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. 

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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

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. 

Boys will be boys

Learning from my children

People always say having kids teaches you a lot about yourself and gives you a different perspective on life. I recently read an article about how mom’s shouldn’t be afraid to talk about kids in the workplace. How they should add parenting to their resumes. That makes sense to me. I am a big believer that having kids has taught me how to handle unpleasant situations and at times even handle employee situations better than I would have six years ago. I look at a tantrum at home and laugh to myself because my 5-year-old is facing the worst situation of his day, while I just dealt with some real stuff at work. While my brain doesn’t want to listen to a tantrum at home after a long day, it puts things into perspective. I see how important it is for me to help him learn how to deal with his problems. I see people throw tantrums in the workplace. Like, a tantrum that rivals my small child but includes lots of swearing while my child only screamed and stomped his feet. Most of the time this happens with someone who doesn’t have children. They only have themselves to take care of. They don’t see the bigger picture in life. They still get to be selfish and act like a small child who isn’t getting what they want.

My kids aren’t just showing me commonalities between the workplace and home, they are also teaching me about myself. It’s not easy for me to open myself up and show my weaknesses. Somewhere along my lifetime I got the mindset that I need to handle whatever is thrown my way. I don’t need to ask for help, I just need to get it done. I don’t feel like I’m stubborn. I don’t know that it makes a difference why I’m stubborn. But I don’t realize I do it. I’ve taken on a lot of stress in my work life and the outsider perspective is that it’s because of my stubbornness. I can kind of see it, but I still struggle with it. How is doing my job because it’s what is asked of me being stubborn? Shouldn’t that just make me a good worker? Is it because I sacrifice myself to do the job? Meaning, I’ll take the world on my shoulders and not burden anyone else.

Trying to discipline my 3-year-old has taught me a lot about myself. And it’s not all things that I wanted to learn. I have a short fuse when it comes to not listening. I’m trying to figure out how to deal with that because I spend a good portion of my day asking why no one in this house will listen to me. Seriously? Why can’t anyone do what I say?! Example…the other night I watched the boys walk towards the stairs and Quinten had a glass full of water. I knew what was about to happen. I yelled from across the kitchen, “DO NOT DUMP THAT GLASS OF WATER DOWN THE STAIRS!” At this point, I can’t remember if he even looked at me. It doesn’t matter. He looks at me all the time and does exactly what I told him not to do. He dumped a glass of water down the stairs. Who does that?! Obviously the next thing he did was go down the stairs like a slip ‘n slide. OBVIOUSLY. He was at the bottom of the stairs by the time I made it across the kitchen. {Ask Amanda, she was just as stunned. Welcome to my life.} Then I had to make the choice of putting him in timeout and cleaning up the mess myself or sacrificing an entire roll of paper towels so they could clean it up themselves. I picked the roll of paper towels and went back to my glass of wine. {That’s probably when I gave myself a refill.}

Twenty minutes later Maximus came running into the kitchen yelling about the huge mess that was in the bathroom. A sink full of toilet paper, water on full force, bubbles everywhere, and water all over the place. Why can’t I enjoy a couple of glasses of wine with my friend?!  After I cleaned that mess up and put them to bed, she asked how I wasn’t drinking bottles of wine every night. I don’t know. I really don’t know. More girl nights will help me survive these two!

It is so frustrating to discipline a child who gets worked up even more when you get mad. I don’t know how to not get mad that he’s not listening to me and be calm when I tell him he’s not acting very nice. This is when I realize that we are a lot alike. Both of us extremely angry and both wanting to be the alpha. So I take the wins as they come, sometimes it’s winning a day and other times it’s one disagreement out of many. 

Learning from my children

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?

Saying goodbye to naptimes

Life is always changing, especially with small children in the house. I still remember the realization {and sadness} that one of my children was dropping his nap. It was a rough transition for me. That was MY time and then he was invading it, loudly. In an effort to make sure the little one slept, we let Maximus stay in the living room. {One too many ruined naps because he couldn’t be quiet.} 

MY time used to be anything I wanted it to be…naps, catching up on shows, eating junk food…ok those were about the only things I used to do. But it was glorious! Now that time looks a lot different. We recently implemented iPad WITH HEADPHONES. It’s a lifesaver for me. Maximus can watch Axel and Family Fun as much as he wants and I can have quiet time. It’s a big improvement over annoying cartoons. 

By the time naptime comes around I am ready for a break. My heels usually hurt from spending the morning going and standing in my kitchen. {I know, poor weak office worker. It’s really a thing.}  

BRB. Quinten just woke up. A two-hour nap is pretty amazing lately. He is a SIGHT. Blonde hair going EVERY direction. And now the iPad volume is back. But I didn’t even have to remind him to let his brother watch, which is a miracle in itself. We’re struggling with sharing and including our brother in things. Huh. Peppa Pig Santa. Ok then. 

While we seem to have figured out Maximus’ naptime, I haven’t quite figured it out for me. I could clean, workout, do laundry, read, write, or go grocery shopping. I’m not good at getting up early on weekends so I almost always need to get my workout in. Almost everything feels like a job or responsibility and when naptime comes around I just don’t wanna. Grocery shopping is the least ideal one because then I get zero rest all day. {Whoops, sounding like I can’t function without resting.} And cleaning sounds like the most adulting thing to do. Honestly, I usually am already doing laundry. I sit down on the couch to let it finish, the couch swallows me up, and I listen in annoyance as the dryer continuously fluffs as if it’s taunting me to get the clothes before they wrinkle. 

I make a lot of poor choices during naptime, but sometimes I have enough energy left to do a Body Pump workout. Mostly, I social media for an hour or so. {It’s 2016, it’s a verb now.} When I decide to close my eyes, an alarm must sound in Quinten’s room because he comes stumbling out shortly after. And then I’m annoyed again and feeling all sorts of helpless and poor me-like. 

What are you doing during quiet or nap time? 

While on Christmas break, naptimes have been between 1-3 hours. Once we get back into a routine, I expect him to drop down to an hour. It’s like these kids like to constantly make me adjust and change with them! Why can’t they realize that naps are awesome and that we should all do them for 2-4 hours every day?! So now I really need to use my time wisely. I think I’ll focus on writing and reading. Things I can do while being lazy and drinking lattes on the couch. I think that will be my creative focus for 2016. More reading and writing. Less adulting? Just kidding, more efficient adulting so I can enjoy my quiet time without being a lazy couch monster. 

  

Saying goodbye to naptimes

22 steps to a successful grocery store trip with a three-year-old

It’s really simple to spend an hour and half at the grocery store and only leave with 28 items. It can be accomplished in 22 easy steps.

Step 1: Document the experience for Snappers around the world with a caption, “Lord help me at the grocery store with this guy.”

  
Step 2: Opt for the obnoxious cart to buy yourself a little more time. Convincing the toddler that the red fire truck is WAY better than pushing his own cart. {Lifesaving tip right here, folks.}

Step 3: Get yourself a soy latte, you’ll need something to comfort you. This is a bit of a risk because you’ll spend the precious calm minutes ordering and waiting on your drink. But the crazy is inevitable and I always feel better when I can grab a drink, think, and then respond to the madness.

  
Step 4: Let the toddler help fill the produce bags and count when you put them in. This is a risky move because of the potential for said toddler to ruin your food. In this outing, he may have “softly” banged the apples on the bottom of the cart. I think I got him stopped before he did any damage. We’ll know later when we want to eat them…

Step 5: Stand around and watch the water spray the produce. Three or four times. This was a major time suck, but I was nervous about pulling him away too soon for fear of loud screaming. This is where Step 3 comes in handy. Text your husband, take pictures, and enjoy your latte.

  
Step 6: Bribe him with a free cookie to get moving.

Step 7: Stop to see “The Robs” on the way to the free cookie. Also known as the lobster display. Here’s another opportunity to text your husband and enjoy your latte. Almost making it an enjoyable experience.

Step 8: Bribe him with a free cookie to get moving and stop to look at all the birthday cakes along the way. Then ask him five times if he’s sure he doesn’t want a cookie. I’m still in disbelief that he passed up a cookie, but I was well prepared to have to go back across the entire store when he wanted one later. {It didn’t happen.}

Step 9: Let him move from sitting behind the wheel to sitting in the top tray of the cart. Whatever. After making sure that the weight could hold him, I gave him strict instructions to sit down and not stand up. And then I had to stop the cart every aisle while he pulled groceries from the bottom cart to play with. At this point I should tell you that I had been strategically putting all the groceries in the bottom cart, as far away from him as possible. That could have enticed him to move out of the seat in the first place.

Step 10: Threaten to put him in time-out when we get home if he doesn’t stop ruining the groceries. Tell him he cannot stand up and if he does either of those again he will sit where he’s supposed to. {Also where I’ve been putting the meat and boxes because he’s sitting in my second storage location.}

Step 11: Tell him we need to hurry and finish shopping so we can see daddy and Maximus. {Also how I got him out of the house. “Let’s go so we can be home when they get home!”}

Step 12: Threaten to tell daddy he wasn’t being nice when we were shopping. Of course do the threatening after picking up his coat off the floor, grabbing the aluminum foil from a different aisle, and pulling the ziplock bags out from under his smashing body.

Step 13: Try to distract him with a flying bird in the store. Not the best move because he missed it.

Step 14: Help him get back into the sitting part of the cart. HALLELUAH!

  
Step 15: Try to distract him with a beeping sound. Worked for a while as he tried to guess what it was.

Step 16: Agree to go into the cold room {wine & spirits} to see if that’s where the beeping sound is coming from. But only after we get all of our stuff. Use this as a threat in case he doesn’t behave while we grab the last of our 28 items.

Step 17: Go into the wine & spirits section and drive around the aisles. Then text your husband to tell him you aren’t buying beer because there’s no safe place to put it in the cart.

Step 18: Pick the checkout aisle he wants to go in to prevent a meltdown. Hand him some non-breakable items so he can help put them on the belt. Pull items off the belt when he starts to scream so he can “help.”

  
Step 19: Ask him once if he wants a coat on and let him keep it off while telling him he’s going to be super cold and say brrr when we get outside. Walk outside the door and stop so he can experience the cold. Then ask him again if he’d like a coat. Take a couple of pictures to document his craziness.

  
Step 20: Put him in the back of the car so he can put the bags in the car.

Step 21: Tell him he needs to get into his seat before I count to three otherwise he can’t watch his Polar Express movie.

Step 22: Sit in your seat, turn up the movie, and drink the rest of your latte.

  
There you have it, 22 easy steps to buying 28 items in an hour and half with a three-year-old helper at the grocery store! One other word of advice, always park the cart in the middle of the aisle when you stop. This prevents your toddler from grabbing things off the shelf. It may be annoying to others, but it’s for the good of the store and patrons. Trust me. No one wants to listen to a three-year-old scream when you take things out of his hand and no one wants to see flying food.

22 steps to a successful grocery store trip with a three-year-old