Thursday, September 30, 2010

Conversations with a Toddler - Part 4

Scene: This is all Ben, acting out a scenario with his Thomas the Tank Engine bath toy. All words in [brackets] weren't actually said, but I added to make the meaning more clear.

Ben: Hi, Thomas. What [are you] doing?

Thomas: Watch[ing] Dino[saur Train]. Hi, Ben. What [are you] doing?

Ben: Bath.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Don't read this if you don't want to hear about Ben's "evacuations"

Potty training has been going surprisingly well. He's not really regular about telling us he has to go, but more and more when I put him on the potty he pees. In fact, this morning we went to the potty three times and he peed each time. Once was even in a bigger toilet at Stay 'n Play. And Heath took him to the bathroom at a restaurant the other night and he peed there, too. His Super Why! chart is filling up with stickers. I still don't think he'll be in underwear any time soon, but this is great progress.

Friday, September 24, 2010


I've been dreading potty training for a while. Reading up on all the various techniques it seemed so complicated and like I wouldn't be able to leave the house for months. There are strategies that (supposedly) take 1 month, 1 week, 5 days, 3 days, 1 day, 2 hours. It's ridiculous. I didn't want to spend an entire weekend having Ben run around the house without his pants or diaper, I didn't want to take him out of the house wearing NOTHING under his pants, I didn't want to set a timer and take him to the potty every 20 minutes...

It was seriously stressing me out to think about it, but since Ben started wearing the biggest size diapers they make (before training pants, which are more expensive) a couple months ago I really couldn't avoid it. Finally Heath said why don't we just do it? We don't have to worry about putting him in underwear right away or having him trained within 5 minutes. We can just keep him in diapers and train him slowly.

It was akin to a miracle because for some reason I never thought of that. Well, I know the reason. I'm an Organized Person. I like to have a plan and stick to it. I don't take kindly to deviations from The Plan (I'm sure Heath would say that's an understatement). And so to think about not having a plan and instead just embarking on this journey was oddly liberating. Granted, it's probably not going to make me into a loosey-goosey person, but in this instance not having a plan and just charging ahead was what I needed to do.

So on Wednesday Ben picked a potty chart (out of left field he picked Super Why! and not Thomas), we printed it out and taped it to the bathroom wall and potty training has begun! He earns a sticker for the chart every time he goes to the bathroom in the potty and that's the extent of our plan. I explained to him that if he feels like he needs to pee or poop he should tell us and otherwise I just ask him at random intervals during the day if he needs to go.

Honestly I was expecting it to take a while before anything happened, but we had a victory on the very first day! In the afternoon I was vacuuming and Ben ran up to me and said, "Bathroom!" So we rushed in and he actually peed on the potty! I couldn't believe it. I cheered and yelled and praised him like crazy and he was obviously proud of himself because he grinned from ear to ear.

I'm glad it happened when he initiated it himself. That tells me that he can feel when he has to go. I know this seems bizarre, but it was a very exciting moment. I was seriously pumped afterward and Ben was, too. And it wasn't a fluke. He's peed in the potty twice since then, once when I suggested it and another time when he told me. Doing it this way is probably going to take a while, but I'm okay with that.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Here we go again...

Remember a couple weeks ago when I said Ben started waking up in the middle of the night? Well, we discovered that he had an ear infection. It was mild so hopefully the antibiotics took care of it in one round. We'll go back to the doctor later this week to find out.

However, now he seems to be working on some type of cold, complete with runny nose, which makes it more likely he'll develop another ear infection soon. He's continued waking up in the night (not every night, but enough), with the added bonus of 5:30am wake up calls. Because he doesn't sleep enough at night he'll often take 3+ hour naps, but I'd gladly cut back on naps if it meant he'd sleep from 8:30pm-7am. Even 6:30. I'd accept 6:30am.

And the extra kick in the pants is that it's supposed to be 90 fucking degrees tomorrow. So not only do we have to deal with a sick kid and less sleep, I don't even get to wear jeans and sweaters.

Monday, September 20, 2010

We are family

We've never been all that close to our extended family. We see our grandparents and a few aunts and uncles, but for the most part I don't know any of my cousins. Which is why it's so exciting to me that Ben and Avery (and any future cousins) get to grow up together. It's an opportunity my brothers and I didn't have and it's going to be fascinating for me to watch how it unfolds.

So last Wednesday Ben and I visited Bekah and Avery.We went to the playground near their house. After some swinging and sliding Ben had a snack of Goldfish. Avery was just chilling in her stroller, but as Ben was eating he leaned in and tried to share a Goldfish with her. Of course we had to explain that she can't eat Goldfish yet, but it was the cutest thing ever...

UNTIL Avery was having a little down time on her activity mat. Ben noticed, said, "Sleepy," and then crawled under there with her and laid down.

Yeah, this is going to be fun.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Junior conductor

This is how we spend our days. Constructing, navigating, destroying.

Clever title

A lot of people who don't have kids don't understand why parents use "months" as a young kid's age rather than "years." It's because the differences between a 13 month old and a 23 month old are vast. They're both one, but developmentally they're on separate planets. Which is why I'm always saying things like, "Three months ago Ben couldn't even do X and now he's practically proficient." Babies and toddlers change so fast that even parents who see them every day can be surprised.

For example, yesterday Ben came up to me holding something (I can't even remember what, now) and he asked, "What's this?" That blew me away because he'd never formed such a real question before. It turns out Heath had heard him say it earlier this week, but yesterday was my first time. It was a full sentence and I could understand it perfectly well and he knew what he was asking. I'm not used to that kind of clarity from him. Only a while later did I realize with horror what it would mean now that he could ask, "What's this?"

We're to the point now that he's repeating any new word we say and also any new word he hears. We were playing Play-Doh a couple weeks ago and I had on the Nerdist podcast. After I turned it off Ben said, very clearly, "podcast." And that's when I realized I shouldn't play the "explicit" podcasts around him anymore.

The cutest thing he does right now, though, is trying to sing. There are a couple songs he can fill in a few words if I sing most of it, but his favorite is the ABC's. He has Heath and me sing that a lot. And sometimes he'll sing it to himself, but what he sings is, "ABC song, ABC song, ABC song."

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Paranoia, paranoia, everybody's comin' to get me...

For the past few nights Ben has been waking up in the middle of the night. He hasn't done that in many, many months and it's feeding my paranoia. The same thing happened last fall. He'd been sleeping through the night wonderfully all summer and then fall came and the shit hit the fan. He started getting ear infections and colds and from October to March he didn't consistently sleep through the night. As September approached this year that thought crept into my head and I'm hoping this isn't the start of another horrible winter. I have become very attached to sleeping through the night.

The difference this time around is that Ben can TALK. So instead of just unintelligible crying what we get is, "Daddy, daddy, daddy, daddy! Mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy!" That is infinitely worse. It's like having an ice pick dragged through your heart.

So, basically what this mean is that the blog may become more incoherent in the months ahead as sleep becomes a distant memory. Autumn has always been my favorite season, but if this keeps up I may start to have a Pavlovian response and become a summer person (shudder).

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Thomas, Thomas, everywhere

With Ben's and Avery's births, our family now has a streak of birthdays at the end of August through September. Between August 23 and September 14 there are four: Avery, my dad, Ben and then me. For various reasons, this year Ben actually had three separate birthday celebrations, the last one of which, his playgroup party, was yesterday. Have you ever thrown a party for 10 kids between the ages of 0 and 3? If so, then you know why I heaved a sigh of relief when the party was over. Finally I could take down the Thomas the Tank Engine decorations. Finally we were done with birthdays for a while. Then I realized my birthday party is on Saturday and it just sort of made me feel tired. However, I quickly remembered that my wonderful in-laws will be hosting Ben over night so I can enjoy my birthday celebration to the fullest. Hooray for in-laws!

Speaking of Thomas the Tank, we are now a fully Thomas household. For his birthday Ben got Thomas pajamas, a Thomas shirt and shorts, a Thomas bath toy, a Thomas train holder, a bunch of track and no fewer than a dozen Thomas and friends trains. I also managed to find him a Thomas Halloween costume. Thomas goes in the car everywhere and even into the crib at night. The craziest thing is that Ben's never even seen the TV show. He learned about the trains only from visiting friends' houses and playing with them at several children's museums around town.

So, I think Ben's 2nd birthday has been celebrated enough. Now it's time to round out the streak and celebrate my 30th!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

On the second year of life

Dear Ben,

Today you turn two! With the birth of your cousin Avery only a week and a half ago, it's even more apparent all the changes you've gone through in the last two years.

 On your actual birth day

I have to admit, this year has been a lot more fun than the first year. Your communication skills have grown leaps and bounds. Especially in the last six months, we've actually been able to (sometimes) understand what you want. Of course there is still miscommunication. Only yesterday after I cut up a banana for your snack you spent five minutes telling me you wanted a "boon." I kept saying I didn't understand and both of us were getting frustrated. You obviously knew what you wanted, but I just didn't get it. Finally I realized you wanted a "spoon." The relief to both of us was visible. It's probably a lesson. This is a sad thought, but right now is probably as close as we're ever going to be. You're so open and immodest and you don't yet know enough or care enough to be able to keep things from me. I know your whole life and I can pretty much tell what you're thinking by the flit of your eyes or the look on your face. And yet, even with that we still have times when we just cannot get our meanings across. So maybe in the future we need to remember that and be patient with one another. I will direct you to this blog post when you're 15 and screaming, "I hate you, Mom!" (Wow, I hope that never happens.)

The first anniversary of your birth

Really this year has been about the very first, baby steps of letting you go into the world. It seems like every week we're letting you climb higher on the playground by yourself, or letting you walk through the parking lot instead of carrying you. Now you can go down steps without holding my hand and you'll even go underwater at the pool! You're a brave little boy.

But here's the dichotomy: You're also cautious. So even though you'll run around the playground like a crazy man, you'll always stop and evaluate before jumping off something new. Even as a two year old I didn't have the energy you have. I'm always running to catch up with you. So it's nice that you give me a moment to catch my breath and adjust before you try something different.

You're an energetic, fun-loving boy. We've entered Tantrum Territory, but most of the time they're short-lived and you quickly go back to being your happy self.  It's a good thing you're so friendly because you still get compliments on your hair everywhere we go. You'll usually say "hi" and "bye" and "thank you," charming most people we meet. You have all the employees at the YMCA wrapped around your little finger.

You enjoy being with people, which is why playgroup is so great. You know all the kids and the moms and you're very generous with your friends. You hand out Goldfish crackers and last week you even shared your Thomas train with Isaac at the playground. I know it was hard, but it paid off because this week at the playground Isaac shared his trains with you! Two years ago I wasn't sure if I could pull off this parenting thing, but watching you share your toys and hearing you say "please" and "thank you" makes me feel like we can do this.

You're growing up to be a wonderful boy. Every week a new facet of your personality emerges and it's fascinating for me to watch. I'm so glad I have a front row seat.

This morning