Good and Ready

I’m sure I’ve written this post before.  This post that boils down to the fact that life with little people moves very slowly and it feels like you may never move on to the next thing.  But then that next thing happens to remind you that time really is moving.  And you wish you could go back to reassure your tired self in the past that it will come, whatever it is.

Well, all of that happened again today, so I hope you’ll grant me the grace to tell the story one more time.

A year ago I was challenged to post a photo a day of something for which I was thankful.  Here’s my post from November 4, 2013:


Day 3: I’m thankful that this time went better than the last time. I’m also thankful for a Daddy that has more patience with the drama than me. : ) 

Can you hear it?  Can you hear that my thankfulness was really frustration in disguise?  For whatever reason I wanted so badly for her to learn to ride that bike.  Because I kept seeing posts of her friends successfully doing the same.  Because I had great visions of us exercising together.  Because I was afraid she would outgrow this bike she chose for herself before she ever learned to ride it.  Whatever the reason, it turned out that the more I wanted it, the more she pushed back that she couldn’t.  And most trips to some flat parking lot for another go at it ended in a silent ride home from all sides.

So I pretty much gave up on the bike and moved on to other pursuits.  Swimming.  Reading.  Getting Bubba out of diapers.   I have a feeling my kids will grow up and tell stories about the unfortunate fate of having a teacher for a mom.  There’s always something to teach ‘round here.

Except for this bike thing?  I didn’t teach her.  She did.  Or maybe Bubba did.  Or perhaps time did.

Two Wednesdays ago I came home from work to find Chica on her bike in the driveway.  Our driveway is actually more like two slightly sloped parking spaces, but this turned out to work to her advantage.  I gather that while Nana and Daddy were busy preparing dinner inside, she pushed that thing to the top corner of our driveway, hopped on, and glided down, just as she had seen Bubba do a million times on his tiny balance bike.  This kid who used to withdraw like a turtle into her shell each time you mentioned the bike, just decided she would get on one day and do it, with no Daddy to catch her and no Mom to cheer her on.

So by the time I got home that Wednesday, she could do it.  And it was fantastic, all 4 seconds from the top of the parking space to the porch.  And I was reminded for the umpteenth time as a mom that they’ll do it, whatever it, is when they’re good and ready.

They’ll quit nursing.
They’ll use a cup instead of a bottle.
They’ll be able to be left alone for more than 5 seconds at a time.
They’ll fall asleep without having to be rocked.
They won’t act like you’re killing them when you drop them off at school.

When they’re good and ready.

So today as I watched her circle twenty laps around the New Covenant parking lot, first from her side and then from afar, I was reminded about time and good and ready.

When they’re good and ready…

They really will both sleep in their own bed one day from start to finish.
They will be able to dress themselves without help.
They will one day eat more than just PBJ, popcorn, and apples.
There will be no more need for pull-ups on our house, even at night.
Our whole family of four will go on bike rides without buggies or baby seats.

And I bet if I quit pushing and just let time do its thing, those good and readies will come even sooner.

P.S. Talk about time moving slowly.  Today Nana bought a watch for Chica so that she could wear it on violin days and not miss her lesson.  Chica is currently announcing every minute for us:

It’s 8:19.
54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59…
It’s 8:20!  In ten minutes it will be 8:30.

I finished my applesauce, Mom, and it’s 8:21.

Slowly, I tell you.  Slowly.  : )


Albert the Mowse, Hurry, & Anger

The offers:
Sweet Frog with Daddy.
Rides at the mall with brother.
Rivermont Pizza with the whole fam.

The choice:
Late night writing and reading with Mom.

I love that kid.

Chica had a good week at school.  After the fourth positive note home in her agenda, I told her we would celebrate with a treat of her choice if she brought home a fifth.  Her snaggle-tooth grin coming off the bus Friday afternoon told me she had made it.  On the way home we brainstormed ideas.

“Maybe…..maybe…..” she hesitated, never quite hearing the offer that was, to her, worth five long days of self-control and focus.  I thought for sure I had her at Rivermont Pizza.  Or at least I hoped I had her at Rivermont Pizza.  (I’m thinking I’m picking that as my reward next weekend if I can keep my own self together for five good days in a row.)

So tonight on the way home from Nana’s neighborhood picnic I reminded her that she hadn’t yet chosen a reward.  “Time’s up…you need to pick.”

“Ok.  I want to stay up as late as I want.  Can I write another story?”

Be still my little teacher heart.

After waiting for what seemed like an eternity for Bubba to fall asleep, we finally got busy.  She didn’t have a story idea ready to go like the last one, so I helped her find a little inspiration here.  It took possibly 37 spins, but she finally decided to go with a mouse named Albert that liked to dig holes.  She also decided this second novel of hers would be typed on Mommy’s computer.  We would then print it and illustrate each page.  Whoa.  Big time.  Let’s do it.  Except…

FYI:  A first grader typing anything is slow.  Painfully slow.

“E.  I need an e.  Where’s the e?  Eeeeeeee?  Oh. Here it is!  E.  Got it.  Ok, now…”

Times 90 for the first page.  Yes, I did check.  Bless her.

I almost said it.  90 times, even.  You know, those two words that rhyme with “blurry cup” and flow off my lips like they are her middle and last name.  But there was absolutely nowhere to hurry to.  She didn’t have to go to bed yet.  I didn’t have to do school work.  Jay had given me from 7am to 5pm of uninterrupted time to work, and finished or not, that’s enough.  I wasn’t going to do house work either.  I’m saving that for tomorrow.

Instead I just let it go slowly.  We tried about five different spellings of said before landing on the right one.  We learned about how backspace goes one way and delete goes the other.  We right-clicked the squiggly red line to find better ways to spell mowse and backyorad.  Once Chica moved from typing to dictating, we discussed quotation marks and synonyms for said.  Daddy even came up to hear our story and made us talk about verb tenses.  After she had had enough of her mowse story for the night, we moved to reading a little Junie B.  While we read our two chapters, instead of our nightly normal of one, we discussed the finer details of good sportsmanship and why Junie B.’s antics made Chica want to hide her eyes.

Slowly we wrote.  Slowly we read.  Slowly we talked.  Until exactly 10:47 when she rubbed her tired eyes and agreed it was time.  What a great choice of a reward, Chica.  Better than pizza, even.  Thank you.

I just keep coming back to something I heard recently in a sermon about pressure:

There is always anger in hurry.

And the more I think about it, the more I realize this is so true.

Hurry up, Chica!  Read:  I’m mad that we aren’t out of the house yet.  I still have seven more things I need to do, so find your shoes on your own already!

Hurry up, Bubba!  Read:  I’m angry that you’re taking so freaking long to get out of the car.  I should have gotten up five minutes earlier, but I’m going to blame our tardiness on you.

Hurry up, kid in my class that is always the last one to finish!  Read:  I’m angry that I planned more for this day than we can actually accomplish.  I’m really angry that I’m expected to teach you more in this year that anyone can actually accomplish.

So tomorrow I plan to not hurry the finish of the story of Albert the mouse.  I have no need to be angry.

And this week?  As contradictory as it seems, I’m going to try to fight the inevitable pressure by slowing down.  No need to be angry.

This Wasn’t Supposed to Be Bath Day

Tonight at dinner, as Chica leaned toward her plate of pizza, I noticed something in the part of her blonde little head.  It was orange.  Like spray tan orange.  And since I’m sure she hadn’t found any spray tan in kindergarten or at home, there could be only one other cause for this:  playground dirt.  Lovely.

So together Daddy and I tried to explain the importance of not throwing dirt at school.  I’m pretty sure all of the best grown up reasons for not throwing dirt don’t really translate to a five year old:  Mommy will have to bathe you every day instead of the slacker routine of every other (or more?!?) day.  And that orange tint never really washes out of your clothes.  Or mainly just because you really don’t want to be “that kid.”

So while I was busy bathing both kids on this usual no-bath day, I had a few minutes to think.  Mainly I thought about how many memories I’ve let slip away because I haven’t been writing lately.  As I scrubbed out that orange glow, I made myself promise I’d jot a few recent memories down tonight.  The parent e-mails to compose and Jeopardy game to create and the science quizzes to grade and the guided notes to be typed can all wait.  It will wait.  So in no particular order…

*We bought deck furniture last weekend.  We’ve eaten every dinner since Sunday out there.  And when dinner is done, Chica asks to go play on the front porch.  It’s like she has momentarily forgotten that we own a TV because it is so nice outside.  Perfect.
*Tonight my two little people played together without arguing.  I just sat and watched.  Chica would throw the Frisbee down the hill.  Bubba would chase after it and return it to her.  Over and over and over.  He didn’t seem to care at all that he was essentially playing fetch and the one doing all the work.
*Chica can all of a sudden make paper airplanes on her own.  Daddy’s off the hook now.
*Last night Jay made me go to bed, and he did all the dishes.  That is some real love right there.
*Bubba’s really developing his own little sense of humor these days.  One night during his bedtime story he let out two really good toots in a row.  Without skipping a beat, he says in his low, old man voice, “Funny.”
*The last two nights as we’ve read Good Night Moon, Bubba has insisted on finding the mouse on every single page.  I was just about to write about how annoyed we both were by the fact that there was one page without a mouse, but I just found it!  Ha!  I can’t wait to show him tomorrow now.
*Chica insists on asking me every morning if I’m driving the speed limit.  What’s up with that?  One day when I told her no, she of course asked why.  Stupidly, I said, “Cause we’re late, that’s why.”  To which she replied, “Oh…so if you are late and in a rush, then it’s ok to go faster than the speed limit?”  Well…ummmm…no.  Ok, fine.  I’ll slow down.
*Bubba is nearly two and still not sleeping through the night most nights.  These days he walks himself into our room anywhere from 2 a.m. to 4 a.m., rubs his cold hands on my arm, and says sweetly, “Hi, Mommy.  Up please.”  I don’t have the energy it takes to say no, so there are three of us in the bed at wake up time every morning.  This too shall pass I guess.
*And finally…ever since Chica was really little, we’ve always had prayers as part of our bedtime routine.  I do the same with Bubba now.  At first he would just make whisper noises for a few moments and then give a big, hearty, “Amen!” when he was done.  Later I realized that he was trying to copy some of the same things that I was praying.  So guess how my prayers go these days?  “Dear God, thank you for a good day. Thank you for Bubba.  Please give Mommy peace tonight.  Please give Mommy peace tomorrow.”  So then, without fail, Bubba’s prayers sound like this:

“Pssspspppsss Mommy sspspsssppss peace sssdpssss Bubba  spspssss Mommy peace.  AMEN!”

Amen to that, Bubba!  AMEN!

Poop or Puke?

Turns out it’s poop.

Today is one of those days that I try to remember what we ever did before Google.  I seem to remember that if the set of 25 year old encyclopedias on the shelf in the den didn’t have what you were looking for, then you were out of luck.  I’m pretty sure I would have never found today’s question in the 1962 edition of the Golden Book Encyclopedia.  (And you better bet my momma’s pulling those bad boys out now, trying to prove me wrong.  Let me know what you find, Mom.)


This afternoon I sat perched in Nana’s living room watching a family of robins.  Chica and Nana had done the same for about an hour earlier today, so Bubba and I had to check out what was so intriguing too.

Just as expected, Mama Bird brings a mouthful of juicy worms to the nest.  Next, the tiny, fuzzy (ugly!) heads emerge, mouths wide open and searching.  Mama picks a lucky winner, and the meal is gobbled up in seconds.

But then something happened that I had never seen before….Mama Bird grabbed something white from the nest, and she proceeded to eat it.  The first time I observed the mysterious white blob, I guessed it was maybe a grub that she had brought earlier and the babies had rejected.  I know all about picky eaters!  As I watched longer, though, and saw her pick up something from the nest every time she returned, I knew this white blob had to be something else.

“Poop or puke?” I wondered.

I’ve heard of animal mommies chewing up their food for babies, but the order of things just didn’t seem right as I watched the robins today.  Actually, I seem to remember reading an article about some celebrity who did the same for her baby.  (I just Googled that too….Alicia Silverstone.  Ok, I digressed.)  So if it wasn’t some form of premastication or regurgitation, then it had to be poop, right?

Right.  I found my answer here.

So you think your infant goes through a bunch of dirty diapers?  Turns out the baby robin poops every time it eats something.  Every. Single. Time.  And almost right away, too.  The cool part is (or maybe gross…it’s all about perspective) that when they are just a few days old, their poop comes enclosed in a neat package made from mucous, and it doesn’t contain bacteria at first.  So Momma Bird and Daddy Bird grab the package (called a fecal sac) right off the baby’s rear end and eat it.  It’s actually mostly undigested food, so this keeps them from eating all of the food they should be bringing to their hungry babies.  After a while their digestive system becomes more developed, and the poop starts to have bacteria.  When this happens, the parents stop eating the fecal sac, but they continue to cart it away from the nest to help keep things clean.  Once the babies finally leave the nest, their bodies stop making the sac…just regular poop from there on out.  Wow.

In case you care to watch…

So why am I telling you this?  (I almost wrote, “Why should you give a crap?” but that was just too obvious.)

I’m telling you this because in less than one week, it will be summer.  Glorious summer.  And one of the things I am looking forward to the most is time to just sit, observe, and be.  Even better than that, I can’t wait to observe and be and learn WITH my kids.  Today was like a tiny little taste of that.

After watching the birds’ business, we also hunted for live cicadas and made a collection of a dozen of them in Nana’s big blue pail.  FYI—no top needed.  Apparently they are too dumb or lazy or just incompetent to get out.

Kew!” Bubba said repeatedly.  I agree, Bubba.  Kew.

Come summer.

Image:  LILLY  © shudrbug  | Flickr Creative Commons

Everything But Nap

Chica’s class has an end-of-the-day routine that involves the kids telling the best part of their day.  Based on what she tells me, it sounds like Chica has a routine answer that she gives most days that she’s asked:

“Everything but nap.”

Well, in case you’re wondering about the best part of my day today, I’d say, “Everything but nap.”  And that’s only because I didn’t get a nap.  Had I gotten a nap, that would have been one of my best parts too.  For sure.

Thanks to the early morning rain, we were all set up to have a slow day at home.  I was expecting lots of My Little Pony and at least 20 readings of Brown Bear, Brown Bear.  But thanks to some very effective Facebook marketing, we found ourselves rolling out of the house around 9:00 a.m. headed to the City Market.  As always, we ran into multiple friends, sampled chocolate we are way too cheap to buy, bought one apple for Chica to munch on while we browsed, and just enjoyed our stroll.

Since Bubba hadn’t yet reached his squealing point, and we had already seen everything there was to see at the Market, we decided to continue our stroll down Main Street.  With Bubba on my shoulders and Chica on Jay’s, we walked nearly from one end to the other.  Bubba has a small sampling of words that he uses now (that aren’t animal noises), and one of them is wok (translation:  walk).  “Wok?  Wok?” he asked over and over.  I was hesitant at first to let him get down because he usually refuses to hold anyone’s hand, but somehow today was different.  With his tiny little hand around my pointer, we walked most of the way back to the car.  My shoulders were thankful.

As often happens when Jay is driving, we then found ourselves touring old neighborhoods while he filled our brains with local, historical trivia.  I love that guy.  Bubba, however, was not quite so enthralled, and he went right to sleep.  Instead of risk waking him by bringing him into the house, we decided that Chica and I would kill time in the library while the dudes napped in the car.  Win-win.  We were pleasantly surprised when our library buddy, Mrs. Ann, had a tableful of St. Patty’s Day craft materials set out.  Books, computer time, AND a paper plate leprechaun mask….what more could a girl ask for?

After lunch at home, Chica went off to pretend she was napping, Jay hibernated in the basement, and Bubba and I went for a walk.  And we walked, and walked, and walked.  We stopped to pet a pack of puppies up for adoption, meandered down a side street trying to find the house of one of my students, strolled through Randolph College to see what all the commotion was about, and took a potty break at Riverside Runners.  (Let me just stop right there and say, have you been in that place lately?  It’s just plain awesome.   Water outside for two and four-legged runners, showers inside, friendly people, oh…and a fully stocked stash of any kind of toiletry you might need in the bathroom.  The good kind…not the cheap stuff.  Ok, I digressed.  Just visit them.)

When I got home, Bubba and I explored the back yard for a while, then Jay took both kiddies on an errand so I could grade a few math quizzes.  After dinner, I suggested we do something fun as a family.  (You know, anything that doesn’t involve My Little Ponies.)  And do you know what Chica actually suggested?   A walk.  Miracles.  So we walked again, and it was grand.  There was ice cream for dessert, the bedtime stories of choice were short, Bubba fell asleep quickly, and most of the dishes were already done.  This day ended just about as well as it started.

So what was your best part of the day?

The Weekend: Guest Post by Chica

Today Mommy told me she has a blog.  She said she writes stories to put on her blog for everyone in the Internet to read them.  She said that one time Bubba wrote a story on the blog, and this girl writes blogs, and she’s only two I think.  So if they can do it, I know I can.  I’m four.  I’m going to tell you the story of my weekend.

Saturdays are supposed to be family days, but sometimes we just end up going to boring places to do adult stuff.  This weekend we didn’t really do that.  We did family stuff.  In the morning we walked to the park.  At first there was no one there, but then all the kids must have knew we were there cause they all came.  Mommy said I was bossy to my new friend Emma, but I don’t think Mommy really knows how to play if you’re four.

I pretended the Splash Park was on and I let another kid babysit my baby while I played.  Bubba went down the slide.  Then Mommy got a phone call and we had to quick go to meet her friend.  I hate it really don’t like it when we have to leave playing.  Mommy says I can’t say that h word.  Other people say it.  It’s not the end of the world, Mom.

Oh, I forgot something.  Before we went to the park, Daddy was teasing me funny.  Me and Mommy were trying to make a dress for My Little Pony out of paper.  We keeped my door closed so Bubba won’t mess up my stuff.  Daddy and Bubba started rolling stuff under my door.  It was a marker.  We rolled it back, and he rolled it again, and then we changed the color of the marker.  Later we sent Daddy a note under the door to please give us a baggie so we could clean up some stickers.  Do you know what he did?  He gave us a bag that he cut out the bottom.  But I didn’t know it.  So I put the stickers in and they came out the other hole.  Daddy laughed real big, and I did too.  Eventually.  Then Mommy sent the tape and the bag back to Daddy under the door.  And Mommy laughed this time.

So when we got back from the park I played with my neighbor friend.  Mommy said I couldn’t write his name.  I don’t get the big deal.  It’s easy to spell.  On the way to the park I told Mommy that I am going to marry him.  Her eyes got real big, and she changed the subject.  Later we were playing in my room and she wouldn’t let me close my door.  I don’t know why.  She sighed real big.

Today I went to church.  Me and my Sunday School teacher played dress up.  He’s fun.  He told me about a girl whose daddy thought she was dead but she was just really sleeping.  She didn’t really die.  Jesus woke her up.

I went to Nana’s house like we always do after church.  I ate a lunch I didn’t really like and didn’t take a nap and I watched a movie.  Then I went with Nana to feed Casey the cat.  I didn’t really much get to play with her, but I got to give her food and water.  This was the first time she rubbed against my legs.  Casey is a girl name but Daddy says it can be both.  Here kitty, kitty!

Tonight we read another chapter in Little House on the Prairie.  We’re almost to the part with the Indians.  I like Indians.  And I think they are going to build a house, Laura and Mary and Pa and Ma.

When we were about to pray, Mommy told me that Mrs. Bulson went to heaven yesterday.  At first I was really worried that we didn’t get to show her the movie that my school made.  Mommy said she did show it to her, and she gave her a CD.  I asked, and Mommy said she didn’t take the CD with her.  I won’t get to see Mrs. Bulson again until I go there to heaven.  Heaven has lots of flowers and two fountains.  That’s what I picture with my eyes.  I told Mommy that.

I guess I have to go to bed now.  I tried to tell Mommy that I haven’t stayed up late yet while I’m four, but she said it was a school night.  I asked about tomorrow.  She said maybe Friday.  How many days is that?

Good Night.

Love, Chica

P.S.  Wanna know a secret?

Boogie Woogie Sunshine!

Under Cover. Literally.

Shhhh….don’t tell Jay.   I’m hiding in the bedroom.

It’s 6:50 a.m.   A time of day that is almost never reserved for solitude in our house.  This hour is usually for catching Cheerios being pelted across the room, negotiating life-threatening fashion decisions, or packing someone’s lunch while facing a firing-squad of inconceivable questions.  Again.

But today is different.  For some miraculous reason, I’m in here, and they’re out there, and they don’t know that I’m awake.  And I’m going to soak it up for just a tad bit longer.

I’m going to check my e-mail for the 21st time in twenty minutes, hoping to find a reply to an e-mail I sent at 1:00 a.m.  I finished a video project and forwarded it to a few of my biggest cheerleaders.  I am that kid standing at the teacher’s desk just dying for her to say, “I love it.  You’re brilliant.”

I’m going to also refresh the big FB for the 31st time in now thirty minutes.  What exactly am I looking for?  Not sure, but I don’t find it.

So instead I flip through old blog posts of my own, amazed at just how much of this very recent history I have forgotten until I reread it.

I realize it’s been two weeks since I blasted SuperMommy, and I wonder if I have anything worth remembering and enough time to say it before my cover is blown.

There’s the funny way Chica’s been mixing up m and n in the word dominoes.  Donimoes.  I hope it’s a long time before she fixes that one.

And the frozen moment in time from one morning that I’ve somehow managed to hold all week.  Jay had already left, Chica was with Nana, and it was just Bubba and me.  I hoisted him from the highchair, and he smushed his pudgy, sticky face into mine.  And kept it there.  And I breathed deeply and told myself not to forget, and somehow it worked.

Ok.  The sounds from the den are mounting.  Time to go rescue Daddy.

And make more memories.