Monthly Archives: March 2011

Put A Little Love In The World

Today was a wonderfully miserable day. Or a miserable, yet wonderful day. I’m not really sure yet.

We move on Thursday, into a freshly built home. We’re all very excited. I get a gourmet kitchen, with a walk-through  pantry to the attached garage, and an office, and his and hers walk-in closets. I’m very excited : )

Ella gets her own room, so does Agatha. Plus they get an untouched basement for bikes and slides untilt he weather warms up.

Ryan will, eventually, have his ‘man cave’. But for now he’s content with his own bathroom sink, a huge soaker tub, and space. Space to do as he pleases. He’s also really looking forward to the multiple storage closets around the house that’ll allow me to hide the clutter easier.

Today, I drove the hour to the city to pay the remaining portion on our new appliances. I brought Cordelia with me. I also brought Ella.

Despite the fact that we only need to make it three more days until we’re in the new house Ella needed new clothes today. Her pants barely graced the top of her boots, and those were a good size too small. Her poor feet were cramped on all sides. Some shirts still fit her in length, but none fit her now much longer arms. Since I needed to drive to the city any way I thought it would be a good idea to buy an outfit or two to get us through the next couple days.

I also needed to buy a new microwave. Ours, the one included in the sale of our old home, died yesterday.

The first problem occurred roughly ten minutes after leaving home. Or rather before leaving home, but created an even bigger problem ten minutes down the road. Ella wanted to use her explorer in the van. However because of carseat placements and my fear of what could happen in the event of an accident Ryan and I said no to the explorer until further notice. Ella was unhappy. She cried. When I still said no, she screamed. When I didn’t give in, she shrieked. I honestly don’t think she was overly upset, her cries were forced. There were no tears. However I do believe she was upset.

Cordelia woke up. She does NOT like the van. And continued to not like the van for the next fifty minutes. I stopped, I burped her, I fed her, I changed her. Nothing satisfied her.

The drive took forever. Neither girl was happy, both girls cried. Loudly.

When we finally made it to Superstore everything improved. Except for the fact that I was wearing Cordelia and microwaves are heavy. But I managed.

When it was finally time to check out I discovered I saved ten dollars. If I had the coupon, that was ten isles over at the entrance. The lady behind us willingly to ran to get it for me. I was so relieved. I couldn’t imagine hauling a resisting Ella and Cordelia all the way to the entrance and back again.

A moment after that I also discovered I received two free clamshells of strawberries. Ella was ecstatic. All day she’d requested berries, but I said no due to cost. The problem? I needed the coupon. It was at a different entrance -plus I needed the strawberries. Cordelia started to cry. I was done. I said “thank you, but I’ll pass.” The teller took pity on me and ran to get the berries and coupon for me. I paid and started to leave. Customer service noticed me pushing a cart one handed while wearing a baby and herding Ella. She called someone to come and help.

The man pushed my cart to the van, loaded it, and then refused the tip I offered him. I’ll admit it wasn’t much, but he refused and said he was paid to push carts and load vehicles so wouldn’t take a tip.

I really couldn’t believe it. In one store, in the space of twenty minutes I met so many people willing to help out. Plus I got free strawberries.

Most days it seems as though people don’t even notice those around them. Everyone looks through everyone else. I’m sure a large part of it was the baby. Everyone loves babies. Whatever the reason it felt really good to have someone else see a person in need and help out without expecting anything in return.

I left the store in a better mood, and better equipped to remain calm with both girls.

Has someone made your day a little easier? A little brighter today? Have you done something to help someone else?



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Should Siblings Be Without Rivalry?

For Months I’ve heard people recommend this book, “Siblings Without Rivalry”, yet I’ve refrained from reading it. I’ve read pretty much every other parenting book out there, even when the person recommending it parents completely opposite of us. My reason for reading all of them is that even a book or a person I disagree with can help me along my journey to becoming a better parent. When I see someone do something that goes against my parenting philosophy it solidifies in my mind why I parent the way I do. It also allows me a chance to see better ways to approach something similar in my own family.

So why did I balk at reading “Siblings Without Rivalry”? A book recommended by many people who parent in a similar manner? Easy. The title scared me.

Siblings without rivalry. The words indicate that it’s both possible and desirable to have no rivalry in a home. That initial reaction left me feeling inadequate. My children fight. A lot. Some days I have no idea what to do. Ella chases Agatha around the house while Agatha screams and cries. Agatha follows Ella everywhere, even when Ella’s asking for space so she can calm down – then Ella loses it and hits Agatha. My girls love each other deeply, but they fight – sometimes they’re downright mean to each other. I didn’t want to read a book that indicated my children shouldn’t be fighting – that would mean I was doing something terribly wrong.

Put the camera down, and rescue me!

Not only do I think I’m doing a pretty good job, but I think rivalry is a necessary part of growing up.

I don’t mean parents should create it – far from it. But I think rivalry helps children learn how to navigate social interactions. Though it only provides learning if parents facilitate the learning in the beginning. When they’re little parents need to model ‘fair fighting’. Parents also need to help their toddlers and preschoolers work through disagreements so everyone comes away feeling respected and safe. A toddler won’t know how to ask for a toy he wants and another toddler won’t know what to do when someone takes her toy. As parents we can help them learn how to ask. And how to stand up for themselves without hurting anyone.

However, as children get older it’s important for parents to step back and let them disagree, let them yell at each other. Let them learn what happens when they say X, Y, or Z. they’ll find out what happens when they ruin a siblings prized possession.

Those were my thoughts. And they haven’t changed after reading the book.

I wasn’t sure what to expect, but wanted to keep an open mind.  First, I think many of the ideas presented in the book are very similar to their other book “How to Talk So Your Kids Will Listen…”. Second I was pleasantly surprised. They didn’t suggest siblings shouldn’t fight, or even that it was possible to prevent fighting. They did provide ideas on how to support each child so when fights occur children will be able to feel respected and safe. The book also highlight things many parents do that creates further tension between children and greater levels of rivalry.

For the most part we already use many of their techniques, but it’s always great to have a reminder. There are also new ideas presented that we’ll try out over the next few weeks to see how things go.

I’m going to make a point over the next week to pay closer attention to the girls disagreements and how they resolve. Do they need help, how do I react, was everyone able to feel safe and respected?


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Han Solo or Indiana Jones?

A few weeks ago we introduced the girls to “Star Wars: A New Hope”. They. Loved. It.

Every night for a week, maybe longer, we watched the movie. Agatha’s favorite is Darth Vader. When Darth Vader boards Princess Leia’s ship, Agatha laughs, “he’s so Scawy”. Ella’s favorite is Han Solo. He’s exciting.

A couple days ago while visiting friends, the girls played Lego Indiana Jones on the Wii. An interest was sparked.  “Indiana Jones and Raiders of the Lost Ark” was the the next step, though we did debate whether we might be better off starting with “The Last Crusade”. It’s my favorite.

On a slight aside, I forgot how scary the movie is, how graphic. Some people might laugh – after all compared to most movies we see now, Indiana Jones is neither scary, nor graphic. However, if you think back to when you were a kid, perhaps you also sat on the edge of your seat while watching. Now imagine you’re 2.5 or 4 years old and Beauty and The Beast is still slightly frightening.Indiana Jones ups the ante just a little.

The movie begins. We point out Indie to the girls, but for the first few minutes we really don’t see his face.the see his hat, his clothes.

When he returns to civilization the girls were momentarily confused by the mild mannered professor, but quickly figured out that he was the same man dodging traps int he beginning. Then Ella made a wonderful observation: “That’s Han Solo!”

For the first time I think she finally understood that the shows we watched, the movies, were completely pretend. She understood that the man, Harrison Ford, was just playing the character and wasn’t really either Han or Indie.

Even so, through out the movie the girls needed reassurance that it was all pretend. When a fight scene happened we’d tell them no one got hurt. When there was blood we’d point out all the things we could use to create realistic looking blood at home. We talked about our Halloween face paints.

At one point Indie grabs a white horse to chase the Nazi jeep. Ryan told the girls that in movies most good guys ride white horses and most bad guys ride black horses. Ella then pointed out that Gaston rides a black horse, and he’s a bad guy.

A part of me worried the movie was too scary, but the girls seem no worse for wear. In the end ALL the known bad guys are dead. They can’t hurt anyone anymore, and the good guys are alive and happy. After watching it the first time we thought we might hear a bad dream of some sort, but the girls slept well and awoke happy and eager to watch again.

Ella’s so excited about her discovery that people make movies and make up the stories. She’s creating her own story so she can make her own movie once we’re settled into the new house. In the mean time I think we’ll work on make-up and story lines to see what she can come up with.

Personally, I find it very exciting to see something as simple as a video game spark an interest that moves our girls in new directions, that expands their knowledge and experiences. Who knows, maybe she’ll be a great movie director when she gets older.


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Do The Froggy Boogie!

Agatha loves pocket frogs for our ipod. Of course her little fingers keep touching various areas of the screen causing all kinds of problems, but that’s a topic for a different post. This post is about the interest generated by that game.

Ever since she started playing, she’s been in love with frogs. Today she wanted to play frogs – not on a device – she wanted to be a frog. A white frog. A white, Mama frog. Ella was Daddy frog, I was  baby frog, and Ryan was a dwarf aquatic frog since he was wearing Cordelia and couldn’t hop about.

Mama Frog

As we played, the girls pretended to be tadpoles that couldn’t leave the water (they HAD to have a bath). Sometimes they had just a tail, other times they had legs to some degree. Ella clearly explained the various stages of metamorphosis, as she’d learned last spring while visiting the John Janzen Nature Center last spring. She also asked if we could take our nets to the pond in the spring to see if we can find more tadpoles.


Our game turned into a talk about what happens in spring, and what we’d find in the pond. Both girls were really excited about the idea of seeing the world wake up again, but their attention quickly shifted to other things. But in light of the subject I suggested we play Agatha’s favorite game: Froggy Boogie.

Boogie Time

In our home every interest seems to morph into something else. A simple game of pretend introduced several topics to Agatha and reinforced old ones for Ella. Every day is a learning adventure for our entire family.

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Life vs Writing

For various reasons I’m not finding a lot of time or energy to write. A million thoughts spiral through my head, but the ability to sit and type eludes me most days.

To start with, Cordelia eats enough to have passed birth weight by a full pound at two weeks of age. The majority of that eating occurs between the hours of 2400 and 0300. The rest of the night she tends to sleep great, but she still gets up after 3.5 hrs. Perfectly normal, despite what some people may think.

During the day she’s incredibly easy going. Provided she has a full tummy and a dry bum. If she’s dry and full, we put her in the sling or wrap and off we go to chase her bigger, faster sisters.

Speaking of sisters: Agatha now weights the same as Ella. Somewhere between 5 and 10 lbs of solid toddler appeared almost overnight. Ella’s still taller, but she’d better watch out, Agatha’s about to discover she’s not really the ‘little’ sister anymore.

During the day I’m attempting to read “Raising our Children, Raising Ourselves” by Naomi Aldort and I’m planning to read “Siblings without Rivalry” by Adele Faber & Elaine Mazlish. I’ve heard countless positive reviews of both books, and since I’ve read (or tried to read) all the other parenting books recommended I thought I’d try these as well. So far I like Aldort’s book, and believe I will take a few useful suggestions from it.

We also, finally, got a possession date for our new house, which means a lot of time’s been spent trying to get things lined up to move. We’re really crossing our fingers that we find a mover since there’s no other way we’d manage. Also really hoping we sell our current home.

Ryan’s still plugging away at fixing the remnants of the leak we had in the basement the day before Cordelia was born. Almost done. But while he works I’m watching three girls on my own inevitably that means something happens.

Plus we’re still making rounds visiting people. Slowly.

But the biggest reason(s) I’m not writing very much are the sweet baby smiles and the adorable giggles. I just can’t get enough of them, and since her most alert time is when I used to write, she gets priority.


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