10-21-16 You’re Mean

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You’re mean! He muttered as I took the dirty towel away from him to throw it in the hamper. C had somehow spit toothpaste everywhere and had used the towel to wipe gobs of it off of her arm.

You’re mean!  He repeated as he followed me into the hallway.

You’re mean! My heart sank.

About two months ago Big E started using the phrase You’re mean to me a lot, usually when I am correcting him or telling him something that his four year old brain doesn’t want to hear or process. If I take away a toy the kids are fighting over, he says it. If I ask him to go to the bathroom before getting in the car, he says it. If I tell him that we aren’t watching tv, he says it.

And every single time he gets in trouble. We’ve explained to him that what he is saying is wrong. He’s had numerous time outs. He’s apologized countless times. And yet at least three to four times a week he calls me mean. It’s hurtful and frustrating, but I also know he doesn’t really mean it. It’s his way of expressing his distaste for the circumstances he finds himself in. I am not condoning it, I’m just following his logic.

However tonight it was extra upsetting to me. Not because Big E said it again, but because it wasn’t Big E that said it at all. You’re mean was muttered from Baby E’s lips.

Baby E isn’t even two yet, and up until now his vocabulary has been steadily growing with words like Mommy, Daddy, Wawa (waffle), and LittyLittyLitty (kitty). To hear him say You’re Mean broke my heart. The months of hearing his brother say it had worn off on him. I distracted him to change the subject and then I took Big E aside and spoke with him.  I explained how Baby E had learned that phrase from him and that it was very hurtful, and not something that a baby should ever be saying to his mommy. As I explained I watched Big E’s countenance change as he began to realize that Baby E was copying him. He got genuinely sad that something he said would be repeated by Baby E and cause me to be sad. It’s too early to tell, but I am praying that it was finally the conversation that got through to him and he will start to think before blurting out that phrase at every perceived inconvenience.

Meanwhile we have the task ahead of us of removing that phrase from Baby E’s vocabulary. Unfortunately with so few words, he likes to use the ones he knows in steady rotation. So if you walk by Baby E and he shouts You’re mean please don’t take it personally!

10-20-16 Beyond Measure

After days of intense heat, the wind started picking up this evening. Perpetual night is coming soon. We sat on our stoop and ate pizza in the dark, the breeze tossing our hair and grabbing at our paper plates. It’s nearing the end of October and the bitter cold nights will be soon be upon us. I used to love winter, but that was years ago, back when it conjured up thoughts of snowy evenings and hot chocolate. Those idyllic scenes have long been replaced with treacherous commutes and stomach bugs.

However today, with its bright sun and warmth, begged us to linger outside a little longer when we got home. It was completely dark when we came inside.

Namma, Namma Baby E begged as I laid him down into bed. For the first time, he is starting to be specific about what he wants to read at night. Llama Llama Red Pajama. It was too late to read, but I compromised with him and let him keep it in his bed.

The big kids are camping on the floor again tonight. They showered me in machine gun kisses before I left the room, Big E begging for more light so the shadows wouldn’t scare him. Laundry is running. The cat is pacing the floor for her dinner.

Life is good.

In all of its crazy, hectic, exhausting moments… life is good. The Lord has blessed us beyond measure.

10-19-16 Floor Camping

Can you put our pillows far apart so that we don’t play? C asked as I set up Big E’s makeshift bed.

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The big kids are sleeping on the floor tonight. I’m not exactly sure why except that C and I were cuddling last night on the floor and she asked to stay there when I left. She spent the night there. Tonight she wanted to do it again. And naturally Big E can’t pass on a chance to do something his big sister is doing, so he’s on the floor now too.

What is it about kids and sleeping anywhere but in their beds?

When we were kids, the farmhouse we lived in had pretty good sized closets. The one outside my sister’s door was particularly fun to hide out in and there were a few times that we tried to spend the night in there. But it never really worked out because the floors were hard wood and we probably only lasted about 15 minutes before he headed for greener pastures.

Often during the start of summer, before the window units had been put into the upstairs windows, we would camp out on the living room floor. With a sheet hung across the entrance way and the window unit pumping out frigid air, it was the best room in the house for sleeping.

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10-18-16 Things I’ve Decided Not To Tell My Children

C was eating an apple this evening when she came to a pretty gross little section. It wasn’t big, probably the size of a fingernail, but the section was mushy and dark and for a brief moment I wondered if there was a worm in there. Thankfully I caught myself before saying that out loud because that would have been a sure fire way to guarantee my daughter would never eat apples again. Instead I grabbed a knife and cut out the offending (worm-free) section.

It got me thinking, though, that there is probably quite a list of things I’m not planning on telling my kids at this point. Trust me, life will be easier this way….

1- (As mentioned above) Some apples have worms. I’ve never actually found a worm in a store bought apple, but anything right off a tree and not drowned in pesticides is up for grabs. 

2- Corn on the cob sometimes has worms. I found this out as a small child when we would shuck corn straight from the garden. It was like Russian roulette, but with corncobs and slimy grubs. My children will have to learn this the hard way because for now I *need* them to *want* to shuck corn. 

3- Dogs scare me. I mean, really scare me. At least big dogs do. I really, really don’t want my fear of dogs to be my kids’ fear of dogs. So when I hear the jingle jingle of a dog collar behind me, I have to use all of my willpower to not book it in the opposite direction. ‘Sure, we’d love to pet your dog, kind stranger. Yay, it likes to jump on people. Yippee! Isn’t that dog fun, kids?!?’ 

4- Foods I don’t like. I don’t want my kids’ palette to be influenced by mine. I mean, I know it will be to some extent. For example I will never, ever feed my kids liver and onions (because that’s just gross,) however I do and will feed them things that I’m not particularly fond of, in hopes they won’t be terribly picky eaters. 

5- I’m scared to be home at night without Tim. If Tim works late, I need my kids to feel secure. If there are times that he works overnight, you better believe that I barricade the front door and never fully enter REM state, because I’m the one that has to make sure those kids are safe. But do my kids know that? No, they have no idea. 

6- I don’t particularly enjoy playing house. To their credit, they might have already figured this one out on their own, but I do try to play along when they ask. But I always have to be the  mom, and guess what, I’m the mom in real life so it doesn’t really feel like pretend for me. And even when I get to be the ‘kid’ I still get all the grown up jobs like cooking dinner and changing diapers. 

7- I don’t like hugging them when they are sick. Don’t get me wrong, I do love on them and cuddle them and give them plenty of attention when they are sick, but in the back of my mind I can’t stop thinking we’re all going down. 

I could probably think up more if I wasn’t so tired, so that’s my list for this evening. Are there things that you would add? img_20161018_205600

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10-17-16 I do have this problem…

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Me- C, how’s school. Are there any kids there that don’t like you or give you a hard time?

C- No. No everyone is nice to me.

Me- Oh good.

C- Well, actually, I do have this problem… You see, whenever I am playing with Jenny* and *Molly comes over to talk to me she doesn’t want to talk to Jenny. I get sad that Jenny thinks that I don’t want to talk to her when Molly is talking to me.

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I love that my girl notices when things aren’t fair. I love that she sees when people feel left out and that it bothers her. I love that she stands up for other people and makes friends with the kids that don’t have friends. It’s such a blessing to watch her grow into such a kind, caring, and compassionate person.

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*names changed

10-16-16 Big E stays behind

We made it home this evening near 8pm and my body is begging me for one more day off, but sadly tomorrow is Monday. My legs are sore, no doubt from the hours of walking around yesterday.

This afternoon, before leaving, we took the kids on a walk on the trail near Naona’s house, and in the end I think we walked about two miles. Big E rode his bike and C rode her scooter.

A few years ago, when Big E was about two, we realized that C had taken several trips over to her grandparents’ house all by herself, but Big E had never done it. Thinking he would enjoy the one on one attention, we sent him over for a visit only to find out that even though he was having some fun, most of the time he just seemed lost and sad. That’s when I really realized how tight his connection with C was. He had never been that long without her and us. He kept walking around looking sad and he really didn’t know what to do with himself. Since that experience, I’ve never pushed for him to do it again, but a few weeks ago he mentioned that he wanted to give it a try. So I made arrangements for him to stay there when we next visited. I half expected him to back  out of it when it came time for us to leave, but while he seemed sad that we were leaving, he was determined to stay behind. He said he loved us and would miss us, but he couldn’t wait to spend time with Naona, GP, and Aunt Julie without us there. So that’s where he is now. And yes, I have already called multiple times to check on him. He is doing fine. But I really do miss him.

During the entire ride home, Baby E kept asking for him. About every ten minutes I would hear him pipe up from his seat and say, “Big E??” I’d remind him that he wasn’t with us but a few minutes later he would ask again. He even asked for him as we laid him down to sleep tonight. Poor guy is going to miss his big brother!

I’m so happy that we made the trip out to my parents’ house this weekend. I hate that they live so far away, but I am also very grateful that it isn’t further! My parents are amazingly generous and kind people and really do love spending time with them. It’s going to be a long wait until Thanksgiving.

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The mystery tunnel on the trail. Going to have to explore that another time.

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This girl loves to use her scooter.

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This was the highlight of my day. Those kids did great on the trail and had so much fun.

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He wanted to show me his helmet hair. 

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Missing my handsome prince. Sleep well little man. 

10-15-16 Animal Park

Today we surprised the kids by taking them to the Leesburg Animal Park Pumpkin Village. On the car ride to the park they kept begging to know where they were going and were so happy when we pulled into the parking lot. We started with visiting all the animals. We saw lemurs, rabbits, porcupines, llamas, donkeys, and quite a few more animals. Baby E was positively obsessed with the llama and really liked the alpaca, until I sat him next to it! He pet a sheep and squealed in delight. He also tracked down a chicken and pet that too. The big kids liked the sheep and the porcupine. They pet a goat and an alpaca.

After the animals, it was time to enjoy the Pumpkin Village. The kids had a blast going from activity to activity. Big E especially liked the large swing, the zip line, and the pedal carts. C loved the hayride and the bouncy houses. Baby E loved the mini train ride. He rode twice and I had to remove him kicking and screaming so that other people could get on.

Like I said, Big E loved the pedal carts, and literally spent about 15 minutes riding them. He did a great job weaving in and out of the other carts and navigating the turns as quickly as he could.

They also did an obstacle course, more slides, a hay maze, and more. They played hard for over four hours, and Baby E kept up with the big kids the entire time. We had a picnic lunch, and on the way out we got some complimentary apple cider, an apple, and a small pumpkin. The kids had so much fun today and I know we spent the day building some amazing memories. I loved hearing all their laughter and seeing so many smiles!

I apologize now for the massive photo dump! Enjoy!

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10-13-16 We have to do better…

During lunch today, I decided to look at some Halloween costumes online. Big E had mentioned that he wanted to be a firefighter, so I wanted to price them out. So, I did the perfectly reasonable thing of googling ‘child fireman costume,’ and as expected, I was taken to a store with multiple fireman outfits. I perused them, and then out of curiosity, I thought, If Big E is a fireman, maybe C would like to be a police officer. So I searched for police officer outfits.

And that’s when I found my soapbox.

Let me start with… there are some fine options if your boys want to be a police man. The outfits are a nice dark blue, and they come with some accessories, like handcuffs and a baton. The boys looking back at you appear polite and respectable.

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But what if your daughter wants to be a police officer? What is her option?

A short skirt, knee high shiny boots, and sunglasses to replace the baton. Oh and don’t forget the sassy stare into the camera. That’s right, folks… your daughter doesn’t actually get to dress like a police officer, she gets to dress as a second-rate stripper version of a police officer. Instead of a baton to protect herself and others, she gets a pair of sunglasses and a come hither look in her eye.

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Moving on, I noticed that under the category of “Occupation and Military” there are 26 costumes for boys. What about my daughter? She can choose from 12. TWELVE. And while the boys get to be Special Ops commanders or physicists, the girls can be equestrians and Hollywood actresses. Out of the 12, I would say that 5 were respectable.

Oh, but when my daughter finally becomes  a tween, surely her options will get better. No, they won’t. However, the skirts will get shorter. And when she enters adulthood, her choices will consist of skin tight clothing, with more skin than cloth.

I mean, look at the blatant difference between mens’ and women’ costumes!

We have to do better, people!!!

We have to stop dressing six year old girls like they walk the streets after bedtime. We need to stop feeding into the pedophile culture that says this is ok. We need to teach our girls that beauty is vanity and kindness is valuable. The culture isn’t going to do it for us. The women’s movement did many, many amazing things, but there was one lie it fed to women everywhere- that flaunting sexuality gave women power. Let’s be honest… it does the opposite. It feeds into abuse and domination. How does posing nude in a magazine or movie liberate you when it makes you a slave to every man that salivates over you? It says that no matter how smart you are, or how hard you try, your worth is still and always will be in your appearance.

I want more for my daughter.

I want her value to be reflected in the way she confronts the world, not flaunting her body in a desperate attempt to seek attention and acceptance, but rather conduct herself with dignity in the freedom of knowing that she has already been accepted and loved. And in that knowledge she can be free to pursue her interests and passions, regardless of what men see.

We have to do better!!

PS- I know you can find modest costumes for little girls, but I just wanted to point out that there is no such thing as an immodest costume for a little boy. 

10-12-16 The Video

I showed the kids a video of C as a baby this morning. In the video she was about six weeks old. I hear my voice on the recording, pleading with her to smile for me and for a brief moment she obliges, followed quickly by a soft cooing sound, but for the most part it is a video of C in her bouncy seat staring past the camera and right at me. Her eyes are big, her cheeks are chubby.

The kids wanted to watch it over and over again, and soon I stopped watching the video and I watched them. C was mesmerized, a genuinely happy smile spread across her face as she watched the baby version of herself. I saw in her eyes what a special moment it was- she was seeing a treasure.

Baby E kept repeating the word Baby, which means he thought the baby was himself. And Big E watched in fascination as his sister cooed. They couldn’t look away.

There are no videos of me as a baby. Video cameras were in their infancy, and it was rare for a family to have one. I think I was in late elementary school before I saw myself on video. When I was in high school, one of my best friends had one and a few of us would get together every weekend and shoot with it.

I remember when C was born, I videotaped almost everything about her. There’s a five minute video somewhere of her sleeping. Just sleeping. Nothing else. The longest, most boring five minutes of footage, but at that moment it was gold.

The thing about video, as it differs from pictures, is that I rarely go back to it. I scan through photos all the time, but I rarely sit down to watch videos. Strange isn’t it, since videos are my profession. Maybe that’s why I set them aside. There’s something about a photo that is so special to me. It captures a single moment in time… an expression… a look… an emotion. There is so much information in just that one moment. Video doesn’t do that. Video tells a story in a very literal way. Photos tell a story with your heart.

Don’t get me wrong, video is great for many things- capturing someone’s voice, their mannerisms, and their stories. And watching the looks on my children’s faces this morning, I am so grateful that I took the time to take those videos when she was just a baby. My only regret is that there are few of Big E and fewer still of Baby E, but what they lack in videos, I think they more than make up for in photos! 😉img_20161012_201155