Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Musings on the "Terrible Two's"

I've always heard of the Terrible Two's--talked about by veteran moms in a particular tone with a shrug of the shoulders and roll of the eyes, and sometimes, if enough time has elapsed since their child was actually two, a smile of remembrance at all the crazy battles and phases they experienced. I always thought it was because the child became a true monster in the rebellious teenager form, only younger. That may actually be true for some people, but I don't think that's what makes it difficult for me.
In general, as Joshua approached, and now has been two, I think he's still a pretty good, obedient kid most of the time. What I think wears me down is the constancy of his demand to exert control over what he does or doesn't do! Add to it all the major changes a child is supposed to make during that infamous year (bed transitions, potty training, pacifier weaning, etc.) and I guess it's no wonder that both parent and child feel tried to the limit some days.
I have been surprised at how willing my typically sweet child is to instantly melt down into "that" toddler, the one every non-parent sees in the mall and rolls their eyes at...a frazzled parent leading a seemingly-boneless, screaming/whining/yelling/crying toddler who may or may not be kicking as well. Particularly if he's tired or hungry, Joshua can instantly become that child. I always thought having a child throwing a fit like that was the influence of poor parenting (and it still could well indeed be, I suppose), but now I think it might be more poor planning on the parent's part.
If I go somewhere at a time when he is both well-fed and well-rested, stick to what it is I needed to get in the first place, and keep browsing to a minimum, it usually goes pretty well. (A snack during the trip is usually a good idea too.) If not, well then it's only good luck if we get out of the store/event without some sort of meltdown or trauma. I'd like to think that since putting this revelation if writing I'll be a reformed shopper, always sticking to the list and only taking kids at good times, but in reality, that will probably never happen, but hey, it's a good goal.
Mostly, though I'd like to be able to look past the challenging moments where I want to pull my hair out or declare that he may not eat chicken nuggets for every meal (he doesn't, but it seems like it at times) and simply cherish the moment of right now. It seems all too often my focus (and my standard response to requests) is "later." In reality, I don't think we get a "later" with our kids. Miss the moment and it might be gone for good, they change so fast! So, I'd like to be able to stop and just be with my kids: enjoy the wonder of seeing a really cool truck outside, or dancing to the current favorite cartoon character, just snuggling together reading a book, or going for a walk. Oh, I'll still try to maintain a semblance of organization to my house keep up with my other responsibilities, but I'd like to more fully embrace the fact that I'm a mommy first and foremost at this stage of my life and not worry as much about everything else. Because really, it all melts away when your baby smiles at you or your toddler says "I love you mommy" with a big bear hug and those are experiences I get everyday!

Friday, February 22, 2008

100% Parents

Ok, so I realized again yesterday how becoming parents has completely changed every aspect of our lives--including our social life! We had friends over last night and there are five kiddos between the three couples. So what did we do the whole evening? Well, we did the talking and eating that we would have done before kids, but the bulk of the evening was spent watching the three toddlers play "hide and seek" and, upon request, hiding for them to find us or "finding" them. Furthermore it seemed completely comfortable and normal to have a conversation around toddler interruptions, breastfeeding, and building towers! And truly, if our kids hadn't been there we would probably have spent the majority of the time talking about our kids and their funny actions/activities anyway. My life would be so dull without my kids in it!

Last weekend we had Lydia dedicated and Gigi and Poppa (James' parents) were able to come and be there for that and spend the weekend, so Joshua was super excited. He also knows that he'll be the star of many pictures when they're in town, and would repeatedly ask both to have his picture taken and to take pictures. Since the camera James' mom uses is a higher end model than our little pocket digital camera it is equipped with a neck strap, and since Joshua is not the most gentle, she requires that he use it when "taking pictures." Well, apparently he thought that applied to all cameras, yesterday he came to me with our camera to take pictures, and he'd placed the wrist strap around his neck! Ooops...You've got to love how two year olds see all things as universally applicable. I'm not quite sure how he got it on, since I almost had to cut it to get it off!

Otherwise, the past couple of weeks have been pretty "normal." We've spent alot of time just trying to catch back up with things that took a sideline during those first few weeks after Lydia's birth. I've been trying to sort through and organize Joshua's closet, since it's been the catch-all for things I didn't have a place for when they came in the house--but it's taken much longer than I anticipated given that I'm constantly getting interrupted to read books, get a snack/juice, or take care of Lydia. I also realized after starting that I couldn't do it during my usual "powercleaning" time (read: naptime) since it's in Joshua's room! Oh well, maybe over the weekend it'll get done with Daddy around to help out.
(The photo on an unusual angle showcases Joshua's photo skills--pretty good, except for the tilt--but I guess that's kind of artsy)

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Thankful for Friends

I've been thinking about how different things are this time than when Joshua was born. Oh, many things are the same, but in addition to being much more comfortable and confident with ourselves as parents, we're also much more connected here in Madison.
This weekend we were blessed with friends who kept our kiddos for a couple of hours so we could get dinner and a bit of uninterrupted "us" time. It was so refreshing to be able to have a conversation without sharing it with a 2 year old or trying to calm a fussy baby. :-) As much as we love our kids, it's nice to have a chance to remember how much we love hanging out with each other as people not just "mommy" and "daddy".
Tonight we had friends over for dinner. It was a bit chaotic at times with an infant, 1 year old, and 2 year old keeping us all hopping, but great to have friends in the same life-stage that understand what we're going through day in and day out.
We appreciate how so many people have stepped up to help with whatever we've needed over the past couple of months and feel so grateful to have such good friends!

Not much is new here, just still trying to figure out how to accomplish everything that needs to get done in a day while keeping happy kids and staying sane. :-)

Thursday, February 7, 2008

One Month

Lydia is one month old tomorrow, and I can hardly believe it. She's getting so big and changing everyday and I know that one day I'll wake up and suddenly she won't be a baby anymore. I know it happens, I watched it with Joshua. Somehow you still think they'll be little forever, and compared with him she is, but it doesn't seem long ago that he was this little too. So, since they're changing so rapidly, I'll try to capture a couple of moments in their lives for you all.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Winter Wonderland

"Oh the weather outside is frightful..." "It's beginnning to look a lot like Christmas..." Ok, what happened to February? Here in Wisconsin, it appears that winter is only getting started. (We could hope it's giving us one last hurrah before the season is over, but that's most likely only wishful thinking!) It began snowing last night and it hasn't stopped since. I believe we've gotten around a foot of snow over the past 24 hours and it's blowing around pretty well too, so we'll see how much we end up with when all is said and done. As you can see from the picture, the snowpiles at the end of the driveway are getting impressive! Joshua's glad it's snowing though, because that means there is shoveling to do and that's currently one of his favorite activities to "help" Daddy with. :-)

There were advisories against travel where possible this morning, so James has been working from home today. Although he's been occupied, it's been nice to have him around when I need more than 2 hands. It's hard to believe that just a few years ago doing his job from our livingroom would have been impossible, but with remote access to work and the ability to forward calls, he moved his "office" to home in just a couple minutes. At the risk of sounding really old and granny-ish I truly do remember when we were one of the few people I knew who had a computer at home!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

I Did It!

Ok, I'm way too excited about this, but here's my big achievement for the day (week, month, year?). For me, it's somewhat akin to that first pointless trip you make "on your own" after getting your drivers license--it's not really anything special, but it seems like it at the time!
I went to the grocery store AND Target by myself with both kids today! I got all but one thing I planned on, and the only thing I purchased that I did not plan to was an apple. Why did I buy the apple? Well, by the time I noticed it was in our cart it was missing two little bites out of the side and in the hands of a way-too-cute offender. :-)
Speaking of that little guy, he was perfect--well, almost. He sat in the cart the whole time and didn't beg constantly to get down, didn't mess with his sister, and helped hand me the groceries and even tried to scan them for me! (Yes, I did bribe him with snacks, but I've long-ago gotten over my "bad-mommy" guilt about that one when it comes to shopping trips.)
Lydia slept most of the time and contently looked around the rest of the time, no screaming, fussing, or other impossible to soothe while keeping her in the seat moments.
As an extra bonus, I found some really great deals in Target, and Joshua actually let me look at a couple of things for myself without any complaints (that hasn't happened since he learned to talk).
So, all-in-all, I'm declaring it a personal success. Small, yes, but since I've been worried about managing two while out-and-about on my own, I'll take it!

Saturday, February 2, 2008


Our family added another new member today--no wait, this one isn't human, or close to it. It's a fish. A red Betta to be exact. Why is his name Michael? Don't ask, we don't have any idea, but since Joshua's other suggestion for a name was "marker" we decided to go with it.

Anyway, the past couple of weeks have been busy trying to regain some sense of "normal." Things are going as well as can be expected. Joshua's busy as usual, chatting up a storm and coming up with all sorts of new activities, usually requiring more energy than I have! Joshua thinks it's quite a fun treat to have his little sister join him in the tub, and if he had his way she'd do so every night--she seems to think it's not so bad herself, but I don't think she'd enjoy having that many baths.

Lydia's losing that newborn look and moving into the alert baby stage. She's awake more of the day and much more interested in her surroundings while awake. She's still napping quite well, but sure that there's no place like mommy's arms--which makes keeping up with Joshua more of a challenge.

James is back to work, full-time this week, which makes me a full-time caretaker of two, something that unnerves me a bit. After one attempt at the store with both kids that ended with all of us nearly in tears, I think I may find that only evening outings happen for awhile! :-)