Wednesday, July 30, 2008


We are home again. We enjoyed our time with our neices. I learned something about parenting, and E learned a lot about being a kid. Perhaps it has something to do with her age, but she seems to have blossomed over the last few days.

A week ago, she learned to scream. REAL GOOD screams. Like, little girl screams. That "advancement" I know I can attribute entirely to my youngest neice (the older ones also helped her learn, I'm sure). When we got to my nieces' house, I could distinguish between the youngest and mine by the type of cry. By the time we left, they were identical in pitch and volume.

She has also learned to speak much better. Perhaps it's just coincidence, timing, that this is the stage at which she picks up a lot verbally anyway. Or perhaps it has something to do with her strong desire to play with her cousins, and her observation that getting this "tounge-vocal chord-breath-lips" dance down was essential to that play. Either way, we have been impressed with what we have heard out of her mouth over the last few days.

"It's time for your nap, E. Goodnight." (as we put her in her crib)
"Idonwanto!" (I don't want to) -- She said this as she shook her head in protest.

This morning:
"Where are your shoes, E?"
"Idonnow!" (I don't know) -- as she starts to look around for them, perplexed.

After lunch:
"Your hands are dirty, we should clean them!"
"Dey dit-ty." (They're dirty) -- She said this as she held out her hands for me to clean them, a first, as normally she hates having her hands and face washed after the meal. Then again, they were REALLY full of jam.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Miracle on 4th St 

Yes, that’s right, dear bro. This is a picture of your two youngest, chomping away at a bag of broccoli as if it were a bag of chips.

Tonight "Thing 2" began dinner announcing to us, among other things, that she did NOT like broccoli.

So, how did the miraculous change pictured above come to pass? I’m not quite sure. Short answer: Steve.

At dinner, knowing Steve’s philosophy on food, I told Thing 2 that she had to TRY at least ONE PIECE (it could be small) of the broccoli. I then told her that, even though I didn’t like broccoli either (the truth), I DID think it was tasty raw and dipped it in ranch dressing (also the truth). She assured me that she’d already tried it that way, and that she DIDN’T like it. So, after she swallowed the smallest allowable piece of broccoli, (she said she pretended it was chicken, and that helped) she moved on to her hot dog and we moved on, period. No more discussion, except that Thing 3 told us how much SHE really liked broccoli dipped in ranch dressing. YEAH! Some good was done here tonight.

Then bath time hit. As I bathed the two youngest, the oldest munched on a huge muffin she had won at the library earlier that day. Thing 2 approached Uncle S and said, "I’m hungry, I need a snack." Uncle S, not noticing Thing 1's muffin, thought that this was a ridiculous statement, especially given that they had JUST eatten. He conferred with me, and we settled on broccoli as an appropriate snack. She declined it. He figured out then that it was Thing 1’s delicious prize (now almost gone) that Thing 2 was after. Her attempts to win food by expressing her deep need of it and how she wouldn’t last until morning without a snack, and she knew 'cuz she never did, and how she always, always got a snack before bed when mom and dad were around... didn’t work. You don’t try emotional manipulation on a cold-hearted economist, even if he is your loving uncle. Case closed, we were going to put our niece to bed "STARVING."

Thing 3 & E got out of the bath, Thing 1 got in. Thing 3 asked for a snack. Since we’d set the precedent already, Thing 3 was offered broccoli and ranch dressing. She lunged at the idea, "YEAH!!!" After a few minutes of snacking, Thing 2 came in and started discussing broccoli with Uncle S, explaining how it looked like trees, etc. She started digging through the bag of broccoli to demonstrate. Uncle S warned that she shouldn’t do that, and if she touched the food, she had to eat it. Three minutes later, her hand was back in the bag. "This is your last warning" said weakening Uncle S, "you can’t play with other people’s food."

"Last warning?! You already gave her a warning. 'Thing 2,’ you must eat that piece of broccoli," I responded from the sink.

Thing 2 said that she would, but couldn’t she skip eating the top, because she didn’t really like that part as much as the stem. We said no, but I encouraged her to dunk it in dressing if she wanted to make it tastier. S told her that he liked to try to savor the good in foods he didn’t think he’d like, that that helped him learn to appreciate them.

And then the miracle happened. I’m not sure what EXACTLY transpired over the next few minutes, but next thing I know, Thing 2 and Thing 3 were happily munching away at their veggies, going in for more as soon as their fingers are emptied. Thing 2 was EVEN eating the tops. They continued to much for ten minutes or more. Thing 2 has decided she likes broccoli, but only if in this dressing, and only if prepared in this fashion. (She made sure to make that clear.)

I’ve decided today that parenting is complicated. I've also decided that this is a moment I will store away and cherish. The day a miracle occured on 4th street.

Pictures of recent adventures 

I love my cousin! (Thing 3 and E. Thing 2 is looking for the cat, just in case you were wondering.)

So THAT is where the kitty cat hides!

"hi! hi nyow nyow! Tittie!"

Rowing a boat on the St. Croix
It's like "Where's Waldo?" Play the "Where are the four kids?" game. You should be able to find them all in this picture! Good luck.

A big-kid sized cliff to climb (about 7 feet high).
A toddler-sized mountain to climb. "Here, cousin, do you need your shoes?"
Gee, I think we should name it "Teddy Bear Park."

We love you mom and dad!!! Can't wait to see you again!

How do you get her to know your name? 

After five straight days of watching my 3 year old neice, I thought she'd finally have my name down.

"Hey, Auntie Sarah, look at this" she said this morning.
"My name's not Sarah" I reminded her.
Then I was mean. I didn't tell her my name. I figured she'd probably remember in a few minutes.
Fifteen minutes later, "Hey, hey, you. Look at this. Hey you."
"Do you know my name?"
"No." she sheepishly admitted.
So I told her.

What more do I have to do to get a name around here??

First born vs. third born, does age really matter? 

My first born (1.5 years old) is leading my third-born neice (3 years old) around the basement. She is going so far as to take third-born's hand and drag her everywhere E wants to go.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Sleep = important 

The girls made letters for their parents today. They will be waiting for you (parents) when you get home. I don't know what's inside them, because I was showering during the process.

After getting showered and dressed, I listened to Thing 3's internal dialogue (which is very much NOT internal at her age) as she walked to her bedroom to get dressed. "I'm gonna see mama soon. She's going to HUUUUUG me and KISSSS me, because she loves me! ... 'Oh, there you are!' 'Yeah, I'm here.' 'Did you have fun?' 'Yeah, I did.' 'Did you miss me?' 'Yeah'" Very sweet.

Yesterday's lesson: sleep is important.
Two days ago I mistakenly allowed Thing 1 & 2 to stay up until the VERY last minute that was still considered "bed time." I figured the next day was sleep-in day, after all. I forgot that they weren't likely to sleep in with all the excitement of new people in the house. Ooops. Sure enough, yesterday morning, E (not used to this northern climate and the early sunrise) woke up at 6 am, ready to start the day. Within 20 or 25 minutes, EVERYONE was awake and playing. Thing 2 normally sleeps until 8 or so, so this was a problem. Predictably, melt-down by Thing 2 at 1:30 pm.

Quiet time does wonders. It's like a giant "reset" button. Thing 2 didn't sleep, nor did Thing 1, but after half an hour of "you must be quiet so the little ones can sleep," both were much happier. And Thing 3 and E were positively pleasant after the nap. That said, maybe it was my nap that did the trick. The world looked much more pleasant afterwards.

So, bed time routines started earlier last night. And we hung a quilt over the window in E's room so that the morning sun would not wake her prematurely. It worked, mostly. E slept until just before 7. Thing 1 got up at 6:30 and woke up Thing 2 by accident (Thing 2 says she was already awake) but Thing 3 also slept later, making the day much better.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Organized Chaos 

My mother raised five children under the roof of a small bungalow in my home town.

I now sit in that same bungalow, sold to my brother several years ago, and am learning to appreciate all that my mother did. And I am realizing the truth of the statement I heard years ago, "One is hard, two a transition, three and they out-number you, but four or more? It stops mattering after that."

I am watching my brother's three kids, plus mine, until he returns from "across the pond" in a little under two weeks.

Highlights from the day:
We went to get ice cream at S's favorite StillH2O ice cream joint (Family and Finks, you know which one I'm talking about! :) ) After grabbing several "child size" ice creams (each the equivalent of a quadruple scoop at any other ice cream store), S and the older girls took off walking to a nearby park while E and I brought the car. S may write later about that adventure, and the trail they left on the way.

Six pairs of sticky arms and legs later, we ATTEMPTED to clean up the carnage in a near by rest room, and set the four loose on the park. S's 6 year old cousin showed up, and we got to chat with Uncle R while the little girls and Cousin I ran around the park together. (I admit, I looked at my husband's six year old cousin, and my six year old niece, and played some mental matchmaker.)

You know what was weird? It was easier to babysit those five children in the park than it's EVER been to babysit just E in a park. Do a head-count every minute or so, ask them to watch out for each other, and have them play mostly together, and you can just stand in one place and hold adult conversation while the organized chaos erupts around you.

We came home to baths (before dinner to wash off the rest of the evidence asap), home-made pizza, and then the most chaotic devos I've ever led. The chaotic part was my fault. I told "Thing 1" (oldest kid) that she could show off her newly acquired mandolin skills by starting devos off with "Mary Had a Little Lamb." I know it's not REALLY a "devo" type song, but it's the only one she knows, and I wanted to encourage her new instrument, so I said sure.

Then "Thing 2" wisely pointed out that if "Thing 1" got an instrument, the rest of the girls should, too. Since I was already starting off devos in such an unorthodox manner, I agreed that for the first few songs, every child and adult that wanted could have an instrument. Thing 1 played the mandolin, of course. Thing 2 played the child's drums (and started us out by setting a beat for each song) and Thing 3 played the child's flute. E danced and generally looked (alternatively) extremely pleased and then overwhelmed, and S played his recorder. We ended with a "quiet song" (I took over the mandolin and everyone else just sang) which greatly distressed the exuberant Thing 2, who thought that she should still be playing with me. Then we prayed and sent the youngest off to bed. No Bible lesson tonight, but then again, I think I kind of killed that when I allowed organized chaos to reign.

Now Thing 3 and E are tucked away, and Thing 1 and 2, after being reminded a couple of times that they "had to be quiet so that the little girls could sleep" are quietly playing in the living room at my feet, in their PJs, almost completely ready for the quickly approaching bedtime. Dishes are done, baths are done, and lots of sweet moments have occurred.

Sweet Moments:
1 -- Thing 3 gave Thing 2 her cone after Thing 2 lost her cone on the run from the ice cream shop to the park.

2 -- Things 1, 2, & 3 all greeted E with the biggest, best hugs when they were picked up from daycare mid-afternoon. E, in return, gave them the biggest, sweetest hugs, and even some kisses. You'd think they'd known each other forever.

3 -- Thing 1 made E a book about water, because she knew it was one of E's favorite things. "I was going to make it about dogs, but I just made this one instead."

4 -- At bed time Thing 2 searched the house for Thing 3's favorite blanket (Thing 1 found that she was sitting on it).

5 -- Thing 1 & 2 sat around my computer screen looking at a world map, learning the geography of where their parents were heading. Then they successful SHARED a one-player computer game, no fighting.

6 -- I learned that telling Thing 2 to "get everything you need for a shower" will result in Thing 2 getting undressed, but completely forgetting to grab shampoo, conditioner, wash cloth, soap, or towel. One must list off all those items for her, and then check twice before starting the water, or the shower will just be wet. (Not a "sweet" moment, per say, but very funny. Reminded me of a good Bill Cosby stand-up routine.)

7 -- Thing 3 prayed for her mommy and daddy and safe travel, in barely comprehensible three-year-old mumble. But the sentiment was felt and the prayer was sweet.

So far things are going well. I'm enjoying my job. I think mostly because I have S's help. We'll see how I feel tomorrow, after S goes "to work" for the day.

C & K, this blog is mostly for you. Let me know if you get it!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Things I like about our new home and town 

Our new house has a porch. Daddy ponders life while I run up and down (and up and down) the ramp and stairs on our deck.
Our new house has a grill. Daddy loves the grill.

I love eating food off the grill!!!
Our new house has pretty flowers.

And songs at night. I've been learning to play mom's mandolin. (Freshly out of apartment living, I [mom] feel more comfortable bringing out the instruments for nightly devos.)

We live really near a zoo, so I get to see animals. I got to pet a goat.
They wouldn't let me pet this animal.

I like the zoo. I like my new town. I like that neither mom nor dad ever leave me during the day. Life will be like this always, right? (Sure... until Daddy gets an office.)

Our move here, in pictures 

I started out in a nearly empty apartment, with my friend, "N." We went out to dinner. The next morning, mom and dad packed everything else in our car. But first we had breakfast at Daddy's favorite breakfast joint. Mr. P and Mrs. S came with us.

Then we drove for a long time, and I met my second cousin.

She taught me how to come down stairs "the safe way." Our new house has stairs, so this was good for me to learn.

I spent the next day riding in the back seat, eating lots of snacks and pointing out cars ("beep beep") and animals ("arf arf") as they went by. Mommy showed me REAL big red barns, just like in my favorite book. There are a lot of big red barns in this part of the world.

And then, finally, we got to our NEW STATE!!! The wind blew as we entered, welcoming us to our new home. The weather was perfect! Warm and sunny, but not hot like at our old home.

The next day we got to see our new house for the first time. We still had a lot of work to do. I spent the next week helping. I was a big help. I moved things in and out of boxes, and even did a little sweeping.

Doesn't our house look pretty?

Tuesday, July 01, 2008


Today the movers moved our stuff in.
E spent her morning nap time standing up in her pack-n-play pointing in the general direction of the truck (she couldn't see it through the walls) and saying, "beep-beep!!"
"Yes, Ella, that's a truck. Now it's time to sleep."
"Be-beep-beep!" (pointing with excitement again)
"Yes, It's a big truck. Goodnight."
"Baby!" (Here she'd point to her toy box, recently brought in off the truck, and to her baby doll on top.)
... and on it went. She doesn't yet REALLY know the word for ceiling fan, but that doesn't stop her from pointing to IT as well, and making up new words for it each time, just to show she's excited about its presence.
Needless to say, not much sleeping was done until after the movers had left. She spent much of her awake time after the nap pointing at the truck and saying "beep beep," as well. The movers, as they pulled away, did honk their horn twice for E as a parting gift.

I took her out to our new back yard!!!!! (sorry a little excited over here) to play as the movers moved things in. "Daddy" (S) came out to see the chalk drawing. When he went back in the house, Ella said "bye bye, Daddy" then, looked over at me, sitting on the stoop next to her, and said, "daddy" looking and pointing back to where he had been. Then she turned to me and said, "beby" pointing to my belly and "titer" (sister). She then put her head down on my belly and gave it a big hug. "Baby." I think she's excited for the new addition. This is the first time I've heard her call the baby a "sister," so I warmed. And, just for the record new baby sister, your older sister loved you before she met you. :)

Now, off the internet and back to unpacking things!

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