Many May Milestones

This month has been one for the record books!  At least in our family.  Each one of my kids has accomplished some major feats and I could not be more proud!  And also sort of terrified and nostalgic and overwhelmed.

Jade

I do not know where this kid came from!  She is something else.  This year she has participated in more activities than I have in my entire life.  Since she is the only one of my children old enough to really get involved in activities, I decided to just let her experience anything and everything.  So at one point this winter she was a gymnast, a ballerina, an ice skater, a basketball player, and an actress all at the same time.  And she loved every minute of it!

Her first year as an elementary school student culminated in many very exciting events, starting with field day.

For her school field day, each class competed on its own in 6 different events.  Three events gave the kids the possibility of placing in the top three and earning a ribbon.  Jade was awarded 1st place in all three events (the 50 yd dash, the softball throw, and long jump)!!!  Go here to watch her in action.IMG_1082

Next came her gymnastics show and ballet recital on back-to-back days.  This session she was moved up a level in gymnastics and is the youngest in her class.  She’s also the youngest in her ballet class.IMG_1134

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And last, but certainly not least, she lost her two front teeth!  It was quite a battle.  She was hanging on but the teeth wanted out and they finally won.

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Oh, and one more thing: Next week Jade will be honored by her class and her teacher at the last Student of the Month assembly of the year 🙂 Shhh…It’s still a secret, so don’t tell her!

Lochlan

I wish I had video to prove it, but Lochlan’s vocabulary has exploded this month!  He really only says a handful of words that I can understand (mom, daddy, cracker, more, and ball) but he spouts off sentences like he owns the conversation.  He knows exactly what he’s saying and he gets frustrated, I think, that I don’t get it.  Also, his hair is getting sort of crazy.  Maybe a real haircut will be another big milestone.

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Now onto the really, really big stuff…

Everest and Calder

POTTY TRAINING.

There’s not a word that describes what has been happening in my brain since the big “P” day.  And I do mean day literally.  I foolishly attempted to use Teri Crain’s Potty Train in Just One Day method.  For someone who thrives off of being in control, this is a vulnerability like I’ve never felt before.  Potty training twin boys!

“The day” actually went surprisingly well.  As you can see, I was prepared.  And I was determined.  I had a small window of opportunity to make this happen while Jade was at school and Lochlan was at Grandma’s.

IMG_1030Our *Potty Party* started, of course, with gifts.  And what better gift to give a child than a Disney stuffed animal wearing a diaper.

The goal, of course, is to have the child tell their new doll that its time to get rid of the baby diapers and to teach them how to use the potty.  Both Goofy and Donald successfully mastered their first attempt (using a medicine syringe filled with water) and were rewarded by big boy undies!  Calder and Everest were so proud that they helped their new friends choose a reward sticker and put on their new underwear to watch a movie. IMG_1035

Now it was time for the twins to try!  This is what the next 9 hours looked like…

IMG_1034Only sometimes the sippy cups were filled with chocolate milk, juice, or pop…

And sometimes they switched potty chairs.

What a day!  After a few hours Everest was our first success story.  By the end of the day they each had half their chart filled up, and by day 3 (yeah yeah, I know it was only supposed to take 24 hours) they’d filled them completely.

IMG_1036I can’t say that my twins are “Potty trained” per se — What does it even mean when someone says “It worked for my kid!” ? — We’ve been at it for a week now and, while they haven’t put a diaper on since, I’m pretty sure pullups accomplish the same goal.  They know I’m not going to risk it and since we try not to sit at home on the potty watching TV every day they have spent most of their days/nights in these cop-out undies.

The good news is May has also been a month of many baths.

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The Insomniac Child

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Ever since my little Calder was an infant it has been a real struggle to get him to bed at night.  The twins have always shared a room, but when we first put them in separate beds Calder began his nightly ritual of screaming himself hoarse.  Luckily, at the time our closest neighbors were about a half a mile away so no one reported us.

Despite the lack of sleep, I do have fond memories of cuddling with my little boy as he stared at me, refusing to close his eyes.  I remember one night when he was about 18 months old that I sat in the rocker with him sprawled across my lap, gazing wide-eyed into my face, my arms falling asleep, and thought he’s so big, I’m not going to be able to do this for much longer. 

Eventually his terrified howls turned into hysterical laughter.  After an hour-long bedtime routine, the lights are turned off and we slowly exit the room.  Seconds later, the laughter starts.  I peek in his room and whisper “Quiet, Calder,” and the giggles instantly halt.  Before I’ve taken 2 steps out of the door frame, it starts right back up.

After a few minutes the room is quiet.  But then we hear a soft creak in the door and look to see two little eyes peeping through the crack.  As I start towards his room, he turns to run and I hear a fast pitter-patter as he jumps back into bed.  When I enter the room, I approach the bed and kneel beside it.  I whisper, “Calder, everyone is sleeping.  Can you go to sleep too?”  “Yes,” he says.  “You promise?”  “Promise,” he replies.  “Okay…I love you.  Goodnight”.

You can guess how this goes on for the next hour or so.  Promises mean nothing to a three-year-old.  Sometimes it results in a firm pat on the bottom and a few tears shed.  Many nights the same thing happens in the middle of the night.  Aaron and I take turns going to his room and trying to coax him into falling asleep.  Once he (and we) have exhausted all our tricks, there’s nothing left to do but just wait it out.

Several days ago, this happened.  At about 3 AM, I laid in bed looking up at the ceiling with my eyes wide opened, thinking about what I needed to do the next day and if any of it required a well-rested body and mind.

Suddenly I remembered that the previous evening, as we tried “the usual” to get Calder to bed, Jade burst into a song that went something like “Go to sleep, go to sleep, you need to get your re-e-est…”, to the tune of — what else? — Let it Go.  Aaron and I laughed and tried to continue with the song.

And that night, at 3 AM, I did continue the song.  And this is what transpired:

The light still shines through my window tonight.
Jammies on and teeth are brushed,
lullabies of twinkling stars, ABC’s and babies hushed.
The sun is setting but I’m still awake inside.
Couldn’t close my eyes even if I tried.

I need a drink, my diaper’s wet,
there’s a monster underneath my bed.
One more light on so I can see, Mom, please.

Stay awake, stay awake, don’t wanna sleep anymore.
Stay awake, stay awake, don’t know what this beds for.
Parents still watching TV.
Maybe Oso’s on…
I don’t think sleeping is for me.

Funny how the darkness makes everything more fun,
but despite my curiosity I can’t play with anyone.

Brother, wake up and play with me.
It’s more fun than your bed, you’ll see.
We’ll play dress up with our dirty laundry.

Stay awake, stay awake, I’m having so much fun.
Stay awake, stay awake, can’t be the only one.
Mom thinks its necessary,
but I’m not tired.

My bed is soaring through the air to outer space.
I’m strapped into my bright blue car and I’m ready to race.
My yellow submarine’s submerged beneath the sea.
Fire truck’s on it’s way with help to those in need.

Stay awake, stay awake, I’ll miss something if I blink.
Stay awake, stay awake, I’ll never sleep a wink.
There’s so much to do and see!
When will the sun rise?
I don’t think sleeping is for me…

I would like to take credit, but if it weren’t for my clever daughter and my insomniac son, none of this would have taken place.  Oh, how I love them!

In the days that followed, I got it in my head that this was going to be something big.  So I pondered and worked and sang and edited and three short days later…

 

 

 

I believe introductions are in order

When I started this blog I was also maintaining another more private, family blog where I’d post lots and lots of pictures of my kids, the funny things they’d say and do, and occasionally (or more than occasionally) the funny things I’d do, like become obsessed with Twilight for 5 years and re-post anything and everything Twilight (omg, did you hear that K-Stu and R-Patz are back together…again?!).  Anyway…

I had no intention of THIS blog containing things about kids.  I set out to find myself by doing a lot of soul-searching, self-analyzing and desire-exploring.  But I’ve very quickly realized that I have very little to say that doesn’t involve parenting, motherhood, homemaking, wifery and the like.  Don’t get me wrong, I have an opinion about EVERYTHING.  But when it comes to the things that really matter to me and matter in general, they mostly involve my family.  Its about time I didn’t use such vagueness in posts describing those who I love most (ie: “the daughter”).

So without further ado, I’d like to introduce…

“THE DAUGHTER”

Jade Ondrea

IMG_0167•Likes dancing, singing, prancing, skipping, anything musical, anything whimsical.

•Has an incredible talent for drawing and anything artistic really.

•She was born with an opinion (furrowed brow and all), and is a great negotiator, just like her mommy.

“THE BOYS”:

Aaron Everest (Everest)

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•The sensitive twin.  He gives the best hugs, complete with back pats.

•Formally known as “baby A”, he was born first, born bigger, and stayed bigger.

•He’s most recently developed the talent of headstands.

Calder Reed

IMG_1829 - Version 2•My midnight “cackler” with the uncontrollable laughter outbursts.  He’s got a temper like I’ve never seen, but he’s also got the world’s most contagious smile.

•He’s totally obsessed with anything space/rocket related.

•He’s the one who “likes” everything about me when its time for bed (in all honestly, Everest is the one who started this, but Calder quickly caught on that he can stay up a lot longer if he butters me up.  He’s like Jade this way).

“THE BABY”

Lochlan Bradley

DSC_0103•His first sentence was, “I’m smart, independent, and capable of doing anything my brothers can do.  Back off.”

•That’s not true, but it may as well be.  He CAN say mama, daddy, Jadie, and “cheeeese” though.

•I bet he’ll be potty trained before his brothers too.

“THE HUSBAND”

Aaron Reed

IMG_3109 - Version 2•Love him.

•Love him.

•Love him.  Oh and also…he is an incredible landscaper, fine art sculptor, basketball coach, father, and the most patient man I know.  Did I mention I love him?

As I read through this, scanning for spelling and grammatical accuracy (which we both know is impeccable), I feel like the absolute luckiest girl in the world.  My family means everything to me.  Is it so strange that I still have a sense of longing to find something?

Yesterday, Aaron gave me the opportunity to have a “me day”.  Before I left he asked me what I planned to do, and I thought…go to the grocery store?  Mail in Jade’s basketball registration form?  Go out to lunch…oh, by the way Aaron, do you want me to bring you something?  I don’t know HOW to have a “me day”.  So as I went from random place to place, I found myself just talking to everyone I saw, stranger or not, and voluntarily offering an explanation for why I was childless today.  No one cared.  But I did.

Being out in public childless is like forgetting your purse at home.  Or even worse, forgetting to wear a bra.  I think from now on even on my “me days” I will bring at least one of them along.

We’re Off To See the Wizard!

My sweet little girl has been chosen to be in our local high school’s production of “The Wizard of Oz”!  A prouder mother there has not been.  Was Halloween a manifestation of things to come?

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This is the first time in the 7 years that I’ve lived in this town that the high school has included young kids in a production.

Last week we got a flier home from school “calling 15-20 elementary school-aged kids K-5”.  As soon as I asked her if she wanted to audition she shrieked “yeeesss!”  Did she know what an audition was?  No, but come on, its the Wizard of Oz.  Not to mention she wants to do everything that could possibly be available to her (Pleeeease mom can I do soccer?…Mom I want to do piano SOOO bad!…I think skiing sounds fun).

I explained to her that she’d have to prepare a song to sing and without hesitation she said “I want to sing Do Re Mi”.  So we got grandpa on the phone and asked him what the chances were of him providing us with some piano accompaniment (my daughter comes by her talents honestly).  The chances were good, because just a couple hours later I got an email with not one but TWO different speeds of our song 🙂

She spent the next couple days practicing and practicing, but when I asked her to practice in front of dad she sheepishly declined.  And same with Grandma.  It looked like she was chickening out, but I asked her to keep practicing anyway just in case she changed her mind.

Audition day came, and she was still hesitant.  It wasn’t until 5:30pm (before the 6:30 audition time) that she decided she wanted to do it.  So we showed up and I was surprised at the number of kids that were willing to sing a solo in front of people!  Most of them were older than her, but I thought most of these kids must have been forced to come by their moms.

That wasn’t the case.  Most of the parents weren’t even aware that their children needed to come with a song prepared.  I wonder how many of the kids even knew they’d be asked to sing.  But regardless, my daughter is only 6 and she was going up against close to 50 kids up to age 11.

While the kids were on stage learning their audition dance number, the parents were filling out “bios” about our kids.  I debated whether to include my own and my parents’ credentials in HER “experience” because I thought maybe it would tip the scales in her favor.

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We all spent most of the time out in the lobby watching the kids practice “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead” over and over (and over) and waiting to be called into the auditorium.  When it was our…hmm…her turn, we entered the auditorium doors and as I walked briskly to the front my daughter tripped and fell in the aisle.  I don’t think I realized what a stage mother I am until this point, when I worried more that this would hurt “our” chances than hurt her ankle or something (she was fine by the way).

We got to the front of the auditorium and the 2 directors (one male and one female) and 1 student director motioned for her to take the stage.  She hesitated, and the male director told her she could stand on the steps instead if she’d like.

As soon as I turned on her music, any sign of nerves disappeared and she shone like a bright little 6-year-old star!  I was so proud.  And I was even more proud (almost to the point of tears) when Mr. director said at the end of her song “You have absolutely nothing to be nervous about, you have a BEAUTIFUL voice.”

When I didn’t hear anything 24 hours later, I assumed that they had made their decision and it didn’t include my daughter.  But last night, while I was awake taking care of my suddenly sick with the flu daughter and 1 year old teething infant, I checked my email.

“Welcome to Oz!” the subject said.  “We would like to extend an invitation to your daughter to join us as a Munchkin in this performance.”

I just cannot wait to sit in that audience and snap pictures of my little munchkin.  And the best part is, they didn’t even need to know about my parents’ Broadway career 🙂

She’s in the pink cardigan.

Adventures in Babysitting

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In case the mother of my most recent babysitter happens to be reading this, I first need to say you have raised an amazing young woman and she is exempt from any  “criticism” 🙂  Moving on…babysitting from multiple POV’s.

As a Parent looking for sitters

Fortunately for our family, for the majority of our married life with children we’ve had family very close by and haven’t really had to find a sitter.  Not to mention we live in a town where there’s not a lot to do on dates so there’s rarely a need.  But when we DO go out, we usually enlist the help of my wonderful MIL.  She knows and loves our kids and respects our house as much as we do, so not only can we count on her to take care of the KIDS but I trust she’s not going to be stealing from us or inviting boyfriends over while we’re gone (right, mom?).

I have only very recently realized that there is a major shortage of good babysitters out there.  The few times that we have had teenagers come to our house, I come home and find it messier than it was when I left, no diapers have been changed, and I’m $20 (or more) poorer.  More like $50 after gas and dinner.  Was it worth it?

My question is, for those of you who are in this stage, do you make obsessive-compulsive lists for your babysitters of what you want them to do?  Or do you expect them to just use common sense?

I feel like getting a babysitter puts me in a really weird position.  I still don’t feel old enough to be calling babysitters; I used to BE the babysitter not that long ago.  So when someone arrives at my house I still feel the need to communicate with them like we’re on the same level.  I hate telling them what to do because in a sense its like telling your peers what to do.  Plus I think they should just assume that if they make food they should wash the dish, or if there’s a messy diaper, it probably shouldn’t wait til I get home.

Me, as a Babysitter

When I was in middle school, my mom made me take a babysitting course that included CPR training and certification.  I’m not sure if this was just a house rule, or a state mandated law.  But I returned home from the class a qualified babysitter, ready to approach “clients” with my skills.

I was told that it was appropriate and appreciated to tell the parents how much you charge, when you’re available, and to ASK THEM what they want you to do while you’re there (ie: dishes, laundry, bathing, diapers, etc.).  If you happen to have kids toys or books, bring them.  Kids always love not to have to play with their own boring toys.

I had lots of different babysitting experiences, some for parents who already had an extremely tidy house and just needed someone who would fix dinner and make sure the kids were alive (although this was never all I did, even if it was all that was expected).  Some for parents who had a very specific list of tasks to accomplish before they got home (Wednesday: bathroom cleaning day, Thursday: laundry day, Friday: clean the wood floors day).

It seems to me that parents are not teaching their kids HOW to have responsibilities.  I think that most parents of teens, when they hear that somebody needs someone to watch their children, automatically volunteer their own teenager.  The problem is many teenagers think that babysitting is the easiest job in the world because all they have to do is SHOW UP.  Heaven forbid they do something besides turn on cartoons and text on their phones.  I never ever expected to be paid to just sit at someones house and not do anything to help them.  So my point is, if you don’t feel qualified to be a babysitter (or don’t think your teen is qualified yet), DON’T TAKE THE JOB.  It shouldn’t be the world’s easiest job.  Just like parenting, it should be a job you “show up” to and take pride in

As someone who has been “babysat”

Children are impressionable.  Just because they are young doesn’t mean they won’t remember what you do when you’re there.  I still have vivid memories of experiences I had with babysitters, good and bad.

When my parents got divorced my mom had to get a full-time job and was forced to find a full-time babysitter.  She hired a woman named Mickey.  My 7-year-old-memory of this experience may not be accurate, but this is how I saw it.  I was dropped off at Mickey’s house every morning before school, I walked to school with her kids, and returned after.  Here are my 3 most distinct memories of my experience at Mickey’s house: I used to have to take naps on her living room couch while she watched Oprah and soap operas right next to me.  One time her kids were all going to see a movie with their dad and she told me I wasn’t allowed to go.  I cracked my chin open on the side of her pool and as I waited for my mom to come pick me up and take me to the hospital, she kept yelling at me to stop crying.  My mom says Mickey was a very nice lady who made a good impression on her so I guess you never know.

I had one babysitter during a summer in North Carolina with my dad who invited her boyfriend over while she was watching us.  My friend Bryan came over to play and we caught the sitter and her boyfriend making out.  When she saw that we were “spying” she made fun of us and then dared us to kiss.  I was 8 years old.  That was my first kiss.

Everyone else

I’m very aware that especially in today’s world everyone has an opinion.  Everyone is a professional on every issue.  So there will be someone who reads this and thinks “if you have such a problem with babysitters then take care of your own kids”.

May I remind you that I am a 99% stay-at-home mom.  The other 1% is the date or two that I go on each month to keep my marriage in tact (which is rare these days).  Because as much as I love my children, there will be a day when they leave the house and my husband and I are left with whatever remains of our relationship (which I hope is every bit as blissful as it was when he proposed to me).

I’ve come to realize that you can love your children with every bit of your heart, but still need a moment or two away from them.  And the truth is that they need time away from you too.  It doesn’t make me a bad parent to leave my kids with someone else once in a while.

All I’m saying is that if you are marketing yourself as a babysitter, whatever your age, you’d better be prepared for the requirements.  And parents, teach your children (before they become know-it-all teens who are unteachable, like I know I was) the life skills they need to become a babysitter BEFORE you unleash them into someone else’s home to take care of their most precious things.

 

Children Are Like Zombies

ZombieKidsI’ve put a lot of thought into this.  And while the comparison is pretty gruesome, the similarities are uncanny.  So don’t let these sweet stares fool you.

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Fortunately, unlike actual undead zombies, most children grow out of these habits around age 8 (so I hear).  Earlier if you’re lucky.  But for the rest of us who have to live with these creatures for what seems like an eternity, here are 10 things to look out for that may help you get through the Zombie years with your brain in tact.  Or at least let you know you’re not alone.

1. A closed door is the only thing that will keep them off of you.  Besides reason #2, this is what first tipped me off.  Its most obvious when you’ve got at least 3 little movers and they are all coming at you at once.  Sometimes I just need to go into the bathroom to grab a tissue, and within milliseconds, suddenly they are all over the place!  One on my leg, one in the toilet, 2 climbing onto the sink and eating the toothpaste.  I decided a long time ago that the easiest (and cheapest) way to take a vacation as a parent is to tell your kids you have to go potty and then very quickly lock the door.  Don’t be surprised when you see tiny fingers under the door.  Just close your eyes and pretend they’re not there.

2. They communicate by grunting.  The strange thing is that with tiny zombie #1, she outgrew the grunting very quickly.  But as soon as she had two new little zombies proving that grunting was the easiest way to get what you want, and then a third, it became the new form of communication, with mom and dad just guessing what each little sound meant.  “Hmpf.” “You want water?” “Mmmmmpf.” “Um, juice?”   “Gmmmmphff!!” “Ok how about milk…” “Uhhhh huh.”  Oooook, milk it is.

3. Reasoning with them is a lost cause.  This one speaks for itself.  Say one of them bites the other (which did happen yesterday).  Try explaining to a 2 year old, “Honey, if you bite again I’m going to have to put you in time out.  Where you clearly won’t be tied down or anything but I’m hoping you will just sit there and think about what you’ve done and decide never to do it again.  Biting hurts.” {Blank stare}

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4. They have a one track mind.  It was the funniest thing to me the other day when I was holding my one year old (who wasn’t quite one on that particular day) on my lap.  The TV happened to be on, and when I reached up to stroke his face, he very deliberately put both hands on my arm and pushed it down and out of the way.  To test my theory, I tried again.  Three times.  Finally he looked me square in the eyes as if to say “Seriously?  Didn’t you get the hint the first time?  I’m watching tv here!”

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5. They live in filthy clothes.  Try getting clean clothes on a thrashing zombie.  Your options are leave them in the clothes they’re in, very quickly rip the dirty clothes off and leave them naked, or get your way but get scratched and bruised in the process.

6. They’re picky eaters.  Okay so my kids don’t eat brains, but brain is probably healthier than the things my kids usually want to eat.  Plus, I’m pretty sure whatever is in that bowl could easily be brains…

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7.  They’re messy eaters.  Have you ever seen a zombie able to eat something (err…someone) without getting stuff ALL over their face, hands, body, feet even?  I have no idea why food can’t just go from a plate into a mouth without somehow ending up in the strangest places.

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8. Day or night, they don’t sleep.  I think if I were to meet a real zombie, I would probably tell him/her, “Hey, I think if you got some sleep you may not be so cranky.  You don’t really HAVE to walk around all night long.”  But this takes us back to #3.

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9. They are resilient.  How is it that more often than not they (children and zombies alike) can trample over each other, get hit, fall down the stairs or off of a swing set, get up, and keep moving?

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10.  They are unconsciously on a quest to destroy your brain.  Really, since all essential bodily functions of a zombie have ceased, including the brain, I don’t think they consciously have it out for people.  Its just what they do (see #4).  I’m sure if they COULD mean well, they would.  They just don’t know what they’re doing yet.

Of course, I guess they could also just be Zombie hunters looking for field experience, in which case they’re much more clever than we think.  Aren’t kids just the best??

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