Saturday, June 29, 2013

potty training gus

I am not going to do some long explanation of the whole process that is potty training, but I thought I would share some of my recent experiences with Gus.  I will say that it is something that stresses me out so I am always interested in how other people approach it.  While I consider myself no expert, I do feel like I have learned a lot about what to do and not do.  I will try to keep this post about Gus, but the first time was quite an ordeal that I hope not to repeat.  This time around it seemed simple in comparison.  Back in January I saw my window of Gus being excited about the idea and it seeming far enough away from a new baby coming so I grabbed my chance when I had it.  Some special thanks go out to Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood and a little song that goes like this: "If you have to go potty stop and go right away!  Then flush and wash and be on your way!"  Gus really did want to do it once he watched that cartoon.  We wrapped up the old potty like a special present, made a sticker chart, and bought some rewards: M&Ms for #1 and Nilla Wafers for #2 (actually I originally gave him red vines for poop, but his poo started turning red and I thought there was something seriously wrong.  I wouldn't recommend).  I made the sticker chart extra long this time correct the mistake I made last time about trying wean him off the rewards too early.  We still give rewards when he wants them, but I have just let them slowly disappear.  I started by putting him in Jimmy's old underpants and just counted on having to change them frequently. After having one full day of no accidents he got to buy Thomas the Tank Engine underpants at Target.  That was the first major motivation.  Anyway, Gus did great and after 10 straight days of no accidents (for which he got a big sticker instead of a little one), he got an R2D2 toy that makes noises.  Honestly, it took him months to get this toy, but he was basically potty trained after the first month.  The toy reward was really an added motivation to keep him exited about the idea for a few months.  I am all about the rewards system.  I would have been lost without it.  
He still has an occasional accident, but that is just normal.  He is much less excited about the idea these days and complains a lot like his older brother, but all in all he is doing pretty well for 2 1/2.
On a related note, I just want to share something that I discovered after a lot of research on night time potty training.  I for one was sick of spending money on those silly, expensive pull-ups for years now.  If you have tried all the techniques to getting your kid to sleep through the night, but it just isn't working, you may want to invest in a few pairs of Super Undies.  They are the cloth diaper version of pull-ups that you have to wash, but will ultimately save you lots of money.  I wish I had bought them sooner so I just had to share my discovery.  Good luck to any other parents braving potty training.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

end of preschool

Jimmy loved his first (and only) year of preschool.  He only went two days a week, but it worked out just perfect for us.  He was excited to go every day and really thrived.  The main reason we put him in was to help his social skills and adjust to the idea of going to kindergarten full time.  I think it really did help.  He has been so proud of his reading skills (taught at home not school) that he wanted to show them off at school.  His teacher asked him to read in front of the class and he was actually willing to do it.  His teacher couldn't believe this was the same shy boy she met at the beginning of the year.  When I came to school to pick him up one day and found him reading "Are You My Mother" to his class, I was pretty shocked as well--mostly proud, but also shocked.  I could see how proud it made him and it was just the cutest thing.   Don't get me wrong, he still hides his face the majority of the time a grown-up says hi or asks him a question, but I can definitely see progress.  I can also see some physical growth as well.  I pulled up a picture of his first day of school this past August and I couldn't believe how old he looked compared to the one I took on his last day of school.  What the heck?  Knock it off kid.
(Apparently Gus still hasn't caught onto that whole looking at the camera thing)

Here is his class picture:
Of course, once your children go to preschool you must inevitably deal with the issue of having so much priceless artwork in your home that you really don't know what to do with it.  The refrigerator quickly runs out of room so I started a clothespin line in a window, but even that gets too full.  My attempted solution to this problem is photographing all of it.  I have been taking pictures of his artwork since he was about 3 years old, but have never done anything with it.  I tell myself I can make a book of it all sometime, but there is a long list of things I would like to make photo books of and they just won't all happen.  At least I am finally getting some on the blog (by the way the whole blog is on that list I just referred too so that should give you a clue as to the likelihood of these things actually happening).  I have been fairly successful with the photographing but the problem becomes how do you then throw them away without too much guilt or the much bigger problem of you child catching you.  I told Jimmy at the end of the school year that we were going to clean off his desk and sort through all the things to keep or throw away.  Of course, his first reaction was "Throw Away!!!"  I explained that we can't keep it all, but I didn't want to throw away things that were really special so I would let him decide and help me take pictures of it all.  Of course, the pile of things worth throwing away was very small, so when when he wasn't looking I threw a few more things away that I would rather he not know about.  He hung up his very favorite pieces on his door, but there is still so much just lying around on his desk that I feel like I didn't make a dent.  I think I need to throw it out in waves so it isn't too noticeable.  Anyway, here are a few examples of "the keepers" starting with the train he painted on his very first day:
 He made a whole alphabet book that is one of the things I really will save in a keepsake box forever because his little drawings are all just adorable.  "G" was his teacher's favorite.  When she first looked at his drawing, she said. "Oh, a gorilla." to which he replied, "No, it is a Gibbon."  She thought that was hysterical.  
 My Mother's Day gift was another favorite of mine.  It was a frame made of paper plates with sea shells glued on it.  There is a picture of Jimmy fishing in the middle.  He was so extremely excited to give it to me and it was just the perfect, most adorable thing to make my morning awesome.  This one will definitely be hard to part with, but I haven't figured out how to hang it somewhere and I don't see it lasting for years to come.  This is one of those times I will be thankful to have a picture.
 Last, I just really wanted to include this picture Jimmy drew for Gus' birthday even though he did it at home.  I love his cute little people and attention to detail.  He drew the cash register he picked out for Gus on the table after carefully studying all the correct colors.
Jimmy made cards for both his teachers for Teacher Appreciation Week that he was also very proud of.
(Does anyone else think this celebratory week for teachers is placed too close to the end of the year?)
This is what he looks like when he is hard at work.
They had a nighttime end of year celebration with all the pre-kindergarteners (call it a graduation if you want; I don't care, but Zach thinks that is dumb). There was pizza and cake so obviously it was all very exciting.  Jimmy overcame his embarrassment enough to take a picture with his teachers.
Then I got one with our friend Ann, who never actually was at school with Jimmy on the same day, but is probably the only friend we will continue to see now that school is done since our families are friends.  Jimmy did make some good little buddies, but sadly preschool friendships are hard to hold onto.  
When Jimmy came home on his last day of school, Gus and I had bought some special presents for him and I made him a special card.  We had picked out some special snacks to eat for lunch and I bought a slip'n'slide to start celebrating summer (... more to come on that).  Jimmy was so surprised and excited.  He then insisted on turning on his current favorite song, "The First Day of Summer" by the Que Pastas, and dancing like a crazy man.
He is so stinkin' cute.

Friday, June 14, 2013

nano days

When Nano has a conference or work related reason to head east from Hawaii, he tries to make a point to stop in Phoenix for at least a day.  In May, we got the privilege of a few days.  When grandparents are in town, the boys usually count on getting a special breakfast.  As Jimmy says, "Nana makes fat pancakes, and Nano makes thin ones."  Nano's are known as Bunyas and we usually put cinnamon or powdered sugar inside with butter.  This time we had some Nutella on hand as well so they were extra delicious.
Nutella mustache:
We had a nice time in the park playing with our dragon kite, frisbee, and airplanes.
Then we finally took Nano to Pizzeria Bianco.  I can't believe he has been to Phoenix so many times and we hadn't made it there yet. 
We always love having a Nano visit.  It is hard to say goodbye, but the boys took some consolation in the fact that Nana was coming shortly thereafter.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

kersting kiddos

This past semester I took on an extra babysitting job to help out my friend Angela who was going back to teaching part-time.  Mon-Thurs. I had a house of five kids every afternoon.  I am not going to lie and say how great the kids were all the time, but ultimately, my kids loved getting to have their friends over everyday.
Jimmy and Lucia pretty much fight like brother and sister... but that just means they love each other, right?
However, some days they would play so well together. For example, the day they made this zoo set-up they were so very proud of:
Looking at books together was another past time that usually involved little fighting.
And then there is Gus and Kolbe.
Not that they don't frequently fight over who gets to hold which McQueen, but really they have much more of a love-love relationship.
And then we can't forget little Blaise.  My boys have grown to love him so much.  It has been good for them to have a baby around because it will help them adjust easier to the one that is coming to our house soon.  Jimmy has become super helpful with Blaise and loves holding him and playing with him.  He tells me, "Mom, I think I am going to be really good with the new baby."  I snicker a bit, but I actually agree.  Gus just says things like, "I love Blaisey because I love his smile."  Cuteness.
I think Gus went through withdrawals once they stopped coming every day, but we fortunately still see them a lot. Thanks goodness for good friends.

Friday, June 7, 2013

may the forth be with you

Okay, I am a bit late as usual since it is already June, but Star Wars is an important part of our household and since last month has a certain day dedicated to just that, I thought I should share one of my newest inventions:
Homemade Glowing Light Sabers!!
...Okay, they only actually glow in photos (with the flash used), but they still look cool in person as well.  I would love to give you all a more in depth tutorial on how to make them, but let's be honest, I just don't have time so take what you can get.  Here is the basic rundown:
You may recall, that we had glowing light sabers in a photo booth at the boys Star Wars themed birthday party.  This little trick was taught to me by my father-in-law who is in the Army.  They use special reflector belts on base and someone showed him how they look like light sabers if you use flash photography (don't try with a really good camera though or it won't work; camera phones=best results).  He had some belts and sent them to us.  Basically, they are something like these if you are interested in trying this yourself (pretty cheap if you ask me!).  After the party I had saved them in the boys closet and the kids would always try to get them out and play with them.  Only problem was they weren't really good for anything since they didn't stand up.  I suddenly realized how easy it would be to just wrap them around a wrapping paper roll.  I had two old ones I was saving for just such a crafting opportunity.  One was decently strong and one pretty weak, but we went ahead with it anyway (honestly, I really want to find some heavy duty ones now and remake them so they last longer).  The handles were pretty much ready to go since I had already created them out of paper towel tubes and duct tape.  I just had to cut them down a little bit to fit.  Then I wrapped the belts around the long tubes and covered them with clear packaging tape.  It took me all of 10 minutes and my boys and their friends were so impressed.  I don't know how long they will last at this rate because there have been some pretty intense light saber fights going on, but they will certainly be loved.