Thursday, April 28, 2011

My life as a Mom

I thought it might be a good moment to include a little "Mom Update" on my blog. Every stage of a child's life creates a new bit of drama. I often remark, and hear others remark, that just when you figure it out, it will be time for things to change.

Preach it.

My boys are now both well into their 2's. In fact, Isaac will leave the 2's next month and celebrate his 3rd birthday.

So what is life like in our house currently? How have things changed or remained the same during the nine months that we have resided in Turkey. Read on for more than you probably wanted to know:

Both boys still take a nap EVERY afternoon. These naps usually go from about 1pm-3pm. Elijah still sleeps longer than Isaac. (I sometimes have to wake him around 4pm). Elijah naps in the crib in the nursery. (We plan to transition him when we return from Spain.) The reason for the separation is that they play too darned long at naptime if they are in the room together. Isaac has been fighting his nap recently and will sometimes not nap. I imagine this is an age thing, but I plan to have him in his room for at least 90 minutes every afternoon whether he sleeps or not.

The boys go to bed around 7:30pm every evening. Elijah wakes up around 6am. Sometimes Isaac gets up with him but often he will stay asleep for another hour or so. I am interested to see how sleep goes with our third baby. I truly feel like we got good advice and did things "right" in the sleep department. Our boys started sleeping through the night at 8 and 10 weeks and have basically slept through the night ever since, barring an illness or something unusual. I feel like 2 for 2 is good, but I'll really feel that we "did it right" if we go 3 for 3 in the sleep department. I know every child is different and so I will do my best and pray it goes the same way again.

We now have two toilet-trained little boys. This is an amazing (and surprising) answer to prayer. Isaac is 100% perfect with #1. Elijah is usually perfect but can, on what is a rare occasion now, get distracted. Elijah is perfect with #2. Isaac is still doing #2 in his diaper at naptime. Both boys are still sleeping in a diaper at nap and bedtime. We don't plan to work on this right now. (We'll probably approach it after the baby is born, especially with Isaac.) We are very happy with how well they have toilet-trained. Especially Elijah who is considerably younger (in toilet training months) than big brother.

Mealtime has stayed fairly consistent in our house. Breakfast is very casual. The boys can choose what they would like to eat for breakfast. In fact, often times breakfast is eaten as they play. Isaac often chooses cereal or yogurt. His favorite cereals are Raisin Bran, Oatmeal Squares (or anything that looks like an Oatmeal Square), and Cheerios. Elijah usually chooses multiple bananas (he can eat as many as three if I let him -- and, no, they don't stop him up), yogurt, toast, or a waffle. Lunch is eaten more formally. I usually serve some sort of main dish (PB&J, grilled cheese, leftovers, chicken, pasta etc.) with a sampling of fruit on the side or some raisins. Dinner is a meal we eat as a family (if it all times correctly.) Elijah eats whatever we serve. Isaac is much more picky. We try to serve them a bit of whatever we are eating and then supplement with fruits and vegetables. Both boys love fruit but Isaac especially is very content with just fruit for his meal. About 50% of the time, Isaac cries when dinner is served. He doesn't want to eat. He is given the choice of sitting with us (even if he doesn't eat) or sitting in time-out until he is done crying. 95% of the time, after a few visits to time-out, he returns to the table and begins eating. It's crazy! We have no idea why he does this.

Our biggest discipline issues have now become:
(1) Talking Back -- Both boys have begun talking back with fairly good regularity. Isaac, however, has become old enough to recognize what talking back is. He will do it himself and then say, "I talked back to you." Or, when Elijah does it, Isaac will say, "He is talking back." JB and I have come together as a team on this and firmly believe that they must tire on this challenge before we do. So talking back is an immediate time-out every single time. Elijah has started screaming his talking back which can result in a spanking instead of a time-out depending on the severity. Both boys are aware that what they are doing is wrong, and while the behavior persists, they know they are in trouble as soon as they do it.
(2) Fighting with each other -- Fighting usually involves Isaac doing something to "provoke" Elijah and Elijah erupting with a swat to Isaac's head if he can. Another typical fighting episode involves Elijah taking something or grabbing something from Isaac and Isaac screaming in return. (Isaac very rarely, if EVER, responds with violence.) They will also want to wrestle or play with each other and then someone pushes it too far and someone else gets upset. For the most part, the fighting is verbal and not physical. And if it does get physical, right now, it is slight.
(3) Not listening when given instructions. When told to "come here" or "pick that up" we can be ignored or told "No" with regularity. This is often done by Elijah more than Isaac. We usually present the instruction one more time with a statement of what consequence will follow. I suppose this isn't much different than counting to 3, but I have, so far, refused to count to 3. I'm just not a fan. (Although, like I said, I think what I am doing is just a variation.)

Both boys are really good when we are away from home. I am blessed to not have "runners" as with two kids, a runner could be devastating for me! They stay close to me and hold my hand when crossing the street and generally listen well. We use the stroller some when we are out, but we also will allow them to walk themselves, especially when we are off-Base. (Roads and sidewalks in Turkey and doorways for that matter are not stroller-friendly.) We sometimes run into bad behavior when out, and this can be hard to deal with. We can threaten to take Elijah's blue hat or give a knee or shoulder squeeze, but in kids that don't understand long-term consequences, punishments away from the house are not easy to come by.

Both boys love playing with cars. Elijah wants to set up his Thomas trains nearly every day. They love to play outside on their bikes. (Isaac has started pedaling a bit, but Elijah still pushes with his feet.) They love to go over to the neighbor's house and jump on the trampoline. They enjoy climbing (at the park or on old ruins.) They both love to watch videos. Their favorite TV show is Mickey Mouse Clubhouse but they also enjoy watching movies. The Goofy Movie and How to Train Your Dragon are currently favorites. Eiljah loves to eat. Isaac enjoys self-play more than Elijah. Elijah likes to get wet playing in his water table outside. Isaac does not, but he does enjoy taking off his shoes and making foot prints. They enjoy the dirt and our sandbox. They always enjoy going to a park or going to see Daddy. When asked who their best friend is, they will often list each other or one of the grandparents. Elijah will list his friend William.

Scrubs remains a constant presence in our home. He likes the boys and gives them licks whenever they give him a hug, but we haven't noticed his tail start thumping when they come near like it does when JB or myself or Veronica approach. Elijah has started calling him "Scrubsy" which is so stinkin' cute. And Isaac likes to say, "I give Scrubby big hugs. I give him nice pets." We have to remind them to be gentle and not throw things or hit Scrubs, but they are usually very good with him. They also love to help feed him or give him water.

The boys have their favorite people. They love Linda and Shane. They also love Stebs and William. Both boys enjoy Angelica, but Elijah especially seems to have a special relatinoship with her. If I leave the boys with Veronica, they do not blink an eye. Isaac continues to choose JB over me on most occasions, but Elijah now chooses us evenly (instead of leaning toward me.) When either boy gets hurt, they seem to run to me over Daddy first.

Both boys are talking like crazy. Isaac's vocabularly is basically without limit at this point, and while his voice is soft, if you listen, you will understand him. Elijah is not as easy. He grunts and can be more difficult to understand. I used to think that Isaac could always understand Elijah, but then, just tonight, I heard Isaac said, "Elijah, I don't understand what are you saying!" :) I can usually ascertain what Elijah is saying, but he may have to show me or direct me -- at least until I have that certain word in my "Elijah vocabularly." Elijah says things that are so funny due to his lack of perfection in talking. "That's a good idewa (idea)" is one of them. He says "hip-up" for hiccup. That sort of thing. I love the way he talks and don't wan to rush perfection into the picture.

As a mother, my main challenges are keeping them occupied and busy with activities throughout the day without them tearing down the house or each other. They need to change activities quickly, and since there are two of them, and they aren't often doing the same activity, this can get tough. For instance, say Elijah is doing play-dough and Isaac is playing with his cars. Fifteen minutes later Elijah is done with his play-dough and Isaac is asking to get his coloring out while Elijah wants to read books. I am getting them to help clean up, but I am also presented with trying to clean up, start up, and move on all at the same time. Of course, in an ideal world, I'd have them do the same things at the same time, and somedays, that does work out. But not always. They are opinionated about what they want to do and when they want to do it. I have started using rewards (Raisinettes are the current passion) to encourage help cleaning up before we move on to a new activity. I think most of my "stress" is just the fact that there are two of them (and three when Scrubs is feeling especially spunky) and one of me, and I feel so exhausted by nap-time from maneuvering through bathroom breaks, snacks, lunch, activities, etc.

So, that's about all I got right now. Questions anyone? Is there anything I didn't cover?


Dana Taylor said...

Do you have any tips for how you got them to sleep through the night so consistently?

Wendi Kitsteiner said...

Dana, I'd be happy to! Stay tuned!

Momma, PhD said...

I have a couple of questions-

How did you decide to start potty training and what was your approach? (Our daughter is 16 months old and I'm wondering when I should start thinking about it).

Do you have a double stroller? If so, which one? Would you recommend it?


A Family Affair said...

My parents always counted but they went backwards, 3...2...1... there was a finality to counting backwards because nothing came after 1. I later asked my parents what the punishment was going to be if the got to 1 and there wasn't a correction/behavior change etc and they admitted that they never had a punishment in mind because they never got past 1.

Wendi Kitsteiner said...

Great questions! Comments. Tune in next week for all your answers! :)

Faith said...

I love it...and yet it terrifies me:). All that sounds so fun and SO exhausting! I know I am in for it when my 2 hit that age! I would love, love, love to hear about how you got your babies to sleep through the night that soon! Addison still gets up once and I thought that was a success, lol! Please do tell and quickly!!!:)

As for your commenter asking about the double stroller, can I give a plug for ours? It's the Bumbleride indie Twin and it is SOOOO nice. Esp with a newborn because it has a car seat adaptor that comes standard, so we didn't have to worry about that. It as lots of nice perks. It is a side by side, so of course it may not work for you with the small doorways in Turkey, but there are VERY few doorways here that this stroller can't get through...

Looking forward to your sleep advice...