Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Right Now | Aidan (August 2015)

Written 8.15.2015

Watching  Us. Mimicking us. Questioning inconsistencies. 

Reading  The Magic Tree House series. They are always his first choice during our afternoon reading time. He has several of the books in audio form as well, which he listens to on repeat. I love that he loves books about reading. He is so close to making the leap to being able to read on his own. So close. 

Loving  his family. There have been a lot of hugs and snuggles and spontaneous "I love you"s lately. He insisted on writing and mailing a note to his daddy during a recent work trip: "DADE, i LUV U. i mis u. DADE. AidAN". "Dade" is the special way Aidan spells daddy. When Reagan returned from his deployment, Aidan wrote him a welcome home sign and sounded the whole thing out on his own. That spelling is what he heard in his head and it stuck, despite knowing that it is not the normal spelling. I find it completely endearing. 

Wanting  to take swim lessons again. He seems re-motivated to pass the swim test at the base pool. That means swimming 25 feet without stopping or touching anything and then treading water with chin and ears above the water line for 30 seconds. Yesterday was a victory. He completed the swim portion for the first time and treaded water for about 10 seconds. He and Lela are working toward the goal together. Aidan noticed that Lela was making more progress than he was and that is when the request for more swim lessons came into play. We've been on a 5 month break from them because Aidan was having trouble remembering that swim lessons are for learning, not playing. We did the first of 8 lessons this week with much improved participation. He may get that wrist badge of honor yet.

Eating  slowly. From birth, he has been a slow eater. This has not improved with age. No worries on him suffering from indigestion. Reagan and I might have to add a padded portion to the wall though. Our foreheads could use a break. 

Playing  with Lela. Or James (new neighbor) or Abby if Lela is unavailable. 

Singing  made-up ditties. His CD preferences are the same: a lot of Frozen, Charlie Hope, and Kenny Loggins (kid songs) so those songs stay the same but he puts a lot more of his life to random tune. My favorite to-date is the poop sung, overheard one day while he was, you know, pooping. The exact words and tune elude me but it was something to the effect of "POOP! We all go POOP! There are many kinds of poooop. Sometimes it comes out nice. And when we are sick we have dia-RE-AHA. Diarrhea is brown and runny. Sometimes we can see the food that we eat in our POOP!..." and so on. I should have recorded it but I was doubled over laughing. That moment is right up there with another all-time favorite potty moment: "MAMA! I'm a volcano and poop is erupting out my bottom!"

Asking  for his money pouch. He got a taste of the freedom having his own spending money provides while we were vacationing this summer. He had some money from cash gifts presented earlier in the year and while, perusing a museum gift shop, decided to use it to buy another set of plastic animals 

Negotiating  the struggle of being 4 while his closest friends turn 5. He wants to be 5 too, or for them to still be 4. Usually any mention of this topic brings on instant tears and demands for reality to somehow alter itself. Recently, a child on the playground asked Aidan how old he was. "I'm 4.5," he answered. "You're 4?," replied the child. "No! I'm 4.5," countered Aidan. "What's 4.5?" the child asked. "The oldest kind of 4!" stated an exasperated Aidan. And so it goes.

Wearing  no underwear. Still. He used to wear underwear on Tuesdays and Fridays but now he is commando 100% of the time.  The only exception is when he is wearing only underwear. Then he's fine with it. 

Oh yes, and red sparkle Crocs. He's in heaven.

Looking  around his world and asking questions about everything. So many questions. Good ones. Thoughtful ones. Insightful ones. He wants to know what he doesn't know and then he wants to know some more. 


Saying  "Oh. My. Gosh...." and  "From time to time..." Sometimes I hear myself repeated back to me. Other times I have no idea where he comes up with his phrases. 

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Week in the Life 2015 | Friday

Friday | August 21, 2015

The day started off calm enough. I spent some quiet time in the morning working on...whatever I was working on. I like lots of quiet in my day so mornings, before the house is bursting with noise and energy, are delightful for me. Reagan had the day off from work so he stayed in bed reading articles on his Surface tablet. Aidan awoke of his own accord (not a common occurrence these days) and happily so. We didn't hear him get up. The only warning we had was a "LOOK OUT BELOW!" before AJ dropped from the second floor down into the hallway. 

I asked Aidan what compelled him to toss AJ over the stairs and send Baby Bear sliding down the banister. He looked at me very seriously and said: "AJ wanted to fall and Baby Bear wanted to slide. They like to do that from time-to-time. What's today called?" "Friday," I answered. "They like to do that every Friday." he replied.
My words came back at me today.  The kitchen is a mess from our latest ant invasion. Aidan looked at me and said: "You made the mess so you have to clean it up. Go!" I didn't move fast enough so he put me in a 50 second timeout on the stairs (good counting practice for him). When I pretend-whined about having to clean up, he stayed firm. The kitchen is now clean.

Every so often these little role-reversals come up. I let them play out because it gives me an inclination of what Aidan is hearing (vs. what I think I'm saying) and it lets me model some of his behavior back to him. It's always enlightening.
Reagan gets in a run or two a week these days. Aidan usually makes eewww comments about how sweaty Reagan is and refuses to hug him. This morning Reagan left a little later so there was some cuddle action before the run.
While Reagan was out running, I took a few minutes to eat and read. Breakfast this morning was cinnamon-cumin roasted carrots and parsnips topped with two eggs over medium and an avocado garnish. Delish! All part of my healthier eating plan. I enjoyed my final glass of Tazo Chai Tea latte mix with soy milk. In an effort to reduce my processed sugar intake, the tea mix is getting the boot. It's back to the Good Earth Sweet & Spicy tea bags for me.
Reagan refuses to get his own Facebook page but will happily spend 30-40 minutes at a time scrolling through mine. He likes seeing but not participating. In this couple, that's my job.  Because of his sweaty grossness, he was relegated to Aidan's stool for reading.
Right before a weekend trip to the beach seemed like the perfect time to detail the car. That was Reagan's big morning project while Aidan and I left to meet friends. Despite the odd timing of this particular cleaning session, I do enjoy it when Reagan cleans my car. It is a complete after-thought for me but, just like a made bed, I enjoy getting into a clean car.
 So many choices when leaving the base.
 Racing to meet his friends.
At the Bishop Museum with Luca and crew. Luca as been a constant friend to Aidan since almost the beginning of our stay here. It is so fun watching the two grow and change side-by-side. Love that it is an easy relationship with everyone. We can go for a while without seeing them and then pick up where we left off, like we just saw each other last week. 
The dinosaur exhibit is only here for a few more weeks. Obviously that means the gift shop is more interesting than the displays. Luca brought $12 of his spending money; Aidan had $3.20. We just started an allowance with him. He is under the misguided impression that if he doesn't have enough spending money, I will just give him some more.  Um, no. Not exactly what we are trying to teach regarding fiscal responsibility. 

Aidan looked around for a while but, after realizing he didn't have enough money to buy anything he wanted, he moved on with essentially no whining. That's a big deal for him. I was proud. Of course, I went back and bought the elasmosaurus figurine he'd been hankering for. It will make an excellent birthday or Christmas gift. 

Aidan also asked Luca how he'd accumulated so much money. Luca has a special job at home which he earns $1 a week for if it is completed daily, on time, and without fuss. Aidan was intrigued. He has shown no interest in such a thing until now but at his prompting, Reagan and I talked it over and agreed on having Aidan set the table every night. Aidan seems excited. We'll see how it goes. 
 I love picnics in the grass under a big tree. I should make time to do more of them.
 No trip to the Bishop Museum is complete without a visit to the volcano. We've made about 82 trips to this place since living here but it still holds as much fascination today as it did two years ago. 
 A walk up the glow-in-the-dark Hawaiian tunnel is also a must. Doubly fun if your clothes glow too. 
 Upon our return we found Reagan hard at work, mowing. He tends to do several neighbors' yards at once, usually in response to illness, a husband's TDY, or just because he enjoys it. 
Reagan and I prepped for our beach weekend while Aidan did quiet time. The later in the afternoon it got, the snippier we were with each other. That seems to be the way of things when we are trying to hurry up to go have fun. We just want to get there already and are irritated by things that slow us down, including each other and Aidan.
 The cilantro is trucking right along.

Every weekend outing takes more prep time than I think it will and this one was no exception. After chopping, packing, and loading we managed to roll out of the house 1.5 hours past our goal departure time. We were the last family to arrive. Our Bellows weekend includes some of our favorite neighbors: Brant, Sara, Lela, and Estelle; Craig, Jamie, Andy, and Abby; David, Annie, Kate, and Claire; and us. Three of the families are in the condo units. The Reillys have a cabin down the way. 

We ran into part of our crew at the check-in office. They were headed out to play putt-putt golf (Aidan's favorite Bellows AFB past-time) so Aidan tagged along with them while Reagan and I got the car unloaded.  
Aidan wanted to try the climbing wall. He was a little nervous at first but made it to the top after a few tries and got himself back down again with minimal help. He is proud of himself. Me too.
Dinner was interrupted by a text from Sara: she has cupcakes for Lela's birthday and they want to come celebrate. We had planned on an early night but cupcakes and friends do not a tired boy make. It was awesome spending  social time with our friends, away from day-to-day life.

Three weeks ago eating a cupcake would have been a no-brainer for me. It's a celebration, after all. However, I'm trying to reduce my intake of processed sugar and I knew my favorite cookies were waiting for me in the fridge. If I was going to have a sugar treat, I really wanted it to be the cookies. I spent way more time debating my options than was necessary. There might be something to the whole complete elimination thing after all. Then the decision is just made for me. I can move on to more interesting topics in my mind.

I realized around bedtime I'd forgotten my glasses, extra camera battery, and the camera charger. Good thing we have the waterproof point-and-shoot. All is not lost where WITL is concerned. Some might say it is a sign to just take it easy for the weekend but I am not one of them. I am committed to being committed. I need a completion win under my belt.

For the record, this is what my world looks like without the benefit of contacts or glasses. A -4.25 prescription in both eyes is no joke.

It was not the most restful of nights. I need to remember to pack my own pillow next time we come. And ear plugs. I hate the sound of venetian blinds knocking together from fan-generated air movement. It is next to impossible for me to tune it out. Even though we turned out the light at a reasonable time (9:30ish) I slept lightly, more like resting than sleeping.

At about 2 a.m. Aidan called out: "Mama, I'm frightened." It's hard to tell if he is or he isn't. He uses that word for a lot of things that are not actually fear-inducing. In any case, I snuggled up to him on the twin bed until he went to sleep again then returned to my bed. Several minutes later, he called out again. In the interest of everyone going back to sleep and staying that way, I crawled into the other twin bed in his room for the remainder of the night. I used AJ as a pillow since Aidan had both pillows on his bed. I think I'll steal him for tomorrow night too. The crocodile is much more comfortable than what I've been sleeping on.

I spent much of the remaining time in my head: composing blog posts, having imaginary conversations, contemplating Montessori stuff, and so on. I was too tired to get up and record any of it but not tired enough to just pass out. So frustrating. At 7:22 a.m. I tapped out, announcing "tag" to a swimsuit-clad Reagan as I closed the door to our bedroom and attempted sleep. 24 minutes later, I was up for the day

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Week in the Life 2015 | Thursday

Thursday | August 20, 2015

Today, one day out of this whole week, our normal routine will prevail. Reagan is back to his regular schedule at work. It's a school day at the Discovery Center. I'll have a few hours to work through my to-do list. I take a deep breath. I'm feeling good already.

This is pretty standard breakfast fare for Aidan: fruit, a frozen waffle (the more frozen, the better), granola, and milk. Sometimes there is yogurt. Some days, eggs. Occasionally he eats oatmeal.
Twirly morning hair: it took me 12 shots to get one with the focus in the right spot. Wiggly person + changing light = frustration! Aidan was done long before I was. The twisted hair screams early mornings around here though and I wanted that shot.
Someday those legs will touch the floor, but not today. That make my mama-heart happy. 

We took the plastic cover off his chair a few months ago. He sits more comfortably but we are constantly reminding him to use his napkin and not his shirt/shorts/chair for wiping. 
Many days Aidan requests turkey for his lunch. He likes turkey sandwiches, turkey/salami rolls, or just piles of turkey and thin crisp Triscuits to make sandwiches with. Most days I strive for a balance of protein, veggies, and fruits in his lunch. Some days I don't. 
Aidan likes to do his morning routine downstairs. Some days I remember to grab his clothes on the way down, some days I have to make an extra trip. He's slow to get going in the morning and will often pause mid-dressing to stare off into space. 
On school days, the front passenger seat of my car looks like this: purse, backpack, extra clothes for Aidan (just in case), his still-to-be-consumed breakfast, water glass, and sometimes, tea. Underneath or to the side of all that can be found: black out curtains I've been meaning to return for the past 2 months, Kleenex, (a must-have in any car), an applesauce (because having a snack on-hand is also a must), a hat (it's Hawaii, after all), and my ever-present mama emergency bag (containing things like hand sanitizer, a tide stain pen, band-aids, notebook, pen, more tissue, hair ties, an eye-mask (always hopeful about getting in that nap), lip gloss, and so-on). That bag goes where I go. 
We log a lot of miles together.  
On the way to school today Aidan asked me if I was practicing to be a real photographer. I asked: "What makes you think I'm not one already?" He's thinking on that and getting back to me. I'm not actually sure where he was going with that or why he thought to ask (it's not as if he's never seen me use my camera) but it did get me thinking. Truthfully, I have considered developing my photography skills further and going into business. I added it to my "to-contemplate" list in Evernote and am letting the idea marinate. 
I investigated larger backpack options but, frankly, I'm just not ready for Aidan to part with this bee backpack. I bought it for him when he was a baby, one of my many Okinawa gift shop finds. I love that he runs back to give me a kiss on the lips and a "Bye, Mom!" every time I drop him off. 
This is the point where I realize I somehow managed to turn on a filter on my phone's camera and am now stuck with stupidly colored, tiny pictures. It is definitely a GRRR! moment for me. I am not a fan of phone photo filters or tiny, unprintable photos, especially when there are cute pictures involved! 
When the house is mine for a while, I generally operate in silence. I often start my time in the kitchen reading blog posts, flipping through cookbooks, or researching a topic that interests me. I don't clean during me-time. I don't do anything during me-time that can be done with easy or moderate difficulty when a child is around. This is my time. I relish it!
Part of the WITL project involves capturing myself in a lot more photos than I might otherwise be in. Occasionally I have to get creative with how that happens. I have a tripod. I could use it, but where is the fun in that. Somehow this seems easier in the moment. 
Most days I like to curl up with a good cookbook. These days I am researching the Paleo way of life. Here's my completely unscientific observations since instituting this method of eating: my weird food aversions seem to have dissipated and I haven't been hangry at all this week. That second one is a big accomplishment for me. Anyone closely related to me will understand.  We haven't gone whole hog Paleo (or Whole 30) but there continues to be a significant reduction in the key no-no food areas, as well as an increase in healthy fats and vegetables. 
The home page of my kindle is a pretty good snapshot of my varied reading these days. A little Montessori/homeschooling, a little organizing, a little how-to-keep-from-throttling-my-child-when-he-______(fill in the blank), a fiction book I keep meaning to get to but never seem to have time for, and a little historical romance because I just enjoy the well-written ones. They are an easy read (and re-read) when I want something requiring minimal brain power and that won't keep me up until all hours of the night (at least not after the first read through).
More of my to-read pile. I'll get there, someday. 

In the interest of keeping it real, here is what our bedroom looks like most days. At the end of the day I'm still too lazy 5 days out of 7 to walk my clothes from the side of the bed to the hamper 8 steps away. I usually take care of it when a couple day's worth have piled up. I also haven't embraced bed making. Most days, I just don't see the point although I do like to walk into a room with a made bed. Ironic, I know. 
Lest one think Reagan's side is any better, it's not. I did, however make the bed before taking the picture because he is a bed maker and this is a more accurate view of what our room would look like if he had his way 100% of the time. 
And then there is the guest room or, as I prefer to refer to it, my over-sized inbox. I like it when people come to visit. It motivates me to do something with the accumulated stuff other than closing the door on it. Fortunately, we live in Hawaii and never go more than a couple months without visitors so nothing scary lives in this room. 
The upstairs desk is another work-in-progress. I have a large-format printer and a Silhouette Cameo that do a fine job collecting dust. I'd really like to change that. 
The descent. I love our entry area. It makes me smile when I come down the stairs each morning, doubly so once the autumn wreaths are hanging (not pictured). Fall makes me happy. 
Most days Aidan's bed nook area looks like this. Every so often I require him to put all the books back on a shelf and once in a blue moon I will attempt to organize them but, by-and-large, the area looks like this from one day to the next. He always has a water bottle and some version of a flashlight by his bed. Hidden from this view are pictures of his adoring parents and a cluster of fake pink flowers. He loves them, I let them be. Many of his books get rotated out of the bed area into one of the other book deposits semi-regularly (happens organically during play) but his Hallmark read-to-me books and his picture album tend to stay put. 
The view from his pillow. We also rotate toys fairly regularly but the three baskets on the bottom right have taken up permanent residence. Those baskets from left-to-right: his upstairs collection of animals (there is another full basket downstairs); things that move, but mostly airplanes; and his train set. Items deemed too special for casual play go higher up. Everything else is fair game.
I've had this bookcase since high school. A very talented friend painted it for me and I've found a home for it in every place I've lived since the day he gifted it to me. 
The reading pile from yesterday's quiet time.
The reading corner in the hallway (as opposed the the reading nook in his bedroom a.k.a., his top bunk). Some days, Aidan sits here for an hour or longer flipping through pages. He usually leaves a stack of books in his wake. Some nights he likes to sleep on the reading cushion. He asks more often than his request is approved.  
My work space. Back in March, the desk went from being buried in piles to completely clear. Most days I make an effort to keep it clear when I am not working. However, I'm currently buried in post-vacation backlog and have not achieved a clear desk again yet. 

Most days I sit down with a planner to map out my day/week. My ongoing action item lists reside in Evernote but I am still a pen and paper girl at heart so my list for the day get written down longhand. 
Several times a week I tackle my physical inbox (basket) and as well as my online ones. I have notepads all around the house to capture on-the-fly thoughts so this is the time I bring them all together and redistribute the items to their appropriate home (action items, memory keeping, file, etc.) Several months ago I started putting everything that needed my attention in the basket in order to reduce the paper clutter that was accumulating elsewhere. I then deal with it throughout the week, as time allows. Generally, the system has been working great. I'm still tweaking the overall GTD execution but am so happy I stumbled upon it this past winter. It's helped me get my brain wrapped around my life and move forward on projects that have been sitting dormant for years. 

 While I was taking pictures around the house Aidan was busy learning. Each month has a different theme; this month is "garden inspectors." The classroom assistant takes pictures every day and posts them to a Shutterfly gallery. I love being able to peek inside his days. 

At pick-up, he said: "Mama, we got to go to the Rainforest Room today! But the crocodile was gone so I went up into the treehouse and pretended to be Jack from The Magic Treehouse." I love how he fuses stories and play together. 
Practicing ice cream scoops (crawl stroke)
Swim lessons are a struggle. We stopped going about 5 months ago because Aidan wanted to play, not listen. I wasn't actually planning on enrolling him again but he begged for them and I capitulated. I hoped that because he was asking for them this time there might be a different outcome with the play vs. listening struggle. Last week went really well. This week, not so much. Unfortunately, it is a hot button issue for me at this point: I go from calm to ticked in a nano-second. At the end of the lesson there was a lot of lecturing and threatening. Not one of my finer moments. 

When I was calmer, Aidan and I talked the situation over again. I asked him how he could help himself remember that lessons are for listening and learning. I got a classic Aidan response: "Mama. Kid-a-neys (kidneys) send messages to our bodies so I will send my kid-a-neys a message from my throat and they will send a message to my body." Problem solved. 

He likes to open and shut the car door on his own now. Every so often I give him a reminder to try it again with more force. Most days he does it perfectly the first time. 
I posted a picture of Aidan's upset/angry face earlier this week. I thought it was only fair to include one of mine as well since it does make an appearance occasionally. Obviously this is a re-enactment. When this face comes out, I am definitely not thinking clearly enough to go grab the camera. 
Lela knocking at the back door, an almost daily experience. "Can Aidan play?" 
After make-up hugs and I love you kisses, Aidan spent about 30 minutes in quiet time. When Lela showed up, I let her go up and join him. It's an occasional treat for Aidan, not a regular occurrence. We all do quiet time in the afternoon.  It is mandatory for my sanity. 

At 3:15 we started making our way towards the pool. Given our pool luck so far this week and the ominous looking clouds, I can't say I was overly hopeful about this outing. Aidan and I made it to the pool first. We played Whale, Whale, Krill (think Duck, Duck, Goose, with some Aidan tweaks) until Lela showed up. 

At 3:50 the whistle blew for the hourly 10 minute break. Aidan and Lela lined up to do the swim test again. Aidan did complete the swim portion and treaded water for almost the full 30 seconds. He needs to work on keeping his chin and ears above the water during the whole tread portion but he's definitely making progress. I love how supportive most of the lifeguards are, giving the kids kudos and encouraging them to try again tomorrow. 

I took the opportunity to swim laps while the kids were otherwise occupied. I forget how much I like swimming until I do it. I'd like to incorporate it into my workout routine on a more regular basis. 

About 10 minutes into my lap swim it started pouring down rain. The lifeguards closed the pool temporarily but the kids had a great time with the puddles. Once the rain cleared out, the pool area had too so we had the pool to ourselves for the remainder of the afternoon. It was awesome!

I thought about face-swapping but, despite the lifeguard's best attempts, there is not a single picture of  a happy Aidan to switch with. Too bad. It was a great afternoon with the Reilly's.

And then the ants descended. I am perfectly happy to let all manner of creatures live peacefully outside. Inside is a different story. 
While I was making dinner, Aidan came running in to tell me there was a rainbow I just had to see. We see rainbows often here but we don't usually see them like this: full and framing our neighborhood. Such a great way to document this piece of Hawaii life.

At dinner, I whispered to Aidan the name of the birthday gift Reagan will be receiving from my parents. Reagan, who is absolutely terrible about waiting to get or give presents, spent most of dinner trying to guess what it is. Aidan kept getting out of his chair to whisper in my ear: "I'm tricking him, Mama." Then he'd giggle and go right back to playing the guessing game with Reagan. Aidan did spill the beans but in such an outlandish way that I don't think either of them realized it. Awesome game though. 

We are heading out for the weekend so, after putting the kitchen back together, again!, I started the laundry process. Just like dishes I prefer to do large batches of laundry all at once rather than having continuous loads going throughout the week. It makes for marathon laundry days but then I don't have to think about it again all week. 

The rest of Bellows prep got delayed until tomorrow. There was a more appealing offer for cuddle time on the couch with my husband. We don't get a lot of that. Reagan is working his way through the most recent season of Mountain Men. I don't watch the show on my own but there is something fun about watching it with Reagan. 

He surprised me by announcing a strong craving for buttered popcorn, heavy on the butter. I'm usually the popcorn person in our couple, minus the butter, but when he is in the mood he does make a nicely seasoned batch. Aidan, who was not asleep , heard the tell-tale sound of kernels popping and called down for some too. Later that night, while picking through the popcorn, trying to find a few that hadn't drowned in butter, I commented that it was too bad my mom wasn't here to partake. She would have fully appreciated Reagan's popcorn toppings this evening. 

By the time we finished our popcorn and show, Aidan had finally decided to throw in the towel too. We checked on him together, smiled at our beautiful, sleeping boy, and then turned out the hall light before climbing into bed ourselves.