Counting

While hanging out with my girl trying to get her to take a nap.

Me: Nik. How old are you now?

Niki: Six. Alicia’s six too.

Me: Really? On her next birthday how old will she be?

Niki: Seven.

Me: Yeah! Chop is three. How old will he be on his next birthday?

Niki: Four!

Me: What about sissy? How old is she?

Niki: Two.

Me: No. She’s one. How old will she be?

Niki: Two.

Me: Daddy is 29. How old will he be?

Niki: Um. Forty.

Me: HAHAH! No sweetie. He’ll be thirty. Mommy is 28, how old will I be on my next birthday.

Niki: Fourteen.

Me: Oh wow. Um. No. I’ll be 29.

She’s so smart.

We’ve reached year six

Letter to Nikisha (Six years):

niki is 6!

You were born six years ago on sunday and I’m freaking out. How did we get this far so soon? I look at you and then your little sister and I keep thinking that it really wasn’t that long ago when you were that little.

Despite our differences and constant arguing, I’m glad you’re my daughter. We’re getting closer and better at this. We are. You make me proud to be your mom. I’m always learning new things because of you. You are the first driving force to come into my life and make me strive for great things. For all of us.

"I'm going to go read this!"

You’ll be in the first grade soon and I’m excited. You’ve already learned so much in Kindergarten and I know you’ll learn even more. It still shocks me when you try to read and you don’t need too much help. I just hope that you don’t spend all year pretending to be a kitty when you should be participating in your class activities.

Did you know that your sissy loves you and looks up to you? She tries to copy the things you do because she thinks you’re so awesome. The two of you still fight over things, but you help mommy take care of her. You do it so well, too. I think she’s lucky to have you as her big sister. She’ll have someone awesome teach her the ways of the world.

Happy birthday, my little girl.

Love, mama

Nap time

The weather outside has been weird today. Still, the sun came out for a little bit and Niki wanted to go outside, so I let her. When the sun hid behind the clouds again and refused to come back out, she decided it was time to come back in.

Then she sat down and watched Talking Hands, a dvd we picked up at Babies R Us while shopping for a baby shower gift. She loves this dvd and watches it over and over again.

Anyway, just a few minutes ago she said to me:

“Mommy. I’m going to go upstairs and take a nap. Wake me up when it’s time to go get Daddy, okay? Wake me up. Don’t forget.”

She’s up there now quietly playing and will be asleep in just a few more minutes. She’s awesome and I still can’t believe she’s turning six in a little over a month.

My professional bowler

As a joint Mother’s & Father’s Day gift, as well as my birthday present, we bought a Wii. After like 20 hours of play, we’re addicted.

This is our first family game system and I feel like it’s the perfect choice. Some of the games get us up and moving. We’re already sore from all the play.

After only a few games, Niki is beating me at bowling. I’m so proud.

The BIg Wiinner!

April Fools

Niki: Mommy! There’s something on your shirt.
Me: Really? Where? *looks*
Niki: April Fools!!
Me: Ohman. You got me!
Niki: Mommy! There’s something on your nose.
Me: Oh yeah? What? *feels nose*
Niki: April Fools!!
Me: Ohman. You got me again!
Niki: Mommy! There’s something on your hair.
Me: I don’t want to play this game anymore. *dies*
Niki: April Fools!!

Toy Wars Part 1

Went to the mall on Saturday. While daddy was buying his new shiny ‘toy’, we went to Claire’s so I could find a hair accessory for my out-of-control hair. toywars1b.jpgWhile in there, you asked for everything that caught your eye. You ask, I refuse, we move on. This is just how it’s always been with you and I. So what makes yesterday any different?

Let’s see. You asked, I refused, we moved on. You asked again, I refused again, we moved on… again. You asked.. well, you get the picture, right? Except, at one point you asked, I refused, and then a fit began. When this happens, it reminds me why I hesitate to go anywhere with you and your sister without someone else there to help me out. Walking into a minefield would be the equivalent to that sort of suicide mission.

It starts with the whine. Just thinking about it makes me shudder, that’s how much I can’t stand it. I know what comes after it and there are only two options. The first and easiest option is to give in, get you the damned stuffed animal and it’s over. The other should have stuck my face on a mine option was to stand my ground, refuse, talk it out, and rush the hell out of the store and to the car as fast as possible. Being the masochist that I am, I chose to test my luck with those mines.

Nothing I said was working. The more I spoke, the louder you cried and the harder you planted your feet to the floor. There was no talking to you at that moment because we were both explosive. It got to the point where I had to pick you up and CARRY YOU out of the store. Problem was, you decided to stiffen up and arch yourself back. The only way to keep you from flipping upside down and slipping out of my hands head first into the floor was to hold your head and push in the opposite direction as you were pushing.

toywars1a.jpgI headed straight for the restroom where, even though people can still hear us, I could talk you down. You started screaming “I don’t want to go there! I DON’T WANT TO GOOOOO THERE!!!” over and over while squirming as much as possible.

While still walking I said through my clenched teeth, “You either go with me to the restroom so we could talk, or I spank your butt right here in front of everyone. It’s your choice.” You stopped squirming but the crying kept going. It didn’t matter because I’d take whatever you give me just as long as there was some progress. I felt confident enough that you weren’t going to make things any more difficult for me, so I put you down and let you walk with me.

We got to the restroom and headed for the big stall. Perfect timing because my bladder was feeling full. While I emptied it, I said nothing and let you cry a bit longer. Maybe, just maybe, you’d chill out and we could talk calmly. No such luck this time. Hey. A mother can wish, right?

You cry as loud as you could.

Me: “Listen. We’re not getting out of here until you calm down and we talk about it.”

You continue with the crying.

Me: “Okay. Listen. Here’s what we’re going to do.”

Your crying gets lower and slower.

Me: “Okay. Here’s what we’re going to do. Are you listening?”

You nod.

Me: “Remember the money you’ve been saving? All the change you found? All the change Mommy and Daddy gave you?”

More nodding.

Me:“You need to save up enough money to buy the toy yourself, okay? I’ll help you count your money to make sure you have enough. When you do, we’ll come back and get it, okay?”

Nodding.

Me:“Buuuut…”

(Come on people, you all knew that was coming, right?)

Me: “You’ll have to get some of your other toys and give them away to kids that can’t afford toys, okay?”

You stop crying and a teeny tiny little “Yes” escapes your quivering lips.

Me: “Good. Can we do that? Can we donate some of your other toys, then save up enough money to buy that cute little animal?”

You: “Yes.” End crying.

We washed our hands and faces and headed back out. toywars1c.jpgEverything was fine after that, although it felt weird.

That was tough, wasn’t it? That sort of thing doesn’t happen to us very often, but when it does, neither of us knows what to do. It could have gotten ugly in there, but it didn’t. We made it out with only our feelings slightly hurt. Mommy didn’t scream, Niki didn’t get spanked or dragged out of the mall. Things I’m pretty sure we were both imagining. I’m learning. We’re learning. This is going to take some time, but as long as you’re willing, we can beat this rough patch like we always do.

Put to the test

Letter to Nikisha (Five years seven months):

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Dear Niknik,

What a month this has been, huh? It started out fine and we were content.

Then our tolerance for each other was put to the test. In many ways we failed, but we made it through without injury. All four of us were sick at one time or another, overlapping each other at some points. You can only imagine just how awful that was for us. Tension ran high and patience ran low. We got on each other’s nerves and couldn’t help but get mad.

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Being sick for so long also made us tired and sad. Coughing and sniffing, and blowing our noses. Unable to smell anything good or taste our food. All we could do is lay around and watch cartoons. Doesn’t sound so bad, huh? Except when Mommy was the one that was sick and couldn’t do anything. You wanted to play games and I wouldn’t. You wanted to talk and I couldn’t. You wanted to sing and dance, and I just didn’t have the energy to even entertain the thought. It hurt me inside seeing you so sad because I couldn’t do anything with you. I failed that part of the test, didn’t I? The one where I’m supposed to be SuperMom even when I’m sick?

Do not worry, though, because even though we didn’t pass every test, we’re learning.

I knew that the next week was going to be all three of us girls… all the time. Your school district was having a mid-winter break and you had no school all week. You didn’t even have jazz class this week. Added to that, Daddy had a full schedule with his regular job, his part-time job, plus his side job. We hardly saw him these past three weeks, and when we did, he was on the computer working some more. We were both sad that he didn’t have time to hang out with us, but it’s understandable. He’s doing what needs to be done to give us a good life. Mommy knew what to do to make things better.

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When I felt well and my mind was clearer, I came up with an idea. We were going to have the mother-daughter crafty time we so deserved. You didn’t even know what the idea was, but you jumped onboard without hesitation. You trusted that I would have something fun for us to do. That I did, and I planned to spread it out through the week. On the plus side, there were enough things that you could do on your own that I could get some of my own things done. That is, when I’m not playing with your sister.

The first day I had you sit at the table and make a list. You had to write the names of all the people that you love. Since you were learning to read and spell in school, I figured this would be a good test of how much you’ve learned. With very minimal assistance from me, you spelt out each name by sounding them out. I was so proud of how well you did, it didn’t matter that you spelt every one of them wrong except for the one I helped you with.

Then, over the next few days we drew and cut out shapes, wrote messages and glued things together. Let the ones we started dry and continued the next day. Finishing the first set, then starting on the second. The morning after we finished the first set, you were so excited to put it in the mailbox. We did a little every day and are still working on them.

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The best part? It had been warm outside despite the fact that it’s still winter. We needed the fresh air and sun, so I got us dressed and headed to the playground for some fun. We went three days in a row, and you got to be as loud and crazy as you wanted. No one got mad and you loved every minute of it.

An emotional roller coaster was the ride we got on for February. What a month it’s been, huh?

Love,
Your Mama

Report card

Letter to Nikisha (5 years 4 months):

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My little school girl,

When Grandma was here the first week of this month, we would talk all about you, your sister and your cousins. When we talked about you, we talked about how amazing you are with school and everything you do. Then Grandma mentioned something that is part awesome, part scary. She thinks you might be a perfectionist, and I agree. You seem to get upset if anything is done or said wrong. If we ask you if you know the answers, you say ‘yes’, but if we ask what they are, you shrug. You refuse to answer or change the subject when you don’t know the answer to the questions we ask.

Halfway though the month you came home with what you called ‘the bad note‘ from your teacher explaining that you don’t listen and refuse to participate in class. She noted that you would prefer to play with your classmates instead of learning. We were shocked to learn all the things she’s said about you. The next day, we went to your very first Parent Teacher Conference. It was full of surprises for us. You are a completely different person with us than you are there. It’s so hard to imagine you being so shy and not willing to participate in class.

Daddy and I decided to work on that with you almost immediately after we left your classroom. We wanted you to know that it was okay to be wrong sometimes. You shouldn’t be afraid to speak up and tell your teacher you don’t know the answers. You should try to answer if you think you do. Of course, we didn’t pressure you, but just let you know.

A week went by and we hadn’t heard anything. I was unsure of your progress until you came home one day with a note and puzzle from your teacher. She gave it to you because you’ve been doing so well in the following week the conference and wanted to encourage you to continue.

I wrote an email to your teacher telling her about what happened next.

Hello Miss Kim,

My husband, Nikisha and I would like to thank you for the puzzle you gave to Nikisha. It was very thoughtful and generous of you. It’s also nice to know you remembered the things we’ve mentioned about her.

On our way back to our place after school, she told me about it. Immediately after we got in the door, she wanted to get started on it. It took her about 10 minutes to put the whole thing together. It IS too easy for her, but she loves it despite that. She took it apart after showing me she did it, and then proceeded to put it together a second (and even third) time.

Now (the next morning) she took it apart and decided to try to put it together flipped over where she can’t see the picture and can only go by the shapes. As I’m typing, she is halfway done with it. It amazes me how she’s able to do that and wanted to share that with you.

We’ve been working with her to teach her that it’s okay to speak up in class and she doesn’t always have to be right. I’m very happy to hear that it’s working.

Thank you again for the puzzle. I hope that we’ll continue to be able to work together to bring out the best in Nikisha and further her awesome development.

Sincerely,
Nicole

My little Niki. Oh how happy it makes me to know that you are mine. I can already tell you’ll be a smart little cookie when you are older and that’s a good thing. You’ll give all those boys a run for their money. You won’t be easily fooled. YOU BETTER NOT BE OR SOMEONE WILL REGRET IT! I’m just not sure who (him, you, me) just yet.

Love, mama

Night Fright

Letter to Nikisha (5 years 3 months):

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Sweet Little Niki,

You’re growing up way too fast. Every time I look at you, I wonder where the time went. Then all of a sudden, you remind me that you’re still small and vulnerable. You still need us even though sometimes it seems like you don’t.

This past month something happened. Maybe it’s the sound of the cars driving by, or the people’s voices as they walk past our apartment, or maybe it’s something else. All I know is you’re back to crawling into our bed because you’re scared and don’t want to sleep alone. Some nights, after we lay you down to sleep, you cry and cry. It’s not a fake cry, but almost a pleading for us not to leave you alone. It breaks my heart, but I can’t figure out how to make things better.

One night, when I told you it was time to sleep, I had laid your sister down next to you so I could put your clothes away. You were so happy that I did and said to me “Thank you, Mommy, for letting my sissy sleep with me”. When I told you she couldn’t because she could fall off your bed, you began to cry that pleading cry. It broke my heart even more knowing that you would even settle for having your sister, who is just a baby and much smaller than you, sleep with you. I explained to you that she couldn’t because she’s been extra cranky lately and refuses to sleep in her own bed. Then you asked to sleep with us. I explained that our bed isn’t big enough for the four of us because you and your sister are getting too big. You looked so sad and I knew you would end up in our bed sometime in the night while we were asleep. So, I gave in just a little, and made a bed on the floor with a comforter and pillow. As you laid down and crawled under your blanket, you closed your eyes and had the most content look on your cute little face. It lightened my heart and the weight on my shoulders, even if it was only a temporary fix. Looks like that little “bed” will be there for you for whenever you get scared, but I’ll still have you go to sleep in your own bed and hope that this fear goes away.

Let me not leave out what drives me crazy about you, for it wouldn’t be fair to either of us. You are far from being the perfect little angel I make you out to be sometimes. Not that you aren’t awesome, because you most definitely are.

This is the highest point you’ve hit on the ‘I want’ phase. Almost every single toy commercial expels that constantly growing despised ‘Wow! I want that!’ phrase from your cute little mouth. Saying ‘no’ doesn’t work anymore because you just start whining knowing it gets on my nerves. I’ve even tried compromising with you. I first explain that there is no space in your bedroom for anymore toys. If you let me get rid of some of the toys you have now, maybe we’ll get something new. You say yes, so we head into your room and I ask you to choose a bunch of toys you would like to trade. You say okay and get to work, but after going through the huge lot of toys you have, you pick out two or three of the smallest toys possible. The rest end up right back into your toy bin. I also noticed that some of the toys you chose to give away were your sister’s!

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Your cousins Alicia and Baby Josh came to visit. They came for your sister’s first birthday, but stayed a whole week and two days. You got to go Trick-or-Treating with them after dressing up as a Princess Kitty. You couldn’t decide on what you wanted to be, so you just put both of your costumes together. You all had so much fun during their visit that I wish it hadn’t ended.

I know that you and Alicia missed each other so much. You kept asking if we can go visit her. She said she wanted to go to school with you. Oh how I would love to have her and her brother stay with us. I know she would love school so much more because you’ll be there with her. She’ll see how much you love it and want to love it just as much as you. She’ll feel the love our family has amongst us and be a part of it. Our love is and always will be unconditional. Never fleeting, always without reason except just because. Not because we feel we have to love them, but because they are meant to be loved. I wish we could give them that, but our hands are tied. Hopefully someday they will know the life you live everyday and live the same way.

That was the original plan, staying together with them at your grandparents’ house, instead of moving here to Seattle. Problem is, things beyond my control forced us to make the difficult decision of changing our plans and actually moving us farther away from your cousins instead of closer. If you ever want to know why, I’ll tell you personally, but not here. It’s not something that should be shared with the world. All I can say is that the events leading up to our decision is embedded in my mind forever though I wish they would disappear. I just hope that it will fade from yours as time goes by.

Believe me when I say that I may not be able to give you everything you want and most definitely deserve, but I will do my best to teach you how to survive in this world. I will teach you how to live life to the fullest and take chances. I will teach you how to make decisions on your own. There may be times when I do the wrong thing, but I hope you’ll forgive me because I’m doing my best to do what’s right. Please know that I fight with myself all the time to do what’s right and not do things with selfish intentions. The things I do are for what I feel is best for you even if it’s not what’s best for me. I will always put you first when you need to be put there. You, your sister and your father are my highest priority, and I will drag myself through a road of broken glass if that is what’s best for the three of you.

Listen to me, crappy sappy mushiness flowing through my fingertips through this keyboard and onto the screen. I want to delete it all so you don’t think your mother is a big softy, but it is who I am and always will be even if it doesn’t always seem like it.