Archive | December, 2013

Enough

18 Dec

The only parenting book I’ve purchased is this one.  The main premise is that when it comes to raising kids, less is more.  Kids are overwhelmed by too many toys, books, TV, information, etc.  Scale it all back, and kids have an easier time.

For the most part, I’ve found this book to be spot on.  However, I thought the author was nuts to say to keep only about a dozen books out at once for your child.  But even that makes sense to me these days.  Alex keeps going to the same books over and over.  We’ll spend a week devouring The Big Red Barn, Broadway Barks, or I Want to Be an Astronaut.  Over and over and over.  Then he eventually moves on to another few books.

But somehow, we let the toys creep in.  And in and in and in.  Over the summer we noticed that all Alex wanted to do was color.  At first, we thought it was the excitement of his new craft table, but the tantrums ramped up at the same time.  Finally, we figured out that he was overwhelmed by the sheer number of toys.  He had three baskets/boxes of toys in the living room alone, and they were overflowing.  Finding a toy meant digging through the mess, and he just couldn’t handle it.  So he abandoned his toys, and only wanted to color and watch TV.

We culled through the toys, got rid of a few, boxed up a few others to take out at a later date.   It worked.  Alex started playing with his toys again, and the tantrums lessened.

We find ourselves somehow back in the same situation.  Too many toys, too many choices.  And Christmas is coming very, very soon.

See these toys below?

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My little guy is obsessed with trains right now.   Those are the only two he owns, and he loves them.  They’re in constant play, and that little plastic Thomas the Tank Engine is his bed buddy every night and during naps.  While he loves playing with the (better) Thomas trains in the church nursery, truth is, he’d be perfectly happy with just these 2 trains.  He doesn’t know that he’s supposed to want more, at least, according to our culture.

(At this point, I should probably mention that he’s not only getting Thomas trains and tracks for Christmas, but also a Thomas train table.  Grandparents are awesome!)

We came home from Thanksgiving in Texas with a ton of new toys from my husband’s side of the family.  We bought toys while we were in Dallas for Christmas.  And the toys from my side of the family have arrived.   I’m finding myself wondering where we’re going to put everything!  More than that, I’m questioning whether or not we should even give Alex the gifts we bought for him.  For example, we bought him a set of cars and one of those rugs with car tracks on it.  But in light of all the trains, I’m not sure the car stuff will be played with.  I have a strong suspicion our boy will be overwhelmed with the sheer volume of stuff coming his way.

This is the sort of parenting dilemma I never anticipated.

We culled through the toys again last night, and we need to weed out a few more.  I’m trying to take to heart what Simplicity Parenting says about toys.  Our culture, and frankly our parental desires to give our kids things that will make them happy, say that if a kid likes his toy car, then he’ll love a dozen of them.  But instead of loving his one or two cars, he’s overwhelmed by the sheer volume of cars and won’t care much about any of them.

Alex loves Veggie Tales, and his stuffed Bob the Tomato is his best buddy.  Bob goes almost everywhere with us.  We considered buying him Larry the Cucumber to go with his Bob, but then decided against it.  We’d rather have him love Bob, instead of having to divide his attention/affection between the two.  We’ve seen a hierarchy of preference among his stuffed animals, and frankly, he just doesn’t need to add to it.

He has enough.

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New Cat

3 Dec

Perhaps it’s wrong of me, but whenever I’ve had an old, sick cat, I’ve found myself thinking ahead to what sort of cat I want to get next.  It’s not that I wanted to get rid of Doogie, or Calvin before him, but I suppose it was just facing the reality of the inevitable.  Pets get old, then they die.  Eventually, we get a new pet.  Circle of life.

For several months, I’ve been wanting an orange tabby.  Our first cat, Calvin, was a brown tabby.  When he passed away, I couldn’t do another tabby.  It was too painful to even look at the tabbies up for adoption at Petsmart.  The rescue led us to the black cats instead, and that’s how our amazing Ninja Cat joined our family.  He’s been perfect for us.

But nearly 3 years after losing Calvin, I’m ready for another tabby.  They’re such amazing cats, and an orange one would just be different enough not to be a painful reminder.

We had a plan to get a new cat after Thanksgiving.  Ninja was lonely without his buddy Doogie to hang out with.  We didn’t want to get a new cat before Thanksgiving because we were leaving for Texas for nearly a week, and we did not want to introduce a new cat, then leave town.  “Bye, guys!  Hope you get along and don’t tear the house apart!”  Yeah…

Exactly one week before Thanksgiving, my MOPS group got together at someone’s house for a play group.  Within moments of arriving, I noticed a little orange tabby kitten at the storm door.  Rather, my son noticed.  He was standing at the door with the hostess’s dog by his side, and this little kitten pawing at the glass door in front of him.  (Alex is so my child.  He didn’t pay much attention to the other kids, but the animals?  He was all about the animals.)  The hostess had never seen this cat before, but he hung out like he belonged.  For the next 2 hours, he alternated between hanging out at the front storm door and the back sliding-glass door.  He sat there meowing and pawing at the door to try to get in.  He even climbed the bricks of the house to grab at the door handle!

Of course, being the sucker for animals that I am, I melted all over the place and wanted to take him home with me.  But seeing as we were leaving town in 5 days, we didn’t know if this cat belonged to a neighbor, etc., I simply left after the play date.  But the hostess and I stayed in touch about him.  She is also a sucker for animals, and the temperature dropped that day quite dramatically.  She let him sleep in her shed and fed him.   And she kept reporting back to me about his friendly and mellow temperament.

I sort of felt like God was saying, “Here.  I know the desires of your heart, and you really want an orange tabby.  Here’s one who needs a home.”

Convincing my husband of this was a whole other matter.  Pretty sure he’s a robot underneath his skin because while I was being all emotional and begging with tears in my eyes to keep this little kitten (“But God brought him to me!”), he was completely rational and logical and saying that we know nothing about this cat.  He was pushing to go to a rescue that knows a bit about their cats, while I begged to keep this little guy who clearly needed a home.

The hostess of the play group offered to keep this cat until we returned from Texas.  (She was so in cahoots with me!)  She also suggested that I bring Steven and Alex over with me to meet this cat.  (Steven kept arguing that we don’t even know if this cat would be good with Alex, who is loud and unpredictable.)  It took a lot of pleading, but Steven agreed to meet the cat.

We went over there, and as soon as I picked up this little orange kitten, he snuggled into me and purred loudly.  He didn’t protest when Alex clumsily petted him.  And when Alex had a screaming, flailing fit right next to him, this cat didn’t even flinch.  That clinched it.  Steven saw how awesome this kitten was, and he said yes to it.

Clearly, the cat was in cahoots with me, too.

I made a vet appointment for the Monday after Thanksgiving.  As long as he passed a feline leukemia test, I was allowed to keep him.  I think Steven might have secretly been hoping that the cat would move on while we were in Texas, but he stuck around at my friend’s house, so he was ready to be picked up on Monday morning.  The vet declared him in good health, he got his shots, and now he’s home with us.  He didn’t know how to use a litter box, so after 2 accidents, we locked him in the laundry room with food, water, a bed, and a litter box.  He figured it out in one night.  He’s a smart little thing!

He’s also amazing with the toddler.  He lets Alex hug him, kiss him, pet him, play with him.  He’ll even stay put if I place him in Alex’s lap.  Alex is in heaven with a cat who doesn’t run away!

Ninja is not quite as happy.  He’s walking around the house growling and hissing and hiding under the bed.  Poor baby doesn’t know what to make of this friendly little kitten who doesn’t act at all intimidated by this tough act Ninja keeps trying to put on.  We figure he’ll come around in a few days, though.  None of our cats have ever taken kindly to a new cat in the house, but they always make friends eventually.

Because I feel like God himself gave me this little cat, we named him Theodore, which means Gift of God.  We’re calling him Theo for short.  He’s made himself right at home.

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