Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

summer rewind - part 1

Since I took somewhere around five months off from blogging, unsure if I'd come back to it at all, I didn't update here on a lot of the fun we did this summer.

Honestly, I was feeling pretty down about our summer this year. Whereas last year I had all the time in the world with these two little ones, this year I was juggling a lot more freelancing assignments and projects. Which was great! But also had me feeling a bit guilty.

Then, yesterday, I decided to finally get around to downloading the pics from my cell phone. I do this every 3-4 months because I really hate having a ton of pics on my phone. But what I was unprepared for were the sheer number of pics on my phone! I upgraded my phone in July, and apparently that meant I took a LOT more pictures than I did with my older phone, since its photo-taking capabilities were pretty poor.

So here are a few random shots from July:

 Fun at the Water Carnival!
 More fun at the Water Carnival!
 Even more fun at the Water Carnival!
 Millie this summer was finally tall enough and strong enough to be able to climb the spider web structure at our neighborhood park. Here, she's celebrating. 
 Of course, Lola had to show off just how far she could go too.

 Millie's developing her own sense of style.
 So this was taken while Ray and I were in the garage readying for our garage sale this summer. The kids asked if they could play outside and we're like, Sure!, not even taking note of the increasingly  black skies. About three minutes after this was taken, there were all sorts of lightning flashes that weren't exactly right next door but were way too close for comfort. Umbrella time was quickly forgotten.
 They sure did enjoy those two minutes of rain time though!

 Millie got a new-to-her Cinderella dress.
Which she subsequently wore every day for two weeks.
Complete with her Cinderella  high-heel shoes (not pictured).

 Lola got her long-hoped-for Mal costume. Don't know who this is? You must not have a Disney tween-to-be. Mal is the daughter of Maleficent, per Descendants, a made-for-TV Disney movie. And Lola's absolute favorite character these days.
 Our little actresses.
 Oh, we held snakes. Lots of snakes. Actually, the same 3-4 snakes lots of times.
Local science centers rock!
We also made some big ol' bubbles!
Gosh, I miss summer.
How long until June?!

Monday, September 12, 2016

biker baby

Saturday afternoon, after our family spent a couple hours preparing and canning salsa, I asked Millie, "What do you want to do?" and her response was quick, "New bike?"

New bike. Her "new" bike with training wheels. The one that she won at an Easter egg hunt about a year and a half ago.

It's not a new bike. It's a shiny new-looking bike. Pristine, barely any dirt on its bright, white tires.

That bike has been a thorn in my side all summer. I've tried so many times to get Millie comfortable on it, to get her to pedal. And then, when that wasn't happening, just to sit, just sit, on the bike.

But she has never liked it. It's too big, too intimidating. Too scary.

And so she meandered throughout the summer on her way-too-small-for-her tricycle.

But then came last Wednesday, when Lola was at school and Millie and I had all day together. It was too nice a day to be indoors and we'd already gone for a walk when I suggested, Hey, maybe, let's just for fun, let's take out that bike again, ok, no, no pressure, just for fun, let's just take it outside and look at it, maybe just sit on it for a few minutes, one minute, ok, just a few seconds. Please?

She wasn't thrilled with the idea. And she got even less thrilled when she realized I still enforced that no-helmet-no-bike rule.

But she obliged -- she tried.

She didn't get it, but she sat there and got her feet on the pedals and she pushed.

It didn't go. But she pushed again.

It still didn't go.

But she pushed again -- and this time it moved forward just a couple of inches.


A few tries and we happily called it a day.

For the first time, a big-girl biking session ended with her not in tears, but in smiles.

And then came Saturday, when, without prompting, without encouraging, she asked on her own, "New bike?"

So we went outdoors, she got her helmet, and I got ready to help guide her along.

"No Mommy help," she said.

She set the bike right inside the garage, right where there is the slightest of downhills to help her get started on her own. She pushed off on the pedals -- and away she went!

Somehow, some way, this little 5-year-old taught herself how to propel herself forward, taught herself how to pedal a bicycle.

Within a single day she went from needing me to push, steer, and control her every movement to flying around in circles around the driveway.

I watched as both girls rode circles around the driveway, thinking, knowing, this would be a life-changing moment for us all.


Friday, September 9, 2016

Friday funnies

In the summertime and well into fall, Ray has to work out of town and I frequently get lonely after the kids go to bed. Up until the time school starts, Lola occasionally gets to come back out and we watch some tween-ish movies together or just spend some Mommy-and-Me time.

Last night, while Millie was getting her jammies on, Lola snuck back to ask me, "Hey, can I come out of bed tonight after Millie goes to sleep?"

"No, it's a school night now."

"Oh. Well, can I come back out tomorrow night then?"

"No, kiddo, sorry. Daddy will be home then and I want to have some Daddy-and-Mommy time."

Then I get "the look." It's hard to explain, but it's the "Lola Look," as I call it. It's hard to explain but she kind of tilts her head sideways and arches her eyebrows, a kind of "you-don't-get-anything-past-me look.

"Oh I know what you and Daddy do after we go to bed," she smirked.

Wait, what are we talking about here? I'm thinking.

"Uh, what?" I stammered.

"I know what you do after Millie and are in bed."

She's too young for this, right?! Play dumb, Bethany, play dumb.

"Really?" I smiled back, hopefully convincingly. "And what is that, do you think?"

"Popcorn! You guys always make popcorn after we go to bed! I can smell it from my bedroom!"

I laughed a lot more than she probably thought appropriate.

And then kissed the top of her little head, "Love you, kiddo."

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Stories and smiles

We were at a family gathering recently when someone asked me just how long ago it was that I stopped working (full-time, out-of-the-home). I said that it had been at the end of April 2015, so not quite a year and a half, but around that.

Watching Millie playing with her little Frozen figurines, making up stories and adventures, they said to me, "It's just amazing how she has responded to you being home with her."

It might be my most favorite comment ever.

Her development, and to some extent her sister's as well, was always the main reason I stepped back from working. But as my number and frequency of freelancing projects has (fortunately!) increased, my time working with Millie one-on-one has decreased, especially this summer.

And as with all facets of motherhood, it has caused me to question more than once whether I was actually doing her any favors.

But when you stop and look back, just listen to her, there really is no denying at all how far she has come in these last few months.

I tried to take a video yesterday but it's too large to post here. Figures. I'll try again tomorrow.

For now, you'll just have to take my word for it, I guess: She's doing great!
 Yes, the dog is OK.
He's pouting because no one is paying him any attention.

Whereas last year I struggled to keep Millie off the iPad for too long of stretches, she is now actually rejecting screen times in favor of playing with her Annas and Elsas. She can sit and play for hours, the bigger Barbie-sized dolls caring for their younger (or smaller) mini-mes.

She plays with them in the bathtub, on the porch, in her bedroom, and anywhere else there might be a little table or ledge. They come with us in the car, and are never out of sight.

They talk, they fight, they sing, they dance.

I love to just sit back, out of sight and earshot, and just listen to her stories.

Sure, I never understand much. This is Millie's World, and while most of it is not clearly spoken, she understands it all. And once she has perfected a sentence or a description of what's happening, then she'll run in to tell me all about it.

She speaks clearly.

She speaks in sentences.

She speaks.

What gets me the most, though, is just how confident this kid is. Sure, she's a bit timid when she meets someone new. When they ask her name, she usually looks me first, until I encourage her to say it. And she will, softly, tentatively.

But she does expect the world to understand her.

Her favorite show these days is Shimmer and Shine on Nickelodeon, the show she calls "blue and pink" due to the genies' hair colors.

This morning, while I was rushing to get myself dressed, she had a few minutes of iPad time before school. I popped back into the living room to hear her talking to YouTube, trying to get it to find snippets of the TV show that she could watch.

"Blue and pink," she said, into that little microphone thingy.

It returned with various clips very much unrelated to Shimmer and Shine.

"Blue and pink," she repeated, this time more loudly, more slowly.

Again, it didn't understand (obviously).

I offered to help, quickly typing it in, and then pulling up all sorts of Shimmer and Shine fun.

"Blue and pink," she said, again, this time much more happily. "Blue and pink."

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

firsts -- and lasts

We marked the first day of the 2016-17 school year yesterday.

With Lola, as expected, there were a few tears and anxious moments, but, overall, she did great, battling through her nerves. Millie and I waved at the school bus as it took Lola away, toward her first day of third grade, and Lola looked out the window at us with a big ol' grin and enthusiastic wave goodbye: She was ready.

As for Millie, she and I marked her last first day of preschool. As I've previously explained, we decided to hold off on kindergarten until she is 6 years old, so this is her third year of preschool.

And, just as expected, the drop-off was less than ideal. She cried. But she does that. She just kept telling me that, yes, she was excited to go to school and see her friends, but she just didn't want to go alone.

"Not by self," she'd say. "Mommy too."

Yeah, it doesn't help that she goes to preschool at church and I frequently join her there for Sunday School, as a teacher. She just gets confused.

So I left her, in tears, but in good hands.

And when I returned six hours later, she was beaming and laughing.

Later, I told her I missed her while she was at school.

"Did you miss Mommy too? Or where you having so much you didn't miss me at all?"

She just gave me a strange look, as if I was joking. She told me she didn't miss me at all.

"I fun friends," she said. I had lots of fun with my friends.

So I guess that's as good as it gets.

We didn't actually see Lola again until suppertime, when she finished gymnastics.

She came out smiling and seemed super enthusiastic about her day. Yet, after just a few short snippets describing her activities, she said, "I'm super tired. I've had a long day."

So we spent the evening doing quiet activities and playtime at home.

I'd say it was a pretty successful first day.