Monday, December 17, 2012

Walkin' man

Sam is very slowly starting to realize that getting on the floor, crawling to his destination and then standing up again isn't the most efficient mode of locomotion. So he's been dabbling in the arena of walking. But, since it's Sam, he has to do it his own way. About half the time he's walking he walks sideways. I assume it's because when cruising around he walks sideways, holding onto a table or couch. He does walk forward, as well, but a lot of the time he shuffles sideways.

Of course there's still much falling which means Sam gets to practice being DRAMA QUEEN EXTRAORDINAIRE! Every little bump or plop requires crying and whining and thumb sucking. But he's getting better. It's strange to have someone only two and a half feet tall walking around the house. He's up to about a 50-50 split on crawling and walking. His newest discovery is that if he's walking he can HOLD SOMETHING while he moves. Awesome!

So we're getting there. Soon he'll be walking all the time. It will mean I'll lose my Mommy Biceps (which are nicely defined from carrying around 25 pounds all day long), but I can handle that if it means my back and shoulders and knees get a break. We're inching toward full-blown toddler-hood!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Sure to become a holiday classic

Ben's rendition of a Christmas favorite:

Jingle poop
Jingle poop
Jingle poop poop poop
Oh what poop it is to poop
In a one-poop open poop, POOP!

Ah, life with a 4 year old boy.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Freedom!

We are now bottle free! I was actually very nervous about this transition, because a few weeks ago I tried to give Sam oatmeal before his morning bottle and he was having NONE of that. He absolutely refused to eat the oatmeal, which he normally loves, and even without words he made it very clear that he will drink his bottle first, thankyouverymuch. So the prospect of taking away ALL his bottles FOREVER seemed very daunting.

However, he completely surprised me because it's been absolutely no problem. The day after his birthday I started weaning him from his bottle feedings one at a time, replacing them with snacks or milk and by this Tuesday we were done. We came downstairs that morning and he drank his milk and ate his oatmeal like a champ. Cue Mommy breathing a sigh of relief.

No more buying expensive formula, no more lugging around bottles and cleaning bottles constantly. I have counter space back! No more spit-up (now just regular ol' vomit which, while way more gross is also way more rare)! Most of the trappings of baby-hood are gone and once Sam starts walking full-time all we'll have left is potty training and then we'll have two big boys! I cannot wait.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Sick sick sick

Remember how, in Sam's birthday letter I was singing his praises? How he's such a happy, independent, easy-going kid? Normally he is, but when he's sick he is the EXACT OPPOSITE of all those things. He's super whiny, super clingy, doesn't eat, doesn't sleep, is basically miserable to be around.

I bring this up because Sam's having a milestone: Baby's First Ear Infection. On Sunday night he slept from 7:30pm-1am and then only off and on until 6am. Since Heath was in Colorado for work it wasn't a pleasant night for me. So we took a field trip to the doctor's office on Monday and discovered the culprit. As the nurse was looking in his ears I was silently chanting, "Ear infection! Ear infection! Ear infection!" I suppose it seems strange to want your child to be sick, but it's a REASON for the fever and crabbiness and not sleeping. And there are drugs to STOP IT. If there's no infection then you're just on your own to endure the misery.

Luckily (for me) there was an infection so we got our drugs and Sam's getting better, though he's still grumpy, probably partly from lack of sleep. This is why I now hate winter. Constant sickness. And with two kids it's just back to back to back to back.

I can't wait until Sam's older and when he's sick he'll just lay on the couch and watch TV. Those days are nice.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The first One for boy Two

Dear Sam,

It's your first birthday letter! I'm so excited to write this for you. You are such a happy, content, easy-going little guy. Your shy smile charms everyone you meet. Only adding to your appeal, you're also extremely affectionate. I've been on the receiving end of countless sloppy baby kisses, drool sliding down my cheek when you're done. When I pick you up from your crib you throw your arms around my neck and put your head on my shoulders. I never want to forget that feeling. I hope you can always be so unabashedly open about your emotions.

We've learned a lot about you this year. We learned you hate getting dressed with a fiery passion and you're not too thrilled about having your diaper changed, either. The changing table isn't a happy place for you. Unless I give you a book to peruse. Then you forget about the humiliations happening to your lower half. You love books! For a couple months now you've been picking out books and bringing them to me to read. Then we proceed to read them approximately 5,000 times each. And even though one of your all-time favorite activities is making sure Ben's bookshelf is clear and all the books are on the floor, where they belong, you're actually fairly gentle with the books. I don't think you've ripped a page yet. You did destroy a couple board books, but to be fair Ben contributed to that eventual destruction a good amount when he was your age.

We've learned you love blueberries and knocking down block towers and playing the piano. But the biggest thing we've learned about you so far is that you're STUBBORN. You will not hold your bottle. You're completely capable of it. You drink from a sippy cup all the time, but why hold your own bottle when Mommy or Daddy will do it for you? Joke's on you, Baby, the bottle's going bye-bye soon... I'm trying to think of another concrete example of your stubbornness, but I can't. It's more like you've just got this quiet defiance about you. Not defiance like a teenager, but more a determination to do things your own way, no matter what everyone else does or what's expected of you. Your crawling style is a good example. You crawl with your right leg curled underneath you and your left leg stuck straight out to the side, foot dragging on the floor. It looks bizarre, but it works for you and you've gotten pretty fast that way. In the last couple weeks you've been crawling more in the conventional way and just this week you seem to have switched to it entirely. It's faster, easier and more streamlined, allowing access into tunnels and between chairs the way the one-leg-out method didn't. Hopefully that means in the future, when presented with a better option you'll evaluate it and eventually give up your own stubborn way if it isn't working.

So let's talk about Ben. Mommy and Daddy may be your favorite people for snuggles, but Ben is your favorite playmate. Nobody else can make you laugh like he can. His exuberance and silliness get you every time. Almost from day one you've known he was special. Before you could even sit up you would watch his every move. When he enters a room your face lights up. Ben finally has a full-time partner to play Chase. You do your best and even though you can't crawl fast enough to keep up it's pure joy for you when Ben wants you to play. Soon you'll be toddling after him and before you know it you'll catch him. Watching your relationship with Ben blossom has been one of the best things about this year. I'm glad you have each other. I know you're not always going to get along, but I hope you keep making each other laugh.

You have been the perfect second baby. From the time you were born you were subject to the schedule we already had set up, but it never phased you. I dragged you around in the car seat to preschool, to the Y, to the playground, to the grocery store and as long as you were fed and could get a little shut eye you were fine. You're a great sleeper. You're a great eater. You can entertain yourself. You've been a joy. I can't wait to see what things we learn about you in the coming year. I'm so glad you're in our family.

Love,
Mommy

Monday, November 12, 2012

A bathroom story with a happy ending

A while ago I was waiting in line for the restroom and in walked a woman with her son. Not so unusual, except for the fact that the boy must've been about 10 years old. He looked mortified and I was a little uncomfortable with it, too. As the mother of two young boys it got me thinking about when it would be appropriate to send a boy into a public restroom by himself. I've talked about this with some other mothers and most think 10 is too old to be in a women's room, but the fact that some people DON'T just weirds me out.

This all brings me to the fact that I sent Ben into a public restroom by himself last week. We were having lunch at St. Louis Bread Co. and halfway through the meal Ben said he had to go to the potty. All our food was laid out, as well as our coats on the chairs and my bag on the floor. Sam was happily eating his lunch and I didn't want to disrupt him by dragging us and all our shit into the bathroom.

So I quickly assessed the situation and decided Ben could go on his own. I walked him to the men's restroom and told him to meet us at the table when he was done. And guess what happened? He went to the bathroom and came back. No abductions, no injuries, no molestations.

Now, not every 4 year old could necessarily do that. If a kid gets nervous by himself or is very timid around strangers it might not work out. But Ben's pretty mature and he's not shy at all about asking people for help and he doesn't get scared easily. I knew he'd be able to handle it.

I'm proud of myself for not giving in to the culture of fear that permeates parenting these days. I know my kid and what he's capable of and I used that as my guide, not baseless mistrust of everyone around me. Hopefully more parents will start doing that.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

A first!

On Sunday evening Sam took his first two steps! He and Heath were playing and Heath stood him up. He can stand on his own pretty steadily now. Heath was enticing him to walk with a cookie and he took two tiny steps and then fell into Heath's lap.

I was actually very surprised when he took those steps because so far he's shown absolutely no interest in walking. Whenever I try to hold his hands and get him to walk he just squats down and starts crawling. The only timeline he's interested in is his own and walking is not on it right now. I think the steps were only a fluke. It'll probably be a few weeks or more before he starts walking in earnest. But, still it's worth documenting.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

I'm not dead yet!

Our house has been hit by a plague. For seven days I spent the majority of my time at home nursing two boys with hand-foot-mouth virus. It's a rash that starts in your mouth, producing a seriously painful sore throat, and can spread to your hands and feet. Hence the very creative name of the disease.

Ben got it last Thursday and since he's usually so laid back about illness I didn't even realize he was sick until after lunch. I suggested we go to the park, since it was a beautiful day and he refused several times. A definite sign that something was wrong. His temperature was 102! He was down for the count for 2.5 days, completely lethargic and barely eating because it hurt so bad when he swallowed. Unfortunately since it's a virus there's no medication and we just had to wait for it to run its course. Tylenol and lots of fluids. By Sunday Ben was doing a lot better, but then Sam succumbed. I could see the sores on his tongue and lips and he started crying when I tried to feed him applesauce. Nothing is more sad than your sick baby. He has no idea what's going on and you can't explain why he feels so bad. He wouldn't eat anything for two days, but luckily he would still drink his bottles. I'm so glad this happened BEFORE we wean him from his bottles in a couple weeks.

Finally they're both on the mend. Poor Sam is still hoarse from all the crying he's done, though. Luckily, usually only kids under 5 get it, and so far I've remained healthy. Being sick and trying to take care of your kids is the worst. Also really bad: Being stuck in your house for seven days straight. Today we went to the zoo and it was AWESOME.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Sporty Spice

This fall Ben was in a free soccer league for 4-7 year olds. At first I was a little hesitant because the program is a feeder for a select soccer team, which is a big time and money commitment. I'm so not ready to spend every weekend chauffeuring my kids to soccer tournaments in neighboring states. However, Ben likes soccer and, as I said, it was free so we signed him up.

They had practices on Friday nights and games on Sunday nights. The first week didn't go so well. At the first practice we neglected to bring Ben's ball, so he had to share with another kid, which he did not appreciate. Lots of crying was involved.  At the game that Sunday his team was severely outmatched and again, lots of crying was involved. Specifically, every time the other team scored a goal. I felt so bad for him because I could tell what he was feeling. His perfectionism was kicking in and he knew he was supposed to keep them from scoring, but he couldn't. So he was getting very mad.

Luckily things went better from then on. No more crying. He was always excited to go to soccer and he was pretty enthusiastic about running after the ball, but at times he would wander and become that kid who's picking grass while everyone else is running like crazy. He really succumbed to that during the last game. Instead of their normal 4 v 4 game they did a 7 v 7, so it was like a pack of vultures on a carcass. The ball was almost always encased by 10-12 kids and being one of the younger and least skilled kids, Ben just couldn't really get in there. So he lost focus and started daydreaming or talking to another kid who was hanging back. Honestly, as a completely un-sporty person myself (unless you count marching band) I was actually kind of happy to see Ben not utterly mesmerized by the need to kick a ball into a net. Eventually the coach put him in goal, which I thought was a bad idea because it would allow him to daydream even more. I was right because when the vultures came careening down the field he was looking the other way. A kid kicked it toward the goal and...

...it hit Ben right in the chest, stopping the goal. He wasn't even paying attention, but he kept them from scoring. It was a very Luna Lovegood moment. Awesome.

Overall it was a positive experience, though I don't think Ben's soccer skills have improved much. He had fun, though. He's played soccer more, but I actually think his athletic skill is going to lie in baseball. He's been scarily accurate throwing a ball since he was two. Our neighbors actually commented on it, just watching from across the street. I guess we should sign him up for t-ball this spring.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Fall Fun


In the tree house at the park

 Pumpkin Patch

Pumpkins are very exciting!

Meeting a friend at the pumpkin patch

How do YOU carry your socks around the house?!

I always fall asleep while reading, too

Watching the workers finish our new back porch

Plants Vs. Zombies

Cutest zombie ever

Zombie and Sunflower put aside their differences


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

All Hallows Eve Eve

Scene: Ben is carrying around a bag of books, pretending to be a zombie.

Ben: There's a zombie world.

Me: Ok.

Ben: In the zombie world there's a zombie librarian who brings books to everybody so they'll have a book to read while they eat brains.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Almost a toddler

A few days ago on Facebook I realized that in about six weeks Sam will be 1. It's seems impossible, but it also seems like it took forever. I've been fairly vocal about not loving the baby stage. The first year is just hard. Physically, mentally, emotionally... I've not been at my best this year. Plus, kids get more fun as they get older. As they can walk and talk and play there are so many more things we can do. Right now we basically drag Sam around to things fun for Ben and hope there's something to entertain Sam.

So while it does give me a little twinge of (sob) "My baby's growing up!" I'm pretty much glad to be (almost) done with the first year. I'm hoping Sam starts walking soon. He's gotten quite good at pulling himself up on furniture and he's starting to cruise (which is walking while holding onto something). Even when he does start walking I'll still have to carry him around when we go out, but hopefully I won't have to do it as much around the house. I'm already daydreaming about back pain-free days.

I think, like Ben, Sam might have a bit of his father's evil streak. For about a week and a half he was sleeping past 6:30am. Sometimes he'd even make it past 7! He did it just long enough to get our hopes up and then he decided to crush our spirits. He's started waking up in the middle of the night and not going back down for an hour or more. I think it's separation anxiety with a dash of teething for flavor. A bitter combo. Winter is always worse for sleeping, so I should've expected it, but blah. Blah is what I say to night waking. Because I can't think of anything else on account of being tired.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Or maybe it was the underpants gnomes

Scene: I'm in the shower and Ben comes in to use the toilet. He pulls down his pants...

Ben: Where's my underwear?

Me: Didn't you put some on this morning?

Ben: I don't remember. Maybe it fell off.

Me: Go put on some underwear when you're done.


That happened the day after this: He didn't want to change out of his dirty underwear, so he just put the clean pair on top. I didn't know until later he talked about having on two pairs of underwear. I checked him, but he was only wearing one. Later I found the other pair on the bathroom floor. When I asked him about it he said, "Maybe a ghost brought it downstairs."

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Gross v 2.0

I had one of the grossest moments of my motherhood to date on Friday morning, which is saying something since Ben once puked in my hand and I also watched him eat cat vomit.


Sam woke up with a cough and a runny nose. We started the day like we always do, me complaining that he wakes up too early and him whining for a bottle. After about 15 minutes he was done eating and we sat on the couch a little longer, waiting for his burp. What I got instead was a cough which resulted in literally half his bottle being expelled from his body onto me, the couch and the floor. I have NEVER seen a child spit up that much. My shorts and underwear were soaked, there was a huge wet spot on the couch and a puddle on the floor. For a few seconds my mind couldn't even comprehend what had just happened and I sat completely still. Then I sighed and started mopping everything up with a woefully inadequate burp cloth.


By the way, Sam? Not a spot on him.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Readin' and writin'

For the last few months Ben has been very interested in what things say. Every car ride is a constant chorus of, "What does that sign say? What does that sign say?" So Heath and I have taken that as a signal of readiness for reading. Though both of us loved school and emphasize learning we don't try to cram lessons down Ben's throat. But when he shows genuine interest in a subject we jump on it.

He already knew a lot of the letter sounds (Thanks, Super Why!), so we've been working on those and showing him how the sounds go together to create words. He seems to be getting it a little bit. He's not reading on his own by any means, but he did read a word! He asked where we were going that day, so I wrote ZOO on the board in his room. I was just about to say, "What sound does Z make?" when he said, "Z... oo!" I think it helped that the day before I had written BOO on the board and explained that two "O"s make the ooooooo sound. And he remembered! How amazing is that?



Ben's also getting a lot better at writing letters. He can reliably write his name (though sometimes the N is backwards and he can get a little overzealous with the lines on the E). The other day he told me he wanted to write "Cat in the Hat." So we got out the notebook, I told him the letters and he wrote them all down. Just today his teacher said he worked with one of their student teachers and wrote down the lyrics to a song they sing. I'm so proud of how hard he's working to master these skills and that it's all coming from his own interest.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

He'll find his own way

Sam is officially crawling! He started right around the same age Ben started, 9.5 months. However, he doesn't crawl the traditional way. He tucks his right leg up under himself and holds his left leg out stiff, like he has a peg leg. Then he kind of half crawls, half drags himself along. He manages to get where he's going, but it looks strange. Sometimes, seemingly by accident, he does a few strides on hands and knees the normal way, but then he'll realize it and stick his leg out again.

What's crazy to think about is that it was only two months between when Ben started to crawl and when he started to walk. So by November we might have another walker. Sam seems so small, it's bizarre that he might be walking soon.

Here's Sam's funky crawl. As a bonus in this video you get to see Sam engage in his new favorite activity: pulling up the vent covers.


Monday, September 10, 2012

Party on, Wayne!

Ben's birthday always lands right around Labor Day, so we usually push the party to the next weekend. Last year's party was INSANE. We did it at the train store, which used to be Ben's favorite place on Earth, and I think we had like 16 or 17 kids, plus parents. He got way too many presents and it was just too much. We definitely were giving him one more blow-out before he was no longer an only child. So, we knew we didn't want to do something too crazy this year. We picked the park near our house and told Ben he could choose four friends to invite (plus family). It turned out really well. The weather was absolutely gorgeous, people ate most of the food, Ben got a manageable number of presents. The kids just ran around and played on the playground and I didn't have to plan games or provide entertainment. Perfect.



We could not get a non-blurry picture of him with this 
remote-controlled car, which accurately describes his
excitement when opening it.

Eating pizza with Avery after a hard day at the playground.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Four!

Dear Ben,

We survived! I don't think I've said that since your first birthday, but this year has been rough. Before you turned three I got a little warning from some friends with older kids that three was worse than two, and boy were they right! We've been struggling this year, with independence, with wanting more attention than I can give and with the fact that you want to do so many things, but you just can't do them all yet. Hopefully our level of fighting this year isn't reached again, well EVER, but realistically until you're a teenager. It hasn't all been bad, of course, but I'm committed to showing a realistic picture of parenthood, so I'm not going to only sing your praises just because it's your birthday. :)

You had several big life changes this year. Of course, the biggest was Sam being born. It was a little tough on you at first. For the first couple months you were obviously out of sorts, but overall I'm so impressed with the way you welcomed him into our family. You never took your frustration out on the baby, just on us (which is how it should be). And as Sam's gotten older and more interactive you're having more fun with him. One of the best parts of this year has been listening to you boys laugh together. You love to make Sam laugh and he loves watching you. You're so sweet with him, giving him hugs and kisses and mostly sharing your toys. I can see the very beginnings of sibling rivalry, as Sam becomes more mobile, but I think you guys are going to have a lot of fun, too.

Another big event of the year was going binky free. Daddy and I were a little afraid of this milestone, so we pulled out the big guns: bribery. With your remaining binkies you bought a bike and you never looked back. Once again your ability to roll with big changes blew my mind. Which always makes it so odd when you break down over the littlest things, like who went into the house first.

The last big event, which was probably bigger for me than for you, was going nap free. All summer you've been whittling down the number of naps you take per week and at this point you're down to one or two. On days when we have nothing to do it can be a little maddening for me (since you still won't play by yourself for any length of time), but on busy weekends it's actually kind of nice. So, the good with the bad.

You absolutely loved your first year of preschool and Daddy and I are so excited by that. Every single day when I picked you up from school your teacher said, "Ben's had a great day." We never had a bad report about you and your teacher was always telling us you were a good friend and a good leader in class. I'm so proud of you for that.

Your interests continue to run toward building and reading and just running around. You're an odd mix of Daddy and me, but I guess that's what we were going for! Although I complained about it incessantly, I was a little sad when your obsession with trains waned this year. It had been such a huge part of your life for two and a half years, it's hard to believe it's over. For a while we thought a Lego obsession might manifest, and I still think it will, but it might be a little early. Right now your focus has turned to ANGRY BIRDS. Everything you play becomes some version of Angry Birds: someone's a pig, someone's a red bird, something's a stolen egg. You're very imaginative with it and it's fun to watch.

With three behind us I'm starting to see some light at the end of the tunnel. You still throw yourself on the floor in agony every time we tell you to brush your teeth, BUT sometimes when I tell you to get dressed you just... do it. Without a fuss, without a fight. It's amazing. And you're helpful around the house, sometimes without even being asked. Between the tantrums and the deliberate disobedience I can see flashes of you becoming a great kid. And I have hope that there are better years ahead. Maybe even next year!

Happy birthday, Ben. I love you.

Love,
Mommy

Friday, August 24, 2012

Totally negligent mommy

Sam turned 9 months old last week and I totally forgot to post about it. This is why second and middle children are always so f-ed up (I'm picturing Ian frowning). Sam's new stats:

Weight: 22 lbs. 5 oz. - 90th percentile
Height: 29 1/4" - 85th percentile
Head circumference: 46 cm - 75th percentile

Everywhere we go people always comment on how big Sam is... But he's a full pound lighter than Ben was at SIX MONTHS, so he doesn't seem big to me. My back, knees and shoulders beg to differ, but my biceps are awesome.

I've been saying Sam is thisclose to crawling for over a month. I really thought he'd be full-out crawling by now. He does this thing where he's on one knee and his other leg is straight out to the side and he sort of pulls himself for a short distance. It's somewhat crawling in that he's moving himself a little bit, but he's not going any significant distance. Mostly he just ninjas out to get whatever he wants and then goes back to sitting. If he can't reach it that way, it's dead to him.

His "talking" seems to be getting more sophisticated. I can't exactly explain what I mean, except to say that it sounds more like he's really "saying" something. Like what's coming out of his mouth has meaning for him. His curiosity has also exploded. Anything we put in front of him will be subjected to a full examination which includes turning it over, banging it on the table and putting it in his mouth. We're at that stage where, in a restaurant the three feet of table around the baby is empty, except for Cheerio's.

Sam remains a content, cheerful little boy. Even with the 5:30-6:00am wake ups every morning we really can't complain.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

At least that's settled.

Scene: We're driving in our town past one of the several colleges.

Ben: What's that building?

Me: It's a college.

Ben: When do you go to college?

Me: After high school you can go to college.

Ben: Why?

Me: You can study a specific subject and then get a job.

Ben: Will I be big?

Me: Yes.

Ben: And then I won't need you anymore!

Me: ... Yes. [Heart breaking.]

Ben: Then I can make my own breakfast.

Me: Yes.

Ben: They won't have a microwave at college so I'll have Cheerio's.

Me: They have microwaves at college.

Ben: Oh. Then I'll have oatmeal.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Hearing check on aisle two!

Scene: I'm encouraging Ben to get dressed and he's naked, messing around with random stuff.

Me: We can't go to the zoo if you're naked.

Ben: Why?

Me: It's illegal.

Ben: A silly eagle?

Me: ILLEGAL.

Ben: An ill eagle?

Me: Il-leagl.

Ben: Ha! I thought you said "eagle."

Thursday, August 2, 2012

(Almost) on the move

I always say that sitting up is my favorite baby milestone. Suddenly playing gets easier and more fun and the baby is content with his awesome new skill for a while. Unfortunately, we've passed out of the content stage and now we're in the "I want to be able to move, but I can't so I'm MAAAAAAAAD" stage. I knew the contentment couldn't last forever and Ben was right about 8 months when he started being frustrated by his lack of mobility, but Sam's been so agreeable up until now that I thought maybe we could just go from contentment to crawling.

Nope. Sam's not crawling yet, but being stuck in any confining thing like a car seat, high chair or pool floaty is suddenly odious. I'm hoping he'll start crawling sooner than Ben did (at 9.5 months), the logic being that then he'll start walking sooner and then I'll be able to trust him on the stairs sooner and my life will get a whole lot easier. He might do it. He's starting out the same way Ben did: scooting backwards. Yesterday morning, just using his arms to push himself, he scooted on his belly almost all the way across the kitchen, maybe 10 feet. Then he got stuck in a corner. Of course I took a picture:


Sunday, July 22, 2012

Soooooooo Heath's son

I've been feeling very trapped in the house lately. Ben and I are both a little frustrated, being subject to Sam's napping whims. So Thursday when Sam woke up from his afternoon nap waaay earlier than I'd expected, I decided to take the boys to Shoe Carnival. Normally, taking the two of them shopping in any capacity is something I hate and dread, so you can see how anxious I was to get out of the house.

I needed a new pair of work out shoes, so that was my main objective, but of course they were having a "Buy one, get one half off sale" (when are they NOT?), so we spent a little more time in the store than I'd planned. However, despite that, both the boys were very good. Normally Ben likes to run up and down aisles, mess with merchandise and make incoherent noises VERY LOUDLY. But this time he pretty much stayed with me and entertained Sam (double win!).

Since it isn't exactly something I get to say on a daily basis, I praised Ben pretty heavily as we left the store. "You were very good in the store. You didn't run around or yell or mess with things. I really appreciate it."

Without missing a beat Ben says to me, "Can I have a Popsicle when we get home?"

Friday, July 20, 2012

Ben can swim!

Aside from that first bath, during which he screamed the entire time, Ben has always loved water. He was one of those fearless two year olds going down the water slide by himself and jumping off the side of the pool. A few weeks ago Heath bought him a kick board, because he was showing interest in real swimming. He did great with it, kicking up a storm and moving himself across the pool. Last night he was zipping around and then all of a sudden he ditched the kick board and just... swam. Underwater. All by himself.

Our friend Katie was also at the pool and she said, "I can't believe he can swim!" We said, "We can't, either." The rest of the evening he wanted nothing to do with the kick board and he kept diving into the water and swimming. It was amazing watching him pick up such an important skill, seemingly all of a sudden.

But that's the tricky thing about parenting. It seems like it was just BAM! Suddenly he can swim. But this one is almost all Heath. He spent hours and hours with Ben at the pool, tirelessly catching him as he jumped from the side and moving back every so often, so Ben would have to put in a little more effort. Heath also would take Ben underwater and sometimes let him struggle for a second to get his own footing (which is something Heath is much better at than I am). It doesn't hurt that Ben's 3.5 feet tall, so he can easily stand up by himself in the three foot pool, but Heath helped him to not fear going under and to know how to move his body in the water.

So kudos to Heath on his parenting win!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Post Title

I've been neglecting my duties as a blogger lately. I haven't been feeling very chatty and I made the mistake of looking at some posts from when Ben was 6-8 months old, to compare what I was writing about him. The actual reading of the posts wasn't a mistake, because I got to experience the awe all over again of just how much Sam looks like Ben. If it wasn't for the hair colors I wouldn't be able to tell their baby pictures apart. No, the mistake was seeing that I used to post FIVE TO SIX TIMES A WEEK! These days I feel good if I make that many posts in a month. It kind of makes me want to smack my past self for feeling like I had no time for anything.

So, here's a semi-stream of consciousness post about what we've been doing. This week Sam's been teething and it sucks as much as it ever did. The boy who's been sleeping through the night perfectly for months has been waking up at odd hours all week. We really can't get mad at him since, like I said, he's been sleeping through the night perfectly for months and at this point in his life Ben wasn't even sleeping through the night PERIOD, BUT... it's still no fun waking up at 1:15am and then again at 5:45am.

Ben has been in day camp for 5 weeks and today was his last day. He already knew a bunch of the kids there, so he had a lot of fun. Today when I told him it was the last day he asked, "Now does school start?" He was a bit disappointed that he still has a month before school. Even though the idea of him being home all day, every day is daunting now that I'm not used to it, I'm also glad he's not in camp all summer. He obviously loves doing organized activities like that, but I think it's good to just have unorganized (or as unorganized as I can be) fun, too. We'll see how I feel next week.

I'm looking forward to this weekend because I'm unintentionally having a kid-free Saturday. I have Zumba from 9-10am, then I have a glass-blowing class from 12-4pm and then I'm meeting some friends for dinner and a movie at 5:15pm. All three things just fell together on the same day. Normally I don't like a day that's that full, but I've been feeling very trapped in the house lately, so the idea of being out so much is exciting.

Sam isn't crawling yet, but I'm hoping he starts soon. It's funny, because all the things I sort of dreaded with Ben - crawling, walking, climbing, potty training, giving up naps - I'm actually looking forward to with Sam. I've seen how all those milestones made my life easier and I can't wait for my life to be easier again. At least physically. As the physical labor goes down, the mental and emotional labor goes up, but I'm better at that stuff. And while Ben is still in the terrible threes (worse than the twos by a long shot), I keep catching small glimpses that he might start calming down a bit when he's four. He still usually freaks out when he doesn't get his way, but occasionally he'll just accept what I say and move on. And he's starting to be able to delay gratification, which means now it sometimes WORKS when I say, "If you're a good boy in the store you can have a Popsicle when we get home." A little bit of logic is starting to seep into his brain, which is AMAZING. It's natural for an adult to want to use logic with a child, but they just don't get it when they're so young. To be able to utilize it is amazing. And even though he technically "doesn't nap" anymore, he stills put himself down for a nap a few times a week. He'll even tell me, "I'm tired so I'm going to take a nap during Quiet Time." It's actually easier to get him to take a nap now that he "doesn't nap." Sometimes his maturity astounds me, and I try to remember those times when he collapses in a heap of whining and crying because he doesn't want to brush his teeth.

Well, I think that's enough rambling for today. Have a good weekend!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Recent pictures

 He doesn't seem too impressed with swinging

 Feet are a delicacy in this house

Having fun in his brother's pirate hat

Obligatory baby-with-food-all-over-his-face pic

I love the way the sunlight catches his hair.

I finally got a decent shot of the teeth! Bonus weird face!

Ben's new thing is eating under the table

Sam looks concerned that Ben's armed

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Gender Bending

As I posted a few weeks ago, I painted Ben's toenails at his request. Only minutes after I finished he wistfully said, "I wish we could paint our fingernails, too." Since Uncle Todd and Aunt Sarah's wedding was the next day, and I wasn't sure how they'd like a ring bearer with red fingernails, I told Ben we could do it after the wedding. I wasn't sure he'd remember, but he did, so the next week I painted his fingernails red. A few days after that I was going through my jewelry box and found an anklet I'd forgotten I had, so I put it on. Ben saw that and asked for one, too. I found a bracelet that would fit around his ankle and there we were: Mother and son with painted nails and matching anklets.

This is something that would probably make a lot of people uncomfortable, but I'm actually having the opposite reaction. I'm giddy because my son is asking for things based on his interest and enjoyment. It's another one of those proud mothering moments, because it means that so far I've been able to stick to my morals and not restrict Ben's idea of gender. That's something that's very important to me, because I don't want my children to be restricted by what's between their legs. Sexism is bad for men as well as women, because it puts everyone into these little boxes that don't necessarily have anything to do with what we're really like as individuals. And I'll admit, with Ben's love of trains and cars and construction equipment I was kind of afraid I'd completely lost him to "stereotypical boy land." There's absolutely nothing wrong with those things, but I was concerned that I hadn't done enough to make it clear that he can play with or be whatever he wants. But apparently I was wrong.

It's not like he got his nails painted and suddenly only wanted to play tea party with dolls. No, he got his nails painted and then promptly got them all chipped up running around on the playground like a crazy person. He just wanted pretty nails while he did it. And I've been very pleased with the reactions he's gotten, which have either been positive or none at all. There's been only one negative reaction and that was from a girl in playgroup who said boys can't have painted nails. Ben reported that to me, but didn't seem phased by it and when she said it again in my presence I just simply said that anyone can have their nails painted.

I feel very hipster, liberal feminist for being so proud of this... But I always wonder if my boys are catching on to what's important to me, and it makes me happy to know that in this instance Ben has. That being said, he's not even four yet, so I've had it pretty easy. He's gone to one year of preschool, but it's a very nurturing school and his best friend at school ALSO paints his nails, so we haven't come up against much gender stereotyping yet. And maybe we won't. We live in a pretty liberal area (though in a conservative state), so I doubt too many people would make a stink about a boy's painted nails. We'll see. At this point pretty much all the polish has chipped off and he hasn't asked for more, so perhaps it was just a one-time thing. But at least he knows that if he wants some in the future he can ask.

Monday, June 25, 2012

He's discovered the question, "Why?"

Scene: Ben is getting dressed.

Ben: I'm wearing pants today.

Me: No, you need to wear shorts.

Ben: Why?

Me: Because it's hot out.

Ben: Why?

Me: Why what?

Ben: Why is it hot out?

Me: Because it's summer.

Ben: Why?

Me: Why is it summer?

Ben nods. I sigh.

Me: Because at this time of year our side of the planet is tilted toward the sun and the sun is very hot so it makes our area hot.

Ben: Ok.

Ben puts on shorts.

Friday, June 22, 2012

And now, the exciting conclusion...

Wednesday night we went to a picnic with some of our old classmates. About half the people have kids, so we met in a pavilion right by a playground. Ben was having a great time playing while we were catching up with old friends. Then he ran up and said he had to use the bathroom. I was very glad he did, because sometimes when he's running around with other kids he's too excited and just forgets until it's too late. I happily accompanied him to the bathroom, where he pooped and then we went back to the party.

About five minutes later he came back and said he had to poop again. I was a little frustrated, since I've been trying to express to him that he needs to get ALL the pee and poop out when he uses the toilet, so we don't do this back and forth dance for 20 minutes. However, he was listening to his body, so once again we trudged to the bathroom and once again he pooped.

Five minutes after THAT he was back again. This time I was very frustrated and I said I would take him, but I finished up a conversation before we went. By now I should know better, right? I do anything for my own pleasure at my own peril. And finishing up that conversation meant that BEN POOPED IN HIS PANTS.

WTF, internet? Seriously, WTF? My almost-four-year-old who has NEVER ONCE POOPED IN HIS PANTS in the year he's been potty trained POOPED IN HIS PANTS after having already gone twice in the last 15 minutes.

Am I getting too uppity? What's the lesson here? Why am I being tortured with poop?

So only three days after Sam's poop fireworks (see previous post) there I am, kneeling in a park restroom trying to wipe poop off Ben's underwear. Again I considered it for about two seconds before throwing the underwear away. I've NEVER thrown away clothes because of poop and then I did it twice in a matter of days.

Of course the kicker is that Ben, giddy from going commando in public, pulled down his pants to show another little girl that he didn't have any underwear. Awesome.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

He better get a 4.0

Sam's definitely an overachiever, for he has topped himself once again in the poop department.

Picture it: Father's Day, 9:00am. We're just sitting down to breakfast at a diner we like and Heath fishes Sam out of his carrier. As he picks Sam up I notice a telling stain dripping down his shorts. STEALTH POOPER STRIKES AGAIN! And even though usually on the weekends I make Heath take care of the poop, it was Father's Day so I threw myself on the grenade.

Wonderfully, the little diner we like so much doesn't have a changing table in the bathroom. *sigh* So I dragged Sam out to the car (holding him at arm's length the whole time) and set up shop in the trunk (thank goodness for SUV's).

The first thing I realized was that there was a lot of poop in his shorts and there was no way I was getting them off without smearing it EVERYWHERE. So I bit the bullet and pulled them off, coating his legs in his own excrement. And of course a 7 month old won't stop kicking his legs just because they're covered in feces, so it was really a lovely sight. I'm sure everyone in the packed parking lot appreciated it.

At this point in the story I want to take a moment to thank my grandmother. She had the foresight to give me a plastic bag dispenser for the car and it REALLY came in handy during this situation. Thanks, Grandma! :)

So, I opened up the diaper and discovered that somehow Sam had managed to poop directly OUT of the diaper. The middle of it wasn't even soiled. He's learned how to defy physics! This does not bode well for me.

I managed to subdue his kicking legs and clean him off. Luckily I'd just put a new package of wipes in the diaper bag, otherwise we'd have lost Russian roulette. I contemplated what to do with the shorts for about two seconds and then I chucked them in the trash. Not worth it.

I think this kid is trying to break my spirit. He's pooping 3-4 times a day and now there's no break. It's just poop all the time. That is what my life is right now. Cleaning up other people's poop (and cat vomit).

And now I think my children are ganging up on me. But that's a story for another day...

(Ooohh, cliff hanger!)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Personality 101

I've talked a lot about Ben being an extrovert and it's because so much of what makes him happy and comfortable is exactly the opposite of what makes me happy and comfortable. I see an empty park and I sigh with relief. He sees an empty park and doesn't even want to play. It puts us at odds a lot, so it's something that's on my mind.

However, I'm guessing that in a lot of ways, parenting an extroverted child is easier. I never have to goad him to play with other kids. He was never uncomfortable going to school. We rarely have to deal with him being shy. I almost feel like I'm being "racist" against my own people saying that, but it's true.

It will be ironic if I get my wish and Sam is an introvert, because though I know how to be an introvert, I'm sure parenting one is a whole different thing. At least I'll understand when he just wants to sit and read on a bench while Ben's running wild at the playground. But now I also understand why my parents forced me to do a year of soccer and a year of softball and a year of dance. None of those activities really stuck, but they forced me out of my head for a little while.

However, the fact is, I'm not ready to make a call on Sam's introverted vs. extroverted personality. He's definitely calmer than I remember Ben being, and sometimes when he's a little fussy or squirmy he just wants to sit by himself. He plays well on his own for a while, but ultimately he wants to be with us most of the time. So who knows. It's going to be interesting to see what he's like as he gets older, and how he and Ben interact and bounce off each other.

Friday, June 8, 2012

It's not a mommy blog if I don't talk about poop once in a while, so fasten your seat belts folks...

My baby has a super power! Sam is... STEALTH POOPER! Able to defecate and disguise the smell until the diaper is opened! Seriously, I'd say 60% of the time I never know Sam's pooped until I start changing his diaper. Have you ever been surprised by poop? It's not fun, in ANY context.

It doesn't help that there's no rhyme or reason to his "schedule." At this age Ben reliably pooped once a day, usually in the morning. Sam won't poop for a week and then it's like the excrement carnival came to town. And it's always at the most inconvenient times. At the playground, in the middle of a movie, on a long walk. Basically any time we're NOT AT HOME. At home we have an almost unlimited number of wet wipes. But, no, Sam wants to play Russian roulette and see if my feeble pack of wipes runs out at the zoo.

The worst was a few weeks ago. We were at a friend's wedding and I took Sam out of his car seat to feed him. I set him on the crisp, white tablecloth and scooted him back a little so he wouldn't tumble off. I'm sure you can see where this is going. I noticed a peculiar stain coming from his butt and sure enough, his diaper had leaked and I'd proceeded to smear it all over the place. So, Heath took Sam to the bathroom while I tried to clean up the mess at the table. I wiped and wiped at it, but it wasn't very effective, so eventually I gave up and just put a plate over it. On a completely unrelated note, I'm suddenly realizing why people might decide not to invite children to their weddings.

UPDATE: That was the worst when I started writing this post yesterday, but Sam has topped himself! The boy is nothing if not ambitious. We went to the pool yesterday afternoon (I can already hear your groans). After swimming I took the boys into the bathroom so Ben could go and I could change Sam into a dry diaper. I neglected to grab the wipes from my bag because Sam had taken a giant poop before we left the house (occasionally he throws me a bone and poops at home), so he couldn't POSSIBLY poop again, right? Horribly, horribly wrong. Do you know what's worse than white-wedding-tablecloth poop? Watered-down-pool poop. So I'm frantically grabbing paper towels, hoping Sam doesn't roll off the changing table and listening to Ben whine at me to pull up his wet swim suit. It must not have been comfortable having his butt wiped with dry paper towels, but Sam just grinned up at me the whole time. I'm sure he was thinking: STEALTH POOPER STRIKES AGAIN!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

A pat on my back

As a stay-at-home mom it can be very difficult to know when I'm doing a good job. After all, what is my job? It's to raise my children and help them become good people. That's not exactly a goal that gives me weekly progress reports and promising statistics. It's very hard to quantify "turning someone into a decent human being."

Honestly, most days I feel like I'm doing an awful job. I let Ben play the iPad too much. Sam's clothes are always covered in spit up and drool. I'm not consistent enough in my rules and punishments. I never come up with fun games or projects or adventures for us to do. I yell and get annoyed too often. There's no boss to swing by my desk and tell me she likes my work (and I'm getting a raise!). So I take my solace where I can get it, if Ben says "Thank you" without a prompting, or if I make Sam laugh.

But sometimes I get a big thumbs up from the universe. Ben's been taking soccer classes all year and recently graduated up to the class without a parent. We get to watch and I've been utterly delighted. Not by his soccer skills, but because he's one of the best behaved kids in the class. He always listens to the teacher, follows directions and he rarely runs off to do his own thing. It makes me proud to watch him out there. Proud of him for being such a good student and proud of me because I DID THAT.

Friday, May 18, 2012

An experience I didn't think I'd have

Heath's brother Todd is getting married tomorrow, so Wednesday night I decided to get a pedicure with blue nail polish to match my dress. When Ben saw my toes he said, "You have such pretty toes!" Then this morning he asked if he could have his toenails painted. Not one to shut down a reasonable desire, even if it crosses gender lines, I said of course I'd paint his toenails, after school.

So, that's just what we did. Sam was napping and I painted Ben's toenails red. And in true Ben fashion after I was finished he said, "Your toenails are like Thomas [the train] and my toenails are like James." (Blue and red trains, respectively.)


Monday, May 14, 2012

Half a year!

Sam is six months old today and he had his check-up:

Weight: 19 lbs. 11 oz - 90th percentile
Height: 28 in. - 95th percentile
Head circumference: 44 cm - 75th percentile

I thought for sure he'd be over 20 pounds. Though he has super chunky thighs, he still seems like a small boy to us. However, as the pediatrician said, we have a warped idea of what's normal. (At six months Ben was over 23 pounds.) I never imagined my second baby would be so much smaller than my first. It's just a reminder than even though it looks like I gave birth to identical twins three years apart, they are very much their own people.

Sam's doing great. He's starting to unsteadily sit up on his own, which is very exciting. This is my favorite time during the first year, this period from about six to eight months when he's interested in exploring toys, but still not independently mobile. Of course, Sam obviously wants to be wherever his big brother is, so he might explore locomotion sooner. He's not showing signs of it yet, but who knows. We may have a crawler on our hands in a couple months. Oy.

Now at six months Sam is going to enter the exciting world of food with flavor! First up are pureed veggies. I know we all went through this and just can't remember, but how amazing would it be to experience every food for the first time? Sam doesn't even have any idea how amazing his life is about to get. I think that's one of the draws of parenthood. You don't truly get to experience these things for the first time again, but watching your child go through it is almost better. It's all the excitement without all the stress.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

I do not think it means what you think it means

Scene: For some reason Ben thinks the Nike swoosh symbol means "power." He went to put on his dark coat.

Ben: This is my black power coat.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

I couldn't come up with anything remotely clever pertaining to teeth that I hadn't already used

Sam's first tooth popped through! No photographic evidence yet, as you can barely see it, but it's definitely there. The thing about baby teeth is that they're SHARP. He can't eat Cheerio's yet, but he could slice the flesh right off my finger with no problem.

The thing about teething is that IT SUCKS. Sam hasn't been quite as grumpy as when he was sick, which is good, but he still hasn't been his normal charming self. Charming people don't consistently wake up before 6am. Or, if they do, they don't force you to get up and make them breakfast. They make you breakfast. And bring it to you. At a reasonable hour. My mantra these days is, "It's a phase. It's a phase. It's a phase."

Monday, May 7, 2012

Picture round up


Future profession: Used car salesman

Carrying his bear in a pack like I sometimes carry Sam

So happy!

What cute boys we make

Our Easter Eggs

With Grandpa on Easter - If only Ben had been looking at the camera

Showing off our creations

This is Sam's natural position - He's going to take off at any moment!

Ben's new bike!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Perfectionism

In so many ways Ben is a Little Heath. They have similar temperaments and similar interests. However, every so often I see evidence that he's my son, too (aside from the fact that he CAME OUT OF ME). Ben has always been a very meticulous kid. He likes to line things up just so and if you mess with something he's organized he gets very perturbed. That is so me.

Lately it's been turning into perfectionism. He was drawing on his Magna Doodle and I noticed that one of the shapes he made looked like an uppercase "D." I pointed it out and asked if he wanted to try to draw it again. He did it a few more times and did it pretty well. So I asked if he wanted to learn other letters and he said "E". He did that one okay and then he asked to learn how to write "Ben." I was getting pretty excited because I was teaching him something and he was interested in learning. "N" went okay, but it all broke down with "B." Admittedly, it's a hard letter to write, with the two bumps, but when he couldn't do it perfectly the first time he got SO MAD. (That's more Heath than me. I'll usually give it a few tries before I want to give up.) He said, "I'm not good at this!" So we had our first talk about practicing and getting better. The interesting thing is that he didn't want to give up. He wanted to get it right. He tried it a few more times, but he was getting really frustrated so I made him stop.

I'm sad that he has this burden of perfectionism, because it's a hard road to travel, but it's a trait Heath and I both share so he had little chance of avoiding it. But at least this means he'll probably be a hard worker in school. I'd much rather make a kid stop studying and goof off than have to fight him to do homework every night.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Project Napless update

As you may remember, a few weeks ago I decided to stop making Ben takes naps. It hasn't gone... quite as I planned. After lunch every afternoon we have quiet time and it's Ben's least favorite part of the day. He hates being in his room by himself, so I've been trying to stress that we're both having quiet time and he can have fun in his room for an hour and then I'll come get him. Most days he starts bawling even before I close the door. And then...?

He falls asleep.

He would rather take a nap than be by himself (awake) for an hour. Intellectually I understand it (him being the extrovert), but it still boggles my mind. He doesn't take a nap every day and some days he accepts quiet time more gracefully than others. He's generally been in better spirits since we started this and he's going to bed pretty easily. So maybe he still needs a nap, but only a few times a week.

The nice thing is that now, for me at least, it's a glass half full situation. Before, I expected him to take a nap and when he didn't it ruined my day. Now, I don't expect him to nap, so when he does it's a treat. Win!

Monday, April 30, 2012

There and Back Again

We took our first big road trip as a family of four this weekend. Unfortunately it was for my grandfather's funeral. He was 88 years old and had a good life filled with children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. The thing I'll remember most about him is his joy. I'm sure he had his worries and bad days just like everyone else, but I can only remember him smiling. In fact, as I was listening to the pastor speak during the service I could hear my grandfather's laughter. I'm very sad I'll never get to see him again, but I have fond memories.

At first Heath and I discussed me flying up to Wisconsin alone, but a funeral isn't something you want to attend without your family. In fact, though it was a sad occasion, overall it was a good trip because we got to visit relatives we don't see very often. My grandma got to see Ben again and meet Avery and Sam for the first time. Plus, my dad was surrounded by his children and grandchildren at his father's funeral and we supported him with our presence.

The boys were very good on the trip. It took over 10 hours of driving each way, but we didn't have too much fussiness (thanks - in Ben's case - to the three viewings of Toy Story on the drive up). They both slept in the car at least part of the time and we managed to stop enough to avoid the "I have to use the potty" moment, which would give us 2-3 minutes to find a suitable place. I'm glad our three year old didn't have to pee on the side of the highway. Or, worse yet, in a bottle in the car.

Honestly, I'm glad we took this trip. It was very tiring for Heath and me (physically and emotionally), but we managed to throw together a 10+ hour road trip with two young children in one day and everything turned out fine. To a worrier and a planner like me, that seems almost impossible, but it was a good lesson.

I'll miss you, Papa.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Hungry, hungry herbivore

Sam has ventured into the world of "solid" food! He's had his first tastes of rice cereal and oatmeal and he likes them! He happily gobbles down two tablespoons at a time, which I know doesn't seem like a lot, but just imagine if your stomach was the size of a quarter*. In a few weeks, after his six month check up, we'll start pureed veggies and fruit and then we'll venture into softer adult foods. Yea! This is exciting, since it signals the waning of the formula era. Formula is expensive and gross and it's a pain in the ass to drag around all the time. Of course, it does mean the dawning of the Finding Cheerio's in Baby Fat Rolls era.


*I actually have no idea what size Sam's stomach is. Hyperbole is the BEST THING EVER!


Bib reads: My mommy is so going to blog this
He's so right.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Three and binky free

We're finally free. Ben no longer uses a pacifier! It's been long overdue, but the final straw was the dentist. Ben kept accumulating a lot of tartar on his bottom teeth and I think it was from sleeping with the binky. So, since Ben's been expressing interest in a new bike and he's almost outgrown his tricycle, Heath hatched a plan. We decided Ben could pay for a new bike with his binkies. When we broached the idea with him he seemed very receptive. We stressed that the binkies would be gone, but he was very focused on the new bike (which was the idea). I suppose he saw the writing on the wall, since a month or two ago I bought him a book called Pacifiers Aren't Forever. And when we started Project Napless I said if he fell asleep during quiet time that was okay, but he couldn't have binkies.

So Wednesday night we headed out to the local bike shop. Ben took to the two wheeler right away. It had training wheels, so he climbed right up and started riding around the store. He was super excited. The salesman really played along and told Ben the bike cost four binkies. Ben handed them over without a second thought and rode out of the store.

As bedtime approached I could tell he was realizing what he'd done. He didn't mention it specifically, but he got sad and started whining a little bit. But then a miracle occurred: He went right to sleep. No crying, no jumping out of bed, nothing. He did come into our room at 2am, wanting Heath to come sleep with him, but he did that even when he had binkies. Ever since then he's been fine. He's only mentioned the binkies once and he's had no trouble sleeping.

The morale of this story is that kids do things at their own pace. If we'd tried to do this when Ben was one or maybe even two, I think it would've gone much worse. Lots of crying and sleepless nights. But at three and a half he was ready to give up the binky and he just needed a little nudge from us.

And a new bike.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Sicko

Ben has always been a really good patient. He doesn't complain much when he's sick. We've never had problems giving him medication. He barely notices when he gets shots. It's been one of the delightful surprises of his childhood.

I think we're in for a whole different ballgame with Sam. Ben generously shared his cold, so for the past week Sam's been coughing and sneezing and running a fever off and on. He's been SUCH a complainer. Though he can't speak words yet, he's definitely getting his meaning across with almost constant whining. "Mommy, I'm sick. Daddy, I don't feel well. PAY ATTENTION TO ME! I'M SICK!" He's been pretty pathetic.

Saturday I finally took him to the doctor because he wasn't eating very much and his fever kept popping up. It was awful. The nurse practitioner wanted to check his ears for infection, but there was too much wax. First she tried to dig it out with this little tool, but that wasn't cutting it, so she had to flush his ears with water. Oh, let me tell you, he definitely let us know how he felt about that. Another nurse was holding his head, I was holding down his arms and legs and he was SCREAMING BLOODY MURDER.

The end result was that he did have an ear infection and some pretty serious congestion with wheezing. In addition to antibiotics she gave us this inhaler with a pediatric face mask. Awesome. Not as bad as the ear flushing, but at least the crying does mean he takes big breaths and gets the medication into his lungs.

He's starting to get better now, thank goodness. He finally ate his regular six ounce bottle at lunch today. It's not like he's a small guy, but it makes mommies very nervous when their babies won't eat, no matter their size. And he's getting back to his normal, smiley self. Not looking forward to the next time he's sick.

Friday, April 6, 2012

We're in trouble

Yesterday we went to Build-A-Bear with Uncle Ian, Aunt B and Avery. It was a new experience for Ben, so he was a little overwhelmed, but when I told him he could pick out which animal he wanted he was pretty decisive. He picked Truman the Tiger, which is Heath's and my alma mater mascot. I asked if he was sure and he said yes. So we went through the whole process: getting his sound (roar), stuffing him and putting a heart inside (gag me), giving him a "bath," picking an outfit (Lightning McQueen pajamas) and making him a birth certificate.

Ben's not usually big on stuffed animals, but he's been pretty inseparable from his new tiger. He slept with him last night. And then this morning over breakfast he started talking about a "transformer machine," which you put things into and then they turn into something else. Sound familiar?

Uh oh.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Letting go

I cannot believe I'm going to type this, let alone THINK it, but I'm going to stop making Ben take naps. For three and a half years nap time has been my refuge. The bulk of my time alone and time to relax has been during nap time. But yesterday this happened:

Ben took a long nap - almost three hours. Then he wanted to play pirate, so he donned his pirate gear and hid treasure all over the house. The final step in the process involved me drawing a map of all the places he hid the treasure. First was the refrigerator and when I showed him my drawing he was less than pleased. I'm still not exactly sure what was wrong with it, but even though I tried to explain that I can't draw very well and that was the best I could do, it still turned into a 15 minute crying fit. Because I drew the refrigerator wrong.

That was basically the last straw. I've been noticing that his mood after naps is pretty bad and on the days he doesn't nap he seems fine. It really pains me to give up his naps, but I'd rather have a happy boy than a grumpy boy. I'm afraid it's going to lead to an even grumpier Mommy, but I have the beginnings of a plan. First off is Quiet Time. He'll still have it for an hour every afternoon, to conveniently coincide with Sam's afternoon nap. Then I think we'll start Computer Time. I signed up for this educational website called Starfall.com. He's played the demo before and enjoyed it, so I got him access to the entire site. That way I can have another hour where he's occupied, but he's not just watching TV or playing stupid games. After that I'm not sure. That might get us to 3:00. Sigh.

Let's try to look on the bright side, shall we: This will open up the afternoon for running errands. We don't have to worry about getting him home from something so he can take a nap. It's the first step toward getting him off the pacifier (which he still uses to sleep). Plus, when he doesn't nap he goes to bed earlier and easier.

So this is a good thing, right?

Right?

Sigh.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Am I already this out of date?

Ben has been using the iPod and other touch screen devices since he was about 18 months old. So now, two years later, he's very good at it. One of his favorite iPad games is Angry Birds. In the game you have to fling birds with a slingshot at pigs in various types of structures. The goal is to knock down all the pigs. It's a good game for him because he has to aim and judge distance and trajectory.

He plays it a lot and this morning we were playing together. I was attempting to pass a level and since I don't play it very much I failed. Ben gently took the iPad from my lap and said, "This one's pretty hard for you, Mom. I can do it."

And the sad thing was, he did.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Four months!

At four months Sam's entering the big baby race:

Weight: 17 lbs. 9 oz. (that means he's gained 10 lbs. 1 oz. since he was born) - 90th percentile
Length: 26 in. - 85th percentile
Head circumference: 41.5 cm - 50th percentile

So his head size is holding steady, but his weight and height shot up in the percentages. He's wearing 6-9 month clothing and is threatening to grow out of it soon. But we're used to big, fast growing babies in our family.

I mentioned how Sam discovered his hands and now he's discovering that they can be used for more than just sucking. Babies this age are like drunk people. When he sees something he likes he grins, drools and makes a grunting noise. Then he bats and grabs at the thing, usually missing it and possibly falling forward. At least he's a happy drunk. As long as he's not tired and he's been fed he's very agreeable. He's much more aware of people and his surroundings, but he doesn't have preferences yet. So Sam recognizes me, but I can hand him off to someone else and he's just as happy.

His sleeping continues to be good. He doesn't sleep through the night every night, but we're at about half and half. I'm not nearly as zombie-like as I was when Ben was this age, but zombie-ness does have its advantages. Zombies just stagger through life, not worrying about anything, and when I was utterly sleep deprived that's how I was. However, when I get almost-but-not-quite-enough sleep I get really grumpy. So I've just been unpleasant for the last four months. Ask Heath, I'm sure he'll back me up on that.


Friday, March 9, 2012

The Cult of the Helicopter Parent

For anyone not parenting right now, you might not be aware that the expectations for parenting have become much more "hands on." Gone are the days of (as my mother said) throwing your kids out of the house until lunch and then throwing them out of the house again until dinner. It's partly due to fear of kidnapping*, partly due to the fact that a lot of households are two income, so kids are at daycare and partly due to this idea that you should be entertaining/providing "teaching moments" for your kids all the time. I read an article recently that claimed working mothers today spend more time with their children than stay-at-home mothers did in the 50's. I don't know if that's actually true, but it seems possible.

At first I bought into all that. Of course, you can't really leave an infant alone very long, but you don't always have to be entertaining him. However, with Ben I pretty much did that. Sometimes I would work around the house with him as my shadow, but usually I'd wait until he was asleep or Heath was home to finish the bulk of my chores. As you can imagine that was both tiring and boring, and it also taught Ben that we'll ALWAYS play with him. So lately I've been trying to do some re-training and teach Ben to play by himself. It hasn't been easy because he's like Heath - he never wants to be alone. Just yesterday he chose to sit in the bathroom and do nothing while I took a shower, rather than play in his room by himself for 10 minutes.

Right now we're in that in-between stage where he's not quite ready to give up his afternoon naps, but sometimes he's not tired enough for one. So on those days we have a rule that if he doesn't nap he has one hour of quiet time in his room. At first it was a disaster. "Quiet time" was really "crying time." Then he stopped the crying, but he would scream and yell and jump on his bed. Now I think we've finally gotten to the point where he understands and is usually fairly good with it. He'll play in his room by himself, but he has yet to make it an entire hour without calling for me or coming out of his room.

I've also been trying to play with him less throughout the day. Even typing that sentence feels so WRONG, like all the other parents are judging me. But considering that I used to play with him ALL DAY LONG, I'm trying to be fine with it. He's pretty content sometimes to play by himself if I'm in the same room. So if I'm doing dishes or cooking he'll color or play Play-Doh at the kitchen table. If I'm folding laundry in the living room, he'll play trains, etc. Most of the time he still expects us to entertain him, but he's getting better. Even extroverts need to learn how to be by themselves sometimes.

I hope I can continue this in my parenting, encouraging independence despite pressure from society or other parents to keep an eye on my kids at all times. We live in a safe neighborhood, with a nice playground two blocks away and Ben's future elementary school just down the street. I feel like he should be able to walk or bike around by himself by third or fourth grade. I just don't know if he'll have any other kids to walk or bike with.


*Seriously. I've talked to a lot of different mothers in the past three and a half years and the vast majority are very reluctant to let their kids out of their sight for any length of time for this reason.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Finally!

Babies change so much in their first year of life. Every few weeks it's like you have a new child. Just in the last week Sam has discovered his hands and they are the new loves of his life! Last time I did a Sam update he wasn't smiling too much, but in the past month he's become a really smiley guy. But I hadn't been able to snap a picture of him smiling because every time I got out the camera he would give it this hard stare, like he was trying to figure it out - Until today! I managed to catch him smiling, though he refuses to be parted from his hands (ha!), so they make guest appearances:



True Love

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Bubble = Burst

When we first brought Sam home, Ben's Daddy Favoritism flared up again really badly, but it's waned to a tolerable amount in the last three months. And last week when Heath was on a business trip Wednesday-Friday Ben was a lot more affectionate with me than normal. I knew it was just because Heath was gone, but I still enjoyed it.

However, the specter of Daddy Favoritism is always looming above our heads. On Friday morning we were in the car and the following conversation took place:

Me: Ben, Daddy will be home tomorrow!

Ben: Yeah. I wish you were gone.

Me: What do you mean? You wish I was gone instead of Daddy?

Ben: Yeah.

Ouch.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Somewhere in my youth or childhood I must've done something good

Today is an historic day. Last night our second born, Samuel Donald Borders... SLEPT THROUGH THE NIGHT! It wasn't even the wussy 5-6 hours "sleeping through the night" that baby books count. It was full on 9pm-7:45am sleeping through the night! At three months! Yes! *fist pump*

Now I'm about to do that comparison thing I'm so iffy on, because sleeping was our biggest issue with Ben when he was a baby. Ben didn't sleep through the night once until he was five months old. Then it was four more months until he did it again. Nine looong months of waking up multiple times a night, long after almost everyone else's kid slept through the night.

I'm so glad I had the hard one first, because I'm soooooo grateful for Sam's good sleeping habits. He might not sleep through the night every night from now on, but I don't think it's going to be the fight it was with Ben.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

World's Best Brother

Even though we had a pretty rocky start, with sickness and moodiness, I'm so happy and proud with the way Ben has adjusted to Sam's presence. Even in the very beginning he never took his negative feelings out on Sam. Ben has loved him right from the start.

At first he liked helping us wash out the bottles, but that ended pretty quickly. However, he hugs and kisses Sam all the time, tells him, "It'll be okay, Sam," when he's crying and introduces Sam to his various toys. Naturally there are still times when he feels jealous and tells us to put Sam down and play with him. I've tried to explain to Ben that after he wakes up from his nap and Sam's still sleeping, that's the time I can give him my full attention. He hasn't quite grasped that concept yet, though, and always asks to watch TV during that time. Then later he gets mad when I can't play trains because I have to feed Sam. We're working on it.

The cutest thing happened a few weekends ago, when we took them both to the YMCA nursery for the first time. Apparently the entire time they were in there Ben was protecting Sam and telling the other kids not to touch him. He's looking out for his little brother.