Sleep and sweetness connected?

Starting Tuesday of last week (12/18) when she emptied her part of the dishwasher the first time she was asked, Melody has grown more and more sweet and affectionate. Almost compliant at times.

She still clams up and does her pouty face when she feels like too much is being asked of her (smile? right *now*?), but her words are becoming sweeter (“I love you so much.”) and her snuggles more…genuine, I guess is the word I’m looking for.

She’s always been a touch-hungry kiddo, but half the time it’s been a demanding on-her-terms sort of affection. It’s been nice watching her soften.

It’s also been a week of unexpected night-wakings. And I really wonder what’s going on in her little self– whether whatever is loosening her tongue is somehow causing her sleep to be disturbed.

Warm Hands are Misleading

A few nights ago Melody was using the potty after bedtime, so all the big lights were out.

Responding to her call for assistance I could see well enough that I didn’t turn on any new lights.

Melody reached out and took my hand, feeling it like clay in the dark, trying to recognize it. Finally she asked, “Is this Daddy?”

“No, it’s Mama,” I told her. “Why did you think it was Daddy?”

“Your hands were warm…”

I could hear the confusion in her voice when she first asked the question.  It was so unusual even the familiar size and shape couldn’t overrule the temperature element.

Natasha’s Observations

Natasha [whispered to me]: Daddy’s being a good daddy: he’s changing the sheets.


She’s been playing one of Jay’s Everquest characters this morning, too, and I heard her run to Jay and shout, delighted, “I collected a striped blue butterfly!”  Which is doubly adorable because she only knows that because of the print that came up on the screen.

Jay and I are continually surprised at what words she has in her sight-vocabulary.  It’s very fun.

Delayed (reporting of a) Complement

Last week Jay hurt his back when he brought the tree up from under the house.

His hurt wasn’t on my mind that evening, but, like I sometimes do, I changed into a nice dress right before Jay got home. The girls of course were thrilled and begged me to help them into dresses also, and ties sashes, etc., which I tried to do while finishing dinner.

When Jay staggered (literally) through the door, complaining of his pain (he’d planed this whole scene of agony for my benefit), he collapsed on the couch and looked up at me. I wasn’t looking the way he’d expected.

“You know,” he said, after a pause, “it’s really hard to complain to a beautiful woman.”

“I’ll have to remember that,” I said.

He played with the kids (a change from what I expected with that sore back) while I finished dinner, and I was able to join in for the last of the game.

Later, at dinner, Natasha was gazing at me with eyes nearly glowing and a huge smile on her face. I was so busy juggling the meal I didn’t really notice at first, until she said, “Oh Mama, you just so beautiful I can’t keep my eyes off you.” (Lots of nervous giggling from her, before and after this statement).

She’s said this once before (and once said something similar about my singing), and I never know, really how to respond to that. Such uninhibited adoration is not something fallible humans like me are used to receiving.

Anyway, I’m going to have to remember that trick with the dress. I never expected changing my clothes would change the tone of the entire evening, but it did.

And our tree is up.

Jay brought it out yesterday, and and the kids and I trimmed it today.

It’s twirling in front of our window (I’ve always felt people with Christmas trees should share them with the neighborhood).

Putting on the ornaments reminded me that I haven’t looked for anything new this year (I got representative stuff last year. But then, we were actually around the type of store that sold that sort of thing, and we arent now. {shrug} We’ll see what happens.

A new food

Isn’t this sad?

The girls didn’t even know what cauliflower is.  Shopping yesterday I bought some, and the girls’ reactions were great.

“What’s that?” (distrustful) “What do you do with it?”

I explained it by saying you can do anything with it you do with broccoli. One of the girls gushed, “You can make soup with it!”

So that’s the plan for dinner.

“Come” Training

At the book store last week Elisha met a little girl his size who was there with her father.

Both kids were dinging around (not-listening) and after a while I had to round up my three and take them to the bathroom for a diaper change (not going to leave anyone unsupervised, of course).

The dad (he seemed young to me) saw me herding them all and shook his head saying, “And I thought my hands were full!”

Smiling at the new thought I told him, “You’ll find that your hands grow.”

~ ~ ~

But the incident made me realize that I needed to do something about Elisha’s not-listening. I’ve been thinking about it for a while, and finally got to do something about it today.

While out grocery shopping (morning-shopping is *awesome* even with three little kids in tow) Elisha wanted to be out of the cart like his sisters. He then ran the other way when I called him to come closer.

This earned him a swat and a time-out in the cart. He came four or five times on the first call before he tested me again. He is relishing his new freedom, as I am relishing his growing understanding and obedience.

We both know now that he can come when called, and that there are positive and negitive results for every behavior. All that remains to be worked out (and I’m having to re-train the girls a bit in this, as his understanding depends on their modeling) is what freedom looks like.

When we shop the stores are mostly empty, so I let the girls run around as much as they like, as long as there’s no one else in the isle and we can see one another. This allows for a great deal of freedom while still having specific (if invisible) boundaries.

These I’m much more lenient in enforcing, because I think they might be a little too subtle for Elisha to grasp.

But this training reminded me that having to “count” to make a child obey means they’ve already disobeyed. Counting (and I count backwards: 3-2-1) is the parent’s way of saying

I really don’t want to enforce this rule right now. Are you going to make me?”

And the kid decides (or doesn’t) that s/he doesn’t really want it enforced either.

I counted once with Elisha– out of habit, I do it so much with Melody– before I realized how silly it was. He has no concept of the counting, and for him to learn to obey at once will be much more pleasant anyway.

A Complement

The girls have developed an attachment to The Sound of Music and we were watching it this morning.

How would you explain Maria’s leaving after her dance with the Captain?  To a 3- and 4-year-old?  I did okay, I guess, but I’ve not had an answer before today (and they have asked).

Today I said Maria thought she couldn’t serve God if she got married, and she felt she loved the Captain and wanted to leave before he wanted to get married.

Natasha seemed to understand me, and I added “That’s a little silly, isn’t it?  We know lots of people who are married and serve God.  Don’t we?”  She grinned.

“You!” she said.

I liked that.

Living with the Cold

Well, I can’t decide if I’m sensible or a wimp.

It was 16-below this morning– for this first time this winter?  And I decided we were staying home from MOPS.

We went to the library yesterday at zero, and I learned what an odd age/cold combination I have.

Natasha is old enough to winterize herself, and walk quickly from warm place to warm place.  Elisha lets me winterize him (somewhat– though he still pulls his mittens off sometimes), and I can carry him.  But Melody walks more slowly when she hits the cold, and with my arms full of Elisha I can’t scoop her up too– which means we all have to move more slowly because we can’t leave her behind.

I guess it’s time to put a sled in the back of the Subaru again– in case of emergency.

Catching up

Well, it’s been a while so I wanted to write something 😉

We spent a lovely week up North with Jim and Teena, half of it also with Aaron and Autumn, allowing me the rare opportunity to talk with them and especially to get to know Autumn better. Very special.

If I haven’t said so before, Elisha is definitely not a baby anymore. He is done nursing, plays with the big kids, and knows his own mind. He is picking up quickly on new signs, loves his animal-noises book and when he uses an English word it can be surprisingly distinct– once you realize he’s saying a word.

(“Stuck” was one that debuted at Grandma Teena’s house. And he was.)

Melody has been nearly dry for two days– that is to say, I think she had two wet diapers yesterday, and only one today. She was also dry all night.

Still doesn’t seem to care much though. I praise her when she’s dry but she *hates* to be “reminded” (nagged) so this is still very much going at her pace. This is the same progression that happened with Natasha a little bit earlier age, even, so I’m content just riding along for a while more.

The less I rush it the less trained I have to be.

Natasha has been very snuggly lately. I mentioned to Dad tonight that if I didn’t have snuggly kids I might be mourning more the growing up of my babies. But since they all are still little starfish– desiring to be with and on and attached to me– I have nothing to miss except their smallness, which I only miss when I’ve been holding them, standing, for way too long.

Natasha is, I think, more ready for focused, orderly, school work, but that is currently on-hold until I learn a new way to provide her was the structure she needs and shelter that order from her siblings who do not currently crave the same type of order.

All the Children love to dance– at home– all it takes is putting on one of their favorite recordings and they are instantly into it. Natasha will sing along too, sometimes, when encouraged. Mom is hoping we can get all the kids to sing together when her other grandkids are in town for a few days.

I have my doubts about its chance for success, but maybe having older models will be enough to surprise me.