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Sunday, March 25, 2012

Walking! / Laufen!



Isabelle is officially walking since yesterday. And she is very proud of it, which is very cute. She walks, arms flailing in the air, making the cutest sound (I think she is mimicking her siblings cheering for her), mouth wide open and eyes just beaming with pride.
Her sister and her brother haven taken a great interest in walking with her the last few days. Both Abigail and Nathan have been taking her by the hand and walking with her continually for the last few days after they figured out that Isabelle really enjoys this. Often times Nathan will be on her right and Abigail on her left. They will hold her up gently and walk her while cheering for her the whole time. The excited tiny face in the middle says it all when you see her coming around the corner: So much love! So awesome!

Isabelle ist seit gestern am laufen! Und sie ist auch sehr stolz darauf, was sehr suess ist. Sie geht, mit den Armen wild in der Luft wedelnt, und macht dabei die witzigsten Geraeusche (ich glaube sie versucht ihre Geschwister zu kopieren wenn diese sie anjubeln), Mund weit aufgerissen und die Augen leuchten nur so vor Stolz.
Ihre Schwester und ihr Bruder haben sie in den letzten paar Tagen immer an der Hand im Haus herum gefuehrt nachdem sie heraus gefunden haben das Isabelle das mag. Meistens ist Nathan an ihrer rechten Seite und Abigail auf der linken; jeder haelt sanft ein Haendchen und jubeln fuer sie die ganze Zeit. Das aufgelaeuchtete winzige Gesicht in der Mitte sagt ja dann schone alles: So viel Liebe! So wunderbar!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Of Hard Days and Dreams

Today's second half of the day was hard. Very hard. If you have red hair. And are 4. And your name is Abigail but your name "is also Abby." Then you had a very hard day. It might be because you skipped your nap. But you are definitely "not tired!" No, really, you aren't. That is precisely why you fell asleep 3 nano seconds after you uttered that statement with such gusto. And then daddy carried you upstairs and as you laid over his big shoulder you had a crooked smile that somehow told us you were really awake. Then your day got a little better because what little girl doesn't like to be carried by her daddy?

But alas, the day got longer yet again and life became overwhelming. Innocent brothers who truly and sincerely were trying to cheer you up where met with loud accusations of utter disrespect to your person. Unspeakable violence in the form of cheerful tickling was the charge. When a certain part of your dinner that was supposed to be in your tummy was found on the couch and this fact was simply pointed out to you, a wail of never before heard proportions echoed through our house, only to be overshadowed by the total collapse of a little tired body on the floor. It was just too much to bear. Although you were insistent that you were not tired, once in your bedroom, the cheerful little person that you are returned at the prospect of sleep. The utter excitement of magnets earned throughout the day for exemplary behavior, a fore bearer of sleep well earned, was welcoming smiles on that perfect little face of yours. Peacefully your ship took off to dreams unknown.

Now if mama would only be so wise to get much needed sleep. After all, Isabelle is teething...

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Changes

With Nathan going to school full-time in a few months, being in the midst of our first baseball season, having our first soccer season behind us, realizing that Abigail will soon start Kindergarten as well, Isabelle seeming to grow out of babyhood so much faster than her siblings, left me with a real fear that the "little" year ran through my fingers like sand. That this special time is almost over. In the past, the thinking was that we had lots of time left to enjoy our little ones. Now, it seems that time is definitely numbered. All of a sudden everything is very busy and we barely have days at home. Quiet days where we can just enjoy each others company are rare. As any panic-stricken mother would do, I am trying to hold on to every little moment as best I can.

Here are some intentional changes that were made in the last few months (in random order) to help me enjoy my last bit of the "little" years more fully:

Internet intervention. The internet used to be my escape on a very stressful day. It was not intended as such but it seemed to be the place I found myself when days where hard. The computers are next to my husband, so even if he had to work, I could still be close to him. Making myself stay away from the computer has not only given me a lot of time back, it made me realize how much time was previously wasted.

Spend extra time with each one of my kids every day. There have been days in the past where one or two children needed much attention throughout the day and the third (usually the quietest one) was left out. I'm not saying that I completely completely ignored a child but just did not spent special time with them one on one.

We make more things from scratch. We bake our own bread weekly and are making a lot of things from scratch now, such as granola bars, spice mixes, pancake mixes, etc. This is also a great thing to do with the kids (in particular little redheads who LOVE tasting everything - even salt, flour, spices). The kids also love getting involved with the process of trying different recipes and picking their favorite one. This particular point has made me feel really good in various ways: Making things from scratch gives a great feeling of accomplishment. Spending quality time and teaching the kids does the same.

Teaching something everyday. The kids really enjoy learning at this stage. So we read, focus on geography (we have a big map on our wall in the dining room and the kids are becoming quite familiar with it), and math with Nathan while Abigail is starting to learn how to write. Abigail gets additional training in housework while Nathan also learns baseball and other sports basics.

Giving the kids more chores. Duh! I'd been reluctant on this because after all, with Nathan being in school and having homework, he had so little time to play. Yes, this was all confusing to figure out. :-) Abigail is actually very excited about this. While Nathan has entered the stage where he is questioning why he has so much work to do, it benefits him and gives us an opportunity to work on a cheerful attitude. :-) Isabelle does do a fabulous job of picking all teeny tiny pieces off the carpet that may have found their way there somehow. This job was not assigned to her but she does it with so much enthusiasm. :-)

Batch cooking. Whenever I can, I batch cook. One time we planned a whole day for me to do it. Wouldn't you know it, the kids were sick that day. So it happened over 3 days but now we have emergency dinners in the fridge and that is sooo nice. Well, not only emergency food, but dinners already ready when I'd like them to be. That saves so much time. Throughout the week, if we make anything, we make double-batches and having all these muffins, chopped veggies, dinners, snacks, etc in the freezer, gives us a lot of time to make those previously mentioned from scratch things. My next step is to get snacks prepackaged for the kids so that snacks and/or lunch will be a cinch. If only you could chop apples and bananas a week ahead of time.....

Plan schedules more efficiently. We live in between two cities. So all errands in one city will be done on the same day (usually Nathan's school days) and errands in the other city will be on different days. If I leave the house to run an errand, I try to combine all others with it that I can foresee. And I schedule at least one full day at home by ourselves.

Family bible time. We try to have bible time every dinner time where we all sit together, eat together, read a story and then talk about it. This is in addition to any other bible reading/devotional we do or any bible verse memorizing. It is completely separate and a set time.

Being responsible for each other. Trying to find ways for the kids to help each other to get a sense of responsibility for each other. For example, Nathan will open the car doors for Abigail and then buckle her. I will still check but it is teaching them to take care of each other and that this is expected of them.

We've definitely bonded a lot more during the last few months. It feels good to be more focused and more intentional. Sometimes it is easy to get all wrapped up in housework and everything that "needs" to be done. I love these changes and feel they are connecting me with my children again.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

So Frustrated and So Proud

Our littlest member of the family has entered a new stage. Frustration. Or maybe it is just a testing of vocal ability to make other family members seize all they do and immediately give you whatever you are yelling it. This works especially well with male members of the family who have already been well-trained by a little red-headed female. I won't mention any names. If the female members of the family do not move quickly enough, tears may be added to underline the seriousness of this utterly urgent request. A very sad face will always help. It usually works on even the busiest mama. She's got us all running. Especially when we are talking food and it isn't going to the mouth fast enough. What can I say, this is really my fault. They are my genes that I passed along to her. She can't help it. Dada tried to teach her to not yell at us when the food isn't coming fast enough the other night. She just outsmarted us and used the above mentioned tears to which our well-thought out response was to quickly capitulate. We are masters of parenting. And we also made sure that the food kept going into her mouth as fast as possible for the rest of the night. I guess we learned our lesson. After all, parents should always listen to their 10-month old.
But not all is lost. I also had a sense of pride with my middle child today. It has become somewhat of a tradition that Abigail and I watch the Pioneer Woman on Food Network. Nathan will watch too if her boys are featured. Abigail and me will talk about what lovely things Ree Drummond does for her family and how much love she shows for them through her food and care. You know, mother-daughter bonding. So today Abigail wanted to play with Playdoh. And she was the Pioneer Woman. She called her something else and it took me a while to figure out who she was. So after pretending for two weeks now that she is all sorts of Jedi or villains (to accompany Nathan's requests) or any other such un-girly thing, we finally had a girl in there! While she was chopping up Playdoh carrots, she would make her own background music and occasionally inform all "viewers" that she had "just a few more" or "only two more to chop." I'm so proud my girl is imitating a mama. :-)

Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Middle Child /Das Kind in der Mitte


Dave's newest office decoration...
(courtesy of my brother Matze)

Dave's neuste Buero Dekoration...
(vielen Dank an Matze)


At this point in time, things aren't as easy if you are the middle child. While others are achieving greatness, you are merely battling potty training. While some successes seem to be coming along, it most certainly is a long-distance struggle. And how does that compete with someone standing for the first time, cutting her first teeth, saying first words, someone else playing on his first baseball team, losing his first tooth, growing his first adult tooth, being a straight A student? Life is hard when you are stuck in the middle. Especially when you love attention. And let's be honest, who doesn't? Love attention?
But alas, sometimes parents do become aware of these struggles. And then they throw me a party. It's quite grand. To be the center of attention. A party to celebrate my successes at potty training so far. Not bad. Plus, mom thought it might be great to help out a whole lot more around the house and in the kitchen. And you know what? I like it!
So, I may not be at a stage where everyday feats are accomplished and I may not be at another stage where there are so many firsts, but I'm at a comfortable stage, where life is slow and grand. Where I can draw to my heart's delight, sing all day, read all day, and most of all, be the little helper my mom and dad need. And sometimes I may even make some extra work for them, just so they don't get bored. So here's to eating Cheerios in my special way, so that half of them will land on the carpet. After all, we don't want to go unnoticed.

Zu diesem Zeitpunkt liegen die Dinge nicht so einfach, wenn man das mittlere Kind ist. Während andere grosse Meilensteine erzielen, kämpfen Sie bloß mit Toiletten Training. Während kleine Erfolge entlang kommen, ist es zweifellos ein Langstreckenkampf. Und wie konkurriert man mit jemand, die zum ersten Mal steht und ihre ersten Zähne bekommt, die ersten Wörter sagt, oder jemand anderes, das auf seinem ersten Baseballteam spielt und seinen ersten Zahn verliert und seinen ersten Erwachsenen Zahn bekommt und ist ein top Performer in der Schule? Das Leben ist hart, wenn Sie in der Mitte sitzt. Besonders wenn Sie Aufmerksamkeit lieben. Und sind wir mal ehrlich, wer liebt das nicht? Im Mittelpunkt stehen? Aber zum Glueck, manchmal werden sich die Eltern dieses Kampfes bewusst. Und dann werfen sie mir eine Party. Es ist total toll. Der Mittelpunkt zu sein. Eine Party, um meine kleinen Erfolge am Toiletten Training zu feiern. Nicht schlecht. Und dann dachte Mama, dass es gut sein wuerde, wenn ich mehr im Haushalt und der Kueche helfen wuerde. Und weisst du was? Ich mag es! Also lebe ich vielleicht nicht in einem Stadium in dem man taegliche Meisterstuecke erreicht und ich nicht in einem anderen Stadium, in dem es so viele erste Ereignisse gibt, aber ich bin in einem bequemen Stadium, in dem das Leben langsam und großartig ist. Wo ich den ganzen Tag malen kann, mit Freude singe oder Berge von Buechern lese. Am Allermeisten bin ich der kleine Helfer meiner Mama und meines Vatis. Und manchmal kann ich etwas Extraarbeit für die beiden machen, damit sie nicht so gelangweilt sind. Cheers zum Essen der Cheerios auf meine spezielle Art, damit ueber die Hälfte von denen auf dem Teppich landet. Wir möchten ja schliesslich nicht voellig unbemerkt gehen.