Doing Yard Work

Confession: I do not have a green thumb. Hubs makes fun of me for it, but the thought of working in the yard makes me cringe. I’m actually not really much of an outdoor person at all. I was never athletic as a kid. Was always among the last to get picked in dodgeball (and I was skinny, so I really don’t know why!) When I see a bug, I run 180 degrees in the other direction (which, ironically, makes me a great candidate for any dodgeball team). Doesn’t matter how big or how small it is. And I get my husband to kill spiders for me, even if they’re tiny. He laughs at me when I call him into the room to kill a spider.

So… yard work. I hate it. That should come as no surprise considering I’m not a fan of being outside in the heat and I hate bugs. But when you’re a homeowner with a yard, somebody’s gotta do it. That leaves hubs or a landscaping company. Hubs is busy enough with his own stuff. Even if I wanted to do it, I’m busy too, you know, being a mom and working full time and all.

We recently hired a landscaping company to make the front of our house a little prettier. They did a good job, but it was pricey. I think they quoted me way too much money. We called a friend of ours to come and prune the trees in the backyard, and he did a fantastic job. That’s the great thing about having friends who own small businesses. We can call them anytime and get a discount on their services because we’re friends. They hooked us up, for sure.

Pretty soon, we’ll have to get our roof repaired. The summer storms last year were not very nice to our house. If you guys know of any good roofing companies, let us know. We found this one: They put all new siding, windows and doors on my mom’s house and did a great job, but they’re about an hour outside of our area and I’d like to find someone closer.

Anyway, back to why I hate doing yard work. Besides the fact that I hate bugs, do not do well in heat and don’t have a green thumb or an athletic bone in my body … wait. I guess there really are no other reasons. But those are all good reasons. Wouldn’t you agree?

In all seriousness, I hope our kids turn out differently. I want my son to play baseball and my daughter to play soccer. I want them to enjoy getting sweaty and I want them to learn how to plant a garden so that one day, when the shit hits the fan, and the world is all out of whack, we can go off the grid, grow our own food and live together as a family. That’s basically my dream for the future. Maybe then I can find a way to enjoy doing yard work and being outside. At least I’ll be with my family while I’m doing it, right? :)

I can see it now. We’ll spend time on the front porch of our house together and sing songs until the sun goes down. It’ll look something like this, but with people and smiling happy faces:

front porch with swing

Our grandkids will be born there, and we’ll get to watch them grow up. They’ll be talented and love doing yard work so hubs and I won’t have to. Once we reach a certain age, we probably won’t be able to bend over anyways…

Oh, who am I kidding. My kids are probably gonna grow up and move across the country, and I’ll see them at weddings and funerals like most families in this God-forsaken country…

Sorry for the pessimism. Hubs just called me outside to help him do yard work, and I got frustrated, which prompted this post, and now I guess I’m gonna join him and give this green thumb thing another go… wish me luck!

On Limiting Screen Time

All of the things that come into the house  to distract us! Somewhere, somehow we had fallen into a habit of being on some kind of device during any possible free moment. It was bad on weekdays. The kids would rush inside after school and have their snack, reaching for the iPod or the keyboard or the TV remote at the same time. At some point of the evening I would pull them away for twenty minutes so they could work on homework but they usually jumped right back on as soon as that was done.

The weekends though, were so much more worse. I had no idea how much time they were spending on devices but I knew it was a lot. I wanted a way for not only myself to keep track of it all but for the girls to notice it too. I think especially with using things like Netflix, episodes blend into one another and you don’t realize that you’ve sat there for an hour or two already.

Each of the girls gets four “bucks” for the day. I started out saying that each buck was  worth 30 minutes of TV time, iPod time or computer time. I’ve had to revise that to mean one episode of something when my daughter tried to reason that one Netflix episode was actually only 22 minutes so that four bucks should really equal five episodes. Likewise two bucks can mean one movie even if that movie is longer than an hour.

There is the ability to earn extra bucks for a day. Because of this I added things besides screen time  that the girls could spend their buck for, things like playing a board game as a family or if they save up four bucks that can  equal to a trip to the dollar store.

We have a bank pocket where I hold the extras, a pocket for each of the girls and pockets for all of the things they can spend their bucks on. Only extra bucks can be saved up for something big but the 30 minute cards can be traded at the end of the day for an extra card if it hasn’t been used.  I’m thinking of adding things like a trip to an Italian ice place or an hour at the park or library to our board.

Things that can earn extra bucks:

Cleaning windows

Wiping down doors

Taking a trash bag outside

Tidying up your bedroom (We clean their room together once a week but this is upkeep and helps a lot when they do it before then.)

Running to the end of the yard and back three times.*

*My husband didn’t understand why this was on the list but I figure if they are earning more minutes towards something sedentary, moving in order to earn that balances things out a little. And they like running so it’s not a punishment type of thing. If they decide they’d rather just stay outside and play then come in and watch tv? That’s an added bonus. Last week we had a tree service company come out to our house to trim some of the trees in our yard. Needless to say they kept him highly entertained. And I think they had a lot of fun themselves. They spent almost the whole day outside watching and talking to the crew!

The biggest surprise while using this system is that the girls almost never use up all of their bucks. The first day my oldest decided to do all of the extra tasks for extra bucks but she didn’t use them. She’s very careful with her money and I think that these bucks have become like money to her. She’s more selective of what she’s going to watch or whether she really wants to spend time on the computer or iPod. My youngest sees that and is also hesitant to pay up in order to gain screen time. They are playing more and even better than that,they are playing  together more. This is a really big thing for us because prior to this experiment they had gotten really short with one another. There’s a lot less fighting now and I’ve began to think that there is some truth to to much time spent watching TV or playing games leads to a more hostile spirit.

There is another thing that we’ve introduced lately that is helping with the sister conflicts  but I’ll tell you about that on another day.

Should You Be An “Attachment Parent”?

Should you “Attachment Parent” your child? Research studies reveal that babies grow when their add-on demands are met, so the response is clearly indeed, if we specify Attachment Parenting as reacting to the child’s need for connection. As a psycho therapist, I’m concerned by just how debatable the idea of Attachment Parenting has become. Of course you dream of an well-attached youngster, but are there specific rules that will help your kid become one? And also does that imply you cannot set limitations?

The essence of “Attachment Parenting” is nurturing a strong parent-child link. 4 years of longitudinal as well as mind study have shown that human beings’ optimum physical, emotional as well as mental growth depends upon satisfying the infant’s natural partnership needs.

Brain research shows that the capability to self-soothe as well as manage anxiousness later in life originates in having actually been accurately relieved as an infant. Firmly connected toddlers are healthier, outburst less, and also develop a “principles” mindset. As they grow older, they’re much more participating with parents, manage better with peers, they discover faster at school, have higher self-confidence, and are much more resilient and adaptable under pressure. The evidence clearly encouraging safe attachment, and also we also have sufficient study concerning just how to do that.

All the research shows that babies whose demands are fulfilled come to be much more cooperative, agreeable, and better behaved, which makes for happier parents. What’s even more, parenting in close quarters raises your instinctive compassion for your kid, so you’ll be much more likely to recognize just what he needs and also just how to react–and that makes parenting much easier.

Nonetheless, as infants develop, adjustments must be made.Toddlers, young children, and older children still have a high demand for attachment with their moms and dads.

Lots of parents make the mistake of overlooking their youngster’s reasons to stay linked, appropriately assert his will, and explore his surroundings. Attachment moms and dads, alternatively, usually run right into trouble by not realizing that parenting responsively in this stage implies responding to long-lasting as well as short-term requirements, which calls for a brand-new strategy that includes compassionate limitations.

“Over-parenting”– over-vigilant parenting that undermines our children’ confidence in themselves– originates in our desire to safeguard our kids and also meet their needs. With babies, just what they want IS just what they require. As kids develop, their prompt needs commonly clash with their developmental demands. Attachment parenting indicates knowing when to maintain a hands-off approach as well as when to let them stumble and when to set emotional restrictions.

Here’s a great video where Mayim Bialik talks about what attachment parenting really is:

Attachment Parenting is an art, not a science. Specific decisions should be based on the individual child’s demands. Periodically (not commonly) I see parents who make their choices based on some concept regarding just what Attachment Parents “should” do instead of exactly what their youngsters need.

There is a prevailing attitude that establishing limits squelches kids’ spirits, or that expectations compromise their integrity, that kids don’t need policies and should be dealt with as “tiny adults.” As an accessory philosopher, I could inform you that none of these examples are Attachment Parenting, due to the fact that none are reacting to the child’s developmental needs.

The research is very clear that authoritarian parenting sabotages kids’ psychological advancement. Some people could see me as a rather indulgent parent, since I function to see things from my kids’ eyes, and I try always to empathize as I set limitations. Kids whose moms and dads treat them with respect and empathy thrive.

However I really feel highly that we should establish restrictions as parents, since there are times when our kids will require them. Kids’ needs go past connection. They need the reassurance that a parent will certainly maintain their security, the framework that permits a great night’s sleep, and the high assumptions as well as limitations that will be internalized as excellent practices and self-discipline.

Catering to kids’ demands since we can’t bear their unhappiness isn’t really attachment parenting, it’s untrustworthy parenting. It gives them the message that their mad and unfortunate sensations are so intolerable they they need to be fended off at all expenses, and frequently that other people’s desires and needs aren’t crucial. Good parents set limits when it’s beneficial for their children.

So of course, my opinion as a psycho therapist is that children ought to be attachment-parented. After that? Every child is different, so every family will make different decisions. But it’s pretty safe to state that all kids require us to stay connected, give them unlimited freedom to grow, and also learn how to set restrictions with empathy.

Most importantly, as a mom I’ll give you this takeaway. If you get nothing else out of this post, for God’s sake, go enjoy your children!

bath toys

Moldy Bath Toys and Other Stories

I read a post on Instagram recently that said parenting a toddler is like constantly trying to talk your child through a really bad acid trip.

That about sums it up for me.

Countless times, my youngest has lost her mind for no apparent reason. Just this morning she was screaming at me because… hell, I don’t even remember. Parenting really is like talking your child through a bad acid trip … and being on one yourself the whole time. My brains are pretty much like mush most days because we have so much going on I can’t keep up.

As much as I joke though, it truly is the most rewarding job in the world. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. As I always say, the little nuggets of gold make it worth the effort of mining through dirt.

I know it’s been a while since I’ve written anything, so I thought I’d post a little update on what’s been happening in the Squid House.

  1. No more moldy bath toys. We traded them all for new ones that won’t get moldy, and I have to say, our youngest was so happy with her new goodies. She couldn’t wait to get in the bath tub and play with them. If you have those toys that have holes in them, you know – the ones that soak up and squirt water – you’ve probably seen some mold come out in those squirts. (Rubber duckie suddenly had the urge to poop!) I did a little Google search for bath toys that don’t grow mold and we found some musical instruments, stacking cups, and magic books that change colors under water! These are bound to last us a while.
  2. First tooth lost! Kid #2 was so proud. He put that tooth under his pillow and prayed to the tooth fairy to leave him $1,000. He was thrilled when he opened that box and found Monopoly money in there, but a little disappointed when we told him it was fake and that he couldn’t actually buy anything with it. We were honestly torn when he told us he had prayed for $1,000. We wanted to make his prayer come true, but we didn’t have that much money lying around. Time to get creative, I guess…
  3. Broken arms and butterfly chases. Butterflies are beautiful creatures. If I was a kid, I’d want to chase them too. Unfortunately, this one resulted in an emergency visit to Urgent Care on Saturday afternoon. She handled it like a champ though.
  4. First family road trip. We made it all the way to Tennessee – six hours total – before the kids almost had a nervous breakdown. But they were so happy when they saw their cousins. Lesson learned: don’t ever drive cross-country with three littles and no hubs. Unfortunately he had to work, but he will definitely be joining us next time (if there is a next time).

That’s about it. My life isn’t really all that exciting, which is probably why I don’t write a lot, but I’ll be sure to post another update soon. Til then, in the words of my son’s favorite Pixar character, Lightning McQueen, ka-chow!

Frozen movie Elsa

My Daughter’s Recent Obsession with Frozen

I was having a conversation with my co-worker yesterday about how my daughter has recently taken on a new obsession with the movie Frozen. If I have to hear Elsa sing “Let it Go” one more time, I will probably pull my hair out.

Her response to me was, “we don’t let our kids watch it.” When I asked why, she said, “well, for one thing, it’s annoying.” (No argument here.) “But also, I just didn’t like the fact that the plot was all about this girl who had this amazing gift that her parents forced her to hide from everyone instead of encouraging her to be the person she was created to be.”

That really got me thinking about my own kids and the values that I want to instill in them. I will say that I’m not worried about letting my daughter watch Frozen. For one thing, she’s young, and these obsessions with movies don’t seem to last very long. As soon as she finds another movie to love, she’ll move on and forget all about Elsa and Anna, which is fine by me. I’m glad she’s getting this one out of her system early. But also, though the parents in the movie do discourage Elsa from using her gift, I do think the overall lesson is actually the opposite: that people should not fear the gifts they’ve been given. Instead, they should use them in love to do good in the world.

And that’s ultimately what I want to each my kids. When you allow fear to paralyze you, things get out of control. We see this with Elsa as she tries to run away and hide and ends up freezing all of Arendelle. He ultimate goal is to be free. But instead of embracing her gift and allowing it to set her free, she runs away from everyone who threatens to lock her up for it. In the movie’s iconic song, “Let it Go,” she says “Yes, I’m alone, but I’m alone and free.” I don’t believe anyone can truly be free in isolation. Freedom requires love, and love cannot thrive in isolation.  Furthermore, you can’t make the world a better place by hiding in a corner.

This is something I struggle with. I must admit, I tend to be a bit of a hermit. I’m definitely an introvert, which means that human interaction drains me of my vital life force. I literally have to isolate myself in order to “recharge my batteries” after a big social event, because I’m left with no energy. All the extroverts in the room will take it right out of you.

So hiding in a corner is kind of the norm for me… It’s something I’m working on. My daughter sees me typing away at my computer a lot, and I’m trying to get better about spending time with her and getting her involved in more social events and playdates.

Like watching Frozen with her friends. :)

baby bump

Update… Preggo Again

There’s a video of Jim Gaffigan talking about how he became a father for the fourth time and how most people’s response is, “well that’s one way to live your life.”

Well, folks… that’s about to become my reality, and the reason why I haven’t written in a while. I thought my poor blog was neglected after the third kid, but no. Add a 4th pregnancy to the mix and as a mommy blogger, you’re liable to go MIA for months.

So I just wanted to write this quick update to let you know that yep… this is happening… again. Parenting 3 kids while being pregnant with a 4th is certainly a challenge too.

Your toddler wants you to pick her up more and more as your belly grows. It’s like she knows that something big is about to happen and she wants to soak up every second she possibly can with her mama.

“Mommy, up” she says, gazing up into your eyes like a lost puppy. As painful as it is to squat down and pick her up, I can’t help but cater to those helpless eyes…

Not to mention, the hubs and I are already outnumbered. I’m trying to imagine what it’s going to be like with 4. Thank goodness our oldest can walk and do most things completely independently, or we’d be screwed. However, our younger two are still a bit clingy so I’m sure it’s only going to get harder from here.

The good news is, we are having a BOY! Boys are less clingy than girls (at least they have been in my experience), so that should make things a little easier. They’re also a bit less whiny. But, they are into everything. Cabinets, drawers, you name it. We’ve already baby-proofed the house for the most part, as our toddler has been into stuff lately (though not as much as boys typically are). And they’re little risk-takers too. When my oldest son was 2, he used to run towards the street like it was nothing, just as a car was zipping by. We’d have to chase after him and pick him up just in the nick of time to make sure he didn’t get run over. Boys are harder to control, but thankfully, this is not our first rodeo.

Anyway… I hope you enjoyed this random update. I just realized the tagline for my site is “Weekly ramblings from a mom of 3.” Guess I better change that. Once we have our 4th (which should happen any day now), I definitely won’t have the time to blog once a week. But I’m going to try for once a month just to keep this site fresh with content. And so all 3 of my readers don’t get disappointed. ;)

I’ll share my birth story soon after the lil’ guy is born. Til’ then… take care mamas!

Trying to Squash the Chaos Monster

I hadn’t really noticed how bad things were getting around here until the weeks before my in-laws visited.

Granted, I was constantly misplacing things and our days had no order…but it took trying to pick up a little that really opened my eyes.

We had 4 junk drawers and too many toys, no idea what we were going to buy from the grocery store before we got there and missing stuff daily. It was stressful with a capital S. I knew that we needed to get organized but trying to get organized right before you have guests coming in is kind of nuts. I did what I could,shoved a lot of miscellaneous  junk into unused suitcases and tried to not let it drive me nuts until I could get to it.

Flash forward to now; my in-laws have been and left and my mom has been and left (twice, actually but who’s counting?)  and I’ve been trying to get us to a more functional state of being. (Or at least stop us from making three to four trips to the grocery store every week.)

Let’s be honest, I felt over-freakin-whelmed. I went on Pinterest and while I got tons of ideas, I also realized that unless I focused on one area at a time- this getting organized business was not going to work. There are a lot of websites I visited and you-tube channels that I watched that helped me focus.Trying to figure out what I wanted our areas to function as has been a big help in itself.

The most helpful thing that I’ve learned has been to take all of the tips and make them work for me.  I divided rooms into smaller areas and worked on those areas one at a time. In the past I would’ve tried to tackle a whole room and just gotten frustrated. I also learned that it’s really hard for me to work on only one room at a time. Having five rooms that are in various stages of being “done” might drive someone else crazy but staying in only one room until it’s completed is totally against my hoppy nature. I have to hop from thing to thing and as long as it will all get done eventually? I’m hopeful that’s okay.

I let go of the idea that all of my organized areas had to be super pretty or matchy-matchy. It’s not in my budget to go out and buy tons of bins and boxes right now. I did buy what I could but I also tried to make what I had already work. If I had waited until I had the budget that I needed to get those areas looking the exact way that I wanted them to? I’d still be drooling over pretty pictures and not one step closer to my goal.

We are doing much better chaos wise. We aren’t finished yet, but there have been huge changes so far. We only went to the store once last week and I can see the floor in the girl’s bedroom now. (Yes, their room had really gotten that bad.) We only have one junk drawer left but I hope to have it turn into a homework station soon. The fact that school will be starting again  has really motivated me to get more organized and squash the chaos monster for good.

How does being organized work for you? Is it necessary or not a big deal at all?

Stranded Mom

So, there I was a stranded mom of two broken down on the side of the road. It was getting close to 10 p.m. and I had both of my daughters with me as I was picking them up from dance class. We were driving down Independence when the engine to my sedan locked up. “Oh great,” I said to myself, this is exactly what I did not need.

I called my husband to let him know what had just happened so he wouldn’t be worried when we did not show up when he expected. I was upset and he knew it, he can always tell when I am worked up even though I try to play it off like I am not. After he calmed me down he instructed me to call a towing company and have them drop our car off at our mechanic’s shop.

I got on my smart phone to look up towing companies. I didn’t care which one really so I went to the first one that I saw. I am so glad I found a towing company. The dispatcher was very kind and courteous and was able to send a driver out to me pretty quickly. The tow truck driver was very professional and made me feel safe and at ease.

By the time my sedan was up on the truck I was in my husbands car and on my way home with my family. Though it was not my best day I was happy to be able to be home surrounded by the people a love.  With a glass of wine in one hand and my husband’s hand in the other, it was a perfect way to end a stressful day.