Wednesday, March 26, 2014

What Happens at Two... Continued

There were so many good suggestions and helps and reassurances from all ya'll on facebook and in real life and here on this blog that I've decided to do a follow up post on what I've learned and decided to implement.

So, what have I learned?

1.  I have the coolest, best, perfectly wonderful loving support system in the world.  That's you guys in case you missed it.

2.  Ben understands more than I think.  Which is something that I kind of knew, but it's one of those things that still takes me by surprise because he has not mastered the art of language to let me know he understands.

3.  He's still little.  As in it is easy to forget that he's just a little guy with very little experience in this world even though he's running around all over asserting his independence.  He's finding new things to do and he thinks they are awesome when I think they are annoying or just plain inappropriate bad behavior.  He has to be taught what is right and wrong and that's my job.

4.  I have learned that Ben will be more content at meal times if he has had time to play beforehand.  Especially breakfast.  I too often have made the mistake of having breakfast ready for him right when he gets up when in reality he needs some time to decide that he's okay being up, and then another short stint of time to play and reacquaint himself with the toys he was loathe to leave behind for the irritating purpose of sleeping.

5.  I have learned that there are times when time out is the best thing in the entire world.

6.  I have learned that Ben acts up and earns himself a time-out when he either doesn't get his way or I have been ignoring him for an extensive amount of time.  The later one eliciting the more serious and explosive ear-splitting volumes.  I have learned that the best way to snap him out of it is to wrestle him (and at this point it is a wrestle) into a hug.  It takes him a moment but he melts into me and wraps his arms around my neck and I hold him tight and then we both forgive each other.

7.  I have learned that a lot of times it's better for me to go with him when he slips his hand around my finger to pull me away from what I'm doing because so very often it is to do something simple that he can't do for himself.  Like fill his sippy cup, or get the sock monkey out of the crib.  He just needs a little help to get something done and then he's content to go and play without me and I can return to my work sans tears and trauma.

8.  I have learned that there is still so very much to learn.

So, with all of this new-found/newly-remembered information, just what will I do?

1.  Quiet time during the day.  This idea I love with all my heart.  It might be a little tricky finding the best time to do this but I feel in my heart of hearts that it will be totally worth it.  He actually does pretty well in church most of the time.  There are days when that's not the case, but rarely.

2.  It's time to be more insistent that he pick up after himself and I need to teach him how.  I need to be consistent.  And sometimes that is really, really hard.

3.  Rather than try to "fix" everything at once, my husband and I will discuss what is most important to us... what will have he biggest impact for all of us and take the time to make sure it is worth the effort.  The last thing I want to do is spin my wheels in frustration over something that really doesn't matter in the long run.

4.  We will be keeping a strict bedtime for him despite his "energy crisis".  We put him down, make the room as dark as possible and it's up to him whether he stays down or not.  If he yells for us, we will go to him, figure out what he needs and inform him that we will not be coming in again. So far this has worked really well.  He's not going to sleep as early as I would like, but he's not yelling/crying/screaming either. I have found that the best way for me to handle him not going to sleep at his bedtime is for me to stop listening to the monitor.  If he needs something he can yell loud enough and that way every little sound that comes from the monitor isn't adding to my anxiety.

So there's the recap.  I think what I a really learning is how to be a parent.  First time parent, first time kid... we've all got a lot to learn.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Oy with the poodles!

A story.

Today I gave Ben some goldfish crackers to snack on while he watched Toy Story.  When I went down to check on him I was met with crackers crushed into the carpet.  Perfect time for a teaching moment.

Mom: "You can't have anymore juice or watch anymore Toy Story till you clean up the crackers."

Child responds calmly with "Jesus?" and points at the picture of Christ.

M: "Yes, that is Jesus, but changing the subject won't work.  Pick up the crackers."

C: "Watch Buzz?"

M: "Pick up crackers."

C: "Buzz? Woody (pronounced "Wooey")?"

M: "Crackers".

C: bursts into tears and stretches out arms towards mom for comfort.

M: "No.  I'm sorry, but you have to pick up the crackers first."

Weeping and wailing and running of nose ensues while mom leaves the room and hopes child will find the error of his ways while congratulating herself for not getting angry and having a level head about the whole thing.  "What a wonderful teaching moment this is, and how splendid it will be to help my child learn here and now in these very moments, the lesson that is to pick up after himself.  By George, I'll have him working by my side in my housework efforts by the end of the day," she thought naively.

Half hour later weeping and wailing is replaced by a shaky little voice by the railing.

C: "Hi"

M: "Hi Ben. Have you picked up the crackers?"

C: nods in the affirmative.

Mom goes to check and sees crackers still there.  Child reaches out for comfort and mom again rejects child.

M: "Pick up the crackers."

Weeping and wailing again for another half hour.

M: having slight change of heart mom thinks to herself "perhaps if I hand him a cracker so he can put in in the container and then give him lots of positive encouragement for his efforts he will get it."

Mom takes child to basement, hands him a cracker and instructs him to put it in the container.

Child won't take cracker.  Child reaches for mom, mom rejects, child cries.

Mom lets child sit in her lap and tries again with the cracker.

Child eats cracker.

Mom says "Seriously!!"  Throws hands in the air and gets out the vacuum.  Tries to make child do the task but realizes that he's not strong enough to push it.

"Oy with the poodles!"

Ben 1, Mom 0
Rematch is just around the corner I'm sure.

My son is a goober.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

What Happens at Two?

Can someone please tell me what happens to the child's brain when he/she turns two?

What is it that clicks into place and they decide that all good behavior previously exhibited and that the parents have come to expect is now to be thrown out the window and replaced by complete and utter chaos?

Why can't the couch cushions actually stay on the couch?  Why do all the toys need to be thrown down the stairs?  Why does water have to be spit out of the mouth rather than swallowed?

What happens at two to make your child decide that instead of going to sleep when you lovingly put them down to bed at their regular bed time, you know the one that hasn't been a problem for well over a year now, that one that allows the parents of said child a few hours together to collect thoughts, wind down for the night, and actually reflect on how much they love their child... why does that seem impossible to do?  Why is it a better idea to spend an hour or two jumping in said bed rather than sleeping in said bed?  Alternately crying out in mock duress to get the parents attention while throwing everything out of the crib including the sock monkey that the child can't seem to be able to get to sleep without.

What happens that makes it so that food suddenly becomes a hassle instead of something enjoyable, which actually was the case previous to turning two?  Something to endure a few bites of so said child can get on to other activities like spitting out water, throwing things down the stairs, or begging for one more showing of Toy Story? All the while getting ornery because they actually are hungry but can't seem to associate satisfied belly with a satisfied mood which is what parents are really going for, especially mom who will be spending the rest of the day with said child and having to put up with said orneriness and thus getting more and more frustrated when child will not cooperate and even pretend to try to keep the d@mn scrambled egg (which he loves by the way) in his mouth for more than two seconds.

What happens at two that makes a parent who thought that she was doing a pretty good job overall suddenly feel like a failure.  One who cannot keep her child under control.  One who just does not know what the crap she's doing and finds herself desperately wanting to escape reality for just a little while by getting lost in a book or a good movie but can't because the cushions on the couch are missing?

Am I coming off too strong?  Too frustrated?  Too needy?

Suggestions are welcome. Real ones.  And for the love of all that's holy please oh please do not tell me that it just gets worse cause that will actually not help at all.  I already know that it will get worse.  I know that the time will go quickly because it seems like yesterday that he was just a babe in my arms instead of this little person running around with such a big personality.  I know the weeks and months will fly by, but the days?  The hours that are here right now?  They seem like an eternity to get through, especially when I'm putting the cushions back on the couch for the umpteenth time.

Friday, January 3, 2014

My Year of Gratitude: A Follow Up

Dear friends,

Sometimes it's hard to find the words.

That's how I feel about this past year.  I know that each year brings its own set of blessings and trials.  And I know that its pretty much impossible to predict what will happen, how it will happen, and why.

This past year has been full of surprises.  Good and bad.  As I wander through my journal and look over my gratitude list from 2013, I am almost overwhelmed with feelings of love and thankfulness.  I am far from perfect and there are several entries where I know I'm searching for the good in a pretty much rotten day.  Sometimes rotten weeks.  But even though they were bad, there was always something to be thankful for even if it was that the day was over.

There were some days that I skipped.  There's an entire week missing in April right after my father passed away.  There was much to be thankful for that week but I just could not write it down.  It had been swallowed up in an impossible sorrow that still lingers just a bit.

Dad's passing was by far the biggest plot twist of the year and even it brought unexpected blessings.  And I'm not talking about the silver linings that happen all the time.  I'm talking about honest to goodness blessings that I'm fairly certain would not have come any other way.  Silver linings are like the chocolate coating that make the pill go down a little smoother. You can find them everywhere if you look.  But the pill is still rather bitter.

The blessing actually changes the pill.  Rather than something bitter and hard to swallow, it becomes sweet.  My father's passing has changed so much. There have been impossible and sacred blessings that have come with having Dad on the "other side".  Those who have passed on are still a part of our lives.  It is something that I did not expect.  It is something that I am eternally grateful for.

If I had to sum up this past year of gratitude it would be filled with words like: God, Friends, Laughter, Family, Ben, David, Eternity, Temples, Dad, Mom, Blessings, Service, Work, Time, Neighbors, and Love.

My life is not perfect, but sometimes... sometimes it feels like it is.

May God bless you this coming year.

~ Lora

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

A Lot More Hope

I love the new year. 

I love the sense of renewal that it brings.  The sense that you can start over, do things that you like again, and leave those you don't particularly care for behind.  

I feel like the chains of oppression that have dragged behind me and weighed me down have been loosened.  This is a time to start over.  A time to try again and do a little better this time.  A time to be gentler with myself and others.  A time to let go of the unnecessary so I can pick up a few more "frivolities" that make life more fun.

My word for this year is HOPE.  I wrote about it a little while ago, before I knew that this would be my word.  My focus. 

It seems almost as if I’ve come full circle on this one.  There was so much hope in my life for such a long time.  Even when I was in despair at finding, or not finding, a husband, deep down inside I still had hope.  Hope for a better future.
Well, I found my husband and my life was better than I had hoped for.  Richer, fuller, much more meaningful. Then we were put into the thick of infertility issues.  That took a great amount of my hope and stomped it into the ground.  I often laughed about a bumper sticker that said “Ever since I gave up hope I feel much better.”  Hope was something that was dangerous.  It could let you fall.  It could trip you up and throw you down.

Not anymore.  Today I choose hope.  I choose faith.  I choose to be positive and believing and hopeful for my future.

Now, keep in mind that this a goal.  Not a reality.  As with all new things there are stumbling blocks.  Things to help us stretch and grow and decide again and again who we want to be.  So if I don't quite make it at first, be patient.  I have a whole year to work on it!

Happy 2014 my friends!  May it be spectacular.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

A Little Bit of Christmas

I absolutely adore Christmas.  This year was no exception.  There was so much more that I wanted to do, but sickness came to our house and hindered quite a few of my good intentions.  But Christmas Eve and Christmas Day... wonderful.

This was our first year celebrating Christmas Eve and Christmas Day at our own home.  We didn't pack up our gifts and head out of town.  We got to set up Christmas under our own tree.  On Christmas Eve we delivered goodies to our neighbors and wished them well.  We sang Christmas carols and read the Christmas Story from the Bible.  We got ourselves in our matching pajamas and enjoyed the magic that surrounds this time of year.  We watched "It's a Wonderful Life" after setting up Christmas around the tree and then snuggled up together awaiting the coming morning.

Christmas is magical.  The feelings of warmth and love that come without packages and bows are even better than the Christmas morning surprises under the tree.  After opening gifts and taking the time to relax and let everything wash over us, we headed to my mom's house and spent time with family.  Laughing, eating, playing games.  The kids entertained each other.  The fire burned warm and bright.  We talked and laughed late into the night and enjoyed every minute of it for these times don't come nearly as often as we would like.  These times of unrestrained laughter and good feelings despite the late hour, usually only come once a year.  It's the only time where whole communities shut down the daily grind and enjoy giving to each other, relaxing with each other.

May we each try to keep the feelings of good will towards men going longer than the holiday.  Longer than the calendar dictates.  You don't have to have Christmas music to have the Spirit of Christ in your home.  You just need Christ, and he can be with you always.

Merry Christmas my friends.  May the coming year be wonderful.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Glory of Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Today I had pumpkin chocolate chip cookies straight from the freezer for dinner.  And Ben’s leftover chicken and rice.  He had the peaches all to himself, and all over himself come to think of it.  Accented with a splash of milk right in the eyes.  Self-inflicted of course.

It’s one of those days.  The days where the dishes from last night are still in the sink.  Oh and the dishes from this morning, this afternoon, and this evening.  There’s even toast still on the table.  It’s dry and crusty to the touch but still looks appetizing to an almost 2 year old.  So does the dried bit of fried egg from breakfast.  To my credit I would not let him have it no matter how much he asked.  I simply pushed it aside to add another layer of dishes in order to feed my son.

I did clean up his room though.  But mostly so I wouldn’t trip over anything in the middle of the night should there be a need to come to his rescue over something dangerous like a shadow.  I really wonder what he sees there.  I'm considering tackling the living room as well.  

I’m trying hard to find balance these days.  Sometimes it comes at the expense of letting all the “important” things go and actually focusing on the really important things, like taking care of yourself.  It’s something that I have neglected lately.  It’s like you get going along in life, everything working out well, and you forget that part of the reason it’s working out so well is because you have taken time to get your own cookies in a pile.  Consistently.  And then you stop.  Not intentionally.  Your routine just gets interrupted.  A family party.  A trip to Salt Lake.  A sick child.  What’s one day going to hurt?  What’s two days?  What’s… how many days has it been?  Why am I feeling overwhelmed with things that shouldn’t be overwhelming?  Oh yeah, because I forgot to keep breathing.  I forgot to do those things that help me be awesome.  Those things that fill my cup and allow me to have something to give to my child, my husband, and others who may or may not need it at the time.  That allow me to give to myself. 

So today, after a wonderful but exhausting yesterday, I decided to call it quits.  The dishes can wait.  My peace of mind cannot.  There are leftovers in the fridge so those who want to eat can.  There is plenty of hot water that can be used tomorrow on the dishes.  Today, right now, I need to breathe.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

A Little Chocolate Goes a Long Way

I went grocery shopping today.

Naturally the aisles are filled with "holiday cheer" as Christmas is drawing every closer.  Bins of toys and crayons and ties that aren't usually found in grocery stores are now there for the duration, hoping you'll impulse buy.  Sparkly ornaments are hung from the ceiling even as the massive pile of frozen turkeys are waiting to be purchased for the Thanksgiving feast.

I make it a practice to bypass the seasonal aisle because I know that I am weak and mint M&Ms call my name starting the very day of Halloween.  In fact this year I had Christmas music playing while I baked our Jack-O-Lantern pizza.  My husband was ashamed.  I didn't care.  I liked the way the music made me feel, and that particular day I needed the way that Christmas music makes me feel.  All good and warm inside, like all is right with the world.

But back to today.  Saturday.  The Saturday before Thanksgiving with the aisles packed with feast shoppers and people in line anxious to get checked out and on with the day.  Today I saw the display for Sweet's Orange Sticks.

And I cried.

Well I started to and then remembered that I was in public.  That I had to talk to the cashier to let her know that I am fine and then let the bagger know I wanted paper instead of plastic.  No cash back.  Yes I found everything just fine.  No, there are no special plans for today.  Just the box of orange sticks stuck in the cart at the last minute that I'm not even sure I'll eat.

The box of orange sticks that made me weepy.  That reminds me of the holidays because we always had them.  They were special.  They were a treat.  They were Dad's favorite. He always had them during Christmas.  Stashed away in a drawer or on a shelf.  As soon as they hit the shelves dad would get some.  We always knew they would be appreciated as a supplement to his gift.  A gift card to the movies taped to a box of orange sticks.  A box stuffed into his stocking because no one is too old to hang up a Christmas stocking.

A Christmas stocking that won't be hung up this year.  A stocking that won't have a box of orange sticks in it.  Or anything else.

I don't talk about it much but I miss my dad something fierce.  If you ask I'll say I'm doing well.  And usually I am, at the moment.  It's the little things.  The box of chocolates.  The John Deere tractor that has become a favorite toy for Ben.  Sorting photographs and finding one of the last taken of him.  Wishing it were a better one.  Wishing you had tried harder, been a little more insistent that he smile at the camera instead of trying to get one on the sly.  It's the pair of reading glasses that sit in the guest room that belong to him... the ones that I carefully dust around and then put back.  The stupid half roll of Certs that is still in my laundry room because mom washed some of his clothes here while he was recovering from a procedure.

So today I bought a box of orange sticks, set them on my counter, and cried.