Monday, March 31, 2014

Spring is here!

I love evenings with perfect weather and time to play outside.  Spring is taking its time in getting here to us, but we are getting samplings of it.  

Monday, March 24, 2014


Dear Sarah Graves,
Last night you asked me to read you Bambi and I started to say no, but decided we couldn't avoid it forever.  To be honest, I started to get rid of the book the moment you received it just so I could avoid the conversation of Bambi losing his mother.  Sure, every Disney princess seems to lose a parent one way or another, but Bambi seems to focus on it. 
As I expected, you asked me what happened to Bambi's mom and wanted to know why.  I simply don't have a good answer for why.  Bad things happen to good people who are still very much needed all the time.  I think that is why I wanted to avoid it.  Doesn't every child fear losing the person they depend on most?  I know that is what you were wondering about and wanted to be reassured that you wouldn't be left alone in the world.  I tried to reassure you that I would always want to be with you and try my hardest to do that.  I also reminded you that you are lucky to have a family with lots of people that love you and would take good care of you.  That seemed to help ease some of your fears.  You turned to me and asked, "If something happened to you, do you think Lovie would want me?"  I assured you that she would want you more than ever.  That made you smile. 

We finished reading the book and had a good giggle as I laid on you pretending that I had a pillow that is very wiggly and giggly.  I pretend to be very tired and yawn, but I just can't get comfortable on that wiggly, giggly pillow!  If only you could understand that as much as you are afraid to be without me, I am that afraid of being without you.  You are so very special to me.

Sunday, March 23, 2014


I have posted before about Hand in Hand Parenting and particularly how helpful the notion of staylistening has been.  Another major component of their parenting method is setting healthy limits. Setting limits in their parenting style means limits are set reasonably and in a warm, loving way that offers the child connection.  It isn't done out of anger or with the intent to humiliate a child.  Rather, limits are intended to be a way to guide a child back onto the correct path.  A child who is feeling connected will be able to think well and accept the limit.  A child who is feeling very disconnected may have serious trouble thinking well and will respond with strong emotion to the smallest limit.

Sometimes a child is off track and doing things to signal that he/she needs help.  In those times a limit being set may trigger the release of feelings that seem much larger than the situation would appear to require.  For instance, off track behavior for Sarah Graves looks like reasonable requests such as wanting a particular nightgown, then she needs a snack before bed, then it's asking to watch a show on TV before she goes up, one show isn't enough and she wants another, she doesn't want to brush her teeth, she doesn't want to use the bathroom before bed, the story she picked isn't the one she really wanted, etc.  She doesn't feel right, therefore, nothing in her world is right.  I can usually see the trend after the first few requests are indulged and the response isn't one of a happy child.  That's when I need to have patience and presence of thought to respond either playfully and get her feeling safe and connected to me again, or more typically at the end of the day, I set a limit.  Setting the limit looks something like gently touching her arm or placing a hand on her belly and telling her that we have had dinner and we aren't eating again tonight.  It is said in an even tone and looking her in the eye.  Sometimes she can accept the limit and move on, and other times she will fall out crying as though I told her she won't ever eat again.

I will admit that it takes patience, but in the end, after the crying is over, she is usually happier and we get on with our routine much more happily than if I try to hold her off by giving into her requests.  Sometimes the crying changes partway through and I gain some insight into what the hurt is really about: a teacher who wouldn't listen to her, children at school yelling and making her feel overwhelmed, a little brother who gets my attention and bites her, etc.  I love those moments when I can definitively know that it wasn't the snack she wanted so much, but the hurt happened earlier in the day and she is now safe to get it out.  That is one of the most empowering things for me as a parent.  It is also hugely encouraging that I am not screwing this whole thing up.  Just because there isn't punishment, doesn't mean there can't be discipline.  We are not a strict household, but we also don't allow them complete freedom.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Disney Bound!

The Caldwell/Bourgeois clan is headed to Disney in mid September!  I know, I know that is 6 months away!  However, this trip requires advanced planning.  I feel like I am getting a PhD in Disney right now.  
Disney knows how to build the excitement with the mailings and emails, too!  Our hotel is reserved along with the dining plan and park tickets.  There was a lot of deliberation as I made dining reservations.  We were able to plan breakfast at Cinderella's Royal Table, princess breakfast at Akershus in Epcot, and Chef Mickey's in our hotel!  The Cinderella one can be tough to get, so I was really excited for that one.  Princesses are our primary focus this trip, so we looked for ways to work in visits with them!
Next up will be scheduling Fast Passes and ordering Magic Bands!  Then, there is all the shopping to get them wardrobed for the trip!  I am having a ball researching and planning this one!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Letter Month Eighteen

Dear Charlie,
I just can't believe how fast the time flies!  You are becoming such a big boy and sometimes I like it and sometimes I wish we could just stay like we are right now.  My favorite moments are those holding you in the nursery and watching your beautiful face while you nurse.  It is by far the most rewarding time to be your momma.  
The biggest event for you has been the surgery on your hand.  We decided it was the right thing to do and you have handled it so well.  You really haven't complained and adjusted to the cast so quickly.  I'm sure a full arm cast isn't comfortable and it has to be frustrating not being able to use that hand, but you have adapted and found ways to do what you wanted.  Sometimes the cast is like a crutch or a cane you can use to get leverage and other times it feels a bit like a weapon!  I think the hardest part of the whole thing may have been keeping you from nursing or eating before the surgery!  You signed to nurse and told us you wanted to eat many times that morning.  
The other excitement has been the snow!  To have two snow falls in the same winter is unusual in Georgia and you thought it was fun.  Sledding really got you excited and you asked to do it again!  You weren't so fond of falling down walking around in it, but you thought the sledding was fun.  You were absolutely adorable when you sat down next to the snowman and started saying hi to it!  Maybe you thought it was like Olaf from the movie Frozen.
You have a fun personality!  You are a funny kid with a real sense of humor.  You definitely understand when you are being funny and will get so tickled with yourself for that.  You also love to join in everyone else's laughter!  Your awareness of what is being said around you is amazing and you pick up on things that I would never think a toddler paid attention to.  You will hear us talking about something and the next thing you know, you went and found something we were talking about and brought it to us.  You are playful and love to tease.  You have an affinity for toes and will giggle as you pretend you are going to bite someone's toe!  Sometimes you actually do bite and it hurts.  You like to find a hiding spot and giggle as you wait for us to find you!  You also like to grab a paci or toy that you know Sissy loves and take off running and laughing with it!  You usually give it back readily, but like to get everyone worked up over it.
You also have a gentle, sweet side.  You love to rock and cuddle with us.  You also like to be held a lot and will sweetly lay your head on my shoulder and pat my arm gently, much the same way that I pat your back to soothe you.  It is very sweet.  You don't have a favorite, but you pick up dolls or stuffed animals and give them hugs and grin.  You also give Sissy hugs very sweetly.  You both love each other a lot.  
We have a sleep routine that works pretty well and you actually sleep through the night some now.  We put on pjs and brush your teeth; then, Daddy rocks you and reads several books to you.  Then, I come in and we rock and nurse until you are asleep.  Some nights you are just drowsy when I lay you down, but usually you drift off in my arms and I watch you sleep for a minute before I lay you down. I think sometimes that you need to be rocked and nursed as a way to remind me to slow down and take my time with you.  Those moments holding you soft and cuddled against me are very precious.  That's when I know I am so lucky to be your momma.  

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Warm Day at the Zoo

We enjoyed our taste of spring watching the baby animals at the zoo.  The gorillas have babies, lions have cubs, and the baby pandas were playing.
Watching the birds and Charlie signs to Aaron that he sees the birds.

I love his determination as he crawls over a little bridge to get to the slide.  He loved the freedom of climbing up to the slide and ding it on his own!

He would slide down and take off running and giggling to climb up again!  

We thoroughly enjoyed our sunny afternoon at the zoo!  We hope the spring weather comes back soon!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Frozen Mania

We have been non-stop Frozen mania since she saw the movie back in December.  When we downloaded the song, "Let It Go", the mania rose to new heights.  She saw it twice in the theater, owns the dolls, worships the soundtrack, wears the shirt anytime it's clean, has the Anna costume, and when the movie was available for download - sheer heaven.  The timing was actually perfect because she was home with a stomach virus that day and it was a great time to let her veg out and watch it as a continuous loop!
She loves to act out scenes from the movie and pretend that she is Elsa.  She wears her Elmo blanket like the cape because it is long like Elsa's and of course she needs her tiara.  She will have me hold out objects for her to take and place the tiara on her head just like the coronation ceremony.  My favorite part is when she pretends to make the snow and ice and she steps out with her foot and does her hand out like Elsa.  She is already talking about plans for her Frozen birthday party when she turns 5 and our Halloween costume (Lucy can be Sven!)  Sad thing is, I love the music and have happily blared it in the car while singing along with her for the past few weeks!   It reminds me of my love of Annie as a child.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

He Loves Her So...

Sometimes it feels like Charlie is constantly antagonizing Sarah Graves, but he loves her!  The other night they were having ice-cream after dinner and he would only let her feed it to him.  He wouldn't feed himself and he didn't want me to do it - just Sissy!  She was so proud!  She would hop up and give him some bites and give him some advice on eating it before it melts or not letting it drip.  She was beaming as she fed him, too!  Seeing them love each other is just the sweetest.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Cooking with Gas

The week before Charlie's hand surgery I was making dinner and complained to Aaron that the cooktop wasn't working well.  It was not great when we bought the house, but it worked and we have helped it limp along since.  Not long after my griping, I reached for a pot handle and received a big shock, literally!  It scared me bad and I screamed.  We quickly decided a replacement was in order.
I called my favorite Home Depot designer (aka my sister) and she emailed us choices, including switching from electric to gas.  We decided gas would be nice and the cost to connect the gas wouldn't be that high since we have a gas hot water heater near that area.  
The cooktop arrived on a Saturday and we checked it out to realize the old electric hookup wasn't compatible with the new electric starter.  We would need the electrician to. come out to change the wiring and install an outlet.  The electrician was able to come out the same day as the plumber and I figured we would be all set that evening.  The electrician came and pretty quickly had his piece done.  The plumber had rescheduled due to all the snow days and when he finally came it was very late in the evening, he didn't want to do the work, and his quote was a lot more than what they quoted on the phone.  We told him no thank you.  A couple of days later, Aaron scheduled another plumber to come and his quote was crazy high.  Note to self, any plumber driving a Mercedes probably isn't economical.  Finally, we called a guy dad had met in Home Depot (good thing for extroverted dad!) and he was in the area on another job and could come by soon.  This is the day of Charlie's surgery, around 5 o'clock.  He came by, gave us a reasonable quote, offered to do it then if we didn't mind the late hour, and left to get supplies at Home Depot!  We were thrilled and really pleased with the work.  A couple of hours later he was done and were back in business!
We are enjoying cooking with gas and I love having four burners that all work as they should.  The only shock now is the easy cleanup of the glass surface!   We received All Clad pots at Christmas and are really enjoying them.  They cook well and cleanup easy, too.

Favorite Fun

About a year ago, Aaron and I put our mattress on the floor to make co-sleeping with Charlie easier and safer.  He was getting mobile and we were worried about him falling out of bed during the night and now it's easier to let him get up by himself rather than worry he might wake up and fall while getting down.  So, we've left it that way.  Our bedroom is a little strange looking, but no one ever goes in there.  It's a little difficult to get out of bed because it's so low, but we can do it.  It kind of feels like I am on a perpetual camping trip, but the bed is quite comfy!
During my journey with Hand in Hand parenting, I learned about the benefits to children and families of rough and tumble sort of play.  The kind of play that is like wrestling and becomes physical, but also evokes great laughter from lots of kissing.  This kind of play usually puts kids in the role of the leader and the parent is the one bumbling around and making mistakes. One afternoon when Sarah Graves was grumpy, I suggested we sit on the mattress and pretend to be pirates and sometime during this game, I became the crocodile.  Me being the crocodile and doing a big chomp chomp after her simply delighted her and made her laugh over and over.  So much so that she requested it over and over again.  Crocodile turned into her term for going into our room and playing with the assistance mostly of just the four of us and the soft comfy bed as a base.  Charlie loves doing it too and now scampers up the stairs after her trying to say crocodile.  She will ask him if he wants to go play crocodile and he claps his hands and says, "yay!"  Our games have evolved into different sorts of things, one of us being the baby, bulldozer, steamroller, waning machine, sharks, pillow fights, etc.  I think the part she is after is the undivided attention and the chance to roll around laughing as a family.  It's a wonderful part of an evening at home and something I hope they can hold onto and remember with their children.
I think we will leave the mattress where it is for a while.  Children grow up quickly and these memories with them are too wonderful to give up for a regular bed.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Happy Mardi Gras!

Breakfast with my Mardi Gras princess!  She is in such a precious mood - the kind you wish you could bottle!

Hand Update

We went for a postoperative appointment to see how Charlie's hand is healing and all looks excellent.  He was a complete doll throughout the experience!  They removed his old cast and checked that the incisions are healing as well as took an x-ray to be sure the bone is healing.  It must have felt good to have it off because he never stopped wiggling his fingers!  He was very curious about the incisions and wanted to check those out!

The markings on his wrist are the surgeon's initials from the day of the surgery.

The line on the image is the pin buried under the skin.

He had a new cast put on, which I was nervous about.  He sat in my lap and never moved once.  I was amazed!  He has quickly learned to maneuver with the cast on, so I guess it didn't seem terrible to him.  His new cast is open on the end, so at least his fingers get some air.  We will have to get Sissy and Pops to sign this new one!
He was friendly to everyone and they agreed he is the best patient.  
We go back in a month to see how he is and should have the small surgery to remove the pin the next day.  

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Water Baby

Sarah Graves has been dying for swim lessons.  It is not easy to find places offering lessons indoors and on the weekends.  This school focuses on teaching water safety as well as swimming and they do it in the pool in a local hotel.  She was seriously so excited and gave it her best. 

The coach noted that she should make progress quickly since she is so eager.  She saw another kid her age able to swim on his own with no float and could hardly stand it.  We hope her competitive spirit serves her well!