“threenager”

Three has been quite the age for us. We are in a season of life where all 3 does is argue — literally, about everything. Because I am with him all day, each day, I am really worn down by the incessant arguments. Sure, we’ve moved past the spite peeing but now that school is on the horizon, I think that his anxiety is kicking in and EVERYTHING is a battle: Getting dressed, using the bathroom before we go on a long car ride, eating, brushing his teeth.

I know that his anxiety is revving, and I try to talk about what school will look like. He is going three days a week for three hours each day. He starts on Monday and I’m hoping some of these behaviors fall by the wayside when he starts school and adjusts to his new routine.

It can be very challenging to remain patient through the minute-by-minute arguments, followed up by throwing-himself-on-the-ground tantrums. I have been giving myself tons of breaks throughout the day so that I can have some semblance of patience when dealing with these behaviors.

In addition to the anxiety, he has been fighting naps most days. Some days, he’s out so cold that he goes to the bathroom and doesn’t wake; most days, he just fights naps. I recognize that I can’t make him sleep, obviously, so my typical rule is that he do a quiet activity. Most days, he follows this rule and will relax in his bed with a few books. These are the days he tends to have better days; but then there are days when he scales his brother’s furniture (it’s all bolted) and plays with his things — he knows he’s not supposed to; he’s engaging in these behaviors out of spite and sometimes anger.

I can honestly say that there are days where I’ve felt like 3’s behaviors were going to break me. A few weeks ago, I texted my husband and told him needed to come back and work from home; he’s just left. We were in the throws of the third tantrum by 8AM and 11 & 13 were so tired they were just spinning around. (Keep in mind, we maintain pretty strict bedtime schedules, so we recognized everyone was run down — probably because we spent a lot of time at parks and the beach and just running around in the sun.)

So, here we are, the weekend before school starts and 3 is acting helpless — “can’t” put on his clothes or go to the bathroom or drink his water. He is a trooper, though: We’ve traveled a lot this summer and he’s a great flier and a great backseat driver in the car (“Oh, mommy, watch — that car isn’t paying attention … Mommy, there’s a red light”) — his backseat driving skills have only improved since switching him to forward facing — alas, once we return home, his behaviors kick back in.

Part of it, I think, is him exhausting himself trying to keep it all together while we are out and about and traveling to and fro; so, when we are home, he just can’t keep it together. He’s also had more appointments than usual with his care team; he weaned from thick liquids to thin and had several follow-ups as a result. This was a big deal for him and his health but also a big transition.

Regardless, it’s rough and it’s been weighing on me. I like our normal routines and I’m hoping that once school starts, he will feel safe in the environment and some of these behaviors will fall by the wayside. Until then, we will keep doing what we are doing — we give him a lot of choices (he chooses what snacks he wants; toothpaste; clothing). We try to give him as many choices as we can, which we’d hoped would make things easier for him but it sometimes feels that’s not the case. Last week, I took him shopping to pick out a backpack, which was very exciting for him (but again, I think it made his anxiety brew).

So, here we are in 3’s last week of summer break. We are hopeful that we can reel things back in and alleviate a lot of these behaviors sooner than later. Until then, you can find me sitting in silence in my room after copious hugs are given… happy to receive any positivity…

water park adventures

My semester ended on Monday and on Wednesday, 3 and I packed our bags and drove to Great Wolf Lodge. It was interesting trip for a few reasons:

  1. We drove to Fitchburg, an area I’d never been but in our journey to get there, we passed Shirley, MA. Five years ago, my husband and I put an offer and deposit on a lot to build a house in Shirley.

    WHAT. WERE. WE. THINKING?

    When you get off of the exit, you’re greeted by a giant tractor store. I know that there was a lot going on during that time and it is beautiful out there in the country. All I kept thinking as I drove past was how miserable I’d be if we’d ended up there. Sure, we’d have a beautiful home that we’d designed, but that’s where things would come to a stand still for me. I am happy we ended up in our beach town, able to walk to the ocean (and bonus, we designed our current kitchen last summer when our floor caved in, so – there’s that).

  2. We drove past the town where my son was born and spent the first year of his life. I was definitely feeling emotional passing those exits. I’ve only ever been to that town for his disclosure meeting, pre-move-in visits, and our court date when his adoption was finalized.
  3. My son was excitedly talking about our “abventure” and then I looked back and he was out cold asleep. What a little trooper. He managed to get in a 40 minute nap on our 70 minute drive, so he was all ready to roll when we got into the water park.

Great Wolf Lodge is HUGE! I parked on the other side of campus and when all was said and done, we walked nearly three miles before we even got to the water park (granted, I ran 1.5 in the AM and we did walk the dog before we left).

We went to our room, moved the car, got changed, and then went to the water park. What fun! There are two sides of water park at the GWL in Fitchburg. We spent a few hours on one side where 3 ran and played and swam. He went down a water slide over and over and over and just laughed and laughed, having the best time.

I love that I get to see the world through his toddler eyes. He was just having such fun and as a result, so was I. After our water park time, we showered and went to dinner and then to bed. It was a busy day and I wanted to be well-rested for the following.

The next morning started off okay — we went to breakfast; 3 ate a small feast; and then we went to the other side of the water park. He didn’t care as much for this side, so we only spent a little while there. We went back to the room after a bit, changed, went to the balloon animal activity where 3 got a purple monkey on a green tree balloon.

We walked around, got dessert and then pizza, and then went back to our room for naps and some HGTV. 3 was pretty exhausted at that point, so we took it easy the rest of the night. Friday morning, we got up, had breakfast, and got on the road to head home. I had my Friday 5k to run upon our arrival and figured 3 could use a nice, long nap… actually, it seemed we BOTH needed a nice, long nap. I put 3 down and decided to lay down myself; two hours later, I awoke, got my 5K in, and got ready for dinner.

We ended our adventure with a trip to one of our favorite Tex-Mex restaurants as a family. All-in-all, it was a great couple days and a nice way to kick off the end of the semester. I am still waiting for consistent warmer weather, though I will say, this weekend’s preview has been lovely!

end of semester recap

Well, folks, I made it through the end of the semester! Monday marked my last day of classes and yesterday I spent some time updating grades. I will submit and finalize everything on Friday upon my return from 3’s and my FIRST SUMMER ADVENTURE!

We are leaving in about 30 minutes to head on a mommy-3 retreat and we are both so excited. 3 has been talking about his “abventure” all week and told me today that he can’t wait until we get there. I can’t wait either!

This week has been really remarkable. On Monday, I had students wait in a line to talk to me after class and tell me that they looked forward to attending my class every week. It was so nice to hear. The biggest compliment, though, was from a student who casually mentioned that it really meant a lot to him to see how I tried to connect with all of my students and build a community within my classroom. I know that this is not something that most professors do and I’ve definitely been told by colleagues that I really shouldn’t care about my students, but it was honestly one of the most appreciated comments I’ve ever been given about my work.

I’ve been looking to transition out of teaching for a while and started doing some consultant work here and there; nothing really steady or serious. I’ve been working on rebranding and marketing in 2019 and have a few big projects in the pipeline that I’m excited about. Monday’s end to the semester really left me on a high note going into a summer and at least a fall sabbatical.

Monday’s high was quickly knocked down by Tuesday’s low. 3 was just not having any part of that day. He went to daycare on Monday and we know when he goes he is over-stimulated and under-rested. This trickled into Tuesday like a waterfall… it was throw-himself-on-the-floor tantrum after tantrum accompanied by screaming and crying. When it was nap time, I ate two giant bowls of ice cream and took a nap myself (I may or may not have cried myself to sleep).

The evening was better for both of us, even though I was so upset all day that all I’d eaten was breakfast (eggs) and ice cream, so I ended up missing my yoga classes in lieu of a salad and some cabbage. It was worth it. I had S relax and read in his room before bed and he got a good night’s sleep and is ready to take on today’s big adventure.

 

kids & responsibilities

We believe in shared household responsibilities. Some people classify these things as chores but we think they’re necessary for everyone to pitch in for the house to run smoothly and also for the kids to learn to take proper responsibility for things.

3 has the simplest chores, of course. He is responsible for matching his socks, he also folds and puts away his pants and pajamas (though I fold the tops). He can’t reach the other drawers yet, but he does take ownership for what he can. He is also responsible for keeping his room clean and putting away his dishes. He enjoys feeding the dog, too, so he frequently takes on that responsibility (or watching him in the backyard).

11 and 13 have similar chores: They both do their own laundry (this started a couple years ago when they both decided they were done sorting laundry; it started as a consequence and we just decided to turn it into a responsibility); on some weekends, they do some dusting and swiffering and each clean one of the two bathrooms they use. They are responsible also for keeping their rooms clean and doing their homework.

In the mornings, 11 takes the recycling down and in the evenings, he’s earned dish duty (loading the dishwasher). 13 unloads the dishes in the mornings and walks the dog after school — she just started this responsibility after turning 13. It’s comical; today, for example, she stood at the bottom of the steps begging the dog to come downstairs for his walk. We decided to add this responsibility to take something off my plate but Brutus isn’t really impressed; hopefully, he will start to trust her intentions sooner than later so he more swiftly will leave with her.

We feel strongly that having household responsibilities is important for a few reasons — it makes everyone invested in the house, it allows everyone to contribute, and it offers ownership of certain spaces/aspects of things. What types of chores/responsibilities do your families divvy?

sunday funday, bath edition

Now, I’m not going to lie, I love baths. I take at least one bath a week with bath salts or a bath bomb from LUSH. This week took more out of me than I can even put into words, so I started my day with an 85-minute yoga class, came home and ate while my husband and the kids were at church, and then started to prep the kids’ lunches for the week. It was a nice morning and I decided to cap off the afternoon with the same sense of ease and relaxation.

My husband was downstairs cutting potatoes and the kids were in 12’s room playing. I ran some scalding hot water, tossed in a cup of Yog-ahhhhh bath salts, and climbed in ready to relax. Apparently, the children caught wind of my attempt at relaxation and decided it was a good time to establish a garage band, but in our sitting room. As I closed my eyes, I heard the echoes of two harmonicas (3 & 10) and a triangle (played by 12). The dog was clearly auditioning for the lead singing role because I heard his [barking] voice above the music.

Ahhhhhh, indeed.

#adventuresinmumming

potty training

We started potty training 3 last month. We did the 3-day potty training idea where we had him sit on the potty every 30-45-60 minutes and see how it goes. He seemed to figure out the potty training piece pretty quickly and I think it was more out of his own frustration than anything.

I’m not sure if there are other parents on here who have children with swallowing disorders. 3 has several health issues but one of them requires a thickening agent to drink. We are wondering if the thickened liquids take longer to process and work their way through his little body. He drinks a lot and still only goes to the bathroom every three hours or so. He’s been consistent with this from the start of his training.

Our experience with him has been largely great; but not completely. We went through a 2-day period where he had some spite peeing while with my husband. He didn’t seem to enjoy having to clean himself up afterwards, though, so that ended pretty quickly, fortunately.

Night-time potty training is a whole other experience. We are still doing diapers at night. First, we tried waking him every 3-4 hours through the night which turned into a nightmare for us because nobody was getting any sleep. After a few days of realizing that just wasn’t going to work, we changed things around. 3 goes to bed at 7:30PM; at 9:30PM, we get him up and put him on the toilet and then put him in a diaper. He’s half asleep at this time, so he doesn’t really know what’s going on but he’s been going, which is great. My husband gets up for work at 5:45AM and gets 3 up, puts him on the toilet, and then gets him dressed in underwear and puts him back in bed until 7AM when his get-out-of-bed clock lights up.

This is a strategy that’s worked for us. Aside from the spite pee incidents, he’s been doing great through the day and even the 9:30/5:45 toilet trips, which is great. I am flying solo with him over my spring break, so I’m hopeful that he can keep it up on the flight and we can stay dry on our trip from Boston to Pittsburgh!