Sunday, September 29, 2013

SOTU: Erison

TWOFOR! 
The Eric and Ali update is going to be short and sweet. And while I should do one for Eric and then one for me (he is younger than I am), we have the same birthday and are already used to sharing things. So yeah, here's a breakdown of life for us these days:

Work. Shower. Wrangle. Dishes. Laundry. Nap. Work. Shower. Wrangle. Dishes. Laundry. Nap. (rinse and repeat).

And by work, I mean the 40 hours we are both paid for, then the extra 10 hours we put in after hours and sometimes even 15.

And by shower, I mean run under the shower head for just enough time to lather up the pits and behind the ears. (Everyone knows by minute 7 one of the children is banging on the shower door either crying, asking for you to help with something, or demanding you write all sorts of letters in the soap scum covering the glass door.) And let's be honest, washing your hair every day is drying. And it just means I have to clean out the drain, so I tend to stick to the shower cap every 1 out of every 3 showers. And Eric? Well, he just doesn't have hair:


And by wrangle...I mean...I have 3 boys 5 and under. Game, point, match.
And by  dishes and laundry, I mean the NEVER ENDING PILE OF CLOTHING AND MOUNTAINS OF DISHES that plagues our house. I've tried closing my eyes, clicking my heels, and putting a note under my pillow for the laundry fairy to come and help. I'm starting to wonder if I said something to upset her. (And yes, I know I am assuming that secret household help would be completed by a female creature. If you ask Miles, the male version of a fairy is a leprechaun and we all know the only thing they are good for is bouncing off of marshmallows.)

And by nap, I mean somebody in this house is always up at night, so it's like we sleep in 3 hour chunks most of the time. Potty. Blankets falling off. Pacifiers falling out. Monsters. Nursing.

Even though Eric and I see each other every day, sometimes I'm not sure I've actually looked at his face. And the addendum to this week's family meeting is for me to work on looking at him square in the face and mindfully either greet him or say good-bye. Shouting from the other room when he gets home from practice, "IT'S YOUR TURN TO FINISH THIS BATH! I NEED A BREAK! FELIX MISSED THE POTTY AND PEED ON THE WALL. I AM TIRED OF THIS HOUSE SMELLING LIKE A URINAL. SO DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. I'M DONE." Isn't what I'd call lovey dovey.

I did look straight at Eric yesterday and gasp. His follicles must have gone on a binge, because his face is HAIRY. I know it appears every year during XC season (he doesn't shave until after the state meet), but it went all Chia pet on me. It went from sexy stubble...
Anyone else in the mood for THIGH MEAT!?!?
...to full on mountain man in a matter of what seemed like hours.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. That's totally not a picture of Eric's beard. It's Gus's lashes. I can't help it. All my boys have exceptional hair and lashes, and I'd rather look at lashes than a bristly beard. And truthfully? This post is a real snoozer. I needed a little pick me up just writing it! #ohmygusness. (For other cute boys, check out the IG feed on the right side of the screen.)

And if you are truly interested in Eric's facial development, you can follow his annual beard on Twitter. #imnotjoking

It's like as fast as the hair falls off of my head, it grows on Eric's face.

Actually, my alopecia has subsided a bit in exchange for teenage skin. What up post-partum hormones? And even though I'm so glad I am not that same self conscious teenager spending hours plucking her eyebrows, I'm still terribly self conscious about zits. The only good thing about zits is that you add an extra "i" and you get ziti. And everyone loves ziti.

So, at times I hide the blemishes with camo toddler sized sunglasses. (Or, I may have just forgotten my own sunglasses at home). I've lost all semblances of self respect. Who has time for it?

Toddler sunglasses? Check. Minivan? Check.
Fall is the time for beard growth, pumpkin [insert something edible], and crisp mornings when Eric leaves the house for the entire day at 4:50am to go to XC meets, which means that I institute family snuggle and PBS-a-thon every Saturday morning in my bed.
Thankfully, the reverse camera selfie on the iPhone has such poor quality that you can't make out my gray roots. But you may also think that Gus has a lobster hand. No...that's his foot. Brother is nibbling on all his digits and extremities. So bottom teeth? I'd really appreciate you making your entrance.

Other highlights:
  • Eric qualified for the Boston Marathon again during a 1am marathon in TN. It wasn't a pleasant experience at all, but he did the job. 
  • Eric also declined his acceptance at Mercer for a PhD program and is currently seeking out another PhD program at Vanderbilt. Basically, he wants to try and catch up to me in school debt, which is a lofty goal because while he owes nothing for his graduate education, I owe Emory lots and lots of dollah dollah bills. 
  • Eric is working hard and I think after 10 years of teaching can give himself a promotion of teacher to educator, but this next step is about getting the big promotion to pedagogical specialist (nothing like education humor). Honestly, he's really one of those kinda guys who wants to accelerate his contributions to the landscape of education and perhaps transition into more leadership roles.
  • I did not qualify for the Boston Marathon. I didn't even try. I just try to remember what it was like to run consistently by changing into running shorts and sports bras when I get home from work every day.
  •  I am not seeking another advanced degree. And I am also not seeking out any sort of promotion. I'm just trying to breathe after every work day as it seems like the company I work for is operating leaner with higher expectations. Not going to lie...it's hard to walk in every day.
  • My one accomplishment has been finally hitting my pre-pregnancy weight. It was a little before 4 months, and honestly right about the time I stopped thinking about it. Notice the daily grind I mentioned above that Eric and I maintain didn't include "eat." Huh. If that isn't telling about how some days go for this Mom and Dad. And really, eat should be replaced with inhale. Much like the shower experience, someone is always interrupting the flow of your hand actually meeting your mouth with sustenance, so you better shove whatever food you have in your mouth while you can. And luckily, we are still going strong with nursing, so I feel like it's my daily exercise (#lieswetellourselves) and explanation why the weight came off finally. Sure, it took a little longer this time, but 4 months isn't too shabby. But let's be clear: pre-pregnancy weight is not the same as pre-pregnancy body. When you've had 3 pregnancies, nothing goes back the same. I'm not complaining...but I am also not giving up my last item of maternity clothing:
These skinny pants are like my favorite pairs of pants of all time. (You likey the top? $4 J.Crew steal at Goodwill. BOOYA!)

The pants remind me of how much I miss being pregnant...

...ah! Who am I kidding? I don't miss being pregnant.

I miss sleep.
And running every day.
And self respect.
And Eric's stubble.
And my babies every.single.day I'm at work.

Now...off to that nap...

Friday, September 27, 2013

SOTU: Miles Linus

SOTU: Miles Linus

This year marks the start of a new PreK program for Miles. He is going full day at an Episcopal private school (what up JV Catholic!) to the tune of more money than I think I earned when I graduated from college (slight exaggeration...but these Anglicans don't come cheap!). While Eric and I are proud products of wonderful public education, and while I hope that our children take advantage of the solid public schools in this area, I can say without a doubt that enrolling Miles in this school has been one of the best decisions.

The school is wonderfully supportive, nurturing, and developmentally on point with what I feel like a preK should be about. There isn't an enormous urge to get kids writing and we weren't sold on 4-5 year olds deconstructing sentence structure (yes, one of our contenders was a school where I observed 4 year olds being able to identify where commas should be in sentences) as much as getting kids exposed to multi-sensory experiences and PLAY! (Of note, my boss has two older boys and she mentioned to me that she rolled her eyes when her son said his favorite part of school was "recess." In my mind I thought--well, smart kid; it should be! Exercise, opportunities to explore peer groups, creativity, etc. In my mind, we need fewer iPads and focus on handwriting for these littles, and more opportunities to learn through play.) 

And while days are long (7:45-4/5pm), not once has he expressed a lack of interest in going. He comes home and tells us the most amazing stories and has made a few cute "boyfriends," which if you are a painfully shy boy like Miles, isn't the easiest thing to boast. He has taken a liking for chapel and religion classes, and we have a YouTube stream full of "be-ligion" stories. (Bee tee dubs, you can hear Felix in the background who lets us know that cacti are "poinky." It's his new favorite word. He used to be obsessed with the word "beef," now it is "poinky." Brother is making words up, just like his Mama! Apple doesn't fall far...)



(Poor kid. This was the 3rd time we made him tell the story. I had Eric secretly tape it because he wouldn't do when knowing he was being recorded. And at the end he is referring to the Fantasia 2000 when there is the Noah's Ark piece with Donal Duck and that Pomp and Circumstance from graduations).

Now, sometimes the story details are a little hazy. Like, did you know that Adam and Eve were in a desert and that amid the rocks, there is a PORTAL TO EARTH? Or how about that angels AND fairies climb Jacob's ladder? Oh, and he recently took a magazine and told me he could read it. Next thing I know, he is sort of blabbering about "genefith 2-1-0-4-3-5...genefith." It sounded like he was talking robot, or  reciting the secret code on Lost. And then it clicked...he was referring to Genesis and the bible passage numbers! He was reenacting the readings during his Chapel. So, yeah, he may not be really reading, writing well or give two licks about drawing, but I'm sure he's on the fast track to becoming a priest. Point is: he's loving school. And I'm loving that he's loving it.

And I'm also loving uniforms. Even if the uniform companies price gouge you with ridiculous fees for the required screen printing/embroidery...

I used to be anti uniform, and now I can't think of anything better.

Next up--getting my work to have uniforms: yoga pants and tank tops with cardigans. Hey, a girl can dream.
First day of school SELFIE!
We are still in speech, and luckily have the same teacher he had when we started at the end of his last school year. We, unfortunately, have to go to another elementary school to meet her, which is kind of a grind. The focus is getting him to say a "y" and not an "l" (eg, "yes" instead of "less"). It was right about 4.5 yrs that the speech idiosyncrasies stopped being "cute" and started making me realize that he really did need to work on them.

I'm going to come right out and say it, but Miles is better with Gus than Felix is. And he has been since day 1.
WHO IS BEHIND ME MOMMY!?!?
He can calm him down, he sings him songs, and he even tells me about all the developmental stages that he is going to tutor him in. 

Miles is exceptionally perceptive and has eagle eyes and ears. He still prefers more lower energy games and outdoor play (in comparison to Felix), but can get extra silly and loud when the spirit moves him.



And he's my kid who loves cuddling, massages, and pampering. We are all about the manicures and pedicures over here.

Generally, he still loves to tattle tale on Felix, but when they two of them "click" during play, I love watching them interact and create silly stories and adventures.

The way I see it at times, Miles is an old soul. He's caring, and sensitive. But he truly is a worrier/anxious kid. He doesn't like being alone. Like, never. Sometimes I wonder how such big thoughts and ideas can go through his head. (I also wonder how he can do math in his head...because I still can't)
We regularly have some sort of conversation about dying and heaven (religious school is probably helping this), and recently he asked me if when I die, will I still be his mother.

Just punch me in the stomach. I can't go there. I can't ever think about leaving these kids. It's too much for me right now.

So in the wise words of Miles (see video above), I said back to him, "I will never, ever, ever, never, ever, ever, never stop being your Mom."

This gig...it's eternal, kid.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

SOTU: Felix Josef

SOTU: Felix Josef

I'm not sure why Obama is considering costly airstrikes when I can just have Felix head over to Syria and force Al-Assad stop the atrocities via laughter and a good tickle fight. This kid can make anyone smile. But he can also cause his Mama to wave the white flag and scream "I surrender!"  

Felix is still bringing new life to being a three-nager AND a middle child. And he has the capacity to be on the move every waking minute. While he was my chunkiest baby, his metabolism went into high gear and the kid sports triceps and a 6 pack. Along with his well developed muscles, this child's imagination and thirst for adventure make me feel both incredibly lazy and also appreciative that I have a child who knows how to play with the best of them.
 
See that above? That was our pet "jingle-heimer" for quite a bit of time. Felix found him outside and needed to put him in our bug box. I examined him closely, and referred to our bug encyclopedia, and confirmed that in fact...it wasn't a bug at all. It was a piece of our holly tree. I didn't have the heart to tell him that he the proud owner of tree debris. According to Felix, he just had a case of Rip Van Winkle and was sleeping a lot. I'm not about lying to my kids, but this was just too precious not to go along with.


And this? It's "breast milk turkey soup" of course. Felix imagines all sorts of crazy things when he takes a bath with Gus. And thank goodness Gus is so Chalm, because he gets totally manhandled.


Oh, and this? Okay, this has nothing to do with imagination. Just Felix chewing his toenail off. It's classic Felix for you.
 
Felix is downright obsessed with "guys": good guys/bad guys, super heroes, Star Wars...etc. There used to be a part of me that wanted to shelter the boys from knowing about this kind of stuff. And while they have never seen the movies or cartoons, they still know about the characters from friends at school. And sometimes I really do enjoy seeing them pretend play with each other--even when they have a light saber constructed from electrical tape and a pool noodle. Listen, I had my Barbies. They can have their "guys."
Obi Wan Wasabi
But Felix. Oh, Felix. He takes dress up and pretend play to a new level. He is in some sort of costume 90% of the time he is at home.
Why yes. I need a chef hat, winter hat, old sushi costume head band and a medal around my neck to read bedtime stories...don't you?
And the thing is, he doesn't even dress up all the time to *play* dress up, but just needs to be in some sort of costume to be fully functioning. Many times we bargain about what element of his costume he can wear when we go out in public: 

As Miles dutifully sings the star spangled banner, Felix is singing the praises of King of Pops.
Best part is that sometimes he just piles the costumes on and becomes what I call the multiple personality super hero.
Know what goes well with a Super Hero cape? Undies and evening gloves

One time I had him come to the store with me in a cowboy vest, Hawaiin shirt, backward pirate pants, an eye patch, and a rainbow snow hat on. Oh, and two different boots, both of which were backward. A year ago, I would have been certain to tell everyone that he dressed himself and feel embarrassed. Today? I secretly think, "flaunt it, kid."
 
And one time, I thought Felix was taking a nap with Eric, and I walked into the dining area to find him sitting at the table...bumble bee antennae on, Band-Aid on the shoulder, helping himself to a kale smoothie (Eric was still asleep on his bedroom floor).
 
 
And don't let a costume's size determine it's worth. We are talking about an 18 mo old Hulk costume here, folks. (Yes, that's some sort of food refuse on his face. Most days it's like wrestling an oiled pig trying to track him down and clean his face. I prefer just to wait until bath time and do the once over each night.)

He challenges me to use my imagination to keep him busy and occupied. This week, we inherited several cubic yards of wood chips (google that shiznat. It's a LOT) in our driveway. I decided that a great idea to keep the boys occupied while I painstakingly shoveled load after load around, was to have them dig for gold doubloons. The night before, I had Eric hide 3 bags of gold dollar coins in the pile. The next day, I forced them to go to Starbucks with me (I needed some caffeine) and I told them that I heard Tinker Bell say there was pirate treasure in the wood chips. Tinker Bell is my go-to girl I blame everything on. So, Felix had to first get in a transformers costume, obvi, and then we all sat down to make pirate maps from old Trader Joe's paper grocery bags.

And then we dug through the steaming pile of wood chips and had a blast...until about 9:30am when I had to think of another idea.

Whereas Miles and Gus tend to be okay with more down time, Felix needs entertainment. Or he can get testes.

Oops. Sorry. Autocorrect.

Wait, there isn't autocorrect on a blog?

No, that was just my painfully terrible transition to start talking about the next SOTU with Felix: brothah has an inguinal hernia. And a hydrocele (basically fluid accumulation) in his groin area. And we are in the process of getting surgery. Well, we were supposed to get it last week, but he caught the cold going around our house. And colds + Felix almost always = fever. They don't do non-emergency surgery on kids with fevers over 101. So, we needed to reschedule.

But his surgeon broke his finger.

OF COURSE HE DID! I mean...of all things to delay. So, I told the surgery scheduler that I need the Dr to work with all 10 digits. That puts us at Oct 4.

And while I don't have testicles or a scrotum, every time this kid gets a bath or goes to the bathroom, I instinctively grab my own crotch and shudder at what it feels like to have fluid and your intestine poking into your genitals. 

So, yeah. Send out the bat signal for Felix on Oct 4.

While there are days that I truly wonder how to manage and cultivate calm in such an intense little guy, I am also so thankful and grateful that he is part of our family. He makes us all laugh and realize that we could all stand to use our imaginations more.

And maybe wear a cape.
 
 
 
 


Update...*Funny story, I submitted this photo of Felix to Mommy Shorts method power pose off...and he appeared in her listing! Ha! The story behind this picture is that I was cleaning the boys' room, and he was on the floor crying at me to pick him up. I was ignoring him while taking things out of the closet to fold. Next thing I know, he "tantrumed" himself to sleep right like that on the ground. I guess super heroes get tired, too.
 

Monday, September 23, 2013

State of the Union (SOTU): August

Each day this week I will provide a SOTU for a member of the family. I mean, how perfect that there are five days in a week, and then 2 extra for overage since I am pretty certain I won't be able to write all 5 SOTUs tonight and schedule them out all week.

If my lapses in posting reflect anything, it's the family unit's SOTU in general:
CRAY CRAY.
Why yes. I used that tired phrase. It's far easier to say than "crazy" and most days I'm lucky enough to get English out of my mouth, let alone commit to using more than two consonants in a word.

But amid the insanity, there is such deep rooted happiness and appreciation for a full life. And I have to thank *THIS GUY* in large part:


I mean...puh-LEAZE (I felt bad about "cray" so added a "Z" in here.)

SOTU: August Meyer
 
Over the course of my pregnancy, and even after having Gus, I heard stories and commentary about how 3 children is the hardest number to have. Apparently parenthood only works in even numbers. I've been told that God must "hate" me for having 3 boys. (Oh, to see that father again and knock him over the head with the comeback comments about sperm, chromosomes, and menstruation that have flooded my head since that afternoon.) And I confess--3 is HARD. 3 is TIRING. But it's downright amazing. (Shout out to this great post on third kids.) I was a third kid, and overall, am pretty darn happy that I'm here.
 
I remember once we had 2 kids, I kept thinking "how did I ever complain with just ONE!?!?" Two kids was just so much more difficult. I fell into that pit of wanting to say to every mom of one baby "oh, you have *NO* idea. Just wait until you have another." You know, like a good, annoying mother of a second child tends to do. No judgement...it's just a rite of passage I think many of us have taken.
 
But then over the course of time you adopt an invisible third hand (If Eric read this, some sort of naughty joke will be coursing through his brain), and you find yourself multitasking and doing impossible feats like nursing a baby while making your toddler homemade fruit roll ups, folding laundry, and finishing a work PowerPoint right after you put in a second load of whites and switch boobs.
 
Then #3 comes. And you would imagine that one would feel even more inclined to say to those with 1 or 2 kids: "oh, you have *NO* idea. You think 2 is hard? Ha!" But you know what? That thought rarely crosses my mind. Instead, I quite often feel a great sense of completeness with 3. Sometimes, I admit in full disclosure, I do want to say "you have *NO* idea," but the unsaid second half of the sentence is not that it's impossibly hard having 3, but that it's sometimes so much more rewarding than having 2...for our family. But then I remember--different strokes for different folks. Sure, it's substantially harder than having 2, but seeing how this particular baby has completed our family just overwhelms me with gratitude most days. Which is a blessing because admittedly, days can be long, hard, and emotionally taxing with 5 yo, 3 yo, infant, and full time job. Oh, and don't forget a marriage to tend to.

Case in point. Tonight at our Sunday Family Meeting, Eric's weekly "I love Gus because..." contribution was that he had kooky hair and didn't care. And Gus's reaction to us talking about his hair was hysterical. He was sort of shocked and tickled and just started being silly. The next thing you know, all five of us are laughing so hard that I'm pretty sure at least one of us will have to change underwear. It was 20 seconds of sheer joy. And those moments are ones when I realize, "yeah, this kid is meant to be here." (I also found it both cute and annoying that Miles kept asking us to repeat the phrase so that we could all laugh like we did the first time. He still hasn't come to grips with the idea of spontaneous laughter and how it's impossible to "recreate.")

If I had to sum up the SOTU: August Meyer in 1 word, it would be "Chalm." That's "chill" and "calm". And sort of sounds like a Trader Joe's frozen Indian dish.
 
By #3, a little of this (see below) doesn't FREAK THE YOU KNOW WHAT out of me as much as amuse me:
 

 
 
And generally, I'm a much calmer parent. Whether it's due to experience, exhaustion, or just a lack of time, I think it has made my appreciation for Gus all the more robust and dedicated.
 
Gus is doing great. Brother is certainly not hurting for calories. So let me say, don't let anyone tell you that chest size has any bearing on quality and quantity of milk production. Even with his penchant for making some Jackson Pollacks on his bib area (see above), he doesn't lose enough calories to avoid thunder thighs (nomnom) and cheeks where he is apparently squirreling away something yummy. He's a good nurser (yup, we are still up in the middle of the night), and takes to a bottle fine. He likes a good pacifier, but isn't showing signs of needing a 12-step program.  He's sweet. He's a flirt. He's generally a pretty quiet observer. He seems delightfully typical (ie, he wasn't premature, he doesn't have PT, his sleep is fair).
 



He melts my heart every morning when we get up together. He watches his brothers so intently and I know is going to want to follow in their foot steps (just don't pull the whole "I can't walk" bid-ness that your bro's do when they are clearly capable of walking, m'kay?)

He rolls from his back to his tummy, but isn't terribly advanced in the gross motor development. He just drinks breast milk. Lots and lots of it. But I think is getting interested in table food, so in the next month or so, we may set up a splash area and give him some avocado chunks and have him go at it.

Sleep. It happens. And that's all I'm going to comment on. He falls within the normal range of what breastfed babies do at this age. Have I thought of doing some more formal sleep training? Sure. But I am not there, yet.

By far he is my easiest baby.
By far, though, he has gotten the least amount of undivided attention of all 3 kids.
But by far, he has contributed to this family in ways that one cannot even begin to describe.

What I am loving the most is that he is developing into his own little person. Miles and Felix tend to be such polar opposites there was a part of me that was wondering if #3 would just get lost in the middle. And yes, part of me was hoping if we had a girl, that her sex would help differentiate her. But the truth is, Gus is so individual and lovely and delightful in his own ways. Personality doesn't exist on a bifurcated pole (Insert private joke for Eric--a stopped clock...you know the rest).

One area I have found truly interesting is how different each of my children have nursed. Miles was a comfort nurser who just lounged and lingered nursing for hours upon hours. Felix was like a breastfeeding mullet: business on the nipple, party at the feet. He nursed only until full, all the while kicking and partying with his legs, then popped off and was all "okay, what structure can I launch from?"

Gus tends to be more of a comfort nurser, but he also does so many of those mid-nursing smiles it's just to die for. He doesn't pop off, but I am also not doing the Pantley pull off method thinking I'm emotionally scarring my child when  he is acting as though I am withdrawing life support. He's pretty much nursed with me everywhere in public, but is also fine taking bottles. And the truth is, sometimes nursing Gus is the quietest time I get in my day. It's when I dream about our family's life and watch him gently stroke his own little hairline and eyes. And more than not, he grabs my two fingers and just holds them. You know, I get the same butterflies I did when Eric held my hand for the first time.

I recently read a passage from Kundeera's Life is Elsewhere, and if you can put any of your discomfort about breastfeeding aside (because I know one or two of you have cringed at me writing about breastfeeding), I think this truly sums up the experience I have with Gus:

“...a wave of sweet vibration thrilled deep inside and radiated to all parts of her body; it was similar to love, but it went beyond a lover's caress, it brought a great calm happiness, a great happy calm.”

and:

“She lovingly watched the fish like motions of the toothless mouth and she imagined that with her milk there flowed into her little son her deepest thoughts, concepts, and
dreams.”
 

Is it possible to be proud of a 5 month old for an intangible reason that just hits you so deep in the core that you feel like this child was so very much meant to be in your life?

I'm here to tell you that yes. Yes it's possible.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Positivity: Progress, not Perfect

"FAMILY MEETING TIME!!!!!!!!!"

That has echoed through our mansion delightfully cozy house more than a baker's dozen each week. It's an artifact of our family's new system:

POSITIVE DISCIPLINE

I was introduced to the "movement"...PAUSE--does anyone else's mind flash words like "bowels" and "colon" when you hear that word? It's like the word "moist." My hands get clamy and I feel discomfort like a nagging tag in my too small H&M boy brief undies. *shudder*

I was introduced to the "movement" last year when my mother and friend attended a Positive Discipline talk at Miles's old school in my stead while I was on bedrest. And then again when the instructor came to Felix's school to give the parents a lecture on the principles. Felix's childcare Director spent the summer being trained on becoming a facilitator as well.

So, like any good parent does, I purchased/borrowed any and every book I could on the darn thing. Call me Jane Nelson! News flash: my kids can be a handful. And by kids, I'm excluding Gus. He's pretty darn easy. And his current coping mechanism for the chaos is to revert back to a former stage when he was immersed in water. He is, I am convinced, part dolphin. Or maybe trying out for the part of Madison in the stage version of Splash-the musical (please, someone produce this?)

Miles and Felix, independently, are awesome. Motivated, kind, and generally manageable. But you put them in the same zip code, and it's TOXIC. It's like herding deaf cats. Bedtime with Felix is, apologies for the reference, a pure $hit show. Getting Miles to focus in the morning to get himself ready and NOT try to teach Gus to roll over or sing him some made up song is the most painstakingly slow process. Especially with a deadline of 7:30am. Put the two in a room together with toy cars, and I just hold my breath and place bets on who is coming to me first in tears tattling on the other for [insert 1 of 3 things: throwing toys, taking the other's toys, saying something the other one doesn't believe]. That last one drives me NUTS! "MOOOOOM! Felix says that I was the line leader for 1 day, but I am the line leader for a week!" "MOOOOM! Miles says I can't play with cars because I'm three." My standard response of "Well, do you believe him? If not, don't worry about it." Is getting stale and doesn't work. And that's when toys start to get thrown, stolen...and eventually I put them on LAYAWAY on the counter.

At night, we do "math races" as I bathe Gus and Eric does dishes. We give math questions, and the answer is the # of laps they run around the house. Brilliant, no? Except it amps them up to the point that Felix is dive bombing off of structures, and Miles is getting so silly, that next thing you know, Eric is running around looking like he is herding NAKED deaf cats. Many times, I come in as reinforcements and Gus hangs out on the floor or in the cosleeper dolphin clicking what is sure to be SOS to the closest foster agency.

Since early 2013, my patience has eroded. There is a little Cinderella complex happening in the house. When the clock strikes 6pm, Cinderella turns into a hormonal, short tempered ogre who has been known to say things like, "if you don't like the way Mommy and Daddy are doing it, maybe you should go find another Mommy or Daddy." Or, "I'M DONE WITH YOU TWO! If you don't settle down, I'm not cuddling with you before bed."

Who takes away cuddles? A prematurely graying ogre, that's who...

So at this point, you could tell me bribing with yogurt covered raisins to get the kids to brush their teeth works and I'd do it! Oh. Wait. I do do that.

So this PD stuff. Yeah. This post is not a tutorial about PD as I am still learning myself. It's about acknowledging that it's our family's new guiding strategy for more order and peace in the house. It's not perfectly intuitive, but it certainly makes sense. You can't expect kids to DO good when they don't FEEL good. So bribes, time outs, etc, may work short term, but long term it's about empowerment and not power. Giving limited choices. More hugs (we actually do quite a lot of them), and age appropriate discipline. It's taking away more punitive measures and trying to guide children to become their own problem solvers.

So far, we've seen some progress. And that's the goal: progress, not perfect.

One of the hallmarks of the movement for us is Family Meetings. Every Sunday night for the past few weeks, we have convened a Family Meeting. We usually start with Miles playing the triangle and him announcing "FAMILY MEETING TIME!" Then we start with everyone saying something nice about everyone else. Then we review our current challenges, and then go over the week ahead and try to plan something special. Felix is a little too young to really "get it" but Miles eats it up. It's totally fun, and we post the "minutes" in our eating area and review the previous week's as well.


As a family, we are starting to tackle what it means to be a fully functioning unit. We all need to join forces to get ourselves seamlessly operational. It takes time, effort, patience...

...and maybe a little ice cream.