Last week, Auntie Meg and Rowen drove down for a visit for a few days. While it was no easy task getting out in between three different nap schedules, we still managed to have a few adventures and lots of fun!
The weather was incredibly beautiful, so we soaked up the sunshine into our pasty white skin as much as possible:
Growing up, Meg and I always lived so far away from our cousins, we hardly ever saw them. I'm so glad our kids will be best buddies!
The only thing about a second child is the lack of one-on-one time. With Cole, I spent ALL of my time with him. Every second of every day, we were buddies, just each other. And even though I'm with Chase also ALL day every day, my attention and time are split between both boys.
So every once in a while, when Chase takes an epic morning nap, I can put Cole down for his nap and spend a half hour just with Chase. I follow him along on his little adventures, watching how he learns and experiences the toys. So much joy in this little guy!
With our crazy nap schedule around here (wake up at 6:00-6:30, Chase naps 9:00-11:00, both kids nap around 1:00-1:30, then bed for Chase around 5:30-6:00), we often don't really manage to get out of the house too much. Our biggest slice of time for getting out also coincides with lunchtime, so my new favorite way to enjoy our beautiful weather while still adhering to nap schedules is to take the kids out on a picnic.
Boom: sunshine enjoyed and lunch eaten - multi tasking at its best!
Can't smile with my mouth full, Mama!
We've been reading "My Side of the Mountain" with Cole, so he spent some time pretending he lived in this tree :)
One of the best parenting secrets I've discovered since becoming a parent is empathy.
And it's no coincidence that empathy is a major quality I want our children to have.
Sometimes, I think parents get so caught up in trying to be firm and strict when raising their kids, they forget to be empathetic. They forget that everyone, adults included, work better when they feel understood and not shamed.
So often when dealing with Cole I feel like saying, "Well, too bad. You should/shouldn't have done/said/made that choice!" But you know what? That's shaming. It doesn't get anyone anywhere but feeling bad - and often feeling bad about himself.
I always think of it this way: If there's something that I want to make happen, and either I accidentally mess it up some way, or it's out of my control in some way, I would be upset and hurt if Chris simply said, "Welp, too bad! Suck it up!" But if he gives me a hug, and empathizes with me - "Gosh, I'm so sorry it rained and we couldn't have our picnic! I seriously wish we could have gone outside too!" - and then brainstorms a solution with me - "Let's go out to eat instead, would that help you feel better?" - then we all have an amazing opportunity to help each other be successful and feel good!
So with Cole, I always try to remember the gentle approach. I don't have to back down from our family rules or go back on limit I've set, but I can empathize with him during his very real-to-him struggle, and help him find a solution.
While waiting for a pizza to be delivered:
Cole: "MOM, I'M REALLY HUNGRY."
Me: "You are? Good news, our pizza will be delivered in about five minutes."
Cole: "I'M SUPER HUNGRY!"
Me: "Yup, I heard you. Pizza will be here soon."
Cole: "BUT I'M HUNGRY NOW! I WANT SOMETHING TO EAT NOW!"
Me: "I wish the pizza would be here right now too! I'm not going to give you anything to eat right now because our pizza is coming in five minutes... but would you like to go up to the guest room and watch for the pizza deliverer? You can call down to me when he comes!"
Cole opens the freezer drawer and sees a leftover ice cream from a couple days earlier.
Cole: "MOM, I REALLY WANTED THIS ICE CREAM FOR MY SPECIAL TREAT TODAY!"
Me: "You did, huh? But you already chose a candy from your treat jar for your special treat."
Cole: "I KEEP FORGETTING! AND I REALLY REALLY WANT SOME ICE CREAM! CAN I HAVE SOME?"
Me: "No, you already chose your special treat. Maybe the ice cream will still be there tomorrow though!"
Cole: "BUT I REALLY WANT ICE CREAM! AND I KEEP FORGETTING!"
Me: "I know! How about we write a note and stick it to your treat jar reminding you there's ice cream in the freezer if you want it?"
Cole: "HMMM. OK."
(he painstakingly writes "IS CREM" on a post-it, sticks it to the candy jar, and remembers to have ice cream the next day.)
We had this crazy run of amazing, beautiful weather - even on the weekends! - so I have just been itching to get us outside as much as possible.
Saturday we drove out to Jacksonville to explore the Britt Gardens. They have about a million miles of easy hiking trails, perfect for kids.
Cole has been super interested in trees lately - moss, bark, holes, knotholes, the works. I think we must have answered five hundred questions from him during the hike!
Made it to the top!
Cole made a ladybug friend on the way home. This was before he piled a bunch of leaves on it as a "bed", then explained to me that he was going to leave the ladybug there so he could be with his ladybug friends.
Hoping for more sunshine this weekend for more outdoor adventures!