Wednesday, February 24, 2010

How to Really Love a Child

Be there.

Say yes as often as possible.

Let them bang on pots and pans.

If they're crabby, put them in water.

If they're unlovable, love yourself.

Realize how important it is to be a child.

Go to a movie theatre in your pajamas.

Read books out loud with joy.

Invent pleasures together.

Remember how really small they are.

Giggle a lot.

Surprise them.

Say no when necessary.

Teach feelings.

Heal your own inner child.

Learn about parenting.

Hug trees together.

Make loving safe.

Bake a cake and eat it with no hands.

Go find elephants and kiss them.

Plan to build a rocketship.

Imagine yourself magic.

Make lots of forts with blankets.

Reveal your own dreams.

Search out the positive.

Keep the gleam in your eye.

Mail letters to God.

Encourage silly.

Plant licorice in your garden.

Open up.

Stop yelling.

Express love.

A lot.

Speak kindly.

Paint their tennis shoes.

Handle with caring.

Children are miraculous.

I don't know who wrote this, but I like it. Sometimes I take parenting too seriously. While I know parenting is a serious venture, it doesn't mean I can't smile and have silly, ridiculous fun with my daughter in the process. I want to try to do better at this.

I want my daughter to picture me as always having a smile on my face and a love for life no matter what comes my way.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Valentine Surprise

Surprisingly, this past weekend turned into a very nice Valentine's celebration. I thought Valentine's weekend was going to consist of me accompanying a friend on a trip to South Dakota Saturday morning through Sunday afternoon, a quick dinner with my husband Sunday night (and possibly my daughter since babysitters are scarce then), nannying Monday morning (which I usually don't do on Mondays) while my husband watched a little boy from our church for me (which I usually do on Mondays), class Monday night, and trying to write a paper in there somewhere. Whew!


I found out on Tuesday that we would not be taking the trip to S. Dakota after all.

And then...

I found out on Friday that I would not be needed to nanny on Monday.

Those were enough changes to our schedule to get me all excited and thinking that I was going to plan a surprise get-away for my husband.

Well, you don't usually get released from two major duties like that in a row, so you've got to take advantage of that when you can.

What I failed to think about was that it wasn't going to be a walk in the park getting this little idea of mine together.

The first thing I had to do was find an over-night sitter. I tried calling my sister, even though I knew that she probably would have made plans with her husband for that night, plus her daughter would have school the next day. But Surprise! She was free to watch Allika and her daughter was out of school for President's Day. Yay!

Now, I had to make reservations at a Bed and Breakfast the Saturday before Valentine's Day. Yeah right! The first few places I tried to reserve were full. I finally found a room, and it was even less expensive than I thought it would be. It was in a historical building, furnished with antiques, and containing a jacuzzi tub. I was so happy!

I wasn't able to make reservations at the Melting Pot, which is where I really, really wanted to go, but I got in at Fogo De Chao. That's a really neat experience, too.

All I had left to do (I thought) was to keep it a secret from Van. That didn't happen too well. Thanks to a seven-year-old daughter and a husband who had to go and try to make his own Valentine's plans for me, he found out that I was planning a surprise, over-night get-away. I was still able to keep the destination a secret, though.

You are not going to believe this, but I totally forgot all about the little boy we were supposed to watch on Monday. After I had made all these plans and was starting to get really excited about the way everything was falling into place on such short notice, I suddenly remembered.

Now what?

I couldn't cancel reservations without losing money because it was less than 24 hours now.

I knew it was my own fault for forgetting, and I had nothing more to do than chin up, be responsible, and let the consequences fall where they may.

I decided to call and see if there was any way it would even be possible for me to be gone Monday morning. It was worth a try.

Lo and behold! Her kids were out of school on Monday, so they would be able to stay with him during the morning and I would come pick him up when we were done with our little excursion.

Phew! Now we were all set.


It wasn't until Sunday morning that I remembered that I needed to find someone to watch our dog. She has to take two pills a day or she will have seizures, so it was very important that I find someone to take care of her. A couple from our church graciously agreed to keep her at the very last minute.

The final thing I had to make sure was done before we left was write my paper. It was due by class time Monday night and I wouldn't have much time to write it between coming home and watching the little boy.

Thankfully, I got it written.

After all that scurrying around and stressing out, we had a wonderful, marvelous, phenomenal, and amazing time together. We played games, did some antique shopping, discovered a great new Mexican restaurant (of which we are connoisseurs), watched some of the winter Olympics, enjoyed the hot tub, tried a new culinary experience at Fogo De Chao, and just had fun visiting with each other. It was a much-needed and hard-to-come-by reprieve from all the hustle and bustle of our crazy lives.

I would really recommend a little time away for every married couple. If you say you are just too busy to make it happen, that probably means it's imperative that you do.

Thursday, February 4, 2010


My daughter turned 7 on January 29th. I guess seven is the stage where they are sort of caught between wanting to stay a little child and wanting to be an older child. The other day Allika got dressed very carefully and deliberately and then came out and asked me if she looked like a teenager. It kind of bothered me. I didn't like it that she was growing up. I didn't want her thinking about fashion and looking older than she is. She is supposed to be my little girl.

A short time later though, she was bumping elbows with a puppet and catching her wiggles in her hands to tie them up and put them in her pocket. Back to her old self.

I know growing up can be a little difficult on her, too. There is such a hard-to-find balance between being too little and being too grown-up. She pushes me away so that she can be independent, and then, calls me back because she needs me again.

I guess this is what the next several years will be: me watching her grow up too fast and trying desperately to slow things down, but all the while, knowing this is the way it's supposed to be and hoping and trusting that, by the grace of God, we have given her the tools she needs to go to the next level of life.

(Whew! What a nice, long, emotional run-on sentence that was!)

(Now, on to things a few feet closer to the surface.)

We had a little party at the Nature Center with some of her friends and family. My brother and his family came up from Centerville, IA to help us celebrate. It was very nice getting to see them and knowing that they had come so far to be with us. My sister and her family were also there, along with several good friends. It was so much fun.

We did an animal theme, so I had the kids do a little "animal hunt" where they found all the animals I had hidden. For prizes, I went to Half-Price Books (love that store!) and bought a bunch of brand new children's books about animals for .50 cents each. They were all different, and the kids loved picking out which one they wanted.

Allika made brownies for her birthday cake. I decorated it with my sweet decorating skills (ha ha).

The Nature Center did a presentation on the different adaptations of amphibians and reptiles and then brought out several different animals for the kids to touch and hold and learn about.

I think everybody had a lot of fun, and Allika got some really neat projects and things that she has been enjoying.

(The sign that greeted us as we walked into the room)

(Allika and several of her friends, waiting for the festivities to begin)

(Allika and her cousin, Tea, dressing up as reptiles and amphibians to show their different adaptations)

(The kids, observing a snake)

In the next few days, I will be sharing about what she bought with all her birthday money. Joy of joys!