Category Archives: General Parenting

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I Will If You Will

Yes, bedtime again. The boys are both in their beds, lights out, humidifier, sound machine and glow buddy all on. I used to be SO great at getting those boys in bed and walking out of their room no later than 7:00pm. Not sure what has happened over the past month or two – other than Brayden being sick, and Brayden being extra particular (yep, he gets that from me…).

I finally have them both quiet – well, semi-quiet – and just about comfy-cozy. Zack is tucked into his bed and Brayden and I are rocking in his chair with a blanket and the puppy dog he got from his ER visit a couple of weeks ago. Brayden is actually just about asleep, and I’m just about to put him into his crib, tuck him in and give him one last “I love you, sweet dreams” kiss.

Whack! (Zack slams his arm down over his covers)

I whisper as sternly as possible, “Zack, shh be quiet and go to sleep.” And Brayden whispers an echo, “Zack, be quiet.” Okay – time to start the “quiet down” process again. We’re almost there, Brayden’s eyes are heavy and almost about to stay shut for the night. He’s breathing slow and deep, and his head just starts to slip off my shoulder onto puppy dog. I whisper into his soft little ear, “Okay, ready to go in your crib?”

Whack! “Mommy?”
Ugh! “What?”
“I love you.”
Now what Mother doesn’t love to hear their child say this? “I love you too now stop talking and go to sleep. Good night, sweet dreams.”
“But Mommy…”
“Stop talking!”
“I will if you will.” Oh no, he didn’t just say that did he?
“Don’t you talk back to me!” Yes, I did – I got a little peeved. “I’m only talking to tell you to be quiet and go to sleep.” Deep breath… “I love you, sweet dreams.”
“I love you too.”

Brayden, luckily, stayed pretty still and quiet so getting him into his crib was not too difficult. I figured he was tired after a long day of school and playing out in the sun, hell I would be!

Bedtime was saved. 7:20pm and I walked out of their room (and came directly to my computer so I could capture this before I forgot). It wasn’t the worst bedtime. It wasn’t the best, but it could have been better. I managed to stay calm and regain positive energy and love (that’s what it’s all about anyway, right?), and the boys are now happily tucked into bed, hopefully off to sweet dream land, all comfy-cozy. sleep baby sleep

Super Saturday

Well, it’s Saturday – did you guess right? I mean, the title is pretty obvious and self-explanatory. I can’t think of a snazzy title, so it’s going to just remain at “Super Saturday,” which in fact it IS.

Today’s been great. I got out of bed about 7:30 – WAY earlier than I usually do on any weekend day (but I heard a big thump and thought I should get up and see who fell off of what). As the boys had their breakfast in the kitchen, I snuggled with a cozy corduroy blanket on the couch, enjoying the coffee that Will so wonderfully prepared for me (I made it easy for him when I bought a Keurig last Christmas – no excuses now!). I watched a couple of cooking shows on Food Network (Barefoot Contessa and Giada – two of my favorites), and got inspired for what I’m planning on making for dinner tonight (a variation on Giada’s risotto with kale, bacon and leftover chicken).

After a nice warm shower where I actually washed my hair AND shaved my legs – I know, right? – I left the house ALONE to run some errands. Went to the post office to mail a copy of my book (was inspired to send one to the 100th person who liked my Facebook page – and after I received a book from my fellow blogging Mom friend, Kenya G. Johnson, for answering a question correctly in one of her posts… which happened to be about movies and the answer was Mater in Cars2 – and after having read her entire book last night… yes, I was again inspired), and bought a dress for a black-and-white formal banquet next weekend where my husband is getting an award for work. (So proud of you Will! All those late nights are paying off.) I’m really excited we get to be all dressed up like real adults!

I came home to a quiet house with Brayden already asleep for his nap (honestly, I was not expecting this to be the case – but I was happily wrong). Zack and Will were playing Lego’s on the floor. I made myself a yummy grilled cheese and avocado sandwich, then plopped myself on the floor with a map (the instructions) to help Zack re-build (for the bazillionth time – yes, I just made that word up) all of his cars, trucks, jeeps and other imaginative Lego vehicles.

Now, all three boys – this includes Will – are at the park and I, once again, felt inspired to write about my perfectly super (and have I mentioned, inspiring) Saturday. All I hear is the tumble of the clothes dryer and the clacking of the computer keys. The sun is shining inside the house, I’m happy to have the house to myself for a bit, and I’m happy to just BE happy.

Practicing Patience

PatiencePatience is a virtue.” Whoever said that must not have had kids – or maybe they did?

The past few months I’ve been telling myself that I am practicing patience – for many reasons (the first one being the most obvious in the plain fact that I have two young boys who don’t comprehend the idea of urgency, as in do it now – unless it is of course something they want, need or have to do, see, eat or grab).

The second reason being that it’s not the “right” time to start my business (Love & Mommy Hugs). It’s kind of crazy, because I’ve had this passion, this calling digging inside me for quite some time and to have to stuff it back in doesn’t seem fair. But I stop, take a moment and remind myself the WHY of what I’m doing.

I’m a stay-at-home Mom. I love being a stay-at-home Mom. I (hate is too strong a word) often sometimes resent being a stay-at-home Mom. There are so many things I want to do. So many people I want to help, to inspire, to heal. I want to do it NOW! (I hear that a lot, so it’s really okay if I say it too). Then reality strikes and whispers in a soft scream “patience, my dear.”

Yeah, yeah, patience. Here’s what I have to say to you, Madam Patience: I will wait my due time, but in the meantime I will prepare myself so that when the time is “right” (and when is anything ever the perfect right time? I mean, really?) I will be ready to pounce into the world with all I’ve got. I’ll be ready to speak, ready to lead, ready to share. I challenge you oh mighty Patience… okay, feeling a little over-dramatic right now but what the heck, it’s my blog. I can pretend I’m all that. *wink* *wink*

Don’t get me wrong, I am glad I’m doing what I’m doing. I’m glad I’m home every day with Zack to help him do his homework, and to be proud of how much he is learning. I’m glad I get to play Thomas and all the other fun, imaginative things that Brayden comes up with daily. I’m glad I get to capture cuteness in both my boys on a regular basis with a billion pictures of exactly the same pose. I’m glad I remember the why of becoming a stay-at-home Mom. But sometimes I just get antsy that I want to get my stuff going. I don’t want women to suffer through what I went through. I know there’s a need and I know I can be part of the solution.

Patience. Yes, I know… patience.

To top things off, today as we are driving home from school at approximately 3:08pm, stuck behind the usual line of cars pulling in and pulling out after picking up their own kids, inching forward one by one until it is our turn at the stop sign, properly stopping at a safe distance from the halted school bus down the street letting it’s one last child out and waiting responsibly until that one child reaches the open door of his house, greeted by no one other than I can assume is his Mom or Dad…. Zackery has to pee. What?! “Mom, go faster I really have to go and I can’t hold it!” To which I calmly (well, I was freaking out inside but didn’t want to let on that I was afraid he was gonna pee his pants) replied, “Just hold it 2 more minutes, be patient.” 🙂

Play-Dates Motivate

It’s the end of the first week of winter break. Zack has two weeks total off school. Will had Monday and Tuesday off work, so essentially it’s a three-day week for the boys and I. Thank goodness tomorrow is Saturday again! Thank goodness Zack has a friend over for a play-date right now. Not so much to keep him busy on his own without asking me a billion questions every two minutes (he got a total of seven new Lego sets and he plays with them non-stop; not complaining…). It’s Brayden that’s the one who has been pushing my buttons. My thinking is that the dynamic between Zack and Brayden get’s pushed to the limit when the two of them are together for such long, extended periods of time (um, yes, they are brothers, so one would think they are used to being together… but, they are brothers, so they are used to pushing the limits as well – yay for me!).

Anyway, as always, there is an endless list of things that need to get done on a regular basis (laundry, dishes, planning for dinner, etc.). I am happy to report that those duties are complete (or well underway and in progress), for today at least. The dishes are done, the dirty clothes are being agitated in the washing machine, I know exactly what I’m making the boys for dinner (I’m cheating a little bit because Zack has several left-over options and Will and I are actually going out tonight – date night – woo hoo!), and most of the toys have migrated back into the play room.

I currently have three boys in the house. I must say, more often than not, it is so much easier having three over just two! Not saying we’re going to have a third – nope, we are DONE. I guess the beauty in the play-date is that it actually motivated me to get stuff done. It’s easy for me to sit on the couch with a blanket and the remote when it’s just my boys at home, but when it’s some one else added into the mix, I feel compelled to pause the laziness and actually check a few things off my list (even if it does mean they’re back on the list in a couple days). Accomplishment.

Yes, play-dates are great. I love them. And next time, it’s at their house! 🙂

Smiles and Cuddles

It’s December 21, 2012. 12/21/12. Supposedly it’s the end of the world. I don’t believe it is. I am not judging those that believe otherwise, I just choose to believe our world has a long journey ahead, with endless peace and happiness to come. What happened last week in CT was devastating. Heartbreaking. Horrific. I can’t imagine how those families are feeling with the loss they suffered. Honestly, I don’t know much of the details as it’s been too hard for me to watch the news or read about it. I would rather fill my mind with joy, but I also don’t want to be naive.

Both my boys are in school today, so I actually have a minute to myself – to breathe and stretch and think. Today, I am choosing to stay positive and light. I am choosing to listen, but not get sucked into the conversations around me. I am choosing to focus on Christmas with family and friends.

Both my boys have their Christmas parties at school today – and I can’t wait! Brayden, bless his little heart, has had a hard time in the mornings being dropped off at preschool (even though it’s only 2 days a week), but I know he has so much fun because at home all he talks about is his new little friend and his favorite teacher. Today, however, he was actually excited to get in the car and go because of his Christmas party. It made me smile to know he wanted to go. When we got there his favorite teacher immediately greeted him and, as usual, picked him up so I could get on with my day. Is there a little Mommy guilt in there, well, of course, but I know he’s in great hands and enjoying himself throughout the day.

Zackery and I waited in the car for a bit before going in to his school, as it is CRAZY windy here today. Luckily it was indoor recess so we only almost got blown away for a few minutes while walking from the car to the front doors of school. And then, it was varying degrees of happiness, worry, fear, anger and everything in between. Again, I listened, vowing not to be naive, but I chose to keep a smile on my face and keep my strength front and center for my boy.

As his bell rang, I walked Zackery to his Kindergarten class, helped him get settled, gave him a giant hug and even a kiss (I am also blessed that I can still do this in front of all his friends!). I’m going back later in the day to help with his party, organizing a holiday craft for the class. I’m anxious. I love to volunteer in his class, but I also just want to be with him – even if just in the same room.

I am sad about the tragedy last week. I am angry about it. I feel empathy. But I also won’t let those events change the wonderous holiday that is just right around the corner. Christmas. I am happy to have the most beautiful tree we cut down as a family. I am happy to have the stockings hung and decorations all over the house. I am happy to have the scent of pine lofting through the air. I am happy to have presents under the tree. I am happy to be blessed with the best boys a Mother could ever ask for (99.9999% of the time).

When today is over and the boys are getting ready for bed, I will wrap them up with the most special smiles and cuddles a Mommy could give. That is what I am most happy about.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, keep smiling – the world needs peace and joy.

Happy Christmas Boys

Happy Christmas Boys

Bedtime Battles

Oh, another bedtime that ends in Mommy (me) apologizing for screaming and yelling – mostly directed towards Brayden these days. I hate it. I hate feeling angry when it’s supposed to be all loves and cuddles and tucks into bed. Bed-time has become Battle-time.

I try to stay calm – because I know they feed off of my energy. I try to be fun and silly to distract from whatever is happening that shouldn’t be. I try… that’s all I can do, right? I’m a good Mom, I really am. But tonight I am just TIRED of yelling at bedtime! It isn’t fair to me, it isn’t fair to Brayden, and it isn’t fair to Zackery (who unfortunately gets to hear everything that – as mentioned above – is mostly directed at Brayden).

They are both in bed now, and bless Zackery for understanding it’s not all him (partially, yes, but minimal – at least tonight’s battle), and calmly climbing into bed and going to sleep. Brayden is still squirming around in his crib. I can hear the creaking of his mattress springs. He wants to be rocked some more. But I already did that!

I know it won’t last forever – me having to rock him – but I’m getting tired of that too. The one thing that I tell myself is that he won’t want to be rocked in 5 years, 10 years, 20 years – so I better get my rocking in now. At least I was conscious enough to have us all take deep breaths (mainly so I could calm myself down) before lights went off and I sat down in that perfectly worn-in sage green rocking chair, with Brayden’s head nestled into my left shoulder, his arms tucked under his tummy. Okay, yes, this image… is making me feel better. Another deep breath…

Bedtime battles. I know I’m not the only one who has them. And I KNOW they won’t last forever. Zackery is my example of hope. Now don’t get me wrong, he’s not perfect, he still knows how to press my buttons, but compared to last year, or 5 years ago when we had to sleep on the floor next to him just for him to go to bed – yes, I have high hopes!

It’s quiet now. Just the clicking of my keyboard as I type this and the gentle humming of my outdated laptop. I think I’m going to go prop my feet up and finish off the last little bit of Chardonnay. Cheers!

Oops… spoke to soon…

Wanna Go For A Third?

Yes, I did it. I did it twice, in fact. And both times it felt really good. I was hot on fire and ready for a third time.

No, it’s not what you think. Although, that does sound like a little bit of fun… *wink wink* Wait? Are we on the same page here? Um, oops, sorry. Ha ha! My wandering mind…

So yes, I did it. It wasn’t a marathon, I didn’t clean the house from top to bottom, I didn’t make a most scrumptuous pot roast feast. I didn’t rake the leaves or lose those last ten pounds (well, maybe it’s more like 12-15 after a summer of wine and ice cream) of baby weight – and yes, my babies are still at home, so I still consider it baby weight. 🙂

What DID I do? I’ll tell you. I put soap in Brayden’s mouth. And yes, I did it twice. He did not like it one bit. It was just a tiny little bit of dish washing soap (so I know it won’t hurt him) – the clear, unscented kind (so I know he’s not going to burp yellow, lemon-scented bubbles).

It was dinner time, and for the last time he was rambling off (and enjoying it quite too much) his “bad” words. He wasn’t swearing (thankfully my husband and I have managed to refrain from any of those you know, adult languages around the boys, and in fact we have both lowered our count of verbalizing our emotions with such graphic words, although I must admit I was always more at fault than he was). Needless to say, Brayden was not understanding that he was not supposed to say the words he was saying, so after a couple weeks of threatening to put soap in his mouth to wash away the dirty words, I finally gathered my Mommy powers and did it. Right at the dinner table, right in front of Zack – who was stunned and didn’t think I was actually going to do it, let alone a second time. And I was ready for a third.

I’m not particualrly proud of this, but I will give myself a pat on the back for following through on what my husband and I both kept saying would happen. It didn’t stop him entirely, he did spout off a few more bad words again later, but it was during bath so I just yanked him out of the tub and called that that.

My husband and I both had siblings that had soap put into their mouths. I remember the incident with my sister well. It was a pure white bar of ivory soap. I was grateful it wasn’t me (even though at the time I had not much clue as to what it means to be truly grateful). So I guess a little of what happened tonight was “like Mother, like Daughter.” And a little of it was just pure, clean discipline – literally.

So beware little Brayden, don’t test me, or I will bring out my soap-wielding hands again…

love, Mommy.

Shut-Up!

I woke this morning to Brayden repeating the words “shut-up!” Over and over and over and over. He was happy about it, and I could hear both boys laughing hysterically, but it doesn’t change the fact that he shouldn’t have been saying it. I know exactly how he learned it: from Zackery. And I know exactly how Zackery learned it: from Mommy – me. Ah yes, not one of my finer moments of Mommyhood, but it happened, they heard and now they repeat. Over and over and over and over. Shut-up!

It was silly enough and they didn’t really know what they were saying, but I guess it’s a reminder that I need to (continue to) watch what I say in front of them. They are smart little boys and sometimes they out-smart me!

Lesson learned. I won’t live this one down for a while (especially when my husband asks, “where did they learn that?”)

Happy Sunday! (Wait, shut-up, it’s already Sunday?!) 🙂

Extreme Parenting

I like sports. I like kids. I love my kids. But sometimes, I find myself being extreme in how I parent and handle the situation. Most times I know better, I just lose control, and usually that ends up in me screaming at them, shoving them both into timeouts and not getting anything accomplished that I plan to. I get mad at myself every time I do it, but sometimes I just need that release (and to show them that they can’t just get away with everything). I will admit, the screaming has become less of a norm, especially since we started the “Star Jar.”

What? The Star Jar, you ask? Yes! It’s a reward system where the boys get a star when they do something nice or good that they are not already supposed to be doing. For example, if Brayden falls and Zack goes over to help him up (all on his own), Zack would earn a star. If Brayden went and got Zack’s water bottle for him, without Zack having to ask, Brayden would earn a star. If Zack brings his plate to the counter after dinner, well, that’s something he’s already supposed to be doing, so no star for that. You never take stars away, they only earn them. Once they’ve earned enough stars, they can turn them in for something special. For us, that’s like watching a movie or getting a toy back that was previously confiscated. I started it a few weeks ago (thanks to my best friend who told me about it, and after I had called her in desparation from screaming at my kids all day long). It took a while for us to get into the routine of it, and I’ll admit sometimes I am not as strict about turning in stars as I should be, but when we follow the system, it seems to have a positive effect (on all of us).

Want to know what the Star Jars look like and how we did it? (I’ll post a picture of them in the comments when I get home) I went to Michael’s and found two square, plastic jars with lids that are easy for the boys to take off and put on themselves (Brayden still needs a little help to get it back on straight – but Zack likes to help him, so that’s good reinforcement of doing something nice). I then found a pack of wooden stars, in various sizes. We decorated the jars with stickers, adding each of their names to each of their jars. Zack’s has animals all over it and Brayden’s has motorcycles and vehicles. Because we have three different size stars, each size is worth different points. Small is 1 point, medium is 3 points, and large is 5 points. I haven’t established a consistent point system for how much rewards are worth, but I probably should so that anyone can “play” the Star Jar reward system.

This morning, both boys earned a star for playing nicely and quietly together while I was trying really hard to wake myself up to get out of bed. Usually my husband gets up in the morning with the boys, but he had an early meeting so I was “on duty” starting at 6:30am, when I heard Zack get up. At 6:37am, Zack comes into my room asking me to get up. Brayden was not yet awake – still asleep in his crib, and I really wanted to stay in bed until 7:00am. I told Zack to go get a few toys and climb into bed with me. That lasted a very short while, until we both heard Brayden babbling to himself. Zack went and got a couple toys for Brayden to play with in his crib, while I pried my eyes open. It was 7:03am when I finally got out of bed, and it was a pleasant awakening – with none of the usual screaming, yelling and crying that I awake to. Needless to say, they both earned a star.

My next task is to write out a chart of rewards and the associated points. I think if they can see the chart, it might help them each want to earn more stars. I am also trying really hard not to scream at them anymore, and just be calm and direct. If I ask them to do something and they don’t listen, they get something taken away (usually it’s the toy they’re playing with that they don’t want to put down to do the thing I am asking them to do). I’ve decided I give too many warnings and too many chances, and not enough action. I mean, I’m in charge, right?

Parenting doesn’t have to be extreme, in fact, it should be balanced. There should be a balance between discipline and rewards, between boundaries and freedom, and of course full happiness. We’re working on it every day.

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