Today, I met with my illustrator about the first story in my children's book series. (I've finished three stories so far.)

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Today, the sun shone gorgeously, and the temps got up to almost sixty.

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Today, my four-year-old, Liberty Grace decided it would be smart to cut a patch out of the back of my hair with a pair of scissors.

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Today, I earned my mother-of-the-year award -- both of my daughters are still living.

(Barely.)
It was late Sunday evening when I heard the crash, followed by shrieking wails from the girls' room. I jumped up from my facebook session so quickly that I knocked my chair over in the process. When I arrived at the girls' bedroom door, I found two little sisters standing there. Liberty had her arm wrapped protectively around her sister, and Mercy's large tear drops had created two rivers down her cheeks. Mercy looked up at me, sniffed in one last sob, and quavered bravely, "I'm okay, Mommy. I just hurt my back a little bit."


I didn't respond. My brain was too busy fitting puzzle pieces together. How did Mercy arrive at the door? I looked over at the crib and verified that the crib rails were all up and intact. Did she climb out? I looked again. She must have climbed out. In mild disbelief, I looked her over for injuries, kissed away her tears, tucked her back into her bed and very firmly informed her that she was NOT allowed to get out of bed without Mommy or Daddy's help; if she chose to get out by herself, there would be consequences.

Sitting at the computer once again, my mind had a chance to catch up, and I realized it was way past time for Mercy to begin climbing out. She is two and a half years old! Liberty climbed out very shortly after her first birthday. I continued working at the dining room table, until a slight noise caused me to turn to my left. Two big blue eyes stared solemnly at me from a few feet away in the kitchen. She was trying out her innocent look on me.

It didn't work.

She received her consequence, wailed to let me know that she didn't approve, got kissed and tucked back into bed, and the same stern warning administered. "Night-night, Sissy-girl. I love you."

"I love you, too, Mommy. I'll stay in my bed until you help me out in the morning, okay?"

"Okay, Honey. Great decision!"

I think I had been back at the computer about ten minutes when I heard the bedroom door creak as it opened, and the whisper of two little girls who haven't quite gotten the concept of whispering reached my ears.

Liberty: "It's okay, Mommy's gone. Let's go out into the hallway."
Mercy: "Okay, she's gone. You go first."
Liberty: "See? I'm out here. It's okay. Come here, Mercy."
Mercy: "Let's go to the kitchen, Grace!"
Liberty: "Okay, but be very quiet! You don't want Mommy to hear us."

I waited with a grin on my face (ready to be tucked away when necessary) as the girls crept very slowly down the hall and around the corner. I waited until they were far enough from their bedroom door that the sudden sight of me could not realistically send them scampering to their beds. Then I stood up.

Mercy froze and her little hands popped up horizontally on either side of her body as they always do when she is unsure of her next move. Liberty recovered quickly and jumped up shouting, "I have to go potty, Mommy!" She took off for the bathroom, knowing that that is the only reason she is allowed out of bed after tuck-in. Mercy watched her sister's flashing legs with an abrupt turn of her head, and then quickly turned back to examine my face. Not even a full second of time had passed. Around her bedtime pacifier she shouted, "I have to go potty, Mommy! Have to go potty!" and she took off like a rocket.

I almost laughed out loud. Mercy is not potty trained. We've been trying, oh yes, but she has informed me on a regular basis that she does not like to potty in the toilet or the potty chair. She does not want to be a big girl. She does not want candy or stickers or hugs. She would much rather potty in her diaper like she has always done. She has actually told me this; I am not joking with you.

I let her run, figuring I'd catch up with her in the bathroom where she would refuse to pull her diaper down or sit on the toilet. But when I could finally see into the little room, I witnessed an unusual sight. Liberty sat on the big toilet, and Mercy sat on the potty chair facing her with her diaper down around her ankles, the two of them happily singing away. I pondered for a few moments and then decided not to ruin the first good experience Mercy has had with the potty chair.

I sat back down at the computer and waited for my songsters to give up their charade. It took a long time. Finally, Liberty requested her bottom wiped (my favorite part of motherhood), and Mercy told me, "I goed potty, Mommy! Wipe my bottom, please!" I walked back into the bathroom fully expecting to find Mercy dancing around, but lo and behold, she was right! She DID go potty!

I gasped, "Mercy? Did you do this all by yourself?" I pointed at the puddle in the potty chair. She nodded proudly. "Wow! You went potty?! This is great, Mercy Jane!" I gave her a giant hug, picked her up into the air and swung her around for fun. I thought about giving her a piece of candy for finally going potty, but it was after bedtime. AND she had not really gotten out to go potty, that was just a lucky break for her. I decided a big hug and not getting a consequence for deliberately sneaking out of her room would be enough of a reward for pottying this time.

The next morning, we dismantled her crib and turned it into a big girl bed. I have some really cute pictures and a video, but I can't figure out how to get them off my phone.
Liberty has been discussing the growth of her toenails with me randomly for the past several days. Today, at lunch, she stated in her BIG IDEA voice, "Mommy! I know! I can ask God to make my toenails stop growing and stay the same for always! Right, Mommy?!"

"Well, that's right, you can ask God for that, but He wants your toenails to keep growing."

"Why?"

"Because He made you that way, and He knows it is best for your toenails to keep growing and for us to keep clipping them."

"But how does God know that is best? I don't think that is really best."

"Because He is way super smart. He is so much smarter than we are, and He knows that it is good for us to have toenails that keep growing."

Liberty pondered this while she munched on her sandwich. After two seconds of silence, she asked, "Mommy? What was your name when you were a little tiny baby?"

"My name was Melissa Jane." I thought about my verb tense as I said it but decided to roll with it.

"Ohhh," Liberty nodded knowingly. "How little were you when you were Mehwisha Jane?"

"Well, I was so little, that Grandpa, my daddy, could hold me in only one arm, like this." I demonstrated.

Mercy looked up from her plate, "Mommy? Your daddy could hold you like this?" She pantomimed holding a newborn in her arms. When I nodded, she said, "That's very little."

"Yes."

"But Mommy," Liberty wanted to know, "how come I never saw you when you were that little?"

"Because you weren't born yet."

"Why wasn't I born yet?"

While I paused to figure out the answer to that question, Mercy piped up with wonder in her voice, "Mommy! When I take my turkey out of my bread, I still have mayonnaise on my sandwich!" By the tone of her voice, this obviously was a Great Discovery.

"Wow!" I responded, matching her excitement.

"Mommy? Where you this little when Grandpa could hold you with one arm?" Liberty indicated the size of a pea with her index finger and thumb. I thought about telling her I was that little when I was inside Grandma's tummy, but held back, not wanting to answer all of the questions that would undoubtedly ensue from that bit of info.

Instead, I laughed, "Noooo!"

"How about this big?" her fingers indicated a golf ball now.

"Nooo! Babies are usually this big when they are first born, not any smaller than that." I used my hands to outline a preemie.

Mercy disagreed, "Team Umizoomi is this big, Mommy," she pointed out.

"You're right, Sissy, but Team Umizoomi is pretend. Real people are usually this big when they are babies."

"Mommy!" Liberty shouted with sudden inspiration, "I want to watch Diego when I'm done with my lunch!"

I thought about it. Since every Wednesday we have English Class (letter recognition and writing), Cooking Class (we made smoothies and smoothie pops today) and Cleaning/Health Class (they took a bath - systematically cleaning themselves, and then cleaned their bathroom - systematically following a list of items to be cleaned and learning why cleaning themselves and the things around them is important)... Anyway, since every Wednesday we have English Class, I told them they could watch an episode of Super Why which teaches them to recognize the alphabet.

"I want to watch Dora!" Mercy exclaimed.

"Sorry, Sissy, not today."

"That's because Dora is pretend," Liberty explained to her little sister.

"Yeah, and Diego is pretend, too," Mercy shot back.

"Super Why is pretend, too," I inserted, and they both looked at me in amazement.

Then Liberty's face lit up, "That's why they're this little, Mommy!" She showed me with her fingers how tall they were, and I couldn't hold it in. I laughed, and we all started laughing together.

"Mommy," Liberty told me in a thoughtful voice, "I'm glad you're not Bewhissa Jane anymore. I'm really glad your name is Mommy."