The Eve of Another Year

To all the wonderful, passionate, and loving people who put themselves in positions to teach, protect, and love our children…well, summer has been extra good this year. 

Like, maybe my sweaty boys stayed up too late riding bikes and fighting crime on the culdasac and we were lucky to get one shower a week. But we spent a lot of time at the pool and that’s about the same, I think. This summer we got rid of one set of training wheels and are on our way to another set. We mastered swimming without a floatie for one and putting our head under to swim for two. It looked like it was a lot of fun and games, but we were learning and growing. 

Maybe bedtimes pushed back later and later because no one can sleep when the sun is still up. Plus, there was all that crime to fight, stars to look at, and the occasional plot to sneak out at midnight to have sleepovers. I swear, no escape plans ever worked. Those kids slept like the dead, once they gave up on asking 7 million questions and getting out of bed 102 times. Every night. 

I promise that we’ll be on time {ish} now that summer is over. And I’m sorry to the summer crew who watched us walk in every day at 8:12 {probably actually 8:16}, but thank you for saving their favorites even though breakfast was over at 8:15. I’m confident that we’ll get our act together. By Christmas. But also, thank you for keeping it to yourselves on the days that it was obvious I hadn’t showered yet either. I promise that will only be a summer thing. 

My most sincere apologies for their clothing. We haven’t mastered the perfect stain fighter solution and boys are messy. I think 50% of the time they are wearing clean clothes, unless it’s the same outfit from yesterday. Not that it has happened more than twice a week for a certain four-year-old. It’s really hard to tell what clothes are clean or dirty since none of them make it to drawers or laundry baskets. I have tried to instill the idea that they at least change their underwear every couple days. 50% success rate might be a little lofty…A regular shower schedule should bring those odds up to 100%. Well, except for a particular four-year-old taking a head dive in the shower requiring five stitches. {A little too dramatic for a bedtime stall or shower boycott…} 

We might need to work on general hygiene as we work back up to 14 teeth brushing events per week. Don’t judge. Something has to give when it’s 9:30pm and PLEASE.JUST.GO.TO.BED or it’s 8:00am and FOR.THE.LOVE! no we don’t have time to do anything besides walk directly to the car! 

Don’t worry, I bought a $10 planner from Target to get me into the scheduling spirit again. I promise to stay current and advance the months in a timely fashion. I’m looking at you April and May. Boy did I boycott any form of organization in June. Just remember, I’m always a social media post or text away. 

There aren’t any fancy chalkboards or homemade anything, we’re winging the first day of 1st grade and we’ll wing 4-year-old preschool next week. We try to focus more on the moments than the stuff. {But-also I’m 0% crafty.} I can’t promise they’ll look put together, but I can promise they are both worth every bit of love and teaching you give them. Both in their own special way. They’ll bend and grow with you as everyone adjusts to sitting still and remembering how to use listening ears and raising hands before yelling out words. {I am very much looking forward to you getting them back into respectful human status!} 

To all those protecting and teaching our youth, good luck and thank you. And to all the parents, good luck with the shock of another school year. To the special ones teaching my boys, if you let them in they’ll love you forever! And when they love you, they give the best hugs. 

Advertisements
The Eve of Another Year

My least favorite parenting duty: potty training

Warning: This is not a post that will help you potty train a child.

No, really. Just because we successfully brought one kid to the proper age of schooling does not mean we know how to raise the other. This a post that will tell you how I spent a weekend trying very hard to convince a very stubborn child to use the toilet.

Here are my tips for potty training:

  1. Stock up on the essentials.
  2. Clear your schedule.
  3. Give them lots of fluids.
  4. Sit on the toilet A LOT.
  5. Give them treats.

Real life:

  1. Nailed it. Stocked up on all the essentials. Even put all the underwear in a cute little bucket. Had the washing machine ready, too.
  2. Three days of no reason to leave the house. Check! That worked until day one evening when he wanted nothing but to leave our house. We bribed him all night long and finally left our house at 8:45pm to get supper because trickles of pee came out!
  3. Day one: He refused to drink more than sips because it would make him pee. {This is when I knew he 1. is very capable of using a toilet,  2. was going to be more stubborn than I thought, and 3. fight me until the death.}
  4. Day one: he willingly sat every time I asked. Day two: he refused to sit on any toilet in our house because he did it yesterday and doesn’t want to do it every day.
  5. YOU CAN HAVE ALL OF YOUR HALLOWEEN CANDY IF YOU JUST PEE IN THE TOILET! Here, have three pieces of candy if you’ll just sit on the toilet. Here, have three pieces of candy because I know you have to pee really bad and you “want to go to bed.”

I did have a few wins during the three-day endeavor. Like telling a story about his older brother wearing underwear when he was little and then we guessed which pair were his favorites. {I totally made up a favorite, because he was engaged in a story with me and I had a chance of getting him into underwear.}

My second win was when he asked to go play outside. Within three minutes, I had surpassed a HUGE hurdle and had gotten him into underwear. When I asked how he liked them, he said, “these are comfy!” It seems his previous experiences in underwear may have been a bit dramatic. Or maybe the underwear were no longer laced with acid that burned the skin when worn…

I suppose I would count his first accident as another win. He held the pee in for 3 1/2 hours and didn’t like it when he was covered in pee. That’s a win, right?! So then he held the pee in until 8:30 that night. That’s a stubborn child. He sat down every hour and refused to ever pee. Super stubborn.

Have you ever seen a three-year-old pace the house because he has to pee so bad? We hadn’t either, but it’s pretty funny. Us: “What are you doing?” Him: “Nothing. Just doing this.” Us: “Why? Do you have to go potty?” Him: “No.” Sure. 

Have you ever had a three-year-old ask if it’s time for bed? We hadn’t either. It appears the King of Bedtime Stalling wanted to go to bed at 6:30 one night. Why you ask? Obviously because he had to pee and wanted a pull-up. Here’s where parenting can be fun! All of a sudden we’re willing to let him stay up later, because eventually that pee has to come out. That backfired on me. Literally. He was pretty bouncy {to stop the pee from coming out, obviously} and when he went still I got concerned. Rightfully so as I felt my hand get warm. Yup, he totally peed on me when we were sitting on the couch.

It’s basically a rinse and repeat every time we’re at home. He goes into underwear and holds the pee in. It’s beyond me why I thought that weekend was the magic weekend. He has clearly decided he’s not going to do it yet. I’ll take the wins when I can at this point…and wearing underwear is one of them! Plus, I don’t have the anxiety of a fresh three-year-old mom. He’ll be four in a few weeks and that means he has a bladder of steel that holds up for hours and hours.

Step 1: Stock up on the “essentials”

*Disclaimer: please, no potty training tips. Only tips on favorite stress relief after a LOOOONG day of parenting.  

My least favorite parenting duty: potty training

Reflections of Kindergarten

We’re starting our fourth week of Kindergarten and I’m feeling like we’re in a good rhythm. With my new job, our morning routine is more relaxed and we basically gained thirty minutes. That means the people in our house who need more sleep {me + children}, get a little extra each day and none of us are as rushed as we used to be. We still have a few areas of improvement – I need to find my new workout groove and Quinten needs to work on his focus while getting himself in the carseat. {Have you seen the meme about being late because a toddler had to buckle himself in? That’s my life.}

While it’s only a month in, we’ve already learned a lot about having a kindergartener.

  1. Recess. Turns out our very first year of school is also the year when the answer to every question is “good,” “nothing,” and “recess.” What we’ve gathered is that recess is spent playing superheros with his buddies. His favorite parts of the day are playing with his friends who aren’t in his class. Luckily, recess happens. Before school started, we had a mini-meltdown because not all the boys were in his class and he was VERY concerned that the other classes would have Batman toys and his wouldn’t. So, recess. With superhero friends. Whew.
  2. They don’t let kindergarteners take home library books the first two weeks. It turns out, week three is the magic number. Every week he told me the next week he would get to take a book home. I hope I always remember the sheer excitement and look in his eyes after his first media day when he told me his school had a LIBRARY! And he got to pick out his own book to look at so he picked a Star Wars book. 🙂
  3. One of the areas he’s grown the most in lately is dealing with unexpected or unknown things. We don’t always know the details of his day and he’s been ok with us telling him that. I tell him to see what it’s like that day and tell me when we get home. He accepts it really easily and has a good time telling me about it later. And then he knows for next time! I was nervous about him not dealing well with the unknown, but he’s been doing a really good job of adapting.
  4. This summer I panicked about how he would know how to get food. Thankfully, I was still logical in my thinking and decided that he would have to eat school lunch for a while until it became a routine for him. Some days I look at the food and know he probably won’t like it or I wouldn’t even like it, but he’s been a champ and talks about eating some of everything he gets. And he alternates between white, chocolate, and strawberry milk during lunch. He obviously thinks that’s pretty cool!
  5. He knows where he’s supposed to go! On his second day, when I was worried about us not being with him, he knew exactly where he was supposed to go at drop off. And was rather disappointed that he and his two friends got a special car ride to school for the first week. He wanted to be with the big kids in the van with the daycare logo on it. It wasn’t enough that he got picked up in it, he wanted dropped off. Well, now he’s officially in the van and I kind of wish they had a dashboard camera because I’m sure that van is ridiculous with a bunch of elementary kids in there!
  6. Emotions are heightened. In general, we try not to make a big deal about crying. In our house, it’s ok if boys cry and we never make it a big deal. HOWEVER! We do spend a lot of time asking little boys to take a deep breath and talk about what is wrong. Not that crying is bad, but we can’t help if we don’t know what is going on. {Side note, kids cry a lot.} Since the beginning of August, right after he turned six, we’ve noticed a lot more outbursts when something doesn’t go his way.
  7. It’s hard to keep up with all the things going on in school! Not that I want last minute information, but it’s hard when we get a bunch of stuff that all has different due dates. We don’t have a good organization / office situation at home so it makes it a little more difficult to stay up on everything happening. Thankfully we get reminder texts and stickers that come home on the kids the day before something happens.

It’s still weird talking about having a kindergartener, but he’s rocking it and we’re all figuring it out as we go.


 

Reflections of Kindergarten

On the eve of the first day of Kindergarten

Bless the hearts of children and parents everywhere. 

We had back-to-school night on Monday. Or in our case, first time IN the school night. Or in Bryan’s case, nerd out remembering where all of his classes used to be and what is “new” since he’s been gone. 

I’m still shocked that when the teacher introduced herself to Maximus, he looked her in the eyes and told her his name. In the sweetest, kind of quiet, and definitely shaky voice. If I hadn’t been holding the heaviest 3-year-old, I would have melted into a puddle. It was the sweetest thing and helped reassure me that he’s going to be fine. 

And I suppose I’ll be fine, too. Other than the random panic about how he’s going to figure out lunch or remembering how shy I was, I’m doing ok with it. He has a lot of friends going to his school and a few in his classroom, so he’s not alone. 

Plus, HE INTRODUCED HIMSELF TO HIS TEACHER. Without any prompting from us. That was one of those proud parent moments that I won’t forget. That’s also why I let my kids answer questions for themselves when adults ask questions. It teaches them good life skills! 

We spent about 20 minutes talking about tomorrow. All the super cool stuff that he’s going to do, who’s taking him where, and how it’s ok that he’s not great at math…yet. Yup, that happened. “But mommy, I’m not great at math. Is math when you, like, add numbers together? Like 10 plus 10?” So Bryan asks him what the answer is and he laughs while he tells us it’s 20. Ok. So maybe you’re kind of ok at math? He did ask me once if I could just stay for his first day. I told him I already had my first day of Kindergarten so I couldn’t. And the teacher will spend tomorrow telling him all the things they’ll do every day. (He’s only there with 1/3 of his class tomorrow and everyone on Friday.)

He picked out his first day clothes…typical Leger boy apparel…and will be sporting a new highlighter yellow dry-fit shirt and black mesh shorts. I don’t blame his comfort level goals. Luckily he still favors jeans over any other sport pant so I’ll keep holding on to hope of a nicer dress code this fall. 😉 

I know Maximus is going to love school. He’s always enjoyed preschool and cares so much about details and why things work. It’s going to be an exciting year for him! 

Bless all the teachers, but especially those who help care for our littlest learners as they adjust to new environments and routines. 

On the eve of the first day of Kindergarten

The terrible threes…or the way of life?

I’m writing this from just above the trenches. Or that’s what it feels like. We were in the trenches of non-listening for so long that it feels like a freaking vacation right now. Sitting on my couch, with a dog next to me, sunshine coming through the windows, loud hammering in the basement, music that is barely audible downstairs, the slider open, and voices traveling in the house. {Note: this paragraph was written a few weeks ago. It’s gloomy outside and was pretty crappy inside for most of the morning. We turned a corner though and everyone is playing with planes. Shhh….don’t make any sudden movements.}

“Maximus, I’m going to use this digger.”

He’s always talking. Except for when he first wakes up or when he crawls in bed during the middle of the night with a blanket and whatever stuffed animals he can grab on his way out of his room. Not a single word, just grunting as he climbs up on my bed and snuggles right into me on to me and my pillow. Otherwise, he says all the words. Last night he carried on a conversation with me about how the dog smelled like poop and was going to poop on him while they sat on the couch. Five minutes before that, he told me how much he liked Wrigley and wanted to sit next to him. I can’t keep up with the nonsense that he talks about! 🙂

We seemed to have turned a corner in disciplining or understanding or stubbornness. Whatever it is, I’m not even afraid to talk about it. Because, for all I know it’s just a tease and I might need some reassurance that peace actually happened.

We hear Quinten ask for toys before taking them from Maximus. And we hear Maximus give them before telling or hitting. It feels like a miracle happened around here. THEY CAN PLAY WITH EACH OTHER NOW….sometimes.

Here’s a blip into what it’s like to live with Quinten. Rapid-fire nonstop talking without waiting for me to say anything. And then he simply walked away to see if he could check someone else’s ear.

mommy, these are my monies.
mommy, these are all my quarter monies.
mommy, these are all my treasures.
mommy, look at all my money treasures. 
these are all my treasures. 
all my treasures.
mommy, can I check your ears?
{As he climbs up on the couch next to me} mommy, can I have some space?
mommy, when I check your ears I give you some of my quarters.
yup, no yucky things? 
mommy, here are your monies.
mommy, i’m the doctor today.

He’s the most lovable thing in our house but has the stubbornness and willpower of all of us combined. He’s hot one day and cold the next. In all his three-year-old glory, I have to remind myself that most of his actions are fueled by his age. The rest, his personality. Some we can control and the other we have to try to contain. It’s a balance that leaves us exhausted and worn down most days.

I’m not wishing away the years, but I might not be so quick to deny that I’m not wishing away this phase. It’s hard. Like really hard. Teaching a really stubborn, not always gentle, child to be a good person is work. I’m not naive, I know raising this free-spirited child isn’t going to be easy but I’m hoping I’m a little better prepared or able to handle him as he gets older. Something about trying to engrain values and good person characteristics is making it really hard to teach and discipline. Most days it feels like he doesn’t get it at all and he’s just in trouble for being mean to his brother. I’m not the only one who considers just letting them duke it out, right?? My dad has some pretty crazy stories, but everyone survived.

The terrible threes…or the way of life?

Independent activities for children are hard on mama hearts

Sitting in a loud, echoey pool watching a little in swimming lessons is a mix of relaxation and anxiety. Two very opposite emotions. 

I have one child who is timid and nervous if he can’t touch the bottom. {I kinda don’t blame him.} And another who appears to have little fear. I’m constantly in awe of the different personalities these two possess. 

Teacher swimming lessons feels like a level up in parenting. Trusting someone to care for your child while they are in water that goes over their head. It’s different than the leap I felt leaving them at preschool in the care of strangers surrounded by strange children. At preschool you know they are safe and constantly busy. At swimming, I feel a strong need to be the one to watch my child at all times. No one else is watching him the entire class. 

Seeing 15 young kids in the pool while their faces barely stay above water and they are constantly told to swim across a giant pool. All the anxiety. They make it look so hard. All the huffing and puffing and holding of breath. My anxiety is on full alert during swimming. 

  
At the same time, my kid spends 75% of the time sitting on steps or holding on to the side of the pool waiting for the next instruction. So it’s kind of relaxing. To sit there and just be in the quiet. Well, unless I have a smaller child to tame. Then it’s the opposite of relaxing because I have to make sure TWO kids don’t drown. 

The relaxation is my reward for the busy that comes next. Swimming that overlaps the start of soccer skills class. Oh, that was an exciting four weeks of busy Saturday mornings! I’m still patting myself on the back for picking overlapping activities instead of swimming at 8:30 am on a Saturday. I’m not built for that

It amazes me that a child can be SO excited for something like soccer and then show up and not do anything. Because he doesn’t want to run. Or because he’s too busy talking to his friends. 

Children activities are such a big dose of humble pie. Things that are second nature to a grown person are not close to being coordinated things for children. I know age 5 is too young to determine what a child is “good” at but it also makes me fast forward and wonder what activities he’ll focus on in the future. And when I’ll know what activities to drop. I don’t want to overextend ourselves and especially not him, but I also want him to have the opportunities to try many things and enjoy what he wants. 

Parenting is such a strange mix of emotions, especially when your children start doing independent activities. I know I’m just hitting the surface of independance, but I’m a mom of a 5- and 3-year-old, so I’m new to these emotions! 

Independent activities for children are hard on mama hearts

My battle with migraines

“The cabin doors are closing, lets update our Facebook status one last time and send that text and tweet so we can get going.” – I do love a social savvy flight attendant! Something about humor that connects with my soul before signing off for the flight.  

As I left my house in the bitter cold early one Saturday morning, I couldn’t help but reflect on the past week. Heck, the past month. It’s been hard. Like, physically hard. I’ve had only a few instances like this in my life. Breaking my foot, getting E.Coli after a work trip, and the worst ever recovery from the stomach flu that left me not eating for a month. I’ve battled migraines since my teens. I began to worry that I was changing my status from random migraines to chronic suffering.

After my second 2-day migraine in under a week and 8th total in a month, I got myself in to see a doctor. She deemed me the proud owner of a sinus infection and put me on antibiotics for 14 days. I really liked her. She wanted to attack whatever was wrecking havoc in my face first and at the same time work on my sinuses and get the migraines taken care of. After learning that I should be able to pop my own ears, she decided I had some things not working to relieve the pressures of my sinuses. At that point, a guess of why I get migraines is like winning the lottery, even if it ends up being wrong. With some exercises to do and specific nasal spray to use, she sent me on my way with instructions that I should taste the spray when I use it. It’s not the most ideal and honestly, I try not to taste it when I take it. I’ve been taking it for a year straight because I thought it was helping my migraines but in no way have I been taking it so well that I’ve been tasting it. So 1/2 a point for me for taking the right thing, just really poor execution. That’s what I get for trying to self-fix. But if any of you suffer from migraines, you know how difficult it is to control or diagnosis. So you do what you can to continue on with a semi-normal life.

I was in an absolutely awful form of hell. No joke. Worse than when I was on bed rest for 6 weeks with a broken foot. But maybe not worse than The Stomach Pains of 2015. Those where pretty excruciating and left me not able to find the right fetal position to make them stop. I was like a caged animal. But the past month has left me unable to function 8 to 9 times. Some days I had to push through some activity or work to get to a place where I could crawl into bed with a heating pad and cold meds. I learned with the first one in December that cold & flu meds plus a heating pad had me almost good in just a couple of hours. That trick soon stopped working {much like any other self-medication I’ve found for migraines over the years, it always stops working eventually} and I was trying a combination of sinus related cocktails. Decongestants, cold & flu, nasal spray, allergy meds, and ibuprofen, water, and lattes for the caffeine. Sometimes {ok, every migraine day} going through all of them. On the other days I was popping cold & flu and decongestants to dull the headache. The strange thing is that I never had cold symptoms. I guess my sinuses are just cool like that.

As I was sitting on the plane last weekend, my ears basically popped for the first 40 minutes. I was incredibly grateful they were popping. I was kind of concerned, but never have a problem with my ears popping on a plane so I figured I’d be fine. I had a number of people concerned the plane would make it worse. I figured I had already experienced some really shitty days, so I’d just be dealing with it in a public place. Nothing I hadn’t done before. Hopefully the forced pressure changes helped me in the long run.

The physical hardships I’ve gone through have been enough to shake me up. I pick myself back up pretty quickly, I always do, but it’s been pretty hard mentally as well. When I get random migraines I experience a lot of mommy and wife guilt. Nine times out of ten, I get myself through the work day and pick up a kid. I get home and because it’s a little bit quieter {for short bursts of time}, my brain has space to realize how much my head hurts. And I give in. Rarely do I retreat to my dark bedroom, even though almost always do I want to. I usually set up on the couch, sometimes even closing my eyes for a bit and falling asleep for a few minutes at a time. Migraines don’t work around my schedule, they show up unannounced and always unwanted. I feel less guilt when my husband has plans for the evening. I crash on the couch until he leaves and then make it through to bedtime. Sometimes the boys watch way too many cartoons and other times I haul myself into the bathroom so they can take a bath before extended cartoons. It’s a crappy feeling to sit on the couch while chaos ensues around you and you do nothing.

Only a mommy guilt brain can make you feel worse when your spouse is home with you. I should feel better that he’s home and can pick up the slack while I try to take care of me. Instead, I feel worse that he HAS to pick up the slack and feel like everything he does is full of disdain and annoyance towards me. Every timeout he has to initiate, every meal he has to put together, every dish he puts away and counter he cleans, and the bedtime routine that all of a sudden becomes a solo act. Nevermind that most nights he handles the kitchen cleanup. Something about having a migraine makes me feel guilty for him doing something he does most nights.

I hate that my kids have spent countless breathes asking me if my head hurts. Or that after returning from a week-long trip, Quinten tells me after my head stops hurting we’ll do something. I’m at the end of my 14-day meds and it’s been a number of days since my last headache, but the last thing he remembers is me spending an entire evening and not going to work because I was in so much pain. I wish my kids didn’t know a life of chronic pain.

For all of you who suffer from some form of chronic pain, mental or physical, try to give yourself a break. Don’t put added pressure on yourself. It really is ok to just take care of you and make you better. Do what I say, not what I do! But I can tell you that sometimes when you have a migraine on a work trip and you’re stuck on Bourbon Street, you can take enough ibuprofen that it will eventually go away while you go from bar to bar with live music. You’ll eventually walk out onto the street and realize it’s gone! Making you feel like you’ve unlocked a special level in the world of migraines.

My battle with migraines