Saturday, January 10, 2015

Single Parenting Saturday

Another Saturday, another day of Daddy working and me trying to figure out how to keep 4 kids occupied in the house I'm thinking an obstacle course will be in order. Perhaps we can all generate enough body heat to give the heating system a break for a hot second, because we've dipped into the single digits a few times this week. And if you spend a few seconds studying the paper snowflakes, you'd quickly realize where 98% of our heat goes--right out the front window.

That front ponytail silhouette--it's my favorite.
That's right, our traditional snowflakes are up and dazzling all passersby. This might be the first time that Mother Nature beat me to it though, sending a little storm on Tuesday morning. The school officials dropped the ball on this one and failed to call a delay in time. So the frosty flakes and slick roads were nothing compared to the icy backlash from parents on social media this week. You know, I'm still trying to figure out what I want to be "when I grow up," but the list of jobs I don't want to do continues to grow. You can go ahead and add "person who decides if schools should delay or close due to weather" to that list.

It wasn't that she didn't like the snow. She just couldn't move an inch without falling over in her snowsuit!

All this kid wanted was a snowman. Unfortunately, the snow wouldn't cooperate. So we settled for this Flat Olaf.

But anyway, back to Single Parenting Saturday. The kids have taken it easy on me.  Which is good, because I definitely just tried to finger scroll my Bible, and I'm not talking about the version on my phone! Apparently they all schemed ahead of time to wake up at 30 minute intervals, you know, to give me some time to adapt to mothering this morning.

This is our version of Saturday morning cartoons.
 First up, always first up, is Jocelyn. 5:55am to be exact. Which is good. You all know I've had a goal of "waking up before my kids" for the last 6 years. Well, I'm not quite there yet, but thanks to this girl, I'm now up before three-quarters of them, and that's something.

 But you know what the best part of all this is? Girlfriend is sleeping through the night. All the time. And it's beautiful!! She's also taking a minimum 2 hour nap in the afternoon and, wait for it, doing it all without crying!! She actually lunges for her bed and contentedly lays down while I leave the room. And I feel like a new woman! I actually get a little break in the afternoon and I don't have to deal with that tense bedtime routine.

But then there's that funny party of parenting. The part where you just can't wait to get over one mountain, and then you look up and there's another one in front of you. Despite being my fourth go-round, I still convince myself that all will be right "once she starts sleeping through the night" or "once she starts entertaining herself" or "once she is able to walk." Right now we're at the everything-will-get-better-once-she-starts-communicating stage.

Because while I'd like to tell you that I'm generally awoken at zero-dark-thirty by giggles and maybe a singsong voice, the reality is more to the tune of loud variations of "HEYYYY!!!" coming from the baby monitor. I wish I could record it for you. The best way I can describe it is as a high-pitched growl, one that she's straining to get out. Every once in a while she throw in a "MOM" but typically, I'm referred to as "HEY" these days.

And that's how we start our day. It's usually followed by me getting her breakfast, her refusing to eat it, me getting myself breakfast, and her insisting on sitting on my lap and eating all my breakfast. We follow a similar structure for lunch and dinner as well. But it's all good because I've officially got myself a napper!

6:35am and Big Sis is up. She immediately starts crying because she woke up in her bed. Yup, Lia is very annoyed that she fell asleep in the glider in our room and we didn't allow her to stay there--curled in a ball, neck at the most awkward of angles--all night long. So I gave her a redo. She crawled back into my chair and finished waking up snuggled under her "pincess" blanket.

Julia is in the informative stage. Or perhaps it's not a stage, but rather than just an integrative part of her personality. She tells me everything. (I think I have an idea of from whom she inherited this trait from. My husband may have accused me of reporting too much useless information to him this week--the printer's not working, the toilet is clogged, the downstairs light switch is making a strange sound... In my defense, I'm not trying to be annoying. I'm just happy to make "adult" conversation every once in a while, even if it's entirely one-sided.)

So anyway, this trait most often manifests itself in Julia through her potty activities. She will come find me on the complete other side of the house, just to tell me her "pee pees are coming out!!" before running right back to where she came from, next to the bathroom. I find myself repeating, "Julia, I don't need to know each time you go to the bathroom!" about 5 times a day.

Speaking of time, she has a very limited understanding. Aunt Rachel got her a watch for her birthday--a pretty, pink, lights-up watch. And ever since then, everything happens in intervals of "20 minutes." When she's not alerting me of her bathroom habits, she's commanding me to "put 20 minutes on the clock." I usually just nod my head and say "okay." And apparently that's all she needs.

If something is not in "20 minutes" then it occurred "lass night." As in, "Marmie took me 'a Chick-a-lay an' I play in 'a play place lass night." (What she really means is 6 months ago.) So this morning, after she had a chance to properly wake up in her desired location, she set to work making a "booty trap" (another word of the month) for "fwend Raegan" (another noun that makes it's way into conversation at LEAST once a day,) and then a few indecipherable sentences about jumping on the guest room bed with fwend Reagan "lass night."

It's now 7:00am. Jude is next. I can tell because I hear the click of the door, and then something akin to the sound of a dozen baby elephants running down the steps. One half-second later and Jude is nuzzling under my arm seeking out his good morning kiss and hair ruffling. Jude is our little philosopher. If you follow me on Instagram, you may have heard his latest question, "If there's fireworks in the sky, and you throw corn, will you get popcorn?" I was silent for a second, and then just said yes, definitely yes.

And so if you happen to hang out with us this 4th of July, just be aware that I'm hatching a scheme that involves popcorn falling from the sky during fireworks.

Our little philosopher loves to learn. I was getting concerned that his preschool time was all play and no work, but he wanted to "play school" yesterday and I was fairly impressed with his letters. Phonics are another story. We were doing flashcards and got to the letter U. Jude says, "Hambrella! Hambrella starts with "ham" just like you eat on a sandwich." Well, yes. Yes, it does.

This is also the age of games. And this time of year kicks that hobby up to a whole new level. "Hoot Owl Hoot" and "Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel" have made their rounds over, and over, and over again. And I think we've played Memory about 20 times this week--the Planes version, the Frozen version, the Richard Scarry version, and just the plain old alphabet flashcard version. It gets really interesting when Joci starts stealing the cards and throwing them around the room. So we've adjusted the rules to include a bonus point whenever you pick a card that Joci happens to be holding the match to.

Last but not least, our eldest makes an appearance at approximately 7:30am. He's generally the last one up because of those long days at school. It's been an adjustment, this first week back after Christmas, and these past few days were less than stellar. I won't say too much, as I want to protect my kids' privacy as they get older, but let's just say it feels like back when he was just a little guy, and I used to come home from the playground and cry because his exuberance was just too much for the other kids.

Being the oldest is tough. You get to be raised by two complete novices in parenting. I've got diapering and nursing and Memory games down pat, but this whole raising a Kindergartener thing?? I'm completely out of my league. And Jack's not the only one having a tough time. I've been beating myself up these past few days because watching my kids struggle, in any area, seems to bring to light all my own bad habits and the ways I've failed in parenting.

Lots of science experiments and art supplies for Christmas this year, and we are making good use of ALL of them!
Which is probably why I started with tears this morning, sitting at the dark breakfast table, baby on my knee shoveling all my apple crisp into her mouth while her's was thrown about the floor, reading the She Reads Truth devotional that was surely written for me. And realizing that it's not about me and what I've done or haven't done. It's just about God working through me in spite of myself.

Yes, I'm going to try. By golly, I've set those new year's goals and I'm stickin' to them. And certainly, I am painfully aware of the areas of parenting that I need to do better. But  I also want to be a "canvas for displaying God's wonderful works of grace." And I want my kids to see that too.

So this weekend we're going to take it easy. Lots of quiet Lego time. Lots of snuggling and books. I'm sure there'll be some rounds of Memory. And lots of hugs and a few extras "I love you no matter whats." Because we could all use a little more of that around here!

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