Clueless

There are certain elements of parenting that I expect some people figure I have down pat considering the number of young children in my house. Actually, there are some elements of parenting that I think I should know forwards and backwards by now, but I’ll be real honest and say, “Nope. I am still (always?) running in Novice Mode.”

Take today’s Adventure in Parenting, for example: Day One of Potty Training Truman.

By the Fourth Kid you probably have a system for that, right? Or at the very least remember the ups and downs, the ins and outs, the highs and lows of at least some of the previous children’s experiences, right? RIGHT?!

Again, I’m here to tell you, “Nope. Apparently not.”

I legit remember next to nothing about how it went, much less how we did it for any of the other three. Maybe that’s because HD was just too blessed long ago (I do remember preschool was a motivator and it must have worked) and I think RL and LT really learned from watching their bigger sibling(s), but with Trumy, there’s been no training potty in our bathroom for two years, so what does he know about such things? So what if we’ve been hinting at putting pee in the potty for months? Toddlers have no concept of time or parenting goals, and until you actually fly by the seat of your Paw Patrol undies, what hope is there of accomplishing anything??

img_0952Because of all our South Dakota trips this summer, we’ve been putting off the task (and putting off the task) but apparently after breakfast this morning we decided to just go for it and put him in his big boy undies for the first time. And then we set an alarm on Ben’s phone so we’d remember to ask/have him try every dang 15 minutes in hopes of avoiding accidents. I may not remember much (anything?) from the other kids, but I do know this tactic is new and it semi-worked?

I question it because he definitely had a huge accident this morning 2 minutes prior to the alarm going off and by the end of the day he was flat out screaming at us that NO he did NOT want to GO TO THE POTTY anymore, sooooo. Maybe a good idea? Maybe not? Because really it was just a lot of false attempts, but he did actually do his business TWICE throughout the day and didn’t have any more accidents, so maybe we’re on to something?

Don’t you love how confident that sounds? lol

Like pretty much everything in parenting (life?), this feels like a crap shoot (sorry; couldn’t resist the pun) and only time will tell if we’re on to something. But once again, we have the hope of preschool ahead for him, plus he’s almost three, so it really is time to start at least trying this next big thing.

And if nothing else, thanks to the blog, I will at the very least remember this when it comes around to training the fifth.

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One out of Five

And just like that, we’ve passed another milestone and are one step closer to being out of the Tunnel of Parenthood (I sometimes imagine an ominous three-note dity in my brain when I use that phrase. You?) However, seeing as the milestone in question is that of The Nap, I don’t know whether to celebrate or lament in this post. And also the Tunnel is time dependent, not milestones, but whatever. My brain is tired, so I’ll take the weak comparison and run with it.

Over the weekend we made a last minute decision to travel to SoDak for an overnight trip so we could see my grandma Gert and our travel + visit times both Saturday and Sunday meant that we weren’t in a house during nap time either day. And apparently the vehicle is no longer a sure bet for napping where Truman is concerned, so….there. His nap gone without intention, our toddler is now free to reign alllll the live-long daylight hours.

Actually, he’s handling it pretty well. The first day, Saturday, was at my parents’ house, so Truman had lots of fun distractions around him (mainly their puppy who is as much a toddler as TJ is) and was so worn out after supper that he agreed to going to bed before any of his siblings without any fuss. All told, he had a few Moments, but nothing too horrendous.

Day Two, Sunday, saw us traveling during the mid-to-late afternoon hours which for a suddenly non-napper translates to Witching Hours pretty quickly. The last 45 minutes were horrendous. But eventually we got home and we’ve now gone through two more nap times without naps and I guess we are surviving?

img_0313I mean, the volume level is intense and the end-of-day emotions are intense, but this is not the first toddler to drop a nap in the Twos (actually, he might be one of our longer nappers, if memory seves me right), so we kind of know what we are doing. Or at the very least, we know that bedtime will be easier and earlier and that alone will see us through one more step through that Tunnel. Right?!

If nothing else, those blonde curls and blue eyes continue to be the perfect salve for any and all chaos he creates.

 

 

Early Mornings, Late Nights

As any teacher (or former teacher, or spouse of a teacher, or spouse of a teacher who is also a former teacher herself) knows, the Fourth of July is a signal that summer has shifted. I don’t know if the official term is called a downhill slide, or what, but summer tends to speed up after the 4th and before we know it, all of those back-to-school meetings and events and actual First Days arrive front and center.

As it stands, I am perhaps more anxious about the upcoming school year than others, but not for regular reasons. Normally I’d be trying to figure out my own teaching (which I am not doing because I am taking off the semester from adjunct life) and getting kids to various (pre)schools of their own (oh, that’s still a fun little rabbit hole to let the mind wander down from time to time, don’t worry). But this post-July-4th, I find myself wondering just how in the world I am going to keep up with this dude once Daddy is back to work: img_6771-1

Trust me. He is the cutest little solo elephant herd you’ve seen, and he does about as much damage as an elephant bull can manage in less than 60 seconds, no problem. This includes structural (he’s got his mama’s long arms and there can reach ALL kinds of places he shouldn’t, not to mention the climbing he does) and physical (Lord in Heaven. Can someone please send bubble wrap? And a helmet? And elbow pads? Crashing, bashing, and wiping out seem to be what this kid was made for these days and he’s got the bumps and bruises to prove it!). But mostly he’s got SUCH a mind of his own and I’m not really sure how my eventual third trimester self is going to handle his activity level, much less his attitude and his sprinting in opposite directions of me. I haven’t been a runner since before babies, Baby. Knock it off.

Thanks to the previously mentioned 4th, I am still very much worn the heck out. That whole week of people blowing up money all over town meant for so many late nights that I didn’t want to have and left me feeling, once again, totally behind on sleep. Then you add in the fact that I still occasionally wake up and can’t go back to bed in the 4’s (hello, Early Bird), and I am. Just. Tired.

And headachey. SOOOOO many headaches with this pregnancy…it’s getting to be a bit ridiculous.

Of course, there are still plenty of mornings when I skip over that super early rising, but when one of them happens to coincide with an unnamed child who will soon be 8yo (whoops) getting up and coming in my room a half an hour before he’s supposed to leave his own bed (which is still freaky early for most folks), well – chaos. Shenanigans. Not enough naps and coffee and headache remedies to counter all that. And that’s just it – because Ben is still on break, I still get to take those naps! So what am I going to do after the first week of August when he’s no longer around?! Oof.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: no mother(-to-be) needs practice at being tired. Until someone can show me the science behind why the body/brain do this to pregnant (and postpartum) women, I will continue to give Mother Nature the WTH face because obviously we all know that tired is coming with the new baby; it’s really not needed now!

Tunnels, Light, and What’s that Smell?!

You guys. It is here! The end of the biggest year ever of adjuncting and, ta-da!!!! My final grades are entered! I did it!!! Do I currently sound like an over-sugared 5yo who just found out she gets more sugar? Yep, and I’ll own it because this year was a PUSH and after all that we are not only at the end of an academic calendar, we are also at the point of making the LAST PAYMENT on our debt snowball!!! Yeah, I think I’ve earned all the !!s and imaginary cartwheels I can muster right now because this year+ of effort has been intense and deserves a moment of recognition.

The other incredible news? I am starting to feel human again! And two weeks ahead of schedule AND without taking my B6 anymore. Can you believe it?! We were so caught up on Saturday morning with soccer games that I totally forgot to choke down my pill and since I still felt fine-ish by noon, I decided to just go with it the rest of the day. And then I didn’t take any yesterday either, or this morning, and I am totally still standing. WhooHoo! I had honestly gotten so gaggy every time I tried to take one that I wonder if they were starting to be counter productive. Whatever the cause, since I’m no longer feeling quite so face-dragging-on-concrete, I will totally take it (and again do imaginary cartwheels). Side note: ironically, last night, after approximately 30 hours of feeling better-ish, I had a massive attack of heartburn. Ahhhh, growing a human – it is never dull!

img_6035-1Also, never dull? Life with toddlers. Trumy had a heckofa time of it last week with a cold that turned into a nasty cough and then, on Friday afternoon (of course), a spikey fever and then seemingly better over the weekend and then last night at bath a Do-Not-Touch-My-Right-Ear most likely ear infection. Took him in this morning (after I got HD out the door and RL dropped at preK) and sure enough – infected! But now we’ve got meds and he’s got the first dose in him and is taking a late morning nap and hopefully all will be back to his table climbing, snack mess making, normal self very soon. And all this before 10:00 today! I realize this entire post just sounds like a big ball of self-congratulations, but seriously. I feel a little bit like Wonder Woman to have handled all this already today.

Less than wonderful, however, is the unknown smell coming from my kitchen. I mean, I get that my housekeeping standards have been less than stellar lately, and maybe it is just my uber/pregnant nose being sensitive, but something in my kitchen needs to be found and removed. IMMEDIATELY! But I’m not that much over my queasiness to feel brave enough to go searching and eliminating, so I’m not really sure how this is going to go. Can I somehow avoid the kitchen for the rest of the day until Ben gets home and I can put him on the task? LOL. Nope. Not an option. But dang – what the heck happened in there? Is it the the trash? The sink? Heaven help me (and hire me a cleaning service for a month, please).

Minus the cleaning fail in the kitchen and the fact that I’ve got a kiddo on meds (but hey, at least he can also now be on the mend), I feel like things are coming up a bit rosy for the Welschies on this Monday morning. We’ve been in some dark, long tunnels in the last weeks/months/year and suddenly it seems like there might just be light at the end of all of them. Incredible!

 

Can’t We All Just Get Along?

11 Weeks. Today I am 11 weeks which puts me 1 week away from bump pictures beginning and still 3 weeks away from feeling human again. Here’s what I’ve learned about Baby No.5: with said baby, one feels (and looks) very pregnant for a very long time (and this little gem of wisdom from someone who still has 3/4 of the way to go!). And of course every single second of it – the upset tummy and disturbed sleep and holy-mother-of-never-have-I-been-so-tireds – is worth it. But do I dare tell the truth and say that somehow some of these seconds seem to last hours? As in 14 weeks, much less 40, feels light years away still and I am continuing to struggle a bit with our day-to-day.

Now, of course, our days have been rather extreme this entire school year what with all the adjuncting and business starting and eventual new-human-growing, so I’m trying very hard to give myself some space and grace around the fact of this struggle. I wouldn’t expect anyone else to fly through these months with a constant smile on her face and 100% of her shit together, so why do I kick myself for being human, and especially right now? It’s unnecessary. I still haven’t had a chance to write about the awesomeness that was our Sunday workshop with Lora McCarville via Grounded Sky @ Prairie Loft, and I promise that is still coming, but I mention it here because it helped remind me that this – this crankyness, this tiredness, this holding on for dear life – is an extenuating circumstance. In fact, some things are already lightening and brightening.

For one, my semester is in its final week. I have some stacks of grading to tend to yet, but the end is NEAR. VERY NEAR, and I have learned that this double-nights-a-week business is not for me. While I’m thankful for where the elbow grease got us this year, I am not looking to do it again anytime soon.

In another move to lessen the demands, I made the call to offer less yoga this month. That may seem like an interesting choice to some for a growing business still very much in its own infancy, but if I can’t model self-care and self-preservation with my own life and career, then what business do I have in teaching these things?

The one place where conditions could still improve (besides my tummy which seems to get most cranky between 9-10 p.m., making my attempts to go to bed peacefully very interesting) has to be with handling all the momming that must continue, especially in regard to the one who will no longer be the baby by the end of this year. Yes, when I ask, “Can’t we all just get along?” I am specifically talking to this dude: the one who both refuses to leave my side and wants to do All The Things on his own. img_5951How is that even possible? How do you get a kiddo who is 100% committed to both clinging and independence?! And because language skills are still slow coming, the amount of fussing and whining and other forms of communication add to the draining factor of chase me/don’t put me down/chase me/don’t put me down/chase me/pull me off this piece of furniture/don’t put me down/chase me/get me a snack/not that snack/retrieve me from some place I should not be/don’t put me down/chase me/don’t put me down/don’t sit down either EVER. Yep. Not joking. But that on loop and welcome to my days (with just one of the Littles!).

As far I as I know, there is no cure for Tired Mommy + Rambunctious Toddler, so we’ll just keep chugging along, hoping some sort of balance comes soon. There are just a couple weeks left in the school year and then I’ll have my co-pilot back to help (actually, take over, at least in the mornings as I am planning to teach a 5-week summer class) AND best of all, I’ll finally cross the 14 week mark and be in that blissful second trimester stage of functional human again.

We Are Living in a Toddler’s World

And it is a scary, scary place. Actually, for him, I think it is quite fun and entertaining, but from the standpoint of the person mostly responsible in the day-to-day for keeping him from a) hurting himself and b) destroying every blessed thing in sight, we are are struggling.

Am I alone in thinking that with each new stage of independence/mobility, a different side of the personality comes out, too? I have a feeling this will continue all the way through parenthood (i.e. when they start to drive, leave for college, etc.), but it certainly rings true in my world in The Tunnel as of late.

Now that Trumy is officially upright and mobile, and trust me it’s not walking – it’s running – I feel like most of my time spent with him when he’s awake is an even split between feeding him (he’s growing so much lately, it seems) and keeping him from danger. I’ve had friends tell me in the past that their kiddo was a wrecking ball as a toddler and the image always made me chuckle a bit, I thought sympathetically, but nope – I did not truly understand that term until now.

The biggest problem is that what TJ thinks of as danger (nothing) is not the same as what I see as danger (um, everything?). Let me give you some examples:

He LOVES to climb up on anything he can and even when he’s on the floor, he’s got my img_5405crazy long arms that LOVE to reach up and pull whatever they possibly can from any and all tables and counters and surfaces. This means no ones’ cups or plates are safe if left too close to the edge of the table when he is loose, and don’t get me started on the piles of school papers that he keeps spreading all over the kitchen floor before I get a chance to deal with them.

He LOVES to get into the bathroom where he inevitably sticks his hand in the toilet if someone was forgetful enough to close the lid (*ahem* everyone but me) and also LOVES to get up by the sink to mess around with the sink itself (which, let’s face it, probably isn’t the cleanest spot) and/or the toothbrushes.

He LOVES to throw shit down the laundry chute. In the last month I have found so many toys and books and shoes and food items mixed in with my laundry; while it makes life a bit more interesting when doing the wash, it is less cool when it involves a sibling’s shoe that is MIA before school the next day (or three days later and we still haven’t found the thing).

He LOVES to throw shit in the trash, too. Now, that wouldn’t be such a bad deal if he actually restricted himself to putting trash in the trash, but oh no. A toddler’s mind is not wired that way, and mostly he LOVES to put whatever he wants in there (and sees nothing wrong with trying to retrieve things, either).

img_5338He LOVES to rip things. Dang it. I have always been so lucky in the past when it comes to kids and books, but No.4 is giving me a run for my bibliophile money because he KEEPS. RIPPING. PAGES. No, Baby!

He LOVES cords. And turning off power strips. And basically any other manner of electronic thing he SHOULD NOT BE TOUCHING.

So, OK. I’ll stop there. Not all of that is dangerous, but it does feel very Wrecking Ball-like, and it is wearing me out. Literally. My back and my right shoulder are sore from all the scooping up/retrieving of him that I have to do in any given day to keep him away from these (and other) potential hazards/problems.

Obviously I am thrilled with his walking and his development. And I even don’t mind the mischievous grins on his adorable little face when he’s pulling this crap, at least not most of the time. But I am questioning just how far I can go before this 4th Kid wears me down into the Oh Just Do Whatever You Want Stage.

Considering that he’d ransack the house and hurt himself in the process means that even once I’m there, I still can’t let up on the vigilance.

New World Record (for me)

Because my kids come from competitive stock, and they watch a lot of sports highlights with their Daddy, the phrase “NEW! WORLD! RECOOOOOORD!” is not unfamiliar to me. I hear it a lot, actually, and mostly from the 3yo which is just flat out entertaining because who knows how many new entries he has made for the Guinness Book of World Records of his own creation.

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My Tree of Life PicsArt – from 16 mo, because we just haven’t been able to get a new one done yet.

But, for real, yesterday was a big day – 17 months of breastfeeding Truman, which yes – IS a new world record for me. To recap: HD – 16mo, RL – 13mo, and LT – 14.5mo. All came off the boob, so to speak, for different reasons. And, true to form, TJ is also doing his own thing by going the longest and showing no signs of stopping anytime soon, which is fine with me.

Actually, this is especially fine because as cold and flu season continues, I am more than happy to keep giving him any antibodies I possibly can, not to mention fluids when he doesn’t feel like eating much. Such is the case this week as he seems to have picked up (shockingly) Lincoln’s head cold from last week. Poor baby. He is so congesty and miserable. When you add in the fact that in the last month he really just got the hang of walking and that he hasn’t been sleeping so well ever since Norovirus Hell 2017, I’ve actually got a fairly fussy but determined to be independent little dude on my hands. It’s been interesting, to say the least.

Some of you saw this yesterday, right? The bloody nose debacle? That’s because he fell img_5187while carrying around unopened Mt. Dew (which he did AGAIN this morning but thankfully – I guess – just landed hard on his bum and not his face) and then sneezed his snot face out into one heck of a Kodak Moment. Mom Life sure is glamorous, eh? But again, I say – you try telling him that it’s not a good idea to walk around with big awkward objects in your hands while wearing footie pajamas and with a head full of snot and still-newish to walking legs.

Logic and Littles rarely go together.

Hence the totally different approach to nursing this go, to which I say, you do what you need to, Kid; I’m cool with wherever this record decides to land. Although, let’s get over this cold quickly, OK? While I know sweet babe is not feeling well, a congested latch is NOT a fun thing for the mama either. Ouch!