Still a Good Mom…

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When I started this blog, I was so sure I’d be a perfect mom. I mean really, the original name of the blog was something like, “Becoming a Young Mom, and How I Did it Right.” Barf! Am I right? It quickly became “How I Did it Peacefully,” because right is a very subjective word, and I mess up all the time. ALL THE TIME. I tried for a long time to still put on a facade. I wanted the world to think I was a super mom. Perfect house, perfect kid, perfect put together life… Well I’m here to tell you, it just isn’t so.

I get angry sometimes. Caleb will be extra clingy for one reason or another, and every hair on my body stands on end. I might even yell. I might even lock myself in the bathroom for five minutes while he cries, because I need five minutes where no one is touching me; poking, prodding, squeezing… But, most of the time I’m not. Most of the time I feel like having this small little boy around me 24/7 is the most awesome blessing that has ever been given to me. Sometimes I’m tired. Sometimes I put the TV on all day long and I just lay on the couch, because the idea of doing a craft or having a conversation exhausts me past my breaking point. TV all day or a mean mom? I’ll go for the TV every time. But, most of the time I’m so happy to take Caleb to the park, play dates, do the newest cool kid craft, or play make believe. Most of the time I don’t ever want him to leave my side.

This is one of the hardest things in the world for me to admit. 99% of the time I honestly don’t feel like I need a break. 99% of the time I really think I’m doing okay. Then that 1% where my nerves are just fried, I wish someone, well someone like his Mimi because I’m neurotic and really don’t trust many people with him, would come get him just for a night. He’s spent maybe five nights away from me since he was born. Maybe ten times he’s gone with her for a day. That 1% of me isn’t a regular thing, and yet I still feel so much guilt about it… but why?

Don’t even get me started on the house. This week we had kind of an inspection. Not on our house from our landlord, but he’s trying to sell the house so the state inspection people had to come and measure stuff. I took three days cleaning the house. Twenty loads of laundry, seven loads of dishes, a full bottle of Windex, and an emptying of the vacuum five times later, our home was presentable. While I was putting away the clothes I ask Corey in exasperation, “How is it that I did all of these things AND went to school when I was younger?” He looked at me and laughed then responded, “You didn’t have Caleb.” I mean, I get the kitchen clean, and every toy is pulled out in the living room. I fold the clothes, turn my back, and the pile has become something to play in. I’m honestly not even mad, in fact I’ve accepted it, but when my house is a disaster (think dishes from a week ago and mysterious sticky spot on the kitchen floor), I’ve been home all day, and I’m still exhausted at the end of the night I do feel really guilty… but why?

This morning I woke up and my house was essentially still clean. The living room has some toys on it. I asked myself if I wanted to pick them up and decided to sit down and watch a movie while Caleb was still sleeping instead. I started to think about all of the things I’m doing wrong. I though about how I lose my patience, or I don’t always make the healthiest foods, or how when his doctor asked us how much milk he drinks, I had no freaking clue. But, I looked around at the fun art on the walls. I looked at the pictures of us together. I looked at his toys and thought about how much I love watching his imagination at work. I walked in and watched him sleeping next to his daddy. He is strong, healthy, and loved. He doesn’t go without. He has at least one close friend, and he has all the family he’ll ever need. He isn’t afraid when I life my hand that he’ll be hit, because we never hit him. He doesn’t have to worry about eating quickly or hoarding food, because we never let him go without. His body is respected. I do everything in my power to raise him peacefully. 99% of the time I succeed, so why do I fixate on that 1%?

… I’m still a good mom.

YOU ARE LOVED

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Love: It’s Really That Simple

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With the first anniversary of #LoveWins upon us, I’ve been having a lot of emotions pop up. Apparently I still have a lot of anger towards the people in this world who oppose same sex marriage. I mean, I really can’t wrap my head around it. Can you believe there are people out there that would rather a child be left in foster care than have two moms? Or that they actually believe that some random relative the person has never met should have say over their medical care and that their long time partner shouldn’t?

I’m so proud to call these two women above my mothers. They showed me love, compassion, how to treat my child, trust, and most of all acceptance. They showed me that being honest is a gift. They showed me that love is the most important thing in this world. They showed those around them what hard work looked like. I posted this picture on my facebook today, and the comments make me cry. The love that others felt for them, how grateful they were to know my moms, all the gifts my parents gave them… wow!

Here’s the kicker for me today though. Caleb and I were looking through some pictures of my moms, and we come to the one posted above. Caleb points to the heart and says, and this is a direct quote, “They’re in love. That’s my grandmas.” Queue my heart shattering into a thousand pieces. He’ll never get to meet them. He’ll never get to hold their hands, snuggle them to sleep, or learn from them like I was able to, and that breaks my heart. It destroys me at my core. Yet, despite that, his statement is profound and powerful. This little almost three year old child gets what far too many adults don’t. Love is love. Love is everything. Love is the ONLY thing that matters.

Today, I challenge each and every one of you to show a little love for those around you. Bonus points if you show love for the LGBTQA+ community. There is enough hurt in the world. Today, let’s aim for love.

 

You ARE Loved!

I Help?

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I stand at the sink washing the hundredth dish of the night, when this sweet boy comes in. “What you do mama?” he asks me. “I’m cleaning up baby,” I tell him. He walks around for a few minutes, comes and watches me wash a few dishes, and then he takes a few steps back. He asks me, “I help?”

Way to melt a mama’s heart. I told him that he could pick things up from the floor and put them in the trash if he wanted. He did just that, and he did it happily. I thanked him for helping me clean our home. We finished up our work together, and went into the living room to snuggle a while.

I’ve never made him clean up. I will almost always ask him to pick up his toys, and often he will, but if he doesn’t I do it for him. Usually if he sees me cleaning up his toys, he comes to help me. When I do my own household duties, I try my best to do them cheerfully, because I have little eyes watching. He sees me happy to do these things, willing to do all of these jobs to help our home, and he picks up on it. He will now happily help without asking, because we always made it just another part of the day for our family instead of a chore, a pain in the butt, that just had to get done, because I said so.

Our family works together to make a home, and he is part of this wonderful home. And… I am so grateful.

You Are Loved!

Toddlers: The Personal Space Invaders

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Last night my sweet, adorable, loving child decided that the only acceptable place for him to be… was glued to me. Now I love snuggling, really, but snuggling (that really means being climbed all over, pushed, prodded, and jumped on) for ten straight hours is just really not my cup of tea. I would stand up and the banshee scream would come out of his small body. I had to go potty at one point and actually shut the door. The poor thing stood outside the door and cried, but my skin needed just a moment to relax and not be touched before going back into the prison like state this little being had put it in. I had been feeling a little ragey and really needed that few minute breather before I made bad choices.

I’d put him down, and he’d cry to me, “I want huggies, I want huggies!” I’d comply every time, because I will NEVER say no to a hug from my child. He’d lay right over my whole chest, and despite how much discomfort I was in, I took a deep breath focused on how much I loved him. Because… my mommy intuition knew there was a reason for his extra lovey and needy state. Sometimes you really do have to drop everything and just BE there for your child, because a need might seem silly to you, but make all the difference for them.

Him and I had just been away from Corey for most of a week, then with him constantly for two days because his days off came up right when we got home. Yesterday his daddy went back to work, and his sweet heart just couldn’t deal with it. He really missed his daddy, and was using my touch to console himself. I just couldn’t bring myself to be the strict, mean mommy that put him down and left him to cry out his pain. I know when I used to miss Corey so severely, before we lived together, I would have done anything to have someone hold me and tell me it would all be okay. Of course I want to be that for Caleb.

I can’t always/don’t always do the right thing. Sometimes I just NEED my space, but last night I knew that he had to come first. Today, he’s been eating like crazy, so I suspect he was also having a growth spurt yesterday and probably feeling some pain in his joints not helping with his already broken heart. Soon as daddy got home last night he was, of course, fine again… but all in all I don’t regret giving him that extra love yesterday.

I’m really not sure of the point for this post, but I felt compelled to share about this scene with my sweet boy. Today, I look at him and I am just filled with love and I’m so grateful that he will always know love, because not everyone has that privilege.

 

Remember, YOU ARE LOVED.

Finger Paints and Stamping Fun!

I LOVE painting, and Caleb has been talking about painting a lot the last few days. First thing this morning I made a batch of my edible finger paint, and when my sweet boy woke up I surprised him with this painting station.

I really wanted to do more than just finger painting, so I grabbed straws and toilet paper rolls (two things I obsessively collect which drives Corey crazy) and stuck one of each into each of the six colors I made. I got Caleb naked, and gave him some paper. Then (last picture) I created examples to show him how the stamps work, and also to show him with the straw you can blow the paint around. He LOVED blowing the paint.

He really focused on the color red today. I was surprised. I made two purples and pink for him because he’s been so into them, but red was the cool color today.

After three of the toilet paper roll stamp paintings and one of the straw paintings I gave him a paintbrush. That’s what led to the second picture, and I loved watching him paint lines and then smack the brush against it like a stamp. It was cool to see that the concept we were working on really stuck with him. Lastly I took a straw and drew his name into his painting! I think once it’s dry we’ll put it on his bedroom door.

Originally I planned to do more. I was going to “stamp” his hand to make some Valentines Day cards, animal prints, etc… but he wasn’t having it. My normally messy loving boy really didn’t want to get his hands dirty today, so I didn’t force it. The paint only takes a minute to create anyway, so if he seems more willing later on, we’ll just do it then. I want to get some actual stamp pads and stamps. I think he’d love that, and he liked stamping his hand last Friday.

Alrighty, Back Carry It Is!

I so wish I had a picture for you all, because it was truly adorable. Very soon I’ll have a phone again, and pictures will be attached to all of my posts. For now I hope I can paint the picture for you instead.

I live in Maine, and as I’m sure all of my state side readers know, Maine is cold. VERY cold. The big problem for me is that I don’t drive… Currently we walk or bus everywhere we need to go. That means that I have to walk Caleb to his preschool each day before going to mine. Trying to push a stroller through snow is a very illogical thing to do. Yesterday, I did it anyway. It took me an extra fifteen minutes to get him to school.

Sadly the time part isn’t the worst part. Caleb will not wear gloves or mittens. He’ll either rip them off, or sob and scream till they are removed. It’s way too cold to be out without gloves, but there really was no other choice. It’s too cold in general really. We’d get to his school, or home, and his hands would be pink. We always offer gloves, and on especially cold days I’d fold down his sleeves and put gloves over them so he couldn’t get them off. It broke my heart to hear him scream, but I couldn’t figure out what else I could do.

Today, I decided enough was enough. I’ve been avoiding using our Ergo because I usually have a lot of things to bring with us. We both have full school bags, and it’s much easier to just toss them under the stroller. Since I didn’t have class today, I just tutor on Fridays, I decided to try the Ergo. I woke him up, got him dressed, and tossed him up in the carrier.

Right away there was a big smile across his face. He loved being so close and snugly when he first woke up. The best part for him was that he was warm! His hands were tucked inside of my jacket, which was wrapped around us both, and his hood was much easier to keep on with him face to face with me rather than in the stroller. It wonderfully also saved us a ton of time. I was able to walk at a normal pace, and the snow was no problem for us.

The only problem was the pain. Last year I really hurt my back. It felt like I’d crushed it. I went to the chiropractor a few months ago, and I’ve been feeling better, but not my best. This morning, carrying my just about thirty pound child on my front, all of that pain came back temporarily. I was dying to get him off of me, and dreading the walk home. It’s not long, just a fifteen minute walk, but I was really worried that the pain would last.

After tutoring I picked him up and decided to try my second ever back carry. The last time I tried it, nearly a year ago, I spent the whole time panicking that he’d fall out. This time, I had his teacher look us over once I’d gotten him all snuggled in, and it felt a whole lot better. We started our walk home, and I couldn’t believe how comfortable it really was. No pain, barely any pressure, just a snugly baby on my back.

Within minutes, he was passed out for a wonderful nap. Usually if he falls asleep in the stroller, when we get home and I try to move him he will wake up and be miserable all night. With the carrier I just sat on the couch, unlatched it, and gently laid him down. Such a simple transfer, and he got a great nap in! I really love this boy. I’m so thankful for our Ergo. It was an incredible investment.

Daddy-Son Time <3

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One of the benefits of Corey working at Lowe’s is that he gets to bring home the Build and Grow projects to do with Caleb. Soon as he walks in with one of those sets, Caleb just lights right up. I’m actually really impressed with Corey too. He could build the whole thing by himself in a few minutes, or be too worried he’d get hurt to let Caleb help. Instead, Corey involves Caleb in the whole thing.

First Caleb reads him the instructions. Then Corey kind of follows them, but usually has to pull a few parts apart as he goes. Then he has Caleb help him put in each nail before he hammers it in. Caleb has the option of using stickers, or not. He can put them on and rip them off later. It’s totally Caleb led. In general it’s just a blast watching them, and I know he’s learning just so many things! Putting the little nails in the holes? Totally fantastic fine motor skill practice. Following instructions? Puzzling pieces together? Great brain activities.

It’s also education for Corey. Patience, letting go, trust… It’s really beautiful watching them together.

Puzzles Gallore: Day Five of Pre-school Home-schooling

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Today went better than every other day this week. The big problem I was having is that I hadn’t prepped the “class” before we started. I would set him up with a coloring sheet, and I’d sit besides him cutting and gluing. Of course what mama was doing was SO much more interesting. Frustration would ensue, and it would take a thousand times longer to get everything done, and Caleb would have a harder time getting interested.

The big difference today, is I made sure before we even tried to start that everything was ready to go, and we didn’t start at his desk. We sang Old McDonald, and I signed it for him. We went over what a cow was a few more times, and how they live on farms. Then we moved onto the Nursery Rhyme of the week. I made up a little fold book with the characters to “Hey Diddle Diddle.” As I recited the rhyme I pointed out the Cat, Fiddle, Cow, Moon, Dog, Smile/Laugh, Dish, and Spoon. Caleb loved that he had a book to identify the things from.

Once we had danced and sung, and he was calm, we moved over to the desk and I pulled out a cow puzzle I made for him. First he had a completed one where he matched the cut out spots to. Then he had a blank cow shape to “add the spots to.” I got the idea for it from a bus version our Families Read instructor made for him. This was a fantastic Fine Motor activity. Placing the pieces, matching sizes… Another thing, which you’ll probably notice is, rather than a normal or round cow, it’s square/rectangle based. I decided on that because of our focus on squares for the week.

Speaking of buses and our Families Read instructor… We also worked on this awesome name puzzle today. Caleb loves buses, and he’s a big fan of his own name. He liked mixing up the letters and putting them back together. He loves telling us that, “C is for Caleb!” I started by asking him what it said. Imagine my surprise when he said, “Caleb.” This is an awesome example of sight words. Then I pointed to each letter, said the name, and told him to please say it. It was kind of interested. For “A” he said Ah. For “B” he said AB. We repeated the activity a few times, but he kept saying them that way. C, L, and E he had no problem with. Then I mixed them up and just put C and B where they belonged. He took the reigns and put them back in order, though a ended up upside-down. All around it was a good activity for him though.

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Day One, Two, and Three of Home-school Pre-school

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I’m so sorry for the lack of active pictures. It’s really hard to do school and get pictures without someone to work the camera. I’m also really sorry I didn’t post day one or two. I hope you’ll enjoy reading about this anyhow!

Monday was really simple, but a total blast. We started by introducing the learning board, and more specifically introducing the theme of the week. This week we are focusing on cows, the word calf, the color green, shape square, letter A, number 1, and nursery rhyme “Hey Diddle Diddle.”

I woke him up with this poem:

Little Calf by Katrina Lybbert

“Good morning, little calf,” gentle mother cow said.

“It’s time to get up from your sweet hay filled bed.”

Little calf jumped, stamped his feet, swished his tail,

And followed mama past a shiny milk pail.

Out into the barnyard, holding his head high,

Little calf look up to the blue, blue sky,

Birds flying past chirped a joyful song,

Little calf smiled, and felt happy all day long.

Then we watched a few YouTube videos about cows, and then we started talking about calves. We’re still breastfeeding occasionally, so I explained to Caleb that calves drink their mom’s milk the same way he drinks mine. As the day went on we sang “Old McDonald” over and over, but just talked about him having a cow. I had him get on all fours with me, and we moo’ed like a cow. It was a lot of singing and moving for the first day.

Tuesday was a little harder for us. Caleb wasn’t a huge fan of sitting. That’s okay with me though. The focus of the day was on green and squares. Because Caleb didn’t want to sit still, we decided to just walk around the house pointing out all the square and green things we could find. I figured we could just do the other activities on Wednesday…

Wednesday, today, was wonderful. We woke up with the Old McDonald song, and an awesome green outfit which to my surprise he could identify. After we got out of school we went to the library. I found a ton of great books today. The best was, “The Great Big Green” by Peggy Clifford. Everything is green until the end, and it ends up being the Earth. We also went through books about farms (to talk about cows), a letter book which we focuses on the A with, and a number book where we counted up to three, because Caleb can count to three and wouldn’t stop at one. When we got home I sat him down with a few worksheets I printed off. One had a tree dropping leaves with dotted lines showing the fall pattern. I showed him how to draw lines based on the dotted lines. He said, no. Instead he drew lines from the bottom of the paper to the top. Totally acceptable to me. A line is a line. Then we colored a square green. It’s part of a set of shape cards we’ll be working on through the weeks. He helped me glue the name (square) to the back of the card, and we moved on. I cut out the template for a cow cube, and he glued… some of the spots that we were instructed to. It came out really cute though. We talked about how there was only ONE cow cube, how a cube is made of squares, and that it was, obviously, a cow. Totally the perfect project for this week!

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Preschool Love

First Day of Preschool

When I chose to go back to school I had to find child care for Caleb. It worked out perfectly. His preschool is only a five minute walk from my school, has amazing credentials, and is incredibly affordable. We spent a few days before deciding to send him there checking out the school, letting him play at the playground, meeting teachers, and having him sit in on half days. He loved it, we felt comfortable, so we signed him up to start on the first day.

That picture makes me laugh every time I see it. We had just walked up to the school, I wanted a few first day of school pictures, but Caleb had a different idea. He marched right up those steps saying, “Bye, I go in.” He turned around just long enough for me to get this snapshot. We made our way inside and he went right to playing. We said bye, since I had to go to school myself, and he didn’t even look up. My attachment parenting raised love bug had no problems with us leaving him at school.

Now we are five weeks in, and nothing has changed. He loves going to school, is having so much fun, and his teachers are very impressed with how much he knows compared to his peers. Each night before a school day I ask him if he wants to go to school, and just gets so excited! I thought that we’d all have a much harder time with this adjustment, but it turns out we all had the tools to do it.