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Monday, November 28, 2005

Christmas is Coming

We had one excited little girl on our hands Saturday when we told her we were going to get a Christmas tree. Dear Husband put her down for her nap, telling her that after her nap we would go get a Christmas tree. She laid in her bed and talked and sang and carried on for a couple hours and never did sleep. Dear Husband finally went to get her up, and upon his entrance to her bedroom, she excitedly exclaimed, "I sleep, and now we can go get a Christmas tree!" Well...I guess it was the thought that counted and not the actual zzzzzzz's, huh?

So we headed up to the local Ace Hardware store (something got lost in the translation of getting a Christmas tree when we left Oregon) to pick a tree out of the parking lot. It's just not quite the same as going to a tree farm and getting a beautiful tree cut right under your nose. Dear Husband scoffs each year at the fact that many of the trees for sale in this region have been spray painted for color. The first year we moved here, we sought out a tree farm and, not finding any trees from the local area we liked, picked one of their pre-cuts. We discovered when we got the tree back home that it had actually been shipped from the same location where we previously lived in Oregon. Go figure. The tree also lost its needles rather early that year, probably because it was less than fresh by the time it traveled 2,000 miles to get to us. The price we had to pay and the lifspan of the tree just didn't make it worthwhile. Since then, we have settled for a tree from the Ace Hardware parking lot. So Dear Daughter will grow up thinking that Christmas trees come from the local hardware store. *sigh*

Nonetheless, Dear Daughter was giddy with excitement running around the trees and hiding and squealing, sticking her head out the fence and waving at the cars passing by on on the city street bordering the hardware parking lot.

When we got the tree home she jumped around the living room and squealed and couldn't wait to hang the shiny Christmas balls on the tree. She's been fixated on Christmas balls because she saw them on the Grinch Who Stole Christmas video, which she has been watching since before Halloween. We did not actually have any of the old standard shiny ball ornaments, so Saturday morning we had to go to the local Stuff-Mart and purchase some. There was no convincing Dear Daughter that we could have a tree without the Christmas ball ornaments.

Dear Daughter seems to be mixed up about Christmas and thinks that it is akin to her birthday, complete with balloons. I think this is due, in part, to the fact that G. Uncle Ron and G. Aunt Pat are coming to visit, and Dear Daughter remembers them clearly from her birthday a few months ago. When they came, we had a birthday party for her, complete with balloons. I've been telling her that Christmas is actually Jesus' birthday. She responds by asking the usual question whenever we talk about Jesus, "Where is Jesus at?" It's precious.

At any rate, the decorating was fun for Dear Daughter and the adults who live in the home as well.


Indicentally, Dear Daughter seems to not be napping more than she is napping these days. She does a nice job of laying in her bed and singing and talking to her stuffed animals and never complains about the quiet time, but about 75% of the time for the past couple weeks, she has not napped. I think it was my Dear Mother-in-Law who stated something about Dear Daughter being a live wire like her mother, never letting much grass grow beneath her feet. Indeed, Dear Daughter greets me most days with, "Where are we going to go today?" and sometimes asks, "Can we go some places?" As I lay in bed with her one night talking with the lights out, I mentioned that we would need to get her a poster to hang in the new open space by her bed (the one that used to be covered partially by a crib rail). The next day at nap time we were lying together snuggling again, and Dear Daughter started to talk about needing some pictures or posters and pointed her chubby little finger at the space on the wall. I said, "Yes, we will have to go to Hobby Lobby or Michael's or something, won't we?" She says, in her charming little inquisitive voice, "What's Michael's?" I explained it was like Hobby Lobby, where she loves to go and look at the chickens that Grandma H is collecting in her kitchen. I left her for her nap, which was another non-nap time with Dear Daughter talking and singing for a couple hours. When I went to get her up, she excitedly says to me, "Let's go to Michael's!" I hadn't meant we would go that very day as soon as naptime was over.

Alas, I realized my time alone with Dear Daughter is growing quite short, as is my ability to just pack her up and take her somewhere fairly quickly and easily. With a newborn due any time, life will change dramatically again. And so I find myself indulging Dear Daughter quite a lot lately, trying to make every moment and memory last and have as many special memories with her as possible before I get distracted. In short, we went to Michael's. Nevermind the fact that I had just finished scrubbing and waxing the kitchen floor (with help from Dear Husband) and the entire house was in a disarray with kitchen furniture scattered about, windows open to dry the floor quickly (thanks to a balmy 65 degree day), and I in my attractive cleaning attire looking quite bedraggled. Ah well, "the rest can wait," I figured. And off we went to get pictures to hang above Dear Daughter's bed.

Life is precious and time too short.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Holdin' on for Dear Life

Zoe's favorite thing to do with Daddy is "Go up high!" which usually means he holds her up to touch the ceiling. The other night I suggested a piggy back ride, which was a first for her. Then I suggested she hold in to his ears for security. Ha! Now whenever she gets a piggy back ride from Daddy, she has to pinch on his ears. This was Thanksgiving evening between turkey and pie.

What do you think? Does Dear Husband's expression seem to be saying, "YOU taught her this!"

Ham

Zoe discovered the chocolate mouse whips Yoplait yogurt, and loves them. Yesterday I gave her one for dessert while I cleaned up the kitchen. I let her be for a few minutes and after several minutes of silence I turned to look at her. She had pretty much downed the whole container and manged to have it in her eyebrows and everywhere.

She loves to ham it up in front of the camera, so she had a good time with me taking her picture. Whenever you focus on her to take a shot, she automatically grins and says, "Cheesy!" And when you are done taking pictures, she begs you to take more!

36 Weeks' Worth

Well, here I am in all my "glory" or whatever it is. 36 weeks and still no stretch marks, which is pretty amazing considering the 40 pounds gained and the extreme change since the lower picture, which was taken at 19 weeks. I couldn't resist posting the dramatic difference side by side. Quite the expansion for 17 weeks, or four short months, huh? At 19 weeks, I was feeling large and irritated that people didn't know I was pregnant and apparently just thought I was getting fat. I think I had already gained 15-20 pounds at that point! The hardest part still isn't the size of my belly, my thighs, or even my rear, but the fat that clings onto my face! I keep reminding myself, I lost it all before (nevermind that it took a year and a half)...so I can lose it all again.

Testing Out the Baby Gear

We're getting all the baby gear ready again, and Zoe is really excited about trying it all out. She knows this is "Zachary's bed" but she likes to lie down in it and pretend to sleep. I look at her all crammed into the bassinet, feet hanging out the edge, and remember when we brought her home from the hospital a couple days old and put her in it for the first time. How is it possible? Now she is sleeping in a regular twin bed, which we just introduced to her yesterday. We left the crib up for her too, just in case. She was all excited about the new bed until I tried to leave her in it for her nap after lying down with her and reading some stories. She got concerned over the idea of napping in the new bed and pointed at the crib and said, "How about the brown bed?" So she napped in the crib yesterday.

I tried again with her at bedtime. I didn't push her, I just laid down with her in the bed and cuddled and talked with her awhile after turning out the lights. Then when I got up to go, she said, "No...no! Mommy, go to sleep with Zoe!" and I told her I had to go to "Mommy's bed." She then said, "Well, Mommy could lie down with Zoe and just be her friend!" I melted all over the place and fought back the tears again. After I cuddled and talked with her in her bed a little longer I got up to go, and this time it was okay (for her, but not entirely for me). I wanted it to be okay, but I also didn't want it to be okay. She went right to sleep. I refrained from checking in on her all night during my routine trips to the bathroom. When I peeked in on her this morning, she was all curled up at the top of the bed and looked way too little for the bed. I had to choke back the tears again. Why do they have to grow up?

Monday, November 21, 2005

...Afterthought

On the heels of my last comments regarding pregnancy woes, this morning topped them all so far. I had a routine dr. appointment this morning, and I have to say that as hard as it is to put on socks in this condition, it's not nearly as challenging as trying to pee in a cup!

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Pregnancy Woes

We finally hit reasonable overnight temperatures last week: we had a low of 18 degrees one night. I could finally turn off the a/c and even close the windows! I think I've even stopped perspiring for the first time during this pregnancy. Well, except for the days I'm at work. No one else at my office will agree with me on the necessary temperature. They like to keep the thermostat on 74. Good Grief! I insist it needs to be set at no higher than 62. I'm outnumbered, so I get to sweat through all of my sessions even though I dress in the lightest clothing I can find. The office manager wears turtleneck sweaters and uses a space heater on her feet even in August. What is up with that???? It drives me crazy!

On the bright side, though my feet have semi-permanently swollen up again and I have "cankles," at least it's not as bad as last pregnancy when I literally could not get ANY shoes on my feet. Last pregnancy I had to add extra long velcro to my Teva's just to get the straps latched, and that's what I wore for like the whole last six weeks...even to work everyday. It was summer, so Teva's, while not really appropriate work attire, were at least appropriate summer attire. One day a client said, "Those are some big feet you have!" This time I can get shoes on, which is good when the high temps are only 40 degrees. Of course the only time my feet swell bad enough to really bother me is when I'm at work, where it is at least 74 degrees and I would prefer to be barefoot anyway.

On the not-so bright side, it is appropriate to wear socks this time of year, where I didn't have that to worry about with an August baby last time. If you've never been 9 months pregnant and trying to put your socks on, try carrying three 10-lb bowling balls in your stomach and wrapping all your joints, and every other place on your body that is supposed to bend, as tightly as possible with ace bandages and then bend over to try to put on your socks. The other day I finally managed to wrestle my socks on and I'll be darned if I didn't manage to get one of them on inside out. I had to start all over. By that time, 40 degress or not, I had worked up a pretty good sweat.

How people go through this more than a couple times in life is beyond me. I'm feeling crazy enough for doing it a second time.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Applying Love and Logic

I have a very well-behaved two-year-old. She rarely has a tantrum, and when she does, she regroups quickly. She never hits, pinches, bites, etc. She follows directions quite well, except for the occasional typical two-year-old dawdling, goofing around, and when it's time to get dressed in the morning or diapered for nap or bedtime. Although Dear Daugter has been potty trained for nearly 6 months (since she was barely 22 months old) we have not pushed the issue of getting up during nap or bedtime to go. She is not able to get her pants up and down alone and I would rather her get her rest at naptime and for both she and I to get our rest at bedtime than be concerned with getting up and down for potty breaks. At those times we need to diaper her, Dear Daughter likes to get really silly and run around naked and ignore either/both parents instead of cooperating with getting her diaper on. Today I used a little Love and Logic on the issue, and it was HARD!

We have used Love and Logic with her before, but it hasn't been required much. The main incidents I can think of were requiring her to come inside because she wouldn't follow directions not to play in the water or some such thing. We have never needed to use much discipline with her.

Let me preface a bit. For those of you who do not know it, I have several years of professional training and experience specializing in working with behaviorally disordered children as well as conducting child and family therapy. I have seen A LOT of children and families with major problems that tend to most frequently present themselves when children are reaching that pre-adolescent age of 11 or 12, but I've worked with a lot of teenage kiddos and their families as well. The number one reason the families are such a mess and the kids are such menaces are due to poor parenting skills and/or lack of discipline. When parents learn how to be consistent with discipline, it's amazing how the kids thrive. However, the older the child and the longer standing the problem has been, the bigger the challenge. When I see kiddos that are pushing 17 years old and nearing the time of going out on their own in the world even though they cannot function responsibly, respectfully, and appropriately within their own families and limited social circles, I shudder. These are the ones who are at risk of ending up with legal problems, in jail, major drug and alcohol addictions, and passing all the problems on again to their own children. Then I will see their children in my office in a few years. It's an endless cycle. And it's MUCH MUCH easier to start doing it right when a child is a year old than when a child is 15 years old.

Let me also say that I am NOT a proponent of spanking. But I'm not inviting a big spanking debate. This is just my own opinion. I have worked with a lot of abused children who were spanked because parents simply had poor parenting skills and that was the "easiest" thing to do and was a release for parental anger and agression. And many of these kids were hit and physically abused and did not know the difference between getting beat up and being disciplined because the parents didn't know the different between "punishment" (which is often devoid of teaching) and "discipline" (which stems from the word "disciple" which means to teach). I don't believe pure punishment teaches better behavior. A child simply stops the negative behavior out of fear of being hit but doesn't develop internal thinking and problem solving skills, and so will often continue the negative behavior when the parent isn't looking.

The training and support I offer parents in therapy settings are based in Love and Logic theory, which is GREAT! If anyone is intrested, there are lots of Love and Logic training materials and books out there. My favorites are "Parenting with Love and Logic" (great ideas for teenagers) and "Love and Logic Magic for Early Childhood" (great ideas for toddlers and preschoolers, but also some stuff quite adaptable for pre-adolescents and teens).

Back to my personal story. At nap time today I decided that it was due time to apply Love and Logic to the problem of Dear Daughter refusing to "cooperate" with getting her "napping pants" on. So I told her that she could cooperate and get stories before nap time or not cooperate and not get stories before nap time. She continued to not cooperate. Keep in mind that Dear Daughter is very well aware of what is meant by cooperate. She has informed me a couple times that "Mommy is not cooperating" if I don't respond quickly enough to her requests.

Cardinal Rule for parents: Never say something you won't follow through with, and follow through with everything you say. I knew I had to be prepared to put Dear Daugther down for naptime without stories if I was going to offer the choice (which is the key to Love and Logic: always frame things as the child's choice. This helps the child learn to think for themselves, learn the fact of cause and effect related to their behavior, and not blame the parents for their own poor behavior/choices).

Dear Daughter cried and begged for stories and ran to turn the lamp back on and whines over and over "NO, cooperate!" and I had to gently and firmly tell her I love her and that little girls who cooperate get stories, but little girls who don't cooperate don't get stories. Then I had to place my sobbing daughter in her little bed and cover her up and walk out of the room. I wanted to cry myself as I shut her door. And I wanted to run back in and say, "I changed my mind! Let's read some stories, you sweet precious little darling!" But I knew that would be the kiss of death and all the pre-teen and teenage "monsters" I've worked with in my counseling career ran through my mind. I refuse to "ruin" my children like that. Then all the advice I've given parents ran through my head. Things like, "You gotta start when they are 1 and 2 years old, you've gotta follow through and follow through consistently" and the Cardinal Rule I mentioned above. Then I thought about the families I've worked with who could not manage their 2, 3, and 4 year olds and how many times I thought to myself when I had these families in my office, "Why are they letting their toddler run their homes and lives like this?" These are the families that come in with problems with their teenagers and have a toddler with them as well. The toddlers offer a great window of information as they tear my office apart and the parents say things like, "You better stop it! Get your butt over here! Do you want a spanking?" and on and on and on, raising their voice more loudly as the child gets more and more out of control. I have said to myself thousands of times over the past few years that I will NEVER be that parent because I will NEVER get into that situation.

So Dear Daughter had her nap without any stories. She stopped sobbing in less than a minute and talked to her stuffed animals for a few minutes and then took her nap. As soon as she got up from her nap she couldn't wait to "snuggle Mommy" and inform me that she was going to cooperate. I squeezed her close and told her I love her and that I was sad she decided not to cooperate earlier because I like to read her stories and that I know she will decide to cooperate and get stories next time.

Well, I didn't orignally intend this to be a "soap box" post. I originally intended to express that this parenting stuff is sure hard sometimes when you are focused on raising responsible, enjoyable children devoid of "spoiled brat syndrome."

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Chef's Hat

That's what Zoe calls her new hat from G. Aunt Pat and G. Uncle Ron. She actually allowed the trademark hat to stay off her head last Sunday and wore her new "chef's hat" the whole time she was in the nursery.

So far Zoe is taking just fine to her new bedroom furniture. She has her new dresser and the old one with the changing pad went into Zachary's room. She also has a different chair (one from the living room) and the rocking chair has successfully been moved into Zachary's room. She doesn't seem to mind the changes at all. The next, and final, step will be introducing her twin bed. I'm trying to get her hyped up about it by talking about it and showing her the cute new sheets we got her.

Zoe's new antics include a couple pharses I don't say often, but have apparently said enough for her to plant them in the regions of her brain where the latent vernacular lies and pull them back out at opportune moments. These phrases include, "I mean it!" when she really wants something and isn't getting a quick enough response. And "What did I say?" which is pretty much in the same context. I guess I've said that one when Zoe wants something and is not taking "no" for an answer. It's funny to hear her turn these phrases onto me and her daddy, though we work hard at not letting her see our amusement.

Zoe also has taken to launching her very large red rubber ball at Frederick just to see what will happen. Poor old man is pushing 19 cat years (that's like 90+ human years) and is tolerant as all heck of this two-year-old taunting and "loving." Zoe just adores him, and when she's not trying to launch her ball at him, she is petting him, patting him, meowing at the top on her lungs in his face, crawling along side him on the floor "talking" to him non-stop, and preparing him imaginary food on her toy microwave-which she then sets before him, right under his nose, and squeals with glee as she informs him of the treats she is offering him. The vet says that Zoe is keeping Frederick happy and interested in life. Hmmmm...interesting perspective. He insists on staying near her all the time, so odd as it seems, perhaps the vet is right.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Up to Date

Okay, so this puts me back on track for up to date belly shots. My girth doth expand rapidly at this stage. Yes, I've had people tell me, "I can't believe you are posting those pictures." Ah well...me either. But I am, so why stop now? I've said if the stretch marks suddenly appear, you'll know because I'll stop posting them. So far, so good.

I've just got one quick Zoe funny from last night. She has been into watching the original cartoon version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas for the past 6 weeks or so. Her routine is to watch it each night after getting dressed for bed. The whole family crawls into the king size bed in our jammies and watch it together. I have every line memorized by now. Last night, during one of the scenes where the grinch is being pulled in the sleigh by the poor mutt with the heavy antler on his head, Zoe said, "Where are they going?" when I replied, "I don't know" she followed up with, "Are they going to Hobby Lobby?" Now, I haven't mentioned Hobby Lobby or taken her to Hobby Lobby in a very very long time. As is typical, I have no idea where she gets this stuff, but it is good for a laugh or two.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Mommy's Big Butt and Other Stuff

...I meant "other stuff" not related to the current appearance of my body, but I guess the title of this post includes a pretty accurate pun. Fortunately, I am not taking my daughter seriously when she gets behind me and pushes my rear to steer me across the room and announces, "Mommy's got a big butt!" She is right, and I have to work hard at not showing my amusement at her saying this. While I don't really care so much that she says this to me, I don't want to drop her off in the church nursery and have her telling the nursery workers that they all have big butts, too. I am pretty sure she began saying this because she heard me say it at some point. Surely it's not because my butt is just so big right now that even a barely 27 month old can make the accurate observation (am I fooling myself?)

Last night Dear Daughter announced, "Today's Tuesday!" I corrected her by saying, "No, today's Sunday." She then got a mischevious look on her face and said, "Today's Monday!" which was quickly followed by, "April Fools!" and squeals of laughter as she got a good belly laugh out of her own joke. All I could say was, "Where in the world did you come up with THAT?!" She informed me that she got it from "Little Bear" which is her favorite Noggin Network show right now (tied with Jack's Big Music Show). I was just amazed, as usual, that she used a concept such as April Fools correctly in her own context...well, except for the minor point that it was not actually April Fools Day.

I was also amused last night when she was struggling to put together a set of nesting boxes, each has a lid to put on and then fits inside a larger box with a lid and then a larger box with a lid, etc, etc. She was getting frustrated and finally stated in total aggravation, "This doesn't make sense!" Huh? I racked my brain trying to remember if that was something I said recently.

On second thought, as sharp as Dear Daughter is, perhaps she was making a serious observation about the size of my derriere. After all, I am 38 pounds up right now. Ugh! I suppose if Kirstie Alley can lose the weight, I can too. Unfortunately, with a few more weeks to go, I am going to get even bigger before I can start getting smaller.