Tuesday, October 26

Preschool Woes!

Oh man, the decision making process was hard enough when I was just trying to make decisions for myself-- situations based on my life, and my abilities and what I thought was best for me. Add a couple of kids into the mix and I think I may need a little "Decision Making 101" course to help me along this road!

I'm referring to our decision regarding Ava and preschool here. Who knew, right?! Who knew I would spend countless hours, zillions of braincells (or so it has felt) and a WHOLE lot of emotional energy pondering the value of preschool versus no preschool for my 3-year old.

But she is my kiddo, and she is very emotional and she is hard to figure out (can you say "female"!?!) sometimes!

So let's not beat around the bush here. Today was Ava's last day of formal pre-school for the year. We are going to attend the class field trip on Friday (seeing as it sounds like fun and I get to go we figured we might as well end on a positive note!) to a local farm for a hay ride and pumpkin picking and whatnot, and that's going to be the end of it.

I have had oodles of people tell me why I am wrong to pull her out; that I'm giving in, that she needs to "learn", that she needs to socialize, that if she is having this much trouble now won't it be worse next year, that we're setting some sort of precedent...yadda, yadda, yadda.

I have had my closest friends (thank you Sarah and Sara) and my lovely sister (thank you!) agree with me that the whole thing is seemingly causing WAY more stress than it is worth.

Scott is going to vomit if I bring the subject up one more time because we ladies, well, we mommies, sometimes obsess about things a little bit. Sometimes. And our poor husbands get to be on the listening end of all things obsessed about.

And, in the end, I had to make a decision that wasn't super clear....

For those of you who don't know the backstory here, Ava HATES being dropped off at school. Still. Seven weeks into this whole thing. All of the other kids have either settled in, or dropped out long ago and I seem to be the only one whose kid is digging in her heels (literally today!) and screaming when I drop her off.

She is happy as a clam when I pick her up. Sometimes singing and showing me what she made. Often quite chatty. It's why we've kept going as long as we have...at first I thought it was a separation anxiety thing (and it may be a little bit), but I've dropped her off at the nursery in the gym, I've left her with babysitters, etc. etc. and she is totally fine.

Apparently she stops crying within minutes of my leaving, but she CLINGS to the teacher all day. The teacher has been a saint about the whole thing, but she does have 15 other kids to take care of! Ava apparently also doesn't engage other kids in the class-- she mostly only talks to them if they talk to her. When I ask her why she hates school her answer is "There are too many kids!"

So anyway, I won't get into my whole analysis of what I think is going on...it doesn't really matter. What matters is that we had to make a decision that was best for our family.

At the end of the day I do feel our society is a bit pushy on our children...there is an expectation that they start school earlier and earlier...if they don't like it, tough...there are a lot of things in life they won't like.

My take is, she's 3! I'm home. If she is a child who has anxiety, especially caused by large groups of people, why force her to deal with it now? Perhaps by this time next year she'll be in a different place emotionally, and, if she's not, then that's o.k. In my book, if she's not enjoying school and I'm home anyway, why not let her enjoy one more comfortable, unstructured year home with me and her sister. She'll have the rest of her life to run around structured and scheduled and forced to deal with groups of people she doesn't like!

I'm a little sad about the whole thing. I loved the songs she was coming home singing, and the cute little crafts, and was looking forward to the Thanksgiving potluck and the Christmas show the kids were going to put on. I enjoyed doing her "homework" with her and and ordering books from the scholastic book form. However, I realize she'll have MANY more years to do all of those things as well.

We have her in gymnastics, I take her to music classes and I'm hoping she'll start going back to Sunday school (she started putting up a fit about that when school started...too much school for her all at once!)

At the end of the day, each child is different and we need to take it as it comes. Ella is usually running into the preschool and sitting herself in one of the chairs while Ava is fighting me at the door!

All that said, it wasn't an easy or clear decision, even in the end. But, as Scott said, "Lis, when you make decisions they often come with good results and bad. You have to determine which good and which bad you want." In this case, the stress it was causing her (and our entire family on school mornings!) isn't worth it.

Alright. Enough said. I think my brain hurts!

Would love to hear about your decisiveness or indecisiveness in regards to parenting your children! That way I won't feel so crazy!

Wednesday, October 20

"Yes. Yes Indeed."

Oh my goodness, kids say the funniest things...mostly when you're least expecting them to, which it probably why they sound so funny. Here is my funny kid saying story for the day...

So, for whatever reason (you know those days!) the girls were driving me batty today. Request, whine, whine, request, fight, whine, fight, whine, request, clean up mess, whine, clean up mess, request...you get the picture.

Ella seemed to not be feeling well and clung to my leg all morning while I was knee deep in a stew making project (and then shaking my head at myself for getting into a stew making project in the first place!) and trying to clean up the kitchen from breakfast.

Ava was FULL of it this morning. She is mostly a polite child, but this morning it was 'get me this', 'get me that,' 'I don't want this', 'I want that', to which I would redirect her and help her to come up with a more appropriate way of asking her mother for help on things (like "please'" and "may I"!)...but, after you do that, I don't know, 22 times or so, your patience starts to wear thin.

Needless to say, by lunch time my patience were shot! I was tired. I was counting down the minutes until nap time...the girls and mine! I had finally gotten Ella to bed and was about to take Ava upstairs when she says, "Mommy, I'm stilllllll hungry" in her whiniest voice.


 I swear to you Scott and I go through this every day. The child, I swear, eats all day long. All she must think about is food. I kid you not, we had just finished lunch not 23 minutes prior to this moment. She ate a full bowl of noodles, tomatoes, carrots and hummus and then both the girls had jello (a treat!). Prior to that she had snacked on graham crackers and almonds in the car while we ran a couple of errands. Obviously we need to try to get her to eat more at meals...but that is besides the point right now!

"The kitchen is closed Ava...you JUST ate!"
"But mommmyyy, I'm stillllllll hungry."

I mean seriously, when your talkin' to a momma that hates to be hungry...

"Fine Ava. You can have peanut butter and jelly, but that's it!"

(Patience pretty much shot at this point...not so much about the food...just the whole morning).

While she is eating her sandwich at the counter I pour some vita-water for myself...

"Can I have some?" she asks.

Yes. Yes, of course she wants some.

"Yes, honey. Of course you can."

I go to take my vitamins out of the cupboard.

"Mommy, I didn't have my vitamins this morning. Can you get me my vitamins?"

I don't know why this was the tipping point...but it was...

"Ava Katherine! You have been asking me questions all morning! I love you a whole lot but NO! You cannot have vitamins right now. I am not opening one more cupboard. I am not getting out ONE MORE THING! Please eat your sandwich and then we're taking a nap!"

I look at her with wide eyes and then smile with a sarcastic smile so that she knows that I'm frustrated but  not in an angry way (I didn't want to make her feel bad, I was just TIRED!).

"Mommy," she says in a slightly smaller sheepish voice. "What lot of questions have I been asking all morning?"

"Ava! You've been asking for sandwiches, and blankets and to watch Little Bear, and for lunch and snacks and jello, and to turn the t.v. louder, and then for peanut butter and jelly and water and now for your vitamins!"

(Here comes the funny part....)

She looks at me with a grin on her face...pauses for the longest moment (I'm feeling a little bad for making her feel bad and anticipating what she might say).

"Yes. Yes INDEED. That is lots of questions!!" she says emphatically.

I just started laughing out loud. Maybe that doesn't sound funny to you, but I've never heard her say such a thing before (the "yes, indeed" part) and the timing on it was impeccable!

Two minutes later...."Mommy, are you going to go straight to your bed and take a nap because I've been asking you lots of questions all morning?"

Oh dear child...you crack me up.

"Yes. Yes indeed I am Ava."

So, thank heaven for naps and for little people who say funny things. For the sunshine today and the coffee I'm drinking right now...and the pot I'm brewing because the cup I'm drinking was a packet of instant and it's just not cutting it! Thank heaven for all of those things...the things that keep you going on the days when you just want to sleep and have a housekeeper hired full-time, but you can't do either.

Monday, October 11

No Expectations

I am writing this post a bit bleary eyed and tired this morning. I expected to get more sleep than I did last night...Ella woke up once and Ava twice (around 1 and then 6:30)... Ella is easy, you find her binky, hand it back and she goes back to sleep.

Ava. Not so much.

She is going through this stage where she wakes up shrieking. High-pitched cries for mommy and daddy. Sometimes to just lay next to her for a couple of minutes, sometimes because her leg hurts (she is in the stage of growing pains). Last night it was one of each.

But that is besides the point. The point is that I expected to sleep for 7 1/2 hours or so and that did not happen.

What did happen though is that as I lay in bed (after getting Ava back to sleep) at about 6:55 debating whether to come downstairs to a quiet living room and pray and then blog, or just sleep until the girls woke up, I had a momentary epiphany. I realized that one of the hardest parts of motherhood (for me anyway) is that you have to lay aside a LOT of expectation and that it's sometimes hard to do.

For example:

  • I can't always expect to get a good night's sleep, because even if I go to bed early in hopes of getting 8 hours a child may wake up from a bad dream, or a lost binky, or an aching leg...and the more children you have the greater the chance you may have to get up...often on multiple occasions in one night.
  • As much as I enjoy writing and want to do more of it and have been trying to get up early to do it (like 6:45), unless I get up at like 4 a.m. I can't set out to say "I WILL have an hour of writing time today" because I could get up at 6:45 and one of the girls may decide that this is the morning they want to get up at 7:05 and that's the end of that!

Here are some other things I shouldn't expect but sometimes I do...(which only leads to frustration and disappointment)...

  • I expect the house to stay clean
  • I expect to get a shower in...peacefully, without a fight or a scream
  • I expect the girls to eat what I make for them
  • I expect the day to go smoothly...and for the girls not to whine or fight with each other!
  • I expect to make it to church, or gymnastics, or the doctors on time...and then someone's diaper needs to be changed.
  • I expect to get a run or workout in...and then the day has been so long, and I'm so tired...that I can hardly lift myself up off the couch, much less put myself on a cross training machine at the gym...

HaHa, you may be saying. You STILL expect any of those things!

Well, no, not really, not all the time. But we are human, and we get these little ideas in our heads. And prior to becoming a parent I had a LOT more control over whether or not these things actually came to fruition...the more little people you become responsible for the less control you have...

Several years before I became a mom I bumped into an acquantaince at a work related function. He had always been a bit of a quirky guy and Scott and I had never completely connected with him, but I had heard that he and his wife had just had a baby and so I asked him how it was going. His response, which I thought strange at the time,  makes WAY more sense to me now. He said:

           "Having children makes you realize how selfish you are."

            Alrighty then, I thought to myself. 

In my little naive, pre-parenting world I was expecting a, 
         "Oh, it's wonderful. We LOVE being parents. Our child is the cutest thing on the face of the   planet and we stare in his face and coo at him and each other all day long." 

I wasn't really expecting a curt, removed answer about selfishness (I think I may have blogged about this encounter once before...if so, sorry to be repetitive...it obviously struck a chord!). 

This morning...bleary eyed from a choppy nights sleep...and with Ella (at this very moment) calling my name from upstairs (even though she NEVER gets up before 8 and Ava finally fell back to sleep!) I can honestly say I GET it. 

I am selfish. I'm working on it. It's one of the big things I really feel God working on in me. 

When we become parents, in our selfish little minds, we think it is for US. That we were blessed with these children to bring US satisfaction. And while they are a blessing it couldn't be further from the truth that they are here to solely bring us joy! 

God places them in our lives to take care of them. To raise them. To help them. To mold their lives. And, in the process of all that I think God blesses us with them to mold our lives...not in the ways we expect...but in ways outside of our control, ways we were not expecting. He refines us into less selfish people. He pushes us to places in which we have to give of ourselves when we don't feel like we want to give any more. He shows us how to love. Unconditionally. Without expectation. 

The same way HE loves us. 

WHOA...I think my epiphany just expanded....

Off to lay down my expectations and discover what God has for us today. 

Wednesday, October 6

A Day in the Life...

Since the creative juices aren't flowin' verbally today I decided I'd treat you to a visual "day in the life".  After all, a picture is worth a thousand words, right?

Scott and I seem to ponder daily how it seems virtually impossible, when left alone with both girls, to get ANYTHING, accomplished. Seriously. How do two tiny human beings have that much power to distract you from ALL things "productive"?

Last night I attended week 3 of a 4 week writing class that takes place on Tuesday nights...Scott was predictably a bit tense when I got home.

"Dude. Really? You thought you were going to get something done?" I wanted to say.

I opted for, "Tough night?"

He growled.

"Seriously Lis. After picking up after them all night I thought for just 4 minutes I might be able to strum a few chords on my guitar while they were in the bathtub..."

I raised my eyebrows, Really, you did? they said.

"Sorry hun," I know.

So, by 9 a.m. this morning, after Ella had pooped on the floor (literally! I took her diaper off because she was SOAKED through from the night and she ran away from me for two minutes...next thing I know I look over and...well...I'll spare you the details...) and dumped an entire bowl of cheerios on the kitchen floor while I was making breakfast, I decided to just take pictures of the whole darn thing since I knew I wasn't going to have the energy to write anything creative, or poignant by the time I got around to writing a blog post. So here goes!

When I came downstairs at 6:45 (after falling asleep at 11:45 and Ava crawling into my bed at 6:00 am.) I found this sitting on the counter...Ava has a band-aid compulsion lately...

While I was prepping breakfast Ella dumped an entire bowl of Cherrios on the floor ...it does't look so bad here, but there were quite a few... Big sister Ava helped pick them up. 

Finally I got breakfast in front of the girls at 9 a.m. Scrambled eggs and french toast! 

Big sister feeding little sister...

While they were eating breakfast I started on the dishes...yes, that is a doll you see in our dishrack...Ava decided to "bathe" Dora last night and since she is battery operated she needed to dry out...not sure if she still works...

Ava pulled out the play-dough (which crumbled in many little pieces all over the kitchen floor!) while I finished cleaning the dishes. 

The girls hanging out on Ava's bed while I attempt to put my contacts in...Ella's diaper is full...and stinky...it had been for like 10 minutes by the time I took this picture and then I changed it....this was an hour after the poop situation I mentioned above...

Perhaps my favorite moment of the day...Ava's hair in pigtails before music class! 

and my second favorite moment...their matching sneakers! 

Ella found her way into music instructors lap during class...sitting still is not really her forte...I just let her wander...

Lunch time at the Littlewood household...

Finally I get them both down for naps and need to take a pee and I find that someone, at some point during our crazy morning, had so kindly prepped the toilet for me...

After naps we make applesauce...

Then we take Pooh Bear and Elmo for a walk...(Ava is way ahead of us with pooh!)

Then we finish the day with hotdogs and french fries...well, except for me...I had a veggie burger and french fries...

And so, that currently leaves us (at 6:30) with a trashed house, and Scott is off to band practice until 9:30...and since it's been a busy day already I'm going to pretend I don't see all that is trashed around the house, drop the girls off at my moms for an hour and run like heck on the treadmill! 

Hope you enjoyed my photojournalism!