Memorial Day Weekend

 
Cold temps and very little sunshine didn't stop us from having a traditional Memorial Day weekend filled with BBQs, beer and good friends. We had our first overnight visitors with kids -- Chip, Julie, Simone and Jefferson. It was fun to have a full house but definitely a little chaotic with all the energy of four kids.


The Spences arrived midday on Saturday and we had burgers and hot dogs ready so the kids could stick to their 1pm naptime.











 

In fact, just about everyone ended up laying down for a nap. Simone was a helpful sous chef for some of my prep for the next day's BBQ. After nap, it was off to our favorite park for a bit before pizza when we got home and the kids burned off some more steam.



Sunday we visited the Discovery Museum and did all our favorite spots -- the train room, the hula hoops, the boat and the rock pit. We also got to check out the new Curious George experiment. Then it was crab sandwiches and fish and chips at Fish.














That afternoon Elizabeth and Jon and the kids came over and we had another BBQ.




So much fun and I think Dave and I finally got things figured out for BBQing. Some hints:
  • Get a huge tray. Without one, I'd make 5 or 6 trips. Now 1-2 and I can get everything down.
  • Keep a stash of BBQ necessities downstairs - mustard, ketchup, salt and pepper, beer can stay in the mini-fridge, plus paper plates, plasticware and cups.
  • Prep as much as you can in advance. When people arrived, everything was already downstairs, food was prepped (or in the oven upstairs) and all that had to be done downstairs was the grilling.
  • Always bring an extra tray or two, it seems like they're always needed
  • Have some kind of trash system -- we haven't mastered this but I just ordered 2 options on Amazon so that we can sort trash, compost and recycling and get it to the garage cans.
  • The little table for kids worked well -- I have my dad working on a mini picnic table but for now bringing down the little white table is fine. I can't figure out if sitting them on the grass or the patio is better. Cleaning up food from that turf isn't easy but I worry about the little ones like Jefferson falling off on the patio.
  • Hire a babysitter. Because we have a few concrete steps down, parents have to keep a close eye on any crawlers or new walkers.  We moved in at the right time and the boys were pretty good out there already. We had the girl next door come as an extra set of eyes, mostly to watch the steps, but since we had kids inside on 2 floors (at times) and outside, it took some of the pressure off the parents.
We had a fun weekend and the best was seeing how much fun W&G had with Simone. They adore her. They rolled all over her (not sure how much fun she was having!), loved pulling her little suitcase around and basically just wanted to be around her. We always have so much with the Spences and it's great that the kids have so much fun together.








25 Months

 
How quickly another month has gone by and we're now into the territory where I really shouldn't be counting by months anymore. But I'm not ready to drop the monthly posts -- I still feel like there are so many changes and developments each month that if I go too long between posts to document them, it will be a colossal post. So my goal is to keep up with the monthly posts, but to keep them briefer than previously. Here is my attempt at that...

Highlights:
  • Celebrating Mother's Day and a long weekend visit from Ma
  • Napa Valley weekend away
  • Celebrating Dedee and Papa's birthday 


Activities:
  • Swim: The 11:45am lesson time just wasn't working and neither was doing well. One spot opened at 9:45 so I took it and the teacher said it would be fine to bring either one. So I've been taking one and my mom has been taking the other to storytime at the library. And for the most part, it's been going great. The boys are doing much better in swim class and having the one-on-one time is so nice. I usually do something after with the one I take to swim, go to the park, run an errand, and then get lunch or a treat. Now I'm debating whether I'll even switch back to taking both of them; they seem to do better when the other isn't there.

  • Soccer: If you asked me a month or six weeks ago whether I would've been continuing with soccer, I would've said 'no way', but I actually contemplated signing up for the next session. It's amazing the difference between the first half of the session and the second. No, they're far from soccer stars, but the last month of classes has been so much easier to manage. They've generally stayed engaged, done the activities, made progress with the skills and most importantly, seemed to have fun. I still think I'll wait until they're a bit older, but I'm so glad I stuck with it and didn't back out after the first class like I was seriously tempted to.

  • MyGym: Again, major progress here. I now talk to them before class about staying on the red carpet for circle time and that they can choose to sit with me or Dedee, or the teacher. They're doing so great with this and are participating and having fun. I'm now seeing a lot more benefits of these type of classes, beyond getting energy out. They're learning a lot socially, about following rules, taking turns, etc. They're by far the best ones in class at waiting for a turn on the 1-person trampoline, though it's tough when other kids don't follow the rules and cut in front of them and have several jumping on there. That I can't control, but I'm proud of them for waiting, counting to ten and generally getting off after ten jumps themselves.


 




EAT:


  • They're getting pickier. 'No green noodles... YELLOW noodles' (did not want pesto noodles). Had to have peppers and onions picked out of chicken fajita burritos.
  • Both are great eaters when it comes to meat and loved ribs which they had for the first time this month.
  • They choose desserts based on their favorite colors, always yellow for G and pink for W
  • W (obviously) prefers oatmeal for breakfast, G, eggs
  • W likes orange cheese, G likes white cheese (though both will eat either if they're not being stubborn)
  • They now both like shrimp and W even had octopus this month and liked it
  • I never cook with mushrooms since I don't like them, but Dave loves them and got a mushroom pizza in Napa and both boys devoured it. Guess I should start cooking more with mushrooms. 

Schedule:
6-7am - wake up. Luckily this has settled around 6:30am most days, but it still falls within this range
Eat breakfast immediately
8am or so, come back upstairs and finish breakfast, eat a bit more
10am out for an activity
Home by 12:30
1pm W down - I've gotten much better about going potty and ready books by about 12:45 so that he can be in bed by 1pm, he's usually asleep quickly.
2pm G down - Same thing here, G and I usually head in to the room by 1:40. Some days takes G maybe 10 minutes to fall asleep
Up by 4pm
Out to the park
6:15pm Dinner
Bath, get dressed, play/clean up
7:20 Upstairs for reading
7:40 One more potty run, last book, in cribs for song and scratch
8-8:15pm (most night) asleep

SLEEP:

























  • Thank the Lord this has finally improved. It ended up being TWO MONTHS of terrible sleep for G. I'm not sure exactly what changed, but one night I decided to tell G that if he slept all night long, he would get a treat in the morning. Coincidence or not, G has slept through the night just about every night since. I think we only gave a candy once or twice, and never because he asked, I just thought it would reinforce it. We do remind them at bedtime, 'remember, we sleep all night long' and congratulate them in the morning when they actually do.
  • I started taking 'sleep notes' at the beginning of the month (before the candy) and it's been 2 weeks (minus 2 nights a few nights ago when G woke up briefly, teething) that they've made it all night long. This is huge.
  • Our new bedtime routine (included above) has made a huge difference. The key is that Jessica handles everything up until 7:20, then (if we're home) one of us takes over for stories and the rest of bedtime. G still doesn't go down perfectly -- there are some nights that he's fine and sort of talks for a bit before going down, but others that he whines/cries. We handle it different ways. W generally does better but it's almost worse if he's the one whining as G will then join in (if it's reversed W can still fall asleep). Moving their bedtime to later has also made a difference. 
  • They do fine when Jessica or my mom has to do the whole bedtime routine but only if we're not home and they know that. Everyone does a good job of letting them know what to expect and it's worked that they don't get upset if we're not coming in to read if we're not home.
  • Naps: As usual, there was a week of bad naps - W was only sleeping an hour or so before waking up and G had a lot of trouble going down and ended up on my bed for several days in a row. That was at the beginning of the month. For the past week. W has been getting a solid nap, but still waking up early (usually sleeping about 1-3:15). It's been nice to have 1:1 time with him, especially since he usually wakes up in a decent mood -- it's much harder to lose my naptime break when I have to deal with a cranky, crying kid. G has been going 2-4 (being woken up at 4) and it depends on the day if he's cranky or not. 

  • G can climb out of his crib now, even in a sleep sack (has been able to for close to 2 months). A few weeks ago, J had put him to bed and was talking to my mom downstairs when all of  a sudden they heard screaming and found G at the top of the stairs (gate closed luckily). He had climbed out. Jessica asked him when he was doing and he said kept saying 'I sorry Je-ka'. Another night, G was having a terrible night and both Dave and I had had enough. I put him back in bed and came back to bed myself and all of a sudden we hear little feet scooching along the wood floor. In comes G. We had to let him stay at that point. That was before the J episode and luckily even though he knows he can climb out, he hasn't since. If we get back into terrible sleeping though and have to leave him in there when he's mad, it may happen again.
  • W can unzip his wrap and sometimes we find him in there with it completely off. Luckily he doesn't climb out of his crib though, even though he can/has.
  • They both always use their pillows now, in fact, W was not happy the other day when I had to wash his and he didn't have it for bedtime. 
  • G is definitely a tummy sleeper most of the time and W is always on his back.


PLAY:

 






















  • Both are getting more daring at the park and luckily they're pretty steady so they don't make me too nervous. W especially likes to climb ladders and can get up even the 8+-rung ones.
  • They still love playing with their diggers in the sand but it's not like it was last month when they'd sit and play for an hour straight. They're much more active now.
  • A lot more rough-housing this month, which they both seem to enjoy. They're good about saying 'I don't like that' if they don't, but that doesn't always mean the aggressor promptly stops.
  • We've done a lot of reading this month. I figure between the reading before naptime, bedtime and throughout the day, we probably spend an hour and a half reading. Of course it goes through waves and it's usually the same few books all week. This week I've certainly had enough Dig!... We got them a library card and checked out a bunch of books last week and that's been a fun change.
  • Diggers, the garbage truck, trains, tools (the drill in particular) and Duplo legos are still current favorites
  • Sammy dog and Monkey bear are much more part of the day now and incorporated into most activities. They are not allowed out of the house.
  • They love playing in the backyard, riding their cars around or playing in the rock box with their diggers. I set up a couple of semi-lounge chairs and when the sun is out (rare lately!), it's lovely at least for a few quiet minutes.





TALK:
  • They both talk constantly and are stringing so many words together it's hard to keep up. G still sometimes mumbles but it's random. They're definitely saying more things that just make you smile. Not even because they're necessarily funny, but because you can't believe they're coming out of their mouth.
  • G said to W, 'but it's both of ours' when trying to get a toy from him
  • They love to sing and sing many songs now, including 'Georgie Wawee here today' like their song from swim class
  • Jessica got the best video of W&G at the park singing songs, they start with Old MacDonald and then W stops and says, 'Horsee, yes, Horsee', and then they continue on. It's like 2 minutes of their little minds working and them interacting. It has to be one of my favorites.
  • G cooks in his kitchen and says, 'little salt, little egg' and 'beep beep' when putting stuff in the microwave.
  • G sometimes calls me Mommy McDowell
  • G calls himself 'George Louis McDowell' oftentimes, or at least 'George Louis' (Lew-ee) :)
  • They both will shout 'Babe!' to get my attention as that's what Dave does :)
  • It's so funny how literal they are, mostly because we've tried to be literal with them -- W says, 'Move body George!' when trying to get him to move out of the way.
  • They're getting opposites and when I say something like 'Get in here G!', he'll respond back with 'No, get out here'.
  • W's current favorite is, 'See you later Mom!' as he heads into the bathroom and closes the door
  • They're saying more prepositions plus 'the' and similar words to be forming more of a complete sentence.
  • W is good at using the right pronoun, more likely to choose the right 'My' versus 'I' or 'Me' than G is
  • W even got the past tense the other day when I asked him, 'Did you see it?' and he said, 'I saw it'
  • They love to say, 'I still working' when I need to get them moving onto something else and they're 'still working' on something
  • The love to say 'Oopsy Daisy' but will do things on purpose to be able to say it constantly
  • It's my favorite when they said,  unprompted, 'I like it' or 'I like this one', especially when we're eating something. Now that I think about it's, it's often 'My like it'.
  • Unfortunately they've picked up my 'gosh darnnit', pretty much as bad as it gets for me. I actually rarely say even this but G especially has latched on to it...

POTTY:


  • G had 2 pee accidents this month
  • W had no accidents this month, but did go through a #2 regression for a few days and pooped in his diaper at nap or bedtime/wasn't going in the potty. We pushed a bit and read books in the bathroom before naptime and that got him back on track in just a couple of days.
  • So independent now, they run and go without me even knowing sometimes. They take their time more with #2 and are requesting privacy now (W specifically). The other day I walked into a toilet full of #2, dumped from two potties, G standing on the stool filling up the little pot part of the potty with water to rinse like he's seen me do.
  • They're good about pulling their pants up and down, but G doesn't like to pull his back up and will walk around with his pants around his ankles.
  • They're getting so much better at initiating going potty when we're out.
  • Sometimes W still is resistance but I think it's because he doesn't drink as much as G and really doesn't have to go as often. Sometimes he'll go with us and after trying just say 'nufing' for nothing.


MOM:
  • Officially wrapped up the JLSF committee year and I am no longer a committee chair. I'm thrilled that 5 girls from my committee will be co-chairs of three different community programs next year and our committee will be continuing in good hands.
  • Still playing catch-up a bit on random little projects but I'm making it to the end of my list (though we know the list always keep growing).
  • While I have made progress on putting away the computer while watching shows with Dave, I finally started Downton Abbey and have been marathon watching in the evenings, streaming on Amazon Prime on my Kindle so I can take care of other stuff on my computer. So really, not much improvement.
  • Because of the above, I find myself not getting to bed until 11:30 many nights as I try to get one more episode in.
  • In a good routine with working out at the JCC -- Mondays and Fridays I swim, then I do a mat pilates class one evening, pilates reformer another and one night of boot camp.

Date night: We ate at All Spice and were pleasantly surprised. We often have a nice dinner but wouldn't necessarily go back. The food here, as well as the service, was excellent but the place is definitely still under the radar. Only a few tables were filled and it certainly had a unique 20s atmosphere but I hope it will make it.

Looking forward to: Sunshine, pretty please? It has been the dreariest month. Sure, people who know SF weather expect the fog, but the weather we've had for the past 4-5 weeks has been typical of summer... and we're almost, but not yet to summer which really concerns me this could last a lot longer. It's been a high of 59 or 60 most days and we're lucky if the sun peeks through by the late afternoon. The last couple days have been misty too. So over it.

Excited for the family reunion out in Clovis in a few weeks. It's sure to be hot there!


To my boys...
You two are certainly boys and the rough-housing has peaked this month. Wrestling, pushing, rolling over each other, usually in fun. If I put you both in the same crib, then you really go at it jumping around and falling down together. But in general, you seem to be having so much fun with each now, a lot more laughing together, playing together and of course the fighting that comes along with it. If George gets a proper grip on something that William is holding, unfortunately there's no chance for William. But W does stand up for himself a lot more now as I continue to offer words for him to use. For as rough as you've gotten this month, you both are clingier than ever with your special stuffed animal, now adding them to many of your games and playtime throughout the day.

One of the highlights of the month is how into singing you both are now. Jessica got the best video of you at the park, about 2 minutes of singing songs, starting with Old MacDonald. William pauses, decided horse will be next, informs G as a teacher would, and then continues on. It's really the best to see this language development but also how much fun you guys have together.













George. My sweet, strong, smart boy. My good helper. My little chef. My rule-enforcer. My word-repeater. You remember everything and continue to impress me with the things you say.  You have so much focus and tons of imagination.

G notes:

  • G says, ‘I like that’ unprompted when he likes something (mostly for food ;)  
  • You can be such a stinker... At bedtime, you had the Clifford book, W really wanted it, but that didn't phase you. You started falling asleep on the book and as W was still whining, I tried to slip the book out and your arm quickly pulled it back tightly under yourself. 
  • You call yourself 'George Louis' when referring to yourself when playing 
  • When W asked you for some toilet paper, you torn off the smallest piece that would fit between your finger and thumb 
  • When you're sad or whiny, you start by talking about what you're sad about or want, but quickly it shifts to asking for Monkey Bear 
  • You love repeating rules like when you asked for your milk, you said to yourself, 'close top up, no spill on bed' 
  • You've started picking your nose... 
  • W was crying after bath one night and you went and blew on his tummy to cheer him up
  • Jessica told you she might see a bear on her upcoming camping trip and you asked her to 'take a picture' 
  • You say 'beep beep beep' when walking backwards or backing up in your little car 
  • You did great at your last swim lesson and kept repeating 'Georgie Mommy special time' like I told you. You also came up to me after and said, 'I want shake Mommy' as I had told you W had one after swim class the week before.


William. 
I'm not sure what's changed this month, but I'm feeling closer to you than ever. Don't get me wrong, I think you'd still pick Dad if you had your choice, but I really enjoy the extra time we've had with your early nap wake-ups, especially since you wake up in a good mood. Your personality continues to shine and you've been talking non-stop this month. You're dancing, you're singing, you definitely have the McDowell genes. You continue to impress me with your coordination and skills when it comes to mastering new physical skills. You've also got a lazy streak, asking me to get things for you when you could get up and get them for yourself but you tilt your head and bat your eyes and how can I say no?
W notes:
  • You love Sammy Dog and like to have him nearby or know where he is
  • You love dancing on the bench outside in the backyard and in general, love standing on chair and the bench. Not that we're a huge fan of that. When you do your little dance though, it's hard to get mad.

  • You had so much fun playing hide and seek with Ma in the vines at Discovery Museum
  • You like privacy in the bathroom now, especially in the morning, demanding, 'No Mommy, other room!' You sound like a teenager already!
  • You say 'Wow!' when you're really impressed with something, whether it be food or something you see. In fact, it's usually, 'Oh wow!'
  • You've started saying the funniest things, or at least the delivery is funny. Dedee asked you to go potty and you turned back and over your shoulder said, 'maybe later' and then carried on.
  • You wake up crying for 'oak-a-buy', even after naptime
  • You noticed J's purple hairband and called it a purple bandaid
  • I've been avoiding suspenders for you guys since it's harder for you to be able to pull down to go potty but the one day you wore them, you loved them.
  • You love your pink hat and your favorite color seems to have changed to pink this month
  • The dentist said you're getting 3 of your 2-year molars in right now (you already have one in). There has been a lot of teeth grinding and your mouth has all these canker sores from it, even some blood on the pillow. Poor guy, you get medicine sometimes but are hanging in there.
























Love you guys!