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. 

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.  

Boys will be boys

I don’t usually like stereotypes when it comes to genders. However, sometimes my life feels like it’s what boy stereotypes are written by. We don’t play with a lot of “gentle” toys but each boy has their favorite sleeping stuffed animal. They play brothers all the time and that feels like a version of house. Except it’s always the episode where someone is racing or someone is a monster or bad guy. Close enough. 

I won’t say that they take advantage of me. Instead I’ll say I give them a little more freedom. I’m anxiously awaiting the independence phase so I tend to let them roam free a little more. That gets me in trouble sometimes though. Like last weekend when I told Bryan he was on nap duty once he got home from golfing. I gave strict instructions to be nice to each other and I sat outside in the sun. Bryan came home and asked me why they were coloring the house and each other. I was literally on the other side of the glass door. Those sneaky little boys! Needless to say, they had afternoon showers where Bryan managed to scrub Quinten’s name off his back…{I know! Where’s the picture!}

The next time I was home alone with them I sent them outside to play. It was a nice evening and they didn’t need to be inside. Five minutes later they came inside to put on swimming trunks. Whatever. Stay outside. I plopped in a Body Pump DVD and enjoyed 45 minutes of silence. Until I realized that they weren’t just playing in the rain water from last night. THEY WERE PAINTING THEMSELVES IN MUD. Whatever. Stay outside. I finished my workout and went out again to deal with it. And that’s when I found Quinten without any clothes on. Because that’s what boys do. They constantly take off their clothes. 

Our little boys of summer

The little boys of Leger Lane, like children everywhere, love the outdoors. When Maximus was 18-months old he used to sit at the sliding glass door and cry because it was winter and he couldn’t go outside. Quinten, at 2 1/2, is almost always out on the deck when it’s raining. Their love has no bounds.

Chasing a caterpillar into hiding

Chasing a caterpillar into hiding

EVERYONE in the house was excited once the weather got warmer this spring. Everyone. There are only so many toys you can play with in the house and chances are high that you will fight over a toy with your brother. Or maybe that’s just our house? 😉

Our favorite summer activities:

  • Play in the backyard – dig in the dirt and move dirt from one spot to the next
  • Play in the sprinkler
  • Go to the pool
  • Go to the park
  • Go for walks – ok, not Maximus’ favorite, but the rest of us like it!
  • Play baseball – not a surprise if you know my family! 🙂

Bryan and I have a shared favorite activity this summer – riding our bikes! It’s a little difficult to find time to ride together, but I’m excited that he shares my love of riding! I’d also put softball on my favorites list. It’s always been one of my favorites, but this year I’m having a lot more fun and enjoying it more than usual.


Lunchtime ride

Maximus put together a Summer Fun list, which I dictated. Later, he made me add go on a Vacation to China. “Have we been to China?” “No, we went to Minnesota.” “Oh yah, put that on the list, too.” Apparently Bryan’s work trips to China are nothing but fun and also the only place to buy Cars t-shirts. #priorities


2015 Summer Fun

We’ve gotten a good start on our Summer Fun list and are about half done, minus the China vacation. We’ve spent more hours outside than inside. We’ve missed bath night more times than I can count. Or rather, we’ve gone more nights without a bath than the number of times they’ve been clean this summer. The boys have gotten into a routine of wearing their clothes to bed {and don’t always put fresh clothes on the next day}. They fight bedtime because it’s very much still light out when they go to bed. And they wake up far earlier than anyone should because the sun comes out nice and early. We’re loving summer hard and giving it our all. Dirt under our fingernails, sand in our hair, new freckles on our faces, farmer tans on little arms, and skinned knees are the proof. We’re unanimously voting for 12 months of summer!

Listening skills: do they really have them?

Listening skills. We learn them at a young age. Now that I’m a parent, I’m not exactly sure what age that is. It feels like a pretty important detail when you’re in the trenches of Preschooler 1 and Toddler 2 facing daily struggles of listening.

I can only assume I say the following in my sleep:

  • Are you listening to me?
  • PLEASE listen to me.
  • Please look at my face.
  • What did I say?
  • PLEASE look at me, what did I just say to you?
  • Do you need to go to your room for not listening?
  • IF you don’t listen, I’m going to send you to your room.

We’re struggling hard with this one and I’m a little surprised that it doesn’t appear to have bounds with age. Most days it feels like both boys spend the same amount of time not listening and doing something mean to the other. When Maximus was 2 1/2, Quinten was just born. I don’t remember ever making a big deal about not listening or using as many words or time outs as we do with Quinten. Maybe this is one of those examples of the younger sibling growing up faster than the older one did. Crap. I think our vision is getting blurred in expectations of the boys because they are acting so similar. Age has gone out the window and we both reach the end of our patience for anyone not listening. Sorry, Quinten.  

You learn a lot about yourself as an individual and parent when you’re faced with these issues. I know our little humans don’t know what buttons to push or even that they can push buttons to get a reaction out of me. But it’s so very hard to try to get out of the house TO GET TO WORK and have ears not listening. Or whining because they don’t like the words you say. I try to give more “opportunities for improvement” when we don’t have somewhere to be, but it’s just as frustrating when I’m trying to make dinner or it’s time to get ready for bed.

I feel that one of the most exhausting parts of parenting is the constant repeating. When you constantly tell them the right thing to do and you aren’t sure you’re even getting through. Or, that they’re listening. I’d be ok if I knew I had to say something 100 times before they really had it. I’d still get tired of doing it, but I would know there’s a successful end to it. Right now, we’re trying certain methods but don’t get any positive feedback. Sometimes they listen and sometimes they don’t. Is that because of our approach? Is that because of their mood? Do they understand right from wrong? WHO KNOWS!

No one ever says parenting is easy, especially the early years. Honestly, it’s exhausting most days. Give me two energetic, hyper, not listening boys after a full day of juggling work. Well, I’m sure my patience is lower than it should be for a 2-year-old and 4-year-old. But, I’m sure they are tired too and not using their listening skills to the best of their ability. If only two grumpy people equaled a happy interaction!

I know my little humans are capable of listening, I see them do it consistently with other people. I think that’s the first part of successful parenting. It doesn’t matter what they act like at home, how do they act around other people?

How do you get your children to listen? I might need a new bag of tricks.

May Family Activity: Movie Night

We do a lot of family activities outside the home in the summer, so I thought I’d start a post of our favorite monthly family activities. Our favorite family activity for May was a special viewing of Big Hero 6. We don’t see a lot of movies, so we rented it the weekend before. The boys were mostly into it so it was a bit of a gamble for the actual event.

Getting out of town!

Getting out of town!

We went out for a family dinner and Maximus fell asleep 20 minutes before we got there. Bryan and I kept telling Quinten to talk quiet because Maximus was asleep.

No not. Max-mus no sweeping. Oh! Max-mus sweeping?

A child falling asleep in the car is kind of like throwing knifes in the dark. You never know what you’ll see when the lights come on. Other than carrying a 4-year-old for a block, he wasn’t a mess. As parents, we felt like we got lucky! It could have been an awful wakeup and transition. We ate at a new location of the place that was our go-to date night spot in college. It used to be a cozy sports bar and now it’s a classy sports bar with partitioned dining areas. WE WENT IN THE CHILDREN SECTION! How smart! There were three other babies in there and our kids weren’t the loud ones! That’s how family date nights should always go.

The movie viewing was supposed to be at the Iowa State University football stadium, but we had rain that day so they moved it to the basketball arena. We were all surprised to see our favorite mascot, Cy, standing outside the doors to the arena. We jumped in line while Maximus tried to wave at Cy. As the line started moving, he got a little concerned about what we were actually doing. 🙂 At this point, Quinten was buried in Bryan’s shoulder. I convinced Maximus that he and I could both take a picture with him.

Our first picture with Cy | MAY 16, 2015

Our first picture with Cy | MAY 16, 2015

I love that Maximus is holding up his finger. I didn’t know he was doing it until I looked at the very windblown pictures. The boys haven’t been to a basketball game yet, so they were pretty excited and Maximus kept saying we were going to watch a basketball game.

Family movie night at Hilton!

Family movie night at Hilton!



We got front row seats in the upper deck and didn’t have to worry about the boys kicking people in front of us. Another win in the family outing! Kids and seats don’t work when other people are in them. Especially when they constantly put their feet up and trade seats.



The family next to Bryan offered us some popcorn from the giant garbage bag. There’s one thing Leger Boys like and it’s popcorn. I got a couple of pieces from little hands, but wasn’t ever close enough to the container to grab much. I wasn’t sure if it was bought or handed out {they were handing it out when we left the building}, but Maximus walked right past Bryan and asked the guy for seconds. Kids. Maximus says that Quinten and I ate the second tub, but that’s only because we ate the last of it. Those two definitely ate a lot of popcorn that night! And I thought I’d have water to drink from, but after their first drink I wasn’t putting my mouth back on that backwash infected bottle. Kids can be so gross sometimes.

Car ride home

Car ride home

We made it through the whole movie, no one got scared, they played musical chairs, and we didn’t regret the family movie night. My kids can add a lot of excitement to public outings. Every successful outing helps us forget about one bad outing. {But every bad one makes us stay home twice as long before we venture out again.} It doesn’t hurt that at the end of the night they can sleep the entire way home. And, not throw fits when we change them into pajamas and put them to bed.

We’ll definitely do another movie night in Ames!

My kids are funny 

In my opinion, my kids are very funny! 🙂 

Maximus, while driving home. 

Look! There’s the nursery home!

A nursing home is across the street from our house. 

Quinten, while listening to Maximus ask for a sucker. 

NO! Two wait! No Max-mus. Two wait! 

Translation: too late. It was 5 pm. 

Quinten, every night before bed. 

No nap time. No dark out. 

Also every night. 

Sing me mommy. Sing wheels. Kitty. Doggy. 


I’ll be back mommy. I’ll be back in a Jimmy.

Maximus, while I was trying to redirect Quinten. 

You’re just trying to astract him.

My favorite Quintenisms,

No me whike. 

Too fits. 

Translation: I don’t like

Translation: Too small 


They may be learning different things, but they have the same sweet sleeping faces.