Monday, April 25, 2011

What Do We Do Now?!?

I know I have a great life, but sometimes I want to SCREAM!

The last couple of weeks with Claire have been incredibly difficult. INCREDIBLY difficult. She has the personality of a bull- she wants what she wants NOW, she wants it done HER WAY, and if there is anybody who tries to get in her way, she will FIGHT and SCREAM to get what she wants. She has started hair pulling- which really hurts. She whines and tantrums and screams ALL DAY LONG. I have gone to bed in tears at a complete loss of what to do. She even was able to get Grandpa frustrated yesterday, and that takes A LOT.

I am at a loss. I realize Ben and I are not the world's greatest parents (that goes to Kathy- the one who made the finger puppets for her Sunbeams), but I also know that we do a pretty good job. Our kids get bathed at least twice a week, and we do a lot of amazingly fun things with them.

So why the grumpy pants?!?

Seriously, if you have or have had a stubborn and defiant child (yes, mom, I realize you had one or two of those), I will take any suggestions of PRACTICAL solutions that actually worked. A reward system? Time-outs? Manual labor? Honestly, what works with a 22 month old?????

Yet again today (and yesterday) I realized that I am truly at my wits end. I decided to take the girls to get their pictures taken in their cute Easter dresses. Audra was a perfect angel- I can't wait for her pictures. They turned out so incredibly beautiful.

And, Claire? Well, hers did not turn out so well. But that wasn't the real issue.

I will be forever grateful that we left Claire's dress at grandma and grandpa's house last night. Because of that, I had to stop at their house to pick up the dress. Grandma decided to come with us. THANK GOODNESS SHE DID!!! Why? Because Claire just wanted to run around, throw tantrums, and disobey mom and grandma at every opportunity. Grandma spent the bulk of her time chasing after Claire while I tried to purchase the pictures. If it were not for her, I would have had to strap Claire in her carseat and leave her there by herself while I tried to buy some photos (which of course I would never actually do, so I probably would have just ended up in a fetal position on the floor crying. Being taken to an insane asylum would be better than dealing with Claire in public by myself).

Praying has helped slightly. While in tears last night, I asked for guidance. Today, while dealing with my little 22 month old terror, I was reminded of this picture:

Right after Claire was born, we took 26 month old Audra and infant Claire to get their pictures taken. Audra was beyond horrible- at one point she actually spanked the photographer. Yes, you read that correctly. I was so mortified and beside myself. I had to buy this picture, because Audra's face perfectly shows her attitude for the entire photo shoot. She was a brat- plain and simple.

But, 2 years later, Audra truly is a perfect angel- she is such a great child. She listens well, sits quietly in primary, and behaves as every mother would dream her child would behave.

So, we must have done something right. It all seems like a blur, however, so I am not sure what we did that was right. I am clinging desparately to other moms and some articles I read that said when children are ornery as toddlers, they end up being excellent teenagers.

Help, please.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter!

It was fun being the Easter Bunny this year. We got the girls matching dresses, which was really funny because Ben kept saying, "what's an Easter dress?" Yet another difference between boys and girls.

 It was pretty cold today so the Easter Bunny hid the eggs inside. Claire quickly discovered that the eggs had candy in them, and then just she would open the egg, eat the candy, and put the egg back. It was really cute.

Happy Easter!!!

Cutest Puppies

Audra found this Puppy coat and LOVED it. It's a bit small for her, but she didn't care. And, of course, we had to give Claire a chance as well.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Easter Party, Take 2

I have been told if you do something once, it is an experiment. If you do it twice, it is a tradition. So perhaps hosting an egg decorating/easter party is now a tradition. But, I hope it gets easier as the kids get older!!

We have been so blessed that Audra has so many awesome little friends- honestly, there is a group of girls her age who are just awesome (and I LOVE their moms, which makes everything so much nicer!). Claire isn't so lucky- she's the only girl her age- but the big girls love her, so it all works out.

Last year- due to lack of motivation on my part to decorate eggs- we invited her friends over to do them with us. It didn't go over very well, as after 1 egg all the girls were ready to be done. This year we invited them over again, and I think it went much better. It was pretty crazy- 8 girls running around trying to decorate 36 eggs, 24 sugar cookies, paint a little plastic bunny, and do the Bunny Hop. Whew! Thank goodness there were several moms who helped me out- I could not have done it by myself!!! And, thank goodness for a backyard where the girls could go and run out their energy!

Without further ado, here are the pictures:

 I put Claire in her high chair, and she seriously just sat there nicely for almost the entire time. Except when she saw the cookies- then she cried until she got one. Then she sat nicely again for another 20 minutes. Here she is giving me back the last of her cookie:

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Decision

You guys know I have been thinking about what I could do to be of greater service. I mentioned the idea of baking cookies, and after thinking more about it, that's what I decided to do. Here are the biggest reasons why:

1. I love that I can do this with the girls
2. Because I can do it with the girls, I don't have to get them a sitter- that's nice
3. I can still do other service if I so choose
4. It can be flexible- I'm not constrained to anything or anyone

and, the biggest reason:

I realized I can use this as a catalyst to teach the girls how to follow the Spirit. Each time before we bake cookies, we are going to say a prayer and ask Heavenly Father who we should deliver the cookies to. Even as a young child, Aud and Claire can feel the promptings of who should get cookies. I would much rather they learn how to hear the promptings of the Spirit when we are dealing with cookies rather than waiting until they are choosing a spouse or career or something major. We have such a finite time to teach them before they enter the world and the world teaches them, I love the idea that cookies can be a true learning experience for them in the most important of matters.

Obviously, I realize that cookies are not going to change the world. But, maybe we can change our little sphere.

Here we are getting started:
 Hard at work:
Look at this face- how could this not be a great idea:

 The finished product:

 And, of course, we had to test taste the cookies:

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Wildlife Experience

We went with some friends to The Wildlife Experience today. We got a free pass from our library which was SWEET!
Claire was continually telling me to "stop it!" in regards to pictures- hence her hand being up. Of about 40 pictures that I took, these are the only ones that turned out.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

My Cuties And The Fair

I couldn't resist posting some pictures of my cuties.

Claire is eating so her face is a little funny, but I wanted you to see her bow. For the first time, Claire actually ASKED to have her hair done, then she picked out a bow that she wanted. She has only worn a bow about twice before because she always pulls them out. But, dang, she sure is cute with a little pink bow in her hair!

Then, this little girl has some big news: She is no longer wearing a diaper to bed! For the past several months she has woken up dry, but I have been too afraid to switch her over at night. But on Saturday I asked her if she wanted to wear underpants to bed and she laughed and said, "NO! That's silly, mommy! I wear a diaper to bed!" So every night I asked her if she wanted to wear underpants, and every night I got the same response. But last night she came up to me and said, "I want to wear panties to bed!" And, she did, and she woke up dry and very excited, so I think we are done with diapers for her completely. (I never bought the Pull-Ups, they seemed like a waste of money to me, and Audra can put on her own diaper and take it off, so she didn't need them)

Volunteer Fair Update: I went to the fair. There were dozens of places seeking volunteers. Some of them seemed kind-of cool, and certainly they were all great causes, but none of them had that, "oh, I HAVE to do this one!" feeling. I did get excited because a couple of places need volunteers for helping organize big events, which I enjoy. We'll see. Like I said, I am incredibly happy with life right now, so I don't want something that I just think is cool- I have lots of cool stuff in my life. I want something that I think is unbelievably awesome and I just HAVE to be involved with in a small way. It would be much easier if I just really LOVED scrapbooking and that's what I delved into!

I just had the thought that maybe baking cookies will be it. I mentioned earlier that book that had the woman who made 2 pies a week to deliver to people who she thought needed a smile. Maybe I'll bake cookies with Audra once a week and we'll deliver them. Hmmm....maybe that's it. I like that it's a service that Audra and Claire can help me with, and it's something that wouldn't change my lifestyle or make me have to get a sitter. And, I would have complete control over it (I like having control), and I could choose who to give them to and it would be different people each week. It wouldn't change the world, but that isn't really my goal. I will have to think about it some more.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Sunbeam Teacher Jackpot And The Passion Behind It

Every week in primary (children's Sunday School), Audra's teacher does something amazing. They planted peas and got to take them home one week. One week they did finger painting and the teacher made them each their own aprons. Audra's favorite is a flashlight they got to take home- a reminder that God created night and day and we should be grateful. This week, however, she really outdid herself:

The lesson was on how God created animals, and for each of the 7 kids in her class she made finger puppets. The faces, stripes, and whiskers are all embroidered on. Then, she embroidered on Noah's Ark and their name. They have a carrying case where the animals go to sleep, as Audra says.

 I am hoping you can see some of the detail on these zebras- everything is embroidered.
Seriously, has there ever in the history of the world been a Sunbeam teacher who did so much for their kids? I totally feel like we won the Primary Lottery to get her. This teacher is a dear friend of mine, and her daughter is one of Audra's best friends. It is such a blessing to have somebody who loves the kids so much working with Audra!!!

This project alone must have taken her weeks to make. I told her this was an heirloom and Audra's kids would someday play with them. She said if some of the animals get destroyed or lost she would make new ones for me so they can be an heirloom.

Kathy has a huge passion for the kids and for the opportunity to work with them. I have to admit I am a little envious of her passion. I suppose right now my passion is geneaolgy- from which I am getting carpul tunnel- but there's not really anything in my life that has me so excited that I stay up until 2 AM because I have to get it done.

Don't get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE my life right now- seriously, I do. There is nothing I would rather be doing than staying home with the kiddos. I realize this sounds contrary, and I am not sure how to articulate this in a way that makes sense. It is not that I do not fill fulfilled, because I absolutely, 100% feel fulfilled. I do not miss work, I do not miss much of anything- I LOVE this phase of my life.

But, I do miss having that passion- that drive- to do something great. I am going to a volunteer fair tonight, and I am hoping to find a volunteer opportunity there that I can get passionate about. Preferably something where I am directly helping the poor, will only take a few hours a month, and will not take away from me being my kids' mom at all.

I guess there are some things I am passionate about:
-My kids
-Genealogy/temple work
-I'm getting more excited about organic foods and my own gardening- this summer will be a test
-Serving in my church calling (I hate to admit it, because I know someday this will happen but right now is not a good time because I have little kids, but I would really love to be a seminary teacher- that is something I would get very passionate about, and with my teaching background I am pretty sure I would be good- I know, I am cursing myself and asking to be humbled)

Ben wishes I would put "cleaning" on that list, but that will never happen!

Does this make any kind of sense? Now I am just rambling...any thoughts out there on what drives you (in a good way)?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

What To Do When Claire Gets Sick

I can't complain, we have had a very healthy winter. But, Claire has come down with a head cold and so we are currently under house arrest. This wouldn't be bad if both the kiddos were lethargic and merely wanted to lie around watching TV. But, no. Both are as wild and crazy as ever, which is difficult when cooped up- as I know many of you have also discovered! So while Claire was taking nap #1 today, Audra and I baked some cupcakes and then after Claire woke up we delivered them to some of Audra's friends. It ended up being a great way to kill some time! And who wouldn't love to answer the door to this sweet face?

Audra made some cards for each of her friends. I thought we would just go to one or two houses, but then Audra started listing off the names of all her friends, and I realized we didn't make enough cupcakes. Sorry if you didn't get any....      


Then, after Ben came home, I was able to go BY MYSELF and score some pretty sweet deals. I knew there was a consignment sale coming up, so I called a friend who is always super involved with it to see if she was going to the pre-sale, when all the volunteers can go in advance of the general public. I was hoping she might be willing to try and find something for me.  She offered to give me a pre-sale pass to go myself! SCORE! I went and got all the shoes for $18.50!!!  Normally, one pair of shoes costs about $15, so I would say I did pretty dang well! Girls need so many pairs of shoes, it starts early!
Some of you might think buying used shoes is oh so disgusting. Well, I don't- and shoes are incredibly expensive, especially when you need summer, winter, black, white, sandals, water shoes, etc. I'll take the cheap shoes whenever I can!

Not surprisingly, Audra was incredibly excited when I came home with the new shoes! Even though they were all too big for her, she insisted on trying on every pair and walking around the house. She would exclaim, "these aren't too big- they fit!" Even though they didn't. Here is our model with one of her new pairs:
Then, because this at least started out as a baking post, here is a cute little story:
Last week, King Soopers had their bakery cookies on sale, so I bought some because Ben loves them. Audra came home and saw them on the counter. She sighed a HUGE sigh, put her head in her hands, and exclaimed in complete exasperation:
"I cannot believe it! WHY did you buy CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES?"
I replied, "Because they were on sale and daddy loves them."
Again in complete disbelief, she  cried,
I guess according to her, CCC must always be made from scratch!