Friday, July 15, 2016

Natalie: 2 years

July 15, 2016

A month late, I know. But you and your brother require all of my attention and time these days.

For your second birthday, we celebrated as a family of four at our home here in Colorado. We woke up with the happy birthday song and then surprised you with a decorated dining room - a giant "2" balloon and streamers. You said "Whatttttt?!" Cooper was so excited to help you celebrate. You had pancakes with sprinkles and ate them with your new sunglasses on. You got a new outfit, coloring book and crayons, sunglasses, and a purse from mommy and daddy. But your favorite were the noise makers.

Later in the day we sang happy birthday again and you blew out the candles all by yourself! You did such a great job!

In your second year, you learned how to talk all of the sudden - you are a parrot now. You mimic absolutely everything your brother does which can be a bad thing sometimes. You look up to him so much and follow him around everywhere. Your favorite foods are goldfish, fruit snacks, any kind of real fruit, and "toast" (bread…not toasted…you throw a fit if we toast it). You are cutting the last of your molars, and it's taking quite a while. You have a chipped front tooth thanks to your brother sticking his foot out in front of you and you hit it on a water bottle on the way down.

You loved playing in the sand at the beach, but did not want to go anywhere near the water. You preferred to eat snacks the entire time you were on the beach. You tried so hard to keep up with all your older boy cousins while we were at the beach as well. You got many skinned knees doing that! You love riding your bike with Cooper, and probably love wearing your helmet more.

You love bath time, the river, and warmed up to Grandpop's pool pretty quickly…but not the ocean quite yet. You love to tell us when it's raining out.

Your favorite word is No. And not just any no - a screaming no. We're working on that. You have learned how to say a very cute 'yes' as well.

We are patching your left eye three times a week to try to help strengthen the muscles in your right eye and you don't enjoy that very much but you are still doing a pretty good job of keeping your glasses on.

You sleep with your purple bunny every night and love to read a lot of books and then listen to music with mommy or daddy.

You are strong willed and opinionated and so SMART.

You give the best hugs and kisses my sweet Natty girl, mommy and daddy love you so much!
We can't wait to see you grow this year.

Friday, April 22, 2016

i'm putting it all out there...

22 April 2016

You guys…I haven't read that viral blog that's been going around yet - but from some of your posts, I've gathered that it's about finding your village during motherhood, how much it sucks, but that it's all still so beautiful. So maybe I just won't read it. Maybe one of my blog posts will go viral, too. Probably not.

I interrupted my favorite chore because I was so anxious to write this. So the folded laundry just sits on my bed, instead of being put away. And, I'm never in my bed, other than for sleep, but the state of my house right now deemed that I must be in my bed because otherwise I will have a nervous breakdown from being surrounded by my house.

I'll paint you a picture: There is not one single clean inch of counter space. It is all covered with stuff. Crumbs. Mail to be filed. Magazines that will never get read. Clorox tabs that need to be put in the toilets. Toys that have been thrown and confiscated. Dirty butter knives from all the buttered toast Natalie and I have been eating since diarrhea is consuming our life. Various tools from Jason's projects. Dirty dish towels. Dirty crock pot. Crumbs. You get the idea.

Lets move to the kitchen table. Play doh. Play doh. Play doh. Dirty paper plates from breakfast and lunch. Coats hanging on the chairs. Chairs that are now on the floor because my 4 year old cannot control his anger. Chairs that will stay there until he picks them up. Garden plans and layouts. Garden how to's for dummies. Napkins. Dirty napkins. Crumbs. Under the table? Various matchbox cars and crumbs.

The living room? I vacuumed last week. Crumbs. Trash. Dirty plates from breakfast. 100 water cups. Blankets on the floor in a ball. Toys strewn everywhere, all on their side. Hand and finger prints all over the TV screen.

So I can't be downstairs right now. We got a new bed a couple months ago - it's a King. I got all white linens for it. Gasp! All white! But it makes me feel clean. And happy. And crisp. And that is NOT what is downstairs right now. So I needed to be here, to write…rather, ramble, about how much I am slowly and painfully drowning in motherhood.

Which brings me to my next ailment. Besides the diarrhea bug I caught from Natalie…


This boy. You guys. I don't know if I'll even be able to put it in to words. But I'm going to try. And I hope one day when he's 30, I will read this and say "Oh, Stephanie, I wish you had just relaxed and enjoyed it." Except that this post will remind me that there is no possible way one can enjoy being abused by their preschooler.

Let me back up: Last night out of NOWHERE while playing with his hot wheels garage, which we do every night before bed - we all gather in his room and play and decompress and read books and all be together - he says "You can drop me off with a new mom and dad." And I about lost my mind. It ate me up. I begged and pleaded with him that he didn't understand that NO ONE in this entire UNIVERSE loves him more than his dad and I. NO ONE. He's 4, he doesn't care what I say. And I'm starting to think that will never change.

It took me weeks and maybe months to feel the intense motherly love with both of my kids…but now? My biggest fear is something happening to them. I will not survive that. More than that, what if, in this crazy ass world, they get taken away from me? NO ONE understands him like we do! Oh, I cannot go there.

So there's that.

But there's also the fact that lately, his behavior and attitude have been abhorrent. We are trying EVERYTHING to combat it. Last week I had to put every toy he threw in a trash bag. They are still sitting in the garage. He could care less. Today, I had to add more toys to that lot, because he continues to throw things. The side of my face was narrowly spared today - if I had entered the room one millisecond sooner, it would have been smashed with a tonka police car. The dining room chairs are all laying on the floor as stated previously, because of this anger.

Anger because I have to tighten his car seat straps tight, and then he isn't able to touch the roof of the car. Anger because he lost his chance at getting a new night light for good behavior because he threw a fit due to the previously stated event. Anger because I turned the music up loud enough to drown out his screams. Anger because he threw his shoe at me while I was driving and I refused to give it back. Anger because I put it in the trash bag full of thrown toys and said he had to earn it back. Anger because I was ignoring him. Anger because I locked myself in the bathroom because he wouldn't stop pulling on my shirt, touching me, hitting me, or kicking me. Anger because he doesn't get his way. Always. Every. Day.

Where does it come from? Is it my fault? I am trying Love & Logic. I am trying the wooden spoon. I am trying a timer. I am trying natural consequences. I have tried the shock factor of smacking his face when he's disrespectful…and then he starts hitting more at school and acting out. I am now trying NOT to touch him at all. I am trying to ignore him. I am trying to model the behavior I want to see in him. I am trying to remove myself from the situation. He finds me. I am trying to exhibit self control. I am trying to talk to him calmly. I am trying to whisper when I am so angry I want to scream. I am trying to love him harder. I am trying to praise his every good choice to an annoying extent. I am trying to praise him so loud, that everyone else can hear and they all look at him proudly. I am trying to keep the TV off. I am trying to get him outside more. I am trying to limit the treats. I am trying to be in charge. I am trying to let him make appropriate choices. I am trying to let him help me all the time. I am trying to involve him in everything we do. I am trying to keep him active. I am trying to help him excel. I am trying. So. Hard.

Why isn't any of this working? Why do I feel so alone in this struggle? No one I have talked to goes through this…almost daily…with their child. The arguing. "No. I don't want to" EVERY DAY. For everything we ask him to do. When can I go to sleep at night and not be exhausted from arguing WITH A 4 YEAR OLD?! Why does everything need to be questioned? Where is the trust that I am his mother, and I only want the very best for him so that means LISTEN THE FIRST TIME.

Sometimes I feel so far beyond done, I'm just numb. I haven't cried in months. Isn't that healthy? To  cry? I can't even feel emotions anymore to cry if I wanted to. I have no village here. I don't need sympathy. I just need a village. I need people that I can call and drop him off and they will love him just as hard as I do, and not get annoyed with him or so mad at him that they send him back home and never allow him back. I have a very select few of those people here, but only in an emergency would I ask them to watch him. I don't ever want to burden anyone else with taking care of him, because I know how challenging he is. Don't even get me started on school - when he starts kindergarten I'm going to be a hot mess. Everyone tells me not to worry, he'll likely grow out of it. But what if he doesn't?!

And Natalie just sits by and watches it all happen. I'm sure I will have to repeat this whole process sooner than I expected.

You guys, the struggle is so real it hurts. I question my decision to become a mother moreso now than ever before. I'm not sure I was cut out for this. Or if I have the endurance to do it for another 16 years at least. To be owned by a preschooler is a harsh reality. Wondering if I produced someone who is not going to be kind and humble in this scary and mean world, is one of the worst feelings for me, and one I struggle with daily. Among the thoughts of ADHD or ADD or Autism or ODD or anything else in the medical diagnosing world. It all just brings me to my knees and keeps me so numb I can't even think about the positive anymore.

In a world where we are all so incredibly connected, many villages have formed. But they're all still virtual. There are so many resources and advice columns and how to's out there it makes me want to puke. How can we be so over saturated with information and still so clueless and lonely? I am trying to absorb everything, anything that could help him be a good person, and then I try to ignore it all, because a mother's instinct should know best right? Apparently not in this day and age.

I need the people who will come to my house at a moments notice and not get mad at me when my kid is a jerk to theirs. Instead, they will hug me and tell me he is normal, and it will all be ok. That I am NOT a bad mother, and he IS a great kid. And they'll be sincere about it. They won't leave thinking to themselves "well, we're never going back there again." So really, this is all stemming from a lack of confidence in myself. Another thing I do not want to pass on to my children.

Do you see what I mean? I don't think I made sense of any of what just transpired in my house. I made sense of the fact that I have NO CLUE what I am doing. That nothing I do seems to be working, and that motherhood is like looking in a mirror. I see everything in my parenting that I do not want to see in my children as they grow. It's like a sick, twisted little game, this parenting deal.

I am not a sunshine and rainbows person. Never have been. Never will be. I AM actively trying to not be AS negative, as I see the effects it has on my mirror images now, but I will never stop being real. I can see the effects of constantly nagging a child to do something or to do something a certain way - it is dangerous. I will also never be one of those moms who loves every second of parenting. I will never love it when my child hits, kicks, and screams at me. I will never look at him with a smile and say "I can see you're angry…" nope. not me. I'm just SO TIRED of the constant inner dialogue in my head…"what if i say it this way, will he listen? will this turn in to an argument? will it stick this time? will we have to have this conversation again? will he have a melt down? will this punishment ruin him for life? what am i supposed to do with this? how do i handle this situation the 'right' way? will this be the day we turn a corner?" constant. It's just constant in my brain.

And, by the way, after that car narrowly missed my face, I took him to his room, reminded him that anything he threw would get thrown away, and now he is asleep. Which is why I have the time to write this. He hasn't napped in a year, and I'm not stopping it.

I have nothing else. Nothing else to write, or say, or give. The children take it all out of me. They take it all. Still, I feel selfish. For having these feelings. For feeling so resentful and angry. When I figure it all out, they will be grown.

My most favorite boy in the whole wide world. Still so small in that big bed. It won't be too long before I'm not folding his little minion underpants anymore. I do love every inch of their beings. They are mine forever, and I'll be damned if I let this get the best of me. 

Now, I need a drink. 

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Cooper - 4 Years

January 7, 2016

I'm a month late in writing this, but it's been weighing on my mind ever since you turned 4!

I felt really pulled to write today, after a little bit of a rough afternoon.

It's actually February 2nd, and we just had the biggest snow storm I've witnessed since living in Colorado. It didn't get the news coverage that the East coast's latest storm did, but it's still huge for us. The past two days have been snow days for you and your dad at school, so it's been fun to have everyone home together. During the school year, mommy has to work every weekend so I am able to be home with you and Natalie during the week while daddy is at school - which leaves very little family time! But, usually, before we know it, the semester is over and our routine is changing a little more.

Anyway, I felt like today you defined your personality in such a perfect way - so perfect, that I wanted to write about it. Because people just don't understand what kind of child you are - and I guess I can't expect them to. But I also don't want the advice or fake sympathy from someone who doesn't understand or have a child like you. Obviously, there is no one else like you in this entire world!

You are so intelligent that sometimes I forget you are only 4. I feel like I am negotiating a hostage situation with you on a daily basis. It is a constant struggle for control. More often than not, I give up, because in my mind, it's just not worth the struggle. But, it took me about 3.5 years to realize that this was only going to have negative effects in the long run. Now I am determined to be in charge.

So today. On snow day #2, Dad made us all pancakes. You asked for…rather, demanded…strawberries with your pancakes. I cut some up and put them on your plate. You never touched them. When I asked you to finish them, you refused. I informed you that you would eat them with your lunch.

We came in from playing in the snow, and you asked for your normal hot chocolate with marshmallows. You asked to help stir it, and I obliged. You asked for the lunchable with the chocolate chip cookie, and I obliged. I gave you the strawberries, and you pushed them away rudely. I reminded you that you needed to eat at least 2 of them with your lunch or I would have to confiscate your hot chocolate. You threw a fit. I took the hot chocolate.

Eventually I set the timer for 15 minutes for you to finish eating your lunch or you'd have to go to your room. You had already been there for 20 minutes. Ample time to eat lunch. Instead, you were fidgeting and squirming and playing around. The timer went off and you weren't finished which bought you time in your room. Finally, when the time out was over, I asked you one last time if you'd eat those strawberries so you could have your hot chocolate or was I to just throw it away? Throw it away, you said.

You came down and begrudgingly finished your lunch. And watched me throw away that hot chocolate because you refused to eat two strawberries. These weren't even whole strawberries! They were cut up!


I feel like this defines your personality in so many ways, Cooper! What kind of child would watch their beloved hot chocolate with marshmallows get thrown away? Why not just eat the strawberries?

The same kid who would rather sit in time out to be sure they were still in control of their situation. The kid who could care less about missing out on play time or circle time or whatever it may be. Natural consequences don't seem to work with you. You are much more concerned about being in control of every situation and in charge of everyone else. We're pretty sure you've inherited this from your grandmother.

I try to remind myself that these qualities will be so useful when you an adult. You will be so successful if we can channel this energy in a positive way. If we can teach you empathy and respect. If we can teach you how to put others first, and to think before you speak.

You are so smart, and intuitive. You remember everything we tell you, whether you act like it or not. You love to learn new things and teach others what you know. You love to be in charge, in the lead, and are rarely shy. Generally, you are very tender and sweet to Natalie. You two have gotten in to it before, but mostly you like playing with each other. You're still learning how to play with a toddler and share with her since she just likes to knock down your buildings and snatch your cars.

You can write most of your name, and draw self portraits. You love to build with your magna tiles, and play with your hot wheels cars. You know how to dress yourself, and pick out your own clothes…much to your mothers dismay. Your favorite show is Paw Patrol. The only thing you seem to eat these days are chicken nuggets, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and fruit. You will eat cucumbers and carrots with ranch, but that's as far as we can get with the veggies. You love milk and water.

You are in preschool three days a week and love every second of it. Your teachers love you, too. It took a couple months for you to warm up to the schedule, but you are having consistent good days now.

You continue to be my sweet boy, my most favorite 4 year old in the land. You and I have a bond like no other. You love to snuggle every night and every morning. You are still sucking that thumb. We are challenged by you every day, and I know it's making us all better people, and a stronger family. We love to watch you grow and learn new things every day. You amaze us daily.

Keep questioning the world, sweet boy, it's yours to conquer!