I hope I don't forget to keep you hydrated, because it's clear that you intend to drink a lot! You will eat just about everything, if we market it carefully to you, although you are a sucker for 'something better', and will turn down what you are offered if you think there is even a chance of something you would prefer. Just today I had left a small package of snack crackers on the kitchen table while trying to feed you lunch, and it took me a moment to realize that your grabbing at the table and refusing your food was in hopes of some crackers rather. After I moved them, you ate much better.
Today was the first day I actively disciplined you. I have, on occasion, tried to use a stern voice when saying 'no', to indicate that something you have done is not something that makes me happy. Typically you giggle at this, and continue doing what you were doing. Today, however, I couldn't let you do this. You had discovered our carbon monoxide detector, which lets off an extremely high pitched squeal when the buttons are pushed, and you made it angry. The first time Clara did this, she required no further correction because it scared her enough that she never again wanted to touch it. You were a different story - I saw the look of intrigue in your eye, and I looked you in the eye and said 'No'. Then I put you down to see what you would do. You smiled and went straight for the detector again. Just as your little hand reached out to push the button, I gave you a small slap (enough to mean business) and said 'No' again. You were quite offended by this - your face slowly turned into a scowl and you began to cry. Then you immediately started crawling onto me - pleading to be comforted. I gave you a hug and realized that this particular battle was perhaps beyond you and your inquisitive ways, and instead of attempting the practice again, I moved the detector.
You are still a baby - and you have quite awhile to remain a 'baby' in my eyes. But you are no longer an infant. You will soon be a toddler. And instead of telling people that I have a baby and a two year old, I will have to say that I have 'two little girls' - aged 1 and almost 3. And the older you get - the more that you and Clara are interested in and enjoy some of the same things - the more fun we have together. I'm looking forward to what the next year brings.
Now - I hear you fussing in your room, 2 hours after bedtime. You still are not a very good sleeper, and I will go and re 'plug' your 'gummy' and hope you fall back to sleep.
Goodnight, Audrey. And Happy Belated Birthday.
It wasn't my intention to become a once-weekly blogger, but it has seemed in the past few months as though I just get to feeling like my head is finally above water, and something else happens to pull me under and keep me behind again. We have been sick in our house for the past two and a half weeks, and although I know that a cold/flu has been going around in our area - the cough medicines are nearly sold out everywhere we go - I can't help but wonder what we might be doing to bring this on to ourselves.
Anyway, that was just to explain my absence lately...
Audrey's first birthday is this week, and as my youngest is rapidly getting older I keep glancing at my always-changing toddler in near disbelief at how much she is changing as well. There was a moment in her life when I felt as though the time had flown by, but I also felt overwhelmingly that she had always been with us, and I couldn't recall a time before her existence. Now, all I feel is how quickly the last three years have gone. Clara has been my daughter for almost three entire years, and I feel like I've somehow missed it.
In the last six months, you have changed from being completely 'toddler' in my eyes, to being more of a 'preschooler' in many respects. I went looking for age-appropriate crafts for you on Pinterest the other day by searching 'toddler crafts'. I was frustrated by what I found, complaining loudly that these were all 'baby activities!', but then I realized that maybe my search was actually the problem, and after searching again for 'preschool crafts' I was much more successful.
The last few weeks have again been difficult for us - your Great Grandpa Letkeman has been very sick and in the hospital, we have been planning a big renovation in our house, your Daddy just lost his job and has been spending a lot of time searching for a new one, and for almost the entirety of the past two weeks - you, Audrey and I have been sick with a cold or flu of some kind, which means we spend a lot of time in front of the TV.
This is hard for me, because I felt a few months back as though I was just starting to 'get' how to be a good Mom to you, and then life became less easy and predictable and I've again lost my footing.
You are intelligent and stubborn. In the past little while we have softened in our resolve to only allow you to have your gummy (soother/pacifier) for sleeptimes. This happened gradually as you grew out of napping, because we've been encouraging a 'quiet time' and have allowed the gummy during this time. Now that we've all been sick, 'quiet time' looks a lot like many times during the day, when we just spend the afternoon lounging in the living room. We have no informed you that when you turn 3, you will no longer be able to have your gummy - at all. I expect a few horrific days for all of us, but at this point I think cold-turkey will be the best way to go. I'm so sick of fighting with you about it.
Your latest passion has been to sing - as much as possible. Your favourite song is 'Part of Your World' from The Little Mermaid, and you now know almost all of the lyrics for memory. You also love dressing up in your 'princess dresses', as you call all of your dress-up dresses, and I've even caught you dancing around in the living room.
You've gotten pickier about food, and in the last few months our supper-time battle has become almost routine. You have less than two bites of supper, decide you don't want what we're serving and tell us you're 'done' and ask if you can go. We try to make you eat more, but you stone-wall, and even if we can get more food into your mouth, you won't swallow it, so we seem to have no choice. I'm not too worried about how little you eat, since you seem healthy enough, although I do wish I knew how to get you to eat more of the 'healthier' options at the table - like vegetables, which you almost always reject.
In the last few days, you and Audrey have started to really play together - and in part, I think this is because of your willingness to revert to her level. You have started baby-babbling, occasionally, as well as repeating the same sound or motion over and over if it will make your sister laugh. You have also started to become jealous of Audrey and you are frequently taking toys away from her. I want the two of you to learn how to play together, but so far I always tell you to give toys back to Audrey if I catch you taking toys from her.
There is so much I want to teach you, so much I want to do with you, so many experiences I want to share with you - and I already feel like I'm falling so far behind. I hope this week we will all be healthy enough to continue taking you to your gymnastics class, and our lives can continue from there. In the meantime, please forgive me for my failings....
James 1:17 - Every good and perfect gift is from above.
Lately, I've been thinking a lot about where we are in life, and how we got here. We bought our house after the housing boom, which means that our mortgage as a percentage of our income is about three times what our parents mortgages were 20 years ago, but we were blessed with the help of family and we have both been blessed with skills that give us part-time income at high hourly wages to cover our extra costs.
Sometimes I feel proud of where we have come and how we have gotten here, because we have done it by working hard - but last week, Brian was given notice at his job. Not because he had performed poorly, but because the company just happened to be downsizing extremely - and will soon be one man working from his home - without really giving any advance warning signs. Now he is job hunting again after less than a year, and although I'm confident he will find a job, and we will be fine, it makes me stop and think about the 'what ifs' of our situation - and about the reality of many other people's situations.
Ephesians 2:8-9 - For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast.
I know that this first verse is typically used by Christians who want to argue that they don't have to actually DO anything as a Christian (ie - it is not by works), but the last part of these verses has struck me recently as maybe being more to the point - 'so that no one can boast'.
Because really - Brian and I are not 'here' because we did all of the right things. We don't have a house, we don't have each other, and we don't have our two daughters because we followed 'the perfect formula' to acheive these things. There are many, many people who save up for years to buy a house, and as the housing prices skyrocket, and wages don't increase - their hopes become more and more distant. There are people who spend huge amounts of time and energy trying to 'meet the right person' in various ways, and yet are still single. And there are many, many infertile couples who desperately want a child of their own.
And of course there are some 'wrong' things to do to acheive these ends - but for the most part, these people don't have the things they want - not because they haven't done all of the right things, and worked harder to acheive these things than I have, but because for whatever reason - they just don't. Things just didn't work out for them like they have for me - and I can't give a reason why.
I can't tell you why a brain surgeon from the middle east is working two minimum wage jobs in North America trying to pay the rent for his family, despite all of his education and effort. I can't tell you why the woman with two young children whose husband just got sick of her and walked away is now homeless and jobless with two babies to feed. I can't tell you why the couple who always wanted many children have had to stop after just one because health issues during her pregnancy mean that another pregnancy would risk her life. None of this is fair, and I don't deserve any of these things any more than so many people in the world who will never have what I have.
So that I can not boast - I need to know that every good and perfect gift is from above, and not because I am 'that awesome', but because - for whatever reason - God chose to bless me with what he has blessed me with. It's not even because I have worked really hard, because so many people have worked much harder than I have, but still have less. Knowing that gives me a bit of extra responsibility, I think - to take very good and careful care of what I have been given, and to make sure I am using what I have been given wisely.
And - mostly - I want to be grateful.
For everything in the world that I have that I don't have to have. Everything I have that I am not entitled to. This includes my house, my husband, my daughters, my car and the computer I am typing this on. I am not entitled to the clothing I wear, or the food I eat - not even the breathe in my lungs, because most people don't even have that anymore. My dad doesn't. And my breathe could stop at any moment, which means that I need to be grateful - and behave with gratitude - for every single second of my life and everything in it.
And may the thanks be to God - so that no one may boast.
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