Friday, June 29, 2012

To Pre-school...and Be-yooooonnnnd...

A few days after Little G's graduation ceremony my husband and I met with the director of the program to go over Little G's evaluation.  It was a tear filled meeting - tears of joy for how well he has done and how much he has changed over the course of just six months; and tears of sadness that he will be leaving this amazingly nurturing environment.

The school director told us that the most important thing to know about our son is that he needs nurturing.  He is a very sensitive child and is incredibly intuitive.  He knows when things are off, or when we are angry or upset and he feeds off of it.  She gave the example that just a week prior she had been harried getting some things done just before coming down to meet the children.  She obviously took a breath and greeted each child with a smile, but Little G looked right at her, took her hand and asked her if she was ok.

She described to us that the hardest thing that we needed to keep in mind with Little G was the fine line between being stern and being angry.  Because now that he is entering his three's (and the period of rebelling and button pushing that is synonymous with the age) we will have to be extra careful to not take his actions personally and thus get angry.  Rather, we will need to firmly redirect him and move on.

This feedback is so invaluable to me.  I have always described Little G as a social baby - meaning, we always did so much better out in public than when on our own.  I have also always known that we were very similar and considered that to be the number one reason why we butt heads - we are both very independent and very stubborn.  But while I knew he was also a loving and sensitive child, it never dawned on me to consider my own experiences with being an intuitive and emotional person.  When someone feels bad, I feel awful.  If Little G is just like me, but still growing into himself, than no wonder he has acted the way he has acted whenever things have boiled over and I have gotten angry;  we have essentially fed off each other until combustion in that scenario.

Suddenly, and frustratingly three whole years after jumping into the water, this parenting thing is starting to make a little more sense.  I only wish I had had this clarity when Little G was 18-21 months old and I was newly pregnant with his sister.  THAT was an awful period of time - the worst so far.  But because I was new to being a parent, and because I didn't have a full three years of observing Little G under my belt, I traipsed along cluelessly just praying for it to get better.

Now I know more about my son, his personality, his spirit.  Now I know more about my mothering, my weaknesses, my intuition.  Now it is time to move on to the next phase in his little life -- to graduate -- knowing more than in the past, taking the time to celebrate the moment and anticipating what lies in our future.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Little G's a Graduate

I have to say, until last week, I was an adamant believer that graduation ceremonies should be reserved for 8th grade and up.  This was based solely on the fact that I didn't graduate officially from anything myself until 8th grade.

But last week, on the same day I broke my ankle, Little G's school held a graduation ceremony for all of the children who were not coming back in the fall.  Children may attend the school until they enter Boston Public School at age 4 or 5, but we plan to send Little G to a private Montessori school next year that will take him through 8th grade.  Thus, it was time for him to graduate.

I was a mess.

To know how much this opportunity - to have Little G attend the Montessori based program he has been in since January - has meant to us, I would have to describe the entire situation that occurred last December with his old day care and I refuse to air that out over the internet so you just have to trust me that his old situation was fine, but it was imperative that he move on and the circumstances surrounding the situation were far and away some of the most stressful we have encountered since he was born.

At the ceremony, the children showed some of the things that they have been working on.  Two of the children had expressed an interest in ballerinas and princesses and fairies, so they worked with the teachers and prepared a choreographed routine to the Nutcracker's Sugar Plum Fairies dance.  Another of the children had been drawn to the piano they keep in the room, so they had encouraged her to learn a piece and play it for us.  My jaw hit the floor as this little 4 year old played the first two stanza's of the Alphabet Song in front of twenty-some odd people.

One of the fun activities they have been working on was taking a collection of stuffed, fabric organs and placing them on an apron that one of the teachers wore that extended down the the front and back. This explains why the other day when Little G was telling us the food he was eating was 'yummy in his tummy' he then exclaimed, "and in my (sic) Snufafalagous!!".  "Esophagus?", I asked incredulously.  "Yeah!  My SOPHAGUS!!", he shouted!

We were treated to several different performances and examples of the work they have been doing while at the school and then it was time for the graduation.  Little G proudly clasped his Mortarboard to his head and gleefully collected his diploma and hugs.  Because at this age, graduation also includes hugs.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The rhododendron bush should recover nicely...

...but I've been sentenced to two weeks in a boot.

Let me set the scene for you.  

I had walked to Little G's school on Friday with him running along ahead of me as I pushed the Ladybug in the stroller.  I dropped him off and had every intention of taking a walk in the arboretum with two of the other moms.  Instead, I crouched down to give Little G a kiss and a high five goodbye and as I was getting up, I lost my footing and my ankle collapsed and I heard it snap.  Of course, I can't do anything half-assed, so I continued to stumble towards a small step that separates the back yard where Little G was from the drop off area.  I momentarily saw a fence post that I could catch myself on and grabbed for it realizing too late that it was actually a garden tool that wasn't going to hold my weight one bit.  So instead of stopping myself and being able to assess the damage to my foot, I instead went hurtling face first down the step and landed with my head in a rhododendron bush, my ass in the air and my foot waggling behind me.

How the other moms standing around didn't laugh hysterically is beyond me.  I mean, imagine chatting with someone being relatively aware that there is someone else at least 20 feet away and then in an instant looking up to see them come crashing head first into a bush at your feet.

Graceful, I am not.

Poor Little G came over right away and wanted to know why I was in a bush.  He saw I was crying and exclaimed, "You're not a baby!!" -- remind me to force him to listen to "It's Alright to Cry" from the Free to Be You and Me Album on repeat until he stops associating crying with babies.  Then he realized I was bleeding (somehow I got a huge gash on my arm...not sure if it was the bush fighting back or something else along the way) and he started to cry.  So someone quickly led him away and explained I had been looking for snails.

Thankfully, one of the moms had dropped off her son and he is still on the smaller side and in a convertible seat in her car.  So after I cleaned out my wound we loaded up the stroller in the back of her car and then she drove the Ladybug and I home.  She had to head to work and the Ladybug needed to go down for a nap, so I got her upstairs and plopped on my bed and started texting and calling people -- my husband was in Indianapolis for the day so he really couldn't help.

You know the saying, "it takes a village"?  Yeah...that apparently applies to taking care of me as well.

I was smart enough to know that going to the emergency room in the middle of a heat wave was not a great idea, so I decided to call the orthopedist from the last time this happened.  They weren't available and not necessarily helpful so I called my primary physician for another referral.  That referral ALSO wasn't available, but they at least had another referral.  SIX REFERRALS later, I found myself with a 10:30am appointment to see an orthopedist a half hour drive away...and it was 9:45am.  EEP!

Thankfully, I had been in contact with some neighbors and a friend that was off work that day to head to a wedding (who had unfortunately already left town).  The friend suggested that I call my kids' Godfather because he's a teacher and was off school!  SCORE!  He promised to show up ASAP.  My neighbor was home with her two children, so they came over and stayed with the Ladybug until she woke up while the kids' Godfather showed up and took me to the appointment. 

It was exactly what I suspected.  The same injury as last time.  Broken, but not in the traditional sense...more like I sprained it so severely that I pulled a chip of bone off.  Two weeks in a boot, six weeks in a brace and physical therapy is the prescription.

I got my boot and my crutches and was home by 12:05!  Take THAT emergency room!!

Of course, THIS time even though Little G has school (though today is his last day for the summer) I have the Ladybug around, so I had to call up the reserves.  Currently my mom is downstairs while the Ladybug naps.  Upon reflection, my husband and I realized that there was no way I could safely carry Ladybug up and down the stairs with the boot on, so we flew my mom up here and she'll be here until the day after the 4th.

So those are the graceful enterprises I've been up to lately...anyone else care to share their exploits in Rhododendron care?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Potty training tips for the cynical and those of bad attitude

As a supplement to my last post about Little G's potty training success, I offer you these (admittedly cynical) tips on potty training.  You can find basic potty training tips anywhere, but these gems are all share with you.  Do with them as you please.

  1. Don’t always read on the potty or you will be forced to read every time. Often your child will have somehow procured the world’s longest book, perhaps an entire anthology of Winnie the Pooh, and will then require you to read it every. single. time.
  2. This one you have to plan for before actually giving birth:Wwhen in the hospital having your lovely baby and your partner is quietly and efficiently stealing everything in the room, make sure they grab the thick, waterproof pad from under you (if we’re picky, see if they can get two). This will GREATLY come in handy when you are potty training at night/during naps. Even if you have a waterproof mattress pad, getting that thing off a twin sized bed and changed in the middle of the night is a pain in the arse…the waterproof pad from the hospital? Easy peasy. Pun not intended.
  3. Be aware that your child may have very. specific. preferences on what is on his/her underwear and where it is. Most underwear have the pictures blazoned along the rear of the pants…which makes a kid who loves Thomas (or Lighting McQueen, Tinkerbell, Princesses, My Little Pony, whom/whatever) want to wear the underwear backwards regardless of discomfort.
  4. For those NOIWANTTODOITMYSELF!!! kids, a good tip for teaching them to pull down/up their pants/underwear is to put one hand by their belly button and one by their butt and push down or pull up. (learned that from a developmental specialist and it totally worked for our Mr. Independent)
  5. Wiping poop from one’s butt is apparently the most difficult thing on the planet for a toddler/preschooler to master. It’s actually pretty hard for a parent to master too since they are no longer lying on a flat surface with everything spread and ready to wipe. Invest in more diaper cream, because there will be a rash.
That’s all for now…but believe me…there’s more.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Oh, the Potty!

We've been potty training around here for over a year.

I didn't want it to be that way.  I wanted to wait until he was three.  Because that's when my nephew was potty trained.  And because I didn't think our son was ready and I trusted that when he was, he would do it.

Unfortunately, everyone at his old daycare started potty training, so we were included by default and it's been over a year of potty talk, potty books, potty mouthing, potty commenting (LOOKATTHATINTHEPOTTYMOMMYYYYYYYY!!), and potty missing.

Finally, I can say we are trained.  Ok...I can't really say that.  It depends on your definition of 'trained'.    I thought potty trained was defined by no longer needing to be reminded to go potty and just going on your own accord and not having any accidents during the day or at night.

A year into it, I am defining potty trained as able to be out of the house and more than 40 minutes from home for an entire day without any back up underwear or the potty seat.

Thus, as of yesterday, we are trained.

It didn't happen overnight.  Clearly.

We just talked about and read about the potty a lot leading up to this past Christmas when Santa took all the large diapers (he had to leave the baby diapers for The Ladybug [THANK YOU SANTA!]) and left brand new, sparkling, Thomas underwear.  Ok...they didn't sparkle...but Little G's eyes did when he saw them, so that counts.

We spent a week naked at our house.  Um.  Just the toddler, naked, that is. My mom was visiting us, which made it a bit cramped since our house is pretty small and we basically quarantined us for a week.  Over the course of the week, we would try to make him sit on the potty every twenty minutes, hydrating him as much as we could.  He quickly realized two things 1) he didn't want to pee on himself and 2) drinking anything made him have to pee.  Coupled with his number one desire to NEVER do what the parents want...NEVER NEVER NEVER...he figured out that if he refused to drink, than he didn't have to pee.

The kid would go all morning, without peeing no matter how many times he sat on the potty and then it would be nap time and we would use a pull up in which he would pee immediately. (The silver lining being that once we finally got him trained, that would mean we had a kid who could go all morning and not have to pee every hour.) Finally, we did what every nurturing parent would do...we stuck him on the potty and put his hand in a bowl of warm water like he was drunk jock at a frat party.

It worked...until the next time -- when splashing the warm water became our focus.

Eventually, over the course of the week, he 'got' it.

The crazy-great thing was that very shortly after our potty-training boot camp, he started telling us when he had to poop and then running for the potty.  That was all sorts of awesome because I can NOT tell you how I promised myself I would neeeeever wipe poop off of a kid bigger than a toddler and then of course had a kid who was bigger than a 4 year old at the age of two and a half.

Anyway, as with everything with most kids, there never really is a specific cut off or definitive moment that developmental milestones happen.  I actually wrote about this exact concept back when Little G was still little: Motherhood Myths. It's been five months since our boot camp and he's been progressing.   My husband was willing to wave the 'potty trained' flag a couple of months ago, but I wasn't so sure.

But yesterday, I ended up 40 minutes from our house with a days worth of activities planned and the realization that my carefully packed potty bag, complete with seat and two changes of clothes in plastic bags was still hanging on the door of our bathroom.  Oops.  I looked at Little G and said, "Little G, Mommy made a mistake and left our potty seat and your extra clothes all the way at home so we are going to have to be extra careful about listening to our bodies so we know when we have to pee."

And we did it!  Granted, I had to suggest, and sometimes insist, that we go the the bathroom. But he sat on big toilet seats, he peed standing up (which he oddly has an aversion to), he even told me when he had to poop.

So I'm calling it.  We're potty trained. Oh yeah...and Little G is too.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Running along

We run to school.  We leave our house and Little G holds the door for us.  He expectantly unlatches the gate and then we're off.  People cringe when they see him running full force to the corner of the street, and breathe a sigh of relief when he turns the corner without skipping a beat.

The Ladybug's face shines up at me from her stroller while we race down the hill toward the 'big street', stopping at every driveway now to see if there's a car coming.

"Nope, nobody coming!" he sings.

Down to the corner by the bus stop - he presses the button for the crosswalk which doesn't respond until I catch up and actually press the stiff button all the way.

Holding hands, we cross and continue along the busy, loud street.  Cars, buses, trucks of every kind from mail to trash to funny looking ones for picking cherries.  We wave to everyone we pass.  We say 'hello'.  There is an Indian family that waits for the city bus at the next corner that we see every day and say, 'hi' to.

Today they weren't there.

Today, there was an older man that we have never seen beckoning for us to come closer...which I couldn't stop us from doing because we were walking in that direction.

Today, as we got closer, the older man squatted down blocking almost the entire sidewalk to get a hug from Little G who was careening in his direction.

Today, I said loudly and sternly, "NO.  No hugs.  No hugs."

The spirit of the morning changed for just a moment.  I could hear the quiet between the squeals of bus brakes and roar of dump trucks.  I could anticipate that man's clothing touching the skin of my little boy.

Today, Little G stopped before the man and looked at him warily and then diverted his path completely around him, watching him all the way.

The man mumbled, "why?" and as I passed I said, "because we do not hug strangers on the street."

Suddenly, a voice from a bright red pickup truck stopped in traffic, gleefully shouted hello to us.  Our neighbor, Carlos.  Little G jumped and pointed and shouted back to him and waved joyfully as we continued our run to school.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Saving 3000 diapers from the landfill...a gDiaper success story

A few weeks ago, I posted the picture above on my instagram feed and said: From compost to garden in 2 yrs -- saved over 3k diapers from landfill thanks to 

Well, Jason, one of the founders of gDiapers contacted me and asked me to share our story with him and so I decided to blog about it here.

I first heard of gDiapers back in 2008, before I was pregnant with my son who is about to turn three.  I believe I saw them in a Gaiam catalog at my mother-in-law's house and I immediately was taken by how great they were, since they provided a happy medium between cloth and disposables.

Fast forward to the end of 2008 when I was pregnant with my son, and after a lot of research, I decided that we would go the gDiaper route.  My son was born on 07-08-09 and I was petrified to use the diapers at first because it just seemed like the logistics were beyond my capabilities.  But we pulled off the proverbial bandaid when he was just 9 days old because his umbilical cord fell off.  The first day of use was so easy; I couldn't believe I had ever been even remotely concerned about it (though I should mention that I realized quickly that everyone involved needed to be VERY aware of how to flush a diaper since my husband came home and just plopped one in the toilet upstairs and flushed -- which may or may not have resulted in an overflowing toilet and water raining down through the pot lights in my kitchen below.  Oops.)  But aside from that small misstep, the gDiapers were super easy to use.  However, what I was still concerned about in the back of my head was composting...again, I couldn't wrap my mind around it, so I just avoided it.

After a couple of months of flushing EVERY diaper (which, with a newborn is A LOT of flushes) we realized that our water bill had gone up significantly.  So, we decided to start composting.  It was fall, and not the idea time to start a compost pile, but we figured it was worth a shot so we just went for it.  Our town provides a basic compost bin at a minimal cost, but we knew we wanted the bins to be where the sun could hit them which meant being very close to our driveway and street, based on how our property is set up, so we opted for something a bit more attractive.  From that moment on, we composted everything:  kitchen scraps, garden waste, lawn clippings, leaves and gDiapers (the wet ones only, of course) -- if it was compostable, we did everything we could to get it in the bin.  

Because we started in the fall, the compost never really had a chance to get to the right temperature before it got covered with snow.  It quickly filled up, but surprisingly, every time we thought there was no way we could ever fit anything in the composter again, we would open it up and it would have compacted.  Over the winter, we just cleared the top of it of snow (so we could fill it) and went from there...there were a LOT of diapers in there.  I will be completely honest -- we didn't compost every pee diaper -- if I was out and about, I didn't save them to bring home.   But we did flush every poopy diaper.

In the spring, we started to clear out our gardens and added a lot more yard waste which brought the green vs. brown levels back to a more normal level.  We just kept doing what we were doing and the compost kept compacting and we kept adding to it and every once in a while my husband would turn it by taking a shovel and moving it over a spot.  

(turning the compost)

(first attempt at using the compost, the compost was pretty it wasn't 'gold' yet - here's the layer we put down under the compost from the nursery)

The first time we actually used all of the compost was in the late spring of 2010 - it had not all turned to 'gold', but we were able to use it as the base for our new raised vegetable bed and then we added compost from a local nursery to the top of it.  That year, we had a HUGE crop of vegetables.

Over the next year, my son started daycare and unfortunately, though they allowed us to use the gDiapers, they did not save them to compost, so I know that those ended up in the landfill.  Since they decompose much faster than paper diapers, I was at least pleased to know that we were doing the best we could.  

Our son stopped using gDiapers in the Fall of 2011 because he was potty training and his daycare required pull-ups.  At home, he was in underwear.  But our daughter was born on October 27, 2011 and so we started the cycle all over again.  This spring, we opened up the compost bin and spread out the dirt in our vegetable garden for the second time.  We had bought a second compost bin and allowed the original one to sit for an entire year.  When we opened up the bin to spread it, it was beautiful, perfect dirt...nothing short of amazing!!  And really, totally easy.  I know I have waxed on and on about this now for a bazillion words, but really, the effort is minimal and the impact is amazing.

 (second compost pile that sat for a year turned into perfect dirt!!)

Our son wore gDiapers for 2.5 years.  Averaging around 1900 diapers the first year and then around 1000 for the second year (since he was in daycare two days a week) - that's almost 3000 diapers saved from the landfill by either composting or flushing (the poopy ones).  Even with the lack of cooperation from his daycare program, that's still a big impact!!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Good nights

On a good night, he gives me a big hug; no a bigger one.

On a good night, his arms wrap around me tightly.

On a good night, he smells like dirt and soap.

On a good night, his lashes blink tiredly.

On a good night, he repeats, "have a good night, mommy".

On a good night, he reads on his own after we leave until his light goes out.

On a good night, he giggles to himself at the flying pig and the books coming out of the toaster and the girl licking a hot air balloon.

On a good night, he sings to his trains.

On a good night, he whispers, "I love YOU, mommy".

Good night, Little G.

Good night.