Archive for the ‘Growing Up’ Category

Life and Sisters

The ONLY funny thing about Sophia scolding Jolie is that she sounds just like me. Tonight I heard her go in her room after she’d brushed her teeth. She was ready to get into bed. Jolie, on the other hand, was having a rough time and standing, crying in her crib. “Jolie,” says Sophia, in her most serious, Mommy-tone that she can muster, “Lie down and go to sleep!”

I heard Sophia in the living room a couple of days ago playing with her dollies and saying the word “serious” every so often. When I got a chance I asked her what “serious” meant. She told me, “It’s when you’re really, really mad.” I felt like Art Linkletter. Except, I was interviewing my own child who was telling me how it is when I’m serious.

Jolie’s one now. And although I try and try to do everything for Jolie that I did for Sophia, I forgot to write a blog post on her birthday. It’s as simple as that. I don’t know what else to say, except that it’s impossible to make things totally fair, and I’ll just have to live with whatever claims of injustice are thrown in my face 20 years from now. The fact, though, is that I can’t blame my lack of time on Sophia. Jolie’s the reason she didn’t get a birthday blog! Her signature pose is one where she’s sitting on the floor with her arms straight up in the air toward me. Well, usually… Tonight was a little different.

Jolie had a hard day today. And it started with a fall off of our way-too-high king sized bed with a hard landing on the floor beside it. Needless to say, she was a little off today. And she kind of showed a mean streak, too. She yelled at both me and Sophia countless times today (not her happy yell, either, but her frown/yell that I’ve only come to know today), and she even pushed Sophia away when Sophia was trying to get a little closer to me during story time. It was as if the fall awakened her to a different side of her personality or something.

She sat in her high chair tonight and didn’t want to eat. Sophia tried to encourage her with a, “It’s yummy, Jolie!” but only received a mean yell back. “Don’t yell at your sister,” I said, with my own frown, finally done with her meanness toward Sophia. Her bottom lip popped out and began to quiver. She was trying so hard not to cry. Sophia, broken hearted for her little sis, said, “Oh, it’s okay Jolie. I’ll come give you a hug.” And as she stepped down from the table, Jolie stretched out those little arms, like she’s done countless times before, but this time in the direction of her sister.

I’m glad they’ll have each other for all the times that life isn’t fair.

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Shakespeare wrote of the rose smelling as sweet even if it went by another name, just like you would be beautiful even if your name didn’t say so.  You are my jolie fille, and today, you are 7 months old.

It’s hard to believe that seven months have already passed since you joined our family.  Yet, on the other hand, it’s hard to believe that only seven months have passed since you joined our family.  It’s such a cliche, but I really can’t remember when you weren’t here.  I superimpose you into all of my memories.  Even the ones I have of my life before I had a family of my own.

It’s amazing to see you change every day.  A few weeks ago you slept through the night in your crib for the first time.  I knew it was time to really try when, after Sophia had long gone to bed, you, Papa and I sat on the bed.  You lay on your back, playing with your toes, while Papa and I ate ice cream and watched an episode of The Office.  Sophia all of a sudden appeared in the doorway and asked, “Watcha guys doin’?”  We sheepishly told her what we were doing, heavily laden with guilt, and then told her she could sit up with us for a little while, and, yes, have bites of our ice cream, too.  The next day Sophia asked me why Jolie slept in our bed and not in her room with her.  That’s when I knew I had to make more of an effort and – ta-da! – it worked (it actually was quite the process, though), so now when sister gets put to bed, you do to.

If there’s anything I really know about you, Jolie, it’s that you love your sister.  When she cries, you cry.  When she screams with laughter, you cry, too, because you think she’s hurt.  Yesterday, at our neighbors’ house, our friend Shane made Sophia screech with laughter.  After you cried for a bit and got over it, you spent the rest of our time there eye-balling Shane and scowling at him.  I could almost read your mind, “Don’t you dare hurt my sister.”

You started clucking your tongue recently.  At church they joke that you’ve learned a tribal language.  I can usually cheer you up if you’re sad by clucking my tongue at you.  You do it back, and then you smile.  You have one of the two best smiles I’ve ever seen (tied with Sophia’s, of course).  It melts my heart and makes me want to laugh at the same time.  It tells me that everything is going to be ok, and that I shouldn’t worry about anything – at all.  That I should just spend my time loving you and knowing that if I don’t take the time now to just sit and watch you smile, I’ll never ever get the chance.

Thanks for the reminder, my jolie fille.

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Thankful for this girl

Ask her to smile for a picture and you get a cheesy, lips-only grin (you’ll see what I mean when I post her school picture). But, make her smile with a joke or a tickle and, well, as Memphis says about Norma Jean on Happy Feet, it just about takes your breath away. No matter how hard I mess up as her mom, she always finds time in the day to reward me with her smile.

Even since that day I surprised her with a sister, she has found ways to amaze me with her patience and her huge heart. I don’t know how many times I’ve said the sentence, “Not right now, Sophia, I’m ____ing Jolie” (you fill in the verb), but she still somehow assumes the role of helpful big sister, instead of jealous first born. The other day I had plopped a load of clean laundry on the couch right where I usually put Jolie just as Sophia was walking into the living room. She rushed over to the couch and began to dig frantically through the clothes pile and only stopped when I asked her what she was doing. “Mom,” she asked with her eyebrows tightly woven together, “where’s Jolie?!” “In her carseat,” I answered. She looked over to where Jolie sat and breathed a huge sigh of relief. At playgroup last week I let one of the teachers hold Jolie as we sat in the gym. Sophia looked nervously on until she eventually came over to me and said, “Mom, you need to hold Jolie.” A few moments later one of the boys from her class came over and started to pat Jolie’s head. Sophia, real smooth-like, made her way between him and Jolie, thus blocking him from touching her little sister.

And if that’s not enough to make me feel more thankful than I ever have in possibly my whole life, Sophia’s motto in life has become, “Maybe tomorrow.” It started when Grandma Becky and Pop-pop were here right after Jolie was born. We were standing outside a strip mall in Craig when Sophia saw a picture of an icecream cone in a window of a restaurant. “Ice Cream!!! Can I have some?” she yelled. Something around “we’ll see” was the response, and so she said, “Okay, maybe tomorrow?” Since then, that is how she deals with all disappointments in life: can’t go to playgroup today – maybe tomorrow, has to have “regular” milk instead of strawberry milk – maybe tomorrow. If only she knew how much I wish I could jump up at any moment to chase her around the house, or see something cool she has made in her room. If only she knew how thankful I am to have her as my big girl. Someday, I hope she does.

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I had been 22 for just over a week and I had recently met the man of my dreams, with whom I knew I would spend the rest of my life, when I began the journey that has just yesterday come to a close. For some reason, God placed me in a shop full of men – some old, some younger…one I even rode the bus with to school in Palmer. I had gone there with the intention of spending 10 weeks and then returning to Anchorage where I would continue going to UAA, but that 10 weeks turned to four years and here we are.

The woman who took my position asked me if I was sad at all to be leaving, and after a little thought my answer was no, because it’s always sad for me to be at work and away from my baby girl. But then, during my last few days there, I realized how many people I really wanted to say goodbye to.  I must have hugged about 50 dirty coverall-wearing guys who all remind me in part of my own dad, and I couldn’t help but be reminded of how they all have been like “dads” to me, or “big brothers” even. And as the majority of them got a little teary-eyed saying goodbye to me, I found myself doing the same.

The shop had a good-bye party for me on Saturday. They aren’t a very emotional group, as you can imagine any group of mechanics would be, but they did say that they feel like they’ve watched me grow up. They were some of the first to hear that I was engaged, saw my pictures from our wedding, and heard that I would be bringing a new life into the world, and also some of the first people to hear that I’d lost my brother. They said they hated to see me go, but they knew I had a good reason. And I know I do, too.

It hasn’t really sunk in yet that I don’t have to go back. I keep reminding myself by telling Sophia every couple of hours, “Guess what?!” “What?”, she asks. “Mama’s home now, for good.”

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Big Girl

After what has seemed like a lifetime of consideration, Sophia has decided to give the whole potty training thing a go. A real go. Aside from naps and bedtime, the last 48 hours have been diaper-free in our house. The sticker chart is quickly filling up and the peanut M&Ms are disappearing two by two as she successfully uses the potty. (And just when we switched over to cloth diapers – go figure!)

Hurray Sophia! She really is becoming quite the big girl. Mama and Papa couldn’t be more proud. 🙂

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27 months

Dear Sophia,

There was a time not too long ago that I always knew exactly how old you were. I’ve always been so proud of each of your accomplishments, even when you fell a little behind (like how you got your first tooth at nearly 9 months!) I realized today that I think of you as being 2, not 2 years X amount of months/weeks/days, just 2. An email popped up on my screen from Babycenter telling me that you are 27 months old today and I had to double-check the calendar to see that they were in fact right. It’s the fifth today meaning that you aren’t just 2, you’re 27 months! Instead of reaching big, singular milestones every so often, you are constantly reaching little ones that are adding up faster than I can say, “Sophia, come here so I can help you blow your nose.”

You concentrate so hard on things. I love watching you in your bike seat behind your papa, watching my legs as they pedal my way down the street. It’s almost as if you’re memorizing the rhythm. You also, I’ve noticed, concentrate on whether or not my words and actions coincide. You call me on so many things, especially when I’m doing something I normally tell you not to do, like wear my shoes in the house. I love this, because it lets me know that you’re paying attention to my constant nagging! You still love to “cook”, but now you give us more options for our dishes. It’s not just pie anymore, it’s pumpkin or keylime! And now you always ask us if we’d like a fork or a spoon to use.

You’re now able to suggest things that actually make sense and are conceivable for our situation. Like when we sat down the other night to watch one of your movies and you suggested that we make some popcorn. Or like when it’s really sunny outside and you grab your helmet and say, “Ride the bike?” It’s hard to imagine, but life with you gets to be even more fun the more we’re able to communicate with you.

You are very well mannered and always remember to bless us when we sneeze, and to say thank you when you are given something. You also, however, demand the same out of us. You must have said thank you 5 times for your milk yesterday before I realized that you were waiting for me to say “You’re welcome.” You always remember to ask me if I’m ok after I’ve had a coughing fit or stubbed my toe; you always remember to kiss my owies better. Not too long ago I popped my knuckles and you looked at me with such horror, and pity, and said, “No, Mama.” You grabbed my abused appendages and gave them kisses.

You got to see your little baby brother/sister in the form of an ultrasound last Friday but weren’t impressed by the image. You get more excited feeling the baby kick and hearing us talk about it. I know you’ll be the best big sister ever, and I can’t wait for you to be my little helper.

Love you always kleines Engel,

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ABC, easy as 123

This girl sure does like her letters. Just last night she and Isaac were showing me a game they made up, where he asks her which letter she would like, she tells him, and then he hands her the letter.

I got to play, too, but every time it was my turn I would say, “May I have the “Q” (for example) please Papa?”, and then he would hand it to me. Soon, Sophia was saying, “My have “M” peeze”. They learn so fast… It’s so encouraging that they pick up on good habits, too, and not just the bad ones. 🙂

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Sophia, as you know, will be turning 2 in less than a week. She’s constantly showing us signs that she’s now a big girl – like how she said, “Yes, please” when Isaac asked her the other day if she wanted another helping of green peas, or how she used the potty after getting done taking a shower recently.

Taking a shower seems to be quite the big girl task in itself. But when you consider the fact that we don’t have an actual bathtub – just one of those plastic kiddy tubs – sometimes its just easier to let her take a shower. She’ll hold the wand and spray herself down (remembering always to do her “Po waschen*”), then use the Avon Roll-On Raspberry Scented Soap her Grandma Becky gave her, and then spray it off. She even does a pretty good job getting her hair wet so that all we have to do is wash it and rinse the shampoo out. I must also admit that she spends a lot of her time washing the shower walls while she’s in there – which could be considered the act of a big girl, I guess. 🙂

She’s also getting extremely fun to talk to. When I get home from work, Isaac always encourages me to tell her about my day, and it’s really surprising how intently she listens. And how interested she actually looks. When I ask her about hers, she’s got so much to say – about horses and monkeys and friends she saw at the post office or at playgroup. The world is her oyster…

Amidst all this growing up, though, I still look at her and see my baby. Despite her loooooong legs and arms, and the way she tells me, “No, no, no” in a really calm voice as she shakes her head, as if she’s trying to teach me something I just don’t get, she’s still the one who started out so small inside of me. She’s the one I have memories of lying on my chest after I gave birth to her, squinting because the light was too bright. The both of us feeling slightly out of place, yet also feeling like we were where we belonged. I remember about an hour after her birth she lay in the bassinette beside me. I stared into her eyes for what seemed like an eternity, before finally falling asleep. Our family of two had all of a sudden become a family of three, and nothing seemed more normal.

In about 7 months, that number will change again. And I have a feeling that she will grow up exponentially after that. For now, I want to enjoy my Baby Phia. Her task of Big Sister will come soon enough.

*Po waschen is German for “to wash your bottom”.

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