Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Quantum Toddler

I have a secret: my child is a genius. He's only just begun to walk, and already he's a master at quantum physics.

Yeah, I'm a smart one. What can I say?
Let me explain. The science of quantum physics has many subfields, but the one that Mark seems to have mastered is quantum tunneling. Quantum tunneling, in very simple terms, is when an electron appears to "jump" from one place to another - without ever having actually been in between the two spaces.

Since quantum physics deals with the very, very small portions of the world around us, it only makes sense that infants and toddlers would understand this realm better. Lets face it, if a tiny item is anywhere within the reach of an infant, there is a great likelihood that they will not only find it, but will put it in their mouth. We are told this is their way of exploring. Well, my son has proven a master of "exploring". I think it's really just a way to get things closer to their little brains for inspection.

So, on to my genius offspring. Not only has Mark mastered the concept of tunneling, he can perform the maneuver. Yep, I swear one moment he is standing right next to me, and the next he will instantly be across the house, headed for the sprinklers outside faster than you can throw a diaper in the pail. (Did I mention quantum mechanics apparently works better if you're naked?)

That's right. My son, who can barely walk over the garage door threshold, can transport himself from being right by my side in the kitchen to being in the bathroom playing in the toilet in less time than it takes for me to turn my head to ask his sister why she is plunging the tines of her fork into our dining room table. (He has also learned to keep the toilet lid lifted using only his head: I told you he was a genius!)

I generally try not to brag about my children, as every child grows and develops at their own pace, but something tells me that Mark is going to be sought after by universities and think tanks around the world. After all, how many little boys do you know who can go from innocently standing two inches away to being across the yard eating and dirt in just one second?

That many?? Hmmm...

Friday, May 27, 2011

Another Week Gone...

This week was pretty normal (whatever that is) so I don't have a lot to share... I do have lots of pictures though! Imagine that.

Grace had two milestones this week. First of all, she knows how to count AND she recognizes her numbers. She still has some issues with the number four. This week she started counting train cars going by as we waited at a crossing.

One, two, three. Pause.

One, two, three. Pause.

After the third time, I finally filled in "four"... and she continued on up to ten! After that, she would get to three, I would say four, and she would continue. Maybe by the time she actually turns four she'll have it all figured out.

We were also playing with some lacing beads and I asked her what numbers were on them... and she knew! Wow. Guess all that Elmo is paying off. (I didn't really say that out loud did I?)

Her second milestone was a big one, and dear to my heart. We made cookies together for the first time. Yay for dessert!

This is the face children make when their mother is a blogger.
Obligatory stare toward camera: "Here's your photo.
Can we get back to reality now?"

Okay we add a little of this...

Hello? Did we add anything? It got soaked up
into the brown stuff! Is that supposed to happen?

Next you stir the chips in. (Ignore the dough
on her cheek. We would NEVER eat raw
cookie dough...)

Hmmm... saw that comin'.

She put ONE cookie on the sheet. That
was more than enough. Trust me.

The best part - licking the mixer beaters!
(Note: Ignore the cookie dough on her cheek AND the
beaters. We would NEVER eat raw cookie dough.)

Okay. I lie.

Apparently making cookies is much harder than it looks.
Gracie couldn't even finish without laying down for a rest!

Warm cookies, cold milk and footie pajamas.
Is there anything better?
Grace loved the entire process, and kept saying "Cookies! Cookies!" the entire time. I can't wait to make them again. (Yes, they are all gone - and they were delicious.)

Mark got himself into a little trouble, climbing into the pantry he's not supposed to get into. Turns out he climbed a little too well, and was shrieking for me to help him down.

I grabbed the camera first. He'll learn.

Help! I can't figure out how to get down
from this dramatic height!
I also managed to snap a (terrible) shot of him as I turned on the vacuum. He hates all kinds of loud noises, and the vacuum terrifies him.

This is the look of pure fear. A second later he
burst into tears and darted off down the hall.
He is peering into the bedroom where I have the vacuum. Once the vacuum is turned off, he will immediately stop crying, and rush into the room to investigate. It's rather funny in a "poor little guy" kind of way. Now you know why my floors are often dirty. (Yeah. That's why.)

At the end of the week, Auntie, Grandma Dee Dee and the cousins came to visit. We had a great time just playing, talking and eating. Um, we didn't eat cookies... somebody had eaten them already. (Sheepishly brushes cookie crumbs from corner of mouth...)

Um, Elmo? Grandma Dee Dee is not
coming from that direction...
I hope you had a great week and got some sweet treats in with your little ones. We have been very busy visiting with friends and family, and the blog has suffered a little - but face time with those you love is always worth it!

I keep telling myself that someday I'll get it all balanced out. There must be a way to have my cookies and eat them too... maybe you just have to teach someone else how to bake them.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Another Week Gone...

This week Mark tried to overschedule us again... I guess he's practicing for when he gets his MBA and has to schedule and attend meetings all the time.

Alright, let's get this party started!

Hello? Um, yes, can I speak to your biggest
head honcho muckity-muck?

Yes, that's right. Meetings at 10, 2 and 4 on
Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Hey! He hung up on me! Hmph. Maybe I should have
wiped the drool off my chin before calling.
Since we didn't have to worry about meetings, Gracie helped me mop:

First we mopped the dining room.
(Ignore the fact that her pants are
wet up to the knees...I did.)

Then she helped with the kitchen floor.
(The water is rising on those pants.)

And lastly, she mopped the dishwasher.
She's very thorough. And wet to her bottom.
We also had fun playing with ordinary objects around the house. For some reason, they are much more entertaining than the myriad of toys strewn about:

Mark is enjoying learning to stack things.

Shhh... he's concentrating very intently here...

By jove, I think he's done it!
Grace also found some sorting tasks to do:

First we separate all of the plates and put
post-it notes in them. Then we step on them.

After that, each section gets a paper
cup, lovingly stolen from Mark...

And then a ball gets dropped into each one.
Remind me again why we spend money on toys?
Grace also colored and played with stickers. When she ran out of her first page of stickers, she asked for more. Apparently I wasn't quick enough in retrieving the stickers, because she ended up finding her own:

In this instance, I will choose to label my child
"resourceful" instead of "stinker".
We also had our first "real" babysitter this week. Mommy and Daddy went out and left the kids with a sitter from church - someone who was actually not related to us, and happily took our money at the end of the night. And you know what? We were happy to give it to her. We had a great time. The kids had a great time too. Can't wait to do that again!

Auntie Kim and the cousins also came to visit for a short time, and they dropped off a dress for Gracie to use when she grows into it. It's a 6x. It took about three seconds for my two year old to request to wear the dress that should be four sizes too big. To me it looks perfect.

She looks like a princess!
(Well, minus the shirt sticking out from underneath.)

I hope you all had a wonderful week filled with chores getting accomplished, meetings getting  canceled and resourceful people making your life a little more interesting. At the end of it all, I hope you found time to snuggle up to someone and just relax a little too.

T.V. time, blankies and milk. Life is good.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Guilt Be Gone

Disciplining my kids has got to be the most difficult parenting duty so far. Last year, I would have told you it was packing up and moving to a new house while nine months pregnant, with an 18 month old in tow. This year, it's dealing with the physical, mental and especially the emotional part of discipline.

I have a two year old. She likes to try all kinds of new things. She also likes to be defiant. It's not so much an in your face verbal rant (since she doesn't say much), it's a “look-you-straight-in-the-eye-and-do-exactly-what-you-just-told-me-not-to-do” kind of defiance.

My journey of learning to discipline has only just begun. Luckily, I feel I have some good resources to rely on, not the least of which is biblical examples. I admit my husband and I have high expectations of my children. Here are some examples of what we expect:

Our children should obey the first time we make a request.
Our children should not whine.
Our children should not cry in response to a request. (They can cry if disciplined, but not simply because they were told "no".)
Our children should be respectful towards themselves and others.

Did you make it this far without breaking into hysterical laughter? Good, because like most people who are still breathing, I realize that expectations and actual results are two completely different realities. I also believe that this is where many parents find their parenting style begins to diverge from others. This led to a parenting revelation for me, so I've decided to share what I learned.

Somehow, as parents we feel that when our children do not behave as they should, we have two options: lower our expectations or increase the discipline. Are these really our only options?

No matter what your method of choice (spanking, time-outs, yelling, etc.) a parent is the final decision maker when it comes to how and when to discipline their children. Here is an example: If I tell my child to pick up a toy, then she should do it. But when? Immediately? Before doing something else? After four warnings, counting to three, two yells, one threat and then grabbing her hand to place it on the toy in question?

I (or my husband) get to decide what is is acceptable for our family. I set the expectations for my children. I may not always succeed in reaching those expectations, but no one else is going to set them for me. And so, when disciplining, I have chosen to set the bar high. To be strict. To want what is best for my children, and to measure my expectations by biblical standards, not by what other parents are doing, or what other parents may find acceptable (or unacceptable).

I also get to exercise grace. I get to decide if my child is hungry, tired, over stimulated, confused, or just being a child - not being defiant. Strangers can look into my house and watch me discipline, and they can (and will) judge. Do you think I’m too strict? You don’t have to live through the heartbreak of watching my child make poor decisions because I wasn't strong enough to discipline them and teach them self control. Think I’m too lenient? You won’t live with the pain of a child who doesn't want to associate with you because absolute compliance was demanded at the expense of the relationship.

No one else has the same stake in my children's lives that I do. And no one knows that better than I.

Parenting isn't easy. Like most moms, I consult regularly with other parents to get ideas, track my child’s progress and generally make sure we’ve collectively lost our minds. This used to result in feelings of guilt if I felt I was harsher on my kids, or if my kids didn’t behave as well as the next. This year, I’ve finally allowed myself not to feel guilty about my parenting style.

One day you may think I'm being too easy on my child. You don't know that she woke up at 5am and has been fighting a cold. You may think I'm far too strict. You don't know that she did this exact same thing yesterday, and absolutely knows better. That's okay, it's not your job to know.

I love my kids and they love me. We have fun together. We laugh, play, joke and sometimes, we cry. It was the same way with my parents when I was growing up. When I was spanked as a child, occasionally my parents would tell me “This hurts me more than it hurts you.” Now I’m the parent, and I know exactly what they meant. I’m grateful that they were willing to bear the heartache of discipline to help me become who I am today, and I hope their legacy of respect, discipline, and love continues on in my children.

If, like me, you sometimes struggle with whether you are doing things "right", I would encourage you not to measure your success against other children or families. Everyone has different standards and personalities. Rest easy in the fact that you love your children like no one else, and honestly do the best you can - even if it hurts a little.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Another Week (or two) Gone...

This time, it’s not my fault I didn’t post last week. Mark and Grace overscheduled us. I have proof:

Uh, Mom? I'm trying to  plan a meeting here. Can we
delay the diaper change for a few minutes?

Yes, I still use my iPod, even though Grace
found a new "pocket" to keep it in...

Great! Fencing lessons at two, driving lessons at four.
On to the diaper change!

We're on our way to the meeting.
Elmo is just here as a consultant.
They scheduled fencing lessons, bike rides, important lunches, and more. By the time we fit everything in, I didn’t have time to post!
The fencing lessons went well:

I've got the swords! (Or are they sabers?)
Let's get this party started!

"Ugh! Mark, I've been hit! I think that means
you win this round." "Really? Wow. That was easy.
I'm good at this fencing thing."

"I surrender! I surrender!"
"Woo Hoo! I win!"
"Goodness. Grace sure takes this seriously."
 Mommy took them on a bike ride for Mother’s Day:

Hi. Can you let me out of here?

"Grace, do we just sit here and watch the world go
by while mommy and daddy have all the fun?"

"Well Mark, we could also sing ABC's if you wanted."
"Hmph. In case you  haven't noticed, I'm not impressed."
We had some great meals:

Excuse me, but is there something
I should know about?

People are staring at me funny, like there's
cottage cheese on my head or something.

Now that I think about it, maybe they're
just impressed that I have another tooth!

Yeah! That must be it! See everyone, here
it is!
We enjoyed the beautiful weather by playing outside. I was particularly excited when Grace yelled, “Mommy! Look Mommy! Look!” as she showed me this:

A snail and a frying pan. We're not French sweetie.

See that face? Pure bliss. And really, who wouldn't
be thrilled to be holding a slimy, germ ridden snail?

Mommy tried to protect it by having her move it
to the planter.

It was too exciting to keep in the planter, so she moved it
to the swingset.
Oh, you’re wondering what Mark is doing in the background while all this snail excitement was going on?

Eating dirt. What else?
Grace tried to get her snail on the move again...
Like most Californians, we discovered the snail was also on his way to foreclosure:
I was doing fine until I met this girl... she kept wanting
to move and we just chose the wrong mortgage...
After that, mommy told Grace she needed to find something else to do (while she hid the poor snail in the tall grasses in the hopes he survives). So, naturally she did this:

Mud shakes, comin' up! Get your mud deliciousness here!

She's moved on to mud pies. Baking is a very
serious job.
While Grace baked, Mark practiced his driving skills:

Hey mom, look! No shoes!

Yes, those are the same light blue socks in the above
photo. And Mark? You're doing great with the bike,
but the car skills definitely need improvement.
After all these pictures, I guess the kids had enough:

Goodness lady! Stop with all the pictures already!

Seriously mom. Don't make me call dad.
Kids, I don't think dad is gonna stop me.

(This was after he gave me the entire Saturday
off for Mother's Day!) Thanks honey!
I hope May has been fun for you, and that you haven’t overscheduled! Even if you did, don’t worry. It all tends to work out in the end.