Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Grinding it out

Nothing really Earth-shattering going on at the moment, just marching our way towards summer and all that entails. A few updates on things here and there, just to keep you in the know.

The “new house” is slowly but surely coming together. We still have a ways to go to make it perfect (if there is such a thing), but little by little we’re getting things looking the way we want them. We’ve painted our bedroom and have decorated (most of) the walls with pictures and other artwork that Mommy B has acquired/created. We also purchased a desk so we could have the computer in a more permanent location than the kitchen bar area. Having this desk set up also allowed us to put away and organize some of the few remaining boxes of stuff we still had lingering around. The computer and our paperwork now have a home and our bedroom looks much less cluttered. I feel better now.

Next on the honey-do list was painting and updating the laundry room. The previous owners (bless their hearts) painted the laundry room this dark, burnt-brick color that makes the poor room look ever more claustrophobic than it already is. This is the second time in as many houses I’ve owned that the previous owner painted some random room that color – must be a southern thing. In any case, that color choice and the single ventilated shelf wasn’t going to cut it for us, so we gutted it and are starting over. I’ve spent the last couple of nights cleaning, mudding, taping, and painting to get this room looking much more inviting. Not that someone ever really wants to spend copious amounts of time in the laundry room, but we figured with two kids we’ll be spending enough time in there that it should look better than it did. Tonight I’ll be sanding the holes I patched and putting on the final coat of paint. Then we’ll be calling in the professional, a.k.a. Pops, to help us install some shelving and cabinets to put the finishing touches on the room.

Since the weather has been so nice the last couple of weeks, I’ve also been doing some outside chores that needed to get done. Said chores include trimming the dead prons of a couple of the palm trees we have in our yard (I know, tough life, right?), cutting down a small tree, and clearing about 800 square feet of woods/brush from behind our back fence. Much of the foliage was starting to creep over the fence and into the yard, and the decomposing brush just beyond the fence had the potential to house various snakes and other critters. Well, with two small children and a nosy dog just feet away, I knew that had to get addressed. Pops and I got out the chainsaw and limb cutters and went to town. Not only did it clean up much of the crap that had been just tossed over the fence for years, but it also exposed some huge palm trees that were previously hard to see from the house. Nothing like improving your view from the porch while making the place a little safer for the kiddos, am I right? I’m sure the deer appreciate a nice clean walking path as well.

Once the laundry room gets its final coat, the next room to paint will be the playroom. We already have the supplies (including the paint) and Mommy B has already taped off the majority of the room. So once I finish in the laundry, we’ll head upstairs and begin cutting in. My hope is that we’ll be able to get cut in and I can come hard with the roller and knock it out. Our goal is to get the room painted as soon as possible so we can begin hanging up some Ringling posters and other circus memorabilia. The room has looked pretty bare since we moved in, and even though we finally have a pull-out couch for guests to use, we still want to get the room decorated for any potential visitors.

Mommy B is on her last “break” before her final quarter of school. We’re trying to get as much done around the house as we can while she’s free because once this final quarter starts, I might not be seeing her very much. For this final quarter, she has to shadow some other nurses during her already-limited “free time.” I forget how many hours she’ll have to log for these classes, but it could entail her entire day off each week as well as some hours here and there after her regular 9-hour shifts. She might even pick up some Saturday shifts so that she can have another day off during the week to shadow. Bottom line, it doesn’t sound like it’s going to be much fun for the next 12 weeks… for anyone. But, the silver lining is that this is the last quarter, the last dance, the anchor leg, the final 100 meters down the home straightaway towards the finish line. Anything and everything that’s left in the tank gets used right now. The end is in sight, and she’s almost there. It’s been tough, but we’re optimistic that it’ll all be worth it when it’s over. I know a certain someone who’ll be looking for a big ol’ bottle of wine come August. And maybe a vacation to somewhere more tropical.

Kids? Oh yeah, them. Well, they’re still simultaneously testing our patience and stealing our hearts on a constant basis. The things that Alli puts together and figures out on an almost-daily basis astounds me. Even when they’re mildly gross and/or inappropriate, I still stop and think to myself, “Wow, she really thought of all that on her own?” For example, last week she randomly said “We don’t go pee-pee in the pool because it’ll turn yellow… and the pool has to stay blue.” Well, not quite the reason I would have given, but I like where you’re going with that one. A few hours later in the bathtub, she said “If you toot in the bathtub, it’ll make bubbles.” That is A) gross, and B) very true. Good observation, precious. Not all of her proclamations lately have been of the bodily-function variety, but you get my point. Grossness aside, these were statements she conjured up all on her own, without any input from anyone… she was simply stating something she figured out on her own. Hopefully not from experience with the whole peeing-in-the-pool statement… but you never know.

Aiden is fitting right in with his new classroom. Granted, he has known most (if not all) of the boys he’s in there with for a long time. But his teacher said it took him less than a week to really come out of his shell and stop playing the shy, quiet kid. We all knew better, and figured it would just be a matter of time before he started being his usual self. He’s saying more and more words these days, and if I can’t understand what he’s saying, Alli will translate for me. He still wants to do everything big sister does – if not before her, then immediately afterward. We took him to the pool a couple weeks ago and tried out some puddle jumpers that actually fit him now. Yeah, it took him about 2 minutes to figure them out and start swimming after his big sister. They are both such water babies, which is a good thing living on the coast. We haven’t taken them to the beach yet this year, but I have a feeling that might change very soon.

My brother’s wife and their two kids are coming down for the long Memorial Day weekend. Our plans basically include spending as much time outside and on my parent’s boat as possible. The weather is supposed to be gorgeous, which will be a nice change since the last time they came down it rained the whole time. I’m really hoping that Alli and her cousin Max pick up right where they left off last time, because they were absolutely adorable to watch playing together. I’m sure Aiden will try to keep up, as will his cousin Charlotte, but I’m sure that will come with time. Just gotta keep on grindin’…

Friday, May 9, 2014

It’s that time again

The time has come for Aiden to move up to the next class at school. He’s a rompin’, stompin’ terrible-two-year-old who’s ready to start playing with the bigger kids. He’s about the same size as them anyway, so why not? This week marked his last week in the “Toddler” class at school, and he’s been visiting his new classroom each afternoon to get acclimated to it. His new teacher has known Alli since she was in the infant classroom, and even though she technically never had Alli in her class, she knows all about these two troublemakers.

This move means a couple interesting changes for everyone. First, it means that instead of dropping Aiden off in the “younger kid’s” room then taking Alli down to the “bigger kid’s” room in the mornings, now I’ll be taking them both down to the same room. Since I drop them off so early, they usually gather all the kids into a couple rooms before splitting off into their individual classrooms. Since his new teacher is the one who watches that room in the mornings, she told us yesterday to just bring him down there from now on. I said, “Okay… you asked for it.” So last night we kept telling Alli how her bro was going to come with her to her room in the mornings now, and she was so excited. We have a little ritual of getting a package of crackers when we walk in the door and she’ll sit down at the table in her room and eat them before she starts playing. I told her that now she’ll get to sit with Aiden and both of them will have crackers each morning. She couldn’t wait to get to school the next day, it was so adorable. With this new class also begins the always adventurous potty training endeavor. He seems to be grasping the concept of the potty (after watching big sister so much) and tells us he’s gone after the fact, but we’re working on it.

This morning came and went exactly the way I thought it would. We got to school and instead of taking Aiden to the right, then Alli back to the left – we all turned left, grabbed a package of crackers and headed toward the “big kid room”. We made a pit stop in Alli’s classroom so she could drop off a present for her teacher (since it’s Teacher Appreciation Week) and use the potty.

We then went back to what will be Aiden’s classroom for the next year or so. Alli went flying in as usual because she knows that room well and many of her friends were already there waiting for her. Aiden was a little hesitant when we hit the doorway, so I scooped him up and gave him a big hug. Alli was already saddling up to the table getting ready to devour her crackers, and she had a seat saved for her little brother right next to her. Aiden was a little clingy at first, but once I showed him that he has his very own package of crackers and asked him if he wanted to sit next to Alli, he couldn’t get down fast enough. I opened both packages for them and naturally they both dug right in. I knelt down in between them and gave them both big kisses and hugs. I looked at Aiden and told him to have fun (and to behave) hangin’ with his big sister. I then turned to Alli and said, “Listen Al, you take care of your little bro, okay?” She looked up at me and with a mouth full of saltines replied, “Okay, Daddy.”

I got up and walked out feeling so proud of those little buggers. They haven’t exactly been a picnic lately, as Alli has been picking up a little attitude (we call it being a “Threenager”) and Aiden has been mimicking her every move in addition to becoming more independent himself. She runs around, he runs around. She whines and cries, he follows suit. I know this is completely typical (and normal) at this age, but it still tests your patience. I’ve said it a hundred times – now I know what it feels like to live with someone who’s bipolar. You say one thing wrong and it’s a total meltdown. You try to speak softly and calm them down, and it just makes things worse. Two minutes later they’re happy and laughing again. The phrase “emotional rollercoaster” has never been more appropriate in our house at the moment. So, witnessing this moment this morning was quite a lovely change of pace.

I wish I could have taken a picture of them sitting at the table together to mark the occasion, but a mental picture will have to suffice for now. Maybe I’ll get one on Monday, if I remember. The real reason I wanted to capture this moment is because I know that in a few years, it won’t be cool to hang out with your sibling. Especially your “little bro”, in Alli’s case. They looked so happy to be together even though they play together at home all the time. I’m really hoping they continue to build that strong bond that only siblings can know and feel. As for me, I have to deal with the fact that we don’t have any “babies” anymore… and I’m not liking it as much as I thought I would. Sort of.