Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Decider gets potty trained.

I was about to call this post "Potty training The Decider" but, let's be honest. There's not a lot of training going on with this child. He does what he wants when he wants and that's that. Sometimes this gets him in trouble, sure, but for the most part, it works out great.

At first, I was a little overwhelmed by the idea of potty training Finn. It was so freakishly easy with Liam that I had absolutely no idea where to start. Should I just do what I did before - run out of diapers one day and never ever buy them again - or admit that that was beginners luck? I mean, how could a child who wakes up with a soaking wet diaper every single morning suddenly be expected to hold it all through the night?

Since I had no idea how to answer that, we just kept on buying diapers for nighttime and number twos (pooping has always been such a process for Finn - bless his heart - that I didn't want to make it any harder on him than it already was). But instead of buying them in bulk at Costco, we started buying them at the grocery store. Sure they were more expensive and less convenient but it made us feel so optimistic. These are the last 20 diapers we will ever need to buy!

After half a dozen "last" last minute diaper runs, we threw in the towel and stocked up at Costco last week. We know we can't force Finn to do something before he's ready so what else could we do. Here's 180 diapers, kid. Go nuts...

Imagine my surprise when things suddenly took a one eighty. First Finn showed a little interest in using the potty to poop (or, at least, he didn't say no when I suggested it) so we spent most of the day on Tuesday working on it (poor kid). By bedtime he had finally done it. When I told him how proud of him I was he simply said, "I'm proud of myself!" Atta kid.

The next day I was in his room and noticed a diaper on his bed. It was dry but had definitely been worn. (It was next to the pink princess Pull-Up he borrowed from a friend several weeks ago and has slept with ever since - it hasn't been worn, don't worry). I called him in to find out what it was.

"It's my diaper from last night," he said. "I took it off."

"'s dry," I said. "DID YOU KEEP IT DRY ALL NIGHT!?"

He said yes but it sounded more like DUH. Like, "Uh, Mama? Don't you remember last night before bed when you told me that if I wanted to stop wearing diapers forever all I had to do was stop peeing in my sleep? Yeaaaah. I just decided to do that..."

That was a couple nights ago. Guess who's still waking up dry?

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Extra, extra, extra.

I once heard someone describe unschooling as, "saying yes as often as possible." I love this. It goes along with our homeschooling philosophy perfectly. Okay, we don't really have a homeschooling philosophy. If anything, we have an unphilosophy.

{totally unimpressed with the term unschooling, btw...}

Basically I believe learning happens. In classes, sure, but also ALL THE TIME. We learn from books, movies, friends, strangers, conversations, music, observations, nature, art, experiences, each other, ourselves, oh, and don't forget the granddaddy of information overload: The Internet.

The more I say yes to all of that, the more we learn. Sometimes it's a matter of letting my kids do what they want (i.e. me saying yes to them) and other times I drag them into things I have said yes to on their behalf.

The latter was the case yesterday. Neither of my children have ever expressed an interest in film making, acting, set design or anything else movie related (I'm pretty sure they think the characters in movies are actually just like that in real life) but that didn't stop me from saying, "Yes, of course we will be extras in your movie I know absolutely nothing about!"

{still know nothing, btw...}

I mean, the basics of film making might seem like sort of a random thing to learn if you're not actively pursuing a career in the movies or television but it's no different than taking algebra if you're not one of the few people in the world who is actually going to use it.

And besides, as I told Liam when he asked why we were standing around at night getting rained on and being quiet for no good reason, sometimes we do things simply for the experience.

"Okaaaay. So, now that we've experienced it, can we please go home?"

{probably telling his brother how crazy I am...}

I almost convinced myself that saying yes means saying yes so if he wants to go home we should probably do it. For consistency, you know? But I knew that was just the cold, wet, reasonable side of me talking so I told him to just hold his horses, we'd be done soon enough.

Meanwhile, I was freezing and wondering when the heck I was going to learn that there's nothing wrong with asking a few questions before jumping into something. Like yes with clarifications.

When we were finally released (after pretending to walk from here to there a handful of times), we practically skipped to the car. On the way Liam said, "You know, the end of that was way more fun than the beginning." I assumed he meant because at the beginning we were just waiting around and at the end we were actually acting (or, you know, extra-ing) but that wasn't it at all.

He didn't like a single part of the movie making ("they say quiet on the set and then action and then like a second later they say cut. it's crazy!") but toward the end he started to make his own fun. Instead of whining and asking when we could go home, he came out of his shell, realized the kids we'd been hanging out with all night were actually pretty great, and used his prop flashlight for a pretend light saber battle.  

And just like that I was glad I said yes. Because learning that you can't always control your circumstances but you can always control yourself is a HUGE lesson. Way more useful than Algebra or film making, don't you think? 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Head wound, take two.

Every month at homeschool library hour, Mr. Andrew starts the class with the same question, "What is one thing you've learned this month."

As a laid back homeschooler whose son's favorite answer is usually, "it's hard to say..." I would be lying if I said this didn't make me slightly nervous. Please don't say nothing, please don't say nothing, I think as I stare Liam down from across the room with wide crazy eyes and raised eyebrows (my version of The Force) - to make something - anything! - pop into his head.

He always volunteers some sort of an answer and I am usually pleasantly surprised (last month he said something about regrouping and place value!). But I could still do without the pressure.

We had to skip the library today which is a total bummer because Liam had the perfect answer way before it was time for class. He said the most important thing he learned this month was that sometimes little kids know more than big kids.

He was referring, of course, to his little brother. Last night when their friends were over, Finn wanted to play babies while everyone else wanted to wrestle. Wrestling won but just a few minutes later, Liam lost. He got body slammed left temple first into his head board just as Bill was walking into the room. "Um, guys?" he said calmly. "I think I'm bleeding..."

Boy, was he right! Heads are the worst, aren't they? They just bleed and bleed. It was just like the time Finn busted his head open at the ice cream shop. A small but deep cut that was just so much more open than I'm used to seeing.

With Finn, we rushed him off to Vanderbilt's Children's Hospital right away where we stayed for SEVEN HOURS waiting for three stitches. I regretted the trip even before we got our bill (more than a THOUSAND dollars...).

So this time, I was prepared to wait and see before rushing off to the hospital. We cleaned Liam up, closed the would with a tight bandaid and took the party down about ten notches. While the kids watched Star Wars, Bill and I Googled head wounds and decided that waiting until we could call the pediatrician's office this morning was perfectly reasonable.

When I called at 9 am sharp to make an appointment, they were slightly more anxious about it than I was expecting. What time did it happen? How soon can you be here? I started to worry that I had made the wrong call.

But everything turned out to be FINE. When the nurse took off his bandaid, we saw that the wound had already started to heal itself (Liam wouldn't let me take the bandaid off until we were safe inside the doctor's office - taking the first one off "hurt worse than hitting his head in the first place!"). The doctor used a little Derma Bond to glue him back together and within a few minutes we were good to go.

Thank GOD he's still pretty!

SO much better than spending the night at the hospital. I'll have to tell Mr. Andrew that I learned something useful this month too!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Lego maniac.

Almost eight years have passed since we became parents and until very recently we have somehow managed to avoid owning Legos. It's not that I don't think they're awesome - it's just that I know myself too well to think I could handle so many teeny tiny pieces. We're not a complete disaster when it comes to organizing, but if there's something small/important, I can pretty much guarantee you it will go missing.

I often catch myself "cleaning" by just throwing away all the little bits and pieces I find on the floor - marker lids, marbles, puzzle pieces...whatever the boys happened to gloss over - and nothing ever seems to be missed. The boys make substitutions without drama and new ideas often spring up from not being able to do something the way it was supposed to be done.

Even when we do have all the right pieces (a miracle) we often go out of our way to mess things up for ourselves. We might really enjoy playing a game by the rules one day and then the very next day use half the cards for throwing stars and the game pieces to gang up on some bad guys.

I've always been more than fine with this as I believe not doing things the way you're supposed to is a great way to foster creativity (plus, you know, I'm kinda lazy). It's why I prefer random objects over carefully thought out toys and very rarely replace batteries (once they die I'm like, "Oh, good, now you can figure out how to play with this thing..."). Give my boys some fabric, a cardboard box and a stick and they're pretty much good to go.

(a gameshow set Liam built...they're playing with friends right now!)

Several months ago we were visiting my sister's family when her husband brought out one of the Lego sets he had as a kid (his mom saved them all). The fact that they still had ALL the pieces nearly gave me chest pain. I mean, I really didn't understand how that was even possible! But after watching Liam and his uncle sit together for over an hour, reading instructions, working together and building this amazing Lego firetruck, I was starting to see that it might be a good thing to figure out.

It's a good thing, too. Because a few days later Liam started a Lego building class at his tutorial and decided he was ready to get into Legos. His reasoning? A lot of kids are into Mario like he is but even more kids are into Legos. If he was into Legos and Mario, he would probably have something in common with almost every kid in the world.

Plus, you know, Legos are awesome.

So we bit the bullet and bought a couple sets for Christmas. Finn opened one up on Christmas Eve to get out the guys (his favorite part) and then we sort of lost track of the box until yesterday when we decided that putting it together would be the best way to spend a cold and stormy afternoon.

I found some of the pieces were still in the bags (phew!) while others were loose in the box or on the floor in the boys' room or under the Christmas tree (we almost got it taken down...). My heart sank. We'd never even put it together once and already I knew we'd be missing pieces. Liam assured me that we could just wing it if that happened so we forged ahead undeterred.

Fifty-four steps and a couple hours later, my mind was blown. We had EVERY. SINGLE. PIECE! And, we had a totally PERFECT, super impressive Lego Star Wars Rancor Pit (or something like that). With moving parts and secret compartments! Just like the one on the box!!

I couldn't have been more proud if we had come up with the idea all on our own. Which is exactly what Finn and I did today while Liam was at school. We built a Ninjago-ish palace sort of thing that looked a tiny bit like the one on the box and made a perfectly fine place for our good guys to hang out.

I'm hooked. Instructions and all the pieces or not - Legos are my new favorite toy. (I may change my tune once I step on one with a bare foot...check back with me in the Spring!)