honey, I wish you could see them now

They are soooo cute right now. We're outside on the deck. I brought out the little table (thank you Howard and Michelle!) and they ate chicken nuggets, pickles (well, guess who ate the pickles) and grapes. Now I'm finishing up the disaster of a dinner I made for myself (I used the leftover corn kernels and sauteed them with the summer squash we bought at the farmer's market. The summer squash was spongy and the whole dish, plus some linguine fini, is really gross). Anyway, 'A' was just getting onto her tricycle, which lives on the deck since last week, and said, "I'm going to California after I eat my grapes. 'H', I'm getting on my bike. You can get in the car and say goodbye too." And then, 'H' said, "Bye!" and got in her car!
They are so loving to each other and I just love it!

We went swimming at Julie & Scott's house this afternoon and had a great time.

Now it is just about time to get them upstairs and in pajamas.

saturday at the end of August

I realize that I have so many more photos of 'H' up than ones of 'A'. It has a lot to do with the fact that 'H' has a more active relationship with the camera. 'A' gets weird and funky when I pull it out.

You would think that since she can't walk yet, she wouldn't want to ride a bike yet, but that's not the case.

Dinner tonight included an Oprah recipe - corn and black bean salad. Delicious!

this is too funny to not post...

I don't have any photos, but this post is too funny to pass up. I got 'H's evaluation report in the mail today. It's a detailed write-up about what happened during the meeting and what they think of her. Here's the line that just cracks me up:
regarding her walking and gross motor skills -
"Discussion and demonstration occurred of strategies to work with personality characteristics that appear to be interfering with her motivation to walk independently."

Nice way to say: she's a stubborn girl and doesn't want to do things until her needs are met sufficiently

On a completely separate note, did any of you see the speeches by Bill Clinton and Barack Obama? I thought both were fantastic. I have been swooning over Bill for years now and I truly believe that he is one of the most well-spoken, intelligent public figures we have today. His grasp of current events and facts is just amazing. OK, I am done telling you all how much I love him...

Until last night, I wasn't a fan of Obama. I supported him only because the alternative is too scary to deal with. I referred to him as the "12 year old president." I couldn't understand why women cried when he spoke. But that all changed last night. I liked what he said and how he said it. I think he offers something that the democrats have lacked for what seems an eternity - hope, inspiration, and more importantly, he is positioning himself as an inspirational figurehead, a father-figure who wants to unite Americans and inspire us. I just love it. I love him. I wasn't a fan before, but I definitely am now.

OK, let's be completely honest here... if Bill didn't stand up the day before and remind us that he was even younger when he was elected, I wouldn't have made the switch from "12-year-old..." to "perfectly capable..." Whatever Bill says, I do. gosh, I just love him.

summer is winding down


It's Sunday night. We had a good weekend. Lots of family time.

Learning how to parent

I've spent much of the summer getting to know 'H'. She's different than I am, different than Jeff, and in some ways, her personality is completely opposite 'A's. 'H' is really lovable and bubbly and a lot of fun, but there are times when she gets frustrated and we aren't able to figure out what she needs or what makes her tick. I think we're finally making some breakthroughs on all sides.

Aside from her frustration, or maybe compounding it, is the fact that she doesn't speak as well as we would like her to and she doesn't walk yet. She's 17 and a half months old. She weighs 24 pounds. She's heavy and she needs to start taking some steps toward independence. I called the county and made an appointment for her to be evaluated by a team of therapists, with attention paid to the walking and talking issues.

The team came a few days ago and I was really impressed with them. They were very engaging, energetic and they knew how to get her attention. The evaluation was at the end of the day and 'H' had skipped her nap. I was ready for her to show them her worst. But what do you think happened? Well, since 'H' is an extrovert (something I tend to forget since the rest of us in our little family are introverts), and since she is naturally people-oriented, she had a ball with them. She did great, and when they asked me at the end if I felt that she had represented herself accurately, I said that yes, she had. Her scores were pretty much what we had expected - on track for some stuff, a little behind for speech and walking. She doesn't qualify for services but they did give me some pointers on what to do with her to get her to walk and talk.

One thing they mentioned that I also heard from the pediatrician a few months ago is that 'H' seems to "lack motivation" and her threshold for allowing other people to do things while she sits back and observes is higher than it is for many other children. After they left, I started thinking that it's our job as parents to help our children find their inspiration and their motivation. If we can help them identify it, then they will be able to tap into it throughout their lives. If you ask me about 'A': what inspires her? I can probably give you a pretty clear answer because she is somewhat similar to both me and Jeff. But 'H' is wired differently, and it's not easy for me to see it.

I thought about her personality type and looked up the Myers-Briggs applications for children (it's not Myers-Briggs because that's for adults, but there are variations of it that can be applied to children and parents so that both children and parents can better understand each other). I should probably disclose that I am a very strong INTJ and that is why I even care about the test to begin with - I once read that my personality type, which is represented by a very small percentage of the general population, is one of the only types that actually cares about the test. Anyway, I know that 'H' is an extrovert, not an introvert, and I know that she comes from a place of Feeling rather than Thinking. I didn't know about the Intuition/Sensing component (I don't think you can know that until they are much older) and I wasn't sure about whether she was a Judging type or Perceiving. I read a bunch of summaries and none of them seemed to fit her well until I came across the ENFJ type. I took some of the stuff they said about the ENFJ children and thought about how to interact with her differently. You know what? It worked, and I can't get over it.

One of the things I've learned is that she needs to have her feelings validated all the time. I don't need that, and neither does 'A', so for me to operate on a "feeling" level is new. When 'H' gets upset and freaks out, I start by saying, "I can see that you're upset." It immediately calms her down, and we can move to the next step. That works to a point, but until I had read the ENFJ info, I was stuck on the next step. I would try to explain the rules or reason with her, and that made her freak out even more. Here is what I am learning: she is a natural people-pleaser, and likes to make other people happy. She is a natural mediator and will avoid conflict unless it's absolutely necessary. She is the type that becomes the "teacher's pet" because she likes to make adults happy and show off what she knows, and she seeks out situations where she is "special."

Now that you know all of this, what do you think happened after the team of evaluators left? To recap, here's what happened that afternoon: she spent time being the center of attention, she listened to them talk with me about how to get her to walk and talk, and we all made a Big Fuss about her. So, it should have come as no surprise to me that she woke up the next morning and took her first steps. If that's not teacher's pet, people-pleasing behavior, I don't know what is!

I'm taking my new insight about her and trying to change my responses to her. When she wakes at night, I now go to her and do the "I can see you're upset" thing. Then, instead of saying, "These are the rules: it's the middle of the night and you have to stay in your crib and I have to go back to bed now," which works just fine with 'A', I say, "I want you to be happy and I know you want me to be happy. It would make me happy if you would lay down." And you know what? So far it's working! I would never think that it would be OK for a parent to tell their child that, but something about it resonates with her.

Incidentally, I applied this new set of responses to 'A' yesterday to see how she would react and it was pretty funny. She came to me, upset that she couldn't get something to work, and I said, "I can see that you're upset," and she got even more upset that I would even waste a second talking about her emotions when she clearly had more important things on her mind. "No - it's not working!" she said.

That's what's new. It's been keeping me pretty occupied lately. And we have been visiting and had quite a few visitors lately, so that keeps us busy too. Below is a photo of the rain and the sunshine last week. The weather here is pretty funky.

'A' starts preschool soon and I am really looking forward to the stability that comes with the school year. She only goes 2 mornings a week and I will still have 'H', so it's not necessarily a break for me, but I do like having routine and consistency in my daily life and that will come once school starts.

oh my....

When my older sister, Jennifer, asked me a while back to take her 7 year old daughter for a few days, I said, "of course I will!" I can't imagine saying no to such a simple request. "After all," I told her, "it's not like I need to alter much of my routine. I am already taking care of children all day long. She should fit right in."

Fast forward 8 days later, and I am beat. Not because of Nanette. It's because of 'A's and 'H's reaction to Nanette. They love her. They are crazy about her. The first few nights, 'H' refused to sleep, and stood at the edge of her crib, pointing to her door, saying, "Nette.... Nette.... Nette..." 'A' spent the first several days wound up, and she ran around and around. Finally, 2 days ago, I watched them settle in to the routine. In the afternoon, 'A' and Nanette each took a couch and made it into their "room," and they talked on their pretend phones to each other. It reminded me of my playtime with my sisters, way back when. "Just like sisters," I thought! Sure enough, 2 minutes later, they were really acting like sisters. They were arguing. Nanette sent 'A' to the principal's office for bad behavior.

We've done a lot of playing this past week. As I expected, my "To-Do & General Life Business" pile has gotten a little out of control due to lack of upkeep. My only complaint about my life is that I don't have enough time to keep up with everything. I guess it's good that my life is full and I have a lot to keep up with!

On Tuesday I bring Nanette back home and I am dropping 'A' off with her. Jennifer is taking them to my dad's house that night and I am meeting them there on Friday night. It's the annual beach party weekend for my dad's development and we all make a big effort to keep our calendar clear so we can attend. In years past, one of the residents funded a spectacular fireworks display and we all loved it. This year he's not doing it, so we'll have a day at the beach, followed by the potluck dinner and BBQ on the beach with family games, and unfortunately, no fireworks.

About Me

My name is Jillian. I started this blog as a way to experiment with my camera and it's a become a nice little spot where I enjoy spending time. I'm a mother to 6 and 4 year old daughters, wife to a cool computer guy, and mama to a cuddly cat. We enjoy eating local, organic food; managing several food allergies; homeschooling with love; spending time in nature; and we love to take time each day to be creative. You can also find me over at From Scratch Club from time to time. Welcome!