Leger Band 

The Leger Band has been around for a few years. It’s no surprise given the talent my husband has. {Proud wife moment.} It’s one of the rare activities that is mostly fight-free. Although we do have some fighting over specific drums or sticks. But, compared to all other activities this one is the most “together” they can get. 

I love it almost all times they break out in music. {Unless I have a headache, of course.} I love it enough that I might allow some real instruments when we finish our basement. But, until then they’re doing ok with the plastic stuff. 

https://vimeo.com/126652212

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It’s not always easy

It’s been one of those days. It ended with Quinten spitting on my sweatshirt when I put him to bed. That’s a pretty accurate summary of his day. Some days can be such a challenge. Or maybe those days when you’re the only parent are really the ones that are challenging. Yesterday was A Day in itself. A super tired preschooler gave us both flashbacks to his 2-year-old days. So many tears at so many random things. We all thought today had to be better after a full night of sleep. It kind of was, except during the night Maximus lost all of his listening skills. All of them. I can’t count how many times I repeated myself today. Or how many times I said, “please use listening ears. Mommy doesn’t want to yell or repeat herself. Please listen.” I can count how many times Quinten was in time-out…three. And how many times I found him on the deck, going down the stairs, or in the grass…three. By the way, it was cold and rainy all day. Not a good day to play outside, even though we all wish it were.

Sometimes at the end of a long day, happy meals are the only answer. In an effort to feed them before they got hangry {hungry + angry}, I stopped on the way home and used it as a distraction. It’s a little out of character for me and maybe the second time I’ve been involved in them getting happy meals. It did result in a couple of cute brother moments, but only because Maximus didn’t complain {this time} about Quinten sharing his chair. I also didn’t have to threaten to put Quinten in his highchair during that meal! Maximus was also pretty nice when he offered the rest of his sandwich to Quinten {who had been asking for more sandwich.} Unfortunately, it didn’t buy me as much quiet and togetherness time as I’d hoped. In fact, it resulted in one of the Quinten escapes into the grass.

I know there’s a learning experience all kinds of character building in the 2-year-old and 4-year-old ages, but some days it’s hard to make it through a day without raised voices. Not that they help any. It doesn’t seem to matter if I talk quiet or loud or repeat myself many times, those little ears are not into listening right now. So I take the Starbucks as they come, try to sneak in a couple of minutes of reading, and be calmer the next time I’m repeating myself for a second and third time.

These moments help

 

Letter ‘A’

The school year is almost over and we’ve had a lot of fun with preschool. We love our preschool and Maximus is so excited to go every school day. 

The month of March we worked on a project to turn in book strips every time we read a book. The class was trying to create a chain around the entire classroom. Maximus took that project very seriously. And it’s about the cutest thing I’ve seen. They decided they were so close they extended it a bit longer. So we’ve been writing down our books again and Maximus has been more interested in books than cartoons. {hallelujah!}

This week he got to bring home a special project. Items in our house that start with the letter ‘A’. He started kind of slow just coming up with words that started with ‘a’. Apple made the first list. I convinced him we should look around the house and we came up with more items than I thought we’d find. {You try finding specifics toys.} He got excited and spent 45 minutes walking through the house sounding out everything he saw and telling me what letter it started with. It was my favorite proud parent moment of the week! 

What we found:

  • Alligator clips
  • Astronaut (X2)
  • Astronaut car
  • Ambulance
  • A puzzle piece
  • Apple puzzle piece
  • Ace playing card
  • Airplane

Maximus vetoed my food items saying that he couldn’t take real food. Guess I’ll keep my apple, applesauce, and almonds. 

I think I’ll hold on to this idea and use it on one of those rainy days. 

Making it through the first day back

We all made it through the first working / school day / daycare day of 2015. Or at least I think we did. And that’s despite what we tried to make an early bedtime last night. It never works on the 4-year-old. He threw a fit about turning off cartoons, then about me not doing something else, then because I plugged his night lights in, and then because he didn’t want to go to bed. It was exhausting and Bryan high-fived me when I came out. “Nailed it!” We need humor to survive.

Maximus was super excited to go back to school. No specific reason, just excited. For maybe the first time ever, he greeted one of his teachers without me prompting him. This is a great social improvement for him! He was yawning on the way to daycare this afternoon and stretched before he got out of the car. Always a good sign of a great school day!

I really have no idea how Quinten did. It’s 50-50 with that one. I talk to everyone about their day but I’m never sure if he’s telling me stories or the truth. Today he told me, “Time out. G tell me no.” Both of those things are very likely. They are things we do many times a day. I asked what he did, “Umm. Ummm.” He eventually told me he hit. And Maximus told me he was talking during nap time. Both are real possibilities.

I’m happy to report that I made my 5 am workout {in my living room}. I was pretty skeptical of myself given my history of back-to-work insomnia. All morning long I was on an exercise high and so glad I got up!

I brought in an egg bake for my team in what I called, “welcome back, I hope today isn’t as awful as you anticipated.” 😃 I also brought my healthy snacks and lunch so I wouldn’t have to be outside longer than possible during preschool pickup. Despite having a pretty bad sinus migraine all day, I got a lot accomplished on my first day back. {Like booking a flight to Florida for Saturday. Hello, procrastinator.}

After the boys went to bed, I pushed myself through the headache fog and made my lunch for tomorrow. {While answering at least four questions from the 4-year-old that comes up with at least one exercise per night to come back out. Two times tonight.} I’m pretty glad I planned out my lunches this week. It was a lot easier to read my sheet instead of using that painful head to think. I think I’ll incorporate that into my weekly meaning planning. I know, rock science over here.

Hope you had a good first day back to work or, if you’ve been back already, first Monday after the holidays.

Out with the Toddler Bed, In with the Big Bed

I can’t think of anything left to signify Maximus growing out of toddlerhood and into the big kid zone. His toddler bed was still adequate, but was itching to get him into a big bed. I had visions of laying next to him and reading him a story, or just snuggling. 🙂 One of those visions I’ve had since I was pregnant with him. For Christmas, we bought him a transportation sheet set from Pottery Barn Kids that isn’t online anymore and a red quilt. We told him we’d convert his bed to a big huge bed. “What’s a convertible?” Heh, I love the words he hears.

As with most projects, all hands were needed to assist in the disassembly. Although, only one extra set were actually doing anything. Before they could get to work, Maximus had to pick up his room. Read: throw everything into his closet. His brother quickly joined in and helped clear the space of all those legos that.are.always.on.the.floor.

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I used the opportunity to vacuum under those furniture places. When asked why I was vacuuming again {I did it earlier this week}, I told him a little secret that I hope most households follow. “We don’t move the furniture when we vacuum… By the way, did you know you had so many plastic balls under your dresser?”

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Maximus is pretty good at screwing or unscrewing things, so he got right to work on his “job.” Quinten helped by putting the screws into a bucket {after he got in trouble for taking them out and putting them in his mouth}.

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When you have multiple helpers, things go a little slower. However, teaching and doing projects with little hands is a rewarding, yet frustrating process. Somehow it all equals out and the boys have a lot of fun. We took a few breaks for visitors, lunch, nap time, a trip to Menards, and supper. Luckily, I had enough time to remember that I needed to wash the sheets. Since it was laundry day, it worked out well in my brain. {No more laundry for a week! Er, maybe I better wash our sheets and another load of kid clothes. CRAP! It never ends!}

Maximus and Bryan helped me make the bed and I got ready to take a picture. Maximus wanted the picture to be perfect so he crawled under his covers. His smiled alone made me so happy we’d done it! I said, “Thank you daddy for putting together Maximus’ big boy bed.” Maximus quickly followed with, “Yes, thank you daddy and me for putting together my new bed!” Heh.

First time in his big bed!

First time in his big bed!

I gave him an extra pillow from our room and he told me it was for when he had a friend stay over. “He can use that one.” While Maximus and I were grabbing pillows and blankets, Quinten was also bringing in random pillows and blankets for Maximus. You can see that he put a Cyclone pillow on the edge of the bed as he watched Maximus test out the new setup. Maximus quickly invited his brother in and asked me to take another picture, but not until Quinten was under the covers. By the way, Quinten stayed there for at least ten minutes. I was pretty sure he was going to throw a fit when he went to bed. He did, but he never mentioned wanting to be in Maximus’ bed.

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My first thought … tonight when Quinten wakes up 78 times, I’m putting him in Maximus’ bed. He’d probably sleep. Last night, after he’d been up five times, we tried putting him in our bed at midnight. Forty-five minutes later he was kicking me in the head and was still wide awake. Tonight he’s armed with cough medicine and we’re crossing all things that cross in hopes that he sleeps. If not, best of luck Maximus.

With his new bed came a new room arrangement. I thought it might bother him because he likes his door wide open, the bathroom light on, and a couple of night-lights in his room. Now, he’s across the room from the door so the night-lights are different and he asked me to shut his door. He has an extra puppy in his bed for “when a friend sleeps over” and he decided to sleep on the pillow closest to the wall. He came out of his room right away to tell me we forgot to put his new slippers on, but otherwise we haven’t heard a peep from him. I might have thought a little longer if I knew this new bed was going to bring another level of independence! And now we have to be sneaky about checking on him since his door is shut…

Traumatizing Our Child with Santa

Now that the craziness of Christmas is over, I have time to share our Santa experiences. The boys had many this season. Thankfully, we worked on our wish list early. Maximus and I took it very seriously, he told me what to write down and we put it up on the fridge. The awesome thing about four? His list didn’t change! And he always remembered what it was when people asked him. 🙂 {Plus, it was a reasonable list!}

We went to breakfast with Santa at our church {also Maximus’ preschool}. We walked right in and got our pictures taken with Saint Nicholas. One of Maximus’ teacher was helping and as soon as she saw Quinten, she suggested we do a family picture.

Good call, Miss D. Good call.

Good call, Miss D. Good call.

It turns out that a family picture was a very good idea. He wasn’t happy about it, but a grumpy kid is better than the alternative. Maximus didn’t get to talk to this Santa, but he was happy to get a picture taken.

Next up was the daycare Christmas party. Each kid buys for another kid and she gives them each a gift also. {We obviously give her gifts also. I mean, she’s dealing with The Naughty One. Ahem.} We talked about the Christmas party and Maximus told us what to buy for one of his friends. That’s also the cool thing about four! He told us what the kid said he wanted. 🙂 I didn’t mention that Santa would be there, even though I knew he would. The pictures we got were exactly what I expected. Maximus told Santa he wanted a combine. And, well, Quinten probably just told Santa NOOOO!

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Maximus (4 1/2)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Quinten (2), Maximus (4 1/2)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quinten wasn’t traumatized enough to talk about it when he got home, so I guess it was just an unhappy moment. Heh. That poor man who was trying to hold on to that wiggling child. I have a hard time holding on to him when he’s throwing a fit.

Our next experience was full on planned out. We wanted to have a family Santa experience. Maximus got a little confused about what to tell Santa because he’d already asked for a combine, but he decided he’d ask this Santa for a tractor. We struggled a little deciding where we were going to go so we had to explain why some Santa’s were busy and why there were other Santa’s we could go find. He decided that there were many Santa’s helping because there were lots of places they could live. {I love four-year-old logic about homes. Our pediatrician also “lives” at his work.} We eventually made our way to Ames, a Santa that Maximus had seen before. We pulled up right as Santa was walking into Jimmy John’s to grab a drink. I held Maximus as his mouth dropped open and he just stared. He whispered, “Santa’s in Jimmy Johns. Why?” Well, we soon found out that he was going to feed the reindeer and would be back in an hour. AN HOUR! What the heck do you do with two children in a mall for an hour?! We had one final gift to get and made a cookie stop. What better thing to do during nap time?

Cookie monster

A happy cookie monster. No sharing for us.

When Santa came back, we got in line with the rest of the families. Bryan tried to talk Quinten up and they looked at Santa. I heard Quinten say, “No lap.” Heh. Guess he didn’t want to talk to Santa. I asked Quinten what he wanted from Santa, “Truck. Car. Tractor.” Spoiler alert: he asked for none of those things.

As the two-year-old handbook says, “Thou shall not make nice with the scary Santa man.”

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Maximus hopped up on his lap before I could even stow the stroller. He was talking away when I came in close. He asked for a tractor. “What kind of tractor?” “A green one. A John Deere one.” {Because the 8 that we already have aren’t enough.} Then, Bryan put Quinten on his lap and the above happened immediately. I told the girl not to worry about getting a smile. And we picked the best cry face picture! 😉 While Maximus smiled away and didn’t pay any attention to his brother.

Also in the handbook, “Thou shall always say thank you when Santa hands you a coloring book.” Yep. He screamed at the jolly man and did the slow sob when Bryan picked him up. {You know, the deep breath, skip a breath, and hiccup thing.} Santa handed each boy a coloring book and Quinten quietly said, “Thank you” between sobs. Manners unlocked.

Quinten fell asleep within five minutes in the car, but it was 3:30 so he was a little tired. We drove the slow way home and enjoyed driving through our college town and seeing what had changed. Maximus eventually crashed also and we headed home. Santa visits completed with a picture that is a pretty accurate depiction of our life right now. Maximus trying to look like the “good one” while his brother wails next to him. Ah, four and two may be the most challenging combination we’ve experienced.

My face. Bryan's thumb. Sleeping boys!

My face. Bryan’s thumb. Sleeping boys!

 

 

7 tips to surviving the holiday vacation with small children

Christmas break has begun! Two weeks of pure Christmas bliss. Er, something like that. I expect happiness and tears. Lots of both to be exact. {Maybe from small people and big people!} Here’s how we plan on surviving.

  1. Schedules. Following our normal nap time and bedtime schedules. This is a pretty important key to survival. We can’t create new routines, because it’ll be ridiculous to break that routine when it’s time to go back to work and school. They say it takes 21 days to make a routine habit. For kids it’s accelerated. It takes once. ONE TIME.
  2. Naps. This is more of a parental wish than a way to survive. Apparently four-year-olds only take naps at daycare, so we’ll see how we do with this. We both know it’s the core element of survival, but we’re going to have to be creative about convincing him to do it. And don’t suggest “quiet time.” We’ve been rocking that label for a long time and it doesn’t feel quiet or relaxing. Every two minutes he’s in the living room asking if he can get up yet and promising that he closed his eyes and slept.
  3. Patience. This is just as much for us as it is for them. Neither of them have a lot of patience for the other. When you’re two you don’t have a lot of understanding about sharing and patience. Patience for other humans or patience for toys that just.won’t.go{and stay}.together. The same is true for the four-year-old, except it’s more about having patience with us. He doesn’t understand that we can’t always do something right.this.minute.
  4. Fun. Hopefully Maximus will end a few of the days by saying “we did something fun today!” We’re a little over the phase that we aren’t ever doing anything fun. It turns out there’s a pretty high bar set for four-year-olds. And when we don’t go do something fun, hopefully we have fun around the house. It’s pretty easy to make a four-year-old and two-year-old laugh. We need to remember to do that more. There’s a lot of {little people} fighting and crying in our house so it gets pretty tense and non-fun.
  5. Plans.  We need to have a plan for each day. We may have a few lazy days here and there, but the key to making it through the next two weeks – plans and entertainment. I know we’d both like to accomplish some projects around the house so we feel like we used the “downtime” to get some things done that we wouldn’t normally have time to do. It’s just as much about setting reasonable expectations. We have two extra “helpers” who make things take twice as long.
  6. Us time. We’d both like to start the new year by having some adult time. Going to a movie or out to eat. Being parents is the most draining thing I’ve ever done and it never ends. {It’s the best and worst mixed together!} A few hours away can be so refreshing and uplifting for the spirit.
  7. Exercise and healthy eating. I’ve spent the past few months trying really hard to incorporate exercise into my daily routine. It’s pretty crucial for the next two weeks. We could easily lose our exercise routines and fall into a rhythm of not working out. Since we’ll be off our normal schedules, we may not feel as active as we are during a regular week. With the holiday treats, I want to try to stick close to our clean eating plan. I know there will be lots of sweets, but I hope there are lots of vegetables also! Maybe I’ll even decide to do a freezer day and pre-cook some meals to help future me out a little!

We are so blessed to have time off between Christmas and New Years. We were fortunate this year to have some vacation days to use up so that means extra time spent with our little guys. The days are long but weeks are short. My hope is that this plan will help us soak up every happy minute and keep the tears at bay a little longer.

How are you going to stay sane this holiday break?