Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Conversations between Baby and Big Kids

So, I had a baby two weeks ago (birth story coming soon, for those of you who are interested in that kind of thing).  She is amazing.  I love that the older two girls love her.  Popeye and Juju always want to watch her and talk to her and read to her.  Here are some conversations with the baby that I have overheard:

Baby: (crying)
Juju: Aww...I like your smile!   You love me so much!


Popeye: Hey, what does the fox say?

Baby: ......

Popeye: (louder) What does the fox say?


Popeye: What does a cow say?


Popeye: What does anything say?


Popeye: (leaning in close to the baby) Why do you pretend to not talk?  Baby Winnie can talk.  (Long pause)  I think you're a spy.  But you're so adorable, too.  (Kisses Baby's head)


We took the kids to a health fair several weeks ago and P picked up a 16 page booklet about strokes.  For a while it was her favorite thing to read and she was really fascinated by the pictures of the brain.
 Recently, she decided to read this awesome piece of literature to the baby.

Popeye: Look, Baby Caroline.  This is a picture of your brain.  These are your brain tubes and blood.  If your brain tubes get clogged you will have a stroke and die.  This happens because when you don't eat vegetables and salad.   Umm........Baby Caroline, you only eat milk....

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Lies I've Told My Kids

I know it's wrong but I lie to my kids.  I know better.  My mother taught me better.  Growing up, my mother would always tell us that nothing bothered her more than lying.  We could do something really rotten and the punishment was always surprisingly less severe if we just came clean.  Sometimes we wouldn't even get in trouble because my mom appreciated that we told the truth.  But wo, wo, wo unto those who did not tell the truth and got caught.  Major trouble.  What's worse, we had to live with knowing that our mom was "disappointed" in us and couldn't trust us anymore.  Yowza.  That stung worse than any punishment she could dole out.

Still, I lie to my kids.  A lot.  I didn't realize how much until recently.  What makes it bad is that the belief in my lies kind of makes my kids weirdos.  I lie anyway.  I like to think I do it for their own good but I'm still not sure that my mom approves.  Here are some examples.

Lie #1
There are crocodiles that live in the canal and they will eat you if you get too close to the water.

Justification: We lived dangerously close to a canal and my kids are master escape artists.  I swear to you, I heard my neighbor screaming and ran to the front door to find that 3-year-old Popeye was hanging out a 2-story window, reaching for the landing because she had tried to escape.  Canals are too tempting for my kids and I was terrified that if I took my eyes off of one of them for 10 seconds they would end up in the canal.  That is when I hatched the plan.  It was remarkably effective.  You wouldn't believe it.  They wouldn't step foot outside without an adult and they were afraid to drive along the road that follows the canal.  I didn't want them to live in fear, but better fearful than overly brave when it comes to the canal. After a few months, though, my kids did get more daring.  They would go to the end of the driveway and throw things at the canal.  They would lean over guard rails by the canal when we went on walks.  They didn't believe there were really crocodiles in there.  Well, this wouldn't do.  So I had no choice.  I did what any loving, caring mother would do.  I devised a plan to scare the crap out of keep them safe.

I had to run an errand one evening.  I had my brother-in-law hide behind a car with his computer. As the girls were getting ready to wander too far, my brother-in-law played weird reptilian monster growling noises on his computer.  The girls freaked out, believing it to be the vicious sound of a crocodile, ready to attack.  They nearly climbed over each other to retreat to the safety of the van.  The girls never questioned the existence of the crocs again and they never got anywhere close to the canal/road again.

Am I ashamed? A little. No.  I did what had to be done.

Lie #2
"Of course, Santa is real!"

Lie # 2.5
"I talk to Santa and if you guys don't get along I'll just tell him you only want broccoli for Christmas."

Justification:  There are probably better parenting techniques but this was seems so efficient.  I mean, it works instantly.

Lie #3
"If you sneak out of your bed at night and get into the fridge and eat the food, all of your hair will fall out."

Justification:  No justification for this one, really.  I don't even know how I came up with this.  It just sort of spilled out one morning after I went in their room to discover bags of half eaten pepperoni and blocks of cheese and half empty cups of yogurt after their late night food fest.  This lie, too, has been an effective lie.

Lie #4
"If you watch more than one movie a day your brain will melt.  I can look in your eyeballs and tell if your brain is starting to melt."

Justification:  Pops and Juj wanted to watch movies all of the time.  If I had to argue about it one more time I was going to go insane.  It worked, too.  Popeye will tattle on babysitters who "make" her watch more than one movie.  She has me check her eyes, "just in case" after she watches a movie.  She accepts limited television time, knowing it is for her own good.  It makes her a little weird, but it also makes her more willing to do something besides watch TV.

Lie #5 
"'Never' is a bad word."

Justification: Juj kept saying snotty things and following it up with, "NEVER!" (Examples: "I never want to play with you! NEVER!" and, "I won't eat my lettuce!  NEVER!") I was just so tired of hearing it!  It sounded awful.  Now my kids think it is a bad word.  They don't say it and they are appalled when they hear others say it.

Other Lies

I pretend that my kids' muscles are noticeably larger immediately after they swallow their vegetables.

I told my kids there are secret guards in the grocery store parking lot that watch out for little kids who stray too far from their parents.  They catch these kids and draw mustaches on their faces with ugly markers.  (Really, I don't know how I come up with some of these.  I start a lie and it gets huge and ridiculous before I can stop it.  It's terrible.)

Popeye and Juj believe that there are monkeys in the trees.  All trees.  Including the trees in our neighborhood.  While I didn't technically lie to them about it (Papi did), I don't discourage the belief.  Monkey hunting on walks is fun.  I don't want to ruin that.

Go ahead, guys.  Judge me.  I deserve it.  But if you do judge me, your eyes will fall out and your fingers will turn into spaghetti.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

I'm trying to catch up on stories.

Me: Popeye, your hair is so beautiful!

P: Thanks.  I brush it almost every day.


Recently, my brother an his wife welcomed their first baby into the world.  We went to the store to pick out an outfit for the new little one.

P: This one!  It has an animal on the butt!  We need this one!

Me: But it says "Grandma loves me."  We're not the baby's grandma.

P: But, Mom!  We need it!

Me: It says, "Grandma loves me" on the shirt, though.

P: I know!  Gramma loves EVERYBODY!


P: Did you marry Dad once or twice?

Me: Just once.

P: But don't you love him enough to marry him twice?

Me: I don't need to marry him twice. We're already married.

P: But I didn't get to see it! And you love him and want to kiss him! And you need to wear your pretty dress! So I can see!


P's prayer last night:

P: Heavenly Father, we're thankful that we were so good today and choosing the right.  Please help Baby Caroline to pop out of Mom's belly.  Umm....maybe Jesus can help us with that.  Please help us to stay in our beds all night.  In the name of Jesus Christ. AMEN!


 P: But I don't WANT a new sister! I want to keep my Juju Bee!

Five minutes later....

P: Can we call the new baby "Other Juju?"


Chris was gone overnight for a scout camp.  Peyton insisted on calling him just before 11 p.m.  I tried to just get her to go to bed but she was adamant that she needed to speak with him.  I called her dad and handed her the phone.  What was so urgent?  She felt she needed to talk to her dad right then about....arranged marriage. 


P: Juj, can you go to the bathroom with me?  I'm scared to go by myself.

Me: P, there isn't anything scary in your bathroom.

P: Yes, Mom!  Remember?  There is water vapor in there!  Don't you think it is gross and weird and disgusting?

(A few minutes later)

P: Are you going to be something scary for Halloween?

Me: Probably not.

P: Are you going to be a big, fat, scary water vapor?


More of P's fears...

P: Juj, I have to go potty really bad but I'm too afraid! Things I'm afraid of are spiders, dolphins, sharks, pencils, and the weirdest man in the world. Will you please go with me and turn on the bathroom light?

Juj: (Confused by why Peyton can't just do this herself) Sure, Popeye.

This is why everybody needs a sister.


P: Mom, can I have dote dote dote ice cream?

Me: What is that?  I don't think I've ever even heard of that.

P: It's ice cream and when you eat it is makes you go "AHHHHH! A doh doh doh!" And then you think you have a pet alligator*.

Me:  .....You know, I think I have heard of that.  I'm pretty sure it is against the law, though.

P: Oh man.  Okay.

*She may have said giraffe but it was a while ago and now I can't remember.  This is what you get for not writing things down as they happen.


You know the "What Does the Fox Say?" song?  I played it for Juj and she loved it.  Popeye had different feelings.  She was confused and really bothered by it. 

P: Umm...Mom, I don't think a fox says that.  No.  And elephants don't say "toot." No.  They say (Insert surprisingly accurate elephant noise).  We can't listen to this song because it doesn't choose the right.


P: Mom, you are so smart and strong and beautiful and lovely and teamwork.  

Me: Thanks!

P: Sure!  May I have some candy?


I got out construction paper and scrapbook paper and cut out feather shapes and shapes of turkey bodies and explained to the girls that we were making turkeys and writing what we were thankful for on the feathers. These were their responses:

Peyton: Umm...can I just make a regular chicken? Because I don't think I like thankful turkeys.

Loralie: Can I just play with scissors?

What Popeye meant to say last night: Trick or treat!

What Popeye kept saying instead: Hi. Can I have some candy for my sister? She's back there. Her hands are absolutely full. Do you have a dog? My name's Peyton!


Our van broke down right after Chris picked up our car from the shop (so grateful the van waited to die until we had the car). We went to the store to get a part to fix the car and I knew that we wouldn't get home for a while and we'd have a late dinner. This is the conversation we had in the car on the way to the store:

Me: Sheesh. We'll be getting home late. What do you guys want for dinner?

Chris: Eh, I don't care. We could probably just eat cereal.

Peyton: No!

Me: How about a PB&J sandwich?

Peyton: No. I had that yesterday for lunch.

Me: Ha! This coming from the kid who thinks it is okay to eat pizza for lunch and dinner everyday.

Peyton: Mmm...we should buy more pizza.

Juj:....we should buy more ice cream....


We recently had the Primary presentation at church. It is where the children have little lines and sing songs in front of the congregation. I was really excited because we worked hard to organize it and it was P's very first program.

It was also probably her last program. Ever. She sat in the front row and played dead for most of the program. Other kids would get up when it was time to sing another song. P would just slump down and pretend to be even more dead. She did get up once and say, "Guys, I need to go to the bathroom or it's going to go 1-2 down my leg." Then she played dead again. When questioned about it afterward she said she was just too nervous to not be dead.


Me: You have to clean your room, kid.

P: (Looks in room and makes a face) Umm..can you handle that? I have to help my dad watch football.

No parent enjoys reading the same book over and over again to their children. We do it, though, because we appreciate their passion for literature, no matter how it comes...

At least, I used to feel that way. It is excruciating to support that passion when your kids' favorite thing to read is an 18 page booklet they got at the health fair called, "Explaining Stroke." Can't they just like "Goodnight, Moon" like normal kids?


Friday, October 18, 2013

To Be Randomly Kind

I feel so overwhelmed with emotions!  I don't know if it is the hormones that come from being very near my due date, or if it is lack of sleep, or if it is being on edge from my (hopefully) last semester of grad school, but everything makes me cry.  Everything.  And lately so many good and touching things have happened that I feel like losing it at any given second.

First of all, I want to thank each one of you who did a random act of kindness to honor my sister.  My heart feels so full when I think about how you guys were willing to take time out of your day and do that.

I recently read a story about a man who paid a bill for customers that were having a hard time at a diner he was in.  I have had that happen to me.  In fact, I have been the recipient of several RAKs that I would love to share with you here.  This one first.

My First Experience of a Random Act of Kindness

After my sister died, I was a little lost.  I hadn't realized until she was gone how much I depended on her.  She was my best friend and I hadn't even known it.  My family and I were all a little lost.  With Kristi gone, my closest sister became Emily.  It wasn't that I was trying to replace Kristi, or anything, but I saw the importance of establishing something with Emily.  Honestly, the older 3 kids never really got along with Emily.  She was treated like a baby, we thought, and always got out of things.  You know, typical annoying little sister.  She was younger and I just couldn't relate to her.

After Kristi died, I felt like Em and I should probably get to know each other.  I knew she was having a hard time and wanted her to know she could come to me.  I took her out to a pizza place for lunch.  It was so awkward.  We sat at the booth and just kind of stared at each other like, "now what?"  At one point we both got a little weepy because the awkwardness was magnified as we realized that Kristi would have known what to say.  We mostly ate in silence.

We ate our meal and when it was time to leave, our sweet server told us that our bill was on him.  He said that he tried to do a random act of kindness every day and today he was going to pay for our meal.  It had been a really hard time, but the sweet server (a man I will always remember) gave us more than just free food.  He gave Emily and I something to talk about on the way home.  He gave us a starting point.  That was worth so much more than anything I could have been given at that time.  I don't think he knows what a huge impact that gesture made on Em and me.

(It should be noted that Em and I are best friends now.  It may have happened without pizza, but it wouldn't have happened without a starting point--something positive to talk about.)

I have many more experiences that I will share with you.  Each one is so close to my heart I just don't want to lump them all together.  For now I just want to thank each and every one of you for the kindness you show others.  They appreciate it.  They remember it.  It changes them.  You are awesome.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Celebrating with Random Acts of Kindness

September 12, 2013 would have been my sister's 24th birthday.  Sadly, Kristi died very unexpectedly at the age of 15.  She was a wonderful and compassionate person and it makes me sad to think of all all of the good that the world is missing out on by her not being here.

Last year, I decided to celebrate her birthday by doing random acts of kindness. (You can read about it here and here.) I petitioned you good folks to help me meet my goal and you were so kind!  Because of your generosity I greatly exceeded my goal.  I was so touched by the kindness of others who were willing to help me celebrate what would otherwise have been a pretty depressing day for my family and me.  

This year, I am once again petitioning you for your help to reach my goal.  Please do a random act of kindness to celebrate my sister's birthday.  Once you have done that, please let me know by commenting here or emailing me.  Last year I compiled all of your wonderful random acts of kindness into a book.  I hope to continue to do this.  When I get sad or discouraged or when I just miss my sister it is so uplifting to be able to turn to the pages of your random acts.  It reaffirms to me that people are SO good.  It also shows me that Kristi can still be a force for good, even though she is not here.  

We have ALL month long to reach the goal, which is 365 random acts of kindness (I don't find it hard to believe that Kristi would have done 365 kind things this year, so I would like us to do it in her stead). 

For the rest of the month I will be performing random acts of kindness and posting about random acts of kindness.  I hope you will feel inspired to serve others this month with random acts of kindness and I hope you tell me all about it!

Thank you, guys!  I know that together we should have no problem meeting my goal of 365!

How many times do you guys think I used the phrase "random acts of kindness" in this post?

Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Sweeter Side of Sisterhood

My previous post might make it look like my kids always argue, but they don't.  

Being Thankful

Every night before we say prayers we talk as a family about what we are grateful for.

Me: Pops, what are you grateful for today?

P: Jesus and Santa Claus.

Me:  Good ones!  I'm thankful for them, too!

Chris: How about you, Juj?  What are you thankful for?

J: Spoons!

P: Good one, Juj!

Me:  ...Spoons?

J: Yeah.  Spoons and Popeye!

P: Thanks, Juj!

J: You're welcome, Pops!


I'm telling you, we had a rough time getting ready for bed the other night.  After an hour of reading books and cuddling and singing songs and cuddling and re-brushing our teeth, and getting drinks and going to the bathroom and singing more songs (you get it) I had had enough.  I left the girls in their room with Juj crying because she still did not want to go to bed.  After a minute or so the crying stopped and I sat outside their door and listened to them talk to each other.

P:  I'm sorry Mom is mean, Juj.  Want me to tell you a story?

J: (Sniffle) Yes.

P: Once upon a time there was a girl and she had sugar bugs on his teeth!  The bugs were big and they came alive and killed all of the roosters.  Really.  All of the roosters were dead.  Then monsters came but they were not like Sully and Mike.  They were bad sugar bug monsters and they killed everybody unless they just hided and everybody was all dead from the sugar bugs for the rest of their lives.  The end. (Pause) There.  Do you feel better, Juj?

J: Yes, Popeye.  Thank you.

And then they just went to sleep!  I had a difficult time sleeping because that was the most horrifying bedtime story I've ever heard.  I can't wait to thank my dentist for teaching the girls about sugar bugs.

(On a slightly related note, P woke up that night crying because she had a nightmare.  I asked her what happened in her nightmare.  She said that in her dream Juj used her bathroom and didn't wash her hands.  P wanted to wake up Juj and make her wash her hands.  At 2 a.m.  I talked her out of it and we said a prayer, instead.  Monsters don't scare her but the idea that there are people walking around without washing their hands after using the bathroom is absolutely frightening to her.  There is so much this kid gets from her dad, but every once in a while she does something like this and I think, "Wow, she does have some of me in her.  Poor kid.")

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

It is hard to be a sister.

I grew up with several sisters.  Now, my sisters are my favorite people, my closest friends, and some of my biggest cheerleaders.  It hasn't always been this way, though.  We used to fight a lot.  I often have a difficult time remembering those days because my sisters and I have been so close for the last....8ish years.  Occasionally, though, I watch my girls interact with one another and I laugh.  When I see them argue I can remember the days when fighting and bickering with my sisters was a regular occurance.  I hope that this fighting is something they look back on one day and laugh.  If they are lucky, they will grow to appreciate each other as much as I appreciate my sisters!

The Closet

I saw Popeye looming around the living room, behaving suspiciously.  Then I heard thumps and cries coming from the closet.  I was a little frustrated because I have talked to the girls 100 times about why we shouldn't lock people in the closet.  Juj was frantically begging to be freed.  The door doesn't open from the inside.

Me: Popeye, I told you not to lock your sister in the closet.

P: I know....but why?

Me: Because it is dark in there and is scares Juju!

P: Ugh.  Okay.  (Opens door) I release the Kraken!

Juj proceeded to run out of the closet and into my arms.  Through tears I could make out the words, "Popeye not choosing the right! She was not listening to me!"  It took a while to calm her down, but before long she and Pops were off playing again.

It wasn't more than an hour later when I heard the familiar pounding coming from the living room closet.  Popeye was standing guard outside the closet door, giving gentle reassurances to her sister.  "It's okay, Juj Bee!  See if it is fun in there!"

I was so angry!  Popeye saw me and seemed to read my mind.  She quickly said, "Mom, I'm not in trouble because I gave her a flashlight this time!  It isn't dark in there anymore!"

Well, she had tried to implement a change.  How could I be mad?  I still insisted that we free Juj from the closet.  Popeye opened the door reluctantly.  Juj came flying out....with a nightlight in her hand.  Once again she ran into my arms, traumatized.  Once again she communicated through tears and sobs, "Mom, Popeye is bothering me!  Make her go away from me!"

The Disagreement

The girls always find a way to pass the time when they are stuck in the van on our way to and from errands.  Generally, they read, sing, or sleep.  Oftentimes, though, Juj likes to stir the pot and start arguments. 

P:  Hey Juj, what do you think we should name our new baby?  (Frequent topic of discussion)

J: Yellow.

P: Yellow!?  No!  That's a terrible name!  I think we should name the baby Baby Caroline.

J: (Smile) Yellow.

P: No!  Don't say "Yellow" to me!  We have to name our sister Caroline.

J: (Calmly, with a smile) How 'bout Blue?

P: (Uncontrollably furious) NO!  NO!  Why do you say that, Juj!?  We can't name our baby that!  It isn't our baby's fault that it is just a tiny little baby that can't talk and it going to explode out of Mom's belly!  We can't name her a bad name!  She has to be Caroline! 

Juj had no reply and Peyton seemed content that she had made her point.  She calmed down.  We rode in silence for a short time.  Then Juj looked at Popeye.  Juj knew that she had the duties of a little sister and she knew she could not neglect those duties.  

With a smile on her face, Juj broke the silence and said, "Yellow!"

Another Squabble

P: Juj, it is almost my birthday!

J: It's my birthday, too!

P: No, Juj.  You had a birthday Saturday.  It is my turn to have a birthday.

J: Me, too!

P: (Crying) But Juj!  It isn't fair!

J:  Don't say "fair" to me!

P:  FINE, Juj!  You can't marry me!  And you are not my sister anymore.  Ever!  And you can't play with my toys!  And no more games!  No more spinning in circles!  No more tickling!  No more exercising!  No more cuddling with my Sully!  No more reading stories or sharing my treats or helping you!  AND I'M GIVING ALL YOUR STUFF TO THE D.I.!