A nasty cough, a 31st birthday, and a royal wedding

I’ve cried a lot today–not exactly sure why…

Today, Will turns 31.

Today, my girls are both sick with chest colds, complete with a nasty cough and a fever.

Oh, and today is “The Royal Wedding.”

The day started off emotionally when I was quickened at 6 a.m. by my poor, pitiful Abby whining and sniffling.  It was good to go ahead and get up to get started on Daddy’s birthday breakfast (a tradition I am determined to uphold).  The menu: bacon, eggs, blueberry pancakes, fresh strawberries, and homemade yogurt.  Why did I think I should make pancakes this morning, when the kids are both sick?  (Tradition.)

Cooking breakfast, 7 a.m.

I start the bacon in the frying pan, and it’s as if the mere sizzle sends Abby into a holy fit.  She’s screaming “ma-ma. ma-ma” and listlessly throwing open cabinets throughout the kitchen, taking pauses only to push on my legs and get between me and the splattering grease.

Enter Sophia.  She’s standing on the stairs, confused aand sweaty from a fitful sleep.

“Good morning, honey.  Go potty,” I say.  Oh, good she’s gone.  Not one minute later.  “WAH!”  Sophia’s crying.  (Remember, Abby hasn’t stopped whining and crying and banging on cabinets.)

“Sophia, honey, what’s wrong?”  I run upstairs.

Sophia’s sitting on the potty.  “My back hurts.”

I’m confused.  “Are you done?  Wipe.  Let’s get down.”  I notice that her panties and pajamas are moist from an apparent nighttime accident.  (Future note: might be a good idea to give a pull-up to a sick toddler at nighttime during drug-enhanced sleep.)  My acknowledgement of her wet panties sends her into full-on shame crying.

Enter: Abby, crying for lack of attention.

Enter: birthday boy, fresh out the shower.

I literally bite his head off and end his life on his first day of his 31st year in this world…

Tears, #1 .

Meanwhile, bacon is burning…. smoking… charring….

8:00 a.m.  We have a very nice breakfast.  Girls get it together.  Mommy apologizes for losing it.  Bacon is surprisingly edible.  Daddy reattaches his head and opens some fun presents and we get on with the morning.

9 a.m.  Cry #2.

I notice on Facebook all the people commenting on “The Wedding.”  I decide to look up CNN on my phone and watch the video.  I have no idea why the sweet, Catholic wedding sends me into the sappiest, throat aching cry, but it does.

I contemplate my situation.  I realize that I have missed every single bit of the hype.  I knew it was happening today, cool that it was on my husband’s birthday… cool that there’s going to be a wedding… But, we don’t have cable, so I missed the 5 days of wedding countdown on the Today Show.  I missed the commercials, the wedding party dress speculation, the… I don’t know what all cause I missed it.  I wasn’t sad that I missed it until I watched the wedding footage and felt… I don’t know… American–completely disconnected from all things “royal” and British.  And, without cable.  There’s nothing to apologize for.  It just made me sad that I didn’t get in on the hype, I didn’t get up at 4 a.m. to watch it, and I don’t get to claim them as my country’s royal family.  The wedding was nice, and the kiss was sweet.  The 2nd kiss even sweeter.  I’m glad I got to watch it, and read a funny NPR story on it… but it made me cry.  Weird.

Welling up, yet again.  Cry #3. 11:30 a.m.

I decided to take a bath–wash off my over sensitivity and soak in a hot, relaxing tub.  I put the girls in front of Sesame Street and expect to have 20 minutes to myself.  Apparently, the sound of running water to Abby is like rustling paper in a dog’s favorite biscuit box because she was up two flights of stairs before I even got my hair wet.  She kept handing me all the elements that I needed for my bath, showing me with her body what I needed to do with them.  Then, she’d miss the side of the tub, and they’d fall on her feet and send her screaming.

“Abby.  Go downstairs with Sophia and watch Sesame Street.  You know?  Elmo?”  I did my best to coax her back downstairs, but it all failed.  She continued picking up oversized Sam’s Club bottles of shampoo and body wash and dropping them on her feet.  More screaming and wailing.  I sink down in the tub, trying to drown out the cries.

Enter: Sophia.  She runs into her “princess bathroom.”  (Yes, that’s where I’m taking a bath.  It’s our only tub.)

Sophia has the most pained look on her face.  Her knees are pressed toward each other, and she’s calling out in broken syllables.  “Ah. I.  Ah. I.  Ca-.”  I remember the 4 glasses of juice and milk she’s had this morning.  I look over at her “princess potty.”  Her potty seat is in the floor between the toilet and the wall, her stool is two feet away.  She’ll never make it.  Not with that look on her face.

She fumbles with the seat.  I coax her nicely but firmly.  She gets the stool.

I raise my voice, “Hurry.  You can do it….”  

My voice gets louder as she stands on the stool and doesn’t sit down.  “Pull down your PANTIES!!!!  SIT DOWN!!!!”

Pee runs down her leg.  She screams out as the pain of holding it in is replaced by the shame of having wet herself. I sink back down into the tub, close my eyes and hold my breath as the girls are both sent into another fit of cries.

“Sweetie.  It’s okay.  It was an accident.  You tried to make it, and it’s o-kay.  Mommy is NOT mad.”

I pull her in the tub with me.  And, I try not to cry.

It’s 2:30 now.  They’re both asleep.  Probably.  I hear some coughing.

I might cry again today….  We’ll see.

We cancelled our babysitter tonight.  Will thought it might be best not to venture out on an evening bike ride date when the kids have temperatures of over 100…

Parents first.  I wouldn’t change a thing.  It gives me joy to parent them everyday.  Even days like this.

Happy Birthday, Honey.  I love you.

Her First Shiner and a Potty Training update

Sophia got out of bed this morning, and she was so excited.  Her diaper was dry and she was about to go have her morning potty.  She yelled, “My famwees!” She grabbed all her favorite stuffed animals: Cowboy, the Mole puppet, and Pooh, and took off running for the potty.  She ran right smack into the end of the changing table.  I think 2 is the year for booboos.

Despite the year of booboos, Sophia is getting more and more brave.  I was nursing Abby this morning, and Sophia came into her bedroom.  She pushed an upside-down laundry basket up to Abby’s crib and hollered, “I go back to bed rie now!  I angree!”  Then, she proceeded to climb into Abby’s crib.   She talks ALL the time.  She’s just a chatterbox; it’s insane.  I love to listen to the sentences and words that she strings together.  She was playing a game with Abby’s crib, throwing Cowboy into it and then climbing in to rescue him.  She said, “I throw Cowboy over Abby’s bed. See look. What now? I love my Cowboy. I get him.”  I hear so many things that I say that it’s unnerving.  Yes, I say, “What now?” to her all the time when she does something, says something and then looks to me for what to do.  I didn’t realize I said it all the time, though, until she said it back to me.

We’ve also been discussing feelings a lot lately.  She’s obsessed with how we’re feeling.  She always asks, “Mommy, are you happy?”  Notice she said angry before?  That’s her new favorite feeling.  I guess we talk about how angry Abby is all the time.  (Yeah, she hollers a lot.  When she’s upset, she can scream and cry like I’ve never heard a baby cry before.  Shew, she get’s angry.)  Sophia thinks that when Abby’s angry she needs to go to bed.  We tell her, Abby’s angry because she’s so tired and doesn’t know what to do.  We seem to be doing a lot of discipline/training with her by how we look at her–happy or unhappy.  We didn’t mean to do it.  It just sort of happened.

Potty training is probably how it all started.  It threw all of our emotions (mine and Sophia’s) out of control.  For a while there, she would incessantly ask, “Are you happy?” all the time.  Right after nap, right after she did something wrong, right after I looked at her sternly, right after I looked at her questioningly.  It was driving me mad.  We’ve exited that stage, though, and she’s making some associations.  Like at night time, she has to keep her diaper on.  “Diy-pa on.  Daddy happy.”

A potty training update:  We stopped Sophia’s habit of taking her diaper off at night time by using duct tape for a week.  She loved it.  She thought it was a belt.  Then, she just got used to keeping it on and eventually made the association that Daddy’s happy when it stays on.  We’ve had a week of no accidents and dry diapers at night.  It feels so good.  I’m starting to feel like I can trust her answer of no after I ask.  She’s also beginning to act on her own urges without accidents.  It took a while.  It took longer than I thought it would, but it was easier than I thought it would be.

My advice for anyone getting ready to potty train is one word: patience. Oh, and be positive. I got some advice from this great website I found.  Nearly erything’s there.  Oh, and training panties.  Gerber training pants are great.

Here’s some other great advice I got from friends that was really helpful for us.

1)Completely get rid of diapers/pull-ups, i.e. just use underwear.  That was key with us.  That just means you’ll have some accidents and clean up.  But, you expected that, right?  By the way, if you decide to go cold turkey on the diapers, you’re going to need a LOT of underwear.

2)One way you know if your child is ready to start potty-training is if they wake up with dry diapers either in the morning or after a long nap.  That was only occasionally the case with us.  That could take the pressure off of some parents who don’t think that their child is ready emotionally or physically.

3)Lastly, when you’re first beginning potty-training put them on the potty when you expect that they need to pee and keep them there until they do.  With a book.  Read to them, and every couple of pages ask them to try.  Eventually, they’ll pee and learn how to use those muscles.  Sophia LOVED all the extra reading time and all the cheers when she was successful.

Mothers Day

Mother’s Day precipitated it all.

Mother’s Day:  I felt cherished by my lovely husband.  He came in with both girls at 7:30 in the morning, Sophia yelling, “Happy Day! Mommy, happy day!”  This was my lovely gift.

My husband is so wonderful at making me feel honored, appreciated and loved.  Thanks, Husby.

I don’ t think Sophia really understood that it was Mother’s Day, though.  My precious morning was followed by a trip to church and an afternoon lunch at Nana’s.  All was fine until I tried to get an overexcited, self-proclaimed “big girl” to take a nap in a portable crib.  30 minutes later, I got my second Mother’s Day gift: smeared poo all over the crib and chucked poo all over the room.  Thanks, Sophia.  That was the second day in a row that she took off her diaper and pooped during naptime and day number 9 in which she had taken off her diaper and had some sort of accident.

I didn’t want to potty train!

Things are crazy right now.  We moved to Arkansas about a month ago.  We’re living in Will’s parents’ house.  Abby’s colick-like symptoms are still rearing their ugly heads.  I’ve eliminated dairy and soy in my diet.

I’m crazy right now.  I’ve got new thyroid issues and am trying to eat a low-sodium diet.  I’ve also had an extra amount of swelling in my feet and legs which has caused we a lot of pain and trouble sleeping.  This in and of itself is super stressful.

I didn’t want to potty train!

Sophia is crazy right now.  She’s taken quite a while to adjust to the new living arrangements.  Since her language is taking off at the same time, it’s been a super interesting time.  She’s said things like, “I wanna go back to Mommy’s house.”  She’s had a lot of anger lately.  Anger at Mommy, anger at the grandparents, anger at Abby.  Today she said to Mammaw after Mammaw touched her shoulder to try to get her to go potty: “Ow!  Ow!  Stay back!  I’m gonna cry!”  She’s also quite frustrated with all the attention that Abby’s been getting–poor Abby, all the crying and needs that an uncomfortable baby has.  It’s just taken us all a bit of time to get adjusted.

Did I mention that I didn’t want to potty train?!  But, I’m also freaking tired of washing sheets and pillows and stuffed animals EVERY DAY… and, I’d like to never clean up $#^! from all over a guest bedroom floor again…

So, we woke up Tuesday morning, and I thought I’d just sit Sophia on the potty and see what happened.  Well, she peed.  A lot.  I didn’t expect that.  I didn’t know what to do.  My only thought was, “Follow through.” So, she got straight into her new Elmo panties, and we haven’t looked back since.  The approach has been cloth panties all day, even naptime.  Take her to the potty as soon after waking as possible, before bedtimes, and every hour or so since her last pee… and of course, when it looks like she’s about to poop–you can’t miss that.  I have tried to be as oober-positive as possible and give rewards and cheers and dancing upon success.  Well, today is her 4th day to catch her own need to poop and go poo all by herself. And, today she caught herself needing to pee and she did it all by herself.  She’s learning, and a mommy couldn’t be more proud.

Besides learning to breastfeed, this is the hardest thing I’ve ever tried to do.  It isn’t just taking her to the potty every 30 mins that’s hard.  It’s not constantly checking her panties for wetness that’s hard.  It’s dealing with the pressure of her learning how to use the potty.  It takes time.  It’s takes a gentle hand.  I can’t demand obedience.  I can’t expect compliance.  I have to balance my patience with her need to be control.  I have to be peppy and excited, even when it’s 6:30 in the morning and I may have slept a total of 6 hours.  I have to woot and holler and jump up and down even when my feet are killing me.  I have to let Abby cry sometimes.  I have to deal with the pressure of “what if she isn’t ready?” And, does her not being ready equal me failing at potty-training (parenting)?  I have to check my bent towards a performance-based parenting style.  I have to take control and be careful not to let Sophia walk all over me as she tests her new toddlerhood limits.  I have to learn to balance grace with discipline in ways that I’ve never considered.

I wasn’t ready!  I didn’t want to potty train!

But, here we are.  Lo, I did not take a picture of Sophia’s last day in diapers… But, she’s a big girl now.

Fun Little Snippets

Sophia has done some pretty adorable things lately.  Yesterday, she crawled up to me, sat down, grabbed the diaper between her legs and said, “Dup!”  Dup is sort of her all purpose word for lots of things–a word meaning to acquire the attention of an adult. Well, I said, “Did you poop?”  She grabbed her diaper, tried to look down in it, and again said, “Dup!”   Sure enough!  Poopy.  I think she’s trying to tell me something…  We looked at training pottys at Wal-Mart, yesterday.  Do we really need one that sings and celebrates and plays music?  My toilet doesn’t do that.  And, if it did, that’d be weird… She’s already fascinated with our toilet: flushing it and trying to put toilet paper in it and splashing her hands in it.  New rule in our house: Toilet seat is ALWAYS down!  What do you think?  Should we just buy a cheapy?  Those of you toilet training experts want to give advice?  I’d appreciate it.

More fun stuff: Sophia is always bringing us objects around the house.  She’ll quietly crawl up to us and hand us something.  She loves to bring me sunglasses to put on, her stuffed animal to kiss and hug, a book to read her, or crackers to give her.  Yesterday, she found her hat in a pile of toys.  She brought it to me to put on her.  Then, she went into our coat closet, found Daddy’s hat and took it to him!  He melted!  And, of course, wore it for the rest of the day!  A happy Father’s Day it was!

Some of Sophia’s words are sounding more like words instead of just “Da-da,” her all time fave excitement word.  We have a picture book that she likes to open and find the “dog-ee.”  It is sounding more like doggy all the time.  A few days ago I asked her to point to the doggy, and I absolutely couldn’t believe my eyes when she did it!   I can hardly keep up with this development!  She keeps doing this free standing thing out in the middle of the room.  She’ll stand up, look around for someone to be excited and grin so hard that she nearly falls over.  She’s starting to free stand with objects in her hand.  This morning she free stood with a cup of milk!  She drank a few drinks while standing and politely sat back down.  What a joy it is to watch her do the simplest things!

One of the more scarier things she’s been doing is trying to make necklaces out of any and all string or cord-like objects.  The worst is Daddy’s tennis shoes!  She’ll take one of the long shoe strings and wrap it around the back of her neck like a necklace.  Then, she’ll shrug her shoulders to keep it in place and crawl all over the house with Dad’s huge New Balance tennis shoe dragging beside her!  What a crazy child with her fascination with necklaces!  And, the thing is that I never wear one!  She must have acquired her love of jewelry from Will’s side of the family!

So, chasing around Sophia, trying to save her from falling in the toilet, getting strangled by a play necklace, or getting stuck between two objects… is my FULL TIME JOB!  I have so many objects to put back in their right place that it’s hard to imagine getting “finally moved in” or even organized at all.  The overwhelming pregnancy fatigue doesn’t help either…  Things are going well, though, and I’m just trying to live day by day, enjoying as much of the day as I can, and having very small goals like–as long as the kitchen is clean by the end of the day, then it’s been a successful day.