It tastes like ice cream

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We started keeping Chuck accountable for helping around the house. She turned 3 last month and Hfoe and I agreed, with that sassy personality of hers, she is more than capable of maintaining a short list of responsibilities. On the list are chores like helping feed the dogs and making her bed. She gets the holy grail of stickers to mark the square for “staying in bed all night” because that is such a monumental event on the rare occasion it actually happens! The final space on her Mickey Mouse chore chart is reserved for “extra helps through the day.” She gets to place the coveted Sofia the first stickers on this space when she helps clean her sticky fingerprints off the floor to ceiling mirror in the living room (whoever installed that did NOT have toddlers) or she brings me buddy’s diapers, etc. She’s the quickest to remind us of these little extras throughout the day and has even started trying to negotiate her way into stickers for brushing her teeth and eating dinner. Nice try, pal! My favorite part of this chore chart, though, is the little “memo” section which allows us to write notes and goals for the week. Never mind that our goal for the week has remained the same for the 5 weeks we have been doing it…”no whining, no crying, no being mean.” A lofty goal, for sure. We must repeat this mantra often, but repetition is the key, right?! Along with our goal for the week, we have been choosing scripture verses for C (and us if we are being honest) to memorize. So far, she has memorized Luke 6:31, Phil. 4:13 and 1 John 4:19. I couldn’t be prouder! Besides, my little sinner is going to need all the guidance she can recall because this kid is mischievous, let me tell you!

 

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Who me? I am a perfect angel.

 

 

Her recent antics prove that perhaps we shouldn’t be spending so much time on verses about “doing unto others…” as we should be on something more like “thou shalt not bear false witness.”

 

I  mentioned that one of her chores is to help us feed the dogs in both the morning and the evening. A couple days ago, as Chuckles was carrying the cup full of food outside, I ran ahead of her to find the dog’s bowl that had blown away with the Santa Anas. When I turned around to bring her the bowl, she had a smug grin on her face. And the tiniest kernel of kibble on her lip.

“Kid! Did you just eat dog food?!”

I know we all did it at one point or another, but she’s THREE! We aren’t talking about an early walker here!

Just as emphatically as I proclaimed my disgust and astonishment, she rebutted, “I did NOT!”

Perhaps the art of discretion is lost on her, but the evidence was literally written on her face.

“You did, too and now you just lied about it! I hope it tasted gross!”

We eat organic in this house, for crying out loud. What could possibly drive her to desire processed chicken byproduct and ground corn meal?

“Nope. It tasted like ice cream!”

And the lie of lies, she blasphemed ice cream….

Whatever, kid. I just hope you don’t get worms. And next time you beg and whine and plead for ice cream, you better believe you’re getting one heaping cupful of pro plan!

 

Maybe we need to add a sticker line for refraining from taking food out of our puppy sisters’ mouths. Next week’s memory verse will be Deut. 14:3. She needs the lesson.

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Firsts on Firsts on Firsts

The single most covetable part about being a mother, in my opinion, is the privilege granted to me to be the eyes that witness and the ears that hear all the firsts that come from this tiny little human. It seems like every week is equivocal to a moon landing in one form or another. Chuckles had a big couple of weeks this month! Between her leaps in vocabulary and great first time experiences, I am chalk-full of accounts for September.

"Hey Bear! Look at me, Bear!"

“Hey Bear! Look at me, Bear!”

I guess we really started the month at the end of LAST month with a trip to visit the cousins in Oregon. Chuck loved waking up every morning to the giggles of her built-in family playmates. There is just something so special about watching your kid bond with their life-long buddies. Knowing that these tiny people will grow and go their separate ways over the years, but will always be able to come back together to reminisce about breakfast around the table with “not-so-hots” and cousin craft nights that got a little TOO glitter-heavy makes my heart so happy. While we were in Oregon, we decided to take a little detour to see some friends who had recently moved from our area up that way. What a refreshing time of fellowship with some sweet friends whom we have missed! Somewhere along the way, we decided to make the stop at Wildlife Safari. Have you heard of this place or a place like it? It’s a drive through zoo where the animals roam (mostly) free. I remember going to a place like that in Arkansas called Arbuckle Wilderness when I was little and it made quite the impact on my aspiring Zoologist self. However, I don’t remember it being THAT cool! Wildlife Safari turned me into a giggly kid and turned my giggly kid into quite the chatterbox! “Hi Bear! Hey, look at me bear!!” Her mantra of the drive has now become a Crunchy house catchphrase because it made us laugh endlessly while in the park. Her favorite animal in the park was the “scary chicken” that kept coming up to the window for food…of course this was an emu, but “scary chicken” actually seems more fitting. Needless to say, Chuck’s first time at the drive-thru zoo was a roaring success!

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This is her reaction for the Frozen float in Mickey’s Soundsational Parade at Disneyland….You’d think she’d appreciate my rendition.

Another first for this growing kid of ours recently has been her usage of certain phrases, correctly, that send us into stitches. C has always had a great vocabulary and was able to express herself from an early age. But this level of comprehension (and wit) is new. For instance, she, of course, loves “Frozen.” Like it has for every other two-year old girl on the planet, Disney’s latest princess flick has found it’s way into our sweet girl’s heart as an instant favorite. She would listen to the soundtrack on repeat if allowed. So, it stands to reason that her papa and I know ALL the words to one notable song in particular. C has decided, though, that our sing-along sessions just don’t do the film justice and as we head into the hook with great gusto, our dear girl will shout, “Hold it!” with her hands held up and a furrow on her brow. Kills us every time. In addition to her lofty musical critiques, she has crafted quite the imaginary scenarios of which we are expected to partake….and know all the rules. One example of this is the tea party she likes to host on a daily basis. The cups must face a certain direction and we must only eat cookies (not biscuits) off the plates. If I “eat” something I’m not supposed to, I will receive a stern, “No mama, like this.” from my bossy strong girl. My favorite phrase at the moment, though, is “I no hafta (fill in the blank), mama.” The most common blank-filler is “I no hafta nap now,” but you can also fill in with “eat that” or “clean that” or “do that.” While I know at first read this seems like she is talking back and perhaps in need of some nose on the wall time,  it’s actually funny because she is such a little mini-me that her inflection and tone make her sound EXACTLY like my “persuasive” voice. When I am trying to convince Hfoe that I don’t really need to clean the bathrooms today or that I don’t really “hafta” cook dinner tonight….my tiniest ears are listening and mimicking ME! It’s both a funny and humbling reminder!

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First Fish!!

We had a proud moment first while we were all in Colorado this month for hunting season. Since Hfoe harvested his elk on his second day out in the woods (thank you, Jesus for a full freezer for the next year!), Chuckles and I got to enjoy a little more family time with him than we were expecting. On one of those days, we decided to head down to the community pond at my grandma’s cabin and try C’s luck at fishing. After a couple of slapstick moments of chasing after grasshoppers for bait, we were ready to cast the line. Papa threw out the first cast and asked me to hold tight to the pole, while Chuck, in all her mini-fisher glory, manned the reel. It was truly a group effort…and it paid off! C was so excited as that bobber disappeared under the water and I helped her snag her first little trout. She reeled it in with papa and squealed uncontrollably as it flopped and flipped at her touch! This was one of those moments that, despite her age, I really hope she remembers, at least partly, because it was kind of magical….and a little slimy!

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Kicked in the head by “Brother-Sister”

A couple of my favorite firsts from this month involve C’s “brother-sister.” She got to feel baby kick for the first time as we were laying down to nap one afternoon and then she told the baby “I love you, baby” completely unsolicited for the first time soon after. Talk about melting a mama heart! I sure hope this sweetness continues once the runt is born!

As we head into the last 8 weeks of this pregnancy, I am reminded to take every opportunity to step back and enjoy each of Chuck’s “firsts” because soon we will have another first-timer on our hands. I am most excited to see my TWO babes meet each other for the first time. Now, THAT is sure to be a monumental first for our whole family!

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Being a good big sister, feeding bear.

 

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5 Reasons I’m the Worst Mom Ever

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I try so hard to not complain about this pregnancy. It’s a blessing and miracle in so many ways, not the least of which is that this baby is sticking! I am 28 weeks along and I feel so much more secure knowing that if all H-E-double hockey sticks broke out and this kid decided to make an early appearance, his/her chances are looking pretty good. Beautiful miracle and all considered, there are a couple of not so awesome things about being pregnant for the second (third) time while wrangling a toddler with the attention span of an ape. This leads me to what I have learned are the top ways to be a truly awful mother….at least in my own mind…and why I’m convincing myself it’s ok.

1. Why I am the worst mom ever: Today is day 15 of the last 30 that will include peanut butter in some form at all three main meals for Chuckles. Creativity around here is at an all time low and unfortunately, her dietary experience suffers. If I have to think up a Pinterest-worthy dinner for this two-year old who will likely turn her nose up before a single bite is chewed ONE MORE TIME, I am going to lose it. So, I won’t.

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Why it’s ok: I mean, peanut butter is totally a protein, right? Nevermind the sugar content…I buy organic, natural, have-to-stir-or-you’re-eating-oil peanut butter, so it can’t be that bad…right? Right?

2. Why I am the worst mom ever: I let Chuck have LOTS of independent play. At least that’s what I am telling myself as I lay on the couch concentrating on breathing through the baby laying on my lungs and trying not to fall asleep so C isn’t TOTALLY unsupervised. Let’s just say we have taken the “Montessori” approach to learning around here. In the last three days, she has poured an entire bottle of water on the carpet in an attempt to “play tea party” with Mickey Mouse, drawn a masterpiece on the laminate wood floor with a dry erase marker and drank half her body weight in soapy water after she begged (and I obliged) to stay in the bath just a LITTLE too long…in the middle of the day.

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Why it’s ok: Hey, she’s learning! Water on the floor= you gotta clean up after yourself. Art on the floor= cause and effect (translate: Mama loses her mind a little before she realizes dry erase marker WILL erase from laminate! Yay!) Drinking bath water= learning about anatomy…and digestion…and soap may lead to less than favorable bathroom experiences. So really, I rock as a pre-school teacher.

3. Why I am the worst mom ever: C has learned and implemented some new phrases. She now speaks like a 15 year-old, angst ridden teenager and I have realized it can only be coming from one place. I mean, how many toddlers look their mother in the face and say with all seriousness, “I just can’t do this right now, Mom.” This is in regards to finishing her cereal, I might add. Perhaps telling her “I just can’t do this right now, C,” in reference to sitting in the bathroom with her while she poops and I try not to gag on heightened pregnancy senses was NOT the wisest, but I had no clue she would soak THAT in. Sure, I throw out plenty of “please” and “thank you’s” but THIS is what she latches to? Sheesh.

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Why it’s ok: She’s advanced. Truly, she has to have a pretty quick little brain to pick up on such things, right? I will just keep believing she is a genius with a stellar vocabulary. That belief makes me feel better when she holds up her hand and says, “Hold it, Mom,” as I sing my rendition of “You are My Sunshine.”

4. Why I am the worst mom ever: She seriously knows all the words to at least three Bubble Guppies episodes and 4 Mickey Mouse Clubhouse episodes. Notice I said all the words to the EPISODES…not songs, not rhymes…entire episodes. Apparently, this kid has been allowed to watch so much TV that she can recite the script for her two favorite animated shows…WITH inflection! Who does that? Who lets their toddler watch so much tv that she could play understudy to the characters? Me. Giant, pregnant me. That’s who.

Why it’s ok: One part of classical education, which is the philosophy behind most homeschooling curriculum, is learning through memorization. I like to pretend that someday, when it’s time (in two years or so, eek!) I will be equipped and prepared to homeschool Chuck and her sibling. Well, we are well ahead of the curve when it comes to memorization because let me tell you, C can recite her ABC’s as well as the whole lunchtime scene from Bubble Guppies episode 1.4. Again, I rock as a preschool teacher!

5. Why I am the worst mom ever: I use other people’s children to wear mine out…so I don’t have to. Back in the olden days…read: pre-pregnancy…the kid and I took daily walks or park dates and I would chase her and squeal and slide right alongside her sweet, smiley little self. I pushed her on the swing endlessly and swam with her in the community pool. Now that I am a whale, such physical exertion feels nearly impossible. Or, I’m just lazy. Either way, my friends’ kids have slipped into this role beautifully! She wants to be pushed on the swing? Set up a park date with my friend and her 7 year old! She wants to be chased? Invite her friend from next door to play tag. She wants to swim? Make friends with the preteens at the community pool who, “just LOVE” babies and watch them all screech with delight as Chuck jumps in and swims to them. These are my solutions to my lacking and her rising energy levels.

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Why it’s ok: She’s socializing! She has a more complete calendar than I do and her social skills have benefitted from it. Isn’t it what we strive for as parents? To help our kiddos grow into caring, empathetic, well-adjusted mini- humans? The only way for that to happen is for them to have regular interaction with other littles. So, in essence, my laziness is just giving her a leg up on overcoming potential social awkwardness.

At the risk of judgment from my pre-parent self, I throw all this out there to let other pregnant moms know you aren’t alone. I’m tired, too. I’m not the same mom to Chuck now as I was 8 months ago and although this makes me sad and hard on myself at times, I know this is a season. The next season of our mother/daughter journey will include another little being and I am sure the dynamic will change once more. What doesn’t change, EVER, is my love and adoration for the sweet cheeks that grin up at me to tell me she feels the same. Hopefully, as I try to go with the flow, C will learn to be a flexible, forgiving human as well. If nothing else, she won’t ever be able to tell a therapist that I ruined her childhood by never letting her express herself…even if that was in dry erase marker!

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Wait! More Kisses!

My family is pretty smart. Not in a pretentious, “we have better genes than you,” way, but we are generally pretty intelligent folks. I am the oldest of five siblings and as such, I have been blessed to watch the younger kids grow up and discover their brainy-ness along the way. D is next in line after me and the kid is a genius. No, really. He legitimately has a genius IQ as discerned by an actual clinical test when he was a child, not the half-baked kind from IQtestForFree.com. After D comes K. K knows something about everything. And he will let you know it. Every time. It can get really annoying because just as you buck his know-it-all attitude, Dr. Google tells you…he’s right! Let’s just say I will never challenge him to a game of Trivial Pursuit! Third middle child status falls to S. S is the quiet intellect whose way with numbers and relationships will see him running some fortune 500 company one day. He not only has book smarts, but he has a genuine heart and intuition for people that goes beyond intelligence. Finally, the baby of the family, my sister M just graduated from high school. Not only did she play varsity basketball and volunteer for her church in her spare time, but this smarty also managed to graduate second in her class of over 600 kids! With this honor came the responsibility of delivering a well-prepared, funny, yet inspiring speech to her fellow classmates, while simultaneously trying not to cry and remembering to breath. She nailed it! I know because although my whole family lives nearly 2000 miles away, I got to be there for her special moment. It meant so much to me that she sacrificed the plane ticket to come see us in CA which was originally to be her graduation present, in favor of Hfoe, Chuck and me being there on that day.

Chuck was less than thrilled to take family photos after graduation.

Following graduation, M did, in fact, come back to California with us. She used the money she had been working for all semester to buy her own way out for three weeks in this sunny place. We had big plans to conquer all while she was here and we came pretty close to that goal. Between shopping on 3rd Street Promenade, ogling giraffes and zebras at the LA Zoo, doing Disneyland and beaching it up from Santa Barbara to Santa Monica, she checked quite a few things off her “to do in LA” list.

Meeting Goofy at Disneyland with Aunt M.
Impromptu parade watching in Santa Barbara. Summer Solstice. Who knew?

Of course, Chuck was in Heaven having her aunt attend to her every beck and call. The daily mantra first thing every morning became, “M comin’ toooo?!” I loved watching my baby sis play with the most precious person in my life and build a relationship that so many of my friends with close families experience on a regular basis. Don’t get me wrong, this sweetness was sprinkled with brat face moments as well. There were a few times I got the very clear picture of what having two will resemble. An 18 year old knows quickly how to antagonize a two year old and a two year old knows LOUDLY how to protest! But, mostly, the sounds of giggles and nightly games of chase while I cooked dinner just filled my soul with happy.

The Giant Sea Otters were the highlight of the zoo day!

Probably the biggest highlight while M was here was the cruise we took for Hfoe’s and my 5 year anniversary. The ship sailed for three days just out of Long Beach harbor to Ensenada, but the getaway was exactly what we needed. Plus, I felt like such a rich kid travelling with my own personal nanny! We had a delicious dinner every night and fun activities during the day. Chuckles really dug the kids camp and came back with a smile on her face after every session with them. M and I got some one on one sister time one night when Hfoe settled in early with the nugget. We went to see a comedian who, despite his title, really wasn’t all that funny and we decided to leave. Besides, the karaoke was far more hysterical to listen to! Hfoe and I also got a romantic date night which seems to be few and far between these days with the cost of childcare. So a big, fat THANK YOU to M for her gift to us of watching the kid so we could have alone time! We debarked the boat in Ensenada as a family and explored La Bufadora and the adjacent market place. We didn’t buy much, although I’m sure many a deal was to be had. M did experience a “first,” but I will let her share that story for herself!

Mini golf champs on the boat.

Once we returned to LA, we only had a week left with my sweet sister. I think the realization of that hit us and caused us to kind of take it easy, soaking in every moment those last few days. We swam at the local pool, shopped a little more and just watched movies at home pretending this is what we do every day…ignoring the impending reality. We spent Independence Day boogie boarding and barbecuing on the beach in Ventura, rounding out a perfect visit with a perfect, sun-soaked afternoon.

No trip to LA is complete without Sprinkles cupcakes.
Aunt M is a genius for sure…too much to carry? Use a sled!

I suppose this post is a bit of a diary of sorts for me. It’s not my typical entry, but I do have a message, a thought I hope to inspire among my readers.

Goodbyes are hard.

Cherish your family. If you live close to them, make time to see them. Some of us don’t have that luxury and it is a sad, heartbreaking day when you have to take them to the airport only to hear your two-year old shout, “STOP! WAIT! More kisses!!” as your baby sister walks behind security ropes to get on her plane back home. I love my family more than I can express and although I know three weeks with each one of them isn’t possible, I want it. I want them and I hold them each in my heart every day. And of course, we Facetime. Thank the Lord for genius technology! Who knows, maybe one of my smarty siblings will invent the next generation device to keep us “close” when we can’t be. Hey, while you’re at it, could one of you work on the teleporting thing?

 

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