toddler mom life

Levi the Great

Hey, Mom...

Do you wanna see a trick I can do?

I can climb onto my truck all by myself...

And "seat up" is just the way I roll!

Traffic Regulations

One day, I noticed that Levi had lined up all his cars in a row. Because it is important to know when it is your turn.

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Unless you're a dragon, because, well... dragon! Then, it's always your turn! :-)

Crocs Rock

Crocs Rock

In the last few days, these have been Levi's favourite things to wear. He goes and finds them from the shoe stash in our entrance first thing int he morning, brings them to you (one at a time, sometimes), and stands there holding them out to you, making his little ascending-pitch "uh?" sound that is his general word whenever he has a question or wants something. Once you help him put them on, he is happy as a clam, proud as punch, and wears them for pretty much the rest of the day.

Keep Talking, Baby!

When Levi joined our family, he had already begun to speak a few words: Papa (favourite person, remember?), and also he would want to be held and he would go around pointing at things saying "Zah?" for "What's that?"

Since then, he hasn't tried to say much else... until today. Well, to be honest, I think he said "No" a few days ago when he saw me coming to reprimand him for playing with the water cooler spigots... again. He quickly withdrew his hands, got a serious look, and said, "Noo," ever-so-softly. It was the cutest thing... but didn't stop him from doing it again later!

One of the things that has fascinated him about our house has been all the plants everywhere. Silk or real, I have plants and flowers all over my house, which weren't very prevalent in his previous home. He would point to them, saying "Zah?" over and over again as we answered, "Plant", or "Flower."

Today, while admiring for the umpteenth time the little silk sunflower on a shelf across the hall from where he gets his diaper changed, he said, plain as anything, "Fow". And said it several more times today.

Later, while I was having tea at Amanda's, he said "Pant" while pointing at one of hers (she has them everywhere, too.) He said "pant" a few more times today, too... always with lots of positive reinforcement, of course.

Oh, I just remembered that he has picked up the baby sign for "dog" (panting), and I think he actually has tried to say "dog" a few times, but it hasn't been consistent or clear.

Other signs he has learned are "up" (he had already learned to raise his arms and say "Uh!" for "up" before we got him), "more", and "down". Amazing how only a few words can make communication so much easier... and how him asking to get down makes it much more pleasant to hold him, rather than have him throw himself out of your arms unexpectedly.

Can't wait to hear what he's going to say next! :-)

Hindsight is 20/20

"Can I watch a movie, Mom?"

The question came from Jude, my oldest. He no longer naps, but he is the only one of my children who skips this daily ritual. (Too bad. Sometimes I wouldn't mind one, myself.) Often I will take this time to do a little "school" with him, or a short craft, and then let him watch a movie while I go get some office work done. So for him to ask this question was not so unreasonable.

However, I had already let him and Noah watch a full-length animated feature before lunch, and figured that another movie this afternoon was not all that necessary.

"No, I think we are going to make thank you cards for all the people who gave you birthday presents. Do you want to do some stamping?"

Jude loves to stamp. It was a no-brainer.

"Wait here, and I'll go get the stuff."

"Can I help, Mom?"

Duh. "Sure! C'mon down!"

So I descended into the basement, my tow-headed four-year-old trailing closely behind me.

My craft room used to share floor space with my husband's and my office. However, when I decided to start teaching this fall, we decided that the office would be put to better use combined with my music studio, so the craft stuff got moved to it's new home behind our wet bar downstairs. I actually love it down there. It's a little chillier, and a little less convenient--no more popping in and out of the room to work on a scrapbook layout ten minutes at a time--but I have WAY more storage, especially considering that the wall behind the bar is a mirror, fitted with glass shelves. There's a sink right there for cleaning up brushes, etc. And when I am finished, I pull a leg-less table turned edge-down across the opening so I do not get unwanted "helpers" in my workspace.

One of the items that does not fit in my new, compact craft area is the ironing board. It has now taken up permanent residence between my husband's benchpress and the wall. But for safety's sake, I always make sure and put the iron on my chair in my closed-off craft area when I am not down there using the chair myself. After all, the rest of the common area is my children's toy room!

I slid back the table and grabbed a couple of stamp sets for Jude to choose from. He picked my new set with the hearts, stars, and flowers--nice, large, filled-in stamps that leave satisfying saturated shapes of colour on the page. Good choice. Then I hunkered down to rummage through the inkpad drawer for the primary colours I had decided would be perfect for a card from a preschool boy.

The drawer is on the bottom of a tower of 7 plastic-drawers-on-wheels. Next to the tower, chumming it up, is my chair, the iron positioned in the center of its padded seat.

What happened next was like one of those slow-motion action scenes from an epic drama. It was like time slowed to a snail's pace, and my reaction time with it, but my brain sped up to have a full commentary on the play-by-play:

Okay, there's the red. Annd...the black for the "Thanks." Perfect. Now we'll just close this drawer, and I think I'll use the blue cardstock that matches the Brilliant Blue in--OOOOOWWWW! WHAT THE—?

The IRON fell on my foot! OOOWWW! Point down! On the big and second toes! Why did—?

Jude leaned on the chair. It was an accident. BUT IT HURTS SO MUCH! WHY DOES IT HURT SO MUCH?!!!!

And then I cried. A lot. And loudly. I don't normally cry from physical pain, but this is pain like I haven't experienced since I broke and dislocated my arm at the age of 9.

The intensity of my reaction totally freaked Jude out. "What happened, Mommy?!"

Through my sobs I managed to say that he knocked the iron onto my foot. I could see the remorse instantly strike his little heart. His face screwed up and he started crying, too.

"I'm sorry, Mommy, I'm sorry!"

Great. So now I have to somehow suppress the mind-numbing pain and soothe the fears of a well-meaning but careless boy. By now I had removed my sock and noticed that my big toenail was already blooming with blood under the nail behind my months-old chipped pedicure. Figuring that seeing that would only freak Jude out more, I gingerly replaced the sock, tested putting my foot into my slide, decided against it.

I managed to get a bit of a grip and called Jude to me. "It's okay, buddy, I know it was an accident. You just have to be more careful. I'm not angry with you."

This seemed to do little. Hoping that distance from the situation would help to calm him down, I sent him upstairs with the stamps and ink while I gathered the cardstock and followed behind, as quickly as my injury allowed.

Jabin had been drinking his bottle on the kitchen floor when we went downstairs, but was now wailing in displeasure because he still cannot sit up from a prostrate position. I sat him up, then collapsed down onto the floor beside him with an icepack on my toe, still barely holding it together.

Finally, I was able to get Jude to tell me why he couldn't calm down. He was actually frightened. "I scared that the iron fell on your foot."

It's hard to tell what was really frightening him--most likely, it was seeing me like this. There was probably a healthy dose of guilt in the role he played in the situation. Not wanting to let a teaching moment pass, I calmly explained that even when we don't mean to, we can hurt other people because we are not paying attention—that we always need to be aware of and pay attention to everything around us. (This was a lesson I remember my father oft repeating: "Be aware of your environment!")

After lots more reassuring hugs and words, plus reading a book together, Jude had calmed down enough to complete the card project.

And after a full night of teaching piano, my blood has pooled sufficiently in my toe that I am not sure I am going to be able to sleep. But, I guess I better go give it a shot. My toe may well be broken, or just very badly bruised, but I guess we'll see in time.

Someone has to be a responsible, cheerful adult around here tomorrow, and I guess I better make sure I qualify for the job.

I do not usually indulge in "what ifs" and regret--but right now, I wish I could zing a message back through time to myself at 2:00 today that says, "When Jude asks to watch a movie today, just say 'Yes.' Trust me on this one."

Busy signal

This is an article I wrote in 2004 (before the word "blog" had entered my vocabulary.) I was reminded of it the other night when someone looked at my three little boys and once again I heard the words "so, you're busy." Although I only had two at the time of writing this, not much has changed in my perspective. Enjoy.

“So, You’re Busy!”
by Talena Winters

“So, you’re busy,” I hear, for the fourth time that day. This time, it comes from the matronly lady at the Wal-Mart checkout, as she eyes four-month-old Noah in the stroller, and 20-month-old Jude perched precariously on top of it.I am trying to rummage through my purse with one hand, looking for my debit card, while preventing Jude from toppling to the floor with the other, as he is fearlessly reaching toward the debit machine because he likes “helping Mommy with the buttons.” I smile at the clerk, and say, “But in a good way,” finish paying for my goods, and mercifully get to leave the store behind, with its many temptations for little fingers.

I am never quite sure how to respond to that comment. Are people saying I am crazy to have chosen to have two children, only sixteen months apart? Or are they secretly trying to discover if I have chosen this? Are they commenting on the energy little boys are known to have, and imagining if it were them trying to keep up? Or simply trying to express empathy for the “harried mother?” So many things that could be wrapped up in one innocent sentence.

Yes, I have to admit, there are days when I look back at my life “before children” and wonder what I did to keep myself occupied. I remember that I was always busy then, too. Busy with trying to get my home-based business to succeed. Busy in indulging my own pleasures. Busy with trying to accomplish dreams that seemed so important. Always working at my busy-ness, all day long, afraid of what would happen if I ever slowed down for just a moment and reviewed what all of it was accomplishing.

I question, now, as I examine my life, why I always felt so much “busier” then, and why I am so much happier, now. If busy-ness can be equated with the amount of work and personal projects one can cram into a day, am I really busy?

No mother can deny the amount of work it takes to shape young lives into something of value—to focus and direct the boundless energy, imagination, and enthusiasm that each child carries in their little heart. But do you really consider it work to explain, for the “nth” time, that they need to apologize when they hurt someone, the first time you see them do it voluntarily? Do you really count all the times you’ve named that colour, or letter, or animal, when they finally recognize it and name it themselves, and pride fills your heart at your young genius? Are the acts of discipline you have to hand out regretted when you see your child spontaneously perform an act of kindness and empathy for someone else? Do not a simple hug and kiss erase all the frustrations of the day?

The quality of my busy-ness has changed since becoming a mother. To spend my days instructing my children, loving them, and encouraging them, seems of much more worth than the vain and selfish pursuits I used to partake in. Perhaps this is what the outsider who comments on my daily life is seeing—the self-denial it takes to be a mother, regardless of the number or age of your children. You no longer have the time to be selfish. Perhaps they are secretly relieved it is not them, and admiring of someone who would be willing to give up so much of themselves to further the species.

As for myself, I do not begrudge these days that are filled with the rearing of two little boys. Although they are still so young, I already know in my heart that it passes far too quickly, and soon enough my young fledglings will grow up and fly from the nest. Then, I will have all the time I need—forty years or more, most likely—to pursue all of the things that I have had to set aside right now. I will probably look back with longing on the days when my sons were small enough to fit in a stroller, labeling them “good ol’.”

So, the next time some stranger tells me how busy I am, I will take it as a compliment. And without any pretense at all, I will confidently smile at them and say, “I wouldn’t trade it for the world!”

July 4, 2004