Halloween Fails…and successes

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We had a blast here in the ktpeace family this Halloween. So in the spirit of this blog and the holiday, I thought it would be best to share our Halloween fails and some successes. Here’s some of the dos and don’ts I learned this Halloween:

Do buy your favorite candy…and eat it. Why stock up candy you don’t like? Already I went into Sir Smiley’s room to find that he had snuck a huge bag of candy into his room and was shoveling it into his special treasure box. (yes, he has a special treasure box…you’re telling me you don’t? Lamesauce)

Don’t forget to buckle your infant son into his stroller. Or there is the slight possibility he may slowly slide out onto the sidewalk towards the end of trick or treating and you may turn around and see him sitting on the ground with a sleepy and surprised look on his face. Not saying this happened….but you never know.

Do dress up…and go all out. I never had so much fun as I did this Halloween. It doesn’t need to be a costume everyone would recognize either. I was Codex from The Guild. The fun was in the random people who knew who I was that I didn’t expect.

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Don’t let your kids grab candy off the ground. Again, not saying this happened, but sometimes kids will spot candy on the ground and only tell you about it after they mixed it in with an entire bucketful of candy.

Do have lots of friends and family get together. The more the merrier. Having all those people to trick or treat with was loads of fun! Plus, more people to help keep track of your kids and keep them from running into the street.

Don’t let your new puppy run around without a leash. That family with three small kids really doesn’t want to see your puppy inches away from being squished right in front of them by the outlandishly huge pick up.

Do label drinks. Or you may accidentally drink out of someone else’s cup…and in a party with small kids that is a very dangerous thing.

Don’t leave beverages on lower level surfaces. Urpling stayed well hydrated by polishing off everyone else’s beverages tonight.

I hope everyone had a happy and safe Halloween! This cosplaying Codex is off to bed. I leave you with a few pics of the ktpeace family role playing as a butterfly, Princess Belle, Captain America, and Codex.

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Clean up…a reprix

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Yesterday I posted about the thrilling evening I had with my kids trying to get them to pick up. (If you missed it, you can read about it here) It’s never fun to admit the struggles we have as a parent…that we are less than worthy of the task given us. Here…for your reading pleasure…are a few tips that help me to avoid this kind of fiasco about (if I’m honest) 90% of the time. These are of course the tips I did NOT follow the other night.

1. Quiet Time: I absolutely HAVE to have some time with myself and God every morning or things will not go well. That time of talking to God about the previous day, contemplating what went well and what didn’t, what my hopes are for the day, all help get me focused on the important things and adjust my attitude. Whether or not you’re “religious”, taking some time alone at the start of the day is still beneficial. Give it whirl…you might be surprised to find God answering you. 😉

2. Focus on what is fair: I usually focus on what I THINK is fair. The kids made the mess, they should clean it up. But if I’m totally honest, I was a complete slob growing up. I am amazed my parents have any hair left after dealing with getting me to clean up anything. So after all the grace they gave me, the least I could do is grant my own kids some. (at least the first two…right?)

3. Let them do it their way: As long as they’re picking up, I need to stop making them do it my way. It doesn’t need to be fast, or perfect. I struggle with this one. I like everything to have a place, and then to actually be in that place. So when they chuck things willy nilly I get tense. Gotta let it go and give them some room so they feel successful.

4. Remove myself from the situation: If I can’t handle it, I need to get out of there. Usually I am pretty good at this. Telling the kids that mommy needs a break and zoning out to some soothing tunes or doing some mundane task until I am calmed down. But occasionally I don’t realize I am going to snap until it’s too late. Usually, it’s either when I am super tired, coming down with something, or that dreaded “time of month”. But it comes down to this…I would rather send my kids to their rooms for a little bit then try to tough it out when I know I am no longer capable of acting reasonably. Maybe it’s not the best discipline solution at the moment, maybe something more constructive or something that applies to the actions would work better, maybe they’ll cry the whole time they are in there…but if I send them to their room before I lose my cool then all they know is mommy is frustrated and needs a break. (yes, I am aware that the previous sentence probably broke about 100 grammatical rules…tough. I suck at grammar.) Not that mommy is a terrifying rage monster with psychological issues. You tell me which one is better.

5. Don’t end my day with it: The best thing I ever did was stop having the girls pick up at the end of the day. We pick up before dinner so we have plenty of time to cool off and make up if things go poorly. Even the other night, I made up with the girls and we all had dinner together. I was able to tuck them in when we were all happy and calm. The last thing they experienced that day was peace and not turmoil. It really does work!

So those are some things I’ve learned through many trials and even more errors. You can take it or leave it. I wish you all happy homes! Tomorrow is a new day!

Clean up

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Trying to get my kids to pick up their toys is a daunting task. I struggled with this for a long time. Recently we seemed to have finally gotten into a good routine…and combined with the multiple safety measures I had installed to prevent disaster. But there is still the occasional day of defeat, where things spiral out before I can stop it and the family dissolves into an emotional cesspool of misery and frustration. Unfortunately, today was one of those days.

5:15. Try the color game. Start with asking them to pick up anything that’s pink. Ask Urpling to put the large pink dog on her bed. Sasquatch insists it is hers. Shrieking and screaming and crying occur. I count to five, go and tell Sasquatch that the puppy belongs to them both and that I asked Urpling to put it away.

5:17. Before I can say another color, Sasquatch puts her Dora doll and Boots doll in her room. Urpling grabs them and plays with them. Sasquatch dissolves into tears. I count to five, ask Urpling to put them back, and remind Sasquatch to ask nicely and then talk to me if Urpling isn’t listening. King Toot plays quietly among the rubble that is our living room. I give up on the color game as they aren’t listening and Urpling doesn’t know her colors yet.

5:18. After cleaning so hard for 3 minutes (insert sarcasm font here), the girls take a break on the floor and hide underneath a bunch of pillows. At least they aren’t screaming anymore. King Toot sits giggling.

5:23. Finally convince Sasquatch to put the pillows away. Try to make it a race…who can pick up the most toys? Bad idea, as in her rush she takes one out of Urpling’s hands and Urpling dissolves into tears. In the meantime, King Toot starts chewing on an electrical cord.

5:27. I give up on games. Sasquatch is finally on a roll, having been cleaning for about 4 minutes straight. Urpling has spent those 4 minutes picking up a toy, playing with it until I tell her to put it away and then slowly crawls to the toy bucket. Rinse and repeat. Abby is now my favorite. (See my post on who is my favorite child here) KingToot proceeds to pull the toys Sasquatch put away back out.

5:31. Sasquatch is no longer cleaning but running around with a pink wand singing about true love at the top of her lungs. Urpling is following her around with butterflies. King Toot is now playing silently in the girls’ room. Must go investigate immediately.

5:34. Convince the girls I will guard the butterflies and wand (Which I was informed was actually a microphone) if they will keep picking up. King Toot rediscovers the video cabinet and proceeds to dump VHS tapes on the floor.

5:36. Both girls actually pick up for 2 minutes…at the same time. King Toot takes more toys out of the toy bucket.

5:38. Sasquatch is definitely my favorite as she is still cleaning but Urpling finds a flashlight and runs around shining it into people’s eyes. King Toot is quietly chewing on a stuffed animal.

5:39. Counting to five is forgotten as I finally get annoyed with Urpling’s refusal to pick up more than one toy every five minutes. Something to the effect of, “That’s it! You need to pick up now or…(suddenly grasping for a threat that applies to the situation and I will actually follow through on and finally come up with the lame) I will get upset”. Not my finest hour.

5:42. The girls are now trying to wrestle. I don’t know what is more shameful…their inability to pick up or how lame they are at wrestling.

5:44. Hitting desperation I finally resort to: “find one thing on the floor” when they do ask “where does it go?” Then they finally put it away. Sasquatch picks up blankets but amuses herself by hitting Urpling with them like a whip when she picked each one up. Urpling thinks this idea was fabulous and finds her own blankets. More chasing and giggling only now they are whipping each other.

5:46. Trying to get Urpling to pick up something is difficult. She can’t seem to understand simple instructions. It usually goes like this: “Urpling, pick up the doll by the couch and put it away.” Blank stare. “Urpling, pick up the doll by the couch.” She wanders the opposite direction. “Urpling, do you see the couch?” She looks at the couch. “Go to the couch.” She walks to the couch. “Now look at your feet.” “Now pick up the doll.” Then she finally spots the doll and picks it up. Repeat a few hundred more times.

5:48. Ask Sasquatch to put headband away and Urpling is supposed to put her toy away. After asking each one three times with no response both are given a time out while I count to five about fifty times to try and mellow before I do something rash.

5:51. Girls are now off timeout. King Toot is now my favorite as he has not destroyed anything for 10 minutes. The girls are now picking up. Urpling takes a break and King Toot starts pulling her hair so she decides sitting is not a good idea and picks up again. Well played, King Toot.

6:00. Lose it. I finally yell and tell them that since they are unable to pick up their toys…that tonight the toy box and all the toys in it are gone for a week. They will also be going straight to bed after dinner as I can hardly look at them without feeling a mixture of anger and hurt. King Toot starts to follow me around wailing. He is finally banned to his crib for a few minutes as I am not calm enough to sooth him and he won’t take a bottle or food.

6:10. Guilt, defeat, failure. Living room is still not totally clean. Out of desperation and sheer bullheadedness I start cleaning up for the girls because I now refuse to let them go to bed with the house messy. Anger is finally calming down and the hurt comes through and I start crying. The girls are finally picking up…probably out of sheer concern for my mental health than any other reason.

6:15. The Living room is finally clean. At least one room is done. Fetch King Toot from his room and head to the girls’s room to clean that next. Praying for strength to somehow salvage this night. Sit the girls down and apologize for losing my temper. Tell them that I shouldn’t have lost my temper but they still will not be having their toys. If they can’t pick up their toys, they can’t play with them.

6:30. The house is clean and we sit down to eat. Things have finally calmed down.

Why do I share this? Because I think any parent has been there. This is more common than any of us would like to admit. With me it usually boils down to fatigue, the onset of illness, or that terrifying “time of month”. But as common as it is, there is never any excuse to lose control in front of your kids. I can’t change what happened but I can learn from it.

Nonverbal Communication

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I have discovered that I have reached a new level of motherhood. In geek terms, I am no longer a noob. The “nonverbal communication” achievement has been unlocked. I now can communicate with my kids…almost telepathically. I noticed it today. Sasquatch was using a toy that she and Urpling were supposed to be sharing. She was purposely using it for as long as possible. Then it happened…she looked up at me and I gave her “the look”. You know what I’m talking about:

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We’ve all experienced this at one time or another…from a parent or teacher. Without saying a word, I looked at her and Sasquatch paused, sighed, and slowly handed the toy to Urpling…never breaking eye contact. I can almost hear the conversation:
Me: Give that toy to Urpling.
Sasquatch: Do I have to? Fine. But I’ll do it as slowly as possible just to expert a bit or control into the situation and show you how little I enjoy it.

Then everyone resumed their business. When did this happen? I’m not sure, but I like it. Sure beats screaming or yelling or turning into a giant rage-monster.

Ninjas!

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I have come to an important conclusion: my kids are ninjas. That, or their training to become ninjas. Either way, there is more and more evidence piling up that confirms this conclusion. When my kids are on a quest…or a mission…they have the skills of ninjas to accomplish it.

1. Lightening quick reflexes: I will preface this with the qualifier: when they want something. When these kids are on a mission, their speed is astounding. King Toot will pretend to give up the quest for a forbidden object and the second I relax, it is in his hands. It doesn’t matter how close I am to them, they are always faster. Of course, if the task is something I need, those skills disappear. Picking up, brushing their teeth, getting in the van….

2. Beware of the silence: They make no noise when they are on a mission. If for even a moment the house is quiet and peaceful, I know I have only moments before disaster strikes. Bathroom toilet paper unraveled, dog bowl overturned spilling water everywhere, wood from the fireplace eaten, even adding the appropriate bling to Daddy’s computer. (see exhibit A)

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Exhibit A

3. Karate Chop action: I have never been smacked so much in the face, stomach, arms, legs, and other misc body parts until I had children. I’ll be walking along, blissfully unaware and then *bam!*. a foot to the face from nowhere. A body slam while reading a book, crushing weight applied to my legs while playing with King Toot, even yesterday Urpling “hugged” me and managed to give me two fat lips…one was even bleeding.

4. Moves that defy gravity: I’m telling you, the laws of gravity do not apply to my kids. They leap from heights even Sir Smiley wouldn’t attempt and get up to try to do it again. (and no, I don’t let them do this…refer to #2 if you need more explanation) They smack each other, steam roll their brother, even King Toot did a weird somersault/flip dealy while trying to walk and laughed when he was done. Things that should cause injury of some sort are laughed off. But of course if a sibling bumps into them suddenly their wounds are mortal and they are clutched in the throes of agony. I do not exaggerate.

I’m sure there is more evidenceI haven’t thought of. But these seem adequate enough proof that my kids are training to be ninjas. I shudder to think what they’ll be capable of when they get older…

Awareness

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Way back in 1988, President Reagan proclaimed October as National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month. Now…if you can’t tell from the tone in previous posts, I’m not one for heavy thoughts. Laughter is the way I prefer to get through life and I try not to dwell in intensity for more than a few moments at a time…kinda like a buoy. I prefer to float along and not get bogged down. But if we stick with this barely adequate metaphor, I do need to something to keep me from floating away. So there are a few periods in my life I do not treat lightly. This is one of them. Why? Let me paint a picture. I was pregnant when I married Sir Smiley. Sir Smiley and I will have been married 9 years in March. My oldest….Sasquatch…is not quite 5 years old. If you do the math you will realize I wasn’t pregnant with her. I was carrying twin boys at that time. A month after we were married, while I was about 22 weeks pregnant, I went into labor. I didn’t realize it at the time. I just kept feeling super uncomfortable and thought I needed to go to the bathroom. When I did make it to a restroom at a friend’s house,an umbilical cord came out. Sir Smiley rushed me to the hospital. The whole situation was a rush of images. Screaming for Sir Smiley from the bathroom. Sir Smiley speeding down the road going at least 90 since my contractions (now that I knew that’s what they were) were only about 2 minutes apart. Our Best Man was with us and parked the car. I remember a nurse walking in skeptical and then suddenly the room filling with people as she realized what was happening. The doctor trying to find the heartbeats and only finding one. I don’t remember the delivery of our first born son. He had died already…my water broke the week before but I mistook it for an accident (with two large boys it happens). I do remember the panic on the doctor’s face as he tried to hold the second boy in. The contractions were coming harder and faster and he finally broke the sac and the contractions stopped. He then delivered our second boy. He was alive but his lungs weren’t developed. At some point after that, my parents and Sir Smiley’s parents showed up, as well as my sister and our Pastor and his wife. We all got a chance to hold this precious little boy. We prayed over him and sang together. It was the saddest and most beautiful memory I have. The hospital took pictures for us so I can remember them always. He lived for about an hour before he died. Why do I share this? Because others are going through this. There is comfort in knowing you’re not alone…that others went through this and survived. There is hope.

I am not a big fan of awareness months. Mainly because the things we should be aware of on these months are things that should be a part of life. Breast Cancer, Racism, etc. It’s like dieting vs a life style change. With one the problems come back once the diet (or month) is done. I digress…kind of. But I do think there is something helpful about having a month set aside for the loss of a child…born or unborn. Why? Because this is an issue mothers and fathers do not like to share or talk abut. So it has the appearance of being rare or isolated when really it is very common. Someone going through this needs to know they are not alone. Add this to the fact that talking about loss helps healing. It’s not an easy subject to bring up and even harder to actually get through. But not talking about it leads to a feeling of shame, that somehow if it’s hard to talk about it…it must be something shameful. Not exactly logical, but it happens. Also, when I do talk about my sons, they become part of my family. I love that.

For those of you who have recently gone through this loss, it will get easier. There will be struggles. Planning a funeral. My milk came in and brought fresh pain. Every time I donate blood, they ask how many times I’ve been pregnant. When I was pregnant with King Toot people kept warning me that since I had two girls I was less likely to have a boy…my two beautiful boys weren’t there to change those odds. You will always wonder what life would be like with them. But, as usual, I don’t like to be sad for long. I praise God for the hour I had with one and the eternity I will have with both. Tomorrow a group has asked everyone light a candle in remembrance at 7 pm. I’m not big on mushy things, but I like the symbolism in this. Here’s the sight for more info: October 15th

The very next day after i had the twins, they sang this song at church and it has been a comfort to me ever since. I still struggle to make it through the bridge without crying.
Blessed Be Your Name

I promise a less intense post tomorrow. Like I said, I can only handle so much intensity.

A piece of cupcake

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Urpling turns 3 tomorrow. I can’t get over how big she is…or how weird. (don’t judge…that’s my favorite part about her) We had her birthday party today and it was a fun round of barely controlled chaos that I thoroughly enjoyed. We ordered pizza and I made some cupcakes that are supposed to look like fish swimming in their tanks. Here’s a little backstory for you: a while ago I bought a cupcake cookbook thinking it would be fun. It turns out that I am about as close to being Betty Crocker as a lobster is to a white taffeta dress…so not much. I attempted cupcakes for a few parties and Sir Smiley would often find me sobbing into frosting, or muttering like a crazy person when the frosting was either too warm and dribbled all over or was too cool and wouldn’t let me smear it around. These experiences probably contribute to me laughing to the point of crying every time I see this picture:

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But this time around I had a brainwave. I’ll only make them for the kids. The adults can just have regularly frosted cupcakes. 8 vs 20 is a huge difference in stress and…quality. They actually turned out great. Here is my proof:

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There were supposed to be bits of seaweed made of fruit leather on the sides, but when I added the first piece and stood back it was awful. Then my grandma standing next to me said one remark: “what’s that supposed to be?” and that was enough to convince me that they looked just fine without seaweed. These goldfish were about to be eaten so they didn’t really need the oxygenating effects of seaweed anyway. Their days were numbered.

So we had a blast, the kids ran around and chased each other, and the grown ups stood around talking and telling various children, “You’re fine, walk it off” as they crashed into various objects or each other. All in all, a very good day. Happy Birthday little Urpling! May you always march to the beat of your own drum!