things I love about my girls

There are many things I love about my girls, but here are some things that have specifically struck me lately.

Jujubee – I love when she sings to herself as she plays.  She makes up her own songs; sometimes I recognize the tune, sometimes I don’t.  But she loves to sing and play, and I love hearing her sing.  She knows that I like hearing her sing, too.  Sometimes I will tell her how much I like hearing her sing, so then at other times when she’s singing, she’ll stop and say, “You like it when I sing, don’t you, Momma?”  And I always say Yes.  🙂

Right now she’s outside riding her bike (with newly-inflated tires) around on our back cemented area, singing and pedaling away.  She just stopped by the back patio door, grinned at me, opened the door and said, “Do you like to hear me sing?”  I smiled and replied, “Yes, I do.”

I also love how much she loves to ride her bike.  She will ride around the cemented back patio behind our house for half an hour at a time – or more!  She and Lyd have taken to biking and scootering together in the backyard after supper.  The air starts to cool off a bit around that time, so they can work off a bit of energy before going to bed.  They make a lot of happy noise, and sometimes I wonder what the neighbors think, but *I* like to hear the noises of happy children.  🙂

Lyd – I love how she trusts me.  She’s having some problems in school right now, and I am SO pleased that she trusts me enough to cry out her stories to me.  At times like this, I feel like she and I will get through the hormonally-charged teenage years just fine.  She and I are very different personality-wise, but we’re very close.  Over the years, as I’ve gotten to know her better and watched her change and grow, I like to think that I’m nuturing her to become the person she is meant to be, rather than molding her completely into MY version of how she should be.  She will never be a mini-me in her personality, and hopefully I’m parenting her in a way that will allow her own unique personality to grow and flourish.  Of course, I am trying to teach her right and wrong as well as various life skills, but I’m trying to help in the way that’s best for her.  I think I’m doing okay.

Thankfully, she loves and trusts me, which I am SO grateful for.

I love both of my girls.  I really love being a Momma to girls.  I still wonder what it will be like to have a son, and I wonder if it can possibly be as rewarding for me as it is to parent daughters.  I truly would have been happy to have all daughters.  But, I firmly believe that God sends the right baby at the right time.  So, I’m sure that our new baby boy will be a good fit for our family, and we’ll all love that new boy very much.

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participating in church

Over the years, I’ve struggled with how to get my older daughter, Lyd, to participate in worship services at our church.

In the past, she’s resisted strongly.  I’ve pointed along with the words in our service folder to various parts of the service (ie. liturgy, hymns, Bible readings), and many times she has turned away at least her eyes if not even her head.  I have instructed her to stand when everyone else stands, sit when everyone else sits, fold her hands when we’re praying, and find the hymns in the hymnal when it’s time to sing.  However, she has not always done these things and has therefore gotten in trouble many times, too.

I remember one service at our former congregation where she was being so quietly defiant to me that after the service I made her go straight home — without being able to go to Coffee Hour, which meant no friends and no treats! Truly a horrible punishment! — and she and I “did” the service again in the living room.  We went through the various portions of the service, her and me, as we sat together on the ottoman.  She cried through most of it, but she did it.  That was quite some time ago, at least over a year ago if not even two years ago, but the struggles of getting her to participate in church have continued, if to a lesser extent.

But, I think I can confidently say that we’re past all of that now, and I now realize what has made the difference – she is finally able to read well!  Lyd is one who likes to do things perfectly the first time, and learning to read has been frustrating for her.  She has always been very good at reading at whatever ability level she was at, but I strongly suspect that from the start she’s wanted to be able to easily read whatever SHE wanted.  But, unsurprisingly, she hasn’t had that ability.  She’s had to learn the basics, like everyone else has had to, and she’s had to go slowly, making mistakes, but getting better and better as she went along.

But now she’s halfway through second grade, and finally, things are clicking for her.  She can sit down and read almost anything now; well, at least she can read whatever it is she wants to read!  And now that reading is coming much more easily for her, she’s much more willing to participate in church.  She sings along in her lovely clear voice to both liturgy and hymns, she participates, and while she’d still prefer to draw pictures during the sermon rather than listen, she’s getting better at that, too.

It’s interesting to see how much Lyd’s core personality is like her father’s core personality.  Perhaps that’s why it was so difficult for me to understand Lyd over these past years.  I couldn’t figure out why she wasn’t willing to try, and it got me very frustrated with her.  But it truly was just how she was wired.  As time has gone on, I’ve learned more about who my husband is by raising our daughter.  It’s been a learning experience for all of us.

I’m glad that Lyd is feeling more confident about her abilities.  She is intelligent and kind and loving and full of thought-full thoughts.  She is not a lot like me in her basic personality, but her own personality has been given to her by God and is just perfect for her.  She is truly a wonderful girl who is well on her way to becoming a wonderful woman some day.  I am very much enjoying watching her grow up, and I feel very priviledged to be her mother.

growing girls

Yesterday, Jujubee and I watched some videos of when she and Lyd were babies.  Lyd doesn’t really look at all like she did as a newborn anymore, obviously, and neither really does Jujubee, except for her eyes.

But as we watched videos of Baby Jujubee, four-year old Lyd was in many of the videos, too.  Jujubee is four years old now, and to be reminded of how Lyd was at that age was pretty striking.  Jujubee speaks now much the same way that Lyd spoke at four years old.  It’s neat to see the similarities.

After school today, Lyd and I were sitting on the couch as she shared with me some story from her day.  As she talked, I suddenly caught a glimpse in her face of the four year old girl she used to be.  She’s lost the baby look entirely, but she hasn’t lost her four year old look.  It was neat to see how much she’s grown and changed, if just for a moment.

Lyd is growing up so much, though.  She’s ridiculously tall and slim – and hungry!  She’s got a very healthy appetite, and she enjoys eating.  Jujubee likes to eat, too, but not quite to the same degree that Lyd does.  I’m sure that day will come.

It’s awe-inspiring and a bit sobering to watch these girls grow up.

more sisterly love

It’s gratifying to watch the relationship between my girls continue to deepen.

They don’t always get along.  Now that Jujubee is older, they can get into some pretty royal fights.  They can be quite unkind to the other.  They can be selfish, inconsiderate, and just plain rude.  I get plenty of practice playing referee.

But…

When they get along, it’s such a neat thing to see.  They can play well, playing off of each other’s ideas, and they are willing to help the other out.  It’s so nice to see.

Sometimes, they have a little TOO much fun together.  This past Saturday, I was busy working in the kitchen, making my post-Thanksgiving turkey soup, when I realized I hadn’t heard from the girls for a LONG time, over an hour.  I went in search of them, and found them putting “makeup” on their faces with red and purple pens.  Lyd explained that they were going to do a play, and they needed makeup.  “It’s Egyptian makeup,” Lyd explained.  They had drawn lines around their eyes, under their eyes, over their eyebrows, on their cheeks, by their mouths – all over their faces!  So, I put the kabosh on that and insisted that they clean everything off.  I only wish I would have thought to get a picture of them first!

Lyd’s a better reader now, so sometimes she will decide to read Jujubee stories.  Both girls seem to like that.  I’m good at adding lots of expression and emotion into stories that I read aloud, and Lyd often emulates that when she reads to her sister.  It’s pretty neat to see.

As far as their personalities go, they’re not the same by any stretch of the imagination.  Lyd is very much her father’s daughter, and Jujubee is very much a mini-me.  But for the most part, their differences in personality seem to work well in their relationship.  Lyd is hesitant to try new things, while Jujubee has no lack of self-confidence.  However, by virtue of being the younger sibling, Jujubee simply doesn’t know as much as her big sister does.  Therefore, it’s a boost for Lyd to get to be the leader to her younger sister, and it’s good for Jujubee to have to hold back a bit.  Their personalities temper each other, and they are so good for each other.  When I watch them interact, it reminds me once again that God really does send just the right baby at just the right time.

The girls really do adore each other.  They love sharing a bedroom, and neither one likes to sleep alone in a room.  They each have a twin bed to sleep in, but about once a week, I let them sleep together in the guest room on the double bed.  They always enjoy that – sometimes too much!  But I don’t mind hearing them giggle and whisper a bit; I know it’s just another expression of their love for each other.  After they’re finally asleep, I enjoy checking in on them and seeing them entwined together in some fashion as they sleep.

I’m so thankful that my girls have each other.  Their relationship as best friends continues to strengthen as time goes by.

money, money

(Dear faithful reader, I have a question for you at the end of this post – I’d love to hear your thoughts!)

Lyd has been really into money lately.  She loves to count the handful of coins in her piggy bank, and she likes the idea of having money to spend.  The girls and I took a walk around our neighborhood on Sunday afternoon, and we discovered two young boys selling a few of their toys on the sidewalk, trying to earn money for ice cream.  (I’m sure there was a story behind that!  :))  Anyway, there’s a toy, a large plush flower, that one of the boys encourages Lyd to buy, with some rudimentary salesman skills.  We didn’t have any money with us, but the boy insists that he’ll sell this flower to Lyd for one penny.  (Apparently his rudimentary salesman skills need work!)

Lyd asks me if she could use her money to buy it, and I say yes.  So, after we finish our walk, she gets her money, we walk back to the boys’ house, and she buys the flower.  However, I make her give him more than a penny; she gives him a dime, too.  The boys had given Jujubee a Cheerios book for free, so I give Jujubee a dime to give to the boys for the book, too.  The boys seemed very happy with their sale, as are the girls.

JJ is in Las Vegas right now for pastors’ conference.  Tonight I was explaining to Lyd what Las Vegas is famous for, and as part of that, I explained gambling to her.  I told her gambling was playing games for money.  “Oh!  Can I do that?” she instantly said.  She wants money.  🙂

It’s interesting, because I have been thinking for a while about starting her on some kind of allowance, but I’m not sure how to do it.  I have a few ideas, but I’m not quite sure what would be best.  I did not have an allowance growing up, so I can’t draw from my own childhood experience.

So, if you, dear reader, would be so kind, I’d love to hear what YOU do with your children.  Do you give them an allowance?  How much?  How often?  And how old were they when you started?

Thanks so much!

a test of love

The other night, Lyd was giving Jujubee a “test,” which consisted of L asking J questions like these:

L: What’s your favorite color?
J: Purple.

L: What’s your second favorite color?
J: Yellow.

L: What’s your third favorite color?
J: Green.
L: I thought it was pink!
J: Oh, yeah, it’s pink.

The questions went on like this for a while, with L asking J what her first name was, her middle name, her last name, the rest of our names, our cat’s name.  Jujubee seriously answered all the questions.  But I was absolutely heartwarmed when I heard this one:

L: Who’s your best friend?
J: You.

🙂 🙂 🙂

Of course, Lyd had to continue with this question:

L: Who’s your best friend at school?
To which Jujubee responded by naming off every single child in her pre-K class.  Very cute!

I later asked Lyd who HER best friend was.  She immediately responded, “Jujubee,” and turned to give her a huge hug, which Jujubee happily returned.

I’m SO glad to see how my two girls love each other!

musical harmonizing

My Lyd is blossoming into quite a musician.  Not that I would have expected anything less, given the gene pool she emerged from.  😉   But, still, it’s pretty amazing to see her musically develop.

For example, she is beginning to frequently experiment with vocal harmony.  More and more frequently, I am overhearing her trying to harmonize in the safety of our home, but I’ve even heard her attempting to create harmonies during church.  She’s not always “right,” but I can hear that she’s getting more and more “right” all the time.  It makes me want to harmonize more around her, just to give her a good example.  I remember sitting next to my mother in church and hearing her harmonize on hymns when I was a little.  She always harmonized certain hymn stanzas the same way, and even today, when I sing those stanzas, I sing my mom’s harmonies.

Ever since JJ and I returned home from WELStock, I’ve been listening to past recordings of previous WELStocks.  A few nights ago, I heard her harmonizing to the hymn “Abide with Me.”  That’s always been a favorite of mine, and I’m SO glad it made it onto the 2008 recording!  It’s also a great way for my girls to learn that hymn.

Lyd is even making up songs on her own.  I hear her trying out melodies, sometimes adding words to them, and sometimes not.  It’s pretty neat to hear.  🙂

I think it helps that I have given and continue to give her a wide musical palatte from which to work.  Over the years, she’s obviously heard a lot of Music Together songs as well as other quality kids musicians, like Elizabeth Mitchell (I love her album You Are My Sunshine) and Susie Tallmann.  But, even more than that, I try to expose her to other kinds of music, too.  She loves listening to Garrison Keillor’s radio show “A Prairie Home Companion,” because of the wide variety of musical styles that show features.  I love that, too!

Some music that I’ve listened to has not always met with her approval.  She was not at all into my eccentric pop-electric album “Details” by Frou Frou when I first got it about a year ago.  But, wouldn’t you know, I put it on yesterday afternoon, and I overheard her telling Jujubee at certain points, “This is my favorite song!”  (She said that to more than one song, which made me chuckle.)  And I heard her singing – and harmonizing – along to many of the songs!  I got that album because of the song, “Let Go,” which I still love.

The fact that Lyd is learning to like music that I like reminds me of when I was a little girl and my father used to put Barry Manilow records on and sing along.  I learned to love Barry, too, and I even own a few albums of his.  Ah, Barry.  🙂

Anyway, Lyd also was not into my Abigail Washburn and the Sparrow Quartet album that I discovered last spring thanks to a fellow Music Together teacher.   The album is a fusion of bluegrass and traditional Chinese music.  The concept sounds crazy, but it’s an amazing album, and I’ve now heard Lyd singing along to some of the more obscure songs on the album, songs that I don’t even care for all that much.  I think that is AWESOME.  Luckily, she and I (and Jujubee) love my favorite song from the album, called “Kangdinge Qingge.”  I don’t know if I linked the song to this blog when I first learned about it, but if you’ve got a few minutes, listen/watch the song on YouTube – it’s SO cool!  The basic tune is a traditional Chinese melody, actually a kind of love song.  I had a chinese family in one of my classes last year, and the grandma from china came to visit, and she only spoke chinese!  She was pretty surprised to hear me do the song in class, as it was part of that particular Music Together’s song collection for that session.  Using her daughter as an interpreter, I asked her to tell me more about this song, and she reiterated what our MT teacher notes had said.  So, this is one of the few actual chinese songs I (sort of) know!

And, one more composer that I should mention whom Lyd loves is organ composer Paul Manz.  She and Jujubee LOVE when I put on his organ music on Sunday morning as we’re getting ready for church.  I remember my parents putting on these same Manz recordings (on our record player, of course) on Sunday mornings when I was a little girl, and I think it’s neat that I’m now doing the same thing for my girls.  The girls dance around to Manz’s music – I think that’s so cool. 🙂

It will be interesting to see where Lyd goes musically in her future.  She’s got a great start!