Thursday, January 27, 2011

Nora Lately

I was tickling Nora before her nap today, and I could hardly stand how much I love that little bug.  She is turning into such a delightful, independent little girl!

Lately, living with Nora has been like living in a musical.  She is singing all the time.  Literally all the time. If she is not speaking, she’s singing.  In falsetto.  Some of her favorite songs right now include “Awesome God”, “Jesus Loves Me”, and “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands.”  The other day, I found her under the coffee table with our baskets singing “Blessed be the Name.”  No lie.

She’s also taken to sleeping with two Wilburs.  One Wilbur she occasionally will call Lovey Bunny.  She really wants both if she wants one, but I can very occasionally convince her that one has gone on an adventure so that she’ll sleep with just one.  And I can’t bring myself to get rid of her nay-nay.  Seriously, we’ve talked about going to get a nay-nay bear something like four times, and I just can’t bear the thought of taking it away from her.  She will be devastated.  

Nora is still sensitive, emotional, and extremely social.  I marvel at how God has created her so uniquely from her sisters, that they’re all so sweetly different.  Nora cries big, gets frustrated big, and is happy big.  She also much prefers to play with her sisters than alone; it’s hard for her mommy to remember that sometimes her much more independent big sister needs a break.  Nora particularly loves to be Mommy’s special kitchen helper.

There is something so sweetly tender and small about Nora.  I often forget that she’s not even two-and-a-half; she does so much that her big sister does.  But I particularly see this tenderness in her book selection.  Nora’s favorite book right now is Baby Dear, and she’d read it multiple times daily if she could.  And Nora especially loves to read sweet bedtime-style stories with sing-song words and illustrations of soft, cuddly animals.

She’s begun to independently initiate dress-up, and she especially likes to sport accessories (glasses, hats, purses), although I’ll occasionally find her wanting help with a dress.  She also loves to pretend to be different characters:  lately, it’s been Cinderella and Clara.  The other day before church, she insisted that I call her Cinderella, not Nora, and would correct me every time I made an error.

I struggle with feeling that Nora gets lost in the shuffle as our middle girl, so I treasure moments with just her and try to carve out a few daily -- even if it’s just a minute with her on her bed before naptime, or perching her on the kitchen counter for a little chat.  As Nora grows, she continues to delight us and challenge us, and I am so thankful that the Lord saw fit to bless us with our spunky, tender little girl.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Where I Don't Have it All Together

Tuesday was really hard.  Hardest day in recent memory, actually.  I cried pretty much all morning, especially when Michael left for work. (At that moment, I was sobbing in the bathroom, hiding out.)  I honestly have no idea what set me off.  I’d been in a difficult spot all morning, feeling rotten, tired, and just plain emotional.  The kids were emotional, the garbage disposal (just-filled with uneaten oatmeal) stopped working, and I was not in the mood to be a grownup.  

Honestly, I needed a serious spanking.  For me.  I knew what needed to be done.  I needed to take a time out, get my heart right, repent, then repent to my kids and my husband, and start the day afresh.

Instead, I continued to mope about.  And then I did what any sensible mother does on a rotten day:  I loaded up the kids and took them to Chick-fil-A.  

Instead of dealing with my angry, selfish, emotional little mess of a heart, I figured that a day out of the house would be just what we needed.  We’d come home, and we’d all be magically better.   I found out (after dealing with an emotional two-year-old at the Chicken House) that it just doesn’t work that way.

We came home, and my heart was still in really ugly shape.  I snapped at my kids more.  I cried more.  When Michael left after lunch, I was crying...again.  Bless his heart.

After practically throwing my children in bed at naptime, I finally realized that a little heart surgery was necessary.  After unloading on my sweet friend Pam, who cleans my house every couple of weeks (and showed up mid-sobfest, as Michael was heading out the door), I sat in the quiet and worked through the morning.

And after a (miraculously long) naptime, the Lord graciously restored fellowship.  We were able to laugh together, and I wanted to hold my sweet babies.  I didn’t have answers, and I didn’t “do” anything special; the redemption of the afternoon belongs solely to the Lord.  In the evening, as I snuggled warm tummies in fleecy jammies, singing praise songs and combing out tangles, I could only praise Him for the miracle that He’d worked.   

He is the God of redemption, who picks up our broken pieces, who makes all things beautiful, who binds up our broken hearts, who gives rest to the weary.  He is merciful, and He is with us.  

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


Phoebe has a friend named Janie.  I can’t remember when she started talking about Janie, but she’s been pretty well-known around here for some time now.  She tells me she’s never seen Janie, but they’re evidently really good friends.

Janie is old (as in, older than Mommy and Daddy), lives in Africa, and has long red hair.  

For a long time, the big girls would go on trips to see her.  Actually, I think they’d just leave from trips:  they’d emerge from their closet door and shout, “Goodbye, Janie!  Goodbye!”  They’ll also pack backpacks for trips to see Janie.  Usually, Phoebe’s provisions consist mainly of books, but occasionally she’ll throw in some dress-up clothes and other essentials.

But mostly, Phoebe loves to talk to Janie on the phone.  Especially now that I’ve brought the Chatter-Phone back out, Phoebe will have lengthy conversations with her dear friend.  Most recently, it seems that they were chatting about the weather, because Phoebe wanted to know what she should pack on a trip to visit Janie.  (For the record, it was going to be cold; Phoebe prepared by putting on some mittens.  Evidently it’s cold in Africa this time of year?)

Phoebe can even now locate Africa on her placemat, and loves to remind me that it’s where Janie lives.  (How could I forget, sweet one?)  For now, I’m delighted that her friend is just an imaginary one... I think my heart would break if she left for Africa today!  And yet, I’m praying that God might use this tiny girl’s “friendship” to develop a heart for nations, and for people far away.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Ruthie is Ten Months Old

Seriously, ten months?  It’s no wonder I’ve generally been pregnant with new babies when the other girls were this age; all of a sudden my baby doesn’t seem very “baby” anymore!  Ruthie is beginning to resemble a toddler, and I’m a little sad about it.  And yet, she is so delightful -- I can’t help but adore this new stage, even if it means I have to be constantly on my guard.

At ten months old, our big girl Ruthie is:
  • generally sleeping around twelve hours at night.  Last month was a doozie for middle-of-the-night wake ups, and I was certain they were due to teeth; however, we still have no teeth!  She seems to be leveling out a bit and waking less, which is wonderful for her and for mommy.
  • taking an hour-and-a-half long nap in the morning and a two hour nap in the afternoons.  I usually need to wake her from her morning nap so that we can have a great afternoon nap.
  • a great eater!  She still takes four bottles a day (usually between five and six ounces) every four hours or so.  She also is nearly off baby food, although I’ll sneak a few bites of fruit that way if I can.  (Soft fruit in winter is hard to come by!)  I don’t think Roo has met a food she doesn’t love, and we literally have to cut her off most meals.  Spit-up has returned since we’re evidently having a hard time figuring out when to stop her.
  • signing “more”, and attempting to sign “all done”... although, I think she infrequently feels like she’s all done!
  • drinking sort of efficiently from a cup
  • not a fan of diaper changes.  At all.  She will now lay still, most of the time, but this isn’t exactly her happy time of day.
  • loving the bath even more now that she gets to bathe with her big sisters.  They love it too, except when Roo decides she needs to get extra close or touch some hair.
  • getting fuzzy!  Her hair is growing at a rapid clip, and I literally see noticable growth on a daily basis.  I’m thinking she might be able to wear a bow on her first birthday!
  • speed crawling, pulling up, cruising on furniture (a few steps at a time), standing on her own (for a few seconds at most), and walking behind something that she’s pushing.  She’s found a stool in the house that she likes to push around, and I’m always shocked to see her do it.
  • sharing her nay-nay, sniffing her Mousie (and sharing that, too!), and giving kisses on demand (most of the time).
  • loves to have her back rubbed, especially to help her fall back asleep.  She also really loves to be rocked in the middle of the night...
  • a fan of chewy toys, some flower rattles that we have (she’ll put one in each hand and shake them around), her new stack and roll cups (we play with these for a loooong time at a stretch), baby dolls, and the big girls’ doll house.  She also really likes to dump baskets and shelves; I forgot how much fun they have leaving a path of destruction!
  • totally into the potty.  Seriously, any “alone time” she gets -- she’s off crawling to the little bathroom to see if someone left the lid up or if there’s toilet paper for her to yank on.  She also likes standing at the edge of the tub to try to find treasures there.  She also likes to climb on Nora’s bed and fiddle with the light on the table... oh, how she is into everything right now!
  • totally happy.  Ruthie’s fussy moments happen when she’s hungry (usually if supper is late, she’ll let me know it) or tired -- and sometimes that last hour and a  half of the day is a long one.  But she is one happy little Mouse, especially when she’s with her Mommy or sisters!
Ruthie is so much fun!  It’s especially neat for me to have glimpses of her as a “bigger” girl -- I can already imagine her playing dolls with her sisters or twirling in the kitchen.  Time passes so quickly; I’m thankful that, for now, she’s only ten months old and still such a baby!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Celebrating Progress

Right now, Ruthie is in full-on explorer mode. My busy little bug loves to clean my floors by locating every single tiny particle of anything to insert in her mouth.  She delights in locating Jake’s water bowl.  Shoes?  Why, they’re a tasty snack!  And any time she disappears, even for a moment, there’s a good chance I’ll find her playing in the potty.  (Thankfully, Phoebe is hyper-vigilant about flushing.)

For me, this is one of the hardest stages of early childhood from a parenting standpoint -- the constant watching and training, the redirecting, the lack of communication skills, all of it.  We obviously survived this stage with both of the other girls, but I remember it being very, very difficult.  I mean, you can only contain the child for so long during a day... right?

For Nora especially, this stage was a real struggle.  Training her was really, really hard because even the tiniest amount of discipline would send her into a ten-minute-long explosion of tears.  Fortunately, none of the big girls are now aimlessly wandering into the bathroom to play in the potty, eating things off the floor (at least most of the time), nor are they trying to lick the bottom of their shoes.  We have made progress!

I’m reading a lovely little book right now called Loving the Little Years: Motherhood in the Trenches.  It was a Christmas gift, and I picked it up the other day as I collapsed on the couch, desperate for some encouragement.  What a rich, happy book this is so far!  At any rate, the author said something that really struck me:  “It is very easy for us to forget about the progress [our children] make and to ignore the problems they no longer struggle is very easy to demean their progress by demeaning the struggle.” - Rachel Jankovic in Loving the Little Years: Motherhood in the Trenches

Oh, how I tend to do this!  I’m so busy noticing the thing that needs training that I forget that we’re no longer struggling with shoe-eating and basket-dumping.  Our children are overcoming very real temptations, and I fail to celebrate them!  I am purposing to notice, to recognize, and to tell our girls when they are overcoming temptation -- they need to see it, and so do I.

But then I realized:  that’s exactly what I do with myself.  I envision this perfect woman, and then I start deducting points from myself for all of my demerits:  dust bunnies in corners, stacks of papers and books on top of the china cabinet, sharp tongue, poor use of time, or whatever the failure of the moment may  be.  I certainly don’t look like the Proverbs 31 woman... and yet, the Lord is doing a work in my heart.  But He is in fact doing the work of sanctification, even if it’s slow (by my standards) and difficult for me to recognize.  I’m going to purpose to see His work -- in the hearts of my Littles and in my own heart -- and celebrate the sanctification, not groan at the work left to be done.