Archive for the 'children' Category

…nap no more…

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

We are at a crossroads with Laura. No big surprise there. With three children the odds are pretty good that at least one of them is in a transitional phase of some sort. Laura happens to be at the intersection of Nap and None. It is time. She is 4 and is quickly approaching the point of no longer needing a nap. A sad fact for Mom indeed…

Abigail gave up her nap on her own at age 3. I was not happy with that but we made do with mandatory “rest time”. Some days that led to a nap but more often it was just a little quiet time for everyone. Hattie stopped taking a nap out of necessity when she started kindergarten. If she could get away with a nap at school she would totally do it. She is the first one asleep at night and the one most likely to fall asleep on the sofa in the afternoon. She gets that from me. Unfortunately she is also the first one awake. At the crack… of… dawn. She does NOT get that from me. But I digress…

Now we find ourselves at the nap crossroads with Laura. She still needs the rest but is starting to resist. If I am able to get her to take that precious siesta she is fun to be with the remainder of the afternoon but fights going to bed for a  l o n g  time. If she does not take a nap, she is a beast. She is tired, whiny, clingy, cranky, whiny, grumpy, short tempered, whiny, annoying and even more impatient than usual. It is agonizing. But bed time is a breeze. No talking. No requests for water. No procrastinating. No questions. No nothing. Just sweet sleep as soon as her little head hits the pillow. It is a lose – lose situation for the whole family. You can pay now or pay later but whatever your choice, you will pay.

We know that Laura will eventually pick a path and move forward yet again. She will adjust to staying awake all day and learn to avoid the trail of the ogre that appears every afternoon at 4:00. Let’s just hope there is a long stretch of road before the next intersection…Mom and Dad need a nap!

tales from the derm…

Monday, December 20th, 2010

We started the first real day of Christmas break with a trip to the dermatologist this morning. YEA! Abigail has been having a couple of issues and we were due for a follow-up visit. She had some bumps on her knee removed a few weeks ago and today we were facing the removal of one on her chin.

Let me begin by telling you that Abigail does not handle shots well. It started three years ago with a flu shot…the least painful injection in the universe. Out of nowhere, Abigail wedged herself behind the exam table at the pediatrician’s office and tried to throw a chair at the nurse. My skinny little girl has a LOT of strength when someone is coming at her with a needle. I was stymied and mortified all at once. Between me and the nurse we were finally able to get the shot. Abigail’s blood pressure tanked and the nausea began. The nausea was followed by many hours of complaining, wailing, moaning and gnashing of teeth…it was a day-long ordeal.

Since then, we have had several chances to discuss ways to remain calm during doctor visits. Abigail is old enough to understand the importance of vaccinations and the like but that doesn’t mean that she is over her phobia. She has been very lucky with the invention of the flu mist. She has also reached the age where she doesn’t have to get a shot every time she goes for a check up. Nonetheless, we have worked on taking deep breaths and trying to calm her mind so she doesn’t get so worked up.

Today our practice was put to the test because bump removal requires more invasive action than a simple flu mist. To our advantage, our dermatologist also has a 4th grade daughter so she is very in tune with how Abigail thinks. She looked at the bump on Abigail’s chin and explained that it had to go. She also promised a less painful experience than the last time. Abigail was not happy about all of this but she took the news well and was using some of her new coping skills to stay in the chair and remain calm. She asked the doctor if she could see the tool she was going to use. It was a small extractor with a scalpel on one end. I was praying that Abigail wouldn’t see it. But the doctor made a deal that Abigail could see it beforehand but she couldn’t back out of having the bump removed. Abigail reluctantly agreed and it seemed like we were going to breeze through this visit. The doctor held up the tool and Abigail stared at it for a few seconds. Deep breath – all was okay. Or so I thought…

At that exact moment, Hattie, who had been quietly reading her book the whole time, looks up and announces “Boy, that sure does look SHARP!” Are you kidding me? Really? REALLY?? The doctor and I glared at Hattie like it was our job…she quickly shut her mouth and went back to her reading. Meanwhile, Abigail’s blood pressure hit rock bottom. What little color she had in her face had been replaced with a light tinge of green. The clock was ticking toward full stomach upheaval. With swift precision the doctor removed the minuscule bumps from Abigail’s chin and we began the recovery process. It took longer to get over it than the time it took to wait for and see the doctor. All of that hard work reversed in less than 2 seconds. We were so close to a perfect visit only to be sabotaged by the 7 year old.

By mid afternoon, Abigail had forgotten all about the doctors visit. She will forget until the next time she has to see a doctor. I can safely say that before the next visit we will have to practice her deep breathing just to get out of the car and into the building. I think I’ll get Hattie a babysitter….

passing the torch…

Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

A couple of years ago, my in-laws started the American Girl tradition at our house. Abigail got her doll for a birthday present. Addie quickly became a member of the family. At that time, we made it clear to Hattie and Laura that an American Girl is something you don’t get until you’re a little older.

Hattie has waited patiently for 2 years. Last week, her grandmother promised her an American Girl for her birthday. Amanda arrived today. Hattie had just endured her 7 year old check up complete with a finger prick and a shot this afternoon. She had no idea that the box she had been waiting for was in the play room. Imagine her surprise! (The shot miraculously stopped hurting the moment she saw the box!)

The furious unwrapping of little boxes was over in a flash. Typical of any 4 year old in this situation, Laura was not happy. The truth is that while the doll and all of her clothes are fabulous, none of them are hers. She knows that this is Hattie’s birthday present and that she too will someday receive an American Girl doll of her own. But that doesn’t make it better right now.

In a move that shocked me into a stupor, Hattie noticed how Laura was feeling. She went into her room and got the smaller doll that she has played with since Abigail got Addie. She gave it to Laura without blinking an eye. Laura was hesitant at first but when Hattie handed her the dresses for this little doll, Laura was sold. They have decided that Laura’s doll is the little sister of Addie and Amanda. Laura is giddy with glee. I am speechless.

This moment lasted a split second before the girls ran off to play, dolls in tow. But the selflessness lingered. In all the craziness of our life, these are the moments I live for. Those tiny unspoken acts that prove that we might be doing something right!

Hattie is Linus…

Saturday, November 13th, 2010

I love Charlie Brown. Growing up, my family holiday traditions always included watching the Charlie Brown specials on TV. I have fond memories of watching it with my brothers and laughing at the same scenes year after year.

One of my favorite Peanuts characters is Linus. He carries around his beloved blue blanket while he philosophizes about life and waits for the Great Pumpkin. I never thought I’d have a Linus of my own but I do. Hattie is Linus. She has a yellow fuzzy blankie. She takes it everywhere. All three of my girls have a special blankie but Hattie is the only one who has clung to hers with this much devotion for this long. We don’t let blankies leave the house unless we’re on a trip but she carries hers around the house all day. She makes it into a cape. We’ve figured out how to make it into a one-shouldered dress. She is soothed by it when she is upset. It is a tea party tablecloth or a picnic blanket. She ties it around her head like a turban. She can fashion a papoose for her dolls. The possibilities are endless!

It all began when Hattie was about 15 months old. She couldn’t fall asleep until she could rub the hem of her blankie between her fingers. We don’t know why…it’s just something she started doing on her own. Then she started wrapping it around her head in her sleep. Now, at 6 and a half, I have to unwrap it from her neck every night before we go to bed so she won’t sweat to death!

Hattie’s love of her blankie has become one of her special traits. I know at some point she will start having blankie-less adventures. I just hope it holds together until then!!


Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

Yesterday morning I was writing a check and I wrote down the date. 11/9/10.  I had this strange feeling that the date was important.  I did a quick mental inventory of birthdays and anniversaries and came up with nothing.  A few minutes later I gave up and went about my hectic day.  It wasn’t until a conversation with my father at the end of the day that I figured it out.  Thirty seven years ago on November 9th my sister passed away.  Noel lived just a few short weeks past her first birthday.  I never knew her…but in some strange way I feel like I did.

My father talked to me and to both of my brothers yesterday but they were not conversations of sadness.  It was more of a remembrance of love.  We are not a family of grave sitters.  While her remains may be at the cemetery, we feel that Noel is not really there.  She lives on a little in each of us.

Noel’s life has never been a secret to me.  There are pictures of her in frames around the house and dolls that belonged to her and then to me. There was no big family meeting during which her existence was “revealed”.  She has always been and always will be a part of our family.

Even though Noel’s life ended before mine began, I have always felt an ethereal connection to her.  I am not ashamed to admit that I have shed tears many times during my life because I longed to know her.  Would we have looked alike?  Acted alike?  Had similar handwriting?  Walked a comparable path in life?  Had like taste in friends or clothes?  Would I even be here if she had lived?  It is a great mystery for me.  It sounds like I spend a lot of time thinking about Noel but, like it or not, that is not true. I usually remember her on her birthday each year.  I don’t know why this time was different.  I don’t have an explanation for that tinge of familiarity yesterday morning.  Regardless, she is now on my mind.

I do often wonder how my parents dealt with her death.  Medicine wasn’t so modern then and her condition was not curable.  They had no choice but to accept her fate.  It is not lost on me that if medicine wasn’t so advanced as it is now, my daughter Laura would not be with us.  I cannot even bear that thought.  Now that I am a parent I realize that our time with our children under our wing is so very short.  My oldest daughter was born and before I could turn around she turned 9.  Where has the time gone? Have I impressed upon my children just how important they are to me? One can only hope.

Now it is the 10th and the anniversary of Noel’s death has passed by again. She had a large impact on our little family and we are all lucky, whether in reality or in our dreams, to have known her…

promises, promises…

Saturday, October 9th, 2010

When we told the girls that we were moving to Florida, I promised them that they could have a party with their friends before we left.  Today was the day that I kept my promise.  Between 3 and 5 this afternoon, there were 10 little girls running amok in my house.  Laura had friends over for her birthday party last weekend so today’s bash consisted of Abigail and Hattie’s friends.  Laura was the go between.  As the girls split themselves into two groups, Laura played mediator darting back and forth relaying plans and secrets.  Some of the girls were dressing up in our myriad of princess gowns, some were running around outside.  There were lots of laughs, a few tears and even more squeals of delight.  At the end of the 2 hours, the girls were picked up one by one until it was down to our three.  Abigail, Hattie and Laura were left hungry, smiling and exhausted.

This move is bittersweet for all of us.  We have loved Anderson.  We have made life long friends that we will miss wholeheartedly.  But the job is too good to pass up.  It is a bright opportunity in a cloudy economy and all five of us are thankful for it.

The girls have been in bed less than an hour and they’re already well into the snoring competition.  Score 1 for Mom!

she left 8…and came back 9…

Sunday, September 5th, 2010

As usual, Abigail blossomed over the summer.  This year she started violin.  She read the first 4 Harry Potter books and is halfway through the 5th.  She has made a multitude of crafty masterpieces and science experiments.  It is her favorite time of year.  There is something about getting up with no agenda that brings out the creative spirit in all of my children.  They love to stay in their pajamas all day and “forget” to brush their hair.  It is free and fun.

About a month ago, Abigail went to camp for the first time.  It was a 10 day experience like no other.  She had a ball.  She tried new activities and made new friends.  She also happened to be there on her birthday.  We had a little party before she went to camp and they celebrated during camp so she was able to stretch the occasion out over almost a week.  Joy for her…hard for Mom to be away from her on that special day!

While she was gone, Hattie, Laura and I went to North Carolina with my parents to visit relatives.  We had a great time too.  But I missed her.  Oh, how I missed her.  So much so that when I finally crept my way through the line of Suburbans to find her on pickup day, it was like one of those cheesy chick flicks.  I spotted her and she saw me and I leapt out of the van and we ran for each other.  I couldn’t squeeze her tight enough.  My eyes were filled with tears of joy.  I had reunited with my love.  Of course it only took her about 15 seconds to say, “Mom!  That’s enough!”  I let her know how important she is to me and I almost embarrassed her in public.  I must be doing something right!

She gained confidence and perspective while at camp…two things that are so very important at this age.  Whoever equated children to sponges was a genius.  They soak up everything.  As a parent, I have to accept that they will learn plenty without me.  They do not NEED me to teach them everything.  Of course they get information at school but they glean information from their surroundings all day long.  Abigail is very observant.  She is starting to notice people and their behavior.  She is learning those hard lessons about why people do some of the dumb and hurtful things that they do.  I hate to see her innocent view of the world tarnished but the real world is out there, like it or not.

I am so proud of the person she has thus far chosen to be.  Of course she has her moments.  We all do.  I had several today.  But for the most part, she is a loving, kind, thoughtful child.  Robert and I are completely, unashamedly in love with her and we can’t wait to see what she does next!

listen up…

Sunday, August 8th, 2010

Last night, I did something out of the ordinary.  I colored.  With crayons.  I colored an entire jumbo coloring page featuring Tiana from The Princess and the Frog.  I spent over an hour on my “project”.  I had bought a pack of giant coloring pages for Hattie and Laura while I was out yesterday, much to their delight.  They spent most of the afternoon sprawled on the floor coloring like it was their job.  They could not be bothered.  Laura got frustrated because she had to take a potty break.  She said “but Momma, I have to finish Prince Naveen!”  It was very important.  So, I decided to see what all the fuss was about.  It was wonderful.  I was completely absorbed in my picture.  I can see now why the girls couldn’t “hear” us calling them for dinner!  Once my picture was done and displayed with the ones the girls had finished, I began to think about all the events of the past week.

Abigail is at camp.  She is having a ball but she is away from us for 10 whole days!  After dropping her off, my parents, Hattie, Laura and I went to visit relatives in North Carolina.  My father has 8 brothers and sisters.  My mother has 2 brothers.  We have LOTS of relatives.  It was a short trip and we weren’t able to see everyone but it was a great few days nonetheless.

The biggest observation of the week was that Hattie and Laura play together beautifully.  On a couple of occasions, we spent the morning at the hotel until lunch.  We were in a regular hotel.  There was no suite, no game room and the weather was not conducive to swimming.  I was worried that the girls would get bored.  My Aunt Margaret had given the girls some new little stuffed animals so one morning I suggested that they play zoo until it was time to go.  I thought this would last 15 or 20 minutes.  Wrong!  Hattie and Laura set up the animals under the dresser and zipped off into their fantasy zoo.  Hattie got out her notepad and made pages of charts with all the information any zookeeper might need.  The animals were bathed, fed and put down for their naps.  She pretended to call and order animal food, vet services and zookeeper uniforms.  My parents and I were entranced.  It lasted over 2 hours.  I wish I had a tape recording of the conversation!  I was telling Robert about all of this over the phone that night.  He didn’t believe me until we got home and Hattie showed him her notebook.  They continued to come up with game after game in one situation after another.  They needed no toys, no entertainment.  Just the freedom to be themselves.  It was incredible!

Last night as the girls were stretched out on the floor coloring and playing with their Barbies, we listened a little more closely to what all they were saying.  It turns out that the imaginative play wasn’t new or unusual.  It happens at our house on a daily basis.  We had just never heard it before.  When the girls are in the playroom, we are seldom listening unless they need our help.  It is an oasis and a playground and they are free to spend their time in there playing with whatever they choose.  How wonderful it would be to be able to transport yourself into an imaginary world where all things are possible.  I remember those days from my own childhood and I’m delighted that my girls are able to do this.

Laura and Hattie are in the playroom right now with one of our neighbors.  I think I’ll go listen in!

summer cuts…

Monday, July 26th, 2010

“There was a little girl,

and she had a little curl

right in the middle of her forehead.

When she was good she was very, very good,

and when she was bad she was horrid.”

– excerpt from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

At some point every summer, the girls get their hair cut.  By me.  I don’t know why but when it was time to cut Abigail’s hair for the first time, I wanted to do it myself.  I didn’t have a hard time cutting it so I just kept doing it year after year.  It is an enjoyable experience for both of us.  As the next 2 sisters arrived at the point of needing their hair cut, Momma’s barber shop was still open.  I have cut Robert’s hair for years and I’ve even cut my niece’s hair once or twice.

When I first cut Abigail’s hair she had golden blond ringlets.  Now it is dark brown, thick and wavy.  The waves and thickness come from both me and Robert so hers is really thick and really wavy.  Hattie’s hair is much like Abigail’s.  It is thick and dark brown but her hair is still in ringlets.  If we keep it chin length, the curls stay in tact and it is precious.

Laura, however, is the “black sheep” in the hair department.  Her hair is blond and straight as a stick.  It is darkening as she gets older, just not as quickly as her sisters did.  When it was time for Laura’s first haircut I discovered that it is much easier to cut wavy hair than straight.  Curly hair is forgiving.  Your lines don’t have to be flawless because the hair curls up and evens itself out.  Not so with straight hair.  Laura’s first haircut was not a complete disaster but it was far from perfect.  It didn’t help that she was fidgety.  And giggly.  And squirmy…

Most of the time, we stick to a simple bob.  It is so cute on all of them and easy to wash and wear.  Once I went much shorter on both Hattie and Abigail – I think Laura was still bald at that point!  The girls had asked for shorter hair cuts and I was happy to oblige.  They were darling and happy.

I have learned a lot through the years and I pay attention more when I get my hair cut (Robert refuses to try to cut mine) so that I can do a better job each time.  I know that some day my girls will no longer want me to cut their hair or they will ask for something that I cannot do.  They will want to go to a salon and have it done by a professional.  They will want the whole experience.  When that time comes I will probably be sad to close my “shop” but for now I’m just going to keep on snipping….

the cool of the pool…

Sunday, July 25th, 2010

For the past couple of weeks, Hattie and Laura have been taking swim lessons at our local pool.  They both did great and we are so proud of their progress.

The pool we are members of has 2 indoor heated pools and a large outdoor water park geared towards little children.  There are a couple of large slides and a deeper section for accomplished swimmers.  We chose this facility because it fits our current pool needs.  We’re not ready for the olympic sized pool inundated with teenagers.  Not yet anyway…

The swim lessons were held in the indoor pools but most days we went out to the water park after class for some fun before heading home.  I have been taking my children to the pool every summer since Abigail was in utero.  We love it.  My girls have become part fish.  As we were celebrating the end of swim lessons with a picnic and an extended swim, I began to reflect on my observations over the past 2 weeks.  Big surprise, no?  😉

I was astounded by the number of parents that suit up their children, watch them wade into the water and then cease to be parents.  Just because the pool has lifeguards doesn’t mean that you are released from your parental responsibilities.  This is not the time to tan, text or talk on the phone and completely ignore your children.  Even if your children can swim, you are still accountable for them.  I could not believe the parents who were so involved in conversations with their friends that they did not see their children mowing down smaller children left and right.  The lifeguards are trying to make sure no one drowns.  They are not there to babysit for you or teach your children the word respect.  One woman asked me to watch her 2 year old while she took her older daughter to the bathroom.  Of course I said yes.  However, thirty minutes later, I realized that she was sitting in the shade talking on her phone.  The nerve!  I have no problem with children playing and having fun.  But you still have to be respectful of the others around you.  Especially in a public pool full of people.

There are also pool rules for a reason.  For instance, you are not supposed to bring toys.  It is not fair to expect the line of toddlers at the frog slide to wait for your Barbie to go down first.  It is not fair to leave your boat floating in the water while you go play elsewhere and then come yank it away from the innocent little boy who found it.  It sounds like I’m standing on my soapbox trying to stifle the fun out of everything.  I promise that is not my intention.  Let me ask you this – how can I expect my children to obey rules and respect authority if I don’t lead by example?  I can’t.  I think this applies not only to the pool but also to life in general.

I know that parents need a break.  Trust me, I KNOW.  But the pool is not the place for it.  Maybe the pool in your backyard is, but the public pool teeming with little children is not.

I feel sorry for the ignorant parents because the truth is that they are missing out.  I spent over an hour sitting in the shallow water watching Abigail race down the big slides grinning from ear to ear.  I watched Hattie practice all she had learned over the past couple of weeks in class – her confidence growing by the second.  And I was repeatedly visited by mermaid Laura as she tried to figure out how to swim like Ariel.  It was wonderful and I wouldn’t have missed it for anything!