Thursday, April 17, 2014

Potty Training: The Final Episode

Well, it's that time of life again. Spring break equals potty training time in our house, apparently. This time it's a little different, though, with an added dose of peer and parental pressure! Fred goes to a toddler pre-school class that meets 3 days a week. There are 5 kids in the class, all of whom turned 3 between January and March, with Fred being the lonely March baby. One of the children is potty trained fully, and another is 95% potty trained, so their teacher thought it a good idea for the parents of the non-potty trained kids to get on that shit over spring break. And on it we are!

Fred has been doing only ok. At home he gets to run around in his brand new star wars lego underpants, and when we go out I often put him in loose, athletic style pants for easy access. He'll pee on the potty all day long, and has had zero accidents at home and only one out in the world. But he waits each and every day until he gets a diaper on to do his pooping. Which STINKS, pun intended. He still has to rest for some time in the afternoon, and so I put him in a pull up. Plus he wears one to bed. And yesterday we had several errands to run which necessitated him being in the car for a longish time, so he got diapered then, and each time is when he chose to poop.

Except for this morning, when he pooped and peed his pants at the playground directly across from our house, not 10 minutes after he had used the potty at home.

He still has all of next week off, so I'm hoping we can get this worked out before he has to go back to school diaper-less. Otherwise, his teacher is going to be pissed.

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Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Love and Marriage

Nearly 12 years ago SOB and I got married. I pretty much knew when I was 17 that it was going down like that, but we were respectable and waited until we were 23 and 24. It was a fun day, but not without it's faults. At the time, I had a lot of anxiety, and the medication I was taking made me quite zombie-like. When I look back on our wedding photos, all I see is a girl with a blank, vaguely pleasant looking face on. Good, but not great. See below for an example, plus a photo of all of my lovely bridesmaids! 

Additionally, and this may ruffle a few feather so consider yourself warned, there was a large part of me that wasn't too thrilled with our catholic wedding ceremony. At the time I was recently graduated from a Jesuit university, but for years I had been having doubts about the faith in which I was raised. I just wasn't sure what I believed in anymore. I knew, however, that I believed in this relationship with SOB, and so it didn't matter to me where we got married. 

As time went on, though, I really began to think more and more about catholicism, and religion in general. I spent the better part of a decade thinking about it. I spoke with clergy, the priest who married us in fact, about my ambivalence towards religion. I spoke with therapists. I spoke with friends. I spoke with family. I spoke with the man to whom I had committed my life. Finally, after many, many years of literal soul searching, I finally came to the realization that I was an atheist. 

SOB had kind of been there all along, just waiting for me to catch up. He never once tried to sway me to the "dark side", but there I ended up just the same. 

A few months ago, by some serendipitous chance of fate, in the two minutes I get alone in the car I heard Penn Jillette on the radio. He was talking about a crowd funding project that he had going on, and as soon as I got home I checked it out. Scrolling through the list of items, I noticed that one of the things up for grabs was to have Penn marry you, or renew your vows. Now you may or may not know this, but Mr. Jillette, besides from being an amazing magician, is also quite the outspoken atheist. Having watched his show Bullshit, having heard various interviews with him, and having read several of his books (two of which are titled God, No! and Every Day Is An Atheist Holiday!) we were fully aware of his godless slant, so to speak. We thought, what a perfect way to renew our vows and shed the shadow of the religious ceremony that had shrouded our union for more than a decade! 40 minutes later it was a done deal.

After a few months of planning and scheduling, the event finally went off this past weekend, and it was everything we could have ever hoped it would be. Thanks to his beautiful and gracious wife Emily, we have a short video of the ceremony. If you are sensitive to swearing or atheism in general, please don't watch. I won't be offend. You might be, though. 

Once before, I have stood with you before family and friends; once again, I take your hand as my partner. I believe in this marriage more strongly than ever. We have evolved and transformed together. We have endured together, laughed together. We are raising a beautiful family together. It is with joy born of experience and trust that I commit myself once again to you.  The best is yet to be.

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Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Second Time Around

We're going to Vegas! SOB got a retro 1970s tuxedo, I got a dress, I have a celebrity's wife's phone number, the chapel is reserved and it's going to be epic! 

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Monday, March 24, 2014

Mother Hen

Over the weekend, I quelled my urge to have another baby by picking up eight adorable baby chicks. 

We have been planning all year to get chickens, and the stars aligned on Saturday morning. Right now they are residing in a kiddie pool in our garage, under some heat lamps, nesting comfortably in our old shredded documents. There is a coop to be built, but they won't be big enough for outdoor living for 4-5 weeks, so we have time. The county ordinance states that we can have 5 hens and no roosters, but we got unsexed chicks so I bought some extra to hedge our bets. Plus, we already have one babe who looks like he/she might not make it. The kids are standing vigil, but have already started planning where to bury him/her. (Edited to add: he/she didn't. Super sad face.

They are so cute and fluffy, it's hard not to get a little attached. Fred has even been singing them lullabies! You go ahead and try not to get a little misty watching this! 


I had to cut off the cuteness because the furnace kicked on, and since I was sitting nearby, it drowned out all of the extra cute names Fred had given the chicks.

Yes, I have to check their butts to make sure they aren't clogged up, and yes, we may have to deal with an unpleasant situation if and when some turn out to be roosters, but still? I heart them.

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Thursday, March 20, 2014

Signs and Signals

The other day an email popped up in the inbox from some parenting website. In the past 8 years I've ended up on a lot of those, and usually I just dump them right into the trash, but they top article caught my eye. 10 Signs Your Child May Have Asperger's Syndrome. I clicked on the link and started reading, and was saying 'yep' after each point in regards to my little Lulu.

1. Fixation on one activity? Just take a look around her room at all of the homemade musical instruments she made out of recycling and yarn for the answer to that one.

2. Little professor speech? HA! Just ask any adult who has ever spoken to her, or go and scroll through my Facebook posts and read her quotes that I've posted. Remember her Valentine's? Her vocabulary is astounding, and includes several made up words that sound the part. Emphatic yes to this point.

3. Difficulty reading social cues? Lucy hugs every person she knows, even if it is painfully obvious that the person on the receiving end of the hug doesn't like it. We have been coaching her on this and kissing for years, and she still has troubles with it. Luckily, the kissing part is more under control, but she will tell people, 'I wish you were a part of my family so that I could kiss you on the lips.' So, yeah.

4. Need for routine? This one is killer for me, because with 4 kids and a husband with a wonky schedule, keeping a regular routine is tough. We try to keep bedtime regular, but when we screw that up she suffers dearly, and so does her teacher the next day. YES.

5. Emotional meltdowns? Lucy's tantrums are epic, and often sparked by something insignificant. Maggie wants to play house instead of vet. Sam took the red twisty straw and she got the yellow one. Fred touched her fluffy unicorn. I asked her to do homework. The fact that she's 6 1/2 makes these even more ludicrous. Yes, yes, yes.

6. Lack of empathy? This was the only one that wasn't an obvious yes. Lucy displays tons of empathy at times, but none at other times. It's a little perplexing to me.

7. Can't understand speech subtleties? Do you know how many times a day I have to ask her to look at my face and listen to how my words sound, so that I can try and clue her in on how I'm feeling about things? Dear jebus yes.

8. Unusual body language? Again, hahahahahaha! Lucy is constantly moving through space as though some weird, triply music is playing in her head. At piano, she moves like Stevie Wonder, even when she's only playing Twinkle Twinkle. The child was made for a career in interpretive dance.

9. Delayed motor development? This was the only hard no on this quiz. Lucy has always been pretty advanced with both gross and fine motor skills. Bike riding, ice skating, chopstick using, you name it!

10. Sensory sensitivities? Holy hell yes. Lucy has a horrible time participating in rug time at school because the texture of the rug is so appealing to her she can't concentrate on anything else. If her teacher puts her in a chair she's devastated because she wants to sit on the beloved rug. She's been keeping a cotton ball as a pet for weeks because she loves the way he feels. She eats many foods with glee, but has a hypersensitivity to garlic, and sobs if she sees red sauce on anything. So, again, yes.

While all of these signs point to YES, Lucy has been evaluated twice and received a big NO. Partly because she is still a little young for a diagnosis, and partly because she has days where she is pretty much, well, normal. She is on the cusp, I guess. We are taking Lucy for yet another evaluation this afternoon, where they will assess her quirky-ness and see if they can figure out ways to help her, this time with speech and language.

I struggle so much with the all of the unknown that surrounds her. I cry inside every time I see another kid cringe at her well meaning hug. I love watching her at the piano and listening to the songs she writes with names like 'life fire' or spying on her as she's totally absorbed at her easel. I don't want to change who she is. I only want to help make her voyage through this world a little easier.

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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

State of Emotions

My firstborn takes after his mother in many ways. Obviously, he gets his charm, intelligence and good looks from me, but he has also inherited a flair for being overly emotional.

On Sunday afternoon I was upstairs working, and when I came down to check on the score of the hockey game Sam was watching, I found him sobbing on the couch. I asked what was wrong, and he couldn't even answer he was crying so hard. He pointed emphatically at the television and I panicked, thinking that maybe there had been some tragic news story that interrupted the game. Nope, he was simply crying because the Penguins lost to the Flyers (two days in a row) and he was despondent. 

He is also prone to hyperbole. For example, each and every day is either the worst day ever or the best day ever. If he gets into trouble at school, he'll call himself the stupidest boy in the world, and if he scores a goal at hockey it's because he's the best player on his team.

Lately, piano has been vexing him. For the first two months they were playing simple pieces with the right and left hands playing the same thing. He's flying through his lessons (musical talent runs on my side of the family, by the way) and has started working on a piece where his left hand is playing something entirely different from his right hand. This is incredibly frustrating to him, and when he is in his lesson his teacher will hold onto some tissues so that she can catch the tears dripping off of his nose before they hit the keys. And while he claims to hate piano more than anything in the world, he'll often sit himself down and start playing without any prompting from me, so I know he can't hate it too much. 

He finally got his hands working together but independently. I was so proud of him, and he was so proud of himself. I want to share this because I'm hoping, like the skating videos, that one day we'll have a fun little chronological order series of his talent developing. 

Lightly Row

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Monday, March 17, 2014