This weekend my husband and I took our kids to west Texas for a family reunion. Each year, my dad’s extended family has a weekend long family reunion at a local church camp. The camp has a large dining hall with a commercial kitchen, cabins and RV hookups, swimming pool and playground. It is a wonderful place for a large group to meet up for several days.
The dining hall was the hub for the weekend’s family fun. Family members congregated before meals and lingered long after meals were eaten. Many conversations were had and games played around those tables.
There were approximately 50 people there over the course of the weekend and I probably knew less than half of them. I can’t actually remember the last time I went to one of the family reunions. It’s got to be at least over ten years!
It took Kora all of five seconds to make friends with the other kid cousins. She is two years younger than the youngest of the cousins. Most of the other kids were in the 8-11 year old range. Luckily, the age difference didn’t stop all the kids from playing together.
On Saturday morning, Kora and my mom found a baseball bat and a small wiffle ball and started to play a game of baseball. It didn’t take long before the big kids jumped in and started to play too. The big kids were very patient with Kora as she tried to hit the ball and then encouraged her as she ‘ran the bases’.
During the baseball game, Kora did something that completely baffled me. When it was her turn, she picked up the bat, that was nearly as long as she is, and tapped the ground like baseball players tap home plate. I couldn’t imagine where she had learned that behavior. We’re not big baseball fans, so we don’t go to games or watch baseball on TV. I asked her how she learned to do that and she simply replied, “George.”
Curious George! Of course she learned it from Curious George! Kora is a little sponge and she absorbs and remembers everything she sees and hears. It amazes me when she starts talking about something that happened months ago. One day I was talking to her about planets and I was trying to use the cartoon Ready Jet Go to help her make a connection to what I was explaining. She then starts talking about how “My dentist has Jet Propulsion.” Why does she remember that her dentist’s office had that cartoon on the TV during her appointment four months ago? That’s such a random thing to remember, but she recalled it as if it happened yesterday.
The other day as I was driving the girls to a playdate, Kora was playing with her toys in the backseat. I hear her talking about steam. She tells her toys that steam is just water. I ask her who taught her about steam. Her response? “Timon.” As in Timon, the meerkat, from Lion King. (Technically, Kora has never seen The Lion King. She watches The Lion King 1 & 1/2)
Seeing how much she absorbs makes me want to constantly surround her with new information and new experiences. It also makes me want to shield her from any and all inappropriate content that we might run across. I cringe when I hear something on a commercial that I feel a 3 year old doesn’t need to hear, hoping she doesn’t start repeating it. With Kora, she might not repeat it today; she might start repeating it in a couple of weeks.
I know it’s starting to sound like Kora spends all her time watching television, but that’s simply not true. She does love to watch cartoons, but we do limit her screen time. And we try to make sure that if she is going to watch cartoons, at least they have good teachers like George and Timon.
This summer I’ve been taking advantage of the Kids Bowl Free program at our local bowling alley. If you don’t know about this program, check it out here. I was skeptical about signing up my three year old, but she has been having so much fun bowling. She has a pretty funny celebration dance after she bowls – she usually does her victory dance before the ball even hits the pins!
Usually, if I take enough snacks with us, my youngest daughter will sit happily at the table stuffing her adorable little face. This last time however, there weren’t enough snacks in the world to keep this baby happy. Lila was content for the first half of the game and then she got sleepy and only wanted to be held. I ended up bowling the rest of the game with a baby on my hip.
It was weird, but once I started bowling while holding a baby, my game actually started improving. Before having to hold Lila, I didn’t bowl a single strike or spare, but after picking her up, I continued to bowl strikes and/or spares. I guess the baby corrected my bowling posture.
While I was bowling, I had a thought: Why is there no such thing as the MomOlympics? Why do we not have a contest that features moms and their amazing multitasking ways?
If there were a MomOlympics (and there totally should be) here are a few of the events that should be included:
- The Marathon – Moms would line up at the starting line with their child in a jogging stroller.
- Rock Climbing – Babies would be snuggled up in the baby carrier as Mom ascends the rock wall.
- Bowling – With the baby on one hip, the Moms would bowl one handed.
- Swimming – Mom swims while towing a child in a raft behind her.
- Baton Twirling – With every toss of the baton, Mom would have to bend down to tend to the baby.
- Paddle Boarding – Mom paddles while the child sits on the board at Mom’s feet.
- Dodgeball – The Moms play dodgeball while trying to keep their children from being pegged with the ball.
- Rhythmic Gymnastics – Mom would use the ribbon to not only entertain the crowd but also to soothe a crying baby.
- Curling – Mom would throw the stone while instructed her children to “Sweep! Sweep!”
- Yoga – Moms would twist and bend into the most complicated of poses – partially due to the nature of the pose and partially because they are reaching for their child in order to keep them from wondering off.
Along with the above already established sports, MomOlympics would also host events like:
- Lego Obstacle course – Mom walks through a land mine of Legos while holding a baby on one hip and carrying a load of groceries.
- Diaper Changing Challenge – Moms get timed on how fast they can change a diaper.
- Laundry Folding Challenge – Moms race to fold as many towels as they can while their children “help” (read: unfold) them.
- Grocery Store Challenge – Moms (with children in the shopping cart) would race up and down the aisles trying to get everything on the list before the kids start whining or crying.
- Potty Training Sprint – Moms must locate a potty and sprint to get their potty training child onto the toilet before an accident occurs.
I really think I’m on to something amazing here. MomOlympics could be an international success! Who’s up for a little friendly competition!?! I’d love to hear if you have any other ideas for MomOlympic events!
So the most ridiculous thing happened yesterday. I put Lila down to sleep, and then I went outside for a little walk (I had to make sure I got my steps in for the day!), leaving my husband inside with Kora. They both enjoy their father daughter time in the evenings.
Fast forward to later in the evening when Kora is sleeping soundly in her bed. Thomas informs me that Kora and gotten her hands on my phone and she had gone around the house taking pictures. This is not the first time she’s done this. She likes to take pictures of anything and everything she sees. It’s actually quite funny to watch her as she’s snapping away – she has to get very close to the object she’s shooting and she’s talking the whole time as if she’s coaching the subject in order to get the best shot.
I grab my phone so I can look through the pictures she took. I wanted to see our house through her eyes. To my amazement, she only took about 150 pictures – I was expecting more. There were pictures of her toys and pictures of shoes – outsides of shoes and insides of shoes. She took pictures of cabinets and got a good shot of our laundry hamper. She even got a picture of the inside of the toilet bowl! I’m just glad she didn’t drop my phone as she was getting that shot! Many pictures were a little blurry and some of the pictures were just a total blur. Kora did manage to get a smiling picture of her dad – “Say cheese!”
There were a series of pictures that made me giggle. My husband explained that Kora got a little frustrated that she couldn’t take a picture of the mirror. Because she takes close-ups, all she was capturing was herself holding the phone! I guess you can call that a selfie!
Then there was one picture that stumped us. We could tell that it said ‘DEXTER’, but we could not tell what it was. My curiosity was piqued, so I started searching for the mysterious object. After several minutes of searching, my husband joined in on the effort.
We searched everywhere, but we couldn’t find Dexter. We were baffled, yet determined to find it. We were laughing so hard because Kora had stumped us. We even joked that we were going to wake her up to help us solve the mystery! It was completely bizarre. We searched for half an hour before we finally found Dexter. She had taken a closeup of the embossed logo on the front door. It sounds a little silly, but I felt a strange sense of accomplishment once we solved the mystery of Dexter.
It was the most ridiculous scavenger hunt unknowingly created by a three year old. I’m thinking that I’ll start using this as a new activity for us to play. Kora can take pictures of things and then I have to go find what she photographed. I know she would enjoy it, and I hope she can continue to challenge me like she did with Dexter.
Have your kids ever unknowingly challenged you?
Yesterday was Mother’s Day, and I was fortunate enough to be able to spend the afternoon with my two girls, my mother and my grandmother. We didn’t have any special plans or do anything out of the ordinary. We just sat in my mother’s living room and watched the kids play. Other than four generations of strong willed women in one room, it was nothing to write home about.
But that’s what made it a great Mother’s Day. I was able to enjoy the company of my mother and grandmother while watching my two little girls play. I know there are many people out there who wish they could have had a day like I had.
A friend from high school recently lost his mother in a tragic car accident. I can’t help but think of him and his family this Mother’s Day. I grieve for him and his children as they mourn their loss. I know they would do anything to be able to spend one more Mother’s Day with her.
I also keep thinking of the friends and family that have lost children or who have struggled with becoming a mom. Mother’s Day must be a terribly painful time for them. I happen to be reading a memoir about a woman who struggled with infertility before finally adopting a child. In the book she writes about the staggering number of children in the United States alone that are in need of a loving home. I ache for the children who are motherless and for the women who yearn to be mothers but aren’t.
Mother’s Day is the one day of the year set aside to honor the mothers in our lives – mothers, mother-in-laws, grandmothers, or any other motherly figure. But is one day really enough? If the mothers in your life are anything like the mothers in mine, one day of celebrating is really not sufficient. Mother’s Day should be a yearlong celebration! We should appreciate all the things they do for us each and every day.
I love being a mother. It is hard work, and it seems like it gets harder every day. I have been pooped on, puked on, and as I write this, my daughter, who is sleeping next to me, reached up and pinched me! She’s sleeping and felt the need to pinch my arm. Motherhood hurts! But I wouldn’t trade a minute of it. These two little girls are my everything. I am continually being amazed by the things they do, and I love being a part of their lives.
Kora made me a mommy and Lila renewed my subscription. I love these little girls more than they will ever know and it a blessing to be their mother.
Happy Mother’s Day!
Today’s post is not about what I planned to write about today. I had a plan to write a totally awesome post, but parenting got in the way. I have a child with a fever today, who only wants her mommy.
My poor baby is trying to take a nap and just cried out, “Mommy!” So of course, I rush to her side to try and soothe her. I’m now lying with her in bed typing away as she tosses and turns.
So instead of spending any more time on my computer today, I’m going to snuggle and love on my baby. I’m going to lay with her as she has way too much screen time today – we’ll probably watch a lot of Octonauts and maybe even a little Pokemon.
Instead of writing what I planned on writing, I’m going to go be a mom. I’ll write that totally awesome post another time!
A couple of nights ago, I attended a lecture series given by the Department of Education of the town university. The evening consisted of twelve five minute speeches given by the university professors. Each professor gave an obviously brief summary of their research. The topics discussed included workplace incivility, the importance of nutrition in aging, girls in sports, and whether being a couch potato is genetic (turns out it is!).
The twelve talks were all quite different from each other, but I couldn’t help from chuckling at one similarity that I noticed. Each professor had his or her own way to say basically the same thing, “…so, what does all this research mean? Well, we’re not sure yet.” I found this simultaneously humorous and thought provoking.
Researchers can work decades on a project and still be years away from an end result. The thought of this was a little daunting to me. ” Who wants to spend the majority of their career on the same project,” I thought. Who wants to work years without know how you’re doing?
And then it hit me that I, in fact, had chosen to spend the majority of my ‘career’ on the same project. I became a parent. I don’t normally think of my children as projects, but I could. They are these tiny humans that need to be raised into big humans. It is my job to nurture them and keep them safe. It’s my job to raise them to be contributing members of society. And it is a job that takes years!
I work everyday to make sure that my little projects will grow up and one day become successful adults. I’m trying to teach them the skills they will need later in life. There are times that it would most certainly be easier (and faster) for me to do something I have tasked my toddler with. For example, I may have asked Kora to pick up her toys in her room. It would take me less than five minutes to go in there and do it myself. But what is that teaching her? That someone else will take care of her mess? So instead, we spend half an hour (or more) working on her room together. I like to think that I am teaching her organizational skills as well as being responsible for her belongings. I hope that I am teaching her to take pride in her personal space.
There are many times that Kora wants to “help” me do something. Let’s say she wants to help me make breakfast – she likes to crack the eggs and stir the pancake batter. I can crack an egg much faster and I can stir pancake batter without it flying out of the bowl and onto the counter, but I choose to utilize this teaching opportunity. I don’t expect my daughters to grow up to be chefs, but I would like them to feel comfortable cooking food. I think that kids that help cook their food are also more adventurous eaters. They take pride in their accomplishment and are more willing to eat food they might not try otherwise. Aside from learning how to crack an egg or flip a pancake, she’s also learning that it’s okay to make a mess (or mistake) and how to clean it up (of fix it).
I feel like parenting is a constant struggle between the “right now” solution and the “long term” solution. Perhaps my child is screaming that she wants a piece of candy for breakfast. The “right now” solution is to give that screaming kid as many pieces of candy as she wants so she will stop all the racket. She of course will be happy now, but what about in the future? I don’t want my child to have dentures before she graduates college. I don’t want her to learn that she can scream and throw a fit and get whatever she wants.
I try super hard to use the “long term” solution. I may have a headache from all the screaming and crying, but I stay strong and don’t give in to her. I want her to learn that no means no. I want her to learn healthful eating habits. I want her to learn that sometimes you don’t get what you want and to learn how to handle those upsetting situations.
The “long term” solution method is definitely not easy. It can be frustrating and loud and time consuming. It can make you want to pull your hair out. But it’s worth it. Or at least I hope it’s worth it…..I’m not sure yet. I’ll let you know in a few decades when my research is done….I mean, when my daughters are grown.