Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Catching up on some older posts-1 Month Down Party

If you have been following my blog, you know that I set some pretty lofty goals for myself and, about 2 months into the deployment, realized they were not very realistic for me during this particular time in my life. Sadly, one of the things that got pushed to the sidelines was my daily chronicling of the kids shenanigans.  Most of that, however, was out of necessity simply because everything that was funny or crazy enough to write about usually required at least an hour of clean-up, and sometimes required enlisting the services of a professional handyman, so I didn’t always get around to writing about it in a timely manner. But, I tried to keep notes about the real doozies, and I am going to attempt to re-create them.
 I have learned, however, that I write some of my best and most comical pieces in the heat of the moment, usually while the freshly mopped floor is still drying after my cleaning up Lord only knows what kind of disaster, but I’m gonna do my best . Some are long, and some are short. Some will make you simultaneously laugh at my children’s antics while you cry at the heck I go through some days. Be warned, though,  some might make you a little sick at your stomach! But, I am constantly reminded that these days that seem so hard to get through sometimes now are the very same days I will long for in a few short years when my kids are too cool to hold my hand in public or kiss me goodbye in front of their friends. My good friend Stessie, without even intending to reach me in particular, recently reminded me that “our kids live in the ‘now.’ They don’t worry about the past or spend too much time looking toward the uncertainties of the future. Life happens now,” and I don’t want to miss a thing. So,  I hope you enjoy these stories as much as I enjoy telling them. If not, that’s okay. They will provide wonderful topics of discussion to share with our children’s dates one day in the very, very, very distant future!
If you haven’t already, I encourage you to read my blogs entitled “The Best Laid Plans” and “You’re an Idiot, Bless Your Heart.” It will give you a little more perspective on what all I had gone through during our first month of the deployment. It will also convince you that God has an awesome sense of humor!!

April 1, 2011- One Month Down Ice Cream Party
Before Bill left, we participated in a program on base called FOCUS. It stands for Families Overcoming Under Stress, and it basically teaches you resiliency training in the face of a stressful situation such as a deployment, a move, or any life event that causes stress and anxiety. It is a fabulous program that is conducted by Master’s level social workers, and if you are experiencing a situation that you anticipate to be overwhelming,  I highly recommend you seek them out. Ok, I am aware that was a shameless plug for my pals at FOCUS, but it has made a huge difference in the way this deployment could have gone vs. how well it really has gone (at the time of this writing we are 4 months and 26 days into it, and I am constantly amazed every day at God’s grace and mercy as we face this deployment), and I want everyone to benefit from this free service.
One of the great ideas they gave us was to have an ice cream party with Bill the day he left for Afghanistan, and then, every month, on the anniversary of the day he left, the kids and  I would have an ice cream party as a celebration that one month had passed and we were one month closer to Daddy being home. This celebration was to be marked by building a  6 scoop paper ice cream cone on a large white sheet of paper. The night we had the party with Bill, he and the kids glued a paper ice cream cone on the paper, and every month we celebrated, we would add a paper scoop of ice cream. When Daddy comes home, we will have a party together, and he will add the paper cherry to the top. It’s a great visual tool for the kids, and I had very high hopes when we began using it.
Bill left March 1, so we had our very first ice cream party April 1. April Fools!!! I can’t even begin to tell you how not-great it was. I am still sad about that.  That happened to be a Friday, and Faith has ballet on Friday evenings, so we went after her lessons. I wanted it to be a great party for them, so we went to Cold Stone Creamery. Faith was so excited about it! I would like to take a timeout here to brag on what an awesome kid she is. She helps me so much with Rhett; whether it’s helping him climb into a high chair so he can’t wreak havoc on the restaurant or cheering him up when he’s inconsolable, she is the best big sister I could ever ask for. They play so well together, and they both have the most loving personalities, sometimes I feel like I am totally unworthy of being the mommy of such amazing little people!
So, we are at Cold Stone, and I have picked out a table and Faith has helped me put Rhett into his highchair. See, the fun started in the car when Rhett, after being told we were having an ice cream party started screaming, declaring he “no like it I keam.” I was sure he would change his mind once we got inside, so Faith and I literally drug him from the car into the ice cream shop. We were the only ones in there, so his screams echoed off the walls and drew a panicked stare from the poor 18 year old behind the counter. I am pretty sure she won’t be having kids for a loooonnnnggg time now. You’re welcome! Determined to have a nice 1 month down celebration even if it killed us, I went ahead and ordered our ice cream. Something pink and blue  and served in a chocolate dipped waffle bowl covered in sprinkles for Faith, she goes for aesthetics more than flavor I think, and chocolate for Rhett.
I get it all to the table, and Rhett starts crying even louder, if that were possible. By this time, though, the place is starting to fill up, so there are about 15+ people staring at me while I try to be upbeat and encouraging that we made it through a whole month. Half-way through Faith declares that her ice cream looks much prettier than it tastes and asks if she can have Rhett’s chocolate. Well, you can probably tell where this is going…Yep! Rhett did not want her to touch his “I keam.” Thankfully, I was able to distract him with her chocolate covered sprinkle bowl, thus ensuring he wouldn’t go to sleep for at least another 2 hours…oh, well. Having decided we had “celebrated” enough, we left and went home to glue our first paper scoop onto the cone and snap a picture for Daddy.
 Faith was all sweet ballerina smiles, and Rhett was still one unhappy camper. But, you know what, that’s what I felt like too. I was trying to turn today into a celebration of us being 6 months closer to Bill’s return, but I wanted to cry even louder than Rhett that someone we love so much has been gone a whole month and we haven’t even scratched the surface. FYI: deployments aren’t fun. But they are necessary if we want to sleep in peace at night when we lay down our heads. Someone has to do it. It just so happens I married one of the few who was brave enough to volunteer for the job.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Potty Time

Oh. My. Gosh. I am beginning to think that, instead of calculating college tuition costs for Rhett, I need to calculate the cost of a lifetime supply of diapers and pull-ups because this potty training thing is really not catching on. We are currently 2 weeks into July, and 4 ½ months into a deployment that seems to grow longer every day, and we are no closer to being diaper free than we were 6 months ago. Further, in fact, if you want to be honest about the whole thing.
Rhett began showing signs of being ready to potty train while we were visiting family in OK this past Christmas, but by the time we returned home to NC less than a week later, the moment seemed to have passed. Up until the day he stripped off his diaper while he was napping and proceeded to pee in his crib, sufficiently soaking his blankets, pillow, lovey, and at least a part of every one of the 15 various stuffed animals that were in his crib that day, that is. So, we tried again. And he lost interest again.  I did not major in Early Childhood Education, nor do I claim to be an expert on all things little kid, but even I am pretty sure you cannot force a child to successfully use the bathroom in the toilet.
Not wanting to turn it into a control issue, I backed off when he resisted, and encouraged him when he showed signs of being ready. Then, Bill deployed, and any progress (no matter how small) was lost, plus some. I have been trying to get him to use the potty for a while now, and he greets my request with a very polite, but firm, “No, thank you, Mommy. I no want to. I no like it.” At least he uses his manners. When he does agree to sit on the potty, I try to make sure all of the important parts are pointing in the down position so no one gets pee up their nose, but then he screams, “No, Mommy! No touch it!” Well, I'm glad he caught my lectures about that being a private area, but I think he might be taking it a bit to the extreme. Now he just goes into the bathroom and says, “I potty. Now you go away.” Ok, I understand the need for bathroom privacy more than most people, even though I have not enjoyed such a luxury in over 6 years now, but seriously?!?
So, I have this brilliant idea to buy him a little potty of his very own. He has the Elmo potty seat, but he refuses to use it, so, when he does sit on the toilet, I end up having to fish him out of the toilet water and thoroughly wash his whole lower half every time. This usually happens several times and goes on for several minutes before my patience is gone and, sensing his life could be in imminent danger, he politely asks for a diaper. But, today was going to be different, I vowed to myself. I bought the cool little Froggie potty, and we ran the rest of our errands. His diaper was dry when we left at noon, and it was still dry when we got home at 4:30. He was very excited to use his potty seat, and I figured he would need to potty soon, so I started getting cocky and thinking he would actually be using it for it’s intended purpose by nightfall. I’m so gullible.
So far, he has filled it with his favorite toys and squatted over them as if he were going to potty. Naturally, I don’t encourage urinating on your favorite toys, so I try to take them out of the potty. And so the struggle begins. Then he hops off and runs through the house like a caged animal that has finally escaped. He’s totally naked from the waist down while he is doing all of this, which makes it just comical enough for me to not want to scream at him, but not comical enough for me to not be annoyed. Since we brought the potty out over an hour ago, it has been hooked to his tow truck and drug through the house, he has taken the removable bowl out and worn the froggy part as a hat, and of course, he keeps filling it with his favorite toys and squatting over them. I really don’t even know what to do. He runs over, sits on it, lets out a long series of toots, giggles, and runs off again, little boy parts flapping in the wind. Each time he just looks up at me and gives me that super mischievous grin, then all that’s left is a blur of naked tush, and he’s off again. At one point, he just said, “Can I just have my diaper?” So I put it back on him. Then, a few minutes later, he stripped down again and the whole cycle repeated itself.
I am thinking maybe this is a job for Daddy…