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Thursday, September 25, 2014

Thoughts on Little Boys Growing Up

Earlier this week I received an email from Andrew who was at work. The topic of the email is an issue that has been near and dear to my heart recently. I wasn't expecting this email from him and I had no idea that he had taken my disjointed, rather one-sided conversations about the issue to heart as well and had been thinking about what to do to fix the situation. As the (sometimes over-) emotional one in the relationship I often feel like I'm the only one who ever worries about these things. It was nice to hear the same concerns in his voice. Here's the email. Minus a few words meant only for me. :)
So I wanted to write a note about the kiddos. Now I hope I'm conveying this concept correctly but if not (and of course as always) feel free to discuss it with me (and I'm sure you are aware of it and all so let's not have that discussion).

So Lily was born a tiny, wrinkled, pooping machine. And we loved her and we knew she would be capable and awesome. Of course Reuben followed in those steps. And that is the problem. See, he is following Lily and we see that.

In other words, we don't see him as blazing his own trail. Lily gets to sit on the stove/counter while you make pancakes, but Reuben (often because he didn't get there first) is left standing. We don't see Reuben as being as capable as Lily because we see how capable Lily is and are "waiting" for Reuben to reach her level.

So I think that is why he is very frustrated so much. I know that we don't get down on his level and take time with him. I know that we don't teach him sign language (which he loves) any more. We just don't do the many things with Reuben that we did with Lily and I think we need to re-focus and re-evaluate our approach until we treat him like he is the first born also.

Do you know what I mean?
I stood there in my kitchen holding my phone in my hands and crying tears of joy. Yes. Yes I do know what he means. He gets it. He was able to put into words what I've been feeling but didn't quite know how to say. Something I couldn't quite put my finger on but knew something wasn't right. Something was missing.

I often reminisce about the time when Lily was really little. About 6 months old or so. We were living with Andrew's parents for the time being. They have a house in the country and we had two small rooms to ourselves. The door to the outside world was always open and we would often sit out there on a blanket, just the two of us, "talking" to each other, playing with blades of grass and laying on our backs watching the sun filter through the trees. We spent so much time together, just her and I.

I've never had that with Reuben. From the very beginning of his life he's had to share me with an older sister. There have been moments here and there where its just been him and I, but most of the time my attention is divided. He's always been content to play by himself or with his sister. He doesn't require a lot of attention. As a result I've always let him do his own thing and I've watched him grow into a capable little guy. But at the same time I would like to have those moments with him too and I don't know but maybe he feels the same but not knowing any different just goes along with things as usual. I want those moments though. Moments where we can just soak each other up, enjoying the small, insignificant details about each other. I know its not too late.

Another thing is I'm constantly comparing him to Lily, developmentally speaking. Ok, maybe constantly is a strong word, but the mentality of comparison is there. I've tried hard not to do it knowing full well that he will blossom in his own time. Usually it comes down to his speech. Lily was speaking in completely intelligible 4 word sentences at 18 months old. Reuben at 27 months old occasionally speaks in 3 word sentences that are sometimes difficult to decipher. Lily was also using her sign language well past 2 years old whereas Reuben has all but dropped his. I think because of all this I often look at him as less competent than Lily. He has a tough time conveying his needs and wants so I find myself doing things for him or guessing at what he needs (and sometimes getting it wrong) and not giving him the independence he wants.

Ever since reading that email I've been making a conscious effort to let Reuben do things first more often. Also making sure that he gets to try doing things on his own such as putting on his shoes instead of me quickly doing it so that we can get out the door faster. Lily gets herself dressed head to toe every morning but I find myself doing everything for Reuben. So this is going to be a change in mindset from "but he's my baby!" to realizing that he's a competent little boy who wants to do these things for himself. I need to step back and allow him the time and space to work on his own abilities. There probably won't be frustration free moments all around (at least not on my part) but its a step in direction of letting Reuben pave his own way.

I've also been working on fitting in moments during the day to focus on him whether its as simple as a secret smile meant only for him or sitting down, just the two of us, to read some of his favorite books. He may not completely understand what's going on, but I know he loves those special times and they mean so much to me.

Thank you Andrew for speaking "out loud" what was on my heart. I'm glad you understand.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Conversation With My Daughter: The Little Mommy Edition

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May 17
Lily (watching Reuben eat his snack): This kid sure likes goldfish!

May 20
Lily (sitting on my lap getting a head massage): Ahhhhh! I needed that.

May 27
Lily (with hand on hip): How can the (ceiling) fan be scary without a imagination? But if you draw a face on it then it will be scary! And I will say "ahhhhhhh!"

May 31
Lily (protesting the pace at which we were walking): I'm a little girl. I can't walk as fast as you.

June 2
Lily: Tomorrow can we go to the hospital and get a baby?

June 5
Mom: I don't want you kids getting in the dirt and then going in your pool. You're going to get the water all dirty and then you won't want to play in it.
(pause to think about it)
Mom: Ya know what? Never mind. As long as you're having fun.
(turn to walk back into the house)
Lily: We're having fun! We're being kids and getting dirty!

June 7
Mom (driving the car on our way home from church): Did you like the puppets?
Lily: I love you and all...Its just that I don't like yogurt...I want to stop buying yogurt.

June 7
Lily (tucked in bed for the night): I ate your hair Mommy. Its lemon flavored. I have lemon flavored hair too. Actually I have watermelon flavored hair. (smiles a happy little smile with her eyes closed as she cuddles her blanket close) We can talk about that tomorrow.

June 9
Lily (to Reuben): You’re stepping on me and my bones that are in my skin!

June 11
Lily: It’s ok to cry and freak out.

June 15
Lily: Reuben this way! Focus on what I'm doing! (follows him) Focus...focus...focus little man!

June 16
Lily: Mom when we get home can we watch TV? Cause its been quite a day.

June 16
Lily: You know Mom, I'll never stop loving you.

June 17
Mom (watching Lily chew on a hanger): Is that hanger tasty?
Lily: Yes. And its refreshing too!

Friday, September 19, 2014

4 Years Old

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^Taken on June 27 at 10 something am. Four years to the minute (plus a few) that she was born.^

Inspired by this idea I found on Pinterest I asked Lily these same questions last year and will ask her every year till she's oh, probably 18.

1. What is your favorite color? Pink
2. What is your favorite toy? A car
3. What is your favorite fruit? Apple
4. What is your favorite tv show/movie? Tinkerbell
5. What is your favorite thing to eat for lunch? Macaroni and cheese
6. What is your favorite outfit? My bee dress
7. What is your favorite game? Pirate game (Lego video game)
8. What is your favorite snack? English muffin with peanut butter
9. What is your favorite animal? Giraffe
10. What is your favorite song? Cotton Eye' Joe
11. What is your favorite book? Panda book
12. Who is your best friend? Emilie
13. What is your favorite cereal? Cinnamon cereal (Chex)
14. What is your favorite thing to do outside? Play with cars
15. What is your favorite drink? Orange juice
16. What is your favorite holiday? Birthday
17. What do you like to take to bed with you at night? Sophie
18. What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast? Cheerios
19. What do you want for dinner on your birthday? Macaroni and cheese
20. What do you want to be when you grow up? Go on the computer

For Lily's big day back in June we celebrated in much the same way as we did Reuben's. It was a quiet and relaxing afternoon just family, food and the great outdoors of Central Maine. Late morning we drove into town, picked up my sister Lydia, grabbed some food items at the supermarket and headed to the park for lunch. We were the only ones there and the kids had so much fun running around, playing on the playground and dunking their toes in the cold...nay...frigid pond. I am so appreciative that my children find immense pleasure in activities that don't require electronics of any kind. In fact they prefer to have their fun that way. Countless times I've watched Lily turn the TV off here at home and tell her brother "Let's go play outside!" We've consciously worked towards instilling in our children a love for nature and the joy that can be found in doing simple things like building blanket forts in the living room or having spray bottle battles outside. Its nice to see our efforts pay off.

But wow. My little girl is 4. Nobody warned me about 4 year olds. They have minds of their own. ;) Hers is pretty special. And opinionated. I'm enjoying learning how to parent a preschooler. Its challenging I'll give you that, but my goodness, is it ever rewarding. I'm never short on conversation around the house. She's an excellent conversationalist and brings up topics that I wouldn't have thought of and looks at things from an entirely unique perspective. I love the minds of children, as yet untouched by the expectations of the world. She makes my day brighter and I'm so happy for the privilege of calling her my daughter. Lily Bean, I love you sweetheart.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

2 Years Old

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Reuben turned 2 back in June while we were on vacation visiting my family in Maine. This is the second year we've combined Lily and Reuben's birthdays and had one party. This year we celebrated with a large family gathering (which really isn't too difficult to achieve since my immediate family is quite large in itself) at the lake on the last Sunday in June. The kids loved swimming and playing on the playground with all of their cousins and I loved being able to relax knowing someone had an eye on my kids at all times. Several days before the big party though, we honored our birthday boy on his actual birth day by doing a couple of things that he likes to do. Since it was rather overcast that day we couldn't do what he really wanted to do which would have been to play outside, preferably in dirt somewhere. We settled for second best and we visited the library. The branch within walking distance of my dad's apartment has the best children's section I have seen yet. It has a huge wooden doll house (Lily's favorite); tons of puzzles, blocks and cars; a train table (Reuben's favorite) and of course, plenty of books. My dad went with us as he usual does when we go to the library up there. Apparently everyone else had the same idea as we did on that dreary day since the library was full of kids and their parents and/or grandparents.

Since we were going to be celebrating the kids' birthdays later that week we didn't have a cake (except for cake donut holes from Tim Hortons which Reuben and I shared early upon waking that morning), presents or any sort of traditional birthday stuff. It was just family and a relaxing, fun time.

It was the perfect day for Reuben. He was surrounded by many of his favorite things: his family, books, trains and books about trains. What more could a little boy could ask for?

Reuben at two.

Steals my smoothie every morning.

When he see something that "scares" him he starts making pretend scary noises and runs into the other room.

Points and says "Ah! A bee!"

Loves playing outside in the sprinkler with his sister all day long.

Enjoys helping me cook dinner or wash the dishes. He's pretty good at pouring batter for pancakes.

Is very independent and insists on trying to do everything himself.

Loves to wander and explore on his own. You can often find him off in his own little world.

His favorite fruit is probably strawberries (I say probably because he doesn't know the word for favorite yet ;).

Is very social and will often chat up strangers in the supermarket.

Can be intensely serious when he's in an unfamiliar situation. Give him time though and he's soon bouncing all around the place.

I'd forgotten how much fun 2 year olds can be. Its such a great age. I can't wait to see what he has in store for us!

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^Taken on June 25 at 8:15am - 2 years to the minute that he was born^
I think he was upset that I was in the way of the TV. Can't interrupt Tinkerbell. 
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Monday, September 08, 2014

Taking Stock 1.

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I haven't blogged since June and while I have a lot I want to share (because man! have we been busy this summer!), I really don't feel like sitting at my computer and typing out a long post right now. Or even many smaller ones. So I thought what better way to ease back into blogging than doing one of these Taking Stock posts that I've seen around the circle of blogs that I read. Be warned, I can be quite random at times. Welcome to a peek at how my brain works.

Making: photo books online. This could will take years.
Cooking: lots of easy and delicious vegetarian nachos for dinner recently
Drinking: homemade strawberry milk kefir
Reading: Parenting by The Book by John Rosemond
Listening: to #1 Hits of the 40's on Spotify
Watching: 19 Kids and Counting
Wanting: more cupboard and counter space. Basically a bigger kitchen.
Looking: forward to a date night
Playing: with the kids outside every evening after dinner
Wasting: too much time on Facebook
Sewing: nothing at the moment although I have many projects waiting to be started/finished
Wishing: that we could get rid of the TV
Enjoying: the almost undetectable change in weather towards cooler autumn temperatures
Waiting: for an answer to prayer
Liking: being active in committees and classes at church
Wondering: if I'm ovulating at all
Loving: the new hair care product for curly hair I discovered recently
Hoping: that the kids can entertain themselves this afternoon so I can tackle the ever growing pile of laundry in my room
Marveling: at the sweetness of Reuben's kisses
Needing: new bras. I'm still wearing nursing bras every day and they're fading fast.
Smelling: the earthy scent of dirty little children fresh from their outside adventures
Wearing: jeans and a t-shirt usually
Following: too many blogs
Noticing: that its time to purchase the kids new shoes as they've outgrown the ones they have now
Knowing: that God rewards those who fervently seek and draw near to Him (Hebrews 11:6)
Thinking: about cutting my hair short again
Feeling: positive
Bookmarking: traditional homemaking blogs. I'm inspired to go back to the basics.
Opening: a bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips
Giggling: at Reuben. Whenever he lays down anywhere he casually slips his hands behind his head and sighs.