Everyday Life, Parenting

Dear Third Child

Dear Beloved Baby,

You are the third child to grace our family. You are our second daughter. You aren’t out of the womb yet, but I have this feeling I should start making apologies to you already. I mean, your nursery will never be featured on Pinterest. Your first years will be very different from those of your sister, our oldest child. There will be so much more noise, so many more hard knocks (from children who love you, they really do), so much less holding. I’m preparing myself for that, but there’s no way to prepare you. I can only pray you’ll be a happy baby (or that you’ll loooove the Baby Bjorn). Things will be different for you, but as I think this through, I’m realizing there are lots of perks to being a third child.

You will get to watch TV at a much earlier age than your sister. Probably like two years earlier.

You already have a monogrammed baby blanket and towel waiting for you. With your sister’s name on it, but still. Monogrammed!

There are already hand painted masterpieces on your wall. My personal favorite is a Melissa and Doug paint-with-water painting of an ice skater. It is inspired. It’s right next to the light switch that is pre-smudged for you with Easter chocolate candy.

We will never put your infant rolls and kinks into Baby Gap jeans, or any other kind of jeans. You will wear comfy, cottony clothes until you’re old enough to need something tougher to protect your chubby little knees. You’re welcome.

Your toys are pre-approved. We already know which ones babies really like, so you don’t have to worry about having six different kinds of rattles shoved into your face in an hour. We know you will like the caterpillar with the crinkly wings because two babies have already loved that toy. (We also know the only thing you really want is keys. Sorry. Maybe some metal measuring spoons will do?)

You won’t have to worry about us turning on the light every time we feed you or change your diaper in the middle of the night. We are expert parents in the dark, which is not an accomplishment to sneeze at.

We do not own a copy of Goodnight Moon. We’re more partial to Big Red Barn. You can thank me later. (Note: I don’t really hate that book, it’s a great book. I just hate reading it more than once a week. Maybe it’s the mush?)

third childYou will be so much better entertained than your older siblings. Would you prefer me telling you about the steps I take when I do laundry, or your brother and sister galloping around you on horses/brooms named Maximus and Daisy? That’s what I thought. Even given the occasional accidental knock you’ll probably get from the horses, it will be a fun world to live in, I guarantee it.

We will never call you an accident. When that guy in the supermarket who thinks he’s so funny looks at my shopping cart that’s more full of children than food, he’s going to say, “Ma’am, you do know how this happens, right?” He’s a hoot. But I’m not playing along. I will be the killjoy who’ll respond, “Yes, we’ve hoped and prayed hard for all our babies.” Not because I want to ruin his fun (okay, I kind of do), but because I want you to know, beyond a doubt, that you were longed for just as much as any other child in our family. We had a girl, we had a boy, and we still wanted a you. And you will have the privilege of allowing us to verbalize how treasured children are in our family. I hope you’ll feel honored and loved. I’ll try to stop embarrassing you by age 12.

So dear baby, your pre-washed clothes are washed once again, folded in your closet and waiting. Your bassinet mattress is currently under the rocking horse, in hopes that it will flatten out enough to be used again. Your hoards of baby shoes are lined up on a shelf for those three Sundays you’ll fit into them and I’ll feel human enough to take you to church. Your walls will be washed free of crayon marks and chocolate in the next day or so, I promise. We are anxious to meet you, our greatly desired third child. And there are four of us instead of just two of us who can’t wait to hold you in our arms. We hope you like your world.

Love,

Mommy

Reading, Reviews

What I Read at The Beach

Surprisingly, I got a lot of reading done on our beach vacation last week. I brought a stack that I knew for sure I wouldn’t get through, but we’re in a magical, very short phase of having children who play together fairly independently, especially with a beach to entertain them. So I actually sat in a chair a read a book. It felt like a miracle.

Our Mutual FriendFirst, I finished the last two hundred pages of Our Mutual Friend. I’d been working on this one for three weeks. I don’t know why I tell myself I’ve read all of Dickens, because that is just a joke. As I was looking through the shelves at the library a few weeks ago, my eyes went to the row of Dickens books and I thought, “It is time for some more Dickens.” I picked up Our Mutual Friend because the plot seemed pretty intriguing.  

“In the opening chapters a body is found in the Thames and identified as that of John Harmon, a young man recently returned to London to receive his inheritance. Were he alive, his father’s will would require him to marry Bella Wilfer, a beautiful, mercenary girl whom he had never met. Instead, the money passes to the working-class Boffins, and the effects spread into various corners of London society.” (wikipedia).

This is the last book published by Dickens, and it’s very intricate and polished. As always with Dickens, the characters were the best part of the book. I especially loved the Boffins and the main character, John Harmon. The father-daughter relationships alone could (and probably already) have inspired pages and pages of literary papers. If you’re a fan of Dickens and have already read his more popular works, I definitely recommend Our Mutual Friend.

The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax  (Mrs. Pollifax #1)Then I moved on to the 1960s crime novel The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax by Dorothy Gillman. This retro spy novel is not a murder mystery, but a story of a middle-aged woman who finds herself in the place of a secret agent with no training. Mrs. Pollifax’s natural charm and human kindness, along with the sharpness she didn’t even know she possessed, makes her one of the most enjoyable heroines I’ve come across lately. And joy of joys, it’s only the first book in the series! Fans of books such as Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day or any good old-fashioned crime novel will love Mrs. Pollifax.

When We Were StrangersAnd I almost finished with When We Were Strangers by Pamela Schoenewaldt. It’s an immigrant story of a young Italian girl trying to make her way alone in American cities like Cleveland and Chicago. I like history, but I have a hard time finding a good historical novel that doesn’t have  “more of the same” feel. Really, it’s the characters who make books for me. So far, the characters leave some originality to be desired. One day I’ll have to write a post about immigrant novels with likable characters. Still, I find the melting pot history of our country fascinating. I’ll let you know more about this immigrant tale when I finish it.

On the nonfiction front, I read A.W. Tozer’s The Pursuit of God. Though published in the 1940s, I found it to be very relevant for Christians today.

There’s also this book I pored over: 1630229

 

It got me nowhere. I over think names way, way too much.

Children's Books

At The Beach Library

photo (13)Last week we spent seven days at a gorgeous North Carolina beach. We had great weather for most of the week. Then Thursday came. My kids (and I) are so gung-ho for the beach, we splashed in the waves for a good hour in the morning, but the rain and chilly weather kept us indoors for the rest of the day. My usually cable deprived children discovered a deep love for Looney Tunes, but by lunch time we were all stir crazy. But because we prefer remote, quiet beaches, we were at least an hour away from the closest indoor playground or museum. So where did we go? The local library, of course! We spent two hours reading books and playing with the toys in one of the best children’s rooms I’ve seen in a library. Who would have thought it of a tiny beach library in an old brick house? Here are some fun books we discovered:

A Bad Case of StripesA Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon featured bright, imaginative illustrations and a story about a girl who develops a rare condition all because she won’t admit she really loves lima beans. It’s quirky and fun and has a pretty deep meaning. This one is for children ages five and up. There are some words that throw younger children off track of the plot, such as “specialists.” If you have a little one starting school or some other new adventure and he or she is feeling the pressure to conform and fit in, this is a great book to open up conversations on identity. I liked it, though I couldn’t stop being reminded of Amy Bender’s work, which makes me depressed. But this book will not depress you or your children.

I’m Dirty560016 by Kate McMullan and Jim McMullan is just one in a great series of books about trucks that my little boy loves. In I’m Dirty, a backhoe loader narrates in first person a day of work as he cleans up and flattens a dirty lot. He is very enthusiastic about his job. My children’s favorite book in this series is I’m Mighty, a fun book about a tug boat.

And did you know that the first book about Curious George is not a Curious George book? H. A. Rey Cecily G. and the 9 Monkeysfirst introduced that now famous little monkey to the world in a book about a giraffe named Cecily G. In Cecily G. and the Nine Monkeys, a homeless giraffe is befriended by a family of monkeys, and antics ensue. Some of their antics are a little too much for me, but it is a fun book and interesting to see the beginnings of our beloved George. Actually, I’m not sure that my kids love George–sometimes I get the feeling they’re kind of annoyed by his constant troubles–but I love him. =)

Also, this particular library had two copies of Ruth Sawyer’s Roller Skates. Why does my library not have even one copy? That is one of my favorite books ever. I should do the smart thing and just buy it. When the kids stopped asking me to read books and played with the cars and trucks on the car mat, I read that. Even Mr. Mia found something to read, a fascinating book about the history of the atomic bomb. Children’s history books are really the best.

Now we’re back to our normal lives, gearing up for a great summer and a new baby. Look for my summer reading list post in a few days!

Reading

Beach Stack

My beach to be read list is a little ambitious. We’ll see what my preschoolers have to say about it.

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Everyday Life

And Then I Got Fired: May I Tell The Truth Post 2

Well. I may have given up on dust bunnies, but apparently I am falling down on the job in other areas of housekeeping, as well. Because on Saturday, I was fired from cleaning the bathrooms.

I threw a party.

No, not really, but now I’m wondering why I didn’t? Instead, when my husband questioned me on my bathroom cleaning practices, I felt a little hurt. You see, I had just taken our hall closet from really terrible to a little better:

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And I was staying on top of the dishes, and I had made a meal plan and a shopping list for the coming week.  I was feeling pretty good about my mad house keeping skills. Almost like that post about the dust bunnies painted me in a dishonest light. But no, the lighting was very accurate!

I loathe cleaning the bathrooms, and I do not do a good job with all the detail work. Like mopping behind the toilet. (Is this too much information?) So when my husband took a Saturday morning to take up all the old caulk in our two small bathrooms and put in new caulk, he reported to me on my return from the grocery store (meal plan!) that he had spent half of the time just cleaning his work area. “There was this thick, dusty grime all over the place!” Yes, I can believe that. He was frustrated that his project had taken so long due to the “prep work”, but my very kind husband offered to schedule a Saturday into each month to help me  deep clean the bathroom.

And here’s where I turned him down because my feelings were hurt. I am a dope.

And I’m also a tad hypocritical. Because I’m willing to share my housekeeping flaws on the blog and be all “May I be honest?” for the month of May, but am I willing to accept the criticism that matters from the people who actually live here? I need to work on that some more. I want to share honestly with you all, to encourage you that no one is perfect and we all have our struggles in the small things like keeping our houses in order. But I also want to improve.

So my “May I be honest?” thought of the week is this: How is my honesty benefiting my family? If I honestly say I am not so good at something, I need to be willing to both accept my weakness and improve it. How about you?

Oh, and if your husband offers to take over the job that you’re not so good at, do not be offended like me–take him up on his offer! And then run to the grocery store as fast as you can before he can change his mind. =)

Children's Books, Parenting, Reading

Books to Spark Imaginative Play

It’s time to pull out the books that make your kids gush with ideas of what to do this summer! I historically have no trouble thinking of summer activities because summer and I are the best of friends. But this year I’ll be pregnant through July, most likely, it gets really, really hot here, and my children are not taking naps much anymore. The days might seem a little longer come July and a new baby. Here are the books we like for sparking imagination. A note: these books are mostly for kids ages 3-6. If you have ideas for older kids, please share! One Busy Day: A Story for Big Brothers and Sisters

One Busy Day by Lola M. Schaefer is my favorite find of the month. The illustrations by Jessica Meserve are beautiful and illuminate for the readers what the children were doing in real life and what they were imagining they were doing at the same time. Big brother Spencer starts out disinterested in the activities of Mia, his younger sister. Mia wants him to play with her, but she gives up after a while. When Mia decides to have fun by herself, Spencer becomes enthralled with her imaginative play. By the end of the book, they are side-by-side fighting dragons and saving their castle. Oh, I love it! My two-year-old son and four-year-old daughter enjoy this book, too. =) 13494876

The very popular Ladybug Girl series is also great for showing children how much fun can be had with a little bit of creativity. In the first book of the series, Ladybug Girl, Lulu’s family is too busy to play with her and she has to find some things to do by herself. My children’s favorite is Ladybug Girl and Bumblebee Boy. I appreciate how it shows two children working out their differences in what they like to do for fun. By the end, Lulu and her friend, Sam, are having so much fun, other children ask if they can play along. Apparently, I am a fan of books where children make their own fun and bring other children into the realm of imagination, too. 399891

There have been days when Ella uses A Fire Engine for Ruthie as a to-do list. Ruthie is a little girl who has a penchant for trucks. Her Nana has other ideas of what would be fun. Ruthie turns dress up into a rescue operation, paints fire trucks instead of flowers, and so on. Finally, Nana comes around to Ruthie’s way of thinking. It’s a fun book for any girl, tomboy or not (and my little girl is decidedly not a tomboy), and an especially good book for girls with brothers who need ideas on how to mesh their play styles together.

Speaking of play styles, my husband and I generally agree that TV and movies dumb down our children’s ability to entertain themselves. The more they watch, the less they can think of anything to do when the TV is turned off. However, I’ve got to say that one viewing of Disney’s Tangled provides at least a week of imaginative play for both our children…together! Especially if we turn on the soundtrack. Somehow, Tangled is the perfect mix of a princess movie with guy things like a a cool horse named Maximus and a daring hero that plays more than a fleeting part in the story. It’s our movie of choice for those days when we just need some down time. We just went to the library this morning and loaded up on more books. I’m hoping those will be inspiring to my children, too. If you have any ideas of other books that bring out the best in your children’s creativity, let me know!

Need more ideas for children’s books? Check out the 31 Days Series for lots of great read-aloud books for kids!

Everyday Life, Parenting

Dust Bunnies Are Cute

Confession: I don’t really struggle with the dreaded dust bunny problem. I keep hearing about how they multiply and bring friends and they just won’t go away. Apparently, they are a real nuisance for some people.

I am not one of those people.

I look at my furniture and think, yeah, you’re probably under there, having a party, but I don’t really care. Dear Dust Bunnies, you are the least of my concerns.

Maybe I’m the worst housekeeper in the world, but let me be honest for a few minutes. I don’t have time to worry about sweeping out dust from where no one sees it, because I can’t walk across the kitchen floor without losing a flip flop on that sticky spot I keep meaning to mop. I think it might be spilled cereal milk from yesterday morning, but it could also be residue from the smoothie my son knocked over. Four days ago. (On an aside, residue is such a pleasant word when what you’re talking about can be anywhere from tree sap to bacon grease. It’s almost like a housekeeping euphemism).

I don’t have time to worry about sweeping up hidden dust– I’m too busy saying, “I don’t know why you don’t have any clean socks, Mr. Mia, but it’s probably because I spent a large chunk of time today scrubbing the kids’ bathroom, trying to figure out what in the world that smell is.”

Yes, the dust bunnies are probably under there, but I somehow accumulated four house plants in the space of three weeks, bringing our grand total of house plants to…four. So you see, I’m kind of busy watering house plants. Maybe that’s why my house plants always die! The dust bunnies feed on them in the middle of the night!

MayItellthetruthI’m not saying one shouldn’t dust her home. I’m just surprised at the number of people who have energy to worry about that sort of endeavor. If your only problem in your housekeeping is dust bunnies, you are one of my homekeeping heroes. I’m envious of your 95% clean home. I hope to be you one day, but not as long as I have a potty training two-year-old, a four-year-old with mad art skills, and a stomach the size of a basketball.

But if, just if, you’re talking about dust bunnies but really you’re thinking about the mold that might be growing at the bottom of your laundry pile, then let’s leave the cute lint animals under the couch and admit that we have a lot of other concerns growing way faster than fluffy imaginary pests. Such as the fact that allergy-ridden toddlers often feel free to use the couch as a snot rag. Now that is a problem.

And it’s okay to be honest about it. In fact, it would make me and probably one or 4,000 other moms out there feel a lot better about their own homekeeping struggles. May I suggest that you make May your May I Tell The Truth? month. I’ll be joining you here, in this space where you’ll often hear about books but just as often hear about the learning curve that never ends on the parenting journey. It’s going to be a blast. Honestly.