ThankFULL Weeks 2 & 3

ThankFULL

Wow – the rest of November really got the best of me! I am finally finishing this post . . . the day after Thanksgiving.

But, really, every day should be a day of giving thanks. So, I’m not late. No. . . totally not. *wink*

Every day, I fill my tank FULL with the blessings that I have! And it makes my outlook so much more free and anticipatory.

These past two weeks, I have been thankful for:

9. My Health

While I’m still trying to lose weight that I gained throughout my two pregnancies, I am thankfully able to cook healthfully for my family, understand how to snack wisely, and keep my weight and overall health at a good point. There are so many in this world that are either underweight or overweight, under-nourished or gluttonous . . . and I am glad that neither I nor any of my family members are in those places. Because no matter how you get there, by choice or by chance, being unhealthy is a giant burden to overcome. So this week, I am so glad and full of thanks for my health and my ability to attain knowledge and skills to keep myself and my family healthy.

10. My Kids’ Development

My kids are so smart and funny and well adjusted, and I am so grateful for that. No, this does not mean that we don’t have disciplinary issues, or tantrums, or bedtime struggles. . . we have all of those in the Willa house. But when I interact with them, I can tell that they are healthy and growing and that their brains are full of curiosity and brightness. When Joe babbles on about helicopters and fire engines and steamrollers and concrete trucks. . . and Abbey – oh, Abbey. That bright little girl keeps me on my toes constantly. From practicing penmanship to making up stories and games, to having a strong curiosity regarding Jesus and his sacrifice for us. . . she keeps me on my toes and I am so grateful for her cheerful (well, sometimes not so cheerful) zest for life and learning!

11. My Embroidery Machine.

Seriously, I can get so crafty with this thing. It brings my creativity to the next level.

12. My friend Melly for teaching me how to knit.

Because knitting is so awesome and productive and satisfying. It mellows me, and I’m glad that Melly took the time to sit by me while I tried and tried and tried again when I was learning!!!!!

13. New Friends

Because wherever you go (or wherever life takes you) you need friends. Real ones.

14. Old Friends

Because friends that you leave behind should never be forgotten!

15. Neonatal Intensive Care Units

Without a NICU, our sweet Abbey might not be here today, and the staff that works in the NICUs of this world are extraordinary people. I hope to be one of them someday!

8. The Internet

For the way that it connects people, especially the way that it opens doors for knowledge, learning, and collaboration.

9. Coupons

Because seriously, a dollar (or even $0.40!) is something saved. Especially when added up.

10. Meal Planning

Because it limits my impulse buys at the grocery store or commissary, and it allows me to make a detailed list and know exactly how much of our grocery budget will be spent!

11. Compassion

Feeling for another and actually doing something about the needs and pains of others is so rewarding. Sometimes, just by looking at another’s struggle and really listening, we can unearth hidden strengths and weaknesses that benefit us and those around us. Compassion is totally cool.

12. Natural Parents Network

What’s not to like about a group of like-minded (and yet totally diverse!) group of parents actively participating in the spread of fact-based, compassionate information to grow healthy families and inspire a commitment (small or large!) to a brighter and more informed generation of families! LOVE.

13. Parent Coaches and Social Workers

Without whom Hubs and I probably would have been lost in the grief and helplessness of having our two-day old sweet firstborn go under for major surgery in 2008. . . and the parent coaches with whom I have crossed paths that have imparted such simple wisdoms to me that, shared with my Hubs, have brought us closer to success in this really really trying parenting gig ;P

14. Charity

I love introducing Abbey and Joe to the idea of doing something for someone out of love for our neighbors, not for any other reason. It was hard for Abbey when we first introduced the idea that there are people that have literally NOTHING in this world. But she cheered up a lot when we explained that everyone in the world has the opportunity to be charitable and help out those in need, no matter what the need might be, and without expecting anything in return but the joy of giving.
15. Hot baths

16. The amount of laundry chores I have. . .

Because that means that we are blessed with enough clothing to wear in all seasons, for all the days of the week. Some people cannot say that (see #14 for what we try to do as a family about that injustice).

17. The dishes in my sink

Because, again, this means that I had the food to prepare for a meal, the utensils and appliances to cook it healthfully, and the plates and cups to serve food and drink to my family for the entire day! How blessed we are to have that!

18. The magic of the Christmas season

Doesn’t need an explanation.

19. The anticipation of the birth of Christ!

Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to you! It’s so thrilling to look forward to celebrating the birth of our amazing savior Jesus Christ!

20. My extended family

Because they care so much about us, and are always thinking of us and caring for us by sending love and prayers, taking phone calls whenever I call, and sending lovely little care packages that just warm my days and encourage me always!

21. Snail Mail

It’s always fun to get a REAL letter.

22. Student Grants and Federal Loans

They allow me to pursue my education, and apparently they boosted my credit as well.

23. My IRA fund, and our monthly contributions to it.

Someone (eghem, Mom?) taught me that you need to start one of these sooner rather than later, and it feels stellar that my retirement account grows every month. It’s one more thing not to worry about!

24. Military life

Because what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

25. Integrity

Because real and honest people are the best.

26. La Leche League

An amazing organization that not only bolstered my family, but now gives me the opportunity to bolster the families of others – through leading La Leche League group meetings and spreading fact-based information and compassionate support for breastfeeding and expectant moms. Whoot!

27. Tradition

Amen.

28. Forgiveness

Amen.

29. Collaboration

Amen. Just thank you Lord for all of these blessings in my life! Some of them seem like challenges at first glance, but I always am drawn to see the good because I know that you have plans for me, and I am blessed to be on the path you have drawn out for me!

What are you thankful for this month?

How was your Thanksgiving Day?

ThankFULL – Week 1

ThankFULL
Original Photo Credit: Andrea 44 on Flickr

I’m seeing so many people jump onto the “thankfulness bandwagon” this month, leading up to Thanksgiving.

I think it’s fantastic, because, literally, one of the things that gets me UP in the morning is giving thanks. It puts a different perspective on each day for me, saying “thank you” and “I’m grateful for the blessings that I have.”

There are so many times in life that we can feel empty. But, I can choose to feel FULL because I am full of thanks. I get up each morning and I can refill my “gas-tank” with thoughts about the things that are good in my life, and that’s really cool.

So, this week, I have been very thankful for:

Faithfulness

My husband is truly a faithful person. Not in the religious sense, but in the truly loyal, constant, and steadfast way that he provides for our little family and perseveres through struggles, irritations, or let-downs. He may not be perfect, but he is perfect for me. If I were married to a less faithful man, I would definitely be unhappy, but Hubs keeps loving me and our little Silly Bears with so much gusto even if he’s a major crab-apple because he had a bad day at work or dealt with an annoying person, or if there’s some sort of struggle we’re going through. He’s loyal, he’s steadfast, and his love is constant. I’m very thankful for that.

Honesty

This morning, as I was lying in bed pretending to still be asleep and listening to the children chatter away in the living room, I overheard my 2 year old and 5 year old having the following conversation.

Joseph (in his 2 year old voice): Abbey, will you plug this in for me please? I made a mess.

Abbey: No, Joseph, mommy has to plug the vacuum in. Go ask her. But don’t worry. She won’t be mad. Just tell her truth and she won’t be mad. She’ll help you.

Joseph: Oh. Okay.

Abbey (in her little mommy voice): Joe, telling the truth is the right thing to do.  If you say you didn’t do it, she might get mad. But don’t lie – just tell her the truth, and she’ll help you. Go get mommy, Joe, and tell her what happened. 

Joe had spilled cereal all over the kitchen, and just as Abbey said, when he came to tell me, carrying the mini vacuum and asking me to plug it in, I wasn’t mad. I was actually near tears because I was so proud of them in that moment. I value honesty highly, and Abbey has definitely picked up on it, and is now teaching her brother. Trust is a sacred thing, and I’m really grateful for honesty and the sense of trust that can be garnered between people that love and respect one another.

Pomegranates

Do we need an explanation for this one? Pomegranates are the bomb, and I love them.

My Intelligence

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Okay, this one seems a little trite, right? Man, that Amy is such a pompous person, writing that she is thankful to be intelligent. LOL. But it’s true. I’m really really grateful that I have the academic ability and cognitive skills to learn new things, to seek out challenges, and further my education toward a distinct goal of helping others with lactation and public health. If I didn’t have the academic ability or the cognitive skills, I wouldn’t be able to enjoy learning as much as I do. So, I’m grateful for my intelligence. God created me with a mind to learn and expand, and be creative, and that’s really awesome. Thank You, Lord!

My Parents

I was on the phone today with representative after representative trying to get something accomplished – for at least an hour. And I have been doing this for about three months now over one certain issue that needs to get resolved. Oh, you know the feeling. The dreaded beaurocracy. But thankfully, I have the skills to deal with his kind of challenge. My mom and dad taught me. They also taught me that tact is important in other social situations, not just when dealing with clerks and supervisors, etc. They taught me that learning is awesome, goals are important, and passion is vital. And they taught me that I’m great for who I am. They taught me all sorts of things, from how to tie my shoes to how to deal with being on the phone for hours trying to get somebody to do something. And for all of their imparted knowledge, I’m really grateful.

Educational Organizations

This month, I have been extremely grateful for iLactation.com, at which I registered for (for less than $200) and am participating in an online lactation education conference.  The conference is certified to help me earn CE credits for my Lactation Specific Education component that I need to be eligible for the IBCLC Exam that I plan on taking in 2015, and it’s been really fun to learn more about the most recent information out there on birth, breastfeeding, and lactation-specific public health issues.  I’m also grateful for the ability to take college courses online through AMU.  I can’t imagine trying to finish my bachelor’s degree while traveling so much as a military spouse and going through semesters while Hubs is on deployments if I didn’t have the option to attend online. I’m really grateful for the educational opportunities that I have right now, and the organizations that make them possible!

Deep Breaths

Mothering a 2 and 5 year old is a hoot most days, but also incredibly stress-building.  Deep breaths are my lifeline.  They save me from most (not all) moments when I just want to SCREAM and even moments in which I feel like I might break down in tears.  They teach my children to stop and think and respond calmly to situations (when I remember to use them), and they don’t cost a thing!  Just taking a second to breathe deeply IN and OUT. . . super grateful for that.

Amazingly Kind People at Church

Those of you who read my posts a few months ago about going to mass with my children in New England know that I had a pretty hard time of it. So many people (including the priest) suggested I use the cry room, which I am against using because it enables children to behave in a way that is not appropriate at church.  When we go to mass, it’s a quiet time, to think and pray about what Jesus did for us and to worship joyfully about God’s love for us. It’s not playtime, and it’s not put the families in a plexiglass box time.  I need to teach my children to behave appropriately in church, and with practice, we are making good strides in that direction!  Here in Kodiak, we have been attending mass on base and everyone is so supportive and loving and accepting of families in the chapel where we hold mass.  My fellow mass-goers are happy to see us, and give support, not suggestions, advice, or criticisms when I have both kids with me with no back-up (eghem, daddy, who doesn’t go to church *sigh*). I’m just really thankful for the kindness that my brothers and sisters in Christ are pouring out toward myself and my family here. It’s really warm and encouraging.

So, that’s what I’ve been thankful for this week. What are you feeling in your life that’s filling you FULL of thanks?

Creating a Positive Relationship with Your Child

Today, I’m posting at Natural Parents Network, and it’s so fitting, as Abbey turned five yesterday, and the tips I’ve written about in this article for NPN have helped us through the last year immensely! Check it out at 5 Tricks to Help Create a Positive Relationship With Your Child

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Natural Parents Network: 5 Tricks to Help Create a Positive Relationship With Your Child

Our daughter has always been spirited and strong-willed, and as we entered her fifth year of life, my philosophy of parenting authentically and gently was met with a very strong punch to the gut. Here are a few things that have been very helpful to me in responding to my growing child in a loving and nurturing way.

Today on Natural Parents Network I’m sharing several ideas that help me connect with Abbey and parent intentionally. Read them and leave your own ideas at 5 Tricks to Help Create a Positive Relationship With Your Child.

Another First Day of School

Everybody is talking about and posting pictures of their kids’ first days of school. Most of the chatter I hear amongst my friends is pride and relief – that they made it through another busy summer at home and are now ready to greet back to school time! Some of my friends with children Abbey’s age are musing about the feeling of sending off their little kiddos to Kindergarten for the first time.. .

Abbey was slotted to go to Kindergarten in Maine this fall, but our PCS to Alaska changed things. She missed the age cut off in Alaska for Kindergarten, and while at first I was unhappy about it, because she is really academically ready, I’m starting to realize that I would rather have her be one of the oldest in the class and more comfortable with school and emotionally/behaviorally ready before she enters kindergarten. So this works to her advantage.

All ready for school in the knit dress I sewed her - she picked the fabric out of my stash! She's got a good eye for fashion!

All ready for school in the knit dress I sewed her – she picked the fabric out of my stash! She’s got a good eye for fashion!

She’ll be nearly six when she starts kindergarten next year, but boy, will she be ready to learn everything they will have to teach! She started at her new preschool for 4-5 year-olds this week and LOVED it.

With no apprehension, and a calm, quiet energy, she waltzed right in and put her things away, chatting with the teachers about this and that

. . . and then, as if remembering that she forgot. . . she ran up to jump in my arms for a big hug. “See you guys after school, mommy and Jo Jo!”

Joe was NOT happy leaving his sister at school.

Joe was NOT happy leaving his sister at school.

Joseph was already throwing a giant tearful tantrum, and it went on and off for 30 minutes after we dropped her off. “I want Abbey! Where’s Abbey!?” he cried. “I want school with Abbey!”

We played ran an errand to the grocery store, and played mega blocks and animals and read some books in the quiet house. We made and ate lunch, and then I laid down with him to nurse him for his nap. We fell asleep together, and when I woke up, I made some coffee, retreated to my office area, and got some schoolwork and shopping done without Abbey coming to me every 6 seconds in boredom.

It was nice. But by the time it was time to leave to go get her from school, I definitely was ready to have her back. I’m sure the bittersweet lonesome feeling like something’s missing for a few hours out of the day will go away in time. It did last year when she attended the Child Development Center while I worked on my online classes at home with Joe.

But there’s something about the quiet house and the lessened need for mommy while she’s away. It’s both awesome and lonesome at the same time.

“Don’t put me on your back when we go get Abbey.” said Joe in his little toddler voice when he woke up from his nap. I had worn him in the Ergo when we dropped Abbey off to keep him from running into the classrooms to play with toys. . . and to make handling the tantrum (that I knew was coming) a little easier.

“I done crying. I walk on my own. . . we pick up Abbey. . . I a BIG boy. Okay, mommy?”

Okay, little guy. And he was a big boy when we went to go pick her up. It was amazing how he reconciled his emotions and informed me passionately that he was ready to get get her from school, but that he wasn’t sad anymore.

What a big girl she is becoming. And what a big little boy Joe is lately! I look at them and I have to struggle to remember Joe being tiny. . . Abbey – well, I can’t believe she was a ever a baby (but of course, I know she was)! Sweet Abbey, may all your school days be as effortless and joyful as this one was. And Joseph, my little man, may you grow into a little school-bug yourself someday . . . Mommy loves you both!

If you send your children to mainstream school, how do you feel on their first days? Tell me below!

Even if your kids aren’t in school, how do you feel when your child goes off to an enrichment activity, or to play with a friend? Proud? Relieved? A little lonesome? Chat with me in the comments!

Wordless Wednesday

Silly Bears Fall 2013

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Growing Up Together- Sibling Revelry in Our House

Welcome to the August 2013 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Sibling Revelry

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have written about siblings — their own, their hopes for their kids, and more. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

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Five years ago, I was childless. And now, I have two beautiful children that both inspire and mystify me – two little siblings that love and challenge each other as they grow up together. It’s pretty amazing.

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Growing up with a brother ten years my senior, I am thankful that God has blessed us with two little Silly Bears closer in age than my husband and I were to our siblings. My brother and I were (not purposefully) ten years apart in age, and I have a few fond memories of our interaction when I was small, but not much interaction with him, because he was already off at high school and college and in his own young adult world by the time I was really interested in having a playmate. I was just the kid sister, never really a playmate to my brother.

It’s just so much fun for Abbey and Joe to play together, bond over struggles, and practice social situations in pretend play being close in age. Abbey and Joseph are two and a half years apart, and this seems to be a really fun age gap (and one that worked well for us!). I can’t imagine being pregnant now, or adding another sibling to the Willa clan right now, but that is how it was for Abbey and my pregnancy with Joe.

Fast forward two years: Abbey and Joseph both love and challenge one another.

Abbey is showing Joe all the fun things to do, like pretending, doing crafts, and even going potty (yep, Joe thinks it’s super fun – thanks Abbey!)

And Joe is showing Abbey that there are limits to her older-sibling power. He is big enough now to stand up for himself, and report breaches of household rules when Abbey lets her strong will take her off course during sibling play.

Have I told you yet how amazing it is that I can sit down and have a cup of tea or coffee while our Silly Bears scamper off to play “pretend kindergarten” or “Alice and the Mad Hatter”, “Ninja Turtles”, “Princess Ball” or “Sports” in their rooms? It’s an intoxicating glimpse into the future, when I can really enjoy “the sweet spot” that moms of older children get to experience —

- – - “I’ve been so deep in The Blur for so many years. Not sleeping, eating cold mac and cheese off of Winnie the Pooh plates. Every day determined by nap schedules, nursing, diaper changes and preschool pick up. But that has changed over the past year or so, without me even noticing.” writes Juliana Miner, a fellow blogger, in her article “The Sweet Spot”.

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When I hear my sweet silly bears chattering and playing and growing together in their vibrant sibling revelry, I sit back and enjoy the fact that they don’t need me in that moment. They might need me in a few seconds, but for just that small amount of time, the Blur softens, and I can breathe a little.

I’m insanely glad that we were blessed to be able to give Abbey a sibling within the window that we planned. It’s so fun to watch them grow and change, and such a benefit to me to see their relationship adjusting to their growing ages and stages – - – even allowing me a few seconds of down time every now and again.

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Bread Goes in Your Belly

 

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Abbey and Joe Smily Faces WM

How is the sibling relationship in your experience? Have you witnessed or experienced sibling revelry?

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

  • The Damage of Comparing Siblings — Comparing siblings can lead to hurt feelings and poor relationships. What Jana Falls has learned and why she hopes for more for her son.
  • Connecting Through Sibling Rivalry — With four children who are spaced so that each child grows up in a pair, Destany at They are All of Me shares her method for minimizing the competition so her children can focus on bonding, rather than besting each other.
  • Sibling Revelry — Lucy at Dreaming Aloud shares the two-week transition that happens every summer as her kids transform from bickering to learning how to play.
  • Baby Brother born from an OceanAbby Jaramillo describes how her toddler connects in a possibly mystical way with her new baby brother and his birth at home, and Abby draws parallels with her own sister’s new baby.
  • Hard, But Worth It — Claire at The Adventures of Lactating Girl discusses how difficult having two children can be, but how it’s definitely worth it.
  • Raising Attached Siblings — At Living Peacefully with Children, Mandy and her husband are making conscious choices about how they raise their children to foster sibling connection and attachment.
  • It’s Complicated — Henrietta at Angel Wings and Herb Tea reflects on how life’s twists and turns have taken her from a childhood with no siblings to a constantly changing family life with five children, including one in spirit.
  • Supportsustainablemum reflects on how the differences between her relationship with her siblings and her husband’s have affected their family and at a time of need.
  • Peas in a Pod — Kellie at Our Mindful Life enjoys the special relationship her oldest two children share.
  • Lessening the competitive enviornment in the homeLisa at The Squishable Baby discusses how downplaying competition in the home has led to cooperation, not competition.
  • The complex and wonderful world of siblings — Lauren at Hobo Mamareflects on her choices to have not too many children, spaced far apart — and how that’s maybe limited how close their sibling relationship can be.
  • 5 Ways to Help Young Siblings Have a Loving Relationship — Charise I Thought I Knew Mama shares the strategies that help her three year old and 14 month old have a somewhat beautiful relationship and aid in keeping peace in their home.
  • 4 Steps to Encourage Sibling Revelry, even in Hot Moments of Rivalry — Sheila Pai of A Living Family share 4 Steps she uses to shift hot moments of sibling rivalry towards connected moments of sibling revelry and human compassion.
  • Twins Are Fun — Mercedes at Project Procrastinot witnesses the development of her twins’ sibling bond.
  • Growing Up Together- Sibling Revelry in Our House — Amy at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work realizes that there is great utility in raising siblings that are close in age, and is grateful to have been blessed with healthy siblings that both love and challenge one another every day.
  • Top 5 Ways to Reduce Sibling Rivalry — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares ideas that helped her two children be best friends along with Montessori resources for peace education and conflict resolution.
  • Sibling Uncertainty — Alisha at Cinnamon and Sassafras wonders how her children’s relationship will change now that the baby is mobile.
  • Living with the Longing — Rachael at The Variegated Life sees that she can live with her longing for another — without changing her plans.
  • For My One and Only DaughterPlaying for Peace mommy reflects on her choice to not have more children in order to focus on other dreams.
  • Siblings: A Crash Course in Relationship Training — How have your siblings prepared you for later relationships? One of Dionna at Code Name: Mama’s top priorities as mama of siblings is to help them learn how to navigate relationships.
  • The Joys of Siblings: An Inside Joke — Ana at Panda & Ananaso shares the a glimpse into the joys of having siblings through sharing a perplexing yet hilarious inside joke betwixt her and her own.
  • Sibling Support, even in the potty! — Even though Laura at Pug in the Kitchen‘s children didn’t start out best friends, they are joined at the hip these days, including cheering each other on with potty successes!
  • Don’t Seek What Isn’t There – On Sibling Jealousy — Laura from Authentic Parenting analyzes the seeming desire people harbor for seeking out hints of sibling jealousy.
  • Sibling Love / Sibling Hate?Momma Jorje speculates whether her children will have a different sibling experience than her own. Did she make the right choices based on her own history?

Wordless Wednesday: See Saw Yee Haw!

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Miracles into Monsters and Back Again

The Taboo Carnival

Welcome to the Taboo Carnival. Our topic this Fall is I LOVE YOU BUT I DON’T ALWAYS LIKE YOU! This post was written for inclusion in the quarterly Taboo Carnival hosted by Momma Jorje and Hybrid Rasta Mama. This month our participants reflect on the concept of loving versus liking our children and their behaviors. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

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“I love you, but I do not like you right now”

If I had a dime for the number of times I have said this (or a variation of this) in the past few weeks, I would have a nice “mommy-time-out-time” fund saved up. I mean seriously. The spitting. The raspberries. The laughing in my face. The changing of the subject. The defiance. The shaking of that cute little preschool booty and all of the potty language. Oh, the potty language!!!!!

Sometimes, I find myself in the place of loving my 4 year old mini-me with all of my heart. . . and despising her behavior with all of my being.

I love you. . . . but I don’t like you. It’s a bitter reality. And a huge lesson. Every time.

Miracles into Monsters – A Gentle Mother’s Un-doing

I have a profound affection for both of my children. They are my flesh and blood and the embodiment of the care, commitment, and passion that my husband and I feel for one another. I adore the miracles that are my children. . . and I know that the joyful challenge of parenting is a true blessing.

But sometimes, those awesome, miraculous, beautiful Silly Bears (mostly the 4-year-old one) just act so extremely unpleasant, and there’s nothing I can do to turn it around.

Turning Monsters Back Into Miracles

In retrospect, I watch myself in my mind’s eye going through the paces of mothering in a difficult situation, and I want to just break into the moment and tell myself:

“Stop! Stop trying to get her to do it your way and just love her. Stop trying to discipline her and control her and just love her.

I know that you want this moment to end, that you don’t want to fight with her anymore, so just hug her. Just hug that extremely disrespectful, nagging, spitting, cackling, potty mouthed monster of a baby girl.

Breathe in her slight-framed, sticky-fingered, wispy braided-pigtail-wearing, ridiculously awful cuteness

until she stops seeming like such a monster and starts looking like your little miracle again.”

Reconciling Unpleasant Moments

In reality, these moments don’t end with a hug. We will get tired of taking breaks to calm down, and one (or both) of us will lose it and have a fit. Then there’s a few moments where we hate eachother. . . and a few minutes a while later when we sit face to face, holding hands and talking about our emotions and our needs and how mommy and Abbey can do better next time.

Thinking about it, I think that reconciling unpleasant moments is definitely one of my favorite parts of parenting. The blow- up… The fit… The fighting… Is totally not fun. But seeing my daughter understand that being upset with someone doesn’t mean there’s no love there is awesome. Helping her understand that everyone is human, everyone is culpable, and everyone also deserves and receives forgiveness is amazing. The moments of “I love you but I don’t like you” . . . are hidden blessings for me, because the reconciliation between myself and my baby is a special thing.

Though the two of us regularly torment each other with unpleasant behaviors, our conflict also allows us the opportunity to connect and reconcile our thoughts and needs together.

Next time, though, I might try a little harder to end it with a hug – before it blows up.

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Visit Momma Jorje and Hybrid Rasta Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Taboo Carnival! Enjoy the posts from this month’s Carnival participants!

  • Learning to Like and Love — JeninCanad at Fat and Not Afraiddivulges the long journey it’s been to learn to love, then like, her son. 
  • How Do You Like Yourself? — Destany at They Are All of Me writes about teaching her children likability.
  • You Can Love Someone and Not Like What They Do — Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children reminds herself, just as she reminds her children, that unconditional love is not dependent on liking what a person does.
  • I hated my three year old — Shannon at Pineapples & Artichokes talks about how much trouble she had dealing with her 3 year old.
  • I love her, but… GRR — Jorje of Momma Jorje vents a bit about annoying behavior, but loves her children… even when they drive her nuts!

Happy Birthday Dear Abbey!

Four years ago tonight, I birthed my first born child: a little girl, bleating like a little lamb. Pink and sweet and wrinkly, I held her to my chest and nursed her, and she gazed into my husband’s eyes. Our first born baby – little Abigail Jane.

That first night, I bundled her like a little burrito and nourished her at my breast, singing her soft songs and watching her sleep in her little plastic basinet. A few days later, I sang “You Are My Sunshine” to her as tears rolled down my face, trying to help her recover from an emergency intestinal surgery her new little body required. And a few months later, I spent endless nights rocking and singing to her and dancing with her through the house in Texas, trying to get her to fall and stay asleep. . .

And tonight, Abbey is four. Wow, how does the time FLY!

Tonight, Abbey is as tall as my waist, with long, strong, little girl legs, and a will of steel. She is a big sister to an 18 month old brother, and best friends with Abbi, Nate, Brooke, and of course her best-est friends, Mommy and Daddy.

She has so many friends, attends preschool, can write the first three letters of her name, and is interested in learning to read. She is a talented singer, creative soul, and loves gymnastics, pretend play, and riding her bike. And though she still finds nourishment at my breast in the early morning hours, she now puts herself to bed with a stack on books and highlights magazines that she looks at and “reads” to herself as she falls asleep.

Today Abbey is 4. FOUR! I tell you. . . where did the time go!?

I’m just so proud of her spirit, her kindness, her talent, and her creativity. I love watching her grow, and learning every day about life, friends, animals, people, places, and ideas.

Next September, we’ll be living in a new home, at a new Coast Guard duty station, with new friends, and Abbey will be starting Kindergarten. And yet I still look at my darling girl, and I see the same face that looked up at me in her first moments. That sweet, bleating, beautiful little lamb, Abigail Jane Willa.

Abbey, we’re blessed to have you with us, and we love you so much! Happy Birthday Darling Girl!!!!!!

More Than the Kid Sister

The Taboo Carnival

Welcome to the Taboo Carnival. Our topic this summer is PLAYING FAVORITES! This post was written for inclusion in the quarterly Taboo Carnival hosted by Momma Jorje and Hybrid Rasta Mama. This month our participants reflect on favoritism in relationships with children, parents, siblings, and more. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

Me in the ASU Honors Dorm Hall Council in 2006

Of all of my friends and classmates, I think I would be perceived as one of the least likely to drop out of college mid-second semester, and definitely the least likely to elope at 19, marry a military man, and start having babies.

And ever since I became that young, baby raising, military wife, I have felt like I somehow let my parents down, and accepted the fact that my brother was definitely the favorite. Until recently, I thought I’d never be seen as anything but the silly, surprisingly wild and defiant kid sister.

Being the Kid Sister

Having been somewhat of a miracle child, ten years (and much trying, loss, and trying again) after my brother, my reality was pretty much that of a single child household from the time I was 8 years old and my brother went off to college.

Our Family Easter 2008

Though I have a few very clear and dearly fond memories of playing with my older brother when we were younger, most of my relationship with my brother played out after he had “reached adulthood” . . . and I have to admit, it kind of stunk.

Until very recently,  I’ve been under the impression that because my brother took the expected route to adulthood, career, and family, that he has made our parents proud . . . whereas I am still just the kid sister, and have let my parents down by going about life on a different path. Until a surprising phone call on Father’s Day, I felt afraid and saddened by the idea that my parents love my brother more because his traditional successes and fulfilled expectations pleased my parents, and that I have always challenged them in one way or another.

Great Expectations

You see, everyone had certain expectations of me. Being the youngest child, and somewhat of a miracle baby at that, and an exceptionally bright student and talented dancer and artist. . . I’m sure everyone had visions of me as a successful writer or researcher or broadway star or something. I know that I had those visions of my future in my head at one time. . . but God led me on a different and incredibly blessed path and showed me what amazing experiences and opportunities he had in store for me, and that shocked, scared, and I think to a certain extent, appalled my family and my friends and everyone who knew me.

For years, even as I have been discovering my true calling and become quite a successful and busy military wife, mom, blogger, and even now a work-at-home-”mompreueur” . . . I have always felt afraid that I let every one back home down.

I’ve been afraid that I have never and will never live up to the expectations assigned to me. That somehow waiting until inspiration struck to go back to college as a full time student and a full time mom was somehow. . . less of an achievement because it wasn’t what I was expected to do.

I assumed that because my brother took the usual path through college, on to work, then marriage, then kids, and was successful in his family and in his career, that he was somehow the favorite child. I thought that he had made our parents so much more proud than I could ever make them, and that I would always live in the shadow of everything that he had done right and that I had done . . . differently.

I felt disparaged by the fact that my brother was “an adult” yet I did not feel that, even at 23, being a successful and strong military wife, volunteer, parenting blogger, and mother to two. . . that I could ever been seen as “an adult” in my family’s eyes.

Until one phone call set me straight, and thrilled my heart with the knowledge there is no favorite or best child between my brother and myself.

Silly Me

On Father’s Day this year, my dad called for ME.

Before could even wish him a Happy Father’s Day, he said that he wanted to call ME on Father’s Day to tell me something important.

He wanted me to know how happy it makes him to be my father. He said when your daughter is little, you don’t think forward to when she’s going to be an adult – but then as your children grow, you wonder what type of people your children will be. And he wanted me to know that I have grown up so wonderfully. He said that as a father, you hope that you’re teaching your children the values and tools they need to become successful, and that he loves seeing me as an adult because he is so proud of who I have become.

He told me that I was strong, determined, and motivated, no matter what the circumstances, and that I’m a responsible and wonderful mother to my children, and that my passion and motivation makes him very proud. He said “thank YOU for being my daughter” And I cried.

I masked the fact that I was weeping as we finished our conversation, and as I hung up the phone, I couldn’t believe what I had just heard, but I played it over and over in my mind and stashed it safely in my heart for safekeeping. It has to be one of my very favorite memories, and I think it will stay precious to me for the rest of my life.

Because through my years of assuming that my “path less taken” meanderings and unforeseen choices and alternative ways of choosing a career, committing to a marriage, and creating and raising babies, I hadn’t been disappointing him as I thought. . . Silly me! I wasn’t letting him down. . . I had made him immensely proud.

A few weeks later, my mom said a similar thing to me about my life choices. She explained that it took her a while to accept my choices as an adult because I am her baby girl, but that watching me make serious decisions, follow through with and navigate my life, and care so well for Abbey and Joe that I make her extremely proud and she wanted me to know that she sees me as a “strong woman and a strong mother” (” though”, she added, “your older brother just doesn’t get that yet!”)

Knowing that my life, my choices, and my motivation makes my parents proud means everything to me. THEY are the ones who made me. Who nurtured me. Who taught me, supported me, and protected me throughout my entire childhood. I can understand what my father meant about looking at your children and hoping that you are doing the very best you can to teach them the ways of the world and how to live well. So, the fact that what I am doing as an adult brings happiness to my parents . . . that makes me feel incredibly blessed.

***

Visit Momma Jorje and Hybrid Rasta Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Taboo Carnival! Enjoy the posts from this month’s Carnival participants!

  • What makes a favorite? — Jorje of Momma Jorje ponders what caused her grandparents and parents to choose favorites. She also considers possible causes for her own favoritism.
  • Taking Longer to Fall in Love with My Second Baby — Dionna at Code Name: Mama fell helplessly, powerlessly in love with her first-born. Love with her second-born has not been as easy, but does that mean #1 is her favorite?
  • Mommy Dearest or Darling Daddy? — Amanda at Let’s Take the Metro guest hosts about every parent having faults. Jorje of Momma Jorje ponders why she would prefer one parent over the other and whether this applies to every situation or can it vary?
  • Money and Equality: Should All Your Kids Get the Same? — At Authentic Parenting, Laura investigates whether or not we should provide exactly the same for our children financially.
  • More Than the Kid Sister — Amy of Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work always felt that she lived in the shadow of her older brother’s accomplishments, until her parents made her aware that her personality and passion have always brought them joy and pride.
  • Playing Favourites — Lyndsay at ourfeminist{play}school looks at how her intense parenting style has created what ‘looks’ like favourites but is more causal than reality.
  • There Are No Favorites (I Hate You All The Same) — Amy at Anktangle guest hosts about it being easy to see how a cycle of conditional love can make a mother keep her children at arms reach.
  • Yes, Parents Have A Favorite Child — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares her thoughts on parents having a favorite child and how this may have long term effects on both the favored and unfavored child.
  • On having two kids & not playing fair — Lauren at Hobo Mama learned from her mother that you don’t raise children based on what’s fair but on what’s right for each child.
  • My Kids Totally Play Favourites — Amber at Strocel.com tries hard not to play favourites with her kids – but they make no secret of which parent they prefer.

  • The Ugly Side of Favoritism — Shannon of Pineapples and Artichokes shares a guest post warning: Don’t favor one child over the other.