Friday, March 20, 2015

What's In a Name? -An 8th Birthday Story

Tomorrow is Miss Lana Lu's 8th birthday.  Lana Lu.  Some of you might think Lu is her middle name since I call her that a lot.  However, it is not.  Her middle name is Drew, after her father, Andrew, and not Drew Barrymore like some people have also asked me.  Although eight years ago when she was born all she had was a middle name for a while.  For Andy and I middle names for the girls were the easier part.  Coming up with the first names led us to divorce proceedings.  Then we thought getting divorced over choosing a baby name was kinda stupid so you know, we worked it out, and settled on a name, or so we thought.  We are good like that.  However, little Lana didn't have a name on the day she was born.

Eight years ago today I went to the hospital to give birth to my second girl.  Andy and I had settled on giving her Drew for her middle name, because Sonya had Lynne for hers, which is also my middle name.  At the time we thought we were going to name Lana, Holly.  Holly was a name I had always liked, partially because of the British character on General Hospital I had watched growing up, but also because I think it's a pretty name.  Plus there was the fact that we really couldn't agree on anything else.  We had lists of names, but Holly was the only one we both were ok with, so we thought we would go with it.  The only bit of a problem with the name was that it also belonged to a girl Andy dated in college.

I know all of you women out there just gasped and now think I'm crazy for even entertaining this idea. To be honest, I didn't care.  I mean she was a girl he dated for a few months in college. It's not like she was ever someone he was planning on marrying.  Far from it in fact. She may have been a bit of a um...how do I put this nicely...promiscuous girl.  Yeah that's a nice word than what I was thinking of in my head (slut). What? She was!  I'm not being mean, it really is just a fact.  However,  I've never been the type to care about who dated who in their past.  I mean it's their past.  I have past boyfriends too and we were married now and pregnant with our 2nd baby.  It's not like I had a reason to be insecure.  I can't help it if the girl he dated had a name we both liked.  And dammit it was the ONLY name we both liked.  So I said- who cares.  Andy had more reservations about it than I did.  She isn't someone he keeps in contact with at all, but he worried that if he ever did run into her one day what would she think about us having a daughter with her name.  Would she think Andy harbored some burning desire for her still?  He didn't want that, because he certainly didn't.  I offered other names like Lila, or Georgia (yes that name was in the running since I had Sonya), but he wasn't keen on any of those at the moment, so we stuck with Holly.

Then I went through 23 hours of labor with the soon to be little Holly.  I was doing everything I could to not have a c-section again and I succeeded.  After I gave birth to my second daughter I was on a high I don't think I could even describe.  Okay some of that might have been the pain medication. The rest of it was the feeling of accomplishment that I hadn't been wheeled to the operating room again to have my stomach cut open.  No this baby got pushed out and I had done it.  I was elated. I was ready to run marathon!  Okay maybe not a marathon.  And perhaps not run, but I could sit up and gingerly walk to the bathroom on my own.  A million times better then right after a c-section.  

"Let me see her!" I said as they weighed and checked her APGAR.

Andy was standing with her talking to her as they looked her over.

"So?" I asked, "Is she still Holly?"

He looked up and me and definitively shook his head no.   Then when they brought her to me I saw why.  She really in no way looked like a Holly.  I don't know how else to say it.  This is why when people name their babies in the womb, then start calling them that name, I personally think it's a big mistake.  That baby can come out not looking like your name choice at all.  My second daughter was NOT a Holly.

"Then what are we going to name her?" I asked Andy, hoping he had an answer.  He did not.  Back to the proverbial drawing board.

After we had moved to our room and we had a number of people ask her name, to which we had no answer, I pulled out my notebook.  I had brought it with me with all the names we had gone over throughout the nine months.  I was calling out names I had written down for each letter to Andy and he said no or I did.  Then we got to "L".

"Lonnie?" I asked.

Andy paused for a minute.  "That's not bad," he said.

"Or how about Lana?" I said looking at the other "L" name on my list.

"That's a good one too," he admitted.

I looked down at my sleeping baby and tried out both names.  She had been born with a set of full lips anyone who's had collagen injections would have killed for.  The names both seemed to suit her, but we were still unsure.  It was late and Andy had to get home to relieve our friend Melinda who had been staying with Sonya for over a day at that point.  He left and we decided to sleep on it.  Throughout the night when I was awake with my newborn I kept trying out both names, but Lana was that one that sat  best with me.  Something about it was cute and fiery.  

Andy had gone home that night and told Melinda the names we were thinking about and she had sent me a message saying that she loved the name Lana.  So the next day when Andy came in with Sonya we both agreed.  On March 22, 2007 we introduced Sonya to her little sister, Lana Drew Dadekian.  A cute and fiery name indeed.  One that she has lived up to in her short eight years on this earth.  The name Lana means light and then I found this on a website called sheknows.com: 

"People with this name tend to initiate events, to be leaders rather than followers, with powerful personalities. They tend to be focused on specific goals, experience a wealth of creative new ideas, and have the ability to implement these ideas with efficiency and determination. They tend to be courageous and sometimes aggressive. As unique, creative individuals, they tend to resent authority, and are sometimes stubborn, proud, and impatient."



Perhaps I should have researched more before we just decided that she "looked like a Lana", and went with it.  Although most of those qualities are great and definitely Lana, it's the "aggressive, stubborn, proud and impatient" ones that have given me grief over the last eight years.  On the other hand it makes her who she is.  The kid who will decide she is going to do something and then you better stay out of her way because she is doing it. And she is doing it the way she wants to.  She is definitely determined with certain things. I've always said that Lana is the one of my three I will worry about the least in getting ahead in life.  She will make things happen if she wants them to.   Then there is the stubborn and proud part, like the morning she argued with me for ten minutes on what day my birthday was on.  She insisted it was April 28th.  Even though I've been celebrating it on April 18th for 40 years, she made me wonder for a second if I'd been on the wrong day all along.  I mean her way would make me 10 days younger.  It is well documented  on here over the years about her aggression and her temper, however, what the paragraph doesn't include is her ability to make up for her aggression.  It might take her a minute or 60 to cool off, but when she does she always apologizes to whoever she wronged.  Then everything  just goes back to normal with her.  There is no grudge holding with Lana.  What's done is done, let's move on.  Sorry if you are now sporting a 2 inch scratch across your cheek.  I will ask mom to cut my nails later.  (That really happened about 2 weeks ago.)  Don't get me wrong though, she is a friendly and kind little girl as well.  Although, those are traits I believe she works on more they are still something she aspires to be.  


Yup, tomorrow is Lana's 8th birthday.  She has developed such a great little personality in these 8 years, good and bad.  It was a personality you could see from day one, which is why the name Holly would have never suited her.  So I don't know if we chose the name Lana for her or if she chose it for herself, but I couldn't imagine her as anyone else.  She is our light. Our unique, determined, courageous, impatient, stubborn, cute fiery and yes, even sweet, light of our family.  I can't imagine my life for these past 8 years without her in it.  I love you Lana La, Lana Drew for infinity times infinity. I can't wait to see where your fantastic personality with your matching name takes you in this life.  

  

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Common Ground

I've mentioned on here before how every year at Christmas time we take a trip to Disneyland.  I am aware at how lucky we are to leave near the Happiest Place on Earth.  I am also aware of how even more fortunate we are that we get in for free thanks to my good friend Melinda, who works for Disney.  (Hi Melinda!)  We have been going every year since Sonya was two or three.  Even the years when the little girls were babies.  However, I do not understand why anyone would want to take a newborn to  Disney unless they had an older sibling with them.  It is not always fun with a newborn especially when you are breastfeeding.  I can point out many places throughout the park where I had to stop to nurse one of the  girls.  Outside of Minnie's house, yup.  Main Street, check. During one of the parades, been there.  

The first few years we visited the park our trip was was mostly about seeing the characters, because that's all the girls cared about.  That and a ride on Dumbo and the Carousal and we were done.  In the past couple of years, however, it has become more exciting as they have become older, taller and more willing to ride some of the more fun or adventurous rides.

Sonya was, of course, the first to go on those rides like Big Thunder Mountain and Space Mountain.  I myself happen to LOVE roller coasters, so waiting for my girls to be old enough to take on these rides was like waiting to be tall enough to ride them myself.  Sonya will ride them most of the time.  They are not always her favorite and she could really take them or leave them. Besides, after last year's incident with the Indiana Jones ride, she is more nervous about hopping on a coaster.   This year was the first year Lana and Georgia were able to ride both coasters.  Lana was apprehensive about doing it, but Georgia...Georgia couldn't wait.

The first one we braved was Big Thunder Mountain.  Lana was a bit nervous as we got on the ride.  She was sitting behind me with Melinda, because she insisted she was going to ride with Melinda.  You'd think she would want to ride with her mom or dad, but no.  Gotta be Auntie Melinda.  Georgia and Andy were in the car behind them and Sonya was with me.  During the course of the ride I could hear Georgia giggling and screaming in delight the whole time.  I turned around to see how Lana was doing, and to say she had a look of sheer terror on her face would be an understatement.  For those of you who have never been on Big Thunder Mountain, it's pretty tame as far as roller coasters go.  It's a perfect first coaster for kids though because of that.  Still, Lana did not look like she was having fun,  especially compared to the ear to ear grin and giggles GG was sporting.  

Once the ride was over Georgia exclaimed how much fun it was and Lana, trying to be upbeat, said it was okay. Yes, that was upbeat for her. Although by the end of the day she claimed it as her second favorite ride, so who knows. I do know when I mentioned Space Mountain I received a very definite "Nuh-uh!" from her.  Sonya was also not all that excited at the mention of Space Mountain.  She has been before, but again, she's never super excited for it.  Georgia on the other had was asking about it non stop.

After dinner and a ride on the Hunted Mansion and Pirates, we decided to split up.  Andy took the two older girls to wait in the forever line at Peter Pan while Melinda and I took Georgia to explore the space coaster.  

When we got there the wait said 45 minutes which I knew was pushing it, but figured it wouldn't take that long so we hopped in.  Unfortunately, the time was wrong but we were on the bad end of it. We ended up waiting for over an hour.  I was more than a little annoyed by the time we got to the front, but Georgia was still in good spirits and she was so excited for the ride I let it go.

She sat next to me in the car and wiggled around her seat when we got in, full of energy and smiles.  I remember taking Sonya on that same ride just a few years before and what a different experience it was.  She was anxious and holding on to me for dear life.  Georgia was completely the opposite.  She was on a high of happy and excitement.  I had warned her that it would be really dark and if she was scared to just hold on to me.  I could tell from the moment the ride started there would be no scaring her.  We went through the first tunnel of lights making it look like we were about to take off and I looked over to see her smiling and looking around, completely thrilled.  As we made our way through the winding darkness of the coaster, she giggled and screamed just as she had on Big Thunder Mountain. She probably didn't need to hold on to me, but I was holding tight to her, you know just to be sure she didn't fall out.  (Sometimes it's hard to have fun and not still have mom thoughts in your head.)

As the two minute ride came to a speeding stop, I looked over at her finally visible in the light.  Her hair was wild and all over the place and she was still smiling, perhaps bigger than before.  As we approached the place where we were to exit, I asked her how it was and she yelled,

"GREAT!!! I WANT TO GO AGAIN!"  

 I was so excited she was excited I thought about it for a second.  Yeah, except I wasn't waiting an hour again.  I will admit it was totally worth the hour wait the first time to realize that I had found my roller coaster kid.  She didn't have a bit of her that had been scared.  Nothing but excitement and fun.  Exactly the way I was when I was her age with roller coaster.  I was never scared. 

 It's always interesting when you find something in common with one of your kids.  Whether it's love of roller coasters, taste in food or your favorite animal being the same.  Some of it is nurture sure, but there was no way I would have coaxed Lana into going on that ride.  On the other hand this was all nature for Georgia. No amount of nurturing needed.   It is something that brings me closer to her as she grows in to her own person.  Even if the other two don't feel the same way, there are other interests that I can relate to with them.  I can't wait to found out what those are over the years.  Slowly, we are transitioning out of the just taking care of the kids and making sure they stay alive, to seeing them develop as people with their own personalities.  Even though they don't need me as much as they once did,  I get to now see what we will have in common to share in life.  That being said,  I can't wait to see who is going to be the wine drinker so I have someone else to go wine tasting with.   After they turn 21 of course.  Although that interest should never be combined with the roller coaster interest.  The results would be disastrous.  At least for me.  


Thursday, February 12, 2015

Soon To Appear At The Laugh Factory

Having three kids means one is always behaving less than perfect.  It's a rotation of who is being the pain in the ass though.  Sometimes it's Sonya with her backtalk and eye rolls.  Other times the colossal Lana tantrums are what bring me down.  Lately though it's been my sweet little Georgia peach who has been driving me bonkers.  I'm not exactly sure why this is.  Could be the whole -little sister  not getting enough attention thing.  All I know is she is having a hard time making the right choices and listening lately.  Once you get to the third one you just kinda don't feel like it anymore.  I know, I know, I'm a terrible mom, but I can't help it.  The energy to deal is just gone.  The thing about Georgia though, is no matter how bad she is acting or what she is doing that is not right, she is always the one who is trying to be the comedian.  I'm beginning to realize that is what makes it harder for me to discipline her.  Don't worry, I've been coming down on her lately and trying to get her back in line.  I'm not completely letting it go.  However if your little one was saying some of these things to you, you might have a hard time keeping the punishments going too.  Here are just some of the things I've written down that she's said to me over the past few months.

While playing outside one day last month, Andy noticed Georgia only had socks and not shoes on.  So Andy asked,

"Georgia-where are your shoes?"

Georgia looked down at her feet like she was just as surprised as he was and said, "Not on my feet!"


Continuing in the shoe category...

One day she came home from school and took off the tights she was wearing and said to me,

"Ahhh!  It feels so great for my feet to be back!"

Looks like confined feet are just not her thing.


We were doing homework one night and I was helping her.  Her class is learning how to tell time and she needed help to figure out where to put the hands to make it 7:00 on the empty clock face picture.  She had the little hand in the right place.

"Well the little hand is on the seven, that's right, good job.  Now where does the big hand go?"

She thought for a minute and then got excited and shouted, "At the o'clock!!"

I mean, can I really say she's wrong?

Not to long after Christmas was over, but after the decorations were put away, she came to me one afternoon and out of the blue asked,

"Mommy, does Santa die?"

These are the questions that you have to think carefully about before you answer them.   The standard answer of,

"No, he's magic," is really the only way to handle this delicate situation.

She responded with, "Ok! Phew!" 

Who knows how long that one was weighing on her mind?

We are not a particularly religious family.  We go to church at Christmas and Easter, and if the girls ask we will answer questions about God and religion.  We don't pray on a regular basis either, (much to my mother's dismay, no doubt).  However, every once in a while the girls will request to pray before dinner.  We always let them.  One night Lana made such a request, so she said her little prayer and then Georgia decided she wanted in on the action too.  This was her prayer,

"Dear God, Thank you for this food and our clothes.  Not everyone has clothes and food and that's sad because they are naked and starving.  Amen."

The kid does speak the truth.  Hope you are listening God.

The last one I wrote down happened most recently.  It was just over the weekend and it's a bit more of a story.  I've mentioned on here before how much like her father Georgia is with this sense of humor.  Along with the sense of humor my husband has, comes a very large amount of sarcasm.  This is something kids just don't get at a young age.  When you are sarcastic to them they don't always understand.  This has never stopped Andy from being sarcastic anyway.  Now that they are getting older they understand it more, but not always.  Hell there are times I still don't get when he's being sarcastic and pulling one over on me.  He's really good at it.  So I guess I shouldn't have been surprised.

On Sunday morning, after having an extremely busy Friday and Saturday, we were all dragging ourselves out of bed to get the day started.  I was in the kitchen getting the coffee ready and Georgia was sitting at the counter.  She started to cough a bit and sniffle, and so I asked,

"Are you sick?"

Now this was stupid on my part, because anytime you offer for something to be wrong with Georgia she will take it.  The more attention she can get, the better.  As soon as I said it, I knew my mistake and I knew she was feeling fine, but she immediately went into "woe is me" mode, and and said in a meek voice, "yes."

"I think I'm sick mom, (cough, cough, sniff, sniff)." She told me.

Then in my "I'm not buying your shit" voice, I said, "Oh I'm sure you will be fine.  If you're not, you won't be able to go to the birthday party today."

I didn't offer her any sympathy, which I know irritated her, but she wanted to go to the birthday party, so she decided not to push the act anymore.

About five minutes later, Lana came to me whimpering because she had hit her head on her bookcase.    I had yet to have my cup of coffee, and after going out with the moms the night before, really needed it before dealing with such complaints.  Although, let me be clear, she did not seem to be in pain and I have always been the type of mom who has leaned more toward the tough it out, shake it off side of things when the girls got hurt.  I was never one for babying them when they hurt themselves, unless something looked bad.  Usually it isn't.  As a result, I have some tough girls who barely ever cry when they get hurt. So when Lana came to me complaining about her bump I sorta blew her off too.

"Oookayy," I told her.  "You'll be fine, shake it off."  (I'm pretty certain Taylor Swift must have heard me saying that every day for the past 10 years.  Whatever Taylor!  Just send the royalty check to Burbank. )  She didn't even try to milk it anymore, just walked away rubbing her head.

Georgia had been in the kitchen with us when she heard me talking to Lana, as unsympathetically as I had been to her, and she said out loud to nobody in particular, but making sure I heard her,

"It's sooo nice to have a Mommy who takes such good care of us when we're sick or hurt."

It was one of those things you hear a few seconds after it was said.  And then it took me a few more seconds to register what it meant.  My brain did something like this-"that's so nice that Georgia would say that... but wait... I wasn't being nice and taking good care of them at all...so why would she..."

"Georgia?" She turned and looked at me.  "Were you just being sarcastic??" I asked.

"Yeah," she admitted.  And then I laughed, and laughed some more.  She started to laugh right along with me and then everyone else in the house wanted to know what on earth was so funny.

Georgia.  Georgia is what is so funny.  Right now, at this point in time of raising my girls,  she is the reason why I am ready to tear my hair out at the end of the day.  However, she is also the reason I laugh every day.  So please excuse me if I have a difficult time handing out punishments to her that make her upset.  I find it much more fun to laugh with her.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

She's Baaaaacck!

So for any of you wondering, yes Sonya came back safe and sound last Friday afternoon.  She had a fantastic time and talked ALL DAY LONG about her adventures at OSS.  They did so many things, from hikes, to rock wall climbing, archery to astronomy.  She did get to bunk in a cabin with all of her best friends and surprisingly nobody fought.  Well, at least none that she told me about.  She definitely missed us as we we missed her.  Although, to be honest it wasn't to hard the first day or two.  She is gone so much these day with extracurricular activities, that it wasn't until the day to day of breakfast or dinner or bedtime, that I started to really noticed her absence.  Then it started to get hard.  

My little girls said they missed her too.  I will admit, having one less to take care of was a bit nice since there was less fighting, but only a little less.  No worries-there was still fighting that occurred with those two.  I swear they are going to be in their 90s, in a home, bickering and making up until the day they die.  

Anyway, it was a good experience for all of us.  Lana and Georgia realized they liked having their big sister around and she missed them.  They were all actually really nice to each other for about the first two hours she was home.  I think two hours was the limit.  The novelty of missing someone wears off quickly.  

The important part about all of this is the fact that she did get to go away and be on her own.  Out of my three girls, Sonya has always been the one who has clung to us the most.  She is the kid who cried EVERY DAY for TWO MONTHS when I dropped her off at preschool.  Since she was five years old she has worried about growing up and moving away from home.  I assured her then that she won't feel like that forever, but I don't think she believed me.  So when this trip finally came up she and I were both a bit nervous.  She did it though and she realized what a great time she can have on her own.  She learned that she can take care of herself,  and that there are other people even more messy than she is.  

I feel so incredibly lucky that my kids go to a school where a program like this is possible.  For those of you out there who don't have something like this at your school, I encourage you to find a sleep away camp this summer for kids about this age.  It doesn't have to be for more than a few nights, but just those few nights can boost a kids confidence about themselves and their place in this world.  In a time where we are afraid to let our kids ride their bikes four streets over by themselves, and we tend to "helicopter parent" over everything they do, it's important that we give them this freedom.  It's important for them and for us as parents.  Yes, you might think that 10 is to young, and it is to be completely on their own, which these kids weren't.  They had camp counselors and teachers there.  Don't worry, they were still watched, just not by their parents.  Well unless you count the pictures we could see on Facebook.  However, they are all so used to that because it's their reality.  I loved being able to see Sonya having a great time.  It made me feel better to know she was happy, even if I didn't have any contact with her for four days.  

So yeah-I know I'm up here on my soapbox, but I just see so many parents these days who don't let their kids out of their sight.  Even at ten.  This is going to lead to a generation of kids who don't know how to do anything on their own.  If you are one of these parents, think about loosening the apron strings even if you don't want to completely cut them yet.  Let them ride that bike four streets over.  Send them away for a few days.  Let them discover who they are on their own.   If you don't, you will have nobody to blame but yourself when you have your 32 year old "baby" still sitting on your couch watching cartoons every Saturday morning.  

Thanks to Bret Harte for helping me loosen my own apron strings.  In three and four years I get to do it all again!

Monday, January 12, 2015

She's Leaving Home

This morning Andy and I waved goodbye to our ten year old daughter for the next 5 days.  Well, 4 ½ really.  Yup, she is gone all this week.  Her elementary school does this field trip every year for the 5th graders.  It's called Outdoor Science School or OSS.  They drive two hours away and stay at a campsite in the mountains.  It's near Big Bear for those of you familiar with Southern California.  Then they do all kinds of fun science related things.  It's supposed to be a blast. I've known about this trip since she was in kindergarten.  But again, it was a "someday" she will go.  Those somedays are coming quicker and quicker.  

I held it together for her this morning, even though I thought I was going to lose it a couple times.  It actually helped that her bus took a bit longer to get going because of a problem they were having closing the emergency door, after the bus driver showed them how to open in case there was an emergency.  The other buses had already gone and we must have waved goodbye to the students on her bus at least five times before it finally left, so it was a bit comical.  That made it a bit less sad for me, and for her I'm sure.  She was definitely excited to go on this trip, but there were tears at bedtime last night.  I remember going away from home when I was her age for almost two weeks.  On an airplane!  And I wasn't really with anyone I knew!  Yeah, I don't know what my parents were thinking, but I survived.  

We had talked about the story of me going away many times over the past few months when she became nervous about leaving.  I think it helped her to hear that what she was feeling was totally normal.  I hear from parents who have already gone through this that the kids come back completely changed.  A bit more mature and independent.  I'm also hoping that it takes away some of the attitude she likes to cop with us.  Although, I'm not holding my breath on that one.  Can't say I will miss that, but I know I will miss her like crazy.  It's going to be weird having only two to deal with for a few days.  Sure Sonya has gone over to friend's to spend the night, but never for this long.  On the plus side, I plan on making every meal she complains about and the little two are excited because some of them are their favorites.  That along with doing an overhaul of her room should make this a little more bearable for me anyway.  Andy is better than I am, and just kept saying "It's really only three days! It's fine!" Yeah, we'll see who is more sad tomorrow.  I tend to get my emotions out of the way at the beginning of something.  You know how men are though. He'll break eventually.  

So here I am at yet another milestone with one of my kids.  Leaving home for a few days.  I know this is just a taste of things to come later on down the road, but I'm sure she will have a great time and yes I will eventually stop weeping and be fine.   Now excuse me while I go refill my Xanax prescription.  


Saying goodbye to her sisters

With her besties, Lilianna and Charlotte


Thursday, January 8, 2015

Kicking The Habit

When I first started this blog I talked about the blankies each one of my girls had.  Sonya and Georgia both used their blankies along with sucking their thumb as their way to relax.  Lana skipped the middle man and just sucked on her blankie, which yes, is just as gross as you imagine.  I will be honest, they all still have their blankies, but they are not dragged all over the place every day as they once were.  They are only for bedtime as just a security.  Really,  I never really cared much that they had them. I had a Dumbo stuffed animal from the time I was 5 that I slept with while sucking my thumb.  He came to college with me.  What I cared more about was the bad habit of sucking on their thumbs/blankies that went along with their lovies.

The thumb/blankie sucking was something I was always concerned about.  However, when you have a nine month old and she can comfort herself in the middle of the night by sucking on her thumb, giving you an extra 20 minutes of sleep, you're not really thinking about the fact that some day you will have to break her of that habit.  Someday is soooo far away when you have a 9 month old.  You're just thinking, "Thank God that thumb is attached to her body so I don't have to leave this bed and help her find it."  Then when they get older  you start to realize that perhaps this may be a problem at some point.  Especially when you start to think about the fact that the habit may lead to braces.  If you don't know-braces are a small fortune.  With three kids in them, it's more of a middle size fortune. A family trip to Hawaii-TWICE- fortune, if you will.  

I consulted with the girls' pediatrician and dentist about each of their habits.  They both told me the best thing to do was to leave it alone.  So far the damage was not severe in any of them, especially because they still have baby teeth. They assured me that most kids by 6 or 7 will stop on their own.  This made sense to me,  since I myself was a thumb sucker.  I did indeed kick the habit all on my own.  I remember it clearly.  It was right before I started second grade and I thought to myself that I was to old to be sucking my thumb, so I slept on my hand for a week.  I remember how hard it was to fall asleep that first night, but I did it and I knew they would be able to as well, when they were ready.

I was not wrong.  Sonya stopped when she was around 6 ½-7.  I can't remember exactly when it was, but she came to me and told me she wanted to stop sucking her thumb.  My sister had just weened her daughter off of her thumb sucking habit and had used something called Mavala Stop.  It is the typical paint the thumbnail and make it taste bad technique.  Sonya knew this and wanted to try it to help remind her.  So I ordered it and the day it arrived we used it.  It took her all of one night to stop.  Sure, that first night she had a bit of trouble sleeping but by night two it was easier, and night three not even a thought.  I breathed a sigh of relief at how easy it was!  What are the chances they would all be this simple?  Then I remembered that nothing was really simple with my adorable second born child.  

So Lana.  I was petrified about trying to get Lana to stop sucking her blankie.  I mean painting a nail is one thing, but what do you do with a kid who puts a blankie in her mouth?  I couldn't paint the whole blankie with that stuff.  Believe me, I considered it.  The only solution was to just take away blankie.  This was something I was not willing to do until I absolutely had to.  So for a year and a half we talked on and off about how she was going to stop using her blankie.  I thought that maybe if I painted the finger nails  she sucked on under the blankie, that might work.  Her blankie has thinned out so much over the years, surely she would be able to taste some of the bitterness on her nails and stop putting them, along with her blank, in her mouth.  Over this past summer one night we tried it.  She couldn't taste it at all and continued the habit.  Back to the drawing board.

I'll be honest, I kept putting it off and ignoring it.  The only time she even used it was when she went to sleep at night.  So really it was only in her mouth 10 minutes tops each day.  I mean that's fine right?  She could go to college like that?  Who cares?! 

Part of the reason I was hesitating on cutting her off was because blankie was a security for me.  It's well documented on here that Lana is queen of the temper tantrums.  She can destroy half a days time in our house with just one or two of her tantrums.  They have certainly gotten better over the years, but she still has them when she doesn't get her way, is tired, hungry or just generally cranky.  She is just a very fiery girl.  Always has been from the time she came into this world.  So her blankie would be her way to calm down more quickly when she was in the middle of a tantrum.  It was like handing a smoker a cigarette and a lighter.  Within a few minutes of sucking on her blankie, the tantrum would subside and she would become normal again.  How the hell was I going to get through tantrums if I didn't have blankie to rely on?  So yes,  I was a bit lazy and didn't want to go through the withdrawal myself.  If you'd ever seen a Lana tantrum you would totally be on my side with this one.  You would have found a college that encouraged students to bring childhood blankies they sucked on.

I didn't force her to stop, not yet.  I figured once she hit 8 in March we really had to figure something out.  I mean 7 is pushing it to still have a sucking habit, but 8...8 is just to old for that kind of thing.  I would mention to her from time to time that we needed to think about getting rid of it. Of course that statement was always met with some kind of whine or whimper.  We tried to come up with ways that would still allow her to have her blankie, but no longer suck on it.  Unfortunately there weren't really any options.  I finally told her that when she was ready, maybe I could lay with her until she fell asleep without sucking on blankie.  I also said we could put it somewhere nearby like the end of the bed or under her pillow, that way it would still be around, but she wouldn't really be using it.  I thought this was a way to provide a bit of comfort to her and baby step out of the habit.  She thought that sounded like a good idea.  Better than the other one I had-which was to put it in a plastic baggie to keep her from sucking on it.  This was hard for me, dammit!

For a couple weeks she would say something about maybe me laying with her at night.  Then she would decide not that night.    I could tell she was getting used to the idea and trying to talk herself into it, so I didn't push it.  Then she came to me one evening and told me she was ready.  She wanted me to lay with her until she fell asleep so she could give up her blankie.  I would have been more willing and excited if she wouldn't have picked the Monday BEFORE THANKSGIVING!  Like I don't have enough shit to do already that week!  So much cooking and preparing!  Who has time to lay with their 7 year old for an hour while she tries to fall asleep without her vice?  There was that part of me that hesitated and almost told her we would wait for the weekend-after Thanksgiving was over and I didn't have as much to do at night.  Then I thought-"don't be so stupid! If SHE wants to do this now,  you do this NOW!" So I did.  Because who has time for that shit? A mom does.  We will always make the time.

That night I layed with her for about 45 minutes.  A couple of times she told me she was having a hard time and really wanted to suck on her blankie.  I told her I completely understood, but that she was doing great.  Eventually she fell asleep. The next night Andy layed with her, but she feel asleep quicker. It took maybe 25 minutes.  By the third night she told us, 

"I'm fine.  I don't need you  to sleep with me anymore.  I don't need to suck on blankie."

And she didn't.  She was done.

Two nights.  Just like her sister, two nights.  I never pushed her or forced her and I let her come to me to tell me when she was ready. The same thing we did with Sonya. I honestly believe this is the best way to break kids of their thumb/blankie sucking habit.  The younger they are, the harder it is to break them of their habit, because they don't understand the need to break them of their habit.  At 7, they get it.  They know it's something they can't do forever.  Not to mention, most of their friends aren't sucking on their thumbs.  Going to sleepovers might start to get a bit embarrassing if they are still in the habit at night.  That is most likely what pushed me into stopping when I was 7.  Plus it helps that we gave her the incentive of going to her favorite place for breakfast if she made it a week without out.   

I also believe that if you wait until they are a bit older, they don't find something to replace the sucking habit, like with nail chewing.  Although Georgia already seems to be doing that as well, so she may be getting a full manicure with the Mavala Stop.  

Lana still has her blankie under her pillow, but she doesn't suck on it anymore.  As far as the tantrums...well so far it is taking a bit longer to calm her down. At least the tantrums themselves aren't as frequent at they were a couple years ago.  Plus, Santa brought a standing punching bag for her to take her aggression out on. So instead of sucking on blankie she can just beat the shit out of that.  Thanks Santa!

Now that I've been through this twice, I am thankful for how much easier it was than I originally thought it would be.  Of course, I suppose I shouldn't speak to soon.  I still have one more to go.  Georgia has already been talking about trying to stop ever since Lana did.  Then we get to night time and she decides she's not quite ready.  I figured I would give her until the summer and then we would try to push her a little more.  Unlike Lana, I'm not as concerned about her stopping because she doesn't need her thumb for tantrums.  She strictly sucks her thumb to go to sleep at night.  No, I'm more saddened about her stopping, because it really is the last bit of babyness that I will have to let go of.  Don't worry!  I will help her to stop soon.  I won't make this about me and my sadness of my kids growing up.  However, I think that so far my methods for this part of parenting have been proven successful twice and I plan on getting a perfect score here, so I'm not rushing her.  Well, at least not until it's time to send her off to college.  

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow....

Hello everyone!  Christmas has been kicking my ass this year, which is why it's been radio silence for a month from this blog.  However, I have so many stories in my head that I had to get at least one out now.  So, I decided to do this instead of address my Christmas cards.  They might not go out until after Christmas at this point.  Whatever.  Hopefully I will have some down time over the next couple weeks and be able to write a few more stories.  This one happens to be about the latest star in our family, Sonya.

At the beginning of the school year all three girls signed up to be in the school musical.  A production of "Annie".  My friend, Elisa, who helped to bring the musical program to our school, swore Sonya would play Annie.  I was hesitant and doubtful for a few reasons.  I've mentioned before that Sonya isn't always one to get up and perform, and certainly not on her own.  She's usually good in groups and has performed as part of the chorus in past musicals, but this-this would be an entire show about her character.  As it turned out Elisa was right and the director did cast Sonya as Annie.  I honestly had no idea how this was going to go down.  

The day Sonya came home and told me she got the part she was ecstatic.  I was happy for her too, but I gently reminded her that this meant she had to sing...alone.  Was she okay with that?  She assured me she was.  I took her for her word, but I would be lying if I said I wasn't nervous for how this was all going to turn out.   I wasn't even sure Sonya could sing well.  I've heard her sing along to songs in the car or in the shower with her sisters and she's certainly not tone deaf, but the lead in a musical is totally different.  I did have to keep in mind that this was a kids musical at elementary school and it wouldn't matter if she wasn't a fantastic singer.   Most of the kids can't sing so well, but the girl who was the lead in past plays, who recently graduated to middle school, had a beautiful voice.  Sonya had a lot to live up to.  

As the semester went on, she and her sisters, who were orphans, went to rehearsals once a week on Tuesdays, leaving me with a very long alone day.  A plus for me!  Andy and I wanted to run lines with her and she was usually hesitant, but she did do it with us a few times.  Although she didn't really need it.  She had her lines down in about the first two weeks.  I was always the same with acting and memorized lines very quickly.  

After about a month, the director gave us a CD for the girls to sing along and practice to.  I would play it in the car and they would go through "Hard Knock Life" and "N.Y.C", but anytime "Maybe" or  "Tomorrow" would come on Sonya would ask me to go to the next song.  She refused to sing alone in front of me. Now I was really starting to become nervous.  Was she going to be horrible?  Not that I would love her any less, but I didn't want her to embarrass herself.  For the life of me I will never understand those parents who encourage their children in a talent they are obviously not good at.  Like all those moms standing outside American Idol insisting the judges don't know what they're talking about, after their precious baby couldn't hit one note.  I refuse to be that mom.  Still, I didn't push.  

Then one morning we were in the kitchen and the girls were helping me clean up after breakfast on a Saturday.  Lana ran into her room to get her CD player and the "Annie" CD so they could practice.  She and Georgia were more than happy to sing in front of us over and over again.  They all went through their group songs again that I had already heard.  Then the beginning of "Maybe" started.  I told Sonya I wanted her to practice it.  So she did, begrudgingly.  All I can tell you is that it's a good thing my back was to them as I stood at the sink to wash dishes, because I was doing everything I could to hold back tears.  Her voice was better than I had ever expected.  After she finished, "Tomorrow" started and I encouraged her to sing that one to, but she told me she already knew it and moved on. 

The day of the show, Sonya was a nervous mess most of the day. There was a whole thing about her hair and the wig she had to wear, that she was (excuse the pun) wigging out about.  I did my best to reassure her and tell her it was going to be great and not to worry.  But she was worried.  How could she not be?  Andy and I were kinda right there with her.  The night of the show I was still nervous for her, but at least I felt more confident in her ability.  However, I wasn't quite sure how it was going to turn out.  Perhaps "Maybe" was the only song she could sing?  What if she forgot her lines?  As Andy and I sat in the audience, listening to the overture, waiting for the curtain to open, he leaned over and said,

"I can't do this.  I can't watch this."

"Me neither, " I told him.  "I feel like I'm going to throw up."

Having both done theater ourselves, we knew what she was feeling and we seemed to be channeling  that into a parental way.  

Within the first five minutes I knew this was going to be great and she was going to be awesome.  And I know I'm biased, but you guys she so was.  Not to mention the fact that I cried for about the first fifteen minutes as well.  This time I just let it go when she sang "Maybe".  Listening to "Tomorrow" wasn't any better for my mascara.   I can't forget about my little girls.  Lana had a couple lines she delivered beautifully and she and Georgia knew their dance steps and their songs spot on.  However, Sonya was the star.  Rightfully so, since she was Annie.  

After the show and for a week later, I had parents coming to me telling me how amazing she was and how beautiful her voice was and how long had I had her in voice lessons?  Ummm...never.  A few people told me I needed to help her pursue a singing career, but to be honest, as much as she liked doing it and had a great time, this is not something she has a bug for.  Well not yet anyway.  Who knows what the future will bring, but for now she's just a ten year old kid having fun singing and acting in an elementary school musical.  I'm not calling Broadway just yet.  But in the meantime you can check her out and see what you think.  I am so incredibly proud of the job she and her sisters did. It was one of those moments as a parent where you think, Yup.  I helped make this little person and I did damn good.  (So far.)