Good Bye 2016

We’re coming to the close of another year, 2016. For us, we’ve had ups and downs, sorrows and joy. But most of all we have love. 

Since it’s been almost 2 years since I’ve written, here’s where you can read about 2015. Here’s what happened in 2016 for us.

Even though it was in 2015, it made a big impact on our lives. On December 7th, we lost my paternal grandmother, Virginia. She was such a wonderful soul. She was a force. It’s been hard not having her in our lives. She was buried next to her husband George on her birthday, December 19th. Christmas wasn’t the same.

We lost my maternal grandfather, James, on January 6th surrounded by his children, grandchildren, and a great-grandchild. He was laid to rest next to his beloved Joan, daughter Amy, and granddaughter Jessica. He was a kind, hard working soul, who raised his children on his own after his wife passed. 

Joe and I turned 30. And as he likes to jokingly remind me, I’m an old lady because I did so 1st. 

We got our chicks and duckings.

Joey turned 6. 

Joe and I finally pulled the trigger and tied the knot on May 14th, a day before our dating anniversary. Our parents walked us in. My sister was my maid of honor and his best friend his best man. My dad was presided over our ceremony. 

William graduated from preschool. 

Joey finished Kindergarten.

William turned 5.

My sister went to Poland for WYD16.

Ginny turned 1!

Joey and William started 1st and Kindergarten at “Joey’s school”.

Tony turned 4 and started preschool.

On October 22nd, we welcomed our second beautiful daughter, Clara Grace. She struggled a bit for the first couple weeks with jaundice, but we got through it. She is healthy and strong, and looks a lot like baby Joey did. 

THE CHICAGO CUBS WON THE WORLD SERIES!!!!! Grandma Ginny was a lifelong fan. Joe and I both are too, and now so are our kiddos. William is still singing “Go Cubs Go”. We all stayed up late that night singing and celebrating. 

The presidential campaigning came to an end on Election Day. (No more craptastic commercials and mudslinging!)

We held another wonderful combined Thanksgiving. 

Joey and William were both in our church’s Christmas pageant. 

On Christmas Eve, William carried Baby Jesus up to the Nativity. Christmas day has come and gone, a day filled with family.

And so here Joe and I sit surrounded by our children (how have they not fallen asleep yet?), watching movies, and counting down until 2017.

Love again has been our constant. Love will continue to bind us together throughout the upcoming year. 

I pray for you and yours a Prosperous New Year, filled with Blessings, Love, and Life. Peace to your households and Peace to the World.

2015 Recap

Here’s a somewhat brief recap of what happened in our life. 

​Joe and I both turned 29.

Joey turned 5.

At the end of April we lost our pup, Bo, to cancer after 8 wonderful years with him as part of our family. The day before, we had a good bye service. Our siblings came while my dad did a slightly modified pet blessing. He was fed all of his favorites and showered with love. Joey came with Joe and I to the vet, to say our last goodbyes. 

Joey graduated from preschool. 

Billy turned 4.

On August 9th, we welcomed our beautiful daughter (hooray for not being the only girl any more) Virginia Joan named after both of her great-grandmas. (Joan is pronounced as Jo Ann) Her brothers, Daddy, and I adore her. 

Joey started Kindergarten. 

Tony turned 3!

Joe’s oldest little sister was married. The boys and Ginny all were part of it.

Billy started preschool. And henceforth was known as William.

On September 19th, we moved into our new home! A 3 bed, 2 bath ranch on a little over 1.5 acres. We held Thanksgiving with both of our families. It was amazing to have everyone under our roof. 

On December 7th, we lost my paternal grandmother, Virginia. She was such a wonderful soul. She was a force. It’s been hard not having her in our lives. She was buried next to her husband George on her birthday, December 19th. Christmas wasn’t the same.

And although it dips into 2016, we lost my maternal grandfather, James, on January 6th surrounded by his children, grandchildren, and a great-grandchild. He was laid to rest next to his beloved Joan, daughter Amy, and granddaughter Jessica. He was a kind, hard working soul, who raised his children on his own after his wife passed. 

As you see we had a lot of heartbreak happen. But so many to rejoice as well. Love was the string that stitched up our lives, in good times and bad, as well as everyday life. It grew in bounds. And never faltered. 

LEGO Friends Comic Goes Viral: An Interview with Illustrator Maritsa Patrinos

I sort of made this point a few years ago in Birds and Bricks. I didn’t dig into the LEGO Friends. BUT the HAIR! It was all about the hair. Once we got the Paradisa set, any LEGO Mini-Figs could be a girl. (Well except the scruffy faced men. They would just be scruffy faced men with ponytails or long hair. But they could wear bikinis!) Now if LEGO would just come up with a way to get Indiana Jones’ hat to stay on the ponytail hair, I’d be all set!

Dr. Rebecca Hains

A comic titled “LEGO Friends” recently went viral, striking a chord with people by humorously pointing out that girls don’t need a separate line of LEGO toys. No, no—girls just need better female representation within existing LEGO sets:

"LEGO Friends" by Maritsa Patrinos of Seasonal Depression. Used with permission. “LEGO Friends” by Maritsa Patrinos of Seasonal Depression. Used with permission.

I was so taken by how well this cartoon encapsulates so many parents’ and advocates’ position on the unnecessary gendering of children’s toys—a topic I address in detail in my book, The Princess Problem—that I reached out to the cartoon’s creator, Maritsa Patrinos, to learn more about her work.

Maritsa is illustrator living in Brooklyn, NY who grew up just outside of Washington, DC and went to Pratt Institute to study illustration. Since graduating in 2010, she’s worked on staff at Marvel Comics, made backgrounds for a Cartoon Network show called MAD, and has worked in different editorial jobs, including a couple New Yorker comics. For the past…

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Pack-Rat-Ness

These boys have me ready to pull my hair out. And I am really trying not to scream, become hopping mad (I might though, good way to expend pent-up frustrations), or pull my hair out. It’s too thin as it is.

For some reason, they no longer think they have to pick up their toys when Joe or I ask. I’m getting to just toss almost all of them (ok, not really throw them away, just put in the attic or somewhere they can’t get at them, until we have a bigger house with a play) and just keep half of the cars and half of the Duplos.  And maybe 2 stuffed animals a piece. That way when they decide not to pick up there’s not that much for me to do. Arg! But then they would fight over stuff even more. Double Arg!

We need to pare down on all the “crap” we have around the house anyways. I am really bad about not getting rid of stuff that is still useful, just maybe not to me.  Always have been. (I blame my dad. I got my love of learning, somewhat of a mechanical mind, procrastination habit, and pack-rat-ness from him.) Most of what we are overflowing with are clothes and books. There’s a few other things that we have mass amounts of but those 2 win by a high margin. And none of our houses are like those you would see in Hoarders. Watching that show usually makes me feel better about my mess. Just boxes and boxes of stuff in closest, attics, and basements. (Storage space is a must when we look for a new house)

Like Dad (or anyone else that lived in my childhood home), I can’t bear to toss books out. I can hardly stand to drop off a box at the library or resale shop for fear they will never be looked after and read by anyone else. I also like to rescue books, especially old ones. I haven’t been to any used book sales for a couple of years, partially because of the boys (can’t just browse and keep them from toppling stacks) and because I don’t have room for $50 of  5-50 cent books in this little house. (But if we ever have our own house, I will have a library) I’ve had boxes given to me, full of romance novels (something I usually don’t  read. But there are a few authors that write mysteries sprinkled with “adult” scenes that fall into that category), and put them on my book shelves so that they aren’t hidden away somewhere in the dark. I know. I am strange. I am one of those people who get emotionally attached to characters in novels. It takes me a few hours, if not days, to come back totally  from an especially emotional read (I live life but will sometimes find myself crying from say The Fault in Our Stars). I will pass some on to others I know will read them (like the romance novels to Mom). But most I will read and reread until the binding breaks and the covers fall off.

The clothes are two other stories.

The first are mine (and Joe’s). I have a bunch of tee-shirts that I don’t wear anymore from sports I played or from places I’ve been (his are old band and car ones) that I want to make a quilt out of one day. Those take up a majority of  the little space that we have here. And there are a smattering of maternity clothes that I was almost constantly in for 3 years. The rest I guess you could consider semi-classic pieces: solid color fitted tee-shirts, jeans, dressy blouses, dresses and skirts that don’t go out of fashion quickly, plus a few seasonals. But when those get worn out, I can’t toss them. I feel some need to hold on to them, to try to make something new out of them. Then there’s those that I *might* fit back into one day (at least 20 lbs to go). I’m working on it, so keep your fingers crossed for me. (No, just pray for me to find the strength get rid of the clothes!)

The other are the boys. It’s really hard to get rid of some of theirs. I received several diaper boxes full when I was pregnant with Joey from a couple different people. Some of those the boys never wore because they were such chunks when they were born. There’s 2 large diaper boxes full of baby baby clothes that haven’t seen the light of day. Other, that goes along with the maternity clothes, is that a new baby every 14 months I couldn’t get rid of them. If there was a onsie that I just couldn’t get clean or I dyed pink. (Don’t wash shop towels with anything but other shop towels and run an empty load after.) But even now (20 months and no new baby! hooray!), I feel like if I get rid of all the baby clothes, I’ll jinks myself and have to start all over again. Yeah, there’s something wrong with my brain. It’s usually pretty logical, but around this it’s not.  But maybe, if there ever is a new baby on the way, it’ll be a girl! Hahaha. I am not ready for that.

Is there anything that you just can’t bear to part with?

Let’s Try This Again.

Hello again. So it’s just shy of a year since I’ve added anything to this. It’s not because I haven’t written anything. I have, but my writings have all been in notebooks or journals. And I haven’t had the time, energy, or really the means to bring any of it here.

You see, life with 3 little boys can be horribly overwhelming. (and for those parent-bloggers, I don’t know how you do it! You’re amazing!)  There is one of me. I don’t have twelve arms or 3 sets of eyes to keep constant tabs on them (and yes, that’s 4 hand for each child, and most moms of little boys know that the minimum that you have to have when those awesome little balls of energy start to move). And that’s not my style. I am not a hover-er, which if you happen to be, awesome, because that’s your style and you should own it! Sure, that means I have lots of little heart attacks when I see the Joey (whose 4 now) jumping off the top of the Cozy Coup, and Tony (the baby, he’s still one) trying to follow big bro’s every move. Or have “lost” Billy (whose 3rd birthday is next month), because he is obsessed with the tractor in the shed, and that should be the first place I look, but for some reason my brain fails me (which happens more than I’d  {see what I mean? I had to come back when I read this to Joe tonight at 1 am}. His little legs carry him pretty far in the 30 seconds I watch Joey run really fast to the far back of the yard because he has his “really fast shoes” on and I dodge fists fulls of sand being hurled at my shins by Tony. So I’ll grab Tony so he doesn’t make a break for it to the neighbors’ chicken coop, and dash around the house and end at the shed and there’s Billy saying “HI MOM!” in his adorable little voice. (OK so this only happened once (so far this spring), but it just emphasizes the the things that {did it again here too…} happen around here with the little monsters. 🙂 )

I know what goes on in their sneaky little brains. They know there is only one of me. (are human clones or robot look-similars available yet? Because that would be great.) So some little thing in their brains sends signals to the others, and they quickly determine, with amazing calculations, who has the best chance to sneak away while the other 2 cause a diversion. Yup, that’s got to be how they do it.

Well, however it happens, one is going to be getting into some trouble while the other 2 are occupying my 2 arms and 2 eyes. And over the course of several months, the keyboard on the laptop lost all of its keys, at least 2 cans of soda were spilt (no, I am not British, I prefer “spilt” over “spilled” in many cases), and one unfortunate night the screen got shut on a bottle of nail polish and that was nearly the final nail in its coffin. Thank goodness that hard little worker had a VGA port and I had a monitor sitting unused. And I could pull up the onscreen keyboard. Such a pain, but at least I could retreat to Facebook to browse the lives of my friends that I miss at nap time. And if no one interrupted me for the 10 minutes it took to hunt with the mouse I could comment on something. And by some act of computer elves, the keys began to work without the key tops.

But we have just purchased a new wireless keyboard and mouse (with one of those little USB dongles). And I picked up a pen that will record my writings and transfer them to the computer so hopefully that will help me get my new writings from paper to here.

So we’ll see how it goes for… I’m shooting for 2 posts a week. I can do it this time! See ya soon! (this week only one because it’s Friday and weekends are family time. Especially this weekend being Mother’s Day)

Why are you scared of the potty?

Potty training stinks.

Yes, there is the smell. It invades your nostrils and lingers. Then having to wipe little bums covered in poo when they don’t make it to the potty. Getting said poo on your hand while you’re trying to wrangle little wiggly worms from escaping so the poo doesn’t get on anything else that they will sit on when they slip out of your clutches. Or trying to advert a major disaster; them stepping in the diaper that didn’t make it into the trash, then running throughout the house, over tile and carpet, ending up jumping on our bed with little poo covered feet. Yes I’ve been there, done that. Of course all that comes with diapering little ones, not just those potty training.

But with Little J it’s more than just that. It’s a nightmare to put it mildly. When I say, “Let’s use the potty!”, there are ear-piercing screams of some unknown fear when I set him down on the potty. “No! Potty scary!”  If you were to walk by our house, you would think I am murdering the poor kid. He gets hysterical.  It’s beyond throwing a tantrum. He kicks and flails. And it scares me.

It’s scary for both of us. It scares me because my sweet mischievous little boy becomes a terrifying monster. It scares me because I don’t know how to help him succeed with this. I’m not sure why he is scared of the potty, whether it’s sitting on a big hole or because he doesn’t understand what is happening when he goes. The latter may be true, but when we ask him about what goes on in the bathroom he tells us. We might have just drilled it into his head and he is repeating what we’ve told him.  However, I’m sure seeing Mommy not knowing what to do is also frightening. I get frustrated and sometimes let it show. I’m only human after all.

And so his he. Everything I can think of, I’ve tried. I’ve read so many methods and reasonings that my head might spin down the drain. Many say he’s just not ready yet; that he doesn’t know that it’s happening; or the diapers are hindering his next steps. I’ve done potty dance after potty dance. I’ve rewarded him with stickers and M&Ms. I have special potty seats. I’ve sang songs, read books, watched videos. Nothing has worked. He still refuses to go on the potty.  He knows when he has to poo. He goes and plays in his room, hiding from us, while he poos. While we are out of the house, he goes with no hint that it is happening.  If he is naked or wearing big boy undies, he doesn’t care that there is pee running down his leg. And he also blames it on W if we ask him if he’s gone.

I’m at a complete loss with this milestone of toddler-hood with Little J. I’ll just keep chugging along and hopefully he’ll get on board the potty train.  Maybe W will be better with the “poo-poo potty”. Fingers crossed.

!!!!!!!!!!SUPER BIG UPDATE!!!!!!!!!!

I had written this on Monday night (7/1) after a very frustrating day of no diapers. It is a compilation of what we’ve gone through for the past year of trying. Little J’s terrified screams are what got me the most.   That day there were lots of sippy cups filled with watered down juice and crackers and toasts in an attempt to keep them having to pee all day long. Along with that, I was running both boys to the bathroom every 20 minutes to try to go. I think lots of the yelling that day coming from Little J (and my headaches) was a result of being “forced” to go and me not trying to tailor it to his needs.

Tuesday we took a break. No forcing him to go, no excessive amounts of fluid. I let them all follow me to the potty. And eventually both big boys wanted to sit on it.

Wednesday, I started the day with them overly upbeat. First thing, we went potty. No screams! I left their diapers off. Then, I let them pick out a sheet of construction paper in their color choice. (they both picked blue) And we started giving stars every time Little J went potty on the potty and for W every time when he sat on the potty regardless if he went or not. I made every time a huge deal. It worked for the most part. Little J and W were both peeing on the potty! W got a diaper for naptime while Little J stayed bare bummed for quite time. All was going well, until I went in to my bedroom for a laundry basket. There on the floor was a pile of poo. With my help, Little J cleaned it up. And that seemed to do the trick.

Thursday, J was home because it was the 4th. Again, both boys were naked from the time they got up to the time we left to go out. Everything went great. Little J was running to the potty every time he had to go and would proudly come tell us. It was great. Then it happened. He came back out and proudly said, “Daddy, I poot.” (yes, he adds a ‘t’ to the end of words the end in ‘p’) We both nervously looked at each other but hurriedly followed him into the bathroom. And there in the potty was what J described as “man poop’. HE WENT ALL BY HIMSELF!!!! It was glorious! No icky diaper and minimal wiping.

Before we left home, we made an “On the Go Potty Book”, complete with its own set of stars for each boy. We did have a couple of  accidents when we journeyed to Grandma V’s but he was wearing clothes. We got right back at it when we got home that night and over the weekend. It was great.

It’s been a little over a week and there has just a couple of accidents, mostly pee and mostly while playing in the sprinkler. We’ll just keep giving stars and being super excited.

Hopefully, in a couple of weeks at least one of the boys will be totally diaper free! Keeping our fingers (and legs, potty dance style) crossed!