Saturday, July 16, 2016

Thoughts on Time

**Note**I began this post last November, and I’m completing it now.  And, it's kind of boring, with a lot of talking about ME, so feel free to skip it.

For about the last year, I've been feeling like I need some way to express my individual identity.  It is so easy to constantly label myself and my actions in the context of my relationships with others, since all day long I am taking care of my girls, cleaning up after them, and teaching them all the things they need to know.  And that is NOT a bad thing!  Today (Nov. 3, 2015) I found a lot of satisfaction when Charly grabbed her applesauce spoon out of my hand (not that unusual) and then actually used it to eat all of what was left in the bowl (This is a first!  Normally she sticks her fingers in instead of the spoon.).  And I loved it when Lizzy Jo asked if we could have a dance party, turned on the demo music on our keyboard (with a little help from me), and then involved all of us in the dancing.

However, I know that the times I struggle most with my parenting role are the times when I am wishing for more time for myself and I feel like I can't get it.  I've been slowly making changes to address this problem, and I've had a few thoughts about it.  I read a book earlier this year, 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think.  The author, Laura Vanderkam, made me think a lot about how I choose to spend my time.  It is an amazing book, with lots of examples of how people prioritize what is really important to them.  I think one of the most important messages of the book is that we all have the same amount of time, and if you choose to spend your time on what's important to you (not what you think everyone else thinks is important), you'll find a lot more satisfaction in what you're doing.

So, applying that idea to my situation, I first had to honestly acknowledge that my choices about how I spend my time are my choices.  Sometimes I feel trapped by being a mother. Ouch! Does that square with my happy feelings about my children that I already wrote about?  Yes, it does.  I'm mostly happy as a stay-at-home mom, but there are always going to be frustrations and things that I can't control.  These have lead me to feel trapped, and they will until I acknowledge that I chose to have these beautiful children, I chose to be a stay-at-home mom, and I continue to choose it each day that I am a stay-at-home mom.  I could get a full-time job and put my kids in daycare.  I'd still have to deal with the many frustrating aspects of parenthood. That is not what I have chosen to do, so it's important that I focus on the positive parts of what I have chosen, or decide to change if my priorities change.

Second, I had to appreciate the time I have each week.  I have a lot, whether I choose to spend it on myself, my children, my husband, my church attendance and service, my work, or wasting time on Facebook and TV.  I don't need more time.  What I do need to do is decide what is most important (and why, so that later I remember why I prioritized it) and then minimize, ignore, or pawn off to another person everything else.

Part of implementing this idea is deciding on the time of day that I do things, so I can fit in the things that are most important.  Starting in April 2015, I had been getting up and running with a friend at 5:30am several mornings a week.  Running is important to me.  It’s satisfying, it’s challenging, and it gives me some much needed exercise.  But later in the year an opportunity came up to tutor two Russian children online, from 5-7am.  I decided to change my focus at that time of the day, since that was the only time that I could tutor these kids, I wanted to get some different work experience, and the weather was cooler (this was in October 2015) so I could run during the day with the girls.

And when our tutoring sessions ended a few months later, I realized that I liked working earlier in the day.  I could get a lot of work done before the girls woke up so they weren’t bored while I was working, I began the day productively so I felt accomplished and like I had purpose, and I could still get my running in.  I have been working very part-time scoring the TOEIC English test online since before Lizzy Jo was born, but always during the day.  So from January to April of this year, I decided that I would score the TOEIC from 5:30-9:30am as many days as they would schedule me.  It was a great arrangement, allowing me to work about half the shift while the girls were still asleep.  The girls were happier because I wasn’t working a whole shift while trying to keep them entertained.  And I was happier that I was earning more regular money, since ETS seemed to schedule me more frequently for that shift than for later shifts.  This one change in my thinking about what was important and when to get it done made a huge difference in my life.

Now, as I'm finishing up this post months later, I realize that I haven't been applying these thoughts to my current situation.  More details to come in a later post, but I have a new job coming up in the fall, I'm not scoring at ETS anymore, and I've felt a little directionless and dissatisfied this summer.  So finishing this post has prompted me to think again about what things are important to me right now and what specific time can/should I devote to accomplishing them.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Open This Little Book = Library Gold!

When we go to the library, we play with games and legos.  We go to story time.  We pick up books, movies, or CDs we've reserved.  But honestly, I'm a bit lazy about requesting books for the girls.  So we usually spend a good portion of the time letting the girls choose books too.

Charly just grabs a bunch off the shelves and shoves them at me.  I really think she puts no thought into what she chooses, which is probably to be expected from a 1.5-year-old.  And to the casual observer it might appear that Lizzy Jo employs the same method.  But her choices usually include a healthy stack of Christmas books (yes, even yesterday, at the beginning of July), and she went through a similar phase with truck books.  And since her only criteria for choosing a book is the topic, we've gone home with some real doozies.  Little Blue Truck, Little Blue Truck Leads the Way, Red Truck...I'm just waiting for her to find Little Blue Truck's Christmas.  Yuck!

But we recently struck library gold.  Dave and I try to get a few quality books to check out at the same time so that we don't go crazy reading all of the books Lizzy Jo has chosen.  Here's the gem that I found this week:

This is such a cute little book!  It's like a literary nesting doll.  Lizzy Jo has asked me to read this book five times since we checked it out yesterday.  And I've asked her to read it to me too!  Every time we read through it she exclaims, "The pages are getting smaller!!!"

It does get a little confusing, reading a book about animals that read books about animals reading get the picture.  But it's just so fun and the illustrations are really endearing.  Every time we read it, I just want to start it again.  If your library has it, you should check it out!

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Pool Mishaps

This afternoon we went swimming at Bo's (Dave's boss's) house.  His family has an amazing pool that they let us come swim in.  The edge of the pool is made of rock and Charly (ever the climber) wanted to climb up the 1.5 feet of rock to the divider between the pool and the hot tub.  I was next to her and not really encouraging her because she climbs and falls so often.  But the rock is chunky and has lots of places for hands and feet, and she got herself up a few inches.  She slipped and fell into the water, uninjured.  But she turned to me and in a voice with a little worry she said, "Did you scared, Mama?"  I said, "No, were you scared, Charly?"  "Yeah."

I love her little voice and the way she says things.  She frequently turns her statements into questions, like, "Is it too hot?" when she touches the ground outside and she KNOWS it's too hot.  She will also say "You're poopy" for "I'm poopy", so I think she was actually telling me that she was scared instead of asking me if I was.

The funky way her hair dried after swimming.

The second mishap at the pool was when Lizzy was diving for her pool rings.  She was getting tired and Dave started diving for the rings that she threw.  After he'd retrieved all of the rings from the deep end at the same time, he was looking for a harder challenge.  He told Lizzy Jo to throw her finger ring.  It was a heart-shaped ring that she had started wearing every day since she wanted to be like me with my wedding ring.  She looked confused and hesitant, so Dave said, "Don't worry, I will dive and get it for you."  That was all it took to convince her.  Literally, she took it off and threw it in a flash, and neither Dave nor I saw where she threw it.  We both looked all over that pool, inside and out, but the ring was never recovered.

This blow was too much for her, and we had some tears as we left.  But we bought four Frozen rings from Walmart on the way home.  Lizzy gave one to Charly right away, "The star one 'cause Charly really likes stars," she said.  Then she was trying on all the other ones.  Dave suggested that I hold on to the extra rings in case she lost the one she put on.  "No, because if I lose one, I will just put on another one.  And if I lose another one, I will just put on another one.  And if I lose another one, I will have Charly's!"

Lizzy with her new ring.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Life, by Merry, Dave, Lizzy Jo, and Charly

Here are some of the everyday happenings in our family these days:

*Every morning Lizzy Jo comes sleepily into our bedroom and asks for a pull-up change.  She is pretty accident-free during the day but still sleeps with a pull-up at night.  I love her cute, sleepy greetings.  Sometimes she climbs in bed with us for a while, if it's especially early, although we try to get her to go back to sleep in her own bed on those mornings.

*Charly wakes up and usually stays content in her crib, sucking on her "baba" (our family word for the pacifier).  We usually hear her talking or singing to herself, so when we get up to change Lizzy Jo and get her breakfast, we go in to get Charly too.  She always wakes up with her frizzy hair on the back of her head all worked up and crazy!  This spot never goes away, just lies a little flatter and smoother after it's been brushed.

*Dave rides his bike to and from work almost every day (even when the high gets up to 120!).  He's still working on divorces, child custody, some criminal defense, and a lot of civil litigation.  He's recently been trying to convince me that we should buy him a motorcycle!  When he gets home at night, the girls run to him and scream "Daddy!"  They love it when he can come with us to the pool or splash pad.

*Speaking of which, we go to the pool and splash pad a LOT in the summer.  The girls are little water babies and love every minute we spend there.  Lizzy can do a little floating and likes to swim under water from the wall to me, or dive down to get rings on the bottom.  She can't swim on top of the water yet, but I think that will come by the end of the summer, or next summer.  She had one week of swim lesson already, and she'll have another week of lessons next week.

*Some of our other favorite summer activities are going to the park as early as we can, going to the library for story time or to play with toys, getting an ice cream cone after grocery shopping trips, and going to my exercise group where Lizzy can play with other kids while I exercise (although we haven't gone in over a month because of sickness and travel).

*Starting last summer, I've been a REALLY regular runner, and I run most days (although, again, the last little bit I haven't run as much).  I'm attempting to run 1000 kilometers (621 miles) during 2016, which requires running about 12 miles/week.  Before the summer heat, I ran with the girls in the jogging stroller pretty often.  They were both getting pretty used to it, but now that it's so hot, I usually run in the mornings or evenings without them.  I think that it will be an adjustment for them again in the fall, to get used to sitting in the stroller for runs.

*A lot of our time right now is spent sitting in the air conditioned house.  We play, makes snacks, read books.  And I'm afraid that we do watch more TV than at other times of the year, since we can't get out as much as we'd like.

*We live pretty close to St. George, and every 1-2 weeks we go play at the St. George Children's Museum.  The girls love playing in the mini post office or grocery store, and riding the carousel outside.  We make it an all-day trip and bring our swimsuits for the splash pad they have there.

I'll come back and add pictures to this post if I remember.  Better to post now without pictures than to have never posted!