Unrushed Moments

Two days ago, I was driving home from the grocery store with both girls. The sun was shining and the girls were singing and dancing in their carseats as we told Selena Gomez to go love herself.  We were having so much fun that I decided we could chance a few more minutes in the car to hit up the Starbucks drive through.

After ten minutes of sitting in the line, I expressed impatience with how slowly it was moving.  Zoe said “mom, it’s okay. Want to play a game while we wait? We can find some letters!” and identified an A and a B in the Starbucks sign.

Riley shouted “B!!!”

Both girls erupted into a fit of giggles.

And I thought: I’m so glad I didn’t miss this. 

In our area, there is a lot of pressure to put kids in preschool early.  I was an outlier when I didn’t start Zoe at 1.5.  I felt countercultural when I didn’t put her in this fall at 2.5.

But I didn’t think Zoe was ready for it at 1.5, and I didn’t think she needed it at 2.5.  While I knew it wouldn’t be detrimental, I also knew that I would be putting her in preschool so I could get a break from her—not to meet a particular need of hers.

I had also just spent a year trying to teach her to be kind to Riley–and she was finally getting it! I wanted to give her a chance to ENJOY being with her sister, and for Riley to have the chance to enjoy playing with a nurturing, caring sister.

Also, after spending a year in survival mode simply meeting the constant barrage of needs, I wanted to give myself a chance to enjoy my girls as they entered less-needy stages and were finally on the same schedule.

On paper, it made sense to send Zoe to preschool—all of my friends were doing it, and I was tired! But whenever I thought about sending her to school, I felt a pit in my stomach.  When I thought about keeping her home, I felt peace. I decided to trust that if God was leading me to spend another year at home with both of them, He would give me energy to keep going.

I knew there would be some mundane moments (exhibit A: this particular morning in which we went to Jazzercise, the grocery store, and Starbucks—the SAHM trifecta) but I believed that I was being called to share those mundane moments with both girls this year.  Even if no one else in playgroup was doing it. 🙂

It turns out that these mundane moments have been some of the best moments of my life.

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Playing in the yard…checking books out of the library…choosing strawberry jelly for Daddy at the grocery store…painting…reading…cuddling and sharing a blanket on the couch…driving in the car together…giggling over Riley’s latest trick…waiting in the Starbucks line together, deciding together to be patient and have fun while we wait…

The smallest moments of the smallest time of my life have brought me immense joy.  And I could have missed these unrushed moments because I was too tired and didn’t trust God to give me energy or because I felt pressured by what my peers were doing.

This definitely isn’t an anti-preschool or anti-peer rant…it’s just me sharing how grateful I am that I was obedient to what God called me to do, and hopefully encouraging you to run YOUR race, whatever that looks like for you! There are great rewards along the way.  IMG_4978

(Postscript: a large deposit from my bank account says that I am putting both girls in preschool two mornings a week next year.  Although part of me will be so ready for a break after 3.5 years of full-time loving and nurturing and educating and cruise directing, I am already sad about the reduction of our time together and the fact that Zoe will be starting on a school pipeline that she won’t get off of until she is an adult! How did this happen already?!)

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Riley, 18 Months

I promised a few months ago that I’d write more posts about Riley.  She just turned 18 months old, so I felt like it was high time for an update!

IMG_8044-2.jpgWriting about Riley typically reduces me to an uncreative, wordless puddle of mush. She’s just so sweet that it’s hard to describe her without sounding like a sixth grade girl talking about her crush. “SO CUTE!” “I LOVE HER!” “EVERYTHING ABOUT HER IS JUST SO PERFECT!”

To counteract this tendency, I will begin by describing her (only) two annoying qualities:

she wants me to hold her nonstop (unless we are trying to dart into Starbucks for a quick coffee, in which case, she wants me to put her down and let her fling bags of potato chips and popcorn with reckless abandon while she roars like the dragon she sees pictured on the Komodo coffee bag. You’re welcome, employees and patrons). When not in Starbucks, she is typically on my lap or in my arms, with her face pressed against mine, OR crying “MAAAAAAAA-MAAAAAAAA” because she wants to be on my lap or in my arms with her face pressed against mine.

-she is beginning to develop opinions.  Sometimes they are different than mine. (NO!!!!!!)

That’s all I can think of to be annoyed by, and these issues are barely legitimate. BECAUSE SHE’S ACTUALLY THE BEST BABY IN THE WORLD. XOXOXOXOXOXO.

There I go again, getting all sixth grade girl on you. Maybe sharing some photos will inspire me to share actual facts and informative comments with you.  Here goes.1124150900_HDR-2“Nack. PEEEEZZ!!!!” These are Riley’s most-used words, followed by “dah-dah” (cracker), “na-nuh” (banana), “yo-ga” (yogurt), “deeee-dah!” (pizza), “see-ya!” (cereal), “cheese” (needs no interpretation). Riley loves to snack and would love a world in which she could steadily munch on an unvaried diet from 5 am until 7 pm.

Unfortunately, mean old mom insists on some balance, so she reluctantly eats 3 meals with some degree of nourishment in between the 2 happy snacks. “Day-you” for keeping me alive, mom.

(Notice what’s missing from this daily meal plan? Riley sure did, at least for several sad weeks. Thankfully, the heavy emotional toll of the great “bah bah” weaning seems to have finally decreased, as has mom’s end-of-the-day dish pile now that we are down to 0 bottles!!!! CUE HAPPY MUSIC!!!)Photo on 12-21-15 at 2.45 PM #2“Cean up.” One of Riley’s current favorite activities is cleaning up, which serves as a great counterpoint to Zoe’s current favorite activity of pulling each piece of clothing out of her drawers and dropping them throughout the house. While Riley’s efforts are not actually helpful enough to merit any violation of child labor laws, I appreciate the sentiment.

Riley’s other favorite activities right now include playing outside with her riding cars, going to the “paaaah” (park), reading books (“Where Is Baby’s Belly Button” is a particular favorite), “daw” (drawing with crayons, chalk, or Do-A-Dot pens), “doc-dah” (playing doctor with a doctor kit), and “baaaah” (taking a bath). She also enjoys brushing her teeth, singing “Row Row Row Your Boat” loudly on my lap, and doing anything her sister is doing.1210150722Riley’s Schedule: Riley sleeps through the night 99% of the time. Mom loves this fact 100% of the time.

She is usually up by 5:30 am and ready to eat a bowl of “see-ya” with her trusty blanket and stuffed monkey by her side.  After feeding herself two small bowls of cereal with her own spoon, she dramatically flings milk everywhere and demands “all done. Wash!” We move on to our next activity (often, a much-needed bath before some playroom time).

After an argument about clothing, we’re usually out of the house by 8:10-8:30, and typically spend our mornings out at Jazzercise, the library, a park, the zoo, a friends’ house, running errands, etc., or some combination of the above (unless we are hosting a play date or feeling like we need some slow time at home). We are usually home by 11:15-11:30 am for lunch.

IMG_4912During lunch, I typically read the girls 2-4 books, which they LOVE. Riley and Zoe go down for their naps together around 12:15-12:30. By 2-2:30, Riley’s usually up and ready for another “nack.” We’ll spend our afternoon playing with our neighbor, goofing around in the yard, reading books, making art, visiting a park, Facetiming a family member, or going for a walk, before dinner at 5:45ish, books at 6:45ish, and bedtime by 7:15-7:30.

1217151901aToddler stuff: Riley has like, 12 legitimate chompers now, and has experimented a little bit with biting. Thankfully, she usually says “BITE!” before she is about to bite you, so YOU’VE BEEN WARNED.

She also enjoys trying to break into the toilet locks and trying to get into the trash can.

She has begun to say “no!” to us but usually giggles and apologizes with lots of kisses if she thinks she has pushed it too far.IMG_4791Riley as a sister: I couldn’t have asked for a better little sister for Zoe. Riley is thrilled any time that Zoe wants to play with her. The sound of them giggling together is my favorite sound in the entire world. Riley is quick to forgive her sister when needed, and has even begun to point out to Zoe when she needs to take a deep breath.  Last week, she woke up first, and walked down the hallway to Zoe’s room calling “Zo-Zo!” because she missed her sister.

I thought that having to spread my love between two kids would take away a little bit from my ability to love each of them, but I find that I have even more love for them than I did before, because I love them each as individuals AND for who they are as a sister.

On a less sweet note, now that they can both run and tell me “no,” I definitely feel like I get a run for my money during outings.  I have even begun wearing tennis shoes on the regular, even when it’s a fashion “don’t.”  I know, who am I? 0109161003Other pertinent Riley facts: she weighs 23 lbs, is measuring high on the growth chart for height, and is wearing 18 month and 2T clothes and size 4 diapers.

Everyone always says “her curls are so perfect!” Thank you. They are.  I wash them and then use this fancy product called conditioner. (Zoe’s hair takes ~30 minutes after each bath, so I am very thankful God gave me one wash-and-go girl, at least for now).

As evidenced by all of her direct quotes in this post (ha), Riley is very verbal and basically knows the word for anything she needs. She is beginning to use short sentences (i.e. “all done. Wash,” or one I hear frequently as she plays with Zoe, “no! mine! mama! mean!”)

Well, a picture says 1000 words and I just said over 1000 words—so between the two of these, you just comprehended like 9000 words about our favorite 1.5 year old.  I’d keep going (LIKE I SAID, I’M LIKE A SIXTH GRADE GIRL OVER HERE) but I recognize that you may have a cut-off point.  Just know this: to know Riley is to love her! We are so blessed to have her as a part of our family.