Friday, January 18, 2013

New Year's

Even though it is cliche, I make New Year's resolutions. I don't always share them, but I find optimism and promise in making goals for the year. This year, I complete forgot about making a resolution as we recieved news that our dear cousin Eva was losing her battle with cancer. She passed away on New Year's Day, after a short battle with a rare and aggressive lymphoma. Eva was the kind of person that made an impression on anyone lucky enough to cross her path. She was an amazing daughter, wife, mother, and friend. In recounting some of our favorite "Eva stories", I found my 2013 resolution. This year, I will apply some Eva-isms to my life.

Eva-ism #1: Make people feel valued
Everyone who spent time with Eva, from family and friends, to those she taught or coached, felt valued by her. I remember spending weeks in NC during the summer when I was a kid. Eva usually took me shopping or swimming with her and her friends, and never made me feel like her little kid cousin (even though I was 4 years her junior which is a big difference at 12 and 16). In fact, I don't know if my aunt made Eva take me with her, or if Eva did it on her own- mostly because she always made me feel so included. But that was Eva, she always took time for people, listened to you, and made you feel that she enjoyed being with you.

Eva-ism #2: Make life fun
You couldn't spend time with Eva without smiling and laughing. During my summers in NC, Eva would wake me up by singing and dancing ridiculously. She would say "don't sleep your vacation away!" Sure, she could have let me sleep, or woken me up with a normal "wake up!" But that wasn't her style- Eva never did normal. Even while battling cancer, she made things fun with her quirky sense of humoer. At Eva's first chemo session, she took a picture dancing with her IV pole and joked about pole-dancing.

Eva-ism #3: If you don't like it, don't do it
While at a waterpark with our family one summer, Eva, Catina, and I grabbed some lunch. I don't remember what Catina and I had, but Eva had a slice of pizza. About halfway through, she took a bite, paused, and spit it back out. She explained "the pizza was gross and it hit me; I don't have to eat it." In a world where we feel like we have to finish what we start, sometimes we need to remember that if it isn't good for us, we don't have to keep doing it.

Eva-ism #4: Health is important
I'm not sure I've ever met anyone quite so healthy. As a teenager, Eva would blot the grease off of her pizza (while we lovingly mocked her "it's too greasy!"). Eva ate fruits and veggies. She also was a gymnast, a pole-vaulter, and walked and rode her bike regularly. I also know she brushed her teeth before bed, even on those nights when she was super tired and didn't feel like it. But that was Eva. She didn't make excuses for unhealthy behavior, she made time for healthy habits.

Eva-ism #5: Challenge yourself
Most people are content with riding a bike. Not Eva. As a teenager, she decided she wanted to ride a unicycle. While visiting over Christmas break one year, she brought her brand new unicycle and started practicing. To our amazement, she was riding around my parent's house in no time. Eva always seemed to pick a unique goal and would go for it. She would take the time, put in the work, and conquer each feat while making it look easy.

See, my cousin was a pretty amazing person. She managed to fit more life, laughter, and love into her 34 years then most people could hope to put into 100 years. I don't think I can ever fully explain how extraordinary she was. The best way I can think to honor Eva's memory, is to help carry on some of her awesome spirit. I invite you to join me, and apply a few Eva-isms to your life over the next year.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Fun with the flu

The flu has hit my house.  More specifically, the flu has hit two of my kids, and so all four have been taking Tamiflu to keep it from spreading.  My kids will be quick to tell you that the only thing worse than the flu is the taste of Tamiflu (which is confirmed by the "blech" face they all make when the medicine goes down).
K has always been really good about taking medicine- until this week.  When medicine time rolls around each day, she clamps her lips together and refuses to take her meds.  We've tried reasoning, sweet talking, and even being tough. In true princess fashion, K has realized that this is the perfect time to make requests. 
First, she insisted that I sing while she take her medicine.   No problem.  I can't carry a tune, but was more than happy to make up a song if it would help my babygirl will feel better.  The next day, she insisted on a song and some Gatorade with a straw to follow her medicine with.  Again, I obliged (especially since Gatorade seemed a much more logical request).  Then she stepped up her game- she wanted the song, the Gatorade, and some chocolate ice cream.  Since her fever had gone down and she ate all her dinner, I went with it. 
Meanwhile, the boys groan at medicine time, ask "do I have to?", give a resigned sigh, take their meds, shudder and make a face.  I guess that is the difference between boys and a babygirl.  The boys will "man" up and do what they have to do.  The princess will use the yucky medicine to her advantage and come out with a song, a drink, and a dessert.  And who knows, tomorrow she just might end up with a pony. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


I bribe my kids. 

There are standards to my bribery, though.  I don't bribe them if they throw fits that embarrass me. I don't bribe them to lie.  I don't bribe them to get the tv or iPad back.  No, I am very specific in my bribing: I will bribe my sons with small rewards if it is for something that will make them better people. 

G has fought me on potty training.  I will take some of the blame for that.  I am ashamed to admit that I pushed him to do #2 on the toilet too early.  This resulted in him refusing to go at all, either in diapers or on the toilet.  The closer he got to having to go, the more he fought me.  After using stickers and a Skittle for each pee-pee for months, I moved on to a slightly higher bribe.  I bought six Jake and the Neverland Pirates figurines and set them up on the microwave.  There they sat, smiling at G, waiting for him to poop on the potty for a month or two.  Each poop would earn one pirate.  He earned two or three until yesterday when he earned the entire set...and kept using the potty as he should today.

At Christmas, he berated the constipated dachsund from his Doggie Doo game, "You'll never get a pirate!"

What changed in G's mind?  Well, for one, he was finally ready to train.  I found with both he and B that plays a big part.  The other (possibly more) deciding change, was the newest bribe: Thomas the Tank underwear.  We talked about it for a while, then visited them at the last Wal-Mart run for Pull-Ups.  G tried to sneak the drawers in the cart, and threw a fit when I took them out.  I explained to him, though, that I didn't have enough money for Pull-Ups and underwear.  I told him we'd come back when he stopped dirtying Pull-Ups.  I let him hang them back up on the rack and wave goodbye.  Two weeks later, he's earned all pirates and is wearing big boy underwear.  We buy Thomas this weekend.  Heaven help me if they are sold out. 

B is a good reader.  However, he doesn't choose to read.  This baffles me, as his two older boy cousins love reading, and often do so.  They beg to go to the library, and polish books off in no time.  B adores them and wants to be like them...except in reading.  He will read for every reading challenge at school, though.  The most recent challenge helped him tear through several chapter books.  It was well written: read 30 of 51 days and color the clipart for the day red if you read 10 minutes, yellow if you read 20, and green if you read over 20.  B is just compulsive enough to have to see green for every day, so he read 21-30 minutes each day until the last four days of the challenge. 

Then B borrowed a comic Ninjago book from the library.  He was hooked!  I helped him request a bunch of Ninago books on the library's website.  He was so excited to pick them up...until he saw three of them were chapter books.  So now I'm bribing him.  For each Ninjago chapter book he reads, I'll buy him a Ninjago minifigure.  

So is bribing right or wrong?  I'm sure that could be thoroughly debated.  I see the greater good, though.  For a very small reward, G will overcome a fear of pooping.  B will read more, which is a skill that correlates to performance in school.  The goody is a carrot to get them to strive towards a goal, but bribery alone won't accomplish a longterm goal. I've decided to read each Ninjago book so that we can talk about them.  Maybe we'll read other books and discuss them.   Spending time together will be a positive memory for both of us. My hope is that one day they work without the small rewards because they'll be such good people.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Piece of Cake

My boys often help me bake.  Don't be alarmed if you've eaten baked goods from our home: they wash their hands really well first.  They help me follow directions, measure, and mix.  Today Josh made a cake, and they insisted on helping. 

B was banned from helping, as he may have the flu.  During the entire process, we had to hear his, "Aw, I want to help!"  G was elated that he was the only helper today.  B balked at the brown eggs we put in the cake.  He'd never seen brown eggs before.  What kind of parenting is that?  G began wisking as Josh and I consulted the box to see if a mixer was necessary. 

When we turned around, G was chewing.  When asked if he'd eaten any batter, he replied, "Mmmm!"

This cake will be just for our family.  I can't say that I'm disappointed. 

Then, ask Josh mixed, G burst into a fitful of giggles.  He pointed at the mixer.  Between giggles he spat out, "Mixer...farted!  That...mixer...farted!"  Ah, boys in the kitchen.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

To Nap or Not to Nap

During Winter Break, G began staying up late.  He is usually in bed by 8 during the weekdays and maybe 9 on the weekends, with some exceptions.  During break, there were a few nights where he'd hop out of bed to tell us something or go potty until 11:30.  The stories were lenghthy, and G was energetic. 

Josh mentioned that maybe G was done with naps on the weekends.  I did not agree or disagree, mostly because I wasn't sure that he'd mean it when the next weekend rolled around.  G, however, remembered.   This afternoon, I asked Josh if he was sleepy.  G immediately announced, "Daddy said I don't have to take naps at home anymore." 

Josh tried to backtrack and tell him he needed a nap, but G wasn't going for it.  He remembered the new decree.  I must have looked panicked, because Josh said, "Just because he doesn't take a nap doesn't mean you can't take a nap."

That is good because I hold true to the sage advice, Nap while the baby is napping.  My baby is three years and three months, and B has known for that amount of time that if he wakes me up, there will be three nappers.  So I have blissfully napped during maternity leave and most time off since then. I didn't wait around.  I checked with Josh to see if he was ok with me napping right then, then hightailed it to my cozy bed when he agreed.

I awakened to a quiet house.  B was on the couch, resting from possible flu.  Josh was outside.  I asked B where G was.

"Under the coffee table.  He fell asleep during Timmy Turner."

Thursday, January 10, 2013


This morning, I could not find the pair of dress pants I wanted to wear.  I thought they were in the closet, but they were not.  They also were not in the hamper or on the couch, waiting to be folded.  My khaki pants are a little too tight after the holidays, so I picked out a dress.  I don't know why I hadn't worn the dress to school yet.  I'd bought two pairs of boots on Black Friday, so I should have been more motivated to dress up. 

I asked the boys to choose burgundy or grey tights to go with the black dress I was wearing.  They went with gray.  Normally, they'd go back to their own little worlds of Innotabs and matchbox cars after making a fashion decision for Mommy, but today they stood transfixed as I donned the tights. 

Guys, putting on tights can be a major workout.  At first, they seem like socks.  However, after pulling them up to the knee, one must rebunch, pull, then go back to the bottom to incrementally tug so that enough slack can be gained to pull up to the thigh.  I wear control top tights.  To comfortably wear these, I had to dance the twist and repeat the process above.  Then I had to reposition the control part of the thigh section so that it was not too bunched at the top, but not too stretched.  Too bunchy hurts, too stretchy pulls them down.  Then I had to pull the waistband from the outside of my my dress since I didn't want to be unclothed in front of my boys. 

I could tell from their faces they were wondering why on earth one would wear anything that was so complicated. I'm pretty sure the three-year-old was calculating if there was benefit to attempting to use the potty if one had to mess with such an apparatus. 

You know what, though?  I felt good wearing a dress today.  I got a few compliments, and that's always pleasant.  I might just go through that again one day next week.  If I do that often enough, I may just burn enough calories to fit the khakis again.