Thursday, June 26, 2008

Potty Refusing

It would seem logical that at this point in my motherhood journey that I would be in the throes of potty training. I mean, the boys are 3 years old, after all. Most people I know with a 3 year old child are either done or at least well on the way. Not us.

We introduced the potty quite some time ago, and the boys have treated it as mostly a novelty concept. It was interesting at first, and, as most novelties go, the excitement quickly faded and they were over it. I have read much on this topic, and have received plenty of advice as well. They are just NOT INTERESTED. And though I think that I could be giving it more effort, I honestly don't think they are truly ready. But there is a glimmer of hope. They have just begun dressing themselves. They want some help here and there, but they are now fully capable of taking off and putting on clothes That is an important step in potty training!

There are other critical signs of readiness that they are currently NOT displaying, however, which leads me to believe that they need a bit more time before they will truly "get it." But I think that we are going to attempt a "potty bootcamp" of sorts, just to see if it takes. Because if all that stands in the way of diaper freedom is my lack of effort, then I need to at least give it a good college try. So once we are back from vacation we're going to do it. I'm thinking of having them go every hour, and either having them in underwear or naked bottoms for a few days. We'll do a sticker chart, give rewards for consistency...all that jazz. And we'll try to do it without shaming them or making them feel too much pressure.

I am just so tired of changing the most disgusting diapers, from children who are pleased as punch to sing-songily announce yet again, "no potty prizes today!"

Wish us luck.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Fuel Fury

We are getting ready to take a road trip here in a couple of weeks, and I am agonizing over the price of gas. $4.17 a gallon? And could go higher? It's an outrage! So I am busy trying to (finally) sell some stuff to make money for gas for our vacation.

That aside, I am also experiencing some anxiety over having all 3 kids strapped in for any length of time (and I'm talking 10+ hours in one day). The big boys have always been pretty good travelers, but this is our first such journey with the baby. And I am trying to cover the bases with how we'll manage (get some exercise at rest stops, take plenty of snacks, have the portable DVD player going...), but I'm soliciting advice here. Anyone have good tips for travel with a trio of tots?

Saturday, June 14, 2008

It's a Beautiful Day and...

My kiddos are sick with fever. Bleh. George woke up yesterday with a fever, and was very whiney and lethargic all day, while Joshua seemed even more spastic than normal. And now today they both have fevers. This because it is impossible (for me, anyway) to keep them from sharing things. I turn my head and next thing I know one of them is drinking out of the other's cup. I have been fiercely trying to keep them from touching and kissing the baby. I pray he doesn't get sick now too (or Chris or myself, for that matter).

Now as I type this, George has woken up from his nap in hysterics (like he did yesterday as well), because he is not good at being sick.

And it is the most beautiful day outside. Sunny, warm, a gentle breeze...but we will not be going to the zoo, or the park, or anywhere there might be other children. And we won't be attending church tomorrow. But we will likely go to my parents' house since they are out of town, and at least let the kiddos play in their backyard. If they feel like it.

And just for run, here are some pictures from when they were NOT sick on a nice day.

An unassuming sand box turtle that Chris picked up from someone's curb (one man's trash, right?).

I think I'll just take a peek inside. What's this?! Two peas in a turtle (er, pod). And now there's sand in there. What fun is that.

Friday, June 13, 2008

For the Love of....Worms?

Joshua is obsessed with all things creepy crawly. Both of the big boys are, really, but especially Josh. He relishes the attempt to swat a fly. He gushes over every little ant. He swoons at the sight of ladybugs. And he thinks worms are "cute." Cute? Ok, Josh.

As our backyard has yet to dry out, there are ample opportunities to find big, juicy worms in the yard. And there is no hesitation to pick them up, fondle them endlessly, let them dry out, and even pull them apart (despite Mommy's pleas to put them in the garden). My sentiments: YUCK. I am no worm lover. And yet I must refrain from cringing at the sight of squirmy worms, being thrust into my face by my over-enthusiastic toddlers who really want me to love them as much as they do. I must feign excitement, lest they pursue me with them even more because they know I am NOT a fan (they get a kick out of that stuff - very boy behavior). So I pretend to like worms (but I try not to touch them).

Here is one such occasion:

I have so many years to endure this stuff...

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

My Cake Repertoire

Cake decorating has become somewhat of a hobby for me. Well, at least it's a once a year hobby. I did it the very first time for the boys' first birthday. And I'm self-taught, no less. I have used a lot of helpful resources along the way, but have never taken any formal classes (though I would like to, in my spare time - HA!). So far, I find cake decorating to be a fun diversion. An exciting challenge. A creative outlet. And a lot of work and stress.

And I can't just seem to make a theme cake and leave it at that. I totally go overboard (ask my mom), and MUST make mini cakes for the kids to each have their very own. It's my thing. And they love it.

This year I branched out. I made cakes for my nephew's 5th birthday party as well as making the boys' cakes for their birthday. It was my first time using a shaped pan (my mom got it at a garage sale, otherwise I would never have bought it). I have to admit, it made the cake decorating a lot easier.

Will I continue the trend? I'm not sure. I'd like to think so. I go to this website and get tons of inspiration and then get all jazzed up about possibilities for next year (beware - you can spend hours looking!). I have my mom on the lookout for more garage sale cake pans. And I've been very pleased so far with the way the cakes have turned out so far (and the reaction people give upon seeing them), so I thought I'd show what all I've done so far. So here they are, in all their sugary splendor:

First birthday cakes for George & Joshua. George with his little cake. And Joshua with his mini cake. This was their first taste of cake, and they ate every last bite of it. Then they had blue poop for 4 days (something I had not anticipated). The 2nd year birthday cakes. This was the practice mini cake, and the lighting was not good in this picture. As you'll see in the next photo, the fish were much brighter orange.
See? That's better. This year they weren't quite as interested in cake. They just wanted to run around and play. They did eat a fair amount, but nothing like the first year. Typical 2-year-old. Here's the underwater scene cake I made for the rest of us. This one is probably my favorite thus far. I actually made those seashells too. And here I am with my masterpiece:

For 3rd birthday cake pics, go here.

My nephew's 5th birthday party cakes:
Black Spiderman (this was the one I used the molded cake pan for).
Spiderman Face Mini Cake

The accompanying cupcakes:

All of the Spidey cakes on the beautifully decorated cake table.
And my nephew with his cake. Does it bother me that he didn't seem to care about it in the first place and only took a bite or two out of it? Not really (I have a theory that he just doesn't enjoy cake that much - at least that's what I'm telling myself). I still enjoyed making it. And looking at it. And blogging it.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Red Hot Ear

For some strange reason, and seemingly at random (though there may be a specific cause), George will have one ear that is red and hot, while the other is normal and cool. I remember when I first started noticing it and was telling Chris about it, and he mentioned that he had the same thing. He said he could sometimes feel that his ear (or ears) would be hot. George is very proud of his bi-temperature ears, and we joke about it when the occasion arises.

Here is evidence of this genetic anomoly:

The normal cool ear:

The red hot ear:

The front view of both ears (and he's practicing his suprise face):

Drumroll Please...

Monday, June 9, 2008

My Nursing Saga

For those of you not interested in the details of lactation (I'm thinking of the male readers here), feel free to skip this post. For those of you who decide to read on, beware that I may use some graphic references and possibly borderline crude language (I'm OK with it, but you never know whose sensibilities I might offend). Also, this is going to be a long post.
**End of Disclaimer**

I nursed twins for a year. Twins. TWO babies. Simultaneously (for the most part). For a YEAR. When I think back on that experience, it is hard to believe that I was able to do that. I want to beat my chest (except that I'm lactating now and that would hurt) in triumph. I must be SuperMom! Of course I feel that is nothing compared to some friends I know who nursed during pregnancies and THEN ended up nursing two (a toddler and a newborn). I don't think I could have ever done that. Especially not while pregnant. Anyway.

It was not easy. The first six weeks were downright brutal. For one thing, I was recovering from major surgery. We had to work through issues like bleeding, cracking, blisters...and that was just the nipple trauma. When my milk first came in, George couldn't handle it. He had been doing fine with the colostrum, but had trouble latching once the jugs got really full of milk. He would just scream in frustration because he was really hungry and it was too much work to get the milk. It took some very heartbreaking sessions with him and finally some consultations from a lactation specialist to get him to where he could manage it well (we had to "prime" him with a tiny bit in a bottle first to take the edge off and that seemed to do the trick). Then there was the issue of Joshua wanting to nurse for an hour at a time or more. That was killing me, time-wise and pain-wise. I was advised to cut them off at 20 minutes, and that completely changed my life! They did great, and I remained sane. The babies became very effecient, and it was way easier than having to deal with bottles all the time (though they didn't have a problem with taking bottled breastmilk either, until they refused it at 9 months). It saved us a fortune, as I was blessed with an ample milk supply. I never had to struggle for milk - when I pumped I got plenty to store up in the freezer, and the boys nursed what they needed and grew very well. They never had a drop of formula (even though I tried a couple of times when they were older babies - just out of curiousity and since I had a ton of sample cans - but they wouldn't touch it). I knew if I had any more babies, they would be nursed. Period.

I was excited during my pregnancy with Blake at the idea of only nursing one baby. Imagine! It will be a breeze! Plus I've done this before, so I know what I'm doing, right?

Blake came into the world, and immediately had trouble nursing. The nurse said he had "tongue incoordination." What?? He also has a short frenulum (but is not tongue tied). He also has a high palette. And he had jaundice, so I could barely rouse him to eat. I would try for an hour and a half sometimes just to get him and keep him awake to eat. They tried sugar water to no avail. They tried feeding him formula (while I cried because my baby was having so much trouble getting the milk I HAD available), but he wouldn't take that either.

I tried pumping, but only a few drops of colostrum would come out (I never was able to pump that stuff). The lactation nurses worked with me again and again to get him to latch properly. And my milk came in with a vengeance on the 3rd day post-partum, and he seemed to be getting the hang of it. Then we went home, and his jaundice got worse. We had to do the bili-blanket for a few days, and that cleared it up. We went back for his 2-week checkup, and he had not gained ANY weight. I had a feeling things weren't all hunky dory, as my breasts stopped feeling really full before a feeding. But I also had friends who said that their breasts never felt as full with the second child and everything was fine and normal. So I chalked it up to that. But he was pretty colicky, especially in the middle of the night. Gripe water seemed to help some, but not a lot.

I didn't mention the pain I was enduring. He was causing creases, blisters, cracks...stuff I had been through before. No less painful the second time around.

It turned out that he was dehydrated (in my mind: starving). Oh, the guilt. The heartbreak. How could this happen to such an experienced nurser as myself? My baby had no energy to eat, but because he wasn't eating, he could not get the energy he needed to eat. See my dilemma? So I started pumping and we supplemented. I would nurse him for 20 minutes (about all I could handle pain-wise), then give him breastmilk (or formula if breastmilk was not available) out of a bottle. And he started plumping right up. And he was so much happier! And he slept so much better! And I had severe guilt about starving my poor child for two weeks. Now my dilemma became an issue of whether or not bottle feeding him would get in the way of nursing successfully.

I went to a lactation specialist. She discovered that I have a condition called "nipple vasospasm." This condition causes me pain while nursing or pumping (like an irritation - a burning/stinging sort of sensation). I had this the entire time I nursed the twins too, but it was never so bad that I thought there was something wrong. I just assumed that it just came with the territory. I have since found out that many women nurse completely pain free. She gave me many tips and tricks to try. I bought a special nursing pillow. I started taking supplements to help increase my supply. And more supplements to help with the vasospasm. We had multiple appointments with the doctor (to monitor weight gain and the jaundice) and the lactation consultant. And we seemed to do a bit better. And for about a month, my baby nursed pretty well. And pretty much exclusively. I knew I had it figured out. Because again, it was once we crossed that 6-week threshold that things seemed to fall into place. I knew if I just hung in there for the first 6 weeks, we could make it work. Though I was ready to throw in the towel SO many times. But I made it.

Then, for whatever reason, he started to nurse less. But he would scream for more. So I started supplementing him again. And he began to refuse the breast more and more. I was at my wit's end. I did NOT want to go backwards - I have two toddlers to care for. At least during the first 6 weeks, I could devote myself to nursing - my mom was living with us and helping out with the big boys and everything else.

After a lot of wrestling with myself, I finally decided to pump exclusively. For a while he would still take the breast in the middle of the night (he liked it to be calm and quiet, which only happens in this house at night - another obstacle in our nursing path), so I'd nurse him then plus I offered it to him here and there. But over time he pretty much rejected it entirely. And I had to work really hard to get my milk supply to a point where I could pump enough, because of his lazy sucking habits.

For a little over 3 months, I gave it my all and then some. I am gradually getting over the guilt of not nursing him (could I have done more?). But then I remember that it wasn't my fault, and he's still getting the good stuff, so that is what matters. And I did try - more than most would, I imagine. And it is working out really well for us this way. He is a very distracted eater as it is anyway, which does not bode well for nursing. Plus he can be a snacker at times, just eating a couple of ounces here and there. And I don't have time to sit down and nurse him every time he needs a snack (and I don't think he would nurse while being worn, as we had positioning issues as well - hence the purchase of the special pillow). But with bottle feeding, anyone can do it. So Christopher can help me with the overnights (to my everlasting gratitude), and I don't have to worry about leaving him with anyone because they can feed him too! So I will say it is more convenient for us, overall. But I do have to deal with washing/sterilizing bottles and pump accessories. I think it's a small price to pay to ensure that my baby gets his mommy's milk.

I never dreamed that nursing a single child could be more difficult than nursing twins, but that has been my experience. Nothing like a baby unwilling to do what he's "asked" to humble a gal.

I will post another day about the reality of exclusive pumping. For now I have to wrap it up, because my baby needs his bottle.

Friday, June 6, 2008

On a Roll

Blake rolled over for the first time yesterday. And we missed it. He was having some tummy time in his crib, and the rest of us were out in the livingroom/kitchen area. Then Chris went in to check on him and comes back out and says "Guess what Blake did?" Sure enough, he was on his back when Chris went to get him.

I'm sure when I actually see him roll and can take footage of it for myself - THAT will be what I consider to be his first time rolling. Not this - I'll do it myself when you're not looking Mom - nonsense. Huff.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The Early Bird Gets the Grief

We are a family of late sleepers. At least we used to be. I've always been most grateful to have babies that sleep well. When George & Joshua were babies, they would get up, eat, and go back to sleep until late into the morning. And that worked great for me, as I am not a morning person but a hardcore night owl (case in point - it is now 3:12am). Blake seems to follow that pattern as well.

For about a year or more, we had a consistent get-up time of around 9:00am. Or it would be somewhere between 9:00-9:30. And if they stayed up late or missed a nap, we could sometimes count on a 10:00am wakeup (bliss!), or even later. Then over the past 6 months or so (late into pregnancy for me, of course), we had a shift in the morning rise time. It started being 8:30am. Consistently. For a while. Then it went back to 8:00am. Which was fine with me - 8:00am is a perfectly reasonable time. In fact, it would be my preferred time, because it's not too early and not too late.

Once the baby came home, it seemed like suddenly the wake-up time switched yet again, to 7:30am or so. I started lamenting these changes. What a cruel thing to do! And the fact is that it's just George that is doing all of the getting-up. It's like a switch was turned on (or off), and suddenly he is an early bird that cannot sleep late. Josh could sleep a lot later, if George would let him. In fact, the whole house would sleep later if George didn't get up early.

And Daylight Savings Time has really done a number on us. We went from 8:00pm bedtime (sometimes 8:30) to a 9:30pm bedtime(sometimes 9:00) . And guess what? George still gets up at 7:30am. And now it seems that no matter what time they go to bed he wants to get up that early. And even if they skip a nap, he gets up that early. Granted, he will most likely take a good nap the next day, but he still maintains the consistent 7:30am wake-up time. I think the latest we can get him to sleep (like on the weekends) is 8:30am, if we're very lucky (which is not often). So we strive for an 8:00-8:30pm bedtime whenever possible.

I guess there could be benefits to him being an early riser. When he gets older I can make it one of his chores to make coffee (or breakfast for that matter - dream big!) before I get up. Or he can make sure the rest of us get up on time should we do the habitual snooze button routine. But for now I'm just going to have to start getting myself to bed earlier and try not to deem him the black sheep for his sleeping habits.

Out of the Mouths of Babes

George's verbal ability astounds me. His conversational skills might even best some of adults I know. Likewise, his ability to reason sometimes gets me in trouble (I try to get away with things, but he doesn't let anything slide). I wish I could remember more of what he says. Or take the time to write it down. If I could see my way to manage it, I could probably post something every day that George says that cracks me up or makes me think. I could call it "George's Gems." Hmmm....maybe I should start carrying a digital recorder around to capture it all (although the boys would find it and want to play with it/destroy it). Well, here are a few things I did manage to capture anyway:

  • We were sitting in the parking lot of the video store waiting for Chris, and we were watching the traffic signals. We were discussing the various lights and what they mean. "Green means go. Red means stop. What does yellow mean, Mommy?" I said, " Yellow means 'Proceed with Caution.'" And George said, "Hmmm....yeah, yellow means go."
  • We were driving somewhere and listening to a bouncy song on the radio. George was kicking his feet in time to the music. I said "Sing, George!" He replied, "I'm singing with my feet!"
  • One of the presents we bought with the boys' birthday Target gift card is a little foam gun that you can squeeze that shoots foam rockets. Chris was playing with the boys while I was making dinner, and I heard George say "Daddy, I just LOVE playing rockets."

When I get annoyed with his constant babble and the sheer volume of his voice, I need to remember how much I appreciate his penchant for words and speaking. For those are things I enjoy as well. And I need to also be patient with him, as I remember that I annoy others with my blather. Which reminds me of my favorite quote (that aptly describes me):

"I am nothing if not redundant. And I also repeat myself." -Richard Fish, from Ally McBeal

*Update* Just this morning. My mom was here, and I had her give the baby some formula (usually he gets breastmilk in the bottle). He only ate a little, as he had already had his breastmilk and was pretty much full. I was in the kitchen, and my mom says to me "George had a bite of formula and didn't like it one bit." And then George says, "Mommy, you need to pump something better!" I about wet myself.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

That's Not Food

My Joshy loves to put things in his mouth. Still, at 3 years old, everything must go in his mouth. And he also MUST touch things. He takes that after his dad. At least now he is pretty good about asking permission to do such things. His main questions in life are:

1) Can I touch it?
2) Can I eat it?
3) Can I have it?

Often times I must answer in the negative. For he is the gross child who, in an innocent curious child-like fashion, would eat dog poop (he really wants to know what dog poop tastes like. And no, he has never tasted or touched dog poop. Yet.). He told me yesterday that he ate a rock. I asked him where he got it, and he said "outside." We had not been outside yet, so I'm not sure what it was or where he got it. But he had a look of disdain on his face, and asked for a drink. I'm hoping it was just a dirt clod. I did see something black-ish in a couple of his back teeth. I suppose it could have been a pebble, that had dislodged from someone's shoe and was somewhere in the carpet (wouldn't surprise me, what with my wanton lack of housekeeping).

And a couple of days before that, he ate an ant. That one was my fault. See, he is obsessed with bugs (and worms), and so he likes to pretend he has an ant or ladybug or fly in his fingers (or that some food is one of the aforementioned bugs - like peanuts are ladybugs - yummy!). And he pretends to eat it. My mom happened to be over this particular day, otherwise I'd never have known it really happened. But he came over to me, as he has many times before, and told me he had a bug in his fingers and asked if he could eat it. I said "Sure, eat it." And he pretended (or so I thought) to eat it, and said "Yum! That's good!" Then my mom said - "Oh! He just ate a bug!" How was I to know there was a real bug (we think it was an ant) betwixt his inquisitive little fingers? Oops. So now we have a running joke that ants are a "tasty snack" (a la Bear Grylls). And I have to remind Josh many times daily that ants (among other things) are "NOT food."

I have no idea how many times Joshua has sneakily eaten ants without my knowledge. Lord knows there are many to choose from in the house these days (something I'm working to rectify). He loves to catch them, squish them, and yes. Eat them. I may have a true survivor on my hands.

4 Months and Going Strong

My baby is 4 months old. I guess I'm a bit late in putting that up here; he is almost 4.5 months old. He's getting so big! He pretty much just skipped over size 3-6 months. He's wearing 6-9 month clothing now. Anyway, here are the 4-month stats:

Weight: 14lbs 14oz
Height: 25 3/8 inches
Head Circumference: 42.1cm
Growth Percentile: Around 50th for weight and head, and a little above 50th for height

He is really something. He is very happy and smiley, and also laughs a lot. It is too precious! His big bros are obsessed with trying to get him to laugh or smile. They just love him to pieces. Sometimes I wish they'd love him a little more gently and quietly, but I guess it's nice that they like having him around.

Here's my happy little guy:

Monday, June 2, 2008

Rain, Rain, GO AWAY

This has been a pretty wet Spring. And our backyard is already in the swamp category. We live near an underground stream, our yard slopes slightly downward, AND we have a septic system. These things have made it very difficult to get our garden planted early enough. We ended up getting two loads of topsoil for the two patches of garden, in hopes that the elevation would keep at least that portion dry enough. So far - NOPE. So we will end up planting way late again this year. We had to plant late last year as well, but it was still earlier than now (so my dad informs me - I cannot really remember the exact time).

What's worse is that our yard itself has been an icky, squishy, marshy mess as well (I don't remember it being like this last year). Hubs did some research and found that with a family of five we need to get our septic system drained every 7 months or so. Hmm...we've been here two years so far.

Last week we got our septic tank pumped. Hurray! It seemed to help immediately. Take that, rain! And then, we got some serious precipitation on Friday night. And our sump pump got clogged, which we didn't realize until I went down to get a cake board and noticed several inches of standing water in parts of our basement! I mean, our entertainment area and storage space! Yikes. And then Saturday night there was a follow-up downpour. AND Chris looked yesterday and noticed that our septic tank is now completely full again - with water. Ugh. So since we have had NO time to do any sort of clean-up in the basement as of yet, that will be our project du jour for a while. Because we have TONS of stuff down there.

And thus prompts the upcoming search and purchase of plastic storage containers for all items that are to be kept on the floor. And more shelving to keep boxed items off of the floor. Which we don't have time or money to accommodate. We'll figure something out.