Saturday, June 25, 2011

My Summer (so far) In Pictures

So it's been two full weeks of summer vacation so far, and here's what we have to show for it...

A weekend getaway to the west coast with the entire family:

Ben described it as "the most awesome vacation ever," so definitely a success.

It amazes me that with a house full of toys (most of which seem to have ended up on our living room floor), the boys are always wandering aimlessly about, trailing us like shadows, insisting they have nothing to do. I have nearly given up on cleaning up, since inevitably, everything ends up out the next day anyways.

Last summer, we spent most of our days at the beach and at the water park, but this summer we've had to deal with Potty Training Boot Camp (which has taken way longer than we had expected), so I've had to find ways to make me feel better about being trapped in the house:

I am embarrassed to admit that I almost enjoyed scrubbing and organizing my frig and freezer for the first time ever. (I'm also a little embarrassed to admit it was my first time ever). Who knew the drawers were supposed to be totally see-through?!?

And when I was done with the frig, I started to tackle The Major Summer Project: photo organizing. I finally finished Aidan Kai's first year album, so now I'm only 2 years behind...

And of course, what would a photo recap be of the last two weeks without...

When Aidan didn't quite make it to the bathroom, and the stickers didn't quite make it onto the chart, we had to turn to:

And as a result, at the end of each day, I've had to turn to...

We have managed to squeeze in some late afternoons of pool play and the occasional barbecue...

And even on the bad days, when I've wanted to go out all day long and instead have spent it scrubbing the carpets, running the washing machine, all while still trying to be uber-positive and cheerful with our pee-boy-in-training, I still remind myself that a summer day at home is still better than a good day at work!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Potty Training Boot Camp (or: And So I Turn To The Merlot...)

Potty training stinks.

There is no faster way to suck the joy of summer right out of you like dirty superhero underwear.

Hubby, the boys, and I were all officially "off" for summer as of Friday morning. By Sunday afternoon, we were officially "on" for Boot Camp. We had done it with Ben when he was this age, and after only a few days, he had caught on. We figured, after months of plateauing on the potty, it was time for Aidan too. We know the boot camp method is a controversial one. We know it doesn't support the whole "the child needs to be ready" philosophy. But I sorta know my kids, and sometimes you have to push them a little (shove, really) or they might end up in college with Depends. They are both just the kinds of kids who would rather be playing with Hot Wheels or watching another episode of "Sponge Bob" rather than be receiving stickers and accolades for their bowel movements. My boys, it seems, can not always be bothered.

So, we figured we would jump in head (butt?) first, and do the intense potty training immediately. We had a window of time before the grandparents would be babysitting, and we knew it was now or never. After a visit to Target for Thomas and Marvel underoos in a 3T, we literally waved goodbye to all the diapers and Aidan proudly dumped them into the garbage (and then we promptly pulled them right back out and hid them...just in case...and mainly to be renamed as "nighttime big boy pull-ups"). Before the first 10-minute timer had beeped, in the midst of, apparently, a very intense game of Hot Wheels Monster Truck, I noticed a smell. "Aidan, do you have to go potty?" I asked, my voice pitched a bit too high already. Sure enough, I was initiated into the first hour of Boot Camp 2.0 with poop smushed right into Spiderman's face, and then, thanks to much wiggling, rolling out onto the bathroom tile, rug, and, just for good measure, smeared onto the Elmo Potty Seat.

The last 4 days have been filled with urine puddles and droplets, endless loads of laundry, cheers and stickers, timed potty runs (he's like Pavlov's dog when he hears the bell), and powdered laxative. Oh yes, our little champ decided he was not going to poop. At all.

Combine all of this with the stress of packing for a vacation and the number of children in the house doubling to 4 because of cousin sleepovers and two adults who need to get out of the house every day or else...well, summer ain't fun yet.

P.S. About an hour after posting my above entry, the following occurred:

~Aidan had a stomach ache and a fit and refused to go potty.

~While said stomach ache and fit were occurring, I tried to happily and cheerily encourage (read: force while still smiling) him to sit on the potty. This resulted in no bowel movement, but a sudden and unexpected stream of pee shooting out of him and onto me, my pink fuzzy slippers, the newly-washed bathroom rug, my newly-bathed, shaved, and moisturized leg, and the Eric Carle board book I was attempting to use as entertainment while he supposedly sat.

~Ben became The Obnoxious Version of Himself which sometimes makes an appearance and has been spending way too much time around here since school ended, and messed up any joy possible while preparing Father's Day gifts and cards (surely, a blog post to follow on this one).

~I drank waaaaaaay too much Merlot on an empty stomach, making me waaaaaay happier than when I started this post and making the title waaaaaaay more appropriate than I even thought possible when I wrote it.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

To my preschool graduate

Dear Ben,

Tonight you graduated from your little school. The first school you ever attended. The first place I ever "left you" to be with others, to be on your own, to start your own little life. You were 3 then, just turned, when you learned what a "cubby" was and which one would be yours. I remember being so worried, on that first day, and then you walked right over and, without hesitation, pushed your little soccer-themed lunch box into that little square, right where the teacher had shown you just a couple of days before when you had met her.

After the first couple of days you had a little setback. The teachers said it was normal. They said most kids reacted like that after the novelty of the first day wore off. But when I left you, each morning, for a handful of mornings, and you, you sobbed...and clung to me, your little fingers clenched into my shoulders, I cried too--probably more than you did.

Your first year, you took to napping on the little cot faster than I ever believed you would. The teacher said she loved watching you, because you slept like a baby: your arms and hands tucked neatly beneath your body, your knees scrunched up into your belly, your little tush in the air. When she told me, I had to laugh...that was how you always slept as a baby. And even now, on rare mornings when you are really sound asleep, I enter your room to find you still sleeping like that, in your infant position. You were "a leader," your first teacher said. She said all the kids liked you. You were bright and funny and loud.

And then your next year, you got a little too bright and too funny and too loud. It was a tough year for us, because we started to see glimpses: maybe you were not going to be the perfect student Mommy and Daddy had envisioned. Maybe, instead, you were going to be like Mommy and Daddy: questioning, opinionated, easily excited, and loving the attention. That was the year you forged your first tight friendship with another boy, your buddy who became infamous around these parts, your nearly-literal partner in crime. You will probably graduate from college, and we will still remember the name "CJ." Just in case, we took video of him tonight, at the graduation ceremony, and oddly enough, I looked at CJ with tenderness: this was the my son's first best friend.

This year, you went on to the "Big Kid Class." You had homework. You had strict teachers. You had yellow cards. Oh, yes, your VPK year nearly turned into "The Year of the Yellow Card." I am embarrassed to admit that the mood of our home became nearly completely dependent upon the color card you received in school each day. Somewhere along the line, after many conversations between your daddy and myself, great advice from your teacher, and many lost nights of sleep (mine, know your dad never stresses), we sorta figured you out and learned how to encourage you while still disciplining you. And either it all worked, or you just matured a little, because green cards became the norm and yellow ones rarely appeared anymore. You went on to learn all of your letters and numbers and how to spell your whole name. You learned 24 of the 26 phonetic sounds. You came home talking about constellations. You taught us songs. You proudly displayed your 10 new sight words on your bedroom door.

Tonight, we watched you and all your classmates walk in wearing little red caps and gowns. Your 2011 tassel dangled in your face as you turned around to look back at us and wave one more time before going up on stage. When they called your name and you walked up to your teachers to receive your diploma (a blank rolled up piece of paper that most of you chose to use as telescopes for the remainder of the ceremony), they announced "When Ben grows up, he wants to be a pilot, but he doesn't want to work in the summers." A big, proud grin stretched across your face. You are, it appears, going to be like your mom and dad: you want to have your cake and eat it too.

I cried tonight. I couldn't believe that you were the same little boy we had welcomed into this world only five and a half years ago. I couldn't believe that I hadn't noticed how you had caught up to the rest of the kids, and you were no longer the shortest. I couldn't believe you were going to be a kindergartner. I couldn't believe it was You: the little baby we had wanted so badly, for whom we had waited so long.

Congratulations, Ben. We know it's "just preschool," but we couldn't be prouder. We love you.

Mama and Daddy

Saturday, June 4, 2011

The JOYS of summer: six word friday (saturday?)

Knowing there's only four days left

Until the summer is ours

to play and sleep and lounge
sip from icy cold beer bottles
linger together over fresh morning coffee

to have "babysitting nights" each week
quality time together, just us two
dreaming, conspiring, dancing, laughing, kissing, loving

and family days whenever we wish
quality time together, all of us
playing, growing, dancing, laughing, learning, loving

to wake up and spontaneously pack
a beach bag full of toys
spend a day in the sun
come home without bedtimes and routines

to spend time with my girls
and their babies at the pool
watching our kids becoming real friends

stay up with my favorite person
watching movie rentals or mindless TV
falling asleep, inevitably, on the couch

even getting things done: laundry, errands
without the rush and daily pressures

life's just easier and more joyous
when you can spend your days
doing as you wish without demands
without work hours and lunch boxes
alarm clocks, homework, and gym bags

Joy, right now, means having time
Looking forward to an entire summer

To spend with my (serene) Self
my girlfriends and my loved ones
my two wild, loud, little boys
my favorite person in the universe

Knowing every day I wake up
really, truly belongs solely to me

What does the word "JOY" mean to you? Join Six Word Fridays (although, I know, I am technically doing Six Word SATURDAY this time) at Making Things Up.