- Potty and wash up: 10-20 minutes
- Bedtime story: 10-20 minutes
- Say good nights to everyone: varies depending on who has tackled whom to the ground
- Each parent ushers one child into their respective bedrooms: 10 seconds to 5 minutes
- Set the mood (lights off, sip of water, kid tucked in snugly): 2-10 minutes
- Maxon fast asleep: 1-10 minutes
- Cooper exits room for some ridiculous reason and needs some kind of tending to: every 90 seconds
Once steps 1-7 are completed, the routine is still not quite over yet. Obviously wired from his tiptoeing in and out of bed, he often needs to wind himself down. Armed with a butterfly flashlight, Cooper reads a few pages from his favorite books.
Cooper started swim lessons early this summer and he has been a total natural. Over a year ago we tried the baby-and-me type of swim classes where either Mike or I would be in the water holding him the whole time which he liked enough but he wasn’t interested in doing anything more than splashing. This summer, a switch must have flipped. He was all of a sudden obsessed with water: the pool, the hot tub, the bath tub. It was time to get him into real swim lessons!
It’s funny how much confidence a pair of goggles can bring. Once he was introduced to them, we hardly ever saw him above water. On more than a few excursions to the pool, he would constantly duck under water just to check things out. He was holding his breath longer and longer underwater. He soon figured out how to propel himself, even if only for a couple of feet.
As lessons progressed through the summer and fall, I was amazed at seeing this little person have so much fun in the water and being capable of so much already. He is far from being independent but we can already tell he is taking after his swimmer daddy.
When Daddy took Maxon up to the mountains last week for another ski lesson, I thought that Cooper should get in on the fun too. There is a local gym called Shredders where they teach kids the fundamentals of skiing but in an indoor setting. They start taking kids at Cooper’s age (and younger) and put real ski boots and skis on them and have them work on moving around independently. Unfortunately, for us, our progress ended before they could get Cooper in ski boots. They had taken him to the back room to fit him for equipment and shortly after, I could hear his wails and hacking coughs from across the building. Since they had said they preferred the parents to stay in the front, I anxiously stood in the parent area waiting to be beckoned. There was no beckon. However, there was a certain little long-lashed boy that had apparently broken free from the back room and sped across the instruction floor directly into my arms. Yes, that was fun while it lasted.
Determined to get a little more out of the experience, and also to not let the instructors off the hook so quickly, I calmed Cooper down and asked if he would just like to watch the other kids ski and he agreed. I sat in that mysterious back room with Cooper and one other little boy that we actually knew from daycare a while back that also did not seem to be so sure of today’s experience. The other kids had their boots and skis on and were practicing waddling around and playing with playground balls. After a few minutes, I asked Cooper if we could just put on the ski boots but still just sit at our seats. He acquiesced. The other little boy already had his ski boots on but that’s where his progressed stopped. A few more minutes passed. I asked if we could get his skis on boots but still just sit at our seats. Again, he acquiesced, but even better, cracked a smile when he realized his skis made his feet slippery like ice skates. The other little boy was also convinced to try his skis. Success! As the other kids filed out of the back room into the main instruction area, Cooper finally found his confidence and started walking around the room to chase after the playground balls.
A few minutes later, as Cooper was trying to tell me he was all done now, I convinced him to at least walk out to the main area so we could sit there to watch the other kids. The other kids were working on side-stepping up a mini-hill and slowly sliding down the other side. That piqued Cooper’s interest and off he went to stand in line to wait his turn. As he got to the top and managed his way down with a huge grin, I could tell that we now have another skier in the family. Welcome to the club, Coops!
Ah, yes. The curse of a winter birthday runs through this whole family. We’ve had some luck planning outdoor-oriented parties with decent weather but we were not so fortunate this year. After a very warm start to the month, the week preceding Cooper’s birthday party was filled with snow and bone-chilling temperatures that ensured that the snow wouldn’t go anywhere. Luckily, we decided to deviate from our usual party script of letting the kids run rampant in the backyard to hiring the music teacher from their school to entertain the kids (and the adults!). Despite the fresh 15 inches of powder that dropped over the weekend, we had a great turnout, thanks to our wonderful and hardy Boulder friends.
Cooper’s birthday cake. Frosting fail = birthday glaze!
A gluten-full, eggy, milky cake for everyone else!
The Music Man getting started
As for the birthday boy himself, he is definitely not one to let weather or inconvenience get in his way either. While slight in build, he is big in everything else. The smiles are from ear to ear and ready to unleash on anyone. He can be on the brink of laughter at any moment, yet the tantrums can come on quick and loud and the disappears quickly with the slightest distraction. The dinner plate is refilled and emptied. He wants to do everything himself and is determined to do anything that Maxon does. His imaginary world is big, too. Although Halloween is long past, he insists on wearing his puppy costume often, although he experiments with being other animals that require petting. His Matchbox cars and Sodor’s finest tank engines have running commentary. One of his favorite games is to build houses and stations for his animals and trucks.
To our dismay, potty training came to a crashing halt and then a severe rewind since our breakthrough in January. We all but gave up for a good month but he’s started to show some interest and confidence again since he’s figured out how to pee standing up so hopefully we can hop right back on that potty train. It’s not a question of “does he know how?”, but more “does he feel like it?”
The coolest development I’ve seen in recent weeks is his writing skill. And please know I am referring to a toddler’s version of “writing.” He has more of a vision of what he wants to create and is able to put it to paper, even if it’s not quite in the right order. Here are some of my favorite creations:
His interpretation of a “P” and an “R” fascinate me. Sorry, Daddy–did you need what was on that whiteboard?
“Look, Mommy! I’m coloring in the lines!”
Eyes, arms, legs. Just put those anywhere.
I know we have a big year ahead of us with this cool little dude. I can’t wait to see what comes next!
Step 1: Assemble allergen-free ingredients
Step 2: Throw it in the lion’s den and see what happens
Step 3: Ravenous acceptance
It really shouldn’t be that hard. I knew gluten-free, egg-free, and dairy-free bread existed but the one brand I knew about had all of these warnings about eating the bread as soon as possible, freeze the rest that day, and for God’s sake, don’t put it in the toaster oven to reheat because it might catch on fire. What the heck is in that thing?!?! That’s just too weird.
Sunflower seeds have been in a couple of recipes and I knew Cooper was okay with it but I’ve never actually used sunflower seed butter on anything I’ve given him because, well, the bread issue I just mentioned.
And jelly…we already knew that sugar was fair game! Absolutely, wonderfully fair game.
It’s the little victories in life that can bring such joy. And relief.
We thought we had it nailed right away. There had been sporadic interest well before Christmas in using the small potty but actual productivity was few and far between. Cooper would try so damn hard to get anything out that he would get out of breath. He just didn’t seem to know how to just “let it go”. His teacher claimed he went at school but I was hesitant to believe it based on what I saw at home. Finally sometime in December he seemed to understand how to let it all go without passing out from exertion and with large stretches at home coming up for the holidays, I thought that was my chance to start training in earnest.
I decided to start off hard-core right away one Saturday morning. Cotton underwear. No pull-ups. Plenty of back-up clothes on hand. Potty boot camp, baby. He actually did very well in holding it in… until he didn’t. It only took a few incidents of getting completely soaked until he was finally alerting me of his need to go. And go, go, go he went! Until it came to the serious stuff. The Number Two.
By the end of that first weekend he was reliably going to the bathroom as needed for a Number One but he held in his Number Two for days. Days. This is a kid that can fill a diaper several times a day. He ended up finally letting that one go too so we thought we were all set. Brush off the hands, done.
Until he went to school. Since it was still holiday time, school was in a bit of limbo with only a fraction of the kids showing up so Cooper’s little two-year-old class was combined with Maxon’s three- to six-year-old class and without his regular teacher. That must have been a little intimidating. He ended up soiling his clothes every day at school, multiple times a day, that New Year’s week. Then he continued soiling them while at home. Not much, but almost every potty check-in. I got so frustrated at one point, I just threw his pair of underwear straight to the trash.
This is where we stand today. I have conceded back to pull-ups until he can figure out how to handle Number Twos. Nobody needs this much pressure and frustration on either side of the underwear. He stays dry all day, usually dry even after a nap, and sometimes still dry when he wakes up in the morning. I have been beckoned frantically over the baby monitor when he awakens saying he needs me (“Mom-MEE! Mommmmmmm! MOM-MEE!”) and off he goes to the potty. But as of now, we are on constant sniff alert because one of us is still not talking about it.
But he never lets his guard down! You can’t blame a kid who is constantly on the go to catch some Z’s when can.
We also had the rare privilege to witness the act of falling sleep: