July 23, 2011

go tweetle, go!

My sister-in-law once (half) joked that the number of kids she wanted was based on how many kids she was willing to potty-train.

Potty-training can be frustrating and stressful.

It can turn even the most confident of parents into bumbling fools.

So when John kept mentioning potty-training Twain this summer, I was less than enthusiastic. Every time I brought a pack of diapers home from Target, John gave me "the look"-- Like, why are you buying those things? So I kind of snuck in the door each time I bought a new pack, hoping his ever watchful eye would not scorn yet another pack of diapers.

He even offered to buy Twain some underwear out of his own clothing budget.

And offered to do the potty-training.

This continued week after week, until I finally caved.

The day of potty-training was set for 4th of July: we were all ready to declare !FREEDOM! from diapers.

The night before, John got all set up.

We were using a potty-training method which required a doll as a visual guide. We have no dolls 'round here, so John used the boys' "ewok"(wink, wink) instead.

And then John proceeded to make a very BOLD statement.

He put this VERY presumptuous diaper on our boy the night before our big day.

I am pretty sure we were expecting Twain to be fairly easy, based on previous data:

Finn age 3: potty train attempt 1 FAIL.
Finn age 3.5: potty train attempt 2 Success. And that did not include night training.

Calvin age 2 years and 4 months: SUCCESS!

Ollie age 3. SUCCESS!

So, based on this track record, we figured Twain would be ready, since the A-models* are potty trained around age 3 and the B-models* are trained around age 2. Highly scientific reasoning over here.

*Finn and Ollie are the A-models and Calvin and Twain are B-models

Everything was all ready. Cups for drinking LOTS of fluids, lots of snacks/rewards, chonies and last but not least, the little potty.

I took the older boys to Grandma Betty's house for the day while John worked feverishly with his little toilet trainee.

I got an occasional text from John, updating the progress from time to time. Initially things went ok. He whizzed and pooped at first. And then things were not going well. Accident after accident after accident.

By the time I brought the boys home, John looked POOPED.

And Twain seemed fairly unconcerned by his lack of progress, to say the least.

Twain was totally confused. Just not getting it.

I felt sorry for him. I just wanted to scoop him up, give him a big hug and say "it's ok".

That night we celebrated a sweet, lovely and wet 4th of July with our dear neighbors.

By nightfall, there were more accidents than I could count. We were ready to admit defeat. Twain just did not seem ready. He was showing no initiative.

Images of "My Last Diaper" taunted me.

If I had a diaper in the house I would have used it for Twain to sleep in. All stores were already closed that sad wet little night of July 4th. So we put him in those plastic clown underwear and said 'nighty-night'.

That morning, I was ready to go to Target to buy some more diapers. And then something odd happened. Twain got up and wanted to use the potty. And he went pee-pee!

We all celebrated. Every time Twain tinkled, Finn distributed marshmallow treats to all members of the house(even to mommy and daddy). John and I dutifully accepted our little treats. Hey, this was hard work! This continued all morning and most of the afternoon.

The tally for that second day was 3 accidents total. Not bad.

The next day 2 accidents. And the day after that, just one accident. Our trainee was showing lost of promise.

And my saving grace was his older brothers, scurrying Twain off to the potty whenever he needed assistance. I could not have done this without Finn and Calvin.

And just when I was ready to declare Twain potty-trained, things took a drastic turn for the worse. Accidents right and left. Three poopy accidents in the chonies(IN ONE DAY) and daddy was ready to call it quits all over again.

John and I just sat there, completely bewildered and humbled by this unexpected relapse. Even the mere mention of the potty made our tweetle burst into tears.
It was sad. "Baby is tared(scared) of the potty" he would whimper. Kind of broke my heart. We did not want to shame and lecture our sweet little boy if he could not help these accidents. We just wanted our happy little boy back.

Late that night we called it quits. We still had no diapers in the house, so we put the plastic pants on for one last night.

The next morning Twain got up early and I heard Finn helping him on the little potty.


Confusion city!

I did not know what to think. But all day he was completely accident-free. I was cautiously optimistic.

Day after day, Twain proceeded to initiate the potty process. Days turned into weeks.

It's been 2 weeks and he still needs some assistance, but overall is doing very well.

We even graduated him to the big potty and this mama could not be happier. I was most thrilled to finally ditch that stinky little pot that needed to be rinsed after each use--that thing is almost as bad as changing a diaper.

While we are here, I may as well give you a little tour of the boys' new bathroom. It's small, so don't blink or you will miss it!

Wood shelf($3), white vase($1) and chalkboard($1) were all from the Goodwill. Frames were from around the house and I just printed out free clip-art of the deer and whale pictures. Mustard/gold towels were totally free, thanks to Kohls $10 gift card in the mail, and 'buy on get one free' promotion. Every time I get a Kohls gift card in the mail I buy more towels.

My sister Jessica helped pick the wall color. It's called moonshine(25% darker). Can't tell from the pictures but it's a lovely shade that is the perfect grey, without turning blue or purple!

Shower curtain was around $14 from Target and I love it. It hangs nicely without wrinkles. I had to consult Ellie on that purchase, since she always does an AMAZING job of picking things that are more gender neutral...which I needed, since this was both the boys' bathroom and guest bathroom.
And the new fake wood vinyl floor is a DREAM. Feels nice on your feet, easy to clean and shows no dirt!

July 15, 2011

{surviving} swim.

Swim lessons, 2011.

The year we put 3 boys in swim lessons with Mr. B or 'Mr. Netti' as Ollie calls him. So, in this post Mr. B = Mr. Netti. They are one and the same, k?

Swim lessons this year made my stomach hurt.

Let me explain.

Here is a photo of Ollie BEFORE the existence of swim lessons. Eager and idealistic. He's even sporting a 'leave it to beaver' hairdo.

Here is Ollie AFTER we introduce him to swim lessons. Suspicious and jaded.

Every morning he'd ask, rather anxiously, "We're not going to swim lessons today?"

It's only 8 am. Swim is not til 11. What am I supposed to say? I do not want to lie, but I do not want to say "Yes, we are going to swim lessons again", and have my child scream and whine and dread the very existence of his life for the next 3 hours straight.

So I'd say nothing and try to redirect his attention to something else. Which of course did not work. Ollie is not clueless. He just knows. So our mornings were met with much stress and dread.

We decided to have him go first each time, just to get it over with.

The first 6 days(out of 9 days total), he screamed hysterically pretty much the entire time. Hence, my stomach ache. I knew ahead of time that Ollie was gonna be a bear and I thought I was mentally prepared.

But when your kid stars wigging out in front of everyone...it's kind of stressful. They are private lessons, but the other people before and after our lessons tend to hang out a bit. The other swim contenders that year hardly cried at all and so we caused the scene each time. Thankfully they were kind and compassionate: "Oh, you should have heard my daughter her first year...she screamed the entire time..."

There was lots of arguing from Ollie.
That is pretty much the only thing Ollie had to say to 'Mr. Netti'. NO, that's IT! NO, that's IT. Basically every time Ollie did anything, he deemed himself accomplished enough to have graduated from these measly swim lessons.

So what DID Ollie do at swim lessons?

He grabbed onto Mr. Netti for dear life, clawing and scratching at him til Mr. Netti yelped in pain.

And when Mr. B did manage to claw Ollie off of him, the main thing they worked on was holding his breath and dunking him under water. Gosh, this was all they did for 6 days.

And there was the occasional kicking and twisting to the side. "I've never seen anyone twist like this before" Mr. Netti commented.

"Must be from his sensory disorder", I muttered. "His ear thingies are a bit "off" and so his balance and orientation must be somehow affected", I reasoned. As Mr. B just kind of stared at me and scratched his head.

Those were hard days for us all, Mr. B included. We were all frustrated. One day I brought a piece of cake as a bribe for Ollie. When I showed Ollie's cake bribe to Mr. B, he asked, "Is that for me or Ollie?" Ha. Still don't know if he was joking.

After Mr. B would dunk Ollie's head under water he'd ask "Did that hurt?"...to which Ollie shouted "NO!"...to which Mr. B would reply{with attitude} "Then why are ya crying?". This line of questioning went on and on, as my stomach churned.

And when the crying got to be too much, Mr. B would stick his finger in Ollie's mouth, LOL.

This above photo cracks me up because it's so representative of our session this year--Mr.B is not politically correct at all and that's why we love him:)

And at the end of Ollie's lesson, Mr. B would toss him back to me and mutter something like "you are one patient mom".

In all truth, I did NOT start out as a patient mom. But Ollie has changed me. I have a lot of sympathy for kids with issues. Truly, the Lord has given me all that I need to deal with Ollie's problems. I just have to ask Him for wisdom and help. And there are times I don't even know what to ask for and God surprises me, by lavishing unfathomable blessings in the most unexpected places. Like his speech teacher, Mrs. Margie.

I would be remiss if I did not point out some of the good times at swim lessons this year.

There were lots of hugs and reassurances from Mr. B. And inquisitions about the Nemo on his shirt.

And the time we were clapping for little Hannah. Ollie rushed over to the pool and stuck his feet in, kicking, and said "clap for Ollie too" with tears in his eyes. Poor little sensitive thing just wanted our approval. Sweet and sad at the same time.

And if you can believe it, the last 3 days Ollie hardly cried at all(Might have had something to do with a bribe of mini-marshmallows). He even managed to straighten out his body a bit.

And here{on day 9} is the faintest glimmer of hope that maybe one day Oliver WILL swim after all. Do you see him willingly dunking his head under water and kicking his legs?

Almost swimming, but not quite. And that is ok. I'm thrilled that he was not screaming til the bitter end. He was really scared and so to {temporarily}overcome his fear is something to be celebrated, in my opinion.

Calvin and Finn were relatively easy this year.

Calvin. Surprisingly a bit timid and cautious in the water for our little daredevil, but overall cooperative. Calvin swims confidently to a smiling Mr. B.

This year Calvin worked a lot on the back float...which he did not particularly like. But once again, he was cooperative. Shaking like a leaf at times. But he did well. We are pleased.

Calvin got an ear infection this year, half way through his session, that almost threatened to end his swim career early. But with the help of a remedy and those silicon ear plugs, we powered through, yeehaw!

This was Finn's year. He's confident and LOVING the water. Praise the Lord. He's come a long way since the days of shaking like a chihauhau. He wants to swim all the time. And jump off everything. And splash us all over. Just like a regular kid.

He's so thin, that you can barely see him in this photo. And mom and I die when he takes his swim shirt off. You can count his ribs.

Swimming across the pool to Mr. B.

This is the year of the 'big' swimming arms for Finn.

Mr. B says he's pleased with the boys.

And so are we!
{all things considered}

July 11, 2011

diaper and deck.

Loriloo and I got to work together a LOT in planning the big 3-0 for the adorable Katygirl.

The people throwing the party always have the most fun, in my opinion.

Lorie and I have thrown showers and parties together before and we usually have different ideas regarding the decor, LOL. Too many chefs in the kitchen...or something like that. Anyhow, we both marveled at how well we worked together this time. We joke that we must have finally worked out our kinks, hahaha. Love it. Love her. Hi Lorie, if you are reading this!

One of my main jobs for the par-tey was the flowers and such. With the help of Alyssa over at Woodland Dreams, we were in billy ball heaven. Thanks SO MUCH ALYSSA!!!! You rock! Seriously, I love Alyssa. She needs to be wedding/party planner.

As I was arranging billy balls and napkins, I noticed a certain someone climbing all over Lorie's blue and white suitcases.

Seriously, Lorie brought over everything but the kitchen sink to my house.

She even dragged over her phone booth. Wild horses could not stop this {crazy}girl.

My twinkie doodle dandy found her suitcases to be irresistible.

And of course, I found my little person to be quite irresistible sitting there as happy as a clam. I can't get anything done when he is around. I just want to grab him and munch on those chubby cheeks.

I just had to post these photos because they are probably the last photos of Twain in a diaper.

Sniff. Sniff. I'm gonna miss those cute little diapers.

Um that would be false. But I had you going there for a minute, didn't I?

After 8 years straight of diapers, our budget could use a break.

Ok, back to Katy's party.

I know these photos have already been posted, but I wanted my dad to see the deck's first dinner party!

Dad and John built this deck by the sweat of their brows over many blazing hot summer days and I just want them to know how much we are enjoying all their hard work.

The British flag bunting you see in the background was designed by Lorie. Olive Oyl and I were her little worker bees. And we provided occasional input and much good company:)

I love the way she did the top of the bunting. Lorie tied together strips of {ripped}fabric and trim and then hot glued them to the bunting flags. This little 'rip & strip' method for the top of the bunting is quite addicting, let me tell you.

No sewing. Just wild happy haphazard tearing and knotting of fabric. Followed by a hot glue parade. My kind of project. No precision required.
I must admit, sewing has been quite difficult for me these days. Four boys has finally caught up with me. I am slowing down. If a project can't be hot glued, then it most likely will not get done in a timely fashion. Or ever. Sometimes. Maybe.

One more photo of my beloved billy balls.

It was such a happy night for my little deck. Thanks again Dad and John!

July 2, 2011

finding nemo

Ollie really really wanted a Nemo party for his 4th birthday. He could talk of nothing else.

The kid thinks he's Nemo. Never mind the fact that he won't step foot in water, but that's a whole 'nother story.

Well, as some of you have already discovered, finding Nemo party supplies is pretty much as exhausting as the movie itself.

Seriously, I felt like Marlin trying to hunt down Nemo.

Party City? Nope.

Target? Nope.

Micheal's, Babies R Us, Toys R Us. Nope. Nope. Nope.


Some crazy lady on ebay tried to sell a set of 8 paper plates for like $12. Psycho.

So I guess Nemo is antiquated. I was getting discouraged. It was a few days before the party. It was late at night and I wanted to cry. Over Nemo. Pathetic, I know.

I am NOT a natural party planner. It's just not my gift. I don't know when enough is enough. I get bogged down in tiny details and end up spending way too much time on ridiculous details that don't matter. Then I get frazzled. Some of my dearest friends are the best party planners ever because they simplify and don't stress.

I did not want to go crazy. I just wanted some tacky Nemo supplies and I would call it good.

But that was not going to happen this time. I was going to have to work to pull this thing off.

Speaking of work. Ollie had such a challenging year with his special diet, sensory disorder(auditory processing disorder to be more specific) speech preschool, occupational therapy and individual speech sessions. Exhausting just thinking about it. Ollie never really had a real birthday party before. I just wanted to do something special for him for working so hard. He was going to get a Nemo party somehow.

"Hey John. How about I print off some Nemo pictures and tape them to the paper plates?"

John, shaking his head, "No Davi. That is just too ghetto and depressing for words. No."

Well, I thought it was a great idea. He's a kid! He would not notice!

But John thought it was too pathetic.

I was about to give up when Etsy came to the rescue. It was just the inspiration I needed. I was not happy about a DIY(do it yourself) party, but I was willing.

I worked tirelessly at my desk for 2 days straight while the boys ran amuck.

I wish I could say I was balanced and kept all my priorities straight, but that would be false.

Things started out just fine. I was sticking to my little list of things to do.

Make banner. Check.

Party favor bags. Check.

Cupcakes with toppers. Check.

Somewhere along the way, I lost focus(make Ollie happy with a tacky Nemo party) and I got bogged down in the details.

How does one know when they have gone too far, you ask?

When they start decorating the soda bottles. That is when they have gone to the other side.

John mocked my Nemo Juice label and said my friends would make fun of me too.

I am uncertain as to what compelled me to waste my time on soda labels.

And I'm sure there are other useless things I wasted my time on too. And paid for it with cranky clingy boys and a tired mama. And a confused husband as to why his wife makes soda labels. Moving on.

Got some balloons the morning of. We were all ready!

The kiddy area.

The adult table.

One of my dearest friends ever brought Nemo cake pops. They were too cute for words. Thanks so much Angela! It was the icing on the cake!

Little Nemo pop. I die.

I was not the only one. Little Bayley could not keep her hands off them either.

It was party time!

We played an obstacle course game 'Help Marlin Find Nemo'.

Obstacle One: Ring Toss--get passed shark Bruce.

above photo taken by dear friend Melisa. thanks Melisa, for grabbin my camera!

Obstacle Two: Crawl under jellyfish without getting stung!

above photo taken by dear friend Melisa

Obstacle Three: Jump across the green felt 'turtles' on the EAC(East Australian Current).

above photo taken by dear friend Melisa

Somehow we wrangled Ollie's little friends for a group picture.

Time for lunch. Finger foods. Hawaiian rolls, lunch meat, string cheese and fruit. It was my genius idea for having an indoor party and keeping little fingers clean. No thank you ketchup.

The adults lived it up a bit with Nappa Cabbage Chicken Salad, rolls and cream soda. Mmmm. Calories.

Some of my lovely darling dearests. Smooch. Baby Annabelle(Becca's daughter), Olive Oyl, Ashley, Lorie and Angela.

Lorie and Ashley on top.

Katy, Baby Miles, and Melisa on bottom. I wish I could tell you a special story about each and every one of these amazing girls, but for now you can find some of them here, here, here and here.

I think it's safe to say...Ollie was enthralled with his party.

And it was just about to get even better. Time for cake pops. Ollie with Pey-pey(Peyton) and Coco(Cohen). Special special boys.

Ollie with dear boys, Henry and Ben. Handsome little boys with striking blue eyes.

Check out the look on Ollie's face when he is getting handed his {second} cake pop. Tsk tsk Angela. She loves to spoil him.

Hanging out with cute new friend Grant. I love Cowboy Grant. He usually wears a cowboy hat and boots. It's the cutest thing ever.

Grant's sister Ella, with blondie KayKay(Kaylyn). Darling little girls. I love them.

Ethan has magical eyes. He's the sweetest thing ever.

Ethan's little sister Annabelle. Her little piggies are soooo cute! Why hello blue eyes!

Precious baby Miles and his mama Katygirl. Love them. Getting some lovin' from Angela. I love how my friends love each other's babies.

Twain was an angel and slept the party away, hallelujah! He still has those little chunks and rolls, much to my amusement.

Twain bought Ollie a Nemo book for his birthday. Ollie sleeps with the book, no lie.

Well Oliver, we made it to age 4. In the last few months you've had stitches, a broken arm, a concussion and almost drowned.

You've stretched this mama more than she ever thought possible. You certainly shake things up around here. I am so proud of you and love every single quirk. You may have trouble sailing through life,

but I can say one thing for certain: you sure know how to love your mama with every ounce of your being. My prayer is that you will love Jesus with everything you've got. That's what counts. Not how accomplished you are.

Happy Birthday little Nemo!