Wednesday, May 28, 2008

A good problem to have

M is addicted to reading. Seriously, she spends hours reading book after book, uninterrupted. I ask her to help unload the dishwasher, and she walks to the kitchen slowly, reading as she goes, hopefully not running into the door frame on her way. We finally had to remove all books from her room, as she'd spent an hour or more reading each night before actually falling asleep. We went to a birthday party, and she went to the child's bedroom and read books.

So what's the problem? She's 4. She won't be 5 until next October. Her next year in preschool is kindergarten prep, which means they'll be introducing letters. She already knows letters. She's reading first-grade level books. We didn't teach her this, either. She taught herself, by eavesdropping while we were teaching K.

I'm sure other parents have this problem too. I never believed them, really, when they'd say their 4-year-old knows how to read, in the same way people give us that disbelieving look when we tell them. "Surely she's just memorized the books." Nope. Her big sister taught her to read.

Again, so what's the problem? Well, it's two-fold. One, M is not the type of child who will behave when bored. In fact, she has trouble behaving at any time. She just likes to push it as far as she can and see what consequences befall her. Thankfully, we know her teacher next year and we know her teacher will push her forward and keep her occupied. But after that? Who knows? And socially, emotionally, M is at pre-school age. She needs to be with that class, and I wouldn't consider letting her skip a grade. So, how can you keep her challenged, keep her disciplined, when learning time is a review for her?

The other problem is she's not socializing with us. She'd rather be by herself reading 24-7. We force her to go outside, to be active, to burn off some energy, to do SOMETHING. My friend is a high school teacher and sponsor for the quiz-bowl teams. We had a long discussion about our children being smart or being socially-inept-smart. Is Maggie leaning toward socially-inept? So what do I do? Do I let her read all the time? Or force her to put down the books? And do you know how odd it is to tell your preschooler to stop reading? It's like asking Bobby Flay to stop grilling your steak!

I could use all the help and advice I can get!

Monday, May 19, 2008

A picture lasts forever

I'm a picture fanatic. I feel lost if I haven't pulled out the camera at least once a week and snapped some photos of the girls. (Hmmm, maybe that's why all three of them are so good at "CHEEZ" whenever a camera is near!) I don't post them here because I'm not quite comfortable sharing that with you all, but I have beautiful girls. Trust me. :)

But why do I love pictures so much? Because it's nearly impossible to remember exactly how someone looked 5 years ago. Because I don't ever want to hear "why are there all these pictures of K but no pictures of me?!?!" in 20 years. Because when my girls have kids, I want them to have pictures to compare themselves to their babies. Maybe it's because there is only one picture of my mom as a little girl.

I didn't think I'd see the benefit of all these pictures until the girls were much older, but already it's come in handy. M was a little jealous of all the attention and fuss over L on her 2nd birthday. She kept asking about her 2nd birthday, but in a guilt-inducing way: "Did I get balloons on MY second birthday?" "Did you make me a duck cake for MY second birthday?" "Did I get a turtle sandbox for MY birthday?"

After about the 5th question, I got the hint and sat down with M, her baby book, and her photo album. I showed her exactly what we did to celebrate her 2nd birthday, complete with a Dora the Explorer Wilton-type cake. Dude, it took me 2 hours to decorate M's 2nd birthday cake. Yes, I did adequately fuss over M on her 2nd birthday, just like I adequately fussed over L on her 2nd birthday. If anyone has need to complain, it's K, who's birthday parties were derailed twice due to medical emergencies, including a 2nd birthday party that got moved to the maternity ward. But that's another story.

The point is, without all those daily pictures, I wouldn't have remembered all the details that are already important to M. What would I remember in 5 years? Probably nothing. But that's okay, because this photo-crazy mama has plenty of evidence to help her remember.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

If only I'd known

One of my co-workers is expecting her first baby and they hosted a shower for her last week. I gave her (among other things) a make-your-own-wipe kit and explained how wonderful it is. It's something I wish I'd known about when my oldest was born and it got me thinking...what things do I wish I had known, or wish that everyone would know about? Here's my list of top 5:

1-Taking Charge of Your Fertility. It's an awesome book, whether you are TTC or not. I wish I had know that much about my body and how it functions, and I wish I had known it in high school. Oh, the irrational, ignorant fears I could have alleviated! Honestly, I want my girls to read it when they are in high school, or at least the teen version I just heard about. Or maybe junior or senior year of high school, due to some of the content, but I want them to read it.

2-Bradley's Method AND epidurals. I wish everyone knew ALL their options going into childbirth and didn't make preconceived notions of what was right or wrong. I have had 4 epidurals and they are great. It's so relaxing to give birth without pain. BUT I did enjoy (yes, enjoy!) the labor with my youngest, when I didn't get the epidural until I was complete. I wish I would have held out just a little longer. It's more than empowering; it just felt right. Next time around, I don't want the epidural even offered.

3-Homemade wipes. I turned my nose at the idea at first, because all the "recipes" I'd seen contained witch hazel, and I hate that smell. It brings back icky memories of newly pierced ears in junior high. But the recipe I have been using for (wow!) 5 years now contains Baby Magic (or Johnson's, but it doesn't smell as good) Creamy Baby Oil and smells so nice! It's convenient, it's gentler on newborn's sensitive skin, it's cheaper, and it's easy.

4-Breastfeeding is so worth it. Fight through the painful start. If needed, take fenugreek or whatever other herbal supplement I took, to increase your production. If you don't need your production increased, freeze, baby, freeze. Stock that freezer full! (If you have too much and it's going to go bad, then donate it to a local milk bank at a children's hospital. They use it for preemies.) Do what it takes to make breastfeeding work, because it is so worth it. But don't feel guilty about feeding formula. It works, too. It's just not as awesome an experience as breastfeeding.

5-Run. Walk. Jog. Swim. Whatever. Make time to exercise, as soon as you feel up to it. While pregnant, with a new baby, when you're 50! It will make you feel more energized, more peaceful, and healthier. Truly, it's worth it. Make your significant other help you make time to do it. But find the time. It's like serenity-in-a-bottle, only healthier.

And just so you know, I'm not much of a nuts-and-granola kinda gal. But keeping an open mind about new ideas has really improved my parenting... and my sanity!

Monday, May 5, 2008

So what follow-up

By the way...

L has learned a few new signs this week, so now she knows and uses: milk, drink, eat, more, help, ice cream, cookie, pancake, toast, and apple.

It took 5 days of riding her tail, but M has done a turnaround with her behavior. No complaints from preschool or daycare, and she earned all 5 minutes (per day) of Webkinz time for Thursday, Friday, Saturday AND Sunday.

And speaking of Webkinz, K spent her Webkinz time this week earning money. She doesn't want to be that "broke" she says. :-)

And DH's massive garden resulted in massive covering-up-of-plants Saturday night as temps dropped to 30 degrees Fahrenheit. It looks like they all (or almost all) made it okay, so he's a happier camper now too.

L's birthday

L's birthday party was Saturday. Fittingly this year, we had postponed it a week, since she was too sick last week to be much of a hostess. But my oh my was it worth the wait. We bought her a sandbox but it was too cold to play outside and we haven't bought the sand yet, so I filled it partially with beans and left it in our kitchen. The 2-year-old crew played there most of the time. Hoping for warm weather, I also bought lots of bubble stuff and her daycare provider gave her a bubbling cow (awesome gift, btw). So the older kids braved the wind and headed outside to load the air with bubbles. We blew bubbles as much as we dared inside, but I didn't want the floor to get too slick or wet.

L loved it! She loves attention, so it wasn't a big surprise that she enjoyed this day, but I was surprised by how much she enjoyed it. She had this beautiful grin on her face most of the day. When we sang Happy Birthday to her, she just grinned and looked around the room happily. And when she was playing, she would randomly weave through the crowd and run up to me for a big hug, then motion for down to run back to her friends. It was like she knew everyone was there just for her and she was telling me thanks for arranging it. Sometimes I think she can perceive things bigger than life. It's kind of like when she came out of the hospital. She was the happiest child ever. NOTHING made her sad. She walked around laughing and running from room to room for almost a week. The doctor's best guess, and I like this guess, is that maybe she somehow knows how close she came to not being here with us and is just so damn happy to be home?

Along that thought, this birthday was even more sweet. I caught myself a couple times thinking how grateful (not strong enough of a word) that we even got to HAVE a birthday party for her. Things could have turned out much worse. I think that's why both sets of grandparents made it to the party, because we're all a little more grateful for our time with her. And if only we could remember that feeling...if we could ALL remember that feeling...then maybe we wouldn't mind the whiny mornings or sleepless nights quite as muchn and would always remember to prioritize the right way?

Me? I'm going to stop replaying in my mind the image of her seizing uncontrollably and turning blue. I'm going to work really hard at replacing that image with the little movie of her looking around the room, seeing me, and then running, weaving, for a big giant hug and kiss. Now, that's an image to keep.