“Rebecca Dillingham, please come to Child Watch” were the words amplified throughout the Y last week — a page I hadn’t heard since I first started taking them to the Y well over a year ago. Thankfully, no one was hurt. Rather, the 3 Amigos’ naughtiness was in high gear, and the childcare folks were simply overwhelmed with the antics — conduct they sometimes have to deal with from one of the boys, but never all three.
And even after a major talking to and varied punishments, a bedtime Houston said, “I have a secret to tell you.” So, I lean down and hear, “You’re the coolest mommy ever.” What a satisfying way to conclude that trying evening.
Luckily, this trilateral meltdown is an aberration of the dudes’ generally good behavior these days. Of course, they have their moments of misdeeds and impropriety, but overall, things have been hunky dory around the zoo.
I think it’s safe to say that Houston enjoys shooting Kara.
Okay, so our already-beloved nanny kicks major butt! Although she began just a short time ago on 8/22, she is already playing a major role in schooling the boys and helping me maintain my sanity — and doing so in just 12 hours a week!
From her first day of making Play-doh creations, playing with Legos, reading and doing phonics with Houston, to her subsequent days of finger painting, light-saber battles and gun fights, flashcards and puzzles, Miss Jessie is just what the doctor ordered. She is particularly creative — for example, Jessie cooked up a batch of homemade Play-doh and let the boys color their own individually bagged amounts of the compound — so we incorporate arts and crafts in to most days.
Jessie’s presence has helped me already accomplish a few things I’ve been wanting to do with the kids, but didn’t have the time. Things like working on “Hooked On Phonics” with Houston, teaching Gabe and Zeke how to use scissors and glue (their first time was on 8/29 and they were both amazingly patient at learning the task and adept at following through on the activity), and giving Houston the extra time he craves for mastering penmanship.
In the beginning, I had loose lesson plans for our Jessie days. And since then, the two of us decided to have themed weeks by implementing the academic, the artsy and the active around a central idea. This week is all about “autumn” and the changing of the seasons. So, after an outdoor scavenger hunt for fall materials, the boys made a gorgeous leaf-imprint painting.
Ice cream is one of Zeke’s favorites, as is Cousin Meredith.
And this will hopefully tie well into next week’s tackling of “the solar system.” And a few other themes we have on tap are “fire safety,” “music theory” and “speaking Spanish.” Of course, the latter will entail an all-Spanish presentation by Daddy (he’s already nervous) and cooking and eating lots of Mexican food.
The entire family is simply loving our move to Westover Church. Stephen and I are taking a three-week break from our FOG (Families on the Grow) Sunday-school group to attend the Newcomers Class. We have learned even more about Westover’s philosophy and doctrine — which is just about perfect for us and our beliefs and goals as Christians — as well as discovered even more intimate, smaller-group classes that our church has to offer.
Another move we’re happy about is the “promotion” of the boys in their Sunday-school classes. Houston’s class is about the same level of awesomeness — Bible lesson, crafts, singing, inside play, outdoor fun, etc. — but Gabe and Zeke have made the huge and quite necessary leap from a baby-ish class to a big-boy learning environment, which involves all of what is offered in Houston’s class, but at an age-appropriate level. The twins are far less bored, making for a lot more double and a lot less trouble.
To our surprise, Stephen and Houston made the cover of Westover’s Septembers newsletter. The adorable shot of Daddy swimming with an elated Houston was taken from the church’s father-son campout they attended last month.
Houston does a mean Cookie Monster @ the Children’s Museum.
I also joined Westover’s MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers). It’s an international church-based organization that “equips moms to embrace their mothering instincts” and helps moms to develop “their own parenting styles, while navigating through the myriad of daily mom decisions.”
After just one meeting, I think MOPS will be fantastic. I clicked with all the gals at my table, which we’re assigned to for the duration of the club. And being that MOPS runs through May, all these moms and I should be pretty darn tight by the end of it all. Also, my group consists of moms who live in my neck of the woods, with the hope that this will promote tighter friendships and easier get-togethers.
My little social butterflies seem to enjoy the “Moppets” childcare, which is just a more casual version of their Sunday school lessons, but with some new friendly faces.
In an effort to get the twins accustomed to sleeping in a toddler bed, Jessie and I sometimes let the best-behaved boy nap in Houston’s bed, since big bro does his required “relaxation time” later in the day. Both Gabe and Zeke have pulled it off successfully a time or two, so the goal is that when we finally save up enough dough for bunk beds, the transition from the crib will be a smooth one.
We passed on some of Houston’s too-snug briefs to the twins as to get a handle on the potty training. I told myself I wasn’t going to stress about it till they turned 3, and now that we’re down to less than a month away from Gabe and Zeke’s birthday, Daddy, Jessie, the grandmas and I are in full get-er-done mode. Not only will sprained wrists and thumbs be a thing of the past, but not shelling out the the big bucks for diapers and wipes might even move us up an income bracket — although, in this economy, I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or not.
Gabriel feverishly shops for produce & grains @ the museum.
The kids had to go in for their six-month dental exam on Monday. Sure, we had Jessie there to help out, but it was incredible how far the boys have come in overcoming their fear and apprehension of a good teeth cleaning. This is most notable in Houston, who used to be truly terrified of going to Dr. Mike. He even got x-rays this time around, and handled it with grace and bravery. The twins have never experienced quite the level of dentist-phobia as has big bro, but their courageous behavior was quite tenacious, as well.
Dr. Mike did give us a reminder that we’ve got to work on breaking Zeke of his thumb-sucking habit. I wrapped his thumb in an Ace bandage before a nap one day this week, but he quickly removed the attempted cloth repellent. Why would I expect anything less?
However, Zeke has finally mastered the art of spitting out his toothpaste in the sink. We’ve been working on it for six months now, so thank goodness that pea-sized amount of fluoride isn’t getting in to his system anymore. However, we still have a ways to go with Gabe, who still insists on swallowing before doing his humorous version of a hardy spit. We’ll get there.
And yesterday, I began flossing Gabe and Zeke’s teeth, which turned out to be an amazingly easy undertaking. Yay for small miracles!
The museum’s humongous chair is always a hit for the kids.
Mealtime & going potty
I stole a great idea from one of our new guilty-pleasure TV shows, “Nanny 911”: marbles in a jar. The twins earn a “diamond” (read: a colored glass stone) when they go potty when asked, or two diamonds when tell me they have to go before the act takes place in their diaper. Houston earns a stone when he completes a meal without spilling his drink. The boys each have a fancy jar, which they decorated with paint and glued-on embellishments. Once the jar is full, the reward is one-on-one time with Daddy doing an activity of their choosing.
The next was an idea that Jessie built off of mine. I had been telling the boys that kids who aren’t polite during mealtime don’t eat at Chuck E. Cheese. (Yep, a white lie, for sure, but whatever works, right?!) Jessie decided to make a “teamwork” reward poster, where the kids have to earn 30 marks before getting treated to the fun that Chuck has to offer. A mark can only be earned when all three use good manners and don’t potty talk, making this our only good-behavior motivator that isn’t based on the individual.
Also, we purchased sit disks, which a physical therapist suggested we try out, once she found out we were doing pre-K at home and planned on homeschooling, as well. The partially inflated rubber “wiggle seats” are supposed to help active children sit still, which they actually do. So the seats not only help calm academic and crafty activities, but they’ve also made a huge difference at mealtime. Awesome!
- “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” is again in daily rotation. The twins laugh hysterically when Snoopy is a “shadow” (read: when he’s sneaking across the French countryside as the WWI flying ace and rising in Linus’ pumpkin patch).
- The 3 Amigos are way into “Ghost-iz” (ghosts). They have some self-adhesive ones on their bedroom window that we named Scary Mary, Billy Boo and Rotten Boy (this one was Houston’s idea).
Zeke drives the fire truck w/ charisma & confidence.
- There’s also Big J and Lil’ J: a plastic luminescent jack-o-lantern and his smaller, non-radiant counterpart.
- And we already have the obligatory real pumpkin, Paulie, who guards the house from ghouls and monsters.
- Costume update: Houston wanted to be a pirate, but now wants to be a Star Wars storm trooper. Zeke made the leap from wanting to be a cowboy to now wanting dress up like a pumpkin. And Gabe has never faltered: he will be Darth Vader.
Some other fun stuff
- Stephen and Houston attended another Grasshoppers game on 8/30. Uncle Greg won a party package in a raffle, so they were treated to free admission, free food and box seats.
- Houston’s t-ball has become a family affair. We have been attending his games and practices as a unit since it’s great fun for all. He is also doing superbly at picking up on the ins and outs of the sport.
- Granny and Grumps visited Labor Day weekend. Happy belated birthday, Grumps!
- And Gramsey and Papa stayed over one night last week. Thanks for the curtains!
Note: Please keep Zeke in your prayers because he in the throes of battling a nasty ear infection. Now that he’s medicated, we should get some decent sleep around here tonight.
Finally, all the photos from Dina, Kara and Meredith’s June visit are available for your viewing pleasure. (Another “Thanks!” goes out to Cousin Merdy, who captured most of these early-summer memories.) Click the top pic to check out “Barber Park,” the ice-cream shot to see “McDonald’s” and the photo of Gabriel shopping for “Children’s Museum” fun.