Saturday, March 22, 2014

Spring cleaning

With it being spring, and with our move coming up in a couple months, it is time for a serious purge in this household.  Over the past few weeks we've been tackling different areas of the house and rounding up items we no longer need or want: some to donate, some to throw away, some to sell.  Master closet: done (AGAIN.  We clean and organize the master closet at least twice a year and I can't believe how much stuff is in there every time.)  Junk cupboard, which is our version of a junk drawer: done.  My side of the bathroom vanity: done.  Attic storage: toy portion done.  Playroom: done.  Laundry room shelves: done.  We've posted several things on Craigslist and have already sold a few.  The water table was the first thing to go, followed soon after by the Little Tikes play house.  The Step 2 art table will be leaving us today.  It's great to be de-cluttering, and letting go of the things that don't serve a purpose here anymore.  If there's something that's not being used, or if we have way too many of something, or if things have too many parts that are being scattered to the four corners of this house -- time to pare it all down.  It is so refreshing.  It's nice to have a little extra cash too, for things.
Annie in the play house in 2010
But it's not so simple this time around to be selling kids' things, because we can't hide it from them.  People come to pick things up in the daylight hours, and they always want to know who's coming and why.  Tim says we shouldn't even try to hide what we're doing.  They have to know that we can not keep everything we acquire forever.  If we kept everything we would be in wall to wall stuff.  There is always another birthday or a Christmas and we have to make room for the new.  I try to not let my guilt show and just explain to them matter-of-factly that yes, we are getting rid of the ____ because it is not being used/played with/whatever else.  I like having some organization and being able to see the floor.  It would also be nice to get to the new place and not have to unwrap a million little things from boxes and say, 'Why do we even have that?' like last time. But it kills me.

Delaney acts as if we're selling off a part of her every time we sell something.  She just cried when she found out that the art desk with the little red stools was going away, and I really felt like poop.  I have tried to explain to her the importance of donating or selling the things you don't need or use anymore because it frees up space in your house, some other kid will play with it because you don't anymore, and we won't end up buried alive in our own stuff, blah, blah.  But I know I'm wasting my time.  She can't possibly understand that yet.  Nor can she understand how hard this is for me too.

Take the little art desk and red stools.  The desk was used only once or twice for its intended purpose -- probably in Quantico when we had it in our living spaces.  But once we moved here, we put it in the playroom where it has served as a giant paperweight ever since.  As a result it is in almost new condition even though it's five years old.  The kids do their art projects at the kitchen table.  I wouldn't dream of letting them take crayons and glue up to the playroom.  But those little red stools on the other hand..  They have been all over this house, and boosted three little people up to countertops, and supported  them as they reached for things in closets and on high shelves.  At first we thought we'd try to sell the desk without the stools because it's tough to part with something that has borne the feet of our children on a daily basis the past few years.  But we quickly figured out that nobody would want to buy the desk without the little red stools.  It makes no sense to hang onto them.  They don't even make the best step stools anyway.  They're too light and the surface isn't that wide, and they don't grip the floor the way a regular old Rubbermaid stool will.  But they're perfect for little feet.  I'm sure it sounded very callous to Delaney when I said, "Those are some pretty expensive stepstools we've been sitting on all this time."  I want her to know that I do care, that it pains me to see the stools go.
I see people buying and selling things all the time.  I know women who have bought/sold/traded all manner of baby and kid gear items.  One thing works for awhile and then it doesn't, so you sell one thing and buy another.  It's so practical.  But I wonder if it ever hurts to do it.  Right before Timmy was born I sold the little bassinet that I had used for Delaney and Annie as newborns, so I could buy a co-sleeper.  When I unfolded the bassinet and set it up to take a picture, it still smelled like Pampers.  Oh, my heart!  There are memories attached to every last thing I own, and there's always a reason to keep every single thing.  What a first world problem this is.  We have an overabundance of nice things, and it has always made me so happy to be able to give them something I think they'd enjoy, or to see them receive something from a loved one or a friend.  We have always been so blessed.  But I try not to become overly attached to things, because that's what they are, just things.  The kids don't seem to be overly attached to things either.  They abandon their best toys in favor of dirt and rocks.  But I know how Delaney feels to see something go away.  It's so final and you can't help but be sad.

A few hours have gone by since I started this post.  A man came for the little art desk and stools.  Delaney seems to be in good spirits again, and she's never one to hold a grudge.  But I hated to see her tears earlier.  I hope that she doesn't wind up on an episode of Hoarders 25 years from now as a result of her ruthlessly de-cluttering parents.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Family game night

For this Lent, in addition to giving up a couple things, we've decided to try "taking up" a couple things.  One of those things is a family game night on Sundays.  This has been so much fun that I think we'll keep it going after Easter.  I love that we can sit around a table and do this kind of thing together.  Even Timmy participates as best he can, and he cracks me up as he watches and learns from the rest of us.  He's a quick study too -- last night he and I were a team with Uno, and he was good at picking which cards to put down.

These games are a good thing for us all.  The kids learn that competition is fun and losing isn't the end of the world.  We all laugh.  We've gotten to a point where parenting isn't just feeding mouths and wiping bums.  It means having some fun little people to hang around with too.
This video of Timmy kills me every time: "I'm.. cake?  .. I'm chicken?" in that cute little voice -- I just want to squeeze him!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

The napping house, where no one now is sleeping

These two little boogers have been challenging the status quo around here.  

First, beginning sometime in January or February, Annie began fighting her nap.  She gave me trouble about it every day until I finally said, "OK, we'll make it shorter, and when you get up we'll do a craft or something together."  For awhile that appeased her, but I noticed she was staying awake in her room more often than not.  So I started calling it quiet time and just insisting she stay in there for an hour-and-a-half.  I had a hard time believing she was ready to drop that nap when not long ago she was passing out as soon I covered her up.  But she kept protesting and protesting until at last, with a sigh, I walked over to where she lurked resentfully in her doorway one afternoon and said, "You really don't want to be here for naps, huh, Annie?"  She shook her head no, her eyes becoming hopeful.  I said, "Alright, Annie, you can go up to the playroom for naps, but I need you to be quiet, OK?"  With a happy smile she whispered, "I'll be as quiet as a church mouse!"  And off she went.

I don't like change.  It always comes as a shock when my kids want to move on from where they are and where I am comfortable with them being.  But once she gave up the nap I realized I should be relieved because not long ago I'd been worried about how she was going to handle full day kindergarten next year.  I thought I'd get calls from the teacher that she was falling asleep in the middle of class.  Now I know she'll be ready to tackle a whole day of school, even though she is still adjusting to life with no naps (and being a huge grouch by the end of the day and giving me grief).  A friend of mine suggested that if she is getting really tired and grumpy in the afternoon, I can tell her she has to go rest in her room for just 10 minutes.  She will go willingly as long as she knows she only has to be there for 10 minutes, and if she really needs that nap she'll take it.  Excellent idea, and one that I'm sure I will try at some point.

At the same time that she decided to give up naps, she became very bored and restless all afternoon.  She kept buzzing around like a mosquito, from the time I got up from my nap to the time I started dinner, wanting to be entertained.  She has toys.  She has art supplies.  She has books.  She has the yard when it's not raining or cold, a rare thing of late.  And she has that stupid TV upstairs that I keep saying we ought to just get rid of, but we never do.  I wouldn't want to try it now that she's just stopped napping and I still need to preserve peace and quiet in this house for a couple hours a day.  I do unplug it for awhile from time to time, but I'm sure my kids watch way too much TV.  Oh well.  Anyway, I wasn't sure what Annie thought she wanted or needed from me, but for help I turned to the library.  I checked out my old favorite Little House in the Big Woods the other day, and decided that when I am done with my rest every afternoon I will read it to her until it's time to wait for the bus.  I'm sure that it's exactly what her restless little mind needs, and it's cozy quality time together besides.  But now we have another issue.

The little man has started climbing out of his crib.  Three days ago, I think, was the first time.  I had Annie situated upstairs and I was just waking up from my nap when my door opened.  I started to say, "Annie, what are you doing here?"  She knows not to come in until my door is open.  Then I saw that tousled little blond head bouncing above the foot of the bed, and he came up to me with a smile and said, "Hi, Mama."  For many months, I have had unbelievable luck that he hasn't tried this long before.  His sisters both started climbing out of their cribs when they were probably a year younger than he is.*  And I dreaded it both times.  I remember how long I held out in switching Annie to a toddler bed because I was pregnant with Timmy and her naps were going so well, and I hated to be making big changes right before a new baby.  But she was always a solid gold napper right up until a couple months ago.  Delaney on the other hand.. oh boy, those were some crazy times after she stopped sleeping in a crib.  It was like unleashing a little beast.  Then came Timmy, such a good little napper.  Thumb in his mouth, Wuddy in his hand, kisses and hugs, and out like a light.  All this time I just took for granted that despite the fact he climbs everything else, he hadn't thought to climb out of his crib.  It was as if he were inside a force field.  Once he was in he was in, and when he woke up he called for me and waited for me to come get him.  But all good things have to come to an end, I guess, and the boy couldn't stay in a crib forever.

Tim will be converting it to a toddler bed when he gets time today.  Yesterday I told him, "It's really time.  He's got bruises and scratches all over from catapulting himself out."  Yesterday's naptime was all kinds of fun.  I laid Timmy down with his 15 or so little cars and trucks, covered him up, turned out the light and turned Mr. Clock blue.  I instructed him that he wasn't to come out until the clock was yellow.  Then I dozed off for maybe a few minutes on my bed.  I heard somebody's footsteps and Annie talking.  And that was the end of resting for anyone in this house that day.  I found Timmy and returned him to his crib and told him he was to stay there until the clock turned yellow.  But he got angrier and angrier with every time that I returned him to his crib, and immediately jumped out.  If he had just opted to play quietly in his room after jumping out I would have just left him alone.  But he wanted the run of the house and that was not happening.  I emailed Tim, "Well, after yesterday I knew it was bound to happen, but today Timmy has declared all out war on naptime.  He has come out of his room and I have returned him at least 20 times so far.  He can be as stubborn as he wants about this, but ain't nobody more stubborn than me when it comes to naps in this house!!"

The two-hour standoff ended around 3 or so when I asked him if his clock was yellow, and he looked and said yes.  I said, "OK, naptime is over."  I flipped on the light and opened the door.  He said, "OK!  I'm happy now.  I not mad you anymore."

At bedtime he came out twice, but then Tim went in and told him if he stayed in all night until his clock was yellow, he'd be getting a big boy bed.  He didn't come out again until around 6:15, and when Tim brought him back to bed he stayed until it turned yellow at 6:45.  And then right in the middle of this, we have to set the clocks ahead tonight.. ugh.

I think (hope!) things should go back to normal once he's in the toddler bed because he won't be feeling trapped anymore in a baby crib.  Of course it might take some time for the novelty of no longer having to sleep behind bars to wear off, but I'm praying it will only take a couple days.  I miss having a break in the middle of the day, and I honestly see it as an essential part of my routine as a stay-at-home mom of little kids.  I've seen the wild look in the eyes of moms whose kids never allow them to take any kind of rest, and that will not be me.  I also believe kids NEED rest in some way, shape or form, whether they know it or not.  Timmy got a whiff of freedom and now he's going to fight for it.  He just wants to be done with baby things and with being a baby.  He bopped his Wuddy (lovey) in the face when I tried to hand it to him the other day at bedtime.  I'm waiting for him to give up diapers too (so jealous of the mamas whose kids go ahead and potty train themselves at age 2!).  When I call him "baby boy," he says, "I not baby boy.  I Fixer Man.  I fix trucks."  He puts a plastic firefighter helmet on and calls it his "fixer hat" and it's so darn cute how much he wants to be a man.  I can even get him to take a couple bites of an undesirable meat on his plate if I tell him that it will help him grow big and strong like daddy.  But nap again he will, make no mistake.  He will get it through his stubborn head that big boy bed does not equal optional nap.  Quiet time will remain a part of our routine.  I refuse to consider the alternative at this point in time.
Looking dapper in his new clothes
*Update:  My memory stinks.  It really is a good thing I have this blog because I forget everything.  After I posted this photo of Timmy from last night on Instagram,
 my cousin's wife commented asking me how old my girls were when they moved out of their cribs.  I looked back through my archives, and I see that Delaney was 2 1/2 before we had to switch her, not an entire year younger than Timmy is.  Annie had just turned 2 when we switched her, but she had been climbing out for a few weeks prior to that.  Neither of them were climbing out of their cribs when they were a whole year younger than Timmy.