Friday, February 27, 2009

Real World Re-entry

Danny and I are moving again among the land of the living. Huzzah! Yesterday he went to school (without incident), and I re-engaged with such mommy luxuries as walking on the Silver Comet Trail and meeting friends for lunch, plus a trip to Target. Today being a rainy day, he and I ventured to Kangazoom (along with Zach and Olivia), again without incident. He was warned that if anything "accidental" happened, we would have go to home, but fortunately it went well. We're not 100% there, as some neighbors witnessed yesterday afternoon - unfortunately, #2 seems to be a lingering barrier for us. But hey, we're still less than a week in, so I remain sanguine about it.

I think what may relieve me the most is how comfortable Danny has gotten with it. He initiates the visits now, and knows the routine. Most of the time he still expects a jelly bean, but I'm increasingly getting away without such a reward. I think potty training still dominates my thoughts, whereas Danny pays attention to things like the raindrops. After all, using the potty is just another part of nature, isn't it?

This One's for Crystal

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Changing (Table) of the Guard

While the changing table/dresser hangs out in its temporary home in the hallway, before going to its final resting place in the basement, the cats have been getting in some great naps. Kinda weird to think that we're finished with it, so I'm happy to see that it's getting a reverent send-off.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Who Needs Six Flags?

We're back on the upswing around here, making this week one of those proverbial parenting roller coasters. Pretty sure I just mixed my metaphors there, but you get the point. It wasn't a flawless day, but much better. Perhaps most importantly, he's going to school tomorrow. Not sure which one of us needs the break more...actually, yes I am. But he'll have fun at school anyway.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Then Again, Maybe Not

Pretty lousy day on the potty training front. Doesn't make for an exciting post or anything, but I feel the need to shatter anyone's lingering illusions that all is rainbows and unicorns over here. We had a good run of three days, and then today hit. I woke up with this feeling of dread, too, so now of course I wonder if I didn't jinx it? The more rational explanation is that Danny is testing our resolve. He's really good at it, too. And despite how frustrated I have gotten today, I am determined that this time, there is no going back. Danny's new mantra is, "Maybe tomorrow." Indeed.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Paws to Reflect

It was exactly one year ago today that the walls came crumbling down, and felines finally entered the Tim Seymour home. As we mentioned at the time, the acquisition of Quincy and Duncan occurred around the occasion of Clare's fifth birthday. But in reality, those cats were something I had been clamoring for since we got married. Ah, the power of suggestion.

Duncan still remains wary of the kids and has not lived up to his namesake. He's very much my cat, and you know what? I deserve him! He curls up with me on the couch at night, nestles on my legs at bedtime, and seeks out my attentions whenever I am safely alone. I don't think Danny has once gotten his mitts on him, and I imagine this is an ongoing goal for Duncan.

We have reported a few times (and demonstrated in this mildly notorious video) that Quincy has been the perfect cat for small kids. Clare and Danny both light up when they see him, and he's kind/stupid/oblivious enough to let them get a handful of his fur multiple times a day. In fact, he just can't seem to resist lurking around the kids, especially when they have friends over. He is also very affectionate with me, particularly when I am trying to do computer work. He has the loudest purr I've ever heard from a cat, and is extremely chatty (my mom attributes this to some Siamese blood, and I suspect she's right). We're crazy about him.

I say "we," and I include Tim in this grouping. He won't admit it, of course, but he has also ceased his diatribes about the cats contributing nothing to his life - despite the fact that they now sleep at our feet. He lovingly speaks to and pets the cats whenever they're nearby. And witness the treats handout in the photo! This happens a lot, and he's much more generous with the treats than I am. As far as I am concerned, my husband-shaping work is finished.

Well, maybe I won't be that hasty...

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Maybe the Pessimists Are On to Something

It's Sunday night. Danny is asleep. And I have only the smallest of piles of underwear awaiting laundry. It's been a shockingly successful weekend. We were prepared for the worst, in fact assumed it would be torture, and instead have extremely positive progress to report! Fear not, I am not going to give any graphic tallies. Suffice it to say that the successes vastly outnumbered the accidents. I can't help but wonder if it feels so sweet precisely because we expected the opposite?

We are not out of the woods yet, and I feel compelled to go ahead and spend tomorrow at home with Danny. It remains to be seen what I decide to do about school this week. The mere fact that I am considering sending him, however, is a testament to how differently the weekend went compared with our expectations.

In case you're wondering, the picture of Danny with the balloons is from the very first hour of PT. I opted to go with a celebratory atmosphere (a "potty party," if you will), and I have to say it won him over from an initially grouchy state of putting on underwear and no pants. The balloons have also proven to be a source of excellent entertainment in between the somewhat alarming number of TV shows we have permitted him to watch. Balloon tennis may be my new favorite game. Who needs a Wii?

And because my posts have been so Danny-centric of late, I wanted to post a picture of Clare from today. She was decked out for her classmate Caitlin's "Fancy Nancy" birthday party. She came up with the ensemble entirely on her own and was quite pleased with the results. We were happy that she had this soiree (that's how Fancy Nancy would refer to the event) to attend, because we've been such a preoccupied house. To her credit, she's been a very supportive big sister. But she's also five, so I think she's more than ready for Mom and Dad to divide their attentions more evenly again. That makes three of us.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Baby, It's Cold Outside

Danny just asked me if he could turn on the fireplace. Before you call DCFS or 911, you should know that we have a glass-encased gas fireplace that turns on by a simple flick of a light switch. I assure you, he cannot harm himself. So, I let him. And I thanked him for asking me first, instead of just doing it. And then I got all teary.

I suspect the next few days are going to be an emotional roller-coaster for us both. Poor Tim, and Clare. Danny is my baby, and with every step he takes toward growing up I simultaneously delight in his accomplishments and bemoan the ever-increasing distance between him and infancy. I hate the currently cluttered state of his bedroom, but I also can't bear to think about the day when we disassemble the crib and stow it away in the basement. I truly, desperately want him to learn to use a toilet. Yet I suddenly feel very attached to that sweet baby powder smell of a package of diapers. Wow, am I head case or what?

I remember shedding a few tears when Clare graduated to underwear and I didn't get to smell brand-new diapers anymore. A few weeks later I discovered I was pregnant with Danny, so I sort of figured it was a hormonal response. Maybe not. I'm not an overly sentimental mother, but evidently there is something about this particular milestone that strikes me to the core. Especially with Danny, because he's my baby. Except he's not really a baby anymore. It would take a pretty cold-hearted person not to get a bit weepy over that fact, right?

Thank heavens they still make footy pajamas in my kids' sizes. You can't be completely grown up when you're wearing those. (Well, I guess you can, but those people are kind of weird. And I definitely don't want weirdos.)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Arsenal (Bait?)

We Seymours are caught between two worlds right now, as the photo of Danny's room illustrates. For better or worse (please, oh please don't let it be worse), we've decided that this weekend it is time to once again attempt to potty train the Danimal. Ugh.

But, it's time. Danny knows exactly what he is doing, and I'm tired of deodorizing the playroom as a result. We're tired of diapers, and wipes. And I imagine he's tired of us telling him that he needs to learn to use the potty. So, come Saturday morning, the lockdown begins. I anticipate keeping him home from music class on Monday, and school on Tuesday and Thursday. It will quite possibly be the longest week of my life. But as Tim reminds me, billions of people before us have accomplished this. Surely we can, too.

For one thing, we have brand-new bunk beds with cowboy sheets. He will not be permitted to sleep in these until we've had some measure of potty-related succcess. For another, we have chocolate and stickers for each time he is successful. Not to mention a vast assortment of underwear, including Spider Man.

I fear I am still a bit short on confidence and patience. But what I lack in these I will make up for in coffee and wine. And the mantra Amy left me after paying for my coffee in advance while she was ahead of me in the Starbucks drive-through. With support like this, how can we fail?

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Only Partially Shameless Promotion

A few of you know that I recently found a way to print my blog: More importantly, I know that some of you are interested in doing the same with your blog. Well, fortunately they just sent me a handy-dandy "savings code" that will enable YOU to save 15% on such a book, and will get ME 10% of the sales. It's win-win!. I wouldn't be posting this if I wasn't so impressed with the product, but I really am. I particularly recommend the hardback version, because the binding is more secure, and the cover is a nice, thick, protective one. I had a paperback one as well, which some of you saw, and it was fine, too.

Here's the code: MyBlog31MAR05696 (There will be a space during the checkout process for you to enter this code, and then the discount will be applied.) They didn't indicate whether or not this is a limited time offer, so your guess is as good as mine on that front.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Marketing Fairy

As we veer around the proverbial block for the second time, I have decided that there is another, not-so-mythical creature in the ranks of the Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny, and Santa Clause. And I swear, this one is real.

We first (unwittingly) crossed paths with the Marketing Fairy about three years ago. One day, Clare was a two-and-a-half year old who liked Dora and the Care Bears, watched The Wiggles, and generally lived a well-rounded life. Overnight, she was somewhat obsessed with Disney Princesses. Tableware, pajamas, books, toys - anything we would permit to cross our threshold, she coveted. And of course the movies! Oh, did she love to watch those movies. Her poor babysitter had to watch Sleeping Beauty more times than I have fingers - and we didn't have a babysitter all that often. I do credit the combination of the movies and the princess panties with finally getting her over her potty-training issues. But I have really enjoyed the last nine months or so, when the princess fervor has died down significantly.

Naturally, such parental peace rarely lasts more than a millisecond. Sometime in the last month or two, the Marketing Fairy struck again, this time with a shot of testosterone. Spider Man is the man of the hour, as far as Danny is concerned, with Batman a close second. Our superhero arsenal is currently limited to too-small pajamas, a motorcycle toy that is one of Danny's all-time favorites, and now valentines. Because really, nothing says romance and love like a man with weirdly goggled eyes and red tights who spews spider webs. (He does, right? I better get this straight soon.)

I was tempted in the past to blame the influence of older cousins for Clare's princess interest, and then the Plummer Boys for Danny's superhero fascination. But these older kids were clearly touched themselves, and so it really seems obvious: it's the work of an unseen but all-powerful force. I'm starting to think President Obama should make the Marketing Fairy a Cabinet member.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Old School Entertainment

Call me scrooge, old-fashioned, or whatever - I suspect a member of my carpool has called me worse. But when it comes to the wonderful technology in my minivan that enables passengers to watch a DVD, Tim and I have somewhat arbitrarily developed a two-hour rule. Meaning that if the trip is less than two hours, the DVD player will not be used. Will we stretch this rule to a ninety-minute trip? Probably. But for the 25-30 minute ride to school each day, no way.

Lest my three carpoolers (and Danny) be forced to actually talk to each other each morning (horrors!), I found something that has proven to be quite a big hit with the kids: audio books. Specifically, the Magic Tree House books. I cannot say enough about these books, which were the first chapter books we introduced to Clare and which are the gift we most frequently give to the 5- and 6-year-old set these days. When we first discovered that they were offered in audio format (in a Wendy's kids' meal), we were all pretty excited. I was even more delighted when I realized what a great tool they would be for our morning commute. The first morning I popped one in while driving to school (it was one of those tense mornings early in the school year, when there was still some anxiety on the part of some of the riders, and the three of them didn't know each other all that well), all the kids were rapt - and you could just see the wheels turning in their heads. It was also an instant, common conversation starter for them. Naturally, the excitement waned for a while, especially because we only had four of the MTH books on CD. However, last week I discovered a treasure trove of them on iTunes, and the magic has returned. In fact, Clare was inspired to bring a bag full of her MTH books (there are 40 of them, with #41 coming out next month) into the van. It's a great feeling to watch the kids read books and compare pictures while listening (even Danny gets absorbed). At one point last week, Max suddenly burst out, "Hey! Let's pretend the car is the magic tree house!" And for the rest of the ride they weren't Max and Clare, but Jack and Annie on their way to an exciting adventure at a place called Christ the King. Shouldn't every trip to school be this enthusiastic?

Sunday, February 1, 2009

It's Not Just My Kids... you'll read in Terri's excellent contribution to this week's Finicky Files.