Sunday, September 30, 2012

Oh Bennett

I am going to try to write about this in a way that makes it seem funny, instead of horrible and stressful like it actually was. It may not be possible...

(P.S- Just so you know, everything I am writing about in this post is over a done with. We have moved on with life, and onto bigger and better things (and attitudes. And parenting styles). I just wanted to write this all down before I forgot so that one day I can look back at this blog and think, "Oh yes. I remember now why we almost donated our three-year-old to the animal shelter.")

Oh Bennett.
Where do I start?

It is Sunday (Ugh. Already this is a stressful story). We are driving home from church, and I ask Bennett what he learned in Nursery.

"I learned that we don't stand on tables! And we don't roll ourselves up in the carpet. And we colored. But I made a bad choice and colored on the table. And I had to sit in timeout. I made a lot of bad choices today. But Jesus still loves me!" (all said very happily).

Bennett called his nursery leaders to apologize once we got home.
In fact, Bennett calls his nursery leaders most Sundays now.
They are very forgiving people.

------

I am at my follow-up Women's Health doctor's appointment (or whatever it's called when you go in after you have a baby) and Bennett is being babysat by my friend who lives across the street. She has a little girl Bennett is friends with and they usually have a great time together.

When my appointment (which took waaaaay longer than expected) is over, I text to let her know I am on my way, and to see how things went. The response: "Bennett is sitting in timeout for the fourth time in the last fifteen minutes. Holy Moly!!"

Holy Moly is right. Apparently Bennett had performed a plethora of naughtiness on this day, including (but not limited to) hitting his friend, demolishing her room into a heap of toys, making a break for it down the street out the front door, and dumping out a box of 64 crayons, jumping on them with his shoes to break them, and then throwing them in the shower when asked to pick them up.

What the...?

Love and Logic was deployed, and Bennett spent the better part of the next afternoon picking up dog poop from our friends' three very large dogs. His morbid fear of poop and sensitive gag reflex were strictly ignored.

------

It is "nap time" (why do I even still use that term?) and Bennett is "resting" in his room. I go in to check on him after a half hour or so, and am surprised to see that his room is spotless.

Literally.
There is not one toy, book, basket, blanket, or stuffed animal in sight.

Upon inquiring as to the whereabouts of every one of Bennett's worldly possessions, he gets a huge grin on his face and says the line that makes my blood run chill every time he utters it.

"Here! I will show you!" 

At this point he runs over to his closet, throws the double doors wide open, and is immediately buried waist deep in a dramatic waterfall of items. It was seriously like in the movies. I have no idea how he did that.

It was just a little bit awesome.

After I recovered from the shock and hilarity of the situation, Bennett spent the better part of the next three hours cleaning up (completely by himself) the unspeakable mess he created.

As a side note, Bennett has also perfected the skills of sorting laundry, washing windows, unloading the dishwasher, sweeping the back porch, and pulling weeds.

If nothing else, he is going to have the cleanest jail cell in Juvenal Hall.
The guards will love him.

------

I am at yet another doctor's appointment (did I mention I might be a permanent diabetic? Oh the joy.) and Bennett is being watched by a different friend down the street. I send a text about halfway through my three-hour glucose test to see how things are going. The response: "Things are great. The piano is broken, but he is out of timeout now and playing nicely with Camden."

Wait...THE PIANO IS BROKEN???!!!!

I make Bennett offer to pay for the repair from his piggy bank, tell him he will be there to help fix it, and talk about respecting other people's things.

Luckily, it wasn't that bad and only the talk was really necessary.
Bennett now accompanies me to all my doctor appointments.
It's just not worth it.

------

We are at Goodwill. Patton is in his carrier inside the main part of one of the ridiculously tiny shopping carts, therefore making it impossible to open the child seat. So Bennett is walking next to me. We go to stores a lot and Bennett walks next to me a lot. He is very good at this--not today. Today, he is asserting his freedom to run willy-nilly through the store, and he is wearing me down fast. So then I remember: in my Love and Logic book it tells a story about a dad who's little boy keeps stopping in the store, so the dad just keeps walking. And the little boy, thinking he is lost, begins to cry. So when the dad (who has been watching from a safe distance) reappears, the child learns the value of staying with him in the store, and life is hunky dori again. The end.

So I decide to try it.

And then I decide to write a strongly worded letter to Charles Fay, author of Love and Logic, telling him that the little boy in that story was NOT named Bennett Hargrave. Because when Bennett Hargrave's mom keeps walking in a store, he takes the opportunity to disappear...for 10 minutes.

At first I don't even really care. The store is little, both doors are within easy viewing, and hardly anybody else is in there with us. And Bennett isn't exactly quiet. So I just keep shopping (and get some seriously cute things. I love Goodwill!) but eventually, I realize it has been quite awhile since I have seen or heard my cute little boy, and I begin to get a little nervous. Just as I am walking up to the checkout line though, I see him running towards me with a huge grin on his face, saying "Hi Mom! I thought I was lost and it was SO FUN!!" (Ya, Charles. What do you do with that?) So I take his little hand (pretty hard, I have to admit) and stand there and listen to his story about how he was pretending like he was a car, and he needed to get gas, so he went to the gas station and got some food for his tummy. Bennett has a great imagination.

After we pay for our cute things, we walk outside to go to our car and I happen to look over my right shoulder. And what do I see?

A huge Texaco/7-11 gas station.
Like the kind where semi-truck drivers and Harley riders and teenage gangsters all hang out and have knife-fights over who's tattoos are the toughest.

And right on cue, Bennett pipes up with, "See, Mommy? That's where I went when I was a car. I needed gas for my tummy."

And I am in shock. I am so literally at a loss as to what to do, (because it was as much my fault as his this time) that I simply put Bennett in the car and drive home without saying a word. Without looking at him. Without turning the radio on...nothing. Silence.

And Bennett gets the picture pretty fast that he is in pretty major trouble, and he begins apologizing profusely. He has never left my side at a store since that fateful day.

Should I go on?
Because I could.

And if any of these stories alarm you, or you feel that my punishments were unjust and/or unfair, please feel free to contact CPS on my behalf.

Because trust me.
I could sure use the break right about now.

Oh Bennett.
I just love you.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

All in a Day

We visited Matt this last weekend and were able to use the laptop he has to download some of our pictures that were stuck on the camera. So let's play catch-up.

The picnic lunch in the garage while Matt welded together our trailer, as mentioned in last week's post.

Moving Matt into his hotel for the next two and a half months. This is his "kitchen." We went to the store and stocked him up on all the necessities of life, and between that and his George Foreman he is set for a temporary life of bachelorhood. (He says it was more fun in college...)

Patton Fife, the happiest boy I know. I will be cooking in the kitchen or something and turn around to see him sitting in his swing just smiling away at me like this. It makes my day. He is my joy-baby. (P.S- I don't know why, but my computer is being completely unreasonable when it comes to rotating pictures. Just cock your head to the left a little.)

Bennett playing in his tree house. We got him a little kitchen and a little chair and he practically lives up here now. We have even eaten our lunches in this tree house for the last several days in a row.

A fort--one of them. Bennett is VERY into forts. He builds about one a day. This fort involved the rocking chair from Patton's room, Bennett's pillows from his bed, a wicker hamper, every TV blanket we own, and all the bedding from the guest room. He is quite the builder. And, since I refuse to clean up that many blankets and pillows every day, he is also quite the cleaner now. Win-win all around.

Another fort. Actually, I think he called this one a castle. And there's a surprise inside...

...Patton! As you can tell from the look on Bennett's face in the above picture, he was extremely proud of himself for putting this little beauty together. Patton was a little less excited about it, but he was a good sport.

And here is a picture of me (since there are never any pictures of me on here) as taken by Bennett. Except for his finger being in front of the lens he does a pretty good photography job.

So that brings us to this weekend, where we packed up the car and headed back down to San Antonio to see Matt for a few days. We got there Friday afternoon, and after a quick "hello" Matt jumped in the car with us and we all drove down to Rachelle and Jess's for Pie Night at their church. And it. Was. AWESOME!! I am not really a cake person, but give me a pie and a fork and I am one happy camper. And there was a plethora of pies and forks at this place. Yum.

We spent that night with them, and then the next morning we drove to Sea World for a day of play. Since Rachelle's family has season passes, and Matt and I get in free once a year, we all went together and had a blast going to the shows, riding rides, and eating dip n' dots (a must at any amusement park.)

Bennett and Patton, ready to go in. Bennett is at the perfect Sea World age where everything is so magical and exciting. I loved watching his face whenever he saw something new. Priceless. And Patton was just his easy-going self and never complained at being towed around and sitting in splash zones all day.

Bennett feeding the dolphins. He was really excited/super scared to do this. Maybe he was so scared  because Matt made a joke to me (not thinking Bennett could hear him) about how dolphins can bite your hands right off. Whoops. We really need to talk quieter around him.

Trying to show Bennett that they really were nice. He believed us eventually, but only from a safe distance. (Notice how his hands are tucked protectively into his body? Poor boy.) This is something I absolutely love doing--despite the ridiculous amount of money these people charge for a tray of dead fish--so Bennett will be able to try again next year. Hopefully he'll just forget the scary hand comment...

 
Waiting in lines: a major part of the amusement park experience.

Bennett with his cousins in the aquarium. We spent a lot of time in here because Patton needed to eat, and what better place to discreetly feed a baby than in a dark, air-conditioned aquarium? We took advantage of the situation when we could.

Bennett actually didn't mind that we stayed here for awhile at all. In fact, he probably had a neck-ache the next day from doing this for so long. The boy loves fish.

Checking the map. I told Bennett he was in charge of the map and he took his job very seriously.

The aftermath of the Shamoo show, where we sat in the Splash Zone. Easily my favorite part of the day. Bennett is still talking about "That big whale, Shampoo, who made us taste like salt."

 I wish we had taken more still pictures of the day (we did take a lot of video), but we just had such a good time we forgot to pull the camera out anymore than this. Some other highlights included Bennett going on his first ever, honest-to-goodness roller coaster and LOVING it three times in a row, playing in the humongous splash park, and watching a sea lion show were I am sure Bennett only blinked twice the entire time. What a day!

That night we stayed in Matt's hotel, where Bennett got to sleep in his "special room" (aka: the closet.) Since it closely resembles a fort, however, he was thrilled at the idea, and out like a light as soon as his head hit the pillow. We need to go to Sea World everyday.

The next day was Sunday, so we went to church with Mary and Wayne and then spent the afternoon eating dinner and hanging out. The boys and I were supposed to drive home that night, but since we were having such a good time we stayed one more night in Matt's hotel (much to Bennett's delight) and left the next morning. This weekend Matt will drive up on his motorcycle to visit us, and I'm sure we will have another adventure just spending time together.

Because what can I say?
I love my family.

video 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Where is that dang CAMERA CORD!!

I lost the camera cord.
And it is sad, because I have so many great pictures.

Pictures of Bennett in his tree house, and a huge fort he made out of pillows and blankets that took up the entire guest bedroom.

Pictures of a lunchtime picnic in the garage, and Matt welding our trailer together.

Pictures of Patton smiling THE MOST adorable smiles. He is seriously the happiest little fellow.
  
Pictures of Matt "moving in" to his new home. AKA: a hotel on Fort Sam where he will live for the next two and a half months while he finishes his Career Course. (It was good practice for when we will eventually help Bennett and Patton move into their college dorm rooms.)

So many great pictures.
Stuck on the camera where nobody can see.

One day.
One day...

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Love and Logic

I am a huge fan of Love and Logic. Bennett has been raised by this technique since my mom sent me a book on it when he was just a few months old. He has always been, shall we say, "active" and this parenting technique has been a wonderful tool in my life. It's all about helping kids learn to make their own choices, and then living with the natural consequences of those choices. It's great. Seriously.

Recently though, Bennett has been acting very three and I have found myself doing a lot more scolding and yelling than loving and logic-ing. And it was no fun. So I started re-reading my book, and I am getting back on track now. It has saved my sanity and Bennett's life more than a few times already. I didn't realize just HOW much I was using these techniques, though, until today.

Since Bennett had decided he is too old for naps lately, we just have a "rest" period, where he is to stay in his room until a timer goes off and then he can come back out. I don't care what he does in there, as long as he does it quietly (because you better believe that I am passed out on the couch during this time) and as long as he cleans it up afterwards. Today, for example, Bennett spent the entire time rearranging his room. This is something he is very into lately, as he carefully takes obscure items from around whatever room he is in, and moves them slightly to the left or turns them around backwards. It is an intense process. 

So today, as I was laying down, I heard a noise I couldn't quite place coming from his room, and I went to take a look. Bennett was taking a break from his rearranging and playing with his firetruck. Here is the conversation we had.

Me: What are you doing?
Bennett: I'm playing with my firetruck.
Me: OK...Oh wait! We forgot! Remember today at the gym, when you wouldn't share any toys with the other little boys and girls? (Like I said. Three.)
Bennett: Yes.
Me: And remember how we decided that since you couldn't share your toys at the gym, we would have to put all of your toys at home away until you could go back to the gym tomorrow and try again?
Bennett: Yes.
Me: And is your firetruck a toy?
Bennett: Yes...but wait!!
Me: I'm so sorry, Bennett! We just forgot to put this one away! It makes me sad we can't play with your firetruck, though. But we'll try again tomorrow, and maybe you can get it back. I'll go put this in the closet with the other toys we already cleaned up today.
Bennett (looking very serious): Wait, Mommy! If you take that firetruck, I am going to stop rearranging my room.
Me (hesitating slightly): OK, well if that's what you feel like you need to do, then I guess that's OK.
Bennett: But Mom! You have two choices. You can give me that firetruck and I will be happy and keep rearranging my room, or you can put that firetruck in the closet and I will NOT keep rearranging my room.
Me (suddenly realizing he is using Love and Logic, and finding it very hard to not just start laughing out loud): Well, I think I am just going to go put this in the closet anyway, Buddy.
Bennett (very authoritatively): OK Mom. But that's your choice. I'm so sorry to hear that.
Me (really trying to keep it under control): OK, thanks for understanding Bennett. I love you.
Bennett: I love you, too.

I guess all that Love and Logic really is paying off. He might just be better at it than I am :)

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Happy Sabbath!

Hope you had a great day

We know we did!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Vacation Time

Matt is home from JRTC! Yay! Let me tell you something, those 11 days he was gone was like a crash course on having two kids. Actually, it was more like a crash course on bringing one kid and one mom back to reality after a crazy month of change. But we made it (barely) and Matt came home (temporarily). So we decided to take full advantage of our family time together by taking a very spontaneous vacation over Labor Day Weekend.

Friday morning Matt made us all a great breakfast of bacon and eggs, and then we loaded up the car and drove four hours to Pleasanton, Texas where Matt's sister, Rachelle, and her family live. They just built a new home so it was fun to get to see the new place, visit with them, and let Bennett run wild with his cousins.

The new house, from the back. It is so beautiful, we are very happy for them.

Marshall, Walker, Bennett (behind Walker), and Bear, their new German Shepperd, playing on the dock on their pond. Rachelle and Jess live on about 15 acres, and Bennett had a grand old time exploring it.

Bennett insisted on wearing his boots...he actually insists on wearing these most of the time lately.

While we were there, Bennett got his first riding lesson from Uncle Jess on Barrett and Marshall's horse, Hank. This was the first of many more to come.

I am super nervous around horses--they have brains of their own and I don't trust them. Bennett, however, takes a little more after his dad and just jumped right on up and rode that horse like he had been doing it forever. I was very proud...from a safe distance.

 Bennett told me, "I love that horse, Hank. He is my friend because he lets me ride him." I think we may have another cowboy in the family.

The next day we got back in the car and drove two more hours until we reached Port Aransas, Texas. It poured almost all of the way there, which sort of made us a little nervous about how great our sunny beach vacation was actually going to be.

Our view from the car. By the time we reached the island though it was just overcast, which is actually how I remember the beach being a lot of time growing up in California. So we felt right at home and didn't let it stop us. 

We stayed on the actual island, which meant we got to take our car on a ferry -- a first for all of us except Matt. When we landed, we were a little ahead of our check-in time, so we decided to head straight to the beach (within walking distance of our hotel) and see what was in store.

Me and Bennett running in the waves in our clothes. I don't know why we did this with a three-year-old and never thought he would end up soaking wet and sandy before we ever even unpacked the car. Oh well, it was a vacation! And it felt like it, too. We had the best time at this beach!!

 
 Two happy boys! The water here is like bathwater. Soooo nice!!

We also drove around the island a little bit and checked out the local souvenir shops and all the colorful beach houses. We will own one of these one day. And it will be sea foam green, with turquoise shutters and coral lawn chairs in front. And a bright yellow door maybe...and a palm tree.

Matt, Bennett, and Patton going into the belly of the shark at Bonjon's Souvenir Shop. Bennett was very convinced this was a real shark. Once, Matt ran inside while we waited in the car, and Bennett informed me that, "That big shark is going to close it's mouth and Daddy will be trapped! But then Daddy will just open it right back up with his big, strong muscles." Doesn't every little boy think this about their dads? :)

 
 We finally did make it into our hotel, and it was great! Apparently we got the handicapped room, so it was huge, with a living room and a pull out couch for Bennett, a kitchen, and a separate master bedroom for Matt and I (and Patton's little crib). Here is Bennett in his awesome hat he got from the shark store, all ready to go to the beach for real this time. This was one excited kid, let me tell you.

 
 Our little beach bums. 

 
The making of a Bennett Merman.

Bennett Merman and the sandcastle Matt and Bennett made while I was feeding Patton in the car. I'll tell you what, we were finding sand on Bennett in places we didn't even know existed after this trip.

Patton hanging out at the beach, doing what he does best. He is the easiest going little guy. He did put his toes in the water, but ultimately decided he would rather be in his stroller.

That night we played in the hotel swimming pools and hot tub, ate at a local restaurant, got THE best ice cream sundaes from a little shop, and vacuumed three pounds of sand out of our car. Needless to say, Bennett fell asleep the second his head hit the pillow. Matt and I stayed up a little longer to watch a movie, but I fell asleep almost as quickly as Bennett did and I don't remember much of it.The beach will do that to you.

The next day was Sunday, and after a breakfast in the hotel we packed our bags and headed out for one last adventure.

 
Bennett and Patton waiting for us to pack the car. Life is rough for these two...

 
Stopping to get some fresh seafood for Maimie and Pop.

We drove about 45 minutes down the road to Corpus Christi, where we made a stop at the USS Lexington. I guess it was an aircraft carrier that they retired...I don't know. The entire thing is a big museum now, but since I have kids I spent more time making sure nobody fell overboard than reading all the little signs. But the ship itself was really cool and Bennett was beside himself that we got to go on a real boat.

The USS Lexington, from the top of a really tall bridge we drove over (another highlight of Bennett's life).

 
 This was supposed to be a cute picture of me and Bennett, but it ended up just being me looking like a weirdo and Bennett climbing on the anchor. That is pretty much the story of our life.

All Aboard!!

There were a ton of cool airplanes on board (you know...because it was an aircraft carrier).

We brought Patton't stroller, but since everything was accessible only by ladder we ended up carrying him through the entire thing. You wouldn't believe how hot and heavy a 6 week old infant can be. His cuteness made up for it.

Exploring all the tiny little spaces. Sailors must be very skinny.

Bennett's new timeout spot. 
(The Brig)

 
And here's Patton in his spot. He was one hot little boy, poor guy.

Bennett and Patton, "The Dynamic Duo!"

Time to go home.

Our little family.

We made one more fun stop on our way home at Maimie and Pop's house, just to say a quick "hello." We also got a chance to hang out with Grandma Reppond and Gunny (Wayne's parents) who just officially moved into the cabin on their property. However, by the time we got there, our car was so stinkin' dirty with all of our luggage, toys, and candy wrappers (we ate A LOT of candy on this trip) that I could not for the life of me find the still camera. I did find the movie camera though, and we took some great video. But I don't know how to upload that on here yet. Just know we had a good visit with them and Bennett was happy to run and stretch before the last leg of our trip home. 

All in all it was probably our favorite family trip we have ever taken. Now it's back to real life, where Matt is getting ready to go to Career Course in San Antonio for the next two months, and I am getting back on schedule with going to the gym and playgroups and such. 

Vacation or not, we live a happy life :)