Wednesday, July 28, 2010

"I don't sink so."

My toddler, Jenny, epitomizes both what we dread and what we love about two-year-olds. Today, when I picked her up from playgroup, I said, "Jenny, say 'thank you' to Mrs. Ferguson for the playgroup."

"No," she said stubbornly.

"Jenny," I warned. "Say 'thank you' to Mrs. Ferguson. That was really nice of her to have you for the playgroup."

"No," she said again, and added, "I don't sink so. I don't siiiink so."

With a nervous laugh, I quickly excused myself from playgroup, vowing to teach my two-year-old better manners.

Also today, Jenny saw a "Sale" sign at the store. She brought it to me, delighted that she recognized a letter of the alphabet. "A, B, C, D, E, F, G!" She cried.

"That's right, Jenny," I beamed. "Good job! Those are letters."

But Jenny wasn't finished telling me about her amazing find. "H I J K LMNOP!"

"Yes, Jenny, that's right. Those are letters." As she worked her way through the alphabet, the decibels got higher and louder.

"Q-R-S-T-U-V-W--X--Y--Z!!!!!" She screamed the end of her ABCs. As I quickly shushed her, I couldn't help but laugh. She may have disturbed everyone in the store, but there was something beautiful about a child getting so excited about something as simple as the alphabet.

As I am sitting on the bed writing this blog, Lizzy, Jenny, and Maia are in the bath--and things are going downhill.

"Mom!" Maia (8 years old) said just now, "Jenny's roughhousing!"

I guess I'd better go save the big kids from my toddler.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Jake's funny, sweet letter to his sisters

Jake has a pretty vivid writing voice--his sense of humor comes out more in his writing than anywhere else. I had to share this hilarious note I found at the bedside tables of each of his sisters. It reads:

My amazing sisters

For many of you brothers who think their sisters are idiots.

As you know, most brothers despise their sisters or are envious of them. Well, for me, they are not burdens, or pirates, or deadweights dragging me down. To me they are sweet angels that live with me. Many of you probably think I'm crazy, but I need my sisters around to keep me company. Surprisingly, they will play games I like to play like Pokemon or Star Wars. I love my sisters and so should you.

I love you girls!

Isn't that the sweetest thing you've ever seen a 10-year-old boy write to his little pesky sisters?

Monday, July 19, 2010

Lizzy's First Crush

I always wondered when my daughters would get their first crush. Maia is eight, and I've been waiting for it to happen for a while now. Little did I know that my three-year-old, Lizzy, would beat her to the punch.

Lizzy's crush is her swim teacher, Brandon. Brandon is an eighteen-year-old boy with a deep tan, broad shoulders, and white smile. All of the moms at the pool agree with Lizzy--he is cute.

Every time we go to the pool for swim lessons, Lizzy says, "I think I have my same teacher." And she lights up when she walks in and Brandon says, "Lizzy!" She was sorely disappointed last Thursday when I took her to a make-up class and Miss Heather, not Brandon, was there to greet her.

Today, she was really looking forward to seeing Brandon, whom she called "Brownie."

"I think Brownie is my teacher today," she said.

"I think you're right, Lizzy," I affirmed.

Lizzy absolutely glowed as she saw Brandon and flitted her way to the shallow end of the pool in her favorite swimsuit--a hot pink, ruched suit with a bow at the top. With the demure look of a girl in love, Lizzy approached the pool and said, "Last time I had a different teacher. I like YOU."

Surprised but pleased by the assertiveness of my little girl (who doesn't love a woman who knows what she wants and states it clearly without apologies!), Maia and I left the swim area to make a quick run to 7-11 for Slurpees. We came back to get Lizzy 20 minutes later.

When we picked up Lizzy, we said the customary "good job swimming," and she responded: "I had my same teacher."

"Do you love your teacher?" we asked.

"Yes," was her unabashed response.

"Do you want to marry your teacher?" we teased.

"Yes," she again said confidently. "Next week."

Perhaps Brandon will still be an available bachelor in 25 years, when Lizzy is allowed to date. Regardless, Brandon the Swim Teacher will go down in history as Lizzy's first love, the one she would do anything for--even jump in the pool, head-first.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Sweet Pictures for Father's Day

For Father's Day, the kids and I surprised Jeff with pictures. I have to include some of them (you're welcome, Mom and Barb!)--they're so cute! Of course, I'm partial.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Talk

This week, Jake and I had The Talk.

You know, the one that all parents dread, the one that kids laugh about to each other, the one about how babies are made.

I didn't plan on having the talk, but Jake was ready. On our way to swimming lessons on Tuesday, Jake said,

"Mom, I think it's time to have the talk."

"The talk? You mean the one about how babies are made?"

"Yes. Jason [his cousin, also age 10] told me it was time. I asked him a question, and he said, 'I think you should ask your mom that.'" I have to admit, I was pretty impressed with Jason.

Trying to get out of it, I said, "Why don't you ask your dad that?"

Jake said, "I feel more comfortable having you tell me about it." Darn.

"Okay," I said. "Let's talk."

"I also heard there was a video. Jason said we should watch a video. But I heard that it was kind of bad."


"Yes, like there was . . . umm . . . nudity in it."

I suppressed a smile, and said "oh." That was the end of Tuesday's conversation. But on Wednesday, I decided to go for it.

"Well, Jake, are you ready to have the talk?" Maia and Lizzy had just walked to the Ole Hanson pool to their swimming lessons and Jenny was asleep in the car, so Jake and I were free to talk.


"Okay, here goes." I said a quick prayer--because I certainly needed the help. And I wanted Jake to know that sex was something beautiful, not shameful, and that it was part of God's plan.

So we launched into it. The reasons for sex, the reasons to wait until you're married, why hormones are normal, and how it works. I tried to keep the conversation as simple as possible, asked Jake a few questions, and tried to make it conversational. I wanted Jake to know that he could ask me anything and that I would answer it honestly.

After I finished telling him how it works, Jake was done. "Umm, I don't want to know anymore," he said.

"Oh, okay." So I waited for him to say something. 30 seconds . . . 60 seconds . . . 90 seconds . . . but he sat there staring into space, completely expressionless. I could tell that the wheels were turning, and he was trying to figure it all out.

Finally, I rubbed his hair and said, "You okay, Jake?" He looked at me and said, "Yes. I'm okay."

We had 20 minutes left before his swimming lessons, so I said, "Is there anything else you want to ask me?" I guess he figured he'd heard it all, so he said, "Mom, why did you and Dad get divorced?" I did my best to be noncommittal on that one. Then he said, "How's our budget, Mom? Do we have enough money?"

Three huge topics in one half an hour. I was exhausted, but Jake was smiling at the end of 30 minutes. As he got out of the car for his swimming lessons, he smiled and said,

"Thanks Mom. I feel a lot better."


Thursday, July 8, 2010

"I want some cookie don't"

My Jenny is trying really hard to express herself just like her big sisters and brother. She often repeats full sentences just so she can practice. Rather than say, "I wake up, Mom!" she says, "Mommy, I wake up in the morning!"

She'll also repeat things twice. "Hi Daddy, Hi!" or "Get my bottle, Mom! Get my bottle, Mom! Get my bottle, Mom!" (In fact, I can hear her saying that right now from her crib. Better go get it. . . Okay, I'm back.)

Jenny will also take communication risks--she'll try to say anything without fear of failure. Often, her sentences are completely intelligible; but she knows what she's saying, and she's quick to rephrase when we tell her what she should say. As a result, her speech is becoming more clear every day.

Today, Lizzy and Jenny wanted a snack. Lizzy's favorite treat is cookie dough, so she asked me if I could make some. "Mom," she said. "Can you make me some cookie dough after dinner?" Jenny knew exactly what Lizzy was talking about, so she chimed in with a slight variation. "Cookie don't! Cookie don't! I want some cookie don't!"

One of the main things I learned in school is that most relationship problems are caused by a lack of communication. More specifically, sometimes we say things we don't mean--or say them in a way we don't intend--just because we don't have the tools to express ourselves well. Just like Jenny's "cookie don't," we often include errors in our communication that can actually present the opposite of what we intend. The trick is to be like Jenny: self-reflective enough to discover them and fearless enough to change them. I'm working on that.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Say it in words!

My children are astute communicators. They pick up on body language and subtle verbal cues with the best of them. Since my field is communication, I have emphasized not only which words to use or not use, but also the importance of tone, word choice, and context. Although they groan when I say, "Time for a communication lesson," they have learned to express themselves and their emotions very well.

I thought this was because of my direction, but perhaps it's in spite of it. Lately, my kids have been calling me on all of the things I tell them not to do! Take Lizzy (age 3), for example. A few days ago, she asked me a question. I was busy with something else and absent-mindedly answered, "mmm-hmmm." Lizzy immediately said, "Don't say 'mmm-hmmm,' Mom. Say it in words!" I was stunned--first, that she had listened to my droning in communication lessons, and second, that I had some terrible communication habits that even my three-year-old could pinpoint. I was a little embarrassed of myself and told her I was sorry.

Today, it happened again. "Don't say 'mmm-hmmm,' Mom. Say it in words!" Even though I was paying attention to her this time, she didn't like being talked down to. She knew she was an independent girl and wanted some respect. Nothing wrong with that. And I promised myself that I would treat my children with the same respect that I treat adults when I am conversing with them.

If anyone reads this post, I would love to know--what are some times that your children had special insight or taught you something important? Was it something that you had previously taught them and just not applied to yourself? Or was it something entirely new?

Saturday, July 3, 2010

You brushed your teeth with what?!

The other day, I was getting ready to go to lunch with a bunch of girls. I was pretty excited about it, because I always love a chance to sit, eat, relax, and talk with good friends. What could be better!

On this particular occasion, I was in a big hurry. I jumped into the shower, hurriedly put my clothes on, and was about to run out the door. Then I realized that I needed a little breath freshener. Thinking I didn't have time to brush my teeth, I reached into the medicine cabinet, pulled out a tube of toothpaste, put some on my finger, and spread it on my tongue to give my mouth that minty freshness.

When the paste reached my tongue, I realized something was dreadfully wrong. This paste didn't taste anything like my mint toothpaste. It was creamier. More bitter. Pretty disgusting.

I picked up the tube and, to my horror, read the words: "Monistat. Vulvar Cream." But I was in too big of a hurry to do anything about it and raced out the door.

My breath might not have been minty fresh, but at least it was sanitized =).

Friday, July 2, 2010

Strawberry Fields Forever

School is out for the summer! And I've been trying to think of fun things to do with my kiddies. We heard about a great place in Carlsbad, CA, where you pick your own strawberries and thought it sounded fun. So my friend Lizzy and I headed down to the strawberry fields and brought 9 kids with us!

It was a cloudy day but didn't rain--thank goodness. The kids ran back and forth through the strawberry patch, putting strawberries into their buckets, eating as many as they could stuff in their mouths, and throwing the rotten ones at each other.

Jake, my little man, was vital to the success of the operation. He and his two friends Luke and Parker made sure that the girls were fully entertained. Lizzy's twin girls, Abby and Madelyn, were particularly taken with the boys' charms.

Lizzy, ever the princess, made sure that she picked the strawberries delicately without getting her hands dirty. She also flirted a lot with Lizzy's boy Michael. We are crossing our fingers that they continue to have a crush on each other.

Maia was all business when it came to picking strawberries. Look how seriously she is taking this.

And Jenny had perhaps the most fun running through all of the rows of strawberries. I had to keep an eye on her, though, because the top of her head was barely visible above the strawberry plants.

The strawberry fields were tons of fun! The kids had a blast, and the fun continued when Maia and her friend decided to make jam two days later. That was my first time making jam, as well. It turned out as well as could be expected for two first-timers.