… or unnecessary bedlam???
The family made our 3rd annual post-Thanksgiving trek to Sugar Plum Farm to get a Christmas tree. If you don’t recall the previous years, the outings were not as fun-filled as Stephen and I had hoped, namely due to a belligerent Zeke and unfriendly weather. With balmy temps and kids who are a year older, we were hopeful that this time would be a more successful jaunt.
Visiting Santa while waiting in line, the hayride up the mountain and the choose-and-cut portion of the day went smashingly well, but went downhill after that with spazzes and spills over not-so-hot chocolate; Houston’s “my legs are broken” complaints and subsequent dramatic collapses (this is what he sometimes does when he’s exhausted); and Gabriel hurling a handful of pebbles at an unsuspecting man.
To top it off, we had driven both the van and Grumps’ Jeep in an effort to have an escape car, so that if one kid got too cranky, we could remove him from the situation, salvaging the good times for those who remained. Even though Zeke (surprise, surprise!) was an extremely good boy, we opted to bolt as a unit, since patience and energy levels were running low pretty early on.
Houston & Miss Jessie work on penmanship & writing his name.
Daddy, a sleeping Zeke and Gabe waited in the vehicle line for tree pick-up, while Houston and I drove the Jeep and parked near the exit. Infuriated by the fact that he was in the van and not Grumps’ cool car, Gabriel decided to let loose the heavy-metal screams for which he is infamous. Everyone could hear his blood-curdling screeches, making Daddy’s front-row seat to the performance all the more pleasant.
So yes, we payed top dollar for a Carolina-grown Frasier Fir, but we missed out on all the extra fun that the farm has to offer, like paddle boating, feeding the ducks, roasting marshmallows, etc. And since we have yet to really take advantage of those perks, Stephen and I are at a crossroads: continue the purposeful tradition, cherishing the magic moments that come out of the chaos, or give up on what feels like such a daunting and unappreciated undertaking. What say you?
Zeke’s tantrums have subsided, from the frenetic one-hour fits mentioned in the last blog, to the shorter-lived, but still excited meltdowns that followed, to the current pretty-easy-to-ignore bouts of agitation. Basically, his acting out is about on par as anything Houston and Gabe will throw at us on occasion … a pain in the butt, for sure, but totally tolerable and to be expected.
Gabe asks, “Wouldn’t I make an adorable fireman?”
Then there’s what I call equal-opportunity naughtiness: when the kids all let that devil on their shoulder smooth-talk and outmaneuver the angel on the other side, wearing out Mommy in the process. And since this takes place mostly during the bath time/bedtime regimen — of course, when I’m at my most pooped point of the day — Daddy and I have come up with a few new rules.
- I’m going to avoid the frequent chaos that is a two- or three-boy bath and instead bathe only one kid a night. Sure, not the best hygienic practices in the world, but a much better utilization of my energy and sanity.
- Once the 3 Amigos are in bed, we’re going to let them have about 30 minutes of free time, so that they can talk, sing, giggle, read books together, have stuffed-animal fights or action-figure wars, and do whatever else (within reason) it is they find so necessary to do on a nightly basis.
- When the allotted time is up, it’s lights out and door closed. And if anyone breaks the rules of “lie down, be quiet and go to sleep,” they ALL get punished. Hey, it works in the military, so why not put on my drill sergeant hat and give it a whirl here at the zoo?! After all, I am a mother who does where a whistle, so I’m confident I can pull it off.
“Whoa, this is one powerful hose,” says Zeke.
Some recent wins
All this is certainly not to say that the dudes don’t have countless well-behaved moments, don’t exhibit consideration for others, don’t commit random acts of kindness or sharing, don’t use their manners or aren’t truly phenomenal on some excursions.
Here are some examples of the 3 Amigos’ goodness:
- Daddy and the kids road-tripped to the mountains for Cousin Kelly’s wedding on 11/5. Daddy, typically a harsher critic than am I, happily reported that the boys were sweet and polite.
- When meeting up with Granny and Grumps at our Chick-fil-A half-way spot on 11/10, all boys went potty without complaint, were very calm and mannerly while eating, and then played nicely with the other kids in the play area.
- Granny says the dudes were also mannerly during an ice-cream outing she treated them to while in the mountains.
- We went to Jump-n-Fun with MOPS on 11/14. The boys were such brave bouncers, sliders and climbers, giving me some much-needed adult time with the other moms. Smiles, sharing and good behavior abounded.
- On 11/18, we attended a Moms Club Thanksgiving brunch/playgroup at a member’s home. Again, the kids were excellent, ate great, had a blast with their buds and did a fair job at helping clean up the wrecked house.
- Couple these instances with glowing reports at church, the Y and in MOPS class, and I’d say my boys are slowly, sometimes painstakingly, but surely growing into fine little men.
As big as he is, Houston still might need a smaller size.
Health & happiness
Houston started complaining about his ears the night of 11/21. The pain persisted into the next day, so I took him to a trusted doc (not their pediatrician), who said he indeed had an ear infection. Instead of the regular prescription of immediate antibiotics, she wanted to try him out Mucinex for 48 hours first, since she said that some of these yucky ear problems are caused by viruses.
After some crazy sleepless nights — including one evening with Daddy on the couch, the 3 Amigos in our bed, and me curled up on the floor of the kids’ room on two of their mattresses — and putting off our Thanksgiving trip up to the mountains by a day, both boys are finally feeling better. Fortunately, the Mucinex kicked Zeke’s illness by that Saturday, and Houston, who ended up needing the antibiotics after all, is now on the road to recovery.
Our Thanksgiving with Granny and Grumps was low-key … that is, until Houston had his first-ever nosebleed that night. Stephen and I were definitely freaked out, but luckily for us, Granny was a “free bleeder” as a kid and knew exactly what to do to get it stopped.
Then on Saturday night, Houston had another one, which was much more intense, gory and traumatic than the first. Again, Granny worked her magic, teaching both Houston and I a thing or two about how to handle and stop nosebleeds.
Already the pro, Gabriel works the gauges on the firetruck.
In fact, Houston has already put his new expertise to use, successfully stopping two little nosebleeds all on his own. “I can handle it,” he says reassuringly in a nasally voice while pinching his nose with a tissue.
We figure (and hope) that these are a fluke caused by a perfect storm: the massive swings in mountain temperatures (from low 20s at night to high 60s in the day), the gas-log heating of the mountain house, all the congestion that comes with an ear infection and perhaps even the higher altitude at Granny’s. Fingers crossed!
Going potty & rewards
The twins’ potty training is progressing, but we still have a way to go. They’ll be doing great, staying dry, peeing standing up “like brother,” loving their big-boy undies. And then, as if back to square one, they’ll flood their britches, poop their pants or even doo-doo on the bathroom floor, and all this after swearing up and down that they didn’t have to go. Huh?
So, instead of always being the one to prompt them to go, I updated the diamond-in-the-jar reward system. Now, Gabe and Zeke can earn a “diamond” only if he is the one to initiate the potty break and then successfully get the pee or poop into the toilet. Interestingly, Zeke (who was lagging behind in his potty training for a long while) already has seven diamonds and Gabriel only has one.
Zeke, being the huge fan of hats that he is, feels right at home.
Houston’s reward system has also been tweaked: he now has to dress himself fully without any assistance to earn a diamond. We are cutting him a little slack on his socks, though, since all of his current stash are either too snug or too big. As of today, Houston trails behind Zeke by only two diamonds.
On 11/20, Daddy finally took Gabriel on a one-on-one hike for his first diamond win. We tallied their full jars the following day and G-man retained the title, beating out Houston by only four stones. As both bros are in stiff competition for the next championship, Gabe looks forward to his second prize: swimming at the Y with Daddy.
Miss Jessie rocks
On 11/23, Miss Jessie put on a Thanksgiving mini-reenactment. The boys donned their pilgrim hats as they departed the Mayflower (the back deck), and found corn in the garden, nuts near the shed and maple syrup in a tree. While playing in the makeshift teepee (the outdoor fort covered with a sheet), we discussed how God’s divine hand made the pilgrim’s feast possible, before the kids pretended to cook the stuffed-animal turkey and fish over a campfire.
At the doc, Houston weighed 46.6 pounds and is 45″ tall.
Triple trouble in the bathtub is now a thing of the past.
I am taking an amazing 10-week night class at church. My awesome hubby is feeding the kids dinner and getting them to bed so that I can take part in this wonderful learning opportunity.
Since we didn’t do much on our actual 11th anniversary, Stephen and I celebrated the occasion on 11/11/11. We fine-dined at one of our fave restaurants, while Granny had the kids for the weekend.
The 3 Amigos, who are constantly discussing the merits of spicy food at mealtime, like both horseradish sauce and steak sauce. Thank goodness they have pretty adventurous palettes as far as kids go.
Our 15-year-old cat, Bob, has been diagnosed with hyperthyroidism. She is presently on meds and doing okay, but old Bobby might be on her last lap. A weird one, for sure, she has been a good and loyal cat. I just pray Bob’s final days are peaceful.
Click Zeke in the helmet to see all the firehouse fun had on 9/30 and the above photo to view the September gallery.