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!

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

 

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

Weaning Remorse for the Both of Us

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About four months ago, this sweet boy suddenly decided to wean. I didn’t really know how to feel about it, but I also dried up quickly without pain. I was sad, for rather selfish reasons. I had always expected to nurse much longer, and felt like somehow I had failed him by allowing him to wean. Yes, I know it makes no sense. I don’t know how to deal with it really though, and can’t help those feelings. Moving on…

For two months, he didn’t want to nurse at all. Snuggles would totally suffice when he needed some extra love or comfort, and he was able to go right to sleep at night without nursing and stay asleep. There seemed to be no problem; no real affect on either of us. Until of course there was.

All of a sudden, two months ago, he’d go for sips. He’d just want to love the boobie. Kiss it, squeeze it, or use it as a pillow were some of his lovey ways. Then he started really trying to nurse, and his poor heart would break every time. He was very frustrated that there was no more milk, and would still try. This would hurt my boobs, but he’d be hysterical if I didn’t at least let him try. I instantly regretted not doing more to keep my milk. I could have pumped and given it to him in a cup! I could have pumped and donated it until he wanted it. I didn’t do either, and gosh I’m full of regret now.

Our solution, that he decided on and that I’m not overly pleased by, is to use a bottle once a day to have his cup of milk before nap time. The nipple of the bottle soothes him, and he will snuggle with us drinking him “milkies” until he falls asleep.

It’s really not the same though. I miss our connection through nursing. In the past I could scoop up my crying little love, give him the gift only I could, and he’d be soothed. Now when he’s upset it takes so much more, which is okay, but I feel like I let him down. I know, I know, I’m doing what I can… but…

Thanks for listening to me internet. Sometimes I just have to let my mommy fails/regrets/sadness out.

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!

Love Shouldn’t Have to be Won

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In 2009 my mothers passed away. On June 26, 2015 gay marriage was legalized, forever too late. From the time I was four, when my biological mother and father got a divorce and my mum started dating another woman, I knew three things: some people hated lesbians, my moms couldn’t get married, and this woman was my other mother.

Somehow, I never questioned their love, or how my mother could love another woman. Even at four years of age, I grasped that love was love. The important thing was that I had a parent who cared for me, taught me things my biological parents couldn’t, and accepted me as her own. I remember once, when I was in Kindergarten, that an older girl on the playground once told me my parents were disgusting because they were lesbians. I went home and asked my moms what she had meant. I didn’t understand how two people in love, who loved me, could ever be disgusting or wrong.

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For a heterosexual couple in 1999, dating and getting married was just what happened. No one questioned it, and no one thought of it as wrong. That marriage allotted them privileges that weren’t available to homosexual couples. Unlike a stepfather, my other mother couldn’t adopt me. She had no legal right to me. My mothers couldn’t get married and my biological mum couldn’t take my other mom’s last name, nor could I. My mum had many health problems and Ramona, my other mother, didn’t have the ability to walk in and say, “I’m her spouse, I have a right to see her, and I can make the decisions for her care.” No heterosexual couple goes through these problems. These basic rights -things that should be based on true love instead of religion and politics- were kept from my mothers, and the results were devastating for our family.

At the time, Vermont had already legalized gay marriage. Both of my moms loved visiting Vermont, often doing so while I was at visitations with my father, and desired to move there. Legally, because of me, they weren’t able to. My father had partial custody of me, and the law said I couldn’t be moved that far away. Despite how much my other mother loved me, not being able to move and live her life happily caused resentment for me to grow inside of her. I found this out slowly, but surely.

I’ve been asked how I can still love, forgive, and think so highly of them despite knowing how they resented me. I never felt the need to ask myself this question, but now that I’ve found love I have an answer. The first few years that I was dating my fiance we were unable to see each other regularly. We were kids, but our love was and seven years later still is strong.The fact that I had to get up each morning knowing that I wouldn’t be able to see him, touch him, or publicly show my deep love for him hurt, yet I knew that one day I would be able to marry, move in with, and create a child with him without any law or prejudice stopping me. If that pain didn’t have the light to keep us going, and if everyone around me had no problem receiving those things while I didn’t, I don’t know what I would have done, but I do know that I’d be miserable and no where near as kind to the people around me. My mothers felt that pain constantly for ten years. For seven of those years, I had no idea.

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With all the issues they faced, both of my moms became very depressed. Our family physician at the time prescribed them both high doses of antidepressants. Unfortunately, these drugs didn’t mix well with the medication each of them were on; my other mother was on medication for epilepsy and my mum was on pain and anti-anxiety medications. The toxic mix of high potency drugs led to a dependency when I was in the sixth grade and only eleven years old. As they became more addicted, with me around during their stupors, I learned of their inner pain and resentment towards me. It was a rough time for all of us. My other mother’s parents were very homophobic and had made her feel crazy as a youth, going so far as to institutionalize her during her senior year of high school in an attempt to “make her straight.” With that, the inability to marry her true love, and the hatred our society showered her with led to an overdose and the end of her life.  Two months and two days later my mum, in a rehabilitation center, also passed. Our family truly believes that once her love died she just gave up to move on to the afterlife with her. How did we get to the point where dying is preferable to living?

We have made progress. Through rallies, education, celebrities using their privilege to speak out, and by electing a supportive president we have gotten this country on the right track. We aren’t, however, finished. Forty percent of homeless youth are part of the LGBT community. Thirty-three percent of LGBT students attempt suicide. These numbers are so high, and that’s because we are not yet part of a society that wholeheartedly accepts who people love. The day after gay marriage was legalized, my other mother’s mom posted on her facebook wall a message protesting it. Even after her own daughter died because of that hate, she still posted such an ignorant and disrespectful thing. There is more we need to do to turn this world into a place where love is understood. You can tell me that we’ll never get there, that people are entitled to their religious beliefs, and that hate will always exist. I disagree. No one is entitled to hate, or bully, another human being because of what they may or may not believe.

So, as happy and grateful as I am for gay marriage now being legal nationwide, and the shift society has taken towards less hate and more acceptance, I am angry. I’m angry that because of prejudice, because someone at some point decided they could tell us all what love was, and that love between the same sex was wrong, my parents had to leave me so soon. I’m angry that they didn’t have the chance to give me the love they wanted to, because in the back of their mind there was always that resentment. I’m angry that my son won’t be able to meet his grandmothers. I’m angry they never saw me graduate, won’t be able to dance with me at my wedding, and I’ll never be able to go to theirs. I’m angry that if only love had won sooner, or rightfully didn’t need to be won in the first place, my mothers would be here today, legally married, with the rights of every heterosexual couple, and finally happy. Love shouldn’t have to be won.

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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?”

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“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…

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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.

Free Clothes!!

I can not contain my excitement over this! My friend shared it with me, and now I’m sharing it with all of you. I got seven incredibly nice things for Caleb, as well as n not pictured dress for me, for 55 CENTS. Now, you can do the same for your family!

This company, Schoola, aims to be the new Goodwill. 40% of all sales go directly to schools, and the prices are so low for name brand stuff, that it’s really hard to resist. To start, you can get $40 worth of stuff (that’s off of their prices, it’s really closer to $100 worth of stuff) free.

Here’s The Link! Enjoy Schoola!!

1. All you need to do is sign up, you’ll get $10.00 towards your order, which you’ll automatically get once you check out!
2. After joining you can make a new collection under the collection tab, and as long as you add clothes without the yellow tab you’re good!
3. You’ll need to spend so much in order to get free shipping, but if you check your email you’ll also get an extra 25% off, and clicking my link will get you and me an extra $20!
(plus shipping is free right now 1/26/16)
4. After placing your first order, you’ll be directed to your OWN page with your OWN LINK, so you as well can share this opportunity to receive $20 in credit!
5. Enjoy your new clothes!!

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