just add water…

I’ve attempted the pool with all three boys by myself a few times and it just was not fun.  There were tantrums, I’m still not sure what they were about, and I don’t have enough arms to carry out multiple toddlers with flailing limbs.  As much as I want to take the boys out and do things with them, they’re just at difficult ages and when I’m outnumbered sometimes it’s just easier, and safer for the kids and my sanity, to stay home.

Well, yesterday Jacob was off with his cousins at the beach (picture below) so I decided to take Liam and Noah to the pool.  It wasn’t going to be a long trip, just enough for us to cool off and burn off some energy.  We ended up staying for nearly 3 1/2 hours.  Much longer than I had intended.  It was all due to some very friendly and helpful neighbors.  People have always offered to help with the kids when we’re at the pool but out of some fear of being bothersome, I’ve always declined the help.  But yesterday I gave in and accepted the help that they were so willing to offer, and it made all the difference.

The boys had so much fun and we were actually able to enjoy our time in the water!  Imagine that!  The fear of being a burden to someone or putting them out is so strong that a lot of times I end up making myself a martyr.  Which is just plain silly.  I have been feeling so isolated lately and have realized that some, not all of it, is my own doing.  I came across this article a few days ago and when I read it I initially thought it sounded like a bunch of hooey.  But after yesterday, it made more sense.  Anyway, it’s an interesting read 🙂

So, the point of the story is, accept help when it’s offered 🙂

What do you do when your kid starts using his big blue eyes to beg a bagel chip from a neighbor?  You run home for some snacks 🙂

satisfied with his goldfish and raisins, he no longer had to beg food from our neighbors

satisfied with his goldfish and raisins, he no longer had to beg food from our neighbors

nom nom nom

nom nom nom

Jacob at the beach

Jacob at the beach

that is afterall, what it’s all about

This week we are pulling our bedtime rituals out of hibernation!

As usual, this is not earth shattering stuff we’re talking about here.  It is however, a vital piece of our home life and after starting it back up again last night I know we’ve been doing a disservice to our kids by skipping out on this important time together.  It’s so easy to do though, to skip out on it.  With the witching hour (you can learn more about the witching hour here) being right at dinner prep time, sometimes dinner gets pushed back a little too late, and then there’s homework, and then there’s laundry to fold and put away and then don’t forget about my gym time, and then there are nighttime meltdowns… It was really easy for me to forgo the bedtime routine in an attempt to get the kids to bed faster.  It didn’t work though.

So I pulled a small collection of books out last night and the boys crowded next to me to listen, and it was nice.  So nice.  So nice that had to apologize to the boys for not keeping up with this.  That makes it sound like I never read books to them!! We read books nearly every day, just not at nighttime much anymore.  And then we said a prayer, sang some songs and then we got up and cleared out a space around us to prepare for the grand finale.  Are you ready for it? The hokey pokey, or the pokey yokey as Jacob calls it, is what we finish with.  Joe thinks I’m crazy for getting them all riled up with a crazy dance right before we put them to bed, but you know what, the kids love it.  It’s fun.  And silly.  And we laugh, a lot.  We even change-up the song to match the seasons!  At Christmastime we did the reindeer hokey pokey and the snowman hokey pokey and tonight we’re doing the bunny hokey pokey.  Yes, I know.  I am a cool mom.  Don’t be jealous of all my cool mom ideas 😛

I’m not delusional.  I know this doesn’t mean that Liam will suddenly start going to bed easily again, or that nighttime temper tantrums will go away, or that I’ll have anymore energy to do this tonight than I did a few nights ago, but that’s not the point of a bedtime ritual.  Everyone knows that kids need routine and do better when they know what to expect.  That’s a big part of why parents have little bedtime rituals.  They serve another purpose though, and it’s fairly obvious what it is but I needed a reminder.  That time with the boys right before bed is so important especially when we’ve had a rough day.

So much of the changes I make and the things I do are an attempt to fix something.  Like running, an attempt to fix my fatness (yes, that’s now a word) or coffee, an attempt to make me more human in the morning 😉  But I don’t want to think of our bedtime rituals as a way to fix anything.  Because if I do, and I don’t see any results like you would expect to when you fix something, then it might make it easier to stop doing it again.  And I don’t want that to happen.

Now, if the bickering and whining were to disappear as a result of our reestablished ritual, well, I won’t complain 😀

here comes the mama-razzi

I am trying to document this precious moment with you! Now will you please hold still so I can get a nice picture!! GAH!!

Tell me I’m not the only one who has done this. You’re having a beautiful peaceful moment with your child and you want to document it so that you’ll never forget it but then you end up ruining the moment in the process. I did this a few days ago when Noah and I were having a moment. He had just finished nursing and was looking up at me with his big beautiful eyes, just a shade darker than his daddy’s, and his little smile. You know the kind, the ones that melt your heart. I can’t even come close to describing how beautiful my baby boy was to me at that moment. And that’s the image that I want to remember when I’m old and in the mood to reminisce. Or when I’m crazy mad at him for doing some fool headed thing when he’s older 🙂 So of course, when I oh so carefully went to take a picture with my phone, he perked right up and the moment was gone.

I love taking ridiculous amounts of pictures of my boys as they’re growing up. I want to be able to document things both big and small; from the family vacations to the everyday stuff like playing in their room. Part of the reason for this is that I don’t have very many pictures from my childhood. A good portion of them were lost or ruined by my mom after she and my dad divorced. Who would have guessed that leaving photo albums out in the rain would ruin the pictures?! And it’s kind of a bummer to not have pictures of birthday parties or summertime fun from when I was a kid. So, sometimes I go overboard with the pictures, but I want the boys to be able to see that there were so many moments in their lives that we felt were important enough to document.

Now, very few of the pictures I take are ever printed out. Once or twice a year I’ll print out a huge batch and we’ll stick them in photo albums. The really good ones end up in frames on our walls. And I’ve started a tradition of doing a yearly photo book for them through Shutterfly. I usually do a smaller book for each one on their birthdays. But the vast majority of them are just sitting in our computer. Do you backup your photos regularly? If not, do it! I learned my lesson after Jacob’s newborn pictures were deleted. Gone. Poof. Never to be seen again 😦 Over the weekend Jacob pulled out a handful of albums and poured over them. He asked questions about each picture and wanted to hear stories about the people in them. I love going through pictures with Jacob. One of our favorites is this one of Grandma Dotzie,

Isn't she just beautiful?!

Isn’t she just beautiful?!

Grandma Dotzie is my mom’s mom and we (my sister and cousin and I) spent a good portion of our time with her when we were growing up. She died three years ago this coming April but Jacob remembers her and talks about her a lot. And now I’m getting all teary thinking about Dotzie and I know I’ll start rambling if I don’t stop myself.

Anyway, I guess that’s the point of taking pictures. Knowing that the boys will be able to open up an album whenever they feel like it and can flip through the pictures remembering and sharing stories with each other… that’s what I want. And that’s why I take so many pictures of them. That, and it’s fun 🙂 A few recent pics of the boys…

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Liam was not happy that he had to share a bath with his brother

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Noah doesn’t care who’s in there with him, he just wants to play!

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playing with mom’s make up… again20130305-105946.jpg

 
walking home from school… he looks thrilled.

I am thankful that my kids indulge me in my snap-happy ways. And believe it or not, I have gotten better about not ruining special moments by trying to take pictures of the moment. So the point of all this? Take pictures of the kiddos!  I doubt you’ll ever say that you wish you hadn’t taken as many pictures of them as children 🙂

great moms drink coffee

It was just not my day yesterday. I was out of coffee, patience and a sense of humor; three things that are vital to surviving a day locked indoors with your children. The day started off well enough. We turned the living room floor into a big bed piled high with fluffy blankets, pillows and their entire stuffed animal family and the kids spent the morning watching movies and playing games. I have GOT this! This week of vacation, being stuck mostly indoors will be a breeze! – this is my smug inner voice. You can just feel the smugness oozing out, can’t you? Grilled cheese sandwiches were requested for lunch and I gladly served them up… a side of yogurt and some fruit. Look at me go! They’re BOTH eating their lunch, no complaints from either one about anything and they’re eating all of it! What success! After lunch the kids played with their legos and trains. Now, there wasn’t perfect harmony all morning, but the disagreements were pretty manageable and the grievances were easily settled.

But as most mothers know, there is a time during the day, usually towards the evening, when without fail all hell breaks loose. I call this the witching hour. At our house it usually hits around 4pm. It’s the time when I’m starting to prep dinner and trying to do one final clean up before Joe gets home and wonders what the hell I did all day for the house to look like it was hit by a frat house party when in reality I’ve been cleaning for what seems like all day. I’m a little sensitive about it, can you tell? Anyway, with Jacob on school break, the witching hour came earlier than usual. And it seemed to hit harder than normal. Oh, and don’t let the name fool you, the witching hour definitely lasts longer than an hour. It lasts through dinner and dies down right around bedtime. Joe and I joke about how we don’t need a clock to know when it’s close to bedtime. We can tell because the boys do a 180 and go from warring with each other to being the best of friends. They never play as well together as they do when it’s time for bed. Go figure.

So, the dreaded witching hour was upon us and my patience was nowhere to be found. I suppose my sense of humor would have come in handy at this point too. I mean, it is slightly amusing that nearly the exact same scenario plays out every.single.day. Now, on to the chaos… poor Noah was a screaming, crying tired mess of a baby who just wanted to take a nap. Liam was intent on making sure this did not happen. Jacob had decided that he’d had enough of Liam and refused to play with him. Jacob is a lot like me, he needs his alone time; time to unwind in a quiet atmosphere. And that’s fine, I totally get that, after all, I thrive on alone time and peace as well. But instead of just retreating to his bedroom and doing his own thing, he kept peeking his head out to get Liam’s attention and then got mad at Liam when he went over to him. Liam was not amused and then only became more intent on getting into the bedroom to mess with Jacob.

And then there was me; the mature, rational, wise mother who put all her goals for the days house keeping aside, stopped checking in with friends on TimeSuck, er, I mean FaceBook, stopped worrying about getting dinner ready and decided to just be in the moment with the kids and meet all of their needs without loosing my cool. Because that’s what the good moms do. I know this because this is what I try so hard to be. To be a good mom. Scratch that. To be a great mom; the best mom; the mom that my kids need and deserve.

Spoiler alert!! That didn’t happen. Now, I’m not blaming it on the absence of my beloved cup (or two) of coffee, but damn-it, that coffee really makes a difference! An argument could be made that it’s not the coffee itself that makes a difference, it’s the ritual of drinking it that makes the difference. So you could substitute a hot cup of tea for the coffee and still feel like you’ve had an appropriate start to your day. But I’ve tried this, and as much as I love a steaming cup of tea, it’s just not the same. Obviously patience and a sense of humor are both under my control. I basically chose not to have either one of those yesterday. I suppose some perspective would have gone a long way as well.

Just like a professional in the workplace keeps up on the latest technologies in their field and seeks to increase their education, I am always on the lookout for ways to improve my parenting. Aside from my horrible parenting moments, I don’t think I’m a horrible mom. But I do know that I could be a better mom. So I read as much as I can about parenting and raising children and I work hard on improving the areas that I know need improvement. Plastered on my fridge is a print out titled 10 Steps to Stop Yelling. I yell when I have lost all patience and I feel like I am not being heard. I hate when I yell and I am really working on it, hence the printout on my fridge. Yesterday, however, during the witching hour, there was a lot of yelling; both from the kids and from me.

It was 4:30, Noah was napping (finally! the poor thing was exhausted) and Jacob and Liam decided that they could be friends again so I took the opportunity to start dinner. Have you tried this recipe yet? It’s delicious and assuming you don’t have to make an impromptu trip to the emergency room (yeah, that happened… keep reading) it’s easy and fast to throw together. Well, you know how waking a sleeping baby is like one of the worst things, ever? And you know how every sound when your baby is sleeping is magnified by a trillion times? Here’s where I could have used some perspective. I just wanted to get dinner ready and I just wanted Noah to keep sleeping and that meant that Liam and Jacob would have to stop their ridiculous game of ‘run out of the bedroom, scream like a banshee and run back into the bedroom’. You’ve not heard of this game? It’s a big hit at my house. After what felt like the billionth time of asking, demanding, nay, begging them to STOP.SCREAMING!! I had had enough. I ran after Liam as he was making a beeline back to the boys’ room and slipped on train, I think it was Edward, and fell on top of Liam. Not only did I fall on top of him, I propelled him right into the door frame, head first. Awesome.

Talk about mom guilt. And it was well deserved. What kind of mother falls on her kid?! I picked him up and held him, thankfully he calmed down easily. And then he just drifted off to sleep, which freaked me out so I called the pediatrician’s office. Since it was nearly 5 and they were closing they had me bring him into the emergency room. It was a hard fall and the fact that he fell sleep so quickly afterwards was worrisome. After I got off the phone with the nurse, Liam sat straight up and laughed his goofball laugh, then laid right back into my arms and went to sleep again. Needless to say, I was freaked out and got him ready to go to the hospital.

It was pretty clear after 30 minutes or so at the hospital that he was fine, but we stayed for a few hours of observation just to be safe. He has two nice bruises on his head but in true Liam fashion, he’s not letting that slow him down. I can pinpoint the exact moment that some perspective would have come in handy. I am also pretty sure that had I used any we would not have had to make a trip to the emergency room last night. Dinner would still been made, just not ready when I wanted it, if only I had just taken a moment to calm down and be thankful that the boys were actually getting along and playing together instead of letting all my small grievances during the day accumulate into one big mom meltdown. Obviously they needed to stop their game of ‘run out of the bedroom, scream like a banshee and run back into the bedroom’ (look for the board game version coming to a store near you!) but maybe if I would have taken a break from chopping up potatoes and gone into their room to help them come up with a new, less obnoxious yet equally as thrilling game, we could have had a nice evening. Not perfect, but nice.

This mom is still learning. Learning to be patient, learning to stop yelling (even when I’m at my wits end), learning to use perspective and my sense of humor (after all, I have a fantastic sense of humor! Why not pull it out of hiding more often?!) and learning to be a better mom. Which is why I know my coffee is so important. Raising three young boys doesn’t leave me with a lot of alone time. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I went somewhere without a kid. And no, the grocery store does not count- besides, it’s not all that often that I go grocery shopping by myself anyway! And that morning coffee is just about the one thing that’s just for me these days. And it may seem silly, but I really do feel more equipped to handle the madness that the day brings when I’ve had my morning cup. Let’s not get carried away, my morning cup of coffee does not magically stop the boys from fighting with each other; it doesn’t make the baby stop fussing when I’m right in the middle of doing something; it doesn’t make it any less annoying to do the 4th load of laundry that day. But it does help.

So there you have it. Great moms drink coffee. Or at least this mom does.

(Hanging out with Liam at the hospital)

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