…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!

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!

sometimes you gotta have faith…

Friday, February 5th, 2010

Earlier today our middle daughter, Hattie, had an outpatient procedure to put tubes in her ears and remove her adenoids.  In the grand scheme of things it was not a big deal.  We have been through this twice before.  Hattie had her first set of tubes 3 weeks after her 1st birthday.  Laura got tubes less than a year ago.  Hattie breezed through and is already feeling and hearing better.  No biggie.  Our past experiences made today much easier for us as parents.  This wasn’t the case when Laura got her pacemaker two years ago.

As many of you know, Laura was born with 3rd degree heart block.  In lay terms, it is an electrical problem.  The top and bottom halves of her heart do not communicate with each other about what her heart rate should be.  She will have a pacemaker to correct this problem for the rest of her life.  (I know that I am being overly simplistic.  It’s easier for writer and reader alike, I promise!)

As parents, we have a heavy burden.  There is a lot involved with raising children.  It is an enormous responsibility to be “in charge” of the life of a child.  In our house of girls there is a lot of drama and a lot of cleaning up – both physically and otherwise.  Robert and I have gotten pretty good at managing the chaos.  Some days are better than others and some days we’d rather forget altogether.  But for the most part we’re successful…and busy.

When it was time for Laura’s surgery, we felt helpless.  In all the things that needed to be done, the only thing we could do was get her to the hospital on time.  Everything else was out of our hands.  We handed over our 13 month old baby and were forced to put our trust in the staff of doctors and nurses.  We had to have faith.  In modern medicine.  In others.  In whatever is out there that is bigger than we are.  In the unknown.  In our daughter.  In ourselves.  It was not easy but we survived.  Laura is doing great.  She is a stellar patient and has amazed more than one cardiologist.

This morning when the nurse came to wheel Hattie back to the OR for her procedure, Hattie flashed me a smile and a little wave as she rolled down the hall towards the big double doors.  I got that all too familiar feeling.  There is some cliche involving heartstrings…it felt like a little tug.  Once again, I was reminded of my deep and unending love for this little girl.  And I had to have a little faith….

Hattie and Dr. Hellstrom

it’s not easy being sorry….

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

All my 3 year old had to do was tell me she was sorry.  That’s it.  I’m sorry.  Two little words.  So why did it take half an hour?

Laura was sitting on her bed crying because she didn’t want to be in trouble.  We explained that if she said she was sorry, she wouldn’t be in trouble anymore.  Apparently that wasn’t convincing.

Laura is learning to control her anger.  As in – it is okay to be angry, upset, frustrated, what have you.  It is NOT okay to hit, bite, kick, lock yourself in your room, scream or throw things.  It is also a requirement to apologize when necessary.  Pretty simple from an adult perspective.  Not so simple when you’re three.  I know this.  I don’t understand her confusion but I know that it is there.  The moment when Laura “gets” this concept is on the horizon.  Robert and I have survived this phase twice before.  We just have to be consistent and patient.  Waiting 30 minutes for a pitiful “I’m sorry” is just part of the deal.

So why is it so hard to say that you’re sorry?  Is it fear of the other person’s reaction?  Is it because it is an admission of wrongdoing?  I think the latter is probably more realistic.  Nowadays, most people spend their youth learning in school.  Then they spend the rest of their career proving what all they know.  It would make sense that as we get older and more experienced it would be more difficult to admit a wrong.  That obviously doesn’t apply to Laura.  She hasn’t even been to kindergarten yet!

A few hours ago, after an excruciating wait, Laura finally uttered those two magic words and was allowed out of time out.  It is over and forgotten.  She is now asleep and if you peek at her precious face you would swear she’s an angel.  She is.  Maybe I’m biased.  Sorry!

baby no more…

Sunday, September 27th, 2009

It’s official.  I don’t have a baby any more.

Laura turns 3 today and has now exited babyhood.  She is not a toddler either – she stopped “toddling” almost 2 years ago.  I guess she falls in the generic category of “child”.  I must say though, that the word “child” doesn’t seem complicated enough to encompass Laura’s current state of being.

She is at a point where she is mastering the potty.  She knows where her pajamas are kept.  She recognizes her favorite songs within the first few notes.  She can tell you what is wrong, what she wants and that she loves you.  When she says I love you, she says it so sincerely that it will melt you in an instant.  She is developing quite a sense of humor.  Her favorite saying of late is “buckle up Buttercup” from a cruise advertisement.  She says it all the time just to get a laugh.  She also knows what the rules are and when she is breaking them.  Just a few days ago, she swiped my cell phone from the counter and ran off to hide in her room.  By the time my father called to tell me about his conversation with her, she had not only called him but also my brother and father-in-law.  Twice.  I walked into her room to retrieve my phone and she said “Go away, Mommy, I’m talking!”  Did I mention sassy?

We are blessed with 3 very intelligent, goofy, kind, silly, beautiful girls and we are thankful for them every day.  That being said, most days are like roller coasters.  Guess we’d better buckle up!

3:42 AM

Tuesday, September 1st, 2009

It was 3:42 this morning.  Laura had pulled her “reverse Houdini” routine.  That is, she had crept into our room, climbed into the bed, snuggled down under the covers and fallen asleep.  I slept right through that part as usual.

At exactly 3:42 she sat up and screamed “in the living room!” at the top of her lungs.  It came out “in da yivin woom” but I understood exactly what she said.  Pardon me, screamed.  Right…in…my…ear.  Apparently she was arguing with someone in her dream and needed to get her point across.  As soon as she closed her mouth, she collapsed back into the pillow and returned to her dream.  I’m not exactly sure why but I started laughing.  I guess it was a natural reaction to release pent up anxiety from being scared out of my skin.  My guffawing woke Laura from her vivid dream.  She was NOT happy.  So that left Robert in shock from being jerked out of a deep sleep, me laughing uncontrollably and Laura fussing at me saying “it’s NOT funny, Mama!”

Of course, my mind then wandered back about 11 hours to yesterday afternoon.  I was inside finishing my book and Robert had taken the girls down to the lake.  As soon as I was done reading, I went outside to join them.  Laura came running up to tell me about a frog she had held.  Her favorite part?  “Mama, he pee on me!”  That got a huge laugh from me so Laura spent the rest of the afternoon yelling “he pee on me!  dat fwog pee on me!” and making me laugh.

There I was.  3:42AM  Laughing my ass off at the peeing frog who is supposed to be in the “yivin woom!”  No wonder I am exhausted….

no surprises here…

Saturday, August 29th, 2009

Nothing surprises me any more.  Wait, that’s not true.  “Octomom” surprised the heck out of me.  Did she forget that she already had EIGHT children?  But that’s beside the point. The point is that in the course of my life, I have been through so much that it takes a lot to really surprise me.

Take the last 15 minutes, for instance.

Robert was on the porch reading his book.  I was in the kitchen putting dinner together.  The girls were all watching a movie.

I got dinner in the oven and came in the living room to sit down with the girls for a few minutes.  Laura was standing by my purse trying to be invisible.  I said “what are you doing Laura?”  and she made the face.  The “I’m doing something I know I’m not supposed to be doing but maybe you won’t notice” face.  She had found a peppermint buried in the bottom of my purse.  She had taken it out of the wrapper, licked it and tried unsuccessfully to put it back.  More than once.  Judging by the stickiness of the mint, she had done this many, many times.  The mint was covered in lint and random crumbs from the bottom of my use-it-for-everything purse.  YUCK.

Was I surprised?  Nope.  Disgusted?  Yep.

Just another page in the book of ways to strengthen your child’s immune system…

bubble magic

Monday, July 20th, 2009

A few weeks ago, I was at the Pediatric Cardiologist with my daughter, Laura.  As the nurse was doing an EKG to check her heart, Laura became upset.  VERY upset.  The nurse pulled out a bottle of bubbles, started blowing and sent the tears packing.  How quickly we forget the simple things!  A tiny soap bubble can send even the grumpiest toddler into fits of laughter…well worth the price of a tiny bottle of “magic potion”!

Several summers ago I had blown tiny bubbles to the brink of passing out.  I was on a quest…bigger bubbles…giant bubbles!  First on the list was some sort of apparatus.  We tried making wands out of string and straws, coat hangers, etc…  I was not feeling the elation I was looking for.  Within a few keystrokes on the computer I had found www.bigbubblewands.com.  Jackpot!  I ordered the family set of 4 wands.  The wait for them to arrive was near excruciating but it was totally worth it! Of course we quickly ran out of the solution they sent.  The quest continues!  A little more typing and I found a recipe!!! YIPPEE!  I don’t remember where I found this – I apologize profusely if it’s yours!

Giant Bubble Recipe

1 cup regular Dawn dish-washing liquid

1/4 cup light Karo syrup

12 cups water

Pour all in a large container and stir. You can use glycerin (available at the drug store) in place of the syrup – it tends to work better – but it’s not something I had in my cabinet already and the benefits weren’t large enough to warrant an extra errand. I usually triple or quadruple the recipe.  If you put it in an airtight plastic tub, this concoction will last all summer.  Try to keep it free of debris.  Any leaves or froth in the mixture will make it very difficult to get good bubbles. Be warned, this mixture will kill grass.  Bubbles popping on the grass will not kill it but the solution spilling on the grass will.  We learned this the hard way…..

This is hands down the best summer toy at our house. My girls love it. I have made this in a big red wagon for outdoor birthday parties.  Be warned – neighborhood children will flock to your driveway at the mere mention of giant bubbles.  Grown-ups and children alike can’t help being mesmerized.

Happy bubbling!

who’s in charge here?

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009

That’s an excellent question.  I’m beginning to think that it’s not me.

I came to this realization a few moments ago when I was rocking the 2 (almost 3) year old to sleep for her nap.  That’s right – I said it – rocking her…to sleep….for her nap.  What exactly is going on here?

When Abigail and Hattie were little I made sure they fell asleep on their own and I turned up the music and ran the vacuum when they were napping so that they would learn to sleep through anything.  Guess what?  They can sleep through anything.  Thunder, lightning, nuclear holocaust…anything.  With Laura, we have quiet time during her nap.  There is a rational explanation….if she doesn’t have a nap, the latter part of the day is almost unbearable.  One half of my brain wholeheartedly agrees with that logic.  The other side is laughing at me.

When Abigail was a baby, I rocked her to sleep every night until she was 15 months old.  She was my first child and I cherished those moments with her.  When she got too big to put her in her bed easily after she fell asleep, we suffered for a few nights while she learned to self-sooth and fall asleep alone.  I had learned my lesson.  When Hattie came along we put her in her bed with her blankie and left the room.  She’s never had a problem.  You would think that I would be a master at this for the third child, right?  I don’t know what happened!!!  Maybe it’s because she’s my baby…my last baby.  Maybe it’s guilt.  Laura has a congenital heart defect that she got from me.  It requires a pacemaker that was installed when she was 13 months old.  Even though I know it’s not my fault there is still some subliminal mom guilt in there somewhere. There’s always been a reason for her (my?) need to be soothed to sleep.  Skinned knees, moving, stomach bugs, surgery, ear infections, bumping her head on the coffee table…the list goes on and on.  Now, I put Laura in her big girl bed, fix her blankie and leave the room.  She waits about 15 seconds then moves out into the hallway with all of her paraphernalia.  She proceeds to lie down, talk, read books, ask us to fix her blankie, etc…until finally falling asleep.  Before going to bed, I pick her up and put her in her bed where she stays for a while before climbing into bed with us.  I’ll ask again…what exactly is going on here?

On other issues, we are better parents.  She goes to time out for hitting or yelling and even goes to her room on her own if she knows she’s been bad.  But still she gets a lot more slack than the other 2 girls.  It seems a lot worse when I put this all in writing….

I guess it’s time for a shift in the balance of power.  I’ll start when we’re out of potty purgatory…or tomorrow…..

potty purgatory

Sunday, July 12th, 2009

I am in potty purgatory.  Trapped somewhere between diapers and big girl underwear.  This, of course, applies to my youngest daughter Laura.  She will be 3 in a few months.  My first 2 successful potty training journeys were almost identical.  There were constant accidents the first day followed by fewer and fewer accidents until the girls were completely trained.  We talked about the potty, used all the right words, sang and danced over every little “accomplishment”.  It took less than a week.  No problem.

This third little girl, however, is different.  She does all things according to her own personal calendar despite what her father and I think.  Week before last, I decided that it was time to potty train.  Laura had shown all the signs of being ready.  Plus, I had a block of 4 days during which I didn’t have to leave the house.  So, last Friday we pulled out the potty seat, put on the panties (I am not in favor of Pull-Up type undies so we went straight for the big girl variety) and started happily down the trail to full potty awareness!  I am the first to admit that the first day was not going well.  I had washed sheets on every bed by 2:30.  Then Robert had one of those genius moments of parenting and said “Hey, don’t we still have that little potty somewhere in the garage?”  Within 2 hours of cleaning off the little potty and setting it up in the bathroom, Laura had not only tee-tee’d (sic?) in it half a dozen times, she had also pooped.  We had hit solid gold!!  She went accident free for FIVE WHOLE DAYS!!  She went at home, at summer camp and at our next door neighbors.  Of course I got cocky.  I told everyone.  We sang and danced about our big girl and it was fabulous.  Until….

Day 6:  Laura decides she likes diapers again.  For 4 days now, we have had tantrums about sitting on the potty.  She needs to go but doesn’t want to use her potty…or the big potty.  She doesn’t want to use it in the bathroom, hallway, kitchen, living room, outside patio or van.  She says that going on the floor is gross…but she does it anyway.  We are stymied.

Robert and I continue to cheerlead and sing and dance and we are beginning to see small glipmses of our once perfectly potty trained little girl. I have been a mom long enough to know that with time, this too shall pass.  Again I am reminded that I am lacking about a fourth of the patience that this job requires. But like all tunnels in my life, I know that there is light at the end….