Sunday, January 30, 2011

Words of Encouragement

Have you ever read the book "The Five Love Languages"?  If not, I suggest you do. In it the author, Gary Chapman, describes five different ways that people express love, and wish to receive love.  He says that people have a primary (and often a secondary) love language, and that this is how we can best receive love and often try to show love to our spouse.  It's also often a reason why couples fight: they don't have the same love language.  For example, my husband has physical touch as his primary love language.  He will often say with some genuine surprise, "oh, you do love me" when I give him a hug at the end of a long day.  Well of course I do, I think to myself, but to him, this is the best way that I can show him this.  Well, to be fair, hugs, backrubs, and making him food are probably about equal.

Back when I first read the book I identified quality time as my primary love language.  I start to feel as though my husband must not love me very much anymore whenever the two of us are busy and spend a lot of time apart.  Recently though, I have been realizing that I also crave words of encouragement a lot.  And that is precisely why my current job of stay-at-home mom is so difficult.  I give 100% of myself everyday to two girls who are unable to express their gratitude for my dedication.  Once in awhile Emily can muster a thanks when I deliver her a nutritious lunch or help her clean up her toys, but most of the time, it's a pretty thankless job.  And it never ends.  I am working hard from the moment one of my girls wakes me in the morning until little Sophie finally peters out at night, and sometimes in the middle of the night too, if Emily has a bad dream or Sophie wakes up to eat.  And most of the time, I don't mind.  Because it is a choice I made, a choice our family made together.  And I like it (most of the time).  But it sure would be nice if there were a way to feel like what I do is making a difference.

When I worked for Calvin Seminary, my supervisor was always quick to offer reassurance that I was doing well, that he appreciated my work and admired it.  But now, I can go days without seeing a direct benefit for anything I'm doing.  What's my point here?  I don't know exactly except that I think all parents who stay at home and strive to parent well don't get nearly enough recognition for their work.  So let's just take a moment to offer a big kudos to stay-at-home parents!  And next time you see one, tell them that you know what a hard job they have and you appreciate their work.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

January Projects

Since beginning preschool, Emily has begun to bring home a lot of artwork and craft projects each day.  Our fridge can only hold them for so long before they need to be filed, and eventually discarded.  But thanks to modern technology, I decided to archive them forever by taking pictures of them, and posting them here.  That way all our friends and relatives can share in her creative genius too!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Morning

(Preface: Let me begin by saying that this actually started last night, as Sophie was very fussy, and up three times in the middle of the night.  I am fairly certain this hadn't happened since she was two weeks old).

Today Emily has preschool.  Her preschool is absolutely wonderful (and interestingly, also where I myself went to preschool) but it is also about a 12 to 15 minute drive from our house depending on the traffic lights.  School begins at 9 a.m. and runs until 11:30 a.m. so even though it's a long drive, I normally plan to return home after dropping her off.  We were running late this morning, so I actually kept my pajama top on and threw on my coat.  When we got there though, the parking lot was empty - a bad sign.  After a phone call to the teacher I learned that there was a two-hour delay.  And contrary to the name, school would begin at 10:30 a.m. today.  What?  The sun is shining, there is a high of 40 degrees today, and no new snow.

Nevertheless, I was facing a bit of a dilemma, as I did not want to drive home only to drive back again in an hour, and then home again, back again to pick Emily up, and home again.  No problem, I thought.  Plan B, the library.  We drove there, and found out it was closed until 10 a.m.

Okay, Plan C, walk a few blocks over to Starbucks and hang out there for a bit.  Fortunately, I had the double stroller in the trunk, and both girls had hats.  It was at this point that I learned the cause for the two-hour delay: ice.  Lots of ice, in fact, which made our walk more of a skate.  I fell twice, biting my lip once, causing way more blood than it should have.  And when we got to Starbucks, it was closed.  Power line down, or something of that nature.  By this point, Sophie is screaming and Emily is telling me her hands are cold, because although we had hats, we did not have mittens.

Plan D, walk back the car, drive around for a few minutes, hit up the library, and then head to preschool.  This plan worked, though I must point out the library was having furnace issues and was about a thousand degrees inside.  Any normal person would have removed their coat, but if you'll recall, I was in my pajama top, so I sweated through it.  By the time I got home after preschool drop off, there was approximately an hour until I had to leave to pick Emily up one more time.  Oh well, it was enough time to feed Sophie, dry my bloody lip, take a much deserved shower, and put on actual clothing.  I know in the grand scheme of life, this was not a tragic morning.  But boy, I could use a nap right about now!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Two Months Old!

Dear Sophie,

We have reached the end of month two already, and boy is it going fast this time around! I mean, to honest there are some days when I look at the clock 20 times in the afternoon, counting down the minutes until your daddy will get home, but in general, your infancy seems to be going quite quickly. You are growing well, I think, though we won't know for sure until we have your two month check up on Wednesday and get your official stats, but you seem to getting bigger and you no longer fit in your size newborn clothes, so that's a good sign.

You are sleeping well, generally going to bed for the night around 9 o'clock and then sleeping until 5ish, at which point you eat and go back to bed for another two to three hours. And once, you did sleep the whole night through, so I know you can do it. But your napping is a bit more of a struggle. You seem to be the queen of the cat nap these days, often only wanting to sleep for about 30 minutes at a time during the day, which makes it a bit more challenging. But you are SUCH a happy and calm girl. You will sit contentedly in your bouncy seat or lay on your play mat for very long periods of time. You are quick to give smiles and I swear that you giggled at me the other day (as I was trying to rock you to sleep).

You are not a fan of being on your stomach, so I sense that you will be slower to roll over than your sister was. She loved her tummy time. You are gaining head control, but pretty much refuse to lift it up when I place you on your stomach, choosing to immediately wail instead. But other than that, you are a LOT like your sister was as a baby, and it makes me wonder whether your personalities will become more similar or different as time goes by. I very much look forward to the days that you will spend playing (and probably fighting) with her. Right now she adores you, but I wonder if that feeling will remain once you try to play with her toys and imitate everything she does. We'll see!

You are a joy to us Sophie Grace, and I'm glad you're in this family. I already can't imagine it without you!



Sunday, January 2, 2011

Three Years Old!

Dear Emily,

Today we celebrated your third birthday, and I am so proud of the big girl that you are becoming. You have really blossomed in the last couple of months, and while I was afraid of the changes that you would go through with the move to Pittsburgh and adjusting to being a big sister, you have taken it all in stride.

You are a tremendous big sister, always eager to help with your baby sister by fetching me a diaper, alerting us when she's unhappy, or even trying to calm her down yourself. I hope to always remember the way that you try to soothe Sophie by reciting, "it's okay, momma's gotcha". You talk constantly these days, and are starting to understand such complex things. You have complete conversations with people, and will say things like "when I was a baby, I used to play with these toys". You say very few words incorrectly, and the few that you do say wrong (eatmeal for oatmeal, and musigic for music), I can't quite bring myself to correct, for fear I'll completely lose the baby that you once were.

You can identify most, if not all, letters of the alphabet, and you can even tell me the sounds that many of them make. You enjoy puzzles, music, playing with your dollhouse, duplos, and trains. You can play pretend with the best of them, inventing all sorts of different scenarios to act out. And you have become amazingly good at entertaining yourself, which has been a huge blessing in this time of great transition.

You love life, Emily. You have an amazing amount of energy, and your eyes sparkle when you get excited. You are cautious, but quick to get involved once you feel safe. You show an amazing amount of kindness and empathy towards other people, and can very quickly pick up on how others are feeling. You are quick to give hugs and kisses, and to share with others. You are getting to be a much better listener, though you test your boundaries pretty regularly. In short, I could not have asked for a more perfect, more beautiful daughter. I can't wait to see what this next year brings! I love you!