Friday, April 30, 2010


Yeah, yeah, it's supposed to be taboo and all, but this mama is not above bribing her way through a semi peaceful day.  Because the terrible twos have stretched into the terrible ones, twos, and now terrible threes as well, something had to give.  Stern words were laughed at.  Warnings were tested.  Time outs were apparently a chance for sisterly bonding.  While Grace was sitting in the infamous timeout spot, Emma Kate in all her sweetness would take Grace her sippy or a baby doll or sit beside her and hug her.  I mean really, Emma Kate, you are one big bundle of sugar, but I'm trying to prove a point here.

I think part of the problem was that we used to be able to rely on Grace's paci soothing her through these tantrums.  Where we could once stop them before they started with that magical wonder, we all just have to suffer through them now.  Also, she stopped taking naps.  She would actually still take one, I suppose, but if she gets a wink of sleep past lunch time, she stays up till way past midnight.  That schedule just doesn't work for me, thank you very much.  So now we've got a creature that looks like a sweet three year old on the outside, but acts like a hormonal teenager mixed with a rabid animal.

A friend told me I needed to find Grace's "currency."  Currency meaning the golden ticket to bribery.  It took a while to discover said currency because once the Drama Queen starts venturing down the road of defiance and fit pitching, there's no turning back.  There was nothing she wanted badly enough to alter her actions.  She has actually stopped mid tantrum to say, "Mama, watch me.  I'm pitching a fit."  Oh really, Grace?  I thought that ear piercing noise was the sound of an angel's chorus.  Thank you for clarifying.

The currency was discovered shortly after an outing that convinced me I was one step away from a padded room.  The outing occurred one Wednesday night at church that involved me chasing Grace around and around the wiffle ball field with her laughing over her shoulder.  I guess that's one way to get in daily exercise.  I'm pretty sure several calories were burned as smoke shot from my ears.  Anyway, that fateful day at Target happened shortly after when I saw Grace tremble with excitement over the sight of earrings.  Heart shaped, butterflies, ladybugs, pink stones, you name it, they have it.

As we were discussing her favorites, the light bulb went on.  Earrings are her currency!  I made her a sticker chart on pink paper (which she suggested) and she earns stickers for refraining from tantrums, following directions, and sleeping all night in her own bed (whole other story there!).  So far, she's doing pretty well.  Some days are better than others, of course.  But, I can whisper "sticker" and "earrings," and we've been able to avoid a few tantrums on her part and a few on mine. :)  When she gets the sticker chart filled, Grace earns new earrings.  I actually had to make Emma Kate a sticker chart too because we are an equal opportunity household, and she has to do everything Grace does (whether this is a blessing or a curse is yet to be determined).

I've also found that her dislike of her black car seat works in my favor when I'm trying to get her into the car.  We've had a real issue with her testing the limits when it's time to get in the car.  One day as Grace ran past the car and all around the yard, I put Emma Kate in the pink and yellow car seat and Grace was livid.  A new rule was developed on the spot.  First one to the car gets to ride in pink.  There's a back story to the car seat issue.  We got Grace a nice, neutral black car seat thinking we were being oh so practical.  A friend sold us Emma Kate's car seat which is yellow with pink flowers.  The first time Emma Kate tried out the new car seat, Grace's heart was broken.  Imagine the flailing toddler screaming "I waaaaannnnna sit in the pink cah seat.  I don't liiiiike this old black cah seat.  I waaaant the pwetty one!"  Since the new rule was developed, Grace gets to ride being cushioned by lovely pink flowers more times than not, and she earns a sticker because she followed directions by going to the car when she was told to.

This discovering currency thing is as exciting as the discovery of gold was, I'm sure.  It sets the bribery in motion, and in a house with not one, but 2 little ones in the midst of the terrible ones/twos/threes, bribery is almost a given.  A blessing, really.

Here's a picture of our sticker chart.  Grace and I talked about the expectations - how she earns stickers, and she is fully aware of which actions result in a sticker, and which ones prohibit her from getting stickers.  I know it looks like there are a lot of boxes to get to the earrings, but she has many chances throughout the day to earn stickers.  So, it shouldn't take long at all to fill it up.  Shouldn't.  But then again, we aren't dealing with an ordinary three year old here.

I'll let you know when Grace's sticker chart gets filled and how the earring retrieval trip goes.  Oh, and if you have any other suggestions for how to tame a sassy three year old, please leave a comment!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Looking Up

The other morning, it occurred to me that our vision is focused upward more than any other direction.  We're always searching for someone to imitate, someone to look up to whether we realize it or not.  This "epiphany" came as I observed Grace and Emma Kate sitting on the couch.  Grace was zeroed in on some preschool tv program, but Emma Kate's attention was focused somewhere entirely different.  She was taking in Grace's every move.  I watched her work to get her ankles crossed just right, position her hands around her cup of milk in the same manner, she even took note of the tilt of the head.  Grace had no idea Emma Kate was watching her, taking her in, imitating her, looking up to her.

That's how it is so often in our daily lives.  We're always looking up to someone, and someone's always looking up to us.  You've heard the saying: Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.  Eyes, both little and big are taking note of our every move and imitating us whether we realize it or not.  Grace has recently begun clearing the table after meals.  For months, side by side, we have completed this routine together.  I've never talked about it with her - clearing the dishes, where to put the uneaten food in each plate, wiping the table, loading the dishwasher - but those little eyes have taken note of every move so that she is now efficient and fluid.  The girls love to hang out with me while I get ready in the mornings.  Little did I know that it wouldn't take long for Emma Kate to be able to give the girl at the Estee Lauder counter a run for her money.  Their little hands move in the same way mine do as I complete these same tasks.  

It reminds me of song lyrics by Casting Crowns: Be careful little feet where you go, for it's the little feet behind you that are sure to follow.  It's up to us which kind of role model we want to be.  Choose wisely, for little feet are sure to follow.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Notes from the Never Files

We've all thought it.  "I will never...," or "My child will never..."  But how may times have we eaten those words?  I'd be willing to bet almost as many times as we said them.  It's really quite laughable - all the things I never thought would happen.  Here are a few notes from the Never Files.

Pottying with an audience
It's supposed to be a private matter, right?  But, last summer, after Grace had been potty trained for a few months, I realized going to the bathroom had become a family event.  Emma Kate, who was 8 months old was sitting on my lap.  Yes, my lap.  Grace was laying on her tummy with her chin resting in her hands in front of me. She erupted with cheers and proclaimed "Yay, Mommy!  You tinkled!"

Sure I've wondered about the color of shoes, or curtains, or dresses.  But, I never thought I'd be curious about the color of a dirty diaper.  No more explanation is needed.  If you are a parent, you've been there.

Leaving the house with various stains
I've always prided myself with looking put together.  After I became a mama, it was more like throwing on the  "cleanest" thing available.  I've left the house with spit up, snot, dried baby food, and who knows what else more times than I care to be pointed out to me.

Being a willing human kleenex
There are times when a wipe or tissue just isn't available.  Is it disgusting?  Yes.  Is it my finest hour?  Nope.  But, if it comes down between a toddler's meltdown over snot running down her face or my shirt getting a little facial liquid on it, the shirt is going down.

I never thought I'd be the mom toting a costume clad toddler.  I realized these words had been eaten when I introduced my daughter the tutu wearing, faux diamond sporting, lipstick donning princess to an acquaintence at Wal-Mart.

This is only a glimpse into the Never Files.  I'll post more at a later date.  Leave a comment and share your own notes from the never files!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Best Laid Plans...

I am a planner.  I get a rush out of making lists, going over plans on paper and in my head, and executing plans.  Sometimes, plans go just the way I expected.  Sometimes though, since I'm a busy mama of 2 even busier girls, they take a completely different turn.  Easter was no exception.  As with any event, I had planned, planned, and planned.  And, when Easter weekend arrived... life took over.

I planned on making potato salad and yummy cheese cake bars for our church egg hunt.  I ended up taking chocolate chip cookies and Chex Mix.

I planned on arriving at the egg hunt in a carefully planned outfit and tanned legs.  I ended up throwing on a skirt and a shirt that didn't quite lay right over streaky legs that were a result of applying self tanner in the dark.

I planned on cute pictures of still girls posing with their Easter baskets, but in reality, I chased around the girls snapping what I could.  These pictures turned out pretty cute anyway. :)

I planned on  the girls running into the living room checking out the loot from the Easter Bunny on Sunday morning.  I actually spent the morning cleaning up vomit.

I planned on Grace and Emma Kate getting to wear the Easter dresses I'd so carefully ironed and laid out, but they ended up spending the morning in their pajamas.  See previous plan.

I planned on church and lunch with my family, but the broccoli casserole and brownies I prepared were eaten at home by us while we were quarantined.

We did finally get to wear those outfits the next Sunday.

I planned  on a lot of things, and despite those plans not working out, Easter was wonderful.  I got to spend the holiday with the ones I love praising the God who saves.

Thursday, April 8, 2010


Emma Kate just turned 18 months old.  It's so hard to believe that one and a half years have gone by since she was born.  Since our number of kids doubled.  Since Grace became a big sister.  Since our world became sweeter and snugglier.

Before Emma Kate arrived, I worried that no child could shine enough to compete with Grace.  Grace is so vivacious and witty.  That saying about breaking the mold definitely applies to Miss Sassy.  I can't believe that up until a year and a half ago, I had heard about the multiplication of love, but didn't truly believe it.  Emma Kate proved that a mold of a different kind was broken when she was created.  Where Grace's conversation skills and sass make her shine, Emma Kate's affection and sheer sweetness brought a new kind of sun.  It didn't take me long to realize that there was no competition.  My girls are stars of their own unique shows.

It's hard to put into words just how sweet Emma Kate is.  Let's just say though that she has the ability to make grown men crumble with a single word or smile.  Just ask her daddy, Papa, Pop, and uncles.  With her head cocked sideways and a sugary "Peeeese," this girl can get whatever her heart desires.  And, her reciprocating "taint-yooou" is enough to make you want to give it to her over and over again.  She's polite too.  A "taint-yooou" follows each request granted.

A hug from Emma Kate feels like all troubles are lifted.  Those soft, little arms are always ready to give a squeeze.  There are few things sweeter than seeing Grace and Emma Kate hug each other or hold hands.  One hand slender, one hand chubby, grasping on to one another.  I hope they will always hold tight to one another.

She is as sensitive as she is sweet.  A stern look is just about all it takes to deter Emma Kate from doing something she's not supposed to do.  If a look doesn't do it, a stern word is sure to send her into snubbing, face covering, and a need to be reassured with loving arms and words.  On the other extreme, when Grace gets in trouble, she immediately starts telling you why her actions were justified and why you should agree with her stance.  Oh, they compliment each other well.  I think Justin and I are going to be in trouble when these 2 figure out how to work together on this. :)

Though, don't think for a second that Emma Kate can't hold her own!  Quite the opposite.  As she neared 18 months, the temper tantrums ensued.  Think screaming, back arching, head shaking, and limbs flailing.  Concluded with a hug no less! :)  Grace can't quite get away with her role as dictator these days.  Toys don't get taken away without a fight anymore.  And, sometimes, it's Emma Kate serving as the taker rather than the take-ee.  You know how you hear it's the quiet ones you have to worry about?  Let's just say quiet = sneaky.  Emma Kate knows to get something of Grace's, she has to quietly grab it and then run as fast as her little legs will carry her.  The strike and run strategy also applies to hitting, hair pulling, and pushing.

Also as she's turned a year and a half, Emma Kate is putting words together to make sentences.  On Monday, I told her to put something in the play room and she replied, "I will!"  I love the progression of language.  I know most people wouldn't notice, but hearing her talk every day, I can hear new sounds daily.  Last week, car was "cah."  This week, it's "caw-uh"  Last week, she said Daddy as "Da-da."  This week, it is full fledged "Daddy."  For a while, she has pronounced Grace as "Day."  Recently though, it has turned into "Dwace."  It's so cute!  I think my favorite recent word is help.  It comes out as a slow southern drawl with quadruple the number of syllables it needs.  Think "It's shake n bake and I helped."

As Emma Kate leaves behind the baby stage, she's loving baby dolls, books, Elmo, and tea parties.  It's incredible to think that a year ago, rattles, teethers, and bright lights rocked her toy world.  Now, she's moved on to imaginative play and cooperative play with her big sister.  It's amazing, scary, and exciting to think about how quickly our baby has turned into a toddler.  I can't believe we're almost to the 2nd birthday!  It's sure to only get sweeter!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

The Greatest Love Story

This weekend is Easter.  It's easy to get caught up in Easter dresses and egg hunts, and anticipating a visit from the Easter bunny.  But, we must remember that the greatest Easter story does not contain action sequences about hopping down the bunny trail, or the prize egg, or even the prettiest Easter bonnet.  The greatest Easter story is one of love, redemption, and hope.

The Bible tells us that God loved the world so much that he sent His only son to Earth so that whoever believes in Him can have eternal life (John 3:16).  Everyone is a sinner (Romans 3:23), and sin cannot be allowed in God's presence.  Even if you have never committed a major crime, in God's eyes, you are still a sinner.  We can never be good enough to get to Heaven on our own.  This is such refreshing news!  Knowing that there's nothing I can do to earn my salvation is a huge relief.  It means I can stop trying to be "good" and start living for Jesus!  God loves us so much, that He took care of that for us.  God loves us so much that despite man's sinful nature, He offered us the free gift of salvation through his son, Jesus Christ (Romans 6:23).

Jesus was both fully God and fully man.  This allowed Him to be the perfect sacrifice for the atonement of sin. The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23), and Jesus paid that price by dying on the cross.  In the moment of His death, God allowed all the sins ever committed to be placed on Jesus.  ALL the sins.  Big ones, small ones, sins that had already been committed, and sins that would be committed in the future.  Your sins, and my sins were atoned for when Jesus died on the cross.  This single act bridged the gap between man and God.  The ransom has been paid, and redemption is our's for the taking (Romans 5:19).

But, that's not all!  The story doesn't end with death.  The Bible tells us that on the third day, Jesus rose from the dead (Matthew 28:1-10)!  Jesus is alive, sits at the right hand of God the Father, and is waiting for His instructions to bring His children home.

Jesus is the source of all hope.  Without Him, our destination is Hell.  But, if you confess that you are a sinner, believe that Jesus died and rose again for you, and make Him Lord of your life, you have the assurance of eternal life (Romans 10:9).  God doesn't care who you were before salvation.  He doesn't care what kind of life you lived.  When you accept the free gift of salvation, your sins are forgiven and your old self is gone.  You are a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17)!

Jesus came to save all who believe in Him.  Not just the good, or the rich, or the well behaved.  We all need Jesus, and He wants us to all accept his gift.

Through Jesus, you can have hope that everything is going to be okay, no matter what the circumstances.  You can have the assurance that God is in control.  I can't tell you what a relief it is to know that I don't have to worry about every detail of the world.  God's got it under control.  Thank goodness that He is in control and has good plans for those who seek Him (Jeremiah 19:22).

This Easter is especially wonderful for my family.  My 9 year old cousin, Kayla asked Jesus in her heart today.  Today, she is a new creation.  Today, she is a child of God.

The choice to accept the gift of salvation is the most important decision of one's life.  If you have not already, I encourage you to make the decision today to make Jesus Lord of your life and start living this life of love, redemption, and hope.  Claim it.  It's your's.

Happy Easter!