My Strong-Willed Child

He’s the child I never knew I missed.

I wasn’t quite ready…but you can see Vincent was ūüôā

He’s the one that made us say, “If he’d¬†been first…he might have been last.”

He loves to say “CHEESE!”

He tests my patience. Yet he fills my heart so full it could burst.

He wanted us to have “silly sticker noses”

I’d always heard about this thing called a “strong-willed” child. I thought, perhaps, I had seen glimpses in my other children. But I only learned how naive I¬†had been¬†when Vincent was born into our family. Because our experience with him highlighted for me that the glimpses of “strong will” we’d seen in the other children were just your normal, everyday, run-of-the-mill challenges of normal-tempered children at different stages. Vincent showed us that “strong willed child” means strong-will, all the time, every day, every minute, with every choice and every occasion.

Vincent goes all-out, all the time. Even in the beginning–I can look back to pregnancy and labor/delivery and say, “I should have known…”

Vincent was the one of my pregnancies where we checked progesterone early and often and it just kept plummeting. It was Vincent who wouldn’t cooperate at 12 weeks and let the doctor get a good heart beat with the doppler thingy and so he had to do a pelvic and jumble things around until we heard it and put my mind at ease. It was Vincent who¬†forced his way to 27 hours of induced labor including 16 hours of “good” contractions before finally deciding to descend and be born in the matter of about 5 minutes. All on his time, you see. I joked with my doctor about whether this was a “5th child” thing — the kid taking his sweet time to be born (my doctor had shared that he was a 5th child…) Honestly, the newborn months are a blur (as they are with all the kids), but as we emerged into our new normal, Vincent still exhibited this all-out, all the time personality.

Three-and-a-half years in, I regularly acknowledge that Vincent is my strong-willed child. He’s wild. He’s loud. And…he gets what he wants more often than not.

He loves cars…so surely he enjoyed playing this game with his daddy.

I’ve¬†tried to be a mother twho¬†“chooses” the “battles” carefully. But I never had so many to choose from before Vincent! I never realized how blessed I was with the older four that “choosing my battle” meant just once or twice a week. Because with Vincent I am choosing between 6 or 7 a day (sometimes the choice between 6 or 7 happens between 6:15 and 7:15 a.m.!!)

The fact that Vincent is 3-and-a-half-years-old now only exacerbates the issue because now he can talk (and yell, scream, etc) and make sure we know what he wants and that he won’t back down. Sometimes I force my hand and he has to do it my way — and I’m rewarded with a screamfest for the ages. More times than I like to admit, I give in and decide it is not worth it to fight.

A mom often ponders whether she is doing a good job at being a mom. When the kids are older, you start to realize that each of them has a personality and temperament that determines how they behave and what kind of mom you are seems to have less and less to do with anything. With Vincent, I question even more, my abilities, than I did with the other kids.

He’s the first one that’s been in daycare for his whole life, we’ve had an awesome experience with our daycare, too. The woman who cares for Vincent all day is gentle, kind, loving and still firm¬†— is his experience the reason he is so different?

Vincent is the first of my kids to reach this age without another child joining the family (on Earth)¬†— does that motivate him to behave the way he does? I experience so much more of Vincent because I don’t have a baby on my hip, I’m convinced. Is my perception colored by this new and different experience? I am sure it is.

And perhaps my perception is colored, too, by the fact that I miss his little brother at times. Who knows what kind of child Vincent would be with Gregory tagging along…?

Sitting in the Darth Vader chair…hmmmm

While¬†Vincent takes so much of my energy with regard to discipline and formation, he also replenishes my emotional stores faster than I remember it happening with the other kids. Vincent works hard and loves harder. He looks up to Dominic with a ferocity I haven’t seen in the other kids. He pays enough attention to his sisters that he knows which of them can provide him with what he wants when he wants it. He makes my heart melt when he requests a hug and a kiss before I leave the house or leave him at daycare. He doesn’t say “I love you” all the time like the other kids did when they first realized how much I liked hearing them say it. But he says it when I least expect it and I can feel his emotion reaching my heart every time he¬†says it.

A strong-willed child is a special experience. Yes, it can be difficult and worrisome. But, at least in my case, it’s accompanied by such passion! I love that.¬†

It is only because Vincent joined our family, that I am able to experience it.


Dear Vincent (Part 3)

Dear Vincent,
Do you realize you are the only kid that (now) has three posts (on this blog) all addressed to YOU? I wrote to you twice when you were still in my womb. 

Just 12 hours old…

I have always been particularly fond of communicating with you through this blog. Perhaps when you are older, you’ll read some of it. I don’t know what you’ll think, but I hope you’ll be able to see just how much I have always loved you and your siblings.

You found your favorite hiding/mischief spot early!
Always had a knack of finding those
spots you just fit into…

Today is your birthday! You are three years old. It feels incredible to say that. You are my youngest child on this earth and you are now a little boy and not really a baby anymore. You don’t need diapers and you talk more and more every day. You have a fantastic personality — you’re funny, active, persistent, sweet and loving, too.

Can’t keep you indoors to save our lives

You still have me wrapped around your little finger. You’ve always given me a look that makes me feel like I’m the only woman you’ll ever love (and I LOVE it…) and I’m happy to say that your little hiatus or preferring Daddy to me is over, at least for now.¬†

When I drop you off in the morning, you want to give me hugs and kisses. If I leave the house, you run after me saying, “Kiss! Kiss! I need Kiss!!!” At night, you’ve begun to sing the songs with me as I sing to you before you fall asleep. I love that. You’re the only child of mine that has done that. By now, the other children have grown tired of bedtime songs, but not you. You insist and you belt out the tunes as if you’d written the songs yourself!

You MUST be outside as much as possible — if nothing
organized is going on, you “tinker.”

This past Easter Sunday

You love to play outside much more than I remember the other kids. You actually ask if you can go outside, and while you’re out there, you will play and do anything. You love to kick the ball around, or throw it. You will play with bigger toys if they are around. But even if there are no toys, your imagination knows no bounds!¬†

Getting so big!

You’re more of a daredevil than your older brother. You will jump off just about anything and you love to climb, climb climb! I don’t think there is anything you can’t do. You threw a ball a pretty good distance when you were only 9 months old and you love to swim! You will kick your legs and try to move your arms — almost as though you are a natural in the pool.

You love the bigger little kid toys…

One of the most fun things about you is how you laugh and make jokes so openly about things the rest of us would rather not mention. You were thrilled to get your turn with the Whoopie Cushion the girls brought home from your grandparents’ house.

And…the Whoopie Cushion!!!

But one of the most heart-warming things I’ve had the pleasure to hear has been you wishing you could be with your brother or your sisters. Sometimes, you’d rather stay home from daycare when you know your brother will be home so that you can play with him. Sometimes, you ask me to bring along your sisters on a quick errand because you want to have them with you in the car. Sometimes, it’s just the fact that all four of the older ones will create a game completely centered on you and the five of you will play together for a little while. Nothing warms my heart more than seeing all five of you working or playing together in harmony.

You’re just so gosh-darned sweet

So, today, as you turn three, I look back over these past three years and I see this beautiful boy who is growing into his own little person and finding his place in this world. And right now, that is just figuring out how you fit into this family as the youngest of five.

And you’re doing a fabulous job. I love you so much, Vincent. Happy Birthday!

A moment I’m so pleased to remember with this photo

Throwback Thursday Reruns: The Grace of Midnight Cuddles

This morning I was thinking about how much I enjoy the fact that I get to sleep all night (almost) every night. The years of waking up to feed or change a baby, or soothe midnight cries of teething pain, were hard. But then I remembered that some parts of it were not as bad as I thought and I remembered this post from when Vincent was 7 months old and thought it would be a great rerun post.

I hope you enjoy it!


I hear a baby grunt. Then a groan. Soon enough, the baby cries follow and I am made aware through my sleepiness that this is not the type of baby stirring that will go away on its own. I open my eyes and I see the clock. Sometimes it’s 2:30 a.m. Sometimes it’s 1:15. Some nights it is only 12:45 a.m. and I am horrified as I realize I have only gotten about 2 hours of sleep in before the call to get the baby.

Tonight it is 1:30 or so when I hear Vincent stirring.
I stumble over Dominic, who has made a little bed out of the floor on the side of my bed, and make my way down the stairs and into the baby’s room. I pick him up and put him on the changing table and he cries out…this is unusual, but I decide at the early hour, it is probably not critical to have a diaper change. I make my way to the kitchen, flip on the light and start the water flowing to warm up to make a bottle. As I do all of this, I steal little kisses on Vincent’s cheeks to which he smiles and giggles in return…and now I wonder if these middle-of-the-night visits are purposeful ways of getting one-on-one time with Mommy.
We sit down and in the 15 seconds it takes for me to get situated for a good hold and a view of my iPhone (to catch up on blogs or something while feeding) Vincent gets impatient and cries out and shakes his head as if to say, “I need that bottle NOW, Mommy!”
As he drinks his midnight cocktail (as I have called it before), I read some facebook but cannot determine the result of the basketball game I was watching as I fell asleep. Oh well, I make my plays on Hanging with Friends and Words with Friends. And soon enough, Vincent is finished.
I put the phone down, I put the empty bottle down and I work Vincent into his cuddle position and we sit in the dark. I feel him burp and then nestle into the crook of my neck and his hand finds its familiar place on the inside of my shirt just above my breast area. And I hear him breathe contentedly.
And now, I realize that I don’t really hate getting up in the middle of the night with my baby boy. It’s my chance to smell him and take in all his baby goodness. It is in these quiet moments that we are building our relationship — he is learning to trust that I will be there, even in the pit of darkness — to give him what he needs, whether it be nourishment or cuddles or safety.
It is at these times that I remember that this isn’t the first time I was required this much at night. Sarah was a baby that didn’t sleep through consistently for probably a good 18-20 months of her life. I had forgotten. Of course, that was 10 years ago, and I didn’t have the maturity to appreciate the quiet solitude the middle of the night brings then. I was too engrossed in my annoyance that I had to rise at that hour at all. It is at these times that I realize how spoiled I was with the next three babies who slept through consistently very early on and it was only one in maybe 20 nights that I was awakened from my slumber, if at all.
So tonight, I decide to close my eyes and just listen to Vincent breathing on me. Tonight, I think about the fact that this could be the last time I get this opportunity, so I will make the most of it. I think about earlier in the night when I made him giggle by playing peek-a-boo while he lay on his changing table. His laugh is like my own personal version of catnip. I would do anything to hear it for eternity. I think about his infectious grin. I think about the cups of saliva that spill out of his mouth all day. I think of his big brown eyes that give me looks like I am the only woman for him. I think about how he grabs my hair and continues to pull and play gently until it hurts me. I think about him bouncing with joy in his “exer-saucer” and how much he has learned in the last month.
The first year of a baby’s life flies so quickly. But what is so odd is how parts of it feel like they drag on forever. Vincent is now 7 months old. He is barreling down the road to his 1st birthday. Time is not my friend this time. My age and experience reminds me that this might be my last trip down this road. And because it is my 5th time, I know how quickly the trip can pass me by if I don’t pay attention.

After some time of just sitting there, being with Vincent, holding his 18 pounds, feeling his breath on my neck, kissing his soft head, I walk him back to his crib and place him softly for his remaining nightly slumber. I stumble back up the stairs. I step around Dominic, sleeping soundly in his makeshift bed (I suppose I should learn to find the grace in that situation, too) and I crawl back into bed.

As I drift back to sleep, I realize that I’m not all that annoyed that I spent the last 35-40 minutes taking care of Vincent.

As a matter of fact, I realize that I will actually miss these days at some point.

A throwback picture to Vincent at 6 months old

The Truly Terrible Tantrum Stage

Honestly, I’ve been blessed over the years of babies in our house to have kids that — for the most part — didn’t throw a lot of tantrums. Well, either that, or I’ve been blessed with forgetfulness.

These days, I feel like Vincent is making me pay for that.

Vincent, oh my Vincent. 

That boy throws tantrums like nothing I have ever seen. And they don’t even make sense! He’ll make it very clear that he wants something — say, a cup of chocolate milk — and then as you go about preparing it, he starts throwing a fit. Some days he just wakes up throwing a fit. I’ve never seen anything like it.

The way in which he throws his tantrums is ridiculous, too. He literally throws himself on the floor and kicks his feet and pounds his fists. Lately he’s gone to sitting down on the floor and throwing his head backwards. This morning, he was ticked off that Craig wasn’t home from work yet when he woke up and he screamed all the way to daycare.
When he was about 6 months younger, he wasn’t talking as much and I thought the tantrums were just the result of a lack of communication. But now, he knows how to communicate, and like I said, sometimes even though he communicates he wants something and we go about doing it, he still throws a fit.¬†

As for how I handle it, I try not to pay it any mind. If we’re at home, I just make sure he’s in a safe place and ignore him. In the car it’s a bit different, though. This morning I thought I was going to go crazy if he wouldn’t stop, so I stopped by McDonald’s and got him some chocolate milk which seemed to calm him down the remaining way to daycare.

I guess the point of this is to document that this kid…

Hanging out with Daddy
About to do something ornery, for sure
going down the slide
after eating a powdered donut

…is ornery.

An Update!

I guess I took an unintended Blog Break! ¬†I’m not sure how regular I’ll be here as we steam-roll into school year 2012-13, volleyball and everything else that makes blogging appear to be exactly what it is — a hobby I do if I have some “spare” time.

But here’s an update on the family.

Craig — We are very excited that Craig will have new days off starting the middle of this month. ¬†He actually gets Friday nights off! ¬†I knew it was too much to hope he’d get any weekend nights off…the Hospitality industry just doesn’t work that way. ¬†But, he will have Thursday and Friday off every week! ¬†This is totally awesome, OMG, I just have to SQUEEEEE!!!¬†excellent for our family, I think. ¬†You see…for the last 9 years, Craig’s regular schedule has included all weekend nights. ¬†I just accepted it as part and parcel of his job. ¬†So, when they asked for preferences and he asked for Friday as his one day off during the week he’d like to get, I was skeptical he’d get it, but…he did!! ¬†This change¬†effectively gives us about half the weekend together, as a family, each week. ¬†Since Craig won’t be working until 3:00 a.m. or even a graveyard shift on Friday nights, he will be up and about and able to help with the humongous amount of running around a Saturday requires for a family like ours (Ballet lesson at 9:00, Guitar lesson at 12:00, volleyball games, potentially Mass, birthday parties, etc. etc. etc.)

And, Craig is also training to run a marathon. ¬†I’m not sure which one he is training to run, but he wants to do it, so I am supportive. ¬†His new schedule should be helpful for his long runs.

Sarah — Entering 6th grade on the 15th, and her volleyball practices start Wednesday. ¬†I measured her last night after having her stand back-to-back with me and discovering she was to the top of my neck and she is 59 inches! ¬†I am not sure why that shocks me. ¬†I mean, she’s 11. ¬†But she has done some serious growing this summer. ¬†I have been tracking all the girls weights and heights every 3 months or so. ¬†July 29 was the last “weigh-in” date and Sarah had gained about 2 pounds in 3 months. ¬†I figured that was about right. ¬†But Saturday I noticed that Sarah looked different in a skirt she has worn all summer to Mass. ¬†And then I was observing her yesterday afternoon and I just thought, “Wow, she looks so different…” ¬†So I asked her to go weigh herself and let me know what it said. ¬†Do you know, that girl gained almost 4 pounds in a week? ¬†So, I’m not sure how much of her height happened this week, but that just blew me away. ¬†

Of course, along with physical changes come the emotional changes. ¬†Sarah really is a good girl. ¬†I fear that I react to that entire age group so much differently than she does. ¬†I find that certain things said (or not said) to Sarah by her peers make me sad/worrisome/angry and she doesn’t see it the same way I do. ¬†I’m not sure why that is. ¬†But this is my first trek into teenage-girl world with my daughters, and I’m learning as I go. ¬†I am definitely witnessing the generation gap. ¬†*sigh*

Now that Sarah has her iPod, I realize that I hardly get any pictures of her. ¬†Hmmm. ¬†need to fix that. ¬†But here’s one of her with her siblings and some cousins from this summer.

13 of the 18 Poliquin-side kids

Dani — Entering 3rd grade on the 15th. ¬†She has shot up this summer, too, though I didn’t measure her yesterday since she wasn’t feeling well. ¬†She seems to feel her physical growing pains a bit more accutely than Sarah. ¬†And, I think we have a little bug moving through the house as each of us has been a little bit “under the weather” recently. ¬†Dani gets to start learning volleyball this year and she is excited about that. ¬†Add that to the huge leap that occurs from 2nd to 3rd grade academically and the next few months will probably be big for her. ¬†Dani is getting better at swimming, too, as she progressed to the sessions where they start working on actual strokes.

Dani with her cousin that’s her age from SC

Helen — Entering 1st grade on the 15th. ¬†Just like the rest of the kids, she’s grown, but I haven’t checked her height (I think I was just so shocked at Sarah…) ¬†She is a reading fool! ¬†She really enjoyed The Magic Treehouse books this summer. ¬†She wears a skirt every day. ¬†I think it is because they are more comfortable for her. ¬†Most shorts and pants just don’t fit her body type too well right now. ¬†She began taking Classical Ballet last Saturday. ¬†She’ll have a class every Saturday with other 6-year-olds. ¬†She is very excited about it. She’s become a better swimmer all summer with her lessons. ¬†She was all over the pool like a fish last week when we went to hang out with some friends.

Ballerina Helen

Dominic — Entering preschool next week. ¬†He will get to go three full days a week. ¬†He is very excited about it. His favorite things to play with are his cars — specifically his Lightning McQueens (he has a few of them…ahem). ¬†He’s such a sweet little boy. ¬†One night he came to me with one of the girls’ Nintendo DS things and asked me if he could play with it. ¬†I told him to ask Dani (it looked like Dani’s). ¬†So I hear him go in the other room and ask Dani (very nicely…with “please” and everything). ¬†I hear Dani tell him that he can play with it. ¬†So as he is walking back toward the room I was in, I hear him say, “Dani, you are too good to me. ¬†Yeah, you are SO too good to me.” ¬†ūüôā

Future’s So Bright — He’s gotta wear shades

Vincent — is 13 months! ¬†Oh my. ¬†And he is walking all over the place now. ¬†He still has that funny gait where he kind of flings his feet out as he walks. ¬†Soooo. Cute. ¬†I walked in the door yesterday and he comes at me all feet flinging out with his arms up with the “pick-me-up now” grunts. ¬†Be still my heart.

Found a spot just for him — haha
My baby boy and me

I will begin a new role at my company this week. ¬†It’s exciting and scary all at the same time. ¬†Regardless of how scary it might be…there’s nothing to complain about with forward motion. ¬†I will tackle it with the same zeal I tackle other things in my life: ¬†Bring it on!

Have a great week!


Monday Mumbles – 19

You know, I think TOOJE needs to make a button for her mumbles.¬† Then all of us who participate every so often, could have something that would pop up in your little window and you’d say, “Ahhh!¬† It’s Mumbles time!!”¬† ūüôā¬† What do you think, TOOJE?????
1.¬† Dani’s team didn’t win the championship in their tournament.¬† It’s okay.¬† The other team was WAY aggressive and wasn’t really following the rules.¬† It’s supposed to be ONE-ON-ONE, not THREE-ON-ONE, but whatever.¬† Our girls played together, played as a team and were still positive after the game where the other team hacked/bullied/ganged-up-on them the whole game.¬† They played the consolation final the next day and did well.¬† I think Dani is just happy to have played and hopes to play again next year!
2.¬† Now, we are getting ready for Spring volleyball to start.¬† Sarah’s registered for “Semi-competitive” and I must say, I cannot wait to actually see how much she improves with someone else coaching her!¬† It’s really hard to coach your own kid (my opinion) and so I am excited to see what a different coach can motivate her to accomplish.¬† A couple of other girls from Sarah’s class are playing in the league, too.¬† Good for them (I think) to learn to play with other kids.
3.  Saw this in the paper Friday:

It reminded me immediately of Helen.
4.¬† Speaking of Helen…she turns 6 on Thursday.¬† Wow.
5.¬† I spent this weekend doing a lot of writing about my experiences with Natural Family Planning (NFP).¬† Rebecca at The Road Home and I are collaborating on a piece to run this week and we hope to get many other bloggers involved.¬† Keep an eye out!¬† We want your stories!¬† We are the 98%!¬† ūüôā
6.¬† Craig got a promotion recently at work.¬† Yay!¬† Actually, they offered him this promotion a year ago and he backed out at the last minute.¬† We had so much going on last year (that whole adding a member to our family thing) that it wasn’t a good time.¬† But then they offered it to him again and now it’s official!¬† I am very proud of him.¬† This means that his schedule is changed up a bit and he will be going into work at 3:00 p.m. in the afternoon a couple days a week.¬† It will be a new adventure of later-day daycare for the boys and after-school care for the girls.¬† New adventure of Mommy-better-leave-work-on-time-or-else, too.¬† Crazy.
7.¬† It’s a Pillow.¬† It’s a Pet.¬† It’s a Pillow-Pillow-Pet!
8.  This baby boy is almost 8 months old.  Crazy, I know.

9.¬† You know what’s crazier?¬† He’s scooting around and trying to crawl.¬† He mostly goes backwards, but it’s only a matter of time…methinks not very long actually…until he’s a roaming terror.

10.¬† Oh!¬† I don’t have to go to work today!¬† I like Monday-Off-Mumbles!¬† Have a great day!

If you like the Mumbles…and if you want to badger TOOJE into making a Mumbles button, go visit her and see what she’s got going on today.