Compliments & Gratitude

Compliments are nice to hear, but I don’t always believe them. Isn’t it always the case when someone close to you gives you a compliment? I know every time G says I’m beautiful I think “well of course YOU think I’m pretty!” But because he’s saying it does it really count less?

This past Saturday we were low on the “Daddy’s making breakfast essentials” and because it was my morning to sleep in, G had a hard time figuring out what to do. I got up and had coffee, oatmeal, and bacon on the table within 10 minutes. OK, so G had already started the bacon, but as we were sitting down at the table, with bed head and sleepy eyes G said: “I’m seriously impressed with the way you run this household.” And it completely caught me off guard. I had to sort of stop what I was doing to take a second and give a proper thank you after wiping the giddy, appreciative smile off of my face.

Fondness and affection toward your spouse are a key point in a good relationship. Many of you are thinking: duh!? But in the hectic day to day with all that everyone has to do and get to, you can probably go at least a day or two without intentionally saying something nice/complimentary to your significant other. Why is that? Aren’t they the most important people and the ones we spend the most time with? Why is it so easy to be hard on the people we are closest to and polite to perfect strangers?

The book I mentioned in this post suggested starting a gratitude journal because those who consciously practice gratitude are happier. I only started mine two weeks ago writing one thing I am thankful for each day. Almost half of the things I have written down include G in some way. Shouldn’t I tell him that? Yes, of course he knows I’m thankful for him, but he should hear it, too. It makes a difference!

The other half of my gratitude journal is filled with my kids. Yes, it also says I’m thankful for coffee…but even though it’s something we “know”, it’s nice to really know what a blessing the kids are! For all of the difficult moments and times when I want to rip my hair out, there are at least twice as many that are joy-filled and just awesome.

Who couldn’t be thankful for these faces?

Swords!

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Wild Horses

During one of our many discussions about discipline, G likened the boys to wild horses. The full quote was something to the effect of:

Sometimes our kids are like wild horses. They just need to be bridled until they stop kicking.

I just read the book Raising Happiness by Christine Carter. Her ideas about how to discipline children in it are what prompted the discussion that led to the quote. It’s a pretty good parenting/personal improvement book about teaching your kids how to be happy (because it’s truly a skill) and teaching yourself as well. I’ve battled with post-partum depression and bad therapists, but this book actually taught me some things that I don’t think I ever truly learned. Not that I wasn’t taught, but I think I had to be beat over the head with it for it to really sink in.

I’ve always been a fairly emotional, wear my heart on my sleeve type of gal. Very in touch with my emotions and what they are and how they make me feel. I’ve never been very good at coping with them. I can very easily turn into a grouch or blubbering mess who shouldn’t talk because things always come out wrong or I say things that I regret or don’t mean.

Let’s go back…(and these are just a few)
…to middle school (did anyone have a good time in 7th grade?) when I would scream and cry two year old tantrum style on the floor of my room because I couldn’t go to a friend’s house.
…to high school when I was grounded through getting my driver’s license and my 16th birthday for mouthing off to my mom on a particularly grumpy day.
…to after college when food, messes, and dogs turned me into a ghost of a roommate who coped with it all by cleaning incessantly (not a bad coping mechanism?).

…and now? I’ve definitely had my fair share of clench your jaw, bite your tongue and walk away moments with the kids. Who hasn’t? Aren’t we all just wild horses that need bridling?

The book helped me learn a lot of things (coping appropriately being one of them), but one gem stuck out a lot (and I’m paraphrasing here): “Don’t ruminate when you’ve been offended-CHOOSE to feel better.” I had myself convinced I couldn’t control how I felt or how things made me feel. But I’m the only one who CAN control that. Lightbulb! Ding ding ding! We have a winner! Only took me over a quarter of a century. The silver lining on top of the silver lining here is that if I choose to feel better–that’s a whole lot less emotions I have to cope with. Double win.

Tell me about one of your wild horse moments…and since this post started out with the intention of being about child discipline, tell me about a parenting discipline win, too 😉

First Born Problems

Birth order is important, but in what way?

According to popular belief, L

First-Born

is/will be confident, determined, a born leader, organized, eager to please, and likes to avoid trouble. Some of these traits have not shown up yet…like the avoiding trouble one? Yeah…hopefully that’s coming.

T

Middle Child

can/will be able to roll with the punches, negotiate well, and have lots of loyal friends. I’m definitely nervous about when that negotiator comes out.

M

Youngest

will be persistent, a great storyteller, and affectionate. Maybe she can take over story time for Mom & Dad one day!

Now that I’m on the third one, I often think how I could have done better with the first. Momanoia (I’m just going to go with that one) was in it’s height when L was a baby and I can’t help but think that if I hadn’t been so paranoid and afraid of everything I would have done a better job (or at least made my life a little easier now by preparing him better for toddler-hood and pre-school life). Not that my job is anywhere near done with him, but let’s just take a moment and thank God that he won’t remember the first three years of his life. Woohoo! Win for me 🙂

But seriously, I find myself being harder on L than T when rules are broken. I REALLY try to avoid that, but it just seems to come out that way for some reason. For instance, at nap-time T will do really well if I hold him and sing a song, but why wasn’t my instinct to help L to go to sleep that way when he was T’s age? Maybe I had it in my head that he wouldn’t learn how to go to sleep on his own if I did that? M doesn’t even need a song. Just wrap her up with her owie-owie (AKA Pacifier) and she’s good to go. Will she be the best off because I know more the third time around?

I know that I can only be the best Mom that I can, but sometimes I wish I could go back with the knowledge I have now and fix it. Luckily for L, he’s got birth order on his side.

Nap Time

This time of day has been the worst part of  my day for a long time.

Once T was born…

APGAR score of 9.9!

…and L climbed out of his crib in the middle of the night successfully busting his lip at 18 months…

L at 18 months

…and we put him into a Toddler bed.

We probably should have gone with a crib tent at the time, but I was afraid that he would halfway figure out how to get out and strangle himself on the way. You know, mom-paranoia? I need to think of a non-hyphenated version of that. Momanoia maybe? eh…

Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Dr. Weissbluth has been my baby sleep bible. The book suggests clear and concise “bedtime rules” once children are put into toddler beds that they can get out of. They have morphed over the last two years to be as follows:

1. Stay laying down in your bed.

2. Be very quiet.

3. Close your eyes.

4. Go to sleep.

Bedtime rules have NOT allowed me to leave the room before both boys are asleep. Neither has the “Jack-in-the-Box” method where you put your kiddo back in bed time after time without emotion involved. No talking, just pick them up and put them back in. They have just moved on to staying in their beds while jumping or playing with the curtain or pushing their beds away from the wall or any other number of nap time diversionary tactics.

So now I have resolved myself to sitting in the doorway while reading a book and letting my presence be the reason they finally go to sleep. I thought about L (3 1/2) dropping his nap, but he’s just not ready. If he’s not asleep by 2, I’ll usually let him out of his room to play quietly or lay with me, but it’s always a big mistake. Unfortunately, whenever this happens he becomes a crazed monster around 4 o’clock and then promptly falls asleep on the drive to pick up Daddy. Which in turn makes bedtime even more difficult.

My recently developed prayer rule has me praying my midday prayers after they fall asleep at nap time. After a few particularly difficult days I had an epiphany as I said the Orthodox prayer of parents for their children. Part of the prayer asks that they be drawn nearer to God, doing His will in all things.

Not my will. His. God’s will.

Now I’m not saying that children shouldn’t listen to their parents, but because this has been such a struggle for so long it became clear to me that God is working through my children in order to save me. In other words, my children are my path to salvation. Not because they are perfect, but because we cannot raise children in the path of His truth without His help.

M's First Communion

I know why Mom jeans exist.

I put my old green Puma workout capris on a couple of mornings ago and found myself pulling them up really high. Not just to what should be my natural waistline (of which I do not have at the moment), but literally as high as they would comfortably go without giving me the most unsightly wedgie known to man. I was attempting to avoid the awkward muffin top, “are you still pregnant?” look and then it hit me.

This, my childless, hard-bodied, friends, is why mom jeans exist.

If I can successfully pull my pants above my 2 month post-partum pooch it looks A LOT better than if I just let it all hang out. The popular way to wear pants is low on your hips and it has been this way for a long time. Probably since before I knew what “cool” was. I remember my Mom telling me where my natural waist was when I was in that awful place called middle school and I completely didn’t believe her because that wasn’t where my cute jeans sat on my body.

I do plan on getting my, non-maternity, cute jeans that sit in the right place on soon, but before I do…let’s talk about how wholly unflattering going with the popular choice is.

Yes, I have had three children and my most recent is just over two months old, I should give myself a break. And I do…but I’m also working out and eating (mostly) right. Aside from the crazy bouts of hunger in which I will eat anything in sight due to the whole nursing thing. Especially these little Brazillian goodies…

I also know why moms of the 40’s & 50’s looked so much better than moms of today. Higher waistlines & girdles. Talk about spanxx! These things are intense. You know, that & the fact that OB/GYN’s were telling women not to gain more than 10 pounds. That’s all the baby weighs at most, right? I have a bellefit girdle because having babies close together does things to your body. Things that having babies with more time for your body to heal in between each one doesn’t…like separate your stomach muscles.

Diastasis Recti is a separation of your abdominal muscles down the middle. You know that six pack ab where you can literally see lines on someone’s stomach? Oh, you can just look down and see it now? Right. Well, on me, the vertical one down the middle opened up to about a four finger width to allow this adorable little (8 pounds 3 ounces & 21 inches little) thing to grow in it.

M

With the girdle and some exercises…including trying to remember to pull my tummy to my spine constantly (are you doing it right now?)…it has already gone down to a two finger width. I still have that weird drawstring effect, though. You’ll have to google image search that one on your own. Hopefully, I won’t have to have surgery to fix it.

What’s your workout routine and how do you stick to it? I’m just getting back into the swing of things, but in the interest of making a goal public: I want to workout to a video or in my condominium’s gym room from 8:30-9:30am every week day. On the weekends I will play soccer and swim with the boys. Let’s do this!

…and again…

This is probably the second or third time I’ve started blogging after the initial lure when I was pregnant with L.

30 weeks pregnant with Luke

At some point I stopped…then I looked like this…again

SUPER pregnant with Thomas

And T arrived.

APGAR score of 9.9!

I started blogging again because I had postpartum depression and it felt really good to write sometimes. Sometimes it felt like a blown-out diaper combined with spit up down my shirt, but most times it was a good release.

I’m starting again now because I live in Manaus. The middle of the Amazon rainforest in Brazil. (Plus, my really awesome blogger friend, Julie, made my blog look pretty. Thanks!)

https://i0.wp.com/www.vacationstogo.com/images/ports/maps/638_w.gif

It’s essentially an island where everything is imported because it’s surrounded by forest. It’s really incredible, but I don’t have my village. You know, the one that it takes to raise children? Maybe this can be my village–my remote, faceless, online, cyber-village.