House Tour– The Boys’ Room

Boys Room with toddler beds

It’s been a while since I posted– because we were in SOUTH AFRICA for half of December! I have plenty of pictures to show, so stay tuned for that.

In the meantime, I finally decided to take pictures of the boys room, mainly because we just bought them bigger beds and the room will change drastically. I am using the transition to “real” beds (hint: we bought bunkbeds!) as an excuse to phase out some of the more “baby” decor, and replace it with boyish things.

But I know that I will one day want to look back and remember this little room as it was for one year.

Their two little toddler beds fit so nicely along one wall 🙂

Boys Room Two Toddler Beds


This is Gregory’s side of the room. While I have a few memorable things up on the wall (his baby footprints, his saint, etc.) I also gave him some freedom to hang a few of his “treasures” from Sunday School and his medal from soccer. Over on the wall, they each have a hook for sweatshirts, along with another set of hooks for bathrobes and backpacks.

Boys Room Gregory's Side

Boys Room Vintage Posters on wall Boys Room Footprints in frame


Next to his bed are a few crates housing his books. He loves sitting on his bed or in his little chair to read!Boys Room Crate Bookshelves


On the other side of the room is AJ’s bed and his books.

Boys Room AJ's side

Boys Room Pictures in Frame

Boys Room AJ's Books


On the wall next to AJ’s side is the play kitchen and stuffed animal basket.

Boys Room Play Kitchen


A small peek inside their closet with the chalkboard dresser fronts:Boys Room Closet

To install the closet and other doors, we had to visit this retailers website to get our choice of furnishments, and we weren’t disappointed in the slightest.

As I’ve explained in previous posts, we keep just a few toys out and rotate them. I stuck to this technique when we had our foster boys– my rule was that I had to be able to pick it all up in under 10 minutes, or there was too much stuff. Turns out, they play more happily when there’s less out at a time anyways!Boys Room Toy Shelves with Baskets


Above the toys shelves is some of the remaining Baby Room decor. Boys Room Owls on the wall


And then, finally, a shot looking back out into the hallway, with a little surprise on the back of the door…Boys Room Far Wall


Perfect 🙂Boys Room Basketball Hoop on door

Being A Mom Is Hard


Okay, I’m going to go ahead and state the obvious thing that every mom knows– being a mom is hard. Sometimes, I picture the job description to be somewhere along the lines of, “housekeeper/teacher/referee/wrestling opponent/scheduler/nurse”.

Lately, however, I’ve wished that I had taken some sort of crash course in Early Child Development 101. I always swore that I would not parent my children with one style, regardless of their personalities, and that became an even more important resolution when I realized that my 2nd child, only 17 months younger than his brother, was such a polar opposite in so many ways. Even when he was an infant I had to disregard most of the skills I had learned with my first baby and replace them with entirely new ones! On the one hand, I felt like a bit of a veteran since I’d already recently navigated the infant stages, but on the other hand, I didn’t know what the heck I was doing.

Mothers with multiple kids also know how easy it is to only pay attention to the development of the oldest child. It’s natural, since we’ve never seen any of our offspring go through those stages and we are naturally curious. What’s talking going to be like? Walking? Potty training? Preschool? When the stages are new to us as well, we are more engaged because we want to see what happens next.

But the second child? Often we forget to even record those milestones like we did with our first, and it’s not always because we’re too busy. Sometimes it’s just because they don’t seem as important, somehow.

At the end of last week, I had a bit of an emotional meltdown (sound familiar?) because I was feeling a serious amount of mothering guilt and uncertainty. AJ, my soon-to-be 3 year old, has been going through some tantrums of epic proportions, and I’ve felt a bit like a detective as I am trying to unravel the mysterious cause of it all. He’s always been such a sweet and docile baby, that to suddenly have such a screaming, wailing TYRANT on my hands is a bit alarming.

After doing some real soul-searching, I was able to pinpoint and diagnose part of the problem as a lack of independence in our house. You see, I’ve always viewed AJ as my baby, because he’s always been the youngest no matter what. When we had foster kids, AJ’s birth order in the family never got displaced because he was always the “baby”, and treated as such by everyone. He didn’t walk until he was nearly 2, so I had already grown accustomed to carrying him everywhere. Because he was such a late walker, he’s always been a bit cautious when it comes to anything that has to do with his lower body, including climbing steps or running. He needs a lot of help in these areas, and gets frightened by having to do some of them on his own.

Not only have we been treating him like the baby of the family, but he’s also seemed to enjoy it greatly, even basking in the amount of attention he receives for it.

But not recently. Recently, there’s just been lots of obstinance and tantrums.

There was this tender bedtime moment a few days ago where I was talking to Gregory and said that he was my “big boy”, and AJ was my “baby”.

Gregory looked at me very sternly and said, “Momma, you keep saying that. But AJ is not a baby, he’s a big boy like me.”

Ugh, talk about a heart stabber, am I right?

Because I realized, in that moment, my four year old was seeing his brother more accurately than I was. AJ had been struggling to show me his independence, and I wasn’t even aware of it. All I saw were the incessant tantrums and cranky behavior.

So I spent the rest of the week taking a step back and observing my almost-3-year-old AJ.

Instead of making him his sandwich, I put the step stool next to the counter along with a butter knife and the peanut butter jar. I watched him climb up, deftly grab the knife and not only spread the peanut butter, but cut his sandwich. (!)

I gave him one of his brother’s more advanced puzzles, and watched him pull out all the different pieces and articulately name the colors, even differentiating and deliberating between gray and black, pink or red (I didn’t teach him any of it! He’s been learning from Gregory!).

I watched his playing and realized that he was word for word quoting GIANT 2-5 minute sections of a Winnie the Pooh movie he saw over a week ago.

I realized that his screaming fit after dinner wasn’t because I was washing him, it was because HE wasn’t the one to do it himself.

Since noticing these things, I’ve realized that I need to let go of my own emotional needs and empower my AJ to be independent. I realized that part of my reluctance to let him do things for himself is because I am holding onto this idea that he is still my baby, instead of the toddler/preschooler he is becoming. We don’t yet have a plan for a Baby #3, so I think I’ve been holding on these last vestiges of my 2 year old, trying to make him slow down.

A few weeks ago, we were on a preschool tour for a beautiful Montessori school down the road from us. The lady said hello to Gregory, and then pointed up at AJ (in my arms) and said, “And who is this?”

“Oh this is AJ. He’s my baby. He’s not ready for preschool.” I said. I remember that I didn’t even let AJ out of my arms, not even once. I wasn’t even interested in seeing if he was ready for preschool. I wasn’t ready. So I didn’t even give him a chance. (And, turns out, we’re probably not sending either child to any preschool, but that’s a long discussion for another day!).

All of this is to say that this motherhood gig is hard, because sometimes, sometimes our loving emotions can lead us astray and keep us from caring properly for our children. It’s a scary thought, but one that’s good to realize.

As moms, we also tend to pigeon-hole our kids into a certain personality or description, sometimes without even realizing that we’re doing it. I think that we’re all trying to save time, by and large, and we all love a good shortcut. There’s also a comfortability and certainty when we formulate a description, and we fall back on that when the going gets rough. In so doing, we sometimes forget to realize that our kids are not descriptions, they are growing and changing people.

I know that there are advice columns and blog posts by the dozens written about motherhood, but if I had to sum all the important things into one statement, it would be this: Become an instinctual observer. 99% of the time, when something works it isn’t because I read it in a book, it’s because I became an observation expert on my kids. Don’t base any decisions off of what someone else is doing or the newest fad/parenting solution. Just watch, learn, and be humble about it.

A Mom When The Kiddos Are Sick

AJ asleep on chair

In the midst of our moving chaos this past week, my little AJ went and got himself sick. While cuddling with me Monday morning, he threw up on my pillow (ICK), and didn’t stop until 4am Tuesday morning. He couldn’t even keep water down, and was running a slight fever. We were pretty worried about how dehydrated he was, and had it gone on for even another hour or two, I would’ve taken him in to the ER to get an IV. He’s already such a little guy, you know?

I thought that he would bounce right back on Tuesday, but he slept/cried most of the day and only ate three or four bites of food. He did, however, drink quite a bit, so we felt like all he needed was a bit more time to get better. This morning, he woke up happy as a clam and ate a few bites of cereal right away! I’ve never been so grateful to see my baby eat. He keeps saying, “I’m-suh spesh-ul! I’m-suh happy!”

As a mom, it’s SO hard when our kids our sick, and not because of the extra work involved. It’s gut wrenching. As I looked at his haggard little face last night, whining because he was so tired, I couldn’t keep it together. After I put him to bed, I just cried and cried. It’s just so hard. I felt so powerless, so unable to explain why he felt terrible, so unable to fix it all for him.

The rest of us have not felt sick at all (and we’re definitely a germ sharing family!) so I’m puzzled as to what may have gotten him. Hopefully my little guy is on the mend and we can put this all behind us. Only 9 days until our move!