We were on a family walk today and I had a minute to observe my daughter from afar. We actually first stopped in our tracks to watch a small snake slither across the sidewalk and through the grass (I love that S is not afraid of them!). Then, just ahead, we saw a little bunny rabbit.

She scampered up ahead saying “I’m going to try to catch it mama!” but of course the bunny hopped ahead (you can see it on the left side of this photo). She started to walk a little slower, and actually got closer than I thought she would.

It was then that I took a minute to soak in the picture…she looked so tall. So big.  I remembered thinking that last night when I was hugging her goodnight. Her arms seemed so thin…her body was so long.  Gone were the days when she’d wrap her chubby toddler arms around me. This was a lean, growing girl, and she actually fit up against my body differently all of a sudden.

I know everyone says they grow so fast. I feel like when they are little, tiny, newborn babies, you lose sight of that because days and nights can feel like one big endless loop. But as the days go by, especially this summer – I feel like I’m acutely aware of just how fast my “babies” are changing.

Yet another moment when I wish I could freeze time and keep them this age forever. I’d take a lifetime of these hectic yet carefree days without a second thought. 🙂

 

my daughter was the mean girl today

So my daughter was the mean girl at the park today.

We had a playdate at the park with some friends. In fact, their whole family came, and our whole family went. It was a day I was looking forward to – it’s hard for me to take both kids to this particular park due to size and their ages – so since my husband was off work, it worked out perfectly.  When I told my daughter S that we were going to be meeting her friend L for a playdate, the first thing she said was “I don’t want to play with her.”

The two girls are a year apart – mine almost 5, L is almost 6. During every playdate, they have a great time. They always fight. They always cry when it’s time to go home. It’s a love-hate sort of friendship, I think.  My daughter behaves a little differently with L than she does with other friends, but I am noticing a trend. She is becoming very conscious of girls that are older than her (never boys) that know more, can do more, are taller, are older.  And suddenly over the last few months it upsets her very much.

So today, when L came up to me and said “S doesn’t want to go on the swings” I walked over to my daughter and found a pouting little one. She said “I don’t want to play with her. I just want to play by myself.” I tried explaining that we were only here for a little while, and the purpose of coming was to play together. That’s when she ran off and I figured I’d give her some time.

About 10 minutes, later, her friend L came up to me again. “S said that she’s not my friend and that she won’t be inviting me to her birthday party and that she’s not coming to mine.” Except this time she started crying. I walked back over to my daughter who was still in a crabby mood.  “S, we don’t say things like that to people. It hurts their feelings. It dips into their bucket. And, it’s mean.

I don’t care.” said my stubborn child.  I was SO embarrassed.  And sad for her friend, who I don’t think has ever said anything mean to my child. My kiddo was just being a rude, selfish, mean girl. Every time L would try to play with her, I could tell she would tell her to go away.

Then, when it was time to go, my lovely little girl said to L “I don’t care if we never play together again.” to which L started bawling. This was as we were walking to our cars, with me apologizing for my daughter’s behavior. I mean, what mom would EVER bring her daughter to a playdate if it was with my child, if she had this attitude? I certainly wouldn’t look forward to putting my kid in that position.

What shocked me was the lack of empathy in my daughter today. My daughter, the one who sets aside clothes and toys for donation “for the kids that don’t have any mama.” My daughter, the one who has herself sobbed when she has felt left out. Even during the short car ride home, I told her how disappointed I was in her behavior.  That we don’t treat other people that way.  She just plain didn’t care.

I’m really, really hoping this is a phase that passes. Because up until now, I was always so worried about how my daughter felt when other kids made her sad. I didn’t really focus on the fact that it could be my child that was doing the hurting.  But, I am laser focused on it now. I’m still thinking about how to talk to her about it again tomorrow. We did call L and apologize when we got home, but that’s definitely not enough.  Ugh.

to grandmother’s house we go

Today we visited grandma for the first time in about a year.  We see her at our house about two to three times a month – she comes to help watch the kids on an occasional Monday when my husband and I both have to work. But, it had been about a year since we made the trip to see her at her house (about an hour away).

Truth be told, she was a little irritated that it took us so long. But every time I thought about packing up everything little man would need (bottles, pack ‘n play, sound machine, portable high chair, etc.) just for a day I always felt like it wasn’t worth it since we saw her a few times a month already. So now that my son is down to one nap a day, he’s 16 months old and doesn’t need that much “stuff” – we packed up a few things and went for the day.

And I’m so glad we did. My almost 5 year old LOVED seeing Grandma’s house.  She remembered quite a bit from last year – the backyard, the tomato plants, the garden, Grandma’s room, etc. But there was also a lot she rediscovered. My husband’s toys from when she was little, for example. And the lemonade popsicles Grandma keeps in her freezer for her.  My son just had fun running around her house and backyard.

I realized that we need to do this more often. Seeing the joy on my mother-in-laws face, having both her kids at HER house was clearly so meaningful to her. And, I know that she won’t be around forever. And for all the times she drives down to our house to spend time with my kids – we should be able to make the effort to go see her where she is most comfortable – her home. Especially since she is a widow (although my brother-in-law moved back in with her…that’s a story for another day!).  The company is a nice change for her.

I feel like we thoroughly enjoyed our day. On the way home my daughter said she can’t wait to go back to Grandma’s house. I have such fond memories of my grandparents’ homes – I would love my kids to have the same. So I plan to make that happen for them! I’m committing to get them up there more often, so that they can look back and have the same kinds of memories I do of my youth.

It was a great day!

 

the training wheels are off

I put little one to bed tonight and jumped in for a quick shower before it was time to put my older one down.  I heard something outside my window and looked down to see this.

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My daughter has asked my husband to take her training wheels off.  I couldn’t believe it…I have distinct memories of my dad running after me, holding on to the back of my Huffy bike while I learned to balance.  And now here is my daughter, maybe slightly younger than I was, doing the same thing with her daddy.

I don’t have any photos of my dad teaching me (that I’ve seen, at least, in any of my parents’ albums). So I zoomed and grabbed this grainy shot so she will always remember it.  I can’t believe she’s getting so big, and how fast time is going.

Even though my little son was up last night and I’m exhausted today – I would gladly freeze time for the chance to keep them both little. In a heartbeat.

 

meal planning hack

I’ve discovered that one of the keys to my sanity is meal planning.

I know there are a ton of ways to do it – but I wanted to share what has worked for me. As a working mom it has made a ton of difference in how much less hectic my evenings are (but I think this can benefit ANY family situation!).

I pulled together an excel spreadsheet. There are 4 tabs (week 1, week 2, etc.). Each tab has breakfast, lunch, dinner for the week. Every Sunday, I move to the next tab, update for any grocery items I do/do not have (for example, if strawberries were not available at the grocery store, then I change to another fruit for that week). We do our grocery runs twice a week – once on the weekend and once during the week (the weekday one is usually for produce).

It has made a TON of difference. Anyone that is at home know what we’re having for dinner so can contribute to getting things prepped/started.  When my almost 5 year old doesn’t like what we’re having, I say “well sorry that’s what’s on the menu for tonight, see?” And, most importantly, it helps ensure my kids and family are getting a healthy rotation of various fruits, vegetables, grains and protein. It also prevents the meal ruts I always get into of making the same few things over and over again.

It has been a lifesaver.  My husband actually came up with the 4-tab method when he saw me updating the same sheet every week.  Once set up, it doesn’t take more than 5-10 min each Sunday and really helps keep us organized on the weekdays!

Happy menu planning!

the smell of summer

We’re hosting a BBQ for a few neighbors today and I’m so excited. There is something about hosting neighbors that is much less stressful than hosting friends that don’t live near you!  Maybe it’s just more casual since we’re hanging out in each other’s backyards anyway?  I don’t know…but I’m extremely relaxed about it even though I know I have a lot to do between now and 4.30.

I feel like I’ve been enjoying this summer more than the last few for some reason.  Maybe it’s because my kids are starting to get older and I’m realizing how fast time is going by. I love that our days are longer, our weekends are a little less busy, and we have summer vacations planned. Throw in park visits and splash pads and what more could you want?

It’s sort of in the air…that smell.  Of fresh cut grass, sunscreen, the occasional burger being grilled. If you stop and pause what you’re doing, you can really tell that summer is here.  I plan to enjoy my days as much as possible. Living in Michigan, I know that although we have a beautiful Fall season that will be here in a few months, it won’t be nice and “summery” like it is now.

Happy Summer everyone!

finding a teaching moment in a difficult one

Today was a tough evening for my almost 5 year old. She was playing outside with my husband before bed and saw a couple of the neighbor kids in their pool…with some friends.  Of course she wanted to go in, and had trouble understanding why she wasn’t invited.

I watched out the window as my husband carried her in, sobbing. Initially I was a bit mortified that we caused a scene outside, but as soon as I saw her my heart softened.

She looked so sad, so little. And she said to me, “Mama, I wasn’t invited. Why wasn’t I invited? Why didn’t they want me to swim with them?” I picked her up and sat on the couch with her, and hugged her. I could feel the disappointment in her little frame as she cried into my chest.

I realized that this was probably a teaching moment. That I should try to use it to explain that this is how it feels to be left out, and let’s make sure we show kindness so nobody else feels that way around us. So I tried.  I tried to tell her that that didn’t mean they weren’t her friends “but mama, they NEVER invite me to swim and I always see my other friends there.” (that was a tough one). Truth is, that does happen. We have had playdates with the kids that live there, but she hasn’t gotten a “swim invitation.” But I know it’s their home, their pool, and they are under no obligation to invite my child. I was in no way upset with them.

I know this is a lesson that my daughter would be learning soon anyway…the first of many. But it was so hard. The look in her eyes were of genuine hurt.  And confusion. Even though I tried my best to explain it to her in a way that she could understand (we don’t always have playdates with everyone, sometimes friends like to play with other friends) it really hurt my heart to see her sad. Because to her, it was so easy.  Everyone plays together.

But I used it as a lesson about inclusion. How when she is playing on her swingset with a friend, how she can call out and say “do you want to come play with me?”

Although she cried a lot last night, she woke up her usual happy self. I am hoping that tonight’s outside playtime doesn’t rekindle the same sadness, and that she knows what to expect and can move past it. I hate seeing my kiddo hurting, but I know this is the first of many difficult life lessons for her.