happy valentine’s day

I like making a big deal out of … pretty much every holiday. I would even love to get crazy about President’s Day and St. Patty’s Day and everything. But I have laundry to do, so those other holidays get overlooked, but not Valentine’s Day!! I signed up to bring cookies to both of my boys’ classes and I’ve been planning their little valentines for a week now. So here are my designs. Oh, I ended up taking over Christina’s boys’ valentines too. They are below … oh yeah … and a few pictures of the babies :)

The candy that is supposed to go with his is “Pop Rocks” … but they were too expensive, so I got ring pops instead.

Obviously … the candy is M&M’s

Christina’s boys’ candy are going to be Starbursts.

I was watching Emily and Zac while Christina was at Scouts with our older boys – Ben, Rocco and Noah. Emily and Ray are “frenemies” (friend/enemies). Today was a special day. They were friends and were playing pretty happily together. The cutest and best part of the evening was watching Ray while he was in his highchair. He would yell to Emily and say a ton of nonsense words to her and outstretch his hand. Emily would grab a dinosaur out of this bucket of dinosaurs and hand it to him and grunt back at him. Then Ray would smile and set up the dinosaur so it was standing on his highchair. Then he’d yell at Emily again. This went on for several minutes, until Ray’s highchair table was full of dinosaurs. Beautiful to watch.

the little game we play

I have so much to blog about – Christmas, the boys’ latest Valentines for school, beach trips in January … all very good stuff accompanied with many pictures. But I don’t have time to do all that. I will tomorrow, but today I wanted to document the little game Ray and I play.

On Friday night, Jeff and Christina came over to watch a movie with us. After Jeff put Emily down to sleep in the pack-n-play in my closet, he came downstairs and said, “Did you know that all your medicine is in your tub in your bathroom?” I nonchalantly answered, “yeah”.

Every day I need to shower (we’re using the words “every day” loosely here), and I usually have time to do it after Noah and Liam go to school. I’m so busy in the mornings making breakfast for everyone, making lunches for everyone, driving kids to school and trying to work out that I don’t have time to shower until it settles down, mid-morning. But by then, Ray is wide awake and not ready for his afternoon nap yet and I have no one to watch Ray. So I get in the shower anyway.

My shower is a glass stall, so I can see the bathroom around me just fine. I close the door to my room, bring in toys from Ray’s room and let Ray meander about my room (doing a drunken, stumble walk) while I shower. And we play this game where I pretend not to see him doing dangerous things – like playing with medicine. In my defense, I know that all of them have child safety caps on them, so that makes it better right?

For some reason, he never plays with the toys I bring in my room for him, no matter how interesting they are, nothing compares to a bottle of Advil, evidently. So, because I can see him, but not really get out of the shower, dripping wet and stop him from opening and closing, opening and closing and finally opening then playing with the contents of the medicine cabinet, I let him do it. It’s wrong and dangerous and I am a terrible mother, I know. He usually takes the medicine out, then dumps it in the tub next to the shower and I just watch. I used to yell from the shower, “Raaaaay, no. Stop! Ray, close the door. Close the door, Baby. Right now. Raaaaaay, close the door. yeah!!! Good!!!! Thank you …. no. wait, close it, stop. Put it back buddy. Noooooo, put it down. Down. Yes, now close the door” … you get the idea. I spent the entire shower coaxing a 20 month old to stay away from the medicine cabinet. Anyway, I finally went to Target and got the child locks and I will install them tomorrow, but for a little while, that just happened.

Let it begin

Here we go. I am now officially the mommy of a toddler …. again. I have dreaded this moment and kept telling myself and others, “he’s still my little baby”, but that is all past now. I think I need to accept this and move forward. Ray is in the terrible twos. How do I know, you might ask? There are quite a few tell-tale signs:

1. He’s moody. That’s putting it lightly. Some people have bad days, but Ray has bad hours or minutes, which rapidly turn into hysterically happy ones with a crazy grin, giggles and him saying, “uh yights?” That is his word for everything these days “yights”. I don’t know what it means. I thought he was saying “lights” at first because he was noticing all the lights on the tree and outside, but now he’ll say it when he hears a train, opens a door, sees Noah … pretty much anytime.

2. He’s very needy. He gets this way everyday from about 3 pm until he goes to bed … sometimes earlier in the day, like 1 pm on, but at least by 3 pm it hits. And I always check to see if it’s something he actually needs – like a diaper change, or maybe he’s thirsty or hungry. nope. He just wants me to sit and hold him. It doesn’t suffice that I am within 12 inches of him, I must be doing nothing but holding him in my arms, so that I cannot do anything else.

3. If for some terrible reason I am not doing what he wants (which seems to happen quite a lot), he does what I have dubbed the “Velociraptor scream”. It’s a developmental milestone with my boys. They all did it and now so does Ray. They scream in a high pitched tone that cuts immediately to the inner ear. It’s very disturbing … to everyone within a 1000 ft radius.

4. He is not capable, anymore, of playing appropriately or with appropriate items. For instance, he has a small play kitchen in our actual kitchen. He never plays with it anymore. Instead of opening and closing the doors on his play kitchen where there are loads of fun and constantly rotating toddler toys inside, he walks right past his kitchen and opens up the cupboards directly in front of me, slamming the cupboard doors into my knees or sometimes his face, if I step back out of the way.

Inside of the play kitchen, there is a clear plastic tub. It is supposed to hold the plastic food for his play kitchen, but it never does. Ray takes it out of the play kitchen sometimes (and I usually gasp with excitement at the sight of him really playing with his toys) and he instantly dumps the plastic food out and crams himself inside the bin. Sometimes he crams himself inside the play kitchen cupboard too. It’s funny to watch, but this is all inappropriate play.

He has the most delightful nursery, filled, brimming even, with age appropriate and wonderful, colorful toys. He never goes in there. Instead, he is drawn to inappropriate objects like – pencils, pens and crayons, small legos to stuff in his mouth, the vacuum cleaner, and light switches. He is constantly crying, if not from a mood swing, then from hurting himself while playing inappropriately with inappropriate things.

5. He is mean. He hits me in the face when I ask for kisses and kicks me in the thighs when I change his diaper. He dumps every sippy cup of water out. But how could he dump a sippy cup of water out? Aren’t they spill proof? Welllllll, he takes them, turns them upside down, then bangs them repeatedly until water or milk comes out. He does this not only at the highchair, but whenever he has a sippy cup. Sometimes he will have a sippy cup in his carseat, where there is no surface to bang them on. That doesn’t stop him. No, he just bangs the upside down sippy cup on his legs until his pants and/or shirt are soaked. Then he cries.

6. He cries. All. the. time.

7. He throws everything. He’s broken so many things. oh so many things.

And so because we’ve reached this threshold of the terrible twos, I am nuts. I feel like I’m living in crazy town. I put something down, turn away, turn back and it’s gone. I feel like I must have misplaced it. But really, I just have a mean little midget drunkenly sauntering around behind and around me destroying everything I do! I have lost keys, shoes, cell phone …. and today in Target, that little, mean midget lost my dark blue scarf. I loved that scarf. I got it while on a trip with Daniel to Holland, MI – a non-kids trip. And it’s gone. I saw him trying to chuck it out of the cart several times and stopped him, but he got to me and did it while I wasn’t paying attention to him. Heaven forbid I ever actually look at the things I’m trying to buy instead of Ray. Mean midget. ahhhhhhh, well. I guess the terrible twos teach me and reteach me that material things are not important.

Well, it’s 5 pm now and we’re right in the middle of Ray’s bad mood part of the day (3-7:30pm) and he’s in full swing. Sometimes I give up and put him in his crib with his favorite blanket to stay away from me for a bit while I type furiously away on my blog about my dumb scarf. It doesn’t matter, but it’s only the tip of the iceberg. The terrible twos are here. Wish us luck.

“you’re doing it wrong”

Please tell me you’ve seen “Mr. Mom”. In this movie, Michael Keaton is staying at home while his wife works and as he tries to learn the ropes of being a mom, he drops off his kids at school. He enters the wrong way and people keep yelling at him (including his kid) “you’re doing it wrong!”. That’s how I felt today. I must be doing something wrong. It shouldn’t be this hard.

It’s Veteran’s Day and so nobody had school today. I woke up with a plan. I was going to make this a very productive and wonderful day, not one of those laze-about-do-nothing-wastes-of-a-day. But within the first 45 minutes of the day I should’ve realized that I needed to simply put on a movie for the boys and crawl back into bed and hide. Just getting my boys to do their normal everyday stuff was awful! Getting dressed, making their beds …. it was painful! All I heard myself saying was, “stop, no! Are you dressed yet? What are you doing? Why would you hurt him like that? You go on time out. You clean up. Don’t touch the baby. Stop. Switch, you go on time out and you get dressed. Do I have to do it like this? Can’t you get dressed without me?” …. awful. For 45 full minutes. No let up.

Daniel sweetly texted me this morning that he missed me and I texted back that I was losing my mind and it was only 8:30 am. He said I should forget about clean rooms and just go on a bike ride. So I took his advice. The boys had already finished cleaning their room, so we hopped in the car and ran some errands, then came home and I asked if they wanted to go for a bike ride. Yes! Yipee! Noah was in and Liam sounded mildly happy about it too, so we got home and I gathered some waters, pumped up tires, found helmets for everyone and we were off! … except for Liam.

Liam started saying that he didn’t know how to ride and his steering wheel always got all wiggly. I kept reassuring him that it would be great! So we started on our way. It took 10 minutes and some serious coaxing and positivity from Noah and me to get Liam around the first corner. By the time we got down the street and to the train tracks (we live right next to the train tracks), Liam was in tears.

I used a myriad of tactics with Liam to get him on his bike and going. I started with positivity and encouragement, “Wow, look at how far you got that time? Good job!”. Didn’t seem to help. So I tried sounding confident, “you can do this, just get on and let’s go! Come on, you can do it!”. But that proved fruitless. So I said, “Well, Noah and I are going to go on this bike ride and you can either choose to come or walk your bike the whole way. You’re choice.” He chose to cry very loudly and walk/trip next to his bike, then scream, “Stop! You’re going too fast! I can’t keep up”, to which, I responded, “that’s because you’re not actually riding your bike, get on and ride!” Seriously, it was not going well.

I’m sorry to say it ended in many tears from Liam and me losing it and yelling/threatening him that if he didn’t be quiet, get on his bike, and ride I’d punish him. Yes, it deteriorated quickly from a “fun break on a holiday” to “the worst bike ride ever”. But after the negative encouragement, Liam got on and did it. Then we got back to our block and I made him ride around the block twice and he didn’t fall once. He turned, slowed down and sped up and he did great. But he was just not confident that he could do it. Oh man, learning that lesson, that way, was terrible. I must be doing this wrong, right? Happy little bike ride? … fail.

Then we got home and had some downtime of just reading. During that time, I fed Ray and put him down for a nap. I was picking up my room when they were done with reading. I told them they could watch cartoons. I was still stressed out from the morning. It’s funny to see what I did to release pressure … I cleaned my bathroom. What??! I know. I don’t know why. That’s just what I found myself doing. Then I put on Jillian and worked out like a maniac.

Then I felt like an hour of TV time was plenty and we needed to get back on track for the day – we still had plans. The bike ride was a disaster, but we could come back from this. I decided we would try khanacademy.org. It’s a learning site. So I set up Noah and Liam on different computers and felt good about this. Here we go – learning! I would only say this was successful in the fact that we did it. Was it pleasant? no. Did the boys learn something new? I don’t think so. Did I go crazy running from the front room to the family room trying to help them navigate the site? yes. Did both of them complain? yes, differently though – Noah said he was bored and Liam said it was too hard. Yet I had them working at different levels … sigh. I must’ve been doing it wrong. Learning moment? … fail.

At this point, I kind of gave up and let them play games on the computer while I showered. Now it’s 4 pm and I have no more plans. Motherhood always seems to kick my trash and I don’t know why. I must be doing it wrong.

But right now, the house is quiet, the boys are upstairs playing and Ray is crawling around and coming up to me and smiling. Maybe I should leave well enough alone and make a bunting for our thankful tree. hmmm.

Ray’s nursery

We moved in about 2 months ago and I feel like nothing is really where I want it just yet. There is so much unpacking and rearranging to do … but I feel like Ray’s nursery is one of the first finished rooms in the house. Maybe in 6 months I’ll change everything, but for right now, this is where we’re at:

My main goal for the room was to have everything at Ray’s level, but high enough to make him want to get up and work those leg muscles so he can start walking (16 months and no sign of stepping). So there’s really no furniture in there for adults. I always find myself on the floor in his room, which is great because it forces me to interact with him on the floor, read to him while propped up against a wall and just be at his level.

Sooooo, I had to have this little workshop toy in his room, but it’s ugly. So I put it in his deep closet and close the sliding doors when I don’t want to see it. But Ray loves it!