Susie's Leaning Tower of Chocolate

Categories: swishina | Parenting

Power of Moments: My friend recommended a book called The Power of Moments. I devoured it and John is also reading it. The book explains how to create more memorable moments in your life. Chiefly relevant to us, and the children were raising, are moments of elevation, which can be made by adding sensory elements, or surprise, that sort of thing. We’re trying to plan more fun things for our kids since life is kind of boring right now. I tend to be the soul-sucking voice of reason, but luckily I’m married to a fun, creative, out of the box thinker.

Halloween Camp/Fun Mom: On the way to gymnastics camp this morning, Sienna and Arthur begged me to stay and watch them. I didn’t have anything urgent to do, so I finally relented. I watched them for about 20 minutes, from the floor so they could run and tell me what they were doing between activities (it was free play). I heard another girl begging her mom to stay and watch but the mom had to go to work, and then I felt glad I had decided to watch them. It was Halloween day in their holiday themed camp, and Sienna wore a top short tinkerbell costume, and Arthur was a Star Destroyer.

Waffle Station: I’ve arrived. I made waffles for dinner tonight. Maggie made the batter. We cooked them in my family-sized waffle maker that makes four squares at once. We all sat down together and I HAD TO MAKE NO ONE’S WAFFLE FOR THEM. The girls made their own and cut them up with scissors. Dalton made his own and ate it in a giant piece off his fork. Arthur dipped his in whipped cream. (I did scoop the whipped cream for him, but that’s less than I usually have to do for him with most other meals.) it was glorious.

On a side note, Arthur ate a square of waffle for dinner, and nearly a pound of strawberries.

Reading Chain: Every summer, we do a reading chain where the kids wrote the title of each book they read on a strip of paper and add it to the chain. Then I give them a prize every 25 chains. Some prizes we’ve done this summer include ice cream taco restaurant, everyone picking out a toy at Target, going to Circus Trix, Valentines clearance toys I had leftover from our flashlight egg hunt, $1 candies etc. they are about to finish #250. I have to come up with a prize for that, then our last prize will be milkshakes at Black Tap with dad next week.

Other prizes we’ve done previous years was a new Beanie Boo for everyone, McDonald’s dessert run, a big LEGO set to share, $1 icees at Burger King, nano block sets, craft sets (the Ooz Os was a HUGE hit) etc

"Sass": Maggie starting using "air quotes" to sass me.

Me: Practice more piano
Maggie: What do you mean by "practice"?
Me: Did you brush your hair?
Maggie: Define "brush."

Etc. Anyway, I started pointing it out and imitating it, and completely ruined it as a method of sassing because now we are too busy laughing everything she does (or doesn't!) do it.

True Words: Arthur has said to me twice this week, “I don’t like eating.” I know, bud. I’ve noticed.

Bath and a Haircut: There’s something very satisfying about sending my entire family off to bed clean, and bonus points to me for giving all the boys a haircut. Except the next morning I realized, I forgot Sienna. One more bath.

Brushing Teeth: Ok, I've finally got almost in the habit of brushing Arthur's teeth before bed. Nevermind that he's three, and also that he then has two applesauce pouches before falling asleep.

Argument/Agreed: Maggie makes nasty comment to Sienna.
Me: You didn’t need to say that.
Maggie: You didn’t need to say that. ... You love when I use your parenting words against you.
Me: *high fives Maggie*

Mom Skills: Sienna announced on the way to school that she’d forgotten her backpack. She’s in kindergarten, so this was hardly a life or death homework situation, but she does need a snack. So, she and the neighbor hunted around for a ziplock bag (in the car for motion sickness purposes) while I got out a fruit snacks and applesauce from my massive car snack storage. As I was emptying wipes out of the bag the neighbor found, Sienna said “I found a baggie with my name on it.” Well then. Snack in a labeled bag, packed on the way to school. Done.

Easing to Bed: Since Arthur broke his crib last fall, and we got the boys bunk beds, he has been making us lie down with him to go to sleep, which sometimes takes two hours, which is why I stopped letting him nap. He also required two applesauce, leftover from when he started refusing to nurse and I was desperate to get calories in him. We’re trying to undo these habits. He’s been doing ok if i read him a story and only give him an applesauce if he “goes to sleep” which will get him to lie down at least. Then I leave and he usually falls asleep. Sometimes he comes out and it takes one more applesauce. We’ve also been putting him down later.

Potty Trained: My second goal for the summer (Sienna learning to ride her bike was the first) was the potty train Arthur, even though parents really don’t have much say in when a kid potty trains. Over the last two weeks though, he’s done it. Actually went in the potty for the first time, and really didn’t have many accidents, and now is obsessed with pooping in the potty so I’ll call that a good sign. If you wait until they’re ready, it’s not that hard at all.

Things I Found Arthur Playing With: One year old
A firecracker
A balloon
A bottle of iron pills
An open container of cayenne pepper
Food coloring

Bye Bye Baby: I did some cleaning, organizing, decluttering and arranging today. Like twenty times I thought of ways I can organize, places I can put things once Arthur doesn't dump stuff out anymore. And it made me SO SAD! He's going to be grown up before I know it.

Baby Vacuum : 4 stages of vacuuming with infant.

0-1 months. Vacuum provides desirable white noise. You can vacuum in baby's room while sleeping and she won't stir. Unfortunately, it makes you bleed every time so no vacuuming gets done.

1-3 months. Vacuum wakes baby up. Getting baby to sleep is so difficult that no vacuuming gets done.

3-9 months. Baby is scared of vacuum and insists you hold him while vacuuming. This is impossible. No vacuuming gets done.

9 months-2 years. Baby thinks vacuum is a friendly pet and follows close behind. So close that you when you pull the vacuum back, you may run over baby. No vaccuming gets done.

[Comments] (1) On Strike: One day while nursing, Arthur bit me, I yelled, and he has refused to nurse since. That was nearly three weeks ago. The whole experience has been very distressing. I was surprised at my intense emotional reaction to it. And worst of all, I've had no support. Either none of my friends have gone through this, or it's one of those things, like miscarriage, that people don't talk about.

Five friends with babies off the top of my head. One didn't occur to me, and I'm annoyed at her. Hah. One uses formula for her convenience. One pumped exclusively after a months-long battle with thrush, mastitis etc. One was only able to nurse for a week, having a breast reduction previously. And one was unable to nurse. So not much help.

The internet assured me that most nursing strikes end after 2-4 days, though anecdotal evidence showed otherwise. The pediatrician, the most supportive person I talked to, told me he would just suddenly start nursing again. I tried all the tips online, no luck at all. He is also cutting upper teeth (theoretically, it's been weeks), and had a cold in the meantime. All strikes against us.

I've been pumping three times a day (he was nursing four) and trying to get him to drink from a cup. After two weeks, I introduced sippy cups. I think we're maybe up to half of what I pump. I would not be surprised if he's losing weight, and he's always hungry.

So here is what not to say. "Maybe he's just done." He is Not. Just. Done. Literally every person I talked to said this to me, except the pediatrician (the only person who knew what she was talking about). That is the very definition of Not Supportive. This is MY baby. I have over five years of breastfeeding experience, I have weaned three babies and I can tell, he wants to nurse, but can't or won't for some reason. (I say this in present tense, but I think it likely the sippy cup has ruined it forever). He signs for it. He is just as upset as the break in our nursing relationship as I am. Maybe even more so, since he has also lost his food source. But I don't know what else to do.

Clearly, I am very upset about this. I nursed Sienna until maybe 26 months, and she was sad when I finally cut her off. I was hoping to have that wonderful, long-lasting experience again, but it may not be meant to be.

This experience also served as a reminder that we all have Stuff. Maybe you don't wear your trial on your sleeve, but that doesn't make it any less important, difficult, or significant. We all have stuff, keep that in mind when making your judgements.

To Sum Up: I spent two hours at the pediatric ophthalmologist with a sick, teething baby, on day 10 of a nursing strike. That is all.

Wah: Yesterday's post was really about how Arthur (like most babies) needs to be PUT to sleep and how tired I am of doing it. Between nursing and rocking/patting/shushing/bouncing (yes, I can do that all at the same time) it takes 45 minutes to get him down for a 15 minute nap. Because then he wakes up right when you put him in his crib.

And it's not like this is twice a day. Babies take 3-4 naps (more if they're only 15 min....), plus bedtime, plus waking up in the night, though he's always been great about going back down in the night. It's exhausting and time-consuming physically, and so mentally draining.

According to the internet, I need a PLAN not to just SNAP and put him in his crib to cry. Who knew? Anyway, I made a plan. I've been swaddling just his lower half so he can suck on his hands, or grab his blankie, giving him a stuffed Mickey to snuggle or chew on and letting him cry up to half an hour. So far I've gotten one good nap and two good nights' sleep. He slept until 3 one night after crying for 45 minutes (in two shifts, I checked on him after half an hour) and last night he cried for 20 minutes and slept until 5 (over 9 hours). That's more like it, I tell you. Quite frankly, he was probably crying that much anyway.

I also picked out a couple simple, useful sewing projects to work on during my next few alone times that will both help me feel productive, give me a creative outlet, and allow me to do something I enjoy. For me. Besides spending $90 at Target.

Break Me: I've been feeling quite trapped as a mom lately. I've had snatches of this before, mostly moments where I'm hiding with my nursing baby while everyone else has fun. In every day life, a person can decide "I need a break" and then go take one. A coffee break. A walk. A lunch to themselves. One can do errands on any timetable, make plans, exercise, sleep.

I wrote before about Wednesdays and how I get 1:05 to myself, minus driving time. And by "to myself" I mean, with Arthur.

I can name three people who would watch Arthur, whether he cried or not. And recently a friend told me she felt she should offer to take him on a regular basis, so we're trying that out right now. Of course, shortly thereafter I realized I have two other kids that need taking care of at that time. So, I arranged for someone to watch them as well, giving me about an hour and 20 minutes to myself, after driving time, and return for drop off requirements. Do you know what I did with it? Sat in the car writing this post. Seems like for all the effort it is to arrange time to myself, I should do something momentous, but I don't even feel like it after all that. Don't even know what I would do with time to myself. I wish I were cleaning, or exercising, but part of the reason errands seemed appealing during this time was that I had to drive across town to drop Arthur off. Seems silly to do that twice just so I can go home and clean something. Of course I have no errands to run, except for one at a place that apparently doesn't open until 10.

As you can see, arranging a break is basically more work than it's worth. I can never just go do anything because being a mom is a full-time job, not 40 hours a week, or 70 like John works sometimes. 24 hours a day Every Single Day and it never ends and even if I get a break, I had to work extra hard to plan it, arrange it, time it, pack bags for all my kids, prepare snacks, pump milk, drive them places, pick them up, clean it all up and put it away afterwards, and then watch someone's kids to pay them back for watching mine. . Bleh.

So, by the time I get an unexpected five minute break from parenting - say Sienna and Arthur actually slept at the same time - I usually end up wasting it because I'm worn out and exhausted and surely I can clean or fold laundry while they're awake, and someone's going to wake up any minute anyway.

Lest you think I sat here moping for an hour and twenty minutes, I'll have you know I also went to Target and spent $90 on stuff we didn't really need.

Kinkeeping: I recently read an article about kinkeeping and the "invisible burden" it puts on women. Despite the fact that in our family, the majority of the tasks mentioned are done or at least shared by John, the article really got me thinking. (I don't know if it's because it's mostly John's family that requires kin-keeping, or because he's a thoughtful person in general, or because he enjoys planning vacations. Anyway, not the point.)

The article begins with an example: the woman is directing her husband to dress the baby in the outfit gifted by his mother, since she is visiting. How does she even remember? THIS is the invisible burden placed on moms. To remember every single tiny and for-the-most-part insignificant detail. To arrange every particle into place. To make sure it all happens, if not where, when and in what outfit it's supposed to.

You may not even notice. You're likely not meant to notice. It's the type of stuff you only notice when it's NOT done (Laundry, anyone?). But it's mentally draining.

Here are some examples I thought of quickly.
Putting things back where they belong. CONSTANTLY.
Clipping fingernails.
Cleaning behind ears.
Remembering special days at school.
Arranging carpool.
Checking clothing, socks and shoes for holes and fit.
Signing kids up for activities.
Remembering the location of just about everything in the house, even if it's not where it's supposed to be.
Remembering how much we have of any given ingredient, toiletry or food item at any given time.
Vacation holds.
Getting haircuts.

You might even go so far as to add:
Making sure clothes are clean.
Keeping the house stocked with food.
Planning and making meals.
Getting gas.
Paying bills.

All those things that may appear to magically get done (or NOT) if you don't see them happen.

Here's a better example with laundry. Laundry piles up in the basket. You can see it. Someone washes it and puts it away. It's probably mom, at our house. No big deal, if you stay home it's probably in your job description.

Also in the job description is washing sheets. Much less obvious. Unless someone throws up on them, you probably have to remember to wash them. Just a teeny little effort to remember, but there are a million of those things and it adds up. Moms remember everything and it takes a toll.

For some more examples, here are two blog posts I wrote about taking Sienna to swim lessons and packing for our trip.

Swim Lessons: Dalton leaves for school at 10:45. Sienna has swim lessons at 11:40. Her swim suit is in the garage. Oh look, laundry in the dryer. I bring it in, along with a new box of carnation instant breakfast (we're out) and Sienna's swim suit. Put the carnation instant breakfast in the pantry. Throw out a couple random old things in there. Take out the recycling. Load the dishwasher.

I go upstairs to get.... something. I take up a clean towel from the laundry for Arthur's changing table. Man, their room is a mess. I throw some dirty laundry in the basket, and put Dalton's blanket on his bed. That helps. I brush my teeth and go to the bathroom. Why did I come up here? I need nursing pads. (That wasn't it.) I go downstairs with a dirty cup and my purse (that wasn't it either). Sienna tries to hide in the couch when I come downstairs. "Look I found Belle in the couch!" Ah, that was it: swim toys. She goes upstaris to get her own swim toys, and puts on her swim suit in the kitchen while I put (exhausted) Arthur in his car seat.

We're too early. Especially since her last 20 minute lesson started 13 minutes late. We'll go to the bank. Sienna requests to hear Try everything, her favorite new song from the Zootopia soundtrack.

At the bank, Sienna does gymnastics in her swim suit. Arthur spits up on the floor. I get cash for the babysitter and our trip to Utah. Sienna gets a lollipop. There's no line and the whole thing is relatively painless. Back in the car. More "bunny song". Arthur resumes crying.

He's still awake when we get to Waterworks. Sienna just has a few minutes to play before her lesson miraculously starts on time. The other kid doesn't show; free private lesson upgrade. I nurse Arthur. He falls asleep about the time Sienna's lesson ends. Guess she gets some play time. Sienna is an awesome little fish. Her favorite part of swim lessons is jumping off the giant foam train mat. Someone offers to hold my baby while I take Sienna potty. She holds him until her own kid needs to go potty. He wakes up. We head home.

How to Pack: Baby falls asleep in car seat. Time to get started.
Change laundry.
Clean off bed.
Make bed.
Pick out clothes for one child and stack them on the bed.
Start picking out clothes for next child. Next child doesn't have enough clean clothes.
Baby wakes up.
While getting baby, get out swim suit and goggles from downstairs.
Get baby out of car seat.
Baby has pooped everywhere.
Give baby a bath.
Wash baby's clothes in the sink.
Clean car seat.
Bring laundry up.
Try on baby's Easter outfit as long as baby is naked.
Get baby dressed.
Feed baby.

That's as far as I've gotten. It's been an hour and Dalton is packed. 1 out of 6!

Serenity Now: In the last two hours

Dalton woke me up to complain about the my little pony coloring page I printed for him. He then proceeded to bother Maggie to the point where she closed the door to keep him out of her room, prompting Sienna to open and close the door multiple times. Dalton used the closed door to drive his remote control car against over and over, thoroughly waking me, and subsequently Arthur, up.

Sienna followed me from room to room talking loudly as I tried to get Arthur back to sleep (no success)

Maggie refused to practice piano properly, despite her pre-iPad Time promises. Her back talk and arguing earned her no iPad at all tomorrow.

All three kids played chalk nicely outside together.

Tantrums and back talking from the older two (mostly Maggie) at dinner almost lost them the privilege of going to a hockey game with dad tonight.

Sienna showed off that sometimes she can not nap and still be well behaved. And then she went upstairs with her shoes on tracking black smears the entire way.

On the bright side, two are going to a hockey game, and two didn't get enough slee during the day and will go to bed early.

Zombie Mom: Literally praising the Lord for the two hours sleep I just got. In my bed, thankyouverymuch. Babies sure do mess with you.

(Arthur still normally wakes up twice, or even once, but has had a really rough couple nights. Vaccines?)

Never Wake a Sleeping Baby: And then the pediatrician said, "are you waking him up to feed him?" And I was like, "are you freaking kidding me?"

Burn, Baby, Burn: I managed to burn my belly on a hot pan on the stove. I texted my friend about it thinking, "surely I'm not the only person to have done this." Just as I got her reply telling me she's totally done that before, I realized, I think I have done that before. Poor belly. One more month! (ish)

Potty Training Take 2: I attempted to potty train Sienna a couple weeks ago. We did underwear for 5 days, she had three accidents (in the first two days) and peed in the toilet ZERO times. She held it as long as 7 hours, until I put a diaper on for nap or bedtime. Alrighty then.

Yesterday John promised her a My Little Pony if she peed in the potty. She seemed interested in that, so we gave it another go today. Success! She went twice in the toilet, and had no accidents (because, bladder of steel). After the first time, we immediately went to Target where she picked out a Rainbow Dash toy. (We may have been headed to Target anyway.) Here's hoping it keeps up!

Also, I'm amazed that she is still napping. In fact, she is very into her naps. She slept over 3 hours today, and went down like no big deal (after all her sleep prerequisites were met, of course). She also regularly announces that she's not going night-night (ie. I need a nap now!).

Some slight changes to her bedtime routine: She's in a bed now, or at least a mattress on the floor. She's accepted that she may need a different pillowcase or sheet if one is dirty. She sleeps with her Frozen blankie and a fat red car. And she likes to "kiss your back", by which she means "cheek."

Sorry, Mom: This week, for the first time in years, I cried from missing my mom so much.

Maggie and I were having quite the morning of disagreement. I thought about times that I argued with my mom and then felt so awful that I could remember arguing with her. Either because that means I have many more years of this, or because now I'm a mom and I know what it feels like to have my daughter act like an annoying brat! I wanted to tell her I was sorry, and she was right, and thanks for being my mom. And I couldn't.

One of the most helpless feelings in the world is needing to talk to someone who is dead. I cried and cried about it.

On the bright side, Maggie changed her attitude and did the dishes (after two hours of arguing).

Love Me, Love Me: Wednesday I spent an unusual amount of time playing with the kids. I try to spend half an hour or so just snuggling them, tickling them, goofing around every day. It was an early out day, and John was working at home, so we tried to stay downstairs. I finished a puzzle game the kids and I were doing on the ipad. We read stories, looked at Maggie's new Lego sets and did lots of tickling.

When Maggie was at school, we had bonus play time as well. In fact, the day began with Dalton handing me books to read. We also played hide and seek, which I normally don't enjoy doing, but it was fun enough for 10 or 15 minutes. Playing is boring. I'm glad they have each other.

I've wondered if giving the kids more attention would make them less grumpy with each other. It worked, yesterday at least. Maggie and Dalton fought much less than usual.

My Boy: A while ago I was feeling sad when I realized we wouldn't have Disney passes until Dalton is going to school every day. I've since realized that it's less about Disneyland and more about Dalton. I think I am the most attached to him. He's my buddy. I'd rather take him shopping than any other one of my kids - even though he ASKS for stuff all the time now. He is happy to do just about anything spending time with me. We read, play toys, play ipad, snuggle and watch a movie, do crazy kitchen experiments, make up crafts, run around outside, or run errands.

He's sweet and kind and thoughtful. He's funny. He likes to snuggle. I love spending time with him and I'm going to miss it when he goes to school every day! I'm keeping him.

Divide and Conquer: John worked from home yesterday and was kind enough to take the kids to gymnastics. I had an hour and a half alone with Beep to do whatever I wanted! And I didn't have to chase her around the gymnastics place. Bonus. I got dinner ready and made peanut butter Rice Krispie treats. Then I cleaned up the mess Sienna made while I was doing that. Then we snuggled and played and read.

As soon as the kids walked in the door, they started fighting (John clarifies that they were fighting in the car). So, after dinner John took Dalton and Sienna to the park while I supervised Maggie's chores, piano practice, and homework. Once she finished all that, we ran over to the park, but Dalton was getting cold and wanted to go home. John took the little two home for baths and I stayed for a while so Maggie could play.

When we got home, I put Sienna in bed, John read Harry Potter to the kids and miraculously, there was no more fighting. Dalton even went to bed well, something we often struggle with. We made a deal that he can either go to bed, or have no treats the following day. It's worked for three nights in a row now. Maggie stayed up and read aloud on the couch while I exercised and John got some time to himself.

I guess sometimes the 19 hours of separation of sleep and school is not enough for those two.

Motherhood: Prayer is the Answer: The past two days have been a struggle for me with Dalton. He's refused to listen, been deliberately disobedient and just plain ornery. Part of it is his usual lack of sleep. He bursts into tears over the smallest things and I know it's because he's tired. I've just been so frustrated.

This morning for my scripture study (and by "morning" I mean "3 am when I was up with Sienna" who has also been difficult) I clicked on my "motherhood" tag to read some words of wisdom.

Alma 13:28 But that ye would humble yourselves before the Lord, and call on his holy name, and watch and pray continually, that ye may not be tempted above that which ye can bear, and thus be led by the Holy Spirit, becoming humble, meek, submissive, patient, full of love and all long-suffering.
I apparently marked that one just a couple weeks ago. All long-suffering. Sounds about right.

And a bit more extrapolated:

D&C 88:63 Draw near unto me and I will draw near unto you; seek me diligently and ye shall find me; ask, and ye shall receive, knock, and it shall be opened unto you.
This one had a note I had made when marking it: "Prayer is the answer."

Dalton went to preschool today, which helped. Not only having some separation, but just going outside and getting out of the house can make things much brighter. That's our goal today. And prayer. Prayer is the answer.

Man Bag and Girl Friends: First a little tidbit I recorded during a play date. Dalton was playing with a pink sparkly wand.

Dalton's Girl Friend: That's girly. And you're a boy. ... It's pink.
Dalton: No, I got it from Chuck E. Cheese.
He looked a little confused and looked over at me. I was tempted to interrupt with my "There are no girl toys and boy toys speech" but I let him handle it. A few minutes later his friend turned to me.
Friend: Is that Dalton's?
Me: Yes, he and Maggie both got one from Chuck E. Cheese.
They were both satisfied and moved on.

Last night, the kids and I were walking through a parking lot holding hands. My purse had fallen to my hand and when Dalton yanked, it fell off onto his arm. I pulled it up over his neck so I could open the car door and Maggie said, "Dalton, you're a girl!" She said she called him that because girls use purses. We discussed how a purse is a bag and is not an absolute Girl or Boy thing (a discussion we've had before about lots of items). Then I asked her, "Is being a girl a bad thing? Are you calling Dalton a mean name when you say he's a girl?" She has a point about the purse, but the word "girl" should not be used as an insult! Especially by another girl.

Another more difficult situation appeared last week. One of Dalton's friends (a girl) said that he wasn't her friend because her dad told her she wasn't allowed to have boyfriends until she's 20! At least she was being obedient: she didn't even say it to Dalton, but to the adults nearby. A few days later, at the beach, the same thing happened in front of several other little girls. As I've mentioned, nearly all of Dalton's friends are girls and I didn't want this spreading around. I mentioned it to her mom. On Sunday, the girl's dad told me that he'd talked to her and told her it was ok to be friends with Dalton and she agreed. Whew! Now Dalton can have his friends.

Left Out: I came home from park day/picking Maggie up from school feeling left out on behalf of my kids. It's funny because I was actually really excited that Maggie had a friend in her class to be twins with for Twin Day today. But I realized I can't remember the last time either of my kids was invited over to play. (Actually, I can, Maggie got invited to a friend's house a couple months ago.) They have also only been invited to birthday parties where the kid invites the whole class.

I wonder if part of it is because most of the kids Maggie likes are boys, and Dalton pretty much only knows girls. Of course, that wouldn't stop me, but see my two previous posts this week on that subject and you'll see that other parents feel differently. And I just opened my Instagram to see pictures of friends at Disneyland - 7 little preschool/toddler girls (no boys).

Anyway. I'm a believer that you get what you put into things and I can't remember the last time we invited anyone over to play either. I show up to stuff, the kids now play with other people at activities, and that's good enough for them. None of that changes the little left out heart ache I have right now.

Boy and Girl Stuff: We had some friends over to play this morning. We usually watch girls, and it was a nice change to have a 5 year old boy to play with Dalton. Then they went upstairs and here are some of the things I overheard.

Does your sister kind of like boy stuff?
D: Do you want some [Mr potato head] earrings? No way! I'm not a girl.
Why is there boy stuff on that side and girl stuff on this side?
Is this your side? There's an angry bird.
Why is there two purple light sabers?

Sorry for harping on this, but it's my blog and apparently this is my issue.

And So it Ends: Last night Sienna would only nurse for a couple minutes. Of course, she is still happy to wake me up in the early morning, but who knows how long that will last.

Small and Simple Things: Today was one of those Sundays where I paused before entering the church and wondered why I was bothering. Sienna is grumpy during that time. The other kids are distracting. I miss classes trying to get S to take a nap. But I went in and gave it a try.

Sometimes I say that to myself and come home from church wondering the same thing. Today was not one of those days. Every few moments there seemed to be a reminder of why I should be there. Sienna and the kids were actually well-behaved. I got to take the Sacrament, something I missed last week with Sienna. The talks were good. I sang the hymns. I did spend Sunday School in the mother's room/hallway. But then I went to Relief Society and enjoyed a great lesson on service.

In the meantime, I went into the bathroom to change Sienna's diaper. A sister came in and said, "you're such a good mom. I could hear her laughing while you changed her." I said, "she wasn't laughing, she was crying!" Then she expressed sympathy and a kind word to me about being a mom of young children. That small moment buoyed me up and kept going. S was just an angel during RS (other than when I got up to play the piano). I really enjoyed the lesson. I've been feeling lately that all our experiences bring us opportunities to serve others going through those trials later (like the older mom had just done for me). I shared that message tonight when I went visiting teaching to a soon-to-be first time mom.

All these little things made me feel like Heavenly Father really knew my needs and was watching out for me today.

Pink is for Boys: I read Pink and Blue: Telling the Boys From the Girls in America for the same reason the author wrote it. She was doing some research on baby clothing and discovered that in 1918, the generally accepted rule was "pink is for the boy." Yes.

"Most of the confusion [in the early 20th century, on which color was feminine and which was masculine or whether they denoted gender at all] can be attributed to the arbitrary nature of the assigned symbolism, no matter how natural it might seem to modern consumers." Arbitrary. ARBITRARY! And it's become practically gospel in our culture today.

Also, the baby dress: "It's not unusual to hear modern people describe Victorian babies as being dressed like girls; this is an error. To its own parents and grandparents, a child wearing the traditional white dress looked like 'a baby.'" This is because a baby's sexual innocence was considered one of its greatest charms. Babies once wore dresses until age 3 or so, and even in the 1940s young babies of both sexes wore white dresses. Now, I even hear comments about boys wearing Christening gowns, the last remaining boy dress.

"One of the criticisms of second-wave feminism is that it framed equality more in terms of girls "being like a boy" than boys being more effeminate." True! "Equality" means women having what men have. When really, what women have is way better. I love being a SAHM!

The story of Baby X was very interesting. I pondered it over a day after reading it and I did figure out the baby's sex! I didn't see that coming.

These days, pink worn by men is usually seen as ironic or humorous. But colorful fashions for men are slowly emerging. The toddler age, after newborn clothes, is sadly lacking in neutral options. It's all PINK or BOY and it drives me crazy. Dalton asked me why he doesn't have any pretty clothes. Because he doesn't like any of the stuff that screams GIRL. Toddlers are a consumer now, and as they are learning to identify with their gender and learn it's permanence, they tend to go to the extreme, hence the girly-girls who wear nothing but pink tutus for months on end. "The more gender binary the children's clothing market becomes, the more it fits the worldview of the three- to five-year-old consumers looking for ways to express an unambigious gender identity." Parents worrying about gender and sexuality issues also often seek out once gender neutral items - a onesie, overalls - now embellished with gender-specific themes.

In addition to the clothing, I am really annoyed at people reinforcing what they believe to be natural attributes of boys and girls. Boys naturally like to wrestle and play with guns. Really? MY boy doesn't. Girls like dolls and dress-up. Really? MY girl doesn't. Now, I do believe that gender characteristics are innate and unique. "Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose." Most women are more naturally nurturing. Men are generally stronger. I also think that we are limiting each other by the gender mold that has been created in our world today. Especially when we limit children in what they can play with, what they can wear, who they can emulate, and with whom they can play (kids must have learned "Boys Only" from somewhere). Like a baby in a dress in the early part of the 20th century just looks like "a baby", let our children just act like "a child."

With the advent of mid-pregnancy ultrasounds revealing sex, people began labeling their baby with a gender even before birth. Is it a he or a she? It's a baby. Does it MATTER?

Proverbs 31: I've seen a lot of "Proverbs 31 mommy blogs" around and I think I knew what the proverb was, but it wasn't until I saw verse 27 quoted recently that I looked it up and felt touched by it.

She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.
I need to pick two jobs - one that makes ME feel like I can relax with my house clean, and one that makes JOHN feel like that. I already know what mine is, and I'm dreading it: cleaning the kitchen floor. If the kitchen floor is clean, life is good. But I hate doing it. John's is probably clear flat surfaces. We'll see if I can work on keeping both of those things done, without everything else completely going to pot.

I also liked the last verse on eating of her own fruit.

What Happened When My Son Wore a Pink Sparkly Crown to Walmart: A month or so ago I posted a picture of Dalton at Walmart. In the picture he is wearing a pink sparkly crown (and the baby's teething necklace).

Dalton sleeps in and he frequently will come downstairs fully-dressed while Sienna and I are having breakfast. On this day he came down wearing his "running pants", a long-sleeved Incredibles shirt (last year's Halloween costume) and the pink sparkly crown his sister had brought home from school the day before. One of his better outfits, honestly. I was just gathering my coupons for a trip to Walmart so we finished breakfast, and left.

On the way to the store I remembered reading a story by a mommy blogger about a boy wearing a pink headband to Walmart and getting yelled at by a stranger. When I got home from Walmart, I thought I would go comment on the blog post. As I searched the internet for it, I discovered that the whole thing was allegedly made-up. Huh.

Anyway, I let him wear it. And you know what? No one noticed. I don't think he got any more (or fewer) smiles than he usually does. No one stared. No one commented. He kept the crown on all day until the very moment M walked out of her classroom and asked for it back. He may have had an innocuous remark from a friend at school, but seriously - no one cared. We live in a very conservative area and no one cared.

However, this experience, coupled with the recent discovery that "pink and blue" were basically arbitrarily assigned as gender markers (so arbitrarily that pink was originally assigned to boys), has given me increasing interest in the culture of "gender". I am currently reading Pink and Blue: Telling the Boys From Girls in America.

A Mother's Arms: I rocked some babies to sleep today.

Earlier this week, a friend lost her husband in a car accident. I can't imagine what she has gone through this week. I haven't been able to put my sadness and helplessness into words. When something like this happens, you want to help, but often don't know how. I ended up volunteering in the nursery for her daughters and dozens of nieces and nephews during the funeral.

I took one crying child after another and rocked him to sleep, snuggling him to a moment's peace. And then I went to get my own children, 4 hours later and much thanks to the friend they were with.

This is what I can do. There are no words for such inexplicable loss. There is no use for "let me know if I can do anything." But there is a place for a mother's arms around another's child, leaving parents to mourn their brother, their husband, their friend. This I can do. I rocked some babies to sleep today. Beginning and ending with my own and filled with love in between.

Breastfeeding at Legoland: At Legoland, Maggie and I were in line for the Joust ride while John took Dalton on a roller coaster. I was nursing Sienna, in hopes of getting a little nap out of her, which didn't happen. A lady in front of us asked if I had a camera so she could take my picture and I would have a beautiful picture of me breastfeeding my child at Legoland! I misunderstood her at first (possibly because it was such a weird thing to ask) but then I gave her my phone and let her take a picture of me.

It was presumptious, and a little strange, mostly because I imagine she would do that any time she saw someone breastfeeding. But she was RIGHT. There aren't a lot of pictures of me in the first place. I'm the one who does most of the picture-taking. And it's difficult to take a picture of one's self breastfeeding (though I have one Maggie took). So, now I have a beautiful picture of me breastfeeding my child at Legoland. I look great, because I am laughing at the woman.

And the Park is Free: Today on our way to swimming lessons, then craft time at the library, and after Maggie's Hero Camp and lunch at Carl's Jr., I told Dalton I was taking him to the park tomorrow with the two kids I'm watching. Maggie interrupted with a whiny "you never let me do fun things!" I was pretty mad about it all day. She's only six, but a little appreciation would be nice. Seriously. It didn't help that her attitude all day was argumentative and just plain annoying.

But when I was complaining to John he said, "That just goes to show that sometimes as parents we miss the mark." (And THAT goes to show why kids need two parents.) Maggie would just as soon go to the park as go to Hero Camp, regardless of how much work I put into it. It also goes to show that Hero Camp isn't worth the effort. I think the moms are more impressed with it than the kids.

Just some food for thought. My friend Amy and I were just talking about it, too. Her kids lucked out with a less creative mom who takes them to the park and mine got one who gets sad if they don't appreciate all my creative work. Sheesh.

We Are One: I've been thinking about this for a while and even blogged about it before, but I wanted to blog again about how lucky I am to have John as my partner. At least once a day I look around and think, "This is why God intended for children to have two parents." When we find ourselves in the car dressed, fed, packed and on time for church (with hair fixed, no less). When we are able to each read a kid a different bedtime story. When John needs someone to complain to about work. When I can't entertain a grumpy baby for another minute. When he needs to do chiropractic exercises without kids climbing on him. When we are dragging stuff for a family of five up the hill from the beach. When we're unpacking from our trip, doing laundry and getting tired, hungry, dirty kids clean, fed and in bed (with bonus car wash).

I wrote the above on my phone in the mother's room during Sunday School yesterday, and then went into Relief Society to hear a lesson on marriage. The main thing I took from the lesson was charity, it all its forms, and thinking the best of your companion. I also remembered sharing a cabin with Jodi and Franco in Yosemite and seeing ourselves reflected in them - The complicated bedtime dance, the day-to-day handled together, the need for two parents, the partnership.

It's like a [mostly] seamless dance. Everything gets done. Everyone is happy. Needs are met. It's amazing. I'm so blessed.

*Title taken from an April 2013 General Conference talk on the Priesthood.

On Being a Mom: Sick kids. Actually, we're all sick. Dalton and Sienna both went to bed when we got home from Disneyland yesterday - at 4:30. Dalton stayed in bed until nearly 10, and Sienna woke up to eat at 7 and is going on the third hour of her nap. Tired, sick kids. Dalton throwing up meant one of us had to stay home from church. John kindly agreed to play the organ, in addition to accompanying the children while singing in Sacrament Meeting, and during Primary, and helping Maggie with her Primary talk. All of which things I am missing, in addition to lunch (lunch!) during the 2nd and 3rd hours for the fanciest Visiting Teaching Conference ever.

How annoying that I have to spend Mother's Day doing throw-up laundry instead of at church where I can hear about what a great job I'm doing as a mother! I mean, how lucky am I? How lucky that I can stay home and snuggle my boy (and, presumably, my feverish baby, if she ever wakes up). Because this is what being a mom is about. Not free food (sigh) or getting to see my kids sing (or not) to me in Sacrament Meeting, or even hearing Maggie give a wonderful Primary talk. It's more about making beds and breastfeeding. More day to day than extraordinary. The key is to make the day to day something special. Excuse me while I hide from monsters with otter-pop-mustache boy.

(I can't neglect to mention that John and the kids picked out some beautiful tulips that were delivered a couple days ago. John also bought me a new shirt that I LOVE and Dove caramel chocolates (one of my favorites). How lucky is he that a stripey shirt from Target that fits well makes me quite happy?)

The Little Things: I've been trying to focus on doing the little things with the kids (Particularly Dalton, whom I'm with all day), things I'm usually too "busy" or impatient for, or too bored, but that mean a lot to the kids. The kid version of stopping to smell the roses. In fact, we did stop to look at some flowers one day. Other things we did:

Let Dalton try some light-up toys at the souvenir stand at Disneyland.
Built a pillow house.
Hid under the covers and yelled Boo! to scare the monsters away.
Got the slide out.
Made lunches more appealing (muffin tin meal style, sprinkles, dippers etc)
Busted out the fingerpaints.
Paid for the full version of an iPad game the kids love but have been playing the free version for 6 months. Now they can do A-Z instead of A-E...
Played with shaving cream.

A Good Mom for Maggie: This week I made a goal to be a better mom to Maggie. More patience, less yelling, supporting and uplifting her rather than discouraging. Focus on the positive. All that sort of thing. A few days later I read a talk from the most recent General Conference that talked about mothering daughters.

Young women need mothers and mentors who exemplify virtuous womanhood. Mothers, your relationship with your daughter is of paramount importance, and so is your example. (2013 April General Conference, We Are Daughters of Our Heavenly Father, Sat. Morning Session - By Elaine S. Dalton)

I spend a lot of time trying to get Maggie to do things - necessary things. Eating, bathing, getting dressed, homework. Asking, reminding, nagging, yelling. She is a sensitive thing, and she is in her own world a lot of the time and she Does Not Listen. She is very rarely disobedient. Just clueless. I've specifically told her she needs to do what I ask immediately, not because it's urgent, but because if she runs around the room first (and she always does) she forgets what I've asked her to do!

Anyway, I'm focusing on the impact my words will have on her tiny, precious spirit and hoping that thought guides me to be a better mother to her. I want a close relationship with her, so it's better start now.

In addition to just generally being more patient, I tried to make food that she liked and I didn't criticize her clothing choices (I was really glad I had an excuse to ask her to change into pants on Wednesday...), tried not to pick on her for being mean and bossy to her brother. And when I did pick on her, I did it nicely. Also, a big focus on saying positive things to her. Noticing when she listens, telling her I'm proud of her, pointing out her good traits and habits.

Maggie brought home a paper from school where she wrote about being smart. I love that girl.

Proud Moments: Today started off with Dalton's 10th dry diaper since we made him a new sticker chart. This earned him a new pair of pajamas - Space Angry Birds pajamas. (For the record, when Dalton potty trained himself a year ago, he was also dry at night, but that stopped when we moved. Boo.)

Then, at gymnastics we heard the bell ring and looked up to see that it was Maggie! She showed off her new "trick" for everyone, a forward roll on the bar. Ironically, I have a series of pictures of her doing this at her last gymnastics class, but since that class was a make-up, she didn't have her regular coach. The coach told me and her that if she works hard and practices at home building up her arm strength, she will probably get to move up the next time they do evaluations. So, Maggie came home and practiced in the living room for half an hour. I caught a glace of one of her cartwheels and was very impressed! She also always wins the "quiet contest" in gymnastics class, and I think she's brought a star student certificate the last four classes in a row.

Not to leave Dalton out, he has gotten the hand-foot placement of the cartwheel down. There's just not much wheeling involved yet. He's great on the trampoline, though! One of the things his class does is kick bean bags off the balance beam as they walk, and he's great at that.

Very proud of my kids today.

Teamwork: I was amazed at our family getting ready this morning. I'd say I don't know how single parents do it, but I manage to do the bedtime thing without John when he is working. Maggie is a huge help in this area.

This morning, I took Maggie into her room so she wouldn't wake up Dalton (who was in our bed). John played iPad with Dalton when he woke up, and Maggie joined them. I fed Sienna. John took a shower then entertained Sienna while I got the kids dressed and fed and unloaded the dishwasher. I took a shower and fed Sienna again while John played with the kids and got the diaper bag ready. Somewhere in there we both practiced the piano.

I guess it's not as complicated as it seemed at the time. We made it to church nice and early, since I was playing the organ. John went home to get his tie (oops) and Sienna proceeded to grump most the rest of the day until we finally got her in bed at 6:30. Except for a random 45 minutes she sat contentedly on Amy's lap. Hmm.

Three Times the Fun: Being a mom of three agrees with me. I don't think I've ever been so organized as a mom (for more than a few days at a time, at least). Sienna is a pretty easy going baby, which is nice since she gets dragged around everywhere. Poor third child.

Anyway, we can't seem to leave the house before 10 am, but I'm trying to plan ahead to keep things under control with three kids and John working late. Get dinner prepped anytime S is napping. Pack lunch for me and D if we're out so we don't spend money eating out. We even took dinner to Disneyland the last three times we went. Get Maggie's homework done early in the week. And use the evenings to catch up on everything that piled up while we were running around all day. Groceries that never got put away, piles of unfolded laundry, etc. Because it breaks my heart to wake up Sienna every time we have to go somewhere, I've been scheduling crazy days along with quiet home days.

A menu plan has been very helpful. And the crockpot. And a friend driving the kids to gymnastics. And my iphone/pinterest/calendar in the wee hours. And sometimes it requires kicking out the lazies and just doing it.

The one thing I haven't managed to get going again is activities for Dalton. He does get play dates and park time, but I miss doing crafts and activities with him. He gets far more ipad time than I'd like (even though I've found some fun educational apps), and we've taken to stopping at the park when Sienna's hungry if I know the alternative is going home and him playing on the ipad while I feed her. I can't seem to get him interested in toys very long, so I need to sit down and do stuff with him.

[Comments] (1) Even Sicker Kids: Around 5 am, Dalton told me "ear ouchie." Nice. When we got up, Maggie told me that her stomach was hurting, so I wouldn't let her go to school, which made her very upset. I hauled both kids to the doctor.

The doctor said that Dalton had an ear infection and RSV. Luckily his oxygen levels were fine, we just need to watch our for labored breathing. He's just 5 or 6 months older than Maggie was when she was hospitalized with RSV. I guess that "over 2" makes a big difference.

The doctor wrote a prescription for Dalton. Then Maggie threw up on the floor.
"That's why we switched to hardwood floors," the doctor said.
Good idea.

Potty! Potty!: I was fully intending not to even think about potty-training Dalton until he turns three. Why frustrate myself by starting too early, right?

A few weeks ago, he saw me cleaning the toilets for the first time (we had a maid in India, remember?) He was very intrigued and shortly after started asking to sit on the potty a few times. Kyli is using our potty seat right now, so I had to hold him there until he got tired of it, which took a surprisingly long time. Today while I was changing a wet diaper, he hopped up and ran to the bathroom and wanted to be put on. And what do you know, he actually peed.

Dalton is about a month shy of the age when I trained Maggie. I don't know if I want to do this yet, though!

[Comments] (1) A Monkey in the Kitchen: We went to the zoo today, so when Maggie walked by the kitchen and said, "Mom, there's a monkey in our kitchen. It's eating our food!" I thought she was kidding. Then I heard something rustling. I peeked around the corner and it HISSED at me!

I threw Maggie and my purse (didn't want to get locked out) out the door and looked to see if I could get it out, but it was sitting by my broom. I finally knocked next door and a couple neighbors came with a broom and chased it out onto the balcony and locked the door. We live on the fourth floor, by the way (5th floor in US terms).

He helped himself to some Goldfish and pumpkin muffins (both in containers), and climbed on the fridge, counter, and microwave. He sat on the balcony for a few minutes finishing off one of the muffins. Maggie was really upset that he ate some of our food and broke the muffins. She picked up all the goldfish and put them back in the container. She says it was really scary, but I think she was mostly upset about the food, and I think she was a little freaked out because I was scared.

John, Jodi, and Dalton had walked down to the internet cafe to print something. Luckily - I would have had a much more difficult time with Dalton home, and Jodi is really afraid of the monkeys.

I've never seen a monkey anywhere near our neighborhood, but now I will be very cautious. TII. I did take pictures of it. Once it was behind glass, Maggie wasn't afraid one bit.

Real Job vs. Parenting: Maggie has been so ornery today. I won't go into detail, but a lot of screaming and time outs happened. I complained to Rachel.

Rachel: aww
poor you
does this make you feel better. my colleague just closed a document that he has been working on all day without saving
me: gah! yes that makes me feel better
there's a mysterious wet spot on the couch. Does that make him feel better?
Rachel: herm
me: lol

Mornings at Home: John calls just minutes after leaving for work. There's a huge, dead dragonfly in the stairwell and we should go check it out. After the cleaning lady finishes, we put our shoes on and head down the stairs. The kids are both impressed with the dragonfly. Since we're most of the way down, we go outside and walk around the building twice. The second time, we stop in one of the gardens and pick smooth stones out of the "grass" and throw them back into the planters.

This morning when I started this blog Maggie was practicing writing the letter W and Dalton was coloring with colored pencils in his booster seat.

I love being able to say "sure!" when Maggie comes up with some crazy thing she wants to make. And tickling, and singing silly songs.

More here.

Leave Me Alone: Today we went to Cubbon Park and visited the children's park there. We were the only white people.

Oh, let me interrupt this post with a white people joke. The other day we were going to a grocery store in the vicinity of this park (a tourist area) and I said, "hey, look a white person!" Maggie jumped up and said, "where? Where??" When I finished laughing, I asked, "Maggie, what color are you?" "Pink," she answered. Of course.

Back to my post. We have really cute kids and everyone loves to see them, talk to them, touch them, hold them etc. Not really a huge deal, and we knew this would happen ahead of time. Everyone here, especially young men, loves our kids. Dalton bears the brunt of it, but since I am often holding him in the sling, Maggie gets her fair share of attention.

Maggie has started yelling, "No!" if someone approaches her. I don't think she minds talking to people, shaking their hands or whatever, but she's been pinched on the cheeks a few too many times. Dalton, on the other hand, LOVES the attention. He is usually happy to go to anyone who wants to hold him - for a minute at least. The sling helps here; it's a lot harder to take him from me if he's in the sling and I'm holding on tight. Saying "no" doesn't work, though Maggie has demonstrated that yelling it does.

Neither of them minds posing for pictures. Oh, and Dalton has started waving to everyone who looks at him. He can just tell when he is the object of attention, and he turns and waves his adorable baby wave. Sometimes he will bury his head against me, but it's so cute that he's hiding that he gets "awwws" of attention and turns right back out to acknowledge them.

Maggie is not entirely unfriendly. As John wrote, she made friends with a gaggle of boys on a school trip. They all passed the playground where we were and waved from the train yelling "Hi, Maggie!"

[Comments] (1) Looking Forward To: When I took Dalton to his 2 month appointment, the doctor told me I was feeding him too much - too often, that is. He said he should be able to go at least 3 hours during the day. Well, he was right. Dalton won't always wait quite three hours, but I've definitely been feeding him less often, and he eats better and longer at each feeding because of it. This makes it easier to go places and do stuff. Also, he is sleeping up to 8 1/2 hours at night, which is great.

At John's work party the other night, we were talking about how dismal January is. The holidays are over. Work becomes busy. The weather is crappy. And there's nothing to look forward to - the next day off John gets is Memorial Day. John is once again going to Orange County to work on a project for a client down there who keeps requesting him. And this year we are going, too! We will be in California for 10 days. We're going to get 6 day passes to Disneyland, and I'm planning to take the kids (during the week when John is working) up to Pat's house to see my family. I'm very excited.

Tantrum Time: Maggie has been throwing a lot of tantrums lately. A lot of times it's because I can't give her attention when she wants it, and a lot of times it's because she needs a wipe. Today she got mad at a playdate because I made her say please for a wipe. She wouldn't put her coat and gloves on and screamed the whole way home (3 blocks). Then she got mad that I wouldn't hold her (and push the stroller uphill at the same time). She screamed in her bed for 1/2 hour, then asked nicely for a wipe and chocolate milk (which I wouldn't give her, so she settled for apple juice) and went to sleep. Not even going to the aquarium with Colette would break her grumpiness, so she gets a nap instead. This is her third nap this week (and fourth tantrum). The doctor says to ignore, and don't give in or reward with treats.

Dalton is also asleep, miraculously not in my arms, so I'm off to do some sewing projects. I'm not in much of a mood to make anything for Maggie, but that's all that's left.

It Must Be Nice: to wake up hungry in the night and get a snuggle from your mommy and some warm milk. Of course, you have to get out of your nice, warm bed. But, so do I.

Crafty and Sly: Being a parent is the most fulfilling thing in my life right now. Maybe that isn't saying much, but I love watching Maggie grow and learn new things every day. (Yesterday she learned the word "facebook"...) She makes me laugh out loud, and is silly on purpose, and is So. Incredibly. Smart.

One of the great things about having kids is that making toys is so much fun! It's very rewarding to make something both useful and fun. I just finished Maggie's quiet book. It isn't spectacular and it was a lot of work, but she loves it.

Speaking of crafting, apparently me and my craftiness was the topic of conversation during Relief Society a few weeks ago. I was able to get the fourth person who mentioned it to me, Jenny, to tell me what really happened. The lesson was on talents and Jana raised her hand and said how I can make something from nothing and several other girls chimed in about my craft blog. This was before I gave Jana her baby gift made from scraps. Is this what I get for being friends with the Relief Society President?

[Comments] (1) Happy Anniversary, Part 2: Thanks to Jodi and Franco for watching Maggie for us on Saturday. We went to see Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and had take-out lunch from Ruby River. Maggie went to the park, drove a beep-beep at the grocery store, and watched some Snoopy shows. She was asking today when Mommy and Daddy are going bye-bye again; she sure had a lot of fun.

I am pretty sure that Maggie had roseola when she was sick last week. 3 days of fever, followed by a rash on her tummy for less than a day. She was pretty irritable with the fever. Now her irritability has turned into something... irate.

She's been waking up screaming inconsolably, for 10 to 45 minutes. Usually, it's when she is ready to wake up anyway, either in the morning, or after nap. But last night she was up in the middle of the night, and today she was screaming before her nap. Not sure what's going on. We are experimenting with less sugar, and praying for more patience.

Big Girl: Miss Margaret has been an excellent potty training pupil. It's been 6 days and she is asking to go potty and hasn't had an accident in a couple days, despite our busy weekend. She needs to wear a diaper at night and during naps. And to poop in. But we're not worried about that yet. We also used a pull-up during church, which turned out to be a good thing: there was a line for the nursery potty and we both had to hurry to class, so she eventually went in her pull-up during nursery.

I bought some training pants, and I've just put her in those. Most of the time they absorbed her accidents just fine. I am kind of anti-pull-ups because it's the same difference as a diaper, only they cost more. They only reason we have some is because I traded Maggie's uneaten baby food for a nearly full package a few months ago.

Also, Maggie has cut two new teeth, the first since January. We're up to 12 now. John pointed out today that we're likely to have two children teething at the same time. But at least we won't have two in diapers!

: John is out of town. We are doing potty training. It's going ok. Maggie is eating a popsicle she just earned by peeing in the toilet. I just want to write that down so I remember success the next time she pees 2 minutes after I take her off the potty.

So Smart?: I was telling a friend the other day about how Maggie learned her numbers (and knows her shapes and colors) and four letters (M, S, Y and O). This was one of the many times I have highly recommended the Preschool Prep DVDs. This friend insisted that Maggie was just exceptional. Well, that may be the case. But when John and I discussed it later he pointed out that maybe it's just because we taught her those things. Maybe other parents don't teach their toddlers colors, shapes, numbers and letters.

But why not? Probably because they think children can't learn them so young. We introduced the Meet the Letters DVD this week and Maggie's knowledge of the alphabet is rapidly expanding. At the beginning of the DVD the creator says "most learning tools miss this window [of opportune time for learning such things] by a year or two." Most parents too, apparently.

I should also mention that Maggie loves to learn. From the moment she was born she's been alert and attentive to the world around her, soaking it all in.

[Comments] (2) Self-Soother: John is out of town this week so we (I) chose it as the magic week to take away Maggie's pacifier. She's only been using it for naps and bedtime for a few months. We threw most of them in the trash on Sunday. I gave her one with the tip cut off a little, but she wasn't interested.

Sunday night she cried for 1/2 hour, woke up for 1/2 hour at 1 AM and then woke up at 6:30. Monday night and last night she went right to sleep and I hardly heard a peep from her all night.

Naptime has been a different story. Monday on the way home from Logan she cried until I put on the Wiggles CD then went right to sleep, but she woke up as soon as we got off the freeway and was grumpy the rest of the day. Yesterday she cried for 1/2 hour, slept for 1/2 hour, then I got her up and let her take the rest of her nap snuggled with me.

I guess a grumpy naptime can take it's time to be worked out, so long as she sleeps at night when John gets home and needs to get up early for work.

UPDATE: Maggie went right to sleep with no fuss at naptime today and appears to be doing the same for the third bedtime in a row. If I'd known this would be so easy I'd have done it a while ago.

Word Girl: Maggie's starting to pick up words all over the place. Last night while trick -or-treating she pointed at the umbrella and I told her what it was and she started saying "lella!"

We borrowed Meet the Numbers from the library to take to Park City and Maggie's picked up the numbers really fast. I got out her foam numbers to play with in her bath yesterday and today she grabbed the eight out of the bucket and said, "eight!" Seriously! I love these DVDs - Maggie also learned her colors from them. I requested Meet the Shapes from the library, although she kind of already knows them.

Speaking of speaking, Maggie apparently made up a sign for "sorry" - she puts her hand on the back of her neck. Not sure where it came from, but she does it whenever we ask her to say she's sorry. Also, "Aunt Jodi"="sss" ???, "shh"="binky" (because she only allowed it when she sleeps) and Thursday she said "Tuh" twice when I mentioned Colette. ETA: I don't know if I've previously mentioned that fish say "glub glub" or "wubwubwub" and kitties say "mmmm!"

[Comments] (1) Kicking the Habit: It's been two weeks since we took away Maggie's pacifier during the day. That means one kit-packing extravaganza at Jamie's house, going to church twice, two trips to the grocery store, and countless rides in the car. Success! It wasn't as difficult as I was afraid it might be. In fact, other than having to give her a cheesestick at the grocery store, I didn't have much trouble at all. She fell asleep in the car without it three or four times.

I guess I am mostly afraid of making her go to sleep in her crib without it. We can put that off for a while yet.

Set: I've been thinking about what it's like from Maggie's point of view when I point out something to her. When I point to a dog, in real life, a toy, or in a book, I think she understands that dogs all have the same general shape, are fuzzy, whatever. What I'm really wondering about is how she learns shapes, colors, letters, numbers, and how many of things there are.

Maggie has a set of foam letters and numbers to play with in the bathtub. If I point to a yellow letter P and say "yellow", she can't have a clue if I'm telling her the color, the shape, or what order it's in on the tub wall. What if she has three letters lined up and I say, "1, 2, 3" while pointing to a red B, a green C and a blue X?

My meaning will come across more clearly with fewer variables. For example, if all the letters were the same color, or if I am counting 3 of the same item, or sorting blocks by color. Thinking about this reminded me of a game Leonard and Sumana gave us for Christmas once called Set. In this game each player tries to find a set of three cards from those laid out that either have all properties common among them, or different. The elements on the cards need to be of the same number, color, shape and pattern OR the elements can each have one or more different properties from each other.

Big Girls Don't Cry: We've kind of started making Maggie cry herself to sleep. I say "kind of" because sometimes we feel bad and cheat, and also we have neighbors. Despite our inconsistency, I think she's catching on. It seems like I finally think, "ok she's not going to sleep, I'll go get her when I'm done with this." and before I can get to her, she's stopped. The main thing is, I want her sleeping longer at night, which seems to be working.

The Title also refers to the song I was singing to myself to distract me while killing a cockroach. Sometimes I take off my glasses when I have to kill something so I can't look at it too closely. Yuck.

[Comments] (1) Slow Poke: Maggie has finally learned how to roll onto her back. No more of this "I'm on my tummy and I can't get off!" business. I've been bragging all I want about Maggie since I could say, "Oh, but she can't even roll onto her back yet." and make people feel better, but I guess I can't do that anymore. She is being a very good eater; she gulps down all the rice cereal her daddy will give her.

We went to the farm today. A couple of bulls mooed loudly in her face and she started crying. That's really the first time she's been scared of something (other than this one lady at church....)

Rice Cereal Surprise: Yesterday Maggie had a doctor's appointment. The doctor said we can start her on solids anytime. I bought a box of rice cereal at Target (for 50 cents). I think we will wait awhile though. I am thinking of waiting until after our trip to Utah.

I don't really get what the big deal is about feeding her cereal. Both our book and the doctor talked about taking pictures and video taping! Video taping her not eating?

I am realizing the truth of my family never been this easy to feed again. Also, not looking forward to stinkier diapers. Having a baby is complicated enough and she is already growing up too fast. I think we'll wait a bit.

Maggie weighed in at 14 lbs 6 oz, two ounces shy of doubling her birth weight. She'll make it there by 5 months.

[Comments] (2) Nursing Degree: Despite 6-8 weeks of pain (worse than childbirth), a thrush infection and mastitis, I really like breastfeeding. Here's why.

It's free. It's easier and less hassle than bottle-feeding. You don't need to carry extra stuff when you go out. It's free snuggles. You hardly have to wake up to do it in the middle of the night. It makes me feel really good to know that I am providing all the nourishment my baby needs for free.

By the way, I didn't know I was so committed to breasfeeding until I stuck with it through the pain. I am a wimp.

[Comments] (1) : This weekend, with Maggie 3 weeks old, we managed to successfully introduce the bottle, clip her fingernails, and take her for a walk at the Woodbridge lake. John likes participating more in her feedings, even though it means he gets a turn at night (at least since he took today off work). I thought bottle-feeding when not necessary (ie. I'm at work) would be a waste of time, besides that John likes doing it. But I can pump enough for her feeding in 7 minutes, so that's not so bad.

John also washed some of her 0-3 month clothes so they would shrink enough she could start wearing them. So many clothes, so little time.

[Comments] (1) Dr. Pivko Had a Picnic: Where is Dr. Pivko?

Yes. We had a song about our pediatrician. This fact alone made me concerned about finding the right doctor for Maggie. Apparently this is very important to a child, and I didn't want to screw it up (although we are moving in a few months anyway). I ended up picking someone on recommendation of two girls in the ward who didn't even use her. Luckily, she is wonderful. After she checked Maggie in the hospital John said, "she really wants to be our doctor." He didn't realize she was our doctor.

Other pediatric memories - Rachel crying when the rest of us got shots. Little Sympathetic Rachel.

[Comments] (2) No Matter How Small: John has started reading a Dr. Seuss book to Beet every night. She seems to really like it, and I can't blame her; I loved when my parents read to me.

It's fun to listen to John read and hear something Mom was always saying. (The difference between this and "we wonderss, yess, we wonderss" is that when Mom was quoting Dr. Seuss, I knew she was quoting Dr. Suess. Not so creepy.) Here's my recent favorite, from Horton Hears a Who.

"Humpf!", humpfed a voice. Twas a sour kangaroo.
And the young kangaroo in her pouch said, "Humpf!" too.

: The other day my friend Jennifer came over to say goodbye - they are moving to Arizona. She brought me an early baby gift, part of which was an adorable white onesie with puffy sleeves and embroidery. She also made me some burpcloths by taking cloth diapers and sewing ribbon and fabric on them. John heard us talking about sewing on cloth diapers and was a little weirded out until I explained you used them as burpcloths. These are the first baby girl clothes we've got - still holding off on buying stuff!


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