Feb 29, 2012

Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See?

I see two girls fighting over me.

We've had a situation in our house for awhile now.  A serious one, because it influences bedtime, and bedtime is a serious thing, if you ask me.

Hope is a stuffed animal lover.  She snuggles them, plays with them, collects them.  But she's never been attached to a specific one.  She never had any type of lovey.  Each night she chose a different stuffed animal to cuddle with.

The offending Bear
And then, during a particularly rough nighttime patch (when it happened I can't say for sure because we have certainly had a lot of those patches since she was born), in my groggy and desperate-for-sleep state, I pulled the nearest stuffed animal to my chest, gave it a big squeeze, and told her that when she was feeling sad or lonely she could hug that animal and it would be like Mommy was giving her a hug.

So she did.  And it seemed to help.  Some nights she asked for her "Bella Bear" and other nights she was fine without it.

Somewhere along the line, growing from an indifferent baby not caring what toys were hers into a very mindful toddler, Paige also formed an attachment to a stuffed animal.  In fact, she asks for her "Papa Bear" every single night.

And you know what?  It is the same bear.  The.  Exact.  Same.  Bear.

Do you know how many stuffed animals we have?  We have about 1,722 stuffed animals ranging in size, shape, color, and fluffiness.  Do you know how many of those animals are bears?  One.  We have one flippin' bear in the entire house.

So of course, try as I may, I could not influence the mind of my stubborn toddler or my equally-as-stubborn-when-it-comes-to-her-stuffed-animals preschooler.

Our bedtime is a little dance between me silently praying no one will ask for Bella/Papa Bear and one of the girls requesting said bear and then me hoping the other girl did not hear the request and then fumbling between who should get the darn bear when they both start calling out for it.

Needless to say, we got another bear.  But because I (mush of a mother that I am) could not figure out who would get the new bear, each girl got a new bear.

Our house is exploding with stuffed animals.

I took the girls to Build a Bear, and told them we are getting bears.  Only bears.  Not puppies, not dragons, not bunnies with adorable long ears.  Bears.

And these wonderful, new, lovely bears are to become the new nighttime cuddle bears.  Bella/Papa Bear will have her (his?) own special place to sleep and they each get to sleep with their brand new bears.

The optimist in me is hopeful.  The pessimist?  Pretty sure we wasted our money.  And the realist just knows that it probably won't work out quite like I'm expecting.

In any case, tonight will be the first night with their new bears.

Wish me luck.

With their new bears

Feb 28, 2012

A Broken Spell

The snow, it comes, in big fluffy flakes.  The sky gray and gloomy, the clean white snow a contrasting happy.  It pulls me both ways, into happiness and annoyance all at once.

My daughter looks so cute, all ready for spring.  She is happy and sweet and so full of energy.  And it is the energy that I struggle with.

Her quiet time was unsuccessful with coming in to check on me three times and an episode of spitting in our bed.  The time out, the no TV, does not seem to help.  And feels like a punishment for me while she climbs over the chairs, onto the table, and can not settle down.

She sticks her face in front of mine, excitedly asking "Can we go out in the snow?" and I feel myself, the annoyance rising as she asks again and again and again right in my face.  And then... I laugh.

The laughter spills out, surprising me.  And just like that, the spell is broken.

Her big blue eyes, her wide bright smile, are inches from mine and we are laughing together.

I am happy, and so grateful, because truly that could have gone either way, leaving us both crying or both laughing.

I am glad we are laughing.


Linking up with Just Write

Feb 26, 2012

Project 365 Week 8 - Grandparents, Trains, and a New Project

We were at my in-laws this weekend so the girls could get some quality time with their Grammy and Grampy (and I was fortunate enough to squeeze in a haircut).  I just love when Adam has an extra day off work so our weekend is stretched out a little longer.

And the girls are loving the train set Paige got for Christmas.  They had it out every day this week.

On another note, we have been discussing redoing our upstairs.  Which Adam inadvertently started today.  So I'll leave you with a lovely view of our work in progress.

More to come on this, I'm sure.

Feb 25, 2012

A Happy Heart

We are on the couch together, tucked under the blanket.  The quiet of the afternoon settles around us.  She smiles at me, pressing her fingers into my cheeks and asks,

You're happy, Mommy?

For a split second my heart breaks at the idea that she might ask me because she thinks I am unhappy most times.

Yes, Hopey.  I am happy.  Are you?

I'm happy too.

You know what I'm happiest about?  You, Paige, and Daddy.

And yourself.  She points to me.  And I am reminded that I have two little ones who need a positive example of a healthy self-esteem.

And myself, too.

I'm happiest about everybody!  She stretches her arms wide.  The whole world.

I squeeze her near me, my heart warming at her words.  I am filled with my love and her joy.

This is my happy.

Feb 22, 2012

How to Remove Pen from a Child's Coat

Step 1:  Let four-year-old use a pen unsupervised.

Step 2:  Notice pen scribbled all over the back of four-year-old's coat and have no idea how long it's been there.

Step 3:  Wait a few weeks.

Step 4:  Finally decide to try to remove the pen.

Step 5:  Spray with Shout. Scrub with toothbrush.

Step 6:  Pour on laundry detergent. Scrub with toothbrush.

Step 7:  Let sit for unknown amount of time.

Step 8:  Wash coat in washing machine.

Step 9:  Hope for the best.

Step 10:  Remove coat and rejoice.  Pen is gone!

Step 11:  Do not allow four-year-old to use pen again.  Until you do.

Step 12:  Repeat all steps.


Linking up with Parenting by Dummies for Wordful Wednesday.

Feb 20, 2012

Will Travel for Good Cut

This past weekend we visited my in-laws.  It was, as it always is, a wonderful weekend and they graciously let us -- most notably their two granddaughters -- take over their home.

Once we officially decided what weekend we were going to be there, I called the local salon for a haircut.

My mother-in-law laughs at me that I (from the Big City) go to small-town Minnesota to get my haircut.  It is rather silly, because there are many more options of places and people to do the job here.

I've gone to the salon by my in-laws probably a total of three times, but each cut has left me satisfied, happy even, with the results.  And the price?  Unbeatable.

I've paid as little as $30 to as much as $60 in the Cities.  Some of which have resulted in duds of haircuts.

A place where I've liked my haircuts consistently and the cost is $15?  Really, I can't go wrong.

I'll forgo the big city and travel to get my haircut every time if I have to.

Because it is totally worth it.  And so am I.

Feb 18, 2012

Project 365 Week 7

The week started out a bit rough as we got over being sick and my fatigue caught up with me.  But I happily reflected on the reasons I fell in love with my husband and I regrouped midweek to turn my funk around.  Here is our week in photos.

When I'm not drinking coffee,
I'm enjoying one of these.

Finger nails painted for Valentine's Day.

Admiring the fish at school.

Quiet time in Mommy and Daddy's bed.

Peeking out of the couch fort.

Our new (and fresh) dining table center piece.
Playing on the iPhone
with cousin A.

Feb 15, 2012

Some Happy Moments

Today I am taking inspiration from Katie, over at Practical Parenting, and her Project Happy.  I am finding the little moments of happiness in my life this week.  (Yes, even though the week is not over.  I don't think a midweek check-in is a bad thing.)

Lest you think think I am having a breakdown (you know, given a couple of my previous posts -- see here and here), I assure you that even with the hard there are moments of pleasure and joy.

Here are some of our happy moments already this week:

Baking bars with both Hope and Paige.  When I walked in the door from getting a few needed ingredients and told them they both could help me, there was cheering and giggling.  They were filled with so much excitement it was contagious.  The moment was a happy one with measuring, pouring, and just enjoying each other and the memory we were making.

Snuggling on the couch with Hope.  It is not unusual for Hope to want to snuggle, but this felt like such a special moment.  After her quiet time was over (but while Paige was still sleeping) she climbed onto the couch with me and we just lay together.  It felt almost like having a newborn on my chest, although obviously her four-year-old body was nestled next to me, in my arm, with only her head on my chest.  We were quiet and closed our eyes, and when I opened mine her head was tilted up and she was peeking at me.  Definitely happy.

Paige's silly dancing.  Last night after dinner, Adam and I were reassured that Paige is feeling back to her normal self.  She started throwing her hand over her eyes and nose and laughing.  We all were laughing with her when it turned into hand over eyes, jumping repeatedly, and huge belly laughs.  The four of us were laughing so hard there were tears in our eyes.  Another happy moment enjoyed by our entire family.

So the rest of this week, my goal is seek out at least one thing per day that makes me happy.  Whether that be a quiet moment with only a good book, a joyful moment shared with the girls, or a tasty moment with a good cup of coffee or maybe one of our homemade bars.

I encourage you to do the same.  Find and enjoy a Happy Moment too.

Taking a break from helping bake to lick pb off fingers.

Feb 14, 2012

Looking to Tomorrow

My phone rings, I see it is my sister, but I don't answer.  (Sorry, sistah.)  I want to talk with her.  It's been awhile, but I am so tired.

We spend our weeks filled with gymnastics, preschool, appointments, errands, and play dates.  I want to slow down, but not the good kind of slowing down of enjoying each moment and spending more time playing together at home, but the bad kind of slowing down where I want to curl up at home and avoid people.

The busy schedule keeps me going.  And when I am out, I am smiling and feeling happy.  I want to chat with people and make connections.  But as soon as I am in the comfort of home, all that energy I used to be present on the go vanishes.  And I am tired.  Oh-so tired.

I am avoiding phone calls, delaying replying to emails, scheduling fewer play dates.  I have not been a very good friend.  I have not been myself.

As the girls recover from being sick and I am not up in the night with them, I do notice a difference.  I am still exhausted, desperate for an ounce of energy, but I am also finding bits of it here and there.  The television has been on for smaller amounts of time.  The girls and I had a dance party in the kitchen before dinner.  My nap yesterday was under an hour.  I made some pb chocolate bars with two little helpers.

At night I try to praise myself for the good of the day, let go of everything else, and look forward to tomorrow.

And I will continue to do so, whether the day is hard, easy, or somewhere in between.


Feb 13, 2012

I Fell in Love

In honor of Valentine's Day tomorrow:

10 Reasons I Fell in Love with My Husband (before he was my husband)

1.  He was a sweet and quiet guy.

2.  He was a fun and silly uncle to his niece and nephew.

3.  He wanted to make me happy.

4.  We had similar political, social, and spiritual views.

5.  He kissed away my tears.

6.  He supported me and wanted the best for me.

7.  He really listened to me.

8.  He made me smile and laugh.

9.  We had similar dreams and wishes for our futures.

10.  The way he looked at me.


Feb 12, 2012

Crawling Out of A Lot

I haven't blogged much lately.  (Obviously.)  I have not fallen off the face of the earth.  And do not worry, I don't have a flashing DANGER sign above my head with a count down to self-destruct.  But I have not felt like blogging.  I have not felt like much, as a matter of fact.  I am tired.  And it's felt like a lot.

We have been dealing with...

...coughing, coughing fits, and interrupted sleep.

...doctor's appointments, bronchitis, double ear infections, and interrupted sleep.

...frustration, yelling, tears, from Hope, Paige, and (mostly) me, and interrupted sleep.

...dishes piling up, laundry piling up, dust bunnies piling up, negative self talk piling up, and interrupted sleep.

I know that I have so much to not complain about.  I have so much to feel grateful for, to be happy for.  But the gratefulness, the happiness have felt hard lately.  Which is then, of course, accompanied by a side of guilt.

I am doing the best that I can, I know, but it's hard to take any comfort in that when this "best" is not enough to keep my family happy -- let alone me.

I shudder to think what this winter would be like if we had the typical Minnesota winter of accumulated snow, single digit temperatures, and negative wind chills.

It will get better.  This I know.  Whether it is the winter, the interrupted sleep, my mental health, or something unknown that is contributing to my funk, it will get better.  It already has started to within the past several days.  But it's hard work.  And it's so much easier to let go and lose myself in the fatigue.

Luckily, I have supportive friends and wonderful family and that helps tremendously.  But if you happen to have an extra cup of coffee, a housekeeper, or a personal chef you could send my way, that couldn't hurt too.

Feb 8, 2012

Happy All Around with Pink

We put up new curtains in the girls' room this past weekend.  (And by "we" I mean Adam put them up while Hope, Paige and I supervised.  Which, by the way, was a good thing we did because Adam put the curtains on upside down.)

I have wanted room-darkening curtains since I was pregnant with Paige.  Or since she was three or six or nine months.  Or maybe it's just been since she turned one.  Whenever it was, it's been a long time.

And now, they're up.  I am happy because now the morning light will be limited and (cross my fingers) result in later mornings, the daytime light will allow for easier naps, and the evening darkness will (hopefully) contribute to an earlier and easier bedtime this summer.  And Adam is happy because I am no longer bugging him about it.  And the girls are happy because they like anything new, plus it's something new for them, plus the curtains are pink.  A triple joy.

Seeing how thrilled this small thing makes the girls, makes me even more happy with our redecorating.  And it makes me excited to do even bigger redecorating. (Which might not happen for awhile, but I'll start dreaming.)

Feb 5, 2012

A Step Back

So, you know how a couple weeks ago I mentioned how big my little girl is getting?

Um, I might have spoken too soon.

Don't misunderstand me, she is still acting more mature and is better able to express her emotions.  I am still very proud of her.

It's some of her behaviors that I'm not really understanding.

Like, how she chews on or puts toys in her mouth.  We have not been concerned with Hope putting little things in her mouth for a long time, but within the past several months she has been putting everything in her mouth.  Littlest Pet Shops, bouncy balls, pieces of construction paper, the television remote, I find them all in her mouth.  (I don't have to tell you how crazy that makes me, right?)

And, how she colors on non-paper items.  Today I found pen scribbled onto the back of her coat.  Okay, so maybe that is a sign she can not be trusted with a pen (my fault), but she is also known to color on her hands, arms, and even face with markers.  We're taking a break from anything but crayons right now.

Also, how she makes messes that she knows are not okay.  The other day I went into the bathroom and she had pulled all the toilet paper off the roll and was tearing it up into little pieces.  Just today, she purposely smeared frosting all over her face and then onto the kitchen chair.

These are not typical of her as a three-year-old so I do not understand where all this is coming from as a four-year-old.

I only hope that we are suffering a minor regression before progressing back into the wonderfulness that is four.

It will get better.  It has to get better.  Right?

Feb 4, 2012

Project 365 Week 5 - Bonus Edition

Hooray!  Today you are getting a bonus edition, which means - you lucky person you - you get a bonus... (drum roll)


I know, I know, you can hardly contain your excitement.  No thanks necessary, although if you do want to show your appreciation I accept chocolate, coffee, and ice cream.  Or chocolate swirled, coffee flavored, ice cream.  And cash.

Ahem.  Anyway, you are such fortunate individuals because I used Picnik to make my collage and they do not offer a seven frame collage, thus, the bonus eighth picture.

I mean, I did it just because I know you were so wishing for more pictures.  Yes, that's it.

So here is our week, in a nutshell.  Or rather, in a collage.

As you can see, we laughed, we played, we played we laughed, we watched TV, made funny faces...  Oh, and it was foggy.

But you will be happy to hear that there was a teeny, tiny, minuscule increase in the amount of sleeping this week.  (I know you were wondering.)

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go check the freezer.  I'm suddenly craving some Ben & Jerry's.