Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Just James

An few themes have arisen in James' world.  Whichever parent isn't present at a moment of pain is the one he'd like comfort from.  Mommy is the favorite for getting him in and out of the car, but Daddy wields the power, evidenced by statements like this one, "no talk a me mommy, daddy a put you in time-out." and this one, "Daddy give you a hug and mommy be happy."

When I'm frazzled or upset James will say, "calm down mommy, take a big breath."  When Isaac is having a hard time James will say, "no be sad Isaac, I sing you a song!  'lead me guide me, walk a side me, help a find a way.  Teach all da I can do, a live an I love you.'"

I'll never be able to describe it in writing, but he says a few words in the cutest way:

"oookaaay mom."

"and be cuties!"

"no get me!"

"member dat?"

"yummy good!"

"daddy no go a work."

"oh my goodness!"

"and have chocolate cupcapes"

Favorite foods: melon (any kind, with a toothpick, the whole thing in one sitting), all fruit.

He is still a singer.  There is an inside joke song in the Brown family that goes like this, "go potty, flush, wash, turn off the light."  It has lingered from a FHE lesson, never to be forgotten, when a few of us, I won't mentioned names, needed a reminder of all the steps to that particular event.

The song resurfaced this year and James knows it by heart.  His favorite place to sing sacrament meeting.  yup.

The latest running joke: replace words, at random, with the word "carrot" We'll be reading a book and he will request that we interject the word carrot, "Goodnight carrot," "All by my-carrot" and "the pokey little carrot" are pretty hilarious.

He's chewing on everything.  He's like a puppy wearing down his teeth.

He loves Isaac, but he's taken to closing him into rooms lately. When I protest that Isaac needs to be able to come join us or I need to be able to hear him, James says, "Isaac no get me!"

James enjoys dishing himself up food at dinner, stirring bowls of batter or dough, making Isaac laugh, reading books with daddy, discovering lost items, and telling stories.  Often in the middle of telling a story about his day he will randomly insert, "and fwoooosh I throw it up in the tree" Not sure where that came from.

Every so often he has a tidy moment where he becomes concerned that his room is messy or I discover he has hung up his jacket without my asking or put his socks into his shoes on the shelf all ready for next time.

The other night he woke at 4:30 soaking wet and after changing him and stripping his bed I asked him if he'd like to come sleep in our bed for the rest of the night.  He nodded very excitedly.  I told him he could if he was veeeeery quiet and went right back to sleep.  He stated determinedly, "okay mommy, no wake up daddy, veeeeery quiet."  True to his word he said only 5 words before settling in sleeping.  It was so cute that last night when he woke again I let him join us.  Yeah, we are all done with that idea.  Now I remember why we have no kids in our bed rule.  If I had a nickle for every time he kicked me in the stomach...

We are buddy's him and I.  We talk stuff out and ask each other questions.  He's quick and persistent and I wouldn't have it any other way. 

He's learning to come up with explanations. Yesterday I reminded him that the apples in the fridge are for daddy's breakfasts so he needs to leave them alone.  This morning after getting Isaac up I found James in the living room munching on an apple.  He looked at me and said, "mommy, I just got a apple, but I save one for daddy breakfas', so daddy say it's okay."

Same concept at the grocery store.  I reminded him that things need to stay in their packages until after we check out and pay for them.  He gradually inched a new toy out of the packaging.  When he saw me looking he hastily shoved it back in and said, "mommy I just put it back in!  no take it out mommy just put it back in."  And somehow I end up thanking him for his good deed.  This kid.

The boys and I went to the mall yesterday to return an internet modem and James was starting to wander. I resisted the urge to chase him down and instead said, "okay we are going now."  I set off down the mall without looking back, straining for the sound of his shoes, hoping he'd follow.  Sure enough behind me I hear, "I commin' mommy!" Then halfway back to the car he started singing, "follow the mommy, follow the mommy, follow the mommy don't go astray."

Best story of all and then we will call this a post.  Yesterday he hurt Isaac and I rescued the littlest brother and huffed off to my room so I could cool off before addressing biggest brother.  When I came back out to arrange an apology he said, "mommy, I no sad!  I say a prayer and Jesus help me be happy."

Never in the history of our family has he gone from being in so much trouble to none at all so quickly.

Just Isaac

I keep thinking I've figured this little boy out and then he surprises me.  Isaac is my snuggle buddy.  So careful and kissable.  Being held and tender touches calm him right down.  If he is already sleepy I can kiss his face over and over and he will relax and fall asleep. He is also the SQUIRMIEST baby ever. I've had to dust off some old judo skills to get him pinned down for diaper changes and jammies. He has no idea that normally those activities only take a minute or so.  After he has twisted both feet back out of his pants for the 15 time I often just let him go pants-less.  Pants are over rated anyway, am I right?

Generally easy-going, he can be left behind in a room (after James has shut him in) and take a very long time to care that we aren't there anymore.  Maybe he enjoys a little peace and quiet away from bouncy older brother?

He is on the move. Stealthy and quick.  It took him a little while to decide it was worth it to crawl and he thought out his game plan very thoroughly before attempting, now he's a pro and crawls completely by the book. Two hands planted on the carpet, two knees where they should be, the only trouble he encounters is crawling right out of his clothes and getting a foot stuck on the wrong side of his outfit.

I keep touching on this but he is so deliberate.  Only rarely will he launch himself somewhere he didn't intend or topple over because of poor planning.  He looks first, tests the area, and then commits.  The first time he pulled himself up was the bathtub and it continues to be his favorite place to practice his pull ups, yet, he hasn't slipped once!

That being said, he has his fair share of bonking because of the a fore mentioned big brother.  Isaac and James are starting to play together which is stressful, but completely adorable.  I'm always nervous if they are out of sight because Isaac will put up with a fair amount of abuse before tapping out and calling for back up.

His generally chill disposition makes his moments of action all the cuter.  For example, his bouncer.  He works that thing!  Those legs no how to go!  The same thing happens when he is excited or scared.  The first thing to respond is his little frog legs.

He loves to eat, but only a little bit at a time, so my favorites are things that take a while to gnaw on.

Nursing... oh Isaac and the nursing saga.  The only time he nurses well is right after waking.  If I miss that window it's a total fiasco. Those legs for one thing.  It's like the bottom half of him switches into triathlon mode.  Second it must be dark and we must be alone.  The world is much too interesting, and if James' voice can be heard that means there could be a Hobbs style pounce being plotted and eating will have to wait.  Third he's a chomper.  Thank heaven he doesn't have teeth yet, because when they pop through our nursing days may be over.

My dear sweet boy, with his smooshy lips and big blue eyes.  His cheek to mine as we look at the world together.  These are precious days.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Reflecting on Motherhood: an Unrepeatable Story

The dust is clearing.

We have a new home, it's adorable.

Nothing fancy, just a little old three bedroom cottage, but it's painted red and white outside and the kitchen and bathrooms have subway tile, so what more could I ask for.

Austin is settling into his job, enjoying it for the role it now plays in our journey.

I almost every way my dreams are complete.  I have a husband I'm crazy about, two vibrant children, a home, and enough of everything that we can share.  I'm living the dream.

Someday's my dream is really hard.

I'm entering the world of sibling interactions.

Few things are as precious as watching my boys give each other a big hug.  The giggling and squealing are pure joy, few things are as horrifying as watching that hug turn into a strangling headlock with fistfuls of hair, scratching and biting.

I'm working on finding the right balance that allows them to be in the same room but keeps Isaac out of the ER.  We'll get there.

I've also developed a new theory.  If you've had a conversation with me in the last month you've probably heard it already.

Parenthood is a completely unrepeatable experience.  Let me explain.  Not ever again past or future will James Luther Fife be born to Tikla Virginia Fife.  This means parenting is nonscientific.  It can't be repeated therefore it can't really be explained.

I remember being rather unimpressed by the advice a received before becoming a mom for the first time.  It seemed the more experienced the person the more generic the advice.  The mom with 12 kids had little more than a shoulder shrug and a thumbs up.  The mom of 1 said "just love them."  Even my own mother, the fountain of wisdom who can do it all, came up with few nuggets for me.  Come on people!  That's the best you can do?

Now I get it.  My mom has never raised James or Isaac so she had just as much experience raising them as I did.

Sometimes I will get into a groove or have a successful teaching moment and I think to myself, I did it!  I figured out how to encourage healthy eating habits, or teach politeness, etc. but then I remember, nope, I learned how Tikla teaches James to do those things.  An unrepeatable, one time use skill, that applies to only me.

Now don't get me wrong.  There is a lot of good advice and genius solutions out there, and sometimes I come up with some pretty brilliant ideas, but there is no one size fits all solution for any given parenting challenge.  There is a reason babies don't come with a handbook.  And it's not because everyone is holding out on me.  It's because things don't work the same way twice.  I always thought the skills I'd learn as a parent would be, how to potty train, how to teach a child to put their toys away, how to encourage sharing.  That's not what I'm learning.

At first this was a depressing discovery.  What am I gaining if these skills are worn out after one wash?  Of course my children benefit, but what did I gain? Imagine the frustration of a chef who found that every time he cooked with onion it had a different flavor and texture.  How could he ever write a recipe?  He can't, all he can do is taste, smell, and poke his ingredients until he knows what he's working with and then create what he can.

That's when I realized it's not about writing a handbook, it's a story.  An unrepeatable story.  Uniquely mine.  Every piece of advice every possibility must be carefully weighed, prayed about, and tested.  I'm not learning how to teach someone else to do what I do, I'm just trying to become a better person.  I'm learning problem solving,  listening, and patience, selflessness,  and most important of all, listening to the Spirit of God.

Most days I learn the same virtues over and over and over.

And guys.  I think I've said this before, but mothering little boys is so physically taxing.  It's hard heads to the nose and fat lips.  It's pulled hair and poked eyes, tripping over toys and getting kicked in the gut.  The other day I was wearing a light flowy skirt and James came up and bit me on the behind. what!?!

Yet, somehow, it's the best thing I've ever done.  As a very wise cousin of mine shared recently, of all the ways there are to learn hard things and grow, aren't you glad this is the way we get to do it? By raising children of God.

It's spectacular.  It's the sound of "I love you," it's the outreached arms of a baby who doesn't want anything but the touch and smell of his mommy.  It's watching them sleep and kissing ouchies, it's giggles and songs and wonder.  It's listening to rain and flying kites.

James wanted a turn taking pictures.  I said he could and carefully put the strap over his wrist.  "Say cheese, mommy!" Surprisingly, he managed to take my picture!

Then he took off the strap and threw the camera into the driveway...

and that my friends is how it goes.