Monkey Says The Most Precious Things

Talk of possibly having another baby has been flying around our house for the past few months. Should we be blessed enough to get pregnant again, I’m fine with another girl or a boy. Hubby is definitely ‘Team Boy’ while Monkey has firmly planted herself on ‘Team Girl’. For a while she was excited for a baby brother, but has recently become quite certain she will have a baby sister:

“Can we name my baby sister ‘Mermaid’?” Monkey asked. 

“I don’t think so. Besides, we don’t know if it’s going to be a baby sister or a baby brother. God decides,” I answered.

“God told my heart it was going to be a baby sister,” she told me with absolute conviction.

“And He said it’s alright to name her ‘Mermaid’?” I was skeptical.

“Yes. He told my heart,” she affirmed.

Well, color me happily surprised. Reading a Bible verse every night and saying our prayers together really seems to be affecting my little angel (perhaps not as much as the movie ‘The Little Mermaid’ has affected her, but close enough).
It was at least a month ago when I explained that God always listens to our prayers and He speaks to our hearts. I haven’t really talked about it since, but on many nights we have read this short devotion from Really Woolly Bedtime Prayers by Bonnie Rickner Jensen:


I praise the Lord because he guides me. Even at night, I feel his leading. (Psalm 16:7)

[God] goes ahead of you,

To guide you with His love.

He helps you when you ask Him to,

With wisdom from above.

And when you say your prayers at night

He’s listening –it’s true!

He whispers to your little heart,

I am taking care of you.

~ (RWBP)

Mommy Moments: Poop in Prayer

It’s bedtime. Freshly bathed, smelling like Johnson’s baby shampoo, my daughter is snuggled close to me. We’ve read a story and now it’s time for our prayers. I cherish these special moments where we thank God for all He has given us and done for us throughout the day. Usually we thank God for all the people we love and care for, but on this particular night, Monkey decides to give thanks for something unexpected.

“Anything else you want to talk to God about?” I ask my soon-to-be four-year-old.
“Uh…yeah! Thank you God for poop!” Monkey explodes into a fit of giggles.
“Poop?” I ask in shock. Hearing the word ‘poop’ was surprising, and in my opinion, completely inappropriate.
“And pee!” She adds before collapsing into another giggle fit.

Stunned, I pray silently for a way to handle this situation, which is quickly getting out of my control. I don’t want our peaceful prayer time to degenerate into potty talk! Calmly, I say, “You’re right. Thank you God for poop and pee because if we didn’t poop and pee we would be really sick.”
“Thank you God for poop!” Monkey once more exclaims, but only lets out a small giggle.
She settles down once more and I’m able to close our prayer time with a whispered, “Amen.”

Have you ever been in this situation? How did you handle it? And please, someone tell me that potty talk is just a phase!

8 Writing-themed Halloween Costumes

For my daughter’s Halloween party at preschool, my daughter was an adorable Scooby-Doo and I dressed in a super-cute giraffe costume, kindly loaned to me by Dawn @ The Write Soil. Exhibit A –

As I paraded down the hall, feeling silly and very mommy-like, I imagined hosting an adult writer’s costume party, where guests come in writing-themed costumes, not literary character costumes, but dressed as a writer or as something specifically writerly.

8 Writing-themed Halloween Costumes:

  • Nothing screams ‘writer’ to me more than a typewriter.

(Okay, you got me! She doesn’t ‘scream’ writer, but she does give specific tips on making a typewriter costume.)

  • Except, a book might scream writer too! I like these two costumes I found on Google images (since I couldn’t find photo credits, if either of these ladies see this and want the pictures removed let me know, but I do give you mad credit for serious creativity!

How cool would it be to go to a party wearing your very own book cover?!

  • A modernist writer – When I think ‘writer’ I picture a woman in black-rimmed glasses, dressed mainly in black with a scarf wrapped around her neck. In one hand she holds a cigarette and in the other she holds a tumbler of amber whiskey. Sometimes I’m tempted to step in to her shoes (black flats) and try writing as her, but I don’t smoke, can’t stand the taste of alcohol and thanks to my faith, believe that love can conquer all and death is not the end. I can dress like a modernist on the outside, but lack the emptiness of the modernist inside.

 

  • A journalist – Notepad and pen in hand with a camera bag slung over my shoulder – Voila!

 

  • Mark Twain – Not terribly original, but like a ghost or skeleton at a regular Halloween party, Mark Twain’s got to be a staple at a writing-themed costume party!

  • Edgar Allan Poe – Again, not terribly original, but a staple! No Halloween costume party is complete without a witch, or in this case, an Edgar.

  • Emily Dickinson – A long white cotton or flannel nightgown with my hair pulled back in a bun – Hey, I frequently dress as Emily Dickinson on chilly winter nights before bed! I wonder if I’ve ever scared hubby as the ghost of Emily Dickinson?

 

  • Francine Pascal – A blond wig and a gold necklace! Easy peasy and classy! And if you are a fan of Francine’s, please click on the link and read the interview!

***

So, everyone is invited to my Virtual Writers Halloween Costume Party! Who are you coming as? Share your costume ideas!

***

ETA: After I posted, I found a Halloween Blog Hop hosted by suspense writer, Jeremy Bates . I decided to ‘hop’ into the Hop because my novel is supernatural suspense and I realized I don’t follow very many blogs by suspense writers, so this is an opportunity to change that!

I just need to add one thing to this post to take part in the Halloween Hop, my favorite horror movie, which I am happy to share is The Watcher in the Woods.

Spooky, thrilling, and spine-tingling without blood and guts. Also? Bette Davis. ‘Nough said.

WIML Tuesday

I am happy to report that Tuesday started off on a dry note -no pee spills to clean up! This put me in a very good mood. Amazing how the simplest things can make me happy these days.

On Tuesdays and Thursdays Monkey and her cousin Zoey go to the preschool in our church. Thankfully, Monkey was up around 7am so I didn’t have to wake her. She takes after her father when it comes to sleeping habits and can be a real bear if I have to get her out of bed before she’s ready. Immediately I asked what she wanted to wear because Monkey is very picky and getting dressed can sometimes take an hour or more. Of course she wanted to wear a dress and unfortunately, I haven’t put away her summer dresses yet.

“I wear that one,” Monkey said and pointed to a lightweight purple, flowery dress.

“No. It’s too cold for that one.” I shook my head.

“Well,” Monkey put her hands on her hips and a finger to her bottom lip as she looked in her closet. “I wear this one,” she pulled out another purple sundress.

“No. Too cold.” I really need to make time to go through her clothes and switch out summer for fall.

We repeated this process until I eventually couldn’t take it anymore and pulled one of her favorite dresses off the hanger.

“You can wear this one,” I said.

“But, but, but…” Monkey never just says one ‘but’; she says a string of them.

“It’s got pockets; you love the pockets don’t you?” I felt smug. Monkey never turned down a shirt or dress with pockets.

“Okay!” Monkey agreed – maybe too quickly.

Since it was going to be in the 70s, I didn’t spend too much time arguing over whether she had to wear tights or not and in a reasonable amount of time, Monkey was dressed and ready to go.

“Fill pockets now,” Monkey announced and began stuffing her pockets with princess figurines.

“Oh, no you don’t. You can’t take toys to preschool.”

“But, but, but…”

“No. You’ll lose them or fight over them. Toys stay home.”

Crying ensued. I knew she had agreed too easily and that there’d be a tantrum at some point. I ignored her crying, which sounds mean as I type it, but ignoring her little fits is the best way to put an end to them.

“What do you want for breakfast?” I asked.

“I don’t want breakfast.” She sniffed.

“Fine.”

I made a big bowl of oatmeal and sat down to eat it. Sure enough, here comes Monkey. “I have some?”

The trick to getting Monkey to eat when she says she doesn’t want to or to get her to try something new is to not offer it to her, but to just eat it myself. It never fails that she wants what I have, but if I give her a plate or bowl of her own, forget about it. Toddlers.

After breakfast, it was time to leave and pick up my niece, Zoey. The ride was uncharacteristically silent. Usually the girls are talking and laughing, but not this Tuesday.

With the girls in preschool for 2 1/2 hours, it’s easier (and saves gas) if I just run from the church in town rather than drive home, run, and drive back. It’s a nice change in scenery and encourages me to vary my pace, which is good. As the wind blew, leaves trickled from the tree tops, gliding softly on the breeze and landing gently on the pavement where they were then stirred to a frenzy by passing cars. As the cars drove by, the leaves trailed behind them the way tin cans tied with string  trail behind the cars of newlyweds.

The run was great. My knees didn’t hurt and I wonder if maybe the stroller is putting too much stress on them. The weather was perfect, maybe even a bit too warm, but I’m not complaining. At one point, on the busiest street in town, I tripped on the uneven sidewalk, but managed to catch myself before falling flat on my face. My face flamed with embarrassment, but then I quickly reminded myself that I don’t care if drivers laugh at me; at least no one honked!

This post inspired by Week in My Life hosted by Melissa @ Adventuroo.

*Note to Self*
Capture Monkey and Daddy playtime! Tonight I really goofed and didn’t take pictures or photos of their outside time together!

WIML Monday

I woke up to sunshine tickling my eyelids. Then I rolled over into a big wet spot. Apparently, Monkey’s pull-up sprang a leak. I groaned and pulled a pillow over my head.

Five seconds later, I heard, “Mommy, time to get up. The sun is up.” Then Monkey yanked the pillow off my head and leaned over me with a big grin -the kind of grin that makes me forgive her instantly for not sleeping in her own bed.

After a deep sigh, I got up, immediately stripped the bed and cleaned the mattress. When that was finished, I continued with my normal morning routine of making breakfast and tidying up the kitchen. As I was washing dishes, I heard Monkey say, “Oh, Dowo peed again.”

Again? I didn’t know he had peed before. Maybe she was playing? Nope. Not that lucky this morning; my thirteen year-old black cocker spaniel had peed in the living room in front of the couch -could have been once or twice. At that point, what did it matter?

In less than 30 minutes after waking up, I had cleaned up two pee spills. The absolute limit was one. Surely the day could only get better!

Thankfully, it did. The weather was beautiful –warm and sunny in the low 70s with no humidity. Monkey and I got in a decent run. I was slower than usual due to some pain in both knees -nothing too serious, just uncomfortable.

The multi-colored leaves snapped, crackled and crunched under my running shoes. We visited all of the groundhog’s houses; picked dandelions; looked for monsters and threw rocks in the water. Monkey ran one lap around the track with me and then sat in her stroller playing with her princess figurines (she brought 14 of them along today).

As she sat in her stroller, Monkey held a Belle figurine in her right hand and a tinier Belle figure in her left. She held up her right hand and said, “Oh, honey. I missed you.”

She lowered her right hand, raised her left hand and said, “Oh, I missed you too.”

She brought her hands together and the two Belles hugged while murmuring, “awww” and “I love you.”

This post inspired by Week in My Life hosted by Melissa @ Adventuroo.

Unbreakable

I can still hear you say you will never break the chain ~ Fleetwood Mac The Chain.

At the risk of being labeled a bad mother, I confess that I did not feel joy on the day I brought my newborn daughter home from the hospital. I was grateful and happy to have a healthy baby girl, but I was severely depressed and majorly terrified –overwhelmed with the magnitude of the responsibility I was facing.

My confidence wavered as I tried unsuccessfully to wake a sleeping newborn to nurse. My nerves were shot and my hormones were going haywire. I couldn’t help feeling like a part of me was missing. She wasn’t missing –she was in my arms, but it wasn’t the same, and I mourned the feeling of life moving within me.

Even though I’d anxiously waited for my due date for nine months and longed to hold my baby, I ached with emptiness. Any joy I felt at holding my newborn drowned under the sorrow I felt at losing our physical bond.

Thankfully breastfeeding reestablished the physical connection I needed to move past the ‘post-partum depression’ or ‘baby blues’ I experienced after Monkey was born. Although two weeks after we’d been home, when the remainder of her umbilical cord fell off (the last tangible evidence of our physical connection), I cried –a lot.

When Monkey stopped breastfeeding, the sense of loss and detachment returned, although not as fiercely as before since she clung to me 24/7, or so it seemed at the time. Monkey made it easy to remember she needed me. I was blessed and fortunate enough to be home with her and if we were ever apart, her daddy or grandparents were there to watch her and would fill me in (whether willingly or with endless questioning) on every cute and rotten thing she did.

Last Tuesday Monkey started preschool and for the first time in her life I wasn’t there to observe everything she said and did, nor was I able to wring out every detail from her nursery school teacher. This turned out to be more difficult for me to handle than I had expected. I cried when I left her in her classroom. I cried when I got home. I felt alone. The house seemed so empty and lonely. Something was missing. It was the same feeling I had when I got home from the hospital three years ago, only this time, there was no infant snuggled against my chest. I cried harder. This was it. Our lives had diverged and our bond was gone.

I truly felt too miserable to go for a run, especially since Monkey had been joining me on Tuesdays in the stroller. But when I’m miserable, that’s the perfect time for a run, so out the door I went.

It had been raining and dark clouds hovered overhead. As my body relaxed into the rhythm of running, thoughts about Monkey moved through my mind: how inseparable we’d been for the last three years; how it seemed like the chain of family members that had always linked us together had been cut; imagining there was a chain hanging heavy around my waist, a swinging, severed end banging against my leg as I ran.

Digging deep I searched for something positive. Well, at least the pre-school was at the church and her grandparents were across the hall at choir practice. It was some consolation. As I contemplated the church, I heard God whisper to me, “I am the link in the chain between you that can never be broken.”

I looked at my watch; it was 11:00 A.M. A powerful surge of love and faith revived and strengthened our invisible bond.  I imagined being a fly on the wall of the preschool classroom and hearing Monkey say, “I want ‘bobo’(her security blanket). Where’s my ‘bobo’?”

For the first time since my daughter was born, I understood that we would always be united in Christ and experienced the power of that union.

Prayer: Thank you, God, for comforting me with your words in my time of need. I feel so unworthy, so blessed and so humbled. May I always find time to open myself to Your whispers. Amen.

This story is a perfect illustration of why I run. Running is the only way to silence the obsessive voices in my head, to clear my mind, to open myself to God’s presence. If I’d sat at home feeling sorry for myself, my thoughts would have been raging too loud for God’s whisper to be heard.
***
How do you clear your mind to hear God’s whispers?

 

My Jogging Stroller Safety Tips

When I first ran with the jogging stroller, I was nervous. I worried it was too big and cumbersome to control or maneuver easily around cars and pedestrians, but after just a couple of runs, the stroller started feeling like a natural extension of my body and even helped to improve my form by keeping me standing straight and looking ahead.

Despite feeling comfortable, I still feel a little nervous when I run with the stroller because it’s carrying precious cargo, so I do everything I can to make my runs with Monkey enjoyable and safe.

Ten Tips to Protect Your Little Running Partner:

  1. Don’t run with your infant unless he or she is able to sit up on their own, usually around 6 months old. Before I began running with Monkey in the jogging stroller, I checked with her pediatrician to make sure it was safe to do so.
  2. Run during daylight hours. Although I don’t take the jogging stroller at night or early morning, my jogging stroller has a reflective light on the wheels, as most jogging strollers do. My husband added additional strips of reflective tape on both sides of the stroller to make sure it was visible in the dark. It’s a precaution that comes in handy when it’s cloudy or foggy.
  3. Avoid running on narrow streets and busy roads. I’ll run along a main road if there are sidewalks; otherwise, I run through residential developments with wide streets and low traffic or on the campus of a nearby school.
  4. Avoid running in extreme temperatures. Now that she’s a toddler, Monkey lets me know when it’s too cold or hot to accompany me on a run, but when she was an infant, it was harder to know when the temperature was uncomfortable for her. At the time, I asked my doctor and he told me that she could handle temperatures as well as I could if she was dressed appropriately. I was comfortable taking infant Monkey in the jogging stroller in temperatures as low as 30 degrees as long as there was no wind chill, the run was short and she was bundled up. I’ve since read that it’s best to take infants running in temperatures between 50 and 80 degrees.
  5. Dress appropriately. I always remember that running generates heat in my body, but not in Monkey’s. If I step outside and feel chilly, I dress Monkey warmly with a hat and coat, even if I’m wearing shorts. I use sun block year round and apply it to Monkey’s skin too.
  6. Use the wrist strap. I keep a death grip on the handlebar of my jogging stroller, but just in case something unforeseen happened, I attach the wrist strap too.
  7. Buckle your child in the stroller.
  8. Have a first aid kit on board, including Neosporin, alcohol swabs, band-aids, Tylenol, and teething gel for babies.
  9. Keep a stroller bag, including wipes, diapers/spare underwear, a towel, a blanket, and a change of clothes.
  10. Take along snacks, juice/bottle, and a toy or two. When Monkey was an infant, the scenery was enough of a distraction, but now that she’s older, I allow her to bring along a toy. I try and limit it to one or two, but some days I end up pushing a stroller filled with baby dolls, books and Scooby-Doo figurines just to get out the door!

Run. Rejoice. Be safe.