Thursday, December 11, 2014

How to be Michelangelo

(Well past Halloween, I know, but I have been extremely busy) I am not finding the final picture of Mater in his TMNT costume, but this should give you a pretty good idea.  I used acrylic paint.  The white shirt and grey pants (all I could find) were dyed; thinking about it later, I could have just dumped acrylic paint into a bucket of water and let them soak (rather than use actual green dye).  I kinda forgot that they were soaking in the bucket, so they ended up soaking for an extra hour and turned into this olive green color, but that actually is perfect for a ninja turtle costume.  I free-handed everything.  The band on the both the front and black was orange.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

A Not to Scary Halloween

Well, today was Halloween (it's after 1 AM on Saturday, so it's technically not October 31st anymore, but since I haven't been to bed yet it is still Halloween in my book; I have a hard time going to sleep when my husband gets called to a fire. I just pray he makes it home safely.).  This is the first year that Mater has really been old enough to "get into" Halloween a little bit (will post costume pics later because right now I am too lazy), and this was Dorothy's first Halloween.

Our Beggar's Night tradition consists of Donald helping hand out candy and glow necklaces at the fire station, I take our kiddo(s) to Trunk or Treat at the church and a few houses of people we know, we hang out at the fire station the rest of the night, and we go home and go to bed.

I love the local Trunk or Treat that the church does.  My little ones get a small taste of trick or treating from people we know, only a little bit of candy, and the rest of the night we get to spend with Daddy.  This year there was the added bonus of a free hot dog supper (THANK YOU), which was great that I didn't have to cook or worry about what my kid was going to eat for supper.  One of the church members who participates in Trunk or Treat always has some kind of scary set up in his pickup and wears a scary mask.  I don't remember how things went over with him last year last year, but I will tell you how we handled it this year...

One of the first things Mater noticed when we got there was the "scary guy."  I reassured him, "It's OK, it's just pretend."  We went to all the friendly trunks first, then the scary guy last.  I told Mater we were going to go see him, but he mentioned about how scary the guy was.  I told him that I would go with him, and that he isn't scary; "it's just pretend."  We walked up to the pick up, and I told Mater he could wave at the scary guy; the scary guy waved back.  I said, "See, he's a nice guy.  He's just pretending to be scary."  The scary guy walked around to the opposite side of the pick up so that he wouldn't scare Mater very much; I picked up the bowl of candy for Mater to pick out a piece, and Mater even told the scary guy "thank you."  While we were standing there, Mater even said, "I not scared of him.  It's just pretend."  I'm pretty sure he got it.  The rest of the evening we talked about the scary costumes we saw at the fire station and how it's just pretend.

Well, this is how we handled the scary Halloween stuff with a toddler; hopefully I have the same success with Dorothy when she gets to be that age, but she will have her big brother to help show her the way.

NOTE: Excuse me for any grammatical errors and such because it's is 1:28 in the morning and I'm tired; I heard a couple minutes ago through the pager, my husband voice saying that he was back at the station.  Knowing that he is now safe, I can go to bed and get a bit of sleep so that some way, some how, I can survive tomorrow (which is technically today).  By the way, there was a fire very early this morning (technically yesterday), plus I had slept like crap anyways so I'm like SUPER tired!  I guess my family is going to get an extra dose of crazy lady tomorrow (technically today). ;)  Oh yeah, I guess the first thing I ought to do is take my son to bed; he had passed out on the couch.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Potty Training: Day 5 CELEBRATION

I just realized this evening that this is more than potty training; it's so much bigger than that...

I am celebrating tonight because Mater got 10 stickers, all in one day!  My sister in-law and a niece were here briefly to drop something off and the two munchkins played until it was time for them to go.  While they were here, Mater earned two stickers; his final stickers to make 10 and get back one of his "big boy" items.  He was SOOO excited; he even made sure his cousin watched him use the potty.  He was so proud of himself.

Before we place the 10th sticker on the chart, I gave him a list of options as to what he wanted back and he said his (stuffed) tiger.  After we put the 10th sticker on, I asked him again, and again, he said he wanted his tiger. (FYI, his tiger has been "watching" him use the potty from the top of the messy dryer.)

Well, I pulled that tiger off the dryer, and Mater was so happy that he gave him a GREAT BIG squeeze.  It was so sweet.  From that moment until he went to bed (except for when he used the potty again), he didn't let go of his tiger.  He kept a tight hold on that tiger.  My sister in-law, whom works in early childhood education, said to me that she thought it was a pretty ingenious idea to take away and give back to them the stuff they already have, rather than buy them something new.

I guess you could say that it all goes back to the three R's.  In this house, toys, blankies, and books are a privilege, not a right.  He probably appreciates his stuffed tiger more now than he ever has before.

Potty Training: Day 5

Well, we are 5 days into this potty training thing, and I think it's going O.K.  Mater still won't poop in the potty though.

We had a hectic weekend, but we used the potty as much as we can.

I must admit that I kinda have a love-hate relationship with this no toys and movies/TV thing because I love the toys and movies too. (Did I mention I'm a kid at heart?)  It's pretty quiet around here, but I miss being able to play dinosaurs and tractors with Mater and Dorothy, but we have been pretend dinosaurs and monsters, so that's something.  He has even pretended that his cousins and/or aunts are at our house.

We some times really have to bribe him to use the potty (M&M, money for his piggy bank, candy, etc.).  Other times though, we don't have to bribe him; he will sometimes even forget that he is suppose to get an M&M or something, but other times, he is the one reminding me! HAHA  

Mater's Potty Chart and Stickers
(green rectangle hides his real name)
I decided to make a potty chart, which I made just late this morning.  After getting 10 stickers (he picks which sticker), then he gets one of his "big boy" items back, he gets to decide.  Once he is 100% potty trained, then he gets a new toy (a totally awesome Mr. Potato Head with all kinds of parts to mix and match with, like I had as a kid, that I have been looking all over for).  

As you can see in the picture, the potty chart is nothing fancy; just something I whipped together.  It's not perfect by any means, but lets face it, Mater doesn't care how perfection, just fun!  The star equals a reward ("big boy" item).  He wanted me to make a tractor; well, Mommy isn't very good at drawing tractors, but Daddy is, so Daddy drew a tractor on the chart for him. 

He has three types of stickers to choose from.  First, TMNT stickers.  Second, free stickers that grandma and grandpa somehow got in the mail, and third, foam letters that aren't actual stickers (didn't realize that till today, I bought them Saturday), so I glue them on.  If he picks a letter, we talk about what letter it is and what color the letter is, so we are sneaking in all kinds of learning without him even knowing it.

I keep reminding him that if he poops in the potty then he will get to watch a movie, so I'm working on some kind of poop in the potty movie poster thing.  When I get that figured out and done, then I will get a picture of it added.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Potty Training: Day 1

So when I went to bed last night, potty training Mater was the very last thing I had in mind.  When I woke up this morning, I started thinking about this potty training idea I got years ago.  I asked Donald his thoughts about this technique (he didn't have any opinions), and at 9:00 this morning, I started potty training Mater.  What is this technique you ask?  Well...

We picked up every toy ("big boy toys" to be exact) in this house, except for Dorothy's baby toys, and put them away into storage.  I put away most of his books, which he loves, because they are "big boy books."  I took away his "big boy blankies" and "big boy tiger" (stuffed that he sleeps with).  He can't watch movies or even "Curious George" because that is only for "big boys."  I even put him in the high chair, rather than his booster seat, to eat lunch today, and yes, I even fed him his lunch and held his sippy cup for him as he took drinks.  I put pull-up on him with "big boy underwear" over that.  I set a timer for 20 minutes, and every 20 minutes I got him onto the potty, one way or another.

We start PT (potty training) him after Dorothy was born, but we just couldn't get him to poop in the potty.  Well, Mommy is sick and tired of having two babies in diapers.

All day, we've talked about the "big boy" things he can't do anymore because he is a baby because he still uses a diaper.  We do use M&Ms as a treat for using the potty, so I use that as a way to get him to sit on the potty if he isn't doing it voluntarily.

He has already told me he wants his toys, but when I told him that they were only for "big boys" and he couldn't have them till he used the potty he got upset.  He has gotten upset a few times about it today, but that's OK; my job is NOT to make him happy 100% of the time.  He wants to play with his fire truck, but he can't.  He wants to play dinosaurs, but he can't.  He wants to play with his big combine, tractors, color, and watch "Peter Pan," but he can't because that is only for big boys.  I did tell him though that if he poops in the potty then we get to watch a movie together.

Before I started this huge task this morning, I did seriously consider the upside and downside of this.  Downside: we can't play tractors, dinosaurs, and watch movies together.  Upside: there is less crap in my tiny little house, he has to find something to do besides play with toys.

I have absolutely no idea if this is the right thing to do or not, but I don't care.  I'm trying it.  I seriously think it is going very well though.  I will keep you updated.

Not-So-Perfect Parents

I am not perfect.  I am not a perfect parent.  Whew!  There, I'm so glad I got that off my chest.  Here is a list of reasons why were are not perfect parents:

My toddler eats plain old boring peanut butter sandwiches.  Sometimes we add a little jelly just to change it up a bit.

We don't offer our son fresh fruits and veggies at every meal every day.  Offering it at one meal a day is pretty successful in my book.  After all, that stuff gets expensive, and I try to only go to the grocery store once a month.

We follow the 5-second (or however long it's been there) rule because a little dirt never killed anybody.

One day this week, my son found a pebble of poop laying on our carpet.  At least it was the toddler and not the baby, so he knew not to put it in his mouth.  (In our defense, the poop just blended into the color of the carpet, and here lately, I've been changing 95% of the diapers on the floor rather than on the changing table.)

We have never read parenting books.  I read some of "What to Expect When You're Expecting" when I was expecting Mater, but that's as close as I've come.

We are a meat and taters kind of family, which gets expensive too, but I mostly just prefer the taters, so I save most of the meat for Mater and Donald.

I buy clothes that are the cheapest and fit because they grow entirely too fast.  On occasion I will splurge a little just because something is cute and on sale, but that doesn't happen very often.

I am not oppose to hand-me-down clothing, toys, etc. for my children, especially if it's FREE.  If I get something cheap or on sale, it's great, but if I get it free that is even better! 

I have no problem holding a diapered child's butt up to my face and sniffing it to determine if they are poopy.

If I have a long enough fingernail to do so, I will picky my baby's nose with my pinky when a bulb syringe is not available.

In a good week, the kids get a bath once.

I have many levels of clean when it comes to clothes.  If it was worn once and has not spots of dirt or food on it, then it's still clean.  If it's been worn and just have a little bit of something on it then it is a little dirty but still wearable for at home.  If it is just covered in food and/or dirt then it is dirty and unwearable until it gets washed.  Even with following this logic, I always have a hamper full of my children's laundry by Friday morning.

When it is the proper time, I encourage my children to get dirty or won't stop them from getting dirty anyways.

I yell at my kiddo.  I love both of them to pieces, but sometimes they make mommy a little nutty, especially when Mater is having issues with selective hearing.

We have the parenting philosophy "no matter what we do, we are going to screw our kids up."

If at the end of the day the house is here, everyone has been fed, and everyone is still alive then we have had a GREAT day!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Bat & Monster Craft

We love Halloween around here.  I saw this idea of hanging bats made of out toilet paper tubes, found here.  Aren't they cute?  I decided that I wanted some of these in our picture window, so we made a total of 7 monsters and bats.  Below are the results.

Paint, glue gun, googly eyes, pipe cleaners, etc. (please excuse the mess)

View from outside

View from inside

I just thought our flag was looking particularly beautiful at the time :)

Being Mrs. Mom

Being a stay at home mom, I've found that there are some people who think I do nothing all day every day.  On occasion (usually when he's just frustrated with the whole world), even Donald thinks that, until he gets a reminder of how "easy" it is.  There is a lot to being a SAHM.

Ideally, every day goes very smoothly, and I get everything that I want and need to get done in a day: breakfast, baby nap, unload/load the dishwasher, laundry, play with kiddos, vacuum, dust, pick up and put away toys & books, bottle, lunch, naps, bottle, another nap for baby, a good supper (I'm talking meat & taters kind of meal), another bottle, jammies, and straight to bed.  Yeah, um... that's not reality in this house.

On a good morning, Mater and I get the dishwasher unloaded/loaded and maybe a minute amount of cleaning done, in addition to the necessities (bottles, diapers, etc.).  Abut once a month I get so fed up with the mess I call my home that I do some "deep" cleaning.  By deep cleaning I mean vacuum all the carpet a little, give Mater the duster, sweep up the rocks and grass on the vinyl floors, and use the Swiffer to clean the floors real quick.  In my defense, the housework will always be there tomorrow because most days I have something more important to do besides cleaning.

So, what's more important than cleaning, you ask?  My kiddos.  Mater and I will watch Curious George and/or movies together (Peter Pan, Ratatouille, etc.), and I LOVE to watch with him; I love his reactions.  We read books and color.  We wrestle around on the floor and tickle each other.  Until recently, we were busy trying to teach Dorothy how to crawl, in between the three naps that she takes in a day.  I'm also busy just cleaning up the messes that my kids make, whether it's spit up on the carpet from the baby or baby powder that the 2-year old found and dumped all over the room.  Yes, spit up... my baby girl is constantly spitting up, so I'm always thinking about that and doing what I have to do to keep her urping to a minimum.

At 1:00 PM, it is naptime for BOTH my babies.  Ah... beloved naptime; the only break Mommy gets is when her babies are sleeping.  When both are taking naps, I plug my headphones in and play my Sims so that I don't wake up the baby girl because her bed (actually it's a pack 'n play because there's no room for her crib in our bedroom right now) is right next to my computer.  There's not much else I can do during naptime because it will just wake up one or both kids.  I think I mentioned that we currently live in a 4-room house, so Mater's room is right off the kitchen & living room; I can't even make supper when he's napping, unless I am willing to wake him up, and I am NEVER willing to wake up my babies.  I follow the "let sleeping babies lay" rule.  Have you ever heard the song "Mr. Mom" by Lonestar?  If not, check out the video at the end of the post.  That's my day, every day, in a nutshell.

Since I became a SAHM, I've always felt that I needed to prove that I did something and was productive each day, to my husband and myself, but honestly, I realized yesterday (after reading this article) that I don't have anything to prove because being a stay at home mom is a luxury for my husband.  Donald doesn't have to worry about who will take care of the kids when their sick, because I am always here to do so.  I do 99% of the laundry, dishes, cleaning, and cooking around here, so he doesn't have to do much of it.  We are the ones raising our kids, not somebody else.  I, a parent, make the majority of the every day decisions in regards to our children, and Donald trusts that I will do my best to make the right decision.  With me being a SAHM, our kids get the kind of care and love that we want them to get; mommy's care and love.

It seems to me that since the women's rights movement, society acts like being a SAHM is a bad thing.  Society makes it harder to be a SAHM.  What is so bad about being a SAHM?  I LOVE it!  I liked the job I had before and felt that I was good at it (until I got pregnant with Dorothy and completely "lost" my brain), but I think I'm better at this, being a mom.  I love the whole old fashioned idea of being a Miss Susie Homemaker.  What's wrong with that?  Do you think I don't have goals or have nothing to contribute to society or something?  Let me tell you, I have plenty of goals.  I want to raise God-loving, moral people who will make the world a better place just by being the best person they can be.  I want to have a house full of grandchildren.  I want to spend as much time with my family as possible.  (break time: dancing with kiddos to "The Hampsterdance Song") I know that they will make mistakes; I want them to make mistakes, and I want them to learn from those mistakes.  I want to give my kids the tools they need to explore and learn things for themselves.  These are a few goals, and notice that I do have something to contribute to society, my children.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Breastfeeding: An Untold Story

We always hear about how great breastfeeding your baby is, because blah blah blah....  Some folks are even good at making you feel like the worst mom in the world because you didn't breastfeed your baby until they were at least a year old.  Well, I don't think it's so great.  In fact, I'm just going to come out and say how I feel about it: breastfeeding SUCKS!  There, I said it. ;)  If you breastfeed currently or have done it successfully in the past then more power to ya!  You really don't need to read any further than the end of this sentence because this is more for the moms who have tried and failed (for one reason or another) or simply chose not to try breastfeeding at all.  I tried breastfeeding twice, and failed miserably both times.

First, I am a VERY modest person.  I would go hide with the baby in my bedroom to nurse and/or pump while other people (exceptions: husband, mom, sisters) were around.  Mater was taken via a helicopter (without me) to a NICU when he was 24 hours old, and when we had visitors, I would close the curtain and hide so that I could pump/nurse.  Either way, I hated it because 1) I thought I was missing out on something (like seeing our relatives who we don't get to see much) and 2) (the main reason) I didn't like them knowing that my tah-tah(s) was/were hanging out.  I don't people to see my tah-tahs hanging out, nor do I want to see people with their tah-tahs hanging out, whether its a mom nursing her baby or Miley Cyrus twerking in an "outfit" that leaves nothing to the imagination.

Second, the frustrating amount of time that I spent nursing and pumping I felt that I should have spent doing something else, like playing tractors with my son.  I didn't, and still don't, want to miss a thing when it comes to what my kiddos are doing.  Every moment missed is a moment that I can't get back.  Not to mention how exhausted I was, and that I unknowingly had good 'ol PPD, which made me want to spend more time with Mater than with Dorothy.

Third, it hurts like a son of a gun and just an all-around nuisance!  My son was a instant-gratification baby, and since he was in the NICU he was sometimes given a bottle so that the nurses could monitor how much he was eating; FYI once during that week he ate 8 oz of milk.  BOTH of my babies were big (10 lb & 9 lb) and had big appetites.  After deciding twice that I hated to nurse for various reasons, I just tried pumping (no nursing at all), twice.  I failed miserably both times.  For starters, I couldn't pump enough to keep up with those big appetites.

Lastly, and certainly not least (there were A LOT more details about nursing both my kids than I will even mention here), I hate trying to lug around all the extra weight.  All that extra weight is more than my back can handle.

The only reason I have ever tired breastfeeding (and will if a third baby comes along) is for economical purposes.  It is obviously a lot cheaper to feed your baby milk that your body makes than it is to buy formula.  My oldest sister told me something once, because I was feeling very guilty about no longer nursing Mater when he was a baby, she told me that women used to (before formula was invented) nurse simply because they really didn't have any other choice, NOT necessarily because they wanted to.

So, if you're like me and decide that breastfeeding isn't for you don't feel like you are the worst person in the world for giving up and/or not trying at all because it just isn't for some people.  I tried twice.  I failed twice.  I will not let people make me feel guilty for failing and/or for not enjoying breastfeeding their baby; I may have to remind myself of this again later.

If you are someone who nurses their babies, and have read this far, then that is awesome for you that you enjoy it/could make it work for you.  But, again, this particular post was not meant for you.  I see all kinds of breastfeeding mothers support out there, etc., but I never see anything for those mothers who can't or won't for one reason or another and made to feel guilty (especially by the government and healthcare industry) about it.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Friday Night

So, I'm old (I think), or am I?  As I write this, many people my age (or younger) are out partying it up, drinking, and having what they refer to as "a good time" (I completely skipped that phase of my life and jumped right into marriage and family) so that tomorrow they can puke there guts out and remain completely worthless all day just so that they can do it all again that night and puke again the next morning (why?).  Meanwhile, I'm at home with my family.
Tonight was just another Friday night in our house; actually it really started out not any different from any other night.  While the baby is on her third nap, the 2-year old wakes up from his nap, but this time he's ever crabbier than he was before he took his nap.  Since he was finally awake, I could start making supper without having to worry about waking him up, because it was almost time to start the supper making process, but I couldn't....  He was WAAAY too mad at the world to let me even attempt to make supper (let's also not forget that he's been sick for a week).  We popped in "Peter Pan" (I don't know what we'll do if the DVD wears out on us).  And finally, it was actually time to attempt making supper (NOTE: my husband was unavailable as a distractor because he was working on our other house).

Now, I'm just assuming that since you are reading a blog about anything and everything related to children then you are either a parent or someone who works with children frequently (teacher, daycare, etc.).  So, you more than likely know how difficult it is to cook with a happy toddler let alone a grumpy toddler.  Well, long story short, we survived it and averted as many toddler crisis' as possible.

Skipping an unimportant part of the story... my baby started to basically crawl across the floor.  I was SO excited!  She did half crawl and half army crawled, but none the less, she crawled!  About 8 feet!  I was excited!  Mater was excited and helped me coax her into crawling!  We videotaped it, and we even called Daddy to tell him.

I looked up a music video for Lonestar's "Mr. Mom."  I hadn't heard that song in ages, so Mater and I sung and dance to that followed my some Elmo on IHeartRadio.  Then, when Daddy got home, we looked up some good 'ol fashioned twangy country music (Johnny Cash), because Daddy didn't like "Twinkle Twinkle."  The night ended with a family dance party in the living room with Johnny Cash.  It was great!  Fun was had by all.  Even little miss had fun; she watched us dance from the comfort of her Jumperoo and showed Daddy her newfound crawling skills (fyi she is a FAST little turkey).

Now, I am sitting here at 8:51 PM where.  Everybody in the house is sleeping, except for Mommy.  I'm just left with my thoughts and all the love I feel for my family.  I feel like the luckiest woman in the world because I get to spend my Friday nights with these three wonderful people whom I adore more than words can express.  I would be nothing without them.  They make me whole. (Maybe I'll go play some "Sims 2" for a little bit before bed.)

Thursday, September 25, 2014

"You're S-s-mart!"

Ah... sibling love.  Isn't it beautiful?

From the moment Mater met Dorothy at the hospital, he has absolutely adored her.  I'll admit that when I was pregnant I wasn't sure how Mater would handle being a big brother.  I thought he would be very jealous, which would make everything more difficult for me to deal with.  The reason I thought he would be jealous of a baby brother or sister is because when my parent's or I would hold one of his cousins, he would get jealous and "need" to be held too, for all of five seconds.  

But, the little lady was born, and he has never been jealous of her, as far as I can tell.  I don't know if it's just his nature or if it has more to do with the fact that when we got home from the hospital with her, nothing changed with the relationship we had with him.  I still got on the floor and played with him, we still talked, we still read books, and I still smothered him in hugs and kisses.  (Of course, going back to PPD, I unfortunately cared more about Mater when we got home from the hospital than I did baby girl.)

The first time he held her, he held her for 15+ minutes, and the only reason he stopped was because it was time for him to let somebody else hold her.  When we got home from the hospital, he liked to help a lot (still does) with his baby sister.  He liked to hold and feed her.  He would watch me change her diaper, get a diaper for her, put bottles in the sink, etc. (this later fostered into him helping me with everything around the house).

Reading to baby sister
Now, he likes to read to and play tractors, trucks, and dinosaurs with his sister.  Just yesterday, he was sharing his BIG combine, present from Santa, with her.  He constantly hugs and kisses her.  He expresses what my sister and I call "angry love," which is hugging and kissing someone that you love SO MUCH that you shake when you do it.  My mom tells Mater how smart he is, so now he tells his sister while giving her a angry love kiss, "You're s-s-MART!"to for my

While I never have liked the thought of having kids less than 3 years apart in age, I have found some positive things about it; I've had to in order for me to heal.  One of those positive things is how close they are.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Raised on the 3 R's

Were you raised with the three R's?  Are you raising your children with the three R's?  I was, and I am (trying).

Ah... the three R's: Reading, wRiting, aRithmetic.  Right?  Well, these are commonly known as the three R's, but these aren't the three R's that I'm talking about right now.  I'm talking about Respect, Responsibility, and Resourcefulness.

Respect (sn: courtesy)

My siblings and I were taught to be respectful of others.  Respect for our friends, parents, 4-H leaders, classmates, teacher, people who disagree with us, the livestock on our farm, toys, etc., and most of all to have respect for ourselves.  We were raised to live by the gold rule, which is simply treat others the way you want to be treated.  The hardest part about that is when you treat people the way you want to be treated, but they don't give you the same kind of respect.

Since my son was under a year of age and started hitting and biting, we have been trying to instill this ethical code in him, in ways that he can understand for his age.  The older he gets, the more he learns about this way of life.  He is learning that it isn't nice to hit and why.  He has learned to about share, and considering his age, I would (biasedly- yep, I make up words hehe) say that he does very well with this; things may change a bit though once his little sister starts playing with his tractors and trucks more.

Even now when he gets mouthy with his dad or me, we flat out tell him not to talk to us in such a manner (ie. "be nice").  He also tries bossing us around him sometimes.  We tell him not to boss us in a way that he understands because he is NOT the boss of us; we are the boss of him.

Responsible (sn: accountable)

I was in 4-H growing up (LOVE 4-H).  I showed market hogs, market sheep, breeding sheep, one bucket calf, and breeding beef at our county fair.  I had at least one livestock project every year at the fair plus at least one project in the exhibit building (photography, food & nutrition, self-determined, etc.)  I was involved with 4-H before I was even old enough to be a member because, with older siblings in 4-H, my entire family was involved with 4-H club activities (adopt-a-highway, trips to the zoo, etc.).  Later in my 4-H years, especially when I had a driver's license, I became even more involved in leadership rolls (club president, camp counselor, etc.).  Not only that, but I completed my record book each year and wrote thank you's to all of the business and individuals who purchased my livestock at the sale at the end of the fair.... -Did I mention that I LOVE 4-H? haha Perhaps I should write a post later all about 4-H.- My point of all of this is that I had many things to be responsible for growing up with 4-H, some was by choice and some wasn't.

Not only that, but once I could drive a car in high school I was involved with musicals and plays, tennis, and even was football manager.  With all the responsibilities of extracurricular activities also comes the responsibility of making sure I completed all my homework and did the best I could in all of my classes.

We are currently teaching our two-year old about responsibility.  Long before his second birthday, I started making him help pick up toys.  Now, he not only picks up his toys but majority of his messes as well (spilt milk, permanent marker on the vinyl floor, etc.)  When he manged to get ahold of the baby powder (we found out that day how great of a climber he is) and dumped basically the entire contents of the bottle around his room, I put his toys in the bathtub with him to clean off the baby powder.  A couple weeks ago we even started telling him that if Mommy or Daddy picks up his toys/books after being told to pick them up, then they are "ours," and he has to do "chores" to get them back.

Resourceful (sn: ingenuis)

There again, 4-H played a part in this.  I was given the opportunity multiple times to get creative and inventive with 4-H, mostly through the 4-H projects I had.  Not only that, but I grew up with an artist.  My mother dear (aka Grandma) is an extremely talented artist who has a knack for making art look real; no really, people think that the stones and boards that she painted on the walls in my house are real.  Because of her and 4-H, I am the creative-type person that I am today.  I am no Leonardo da Vinci, but currently I am working on a Wicked Witch of the East costume and Ninja Turtle costume for Halloween, from scratch.

Growing up, not only did we grow row crops and cattle, but we also had a garden.  I often times, in my early childhood years, going out to the garden as a family to plant and pick produce.  I remember going to the cattle lot and shucking our fresh Iowa sweet corn (the ONLY kind of corn to eat).  I also learned about flowers as I would help my mom water all of her flower beds in the summer evenings.

My older sister and the girl who lived across the road and I would build tree houses in the grove of trees.  We cut old branches, used old vaccine bottles for our "refrigerator" and "cupboards" made of of trees; these were not tree houses to climb into but to walk into.

I remember taking my walkman (remember those?) out into the tall grass, laying down in it, and just listen to my music.  Of course, I ended up with a bunch of chigger bites later, which I don't remember, but my parent's remember me having them very vividly.

In a nutshell, we were given plenty of opportunities growing up to be creative, explore, and learn about the ways of the world, of nature, so that we could one day take care of ourselves.  And we can.  If one day there were suddenly no grocery stores or anything else and we would have to 100% depend on ourselves to survive then we could do it because we have those skills.

Today, I try teaching my son the same thing.  Some day, he will go hunting with his dad and learn all there is to learn about that.  On Father's Day this year, we went fishing and he actually reeled in the pole and caught himself multiple fish (using an adult's pole, not a children's fishing pole), and he is constantly talking about and pretending that he is going fishing.

Late this summer, on a hot day, I filled two containers up with some dirt and water, stripped him down, and let him go crazy.  He had SO much fun playing in that mud, and now he just pretends that he plays in it.

He is such a creative child, the things he says and does.  I love to hide outside his room and listen to him play.  Honestly, the kid doesn't even need toys to be happy (of course he prefers to play with toys though) because he is perfectly content playing with sticks or watching the ants, cows, and butterflies.  Just tonight, when I put him into bed he climbed up on his top bunk and said he was going to drive the tractor.  For a while he would climb into our box of shoes by the door (after taking the shoes out) and say he was driving the tractor to hay cows, and he was then going to go to Grandma's house to see her kitty.

He is always saying, "I pretend...."

I know that in school around here they talk about the six pillars of character (trust, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring, citizenship), but I think all of those could just be wrapped up into the three.

Friday, September 19, 2014

PPD: The Elephant in the Room

Thanks to reading a "Scary Mommy" post about PPD, I was inspired to share my own PPD experience in hopes that it will help a fellow mommy.  PPD is something that you don't hear much about; it's like the elephant in the room.  The most I would hear about it was when a mom with PPD drowned her kids in the bathtub or something horrific like that.

My first pregnancy experience, although unexpected, went well; a loved one thought it was a bad idea for us to have a baby at the time, but they got over it soon enough.  I didn't have much desire to eat, didn't have morning sickness, labor went well, and eventually I popped out a 10 lb. baby boy.  I can't remember the precise amount now, but when we got home from the hospital, I weighed over 10 lbs. less than I did before I got pregnant.

Well, about 16 months later we found out I was pregnant again, VERY unexpected news on my part.  I told myself I was happy about it, even though my kiddos were going to only be 2 years apart rather than 3 or more.  Then, we shared the news with family and friends.  As it turned out, three people decided to more or less tell us that it was a bad idea of us to have another baby.  While I understand their reasons: 1) we are not financially rich but are rich in so many other ways, 2) we were (and still are) trying to buy a fixer upper house and get it fixed up so timing was bad.  However, for whatever reason God decided that it was time to bless us with another child; I am a firm believer that God has a sense of humor, although me may not always find it funny or even amusing until later.

SIDE NOTE: My family is not the first nor the last to not be financially rich, but we meet all of our family's needs (food, clothing, shelter)  But most of all, we love each other and stick together, and that is how "rich" we are.

I had a rough go the whole time.  I again, didn't want to eat, and never had morning sickness.  I was constantly getting stomachaches, couldn't sleep, and I don't remember what all else anymore; I don't know how many times I left work early simply because I felt like poo and couldn't focus.  I was also an emotional wreck and felt crazy.  It was when I had four months to go when I discovered "Sims 2."  I think it has saved me because it got my mind onto something else rather than what was wrong with me.  Not only did I discover Sims, but I had finally admitted to my husband that I didn't want this baby.  (Keep in mind that I was good at hiding this "detail" from my husband, doctor, and all the rest of the world.)  With that came all the guilt of feeling that way; I hoped that this baby (we don't find out the genders of our babies during pregnancy) would at least be a girl so that maybe I would be happy to have it.

The last month of my pregnancy was unbearable.  I could hardly walk because it hurt so bad, and my son came to work with me each day from the time he was a baby, so at that point I had to have my mom to babysit because I could hardly keep up with a toddler in my tiny little house let alone at work.  I resented my unborn child for making me feel crappy all the time; I resented my unborn for not being able to get on the floor to play cars or tractors with my son, etc.  Attitude is everything, I didn't want this baby, and I felt like crap because of it; I will admit though that at a family gathering seeing my two cousin's new babies made me slightly happy to be having a baby, only slightly.

Finally, at 39 weeks and 3 days (my doc's first day back to work after her honeymoon and the day before I was likely be induced to avoid having another 10 lb. 41 week old baby), my water broke in the middle of the night, and 19 or so hours later, we had a 9 lb. baby girl.  It was also the day that I became a stay at home mom.  And, again, after giving birth I weighed less than I did before I got pregnant.

You'd think I would have been excited, right?  Wrong.  I put a smile on my face and tried to be happy, but to be honest, I was more concerned with my little man who was being taken care of by Grandma and Grandpa rather than being taken care of by met; I also wanted to know what his reaction to his baby sister would be, etc.  Literally an hour or so before popping that kid out, terrible contractions and all, I had to call him to tell him goodnight.  While holding her, in and out I would have happy thoughts about her.

We bring baby home to our one-bedroom house with an office room for a toddler's bedroom and put the baby's pack 'n play (because there's no room for a crib) in our bedroom.  Did you know that the more people you put in a small space to live, etc., the more damaging to a person's mental health?

Fast forward a little to when visitors stopped coming daily, when my mom stopped coming to help daily, and it was just me, by myself, alone, with a now 2-year old and newborn baby that I didn't really want to begin with.  I would of course take care of all of the baby's needs (diapers, bottles, etc.).  I got up with her in the night by myself because my husband needed sleep so he could go to work.  I resented my baby girl for everything I was feeling "because of her," I told myself.  I would snuggle her a little, but then I would go back to playing with my son because I loved him more.  I resented my baby girl for not spending the time I wanted with my son.  I was also exhausted due to a lack of sleep.

Once I healed a little, I started helping my husband fix up the house we had just bought so that we could some day soon live in it, and with the remodeling so that it's livable aspect comes added stress.

Finally, the stress of everything took over my body and transformed into something dark and hideous.  Rage.  I would not only cry about everything, but I would also get mad about everything.  After looking up PPD on WebMD, I kind of mentioned something was wrong with me to my husband, but we both kind of fluffed it off.  Meanwhile, the rage continued inside me.  I am a very motherly and loving type of person by nature; I always have been.  I am also not an angry person, but I am a sensitive 'ol soul.  However, on multiple occasions I came very close to hurting my son.  I constantly caught myself saying to myself how much I want to "smack the sh*t out of him."  I never did (thank you, God), but it took all of my willpower to keep from doing it.

One night, my husband said he would stay awake with the baby for her midnight feeding so that I could get some sleep.  Well, he fell asleep on accident (the poor guy was/is also exhausted from working his tail off to provide for his family and fix up a house), and I went ballistic on him because he had fallen asleep, which was totally irrational of me.  There was lots of screaming, yelling, and tears, mostly on my part.  I even woke up our son with my screaming and yelling.  After getting him back to sleep, I started in my husband again (the poor guy).  I actually started to collect my things and the children's so that we could leave my husband.  Yes, I was actually willing to get my children out of bed in the middle of the night and leave (almost divorce) my husband simply because he was exhausted and fell asleep.  However, my husband stopped me.  He grabbed our baby girl so that I couldn't leave because he knew I wouldn't go anywhere without both of my children.  My husband got me calmed down, and we talked.  It was at that moment when my husband and I both realized something was truly wrong with me.

We first decided that I would just have to try harder to get more sleep, and if that didn't work, then at my 6-week postpartum doctor visit in the upcoming couple of weeks I would talk to the doctor about it to consider medication.  Well, I still couldn't get much sleep, so I visited with my doctor and was honest about everything.  I hid my true feelings so well during my pregnancy that she had no idea I didn't want my baby.  I took the PPD paper test thing and failed miserably; my score was very high.  The doctor put me on Zoloft, and I've been on it since.

The Zoloft didn't cure me by any means, but it has helped tremendously.  I am relying on myself to cure myself, which is just a guessing game.  I try to find ideas that might help me deal with things, especially my anger and rage.  From "Peg+Cat" my toddler and I learned to use a similar counting method to calm ourselves down.  When he's throwing a tantrum that I can't get him to bounce out of, I play some music.  I say the Serenity Prayer or Lord's Prayer to help me through my anger.

I finally reached a point where I was so tired that I simply decided my baby was going to have to sleep through the night without a bottle because I was too tired to stay up with her anymore (falling asleep and waking up to feed her was worse than staying awake until her midnight feeding).  That helped a lot, but I still don't sleep much.

Since I can't do anything when our son is napping because it will wake him up, I usually play my Sims while he naps, which is still a therapy for me.  It is still a juggle for me to have a baby and 2-year old at the same time.  I also feel guilty for all the hurtful things I've thought, felt, and directed towards my children during that difficult time.  The guilt eats away at me, which I guess is part of the reason why I have a hard time going to sleep at night (see it's 12:42 AM, and I'm still awake).

I am still not myself though.  My tolerance level for people and things isn't like it once was; I've never spoken directly much, but here lately, I have started to be more direct about things because I am just too tired to tippy toe around.  I am still highly sensitive to what people say to me and/or how they say it.  I just try to avoid being around people that I know will probably make me feel crappy about myself, whether they do it intentionally or not, but in all actuality, I've mostly just tried to not be around a lot of people anyways (not 100% sure why).  Although, I've tried spending time with my sisters and have even gotten to spend time with one of my sister in-laws and her trio.

In a nutshell, I am still in survival mode, and I am a work in progress.  I can still get mad (or very sad) very easily for no apparent reason.

The Lord works in mysterious ways.  My children are my little miracles and both just melt my heart.  Though I didn't understand His reasons at the time (and still don't now), I am very glad that I have both of these babies in my life and that they get to call me "Mommy" (although now my son is calling me "Mom" instead *tear*)  If i had it to do all over again, I would because I know what I would miss out on, a little girl with an angel's halo being held up by devil horns.  And I am proud to report that I rarely think about smacking my son anymore (trying to achieve never wanting to smack him), and I love my baby girl just as much as my little man.  I have even started to arrange a marriage for her! HAHA!

If you have or think you or a loved one may have PPD here are some brief tips from one mommy to another, based on my own experiences:

  • Remember that the Lord works in mysterious ways.
    My minister has a saying, "If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plan."
  • Ask for help.
  • Surround yourself with loving, caring, and supportive people.
  • Don't give up because you will win, no matter how long it takes.
  • There will be good days.
  • There will be bad days.  Just try again tomorrow.
    My favorite quote from "Anne of Green Gables" is "tomorrow is always fresh, with no mistakes in it."  I've found this to be true in so many ways.
  • Find something that works for you to stay calm (e.g. counting to 10, saying a prayer)
  • You are not the worst mom in the world, even though it may often times feel that way.
  • You are NOT, I repeat NOT, a failure.
You may find this link to another one of my blog posts helpful.

I am NOT a professional doctor, and I don't work in the medical field.  I am just a stay at home mom.  I am simply sharing my own experience with you; don't hesitate to seek medical and/or psychiatric help if you feel it is necessary.

PPD: Risk Factors, Causes, & Symptoms

All of this information, other than my personal italicized notes, is directly from WebMD.  If you haven't already done so and wish to read about my personal experience with postpartum depression, click this link to read bout it.

Postpartum depression seems to be triggered by the sudden hormone changes that happen after childbirthmiscarriage, or stillbirth. This is more likely in women who have certain risk factors, including previous depression

Risk Factors

Symptoms (highlighted are the most common):
  • Feeling sad or hopeless nearly every day. -Yep.
  • Losing interest in or not getting pleasure from most daily activities, and feeling this way nearly every day. -Yep.
  • Lose or gain weight. You may also feel like eating more or less than usual. -Yep, but with both pregnancies I lost weight AND gained all of it back and then some.
  • Sleep too much or not enough. You may also have trouble sleeping, even when your baby is sleeping. -Yep.
  • Feel restless and not be able to sit still, or you may sit quietly and feel that moving takes great effort. Others can easily see this behavior. -Yep, Zoloft has helped with this.
  • Feel unusually tired or as if you have no energy. -Yep.
  • Feel unworthy or guilty. You may have low self-esteem and worry that people don't like you. -Yep, most of the time.
  • Find it hard to focus, remember things, or make decisions. You may feel anxious or worried about things. -YES! I have a terrible memory, and it's not good for me to worry.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Getting to Know Me, Daisy

Well after you read quick "About Me" facts on the main page of my blog, this is just a little more about me.

I try to take a realistic and easy-going approach (I guess you could say) to parenting.  I guess you could say that I go against the grain.  I am by no means a "book parent."  Reading through part of "What to Expect When You're Expecting" is as close as I have come reading a parenting book.  So if you are the type of parent who does things by the book, then I would leave and not come back, unless you are trying to change your ways.  You will find little (if any) research/facts/statistics here, just plain old fashioned common sense parenting.

I believe that every child, parent, and family is different, so what may work for one child won't necessarily work for another.  This has already proven true with my two little ones.

I think kid's should be allowed PLENTY of time to get dirty and have fun.  As Ms. Frizzle says, "...Take chances.  Make mistakes.  Get Messy."  After all, you only have one life to live.  I want to enjoy my one life, and I'm sure my babies want to enjoy their one life too.  The messy house will always be there tomorrow.

I LOVE getting down on the floor with my kiddos to play tractors, dinosaurs, or just wrestle.  I firmly believe that they will remember that better than they will the time mom cleaned the bathroom, and I think memories are the most precious gift anyone can receive.

What else do you want to know about me?

I plan to post anything and everything related to children (tips, creative play ideas, maybe some recipes because I LOVE to cook, etc.).  I don't even know how often I will publish a new post, just whenever I have time and a topic.

Oh, I should add that I hope you do leave comments, advice for others, etc., but please do so in a respectful manner or else I won't allow it to be published.  You are perfectly welcome to disagree with me.  Take what you like, and leave the rest.  Thank you in advance. :)