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.


  1. ACK! I just typed a MONSTER comment and it deleted on me! I don't have the energy to re-type tonight, but I try tomorrow. My basic advice is stick with the L&L... it WILL work. I promise!

  2. I read Love and Logic. My kids choose neither of the options I give them 90% of the time. It's their way or the highway. So it doesn't really work for me, although I do continue to give them choices. Also, the authors keep stressing that the kids should suffer the consequences of their bad choices, not the parent...hah! We suffer the consequences of their choices always! (off soapbox)

    Please let me take your boys for a few hours! I understand how maddening it can be when they JUST WON'T STOP, ALL DAY LONG!!!

  3. We have been going through a rough time with Ira too lately. We've always used L&L with him, but recently it just didn't seem to be cutting the mustard, it just seemed to make things worse. So we're using Super Nanny's "naughty step" technique right now (which involves giving warnings prior to consequence/punishment.) It seems to be a good fit for us right now, but we're only 2 days into it, so we'll see how it works long-term.

    I wish I knew what to say, Mary, other than "hang in there." Being a mother is SO difficult sometimes and sometimes the best we can do is pray for our "comrades at arms." So that's what I'll do. I'll pray for you!

    And if you ever want to get together, I'd love to hang out sometime. We have a big backyard with lots of things for little boys to do!

  4. First, and most importantly, I really APPRECIATE your honesty!! Truly, I do. Being a parent is tough work and it's...reassuring to know that all parents have their issues and their frustrations. Not that I'm glad that you do, of course, but hopefully you know what I mean.

    Secondly, I wanted to say I think it's awesome that you had the self control to not immediately yell/get angry about the peeing / lying. Like you said, your reaction would have been attached to "this is what happens if I tell the truth" and that would have created a hard situation to handle down the road. Good for you.

    I don't have any real suggestions, because what works for someone, certainly doesn't necessarily work for someone else.

    Pray. Ask for more patience. And know that you ARE a good parent and just keep on keepin on. Hang in there!!

  5. OK, I'm back. I read you post last night, Mary, and even though I don't know you, I could SO relate to everything you said. You had me laughing... not AT you, but WITH you :) We've experienced every single thing you mentioned (constant fighting between siblings, pottying on the floor (actually happened last night!), and even the lying). I will say that about a month or so ago, I felt like we had reached an all time behavioral LOW... I was in tears nearly every day and the chaos was palatable. In a state of desperation, I ordered 2 books, 4 CDs and 2 or 3 DVDs from L&L (I think I even posted a pic on my blog!). I got CDs and DVDs with the hope that my husband would be more likely to listen than read (still waiting on that to happen though!). Anyway, I took the L&L class before Molly was born and basically forgot everything immediately after she was born. This time, I decided to really give it a good effort. And I have to say, it has been incredible this time around... I've even referred to it as magic! I've seen several naysayer comments and I will admit that I felt that way the first go round. You have to stick with it and use it consistently in order for it to work. It is not my normal way of reacting to situations so it takes effort and lots of practice. The more I read and listen, the better able I am to use the method and the better my results have been. Honestly, it has really, really helped me. And the house is calmer too - which means the kids are calmer. They really do feed off of me - when I scream, they scream! I would be happy to let you borrow my books/CDs/DVDs once I am through all of them if you would like (you can email me at to continue trying it. I have ready many parenting books, including many Catholic ones, but none of them have worked as well as L&L is working for me right now. And I have to say, L&L is more than just giving choices. That's just one small aspect of it. But I will tell you that the choices thing has helped me with Emily (strongest willed of the bunch) tremendously. We used to have to lock her in her room at night to get her to stay there. We started loading her up with choices before bed (silly ones too, but they make her feel like she has some control) with the last choice being whether her door will be open and she stays in bed, or closed and she gets out of bed. It took 3 nights of her getting out of bed and me closing the door. Now she sleeps with it open and doesn't get out. And we've been locking her in since before Molly was born :) That's just one example. And there are also ways to handle the kids not choosing one of your choices - YOU choose for them when they don't! And they don't like that at all and eventually they figure it out :) So that is my soapbox. I've been on the "I'm kind of trying it side" of the method and on the "I'm going to do this all out side" of the method - both sides gave different results. So that is why I encourage you to get more information and keep working on it!

    Lastly, I just want to encourage you. I also have a husband who works all.the.time! I often find myself so envious of the families whose husbands get home at 5:30 or 6:00 and help with dinner, etc. Or families who eat early enough in the evening to be able to go on a family walk after dinner. I can relate. Just hang in there - motherhood is the HARDEST thing I've ever done in my life!

    God Bless and let me know if you want to borrow any books - I have a library :)

  6. Be assured of my prayers Mary. I won't say anything else about L&L b/c Danielle covered it all, and while Claire is my stubborn one I'm sure the boys have her beat hands down any day of the week(although she has shown us some very impressive fits recently). L&L is tougher with Claire since she's younger, but she is starting to respond to the choices stuff. She really likes to be the one in control, so it's taking more effort with her than with Melanie, and Matt is infinitely better at applying L&L consistently than I am. So yes. Prayers coming your way. And just think, warmer weather will be here to stay soon, so hopefully the boys will be too tired from romping around outside to be defiant, right? ;)

  7. Danielle did sum up L&L very well... I did a blog about it awhile back too (, but mostly I would encourage you to read the books/listen to the cd's etc to learn the system thoroughly. I don't want anyone to get the wrong impression that because one aspect (uh oh song/roomtime) of L&L wasn't working for us right at this time that I don't believe in the "system" anymore. I wholeheartedly believe that L&L is a fair, realistic, and good way to raise kids. And I would highly recommend it to any parent who is having trouble

    And I really do find it helpful to read your frustrations. It makes me realize that Ira is not a psychopath - he's just a strong-willed kid like so many others out there. All I can say is thank God for FB/Blogs with which we can communicate/commiserate with fellow moms!

  8. Mary,

    I have not read Love and Logic, but I'm going to look into from these comments alone. In any case, I recommend Conscious Discipline by Becky Bailey. She is hillarious and has some really good points. They use conscious discipline in my son's preschool and I think it works very well. I use some at home, but really we have not had too much trouble lately so we just stick to routines, encouragement, etc.

    In any case, I really just want to say HANG IN THERE!! Kids are crazy. What works one day fails the next. You just have to hang on tight and try to enjoy the ride. As Mother Theresa says, God does not ask for success, but for obedience. You are trying your best to be the best mother you can. God will take care of the rest.


  9. Mary, my friend, first, I think it's good that you are being honest and reaching out for help. That's something I'm still learning to do. Also, this blog seems to be a good avenue for you to get your feelings out so if that helps you so you don't take your feelings out on the boys, blog more often! ;) For me, I don't think you are whining when you do this or that you are a terrible ungrateful mother. I just think-wow she's normal and I'm not the only one who feels totally helpless.
    Also, don't feel like you bring more trouble to us if you need to get out of the house and have some company. The boys might act the same but it's harder to yell and scream when others are watching you. :) So come over whenever you need. I actually left a vm for you inviting you to dinner if you like meatloaf?
    Discussions about parenting and discipline are tricky because, like others have said, what 'works' for one family doesn't always work the same way for another. This is because each child is different and each parent is different. For me, love and logic just isn't my style. So when I read it and tried to apply it, I felt like I was forcing myself, and Steve, to be something that we weren't. And kids are smart and pick up on things like that and eventually I think it would bother my kids if I acted like someone I wasn't. But if love and logic is your style then go with it. I have this to share in my blog drafts but in case it never makes it out, I recently checked out some an anger management book at the library and another called, "They Just Don't Get It!" I don't have a 'problem' with anger but I figured it couldn't hurt to read about how to manage my anger so I can in turn help Nicholas manage his. It has given me some good food for thought and reminders. I'll tell you more about it when we see each other again.
    One answer to your 'situation' that will always 'work' is to pray, pray, and pray. One day God will show you how He has used this times to strengthen you, Tim, and your family.

  10. Sorry for the lengthy comment coming.

    Mary I know I don’t comment on your blog often but I think your awesome mama. Way to go for staying calm and handling the situation of the peeing on the floor and lying so well. I found this link useful on understanding lying and why kids lie at different ages and stages. Personality sure makes some kids much more believable in their lying than others, my Annika is very believable when she lies.

    I agree with Erika’s comments. Generally speaking I just don’t believe that there is a one size fits all approach to parenting children and parenting books that make it sound like your child will be a juvenile delinquent if you don’t use their method really get under my skin. I suppose there would be a lot more criminals in the world if that were true. I did read two of the Love and Logic books because people talked so positive about them and these books did not mesh with my beliefs and personality. I think my other bias is that Foster Cline, one the authors, is a very controversial Psychologist. If you want to read more about that you can read about his work with “Attachment Therapy” here Much of this controversy was happening at the time I worked with children at a Psychiatric Hospital. But again I think what Erika said is true if that method resonates with you and feels genuine than you are more likely to be consistent and would work with your family.

    A few years ago I came across this PDF about Positive Discipline and really love it. I like its simplicity and that is not overwhelming. It is such a great tool for me as a parent to think beyond whatever annoying or naughty behavior is going now and have my mind on the long term.
    I love the building blocks for positive discipline and it really fit with my beliefs about child development and helped me be mindful about how my children think and feel and how we can problem solve. I want my children in the long term to have good problem solving skills. I also really believe in being respectful to my children’s unique personalities and getting the best out of those personalities as they grow.

    In my first few years of parenting I was trained and taught The Incredible Years Parenting Program. I feel very blessed that I had that experience and it definitely helped me as a parent. I really saw this program work for parents and we are talking about parents with children who were out of control. Many of the parents in our class were court ordered to be there but we saw these parents being excited to come back. I have the book from this if you would want to borrow it, but really the class is what makes it really work. Okay I won’t keep babbling about it because I could ;) Other books that I like that are part of my toolbox (meaning I use some of these methods with my children) are How To Talk So Children Will Listen and Listen So Children Will Talk, Parenting with Grace, Playful Parenting, and The Discipline Book (This Dr. Sears book has good stuff on child development). Not that you need to read all or any of these books to be a good parent but these have been helpful to me ;)

    I totally get the stress of having a husband gone a lot with Jason working and then also being back in school the past few years. 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. And despite my calm demeanor I do have a temper, just ask my sister ;) Annika in particular has a hard time when daddy is gone a lot and I have learned what I can do make these times easier for us. Make sure you use your support people and know I would also be happy to lend an ear. Prayers for you Mary and I appreciate your honesty in your parenting journey.

  11. My first link on lying did not work so here it is again. Its short and worth a read through.

  12. Michelle,
    Thank you for your comment, because I was beginning to think there was something wrong with ME because L&L didn't "ring true" for me. It just felt wrong, for lack of a better explanation. I am looking forward to checking out some of your recommendations.
    And Mary, thank you for giving all of us a chance to consider this together. :)

  13. Michelle,
    wow, that was an amazing comment! Thank you Mary for starting this, like Patty said, as I feel I have been very blessed now with Michelle's wise insights that I can definitely relate to.
    Patty-I have felt the same way in the past. L&L is so popular, kind of like BabyWise, and 'everyone' likes it and it 'works' for everyone that sometimes I too look inward and wonder if I am the problem and not those methods. But I haven't felt comfortable with them and Michelle's comment reminded me that there might be a good reason for this.
    Mary-I also liked the How to Talk books and would recommend them. It's nothing revoluntionary really-just learning how to talk to you kids in a way that respects both them and you. It's not magical but can be practical you can apply it to your personality and your kids personalities.

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  15. Hey Mary, I'm jumping on the bandwagon kind of late here, but after reading all the other comments I thought I would chime in and share that we're not fans of L&L at our house either. Michelle T. is right, go read about Foster Cline. Some of the stuff he does is just scary. I believe he was even forced to surrender his license to practice medicine in the state of CO due to this. I have read one of the books and skimmed the other, and to me it just seems phony, forced and at times can even be viewed as manipulative. I think carried to an extreme it can teach kids that might makes right. Go on Amazon and read some of the reviews of the books. Many are quite insightful. L&L touts an "easy fix" to all your parenting issues...but seriously. Parenting just ain't easy. There is no "one-size fits all approach" that is going to work for every parent and every child. It just isn't possible. There are certainly some positive aspects of L&L, but as a whole I just don't think it is incredibly loving or logical. Just my two cents though for sure. ;-D

    I too really enjoyed Parenting with Grace, and as Michelle said Sears' discipline book gave a lot of insight into age-appropriate behavior across the board.

    Hang in there, my little Gemma can be quite the tricky gal as well. She is a girl of strong will and passion. And add to that a mother who is the same way and watch out. I find so much of her behavior, though, hinges on me. If I would learn to get my patience in check, quit raising my voice, focus on being a good mom instead of OCDing about everything else, then maybe things wouldn't be so rough. I'm a work in progress for sure...always will be.

    I am so thankful to have mom friends like all you gals with whom to commiserate and from to learn. What a blessing in a rewarding yet undeniably wearying vocation.

  16. I think the PDF on Positive Discipline scares me just a little bit in that it endorses quite highly (in pgs 6-7) the Child's Rights Treaty. Which to me, is an incredibly dangerous threat to our rights as parents. I haven't gotten much further than that yet, but it just sent up a red flag to me.

  17. Michelle I can see where that would be a red flag but I will say that she (the author of the document) is Canadian and that when Canada ratified Convention of the Rights of the Child Canadian laws were already in line with this convention. Despite beliefs one way or another about the treaty I have found that the information in this document to be a nice guide to think about my interactions with my children. Just my opinion on whats been useful to me.

  18. Ok, I know I'm super way behind in commenting...honestly, I was just waiting to have the time to read it all. Mary, you are a very good Mother!! I am impressed with how patient you were with the whole situation. Can I just say that lying is a phase and should never be condoned...but it will pass. I think you could write a parenting book yourself! There is not a perfect parenting method because every child is different. We took L&L, it was fine and I think overall it can be effective...but honest to pete, consistancy is the most important thing...and I think that's the crucial element in any parenting technique.
    Personally, I get a little too drained to always follow some idealogical protocol or to "consult the manual."
    I don't have any great advice for you, but as all things do..."this too shall pass."
    Hugs and prayers!!