Monday, September 7, 2009

Progress on one front, frustration on another

Well the problem of my daughter going to bed too late is getting better. She is now waking up earlier and going to bed earlier. Not as early as I would like, but I will certainly take 10:00 p.m. over 12 midnight or 1:00 in the morning. At least progress is being made on that front.

On another front, I have been dealing lately with the frustration of my daughter not listening to me. It has been so bad at times that I have wondered if her hearing was okay. But it soon becomes apparent that it is not her hearing that is the problem, but stubbornness. The other day at the mall, she ran out of the play area. I called after her, but she ignored me and kept running. I started counting, "One.... two...." and told her that if I got to three, I'd be putting her in the stroller and making her stay there for a time out. She immediately stopped, turned around, and came running back, whining, "No stroller! No stroller!"

Just yesterday, however, we were at a cookout and she was playing with some other kids in a sprinkler, and even though I was only a few feet away, my calls to her were completely ignored. She would look at me for a second, then go right back to playing. At one point she took off running towards a nearby road. My husband and I both called after her (and my husband ran to get her) and she ignored both of us. A little boy only a few months her senior even realized she was running in the wrong direction, so he took off running and caught up to her before my husband did, grabbed her by the arm, and brought her back.

Then there was the other day when she would not listen to me when I told her not to pull the shower curtain back while I was in the shower, allowing the water to spray out onto the floor. I had to get very stern to get her to listen, and then it would only last a couple of minutes before she was coming back for more.

And so I ponder... and think... and ponder some more, what methods to try to improve her listening skills. Meanwhile, I will try very hard not to pull all my hair out.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Toy Phone Conversation, Balloon-blowing, Inner Beauty, Screeching to Win, & Infinite Bubbles

Right now my daughter has her toy phone and is pretending to have a conversation with her daddy, who is working late tonight. This is the first time I have seen her have a pretend phone conversation that actually made sense. It is too precious. Here is what she is saying:

"Hey daddy. Working on the wood?" (his job involves working with wood)
"I go work, too, daddy."
"Daddy in the phone?"
"Train video. Ruby and Max." (she's telling him what she watched today--one was a video about trains, the other a cartoon.)
"I talking you. Dogs, T.V." (there are dogs on the T.V. right now)
"Hello. I-I-I talking you."
"Say Aruba." (Hmm, not sure what that one means.)
"Goodbye." (as she hangs up.)

Earlier today, she found a bag of balloons leftover from her 2-year birthday party and of course you know what I wound up doing next. Thankfully we have a manual balloon pumper that is easy to use. The issue came when I had to tie the dern things off with a knot. Needless to say, my fingers were getting sore and after two balloons I told her that was it. But she was so happy with those two balloons. She carried them under her arms, and insisted on taking them everywhere with her.

Then there was the moment right before getting ready to leave the house. I planned for us to go eat lunch at a sandwich shop, then head up to the mall so she could play in the play area and I could get in some walking since it's too hot here right now to go to the park. She was still in her nightshirt, so I dressed her in a cute "mall appropriate" outfit, brushed her hair, and put in barrettes. After putting in the barrettes, I smiled at her and said, "You look so pretty." She smiled back, touched her barrettes, and said, "Pretty." Then she said, "Mirror!" So I took her to the bathroom mirror, and we both smiled at how pretty she was. Then I told her, "It's nice to look pretty on the outside, but even more important is how pretty you are on the inside." She pushed her finger into her chest and nodded, saying, "Pretty inside."

While at the mall, we were in the play area and a little girl pushed my daughter, hard. She stood there for a moment looking at her, then walked towards her and gave her an ear-piercing "screech," all the while smiling that sweet smile of hers. Before I knew it, the two were playing happily together. I was so impressed with how my daughter handled that moment. Instead of getting defensive, she turned it into a game.

After returning home, my daughter found two bottles of Infinite Bubbles on the shelf and ran to tell me about it, excitedly exclaiming, "Bubbles, Mama!" It would be the first time I had ever done it with her. I bought the bottles long ago, intending to one day break them out and have fun with her, but had forgotten all about them. So I went and got them, opened up one of the bottles, and the fun began. She giggled with delight as she chased the bubbles around and around and tried to pop them or stomp on them once they were on the floor. And I think I know why they call them "Infinite" bubbles--not because you can blow lots of bubbles with each dip of the stick (though you can), but because they knew your child would want you to infinitely blow them!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A Striking Resemblance

Am I the only one who has ever noticed how similar toddlers are to puppies?

Both like to stick their butts up in the air on a regular basis; both like to lick the floor; both get great joy out of chewing on (and eating) things they aren't supposed to. Both have those pee and poop accidents on the floor--or couch--or chair--or you; both eat dog food. You spend a good portion of your time them telling them both, "No!" You buy them both lots of fancy toys to play with, yet they usually insist on searching in your cabinets or closet to find their own 'toys' (haha my daughter just proved that~no kidding!); both have a fascination with your socks and shoes; both have only two speeds--super fast, or crash. Both will kiss you one second, then turn around and bite you the next, and think it's funny! Both think playing is more important than anything, even eating. Both like to run from you when you call them and think it's a game; both like to sleep in your bed.

And of course, both can use those puppy dog eyes to melt your heart, and usually do.

We could learn a lot from toddlers and puppies.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Losing my baby, gaining a little girl

Today I have decided to start a different format for entering posts in my blog. Up until now, I have always tried to come up with something "grand" to write about--and if I couldn't, I wouldn't write. As a result, I have not entered many posts in my blog. So from this day forward, I am just going to write about daily life, whether it's plain or not. And who knows, maybe it will wind up being something even better.

My daughter, who is almost two and a half now, is really starting to show signs of becoming less of a toddler and more of a little girl, and quite the independent one at that. One of those signs is that she is beginning to ask for juice more often than milk. Another is that she can now drink out of a regular cup without any help, though she still hasn't perfected the non-spilling part. Yet another is that she seems to have developed a hearing problem. Selective hearing, that is. She will hear us whisper something about the mall, her favorite place to go (is she a girl, or what?), but when we call her name loudly, or tell her to stop doing something, she doesn't appear to "hear" us at all. And she has also developed her own definition of the words "Yes" and "No." At first, it was "cute" to hear her say them, because she would use it in response to a question such as, "Are you hungry?"or, "Would you like some milk?" However, we quickly began to realize that she didn't necessarily mean, "No, I don't want that (or Yes, I want that)." Rather, she might mean, "Hmmm, I'm not sure. Let me think about it, because in a few seconds I will change my mind and say just the opposite!"

It's a fun game, and I say the word 'fun' with as much sarcasm as I can muster. For example, we might have a sippy of milk in hand, ready to give it to her, since just one second beforehand she had given every indication that she wanted it with an enthusiastic, "Yes!" and just as enthusiastic nod. Then suddenly (and I do mean suddenly) she changes her mind, shakes her head--hair flying--and proclaims loudly, "No!" So we start to put the sippy of milk back in the refrigerator, and guess what? She changes her mind yet again and now she really wants it. I have to laugh, though. This is a learning process for her, and though the "game" can get quite exasperating at times, we as parents must also learn right along with her--learn to be patient, that is, as our little girl learns the true meaning of words and expressions (and how to make decisions).

Then there is the game of mimicking. We will ask her a different type of question other than basic food or drink questions--and instead of answering, she will repeat the question back to us, word for word, with the same tone inflection and everything. Trying to get an answer out of her at those times is like pulling teeth. As frustrating as it is at times, we try to remind ourselves that it is yet another way that toddlers learn communication. In time, she will learn how to answer those questions, as she watches and learns from us and others around her.

Another sign of independence is that she has started to initiate conversations with us, with other adults, and with children. I get such joy out of watching her do this. For example, she might see a cat on T.V., run over to me and look at me with a big smile, point to the T.V. and say, "That's a kitty cat, mama!" And watching her trying to talk to other children is--well, just too cute for words.

It's so bittersweet watching my little baby go away and a little girl coming into the picture. "Bitter" because there is a part of me as a mother that grieves that my baby is no longer so very dependent on me. "Sweet" because I get the privilege of watching her grow and blossom, like the unfolding of a beautiful butterfly. When they're still caterpillars, they're all warm and fuzzy and their world is limited to grass and plants and their feet stay mostly on the ground. But when they transform, and they must, their world opens up to so many new possibilities. Suddenly they can fly--very slowly and clumsily at first, but it isn't long before they pick up speed and build confidence--and one day, you watch silently as they fly away, into the distance.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Choosing to Trust God

I really didn't even feel like writing this, but figured it might help to get my feelings down. What a roller coaster I've been on the past few weeks.

I think we, as mothers, know deep down--it's that maternal instinct--when something isn't right about a pregnancy. From the moment I got that first positive pregnancy test with Hannah, I was so excited, and so at peace about it. I just "knew" that everything was going to be fine, even in moments of doubt as I got further along in the pregnancy.

This time I didn't have that same excitement. Rather, something didn't feel quite right from the very beginning. I didn't want to admit it at the time, though. I was hoping that the feeling was wrong. As the pregnancy progressed, my body was telling me by the way it was acting that something was up. Even when I got the news that my beta number had risen back up and I had that first initial surge of excitement at the possibility there may be some hope, after a couple of days I just "knew" it wasn't going to end well. Sure enough, at the ultrasound yesterday--at 8 weeks, 2 days--we saw a still-empty gestational sac, with no heartbeat. And the sac had begun to collapse on itself even more and was very irregular in shape. It didn't surprise me at all. Deep down I already knew.

It has been a hard pill to swallow. I waited so long to finally be pregnant again with a second child, and endured several very early losses - the kind you only find out about if you test before your period is due, and now this one--that lasted for several weeks--only to have it end as well. And yet, as painful as this is, I refuse to get bitter or give up hope. Instead, I will say: "The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Lord." That may be hard for some to understand, but I know that I serve a God who is faithful and true, who only has our best interest at heart. How can I not trust Him? Just because things don't go my way? Just because life seems so cruel and unfair sometimes? We live in an imperfect world, in imperfect bodies, and our finite minds struggle to understand the mind of an infinite God.

Sometimes we do get a glimpse of the reason. We might look back on a particular trial and say, "Okay, that's why I had to go through that." Maybe we came to a new understanding about something, or learned a particular lesson. But many times we do not know the reason. I choose to trust God with the reason. He is, after all, more trustworthy than I am.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

There May Be Some Hope Afterall....

Yesterday I got the call from the doctor's office with my 4th beta number. It had gone back up! I was shocked. It has gone from 956 up to 2,526--down to 2,320--and now back up to 7,945! I am not sure what to think, but I do know that it is highly unlikely that I am miscarrying if my number is going up. My husband suggested I may have ovulated twice, several days apart, and the first one didn't make it. I am saddened by any kind of loss, but if there is hope that there is another one in there.... well let's just say, I would be so thankful if that winds up being the case. I am afraid to get my hopes up too high, though. What a roller coaster ride this has been! Here I thought it was all settled and that miscarriage was inevitable. And now I have reason to hope again.

Life sure does take some unexpected turns sometimes. Which just reminds me that I am not the one in control. I have another doctor appointment on Monday, July 20. Hopefully I will find out something then. I am believing God for a miracle, yet trusting that He knows best no matter what the outcome.

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Prospect of Being a Mother to Two

I thought my daughter was going to have a sibling in several months. But before I could even get used to the idea, it ended all too quickly. It was confirmed today at the doctor's office that I will miscarry. The sac was still empty, and was beginning to disintegrate.

My emotions have been all over the place. I was so happy at the thought of holding a baby in my arms again. Of going through it all again, only this time being able to savor every moment, because I wouldn't be so busy trying to figure out how it all worked. I'd know what to do.

But that dream has ended, at least for now. It is making me appreciate my daughter even more, if that is even possible. Now I will savor every moment with her even more, and be thankful for every day that I have with her. I believe the day will come when the time will be right for another child. But for now, I will hold my daughter in my arms even tighter.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Winning the War of Wills

Sometimes motherhood reminds me of being a commander in an army, in my case an army of one, fighting the war of wills. My two-year-old is learning boundaries, and it's up to me and my husband to set them. In that boundary-setting comes many battles. Some are worth fighting, others demand a diversion tactic.

A couple of days ago when it was time for my daughter's dinner, while my husband was in the shower, a fierce battle of wills ensued between me and my daughter. She was very hungry and anxious to eat, so I went ahead and began feeding her food that was still hot. Which meant I had to help her eat it, by scooping up a small bite and blowing on it to cool it off, then letting her have the spoon so she could shovel it in. She didn't like that idea one bit. She wanted to do it all herself, which meant she would take a huge bite and not bother trying to cool it down first. She couldn't seem to grasp the fact that I was trying to protect her, despite trying to reason with her on her level of understanding. It got to the point where I almost took her away from the table and not let her have any food until she would listen, but just didn't think she would understand and knew it would only upset her more. So I continued to insist on helping her, while trying to convince her it was for the best. I firmly kept telling her to quiet down and let me help her until the food cooled down. She would calm down only for several seconds at a time. Oh, the stubbornness! If only she knew how to trust me. If only she had been willing to wait for the food to cool down, then she could have eaten it all herself from the very first bite.

I have to wonder sometimes if God has that same frustration with us. If there are times when He speaks to our hearts and tells us it is best to wait on something, yet we insist on having it our way and fuss and fume and whine and demand it now, and think that God is being so unfair... yet little do we know that if He allowed us to have it our way, we would get hurt in some way, or it wouldn't be to our best benefit. Oh, the stubbornness! If only we would trust Him. If only we were willing to wait.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Precious Moments

You know those facial expressions kids give sometimes that are just absolutely priceless? My daughter had one of those yesterday. She wanted some of my diet coke, but I warned her she probably wouldn't like it. She insisted, though, so I let her, and she took a nice, big sip through the straw. Then came the look of utter disgust and confusion. She looked at me like she wondered why in the world I had let her do that. It was too funny for words.

Then last night, she pretended that a cabinet was the dishwasher. Opened up the door, threw in some toys, threw in a dime (I use those dishwasher tabs), closed the door, and said very happily, "Wash dishes!" I didn't see it, unfortunately, but my husband told me about it.

And this morning, there was a moment. I watched her while she was still sleeping. Suddenly she smiled, eyes still tightly shut, then she started sucking on the two middle fingers of one hand, while putting her other hand on top, palm facing out, and said, "Milk!" At first I thought she was waking up, but then quickly realized she was still fast asleep. She was dreaming about milk, her favorite drink in all the world. I smiled and gave her a gentle kiss on the cheek, careful not to wake her.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

It's been awhile since I've posted on my blog. I hope to start posting more regularly now.

A lot has changed with my daughter since then. She has begun to talk in three to four word phrases now, speaks more clearly, and express her needs better. She still whines for what she wants, but we are teaching her to ask with words, and slowly but surely she is learning to do it.

Sometimes she amazes me with what she says. Yesterday she was playing near an old stereo we have on a shelf in the back room, and was pushing the buttons and saying "Play a song! Play a song!" Not once had I ever said to her, "That's a radio, and those are the buttons you push to get it to play a song." So I'm not sure how she figured that out.

We are in the midst of potty training now, too. A few months ago, she was expressing an interest and was going pee and poop in her potty, but then suddenly rebelled and wouldn't go near it. Then, a couple of days ago, she suddenly wanted to try again. She is more serious this time, so I'm sure I will be blogging about that in the days to come. The first day didn't go too well. I tried letting her run around with either training pants (thick underwear) or nothing at all, and instead of going in her potty she went on the floor three times (the training pants didn't help keep it contained much at all), so after the third time I insisted she put at least pull-ups on. Other mothers I have talked to have suggested offering her one M&M every time she goes in the potty as a motivation for her, but I haven't decided yet if I will try that approach. We'll see.

Another thing we are dealing with is her horrendous sleeping schedule. She stays up late into the night, and getting her up earlier doesn't seem to help, nor does anything else I've tried. I am starting to think she needs to be on a very strict schedule, so I might try that next. I have not tried waking her up very early, like around 6:00 a.m., so I may also experiment with that.

I love how she will do something every day that makes you smile or laugh. All it takes is one of those things to make the daily frustrations of motherhood melt away. For example, she loves to wear her daddy's hats and will strut around with them, pulling them down over her eyes, or will find one of his bandanas he uses to keep the sweat out of his face at work and walk around with it draped over her head, or will help him take off his big work boots and then put them on and try with all her might to walk in them.

Then today, while I was in the bathroom, she opened the cabinet door under the sink, stood there with wide eyes and said, "Ooooohhhhh! Lots of... stuff!" She then proceeded to take out my various makeup bags filled with odd and ends, unzip the bags and take the items out one by one. There are so many more things which I cannot now think of, and I will be sure to add them as I remember them. She is bound to do more funny or cute things as the days go by, too, so stay tuned.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

I Was "That Mother."

I used to think to myself, "How sad, she doesn't know how to discipline her own child," whenever I'd see a mother in public with an out of control screaming toddler. Today I was cured of ever thinking that again. I became "that mother."

It happened at the mall. My daughter threw her first real temper tantrum, and I had to decide at that moment what I cared about most: what people thought of me, or teaching my daughter an important lesson. We were in the crowded food court, of all places, and she didn't want to go back in her stroller. I had a very good reason for needing her to be in the stroller at that moment. She couldn't have cared less. So began the very loud, high-pitched, red-faced, whiney scream that toddlers are so famous for, big alligator tears streaming down her face, legs kicking and arms flailing.

I remained amazingly calm, squatting down and talking to her in an attempt to reason with her, but to no avail. So I made the decision to simply ignore her and put the obnoxious squealing pig in the stroller anyway. I was sure everyone was staring, mouth dropped open, at the poor mother who couldn't control her child, but I didn't care. She was going to learn right then and there that she can't always have her way. We were close to the Chinese food place when this happened, and the man on the other side of the counter smiled sympathetically and handed me a fortune cookie still in the wrapper, hoping the cookie might calm her down. I knew it wouldn't, but I thanked him anyway and "tried" giving it to her. She responded with a violently shaking head. So I gave the fortune cookie back, saying with a laugh and raising my voice in hopes others would hear me, too, "Sometimes, you just have to ignore them," and began pushing her along in the stroller. In a matter of seconds, she calmed right down.

A round of applause from the crowd of people might have been appropriate at that moment; after all, it was quite the show, starring my daughter, the wild animal. Whether or not she learned anything from that experience remains to be seen. Whether or not I made the right decision at that moment can be debated among all the women out there who have never yet been "that mother."

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Things I Love About Her....

A couple of days ago, I wanted to post to my blog, but wasn't able to. So in this post I will talk about what I wanted to talk about then. The things I love about my precious little girl.

Like the after-diaper-change ritual we have, which is usually done on our bed. I'll tell her to stand up, so I can pull her pants or shorts or skirt up, and as soon as I'm finished (and many times before I finish) she will start jumping up and down as high as she can, grinning from ear to ear. I will insist she hold my hands, of course, and sometimes I will even jump up and down with her, even though I'm on the floor and she's on the bed. And I love the way she'll say, "Wuh-hoo!"

Like when she crawls through my legs, which she's been doing more of lately. I'll be standing in the kitchen, for example, doing something at the counter, and she'll get down on her hands and knees and push her head between my legs and crawl through. Sometimes she'll turn around and come back through again. I usually say, "What are you doin', girl?" and laugh at her. I have no idea why she does this, but I think it's just so cute, and I love it.

Like the way she loves her daddy. She is a 100% bonified daddy's girl, no question about it. Whenever he comes home, she rarely just runs over to him right away to hug and kiss him. Instead, she'll look for something to "show" him first, as in, "Look what I've been playing with, daddy" or she'll do some sort of "daddy dance" for him, and once he's been home a few minutes, she'll finally walk up to him and say "Daddy... hugs you," and hold her arms wide open, and once he picks her up she clings to him and her whole face relaxes as a big grin spreads across her face, an expression of relief that says, "Ahhh, all is right with my world now." My eyes are welling up with tears right now as I think about it. It just melts my heart.

Like how she loves for me to read books to her. She'll bring a book to me and throw it up in my lap, saying "Gook!" (her word for "book"). She'll giggle with delight and crawl up in my lap, and as I'm reading to her she'll hold on gently to my arms with her little hands. I love the feel of her hands on my arms. It's like she's saying to me, "Thank you for reading to me, mommy."

Like the way she sings songs with me. She sings the first verse of Amazing Grace really well. She has the most precious little voice when she sings.

Like the way she says, "Ohhhh," with her voice inflection going up high, then back down again when she sees something she likes or discovers something new, like a bug outside she's never seen before. So precious.

I could probably go on forever, but those are a few of the things I love most about her.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Getting Started

I have no idea what I'm doing, but I'm starting a blog. Something I've wanted to do for awhile, but have never gotten around to until now.

So here is my first "Memoir of a Mother."

Today I am reminded of how hectic motherhood can be.

I wake up later than usual, which means my daughter will wake up before I even have a chance to make coffee, and I will have no time to myself. I try to think of a way to capture some time to myself anyway, and decide to give her a breakfast bar and her usual sippy cup of milk, then put on her favorite morning video. Maybe I'll even get a chance to check some emails. I go start the coffee and try to start breakfast. She only eats about half of the breakfast bar in no time flat, throws it down, then begins whining for me again. "Huuuuugs yooooou," she cries. My heart melts and I pick her up to hold her. She clings tightly to me, and I go through an hour long battle of trying to distract her so I can make breakfast, but to no avail. Finally, she decides she wants to play, so I get that cup of coffee and make breakfast. Just as I am sitting down in front of the computer to eat and check some emails, she walks over and begins the plea again, so I put her in my lap while trying to hold my plate in one hand. She sees the waffles on my plate and exclaims with a giggle of delight, "Waaw-ful!" So of course, I share about half my waffle with her until she finally decides she's done and gets down to go off to play again.

Later, when I'm leaving the house to run some errands and take her to the park, I feel like I need a third hand as I put the diaper bag over one shoulder and my purse over the other, then grab the two trash bags that need to go outside, and with the other hand take her hand to lead her out the door. As we go down the back steps, cats are draped over them blocking the way, and she politely tells them, "Pees moof!" (Please move.) As we step off the bottom step and I release her to go chase the cats, I suddenly realize that I forgot my keys, so I go chasing after her, trash bags banging together and the diaper bag about to drop off my shoulder. I drop the trash bags onto the ground and guide her close to the back door, then run up the steps and back inside to get the keys off the hook by the door. I come back out and lock the door, and by the time I get to the bottom of the steps again she has already taken off running. I grab the trash bags and call after her, but she ignores me and keeps running further and further away, playing with the cats in the yard.

I unlock the mini-van, throw the diaper bag and my purse on the passenger seat, start to throw the trash bags in there, too, but stop myself before I do, mumbling something to myself about what the heck I am doing. I take the trash bags to one of the trash cans a few feet away, then go to collect my daughter. I lecture her about ignoring me (a work in progress, of course), pick her up, and carry her towards the van. As we pass by the cats' water dish, she leans over so far that she almost falls out of my arms, crying, "Waw waw!" (She wants to make sure the cats have water.) "Don't worry, sweety, they've got enough water for now," I tell her, and then put her in the van and strap her into her car seat. I am surprised by how easy it is this time. Normally she's bending halfway over one side of her seat or the other, begging and whining for one of her books or some other "thing" she wants and won't stop bending over until she gets it. This time she sits still and allows me to buckle her in, then I ask her if she wants her "One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish" book, to which she responds with a giggle of delight, "Wun Feesh!"

Finally, we leave to go to the park and to run our errands. Whew! All that and it isn't even Noon yet.