Sunday, February 26, 2017

Dear, Delightful Daughter

Thanks to our sweet little kindergartner, Hazel, Family Home Evening was an absolute delight this week. She loves to write and do projects and plan ahead and make up games and be in charge. She had a simple assignment, scripture, which most of us just kind of look up and read last minute when it's our turn. But she remembered that responsibility as soon as she woke up Monday morning and asked for helping in looking up the primary scripture of the month, with paper and pen in hand, ready to copy the verse down. To help us memorize it, she recopied the whole verse onto her white board easel.

Then she gave each of us a turn to erase a word or two, lavishing us with not only verbal words of encouragement and praise for erasing well-done, but also presenting each of us with a badge that she had made beforehand. I had no idea that she had put all of this preparation into it, and she was just so delighted to see it all come together as she carried it out and the whole family actually followed her every direction. These little reward "stickers" were cut, pasted, and even had little rolled up masking tape bits all prepared on the backs, with messages like, "Good Good" and "Good Jobe Good." Dad thought the badges were best displayed on the forehead, and that stuck (pun intended), so we were all reciting Mosiah 2:22 with little paper words of affirmation taped to our foreheads. Sweet moments!

Last week when we went on a walk through the spring-melt puddles, Hazel was super lucky and found a whole dollar on the sidewalk! I asked her if she thought we could find out who it belonged to, and since we couldn't think of a way, I told her she could keep it. Later, I found this heavily-taped, homemade, handwritten envelope that said, "To: Mom and Dad." When she presented it to me, I discovered her dollar and all of Max's money in it (a quarter and a nickel). I humbly asked why they were giving all of their money to me, and they said it was to help buy our new house because they knew it cost a lot of money. I was so touched by their generosity and selfless examples! It is truly no wonder that Jesus taught that we must become as little children to enter his kingdom.

Hazel and Max are best buddies. Watching them play and giggle together just melts my heart. When Hazel was not feeling very excited about going to the Saturday morning basketball skills session for K-2 kiddos at the school, remembering how she had gotten hit in the head with the ball twice at the last session and not made a single basket, I was at a loss for how to inspire her to try. I mentioned to her that next year, Max will be able to go with her and maybe she would be able to show him how to dribble, jump stop, and shoot. She perked up at that thought, cheerfully got ready to go, and did her best the whole time. I'm excited for them that they get to have lunch and recess together at school next year--one of the benefits of a little rural school!

I loved a tiny little note that Hazel gave Max last week. It was two tiny little hearts, decorated with marker and fastened together with excessive amounts of tape, naturally. Written on the back, it said, "To: Max, my BFF From: Hazel." That's all. But did she need to say anything else? These two interact so beautifully together these days, whether Hazel is reading him books,

playing with paper dolls (made by their talented cousins),

or playing dinosaurs, legos, sharks, or some imaginative princess-superhero combo "game." They are oodles of fun at this stage and so I'm treasuring it while it lasts!

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Five in Line's Gotta Fight for What's "Mine!"

Oliver loves the kitchen step stool. He is quite convinced that it is HIS stool, one that he occasionally let's his short mom take a turn on to reach the top shelves in the cabinets. IF she asks nicely. That little stool gives him freedom, the ability to be involved in what's going on and to take care of his own needs--how he wants it, when he wants it. It's an independent toddler's dream. Especially for a toddler who seems to dream of becoming a chef. (And hearing a 2-year-old correctly identify that I "need. a spatuwa" when I put a tortilla on the cast iron pan is nearly cuter than I can bear.)

The other day, Oliver pulled the stool to counter, reached my cup, moved the stool to the sink, turned on the faucet, filled the cup with water, climbed down, and put his drink on the stool. Xander walked by, saw the water, and casually took a drink, unaware of who had filled the cup. Oliver told him who was boss, "No! Go take a nap!" He worked hard for that water! It was HIS! A boy's gotta defend his turf with so many siblings around!

Unfortunately for me and Max, shouting hilarious toddlerisms is not always enough in said turf-defending. Oliver and Max now love the same toys--sharks, trucks, Legos, dinosaurs, airplanes, superheroes, you-name-it--and frequently NEED the exact same one at the exact same time. When emotions were running high a couple weeks ago, Oliver began turning to the teeth, repeatedly, and that was not such a good arrangement for Max. So I figured I'd give him a "use your words" tool for when he was feeling threatened by an insistent Max who was grabbing or otherwise trying to wrangle a toy from his little brother's grasp: a nice, firm "Back off, buddy!" About a week ago, I was happy when Oliver started to shout that at Max rather than going straight for the bite. "Back off. Buddy!" We've held "back off" practice games where we take turns saying, "back off, buddy!" and scooting back and admiring just how far back they scooted, giving so much space to that brother! Wow! I was almost feeling like maybe this was working when Oliver turned it on me and started shouting, "Back off, buddy!" whenever I approach to change a diaper or insist on some other unpleasant task that he is simply not in the mood for. Hmmm. It is so lucky for both of us that he is so crazy cute when he says it!