Happy 2016

2015 is in the history books, roaring it’s way out of the Doser household, quite more vehemently than that of a lion.   It’s the dawn of a new day, a new year, and a whole new world of possibilities.

I’m like everyone else, well most everyone else, in that I do create some sort of resolution.   And why not?   It’s a new year, time for a fresh new start, and perhaps the opportunity to not just become a better person, but also to live my life as a better person.   I tried to be a bit more realistic this year.   I’m not setting some lofty weight loss goal or quitting some vice (I don’t really have any unless you consider eating peanut butter straight out of the jar a vice).  No, instead I’m taking the opportunity to use the new year as a sort of strategizing session.

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve sat back and pondered what was wrong with my life.   Why did it seem that I was constantly spinning my wheels daily and not feeling any sense of accomplishment.   I have a self worth, after all, and in order to feed that dreaded devil, I have to feel as if I’ve been productive.   The Christmas holidays nearly wiped me out, but I continued to trudge forward, and in doing so I decided that once and for all I needed to treat my stay at home lifestyle as a “job”, a career per se.

When I worked in the corporate world, I maintained a daily list of items that needed to be accomplished in order for me to move on to the next day with a clean slate.   Lately, I’ve felt as if I haven’t had any sort of clean slate with my life and that not only have I been spinning my wheels, but also sinking into mud.

Last week, I decided to go back to 4 years ago, when I was still a working mom, and do what I did then.   I’ve made a schedule beginning at 5a with the boys (don’t worry, they get to sleep until 6:30).   It allows for everything from personal writing time, which I’m doing now, to 2 hour work outs at the Y, lessons with the boys (reading, writing, arithmetic, science, history and Bible verses), lunch, nap time for Henry, my personal time with God, and even chores before collapsing at the end of the day with a good book or movie with my husband.

I’ve written out my schedule, what it will be daily, and have even allowed for Friday to be a free day for all of us!   I hope this has become a more realistic resolution and that it is something from which we’ll all benefit.  I hope this allows for me to start breathing again, to not feel so overwhelmed and to feel beneficial.   And of course, I hope this also allows for me to maintain this blog a bit better as I continue to share with you our daily adventures.

I hope you all rang in the New Year in the happiest and best ways possible, and that the Lord will continue to guide you, be merciful, and most of all that you will find Him this year, if you haven’t.   Happy 2016!

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Survival of the Fittest

It’s a motto used by athletes and intellectuals all across the board.  Celebrities use it, common folk use it, politicians use it.  Once upon a time, I even used it.   These days, I don’t know how much stock I actually put into the words.  I’m getting older, a lot less bolder, and I just want to make sure that I can survive the raising of my youngest child, regardless of who’s the fittest.

Davey has become a lot easier these days.  He sasses me more than I’d like, but he’s also settling down more and becoming a bit of an asset to me (if children can be considered that).   He helps out more, is able to watch a television show and even most of a movie, thereby allowing me some downtime or the much needed chance to get some chores done.   He understands his chores and because I’ve chosen them wisely, he actually enjoys doing them.

I can take him places, football games, museums, restaurants, and not be too terribly concerned about either not enjoying myself or management kicking us out.  It’s been a long ride to get us to this place, a lot of heart aches and head aches, but we’re there.   Looking back, I never thought it would happen.  So, I can say I have at least survived my oldest son’s terrible twos.  Whew!  Henry?  Well, he’s a different story.

I found myself feeling as if I were having a Mommy Dearest moment the other day.  I came downstairs to find the 1000 piece puzzle I’ve been working (yes, I work puzzles, they’re fun and relaxing, while also stimulating) demolished and on the floor.  I snapped.   I got so mad,  I wanted to punch a hole in the wall.   I wanted to scream at the top of my lungs.  I wanted to punish whoever did it.   I almost wanted to take a wire hanger to someone, but I didn’t.   I did stomp around, interrogate both of my boys (although I knew who was the culprit) and then I threatened to take away all of their toys.   I made them clean up and all the while I was seething inside, the pressure mounting and a pain began forming in my left chest and I felt like I couldn’t breathe.   Dear God, was I having a heart attack, or coming near to it, all over a puzzle?  Nah, I think it was just the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Henry.  Yes, Henry is the one these days who’s bringing me to the brink of death.   Henry is devious, strong willed, independent, and doesn’t seem to consider any consequences with his actions.  I’m aware he’s not yet two, but he’s very smart for a two year old, much smarter than Davey at times, a feat I didn’t think possible.

Henry is entering his terrible twos, which if I remember correctly means I have at least another two years of this behavior.   TWO YEARS!  I don’t know if I’m fit, mentally or physically, to survive.   I genuinely believe he will take me down, he will destroy me piece by piece, eroding away my armor, until I’m completely naked and vulnerable, where he’ll then deliver the knife to the heart.   Maybe I’m a bit melodramatic, but I really think Henry will be the death of me.

He’s adventurous, has zero fear, doesn’t listen (likes to run towards the road, regardless of how many times I’ve said “no”) and believes anything his four year old brother can do, he can do it better.   I’m going to die.  I am literally going to go into an early grave with this child if I don’t learn how to relax.   My problem, though, is that I’m not thinking on the level of an almost two year old, or even a four year old for that matter.  I’m assuming, falsely I might add, that these boys are on my level.   I’m not coming down to theirs, and therein, my friends, lies the problem.   I find myself every night saying these words, “I just don’t understand.”

So what if the fence is colored with chalk, it’ll wash off.  So what if my puzzle is destroyed, it can be put back together.   So what if Henry threw my wallet in the trash can at the museum, it was recovered, albeit a half an hour later.   That third thing did happen, by the way.   So what if he’s not eating his food, throwing it across the room, he’s obviously not starving.   So what if he instigates half of the fights with his older brother, he’ll learn not to mess with a bull or that those horns will hook.   So what if he’s pulling poop out of his diaper and wiping on walls?  So what!  Those are the words I should be saying to myself every day.   He is only going to be this age for a while and then all new headaches will start.   Sigh.  I don’t think that thought is really helping my cause as I’m sitting here at 4 am on a Friday morning writing a blog.

The only thing that even remotely makes me smile about the idea of if Henry puts me into an early grave, is knowing that my husband will no longer have a buffer.  He’ll have to deal with these boys on his own.  He’ll have to suffer through my torture.  I’m not thinking nicely, shame on me. I wonder where Henry gets his devious nature?  Hmmm.

Happy Friday, y’all!

Puzzle Me This

I love puzzles, more specifically jigsaw puzzles.   When I was a kid, I kept a cut piece of cardboard under my bed with some 1000 + piece puzzle in some sort of working fashion.  There was always something therapeutic for me when it came to working puzzles.  A couple of years ago, while visiting my husband’s grandmother in a nursing home, I found myself face to face with a puzzle sitting on a table.  I’m a bit ashamed to say, but while his grandmother napped, I sat there and started working the puzzle.   It was great.

My boys have begun to pick up this habit.   Like most every parent, I bought them some sort of wooden peg puzzle when they were babies.   I coaxed them both along just a bit, but they eventually got the hang of it.   These days, they are both puzzle working fiends.

Henry works his transportation puzzle.
Henry works his transportation puzzle.

Davey’s most favorite thing to do is work puzzles.   I have to keep one packed in his back pack every time we leave the house, should we get stuck somewhere and he needs some entertainment.  Last week at the beach, this kid reworked the same three 24 piece puzzles like a champ.   Henry didn’t pick up on it as quickly, but he’s moved along.   He is the second child, after all.

Henry is learning about animals of the jungle.
Henry is learning about animals of the jungle.

The downside to being a second child means that you don’t get the one on one attention that the oldest child received.  I’m painfully aware of this with Henry on a daily basis and I’m a bit perturbed with myself that I haven’t spent the time instilling my hobby into him.   Fortunately for me, he’s picked up on the puzzle working mania of this family and can work puzzles that Davey couldn’t when he was the same age.  Perhaps it’s from watching Davey, because I know I haven’t worked with him to that level.   Shame on me.

And more jungle animals.
And more jungle animals.

Either way, my boys love a good puzzle and this makes me so happy.   Yesterday, Davey worked 8 different puzzles, ranging in size from 12-48 pieces.   He did the hardest one in literally 5 minutes.  Yeah, I timed him.   But here’s the thing with Davey, he doesn’t look at a piece and then think about where it should go, he just seems to pick up a piece, runs it through his fingers while his eyes are simultaneously looking at the other pieces, and know exactly where it goes.  It’s almost as if he has a sixth sense working these things.

Working the pig portion of Melissa & Doug.
Working the pig portion of Melissa & Doug.

As the boys have progressed, I have begun purchasing puzzles that will actually teach them things.   For example, Davey’s favorite puzzle has become his Melissa & Doug puzzle of the United States.  He asks to work this at least once a day, and is learning where the states go and the names of them.  He knows more than I do with regards to the location of the states.

Davey likes to tell his daddy which state he has.
Davey likes to tell his daddy which state he has.

The great thing about the puzzles is that it keeps them busy while I’m doing chores.  On a rainy day, when they can’t go outside and I refuse to cave into the television as it beckons my name, puzzles have become my godsend.   I’m glad these two love working puzzles.   I’ve begun to find myself looking at some of the larger, harder puzzles for myself.   What a great way for Davey and I to do something together by setting up a puzzle on the dining room table and working a little bit every day.

He knows exactly where every state goes.
He knows exactly where every state goes.

I guess I’ll be making a stop to Wal-Mart tonight.

And another state is placed.
And another state is placed.

Mommy’s Little Helper

I’m a big advocate of having chores for kids to do. I had chores that ranged from cleaning the bathrooms, to emptying the dishwasher, to mowing the grass, and even getting up on Saturday mornings at 6 am during the summer to pick beans, okra, squash, and tomatoes in our garden. My parents instilled the importance of hard work and the need for chores and responsibility into me at a young age. It’s made me into the person I am today.

I’ve read a lot about assigning chores to your kids, when you should do it and what they should be. I haven’t put much stock into what I’ve read, but I have found that Davey loves to help and if I can turn the chores into a sort of game or competition then he’s on board.

We keep a stool in our kitchen specifically for Davey so he can help with everything from putting dishes up in the dishwasher (usually it’s just the eating utensils minus the knives), to wiping down the counter and even helping to cook/make his own breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Putting up the utensils makes for a fun game of matching and mixing up the batter for the pancakes gives him a sense of accomplishment.

Last week, I raked leaves up in our backyard. Davey, being the eager little helper that he is, grabbed his own rake, and followed suit. He then helped pick up the leaves and toss them into the lawn bags and even managed to pull a few bags over to the fence for easier disposal. I told him he didn’t need to, but with his eager and willing eyes he said, “I help too, Mama.” Made me smile.

He loves to vacuum and dust. Give this kid a Swiffer duster and he goes to town all while creating his own little song! I love it. He makes up his bed, puts away his clothes, and even manages to read to Henry while I’m nursing him. What a helper!

Recently, he’s begun doing laundry. Ok, ok, don’t worry he’s nowhere near the laundry detergent and we don’t have any of those pods which can be confused for candy with kids. What he does do is separate out the laundry, and with his trusty little stool, loads up the washing machine. I’m just amazed as to how much he loves doing this stuff.

And of course, he has his own little lawn mower, so that he can “help dada mow grass.”

It’s not that I’ve purposefully tried to push chores on him at a young age. I ask him to clean up his toys before going down for a nap or getting something else out to play with. Usually, I must help him with cleaning up the toys, but he does put forth the effort. I know this is and will instill in him the same core beliefs and strengths that molded me into the person I’ve become. I know it will make him understand a sense of responsibility at some point down the road. At this point, I’m just tickled pink he loves “helping” so much. I just hope he loves to help this much as gets older, because like it or not he WILL “help”. I’ve already begun daydreaming about my relaxing days ahead when he and his brother will be responsible for mowing the grass and taking out the trash. And let me tell you, this Mama won’t be cleaning up their bathroom either. It’s bad enough I have to clean up after their daddy! I’m not touching their bathroom with a ten foot pole!

Right now, Davey loves to boast that he’s “Mommy’s Little Helper”. I’ve even contemplated getting him a shirt made like that. Perhaps I’ll have a shirt made for him each year with that slogan so as to perhaps “embarrass” him into doing his fair share when he finally decides it’s not quite so cool to do chores. Evil or genius? Whatever it takes. 🙂

Weaning Myself

As each day passes by and we become one day closer to welcoming Version 2.0 into our house, I’ve started trying to find ways to perhaps make myself more independent from Davey. This is a bit of a touchy subject and I know all of you moms out there will have different views on what I’m doing, but lately it seems that I can’t even go to the bathroom without Davey grabbing hold of my legs. It has me slightly worried especially since once the new baby arrives, my attention will be divided.

My entire day revolves around Davey. Some say that’s a bad idea and that I’m doing damage to both of us by involving him in everything. Perhaps that’s so, but I feel that everything I do everyday can somehow be turned into a learning experience with Davey. Things such as folding clothes (he likes to match up his socks and put away his own clothing) and putting up the dishes (I give him the silverware, minus the knives, and let him sort them into their proper cubicles in the drawer) all seem minor to me, but to some seem to be a lot. My hope with doing this is to help him learn some responsibilities, but am I just making him more attached to me? After all, I can’t even seem to do minor household chores without Davey wanting to “help” which really creates more work for me.

The only way I’ve found to really give myself a break with Davey is to put Mickey Mouse Clubhouse on and let him watch it for about an hour. I hear the gasps from all of you out there who don’t believe in any form of television right now. Well, judge away, I don’t care. I need to give both of us a break from each other and right now these seems to be the best way.

My worry is that he may rebel once the new baby arrives. Yeah, that could be a bit crazy, but he’s also never really had to share me with anyone. I don’t want him to resent his younger brother or sister, and he may very well not. Either way, I just feel that these days he’s much to clingy with me, and only me.

Lately, I’ve begun to research various toddler activites that he can do alone. I’ve cleaned out his toys and gotten rid of the “baby” ones so that he can focus more on the toys that are age appropriate to him. I’ve actually found that just doing the latter has really changed his attitude alot. The other day I bought him five Matchbox cars at Wal-Mart and so far those have been the greatest toys ever. He’ll spend hours driving them around on the hardwood floor.

So, am I wrong to try to wean myself from Davey? For those of you moms who’ve felt the need to do this, what did you do and how did it work?