Friday, January 31, 2014

Lessons in Motherhood

When Punkin was a baby, I heard all the time about what amazing patience I had. I was in that new motherhood phase of thinking things were going to go exactly how I wanted them to. I was going to raise him this way and discipline that way and only organic food all the time ever! In my defense, Punkin was an amazingly good baby, so it's just as much his fault as it is mine (joking!).

But then something happened. Something called "toddler" came over my child and I'm afraid my patience was worn very thin. Especially with the addition of a little sister to hit and push and steal toys from.

One day, when I picked Punkin up from school after an especially frustrating day in the office, he sat in the back seat playing with his Leap Pad while I drove thinking about dinner and jammies and bed time. Punkin has a new found love of recording himself and then playing it back so he can hear it. His Leap Pad has one such game. So he's sitting in the back seat recording himself screaming. This awful, deep, incredibly loud scream. After telling him three times to please stop screaming, I lost it. I yelled as loud as I could so he could hear me over his screaming "STOP SCREAMING!!!".

"Sorry.", was all he could meekly say. I felt immediately relieved that he stopped. Happy with myself even, that I made him listen to me.

Then I realized, he recorded that whole exchange. Pretty soon the sound of myself screaming at my child was being played back to me over and over and over again from the back seat. Me yelling and him saying "Sorry.".

Needless to say, I felt so bad. I sounded out of control and scary. To myself. What did I sound like to a 3 year old?

This was a lesson I needed. It's so easy to just snap. It's so easy to take the easy way out and throw a temper tantrum just like Punkin would. It's hard to keep your cool.

So, I make the extra effort to understand why he's upset. Most of the time, if I get down on his level and speak to him about why he's feeling the way he's feeling, I avoid a fit. One time he was upset about something or other, and I sat down on the floor of his bedroom and just talked to him.

"What are you feeling right now?"
"Sad."

That was all it took to start the conversation. He told me why he was upset, I offered a solution and told him it was okay to be sad. At the end of it, he gave me a hug and said "Thank you for making me feel better, Momma." and I wanted to cry. Why couldn't I do that all the time? How hard was that, really? I had my shining motherhood moments, but lately it seemed like I was losing my cool more than I was offering solutions.

So, I make the extra effort as often as I can. Sometimes it doesn't work and I have to put him in time out or take away a toy. But most of the time, it does. When he cries, we take deep breaths together (something Austin actually discovered), and when he's upset, we talk about our feelings.

It's important to remember that while it's our duty to teach our kids, they end up teaching us as well.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Confession

I'm about to confess something here that I haven't confessed to many people. Mostly because I think, as we all do, I tend to judge myself harshly as a mother and I'm forever comparing myself to what other moms are doing. Because, you know...they're probably doing it better.

I was brushing Punkin's teeth one night when I noticed one of his teeth looked kind of off. There was no hole or spot, it just looked a little...different. I don't know about you, but when I get an idea in my head, be it that Austin has wrecked on the side of the road or that Punkin has a mouth full of cavities, I obsess over it. So first thing the next morning I called the pediatric dentist and set up an appointment for Punkin, which wouldn't happen for a couple of months because they're SO busy all the time.

It turns out my obsession this time was well called for. He had 4 cavities, and one tooth that looked suspicious. I wanted to die right there in that little room with the kid sized chair and the overly smiling hygienist. Her smile flickered ever so slightly when she saw my face and every employee I came across after that (the dentist, the billing lady, the receptionist) was sure to tell me how sometimes these things happen and they get kids in there all the time who need crowns and roots canals, so it was good that we caught it early. I just kept saying "I swear I brush his teeth".

I got in the car and cried. I felt like the worst mother in the history of ever. I mean really? Five cavities? At 3 years old? How does that even happen?!

So I had to really stop lying to myself and take a look at the fact that yes, there were some nights I simply forgot and figured it wasn't a big deal. There were some nights he may have had a gummy or piece of candy after brushing his teeth for going poop in the potty. I never flossed his teeth. Ever. For some reason in my brain, I didn't even really think it was possible for a kid to have this kind of damage at his age.

I never had a cavity until I was in my 20's. Austin on the other hand, not so much. His first root canal was in elementary school and his teeth get cavities like squirrels collects nuts. Apparently that's genetic, and apparently Punkin has his Daddy's teeth.

Today we went in for the second and what I thought was the last round of fillings. Turns out when they were working on him there was yet ANOTHER cavity next to an existing cavity where the rotten apple apparently was on it's way to spoiling the bunch. I wanted to throw my purse down and stamp my feet at the dentist.

"But I brush his teeth EVERY DAY! With a special ELECTRIC toothbrush we bought! AND we floss whether HE LIKES IT OR NOT! AND HE EFFING HATES IT!"

The dentist went on to explain that bacteria are like bugs in people. Some people have bigger bugs than others. Punkin apparently has some very big bugs in his mouth and there's not much I can do about it except for watch his sugar intake in snacks and juice and be diligent about oral hygiene.

The moral of the story is, I suck and my kid's mouth is going to cost me a fortune.

(For all of you who say dental insurance is a crock I LAUGH in your face. Between Punkin and Austin, it's saving me all kinds of money!)

My sweet boy at the dentist. He's such a trooper.

Friday, December 6, 2013

This Year

Is it just me, or does time go so much faster when you have kids?

I can't believe another year has come and gone. It doesn't seem like very long ago that we were celebrating Skeeter's first Christmas, and now we're creeping up to her second and Punkin's fourth!

This year Skeeter has learned to walk, talk, run, play and love her baby dolls. Punkin has learned how to argue and the pros and cons of having a little sister (pro: someone to play with, con: attention stealing demon baby).

Punkin is getting so much closer to four and I can't believe he's so big. He's like a little person now. Potty training is still a work in progress if you can believe it. He's super at going pee during the day and he's even pooping in the potty regularly now, we're just dealing with a couple of accidents here and there and he's no where near ready for night time training. Honestly, as long as he's pooping in the potty, I'm down.

Skeeter is learning new things every day. She loves taking care of her baby dolls. Feeding them and putting them to bed is her favorite game. She gives them hugs and kisses and gives them a bottle. It's so sweet. Don't get me wrong, she can show an attitude really quick if she feels the occasion calls for it. But overall, she's such a sweet baby and we can't get enough of her.

I like to think overall, this has been a year of growth. Austin and I have had some moments of realization about life and we've tried to grow from them. We've been helped immeasurably by friends and family, especially since one of our cars was totaled when Austin was hit by a drunk driver in October (he's fine, thank goodness). It shed a whole new light on thankfulness and a good lesson of not taking things for granted. I hope we can carry that with us when times of feeling sorry for ourselves pop up, as they tend to do.

I hope everyone's year was as good as mine, and I hope in the new year I can tend to this little blog more often, no matter how few people read it.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

I Do Exist!

Hello! This blog is still here! I'm still here! Promise!

I guess I got so busy with tax season (like, really busy) I neglected the blog, and then after tax season I kind of felt like I had nothing to offer. But now I'm back with just maybe a little bit of news to share.

We just moved in to a new house and wow. It's so nice to have our own space again. It's a bigger place than we've ever had and it really feels like we can breathe and spread out which is always nice. It's pretty in the middle of nowhere for us since we're so used to living on one side of town, but there are lots of frogs and other critters (even gators sometimes apparently? yikes!) to keep us company.

Skeeter is a year old and ugh she's so huge. She's walking all over the place and saying a few words. She loves to eat (and how dare you if you're eating something...anything...and you don't share with her) and she loves her Bubba and Pooh Bear. She's such a sweet baby. She's very quiet most of the time and so well behaved when we're out. We just love her to bits.

I've shared this here before, but I never wanted a girl. Because I'm a girl and I remember what it's like to be a girl and I just didn't want to have to deal with a child going through what I went through. But having a girl is so fun. Having a boy is pretty special, but having a girl is pretty special in a different way I think.

Punkin is growing up too. It's amazing to me sometimes when we're having a conversation that he can actually sit and have that conversation with me. He can tell me about his day and about what he likes and especially about what he doesn't like. It's a fun trip in to his brain.

I'm in school for early childhood education and it's going great so far. I'm really enjoying learning about how my kid works. I don't know that I'll ever really pursue a career in early childhood education, but learning about it is so much fun. It's nice to have something for me.

Austin is traveling like a crazy person with no kids for his comedy. He's gone three weekends in a row in August and I'm already dreading it. I'm proud of him for relentlessly pursuing his passion and making things happen for himself. He's getting paid to do what he loves, so I can't complain too much!

And now here is a lovely picture of my almost grown babies.



Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Come Back Kid

Hi! I'm still here!

This tax season has been so unbelievably busy. Just ask my very disgruntled husband. I went back to full time in February and since then I've been working nights and weekends whenever I feel like I need to catch up. Which has been often. It's exhausting and I think I've been sick for a month straight now. Between working nights and Skeeter still getting up in the middle of the night to nurse (torture!) my body is protesting.

Punkin turned 3 at the beginning of the month and to celebrate we took the kids to Disney. It was amazing. Punkin had a fantastic time and we had a fantastic time watching him. Skeeter was an absolute doll and besides having to make a quick trip to urgent care for an eye infection, everything went great!

They're both getting so big. Punkin is growing by leaps and bounds. He speaks like a little person now and the terrible three's are upon us! We're still working on potty training, but so far we're at a stalemate. He'll pee in the potty when he feels like it, otherwise he'll just pee in his pants if he's too busy. Don't even think about poop. He absolutely refuses to poop in the potty.

Skeeter is almost a year old! 2 more months and my baby will be a toddler! I can't even believe it. She's so very close to walking. She can stand on her own and it's like you can see the wheels turning in her brain to make herself take a step, but she ends up just falling to her butt. Soon! She's also saying words all over the place: Mama, Dada, Bubba (for Punkin), num num, banana, paw paw, night night...it's like she's picking up a new one every day. She'll be as big as her brother pretty soon, and her brother will be starting kindergarten. Where does the time go?

Austin and I are, of course, getting lost in the children and the general every day mess that is life. It's hard for us to get out at the same time, so I'm really trying to have just us dates at least once a week on the weekends. It's hard to make it happen, but I feel like it's getting more and more important for us to just be us together instead of parents and employees all the time.

Tax season ends April 15th, so I probably won't write again until after then! Here's hoping I survive!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Around

That's me. I've been around. I guess I can't complain that I haven't had anything interesting to write about.

Punk is doing very well in preschool. He still cries a bit in the morning when I drop him off if his teacher isn't there yet (he loves his teacher!). But he's always happy and playing when I pick him up. I can definitely see an improvement in his speech, both in the words he's saying and in his comprehension. Tuesday he was telling me how he rode the bicycle at playtime and how he learned all about dinosaurs in class. He was even telling me about how his friend Josh cried during breakfast. It was nice to be able to have a conversation about his day.

He's so very close to three now, and I can definitely feel it. His favorite game is pushing Momma and Daddy's buttons until we get all red faced and huffy. He loves it. It's been difficult navigating boundaries for him. Time-outs don't seem to work very well. I'm not a big fan of spanking, but he has been popped on the bottom on occasion and that doesn't seem to have much of an effect either. It's a work in progress.

Potty training seems to be at a standstill. He's great going pee pee in the potty during the day, and will usually tell us when he needs to go when we're out. He has a habit of holding it for a REALLY long time to avoid the potty, so we have to really stay on top of him or he'll have an accident before we can get him to the bathroom. He still won't poop in the potty at all. I'm kind of stumped on that one. I don't want to force it but man it would be nice if we could get him to do that. He's also still in a diaper at nap time and at bed time and usually wakes up really wet so I don't think he's even close to losing the diaper completely.

Skeeter is getting so very big. She's 8 months old now and babbling away. She says Ma, Da, Buh, Nuh and some other random gibberish. I hesitate to say it, but I really think she's starting to recognize Austin and I with "Mama" and "Dada". We call Punk Bubba. I also think she says "nuh" when she wants to eat sometimes. We refer to food as num num with Punk. I don't know why and I went through a period of trying to stop saying it because it's kind of obnoxious, but it stuck. So I always ask if she wants some num num and I think that's where she gets nuh from. Or it's my imagination. Who knows.

She has her two bottom teeth (which are ridiculously sharp...trust me) and I think she's working on more. She's crawling every where and pulling up and cruising. She's into EVERYTHING and has gotten to where she runs (crawls really fast) when she hears me coming up behind her. She knows I'm there to spoil her fun. She's a love and a joy and she and her brother are the prettiest babies in existence. Yes, I'm bias. No, I don't care.

I start back full time at work at the beginning of next month and I'm dreading it, but I'm looking forward to full paychecks again. Say a tax season prayer for me! It'll probably be another month before I update!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Grief

I have not been able to stop thinking about the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary since I first heard about it on Friday.

I wanted to write a post that day. But I knew it would be a jumbled mess of emotion and rage and terror. I told Austin what happened and he turned on the news to a scene of chaos and confusion. We watched for a few minutes, and just as I was reaching my breaking point the new caster announced "All of the 20 children killed were between 5 to 10 years old" and I lost all grip on emotion. I jumped up just as Austin was asking "How..." and choked through tears that I couldn't sit there and watch it any more. He hugged me while I cried and I fell apart.

Of course, I'm thinking about my own children and how I would cope if something like this ever happened to one of them (I wouldn't, by the way). But I'm also thinking of those children and the absolute horror they must have felt. Knowing now that they were all 6-7 year old first graders, the same age as my precious nephew, makes it all more real. My heart breaks for them, and it breaks for their parents. It breaks for the survivors and the emotional scars they'll likely carry for the rest of their lives. It breaks for that small community who now are struggling to put the pieces together and figure out how to move forward.

It breaks for the entire country. Because I think we all felt it. I think we all held our breath for just a second as our brains tried to process the hows and whys.

Now government leaders and know-it-alls on Facebook continue to discuss gun control and how this happened because God wasn't in that school (please). How only prayer will make these things stop and we need MORE guns and those kindergarten teachers should have been packing heat. But if we look beyond all of that and take a harsh realistic stance, nothing will make these things stop. They'll  continue to happen. It will continue to be tragic. And every time we'll talk about gun control and God and monsters, and we'll be at the mercy of mental illness.

No matter what gun policy is put in to place, I can't help but feel like we need to start at the roots of growth. We need better funding for early intervention programs. We need more schools with behavior specialists and more resources for behavioral therapy. Parents need help, and the fact of the matter is they don't always have the funds or the resources or the time to recognize that fact.

Don't get me wrong, I'm sure no one could have predicted a tragedy on this scale. The fact that some news outlets are discussing Autism as a reason is infuriating and shows at best, a basic misunderstanding between ASD and a severe mental illness.  I just wish it was possible for teachers to be trained to recognize early signs of illness and act swiftly to get the parents informed and get them help. Maybe it wouldn't help at all. But maybe it would make one less child feel different and alone to know that other kids go through it too.

Nothing can fully explain this. No one answer will ever give the parents peace. I just hope time can ease the ache in their hearts.