Dare I say it? My child is….strong willed. Well, that’s putting it mildly. Any time I ask him to do ANYTHING, it is an epic battle of wills that feels like it may to the death….most likely his. He once was so angry that he wasn’t allowed to crawl under the pew and grab the feet of the people behind us in church that even though he was dragged out into an empty classroom with the door closed, my hubby could still hear him. My hubby was on stage with worship band playing the keyboard at the time…with an ear piece in his ear. Let’s just say I didn’t feel close to God that Sunday.
So here we are at dinner. Everyone is doing fine and I cooked. I made chicken and potatoes and veggies and everything. I sit the girls down and tell them the potatoes are French fries and we’re ready to roll. Then I grab King Toot and, of course, he is unhappy. Of course, because I asked him to do something. Never mind that he’s been begging for food for an hour. I dared to tell him we were going to sit at the table and eat. That’s when he started his high pitched shriek. It could break glass….it does break ear drums. Now, these are a few things we have learned through trial and a massive amount of error. If I ever give in, even once, and just let him scream and ignore it….it eggs him on. He will only escalate more, and more, and more, and more. He has followed me around and pushed on the back of my knees to make me fall. He has thrown things at me, hit me, etc. If I immediately address it right then, he’ll stop. The best punishment for him is isolation. We stick him in his crib and call it “a break” and tell him we’ll check on him in a few minutes to see if he’s ready to come out. If he stands up and says sorry, he has admitted defeat and we’re good to go. He has to say sorry…not just a cease in crying is enough. Trust me, I’ve tried. I mean, I’ve TRIED! But he MUST admit defeat or this battle is not done. It’s like the white surrender flag that he waves to admit that he lost this round.
It’s exhausting. Dinner tonight I spent taking a bite, trying to have a conversation with my (at that moment) sweet girls, and then jumping up to offer him a choice between saying sorry and joining us or staying in his crib. He would just stare at me and scream louder! He was not distressed….he was pissed! I had to do this no less than 10 times. He finally said sorry, I told him what I always do…that I forgive him and I love him no matter what but that it’s not an excuse to act that way. Then he proceeded to lick the ketchup up and eat nothing else and then say “done.”. By that point I was too tired to care and let him down.
It’s in these moments I always truly doubt myself. I see all these articles my friends post that all basically say the same thing. They have lovely titles, like peaceful parenting, or enjoy motherhood, or loving your kids. They all recommend something along the lines of: ‘there’s no need for conflict! Let them express their frustration, offer them choices, redirect, get on their level, and as long as you talk it out respectfully to them they will respect you.’ I feel a failure because my house is so often riddled with conflict.
But then I remind myself. I taught for several years. I did those things. I know them well in fact. I use them with my daughters with great success. But they made things worse with my son. So, so, so, so much worse. This is the first big meltdown in two days (plenty of small ones, but those only required going in once or twice). It used to be seven epic meltdowns a day…minimum. He is getting better and I am calmer in dealing with him. It comes down to this: parenting is an art…not a science. There is no magic formula that will magically transform every child. For some, if they were to use the tactics I just mentioned they would have a very different response. Parenting is an art because the materials you have been given differ. Some kids are like soft clay (like Urpling) which require gentle molding…anything harsher will crush them beyond repair. Some are like my son…titanium…and must be melted at a million trillion degrees before they will bend even a little. So I just take a deep breath, dress for battle, and remind my son at the end of each day how much I love him no matter what. Because at the end of the day, I know he will grow up to be a strong leader so I just need to give him the foundation to be a good one.
It’s a new year and already I’ve had a few fun moments. Like trying to explain our evening prayer and then glancing at Urpling who has a deep look of concentration…looks at me…and then says, “Look what I can do!” and proceeds to stick her entire fist in her mouth. Or going in to the girls’ room to fix their night light and having Sasquatch announce as she’s shielding her eyes from the sudden light, “The light in our room is brighter than the sun!”
I spent a good amount of time looking through old pictures. So as a walk through the previous year as we move on to a new one, here are my favorites:
Hope you enjoyed my trip down memory lane!
This post has no clear topic. Just a rambling of all the randomness. But that randomness happened during our “winter break” so I figured it was adequate enough to sum up whatever bizarre things I end up typing about. I’m in a weird mood by the way. A little cantankerous like an old woman sitting on her porch harassing passed bys for sport. Oh, and my autocorrect is on crack. So that may add some spice. I may just skip proof reading this so you can experience my horrific grammar and spelling in all it’s glory. (I promise that I have NOT been drinking, and I did actually end up proof reading this…and you should thank me).
Anyway, I was looking forward to break. I was taking a break from my training, taking a break from counting calories, no school to bring kids to, no Bible studies to get to. I was going to relax and do all those fun, Donna Reed has discovered Pinterest type projects with my kids. We were going to be a fun and picture perfect family for once. I was going to reorganize stuff, bake toffee for everyone I knew, and start 2014 with a clean slate. Then this happened. Sasquatch and Urpling got the stomach flu which took them several days to recover from. If you didn’t bother clicking on the link and reading it because that was sooooo 2007, then let me restate the final sentence, “But it is Christmas Eve and thankfully we all seem to be recovered and healthy and able to celebrate this wonderful season together without any more issues.”. To which I say “HA! Joke’s on you crazy jinx myself lady!”. Because the next morning after writing this blog, I wake up to celebrate my absolute favorite of holidays, made monkey bread, and then raced to the bathroom. Did something I eat disagree with me? I felt fine after this incident so I decided “mind over matter” and we headed to my parents. I always allow myself to splurge on holidays when it comes to food, otherwise I might as well just die because life loses all meaning…or something like that. But my glorious feast consisted of a dollop of mashed potatoes and some cherry jello. I was still doing okay…just not hungry (which should have been a sign for me)…and it hit me. The flu. Not just stomach stuff, but full blown chills/sweats/full body aches/migraine flu. The kind that makes you feel so miserable that you want to write out your last will and testament because you will surely die. Then you remember you already have one, so you just relax and wait for the inevitable white light to guide you home. Only that actually would have been much more peaceful. I couldn’t sleep because I hurt so much. I felt like I had just completed the ironman with no prior training. The next day I felt a million times better, even though I still had a fever and achiness. By the end of the day I was feeling almost normal. Yay! But then I actually ate something for the first time in two days. Big mistake. I was worshiping at the porcelain alter every hour for the next twelve. I felt like a baby…who eats nothing and poops constantly. Where does it come from? Like the magic trick with the handkerchief up the sleeve it just kept coming and coming, beyond all logic.
Long story even longer, I finally recovered. But my mom even had to come help with the kids because I was so sleep deprived that I was afraid the children would do themselves harm while I lay drooling on the sofa in a comatose state. So a week has now gone by without anything fun or even remotely Donna Reed-like. Then we have three days of health. I play games, and start making that toffee for everyone I know. Then the next day I see King Toot on my spot on the couch. I lean over to pick him up and get a wiff. Whoooo! Someone needs a diaper change! I pick him to see nothing but massive amounts of brown. AHHHHHHHHHHHH,!!!!! I can never sit there again! The horror! I clean him up. He the proceeds to have stomach issues. Little tiny squirts every half hour or so, accented with big massive blow outs (much like morse code) that create yet another load of laundry, carpet cleaners to earn their keep, and a plethora of baths. This lasted two days. Then he finally started eating again and I rejoiced. We were almost done! Only to wake up at four in the morning to him crying. Thinking he had pooped, I checked his diaper. Thankfully, it was dry. Relief only lasted a moment as I pondered the strange aroma emanating from my son. I investigate mores lock luck. (wow…I wrote “more closely” CORRECTLY…and autocorrect changes it into that. It’s definitely on crack). King Toot has puked large chunks of partially digested chicken nuggets and banana. Thankful it didn’t have a potent smell, I again bathed him, and cleaned his bedding. Two more days of morse code pooping led to a raw bottom so that he could hardly walk but thankfully no more barf. I have now finished my winter break and he has been healthy for all of two days and still hasn’t pooped normally. So much for a break. We did snuggle a lot as we watched an endless parade of movies while some person was too ill to do much of anything else.
I really don’t post this to complain. As they say, Flu happens…or something like that. But I have been a complete flake. People text me and I don’t even remember. I agree to do things and then remember three days after the date passes. So this tale of woe is an attempt to earn pity from all my friends that I’ve deprived and insulted. Just know that I love you all and I will not let this get me down. Also, that your toffee will be coming. But I figured only a douche would make her friends homemade candy that is made with love, butter, sugar, and the wonderful microbes of stomach flu.
Note: Some positive things did happen. We had a wonderful Christmas Eve looking at lights while the girls hung out the sunroof yelling “Merry Christmas!” to everyone. Sir Smiley and I went on a date to Fogo De Chao. The oasis of joy for all meat lovers, the closest thing to heaven I have yet to experience. They walk around with meat on skewers…high quality meats…of all kinds. Cuts of lamb, sirloin, pork, chicken, filet mignon, etc. We have coasters and when we flip them to green, the meat keeps coming. when were done, we flip them to red. I finished with filet mignon wrapped in bacon. BACON! We also saw The Hobbit. We got to go to a New Years party at a friends house and had a blast. Overall, it was a good vacation and I did get in a ton of snuggles. It was actually a relief to get back into my routine and almost easier and more restful after all that.
I warn you: this is not for the weak of stomach!
Merry Christmas Eve! To celebrate I’m going to rant about the stomach flu. Tis the season, right? Sarcasm aside…I plan on a truly proper Christmas post tomorrow. But after this weekend I felt the need to rant a bit to get it out of my system. For any parent who has had to deal with the stomach flu, you will truly understand and sympathize with my pain. For those who haven’t, this will be a warning of what is to come. My goal for any Christmas is to get all the “stuff” (errands, chores, etc.) out of the way so that the days leading up to Christmas are calm and fun. Just hanging out as a family. Things were going according to plan until Saturday rolled around. The first signs of the ominous future came that morning. We had a kids dash for the kids. They were whiney all morning and it was a fairly miserable experience. King Toot was his usual, stubborn, difficult, defiant self. But the surprise was how Urpling and Sasquatch were acting. A they love races and usually have a lot of fun. But Sasquatch complained about how cold she was (it was in the 50s and 60s *roll eyes*) and Urpling kept complaining that her side hurt so I assumed she had a stitch in her side. But when we got home she didn’t want lunch and went right to bed. The other two only ate a smattering of food and then also went to bed. When Urpling got up hours later, she still didn’t want to eat. By the time dinner rolled around she seemed to be doing okay. We all sat down to eat…and then all of the sudden she started shrieking and heaving. Then it came…like a waterfall…all over her plate, her shoulder, the tablecloth, her chair, the floor, and then two other plates. To say I lost my appetite was an understatement. I cleaned her up, cleaned the plates, wiped down the chair and the floor, rinsed her hair out and changed her clothes….and threw away the table cloth (it was plastic and I couldn’t bring myself to try and get it clean knowing I would always be slightly queasy looking at it). King Toot found the experience hilarious and grabbed his food and started eating before I could stop him…giggling the entire time.
Urpling lays on the couch with a bucket and makes it several hours until bed puke free. Of course we get her into bed and she starts crying. I tell her to sit up and lean over the bucket. She sits up…and then projectile vomits in a perfect arc….over the bucket. Not a drop gets in the bucket and it ends up all over the floor. So I get out the carpet cleaner and shampoo the carpet..thoroughly. Thankfully, she finally goes to sleep and doesn’t puke again.
But then I wake up at 1:30 to her standing my bed yelling, “Mom! Mom! Mom! (Sasquatch)!”. Then she runs to daddy’s room (who was finally home) as I was still trying to wake up enough to hear what she was saying so obviously I wasn’t reacting quickly enoug. She fetches daddy and he enters the room…and exclaims in horror. Here’s his status describing the horror that awaited him: “Vomit EVERYWHERE! I’m going to be upset if I get this. Did we get it into the basket? No. We got it into our hair, pillow, bedspread, pajamas, arms, face, legs, comfortor, sheets, bed frame, and carpet. Then, we scooped it into the basket. Yippee for 1:40am puke.” Yeah. It was horrifying. He had Sasquatch in the bathroom rinsing her hair and body off. He had pealed her pjs off and piled them with her comforter in a pile on the floor. I called to him, “Well at least she got some in the basket!” To which he responded, “No she didn’t! That’s what I scraped off her comforter!”. Ugh. The smell was overwhelming…I had to leave and take deep breaths and hold it while I went in and stripped her bed and cleaned up the floor…grabbed the carpet cleaner…again…and shampooed the carpet….again. She returned to bed and slept for a mother couple of hours before waking up to puke one more time. Then she woke up again a few hours later and said she had to pee…only it wasn’t pee. After her second round of diarrhea, she said, “At least this time I didn’t puke out my mouth, I puked out my bottom!”. It was a long couple of days.
Needless to say I scrubbed everything in the house…and I mean EVERYTHING..in the hopes of preventing the spread of the plague. It seems to have been successful as neither King Toot (who laughed each time this happened…at least when he was awake) nor Sir Smiley nor myself have gotten it…yet. So we have ended up spending the days leading up to this glorious Christmas Eve watching movie after movie in an attempt to keep King Toot from jumping on his sisters, and to keep the poor girls entertained while they lay wallowing in misery on the couches. But it is Christmas Eve and thankfully we all seem to be recovered and healthy and able to celebrate this wonderful season together without any more issues.
I was skimming some mommy blogs and posts and chuckling to myself and it hit me. I was no longer obsessing about what other mother’s were saying. I was not concerned in the least if I was doing things differently, or whether they would be mortified if they spent a day in my home (although the thought does amuse me). There was a post I was reading about advice on clipping fingernails. A whole plethora of mothers were commenting and saying they did it while their kids watched TV…which is how I do it. But what amused me to no end was that every single one of them, without fail, needed to add a couple of sentences elaborating that they NEVER watch TV, and how they only turn it on for those few minutes and immediately turn it off before their children turn into human vegetables…incapable of creative thought. I chuckled because I wondered how horrified they would be if they knew that not once, but twice, my kids had eaten dinner in front of the tv in the living room in the past week. And no, they were not even remotely educational. Unless you consider learning scare tactics from Monsters University educational. And no, that wasn’t the only time the ol’ boob tube was on.
I used to worry about what people would think if they knew that I keep a healthy (or unhealthy) supply of Mac and Cheese around. Or that I have let my kids cry while I deal with other things…or because they just wouldn’t stop no matter what I did. I have rocked my kids to sleep. I have yelled at my kids. Would they be mortified that I use disposable diapers…or that I used an entire trees worth of paper towels the other day when my dogs had diarrhea all over the floor?
But we also go hiking. I’m not crafty, but we do play board games practically every day (my daughters and I just played the most epic game of Forbidden Island I have ever experienced….at the ages of 4 and 6 they rule). They make forts, and lay in sleeping bags reading in the middle of our living room floor. They watch movies when they feel like it…but then half way through will run outside to catch bugs and dig holes.
But most importantly, they are loved and happy….for the most part. I may not be perfect but I do a pretty decent job and when I’m looking at my kids I can’t help but feel like they might actually turn out okay. I’ve learned to say I’m sorry, I’ve learned to tell my kids to give me a break because I’m cranky and need a minute, and I have learned my limitations. I found my strengths and used those instead of trying to ignore my weaknesses.
I guess I just finally figured out my priorities. I want to keep God and Sir Smiley proud of what I’m doing with the kids they both gave me. Everyone else can kiss my nether regions if they disagree with my choices because I am now beyond caring what everyone who happens to pass by might think. I am a good mom, and I no longer need anyone else to tell me that to know that it’s true.
I’ll be honest here. I am not an expert in any of these areas. My dad is a doctor. My mom is a food scientist. But, unfortunately, their knowledge was not passed along to me by genetics, osmosis, or anything else. I have picked up bits and pieces from their conversations with each other…but even the vocabulary is up here *gestures with hand a foot above my head* and my understanding of what their saying is down here *lays on the floor wishing I had a basement to better illustrate the lowliness of my actual knowledge in this area*. That being said…I have been gifted with some semblance of common sense, experiences at various levels of “health”, and the random bits and pieces I’ve read along the way. So I want to impart what I’ve managed to make sense of.
Health is impossible to define. I’ve heard some people rant about needing to lose weight and others rant about how we shouldn’t strive to be so skinny. I’ve heard about the evils of eggs and the glories of eggs. The food pyramid is touted as the second coming of Jesus by some and the arrival of the antichrist by others. So it leaves most of us average joes floundering around trying to figure out what in the name of heaven above we should be doing/eating/avoiding. So here was the best thing I did. I chucked all of it out the window. Life has taught me that I’m a skeptical and cynical person. I, out of a combination of sheer mule-like stubbornness and a healthy skepticism, avoid fad diets. If you tell me you lost 13 pounds in a week, I’ll call it a pile of something stinky and back away slowly. Plus, I chucked the notion that I needed to be focused solely on losing weight. There was a scientist who decided to try losing weight through calorie deficit alone. He ate McDonalds, hostess snacks, Mac and cheese, etc but only ate about 1700-1800 calories every day. He lost weight, his cholesterol went down as did his fat percentage (you can read more about this here). But was he healthy? I would venture to guess he probably wasn’t.
After several years of working to lose weight, I finally decided health was an overall quality of life that should include activity level, eating well, and a good mental state. But even more than what I eat, I’ve noticed what I do affects everything else. When I keep a good workout routine, I feel better. I feel accomplished, happy, and thin. Nothing else needs to change, even my weight, to create this change in mood. This also means I eat better. I no longer need comfort foods to comfort me. Do I still enjoy them. Ummmm….yeah. Double yeah. Triple dog yeah. I LOVE food! But I no longer feel a NEED to eat junk. Which is a huge difference!
So, basically, I workout and it makes me feel better about myself. I feel better about myself and so I eat better. It works.
I’ve now spent just over 4 years slowly trying to improved my health. It is a journey that is far from over, and I am not to my goal yet. but I have picked up some little tricks along the way that I wanted to pass along:
- count calories. I don’t think you need to weigh every last molecule. But it is amazing how knowledge is power! Knowing what it was that I put in my body helped me make better choices and weigh the consequences. There were all kinds of things I didn’t even really like but ate because they were there. But once I knew how much that was adding up, I was able to cut out the things I didn’t even like, and still enjoy the treats I did like.
- get workout stuff ready the night before. It’s hard to get yourself up and doing something that (especially at first) can be unpleasant. But I found if I had already spent the 15 minutes assembling clothes, getting bottles filled, packing gym bags, etc. that it gave me the extra push out the door. I didn’t want that time and planning to be wasted.
- speaking of planning, plan out your meals for the week, and when you will be going shopping. If I have a game plan and already have the ingredients purchased, I avoid the whole, “Crap! It’s 5:00 and we only have crackers and old celery in the house and we have to be to our scheduled activity at 6:30! Guess it’s McDonald’s again…” situation.
- get a good iPodish device and make a playlist for working out. Music makes the workout for me. It doesn’t even have to be rocking and loud. But it puts me in my own happy place where no children are screaming for me.
- Speaking of screaming kids, join a gym where they watch your kids. Want motivation to work out? How about people taking three small kiddos off your hands for an hour or two? Now THAT is motivation!
- try new things, and often! I’m on a break from my triathlon training. So I’ve tried a spin class, Pilates class, and a Zumba class. I’ve loved them! Don’t be afraid to try new things or look dumb. These trainers are just happy to have people show up to their class! They could care less what you look like. (Also, who cares what you look like at the gym? Anyone who does is a class A douche who is only there to strut around flexing in mirrors…and trust me, everyone else there dislikes them as much as you).
- do what feels right. When it comes to eating and working out, trust what works. If you cut out gluten and feel a million times better, then go for it. If you discover that it doesn’t work and you secretly binge eat because you miss all your yummy bread…then it might not be the best route for you. Try something else.
Getting healthy is a lot like parenting: everyone has an opinion, if you wait long enough someone will tell you the opposite of what you just heard, and you will feel like you’re doing it wrong if you focus on doing it “right”. Instead, just try things, see what works, and then smile and nod at any advice given after that and keep doing what you were doing. But as long as you stick with it, good things will happen!