Wednesday, April 22, 2015
I've had ample time to write the past three nights, I've just not done so. :sigh:
The saddest part about this is, I've needed to write about this sweet darling who had the temerity to turn five on Sunday, without my permission. FIVE!
I remember worrying because she would throw-up EVERYTHING she ate. I remember worrying about her tiny little peanut of a head. I remember worrying worrying worrying. I never worried about Hannah or Lily. I knew they were fine. I worried about everything with Bean because I knew bad things could happen no matter what you did.
This child dreams big and goes hard. She always has. She's truly never had time to be a baby. If you were to go through my archives and read about her infanthood you would see it. She was ready to be on the go from the moment she became aware of the world around her.
She is five and she's proud! She's similar to her sisters in bunches of ways, and, as with all siblings, she is her own quirky little self.
She loves make-up and putting on lips--like Hannah. She loves playing with princess dolls and dressing up and climbing trees and playing in the woods and has scabs on both her knees and bruises up and down her legs. She's a fearless tomboy. She is determined to swim in a swim meet this summer and get a ribbon--don't worry, she will. Swim in a meet that is. :oP Most likely she'll get a rainbow participation ribbon as well, which is fine by me.
Miss Bean is rather competitive, but mostly with her sister. She's eager to do everything Lil is capable of and wants to know how to do everything RIGHT NOW. She's doing simple reading, has amazing phonemic awareness and is spelling some words. She makes her own flashcards and does basic addition and subtraction and I swear to you, if I could just open her head and pour all I know into it, it still wouldn't be enough information.
On top of all of this, though, she's a kind little girl. She's still working on being tactful and situational awareness ("Mommy, Jackson didn't whine or cry today!" right in front of Jackson's mama...), but everyone she meets is her "friend" and she never lacks for a playmate.
She's also polite (I love that she's had an older sister to model so much of this for her) and I find adults don't really mind being around her. She'll sit through one of my hair appointments without any trouble, and yesterday, she was a trouper as I was sitting in a dental chair for two and a half hours.
I never thought we'd get here. I seriously thought she was going to be the death of me. She was so busy. Always on the go...ALWAYS. She wouldn't sleep (sleep is for the weak!) and had an "on" switch and a "hurry up and do it faster!" switch. The fact we've been able to channel that energy is amazing. I honestly couldn't believe she could sit still and focus at school. Amazing.
She's growing up and she's delightful. What more can I say?
I have to say I was the biggest defender of "Frozen" and "Let it Go" for the longest time. I love the movie and the song, but OMG. I'm SOOOOO done!! :oS
From there it was home to pick up the cake and take it with us to GG and Bill's so we could do birthday with them and Nana and Pop (again). :o)
She is truly the sunniest and happiest child, always willing to help out. She has an infectious smile, and, while I know she's mine and I'm rather biased, I don't know how anyone couldn't love her!
I hope her fifth birthday was everything she had hoped it would be. She's a pretty great kiddo and she deserves it. :o)
Sparklies from the past weekend:
5. Birthday Beanie!
Monday, April 13, 2015
I hauled, lugged and spread forty-one bags of mulch yesterday. Yes, that's right, 41. I ran back by Lowe's just a bit ago to pick up another ten. They're on great sale this week at 5/$10. Because of his aneurysm, B can't lug the bags so it's all on me.
Y'all, my body is done. I unloaded those last ten bags just a few minutes ago and my body screamed at me and my muscles quivered and I knew it was enough. It has to be for now. I need to spread it, but I simply can't do it.
It's amazing how 16 hours of yard work really doesn't look like you did all that much. :oS Because we didn't get any mulch last year, our beds were in ATROCIOUS shape. Here's the rundown:
*mowed, weedeated (there is so much wrong with that word!), and edged the yard
*cleaned out, weeded and pruned front flowerbeds
*cleaned out around the mailbox
*mulched all front beds to the tune of 16 bags
*cleaned out all beds out back (on hands and knees) to removed dead leaves, weeds and whatnot
*raked up and bagged all yard debris
*transplanted two baby maple trees--they were either going to be cut down due to their location up against the house, or we could try to save them. We opted for saving them.
*created two new mulch beds
*spread another 25 bags of mulch out back
*swept and cleaned patio and deck and sidewalks
*Split hostas and planted in new locations
*moved two daylilies
*dug out the rose that refuses to GO AWAY
When we were starting to mulch, the next door neighbors started grilling out and boy howdy did it smell incredible.
With about 8 bags left, Edwin leaned across the fence with two cold bottles of beer and offered them to us. I told him I'd be more than happy to have them as soon as I finished the mulch. I didn't realize it, but he kept track, and the minute we finished and had the litter all cleared off, he had those bottles of beer over the fence. I'm not a beer drinker, but I have to tell you, nothing tasted better in that moment. :o)
Edwin then went on to say to me, "Don't worry about dinner. We have plenty here. We'll get you plates."
Y'all, that man dished up four plates of sides and passed them over, and then sent over four fully-loaded burgers. THEN, he sent over cake. And lemonade for the girls, and another two beers each for B and me. Incredible. He said to me, "Here, you eat this and have this beer and then all you have to do is have a shower and go to bed."
I seriously almost wept.
I don't know how I lucked out into having such amazing neighbors (the new ones across the street are wonderful as well! Saturday night while I was mowing and edging around back, Steve came and cleared my sidewalks and driveway with his blower!), but I'm forever grateful. :o)
Lissie comes this week so I need to get the house in order. I know she'll tell me, "I come to see you, not your house," but how many of you could leave your houses as they are when you know company's coming?
There's so much to do. I need to clean the entire place and do the carpets. Wheeeeeeee...
All this to say, I'll most likely be hit or miss for the rest of the week. So, no need to worry, I'm probably just struggling to keep my head above water. :oS
I'll sign off with a bunch of photos from Easter. The one at the top of the post is obviously NOT Easter, but it IS the quilt top GG and I have been piecing for the past five months. Whew!
Off to clean and make supper.
Stay tuned for photos from our spring break trip to the 'burg. :o)
Monday, March 30, 2015
I remembered loving the chiro, having gone nearly weekly while pregnant with Bitty. Hannah would accompany me and sit in the waiting area and keep the office workers entertained as only Hannah could.
Lil was born, I got new insurance that didn't cover chiropractic care, and I didn't return.
Silly me. Today was wonderful. Oh man... I left feeling like a little limp noodle. :o)
I returned to the same practice I had loved so much, this time seeing my former chiropractor's son. He is just as lovely as his father and was delightful. Making small talk to try to get to know one another, he asked that question that stymies me to this day: "How many children do you have?"
You would think after all these years I'd have a good answer, that I wouldn't be left foundering and grasping and trying to figure out how to respond. It's been almost eight years, after all. (How the hell has it been eight years??)
As you all know, I have no trouble talking of Hannah. She is a part of our family and as real to us today as the day she was born. Sometimes, though, I forget that even though we're comfortable and used to the idea of having lost a child (not that it doesn't suck the very life out of you, mind you), that it can rather stun unsuspecting conversational partners. Or, more to the point, you know it's stunning, but you say something unwittingly and they're left stunned. Case in point, when we were at the dentist this last time, he noticed a line on Lil's teeth and said it was caused during tooth development, typically by a high fever or some such around 18 or 19 months. Without thinking, I said, "She lost her big sister then, could that have caused it?"
Yeah... that went over about as well as you might expect. Lots of shocked looks and stammering and it was all sorts of awkward. I HATE putting people into awkward positions. :o(
So, once again, how do you answer that question?
It's such a simple, innocuous question, isn't it? You'd never think you were putting someone on the spot by asking it.
You can say, "Two." But then, are you somehow denying your sweet Monkey-girl? It removes any awkwardness, but leaves a bad taste in your mouth.
Do you say, "Three" and leave it at that? No details, just three? If you know me, that doesn't exactly fly because it feels curt and abrupt.
Typically, I wind up judging the situation. If it's a brief conversation with someone I don't know and won't know well at all, I'll simply say, "Three girls." If they ask ages, I give them how old Hannah would be.
If I'm with someone who will see me frequently, such as a fellow parishioner, or one of Ellie's or Lil's classmates' parents, I'll say, "Two." As I get to know the people, I'll share, but it makes for a very difficult first-time conversation with someone you're going to be seeing somewhat frequently.
Today, Sam asked, and I responded with, "Three girls."
"Thirteen(!! Seriously??), nine and five in a month."
All was well, and then in the way of parents he asked, "Everyone doing well/enjoying school?" Meaning Han and Bitty.
Shit. (Yes, Beanie, you're right, I'm not supposed to say that word.)
This is where I lie to save that awkwardness. :sigh: "Yup. They all love school. The littlest is anxiously awaiting next fall and really doesn't care that she's leaving me."
And, I was left feeling awkward with a bad taste in my mouth.
To be fair, folks no longer react with the same horror when they ask and I answer we lost her seven years ago. Seven years is much farther away than one or two years and provides some sort of invisible cushion, making it easier for folks to process and respond to.
But, I hate this. This sucks. And, worst of all, I can't see that this situation is ever going to get any better. :o(
1. The chiropractor and my almost fixed back!
2. Crystal was a godsend with Ellie today. Hooray for good friends and neighbors!
3. Spring is showing its face here and there in the form of lovely flowers and lambs at CW.
4. One of the ladies in the chiro's office couldn't say enough wonderful things about my hair. :o) Seriously, who doesn't love to hear their hair is awesome? ;o)
5. Easy dinner of cereal because B had to go donate blood and I had a splitting headache (too much chlorine at the pool today :oS).
Wednesday, March 25, 2015
|Who will discover the lambs with me next spring? :o(|
Parenting is so very very hard and so many folks make it look so easy, and it's so frustrating when it's NOT easy and everyone else seems to just have it all together somehow.
I have good girls. They are. They're kind and generous and big-hearted and patient (depending on the situation), and children others don't seem to mind being around. They can converse with children and adults and are well-mannered out in public. I really have nothing to complain about, I know.
But, when it feels like your relationship with your child is suffering, and you worry they're only going to remember you as that awful nagging, yelling parent who was always disappointed with you, (and I'm not always yelling and nagging, and not often that disappointed), you know you need to change something.
|I was Co-Op parent helper this morning and we planted spring greens!|
Bean's first three and half years or so were incredibly trying and difficult for me. She didn't need much sleep. She had a tiny tummy and couldn't eat too much at once and therefore had to be nursed every two hours. She began moving at four months (as ridiculous as it sounds, it's documented here on the blog in the archives) and hasn't stopped moving since.
She's a giant ball of explosive energy and impulsivity and I can clearly recall visiting Liss one Spring Break when El was about two or so and finally getting her down to bed (she NEVER slept when we traveled--EVER) and going down to see Mom. She looked at me in sheer exhaustion and recognized the same in me and let out a gusty woosh of relief. "What would you have done if she were your first?"
"She'd have been my only." And, at the time, I seriously meant it.
I adored her with every fiber of my being, but holy hell, she was Destructor, the destroyer of all that was good and beautiful and peaceful.
|I LOVE this cutie patootie watering can they have.|
But then, something miraculous happened. It was a slow, gradual process. So slow, in fact, I didn't even realize what was happening until it had passed.
My little Destructor, the child who refused to sleep or nap or sleep through the night, suddenly wasn't. She was no longer so stubborn or willful. She started sleeping for a solid ten/eleven hours a night. She didn't destroy things.
Instead of being her jailer and parole officer, constantly monitoring all she did because lord knew if it were there to be gotten into she'd get into it, she was my little buddy.
|I finished planting what the kiddos didn't. We'll see what happens. ;o)|
Everyone says, "Oh wow! You're going to have so much time on your hands! What are you going to do with yourself?"
Honestly, I have no clue. They say it as if it's a good thing. And, yes, in the rational and logical part of my brain, I know it is. Alas, this mama's heart is not as logical nor as rational.
|She asked to "do cards" so I pulled out Lil's old flashcards. This is the stack of words she knew. I had NO clue...|
"Ellie, who's going to keep me company at lunch next year?"
"I don't know. I'm going to be at school. All day!!!"
I'm often greeted with, "I wish I could go to school on the bus and stay there all day, every day, like Lily."
|She can order from least to greatest and the reverse.|
I didn't have this problem with Han or Lil. I always had a baby at home or on the way. I was working with Han, and with Lil, I had Bean bean the destructive machine to deal with.
|Here she matched the number words with the corresponding numeral.|
Then, I panicked, thinking about how little and young she is, wondering how in the world she's going to manage to eat her lunch in a timely fashion.
|I love that my girls love their boxes so much.|
I NEVER thought of Han or Lil as being too young (and Han was only FOUR when she started school!!) or worried about them. When you have a baby and a big kid in the house, you realize how big that kiddo really is. When you are left with just a big kid, even if they're doing more chores and more to help around the house than either of their siblings ever did at that age, they are still and always will be "the baby". We all still call her that.
And, she will always be "the baby".
She's a very eager people pleaser. (I may be repeating myself and in fact, wonder if I didn't already write this in my last post, bear with me if I did, but I feel it's important to put out there just in case...)
She will burst into tears and cry if I (or anyone) speaks sharply to her because she knows she's displeased us. While this makes life easier for now, I worry for her on down the road. Peer pressure is a terrible thing. :o(
Lil? I have no worries about her. But Bean...oh dear...
In spite of this, she's tough. So tough. She's not afraid to work her body hard and if she falls down she jumps right back up again. Because I'm teaching swimming, she has TWO HOURS of swimming lessons twice a week. It channels that energy and gives her focus and wears her out.
She's not afraid to try new things and is the ultimate problem solver. She mostly seems to figure things out on her own and I think she might be pretty smart...
I feel some guilt because we are getting along so well and Lil and I struggle so much. Okay, I feel a LOT of guilt. :o( I worry there will be perceptions I love one girl more than the other. I worry about that quite a bit.
I'm grateful for this time in our lives, that we've had it, that we can go on our jaunts to CW and trips to TJ's and that she'll always have these memories. But, what good memories does Lil have? :sigh:
I'm grateful to be struggling with only one child at a time, though. I'm sure the tides will turn and before too long I'll be getting along gang-busters with my Bitty B and at loggerheads with Bean. It's bound to happen, and if I've learned nothing from my grief, enjoy the good days while they're here, don't worry about that other shoe dropping.
The journey to this point was long and arduous. So, I'm going to enjoy this time in our lives together and let tomorrow take care of itself.
1. Last Friday I was supposed to work on our quilt with Grandma.
4. Helping with Co-Op today. I love spending time in the classroom!
5. A good chiropractor. I haven't seen Sam in ten years (since the week before Lil was born, as a matter of fact), but I'll be seeing him Monday. I borked my back. Details to come soon. In the meantime, if you're the praying sort, prayers for healing for my back would be much appreciated...
6. Sunshine! I may not be able to get out and work in my yard and gardens the way I would like (see note about borked back above), but I can enjoy all that delicious Vitamin D I'm soaking up and in. :o)
Sunday, March 22, 2015
However, there's so much knocking at my brain, begging to get out I have to start somewhere. So, I'll start with this sweet girl right here. I'm struggling lately with her and me and the way I interact with her.
I look at this photo and I think how old she looks. She's growing up so quickly and time is getting away from me. She's more than mid-way through third grade and fourth grade (a grade I always regarded as being so old when I was in elementary school) is on the horizon. We have SOL tests looming (not SOL like you and I knew it, but "Standards of Learning"--what in the world was the state of VA thinking to come up with such an acronym??) and double digits and bras and periods and hormones and her utterly hating my guts. I could cry.
I know the majority of those things are a way off yet, but really, they're not. These nine years have truly flown by. I'm halfway through with her. Adulthood is there on the horizon. There's so much we need to do to prepare her for that, and she fights us all the way. :oS
She is, and always has been, an independent thinker. She has her ideas about the way things should be and how chores should be done, and be damned everybody else's way. There are ways to complete her chores (or any task) that I know are easier from life experience. I try to help guide her, set her up for success, and she'll look me in the eye, nod her agreement, and then go off and do it her own way. The task will then be half-done/not done properly and she'll have to do it again. And, often, yet again, at which point she and I are both utterly frustrated and irritated with the other and if she had only done it the way I (or Brien) explained, it would have been finished the first time with no tears or frustration.
I'm not saying my way is always best--for of course it's not. I'm open to suggestions. Truly. Yes, I'm a control freak (I accept this about myself, my little experiment with the broken ankle taught me nothing), but if you can explain to my why something will work better, I'll give it a go.
Lil's nine. She's growing and changing and working towards being ever more independent. I accept that. That's as it should be. With that growth and maturity come more responsibilities, and well, I'm failing her as a parent... I know I've at times expected more than is reasonable with my girls, and often have to step back and ask myself, "Rachael, is this developmentally appropriate?!?"
In this case, I seriously don't believe we're expecting too much of Miss Bit. She's a member of our family, and as such, I expect her to contribute to our household. I have created checklists so she can be sure she's finished a task completely. I have chore charts. There's allowance. I've done everything I can think of to set the child up for success, and yet, she just doesn't. She wants to do things her way, or not at all (who can blame her? Chores SUCK! I explained the other day that really, adulthood is nothing but one chore you really don't like or want to do after another, and she didn't think that was so wonderful). I can't accept not at all. :sigh: You HAVE to help out. Why do I have to nag you in order for you to do your chores? :o( I hate the nagging and the fussing and the arguing and the mouthiness and all of it. I'm NOT enjoying this part of nine.
Lil is NOT a people pleaser. I'm fine with this, truly. More than fine, really. I'm a HUGE people pleaser and I've allowed it to make life very difficult for me. I struggle to say no (still working on it after 38 years) and want to make people happy. Lily, sweet beautiful daughter or mine, is not going to suffer like that and I am so happy for her. BUT, that also creates difficulties for me at this time because she's not going to do her chores just because it makes me happy. :oS I need to find some way to tap into her inner-sense of accomplishment and self-satisfaction in a job well-done and I have no clue how to do it.
B and I visit and revisit this. I'm clueless. :o(
Otherwise, things are going beautifully for my girl. She still loves school and has the most amazing teacher this year. She's being challenged and held accountable and works towards her goals. We're still working on her reading and stick-to-itiveness, but we're getting there. She's happy and has friends and no friend struggles this year and I truly believe this may be her best year yet. :o)
She's a funny little thing. She's very comfortable talking to adults and having conversations and holding her own. She doesn't shy away from it as some children do. She is bright and knows a lot about what is going on in the world around her, but struggles, because even though she knows quite a bit, her brain isn't yet developed enough to completely comprehend world events such as ISIS. We don't shelter her, but we don't put it out there either. ISIS has been in the news so much of late, and given the recent killings of the nine Egyptian Christians, our priest had an entire homily devoted to them. Lil has my anxiety disorder (sometimes I seriously wonder if I passed on any of my good traits to my girls) and I often find myself walking her through her anxieties step-by-step so that she can see her fears are not necessarily well-grounded in reality.
Here's were I confess I lack patience with her. If you come to me and ask me what I perceive to be an exasperating question, I want to respond with sarcasm and ask, "REALLY???" in a rather frustrated tone. Why don't I have more patience for this sweet, earnest girl of mine? Why do I fuss and fuss and fuss at her? Why can't I stop and cuddle and hug and snuggle more? I'm so afraid she's going to grow up thinking I don't love her and remember me as a fussing tyrant. Why can't I meet my frustrations with her with humor? Why must I always be sharp and grumpy?
I know the teen years are right around the corner. I know she and I will grapple and fuss and fight and our house will be fraught with tension if I don't do something about this now. It preys on my mind and I go in circles wondering how I can make things better. What can I do to improve our relationship? What can I do when she doesn't do what I've asked her to (repeatedly) and she repeats incessantly, "I'm so sorry, Mommy, I'm so sorry" and all I want to do is scream because, dammit, it's constant, this apologizing and not doing what you should be do and instead are goofing off? Why can't I accept my child for who she is and work from that point? Am I not creating far more heartache for myself than need be?
She's a beautiful child with a big heart. I don't mean beautiful in appearance (although, as her mama, I'm inclined to believe she's the most beautiful child in the world), but beautiful in spirit. She can be very generous and kind to her sister. She is well-mannered and well-intentioned, so why do I feel this compelling need to "cure" her of her willfulness (like getting into a battle of wills is going to fix anything there) and lack of responsibility and disorganization? Is it because I worry for her in the "real world" and trying to function there as an adult? That's the end goal, isn't it, adulthood and independence and being a functioning and contributing member of society? Am I so focused on the future I'm missing the present and what is right in front of my face??
These are the thoughts I've struggled with and haven't really sat to write and reflect and think about. Putting them here in words, somewhat organized, is helping me see where we're headed and what I need to do. I somehow forgot how therapeutic writing is for me. I can actually feel my shoulders and neck muscles starting to relax and give a little sigh of relief. Sitting here rereading what I've written I'm inundated with niggles of ideas and plans as to how to be the best mother I can, to be the mother Lily needs.
1. Hi anon from my last post!
here. I hope this helps!
2. Writing!!!!! I have missed this more than I realized! I will miss being able to go back in archives and see what we were doing a year ago, two years ago, during this absence in my writing. Drat it all. I'm better grounded when I sit and write and think aloud (so to speak).
3. My girls are playing in the woods. Let me repeat that so I can wrap my mind around it: my girls are playing in the woods. I have reached a big fat point of independence and it's so bizarre to me that I'm here. When you've been in the throes of infant, baby and toddlerhood for 13 years, it's odd when you're simply...not. Which reminds me, a post on Miss Bean must be forthcoming for five is a month away. FIVE!!!!!
4. SCG dinner last night. It's so so so delightful to be in the same place in life with two sets of friends who have children who all play together so beautifully. This group of friends is especially wonderful because we can all chat, or, we can break into groups or, we can pair off in any combination and always have excellent conversations. We're all of us comfortable with one another and I cherish it.
5. I do believe Spring is springing, even if there's a little snowflake in the forecast for next Saturday...
6. CW. Beautiful, wonderful CW. You pop into my head at least once each time I'm there, Peg. :o)
Growing as a human and a mama. Accepting I need to figure out how to change to improve my relationship with my ever-changing girlie.