A New Phase

I feel like we are escaping the challenging phase of having a 3 and 1 year old and are entering a new phase, which, so far, has been quite pleasant!

From the holidays, the start of the New Year and January through March, my children were giving me a run for my money.

As they are now 4 and almost 2, life has just been very fun and entertaining with them! The fact that I have a 4 and 2 year old is just surreal to me. It seems just last week this picture was taken as I held both of my girls, who were both just BABIES, together for the first time:

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The age of four has brought some maturity to Little Bug, which is extremely welcome. Along with maturity has come an independence and not in the becoming-my-own-person kind of way, but in an able-to-do-more-on–her-own kind of way. Things I have done for her for four years now, she is now able to do on her own. Like put on her shoes. Do you know how helpful it is to have one child that can put her own shoes on?!

We don’t have a fenced in yard at this house so we go outside frequently to walk Pup, which means we put on shoes multiple times a day. It’s helpful that Little Bug can do more for herself these days. She cleans up her toys well (that is something I just figured out with her – post on that coming soon), can get her own snacks/drinks sometimes and we are starting to have more adult/child conversations instead of all toddler-talk. Some conversations are deep and others are just down-right hilarious. She has started telling me “I love you, Mommy” without me first saying, “I love you, Little Bug”. She tells me I am the best mommy. Tonight as I was tucking her in bed she said, “Mommy, let me tell you something.” She pulled my ear to her mouth and whispered, “You’re the best Mommy ever!!”. That is all so rewarding to a Mommy!

I’ve also in the past couple of months, noticed that Little Bug and Sweet Pea’s sister relationship is starting to blossom again. There was a phase (during this challenging past 6 months) where they were not meshing as I would hope and I knew it was developmental. Sweet Pea was just too “baby” for Little Bug. But Sweet Pea is growing up now at almost 2 years old. Her language is finally taking off and I know her maturity has brought both girls to a more equal level developmentally. I’ve noticed them playing well together basically since we moved.

People, I am not ashamed to say it: We are leaving the baby phase and it feels great. Smile Don’t get me wrong, I love having babies (um, once they are 6 months old, hehe) but I can see FUN times ahead for my family as we enter the stage of having two preschoolers instead of a preschooler and toddler or toddler and baby. If you are in the toddler/baby phase and feel like you are just treading water trying to stay afloat, seriously, before you know it, they won’t be in the stage they are in now. Children do grow up; babies become toddlers and toddlers become preschoolers and with every age, there are positives and negatives to that stage. If something is driving you insane, hang on, it will change before you know it.

Summer is here and, compared to last summer, it is nice to be able to get out without worrying about getting the baby a morning nap so I don’t have a cranky, overtired baby on my hands! We are spending this summer doing fun activities, having play dates and going on trips and we are having such a wonderful summer!

I know we will have more “hard phases” with the girls. Everyone it seems always says, “Just wait until they are teenagers!”. I guess I have a different viewpoint on all that. Or maybe I am naïve.

I chose to believe this, however: I am working daily, while my children are so moldable, to train them in the ways of the Lord, so that when they are old they will not depart from it.

When I started teaching 4th grade ten years ago this fall (wow- I cannot believe my college graduation was 10 years ago), I received excellent counsel from my friend and mentor, Angele, who told me, “Spend the first 6 weeks of the school year just teaching rituals and routines to your class and the rest of the school year will go SO much smoother.”

She was absolutely correct and every year I spent the first 6 weeks of school teaching my students how I expected them to do certain things (like line up – yes, that has to be taught and even in the 4th grade!!) and how I expected them to behave. Because of my HARD work those first six weeks of school, I wasn’t still dealing with a class at Christmastime that took 15 minutes just to line up to go anywhere.

No, we practiced how to line up multiple times in those first 6 weeks (and beyond whenever needed), which made lining up something we didn’t have to worry about come October. All the kids knew what was expected of them, they knew the consequences if they chose to not line up correctly, and they just lined up when I simply said, “Let’s line up to go to the library.” Within 5 minutes, the whole class was lined up and out the door.

So, what does this have to do with parenting my children? I am doing the HARD work now, when my children are young, to mold and shape their little hearts to desire to please the Lord and live their lives for Him. By the time they are teenagers, it is my hope and prayer that their hearts will belong to the Lord and they will chose to continue to honor the Lord by continuing to obey and honor their parents as they have been taught since birth.

I try to remember this on the difficult days and the challenging phases when I wonder how I will ever survive raising a strong-willed child. Keep on keeping on. That’s how.

My work is hard now, but prayerfully I will reap eternal results of my labor when my daughters are grown.

False Alarm

Wednesday, I was getting lunch together and on the table when, suddenly, the house alarm was blaring!

Both girls were in their seats at the table ready to eat, so I knew a door had not been opened by Little Bug, which has been the cause of the alarm going off in the past many times!

My first reaction was to look out the windows. In the span of about 10 seconds I had looked out the back windows and side windows and since Little Bug’s blinds were still open from her IP, I looked out that window too.

The only area of the house I could not see was the master bedroom. The door was closed (to keep the girls out of there during the day) and I wasn’t about to open it to see what could possibly be in there.

My instinct was telling me: get out of the house!

So I unbuckled Sweet Pea, swung both girls up on my hips (had no idea I could still carry both of them!), grabbed my cell phone and ran out the front door and to my neighbor’s house. Later, I thought, Little Bug totally could have just walked beside me! But, I guess, that is a mother’s instinct – grab your babies and run!

My neighbor had her front door open and saw me approaching, in my pjs, carrying both girls. I was a sight, I am sure.

About the time I reached her front door, my cell rang and it was the alarm company asking if everything was alright.

I explained that to my knowledge no one in my house had set the alarm off on accident. She asked if I wanted police to come check it out. I told her I had run out of the house with my girls and was at the neighbor’s house. And, yes, please send police. There was no way I was going back in with my girls without it being checked first.

Meanwhile I went to my neighbor’s backyard and peeked through the fence to see if anything looked strange at my bedroom windows. All appeared fine, but I wasn’t about to cancel the police.

Police came and all was fine. Turns out, the glass breaks we installed after our neighbors’ houses were broken into a few months back, were too sensitive and apparently picked up a sound from me warming food in the kitchen which made the alarm sound.

I felt a little foolish afterwards but what was I to think when I KNEW myself or one of the girls had NOT set the alarm off?! I had one thing on my mind: getting my girls out of harm’s way.

Since the incident that occurred back in September I found myself playing scenarios around in my head wondering what I would do if someone did actually try to break in to my house.

It is interesting how – in a situation like this one – you just act without really needing a set plan. I assessed the situation in seconds and knowing my bedroom was the only area I couldn’t see and the alarm had sounded for some reason, I knew I had to get the girls and get out now!

I’m thankful it was just a sensitive glass break sensor! And now I am afraid to set the alarm.

And we can also add driving to that list.

Keeping my eye on 2

The first day we were at Rebecca’s we went off to the Children’s Discovery Museum! My girls had SO MUCH FUN!

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These two were not really happy about being “stuck” in their strollers!

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Since Sweet Pea was walking (only her 3rd day of walking!), I let her loose! It was the first time I was in a public place with BOTH of my girls walking around (in opposite directions, of course!). I am not sure how people with more than two kids do something like this without losing someone! (Beth?! Meg?! Smile)

Sweet Pea was loving every minute of this HUGE water table.

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Little Bug got to work on a car. She was confused that everything was “not real”. They had containers so the kids could pour things into the engine area of the car, but Little Bug didn’t like it that nothing was actually coming out of the containers.

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This was cool!! The kids (that’s Rebecca’s Micah with Little Bug) turned the wheels and the bricks would fall down and out.

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Then they gathered the bricks into a little wagon and…

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…wheeled them to put them back in to start the process all over again! And yes, even Sweet Pea got in on the work. She was so adorable toddling around the place like a big girl. She was having the time of her life.

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She found this box of blocks and started transferring them to the cart.

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There was a play grocery store that both girls enjoyed.

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We had never been to something like this before! I will have to check to see if we have one in our city since this was a big hit for both girls!

It is time to find fun things we can do outside of the house for when Sweet Pea drops the morning nap and we suddenly have mornings clear to do fun stuff like this!!

I love watching my girls have fun and this was a wonderful morning with wonderful friends!

Funny story: While there, we ran into a friend of Rebecca’s from college days! They hadn’t seen each other in over 4 years, but the friend reads Rebecca’s blog…and because of that, she has read my blog, too! She said, “Aww, there is Sweet Pea!” And then Little Bug walked up and she said, “And there is Little Bug!”. It was funny to hear someone call my girls “Sweet Pea” and “Little Bug”!

Ribbit.

It may look like fall inside our house, but the weather is still very much like summer.

So last Friday the girls and I headed to the backyard for some fun after lunch!

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Sweet Pea has discovered the water table now that she pulls up on everything. She loves it! Look at those little tippie-toes!

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Little Bug was busy putting “snow” on her legs.

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She asked me if I would bring the snow outside. It took me a while to figure out what she was talking about, but I realized she was remembering “S Week” when we played with “snow” (shaving cream)!

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Sweet Pea thought about joining the fun but decided watching was just fine with her.

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Little Bug found a frog. She loves frogs. She got a leaf and was trying to touch it with the leaf.

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She wanted to touch it with her hand so.bad. She asked me, “Do frogs bite?”. I told her that one wouldn’t bite her and to be brave and go ahead and touch it!

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Next thing I knew, there was a little girl with a tiny frog in her hand standing right in front of my face.

“Look, Mommy!!!!”

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She was asking me, “Do you want to hold him, Mommy?”

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Little Bug and her “new best friend” (that is what she called the frog) made their way to the water table.

NewBestFriend got to go for a swim and then jumped into this part of the water table for safety.

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As all good friends do, Little Bug was soon on a Rescue Mission to save NewBestFriend.

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She got him and then I had to convince her that NewBestFriend would be MUCH happier taking his nap outside in our backyard instead of with her in her bed.

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Oh, I can’t explain adequately how much I love moments like these with my girls. There is nothing better than spending time with my girls, watching them interact and explore the world around them.

We just have to make it past age 3

My Little Bug.

It is hard to adequately describe this girl in words.

At almost 3 years old, I still cannot take my eyes off her or she gets herself into trouble.

I can remember my life as “stay at home mom” dramatically changed once Little Bug started walking. I did not want to completely baby-proof my house because I wanted her to learn about boundaries and limits.

So, we did the necessary baby-proofing to make the house “safe” and then she had four “no-no’s”: the centerpiece on the coffee table, the picture frames on the end tables, the TV and the blinds. All of those things were off limits and she was not allowed to touch them.

And so began my days of training and disciplining my child.

I can remember days where it felt like ALL I did was train her to not touch her no-no’s! I was very consistent and by 18 months or so, she pretty much left those no-no’s alone. She would go through phases where I wondered if my training was doing any good for her and then she would go through phases where she would not test her boundaries at all.

As we are nearing age 3, which I have heard MANY mothers claim is a very hard age, I find myself completely exhausted at the end of the day from training and disciplining Little Bug.

We’ve reached a new level in the past two weeks or so.

Let me give you an example: This morning, I went to lay Sweet Pea down for her nap. Pup was outside and I told Little Bug to not let her in until I got back because I needed to wash her paws before she walked on the new carpet. I asked her if she understood and she said she did.

I am in the middle of changing Sweet Pea’s diaper when I hear the back door open.

I could hardly believe it because this was open defiance! I had just told her to wait until I got back to let Pup in and moments later, she completely disobeys and lets Pup in?!? Really?

Oh, my blood was boiling at this point. I have noticed lately that I allow my frustration to show to Little Bug and that is totally NOT good. I know I need to remain emotionless when discipline her, but oh my goodness, this girl is a tough one.

I walked into the living and asked Little Bug what she did and she told me.

I calmly (by the grace of God) walked over to her, took her hand and we started walking towards my bedroom where the pack n play is. Little Bug asked, “Where are you taking me?”. I told her and then pick her up and put her in the pack n play, turned around and walked out of the bedroom, closing the door behind me.

I needed time to cool my boiling blood and to pray. Little Bug, of course, immediately starts crying because she knows she has disobeyed and she knows the consequence isn’t going to be fun.

I went to the laundry room and decided to get a head start on the vacuuming I had planned to do that day. I vacuumed the living room while praying that God would give me what I need to discipline my child in love so that I can mold her heart to the ways of God.

Less than 10 minutes later, I was ready to go talk to Little Bug.

I got her out of the pack n play and put her on my bed and began talking to her about what she had done.

Little Bug seems to have an attitude of pride when she does wrong, so I told her she can choose the bad choice if she wants, but it is Mommy’s responsibility to give her the consequence of that choice – and the consequence isn’t going to be good.

We talked about the verse in the Bible that says “Children are to obey their parents in the Lord for this right.” She could recite the entire verse to me.

We finished talking and I carried out her consequence.

Later that same day, I was siting in the living room talking to Rebecca, who had just come into town, when I hear pen marks on the furniture.

I immediately said, “Little Bug, where are you?”

Out from behind the chair she comes. I go behind the chair to see the multitude of pen marks with the pen laying on the floor.

My frustration showed on that one because…seriously?? She knows we do not write on furniture!!!! What is she thinking??? And why in the world is she proud of this?

Rebecca told me something days before this incident that I know will forever stick with me as long as I am raising children.

She told me she reminds herself her children are “just sinners who need Jesus” and it is her job to help mold and train them in the ways of the Lord.

When she said that, it totally changed my perspective, because that is so true.

We are all born sinners. We don’t choose to do the right thing naturally. It is in our nature to do the wrong thing, to sin.

Little Bug is a sinner, just like her mama and all of creation.

This girl is going to make me gray in the next decade. Smile She is strong-willed. That is for sure. The things she already comes up with at the age of 2 are astounding. I am going to have to always be on my game with this one.

I want nothing more than to see this girl grow up and put all this energy or whatever you want to call it into something that will glorify God.

The responsibility I feel for helping her achieve this is overwhelming sometimes!

Parenting is not for the weary or faint of heart. I will put my all into molding her heart. I know God is going to use this girl for His glory.

We just have to make it past age 3!

Splash Park

I made a last minute trip the zoo Splash Park with the girls one day last week!

It was so much fun that I think we will have to start going more often, especially with summer right around the corner.

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When we arrived, we were the only ones there and Little Bug wasn’t too excited to be there. I knew if a little girl would just enter the Splash Park, Little Bug would make friends and she would go play in the water.

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Sure enough, the little girl you see in the red bathing suit came in and Little Bug walked up to her and instantly made a friend. They were inseparable the entire time! (I could NOT get a picture of the two of them without that kid getting in my way!! Every picture I took had that kid’s head right in the middle!!)

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After playing in the water we had our picnic lunch! Sweet Pea had fun too. I didn’t want her in the water (since she was still having bad diapers) so she just sat with me happy as could be and watched all the action. This baby is so laid back and just goes with the flow. She drank her bottle while Little Bug played and then had her solids with us at the picnic.

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On our way out of the zoo, we stopped to say hello to the giraffes!

It was such a fun time for us! I love spending my days with these two precious girls!

A Day in the Neighborhood

Now that Sweet Pea is awake more than just an hour, we’ve been going up to the neighborhood park!!

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Sweet Pea had her first time on the park swing!

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She can’t swing for long, but she sure did enjoy the swing on this day! (This was her 2nd time on the swing. Her first time, I didn’t have my camera.)

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I love seeing my sister girls swinging together at the park!

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The whole time I had Little Bug in the “baby swing” she was informing me that she is a big girl and she wants to swing on the “big swing”. So I snapped the picture and then Little Bug went to her “big girl swing”.

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We moved onto the see-saw (or up-down as Little Bug has called it since she started talking!).

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To avoid too much stimulation, Sweet Pea spent the rest of the time at the park in the stroller.

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I love spending my days with my girls!

Going from 1 to 2

I was very apprehensive about parenting a 2-year-old and newborn. I remember telling myself if I could just make it through the first six months, I would be home free! Today is February 1st and I can hardly believe that my little Sweet Pea turns six months old tomorrow!

They say going from 1 to 2 kids is quite challenging. Having two kids two years apart has been very tricky at times but over the past 6 months, I’ve come up with a Top 10 List of things that have made life less hectic for me along the way. Thought I would share them here…

1. Have a playpen with toys/books set up for the older child to play in. Ours is set up in our bedroom. This is an absolute necessity for me because of the fact that Little Bug is the type of child that even at the age of 2.5 years old I have to keep a constant eye on her and if things go quiet for more than one minute I know she is up to something. So, if I need a few minutes to take care of the baby without having to worry about watching Little Bug, the playpen is a life-saver.

2. Let cleaning your house go. Especially in those first 2-3 months. Once the craziness of the newborn phase is over, you can slowly work back to keeping up with cleaning. Before Sweet Pea, I would spend about 30 minutes a day on cleaning. That way I didn’t have it all pile up on me and it was easy to tackle one task a day for half an hour. I let all that go when Sweet Pea was born. Weeks would go by without cleaning. If you are a neat-freak like me, you just have to learn that it is okay for the bathroom to be dirty and for dust to be on the furniture. I’ve just recently gotten back into my 30 minutes/day of cleaning to stay on top of things, most weeks. There is more to life than a clean house so…let it go!! My house won’t ever be as clean as it was before kids because 1) kids make messes and 2) it is more important to spend time with my girls than to have a model home!

3. Learn to laugh at the chaos instead of cry. Those first 8-12ish weeks were super crazy for me! Many moments I just had to stop and choose to laugh…or else it was cry and laughing is way more fun and relaxing! I would also think in those moments, “My girls won’t be this little for long. Before I know it they are going to be all grown up and I will miss these crazy baby days!” It is called being content with life how it is at that very moment. It goes a long way for relieving stress in those crazy moments (which will be VERY frequent during the first 2-3 months!).

4. Stay home more. This may not work for everyone, but for me, it does. Sometimes, it is just easier to stay at home and not go anywhere because going somewhere involves packing everyone up (bottles, diapers, paci, burp clothes, wipes, etc.) and having to manage everyone’s needs while out and about. Just not worth it much to me when you have two small children! That being said…I am not a hermit by any means now. Miss Social Butterfly would not have that! We do get out of the house! However, those random trips to PetSmart to have an “inside zoo” experience when it is 90 degrees outside don’t happen in the stage of life we are in now! It is just not worth the effort. It is much easier to just put them in the stroller and go for a walk around the block between Sweet Pea’s feeds! Once again, though, those impromptu PetSmart trips will come back…one day. And pretty soon, it is going to be easier and worth it again to pack everyone up and head out for an adventure beyond our home/neighborhood. (Side Note: Another huge reason for our staying home so much has been because of Sweet Pea’s overstimulation issues. It is easier to control her environment in my own house and keep her from getting overstimulated than it is for me to control her environment outside of our house. Hopefully, these overstimulation days are coming to an end soon though.)

5. When we do go somewhere and I am leaving without the help of my husband because he is at work, I always pack the car before putting the girls in the car. Usually, we are leaving after naptime so while both are tucked away in their cribs, I put diaper bags and anything else that needs to go with us in the car. If we are leaving after Little Bug does IP then I pack the car while Little Bug is playing in her room and Sweet Pea is sleeping. Then, when it is time to go, all I have to do is snap Little Bug’s car seat into the base and buckle Little Bug in and we are good to go!

6. Put both children on a schedule. Again, this may not work for everyone, but for me, I couldn’t imagine NOT having my girls on a schedule! Babywise is a lifesaver for my family. Babywise makes the smooth days that run like clockwork the norm and the crazy, chaotic days something that happens every once in a while when someone is having an ‘off’ day. Babywise makes life simpler because I know when the baby needs to eat and sleep – there are no guessing games. I have found in my babysitting/nanny/parenting experience that children thrive off routine and scheduling and I have seen this be true in the lives of both of my daughters.

7. Take time for yourself. I think so many times mothers feel guilty if they even want time away from their children! Find a time for you to do something apart from your children. For me, it is Saturday mornings. Dave gets up with the girls and lets me sleep in. It is good for children to have that one-on-one time with their Daddy. Little Bug loves Saturday mornings with her Daddy. He makes her a special French toast breakfast and they play together until it is time to come wake me up.

8. Get yourself ready to leave the house before the kids wake up. This is SUCH a time saver! After Sweet Pea’s birth I was late to everything. And I do mean everything. Late. I hate being late. If I am planning to leave the house with the girls in the early morning (before Little Bug has her IP time) I have found the easiest way to ensure we leave on time is for me to set my alarm half an hour or so before the girls are up and get myself ready during that time. When they wake up, I am ahead of the game and it is so much easier to feed and dress two little girls when I am already ready to walk out the door!

9. Plan ahead. Organization goes a LONG way when you have two small kids. If we are leaving to go somewhere I pack diaper bags, gets sippies and bottles prepared, lay out clothes, etc., the night before. I also have an “emergency diaper bag” in my car that has essentials for both girls should I forget to put something in their normal diaper bag/backpack. All that being said, there are still times where I forget things and am kicking myself! Just recently we packed everything and everyone up to go somewhere and we got there and realized Sweet Pea’s formula was still sitting in our refrigerator at home! Talk about frustrating!! Dave went back to get it and instead of being totally mad at myself I allowed myself to be human and forget something and went on with the day. Smile Planning ahead and being organized does certainly eliminate most of those incidences though!

10. Right after Sweet Pea’s birth I had two baskets full of supplies for her. One was in our living room and the other was in our bedroom. I did this mainly for convenience-sake. Instead of having to go to her bedroom for every diaper change and every time she needed a new bib (which was very frequent!), I had diapers, bibs, burp clothes, wipes and onesies right there for me to use. Once I set up those baskets I felt more organized at home with things!

Ok, I know that is 10, but I just thought of another hugely helpful tip: Operate 15 minutes ahead of normal time. If we have to leave the house by 10am, I tell myself we have to leave by 9:45am. That extra 15 minutes allows for the poopy diaper I have to change right as we are ready to leave the house or to run back in the house to grab something I forgot. Once I get in the car and we are finally ready to go after taking care of all the unexpected things that you can just expect WILL happen with two small kiddos, I look at the clock and we are pulling out right on time…thanks to those extra 15 minutes!!

That’s my top 10 11.

Also, remember…time. There is certainly an adjustment period as bringing another child into the family changes everything. But, with time, things level out and life just falls into a new normal.

We are definitely there now and it feels great!!

Do You See What I See?

These were my laundry baskets last Friday!!!

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Completely empty!

Haven’t seen that in a long time!

Sweet Pea (bless her little heart) totally wiped out my laundry routine of doing all our laundry in one day (typically Friday or another day that we are home all day).

A few weeks ago I wrote about my laundry woes here.

I think I am beginning to concur my laundry woes.

How?

Well, by doing lots of little loads throughout the week. I can keep up with little loads.

It is the high mountains of a week’s worth of laundry that I just can’t keep up with anymore. But, if I do little loads here and there I can find the time to fold it and even put it away and I can start the weekend with empty laundry baskets!

Worked last week, anyway. And this week is going pretty well, too!

I was told it would happen.

Found this in my drafts today…need to post because this baby girl is almost FOUR months old now!

It is mind-boggling that Sweet Pea is already 3 months old.

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When it became clear God really was adding another baby to our family this past summer, I honestly wondered how my heart could love another child like I love my Little Bug.

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I’d heard it would “just happen”.

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And it did.

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I cannot imagine our family without our sweet little Sweet Pea!

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I love my two girls with a love that cannot be put into words.

I love their stories. I love the way God brought them to our family.

I love Little Bug’s spit fire personality and Sweet Pea’s sweet innocent personality.

I love that Sweet Pea smiles at her big sister while her big sister proclaims, “Look Mommy! Sweet Pea is smiling at me!”

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I love being a mother to two girls.