Saturday, June 26, 2010

One (or 2) With Nature

So in the beginning, Potty Training Luccio was every bit the nightmare I expected. Load after load of laundry included wet sheets and countless pairs of underwear for days. However, one week later he just about Mastered The Bathrooming!! Yeah!!!! He was a bit resistant to using the Big Potty at first (for #2) so we brought in the Little Potty that we usually leave in the car. He had a breakthrough moment last week at Stregga and Papa's house. We were outside and the kids were palying and Luccio requested using his Little Potty near the trees. He had seen his friend James using the tree to pee the week before. He thought that was a bit too much for him, but liked the idea of the potty near the trees. I was eager to help facilitate whatever progress he could make so I ran to the car and got Little Potty and parked near his tree of choice. And then I begged and pleaded with his brother to leave him alone for 5 minutes so he could relax!

Well, Mr. Bear sat and sat and sat...just like Prudence from his favorite Potty Book. He looked around, he listened to the birds. He sat there for a loooong time. Then all of a sudden I heard him whistling to get my attention. Let me tell you, a whistling Bear on his potty is quite the scene, but I kept my composure and "closed my eyes" as he requested so I could see the SURPRISE he made for me. OMG!! It was a full potty, let's just leave it at that!

He insisted on showing the surprise to Papa too!!! So he called my Dad over and had him close his eyes to reveal the BIG surprise!!!! Happy Father's Day Papa, LOL!!!!!

Being surrounded by nature helped and being left alone for more than 3 seconds without his brother pestering him was beneficial!! After that day The Bear is potty trained!!!! WOO HOO!!!!

I know this is the type of post that gives Mommy Bloggers a bad name, but I had to tell the tale of Luccio's Potty Plight because I am proud of him and he is proud of himself! As crazy as it sounds it is an achievement & milestone for both of us!! I have taught another human being how to pee and poop into a specified container!! No more diapers! Babyhood is over. Its sad, but FANTASTIC!!!!!!!!

In 20 years when he discovers this story I am sure he will be unhappy that I detailed it in cyberspace, but oh well!!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

He's Daddy

One day I was telling the boys something about staying out of the road unless a grown-up is with you. They said, "A grown up? What's that?" So I explained that it is a grown person who is responsible like Mama or Daddy. Vincenzo says, "Daddy's not a grown up! He's Daddy!" So I told the boys that yes he is Daddy but he is a grown up like Mama, not a kid like they are.
And they laughed and laughed!! And Luccio said, "Mama you are a silly goose! He's like us."

There is no doubt that Daddy is the fun parent. He plays games like "Daddy Doggie" and "Robot" and gives them rides on his back. He lets them wrestle him and win! He always has jokes to share and funny voices to tell stories with. He takes them sled riding down real hills and lets them drive their motorized car at the park. He gets less time with the kids than I do, but when he is with them its quality. He lives in the moment and in their world with them. They know it and they love it!!

Vincenzo said, "He is Daddy and I love him."

Happy Father's Day!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Backyard Beautification

At the beginning of Spring I started writing a To-Do list of household projects that need to get done. My goal was to have the outdoor work done by Summer. But, with 3 kids and Hubby picking up extra hours at work, it didn't look likely. Especially since I like to write the list but have Hubby actually do the projects. But, the more I looked at the list the more I realized I actually have many of the skills necessary to complete the projects on my own, so I decided to tackle one thing at a time. Hubby thought this was insane and asked if I knew how to do half of the stuff I was planning to accomplish. I was happy to tell him that yes, indeed I do. During my years of Campus Ministry I had opportunities to organize Service Weeks. That meant taking a group of college students and traveling to different places to help renovate urban communities. I was blessed to have The Franciscan Friars to work with and Br. Duffy was fantastic at putting together meaningful service projects. We would go to Catholic Worker Houses, homeless shelters, schools, etc. and scrub, paint, garden and whatever else needed to be done until the places we visited looked better than when we arrived. I figured why waste all those years of experience when my own yard so desperately needs a "beautification." Although it would have been nice to have a college group come over to do the work for us, LOL!!

Now that the Princess has been sleeping slightly better I have had a bit more energy and feel like I am less "foggy" and "post-partum-ish." So one day I put the kids down for their naps and picked up a paint brush and started. The first 2 days I re-stained our back stairs, lattice around the front porch and a picnic table. They look gorgeous, like new!! I felt so productive and energized that I couldn't wait to keep going.

The biggest thing I wanted fixed was our brick patio. The bricks had dulled so much I thought they looked more like dirt. I wanted to brighten the color and get them looking new again. When I told Hubby and my Dad the plan to stain the bricks they thought I had lost my mind. Both argued with me on separate occasions that it couldn't be done, wasn't a good idea, etc. Needless to say my Dad bought me a can of Brick Red stain and they both held their breath waiting to see what would happen. I am pleased to announce that the bricks are BEAUTIFUL!!
The color is so vibrant! It gave the yard a whole new look. And the painting of each brick was therapeutic. It took quite awhile. A few of the hours I painted while the kids napped and as I painted I pondered life. Then I painted while the kids sat inches away staring at me and pleading to help. I told them they couldn't step one toe onto the bricks because the paint was wet, so they literally stood with their toes up against the edge of the bricks. The Princess sat in her stroller and watched. And when she got fussy her big brothers took turns pushing her around the yard. Their turn taking didn't always go smoothly and I had to do a bit of directing, but I was able to complete the task and that felt pretty darn good!

Next, I moved on to painting the exterior of our back porch. It was an addition to the house put on before we lived here. The wood was never painted so it doesn't match the white of the rest of the house and it makes me crazy to look at it. Even worse is last year Hubby started the job of priming it for paint, but he only did 2 of the 3 sides. So looking at that one side still unpainted was awful!! The day I worked on that particular project, the Princess was not content in her stroller and I was determined to finish as much of it as I could. So I put her in a pack on my back and on we went. Working with my daughter was a wonderful experience!! She loves being carried in the pack so she nestled right in. And on my back she doesn't feel as heavy so I am able to carry her for a long time without it interfering with painting or hurting all of my muscles! I was able to finish painting the 2 primed sides and then I primed the 3rd side. But, it has rained a lot since so I will hopefully do the rest tomorrow. I have heard a good weather report and I am really looking forward to finishing that up so I can check it off the list, LOL!!

In the meantime I have been working on trimming gardens and Hubby has started to mulch, which always helps things look refreshed! I even had Stregga helping out, give that woman a hedge clipper and some time and she means business!! The back yard trees and bushes have never looked better!

So, its small steps, but its getting there. Still lots to do, but each little step is making a big difference!! And I feel renewed as well!!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Plan P

I had one of those days where I looked around and thought, "OMG, is this seriously my life right now??" It was sparked when Luccio decided last night to be done with diapers and wear Big Boy underwear. All fine and dandy except for the small fact that he is completely un-potty trained and hasn't had a dry diaper in his life! With that said, I jumped at the opportunity to have him start to train and put the underwear on and sent him to bed for the night, Oh boy! It went ok. He slept all night and woke up in a puddle of pee. But, he seemed unfazed and even changed his own sheet. I was impressed. 5 pairs of underwear and 2 sets of sheets later... Let's just say it was a long morning!
At one point he realized he had to poop. He knew he shouldn't go in his underwear and he wasn't going to be given a pull-up so a fiasco ensued. He was sitting on the toilet screaming and crying and wanting me to help him. I tried reasoning with him and rubbing his back to no avail. The baby was screaming her head off needing to be fed and angry to be left out of the excitement happening in the bathroom. And Cenzo was beside himself because his brother was getting so much attention, so he decided he needed the potty immediately!!! So Luccio screamed louder, Isabella continued crying and Cenzo started in on the yelling raising his voice over the commotion and trying to pry his brother off the toilet.
I thought for a moment that crying myself would be a good option, but I was honestly afraid once I started I might not be able to stop. So I came up with Plan B or Plan P(oop).

I thought of what my mother-in-law has said about "finding the right currency." Apparently, according to Dr. Phil you just have to find the right motivation for the kid and then the pooping on the potty follows. So, I showed Luccio a GIANT lollipop that I had gotten over the weekend at a toy store in NYC! I told him it was a "Poop Pop" and that if he could be brave and make poop happen in the potty he could have it. Then, I decided to go out to the car to get the portable little potty and bring it into the bathroom. Luccio liked that one and and Cenzo was happy to get the "big" toilet. I put Isabella in her carseat and set her in the bathroom doorway with a toy and a pacifier. I sat on a stool in between the potties and read books to the poopers. Thank God for Prudence!! She is the star of the Once Upon A Potty Book. And let me tell you she is one determined little girl. So the boys love hearing about how Prudence sat and sat and sat...until finally...she pooped!! Luccio had me reading that story again and again. And then finally...he pooped!!! OMG!!! Such excitement. Cenzo was congratulating him and then we made a big ceremony of flushing the poop. After hand were washed and he was dressed he wanted his Poop Pop. Cenzo got one too for being such an amazing and supportive brother! Both boys were surprised that the pops "don't taste like poop, only pee." Ughh!! I had to explain that they are not actually poop flavored they are regular lollipops to celebrate the poop milestone. Yeah, whatever Mama.

Several phone calls were made with the big announcement to all of the grandparents and Daddy. Luccio was very unhappy that we reached all voice mails and no one was talking back. Luckily, Stregga happened to have seen the message on her cell and called back within a few minutes. He invited her to his Poop Party!! He doesn't forget a thing. I had told him back in the early spring that if he pooped on the potty he could have a party. And so he held me to my word. Stregga and Aunt Grace showed up with cupcakes and presents!! He got 25 pairs of new underwear and a water squirter. Does it get better???

I have no idea how tomorrow will go and frankly I am nervous about just how many pairs of underwear I may have to wash (or throw away.) And we are venturing out to meet friends at the park which could turn into a total nightmare situation. But, I have to think could it get any crazier than spending 2 hours of my morning sitting in the tiniest bathroom in the world with all 3 of my children crammed in reading books?? I have never in my life wanted a house with 5 bathrooms and a maid to clean them more than I did today!! But, I made it through, the kids made it through. And the bathroom seemed to have survived. Although with 2 toddler boys using it I had to spray it down with some heavy duty cleaners at the end of the day. But, it's all good. And the fun part is I get to do it all again tomorrow...and the next day...

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Way We Were

My babies, I mean Big Boys, "graduated" from the 3 year old program at their preschool this week. It was a much anticipated event for them and for me! We talked about it for days. They were practicing songs and getting ready to say goodbye to their friends for the summer. They were excited and I was a bit sad. Mainly I was sad to say goodbye to my new Mom Friends and my free time twice a week!! I kept thinking, OMG what are we going to do all summer??? But, when we got to school that last morning and the Show began, it hit me. I realized these were not the same toddlers I dropped off for the first day in September. As I watched the slide show the teachers had put together it was very obvious just how much they have changed this year, both physically and emotionally. They are taller, their faces are thinner, their hands and feet are bigger and they are much more coordinated. The physical aspects of change really stood out in the progression of pictures throughout the year. The emotional changes were a bit less obvious but there all the same. The pictures showed happy, smiling boys!! It brought tears to my eyes! They LOVED school this year and poured every ounce of their energy into being a part of the class. The teachers were FANTASTIC!! They are loving and nurturing women who have gently guided the boys and their classmates through the year and they have provided a safe, loving and fun environment to learn.. It was a wonderful introduction to school life. I cannot say enough how thankful we are and how blessed we feel to have our boys at this school!! And as an added bonus I have found wonderful Mommy Friends. I have met so many nice people and out of that group I have found friendship and support as I have adjusted to tlife with 3 little ones!

During the slide show, I also started thinking about how much life has changed for us as a family this year. On the first day of school the teacher had taken a picture of me with each of the boys and I was 8 months pregnant! And here we are at the end of the school year and Isabella is just about to turn 8 months old!! Becoming big brothers has forever changed Vincenzo and Luccio. In the long run, hopefully for the better. Becoming a family of 5 has meant a major overhaul of the roles and responsibilities of everyone in our house. Schedules and routines have had to shift, we have had to make room for another person and all of her Princess gear which has meant rearranging the limited space we have to work with. Immediate response to their every need is no longer as feasible and must be balanced with the needs of the baby. Very often the scale has tipped unfairly leaving the boys with less one on one time with Mama.

Through it all they have handled themselves so well. They take pride in their role as Big Brothers. They are attentive to Isabella and her needs, constantly making me aware of her feelings whether they think she is hungry, needs a pacifier, wants a toy or is bored. They are generous with hugs and kisses and attention. And of course find great joy in entertaining her as she is by far their best audience (besides the grandparents.) They always tell me how happy they are that we have had this "beautiful baby" and that they want to "keep her forever." Even in their most impatient moments they never take out aggression towards her.

That is not to say we didn't have adjustments. They certainly felt the crunch for space and attention and the shifts of change affected their temperament and attitudes towards me and daily tasks. On more than one occasion I have heard that I am "not nice" or that they don't love me anymore.

However, my boys are growing up and taking on more independence. Simple things like putting on their own shoes and helping one another with small tasks has made life much easier for all of us. I want them to feel not only that they are a part of our family, but they ARE the family. Each and every member of our household is important and loved and has an impact on one another and the people we will each become. As siblings they will forever be connected in one way or another.This graduation was one small step of many to come in the future. Even though it was the end of this year, it is truly only the next beginning for us. I am excited to see what the next chapter holds...

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Art of Compliments- Lesson #1

We were driving to the beach the other day and from the back seat Luccio said, "I love you Mama." and I thought "awwww, what a sweet boy." But, before I could respond out loud, I heard him say, "I love you Big, Giant Mama."

It took me a little off guard to say the least! My mom and I couldn't stop laughing!! Even though it really was NOT funny! Especially since I had opted to wear shorts and a t-shirt to the beach because I felt too big for a bathing suit because of my "post-partum" weight. (Just a side note- I will probably use the pregnancy weight gain as an excuse until the kids are in college.)

Usually when Luccio tells me, "I love you Mama," he will get a very loving reaction of "awwww, you are my sweet little man and I love you soooo much!" But, when you add the words BIG and GIANT its not quite as endearing.

I think he must have realized it didn't have the effect he hoped for because today on the way to school he said, "I love you little, tiny Mama."

Such a smart boy!!!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Food for Thought

I never thought I would find myself saying this, but I have found a new hobby... making pureed baby foods. I hear myself and I think- my God woman who are you??? Times have sure changed!! Last month Isabella started eating solid foods and that has brought to my mind a whole new level of love. I think because I have been able to exclusively nurse her up until this point, I felt resistant to giving her other food. I like the idea that I have been able to sustain her life from conception to now as her sole source of nutrition, energy and life. Its an amazing experience, one that I will forever treasure. But, I have come to terms with the fact that food needs to be started and so I have decided to make homemade foods for her. It gives me the connection that I crave of being able to help sustain her life with healthy, nutritious goodness. With each fruit and vegetable I puree I think of how much I love her and want the best for her. Choosing the types of fruits and veggies and hand selecting each one gives me the opportunity to mother her in a new way. I am overjoyed at the beautiful colors that each puree makes. Its unbelievable the difference between the homemade foods and the commercial jarred foods. I never used to think nursing and making food for my baby would be so important to me. With the boys it didn't occur to me that there was an alternative to jarred food, it just seemed so simple. And honestly I was in such a fog of going from one diaper change to the next that if someone had even suggested making baby food to me I would have thought they had lost their mind! But this time around I have a different perspective. I know how fast the time goes so I am treasuring these moments in a different way.

I am enjoying selecting new foods for her to try and the puree process only takes a few minutes if I am making the food fresh. Other times I set aside an hour and make a month's worth at a time.

So far the Princess has tried: apples, pears, bananas, sweet potatoes, white potatoes, mango, yellow squash, watermelon, and avocados.

The avocado is by far her favorite. She loves it!! She gets so excited when she takes that first bite of a meal and realizes its her avocados, I swear she sighs with relief, LOL!! She likes the sweet potatoes too and will eat just about anything else if its mixed with avocados. I find that she actually sleeps better on the nights that she has had avocado for dinner. Not sure if there is some scientific reason why, but as long as it gets us all some extra sleep so be it!

There is a natural foods store nearby so I have made a few trips there to find the organic fruits and veggies that I want to try feeding her. I have also found great organic selections at Stop & Shop and it usually costs a bit less. Then I clean, peel, chop, steam and/or boil and start the food processor.

I have been fortunate to have a couple of friends who are also into making purees for their babies. They have shared their recipes and resources with me. My friend, Sarah, suggested a great book, "Super Baby Foods." It has helped so much, fantastic information about what foods to try at each stage. Also, lots of recipes and facts regarding making and storing different foods.

So, bottom line is this- I may not be the world's best cook. In fact, I only have a few dishes I make really well. But, I can make a darn good puree! There is something satisfying in that! At the end of the day I fall short on so many goals and tasks, but when I look at my healthy, 20 pound baby girl, I think "well, I've done something right." I try to enjoy that feeling while it lasts because I know that she will talk soon and like her brothers she will point out every one of my faults, talk back non-stop and demand a personalized menu. But, for now I relish her unconditional love and the enjoyment she has for pureed food, LOL!!!