Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Shooting the targets

Potty training superstar!

If you would have told my 18-year-old self that wiping my oldest son’s butt would signify a major milestone moment in my life (and in his) — a moment so monumental that I would eventually dedicate an entire blog to it — I would have first asked you what the hell a blog was and then told you to go take another hit.
May 14-15, 2011 will go down in infamy as the END OF DIAPERS (during the daytime, anyhow) for Adam. After months of resistance from our sweet guy — tears and screaming and fits and kicking and indifference and bribes that didn’t work and more tears — Aaron and I were adamant.
This is it, kid. Underwear or bust.
We put him in his Toy Story III undies that morning, then headed to Andover to visit Rick (Aaron’s dad) and his girlfriend Tami during their garage sale. (I packed some back-up underwear and pants just in case.)
**Side note: We found out on May 14 that Rick had been in a bad motorcycle crash on May 7. He fractured eight ribs, split the skin on his forehead, wound up with some nasty road rash on his arms, and was in the hospital for four days (longer than when you have a baby!!) — and no one had bothered calling us. Rick’s excuse? “Why do I always have to be the one with drama in my life? I didn’t want this to be another one of those calls.”
Still, I wish someone had told us. He’s family!
The crash went down like this: Rick and Tami were enjoying the sunny, 70-degree day (while Aaron and I were at Rem and Jim’s wedding), taking their Harleys for a spin, when a vehicle in front of them veered into Rick’s lane and nearly came to an abrupt stop right there on Highway 10. Rick—driving defensively—knew he could either read-end the car or roll his bike, so he made the split-second decision to roll his bike. He said his crash bar helped a ton, preventing the heavy motorcycle from landing on top of him, which could have crushed his leg. Apparently the guy in the car who had veered (the driver at fault) was looking at the side of the highway for a friend whose car had stalled, and didn’t see the friend’s car until the very last minute. And poor Tami witnessed the entire accident. Can you imagine?! I think I would have a heart attack.
When we saw him, Rick was walking very gingerly and was pretty hopped up on pain meds, but he seemed to be doing as good as could be expected, considering the circumstances. I’m just so relieved it wasn’t worse, especially considering the fact that he wasn’t wearing a helmet!!!

I didn't even realize I had this photo on the computer - Aaron's dad Rick with cousins Morgan and Adam back in 2007. Thank God my father-in-law's motorcycle crash wasn't worse than scrapes, bruises, and eight fractured ribs.

After visiting Rick and Tami, we drove to Maple Grove to see our niece April get ready for her senior prom. It was fun hanging out with Shawn, Trish, April and Mary Kaye (my sister-in-law’s mom) at Mary Kaye’s townhome, the designated meeting place based on Mary Kaye’s close proximity to April’s mom’s house. I felt old when I realized my own senior prom was 18 years ago. I can still remember talking about prom with Amy every day during track practice. I think the days leading up to prom — and the anticipation of the “big event” — were just as much fun as the actual dinner/dance. Prom was at the Landmark Center in St. Paul rather than our high school gym (pretty typical to have prom at a fancy venue when you live in the Twin Cities). Amy & P.A., Treina & Nate (I think that was his name, anyhow, he was a shy underclassman and prom was the first time I met him), and my boyfriend Brian and I had photos taken at my parents’ house before we met up with Sara & John and Kerri & Tony at Sara’s parents’ house in Maplewood. Our group had dinner together at Gallivan’s (now Matty B’s Supper Club on Wabasha in St. Paul) before heading over to the Landmark Center for the grand march and big dance, including plenty of "hip hop smooth out on the R&B tip with pop feel, appeal, to it!" And some Jodeci and Janet Jackson and Whitney and Mariah and SWV and P.M. Dawn and Snap and Boyz II Men and Beastie Boys and Chili Peppers and Dr. Dre and Tag Team (Whoomp! There it is!) and lots of other oldies but goodies. I wish I had our prom soundtrack.

My 1993 prom theme was "Wonderful tonight" by Eric Clapton. My date was my high school (and college) boyfriend Brian, who bought blue Doc Martens to match my dress, then returned them the next day. Ahh, the memories. (My memory of this photo? The photographer had to ask Brian to move his hand off my butt before he snapped this shot.) Brian and I are still good friends today. He and his wife Jen live out in Colorado, but we get together whenever he's home visiting. His mom does daycare for us.

Anyhow, I got off track. Back to 2011! We were in Maple Grove to take photos of April on her prom day. We had Adam sit on the potty while April and her friend Amarah, who had a baby just four weeks before prom, got ready together. While I sat by Adam for moral support, I was able to eavesdrop on A & A’s conversation. (“Do you like this eye shadow, April? Is it too blue?” “No! It looks soooo pretty!” [Pretty is NOT the word I would have used, I would have said ‘garish,’ but I’m a crusty old mom, what do I know about teenagers’ makeup trends?] “I don’t know if I love my dress anymore. Do you like it? Do you think I look alright?” [You had a baby a MONTH AGO. You look amazing. Now shut up.] “What do you think of this lipstick? Does it look OK? Is it too pink?” [How insecure are you girls? No, that’s not fair. I remember being that way, too. You look beautiful!]
After what felt like forever, the girls were ready. It was a big ordeal when Troy, April's boyfriend, came over. April wanted to be sure he didn’t see her until she was “TOTALLY ready” (I can only imagine what she’ll be like on her wedding day if she’s this way about prom!) and Troy did the obligatory “oohing and ahhing” and “You look beautiful.” And she DID look beautiful. Her dress was much more innocent Disney princess than Jersey Shore skank. Even though I give her credit for being pretty stylish/tasteful, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I approved 100 percent.

April and Troy. *sigh* Young love.

April and her best friend Amarah, who had Baby Aiden a month before prom. I can't imagine being a teen mom. April has been a wonderful support system to Amarah throughout her pregnancy, and now that she's a new mama. (April has three younger siblings and tons of babysitting experience.)

Nothin' but love for this girl.

We took photos upstairs by the bookcase, then decided the background was too busy and moved downstairs in front of the fireplace for more poses … and through it all, Adam’s bladder somehow did not burst into a billion tiny pieces.
After we said goodbye, we went back to our house for an evening with absolutely nothing on the calendar (a rare occurrence). It magically worked out that all four of us were able to take a nap at the same time. I love it when that happens! We got up, made dinner, and still—nothing going for Adam. He sat on and then stood beside the toilet without any progress. Aaron patiently next to Adam for over an hour, reading him potty books and randomly dropping Cheerios into the toilet bowl in an attempt to turn the experience into a fun game and answering questions and making small talk. Finally Aaron got the bright idea to push a little on Adam’s tummy to force the flow. It can’t be healthy to hold your pee from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. (hello, can you say UTI?) And lo and behold, Adam went potty for the first time ever — in the big potty! It was a landmark event. I cheered and Ben clapped and Aaron cheered and we all high-fived and hugged. Our little bathroom was a very celebratory place Saturday evening. Adam called Grandma Patti, Uncle Josh, Uncle Shawny and “Uncle” Jeremy. (And would have called my parents, too, but they were at Jesus Christ Superstar at the Chanhassen.) “Do you wanna hear my big, BIG news?!” he’d ask in his high-pitched animated voice. “This is REALLY HUGE NEWS! I’m wearing big boy underwear and I just peed in the potty!! LIKE A BIG BOY!”
It is moments like this when the parenting challenges, the frustrations, the moments when you wonder if your child has a personal vendetta against you fade into the background and you are overcome with a flood of emotions — mainly love and pride.
“I don’t want to be done going potty yet! I want to shoot the targets! I want to stand here!” Adam shouted in excitement. “See those bubbles? I MADE THOSE!”
It was as if we had created a potty monster. Not so long ago, he would act like he was being murdered if you even suggested sitting on the toilet, and now you couldn’t get him away from the throne! Who was this kid?!
This is the encouragement he needs, I thought. A few successful attempts to see how easy it is, and pretty soon his diaper-wearing days will be a hazy memory … at least, until he’s a 95-year-old man having trouble with incontinence.
The next morning, I woke at 7 a.m. to get ready for my dear friend Julie’s baby shower brunch (I was in charge of pastries and I still needed to stop at Byerly’s to buy them, plus the shower was down in Lakeville and I had no clue where I was going, which turned into a bigger headache than I ever could have imagined). Adam popped out of bed when he heard me getting ready in the bathroom. For the Love of God, why can’t little kids just sleep in on the weekend?
When I got him dressed, I put him in some cute little Cars underwear and felt the immature urge to stick my tongue out at the diaper basket. (Ha! Adam doesn’t need you now, you over-priced Huggies diapers!)
“If you have to pee, you tell Dad.”
“I know,” he answered and smiled angelically.
I didn’t think much about it.
I left the house at 9 a.m., had a lovely time at the shower—catching up with Julie and some fun friends I don’t get to see nearly often enough—and returned to the house around 1 p.m.
When I walked in the door, Adam was in a timeout. He had peed on the floor not once, not twice, but THREE times (the third time while he was in a timeout for peeing on the floor the second time).
My mood spiraled from happy to “oh, crap!” in about 2.2 seconds. Aaron was understandably exasperated. Adam was sulking. Ben was his usual happy-go-lucky self.

Sweet, sweet Ben.

After I cleaned up the puddle, it was pretty obvious that Adam had to go #2. I tried to put him on the toilet and he lost it—I’m talking a screaming, crying, kicking hissy-fit meltdown. I actually left him crying upstairs and went outside for a minute to regain my composure before asking Aaron, who was about to mow the lawn, to please come back inside and help me. (I fully admit it. I don’t know how to deal with Adam when he screams like a wild animal, and Aaron seems to know what to do or say to gain control of the situation.)
It was as if last night and Adam’s potty successes had never happened.
After Adam calmed down (he refused to sit on the toilet and we decided not to force the issue), he reluctantly took a nap, and when he woke up I tried again to get him to sit on the potty. He swore up, down, and sideways that he didn’t have to go, so I left him alone. The whole family went to the grocery store (I once again brought a change of underwear and pants “just in case”) and Adam stayed dry. When we arrived back home, Aaron fed Ben his dinner while I brought Adam upstairs to try again. (Every time we do the whole “you take one kid, I’ll take the other” routine, I feel so fortunate not to be a single parent. How do those amazing people not drop from sheer exhaustion?)
I was confused as to why Adam suddenly had an aversion to going to the bathroom. Now that he figured out how to pee standing up, he didn’t seem nearly as “scared of the flush,” so whatever was bugging him was a new fear. I decided to play therapist.
“Ok Adam, what’s going on?” I asked him.
“I don’t want to go,” he whined.
“What are you scared of?”
“I don’t want to go! I don’t, I don’t, I don’t,” he pouted. His belly was as bloated as one of those National Geographic photos.
“Should I put some Cheerios in there?” I asked, smoothing a piece of hair behind his ear.
He didn’t respond. I dropped three Cheerios in the bowl and watched them float. This could be a looong wait.
“You’ll feel better if you let it out,” I told him.
“I don’t want to let it out,” he answered stubbornly. “I want it to stay inside me.”
Ok, maybe now we were getting somewhere. I think I read about kids who were scared of losing part of themselves in the whole going-to-the-bathroom process.
“Your pee doesn’t want to stay inside you,” I told him. “It’s dark inside your body. Your pee wants to get out and go swimming! Yeah, it wants to go swimming in the toilet! It’s bright and sunny out here, it wants to be OUT!”
“It does?” he asked me with wide eyes.
“Wouldn’t you?”
And within minutes of my pep talk, Adam was peeing! “Look, Mom, I’m going! I’m hitting the targets! Look, look, look!”

He's a big kid now!

Hooray for small victories! After we celebrated (more cheering and clapping and high-fiving) and he washed his hands with his very own foaming Dora hand soap, we had dinner, the whole family played outside, he took a bath, and then he went again before bed!
On Monday we sent him to daycare in underwear. I was nervous all day about what might happen, and was surprised when I rolled into the cul-de-sac and saw him playing with his “buddies” in the same pants I had dressed him in that morning. That had to be a good sign.
“You have a superstar here!” our daycare provider Mary exclaimed when I walked over to the driveway. “NO accidents, and he went FOUR TIMES today!”
Say what?
“Mom, I didn’t have ANY accidents,” Adam repeated, his voice filled with pride. “I’m a big boy!”
“Yes you are! I’m so proud of you!” I gave him a big hug. (All the while thinking, “No accidents?!? Is this for real or am I being punked?”)
It was for real. He was beaming. Mary was amazed at how quicky he was catching on. (In defense of those 2 and 3-year-olds who take quite a bit longer to figure out the whole potty training thing, Adam was just a few months shy of 4 (!!) when it finally clicked for him. That's a long time to observe others.)
Aaron echoed my happy/proud sentiments when Adam gave him a call from the car. I think we were both under the impression that there would have been at least one accident.
It’s been 10 days since we started potty training and Mary says we can stop calling it “training” now because he’s trained (except for overnight … we’ll tackle that eventually). He’s very good about letting us know when he has to go— either by telling us outright or sending us subliminal messages like a puppy would, by cocking his head to the side, looking at us with those big eyes, and just standing there obediently until we figure out he has to go (the first time he gave me that look I thought he did something wrong). He’s currently in an independent/stubborn stage where he wants to do everything himself, which sometimes works out and sometimes doesn’t. He can wash his own hands, but he’s not always the best at, um, getting his pants back on. Sometimes things bunch up where they shouldn't. (It’s all a learning process, right?!)
I wish I knew why Adam had been so resistant for so long. I wish I had some good advice for other moms who will have to go down the potty training road within the next few years, but I don’t. Every kid, every parent, every situation is so drastically different ... what works for one won't work for all. I know. We tried just about everything with Adam.
Summarizing the wise words of my sweet friend Amanda, many times parents will feel like they're doing something wrong (especially when going down the dangerous Road of Comparisons), but at the end of the day, YOU make the decisions, because you know what’s right for your little family.
I wish everyone had this mentality. Our world would be a much more supportive place.

Monday, May 16, 2011

From March to May

My good friend Morgan, who lives out in Oregon, pointed out that I haven't blogged in awhile. I've been slacking! Here are some photos since the last time I blogged — a sneak peek into what's been going on in my life since the snow finally (reluctantly!) decided to melt. I think spring has arrived. It's been a long, cold winter.

Adam with his Uncle Shawny. Never a dull moment!

Sometimes I like to put girly things in Ben's hair to see what he'd look like as Summer (that was our girl name both times I was pregnant). I promise I don't do this on a regular basis. He's such an easy target, though! He never tries to remove the headbands, he just lets me mess with him. Such a good-natured baby.

I helped host a bachelorette party for my good friend Amy on April 9. The bridesmaids and I booked a 1,000-square-foot suite at a hotel downtown Minneapolis for food, drinks, gifts and socializing before weaving down the street to The W (martinis!) and Lyon's Pub (dancing!) that evening. It was a blast. *Note to self: A group of mid-to-late 30-something women, many of them moms + Jello shots, "jungle juice," wine & beer = Crazy town. Let's just say that MANY of us needed Gatorade and Tylenol the next morning.

Almost bar close and still goin' strong ...

My cousin Sara flew in from San Francisco with her fiance, Jeremy, for three Minnesota baby showers the weekend of April 8-10. I helped host a family shower with my mom (who—let's be honest—did most of the work) and my Aunt Karen. Sara is one of those, "What? You're 34 weeks pregnant?! You're hardly showing!!" beautiful, glowing, happy pregnant girls. She is due at the end of May with Baby Lillian (Lily) and at her shower April 10 she had only gained 10 pounds. I was running on empty at the shower, going on 3 hours of sleep after Rem's wild bachelorette party. The guys all went bowling during the baby shower, so I was on Adam & Ben duty as well. Thankfully Adam is pretty self-sufficient, and there were plenty of relatives willing to help out with Ben. Sara was so appreciative of everything - the food, the gifts, the games. I only wish she didn't live so far away!!

Our first of three Easter egg hunts. This one was taken at our daycare party the Thursday prior to Easter Sunday.

Adam is busy searching for his coin-filled eggs at my parents' house in Forest Lake on Easter; later that day he played with his cousins and received more Easter treats at Grandma Patti's.

Swimming lessons! Adam became more brave as the sessions went on. Ben took to the water immediately. He even let us dunk him without crying. (The instructors coached us on that, or I would've been terrified to stick his head underwater!)

I was honored to be the matron of honor in my good friend Amy's wedding May 7. Beautiful, happy bride and groom, beautiful weather, beautiful church, beautiful reception. Everything was perfect! I even gave a speech and didn't faint!

I am so in love with this boy! Not a day goes by that I don't count my blessings.

Nothing better than celebrating with some of your very best friends (it didn't hurt that there was free beer & wine, a photobooth, and a dance floor, either!) Tonya & AJ were with us in spirit. Stupid expensive flights.

The groom singing "International Harvester." It's a country song that speaks to his farming roots. I will never hear that song again without thinking of Jim. He was on top of the world that night, as every groom should be!

Such a fun reception! Rem looked like a fairytale princess, right up until the very end of the evening. Her happiness was infectious. Jim and Amy truly are best friends.

Mother's Day brunch. How did I get so lucky to be the mama of these little boys?!

This was at my friend Julie's baby shower. I love watching my friends become parents. It's such an exciting time!

Adam, our little ham.

Ben, our jumper. He was jumping so intensely he wore himself out and fell asleep right in his exersaucer.

Stay tuned! I will post a real story soon!