Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Dive Right In!

Considering how much Noelle’s family likes swimming, I thought I better chime in with my own post on the subject ;)

The brief background is that Noelle, my husband and their sister have participated in competitive swimming since they were little kids. My Chris practically majored in swimming in college and spent a bunch of time after college coaching swimming there. So our kids are bound to be little fish, right? Other than the fact that I have a thinly veiled fear of children around deep water. My idea of swimming involves wading in a cute swimsuit and sunbathing on a sunny beach. Clearly, my husband wants our children to become the next Michael Phelps’…but he won’t admit it.

So, Chris has been helping out with a local competitive swimming club team, and they are offering a learn-to-swim lesson program that started last night. We enrolled B and I think I was way more nervous than he was. He took to it like a natural….slashing, putting his face right in, and kicking like a maniac! It was so fun to watch him. Every time he glanced up at me and Sean on the pool deck he gave us a huge smile and thumbs-up. I am so glad that I didn’t show him my fear.

S was another matter. He really doesn’t understand why he can’t do everything that B does. He kept looking at me with a toothy grin, eyes sparkling… “Mommy, Sean jump in pool too?” I need some advice on how to explain to the two year old why he can’t get on the school bus and go to kindergarten, dive in the pool, play goalie at soccer practice or cast a fishing pole with a hook on it….any suggestions?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


B happily jumped onto the school bus yesterday morning ready to start his first day of Kindergarten. Luckily he had attended ½ day Pre-K at the public school last year and knew what to expect. For the record, he is a very well-behaved kid, loves school, follows directions, respects his teachers, bus drivers and follow students. So yesterday, when he ran off the bus at our home, I was expecting him to be a bit tired and hungry. I am not exactly sure who abducted my sweet student, but he was clearly not the same child that I put on the bus that morning.

When I asked him if he wanted a snack (popcorn and a glass of milk) he responded with “Duh, Mom”….HOLD ON ONE MINUTE YOU LITTLE SNOT….since when does this kid say “DUH?” After I resisted the urge to boot him across the room, I realized that he was looking up at me with a frightened expression. I actually think that after the words came out of his mouth he realized that “Duh” was not a very nice way to talk. Which is exactly how I responded, explaining that that is not how we talk and that if he was going to come home and talk like that he would be spending some quality time in his bedroom talking that way to his stuffed animals until he got it out of his system….”sorry mom…” he said afterward.

Then, after a series of screaming battles with his brother over completely random yard toys, they came in for dinner. B took one look at the Chicken Cacciatore and rice that I had prepared and said, “Ewww, that looks GROSSSS. I am not eating.” B has NEVER uttered the word gross at my dinner table before. Again, he gives me that frightened sideways glance. And I launch into, “Uhhhn-uhhnn, I spent a long time preparing you a delicious meal, you do not tell ME that YOU are not eating without even trying it.” And again, “Sorry Mom” and after he tried it, a begrudging “It’s pretty good…”

So, I guess B is going to be learning a lot more than sight words, phonics and the numbers 1-100 this year at Kindergarten….we’ll have to encourage a daily dose of attitude adjustment!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Turning Two!

S turns two this weekend, which is nearly impossible for me to fathom. His babyhood has completely flown by. Probably everybody says that about their second child. We documented every breath of B’s life….but with S it seems like there was so little time. Or maybe you spend more time living it and less time recording it!

I remember a period of time when B was a toddler when he literally barely slept. Ask anybody who knows us how traumatic this was. It took hours to get him to sleep, we tried every strategy there is and NOTHING worked. NOTHING. I received soooo many suggestions from well-meaning family and friends regarding this dilemma. They ranged from “super-intense sleep training” to “love that little guy right to sleep in your own bed”…but regardless of what we tried, he was super-challenging to get to sleep, and worse yet, he only slept in 1-2 hour stretches and spent the rest of time in distress. I thought I was losing my mind. People kept asking me if I was going to have another baby. My response was, “Perhaps I could start getting my mind around that, if this kid ever starts SLEEPING….you a**hole.” Most of B’s troubles occurred during the time when he was 10 months to 14 months, so I begged my PCP for a referral to a sleep clinic. Chris and I headed for the sleep clinic around the time B was 13 months old. The conversation with the doctor (if my memory serves me) went something like this:

Dr. (something that rhymes with “Witchface”): After hearing the problems, I am convinced that this is a behaaavioral problem and that B is clearly manipulating you into spending time with him in the hours during which you should all be sleeping.

Me: Uhhhh, I can’t really see how a 1 y.o. could consciously manipulate me. Plus he is not up trying to hang out with me and play, he is writhing and screaming like he is possessed at 11pm, 1am, 3:30am, 4am and 5:15am then he tries to sleep soundly from 5:30 to 7:30 am…then naps horribly too.

Dr: Right, well you’d be surprised how babies minds work. So my suggestion is to place him in his crib at 8pm after a quick bedtime routine and then turn off the monitor and buy some earplugs.

Me: So, we’ve actually tried to let him “cry it out” a few times and it was awful. He screamed for hours until he puked.

Dr. Well, he might do that this time, but just go into the room quietly, do not make eye contact, turn him away from you and change his jammies and bedsheets. Then leave again.

Me: Okay.

On the way home Chris asked me when we were going to try our new strategy. In tears, I practically yelled, “How ‘bout NEVER.” I explained to him that I tended to B’s needs all day long and I wasn’t just going to blow him off at night. After that I tried to gradually encourage B’s sleep by using super-consistent routines, bedtimes, aromatherapies, soothing foods etc. Somewhere around 14 months, he started sleeping better. Maybe it was what I did, and maybe he just grew out of some night-terrors, growing pains or some other problem that he was having.

And that all being said, B’s sleep gradually improved throughout his one-year-old year and by the time he was two he was doing fairly well, sleeping better and much happier. And, wouldn’t you know, a few months after he turned two I could FINALLY think about him having a sibling. About, 4 months after his 2nd birthday we got pregnant with S!

Here’s what I do remember and know about amazing S:

-He definitely has more laid-back personality, even though he is high-energy physically.

-He learns in his own way: by doing, experiencing, tasting and feeling life!

-He’s gorgeous, a real lady killer with golden curls and large dark-grey eyes.

-You can’t stay mad at him because he is so hilarious.

-He’s super-affectionate, it’s never hard to get a kiss, hug or cuddle out of him.

-He is a much much better sleeper than his brother.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Quiet Night....kind of...well, for two of us, anyway.

So, W was in big trouble tonight for being mean to his brother.  No fishing at the lake for him.  Big tears, big drama.  To avoid punishing the entire family (sorry, Christopher), J and I decided to have our own little outing.  When I asked him what he wanted to do, his answer was, of course, to go swimming.   It was just a little too chilly for the lake, so we were off to the Rec Center.  Apparently, it was just a little too warm to be inside this evening, because when we got there there were only two other people in the pool.  So we made some new friends and had a lovely swim, which included a game of Shark (in which I was the shark and the two kids were the humans that I was trying to eat who pretty much just hung around "safety" except for a handful of moments where they swam out about a foot and a half and then immediately back to safety) and lots of jumping from the starting blocks into the deep end.  J is very pleased that he can now swim without a floaty, and has taken to wearing flippers so he can really get some speed going in the pool (and they help him touch the bottom in the shallow end).  He's quite the little swimmer now and it makes us both very happy. 

After a nice shower, and a few minutes in the "hot room" (a.k.a. the sauna) to dry off, we got J into his jammies for the ride home.   Because we haven't done laundry in a while, J's jammies consisted of a pair of shorts that are legitimately pajamas (though the shirt is nowhere to be found at the moment) and a big t-shirt that he got from the  "running race" he was in earlier this summer.  Check this out to see what that was all about and to get a look at the cute little bear that's on what is now J's favorite sleeping shirt.  That boy went on and on about how he loves it, and how he's going to sleep really good tonight, not because of all the swimming we did, but because his shirt is so soft and cozy.  And of course, it reminds him that he won a medal in his running race.  Which makes him very happy (direct quote: "I'm happy that I won that medal."   And he really, really was....he wore that medal around his neck for three days.)   Thinking about his medal got him to pondering other prizes; he was sure to tell me that for running races you win a medal, but for driving races you win a Piston Cup.  And for swimming races, you win a glass cup.  (OK, that happened back when Jana and I were still the the Momlandia-planning stages, so quick summary: I did the swim portion of a triathlon with a good friend of ours, J's preschool teacher, actually.  And we won...for relays in our age-group.  But still, to J, that's winning!  And we were awarded a Vermont Sun pint glass, which seems a bit un-triathlon-y, but what the hell do I know? I just showed up and swam for 10 minutes, which I suppose makes it the perfect prize for me.   But I digress....)  So anyway, my glass-cup-not-a-piston-cup took a header out of the dish rack a few weeks ago.   And in the stream of consciousness zone my boy was in tonight, remembering that we had to recycle my award was the logical next thought:  medal --> piston cup --> glass cup --> broken cup --> :(   And my sweet little boy actually said to me "I'm sorry for you that your cup got broken."  Just like that, "I'm sorry for you."    So after I got done kissing his face off, he went right into problem solving mode and suggested that I just do the race with Nikki again, and win again, so we can get a cup again.  Which I totally could do, right? 

So my sweet little comfy-shirted boy and I headed home, snuggled down into bed with W (who was still up and marginally penitent), and read some Dragonbreath and some Harry Potter.  J was asleep about a page and a half into Harry.  Must have been the shirt. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Cool Dudes

S is starting to string words together. Which is neat, in most ways, except when he strings expletives together. That, not so neat.

His phrase of the day was "cool dude" mainly b/c he was wearing these really awesome sunglasses. Kinda like RayBan Wayfarers but with the neon sides. You know what I mean. The really cheap-o ones. And he had them on upside down.

So, S thinks he is cool for wearing some sunglasses, and hanging off the swing set and even donning my old white tap shoes and doing a little jig (which he did, buck naked, this morning). And since I think that all of those things are overwhelmingly cool, I encouraged his behavior wholeheartedly.

Conversely, his older brother B, who is embarrassed by everything, spent the day reminding S that he was not remotely cool. I tried to encourage a bit of silly in B today, but he wasn't having it. I hope in the future a little bit of S's brand of coolness rubs off on his older brother (i.e. the i-don't-give-a-flying-crap-who-thinks-this-is-hilarious type) and I also hope, in the name of S's future teachers, employers and law enforcement officials, that a bit of B's seriousness rubs off on his younger brother.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

At least I know where I stand....

J and I had a lovely day together.  W had spend the night at Cousin Kyle's house (thanks again, Kyle!) so it was just the three of us this morning.  Christopher slept in, while J and I got up, snuggled on the couch, watched some Batman, read some books, and played Bey Blades.  While Chris drove out to pick up the big boy, J and I went to the bookshop to buy a new Dragonbreath book, drove out to Hobson's Choice to pick up a little something for Jana that I can't wait to tell you all about but I don't want to ruin the surprise for her, came home and read a little Dragonbreath, then went for a walk. 

J and I walked for a while holding hands, then he took off running as hard as he could for a little while and I just watched him, thinking how big and strong he was getting.  He was so proud that he had run in a  "race" earlier this summer and kept talking about how that's probably why he was so much faster than I was, because I had never been in a running race, just in a swimming race.  When he wasn't running ahead of me, he just talked and talked....about where we were going, about how we should take all the little berries we found on the ground and throw them on the sidewalk so bad guys will slip on them, about what would happen if we threw them in the road and then cars would slip on them (but maybe just bad guy cars, I suggested, much to his relief), and on and on.  I held his warm little hand, and listened to him, asking questions and oohing and aahing at the right moments to encourage him to keep sharing what was running through his mind.  It was a beautiful walk; I swear to you, we even skipped part of the way home. 

I couldn't help myself, at one point I said to him "J, you know who I love?"  which I say all the time and in response I usually get a big sigh and a "yeah, I know, me; you say that all the time!"    But today, my sweet boy looked up at me and said, "Me. You know what I love?"  (and...wait for it, people...)  "Swimming."

I suppose I should have seen that one coming. 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Second Grade Is Going to Rock

W got a letter from his new teacher, Mr. Lane, today.   He told me about it on our walk this evening.

W: I got a letter from Mr. Lane today.  (My introductory sentence now seems even more brilliant, no?)
Me: Really?  That's cool.  What'd it say?
W: Just some stuff about second grade.  And, we have a new principal.  His name is Mr. Sumthinsumthincrazyname.  (Actually, he just kind of mumbled, and implied the crazy name, but this has a bit more flair, don't you think?)
Me: Yeah, he sent us a letter a few days ago, but I can't remember his name either.
W: No, Mr. Lane.  He sent a letter today.
[Brief intermission, while I explained that we actually received letters from both Mr. Lane and the school's new principal, who seems very nice and doesn't actually have a crazy name, though I still can't remember what it is.]
W: It's blue. 
Me: Huh?
W: He wrote it on blue paper.
Me: Oh, that's cool.  Can I see it?
W: Sure.  It's on our wall.
Me: What?
W: I hung it up on my bedroom wall.  I'll show you when we get home. 

How sweet is my boy that he was so happy and excited and proud to get a letter from his teacher that he taped it up to his bedroom wall?!

And it turns out that Mr. Lane is in a band that is playing in the local garlic festival on Labor Day weekend and he invited all of his students and their families to come see the show.  W also informed me (while we were on our walk) that sometimes Mr. Lane brings his guitar to school on Fridays; from the cool dance moves he pulled off while we were still walking down the street, I would say that W is pretty psyched about second grade.