James at 3.5 Years

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Another late update.

James was 3 and a half in early September and in true middle child fashion, his update never happened. Sorry buddy, but from one middle child to another, you’ll get used to it.

Dear James,

My little baby boy.

You are feisty, you are loud, you are devastatingly handsome, and you are wild and crazy. You couldn’t be more different from your sister at this age.

Your true loves include trucks, trains, Star Wars, MagnaTiles, Iron Man, selfies, riding your bike, the police, swimming, wrestling, Legos, and pretending to shoot things. You love peanut butter, jelly, rice cakes, cereal, and little other food. You love “cozy pants” and refuse to wear any pants that have buttons on them. I fight you on this, but I get it, no one loves an elastic waistband more than your mom. You fight with Reese daily, but when she gets home from school you light up. You are doing so well with your new little sister. I know you notice the extra time I have to spend with June, but you never direct your frustrations at her. You are only jealous that she gets to wake up in the night to eat.

You continue to be my biggest challenge in the parenting department. Sorry son, but it’s true, we usually go to battle an average of three times a day. The terrible two’s have reappeared as the threatening threes (as in me threatening you 24/7, and you threatening my sanity.) You are the sweetest boy ever about 75% of the time, but the other 25% of the time you will cut a b. You regularly tell me that you are never playing with me again, throw toys, stomp your feet, melt to the floor and turn to rubber, and then minutes later reappear asking for some crackers. I usually avoid taking you to places like the mall and the grocery store because you are getting bigger and stronger and I’m not sure how much longer I will be able to throw you over my shoulder and get the hell out of there when the need arises. The need usually arises.

You go to the school twice a week from 9-1 PM and it is everything to you. You love getting your backpack and your lunch box and going off to school just like Reese. Despite said behavior at home, you are an angel at school.

You would take a nap everyday if we had time for it. You love your midday snoozes and you still love to cuddle with your mamma. Lately you have been waking up scared in the middle of the night but your Dad can usually get you right back down. Going to sleep at night is another story. We put you and Reese to bed around 7/7:30 and for the next hour (sometimes more), you can be found laying in the hallway, busting into Reese’s room and being a general annoyance, calling to Andrew and I for water, hugs, tuck-ins, complaining of phantom injuries, etc. Oftentimes you appear in the living room doorway because, “I just had to tell you something.” “Something” is usually an arbitrary question about Star Wars, or a request to borrow our phones.

We are so proud of your kindness to other kids and your fierce independence. We love seeing you in your element at swim class, and watching you race on your bike like a maniac. We know you will be a wonderful big brother, and hopefully will become a little less of the stereotypical “little brother.”

We love you sweet James, more than you will ever know.

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All of This Happened

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So, I haven’t exactly been hiding, but I spent much of the past 9 months looking like this, so there hasn’t been much time for blogging.

img_7325Our third born, June Powers, arrived on August 23rd, 2017 at 11 AM, one week early, via a scheduled c-section.

And she is just beautiful. None of us can stop looking at her. She came into the world kicking and screaming and weighing in at 7 lbs 3 oz, our smallest baby yet. She is quiet and gentle until she gets hungry. Then she is pissed. She seems to be unfazed by the screaming/yelling, non-stop talking, and tackling that goes on in our house, so I think she will survive here nicely.

Her first week here has been chaotic. James and Reese both started school and there were visiting days and orientations, not to mention dealing with the aftermath of a pipe that burst in our basement while we were in the hospital.

Meanwhile, June is straight chillin’ all day long. She sleeps at night. The first couple of nights home from the hospital I actually had to wake her for her feedings. For the record, when other people told me they had to do this with their newborn babies, I secretly never believed them. I know this may not continue, but it’s nice to have right now, while trying to recover from the c-section and get two kids up and out the door for school in the morning. Sidenote: I laugh a little inside when I say things like “get the kids up and out the door for school.” It’s so mom-ish.

I actually love the chaos this time around. Reese was born in November and because the weather was terrible, flu season was nearing, and she was our only child, her and I pretty much spent her first winter hunkered down in our living room watching Laguna Beach reruns. When James arrived two years later in March, the weather was better but we also had a two-year old who wasn’t in school yet, woke insanely early, never went to bed easily and could do very little for herself. Sicknesses ravaged our house those first few months and those were probably some of the hardest days of my life. I could remember feeling guilty just wishing that James would hit that 3 month mark and maybe start sleeping better. I felt like I was wishing his babyness away. So far, I don’t have those feelings this time.

Now, Reese is in school full-time, we have swimming lessons and soccer practices to go to and June will be dragged to everything. Much like any younger sibling, and I think she will roll with it.

Here are some glimpses of our first few days.

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First Public Parental Shaming

Today was the first time I was publicly shamed for my parenting. Maybe I should consider myself lucky since I have gone five years without this happening, but right now, the rage is still real.

We were at 11:30 mass this morning with Reese and James, and to us, it was just a normal Sunday. James had dropped his train about 317 times and had asked for us to pick it up 317 times. Maybe the 5th time he asked us, the elderly woman in front of us turned around, looked at James and said, “whisper! whisper!” in a semi-aggressive tone. Andrew and I looked at each other. This was just the beginning of it all and we were already pissed.

James is 2.5 years old and doesn’t give a damn if you are supposed to be quiet somewhere.  At this point, I had actually thought he was having a pretty good day. Five minutes later, the woman turned around, and this is what she said, verbatim, while wagging her stupid old finger at us, “You need to teach him to be quiet at home, not here at church. I have four kids and they were always quiet in church and never acted like this.” Then she turned back around and we continued staring at her back, our mouths agape.

There was fire in my insides and I’m pretty sure I was shaking. I was mortified but would have also loved to punch her in her smug face.

I took James out of the church and spent the rest of the mass with him in the foyer, going over and over in my head what I wish I had said to that lady. “Well you were 20 minutes late to mass and didn’t even hear the gospel so your attendance today doesn’t even count you jerk!” or “I’m sure you remember exactly how your children behaved in church 90 years ago.” Take that! I had plenty of zingers, most of which probably can’t be mentioned here.

When we were getting ready to leave and I was zipping James’ coat up in the foyer, another elderly woman came up to me, put her palm on my cheek, and said, “He is a good little fellow, and you are doing a good job. She should probably just sit up in the front of the church next time.”

Thank you kind stranger! We needed that.

 

 

 

Election 2016

Just kidding! I am not touching that mess! This is about a post about Halloween.

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Reese decided last year that she wanted to be a mermaid for Halloween this year, and come October, she had not forgotten, so mermaid it was. James, who loves everything his sister does, also requested to be a mermaid for Halloween. Unfortunately for him we already had hand-me-down skeleton and superman outfits that were just his size. He was a skeleton for the trunk or treat at Reese’s school and superman for trick or treating in our neighborhood on Halloween night.

Both of them have the trick-or-treating thing down pat and I don’t think I have to worry about either of them ever being shy.

James learned quickly that mom and dad weren’t opening most treats until we got home, so when a neighbor would hand him a candy bar, he would often hand it back to them and ask, “can you open this?” He wasn’t trying to wait until he got home to get a bite. One house where no one answered he actually pressed his face against their window and yelled, “Hey! We want to get some candy!” I cringed and we all ran away.

Reese was in all her glory as a mermaid who also wears a fleece jacket. James has been asking to go trick-or-treating every day since, and Andrew and I have been eating all the Kit Kats we can get our hands on, so I would say it was a successful Halloween.

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Back to School

Here’s my girl again, off to school like a full-blown kid.

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And here she is with her little brother, who is the epitome of little brothers and who is also asking to go to school every day. Sorry little bro, but you got a few more years to go.

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This year Reese is in Pre-K three days a week. She is with all new kids, in a new classroom, with new teachers, and she is handling it well. She misses her old teachers a lot, and every morning we still have to peek our heads into their classroom before she can start her day.

It makes me a little sad that this will be our last year spending our days together; running errands, going to the library, and making spontaneous weeknight trips to Gammy and Grandpa’s. Next year it will be kindergarten and my little buddy will be in school full time. But I will not dwell on this, and so I keep reminding myself that this is what she is supposed to be doing, that this is good, and that it’s just kindergarten and it’s not until next year, so calm down you emotional maniac.

Potty Talk. Again.

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The Elmo potty is back in our lives and I feel like the manic laughter is even more annoying this time around.

I was still working when Reese was potty trained so I missed a lot, but I am a firm believer that she went when she was ready, and there probably wasn’t much I could do to change that. James had started telling us more and more that he needed to be changed or he had a poop in his diaper, so I took this to mean that he might be ready. I decided one week when we had no plans, and the weather was nice, that I would let James run around for a couple of days diaper free and see what happened.

One of my friends swore by a method that she had used to train her son, who at the time, was almost 3. It’s 2 days of no pants or diaper, and then 5 days of just pants, no underwear, and then they start wearing underwear full-time.

For two days, minus bedtime and nap time and a few quick trips out where he wore a diaper, he ran around the yard, free as a bird, going potty wherever he pleased. Anywhere that was not the potty, that is. Then after that, I started putting him in his shorts with nothing under them, hoping for the best. He still went wherever he wanted, and a few times made it to the potty. He actually had remarkable skills and was sometimes able to poop right out the leg of his shorts, without even soiling the shorts at all. The days where he wore his shorts, but not underwear or diaper is when I think it really started to click. He realized right away that his shorts were wet and didn’t like that at all, and I think that’s when he started to recognize the feeling he got when he had to go.

There are lots of messes with this method. We stayed outside as much as possible but I still felt like I was constantly cleaning up messes for the first two days. I tried to keep James out of the one carpeted room we have, but that was his preferred place for number 2’s. What makes it even harder is that whenever he was distracted (i.e. watching TV), he would go without even noticing it. So, you really have to follow your kid around all day and can’t even leave them for a minute. This method also requires lots of wine at night so be ready.

Now, two weeks later, he is in underwear for most of the day and today is the first day we took him out with underwear. I do have to sit him on the potty every now and then because he doesn’t always tell me. So if it seems like it has been a while since he went, I will sit him down and see if he has to go. He wears diapers whenever he is sleeping, and he still has accidents, and struggles with going #2 for sure. I’m pretty sure that he holds in #2 until he is in a diaper. Then he can really let loose.

I forgot to mention that anytime James went in the potty, he got an M&M. This is a sure-fire way to get my kids to do anything. I would give Reese an M&M too, so she was super invested in James’s success.

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Hello Fresh

Dinnertime is something I dread. I like cooking, but I don’t love the planning. I’ve never been good at meal planning. Half the time I don’t think about dinner until 5 PM, then realize I don’t have the ingredients and don’t have the time or the energy to go to the store, and so it’s frozen pizza again.

A couple of weeks ago Groupon was offering a deal from HelloFresh– 4 meals for 2  for $45 (Groupon value of $89.) I rarely buy Groupons but I was VERY excited about this deal. There would be no dinnertime dread for almost a week.

My Groupon was only good for the Classic box, but a Family Box and a Veggie Box are also available. Once you choose the box you want, you can then choose how many meals you want a week, the serving size for each meal (2 or 4 people), and then the particular meals that you want (6 meals are offered and they change weekly.) Then they deliver everything you will need to make your meals right to your door.

I loved, loved, loved getting the box. I got butterflies when I saw this sitting on my doorstep.

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The box held 4 smaller boxes which contained the ingredients for each meal, instructions for preparation, and nutritional info. First off, the quality of the ingredients was exceptional (and this is where I was skeptical.) I mean they managed to send me fresh shrimp, a perfectly ripe avocado and a perfectly ripe mango. The instructions were straight forward, easy to follow, and no meal required a ton of preparation or long cook times. According to the directions, most meals averaged around 40 minutes for prep and cooking, and this was about how long it took for me.

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One other thing I had been skeptical about was the size of the meals, especially after seeing the size of the proteins. We eat big. But, it turns out that my eyes were bigger than my stomach and we both felt satisfied with every meal.

The meals were SO good. We loved all of them. Preparing the meals was actually enjoyable. I had everything I needed!  In the right amounts! Delivered right to me!  And now I have the instructions on how to make the meals so I can do it myself anytime. Woot!

If the subscriptions were a little bit less expensive, or if I still worked outside of the home, I would definitely consider using HelloFresh regularly. For us, it doesn’t fit into our budget right now, but I don’t think the quality of the meals or the convenience can be beat. Plus the fact that I am preparing the meals myself, so I still know what we are eating, and don’t have to guess when it was made or what exactly it contains.

Plus, if these people are using it, you know it’s legit.

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Sidenote: No, my kids would not eat any of the meals, but there is a Family Box available which is supposed to be more kid friendly. So, yes, I was preparing another meal for kids on top of our HelloFresh meal, but that would be happening anyway.

Sidenote 2: I really thought I pulled one over on Jamie Oliver by keeping the recipes and making them myself, but it turns out you can download all of the recipes from the website, for free, without even buying a subscription!

Fitness Blender

Since the holiday face stuffing has now concluded, here is a post about fitness.

Fitness Blender is now my favorite way to work out. I have always been a fan of working out at home. With two kids, and winter upon us, it is really the only way I can get it done these days.

I read about Fitness Blender in Self magazine earlier this year, and before I went to Mexico I purchased a 5 day workout plan. Since then, I have been hooked.

The site has hundreds of free videos with all different types of workouts, for all different levels. The best part about the site is that you can buy workout plans (relatively cheap, the one I got was $5.99) which will give you a workout to do every day for a specific period of time (1 week, 4 weeks, 8 weeks etc.) This was attractive to me because I always found myself getting stuck in a rut; I would get into a certain type of exercise and do it all the time. Not only would it get boring, but my body never seemed to changed because I was just working the same muscles over and over again.  You can access the videos that make up a workout program without purchasing the plan, but the plan shows you how to put them together, in order, so that you work out your entire body while avoiding injury and repetition.

The videos can be searched by length of time, calorie burn, type of exercise, difficulty level, equipment needed etc. It’s convenient and even if I only have 10 minutes to work out, I can find something to do. Also, the videos are seriously challenging. I have used other sites where the workouts labeled “most difficult” didn’t always feel hard enough to warrant my only workout for the day. Not so, with this site. The most difficult videos left me feeling as tired as  I would have after running 5 or 6 miles, and I felt like that was all I needed to do all day.

These are the best free workout videos I have found online so far and that’s why I am sharing, I wasn’t asked to write about this site and I wasn’t given any free stuff, promise!