Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Highs and the Lows

Lilly & Jon in Waiheke

Random boy trying to kiss Lilly on the boat

A view of our house from the ferry.

(Not sure which one it is, but it's the general area.)

Lilly & I on the ferry.

Jon & Lilly on the ferry

Jon & I

As you can tell from my previous post, there's both good and not-as-ideal things about our year away. In general, as far as the year in the life of the Sherman family, the 3 of us have never been happier. Speaking for myself, I've never been in such a better place with my role in life - I am loving being Lilly's mom, Jon & I are doing great, and there's just not a lot of internal drama. And then we're placed in another country where everything is arguably harder, based on the fact that it feels like we just don't totally belong here. Yet we're all surviving, and while it's a lonely year from the aspect of missing family and friends, it's a fulfilling year within our little family.

Where am I headed with this? Lilly and the terrible twos. To put it bluntly, it's kind of like she's bipolar. Because the highs are so high and the lows are so low. The world actually ends, if she doesn't get that cookie when she wants it (or worse, if we give her a cookie when she really wants a cracker!), or if we try to enforce naptime on Sundays. It's actually not so bad (I've heard worse stories than what we've dealt with so far, and for the most part she's an agreeable little kid), but when she is sad or mad, it's exhausting more than anything. And figuring out how to deal with it is tough - do we leave her alone and wait for it to blow over, or put on a happy face and try to cheer her up? Do we give in to the tantrum? I know that every experience in her life is new at this age, so everything is more intense than it ever will be. And who am I to judge? I've had enough tantrums and crying jags of my own with this big move overseas.

And as God gave two year olds their tantrums, He also decided to make these toddlers more adorable and charismatic than ever. Which is the best part. A year ago I had a 15 month old baby who still acted like a baby. Now I have a drama queen who is loving Annie (High School Musical is SO yesterday! Until she changes her mind next week, of course), who is singing songs and telling stories (in a mixture of English, signs, and another unidentified language), who is super demonstrative with her love and affection, and who is all around just a wonderful little angel. (When she's not acting like the above described devil, of course.)

So it's kind of like this year. It's tough in some ways, but the good most definitely outshines the bad. It's exhausting, but we count our blessings in so many ways.

With that being said, let me introduce you to our weekend.

We went to a Maori cultural performance at the local museum. Lilly had been to a similar event in Rotorua a month ago when Jon's parents were in town, and absolutely loved the singing and dancing. Except, as she's 2, she reserved the right to have an opposite reaction to it this time. It was pretty loud, and a little intense, and she clutched on to Jon and I and covered her face with her hands the entire peformance. It was actually pretty adorable - she covered her eyes but peeked out between her fingers, so she still managed to watch it. You might have thought that she hated it, but at the end of each song she still managed to clap, and then go back to covering her face. And when it was over, she had to blow huge kisses to the performers, and then for the next hour, tell the same story over and over again very seriously, with wide eyes, in sign language: "Music. Dancing." Then she'd get quiet for another minute, and then say again "Music. Dancing." So it made an impression on her, but hopefully wasn't too traumatic. Here is a picture of the dancers, and a picture of Lilly 4 months ago of her covering her eyes (just so you see how cute she is like that!).

After Lilly's nap, we went to Waiheke Island, which is one of the islands you can see from our house. It's a gorgeous place, and known mostly as a vacation spot, although many people also live there. A vacation home on the beach in NZ is called a bach (pronounced batch). There are also a few vineyards on the island. We took a 45 minute ferry to get there. Lilly loved the ferry, and signed "boat" and "water" a lot. There were also two bicycles hanging sideways from the ceiling, which seemed to amuse her, and she signed "bike" a few times as well. We sang songs for most of the ride over, and she was in a great mood. At one point though, she decided that she was too cool for us, and moved a few seats down, and faced away from us. We realized after a few minutes that she was actually singing her own song - video is at the bottom of this blog entry.

Once we got to Waiheke, we had a taxi take us to a vineyard where we did a wine tasting. Unfortunately, Lilly heard it as "whine" instead of "wine," and proceeded to act accordingly. She used to be so good at wine tastings! (Is that a sentence that most parents say? But living in Charlottesville, with like 20 wineries nearby, it wasn't so unusual.) Lilly was pacified with potato chips, and "cheered" her chips with our wine glasses.

As I was saying at the beginning, each good time must have it's bad counterpart, and Lilly's amazing behavior all morning and on the ferry ride over had to end at some point. It was when we did the most horrible thing ever to her - we put her in her stroller. (As everyone gasps in horror!) How could we do such a completely mean thing? We wanted to walk to another winery, about 15 minutes down the beautiful landscape, with picturesque views of the wineries, farm land, and ocean. Well it was intolerable, according to 2 year old Lilly, and she was outraged. But then pacified with more chips. But then another horrible thing happened - halfway to our destination, she got thirsty. And she wanted milk NOW! Not in 5 minutes. She couldn't wait that long! She was *so* thirsty! (With all those salty potato chips, I can imagine, but still!)

Then we passed a horse, and things were better. What milk?

And then we arrived at the winery, and Lilly finally got her milk and was a delightful little lady. She was sweet and adorable. It was like the past 15 minutes hadn't happened. She sat in a wine bar (imagine that!) between her parents, and drank her own "white" drink, while mommy had a glass of white wine, daddy had a glass of red, and we shared a cheese tray. What a mature little lady!

And then leaving the winery, she accidently fell. Because while she's Officially a Walker (I confirmed it with her physiotherapist!), she's not always a good walker. And the world ended. So we got back in the taxi and gave her goldfish. And the world was a better place once again.

Our next stop was to a local beach, where Lilly walked along the sand holding her parents' hands. She was a picture of beauty and grace, although she got really tired out after walking so long across the beach. We arrived at a playground at the other end of the beach, and she was thrilled. She went on the swing for about 15 minutes, and was ecstatic. But then... (do you see where I'm headed with this?) we had to leave. And it was the most horrible sad moment of her little life. How could we dare remove her from such a fun situation? (Note to parents videotaping their children on a swing: don't. It's very dizzy footage.)

We got in the taxi and Lilly put her little head down in my lap and vegged (is that a word?) until we got back in the ferry - she really was exhausted from her long walk and all the excitement from the day. She was so tired when we got on the ferry, and then some guy (who had clearly enough to drink) happened to turn on his boom box as loud as he could, and Lilly and 3 other kids jumped in the middle of a dance floor that suddenly appeared and started busting their moves. And then a little boy Lilly's age came over and tried to kiss her! But then the drunk guy got yelled at and had to turn his music off, and Lilly just sat, exhausted, for the rest of the boat ride and car ride home.

***Warning, excessive guilt ahead.***

When we got home she signed "potty" so we put her on and she "went" - but then we realized she had also partially "gone" on the floor between taking the diaper off and putting her on the toilet, so we started cleaning that up and started the bath - and then she jumped off the toilet and fell on the ground - forehead first. (Yes, it was as bad as it sounds.)

This one I will legitimately give her, as it was a horrible moment for us all. She'd never actually gotten off the potty on her own like that, and we were both within inches of her, so it's not like she was left alone - it was just really bad timing. Her poor little head now has a bruise on it. We were terrified that she had hurt it badly, and she definitely cried hard for awhile. And then we turned on Annie and everything was better, at least for her. We were still terrified that she wasn't ok. And even though Jon's a neurosurgeon, it's completely different knowing what to do for your own child. So, like the spork episode a few weeks ago, we decided to "wait and see." But we kept her up a few extra hours, watching Annie of course, just to make sure she was acting normal. And she was as sweet as could be at that point. It probably helped that she was watching her favorite musical and eating huge chocolate covered cookies for dinner.

She went to bed easily, but we decided around midnite to wake her up, to make sure she was ok. We went in her room and I whispered softly "Lilly, wake up, we're going to Disney World" and I kid you not, Lilly jumped up faster than anything, she completely sat up with eyes wide open! This girl is spontaneous and ready for adventure! But then we said "go back to sleep sweetheart" and she lay back down and went back to sleep.

This morning she woke up happy as a clam, and we went to church, and she was amazing the entire time. Then we went to brunch, and she was still good. Which, of course you know what that means... at noon we tried to get her to take a nap and for a solid hour she cried. So at 1 pm we decided to give up. We had plans to go bowling with some new friends at church at 2, so we figured she'd fall asleep in the car on the way over, and maybe even sleep while we bowled. She complied with part 1 of the plan, but I guess we had forgotten how loud bowling alleys are. So she had a 10 minute nap. And we paid for it later that day. She was cute while bowling of course, clapping for each person after their turn, and I even taught her how to sign "bowl" (although I didn't know the real sign, it was the Mommy version). She even bowled for me my last turn, and was better than I was, and was amazing with the other kids that were there.

After we had "afternoon tea" (i.e., Coronas) in the bowling ally bar/restaurant, while the kids played. Lilly was the cutest ever during this point of the day - she practiced walking for about an hour. Just kept standing up and walking from me to Jon to the kids to different tables and chairs. She was great! It was the most walking I've ever seen her do. And at the end she couldn't stop giving the other kids hugs and kisses!

We stopped on the way home and got kebabs for dinner, and so of course she was not happy about that. Especially the part about me not letting her run into the street, or play with broken glass on the sidewalk. (Mommy is such a meanie.) And then we came home and she sweetly ate yogurt and bread and crackers. But the world fell apart a few times in the next hour, and she was so exhausted from not really napping. And then her mommy did the most extremely horrible thing - I tried to put her to sleep a little early. (How dare I, you ask?!) (What are you, on Lilly's side?) And she cried and cried. So I then let her watch a little more Annie, and then tried to get her to go to sleep. And she was outraged again, but it was still earlier than her normal bedtime, so I fell for it and let her watch 2 minutes of Elmo. By this time her eyes were completely glazed over and she didn't mind me putting her in her crib. As long as I sang "Tomorrow" to her 3 times. And then she was out.

So in synopsis? I love Lilly with all my heart. She is an amazing girl. And I kind of believe that some of the times that she's pushed to the limit is actually our fault - I mean who takes their kid to a museum in the morning, and then a couple wineries and a beach on a nearby island in the afternoon, plus an hour and a half total on a boat, and about 2 hours total in the car, all in 1 day? She really is a trooper, and I give her credit. And I'm glad that she speaks out when she doesn't want to go along with the plan, and I'm glad that she has opinions. And I'm especially glad when she knows she's pushed us to the limits as well, and sweetly gives us big hugs and kisses, and does things that she knows will make us happy, like walk and talk and sing. And most of all, I'm thankful to God for giving me my wonderful supportive husband, my beautiful daughter Lilly, and the patience to deal with them both!

(Here is footage of Lilly singing on the boat. Really wish I knew the song in her head - I think it was a mix between the Macarena and "It's a Hard Knock Life." By the way, since we were on a windy boat and she wasn't really singing out loud, you won't really hear anything important.)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Cathleen, you really know how to capture the memorable moments of our year in NZ. I couldn't say it better myself. Years from now we'll have this blog to look back on a remember our young family. Keep up the amazing effort to record our history both for ourselves and for others to enjoy.
Love, Jon