The Baby & the Bath Water

“Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.”  Have you heard that quote before?  I’ve been reminded of it over and over again by my thoughts and I have discovered a few other moms have as well.  Let me explain.

I woke up rested the other day.  As I went downstairs to wake my children my husband jumped into the shower, which is right over the boy’s cribs.  I opened up the door and I see my two boys jumping with all their might and yelling daddy bath, daddy bath and when James sees me he stops jumping and points to the ceiling, starts to giggle and with his little and unclear voice says daddy’s washed.  Then the boys look at each other and laugh and jump again.  How precious is that?  I grab James and fly him to breakfast and return to get Lance who points to the flowers on my shirt and in the sweetest voice says pretty in a long drawn out, cowboy, Southern drawl.  The boys eat their oatmeal and move on to the yogurt.  James decides to put the yogurt cup up to his face and try to lick the yogurt out and Lance thinks this is the funniest thing so he does it too and they just laugh like there’s nothing funnier in the world.  I had a whole morning of cute kids and tons of great learning and crafts.  I put them down for a nap and get a little rest myself.  Nap is over, everyone drinks some milk and watches our favorite show Martha Speaks.  This sounds like a good day.  But then 5:00pm comes and like a thief in the night, the good day is snatched away and in comes chaos, impatience, whining and fighting.  The boys know that when I start cooking dinner that’s the signal to begin.  It starts small with Lance shutting James out of their room and James runs to me crying because he can’t get in their room.  So I briefly stop cooking to open the door for James.  I get back to the kitchen and pick up the spoon only to hear the slamming of the door and James’ cry as he runs to me.  If I ignore the crying James will eventually melt down into what could only be the tantrum of the century.  While I take care of him, dinner continues to cook without my watchful eye and it’s getting crispy!  After that meltdown is handled usually James retaliates by hitting Lance on the head with a toy.  Now I get to soothe Lance and handle disciplining James and dinner is getting more crispy.  Next Lance takes a toy away from James and James is crying in hysterics now while pushing at me to get away from the stove.  I lose it and in a big way.  I yell.  I remind Lance that he’s stealing and that’s wrong.  I tell James whining is the quickest way to not be heard and that dinner is ruined.  I salvage what I can from dinner, put the boys in their high chairs and pray that they eat and not dump their plates over on the tray.  Dad comes home around 6:30PM, everyone plays hard and laughs hard.  The boys get tucked in bed.  Overall it was a great day with 1hour that was bad.  So when I look back at the day, why do I feel that the day was just horrible?  I know it wasn’t all bad.  In fact all but 1 hour was what most moms want in their day.   That’s where the quote comes in.  I have been struggling to remember all the good and wonderful things that God allows in my life when I focus on one small part.  It reminds me of the Israelites out in the desert.  God had provided food, water, clothing, protection and all their needs.  Then someone grumbled about the food and then it was like no one remembered all the other good things God was currently providing the Israelites.  It is so easy to judge people in the Bible, but I do some of the same things.   So I’m working very diligently at counting and remembering my blessings during the day and considering the whole of the day before pronouncing it good or bad.  Amazingly as I’ve shared my struggles with other moms, some of them struggle with this too.  I pray that as moms, we can look past the chaos and mess and still see each day as a beautiful and good gift that we are sharing with our children.  Moms have a hard job and I want to encourage you if sometimes you feel that your days are just bad.  Some moments are exactly that, just bad, but don’t throw out the day because an hour or two went wrong.  I am trying to rember this myself.

Tot School 23mo Twins – Pillows, Path, Phonics & the Oddball Cloud

Today’s tot school took place over several sessions but the boys didn’t care because they had a good time each time.  We started the morning with way more energy than I knew that I could handle.  So I thought for a few minutes about what we could do to burn off some of it.  Then, you know in the comics when someone gets a good idea and you see it lit up with silver and gold floating in the middle of a cloud, that’s what happened to me.  A glorious thought just descended down and I just knew it would work.  I gathered up all the cushions in the living room into a big pile and announced that we were mountain climbing this morning.  I’ve dreamed of submitting Mt Everest, ok, so my dream got refined a few years ago and now I dream about submitting a 14er in Colorado some day.   So I can only imagine what a good pile of pillows looks like to an almost two-year old.  What fun those two boys had falling off shifting pillows, face planting on purpose, climbing up and over the whole way, jumping off the top of the pile and of course getting in trouble for pushing each other out-of-the-way.  I went a tad bit overboard after the third or fourth shove and began my tear jerking speech about how selfish climbers on Everest had become.  That these people were so set on reaching their own goal that they would jeopardize a team member’s life or leave a stranger to die alone.  It was a great, passionate speech, for a high school age kid.  Sadly it was lost on my 2yr olds so I pitifully went back to just plainly telling my boys that shoving was not nice.  Easy, quick and to the point, but my wonderful speech made me feel better.

 

Then we headed over to the fridge to use our Fridge Phonics Animal Matching.  Lance loves to pair up everything except the right two parts and James finds this to be very funny.  Ten minutes of talking about the color, the shape and the sounds of each animal made for fun learning.

 

We made a quick  run up to a consignment sale, came back, ate lunch and still had some time left before a nap, so round two of tot school started.  Again, I needed to find something that would wear those two little boys out.  I do believe that is the mantra of moms everywhere with toddlers.  So this time we, well mainly I, built and the boys tried to scatter wooden blocks that I was forming into a path.  The path arched around the living room and stopped at the kitchen entrances.  The boys took off and walked, ran, crawled, chased and jumped their way around the circle for 30min.  I loved it, they burned off energy and I got some exercise in because you know they didn’t let mom just sit and watch.  I even came up with a catchy little tune to keep us going.

 

Next the boys crawled up into my lap while I read the book “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs.”  Then we got out some cotton balls and pretended they were clouds.  We felt how fluffy clouds might feel, how white clouds look and they even tasted a few clouds, not that the real ones taste like anything.  We walked outside and looked at the clouds in the sky for a few minutes .  Then they crawled back into my lap for a quiet book to settle them down before a nap.  A lot of learning was packed into this morning and I’m so thankful that God made us creative beings and I get to share that with my little boys.  God’s mercies just keep raining down!

Tot School 22.5 twins – Transportion, Stickers, Songs & Dots

We have had two days of fun tot school.  Yesterday Grandma met us early in the morning out at a public park.  It’s a small park, but the theme of the park is transportation and if there’s one thing that my boys love, it’s transportation vehicles.  There’s a three car, red train  that provides endless climbing, crawling, stepping and jumping.  There’s also a great helicopter that begs kids to spin the wheel and my boys can give it a whirl.  Throughout playtime the boys come over to the bench and get a cuddle from me and Grandma steals all their sugar (as she says).  During the small rests I point out the engine, the caboose, talk about people riding in a train to go somewhere and we make train noises.

  

While at home, we’ve been quite the little busy beavers.  Stickers have always been a huge hit with Lance.  He loves to pull them off of anything, toys, books, appliances, you name it, he’s tried to pull stickers off of them.  James has now caught the fun of stickers too.  I don’t really get the fun of putting them on something, taking them off, sticking on your body somewhere and repeating the process over and over.  James and Lance get it though and sometimes they just laugh while other times you’d think they examining a rare artifact they had to report on.  Anyways, whatever the draw is, it gives their small motor skills some practice.  In a similar activity, they worked those little finger muscles.  I was making some number counting cards for later.  I wrote out the numbers 1-10 each on a separate card then punched the corresponding amount of holes into each card.  The boys went wild over letting the punched out dots rain down over each other and mommy.  They also loved putting them on their bodies.  Lance has a thing with putting anything on his feet and his brothers feet too if he can

Songs are big hit and a great time to learn how to move our bodies and to identify body parts.  The leaders on the top 10 charts are Itsy Bitsy Spider, The Wheels on the Bus and Head Shoulder Knees and Toes.  For the longest time I had to go real slow on Head Shoulders Knees and Toes for the boys to get the head and the toes only.  Now they are adding the eyes, ears and nose.  They still haven’t managed to get the shoulders yet.

Lastly, the interest in reading books has kicked in.  Sometimes they like to sit in the floor and look at the books themselves.  Most of the time though, I sit down in the recliner, pull each one up onto a side of my lap and I have a stack of 4-5 books next to me on the piano bench.  They both get into a tussle over turning the pages so I have to make them alternate turning the pages.  Reading covers all the senses.  We have books that have textures to touch, books with vivid colors to see, different pitches and tones of characters to hear, a few books with stickers to smell and every picture of eggs needs to be licked for taste.

While we had so much fun learning the past two days, my favorite time was just sitting quietly and watching a water fountain at the park.  A peaceful moment in the day given as a wonderful mercy for me to cherish.

Tot School 22.5mo – Shapes, Balance & Cleaning

James and Lance are so overtired that they just whined and cried over the smallest things.  So tot school gave them something to focus on today.  It went on all this morning, into the afternoon, to keep them busy, so they have learned bunches in just one day.  In fact, it’s been my favorite tot school time in the past few months, even with all the fussing and impatience.

We started out playing with our shape sorter ball.   While I did have to referee taking turns putting the shapes in, Lance repeated the trapezoid name back to me today.  Last week in church nursery, one of the teachers said he was impressed that our boys knew the oval name.  Just think how surprised he’ll be if Lance identifies the trapezoid next week.   I think it wan’t until elementary school that I learned the trapezoid.  Makes me laugh thinking about it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next I pulled out our medium size green ball.  The boys just love anything to do with balls.  So it was really easy to get them to practice their gross motor skills by sitting on the ball.  Like everything else, they each completed it at differing ability levels.  James had a harder time staying on the ball because he just couldn’t keep his feet and arms still.  Lance though just jumped on and sat like a hen on an egg.

That’s my little hen!

 

So while I’m at it with the teaching thing, how about getting an early start on combatting personal entitlement.  When I look into the future, I don’t want to see two eighteen year old boys who think that life and everyone in it owes them something.  So I’m trying small things now to help lessen those awful teenage years of entitlement.  So while learning to help mommy clean the house, right now, is totally fun, it’s setting the stage that everyone in the family has responsibilities.  I gave each of them a clean, damp rag and showed them how to wipe off the window sill in the kitchen.  Lance just went nuts over it.  He cleaned the window sill, the window itself, the door, the floor and three other windows/sills before he stopped.  When I praised Lanced in a big way, James ran over to get his rag again and started cleaning the floor too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The best part was when I grabbed my long arm duster to get the cobwebs off the ceiling and walls.  By this time the boys had little patience left and they following me around crying for the duster.  It’s moments like that  when I have such a hard time holding my tongue.  When I finished my dusting, it was evident that while they may have been whining and crying, they had been watching me.  They giggled when they each got a long arm duster.  Away they went through the house dusting everything they could.  The floor even got dusted.  This one activity kept them busy for 30min.  Now it will take me 15min to straighten up anything that is hanging on the walls, but that’s not a bad trade-off.

 

 

The cleaning ended when James hit Lance on the head, I think by accident, so Lance went charging, not by accident, at James with the handle looking like a javelin.  So while I might have made an impact on entitlement and responsibility, the concept of kindness might need to be revisited very soon.  The chores that I find hard to fit into my schedule turned out to be my mercies in disguise today.

Apples of Gold

We were having a wonderful morning.  I had gotten up, prayed about our day, read my emails, got breakfast ready and had the kids eating breakfast together in their chairs.  They were smiling, stuffing their faces with spoons and hands and everyone was doing great.  Lance started to give the dog a spoonful of oatmeal, again, and that’s when I heard it, “No! Stop it!”, coming from little James’ mouth.   This was the moment that all moms dread.  When you hear you own negative words coming back at you from your children.  Oh what I wouldn’t do to hear, “Honey, please don’t do that.”  Sadly the nice version is not what comes out of my mouth in the midst of frustration.  After everything calms down, that’s when I usually think about all the wonderful things that I could have said.  Rather than wish and hope that I’ll start thinking on my feet better, I should take what I know I am and work with it.  I know I don’t think fast so I need to work on practicing saying nicely, “Honey, please don’t do that.”  We just finished watching two weeks of the olympics.  Those people automatically do their sport.  They practice every day, doing the same thing over and over until they can do it without thinking.  That is the same dedication that I need to put into my words.  I will recite those nice words until it’s good enough to win a gold medal in kindness. 

Now, I don’t want to give you the impression that I never encourage my children because I do.  Sometimes I forget about those encouraging moments that I give to my boys.  I tend to forget about those times because they seem so insignificant.  When praising a toddler, there’s no grand and glorious things that toddlers do.  You don’t tell them a long and wonderful list of their character traits or how well they do at encouraging others or any number of things that you might extol on an older child.  No, the encouragement that I give my toddler boys is about smaller and not very exciting things.  Like most things a mother does for toddlers, they seem so insignificant but they are so important.  It’s that smallness that makes me forget that I am encouraging them.  They daily hear great job or nice effort, good catch or that’s kind of you to say I’m sorry.  So I’m challenging myself to remember those times that I encourage my children.  I’m also challenging myself to practice correcting my children in a kinder manner, because I do need to correct my children.  May my words be gentle, but true, so that my precious boys will treasure those words of encouragement in their hearts for years to come.

Proverbs 25:11    Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a word spoken in right circumstances.

What is your favorite words of encouragement to your child?  Let’s give our children a barrel full of golden ripe apples to pick from in the future. 

A Mother’s Prayer

Father God of Encouragement,

Thank you for taking the time to show love to your disciples by affirming and encouraging them. Help us remember that our well-aimed words will carry life to the hearts of our children. Teach us to extol their positive characteristics whenever we can and to resist the temptationto use words only for correction. Give us lips that speak grace and that show the heart of your love through the things we say. Amen.

Quoted from Sally Clarkson in “the ministry of Motherhood”

May I always use my words gracefully and mercifully as a mother. I shall guard my tongue, for it is the well spring of life(Proverbs).

Tot School 22.5mo twins – When The Park’s All Yours

It looked like a ghost town.  The hot wind was lightly blowing the swings that moved ever so slightly.  The puddles of water were very still and glass like.  The sidewalks held no trace of chalk art for the rain had washed it all away.  All I could smell was the strong cedar wafting up from the wood chips and there was no sound at all.  This was the empty playground at 1pm yesterday.  Kinda creepy until you realize the fun you can have when the playground is all yours. 

It rained yesterday morning and it was drizzly at times when 1pm rolled around.  The rain had cooled the temps down to 85 degrees so we took off for a rare summer afternoon at the park.  Our park happens to be just six houses down from us so it was a quick walk to get there.  I normally have to stay close to my boys and it feels like I’m herding cats when trying to keep two boys near me at all times with a bunch of other kids and parents around.  Yesterday I could let them roam from one end of the playground to the other.  There wasn’t any one else to distract them.  They could play, explore and do whatever they wanted.  They did the usual climbing and sliding for the first bit.  Then James found a great thick, short stick.  Of course Lance stole it and I had to make him give it back and say I’m sorry brother.  I managed to find another equally as good stick, but not quite as thick.  Anyways, it calmed the fussing and play resumed with laughter.  There were picnic tables under a gazebo and the tables have holes in the metal.  I got myself a stick and made sure it was a super skinny one.  I started running my stick over the holes and it made a sound that interested the boys so much that they climbed up to the table and tried to rake their sticks too.  After some help, they learned how to hold the stick up and run it sidewayss to make sounds too.  We talked about how each stick made a different sound and how it related to the stick’s thickness.  When they got bored with that, they wandered around until they found the water drainage grate.  James was the one who noticed that it looked like the color pink and he said so.  So we stopped and I pointed out different things and I told them the colors.  They also thought it was fun to stomp on the top of the grate and hear it ping as it shifted around and popped up and down.  I’ve never given much notice to the wooden sign with the park’s name on it.  The boy’s hadn’t either, but yesterday it held their attention for a while.  We felt of the rough wood, the smooth routed out letters, the slick metal bolts and prickly splintered edges.  We even talked about dad’s tools in the shop that he would use to make those letter.  Well I talked about the tools and the boys wouldn’t stop shouting daddy’s saw, daddy’s shop.  It’s a favorite saying of theirs.  We named each letter and they did well repeating after me.  When I asked them to point out the individual letters that I said, they had no clue.  I asked for the K , James pointed to the P and Lance pointed to the R.  I’m not worried about that yet because learning their ABCs won’t really start until after they are two.  I consider this just a fun warm up.  We then splashed and stomped in the water puddles.  Apparently each puddle is different because they hit each and every one.  James laughed as his brother yelled up the slide to him and James crashed into Lance as Lance was sitting at the bottom of the slide deliberately waiting for James to come down.  It’s fun to watch Lance sitting at the bottom, trying not to giggle and slightly glancing backwards to see if his brother is coming down.  Then we looked at a tall blade of grass compared to the short clover growing with it.  Lance loves anything soft and he felt the need to lay down and put his cheek next to the soft clover.  We stayed at the park discovering new things for two hours.  What a great learning experience when the park’s all yours with no distractions.  I can’t wait until the fall when there’s cool weather and most of the kids are back in school.  We will have more days filled with fun to run and explore.  What a rare mercy that God gave us in a great, summer day, alone at the park.