Wednesday, April 27, 2011

a truth and a treat.

truth: i am a very bad commenter. most days i keep the laptop on the dining room table and get online during lunch or dinner to distract myself. but then i end up getting on the computer several other times throughout the day just because it's there. turning on some pandora for the boys-oh i'll just check facebook. avoiding making dinner-i'll just read a few quick blogs.

that behavior is a problem for several reasons. 1.)although it distracts me from the boys, it usually just makes them wild to get my attention, which just makes me mad. they tend to be in whatever room i'm in and the dining room isn't a very exciting place, so they just squabble. 2.)it majorly reduces my productivity during the day. i just can't seem to resist the siren call of the computer as i walk through the room. 3.) it's really not relaxing. the table isn't the most comfortable place and i find myself feeling rushed. hence, i don't tend to comment when i'm scanning blogs, which makes me feel guilty. i love comments and i know everyone else does to. when someone gives a helpful tip or writes something inspiring or funny, i want to and should thank them or acknowledge them. i always intend to go back later and comment, but i never do.

so i've stopped putting the computer on the dining room table-the room that i pass through a million times a day, and moved it to the family room. i only go out to the family room to chill and if i do sit down during the day and get on the laptop, the boys seem to get distracted by the toys and books that are here. but mostly, i just don't get on the computer during the day nearly as much, although i'm still working on it. although the boys can get annoying by our third shared meal of the day and i wish for the distraction of the computer, it's been really good for me to just step back and really listen to them, chat a bit, and watch my odd little chipmunks eat. then when i sit down after they're in bed, i'm actually relaxing in a big comfy chair instead of feeling rushed.

so because i've been a bad commenter, because you gals (and guys) are great, and because i have a little dollar bin addiction(worthy of it's own post), i'll be giving away five "thanks for being rad" prizes. sorry-no le creuset cookware. think stationary (another addiction) or some other random treasure i find in my craft/crap room.

leave a comment about where you keep your computer and when you like to compute/blog, or you can scold me for my rude online behavior. (mellen, because i love you, i'll accept a facebook comment, but it has to make me laugh to win you a chance.) comments will be closed next monday. peace out.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

busy and tired (in a mostly good way)

life has been crazy with tim's store opening, but i've been trying to roll with the punches...instead of getting my panties in bunches. (BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! i'm really tired. be warned. things like that are hi-larious in my tired brain.)

max is dazed by the beauty of the new store.

but seriously, i've been trying to focus more on the good stuff and not dwell on the crappy stuff lately. because there's always going to be crappy stuff. unfortunately, as much as i'd like to think that if i figure out the perfect equation of sleep, diet, play, home organization, etc that life will be perfect and easy, IT NEVER WILL BE PERFECT. because as i've been reminded a lot lately, this isn't Heaven.

i'm not a naturally optimistic person and a lot of times the personality needs of my charming boys and myself don't match up, but i've been trying. i think lots of outside time and sunshine, combined with a good multivitamin and b-vitamin, and most importantly, more prayer, is helping. but i'm also pretty certain i will struggle with my little optimism issues my whole life. alas.

so some things that i'm grateful for these days:

this picture represents outside time!!! our new backyard fence!!! and max's hair. and his personal style. in the morning max's hair is totally nuts and it makes me smile. on this particular day he didn't want to change out of his jammies, insisted on the tie and too small spider man sandals, and his socks didn't match. he's my funny little old man.

ben talking in a british accent. the other day we watched a you tube video of a british kid showing how to make wasp jars. although our wasp jars didn't work, ben has been talking with an accent on and off and it is awesome. he's totally aware of how funny i think it is because he uses it to ask me when he wants something. he definitely has tim's ear for voices and that makes me very happy.

art time. although i can be impatient with it because max ends up making a mess most days unless i diligently watch him, i love watching what emerges from their little brains. usually max scribbles but on this day, he very intentionally painted this guy with his watercolors. within the last couple months ben has started drawing pictures that represent things and his descriptions are pretty amusing, albeit lengthy. which has led to...

ben's wall 'o' pictures. inspired by flint lockwood from cloudy with a chance of meatballs, who has pictures taped up on his wall, he asked to hang a picture on his wall. i'll admit, at first i resisted. even now, i'm selective about which pictures we put up. sometimes he wants to hang up paper scraps that he cuts from coupon fliers like pictures of chuck e cheese or pictures of dogs or pictures that he's just scribbled and i distract him or hang them on our other art wall. although i feel a bit controlling by not letting him have free reign over what we hang up, i think it looks really cool like this instead of so random and cluttered (read: trashy) and he is very proud of his wall.

okay, this is more outside time. but it's also brotherhood. the boys are better brothers when they are outside. they tend to fight and squabble so much more when we are inside, and while i realize that's part of being brothers, it's not very pleasant. when outside, max follows a little bit and i love watching ben lead and i love listening to their conversations. on this day, they were exploring part of our pasture/corral and declared this old washed-out bridge to be their "idea spot". it's also really gratifying to see our boys explore our land. our little spot of earth has been a lot of work and frustration for us and i've always consoled myself that it would be worth it when the boys were older. getting to see them wander makes my efforts seem worthwhile.

the beginning of garage sale season. although i'm not a die hard garage saler, picking up treasures every once in a while is pretty fun. although i didn't think this police van was worth a $1, ben really wanted it and i gave in because it came with the four lego guys. it proved totally worth it when ben named the guys blueberry, raspberry, blackberry, and 'frigerator. right now we're keeping our eyes peeled for blueberry, who has gone missing.

and as i sit here and type, i'm thankful, in a weird way, for tim's cold. although it's meant that he is pretty much sleeping any time he is not working, it has made his voice raspy, which i totally love. he's playing a video game right now with his headset on and listening to him talk is funny. the other day he had no voice at all and had to whisper everything. although he didn't appreciate my mocking him, it was entertaining.

so that's what we've been up to. trying to savor the good and accept the not so good-it's all part of this life.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

thank you.

thank you all so much for your kind and encouraging words and advice. honestly, i was almost in tears reading (and rereading) your comments. it really meant so much to me that you took the time to offer me support, and in doing so with your comments, helped other mommas. i'm looking forward to checking out the resources you recommended, and then knowing i have people i can hash out the ideas with-sometimes when i read parenting books i just can't quite figure out how to translate the words and principles to real life. again, thank you.

i hope i didn't worry anyone too much. two sisters, one brother, and a friend all called and offered help, not even mentioning my blog post or out rightly questioning whether i'd totally gone off the deep end ; ) unfortunately, as they were generously offering help and i was trying to let my pride go and better accept help, max was fighting a tummy bug that i didn't want their kiddos exposed to. i promise guys, i'm not just being stubborn and prideful (this time)-i have the mountain of dirty diapers to prove it.

making an effort to at least try to address some of our issues, i took max in and had him checked for food allergies. we have tons of food allergies in my family and they manifest themselves in not so obvious ways. thankfully, he was mostly good and we're working on the slight sensitivity that showed up. we're also trying some new relaxation/destressing energy work when i actually remember to do it.

riding the productive momentum of max's appointment, i finally went and got an adjustment from my amazing cousin, dr. jamie arnold. i generally put the boys ahead of myself when it comes to health, but as she said, i can't take care of them if i feel like crud. i felt instantly better after my adjustment and am hoping that once i get back in the habit of taking my vitamins, i'll have more energy and won't feel so overwhelmed. as michelle t. said in her comment, "When things tend to get scary with the kids it really has much more to do with my stress level than them just acting scary for the fun of it." so true.

while reading faith and family magazine the other day, i came across an article about a mother trying to raise 11! children by herself. while i am in no way comparing my struggles to hers, her words struck a chord- "...and by all means accept their [friends] help. By accepting charity, you give others the gift of practicing works of mercy and help them achieve holiness". i am surrounded by family and friends that want to help. my boys love the time they get to spend with aunts and uncles, cousins, and friends-literally every morning they ask, "can we visit somebody?" they are almost always good for other people and really are pretty charming little fellas to be around (in small doses). it is my pride, and the lies of satan, that tells me that they are solely my responsibility and i shouldn't dump them on other people and that i should be able to do all of this on my own. it is my laziness that keeps me from keeping a basic schedule and making a rough plan for our week on sunday so that i can have the help i need without imposing on other people. i knew this at the beginning of lent (and have for the last several years!) but continue to cling desperately to my will, detrimental though i know that it is.

like danielle talks about in this post, so much about motherhood is dying to self and in doing so, growing in holiness. although most days i'll only admit it through gritted teeth, and some days it's impossible to have the mental clarity to see it at all, i'm thankful for my challenging children and imperfect marriage because i know that if i accept the opportunities, they will strengthen and refine me. if i had a perfect husband and cherub children, i would be so full of myself and how brilliant i must be to have created such a perfect life that my soul would be lost. i would have stayed obnoxiously prideful and disgustingly judgemental and my spiritual life would have been very superficial and mostly just going through the actions.

finally, thank you so much for your prayers. words cannot express my gratitude. i never cease to be amazed by the power of prayer. proof of their effects is that i was finally able to step out of my indecisiveness and take some action. another proof was that when tim walked in the door last night after a 13 hour day and shared his schedule for the upcoming week, it included several closing shifts which means he gets to spend part of his day at home!!! he hasn't had one of those shifts in over six months and with the opening of the new store, i was entirely convinced (as was tim) that he would be there all day, every day for at least several weeks. right now he is upstairs playing legos with the boys, building cars in "big daddy's custom car shop". such a blessing for our family.

thank you.

Monday, April 4, 2011


(i was going to keep this post locked away in the drafts vault, but i feel like it's important to be honest. or maybe i'm too honest and over-sharey and need to just be quiet.)

i got to escape to lawrence this last weekend as a sanity break, as tim is now going to be gone from us even more than the 12 hours a day that he was as he opens a new store. it was a much, much needed break, but i fear after today, apparently no amount of time is enough to refresh me from my boys.

before i even had a chance to regale you with tales of my adventure (which included attending a roller derby) i am back in the trenches.

the boys were actually pretty good this morning, which was refreshing because they normally are constantly squabbling. they both want what the other one has and it's near constant conflict and whining that sometimes escalates to them yelling at each other and pushing/hitting/kicking/biting. the physical part is mostly max, ben starts most of the yelling. some days it has me in tears because i'm just so frustrated and lost about what do to. but most days, i just get tired of it and angry and want to just yell at them to shut up by the end of the day because i'm sooo fried. i don't, but i know that my mood and actions aren't the most patient and loving.

the fun started at lunch time because it wasn't something they liked. i knew they had had pb&j way too much over the weekend and seemed kind of breaded out, not eating their toast at breakfast, but also wouldn't really want anything else. meals are another major frustration because between the two of them, one child is usually whining, or even if it's something they don't directly dislike, they won't eat very much because they get bored or restless, and then they're hungry and wanting snacks soon after meals. usually i don't give in and send them to eat their neglected meals, but again, oy vey with the whining!

while max was napping, i heard ben upstairs in my craft/crap room. he likes to hang out up there and i usually let him, but i decided to check on him. he was playing with some pins that had been on my table, and showed me how he liked to wedge them between the gaps in his teeth so he looked like a walrus. we joked around and i took some pictures of him and just as i was thinking to myself what a nice time we were having, i noticed a wet spot on the carpet.

it was in the same spot that it had been wet another day when he had been alone upstairs. the other time i had asked him why the floor was wet and he said he didn't know, not acting suspicious at all. because me and max had been up there all that morning, i figured maybe max had knocked over my water, even though i didn't remember having a water bottle with me. today, i pressed further, pretty certain that he had peed on the floor. i asked him why the floor was wet and he told me that he had been thirsty so he got a glass of water and when he brought it upstairs he *insert sounds effects and wild hand gestures indicating the glass fumbling out of his hands and falling on the floor*. he was so detailed and matter of fact about it, but i just knew he was lying. i asked him where the glass was that had fallen and again, very cooly, he told me he had already taken it back downstairs. finally i just said, "do not lie to me. you have to tell the truth-did you pee on the floor?" he finally nodded his head and did his "i know i'm guilty and in trouble but maybe i can still charm you" grin. i didn't want to explode, ensuring he would never tell the truth again, so i calmly sent him to get a towel. i made him clean it up, and as he was, the thought hit me that this wasn't the only place he'd done this. i asked him if he'd peed on the floor anywhere else and again, at first he lied. after asking him directly if he'd done it in his room, he admitted that he had. (sometimes i've noticed wet spots on the carpet in their room, but it's always by their dresser where we keep a glass of water at night, so i thought maybe it was spills.)

THEN i remembered there being a mystery wet spot in my mom's play room/storage room after the boys had been playing down there. i had asked them both about it at the time, but they both seemed pretty oblivious. we figured it must have been from some sweaters that she had hung to line dry the day before because it was kind of behind the play kitchen away from where the boys play and right under one of her drying lines. i was so pissed off (har har)when i realized what he had done, but stayed very calm and directly asked him if we had peed on the floor at grammie's house? again with the nod and grin. i was mad, but even more, my brain was spinning trying to figure out how to best deal with the lying situation. peeing on the carpet is gross, but having a kid who can tell a very nonchalant, detailed, believable lie is really upsetting. i didn't want to come down on him so hard that he would just never admit the truth and stick to his lies, but at the same time, i also wanted to scare the bageezus out of him and have a punishment so horrible that he would never lie again. mostly knowing that wasn't possible, i tried to explain to him how disappointed i was that he had broken my trust and stayed very quiet. then he asked if he would still get to watch a show when max woke up-the normal routine. bling went the light bulb-the perfect punishment/consequence. i explained that he wouldn't because of his lies and naughty behavior and he erupted in tears and screaming. call me a mean mom, but i'll admit, that part was pretty gratifying to see him finally really upset over the situation. he kept screaming for at least ten minutes, mostly about how he wouldn't say he was sorry to grammie because it would be too embarrassing, and of course, about how he still wanted a show. several times i talked to him about the importance of being an honest person, but he just screamed.

max woke up during all of that and in a subtle effort to calm ben down a bit and to try to snap max out of a grouchy mood, i gave them graham crackers for a snack. ben immediately stopped screaming but max started. REALLY!!?? max was mad because he wanted " a lot. A LOT!!" of graham crackers. i tried to explain to him that they were all gone but he just kept raging. after having to put him in time-out, he only calmed down because i put his snack in a bag and we left the house.

he was majorly whiney in the car and in the few stores we went to, throwing several fits in target because he wanted to run instead of being in the cart, which i never let him do.

he finally calmed down and cheered up when we got to my parent's house, and thankfully, ben apologized for the carpet issue without any prompting. dinner was of course a struggle and draining, although i'm used to it. after dinner they went downstairs with my dad and watched a show-i totally forgot to enforce that ben shouldn't get to watch tv.

when he got home, because it wasn't quite bedtime, i decided to have the boys help me pick up the house a little-just going from room to room and picking up the toys. ben did a good job, but max, as he always is during clean-up time, was totally stubborn and resistant. first i had to take away the special toy i brought him from my trip, them he lost his bedtime story. he stares me down if i do a "i'm going to count to three and if you haven't picked up that toy..." , totally unwavering until i get to three and move towards him to take him to time out, at which time he finally says, "i'll do it! i'll do it!" but when i give him the chance, he'll just huff and plant himself again, totally not doing it. anymore, even if he says he's going to do it, i still take him to time out because i know i need to be in control and stick to what i said.

so tonight i left him in time out until bedtime, and when i did go in, ben and i had to endure his screaming while i read to ben because max wanted his story. i finally told him i was going to put him outside his door if he didn't stop and that lessened him to quiet whining and sniffing.

i try to be consistent with my discipline, but i know some days i don't do as well as i should because i'm just so worn down and tired of being "on" and in charge all day. i feel like i would need to go to bed when ben and max do to even have a chance at having enough energy to keep up with the boys, but then i wouldn't ever see tim or have any time to myself. many days our relationship already feels like a business partnership discussing logistics, if not just two exhausted zombies staring at each other at the end of the day.

i started reading the love and logic book but at the end of the day, i'm not in the mood for it. (i had skimmed it before and used what i had heard from family and friends. i've tried to go to the class several times but it has never worked with tim's work schedule.) plus, as stubborn as my boys are, and max especially, i don't have much faith that it would work.

my brain spins about how i can try to make things better, some doable, others probably not, or just not very reasonable: changing the boys' diets, new supplements/vitamins for me and the boys, more physical activity, different jobs, putting the boys in day care, etc. etc. etc. i make myself crazy trying to analyze what would help, but honestly, i often too overwhelmed to do the simplest things that i know would help. some days are a little better and i think we're on the up-swing/we've finally started to get the hang of his whole crazy situation. then other days are really, really bad. or in the middle, but pretty unpleasant.

i think i just needed to get this all out, but, seriously, if anybody has some sage momma advice, i am all ears. or if you could say some prayers for our little family, i would really appreciate it.