Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Sweet Explosions

The little guy in on a roll.  The words are flowing out of his mouth so quickly it's like something in his brain has just clicked.  He is constantly trying to communicate verbally.  He is repeating words after us.  He is pointing at things and yelling their names: "big fish, truck, car."  Sometimes I'm not even sure where he learnt the words he's saying (like "tower" this morning).  I knew the day would come.  I knew I had to give him time.  And I knew he'd get this whole language thing down, eventually. 

The other day, while driving to the store, the little guy kept saying "I play park?" over and over.  I kept replying "We're going to buy air filters," over and over.  It became a bit of a game repeating our sentences back to each other.  But then he one upped me and he threw in a "Please?"  He has never said "please" without me asking him to.  In fact, it was the very first time that my son independently used the word "please" to try and get what he wants.  Honestly, I started laughing.  I told him that he, like his sister, would have to learn that saying "please" doesn't always get you what you want.  But it was just about the sweetest thing I'd ever heard and I wanted to pull the car over and give him joyous kisses.

I love the verbal explosion.  And I can't tell you how happy it makes me to hear my little boy speak.

Friday, February 18, 2011


Raising a "spirited child" is the hardest thing I have ever done.  It challenges me in ways I never thought possible.  This job has the power to thrill me one minute and make me want to hang my head down and cry another minute.  Unless the TV is on, I am pretty much fully engaged in attempting to harness the spirit of this little person with multiple personalities. 

Lately I have had a few winning moments....but those have come with much thought and effort on my part.  All my new positive parenting techniques take so much energy and I am drained by the end of the day.  To be more specific, many days I am drained by 9am.  But when it works, I am so proud of myself.  And I believe, even if only for a moment, that I am getting this thing down.  Luckily I have been reassured there is a steep learning curve to this positive parenting stuff, but once you get the hang of it, it makes everything easier.

But then I will slip into my old ways.  I can easily be pushed into acting impatient, short, angry and frazzled.  I feel myself giving in to the pull of wanting to deal with things in my old ways.  And when I give in it feels so good....for a second.  Then things go downhill so fast and it is next to impossible to bring it back to a level ground.  I imagine this could be similar to how it must feel to be a chronic substance abuser.  We all have the best of intentions but can so easily be knocked off our high and mighty perch.  The pull to give in is so strong, and the instant gratification is addictive.

I have tried a number of techniques to deal with outbursts and chaos this week.  I have taken away the babe's breakfast when she kept eating like a dog and throwing her cereal all over the table and at me.  I have taken the babe to the car without her shoes, jacket, hat, mitts or scarf when she refused to get ready for school.  I have explained that we don't hit people after she has repeatedly belted me.  And I have done these things without yelling and losing my cool.  I am just hoping that the way I handle things helps her understand that bad behaviour is not an effective way to get attention.  I understand that attention is attention, whether positive or negative.

I have asked my husband if he thinks all this positive parenting stuff is working.  He says he thinks it is.  But he wonders if we'll have the ability to keep our patience or if she will keep chipping away at us until we give in and return to the old ways for good. 

It wasn't looking so good this morning, though.  Within a minute of the babe waking us up she was demanding a loli pop in her lunch (after I hugged her and said good morning).  I told her she'd have to wait until after school because it wasn't fair to the other kids.  She started ranting and yelling at us.  This is all literally within 2 minutes of waking up.  We tried to handle it as best we could....but we were left feeling like we just have a rotten kid (a horrible thing to think about your own child).  It really is just exhausting.

All I can say is that I'm not willing to lose this fight.  We will find a way to use her power for good and not evil.  I am not going to give up.   

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Second Part of the Story

Sometimes I forget to tell the whole story (kinda like my daughter).  And sometimes I need to be reminded of things (kinda like my daughter).  Thankfully my lovely cousin just wrote a great comment on my last post about mistakes.

"I love your stories Chris! Recognize the situation well. I got great advice once from a senior surgeon. He said that it wasn't that the best surgeons didn't make mistakes it was that they didn't freak out and knew how to fix them. Had a thought that you could try to shift the focus from preventing mistakes to how to fix mistakes when they happen. "Hey kiddo, I saw that you spilt some water, how do you think we should fix it?, I can help you...when I spill water I do this..."

After reading her comment, I realized I forgot to share an important part of the story. 

Once things were cleared up between the babe and I and she understood that I wasn't upset, we walked to the kitchen together to deal with the water.  I handed her some paper towels and asked if she could wipe all the water up.  I also mentioned I'd be happy to help if she needed me. 

This last part of the story is pretty critical, and I thank my cousin for reminding me of it.  After having made it through 3 parenting classes, I really can't say enough about how important it is to empower your kids, and letting them fix their own mistakes is a critical part of doing that.  It may take longer, but the end result, I hear, is worth it.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A Few Positive Moments

Things have been crazy busy around here and I have totally felt like running away on numerous occasions.

But the little happy positive moments keep me from running.

Sunday was rough as my husband had to work.  It made for a long "weekend" day with the kids.  The babe was in an inexplicable tizzy for part of the day; acting out, talking back, and sometimes even throwing things.  It wasn't a good scene. 

I was at a point where I wasn't sure how I was going to make it to bed time without turning on the TV for 5 hours straight.  I was wandering around wondering what was next on the agenda when I noticed some spots on the wall in the dining room.  I grabbed a baby wipe (which I use for just about everything) and went over to scrub at the dirt.  The babe noticed that I was up to something, came over, grabbed a baby wipe (after asking if she could help) and started cleaning with me.  And guess what we did for the next hour?  We bonded and had a grand 'oll time walking around the house cleaning marks off the walls.  It was awesome.  It was productive.  And we both ended up feeling good about ourselves and each other.  Next time I'll just have to remember to call her over and get her involved in a more proactive manner. 

Another cool moment was over spilt water.  So many times I have caught myself about to loose it after a drink is spilt all over the floor. And as I'm learning in my parenting class, even if I think I'm handling the situation well, the kids can usually read my body language and can tell that I'm super annoyed that they spilt something.

The other day the babe had asked if she could get water from the cooler in a glass....not a plastic glass...a "real" glass.  I was in a good mood and told her she could try.  After she had gotten the water from the cooler I guess I got distracted by the little guy and stopped paying attention to the babe.

When I fianlly went back to the kitchen to check on the babe I narrowly missed walking into a big puddle of water on the floor and realized my daughter was nowhere to be found. 

I called after her and asked if she was OK.  I didn't get an answer so I continued on to say that I had noticed there was a bunch of water on the floor and that it was OK.  "I AM NOT MAD AT YOU, HONEY....IT'S OK," I yelled upstairs.  She came down and said "Really, Mama?  You're not mad at me?"  The poor kid was so distressed over spilling her water that she had taken off upstairs before I had a chance to notice and freak out.  She then thanked me for telling her it was OK; and I have to tell you, it felt so good to hear that.

So yes, I patted myself on the back for a job well done.  But I also realized that I need to LOOSEN UP a bit if running away from the crime scene was her initial reaction (like Mama like daughter!).

Kids make mistakes.  Parents make mistakes.  And I'm working on drawing attention to my mistakes so the babe knows it's OK to make them.  I'm also trying to not jump down her throat when she happens to make them.  We're not perfect...and that's OK.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Can't Help But Share

I just put the kids down for their nap, and instead of cleaning up the messy kitchen, I decided to plop down at the computer to share the good news about the babe's egg challenge yesterday (she passed!).

I walked toward the computer and saw a brown thing on the carpet that I didn't quite recognize.  As I walked closer, my heart started to sink.

There, on my family room carpet, was a solid piece of poop.  Now I know lots of you have pets and deal with this every day, but I don't and I don't want to start.

I guess the little guy managed to wiggle one out of his diaper.  This kid has mad skills.

Anyway, here's a pic for you (I decided against sharing the close up version)!

Eggs, Eggs, Eggs!

Guess who can eat eggs now?  EVERYONE IN MY HOUSE!!!!!

Guess who likes scrambled eggs?  NO ONE BUT ME!

I am seriously thrilled to announce that the babe passed her "egg challenge" yesterday.  We got started at 7am and were done by noon.  The babe ate a piece of french toast with maple syrup in small doses over a period of a few hours and then she was closely monitored for a few hours.  She loved it, and after I got over my nerves, I loved it.

Having spent 10 hours at the allergist's office since Wednesday, I can now officially say both kids have outgrown a food allergy.  I never thought the day would actually come, and I am still coming to terms with the fact that eggs will now be allowed into our baking, our meals, our flu shots, etc., etc. 

I offered to make the babe more french toast for brunch today but she claimed she wanted scrambled eggs.  So I whipped up a batch, and despite offering a lot of ketchup, the babe told me she doesn't like scrambled eggs.  Above is her place mat after brunch was complete.  I'm not sure she actually put any in her mouth or if she was too grossed out from looking at them.

Perhaps we just stick with eggs in baked items, pancakes, and french toast for now.  Regardless, it is one less thing to fear in life.  YAY!!!!!!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Bring on the Dairy!

Cheese stick?  OK.  Yogurt?  Sure thing.  Some ice cream and chocolate milk?  Why not?

Dear friends, I am happy to announce that my son passed his "food challenge" today at the allergist's office.  We were there for about 5.5 hours and the little guy had 5 doses of whole milk.  He showed no reaction whatsoever.  He was, in fact, remarkably well behaved considering he was dragged out of bed in the dark, walked in the cold to an office where he had to remain in a small room being forced to repeatedly drink milk and have his blood pressure and heart checked every half hour or so.

It was a strange experience and I'm glad we went through with it.  I was pretty nervous and had trouble sleeping last night (as did both kids), but was so relieved when the doctor said he was officially in the clear.

I am not sure how I'm going to deal with having one child who can consume dairy products and one who cannot.  But for now, at least I know that he and I can snack together during the day without any fear.

Realistically, this is going to mean I live in a house with soy milk (the babe), lactose-free milk (my husband), whole milk (the little guy), 1% milk and half and half (for me).  Seems a bit ridiculous, no?

While we have one food challenge out of the way, I remain extremely nervous about the babe's egg challenge on Friday.  One way or another, we are giving it our best shot this week.  Hopefully this weekend will involve some celebrating in the kitchen! 

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Distractions of Life

Believe it or not, we actually had a good weekend!  Yes...the 4 of us, together (even though my husband had to work in our "home office" on both Saturday and Sunday).  It felt really good and I'm not sure what the secret ingredient to our success was, but whatever it was, I want more weekends like it.

It's funny we managed to pull it off as last week was pretty stressful.  By Friday night we were all fried.  Once we got the kids to bed and ate, my husband and I managed to switch the mood around by 9:30pm, and after that things got much better.

Haven't had much down time, but am excited to report that today I have dealt with the painters who are doing our basement (yay!), the floor guy who is going to cover up the concrete in the basement with flooring (yay!) and the HVAC guy who hopefully figured out why the thermostat isn't communicating with the furnace (yay!).  I've also had both kids at home as the babe didn't have school today. 

She wasn't feeling well for the first half of the day (possibly related to not feeling well and trying to wiggle into our bed all last night).  I guess the babe wouldn't have gone to school today anyway, so it kind of worked out (except for the fact that we had to miss the little guy's sports class, which is seriously unfortunate as he's literally been inside for days).

Another unfortunate thing is the amount of TV the kids have watched today as I deal with contractors and such, and the amount of paint fumes we are all currently inhaling.  I know they say low VOC is OK, but I'm feeling pretty raunchy having been trapped in here all day.  If it were spring, you can bet every window we own would be pumped open. 

Anyway, this is a pretty random post, but I wanted to get something up that wasn't about crazy drivers!  Hopefully I will have some good news for you later this week as both kids are undergoing "food challenges" at the allergist's office.  The little guy will be trying dairy (which he is still testing negative for and hasn't had in over a year) and the babe will be trying egg as her levels have apparently dropped enough that they think she may be OK with it.  Fingers crossed we can start marking things off our food allergy list!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Share the Road

This has nothing to do with how patient and positive a parent I am.  It has to do with how I drive.

I like to think I am a pretty good driver (so does everyone, right?).

When the babe makes comments from the back about my driving, I politely tell her that I know what I'm doing and don't appreciate being told how to drive by a 4 year old.

When drivers behind me at red lights honk for me to turn right when it is clearly unsafe, I tend to stare them down in the rear view mirror and gesture at the traffic that I will no doubt run into if a turn is attempted.  And no, I don't give people the finger (if my kids are in the car).

This morning, as we were driving to school, the second scenario occurred.  We had just started our commute when this bow tie wearing Camry driver decided to honk and gesture at me at a red light.  I dealt with it in the above described manner and thought I was done with it.

When the light turned green I proceeded to turn right, as did the driver behind me.  He stayed behind me all the way until the next turn.  And the next turn.  And the next turn.

Honestly folks, my heart was thumping and I felt like I was going to start crying by the time we hit the third turn and he was still there staring at me at every light and stop sign.  I've heard of road rage, and there is a lot of it in these parts (DC and Dallas have the longest commute times in the country).  And while I knew I may be overreacting, some worst case scanarios starting running through my mind. 

I wanted to call my husband and ask him what I should do, but I was driving, and frankly, I was concentrating on every move the guy behind me made.  What was I going to do if he was still behind me when I had to park?

I remembered there's usually a police car parked outside an elementary school a block from the babe's school.  Not knowing what else to do, I made a turn towards where I hoped the cop car would be parked.  And that is where I lost my crazy friend.  The police car wasn't even parked in front of the elementary school, so it wouldn't have done me much good anyway.

Was the guy just messing with me, or did he really need to follow my every move for 15 minutes straight?  I had so many disturbing thoughts run through my head, but ultimately I was worried about the position I had put my 2 innocent children in.  What if this guy was really a nut job? 

Should I stop gesturing at people on the road?  Should I not honk at people any more?  Should I drop the parts of me which have become "agressive" on the road?

What would a patient and positive parent do?  Be a good driver, that's what they'd do. 

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Do You Want To Be My Follower?

This is just a friendly reminder to you, my dear readers, that you're more than welcome to become an "official" 24-7 Mommy follower.  I have moved my Followers (all 13 of you!) up to the top left hand side of the home page, and would love it if you could join my list. Thank you!

Poker Face-Day 7

On the few occasions I've played poker, I did not do so well.  As I mentioned, I'm not so great at hiding things. 

As such, I think it's important to address my wise cousin's comments about yesterday's post (she is a doctor in Sweden):

"No no... not a poker face.
I have had SO many patients (psychiatry) lately coming from "perfect homes" where emotions were not allowed. It is not good. They can't identify what they are feeling so they just ignore it and give out all kinds of mixed signals.
The ones from homes where everything is dealt with openly are doing much better.
Let them see your emotions and let them see you deal with them. "real life" is full of problems and that is OK."

These are VERY good points and I thank you, J, for reminding us that kids benefit from seeing emotion/reality.  I guess I was thinking more along the lines of not freaking out if we're running late, not losing my cool over spilt milk, not going into a tizzy when the kids are running around screaming and chasing each other when I've asked them to clean up their toys (which they are about to trip over).

While I wish I could have more of a poker face (in general, not just with kids), I really just want to improve my ability to moderate some of my occasionally extreme (negative) emotions.  While it's important for my kids to understand that emotion is a healthy part of life, I want them to have many opportunities to mirror the positivity they witness in their Father and I. 

What I'm really trying to say is that I don't want them to mirror me when I'm walking around with a twisted face and ranting in my head.  I want to help them mirror as much positivity and patience as possible.  That means I want to feel as much of it as possible.  Part of that is letting go a bit more and not giving into the desire to meltdown when my buttons are pushed.  And part of that is trying to take a step back, take a DEEP breath, and realize that the issues we are facing are not deal breakers (thank goodness).  Easily said.  Not so easily done. 

If you have tips on controlling your parental angst, feel free to share.