A Design Dilemma

Jamie is creeping up on his second birthday and that means it’s time to start thinking about when we’ll be moving him out of the crib and into a regular bed.  Liam made the transition shortly after turning two and while I won’t be rushing Jamie through the process, I anticipate that he will be wanting to make the move within the next 6 months.

This leaves me with a dilemma.

When Liam made the switchover, we chose a decorating scheme for his room.  I did a lot of looking around and ended up deciding to go with a dinosaur theme.  At the time, he really liked dinos (and still does) and I thought the scheme would get us through until he was 8 or 9 years old.

And then he became Star Wars obsessed.  Then, Pottery Barn Kids started selling gorgeous Star Wars bedding.  I have been lusting over this stuff for Liam since it came out two or more years ago.  But, we spent money on good bedding when he turned two and I couldn’t justify more expense.

So, Liam’s current room has this bedding:

The picture was taken when we first moved in.  His room is no longer even remotely that clean, he has a dust ruffle on the bed, he doesn’t have the bed rail anymore, and the stool isn’t necessary either.  But, you can get an idea of how the bedding looks.  His walls are a lovely yellow – not to0 bright, not too boring.  It goes well with the earth tones of his bedding.  We got lucky and it was that color when we moved in.
We have these murals on his walls:
Now, bear with me here, Jamie’s room is a celery green.  We painted it when we first moved in and before I got pregnant knowing that it would eventually be a nursery and we wanted a gender neutral scheme.  The color goes with his crib bedding.  Jamie also has murals.  Regardless of where we go with his room, we will probably need to repaint and redecorate.
With all of that long back story, my options are as follows:
1) Give Liam’s current bedding to Jamie.  Repaint Jamie’s room.  Decide whether to paint murals later (since that’s really my mother-in-law that does all that).  Then, get Liam the Star Wars bedding I so adore (and know he would love), thus requiring a repaint of his room as well.
2) Leave Liam’s room alone.  Choose a scheme for Jamie like we did for Liam and repaint and redecorate his room according to whatever new scheme we choose for him.
I see drawbacks to both options.  The drawbacks to option #1 are the cost and the fact that I don’t want Jamie to feel like he got his brother’s old stuff instead of getting things of his own.  The drawback to option #2 is that I worry that in a few years I’ll be stuck in the same situation I am now.  I chose something for Liam before he was old enough to have a real idea of what he would want.  Now, it’s obvious what he would love and that’s left me feeling like I did the wrong thing.  I don’t want to make the same mistake for Jamie.
So, I am torn.  Do I spend the money and redo?  Do I leave it alone?  What?  No matter what we do, we have to get bedding for Jamie.  We don’t move to a toddler bed before we move to a twin.  We go straight to a twin bed without a frame and using a bed rail.  I don’t have the bedding to do that as of now.  We are going to have to purchase a mattress and box spring for him, too.
Anyone have any thoughts?  I’m at a loss.

Whatever Happened To Giving a Kid a Set of Blocks?

There’s really no way to preface this, so I’ll just let you take it in for yourself.

Did you watch that closely?  Did you see the part where they fed the dog a treat? And then the dog pooped it out? 

Let me get this straight.   This is a toy puppy that walks on a leash and sits up and begs.  You can pet it and love it and call it George.  But that just wasn’t enough.  It needed just one more thing – something that made it stand out from the crowd on that toy shelf awash with brightly colored gems.  It was decided that this toy’s je ne sais quoi was that it was capable of POOPING?!  The mind reels.

You’d think this toy would be an anomaly but, oh no.  The other day I ran across this next thing in my own house.  It came with a toy rocket ship that Liam got for his birthday one year.  It has the rocket, a couple of astronauts, a space buggy, and their pet dog – presumably named Astro.

Here’s Astro:

And here’s Astro’s butt:
Notice anything?
We’ve had this thing in the house for almost 2 years.  Lately Jamie has loved playing with this toy set.  In fact, we got him the Martian Moon Base that goes with the stupid rocket for Christmas.  Astro and his special appendage have been hanging around a lot and I noticed him sitting on the end table the other day; for the first time, I really looked at him.  
That’s when I noticed his rear end.  I took it to Scot and said “Does this look like anythi-” and he cut in “Yes.  Yes, it does.  I noticed that a while back.”
Hey kids, how ’bout we pull out those blocks and build Astro a kennel?  We’ll stick him in there with his Rescue Pet Pooping Pal for some company.

Oh, Jamie

Jamie’s grasp of language is a little uneven.  He understands everything you say to him but he doesn’t have a ton of words yet.  He has a lot of syllables but very few of them come out in a way that make sense in English.  Perhaps he’s speaking Linear A.  This doesn’t really worry me a whole lot.  He’ll get there when he gets there and I’m sure that when he does I’ll wish he never, ever started talking.

But for now, we make do with a lot of games of 20 questions.  He has some approximation of “yes” and “no” and this means that we can generally figure out what it is he wants – even if it’s with a lot of frustration thrown into the mix.

Recently, however, he’s mastered the facepalm.  He uses this to denote his utter disgust at our inability to read his mind.  It goes a little something like this:

Jamie enters the kitchen and walks to the pantry cupboard.  He points up and makes cave man like grunting noises.  He wants something.  Considering the fact that two-thirds of the pantry is above his head, he could be referring to any one of a large number of items.

I pick him up in the hopes he will point more definitively to the item he is after.

I get a slightly more specific area of the pantry to look in and the guessing game begins.

Me:  Do you want the goldfish crackers?
Jamie: [facepalm]
Me: Do you want bunny grahams?
Jamie: [facepalm]
Me:  Do you want some Cracklin’ Oat Bran?
Jamie: [facepalm]
Me:  Do you want oyster crackers?
Jamie: [facepalm]
Me:  Do you want pretzel crackers?
Jamie:  [excited panting]

I grab the box off the shelf, put him on the floor, and tell him to get a bowl.  He runs to the proper cupboard, chooses a bowl, and I pour him some snack crackers.  He takes them and runs away into the family room – sometimes leaving me with his version of “thank you” but more often with nothing at all.

Some communication is worlds better than no communication so I deal with it.  I think I only have to start worrying if he employs the headdesk.


Liam is going to be six in two weeks.

It does not seem possible that he is going to be six.  Didn’t I just give birth to him? Wasn’t it just yesterday that we were suffering through the Terrifically Terrible Threes?

Yet here we are.

He’s so much more independent than he was a year ago.  He goes outside to play without needing me with him.  He ventures to the neighbor’s house and plays with them – again, without me.  He walks home from the bus stop on his own now.

I still get frustrated with him – he dawdles like a pro at bed time and has a stubborn streak a mile wide – but I’m coming to learn that my frustration with him is my own making at least 50% of the time.  I need to learn to embrace his little idiosyncrasies and see them as manifestations of his awesome personality rather than just sheer annoyance.  I’m going to work hard at it – even when I just want 5 minutes of quiet after listening to the kids bickering with each other constantly.

These days I have to make an effort to give him hugs and kisses.  He doesn’t seek them out as often as he did and cuddles are few and far between.  He doesn’t run away when I give him hugs – I’m sure that will come in the near future – but I want him to know that I love him and I don’t want him to think I lavish attention on his brother while I pointedly ignore him.  They need different things from me but that’s sometimes hard for a kid to understand so I still want him to hear me say “I love you, kiddo.”

I love you, kiddo.  You’re a really wonderful kid who is loving and kind.  You’re helpful with your brother and you love him under all your annoyance with his toddler ways.  You’re creative and silly and full of life.  I love that your grown-up ways mean that we can do things together that were impossible just a few years ago.  You make life fun.

Operation Toy Donation

(Sorry for the break in the blogging.  First it was because the year was all normal and boring with nothing to write about and then it was because everyone got sick.)

We have a lot of toys in this house.  I mean a lot.  There are bins in the game room, bins in Liam’s room, a small pile in Jamie’s room, a crap ton in the family room, and at least 4 or 5 large bins worth in storage in the basement.  Each Christmas and birthday bring more.  I have stuff stashed away that Liam has outgrown waiting on Jamie to grow into.  I have stuff that’s too young for both the kids.  The kids can’t play with everything they have.  It’s ridiculous.

As a result of this, it has been my plan for some time to divest the house of the excess.  If the kids can’t play with it and I’m reduced to storing it, there has GOT to be a place where these things can be used.  I asked Twitter.  I asked Facebook.  I got no advice.  So, I asked my daycare a couple of weeks ago if they needed or wanted toys and they enthusiastically said yes.  Finally!  A place to get rid of stuff cluttering up my house!

Then, in the course of everyone in the house being sick but the kids being a lot less sick than the adults, they completely emptied all the toy bins and the toy box causing a toy tornado that littered the family room with toys long forgotten.  The number of fast food meal toys was really shocking – some of them predated Jamie’s existence.

Yesterday I was finally feeling somewhat human and I couldn’t stand the filth anymore so I started cleaning.  While Liam was at school and Jamie was napping, I attacked the family room.  I separated stuff out into toys to throw away (every. single. Burger King toy I could lay my hands on), toys to donate, and toys to keep.

I grabbed a big box left over from Christmas to put the toys to donate into and a trash bag to throw the crap toys into.

I filled the box and had to get another.

I filled the kitchen sized trash bag half full with BK toys alone.  Then I started shoving actual trash in there and filled it up.

I cleaned up the rest of the stuff to keep and stacked it neatly in the toy corner of the family room.  Then I took the toys to be donated down to my car and put them in my trunk so the kids wouldn’t see them and freak out.  It filled half my trunk.  When Jamie goes to daycare on Wednesday, I’ll deliver the load.

I threw the garbage bag of BK toys into the trash can in the garage to hide that.

The scary part?  This was only the family room.  I haven’t touched either of the boys’ rooms or the game room or the stored toys.  I know I have at least one large bin full of baby toys that needs to go.

There’s another scary part to this tale.  When I finished cleaning up the family room, I looked at the neatly stacked pile of toys and it was just as large as it had been before I cleaned things out.  The only difference was that there were different toys in the pile.

It’s no wonder I have trouble keeping this house clean.

Reflections On The Year

The clock has turned, the year has changed, and suddenly it’s 2011.

I could do a year-in-review type of post but, really, it’s all right here on the blog.  It seems silly to rehash it all when you could read about it in depth if you cared to.

But, in looking back through the last year’s worth of posts, I realized how much has changed and how much we packed into the year.  It’s a given that kids grow up and, in doing so, change every day.  But it’s hard to see that change if you never look back and see where you used to be.

The year didn’t have an easy start.  Liam was at the tail end of four and the holidays were very difficult with that attitude in tow.  I looked at my posts from the holidays last year and it became clear to me how much better Liam did this year.  He was excited, yes.  But he wasn’t so cranky and difficult and sass-filled all the time.  He weathered all the stress and chaos surrounding this time of year with remarkable aplomb for a 5 year old.  In some ways I already knew that, but re-reading those posts really brought it home to me.

It’s possible that some of this year’s most profound changes were responsible for his ability to weather things much more easily.  We enforced a menu for the way he eats and that engendered a titanic shift in his day to day attitude and interactions with us.  He graduated from preschool and that also helped because he was monumentally bored by the time he was done.  He started Tae Kwon-Do which gave him an outlet for all his energy and a place to practice focus and discipline.  Between TKD and the menu system, he has experienced a major growth spurt.  He has grown by 3 inches and 6 pounds in the last year – a gain the likes of which he hasn’t seen since his first year of life.  He started kindergarten and that has occupied his mind in a way no other thing has been able to (with the possible exception of Star Wars!).  He has made huge strides over the year and that really ended up paying dividends when it came to the holidays.

Jamie did what babies do.  He said his first word, took his first steps, learned to communicate with us, and began to assert his independence.  All of these things were expected and welcome changes.  The thing I keep coming back to is how much easier it is for me to weather his developmental changes than it was for me to get through them with Liam.  Jamie surely throws us curve balls – he is, after all, not his brother – but the second time around I feel so much better prepared for whatever it is that comes our way.  That’s not to say that I’m placid – this is a descriptor that will likely never be used in conjunction with my name – but I feel less afraid that these stages will never end.  It also helps that Jamie is a lot easier on the sleep front than his brother ever was.  His ability to deal with minor schedule inconveniences is truly a welcome change from his brother.

Scot and I weathered a tough year.  It wasn’t all wine and roses.  But, really, life never is.  Things seem to be getting better on a lot of previously difficult issues – mostly health related – and I look forward to 2011 being an improvement over 2010 in that regard.

If I have one resolution for the coming year (aside from saying adios to my flab – *sigh*) it is to have more perfect days.  They don’t all have to be summer picnics but that day is a shining beacon of perfection and something I’d like to repeat on a much more regular basis.  It will take work on our part – if only by not being so lazy about taking the kids out and doing things – but its worth is beyond price.