Tuesday, January 31, 2017

My least favorite parenting duty (or maybe it's doody?)

I'll admit it.
I'm awful at potty training...like really bad.
I hate it with a passion.

I guess you could say I successfully potty trained two kids since they are no longer in diapers. Granted, they're 11 and 7. But still...I've been there. Done that.

It's just that I despise the entire process, and for my older ones it seemed to take forever.
With Julie--my mom convinced me that 15 months was a great age to start potty training. Sure. She was trained before her second birthday, but that was 6 months of hard work, frustration and constant badgering a little girl who probably wasn't ready. Then, there was my Johnny. My sweet, lovey, little boy who wanted to please me, but for whatever reason just could not get the hang of potty training. I started him a little later, but not much. 18 months. He seemed to love it at first, and the treats. But that excitement lasted about a week until he resisted and had potty issues almost until he was 4. I can't even think back on that whole thing without cringing. I'll spare you the details.

Needless to say I've been dreading this whole process with Josie. She's a little firecracker as it is--a busy little girl who has a mind of her own. I wasn't sure how or when to start, but she turned 2 in December and Julie and Johnny were thick into potty training by then.

A few weeks ago, she started asking to go potty a few times a day. I felt if I waited any longer, I might miss that little window of where she might (cross my fingers) potty train easily??

I read a book my sister-in-law, Melinda had used for her 2 1/2 year old son, Matt. The whole process, which I think they followed verbatim, seemed to work wonderfully for Matt. He was pretty much potty trained in a week. That sounded so much better than my half-year-plus sagas with my older two.

The idea behind the book is to basically devote your life to potty training for at least three days. The kid runs around naked and the parents follow him/her around with a potty. No one leaves the house until the kid pretty much gets the whole potty training concept. Pull-ups are forbidden and even underwear is discouraged for a couple months.

The book was kind of extreme for me--considering it's next to impossible to stay home for three days straight and focus entirely on potty training when we have two other kids who have homework and a million after school activities.

Starting on Sunday, I decided to try (the book says don't say try, but that's exactly what I'm doing) a watered-down version of the whole concept. While we're home Josie is bare bottom and I leave the potty wherever we are playing. So far. So good. Kind of. Definitely some accidents, but I will say the start is probably better than the other two.

I got brave yesterday and decided to venture out with her sans diaper to Julie's orthodontist appointment. You can probably guess what happened. A little puddle on the orthodontist floor. "At least it's sterile," Melinda joked when I told her the story.

Scott was livid I let her go without a diaper, and I was completely mortified. From now on, we'll be diapering or pull-up-ing for outings. We'll see how this thing goes, but I'm keeping positive. If she's trained by summer, I'll count it as success.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Feeling the Love!

Just look at that happy boy posing with his cutie-pie second grade teacher.
It was the week before Christmas and Johnny's teacher, Miss Sumner had just given all her students the most thoughtful gift after their holiday party.

A framed paper with their name surrounded by a dozen or so adjectives describing them.

The week prior, Miss Sumner had asked the students to write words describing each of their fellow students. She used these words to make the adorable framed collages.

What a confidence booster!!

You can't help but smile when you see all these wonderful things your friends and teacher wrote about you. That was just what Johnny needed.

My super sensitive boy sometimes needs reminders that he's special and loved. We have discovered when he's grumpy or acting out, he tends to feel left out. A typical middle child, Johnny sometimes has to fight for attention.

But, when he's feeling loved, that boy is the sweetest ever. He'll talk your ear off, help around the house and write everyone nice notes.

He just needs to feel the love!

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Grandma's in town

Scott's mom, Janice, grew up in California and never once moved from the Golden State.
Her entire family lives there---all five siblings, her other son and his family, as well as cousins, aunts, uncles and her mother (until she died last year).

So, it came as a complete shock when Janice expressed interest in moving out here to Georgia. She was visiting this summer, when she first mentioned the possibility of moving here. Looking for a change, and not able to afford California housing, she told us she was seriously considering the move. In early fall, we found a perfect senior apartment complex for her and by that time her mind was made up.

Then, a couple weeks before Thanksgiving, she packed up her belongings, and traveled across country with a good friend.

It has been almost exactly two months since Janice has moved to Georgia and she's loving life. Her apartment complex is bustling with activity. Wine night is Monday. Movie night is Thursday. Cards are played on Friday and there are always friends to go with to lunch or shopping or to just sit and talk. Life at the senior apartments kind of reminds me of college dorm life...where there's always someone to hang out with and always something going on, that you can't  help but love it.

We are so happy she has found a home in Georgia, and we are absolutely loving having her here. We probably see her once a week for dinner, but she's around if we need her, and we are here if she needs us. She loves having the kids (usually one at a time) sleep over, and she plans to go to all the kids' sporting events, plays, concerts and anything else they have going on.

For 11 years we haven't had family so close, and it's wonderful.

Now...if we could just convince my parents to move close too!

Monday, January 23, 2017

Holiday Fun

So, despite Julie's infamous Christmas Day meltdown, the holidays were pretty awesome-filled with plenty of parties, family and friends.

We just love living in our neighborhood here in Georgia. It's small---just 80 homes--but most of our neighbors are young families who love to socialize-just like us!

Scott and I threw an adult-only Christmas party a couple weeks before Christmas, which was a blast. The idea was to play a bunch of old-school party games in our basement---which is completely not fancy. We invited about 20 people, sent the big kids to Grandma's and had a great night.

That very next day, my parents came into town, so we were able to celebrate all the holiday festivities with them. And then, Kelly, Rob and their littlest dog, Taz came to visit the day after Christmas, and they stayed until New Year's Day. And, of course Scott's mom was here, because she moved to Georgia right before Thanksgiving (but that's for another blog.) It's so nice having everyone together on Christmas. Scott and I have always been a bit selfish about Christmas. We basically refuse to travel on Christmas because we like celebrating at home with the kids. So, we say Come to Us!

I think the kids love staying at home for Christmas too. I know Kelly and I always loved it as kids. There's just something about those little traditions that develop over the years that only feel right when you're at home.

After Christmas we had fun taking Kelly, Rob and my parents on different outings and of course cooking elaborate meals. That's something Kelly and I love to do together--cook!  I will admit she's the better cook, but we loved having her here because she literally cooked every night and it was delish!

For New Year's Scott and I planned a fun little run around the neighborhood. We invited the entire neighborhood, charted the course, and planned a little "Countdown til' Noon" celebration after the race. The kids ran around, stuffed themselves with doughnuts and played with balloons and danced, while the adults sipped mimosas.

We were a bit tired after our early morning partying, but most of us still managed to stay up until midnight, and we even had a few friends over that evening to sing karaoke and play games.

Overall, the holidays were busy, festive and pretty wonderful.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Budding actress

The acting bug has bitten Julie, but I'm not so sure she was a natural born actress.

Up until last year, Julie really didn't have a desire to get on stage.
As a preschooler, she sat timidly on stage for school performances, refusing to sing a note. In kindergarten she froze during her first ballet recital--just staring around at the other dancers.

Funny how things change.
These days drama is all she seems to think about. She nailed the part of Jafar in the school play "Aladdin". She loved playing the part of the villain, and truly became Jafar--evil laugh and all.

"OK I'm ready for my next play," Julie proclaimed the day after the "Aladdin" performance.
So, she auditioned at a small local theatre company for the play "Annie", and she was given the role of "Annie."
Granted, it's a really small play, but she was ecstatic, and so excited to play the lead role. We just love that she has the confidence and desire to perform. Next up is the school's "Little Mermaid" performance, for which she auditions on Friday.

Getting up in front of people was definitely not my forte. I can recall a handful of times I stayed home from school on days when I was supposed to give a speech or book report.

It's an awesome skill to possess--to be comfortable in front of an audience. Though we've had some angst this year about giving up other activities (basketball and Girl Scouts to name a couple), I think, from drama she will learn life-long skills.

Not sure what the future holds for this little actress. But she's determined to shoot for the stars.

"I want to be on Broadway," Julie tells us these days.

I say, Go for it!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

It's Over (kind of)

"Mom, do you believe in Santa?"
I knew this was coming. I mean, Julie is 11, and had never once doubted the existence of the man in the red suit. It was just after Thanksgiving and it was the first time she had ever asked me this question.

Even though I knew the topic might come up this year, I still wasn't ready at that particular moment. I was in the middle of changing Josie's diaper, and hadn't really thought through what to say.

So, I simply replied, "Well..do you?"

The answer I got in return was not quite what I expected, "Of course I do! And this is going to be the best Christmas ever because I'm going to ask Santa for magic dust to make all my books come to life!"

I smiled, a little shocked, and just thought to myself, well I guess we have one more year.

Little did I know, a couple weeks later her world would come crashing down.
Before you label me as a psycho, dramatic mom, let me paint a picture of my 11- year-old daughter Julie. She has always had her heads in the clouds---always thinking and dreaming and believing in fantasy and the impossible. Every year for Christmas she has asked for something way beyond reach---something so out there that we always have to scramble to make it halfway come true. When she was 9, she requested a time machine to transport her back to the days of Jesus. Instead, I had a book specially written, telling a story of how Julie traveled back in time to see Baby Jesus. Of course, Santa wrote a note apologizing that he could not give her a time machine.

So, you get the idea. She has loved everything magical and imaginary, and of course we played into that. Because, well, because it was just so fun. Seeing her believe in all our little imaginary creatures made us so happy. There was Santa, the Easter Bunny, the Elf, the leprechaun, and her favorite---the Christmas Angel---which was an old Angel doll belonging to me, who we made come to life when Julie was 3. Around Christmas, the Angel left encouraging and heartfelt notes in her pocket to Julie, and eventually Johnny and Josie. (Truthfully these were my love letters to them, but that's for another blog.)

Anyway, our house is consumed by fantasy and we all love it.

Christmas morning it all came to a halt.

Julie and Johnny woke up early as usual on Christmas morning---all happy and excited and anxious to get downstairs. They checked to see if Santa ate the cookies and drank the milk. They cheerfully opened the presents in their stockings.

They rushed downstairs to see the mountain of presents under the tree.
Then, Julie went racing upstairs, into her bedroom and locked the door behind her.
Baffled, Scott and I went upstairs, and pleaded with her to open the door, as we listened to her crying loudly. Finally, she opened the door, where she lay head buried in her pillows, weeping uncontrollably. Scott and I looked at each other and we knew.

She knew.

After much coaxing, Julie wailed "OK!! I know Santa's not real!!" Two weeks before Christmas, she was sitting at a table in art class with a group of kids as they one by one explained how they found out Santa wasn't real. Julie, who still believed in Santa until that moment, said she sat there feeling silly, and then she knew.

"Why did you lie to me?" she choked out, her eyes streaming with tears.

Ugh. Punch to the stomach.

Hugging and petting her hair, we explained the story of Santa as best we could, and told her it was all about love and kindness and we did all those things because we love them so much. (I'd read so many blogs about how to tell your kids about Santa, and I could only recall about half.)

She calmed down a bit, and sniffled "I'm so sorry I don't believe any more. I loved all of it. Everything about it."

Then, I lost it.

I pictured all the Christmases past, and all I could think was how fast it all went, and how I really loved everything about it too. There's nothing like seeing Christmas through the eyes of your little kids, and when they stop believing, it truly breaks your heart too.

It's over and Christmas will forever be different. Of course, Julie has promised to help us keep the secret for Johnny and Josie, and we still have many years to come. Now it's just a little different.

But, I'll forever cherish those early years when everything was magical. For all of us.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Here's to 2017

I haven't posted in 8 months.
I'm not really sure why. Lack of motivation? Lack of inspiration? In a rut??

Well, it's a new year. Time to start anew right?

I'm not quite sure how to catch up on the last 8 months---other than with this little apology post to myself. Because, let's be real---at this point not  many other people read this. And it was always intended for me---a continuation of my diary I kept since the age of 7.

I'm not sure what I'll do with these blogs (if anything). What I do know is that when I write consistently and honestly about my life it's therapeutic of me. It's my "Me Time." I'm writing what I feel and think and there's no one to judge (OK, if you're reading this, I guess there are people to judge), but I'm writing for me and no one else.

I might not do anything else productive for the entire day, or I might have a really rotten day with whiny kids and a messy house. If I find 10 minutes to write down my thoughts---the whole day spins in a different direction.

I feel so much better about myself, and life in general.

That sounds so silly, but, even as I'm writing this, I feel a weight lifted off my shoulders.

So, while this post isn't saying much at all. To me, it's a new start. Let's call it a New Year's Resolution. I resolve to take at least 20 minutes a week to blog, journal, write whatever comes to mind....

Here's to 2017 and catching you up on my life. If you don't care to read, move on. It's just for me, after all.