Most of my Phone Photo Friday pictures are from my Instagram feed. Follow me @mahlbrandt if you’d like!
Have you ever had moments in real life where you had the immediate reaction of wanting to hit command+shift+z (or ctrl+alt+delete for you PC users). It’s a smack in the face when you remember that in real life you can’t just hit undo. Remember how I wrote a post about Ali transition to her big girl bed? And I even said “I feel confident calling it a great success.” I am now eating those words. I must tell the whole story: I was wrong. She was not ready. UNDO! She did wonderfully for 2 weeks. The night after her first day of potty training is when it all started falling apart. That’s also the night my hands and feet caught on fire with HFM. And Jason was in the Netherlands.
My main motivation for transitioning her to a bed was so that when she became potty trained she could get out of bed to use the bathroom as needed. I think it was a mistake for me to explain to her how to do that…even encouraging her to practice going from her bed to the bathroom. It was like a flip switched… You mean I can get out of my bed? Whenever I want?! I’ll spare you the details but from the next week after that, every night but one and ever nap time involved screaming, crying, tantrums and fits related to not wanting to go to bed, stay in bed or get back in bed. Last Friday night I joyfully put her crib side back on. Enough of that $%&@! I need to sleep! Also, she’s been doing fine staying dry during nap time and she’s not staying dry through the night anyway. So, in retrospect, I think it was worth a try but I have very few reservations about putting her back in a crib for a few weeks, months or even another year as long as she’s staying safe in there. I think she’s feeling much more secure about it too. Bed times and nap times have been peaceful the past several days. I’m planning to continue some of the language we’d been using, calling it a bed instead of a crib and reminding her at night to stay in her bed and wait in bed until one of us comes to get her in the morning (even though she doesn’t have a choice.)
Yes, I think I bit off more than I could chew and pushed her into too many new things all at once. I’m thankful that the potty training is going quite well.
For the first time in the past seven years, we sold a vintage furniture item and replaced it with an IKEA item. Maybe it’s the modern house we live in now rather than a 1955 ranch. Or maybe it’s the practicality of IKEA with families and small children. It’s probably both… The other part of our couch decision was based on the layout of our living room. This long Karlstad couch with chaise utilizes the space in our living room better. After Ali went to bed on Friday night, Jason and I started to assemble it. He had to leave in less than 2 hours for bus call. We scrambled and got the room put back together just in time! We haven’t had a couch in our living room for two weeks so it was so nice to sit here and relax a few times over the weekend. When Ali got up on Saturday morning I told her we got a new couch. When she saw it she said, “New couch! I want to sit here,” as she climbed up onto the chaise. “I want to watch shows.” I put a show on for her—a DVD that is—I didn’t perform.
I think she’s a fan!
The gray pillows aren’t a good fit for the beige couch but they’re functional for now. I think only one end table is going to work with this set up so we have to find another home for the other table and switch some lamps around. We’re also working on some art ideas for the big blank white wall.
Since Lucy keeps photobombing all my pictures, I figured I better just give her a proper portrait. Lucy the chocolate cocker spaniel at 8 years old:
Ali Mae, you have grown and changed so much in the past month! You’re back to being an only child again after 3 months as a foster sister to Buzz. Right after that transition happened, I started working my way down my to do list (things to accomplish while we don’t have any foster placements in the home) which included some big changes for you. I turned your crib into a bed. I’m currently second-guessing that decision and we may go back for a while… You became potty trained for the most part, though we still have to remind you. The concepts of wet/dry have been learned pretty well. You started preschool two days a week and you are loving it! Every time we pick you up you’re having a blast dancing with your classmates and you say “I love you!” to your teachers when we leave. You’ve been talking more and more lately, often in sentences and starting to say some really funny things. Sometimes you get the order of the words mixed up, for example “I want cookie too Ali.” You have learned all of your colors (thank you Preschool Prep!) and are currently working on numbers and letters. There is no rush, of course. You have plenty of time before you need to have those things mastered. Because I’m a designer and Daddy’s a musician, we get particularly excited when we see you interested in art and music. We recently walked around the Parthenon replica at Centennial Park and when we walked up the back steps you looked up and said, “Deautiful.” You repeated it several times. That’s the first either of us have ever heard you describe a place or sight as beautiful. A couple days later we went into West Elm and your interior design loving parents were again amazed to hear you say it as you took in the atmosphere of the store. Music is also a big part of your day. Every time we get in the van you say, “music please” … repeatedly until we respond. At night you request “daddy’s music” on your CD player and often turn it on by yourself. Daddy set up a keyboard for you in the playroom which you love to play with and refer to as the “pino,” like pinot. We often catch you singing ABCs, Twinkle Twinkle and other simple songs all on your own, as well as singing along with the radio and CDs in the car. I love that your imagination seems to be growing and getting more creative while you play, too. You’ve always been a content and happy child mixed with a good amount of drama and passion. Lately your emotions have sometimes come bursting out so quickly that I think it’s catching even you off guard. We’re trying hard to be patient with you while encouraging you to develop self-control and regulation.
Speaking of beautiful, happy and dramatic… we recently had dinner with two of your biological siblings and their mom. You three have a lot in common! You had fun dancing to music together and dressing up with accessories and generally just having a silly, wild time together after dinner. It had been around a year since we’ve seen them last (a crazy busy year for our family) but we plan to get together much more frequently in the future, now that all three of you are finally old enough to really play together.
The other day while you were picking out your shoes, you said, “awesome.” I told you that I think you’re awesome. You responded, “Daddy’s awesome too, Mama.” I agreed and asked if you thought I was too. “Mommy’s awesome, too. Ali’s awesome, too.” I love you so much, Aligator. I think know being a mom would be so much fun. You make it way better than I ever imagined. You really are awesome, kid. I’m blessed to get to be your mom.
I’ll spare you all of the details and any photos, but last weekend I had hand, foot and mouth disease. I survived! It started out last Wednesday as a low fever (99.4-100.0) and a sore throat for two days and then developed into excruciating burning and itching hands and feet. The peak of pain was 24-36 hours. It’s been 8 days since the initial fever started and my hands and feet are still irritated a little bit. Absolutely tolerable. Saturday thru Sunday afternoon was HELL … I’m pretty sure it’s the worst thing I’ve ever experienced. Walking through the house felt like walking over smoldering coals. Touching things, putting pressure on my hands, felt like touching flaming hot fiberglass. At the better times it felt like the pin-pricks of when your hand or foot falls asleep. I alternated ibuprofen and acetaminophen every few hours for days. Aloe vera gel would give me a couple minutes of relief. I thought I was going to lose my mind. Ali was not sleeping well at night or nap times (though she never got sick, thank God!). Jason was out of town…out of the country actually. My usual back-up is my mom and she was also out of town. My dad came to my rescue multiple times. This happened at 3:00 Sunday morning when Ali would not go to sleep and I had no fight left in me…all I could do was cry.
My dad had been awoken by a nightmare and had been praying for about 10 minutes before I texted. After a very long night for all of us, my dad took Ali with him all day on Sunday so I could rest. I sent out a desperate plea for prayer on Instagram and Facebook and was thankful for the response from friends everywhere. I slept for a couple hours and watched movies most of the day to stay off my feet and try not to use my hands.
My dad made us dinner Sunday evening and then I took Ali to the airport to pick Jason up. It was so good, SO GOOD, to have him home. He took over at bedtime and got Ali back into her proper sleep habits again. She was stuck in a rut for a couple days, fighting bedtime and waking in the middle of the night, maybe somehow related to me being sick and/or potty training. On Monday I started improving rapidly. I was able to tolerate water warm enough for a shower and I started getting the house back in order. Tuesday I was well enough to take Ali to her check up and to work at home the rest of the day. I still have faint red spots on my hands and feet and some itching and burning but it’s totally tolerable. I am so glad that’s over. That was an experience I would never wish on anyone! I am extremely grateful for the good men in my life: For my Dad who came over to help and encourage and give hugs (even in the middle of the night!), and to take care of his granddaughter all day on Sunday. And for my husband who didn’t get to come home to a clean house and a happy, energetic wife after being on tour in Europe for 3 weeks but who jumped right into Daddy mode taking care of Ali. He encouraged me out of my wallowing and motivated me to start moving wellness. The atmosphere in our home was restored as soon as he got back.
By Monday evening I was ready to get out and enjoy the beautiful weather. We took a family walk around Centennial Park.
And I’m finally well enough to sample all the treats that Jason brought home from Sweden, Norway, Iceland and the Netherlands. The puffin is for Ali. The rest is for ME…OK, I guess I’ll share with Jason.
I had taken a vacation day on Friday planning to go visit friends in Ohio with Ali but a sore throat and mild fever made me change my plans. Since we’d be stuck at home all weekend, I decided to tackle potty training Ali using the Toilet Training in Less Than Day method. The night before training we practiced by teaching all of her baby dolls how to use the potty (even Little Lucy dog and Ms. Broccoli!)
She did awesome the first day! Two accidents and FOURTEEN successes! We spent the whole day in the kitchen, dining room, and bathroom with the exception of her nap time and a little time outside. Lots of drinking liquids and eating salty snacks and sweet reward treats for keeping dry pants.
She was so proud of herself! The next day was a little sloppy because I wasn’t feeling well…more about that later. But she did pretty good. Something like 8 successes and 4 accidents. We took one outing. I was planning originally just to go to the pharmacy and back but decided to stop at H&M so Ali could pick out some fun new undies. She rocked her first public restroom experience.
By Saturday evening, my weekend started to crumble apart as I got sicker and sicker with hand, foot and mouth disease. WHAT?! Yeah, I’ll tell you about that sometime. Potty training essentially went on hold then but I’d say she’s 75% trained. Optimistically… We’re using pull-ups as back up this week. Darn you, HFM.
After Buzz went home and while Jason was gone to Europe, I went on a crazy reorganizing, cleaning, selling spree. While we had two energetic toddlers bouncing off of everything at our house, we decided that our vintage sofa was too precious for our home at this stage in our lives and foster parenting journey. Yes, the sofa we spent 80 hours last summer reupholstering. Gone! It now belongs to a young woman in Alabama where I’m sure it’s enjoying the single life and is no longer being jumped on by little pipsqueaks.
We’ve decided to resort back to IKEA. When we got married in 2003, we were all about IKEA. We had a few second hand items and gradually replaced everything with the big box Scandinavian modern. In 2007 when we bought our 1955 ranch, we started replacing IKEA items with vintage items…usually could sell the IKEA furnishings for much more than the estate sale and thrift store treasures we were scrounging up. This may be a first step in the other direction for us… we’ve sold a vintage piece of furniture and replaced it with an IKEA piece of furniture.
For now we have a very empty living room but
hopefully by the end of this week we’ll be picking up one of these:
We’re still trying to sell these American By Martinsville tables. I thought I had a buyer but they backed out. If you or anyone you know is interested, please let me know. We’re happy to negotiate.
Ali is at the age where she loves to do whatever I’m doing and she loves to help. “Ali help Mama!” I’m taking full advantage by encouraging her to do more jobs around the house. After her bath I have her take her clothes to her hamper and put her shoes away in her closet. If the playroom or her bedroom need cleaned up we usually do it together before nap or before bath time. When I’m doing laundry she still sets me back more than helps BUT I’m finally finding ways she can help, handing me clothes out of the dryer to fold and sort, or pushing the wet clothes into the dryer for me. Other than that, she likes to unfold everything I fold and mix it all up.
Lately she’s learning to do a job that Buzz had mastered right before he left – feeding Lucy in the morning. (Side note: Our dog has a crazy complicated feeder with five compartments that rotate on a timer. The spaced out meal times through out the day help her blood sugar stay up and she has less seizures and vomit — actually she rarely ever has either anymore.) Ali still needs help lifting the bag and scooping the food but she’s getting the hang of it. Here’s a recent picture of Lucy, the poor old cocker spaniel who doesn’t get photographed much anymore.
What are some of the first chores you gave your kids? Any other suggestions for appropriate jobs for a 2 year old?