Friday, January 29, 2010

Once When We Were New

We have been spending the better part of the last hour watching old videos of Abigail ages one to two. It has been really fun to take this stroll through memories of our old home, our baby who stayed in flannel sleepers all day, and who pretty much spoke in baby signs. It makes me realize a few things about memories with "The First Child."

1. New parents are slightly obsessive. We have videos of every grunt, smile, wave of her hand...anything that we thought was cute and worth taping (which apparently was EVERYTHING).

2. New parents think their kids are geniuses. We were so impressed with everything she did, assuming she must have had the highest IQ ever of a child that age. I say that now as I look at my four-year-old spinning around the living room in her princess underwear with a blanket over her head. Okay, okay, we still think she's pretty smart.

3. New parents talk to their babies constantly. I have all of these videos of just me and her, sitting on the kitchen floor, talking. Well, I was doing 99.8% of the talking. She was either doing signs, swaying to music, or waving her hands. I'm kind of amazed that I had so much to say to someone who couldn't converse yet. Note: This was also before I joined Facebook. I'm just sayin'.

4. New parents are not so concerned with the toys their children have. Abigail had a very small amount of toys, and we didn't really spend money on them. We gave her measuring spoons and lids to McDonald's cups. It all entertained her, and whatever didn't was just filled in by us spending oodles of time with her.

It was pretty amazing being a brand-new parent. I look forward to the feeling of having another little one in the house. Maybe to obsess over....but maybe not in the same way. Because there is nothing like that first one coming to your house. I watch these videos and cannot imagine singing that many songs, talking that non-stop, making videos of every single moment. Then again, maybe we will. Maybe we will get a new shot of energy (you know, after the first year of sleeplessness). I can't wait.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Teachable Moments

I know many of you already read this on my Facebook status, but as my mama always told me, "Write it down!" This is my way of journaling this moment and not forgetting, in a little more detail than what my status would allow.

So, Abigail has had a rough morning. Lots of getting frustrated with things not going her way, which usually results in some pretty ugly acting. She had asked if she could watch Blues Clues around noon. I told her that she could, but that Daddy would be home soon for lunch, and might want to watch something different while he ate. If so, we would have to shut it off when he came home. Well, talk about having your defenses ready. As soon as she heard the door to the garage open, she started throwing a fit that she WAS NOT DONE WATCHING BLUES CLUES!

Paul looked shocked to be greeted in such a manner. She continued to cry and carry on for a while. Then he sat down and had a Daddy/daughter talk about how she acted. He's very calm like that. She calmed down, they ate lunch, and he allowed her to watch more of her show.

Then, as he was ready to leave, well, I don't even know what happened as I was in the other room, but I know there was some major sassiness and back-talking directed toward Daddy. We told her that we were shutting off Blues Clues and she had to go sit on her bed in her room (her time-out place) for acting mean toward Daddy. She freaked out even more that we were shutting off Blues Clues. Wow, don't you love when you have to tell stories like this about your kids? I have to admit, we love Blues Clues in this house, but this is the first time it has gotten so ugly.

Paul went back to work, and I went in to talk with her in her room. She carried on for a little while over the injustices of the world (we had told her no more Blues Clues today). We talked about how it made Daddy feel when she acted so mean and sassy toward him, that it hurts his feelings. As she calmed down while we talked, she told me "I don't like it when I sin."

Poor kid. Me neither. She has learned about sin in Sunday School, and we've just explained to her that sin is when we make bad choices. Pretty simple explanation at this point. But at this early age, we had yet to explain what you do when you you respond to God after you do it.

The rest of the conversation went as follows:
Me: So, how do you feel for the way you acted toward Daddy?

Abigail: Sorry.

Me: Do you want to call him and tell him you're sorry?

Abigail: No, you can tell him.

Me: Nope, sorry. It isn't my job to tell Daddy sorry when it was something you did. It's your job. Maybe you can tell him when he comes home from work. So, Abigail. If it makes Daddy sad when you act mean toward him, how do you think it makes God feel when we sin and make bad choices?

Abigail: Sad.

Me: And if you are going to tell Daddy you are sorry and ask him to forgive you, then what do you think you should say to God when you sin?

Abigail: That I'm sorry and ask Him to forgive me.

Me: Yup. I usually do it like this, "Dear God, I'm sorry that I made a bad choice and hurt your feelings. Please forgive me." So, can you pray something like that?

Abigail (burying her head deep into her pillow): "Dear God, I'm sorry that I sinned and made a bad choice. Will you forgive me? I love you and want to follow your rules. I want to listen to you and your angels. I want to follow you all the time, day and night. Amen."

Yeah. I love when she just keeps on praying. It's so much better than what I could have prayed for her. I love when she shows her heart through her prayers. Even on the really ugly days, and trust me, today has been one. Her heart is a beautiful thing.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

In the Last Week

All of these things have happened in the last week:

1. My friend Angie and I got the baby's room painted! This was able to happen after her husband and some other husbands from church came to move a monstrosity of a desk out of the office/baby's room. Once the desk was moved, I felt as if the heavens parted and I could see light. Because ain't NUTTIN' was happening until that monster was moved. I feel like things will all work out to bring a baby home. And like my friend Martha said, I still have, ahem, milk supply and diapers, so really, we would have been fine anyway.

2. Paul's mom had one of her turns for the worse. This is, I believe, the third time this has happened in the last year (maybe fourth?). It is usually brought on by dehydration and a UTI. It is emotionally exhausting that this keeps happening, but she seems to be on the upswing again.

3. Abigail had about two days of being almost perfect. I love those days....when we don't have arguments, when she is agreeable, when we are just silly and fun.
Today was not quite so almost perfect. Time outs were served. A spanking was threatened. (I hate when she treats me like I'm four.) We are both resting now, and hopefully will be acting like shiny, happy people after nap time.

4. Our car (not the good car, but the car we only drive when we have to) sounded like I was dragging a dead body beneath it the other day. Very reassuring. We have to go get it tonight from the friends house where I left it. Paul will drive it home...let's all pray that it doesn't spontaneously combust while he is in it, m'kay?

5. I have hit 34 weeks pregnant. Six weeks left to go! However, I have to be in a wedding in about three weeks, and then I have given her my full permission to evacuate the premises a little early. Because I'm pretty much ready to be done with being as it's been and all. I feel (today) very calm about her coming, yet when I really think about it, I'm still a little overwhelmed that our family will change forever in just a few short weeks. Crazy. Oh, and I start meeting with the doctor who will deliver the baby at my next visit! Excited about that next step, but seriously, if my doctor who I've been seeing would just deliver her for me, I would pay her in chocolate chip cookies and free babysitting for the next 18 years because I LOVE my doctor.

6. I can no longer sleep comfortably. It makes me very tired during the day. Probably part of the problem is the divider line of a body pillow that Paul named "Bertha" that is between us every night. I'm not sure Bertha is helping me so much. Therefore, I have been taking a lot of naps. Therefore, if I do not seem to be available in the afternoons, there is a good likelihood I'm paying off some sleep debt.

7. We partied last weekend with our Sunday School class as a belated Christmas party. It was way fun. We ate a lot of things that are not on Paul's DASH diet. We played games. I wish we could have Christmas parties every month.

8. While Angie and I painted, we told Abigail she was the "babysitter" for Kaiden, Angie's 2-year-old, to keep him occupied. This immediately made her head grow four times its normal size, and she spent the day telling Kaiden that he needed to listen to her because she was the babysitter, his boss, and "the one in charge." I have a sinking feeling that Sadie Grace does not stand a chance.

Overall, a pretty good week. I'm gonna go work on that sleep debt now.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Explaining Haiti

As we flipped through the channels after dinner tonight, there were recurrent pictures of toppled buildings, rubble-strewn streets, and injured people. I wanted to stop and watch, but felt the need to explain it to Abigail somehow. How do you explain an earthquake to a four-year-old? How do you explain disasters, that people get hurt? How do you explain things that we (hopefully and more-than-likely) will never experience in the midwest?

Gently. Like a child. The reason being, that we need to pray for them. She may not understand much about such things, but she does understand prayer. I wish I understood prayer, the simple, pure, heartfelt prayer like she prays.

"Abigail, do you see these pictures on the tv? Something happened just yesterday. It happened in a country called Haiti. That is not in the United States of America. It is in the ocean, far away from here. It is called an earthquake. That is when the ground moves a lot under your feet. It causes buildings to fall down, and people get hurt."

Watching the tv footage, her brain was trying to make sense of it. "This happened outside of the tv? It happened in our world?"

"Mm-hmm. But not close to here. It happened in another country. But do you see how the buildings fell down? People were hurt. So, we need to pray for them and ask God to help them. We can pray for them at bedtime when you say your prayers."

"Okay. But maybe you can pray for them. I don't know what to say." She watched the tv some more. "That guy has blood on him. Maybe because a building fell and hurt him."

"Yeah, probably. It's okay, honey. You don't have to worry. We will pray for them tonight." I switched the channel to something of lighter fare, thinking she had seen enough for now.

"Mommy, can we pray for them now?"

"Sure, honey. Do you want me to?"

"No, I will. What's the name of the place where the people live again?"


"Dear God, thank you for this day and for our food. Thank you for Haiti. And please help the people in Haiti to be safe and healed so they won't bleed anymore. And help no more buildings to fall. Amen."

"That was a wonderful prayer, Abigail. Thank you for praying for them. We can keep praying for them for a while, not just one time."

"Yeah, because maybe they are sad. Or frustrated. But God will make them all better and heal them? And then maybe they can build new buildings where the ones fell down?"

"Yup. That is exactly what they will do. God will help them, and people will help them." I walked over to the couch and gave her a hug. "I love your heart, Abigail. It is a very kind heart and shows that you love God and love people."

Maybe explaining Haiti taught me more about my daughter's heart than I taught her.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Slow Down Time

I love January. Most people feel the "holiday letdown" after Christmas and New Year's, with nothing fun and festive to look forward to. I, however, welcome the change from December's (albeit crazy fun) hectic pace to having nothing on the calendar. Of course, I use the term "nothing on the calendar" pretty loosely, as there is always something on the calendar, but you know what I mean. Not being booked for parties every night of the week, not feeling that every moment needs to be filled with some memory-making, picture-taking event. I love the sloooowww of January...staying inside from the snow and not feeling bad about it (because who really expects you to go somewhere in the snow?), making a different crock pot meal every night (because soup is so good right now), and thinking Don't I have somewhere I have to be? Oh, no, I guess I don't. Ahhhhhhhh.....

As I look around my house, I'm obviously aware of many things I could be doing with my time. But those things are slowly being penciled in on my out the office, moving out the desk, painting the walls, moving in the crib. They will happen, hopefully by the end of next week because I am ready to finish it and stop feeling anxious about it. Yesterday I felt pretty anxious. Just had those feelings of not being ready for baby to come, yet being SO READY for baby to come. One of my high school friends reminded me on facebook yesterday that in the beginning, all I really need to have ready are breasts and diapers. That reminder stripped it all away for me....and I remembered that ready or not, babies come, and it will all be okay. I feel much more at ease in my mind today, which is a much better place to be.

So, January day, what shall we do? (besides laundry, duh.) The stew is in the crock pot. The trash has been collected through the house. I may transfer a couple of desk drawers into their new spot in the living room, just so I can whine to my husband and feel like I did something about it. I may read another chapter of Francis Chan's Crazy Love, because I probably shouldn't just stop at the intro, and it has my attention. Yeah, today is a good January day. I think I will enjoy it.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Oh, the Joys

I'm not sure where the last two weeks have gone, but gone they are. In a nutshell, Christmas was great....relaxing, special, magical. It was a tough few days before that, as Abigail's birthday was the 21st, and she pretty well thought the world revolved around her for a little while there. I guess it kind of did. I want her birthdays to be special, just like we all do, and I don't ever want her to feel that having a birthday so close to Christmas has made her "miss out." But I think she walked around with an invisible crown and scepter that week, and pretty well expected gifts at every corner. We had to have a lot of family "talks" and deal with several meltdowns. It has calmed down since then, and hopefully she is feeling back to reality now.

I guess all of that got me to thinking about how I am doing, you know, as Abigail's mommy. I think when I became a mommy, I was "prepared" for all that I was "unprepared" for. I knew there would be a ton of stuff we didn't know how to do, and that you figure it out as you go. There definitely is no manual. However, I was not prepared for how much I would second-guess myself. Paul and I work hard to make special moments with her. We spend time with her. Heck, I have the opportunity to stay at home with her, which gives me almost non-stop time with her, four years running.

But then there is that second-guessing...

Paul and I have discussions with each other about what we could do differently in our parenting styles. If there is one thing that has become crystal clear to me, it is that Paul and I are a team. Yes, I have those "breakdown" moments when I feel like I "do it all", but the truth is, I couldn't do any of this without him. We back each other. We are unified. There are moments when she asks me a question, or acts a certain way, and I just don't even know how to respond. That is usually when he responds perfectly.

Trust me, I love, love, love being a mommy. It was always my highest "career goal." The rewards outweigh the frustrations. It causes me to pray a lot.

But, I ask you, Mommies of the World, is there ever a "parenting" moment when you feel like you did it right? When you don't wonder afterwards....was that too harsh? Was it not harsh enough? Did they learn a lesson, or did I just come across as a big meanie? Will my child be better off for the way I just handled that situation?

Do you ever feel like you get it right?