I’m Still Alive & Potty Training Woes

Sorry for the absence, I don’t know, sometimes I just cannot blog to save my life, and that’s how it’s been. Nothing in particular stopping me, just busyness and lack of motivation! Over the past few weeks, we’ve been enjoying summer time. The best part about the kids not being in preschool is obviously not having to wake up as early. Only, oh yeah, my kids still wake up early. At least I don’t have to drag them out the door quite so fast, though! Trevor is probably way ready for summer to end, however, since he now has the boys ALL day on his off days (two out of three days). They are very, very hyper children. They are in motion ALL OF THE TIME and climb everything. Including their father and the furniture (see below for evidence).

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Knox’s school situation is still up in the air. I believe we’re going to do public school but choose a different transitional program than the initial one that was recommended. I just didn’t feel good about it, so we are going to check out some other options in the next week or so, then call a new IEP meeting to nail down details. It still makes me want to have a heart attack to think about him going to kindergarten, but it’s a milestone he has to reach, so that’s that.

We are in the throes of potty training both kids, and KILL ME NOW over that. Knox is five and still not potty trained. He will pee every single time you take him to the potty but has yet to go #2 on the toilet. He also takes no initiative to go on his own, which is just awesome. Brody is three and needs to be potty trained by the fall. He, on the other hand, has already conquered going #2 on the toilet (last week!!), and I think he’ll be significantly easier. We are using jumbo M&Ms as an incentive, but it seems that just using Pull-Ups isn’t going to work-  I think we’re going to have to go full-out big boy underwear until it clicks for him. I just love having my kids pee all over the house and change their clothes 40 times a day. LOVE. IT. The other week, I had Knox in regular underwear and even though he insisted that he didn’t need to pee, he decided to do so all over the couch. I know he did it out of spite because 1) he had just peed five minutes before and 2) he was livid that I took off his Pull-ups and made him wear big underwear. I’d say “Knox, let’s wear big boy underwear!” He’s say “No, little underwear.” That kid is a mess.

I will literally pay someone $1,000 to come to my house and potty train my kids for me. Like, check in my hand, I’ll write it (but don’t tell Trevor).  Why isn’t this a thing? There should be professional potty training people- I bet they’d have a booming business. I, for one, would sign up in approximately one second within finding out about them.

So, hit me with your potty training wisdom- how the heck do you do this without losing your mind??

On Not-So-Alone Time

So after about five days on vacation alone, Trevor and I caved. We missed the boys and really wanted them to experience the beach (it has been over two years since they’ve been), so we called my mom and stepdad. They offered to drive the boys down, and since we were using their condo, they stayed, too. We had two nights with the whole crew, and we are so glad we made that decision. Knox and  Brody were THRILLED by the beach. Knox had been talking about it non-stop after my mom told him they were going, so as soon as they got there, we had to take a trip downstairs. Knox could not stop smiling! Brody kept saying “Wow! Look at that BIG ocean!!!” Here are one billion pictures of our trip. Starting off with when the kids first arrived. Brody was so excited to take his “bucket da beach!”IMG_1948 IMG_1952 IMG_1962 IMG_1967 IMG_1971 IMG_1977 IMG_1980

After they checked out the beach, we went to Broadway at the Beach, which has lots of fun things, including ducks, which my kids tailed the whole time. We grabbed some Ben & Jerry’s ice cream (Brody ate his, Knox held his), then, we visited the Ripley’s Aquarium, which was fun and a very wet experience. You can touch stingrays and sharks, and Knox made sure that he participated in everything that involved water. And yes, I nearly died when he tried to put his face in the water with the horseshoe crabs.

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That evening, we went back to the beach for a longer experience, and the boys ended up sandy, wet and very happy! They laughed, ran and had a wonderful time. We hadn’t planned on actually getting into the water and digging in the sand until the next day, but obviously, kids don’t care about plans.

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The next morning, we got ready for a full day on the beach. Knox LOVED the ocean and was having a great time with me in the little waves. Then, Trevor came and did what dads do: too deep, too soon. He took Knox into deeper water where he was promptly hit in the face by a wave and declared “no ocean!” He then retired to the sand. Brody started cautious, then ended up loving the waves. He’d say “look! Here comes another ocean!!” every time a new wave came towards us. It was precious. We stayed knee-deep and he was very content and happy there. After a while, we move to the pool so they could swim.

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This was the entire time. Nothing but boys jumping into the pool. We didn’t put Knox’s puddle jumper on, and he was swimming all over the place like a little fish. No swim lessons ever, just a natural love for the water like his dad.

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That night, we went to dinner then to a gigantic ferris wheel that was about 20 stories high. The kids loved it.

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This picture and Knox’s cheese face. I die.

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The kids saw minions at Build-a-Bear and Gigi, being herself, HAD to get them each one. So we went back to Broadway to build a minion. Knox was furious- he wanted the pre-made minion and did not understand why he was being given a limp and empty minion shell. He freaked out a little bit and Trevor had to take him outside to calm down. He finally chilled out and came back inside to participate in the minion-building process.

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We left the next morning. On our way out, we stopped for brunch. DISASTER. Brody’s bacon was broken. Heavens to Betsy, that is UNACCEPTABLE brunch people. Then, I had the audacity to put syrup on his pancake. THE NERVE!!! Trevor had to actually walk him outside to relax- he was hysterical. Then, I quit the day. After ten minutes on the road, Knox started freaking out, crying. Finally, we figured out that he had to pee. He is not potty trained, yet, so I have no idea why he decided that then and there he needed to use a bathroom when any other day he drives us crazy and pees in in pull-up. But, we pulled over so he could pee on the side of the road because, well, that’s what happened. Then, five seconds later, Knox was done.

IMG_2220That, in a nutshell, is the tale of our vacation. The End.

On Alone Time

The whole point of Trevor’s and my vacation last week was to get in some good “alone time.” We’ve never gone away together for so long, since our kids came on the scene. We’ve done a weekend away, and the kids have spent the night away for several nights, but never a full week. Since we just did the full-out family vacation situation in September when we went to Disney, we thought “this is our time” and decided to do a week at the beach alone. My parents have a condo at Myrtle Beach (i.e.: FREE), so that was the obvious decision of where to go. I had Knox’s IEP meeting on Monday, so after that, I was in emotional parent mode and not too keen on the idea of leaving my kids for a week (the week prior, I was pretty darn ready, let me be totally transparent). But we did leave, dropping them off at Papa G and Gigi’s house on our way to the beach. Did I cry? You betcha. Couldn’t even help it, I was trying so hard to keep a straight face, and yet, those big fat mama tears oozed their way, despite my best efforts.

But once that car headed down the highway, something amazing happened: conversation. You remember that? You know, where you speak and someone speaks back at you? I know, I know, it may have been years since you’ve had one of those, but try hard to remember the sheer glory of that. I swear to you, our children have a radar. It’s called “my parents are trying to talk to one another? oh heck no, let’s fix that situation” radar. They can be all the way across the house, and if Trevor opens his mouth to speak to me, they’ll materialize out of nowhere and be suddenly shrill and shimmying up our legs. So the entire way down to the beach, we talked. We laughed. We reconnected. We were married people for two hours. It was amazing. It was then we knew just how badly we needed this time away, time to just be “Trevor and Jessica” and only be with each other.

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We developed a new vacation-life schedule immediately. It involved waking up naturally (to the sound of the ocean through our open door) and eating our simple breakfast on the balcony while reading the Bible. Then, after an hour or so, we’d get ready for the beach and head downstairs. We’d lay by the beach for a good six hours (taking a quick sandwich break at lunchtime), reading, listening to music and relaxing. Then, we’d head back inside, clean ourselves up and prep dinner. Even though we were on vacation, that wasn’t an excuse to eat badly, so we grocery shopped and cooked 90% of our meals at the condo. This was 1) healthier 2) tasted better and 3) cheaper. That’s a win-win-win in my book.

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Our cable and internet were both out, and normally, this would cause me to FREAK OUT because how on Earth can I stay connected to the universe living like a cave person, so oblivious to everything?!! Then, we realized, this is a huge blessing. We had already resolved not to watch TV, and now, we couldn’t even cheat, so yay. We took lots of walks on the beach in the evenings, just talking. The first night, we had the amazing experience with the woman on the beach that I blogged about last week. Coolest thing EVER. It felt like God reaffirming my faith and purpose, and I love that so many have been encouraged by it. When we’d get back to the condo, every night, we played games- Uno, Phase 10, Pass the Pigs (so glad we brought those along!) and laughed and talked.  It was so much fun.

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We did all of these things, visited local shops, ate out twice and even {GASP!} saw a movie (I swear, first movie I’ve seen in two years… Pitch Perfect 2, of course) and just did whatever we wanted. We had to eat some seafood.

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Of course, after a whole five minutes at the beach, we started talking about our kids. As much as we enjoyed our alone time, we couldn’t quit thinking about those boys we had left at home. It got pretty intense after five days, so we did what any parental schmucks would do: decided to bring them to the beach for our last two days of vacation.

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I’ll talk more about that portion of our trip later, but I will say this: even though we caved and brought our kids at the end, we desperately needed those five full days alone as husband and wife. I truly believe that the best gift you can give to your children is the example of a happy, sane set of parents that love the Lord and each other. We cannot be the best parents we can be without taking time to spend together so that we can stay connected to each other. It was an amazing gift to be able to have that time alone, away. Before we lost our minds and brought our kids (just kidding. Sort of.).

Look. We are so tan. Yay vacation.

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Moving forward

I’ve shared my love of IEP meetings here, before, but this last one was particularly hard. Monday morning before vacation, I met at Knox’s school to go over his progress from this year and discuss next year’s plans. He’s been at this elementary school since he turned three as a part of their special needs preschool class. He’s been in the same classroom with the same teacher and assistants for two-and-a-half years. Needless to say, I was not looking forward to this meeting!

We discussed the typical things and how well Knox had met (or not met) his goals for the year. It’s never super fun hearing your child talked about in such a clinical manner, but at the same time, there were some awesomely familiar faces around the table that always go to bat for Knox and love him dearly. It was all pretty normal until we started talking about where to send him next year. The past couple IEP meetings, I have not had a hard time because I knew Knox was still going to be in preschool and likely at the same school. This time? Not so much.

I feel like kindergarten is something that most moms have anxiety about, but add to that an Autism diagnosis and a child that can’t voice his own opinion or thoughts well, and you have a recipe for some major mom tears. There’s a new program beginning in our district next year that’s a transitional program for kids with Autism. He’ll be in a small class (about nine kids) that works a lot on communication and social skills, then, he will go to a regular-ed class for a few classes. The idea is to work him up to a full day in a regular kindergarten class. He is going to be using general education curriculum (that’s a praise) since he’s considered on grade-level, academically. hearing a little bit about how things work in transitional programs made my anxiety levels skyrocket. The thought of my kid having to walk down a hallway to another class makes me want to throw up. I brought up my concerns, like Knox’s running away/bolting habit, and hopefully concessions will be made for those types of things. I left the meeting feeling very uneasy and unhappy with the plan. It just doesn’t feel “right.” But I also don’t know what does.

I know this program has what Knox needs, educationally. It’s just so different from what we had hoped for him. We have always planned to homeschool or send him to a private Christian school, so there’s just a lot of change and some things we feel like we can’t control. For a control freak, that’s an uncomfortable place to be. Knox’s well-being is and will always be our primary goal. We still haven’t decided what to do, but that’s the recommendation that was made by the school. I’m trying to focus on the positives here, and the fact that it is a step forward for him because remaining stagnant isn’t a positive thing. But… oh, big change, how lame are thee.

So basically, I was a basket case the second I left the meeting.  I cried all day after the IEP on Monday- I feel so badly for all of those people that accidentally got cried to all day long… and when I got home. It was one of those days that takes every ounce of your energy away. Then, Tuesday was Knox’s last ever day of preschool. Picture me a hot mess by then. I had to write Knox’s teachers “good bye” letters and deliver those, and I could barely look at them for fear of boohooing like a crazy person. My mom picked Knox up from school and reported that every one of his teachers (and she) was crying having to say good bye. Good-byes are the WORST.

Why is having kids so hard? I mean, for real. I’m going to have a little reality vacation this week and pretend like Knox never has to go to school again and can just hang out with me for all of the days. I think I am going to visit the teacher Knox would have in this program tomorrow, accompanied by his preschool teacher from this year (because she is a amazing person who loves our kiddo so much she offered to do this with me) to get a better feel for how his year would go. I’ll be able to see the school, his class, etc. I’m pursuing a couple different ideas, as well, including homeschool and a private school-ish situation. I’ll let you guys know how it goes- please be praying for us as we make this decision!

Because this kid deserves the very best life has to offer

Knox being silly

The Woman on the Beach

Trevor and I arrived on Saturday to the beach for a week alone. It had been an absolutely awful, stressful week. Stressful to the point where I wondered why I hadn’t had an anxiety attack yet. After an afternoon of getting our groceries together and settling into our home for the week, we decided to take a walk down the beach. We walked and talked for a while, then I said that we should sit. So Trevor picked out the perfect spot on a dune, up away from the water and the wet sand. We sat and we talked while the coastal breeze blew our hair all over the place. We talked about how much we miss our kids and all the things they’d love here (because isn’t that pretty much all parents do on vacation alone??). Then we took a selfie- because we did.

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As we were sitting on our dune, talking, this woman sat down in front of us. She was far enough away, that I couldn’t see anything about her, aside from the fact that she was a “she” and was sitting facing the ocean. As Trevor and I talked, I couldn’t stop glancing over at her. Before long, I realized that she was crying. Every now and then, she’d grab her own sleeve and wipe her face. Then and there, an intense need grew in me- I had to talk to this woman. Beyond what I could have ever drummed up on my own, I knew God was prompting me to say something to her. I had to tell her. I immediately told Trevor “we have to talk to her.” He had the reaction typical of a sane person and said “what?!!” I told him “she’s crying. I am supposed to talk to her.” He sat there, obviously about to offer up an excuse, when she stood up. And I jumped. Instead of making an excuse to stay seated and comfortable like I would almost always do, I pursued this person, step after step, a woman compelled. I said “ma’am??” she glanced and kept walking (poor girl, probably thought I was nuts). Then I said “Ma’am??” again and she stopped. I said, “I know this is weird, but I just had to tell you that you are not alone. God is with you in this.” I told her the very words that filled my head and that I knew were for her. Her face just exploded in a smile and she said, “that is so cool!” and laughed. Then she said “So I take it you’re a believer?” I said “yes, I am.” Then she told us, “ I am called to ministry. I was just sitting here- I am writing an online bible study for the fall- and I just said ‘God, please just speak to me.’ That is so cool,” she laughed, as tears welled up in her eyes, and I knew that right then, I did exactly what I was supposed to do. Thank you, Jesus, that I didn’t ignore that still small voice and the forceful push of a God that loves me, you and that woman crying on the beach. Our God is huge. He is amazing. And his attention to detail blows my mind. Never doubt that you can be a part of something bigger than yourself.

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