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

 

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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

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!

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.

Loving Hand-Print Crafts

This weekend was really peaceful for my little family. We all had it off of work and school, so it was the perfect time to work on some crafts and cooking! I was inspired to do some loving crafts.

The first was the hand-print tree with heart leaves coming off of it. How cute is that? Very simple too. I just traced Caleb’s hand and arm, cut it out and taped it into place. Then I cut out a bunch of different sized hearts, and Caleb helped me put them into place. I was quite impressed with his choices, and only guided him if there were too many overlapping. Then I cut a piece of green paper to look like grass, and fanned it out to make it 3-D. Lastly, I pinned it up onto our butterfly wall, and it looks completely adorable.

The next project was the hand upon hand project (picture three). Super simple, but I love the way it over laps. Blue for Corey, Purple for me, and Orange for Caleb. This one, believe it or not, was the biggest pain because Corey’s hand is so big! I had to trace it three times because it kept fitting weirdly. Eventually we fixed it up to fit on the background with ours. Imagine having it with a teen, elementary aged kiddo, toddler, and new born… Someday my friends! That would be so cute though.

Lastly was the middle project; family hands making hearts. I loved this idea! All you need to do is fold a piece of paper, then trace the hand you want to use with the thumb and pointer touching the crease. As long as you don’t cut the crease in those two places, when you unfold, you’ll have a cute heart! I taped ours together and pinned it above a painting of a heart I did many years ago. It’s a good addition to our living room I think.

Valentines day is coming up soon, and these would be some fun crafts for any age. Caleb prefers stamping his hands compared to having them traced, but he loves picking colors and placing items. I’m a big fan of tape, because you can move things around if it’s not “just right.” I hope y’all enjoy these, and if you try them out, please share them with me!

Paw Patrol!

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Not the best pictures ever, but these are the best I have right now… and I still love them!

Remember when Caleb was obsessed with Mickey Mouse? Well, that obsession hasn’t ended, but he has a new obsession along with it… and that’s Paw Patrol! Constantly my sweet boy is asking to watch “puppies!”

It all started after a doctor’s appointment. His doctor’s office has a toy machine, and he selected a little puppy toy. He brought that thing with him everywhere for a while, and would talk about puppies randomly through out the day. I remembered hearing about this Paw Patrol show, so I pulled up a clip on YouTube, and it was love at first sight for my sweet boy.

Ever since I’ve been trying to get him more Paw Patrol themed things, because it makes him so happy and joyful. His honest appreciation each time he receives something new is beyond sweet.

On Black Friday Corey found these pajamas at Walmart for cheap, and it was the first Paw Patrol gift Caleb received. Now this child of mine is a total mini me when it comes to clothes. He hates wearing them! If he had the choice, he’d be naked all the time. These pjs on the other hand… he’d prefer to never take them off!

Then for Christmas we were able to get him the stuffy Chase after finding an amazing deal on it. Chase now goes EVERYWHERE with him: school, bed, errands, etc… He also got a little Marshal in his firetruck toy from a wonderful friend of mine. It’s one of his favorite things ever. He also got five episodes of the show off of Amazon, so he could finally watch the actual show instead of just snippets.

Recently someone gifted me a Walmart gift card to buy clothes. After shopping through the website I did find a few things, and ordered them, but I had another $20 left and wanted to spend it on my little love. I ended up ordering him a backpack, sippy cups, and a shirt! The cups came first, and he was so excited. Now everything he wants to drink MUST be in the cup or he won’t drink it. Today the back pack came. I showed it to him, and he was just in awe. He kept running his fingers over the characters and smiling. He really needed a new bag for school, he has been using my diaper bag, so this couldn’t be more perfect. I am excited for the shirt to come next week. It has all of the pups on it, and he’ll really love it I’m sure.

I just love seeing him happy. He doesn’t get a lot of new things, but I really try to get things he’s going to care about and use. I could go to the dollar store and get him new cups or a back pack… but I’d rather spend a little more to get him something that will make his heart explode with happiness and thankfulness. It’s such a beautiful vision for me. I just had to share, because I can’t stop smiling at him hugging his back pack.

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.

Family. Important.

I’ve mentioned my love of sign language before. I want to share something I really love from the language. The signs for “family” and “important” are very similar. The hand shape is the same, and the movement only a little bit different. Some would say it’s coincidence, but I feel like it says a lot. Family IS important.

To me, family is a choice. I have very few blood relatives that I consider “family” despite our connection. On the other side, I have many people in my life, that I would gladly call family. I’d say the definition of family is: Someone who cares for, doesn’t give up on, and supports you even when you make mistakes.

Corey and I loved living in Virginia. It was beautiful, cheap, and the atmosphere made us happier people in general. When I got pregnant, we made the choice to move back to Maine to be around my aunt. I wanted more than anything for Caleb to know his family, and know that he had these people he could rely on. I am a very blessed person. Even after everything I put my aunt through, she still cares for me so deeply, and I don’t know how I could ever repay her for that. We’d love to go back to Virginia, but we love her more.

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.

Autumnal Paper Chain: Home-school Pre-school Day Four

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Caleb had a very productive day of learning. We were supposed to focus on the letter A and number 1, but he knows those pretty well. We did a coloring page of the letter A, and talked about “one crayon at a time,” but then we moved on to something way more fun, because I kept looking out the window and seeing the beautiful colors of Maine in fall.

I took him outside to go learn about, and pick, leaves. We talked about how they start on trees, and then fall to the ground as it gets cold. Then I showed him all the colors they come in. I asked him to pick a bunch for our craft. I wanted to grab some of the incredibly beautiful and bright leaves… but I’m short. So we ended up with some cool gradient leaves instead. Orange and yellow, green and yellow, and red and yellow are what we ended up with.

Before we went I cut up a sheet of green, yellow, red, and orange construction paper, then when we got home I showed him the papers and how they matched the leaves we collected. Next it was time to talk about patterns and practice our color recognition while building a cool autumn leaves paper chain. I had him hand me ONE green, one yellow, one orange, one red, etc, etc, until all the papers were gone. He would hand them to me sometimes, and other times he would slide it through the last chain. We clothes pinned it up, and Caleb chose which chains would have leaves hanging from them. So much fun!

Even though this wasn’t originally on the curriculum, figuring it’s cow week not seasons week, I decided I couldn’t pass the chance up. We still got to talk about green (the color of the week), read a few books, and the fine and gross motor skills used to identify and say colors, as well as threading the paper through the previous chain, was a great practice, and covered what was planned. Oh, and while we were reading I pointed to a piece of broccoli. I asked Caleb what it was, because he loves broccoli and can say the word, but instead of identifying it he said, “Green.” I was really pleased. It was a fun day of learning for the both of us, and really nice to bring nature into our learning.