Monday, July 28, 2014

Benjin Blankies

We never, ever introduced a "lovey" or anything like that. I didn't want to rely on always having something and GOD FORBID, losing said thing that your kid is attached to.

My kids ditched their pacifiers on their own before 4 months. Benjamin chose a thumb in favor and so far Claire has been fairly content with neither.

When Benjamin was over a year old, I was finally letting down my guard a bit and put one of those Aden & Anais breathable muslin swaddling blankets in his crib with him. While he slept just fine without it, I felt like I was depriving him of comfort. We all have blankets and sheets, even if we're not cold. They're comfortable. Even when it's really warm, I still like a thin sheet in bed. Eventually we'd graduate him to a real bed with real blankets, and I didn't want the additional stuff to be foreign to him. With that logic, I wanted to get him used to having blankets and sheets in bed and gradually threw one in to his crib. At first he ignored it. Then he began using it. He'd grab it and sort of snuggle it.

Now he has a duvet and pillow and still insists on "Benjin blankies" when he sleeps and often around the house. He even has one in the car (for use when he's epically melting down or sleeping in the car).

He's sort of grown attached to these things and we didn't mean for that to happen. I never thought I'd have a "blanket kid", yet we have our very own Linus on our hands. He used to call them blankets and somewhere around Claire's birth, he switched over to "blankies"-- which we dislike. We corrected him for ages and now we just roll with it. I don't know if someone called them that and he latched onto the word, but no matter how many times we correct him, it makes no difference. It's like he is using the word as a term of endearment. While we never use the word he does, we also stopped correcting him.

I sneak them away quickly to wash them and he's a little bothered when they are wet and drying. He often repeats "blankies dirty" while they are agitating in the washer and makes it known he hasn't forgotten about them. It appears he understands they are in safe hands and truly enjoys a clean blankie, but he doesn't forget. But when they come out of the washer, I always hang them to dry because they are thin and well-used and I don't want the dryer to take the life out of them any quicker. He can't help it. must. get. blankets. and. drag. wet. blankets. all. over. the. floor. (thus turning a clean blanket into a dirty one again because who has time to mop floors?)

Sometimes I will wonder where he is because the downstairs is eerily quiet, only to find him snuggled up on the floor or in his bed upstairs with his beloved "blankies" and sucking his thumb.

And that's the other thing. Thumb sucking is almost non-existent unless Benjin blankies are in hand. As soon as a blanket is clutched, the right thumb is inserted into his mouth. We're not terribly concerned at this point, but it might be a full on war when he turns three. For dental and sanitary reasons, I'd prefer he ditch the thumb (and blankets, really). I might even transition by tying them to the bed, allowing him to only have them while sleeping. But would that work? Or will I just find him laying in his bed all day long?

But what's a parent to do? He sleeps better with them. He calms himself almost instantly with just clutching them. He's fine to go places without them and is never allowed to remove them from the car or house.

Not just any Aden & Anais blanket will do. He has a particular blanket that of course is muslin but not part of that brand. And it was a gift. I can't come to the point of replacing these things. It's just... when they "die", I think we'll just let them. The giraffe blanket is referred to as "Mommy blankie", yet he also likes having that around. But it's really the plain white (ehm, as white as I can keep it) blanket that's made from some fancy organic fabric with a preferred corner (where the tag is) that he would consider donating an organ to keep.

There are worse things and really... I have two living children, so this is one of those things. I'm just thankful they're alive and we have to "worry" about stupid things like silly pet names our kid uses for his blankets he has an unhealthy obsession with-- and I also need to remember he's TWO. He's still very much our baby.

Friday, July 25, 2014




We were at the park last weekend and sort of in a time crunch. Elliot had to pick up some people from the airport and do business-y things and had a deadline. We wanted to grab dinner before all of this, but can you say it with me...

.... we were at the park.

... with a toddler.

.. who is stubborn.

We somehow bribed him to go to a restaurant to which he usually replies "chocolate milk", because that's his treat when we eat out almost always. No matter where, it sort of tames the beast. We tell him he can have chips at the restaurant, to which he already guesses our destination (Chipotle) by saying "quesadilla" on repeat. When we go there, he eats a kid's cheese quesadilla, guacamole and chips.

No joke, between the park to the house and all the way there in the car, he said the word quesadilla at least 50 times.

We pull into the parking lot and hear this.

I can count on one hand how many times he's had a burger in his barely 29-months of life. The kid ate an entire kid-sized burger for dinner. I thought for sure he would get the burger and still insist on a quesadilla and leave both on the table. But no. He ate it. We had Chipotle. I'm still speechless.

And no. We probably did not wash his hands after he shoved his finger up his nose. #gross

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

What a Mess!

I feel like some days as a stay-at-home-mom should just go on record. These are the grainy days that I hope to never forget as we move past diapers and playdates.

Yesterday was one of those days.

I sort of had things together. The kids were both fed and we were out the door to the playhouse down the street for Benjamin to unload some of the energy he manages to harvest. One of the staff members at the children's museum saw him last week and told me she remembered him as "the active one."

We arrive at the playhouse and the routine goes as usual. Benjamin even had the card ready to "hand to lady" when we walked in. Mom was kicking butt. I unbuckle Benjamin from his carseat and walk him to the curb, where he is always instructed to stay because the "street is dangerous" while I get sister and all the things that come along with babies out of the car and onto my person.

It was then that I noticed my rear passenger tire was flat. From my vantage point, I had no idea why and could see no nails. We headed into the playhouse because hello, I have a two-year-old who would basically lose his mind if we up and left before actually getting to play.

I called the husband who didn't answer. Meetings. Business people in town he's responsible for entertaining and spending his days with this week. And really, I knew what to do, but was more calling to let him know the craziness.

But hey. I pay AAA every year just for this very reason. To get me out of a bind. I could probably change the tire myself (and do I even have a spare in the trunk?), but what about these two little people I'm responsible for? What will I do with them in the meantime? AAA it was. They were gracious and sending someone out immediately. I was to wait by my phone for the arrival.

We carry on playing. Benjamin is in a playroom and I am in there trying desperately to get the littlest to fall asleep in the Ergo. And then it happened. What felt like someone pouring a water bottle down my leg and splash onto the floor. It was Claire. She apparently filled her diaper, and managed to have a perfect angle to then pee out the side of the Ergo and onto me and the floor. In the middle of a kid's play area where other kids and parents were around.

Keep it cool, Brandy. No one saw. I walk over about 10 feet to my oversized-purse-turned-diaper-bag and rummage for the size 2 diaper I had stashed in there. I forgot to refill the mini diaper bag and it only had 4s. Fine. I grabbed a size 4 of Benjamin's and was just going to change her right there on the floor near the puddle of urine to ensure no one accidentally came upon it. Benjamin continues playing with a dump truck nearby. It was then that I noticed she had not only filled the diaper to the brim, but it was also full of the very green sweet peas she had for dinner the previous night. Now I needed to relocate to an actual changing area, lest the parents around see me more unfit than I already appeared. I scoot over to the other room about 30 feet away, find a size 2 diaper in one of the drawers in the "baby room" and change Claire. Benjamin follows, but my purse and belongings and the urine puddle on the floor of a playroom were still left behind. I change her rapidly and Benjamin decided it was then that he needed to wash his hands. WITH LOTS OF SOAP. Except, he can't turn on the water himself. One hand in the midst of green poop nightmare, urine all over my clothes and a toddler who is covered in Softsoap.

Both children are cleaned and we collect ourselves and walk back into urine playroom. I immediately grab a baby wipe, hand sanitizer and get to work cleaning the urine puddle on the floor... hoping children had not managed to wade through those murky waters... all whilst watching Benjamin run around the different rooms and holding the very sleepy but not sleeping baby with my other arm. I collect our belongings and then find the size 2 diaper in my bag. Of course.

Just then my phone rings. It's AAA. I manage to bribe Benjamin with fruit snacks and the excitement of a big truck waiting at Mommy's car and we make it outside miraculously. He's wearing only socks outside because I simply had no time or hands or energy to put on his shoes. Why can't someone I know be at the playhouse that morning?

This part went smoothly. The AAA guy changes my tire to the spare (which is still on and needing some attention) and is on his way in minutes. I was thinking about how thankful I was he didn't call in the midst of our urine floor, no size 2 diapers, pee all over me and the floor, belongings strewn everywhere, toddler covered in soap and green pea diaper debacle.

We manage the morning. We go home. I somehow get food in both kids' bellies before naptime approaches and they both go down to nap. Except just Claire naps. Benjamin yaps on and on in his bed about various things on his mind as I listen on the Dropcam. At one point, he even says "poop" and does approach his door to check and see if it's unlocked. It wasn't. He lays back down. I didn't think much of it, as this sort of thing rarely happens.

Our friend Danielle comes over with her son to hang out around 4:00. This was just the time I was heading upstairs to wake the toddler, much later than he is normally allowed to sleep (because he didn't fall asleep for awhile). We all approach the door and open. EVACUATE THE BUILDING. The stench was unbearable. Not only did he poop when he was gabbering on about it, but it was HEINOUS. He also now knows the word heinous, because I used it in the midst of the stinkfest. I throw open his window, turn on his air purifier and his ceiling fan and change his stinky bum. As soon as we can, I make sure we're all out of the room and even go downstairs because the smell could not be tolerated.

Claire proceeds to add her share to the bodily function extravaganza and spits up at least a half dozen times throughout the day when normally she is not very spitty. I'm literally changing diapers or wiping spit-up

Our friends leave around dinner time and Benjamin has YET ANOTHER intolerable poop to round out one of the most icky days I've had in awhile.

Lord have mercy.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Benjin Language

Benjamin insisted on having his "ABCD Chart" in his bed at naptime today. He always requests "Mommy lay down" with him, but I tell him I will count to 14 (he knows 1-13 and I'm trying to gradually build understanding by adding the next number) and lay my head on his pillow with him.

It's 1:48 and he's been in bed nearly 3/4 of an hour and still chatting away. Among the chatter, I just heard:

"Fix it wheel, Mommy's car" (had a flat this morning and AAA came to the rescue)

I love to check my email during naptime while listening to him chat away. Well, I am cool with it for awhile, then I hope he falls asleep because he is not a happy kid without a nap. Eavesdropping on him these days is just so innocently sweet and I presume way better than eavesdropping on a teenager of which he will be in just over 10 years. He talks about what he knows and says words that he understands at this sweet age of 2.

The thing is, he doesn't always say words correctly. The teacher in me screams correct him each time! But the mom in me who adores his innocence and is amazed by his gradual acquisition of words we speak aloud all the time. The mom in me just wants to listen and soak it in. And videotape each word-- as my husband rolls his eyes and tells me we don't have to save everything.

I talk with Benjamin all day long. I ask him questions. I give him choices. I verbalize things I'm doing (especially when I go to the potty because HELLO KID, we only have EIGHT toilets you can use, including kid potties). I sing songs with him and read books and recite poems and books and practice letters and numbers. I connect what we're learning with books we read and try to invite learning experiences to everyday activities. I'm a teacher and that's just how the trained brain of a teacher works! He has no shortage of language development. There are plenty of kids his age who are speaking full sentences with every word in the correct order and in perfect sequence, and there are kids his age who are speaking less. I have no hangups about this. He is developing perfectly. He often shies when around kids he isn't around often and adults he doesn't know. But if you know him well and the environment is less hectic, he will talk, talk, talk.

His vocabulary lately is astounding. We were climbing on top of real (and legitimately tall) war tanks at Cantigny Park a couple weeks ago and he spoke loudly, "Nervous!"

We hadn't been using that word or asking him if he was... he just told us his emotion correctly in the moment. Not scared. Not "Mommy down", but nervous.

Having an understanding of emotions and verbs is so fun to hear. Yes, he knows hoards of nouns and certainly knows all the words to things he wants (show, treat, milk, juice, toy, trucks, pool, ice cream...), but to verbalize his feelings with intellectual language just amazes me.

When he went on the potty recently (twice ever) and whenever he completes a puzzle correctly or manages putting on his own shoes or finishes a meal (miracle in itself), he recently started using the word "celebrate" to commemorate his achievements. He even throws his hands up and yells "hooray" and claps. He also checks to make sure you're also sufficiently celebrating with him.

He says a few things that I simply have a hard time correcting because the mom in me (who knows he will learn soon and correct himself eventually) is winning over the teacher:

"Benjin" - I say his name correctly all. day. long. And sometimes he says it right. But isn't it just adorable?
"Hug you" & "Help you" - He's really trying to say "hug me" and "help me", but is getting hung up on correct pronoun usage.
"I lub you" - I mean. Really. How cute.
"Say-key" - Somehow that means "scary" and just this week, he's gradually moving over to the correct pronunciation.
"Gawbee" - That's what he calls my mom. Not a single person ever said that. We always used "Grandma" and he somehow managed Gawbee. It stuck.
"Gramie Daddy" - He calls Grandma Wilson "Gramie" just like we introduced her as... but Grandpa Wilson? He is referred to as Gramie Daddy. You know, the Daddy version of a Gramie. Touche.

The teacher in me is thrilled that his language is transforming and some of his former Benjamin-isms are transforming into word mastery and the mom in me is having heart flutters... both good and bittersweet that my little boy is growing so quickly.

While I just love our Benjamin and want him to grow and achieve and kick serious butt on those arbitrary development charts, I also want Benjin to personally develop and grow and personally enjoy learning about his world.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Half of July

Just because. I take so many and rarely share much unless you're a follower on IG and get the iPhone version of our daily lives.

July so far...
Claire turned 6 months, July 4th Balloon Festival, Sparklers!
Gramie & "Gramie Daddy" visited from Maryland. Picnic table was built, visited Beautiful Cantigny Park & our local waterpark
A few family photos at Cantigny... love you Andrew. 
Benjamin might have been a little excited when we met the "big red dog" today at a PBS event. That's Miss Lori's daughter (from Miss Lori's Campus) holding Claire. 
So much more to come this month, including a visit from Gaw-bee (my mom) and our friend Caroline with her beautiful kids, Finley & Mary!

Claire at 6 months:

  • Rolls all over the map
  • Loves bouncing in the jumperoo
  • Tolerates Ergo wearing (unless sleeping and she loves it) and stroller riding
  • Dislikes most food other than breastmilk (so different from B!)
  • Not the best night sleeper anymore... working on that!
  • Giggles at brother the most and is thoroughly entertained by him
  • Grabs anything and everything she can get her hands on... and into the mouth of course!
  • Has had chips, Reese's Puff cereal (!) and various other foods stuffed into her mouth by brother... doesn't appear we have a peanut allergy issue
  • Thinks it's funny when: Benjamin jumps or goes down stairs... odd!
  • Can be somewhat shy. Loves to smile at others and then burrows her head into our chests after
  • Weighs 15lb10oz (woah! she and B are so very different...)
  • Blows raspberries and shrieks with a very high-pitched sound
  • Can nearly sit on her own completely 
  • Loves to be held
  • Is an absolute delight

Monday, July 14, 2014

Eye Have Problems

On July 1, I woke up with Viral Conjunctivitis.

Pink Eye.

The right eye was the first to contract the fun and then the left eye joined the party a day later. It was just about textbook. Itchy eyes, very watery, no discharge (viral, not bacterial). No meds could be taken and it needed to run its course. I tried over-the-counter eyedrops and they were pretty much worthless. I used mL after mL of my own breastmilk via an eyedropper and it was just temporary relief. I wore no makeup and threw away the makeup I used when I contracted it. Some of the most beautiful weather during that July 4th holiday weekend was spent inside and the rest I rallied through to make memories.

In order to avoid passing this very frustrating virus to the rest of my family, I was a cleanfreak. I changed our pillowcases daily, as well as our sheets. I slept with an additional layer on my pillowcase, in fact. I washed everything on hot water and anything I wore was washed immediately. I probably did 15 loads of laundry in 10 days. I did not touch my eyes or face, and if I absolutely needed to, I washed my hands in hot water and then sanitized after. It reminded me a lot of when my kids were in the NICU and we had to scrub down to see them. Seeing that Claire is breastfeeding, I wanted to definitely ensure she did not contract this.

No one else in the family contracted it. It's now 14 days later and I'm thankfully free of the virus as well.

Unfortunately, I'm not seeing my best still. The eyes look and feel normal, but my 20/15 vision seems a little off. I can still read well at a distance, but I see a considerable difference than I remember on June 30. It's odd.

It was just about 5 years to the day (June 30) since I had Lasik surgery, so I'm hoping this nearsightedness issue is just my eyes trying to adjust back.

Anyone else had pink eye and have side effects adjusting back to what life used to be like?

Thursday, July 10, 2014

New Blog Header

My incredible friend Alli changed my header for me a few years ago... but since then I've had two more kids and feel like I look nothing like the girl in the snuggie anymore. I'm sprouting gray hairs, no longer claim to be in my 20s and living a very mom life.

It's also been 3.5 years since Andrew died. While I grieve him openly, freely and often, I don't have as much to say about my grief or how it's changing at this stage. Sure, we have two more kids and we're very busy ensuring they become acceptable members of society, but Andrew is not lost. I think about him every single day. The pain is still very real and the tears still flow.

Just today there was a boy at the playhouse named Andrew. He was three, of course, and spelling his name aloud as he was writing on one of those Magna-Doodle things. Every time he wrote a letter, he would repeat the last ones and describe how it is written. A-N-D ..."tall line and big belly"... A-N-D-R ... "tall line, small belly, and little line" and just kept going on and on. He was so proud that he was sharing his name with everyone in the room.

I could've vomited.

But yes, this post is about the new header. My friend Kari recently wrote a blog post about designing her own blog header and it sort of lit a fire under my behind. I knew I could do it and I've done similar pieces of design before, but never paid much attention to the blog header. Honestly, I was nervous about how to incorporate my whole family and that's why it sat the same for so long. I wanted Andrew represented on here even though I don't write about grief for every post. He's still our son and part of our daily lives and will always be part of our family. We still can't stomach taking professional family photos because of how hard it still is to imagine Andrew not being a part of the pictures.

I didn't want people who visit this blog to assume I've moved on or don't want to share Andrew anymore. It's just never going to be that way. I wanted to represent him in a photo with my other two, but struggled with how to make that happen. I could use a picture of his name in the sand. His urn. A candle with his name. But none of these seemed to be enough to represent that he really was our flesh and blood and really did exist. I have photo proof. Just not any interest in showing them to the masses who would not necessarily find those photos in loving spirit. I protect him and the little bits of him I still have. I just needed people who visited this blog to know that our family lost someone very important and that he will never be shamed or forgotten. That this blog is different than just a mom blog. When writing about my living children, my firstborn is never far from my mind.

With that, the new header. For his fourth birthday, I plan to have Dana pencil sketch his beautiful face. I may switch the header to his sketch eventually, but I really like how this one turned out.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Terrible, They Are.

The twos that is.

No one parent has the right balance to ensure that their kid doesn't turn into the angry little beast that tantrums in grocery stores or on sidewalks in front of buildings. If you are a parent who is so boastfully proud about their kid never turning into a beast, please do not comment here. This post is not meant to make me feel worse.

I'm convinced some parents just get luckier than others in the terrible two department. And honestly, for sometime I was tooting my own horn about how reasoning with my kid and offering choices for everything was working so well and he was so awesome.

Except somewhere along the journey, he turned terrible.

I almost never want to take him anywhere these days, you guys. I do still, but I dread it. Once we arrive, he almost never wants to leave. And while I am all about being flexible, little sister does need to be fed sometimes and they both still need to nap.

Just in my recent memory of things that happened in the last couple days:
- threw a full out tantrum in the grocery store by ninja-ing his way out of the shopping cart and then the car cart to only be held in a football hold through the checkout lane. The checker had to handle all of my groceries and they even had someone try to give us a cookie (reward that behavior? NO!) and someone walk the cart to our car.
- laid in front of the library door because he didn't want to get in the car.
- refused to leave the "cookie store" bakery and told me "bye bye Mommy" to leave.

When he doesn't want something, he says "bye bye" angrily and shoos it/you away like a fly. I have friends who chose not to give their kids sugar because that tended to fuel the terribleness. And friends who withheld television or technology or fill-in-the-blank. Some of that helped, and I personally witnessed some of that backfiring. Deprivation wasn't necessarily the key to good behavior. For us, I believed that if my son were "deprived" of something, it would make him that much worse to manage when he finally had his hand in the proverbial cookie jar. And to an extent, I think we're still right about that for our son. Not your son, just to be clear. All families choose their own paths. Knowing how we both work as parents and people, we didn't feel that withholding things he wanted was the answer. It was more about collective bargaining and all of us winning on the deal.

So if he wants to watch a television show at the end of the evening, he must pick up his toys. Used to work swimmingly. Now, he just declines the show.

If he wants to have dessert, he must give a good effort at dinner he gets to have a say in selecting. If a good effort was not rendered, no dessert is to be had. Doesn't seem to bother him lately. Food is wasted and treats are forgotten.

And the latest nonsense to hit the household is sister jealousy. Up until now, he's been nothing but a wonderful, gentle brother. But now? Now that she is functioning and not sleeping the entire day away and actually demands some parental attention? He's blowing steam. He knows her name and often uses it, but when it comes to being mad, he reverts to calling her "baby" as if it is demeaning in its use. "No swing baybee" (if she is using it and he wants it) as just one of the many examples. He's been a bit violent toward her as well.

While we knew the twos would possibly hit us at some point, we didn't realize just how irrational they might be. He begins screaming about something (example: leaving the children's museum) and it takes the strength of a small army to get him into his carseat. I've totally had to sit on him to get him in there and mothers all around either give me mad staredowns or pat me on the back and tell me that it's just a stage. Once he's in the carseat or when he screams his head off at home, it turns into his shoes being off or on, wanting mommy or daddy's car or being angry because he doesn't have juice. None of it makes sense. It's a big pile of nonsense that takes over his body and turns him into a raging lunatic. Some days these tantrums can go on for over an hour. {I told a fellow mom at the park about his tantrums as she witnessed a mini one in the parking lot about him wanting-to-but-not-wanting-to bring his sand toys... and this mom of three replied, "that must be hard." Great, thanks for the mom comradery}.

Knee deep in the terribleness that is the twos. When he is incredible, he is really the coolest kid ever. But when he is terrible... he defines the word at a whole new level.

Reminds me of that little poem:

There was a little girl,
Who had a little curl,
Right in the middle of her forehead.
When she was good,
She was very, very good,
And when she was bad she was horrid.

- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow