Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Not a toddler anymore

Today was Amelia's first day out of the infant/toddler program and into her "big girl" 2-year old class. It's funny, she's been to that school since she was 3-4 months old. But every year, at the start of each new class, I get sooo nervous. And sad.

Amelia even went to summer school this year. But today she was dropped off into a different classroom with different teachers. No more drop-in tables, only big kid seats. No more sippy cups, only grown-up cups. Luckily, many of her friends moved up into the same class. So they provide her stability.

This morning, my girl was being so brave. She didn't cry. She stood in the classroom by herself for a minute, looking very worried. As I turned to leave, she looked at me. Her face turned pink, her eyes welled up with tears, and that sweet bottom lip began to stick out. She looked like she was about to burst. But she didn't. She stood there, trying to be strong.

Then she whispered, "I love you, Mommy."

AHHHHHH! My heart fell to pieces. But I, too, remained strong and kept my happy face going.

Then Amelia asked, "one more hug, Mommy?". I reached over the half-door and hugged my precious little girl. Then I turned to leave.

Then MY eyes welled up with tears.

That was hard!!! It would have been easier if she just cried.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Spreading the word

In terms of back-to-school, summer is pretty much over across the country. But us southerners still have hot weather, and we will continue to have have many kids in pools for the next few weekends.

I'm deviating from my usual blog content because I feel like I have to spread the word. For those of you who don't know, my sister-in-law suffered a terrible fall on July 8th and is learning to live life paralyzed from the chest down. We have spent countless hours at the rehab hospital with her. 100+ people are at this facility on any given day. And in the summer months, many of the injured patients, paraplegics and quadriplegics, sustained their injuries from diving accidents. Diving into pools that are not sufficient depth for diving. Diving into the ocean, not realizing a sandbar was underneath. Diving off a pier into seemingly deep waters.

I see kids flopping themselves into our neighborhood pool quite often. I see teenagers lunging into the ocean when we're on a beach vacation. And for the rest of my life, I'll probably cringe when I see those things. My daughter will not do those things when I'm around.

More than 850 spinal cord injuries occur from diving-related injuries each year. The majority of these result in quadriplegia - paralysis of all limbs.

Is this on your pool?
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DON'T DO IT!

I don't want to cause fear or seem overzealous here... but I couldn't let it slide. As our summer heat winds down, just think an extra second before you let your child dive. Or throw them haphazardly into the water. And remember it next year. And the next. And the next. And for years beyond that. Most diving-related spinal cord injuries occur between the ages of 15 and 25. But they can happen at all ages.

Thanks for letting me be a little heavy tonight. I couldn't ignore it any longer.

We all love our kids! Even the teenagers.

Sunday reminder

Giveaway! $15 WalMart gift card and apple charm pin.

Accepting entries through 8/31 - only a couple days left.

Click HERE to visit the giveaway post and enter!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Tearful shopping

I spoke again to a therapist about Amelia. I'm trying to be the "perfect mom" by making sure she isn't getting damaged by the stressful/emotional environment around here. I've watched enough Supernanny and Nanny 911 to know that most kid issues are the fault of the parents and/or environment. And I do not want to screw this kid up. She's too amazing.

Amelia really embraces her visits to the rehab center to see her aunt. She has never batted an eye at the wheelchairs she sees there. She's happy to ride along with her aunt or "steer" the wheelchair as she walks along beside it. But lately, Amelia has been acting strange. And I wanted to understand everything I could about how this may be affecting her - and causing some of these new behaviors.

We've been through two phases of separation anxiety before. Around 7 months of age and earlier this year. Amelia is in quite a serious anxiety phase now too. She cries and screams when I leave the room. She chases me upstairs if I'm simply going to brush my teeth. She wants to play with Mommy, sit by Mommy, sleep with Mommy. She's waking in the night and calling for us again. Amelia has pranced merrily into her classroom 2x/week for the past 11 months, but now she's clinging to me and crying again. Today, she begged me not to take her to school.

Hear that? It's the sound of my heart breaking.

We've had family members in and out of our house for a couple months now. And will for at least one more month to come. It's the least we can do for everyone while my sister-in-law is in the rehab center (we're the only ones that live in the Atlanta area). But Amelia's first question every morning is, "who is here, Mommy?"

She is very concerned with who is here, who has left, who is or isn't coming back. Even Daddy leaves for the day to go to work, and she has to confirm with me that he is (1) only at work and will (2) definitely be home tonight. With all of the in & out, I assume she sees me as the one who is always here. Always here when she wakes up, always there to pick her up from school. And I'm sensing some fear in her - maybe she thinks one day I'll leave while she's not looking.

Anyway, I got some fantastic tips for dealing with Amelia's new found anxieties. I'm supposed to not just respond to her concerns, but explain to her what they are. I've been saying, "Mommy always comes back" over & over again, but I should be prefacing that with, "You were afraid Mommy was going to leave, weren't you? You felt sad because you were scared without Mommy." Amelia is only two, so she needs help tying her emotion to a cause.

Check. I can do that.

The therapist also recommended that I get some special books for her. Books regarding family member illness, fears, and worry. So I took a trip to Barnes & Noble. I didn't find anything for our situation, or appropriate for Amelia's young age. Most of these books seem to hit more of the 4+ age groups. But the multitude of therapy books on the shelves was eye-opening. And I became sad. Even a little teary-eyed.

Books about divorce:
I Don't Want to Talk About it
It's Not Your Fault, Koko Bear

Books about cancer:
When Mommy Loses Her Hair
Can I Still Kiss You?

Books about death:
Help Me Say Goodbye
I Don't Have an Uncle Phil Anymore

Okay, A LOT teary-eyed. It hurts my heart to think of children who have to deal with such grown-up things. Kids should be happy, carefree, playing.

But things happen. More things than I had in mind, since I was keeping my tunnel vision on our own singular family situation.

Stop and hug your child today. And really feel it. That's what I'm going to do.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

an evening reminder...

Don't forget to enter for the $15 WalMart gift card & apple charm pin! You're already here, so pop on over to THIS POST and leave a comment. You'll be entered. It's that easy! (Just make sure I have a way to contact you if you win - your blog, email, Twitter, etc.)

Nighty-night. :)

How NOT to use the potty

It's time for another Thursday post inspired by Mama Kat's Writing Prompt! This week I chose prompt number four:

Can it be saved? Think of something that is ruined when it’s totally wet: like a newspaper or a piece of cheese. Write a scene (truth or fiction) that involves you and a soaked item.

I've never been a cell phone junkie. I don't have the latest & greatest. I don't own a smartphone. But I always tried to get the next best thing - whatever was fun, maybe a little funky, just one step down from the smartphones.

I enjoyed my last phone for a mere seven months. After which I learned two very valuable lessons:

(1)
Never leave something important in reach of an inquisitive toddler

(2)
Always follow the inquisitive toddler if he/she heads towards the bathroom

One evening, Amelia snatched my cell phone off the end table. So stealthily, in fact, that I didn't even notice. What must have been mere seconds later, she scampered over to the bathroom. Where the toilet lid was conveniently open. Before I could get there, I heard the "plunk!".

My phone! My phone took a swim in the toilet.

I let it dry out overnight, and it actually worked OK. Only the on/off button wouldn't function. So I left it turned on, day and night, for a few weeks. Until one day. Until the day it couldn't get a signal. And I figured I'd turn it off to let it restart. Since the on/off button didn't work, I brilliantly decided to take the battery out to turn it off.

Herein lies the problem...

It turns out the ON/off button is a requirement to get the phone back ON! No matter what I did, I could not get that phone back on.

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Turns out it didn't really survive that toilet swim after all.

Now I'm using the cheapest possible phone. Holding out until January when I'll switch to the provider my husband uses. He has an iPhone... maybe I can get one too?

I promise to keep it away from toilets.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Sugar & Spice - for now

Newsflash!

My fiery little princess may be emerging from her terrible twos!!!

Could it be?
She has been really sweet lately.

Amelia is listening much better to instruction - when I tell her it's clean up time and I sing the clean-up song, she actually cleans up!

Amelia is more understanding of Mommy's feelings - when I tell her I'm too hot/tired to play outside anymore, she pats my arm and says, "It's OK, Mommy. I'll rub your back."

Amelia's transitioning has improved - the "first this, then this" logic is finally starting to sink in. She does use this to her own advantage sometimes ("Just one more show, Mommy, then I'll take a nap."), but at least we're communicating.

This is not to say we don't have tantrums and disagreements, but those tend to be brief and somewhat easily fixed. She is relying on the pacifier for shorter & shorter periods of time before handing it over to play.

I think my little girl is growing up. Again!

If this indeed marks a turning point in Amelia's attitude, I will soon happily announce that I survived the terrible twos! Not easy. I have a daughter with a little edge to her personality. She is independent, opinionated, and very vocal when it comes to her wants and needs. I feel like I've been beaten by a little Jekyll & Hyde for 4 months. If this is the end... or at least an improvement... I will be one happy mama.

Right now, the more experienced mothers are laughing at me. Just wait, they say. Just wait until age three. Just wait, they say. Wait until you have more than one kid. Just wait... it's coming back one day.

I know, I know.

But for now, let me live in my little cocoon of bliss. I'm enjoying it here.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Not Me! Monday

Linking up to MckMama's Not Me! Monday.

It was not me who laid on the couch an extra hour this morning while my daughter played by herself.

It was not me who bribed my daughter with red gummy fish so she would get in the car without a fuss.

It was not me who fed her lunch at a fast food restaurant.

And it is certainly not me, stalling potty training just because I don't feel like dealing with it yet.

I would never do such things! :)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Ode to ketchup

Oh ketchup, thou "red dip",
you have won my daughter's heart.

So tangy and colorful,
you excite her palate when paired with...
anything.

And even all alone, on a spoon,
you bring joy to her meals.

She scrunches her nose at the broccoli,
until "red dip" is squirted on the plate.

She dips the broccoli.
She dips the cheese.
She dips the chicken and ham.
Even dipped grapes aim to please.

Thank you, red ketchup,
be you Heinz or Hunts.
For bringing new foods,
to my baby's lunch.

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(Want to buy more ketchup? Click here to enter for a $15 WalMart gift card)

Friday, August 20, 2010

FIRST giveaway! Back To School

It seems all the kiddos are back to school now. My daughter's preschool class begins August 31st. She attended all summer long, so not a big change for us. I do anticipate some adjustment with the different classroom and teacher, but hopefully nothing too dramatic.

Today, I took her class supplies list to the best place for such a task - WalMart. When you need giant boxes of tissues, baby wipes, and a ton of glue sticks, WalMart is the place. They actually had folders on sale for one cent! I didn't need any folders, but had no idea anything was sold for one cent these days.

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To celebrate back-to-school time, I'm giving away a $15 WalMart gift card and an apple charm pin. The pin is in honor of my sister-in-law, who is a teacher and missing the start of a new school year while recovering from her serious accident. Family & friends have been selling these pins as a fundraiser for her. You can have one too!

You can enter for the $15 gift card and pin through August 31st. Winner will be notified by September 2nd.

How to enter:
- Follow me on Blogger (one entry)
- Follow me on Twitter @BalancingMama (one entry)
- 'Like' 3 Moms In One on Facebook (one entry)
- Leave a comment on this post telling me which of these you did (if you're already following on some of these, just remind me).
- Double your # of entries for tweeting: Back-to-school #giveaway at 3MomsInOne.com. $15 WalMart gift card! Enter and follow @BalancingMama http://bit.ly/cb9NYB

Good luck!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Thankful Thursday

Lately, I represent a dazzling mix of confusing and conflicting emotions.

I've been feeling crowded... yet lonely.
Frazzled... but bored.
Proud... and disappointed at the same time.

The rest of the world glances at the upheaval we're experiencing, offers a quick smile, maybe a word of encouragement, and then retreats back to petty concerns and narcissism. But we're in it. Deep. Through thick & thin. Banding together as a family until life becomes normal again. With a 28-month old diva on the side, just to add that extra level of difficulty.

But you know what? I have SO MUCH for which I am truly thankful. Therefore, it is time to hit "pause" on the drama and take a moment for Thankful Thursday.

TODAY I AM THANKFUL FOR FAMILY.

For...

- My sister-in-law. For her perseverance and determination.

- My daughter. For her intelligence and sense of humor.

- My husband. For his dedication to his family, despite never-ending career pressures.

- My parents. Because I always know they will come to my aid.

- My sister. For never letting me forget how much Amelia is loved by others.

- My in-laws. For showing what a family will do when the going gets tough.

- ME. For my health, heart, and home.


"In a time of test, family is best."
(Burmese proverb)


Have a great - and thankful - day!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Wordless (almost) Wednesday

One year ago, Hilton Head beach trip. It took Amelia less than 5 minutes to find her special surprise in Grandma and Granddad's bags. The joy on her face was priceless! Luckily, I had a camera in hand at the right moment.

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Beach trip coming up again soon! I cannot wait for some lazy days on the sand listening to the waves crash on the shore. Maybe a sandcastle or two with my hubby and my girl.

I wonder what surprise Amelia will find in her grandparents' luggage this time?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Give me a D! Give me an R!

Give me a D-R-A-M-A! What's that spell?

DRAMA! Gooooo (away) drama!

Wouldn't life be more fun it is was simple?

D is for decision. It used to be fun deciding what Amelia would wear each day. No longer a simple task. This child fights everything! When I ask her to choose, she merely throws everything out of the drawer. Can I send her to school in PJs every day?

R is for reaction. How do I not react to all the insanity going on around me? Adults acting like children. A child acting out for attention. If only I could be calm, cool, and collected through all of this. Silly me has to get - involved.

A is for attention. The attention my child wants. The attention I occasionally I can't give. She knows the phrase "Mommy is working" a little too well. Lately she's been bringing her little pink toy computer over to the table. Plunking herself down beside me and saying, "Now Amelia is working too." Heart... melting!

M is for motion. My little family of three is always in motion. Amelia is nearly 2-1/2 years old. She never stops moving! I struggle every day to stop myself from moving. I feel guilt when I sit still. There are always dishes to be done, Or vacuuming. Or laundry. Or work. Steve is either driving to work or to a meeting. Or his hands are type, type, typing in response to 100+ emails he receives each day. We're on a carousel that never stops. And it doesn't even have pretty horses.

A is for acceleration. The feeling of my heart inside my chest. I'm stressed. I want to fix my SIL's pain. I want to console everyone else who has worry in their hearts. I want to better understand my daughter's tantrums so I can stop letting them get to me. I want to go to a 5-star hotel. With a spa. And a view of the ocean.

D-R-A-M-A!
Drama, drama, go away!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Blog-hopping on Monday

Finally, a good night's sleep! Thanks, Advil PM. And thanks to Amelia, who stayed in her room all night and didn't make a peep. She didn't wake until 9:00 a.m.!

So I'm feeling pretty good.

Now it's naptime, and we're doing out new naptime in Mommy's room routine. I love the forced quiet time. I got some work done, read part of a book, and now I'm checking out some newly-discovered blogs.

It's a blog hop! I added 3MomsInOne to the following:



One here too!
GiveawayBlogdom

Happy Monday, everyone!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Shhh... hear that?

Silence.

I love watching her sleep. Her sweet little round face is calm. The long eyelashes on her closed eyes are lovely. We're resting together in my room - our new favorite naptime spot. I listen to nothing but the sound of her gentle breathing. The phone is unplugged. My cell is on vibrate. I am forced to spend time in silence.

I like it.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Jeepers Creepers

"Jeepers Creepers, where'd ya get those peepers?

Jeepers Creepers, where'd ya get those eyes?"

(Lyrics from the 1938 film "Going Places")

I owe my thanks once again to MamaKat for making it easy on me. Once again, I was going to skip my post today. Then I realized it's a Thursday - the day to link up to Mama Kat's Writing Workshop.

Lucky for me, one of the prompts was a cinch:

The most unbelievable blue eyes you’ve ever seen…

Easy, easy, easy! My feisty little princess has the most unbelievable blue eyes I've ever seen. We melt whenever she stares at us with those round baby blues. And boy, does she know how to work those eyes already! We're in for trouble.

We figured her eyes would turn brown during her first year of life. I have very brown eyes. My husband has brownish-green eyes. Never did we imagine Amelia's gorgeous blues would stick. But they did!

If I remember my basic high school genetics lesson correctly, Amelia had a 25% chance of getting blue eyes. My parents have brown (Dad) and blue (Mom). This makes me a Bb. Steve's parents have brown (Mom) and blue (Dad), also making him a Bb. Whenever the dominant "big B" (brown) is in the mix, the eyes will be brown. So... the possible combinations of two Bb's are:

BB - brown

Bb - brown

Bb - brown

bb - Blue!!!!

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Lucky girl.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Crazy man

I have been married for 7-1/2 years to a wonderful husband - and friend. He is helpful around the house, understands (and tolerates!) my quirks, and truly adores his little girl. I know a few people who don't have that kind of support at home. And it's heartbreaking.

These days, however, Steve and I consider ourselves lucky if we manage to watch one TV show together in the evening. More often than not, he barely gets Amelia to bed before booting up the computer and getting back to work. Or I'm so worn down that I just want to curl up in bed with my latest ebook on the Nook. We both know that the craziness is temporary. We're both striving to find some sanity again. And in the meantime, I've learned how that little spark of love can show up in the strangest ways.

We were coming home from the rehab hospital, three kiddos in the back seat, laughing and singing children's songs. We stopped at Costco for some gasoline. That's when I heard some Amelia giggles. There was my husband, peering in the backseat window while pumping the gasoline. Making ridiculous faces at the kids. Really silly ones... not lazy just-stick-his-tongue-out kind of faces, but full-on wacky contortions of every possible facial muscle. The kids thought this was hilarious. Amelia's laugh was priceless.

And at that moment, laughing along with the kids, it struck me just how much I love this guy.

Crossed eyes, puffy cheeks, and buck teeth.... who knew?

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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Drama queen in action

I wish I had the energy to write thought-provoking posts each night. But not so much right now.

It's hard to live life in the "real" world when something so truly real and difficult to grasp is right smack in the middle of my world. SIL is doing well, by the way... but the ups & downs will continue. And the physical change she needs to accomplish is still a while away. (But we know she'll get there!)

When I can't coax my brain into a place to write, I tend to rely on photos. Shame on me, I know.

But hey - deal with it. :)

Since I've already done a couple photo posts in the past week, I'll graduate to a video instead.

Enjoy - my favorite drama queen in action!


Sunday, August 8, 2010

Pacifier obsession

Amelia is two years and 4 months old. And she loves her pacifier with all her heart. She had gotten really good about only using it for sleep, but we've regressed a little bit. She's been in the hospital environment a lot since my SIL had her accident, and we keep her happy with a portable DVD player, Elmo, and the pacifier.

So the paci is back in our home. It has moved out of the bed and is used for each boo-boo, each tantrum, and each moment of fatigue when she chooses to lay on the couch for a minute or two. I have to carry one in my purse again.

She is sleeping in her own bed again at night, but naps in Mommy & Daddy's room. With so much adult stress going on around her, I feel like giving in is the right choice. For now.

But I can't help feeling guilty about it as well. I never imagined I would have the pacifier preschooler. Who sleeps in my room.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Pic of the week

I was in the process of talking myself OUT of writing a new blog post. Another long day. In a series of many long and heart-heavy days. I'm not feeling very rested (or balanced!) these days. I'm super lazy about many things, including keeping up with 5-6 blog posts per week.

But then Twitter spoke to me.
Or should I say, MamaKat spoke to me via this tweet:

mamakatslosinit
Let's have a favorite photo of the week link up at my place. Who's in?

That sounded easy enough! So here you go. My favorite photo of the week:


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My sweet sister-in-law, enjoying some outdoor time in the garden. She has since begun to learn a manual wheelchair and has accomplished even more amazing tasks. This picture makes me smile. Beacuse it looks like peace. May God continue to grant her peace and strength.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

My little spelling bee

Amelia has foam letters she plays with in the bath. She knows how to recognize every letter. And she's begun "spelling" with them. In her own little language.

She's in the bathtub. She pulls out a W and a P. She sets them on the bathtub ledge.

"W! P! That spells polka-dot. And it says movie! I like movies."

She adds a letter (D, if I remember correctly).

"Mommy! See what I did? I spelled pig! Wait. No, wait! I need more letters."

She reaches in the bathtub toy bag and pulls out two handfuls of letters. Places them all on the tub ledge. It looks something like this: WPDHNJTSXAC

"See! It says tree."

This went on for 10 minutes. When Daddy got home, Amelia proudly announced,

"Daddy! I did letters in my bath! I can spell tree. And movie. Amelia is soooo smart."

Ahhh, laughter.
Must be what keeps us from going wacky in the midst of terrible twos.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Pigtails make me smile

I know, I know... it's time for a new post.

But I can't think on 3 hours of sleep.

So consider this an early Wordless Wednesday.

I'll call it "Too Tired Tuesday".


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How cute are these pigtails???

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Breathless Moments

"Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away."

One of my all-time favorite sayings.

At least it used to be.

What brings me joy?

My answers would have been quite different had I been asked one month ago. Like most of you, I likely would have listed some of those breathless moments. The birth of my child. Coming out of anesthesia post-surgery to see my husband smiling down at me. An amazing moment on a rocky cliff in gorgeous Hawaii.

But these days, in the aftermath of my sister-in-law's tragic accident, I know that joy can (and should!) come from the small things we usually take for granted.

What brings me joy?

EVERYTHING.

My sister-in-law had a bad fall in the mountains on July 8th. She fell quite dramatically on her left shoulder, breaking her clavicle and shattering her vertebrae at the T4. She tells us, at the moment she landed in the river, she knew something was very, very wrong. She knew she should be in pain. But she could feel nothing. She wanted to move out of that cold 40-degree water, but she could not even wiggle her foot.

My sister-in-law is paralyzed. She cannot feel her legs. She cannot walk. She cannot put on her shoes. She cannot get through a day without pain medication.

It brings us great joy that she got accepted to one of the best spinal cord injury rehab facilities in the country. That she is learning, day by day, to understand and manage her "new normal". It brings us joy that she has use of her arms. That she suffered no brain injury. The big things are there, and no doubt we celebrate those. But now we celebrate the tiny things as well.

My sister-in-law has to call a nurse when she wants to get out of bed. She needs help reaching her water if the cup has been placed a mere inch out of her reach. She doesn't get dressed alone. She doesn't even get to empty her bladder alone. Those things will come in time. But for now, she is dependent on so many extra hands. And someone else's legs.

Getting out of my own bed brings me joy.


Walking to the toilet brings me joy.


Using the toilet brings me joy.


Standing in front of the mirror brings me joy.


Reaching to the top of the cupboard brings me joy.


Driving my car brings me joy.


Wearing flip-flops brings me joy.


Walking down the stairs brings me joy.


Jumping with my daughter brings me joy.


Breathless moments are not the only ones that are special. Life can, in fact, be measured by the mundane.

And oh, how beautiful that can be.
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