Thursday, March 29, 2012

Short-fuse parenting...


I know this is shocking to most (sarcasm), I often find myself at the very end of a seemingly short fuse when dealing with day-to-day demands/stress of running a house and raising children. The bowl of cereal gets knocked over, the playroom destroyed, another potty accident, laundry that never ceases, a smashed finger, a piece of furniture scratched, fighting and more fighting. I know I'm not alone.

And although I fully realize that they didn't mean to spill the cereal but their elbow was clumsy and they tried to get to the bathroom on time but didn't and they didn't realize someone was right behind them when they slammed the door and caught their finger, it always adds up and the fuse gets shorter. I hate that I'm short with my children, especially between 4-6pm. I hate that I'm annoyed when clearly it was an accident. I'm working on it. However, I've been working on it for a while, yet I still find it a challenge every single day.

I came across this list, from Zenhabits "The Way of the Peaceful Parent" by Lou Babauta and it really resonated with me. For the last week, I've taken 3 or 4 of these ideas and implemented them through out my day. I even caught myself a couple times as I started to get snappy and I remembered the habit I was working on. I thought the list was worth sharing.

Greet your child each morning with a smile, a hug, a loving Good Morning! This is how we would all like to be greeted each day.

Teach your child to make her own breakfast. This starts for most children at around the age of 3 or 4. Teach them progressively to brush their teeth, bathe themselves, clean up their rooms, put away clothes, wash their dishes, make lunch, wash their own clothes, sweep and clean, etc.

Teaching these skills takes patience. Kids suck at them at first, so you have to show them about a hundred times, but let them try it, correct them, and let them make mistakes. They will gradually learn independence as you will gradually have less work to do caring for them.

Know that when you screw up as a parent, everything will be fine. Forgive yourself. Apologize. Learn from that screw up. In other words, model the behavior you’d like your child to learn whenever he screws up.

Older children can help younger children — it’s good for them to learn responsibility, it helps the younger children learn from the older ones, and it takes some of the stress off you.

Read to them often. It’s a wonderful way to bond, to educate, to explore imaginary worlds.

Build forts with them. Play hide and seek. Shoot each other with Nerf dart guns. Have tea together. Squeeze lemons and make lemonade. Play, often, as play is the essence of childhood. Don’t try to force them to stop playing.

When your child asks for your attention, grant it.

Parents need alone time, though. Set certain traditions so that you’ll have time to work on your own, or have mommy and daddy time in the evening, when your child can do things on her own.

When your child is upset, put yourself in his shoes. Don’t just judge the behavior (yes, crying and screaming isn’t ideal), but the needs behind the behavior. Does he need a hug, or attention, or maybe he’s just tired?

Model the behavior you want your child to learn. Don’t yell at the child because he was screaming. Don’t get angry at a child for losing his temper. Don’t get mad at a kid who wants to play video games all the time if you’re always on your laptop. Be calm, smile, be kind, go outdoors and be active.

When a stressful time arises (and it will), learn to deal with it with a smile. Make a joke, turn it into a game, laugh … you’ll teach your child not to take things so seriously, and that life is to be enjoyed. Breathe, walk away if you’ve lost your temper, and come back when you can smile.

Remember that your child is a gift. She won’t be a child for long, and so your time with her is fleeting. Every moment you can spend with her is a miracle, and you should savor it. Enjoy it to the fullest, and be grateful for that moment.

Let your child share your interests. Bake cookies together. Sew together. Exercise together. Read together. Work on a website together. Write a blog together.

Patiently teach your child the boundaries of behavior. There should be boundaries — what’s acceptable and what’s not. It’s not OK to do things that might harm yourself or others. We should treat each other with kindness and respect. Those aren’t things the child learns immediately, so have patience, but set the boundaries. Within those boundaries, allow lots of freedom.

Give your child some space. Parents too often overschedule their child’s life, with classes and sports and play dates and music and clubs and the like, but it’s a constant source of stress for both child and parent to keep this schedule going. Let the child go outside and play. Free time is necessary. You don’t always have to be by her side either — she needs alone time just as much as you do. Exercise to cope with stress. A run in solitude is a lovely thing. Get a massage now and then.

It helps tremendously to be a parenting team — one parent can take over when the other gets stressed. When one parent starts to lose his temper, the other should be a calming force.

Mom and dad need a date night every week or so. Get a babysitter, or better yet, teach the older kids to babysit.

Sing and dance together.

Take every opportunity to teach kindness and love. It’s the best lesson. Kiss your child goodnight. And give thanks for another amazing day with your beautiful, unique, crazy child.

Parenting is not easy. I often think to myself, "Am I potentially screwing up my child long term by doing this? Are they going to send me the therapy bills??" The only thing that gives me peace is I'm trying my hardest. I counsel with God on a daily basis and I'm doing the best I know how and I'm always trying to work on my shortcomings. I hope my children realize that.

The best take-away from the list that Lou shares: To start and end the day by sharing your love with your children.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Family Reunion...

For Steve's dad 70th birthday (mentioned here when talking about his gift), all his siblings and spouses came into town without children. Those that lived locally found babysitters for the weekend, or used older siblings. We had a great time. We started out with a cubs spring training game. It was a little warm and caused several sunburns. Steve's sister organized a catered dinner at her house that evening. (sadly no pictures) It was beautifully decorated and the food was fantastic. The best part was the conversations that we had. The environment allowed for more thoughtful conversations than we experienced earlier in the day and the weather was perfect. Steve's dad also took some time to share some of his life history with all of his children gathered around him. Saturday morning was the Pothier Invitational Tennis Tournament. Amazingly enough - most everyone in the family plays tennis, spouses included. We played a round robin style tournament and for two hours and we Steve and I enjoyed every minute. Part of it is not having children to chase after while playing, but there are some competitive spirits in the family (in fact the family is full of them) which always makes for a good time. We followed up with lunch and some pool time at Steve's brother's house. I didn't grow up in Arizona and I didn't spend my summers swimming in a pool so I'm not fully comfortable with all the "pool games" that take place. But all of Steve's brothers and sisters were right there in the middle of all the action. Watching them was entertaining as they all reverted to a childhood version of themselves. They were giggling and splashing water on each other and pushing one another in. Pool time was followed by more conversation and lawn games and a quick run for frozen yogurt. The formal birthday party (grandchildren included) took place Saturday night where we mingled with friends and family and presented the birthday gift. By this point in the weekend we were exhausted. We had played hard for two days and we were ready to crash.

And although we were wasted, that didn't stop us from gathering yet again for breakfast crepes to celebrate my niece's birthday the next morning. Best part of the morning - Steve's brothers initiating a wallet intervention for him. (his wallet wasn't a George Costanza, but it was a little thick.) We got a kick out of all the commentary that he got for every card that he pulled out of his wallet. He braved a storm, and he made it. He successfully reduced the size of his wallet and created some fantastic entertainment! This guy was happy to have us back after being with the babysitter for two days. We sat on the couch Sunday night in awe of the amazing weekend we had. Family means so much to us and to share a weekend together is valuable time in our book. We had the chance to spend a little extra time with Steve's brother and sister-in-law from Wisconsin. Our relationship was defined so distinctly while living by them and it gets better with each visit. We have such different relationships with every sibling and they're all fantastic in their own way. We had a very rewarding couple of days, I'm glad Steve's dad had a birthday!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

48 weeks...

11 months old: Fortunately the three teeth he's been working on are well on their way.

He is more of a mama's boy than ever before and cries every time I leave the room. I find myself crawling around, even behind couches so he can't see me.

Giving him the leftover St. Patricks day milk at church was not a good idea, especially since he was wearing white!

I find myself feeding him constantly from 4-6pm. I don't have it in me at that time a day to tolerate much crying!

Scoots backwards and only backwards.

Loves to be outside. I can take him outside and put him on a blanket in the grass and do yard work around him all afternoon long.

He has to sleep with a sound machine.

He smiles a lot. He giggles a lot!

Our weekly photo shoots are getting much shorter as he doesn't stay on his back for very long before rolling over.

Loves to clap and loves to motor boat with his mouth.

Cries nearly every time Hunter "plays" with him.

Takes two naps a day. They're short but I'll take what I can get.

Eats nearly all table foods. Struggles a bit with meat but he'll gum it for quite a while!

He's just so big/old - where does time go?

Monday, March 26, 2012

Another trip to Urgent Care...

Dinner is over. Kids are a little tired, fighting just a bit. We tell them to get their pajamas on so we can have family home evening. They both run around the corner. We hear fighting and screams. Hunter comes running back with his hand in his mouth crying and just about gagging himself (he does this every time he cries hard). Hallie follows and admits to pushing him into the chair. We console the gagging boy. When he removes his hand, blood starts rushing out. Fantastic.

It seems to take forever to locate where all the blood is coming from while trying to calm the poor hysterical child. A bruise quickly forms on his cheek and then we see the gash. At first we convince ourselves he's just fine. Then after he completely calms down and we evaluate some more we realize its just bad enough we should probably have him looked at. Off to Urgent Care we went.

We've done this before. Same kid. Same lip. Different cause. We learned after the first time that your average urgent care may or may not do stitches on a child, most don't have the resources to do it. Last time, after making us pay the $50 they informed us they couldn't help and sent us on our way. (of course refusing to refund us our money because a doctor in fact looked at him) This time we went straight to the children's hospital urgent care. The wait was non-existant and within 10 minutes we were in the back room prepping for stitches. He was doing so well. Was. Then the numbing agent was applied with a needle and the hysteria started to set in. The doctor was doing his best on a kid that wouldn't hold still but he was having a hard time getting the needle in the right place. Just seconds after he was finished with that he pulled out the equipment for stitches. Hunter was not having any of it. There was a nurse holding his head. Steve was holding his shoulders, I held both his arms/hands and another nurse sat on his legs. Seriously. And it was a chore. My heart ached. I sat with my head down on the bed holding his hands so I didn't have to see what was going on. The nurse thought I was going to pass out, but I just couldn't stand to see him struggle. The doctor made quick (although it seemed like forever) work and as soon as he was done, the crying stopped. We were all worn out. I can't stand to see my kids in pain and I could see it in his eyes, he hurt.

We were making all sorts of promises to him during the procedure and he was not going to let us forget any of them. He picked out his sticker. He chose a cool toy from the treasure box. And then we topped off the night with a late night treat of frozen yogurt. (with the only topping he could chew...sprinkles!) I have a feeling that cheek is only going to be bigger when he wakes up in the morning!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Collection of memories...

We celebrated this guys 70th birthday this weekend: It was a three day party that will officially take me the rest of the week to recover from.

In preparation for this special celebration we collected letters and photos from family and close friends which I then designed into a 260 page book. It. Is. Fantastic. I can only hope that when I reach that age that I have touched just a fraction of the people he has.

The details: And although a very time consuming project, I love it. I have this passion for collecting and preserving memories and projects like this combine that with my love for design. Happy Birthday Bob!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Remember...

I've been loving all the pallet projects that I see everyone doing lately. Of course, once I decide I want to try my hand at it, there's no pallets to be found. I searched for months without much luck. I found a couple on craigslist but they were being sold for much more than their worth. But I liked the idea of some pallet art above our piano.

After a trip to the depot I came home with varying widths of fence boards. You know the ones that are notched on the top - anyway it's not very nice wood. It's rough, it has knots, it has dents and dings. It was perfect.

Using Mr. Kreg Jig I attached all the boards together and stained the whole thing with a new minwax stain, "weathered gray". Loved it. It was just the look I was going for. I though about sanding it some after the stain was applied but I couldn't bring myself to do it.

I printed on a piece of paper my word of choice, "remember". (based on my parents telling me every time I left the house to "remember who you are". There's many more reasons for that being my special word but that's a whole other topic!)

I traced with a hard edge along the print out which left a slightly indented board which allowed me to paint within the lines. And there you have it. Instant art. Basically fool-proof...that is unless you misspell your word - which after looking at a word for long enough, it always looks like it's wrong! I'm looking for the perfect moss wreath to hang on it for a nice spring time decoration but they are harder to find than I imagined. I was hoping to not have to make it!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Time consuming projects...

I love myself a good project. Big or small I love the idea of working on something and completing it.

However, as much as I love a good project there are some projects that I despise. Some include projects that take hours of your time and yet it's hard to see a significant improvement in the final product. Like when we had to reinstall insulation in the attic. It took time and money and at the end of the day, we close the door and will never look at our work again. I like to marvel at my work!

So when the inspector mentioned we might have our hands full with the sprinkler system, I wasn't looking forward to the project. Sure, it would be nice to have a functioning system but all the hard work isn't very noticeable. We spent four Saturdays working on the silly system. Whoever installed it did an awful job - seriously atrocious. All the heads sat above the ground, one as high as 5 inches out of the ground. It defeats the purpose of a watering system when your lawnmower runs into it. (might as well save the trouble and use a $3 sprinkler.)

Steve dug out all 15 heads. This was not a quick project. After digging out around the heads we were able to see what we were working with. We opted to lower all the heads using an attachment called a swing joint. This allowed us set the head at any height we desired. If that was our only problem, this project would've been a two Saturday job. But of course once we got it dug out, we found broken pipes and pieces and we started wondering what in the world we just got ourselves into! With two more Saturdays we were able to secure all the new heads and position them for proper watering and fill in all the holes. It was a glorious day to see those piles of dirt removed from the lawn.

I made countless trips to Ace and Home Depot. The third time in two days that I went to Ace, the guy at the counter asked if I wanted to sign up for their loyalty program. I kindly declined and stated that I rarely shopped there. The next day, I had to go back and I saw the same guy. He asked again about signing up for the loyalty program. I kindly declined. He stated, "I know you don't shop here very often but I've seen you here everyday." That sealed the deal - I would have to start driving the additional two miles to Home Depot where they wouldn't recognize me coming back for yet another piece that I forgot or misplaced!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

47 weeks...

We only have five more weeks of Tuesday photoshoots - we're coming up on a year! I'm running out of unique blankets/fabric/rugs!!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Random facts...interesting or not...

Moving into a new home, means we're attending church with a new group of people and making new friends in the neighborhood. There is nothing like having to make new friends that makes you realize all of your oddities. You know the oddities that your old friends grew to love and kindly overlooked or even enjoyed? We all have our quarks, right? As I've been evaluating myself the last little while I've noticed some interesting things/quarks. I share:

I am a habit eater. For example: I eat the same thing for breakfast every weekday - raisin bran crunch. There could be 5 different boxes of cereal, yet I eat the same thing. Likewise, my lunch always includes a banana and a yogurt. My main course shifts depending on the leftovers in the fridge, but a banana and yogurt are always on the menu. I eat these things day in and day out for several years and I never tire of them.

I am a pandora junky. I listen to different stations depending on the day or my mood. But if I was forced to listen to one station for the rest of my life, it would have to be Joshua Radin.

I'm allergic to color. Okay, not really. But if you looked in my closet you might think so. The majority of the things I wear are black and gray. Boring, I know. Sometimes, very rarely, I'll throw in a fun scarf. Although boring, a black/gray wardrobe means I have to own less shoes and less purses, a few black flats and a black purse. Even writing this I realize how lame that is!

I've been married going on 9 years and I'm only on my 3rd cell phone. I have averaged three years per phone without breaking a single one, or dropping one in water.

We purchased our third car, had our third child, and purchased our third home all in the same year.

Although I love to read, I rarely make time for it unless on vacation. I have had a book on my nightstand that I'm dying to read and I haven't opened a page for 2 months.

I can recall my dreams on a daily basis and they are as real as can be. All elements of my dreams are based in reality - there's no flying monkeys! I will wake up and continue to live in my dreams in the middle of the night. For example: I've had a dream where I was making onion rings and I was using a mandolin to cut all the onions. I woke up and started to search around the bed looking for the mandolin I had misplaced. I went as far to lean all the way off the end of the bed, running my hand along the floor trying to locate it. Steve of course wakes up and jolts me from my dream. But it is such a reality to me that when he questions me, I get defensive. I know exactly what I'm doing. I just need the mandolin. I'm not dreaming, seriously I'm awake, I just need to find it. Steve rolls over and goes back to bed. I get frustrated that he thinks I'm sleeping. I roll over and go back to bed and in the morning I can recall the whole thing. I know exactly what took place in my dream to make me search all over. I remember the whole conversation Steve and I shared. It's a little weird. What's even more weird is it happens often. Sometimes multiple times during the week. It's been our room has flooded and I need to grab towels. It's been someone breaking into our house. It's been family members who don't live with us coming into our room in the middle of the night. It's been smashing spiders on the wall that never existed. The list could go on and on. I have crazy detailed dreams.

I'm a fruity candy lover all the way. I would choose skittles over chocolate any day of the week. My husband is the opposite. However the older I get, the more I lean towards chocolate because it doesn't stick to my sensitive teeth! I now understand what my mother was talking about when I would offer her candy as a child and she would refuse because they hurt her teeth. I hate that I'm at that stage!

Speaking of teeth- I've had my fair share of teeth issues in the past - far too much to recount, but I can say I floss and rinse with mouthwash every single night, never failing. I hope my dentist reads this!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The end of Spring Break...

As of this evening spring break is officially over!

Leading up to the break everyone kept asking Hallie or myself what we were doing for our little vacation. I explained that with just one kid in school, essentially every week could be spring break if we wished so we were just going to hang out.

Hallie doesn't fully grasp that spring break is meant for crazy fun vacations, so until she catches on to that we're off the hook.

Instead, I had her make a list of things she wanted to do and we would try to do one each day. I didn't give her any limits or coach her - her list included:
Play with a friend
Make cookies and take them to someone
Make granola
Eat lunch at the park
Paint fingernails
Make a tent in the house
Finish reading assignment for a free frozen yogurt.

Clearly we would be wasting our money with a trip to Disneyland at this age when she's happy making a tent in the house. Childhood is magical isn't it. It is simple and wonderful.

The first morning I even let her spend time on the iPad - She was in heaven.

I'm sad that my little helper/Bennett entertainer is going back to school. She's over the moon talking about all the friends she's going to see on the playground.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Enjoy the little things...

This will be going up on my wall soon:

In hopes of reminding me that these days are numbered:

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Fresh Squeezed...

There are few smells more delightful than that of an orange blossom. I remember my husband and his family raving about the orange blossoms in March and how wonderful they were, yet I couldn't understand their excitement of it all...until I moved here. Let me tell you, the blossoms are as wonderful as everyone described. (unless you're prone to allergies and then they wouldn't be nearly as delightful!) We have 12 orange trees in our yard and the smell starts to seep in through the doors and windows. It's fantastic and we'll enjoy every minute of it for almost two weeks. The kids don't fully appreciate the blossoms, but they appreciate the oranges. Yesterday they spent the majority of the morning and early afternoon outside picking oranges and making juice. It's quite the process for such small hands!

They used the slide as a ladder moving it around to all the lowest hanging branches. After picking the oranges, they would peel them. (It would've been much easier to cut them but that would require a knife and adult supervision. This was a kids only activity.) And then the squeezing began. They squeezed for hours for a good size cup of juice for each of them. The one time I went to check on them, Hallie was hard at work with a nearly full cup of juice. As she squeezed her hands as hard as she could I could see the juice running down - flavored with the dirt from her hands. I was sad for her as a good cup of juice was ruined. I helped her wash her hands and suggest she start with a fresh cup but she refused to let go of the cup she had already filled. She drank it, dirt and all!

Being the wonderful wife that I am, I warned my germaphobe husband of the dirt infested orange juice popsicle his daughter had saved for him in the freezer. We convinced her that it would be a special treat if she ate it. She jumped at the chance and Steve was able to dodge a dirty bullet!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

46 weeks...

He's cutting a new top tooth and he makes sure we know about it!

Peas are a new favorite.

I keep trying to give him more tummy time in hopes of him crawling but he just cries!

Loves playing in the playroom with his brother and sister.

Absolutely cannot fall asleep without his special blanket - The Aden and Anais blanket. Fortunately it doesn't matter which one, he just likes the fabric.

His hair is finally noticeable!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Funny Comment...

While preparing dinner, I hear from the living room Hallie scream, "Hunter is trying to cut my foot off."

Hallie can be overly dramatic so I tell her, "Stop being dramatic, he's not going to cut your foot off."

In a panic, Hallie yells back, "Yes he will, he's using the pizza cutter." (Let it be known that this is not a metal blade cutter - but it still cuts pizza!)

"You're right, he is trying to cut your foot off."

With the thought of losing her right foot, she continues to scream.

I summoned Hunter to the kitchen. Sure enough, the guilty party walked in with the weapon. He was in timeout for a while...

Sidenote: He was in timeout the other day for something or other. He screams at me from the timeout chair, "When I get out I'm going to punch you in the face." Clearly the concept of timeout has been lost. He was in the chair just a little bit longer that day!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Hallie's video debut...

I'm sure my kids are like every other little kid - they love to steal the ipad and make videos. They've been doing this since we got it over a year ago. Not only do they love making them, they love watching them even more! There have been multiple times I walked into a room thinking the kids were screaming only to find them watching a video they had made a while back. At first, I thought the videos were so funny - it was new and exciting. And then they went a little lame as they gave video tours of random things. The other night I was noticing just how many videos they had made over the last year and I realized I hadn't watch any of them in a long time. So I sat down for 45 minutes watching. I have to say, they are improving in their video making abilities. Hallie had me laughing out loud on several of hers. Then I came across this one...This was the morning after our food poisoning episode and I think they made 6 videos.

They. Are. So. Random. Hallie was feeling extra chipper and was full of personality and sass. This clip was trimmed down from it's original because it was pretty long - but she was a riot. Where do kids come up with these things?? There are so many things that crack me up - Hallie calling Hunter out for not saying the word right and the evil laugh she has and the fact that she knows how many kids are in our future, oh yea and she's a mormon (clearly she's seen a few of the I'm a mormon videos!)...Take a look:
video

Thursday, March 8, 2012

DIY Shelf/Ledge...

It always seems as though I need a shelf/ledge in all the places where the traditional 2ft, 3ft or 4ft ledge just wouldn't work. So I relied on my favorite furniture building site www.ana-white.com and sure enough I found more than enough plans to meet my needs. I needed a certain length shelf and it needed to be deep enough to hold some vases. My scrap pile had just what I needed for the "$10 ledge" which ended up costing me nothing. Two pieces were mdf and the other was pine, but I was spray painting it so it didn't matter. I used my handy dandy Kreg Jig and drilled holes in the back piece (to connect to the bottom) and the bottom piece (to connect to the front). I ended up with this ledge. I used spray paint to finish off the whole thing, and used a couple screws to screw it into the wall. It's the exact length I needed. The exact depth I needed. And the color I needed. I'm now envisioning two really long ledges in the office. 8 feet. Maybe 10 feet. Decisions, decisions...

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Fancy lessons...

The day Hallie went back to school after our food poisoning incident she came home with pink eye, no joke. I was one paranoid mother. Don't touch that. Go wash your hands. Stay in the bedroom. I was not about to watch pink eye pass from child to child. So she was exiled to my bedroom with the ipad and some books. After just an hour she was crying because she was bored and she just wanted to play. So once Hunter and Bennett went down for a nap, although it was quiet time she was allowed to come out. I went to work on the computer as I usually do during nap time and found this note on the fridge when I came out for a drink. I immediately marched up to Hallie's room for some lessons on being fancy. It was the cutest class. She had made some handouts and displayed different examples of fancy and non-fancy items. She taught me how to incorporate fanciness into our everyday living. Which we then applied to dinner time.

Hallie explained that it is fancy to have placemats and name cards. So she went to work creating fanciness. Once dinner had been cooked and distributed to everyone's plates she then inserted toothpicks with flowers on them. It was by far the fanciest dinner we've had in a while.

I loved her creativity throughout the day, she really took it seriously. And I was a little happy that pink eye had forced her to stay home and bond with me.

The next day her eye was completely clear...however it had moved to her other eye. Pink eye round 2: Little fanciness. But we did go on a pretty fun bike ride!
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