Dry little Piggies

Silas surprised us again today on the potty training front.  After my last post the thrill of underwear seemed to wear off, or for some reason he just didn't seem to want to wear it.  No biggie.  Someday he'll potty train, i know that.  Then this morning we were talking about when and if we needed to get dressed and Silas was giving us a little bit of static about needing to get dressed before some friends came over to play.  I told him he could stay in his pajamas until just before they got there.  Then surprisingly, around 9 am he told me he wanted to get dressed.

I hopped up, headed straight for his closet and as we were going to change his diaper he announced that not only did he want to get dressed on his own free will, but he wanted to go potty, and then pick out underwear.  And we did.  And he picked some underwear with pigs on it and was very happy to show and tell everyone that he was keeping his underwear warm and dry.

He resisted the 30 minute timer i set to go potty but wore his underwear all day-- even when we went grocery shopping, and didn't have an accident.  Could this really be something?  I'll keep you posted.


Brotherly Love-- the real world

Silas is in his normal spot rocking in the chair outside my bathroom while i get ready in the morning.  Henry was upstairs for at least 15 minutes before Silas came up and not a mention of the rocking chair.  As soon as Silas comes up and starts to make a beeline for it, Henry says loudly-- "I want to rock."  Which of course makes Silas wail because this is part of his routine, and you just don't get between Silas and his routine (he doesn't care much for your routine though, thank you very much.)

I point out that Henry hadn't given the chair the time of day until Silas wanted it.  Henry chose not to engage on that one but offered a solution-- why didn't we bring up the child's rocking chair from downstairs.  Hey good troubleshooting kid, i'll be back in a jiffy.  I bring the chair up and after i've gotten the hairbrush through my hair twice i look back as more screams are breaking out.  Henry is rocking in the chair i brought him, but only if it's going to be right in front of Silas' chair, bonking into it with every rock.

And that about sums up the state of brotherly love in our house right now.


Train Underwear

I may go back to more frequent but "vignette-type" postings for a bit.  I'm finding it difficult to craft more of an essay-type blog post.  But enjoy sharing the boys' going-ons with folks, and documenting them for myself in an online type of journal.

Silas first started showing some (limited) interest in using the potty months ago (i think it might have even been late summer).  His interest clearly waned and i haven't pushed much at all because well, this is Silas and you just don't push unless you have to.  Two nights ago he found a pair of Henry's old Thomas underwear and got completely excited.  He demanded he put it on right away and talked and talked about keeping it dry and using the potty.  He jumped up and down and clapped and did keep his underwear dry.  So now we're sending underwear to daycare and intend to see how he does there, before we try this at home.  He's been more willing to use the potty regularly at daycare which is why we're trying this approach.  We'll see.  It sure would be nice if he decided to fully move out of diapers in time for preschool in the fall!


Good Night Ceremony

I was just re-reading my post on planting the seeds of tradition and thought a nice spin-off post was needed.

I've been doing more and more reading about Waldorf approaches to childhood. They are big into simple and ceremonies. Part of simplicity is embracing nature and natural materials and going for authentic experiences. So they're big on marking celebrations with candles. After the experience celebrating the winter solstice with the candles the boys got to where they wanted to light a candle each evening that lived on the dining room table. They loved it!

I had read about a bedtime ritual that embraced lighting a special bedtime candle and was intrigued by the idea. But couldn't quite play out a scenario in my head where i'd be in the room with both boys that didn't end with them fighting over the candle leaving us all out on the curb, homeless.

But really. I shouldn't have sold them short. I decided to try it one night and here's how we do it in detail in case someone else is wondering how on earth this could work with two kids.

They have to be in bed with all requests already submitted (in writing, in triplicate). If you ask for more water or another book after the candle is lit we don't do the candle the next night. You have to be in your own bed and "settled down." This is a completely subjective call by me.

I light a small candle, kneel in the space between their two beds and we sing a few quiet songs. I'm not musical nor good at remembering the words to things so right now we sing "rock a bye baby," "twinkle twinkle" and then a song called "thank you" sung to the tune of Happy Birthday in which we take turns thanking people for all the good/helpful stuff that happened during the day.

Then we all blow out the candle together and i depart.

They truly love the candle and there is a reverence that comes over them in the presence of fire that i didn't expect. But what makes this account different from all the waldorf "inspirational" reading i do is this truthful account of the "other details." In my house there are nights that immediately after blowing out the candle Silas jumps out of bed and demands water or jumps into Henry's bed and starts yelling "wrest-a-ling, wrest-a-ling," or generally shows that he is not planning on sleeping anytime soon.

Basically sometimes the candle works magic and sometimes it doesn't. And sometimes we don't have time for a book and a candle. So this act hasn't transformed my house into a peaceful beautiful night-time tableau, but it is another way of connecting with the boys and something that they love and that we use as incentive and a way to ground us at night. And i try to think we're laying seeds for when Silas is no longer 2.


Chefing-- not so out of the blue

I know i said i would post about JT going to cooking school. And i've been meaning to. I've also been drafting posts in my head as i drift off to sleep. The difficulty is making the post interesting without putting JT in the public eye. If you haven't noticed, this blog is primarily about me and the boys. It is very little about JT and that is largely by design. JT is a very private person and is not interested in putting into the public sphere things he deems private-- which includes just about everything. And yet cooking school was a personal decision for him but also one we very much made and are adjusting to as a family.

So... here goes. First just to catch everyone up, JT has been thinking about cooking school and cooking professionally for about the past three years. During that time he made some professional changes to see if he could find more job satisfaction and used all of his free time to cook, read about cooking and generally become as immersed as possible in the world of professional cooking. Somewhere along the line we started talking about cooking school and a career change for him, but it was one of a few options. And we started saving, and projecting and budgeting (oh wait, that was just me.)

Over the course of those three years JT tried out a few other directions he was considering going in and decided that cooking and food was really where his primary passion lay. He got a few seasons of gardening under his belt, learned the basics of smooth kitchen operation (clean as you go), took over all the meal-planning and shopping and embellished his "routine" meals with things like 14 hour briskets and homemade hot dog buns.

He started researching cooking schools and hallelujah, found a great one here in Chicago. Even better Kendal College has what i call the "Executive Chef" Degree but i think is called something kinda mundane like the "Accelerated" Program. It's shorter and cheaper and designed for folks that already have a degree and don't need basic gen eds. Check, no need for writing 101.

So we set a one-year timetable. We saved almost all the pennies we could, set-up and mostly followed a quarterly "step-down" budget to ease back into living off of my non-profit salary, and began to talk about our plans with friends and family. JT and i talked ad infinitum about the changes we expected, how we'd handle them , and thoughts about how we'd handle what we didn't expect.

JT started in January and by all accounts is very happy-- although he has some work to do in certain areas like deboning fish and Cornish game hens. He loves nothing more than a new challenge and certainly cooking school meets that criteria. He's adjusted to his new 4:15 am alarm clock pretty well and i'm pretty proud of myself for navigating the mornings solo-- not my time to shine historically.

We're still feeling our way through the options, choices and challenges we will face after JT wraps up his program a little over a year from now. But we're taking one steady step in front of the next and just trying to talk-- a lot about all the new issues to sort out and routines to build.

Having seriously less money will be one of the biggest challenges, because of course money provides opportunities and options that not having money doesn't. But it also provokes creativity and simplicity which are values i've become to cherish more often. So we're making sure that we're "providing" for the boys and that they get the benefit of seeing their Dad making a difficult decision to do something that he loves and thinks will bring him happiness. Oh, and he learned how to iron his own stuff after almost 10 years of marriage!