31 March 2011

Sick Day

It breaks my heart when our little boy is burning up so much that I find him asleep in odd locations around the house. I can tell he is really sick because he usually won't doze anywhere but his bed (including his carseat on long drives).


What I don't mind is the extra dose of cuddling that results from his inability to even walk. And when he says things like "you are the best mommy" when I make him some orange juice. 


28 March 2011

Hot and Cold

This winter is never ending. But one thing that makes it slightly more bearable is sitting in a steamy jucuzzi while looking out on a fresh batch of snow. The hot tub is much more enjoyable when there is such a strong contrast of hot and cold.





24 March 2011

Changes

I adore motherhood. But let me tell you, it's not always roses around here. And it's not always about fun outings and playdates and creative projects and vacations.

Most of the time, we are in the trenches of day to day life. Our days are simple and repetitive. We repeat the  same tasks over and over at precisely the same times. Sometimes we throw in additional activities to mix it up a little, but for the most part, we have a schedule and we stick to it. And we all thrive on predictability.

But lately, we've been in the thick of some pretty major daily changes, and it's throwing us all for a loop.

The changes are happening so quickly that I never know what to expect from day to day. Who will nap? When will they nap? If Nash only takes one nap, will it be in the morning or afternoon?

Nash is in that awkward stage where he is in between one and two naps. One nap isn't enough, but two naps is too many. We were in the beginning stages of switching over to that afternoon-only nap, and then daylight savings hit and everything was completely thrown off. So now, some days he will only sleep in the morning, some days only in the afternoon, and rarely will he take two naps. I don't mind him switching over to one nap in the afternoon, if he would just commit already! Some days he has total overtired meltdowns if he isn't asleep by 10am, and other days he can make it till the afternoon just fine. His inconsistency is making scheduling anything away from home nearly impossible.

Nash has also had the added changes of completely weaning (his choice, not mine), cutting his third tooth (we get them late around here), and having a cold for the last week. On the bright side of change, he finally hit the 20 pound mark at almost 14 months, which means that we could switch him into a forward facing carseat. He has been enjoying the new view.


I have to say though, the changes we have been going through with Nash seem like a piece of cake compared to our other son.

Speaking of teething, Blake finally cut his two year molars (at almost 3 ½ ). And he was sick all week. He also acted out a few times by coloring with a pen on the couch, and then pointed out the markings to get attention. But those have been the least of our concerns.

Our biggest challenge has been with Blake's bedtime routine. It got so out of control that we couldn't even leave him with a sitter anymore. He would cry for 45 minutes if his routine wasn't done exactly the right way. 

It was our fault for not stopping some of his absurd rituals sooner. It was always just easier to spend the extra 30 seconds tucking him in the "right" way, or letting him dawdle as he picked the song, or waving the "right" way before we shut the door, than to endure a meltdown and delay the bedtime process another half hour. 

But his routine became so over the top that we could barely gather the energy required each night (and nap) to go through the long list of steps. A few friends even tossed around the term "high maintenance" when describing Blake's behavior. That's when we knew that things needed to change.

We started taking out steps from Blake's bedtime routine one at a time. Aside from the important things like brushing teeth and saying prayers, we successfully eliminated a few unnecessary steps. Blake let us know that he was "mad" about us skipping certain things, but after a few weeks, he didn't even ask for them anymore.

Once we started to get a handle on the bedtime nonsense, Blake started skipping more and more naps. I'm sure it has more to do with his age than anything, but I am not ready to give up naptime completely, and neither is Blake in my opinion. He has been boycotting one or two naps a week for the last few months, but since he was taking three hour naps the majority of the time, I still put him down every day. However, this week, we hit an all time high. Blake took a four day napping strike (in addition to Nash's inconsistency). Every time I talked to Troy (who we have scarcely seen the last two weeks because of late work nights) and told him that Blake didn't take a nap again, he responded, "I napped until I was five!" And then I felt guilty, like it was my fault somehow.

I don't know how to force a child to sleep. It doesn't help that it is still so cold outside and there isn't much physical activity to wear our little guy out. I really thought my child would be the one who still took naps every day after kindergarten. I'm learning that I don't have much control over whether he sleeps or not.

Another pressing issue with Blake is that we have gone back to square one with potty training. I was hoping to write this post on the other end of this challenge. The end where Blake was triumphant and we had a huge success banner hanging above his head. But that hasn't happened yet.

Blake was potty trained back in November. After getting the hang of it, he barely ever had accidents. But something snapped around Christmas, and he started having accident after accident. He started lying to us about being dry. We were constantly mad and we turned into the worst versions of parents. Potty training became anything but positive. We had a incident that was the last straw for all of us, so we took a break for a while. And a while has turned into three months.

We realize that we need to get back on track with potty training. Blake is already talking about having a potty party (like we did here), so we are gearing up to make next attempt a more positive, lasting experience. I'm embarrassed to admit that it didn't work out the first time after all of my efforts and research. I still believe in our system, because it really did work for a while.

But next time, we are going cold turkey. No pull-ups, period. I think using pull-ups for nights and naps sent Blake mixed messages, which may have contributed to his accidents. And in order to go cold turkey, we decided it was time to make the transition out of the crib.

I have never felt any sense of urgency to take away Blake's crib, because he has never once tried to climb out. I just figured, why give him freedom when he is supposed to be sleeping? But, Troy and I agreed that if he is ever going to be fully potty trained, he needs to have access to the bathroom at all times.

We think that a new bed (or crib-turned-into-bed) and bedding might be the answer to both our bedtime routine and potty training struggles. A new bed is fresh start. We can get rid of some of the lasting bad habits associated with his crib like tucking his ear in just so (I know it's ridiculous) under his old blanket. 

With his recent napping strikes, maybe this is the worst time to give him more freedom without the restraint of a crib. But, he was so excited about building his new bed and having a new blanket that he begged to take a nap today. And after his four day napping strike, he actually fell asleep (after I watched him kick out all of the new bedding on the video monitor).

We really hope the change of a new bed is the first step in the right direction for our ritualistic boy.

Because it sure made him feel good to act a little more grown up.


21 March 2011

Wreath Fetish

I have a slight fetish with wreaths. Take, for example, the number of wreaths hanging up in our home right now.

So, when my friend Steph asked me to host her creative club for March, I naturally kept coming back to the idea of making some sort of wreath.

After going through a myriad of options, I finally decided on yarn wreaths, since yarn seems to be all the craze right now.

I had so much fun gathering supplies and setting up for a girls' night.




It was really refreshing to take a break from the day to day mundane tasks. We stayed up late laughing and swapping stories as we worked on our wreaths.

Everyone's final product turned out a little differently and I loved all of the color and variety.




18 March 2011

Bon Voyage

Troy's parents left for their service mission in Hawaii this morning. They stopped over yesterday to say goodbye to their grandchildren. There was a lot of laughter and a lot of weeping. Who wouldn't miss these fun grandparents?








Even though they will get to come home for six weeks this summer, saying goodbye to them felt like the end of an era. They are selling their house, so gone are the days of living close to family. Unless we move, it is just us now. It already feels a little lonelier.


17 March 2011

Green

Continuing with the simplicity trend, I officially kept a holiday simple. We wore our green and ate Lucky Charms and called it good. Simplifying felt nice (don't mind that non-green grass, freshly uncovered from the snow).




14 March 2011

Simplicity

I spent the weekend alone with the boys while Troy was in D.C.

I expected to be bored and lonely, but I actually enjoyed the simplicity.

We played at the park and made grilled cheese sandwiches upon request for dinner. We attended a baptism and had lunch with friends. Blake and I had a movie night with our gas station candy of choice. We snuggled under a warm blanket. I got caught up on my email correspondence (I'm not always the best at that). I tackled a bit more of my ongoing project to add labels to old blog posts in my efforts to index our blog (man alive I used a lot of exclamation points back in the day). I took the boys to church where there were over 400 people in attendance for a missionary farewell. I gave them a never ending supply of bread and rice puffs to keep them quiet in a jam packed chapel. Blake gave his first scripture in Primary, which he had mostly memorized.

But most of all, I enjoyed my two little sweethearts. We played in the sandbox. We pretended to be monsters in the "magic dark." We built trains out of duplos. We practiced going down the stairs with Nash.

I wondered, when did I blink? How did they got so big?





11 March 2011

The Hunt

I have been feeling the pressure.

There has been an avalanche of information regarding the education of our preschooler.

I have been bombarded with hype from chain preschools that claim they can teach our three year old to read. There have been rumors of waiting lists and interviews to get into the "best" schools. Advertisements have been selling us on the necessity of outfitting our three year old in a uniform and delivering him to a rigorous academic preschool to give him a leg up on the competition.

I disagree with most of the preschool claims and advertisements that I have encountered. I have issues with the drill and kill with worksheets philosophy. Sure, it's great to know letters and sounds and to read and write, but I can teach emergent literature one-on-one with my child at home. Then, there is the other end of the preschool spectrum, which I can't say is much more than child care.

So, I was left to trust my own instincts when choosing the right preschool for Blake.

I boldly tackled the preschool search over the last few weeks. Blake and I visited seven different preschools in our area. Maybe that is a little extreme, but early childhood education is my field, and I wanted to be thorough. It was a completely different ball game when I was searching for the philosophy and curriculum that best met my child's needs compared to when I was searching for a teaching position. And I wanted to be sure that I knew all of our options before Troy and I made a decision.

I was shocked at the range of quality that I found. I'm still convinced that no preschool is as great as where I did my student teaching in Michigan. But, in the end, Troy and I felt at peace with choosing a school that best met the philosophy I have been taught and wholeheartedly agree with.

I was surprised at how much it mattered to me that we chose a Reggio-Emilia based philosophy. The philosophy is basically that children learn through hands on activities where social and emotional development are the focus. As a result of the self esteem they build through competent play, they excel academically. Man oh man do I agree with that! Preschool should be about enrichment, not about competition.

Don't even get me started on those cute little art projects that have to look exactly like the teacher's. I personally feel very strongly that art and science should be about the process, not the end result. I immediately wrote off any school that had those cutesy carbon copy art projects on display.

I'm not saying that this is the philosophy for everyone, nor does the preschool you choose even come close to determining your child's success in later grades (or going to preschool at all for that matter). I think everyone makes the best choice in their own situation, and our decision feels just right for our cautious and hesitant three year old who needs a little social boost.

I feel such a sense of relief that the hunt is over. We secured one of the last three two-mornings-a-week slots at our preschool of choice for the fall. He's in!


09 March 2011

I Have a Crush On Our Snow Plowman

Can you blame me?

It's a tough job these days with the amount of snow we are accumulating.

But our snow plowman comes through and takes care of it for us. The rest of us stay inside in the heat and peer through the glass at our expert.

We're all wimps when it comes to freezing temperatures and hauling out snow gear in March.

Love that little nose pressed up against the {dirty} glass.


07 March 2011

Records

I have never been sentimental about "stuff." All of those cute little scribblings and yarn necklaces my son brings home each week from Sunbeams go right in the trash (while he's not looking). I condensed my entire array of childhood yearbooks, awards, programs, and memorabilia down to one box. If I don't think I'll use an item again, I donate it or get rid of it. I just can't stand to have all the clutter around with the thought of having to move it from house to house over time.

But there is one thing that I couldn't bear to get rid of.

If I ever lost my records, I would be heartbroken.

In fact, a few years ago, my favorite Christmas present was a fire and flood proof safe to store my journals and external hard drives full of digital files. If our house ever burns to the ground or fills with water, I want those records to be protected! The safe is already filled to the brim with my personal journal arsenal.

I am passionate about keeping records. Once a thought or idea or memory is in writing, I feel such a sense of relief. I don't have to keep it in the forefront of my mind anymore, worried that it will slip into never-never land and be forgotten forever.

There have been so many times that I have wished that I could read journals that don't exist from my great grandparents. To read about their opinions and fears and joy and trials. To know of the memories that filled that dash I see on family history records in between their birth dates and death dates.

I want to be sure that there is a record of my life and my posterity beyond birth dates and death dates. I want to be able to look back on the good and the bad and have all of the important (and not-so-important) events documented.

Therefore, I am a record keeper. I am so thankful to have my memories in writing (at least most of them...some make me roll my eyes).

At the top of my list of records to be preserved are the two humongous binders chock full of every letter Troy and I wrote to each other while he was on his mission.

Yes, we used to be really cheesy. After five years of marriage, we certainly aren't as sappy as we used to be. Some of the love-sick things we used to write to each other make me pretty embarrassed now. But one of my favorite things about Troy's weekly letters was how he addressed his envelopes. He never wrote my actual name. He always came up with a creative (and sometimes embarrassing) title. I treasure each and every one of those address labels.

I hope that someday our children and grandchildren will enjoy reading about our courtship and how we grew closer letter by letter.


I keep records in a few different ways now. Everything has gone digital, and I don't live in the dinosaur era, but sometimes I still like creating with actual prints. I have a Christmas scrapbook that I add a few pages to each year, including our family Christmas card. The album is always fun to pull out and look at how much we have changed and grown from Christmas to Christmas.

Then, I have scrapbooks for each of the boys. They only document from birth to one year old. I feel like realistically, the first year of life is about all I will be able to keep up with for each child in scrapbook format.  Nash's book is already about half as thick as Blake's. But, it is complete, and I am satisfied that his life thus far is documented.

Especially since I started his book two weeks before his first birthday. I brought my supplies to Arizona and created layouts with my favorite crafting buddy (who happens to have many more supplies on hand than I do). The dining room turned into our project room for the week.

The nice thing about how I did the boys' books is, sometimes, I created full 12x12 pages, but often, I just slid pictures into 4x6 slots and called it good. The most important parts to me are the journaling clips on each page.

I am so happy to have Nash's book complete. I enjoyed using my scissors and paper cutter for layouts even if everything has gone digital. I enjoy digital design as well, but sometimes, I just need to take a break from my monitor and work with my hands.

Since I determined that the cut off for scrapbook documentation is age one, I continued Blake's records with a blog of "Blakeisms" where I record the funny things he says from time to time. Eventually I'll have a blog of Nashisms when he starts talking as well.

Then, of course, there is this blog where I keep the most updated records. I am slightly paranoid about my blog accidentally being erased one day or Google crashing, so I import all of my posts every once and a while to a back up blog. I also have each post automatically emailed to me for back up. I'd like to have a hard copy of all of my blog posts someday, but I haven't found a program I love to turn our blog into a book. I tried using blurb a while back and gave up after a few hours because I had to reformat every page to make it readable. I feel like there will be better technology in the future for blog-to-book transfer, and I'm no rush to have it all printed out.

I love records.