Category Archives: She says…

She Says… The Next Chapter

photo 3

Let’s talk about chapter books, shall we?

Chapter books are a milestone I didn’t think we would be ready for until, oh, I don’t know, age 6 or so. I’m not sure why I had that arbitrary number in my head, but I assumed that my needs-to-move, kinesthetic learner (aka wild child who can’t possibly sit still for more than 5 seconds at a time) wouldn’t want to sit still for long enough to listen to pages of books without many/any pictures. I doubted he’d be very engaged. He loves to be read to, and to look through books, so I’m not sure why I wrote them off, but I just thought we weren’t quite there yet.

So I had been saving the “books with too many words” up on a high shelf in his closet as they have been gifted to us or accumulated along the way. But a few days ago, Owen asked me to pull them down so he could see them. He carefully examined the covers and then handed me “The Secret Garden” and begged me to read it.

As usual, he surprises me again.

Ok, so this one isn’t technically a chapter book, but it’s much, much longer than any book I’ve ever read to Owen. This story is very special to me, and I’ve been saving this particular copy since I was a little girl. I loved this story and read it over and over and over again as a child. Then, when I was a musical theater-obsessed sophomore in high school, I got the coveted part of Mary Lennox in the musical the boys’ school across the street from my school was putting on. It was a dream come true. It was my first lead role in a musical, and the start of what I thought would someday become my road to being a Broadway star (spoiler alert! I never made it there).

So I started reading to Owen and immediately realized it uses words I tend to shy away from (name calling like “horrible witch!” and words like “hate”) and topics like death and chronic illness. But, as these are all parts of life that he’ll come into contact with eventually, I resisted the urge to edit the words or omit certain sentences. We’re all growing up a little bit, eh?

He was hanging on my every word. He asked very astute questions like, “What’s a moor?” and then, when I told him, he asked follow-up questions like, “I wonder what animals live on a moor? Birds? Maybe… mice? Or voles?”. Once in a while I stopped and clarified part of the story or asked him things like, “Who do you think is crying?” to see if he was really following along (because it’s not always so clear — the sentence structure is different than most of his books and the references are vague and there are lots of names). He was right there with me every time.

When we were about halfway through, it was past his bedtime and I told him we could stop and read the rest the next night. He bargained for more pages (either really into the book or just stalling bedtime… you decide…) and we settled on 2 more pages, then I showed him how to fold down the corner of the page so we could start there the next morning. The next morning he came into my room with the book in hand and asked me to finish it. And finish it we did, before his normal milk or tv show. Unprecedented.

That night at bedtime we started “The House at Pooh Corner”. It was one we had been gifted a year or so ago, and it had been relegated to the top shelf because it was so dense. I figured it had to be appropriate for kids (duh, it’s Winnie the Pooh), and it is, but what I didn’t realize was that the writing is terribly confusing, especially to read aloud. As an adult I see how clever it is and find so much humor in the writing, but a three year old, even an astute 3 year old, doesn’t necessarily pick up on those things. So we’re halfway through at the moment, and Owen loves it, but I’m thinking there have to be better 1st chapter books out there somewhere.

I’m not sure we’re ready for Harry Potter yet (though perhaps not far off!). So what are the best chapter books for little ones? I would love a series, since Owen loves to get multiple books out of the library in a series (we love anything Pinkalicious and Toot and Puddle). Owen’s teacher recommended “The Magic Treehouse” series, so that’s on the list, even though I’ve never heard of them.

Suggestions?

She Says… It’s Aliiiiiiiive

Caterpillars. Butterflies. Chrysalises.

Of course I “knew” how it worked. But I never really knew how it worked until I saw it happen right in my kitchen. And now that I’ve seen it happen I am completely awe-struck by the entire process. So is my preschooler. And my husband. And the many friends who came through our kitchen during the 4+ week transformation.

 

butterflies6

Let me start at the beginning. For Christmas my sister got Owen a book about the butterfly life cycle along with a pop-up tent for “growing butterflies”. We chatted about it at the time and decided to put it away until spring/summer time, since the idea is that you “grow” the butterflies from caterpillars and then let them go, but they only survive when it’s above 60 degrees. When you’re ready to start the process, you order a canister of live caterpillars from a website.

butterflies1

It’s a little weird. I know. They come in the mail all enclosed in it with all of the food that they need, so all you do is leave them still on your counter after getting them acclimated to your temperature.

And then, they grow. They eat and grow and crawl around. And slowly but surely they eat away at the brown goop inside the container and become chubby little caterpillars.

butterflies7

And then they attach themselves to a piece of paper on the top of the canister and the chrysalises grow around them. This part is the beginning of the amazingness.

butterflies8

You transfer the paper with the chrysalises to the little butterfly tent, and then you wait.

Well, at least that’s what the directions said would happen.

But when I transferred my paper from the plastic container to the butterfly tent, one of the chrysalides STARTED FLAPPING AND SHAKING. I nearly threw the entire paper across the room. I may or may not have shrieked. Which is really quite stupid because, duh, they are just caterpillars, and I am not generally a squeamish person, but something about this flapping mummified insect (that I expected to be in a hibernation-type sleep) kind of threw me for a loop.

As it turned out, that one was the first one to “hatch”, so I’m guessing it was just further along in the process and maybe had some nervous system response to being moved? Not sure about why that happened, but it sure did scare the bejesus out of me.

butterflies10

Eventually we got them transferred safely (not quite sure how), but then we waited. And about a week later they started hatching. Err, emerging. We had 5 caterpillar/butterflies and we didn’t manage to catch ANY of them in the process of actively emerging — unfortunately they all did it overnight or when we were out. But, lo and behold, by the end we had 5 beautiful butterflies.

There was something so exciting and lovely about coming home and checking on them and seeing Yes! A new butterfly emerged! A little butterfly baby WAS BORN!

butterflies14

(Note to those who may ever do this: That red stuff, in the picture above? Yeah. It’s meconium. It drips out when the butterflies emerge from the coccoons, and it looks like blood, which can be disconcerting and a little scary. And gross. But, you know, sometimes the gross things are also the most fascinatingly beautiful.)

So then we fed them, by putting flower petals inside the tent and sprinkling sugar water on top. Owen loved this part.

butterflies4

Finally we had kept them long enough, and we decided we were ready to let them live free, in the wild (the suburbs of Boston are “wild” enough!).

butterflies11

So we Owen named them (Ellie, Tennis Ball, Emmett, Whistle, Pretty Baby), appreciated them one, last time as they hopped obediently onto his finger, and then let them fly away, fly away, fly away home.

butterflies12

Owen absolutely loved setting them free. I am still overwhelmingly amazed and in awe of the fact that those teeny tiny caterpillars grew right before our eyes and emerged from their hard little cocoons as beautiful butterflies.

butterflies15
Mother Nature certainly knows what she’s doing, eh?

 

butterflies13

If you want in on the butterfly-growing, the kit we used is this one.

(We’re not being paid to say anything about this product, we just received it as a gift from my sister for Christmas and loved using it. That link above is my Amazon affiliate link, so I’ll get a few cents if you order directly from there).

She Says… Mother’s Day, Times Two

Even though my Mother’s Day started and ended with cleaning up puke with my bare hands, I daresay it was one of the loveliest, sweetest, most special days for me and my little family. If you had asked the pre-kids me if that was even possible, I would have said, “NO WAY”.

But it is.

MomsDay2014-1

First things first, I have these two beautiful baby faces to gaze into all day. And Benjamin’s cute face, of course. And Schnitzel’s cute, furry dog face. It doesn’t get much better than that.

I adore these three (and the dog!) so hard that sometimes it seems that nothing else in the world matters.

MomsDay2014-2

I remember on my first Mother’s Day (with a kid outside of my belly) that I write about how having a baby had changed me. It transformed me. It made me a better “me”. More understanding, more thoughtful, more gentle, more patient, more present, more organized. After that, I kind of thought the transformation was complete. The shift from pre-kids “me” to post-kids “me” was made.

MomsDay2014-3

But now, on my first Mother’s Day with two sweet babies outside of my belly, I can honestly say I have grown into myself in a way I didn’t expect, even three short years ago.

Motherhood has seeped into every nook and cranny of my heart and blown up like a balloon until I thought I might explode from the power of it. I have felt the unmistakable bliss of true, unconditional love. Twice. I have felt the overwhelming (yet futile) motherly urge to protect my boys from unavoidable sadness and the familiar pain of unkind words. I have felt the turn of the sharp knife of guilt in my belly, making me doubt the tough decisions that I have made as a parent. I have felt the impenetrable bubble of my family’s laughter while sitting around our dining room table, laughing until we’ve forgotten which private jokes we were even laughing about in the first place. I have spoken words in what feels like a secret language with my boys, knowing that they know what I mean to say even when I can’t find the words to say it out loud. I have felt the firmness of their little heads under my chin as I cuddle and rock and sway and hold, long after they thought they needed me to. I have locked eyes with my partner, my husband, above the boys’ heads, acknowledging the perfection that we have created and how lucky we are to be able to bask in it every day.

MomsDay2014-4

Motherhood has continued to change me every day since that very first Mother’s Day.

MomsDay2014-6

It has given me the confidence to trust my instincts. To listen to my heart. To NOT listen to those who are not worth listening to. To know that I’m raising my boys to be kind and generous and to give really good hugs. To know that I’m trying my hardest to support them and help them grow while respecting their individuality.

Being a mother has made me grow into the person I always wanted to be, even when I didn’t even know it yet.

MomsDay2014-5

The journey is far from over. And maybe Mother’s Day will be my personal, yearly marker to take stock of how far we’ve come, as a family. How far I’ve come, as a mother. And to look ahead, to the future. To all of the changes yet to come. To all of the joys my family has yet to experience. To the sadness and the pain that we wish we could be spared, but alas, we cannot. It’s all ahead of us. And we’ll move forward as a unit, my three boys and I. And I know that we will continue to change. To grow. To be better.

Every year, I hope to be more “me” than the year before. And I hope the same for my boys.

She Says… The “F” Word (No, Not That One)

Fertility.

Sometimes I feel like having two beautiful, healthy children completely invalidates me ever talking about fertility problems again. Like I’m no longer a member of the group of people I once clung to when I was in the thick of the “trying to get pregnant” stage of my life, and again during the long, drawn-out miscarriage between my boys.

I am one of the lucky ones. But I didn’t know that was going to be the case when I was going through countless doctor’s appointments and rounds of testing and learning about things like hormone imbalances and polycystic ovaries and talking about treatment plans to do something inside my body that everyone else seemed to be able to do even when they didn’t want to. I never called myself “infertile” or claimed to be the spokeswoman for every woman going through fertility issues — I just told my story. Day by day. As it happened to me. And through sharing that journey I found websites and built relationships and connected with other people going through similar things. And it was exactly what I needed at that time to keep my head up and to keep moving forward in my own way.

Since then I receive emails regularly from women (and sometimes men) going through their own fertility story. Usually they are at the beginning of their journey, and they have questions for me about Clomid or when I decided to see a doctor or how I stayed positive when seeing negative test after negative test threatened to pull me down into an emotional spiral. Sometimes they are in the middle of their journey, and need support to keep going. Sometimes they are newly pregnant and are having trouble transitioning from the “struggling to get pregnant” crowd to the “I’m pregnant with twins and I didn’t even have to try!” crowd. Sometimes it’s people who have struggled for a long time and are thinking about options beyond pregnancy, and they just want a listening ear from someone who has faced some of those questions, even on a much smaller scale.

I respond to every one.

These emails remind me that even though I’ve “graduated”, struggling with fertility is still a very important part of my own story.

For those who are still in the struggling part of your story, I encourage you to find the resources that can act as your “village”. And try to think of stories like mine as images of hope, and not as a slap in the face. We’re all just taking it day by day. And though these days my Instagram feed is full of brotherly antics and chubby baby cheeks, it wasn’t so long ago that I was on the outside looking in.

Below are some resources from people who have reached out to me over the last few months that I thought I would share with you. I cannot vouch for the products and do not have any connection with the sites, and I know that there are thousands upon thousands of wonderful fertility resources out there. You just have to find the ones that speak to where you are in your journey.

Philadelphia Fertility Project Survey

The purpose of this survey is to learn about the social, mental, and emotional experiences of women with fertility problems. It will take about 10 minutes to complete. Your participation is completely anonymous. Women who are between the ages of 18-45, not currently pregnant, and have difficulty conceiving naturally through unprotected intercourse and/or carrying a pregnancy to term are invited to participate in this study.

In appreciation of your participation, two $100 donations have been made to the American Fertility Association and Resolve: The National Infertility Association by the research team to thank you for sharing your experiences and to benefit others who struggle with fertility problems. If you have any questions about this study, you may contact the Principal Investigator, Dr. Pamela Geller, Ph.D., or the research coordinator, Mona Elgohail, at 215-553-7121

Click on this anonymous survey link to participate:

http://tinyurl.com/PhillyFertility

 

Ferring Pharmaceuticals Heart to Heart Video Contest

The 6.1 million Americans facing infertility and their loved ones know the emotional toll associated with the diagnosis and the impact it can have on your life. A study of couples dealing with infertility found that half of the women and 15 percent of the men noted infertility as the most upsetting experience they’ve ever faced.

Last week, Ferring Pharmaceuticals announced the launch of its 2014 Heart to Heart Video Contest, which provides a look into some of the personal stories of families dealing with infertility and their journey to parenthood.

Details of this year’s Heart to Heart Contest can be found at  www.hearttoheartcontest.com. Highlights include:

  • Video: Contestants submit a creative video that captures their journey to parenthood and encourages others to ‘have heart’ through the difficult experience of infertility.
  • Theme: Have Heart, Share Hope
  • Timing: Now through August 31, 2014
  • Prize: Grand prize winner receives $10,000 and four runners up receive $4,000 toward their child’s education.
  • Website: Submissions will be collected through www.hearttoheartcontest.com.

For more information, or to view last year’s winning video and runners-up, visit www.hearttoheartcontest.com.

Key to Conceive

My name is Lindsey Elling-Thompson and I am the mother of a 4-year-old daughter and 1-year-old son. It was over 6 years ago when my husband I started our journey in trying to conceive and it was a long, emotional, difficult and overwhelmingly blessed journey. I have a heart for other women who are on their own TTC journeys because I understand the emotional, mental and physical toll not being able to get pregnant takes on a woman and her partner.

I am writing to tell you about a new product because I believe in the product’s claims and what the company stands for…offering hope and helping couples get pregnant. The company is not just about selling a product, it’s also about providing new and helpful information on the infertility front, which is why the keytoconceive.com website contains videos, articles and other helpful information. I believe this information will be helpful for your blog’s audience and maybe for yourself.

I encourage you to check out the website (http://www.keytoconceive.com/).

She Says… Nine Months

Emmett Blemmett (Owen’s favorite nickname, which sometimes turns into “Emmett Blemmett Kemmett Chemicals”). Chubby Wubby (the nickname that comes out of my mouth most often). Bonky Bonks (your earliest nickname, still hanging on, due to how often you use your head as your third arm and bonk your face on things). Mr. Delicious (your nickname at school that is more perfect for you than I could have ever imagined). Emmett-y.

Emmett9Months-3

Nine months in and nine months out.

Well, as any parent will tell you, it’s actually more like ten months in. And anyone who had to work hard to get pregnant or stay pregnant will tell you it’s actually a whole lot longer than that. But it’s pretty amazing to think that nine months ago you were 7lbs and 14oz of wriggling, snuggling, suckling newborn deliciousness. And 9 months before that, you were but a tiny bunch of cells beginning to join together and multiply. And now, here you are, crawling as fast as your big brother can run, pulling up on tables and couches and anything your little hands can grab and babbling and squealing and waving and blowing raspberries all day long.

You are so full of joy. You are OUR joy. I’ve never met a kid as happy and content as you are. Sure, you have your cranky moments, like when you are tired or put in the car without getting a bottle first. But the rest of the time? The rest of the time you are happy to be wherever, as long as we’re nearby. You’re happy to play with whatever, as long as you can put it in your mouth and teethe on it. You’re happy to eat whatever, as long as you can giggle with your brother from your high chair while you do it. You’re happy to be with whoever, but you’re beginning to have a strong preference for Daddy, me and your favorite teachers at school (you’ve developed an adorable sense of stranger danger around others!).

You impress us every day by eating everything, from soft, mushy bits to hard, crunchy chunks to pieces of food as big as your hand… all with no teeth! Almost 10 months old today and still no teeth. You certainly haven’t let it cramp your style, though. You chow down on everything you’re given (current faves: broccoli, green beans, grilled chicken, veggie or bean burgers, tofu, Cheerios, toast with hummus, rice cakes with peanut butter), but you love MEAT the most. I’ll fill your tray with fruits, vegetables, meat, whatever and you will pick every single teeny tiny piece of meat off that tray first. Thankfully you eat just about everything and reliably knock back every bottle. Your cheeks don’t lie; you love to nosh. I don’t have a CLUE where you got that (hint hint!).

Emmett9Months-2

You crawl, your cute little diaper butt swaying, to follow your brother wherever he is, all day long. I am happy to say he adores you just as much as you adore him. Your face erupts in a grin as soon as he is in your view.

Your little giggle (either one, loud “HA!”, which makes us all hysterical, or a running, “Heh heh heh heh”, like a slow clap that gets everyone around you doing it too) is infectious. You are so roly poly and adorable everyone who meets you wants to hold you and squeeze you. You’re so perfectly squeezable. I know that walking is on the horizon for you (though I’m wondering if you’ll hold off on that milestone for a few more months since you are such a superfast crawler), but I have to admit, I’m holding tight to the stage that you are in now. You are just… baby perfection.

Every night after our busy day and slightly rushed dinner time and hilarious bathtime with your brother, I relish bedtime with you. I zip you up into your fleece “bag” (wearable blanket); we call you our cozy little caterpillar when you wear it. Daddy makes you a bottle and Owen comes in, half-pajamaed and talking a million miles a minute and kisses you on the head before whirlwinding out of the room. And then they are gone. And it’s just you, me and the sound machine. And we rock and you drink and I sing and I breathe you in. You gaze at me and pull my hair and squeeze my arms and hands with your chubby little fingers. You giggle when I say “Night night book?” and lunge for the book pile. We read, you babble along with me and you try to eat the book. Then you rest your head on my shoulder for a split second, and then crane your body backwards for your crib. Ready for bed. I don’t think I’ll every forget your sweet little round face shining in the dim light, grabbing your lovey and cuddling it to your face while your twinkly eyes gleam and smile at me as if you say, “Goodnight Mommy! Love you! Now get out and let me sleep!”.

You are flexible, content and easily amused. I cannot wait to continue to get to know you as you grow. To see what type of toddler you’ll be and what type of preschooler and if these words still seem so “you” in high school and beyond. One thing is for sure, now and forever: You are loved. You are loved so hard in this family and nothing will ever change that. You make me want to have a million more babies, if they are all as sweet and wonderful as you. Or no more babies at all, because how could I ever love another as much as I love you?

Emmett9Months-1

You have stretched Daddy’s and my hearts bigger than we ever thought possible. Nine months ago, and nine months before that, and forever onwards from here.

Love,
Mommy

 

She Says… Blabbing with my Boy

Owen and I had several conversations this weekend that made me chuckle. I wish I could follow him around with a little tape recorder, as I can never remember all of the sweet, honest, hilarious, wise things that come out of his mouth. It’s amazing to me how our conversations these days are, like, real conversations. We can just… shoot the shit once in a while.

Owen: When I am 25 1/2, how old will Emmett be? (We’ve had this conversation about a bazillion times in the last few days… either his brain is working on understanding the math behind how he will always be three years older than Emmett, or he’s learned that asking me this question over and over is a hilarious way to make me go insane)
Me: When you are 25 1/2, Emmett will be 22 1/2.
Owen: What will I be doing when I’m 25 1/2? (A nice diversion from the usual exchange of asking the same question with different numbers for 10 minutes)
Me: I don’t know, exactly. You’ll probably be out of college. Maybe you’ll be in another school, like medical school or business school, or maybe you’ll have a job. And maybe a family. Would you want to have a family?
Owen: Yup. I want to be a Daddy and have a family. I want boy babies. Two boys. Like me and Emmett!
Me: Well, I hope you get that! You know, you don’t always get to choose what kind of babies you get, or if you get babies at all, though.
Owen: What’s medical school and business school?
Me: They are schools that you can go to after you finish college. To learn how to do certain jobs. Like to be a doctor or a lawyer or someone who works in business. What kind of job do you think you want to do when you grow up?
Owen: I want to go to medical school and then business school. And then I want to paint pictures of what I want to eat for snack as my job.
Me: I love that plan. (How apropos for the offspring of two liberal arts students: going to school forever and then becoming a painter!)

Owen: When do people stop growing?
Me: Well, it’s different for every person. I think around the time they go to college.
Owen: So when are you going to be as tall as Daddy?
Me: I’m not. I’m done growing. I went to college already.
Owen: And what about Schnitzel? When is he going to be as tall as Daddy?
Me: He’s done growing too. He’s “full grown”, which means he will stay the same size for the rest of his life. But his hair will keep growing.
Owen: But he didn’t go to college.
Me: True.

Owen: I hear a woodpecker!
::Owen runs to find his binoculars to see if he can see it::
Owen: What if a woodpecker pecked into your head and all over your face? Well then you’d need a LOT of bandaids. And you’d probably have to go to the store to get new ones because that’s a LOT of bloods. And you might have to see the doctor and they might say, “Why did a woodpecker peck your face, silly?!”.

 

I love this kid and his little brain so much.

She Says… Easter Bunny Dreams

Easter 2014-1

I’ve always been a little bit on the fence about creating and maintaining the myths of things like the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy and Santa. Don’t get me wrong, I grew up believing in all of these, and more, and I don’t think that I’m any worse for it. But there is something… strange… to me about telling your kids lie after lie to keep up this farce.

Easter 2014-2 Easter 2014-3

To Benjamin and I, Santa is worth it. Santa is the pinnacle of the magic of the holiday season. The Tooth Fairy we haven’t decided about yet (we have a few more years before that milestone hits), but I’m thinking we’ll spin that imaginary web as well. But the Easter Bunny? That one just seems downright strange to us. A gigantic bunny hippity hopping into your house and delivering a basket? Perhaps no weirder than a dude in a red suit coming down your chimney, but Benjamin and I agreed that it seems unnecessary to lie about this one too.

Easter 2014-18 Easter 2014-19

At our house, Easter baskets are from Mommy and Daddy, and the big bunny who we happened to see last weekend is just a person dressed in a costume for Easter.

Easter 2014-25

I think the whole “person dressed in a costume” conversation is why Owen insisted that he wear his frog costume after the Easter egg hunt (see below). Perhaps in our effort to keep Easter a little less lie-oriented, we confused Easter and Halloween. Ha!

Easter 2014-24 Easter 2014-23

Maybe if Owen was a different kid, one who reveled in stories of make-believe or didn’t try to “figure everything out”, we might have been more likely to tell him some tall tales. But this lie just seemed like more work than it was worth.

Easter 2014-15 Easter 2014-14

Nevertheless, Owen and Emmett were both tickled to come downstairs and find their baskets. We opted not to do an egg hunt at home, since we always go to Grammy and Grampy’s house for the hunt in the afternoon, so we had a nice, quiet morning playing with Easter toys in matching monster pajamas.

Easter 2014-13 Easter 2014-26

In the afternoon we had a nice early Easter dinner with part of Benjamin’s family and the boys did the annual egg hunt. I think this is the last year Emmett will be placated with “finding” just one egg on his own. Owen is going to have some competition next year!

Easter 2014-10 Easter 2014-16

Owen loved being just like the adults this year, with his own little pre-dinner mocktail and blazer/tie combination (that he picked out himself, without fussing at all).

Easter 2014-9 Easter 2014-8

He even asked Grampy to put on a tie so they could match (copycatting again!).

Easter 2014-5

You know, just like the adults… with a frog suit on.

Easter 2014-29 Easter 2014-30

Easter Bunny or no Easter Bunny, we had a sweet day celebrating with family.

Easter 2014-4

And everyone was pooped at the end.

 

Side note: Apparently we’ve really gotten our money’s worth with Owen’s “fancy clothes”. That red tie was featured on Easter 2012 (HOW CUTE IS LITTLE OWEN!) and the blazer on Easter 2013! I think they’ll both need to be replaced for 2015, but perhaps Emmett with be big enough for the tie by then…

She Says… Wardrobe Malfunctions

Thanks for your comments on yesterday’s post about Owen mirroring his friend. I have never heard of “mirror neurons” and the psych major in me finds the idea very interesting (especially as it relates to building empathy/self-awareness… two things I can clearly see Owen working on developmentally).

copycat2 copycat3

Case in point… here is a picture from last weekend where Owen WOULD NOT pick his face paint design until another friend did. At least he copied something cute!

spring1

Last weekend was our first real taste of spring. Ahhhhh, spring. After the long, cold, snowy winter. It was glorious.

spring12

WAS. We got a taste of the warm breeze and the sunshine and then it was rudely replaced by frost and 30 degree temps. Nevertheless, we basked in it.

spring11 spring10

Along with the warm weather came warm weather clothes! Shorts. Tee shirts. Even sandals. Owen was IN HEAVEN. Remember in the fall when we had such a hard time with layers and wrinkles? Apparently the cure for that is called WARM WEATHER.

spring5

Or so I thought.

spring3

Dude was all aflutter over getting to wear his shorts and sandals. He walked on air and acted like an angel for 2 days. And then it got cold again, and now even the thought of talking about clothes sends him into a rage-y tantrum, like I’ve never seen before.

Perhaps he’s not cut out for New England livin’.

spring4

Let me just say that Owen has been completely dressing himself for about a year. We don’t tell him what he can and can’t wear… we just make sure that his clothes are weather-appropriate since he spends a lot of time outside. If he wants to wear a frog costume to the grocery store, he totally can. We never talk about matching and love to see what he picks. He usually jumps right out of bed, gets himself dressed right down to the socks, and we go downstairs to start our day with no problems.

spring7

This week, however, every morning, getting Owen to get himself dressed has been a nightmare. All of a sudden, if we say he has to wear pants because it’s freezing outside, he will only wear ONE pair of fleece sweatpants. No others. And there’s only ONE acceptable long-sleeved shirt in his drawer (and he HAS to wear a long-sleeved shirt because his friend wears long-sleeved shirts, duh). ONE. I’m such a mean mom that I won’t let him wear shorts in 30 degree weather, and Benjamin and I decided to put our proverbial foot down about wearing dirty clothes, so every day except for the ONE DAY when both the shirt and pants happened to be clean, we have had an all-out, lay-on-the-floor-and-cry, scream-at-the-top-of-his-lungs tantrum on our hands.

spring6

We’ve tried hugging it out, and helping him along. We’ve tried no tolerance, “we’re walking out the door even if you don’t have a shirt on at all”. We’ve tried negotiating and trying to get to the bottom of the new rules (what is this REALLY about?) and listening and explaining why we have to wash clothes. We’ve tried going shopping and finding new, acceptable clothes that Owen picks out himself (which worked really well, actually, except that all of the clothes that were available are summer clothes, except for one pair of pants, so he can’t wear most of what we bought until the darn sun comes out again). We’ve thought about picking the clothes out the night before, but that just shifts the tantrum to night time and then, knowing Owen, he would stress and be anxious all night and not even sleep.

spring8

The good news is that, as soon as we get out the door, the tantrum, no matter how crazy, is totally forgotten. He even apologizes “for fussin’” and promises that it won’t happen again, totally unprompted. It’s like he can’t control it himself, even when he tries.

Whew, being 3 is hard, yo.

spring9

On some days I think he just wants something to fuss about to see if he can. On other days I really, truly think that he feels emotionally connected to these clothes and cannot fathom wearing anything else. I get it, but I also can’t let him go to school in shorts when it’s freezing out (remember what happened when he refused to wear gloves and we went sledding anyway?).

The silver lining on this particular struggle is that the warm weather is on its way. And soon we will not even have to talk about fleece pants at all. And he can wear his shorts and sandals every. single. day.

Hallelujah.

Does your kid have favorite clothes? Do you let them wear the same ones day after day? What are your clothes “rules”?

She Says… Copy Cat

copycat1

Owen’s teachers describe him as a “big personality”. He’s the kid who tells other kids’ parents more about their child’s day than their own child. He’s the kid who shoots his hand up (and shouts out his answer at the same time) the second a question is asked at circle time. And even when it isn’t. He’s the kid who can’t let you get through one page of a book without asking 10 million questions. Everyone he meets knows his name because he won’t let them forget it.

He’s assertive. Creative. Verbose. Outgoing. Hilarious. He loves to be the center of attention. He looks for opportunities to put on a show.

Which is why his recent behavior is… confusing. Peculiar. Sort of frustrating, as a parent. He is currently OBSESSED with copying what other people are doing.

Before choosing a coat to wear, he’ll ask me, “Which coat are YOU going to wear?” and then he’ll only wear his coat that matches mine. Yesterday he had a full-blown tantrum because I was wearing black pants and his black pants were dirty, so we couldn’t wear the same pants. When I ask him what he wants for snack he’ll ask me if I want the same thing that he will have. In an effort to model making my own choices, sometimes I’ll say, “Maybe. But I’m going to pick for myself. You pick for you, and I’ll pick for me.” Still, often he won’t even choose a snack until he’s certain that I’ll have the same thing. Or he’ll change his snack choice based on what I picked for myself.

At home, it’s pretty easy to manage. It’s sweet, actually (except when I REALLY want to wear flip flops for a quick trip to the store but he doesn’t have flip flops that fit and waaaaaah). You know what they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. But at school it seems to take on a different flavor. He’s currently focusing all his attention on one particular friend, and will only do what she’s doing in the classroom. He will only wear long-sleeved shirts because SHE wears long-sleeved shirts. He wants to bring a backpack to school everyday instead of our normal bag because SHE brings a backpack to school everyday. It’s like he can’t function without someone to copy.

I get it. Every one of us, every day, is working through what we want and balancing that with what others want. We are learning how people react when we act a certain way, and the social impact of following versus leading. Of going your own way versus following the crowd. We are all doing this dance of copying things that we see other people doing (hello, Pinterest! Facebook!), but we’ve been around the block enough times to know that you kind of have to hide that you’re doing it or you’ll be a copycat. A poser. A wanna-be.

Apparently this lesson starts young.

I guess this irks me because I know that he is a headstrong, confident little boy most of the time. And it makes me a little sad to see him lose himself in someone else. To not even know what he wants because he just wants what SHE wants. I want to see Owen stand up for himself and his opinions. I want him to have opinions. I want him to continue to share those opinions, even if they are not what his friends would do or say. If genders were reversed in this situation, I’d be wondering if I taught my daughter enough about how women don’t need men to make decisions for them. About girl power and confidence and being proud of who you are no matter what anyone else thinks. (Don’t get me wrong — certainly the same messages still apply for boys as well!)

But the truth is that I know this is just one of those social things that everyone has to learn. Striking that delicate balance between where you end and your friends begin. Learning how to make decisions for yourself no matter what your friends are doing. Certainly a lesson he’ll learn over and over and over again throughout his life, though in some cases it will undoubtedly be much bigger and will require him to make harder decisions than wearing long-sleeved shirts and carrying backpacks.

If you had asked me 2 weeks ago if my kid was a leader or a follower, I would have said the former, without a shadow of a doubt in my mind. But now I’m not so sure. I guess the only thing that is certain is that we are all both, and it takes a lot of practice to figure that out for ourselves.

She Says… Brotherly Love

brothers1

As one of four kids, I know the joy of outnumbering your parents. I know the silliness that ensues when your parents leave you alone long enough to come up with a hilarious (and likely dangerous) new game. I know the late night giggles and inside jokes and choreographing dances together on the back porch.

brothers2

I know the yearning to be bigger and do the “big kid things” my older sister and brother could do before me. I know the pride of getting to do those “big kid things” before my little sister. I know the way good news grows exponentially with each sibling that I tell. I know the way each one can comfort me and support me, in their own way, when I need it the most. And I know the way that sibling relationships can blossom into real friendships in adulthood.

brothers3 brothers4

So I always knew that I wanted to have more than one child.

brothers5

In fact, anyone who knows me in real life has probably heard me say that I am one of those crazy women who adores being pregnant and loves the baby stage so much that I would have a million kids. Ok, maybe not a million, but certainly a few more than we have now. (Of course there are lots of things that come into play when planning a family, so our family may very well be complete with these 2 wild and crazy, beautiful boys.)

brothers6

Watching Owen and Emmett delight in each other and grow up side by side, hand in hand, for the last 9 months, has been even more powerful than loving each of them individually. They are greater than the sum of their parts. They will have each other in a way that neither Benjamin nor I will ever be able to match.

brothers7

Emmett is still a few months from saying any intelligible words, but no words are needed for us to know how he feels about his big brother. His adoring gaze says it all. His little chuckle at everything Owen does. The way his eyes dry and his face brightens when Owen makes a silly face, no matter what caused his tears.

brothers8

The way he tolerates (and even enjoys, despite me saying, “Emmett doesn’t like that! Please stop”) Owen’s manhandling and bear hugs and not-always-so-gentle-pats on the head. The way he crawls after Owen, his little diaper butt swaying as quickly as it can, to get all up in his brother’s business. He’s the peanut gallery. The sidekick. The wrestling partner.

brothers9

Owen dotes on his little bro in a way I could not have even imagined. I knew there would be love, but I expected frustration and impatience and jealousy. I knew there would be hand-holding and head-kissing, but I expected hitting and pushing too. I knew there would be times that they would play together, but I didn’t expect Owen to ask for Emmett almost all the time. To call for him when he’s crying, because he wants to give him a hug. To proudly pull his friends over to show Emmett off, even though they’ve met him a hundred times before. To comfort Emmett so sweetly and gently when he is sad.

brothers10

It nearly bursts my heart.

brothers13

Sure, there are surreptitious elbows to move Emmett out of the way and sneaky toy grabs when he thinks I’m not looking. There are times when Owen will plop himself in my lap simply because he can tell that Emmett is headed in that direction and he wants to claim his turf. There are times when a sweet, brotherly hug stealthily turns into a body slam… and not in a good way.

brothers15

But those times are fewer and farther between than I ever thought would be the case, especially with an attention-hog like Owen. And hey, those times build character too, right? For both kids.

brothers18

There are many things that Owen got that Emmett didn’t. The classic and unavoidable lot of the second child.

But there’s one thing Owen didn’t have until Emmett came along.

brothers16

A brother.

brothers17

And I’m pretty sure that is the best gift we’ll ever give either one.