Archive for July, 2012

July 25, 2012

Spending Time With 3 – XP

One of the things I love most about having a bigger family is the way I get to nurture distinct relationships with each of my children.  The three of them are so alike in many ways – they are fun, happy, and always up for an adventure – but, they are definitely their own people and different in many wonderful ways as well. 

I get asked a lot about how I find the time to spend with them all.  How do I work, cook, clean, run errands and still divide my time to make sure they all get the attention children crave?  Well, it’s a constant work in progress, but here are some helpful tips and tricks I’ve picked up along the way…

  • Make the most of every minute.  Yeah, I know it can be kind of annoying to have a 2 year old “help cook” dinner, but those 10 or 15 minutes go a long way.  So every day, I try to give each child an opportunity to be my special helper for something.  It’s usually for the most mundane things (cooking dinner, running to the store, doing laundry, setting the table, putting out pjs and clothes for the next day, ect) but they LOVE it.  Not only do they get the joy of helping mommy (please tell me this excitement doesn’t wear off for at least another 5 years) but, it gives us a chance to have some coveted one-on-one.  They tell me about their day as I oversee them stirring the pasta or get some lap time while we sort the darks and whites. 
  •  Lunch dates.  I didn’t realize until about half way through the school year that my son’s school encourages parents to come in and eat lunch in the cafeteria with their child.  Maybe yours does too? Its only 20 minutes making it easy enough to sneak out of the office for a lunch date every once in a while, but it ends up being my son’s favorite 20 minutes of the entire week (mine too).  I love getting to check in mid-day on how his day is going and seeing him beam with pride at having his mom there is quite the ego boost! (keeping in mind that in a few short years he’ll be mortified by my presence at school, I’m basking in this as long as possible)
  • Yes Days.  Once or twice a year each of my children gets a day that is entirely dedicated to them.  We call it our ‘Yes Day’!  The rules are simple: requests must be relatively reasonable and respectful and I will do my best to say “yes!”  Can we drop the other kids off at daycare and head to the beach just us? Yes! Skip lunch in favor of ice cream? Yes! Check out the dinosaurs at the museum? Yes! Go to the bounce house and do the big slide again and again and again?? YES!!  Best.days.ever.
  • Don’t stress it.  As much effort as I put into making sure each of my children get their individual time, I think the most important thing is what I don’t do and that is worry, stress, or feel guilty.  I know it’s a natural worry for parents to wonder how they will divide their time or make sure each child is getting the attention they need, but its so important to let the guilt go.  I do not keep spreadsheets to ensure perfectly divided attention or feel the need to “make it up” to any of them for time given to another.  Instead, I remind them every day that a sibling is not something that takes anything away from their lives, but rather adds to it – the greatest gift they have ever gotten.  In exchange for sharing some of my time and attention, they get another person on this planet who thinks they hung the moon.  The truth is, they get more attention now than they ever did…from their adoring siblings – what’s better than that?!

What are some things you do to get a little one-on-one with your kids?

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July 19, 2012

Update

10 minutes after publishing that last post I hear a strange noise coming from the bathroom.  Yup, puke.  That explains his sensitive behavior. Now I’m super glad I was nice 🙂

July 18, 2012

Choices

Sprout was in a mood tonight.  Whining, complaining, and falling to pieces over the littlest thing.  It could have been triggered by the emotionally charged day we had yesterday (more on that later), or it could have just been an overtired whiny kid.

Whatever it was, it was annoying and by the end of the night, I.was.done.

So, when he threw a huge crying fit over not being able to reach his toothbrush, there were a lot of things I wanted to do. None of them particularly nice.

Instead, I gave him a hug. I made a conscious decision (yes, after all this time, it’s still a choice that I make) to pick him up and let his boogery tears wipe all over my cheek and I squeezed him tight as he cried. Forget about brushing teeth for one night and instead, lets just hug.  Right into bed with kisses and more squeezes then tucked in tight with a soft goodnight. 

Sometimes it isn’t about disciplining…sometimes its just about catching the pieces.  Once in a while, we all need to fall apart.

July 17, 2012

You Get the Kids You are Meant to Have – XP

So last week I shared with you part of the story of how my family came to be.  It’s a great story that I’m really proud to “own”.  But there is a big piece of that story that I haven’t yet shared with you.  The piece of the story that goes like this: It was so hard and I was so freaking scared.

 

And no, I’m not talking about the infertility or the reunification talks, the long waits or the emotional rollercoaster of unknowns.

 

I’m talking about the parenting. 

 

I’ve dreamt of being a mother since I was young.  I knew it was my life’s goal.  I worked with children from the youngest age I possibly could and studied child psychology with a specialty in behavior modification.  And yet, during that long, cold December when a 6 week old and a 3 year old were dropped at my doorstep, I quickly came to realize that I had no idea what I was doing.

 

The baby screamed all night long and the 3 year old screamed all day long.  I still have a visceral memory of flushed cheeks and ringing ears for days on end.  It seemed as though nothing I did would ever stop the tantrums.  How could I? This poor child has experienced more trauma and who-knows-what in his short life than I ever had. I was in way over my head and the fear – oh my God, the fear.  Can I handle this?  What did I get myself into?  Why did I ever think I could help children like him? Did I just make the biggest mistake of my life (and this child’s!)??  That winter came with some of the darkest emotions I have ever felt. 

 

But the days tumbled into months and have now become years.  I still won’t sit here and tell you that parenting is easy, but now I know.  I know I can do it.  I was meant to do it and there was no mistake made in this match.

 

You get the kids you are meant to have.

 

Sure, they may not come exactly as you expected them to.  Maybe you are the mother of a preemie, or a child with special needs.  Perhaps your baby had colic, or your preschooler is “determined”, “spirited”, or “willful”. Maybe you have found yourself single parenting when you never planned it to be that way.  Or maybe you’ve got a teenager (enough said, right?). 

 

Whatever it is, whenever your day comes, please know that it is okay to feel overwhelmed.  Its okay to feel scared and uncertain. I felt that way too.  But also know that there was no mistake in matching your child to you.  You were called to this job because you can do it and you can do it well.  Your children got the mom they were meant to have.

 

This parenting gig has been the most humbing experience of my life, but man, I’ve also never felt more proud.  What do you think? Can you relate?

 

 

July 16, 2012

Movie Fail – or not?

Some of you may know by now that I’m a big movie fanatic.  Silent films, chick flicks, movies with subtitles, horror and suspense…count me in for them all! Pre-kids A and I used to go to at least 1-2 movies a week and its by far the thing I miss the most from that life. 

Lately I’ve been noticing how grown-up Sprout and Rosebud are and got the brilliant idea to have a “big kids” outing and take them to the movies.  SO EXCITED.  I’ve been thinking of this for weeks and carefully researched movies (thank you commonsensemedia.org) to finally select: Brave. 

The day arrived and it was so stinking hot outside that I wanted nothing more than to slump down into those familiar theatre seats and enjoy a good movie with my kiddos. 

Things went really well…for the first 5 minutes…

I totally overestimated Rosebud’s attention span for screen time.  We don’t watch much TV at home so I should have seen this coming but she really couldn’t have cared less.  Which meant she wanted to talk about where sissy and mama were…or what she had for lunch yesterday…or what her BFF Sammy said on Friday…all VERY LOUDLY. 

I solved that problem by breaking out the snacks.  Okay, good. Now she’s sitting and quiet and finally the movie is starting (why the hell are the previews for children’s movies so long??).

We made it through about 20 minutes of the movie with Rosebud sort of being quiet and only changing seats 6 times.  And that’s when Sprout said, “I don’t like this movie.  All this fighting is making my brain do karate in my head.  Can we leave?”

And so we did. 

I wanted to be bummed, but how could I be? I’m so impressed with Sprout lately and can’t believe the transformation in him.  It used to really frighten me how was drawn to violence like a moth to a flame but now he immediately identifies it as a trigger and gets himself out of the situation. 

Wow, wow, wow.  It’s crazy to be standing here – on the other side looking back – and seeing what a different child I have now than I did.

July 12, 2012

A Day in the Life (XP)

This was my contribution to a blog series they are running over on CT Working Moms

6:30 – My wife’s alarm goes off.  Actually, it probably went off a while ago but I finally hear it after a few snoozes.  She heads off to the shower while I check my email. Odd, I don’t hear the girls yet.

6:40 – Wife races upstairs to remind me that I need to put a car seat back in the SUV so she can take our son to daycare.  I curse myself and my darn procrastination.  The SUV is filled to the brim with stuff from our big adoption party last weekend so the next 15 minutes is spent cleaning it out AND installing the car seat.  Far too much exertion for a pre-coffee Elise.

6:55 – Back in the house, time to give one of our dogs her eye drops.  Have I mentioned that along with our 3 adopted children we have 3 adopted dogs? 

My wife likes to joke that my next big project will be a documentary called ‘Addicted to Adoption’ but I totally googled that shit and there are plenty of people who have adopted way more than me. So there.

7:00 – I still don’t hear the girls – that’s craziness.  I take advantage by hopping in the shower.

7:15 – Wife and son are heading out.  Hugs and kisses and “Please stay close to your teacher at the farm today!”  He’s 6 and field trips still freak me out.

7:20 – I pushed my luck…girls are yelling. “Mama! Maaaaamaaaaaa!” and the ultimate, “I have to go poop!”  I grab their cups of milk and head upstairs.

Side note: I find their different crib styles so funny.  My middle daughter has no less than 4 stuffed animals, 2 blankets, a couple books, and who know what else in there at any given time.  Hoarders: Toddler Edition.  The youngest prefers her crib completely barren – no lovies, no blankets, no nothing.  Doesn’t bode well for her future spouse.

8:00 – After getting everyone dressed, fed, teeth brushed, shoes on, and the dogs out one more time, we are finally in the car.  Except, I forgot my keys – grab them, then back into the car.  FYI: ‘baby brain’ does not just apply to those who have birthed babies.

8:30 – We arrive at the dentist right on time for our appointment. Yes, I’m starting my day by taking two toddlers to the dentist solo.  Please note I still haven’t had any coffee.  This should go well.

9:30 – There was some fussing by the 1 year old, but overall it was a successful trip – no cavities! Back in the car and off to daycare.  This time, we are stopping for coffee.

10:00 – We arrive at daycare and the girls are in good spirits. Yay! Maybe this will be a quick drop off?

10:30 – Ummm, no.  I’m back in the car but barely made it out of there alive. It’s so much worse now that the baby is talking and I have to leave the building hearing her scream, “No mama bye bye!! Want mama!!”  Ugh.

11:00 – I finally arrive at work ::whew::  Check email, review insurance policies, talk with some lawyers.

12:30 – How is it 12:30 already?? I should grab lunch before my afternoon meeting. Going downstairs to the cafe reminds me that I really should be better about packing my lunch.  It just so happens that the vendor today is selling lunch totes. 

Cute, right?

As for lunch, it’s a salad again.  Because I’m trying to lose weight, you know, again.

4:30 – Quittin’ time!  Pack up my desk, grab my purse and I’m out.

5:00 – Arrive home minutes after my wife and kids.  The moment we all arrive home in the evening is c-h-a-o-s.  It feels like there are kids and dogs everywhere.  But, the happy squeals of “Mommy’s home!” and big hugs around the neck also make it my very favorite time of day. Aaaaahhh, I’m home 🙂

5:15 – After our hellos and unpacking bags I get the wife and big kids set up at the table with a craft project.  The kids are excited to make necklaces with a kit they got from cousin Dave! 

That gives me a chance to change my clothes and make dinner in peace. Well, relative peace with this little “helper”.

6:00 – Kids are done eating and I’ve barely gotten a forkful in between the requests for water, milk, more dinner, and toddler potty breaks.  ::sigh::  Why do I even bother making myself a plate?  The kids are chomping at the bit for the leftover cupcake I let them save from their adoption party so I pass those out. 

Against my better judgment I also give one to the baby.  Not that she actually consumed any of it.

6:05 – Clearly, its bath time.

7:00 – Kids are all washed up and I’ve managed to eat and check a few emails while supervising their splashing around.  Yes, I just admitted to eating my dinner in the bathroom.  I live a glamorous life people. Very glamorous.

7:05 – My son is set up at the dinner table with his summer workbook while I help my wife bring the girls upstairs for bed.  Milk, story, brush teeth, and she puts them to bed.  I head back downstairs and sit with my son while he does his work.

7:30 – Brush teeth, book, and some cuddles for my boy before I kiss him goodnight.

7:40 – Oh right, I forgot to feed the dogs.

7:50 – Put on my sneakers, kiss my wife and it’s off to the gym. Not really feeling it tonight, but I go anyway.

7:55 – I pull out of my driveway and follow a freaking ICE CREAM TRUCK all the way to the gym.  Whoever it was up above that arranged that one? To you I say: well played.

8:45 – The sky as I leave the gym is beautiful. It feels like extra validation because I totally rocked that C25K workout!

9:00 – I’m back home and its time to give the little dogs a bath.  Thankfully, they make it quick and easy.

9:15 – Finally time to join my wife on the couch.  We watch The Bachelorette on DVR while I fold laundry (because with 3 children the laundry is NEVER ENDING).

10:15 – We head upstairs to bed (yeah, we fast forwarded a lot – DVR is a gift from the gods to parents everywhere).  Fill up the cat’s water and food on the way (yeah, we also have a cat…).  I hop on the computer to check email/facebook/blog. 

11:00 – Shoot, I need to get to bed! You know, so I can get up tomorrow and do it all.over.again.

July 12, 2012

Exciting News!

I’ve been asked to join the writing team for a popular local blog.  Flattering, exciting, and even a little intimidating all in one! Go check out CT Working Moms – the ladies over there are great, and super funny.  Don’t believe me? Go read this post by my friend Steph and tell me you can’t relate at least a little.

But not to worry, this is still my true home and I’ll be cross-posting (you’ll know the posts by an XP in the subject) for your reading pleasure.

Stay tuned for my latest one! 

 

July 11, 2012

Wordless(ish) Wednesday

Spent months planning for it and years dreaming of it…we totally got our pony party 🙂

July 10, 2012

I love that kid

Remember last month when I fell and the kids were rock stars about it?

Well, yesterday we visited that playground again for a little pre-dinner fun.

 Before getting out of the car Sprout said, in a serious voice, “Mommy, if you are going down to the swings with my sisters, you don’t have to look for me and tell me.  I will just watch you and know.”

I was so struck by his thoughtfulness and sincerity.  Maybe there really is something about boys and their mamas 😉

July 7, 2012

Today there may have been a little of…

this

and this

 oh yeah, and there was definitely some of this…

best day ever.