Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Happy Birthday, Natalie!

I really hate that my baby is five. I'm not ready. Five is so much older than four.

"I'm five!" she exclaimed as she sat up in her bed this morning. Unfortunately, her enthusiasm was quickly squelched when she discovered that her birthday party was not going to happen today. (It's scheduled for Saturday.) She got really sad and decided it must not be her "real" birthday afterall.

Though she'll have to wait four more days to celebrate with all her friends, she got enough pampering to make her big day feel special. And she got to experience it all with her very best friend, Emma.

I picked the girls up from school and headed for McDonald's. On the way there Natalie warned Emma that "my mom doesn't buy Happy Meals." She knows that I am normally opposed to spending money on a meal in which much of the food will be wasted and the cheap toy will find its way into my garbage within a couple of days. But, not every day is your birthday.

The girls knew I had a surprise for them after lunch but they couldn't guess what. They were thrilled when we arrived at the nail shop and they got to sit in their teddy bear pedicure chairs.

They both said that putting their feet in the water was their favorite part.

They got to watch a Barbie movie and eat suckers while their fingers and toes got the royal treatment. Natalie picked green with hearts for her toes and pink with flowers for her fingers. So cute!

After gymnastics, Natalie chose Wendy's for dinner and then we came home for birthday cake.

A slice of cherry chip cake and five trips through the spanking machine made her birthday complete.

Happy Birthday, Baby Girl!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Home Gym

Here are some action pics of Alyssa's "home gym"...

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Free to Choose

Several months ago, I attended a class at a Women's Conference called, "Raising Independent Kids." The instructor, a licensed family therapist, taught us that our children need to be allowed choices. One specific suggestion was to allow them control over a space in the house that could be designated as their domain. She even suggested that if we had an issue with a messy bedroom, we should simply shut the door.

I struggled with this concept and expressed to the instructor that I view the entire house as my domain. The way I see it, the children occupy a portion of that domain but should adhere to my standards of how it should be kept. The therapist was quick to point out the flaws of my philosophy. I've thought of her advice many times since that class.

I'm in no way a clean freak, but I'm often frustrated by the chaos that exists in my daughters' bedroom. Perhaps even more annoying are situations like this:

Caleb still refuses to use this laundry basket as it should be used. (Those clothes are on top of the basket's lid.)

Or what about this one:

Alyssa's medals are nicely displayed on her wall but she feels the need to tape posters around them, not even worrying about if they are straight!

This clutter on her nightstand drives me bonkers:

Though I'll let them go as long as I can, the posters will eventually come down, the clothes will go inside the basket and the clutter on the nightstand will be straightened. I'm often reminded of that therapist's advice, however, and do try to allow the kids a bit of dominion over that which I desperately want to control.

Natalie and I went to the mall yesterday to buy some much needed jeans for her brother. Since the jeans were such a good price, I picked up a pair for Alyssa too. Unfortunately, there weren't any in Nat's size. I don't at all subscribe to the notion that if one child gets something they all need to get something, but on this particular occasion, I did promise Natalie she could pick an outfit. After rejecting her selections mulitiple times, I suggested a cute outfit that was available in six different colors. I wandered over a few rounders, offering other suggestions as I went.

"I know what I want," she declared.

Of all the cute choices, she opted for this:

I thought of that class. I remembered the therapist's advice to allow our kids their own choices. I never want my kids to feel that they have to like what I like. But, of the options available, it was without question the last on my list.

"Are you sure you don't like the pink?"

"The red is nice."

"The purple is really pretty."

"It's definitely not my favorite."

It was no use. She was sold on the Kermit-the-Frog-green. I knew I had to honor her choice no matter how much I disliked it. So, we bought it. And she's been wearing the ensemble ever since.
Perhaps the pictures don't adequately capture the brightness of this hue. She glows.

"Whoa! What's with the green?" was Alyssa's reaction at seeing the new outfit.

"You're bright today!" was the comment from our gymnastics carpooling friend.

I don't like the color. Not one bit. I find myself cursing that therapist for teaching me that I have to allow my kids control.

I do believe she's right, though. And I do want independent kids. Even if they look like Kermit the Frog.