Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Just So Cute!

After not going to sleep on the mattress on the floor last night until after 10:30p, I was sure Elliot would be a mess today.  About midnight, he awoke crying because he had wriggled off the top end onto the floor and Pat put him back in the crib for the night.  However, he slept in until 10am (rare that he catches up for being up late!), and Pat managed to convince him to try the nap on the mattress on the floor again with, "Big boys don't get out of bed when it's naptime."  It must have worked...

Over 3 hours later, I peaked in on Elliot. He was laying down, knees propped up, with his little blanket completely over his head, face, everything. I whispered, "Are you still sleeping?" He responded with a miniature, crisp, "Yes." I crawled down onto the mattress, peered at him through the blanket holes, and said softly, "Do you want me to leave you in here for a little bit longer?" Another miniature, "Yes." I replied, "Ok, I'll crack your door, just come out when you're ready," with a big head nod from him to acknowledge this was just fine. So cute.

I really wanted to snap a photo, but I didn't want to disturb the rest of his slumber.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

He Ate Peas. And Climbed Out of the Crib.

Finally got the little t-ball set out in the yard.  He seemed to dig it.  He tries on the deck too, and I have to remind him it does not belong in the house...

Potty training was a bust.  Bleh.  Five days in, and we had only one really good day, and that was more by chance (he ended up holding it all day until the diaper at nap-time, and surprised everyone, including himself, when he peed just before bed one night...)  We called it quits when he stopped sitting on the toilet, had 3 accidents in two hours, and never once, in the five days, made a step toward the toilet when he started to go in his pants.  We'll try again later.

The big accomplishment is that he ate a serving, although small, of peas!  Last night he ate 3, said he liked them, and I offered a trip to go see the fire engines  if he ate the little bowlful.  No go.  Then, today, Pat put more on his plate at lunch with the same promise.  At 3:30pm, as we lay down finally for a nap, he sits up and says, "Eat peas."  "Now?!"  "Yes, now," he responds, and starts to get up.  Uh, nope, "I'm bringing the peas to you.  If you eat them, great.  If not, it's to bed."  "Watch Thomas?" (his dvd)... and yes, I promise 10 minutes of Thomas if he eats them.  Darn kid, he eats them right away and we sit up to watch the stupid video.

Yesterday was a no-nap day, and with me having a migraine and needing time to work, I was a bit disgruntled but enjoyed my afternoon with him.  (I gave him 90 min, and when he was still yapping away, I went in, met with "Park!?"  Sigh...)  Today, I put him down finally, fearing that he had gained a second wind, and after an hour of yapping again, I hear a loud scream.  I knew what had happened...

Last night, when I went to read to him before bed, I stepped out to get his animal or something.  When I reappeared, he was inside the crib-- he had climbed in!  We talked about how dangerous this was, etc, and Pat and I started talking about what's next and how eeep, any minute he could try to climb out as well.  That was today, boom.  He tries to crawl out and lands on his face on the floor.  I flew in to find him sitting up, both hands cupped to his mouth, him bawling.  Thank goodness there wasn't even a bloody lip!  Nothing a little snuggling didn't remedy immediately.  Amazing.

My heart skipped plenty of beats.  Right away, I went back to get the mattress from our trundle bed for his floor.  This production of dragging it down the hall, the hooplah, etc, all of course led to no nap after all.  The set up now is not sustainable-- in his room is now his large crib, the double bed for guests, and now a twin mattress on the floor.  We decided that we could just make it to Ikea tonight to buy a bed rail (we're not too hip on the toddler beds) and miss traffic if we left around 7p, and put him in his pjs there, letting him fall asleep for the 9pm ride home... not a bad plan, eh?

Well... he fell asleep on the way there instead, woke back up, LOVED exploring Ikea ("More things?!"), and was super wired about the popsicle trays we bought, refusing to let go of it and cackling all the way home.  Back home by 9:30p... and by 10:30p, he was asking for dinner #2 in bed, not falling asleep on that twin mattress... the whole night backfired.  Not to mention that we came home with no bedrails... Plan B?  

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Ah, Yes, Potty-training...

Because potty-training is such a dangerous sport...

We are attempting this method of potty-training that my sister used and was successful with.  Basic idea-- you use a peeing doll to model what's expected, have the child help "teach" the doll, give the doll treats, and then this transfers to expectations for the child.  The main idea is encouraging and giving constant rewards for dry pants, and revisiting expectations and routines with each accident.  What goes along with this is the idea that the child is self-sufficient-- there is no relying on telling mom and dad, but the child just goes to the toilet, takes his/her own pants down, etc., with no help from the adult eventually.  The method was born from psychologists teaching mentally retarded adults to toilet themselves, then they modified it for toddlers.  Supposedly it can happen in just half a day, but it can take a few days as well.  The book is very convincing.

Well, I attempted this a few weeks ago.  Day one went ok, and we got some promising signs by the 6-hour mark or so.  Nap-time and a park visit interrupted it a bit, but we were like, "Wow, this is gonna work!"  Then, the next morning, I got the phone call that Dad was having emergency brain surgery.  We ditched all efforts to pack up and leave, of course, and made no more mention of it.

At the hospital, Elliot asked to use the toilet so I entertained him, took off his diaper, and put him on it.  Yep, he waited just a bit and peed in the toilet.  Pretty good, he retained something!

Then, we're back in Chicago and on Tuesday morning, he woke up asking to use the toilet.  We did, then he wanted to wear underwear.  Ok, how could I then say, "Nope, I'm not ready, had other plans today, you're going back in your diaper."  All to-do lists were put on hold, and we dove in.  I hesitated to revisit the intense training from day one, thinking he wouldn't tolerate it well and would melt down, so we reviewed the basics and gave it a shot.  Probably a mistake.  Two accidents, and he held it well, but never went on the toilet... just kept going in his pants and getting upset.

We ended the day with him sitting for long periods of time on the toilet, mainly because he knew he was avoiding the inevitable bath/bedtime...

Today is more of the same.  We are failing to get him to connect having to pee with running to the toilet.  He is not tolerating the "practice"rounds that the method insists are necessary with each accident, and I know that would help.  Meltdowns lead to him hitting, etc, lead to punishment/timeout and we lose the positive focus that we should have.  He wants the treat so bad that he's getting upset with himself for not being able to pee when he does sit down.  Pat's ready to bail (but he's only partially helping!), insisting Elliot's not ready.  ??  Me-- I think no matter when he's "ready" or declared such, whether it's 2, 3, or 5, he still has to learn that sensation and connect it preventatively to peeing on the potty.  Maybe it just comes when they're older, but I'm not convinced.  Am I wrong?

I guess I am also realizing that just like EVERYTHING else with kids-- there are stories of success and stories of nightmares with every single stage.  My sister reported to me that one of her girls had accidents for a week with this method while the other accomplished it in 4 hours.  On Facebook already we've been told-- it's easier when they are older and ready, don't even try or force it because they'll just start going when they're ready, stick with it as it's a rough 3 days but it'll work... This all leaves me wondering, so how do we know when to bail or to stick with it?  Where's the breaking point and will I recognize it?  And, of course, my other realization that is a bit daunting-- only Pat and I can answer these questions for our child.  Eep.

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Harens Visit!

Pat's sister came to Chicago for a long weekend with her family about 2 weeks ago or so.  It was a great time-- we hit the museum, the beach, and settled for the playground the last day, as we realized anything beyond that would just take everything we had and leave us all too exhausted for the efforts.  It was Kristie and Jason, and they have Alex (4 1/2), Ben and Jake (2 1/2), and little #4 on the way!!    

Trucking through the city with the crew... not bad, eh!?

Adding Elliot to their mix for a photo.

Taking the munchkins out deep-- Pat has two clinging to him.

Just love this one.  Kinda captures it all.

I kept the kids for just a short while one evening before bedtime... I attempted to make cupcakes with them.  Elliot ended up the dictator, who would not give up his stool and would hand out the cupcake cups one at a time to each of the others.  He was a bit controlling with the crowd of threatening peers visiting but they took it in stride!

Back Home...

I was trying to think back to what has happened lately to get this update on here... It's been three weeks?  But, yes, we've had quite a summer.  After coming back from our previous trip to Ohio to see family and for my sister-in-law's services, Pat's sister, Kristie, came for a visit to Chicago with her family.  I'll get some good photos up in another post soon.  It was a lot of fun, as you will see.  Four babies four years old and younger running around!

They left on a Monday, then on that Thursday, August 11th, I got a phone call that my dad had had a massive stroke.  He underwent emergency brain surgery.  We headed straight down with Elliot saying, "Grandpa sick?  Grandma sad.  Feel better.  Hugs and kisses," the whole drive.  We've started a blog for his progress as well-- if anyone who sees this is interested.  Dad is lucky mom knew the signs and got him help.  He is making good progress, considering, but there will be months/years? of therapy and rehab.

We were lucky, as well, that both Pat and I were on break and could stay when the other siblings had to get back to first-days-of-school, jobs, etc.  I stayed for 9 days, with Pat taking a few days inbetween to go up to Twinsburg to see Grandpa Papczun, then coming back to the hospital for a day or so until we headed back to Chicago for one night.

We had planned a trip to Michigan with Renee and decided that we would still try to go, as there was some flexibility with dates and we still needed a little together time before the rat-race of work and school started today.  We spent Sat afternoon, Sun, and part of today in MI, enjoying the beach, relaxing, and just doing nothing on a schedule.  On our drive home, Pat looked up a state park that had sand dunes and we stopped for just another hour or so of wading/swimming in the lake before hitting the road home for good for Pat to make it to class tonight.

We got some good beach shots, but overall, we did poorly with photos on this trip.  The town of Saugatuck is so cute-- lots of art galleries, restaurants, boats, very quaint.  We spent more time at the little playground than anywhere, but that was what it was all about-- spending time as a family and regrouping.  We took this little ferry across the water and the lady next to us was nice enough to offer her iPhone+an email to myself with the photo when I complained of not having my camera again!  We commented how nice it might be to do this every August-- it's only 2.5 hours and is really lovely.

He couldn't wait to get his shoes off here...

Pat had some trying mornings with Elliot on the trip to NE Ohio, and we had more mornings like that in the last few days.  Tantrums, fits, plenty of spanking... we're all navigating it together.  We keep saying we should have been tighter earlier on.  I do think, though, that it's a mixture of a lot of things-- Elliot being jostled for 12 days, spending time in places like hospital waiting rooms until after bedtime, the terrible twos, let's blame some on teeth, and go from there.  He'll melt down after being a huge brat, pushing it and pushing it, and then just sob on our shoulders, mouth open, limp, so pitifully in need for some comfort.  He did this about 6 months ago as well, with some almost-diarrhea-stuff, and that's happening now too (it's been a long time since his poop leaked all over, and we had that happen on one of our road trip stops...).  Growth spurt?  My mom commented, "Oh, that is so Brad."

The other thing he's doing to push boundaries in a weird way is to mislabel something, and then stick with it.  For example, he knows his colors and has a book with a bundle of colorful balloons.  It asks, "What color are the other balloons?"  He has named them a hundred times before, but now, he'll say a red balloon is blue, I'll say, "No, what color is the balloon?"  ... "Are  you sure?"... and he'll insist it's the wrong color with a sly grin on his face, until I correct him or he decides to do it right.  He did this with the letter "E" the other day.  Mistook it (for real, I think) for "F," then when I corrected him, kept insisting it was F, F, F, with that grin, with me going, "E, E, E..."  I don't think he ever gave in on that session.

Needless to say, with all of this happening, my attempt at potty training (that was going pretty well) was completely ditched.  We'll try again this week.

Elliot is obsessed with Renee's camera-- she's very patient... 

Monday, August 1, 2011

Back to the Farm.

We had planned to spend this weekend at the farm, knowing that Karen would be heading back overseas soon and Kathy, Matt, and girls (sister from Atlanta), Brad and Emily (from Portland), et al, would be in to see her.  It turned out that we all came together for my sister-in-law's funeral this weekend, which was somewhat expected from illness, but still a lot to deal with.  I have to say, however, that in spite of the sad events we attended, we made the best of the weekend and had a great time with all the cousins together for the first time in 3 years!  It was great to have all the kids together and to have my nephews distracted with some fun activities.

Abigail is almost 8 and has been taking violin lessons since she was four.  We had an impromptu concert on the deck that was fabulous.  Her younger sisters, Lindsey and Rachel, are turning 5 soon, and have started the viola and cello as well.  They performed along with Anna.
 Another shot of the audience.  

 Lindsey and Rachel getting ready to show off what they have learned in 1 or 2 lessons!  Man, those miniature instruments are so cute!

 Abby had learned some Irish jigs, and we couldn't keep ourselves from stomping and clapping along... finally, a group of them just had to get up and dance to several of the songs!

  Aaaannnnddd, this is what Elliot did during the concert... insist that dad take him on a ride in this OLD bike that the boys found up in the barn that belonged to my grandparents!

Thomas and Anna were performing at church the next morning.  Thomas played the piano and Anna sang.  Here, Anna is giving us an a cappella version of "My Favorite Things."  We certainly have some talent in this family, eh?

 I just liked this shot.  The evenings, although still warm, were gorgeous.
 Grandma is definitely a grandma-- she got her hands on a snowcone maker for the evening snack.  Of course, the kids (BIG and small!) just loved it.

 All the cousins, minus Logan, who was at the county fair taking care of his cow.

 The Atlanta bunch had brought along their Polly Pocket dolls and accessories.  This is what I found-- Uncle Brad, Aunt Emily, Uncle Pat, and Grandma all playing with the Polly Pockets after the kids had gone to bed.  It was a riot!

 Showing off their dolls!

 And, of course, there's no "long-weekend-trip-to-the-farm" complete without taking up Amy Billich on her offer to use her pool.  We spent an awesome evening out there, tiring out the kids (again, BIG and small!).  This is Brad and Karen, nice brother-sister shot!  The water was perfect.
 Elliot swam (well, played, but he's getting really good at kicking around in his floaty star!) the entire time.  He would take little breaks and then be right back in.  We had to force all kids to stop and eat.  Elliot had been a major grump all day after having his naps shortened (the day before I came upstairs to a few cousins saying, "He was awake when I went into the room already!") and being a few hours short on sleep each night.  He spent all of church basically crying in the nursery, throwing toys all afternoon, but both of my sisters said at the pool party, "I haven't seen him this happy all day!"  It seems he's really in his element in the water.  

 And, today, upon driving into Chicago around 6pm, the first thing Elliot says after waking up is, "Pool?"  We did end up walking to the lake to get in for a quick dip.  

 Because of those grumps, we chose to skip the fair trip on Sunday with everyone, but we all trucked back out there on Monday morning before leaving to see Logan show his cow for his 1st year of 4-H.  It was hot, dusty, and we had all stayed up yapping until 4am the night before, but the animals were a hit.
 The crew waiting for the show to begin.
 We had rushed out the door, so afraid we were going to miss Logan's show, only to get there and have to wait about 1 1/2 hours afterall.  Pat and I took some of the kids around to see the pigs, sheep, and goats while we waited.  Everyone was a trooper.
 In the goat barn, there was an empty pen.  We threatened to leave all the kids in it and take off for a bit!  The people there were really nice and almost willing...
 Little cousin RJ climbed inside this loader but Elliot refused to pose with him for a photo.  There were so many tractors and farm machinery; Elliot could have stayed there climbing on it all day long.  Every time we passed any of it, it was, "Sit!  Sit!"  And every time we weren't around it, it was, "Outside!  Outside!"  I got worried when he was in a loader and something started beeping repeatedly, but Pat assured me the key was out...?
There was a little tent with a petting zoo inside.  These are baby potbelly pigs, just Elliot's size!