A moment to cool down

C is a very emotional and at times can seem to hold a lot of anger. I’ve been doing all I can to help her work through the anger without downplaying the validity of it. While to me it seems like there is no reason for her to be upset, for her it is very real. I’ve changed my ways and explain every time that she has a right to feel angry, but does not have the right to treat me poorly as a result. Working it out for her typically means time in her room alone where she can yell and kick her feet safely. When she’s calm, she comes out and we talk about the actions that lead to the anger and the fall out. This usually involves a lot of tears and is followed up by lots of hugs.

Her latest go to has been to tell me that I don’t love her when she’s in trouble. I constantly reiterate to her that I do love her and it is because I do that there are rules to follow.  I know she’s just trying to make sense out of life and it must be terribly hard at 5 years old.

The other day it was a blow-out of epic proportion over a hat. We were letting her pick a new one out, but she kept trying to tell me she needed earmuffs. M and I were not budging as we are in a climate that earmuffs are not overly practical. The tantrum carried out as M checked out, in the car, and at home. M and I had separate errands to run at that point so he decided it was easiest for him to take C with him and I take J. She carried on in his car for a short time, but finally realized it was getting her no where. She stopped, became quiet, and finally told him she was sorry for acting like that. BIG steps for her. It’s all about getting her to realize that the consequences are a direct result of her actions and not because M and I are the meanest parents ever (which we’ve been told on multiple occasions).

This was the 2nd time in recent history where she has taken it upon herself to calm down on her own and apologize without prompting. I like to see this as a positive step for us. I’ve told her that when she gets mad she just needs to take a few moments alone so she can calm down and prevent herself from getting into any further trouble.

I’ve learned not to take the things she says while angry to heart. I know she doesn’t fully comprehend what she is saying. Sometimes she says things that sting. (Especially that I don’t love her or that I love J more.) In the end I keep on reassuring her that even when she’s mad or I’m mad I still love her (equally as much as I love J) and it’s not her I don’t like, it’s the actions she chooses at times.

These cool down times are essential for her. She needs time to decompress. When we’re in the car after daycare or school, she doesn’t like to talk most of the time. I realize she just needs some time to process her day and now change modes into home time. As an adult I need it to and use my moments in between work and picking up kids as my time to leave work at work and focus on home. I’m going to keep encouraging her to find ways to calm herself and release her frustration. I can’t always make things magically better, but I can at least show her the best way to deal with it all.

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Back to the grind

I’ve had a lot to write here, but so little time to write it seems. Our lives were flipped upside down when we welcomed J to our family in September. He came 4 weeks early, just one day after C’s birthday. Our lives were thrown into chaos.

We’ve worked our way through. We adjusted to having 2 kids and battled through the holidays. It’s has been very hard on one special little girl though. It’s tough going from center stage for 5 years and then realizing you have to share that spotlight.

Lately there has been a lot of back talk, arguing, tantrums, and anger. At the heart I know it’s her trying to deal with a lot of changes. 4 months is not a long period of time to adjust to so many things being different, on top of holiday excitement.

She not only gained a brother, we move the playroom, gave J her furniture and gave her new stuff, started Kindergarten, stopped seeing her BFF on a daily basis, and started dancing on a competition team. For a 5-year-old it is a lot to grasp onto and not feel like you’re lost.

We’ve started a reward system for her. It has been working okay. I’m optimistic that with the Holidays behind us she will have a better chance of things mellowing and getting into a better pattern. We’re going to focus on what she’s doing right. I plan to make more time for activities she loves and hope for the best.

It’s hard to split attention. I have a baby that needs me quite a bit still. I have a hard time explaining to her that it will get easier. She doesn’t care about 3 months down the road, she only understand that right now she is not getting the attention she needs or wants.

I’ve been driven to the brink of my patience at times. 2 kids screaming and nobody to lend a hand. It’s those moments where I look inward and try to grasp on to anything positive. I take a deep breath, go to who needs me the most and work through the issues. It is not easy and I haven’t done it all right or the best way, but I’ve muddled through.

This year I’ve challenged myself to grow as a parent. To find more time for my kids and less time for distractions. To unplug more and make sure I’m making all the time that I can quality time for one or both kids. Taking the time to realize C will need “dates” and her own time so she still feels special. I want to research, learn new methods, and find what works for us. I know that what has worked in the past may not work now and that’s ok. Now is the time to find something new and forge a new path.

Spittle

C spit at the lunch table at daycare yesterday.

This is the 3rd time in the last month she’s decided to spit on something. First it was her BFF’s pillow, the other day it was the door, and yesterday the lunch table.

I have no idea what has gotten into her.

I know the door and the table was a result of her being mad. Mad because I was mean and told her she could come outside to catch pneumonia. Yesterday she was mad she had ended up in the corner because she was being rude to the other kids. Clearly her daycare provider and I must be out to get her. We must certainly be making her be naughty so she has to get in trouble…yeah, that’s it!

We’ve now had plenty of discussions about how spitting is gross and unacceptable. I am crossing my fingers this phase is over.

When she’s punished with a timeout, early bed time, or things taken away her famous defense is, “I’m going to be good now”. Repeatedly I tell her that I’m very happy she’s now choosing to be good, but because she chose not to be earlier, the punishment sticks. She’s told that if she makes better choices and refrains from being naughty she won’t have to have a punishment, but until that happens she is going to have to learn to deal with the consequences.

She’s been told as of now that if she is big enough to choose to be naughty, she’s big enough to tell me what she’s done wrong and to handle the consequence of her actions.

It seems like a lot for a little kid to remember, but she’s gotta learn the lesson sooner rather than later. I can’t be called to the principal’s office on a regular basis.

 

 

 

A major update on life as we know it

Life has totally escaped me lately. Things are piling up around me and I’ve had to wade through to take care of the most important things first. So here is currently how life is for us.

M & I decided on New Years Eve that it was time to expand our family. Fast forward to 4 weeks later and we found out we are expecting baby #2. We are over the top excited. It happened so fast for us. We feel blessed that we were able to conceive to quickly and that now that I am at 17 weeks, everything (other than the all day sickness) is going as expected. We have found out we are expecting a boy! So very excited for that journey. His name will be J.

C who has been begging for over a year to be a big sister is excited that it is finally happened. However, I don’t believe she fully understands what that all means. Mommy is has a baby in her tummy and we are continually discussing the upcoming changes that will be happening.

C is all registered for Kindergarten. I can’t believe I’m sending my baby to Kindergarten. Time flies so fast. I am looking forward to it. She is ready for this next step. It will be something that is all for her when baby J comes along. We’ve met the teachers and walked around the school, she realizes now she is officially a “big” girl.

Her attitude lately goes between good to downright horrible. For instance, yesterday she was not happy I wouldn’t let her come outside in 30 degree with no hat, coat unzipped, to catch snowflakes on her tongue. Her reaction…to spit on the back door window. Unfortunately this is not the first spitting incident in recent history. After sending her to her room for a timeout we talked about how spitting is not acceptable behavior. I then asked her to please feed the dog as that is her daily chore. She threw a massive fit. Again resulting in a trip to her room. She calmed down and apologized.

She’s been up and down lately. I’ve been trying to get to the bottom of it, but haven’t found that there is any root to the issues. At this point I’m going with her trying to test boundaries  I have been trying to be more strict with things so that I’m not giving out 10 warnings before giving out the punishment. I was letting somethings slide that I probably shouldn’t have been. With M traveling for work, I am the one left to handle the situations and frankly sometimes I just don’t have the energy. Which isn’t fair to her or myself. I am working on being more consistent so she doesn’t continually get mixed signals. The other part is that I have been struggling with feeling like maybe I shouldn’t be so strict with a 4-year-old. Then I realize she needs these boundaries put in place now. It will set-up her expectations of life as she gets older and when she’s in school.

So we’re a work in progress still. Our family dynamic will be changing when baby J enters are lives and we are all preparing ourselves for it. I can’t wait to meet our little man and I know C will adjust and be the big sister I know she can be.

Holiday Cheer

We survived Christmas, thankfully! M came home last week and I feel like we’ve been going non-stop ever since. Finishing last minutes errands. We celebrated with family over the weekend and through the holiday. Overall C was pretty good. Most of her issues we due to not listening to us, but she reacted quick when we had to give out consequences.

On Sunday we went to my grandparents house. She met her new BFF, my cousin A. C has met A only once before. Since Sunday all I have heard is how A is the best cousin ever. In fact, C decided A was her new BFF even before A came inside the house. For the record, A is great. I’m happy to call her my cousin and she was absolutely wonderful with C. She let her lead her around, sit on her lap, and talk her ear off.

Monday we went to church and dinner with my parents. We’re not regular church goers. We believe, we just haven’t found a church we really like and agree with to a level we’re comfortable with. C is not baptized. We decided it would be her decision if she wants to be. She typically does fairly well at church and for the most part she did. She did get fairly antsy and wanted to talk much louder than she should have. She was just overly excited about the fact that Santa was coming to her house.

Tuesday, she was ecstatic to see that Santa had left her a doll house as she requested. It was not the exact one she had wanted, but the fact that Santa had brought it trumped that. She was overjoyed to have my parents join us Christmas morning. She had made them a present and could not wait for them to open it. I was so proud of her, she had received a bunch of things, but she was just as happy to give as to receive. She was also excited about every gift she got. We went to M’s parents that night. All the kids open presents before dinner and the adults open after. Again I was proud. She shared her new gifts with her cousin, the littlest M. They are a year a part and the youngest of all the cousins. (There are 8 total) When they get together they hang out and play. For the most part she was happy to ditch the gifts all together just to play with him. She cuddled up with her aunts and couldn’t give enough kisses to her Uncle C. She was happy to get gifts, but she was happier to be around her family. Which is really what Christmas is about. It’s hard to make a 4-year-old understand that, but she seemed to do it all on her own.

I’m slightly glad the craziness of Christmas is over. I hope that C can find some calm now and we can continue to work on the behavior. She’s been doing pretty well, but now that Santa has come and gone, there is no real threat that he won’t bring gifts if she is naughty. Yes, I used that trick. Sometimes I have to use all the tricks I can. I’m looking forward to a new year and hopefully some new understanding and view points for us. A fresh slate. M, C, and myself will continue to find our path. As many twists and turns as there may be, I’m glad it’s a journey we’re making together. I’ve been a mom for 4 years now, but every experience is still new. She’s never been a 4-year-old at Christmas before or been a 4-year-old who’s learning to write before.

It’s been very happy holidays for us and I look forward to the new year ahead.

Take Nothing for Granted

Last week C was challenging beyond anything she has before. She was deliberately ignoring me, talking back, and being mean to her friends. I was frustrated  On Friday her best friend L was going to sleep over, due to the actions of both girls at daycare, they lost that privilege. Her best friend just happens to be the daycare providers daughter. All week they had been pushing their limits, on Friday they just couldn’t help themselves. They knew we’d cancel it if they were naughty, but clearly they didn’t mind.

I was frustrated when I got the call early in the day that they had already been bad enough to have it cancelled, but by the afternoon all I could think about was hugging C tight and never letting go.

As parents we never expect tragedy striking our children. We plan for them to out live us. On Friday, the parents of 20 children didn’t get that luxury.

As challenging as a parent is to be to C, I am happy to be. In an instant everything can change. I’ve made it a point recently to let her know that even though I am not happy with her actions, I do still love her. It’s hard for a 4-year-old to wrap their head around that, but I want her to hear it.

I did what I believe every parent did this weekend. I hugged her tighter, I kissed her more, I played longer, I made the weekend fun for her, and I made sure to tell her I loved her every moment I had. I don’t want to take being a parent for granted. Sure it’s not easy, but I am blessed to have the chance and I’m forever grateful that she is happy and healthy.

I didn’t tell her about the shootings, I believe she is too young for all of that. However, I know there will be a day when I have to explain situations like this. My heart breaks for that moment when innocence will be lost due to the horrific actions of others.

I pray for the little souls that are now looking down on their parents. I pray for their parents, while I know it will be something they can never “get over”, that they find joy in their memories and peace in their heart. I pray for the teachers and their families who went to work to mold these lives only to lose their own. I pray for the family that now has to deal with the repercussions from the actions of another family member.

 

The Magic of Christmas

I’ve always liked Christmas. When I was younger, we had a competition with my grandma to see who would be the first to play Christmas music. We’d call each other with it playing in the background. She used to play the Alvin and the Chipmunks record for my brother and I. To this day it’s one of my favorites. Christmas for us was a time to be around our family and enjoy their company. As I grew up I loved Christmas as a time to spoil my young cousins. (I’m 15 years older than the next oldest) I loved watching them get excited for Santa and to open their gifts.

Now having C, I love the season even more. This is her 5th Christmas. We’ve seen Santa every year. This year she sat on his lap with no qualms. The last 2 years she screamed bloody murder when sitting on his laps. She was so excited to tell him what she wanted. (A dollhouse) She can not wait for him to visit our house. She loves having the tree up and lights on the house. Tonight we took a little detour on the way home so she could see some lights on other houses. Watching her at the parade this weekend was so great. Her eyes lit up and she was so happy to see Santa at the end of it. She asks everyday how many more days there are.

This is the Christmas I have been waiting for. The one where she finally was looking forward to it. The one she finally understood what the excitement was all about. The one where she will be bouncing out of bed on Christmas morning to see what’s left under the tree. The one where the magic comes a live. She will only be at this stage for a short time before she decides she’s to old to believe. There is something about the innocence of believing in Santa that cannot be replaced. I want to keep her this little forever. (I know, I know, I need to read my last post again!)

I know Christmas is not all about the gifts, but to her it is. She understands a little about God and Jesus, but we’re not regular church goers. I focus on the fact that it’s a time to be together and celebrate a time of giving as a family. We’ll make candy and cookies and take in the season’s traditions. I am soaking up every moment of this season.

We Almost Made It

We almost made it the entire weekend with no major meltdowns or arguing. Saturday we lounged around most of the day. I cleaned and C played nicely in her playroom. We headed to my parents for dinner and then to the local holiday parade. She ate well, she listened, and she didn’t argue with me. I was nervous about the parade because I knew we’d have to wait awhile before the start. Thanks to my dad, she was entertained by an $8 light up toy (as partially seen in the pic above.) She did get a little antsy, but when I made it a game to watch for the start of the parade, she was quickly distracted. She loved the parade. Her favorite float was the Wizard of Oz. We just watched the movie and she loved it.

Today we made a run to the grocery store and while I made candy for Christmas gifts she looked on. We danced around the kitchen to the Christmas music, laughed, and had fun. She even told me at one point she was, “A little bit tired.” and wanted to rest for a while. She headed to my room with her blanket and laid down. I couldn’t believe it. Again she ate dinner with only a minor reminder she needed to finish her plate because there was not that much on it.

Then it was time to settle before bed. I told her we could snuggle and watch the Grinch for 10 minutes. She had other plans. C was jumping around the living room and making all kinds of noise. I asked her to settle, gave her to the count of 3, and sent her to bed. After she decided to repeatedly kick her wall, I took her light away. (She has a nightlight she can carry around and one that hangs on her wall.) She calmed quickly after that and I went back in. I talked to her about why she had to sleep in her bed without her light and go to bed without snuggles.

I’m happy that the majority of the weekend went well. I’m a little bummed it turned sour as it ended. It is a vast improvement from the past and I’ll take that for sure. She was able to voice her thoughts to me when I went back in to her room and I think that helped her. She seemed to be calm and feel like I was listening. Most of it was gibberish, but it made her feel better to get it out.

One day at a time, that’s all I can plan for. Tomorrow might be completely different and I just have to learn to roll with the punches.

1 Step Forward, 2 Steps Back

I feel like we have taken 2 steps back recently. C had been having more good days than bad. She was well mannered, listened well, and followed the rules. However, lately she’s fallen in to her old pattern. I’ve been scratching my head to figure out why. It could be Christmas. It could be that M is gone for work. It could be that we’ve been telling her she needs to act like a big girl if she wants to go to school or be a sister. Maybe it’s the pressure of it all.

This weekend we have nothing really going on. We may go take in the local holiday parade, but that’s about it. I’m hoping some good quality time with no agenda will help her. It is so frustrating to me to be back t what feels like the beginning. It seems as if everything is a battle, even if it is one I’ve chosen not to fight. We have had a significant number of bad days lately and it is wearing on both of us. I may be calling in reinforcements (my dad) for a break this weekend. It does no good to have me stressed out. It makes matters worse and is not fair to C or myself.

I’ve laid out the rules for the weekend. I told C that she is expected to listen, not yell at me, and stop the sassing. (Which sometimes does make me laugh on the inside because its a bunch of gibberish that makes no sense, but she is dead serious about it.) I told her she gets 1 warning and after that if she is naughty again, she is headed to her room until the can control it. I hope we can put a stop to it all before it starts. I’d prefer she not have to waste a whole weekend in her room. I also want to work on her vocalizing what she is upset about it. Currently she prefers to grunt, scream, and whine instead of talking. I can accept and respect her getting upset, but I refuse to tolerate any of that. It won’t fly in real life and it won’t fly here. With respect to the fact that she is only 4, I’m willing to help her out and work with some of it while we find the root of the problem.

Her new phrase is, “I don’t know.” It’s something I find frustrating, but then I think that she probably doesn’t really know what’s making her be mad or act out. All she knows is that at that moment in time she is unhappy.

It could be a long weekend, but hopefully we come out on the other side happier, understanding, and with a new perspective.

The big A

M and I went to Vegas for a long weekend last week. We had a blast. C stayed at her daycare providers house. M and I enjoyed a much-needed vacation. (Our first real vacation in 5 years!) C had fun, but was sick most of the time. She caught a cold and it kicked her little butt. Poor thing slept most of Saturday and just felt icky.

After a few more days where the cough and congestion didn’t seem to be disappearing as fast as it should. M and I talked and he brought her to the doctor yesterday.

(On a side note: She told the doctor when he came in she did not want any shots. Clearly she remembers being there a little while ago and the agony she was in over the shots. Poor girl)

The doctor checked her out and came to the conclusion, she has asthma. (My suspicion was right.) When she gets a cold she ALWAYS has trouble breathing until it finally leaves her. She’s had a nebulizer for well over a year and we’ve been using it more and more lately.

I feel my heart breaking for her. I fully realize that there are much worse things for her to be diagnosed with, but you never want to hear that your child was just diagnosed with a potentially life long and life threatening (at times) condition.

She’s going to get a steroid daily through the neb. I did a lot of reading and asked friends about their experiences. I understand from all this, there really isn’t anything else they can give her at this time. While I’m not a fan of giving her steroids, if it keeps her airways clear, I will. this also means we will be lugging around the neb quite a bit, but it’s a small price to pay to insure she will breathe easier.

C is ok with having to do it. I think she likes the neb. Hopefully she continues with that thought. It’s possible that over time her asthma will go away, but for now it’s going to become part of our life. I think I’m a little scared about what this means should she have an attack or start to get sick, but we’ll deal with the situations as they come at us. I’m hopeful that we will be able to get it under control and when she gets sick she won’t have the trouble she’s had in the past.

I’d do anything for my little peanut. But sometimes it sucks to be a parent and be faced with all of this.