When I decided it was time to start potty training, the kids were two weeks shy of their second birthday. I was tired of changing diapers. I was tired of paying for diapers. I wanted to be free. So I made a plan. We got up one day at the crack of dawn. Actually, it hadn't even cracked yet. It was pitch black outside. I wanted to make sure everyone's pants were still dry. I knew each and every one of them possessed the capacity to stay dry all night. They’d each done it, just not consistently or all four at the same time. After a long night, they’d hang out during those early morning hours (and on into the Sesame Street hour) when I was too tired to drag my exhausted body out of bed and tend to them right away, and their status from dry-all-night converted to oops-I-need-a-diaper-change. So to avoid any accidents, about three hours before Big Bird even woke up, that fateful morning I dragged out of their miniature beds four sleep-confused toddlers, marched them into the kitchen, told them to down about three gallons each of apple juice, then led them into the bathroom. We had four potty chairs. We had books. We had sippy cups. We had a jar filled to the brim with M&Ms. We were set.
There were times when I went a little nuts on projects when the kids were young and I couldn’t really blame the mania on a pill, like when I started their string quartet. I guess I was just a bit too closeted up and when I got an idea, it spewed out like water from a hydrant. One such occasion was for their third birthday. At the time, they were into Sesame Street, like teenage girl groupies had been into the Beatles in the ’60s. My kids couldn’t get enough of Sesame Street. Or at least that was the premise under which I functioned when I planned their third birthday party.
Yesterday was a sad day. Sometimes I just have those. I know a lot of people do. When I get one, I can’t always pinpoint the trigger, but if I can that’s helpful because I can put it in context and process it. If I can’t figure it out though, like if I can just feel sadness in my blood as a chemical that for some unknown reason decides to course through my system on a given day, I just have to weather it. I used to focus on it more and it got a better hold of me. Now I try things to cope with the sadness.
Molly was our first baby to come home. Statistically, premie girls do better than boys. And she fell in line with the data. In the hospital, she was the first of the four to get off CPAP and oxygen (though she couldn’t stay off oxygen until she was about three months old) and the first to start feedings. She did best at breastfeeding and continued to nurse for nine months. She was a champ and an easy baby.
Charlie, Spencer, Pierce—watching the balloons. Wearing their colors.
Nearly every year for a stretch there, we got up in the dark on Labor Day, dragged the kids out of bed, and headed for Memorial Park to watch the hot air balloon launch. It became one of our family traditions, plus it was a great free family fun idea. Besides the balloon launch, we also went to the Night Glow, a really cool event that is also Labor Day Weekend, where the balloons park downtown on a city street at night, and when it gets dark, they all blow their flames and light up the night. It’s like a hundred fire breathing dragons suddenly exhale hot, bright, fuel-scented roaring fire at the same moment. And it’s pretty too.
Yesterday a new friend asked me how I ever showered with four little ones around. It got me to thinking how rare and cherished a shower was. If I could work one in, it took meticulous planning and serendipitous aligning of the planets.
Pierce was an easy child to neglect. Only because he was such a content baby, a low key toddler, and a low maintenance kid. He slept most of the time in his first weeks, so I didn’t get much time with him to “bond” where we’d have eye contact and interactions that normally help a mom get to know her baby. And once he was home from the hospital, the squeaky wheels got the attention, and he just never squeaked.
We’ve all had those days when we’ve gotten too close to that proverbial edge of going absolutely certifiable bonkers. They come more frequently, I think, when you’re parenting young children. Universally, every single toddler and preschooler has some innate ability to make grown,
A few days after "that day" with Aunt Colleen
As a nurse, I’ve been in a lot of crisis situations, dealing with emergencies as just a part of my job. I’ve worked in the Emergency Room, the Operating Room, the Delivery Room, and the ICU. Seeing messed up things and doing what was needed to help fix them was what I did.
One of the most valuable gifts a parent can give to a child is the gift of reading. Of course, in time not all kids are going to become “readers.” It’s a bit of a personal preference and you can’t make a child love reading. But by reading to them regularly when they are young, you can build a foundation that will help them be better thinkers, do better in school, have a wider knowledge base, and perhaps even discover the love of reading for themselves. Plus you'll get to go on amazing adventures together (and avoid a lot of television time!).
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