Category Archives: What Would You Do?

Parenting idea board

‘The terribles’

It comes on overnight. You put him to bed, kiss him goodnight. You pause to marvel at the angel asleep, peaceful, deep in dreams.

Then, morning comes. The day is new; and the little angel you walked away from mere hours before has turned into a risk taker, a boundary pusher, a curious little guy that is inhibited by nothing. He will test your patience with every little step he takes. (Disclaimer: I say “he” because I have boys. I am sure in this case, gender matters not.) The transformation will surprise you over and over again.

His brother’s “terrible 2s” were not like this. A friend would ask, “Is he throwing things yet?” I didn’t know what they were talking about. Not that his older brother’s tantrums weren’t challenging, just not in a duck-the-tractor-is-headed-straight-for-your-head sort of way.

In one unforgettable “Bobby Knight moment,” this little guy picked up a kid’s card table chair and chucked it down the hall.

For those of you who haven’t purchased all-over body armor yet, let me give you a heads up. Some key warning signs you’re headed into “the terribles”:

1. He senses something in your voice when you tell him, “No.” Soon, he’ll recognize this as the outset of a game of wills.

2. When he is about to throw a fit, he makes sure you’re watching. Every. Single. Time. He needs to make sure you recognize he’s upset and that he’s not going to stand for this nonsense.

3. You begin to wonder if his goal is to find every dangerous object in his path. You did buy him toys, lots of toys. They all seem useless at this point. His interest is in objects which are far from safe and educational – or red and furry, for that matter.

Ultimately, his quest is to learn, and learn he will. So will Mom and Dad — maybe even more than that sweet little boy we watched fall into a deep slumber less than 24 hours before.

From past experiences, I realize we’re now in the middle (he’s just turned 3) stage of this phase. The “terrible 2s” should more accurately be called the “terrible 2-to-nearly-4s.” Knowing this, I’m still amazed by how quickly my sweet, smiley (I say smiley because everyone says that boy’s smile melts their hearts.) child can turn into a tornado with a path of destruction a whole house wide.

When that tornado is your normally adorable son, survival becomes more about thinking on your feet than running for cover. The first step in that thought process is realizing that he’s doing what kids his age do, and until he learns — from you or any other responsible adult — what is and is not acceptable behavior, this will be the norm. Unfortunately, it takes time. Lots and lots of time. But, despite what Mom or Dad might feel while living it, this phase will pass.

I’ve learned not to fight it, just to get through it. I do this by not making him older than he is or expecting more from him than he can mentally digest. I struggle with myself to find the patience he needs in my words, expressions and actions. (This is extremely difficult and I fail ALL THE TIME.) But I’ve got to remind myself, I have been given the privilege — who else would you want in your place? — to teach my little guy about the world around him. It’s frustrating — that world — for Mom and for him. But we’ll get through it, and we’ll both learn some important life lessons in perseverance, humility and self control as we do.

In the meantime, does anyone know where I can get a helmet and a shield?

Hold on mamas and daddys, it’s spring

When you’re in the trenches, it feels like time stands still, or at the very least, slows to a turtle’s pace. And there aren’t many trenches deeper than when your kids are sick.

My phone buzzes and it’s the school. I know what that means. He’s sick. Before I even pick it up, I’m packing my bags and shutting down my computer at work. It’s instinct. Yet, it’s not something you ever really get used to. But you know you have no choice. And you’re really not sure it matters. You can picture a sick little boy sitting at school waiting, and you know he only wants his mom.

You also know it’s just the beginning. It could be days before he’s feeling like himself again. In the meantime, at the faintest murmur of ‘Mommy’ from his lips, you will run to his side with a wash cloth for his forehead, bringing him Sprite and crakers when he’s ready and lying in his youth-sized bed in the middle of the night when his temperature is high. And if you’re lucky, you won’t get spitup on your clothes, or in your hair. I’ll spare you the details, but at once very unlikely and unlucky moment, I had multiple forms of bodily fluid in my hair. At 3 a.m.

We begin another day, both of us tired from the night before. As he lies on the couch, shivering, blanket pulled up to his little chin, you wonder if there’s something you’re forgetting. The list forms in your head: tylenol, thermometer, fluids, favorite stuffed animal. Watching your baby suffer seems to add to the exhaustion and the already overblown commentary in your head. Rest. That’s all he needs now, Mom. That, and you close by.

To feel some sense of control, you grab the Clorox wipes, the bleach, the pillow cases, the sheets and you scour the house. You remind yourself that this may be all for naught. There will be a tiny spot on a counter somewhere and your 3-year-old will find a way to put his mouth right on that spot. But in your desperation, you convince yourself the 1 percent chance he won’t go there is worth it.

Now this may work. I’m still holding on for you 1 percent of lucky moms out there.

But within two days’ time, No. 2 has succombed to the sickness. And now, I’m home from work again.

Where does this stuff come from in the first place? Did they get it from me? Did he pick it up at school? At day care? On a shopping cart? Not that any of that matters. There’s no way to completely prevent it. Admitting it’s a matter of luck gives no real comfort at all.

I tell myself there will be an end. And that day would seem a lot closer if I hadn’t been sick myself the week before, if I wasn’t worried about their dad catching it, too.

My advice? Just hold on a little bit longer mamas and daddys, spring is now here. And although I know people get sick in warm months as well as cold, the chances of staying well seem a little better than 1 percent.

And I’m willing to take that bet.

Searching for the true meaning of Thanksgiving

I’ve been thinking a lot about temptation lately. It was one of the first weaknesses depicted in the Bible. There in the Garden of Eden, Eve partakes of the fruit. And the fate of humankind is decided.

We all have our “fruit” — something pulling us to an activity in which we shouldn’t participate or a food in which we shouldn’t indulge. We all lose the battle every once in a while. On the weekend of Thanksgiving, for many, the fruit seems to be the best deal on a flat-screen TV or one of the few coveted toys a store has in stock. Retailers tempt us with low prices and doorbusters. Commercials tempt us with pictures of shiny gadgets and flattering outfits.

Charlie Brown would be aghast if he were to witness what we call Black Friday. In “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” he is dismayed by the over-commercialization of the holiday and is left wondering what Christmas is all about. Thanks to Linus, he — along with viewers — is reminded of the true meaning of Christmas.

What about searching for the true meaning of Thanksgiving? Seems ridiculous, right? But maybe it isn’t anymore. As an increasing number of retailers announce they are opening on Thanksgiving Day, perhaps we should pause to consider what the holiday is all about.

Surveys show shoppers are ready to hit the floor running as soon as stores open their doors, even if it means rushing through a Thanksgiving meal. The source of the food and the tradition behind the feast are afterthoughts.

In a recent Associated Press story, a young woman explains why she won’t be hosting a Thanksgiving meal for her relatives again. “They barely finished,” said Kimberly Mudge Via of Boone, N.C. “They thanked me and left their plates on the counter.”

In that same AP report, retailers were asked the reasoning behind their decision to open ahead of Black Friday. Their answer: to give shoppers what they want. The AP spoke with officials from chains like Best Buy and J.C. Penney, both of which said customer feedback drove their decisions.

Hidden under that explanation, though, is the full truth: Consumers will yield to temptation and the stores will profit. On a day when we should be concentrating on gratitude, making lists — mental or otherwise — of those things of which we are thankful, our focus is shifted to getting the best deal, no matter what it takes. Standing in line at 2 in the morning? You betcha. Trampling over pregnant women? It’s happened.

What if this time we replace “want” with “thanks”? That fruit might be making our mouths water, but no one is forcing us to take a bite. I urge you to ask yourself what’s best. Is that deal really worth losing a few moments with a loved one, or even a few moments of rest?

My hope is that we resist the temptation to go into stores on Thursday and instead search for the true meaning of Thanksgiving. You may find it playing a game with your kids; catching up on what’s been going on in the lives of the people you love; making a phone call; knocking on a neighbor’s door; visiting your grandmother in the nursing home; or by counting your blessings, literally.

Share with another person the reasons you are thankful on this day. It may be the smell of cinnamon and pumpkin pie wafting through the rooms of your home; the turkey in the oven; watching the parade with your kids in your pajamas or football with the boys after lunch; family visits; your health or a day off work.

It is just one day, after all. The Christmas season will be in full swing soon; the stores will still be there with their deals. At least for now, let’s think about Thanksgiving, what it means to us, and where we would be without it.

Charlie Brown would approve.

Celebrating the Simple

Most of the time situations don’t go as planned. But that morning, all the pieces fell together.

Navigating life with two kids has been quite the challenge so far for Matthew and me. We learned long ago (precisely 4 years and 5 months ago) that plans almost never work exactly as you see them in your head. And that no matter how well prepared you think you might be, no matter how hard you try, you’re going to run into some type of roadblock, whether major or minor, and you have to adjust.

A lot of the time we are so tired we can’t think quickly or clearly, therefore exasperating the problem at hand. It’s unlikely we are on the same wavelength; we play tug-of-war with our separate solutions until the rope breaks and we fall hopelessly into an argument.

But this morning was different. This morning we were thinking similarly – and clearly – and we jumped over the hurdle quickly.

We were almost ready to head out the door when we got the message (which was entirely my fault because I hadn’t looked at my phone until then). The day care was without power because of an overnight storm, and we wouldn’t be able to take Hayden until power was restored.

Making a quick decision to split up the kids — Matthew taking Nathaniel to preschool and I taking Hayden to work with me — we only paused a moment before we were in route again. I decided quickly that I might as well try taking the baby with me. At times my job is too busy and it wouldn’t be worth it. But getting even a small amount of work done – I decided on this day – would be better than sitting at home and accomplishing nothing. Plus, there’s that added bonus of when you bring a baby into an office, people want to snatch him up and love on him, relieving you for a moment or several.

So a quick switch of the bags from the car to the truck and an explanation to Nathaniel (he was just excited Daddy got to take him that day), we were out the door.

I don’t mean to brag; I just like to celebrate the small things. I NEED to celebrate the small things. In most similar situations, compounding factors make a smooth transition of change impossible.

On a regular day, making it out the door without Hayden needing to eat, needing changed or getting sick at the last minute; without an argument with Nathaniel of what to wear or about whether he is planning on actually eating the breakfast we spent our precious time preparing for him, is nearly impossible.

So patting ourselves on the back for this seemingly small accomplishment on this rare day helps us make it through all the other chaotic ones.

***

Speaking of getting out the door … what tricks do you use to get your kids moving (in the mornings or at other times)?

At our house, we sometimes play games:
Surprise Daddy by getting dressed before he gets out of the shower.
See who can brush their teeth the fastest and get them the whitest.

Or we bargain:
I’ll race you if you go brush your teeth with me right now.
Eat your breakfast so you can help me pack the car, watch some TV, etc.

In all these instances we make a HUGE deal out of cooperation and accomplishment. We feel like praise goes a lot further than the alternative.

What do you think?

What to Expect

Priorities change. And quickly, once you become a parent. Raising a child in a loving, nurturing (add your own adjectives here) environment becomes your focus. Watching my family grow together through experiences is one of my main sources of joy.

Writing about our experiences as a family not only allows me to record daily happenings that bring laughter to our home, but to share accomplishments and even failures with other mothers and parents in hopes that I will receive feedback and encouragement.

Finding others who experience the same struggles, who share the same goals, has proven difficult for me. It’s become apparent that seeking this type of interaction would not only benefit my spirit, but it would help my family grow.

And so, I begin.

Taking on the task of producing a useful blog may not seem like the best move for an already stressed, working mother who recently gave birth to a second son. But I’ve never shied away from a venture that I believe will be worthwhile for not only my own family, but for others who are searching for the same things I am.

My husband and I would love to make more time for experiences that will grow us closer and enhance our lives. In order to do this we need ideas for spending quality time together and parenting and other resources to ease the stress of daily life with a baby, a preschooler.
I’m already journaling about becoming a mom for the second time and the exploits of my now 4 year old, so I thought why not jump in, share my stories and see if I can build a community that can grow through shared stories, experiences and resources.

I welcome comments and additions to my suggestions. And, through my stories, I hope others are encouraged to share their own.

And now, for explaining my creative side

Yes, my primary focus will be to share stories of my own family’s experiences and finding others who share our goals and struggles. BUT, I’d also like to share my creative side. I am a designer. I love to create. Before moving on, I must confess that my creations will eventually be incorporated into this site.

To explain, I have never been satisfied with options in stores celebrating milestones (birthdays, babies, weddings, engagements, you name it). So to satisfy my need for personalized announcements, I began creating birthday cards and invitations for my own celebrations. In my free time I began designing for extended family and friends.

For those of you who have no interest in this, I encourage you to move past such posts. It won’t hurt my feelings and I hope it won’t get in the way of what you might come to expect from this blog.

But I do hope my designs can become extensions of other discussions and shared resources on children’s birthday party ideas and holiday celebrations. We are huge celebrators in our family! Anything to build excitement and moments of togetherness is encouraged. As with everything, input and inquiries will be welcomed.

Now that my obligatory first post is complete, up next will be introduction of my family.