Quality Screen Time: Is Not Bad, Good Enough?

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Alrighty y’all… I’ve got a confession to make. When I get home from a long day of work, I love to enjoy some television. However, with an almost three year old our viewing pleasure is met with something made for, you guessed it, almost three year olds. Let’s be clear, I do not object to this one bit. As a teenager I would watch these shows while I did homework or crocheted, because it’s a relaxing thing to watch and great background noise for a cool down time. The problem, is I’ve become lax on putting quality of these shows over how much my child enjoys them.

Don’t get me wrong, Caleb hasn’t been watching anything “bad.” Jake and the Neverland Pirates, PJ Masks, and some other “kid” shows… nothing really bad right? Well, sadly he’s picked up some less than desirable behaviors from them. From Jake he’s learned about stabbing people and that it hurts, but still has been stabbing me with things, because that’s what a pirate does. From other shows he’s learning to tease other kids, aka he’s got a serious case of nana nana boo… Now are these things the end of the world? No, not really. But, with so many quality shows out there that teach him to treat his friends kindly and educate him when I’m taking a five second break from doing so, why not just lead him to those shows instead?

Which is what led me to putting a ban on all shows besides Signing Time/The Tree Schoolers, Daniel Tiger, Curious George, and the occasional (because he LOVES it) episode of Paw Patrol. Daniel Tiger shows both him and I how to deal with different emotions and his friends. It gives me songs and saying to help him through big emotions, and because he’s seen how they work in the show, they work in real life too. “Grown Ups Come Back” saved us when he started preschool last year. “When you’re feeling mad, like you want to roar…” saves us on a daily bases when he’s getting frustrated. It might take a few rounds but he settles right down. Signing time has helped him learn all of his letters, 140+ signs, colors, and so much more. Curious George helps children learn to be scientists and question everything around them in order to learn about life. Paw Patrol at the very least teaches new words, teamwork, and how people (or pups) are all different.

Caleb is a big fan of the shows I’m letting him watch, in fact when I put on Tigers last night for the first time in probably six months, he was so beyond excited. He kept cheering and thanking me for Tigers. It was as though he was getting to see a friend. This morning, while we were on the bus to my work/his daycare, I asked what he would like for dinner. He told me he wanted a, “Tiger Cake!” So, that’s what he got tonight (see picture above). I’m happy to see him remembering the things that he learned from this incredible show, and hope to see an improvement in his behavior with a lack of negative role models in his life.

What shows do you like for your littles to watch, and why?

Remember, YOU ARE LOVED!

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Expectations Bring Disappointment

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Today Caleb and I had a play group to go to. It’s one we used to go to every other week, but it usually wasn’t at the park with an entire daycare full of kids running around playing. For a split second, my expectation for him was to sit with the group on that parachute you see in the background. What on Earth was I thinking!? My child LOVES other kids, he loves the park, and he’s never been a fan of circle time. That split second was over, and him and I went off to play on the play equipment.

Sitting in the circle he started to cry. I can only imagine what was going through his sweet little head. “Why is mama punishing me? I just want to play!?” “But mama, why can all those other kids play, and I can’t?” “Mom, I just want to go play with these new friends!”

Well of course! How on Earth could I expect my two year old to sit, listen to instructions, and ignore that all the other kids are playing at a place he usually loves. My expectation ruined the fun for him, even if only for a minute. My expectation made me, just for a split second, frustrated that he wouldn’t conform to my will. No way. That’s madness.

This kind of thing happens a lot though. We go to the grocery store, it takes me an hour to shop, and I expect him to sit in the stroller quietly… HAHA! That’s hilarious right? I have to change my expectations and prepare for the realities. I bring snacks and toys, we sing silly songs, I get him involved… BECAUSE HE IS TWO AND THIS IS NORMAL CHILDHOOD BEHAVIOR! We go for a walk longer than five minutes. Do I expect him to hold my hand and comply to where I want to go the whole time at my exact speed? No way! I slow it down, I let him point out all the things around him, and sometimes I even let him walk a few steps ahead of me, because I trust him to not run off, and know I’ll be able to run with him even if he does.

I see parents at restaurants that spend the whole time yelling at their kids for one reason or another… “Well kids never learn if you don’t make them.” But what if what you’re expecting them to learn is just plain unrealistic? Sitting still is not something kids are meant to do till they are seven or older. Kids are meant to run around, stretch, and play! One moment parents are telling their kids to get out and move, the next they expect silence and still bodies. How did we get to these crazy expectations being normal to everyone around? Why is it that if kids don’t comply to these insane ideals they are labeled bad? Labeled as less than the kids who somehow do indeed comply? What a shame that all is…

Just take a deep breath parents. Your kids aren’t bad, they are just kids! Change your expectations and you’ll see that too soon enough.

YOU ARE LOVED

 

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.

Upcycling for My Cloud Lover

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See that plain white dresser up there? Yeah, it fell apart. A few drawers fell out, broke into pieces, and then it just felt a little useless. We got rid of the drawers, and pulled it into our room for safety, but there it sat for a few months. I thought of all these different things I could do with it, and thought maybe a book shelf would be nice, but didn’t know exactly how to make that happen. I’m not very good at building things, but like most, I had big ideas.

I started taking an awesome class at the Adult Ed. called Creating Success. Part of the class was fixing up a piece of furniture, and it dawned on me that it was the perfect time to work on this bookshelf/whatever it was going to become. I spent the first half of the semester trying to decide what I would do, and wanted to do the best I could to make something Caleb would actually want and love. The night before I was supposed to start working on it, we went for a nice evening walk. Caleb looked up at these incredible dark clouds, and got so excited. He told me he loved clouds, and for half an hour we sat and watched them. We talked about them, and why he loved them. “Mama they in sky and cool. Clouds rain and are ice.” (Thank you Tree Schoolers for getting him interested in learning that awesome tidbit!)

When we got home I took pen to paper… and this is what I came up with!

This my friends is Caleb’s own personal book nook! As you can see, the outside is the sky covered in hand painted clouds. The inside is painted as a rainbow (something else he really loves!) with a sparkly blue “C” just for Caleb. Originally I was going to just build a shelf inside for him to sit on/the books to be held under. My awesome teacher came up with a much better plan though! Instead we built him a bench that could fit inside, but would also be removable so that he could take it out of the nook if he wanted to. I painted a big piece of canvas, with the help of my friend, and stapled it to the bench. The legs were off another chair and were perfect “trunks” for this tree he’d be sitting on. The books fit neatly beneath it, and the legs keep them in place. I’m planning to get book ends for when he wants to remove the bench, but I’m not too worried about it for now.

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I was so excited to bring this home for him to start using. I snuck it in before he could see, got it all set up and ready, and brought him in… He was ecstatic! He turned to me and said, “Mama this Caleb’s?”

thank you mama

“Yes sweet boy!” Gleefully this little love of my life said, “Thank you mama!” He ran right over, sat down, got off, grabbed a book, and sat back down to read. He loves his books, and now I find him sitting there looking through his stories for a while every day. This book nook is just full of love. My grandmother had just given us the curtain I painted, so her touch is in here. My friends helped make the paint color to match, and another friend helped prime the inside and paint the seat cover. These are friends who love Caleb, and I’m sure he can feel that love. It took about nine hours to complete (between taking the old pieces apart, priming, painting, assembly, and finishing touches. It was all worth it though…

Sitting

Remember, You Are Loved!

My Child, My Hero

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Caleb… Goodness, my friends… I love this child more than I can ever imagine, and I love who he is. At only 2.5 years old he already has this incredibly bold and defined personality, and I feel so blessed to be part of his life. Getting the chance to watch and facilitate his growth… There are no words to describe how full my heart is because of him.

He is smart, inquisitive, and full of imagination. I love watching him play out different scenes with his toys, have conversations on the phone with those he love (even when they aren’t on the other end), and explain the world around him in only ways he knows.

He is stubborn, strong willed, and knows what he wants. I love that when he doesn’t get his way he will try to convince us to give in, and does so (most of the time) without any tears. I love that he has full choice over things like food, clothes, and (when possible) sleep and that he knows it. He’s not a picky child at all, and I really believe we don’t make a big deal over food. He picks out what we have for dinner a good percent of the time, and I love that he uses his deductive skills to make those kinds of choices.

My favorite part of him though is by far his heart. He is sensitive, compassionate, and incredibly empathetic. I love that despite his independence, he looks for connections. He will come to me, give a great big hug and kiss, tell me he loves me, and go right back to playing. I love that before naps he comes over, snuggles right into me, and will rub my arm until he falls asleep. I love that when he sees another kid crying, he goes right over, asks them what’s wrong, and will rub their head until they stop crying. I love that if someone asks him to stop, he listens. I love that he always wants to share and make sure that everyone around him has a toy so they are happy too.

This small human is like a dream to me. I could not ask for anything else in this crazy life. Even in my darkest moments, I look to him and I’m filled with hope for the future, because he’ll be part of it. He is the future.

Don’t Take Now for Granted

Imagine everything in your life being perfect. Your parents are happy, after months/years of fighting to get there, everything just falls into place. They paid off their truck, got the job of their dreams, received their passport, and ordered a sweet new pug dog, all in one magical day. You’re getting the chance to make good money, and doing so in a way that makes you happy. It’s the day before Valentine’s day, and everyone is thinking about dates, but not you. You’re just happy to spend your night watching Degrassi and sleeping with a sweet puppy all while keeping an eye on two sweet kiddos. Not a care in the world, no idea that anything could go wrong. You don’t thank anyone for this great day. It’s just another day, and tomorrow will be even better, you are so sure of this.

Until it’s not. Suddenly your world crumbles. No one will tell you what happened until you beg. Your mother tells you that your other parent has died. You ask how, but you don’t really want to know, because you already do. You pray that it was an accident, but it wasn’t. You don’t know what comes next, but you can never get yesterday back, and you want it. You want to go back and make today impossible, but you just can’t…

Every year around her birthday I can feel the wave of depression fold over me, but I try my best to ignore it all. Today, the emotions are just pouring out. When I woke up and jumped on Facebook I stumbled across two different posts, and both make me ugly cry like I haven’t in apparently not long enough. The stories were sad of course, but it was the underlying message that’s really kicking my emotional butt today.

The message was how easy it is to take what we have for granted. Of course it is though. We don’t know what comes next, we don’t know what others are going through or have been through, and we don’t know what we’ll one day miss either. It’s easy to be envious of others. It’s easy to only see what is now. Most of the time, I’m all for that. Today I just can’t stop thinking, man I miss it. I miss having these incredible people be in my life. I can’t help myself from missing my moms. I can’t help myself from wishing that there was a way to have them here now.

Here’s the thing though, I really have to add a big however to this whole thing. As much as I miss my moms, and as much as I wish they were in my current life, I don’t regret anything. I don’t wish that I could go back and change things, because my life would be very different today. I wouldn’t have met Corey, I wouldn’t have Caleb, and my life wouldn’t be on this incredibly rewarding path. Everything really happens for a reason. Everything. It doesn’t mean you aren’t going to feel pain. It doesn’t mean you won’t be angry or sad. It just means we have to really cherish every single person and thing in our lives, because in the next moment they could be gone. It’s cliched, I know, but it’s so true.

Today I’m going to snuggle Caleb just a little bit tighter. I’m going to make the most of today, and try to remember to thank the people I care about for being in my life more often. I’m going to try to be thankful that I have all of these amazing blessings around. I am so privileged to be alive… but gosh do I miss my mothers.

Caleb’s Imagination

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^^^ Graphic I Made for Caleb to Print and Pin to His Bedroom Door^^^

Imagination is an incredible thing. One of my greatest joys is watching Caleb play pretend. Our living room is over run by a play house, tool bench, and wonderful wooden kitchen. I wanted to be sure that he could explore those interests in full. He’ll make us lots of play food, build things on his fancy tool bench, and he “goes home” to his play house many times a day. I adore watching this, and playing along when he wants me to.

Another area of pretend play that he’s been working on lately involves his toys. It all started with Po the Polar Bear. He received him as a gift around Thanksgiving from a kind man that lives near his preschool. That bear is his best friend, and they have the most intricate conversations. Occasionally they will be in a  “fight” and Caleb won’t want to talk to or be around him. Then we have to mediate their fight. We’ll tell Po to apologize, and tell Caleb that Po still loves him, and then Caleb apologizes and they are back to being friends again.

Of course though, with his new obsession with Paw Patrol, he’s begun putting his Paw Patrol toys into situations, and it’s just too dang adorable. I wanted to share one exchange from him that had me totally in stitches last night.

Caleb had Marshall stuck inside of his boot calling for help, and his plush Chase was heading off to rescue him. Chase said, “Ryder need us!” He was loud, enthusiastic, and oh so cute. Chase finished saving him and he yelled, “We did it! Yay!!!” Then he walked off with them for another “rescue.” I love this child so dang much. His innocence is beautiful, and fills me with joy.

 

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.