Monday, September 28, 2009

Happy Birthday, to My Little 2 Year Old!

It doesn't seem possible that my last baby just turned two! So cliche to say, but the time has flown by! After a very "normal" pregnancy, my due date of September 24th came and went...I was nervous about having a super huge baby (the 3rd baby came 5 days late and was almost 9 pounds), so my OB agreed to induce me on September 26th. Most of the labor and delivery was without incident (just a minor mistake by an anesthesiology resident...turned UP my pitocin rather than turn it DOWN, just as I was about to get my epidural)...which prolonged my labor by almost 2 hours!! Oh well, little NJH was born at 8:22pm and weighed a whopping 9 pounds. One of the nurses exclaimed, "Wow, he's a porkchop!" as I pushed him out!! Little N was welcomed by his older brother and sisters and I don't think a baby could be more loved, kissed, hugged and snuggled!
Here are some of my favorite photos of the little guy:

Thanksgiving at the Lake 2007

Christmas 2007 - special time with Beam and Pop

little flirt (December 2007)

Easter 2008

sitting on Nona's lap on Baby Dedication Day (May 2008)

eating an oatmeal cookie (August 2008)

happy first birthday (September 2008)

"reading"...he really loves books (November 2008)

enjoying a rare winter ice cream cone! (January 2009)

he helped himself to the peanut butter and fluff sandwiches we had made for the kids for lunch...we just hadn't called them to the table yet! (February 2009)

yummy pesto pasta dinner (March 2009)

wishing big brother a happy 7th birthday...thankful for some of the chocolate pudding cake (March 2009)

playing princess ("printheth") August 2009

loving the lake (August 2009)

Happy 2nd Birthday! (September 2009)

James 1:17 - "Every good and perfect gift is from above."

Thursday, September 17, 2009

So Much To Say...

Yes, I have so much to say and so little time to get it all written down! Here's what's been happening with the Hill Herd:
- back to school (already blogged about NCH's first day); CAH started kindergarten, thankfully just half-day...I miss her like crazy when she's gone. KBH was very out of sorts all week without her motherly big sister, and poor little NJH is a bit fearful of KBH and some of her antics! He's been THRILLED to see CAH get off the bus at noon. They are quite sweet together. Here's a picture of CAH heading off to school:
And here are the two little ones left at home:
My caption for that photo on facebook is: And then there were it just me, or does Little N look a bit worried that his very nurturing biggest sister has left for school? And Miss K says, "Don't worry, I'm in charge now!"

CAH seems to be loving school. She tells many details about her day, and she wants to play school as soon as she gets home! She is eager to do her homework and asks me for more to do - may this always be the case! NCH has been happy to do his homework and has been acing the spelling quizzes I've been giving him.
One more note about CAH and school: The first day, she told me about her new friend: "I helped my friend today, Mama. She doesn't have fingers on one hand, so I asked if she needed help putting her papers in her folder." Although it doesn't surprise me that CAH would be helpful, I teared up as she told me this story!

KBH also started school. Here she is getting out of the van, heading to preschool:

- KBH started gymnastics last week. Remember, she is the wild and crazy one - the one who does back hip circles and skin the cat on the treadmill handles...the one who jumps off diving boards and bookcases and ok, you get the picture. Well, she refused to participate in gymnastics class last week! Evidently she is going through a little stranger anxiety with men, and her coach is a very tall man. She cried and screamed for a lollipop on the way out last week, so I told her if she goes into class, obeys her coach and participates the whole time, she will earn a lollipop. I am really hoping she does better tomorrow...last week, I did get her to do some tuck jumps on the long trampoline and she was fabulous (until the coach looked at her and told her "good job"...she stopped instantly and yelled at him "I'm never doing it again ever!!!") RASCAL! Some of her other recent antics: wearing these very worn-out hand-me-down through 3 kids pink sparkle shoes. I let her wear them to preschool rather than have another battle...yes, for the first time in 7 1/2 parenting years, I am picking my battles! Here's a photo of Miss Stylin' Girl:
She loves to pick out her own clothes and change her clothes, often. I think she'd do a wardrobe change every hour if I let her! "Nap time" has become "rummage in the closets and dresser time" and it is SO frustrating to keep folding and hanging all these clothes! When she does settle down and sleep, she's usually wearing a pair of fancy shoes or boots, and often has several layers of clothing on. I know, I know: this too shall pass!

- NCH is turning 2 next week! I will have plenty more to say about his birthday in another post, but here's what he's been up to: went big poop on potty (even told me "poop" while he was playing, so we ran to the potty and he did it!) He has new cups with straws (Munchkin brand, supposedly spill-proof, but they leak a little.) I'm not ready to give him free reign with open-top cups yet, and regular sippy cups can cause a little lisp (which he already has), so I'm hoping the oral positioning with the straw will help. He loves the cups (which have Backyardigans characters on them.) The cutest thing he's doing lately is saying "thank you, Mama" and "bless you, Mama" (when I sneeze) without any modeling or prompting. He sounds so grown up and polite!

- The other night, Frank was doing some side work and he brought NCH along to help. As I was getting dinner ready, I overheard the younger 3, sitting at the table, asking one another "how was your day?" and "what did you do today?" After each one would answer, the others would say "wow, that's great!" I melted right then and there! Just precious!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Saying Good-bye a Little More Every Day

Excited. Nervous. Happy. Sad. New beginnings. Beginning of the end of something else. Letting go a little more.
NCH hopped on the bus less than an hour ago. Off to 2nd grade with a teacher he was really hoping for. He was smiling and SO excited...the most confident I've ever seen him heading to school. May he have this enthusiasm all year long!
But I have a giant gaping hole in my heart! I know, I know, I have 3 other little kiddos here, and I'm plenty busy, but that big boy has his own place. It's not the same without him. Of course he'd likely be pestering his siblings by now if he were home. He'd be asking me for something to do. Asking for a big plate of scrambled eggs with cheese. I know it's a normal part of growing up to head out to school, but I'm sad I don't know every detail of what he's doing. I'm sad that I can't see his face light up when he learns something new. I will have a strange feeling in the pit of my stomach all day until he bounds off the bus. This feeling will fade over time. I will "get used to" him being gone all day. The question is, do I want to get used to this? Still wrestling with the homeschooling option...

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Sunday, A Mom, and 2 Kiddos

Today's Happenings (after hubby took the older 2 kiddos up to the lake...we'll join them tomorrow):
1) church - NJH screamed so much in the upstairs nursery during Sunday School time that he was "ejected" (LOL - not really; my pager went off after the workers spent a lot of time trying to calm him down...he wanted no part of it today!); during 2nd service, he did a lot better in the downstairs nursery (this may have had something to do with the man in the nursery juggling plastic fruit...very impressive!); Pastor Matt gave another powerful message - The Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13)...a new twist - rather than "go be good soil," ask God to "prepare the soil - soften us, ready us...we can't make ourselves better - we need to cry out to the One who can!" Great point, Pastor Matt!
2) cookout - after church, there was a cookout (lots of food purchased for, but not used, at the church camping trip, due to rain)...a very large turnout and tons of yummy chicken; I loved the time I spent with my church family!
3) nap time - what was supposed to be afternoon nap time for 2 kiddos...I tried to knit on the deck in the lovely sunshine, but kids didn't want to nap, which prompted the question: why do I give naps the power to influence my mood? Good nap time, I am happy and refreshed. Bad nap time, I am annoyed and cranky. Keep in mind, I don't take the naps! Interesting...
4) dancing - After non-nap time, I spent almost an hour dancing to a Veggie Tales CD upstairs with KBH and NJH. We had a ball!
5) pre-potty training - I put a pair of Thomas the Train undies on NJH, just to see what would happen. He thought he was hot stuff, and stayed dry for over an hour! I'm not ready to really go nuts with the potty training yet, but he will go on the potty from time to time.
6) snuggling - KBH, NJH and I watched an old Barney video together, all snuggled up on the couch. These are precious moments!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Two for Today

1. I spent the majority of the day trying clothes on my girls today. I feel so blessed to have been given bins of hand-me-downs from friends. I cannot fathom what it would cost to buy these items brand new! It's quite the process: CAH tries on the items in her dresser and closet. Anything she has outgrown goes to KBH. (These items could just go in her drawers, but she likes to try everything on too!) KBH also has to try on everything in her closet/dresser and anything she outgrows goes in a bag to pass on to a friend. The part that cracks me up every time is how excited all the kids get when they see pajamas!!!! (Especially winter "sleepers" or "feety-pajamas"!!) It's adorable!! Something interesting I noticed about my girls today: KBH is so independent in trying on her clothes. She puts the clothes on by herself, takes them off, folds them and really doesn't want help. Her head is on the small side, and she easily pulls turtlenecks over her head. On the other hand, CAH (who is almost 17 months older than KBH) struggles to get the clothes on and off, likes to lay on the floor and have me help her. Her head is a bit larger and it takes effort for me to tug those turtlenecks on and off her!! So close in age, yet so different in personality and even body type. I love their differences!
2. After hours of the try-on/change over process, we headed over to a friend's house for a cookout/get together. We haven't done this in awhile, and it was SO nice to let the kids play while the adults chatted. I've missed my girlfriends and tonight reminded me to keep in touch more often.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Book Review: Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours, by Kevin Leman

Although the last book I read by the same author ("Have a New Kid by Friday") did not receive rave reviews from me, "Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours" (MCMWLY) was actually quite a helpful book. Perhaps my attitude was different going into it: we had just spent three days having my in-laws visit, and our little darling children were anything but darlings!! It was a very humbling, stressful weekend, with outbursts, tantrums, and sassiness left and right! So when I cracked open MCMWLY, I was REALLY ready for help!!
"Reality Discipline" is the name of the technique or system of discipline: you want your children to learn to think for themselves and learn to become more responsible through guidance and action-oriented techniques. Five components of reality discipline:
"1) Parents never seek to punish; they always seek to discipline, train, and teach.
2) If 'punishment,' pain, or some kind of consequence is involved, the parent is not doing it or causing it - reality is.
3) Reality discipline is the best system I know to avoid inconsistent meandering between authoritarianism and permissiveness.
4) Reality discipline is the best system for teaching accountability and responsibility in a way that will stick.
5) Above all, reality discipline is your best bet for avoiding Super Parent Syndrome."
As Leman went on to name four pitfalls of "Super Parent Syndrome," I realized he had me pegged:
"1) I own my children.
2) I am judge and jury.
3) My children can't fail.
4) I am boss - what I say goes."
Wait, you mean that isn't right? I know, I know, our children are "on loan" from God, I get that. But I don't want my children to fail!! And I'm parenting Biblically when I tell my children I'm in charge, right? Well, not see, in all of my good-intentioned, controlling ways, I have been teaching my children to be 100% dependent on me. I have not taught them to think for themselves. I have, instead, made all their decisions for them, granted them little freedom (in the name of order, control and safety), and made myself crazy trying to run and control every aspect of our household!
Leman cited an example of a "Super Parent" named Michelle, "a perfectionist thirty-four year old mother who had three daughters...their color-coordinated outfits could be seen from more than a block away. Michelle even ironed the bacon for breakfast to be sure it was flat and 'neat-looking'...she was a thoroughly exhausted woman - physically and emotionally...the idiocy went on day in and day out and finally Michelle started to crack. Her family was a circus and she was trying to be ringmaster." This could be me!!! "While Michelle believed that she was giving her family love...she was not achieving her goals at all. By making so many decisions for her children and by constantly 'doing for them,' she actually hampered their development into responsible persons who could make their own decisions and learn accountability to others and ultimately to God." Wow - I don't want to be like that!
This book really helped me to stop and think. I saw myself, and my parenting style, in a new light - one that didn't look very helpful. I have already made several changes in how I speak to my children and have been quite pleased with the results. Although I won't be able to change overnight, I am thankful for some new ideas to implement as I seek to train my children, guide them, and then set them free.