Welcome back to another round of Five Things – where we share five little stories from our day-to-day experiences at home. Not everything is exciting enough to merit an entire blog post, but we had such great feedback from you when we started this segment last month, I’m excited to share another round of updates with you once again.
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1. Mother Nature Hates Me
You may have noticed that our blog content has slowed way down this month. It’s not from a lack of trying, but rather a massive lack of time to myself. I stay home with Dessa most days, but I try to schedule one day a week for her to spend time with my Mom so I can have some quiet time to blog. Dessa’s grandma visits usually fall on a Wednesday and I look forward to them all week. If I’m lucky, I’m able to crank out an entire blog post or at the very least knock out several small, time-consuming tasks on my computer.
The only problem is that Mother Nature is having a lot of fun at my expense because she always sends an ugly winter storm my way on the day that I have scheduled for my mom to babysit. Every. Freaking. Time. Today actually marks the fourth day in the past month that I’ve had to throw my blog plans out the window because I didn’t want to take Dessa out on the bad roads (I started writing this post last night, finished it in the early morning while Dessa was still asleep and finally had a chance to proofread it and add photos while Dessa ate lunch.)
The thing that’s really killing me right now is that a winter weather advisory was supposed to start at 11:00 this morning. It’s now early afternoon and we still haven’t seen a single snowflake or drop of freezing rain. I could have at least had a few hours of work time, but I decided to play it safe. Like I said, Mother Nature hates me.
Just about every parent that I know in Michigan is losing it because we have gotten crazy amounts of snow, ice, and cold weather and the snow days are mounting. As a teacher, I used to celebrate snow days and last year I celebrated them even more because a snow day meant that I could stay at home and snuggle all day with Dessa instead of going to work. The irony that I now stay at home and am monumentally inconvenienced by the terrible weather is not lost on me. But still, mommy needs to work!
Dessa started wearing pigtails in her hair a few weeks ago and it just might be the cutest thing ever. She looks so much bigger and older with the pigtails in her hair and I just keep looking at her and wondering what happened to my baby. It’s always a bit of an adventure to try to get Dessa to hold still while I put the pigtails in. I don’t think they hurt her because she doesn’t whine like she’s in pain. I think she just really hates being made to sit still. My current solution is to let her watch movie clips about dogs on Netflix while I pull her hair back. Dessa loves dogs and doesn’t usually get to watch any TV, so watching doggies on my computer is a real treat – one that sometimes ends in a tantrum after the pigtails are in place and the computer screen is turned off. Once the disappointment has worn off and the pigtails are in, Dessa goes back to being her happy little self and I honestly think she loves her pigtails. Once they’re up, she gently touches them and says “pigtails” in her funny little toddler way.
I had read that it can be harmful for toddlers to have their hair pulled back tightly on a regular basis, so I always use caution with Dessa’s pigtails. She generally only wears them a few times a week and I always put them in as gently as possible. So far, Dessa has never acted like they bother her when I put them in or take them out, so I’m don’t think they are pulling her hair too tightly.
3. Growing Our Faith Life
You may recall from our last Five Things update, that Rob and I had recently discovered Formed, which is a Catholic streaming service, sort of like Netflix for Catholics. They also allow non-subscribers to rent or purchase digital downloads of their content library. We have been trying to incorporate a few minutes of Catholic video content into our daily prayer routine. At the time, we were just finishing watching Finding Fatima, which was a fascinating documentary all about the Blessed Mother’s appearance at Fatima. Rob and I really enjoyed the content and were so excited about the streaming service.
Unfortunately, the following two documentaries we watched were not quite as gripping. Wanting to learn more about the Saints, we tuned in to a documentary about St. Thérèse of Lisieux. It may sound strange, but neither of us actually felt like we learned very much about St. Thérèse after watching the film. We just heard a lot of testimonies from people talking about why they are inspired by her love of God, which was sort of disappointing. Feeling deflated, we then watched Faith of our Fathers, which told the stories of many of the priests and laypeople who were martyred during the English Reformation. That presentation was much more informative. After a while it got a little boring and formulaic (the producers followed the basic format of introducing each Saint, touring where they practiced their faith in secret, describing their capture, and then displaying any remaining relics of the Saint), but then at the end they described how many of the martyrs died during that time and it just sort of broke my heart. Formed has many different kinds of content, not just documentaries, so Rob and I decided to start watching a feature film called Miracle of Saint Thérèse. It’s black and white and was shot in the 1960s. So far, we’ve only seen about 20 minutes of the film, but I already am more intrigued, even though it is quite old. Next time around, I want to watch a more recent drama. There’s one about Mother Theresa that I have my eye on and which I’m optimistic about.
Rob and I also set a goal of attending Mass every week this year and I’m proud to say that we have done an awesome job of that goal. There were a few weeks in a row that we had a serious problem attending Mass on time, but for the past three weeks, we’ve made it on time! I never thought I’d be so proud of such a simple accomplishment, but apparently, this is my life now. Many of you had recommended setting a routine of sitting in the front row for Mass and we head right for the front row if we are early enough. Dessa is remarkably well-behaved and I’m pretty sure it is because she enjoys seeing more of the action during Mass – especially when all the people walk by for offertory and communion.
4. Date Night
Weekly Mass attendance wasn’t the only goal that Rob and I set for ourselves this year. We also decided to do a better job of treating ourselves to a monthly date night. It’s so easy for us to let ourselves off the hook for a date night since or childcare options are limited and it’s always easier on the budget if we just stay home. But we’ve been trying really hard to make a better effort this year. Last month, we used a gift card to treat ourselves to Latin street food at Honcho, which we’ve been wanting to try for over a year. The food was amazing and it was incredibly restoring for the two of us to have quality time together. We have a babysitter lined up for another date this weekend and I am already so excited. Rob and I haven’t decided what we will actually do on our date night, but I’m sure we will nail that plan down soon.
5. Love & Logic and the Terrible Twos
Dessa is now 19 months old and it seems as though her Terrible Two behavior has made an early arrival. For the past few weeks, we’ve noticed that she is easily frustrated and more prone to tantrums. Even when she is in a very happy mood, she seems to take great pleasure in shouting the word “no” while she plays. Dessa has always been pretty mild-mannered, so needless to say, this isn’t exactly my favorite phase and we were determined to try to curb her behavior in any way that we can.
Several months ago, I purchased the book “Love and Logic for Early Childhood,” but never quite got around to reading it. Love and Logic is a philosophy I discovered during my early years of teaching, and it was great for the classroom, so I was excited to see that the authors had written a book specifically for parents of young children (ages birth to six years). I’m slowly making my way through the book, but I’ve already begun to apply the very simple skill of providing Dessa with choices she can make throughout the day. And let me tell you, these aren’t even big choices.
I simply provide Dessa with two options throughout the day that are equally good by me and let her decide which one she wants. Very simple things like what color bowl she wants her oatmeal to be served in, what color spoon she wants to use, if she wants a big kid cup or a straw cup to hold her milk, if she wants a slice of toast or a waffle to go with her oatmeal. I only offer two options and I try to hold each option in front of her so that she can point to the thing she wants since she isn’t quite ready to communicate her selections verbally. I can’t quite believe it, but I swear it is making a difference and Dessa is already a little easier to handle during the day with just that one practical strategy in place. I’m very eager to keep reading and discover what else we can do at home to help Dessa become the best version of herself so that we can spend as much time as possible with this sweet and silly girl, rather than her cranky alter ego.
And that concludes the latest update from our family. I really hope that Mother Nature is being kinder and more merciful to you than she has been to me. Here’s hoping that I actually get something accomplished today besides folding clothes and entertaining Dessa!
Love your 5 Things posts!!! I remember the twos! They are not easy but just a season. We called them The Terrific Twos. It helped us focus on the positive and shift our mindset. The three’s were The Triumphant Three’s!😉 You are doing great and being home with sweet Dessa is a blessing. It is a time you will look back on and be thankful for.
Maria Gavin says
I love the idea of the “terrific twos!” Thank you so much for your sweet words of encouragement. I am so thankful to have the time at home with her, even when she is going through a challenging phase.
The pigtails are adorable! Dessa is a woman with a mind of her own, which is a good thing! I have found the book Raising Your Spirited Child was a huge help- it was as if someone had given me the instruction manual for my son. Formed is such a great resource. If you are interested in a fascinating movie, Restless Heart about St. Augustine on formed (in the movie section) is fascinating. I didn’t think I would like it, but it was so good! For one thing, St. Ambrose is the boss! I will never think of him the same way again. St. Monica- awesome. I love to hear that you are growing your faith. God bless your family!
Maria Gavin says
Thank you so much for all of those recommendations! The devil has certainly been affecting our motivation to keep building our faith through Formed and we could use a really great movie for our watch list.
Sandy Natale says
Regarding the laundry folding (the chore I hate most, after washing dishes)—I have this sign over my washer:
“Dirty laundry reminds me that someone has worked, someone has played, someone has eaten, someone has slept, someone has enjoyed their day just as they will tomorrow if someone like me takes care with what they have to wear.”
I still hate laundry, and would rather be doing about a thousand other things, but this helps!
Maria Gavin says
I’m not a fan of the dishes, but laundry is one task that I don’t mind too much. It helps that we try and do one load at a time throughout the week. It also helps that it is one of the few household tasks that I can do while Dessa is awake (she loves laundry) and if I save it until she naps, it’s a rare way for me to be productive WHILE watching a show on TV. But I love your reminder about the blessing of laundry. Thank you!
I enjoyed this update! When you were training to be a teacher, were there classes or lessons that you took to be more patient? Or is patience just a natural gift that helps a person become a teacher? As I navigated the Terrible Twos and even toddler tantrums in the third year, I’ve often felt my patience lacking with one child. I couldn’t imagine what it’s like for a teacher with many children.
Maria Gavin says
Hi Tiffany, I can tell you that classroom patience is VERY different from Mommy patience. They definitely don’t teach how to be patient with children in college, but children in the classroom tend to behave and listen SO MUCH BETTER at school than they do for their parents. I can already see that Dessa is honing her ability to behave differently for other people than she does for me. My teacher patience helps with her, but she certainly tests it every day too.