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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love to the end

Jujubee was quite sick for a good couple of days, and then it took a long time for her to recover.  Thankfully, two weeks later, after a round of antibiotics and multiple breathing treatments, she seems to be fully recovered.  Whew!  Thank you, God!

When Jujubee was almost well, she and I were talking one night as I dried her off after her bath.  We must have been talking about her being sick and how she was feeling better, because then I told her how I got a bit scared when she was sick.  “Sometimes Momma gets scared that you’re going to die,” I said.

“But Momma,” Jujubee said, “If I die, then I go to heaven because I believe in Jesus.  And then you’d be happy!”

I said, “I would be happy about that, but I would miss you very much.  And Daddy would miss you, and your sister would miss you.”

“And Buggy would miss me,” Jujubee added.  (Buggy is our in-utero name for our upcoming baby.)

“Yes,” I said.  “We would be happy that you were in heaven, but we would miss you.”

Jujubee went on, “But then when you die, you’ll go to heaven, and we’ll be together!”

Our conversation went on like this for a bit longer, with me saying that I’d miss her if she was gone but I’d be happy she was in heaven, and with her telling me that I wouldn’t have to be sad, I could just be happy she was in heaven.

We got back to the bedroom that she shares with her sister, and I found Lyd crying on her bed.  “What’s wrong?” I asked.

Lyd sobbed, “I don’t want Jujubee to die.”

So, I gave her a big hug and said, “I don’t want her to die, either.  And I don’t want you to die!  But if you girls would die, I’m glad that we would be together again one day in heaven.”

We then talked about why we would go to heaven (because we believe in Jesus), and I again said that while I’d be happy to have my girls in heaven and while I certainly want them to be there someday, I would miss them if they went to heaven now.

All in all, it was wonderful to see Jujubee so confident in her faith, and it was wonderful to see how much Lyd loves her little sister.  Jujubee certainly loves Lyd, too.  Those girls continue to become better friends every day.  They are so excited to see each other at the end of the school day, and I often find Lyd reading a story to Jujubee in their bedroom.  They make up stories together, play games involving homemade letters and mailboxes, make art-related messes all over the dining room table and floor, dance around the house, create piano duets, and have no end to creative ways to play.  They sometimes fight, but they always love and protect each other to no end.

I’m blessed to have these two girls as my daughters, for sure, but sometimes I think that these girls are even more blessed to have each other.  They will hopefully be each other’s best and longest friend throughout their lives.  And they are such sweet girls!  It’s such a treat to be a mother my daughters.

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.

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!

Goodbye, nukker!

(I wrote this post back on May 17, three months ago, and it’s been sitting in my “drafts” file ever since.  I’m finally posting it now, but I added an update at the bottom.)

Long-time blog readers will know that for quite a while I’ve been trying to find a way to break Jujubee of her nukker [pacifier] habit.  She only uses it at sleep times, but she HAS to have it to sleep.  Over the past few months, I can tell that she doesn’t need it as much as she used to; when I check on her at night when I go to bed, it has often fallen out of her mouth, and she doesn’t wake up looking for it at night.  If it has not fallen out, I often take it out myself and set it on the pillow next to her.  For over a year of my life (probably closer to two years), I got up at least twice a night to replace the nukker once it had fallen out of her mouth.  So I have had years of nights of interrupted sleep.  And considering that with all of her health problems when she was an infant, she didn’t even start truly sleeping through the night until she was 16 months old …  I have had a lot of wakeful nights with my little girl.

However, I think that her days of using a nukker may be behind her.  Woo-hoo!

I mentioned before how in May Jujubee has been going to Kindergarten two mornings a week.  Earlier this week on Tuesday, I went to bring her home after noon recess.  However she begged me to let her stay for the afternoon part of Kindergarten.  “I want to have rest time with the kids!” she wailed.  I knew that she indeed DID want to stay for rest time, as she asks almost every time, and my answer is always “no.”

But on Tuesday, for whatever reason, I consulted with her teacher, AM, and asked her what she thought about this request.  AM said that it was fine with her if Jujubee stayed.  Jujubee was, of course, delighted.  🙂

I went down after an hour or so to check on how Jujubee was doing, just in case she was melting down and needed to be taken home.  But she was fine; the Kindergarteners have mats they sleep on, and my girl was still sound asleep on her mat.  However, the classroom lights were turned back on, all the other kids were up and working on an activity at the table, music was playing, all while Jujubee was still sound asleep on the floor.  AM and I discussed it, and I said that if it wasn’t too much of a bother, could Jujubee continue sleeping until she woke up?  That worked out fine, Jujubee woke up happy and excited to still be at school.

After school, I said to Jujubee, “You were such a big girl!  You took a good nap at school, and you didn’t even need to use your nukker!  Do you think you are a big enough girl to be all done with your nukker?”

Jujubee thought seriously about that a bit, and then said definitively, “Yes, I’m a big girl.  I need NO MORE NUKKER!”

Wow! I thought.  I said to AM, “If this afternoon of her napping in your classroom truly does cure Jujubee of her nukker addiction, then I owe you a huge debt of gratitude!”

I brought up the nukker topic again at supper tonight when Daddy was there, and Jujubee reiterated that she was a big girl and needed No More Nukker.  JJ and I looked at each other with an expression that reflected our doubts about how bedtime would go.

Bedtime soon arrived.  As the girls were getting ready for bed, to my amazement, without the topic even being brought up, Jujubee voluntarily walked over to her nightstand, picked up the four nukkers off of it, and pronounced, “I’m all done with the nukkers.  I’m going to throw them away.” She carried them to the garbage can and dropped them in one at a time.  Lyd and I looked at each other with astonished eyes, but neither of us said anything.

After bedtime stories and prayers, as usual, I asked the girls if they had anything they wanted to pray for.  Jujubee thought for a bit, and then said, “I want to thank Jesus that I throwed away my nukkers.”  And she did.

Unbelievable.

Over the past months, I have repeatedly told her that when she was a big enough girl, she wouldn’t need her nukkers anymore.  I told her that she could decide when she was done, and that she could tell me when she was done.  And that’s just what happened!

Interestingly, that was the same approach I took with Jujubee’s big sister Lyd when she didn’t want to poop on the potty.  She was fully potty trained, except she wanted to do her poop in a diaper.  So, while I allowed Lyd to poop that way, I gently but repeatedly told Lyd that when she was big enough, she would make her poop on the potty.  And one morning, just days before Jujubee was born, she did!  I praised her, and asked if she thought she was now big enough to do ALL of her poop on the potty, and Lyd enthusiastically responded that she was!  And, that was that.

Apparently, that approach DOES indeed work!

——————

Update: It’s been three months since Jujubee threw away her nukkers.  That first night, she had a very difficult time falling asleep.  It took her quite a while, and there were lots of tears.  Part of me wanted to cave, but the stronger side of me wanted her to be able to succeed.  So, when she cried for her nukker, I gently said, “You threw them in the garbage, remember?”  Jujubee cried then about being sad that she threw her nukkers away, but she didn’t ask to go get them out of the garbage.  Later that night, when she was finally asleep, I did rescue her nukkers from the garbage, washed them carefully, and hid them in the kitchen where Jujubee wouldn’t see them.

In the morning, I praised her for sleeping without a nukker, and I ignored the fact that there had been so much crying.  She was sort of proud of herself for making it through the night, but she reminded me that she was sad about it.  I told her it was okay to be sad, but that she was still a big girl.  That night, she cried a bit more, saying, “I’m sad about my nukkers.”  I hugged her and said that I knew she was sad, and that it was okay.

By the third night she told me she was still sad, but she didn’t cry about it.  She also went to sleep at her usual quick speed.

And from then on, she was okay without her nukker.  If you ask her today, she scoffs at nukkers and says that she’s a Big Girl and she Doesn’t Need a Nukker!  She’s quite proud of herself now.

In the end, I was very glad that it worked out the way it did.  It really helped that we didn’t have to deal with nukkers during the move and with our long trip to Wisconsin.  It’s all good.

And the nukkers?  I threw them away when we were packing up the kitchen.  She never knew that I had kept them, and she never used them again.

a new way to do her chores

A few weeks ago, an interesting event occured after supper.  My husband was gone for the evening, the toy room was a mess, and the dishes needed to be done.  I sent my daughters into clean up the toy room while I did dishes, telling them if they hurried, there would be more time for stories.

I slowly started my dishes, as the girls immediately set about finding ways to NOT pick up their toys but still look like they were doing their job.  After a few minutes, I checked in on them, scolded them, and went back to my dishes.

After a minute, Lyd came into the room and asked, “Mom, what if we did a race?”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“What if we each hurry to do our jobs to see who gets done first?”

Holy amazing smart child!  Who taught her this?  I wish I could say me, but it wasn’t.  But with an eager grin on her face, I knew she was on to something good.  As the song goes, “In every job that must be done there is an element of fun.  You find the fun and, snap, the job’s a game!”

“What a great idea!” I said.  “Let’s go!”

And, wouldn’t you know it, she worked diligently and quickly, much more diligently AND quickly than usual, and I picked up the tempo of my dish-washing.  I discovered I really could do that job faster than I usually did it, and Lyd suprised herself by how quickly she could put things away.

To my greater surprise, she became quite detail-oriented about getting Every Little Thing Put Away.  This is NOT the daughter I usually see when it’s time to clean up.  But Lyd was putting little pieces back exactly where they belonged, looking under the chairs and couches for stray pieces, even straightening and plumping up the couch pillows!

As luck would have it, it turned out that we both finished our work at the same time.  But, we both finished with smiles on our faces, jobs well done (because I’m detail-oriented as well, just usually at a slower pace), and with extra time for our bedtime routine.

Since then, Lyd has had more moments when she takes a job on herself and does it with great detail.  I’m so delighted to see this side of my daughter.  I always suspected it was in there (and her Kindergarten teacher last year said that she saw this side of Lyd often in the classroom), but I rarely saw it around home.  However, I think we may have turned a corner.

Tonight as she got ready for bed, she made her bed all by herself, folded her blankie, set her dolly on top of it neatly, straighted up the rest of her room, and then called me in to see what she had done.

“Doesn’t it look nice, Momma?” she asked eagerly.

“It looks absolutely wonderful!” I answered.

I am SO pleased.  🙂

giving up the nuk

nukker = nuk, pacifier, binky, plug, dummy

Jujubee still uses a nukker at night.  She is 3 years and almost 4 months old, and she still uses a nukker to get to sleep.

I’m not sure what, if anything, to do about this.

It’s not a big problem, except … when she is deeply asleep, her nukker often falls out of her mouth.  If, when she moves through a lighter sleep state, she wants the nukker again and can’t find it, she will cry until I come and remedy the situation by giving her another nukker.  Sometimes when I check on her after she’s fallen asleep, I will take the nukker out of her mouth and set it next to her on the pillow.  I want her to get used to sleeping without a nukker in her mouth, but I know that she will probably need it at some point in the middle of the night.

Sometimes her nukker falls onto the floor without any of us realizing it, and so when she wakes up at night trying to find her nukker and can’t find it, it inevitably wakes me up, too.  This is one of the reasons I don’t always get an uninterrupted night’s sleep, which I desperately need.

When Lyd was this age and I was trying to get pregnant with #2, I may have still been going to bed too late, but the sleep I got was uninterrupted sleep.  Lyd got over her dependence on the nukker somewhere between 18-24 months.  So, when she was young I almost always got solid sleep.  But interrupted sleep is very different.

I’d really like Jujubee to be able to sleep without a nukker, but unfortunately she really can’t.  It’s going to have to be her decision as to when she no longer needs the nukker to sleep.  She is completely potty-trained, so I know she has the mental capacity to make that decision.  I’m not sure how this will work out, but I hope it does.

The only good thing about this situation is that she doesn’t try to use a nukker at non-sleep times.  That’s good.  I don’t want a child who is walking around with a nukker in their mouth all of the time.  But, somehow we’ve got to figure out a way to drop this nighttime nukker business.

Anyone have any ideas?