Monday, April 30, 2012


At the museum with Erik

 You know how Angry Birds are everywhere now? Well, among six-year-olds they are a much talked-of topic. Even Nick mentions "Hungry Birds" every once in a while, translating it into his own understanding, of course. Xander has been able to play Angry Birds a few times on family members' iPads. He doesn't have that chance at home.

My son is awesome. Can I just say that? He has the biggest imagination and he is kind, caring, helpful, and sociable. He also, like many children his age, cares about justice. But what I think is awesome today is his announcement that he was playing Angry Birds...with napkins and our little math bugs. I like how he took this electronic craze and played his own version which happened to be extremely low-tech.

(This reminds me of my brother when he was little. He often had his two index fingers fight each other for his low-tech play. I mean, for minutes and minutes and minutes. I saw Nick doing this the other day and had a flash-back.)

At soccer practice (not his)

Not to leave out Nick's awesomeness: He is learning to use the potty very, very fast (this time around) and really isn't happy when I do chores unless he can do them, too. He doesn't pretend to do them. He actually sweeps with a hand broom and gets mad at me if I sweep his pile into my dustpan. No, he has to sweep it into his dustpan and dump it himself in the trash. He likes to set the table and empty the dishwasher. The other day, I was able to call, "Nick! Come here!" and get a, "I coming, Mommy!" I asked him to wash his hands in the bathroom, he said okay, and he ran off to use his step stool to wash his hands all by himself. The most impressive part, to me, was that he turned off the water when he was done.

Sure, there are more screams than thank yous, more pouts than pats on the back, but there are more than enough wonderful things to keep this mama going.

Just for nostalgia - this is Xander, for anyone who's wondering :)

Little Nick, Cadbury, and Xander (perhaps they are all being dogs?)

Friday, April 27, 2012

Potty Training Is Great!

Okay, not exactly great, and I am exhausted today. So is Nick. It's hard to be optimistic when exhausted. I do have to say that Nick is going in the potty every day and having very few accidents. He has done both numbers (#1 and #2). We have been on necessary outings which have gone well. One outing accident so far. As a "seasoned" mom, I dealt with that just fine. I was so embarrassed when that happened with toddler Xander. This time I was matter-of-fact.

I noticed today that Nick is starting to resist sitting on the potty pretty strongly. He is learning and progressing, just not happy about the potty. Maybe after a good night's sleep he will be back to normal. I'm afraid that our outings have set us back maybe a day's worth of progress. Not that we're backtracking, just that we might not see the progress in four days that we otherwise would have.  We had to go to the library, soccer practice, and the grocery store. Tomorrow we have to go to Xander's soccer game and I feel that I need to put a pull-up on Nick because we have pictures and I am the team snack mom for the day. I will have to be present instead of in the bathroom taking someone potty or changing him.

We got to Skype with Erik tonight, kind of late. Nick wouldn't go down to bed at all calmly until after he had talked to Erik. (He didn't give this as a reason, but he was hysterical the first couple of times I put him down.) Erik treated us to some harmonica playing, his new "bachelor" hobby. He and his house mates are hosting a barbecue on Saturday for co-workers, and he is seeing my college friend Miranda in Ithaca on Sunday. She'll take him around our old haunts. I suppose she'll show him the field house, athletic center, and track along with the campus and sights. I didn't even mention those to him when describing the area, but we spent 60% of our time in those places. If you count the long runs, which ranged all over the campus. :)

Xander had the greatest time on his field trip to Sweetberry Farms today. I'm so glad. They did really fun things like help ladybugs get to the aphids, feed goats, pet horses, pick strawberries, eat lunch and snack, shoot old berries out of some sort of gun, and last but not least, ride the school bus both ways.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Oh, About the Bribing...

What a nice thing Nick has done for me. The bribing portion of potty training is over.

For the first day, he loved being able to have M&Ms and raisins when he sat on his potty. Toward the end of the day, he was getting fussy when I mentioned M&Ms, because of the negative association, I guess. I wanted to reward him for peeing in the potty and he wouldn't even take any M&Ms! He didn't want anything to do with the sticker chart, either.

So now I just high-five him and tell him good job, I am so proud of him. Those things are still acceptable.

Getting Somewhere?

Several small potty successes today and no accidents! I discovered last night that we were down to our last diaper when Nick peed in it and took it off right before bed. I had to put a swim diaper on him (which holds nothing) and tell him to call me in if he needed to go potty.

He did call me in at 12:30, but just to be held and comforted a little bit. Things have become a little scary for him. He talks about them while I hold him in my lap. Then he goes down to sleep again.

This morning, his swim diaper was still dry!! He kept himself dry all morning until he did his anxious little potty dance and I made him sit on the potty to go. We even made it to story time today because I had to go to renew my library card. He did great and stayed dry the whole time with underwear on.

Xander went to school mad and crying this morning. He had the normal amount of time to get ready and just didn't. He dawdled and gathered Lego figures to bring in the car. At the end, I got aggravated and let him know it. I hustled him out the door with only one figure, his socks and shoes in my hand. He told me I was so mean and making him so sad. I really felt very badly about it, but he did get to school on time. He wouldn't have gotten there for another hour if I had let him go at his own pace! I'll be interested to see how he is when we pick him up.

Tomorrow is their field trip to a strawberry picking farm. Should be wonderful for him. I hope he brings home strawberries! Maybe I can make strawberry jam...what am I saying? They'll all be gone before that happens.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Some Results

Potty training is a lonely thing, isn't it? Things are going well since this morning. Two or three successes (#1) and only one small accident! He cares, which is what stresses him out, but also lets me know very clearly when he has to go.

Tonight I'm making another recipe from the 1963 McCall's. I said it was a '50s cookbook in the last post because I remembered wrong. Close, though. Tonight we are having Baked Mushroom Meatloaf. I already have a Shreve family meatloaf recipe that is tried and true, but it's fun trying out these recipes before Erik comes home. He can have the successes at that point. :) The meatloaf might not be as favored by the kids, since it involves mushrooms. Interestingly, there is a layer of sliced mushrooms, parmesan cheese, hard-boiled egg slices, and parsley in between two meat loaves. Maybe they won't notice? The parsley is fresh from our pot outside.

Dessert is McCall's Best Clove Cake or something like that which I made yesterday. I love making their cakes so far. They are simple with clear directions. The ingredients aren't too costly, either, at least so far. I guess I've only made very basic cakes. I remember finding an orange marmalade triple layer cake recipe a couple years ago that I wanted to make, but it turned out the ingredients would have cost at least $14. At the time, I wasn't willing to put that much into a home-baked cake.

Well, I go on like this because I am lonely. :) We have Xander's neighbor friend over so the kids are having fun. In between spats.

As I was typing, I noticed Nick standing very still. Yep. An accident in progress. We went to clean up in the bathroom. The nice thing was Xander had to come in and he nicely told Nick, "It's okay. It's not the end of the world."

I am letting Nick take a break now by wearing a diaper. I told him we would try again tomorrow.

Enough details about all that, I suppose.

Nick's Got a Ticket to Ride the Potty Train

First, my favorite topic: food. Last night I made two recipes for dinner called Blushing Bunnies and Vegetable Roll-Ups. They're from my 1950s McCall cookbook (which I am loving). Blushing Bunnies are toasted slices of bread covered with a mixture of tomato sauce, condensed cheddar soup, and dry mustard, topped with crumbled cooked bacon. Vegetable Roll-Ups, the way I made them, are flattened slices of bread spread with a butter and cheese mixture, topped with grated carrots, rolled up. Xander is almost tomato-phobic, but he loved the Blushing Bunnies. I didn't use the "t" word and he asked for seconds. The Vegetable Roll-Ups were fine with him, too. I loved it. Nick ate about as much as he usually does for dinner - not much.

The last few days, I've been prepping Nick for this moment. He is going to wear underwear today. As long as he is sitting on his potty chair, I will allow him treats like M&Ms, raisins, grapes, and TV-watching. When he's not on the potty, I'll check his underwear every 15-30 minutes and give him a treat if he is clean and dry. Intellectually, he knows what I expect of him although he doesn't really know the sensation of going in the potty. He's excited to do this, finally.

As time goes on, I think I'll be able to cut back on the treats easily enough. Nick actually likes getting stickers on a chart, unlike Xander at this age. Yes, this program is full of bribes. Honestly, with our two boys, bribing along with preparation and firm ultimatums is the way to go. I've heard other parents of boys say this, too, but it felt like Xander would have been happy to let me take care of his messes for a very, very long time. There comes a day, though, when you change a diaper and think, "I shouldn't be changing this anymore." If our child can really talk about his dirty diaper and how he doesn't want it changed, he needs to be depositing elsewhere. :)

I am pretty confident right now. In two days, I will probably be posting in tears. Then I can look back at this post and laugh.

Sunday, April 15, 2012


Xander has a new bike! I mean, a brand-new bike! The amount of stuff the kids have gotten in the last few weeks is outrageous. Granted, their grandmother came to visit and it was Xander's birthday and we got some of these things at garage sales, but still. I suspect Erik has been using retail therapy to make up for the fact he has to leave for three months tomorrow morning. Happily for us, he has also been on a handy-man rampage around the house.

He bought Nick a bubble gun, child's armchair, tiny drawer-and-shelf set, pair of water shoes, Robots game, and large plastic truck. He got Xander a Lego set, huge Nerf gun, bike helmet, large Captain Alex poster, water shoes, and a brand-spanking-new bike that is definitely a big boy bike. Once we take the training wheels off, that is.

Here is Xander on his first ride on the new bike:

We are very sad about facing a few months without Erik, but we are busy trying to make this a great weekend. We wrote some special notes to pack secretly in his bag and sent some framed photos with him as well. The plan is to Skype every evening in a very informal way. It will be good for the kids to hear his voice and see his face every day. For me, too. Meanwhile, the neighbors have been extremely supportive and offered their services if we should need them.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Science Share Night

Xander participated in his school's Science Share Night last night. Erik supervised and helped with his project researching extinction, especially what happened to the dinosaurs. They went to the history museum together, talked to a paleontologist there, read books, built a diorama, and found out which species are endangered in our area. I'll post pictures below. It was so refreshing to see the number of kindergartners and first-graders participating. This wasn't a prizes-awarded type of night; it was just what it is called: a night for everyone to share science investigations they had made.

Xander was shy about going to Science Share Night. When he learned he would have to talk to people about his project, he didn't think he could do it. Erik kept talking to him about it until he decided he could go. (This was over a period of weeks.) On the night itself, Xander went up to another student next to her project and listened to her explain it. After that, he felt confident. I watched him reel in a parent who was walking away to get him to his own project, explain that it was about extinction, show him the print-outs of current local endangered species, and answer this kind man's questions. I knew Xander had social skills beyond mine (he often performs introductions before I do), but I was impressed beyond measure.

The principal also came to the Science Share Night and asked each student, in turn, about his or her project.

Many teachers were there, including Xander's teacher. She had live snails to show. Nick was fascinated! He got to look down on them with a large magnifying glass. Xander's teacher is a very interested and inspiring teacher when it comes to biology and live creatures. She's probably inspiring on other subjects, too, considering how much Xander has learned this year. A couple of weeks ago as Nick and I visited for lunch and recess, I became really impressed with her handling of caterpillars at recess, using the moment to teach her students and protect the caterpillar's life, all while behaving as if it was a real treat to have found the caterpillar to observe. At almost the same time, another kindergarten teacher across the playground was yelling at kids to get away from the tree and stop touching the caterpillars over there.

Warning: the next paragraph has to do with a child's "creative" food mixing. Do not read if you do not want your stomach tested.

Nick has made up his very own recipe. He asked for oatmeal, which I proceeded to cook. He wanted honey on it, so I drizzled some on. I asked if he wanted strawberry slices on top, and he said yes. Then he asked for peanut butter. Okay. So his spoon filled with peanut butter was placed on top. Then he wanted some milk on top. Great. Then the oatmeal was too hot and burned his poor little mouth. I offered some chocolate milk to cool it off. Then he wanted the chocolate milk poured over his oatmeal... So we have made a creation: Peanut-Butter-Honey-Strawberry Oatmeal a la Chocolate Milk. It is being eaten, believe it or not. I guess it's not as "creative" as some of Xander's recipes. However, we will be changing Nick's entire outfit after this meal. (This whole process was not very Babywise, I realize.)

Young Scientist and his diorama

Observing snails - Nick could hardly be dragged away from this activity

Lego Robotics club!!!!! Xander will have to wait until he is 8 or 9 for this.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Xander and Bailey

As cousins who were born within two months of each other, Xander and Bailey have always been close. They are very loving toward each other, but they are not afraid to argue either. They are more like siblings than cousins. In fact, Xander asked her during one visit if she would be his sister since he didn't have one, and she said yes.

I need to clarify the sidebar and my last post. The sidebar title says, "For a moment in time, Xander loves..."

The first item is "his cousin Bailey." He loves her, yes, but it is not for just a moment in time. He has always felt that way. He has a picture she drew on his night stand so he can look at it all the time.

Okay, clarified. :)

Monday, April 9, 2012

New Things Xander Loves

Now that he is six, I will update the sidebar that lists his current loves. Here is the older one I am about to replace (I think I missed updating it for age five!):


  • playing with Kylee and Dakota
  • his former classmates and Mrs. Heather
  • roomtime with his figures
  • poring over his Lego instruction brochures
  • the Narnia movies
  • The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
  • imagining and playing adventures
  • Brainpower's World History Timelines
  • saying he can't get up or walk (growing pains?)
  • getting Nick to say things
  • Pokemon
  • learning activities in workboxes
  • Nature specials
  • "Tops and Bottoms", a washing hands song
  • The ABC song
  • Cedarmont Kids' songs
  • playing with blocks at school
  • doing things all by himself
  • school

Easter Pictures

Sometime between his birthday and Easter, playing with Sandy and new Lego sets.

Sandy's pretty happy with Xander's lap! But not the carrot sticks.

The boys, playing. ;)

Sandy is having out-of-cage time. Despite his frozen unhappy aspect when I take pictures, he loves out-of-cage time, and food.

His hair is not really messy; he has natural "rosettes" or spirals in his hair.

He is still only about four months old. Xander decreed his birthday would be on April 2nd every  year.

Mmmm, blueberry muffins on Easter morning.

Xander's Easter bucket

We had a bit of an Easter feast (early) Sunday morning.

They both love stuffed animals. Xander has a very nurturing spirit toward his stuffed animals and his pet. (Toward his little brother, too, 1 time out of 4. Human beings take a little more practice.)

Nick really got the hang of Easter, with its many treats. He went around saying, "Happy Easter!" to everyone he met that day.

"What else do you have to offer me?" he wonders.

I've never seen anyone bite into a chocolate rabbit this fast.

Is he gorgeous, or what? At the Easter egg hunt at Christ Episcopal.

He liked hunting eggs and managed to get about five or six off the ground. The preschool egg section was MUCH more relaxed than the older-kid section.
...As you can see from this blurry picture of the older-side action.

Basically, they're just interested in the candy.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Thank You!

Xander has been getting much-appreciated birthday presents for the last two weeks, and quite a few more are coming within the next day or so. Thank you cards are on the way as soon as I receive an order of photo cards that we want to use for them. Plus a little extra surprise. Just wanted interested readers to know that he received and loved many more things than were pictured in the previous posts. I am afraid my children are spoiled, and not entirely by Erik and me. :)

Today Looks to Be a Gorgeous Day

...Although a bit hot.

Erik is home from work, Xander has the day off school, Nick seems all better from his very slight fever yesterday, I'm putting hot cross buns in the oven in a few minutes. All is right with the world.

Some pictures:

Family presents on Sunday night

DVD from Uncle Jeremy, Aunt Leslie, Bailey, and Foster

Loving this card from Aunt Pat

Grandma Lucy's second round of presents
The good kind of erasers - he's not sure what they are

So excited that she gave him the good kind of drawing pencils

A big scribble pad that is already getting lots of use

Awesome puzzle from Uncle Jeremy, Aunt Leslie, and Co.
He was looking for "Codorado" so he could see where Bailey lives

The LegoLand trident

Threatening to strike

More posturing
Loving this Batman card from Grandma Bonnie

The biggest present!! The Mill set from Grandma Bonnie

One of the things Nick and I did this week

Nick loves the bath visor that Xander never really liked

Is it just me, or do small children look fabulous with bath headgear?
Stuffed animal pile

Woo hoo! Getting spoiled by presents from Charity and Dave

Building the Star Wars Ewok set
Soccer practice last night (evening)

Nick played quietly in the sand the whole time during practice.

About to score!
I was way wrong about Nick. In the middle of preparing this post, he came out of his bedroom to throw up in the hall. Poor babe. His head was not hot today but apparently he has been battling something. I'll have to watch today to see if I think it's a virus or something more.