Friday, 30 March 2012

When God is obvious

Answers to pleas and prayers come in all forms, but for me, the most poignant answers are always like a smack to the head from the Word of God. I can pinpoint 3 previous examples of this, and now I have a fourth. You see, so often as we read the scriptures, we must use our minds to help adapt the ancient traditions and stories to our modern lives. I have never met a Shepherd, but I can understand the metaphor and translate it to my own life. But, as I said, every once in a while when I am really desperate for understanding, God strips away all the imagery and metaphors and gives me a straight up, no holds barred, answer. And it is incredible.

Today this answer came in an article in our church magazine, the Ensign. It was written by the apostle David A Bednar, entitled "The Atonement and the Journey of Mortality." I love Elder Bednar's teachings, because his background in education resonates with my logical mind. In this article, he wrote about the enabling power of grace in our lives. The thrust of his message is that when we face trials in life, we are not always promised immediate deliverance. Rather, faithful men and women in the scriptures prayed for strength through God's grace (enabling power) to help them through the hardship.

The concept struck me profoundly. I felt immediately the truth of it. Elder Bednar quoted many stories in the scriptures of instances when people were granted strength to bear. It made me immediately think of my own situation.

I knew there was another little baby to join our family, but when I trusted in this feeling, I expected to be "blessed for obedience" by not being sick at all during this pregnancy, by being granted the physical strength to overcome the illness I knew so well with my other three pregnancies. When I fell sick at 4 weeks pregnant, I was disappointed, but continued on in faith, knowing there would be the typical alleviation at 4 months. When 4 months came and went, I grew disheartened. By this point, my doctor said that in all likelihood I would be sick the entire pregnancy. And I wasn't just sick, like with the others, I was so sick I was daily IV medication and hydration just to keep me going.

I was angry. This wasn't the kind of deliverance or blessing for obedience I had in mind.

Two weeks ago I passed into the third trimester. Something in me had held out hope that perhaps I might improve in this last third of the pregnancy. No such luck. And then, to make things worse, the last two days I have felt so bad I have been confined to bed once again, just like those early weeks and months. So today I was lying in my bed, tears welling from the discomfort and pain, and a sense of despair on how to face the next three months.

Having finished my book and with a migraine that prevented me from watching TV, I picked up the Ensign and started at the beginning. I read and read, until I got to Elder Bednar's article. This line stood out in particular: "As you and I come to understand and employ the enabling power of the Atonement in our personal lives, we will pray and seek for strength to change our circumstances rather than praying for our circumstances to be changed."

My mind was awakening; I was starting to get it. But each scriptural example Elder Bednar gave left me still lacking in understanding. I kept repeating to myself "but how can I change my circumstance? There is nothing in this pregnancy that can be done other than wait it out. I want this concept to apply to me, but I just don't see how it does." I felt more of that despair.

Then, toward the end of the article, came this paragraph, straight from Elder Bednar's life experience:

Sister Bednar is a remarkably faithful and competent woman, and I have learned important lessons about the strengthening power from her quiet example. I watched her persevere through intense and continuous morning sickness—literally sick all day every day for eight months—during each of her three pregnancies. Together we prayed that she would be blessed, but that challenge was never removed. Instead, she was enabled to do physically what she could not do in her own power.

I readily admit that tears filled my eyes. God knew my desire to apply this teaching in my life, but He also saw my frustration in being unable to make it fit. So he "struck me over the head" - no metaphors, no imagery, no likening of the scriptures - just a straight up answer to a desperate plea.

I find it funny that God knows I need this kind of obvious hint now and then. I am a lover and student of English literature. I love to read into texts, admire a beautiful metaphor, apply an ancient story to modern day life. You'd think I would be one of the last people who needs straight answers from the scriptures. And yet I am so grateful for this kind of clarity in the times I need it most. It is a beautiful reminder that God is watching over each of us as individuals.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Late night chats

I think it was last year some time when I came up with the idea of having a late night chat with Colin before he went to bed. James and I were getting frustrated with the length of time it was taking to get the boys into bed. It wasn't that we were trying to rush them off to sleep, just that there is such a short time after James gets home, and to allow an hour for dinner prep/eating/cleanup and an hour for bedtime meant that there was no "fun time" for a dad and his sons. So we would try and squeeze bedtime into such a short amount of time, and it never worked, and we were always rushing, knowing the boys needed their sleep.

I took a step back one day and tried to analyze what was going on. I noticed that one of the biggest time eaters during the bedtime routine was Colin's desire to talk, and talk, and talk, and talk! It's like he had the entire day up their in his brain just waiting to spill out 2 minutes before lights out. So I came up with Colin's "chat time." Once we turn out the light for Caleb and Benjamin (who share a room), either James or I would take Colin into his room, tuck him into bed, and stay for an extra five or ten minutes just to "chat about our day." Talk about your jackpot parenting moment. Colin was eager to get to chat time, so he stopped lagging while getting ready for bed. The extra time-eating chatter was saved up for his special time. He got some much needed one-on-one time, which we can see is not only important for an oldest child who is expected to be grown up, but also for Colin's personality.

I love parenting moments like these. Every once in a while I hit on something that is just perfect for us, and solves a myriad of problems or issues that had been lurking in dark corners. Sure, there are a lot of things I try that don't work, and some never even get off the ground. But for every ten that fail, it's worth it for that one that is brilliant.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Sterilized Faith?

As I raise my children, it is constantly on my mind how to make faith real to them. Real in the sense that faith is a living thing within them, not just a vague idea or belief. I read a great article by Jim Daly this week that captured my feelings on this and spurred my mind on about how I can present a more real image of what Jesus working in our lives looks like. Here's an excerpt:

"Our Hands Unsterilized

(Preacher) Clifford Peale was a compassionate man, determined to help anyone who asked. One night, a woman from a local brothel phoned the Peale home. She wanted to know if the minister would come pray with a dying prostitute. Peale agreed, and when he hung up the phone, he said to his son, "Norman, put on your overcoat and come with me on an errand of pastoral mercy."
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Norman's mother gasped. "You are not going to take our 10-year-old son to that place of sin," she said.
"I am," the father replied. "Norman can see Jesus reaching for a sheep who was lost but wants to come home to the Father's house."
Would I have taken my sons along on such a mission? Would you? Peale's story comes from a different era and culture, but it still challenges me. I wonder if we, as parents, often present to our kids a faith that has been overly sterilized, a faith that does not align with the inevitable reality of tougher times. Why should kids continue to find faith relevant if it doesn't appear viable during the good and bad?"

(Jim Daly, Thriving Family)

Too often, I think, we sit in church and associate with other church-goers and we only see a tidied, well-presentable side of the body of Christ. Everyone either has their life fairly well put together, or puts on a show that it is. We have a fear of a life that is messy, trying to shield our families from the potential negative influences. But in this we discount two very important things: 1) our potential to be a positive influence on someone who feels lost and hopeless and 2) the reality that Jesus came to heal the sick, not the healthy.

We don't need to sterilize our faith. The scriptures are replete with examples of people whose lives were upside down, hopeless, lost, and even the epitome of sin. Yet time after time they were touched by the hand of God through people of faith, people like you and me, people who weren't afraid to get their hands dirty in the work of God.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

If I have a girl...

(NO - we don't know what we are having!)

I was wondering today what I would be like with a little baby girl. I was a tomyboy as a kid. I never wore pink. I hated bows in my hair. But as I see so many little baby girls around with big flowers and bows and headbands, hair pulled up into pigtails, flowing in frills of pink, would I, too, succumb to the adorability of it all?

A couple weeks back I was putting away some of Benjamin's clothes he's outgrown and wondering about each piece: could a little girl wear this? Is there a big difference between girl jeans and boy jeans for toddlers? Will people think my daughter is a boy if she's wearing a truck shirt? Will it bother me if they do?

I do love the combination of green and white with pink. There is something so fresh about it, and less "girly" than the traditional shades of pink and white alone. If I have a girl, I'd love to make a quilt for her crib out of those colours, just to enjoy them for a little bit after six years of blue.

The anticipation of not knowing is eating away at me! But in less than three months our new little baby will be here and then we'll know.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

No yelling

"There should be no yelling in the home unless there is a fire."
- David O. McKay

This quote popped up online the other day and it has been sitting with me ever since. Neither James nor I are constant yellers, but lately there has been much more than we'd like. Granted, our tempers are short due to stress, lack of sleep, illness, pregnancy and work overload, but if I deep down felt like any of these were adequate excuses, then this quote wouldn't be sitting on my mind so heavily.

The problem lately has been raised voices over insignificant things. Two things are the big culprits: kids not listening and toys underfoot.

The kids not listening is a half-and-half problem, meaning that half the time it's the kids fault, and half the time James or I haven't given them appropriate instructions. Either way, we really do want to learn to encourage our kids with softer tones. It works a thousand times better anyway, so I don't know why we resort to yelling.

Case in point: last night Benjamin was being a little imp at bedtime. For two hours he kept slipping out of his bedroom and coming downstairs. We threatened, we yelled, we put him in his high chair, we ignored him, we fed him...all to no avail. Finally, at 10pm, I took him upstairs into his bedroom and shut the door behind us. Then, in the dark (and with Caleb sleeping in the same room) I proceeded to quietly, calmly and gently explain to Benjamin that it was bedtime. He screamed and thrashed and cried. I kept my cool, and in that same calm tone kept repeating myself: his soother was in his bed, he could have it when he lied down, it was dark outside and nighttime, it was time to go to sleep. It took 45 minutes before he exhausted himself, but eventually he climbed into bed. He tested me more than a few times by claiming the soother in bed, then inching his feet toward the floor. I held my ground and plucked the soother from his mouth the moment one toe hit the floor. 5 more minutes and he gave in. I rubbed his back and sang soft lullabies. Finally he was asleep.

(I had to repeat the procedure from midnight until 2 am, when he was screaming to sleep in my bed. He'd been sleeping with me at night the last week because he was so sick and waking constantly unable to breathe through his stuffy nose. So hard to break those "exceptions" we allow for!)

The lesson learned was that my soothing voice worked infinitely better and faster than yelling at him to get back in bed.

The toy issue is one we're still dealing with, trying to teach the kids to put things away after they play with them. We are actually not bad in the consistency department here. I don't let the kids go to bed without tidying the playroom. And once we do our next purge, hopefully with fewer toys it will be easier to keep clean.

You see? There are answers to everything. The implementation can be tough, but worthwhile. Hopefully there will be a lot less yelling in our house now, unless, of course, there is a fire.

Monday, 19 March 2012

Mother's Day gift

I put in my order with James for my Mother's Day present: a jig saw. No, not a jig saw puzzle, just another saw to add to my tool collection. I've got a couple of pending projects I could really use one for. I told him he might have to wait until Father's Day to get a good deal on one. Unless they maybe sell one of their "pink tool" collections for Mom's in May. I wonder why women's tools must be pink? I wonder who was on that marketing campaign. Although there is something pretty about a pink power tool...

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Could I get rid of the microwave?

The microwave is one of those household things that I've never really liked, but still use a lot. I know that they are deemed "safe," in terms of radiation and all that other scary stuff. And yet there still seems to be a lot of controversy around the research, and a lot of people who won't use them.

I find myself on the fence about it all the time. I don't use it for cooking, but I do use it for food prep. Mostly we use it to warm up leftovers quickly (30 seconds and you're good to go!) I also use it for some quick defrosting (like frozen fruit for smoothies) and occasionally to pre-cook vegetables before I use them in my cooking.

So could I get rid of it? I've heard that reheating on the stove or in the toaster oven is just as easy, almost as quick, and usually results in better tasting left-overs. It just uses an extra pot or tray, since you can just throw your plate into the microwave. Defrosting is a little tougher, I think. I don't often remember at 8 in the morning to take out that chicken, and sometimes I don't even know that I'll feel like a fruit smoothie later in the afternoon. Pre-cooking the vegetables would be easy; I just need to get used to taking the extra step on the stove.

The other thing that drives me nuts is the space it takes up. I have a very small kitchen, and space is at a premium. Right now the microwave is on a stand that houses linens, laundry on one shelf below, and flour and potatoes on the bottom shelf. So the space is multipurpose. But it does make that wall a little squeezy to get around the table.

So the microwave will be one of the bigger quandaries I'll consider when I do my huge house purge and re-organization this summer. Maybe I'll try putting it in the garage for a couple of months and see how it goes.

Friday, 16 March 2012

The Spoil Factor

In talking with my sister-in-law the other day, she commented how she felt a little guilty that the boys played video games with her while they were visiting. In light of my post about media and doing what works for you, she worried that she had crossed the line with some strict parenting rules I held to.

I laughed and then assured her that what I didn't write about that day was the "spoil factor." This is the rule that we have that when the boys are visiting with friends and family, our home rules need not apply. The boys can have dessert if they don't finish dinner, play extra video games, go to bed late, have cereal for breakfast...all those fun things that grandparents and aunts and uncles get to do (for children they then get to send home to parents!) Sure, if I also happen to be at grandma's house I will casually slip in some fruit or vegetables, or run interference on media if I see it affecting one child too much. But usually I just let it go.

I will say that this works for us because none of our relatives are overly indulgent to the point of it being really detrimental. And it likely wouldn't happen more than once a week, or one every two weeks. That I can handle.

(However, I have written before about my strict adherence to nap times and bed times, because that is one variant that throws things off for days, and I'm just not up to dealing with the fallout for two or three days after!)

Anyway, it's nice that the boys know that Ma and Pa will probably take them to Playplace for lunch, and the Grandma always has a tiny box of Smarties in her pocket for them, or that Auntie Jennifer lets them eat cereal in bed while watching cartoons, or Uncle Sean and Aunt Julia have awesome video games. As my own nephews and nieces get a little older, I'm excited to fill in my own role as aunt and see what fun (damage) I can do.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Being useful

There is all sorts of different kinds of children's programming these days, with all different kinds of themes, styles, feels, and messages. One of the favourites in our house is Thomas the Tank Engine, but I'm pretty sure that's mostly because it's about trains, rather than any artistic or thematic content.

About five years ago, I remember talking with a friend who said she never allowed her young son to watch Thomas. As a mother and a teacher, she objected to the constant message in the episodes that it is important to be "useful." This line of thinking falls into the popular idea today that self-esteem is the top priority when teaching children.

Now, understand that I do not object to the importance of self-esteem. My parents did a fantastic job helping me understand my own worth, and it definitely led to my success and confidence in life thus far. But the more I see the burgeoning emphasis placed solely on self-esteem, the more I start to question this focus.

I wonder in a society where young adults seem less and less able to strike out on their own if the pendulum has not swung too far. Are we so concerned with making sure everyone thinks so well of themselves that they fall into the "entitlement trap?"

Personally, I don't think that the idea of being "useful" in our society is a bad one. It is important for children to grow and take their place in our world, find some way to contribute and enjoy doing it. More than that, they also need to understand it's not just what they do, but how they do it, that is important. This world requires relationships, and relationships have a certain standard of expectations.

Anyway, my two cents, I suppose.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Doing what works

I was reading in a parenting magazine the other day about media time. This is a big thing in our house. I grew up with almost no media time - we had no video game systems at all, the TV didn't go on at all during the week, and the only computer time we got was a short time on educational games.

But then I got married and had 3 boys, and discovered the boys are COMPLETELY different than girls, and that my perfect philosophy was going to need some adapting. I still try to limit media as much as I can, but I realize that with a husband who loves movies and video games, and a society that also embraces media, to unequivocally take it out of the house isn't realistic for us.

The first technique that really worked was our TV time. The boys get to watch 1 episode each day, when they first get home from school. We assign the days to the kids, so there is no fighting on whose turn it is to pick the episode. The shows are all on DVD, so I have complete control of what they watch and how long they watch for. We set the rules very clearly and adhere to them strictly. And it really works.

I was really against any video game system, but I lost that battle to James when his Dad offered to give us his Wii system for free. So instead we have limited this to Saturdays only. This one we have not been so successful at. Somehow "special Wii days" crop up waaaay too often. The result has been a lot of disagreement, fighting and tears over when they can play. It is obvious how our lack of discipline in a schedule has created confusion, especially for Caleb. In his eyes, he doesn't see any rhyme or reason as to when we let him play and when we don't. We must do better here.

This week is March Break, which meant thinking about the rules more closely. I didn't want it to be a free-for-all media blitz just because the kids are on vacation. (This will also be a good test run for the summer!) I sat down and thought about a couple of things: 1) our circumstances, like me being so sick and having all three boys home all day 2) my goals for how the boys spend the day, like wanting them to get outside in this beautiful weather!

The plan ended up looking something like this:

No Wii except on Saturdays. That one just has to be in stone for now, so Caleb can see the parameters of it.

Instead of just an episode, the boys can watch one "long movie" (feature length) in the afternoon while Benjamin and I nap. We have hired help for the mornings, but I'm on my own for the afternoons. Benjamin needs quiet in order to rest, and I really need to lie down as well. I can't say this will always be the rule for movies, but it works for us right now.

When faced with no Wii, the boys then slyly asked about computer video games. There are only two or three that we actually have for them to play, and they never seem to get so addicted to the computer games as with the Wii. (read: no tantrums and tears when we turn it off.) So I made a deal. Each day they could earn 30 minutes of computer time by either a) cleaning or tidying for 30 minutes or b) spending 30 minutes outside. This fit nicely with my goal of trying to get them outside more. Because I've been pregnant and sick, or nursing a newborn for the last 6 years, we haven't been able to spend as much time outside as I wish we could have. Believe me, that will change once this little darling comes! At any rate, it's no surprise that they chose to play outside rather than clean up, so I definitely won that one!

In the end of all this, I've really learned that what's most important is doing what works for us, for right now, and being okay with that. There's no use in comparing our habits with anyone else's because everyone's needs, desires, children and circumstances are different. We just need to do what works.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Illness and other things

It's been a heck of a week. After our whole family staying healthy all winter (even with TWO kids in school), we finally got hit with a flu bug. Everyone got it in succession. James has had it the last two days. I think I avoided it, but then again, how would I know because every day feels like I have the flu.

But enough of that. Illness and sickness is par for the course for me, and frankly, I'm tired of thinking about it.

So I'm thinking about other things.

Like decorating.

Like decorating the kids' bedrooms after the baby comes. I'm brainstorming and surfing the web for boys rooms ideas. I can't decide between something classic, like old model airplanes and faded blues and reds, or something fun and colourful out of Ikea. Right now I'm leaning toward Ikea, because I like the idea of one stop decorating and shopping. I'm just not that good at putting things together from all over the place, and collections that coordinate were made for people like me.

The nursery will be another project. If we have a boy, it will stay how it is. If we have a girl, then I'm going to try something with green and brown, with a little blue for Benjamin and a little pink for the girl. (Yes, until we do the extension in another few years, our two youngest will share a room, no matter the sex of the new baby.)

And the KITCHEN! The kitchen in our house is the bane of my existence. There just isn't much that can be done. I've considered all sorts of renovation ideas, including knocking out a wall into the back of the garage when we do our big reno. But really, nothing will improve what we have enough to make the expense worth it. But I can give it a facelift, which is what I'm planning. Some new floors, a new counter top, and a makeover for the cabinet doors. The cabinets were the real sticking point for me, because they are custom size, very large, and can't be solved easily by replacing or painting. But I'm considering a fun beadboard redo of them, which actually has me excited about it.

Of course, all this must wait at least until September. But it's something else to look forward to!

Tuesday, 6 March 2012


There is a blue sky outside, but even that is not helping the case indoors today.

After a surprisingly healthy winter, our family finally caught a bug. Thankfully it's not a strong one. Unfortunately it did not hit everyone at once, but each kid one day at a time. I sort of wish I could have just quarantined everyone to the living room with a big puking bucket and a boatload of towels.

Today all three kids are home. Caleb is pretty much over it, but an accident 5 minutes before the bus came this morning convinced me to keep him home. He gets grumpy and teary-eyed at school if he's not 100%. Plus there was NO WAY I was going to trudge out all the kids to pick him up if he did get sick at school. Seems like it was a false alarm.

Colin fell asleep on the couch at 10am, which means he'll be awake during nap time, which means I won't get to sleep. Not good, since I've been up three nights in a row with sick kids. My mother instinct doesn't let me fall back asleep after I've been up once with a sick child. I just lie in bed with my ears tuned to every single bump and creak.

Benjamin is fine, health-wise, and a terror, behaviour-wise. He is climbing up everything to get things he isn't allowed. I'm afraid to leave the room because he'll surely break his neck while I'm gone. I heard him tip over a container of Cheerios this morning. And I just left it. It was already all over the floor. Might as well get 20 minutes of distraction out of it.

Aaaaaaand, to top it all off, my nausea and dizziness and migraines are back with a vengeance. I had 3 AWESOME days last week, where I even organized the basement and fixed the leak in the kitchen sink with my dad and cleaned and tidied the bedrooms. Now I'm back to the yuckiness. Which is made worse by the kids throwing up, because it makes me throw up. I'm trying to rely on Gravol, but I can only take that when I don't need to drive or watch the kids alone for 2 hours after I take it.

Some days can't even be helped by a blue sky.

Monday, 5 March 2012

What a girl wears

If you're interested in this topic, read this article at the Toronto Star today.

The gist of it is that a boy wrote an essay and then distributed it at school. It was a letter to girls about inner beauty versus outer beauty. Here are a couple samples:

He praised “the silent ones, the intelligent ones, the ones that don’t talk about people behind their backs, the ones that guys don’t flock to in droves, the ones that don’t dress in revealing clothing..."

"Attractiveness doesn’t come from wearing the latest fashion, and it doesn’t come from being scantily clad in public, or putting on makeup, or having a pretty face, or a nice body. No. Real attractiveness comes from having a certain dignity.”

What really struck me was the title of the Star Article "The Birth of the Controlling Man." Apparently, this type of opinion would only come from a man who wants to control women by telling them what to wear and how to act.

Granted, I haven't read the entire essay (it wasn't available). But personally, I think girls need to hear something like this. As a teen girl, I don't think I ever really understood what revealing clothing does to the brain of a teenage boy. I think that, while we were looking for attention from the opposite sex, and wanting to be attractive, we weren't after the raw lust that that kind of clothing can actually evoke. And this is the real point here - I think a lot of girls just don't understand the difference between a teenage boy's brain and a teenage girl's brain.

If I have a daughter (TBD!), this is the point I would drive home when it comes to choosing clothing. And as I do already have three sons, I just hope that in the classroom environment they will be able to focus and concentrate a little on the lesson and not on short skirts and low cut tank tops.

At any rate, the author of the article in the Star is a woman, and as a woman myself, I thought she completely misinterpreted or misunderstood the boy's thoughts. When a boy stands up for modesty and tells girls that he finds them attractive without the revealing clothing, girls might actually listen. Sometimes the only way a teen will actually hear what is being said is when another teen is saying it. And since media seems to be pushing the opposite point of view, it's nice to hear someone speaking out for modesty. And I don't think it was controlling in the least.

(If you're interested on more on this topic, Shaunti Feldman wrote a great book called "For Women Only" and also one called "For Girls Only" that dissects her surveys and research into the different ways men and women think, especially when it comes to being "visual")

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Organized Simplicity

"Creating a more peaceful living space doesn't happen overnight, nor does this tranquility remain forever unchanged once you've arrived at uncluttered nirvana. A peaceful home requires a change of attitude, a habit of regular maintenance, and a lifelong commitment to place higher priority on relationship and events than on things."

We are slowly, slowly working on this, beginning with our home environment. Despite the fact that the ground is still snow covered and any chance of garage sale is a couple months off, I'm starting a gentle purge around the house. A big garbage bag and box of toys left the play room last week. (And still there is too much in there!) I was feeling well enough two days ago to clear paths in our basement where stuff has piled while I've been sick. The laundry area got a mop and purge also. The upstairs hall closet got a first go over, but still needs a bigger sweep. The garage is just scary, and will have to wait until better weather when I can haul things out onto the driveway to try and make some sense out of it.

But there is promise. The first step truly is a change in mentality, and I really think I've turned that corner.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

How I am spoiling my Ben

So the last two weeks of Benjamin in his toddler bed have been adventurous. We certainly haven't had the trouble that some of my friends have related, but it wasn't smooth sailing, either. This is the latest we've done the switch over from the crib (the older two boys were less than 18 months) and that may play a big part in it.

Night time usually results in us having to tell Benjamin to get back into bed several times. Luckily his doorknob is tricky, so he usually can't get out and come downstairs. We often hear him wandering around in his room. We took the night light out so there isn't anything to look at, and we don't keep toys in their rooms so there is nothing to play with. Our biggest problem is that he sometimes tries to wake Caleb up, who is asleep the moment his head hits the pillow. This usually only lasts about half an hour, and only occasionally do we have to take him out of the room to soothe him to sleep. Things are usually quiet within an hour of bedtime.

Nap times have been slightly less successful. The hard part is that the transition happened to coincide with that period of trying to give up the nap. I hit this with the older boys also, just past two. They think they don't want to nap, but I found if I persevere they come out the other end being super nappers. During the day the boys are at school, so it's just Benjamin and I (for now, at least!) I put him down for nap, and he usually puts up a fuss for 15 or 20 minutes. He calls out for me, and tries to talk to me. Eventually he falls asleep on the wood floor in front of his door. Then, of course, when he comes to the wake part of his sleep cycle (after 45 minutes), he realizes he's uncomfortable and on the floor and cries out. So I go in, scoop him up and bring him into my bed, where he promptly falls asleep for another 2 hours.

Yes, I am subconsciously aware that I am spoiling him. But there is nothing like sleeping next to your beautiful two year old, watching his peaceful face and listening to his steady deep breath. I absolutely love these naps. I doze for half of it, and read for the other half. Or I just lie there and watch him sleep. I've never had this luxury before, since I always had another kid sleeping at the same time and had to be somewhere I could get to either kid. And in four months I won't be able to do it any more with Benjamin. So while I know that in four months it might be a hard habit to break, for now, I'm just going to relish in it.