Princesses and Rainbows

We had the luxury of spending the weekend at my best friends house for their son’s 1st birthday party.  On the eve before the party my boys and their daughter were all playing dress up.

It is known around our house that my younger boy loves princesses, and both of my boys love dressing up.  So when he came out of the bedroom head to toe in pink ruffles and heals it was no surprise to me.

The crown, the dress, tutu skirt, and shoes were adorable.  But, the sword was out of place.  So, I asked him what his plan was with the sword.  He matter-of-factly responded with, “Mom, it’s not a sword” and then as if exasperated at having to explain such a simple concept to me, goes on to say “it’s a magic wand!”

Taken slightly aback, but not wanting to be bested by my 3 year old, I go on to ask my question again… “Son, what is your plan for your WAND?”  With a wave of the wand, and flick of the wrist he explains “It’s for making rainbows!!!” and then struts off to do just that.  Leaving the room to explode in shocked and adoring laughter. 

At that moment, I could not love anyone more.  I simply adore that boy. 

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The results show

I work hard to be a good parent.  I quit working to be home with my children.  I read and keep up on the various parenting styles and the latest approaches to dealing with tantrums.  I listen to my children and try to be present.  I love my boys more than words can express.  But, boy o’boy do these kids frustrate me.

I am trying to reconcile how to let my kids be kids, while attempting to maintain my sanity and keeping our house erect.  Is it possible?

How do we put aside our quirks and personality nuances and allow the little people around us to exist and be happy?  I am struggling with this very idea.  Often times I am finding my rules and limitations are what is standing in the way of our families peaceful existence.  That is not to say that my rules and limits aren’t healthy and safe.  I am just pointing out that I am usually the one with the limits and rules, as well as their enforcer.

I want my kids to express their true personalities, to be comfortable in their own skin, and to be confident with their decisions.  I feel like they wont learn these lessons if I am telling them “No” all of the time.  I am certain that I am over simplifying it, but I nonetheless feel guilty with the amount of times in a day I am saying No.

Redirecting 1 child was much easier than attempting to redirect 2 children.  Especially when the second child is often times in danger of hurting himself.

I am still working hard to be a great parent, but it is taking its toll on my self esteem these last few weeks.  I am slowly coming to terms with the changes that I need to make, the limits that I need to set and enforce, and rethinking the way I communicate with the kiddos.  I am dreading the work, but I long for the results.

Baby Love

Remembering back to when Elliott was a wee one–I recall not liking the baby phase AT ALL.  I suspect that my anxiety played a role in that.  But moreover, I suspect that my lack of experience and exposure to babies in general was more the culprit.

This time around, I am in love with the baby stage.  My wee one is the.most.adorable baby I have ever seen (of course!). And, granted there are several super duper cute kids around these days.  My eyes are fixated on mine.  He dishes out smiles by the handful, he laughs and giggles with ease.  He is a great sleeper (this is subjective of course).  He rarely fusses (again subjective).  What more could a Mama want?

My older son is adjusting well to life with a younger brother.  He hasn’t tried to hurt Spencer yet, unless you count trying to give him water from a sippy cup or putting the corners of his lovie in Spencer’s nose.  And he is only slightly jealous of him and his toys.  Elliott has clearly marked his territory though, by licking each and every teething toy that Spencer owns.  As well as taking several other non-teething toys and calling them him own.

I feel like we are finally finding our groove.  Things are getting easier and having two kids in more comfortable.  It was tough for the first 10-12 weeks.

summiting K2–Elliott’s 2nd dental visit

Today we took Elliott to his second dental appointment of his young life.  His first appointment was when he was 14 months old.  He didn’t have any area’s we were concerned about, but we do want him to become familiar with the experience and stave off any potential cavities.


We also have dental insurance that covers some of his visits, and found an incredible pediatric dentist. The office is designed for kids and adults alike.  There is a coffee machine in the waiting area with latte’s and all the fixins.  There is a video game room, a TV area, and a play area for the little ones.  Very comfortable and relaxing.  


They give new patients an “I’m Special” sticker when they arrive.  They are very friendly and allow the children to get comfortable with the tools and office equipment before the dentist comes in.  They were careful to close the door when they heard other children crying.  The dentist himself took some time to talk with Elliott directly before starting the exam.  


Now the exam was something else all together for our wee lad.  He was hysterical for the 5 minutes it may have taken for the dentist to look at his teeth.  He was sweaty and stressed when it over.  He didn’t want to look at or talk with the dentist for a full 10 minutes while he counseled us on good dental health, positive eating habits, and strongly advised us to kick the pacifier habit.  But, by the end, he said ‘thank you’ to the dentist and gave him a high five.  


He didn’t notice any problem area’s except for the front 2 upper teeth, which we admittedly have trouble brushing.  And the hygienist informed us that his upper lip was tightly affixed to the gums on the top and that may contribute to the challenge.  They recommended we floss the upper 2 teeth, but that a traditional cleaning wasn’t needed as there was no plaque.


The dentist informed us that he had all 20 of his baby teeth (which was news to me–I thought we were still waiting for his big molars to come in).  Yes, I win the bad Mom award for the week.  Hmm, perhaps that was why he was so sensitive when I was in charge of brushing his teeth…  Now, I have a knot in my tummy for being not only a bad Mom, but an insensitive one as well.  Well, on the bright side we are done with teething!  Hooray for that.  


Elliott had a less severe but still valiant meltdown when the hygienist brushed and flossed his teeth.  But was much happier there as he got to pick out his tooth brush and a toy.  


The dentist offered some good advice that I wanted to share with you, dear internet.  We have tried just about everything we could to get Elliott to warm up to the idea of tooth brushing.  He would throw K2 size tantrums when it came time to brush.  We tried different locations to brush, letting him brush first, letting him brush our teeth, singing a song, silence during brushing, changing the time we brushed, getting new toothbrushes and toothpaste, letting him pick them out, a musical tooth brush, forcing him to brush through restraint, sticker charts (for many, many months), prizes for a completed sticker chart, stickers as rewards for brushing, and shamefully last: fear tactics of eminent cavities and threats of black teeth.  Did I mention education in there also?  We have several books about teeth, dental heath and good brushing habits.


So, the advice he gave was to sing the ABC’s while brushing.  He said the song is familiar, it lasts the correct amount of time, and there is a known end every time.  He also suggested brushing with your child post-bath when they are the most relaxed and with them wrapped in a towel, so you can restrain their hands and arms.  Lastly he said to get them in the habit of laying down to brush since this is how they will examine him at the dentist’s office.


All and in, he scored a 94% on his dental report card which is far better than either of his parents scored on their latest visits with the dentist and hygienist.   Next visit–6 months.   

Welcome to the family Ode!

I am feeling much better about myself these days. I am sorry to have left such a dreary, negative post up for so long. The past three weeks have been action packed.

Three weeks ago today, I was rear-ended. After work the hubby met Elliott and I for dinner. And after dinner, Elliott wanted to ride home with his Dad. The freeway was packed from commuter traffic ( we went to an early dinner and were done around 5:45pm), so I decided to take side streets home and Jeff followed me. Jeff drives faster than I do, and he ended up passing me before the lanes merged into one. We both stopped at a light to turn right, and he went, and I waited for on coming traffic to turn. As I eased out into the intersection to prepare for my turn, the gal behind me slammed into me.
We both pulled over, exchanged info professionally and politely, and went on our way. Neither of us was hurt and both of our vehicles were drivable. I have never been in an auto accident, or had so much as a ticket so I had no idea what was in store for me regarding insurance, etc. But, since my car was banged up badly, I filed a claim. The other gals insurance took 100% liability and cut me a check for $3200.
After doing some research and talking with several people and body shops–we decided to sell my car ‘as is’ and buy another vehicle. The timing for all of this was perfect since our Credit Union approved us for an auto loan on line and they were having a used car auto event that next week. I did some looking around at dealers, CarMax, Autotrader, etc. and then we went to the event. I was set on a Toyota Highlander that I found on line, but we walked out with a Honda Odyssey. Which was my husbands suggestion and preference.
It took a few weeks to get used to the fact that I now drive a mini-van, so after getting over the initial stigma I can say with confidence that I love the vehicle. It has all of the bells and whistles that we need for our growing family, and it gets the same gas mileage as my VW. I think that it actually makes me a safer driver too. I feel more parental and more responsible when I am driving the mini-van-therefore I drive slower and more cautiously.
The best part is that I put the VW up for sale on Friday, and sold it Sunday afternoon! I was saddened to see it go, since we have been together for 6 years. But, it went to a good home and the gal who bought it needed a car ASAP as she was in a car accident that totaled her car.
From a budgeting perspective we have no business adding a car payment to our tally. However, we put all of the insurance payout and the VW’s sale towards Ode (my new car’s name) and hope to pay it off as soon as possible. Neither of us like to have debt and work hard to payoff loans ASAP.

Milestones-yeah!

Brag time for this Mama.  Wow, when the child development books say that kids language abilities simply explode–I took it with a grain of salt.  However, the last couple of days have been magical for Lil E.  

He wakes up in the morning talking in (short 3 word) sentences.  Some of the words are only understood by me, and some not at all.  But, I can understand alot of what he is trying to communicate.  It is awesomely amazing.  I don’t have the  words to express how excited I am about this development.  It makes my heart swell with pride to have a 2 sided conversation with my son.
Other things that are making the list of development milestones — he can take his shoes and socks off, he can unzip his jammies and take the top part off (which is how I found him this am in his crib), and if I send him for a specific pair of shoes he can bring both of them back to me. 
I taught him the itsybitsy-spider and sometimes I catch him singing and doing the hand motions by himself.  When I ask him about it-he gets very shy, turns his head to the side, avoids eye contact and denies it.  Then when our eyes meet again he laughs a big laugh-like a little jokester.
He also ‘reads’ books to himself when he thinks we aren’t paying attention.  He will open a book and ‘read’ the words out loud.  One of the most adorable things I have ever seen.
He loves to imitate–if Mommy is vacuuming, he needs to mimic me.  When we read Maisy Cleans Up and Maisy is vacuuming- he points at the picture and says Mama, and then points to the vacuum and says it.

If I have a shovel, he wants one (and wont settle for anything else).  If Mommy is cooking–he wants to help.  Same with Dad–if Dad is looking through the vinyl he wants to help.  

A few of the words I heard him say today are:
blue whale, Obama, no more pee pee, penis, Elmo,
guitar, fire truck, trash,
truck, yogurt, cheese, outside, poop, apples, eye, cat, ball, big brown, Dr. Seuss, butt.

And because I have a terrible memory–I also wrote a list of signs that he knows.  The picture is him signing cookie–a sign he does about 25 times a day.  

More, eat, all done, milk, water, butterfly, pacifier, green, blue, red, yellow, play, cow, horse, play, spider, sheep, frog, elephant, dog, cat, bird, duck, carrot, banana, orange, apple, airplane, helicopter, car, ball, book, fish, boat, ice cream, grapes, strawberries, yogurt, cracker, work, tree, flower, pear, shoes, socks, cheese, bath, brush teeth, brush hair, hat, wash hands, sun, tiger, pig, skeleton, snake, mouse.

Oh, and lets not forget that he now runs, climbs, and gets into EVERYTHING!

Period.

As many of you know, we are wanting another child.  **if this is already TMI–you are advised to stop reading now**  I had my IUD removed in April of last year, and after some waiting and regulating –I regained my period.  We have been without birth control from several months, and I havent conceived yet. 

With Elliott, I got pregnant the first month we tried.  Quite a shock, really.  We only talked about having a baby for a week or two, and the next thing we knew the pee stick was positive.  Talk about a shocker.

I thought that it would be easy to get pregnant again.  But, it has taken more time than I thought.  And, I have a hard time waiting for things, hate surprises, and want things to happen NOW.  So, you can imagine that my frustration level is high.  To make matters worse–my cycle is all out of whack.  This month I ovulated early, and got my period after only 21 days.  Darn you mother nature.
I have been exceptionally tired the last 2 or 3 nights.   And along with being impatient and tired–I am also a worrier.  Naturally I started wondering what could be wrong with me.  Did something happen during my C-section and now I am unable to conceive.  Of course, nothing is physically wrong with me, but I discovered something interesting.
You can break a woman’s menstrual cycle into 2 parts–the first part being different for all women. And, the second part beginning on the day of ovulation.  It is in this second half we are all similar. From the time you ovulate until you start you period is 12-16 days*.  This is according to the FAM method book I am re-reading (since I apparently didn’t read it thoroughly enough  the first time around).  
This is an awesome discovery for me, as it allows me to identify exactly when I will get my period each month so long as I track the day I ovulate (which also explains why my cycle is so short this month).  It will also tell me how many days each cycle will be.  You may be wondering why I don’t already know this being a mature woman of 34 (advanced maternal age in OB speak)!!!!  Well, since I have been on birth control my whole life; I never needed to track my cycle since it was chemically regulated.  
Lets hope that this awesome discovery will help me get knocked up this month!  Yeah for biology.
*as with all things in nature there are occasional exceptions

Park Ettiquette-lesson number one

As a first time parent and someone who considers herself ‘aware’, I often have moral, ethical and parental debates after returning from a play group or interaction with other kids and their parents.  Today the incident was at the kids park in our ‘hood.  It is semi gated, and we left the stroller and the dog (we stopped by the dog park first) on the outside of the park.  There were a few other people at the park–2 Mom’s with their daughters on the swings and a Dad with his son and their unleashed dog in the sand area.  Can you see where this is going?  

Elliott loves animals–and hasn’t learned yet that some (most?) animals aren’t fond of small children.  Particularly the kind of kids (like Elliott) that pull their ears, tail and fur. Along with the ear piercing screeches of joy.  Luckily I intercepted him before he so lovingly attacked this dog.  I was verbally coaching him about how you have to ask the owner if the dog is friendly and if you can pet them first, all of the things you read about in the parenting books.  
The Dad and dog owner was intuitive and saw where I was headed and told me No, in fact the dog wasn’t friendly and was a bit temperamental.  He went on to say that the dog often growled at kids and was very protective over his son.  All the while the small dog was offering E a guttural growl and a nervous demeanor.  I carefully extracted my kid from the dogs periphery and said calmly to the owner–perhaps then, it would be a good idea to put your dog on a leash, particularly while you are in a kids park.  
I felt bad about it after I said it–typically I am not confrontational.  If you are a reader of this blog you will know I am opinionated.  But, usually I voice my thoughts and feelings here–and not to peoples faces.  The dog owner didn’t say anything to me in response.  We both just separated.  But, I noticed that he did in fact leash his dog shortly thereafter.  
What I wonder is why he felt it was ok to bring a temperamental dog to a kids park and allow it off leash?  Was I wrong to say something to him?  Did I over step my bounds?  Am I being to snooty?  Would I have said the same thing to another Mom?

parenting has its struggles

There has been so much on my mind lately that I cant keep up with the mind race.
The state of the economy is my primary worry. But, so many other things are swirling around in my brain.

I am trying to keep up with all of the blogs I read. And I am especially moved by 2pinklines recent posts. Please visit and send her a heartfelt cyber hug. Sometimes life dishes out bounty and love in divided and complicated ways.

I have been trying to get pregnant for several months. I keep trying to convince myself that when it happens–that I will realize that the time was perfect. And until then…the time just wasn’t right. But, every month that passes where I am not pregnant is small, temporary blow to my psyche. My personalty is such that–once I get something in my mind, there is not a way for me to let it go. I get fixated on the results, blinded often. Waiting for something like a positive pregnancy test month after month is not something that digests well with me. It doesn’t fit into my “I want it now” mindset. It does force me to be patient, to trust the universe, and to keep looking towards the future. Darn you- logical mind.

I spoke with a girlfriend yesterday who has a new baby and was reminded of how steep the learning curve was in the early months and continues to be. My girlfriend was worried that her baby wasn’t sleeping as much as she should (all her other friends infants sleep longer or through the night), she was worried about her milk supply (was she producing enough, is her baby eating enough), about all of the decisions and responsibilities you inherit with parenthood. All of the normal new parent worries couched with a lack of sleep and impaired decision making abilities as a result. The part that made me the most sad was that as Mom’s we should be supporting other Mom’s, we should be helping them, we should be closer and more accepting. I am saddened by how often new moms are uncertain of themselves (myself as the primary example). It feels like we lack a fundamental piece in the parenting equation–confidence. I don’t know if this is something that is inherent in people who grow up around babies and younger siblings or if you just need to grow into your roll as a parent. What I hang onto is advise that a good friend of mine gave me that went something like this–The great part about parenting is that if you are informed and your decisions are made with love—there are no wrong ones for you or your family. If only we could all digest and live this in the early months.