seeing double

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When Everett received his helmet, we were given a list of strict instructions. One of which was that he needed to wear it 23 hours a day. The one-hour reprieve was reserved for bath time and cleaning the helmet. Basically, one hour to scrub the stench out.

On occasion, kids need a second helmet. The explanation from one of the technicians was parents tend to get “sloppy” about having their child wear it 23 hours a day, leaving extra time for their head to grow outside the perimeters of the helmet.

Insurance covered Everett’s helmet the first time – hallelujah! – and we didn’t want to take our chances a second time. So, we were a smidge obsessive compulsive about him wearing it.

Despite no sleep the first two and a half weeks in it, he still wore it. With the fussiness and discomfort, he wore it. When we spent a week at the beach, we made that hour off work as best we could, and he wore it. Even though that helmet made his head smell like a high school locker room, he wore it.

Most days, Everett doesn’t even have it off for the full hour. We were going all in, and we wanted it to work.

And, it has. His head looks phenomenal compared to what it was eight weeks ago. It definitely looks less alien and more Gerber baby. The initial plan was for him to wear it for four plus months. At his appointment on Monday, we were told he has three weeks.

Before you release the confetti and balloons in celebration, she didn’t mean his treatment was over in three weeks. He will have outgrown his helmet in three weeks. We found this out the same day I received Everett’s adorable watermelon costume for Halloween in the mail. We may have to rethink that one.

On a rare occasion, kids need a second helmet because their heads grow faster than expected, even when there is extreme diligence in wearing it. Not completely surprising since both my boys are in the lower percentiles for weight and height, but take the top percentiles for their head size. Big heads… Wonder who they get that from…

Insurance is not quite so kind this time around, as we basically maxed out our allowance in the helmet previously. Now, we are left with a decision to make, Round two or call it quits. And, we also have to question whether a second helmet will make a substantial difference in the treatable time he has left. I could really use a crystal ball right about now.

Little boy, I’m afraid you may have spent your entire college tuition this first year of life 😉

diapers for life

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We’re stuck. Stuck in potty land with nothing to show for it. Austin has officially revolted against the potty at home and school. Last week, he even refused to set foot in the bathroom during school. Needless to say, we’ve taken a few steps – or, ridiculously large leaps – backward.

What we are dealing with is downright defiance, and, to be honest, I’m lost. I have no clue what to do.

We’ve tried several suggested methods. We’ve tried to force it, and we’ve tried to be relaxed about it. We made a potty chart with stickers and prizes. We still bribe with M&Ms and bite-sized candy bars. He has big boy undies and several potty options to sit on. He runs around butt naked daily. We cheer and praise and have only stopped short of throwing him a potty parade… which is not totally out of the question. Who has the number for a reputable Grand Marshall?

Our latest trial came off the recommendation of a couple friends: the Potty Watch. You set it to play a song every 30, 60 or 90 minutes. When it plays, Austin is supposed to sit on the potty. We set it for every 30 minutes to start. Even after bedtime, I could still hear the tune mocking me in my head.

He was fairly excited about his new watch, but he didn’t want to wear it. So, I did. You won’t find that trend in InStyle magazine. It didn’t take long or many public outings before he decided he no longer wanted to share. Thank goodness. He began wearing it everywhere, and, at first, wanted to sit on the potty when it played the song. Several successes later, he dumped the watch.

Suddenly, I found him trying to silence the watch every time it sounded. Or, as soon as it went off, he would quickly pee in his pants and let me know he no longer needed to sit on the potty. Fantastic. We still sat him on the potty after those stunts, but it usually resulted in flailing legs, tears and being sent to his room. And, then back to the potty and repeat.

I’m beginning to think Austin and Everett will be potty trained at the same time. Remember when I mentioned paying someone a million dollars to potty train this kid? Yeah. That’s starting to sound like a realistic plan. Donations can be accepted through PayPal to help fund Austin’s potty training 😉

Or, we’ll just plan to purchase diapers for life. I suppose there’s always Depends.

waiting on that rainy day

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I love cold, rainy days when there’s nowhere to go, nothing to do, and no one to see.

We spend a bit of the day in bed, snuggled beneath the covers, cartoons in the background, toddler feet in our faces, a bubbly baby rolling between us, and laughter to fill the room.

These are the sweet moments that I lock away in my heart. For a time, there is no fighting, no crying and no whining. Just smiles and giggles and precious whispers between us. Just our family of four.

How fleeting these moments seem as we have mile-long to do lists, a rowdy three-year-old to chase and a finicky infant to please. It’s not easy to push that list to the back of my mind. More than ever, I feel our family runs on efficiency, making the best use of our time. Fewer time for snuggles and lounging and just being.

When I think about how we interpret what is best, we focus on laundry, cleaning, work, errands, bills, and so much more. Today was our first cold, rainy day of fall. We spent it not relaxing, but, instead, running a garage sale and cleaning house. As I recap the day, I feel regret. Wishing we had made time for those special moments I cherish. Wishing there had been less time spent on edge and frustration and more jokes and enjoyment.

It’s a hard line to walk between feeling productive and trying to snag those moments with our kids. But, we run, run, run all week. So, what if we take a breather from all that running, and move snuggles, playing with our children and laughing to the front of that list? Sure, the laundry would pile up more than ever. The house would truly be a disaster. There would be less running over work. And, I would have to find a way to condense the dozens of errands.

But, being together, loving together, laughing together seems to be the best use of our time. Period. Everything else should have to wait.

When that next cold, rainy day arrives, you’ll know where to find me.

one thousand loads of laundry

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In a time before animal cracker crumbs were a staple in our bed, before 7 a.m. was sleeping in, and a clean house lasted more than 15 minutes, I spent my spare time doing things other than laundry.

In fact, I actually enjoyed laundry. Laundry day was once a week, and on that day, one or two loads were accomplished. And, that was all that was needed. I would turn on the television and frivolously flip through channels as I lazily folded each piece of clothing.

Fast forward to reality where I am routinely six feet under piles of laundry, and folding clothes is a race against two ticking time bombs. Forget putting it away. Grab and go as necessary, which is why my home is often dotted with miniature shirts, socks and undies. Currently, I do three – sometimes four – loads a day. Let’s look at that for a minute.

Before children, we’ll say two loads of laundry a week. That’s roughly 8-9 loads a month and approximately 104 loads a year.

After children, we’ll play conservative and say three loads a day. That’s 21 for the week, and a grand total of 1,092 loads of laundry a year. Uh. Wow. And, I only have two children.

If this trend continues, we still have approximately 18 years before our youngest moves out. Multiply that number by 18. Nauseating.

Now, I’m hopeful it won’t always be like this. Right now, Everett is a spitter. Not a dainty dribbler, but a full impact soaker. When he spits, he leaves a wave of destruction on anything within a three-foot radius. You can hear the splat across the room. Ew. We clean out our arsenal of bibs and burp cloths every single day. I hear by one year, we should be done with the spit. Fingers crossed.

As for Austin, well, I wash a lot of Lightning McQueen and Thomas the Train undies – and, sheets. Yay for potty training…

I’m beginning to think the stereotypical “smelly kid” label might not be so bad after all.

Looking back, maybe I should have registered for stock in Tide or Dreft, as opposed to a million different socks, blankets and lotions that have all been used once.

Perhaps, it’s time to visit my nemesis, Pinterest, and see how many ways I can make my own laundry detergent. Brilliant. I’ll just squeeze that into my schedule between 1,092 loads of laundry.

potty fail

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This afternoon, when I asked Austin if he would like to sit on the potty, I received a glare. Then, in total silence, he carries his potty into the office, sets it down, and closes the door – him on one side, the potty on the other. He shakes his head without making eye contact and scurries away.

So, obviously, it’s going really well. ::smacks head::

Things began amazing with Austin. There were few accidents. He wanted to sit on the potty, and he loved the rewards. We went all out with intense enthusiasm and praise, not to mention the M&Ms and prizes from the dollar store.

But, a few days in, and he’s decided he is so over the potty.

Apparently, he is still doing well at school the couple times a week that he attends. But, at home, he has decided to boycott the potty… again. I’m not sure what changed, other than my child’s incredible stubbornness in the first place. I’m not sure where he gets that trait…

Now, when I encourage him to sit on the potty, he throws a tantrum – an over the top, kicking and screaming, mommy is going to rip her hair out kind of fit. The thing is he hates diaper changes, too. I really think he would be content walking around in a diaper for the rest of his life. Try to get a girlfriend in those, Austin. We usually put him in regular underwear at home, and when he wets himself, it doesn’t even seem to bother him. He could care less if he is soaked.

Since he can’t be bothered by wet diapers, wet undies or even going commando, where does that leave us? In a pile of pee, I guess.

Time to re-strategize. Score Austin 1,347, Mommy and Daddy 0. But, the final score will be Mommy and Daddy WIN. You will be potty trained, son. Just you wait.

i’d rather eat my foot

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Every morning and every evening, we select one jar of baby food, open it, and then promptly throw it in the trash. At least, that’s how it feels.

Everett detests solids. Over a three month period, we’ve tried four or five different brands, different consistencies, real food, and even puffs – you know, sugar air – but, always we are met with pursed lips, overly dramatic grimaces, gags and spitting. On the rare occasion, he will actually down a small jar of sweet potatoes or squash. It has to be orange. Odd. But, even those “favorites” are often met with the same distaste.

It’s baffling to me honestly. That child will stick everything under the sun in his mouth and gnaw at it – a cooking utensil, our fingers, a shoe, our phones, Austin’s toys, or a personal favorite, the foot. But, the moment we slip in a bite of actual food, it is not up to his standards. You know, his high standards of feet and shoes.

It’s difficult not to compare our own children, but Austin was an eater. Breakfast, lunch and dinner, he loved his meals. You had to keep your fingers to yourself during mealtime less you lose one to that chomper. It took him a while to learn the concept of sharing one’s food.

And, thus, we are left with the question of whether Everett is just ridiculously picky, a late bloomer, or if he has an aversion, which apparently is common in kiddos with medical issues off the bat. Feeding evaluation should be scheduled for next week.

Maybe he just wants a cheeseburger.

drowning in icing

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Another year. Another birthday. Another party.

I get a little too excited about my kids’ birthday parties. But, by the end, that excitement turns into a stress mess and nothing ends quite how I envisioned.

Today, I find myself at Michael’s – the 12th store on my places to go for birthday supplies. I’ve gathered the basics, but Pinterest always makes me feel one step… or, 10 steps… behind. I should try for more.

I went in searching for race car-themed cupcake decor because I was having trouble finding exactly what I wanted. There are 50 million different shades and designs of pink and purple, but boy themes are in short supply. Thankfully, I located the perfect cupcake liners quickly, but, then, I saw the cakes. There was a car-shaped cake tin. How much would Austin LOVE this? It would be adorable. I could decorate the cars AND do cupcakes. Sugar overload, but who cares? I could just imagine how impressive this whole setup could be. I was going to rock this party.

I stand in line, attempting to keep one child from breaking every single glass vase lining the walkway and the other from nose diving from the basket seat. Finally, we are next, and I lug the basket to the counter where I quickly remove the items. Then, I stop.

There I am, drowning in $30 worth of specialty icing and a couple car-shaped tins, along with other party “necessities” and various craft projects that most likely will never be accomplished. That’s about the time reality slapped me in the face. What am I thinking?

Why do I turn every birthday party into a circus and stress myself? This is a party. It’s supposed to be fun. We are not celebrating me or my crafts or how many Pinterest projects I can cram into a party.

We are celebrating my son – my sweet, loving little boy. Another year of life that the Lord has blessed us with. Another year of laughter, tears, hugs and kisses. We are celebrating Austin. And, to be honest, he doesn’t care about a single thing that I’m doing for his party except for the fact that there will be friends, there will be cars and there will be chocolate. And, that is enough.

That is enough. It’s hard to wrap my head around that thought. We try so hard to make sure our children have the best of everything. But, some things, like birthday parties, really don’t matter. So, maybe if I step back and take a lesson from my three-year-old, it could save me from a few gray hairs down the road. Instead of stressing over logistics and decorations, I’m going to try to let it go and just enjoy. Get ready. It’s time to party like a three-year-old.

i am raising a ninja

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We moved Austin into a big boy bed almost a year ago in preparation for Everett’s arrival. It was a difficult transition, but he adapted. Since then, we had been using a baby gate to keep Austin from roaming at night.

About three weeks ago, we ditched the gate. And, I miss it.

Of course I worry about him tumbling down the stairs in the middle of the night. But, he has mastered the stairs, and, to some extent, I have let go of that concern. And, I worry about the mischief he could potentially accomplish in the dead of the night. But, honestly, what makes me miss that gate the most is my own fear factor.

Walking into a room after the children have gone to bed only to find a small person standing, silently staring at you is creepy. Beyond creepy. It has actually caused me to literally jump. He has become quite stealthy at sneaking out of bed. Sometimes it is to play, and other times, well, I can’t figure out why. Occasionally, he will watch us from the catwalk, unknowing that he is there until I glance up, fall to the ground out of sheer surprise and nearly have a heart attack.

I admit that I have seen far too many horror movies. Growing up, my best friend LOVED scary movies. Adored them. I hated them. But, guess what? We watched them – over and over and over again. I’m quite certain that any horror movie made before 1999, I have seen… against my will. Since then, I can count the number of those movies I’ve seen on one hand… okay, maybe two fingers. Those story lines are engrained in my brain. I can barely watch CSI without having nightmares.

In fact, several weeks ago, the hubs was out of town on business, and I was home with the kids. About 10:30 at night, I was lying in bed, when I heard a noise – a LOUD noise – followed shortly by several lighter noises. Obviously, someone was in my house. There could be no other option. So, what did I do? I called my neighbor… who came over with a bat. And, we proceeded to search my house, room by room, opening closets, looking under beds and behind the curtains for the bogie man. Surprise, surprise, nothing turned up. But, I was able to sleep much better after that. Too many scary movies…

So, obviously, I am a little jumpy. But, I mean seriously, who wouldn’t be that way if they came face to face with the spitting image of a ghost child, who appeared out of nowhere, wanting to know if you will play with them?

It’s hard for me to understand how such a little person who doesn’t understand the concept of “inside voice” and constantly crashes into everything during day light hours could sneak around so ninja-like in the darkness of night. While I appreciate him not waking his little brother by running around like a wild man, it would be nice to have a little head’s up.

In fact, maybe I’ll just attach jingle bells to all of his pajamas. Problem solved.