The phrase that keeps running through my head today is, "What am I going to do with this child?" Can you guess who's been giving us trouble?
I've already mentioned both the potty and the bedtime struggles. But they seem to be getting worse - and my hands are in the air.
For the past few days, Katy has been repeatedly going into the bathroom, closing the door, and then peeing all over the bathroom floor, soaking her panties, the stool, etc. Then she comes and tells us about it as if she is proud, and then seems to enjoy cleaning it up, saying, "Look! It's all clean now!" When we ask her why she does it, she says one of two things, either: "Sometimes it happens," or "I was trying to make it to the potty."
I am 100% positive that this is NOT an accident. She is willfully deciding to pee on the floor. What I DON'T know is how to get her to stop. I tried not making a big deal of it (at first I thought maybe it WAS an accident), and I tried talking reasonably to her about it. Then today I even put her in a diaper, which she didn't like, because I told her that apparently she doesn't know how to pee in the potty. But I don't want to shame her? Is this shaming her?
And everything that I read on the topic says that we shouldn't punish her. That will just make it a power struggle, right? But what SHOULD we do? She's willfully doing this. She hasn't had accidents anywhere else (in the house or out). She's going into the bathroom and purposefully peeing. And pooping, but I won't even go there.
In addition, we're continuing to have big struggles at bedtime. We've set what I thought were pretty firm boundaries, and she's isn't coming out of her room, but she's dragging her feet like mad getting to bed, then she calls for us with a million requests, turns her light on and does all kinds of activities in there, and is often still awake at 10pm. Which, for the record, is when we are going to bed. Which means that we aren't getting any of that quiet evening time when everyone is asleep and you can catch your breath.
So advice on this one? And I know that one suggestion is to give up her nap. But OUCH. When she and David nap in the afternoon is when I work. Her not napping actually means that I would lose income. I can do a quiet time, but I won't be as productive, because we know how that goes. And she does still usually sleep for 1.5-2 hours each afternoon, which makes me think she still needs it? How old were your kids when they stopped napping?
Add to this the whining and demanding nature of her personality and Brian and I are feeling somewhat discouraged. I'm the type of person who takes all of this to heart and thinks, "If my primary occupation is to raise these kids and we're still having all these struggles, what am I doing wrong? A better mom wouldn't have these problems, she would figure it out." So help me figure this out, please!! I'm at a loss...
*Katy has a book about Autumn, and ever since spring, she's been asking me when she can play in the leaves in "adam." Our new back yard is now covered in leaves, and you would think it was covered in candy.
*After listening to the Wiggles in the car for 60 days straight, we have instituted a new system. Every day it's someone's turn: today it's David's, tomorrow will be mine (oh, glory day!), next day, Brian's, then Katy's. Katy balked at first, but now she's totally down with it, and it's glorious. We honor Daddy's turn even when he's not in the car. Daddy likes it quiet, or on occasion, sports radio. On David's turn, I select two CD's that I can stomach, and let him point to the one he wants. So basically, I'm only listening to Wiggles 1/4 days.
*We borrowed a GPS for our Chicago trip last weekend, and it was incredible. For someone as directionally challenged as I am, I could get used to having one of those (hint, hint). The only thing that surprised me was that I thought it would work well in the big city, but it actually has a hard time finding a signal. But I'm in big cities maybe once a decade, so no big deal.
*We were also looking at a folding map (remember those) of our area the other day, and noticed that a road that we drive on nearly every day was marked as a dotted line that said, "proposed 1998". Since neither of us lived here prior to '99, we looked at each other and said, a) I can't believe that road didn't used to be there, and b) we need a new map.
*David's latest discovery is that he enjoys splashing his hands around in the toilet water. The first time I found him doing this it was after Katy had used the potty and neglected to flush (pause for shudder). Now I have to keep all bathroom doors closed at all times, because if you leave for 2 seconds to grab a towel out of the linen closet: BAM! hands in the toilet. So THAT'S why they make those toilet lid locks.
*We're also having some potty setbacks. I know my sister-in-law (hi Kelly!) said that her girls did this same thing, but it is REALLY frustrating me. Several times a day, Katy goes into the bathroom to go potty, goes, and then claims that she needs new panties because hers are wet (which they are). It's like she waits until she goes a little bit in her underwear before she goes to the bathroom. ARGH!!!! When will this potty thing ever stop being a challenge? In time for kindergarten? (the good news, knock on wood, is that she has stayed dry at school so far)
*Yesterday when I picked Katy up from preschool, one of her teachers said (in a sincere but lighthearted tone), "Oh, I just love Katy. She's my little spitfire." I cringed a little and said, "Ooooo...spitfire? That could be good or bad." and she just answered, "I just love her." Oh, how I wish I could be a fly on the wall! She has a fieldtrip in a couple of weeks and then open house in a month, so I hope to get further insight into how she's doing.
*I've picked up just a tad more responsibility at work, with the potential for a little more beyond this (I'm taking over one thing at a time to make sure it isn't overload). So far it's going fine. The hours are picking back up after being down a little over the summer.
*I'm going to take some pictures and videos this weekend of the kids - they are growing and changing so quickly. We are in a Book Phase right now. Both of the kids are loving books and want to read constantly. We got a new batch at the library this week (including Halloween books - I'm no longer a rookie mom and I know to get them in September) and we could sit and read books for hours (not that we ever have that much time or attention span). David is really interested, too. He wants to sit in your lap and point to pictures and when you finish he turns back to the front, "ree?" (read it again).
*I've started taking 2 exercise classes per week - 1 step aerobics (which I know is kind of 80's, but I still love it, and it's such a good workout and you don't have to know dance steps), and 1 yoga. This is the first yoga class I've taken. And I love it. I carry my stress in my body and hold really really tight. Yoga feels good the whole time and then for the rest of the day. During the 5 minute relaxation at the end, I always fall asleep (on my back on the hard floor? I must be exhausted).
*Speaking of exhausted, after Katy's wake-up times kept getting earlier and earlier (approaching 5 am), we created a ghetto version of the Okay to Wake clock. We wrote a "7" on a 3 by 5 card and taped it to a digital clock, covering the minutes. We told Katy that she couldn't get out of bed until the hour matched the 7. At first we had to fudge the time on the clock so that it said 7 even when it was 6:30, but we kept pushing it up until now, after only 1 tantrum, she's staying in her room (sleeping?) until 7. Shew. Now I can get up and shower before she gets up and I have a few minutes to catch my breath.
Those of you who know my friend Cindy will completely understand this. For years I have thought that when Cindy gets married, it was going to be one HECK of a party, because she is so well-traveled and so well-loved.
And it was true. I have never known anyone else in my life who affects people the way Cindy does. She truly brings out the best in everyone, and has a way of making people feel great. When we were in high school, she crossed social lines and had close friends in literally every circle of our large school. She was voted "Most Outgoing," but she could've also been called "kindest," "most accepting," "most sincere," and "best friend." I have been honored since the age of 13 to call her my closest confidante. Since then, she has traveled the globe and accomplished many things, but through it all, we haven't gone a week without being in touch.
This weekend she married Chan, who seems to be right up there in the "well-loved" category. You should have heard the speeches at the reception. People were practically fighting for a chance to pick up a microphone and tell how their lives had been touched by Chan and Cindy. And folks traveled from 3 countries and 13 states to see them get hitched.
Of course, like many weddings, there were a few hitches here and there. (Dear limo driver, pretty much the most important responsibility that you have on a girl's wedding day is to SHOW UP to take her to the church. The rest is just fluff.) But Cindy walked down that aisle (just a few minutes late) with her million dollar smile and the rest of the day was incredible.
I also got to see so many dear friends, it was such a special treat for me as well. (I even saw MOMommy and Midwest Mom, for those who read over there) I think the best part for me was that the bridal party got in the limo after the ceremony, and for some reason I thought we were going straight to the reception. But to my surprise, we took that limo full of cold drinks into downtown Chicago, where we got out and took pictures in a couple of places. It was so much fun to laugh about the day's events and tour around the city for a bit with some really fun people.
And laughter. That was the overreaching theme from the weekend. I laughed so much and so hard. Oh, man, that was some funny stuff.
The kids did well back at home with my mom and Greg. By Sunday, they were getting cranky and ready for us to return, but they did a good job. It was nice to be able to enjoy the weekend knowing that the kids were well cared for. I missed them, and it's nice to be happy to see them after some time away.
So congratulations to Cindy and Chan! I am so happy for the two of them, and it was a great celebration.
M: You are? What are you going to do when you're a grown-up?
K: I'm going to make really big poops!!
David has a ride-along toy that he pushes from behind when we are outside riding bikes. It's his "buhk". So Katy rides her little bike with training wheels up and down the street, and David is running behind her, pushing this pink and blue scooter. Yes, it's pink. Like everything else in this house. The poor kid lives in a house where 75% of the kid-related items are pink. I'm consciously trying to get gender-neutral items that they would share, but with 3 older neices, it's a tough hurdle to get over.
Katy started taking a very informal "dance class" that a friend is offering at her church for preschoolers. Two of her little friends are in the class and it could not be any cuter.
I took ballet when I was 3 or 4, and my mom and Granny love to tell me that on recital night, I strutted onto stage and then proceeded to straighten up all my classmates in the line, to make sure it looked right. Bossy much?
So far Katy doesn't tell the other kids what to do, but she seems to bring kids along. Everywhere we go, it's "Hey! Let's go do this! Come on, [kid], let's go!" I don't think I've ever been that socially confident in my life, so I hope she keeps it up. I don't want her to be bossy, but if she brings kids out of their shell and makes them feel comfortable, that's a good thing.
I've finally convinced Katy to try wearing jeans, even though she insists they are too "strong." She also insists that they don't match whatever she's wearing "because there's no blue in my shirt." If I get her to wear them out of house, she looks around at everyone else and says, "but they're not wearing jeans!!"
David and I are enjoying our time alone together twice a week while Katy's at school. We've been checking out the indoor playground, parks, library storytimes, etc. It's so nice to have this time, because I feel like Katy demands so much attention these days that it's easy to just drag David along and not focus on him. I'm so thankful to be able to hang out with my Bubs.
We're having another round of bedtime battles. Katy is resisting nap and even bedtime, always saying that she's not tired and that she doesn't like to go to bed. I feel like bedtime with her is SO high maintenance, and then David we just toss in the crib and we're done. I know partially it's the age, because she was easy when she was his age. But UGH. Bedtime feels like a power struggle right now and we're trying to figure out how to nip it in the bed. I mean bud.
When we were originally reading the specs on the MLS for this house, my eyes quickly jumped past the words "attic fan." Just like you would read the words, "Living room" or "Stove." Of course it has an attic fan! Doesn't every house? If I was picturing anything at all, it was a little square vent in the roof of the house that would be completely unnoticable from the inside.
Then we were walking through for the first time, and the agent took us to the 2nd floor, and he said, "I don't know if you've ever seen one of these before, it's an attic fan." He flipped a light switch on the wall and the whole ceiling in the hall vented open, a strong fan began blowing, and it immediately felt breezy. I had never heard of one, but I still thought, "Hmm...that's nice." Not one of the boxes that I needed to tick for our new place.
But hold up! I am in LOVE with the attic fan! This thing is so powerful, it is amazing. If you open all the windows in the house and turn that puppy on, there is a constant cool breeze through the house. It makes the place feel 5 - 10 degrees cooler, easily. Here's why I like it:
*Helps not to have to run the A/C as much. It still feels cool in the house even when it's 85 degrees outside.
*It's cheaper to run than the A/C.
*More environmentally friendly? (I actually don't know anything about this, but it seems like it would be true)
*I love having the windows open, and it just increases the length of open-window season.
*The noise helps the kids sleep, I think. It's fairly loud if you are standing right under it - but it's between the kids' rooms, so it helps to drown out household noise while they are sleeping.
Recently I was having a conversation with a neighbor, and he said that the previous owners of our house installed the attic fan so they wouldn't have to get central air. He said they insisted it was just as good as A/C. (They didn't install central air until last year when they decided to sell the place - thanks, guys). I don't think I would go that far. In the dog days of summer, I'm all about air conditioning. I like to walk in the door from being hot and sweaty to a cool feeling house. But I'm loving that the attic fan shortens that season a bit, and makes open windows downright pleasant.
Katy continues to love school, and we are all enjoying the routine that this fall is bringing. This week we're preparing for my friend Cindy's wedding. One thing I'm looking forward to this weekend is seeing lots of people that I hardly ever see. Cindy and I have been friends for so long (since we were 12!) that going to her wedding is like a family reunion for me. I can't wait to celebrate her big day with lots of fabulous people!
I've been thinking about this day off and on since Kelsey wrote this post about her daughter's first day of preschool. I remember that was the first time it really hit me that eventually, at some point, there would be a part of my daughter's day of which I was not aware. Not in charge. Not directing. At the time Katy was 20 months old and I couldn't imagine it. My gut reaction was: NO! Whenever it is, it's too soon! I can't do it!
But today was the first step in that direction. I dropped her off at preschool, left her there, and came back to pick her up - a whole hour and a half later (today was called a "gentle start." most days are 2 and a half hours). Of course I've been away from her for longer than that before, but this was different. The teachers will be regular, instructional, authoritative people in her life over the next few months. This is school. The beginning of a new rhythm to our years from here on out.
But you know what? We were totally ready. She was ready. I was ready. Shoot, David and Brian were ready. Call me a cold-hearted snake (look into his eyes), but I really wasn't sad. I was proud and excited. I felt confident that this was the time and the right place for our family. She's been asking about this for months, she wasn't nervous at all. She ran into the room and I had to ask her to come back and give me a hug and a kiss. She jumped up and down when I came back to get her, and we talked all the way home about her day. Here's the conversation (roughly), which included more information than I thought I would get:
M: So what did you do at school?
K: I listened to my teachers! I made a hand[print]! Mrs. G helped me!
M: Was it a kissing hand? (this was on the calendar)
M: Why was it a kissing hand? (I really had no idea)
K: Because the mommy bear kissed with her hand like this (kisses palm)...(I see now that it's a raccoon instead of a bear)
M: What else did you do?
K: Had snack! I don't know what it was. Something like cookies or something.
M: Did you have circle time?
K: No, just story time.
M: Did you sing songs?
M: Did you play with friends?
K: Yes, but I don't know who.
M: Did you share?
K: (change in tone) Yes...but Mommy? I was trying to make a pattern with the butterflies and I took some from that other girl's pile and she took them back from me, and THAT MAKES ME VERY ANGRY!
She used that line about "making her very angry" several times today, usually when David was taking something of hers, so I have a feeling that was harped on today at school. I'm not sure if it was directly to Katy or to the class in general. Eeesh.
I'm sure the novelty will wear off, but she and David have been in such a good mood today. They've been playing and laughing, even though we've been stuck inside because of rain. Maybe we're all just a little bit excited about this new season. Not to be getting my hopes up, but I think it will be good for our family.
(Quick side note: I took Katy to meet her teachers and see her classroom today for preschool. She is SO excited. She keeps wanting to look at the calendar to find out what day she gets to go to school and stay by herself.)
I was awake for an hour and a half in the middle of the night last night thinking about someone that I ran into yesterday. I can't stop thinking about her, in fact. If a heroine is "a woman of distinguished courage or ability, admired for her brave deeds and noble qualities," then she is one, indeed. If you have a few minutes, make sure and read to the end, because there are a couple of surprises along the way.
When Katy was an infant, I was in a woman's Bible study at church. There was another woman in this study who I'll call M. She was very interesting because she was from England, and she had met her American husband over the internet while seeking technical support for a computer. At the time of the study, she had a preschool aged daughter, a 10 month old girl, and she was in the middle of a Surprise! pregnancy - which turned out to be twins. The twins were supposed to be 14 months younger than her younger daughter. Ooops. Throughout the study, my impression of M was that she was overwhelmed, somewhat negative and sarcastic, but polite. I don't mean this in a judgemental way, because you could certainly use that sentence to describe me at times. But it was very apparent that she was having trouble adjusting to the situation she had found herself in.
Shortly after the study ended, we started getting emails about M. A problem came up in her pregnancy. The twins had a rare condition in which they were not sharing nutrients equally (<---- extremely simplified explanation), and the prognosis was not good. She delivered the twins extremely early - I believe it was 25 or 26 weeks, and a very long NICU stay began. One of the boys lived for one month, and then he passed away. Even though I barely knew M, I bawled when I found out. It just seemed like her world was crashing down around her. I had heard through the grapevine that the other baby boy had come home eventually, but I hadn't heard about or seen her since then.
So last night we went to church to register Katy for a children's program there. When we entered the chaotic classroom, I was talking to the teacher and trying to keep the kids from running wild. As I finished my conversation, I looked over to see Katy talking to a woman and her small son, who was in a wheelchair. Katy must have asked her about the boy, because the woman was saying things like, "His arms and legs don't work as well as yours, but he understands you if you say hello," etc. I realized after a moment's pause that this woman was M. As I walked over, I saw her son for the first time, now 2 and a half. I've worked with kids with disabilities for years, so I could tell that he was very involved. Cerebral palsy, feeding tube, hearing aids, nonverbal - the clinician in my head made note.
I didn't say anything at first. I assumed she wouldn't recognize me, and she was doing an incredibly amazing and gracious job talking to Katy - showing her how she could feel the extra air coming from his oxygen tank, etc. I took the opportunity to meet her beautiful boy, who was so smiley it was contagious.
But then she looked up and shrieked, "Don't I know you?! From Bible study?" and was so genuine and wanted to know about the kids, etc. So then I asked her, which of her kids would be here in Katy's class (for 3 and 4 year olds). She pointed over to a 3 year old girl sitting in a bean bag chair, wearing one of these:
It turns out that her 3 year old got hit by a boat swing carrying 100 pounds worth of children and snapped her femur in half. She's already been in the cast for 7 weeks, and they are estimating 3-4 more months. Just as I thought my jaw couldn't hit the floor harder...
She then walks across the room and picks up a baby hiking backpack with a baby girl inside. "Wait a minute! Is she yours, too?" I ask her. "Yes," she smirks, "I slipped her in under the radar. She's 12 months."
So for those of you keeping score, that means she has:
* 6 year old girl
* 3.5 year old in a lower body cast
* 2.5 year old with multiple disabilities.
* 12 month old.
But all of that isn't what makes her a heroine. Challenging circumstances alone doesn't make her a woman of distinguished character. But here's what I can't stop thinking about: she was absolutely radiant. I can't think of a better word to describe her than JOYFUL. In fact, she seemed like a different person than the one I had known a few years ago. I barely recognized her demeanor. Despite all of the trials she has endured, she actually seems like she is happier now than she was then. Is this possible?
And if so...why? Of course I don't know her well enough to even guess. Is it perhaps true "that which does not kill us makes us stronger"? Or did her experience deepen her faith, so that she is relying so deeply on God that the burden is lifted? Or was she just so tired and scared when she was pregnant that it masked the true M, who has always been this joyful?
I don't know, of course. When I said to her, "I don't know how you are even here?" and she said, "You know, people say that to me all the time. And my only answer is that I have to be. I could either curl up into a ball on the floor and cry, or I could smile, be thankful, and get through the day. How can I not be happy with this (motioning toward her 4 children)?"
So I'm thinking a lot about M. I fear that given those types of circumstances, I would chose the crying over the smiling. I want to be more like her. Even now. Distinguished courage and noble qualities. Joyful, radiant. That is my sincere prayer.
With the cooler weather this week, I put David in his new sneakers. Since I'm not a big fan of shoes on babies, this is the first pair he's worn. (I found them at a garage sale earlier this summer for $1.75! They're brand new! Although I may regret the ties.)
I got to thinking about how many pairs of sneakers he's going to wear in his life. And how tiny these are compared to whatever size he gets up to. And wondering what kinds of things he'll do in his sneakers in years to come.
He looks like such a big boy.
You'll also notice in this photo:
1) He's swimming in his fall clothes. I bought 2T last spring on clearance thinking that his rate of growth from the first year would surely put him in a 2T. These pants are one of the few pairs of 18 month hand me downs we have. Of course, any kid with [maiden name] blood will be destined to roll their pants and sleeves. That's a given.
2) His busted lip, which he acquired after tripping on the driveway the other night (wearing his summer shoes, can't blame the sneaks). I remember posting about a beat-up looking Katy when she was about this age.
And I'm such a mean mom...I won't let him play with the camera!!