Attempting to Understand My Child

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Don’t you just think that this motherhood stuff is hard? This parenting stuff is hard? I do. Not just the waking up at 5am, which I am currently doing thanks to my two youngest kids, but the even more so the stuff you deal with that doesn’t immediately come with a name. My 10-yr-old is the most difficult for me to parent. He pushes my limits, tests all my patience, and knows exactly how to rile me up. It has taken so much time and reflection, mostly after I have blown up, for me to get to where I am better able to see the storm before it starts. I am better able to know what is setting him off or making him anxious, and sometimes even when I see it coming the attitude that comes with it is enough for me to ignore everything I have learned.

Yesterday was like that. He was supposed to stay after school for Run Club. I wasn’t waiting for him, but it happened that we were still at the school playing on the playground with siblings when he came ambling out 20 minutes after school had let out. He forgot. He had gotten in trouble and had to stay after school which caused him to forget. When I asked about all of it he just broke down. Eye-rolling, sighing, throwing himself on the ground, yelling at me. His whole day was horrible, the worst ever, I didn’t even care, I was mean, he didn’t want to talk to a mean person, I hated him, he hated me, and he was just going to go home. I ended up walking him into the school to see if the Run Club had left yet and they had. I had previously told him he had to basically suck it up and get his stuff together, which further confirmed for him that whatever was bothering him didn’t matter to me. This time I tried to reach him by saying I knew he was anxious about going late but it would be ok and I would go with him. This didn’t help. More anger was thrown my way. I responded, “Well, I don’t care what you want to do. You are going, and if you don’t do it because you are in Run Club you are doing it because I said so, and I am going watch you the whole time to ensure you are doing the laps.”  As you can imagine he didn’t care for this at all. In the end he went.

It was after he got home and we tried again that I found out what had been bothering him the whole time. He had standardized testing and didn’t know how to do the math problems. He only completed 2 before he was sent to finish in the principal’s office, and he only completed one more before time was up. This stressed him out, made him anxious and nervous about the 2nd portion of the test. In his mind he had already made it harder, and he hadn’t even started it yet. He tried to begin the second part of the test early (which is why he had to stay after school) and again he only completed a couple problems before he was sent out to try and finish in another room. Again he didn’t finish. He feared he failed and would get in trouble for failing, and he felt defeated. So I gave him hug. It was all he needed.  I couldn’t make it better. I am not sure I had the words other than- ‘Yeah, that does suck, I am sorry.’ I could hug him though. So I did. Later that evening his dad took him out to play tennis, and he came home smiling. Hidden behind all the anger and frustration and hateful words was just a kid who needed to know his parents were still there for him even when the it felt like the world was against him.

I need some Monday Motivation

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I woke up today because my 5yo decided at 6:30am he was hungry. It wasn’t a simple kid coming into your room kindly asking that you make him breakfast, no it was a kid on the other side of the house, screaming and yelling with some crying thrown in for good measure, demanding that I make him breakfast. After ignoring this for 5 minutes and it not stopping I did what any sane mother would do I told him to shut the hell up and go back to bed. Too bad though because everyone in this house was now awake, I was grumpy as fuck, and they all wanted stuff. Thank you 5yo.

I wish I could say things got better, but they didn’t. The same 5yo poured himself a glass of milk, which is awesome, but half of the gallon ended up on the floor. I had make coffee because there was none, by the time I got around to it, cold. What?! Fine. More whining, more crying, more demanding things. I sort of lost it  because it was only 7:30am at this point. I am pretty sure I yelled, “When did you decide you were in charge around here? Last I checked I am the one that pushed you out of MY vagina so that makes me the person in charge.” I got some looks.

Luckily, today is my exercise day because I needed to sweat out these early morning demons. I felt totally recharged, invigorated, and ready to be nice to all my kids. Working out really is like a miracle drug. This lasted until I heard multiple kids whine about how they want electronics right now! Where is the iPad? Where is the laptop? They are also hungry, which is a valid point because we don’t really have any food, but the catch is that my husband took my bank card because someone stole his information and he has to go to the bank in person to request a new one. I open some pretzels and hummus and tell them they are just going to have to deal. In the end though I decided to be nice and order a pizza. Dinner will be a different story, but cheese quesadillas are looking pretty promising right now. I am also guessing my alone time this evening will be a trip to the grocery store.

People, it is like 45, misty, dreary, it is only 12:30, and I am great need of wine and a nap. This Spring Break is gonna suck! Not making a trip to Kentucky this year seems like a pretty bad idea at this point. I ordered some yard games like Kan Jam and ladder golf, but I am not sure the weather is going to cooperate. It looks like this afternoon is going to be a movie fest. I hope they actually sit still and pay attention. Pray for me please- it is going to be a long week.

Never Underestimate the Power of Napkin Notes

 

My oldest son is a 4th grader these days, but way back when he was in kindergarten, he came home one day wondering why I didn’t write him notes in his lunch box. Well, because why? He couldn’t even read yet. So fine, I did with a combination of pictures (I am no artist) and words. I started doing it here and there, never consistently. I noticed when there wasn’t a note in his lunchbox he would ask about it, so I started doing it more. Another thing I began to notice was that if there was no note, the napkin would not be in his lunchbox after school, but if there was then the napkin would always in his lunchbox he didn’t throw them away.

Taking the lead from him I decided that part of my back to school activities would include writing a month or so worth of notes and storing them in the pantry ahead of time because I don’t always remember in the morning rush. A few examples: Have a Great Day, I Love You, I am Proud of You, and You are Awesome. Add a few corny jokes like: What is a pirate’s favorite letter? (Arr) Why was six afraid of seven? (Because 7 ate 9) and What animal cheats on exams? ( A cheetah).  As the year goes on they become more geared toward a specific mood, class outing, field trip, or something that has happened at home.

 

Once he entered 4th grade I thought maybe he would get embarrassed to be seen with notes from his mom, so I didn’t really do it. One day he asked me why I stopped writing him notes. He told me he loved them, they made him think of me, they made him feel special, and they were important to him. Wow. From that moment on I knew that no matter what I would always write him notes, even if when he is a teenager, they are hidden in his coat pocket.

 

I have two kids in elementary school and one in preschool, and they all love mom’s notes. I may not draw excellent pictures, my handwriting is pretty terrible, sometimes the marker bleeds, sometimes it is a simple I love you!, but they know I took the time, and it matters to them. Every mom shows their love in different ways, and for me, this way works.

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9 Indoor Activities for Kids

Winter. This means that you can’t really just tell the kids to go outside, ride their bike, or just find something to do. They are inside almost all day and ruts and routine and the doldrums creep in. There is fighting, yelling, screaming, whining, crying, way too much tv, way too many electronic devices being used, and this goes for the adults too. I was sick of the kids and they were sick of each other so I thought let’s just turn on movies and not talk. This wasn’t really what I wanted though. Not for the whole of winter. I decided during a long weekend I would use Pinterest to help me come up with some indoor activities for my kids. I got a piece a paper and I just wrote down a list of things and decided we would try them all. We did. My kids are 9, 6,5,2,and 1-years-old. Here is how it went. 

1.Scavenger Hunt– How I did our scavenger hunt was this- 4 different lists with 5 objects on them. Objects on the list included things like toy dinosaur, a yellow sock, a matchbox car, a red shoe, and a pink glove. First one finished got a piece of candy. They all had fun and the first one finished was willing to help the younger siblings who were struggling. I could have added more things to make it last longer, and I believe it still would have held their interest. I call this one a success.

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2.Build a Fort– in the past my husband or I build the forts and let the kids play. If it falls we help to build it again. This time I wanted my kids to build it alone. At first, they put a blanket over the couch and ottoman and called it a day. I asked them to try to make it bigger and reminded them they could bring in chairs or other things to help with this task. At first there was fighting, calling each other names, blaming someone else for it falling apart, but ultimately they built a larger fort and enjoyed playing in it once they were done. Perhaps another way would have been to have each kid build their own fort, but I think this was pretty successful.

3.Simon Says– This was one was so fun. Even my (almost) 3-year-old was able to be Simon and came up with some great ideas. We all had a turn being Simon, we all laughed, and had a great time. I highly recommend Simon Says for indoor fun.

4. Indoor Basketball Shooting Contest– we have one of those over the door hoops, but we haven’t used it in a long time. This was the perfect opportunity. We started close to the hoop and everyone was allowed 5 chances to make it. Then it went to the next kid. We kept moving the markers further and further back until either no one made it for two turns in a row. There were a few whines and moans because kids are competitive, but there was a lot of cheering each other on and pride in making a basket. This was deemed a success. *yes, we used a small soccer ball because we couldn’t find the small basketball.

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5. Indoor Dance Party– This may have been a know you audience sort of fail. There are kids out there who love to dance around to music, my kids, not so much. For the first song, maybe song and a half, they were game. They tried it out but by the end of the third song they were just standing there staring at me as I tried to make up crazy moves. For us, this was a fail.

6. Obstacle Course– I am sure there are lots of ways you can do this, but what I did was bring all of our kitchen chairs into the living room and then got string and zig-zag tied it to the legs of the chairs. I threw a few toys on the ground that they had to grab. They each got a turn going through and coming back. It was fun to watch because each kid went through it differently even though they were all watching one another. They all liked this.

7. Sensory Play– I grabbed cookie sheets, measuring cups, cars, playdough toys, and there were different experiences that they passed around. Two cookie sheets had plain flour, two had shaving cream, one had shaving cream and flour mixed, and the last one had oil and flour. This activity lasted the longest and seemed to be the most enjoyed by all. My 1-year-old hadn’t really been able to participate in most of these, but this one he loved and enjoyed for quite a long time. There wasn’t one experience that they seemed to enjoy more, they liked trying them all out, and were thrilled that they were able to make a mess.

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8. Wave Bottle– I went through recycling grabbed out empty water bottles and used the proportion of 1/3 water to 1/3  cooking oil. Add a few drops of food coloring, put lid on and then we mixed, shook, or tilted back and forth. This was ok. Cool for like a minute. I learned that darker food coloring makes it almost impossible to see the waves. This may seem obvious, but live and learn. After this we added stuff to our bottles like googly eyes, beads, pipe cleaners, and poms. Put the lids back on and shook again. The kids liked putting weird stuff in the bottle. They learned to make sure the lid was on tight because otherwise you have a big mess on your hands. People do superglue lids on when finished, but my kids didn’t want to keep them and lost interest, so we did not do this.

9. Milk Color Experiment- This was cool. Get a plate or we got a clear baking pan, put milk in (2% or whole), next add food coloring (three or four colors next to each other), then get a cotton swab dipped in dish detergent and dab it in the middle of these colors, and watch what happens. Get another one dipped in dish detergent and move it slowly around, and see what happens. It looks very cool.

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I had more on my list, but was pretty tired after all of these activities, so they will have to wait for another long weekend. The response from the kids was amazing, especially my oldest, they all loved the family time, the bonding, the attention I was paying them, and they felt like it was better than electronics. Perhaps because it is a rarity, but that was part of the fun, it was meant to spice up the winter and add a little change to the routine. Overall success. So glad we did this.

Books for Our Kids

We love to read in the house. It has always been something I’ve made time for in my children’s daily life. We read before naps and we read before bedtime. I still read out loud to my kids, even the older ones who are fully capable of reading to themselves. I love it. It is a way of bonding because sometimes story lines open up conversations or ideas that wouldn’t normally be discussed. I get the chance to learn what it is they like, hear them laugh, see them get excited, scared, or even sad. To be able to share so much with my children is such a blessing.

I thought since books are such a part of our life I would share some of the books we all have been enjoying lately.

My 9-year-old is a big fan of Rick Riordan.

Percy Jackson and the Olympians

The Heroes of Olympus

The Kane Chronicles

Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard

The Trials of Apollo

Other series that he can’t get enough of include:

The Underland Chronicles by Suzanne Collins

Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney

Fablehaven by Brandon Mull

The Spooks Books by Joseph Delaney

Inkheart Trilogy by Caroline Funke

My 6-year-old is still just beginning down his solo reading path. He started the school year by reading the Elephant and Piggie books. These books are fantastic beginner reading books. They are funny, simple, and still have a story and characters that children can enjoy. These are written by Mo Willems who has written some of our favorite picture books as well. As the school year has progressed so has his reading level and ability, as well his comfort in trying to read alone. We tried a few different series but the three main series that he he has really taken to and are still reading and having us read to him are:

Magic Treehouse Books by Mary Pope Osborne

Junie B Jones by Barbara Park

Flat Stanley by Jeff Brown

My 5-year-old listens as we read the above books to our 6-year-old, but he hasn’t learned to read alone yet. Here are a few other books he enjoys.

Frog and Toad Are Friends by Arnold Lobel

Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems (plus all the Pigeon books)

Pete the Cat by James Dean

Marvel Super Heroes Storybooks

Hero Story Collection (DC Super Friends)

My 2-year-old and 1-year-0ld are at about the same level. They are big fans of anything Sandra Boynton. The also enjoy Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr. In the last year we were introduced to the “That’s Not My….” series and they both love it. We have numerous books from this collection. My daughter is a big fan of Wonder Woman, and we have discovered : DC Super Heroes: My First Book of Girl Power and My First Wonder Woman Book. She is also a fan of Pinkalicious by Victoria and Elizabeth Kann. My son likes the I Stink and I’m Dirty books by Kate and Jim McMullan.

There are so many more books I could have added but these are what is popular in our house right now. What books do your kids enjoy?

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My son reading the Harry Potter Series by J.K.Rowling last year

 

Parents + Logistics = Duh

Most of my mornings start off with my 9-year-old immediately picking a fight with my 5-year-old. He knows just the right buttons to push: calling him tedious, telling him he is annoying, loudly yelling at him to eat with his mouth closed, and these are just a few examples, and the 5-year-old responds with whining and the wonderful yell/whine combination which drives me up the wall, and thus begins the first moments of my day. In an attempt to stop this we have done the whole yell at them to just shut up (oddly, that didn’t work), we have sent kids back upstairs to restart the day, we have taken away electronics(this didn’t fair well because once taken away they feel they have nothing else to lose), we have made them say sorry and hug it out, and all for nothing. Every morning it is still the same. So after some pondering we have decided to a new approach, yet again. This may fail miserably, but one day we are bound to hit upon something that works (I hope). My 9-year-old loves stuffed animals, his bed is a stuffed animal menagerie so if the morning starts out with him picking a fight then the 5-year-old is allowed to pick 3 stuffed animals and for one week they are his. The 5-year-old is actually quite responsible and serious in most matters, one thing he won’t tolerate is being late for school. Well, now if the whining starts up then he goes upstairs for 15 minutes and if it happens that he is late for school a time or two so be it, perhaps the fear of being late will put this kid in check. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Once I get kids out the door I have to run errands, and one errand that has become too familiar is going to the Apple Store. Our dear computer has gone bust. They have tried one thing, then they tried another, and now we are trying a third. Luckily, the Apple Store has iPad stations for tiny kids like mine. They love them. When they hear me say we have to go the Apple store they are pumped-even the 1-year-old starts chanting: iPads iPads iPads. So thank you for small things that make errands you don’t want to do a bit easier.

 

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Of course, when you are out doing errands sometimes kids have to pee. Most of the time a bathroom is nearby, but there are times when it isn’t all too convenient for a kid to pee. I have found during these moments I love having mostly boys because they have peed in parking lots, parking garages, behind trees, and into an empty water bottle (just make sure you screw the lid back on).  Plus, if they refuse these options you know they didn’t really need to go.

In just an ordinary day I have to use so many different skills to survive living with and going out in public with my kids. I am now a pro in crisis management, logistics, creative thinking, adaptability, problem solving, and handling pressure. Parents really are a kick ass group of people.

 

 

Toddlers Can Drive Anyone Crazy

Occasionally I am lucky enough to have a few pieces up on a great site –herviewfromhome.com  Just before Christmas my 1 and 2 yr-old were driving me crazy so I came up with a list of things that seemed to keep happening over and over again. Those of us with toddlers now or who have had toddlers in the past can appreciate this list. Enjoy.

 

http://herviewfromhome.com/16-signs-a-toddler-has-taken-over-your-house/