Category Archives: So close & yet so far…

So I’m forming a commune…who’s in?

Found out Wednesday night that my husband had a last minute work commitment pop up for Thursday morning, which meant he couldn’t take E to school…

Already knew that he had work early Friday morning (a busy week!), which meant I was on duty for school drop-off two mornings in a row…

I always miss my husband when he’s gone, but I never miss him more than at 7am when I am waking up sleeping siblings to load 4 kids in the car and get E to school on time.

I have considered other options:

(1) letting her ride the bus those mornings…However, the reality is that E doesn’t love the bus.  She really helps our family by riding the bus home every afternoon during her brothers’ naps, and we try to help her by driving her to school in the morning.  We are especially committed to this, since the bus gets to school so early that E would have to sit silently in the cafeteria until they let her in the classroom, something she asked to avoid when we originally made our grand-scheme, first-grade transportation plans.

(2) letting her carpool with a friend…and we have done this at least 3 times, but they haven’t needed us to return the favor and I was trying to avoid leaning on them again.

(3) letting her be late, which I did once when a sibling was ill, only to end up feeling horrible because (what are the chances?) she missed morning announcements on the one day they played the video of her doing a book review…three days before they were supposed to play it, by the way.  Irritation, and mommy guilt overdrive (alleviated only slightly when E’s student teacher arranged for the announcements to be played again just for E…thank you, Ms. S!)

So Thursday, I was prepared to wake and load everyone, then pleasantly surprised when all the siblings were unexpectedly up and ready to go on their own…10 minutes before we actually needed to leave!  Knowing disaster (or a poop, or a scraped knee, or traffic, or a meltdown…) could strike at any moment, I went ahead and put everyone into the car.

Well, we arrived a few minutes before they opened the classrooms, and knowing E didn’t like sitting in the cafeteria, I simply circled the parking lot a few times (keeping the car moving so H wouldn’t scream) waiting until the moment when I could drop her off knowing she could walk right into her room.

E was confused (I mean, we are rarely early!  I’m sure it was disorienting for everyone!),  and she asked why we were circling.  When I explained, she said, “Oh!  You can let me out now!  They started reading stories to the cafeteria kids, and I don’t mind sitting and listening.”

“Are you sure?” I asked her.  “I can easily park for a minute, or circle a few more times.  The classrooms will be open in less than 5 minutes.”

“I’m sure”, she told me.  And I let her go in.

E didn’t mention anything about her morning experience during our “how was school” conversation yesterday, and I didn’t think any more about it until this (Friday) morning, when I knew I would need to load everyone up again.

This (Friday) morning was different than Thursday.  Everyone was sleeping late, and I was dreading getting them all up and into the car.  T had been up all night.  And I mean up to the point that at 1:30am, I finally put my computer in his room and played a Dora video so I could nurse H and get myself ready for bed.  Short version: I knew he needed to sleep and was loathe to wake him up, along with S & H who were also still sleeping at 7am.

So I got E ready very quickly and at 7:05, I asked her the million dollar question.  All her siblings were asleep.  I didn’t want to wake them.  It was too last-minute to arrange a carpool.  And being late wasn’t an option, because her class was going on a field trip to the Science Museum.  So, I asked her, “E, how would you feel about riding the bus this morning and letting everyone else sleep in?  You could listen to the stories in the cafeteria just like you did yesterday.”

“I don’t want to, mom.  Please drive me.”

So I did.

We had 10 extra minutes before we had to wake everyone, and we spent it on the couch, with her reading me a story.  I felt good about that, and then felt horrible as I woke up the siblings to load everyone in.

Well, don’t you just love it when that bad feeling gets so much worse?  Because as we pulled into the parking lot, E asked me, “Are we early again, mom?”

“No.  Right on time today.  You should walk down to your classroom.”

“Good”, she said.

“Why?” I asked her, “Did you not enjoy being in the cafeteria yesterday while they were reading the stories?”

“No.  A bad thing happened.”

“What?!  What happened?”

“I don’t want to talk about it.”

“Are you sure?  I’m so sorry something bad happened.  Are you sure you don’t want to tell me?  Is it something I can help with, because I can park the car and we can all go in?”

“No.  I don’t want to talk about what happened.  I accidentally went in to the gym yesterday instead of the cafeteria, and that’s where the older kids [grades 2-5]  wait for their classrooms to open.”

My heart totally sank for E.  And I fought my desire to know every detail so I could offer every comfort because (1) she didn’t want to talk about it, and (2) I didn’t want to make her relive a bad moment, and get upset, right as she was about to walk back into the school.

So at this point, I still have no idea what happened.  Was the bad thing that she went into the wrong room and was embarrassed about that?  Or did something bad happen in the room…maybe an older kid teasing her about something else?  I don’t know how much to push her to talk about it.  If it’s something I can help her sort through or offer comfort about, then maybe pushing is worth it?  But she said very clearly that she didn’t want to talk about it (at least right then).

Anyway, we did get some quality family time this afternoon.  We surprised E by picking her up from school (no bus today!) and taking her to cash in the “free coke” coupon she won recently.  We also picked up the pottery piece she painted with Grammy during her visit last week (held at the store for glazing…E was so excited to get it today…thank you so much Grammy!), and checked the bike store for the third time in two weeks to see if any good used girls bikes had come in (and one had!  we currently have it for a trial period, but I think it’s going to be perfect…)

(And lest you think the other kids were neglected, there were a few fun things thrown in for them too – suckers at the pharmacy where we picked up E’s asthma medicine, ice cream cones after dinner, a set of used bases for family T-ball games from the sports store, etc.)

Nothing uber-fancy…all things we were going to do at some point…but today seemed like good timing…a fun post-school pick-up for the girl that has done the post-school bus ride for the rest of us all year.

And a distraction for the mama that wants the schoolyear to end so she can put her kids back into the little bubble – for just a little while – that is our family.

Not that we don’t have our moments…but at least I know most of what happens, who needs to say sorry, what my kids are feeling (and why and when).

Anyone want to throw all the “we need to stop micromanaging our kids’ lives” articles into the garbage and form a helicopter-parenting commune where everyone is required to be nice to everyone else all the time?  (Kidding, with just a hint of wistfulness…)

Love you, E.

So much.

(and if anyone out there actually runs with the idea of a non-creepy commune of niceness, our family is in : )

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Quotes of the Day

I don’t even know which one of these counts as yesterday’s “quote of the day”:

Quote 1:

T, after earning the first sticker for his “patient” chart (our latest attempt at teaching our beloved 2 year old to wait without whining)

photo-22 copy

“I got a sticker for my patient chart!  I want another one RIGHT NOW!”

Quote 2:

Overhearing S telling T,

“It just makes sense!  Girls and boys get married and they have some kids.  So if two girls got married they could have lots of kids.  And if two boys got married they would have no kids.  Because girls are the ones who have babies.”

Did I mention she is 5 years old?  And explaining things to her 2 year old brother?  Any volunteers to field the follow-up to this conversation?

Quote 3:

Me, greeting the other parents at the bus stop at 2:30pm, with my three pre-school aged children in tow:

“Can I get away with pretending that we are all in pajamas because we are ready for afternoon naps?  Or is it obvious that we just never got dressed today?”

I mean, honestly, at what hour do you decide it’s pointless to dress them?  If we haven’t gotten around to it by 3pm, then truly it’s counterproductive, right?

So which do you think is the true “quote of the day”?   I just couldn’t decide…

my day…on the half hour

I don’t have the energy to comment on my day, so I’ll just give you the “on the half hour” recap and let you interpret for yourself.  Here it goes…

12:30am…I’ve slept two hours straight…could be a good night…

1:30am…uh oh…awake, achy, sore & feeling fluish…I know this drill…Mastitis

2:30am…still awake, still feeling icky & now feeding a hungry H

3:30am…too uncomfortable to sleep… decide if I’m up, I should be productive so I start doing the dinner dishes  I had abandoned on the kitchen counter

4:30am…a break from dishes to change T’s diaper after a middle of the night poop and a half hour to get him back to sleep

5:30am…I fall asleep

6:30am…husband , H and I all awakened by E coming into the room; time to get the day started; hey, at least the kitchen is clean

7:30am…E is dressed, fed, her lunch has been packed, her coat and backpack are ready and she is headed out the door with dad who will drop her at school; I need to get the rest of the kids and myself ready because we leave in 20 minutes for my 8am dentist appt.

8:30am…I am at the dentist office, midway through my appointment.  Our babysitter is in the next room/lobby with three of the kids since that was the only way our timing/sitter logistics could work out today.  I am concerned she may begin screening my calls, since I can hear H screaming while she tries to help T change pants (because, of course, this was the day he wanted to wear big boy underpants for the first time ever…grand scheme-this is a good thing – HOORAY, T!!! – but my poor saint-of-a-sitter…I lugged a portable potty around all day, by the way…), while S is announcing over the din that the water won’t stop coming out of the water cooler and is that why T filled 4 cups of water without drinking any??? because she didn’t think we were allowed to do that…  I eventually left the chair and went to the lobby to help.  Dental bibs make pretty good nursing wraps, by the way…

9:30am…ignoring my cell phone ring as I drop S off to preschool half-an-hour late, then checking this voicemail in the parking lot, “Mrs. S?  This is X from the dentist office.  I believe you might have left a small toilet in our lobby.  Would you mind coming back to pick that up?  I’m so sorry we didn’t notice it before you pulled out of the parking lot.”

I’ll bet.

10:30am…at our weekly Wednesday playgroup,with our potty in tow.  T is ecstatic because playgroup is at the library’s storytime session, the book theme for the day is “dinosaurs” and – coincidentally – he has a dinosaur on his shirt.  (He did have dinosaurs on his pants too, but we left that pair at the dentist office)

11:30am…at the doctors, where I am officially diagnosed with Mastitis

(by the way, has anyone reading this post noticed that it’s only 11:30am at this point?!?!  I just had to highlight that for a second…I’ll get back on track now…)

12:30pm…at the pharmacy, picking up meds, which I realize I can’t take yet because I just had lunch they must be taken 2-3 hours after eating.  whoops.

1:30pm…arriving home after picking up S from preschool and realizing that I haven’t changed H’s diaper since we left the house at 7:45am this morning.  As luck would have it, I was unable to locate any diapers this morning other than T’s, so 4 month old H was wearing a diaper designed for a 2 year old.  Worked like a charm (though after almost 6 hours, I’m not sure which weighed more, H or the diaper he was wearing…)

2:30pm…helping everyone into coats in preparation for walking out to pick up E from the bus stop and finally getting to take my first dose of medicine, which will hopefully cure the Mastitis and all the flulike symptoms it has bestowed on me today…chills, aches, fatigue, the works!

3:30pm…snacks and stories with the kids after school…today’s picks: Little House on the Prairie (E),  Dr. Seuss (S) and Mo Willems (T) for mom to read, and a Magic Treehouse book that E reads to us as part of her homework each day

4:30pm…laundry during the kids’ “quiet time”, because we’re on our 4th pair of big boy pants already…

5:30pm…baths for everyone, because I was too tired yesterday (and the day before)

6:30pm…made and served dinner for everyone (except me, since it’s time for more medicine, which means I can’t eat for an hour).  Did I mention that I’m supposed to take these pills 4 times a day, always on an empty stomach, while nursing a newborn?!

7:30…big kids in bed, sort of…dinner for me…

8:30…E re-emerges; T starts hollering through his monitor that he needs a tissue, and H is ready for his dinner

9:30…blog post, then bed, because tomorrow there are 2 teacher conferences, a birthday party, choir practice, E’s weekly homework completion deadline, and Science night at her school…

Maybe they have a scientific sleep-study in need of participants!

Or maybe someone wants to research the societal reaction to the random scattering of small toilets throughout the community on a given day!

Either way, I’m in.

You’d think I’d be better at this by now…

More catching up from 2012…

In the last post I emphasized how excited we all were to meet baby H.  The kids were naturally excited, and we encouraged that, telling them all what great siblings they would be, how much the new baby would love them, showing them the ultrasound pictures, reading books about new babies, moving all the car seats around early (so no one felt displaced or relocated right after the baby was born), etc.  We heightened the excitement by telling them we thought the new baby might even bring them a present and by letting them place a hand on mom’s tummy to feel their new sibling give them a high five.

We thought we had done a pretty good job preparing them, until they all came in to meet baby H just hours after he was born.  The girls (ages 6 & 4) were thrilled to meet him and thrilled with their gifts – little wooden dolls they could cover in paint and glitter.  Both greeted their new brother then immediately started doing their designs on the couch of our room.

T (age 2) was also thrilled to meet his little brother and ecstatic over his present – a train named “Diesel 10”.  In fact, he was so excited about the gift that he actually wanted to call his new brother “Diesel” (which I thought was an awesome moniker, by the way…and the nurses told us since H was at least 2 lbs bigger than everyone else in the nursery, he would have been totally able to carry the name…)

Well, it was all going swimmingly until two year old T paused from his train play, walked back over to me to take another look at the new brother I was holding, and said,

“He’s so cute!  But where is his mom???”

Oops.

Cue the damage control monologue from me:

“Oh!  T!  Sweetie!  You know how I’m your mom and E’s mom and S’ mom at the same time?  Well, I’m his mom too!  I’m going to be everybody’s mom.  And, as your mom, I’m telling you that I love you so much! And now he loves you too!  Isn’t that good?!”

“Oh!” T says, totally taking that in stride (to my great relief).  And then he follows up with this…

“Guess what?! I brought the new baby a present!  It’s a choo choo…”

To which I respond, “T, that is SO NICE of you!  I see it!  It’s one of your choo choo’s!  And you’re going to share it with our new baby?! That is SO NICE!  He just loves it; will you show him how to play with it?  He’ll learn so much from you!”

To which T responds, “Yes!  I will!  And I really want him to have it! (and this next part said with such wonderful intent and complete pride in his generosity as a big brother… ) “You know, when he leaves the hospital, he can even take this train back to HIS house with him!!!”

Oops, again.

I guess somehow, in all the baby prep and high fiving and “you’ll be a great big brother!”, we neglected to state in a very pointed and specific way that the new baby would be coming back to our house and living with us.

Quite an oversight.

And while normally, there might have environmental cues for T (such as a crib for the new baby to sleep in our house…), the reality at was that we began a massive renovation just a few days after H was born (a month-long 3 room construction project).  In other words, while our hearts were completely ready for H, his room didn’t get built until many weeks after he was born!  Our environmental cues were all chaos, blueprints and contractors, with no sign of a crib!

Fortunately, T was ecstatic to hear that we got to keep the new baby at our house.  (Beyond ecstatic…jubilant!)

Whew.

Still, I am astounded that with all our baby prep, we never managed to convey specifically to T that I would be the new baby’s mother, and that the new baby would be coming to live in our house.

Don’t know how I missed that 2012 Mother of the Year title…

: )

Thank God for my wonderful, loving, open-armed (albeit unprepared-despite-my-best-efforts) kids.

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labor pains for the husband (more out-takes from 2012…)

More stories from the last few months…

Actual text message exchange between my husband and me, two weeks before baby H was due last October.  My husband left for work that morning hoping to finish early enough to attend T’s class picnic dinner.  I texted him that afternoon, as I was packing the picnic basket.

The exchange…

Me:  “Leaving soon.  Should I pack a sandwich for you?”

His response: “WHAT?!  Leaving for the hospital?  Are you in labor?”

My response: “Leaving for T’s picnic.”

Send.

Then, unable to resist, me again…

“But I love that you think I would be at home, with three children, in labor, needing to get to the hospital, and would stop everything to text you and see if I should pack you a sandwich.”

My husband: “Ha, Ha.  I’ll take turkey.”

In all fairness to my husband, I did have him (and myself, and my sister who was visiting and helping us) spooked, announcing on several occasions that I thought I was in labor before the actual event.  The best false alarm was when I was having contractions 4-5 minutes apart while sitting on the couch, encouraging him to pack his bag and load the car.  When he was completely ready, I got up and said we should leave as soon as I had eaten something (knowing they wouldn’t let me have anything at the hospital…)  Mid-snack, the contractions stop completely and I said, “Huh.  I think the contractions stopped!  I really do.  I think we can just go to bed.”

To which my husband replied, “You’re kidding, right?  Because it’s 10pm, and I just chugged 3 Mt. Dews!

Sheepish silence from me.

Uncontrollable laughter from my sister!

(Oh, newborn baby H, the main thing you should take from these stories is that your daddy was very, very eager to meet you.  We all were.  And you made us wait 6 days past your expected delivery date!)

Why? Which character did you think I would be?

So my brain has been operating on a delay recently…

I could offer a litany of excuses: long-term sleep deprivation, pregnancy brain (I hear recent studies show it’s a real thing, you know…), an overwhelming end-of-school calendar, low iron-levels (which mean fatigue and slower cognitive function, apparently), or simply the one billion distractions that hit every day and cause me to lose focus on whatever task was supposed to be at hand…

What was I talking about again?

Oh, right…My brain…

Anyway, I asked my husband last week if he had noticed that my mental capacities seemed to be failing more often during these frenzied last few weeks of school.  He wisely responded, “That is a trick question that I refuse to answer.”

But kids will always tell you the truth, even when you don’t ask them.

Perhaps that’s why last week, after S had to remind me THREE times that I had been walking across the kitchen to get her drink out of the fridge

(seriously, three of those “What was I doing in the kitchen again?” moments within a span of ten minutes…)

Anyway, after she had to remind me three times that I had been walking across the kitchen to get her drink out of the fridge, I finally said, “I’m so sorry, S!  I think there’s something wrong with my brain today!”

To which she responded, “I know!  You’re like Dory from Finding Nemo!”

She then launched into the song from the Finding Nemo musical.  Dory sings,

I guess I should explain…
I got this problem with my brain…
Things get really scrambled in my head…
I have no short term memory…
I forget things almost instantly…
I’m not even sure what I just said…

La La La La La La La…

Can you imagine?!  With all our expertise in every princess and heroine to ever grace the pages of a storybook, I am most closely associated with the forgetful fish.

Oh well.  At least Dory is known for being positive through it all.  I’ll just try to focus on that part of it, and do a better job of emulating her cheery outlook.  How does her other song go, again?  That’s right…

Just keep swimming, just keep swimming.  Everything will be ok…

Tiny Souls; Big Responsibility

Rev. Dr. John Westerhoff, author of “Will Our Children Have Faith?” (full disclosure: I have never read the book), hosted a Q&A in our Christian Parenting Sunday School class this weekend.

My husband asked him if he had one piece of advice for the parents of young children, what it would be.

He responded by saying he would say three things:

 

(1)  Relax.

(2)  Be yourselves, and

(3)  Do things with your children, instead of for them or to them.

 

That’s pretty good advice, in my opinion.

He also answered lots of questions about how to teach children about spirituality.  The questions approached the issue from a variety of angles: how to help a child sort out real vs. not real (e.g. Bible stories, childhood characters, etc.), how to help children pray and understand prayers that seem to have gone unanswered, etc.

His answers had one basic theme. That theme was, work on your own faith, and you will more naturally become an example for – and understand how to help – your children.  From a slightly different angle, instead of trying to figure out what to teach your kids about a particular topic, figure out what you really believe and tell them that.

That seems like such a simple principle, but I will admit that it had eluded me until Dr. Westerhoff said it so plainly.  Before we struggle with how to convey our beliefs to our children, we have to know what we believe.

Maybe the kids are struggling with the reality of some Old Testament stories as they learn that their favorite Disney characters are make-believe.  Well, before answering their questions, we need to ask ourselves, “What do we really believe about the Bible?”

Before dealing with a child’s frustrations over prayers for a grandparent who is still sick, we need to ask ourselves “Well, what do we really believe about prayer?”

The shift in thinking struck a particular chord with me because my husband and I have been trying to figure out how to expose the kids to two different strands of the Christian tradition (My husband is Catholic; I considered myself a non-denominational Protestant until joining a Methodist Church several years ago and still prefer to be simply identified as “Christian”).

As we do this, I have been constantly asking myself, “What parts of each of our traditions would be important for the kids to experience?”

After hearing Dr. Westerhoff, I now believe I’ve been asking the wrong question. Instead of making the primary inquiry, “What would be good for the kids?”, my husband and I should be asking each other, “What parts of your faith background are important for you to experience as a part of your spiritual journey and commitments?”    If we both (1) carefully consider that question, (2) answer it honestly, (3) commit to experiencing those essential elements as a family (when it is age-appropriate for the kids to be involved and church-sanctioned to have a non-member spouse participate), and then (4) really think about all of it in terms of what overall experience that creates from the perspective of the kids, then we have our family’s spiritual roadmap.

I was greatly relieved to have a new framework, until I realized how much thoughtful work was going to be involved in this new approach.  So I leave you with this question:

Does anyone have any advice on how to answer such big questions relatively quickly while spending the bulk of our days chasing young children?  Because it would be nice to figure out what we believe and how to teach that before our kids are completely grown!

(I say this somewhat facetiously, because honestly, one of my key beliefs is that there are a few BIG TRUTHS we need to affirm over-and-over with our children (this is important), but the rest of the kids’ questions are ok for me to answer with, “Different people believe different things about that”, then ask the kids what they think, and admit that aside from those BIG TRUTHS, there are a lot of things I just really don’t know…”)

 

P.S.   I am still sorting all this out in my head and have mixed in my thoughts about specific issues (like beliefs about scripture and prayer) with my thoughts about an overall approach for choosing our family’s spiritual path.  That may mean this post comes across as confusing…My apologies if any part of it doesn’t make sense.

OK, I won’t send the photo…but I’m going to have it in my backpack during the next teacher conference (you know, just in case…)

I volunteered in E’s class today, helping the Kindergarteners during their “writer’s workshop”.

In a variation from my normal volunteer routine, I was instructed “not to help E” during the first half of the class, as she was completing “an important writing assessment”.

I was able, however, to catch a glimpse of her work and overhear part of her conversation with the teacher as I helped a few other kids.

E’s assignment was to write and illustrate two sentences about a real-life event.

Of course, E wrote (in her Kindergarten phonics), that just last week her sister rode on a swing that did loops around a clock in a big mouse’s house.

And then she drew exactly that in the space designated for the illustration.

I have decided NOT send the teacher this picture (of E’s sister, taken at Chuck-E-Cheese, exactly one week ago this evening…not pictured: the mouse mascot…).

I think sending it (while intended to convince the teacher that E does have a grasp of reality), might have the opposite effect of convincing her the whole family is nuts!

Unique experiences; equal love (Alternate title: seriously, why do the roses hate me?)

Our church hosts a Daddy-daughter Valentine’s Day dance for girls ages 5 and up.  That meant that this year, E (age 5) was able to attend with her dad.  So fun…

Unless you’re S, who (turning 4 less than a week after the dance) was both too young to attend and too little to grasp the concept of “be happy for your sister; your time will come”.

So with a goal of “let’s create a special event for both girls and encourage them to celebrate each other’s good fortune” – my husband and I came up with the following plan:

(1)  Thursday night: Dad would take S to a Valentine’s event at a local kids’ museum.

(2)  Friday night: Dad would take E to the church Valentine’s dance

Two great events, positioned back-to-back… a perfect way to celebrate each girl in a way that would be unique and fun.

To perfect the plan, we used info from friends who had attended the events in previous years to make the nights match as much as we could in terms of tangible experience. For example, since E was getting a rose from the church on her date night, I took S to a flower shop and let her pick out any one flower she wanted for her date with dad.  As it turns out, the woman who ran the flower shop so appreciated what we were trying to do that she gave S a whole little bunch of lavender flowers for her special date.  And the man at the ice cream store next door caught wind of it and gave everyone with us a free miniature cone.

Have I set the stage completely enough?  Is everyone ready for the disaster to unfold?

On Thursday night, S – who loves her dates with dad more than anything in the world – cried at the ice cream shop because she wanted mom to come on the date too.

Mom explained that she could come too, but that she couldn’t leave E & T, so it would be a whole family event.  That was fine with S.  In fact, she was thrilled.

I was suspicious, because I know S is smart.  She is usually about 10 steps ahead of me in the emotional game.  But I am learning, so on this occasion, I recognized what was coming, and made sure to carefully explain that while it was fine for the whole family to go to the museum if that was what S really wanted, that would not mean the whole family was going to the church dance the next night.  The invitation had only been for kids 5 and older; it was not up to us.

S said she understood.

The whole family had a wonderful time at the museum (although mom had only packed dinner for S since everyone else was supposed to be traveling home, which meant we all had museum-served yogurt-covered pretzels for dinner.  Oh well.)

The next night was dad’s date with E.

As anticipated, the wonderful S (who is really still so very little…) cried when dad left for the dance with E and reminded all of us that she had included everyone on her special evening.  Mom decided to cushion the blow by offering dinner in a bowl with popcorn and a movie.  (And may I say, “whatever” with regards to the rapid decline in my mealtime offerings that week.  I decided in that moment that the whole concept of good nutritional choices on any days near a holiday – including Valentine’s Day –  is overrated and bunk.)

While at the dance Friday, E sweetly (unprompted by any adults) put the director of the event on the spot by asking if she could take home an extra rose for her sister.

(I hope the sensitivity and niceness of my children is coming through here…S making every effort to be all-inclusive; E doing everything in her 5 year old power to include S in the fun.)

The director of the event (who is God’s gift to children and families, in my honest opinion…I just love her…) commended E on her thoughtful nature and selected the two most beautiful roses – and I mean absolutely equally gorgeous – one for E to keep and one to surprise S with at home.

But here’s what those equally gorgeous roses looked like after a few days.

Can you tell from the image that one rose is blooming beautifully and one is totally dark and shriveled?  Fortunately, neither girl is focused on which rose is whose.  (Thank goodness I put all the flowers in the same vase without even thinking.)

But seriously, what are the chances?

We did everything we could – not to treat the girls the same… but to make them both feel as loved as possible in unique ways.

My final attempt at conveying a positive message to the girls is posting this story so that if someday, they ever feel like someone is being favored, they can see how – from the very beginning (I mean they are too young to even remember these events!) – we were working very hard to celebrate them individually, in different ways but with equal vigor!

Even when the roses fail us, we will never give up on that effort!

(I may give up on the roses, though.  Can I ask again… what are the chances of that after everything that was done?!)

Oh well.

Love you, S.  Love you, E.  (Both of you, so much.)

(And T, so you will know you are equally loved and were not forgotten in this post, I will reveal that you enjoyed the yogurt-covered pretzels and popcorn more than anyone, and were the only member of the family who rolled through the whole week wondering what on earth all the fuss was about.  Ah, the joys of being one!)

For the record, I didn’t know about the spitting, and there’s really not an *excessive* amount of chocolate or beer.

Part of a standard toddler pediatric check-up is responding to the question: “Has your child used two words in sequence in a meaningful way?”  Apparently, doctors are seeking a positive response accompanied by an example such as, “More milk” or “Hi Mama”.

Well, T just enabled us to check that box this morning.  Guess what he said?

“Chock good!”

In case you are wondering, “chock” is his word for “chocolate”.  Yes, my toddler-aged son’s first phrase, forever to be noted on his medical record, reassures the doctor that while his language development is progressing quite nicely, his nutritional exposures might need a little more work…

Oh well.

A pediatrician friend told me that she once asked a young mother the same question during one of the check-ups, emphasizing that the two word combos had to be distinct words (i.e. not “night-night” or “bye-bye”).  That mother’s response?

“He says, ‘da*#  dog’.  Does that count?”

At the very least, you gotta respect that mama’s honesty!  For us, I am usually playing “duck and cover” while the kids are letting everything out.

Here’s a few examples:

During one appointment, the doctor prescribed medicine for S and encouraged her to drink it by telling her it tasted like root beer.  “My dad is the one who drinks beer in our family”, S told her.

During another appointment, the doctor asked E if she washed her hands before mealtime.  E said, “Yes.  And if we’re at the park and there’s no sink, I just use spit to clean my hands”.  (I promise you I had no idea this was happening, but – heaven help me – E spit right there in the exam room to show the doctor how she could use rub her hands with saliva .)

Fortunately, our pediatrician “gets it”.  Or at least she seems to when we laugh it off at the office.

Of course, I have absolutely no idea what she’s writing down on the kids’ charts.