Thursday, May 31, 2012

Busy Busy Bees!

I hope everyone had a great Memorial Day!  We have been keeping ourselves super busy lately enjoying this awesome weather.  Here's a quick recap of what's been going on this past week, courtesy of Picmonkey's new collage feature (YAY)!

We've been seeing some interesting creatures in our yard this week.  I'm hoping this is the as 'wild' as the creatures get because I'm afraid soon we'll be seeing snakes, foxes or worse!  It's been quite interesting and Abby has definitely gotten a huge kick out of it!

We've also been swinging, and swimming, and running through the sprinkler, and let's not leave out Abby's first adventure in doing her own makeup!

So, sorry if things have been a little silent around here.  On top of just keeping busy, we've also been working hard at getting Lilly to sleep through the night.  It hurts me to say it but, yes, it does involve a little bit of the dreaded 'crying it out'.  We don't let her cry for very long and I do go in to comfort her but I'm desperately trying to break her of the many bottles at night habit.

And, yes, I know it's just habit and not just hunger because in 4 days we have cut down from 8+ ounces at night to only 2-4 ounces.  Yet, she still doesn't want to eat right away when she wakes up.  

It's been hard and I hate hearing her cry.  I'm also so tired because I am sometimes up for 2 hours a night trying to get her to sleep without a bottle.  It's driving me nuts because I'm exhausted and know that a bottle would put her to sleep within 15 minutes.  However, I know that this habit needs to be broken for her sake and mine.

I can say that last night I saw a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel.  Lilly woke up around 11 but instead of crying she just let out little whines on and off for about 20 minutes.  She would stop for a few minutes and then let out a little whimper again.  Finally, QUIET.  I checked her and she was fast asleep until around 3. 

I'm hoping this will work and a good nights sleep will be in my immediate future!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Being in the Moment: No Photo Necessary

Everyday is a photo op day.

Everyday, one of my girls does something so stinkin' cute that I feel the need to run and grab my camera.

Everyday, something magical happens and, again, I race to get my camera.

I love taking photos.  Documenting our life.  I adore my girls and a picture captures the moment so my memory can go ahead and fail from time to time.

Today, I left the camera at home.

Today, I took them to the beach.  Just me and my girls.  The first time Lilly would really get to feel the water splash against her.

Part of me was wishing I had my camera or even my phone so I could capture the surprise on Lilly's face the first time the water went right up her legs.

Part of me wishes I had my camera to capture the moments of sheer happiness as Abby splashed around in the beautiful bay that I am so lucky to live so close to.

A bigger part of me was happy that I left my camera and phone at home.

I was in the moment.  Spending time with my girls.  Enjoying the day, sun, and sand.

Honestly, I was terrified to take them to the beach by myself.  What if Lilly hated the water?  What if Abby didn't listen or through a temper tantrum when we were ready to leave?

I pictured the worst:  Me carrying two girls, one kicking and screaming, along with all of the beach gear back to the car.

Sometimes kids surprise you.  Sometimes the day goes just right.  As Abby would say, when we work together that means we have fun (wise beyond her years).  And work together is what we did today.  We all got what we wanted and had FUN.

This day will forever be ingrained in my memory, no photo necessary.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

DIY Sidewalk Paint

Sometimes we got have to get a little creative around here because this Mama gets BORED!
The recipe for sidewalk paint is fairly simple:  equal parts cornstarch and water.  Then, just add food coloring to get your desired color.

Our paint was pretty runny (maybe someone has a better recipe to share?) which made it hard to really paint.  Abby got tired of that pretty quickly but then she accidentally spilt one of her paints.
From there it was nothing but giggles!  She loved making 'rivers' and I even had to bring corn starch and water outside to make more paints.  
She made footprints and we talked about the colors her 'rivers' were making when they mixed together.  She even liked adding just water to see her 'river' flow even further.
I'd say this project was a huge hit!

But what could be better than making 'rivers'?
Painting me of course!  Definitely wear clothes that you don't mind getting messy... I have yet to find out how easily this paint washes out!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Patience: A Work in Progress

Patience is not passive; on the contrary, it it active; it is concentrated strength.
Edward G. Bulwer-Lytton

Ain't that the truth?  Every day is a test of my patience.  Abby is at a stage where she questions everything and suddenly has very strong opinions (about every-little-thing).

If I ask her to put her toys away, she puts them in a new spot (like the coffee table) because that's where they are sleeping tonight.

If I tell her we are having turkey sandwiches for lunch, she tells me that pizza is a good idea.  

Or she tries to compromise with me:  "Half turkey sandwich, half pizza.  Does that sound good Mommy?"

Sometimes, I want to scream, "NO!  It does not sound good!"

However, I try to remind myself that her opinion does count. She is not just a child, but a person who has her own likes/dislikes and ideas. 

I want her to feel confident in her decisions and stand up for her opinions (although not necessarily when they contradict me) so I need to pick my battles.

I can not always so 'No'.  Sometimes I don't really have a good reason to say it anyway.  

So, I am trying to be patient.  Trying to pick my battles.  Trying to figure out what she wants and make sure there is enough time for her to do things her way.

Like bedtime.  I know she can't be rushed on the potty.  I know she needs time to pick her story out.  I know that she likes to get all of her 'friends' in just the right spot before she listens to her story.

Because I know these things, I make sure that we start getting ready for bed 30 minutes before I want her to actually be in bed.  This way I'm not rushing her or being short in my answers.

But now we have a new aspect to our routine.  Now, she has to pick the perfect dinosaur cup to rinse after I brush her teeth.

I'm not going to lie, I get annoyed.  There were days that I made the decision for her.  

But then I realized that to her, this decision was important.  It meant something to her.  

To me, it's just a cup.  To her it's so much more.

So now, I have to actively work on being patient.  I have to push aside my need to speed up bedtime, which is not an easy task when I usually have Lilly fussing in the background.

But I do my best to be strong and to be patient.

Because it is what Abby needs and deserves.  I may not be able to let her make all of her decisions but there is no good reason why she shouldn't be able to pick her favorite cup.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Showing Kindness

Sometimes, I wonder if I'm doing this whole 'motherhood' thing right.  I feel like I always have to be on my game because little eyes are always watching.

There are times that I feel the need to explain things Abby does or says.  Like the time she clapped for a little girl who tripped.  She wasn't being mean, although I knew the other parents may think she was.  We used to (and still do) clap for her when she falls.  As long as she's not hurt, we try to prevent her from crying by making her think she did a good trick.  Abby was just doing what she had seen.

Except, I wondered if I somehow made her unkind.  I wondered if she didn't quite understand that the little girl might be hurt and clapping was not appropriate.  I used the moment to teach her that we always check to make sure someone is ok.

I wasn't sure she listened.

Until, the day one of her dancing school buddies wasn't feeling well.  The little girl was laying down while we were all getting ready for class.  Abby walked right over to her and asked her if she was ok and then rubbed her back.

Instead of run around with the other girls before class, which is by far her favorite part of dance class, she was concerned about her sick friend.

My heart warmed because my little girl gets it.  She is kind, caring, and worries about others.

I am one proud Mama!

Surviving Long Car Trips

Remember the days when we didn't have 'ON DEMAND' or a DVR and could only watch a show when it was actually on TV?  Abby is genuinely confused when she asks to watch something and I tell her it's not on right now.

I am always amazed by how much technology has changed since I was a kid.  Abby now casually uses the word email and knows we can look things up on the computer.  She even started putting '(dot) com' after certain words:  Mickey(dot)com.

When I was a kid, games were board games.  Now, they come from some sort of screen.

I pick and choose when it comes to screen time.  I prefer it to be limited and have some sort of educational value.  But there are times that technology really does make life easier.  Such as, on long car trips.

Whenever we go on a trip thats over 2 hours, we put the dvd player into the car.  What I wouldn't have given to had that when I was a kid!  The only downside?  The process of choosing a movie!  Now that I think of it, I was one of 5 kids so the process of choosing a movie may have made this more of a headache than a sanity saver in my parent's case!

She was so tired from running around outside that she fell asleep with her movie choices on her lap!

We also always make sure to take the IPod which was mine until I made the mistake of putting games on it.  Now it's Abby's "game" and as soon as she sees it, she wants it.  (Guess I'll listen to the radio!)

As soon as she saw me taking pictures, she wanted her "games".  Who could say no to that face?

We do make sure to bring some non-tech fun on trips too.  Abby always picks out a bunch of her toys when we go away as well as books.  And there's nothing like a good old fashioned sing along, except sometimes I have no idea what she's singing!

However, the movies make time go the quickest and we have to hear, "Are we there now?" the least!

What do you bring on long trips to keep your kiddos busy?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Let's Go Fly a Kite!!!

 For the 2nd time, our kite only lasted 30 seconds before flying out to sea!!  

Friday, May 11, 2012

A Mostly Sweet Mother's Day

**  First, I want to wish all the Mama's a VERY HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!  I hope this post doesn't come off as too depressing!**

Mother's Day is only a few days a way.  It's bittersweet for me, as I imagine it will be every year.  Sweet because of these two little ladies:

Bitter because I miss my Mom more than words can say.  Seeing all the Mother's Day quotes, poems, and cards feels like a reminder that she's not here.  We made a card for Dan's Mom and all I kept thinking was how much my Mom would have gotten a kick out of Abby's artwork.  I think it will always feel like we're  missing someone.

I didn't realize just how hard this day would be for me until I found myself making awkward jokes.  For example, when I saw this on Pinterest:

I said, "Well then I guess our home is Heaven."

Or when my sister was complaining about working on Mother's Day.  She's a waitress and all I could picture was her waiting on families and someone asking her what she was doing with her Mom for the day.  How do you politely say, 'She's dead.'

Or, when I told Dan that all I wanted for Mother's Day was a trip to visit my Mom's grave.  Once we booked the room he asked me if I was excited to see my Mom.  Not the best choice of words but I know he meant well.  However, all I could think was 'ya, real effin excited.'

I know, kind of bitter of me.  Honestly, I'm not bitter and feel like I have come to terms with her being gone.  Except for certain times.  Like Mother's Day, her birthday (which is also New Years Eve), the anniversary of her death, the birth (and birthdays) of my girls, the holidays.  On those days, I feel a little bit of the bitterness and if I don't keep it in check it will take me over.

I keep it in check by remembering that my two little beans are the reason that I am celebrating on Mother's Day.  They gave my life a new direction.  I have two very special reasons to have a mostly sweet Mother's Day.

So, I'll visit her grave and have my moments when I can cry and miss her.  I'll probably reminisce about her a little throughout the day.  But I will also spend some long overdue time with family and give my girls hugs and kisses.

Because at the end of the day, life goes on and those we lost will always be with us.  Just not in the way we want them to be.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Movie Theater Observations

After my last post, I took my own advice.  I told Dan that I NEEDED sleep and I got 2 glorious days of not having to get up with the girls!  It was a much needed break and I can say that I actually feel some what HUMAN again!

Not only did I get sleep but we got to out for a quick date to catch the new Avengers movie on Friday.  I'm not a big movie theater person.  I find it too loud, cold, and uncomfortable.  I also have a fear of leaving my seat once the movie starts because I'm afraid of tripping down (or up) the stairs.  I AM THAT CLUMSY!

I'm a people watcher and there were a few things that struck me as a bit odd.  Maybe it's because I just don't get out much.
    • Some man was using one of the headphones that makes things louder.  I've seen these on infomercials but never actually knew anyone that had a pair.  However, he promptly removed them within seconds of the previews starting.  Not going to lie, it made me giggle a little bit although I did feel bad for his poor ears!
    • So many people take phone calls and texts!  One guy left the theater at least 3 times... is he really that important?  I think too many of us are forgetting that we do not need to be available every moment of the day!  Enjoy the moment!  Not to mention, you paid good money to see this movie and now you keep leaving... sit down and get your money's worth!
    • This last one irks me... I never knew that people bring babies to the movies!  As in newborn babies!  Every time the theater was quiet I could hear the baby crying or making noise.  I don't really mind the noise but my concern is for the baby.  If a theater is too loud and cold for me, I can't imagine how that baby feels.  I know it can be hard to miss out on things because you can't find a sitter but there are much more appropriate places to get adult time with your kiddos.  Just sayin'.
The movie itself was pretty good.  Dan thought it was one of the best comic book movies he's seen (and he's seen them all).    

Of course, we had to bring Abby back a surprise since we went out without her for the afternoon.  Here she is with her very first baseball mitt! 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

OK is Almost Always a Lie

I was just about to go to bed after a particularly rough day.  Nothing terrible happened but it was the type of day when everything was a struggle from breakfast to bedtime.  I heard myself talking to Abby and to me I sounded like a monster.  She wasn't listening but she wasn't being terrible.  Her actions did not warrant my tone.  Some days, I feel out of control but I am able to give the allusion of control.  There are some days that I lose it.

And feel guilty beyond measure.  I apologized to her and hugged her and promised to have a better day tomorrow.  But why did I let myself get so explosive?

Maybe it's PMS, lack of sleep, or just stress.

Or maybe it's the fact that I sometimes allow myself to be a doormat.  There are so many times that I say, 'It's fine' or 'No problem' or 'OK'.  The reality is that it is not fine, it is a problem and it is not OK.  I tend to allow people to take advantage to a point where a explode and then everyone around me is confused by my reaction.

I HATE confrontation and very rarely feel better afterwards.  So, I lie.  On a daily basis.  I lie to myself and to those around me.

For example, I had my yearly Dr. appointment the other day.  You ladies know how that goes.  Well, these appointments are always stressful for me because my Mom's breast cancer was found by her Dr.  My appointment was scheduled since November.  Discussed and written on the calendar.  Dan was scheduled off and figured if he got a slip for court then he would just call out.

Except he didn't find out he had court until the day before my appointment (ah, the joys of being a police wife) and they have been cracking down on officers for calling out of court (another joy, days off are not necessarily days off).  My response:  It's ok, we'll manage.

WE'LL MANAGE?  How in the world did I think I would manage handling a fussy baby and curious toddler while spread eagle on a table?  Sounds like a freakin' nightmare!

Thankfully, he showed up at the office before the Dr. came into the room.  Unfortunately, it was after I pretty much traumatized Abby by explaining, in as simple terms as possible, what the stirrups were for (what was I supposed to do, wait until the Dr. was doing his thing to explain?).

My point is, my lie, 'It's OK, we'll manage', caused tons of problems.  I was resentful all morning.  I was passive aggressive (don't tell Dan I admitted that) which led to a huge blow up fight.  I should have been honest and upfront.  It may not have changed anything but it would have gotten the frustration out of me.

That frustration is what came out today when I heard myself sound like a monster.  All the pent up frustrations are being taken out on the most innocent.  That's not fair and that's not how I want to be.  EVER.

So, I need to stop lying on daily basis.  This is my home.  This is my life.  I need to speak up for what I think is right and quit saying, 'It's OK'.

Because, it just isn't.

*Linking up with Mama Kat and answering the prompt:  List of lies you consistently tell.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Nurturing a Need to Play

I would never consider myself a storyteller nor would I consider myself very creative.  But to Abby, my stories are EPIC.  Her eyes light up, she hangs on every word, she gets excited when a character in my story likes the same things she does.  To her, there is no better story then one I can tell.

The first story I ever made up was a total FAIL.  Half way through the story, I realized that I was telling the story of a cross dressing elephant named BoBo.  I thought my story was not only ridiculous but also pretty lame.  Abby, on the other hand, couldn't get enough of the Adventures of BoBo.

We've moved on from BoBo (thankfully).  Now I tell stories of Bobby Jo the Brontosaurus and her brother Billy Bob.  Sometimes Bobby Jo goes shopping for a pink polka dotted toy Triceratops.  Other times, she goes to the park to slide down the tunnel slides.  There isn't a day that goes by that Abby doesn't ask to hear a story about Bobby Jo.

At first, I felt a bit silly.  I thought too hard about making the story into a lesson.  I tried to make the story perfect.  I realize now that it's not the story that Abby loves.  It's the fact that I'm telling it.  She wants to hear me.  She wants me to interact with her.  She wants my attention.  She wants me to play.

Now, I don't over think the story.  A moral to the story would be nice but isn't necessary.  The story itself doesn't even have to change much each time I tell it.  Now, I involve her.  I ask her what she thinks Bobby Jo ate at lunch or what she bought at the store.  We make up the story together.

Now, I realize that there is a moral to the story.  There is a lesson to be learned.  Abby is learning how to imagine, play, think, and create all on her own.  Now, she doesn't always need me to tell her a story.  I hear her in her room making up a whole world for her and her toys.  She pretends and she imagines what she doesn't see. She improvises and tries to make what she needs (a tupperware is a car seat or a yogurt container as Daisy's bed).  Her imagination has endless possibilities.
I am learning that the most important thing I can do for Abby is to nurture her desire to play.  Playtime is when she puts all of the things she has learned into action.  It's where she starts to put together the pieces of life's many puzzles.  And it's where she discovers things she never knew before.


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