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

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.

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.

Happy New Year!

New Years is known as a time to make resolutions, but I think other than the obvious (get healthy, do better, be a better parent, make money) things, New Year’s Day is a time for looking back on life. The one thing I’m sure of today, is I have no regrets.

For those of you following my life, you know there has been a whole lot wrong with it. Things that you’d probably change if you had the chance. Today I want to paint a picture of how my life would be today if I could change everything.

In sixth grade my parents started doing drugs, and my grades started slipping. I became the adult, and they were still my parents, but weren’t taking care of me the way I’d desire. Instead, lets imagine that they never needed the medication that got them hooked in the first place. Imagine I had asked them not to take it, and they didn’t. They went to physical therapy, acupuncture, and smoked pot to make themselves well.

Now if that happened, they wouldn’t have died. I would have lived a normal childhood, kept my perfect grades up, and gone to Gordon college (which I had a full scholarship to in real life, and chose not to  go to). That sounds great and all, but I would never have met Corey. He was a senior, a few days away from graduating, when I moved in with my aunt and uncle and changed schools. I met him by chance on my first day at the new school.

So, if I never met Corey, I wouldn’t have run away with him to Virginia, I wouldn’t have Caleb, and I probably wouldn’t be on the same educational path. Before we met I was planning to be a youth pastor, hence going to the Christian college, Gordon. I made that choice to run away, and I can’t regret that either. I don’t know how I would be without making it. I was so miserable, and it was my release.

Today, I’m so happy. I have a beautiful family, know that within the next three years (once I finish school) I’ll be married, and I’m happy with what I’ve gotten to give back to my community. It hasn’t been easy. It hasn’t been perfect in the typical sense, but it’s been perfect for me.

Every little tragedy, every problem, every stumble, every sacrifice… has led to today. It has led to love. It has led to following my true passion. It has led to true, honest happiness. I have grown, I have been shown my destiny… and for that? I don’t regret anything.

Happy Sicky Nursling

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Reason eighty-bajillion I’m so glad I haven’t completely weaned:
Caleb has a bit of a cold, and he’s okay, but he’s not super hungry right now. For the last few months he’s only been nursing a few minutes a day, if that. During this cold though, he’s just wanted to nurse a lot. It help’s him sleep, makes his throat feel better, gives him antibodies to help him heal… Liquid gold my friends. He’s napping right now after a twenty minute nursing session, and I’m so grateful at this time he really needs it, he has that comfort available to him.

He started getting this cold on Christmas Eve, and was up a good chunk of the night coughing, but giving him a sip of boob juice helped soothe his throat and go back to sleep. When I mentioned it to someone the next day, they couldn’t believe I was still nursing. That’s okay. It happens. A lot of people aren’t educated about nursing. The comment went something like, “He’s eating steak! He shouldn’t be doing that… should he?”

Breast milk NEVER loses it’s value. It’s not as though it’s the only thing that Caleb eats, but it’s the thing he drinks with the most nutrition, and that’s amazing. Your immune system still needs a lot of help even as a toddler and preschooler. Breast milk helps with that. Your teeth and hair is starting to really grow in, and your eyes are getting stronger. Breast milk helps with that. It’s liquid gold at it’s finest, and a completely natural thing.

Around the world, the average weaning age is closer to five. I imagine that we’ll be stopping within the next year. He nurses very rarely now; however, today it’s a real blessing for us both.

The Best Human Being I Know

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This incredible human being is someone we lovingly call Mimi. Her name is Misti, and she was born on February 6th, 1967. Her younger sister, Robyn, was my mother. Now, Mimi is the woman I consider my mother, and my child’s grandmother. I am one of at least 21 people who feel this way, despite not being grown in her womb.

As a child, I spent an incredible amount of time at her house. A good chunk of age three and four, and every weekend or school holiday through sixth grade I was guaranteed to be at her house. She had these super powers to know whenever I was about to get in trouble for something from my parents, she would just appear and grab me up. I’ve heard stories of when I was a baby, my mum put my diaper on way to tight once, and my legs were losing circulation. She appeared and remedied the situation immediately.

This amazing woman was not only my savior, but a savior to many other children. Her and my uncle made a choice early on in their marriage that they wanted children. Not being able to conceive originally led them to look into fostering. When they went in to start, they were told to look around their neighborhood, and that’s just what they did. This woman ended up taking in children, with a variety of ages and special needs, at least twenty one times. She never received any help from the state, but gave them, and me, the most amazing childhoods. There was one kid that they took in who had many problems… He was still wetting the bed, and on many medications when he first came to them. By the time he left, they had gotten him off all of those medications and helped him grow into a strong, hardworking man.

She took me camping, taught me to cook, showed me how to shave my legs, and what a body positive attitude looked like. She showed me that growing your own food is magical, how relationships are supposed to feel, and that you should never be ashamed for how your brain and body work. She taught me how to love, forgive, and move on. Never once did she ask for anything in return. Her entire life has been about giving.

When my moms died, six and a half years ago, there was no question. I went straight home with her that night. Not only had she just lost her sister, but she now had to deal with a teenager who lost her parents, and wasn’t overly willing to gain a new one. She was so ready to be my parent, and give me the world, but I was not ready to let someone be my parent. I had spent so much time being an adult that reverting back to a child was hard for both of us. I did things I wasn’t proud of, but she never stopped loving me and fighting for me. When others told her to give up, or spoke harshly about me, she stood her ground and defended me.

She has been through more hardship than the average person, and dealt with a lot of selfish ungratefulness. She now has a biological daughter, and still gives her love to others. Her home is open to those in need, and she’s the first to offer help when people are in trouble. She finds herself hurt on a regular bases, but continues to have a shining heart.

My Mimi is the most amazing person in the world. The picture I chose is one she might not like, but I truly love it. Her smile, watching my son and her daughter open their Christmas presents, is so genuine. It’s a reflection of who she truly is. It shows her inner beauty, as well as outer. I love her, and just want her to know how grateful I am to have her as my mom.

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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Two Quick and Easy Fall Crafts

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Every other Friday Corey and I go to a parenting/parents financial/life skills class, and afterwards Caleb joins us for a play group. Today we read Brown Bear as a group, and then did a few activities the instructor had set out for us. My favorite, and one that Corey and Caleb spent a lot of time on, was painting with cinnamon! It was just a little water mixed with cinnamon. It looked really cool. The water turned the paper a light brown, and the cinnamon gave the bear’s fur some really great texture. The best part was how great it smelt. I have a ton of pumpkin spice in my pantry that I’ll be doing this with on a fairly regular bases.

The other activity only took a few minutes, but made Caleb very happy. I was working on his curriculum tonight, and that involved a ton of cutting and gluing. While I was working, he asked to help, but I had to say no. As soon as I was finished, however, I threw this second craft together. I ripped a piece of purple paper in half, cut out two pumpkins, two stems, then let Caleb make a few cute in the orange paper left over. While he was cutting, I glued my pumpkin down (the one on the left), and then asked him to do the same. He put glue onto the pumpkin and laid it in the corner. I smoothed it out, and then he glued down the stem. I grabbed us a couple of green markers, and he drew some scribble “vines” on his while I worked on my pumpkin’s vines.

Using a paint brush, gluing things down, placing the stem… these are all great motor skill practice. The more things you do, especially with little pieces, the better your kiddo will get at it all. I wouldn’t have thought to let him cut something a few months ago. Now, after watching how careful he is with everything else, I can totally trust him to be capable. I love watching this little man growing before my eyes.