Exciting Summer!

8 Jul

So this summer has been full of surprises! As many of you know, I got a job working at a call center doing tech support on electronics (mostly TV’s). Bill works there as well, although he is in the computer department doing tech support on computers and testing products. Anyway, I got the job so that Rory, our now 3 year old daughter could go to school, like she has been BEGGING for, for MONTHS now. We found a preschool/daycare we really liked but unfortunately, the kids just haven’t adjusted to it still after nearly 2 months, so it was with regret that I put in my 2 weeks notice, nearly 2 weeks ago. Actually this Tues and Wed are my last 2 days at work. My managers are disappointed since I was really starting to get the hang of everything and doing a pretty darn good job, but you gotta do what ya gotta do. It was starting to get way too stressful taking the kids to daycare every morning. Fighting and crying and bribing… not good times. About 2 weeks ago it when it came to a head. On our way out the door, Max broke down into tears, saying how he doesn’t like school and doesn’t want to go any more. And it was at this time that my mom intuition really kicked on and was telling me that something wasn’t right. Max LOVES school, and when he doesn’t want to go that is a sign that something just isn’t right. I know…I know there are people that will read this and think, “he is just manipulating you into not going…” yadda yadda yadda. And well, that is wrong. I know my son, he’s loved school since the first day he has started and last summer when school was out, was furious it was over for the summer. While talking to him about it, he was finally able to just come out and say that he didn’t like it because he missed spending time with me and his daddy. Which broke my heart. And I get it. We never get to eat dinner as a family any more. I get off at 9pm which is bed time, and once I get home it is a few minutes of playing catch up on their day and then I rush them off to bed so that I can spend some time with Bill before he has to go to bed since he has to get up at 6:30 to go to work in the morning. Bill’s days off are Friday and Saturday while mine are Sunday and Monday, meaning we don’t get any time as a family at all. And while a shift bid is only a few months away now, the way things currently are is the best we can hope to do to ensure that the kids are in daycare the fewest hours per day and the fewest days per week. So, after hearing my son say that he misses being with us, and that Rory wanted to go to Miss Love’s school (which is Head Start, the school Max was going to) we just thought, what is the point of me working? We aren’t making any money because daycare is so expensive, Rory doesn’t like it, and she was the reason why I started working? What is the point in paying for her to go to school when it is just making her miserable? And that is where we are. Back to square one. Bill also had to go and get himself like a 5% raise during all of this, which means we probably now officially make too much for Head Start altogether. Although I still have to email Ms. Bye and see, so now I’m spinning my wheels trying to figure out how to make this work.

I’m lucky though, I have several friends who have taking early childhood education classes and who are early childhood teachers (pre-k-1st grade) so I’m hoping I’m going to be able to pick their brains a bit for some advise and whatnot in trying to set up something at home for Rory. While I’ve been doing research on how to do that I’m stumbled upon a person conflict. I’m not sure how to approach it. With Max, we just let him be. We let him play, and do and learn through play. We read to him, played with him, drew, colored… everything with him and he just seemed to learn through osmosis everything. He was writing his name and the alphabet by 3, reading by 4.5 and now doing rudimentary math concepts of addition and subtraction. All seemingly on his own. Rory, on the other hand is taking a different path. I wouldn’t say she is “behind” as she is way more vocal and better able to communicate than Max was at his age, but she isn’t writing letters yet, she has just learned the alphabet, still working on shapes and colors, something Max had down by 2… and I know that kids learn differently and at different paces, which is my point. The way I was doing things with Max might not fit how Rory learns. So my concern is how to figure out the best way for her to learn, without forcing it down her throat?

Right now, I don’t think I’m going to start doing anything different just yet. I like the idea that kids can learn everything they need to just by being left to explore. After all Rory learned how to use the potty just by me leaving her alone and she’s been potty trained for 7 months now. She is a puzzle master and is already putting together 20 piece puzzles alone, and is starting to draw life-like people. I know I shouldn’t compare my kids since they are individuals and will learn things at different times and in different ways.

So what I am going to do is try and dig up as many out of the house activities we can go to. We don’t have very many places like the nearest major cities do in the way of events and places for kids, but I think we have enough to keep us occupied. It is pretty hard to uncover these events though…even with the internet and facebook, many times we don’t hear about fun stuff until AFTER they happen which really makes me mad.

But I’m thinking I’ll do something simple. Maybe a letter and a number a day, sort of like Sesame Street (maybe I’ll even see if I can dig up some of their episodes and plan around that), and a project a week or something like that. She is only 3, so I really don’t think it should take more than 1-2 hours total a day to do a few things.

I haven’t been on pinterest in awhile, but I do have many activities on there to use as well. Too many actually. I think the most important thing I need to keep in mind is that she’ll learn at her own pace and I just have to enjoy it, so she can.

There are 2 things I can’t wait to try this summer. Fishing and camping. Both of which I think my kids will love. We just have to fix our tents (broken fiberglass tent poles), get our fishing licenses, and figure out where and when to go!

And I’m excited about going to The Vikings Training Camp! In August we’re going to go watch them practice, get some autographs and have a blast. Maybe we’ll camp then!

Anyway, that is our exciting summer. I’m going to miss work, it was nice getting out of the house, but I’m happy I still have the option to do what is best for my kids and my family, and that is all thanks to my husband. I’m pretty lucky to have a man like him. We make a pretty awesome team!

-AK

Forward

23 Apr

My last post was well, upsetting in a way. I look back and it seems as if I haven’t learned to trust my mothering, my instincts that have proven to be spot on thus far. Granted, I’m only a year removed from when I first started this blog, after 2 (distant) family members saw fit to attack me for my parenting choices…so I guess I still have a lot to learn and more thick skin to grow.

I don’t have much time to write my blog. With cleaning (trying) and playing with Rory, I don’t get much time to prepare what I want to say and then say it. So usually my blogs become a jumbled mess and sometimes I don’t fully say what I want to say. My last post was me, freaking out about how drastically things are going to change for our family in a few months, and honestly not knowing how to prepare for it. I love, love, love, how we haven’t had to force our kids to go to bed. How bedtime hasn’t really been a power struggle (until recently). The kids fall asleep when they are tired and wake up when they are not. It has been simple, easy and it has kind of felt like we’ve figured out the “secret” of parenting. However, when I realized that it wasn’t going to remain easy, simple for much longer, I freaked.

Right now, Max (Rory isn’t as consistent when she falls asleep yet) falls asleep at around 11. Sleeps about 11 hours, and wakes at 10. School starts at 11:30, he’s done at 3 and that is that. This fits in perfectly for his natural rhythm. However, when Kindergarten starts next year, it’ll be a different story. School starts at 8:10 or so. And so he’ll have to get up at like 7:00!! He’ll be at school for a full day, instead of a half day. So my thought was to prepare us for this drastic change. I wanted to slowly push back bed time and wake up earlier. I thought it was perfect. Fool proof. And at first it was working. (Or so I thought) The kids were in their room by 9. Quiet (relatively) and Bill and I got some alone time to chill, play some video games, watch our shows. It was awesome and we felt pretty awesome for getting it done. Until the kids made it known what we really going on. They weren’t really going to sleep at 9 or a little after. They were just playing quietly and reading and talking until they feel asleep, probably at their regular time. Finally after a few days, it got old, and the novelty wore off and they started leaving their room, asking for cup of water after cup of water, going to the bathroom 3-4 times before bed…. all of that junk. It was then I realized, it wasn’t going to be as easy as just pushing back their bedtime. So I started to research on the internet ideas and “techniques” to get the kids to sleep earlier. All of which were either some form of baby training (um NO) or manipulating them (Some alarm clock that tells them when they can get out of bed and when they can’t…not very smart to use for kids learning to night potty train, or in the event of fire… seems more of a safety risk than anything). So I was hoping to find some inspiration from other parents. Wondering how they got their kids to bed early, and realized, the only way to do it, was to follow my kids’ lead… as we have been doing. There is no way to force your kids to be tired… short of drugging them. So, my new plan is to brace for the first week of school, summon all of my patience, empathy, and positive thoughts and bear through it. We’ll eventually, hopefully adapt to a new rhythm. I wanted to avoid Max having a rough first week of school, I wanted to avoid the inevitable crankiness that will come with over tired kids, but well, it will be a good life lesson for both kids. A lesson in the importance of sleep, rest, and that sometimes life is rough and you just have to do your best to make it through. So I guess this will turn out to be a blessing in disguise.

Oh. And a new development. I have a job. That is right. While trying to figure out prepare for next school year, we found out that we make too much for Rory to have an automatic spot in Head Start (Free Preschool). She would be wait-listed and when a spot opened up, she would then be in the class. There was no telling how long the wait would be, she could get in right away or it could take a full school year… or 2! Since she is only 2, she isn’t in dire need of preschool, she just wants to go. And we had been telling her that when she is 3 (this summer) she will get to go. And now, we’re going to be liars. So we looked around and wanted to see how much it would cost, see if we could afford it ourselves. Well, we could… but only if I got a job. Our plan has been(since Rory was born) that I would be a stay-at-home-mom until Rory was in Kindergarten. 2 reasons, we feel it has been the best for our kids for me to be with them and because we just can’t afford quality daycare.  We have no family or friends in town that can watch the kids, so it just made financial sense for me to stay home. It has been hard and stressful, but it has been totally worth it. However, we’re flexible. Rory wants to go to preschool, so why not do what we can to make it happen. So we kept her on the waiting list, as we needed a backup option just in case I couldn’t find a job. I mean the economy is still trying to get turned around, and I haven’t been in the workforce for nearly 5 years. As luck would have it, the Call Center Bill works at was hiring and I applied. While we were waiting for a response, we started talking about our options. We decided that we would take Rory off the list, even if I didn’t find a job, because well Rory is smart. Just like her big bro. She doesn’t need preschool at 3. She just needs a bit more socialization. And once Max is in full time school, she and I can take more advantage of activities that go on around town that we can’t right now because they conflict with our schedule. Plus, I would feel…guilty taking a spot for Rory, when she doesn’t really need it. I would always worry that a more needy child was missing out because Rory was in that spot. Rory is lucky enough to have me stay at home and do awesome stuff with her. And if we make too much and we’re struggling like we are, I can’t imagine how other folks are getting it done who make less than we do. It just doesn’t seem right. So that was decided. I got an interview for the job and then landed the job. I start in mid-May. I’m nervous and excited and well we’re going to be starting our prep for school early. As both kids will go to preschool/daycare while Bill and I are at work. And it will ease us unto next school year. So my panic attack was all for naught.

We found an amazing preschool/daycare. The cost is half of what the first place we found was. HALF. Plus, Max’s Head Start teacher from last year, Ms. Rosemary is now a teacher at this preschool. As soon as we saw her, and how excited she and Max were to be seeing each other again (She is proud that he is already reading and doing math!), we knew this was the Preschool for us. Right now, every day Rory asks if it is time for her to go to school. I think we’re going to make a countdown. haha. Most families make countdowns for Disney Trips… while my kids want a countdown for school. I LOVE IT.

Max is reading. And writing and doing Math. Addition and Subtraction. Rory is currently a puzzle master. She has mastered the several Melissa and Doug 6-10 piece puzzles we have and is now working on more complicated real puzzles. She is also starting to show interest in letters. She has realized that letters have names and sounds and when you put them together you can read. So now she’s “reading” her own stories in her books. I’ve gotten a few activities to help her with learning the alphabet. She hasn’t really been interested until recently, so that is why she doesn’t know them yet. No reason to force her. She already has her shapes and colors down and is counting to 20+. By rote of course. But she is following along Max’s trajectory, so she should be reading and writing and doing math before she is in Kindergarten too.

We don’t do anything “special” with them. They are free range kids.  We don’t over schedule or organize activities for them. They are able to play, read, draw, run around and do basically whatever they want. I let them get bored and let them figure how to become un-bored. I let Max, 5, be outside for periods of time alone.  I pay attention to them and their interest and build on it. When Max was 2-3 he was into the alphabet. BIG TIME. We would spend literally HOURS drawing pictures for him and the words describing the pictures. Going over the letters their sounds… he LOVED it. And now look, he is 5 and reading and writing  We didn’t get tutors, fancy flash cards, DVD’s…nothing. It was all us, drawing and talking to him. They aren’t in every sport known to man either. Their weekends aren’t so full of sports and classes and activities that they don’t have time to just be. While that may be awesome for some families, that just isn’t us. We put Max in Rec. Center sports last year to get him around more kids his age since he was with me all day. They are 6 weeks long (6 games) and no special practices (practice is 10-15 min before the game starts). We have only played 2 sports, basketball and soccer. And so far Max has shown more skill and passion for soccer. This fall he’ll be old enough for parent/kid flag football. So we’ll do that. Then he’ll also be able to do wrestling. He has said he wants to do both, so we will see how it works out. Rory hasn’t been in anything yet as she isn’t old enough for Rec Center sports and I don’t feel she is old enough for dance classes or anything. This fall the “Y” is having a Itty Bitty sport class that does T-Ball, basketball and soccer. So it’ll be the perfect stepping stone to figuring out what she’ll like to continue to do next year.

I’m nervous and anxious about how things will go next month. It is going to be a major change for everybody. But we can do it. We just need to stick to our free ranged, relax way and it’ll all fall into place. I have found that when we just sit back and follow the kids’ lead, things tend to figure themselves out. And I think that is the way it should be. If only I could just stop worrying so much… but I guess that comes with being a mom.

Being a Parent.

10 Mar

So I guess they forgot to tell us parenting was now a competitive sport. One where parents with the “best” kids are the ones who never talked back, always ate everything on their plates and always went to bed with out incident. The best parents are the ones who never questioned themselves and have all the right answers. The best parents follow what “everybody” says you’re  “supposed” to do, no matter what you think or feel to the contrary. But here is the thing, I didn’t sign up for this sport. Why oh why do I have to keep falling prey to these ideas that I have to do what other families do because it is supposed to be “normal”?

See, we’ve recently been trying to set up a bed time…well not just any bed time, a more early bed time. Bill and I need it. We need the quality time together, we need to quite time to get stuff done we can’t when the kids are awake. We need quite time to ourselves just to think our thoughts and pick up a book! BUT we know our kids. Our kids, are like us. Night Owls. And in the past we’ve let them be who they are and sure enough we’ve never really had any bed time battles. They go to sleep when they are tired, without fuss, without stress, without a fight. We’re not reduced to bribes, deals, or tears. They get the sleep they need without feeling like going to bed is a punishment. However, with Max starting kindergarten next year, we’ve decided to try and start slowly, pushing bedtime back earlier and earlier. And since we’ve never made too big of a fuss over bedtime, we’ve kept it that way, just a calm explanation of why and when and how and the kids have done a pretty darn good job of dealing with it. I know you can sense it, a “but” is coming and you are correct. BUT, even though 80% of the time they willingly go to bed, they cannot simply just fall asleep. That lies the problem. They may be in their room, watching a show, reading a book, talking to each other, laughing and telling jokes, but they cannot fall asleep. Why? Not because we didn’t train them too, or because they don’t know how to, but simply because they aren’t tired yet. Bill and I understand this. We are the same way. I guess it is why we haven’t made such a big deal of it. They are up late for the same reasons we stay up late, we’re not tired. They aren’t plotting for world domination. They aren’t conversing over who should color on the walls tomorrow and who should make a giant mess in the bathroom. They just aren’t tired. How oh how can you force a child to be tired. I mean, I know you can just simply put them in their room and lock the door, ignore their scared cries, sip your wine and watch some crap TV. But, well that just isn’t the kind of parent I want to be. Go ahead, call me a martyr  Go ahead and tell me I’m doing something with a rod and my back. But the thing of it is, I don’t actually have a problem with the fact that I have a problem-less bed time with my children, and that my children get to go to sleep when they are tired. I mean sure, I’d like that quality time I talked about, but it isn’t a “need” it is a want. And when it comes between quality, quiet time or a problem-less, stress-less bed time with my children, shoot, I’d pick the latter any day. What I do have a problem with are people feeling “bad” for me. People thinking I’m some how failing my kids because I think they can figure out when they are tired, and how to remedy that problem without me telling them what to do. Sleeping isn’t something you have to “learn” how to do. It is one of those things we are born just knowing how to do it and why we need it.

I don’t see my job as micromanaging every second of every day for my 2 kids. My kids are now old enough to tell me when they are hungry or thirsty  Actually they both are old enough to go to the pantry and get a snack, pour their own drink. They know to ask me before they get a snack just in case a meal is in the near future. It isn’t my job to tell them when they need to go potty, when they are in the mood for a little art time, or when they need to run around the house because they’ve been cooped up way too long. It is my job to show them right from wrong.  It is my job to show them respect so they can learn it.

However, we’re still in a conundrum. I don’t know what to do about bed time. That is right. I admit it. I don’t know what to do. I liked our simple fall asleep when you’re tired style. However, I’m being realistic. With school starting for Max I’m not sure that style will work in a few months. Or when Rory starts kindergarten and I go back to work. Our style works now because I get to stay home. I can sleep in until 10 and still get my stuff done around the house and play with my kids. I mean some people’s kids may go to bed at 8 and sleep through the night no problem and they are considered “good” even though when they are awake they are spoiled little brats who are truly spoiled (not the spoiled from cuddling to much spoiled, but spoiled as in they are 5 with an ipad, iphone 5, nintendo 3ds, and every other toy they want and get) and my kids are “bad” because they go to bed between 10-11 but when they are awake are awesome to each other, play together nicely, help me with cooking, cleaning and whatnot.

I mean as I’m writing this, my kids are having a snack, watching “The Little Mermaid” and just nicely talking to each other about how Rory is Ariel and Max is the dog…Max. This is after they have spent an afternoon playing “bad guys vs good guys”, they played doctor with Rory’s babies, colored, played with the light table, made a fort in the hallway, played princess and batman, and helped me switch out the laundry, fold it and put it away. I mean, to me, that doesn’t sound like 2 bad kids. I know I’m bias, but let’s be honest.

So I don’t know, maybe we’ll modify how we were doing things. Maybe we’ll go back to letting them go to sleep when they are tired, and have them be in their room by 9:30 instead of 8. Let them have their light on, TV on and a glass of water, as long as they don’t leave their room. They already have books in there, but maybe I’ll have a box of toys just for that room that they can play with. I do believe this could be a perfect compromise, the kids can stay up until they are tired, they’ll have books, toys, TV, light and water. And as long as they stay in their room, they can stay up and Bill and I can have quiet time.

I guess I can’t stop other people from labeling me as a “bad” parent with “bad” kids, however, I can stop trying to be the parent I know I’m not, and continue to work towards being the parent I know I can be, and the parent my kids deserve.

Getting the Ball Rolling.

2 Nov

So long sweet October.   ::Sigh:: I sure hate that October flew by so fast. We were sick most of the month too. So frustrating. Even my miniscule “Fall Bucket List” didn’t get completed. But we did get to go to the Railroad Museum Halloween Party and we got to check out a Halloween Party at the Y. So it wasn’t a total loss. We could have crossed off the hay hack ride from our list, if we could have waited in the long line at the Railroad Party, but Rory is dealing with a cold and an ear infection, so we needed to keep the adventure short. Now, it is November, sad, lonely November. But at least there is Thanksgiving! We already have Bill’s side of things figured out. So now we need to figure out what my side is going to do. Would like to head down their way so that the kids can also see their Great-Grandma, but we’ll see.

We’re also jumping right into Christmas gift prep. Since we’re changing the way we think about toys and the kinds we want for our kids, it takes some research. I know it sounds silly, but nowadays, stores just shove the most expensive “hottest” item down your throats and tell you what your kids will like. And in the past we’ve blindly agreed.  But now, we’re trying to put more thought into what we buy. Not just the newest and “coolest” but stuff that will actually interest the kids for years to come. I know it sounds crazy but if you put some thought into it and change your game plan you can actually find toys and activities that will grow with your kids! One item that springs to mind that everybody loves is legos. Our lego table is a great investment. It gets played with nearly every day, and as they grow older, we will change it from a duplo version to the regular version and the kids will play with it for years. The marble run Max got for his birthday is going to be another great toy that both kids will play with for years. Already when it has been set up, Max has sat for 30+ min with the marble run playing. And as he figures out how to re-configure it, I can only imagine he’ll play with it more and more.

Another thing, is getting to know your kids. And lately I’ve been trying to pay more attention to what Max likes. And he likes books, puzzles, drawing, “homework”…things like that. He isn’t into “playing” with his toys so much. Not to say he doesn’t have a healthy imagination. Because he does, he likes to dress up and pretend that way and of course football and wrestling around, running, jumping and climbing. Rory, on the other hand, is currently very much into “playing” with her toys. She plays with her dollhouse, and has been playing with Max’s Joker play-set he got for his birthday way more than he has. She has been changing her babies’ diapers a lot lately too. And of course anything Max is doing, she’ll do.

My plan for the kids’ toys and playroom, is to build up a nice collection of “open-ended” toys and activities that will grow with the kids, and keep up with the “newness” of them by adding new “things” to them as we go. For example, Bill just got cracking on the components for the light table and did some price checking on the plexi-glass. When all is said and done the light table shouldn’t cost us more than $175(and that is giving some leeway for the table). I know it sounds like a lot, but if we were to buy the type and size of light table we are going to make, we could spend at least $400. And that isn’t including the supplies you need to go with it. So it is most definitely a bargain. First we are going to get Magnatiles, the smaller set of 32 and some translucent pattern blocks, just to start out. Then come April, we will add either more Magnatiles or Prism Bricks or a translucent Marble Run. Plus a few other activities you can do with the light table with stuff found around the home- like Baking soda, vinegar and food coloring. And we can add new parts to the light table every so often so they have choices. Same goes for the sensory table. Then once we have a nice collection built up, we don’t have to worry so much about toys. The kids can get a new toy and we can put the rest of the “gift” money towards a family trip. My idea is that, the kids would have more fun opening a gift or two, and then going to Nickelodeon Universe to ride some rides and see Spongebob, or going to a water park in the winter time. I think it would be cool if we could do stuff like that and make memories like that instead of wasting money on plastic toys that the kids won’t even remember 20 years from now. The ultimate goal would be to pick a place overseas and go. Maybe go see some castles, or I don’t know… that goal is still at least a decade away, but that is what I have in mind.

So, that is my plan… my goal. I really hope we can do it!

Continuing. The Sensory table will cost far less than the light table. we will need a new bin/tub though. The one we were going to use, has a crack in the bottom, which hasn’t been an issue with the cloud dough, but if I were to put in water, then it would be a different story. And then we’ll start our collection of stuff for the sensory bin. Things like, flour, cornstarch, veggie/baby oil, vinegar, baking soda, food coloring, glue, shaving cream… all of which aren’t nearly as expensive as the supplies for the light table, so it is a perfect match to go along with it. The light table and the sensory table will be their 2 “big” and shared gifts. As for their “own” gifts, we’re thinking a real dollhouse for Rory. That Disney Little People Princess one looks perfect. And for Max, an Imaginex Batcave. I know he hasn’t been playing with his Joker Fun-house thing, and maybe a Batcave will help or not. Maybe Rory will just end up playing with it too and Max will end up playing with the Tables more. In the end I’m confident it will work out.

Bill got me a journal for our anniversary. And for the past month I’ve felt bad for not writing in it because I haven’t known what exactly to write in it, but I found a great use for it. I’m going to jot down all of my ideas in it. I have a TON of pins on pinterest that just sit there, because we just don’t have the items on hand to do most of them. And when I’m out and about, I don’t have a way to access pinterest to find out what I need. So I took some time yesterday to do just that. I wrote down some things I would like to do (especially since winter is right around the corner) and started a list of things we need to get in order to do these things. And then when I go out to do errands I can stop by the store and pick up a few things in order to do some of these activities! Genius… er not really but I feel like it.  Also have storage ideas I want for the play room and the craft area, gift ideas… and hopefully I’ll be able to add to it! Yay!

I came up with a budgeting idea the other night. I’ve heard and read just briefly about this “envelope” system of budgeting. Basically you divide up your money into envelopes according to your bills. So if your car payment is $250, then you put $250 in that envelope and don’t touch it except to pay for your car payment. Everything has its own envelope! But since all but 1 of our bills is electronic, I thought we could do it a bit differently. Instead we just take out “X” for food money, “X” for fun money and “X” for take out money and “X” for savings/just in case money, and put it in the safe and don’t touch it or the money in the bank. So I think we are going to try that and see how it goes.

I’m trying to stop using all of us being sick as an excuse to slack off. So let’s get moving!

Mom Fail.

29 Oct

So yesterday, I lost Max for a little bit. Yup. That’s right lost him. He’s 5 ( a new 5) and for the past few months, Bill and I have let him do his thing outside, by himself and we just go and check on him every so often. Been going well too…until yesterday that is. Usually one or both of us lets him do his thing while we finish up a few things around the house or getting Rory and ourselves ready to head out too and then we are all outside for a bit. But sometimes, like if Rory needs to nurse or needs a nap or if she is sick (like she is now with a cold and an ear infection) she can’t go outside. And I have to stay inside with her. But usually Bill is home and can help me with Rory or with going out and checking on Max. But, a co-worker of his needed yesterday off, and so Bill worked yesterday for this co-worker if the co-worker would work for Bill on Halloween. So it worked out. But left me at home alone with the kids on a weekend. Max had been driving me bonkers all day. I knew he needed to get out of the house, but I knew that if I let him out, Rory would want to go out and shes sick and can’t go out, so at first I was just trying to keep both happy and inside. But then Max heard kids outside playing and asked to go. I said OK. We went over our rules- No hitting. No going in the road. No going by the pop machine (which is in front of the clubhouse and too close to the road) and no taking off socks, shoes, jacket or hat. (a lot of kids either don’t wear these outside or take them off to play and it is too cold to be doing that).  And off he went. Rory got upset that she couldn’t go outside, but after a few min, we ended up having a tea party with some of her babies and all was good. Then she went to the play room to get something got sidetracked, and I used it as an opportunity to start cleaning the living room and kitchen. As my internal “mom” clock wore down, I put on my sweater and shoes and told Rory I’d be right back. I knew she would freak out, but it was going to be a quick run down the stairs and see what Max is up too thing. If I see him and he’s not bleeding I would run back up to the apartment. 1 min tops. So as she was freaking, Max came in. Told me he and Noah needed a snack. I said no, you just had a snack and Noah can go eat at his house. And I reset my “mom” clock and calmed Rory down again. Then she started helping me pick up some toys. And we played Princess for a few min. And once she got into playing I went to go do some laundry. Then Max popped in saying he needed his football. I told him OK and that he had 30 min left. With Rory and I sick, I know its only a matter of days when Max is probably going to get sick, so I didn’t want him outside too much. After he left, Rory came up to nurse. I thought perfect, as soon as she falls asleep, I’ll go bring Max in. Rory didn’t fall asleep and finished up nursing and started playing again and my “mom” clock was winding down again, so I got on the computer real quick to see when Bill would be home. He said he would try to get off at 4, I didn’t know what time it was, I knew it was probably around that time. So I emailed and facebooked him and even made a joke about not seeing Max for awhile…. (ugh), and I went to go get my stuff on to go get Max and I heard boys outside playing. I looked over and saw 3 boys faces peering over the balcony railing, Noah, John and Joey. And I was thinking to myself “Max better not being climbing up there”. So I run out before he could fall off and I don’t see him. And one of the boys, Joey, says he doesn’t know where Max is. And I’m not worried, because there are other kids he plays with, so I head over to the playground, but there is nobody there. I start to head back the back way to our apartment to go check out the field and trees near our apartment but I figure I should check near the pop machine just in case he’s playing football with the bigger boys there. That is wear they like to play football. Nope not there. Still not worried though. I head over to the field, the kids like to explore over there and I don’t see him. I ask the boy if they’ve seen Max yet and they still haven’t, but I’m still not worried because I figure that we’re just missing each other and figure if I keep walking around we’ll run into each other. So I do a quick walk around again, and still can’t find him. I go inside to get Rory cause I figure shes realized I’m not there and is freaking out. We bundle her up and head back outside and the boys ask if I found Max. I tell them no and they get on their bikes and start riding around yelling his name. I’m thinking he might be over a Jacob’s house, but I don’t know which one that is. So I’m hoping he’ll hear the boys and come out to play with them again. We’re walking around looking and then I figure I should ask Taylor if Max is there. The boys come with me and we ask Taylor but he isn’t there. So Taylor and her mom get bundled up and come help us look. Now, I’m getting worried and feel real dumb for not knowing where my kid is. We see a few new kids outside and ask the if they have seen Max and one girl, Madison said that she saw him at the playground up the street with some kids. So I have Rory go to Taylors mom and I run up the street to see if he is there. I see 3 kids and one, is on the swings and Max likes the swings so I’m sure its him, but as I get there, it isn’t and I asked the kids there if they have seen Max, and they hadn’t. So they get on their bikes and start yelling “MAX” and looking for him. I check the lake, because he likes to throw rocks in the lake, but still no Max. Someone suggests we check Josh and Connors house, so I ask Taylors mom if she’ll go check the KOA playground on the other side of a wooded area near our apartments, and I head over there. Half the kids go with Taylors mom the other half come with me. All of the yelling and looking. Just then Bill comes home-  I had messaged him while I was getting Rory ready to come outside telling him I really couldn’t find Max and that he needed to come home asap. So I put Rory in her car seat, we go to Josh and Connors house, but  he wasn’t there either. We were going to just go door to door and ask everybody if they have seen Max because we knew he just had to be at a friends house playing, we just didn’t know which one. And as we were pulling up to the apartment complex, we see Joey and Anna’s mom outside helping and Taylors mom was waving us down and told us they had found him. Where was he?…at Joey and Anna’s house playing with Anna. I guess Joeys mom heard the kids yelling for Max and had asked him if he asked to come over and he told her no, so she immediately brought him out and Taylors mom told her we were looking for him. She felt so bad. Max had his head down and his little chin was quivering. I jumped out of the car and hugged him and thanked everybody for helping us look. And we had a very long talk about asking before you go to a friends house. I showed him all of the people that love him and were scared because we thought he was gone. I felt dumb because I didn’t even think to check their house. I saw Joey and just forgot about Anna. They are in class together at school, but they haven’t really played together much, because Max is either playing with Taylor, or with Noah and Joey, or all 3. But I’m just glad we found him, and he, along with his friends got a “safe” lesson on why you don’t wonder off and why you ask to go to a friends house. So I guess in the end it worked out, and the only thing that got hurt was my mom ego.

But now, Max is sick, Rory is still sick and I’m trying to get better myself. So again… like last month, a day of doing nothing. Ugh.

If it ain’t broke…

14 Oct

It is hard navigating your way through parenthood. The do’s and don’ts, the shoulds, coulds and woulds.  But in the end all you can do is your best. All you can do is what works for your family, not what works for your neighbors, friends, family, complete strangers. This is probably one of the most important things parents (especially young parents) need to learn and always keep in mind. I know I struggle daily trying to remember this. But I also have to remember “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. 

See in our family things are working pretty well and running pretty smoothly.  We are still trying to get our bearings with this new routine, but that will only solidify how things are working around here. And I know that this will only be “for now”. Until Max gets a little bit older and his needs change and the same goes for Rory. 

I’ve been worrying about bedtimes for starters. We don’t really have “bedtimes”. We all go to bed when we are tired. Bill kind of has a bed time, but sometimes we get involved in more important family things and that goes out the window. All of us seem to be more night owls and take awhile to wind down. So instead of turning bed time into a power-struggle, we just let the kids stay up until we see they are tired. Max, when he gets tired, does a 180, and goes from being a “caged lion” running around, into a run-down, cuddly kid. Rory, she gets ornery. I try and catch them before they get that far, but when we let them get tried, and actually tired, they fall asleep easier with less fuss. Also, we have a little bed set up next to our bed, and it was meant for Max to sleep in, but sometimes Rory and Max sleep in it, sometime I do alone, sometimes I do with Rory or with Max and once Bill did alone. haha. We don’t care where the kids sleep, as long as they get enough of it. And that works for us. We aren’t worried they will be sleeping with us until they go to college, because we know they won’t. 

The other night, Bill had read the kids a story, put Max in his Spider-man bed, tucked him in and was playing Max some sweet 1950′s rock (Max loves it). I went in for my hug, kiss and to ask him what he wanted to do the next day as usual. As I was about to leave, Max asked if he could come cuddle. And I thought about just saying, “No you’re a big boy, so you should sleep in your own bed”. In fact I was thinking about what other families do and how they have their kids in their own beds and have bed times and all of that stuff, and I was really thinking about saying “You’re almost 5 and 5 year olds sleep in their own beds” but then I stopped and thought “wow, he’s almost 5. No, he can’t be 5, he’s going to be 5?!” And in that sec (or 2) I remembered the times I wanted to cuddle but he was too busy playing, reading, coloring, out riding his bike with friends and thought, how many more nights is he GOING to want to cuddle? I thought this might be the last night he asks, and I won’t know it until it is too late. I missed too many times for kisses, hugs and cuddles because I’ve been too concerned with what other’s may think or because as a young  mother my priorities at the time weren’t what they should have been. But I’m older, and wiser and have a much better head on my shoulders, so I will not let these opportunities slip away. So needless to say, Max got to cuddle with us. And it turned out to be a pretty awesome night. As Max was laying in bed with Bill, Rory and I were laying on the bed on the floor and Rory goes, “guess what? CHICKEN BUTT!” And we all laugh. And in the dark we all started telling jokes and laughing and having a wonderful moment. It was spontaneous  and fun and perfect. It wasn’t planned or scripted, and certainly wouldn’t have happened if the kids hadn’t been there. And that is when I realized I don’t care what other families do. We do what works for us. 

So I guess my post is about learning when to fix something and when not to. Bed times in our family, unlike some, aren’t stressful or a power struggle (usually of course there are some times when they are because we have kids) so we don’t need to fix it. Our kids get at least 10 if not 12 hours of sleep in the night, so they certainly aren’t lacking in sleep. We are however working on a routine, to fix transitions, to fix the tantrums and back-talking. Which has really helped, we still have work to do, but in the short time we have been working on it, it has helped.  We will probably have to “fix” bed times next year when Max starts kindergarten, but that can wait til then. 

Thinking Ahead

11 Oct

I know it is just barely October, but since we have already bought all of Max’s bday gifts, we are now looking ahead to Christmas. We are moving towards more “open-ended” toys (play dough, blocks, sensory and light table, dress up, pretend toys) and less electronic, toys (computers, kid tablets…anything battery operated). First we have wanted to make a light table since last Christmas and have found a way to use a busted flat screen TV to make a huge one. So Bill has put in a request for a busted TV (awesome how that worked out huh?) and we are just waiting for the size we want to come in. We actually didn’t think it would take as long as it has, he has been on the waiting list for over a month or so. So we are putting off making the light table and we’ll hedge our bets and make the sensory table (which we have everything for) for Christmas as their “shared”  BIG gift (along with colored rice, and other supplies for the sensory table). And when the TV comes in for the light table, we’ll make that and give it to them just because.

Now, even though all of their toys are technically ‘shared’ toys (I know we are lame), we do still give them their own stuff. We actually don’t even MAKE them share, they just do (most of the time without much incident). But we don’t make a big deal out of Max playing with Rory’s doll house or babydolls (which he does) or Rory playing with cars and guns (which she does).

We just made Rory a bookcase dollhouse for her birthday and she loves it. Plays with it every day in fact. But, last week there was a commercial for this Fisher-Price Little People Disney Princess Dollhouse, and Max asked Rory if she wanted it, and she got excited and said YES! Now, she might have just said yes, because it seemed Max was pretty excited about it…or she could really want it. But I think maybe that will be “her” gift. And then We found Max a Imaginext Spider-Man playset that will go with his Joker one he is getting for his birthday. I’m pretty confident in these choices, but will continue to do research. But a playset each, a sensory table and all the fixins, sounds pretty awesome. Probably some play dough for Max and a few little baby doll accessories for Rory as stocking stuffers, and I think we’ll be set. Probably get a mirror or 2 for the playroom, to put in their dress-up area.

A few other things I’ll be looking into are:

Magnatiles (light table)

WonderMaze

Pattern Blocks

and

Kid Smart Markers.

I also need to allocate time for me to sit down, look through my “Kiddos” board on pinterest and write down all of the supplies I need for the ideas I have pinned. So many ideas I cannot do because we simply do not have what is needed to do them!

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