Thursday, July 31, 2014

Lyrical Lyla (and the. most. watched. video on my phone)

Since Lyla was a baby, she's had an ear for music. Heck, her middle name came from McMister's favorite rocker!

My dad and grandma (his mom) are musicians, and though Calvin doesn't play anything anymore, he has a deep, deep love for it. So I figured our kids would have it in them, even though I don't at all, and Gracie surprised me (so far) with not much interest. In fact, one of the things she repeatedly gets low marks for at school is singing/dancing. Not that they are judging her talent or ability, she just refuses to participate.

Lyla, though, she sat on my dad's lap as a baby and literally put her ear down on the piano as he played. She's always been mesmerized by his guitar. And this picture. I didn't put this picture up here the first time because it was so hilariously, accidentally risque, it almost seemed inappropriate. But now that it's been about almost a year, I feel like she's enough removed from it for it to be OK.

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Rock. Star.

Last week, she started singing "a while ago" over and over again. McMister was getting ready for work and told her to grab that same doggie guitar to play some music along with the first song she ever wrote. When Gracie woke up a few minutes later, she walked in the room as groggy and as grumpy as she does every other morning.

"Play your song for Gracie, Lyla!" he suggested.

I knew Gracie would turn away and huff, upset that Lyla was daring speak to her at a time like that.

But she didn't. She did turn away immediately, but the more Lyla played, the more Gracie's head bobbed, and the bigger her smile grew.

"Play 'A While Ago' again, Lyla," she asked her little sister a million times that day.

"NO!" the typical, too-big-for-her-britches rock star repeatedly replied.

"Did you forget the words?" Gracie asked, honestly.

And finally, the video that I have watched so many times already and will keep on my phone always and forever for times when I'm feeling blue.

Gangster Lyla.

Becoming Mom

I had another moment this week, just like the one at the end of my letter to the girls way back here. One that made me want to stop time and memorize everything about the moment.

The evening sun cast golden rays as it set behind the trees. The whole yard now in the shade, a welcome respite from the day's hot weather, but the air still warm and thick. McMister was watering the garden, Lyla was chasing after him, and Poppy was sitting in the grass at my feet. Gracie rode past me on her hot pink bike with the white basket on the front and the wobbly training wheels on the bottom. She wore a Hello Kitty t-shirt and an over-the-top, fluffy tutu skirt. Her princess helmet topped her head and a simple smile graced her face. "Hi, Mom!" she said, as natural as can be.

I felt like a mom in that moment. Her mom. 

Not the wrangler of three tiny creatures. Not the food source for an infant or the line cook for two toddlers. Not the minivan chauffeur or the fight breaker-upper.

But her mom. The mom she'll remember from her childhood. The mom she's seen every day so far and will see every day for a long time to come.

The ease with which she said it was what took my breath away. 

"Hi, Mom!"

It was like it was nothing at all. But it was everything to me.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Weekly Wednesday Photo - July 30, 2014

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Little girls were napping.
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2 years, 1 month

Lyla has an odd reaction to going out on the boat with McMister and Gracie. She desperately wants to go. Will sob for the entire time they're gone if she doesn't go. But when she does, she makes it about 48 seconds before she hits the floor and begs to go home.

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First time riding in the single stroller without her car seat. Gracie's first time was here. Within days of the exact same age. Lyla was this age in November; so stroller walks weren't really a staple at that time.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The things we do for love. And sleep.

A few long weeks ago, Lyla would walk right up to me during the bedtime routine and say, "Me seepy goal. You put me in my bed." Then, get this, she'd lay in her bed quietly and go to sleep. Even though it was that way since she learned to talk, and pretty much just as easy for months before that, I was astounded every time. We had such an awful time with Gracie's bedtime for so long that I just could not believe getting a toddler to go to sleep could be so easy.

Well, then slowly, she started getting upset at bedtime, and for the past couple weeks, it's been all out WWIII scream-fests at night. One night, I'm not even kidding, you can ask my sister because she was here, I'm pretty sure she actually blacked out during the tantrum.

Thursday night, as McMister and I passed each other in the hall, going from one room to another, one toddler to another, with a baby waiting patiently in the "applesaucer" nearby, I said to him, "This has got to change. We need to give her more of a bedtime routine, like she gets," pointing to Gracie's room.

She was nearing the end of the screaming anyway, so we vowed to start the next night. I went back to my sleep bible, The Sleep Lady book, and re-read the chapters on 1.5-2.5-year-olds and the one for 2.5-5-year-olds. (The chapters for the first year are much more broken up if you're in the hunt for baby sleep stuff.)

The next morning, I took the girls to the store to buy a poster board for Lyla's very own sticker chart. "Stay quietly in your bed, and you'll get a sticker tomorrow morning!" I told her again and again leading up to bedtime. Every time thinking, She has never once gotten out of bed. Saying "stay in your bed" is like an automated trauma response from her older sister.

"RIGHT NOW?!?!?" she asked every time.

"No, you have to stay in your bed and be quiet first. Then you'll get one first thing in the morning."

"OK!" she'd exclaim with absolute thrill. "RIGHT NOW?"

This is not going to work, I thought.

That night, she was totally jazzed about the sticker chart. Until go time.

Scream. Scream. Scream. Scream. Scream.

"Well, at least she's not pulling our hair to get our heads down low enough to kick us in the face and run out of the room like the other one," I told McMister. "At least we're improving!"

The next morning, she piped, "Me get sticker now?!?"

Uh, no.

That night, I talked with her for a long time before I left the room about staying quiet, getting her sticker, etc. I knew it wasn't working because every time I'd move to more of an upright position to walk away, she'd start panicking. So, without even realizing it, I started in with the empty promises we'd given her so many times before. For example, one night, during a McMister-me trade-off, I walked in the room, and she shouted, "Me get candy for breakfast!"

"Is that what Daddy said you'd get if you didn't scream tonight?" I laughed out loud. "Well, nice try. But you've already been screaming since he said that."

So Saturday night, I started in with the promises that never worked before. One of the things I do to try to excite her about going to sleep is talk about the fun things we have planned for the next day. Swimming at Granny's house was on the docket; so I threw out there, knowing full-well none of these promises ever work, that I'd get in the pool with her the next day if she didn't scream in her bed. She stopped and looked at me like, "WHAT? You would get in the water? Is that even possible?" The look on her face truly was one of, "I literally have never thought of that before."

Assuming the promise wouldn't work, one of the Sleep Lady tips popped into my head, and I threw that one out there, too. "I'm going to go brush my teeth, I'll come back and check on you when I'm done."

"You come back check on me? Why?"

"Because I love you, and I love to see you sleeping. You look so warm and cozy."

"OK! You come back check on me!"

I walked out, knowing with 100 percent of my being that the screaming would start as soon as I walked out the door.

And... nothing.

A few minutes later, I went in to check on her, like promised, and she was falling asleep. It woke her up a little to see me again, of course, but at least she knew I was making good on my promise.

"I'll come back again in a few minutes to check on you," I said again, knowing I wouldn't need to.

She smiled sleepily, and I didn't see her again until the next morning.

"Who's going swimming today, Lyla?" my sister asked with the hugest grin.

"ME!" she answered.

"Who else?" my sister pushed.

"Mommy, Gracie, Daddy, Auntie Leslie, and Granny!"

She remembered.

So after nap, I loaded all the swimsuits into the car, including three for me since I had no idea which (or any) would fit my three-babies-in-3-ish-years body.

Once I had one on, McMister smiled. "You look... tall," he said.

"Yeah. Thanks, Babe."

Admittedly, it was kiiiiiind of fun to go "swimming." By swimming, I mean standing on the stairs with Lyla while she repeated again and again, "It cold!" Then standing by the edge while she "jumped" to me, with about half an inch of air between her standing straight up and being snuggled safely in my arms. Gracie was on the opposite edge of the pool leaping what seemed like miles from the edge to McMister's arms.

That night, when McMister and I put her in her bed, I said, "I'll come back and check on you in a few minutes."

"RIGHT NOW?!?!?" she asked.

"Uh, well... I can't really check on you right now because I'm already in here right now. I'll go brush my teeth, then come back and check on you."

"OK!" she smiled. "RIGHT NOW?"

"Uhhh, yeah. Sure."

"You checkin' on me?"

"Yeah, I guess."


And those same insane conversations happened again last night.

No screams at bedtime three nights in a row.

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Thursday, July 24, 2014

A solid daddy

We introduced Poppy to "solid food" this week.

McMister loves this time. Even though I nurse my girls to a year old, the day they start solids is the day McMister feels like he can give them a little more of what they need. Sure, it's a spoonful of bites here and there, but it's the beginning. A beginning he looks forward to every time.

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But look at these. Look at him with his other daughter. The daughter that is showing herself more and more to be just like me. Turns out, she's just like him, too.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Weekly Wednesday Photo - July 23, 2014

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Well, this looks familiar. Different season, different girl.

 photo 0D546D67-0884-4C55-9B4C-C0A40C3BEF16_zps2zbek5gw.jpg5 months, 3 weeks

I left Poppy on Gracie's bed with her while I reassembled the shelf she ripped off the wall. When I got back up them, Poppy had these giraffe ears on her head, and Gracie lowered her eyes and said, "This is awkward."

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Reflections in the water (or not in the water)

I've said before, in different words, that Lyla is a big reflection of me in a tiny body. And over the past few months, that reflection has shown me something I hadn't seen before.

Up until recently, I've spent my life feeling bad about my dislike for certain "fun" things. My tendency toward prissiness kept me away from a lot of things that are usually a given for people to love: swimming, getting messy, rides at the fair, etc. Those were never my thing, and I was teased and harped on for it as a kid and am, still, today. 

It's not a mean thing to tease someone about. It's not ridicule or bullying. So I took it to heart and accepted it as a bad part of my personality. It never even crossed my mind that it was OK to be the way I was. Honestly, not until Lyla started to show her personality did my eyes open to the way I had been looking at myself in that regard.

We drove 20 minutes to a nearby state park over the weekend, and Lyla's disdain for getting dirty was more evident than ever. Not even five minutes after our feet hit the muddy rocks did she announce, "Me all done. Me ready go bye-bye." Forty-five minutes later, "Me no like beach. Me go home."

I was frustrated with her for not enjoying herself. For spending 25 of the 60 minutes we were there complaining about and then trying to follow my directions to get the mud off her feet and shoes. 

And when I was squatting all the down, and leaning all the way over, with Poppy in the front pack and Lyla using my shoulder for balance. When I was physically off kilter trying to rub her sandals in the grass up above the beach, I realized it.

I realized I was helping her do this because she's my daughter, and I want her to be comfortable, but also because I know how it feels. 

Yes, you have to stay here because we're here as a family. No, you don't have to stay muddy because no one else minds the mess. She minds. And I mind. And if Gracie has made me more willing to get a little dirty to enjoy life with her, then Lyla has made me more confident in a part of me that lacked it all these years. "Prissy" is a part of me. And just these past few months, I've been OK with that. Seeing it in my little girl, loving it in my little girl, has shown me that it really is just a part of who we are. And it's perfectly fine. 

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