Guest Post: Ideas From Bubba

It’s only 9:00, and I notice my mom’s already a little bleary-eyed. I heard her mumble something about three kids and no help and baby proofing, but I don’t really know what she means.

My mom’s a novice when it comes to entertaining me all day. Usually we have errands to run or jobs to finish on these family days, and I just go along for the ride whether I like it or not. But not today! We are at grandma’s house all day, and all we have to do is play. Yippee!

Mom says she doesn’t know what to do with me, which got me thinking that there are probably some more of you kids out there that have to help your moms and dads come up with ideas. So I’ve started a list. You (or they) can thank me later.

1. Knock down towers Mommy tries to build.
2. Pull all of the dish towels from the stove handle.
3. Drag the dish towels around the room, and pretend you are walking a dog.
4. Try to locate every expensive electronic in the house.
5. Ask everyone for a sip of their drink. Note: This is especially amusing if you refuse to drink from your own cup.
6. Follow your sister and cousin around and copy what they do.
7. Try to climb the stairs. This is pretty funny because it makes Grandpa so nervous.
8. You can also try playing a trick on Grandpa to make him think you borrowed one of the marbles from his collection. This will keep him busy all day looking for it. Hehe.
9. Refuse to play with any of your new Christmas toys. Parents love this.
10. Find a brick hearth to climb and practice your jumping.
11. Get in the shower. Hiding in the curtains is pretty entertaining.
12. Wrestle your mommy. Even she seems to think this is fun.
13. Play peek-a-boo in a doorway.
14. Find your grandma’s singing Christmas animals and make them all sing at once.
15. Dance. Lately I’ve been working on my own version of the disco move. This usually gets a laugh from the big people.
16. Try again to climb the stairs. I promise this never gets old.
17. Scavenge for leftover food under your high chair.
18. Make lots of snot and boogers and then refuse to let your mommy do anything about it. Just watch out, though, if your daddy gets involved. It’s pretty hard to win if they are double timing you.
19. Check all of the cabinets to see if anyone forgot to put back the rubber bands that they use to keep you out. If you are persistent, you can usually find one they missed.
20. And when all else fails…you guessed it…climb the stairs.

P.S. Please forgive me if this post looks weird or has any unintended autocorrects. I’m trying to teach Mommy how to use her new electronic device to make posts. I guess that could be number 21… Teach the adults how to use their new toys.


A Potty Post

Tonight at church I had to do a tiny bit of problem solving.  I really had to use the bathroom, and everyone I knew was busy in some sort of meeting or class or practice.  Everyone, that is, except Bubba and I.  So, naturally, Bubba had to go with me.  Now that he is quite mobile, this was a bit of a challenge.  Our awkward dance around the room made me consider the various stages we’ve lived through already concerning restroom stops.  Am I the only one??

Too New  At first just the thought of bringing my clean, perfect bundle in to such a germy room kept him out of the bathroom all together.  I could either avoid having to go while out or leave him in Daddy’s care while taking care of business.

Car Seat  The bathroom avoidance stage was very short (especially with the second child) as I realized this just wasn’t practical.  So I strapped him in that seat and toted him anywhere, bathroom stall included.  I know it’s probably not PC, but we all head to the handicap stall when accompanied, right?

Hands Free  Round about the time that they start to hold their head up, they start to get a little heavy for toting around in the car seat all the time.  This is a good time to start baby wearing with your apparatus of choice.  Need a potty stop?   No problem….both hands are free!  Good to go.

Hip Toter  It seems I hit the point where he was too heavy to wear a lot sooner the second time around.  Maybe I’m just lazier, or he’s a lot squirmier…not sure.  Either way, I inevitably find myself in Walmart with Bubba on hip and no one to pass him to.  I must say I have perfected the very tricky art of buttoning my pants AND washing my hands with a baby slung under one arm.  It’s not pretty, but it can be done.

Stand Here  His twenty-two pound mobile self has now gotten too hard to wrangle in the under-arm position.  So lately we’ve tried the Stand-Real-Still-Right-Here-While-I-Go-Real-Fast method.  This is fine in the stall because I can keep one hand on him at all times, keeping him (mostly) off the floor.  While washing my hands, however, it’s a different story.  Tonight I used some sort of creative leg lock…worked pretty well, I guess.

So I know we have lots more stages to go.  There’s the Don’t Touch stage when every shiny thing and interesting texture inside a stall catches their attention.  And the Shhhhhhhh stage when they start to report oh-so-embarassing details for every other person in the room to hear.  That’s followed shortly by the painstakingly long process of potty training.  Ugh.  Oh, and there’s always that that awkward stage of being out with a parent of the opposite sex and trying to decide if the kid is old enough to head to the restroom on their own.   I think we’re there with Chica.

I almost forgot one…

I’ve definitely been cheered on….how about you?  : )  What other stages do I have to look forward to?


Memembery Book

When Chica wants to memember something these days, she puts it in her Memembery Book.  She explained to Jay one day that it sits on a shelf in her brain, and she writes things down in it that she doesn’t want to forget.  Periodically she refers to the mememberies there and wants to know if we memember too.  My memembery book often loses pages spontaneously, so I decided it was time to jot down a few memorable moments from this week in a more dependable place.  Here we are, in no particular order….

  1.  It’s been a rough week.  The kind of week where you lose track of the last time you bathed your children and you buy school lunch three days in a row because you just can’t motivate yourself to do one more thing in the morning.  Oh wait.  That’s lots of weeks.  This one was that plus more.  But I’m on the other side of it now.  Thank you God.
  2. Last night was Pirate Night at our school.  I went planning to help as a teacher, and I instead got to just be Mom.  What an incredible gift that was to my tired soul.  As we traipsed around the Old City Cemetery looking for treasure, I breathed a whole lot deeper.  I think an eye patch and a couple dozen good pirate ARRRRRs can fix a lot of the world’s problems.

  3. One day this week I posted this status:

This morning I asked Chica if she wanted me to give her pigtails for school. She said that she wanted small braids and beads like her school friends. I explained that we don’t have those kinds of beads….and I don’t really know how to do this. I then said, “Well, you could at least brush your hair.” Her answer was, “Mom…that’s not stylish hair!” Oh man.

I shared this story with one of her previous teachers at preschool who went on to tell me exactly how to add the beads.  Since I had the know-how and the supplies after all, I decided to try it.  Two out of the three braids have made it all week, much to my surprise.  (I’m sure the lack of baths only helped this…ha!)

4. The threat, “Do you want me to count?” seems to have run its course, and it has been replaced by the Nice Voice.  A while back Chica started to become really sensitive about the volume and tone of voice we used when correcting her.  After one particularly harsh correction and the meltdown to follow, we decided to come up with a solution together of how we would avoid the Mean Voice.  The first time I ask her to do something I use my regular voice.  If she does not follow directions, I ask her again using the Nice Voice.  If she still hasn’t done it, THEN I get to use my mean voice.  Surprisingly, it is working, but this is how it really goes:

Me:  Chica, go put your shoes on.

Chica:  (No answer.  Distracted by her beads or refrigerator magnets or…well…anything really.)

Me:  Chica, this is me using my Really Nice Voice to ask you to go put your shoes on…please.  (This is delivered in my sickingly sweet voice, dripping with undetected sarcasm, eyelashes batting.)

Chica:  Oh….ok….sure Mom. (Equally sweet, minus the sarcasm.)

5.  I’m hoping we get at least as much play out of this strategy as the counting! 5. I think I could find at least one Cheerio in every room in my house.  Bubba really loves me for making snacking so convenient for him.

6.  I’ve been contemplating some kind of post about the imminent end of nursing for Bubba and me.  Instead all I have is a mishmash of feelings…relief, worry, guilt, and pride to name a few.  Maybe there will be more on this later.

Looking forward to making more mememberies tomorrow while watching the Ten Miler together.  Good luck to all of our friends running!

Record and Replay

So I randomly have these ideas for impossibly fantastic inventions that I know could make me rich if only I could figure out how to create them.  Like the Front Seat to Back Seat Nursing Funnel.  Or the Fully Automatic Paper Grader/Commenter/Recorder/Sorter.  Tonight it’s the TiVo For Life.

I so wish I could TiVo days like today and play them back when life is a little less joy-full.  I’m not talking about just seeing pictures from this day or video even.  TiVo For Life would let you completely relive a day…feelings, smells, tastes and all.

Here are the parts I would fast forward to from today…and then live back in slow motion…

  • 6:45  That moment right after Bubba has had his fill but isn’t quite his wiggly, awake self yet.  For about 4.5 seconds he’s relaxed in my arms, and I am relaxed in the moment.  Don’t expect that relaxed feeling again, though, for another 15 or so hours.
  • 9:35  Not enough time to start a new lesson, but too much time to just waste.  I pull out a math trade book that has the potential to cause the “I’m too cool” reaction in some of my fourth graders.  Instead they all seem to be loving it, laughing right along with me.
  • 11:45  I’m carrying on a conversation about running over lunch with one of my students.  We share similar stories about winning an age group category in a race due not to great skill but to lack of great competition.  It’s fun to remember they are people too.
  • 12:30  I walk out of my classroom filled with the quiet buzz that comes from 23 bodies really working.  I’ve left my room in completely capable hands so that I can take Bubba to his nine month checkup.  Some kid from another class brought me a homemade cookie that I munch on as I walk out to my car.
  • 3:30  The doctor is late, as always, but we make the best of it.  Bubba laughs his belly laugh over and over at that other kid in the mirror.  I whisper prayers for a friend who is looking forward to meeting her own baby boy any time now.
  • 5:00  We stop at Mema and Wilson’s house for a quick visit with the great-grandparents.  Bubba can’t take his eyes off of Wilson, but seems to ignore Mema at all costs.  Figures.
  • 6:30  Dinner is cleaned up, and Jay suggests we take a family walk.  After fetching the stroller from the attic and pumping up the tires, the tiniest sputter of rain begins.  We decide against the walk and instead just watch the rain from the front porch.  Bubba sticks his pointer finger out over and over to feel it.  Chica walks down the sidewalk and waits for me to say, “Ready, set, go,” as her cue to run back up it.  Then she gets creative and makes me say things like, “One, zero point ninety, on your mark, get set, go.”  Chica’s hair is dripping, and my pants legs are soaked, and I think I’ll play back this moment an extra time or two.  Especially that moment where the sun is shining and the rain is still falling…so cool.
  • 8:15  Both kids are in bed.  My friend’s baby boy has arrived, and her Facebook is hopping with messages.  I try to tell myself that four hours after the baby is born is just too soon to visit someone that’s not family, but I just can’t seem to think of anything other than just going to peek at his brand new face.  I scrounge up a few hospital survival items so that I have something that I can drop and run, and I just go.  He is sleeping and snuggly and creamy and perfect and surrounded by a whole room of people that already love him.  On the way home I try to craft some insightful words for her I wish I had heard nine and a half months ago.  I have none worth more than just love him.
  • 10:00  Jay wisely suggested I plan for tomorrow before writing this post.  I begrudgingly agreed and got busy on odd & even numbers and the planets.  He was a willing guinea pig and helped me try out a new card game for tomorrow.  He even said it was fun.  I sure like that guy.

So I’ll let you know once I have all the particulars of my TiVo contraption figured out.  Until then, I guess rereading this will just have to do.

On Sleep

I have now stopped and started this post about ten different ways.  I have all kinds of ideas about sleep swirling in my head, and I’m trying to determine my bigger point.  I’m not interested in backing one parenting philosophy over another.  I think my point is that parenting is hard, but not so hard that you can’t win once in a while.


When Chica was a baby, I received a book about infant sleep.  I admit I was really green and didn’t have any idea that a huge debate about sleep methods existed out there.   I read it, followed it, loved it.  The whole book, from what I remember, boiled down to creating an eat-play-sleep routine.  Feed the baby, play with the baby, then put the baby down for a nap when she shows signs of sleepiness.  The baby will cry, and it will be hard for you, but eventually she’ll learn to put herself to sleep.  Let me just say…Chica was a rock star at all of this.

As I’ve written before, Bubba just didn’t fit that mold.  Right from the beginning he wanted to be held much more than she ever did.  I tried half-heartedly letting him cry it out a few times, but I always caved before he did.  I think one of the main reasons I didn’t let him keep going is that I was worried it would upset or wake Chica.

So fast forward about eight months.  Summer vacation is coming to a close and I literally can’t remember the last time Bubba took a nap in his own bed.  All of his naps were had either in the car while running errands or in my arms in our ugly brown armchair.  Our routine was play, eat, sleep.  I would nurse him when he seemed tired, and then we’d just stay there.  If I tried to put him in his bed, even if he was fast asleep in my arms, he would jolt awake about one half second before his body hit the crib mattress.  He would scream his shrill cry of desperation, and I didn’t know what else to do besides pick him back up and lull him back to sleep…in the ugly brown armchair.

Things started off well last week when I went back to work.  He actually slept through the night on the first two nights…maybe 10 p.m. until 4:30 or 5:00.  Not bad for him.  But things began to deteriorate as the week wore on.  One evening (things are so fuzzy I can’t remember which one) I was going on two hours of trying to get him to sleep in the bed.  I hate to admit this, but I started thinking, “It’s no surprise that some people end up truly hurting their kids.”  I thankfully realized those are not very safe thoughts to have in my hazy, sleep deprived state.  I left him wailing in his bed and came downstairs to tell Jay I was tagging out.  Bubba should be thankful he has such a good daddy.

In retelling this story to some friends and experienced moms at work, they insisted that I needed to just let him cry it out on his own.  I recalled for them at least one occasion where I had let him go for ninety minutes with no signs of slowing, but they rebutted with stories of babies who had taken just as long.

It’s been said that insanity is trying the same thing over and over expecting different results.  You can call it what you want….determination, desperation, insanity…but I gave it another shot.  Friday night I left him wailing in his crib and went downstairs to hang out with my dad and Jay.  We had the TV on to drown out the screaming.  About 30 minutes later a sound startled us…silence.  Thirty minutes, people!  My stubborn, needy, determined child had fallen asleep on his own.  Miracle.

Saturday at nap time it took 20 minutes of crying for him to give up.  And get this…I got TWO HOURS of uninterrupted time to work while he napped.  I was able to uncover parts of my dining room that I hadn’t seen all summer.  We now have a homework/schoolwork center and a place to work.  Yippeeee!  Last night it was less than five minutes until he was asleep.  This morning, after his early morning meal, it took less than one minute.  God is good.

So I’m thinking that unless you have kids this age of your own, or you’re related to me, or you’re my friend Ruth, you’ve probably stopped reading by now.  And that’s fine.  I do realize that my baby’s crying and sleeping habits are not the most interesting material for a blog post.  But here’s what I’ve learned for those who’ve stuck with me…

  • Trying the same thing over and over is not always insanity.  People change and the context changes.  At six, seven, and eight months it didn’t work.  At nine months it did.  This has reminded me, especially in the context of school, to not write off any ideas.  New year, new kids, new perspective on my part…it just might work.
  • I’m rolling around feelings that I can best describe as regret and guilt from the last few months.  At the same time that I say, “People change,” I wonder if I could have gotten to this point a whole lot sooner if I had been more committed to helping him learn to put himself to sleep.  I’m tempted to think that I wasted many, many hours in the armchair, but I know that I did learn something about slowing down in the process too.
  • I can’t take credit for this one.  While talking about this with Jay’s mom, she challenged me to see Bubba’s stubbornness in falling to sleep as the makings of determination instead.  I like that idea.
  • Finally, I am not naïve enough to think that we have solved all sleeping issues in our house.  But for right now, we have four well rested people, and that is a beautiful thing.

Five Minute Friday: Beyond These Phases

Bubba @ 8 ½ months

We are currently suffering through the I Won’t Take a Nap Unless Someone Warm Is Holding Me phase.  This important stage of development is accompanied by the I Refuse To Eat Anything Unless I’m Feeding Myself phase and the Three Quarters of What I Try To Feed Myself Ends Up Smashed In My Lap phase.

Chica @ 4 years

She is smack in the middle of the I Don’t Really Need a Nap, But I’ll Lose It At Dinner If I Don’t Rest phase.  This is also the time of the I’ll Roll My Eyes At You Just To See If You Notice phase and the Fourteen Questions Per Minute phase.

At nap time and dinner time I am so ready to move beyond these phases.  I wonder how we got here and if they will ever end.

But then when they are both sleeping (because everything is just a little bit better then, right?), I remember that moving beyond these phases will certainly mean leaving behind other good ones.

Like the Let Me Give You a Big Sloppy Kiss All Over Your Face phase.   And the I’m Not Afraid To Strike Up a Friendly Conversation With A Total Stranger phase.

God, keep teaching me to find JOY in each of these phases of our little family, good and bad.  When we move beyond these and on to the next ones, may you pour on the joy again.

Oh, I almost missed one.  Who could forget the I Love To Make Farty Noises On Your Flabby Arm Skin phase?   I’m not sure if I’m ready to move beyond this one or not.  I think it’s funny at 8 months.  I’m sure he’ll think it’s funny at 8 years when I’m ready to be over it.

Linking up with Lisa Jo for Five Minute Friday…even though my five minutes somehow turned into five times ten.  I tried.

Five Minute Friday

Learning Joy (Plus the Splinter and the Weasel)

If only.

If only it didn’t take two hours to get Bubba to sleep, then this would have been a very different post.

You see, today I’ve been on a mission searching for joy.  I found it, and I’ve been crafting eloquent ways to write about it all day.  I was going to tell you about my kids laughing at each other, empty grocery bags, and sweeping my steps.  I was going to tell you about getting peed on, going for a jog, and getting splinters out with weasels*.  Most importantly, I was going to try to describe the mysterious relationship between joy and obedience.

But then Bubba wouldn’t fall asleep.  I swear sometimes that the boy is allergic to his bed. He’ll be completely passed out, limp in your arms, but the second his skin hits his sheets, he’s wide awake and heartbroken.

If only I had made him cry it out from the beginning. 

If only he was asleep right now, I could be writing. 

I can’t wait until he can put himself to bed like Chica.  I will get so much more sleep.  

So here we are again, right back to where I started yesterday.  Always thinking about what’s next and despising the moment in which I’m stuck.

Except this time I tried to battle those thoughts with the truth I’ve been finding.

I read today that we are called to view trouble as an opportunity for great joy.  Now I know not being able to get the baby to sleep is mild in the grand scheme of troubles.  But tonight it was robbing me of my joy, so I think this is the perfect place to start to try applying these instructions.  Start small, right?

But get this…the whole reason we are supposed to rejoice in our struggles is because we know that they build endurance in us.  So does this mean I should be happy I can endure two hours of bedtime because next month it will be three?  Yikes, I hope not.  I think it’s more like I should take joy in this moment because it’s going to make me better prepared for the next time that being a mom seems inconvenient or exhausting or impossible.

I’m not sure that tonight I actually took the opportunity to be joyful or even know how to do that exactly, but at least I was pondering the possibility in the moment.  Starting small.

How about you…do you have a concrete example of a time when you truly experienced joy in the midst of a trouble?  How did you train your “if only” brain to take the opportunity for joy instead of just wallowing?

*So, I’m guessing you didn’t particularly want to read about the grocery bags and me sweeping the floor, but maybe you’re just a tiny bit curious about the splinter and the weasel.  This makes me laugh every time I tell it, so read on if you need a little extra dose of joy today….

Yesterday we took Chica to the doctor for the physical she needs to start school.  The doc addressed all of the questions to me, much to the annoyance of Chica.  She tried and tried to interject extra bits of useful information without any luck of gaining his listening ear. Finally she found her opening in the conversation, and this is what she said…

“On vacation I got one splinter in this foot and two splinters in the other foot.  My mommy tried to get it out with a weasel, but it didn’t work.  When we got home she used a tweaser, and then it did work.”

Now I know she meant needle, but no telling what the doctor thought she meant.

I love that kid.