Monday, January 31, 2011


It would have been hard not to feel refreshed after our warm and sunny January weekend.  I would just step outside and feel happy.  But, I have another reason to feel refreshed this weekend.  Finnan and Jude spent the weekend at Paw-Paw and Honey's house while Atticus went hunting with his brother and I spent the weekend at home.  I have heard only positive reports, at least from the boys and the grandparents (Atticus did not get anything).  They went to the insectarium, played at the playground, rode their bikes, went to Storyland, watched movies, watched boats at the river and ate pizza at Atticus' childhood favorite, Tower of Pizza.

Below are a few iPhone pictures that I received throughout the weekend.  Finnan and Jude ate bug cookies (with real bugs), their stamps proclaiming, "I ate a bug!," Finnan sporting the tuxedo he will be wearing at Caelyn's wedding in March, Finnan and Jude watching a movie while Honey rests, and Jude just plain tuckered out at Sunday lunch.



I also heard a few funny stories.  Paw-paw gave Finnan his old iPhone (it is not right that my toddler has a smartphone before I do).  Apparently, Finnan spent 45 minutes on the potty while playing with the phone.  I guess males are just born that way.  Finnan also made sure he could do his dance moves while wearing his tux.  This included his break dancing moves (mostly self-taught though highly encouraged by Atticus who desperately wants one of our children to be a b-boy...  see Hong 10 vs. Lilou ).  The weekend left both the boys and their Paw-Paw worn out:

Sent by Honey after the boys left.
(Maybe in retribution for  her movie nap photo.)
Here in Atlanta, I had plenty of time to rest and knock things off of my to-do list.  First, and most importantly, I joined the YMCA.  Hooray!  I enjoyed swimming and a Yoga class and I am looking forward to breaking the boys into childcare.  I did some organizing, worked on Jude's baby book (last time I had opened it was when he was 4 weeks old), found a dress for Caelyn's wedding, took long walks with the dog, saw a movie with Shelly along with other girl time, got stuff together for the Spring consignment sale, wondered through used book stores and went to the High Museum of Art.  Ah.  Of course, I did miss my boys, too.  I was most forlorn when they first left, but as able to perk up once I found out how much fun they were having.  I was also just thrilled that they would be spending so much time with their grandparents, since they do not get to see them so often.  They are so lucky to have such wonderful grandparents.  Thank you so much Paw-Paw and Honey!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Potty party

Enjoying a post-potty treat.
A potty party?  Not me.  I have managed to finagle my way out of even throwing 2nd or 3rd birthday parties for Finnan and don't plan on throwing Jude a 2nd birthday party.  So, a potty party?  No way.  Well, around the beginning of December, I was desperate.

Let me back-up a bit.  I was of the belief (or hope, I guess) that one day Finnan would just decide that he did not want to use diapers anymore.  We would go to the store pick out truck underwear and he would love them so much he wouldn't want to get them dirty.  Sure, he would have a few accidents, but he would be old enough where he would figure it out quickly.  I did not know the day your child turns three, people expect him to be potty-trained.  Or at least that is what Atticus said.  And said again, and again, despite me showing him statistics about average age of boys potty trained.  So, I gave in and tried.  I started with the no pants, no underwear method first.  The first couple times he peed he did seem disturbed.  Then, he would find a quiet corner to poop in and not tell me.  I also saw him guiding his train around the track, pause to pee, move immediately on, walking directly through his pee.  Ok.  Clearly, he was not ready.  I put a diaper on and thought I would try again in a couple of months.

He did not let me wait a couple of months.  He started occasionally taking his diaper off and peeing on the floor.  No doubt, this was a result of my failed attempt.  I would make him clean it up, and a little bit of pee every now and then wasn't a huge deterrent to keeping him in diapers.  Then came the poop on the rug incident.  That was the final straw.  He was "napping." (About half the time he actually naps, but regardless of whether or not he falls asleep he stays in his room for about 2 hours of rest time).  When I approached the door to release him from his nap, I smelled it.  I walked in to find he had pooped in a couple different places on his rug and somehow it had even gotten smeared.  Additionally, he seemed to have marked his room with pee.  I was mad.  I moved the rug out to the porch, quickly cleaned him and his room then just left him inside while I worked out my emotions (and cleaned) outside.  Luckily Atticus was already on his way home (and has a rug-cleaner that was able to come by right away).  When he arrived home, I left and wandered around downtown Decatur.  

Now, I had to do something.  I didn't have the luxury of waiting until after our Christmas travels.  But what?  Someone at my parent enrichment class (yes, you read that right) said she threw a potty party for her son, threw out all of the diapers and immediately put her son in underwear.  Apparently, he was potty trained in a week.  When I came home, I started talking up the potty party that we were going to have the next day.  When Finnan woke up the next morning, he went straight into underwear and pants.  That night we had our "party" (a cake). While he did not mind peeing on the floor, he did mind having an accident in his pants.  Without too much prompting, he started peeing on the potty.  (Although I had a plain potty seat I had gotten from a consignment sale, he quickly requested a Bob the Builder seat.  Amazingly one exists, even though it was the most expensive character seat on Amazon.)  Pooping was another story.  He went days without going.  Finally, I mixed fiber in with his drink and Atticus sat with him, forcing water into him until he went.  This cycle seemed to go on for a couple of weeks.  Now, he is going more regularly (without intervention) and will request, "I need privacy," or, if Jude tries to come in, "NOOOOO!!!!  I NEED PRIVACY!!!!"  From the first day we put the underwear on, he decided that he did not want to wear diapers for his nap.  It has been about 6 weeks and he has not had one accident  during his nap.  Below is actually a picture I snuck of him after he climbed back in bed after waking up from his slumber to pee in the potty in his room.  (My picture unfortunately woke him up.)

In the end, potty training went pretty smoothly.  He managed to stay dry on the 7 hour drive to Florida and, although I put a diaper on him for night-time, he seems to wake up the morning dry as well.  Gabriela says she is impressed with his awareness and that he goes without prompting.  December even turned out to be the perfect time to potty train.  I didn't particularly want to leave the house anyway as it was so cold and I definitely took advantage of Santa's upcoming visit.  When I spoke of Santa bringing special underwear for boys who knew how to use the potty he just squealed with excitement.  Unfortunately, he specifically wanted dump truck underwear from Santa.  Trust me, Santa searched and searched.  In the end, Finnan forgot all about the dump truck underwear when Santa came through with a stocking full of backhoe, train and construction worker (bright orange) underwear.  I was also able to use all of the Christmas goodies that were pouring in as rewards.

I do think waiting until he was older made the process go more quickly with fewer accidents.  However, I think the key for me was truly committing to the process and not allowing myself a way out.  And despite my firm affirmations that diapers (even cloth diapers) are easy, it turns out, underwear is even easier.

Now, for Jude.  This little guy apparently also took our potty training adventure to heart and has started using the potty as well.  He actually will ask to go on the potty and will almost always come through...both pee and poop.  I have not yet started any training with him yet though.  I do think he is still too young and, frankly, still pees too frequently.  Since Finnan's potty training, I skimmed through the self-proclaimed "Potty-Training Queen's" handbook.  She claims 22 months is the perfect age and even if a child shows signs of readiness before then she would wait until 22 months.  Who knows, in two months, I might be packing up all of the diapers.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A trip to the salon

This morning I took the boys to Ms. Lisa's Cuts for Kids.  This was Finnan's first trip to a salon and Jude's first hair cut.  I am afraid they are going to ask to go back tomorrow.  That is if they don't request a visit after their nap.  The boys were able to choose whether they wanted to sit in an airplane or a race car, watched a Thomas the Train episode as they got their haircut, and as they waited played in a room with the best stocked train table I have ever seen.  Finnan sat in the race car chair first.  As I expected, he did a great job of sitting still for the hair cut.  He has been through this a number of times at home and is, in general, a good rule-follower in new situations.  What surprised me was that Jude was also perfect in the chair.  I suspect he was trying to follow Finnan's example.  What also surprised me was how much I love both of their haircuts.  I can not I believe I waited so long to get Jude's haircut.  And really, the only reason I took him today is because a second hair dread (complete with little fuzzies that I had to pick out daily) was forming in the back of his head.  I guess I was trying to hang onto his sweet baby look.  But, now, without his long hair, his perfectly chubby cheeks are even more irresistable.

Thankfully, Miss Lisa asked if I was going to get any pictures of Jude's first haircut.  And, thankfully, I happened to be driving Atticus' car, which also happened to have the camera in the console, and that the batteries were still working after having been left on for however long the camera was in the car.  Jude was adorable.  Unfortunately, I did not have the camera to document Finnan's haircut.  He is also looking quite handsome now that you can see his eyes again!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Baking with two

If you have read this blog for a while, you know that Finnan and I used to bake together often.  The frequency of our pies, cobblers and cookies probably had more to do with my sweet tooth while pregnant and nursing, but recently, even when I do want to bake, I have had a hard time with two eager assistants.  Our kitchen is small, so both boys have to share one chair.  Not only is their perch a little precarious, but it leaves little room for them to help without elbowing each other or battling over who can complete a task.  Needless to say, baking has not been particularly enjoyable.

Today, I took a new tactic.  First, I prepared.  I pre-made the dry mix and had all the tools out we would need.  Second, I did not bring out the Kitchen Aide (my baking lifeline).  Today, our zucchini muffins were powered purely by little boy energy.  It worked amazingly.  Finnan was able to cut the zucchini while Jude and I got together the wet ingredients.  As soon as the zucchini was ready, Finnan took over the whisk while Jude added the flour mix, scoop by scoop.

And now the real reason for this post.  The boys were adorable completing their side-by side tasks.  I had to get a video.  So next time they are crying over that one block (out of a box of 200), I can remember, they can cooperate.

An aside...I originally thought these muffins would be for Natali, who just had a baby, but don't worry with the road making, finger-licking, and sneezing, I decided to keep these in the family.  Sorry, Natali!  I promise to bring you something better!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Movie night

This weekend, I decided that Atticus and I needed more breaks.  We needed more easy, feel-good, cuddle time with the kids...we needed a weekly movie night.

Our first feature was Disney's Robin Hood.  Animals and archery, of course the boys would love it.  Well, yes, they did, and watching this movie was another example of how different Finnan and Jude are.  While Jude laughed, cheered and clapped his way through the movie, Finnan fixated on the screen and literally worried himself into a sweat.  When the evil sheriff arrested Friar Tuck, or when Robin Hood was thought to be lost (for a moment), Finnan's lower lip quivered.  Thankfully, we avoided any outright tears and the ending brought a smile to his face.  But, my goodness, watching Disney movies from the eyes of a parent is a much different experience and far from feel-good.  Both Atticus and I were speechless when Finnan asked us about why the rope was hanging from the wood.  Robin Hood's appearance saved not only Friar Tuck, but also Atticus and I from having to come up with an answer other than 'noose.'

All in all Robin Hood was a much greater success than our attempt to watch Swiss Family Robinson on Christmas.  We shad to shut it off after Finnan was shaking with fear for the third time (five minutes into the film- a scary storm, sharks encircling the farm animals, and pirates...and that was with him not realizing that the menacing tiger was actually menacing).  I am determined to make our movie night a fun, family night, but right now, I am afraid we might be rotating showings of Cars and Milo and Otis.  Of course, knowing Finnan, he will be asking to watch Robin Hood again tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Snow days

We got four inches of snow Sunday night.  Three days later, we are still "snowed-in."  Yes, Atlanta is under-prepared for the weather, but as far as I am concerned, that is great!  Although we have not been able to take the car anywhere, that does not mean we have not ventured out.  Over the past couple of days we have had a blast sledding, hiking, and playing and dining with friends.

Monday, our hilly street turned into a bit of sledding central.  People were venturing out with everything from recycling bin lids to kayaks to make their way down the hill.  We joined the group of sledders to find the perfect hill and ended up with a group using a very steep driveway.  It turned out the kayak made the best sled, with couple flying down the driveway running into either a good friend or a tree to keep them from going down the large wooded ravine on the other side of the street.  Finnan loved sledding.  He also loved just riding on the recycling bin lid.  As we went from hill to hill he sat on the lid holding the end of a broom while Atticus pulled him along.  Jude, on the other hand, was not thrilled by the snow and basically insisted that he be carried throughout our sledding journey.  Roux was able to join in the fun as well.  A handful of dogs ran around off-leash with the sledders.  Needless to say by the time we made it back to our house, we were all in need of naps.  What a luxury!

Tuesday our street was turned into an ice luge so we did a bit more sledding, but mainly played and dined with neighbors.  Today, we haven't even ventured outside, but have kept busy making an enormous train track with all of our pieces, scuba diving in the bath tub, doing tons of laundry, and preparing and enjoying a meal with friends tonight.  However, our snow fun is coming to a close.  Tomorrow the boys will go to Gabriela's so I can get some work done and it looks like the weather will start to warm up on Friday, allowing the ice to melt.  By then, I am sure I will be ready for it.

It's no wonder when I ask Finnan what he wants to do in the morning, he replies, "Let's have a snow day!"  Until next year....

Finnan on his recycling bin top/broom stick sleigh ride.


Bundled, cold and miserable :(

Atticus snow kayaking.

Awaiting his turn on the kayak.

Part of the train track.

Scuba diver, who won't put his face in

Scuba divers!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The year of cob

We rang in 2011 with my Grandma's chicken noodle soup and early bedtimes.  But despite much late-night hacking, I hope the first day of the new year will be a good precursor of many to come.  It looks like 2011 is going to be a year of cob for the LeBlancs.  Cob is a building material made from dirt, sand and water.  It can be used for mud pies, simple sculptures, play houses, or, as Atticus has his eyes on, an outdoor oven.

I only have myself to blame (or thank) for this development.  For Christmas, I got Atticus the book Build Your Own Earth Oven by Kiko Denzer and Hannah Field.  Since Christmas he has read it cover to cover at least three times and the book already has sections that just fall open.  Atticus' goal is to build his very own earth oven in our backyard and is dreaming about cooking pizzas, bread, and yes, even another whole pig.  On New Year's Eve, he turned to me thrilled.  The book said to just go out and try it out.  Not to read the book and study it, but just start mixing the cob and playing around with mini-ovens.  Sure enough, my three sick boys spent our rainy New Year's Day huddled under the treehouse mixing and creating with cob.  They each made a mini-oven and then used some of the left-over to make some sculptures.  Don't get me wrong, I am really thrilled that they are enjoying themselves and have also been having dreams of what the oven can produce.  However, Atticus, being the man I fell in love with, has put himself fully into the new project.  I'm curious what is going to happen when he gets to the next book I got him, Storey's Guide to Raising Beef Cattle.  On second thought, maybe I should just go ahead and hide that now.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Christmas, 2010

We spent a great week in Florida with my family.  Although Florida suffered a brief cold front, we still had plenty of time to enjoy the outdoors.  The boys played soccer, baseball, football, and even basketball (thanks to Michael and Rebecca!).  Jude worked on his baseball "swing" and his soccer kick, while Finnan learned to hike the football and just run like crazy from sport to sport.  The boys weren't the only ones having fun being active.  Atticus and I got to play tennis for the first time in years and enjoyed jogging together over flat terrain.  And the two cold days we not all that bad, either.  We went to Blue Springs (where manatee come when it was cold) and saw hundreds of manatee throughout the springs.  I learned how to play Bananagrams and Atticus and I discovered a great Thai restaurant on our night out.

And, of course, there was Christmas morning.  Santa brought both boys bikes and stockings full of goodies.  And of course, the rest of the family spoiled them with many more great presents.  Finnan excitedly went through his presents, continually asking where the next one was.  Jude, however, was really taken by each of his presents.  The look on his face for each present was priceless.  His first gift was a soccer ball.  His face just lit up and he went around to show every person.  He also took over Michael's job of delivering gifts.

Some other highlights were watching Finnan immediately take to his first two wheeler (with training wheels), Jude's love of Christmas lights and need to point out every display with equal enthusiasm, the boys wrestling with their Uncle Michael, and Jude excitedly yelling for Paw-Paw at any sighting. I could write much more, but I think I will let the pictures take over.


The magic of Disney

Personally, the magic of Disney is lost on me.  When I think of Disney, I think expensive and crowded.  However, Disney has found fans in my two children.

A former co-worker of my mom works at Disney's Animal Kingdom, so we joined her and her son for an outing at Animal Kingdom.  Most of the day we spent enjoying the various animal exhibits, which are, admittedly, very well done.  The boys also experienced and loved their first amusement park ride- the flying dinosaurs (modeled after Dumbo).  As the day went on Finnan started to get tired and whiny.  Then he saw Mickey Mouse.  The whining stopped and he waited fairly patiently in quite a line so that he could meet Mickey Mouse.  When we finally reached Mickey, it was nearly impossible to get a picture because Finnan would not turn around to look at the camera.  He was in complete awe of Mickey.  When his turn with Mickey was done, he just continued to linger at the exit.  The only way I could get him to go on was by pointing out Minnie in the next pavilion.  Despite, having never heard of Minnie before, he perked up and eagerly wanted to wait in another incredibly long line.  It was then I realized it- he too was hooked.  It was past nap time, so we did not get to see Minnie, but it seems like this may now be a more regular stop during our trips to Florida.

Admiring ducks.

Finnan's first ride!

Trying very hard to be patient while waiting to meet Mickey.

Finnan and Tristan with their favorite mouse.