Our Cindy Lou Who

Okay, we are crafty and goofy and very holiday fanatical but….pulling off the Cindy Lou Who look is not easy! So…here is what we did…

We all want to say that all of our children and grandchildren drink 100% fruit juice, milk, and water all day long. But let’s face it….those little Hugs drinks are a better win than bug juice or Koolaid jammers when it comes to the grocery budget and the happy children! I mean, let’s face it…we are trying to wean FOUR children off of those sippy cups that ALWAYS end up lost and ALWAYS leak despite the claims. We have even bought those 360-degree cups that are “approved by dentists everywhere” in order to move them to big kid status but there is something satisfying about those little straws and conquering that apocalypse ready tin foil!

So, anyway…we LOVE hugs and, when the day came to go see “Santa” ( a feat that Clarabelle said that she only had to ‘just get through’) our love became the perfect support for the perfect look.

So, Cindy Lou Who…the most loved character of the Christmas spirit….has the most infamous hairstyle that we just HAD to recreate. Mommy (aka ..A) had just given the children a drink and was about to dispose of the containers when…

EPIPHANY!

 

20171213_095917.jpg

 

Yep..that is a Hugs jug in her hair!!!.

Clarabelle was delighted with her look and also understood that a “look” is just what you make it! Her hair was designed to represent the Christmas spirit but her smile was enough!

Bottom line…if you want to create the “look” then find something shorter than the length of the hair and use rubber bands to hold it in place. Find the biggest bow you can find and top it off. Then, tell YOUR Cindy Lou Who how beautiful she looks!

 

Just go with it!

Gigi

Happy Birthday, Elliott!

Elliott is TWO!!!

cake

I swear it seems like just a short moment ago that Ashley came through the house asking for a pimento cheese sandwich. “Ashley,” I asked blatantly, “are you pregnant?”

“No way!” she responded and continued to add that she always eats pimento cheese sandwiches.

My response was simple. “Ashley, no you do not. A) You always said it tasted weird on bread and only ate a few crackers with pimento cheese. B) I am your mother and know these things. C) You are pregnant!”

Days later, with the father pacing in front of my door, my daughter told me that I was going to be a grandmother again!

A few scares in the beginning of the pregnancy gave way to a relatively easy and seemingly quick pregnancy. Before I knew it, I was holding this beautiful baby in my arms for the first time!

EJ birth

I could not imagine a more perfect way to start out the new year in 2016!

Then, things got hard. Then, they got harder. It seemed that this perfect little man was going to have a rough way to go starting soon after his birth. But he just kept smiling through it!

Now, all healed up and home with his mommy by his side, he smiles:

mommy

He smiled and he overcame and he developed into the strongest person that I know! Nothing, and I mean NOTHING stops him. I don’t believe that anything ever will! In two short years, he has faced things that would shatter most but yet, here he is, a happy, healthy, loving two-year-old who is ready to take on the world (as long as the world has candy, trains, and his big sister!)

big sister

Whatever the world has in store for him, I have no doubt that he will smile his way through it and come out stronger, kinder, and unstoppable!

Happy Birthday, Elliott James!

“Gigi”

Take a Bite but DO NOT Bite: Ways we Confuse Toddlers

Have you ever experienced the shocking pain of someone so cute and dear to your heart closing their teeth firmly on your arm? OUCH!!! With four toddlers running around the house, obviously, we have all felt the cringing pain more than once. I remember discussing this with other parents when my own children were little and the answer was always something along the lines of “they are just figuring it out” or “this is just something children do!”

Okay, maybe if it is only adults who are falling prey to this “rite of passage” so to speak, then maybe I could accept those answers. However, again, with four toddlers we have ALL (children included) experienced this pain at one point or another as the four take turns transforming from sweet little children to the spawn of Dracula!

Usually, Clarabelle alerts us as to the culprit shouting “Elliott bit Gloria,” or “Braxton bit Elliott!” I mean, they are quick with it. One minute they are all sitting around with blocks and we think it is safe to refill cups and the next minute there is a shriek and an announcement of the bite!

As most parents and grandparents have done, I searched the internet for methods to stop this and these methods all lead to some form of punishment for the action and align the “fault” with either the child or simply development. To understand why I disagreed with these methods, you have to understand two things about our situation.

  1. These are my grandchildren so I simply cannot see “fault” in them (smiley Gigi face icon not available!)
  2. Seconly, one of my grandchildren was the victim of child abuse as an infant and one has Down syndrome. Punishment takes special circumstances because of these situations and we try to be fair regarding all four children.

With that said, punishment occurs in the form of timeout or standing against the wall but it is hard to assign punishment based on the words of a three-year-old (no matter how verbal and advanced Clarabelle is.) So, if we do not see it happen, it is really hard to punish over biting.

Besides, I got to thinking, there has to be a significant reason why most children at this age think biting is okay. I mean, I tell them one time on most things such as “the trash is dirty do not touch,” or “do not hit” and they generally comprehend what I am saying and refrain from these behaviors. But biting, for some reason, is different. It is like they forget following each incident that biting is wrong and that being bitten hurts.

During my whole thought process, I found myself snacking on some cookies. (Hey, it is the holidays so no judging)!!! As the children passed, I asked them if they wanted a bite….

Let me say that again. As the children passed, I asked them if they wanted a bite!!!

Wait, a minute ago, a bite was bad but now bite means cookie?

We work with children on context clues, vocabulary, synonyms, phonics, etc. but not before the age of 2. Maybe, just maybe, if we could use more specific words for specific actions, then they would understand the context clearer.

Granted, I realize that this offers little to no advice for all of us who are struggling with the toddler teeth situation, but I hope it offers a different way of thinking about a child’s behaviors. Sometimes, we expect that they should just know things. If that was the case, what are we here for?

 

If we do not teach then they will never know,

“Gigi”

Books and Family: Does it get any better?

Look at these four! How blessed am I!?!? I was in the kitchen getting lunch ready and the four children were being very quiet. Scary, huh?! But they were not fighting. They were not destroying the house. They were not into any type of mischief. Nope, they were sitting together doing the one thing that their English major Gigi has prayed that they would love to do….Reading!

All four of them were huddled around a book and taking turns pointing to the pictures to give their own rendition of the story either through words or sounds. It was 101 Dalmations so there was a lot of barking followed by a few “oh no’s” from Elliott who has recently been explosive with his imagination and everything that looks a little scary is met with this expression.  (He brought me a toy spider this morning saying “oh no!” and then chased me with it. Remember, I HATE spiders!!!)

Anyway, the words and sounds were not nearly as important as was the fact that they were all together (something we once thought would never happen again) and they were enjoying a book together by taking turns and sharing. It is amazing what togetherness does for cousins. It helps them to grow, learn, and form true emotional bonds. It brings them comfort and joy in a way that no other relationships can. It strengthens their sense of self and forms their sense of citizenry.

Every day, I get to sneak a little peek into their world. Truly, how blessed am I?!

“Gigi”

Smile! The Sun made another Spin!

Now that Mikey has landed safely in Japan, Clarabelle has noticed that Mommy says “good night” and “good morning” at weird times. She thought her mommy was being silly or that Mikey needed a nap. So, we reminded her about our discussions of the map. For instance, she knows we go up to West Virginia and down to Florida. She knows that California (where Mikey was stationed) is way across the map and she knows that Japan is across the water. (Pretty good grasp for a 3-year-old). But, we had never really thought to cover time zones. I mean, seriously, she is THREE!

Of course, she is a very inquisitive three-year-old and was not letting this go. So I found this video on youtube and we began to work through her questions. About 4 minutes into the video, she asked if we could switch to music. I asked her if she understood about the times and, as usual, she simplified it just right. “The earth spins around because we are supposed to share the sun. When we have night, it is Mikey’s turn for the sunshine.”

So, we switched to the music and went on about our evening. Isn’t it just amazing how simple life really is? If we could wake up each morning and realize that the other half of the world is sharing with us, then maybe we would be a little quicker to share with others.

So, this morning, as you sip your coffee and plan out your day, pencil in some kindness and enjoy the gift of sunshine!

May you all have a beautiful day!

“Gigi”

When Night and Day Conspire: The Boys in Action

Polar opposites without a doubt, Braxton and Elliott spend more time trying to get the other one in trouble than they do trying to stay out of trouble themselves. It takes every eye possible to determine if anyone actually touched the other or if they just want to see how far they can push it. It is a riot! For instance, Elliott will be sitting on the couch and Braxton across the room and Braxton will start screaming and pointing at Elliott as if he had caused the tears. If we tell Braxton to calm down and walk away, Elliott will then run up and try to get him to cry but typically get caught as we turn back around. The two of them are quite the duo!

Mostly because of Elliott’s injuries during infancy, we only use time out for punishment. We know that he was too young to remember the abuse and that spanking is different than abuse, but it just doesn’t make sense in this family to teach a child to not hit by hitting. Granted, every family is different and I am not here to judge anyone’s choices, just preempting the next part of this story.

We use time out and, as I have noted in previous blogs, timeout typically meant going to the room full of toys without the other children. Well, this did not seem to have any effect on their behavior so we moved to a timeout chair. Well, the other children would simply talk to them or they would watch what they were doing. Finally, we went for the wall. Now, most people would say the corner but I had one of those grandmother’s who collected EVERYTHING and Ashley, at around 4 years old, was sent to the corner there one day when we were visiting. The poor thing walked around crying and when asked what was wrong, she said, “I can’t find a corner!”  It was true. There was some shelf or basket in every corner so we found a spot on the wall to stand!

Now, even though Elliott and Braxton get along as well as oil and water on most days, they feed off of the other one for attention. For instance, if Elliott is throwing cars at the girls and gets sent to the wall, then Braxton will immediately do the same thing. Elliott, notably, stands more than a head taller than Braxton despite their only 3 month age difference so, to see these two next to each other trying to look at the wall is about the cutest thing I have ever seen. They hear us chuckle and, yep, they begin to do some cute little wiggle and off the wall they come!

They know exactly how to get to us. They know that they are the cutest duo and that I cannot resist them. If I didn’t know any better (which I do not) I would swear that the second one to get in trouble does so just so that they could work together to set the first one “free” from the wall! These two are going to be trouble one day!

A morning chuckle makes the day a brighter place! I hope you enjoyed!

“Gigi”

Understanding the Military: Toddler Talk

There are some things that we wish children would never have to understand. Death. Distance. Alienation. War. Danger. Just to name a few. But the fact remains, that these things do occur and this is the world that we are passing off to our children and grandchildren. Hell, this is the world that was passed on to each of us.

Today, Clarabelle and Elliott’s stepfather will be boarding a plane Washington state where he, along with other members of the United States Marine Corps, will check in to prepare for their flight to Okinawa, Japan. The following is our exchange this morning about his departure:

Clarabelle: Mikey is leaving today. Mommy looks a little sad. I feel a little sad too.

Gigi: Well, it is okay to be sad that you are going to miss someone but remember, he can call you a lot and he will be home before you know it.

Clarabelle: What if it is a long time? It is a long job to keep us safe. (This is how we had described his work…keeping everyone safe).

Gigi: Yes, well, when his time is up keeping us safe, someone else will take his place so he can come home.

Clarabelle: Maybe no one will have to leave their family to keep us safe. That would be good, huh?

Gigi: That sure would be good, baby. That sure would be good.

 

Isn’t it amazing that a toddler understands how wrong it is that families have to be torn apart because grown-ups cannot get along? A three-year-old should be dreaming of ponies and princess castles instead of world peace and safety. But this is her world. This is all of our world. And this is what we have made it.

It makes me sad that she is so aware but so proud of her awareness at the same time. Perhaps, one day, she can simply dream a little girl’s dreams.

Today, let’s remember the families torn apart and pray that one day, we can see the world through a toddler’s eyes!

“Gigi”