wrapped around his finger

Potty training has been stalled for the last few months. The best advice given was to give it a rest, since, obviously, we were getting no where in September. We’ve left it up to Austin, and he is happy as can be wetting himself.

I’m getting antsy. Every way I turn I’m changing a diaper. And, even though, it’s nearly nine months away, I’m already feeling stress about the potty training requirement for him to move up to the next preschool class. Because, honestly, I feel like it will never happen.

Then, out of nowhere, there was interest.

The other morning, we were prepping for the day. Austin and I were brushing our teeth while Everett snacked on a toothbrush. Austin stops, looks at me, and says, “I want to go potty.”

Spit dribbled from my mouth as I looked at him in disbelief. “Really??”

“Yeah. I want to use the potty.”

I throw my toothbrush into the sink and grab the nearest potty chair. “Okay,” I said, trying to reign in the excitement. I place it in front of him and proceed to help him with his pants.

He looks at it with disgust. “Not that one, Mommaaaa. I want that potty. The big potty.”

Fair enough. “Okay, let’s use that one!”

I lead him toward the potty when he stops. “Here you go, buddy.”

“No,” he mumbles and walks away, leaving me dumbfounded with potties everywhere and toothpaste still in my mouth.

Touché, son. You have me wrapped around your finger, and, apparently, it was necessary to prove it that day.

I am so over potty training.

creative baby proofing

When Austin was a baby, we kind of slacked in the baby proofing department. Sure, we covered the outlets, and we used a baby gate as needed. And, of course, all cleaners and hazardous materials were placed safely from his reach. But, that was the extent of it.

He opened and closed cabinets at his whim, pots and pans all a strew. I cringe looking back at the death trap of a coffee table we had. And, it took me entirely too long to part ways with the various fragile decor around the house.

But, during the peak age of baby proofing, our house was on the market… for a year. I can tell you right now that hundreds of latches on every single door in your home don’t make for promising showings. So, we made do without.

Here we are with Everett in the throes of curiosity and mischievousness. He is mobile and fast, and I feel like I’m a first time parent again. A new house and new obstacles.

I think it’s safe to say we need to look at some more traditional methods.

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We need new baby gates. Ones for stairs and one for wide openings. We need latches for cabinets and potties, and more outlet covers. Forget plugging anything in to visible outlets. Everett will find them and try to eat them. Really, I could just use another set of eyes… and hands.

Looking back, I can’t fathom how we survived without baby proofing every square inch of our house when it seems so necessary now. Perhaps that’s the difference in one versus two kids. It’s hard to keep a constant eye on two moving objects that rarely coincide with the same direction.

Over the years, I’ve had multiple people, including strangers, tell me that Austin is the most active child they’ve seen. I’m never sure if that’s a compliment or code for GOOD LUCK! But, as Everett becomes more and more mobile, I’m not sure that he isn’t going to follow big bro’s lead. He is on the move. He is quick. And, he is up to no good.

No more waiting. Time to corral these kiddos.

Any recommendations on your favorite brands or items for baby proofing?

the Christmas tree

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In 2008, we celebrated our first Christmas as a wedded couple. Less than three weeks prior to that, we closed on our first home. Despite towers of cardboard boxes and a completely disheveled home, we still put up our first Christmas tree.

It was beautiful. It was adorned with delicate glass balls gleaming in purples, reds, blues, silvers and golds. Gifts of Christohper Radko and Wedgewood ornaments were our extra special contribution to the tree. And, perfectly wrapped presents created a wreath beneath it. We snuggled under a warm blanket together, sipped our hot chocolate and admired our first tree in peace.

Three years later, we had a freshly mobile one-year-old. Austin’s interest in the tree was short-lived, but long enough that the Christmas tree received its first remodel. Our precious CR and Wedgewood ornaments were elevated to the penthouse of the tree, safe from curious hands. Amazingly, only one gift huddled beneath the tree required a re-wrap that year.

In 2012, the remodel turned more into a renovation. Not a single glass ornament made it on the tree that year. Bless Costco and their extra large tubs of plastic ornaments. I truly believe they were tested by toddlers. Unbreakable. I tried whole-heartedly to have gifts underneath the tree that year, but, in the end, I re-wrapped every single gift at least once. Ironically, when Christmas morning came, we had to coax Austin to open all of his gifts. Rule #1 of kids: Nothing is nearly as much fun with your parents’ permission.

Another year. Another change. Our Christmas tree went up the day after Thanksgiving. No glass ornaments again. They are safely stored for a less destructive age. The tree went up perfectly, and it looked as though we would have a similar tree to last year’s… until today.

I walked into the living room to find Austin nestled next to the tree. He had removed one of the cushions from the chairs, and there in front of him, he had lined up a number of ornaments from the lower extremities of the tree. He smiled at me, and proudly showed off his collection. A few moments later, I spot Everett bounding after a giant, glittery ornament much like a puppy. In fact, when he finally captured it, he celebrated by attempting to eat it, despite it being the size of his own head.

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So, this year, I have two options. I can remove the bottom half of the ornaments, or I can let it be. This is the year my tree becomes our family tree, and I’m just going to let it be.

What a transformation we have seen over the years. As we change, so does our tree. The Christmas tree tells our story. It’s messy, imperfect and a little rough in spots. But, it’s always colorful. It’s always bright, and it is well loved. Ornaments will come and go, but the precious moments we share as a family beneath this little tree will carry on.

That first Christmas seems ages ago. No longer is there the same peace and quiet surrounding the Christmas tree. There is something better. There are snuggles, sweet giggles and wonderment from two precious boys that far outweigh the quiet. It’s a different kind of peace.

I love our tree. I love its story, and I love that it is ours.

Merry Christmas from our family to yours this Christmas season.

the shower dance

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I’m not a morning person. I never have been. I never will… at least, voluntarily. My children have forced me into a morning person’s life. I still eyeball the clock each and every morning. Groan at 7 a.m. Roll over at 6 a.m., and mutter a couple indecipherable words at 5 a.m. or earlier.

The first thing I yearn for each morning is not a cup of caffeine. It’s a shower. Showers are my coffee – a shot of sanity before our days of chaos. But, personal hygiene itself can be a mystical creature when two little ones hijack your schedule.

I’ve been spoiled. Every morning, the hubs manages breakfast for the boys. While he spoons out oatmeal, slices strawberries and is hit with the first tantrums of the day, I shower. Not a long, pre-children wash, but a quick spurt of uninterrupted hygienic bliss.

Occasionally, I am on my own when business calls. Today was that day. Sometimes, I opt out of fresh and clean, and settle for “try not to see anybody” grungy. But, today, I had somewhere to be, which means bathing was a priority. You are all welcome, by the way.

We started our morning at 5 a.m. Hungry baby. Fed baby. Screaming baby. Up for the day. Followed shortly by screaming toddler. Whiny toddler. Up for the day. We did our breakfast routine with minimal upsets – other than I selected the “wrong” spoon for Austin’s oatmeal – and, then, it was time. I had to get ready.

I placed Austin on the bed with free reign of the iPad and easily within my view. Five seconds later, he was completely immersed in Thomas the Train. Win. Then, on the floor, I created a maze of toys and expertly placed shoes for Everett, just to keep his attention. Start the timer.

In the five minutes I took to shower, I hopped out once to dislodge Everett from underneath our bed – a favorite place of his to roll, listened to Everett cry the entire time despite him actually sitting their gnawing on a toy in between wails, talked Austin through five meltdowns because the internet was freezing up his show, and convinced Austin to drop my eye liner before he used our cabinets as a coloring book… again.

I give you the shower dance. Lather, Rinse, Repeat for two more days. Bless the hubs and our normal routine.

Perhaps, I should rethink my social agenda this week. Or, I guess I can always blame the smell on the boys. Stinky toddler feet? Yeah. I think we’re covered.

taking candy from the baby

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Day 3: It’s been three days of sugar highs. This is the first year “out of sight, out of mind” has not worked with A on the candy front. This year, that Jack O’Lantern bulging with Milky Ways, Snickers and gummies seem to call to him at every waking moment of the day… and night.

“Momma, can I have a treat? A treat, Momma? A treat? A treat?”

Despite only hitting up two streets on Halloween, Austin finished his night with quite the supply. Candy for breakfast. Candy for lunch. Candy for dinner. Those are his requests… times two full days. And, of course, he handles it really well when I tell him no. I’m not sure I can handle a whole month of sugar highs and whines.

So, today, I sped up the process. I’m guilty. Guilty of stealing candy from my baby. One for Austin, two for Momma. Oh, and look, there’s a Twix. Yum. Sorry, Austin. But, Momma has to survive your candy crashes somehow.

Apparently, stealing Halloween candy from your kid is a right of passage for parents. We coordinate costumes. We lug them up and down each street. We endure the effects of sugar rushing through their little bodies. Therefore, we deserve a bit of their loot. It makes me wonder if my own parents snagged our candy after hours? Sneaky, sneaky.

At our current rate, it appears we will finish the Halloween stash just in time for the Advent calendars to begin in December. And, then when the calendar ends, a stocking full of treats will await. That should last through January, and end on boxes of chocolate for Valentine’s Day. I never before recognized the constant stream of excuses for sugar throughout the year. But, who’s complaining? Austin loves to share, especially when he doesn’t know.

Perhaps, I should reveal Operation Eat the Kids’ Candy to the hubs… but, then I’d have to share. Shhh… Sorry, honey.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

wardrobe change

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Once upon a time, Halloween was easy. Austin’s costume was at my whim. A onesie for his first. A cow for his second, and a Clark Kent/Superman outfit for number three. Hit up a couple houses. Easy.

This year, Austin is a farmer, fireman and airplane. And, much to his dismay, I vetoed his request to add a “scary” monster to the list. Three is too young for that business.

With Everett, we’ve had to coordinate with the DOC band, aka the helmet. We ran into a hiccup with the original Halloween plan when we were informed Everett would need a new band. We had planned to match his watermelon head with a watermelon onesie. Scratch that. New plan. He went as a Chick-fil-a cow to coordinate with his stark white helmet.

Five costumes for two kids.

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We are certainly not the only ones captured in this trend. We have friends that basically have a costume to cover the days of October. And, so many more that have at least two per child.

Growing up, I remember having a single costume each year. Pick one. That’s it. Of course, my mom made our costumes. There was no turning back once the sewing machine was humming. Me, on the other hand, greatly enjoy piecing together costumes with items we already have in the house, which leaves things open to multiple half-baked ideas. I fear one day my children will receive trash bags as costumes with the encouragement to be clouds or something.

Really, it’s my own fault they have so many. I gave Austin full reign, and, frankly, my kids look adorable in all of their costumes (no bias there). Plus, then, we only have to go to a few houses, turn around, change costumes, and hit the same houses again. Brilliant. No one will ever know…

Halloween at its best. Candy for all.

three

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Last night, as I crawled into bed, I took a brief inventory of the collateral damage surrounding my bed.

I noted a significant spot of dried spit up in the middle of my side. Animal cracker crumbs trailed from end to another. And, a large pile of clothes – clean or dirty, I don’t even know – heaped across the end of the bed. You know what I did? I brushed the crumbs slightly closer to the hubs’ side, snuggled underneath those clothes and atop the spot, and went to sleep. Ew. Ew. Ew.

I just didn’t care. There was no energy to change sheets or decipher whether those clothes were, in fact, headed to the closet or the laundry basket nor did I desire to vacuum the carpet where I suspect the cracker crumbs continue. Not even an ounce of energy to care.

Last night, I waved the flag of defeat. The children have won, and I am sleeping in spit up. I think this would be considered a low.

Recently, I feel our days more resemble snippets from war documentaries than Sesame Street episodes. Austin rebels and cries, and there have been few outings that have not ended with me carrying him out like a football. And, then I nag and shout and talk like a broken record to a brick wall 99 percent of the day. It’s just a phase. It’s just a phase.

I fear the three’s might just be the end of me.

But, today, he surprised me. I took him grocery shopping with me. Something I have vowed never ever to do unless we are going to starve to death without that trip right that second. And, even then, it’s a coin toss.

Things were going semi-smoothly. I had only told him to sit down in the basket 59 times and not to touch anything 112 times. Out of nowhere, a big grin creeps across his face, and he says, “You’re fun, Momma. I love being with you.”

What?? I actually thought I had mistakenly heard him, and asked him again what he had said. He repeated, smiling and staring up at me with his big brown eyes. I just couldn’t understand. I scold. I nag. I shout. I’m constantly distracted by cleaning or laundry or errands. And, here is this child, thrilled to just be with me… or, thrilled to torment me. And, I’m fun.

He made my day. He made my week. As mothers, we are exhausted and feel unappreciated. We put everyone and everything before us. We often take the brunt of the chores, and it’s hard when Dad is always the “fun” one.

But, take heart, mommas. We are fun. We are amazing. We are loved beyond measure. And, our children recognize it long before we do.

Maybe three isn’t so bad.

But, let’s not take our chances. If I tell him he’s four, will that take care of things?

a little cheese with a lot of whine

I’ve had a difficult time writing this week. Not for a lack of things to write about, but, really how to put these thoughts into words without leaving behind a garble of whininess. There is no guarantee this entire post won’t be littered with such. In fact, it will be. Because writing it down always make me feel a smidge better. Reader be warned. Bring on the whine.

I’m having a pity party this week. I’m tired and overwhelmed. And, if I have to endure one more mega meltdown from my toddler this week, especially in public, well, I might just join him. Cue dual temper tantrums in Target, Aisle 5.

It’s been a dizzy couple of weeks between discussing Everett’s need for a new helmet, a diagnosis of his sensory aversion, and various other family stresses. And, this week has just been the cherry on top.

We started the weekend traveling with a snotty, feverish sick baby. Not much of a break there. Zero sleep as well.

Enter Monday, and I decided it would be a brilliant idea to take my miserable baby and defiant toddler to have the oil changed on my car. Good thinking, Mom.

They estimated it would take an hour and 15 minutes to have the oil and maintenance done. Not as fast as I would like, but we could make it work. It was overdue, and it had to be done. The first hour and a half were stressful, but everyone had managed to stay content-ish throughout. When an hour and 40 minutes passed, Austin’s time was up. He lost it – over nothing. He threw a fit right there in the middle of the dealership. He screamed and cried and tried to hit me repeatedly. And, I had nowhere to go. It was raining outside. There was no reprieve inside. And, the dealership had basically kidnapped my car.

While hauling the stroller, holding back tears, carrying Austin and restraining him from smacking me in the face, I located the nearest technician begging him for a status on my car. He swore it was almost done. Just a few more things. “Hurry,” I sputtered. “Hurry.”

After two hours and 15 minutes of waiting, the car was ready and parked in the rain. Awesome. The manager apologized profusely and took a significant chunk off our bill, hoping it would ease some of the “distress.” I sincerely hope the rest of the customers who had to witness Austin’s performance received a comparable discount. It was an ugly, ugly sight.

On the way home, Austin fell asleep in the car just before arriving home. I didn’t have the strength to deal with his wake-up, so I just drove. And, drove. And, drove. Eventually, Everett fell asleep, too. For one hour, we continued to drive in the pouring rain, while I tried to refuel my patience and energy. It didn’t last long. Everett was the first to wake. By the time, I opened the car doors at home, both boys were screaming in unison. Happy Monday.

Tuesday was a poor report from the occupational therapist. Everett is farther behind on tolerating food than she previously thought. He is still young, but he’s going to have quite the uphill battle.

Wednesday, the hubs had surgery first thing in the a.m. to correct his sleep apnea. Basically, it’s a miserably uncomfortable surgery and recovery that included a tonsillectomy,¬†uvulopalatopharyngoplasty, endoscopic sinus surgery, nasal septal reconstruction and turbinate reduction. Yeah… he feels as awful as it sounds. But, they hooked him up with some excellent cocktails. See you in a month, honey.

And, this morning, after an all-nighter full of “quality” time with the kiddos, both boys had well checks. Shots all around. A referral for Everett for Synagis vaccines. And, let’s top it off with an ear infection for him, too.

I am done. I don’t want to know what Friday, Saturday and Sunday hold. Can I just pull the covers over my head, enjoy a glass of wine and call it a week? Or, maybe call it for the next two weeks because I’m not a fan of what next week’s schedule is stacking up to be either.

How does this whole “call in sick” thing work for moms?

Pity party, party of one. Would you like some cheese with that whine?