This past year brought Tim and me many changes, but you all know those. I'm going to tell you the changes that you haven't noticed.... but boy, do they make a difference in my life.
Last semester, fall of 2010, the boys needed constant supervision. TMI, but I couldn't go to the bathroom without worrying the whole time about what they were up to. It was bad. I could come out and someone would be screaming, biting, pooping everywhere, you name it. Terribly stressful, as other parents of man or beast could attest.
NOW, I can mostly trust that they will do exactly what I tell them. They still tend to take advantage of my not watching them, but it is usually when I walk off while they are eating that they begin to misbehave. If they are playing in their room, the worst they will do is steal the other's toy or get out too many toys at once.
Recently we instituted the one toy each rule. They have to put the first toy away before they get out another. I wouldn't mind if their toys were larger, but they have so many toys with small pieces that I am really saving lives (Tim falls, you know, and I've broken a foot before) instead of limiting creativity. I loathe stepping on blocks.
I'm very happy they have so many toys. In fact, there are some more I want to get them, but they are having so much fun right now with what they have that they don't need anything else immediately. I still want to get them a kitchen for the fabulous food Rebecca gave them and the dishes Kim gave them. They play with those constantly! But, nevertheless, the one toy each rule was necessary for sanity's sake in addition to saving life and limb.
The boys are so much more joyful than they were. Before, Joey was Mr. Frustration. It was very stressful, and (although I swore I would never be THAT parent) one day I found myself tiptoeing around him so that he wouldn't get upset. Boy, did I stop that, and now he doesn't get upset pretty much no matter what happens. He is cheerful when he wakes up, whereas before he'd be mopey, he doesn't whine when we can't understand what he is saying-- he just tries harder to express it, or he gives up and sweetly says, "I don' know, Mommy." And that cracks me up, because of course I was the one who didn't know.
Bam Bam is not as wimpy as he was. He is growing up. He almost never runs to me to hide when Joey chases him being a lion or 'little tiny puppy'.
They both say such funny things, whereas before their personalities were mostly hidden in bad behavior. Just now Joey was in Bam-Bam's face playing, and Bam-Bam said with a funny face: "You smell like..... Joey!"
Joey pretty frequently talks about how he's a 'big strong man', and he is, too.
When the boys first came, neither of them were potty trained, although Joey could usually put his poopies in the potty. We potty trained Joey first, but he still has more trouble paying attention to it than Christopher does, who was potty trained in three hours. Last night we put Christopher in underwear for bedtime, and he did great. Since I'm pregnant, it's been hard on my stomach muscles lately to get him down from and back up to his bunk at night, so yesterday we hassled all morning and most of the afternoon trying to attach the ladder. We managed, and I don't think it will ever move. Then we spent a long time teaching him to go up and down, and letting him practice it. He learned really well, and he knows that he cannot just get up; he has to ask first. At first we want to go in there and make sure he can climb down safely when he is half asleep, but after a few weeks of supervision, he'll get to do it on his own, and then, eventually, he won't have to ask to get up anymore. Joey is now to the stage where he doesn't have to ask anymore, although he still doesn't consistently flush and wash in the night, which we still require. It is absolutely gross to pee and then go back to sucking his finger as he still does at night. THAT (and common sense, genuine good manners, my background) is why he must. wash.
All of those potty related things were huge changes.
The boys are now learning to pretend obedience instead of naughtiness. Ivy is the one who pointed that out to me, when I told her about how Christopher was pretending to eat the fruit in the garden. I'd much rather he pretend he obeyed God instead of enacting the Fall, and hopefully this guidance will help. We've explained to them that if they pretend sin, they will do it for real. And then it happened with Joey, and it was a great object lesson.
I'm happy they know how to pretend and they know the word. They didn't at the very beginning, and then slowly they started copying things we had done, like going to Starbucks and getting coffee, but now they will pretend tons of things-- and 'boy' things, too! I will hear one of them saying, "I'm going to cut your hand off!" I'm not going to put a stop to that. They are so funny to listen to.
Also, we've been teaching them to pray by having them repeat every line we say. At first, they didn't know which way was up, but then slowly Joey started adding in extra words of his own. I would pray, "Keep Daddy safe today," and Joey would add "at work."
But NOW, Christopher adds other things. When Tim prays, "Thank you for Jesus," Christopher will add, "who died on the cross." It's so wonderful.
"Out of the mouths of infants and tiny nursing babes, from the lips of the little ones You have ordained Your praise! You have ordained Your praise!" ~Judy Rogers
These boys are growing and changing. We don't take baths anymore. I shower them standing up, and Joey is swiftly learning how to take a shower. It won't be long until he can do it on his own. Joey always holds his eating utensil correctly now, and neither boy drops food like they're trying to feed the whole zoo with crumbs anymore. Sometimes I don't even have to wipe the table when they are done. Before, I had to vacuum constantly.
Christopher doesn't generally eat like a turtle anymore. He knows that he will run out of time if he dawdles and then he won't have the rest of his food until supper... OR if he is dawdling because he doesn't like it, then I'll give him the same thing over and over until he doesn't dawdle. He would rather just eat, now. (He was taking an hour plus to eat a PB&J sandwich. Ridiculous.)
This has been a long post, but these are the changes that have happened around here since last semester.
Oh, one other thing. Joey is going to be the romantic one of my sons. He loves giving back rubs and he will just stand here by me stroking my hair or rubbing my shoulder. He's so sweet. I remember when he wouldn't sit on our laps. :( And then the day he did I was so thankful, and NOW he is constantly touching. It's really special.
My life is wonderfully special, and our boys are such a blessing.