Thursday, January 24, 2008

She CAN do it!

Doodle has always been hesitant to try new things, for one reason or another. If it's a physical activity, she's usually too scared to do it for fear of getting hurt. More intellectual activities (painting, writing her name, reading, tying her shoes) seem to have an age limit on them in her mind.

For instance, she used to say, "I'll learn to tie my shoes when I'm 5, like Tora did." Ok, fine. But if we take the time to show her that she is capable of doing something, she's always surprised, and her preconceived notions of age-appropriate activities vanish.

On Monday, Dahdoo was asking her sisters to read to her, and Doodle said, "Ask Tora...I can't read yet. I'll read when I'm 6." Monday afternoon, I sat down on the couch with her, handed her Dr. Seuss's "Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now?" and asked her to just try and read. She read the whole book, cover to cover, and squealed with excitement at her newfound skill.

Last night, she read Green Eggs and Ham (all 62 pages!) all by herself. I only had to help her with three or so words, but she read the rest of the book in its entirety, completely solo. She was thrilled, and asked if we could read a book together every night. I promised her that we would.

It's amazing to me sometimes how incredibly smart she really is. Tora stumbled a LOT when learning to read, and gave up more times than I can count, professing that it was just too hard, and she'd do it when she was older. She wasn't really reading whole books until the beginning of last year. Doodle seems to be a step ahead, because once she sees that she can do something, there's no stopping her.

I wish I'd figured out how to help Tora read more easily. Doodle and I figured out that instead of sounding out each letter and then saying the sounds faster and faster to get the word right, she can sound out each letter, then run them together and get the words about 4x faster. For instance, the word "tree" became "" then "ttttttttttttrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrreeeeeeeeeeeeeeee" "oh, tree!"

She's amazing, and I'm so proud of her. She wants to read everything in sight now, which is so very cool. And she remembers everything too, which is awesome. I asked her after we'd read the book last night how many places Sam-I-Am wanted the "yellow fuzzy monster guy" to eat green eggs and ham. "Let's a boat, and in a car, and a train, and a tree, and a house, and with a mouse, and with a goat, and in the dark...I think that's it."

This is so cool. :)

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Happy Birthday, Tora!

Today you turned 8. 8?! How did that happen? It seems like just yesterday I was meeting you for the first time, and listening to you babble away in your adorable mostly-nonsensical toddler speak.

You have changed so much in the last 4 years, which is inevitable, I know, but still comes as somewhat of a shock. You are becoming such a grownup version of your old self. I love getting to watch you learn new things, and grow, and discover hidden talents.

When we sat down on Monday to paint, I was astounded at your creativity and skill. Truly, I was. I think part of me still expects to see that awkward, bumbling little kid I once knew, and instead I'm greeted by a poised, eloquent, beautiful young girl. You're definitely not a baby anymore, but will always be my baby, no matter how old you get.

I can't wait to see where your life will lead you, and which paths you'll choose to take. You are more beautiful and amazing every day, and every time I'm with you, I'm left feeling intense, heart-wrenching emotions. When you're not here, I feel like there's a hole in my heart.

Your baby brother and sister worship the ground you walk on. Dahdoo spends most of her days wandering around the house calling for you, and then is reduced to wails when she's told that you're not here. As soon as I say "let's go get your sissies from school!" she races to get her shoes and coat on, and is out the door before I can say, "time to go!"

You are kind, generous, caring, sweet, smart, and amazingly beautiful. Watching you curl up with your baby sister and read to her warms my soul, because you have such love for her, and care so deeply for her. You are intensely sympathetic towards others, and really seem to feel their pain. You feel so deeply, and we spend a lot of time with you, just helping you put your emotions in to words. I think that has really helped you, as you seem to be on a more even keel when we've finished a long conversation.

I am so honored and blessed that God saw fit to make me a part of your life, and I thank Him every day for bringing you to me, and me to you. You are part of what I was missing in my life, and I am so hugely grateful that I get to watch you grow up. You're going to be an amazing woman some day, and will do so many great things.

I love you, baby.


Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Bear Family in the News!

On Sunday in church, our pastor gave away $6000. We were each handed an envelope with contents ranging from $5-$1000 and told to do something to personally impact someone else's life.

I got $20, and while grocery shopping came across someone who needed it.

Our local NBC affiliate picked up the story, and then it got out "on the wire" as they say and was picked up by the Associated Press, so our local Fox affiliate ran the story tonight. I got a call at 11 this morning, asking if I could be at church (a local movie theater) at noon to be interviewed. Sure! Off I went, with babies in tow. B met me there, as he was killing time between meetings, and entertained the babes while I talked to the reporter.

They got a nice closeup of Dahdoo, dontcha think? Those eyes, man...
Here's the story.

2 is Rough

Dahdoo is almost 2. She went through a tantrum phase about a year ago, but as soon as she started signing regularly and speaking more, they died down tremendously. Now we've started with the whining. Oh, the whining. Everything that comes out of her mouth is in a whiny voice. I told B last night, after we'd been listening to her whine/yell at us while we ate our dinner, "If you've ever wondered why I'm mildly frazzled when you get home at night, there's your answer!" 10 minutes with that and he was starting to twitch.

I know we have it easy compared to many families, and it honestly wouldn't be as bad if it didn't effect the other three kids so much. If she was my only child I could manage just fine, but when she gets in to whine mode all the other kids feed off of it. It's really amazing to see. Jax starts crying and frantically crawls up in to my arms, Doodle and Tora start whining's just a mess.

We've been working with her to say words without whining, but how do you explain to a not even 2 year old that Mommy can not stand that tone of voice? You can't.

I'll be glad when this phase passes.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Raging Hormones

My kids', not mine.

Dahdoo adores her daddy and her sisters. Since her sisters were here for two weeks straight, she got very used to seeing them all the time. The first day that they were back in school was hell. She pouted around the house all day, vehemently refused to be held, and was generally miserable. Didn't help that she was cutting four teeth simultaneously.

Monday, she kept asking for B, and upon hearing that he was at work, threw major hissy fits. She'd wail and scream, then go up to her room and slam the door (as much slamming as a 20 month old is capable of, mind you) and refuse to let me in. I assume she slept a little bit (on her sister's bed, not hers) and then she'd come down for a while, eat a little bit, ask for Daddy, and start the process all over again.

In other news, tax season is ramping up very slowly. As of right now I'm scheduled to work one day this week and one day next week. I assumed when I took this job that I would be working during the times I said I was available. This is not apparently the case. Instead, I'll be filled in where needed, and not necessarily always at the same location. Kinda obnoxious when you get right down to it, but it's a job, and money, and we don't have to pay for childcare, so we can't complain. I'm also in talks to take on a second job, working from midnight to 5am at the gym we just joined across the street. It will pay well, and again, we won't need to secure childcare, so I'll just have to figure out when to sleep. As long as B can get home at a decent time (around 5) I should be able to get 5 or 6 hours of sleep before I have to go to work, and then another hour or two after I get home but before the kids wake up. We'll see. We just need to make sure we stay out of debt so that our credit can improve if we ever want to even think about buying a house, which we do.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

New Year, New Goals!

B and I joined a gym today. Yay!

It's across the street from our house, is open 24 hours a day, and is affordable...all good things! We canceled my cell phone, since B got one through work and my contract was almost up, so I'm carrying his old one. Gym memberships for both of us will be a few dollars cheaper than my cell phone was. Shweet!

We're very excited to get back in shape together. My body has changed so much since having babies, especially back-to-back that I need some serious work to get where I want to be. I'm well on my way, having lost 60 pounds since Jax was born last Valentine's Day, but I've mostly got tonight work that I want to do now. I'm not so much worried about losing weight as I am reorganizing the weight I've got, so to speak.

B wants to lose 20-30 pounds. He gave up fast food last year for New Year's and lost 35 pounds in just a few months. Crazy.

We haven't set resolutions, as they almost never get kept (but hey, I made it through the end of '07 without getting pregnant! Go me!) but instead are trying to make conscious efforts to change our lives.

We want to be around to bug our kids for a VERY long time.

Thursday, January 03, 2008


Sorry, the holidays got away from us!

Happy New Year, and I hope your Christmas was a wonderful one (if you celebrate!).

We're not making resolutions for 2008, but instead are just focusing on living better, more peaceful, fuller lives with our children and for ourselves. B will continue to stay away from fast food (a resolution he made for 2007 that granted him a 35 pound weight loss) and I will continue to try my hardest to not get pregnant (another 2007 resolution, after spending all or part of 05, 06 and 07 pregnant).

One of the focuses of my energy will be to declutter this house! We don't have a lot of stuff, but with 4 kids the quantity of possessions increases rapidly and exponentially. It can get out of hand if I don't stay on top of it.

I'd like to get to a point at which I don't look around and see things that haven't even been looked at in a year. There's just no reason to keep them. There may be someone else out there who could use them, or quite frankly, they might be worth something! :)

So I'll be mixing my decluttering attempts in here with the kid updates if you don't mind.

And now, pictures!