Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Choices and Toddlers

If you are a parent of a toddler, you've probably read or been told or heard it on the radio or watched it on tv that during the "terrible twos" (or threes, or fours....) you should give your child choices in their daily life which will "empower them" and consequently lessen tantrums and such.  It will teach them to make decisions for themselves in daily life.  It helps life skills!  

Here is an example of decision making in life:

Doug: "Where do you want to eat?"
Me: "I don't know."
Doug: "There is Mexican, Italian, Seafood, Chinese..."
Me: "Um...I don't know."
Doug: "What do you feel like eating?  Any cravings?"
Me: "Um, nope.  I don't know.  You decide."
Doug: "Okay, decide between Mexican or Italian.  Which do you want?"

Now, since he narrowed it down, I can usually go through the process of "we ate Mexican last week, so let's try Italian."  Sometimes.  But other times, I just want to eat.  And I don't really care.  And what would you like?  Really, which would YOU prefer, my dearest other half?  This is not me being sacrificial.  This is me really asking you to tell me where I'm going to eat.  I'll be happier.  I'll be safer.  I'll be empowered by your love for me.

And for goodness sake, we'll get to eat faster since my mind obviously isn't working.

Well, I am the parent of a toddler and I don't know if it is because she is a female toddler or because she is an occasionally grouchy/hungry/sleepy/the-gravitational-pull-of-the-moon-removed-her-normally-cheerful-self toddler, but offering her these choices often results in a far bigger hullabaloo than I really want to figure out how to deal with. 

Some good friends reminded me today that when giving a toddler choices, only give two choices - her little brain will become boggled otherwise.

Fur instance:

*Me thinking* "Okay, Mexican, Italian, Seafood, Chinese...?  I guess that makes all others an option as well?  Is he saying fast food, too?  What about a steak house?  Good grief, what about the Wal-Mart deli??"

Likewise, sometimes Charissa can't decide and instead of telling me "Which would you like, Mom?"  This is usually what happens:

Me: "Do you want your flower boots or Croc-ees?"
Charissa: "Umm...Cwoc-ees."
Me: "Okay!  We'll wear the croc-ees today." *begins putting them on*
Charissa: "NO!  I want my FOWER BOOTS!"
Me: "But you just said you wanted your crocs!  Okay, you want to wear your boots?"
Charissa: "YEAH!" *angered voice"
Me: "Okay, fine.  We'll wear boots." *looks at clock* "Alrighty!  We're all ready!  Let's go."
Charissa: *kicks off boots and begins to exhale rapidly through her nose* (this means trouble)
Me: "What's wrong????"  *sigh - looking at clock*
Charissa: "I wanna wear my CROC-EES!"
Me: "But you just said...!!!"

And so it goes.  By the time we're finally out the door I'm irritated and Charissa is in tears and for pity's sake - what just happened??  Is she schizophrenic???

No.  She's just (almost) three.  And sometimes (a lot of the time), she needs guidance.

So I've decided, choices are okay - some of the time.  But if it's looking like that choice might take a very involved hour and we don't have an hour or she's really just power playing (recall, dropping the spoon off the high chair?  Yes?  Same thing) or she's grouchy/hungry/sleepy/the-gravitational-pull-of-the-moon-removed-her-normally-cheerful-self, then her first choice stands.  The Crocs it is - period.  Even though it occasionally results in carrying a kicking, screaming toddler to the car under one arm and the crocs in the other hand.  (That has never happened to you, right?) 

But sometimes, I don't even give her a choice.  She's wearing her boots outside.  It's muddy and I'm not washing her shoes.  If the child psychiatrist would like to come wash her shoes and jeans, be my guest.  But until then, she's wearing boots.  Or, she's sitting on the time-out chair thinking about obeying and wearing boots.  Sometimes, these choices are far more important concerning her safety ("No, you may not walk on the icy pond.") and her health (Yes, you are going to eat you dinner before ice cream.")

I guess I could just say "I'm the Mama that's why!" but it goes deeper than that.  She's (almost) three.  She isn't about to go and buy a home or move to Europe.  She hasn't even mastered going to the potty unassisted.  I don't expect that of her.  Until she does become the beautiful, strong-willed, independent lady that I know she will be, I'm the authority figure.  Not her buddy, not her maid, not her person that makes brownies and let's her eat the batter with a spoon...

Well, I guess I might fall into those categories, too.

I am her mother.  God gave her to me not just so I can boss her around (or for her to boss me around) but for me to help guide her in making decisions and sometimes, that means making them for her or teaching her to stick to her word.

I pray that I am a leader she respects and loves.  Even more, I pray that she will know God in that same way and see that He's my leader, too.  It's a tall order as a parent.  In fact, it's impossible on my own.  Thankfully, I'm not on my own :-)

Someday when she is on her own and buying a home or moving to Europe, I pray she will know Who to ask for help.  That she will know that she is never just on her own.  She will have choices, but I pray she will seek answers from Someone far wiser than me. 

"If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God,  
who gives generously to all without reproach, 
and it will be given him."
James 1:5

"See Mama?  Day match!"

(Sometimes when I don't even give her a choice, she surprises me.
She even accessorizes.  And that she did NOT learn from her dear, 'ol Mom!)

Monday, February 21, 2011

Perhaps...'s time to re-install the child safety locks on our cabinets.  I say re-install because every single one has been broken by *ahem* ME while trying to access things in said cabinets and yanking them really hard. 

I was always surprised at the resistance.
Even after a year of their presence, I would yank.  Hard. 
The flimsy plastic locks finally just gave up.
That weird adult-child was to strong for them.

Brandt has discovered the joys of removing everything out of the cabinet and hurling them around the kitchen.  It makes such a fabulous noise.

 There is such an attraction.

 He has such a dedication of purpose.

 I can't help but admire it.

"Yeah!  I ROCK!"

 So I cleaned it all up and not one second later...

"Heh heh, she stacked them up just for ME!"


His sister is, of course, behaving perfectly in the living room.
See her beautiful pink nails?


 Hum.  Maybe not so perfectly...

Maybe they know I'm the one that broke the security locks. 

Can't I get a little respect around here?

Saturday, February 19, 2011


We were outside.  It was gorgeous.  Together, we turned the dirt in our garden.  Doug and Charissa with shovels, me with a rake smoothing things out after them.  I asked Charissa to take a picture of me and Doug and the first result...I think will be the cover of our album.  If we ever, you know, make an album to need a cover.


There we are!  
(Bad hair day would be an understatement.  I was doing manual labor, okay??)

"Hi Daddy!"

 Love my sweet girl!

 Love my little man-o!

There was a full-price contract on our home but it has fallen through.  Thankfully, we know God is in control of all this, not us :-)  We've decided to keep acting like we'll be here for a while and go ahead with planting our garden in a couple weeks.  We figure someone else wouldn't mind moving in with a producing garden!

Our interview with Village Missions was on Thursday and it went very well.  We're very excited to see how God works out everything that needs to happen if the mission field is in His plans for us - it's all in His far-more capable hands!

Have a blessed Sunday!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Valentines and other matters

I know, Valentine's Day was yesterday but I didn't blog yesterday because...well, because I didn't, I guess.  

Anyway, it was frigidly cold the few days before heart day, so our sweet critter, Missy, and her now-best buddy (since Clyde is still gone *sigh*) Jack came into the warmth of our laundry room during the below zero temps.  This is Missy telling me she thinks I'm wonderful for letting her inside, but it really was very, very cruel to trap her in the little laundry room so she couldn't come trip me in the kitchen, drop ticks on the floor and cuddle.  It's such a hard life.

 Charissa made heart bracelets for her friends on Valentine's Day.  
It was a fun little project :-)

In honor of the beautiful Oklahoma snow, I taught Charissa how to make snowflakes.  I guess I did most of the work, she just unfolded them.  They are so pretty!  It should snow more often so we can enjoy them inside and out!  (That's my inner Colorado girl.  Here in Okieland, snow means death and despair, staples such as bread and Dr. Pepper vanish off the shelves, the roads are coated in tons of salt and they cancel the "Today" show to show coverage of people stuck in drifts.  And they are pretty impressive drifts, I'm not going to lie!)

The past few days have been simply glorious with birdies singing, sun shining and the smell of living things just waiting to burst forth from their winter slumber.  It's going to be a glorious spring!

 And because he's adorable and messy and you can see his new TOOTH, 
here is Brandt to wish you a pleasant evening!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Gross Out

I have castrated billy goats.
Mucking horse stalls was my life for three months.
I can process meat with the best of them.
I dissected an eyeball and thought it was cool.
I gave mouth to mouth resuscitation to a still-born goat kid (it lived, btw).
Charissa is a cloth diaper graduate and Brandt is currently in them.

Why am I telling you this?  'Cause I want to point out that I am usually a rather gnarly person.  I don't want to scare you away!  I like ya a whole lot!  But I am who I am...and sometimes that involves gross things.

But gnarly as I am, I can not, for the life of me, stand the little stringy things on the outsides of bananas.  They make my gag reflex...flex.  Do you even know what I'm talking about?  Please tell me you do because if you don't, and you have eaten bananas, then you might have, *gag*, consumed one of them!

When my husband eats a banana and I spy the little stringy things still on the banana as it enters his mouth, I freak.  I have been known to grab at them on their journey to his mouth.

Before feeding my baby a banana, I pick and pluck and thoroughly inspect to ensure not one weird stringy thing will enter my offspring's open mouth.  He trusts me!  How could I do that to him??

So anyway, I love bananas, but those stringy things are [one of] my gross out quirk.  What is yours?  Do you have one?  Or are you gnarly in every situation?  I knew a girl who claimed the feeling of terry cloth made her nauseous.  I know some of you have to have a weird one :-)

Random Fact: did you know if you push your finger into the middle of a banana it will divide into three equal pieces? 

Well, now you do!

(And I'm realizing, along with the Pioneer Woman, that my hands in pictures are terrifying.  That is all.)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Sing With Me!

It's snowing outside, so we are cozy inside.  
Charissa and Brandt decided to serenade us. 

I took a video but I had the camera turned 
like the pictures making the video sideways (duh)
but Brandt is saying "Ah-dah!" repeatedly & very loudly :-)

(Please excuse the pants-less state of my daughter.  She hasn't worn a normal set of clothes for more than 15 minutes since bringing home those "pwincess dwesses".)

Monday, February 7, 2011

Prayer of a Princess

While visiting family in Colorado, Charissa was playing dress-up with Laurel about 90% of the time.  She would come downstairs in a different frilly something-or-other about every hour, announce that she was a princess, parade around for the admiring crowd, then return upstairs in search of her next costume. 

Upon returning home, Charissa didn't know what to do with herself.  "Mama?  I need a pwincess dwess," she would say, sighing deeply.  She started wearing her Sunday dresses, changing them as often as I would assist her in pulling them off the hanger, but she would still sigh and say "day awen't PWINCESS dwesses."  Something needed to happen, or my laundry load was going to spiral out of control.

Finally, I sat Charissa down and told her that maybe she should ask God for a princess dress.  He hears all of our prayers and if we have a desire in our heart, we can tell Him.  She nodded solemnly, squinched up her eyes and said, "Fader? Pweese bwing me a pwincess dwess so I can be a pwincess.  Amen."

I checked craigslist and I went to thrift stores but nothing was found.  I saw them at the store...but $20 for a bunch of tulle seemed rather steep.  I finally went to Hobby Lobby to find supplies for producing something "princess-ey" but didn't come up with much my limited sewing skills could handle.

But I remembered Charissa's prayer and had peace that God would provide her a pwincess dwess, however He may choose to do it.

At church yesterday, one of my friends took me aside into the nursery and opened the door to a cabinet.  Inside the cabinet were seven princess dresses, eight pairs of glamorous heels, assorted capes & scarves, and a tiara.  "Take these home with you," she said, "Charissa can play with them at home and enjoy them."

  I told Charissa that her prayer was answered. 

That God knows she is His princess and He chose to give her these dresses. 

 She clasped her hands, "Fawder!  Tank you for awl my pwincess dwesses!  Amen!"

 As she put those outfits on one by one and twirled around the room, 
my eyes got misty.

  That God would hear the simple prayer of a little girl and grant her wish, however frivolous it may have been,

 He truly is a loving Father!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

A Fearless Warrior Story

I saw Clyde last Friday.  He was stretching full length up a tree, sharpening his claws and enjoying life.  That night, he didn't show up for dinner and hasn't shown up since.  Him not showing up for dinner is nothing new, but him not showing up for almost a week afterward is very much completely new.  Clyde is a loyal, neutered cat that doesn't pass up a meal and a good chin scratch if he can help it.

And you might have heard: there's been a bit of snow in these parts.  Some are calling it a blizzard.  There have been some really low temperatures, too.

Our pond froze with very thin ice.  Clyde likes to walk on ice. 

The coyotes had a crazy party the two nights before the snow storm.  Clyde is soft and, perhaps, a tad chewy...

Okay, I'll stop now.

Anyway...I've been thinking a lot about Clyde today and one story keeps popping up in my memory.  I thought I'd share it.

It was last spring.  I was still pregnant with Brandt.  Charissa and I were out at the pond.  I had been shooting some pictures of her playing in the sunlight and just taken a break to review them on my camera.  Clyde had joined us at the pond as usual, and Charissa was playing with him.  I noticed she was hitting him with what appeared to be a stick.  "Bad Cwyde.  Bad, bad!"

"Charissa," I called, "don't hit kitty Clyde.  It's time to go back inside for lunch, sweetie, so let's head in."

She dropped the stick and announced, "It's owie, Mama." 

"What's owie, baby?"  I walked over to investigate.

And my baby girl had blood sprayed all. over. her. body.  Her back, her front, her face, her hair, even her stuffed puppy dog she'd brought out to play with her.  Blood.  "Owie, Mama.  Owie," she said again calmly.

My first thought was that Clyde had scratched her.  But that had happened before and she had certainly let everyone know about it.

Then I noticed Clyde playing with the "stick".  

It was a snake, about three feet long, still alive and writhing, with its head bitten up.  

Then I REALLY freaked out!  

"WHERE IS YOUR OWIE?!?!?!"  I frantically searched every exposed part of her body.  Finding nothing, I picked her up in one arm, grabbed the snake by its tail in the other and ran to the house.  I threw the snake on our front patio and smashed its head with a rock.  Then I brought Charissa into the house, stripped her down and searched her everywhere for some kind of injury.  

What I couldn't figure out was how calm she was.  Surely if she had been bitten by a snake or scratched by Clyde she would indicate in some way where she was hurting?  

I finally gave up, washed off the blood, made her a PB&J, put her clothes in cold water, then went and stared at that stupid snake.  Clyde had moseyed up from the pond and had started playing with it again. After some internet research and phone calls, I came to the conclusion that it was only a Gardner snake so even if she had been bitten it wasn't poisonous.  And...she hadn't been bitten anyway.  I just had to know what kind it was. 

All I could figure was that Clyde, the fearless hunter-cat, had grabbed that 'ol snake by the head and then decided to share it with Charissa.  She hadn't approved of the "owie" Clyde had inflicted and decided to chastise him using his own prey for punishment, flinging blood all over her pink fleece, jeans and face.  

I went outside again.  Clyde was dinking around with that snake having a grand 'ol time.  I picked him up and cupped his fluffy face in my hands.  He was feeling pretty awesome about himself.

"Clyde," I began calmly, "If you EVER give my baby a maimed snake again, I will THROW YOU IN THE POND!!!  Do you understand???"

I put him down.  He arched against my leg, walked back to the snake, lay down and started rolling around on the ground next to it.  

"Yeah, you're pretty proud of yourself, aren't you?  Well, congratulations on killing a snake, you weirdo."

As I turned to go, he looked up at me with all four of his paws in the air.  

He was smiling.

Clyde, if you're reading this, please come home.  I'll let you walk on the dining room table.

Maybe just a little bit.
Love, Your Distraught Two-Legger

Wednesday, February 2, 2011