Sunday, January 31, 2010

A Surprise 2nd Birthday Party

You may wonder how you have a surprise birthday party for a toddler.  Well, it was a surprise for me, not him. Benji's birthday is tomorrow, February 1st.  His family birthday party was planned for next Saturday, the 6th. This morning, about an hour before church, Mark had the idea to have the party this afternoon instead of next weekend. This made sense for many reasons: 1) It was to be be a beautiful sunny day today, and next weekend is supposed to be rainy  2) The gift we got Ben was a bounce house, for the purpose of being used indoors on rainy days to get the boys' energy out.  The next ten days are forecasted to be rainy (groan) so a bounce house would be really nice to have this week.  

I admit that it took me a few hours to come to terms with the fact that I now had to whip together a party in two hours instead of having lots of time to prepare (I love having lots of time to prepare for things), but we worked together to make it happen and it turned out quite well.  

We went to church as planned and then Mark took the boys to do some shopping, get lunch, and go to the playground.  While he was out of the house, I quickly whipped together some cupcakes and cleaned up the house.  When the boys returned home and went down for naps, we decorated and cleaned up the backyard in preparation for the bounce house.

Benji was so excited when he woke up from his nap and saw the decorations everywhere.  The cousins and other family members arrived just a few minutes later and he got to see the unveiling of his big gift: a bounce house!  He was so incredibly happy with his bounce house that the joy just radiated from his face.  He was in bounce heaven.  After the kids had their fill of bouncing, we did the usual birthday party stuff: sang Happy Birthday!, had cupcakes, and opened presents.  Later in the evening we transferred the bounce house indoors and let the kids bounce some more.  It was a really good time and I think Ben had a lot of fun.

Green cupcake frosting because "Bean!" is Ben's favorite color

If you drive past our house on a rainy day, you just might see this.

Matching jammies, handmade by the boys' great-grandmother.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

A Bit of Sunshine

It's been quite a week (two weeks, really) here at the Knapp house.  Because of Mark's company's ongoing acquisition (is that the right word?) he has been working extremely long hours, waking up at 4:30am every morning to go to work and often not returning home until 7:00 or 8:00pm.  In the past week, I think I've only seen him a few hours collectively. To be honest, it's been very hard on me having him gone so much lately when he's been working from home our entire marriage.

It wouldn't be so bad if everything else were equal, but as luck would have it, it's been raining almost every day for the past two weeks.  Rain = no play outside = restless kids = bad behavior.  Tommy's behavior has been uncharacteristically, and downright, rotten in the past ten days.  He went from being compliant and obedient 80% of the time to about 10% of the time.  The other 90% of the time he was obstinate and incorrigible.

As with most changes and transitions of behavior in my kids, it caught me completely off guard and took me a full week before I realized that Tommy's behavior was not a case of the infamous "Terrible Threes" and something that I needed to figure out or update my parenting tactics, but that he was simply in need of exercise.  And then I remembered other times in the past two years when Tommy didn't get his quota of exercise and had a similar pattern of behavior.  (You'd think I'd remember this by now!)

Luckily, but the time this realization hit me on Wednesday, the rain had subsided and I spent as much time outside with the boys as I possibly could.  We went to the playground by the library after Bible study and stayed as long as they could stand the misty cold.  I all but stood there with a stopwatch and whistle making them run laps around the place.  Later that afternoon was so much more peaceful and I had about 50% of my well-behaved boy back.

Then Thursday morning was spent running around Aunt Cameron's backyard, followed by a bike ride back to our house.  The Behave-O-Meter rose a bit more.  Then on Friday morning we went on a 1-mile walk (for me) and bike ride (for Tommy), then some errands, and then spent two hours in our backyard digging in the dirt for worms, playing "parade" and running races.  Then after naps, we went to the playground for some more running, jumping, and climbing.

By Friday evening, the Behave-O-Meter was back up to 80% and I had my sweet boy back.  Now I'm looking forward to a few more days of clear weather outside and peaceful behavior inside before we're hit with another ten days of rain.

There would be photos accompanying this post, if I hadn't left the camera outside overnight and discovered it dew-covered this morning.  Oh, it's been a long week.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Potty Training Update - One Week Later

It's been a week since I decided to end the 3-day potty training and go with the flow (pun intended). Things have been going really well with Ben's potty progress, a lot better than I expected. He can hold his pee for at least an hour and a half, and we've had only one accident a day since last Sunday. We've gone on with life as normal and I didn't stay home like I said I would, but instead I took the boys grocery shopping, to Target, to Bible study, and to the playground (during the hour-long respite from rain this week). Ben always stayed dry while away from the house, and he had no problem going pee in public restrooms (it took Tommy a month before he would willingly go potty in public). He usually stays dry during naps and wakes up dry in the morning about 50% of the time! He's also been pooping in the potty about 50% of the time. He's improving noticeably every day, which is more than I could ask for. He still doesn't tell me when he has to go pee or poo, but I know that will come in time. I'm so proud of my potty pro!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Thursday, January 21, 2010


I don't often use this word, but I'm going to have to say that watching Tommy and Ben play together is a delight.  I so enjoy watching their relationship as brothers grow through their different stages of development.  They both seem to truly love playing with each other, almost every moment of the day.  Sharing is thankfully not even an issue anymore, since they willingly share with each other now.  One example is that lately Ben has been getting two M&Ms for going potty (one for telling me he had to pee, and another for actually going) and he'll often give one of the M&Ms to Tommy.  Talk about sweet.

I am so thankful that God gave us two boys close together so that they will always have each other.  I'm looking forward to watching their relationship deepen over the years.

Notice Tommy's foot on the box. He and Ben were (gently) pushing each other off the box and jumping.

Even though Tommy was done with his lunch, he stayed in his chair and scooted it closer to Benji so they could giggle together.

Reading Green Eggs and Ham to Ben

Tommy said, "Benji, come sit on my lap!", so he did.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Little Stinker

Ben's potty training didn't go as well as I expected.  Despite my confidence in his readiness (which I still hold), he showed almost no interest in learning to go potty.  He did exceptionally well the first day of training - he only had six accidents in the morning and then a big success at lunchtime (he started to go, but then stopped and told me he had to go potty, so I whisked him off to the bathroom just in time).  The rest of the day was mostly successful as well.  I figured we would have our breakthrough (him learning to tell me that he had to go before he started to have an accident) sometime during the second day and we could wrap this whole thing up in 48 hours.  Boy was I wrong.

The second day was nothing like the first.  It was as if I was potty training a different child, one who could care less where or if he had an accident, and "forgot" how to tell me that he had to go.  We had only one success when I caught him with his poo face and rushed him to the bathroom just in time.  That was early in the morning.  The rest of the day was a disaster.

Day three started out very much like day two, even down to the poo-face-rush-to-the-bathroom move.  After three hours of accidents, I decided it was time to retreat and reevaluate my strategy.  I talked with Mark about our options.  I talked with my sister-in-law Cameron who had a recent experience potty training a less-than-willing child (ie: one who has the ability, but lacks the will).  

What I came up with is a plan to continue potty training, but to be a bit more relaxed.  I'm going to keep him in underwear and put him on the potty when I know he has to go and praise him when he goes.  I'm not going to act negatively about accidents, but matter-of-factly ask him to help me clean up and remind him where his pee belongs.  I'm going to mostly stay home during this coming week and see if he gets any better at recognizing to me when he has to go.  Hopefully he'll gradually make the transition towards telling me when he has to go.

Putting Ben back in diapers and re-training at a later time is so not an option at this point.  I've dedicated three days to this effort and I'm not prepared to give up and count those days as loss.  Plus, I'm not convinced those days are a loss anyway.  I think Ben is choosing to pick this as a battle.  He's normally a very easy going boy, rarely has a tantrum and is generally compliant.  But once in awhile he'll pick a random battle with me and become a strong-willed child for the duration of the battle.  It could be a five minute long battle over saying "Yes, mommy.", thirty-minute long battle over whether or not he's going to clean up juice he spilled, or a week-long battle over telling me when he has to pee.  I'm determined to win this battle, even if I do have to tweak my strategy a bit.

Thursday, January 14, 2010


Twenty-five pairs of big boy undies: $24

Pull-ups for nap time that pass as "nighttime undies": $8.99

Assortment of sweet and salty snacks as rewards for going potty: $25

Forty juice boxes, to promote lots of potty visits: $28

Saying goodbye to diapers two weeks before your 2nd birthday: Priceless

I'm going to tackle potty training Ben during this long weekend using the same 3-day method that I used with Tommy. Why so soon?  Because he is so ready for this step.  He goes pee in the potty any time I put him on, he swipes Tommy's underwear from his drawer and tries to put them on, imploring, "Wear undies?", and he has the physical ability to hold his urine for long periods of time (up to 2-3 hours).  He stays dry for naps, but not overnight (which I've realized is not a sign of readiness, despite what many sources say.) 

After reading this book, I started working with him at 18 months on going to the potty at regular intervals throughout the day, such as when he wakes up in the morning, before and after meals, before and after nap, before we leave the house, and before bedtime.  He's very good at going pee at those times and sometimes holds it between those times, but not reliably. He needs work on recognizing when needs to pee and holding it before he gets to the toilet, which is where the 3-day method comes in.  It's a crash course for kids in learning to recognize the urge in time to go to the potty.  

This time around, I'm actually looking forward to the training.  I learned a lot from my experience with Tommy and bought watered-down versions of juice boxes (Trader Joe's sells 1/2 water, 1/2 juice boxes) and mostly salty snacks, as well as some fiber snacks that will hopefully promote solid movements during the training, so we don't end up with another child who refuses to go #2 in the potty for seven months after being potty trained.  

I'm also looking forward to having three whole days alone with Benji, who normally doesn't have the benefit of my undivided attention.  It's going to be (mostly) fun to have nothing to do besides staying by Ben's side and play games all day.  Besides the supplies listed above, I'll also be stocking up on favorite shows & books from the library as well as digging out some forgotten toys from our closets.

Mark and Tommy will be having fun daddy-son dates each day of training.  I'm not sure what they have planned yet, but I know Mark is looking forward to spending one-on-one time with his son. 

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


That's the name of this contraption.  

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Sunday, January 10, 2010

A Fresh Perspective

This Saturday while Mark was away for a few hours fixing up a friend's house, I got The Urge to organize the boys' closets. I've learned that when this Urge comes on, I just have to take advantage of it because it's fleeting - when I have The Urge, my work goes quickly and I enjoy it.  When I try to organize without The Urge, it's drudgery.

So, I put Cars on the TV, armed the boys with snacks, and got to work.  I cleared out some old toys and outgrown clothing, moved some furniture around, and reorganized toys. What resulted was an impromptu form of toy-rotation.  If you're not familiar with this concept, toy rotation involves keeping a small number of toys out for play and storing the rest.  This way children become more interested with a small number of toys, and when they lose interest after a few weeks, you put them away and bring out the stored toys, and Voila!, new interest in old toys!  

Instead of storing toys away as in traditional toy rotation (which I've found to be more work that it's worth), I simply moved toy bins around from room to room. I moved the toys from the boys' room into the living room, and visa versa.  Amazingly, Tommy gained new interest in his train set that was untouched for weeks, simply because I moved it to a new room.  He played with it all day Saturday and all Sunday morning, until we had to pry him away to go to the playground and then have lunch with grandparents.

Hot Off The Press

Our book of our blog arrived this weekend.  I used Blurb's book publishing software to make it.  It was very easy to use and only took about two hours to put together.  Although I'm very happy with the way this book turned out, I learned a lot about the process and have good ideas of ways I can improve our 2010 book.

Friday, January 8, 2010

For No Reason...

...except that these were too cute not to share.

Second pile-on of 2010

Reading with Nemo (I swear this wasn't staged)

Mid-morning nap

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Recent Quotes & Conversations with Kids

1. "Daddy, can you sit on me?"
(Mark has a game where he pretends to sit on Tommy, and Tommy pretends that he's being squished.)

2. "Mommy, can I do laundry please?"
(Tommy saw me folding laundry and wanted to help.  Yeah, that lasted all of 20 seconds.)

3. "Tommy, get your head out of the toilet!"
(He was leaning over into the toilet trying to look down the pipe.)

4. "Tommy, don't lick the car."
(Tommy actually licked the car.  I have no idea why.)

5.  "Mommy, I'm going to have a baby in my tummy when I grow up to be a mommy."
(Tommy, after talking about Aunt Cameron's baby that will be arriving very soon.)

6.  (Looking at a photo of Benji as a newborn) "Benji, you used to be so tiny!  Where's my baby? "  Benji then lifts up his shirt and points to his tummy.

7. "When I grow up to be big and tall like Daddy, I'm going to eat a lot, a lot of food!"
(Tommy, declaring his future occupation.)

8. "That looks like Aunt Cameron's car!  Look, that one looks like Aunt Cameron's car too!  So many cars look like Aunt Cameron's car!"
(Tommy, after seeing a silver Dodge Caravan, and then a white one.)

9.  Conversation between the boys, which is happening a lot lately now that Ben's speech is improving exponentially every day:
Benji: " Happen' wain, 'Ahmee? [What happened to the train, Tommy?]
Tommy: "It fell down."
Benji: "Why?"
Tommy: "I don't know!"

Me: "Can I eat your feet, Benji?"  (then I pretend to eat his toes)
Benji: [giggles] "No!"
Me: "Why not?"
Benji: "Cuz....mine!"

Monday, January 4, 2010

On Not Getting What I Want, When I Want It

In many ways I feel like a child when it comes to my relationship with God.  I suppose that God designed it this way, so that when we become parents we could have a tiny bit of insight into how we relate to Him and how He relates to us.  And that once we realize that we are but children of our Father, that we would be humbled.

It's no secret that Mark and I are trying to get pregnant.  Things are not happening as quickly as I would like them to, but it's only upsetting me because I have the same I want that now! mindset that my almost-2-year old has.  

But what happens when I don't get what I want?  Well, over the past month or so I've been having a tantrum.  No, I haven't been kicking and screaming on the floor (like some people around here), but I have allowed myself to slip into the kind of thinking that God warns us not to have because I haven't gotten what I want.  I've been allowing myself to complain, if only to my husband and close friends.  I've allowed myself to compare my situation (namely, being un-pregnant) with others around me - and believe me, there are lots of people around me who are pregnant with whom I have been comparing.  I've allowed myself to wish life were otherwise - I wish I had my third baby with us this Christmas, instead of "only" two children.  And I have been dwelling on tomorrow, instead of today, by allowing myself to become preoccupied with trying to get pregnant.

Obviously, all that complaining, wishing, and dwelling isn't getting me anywhere, except maybe depressed.  The holidays were hard for me because it was the week of Christmas I realized that I wasn't pregnant this month and it made me very sad.  

Well, one lesson I've learned in the past year is that I only hurt myself when I keep "private" matters to myself and don't allow others to give input.  So I shared some of my frustrations with a good friend, who directed me to this book: Calm My Anxious Heart.  Thanks to Amazon Prime, the book arrived on my doorstep two days later and I've torn through the first two chapters and study guide, and have committed some very important scriptures to memory, like Philippians 4:12-13:
I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

and Philippians 4:6-8
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 

As strange as it sounds, I am thanking God for not giving me what I want when I want it.  If I were pregnant right now, sure I'd have a third child on the way, but my mind and heart would not be in the right place.  I would just be like an ungrateful child who is happy for a moment because it got what it wants.  In this way, God is teaching me to be content no matter what happens.  Even if I never have another child, I need to learn to be content with that.  I'm not there yet, but with God's help, I hope to learn the contentment He wishes me to have.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Climbing Fun

We found Ben doing this:

So we thought it would be a good idea to take him here:

Friday, January 1, 2010