Category: kids

 
Our boy Pax
Seems about time to update on life here with a dog in the mix. Pax is still a SWEET boy – he’s come out of his “first week in a new place, what’s up???” shell though. As it turns out, he does bark and whine occasionally. He does want to jump. And he is definitely a retriever! He may also have a touch of Chris’ clutter OCD, because any item left out of place on the floor seems to bug
the crap out of him. He picks up baby shoes, C3PO figurines, crayons… and brings them to me.
They say that dogs view their families as a pack, and they are most comfortable and well-behaved when they know they are not the alpha animal in the pack. I think he’s got our family figured out this way:
  • Chris is his favorite/the alpha when he’s around.
  • In the absence of Chris, Pax CLEARLY knows who’s the mama.
  • Susannah can also boss him around, so she’s up here in the order.
  • The baby is some kind of protected species, so she also seems to rank higher than Pax.
  • Then Pax sees himself —-> here <—.
  • And Jonas is here.
Yeah, what’s up with that? Well, Jonas is timid around Pax. He loves him, and he loves to throw for him to fetch, and loves petting the dog and feeding the dog. But he has that “nervous” body posture, so Pax started jumping up and putting his front paws on Jonas’ chest or shoulders. And when he does that, Jonas sort of freezes and whimpers for someone to move Pax off! In dog-ese, this communicates submission.
Now on the other hand, Pax listens to a little not-quite-three-year-old dynamo. I mean, seriously. She’s about as tall as he is! She weighs 28 pounds to his 60! And yet. She is all sass, all the time. She commands him with AUTHORITY in her little voice, and he obeys her. It’s a hoot.
The other day, she went to the closet and got a scoop of his food. It was 4:00 pm, not hardly doggie dinner time. We watched, smothering giggles, as she made her way across the kitchen toward his bowl. He was sniffing around near her, lifting off his front feet to see into the scoop. She’d stop walking and say “Ehh! [the “no” noise we make for dog purposes] Sit!” He would sit. “Good boy, Paxie!” and she’d take a few more steps. He’d nose near her elbows, and she’d do it again: “Ehh! Sit! …Good boy, Paxie!” All… the way….. to….. the bowl. She made him sit, tail wagging, until she poured the food. “Take it!” And Pax lunged at his surprise meal.
Another time, Jonas wanted to play with Pax. But Jonas’ definition of “play with Pax” is not what you might expect from an almost-six-year-old boy. 😉 “Hey Susannah, come help me with Pax!” So Susannah comes to the family room. “What, Jonas? What’s the mattah?” Jonas points at Pax. “Make him sit, and lay down, so I can pet him.” Susannah turns to face Pax and stretches out her hand, palm down. “SIT!” Pax sits. Susannah lowers her hand toward the carpet. “DOooooWN!” Pax lays down. Susannah flourishes her hand, displaying the dog to her brother Vanna-style. “They’a you go, Jonas; you can pet him now.” Jonas kneels down to pet the dog and Susannah sashays off to another adventure.

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The Scarecrow Who Loved Hay
by Jonas P. Nebel

Once upon a time, there was a little scarecrow who loved hay. Whenever he got some hay in him, he got squishier and squishier until he got bones. Then he began to walk and walk, all the way to the airport. When he saw a airplane, it looked like a bird. Whenever he saw the airplane-bird, he climbed onto it and it started to fly. Whenever it landed, it landed in Georgia. In Georgia, he met my Grandmama. Then he met my Poppa, my Nonna, and my cousin Ethan.

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Louise Bates Ames describes child development as a spiral between periods of disequilibrium and equilibrium. These loosely align with the “halves” and the “evens” – two year olds are generally in a place of equilibrium and they move into disequilibrium as they approach two-and-a-half. Turning three usually heralds another period of equilibrium.

Here’s hoping.
(If you haven’t read any of the titles in her Your Child: series, I highly recommend them. They’re older publications, so some of language feels a little quaint, but every single one has made me breathe a sigh of relief and has given me ideas for working through the behavioral challenges we are currently facing. I’ve been reading them since Jonas was 2! The titles alone make me smile. I need to find out if our new library, here, carries them – it’s about time for me to read up on Your Three Year Old: Friend or Enemy and Your Six Year Old: Loving and Defiant {yikes, I think Jonas is a little precocious on that one….})

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Overheard while they played this morning:

Jonas: Now you go to sleep. And don’t let bugs bite you either. And when you say, ‘Dad!’ I’ll be right here.
Jonas: {whisper} “Now say, ‘Dad!’
Susannah: Dad!
Jonas: {very convincing sleeping-adult voice} Whaaat?
Susannah: I want to go to the pool!
Jonas: It’s the middle of the night! Go back to sleep. It’s still sleep time.
—————–
Susannah: Jonas, will you read me this book?
Jonas: No, you can read it yourself now. You’re a big girl.
Susannah: Okay.
——————-
Susannah: Let’s watch a show. Bring me the ‘mote.

Jonas: {hands her the talking Ironman toy} Here you go.
Susannah: {pushes button: Woosh! I.AM.IRONMAN!} I will watch some news and see the weatha’. Then I turn on your show, okay?
Jonas: All right.
——————-
Susannah: {bumps into Jonas}
Jonas: Back off! This is not a karate class.
——————-
Susannah: {tapping unsharpened pencils against a play pot} {to the tune of “Farmer in the Dell”} We gonna make some soup, we gonna make some soup, hi-ho-dee-day-dee-o, we gonna make some soup.
——————-
What IS it about the magical hour right after breakfast!? I love it. I want to bottle it. When they play together this nicely, I tend to try to stay on the edges of their zone. I practically hold my breath. It seems like if they see me more fully than “out of the corners of their eyes” it throws off the mojo and they suddenly NEED me or they start squabbling.

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One of my all-time favorite songs to sing to the kids goes:

If you want to be a grump, that’s okay;
But go and be a grump a little further away!
It’s not that I don’t love you,
‘Cause you know I do!
Sometimes I’m grumpy, too
.

Here’s a snippet of my day. Susannah was trying to cut with scissors, and it was hard, so she was pretty grumpy. Jonas doesn’t like to see her grumpy, so he tried to cheer her up. There’s a little bit of Beatles, some knock-knock jokes, and everything eventually dissolves into potty humor. (The “everybody clap” song is from The Wiggles.) We finally get to see Susannah smile again, and all is right with the world.

(Until a few hours later, when I was cooking dinner and took a call. While I spoke to my father-in-law, Susannah stole an egg, took it to her room to “cook” in her play kitchen, and cracked the egg on her head. It splashed all over her, into a few of her play dishes, and on her carpet. She told me she licked the yellow part and “crucked” all the shell pieces. Indeed.)

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Dear Susannah,

You are two years old! (You really are. Even though every time someone asks you, you say with a grin, “I five!” When we reply, “No, you’re two!” you give us flirty eyes and say, “Yes. I am. I two!”)

At your doctor’s visit this week, you weighed 25 1/2 lbs and stand 35″ tall. What a girl! (That puts you in the 93rd percentile for height and the 33rd percentile for weight. And your head circumference of 18″ is in the 10th percentile.) Some people say you can guess a person’s height when they are an adult by multiplying their 2-year-old height by two. If that’s true, you’ll be 5’10” when you’re grown up! Which reminds me: no matter how tall you get, you always look up to your mother. Try to keep that in mind, okay?
How can I describe life with you right now? You are a bundle of energy. You wake up talking and you sing yourself to sleep most nights. You love your brother – and yet, you love smacking him when you’re frustrated. You can climb anything, jump off of anything, and open even the most well-planned babyproofed items. You are unstoppable.
You’re not much of a cuddler if Mommy or Daddy asks you to sit in our laps, but when you are ready you’ll come to us and ask, “Pick you up? I need see you. I hug you me?” You don’t define the word see the way most people do – if you ask to see someone, you don’t merely want to lay eyes on them. You want to be in their arms, in their laps, climbing their torso, in their face. Sometimes when you cuddle into me fiercely, I joke with Daddy that you’re trying to get back inside my body.
You’re still an incredibly tactile little girl. You smell, taste, and feel everything. You go through life by throwing your whole body into every moment. You dance and jump with coordination that amazes me for someone your age! After we move this summer, we’re planning to find a dance or gymnastics class you can take, because we think you’ll love it and be naturally skilled for it.
At 24 months, you are still nursing several times a day. We have finally nightweaned, from bedtime up through 4:00 a.m. But during the daytime, you often announce, “I need na-na’s!” One day, when I arrived at Lorie’s house to pick you up from babysitting, you started dancing a jig as soon as I came to the door. “Mama! Mommy! Hi! Take coat off. I need na-na’s!” I laughed and hugged you, and sat down to chat with Lorie and to nurse you. While I was taking off my coat and getting settled, you were spinning in the middle of the room, making up a song: “Na-na’s! Mommy na-na’s! I love na-na’s! So nummy, nummy na-na’s.” Nursing is one of the deep loves of your life, and it certainly makes sense: as a 2nd baby, I think you sometimes need to nurse as a way to connect with Mommy without intrusion by big brother. As a kinesthetic person, nursing satisfies so many of your needs for the world – sweet taste, familiar smell, gentle touch, comforting sound. As a dairy-intolerant kid (even though this is improving), you still rely on the nutritional balance of mother’s milk to fill dietary needs. And as a firecracker of a toddler, nursing recharges your batteries when you’ve just about worn yourself out. No wonder you’re showing no signs of stopping – and that’s fine with me.
This coming year will bring so many changes to our life. I know that your resilience, your persistence, & your determination will serve you well as you grow into a sturdy three-year-old. I love you, Susannah, and I always will.
Love,
Mama

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Meet the author

MICHELLE NEBEL

I write uplifting women’s fiction woven with threads of faith, grace, and Southern hospitality. My blog is where I share a glimpse of my life, and I hope you’ll find the thoughts here encouraging!

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