Monday, February 27, 2012

The Fine Line of Parenting

I want to warn you about the dangers of the world without making you scared of it.

I want to calm your temper tantrums and make your sorrows as short as possible without making you feel like there's something wrong with getting angry or crying. You'll do a lot of both in life and that's OK. Just don't do it about having to wear the "wrong jacket."

I want to tell you you're beautiful or handsome enough that when magazine covers, movies and peers tell you you aren't, you'll know not to believe them; but not so much that you think those are the things about you that matter or give you value. Because you are oh so beautiful; but that's not what I care about and it's not why I love you.

I want to encourage every natural ability and gift you have without making them feel like a task or chore. I don't ever want you to feel like a talent goes unnoticed but I also don't want to take the joy out of the things you naturally love to do. 

I want to tell you you're brilliant without you thinking that's all it will take to be happy or successful or that I'll be disappointed if something is difficult for you. Brilliance is nothing without hard work and you will fail at plenty, no matter how smart you are. Please make mistakes. The important thing is that you learn from them. I love that you are brilliant but I don't love you because you are brilliant.

I want the world to beat you up enough to make you resilient but not so much that you're submissive. And I want to help you fight the battles you need help with so you know I'm always there for you but I don't want to fight them for you.

I want to stick to my guns enough that you know I'm serious; but not be so hard that you see me as immovable. The truth is, no matter how serious I seem, I'm usually one sweet little smile away from caving.

I want to be your friend enough that when I say "don't wear that to school" you take it as a recommendation you respect and not an order; but not so much of a friend that when I say "eat your dinner" or "be home by 10" you don't respect me as a parent enough to obey me.

I want to tell you I love you enough that you NEVER have to question if it's true or real; but not so much that the words lose all meaning. Because I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you my sweet baby and no matter how many times I say it, it never gets weaker.

I want to show you I love you enough that...well, all the time, no matter what.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Madelyn's Second Birthday Party

The kids wearing their new matching capes and
masks and P in his new PJs.
The actual day of Madelyn's second birthday, she had to go to school since Ang and I were both working.  She loved it though. She proudly walked into school and told everyone she saw "Hi! I'm two! Happy birthday Maddy!" Angie made cupcakes for her class too so she felt extra special that she had a treat to share with everyone. That night, I got off work a little early so I came home and Ang and I decorated the kitchen with balloons and streamers before we picked up the kids. I don't know what it is about balloons but our kids go crazy for them. A room full of balloons when they got home from school was like heaven. We had a really fun night with the exception of Maddy falling and hitting her head on the side of the stairs right after dinner. Poor kid. We thought the cake would help distract her but it instead overwhelmed her and she cried through most of the singing and candle-blowing. I only put that here so we can remember "oh yea, that was THAT year," and to explain why I don't think there are any pictures of Madelyn blowing her candles out in the photo album :) The rest of the night was awesome though and we couldn't wait for Madelyn's party with the rest of the family later in the week.

We always thought we'd save "destination birthday parties" (That's not really a thing. I just made it up.) till the kids were older. We figured we'd have their birthday parties at our house or something similar until they got a little bigger and we could really go some place fun with cool stuff to do. After Christmas though, we took the kids to The Bounce House and Madelyn LOVED it. I wasn't really sure how much she'd even be able to do there since she's still pretty little and a lot of the inflatable slides and bouncy...things...are pretty high and not so easy to climb. But, as usual, Maddy was determined to conquer the place and had no trouble getting around. I took the kids there by myself the first time they went and just told Angie about how much they enjoyed it. The first time we both went though, Angie saw how happy Maddy was and said "You know what, she's had kind of a tough year and deserves a really fun party. Let's have it here." And so it was decided that Maddy's second birthday party would be very bouncy.

Needless to say, the kids had a blast. It was really fun to watch them all get to just run around and go nuts. They ran, they climbed, they slid, they jumped, they fell, they cracked heads, then they ate, went home and passed out (at least, that's what ours did when they got home). Selfishly, the other thing Ang and I liked about it was that we didn't have to do as much to prepare and there was almost no clean up :) 
The only weird thing for us was that there wasn't enough time to have Madelyn open her presents while everyone was there so we had to take them home to do it. The good thing about it was that we got to space out the present opening so she could really enjoy them all. We opened a few when she got up from nap, a few that night, some the next morning. (Poor Patrick.Thank you to both sets of grandparents though for getting Patrick a gift to open too! It made the several rounds of Maddy gifts so much better for him.) But of course, we were kinda sad the family and friends didn't get to actually SEE her open the gifts. Just know that she seriously fell in love with every single gift. She wanted to wear every outfit the second it was open, play with every toy and read every book.

Like every year, I put together a quick video of the birthday party. I hope you're ready for a lot of jumping! (I love that Madelyn realizes half way through everyone singing that it's all for her and suddenly gets very shy...until she remembers there's a candy kangaroo on top of that cake.) Thank you again to everybody that came and played and spoiled our little girl. She's too young to know just how lucky she is but Angie and I aren't and we can't tell you how much we appreciate it.

And here's a slideshow of pictures starting with the day of her birthday at home and going through the party. Click here to go right to the gallery.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Happy 2nd Birthday Madelyn!

Some of our favorite things about our Madelyn as she turns two years old...

Her sense of humor and happiness from the time she wakes up until the time she goes to sleep: She's goofy and playful from the moment her eyes open in the morning until Daddy gives her hand one last kiss before bedtime. She knows exactly what to do to get a laugh, whether it's just for fun or to get out of a less than ideal situation. Which leads us to...

...Her understanding of her emotions (and how to manipulate them). Madelyn is a master of her emotions and knows exactly how what she does makes you feel. If she wants to color but can't because we're about to eat dinner, for example, she'll try asking first and if that doesn't work, she'll try whining and if that doesn't work she'll try crying and if that doesn't work she'll start giggling and trying to make you laugh (she WILL make you laugh), and just when you're both laughing hysterically and you think she's forgotten about her original request, she'll look at you with her big brown eyes and perfect little smile and softly coo "I want to color" and then grin even bigger. She's good. Very good.

Example: although it looks like we should maybe call an ambulance, this is Madelyn fake sleeping to get out of trouble.  I had just told her not to crush up the styrofoam you see next to her. This was not the first or last time she tried this tactic.
Her understanding of everyone else's emotions: For as independent as Madelyn is, she cares so much about everyone around her. If we offer her a snack, there's a lot of times she won't take it unless Patrick gets one too. If I ask Toby if he wants some water with dinner, before he can even answer, Madelyn has grabbed the closest glass of water and handed it to him. She hates to hear other kids cry and can't stand when her friends or brother get in trouble. And she's still one of the best snugglers around.

Bug hunting.
Her tough spirit: Nothing is going to slow her down; she's proven that over the last year. Not only during surgery but in her everyday encounters with her brother and older kids at school or on the playground. She does not hesitate in a moment of uncertainty. Fight or flight: Maddy chooses fight 10 out of 10 times.When an older child takes something from her she quickly grabs their shirt or pants and holds tight as they run or walk away. She's done this several times now and she knows that she too will eventually fall over with them. But the benefit outweighs the risk for her. If said child falls to the ground she knows she has a chance to wrestle the toy away. * Disclaimer- we do not let her do this with kids her own age or younger. We do, however, with bigger kids because it's fun for us to see who wins. We quickly place our bets and watch as it unfolds before us. We've seen her stare down and take down kids easily twice her size and four times her age. It's actually pretty impressive.

Her love and devotion to her brother: Each time Maddy sees Patrick for the first time in the morning her eyes light up and she says his name so excitedly and sweetly, like she's not seen him for weeks. "Paaaaatrick!" she calls out to him with open arms ready for an embrace. Patrick loves his little sister just as much. He's asked a few times - if he's just played at someone's house or read a story where the brother has no little sister-where the other brother's "little friends" are if they have no brothers or sisters. And he is genuinely concerned about them. "But, they have NO little friend to play with? But, why?" Even when we explain that some families have one child, some have many, and others don't have any he is baffled and saddened. We just think it's cute that he thinks of Madelyn as his little friend and not his annoying little sister (...yet. Hopefully never.)

Her metamorphoses into a social butterfly: I dont' know when it happened because I can barely remember the timid little girl she used to be. These days she walks up to everyone and anyone to give hugs and ask to be held (sorry random moms at the playground). She proudly struts down the hall at school and we've been told she is the leader  in her classroom and the teacher's helper (is that teacher speak for "she bosses all the other kids around?). Just last week the class was getting out of hand while the teacher was changing a diaper so she said "Everyone sit down! Madelyn is going to read you a story!" And they did. And Madelyn picked up her current favorite book (Nurse Nancy) and "read" it for the class, making sure everyone stayed sitting and listening.

The way she says "I love you": At the most random times she'll run over, throw her arms around my neck, look at me nose-to-nose and say, "I love you Mommy" with those big brown innocent eyes staring right though me. I love you too Maddy. So very much.

The contrast of her personality: total rough and tumble tomboy AND sweet spirited book worm. I love that she doesn't choose to be one or the other, she is both. She loves to play in the dirt with her brother and get messy in all sort of creative ways. The other afternoon we were looking  in the pond to see if there were bugs/tadpoles and within minutes Maddy had dunked both hands in the freezing muddy water and smeared it on her cheeks then smiled so proudly at me.
Why she feels the need to do this with dirt, paint, food, etc is beyond me but it's also hilarious. She'll play "dump truck and digger" in the back yard with Patrick for hours getting muddy and wet from head to toe then, the next hour be subdued and quiet, sitting in the corner of the playroom reading to her dolls, carefully tucking them in to sleep then singing them a lullaby. Sometimes she'll go up to her room on her own, climb into her big rocking chair and read books by herself. Every once in a while, I'll peek in and there she'll be, "reading" aloud to herself or her pretend classroom.

I love that there are no labels right now for her; she's everything she wants to be. I hope she never feels that she has to fit some sort of idea of what she should be, or what we want her to be, because she's perfect in every way. Madelyn's had a crazy year filled with all kinds of unexpected events (some we've posted about and some we haven't) and has gotten through every one of them with an amazing attitude. We love the sweet, happy little girl she's become. Every day is better because she's here with us. Happy 2nd birthday Madelyn Claire. We love you, sweet girl.