Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Good News

Tonight we had leftover Chinese food that Nate made for our Christmas Eve feast. We also had some leftover fortune cookies not made by Nate (for those of you who think he is actually a Renaissance Man). Cora's fortune read You will soon receive good news. She looked very hopeful and said, "What is the good news?" I answered that maybe the good news is that she'd get to read an extra book before bed, or perhaps that when she turns four, she'll become a real princess. She immediately dismissed the second suggestion, obviously finding it too fantastic to be true, and said "Yes! I think the good news is that we get to read an extra book!"

Later, after reading not only one but two extra books, she asked if she could get some more good news sometime soon. Oh Cora, how I love the things you say.

Christmas was really a joyful time this year. Peter is too young to have expectations about gifts, so he would have been pleased with one new car, truck OR ball, but instead he got one or two of each. The girls each wanted a doll and some books from the book fair, so that felt easy to deliver on. Louisa also wanted a Barbie house, which thankfully she hasn't mentioned in the 2 days since Christmas. Probably because she was surprised by a great gift from my mom: my old collection of trolls from when I was a kid. It was so fun to see the kids playing together with a toy that I remember so fondly.

The Chinese feast was at our new house! We hosted my parents, Nate's mom & brother and two of Nate's cousins. The celebration was perfect. Good food, snow ball fights after dinner and a quick game of Dutch Blitz before the twenty-somethings said they were too tired to carry on. I swear! I was up for playing all night, but they bowed out before 8 pm.

On Christmas day and the Monday after, we spent time at Marcia's. It was the same group pictured above, minus my parents (who flew to Africa), plus Pat and Georgia (who returned from Kansas). After a nice long walk with Marcia and Peter, I got engrossed in a jigsaw puzzle, which is atypical for me. Normally I can't sit still long enough. It must have been something in the air -- Nate also managed to capture the attention of 6 kids age 6 and under a games of Bugs in the Kitchen.

It felt strange not to see more of our siblings this year, but we enjoyed some Facetime with everyone: Anne & Andrew, Wren and Marian; Sarah & Dan, Oliver and Axel; John Paul & Grace, Cohen and Marin; and Matthew & Kelly.

I realized that traditions are fun, but so are unique experiences that might not ever be recreated in exactly the same way. I did find time to make my traditional Christmas cookies this year -- buckeyes and chewy double chocolate chip peppermint cookies, and Nate found time to drink lots of his (and the girls') traditional drink -- egg nog. We had many opportunities to reflect on why we celebrate Christmas - important reflections for us and our kids. If Christmas wasn't just two days ago, I would have told Cora the good news is that Jesus was born in Bethlehem for you (and me, and Dad, and Peter, and Louisa...). Of course that is the best news, and I know we can never fully appreciate just how good that news is. Merry Christmas to you!

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Some frosting for our cake

This weekend brought a few nice touches to the house. Just in time for our neighborhood open house, coming up this week. Not that there aren't still missing kitchen cabinets, bathroom vanities baseboard trim and window trim, but we're getting there!

A new mudroom bench 
And then a new mudroom shelf
Wood toppers to bring the stools up a couple inches (since the bar top got a little too high)
Island butcher block
And a new counter in the pantry
The best part about the bench and the stool toppers is that Nate made them from the walnut tree we had to cut down. You never cease to amaze, Nate Bosscher!

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Louisa Jane, Age 5.5

Louisa has three months of kindergarten under her belt. It seems like just yesterday we were playing "what sound does the doggy make" while driving in the car. Now it's "what's 5+2," or "how do you spell cat?" Watching her learn new things and enjoy school so much is really fun.

Neither Nate or I lack self-confidence, but sometimes we look at each other and wonder where Lou got her abundance of it. What she does have that I lack is an ever-positive attitude and joy for wherever she is and whomever she's with. She reminds me of my sister, Sarah, who I remember always loving her current situation - whether is was elementary school, middle or high school or college. She seemed to be constantly amazed that things could get even better. I suppose personality traits can be genetic, so if Louisa looks so much like my mom, why can she have the optimism of my sister?

I don't want to make it sound like life is always perfect for Louisa though. Unfortunately at some point this fall, she started to feel scared of strangers coming in our house. So if she was upstairs, she panicked if I (or Helen or Nate) came downstairs and vise versa. It was even worse if we went outside. Some wise women in my life (thanks Mom and Marcia!) encouraged us to be patient with these fears, and after 2-3 weeks of some at-home-therapy, she's doing much better. Here's what worked for us:
  • Allowing her to sleep on our floor if she woke in the middle of the night, as long as she came in quietly
  • A book called What to do When You Dread Your Bed
  • A sticker chart that rewarded her for 1) going to bed calmly and 2) staying in her bed all night
  • Announcing that we have locked the front door after putting her to bed
  • Eliminating her quiet time from her afternoon
The first and last points were the hardest for me to accept, because it felt like she was getting her way (i.e. winning the fight), but I was reading a positive discipline book that taught me that if you're thinking about something in terms of winning the fight, you're probably not doing the right thing. Nate and I don't want kids sleeping in our room because it feels like a slippery slope, ending with 3 restless kids in our queen sized bed. But Louisa had a real fear when she woke in her bed and couldn't go back to sleep. Allowing her come into our room (and sleep on a thin camping pad on the wood floor) felt like the right thing to do. After letting her find comfort in that, we incentivized her with a sticker chart.

Eliminating her quiet time was hard for me because I wanted the quiet time for myself, but in reality, Peter is never napping at that time, so it's not like I would have an hour to myself anyway, and Cora seems to accept that she still needs a quiet time after school, regardless of what Peter and Louisa are doing.

I should have known we'd have to deal with night fears at some point. Another thing I should have seen coming was a desire for hot lunch. Oh, hot lunch! How is a dietitian mom supposed to get onboard with hot lunch? For Louisa, it started with chocolate milk. I got a voicemail from the school food service saying that Louisa had a bill of $12.60. I was happy it wasn't more, but also wondered what she was buying. I looked online and saw a bunch of milks. I asked her about it and she explained that if I forgot to put her water bottle in her lunch, she would take a chocolate milk. I had to ask a lot of questions to figure out that putting a water bottle in her backpack every morning doesn't ensure that she'll have it with her in the lunch room. Prior to this chocolate milk invoice, she had already begun to ask for hot lunch, so together we came up with a plan. I would be better about putting her water bottle in her lunch bag and she could start taking hot lunch (with chocolate milk) once per week. We also talked about how she needs to pick white milk sometimes. She looked at me with a ton of concern in her eyes, and said, Mom, I really don't think I can. I see it [chocolate milk], and I want it. I told her how much I believed in her and left it at that. Last week she told Nate that he forgot to pack her water bottle, but she chose white milk. Woah. Proud mama moment.

She's been more into swimming lessons than dance lately, but we tried to teach the importance of sticking with something that you sign up for, and made it through to the recital. Starting in January, she picked swimming lessons and maybe piano lessons, but no dance.

Reading is not coming as fast as I expected, but I think as soon as she learns, she's going to be a bookworm, so maybe for now I'll just enjoy our cuddle time each night, reading out loud -- favorites like Ramona Quimby, Age 8, Charlotte's Web and Mary Poppins.

You're a confident, fun-loving girl, Louisa Jane. You're a sweet sister and daughter. I love how much you love to help (with dinner, cleaning or laying pavers in the back yard). Your love for crafts, stories and Jesus is beautiful. I can't wait to see who you [continue to] become.

See Where Our Pictures Were Taken