Thursday, August 19, 2010

On this day 3 years ago...

I've begun counting down the days until Gracie and Lukie turn 3.  None of the other ages have been as hard for me as 3 is.  For some reason, Gracie and Lukie turning 3 is a major milestone for them and the sign of the end of an era for me.  They are truly no longer babies.  I've said that before, but now...Now it is real.

On this day, 3 years ago, a major milestone happened in our pregnancy.  On this day, we began the countdown to Gracie and Lukie's birth.  We were no longer trying to keep them in my belly to help them grow, instead, we were just counting days until they would be born.

Here's a link to the post I wrote that day.  August 19, 2007.

The next few weeks are going to be very hard for me!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Things heard in the bathtub

"The dog was afraid of the water!  The DOG was a-FRAID of the WATER! The DAAAWWWG was afraid of the WAAATER! And then he ran AWAY!"

"Lukie, no splashing Mommy. You'll get her all wet!"
"Gwacie, I can get Mommy wet.  Daddy said I could."

"Twinkle, Twinkle Chicken Nugget!  How I wonder how you NUGGET!"

"Mommy, I want to watch the movie with the mean lizards and the cow with the horns and the cow is dead! And the mean lizards try to eat the babies."

"Mommy, Gwacie threw water on me."
"Then don't throw water on Gracie, Lucas."
"But I have to throw water on Gracie."
"Because I have to!"

"The doggie on the bus goes round and round, round and round.  The doggie on the bus goes round and round, all through the town."

Dear Gracie and Lukie,

I haven't written you a letter in a very long time, but today, I had an overwhelming sense that I wanted to write one to share with you how amazing it feels to be your Mommy.

The past few months have been super challenging. You are definitely about to turn 3, your impulsivity, your independence, your determination, your silliness, and your struggles with potty training are all minute by minute reminders! As frustrating as some of it can be, I wouldn't trade any of it for the world.

You see, if I did not get to chase you around to change your clothes, get your shoes on, help you put your books away, struggle to find foods you would actually eat, and deal with tantrums, I would not also get the AMAZING hugs and kisses that are so much a part of our days. I would not get the smiles, often accompanied by giggles, or the funny dances, the silly songs you sing, or the requests for pushing you on swings. I wouldn't get the spontaneous "I love you, Mommy!" declarations or the cuddles that make my heart happy.

I would not get any of those things, because I would not have YOU! You, Gracie and Lukie, are the two best things I have done in my life. I used to think I would be crazy to bring children into the wacky world we live in. Now, I know that children are by far the best blessings I can give to the world. You make the world a better place. You make my life better.

Daddy looked at me last night and said, "I can't believe they're ours" for about the hundred billionth time. At that moment, you were splashing water outside of the tub and had already soaked me. I looked at him (I'm sure there was huge amounts of frustration in my eyes), took a deep breath, and said, "Me neither. We are so lucky."

And we are. So very lucky!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Heaven on Earth if you are almost 3 AND if you are the Mommy of said 3 year olds

I have a few weeks off before I have to go back to work and it has been important to me to break up our routine and go out and about.  We went to Sea World on Monday to use our Buy A Day Get a Year Free passes.  We did all the things we did not get to do the last time we went and we had a lot of fun.  Gracie and Luke love the dolphins, seal lions, penguins, and the Sesame Street Place Play area.  They love Sea World, but let's face it.  Other than the Sesame Streat Place, it's mostly walking, sitting, and looking.

We had plans on Thursday to ride the train with Nana, but she decided it would be too much for her after her long vacation to take 6 grandchildren on a train.  No worries!  I had another suggestion:  Adventure City!  I did not know that Adventure City existed until last year, but when I researched it, I was completely excited.  It is a small theme park geared toward little kids under 48 inches.  It has 10 rides, a petting zoo, a Thomas the Tank Engine area, and a rock climbing wall.  Best of all, it is only $13.95 per person and free parking.  When I suggested it to Nana, she agreed it would be a great place to go.

We met Nana at Adventure City in the morning and played all day.  It was busy in the morning because of all the day camp kids, but when they left, it was like having Disneyland all to ourselves!  I think Brandon, Nate, Gracie and Luke rode the Rescue Cars about 6 or 7 times.  Every time I put their seat belts on I would remind them not to drive crazy.  They loved that and would pretend to spin the steering wheel really fast.  They rode in a different rescue vehicle each time.  Brandon loved the fire engine the most.

We flew on the air planes, rode the train around the park, rode the hand crank trains, and ran around in the "rain room."  We rode in air balloons (that scared Gracie to death).  Sadly, we discovered that Gracie and Lukie could not ride the roller coaster until they are 3 years old. 

We took a few breaks, taking advantage of super reasonable food prices.  Everyone's favorite food was popcorn, but we also had Dino Chicken Nuggets, salads, and ICEEs.
Nathan ran from ride to ride chatting up a storm with me.

Lukie hid his ICEE from everyone so that they would not try to drink it.

Can you see the Blue Raspberry?

Bianca asked if we could buy more popcorn.

Gracie looked ready to take a nap after lunch.
We had a tremendous day and can't wait to go back again!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Tiny Town, the second visit!

We've decided that Tiny Town is amazing! Gracie and Luke have so much fun there that we have to remind ourselves it costs $14 for our family to visit each time. They simply love the bouncies, the toys they don't have at home, and all of the new friends they meet.

They are on the go the entire time they are at Tiny Town. They especially love to climb on things.

Can you find the Twinsie in this picture?

See? It's Lukie! This is the Rescue Vehicle Jumpy Town. I could go on for hours about this one.

They like to race and try to take the small push cars on the slides. But, mostly, they just like to slide.

Of course, it is fun to try to drive the inflatables, but you don't really get anywhere.

Then, again, does it really matter when you are having this much fun?

Can we come back soon, Mommy?

Of course we can, my loves! But I need to save up another $14 first!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

And then came yesterday...

And I jinxed us again.

Not only did Gracie have an accident at the park...on the playground equipment...but she had a meltdown of epic proportions last night.

I'm at a loss about this parenting thing.  Just when I think we are making progress, everything falls apart and we take 3 steps backward.  It's enough to drive me to drink...if I drank...but I usually don't.

I just really wish there were an instruction manual that worked.  Everyone has ideas and they are all great, but they only work about 3% of the time.

Graciela and Lucas,
If you are adults and reading this, I was at a serious low point when I wrote this.  You think you had it bad?  I felt like crying at every moment.  If you have kids, you'll feel this way too.  This isn't a threat or a wish that bad things will happen to you.  It is just a fact.  Parenting is hard and toddlers are crazed.  And they drive you to drink alcohol or Starbucks, whichever is closest.

Love, Mommy
I've decided to give myself a bit of a break.  Barnes and Noble is giving free chocolate to people who bring their nooks in.  Godiva and I have a date.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Because I love that I'm sharing my daughter's toilet training with the world

A few days ago, I was ready to toss all of the panties and go buy a huge box of Pull Ups at Sam's Club.  Saturday, Gracie went through 4 pairs of panties and two swimsuit bottoms.  I was so frustrated with her!  If you ask her where she is supposed to go potty, she will tell you in her sweet little voice: "In the toilet."  If you ask her where she is supposed to go poop, she will tell you in an even sweeter voice: "In the toilet!"  But Saturday, it was like she forgot everything about everything. 

Looking  back, I think she was really tired.  She never takes naps at home, but I managed to get both of them to take a nap for over an hour and a half on Saturday.  It is possible that she was so tired she just wasn't aware enough of her body.

So yesterday, when we planned to go to Sea World, I was on the verge of putting her in Pull Ups.  But when given the option, Gracie said she wanted her panties.  We packed extra panties and shorts, just in case, and headed off.  Gracie promised that she wouldn't have an accident and she was right!

I helped her by taking her every hour or so and watching the fluids she drank.  When she had a lot to drink, I would ask her to take me to the bathroom and, every time, she told me she would go first.  I won't give specifics, because I'm not that interested in embarrassing Little Whoville, but she did all of her business in the toilet yesterday and never had an accident!  She was such a big girl and we made sure to tell her how proud we were of her last night.  We had high fives, hugs, and lots of "We're so proud of yous!"

This morning, our fantastic almost three year old, woke up with a dry Pull Up for the very first time.  I'm really hoping this is a sign of the end of all diapers!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

A Surprise from Daddy

Daddy surprised us today by taking us to a fun indoor play place called Tiny Town.  Tiny Town is a lovely air conditioned play area with a huge jumpy, inflated climbing area, and tons of toddler toys.  It cost us just $14 and we got to play for 3 hours.  The awesome news is that you can show up at 10 am, pay the fee and play all day long.  You can even leave and come back without playing any additional fees AND you can bring your own food, no charge!

Gracie and Luke had a fantastic time.   They played and played, made new friends, climbed, played.  In the end, it was Lukie who was done first.  He was clearly tired and told us it was time to go.  Gracie was not ready to go and gave us a fight.  It wasn't pretty, but we decided to let her have her moment in her car seat as we drove to Baskin Robbins.  There, Daddy treated us to chocolate ice cream and Gracie and Luke finished every single bite of their ice cream.  It was a first.  They really enjoyed it!

We can't wait to go back to Tiny Town again!

Well, who'da thunk it?

The message about eating seems to have been heard loud and clear. Ever since Gracie and Luke refused to eat and we put them to bed without letting them have any more food, they have eaten almost everything we've put in front of them. We've limited snacks and limited television when they get home from pre-school and that has really helped.

I know I joked about it in the last post, but I did read the article on finicky eaters and learned some interesting things. Two things really resonated with me: 1) portion size and 2) the amount of choices we give them. I started paying attention to how much food we were putting on their plates and it was HUGE. It might be the right amount for an adult, but it was enough for at least 3 toddlers. It was the first change I made. We started putting less of each food item on their plates two nights ago and have had real success with them finishing more. The other thing, which is contrary to everything we were told a year ago, is to give them fewer choices on their plates.

Fewer? They just told us to give them lots of things to choose from!

This parenting thing can get super confusing. The article says that some kids can't choose when given too many items on their plates. This is an argument reflected by John Rosemond about toys. His has stated that when children have too many toys, they don't play with any of them because it is so overwhelming. It makes sense, but so did the "give them lots of things to choose from" argument.

We tried that on Tuesday night with lots of success. I bought a roasted chicken from the store and served it with raw broccoli and ranch dip. It was devoured! When they started playing, I reminded them that if they wanted to play that dinner was over. They both sat right back down to finish their food.

On Wednesday, Daddy made dinner and got a little excited with the food choices. They finished some of the food, but not all of it, and left a lot of food. When they started getting up and playing instead of eating their dinner, we declared dinner over and had them take their plates to the kitchen. We told them that if they asked for more food, they could finish their dinners, and left the plates for them to come back to. An hour later, Gracie and Lukie started asking for apples and I reminded them about their dinner. They switched to asking for cookies and again, I reminded them about their dinner. They did not like this at all. I did eventually let them each have one cookie once they had their jammies on, but limited it to just one despite repeated requests. We will try going back to less food and fewer choices tonight. I'm really thinking that less is the key here.

We've had some definite steps forward and I feel inspired to continue begin stricter with them about food.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Eat or don't. It's up to you, kid.

There are picky eaters in the world.  Many of them.  I just never thought my kids would be some of them.  When it was just Gracie, Lukie, and me in the apartment last year, they would eat most everything I put in front of them with some exceptions. Recently, however, they have really been testing my patience.

Things Gracie will eat:
turkey, cheese, crackers
chicken, green beans, and noodles from Panda Express
plain chicken

and, sometimes, she'll eat:
milk/chocolate milk

Lukie will pretty much eat anything we put in front of him, except when he decides he doesn't want to.  Yeah.  He's fun like that.

We don't really have any control over lunch at day care.  We have them help us make their lunches, but when they are at school, they eat only what they want to.  All of the rest of their food comes home in their lunch boxes.  Of course, it would be great if we would make them eat what was left over, but not very safe given it hasn't been in the refrigerator.  Dinner has been the real challenge.  We make dinner.  We put it on their fun plates.  Lukie will eat most of it, especially if it has meat and noodles or meat and rice.  Gracie...She pushes it around and refuses to eat.  Then, she'll ask for crackers or cheese an hour later.

A couple of nights ago, I had enough.  I resolved to let them go hungry if they would not eat what we put in front of them.  So, last night, Gracie said she wanted turkey, cheese, and crackers and Lukie agreed.  I made each of them turkey, cheese, crackers, and added some sliced tomatoes and carrots. 

To say that they ate little of it is an overstatement.  Gracie threw her cheese at Lukie and said that she didn't want it.  Neither of them ate the turkey.  Lukie ate some of his tomatoes and that was it.  Daddy and I told them that they either at their dinner or they would go to bed.  Lukie turned his plate over and dropped his food on the floor.  So, that was it.  At 5:15 pm, they went into the bath tub, and were in their room, in their jammies, at 5:45 pm.  Daddy and I read a few books to them and, then, at 6:30 pm, the lights went off.  There was a lot of crying and kicking of feet, requests for bananas, etc., but Daddy held firm.  They were asleep a little while later and, thankfully, slept through the night.

This morning, they had cereal and when they started to play instead of eat, I asked if they were done and reminded them that if they did not eat their cereal, there was nothing else to eat.  This got them both to sit down and finish a little more.  I don't expect it to be super easy, but I'm sticking with this method.  I thought about trying something flashy and fun to get them to eat, but why?  If you don't eat what we make, then you don't eat.  It's a simple equation, one that Gracie and Lukie need to learn quickly.

Here's something funny:  I started this post about two hours ago and just got an email from about finicky eaters.  Let's see if the "experts" can help with the issue.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Our First Trip to the Library

On Friday, I planned a special trip for Gracie and Luke. We have a number of books at home, but we've read them all. Multiple times. Gracie and Lukie love, LOVE, to read and so I decided to take them to the library. When I picked them up from school, we talked about the library and what we would get to do there; how to use quiet voices and how many books we could bring home. In hindsight, I'm very glad that I had that conversation with them. Otherwise we would have brought home about 20 books!

Gracie was at home from the moment we arrived. In fact, if Lukie hadn't needed a diaper change, I suspect Gracie could have sat at her little table for an hour or more. She loved looking at the books and sitting at the table in the Children's section. I think she read 5 books in the 15 minutes we were there.

Alas, Lukie did need a diaper change, rather badly as it turned out, so we walked to the counter and they each put their book up for the librarian to scan. They were so excited! We will definitely be going back soon!

Cool Pool, Hot Day

We spent $20 on an inflatable pool and hand pump.  It was the best $20 we've spent in forever!

This video is from a few weeks ago, but it shows just how much Lucas loves to be adventurous.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Lukie and the Flamin' Hot Cheetos

Clearly, Lucas is his father's son. Daddy used to search for the hottest salsas and peppers. He once ate a fresh habanero pepper like it was candy. He has issues with heat. He likes his food hot, hot, hot!

That's not to say that I don't like my food spicy, too! One of my favorite snacks is Flamin' Hot Cheetos. When I first started eating them, years ago, they were so spicy, I had to keep milk nearby to cut the heat. When I was pregnant with Gracie and Lukie, they were one of the few chip flavors in the vending machines at the hospital. I would buy a Dr. Pepper and a bag of Flamin' Hot Cheetos. I was a happy girl (despite being stuck in the hospital).

Lucas has inherited our love for spicy foods. His current favorite, like mine, is Flamin' Hot Cheetos. Recently, we were at the park and he snagged a bag from my backpack.

Happy 10th Birthday!

There's nothing better than bringing cupcakes and having free dress on your 10th birthday! These two were so excited that they kept r...