How My Four-Year-Old Taught Me About Optimism With a Game of Chutes and Ladders

It always amazes me how different each of the boys are.  They really do have different personalities, likes, dislikes, and of course, funny sayings.  Lately, D (4.5 years) has been obsessed with the game – Chutes and Ladders.  He has played it with different people, but God bless Grammy for playing with him over and over and over again when she came to visit a few weeks ago.  Oh, to have a grandmother's patience!

Chutes and Ladders

D started half day pre-k yesterday.  He has stayed home with me all of his life, except the two times he went to Parents' Day Out (it was his idea to go so after he didn't want to go anymore, and since the rest of us minus Daddy were staying home, I let him quit.  Some may say that was bad, but I wasn’t going to force a three-year-old to go if he doesn't want to.)  He also went with his older brother three hours a week to "school" with a teacher friend from church, which was a very beneficial supplement to homeschool.  He learned so much and had fun, but he was also the only other student besides the Captain.

So, I NEVER thought he would actually enjoy pre-k.  Monday was the first day and he didn't shed a tear.  In fact, I was kind of hanging around his chair as he began coloring his paper and he turned to me and said "ok, you can go now."  I was SO proud of him, but yikes, rip my heart out, kid!  Yesterday there were near tears, but he ended up having a great day and even earned a certificate for good behavior!  He can't remember what he did to earn it, but hey, he's four.  

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Parenting is: “Admitting You Don’t Have It All Together…”

Parenting.  It’s a never ending learning experience.  All kids are different.  You know all of the sayings.  So, Baby Brother takes a lot of naps in my arms, in the carseat, or in the Boba, which allows for a lot of time with the good ol’ smart phone.  As Baby Brother was napping in my arms this morning, I happened upon this tweet from Jon Acuff this morning and you know, it’s good:

Jon Acuff Twitter

I love to post pictures of my family because that’s about all I have the time for.  Blog posts take time to conjure up.  And I am THRILLED to read blog post after blog post about parents not having it all together.  It IS a trend, but it’s a wonderful one.  Makes all of us moms feel less like the Stepford moms and more real with less guilt.  (maybe)

It seems like I haven’t had a personal post here in MONTHS.  Time has really gotten away from me lately.  Apparently, having three kids is way harder than having two.  All those people who say “going from 1-2 is hard, going from 2-3 is easy” are so, so wrong.  I have really taken it easy with Baby Brother, though, and not being all Nap Nazi has really helped the stress level around here.  The Captain had to be in his crib at all designated nap and bedtimes or else we were doomed for the next 24 hours.  He was a very interesting first child for us.  We did the best we could to survive and he has turned out pretty well, so far.  D was more laidback and thus, made it easier on us.  Baby Brother is laid back like D, but he’s also got his own sleep issues like his older brother.  I blame their sleep issues on one thing:  The Paci.  D was the only one who took a paci and the only one to sleep through the night early on.

But, back to the point.  Three kids has been tricky, but I think we have all settled in nicely after 9 (!) months.  We have also started homeschooling which some would say is beyond ridiculous when you’re looking for less stress, but in our experience, traditional school=stress and anxiety.  Maybe our kids are just super attached, but homeschooling is working well for us.  This isn’t necessarily what we will be doing for the next 18 years, but we aren’t going to stress about it.  It’s working now and that’s all that matters.  All three boys are thriving and I am enjoying spending time with them.  It has been tricky to nail down a schedule that works for us (especially with a baby who doesn’t do crib naps often,) but it’s coming together.  I feel like their little brains are coming alive after a summer of too much TV and neglected blocks, Duplos, and puzzles are finally getting much love.

Baby Brother is into everything.  EV.RY.THING.  Including the potty.  Oy.  The only thing that makes me not cringe about that is the fact that the boys are pretty gung ho about the cleaning toilets chore.  Phew!  We are working on keeping the toilet lids closed or at the very least, the door to the bathroom closed.

Soccer season has started and both the Captain and D are playing.  They’re loving it and different practices on different days has taught us some serious time management and planning skills. I honestly cannot imagine doing anything….ever…if the Captain was in public kindergarten.  Some days we have a whole day to prepare for something simple and we are still late.  How does that happen?  Well, it’s probably due to someone having to um….poop…but well, it happens.

So, yeah, three kids has really made this blog have fewer posts, us to have less sleep, less money, more broken objects, less sanity, etc, etc, but it has been a huge blessing.  We love our little guys so, so much.  Our hearts are full and our family is complete, even though our sentences may not be all of the time.

IMG_0337

 

 

My Dream Come True – “The Happiest Baby Guide to Great Sleep” (birth through 5 years)

I am participating in a book review campaign with One2One Network. I received this book from Harper Collins for the purposes of reviewing it. I have not received compensation. All opinions stated are my own.

book

As a mother of two, there's something I'm addicted to that I don't get enough…..good sleep.  If you've read my blog at all, you know that the Captain, age 4, still wakes up in the middle of the night and comes into our room to sleep on the floor.  Sometimes he wakes us up, sometimes he doesn't.  He has always been a horrible sleeper, so this is the best it has been and it's still not good.  As a first time mom, I didn't even CONSIDER that my darling angel wouldn't be an awesome sleeper.  I remember reading another sleep book or two when he was a few months old.  I was exhausted, hubby was exhausted, and the Captain was…..well, he was Captain Fussybuckets!  We tried a lot of things with him and some worked, some didn't.  I really, really wish I had "The Happiest Guide to Great Sleep" book by Dr. Harvey Karp BEFORE the Captain was born.

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My Life Before Kids

Sometimes I remember back to what it was like….our life with no kids.  We had one computer, one TV, two dogs, and that was pretty much it.  What on earth did I do before I had kids?  Hubby and I got married 2 weeks after he graduated from college and 6 months after I had, we quickly moved and started our lives as youth minister and wife at a new church.  It was a blast.  We loved those first few years.  I remember the summer after we got married, we got a dog, I searched for a job, had 13 interviews before I actually GOT a job in September, spent a lot of time at youth events, and I had a fun time playing "housewife," cooking, organizing, and all that jazz.

Once I got a job as a kindergarten teacher, though, I hit the ground running.  It was like nothing I had ever experienced.  Student teaching was very tame compared to a full time teaching job.  There was no way I could possibly be prepared for that!  Despite the fact that I took the place of an older, wiser teacher that had been moved across town to another school after school had already been in session for a few weeks, I had my own classroom with very little help.  It was chaotic and a huge learning experience, but I really did love it.  

After three years of teaching, Hubby and I decided that we wanted to have kids.  It took a while to get pregnant, but it was the perfect timing.  I was able to "retire" from my teaching job at about 4 1/2 months pregnant, which allowed me time to myself and Hubby before Captain Fussybuckets was born.  I remember lounging around a LOT that summer, playing dumb games on the computer and being as lazy as possible.  But really, I think every woman should be able to do that before their first child is born because that time will never, ever happen again!!!  Well, until the Kid moves out, but even then….I have a feeling that the worrying and thinking about children, even when they're adults, causes no woman to truly rest like she did before children!

Man, looking back now, we sure have aged a lot since having kids, but it's been worth it!

before kids

So there you have it, my life before kids.  What was your life like before kids?  Will it ever be the same again?

 

April Blog Writing Challenge

New Year’s Resolutions…For Your Spouse? Regarding Parenting?

I have never been much of a resolution girl.  I made them, I broke them, I felt guilty, I moved on.  So, the past few years, I haven’t made any resolutions.  But this year, hubby said he was serious about losing weight and he made a resolution to follow the South Beach Diet as closely as he can for as long as he can.  We both did the SBD two years ago and he lost a lot of weight.  It’s definitely not easy, but I secretly think women need carbs more than men.  haha  So this year, he’s going low carb and I’m giving up wheat products because those are my big temptations, especially bread and cookies.  Mmmmm  Although, I’m learning that you can make just about anything without wheat, but I’ve heard you can lose weight just by eliminating wheat.  We’ll see!  I think that lifestyle changes, including diet and exercise are what really works but it has to start somewhere and this is it.

But then the hubby suggested that we make resolutions for each other.  Hmm…  Honestly, had he said that last year, I would’ve probably gotten mad.  Who wants to hear that their spouse wants them to change?  But, last year was really good for us as a couple and we’re much better at the communication thing now.  That wasn’t a resolution for 2012 but God kinda kicked us in the pants and made us do it, so … yeah.  Sometimes, most times, good things happen when you haven’t made a resolution for them to and something MAKES you change.

Anyway, so the resolutions for your spouse.  I agreed that it was a good idea and thought about it for awhile.  He wanted to know something that I would like for him to work on to better himself.  He was already pledging to lose weight and be healthier and I was going to help him achieve it.  (Let me tell you, catering to a certain diet is hard at times!)  So, I thought and thought.  Then I looked at his pile of laundry on the bedroom floor by the door.  Yup!  You guessed it!  I made HIM a resolution to *try* to put his dirty clothes in the laundry room.  I’m always sweeping the house, looking for dirty clothes and I think it might help it if worked on disciplining himself a bit to pick his clothes up.  That way, I’m happy, he’s forming a healthy routine that the boys will pick up on (the Captain DOES have to take his dirty clothes to the laundry room already!) and the house might look a bit nicer.  So far, so good.  We’ll see where it goes but the important thing is that I’m not gonna nag him if he fails to remember his resolution….and that is huge, too.

pile

He took a bit longer to come up with a resolution for me.  But, as I was talking to him about the class I signed up to teach at church and the children’s worship that we lead every six weeks or so, he realized what my resolution should be….to actually work on and complete my lesson mid-week.  He knows that I’m huge at procrastinating this kind of thing and while I’m good at packing for trips early, buying Christmas gifts early, and going shopping to prepare for the week’s meals, I’m HORRIBLE at waiting until the last minute to plan lessons.  So, I’m happy to report that I just finished my lesson for Sunday this morning and he and I will work on Children’s worship tomorrow.  Resolution for the week…CHECK!

This also inspired me to think about other things that need to change for the better and I decided to make a couple more resolutions or acknowledging that a change should be made to better yourself and others, as I would prefer to call it.  One is regarding parenting.  So many times, the Captain or Baby D will ask me to do something and I’ll tell them to wait or hold on or flat out “not today.”  My goal is to stop, acknowledge what they’re asking and follow through if possible.  Now that does NOT mean that if the Captain asks to go to the store and buy him a new toy that I am going to.  (In fact, after birthdays and Christmas, my goal is to NOT buy him any more toys for a long, long time.  haha!)  So yesterday, I played Chutes and Ladders with the family, even though I needed to do the dishes.  And this morning, I pretended to be the Captain’s horse….for about 3 minutes until my knees hurt from doing it.  He didn’t care!  He was satisfied and happy that I stopped to play with him at something that was NOT my idea.  I know that I’ll have to say no sometimes, but if I actually stop and think as to WHY I’m telling him no and if it’s even valid, I can make a good decision.  Let’s face it, the boys will be happy if I plan their activities all day long but if they can actually take credit for a good idea or activity and everyone participates, they will gain self confidence and be able to effectively boss people around in the future.  HAHA!

Do you have resolutions for yourself?  Your spouse?  Or maybe specific resolutions for different areas in your life?  I’d love to hear about them!

3 year old

Monday was Fail Day!

It always seems that all of my "oopsies" or "fails" come in one day.  Why is that?  Yesterday was one of those days.  It started off well…  I woke up a little early to get everything ready because it was hubby's day off and we had a dentist appointment.  I packed the diaper bag and got the kids dressed and took them to a friend's house for her to watch them for a couple of hours.  Hubby and I went to the dentist, which scares some, but not me.  I think it's because my parents took me to the dentist twice a year, every year when I was little.  I have only had one cavity *knock on wood* and since becoming a mother, the dentist chair is one I can just kick back and relax in!  HA!  But not yesterday….the dental hygienist had me sit in the chair and was leaning me back to get a better angle for the x-rays.  Well, the chair wouldn't stop going back, so I was almost upside down in this thing, holding on for dear life, while the hygienist was freaking out!  I was just laughing when she finally got it to stop, but she was mortified.  Since I was in my mellow dentist place, it didn't really bother me, it was funny.  Had I been an older lady, however, yeah, that would've stunk.  But it was fine….then the dentist came in to check my teeth later and I had been looking at my x-rays on the screen.  Now, I am very "in tune" with my teeth, and I was thinking that something was off with the x-ray machine because all of these white lines were on my teeth on the x-rays.  Then the hygienist said to the dentist "check the filling in the front."  That's when I said "I don't have a filling in the front."  They kind of ignored me and moved on with their dental talk.  But then the dentist told the hygienist to exit out of the x-rays and what do you know, those weren't my teeth anyway!  So here I was, freaking out that I had all of these cavities and they weren't even my teeth!  They were the teeth of an older man with caps and fillings galore!  Phew!  My teeth received a clean bill of health and we moved on.  Hubby didn't have any cavities either and the kids had a blast at my friend's house.  

Later in the day, we decided to go to Chick-Fil-A because they were having a "Battle of the Drumlines" to raise money for a great organization for kids.  The boys LOVE bands and drumlines so I was sure they'd love this free entertainment!  But first, I had to swing by Target.  It's become a joke in our family that Target always makes Baby D have to poop and last night was no different.  I was pushing him in the cart, he was singing "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" and "Jingle Bells" at the top of his lungs while Daddy entertained the Captain somewhere else in the store.  I was looking through the clothes on sale and I kept smelling something awful.  I honestly was thinking to myself "wow, did someone poop on the floor or something? It smells awful!"  Hello, Baby in cart.  But I never thought of that until the hubby comes over and says "Did he poop?"  Uh….duh.  The baby in the cart…..  So I took him to the family bathroom and thank goodness I had packed extra wipes and diapers in the bag that morning for the baby-sitter because honestly, I usually open the wipes case and there's 1 dried up wipe in there!  But not today, today I had about 15!  YES!  So I changed his yucky diaper on the likely never cleaned diaper changing station (yuck).  And of COURSE he had leaked onto his pants, so I had to take those off and my sweet little toddler had to walk around Target pantsless.  I used to keep pants and diapers in the car, so I had the hubby go check.  Nope.  And it was actually COLD outside, so we had to buy him some more pants, which I did and we quickly left because it was time for the drumline competition at CFA.  

Now, we're in Texas which means, usually, there's no need for a jacket or a coat.  But of course it's actually cold here now, 44 degrees as I type this, and the boys just had long sleeved shirts on, so they weren't into standing outside and listening to the drumlines AT all.  The reason we came in the first place… and they didn't care because they were hungry, cold, and probably just wanted to play on the playground.  So, we went in, ordered our food, washed our hands, sat down and…..as you probably could've guessed, Baby D had Round 2 of his messy diaper explosion.  Hubby went to get a diaper and wipes out of the van, I changed him, we ran out of wipes and that was the last diaper.  So we washed our hands again and quickly scarfed down our food.  The Captain wanted to go play on the playground but the awesome mom that I am said we didn't have time because I figured Baby D wasn't done.  So I handed him a cup of lemonade and that seemed so make him feel better (awesome mom, remember?)  We went home, all was right in the world again, and my day of fails was finally over.  Now I must remember to pack extra diapers, wipes, shirts, undies, pants, and maybe  a couple of hoodies for the wacky winters in Texas!!

I wish you a fail-less day!

shopping

 

Soft or Strong? #CharminVote

As a parent, there are many times when I have to be soft and gentle with my kids.  Their emotions are raw and their feelings get hurt easily.  I believe that it's important to be soft with them and consider their feelings at all times.  It's amazing the things that Captain Fussybuckets remembers, even from very early on in his life.  Sure, there are times when we are short on patience, but I don't want anything that I say or do to damage his little spirit in any way.  

I am always telling the boys "be gentle" when they play together because they like to play rough.  This is normal, but they need to learn guidelines for their play so they don't get hurt.  I think it's a natural instinct to be soft and gentle with babies, but sometimes we forget as they get older.  Captain Fussybuckets just laughs and giggles when we tickle him or get a bit rough with him, but he's quick to tell us when enough is enough.  It's good that they learn these boundaries and learn to stand up for themselves, so they can tell friends and others that enough is enough.

That's where it's good to be strong for your kids.  Being a positive example of standing up for yourself and being strong enough to say no to someone who is bothering you is a very valuable asset to kids these days.  Bullying is a huge problem and these kids have got to learn to stand up for themselves AND tell a trusted adult what is going on.  If that adult does nothing (shame on them!) then it's important for kids to perservere and find someone who will listen.  It's our responsibility as parents and adults to be strong for kids and have the courage to not brush it off as "kids being kids."  Stand up for what is right, model appropriate behavior, and show kids how to act.  They're not going to learn the right way on their own, so it's our job to teach kids how to act appropriately and know that they can trust us to protect them and give them accurate advice and help when needed.

All the deep (but very important!) stuff aside, now on to the silly side, which, it's always good to mix some silly stuff in along with the hard stuff, in my opinion!  It's an election year and if you're like me, you're already tired of the political rants on Facebook and the oh so obnoxious ads, on both sides of the debate.  Why our politicians and political fans can't take the good attributes of our children instead of the bad, I'll never know!  But, Charmin is lightening the mood with their new Facebook challenge:  "Ultra Soft vs. Ultra Strong."  Take a look at these "campaign videos" and see what the challenge is all about:

So what's your preference?  Soft or Strong?  Visit Charmin's Facebook page to vote for your choice!

Keep on being silly, strong, and soft when you need to be, for your kids and all the kids in your life!

Disclosure:  I was compensated for this blog post as part of the SocialMoms and Charmin blogging program. The opinions and ideas expressed here are my own. For more blog posts on this topic, click here.

It’s Okay to Mix the Colors.

Teachers and OCD moms everywhere are about to cringe.  Ready?
 
It's okay to mix the colors.  It's okay!  Two months ago, I couldn't say those words.  But now, I can.  After my friend Carla told me that her 2 year old likes the way the Play-Doh colors look when mixed and pointed out that Play-Doh IS fairly inexpensive, well…..I stopped being so OCD about it.  I tried to remind Captain Fussybuckets to keep the colors separate, but when I left him with his Play-Doh cake making station to tend to Baby D one day…..I came back to a blob of Play-Doh.  And you know what?  It was kinda cool the way the pink was streaked in the blue.  I took a deep breath.  It really IS okay to mix the colors.  
 
Super cool swirly heart "cookie!"
 
 
 
 And how could you make this awesome cinnamon roll without somewhat mixing the colors??
 
Play-Doh is awesome.  It helps you to release stress and let go of things, like color mixing.
 
HOWEVER…..
 
 
 
 
It's gonna take awhile to get over my true phobia.
 
 
 
Play-Doh crumbs.
 
 
Because for some reason, my 2 1/2 year old loves to crumble the Play-Doh.  *sigh*  
(Just like his father and grandfather like to leave toast crumbs in the butter.)
 

The Blur: Parenting An Infant

We're moving to our new house this weekend…if all goes as planned.  If you didn't know, we've been living with my parents for 3+ months to look for a job, get rejuvenated, and "bond" our family, if you will…  We moved here when Baby D was almost 2 months old.  We, of course, thought we wouldn't be here but 6ish weeks.  Well, God had other plans.  Plans that were well worth waiting for.  We're excited about our move and hubby's new job.  We have enjoyed living here and will miss Grammy & Grampy, for sure.  They were a tremendous help and the time that the boys got to spend with them was priceless.

Back to the story, Baby D started sleeping through the night soon after we moved here.  (and let's pray that he continues to do so!!!)  :o)  But I sit here thinking what it was like when we first moved in and I barely remember any of it.  WHY is that?  I was thinking the other day about how I don't remember much from this part of Fussybuckets' life.  Of course then, I had a good reason to feel like a zombie because he was sleeping horribly, up every 45 mins – 3 hours, and continued to sleep horribly for a while.  Thank goodness for pictures!

parenting an infant
Two months old

 

5 months old – Easter

I remember the day the above picture was taken, simply because it was Easter.  He was sleeping better at night, but I remember trying to get him to sleep at church.  He refused to!  He just kept popping his head up and looking around at all the people!  He always has been curious and interested in other people!  I think he stayed up for 6 or so hours!  It was crazy!

 

 

6 1/2 months old

This is when it starts getting good and the memories come flooding back.  My friends have told me that you just gotta survive for the first 6 months, and then it gets better!  I really do believe that.  Baby D is 5 1/2 months old and getting more and more fun all of the time.  He is able to stay awake longer and while he never does anything at the same time every day, he's falling into a routine.  He's still taking short naps, but he throws a long one in there every once in awhile. 

 

 

 
 
I don't know why "The Blur" exists.  I mean, most of us look forward to the day that we have kids.  We are filled with excitement when pregnant, make all of these big plans, and then in my case at least, it was just survival those first few months with Fussybuckets.  How is that even cool?  OH well.  Like I said, at least we have pictures.  And air conditioners…  ha!  My dad was telling me that the summer when he was a newborn, the highs were over 100 every day for like, 90 days.  (correct me if I'm wrong, Dad!) My grandma had FOUR other kids to take care of, and no air conditioner.  I cannot even imagine.  Our ancestors were tough, amazing people.  Wow.
 
So, I'm trying to be super thankful for what we have.  We really are spoiled, you know.  And I'm also trying to take lots of pictures and be mindful to create positive, memorable experiences with my kids!  Often times I fail, but I just gotta keep trying!
 
Have a great day!