Saturday, June 30, 2012

Gopeepeegetatreat!

As soon as the kitchen reno and Virginia Beach vacation were behind us I decided it was time to start potty training Jude.  I think a few people were surprised, including my husband who, after watching me clean up the fifth puddle that Saturday asked, "Are you sure you want to be doing this right now?"  Well, no.  I don't want to potty train right now.  But I also don't want to be changing diapers anymore, or wiping stinky poops, or washing more diapers, or spending money on disposable diapers ... There's nothing fun about potty training, well unless you're Jude and you get lots of treats.  But it needs to be done and Jude was ready.

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Julia is catching up to her brother's size!

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A little less laundry in my future, dare I hope!

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And adding another toddler-who-uses-the-toilet isn't such a big deal when you already have one.  I mean, if I'm going to be running to the bathroom every 15 minutes with Jack, might as well drag Jude along.  So inconvenience wasn't really an issue this time around.  Except for the first few days when I felt like I was constantly wiping up pee puddles and poop smudges from every surface of my house.  Okay, not every surface.  But a fair amount. 

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Both my boys use the potty like this.  I'm not sure how it started but it eliminates the need for training potties, keeps them from falling in AND helps get the pees in the pot!
But there's another advantage to working with a secondborn.  I've done this before.  I know what to expect, I know what not to expect. And I know it gets worse before it gets better.  And that's just what it did.
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Everyone has their own potty training philosophies - how to do it, when to start, when to give up.  We kind of do a modified 3-day training thing and I start when I'm ready (forget the kids!).  But Jude was ready too.  I could tell he was more aware of his "bodily functions," he understand bribery a little better, and he was interested in doing things his big brother could do.  I did want to wait until it got a little warmer though so I could let him run around pantless.  I'm glad I did because that's certainly Jude's M.O. these days.

Now that we're further along in the training, and he's doing so well, I try to put pants on him, I really do.  But he runs away too fast, thinks its a game and sometime between the point where the pants came off and my quest to find their owner I usually get sidetracked with a hungry baby, phone call, oven beeper, etc.  It also doesn't help that a.) my 2YO has the tiniest hiney ever and
without a diaper on can barely hold up his 18MO shorts and b.) he has to wear Tank's hand-me-down underwear which has been stretched way beyond it's normal size.  So Jude's pants fall down just from running ... or jumping.
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Which is why we have a lot of pictures like this lately:
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This was supposed to be Father's Day sidewalk chalk art, but Jude kinda stole the show.

And this, his "refuse to put my pants on" look:
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This one had dire consequences:

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The kid's also got initiative. He's learned how to pull his pants down on his own when he wants to go potty.
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Unfortunately, he's also resourceful and efficient and doesn't like to waste time actually traveling to the bathroom.  He knows he can't pee in the house, but he's learned from his brother that outside is fair game.  He has not learned that he should try to find a bush or tree to hide behind if he can't make it to the bathroom.  Which is why, on more than one occasion, I've found him out front (in wide open view of all our neighbors) watering the flower beds. 

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But other than the (lack of) pants issues, he's doing really, really well.  Just like Jack, the first two days seemed like we were getting no where.  Then finally I managed to keep him on the toilet long enough to actually have a success and ever since then he's got it!  For a while you could tell he was only trying to go potty just for a treat.  He'd sit there and grunt and groan and push.  And when nothing would happen he'd ask for "beep, beep, beeps!" because one time I pushed on his belly button and said "beep, beep, beep" to make him pee.  And when that doesn't work he asks for a cup of water because another time out of sheer exasperation I dumped a cup of cold water over his "front" and wouldn't you know it worked!  So he tries to do that one himself every once in a while. 

So we've got pees down (and the best part is he's almost always dry after naps and nighttime already!) and we've got poops almost down (we're 3 for ohhhh 20? at this point).  But he even stayed dry for Marmie and Poppa during his visit and that was after only one week of training.

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The naked chef.
Yes, "gopeepeegetatreat" is our new favorite "word" in this house.  And you can imagine how this is all affecting my loves-being-the-center-of-attention-firstborn who nows seems to think he deserves a treat for going pee pee in the potty too.  And who regularly reminds me that "Daddy gave me one, two, three, FOUR treats!" when I insist he can only take one.  (Thanks Jon!)

It's funny, I'm mom to three now and I still haven't figured out how to balance my time and attention among two.  I try to be fair, I want to be fair.  But then I need to remind myself that my kids are different.  They have different needs, they receive love in different ways.  And it's about this time - especially during weeks that I'm busy with work, Jon's gone a lot, we're trying to get ready for more travel, potty training a 2YO and trying to keep up with my baby's nutritutional needs - that I lay awake at night and wonder "Did I love them enough today? Did I give Jack my full attention when he talked to me? Did hold Jude a few extra minutes after his nap? Did I take the time to get a good laugh out of Julia? Did I attempt to answer at least a few of Jack's 843 'Why' questions? When was the last time I sat down and read to Jude, just Jude? What else can I do to make sure Julia's getting enough milk?" ... and on and on until I finally fall asleep.

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We're still working on sitting still while using the potty ... and waiting long enough to "get it all out."
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But apparently just sitting there is too boring.
And the honest answer is "no, not enough, never."  I try, oh I try.  And some days I am on it, and other days I completely blow it.  And some weeks (like this one) I seem to fall more on the "blow it" side of the spectrum.  If nothing else, motherhood has shown me how wholly inadequate I am.  The truth is I can't do it on my own, but for the grace of God.  Thankfully He covers what I can't.  And He goes way beyond all those scientific studies about reading to your kids, nutritional benefits of breastfeeding and the everlasting effects of one-on-one time.  Oh those things are all good, but they don't define me as a mother.  So I'll continue to do my best, I'll continue to fail occasionally ... or often, and I'll continue to rely on God's grace to cover the rest.

Wow. Not sure how I got to this point from "pee pee on the potty get a treat" so in an effort to bring things full circle I'll just mention that while it's been a difficult week and I've had more than my share of "failures" these past few days, at least one area has been a success.  I'm so stinkin' proud of my "big boy" (but not as big as Jack, his older brother would remind me) and the great job he's doing!  It's nice to know that, while Jude may have issues when he's older because his mom didn't read to him nearly as much as her firstborn, at least he'll be an expert at peeing on the potty!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Closing out another decade

So we left off with my waving goodbye to the boys as they headed off to Marmie and Poppa's house.  Now I don't want anyone to get this confused with Grandy Camp, that's not 'til later this summer.  This was just a spontaneous break for Jon and I, and it wasn't even my birthday yet!  It worked out because Jon was traveling again all that week, including my birthday, so I had decided earlier that the kids and I would head to PA for a few days.  And this plan just meant I'd have a quieter drive up on Monday!

Now if you're like my husband, you're probably thinking, "Geez, Janine, see your parents enough this summer?"  But you have to understand, we're at a temporary place in life where I am able to drive to visit my family.  We weren't there a few years ago and we might not be there a few years from now, so I'm taking advantage of it while I can.  And we're also at a temporary stage in life where we have the flexibility for these visits - my parents are retired but still able to travel, my job can be taken anywhere, and I don't have to work around school schedules.  And finally, my kids are only young once.  And they're too fun not to share.  And maybe I like the break every now and again. 

So Julia and I spent a VERY quiet day at home Monday before making the drive.  I got a lot done but it was still very strange.  I ended up borrowing an audio book from the library just for something to do on the trip.  And it worked out that she slept most of the way and I had an easy 3 hour drive.

When we got there it was cold!  I had only packed shorts and short sleeve shirts for the kids and the expected 90 degree weather but the first day was in the 60s.  So we had a bonfire and foil-pack dinners.

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But after that first night things quickly heated up and in typical Marmie and Poppa fashion we had a jammed pack schedule.

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Yard sale prize! Now to figure out how to get it home.
On Tuesday night we headed over to Knoebels, a.k.a. "The Fun Park."

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See how much fun Jude is having?!?
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First stop: Ferris Wheel
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Check out those amazing Central PA views!
  Poppa had a fat envelope of tickets leftover from previous years that were burning a hole in his pocket.  And we all enjoy a huge toddler smile and kiddie giggles every once in a while.

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Unsure.
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Sure.
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First time on a rollercoaster.
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Poppa had fun too!
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Too young to ride, and thankfully too young to realize what she's missing out on!
I love that these two can ride together now.

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Magic Carpet Ride - they've been using the same "magic carpets" since I was Jack's age.
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On Wednesday I opted to go to the local farmer's market with Julia while the grandparents took the boys fishing.  From what I heard they had a very successful day.  And Jack finally had a chance to test out his new fishing rod.

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"Mom, 'patient' means waiting quietly."
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As part of my birthday present my parents got me a "make-over" and a gift card for some new make-up.  Confession: other than a few random things I've picked up from Target the last time I really bought make-up was in high school.  Eek.  I decided it was time to ditch the Mary Kay foundation I've had since my senior year and start over from scratch.  It was fun to feel a little pampered, and Julia enjoyed waving to everyone that walked past while I got "done over."  Other than the initial "I think I just spent way too much money on my looks" feeling that lasted for a few hours, I'm pretty happy with my new goods!

From there we went to Nonnie and Poppie's to let the boys go swimming and get in a visit with their other grandparents.  We also go to see Aunt Katie, Aunt Rachel and a few of the cousins.  It's just so convenient having all our family in the same place!

And then Thursday, the day I turned 29.  I'm still young enough to admit my age, I think.  Or maybe I just don't care.  But I've got one more year of my 20s and when you put it like that it sounds awful young.  We decided a visit to R.B. Winter State Park was in order.  It was a glorious day, the long country drive was a gift in itself, and the cold lake water immensely refreshing.  Plus it was a beach (as far as Pennsylvania beaches go) and you know my family simply loves the beach.

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I hadn't been to "Halfway Dam" (no idea why it's also called that) since elementary school, when we used to visit every year on the last day of school.  If you haven't been there in that long either, let me tell you, it's definitely improved. 

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Sneaky Jude!
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Too bad I forgot my swimsuit.  And sunscreen.  So I spent most of the day under the umbrella holding a napping baby.  But heck, look at that view!

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We finished off the visit (and 6 days of birthday celebration) with dinner at The Fence.  I timed my departure perfectly.  It had been a long day and an even longer week.  The boys were exhausted. So I had the kids already in their jammies when we left and knew Jon would be there to help me carry sleeping babies to their beds when we arrived home.  Turned out, the boys never slept and Jon was two hours late.  Jude started screaming as soon as he recognized our exit (for some reason he thought we were going to "the beach" not home) and both boys threw fits when they found out they would be going right to bed.  Meanwhile I had a hungry, just-wants-some-time-with-mommy girl who had maxed out her patience.  Strange, I can travel with 3 little kids.  Several-hundred mile drives are nothing for me anymore.  Pit stops at the gas station and raised eyebrows from fellow travelers as I cart my brood back to the restroom - no biggie.  But coming home, getting everyone ready and in their beds,  unloading the car and unpacking all the bags.  THAT it tough.  But really, in the end?  Well worth it.

And that's how I'll close out my 28th year.  It's been a good one, lots have happened over the past 12 months.  I am not in the place I envisioned I would be at this age.  But I'm definitely some place better. And I can honestly say I've never been happier.  (Okay, there are a few days when I also think I've never been so miserable, but overall?  So happy.)  And while I loved the celebrations, presents, sweet messages and just knowing that so many out there were thinking of me on my day, my real gifts were right here all along - letting me know that "maybe when I get older I can drive the car!" informing me that the "beach" is "DAT WAY, DAT WAYYYYYY!!!!" and fighting to keep her eyes open to lock with mine just one more time before giving in to dreamland.  Gosh, I love those kids.  Can't wait to spend another year with them.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Surprises of the non-pregnant variety

I just wanted to put that out there from the get-go since we are approaching the 9 month mark and all, and since my last post about a surprise was regarding some, well surprising news.  Glad we got that cleared up.

No, this time I was the one surprised.  My birthday was yesterday and since last year's birthday was a bit drab my hubby decided to up the ante a bit.  We made plans to spend the day at Inner Harbor, Baltimore for the Sailabration (celebration of the 200 year anniversary of the War of 1812 - as my brother pointed out, not sure why we're celebrating the beginning of a war and not the end ...).  There were a number of tall ships in port that week along with some festivities at the harbor and an air show in the afternoon.  We met up with Uncle Jared and were about to check out our first stop - Coast Guard Cutter Eagle - when I noticed someone looking an awful lot like my older brother walking towards me.  And then I heard my mom's voice burst forth in the birthday song.

And yes, as the story goes, I did turn around and walk away from them.  Forgive me folks, I don't get surprised very often and when I do it takes me a little longer to process things.  I was still working out all the details in my head hours after the event.  So anyway, I got to spend the day (and the rest of the weekend) with my whole family and that's reason enough to celebrate.

Our first order of business was to board Eagle but as it turns out they weren't open to the public and we couldn't get them to open to my Handsome Coastie either so we had to settle for pictures out in front.

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Not too many pictures of this day because it was very, very hot and I had a napping, sweating little girl hanging off my chest all day. 

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This was a slave ship exhibit ... Jack was really getting into character.  He wouldn't even look up at the camera.
We left Inner Harbor and headed across the water to watch the air show later in the afternoon.  It was a great show with the highlight being an appearance by the Blue Angels.  I won't bore you with my amateur attempts to capture moving jets from great distances, but just to give you an idea ...

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Julia was more interested in Marmie's necklace than the jets.

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By then the kids were hot, tired and hungry.  Okay, so maybe the adults were too.  We all came back to our place for dinner.  You see, this really was a complete surprise to me.  I never once caught on.  Not even when my husband cleaned the house from top to bottom on Friday night.  Not even when he arose early Saturday morning and volunteered to go grocery shopping.  Not even when he came home with bags and bags of food and a rather long receipt, despite my lecture on not getting too much before we both were out of town for the week.  And not even after noticing the large dinner he had planned when it was only going to be us and Uncle Jared.  Of course, there were the things I didn't notice either.  Like the birthday candles he picked up, or the fact that he made the guest bed while I was feeding the baby.  He did well.

And I was all too happy to let him take over.  I felt a little ill-prepared for weekend guests, especially after I had just completed a no-grocery-shopping-eat-from-the-pantry-only week, but my family is pretty easy to please anyway.  Jon made a phenomenal grilled salmon (my favorite) and salad.  And "contributed" an angel food cake with strawberries for dessert.  And then we got to sing and blow out candles, and of course the boys just loved all that.

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And then it was time for presents!!  I won't go through everything I got because that would be weird, but let's just say we have our work cut out for us this weekend with all my new "homesteading" goodies.

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Julia loves her Uncle Micah ...
Dishes were washed, kids were bathed and put to bed and we finally sat down to play a game.  My choice, since it was my birthday, so I went with an oldie but a goodie  - Pit!  We haven't played this in YEARS but I have fond memories of screaming commodities across the table with my family, attempting to corner the market and all the while snickering at my senile Great Aunt Edie who had no idea what she was doing but always wanted to play anyway.  Good times.  Poor Jon was the only one who had never played before but it proved not to be a factor and he soundly beat us all.

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Uncle Micah has "the touch."
Everyone spent the night so we could celebrate Father's Day together.  And since I hadn't done any grocery shopping or menu planning that week, we decided to eat out at one of our favorite local, and most manly, restaurants - Mission BBQ.  The food is great here but honestly I just like the service and atmoshere.  And, since it was Father's Day, they had a little set-up where they would take your family's picture in front of the smoker and put it in a special Dad's Day frame.  Here was our family's (notice Julia's wave, it's starting to reach a point where her hand is in the air more often than it's not).

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After lunch we rushed home, threw together an overnight bag for the boys and packed them in the car to send them home with Marmie and Poppa.  Okay, not exactly.  The grandparents asked if they could take the boys for the night to give us a break and we said "of course!"  And when Jack and Jude found out they were headed to Marmie and Poppa's they were so excited we had to hold them back until everything was ready.  But I will say, I am most thankful not only for parents who are willing to take my kids overnight on their own (especially since we just started potty-training Jude this week) but also for kids who love to visit their grandparents and have no qualms whatsoever about leaving Mom and Dad.  I think.  I mean, it is a little strange that they literally just waved bye and jumped in the car with no thought of when they would see me again.  Turns out, it was the next day but they didn't know that!

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"Bye Mom!"
Well anyway.  Jon and I (along with sweet baby Julia) spent a quiet evening at home that night.  And it would have been more than enough if my birthday had ended there.  But no, there's more.  In fact, it's now the day after my birthday and we're still on the celebration train.  But we'll save all that for another post.  Until next time!
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