Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Little Victories

I hear the wheels of Annabelle's chair scrap across the kitchen floor and bump up onto the threshold between the tile of the kitchen and the carpet of the living room.  There is a standing 'no moving Annabelle's high chair at all' rule in our house, and I let out my little sing-song, "Uh-oh!" to remind Eleanor quickly that what she is doing is off limits.  Our eyes lock. In that moment I see her grapple between right and wrong. I give her The Look and she takes it as a challenge and bolts, taking the high chair with her. 

"Okay, time out!" I  call, and she drags the high chair only further into the living room.  Its on wheels, so its easy to do, but its a big no-no and she knows it. I jump up from the kitchen table to take her to time out, and she lets out a blood-curdling scream.

"Okay! I'm going!" She yells, abandoning the chair in the middle of the living room and makes a bee-line for the couch in the family room: our designated 'Phase One' for time-outs. She screams each step of the way.

"I'm putting the timer on - but you may not scream like that in the living room - its hurts all of our ears.  If you really feel you must keep screaming, that's your decision, but you can do that in the car." The car is the designated 'Phase Two' of time outs, which sits in our attached garage.  I take her there when she throws her out-of-control-screaming-throwing-her-body-everywhere tantrums.

"No! You can't! Don't you talk to me like that!" She screams at me.

"Uh-oh, what a bummer that you're being so disrespectful and out of control. The car it is then," I say calmly, and walk to pick her up from the couch and the closer I get the louder her screams and the more violently she moves her body. 

I'm shocked my ears aren't literally bleeding, and think about investing in ear plugs.

I reach to pick her up she swats me across the face. Did I say swats? No, slaps.  "Uh oh, Eleanor, you should never hit me or anyone ever," I say as calmly as I can, but my voice levels rise despite my best efforts to stay even-tempered. 

I carry her convulsing body to the car and manage to strap her into the car seat. I prop the car door slightly open and leave, closing the garage door behind me.  The great thing about Phase Two is that she can't hurt herself, and we can't hear her screams.

I re-set the timer and attempt to finish my now cold oatmeal. Annabelle plays happily on the floor, oblivious to Chaos that her sister has insisted on inviting to the house yet again.

The timer buzzes and I build my courage, expecting to encounter a fresh onslaught of screams and slaps.

I re-enter the garage and am assaulted not by screams, but quiet.  Dead quiet.  Suspicious, I open the car door wide - expecting to find that she's unbuckled herself and is now wrecking havoc on the car. Instead, I find her smiling back at me, still buckled into the seat, waiting patiently for me.Before I can say or do anything she says, "I'm sorry for not listening mommy, and I'm sorry for not talking to you nice. I won't ever do that again. I don't want to talk to you like that. I'm so sorry momma."

I'm so startled words escape me for a moment. I unstrap her and tell her "Oh Eleanor, what a big girl you are apologizing to me and acting so grown-up." I'm proud. Nearly bursting with it.  She leaps into my arms and wraps her little arms tight around my neck, her legs curl instinctively around my middle.

"I love you so much mommy," she whispers into my neck. 

"I love you too, sweetheart, and I'm so glad you don't want to talk or act like that again. It makes me so happy to hear you say that."

"Me too mommy!" she says cheerfully. I don't hold out any real hope, she is three after-all.  But I am grateful for the small things, like the fact that she recognizes that the way she behaved was wrong, and wants to do better. The past few months with a rebelling three-year-old have been rough, and this is the first glimmer of hope she's given me that what I've been teaching her is sinking it.   I feel victorious.

I am not naive, I know that she will not suddenly become the angelic child I dream she can be, but  I am grateful just for her desire to want to have control over her actions and words.  Its the little things.


I'm participating again in Just Write with Heather over at The Extraordinary Ordinary.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

A History to Break

(Picture Source)

I am from freshly turned garden rows, from Rototillers and containers of live lady bugs.

I am from moving from one home to another, never in one place long enough to ever take root.

I am from the dirt of the earth,  and river waters that never lay still.

I am from games of charades and talent shows galore, of speaking your mind, from not-the-son-for-my-father, from too many women and not enough men.

I am from the depths of despair and rising from the ashes with Christ ever with us.

From No TV on Sabbath,  and pork is the devil.

I am from Seventh-Day Adventists. No dancing and watches for rings. Potlucks and wading -never swimming - on Sabbath. From Christ as our Savior, the Rock of our faith.

I’m from the great golden state, both the bay and the Valley of Angels. Haystacks and fresh homemade Belgian waffles each Sunday for brunch.

From the grandfather who lost both brothers in WWII, who was brought home from the action, like in Saving Private Ryan (without all the extra drama). From the mother who awoke after 6 weeks of coma - after the doctors had given no hope, when grave plot and casket had already been bought. From the brilliant father who struggled with mental illness since just a teen and who life has never been fair to.

I am from my father's law office, where games of the Hen and the Fox kept my sister and I busy while our parents both worked.

From the child's seat on the back of my mother's bicycle, and the endless trips exploring the U.S. of A.

I am from the the cases of VHS tapes that capture our youth - that tell of the happy moments we managed to carve out those too few years before disease of the mind and injuries sustained were more powerful than their love not quite strong enough to hold us together.

I am from a history to break.


This post was written for the  Where I'm From prompt from MamaKats Writers Workshop, although I had already been writing something eerily similar - minus the poem template. 

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Heard Around, Part la cinquième (Part 5)

"More, more, more!" Annabelle cries. We're driving in the car. I have nothing 'more' to give Annabelle, but before I can say anything Eleanor pipes up with much more snark than I knew a 3 year old was capable of: 

"Not gonna happen, Annabelle! Not gonna happen!"

*                            *                                *                                    *

Eleanor spills the better part of her fruit smoothie all over her shirt and floor. I clean the mess and proceed to dump the rest of the smoothie into the sink (which wasn't much), not thinking she could finish it (sometimes I do things without thinking, yes, its true).

She climbs up with a step stool and pulls the cup down to look inside just to make sure nothing was left. She looks at me with horror and screams,

"Seriously?!" and throws the cup back into the sink. "Seriously? Next time DO NOT dump out the rest of my smoothie! I could have finished that!"

Since when did I have a sixteen year old, huh? What happened to my baby?

*                            *                                *                                    *

Annabelle mumbled something incoherently. 

"Huh? What was that, Annabelle?" Eleanor shouts, "I couldn't hear you. Say it louder! No! Louder!"

*                            *                                *                                    *

"Daddy, you have a dirty head!"

"What do you mean?" Brandon asks.

"I dunno."

"So why do you think that?"

"Mommy told me."

What a little snitch!

*                            *                                *                                    *

"Oh, my! That scared the donuts out of my mind!" Eleanor exclaims out of absolutely nowhere.
But hey, her cousin Chloe said it once and got such a good laugh - why shouldn't she try it out?

Yup. Somehow even her unoriginal and off-the-wall comments elicited the response she was looking for, I'm sorry to say.

and then after acting a little nutso she stops, laughs and says,

"What is going on in my mind?!"

I do tell her, "What are you thinking??" quite often, and  "What is that little mind of yours thinking?"

*                            *                                *                                    *

"I'm dying! I'm just dying, momma!"  Eleanor moans rolling around on the floor.

Mildly concerned I ask, "why are you dying?"

"I'm dying of hunger. My tummy is too empty!" She continues moaning while rolling around on the floor.

Clearly she has no idea what an insult that is to the billions of children around the world who really are dying of hunger.  Her comments really got to me.  I spent the day thinking about the best way to teach her about the true hunger of other kids in the world.  After doing a search on the internet I decided on  hooking up with World Vision to sponsor a child that is actually dying of hunger.  I think the biggest impact for Eleanor would to sponsor a girl with her same birthday. Then she can put a face and friend to the faceless millions of children dying of hunger around the world that need our help.

I can't wait to get started with this project.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A name change without all the hassle

A long long time ago I mentioned wanting to change the name of this here blog. I was never a fan "Musings of a Mom," but I didn't think it mattered at the time what name I gave my blog - who would be reading but me and my moms, and grandmas?  Now that I have 4 or 5 other readers, and what I write about has evolved I feel its time this blog 'grew up' a little. The first step is the name. 

I've tossed around several different ideas, none of which I felt or fit just right. 

Then my grandma told me a story. When she was a little girl every time her father would leave for a long trip (which was often) he would tell her and her siblings, "I love you more than tongue can tell!"
As a very little girl she always wondered what it meant that he loved her more than 'hotel', what hotel did he love so much?

Now say it out loud with me, "I love you more than tongue can tell!"

Say it again. 

Faster now. 

Ok stop. 

Did you have fun? I know I did.

I dare you to say it without smiling. 

Its impossible. 

I told this to Eleanor one night months ago, and it has caught on like burrs to a feral cat.  We say it to each other all the time now, and I love it. It never fails to make me smile.

For example, just a few minutes ago when I was sobbing my heart out into the pillows Eleanor came up, wrapped her little arms around me and told me "It'll be okay mommy - I love you more than tongue can tell, than tongue can tell, than tongue can tell!"  You can't keep crying after hearing that.  You just can't. 

It has been in my head for months that I wanted to change the name of this blog to sometime that reflected this refrain which we now use everyday. I finally set on More Than This Tongue Can Tell.

It epitomizes the very heart of why I love to write.  I am such a feeble speaker, my tongue does a poor job of communicating how I feel. I am much more eloquent when I write, when I can express my feelings freely and clearly. Besides you can't edit the words that pour recklessly out of an unchecked mouth. 

While this will always be a 'mom blog,' because lets face it ya'll: I'm a mom and I love my children more than this tongue of mine can tell. I'm also much more than a mom.  I'm a wife, a Christian, a writer, a photographer {albeit not a very good one, but I love taking pictures, and I love learning how to make them better}, and sometimes even a crafter {again, not a very good one, but I like to try}.   I love God and my family much more than this simple tongue of mine can tell you. I am compelled to write about the adventures we have along the way together.

I will be changing the url of the blog from its current www.musingsfrommom08.blogspot.com to simply www.heidileanne.com within the coming week, so those of you who have saved my blog as a tab in your internet browser instead of subscribing or getting an email - sometime this week when you click that tab for my blog and it takes you to a page that doesn't exist anymore all you have to do is type in www.heidileanne.com and you'll be taken to my new blog domain and don't forget to save it as a new tab.  And if you haven't a 'follower' or a 'subscriber' already, just go ahead and 'follow' or 'subscribe' already! You know you want to.   

For all the rest of my readers and subscribers and those who get the blog through email - you'll be automatically redirected to the new domain name.  Nothing will change.  Don't sweat it.  I've got it all taken care of. 

Hope ya'll stick around for all the new changes!


Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Legacy of 9/11

The phone rang waking me up from REM sleep. My head in a fog, I put the phone to my ear.

My mother's voice, laced with confusion and pain, filled my ear. "A plane has crashed into the towers. Turn on the news. Now."

In the fog of sleep that still clung to each of my senses, I failed to understand what the voice had said. What towers? A water tower? A small passenger plane?  In Napa or  maybe St. Helena?

I stumbled from my bed and turned on the TV. The images that flashed onto the screen are seared into my memory.  The sounds, still pierce my soul. The news footage, replays in my head like a bad movie that I can't turn off. I wish I could. 

I'm glad I can't. 

As much as I want to forget: I don't.

I don't want to forget that naive seventeen year old girl who only knew that the Twin Towers existed from their place in the NYC skyline. That skyline that played each week on my favorite T.V. show Friends.

That girl who had no real knowledge of the implications of the attacks when the planes crashed into the towers, into Pennsylvania, and into the pentagon.  That girl who had no idea that there were so many people in the world who hated our country so much they would kill themselves in order that we would suffer even more.

I don't want to forget that girl who had lived for too long in a bubble of her own pain and heartache. I don't want to forget how when the towers crumbled and burned to the ground, all that silly girl's pain and heartache became insignificant, meaningless. Even ridiculous. As I shed tears for the thousands that had their lives taken from them too soon, and the heroes that bravely and thoughtlessly gave theirs, their pain transcended my pain. 

I will never be that naive, self-obsessed girl again.  I will never forget how incredibly lucky I am to have my life. To have my family. To have my home. To have my God

Ten years have passed, and the strong woman I am cries again today.  This time the tears are not just of pain and confusion and fear. They are tears of sadness, yes, but that sadness has managed to be mingled with confidence, optimism, and resiliency remembering, too, that out of the ashes came not only stories of pain, but  stories of triumph and love.

I remember the childhood classmate of mine and all his comrades that lost their lives in the years that followed, fighting for the rest of us that survived that fateful day ten years ago. Died so we can continue to hang onto the lives God gave us,  the families we were blessed with, and the homes that we are able to love in together.

I remember the legacy that 'that day' has left: 

Hope. In the soon coming of the Lord. Hope that Goodness will always triumph over evil. 

Faith.  That we are in His hands at all time. Even the moments of pain and desolation. 

And Love. The way we were made to love. Like tomorrow may never come. 

But the greatest of these is love. 

Where were you? 

What legacy did 9/11 leave for you?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Developmental Milestones: Drawing Faces


Sometimes you're expecting them. Sometimes they knock your breath clean out.

I handed Eleanor a marker and a slapped a pad of paper on the fridge and told her to draw. I had too much to do for her 'help' making dinner. 

"Can you draw a face for me?" I asked Eleanor, expecting this to keep her busy for a long time. 

A few moments of peaceful quiet, and she practically shouts,

"Look mommy, do you like my face?"

I was expecting the usual scribbles.

This is what I found instead: 

Grandma asked her who she drew. "It's me!" she said proudly.  Grandma thought leprechaun, but 'me' makes more sense.

She even signed her name.

A couple of those circles are suppose to be horses and a dolphin. 

She went from drawing scribbles to drawing faces in just a second.

Makes me wonder what else she can do if I were only to ask. 

*                              *                         *
Drawing Development in Children is a fun source if you're looking to see the typical progression of children's drawings as they age.  {Note: I don't know what 14-16 year old they sampled here, but it  wasn't me! My drawing developmental cursor got stuck around age 6.}

Monday, September 5, 2011

Eighteen Months Have Come and Gone

My baby girl is a little girl now at a year and a half.  The countdown to two has begun already, and I can't help but think of the cliche, 'where has the time gone?'

Annabelle's words have exploded - and she has nearly a hundred, perhaps more.  I'm having a hard time keeping track of them on that list since each day she adds at least 4-5  new words. She does the 'point and grunt', where she wants me to tell her what the object is. I'll tell her, and she'll do her best to repeat it until she has the new word down.  Other words she'll just pop up with out of nowhere, like she's been saying them her whole life.

She is ever the outgoing, bubbly child. She laughs hard,  cries harder, and screams even louder {she is a bit on the dramatic side}. Yet she is the light of the house, and keeps us laughing and on our toes.  Eleanor even remarked the other day, "She talks a lot more than I do."  Yes, she does. She'll talk to herself if no one is listening.

She loves to pray, and when we say "We're ready to pray," she folds her hands, squints her eyes tight, brings her folded hands to cover her eyes, and says "'men!" when the prayer is over. I love this.

She loves to sing.  When we have worship and we ask her what song she wants to sing she always asks for This Little Light of Mine by holding up her finger and either blowing on it or shouting "NO!" She hums along and rocks her body holding up and moving around her finger.  She'll blow it out, and hide it under a bushel and blow it out. After we move on from the "hide it under the bushel, NO!" She keeps shouting 'No!' as loud as she can repeatedly.

She tries to sing the ABC's with us, and gets in a few letters like "b" and "g." 

She loves to mother other children.  At sabbath school this week an older boy in class had a hard time following directions of where to go, and what toy to pull out of his basket.  She helped guide him where to go and pulled out the toys that he needed to give to him.  He wasn't so keen on her help.  She wasn't phased.

She is well on her way to being potty trained.

Loves: To read, brush her teeth (or anything related to teeth), horses, doggies, and cats. She loves to eat, eats more than her sister every time.  Absolutely loves the smoothies daddy makes every morning, and asks for it all day. Corn on the cob, broccoli, and anything with 'dips' {aka ranch dressing} is a huge hit.  She loves shoes,  putting on clothes, and playing in the sprinklers or with the hose.  She loves to climb and run and be outside. She loves giving hugs and kisses, and makes the big "smack!" sound with her lips as she plants a wet one on your cheek.

Dislikes: swimming, baths, being away from me, or told what to do.

She goes to bed around 6-6:30 p.m. (she eats her supper before Eleanor, Grandma and I have our supper as beings the evening 'melt down' very early these days), and wakes up anywhere between 6-7 a.m. She always goes to bed happy and wakes up happy.   She takes one nap from about 1p.m-4p.m., and wakes up sleepy and thirsty. We cuddle in my bed until she's ready to give me her binky so she can get down to play (binkies are now strictly for sleeping). 

She plays happily with her sister, or wants to be with me helping with whatever I'm doing in the kitchen or out in the garden: I call her my "tiniest apprentice" {and Eleanor is "the apprentice"}.  She doesn't like being alone for any length of time, and protests loudly if Eleanor has to be taken out of their bedroom at night because the girls are playing and not falling asleep. 

I love my little girl, but I miss my baby.

Eighteen months have come and gone 
For momma they flew by
But for me they drug on and on
We were loading up in the Pilot
I'm trying not to cry
Momma kept on talking
'Look at that fruit fly!'
Then she took me by the hand and said
Baby don't forget -

Before you grow and fly away
You better stop the sass
There's a nifty way to obey
In case you forget your class  
Take a nap and read the Bible
If you ever lose the way

Just one more thing before you grow
Don't forget to remember us

Oh wait - that's not how the song goes? My bad. 

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Adventures in Potty Training {Part 'Little Sister'}

"Poopy, Mommy!" Annabelle called from her high chair.

I ripped her out of her high chair expecting to see that she'd already made a mess of her diaper.  Amazingly - her diaper was still clean.  I almost had forgotten what it was like to make the frantic mad dash to the bathroom, soothing "Okay hold it in, we're going to go to the potty!" all the way there.  

But we made it.  She went poop on the potty. 

Not only did she know she needed to go, she told me she needed to, and she held it until we got the bathroom, where she went without any fuss at all.

It was a beautiful, beautiful thing. 

The nice thing about potty training the second time around is that I've already studied for this test. I've got it. I'm not stressed, worried, frazzled or harried. I know what to expect, and I'm confidant.

I'd already learned before Annabelle was born {reading Diaper Free Before Three}that I needed to introduce her to the potty a lot earlier than I did with Eleanor.  We had Annabelle sitting on the toilet at 4 months when I noticed she needed to go the bathroom. {which is a little bit like Elimination Communication. But its not. We used diapers.  We did not live our lives revoling around Annabelle's bathroom needs.  If I noticed she was making the "poop face," and I was near a toilet (a rare combination) I took her to the toilet. Sometimes we made it, sometimes we didn't.

Really, its so much easier to flush a toilet than to change the poopy diaper of a squirmy baby/toddler. 

After all the times I've 'caught' Annabelle's pee/poo on the potty through the past year+, she became very very aware of her elimination needs. 

I developed a 'schedule' of taking her to the toilet after dinner. And what do you know? As soon as I sat her on the potty she would push. Whether or not she has to go, at least she would try. 

Yelling "I'm poopy!" when she was in fact poopy was a huge milestone. Then telling me she had to poop before she went was even bigger.

Which brings me to today.

Today is a big.

Since I know that diapers {and pull-ups which are glorified diapers} will only hinder her progress in toilet training, we are moving on to big girl cotton training pants (with plastic covers to help contain the messes I expect come).

Because I've done this all before I know that she needs to feel when she urinates and she can't do that with diapers or pull-ups that whisk away pee like it was never there in the first place.  If she can't feel it, she can't control it. 

I know there will be messes.  I'm equipped for them. 

I know there will be frustrations.  I'm prepared for that.

I know there will be times I want to the throw in the towel.  I'm expecting that. 

But I know she is ready for this.  And I'm ready for this too.

No more diapers {during the day} from here on out.  I am committed.

We are stocked up with five plastic covers and 12 cotton training underpants.  I have a plastic bin on the dyer to put in soiled underpants. I am mentally and physically prepared for the daily loads of underwear I may need to wash, the many trips to the bathroom.  I am prepared to give her independence if she wants privacy, but I have songs and words of encouragement if she wants me there.

We even had success leaving the house on a shopping trip today. Annabelle announced "pee-poo!" and she made it to the restroom without soiling her underwear. She's ready for this.

I know there will be set-backs. But I know that she is ready, and I am prepared. 

Bring it on potty training. We've got this.