Mindsets…Yours and Your Childs

As I continue to expand my blog and community Facebook page, I devote a certain amount of time per day perusing through Flipboard and a few of my favorite pages to find things to blog about and share.   One of the articles I came across today was about mindsets and how you speak to your children can encourage them to be successful.  Normally, I would have shared this article on my Facebook page and moved on, allowing for the discussions to begin, but since I’m now focusing harder on getting Henry up to speed, I find myself needing to blog about this article, which I will include at the end of this post.

As many of you know, my children are with me daily, even though they are both in school.  I had the opportunity to put them both on the same days of the week, thereby allowing me some alone time, a chance to recharge, and even accomplish a few things I’ve put on the back burner since becoming a mom (MY BOOK that I’ve desperately attempted to edit over the past 4 years).  My husband and I discussed this option and we decided it best to separate the boys and allow for me to have individual one on one time with them.   So, as I’ve stated before, Henry is a T/Th student, while Davey is a MWF student.

When Davey was 4 months old, I quit my job and decided to be a stay at home mom.  I immediately jumped into my role, taking him to the library for story time, reading to him profusely, quizzing him on animals and their sounds, and even stepping out of my comfort zone to join a playgroup with other moms and their children.   I perused through the internet and pinned like crazy on Pinterest all sorts of ideas to get my child ahead of the game.  I’m not one for wasting time.  I have to be productive in everything I do, even if that productivity is only perceived through my eyes.

By the time, Davey was almost 2, he was enrolled in a Mother’s Morning Out program.  I was in the final trimester of my 2nd pregnancy and eager for a little breathing room and to get Davey into a routine that was all for HIM before Henry came along.  He was well ahead of the game when he started.   He was speaking at a 3 year old level, enunciating words, and learning how to grammatically speak correctly.   He knew his letters in order and randomly as well as numbers, shapes, and colors.   I was proud of him and my ability to get him there.

When Henry arrived, for obvious reasons, I was unable to devote all of my time to just one child.   I still worked with Davey, especially during the first couple of months of Henry’s life when he was nothing more than an eating, sleeping, drooling, and pooping mess.   I continued to build upon my foundation I had started with Davey and by the time he started actual preschool, he was ahead of the game, and still is.   As for Henry, I’ve struggled.

It’s hard to teach Henry the same things that I thought Davey, because Davey is always there and he wants to answer the questions.   He wants to please me and he wants to show me that he knows his stuff, displaying his fixed mindset, which discourages Henry from answering my questions.    When I ask Henry what color this is, I get, “I don’t know,” but he really does know.   How do I know this?   Because when I’m NOT trying to sit down and teach him, he’ll pull out a yellow crayon, for example, and say, “mom, I color this sun yellow.”   He knows his stuff.   I just haven’t figured out how to get him to sit with me and let me teach him or to show me that he is just as smart as I know he is and can be.

Henry has been in school for 4 days total so far, meaning that I’ve had 5 days (not counting Labor Day) with which he and I could work on the basic concepts every preschooler should know.   I had started the approach of the fixed mindset when teaching him, since that’s what worked best with Davey, and as a side note, Davey displays characteristics of both mindsets dependent upon what he is doing or working on.  Unfortunately, it appears that the fixed mindset doesn’t work with Henry and he needs to be challenged instead of taught in a basic setting.

He told me this week, while shoving flashcards of letters and numbers across the table, “I not want to do this.”   We’ve bought him a LeapFrog, but he doesn’t use it.   Davey loves ABC Mouse, and so I set Henry up with his own Avatar for it as well.   Nope, he’s not a fan, so I’m finding that I have to step outside of the box and find ways to be interactive and that includes walks in the park where I may take leaves and make a letter “L” out of those leaves.   He then will find rocks and make letters out of those, so you see he knows his stuff.

So, the article that inspired this blog is here:

If You Want Your Kids To Be Successful In The Future, Talk To Them In This Way

It doesn’t go in depth nor is it judgmental, it just helps with finding other ways to encourage your children to be successful.

Of course, dealing with Henry, has given me a new level of respect for teachers as I never really looked at the fact that each child is different (it’s obvious, I know, but I haven’t really considered it) and what these teachers must do and go through to reach each child, to help them to be successful and to learn.

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What I’ve Always Wanted

People tend to ask you that…what have you always wanted?  Others like to rephrase it by saying, if money were not an impediment, what would you do?   I’ve had this tossed out to me in the past and I’ve always answered with trivial things, those that will accentuate my vanity, or my need to outperform my peers.   Yes, those two have crossed my mind.

Then there are the responses of travelling, owning my own business, writing my book, and finally to the point where I am right now.   Money isn’t an issue.   My husband and I have found we can live off of his salary for the past four years.   Would we like more money?   Absolutely, but truthfully we’re living comfortably and a lot better than most.   So, what have I always wanted to do?   Be able to volunteer and devote my time, energy, and skills to a cause that is near and dear to my heart.  I didn’t know what was near and dear to my heart for a long time.   I’ve fought so hard, impatiently asked of the Lord what my calling should be, what more could I do outside of being a devoted and Godly wife and mother   I’ve prayed for a way that I can use my writing skills for something more than just trying to write that painstaking novel that will be my ticket to paradise.   There’s got to be more to my life than that.

Last month, that opportunity presented itself to me on the nine year anniversary of brother’s death.   When I attended my first meeting for the Cancer Survivors Park Alliance Group, I was a little nervous and a bit overwhelmed.   I was surrounded by philanthropists, business owners, executives, and artists.   I was engulfed by an overwhelming body of water that I had never been a part of in my life

Thoughts swirled through my head after I left the meeting.   Could I do this?   Would I really have something to contribute?   Would they all laugh at my ideas?   Flash forward a month, and it’s a completely new spectrum.   Yesterday I attended my second meeting for the CSPA Group.   I listened to stories of what’s happened in the press, the discussion of those lives who were recently lost to a form of cancer.   I watched potential commercials, looked at designs for banners, flyers, and digital signage.   I asked my questions and offered my input and what’s strange and exhilarating for me…I engaged in intelligent conversations, had my thoughts taken seriously, and actually walked away with an eagerness to work.

Tonight, I sit here in bed, The Greenville Journal, my notes, and various websites pulled up.   I sit here and work on my ideas, write marketing plans, and watch House of Cards.   As much as I love being home with my boys, it’s so personally rewarding to be doing something more.   My stomach twists in pains of guilt and anxiety when I contemplate going back to work full time and leaving my boys.   I don’t want someone else raising them and I don’t want someone else experiencing all of their firsts or even their seconds and thirds, but I do love feeling like that missing piece of the puzzle in my personality is now back in place.

As ridiculously cliché as it may sound, I feel like I’m whole again and it’s refreshing.

 

Testing The Waters

For some time now, I’ve felt as if I could do more with my time.   I don’t homeschool my boys (at least not right now, that could change in the future) and with the two of them in preschool and mother’s morning out programs, I’ve had some of my time freed up.   At first, I thought I would devote my time to me, either working out, writing, reading, relaxing, or running errands.   And why not?  I work hard in my stay at home mom position.   But something deep down within my heart and in my head told me that my time could be better spent elsewhere.

Two weeks ago, at our local Rotary meeting (of which I am the Communications Director), we had a speaker who is the Executive Director of the Cancer Survivors Park Alliance.  It’s a park created for cancer survivors and their families, as well as those who are currently fighting the horrible disease.   The purpose of the park is to create a space for hope, healing, learning, and celebration.   The speaker happened to speak to us on the 9th anniversary of my brother’s death to leukemia, a debilitating blood cancer.

cancer survivors park
An artist’s rendering of the park.

I took it as a sign from God, a sign that I had prayed about for quite some time.   I’ve longed for something with which I could devote my extra time (what little I have).   I’ve told my husband that I want to do more with my life, but I don’t want to sacrifice the flexibility of a stay at home mom lifestyle.   I want to go to my children’s events, be hands on with them and involved in every aspect of their lives, more so than I would be as a working mom, but still be active in my community.   I’ve sought out an organization with which I could be passionate about.   If it’s going to take away any of my time, then it has to be worth something for me, and by something I mean more than money.

After our rotary meeting, I spoke with the director and offered up  my services in some form or fashion.   She said she couldn’t pay me, and I told her I wasn’t looking for money.   She informed me of a couple of opportunities, one of which is on the communications committee.   Given my background in communications, we both decided the group could benefit more from my expertise in that arena.   So, last Wednesday, I dropped my boys off with my mom and dad and headed out to my first official meeting.

Although, I’m not being paid, this is still a professional organization and I hemmed and hawed over what I should wear.   It’s been 4 years since I’ve been in the corporate world and either my business suits no longer fit or I just don’t have them anymore.   I settled with a nice pair of jeans, a button down shirt, and a blazer…business casual.

As the meeting got underway, my head started pounding and my heart beat started accelerating.   All of the people in the room with me were currently working.   Not a one of them was a retired philanthropist or fellow stay at home mom like me.   They all were able to contribute to the conversations by injecting in some sort of anecdote from a previous experience either with a client or an idea.   Me?  Well, I just listened intently and took notes.

Secretly, I sat there wondering if this was a good idea.   My thoughts kept revolving around, “do I have the intelligence for this?   what about the bandwidth?   Have I been so long out of the working world, that I can’t contribute?”

After the meeting, I tossed around a couple of ideas and I have meetings scheduled to find ways to increase fundraisers, to market them, to write up press releases, and encourage the overall notoriety of the park.

That night, my husband asked how the meeting went.  I told him it went well.  I told him about what was being done and about some ideas I had.   As with everything else in my life, he told me he was proud of me for taking on this added responsibility, for finding a way to help others.    Who knows what may come of this?   I definitely don’t, but I do know that the excitement of being involved in something like this is exhilarating.   I’m likely to have less time for my blog posts, but it’s worth the sacrifice.

By the way, if you’re interested in learning more about the park, you can visit their website.  http://www.cancersurvivorspark.org

 

 

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!

Kitchen Talk

In my short amount of years as a mom, I’ve learned a few things.   First, you don’t ever offer a toddler options…he’ll always choose poorly.   Second, snacks after 4 in the afternoon spell imminent doom for those of us hoping to enjoy a peaceful family dinner, and third…you learn a lot about your child when cooking together in the kitchen.

Allowing his little brother to help melt the marshmallows.
Allowing his little brother to help melt the marshmallows.

From the moment Davey was old enough to help in the kitchen, I had him with me.   I was a new and inexperienced cook at that point, eager to start a new adventure with my child.   I voraciously poured through websites, Pinterest, and our cookbooks looking for easy, yet fun and healthy things I could cook with my little one.   I wanted to create memories, to be the fun mom, to have something to do as a stay at home mom.   I wanted to document our cooking fiascos with my new camera and my insatiable desire to write.   The kitchen was my stage, my prop, the backdrop to my coolness as a stay at home mom.   What I didn’t know was how much I would learn from cooking with my son.

Adding in more marshmallows.
Adding in more marshmallows.

Before he could even speak, he was lining muffin pans, tossing cut up apples into batter, dipping his finger into icing and licking the spoon and bowl.  When I would suggest we make something, he would jump, grab his monster apron, a stool, and an eagerness greater than anything I’d ever seen.   One would think when starting in the kitchen with your littles, you would pick something easy, a Betty Crocker brownie, Pillsbury premade, precut cookies, or a Duncan Hines cupcake mix.   Me?  Well, I don’t like to start small, my goals are high and lofty, so we started with a made from scratch apple muffin recipe.   It took us nearly two hours, but we made some of the best apple muffins I’ve ever tasted and Davey was hooked.

A continual process of mixing and stirring.
A continual process of mixing and stirring.

Back then, he didn’t talk much.  These days; however, are much more different   These days, my son loves to talk about what he’s measuring, how he’s going to bake it, cook it, or grill it, how to decorate it, and who gets what.  This past week, I learned a lot more than I bargained for, especially about Davey’s fellow classmates and his teachers.

All ready to be cut out.
All ready to be cut out.

In celebration of Halloween, I decided we would make Rice Krispie treats for his class.  I decided to make them in the shapes of pumpkins and bats and decorate them with chocolate and candy eyes.   I even bought cake decorating pens to help with the faces.   As usual, Davey jumped right in, his brother even helping out, but the true fun for me didn’t really start until Henry was napping and Davey and I were left alone to decorate the treats.

The cut product.
The cut product.

For the better part of an hour, I spent the afternoon with my oldest son listening to him as he decorated the Rice Krispie treats.   He told me about the two Annas in his class, one of whom I knew from last year.   He picked out the pumpkin each one could have and told me the reasons behind giving them their pumpkins.  He told me stories of the boys in his class, how one always makes him laugh, how another one is really quiet.   He picked out bats for his two teachers and told little anecdotes about the things that he likes best about them.   I learned who he likes to sit alongside, who he plays with the most, who makes him sad and why, and what his favorite part about each person is in his class.  This was truly the first time when I wanted to put down the camera, the laptop and phone.   This was the first time in our cooking when I just wanted to totally immerse myself in the moment, the being, with my son, and savor every little morsel he wanted to share with me.

The bats.
The bats.

This was more than just a memory to be created.   This was more than just an adventure, or an excuse to write.   This was my opportunity to really get to know my son.  This was an opportunity I hope to recreate again for years to come as his love for the kitchen grows, but it was also an opportunity for a mother and son bonding experience that may one day go away as he gets older.   Needless to say, if you’ve had some sort of influence in Davey’s life, be it good or bad, then I’m likely to hear about it in the kitchen, while we cook, and dissect the events of the days.

The pumpkins that look like monsters.
The pumpkins that look like monsters.

Kitchen talk…it truly is a magical time.

***as you can see, there are no pictures from the actual cutting or decorating.   I was too wrapped up in the stories I was being told.***

Criss Cross Apple Sauce

When I first became a stay at home mom, I immediately began taking Davey to our local library.   I wanted to have interaction with other adults and for Davey to have interaction with other children.  It was a wonderful experience as it allowed me the opportunity to meet other stay at home moms, and we even formed a playgroup that met weekly outside of the library.   It was an absolutely wonderful thing.

As with most things in life, people grow (children more specifically) and responsibilities become more and more burdensome.   Our playgroup fizzled apart after about a year when moms were having other babies and unable to attend or were moving, as was the case with two of the moms.   It was a sad day for me as this became such a wonderful thing for both Davey and me.

With the introduction of Henry into our lives, I found it hard to maintain our once hectic schedules and I stopped taking Davey to the library.   I soothed my guilt by saying that he was enrolled in a Mother’s Morning Out program and that was plenty of social interaction for him, but by doing that I neglected to let Henry have his own thing.  I didn’t take Henry to the story time at the library because it was geared for little ones (his age) and met on the days when Davey wasn’t at Mother’s Morning Out which meant he would be with us and thereby bored with the baby stuff.   So, Henry’s social interaction fell to the wayside.  I firmly believe that my lack of getting him involved with programs the way I did with Davey is the reason he’s so clingy to me when he attends the same Mother’s Morning Out program Davey did.

Fire Safety day and story time at the library consisted of a real truck.
Fire Safety day and story time at the library consisted of a real truck.

Yesterday, I decided to brave the elements…not the cold, but the “elements” of taking two boys to a story time at the library.   I hemmed and hawed about it.  I’ve gotten into my own routine, my own comfort level, but I need to step out of that and step out of it quick for Henry’s sake.   The story time consisted of books about fire trucks and fire safety.   There were even firemen and fire trucks for the boys to explore.

As soon as I walked into that same room of previous years’ story times, I had an immediate twinge in my stomach, twinge of regret as I didn’t know how my two boys were going to react.   When I originally began story time, Davey was a free spirit.  He was the child who never say with his mother, was always running around, liked to sing the loudest, touch everything, climb on other mommies, and just not focus at all.   He was the child who refused to sit still.   I was always jealous of the other moms.  I would come home and tell my husband how Davey would run around, how I felt he was getting nothing from story time, and how frustrating it was for me.   Henry is becoming the same way, but Davey?  Well, let’s just say this mommy was pleasantly surprised at how well her big boy is growing.

Davey immediately sat down in my lap, eagerly listening to stories and rhymes.   Henry?  Well, he was a Davey of years past.   He ran around, screamed, tried to take sippy cups, climbed on chairs, took books.   He was my terror, the one who would not allow me to enjoy the program with all the other moms.  Davey; however, decided to join the circle of other kids.  He sat criss cross apple sauce the entire time.  He sang the songs, listened intently to the stories, and even participated in the “stop, drop, and roll” with the firemen.   If I hadn’t been chasing after Henry and trying to quarantine him, I’m likely to have sat in the room, mouth agape at the astonishment of how much my oldest has grown.   He can sit quietly, albeit for just a short time, but he can do it.

Henry was able to sit still for just a split second.   Long enough for me to get this picture.
Henry was able to sit still for just a split second. Long enough for me to get this picture.

As I sat discussing the days events with my husband, he remarked, “remember how you never thought Davey would sit still?”   Yes, I do remember that.   I suppose that since I survived Davey and his terrible twos, then I’m capable of doing the same with Henry.   Maybe in two more years, I’ll be amazed at his ability to sit criss cross apple sauce as well.

10 Things This Stay at Mom No Longer Wants to Hear

Every. Single. Day.  I am bombarded by questions, comments, advice, and judgment from other people because I am a stay at home mom.  Every. Single. Day.   It never ceases, it’s like a constant barrage of words pelting my entire body.  And of course there are blogs and articles about being a working mom vs. a stay at home mom, which is better and which is worse.   This morning, I read a blog on Scary Mommy that had the 12 things a working mother never wants to hear.  First off, let me give props to you working moms out there.  It’s tough work.  I’ve been there and done that.   Secondly, let me also just give props to ALL the moms in the world, whether they be working moms or stay at home moms.   You, WE, are all rock stars!

Back to this blog I read.   Working moms get a lot of grief.  I know this.  On occasion, I’ve thought negatively about my fellow working moms whether it be because I’m jealous of their adult interactions, having a life OUTSIDE of their kids, or because I just think their being selfish (yes, I have thought this.  Shame on me, I know!)  After reading this blog, it got me to thinking about the things I, a stay at home mom, don’t want to ever hear.

1.  Oh, I’m sorry.  You must have lost your job.  First off, don’t just automatically assume that since I’m staying home with my kids, it means I lost my job.   Some of us actually chose to leave our Corporate America jobs.   I went back to work when my maternity leave with Davey was up.  He was six weeks old.  I turned in my notice when he was four months old.  I saw nothing productive out of my day while I was working.   Instead all I could think about was what I was missing out on with my son.  I would rise at 5 to shower and get ready, feed Davey at 6 and while my husband dressed him and fixed our breakfast, I would finish getting ready, pack Davey’s diaper bag and drop him off at daycare no later than 7:10, go to work, leave work at 5, pick Davey up at 5:30 and then would have maybe 2 hours with him before he had to go to bed.  2 hours!  That wasn’t acceptable for me.   I can always go back to work, maybe not in my chosen profession, but I can’t go back and make memories.   So, no I CHOSE to leave my job.

2.  You must have a degree in Home Ec.  Yes, I do hear this.  Do they even offer Home Economics anymore?  I never took it in high school.   And just for your information I have an Associates Degree in English, a Bachelors Degree in Speech and Communication Studies & Political Science (I double majored) and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration.

3.  I bet you have time to get caught up on all your soap operas.  Yes, I do hear this one as well.  Who watches these anymore?  I don’t even have time to sit down and watch the news in the mornings, much less watch a soap opera.   When the boys are napping, I’m usually doing some sort of housework or maybe squeezing in some writing time.

4.  I bet you get to workout all the time.  Yes, I do go to the Y, so I do get in some sort of an exercise routine.   I don’t do it just for me, as the Y offers all sorts of programs for children.   Davey flips out if we don’t go on a Wednesday, since that is his exercise day, but I don’t work out all the time.  Anyone who’s seen me knows that I don’t, but I am active with both of my boys, playing soccer or tee ball in the backyard, going on bike rides, and hiking, but my boys are with me 90% of the time I’m getting in any sort of exercise.

5.  Your children will be socially awkward.  My children will NOT and are NOT socially awkward.   That is because I have chosen from the start to constantly have them at various events, from the library, to the children’s museum, to play dates.  I give up my comforts of wanting to just stay at home, so that they can have the interaction they need.  Being a stay at home mom doesn’t mean we stay home 24/7.  I’m very conscientious about keeping my boys active socially.

6.  Studies have shown that children thrive in an atmosphere when both parents are working.  I went to daycare and look how I turned out.    Studies are coming out EVERY day.  There’s always a new one.  This one touts exercising while pregnant will increase your child’s IQ when he’s 5.  Another says that smelling a person’s farts will increase your life span by 6 years.  Studies are gibberish in most cases, a waste of time and money.  The studies focusing on curing cancers and AIDS and other medical impediments, those are worth the energy to be concerned about  Studies are subjective and can NOT be used in every situation.   I went to daycare, too, and I turned out just fine, but I want something more for my kids.

7.  Your husband must make a LOT of money.  Yes, my husband has a wonderful job and it is his job that allows me to be a stay at home mom, but we’ve made sacrifices.  We don’t drive luxury cars, I don’t own luxury clothing, we don’t go out to eat at fancy restaurants.   We had to change our lifestyle in order to accommodate us living off of one salary.  It was hard at first, but we’ve made it work and my kids don’t want for anything.   Stop assuming we’re rich just because I don’t work by my own choice.

8.  I could never stay at home with my kids.  You could, if your circumstances allowed for it.   Some moms must work in order to help keep food on the table and the kids clothed.  Others do it because they just don’t think they could stay home with the kids.   Look, it’s not easy.   I lose my patience a LOT, I mean A LOT!  Some days I feel like I’m spinning my wheels and getting nowhere.   Some days I feel there has been no sense of accomplishment.  I lay my head down some nights and think, “what did I accomplish today?”  Being at home is hard work.  It’s not easy, but if your situation allowed for it, you COULD do it.  I have faith in you.

9.  I bet you have all the time in the world to write that novel you’ve been working on.  As most of you who read my blog know, I sometimes go for days, even weeks without writing a blog because I just don’t have the time for it.  I do most of my writing either early in the morning before everyone is up or during that 30 minutes of time in the evenings when my husband is having his one on one time with the boys.   After that, my husband and I spend a couple of quiet hours together.  Writing isn’t my priority right now.

10.  Must be nice to get to sleep in every morning.  You know, you don’t have to get up and go to work.  No, you’re right, I don’t have to leave the house to go to work, but I still treat my role as a stay at home mom as a job, a career choice.   I get up every morning by 6 (I do have the occasional morning when I get to sleep to maybe 7), do my writing, have some coffee, get dressed and get breakfast ready.   I find if I don’t keep a routine to my day, including rising in the morning, then I’m setting myself and my boys up for failure.   I don’t let my boys sleep past 7:30 most mornings because I want them already on the routine of needing to get up Monday through Friday.   They’ll be going to school soon, after all.

I could add more to this list, but really I don’t have the time, nor do I think many of you have the time to read more.   Look, we all have this chip in our head, a little switch that turns our filters on and off, but for some reason it seems to malfunction when talking to mothers.   I don’t know if we’re just trying to make small talk, but if this is how it turns out, then just don’t do it.   Stop passing judgment on me and my life just because you either a.) don’t understand it or b.) just think it’s the wrong route to take.

My boys are both very smart, testing above their age groups.   They love each other and other kids.   They’re well mannered and two of the sweetest boys you could ever meet.   Could they be this way if I were a working mom?  Sure, but I don’t think our relationships would be this great.

Afternoon Blues

Surely my children are not the only ones.   Absolutely not.   I just can’t believe that they’re such an anomaly.   It’s almost irritating.

Every afternoon around 4 o’clock, my boys transform into creatures who resemble my children but are inhabited with little demons.   It never fails, like the a man changing into a werewolf at a full moon.   They become something other than my children at the stroke of 4 EVERY afternoon, regardless of the day of the week.  I mean EVERY AFTERNOON.

Please don’t tell me I’m stuck in this parallel universe alone, forced to suffer through the tortures of seeing children I love so much become such little monsters.

As stay at home moms, there are things we are forced to endure, there are scientific abnormalities we never knew existed.  One of these is the complete mutation of our little spawns.   I suppose I could blame my current viewpoint on binge watching episodes of Fringe over the weekend, but I can’t help but wonder if at 4 o’clock either I cross over into another universe or if my kids do.

Davey gave up naps about a year ago.  On occasion, we can get him to take a snoozer, but it’s rare.  Henry; however, is still forced to face the dreaded bed and a 2-3 hour nap every afternoon.   If he doesn’t nap, it’s like the Apocalypse has descended upon my house.  During Henry’s nap time is the only time I allow Davey to watch television and even then it’s only for about an hour or so, long enough for me to take care of some necessities.   So, one would think that if Henry is well-rested and Davey’s had some “down time” as well, their attitudes would be different, right?  WRONG!

Henry whines, he takes toys from his brother, he runs around like a screaming banshee and the entire time from when he awakes from what should be “restful slumber”, he’s yelling, “bites!”  which means he wants a snack.  My conundrum with this is that I’m trying to feed them dinner by 6 and I want them to be somewhat hungry so they may have a pleasant dining experience.  Unfortunately, most days I seem to be caving and like a broken seal that keeps leaking, once you’ve given Henry a snack, regardless of the size or what it is, he wants more.

When Henry whines, Davey becomes irritable.   He wants to slap his brother, I mean literally slap him, and on occasion I’ve caught him slapping Henry which leads to punishment for him and an even more horrible time for me.  I don’t know what to do.  I don’t know what occurs during the course of 2-3 hours in the afternoon that turns my children into raving lunatics.   At first, I thought they only did this with me, but no.  My husband experiences it first hand.  My parents have even suffered through this remaking of our children.

Yesterday afternoon was the same.   I love my boys.   I’m blessed to have them, I just wish they wouldn’t be little screaming leeches every afternoon.   I must remind myself on occasion that I’m stronger than them, that my mind has more power, but alas they literally break me down.   Perhaps I don’t possess the strength I thought I had or I’ve come to underestimate theirs.

Ain’t Nobody Got Time to Poopy

I gotta tell ya, one of the hardest parts of being a parent is potty training your child. I loathe this part of my life. I’m eager to fast forward to the next stage and be done!

For the most part Davey is potty trained. He pee pees in the potty quite regularly, can make it through nap time and even bedtime without an accident, and actually seems to enjoy the peeing part. The pooping part? Well, that’s a whole other demon and when I’m neck deep in trying to help him poop all I can think is, “I gave up a paying job for this?” At least in the corporate world, when I was neck deep in crap I was getting compensated for it. Here? This doesn’t even help with a down payment on a nice new pair of shoes.

Davey hates, with a capital H, pooping in the potty. I’ve tried begging him, bribing him, guilt tripping him, and even scaring the poop right out of him. Nothing works! This kid will hold it in for days until he just can’t hold it anymore and then we just pray he makes it to the bathroom in time. It’s madness!

Monday, a week after his last poop, I became determined to make sure that one way or another he got out a poop so I called the doctor. It can’t possibly be healthy having all of that backed up inside of you. I was nervous the doctor would want me to bring him in, would tell me horror stories, or berate me for being a mother incapable of getting a poop out of her kid. After all, what sort of mother am I?

I was told it was still a bit too early to panic, but that action needed to be taken immediately. I’m to limit his dairy intake to 2-3 servings per day, increase the fiber in his diet (almost impossible with the world’s pickiest eater), and to give him a capful of Miralax. Fortunately, I didn’t have to do any of that as he literally hit his pooping point and almost didn’t make it to the potty in time.

I sat down with my mother and told her of my problems. As usual, I asked what sort of advice she could give me. She sat back and chuckled quietly before mumbling something along the lines of, “what goes around, comes around.”

Apparently, Davey has inherited his “not pooping” stance from me. When I ask him why he doesn’t want to poop in the potty he says he doesn’t have time. Doesn’t have time? Are you kidding me? What could possibly be more important? Oh! Perhaps it’s terrorizing the dog or his little brother, or maybe it’s demolishing my house. I get it! (not really) And when he finally does poopy,it hurts leaving him with that horrible feeling that encourages him not to poop again.

My mother reminds me of the fact that I once used those same words with her around this age. For years, she gave me prune juice (barf), castor oil, and Metamucil. She claims I didn’t start pooping again until she was graphic about what the doctor would need to do to me. YIKES! I’m not sharing that on this blog.

So, I’m a bit behind the eight ball here. I’m finding myself wondering how I’m going to win the battle with a mini-me, hard-headed, stubborn, independent, and strong-willed. Someone, somehow, is going to have to find time to poop. To aid in this effort, as usual, I’ve bought Davey a book, entitled “It Hurts When I Poop”. Usually, books are the key in this house.

Pooping book

Happy Halloween

Last year was easily my most stressful Halloween. I spent weeks (should have spent months) planning what Davey would be. I read blogs, watched lifestyle programs, and saw Facebook posts about all of the original ideas so many parents had. Many were making costumes. Some were choosing themes for their families, and I was frantic to make Davey into a Minion from Despicable Me. It didn’t happen, especially after I couldn’t locate a yellow hooded sweatshirt, and the overalls I was going to put him in no longer fit. My goal was to come out cheap and be as homemade as possible. I couldn’t even find yellow paint for his face. Add to it that I was 10 & 1/2 months pregnant, and I was easily the most emotional mom around. I took Davey to my parents house and cried about how horrible of a mother I was for not having a creative costume for him and for putting him in a store bought costume. Gasp! My parents looked at me like I was a nutcase.

I’m not exactly sure why last year was so special or why I felt the need to be different. Maybe it was because I’m a stay at home mom, so I SHOULD be creative and able to make costumes and be original. Really, I just attributed it to the sheer panic of being a mom for the second time, the added hormones, and the fact I was so fat and miserable. Nothing else was perfect in my life. Everything felt so out of control and I needed to exert control somewhere. Of course, it was a catastrophic failure with Davey’s costume, which meant in my eyes, I was a catastrophic failure as a mom.

This year I had to come up with costumes for not one boy, but two, and I didn’t fret about it once. I considered going with a theme especially since I already knew Henry was going to be wearing his brother’s hand-me-down and be a tiger. I thought about making Davey a safari hunter, or a ringmaster at a circus. When I told Davey this, he looked at me as if I were speaking a foreign language.

I looked on Facebook and saw pictures of my friends’ kids and their costumes, some kids having multiple costumes, which I find ridiculous. I oohed and aahed over the handmade costumes, the original ones, and the downright adorable. And then I looked at Davey and asked him what he wanted to be. He said he didn’t know. So, what did I do? I took him to a store. That’s right, my kid wore a store bought costume! For the first time in my career as a mom, I didn’t judge myself, degrade myself, or stress myself about Halloween. I took the easy way out and let Davey pick out his costume. And what did he decide on? Bumblebee from Transformers.

Davey had so much fun. This was the first year he really understood Halloween and I let him go with the flow, just like I did. He trick or treated to about 10 houses before deciding he wanted to come home and pass out candy to the other kids. I think he enjoyed seeing all of their costumes more than he did trick or treating, which was a bit disappointing for me and my husband as we were looking forward to the huge candy stash.

Henry kept his costume on long enough for pictures and then he ran around with the dog. I didn’t take him trick or treating since he really didn’t understand it and didn’t want the costume either. Why take a screaming or unpleasant kid.

For the first time, I’ve taken a step back. It’s not about me or my husband or our friends. It’s not about how we’re perceived by others. It’s not about anything other than our boys and what makes them happy. It was nice to just take a step back this year and truly enjoy Halloween.

Happy Halloween from Henry and Davey
Happy Halloween from Henry and Davey