Thursday, October 13, 2005

Oh, to be two again...

We didn't leave the house today, so Mitchell and I had some major quality time together. As we went through the course of the day, I got to thinking about what it must be like to be two years old. I think it is as two-sided to them as it is to us on our end as parents.

On the one hand, life is great. Toys everywhere you look, you get help cleaning up, someone keeps you warm, fed, clothed, comfortable, and loved. Your pleasures and leisure time FAAARRR outweighs the demands that are put on you. I think my favorite might be nap time. It sure would be nice to get out every book, cooking utensil, scrapbooking supply and movie I had an interest in today and know that someone would swoop in and help me clean up my mess. I would love it if someone was making sure that I had enough blankets on me at night and that my temperature was okay. If someone made all my meals and did all my dishes, well, heck...that would be heavenly. Having someone bathe me, sing me songs while they massaged lotion onto my skin, and dress me in clean pj's wouldn't be so bad. Pretty much being entertained by someone or something throughout my whole day wouldn't be such a bad thing.

On the other hand, you are living with control freaks. Someone decides when and where you're going, who you're going with, where you sit, what you wear (most of the time), what you eat and drink, when you get changed/use the potty, and which activities you can and cannot do at any given time. Oh sure, you eventually get involved and are offered choices, but I'm not sure I'd enjoy having someone tell me what to do, how to do it, and hearing "no", "not now", "not yet", "not a good choice", "put that down", "please stop", etc. all day like he does. I know it's all part of life and that we're helping him make good choices and setting limits and boundaries for him, I just bet I'd get sick of it after a while. (I know, I know...we also praise him too, but I just was thinking about how it must feel to him. Obviously, that's a futile effort because they process things so much differently.)

I was really thinking about this during a couple of time-outs that we had today when all the poor little guy did was imitate me. I mean, how fair is that, he does and/or says what I say and he gets punished? Yikes. Let me explain...he woke up from his nap clearly too early, as he was still grumpy and groggy. My solution (since he had zero interest in remaining in his bed) was to have him lie on a pillow on the floor in the living room while I folded laundry. He had a blanket, had his cup of milk, all was good. He got this bright idea after I moved his Thomas book that he wanted to watch Thomas. Well, it wasn't "tv time" yet, so I said "No, not yet. Lay down and rest some more." Well, I've worked hard not to have words come out of my mouth that I don't want shot back at me, so one of the strategies I've employed is to say "shush" or "shhhhh" to him. Well, he "shushed" me very loudly and with his finger pointed. It was REALLY snotty, so I told him that wasn't nice, please don't do it again. He shushes me again. I told him that he was not being kind and the next time he said "shush" he'd be in time out. So, he did it again and there I was...the time out warden.

Mitchell does not like to stay in time out and that really frustrates me. So, my new strategy is the stairs. I can keep an eye on him, the clock, and keep my distance but be close enough. He has three stairs he can sit on...that way he has some control about where exactly he sits, so I'm trying to give him some room. Well, he kept insisting on sitting on the floor. Ugh. He is a screaming, crying, kicking, snot dripping mess at this point, but I feel like it's really important consistency-wise to see this through. So, in order for him to do his 2 minute time out, it ends up being close to a half hour of him sliding to the floor and me putting him back. Slide. Back up. Slide. Back up. I was working VERY hard to not lose my temper (which from the 15 minute or so mark on was pretty challenging) and the majority of the time I said nothing. Just re-positioned him on the stairs and walked away. (My back hurts now, by the way, in case you're wondering.) Occasionally I'd say, "Mommy can't start counting your 2 minutes until you stay in time out." When he did sit there, I'd praise him with "Good choice, buddy." Needless to say, he eventually made it out. He knew what he did and apologized for "shushing" and I explained that it was his loud voice and his finger pointing that made it not very nice. I told him that I know mommy does that too, and I'm sorry if it ever seems mean to him. We hugged, love you's, etc. and that was the end of rest time.

It just made me think though, how frustrated I would be if my "boss" acted like that. I mean, if I imitated what he said/did at staff meetings and was then put on probation or sent home for it, wouldn't that really make me mad? It's times like these when I just *hope* I'm doing the right thing. I just want him to be a good person who takes responsibility for his actions. Maybe I say "shush" or "shhh" louder than I think I do, or point at him...time to take inventory of that one! Here I was thinking I was doing all of us this big favor by not saying "be quiet" all the time...he might as well have told me to shut up with his body language and tone of voice today! Ugh. So NOT what I was hoping to accomplish. That happens a lot as parents, I think.

He really is a good boy and I think part of his hysterical tantrums during time out is just not knowing how to express his frustration. (That, and he is genetically at a disadvantage as the son of two parents who also know how to be cranky.) I try to give him the words, but how often is that successful for adults? I mean, often can someone say "Tara, I know you're feeling frustrated right now, but you need to use your words." Wouldn't that just make you more mad?? When you're two, I imagine it's much more fulfilling to scream and stomp your feet and throw toys and hit and kick, because Lord knows that I still feel like doing that myself some days. (I'm a recovering door slammer, by the way.) Besides, no one makes me go to time out and sit somewhere to calm down...the difference is that I do it myself. (Remove myself from the situation or whatever.)

Today after the second timeout, we talked about making sure we help Georgia figure out how to be a good girl. We talked about whether or not he wanted her to learn how to hit, kick, yell, bite, etc. (Thankfully he said no to those.) Then we talked about good things we could teach her...using her words, hugs, kisses, clapping, singing, dancing, eating, etc. He seemed happy after that conversation. It amazes me that he really does love her very much already, and I don't think he even totally gets it yet.

I hope I'm not asking too much of him, but I feel like consistency is a huge part of helping Mitchell understand how to be successful in the world around him, and not just when it's going his way and catering to his every whim and fancy. I think he's getting it...but he definitely pushes the envelope to make sure. (We repeated the time out about two hours later for the same thing.) I hope he knows how much we love him, even when he's being a little stinker and that us loving him so much is the whole reason we're putting limits on him. I think he knows and it does my heart good to hear the GOOD stuff come back out at me, too. The "I love you", "Bless you", "I'll help you", "Sweet dreams", etc. I could actually write just as much, if not more on the good stuff...I was just motivated to think about the bad stuff today. If he ever has any doubts about us loving him, I guarantee we'll only be too happy to remind him as often as possible. :)

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Actually becoming a morning person...

So, in the past, the hardest thing for me to do was get up at 5:00 am to get to work on time. Now, I'm up by 5:30 on my own and I'm really actually enjoying it, if you can believe that. I get to check email, blog (if I want to!), enjoy a cup of good ol' decaf, watch some of the news, jump in the shower, listen to my fave morning show on the radio...I love it!! Mitchell usually isn't up until around 7, so it's great "me" time. I know I'll lose it once Miss Georgia gets here, but for now, it's great.

I had to turn the heat on this morning because there was a chill in the air!! Hooray!! I love fall and the cooler weather. Don't get me wrong...I love summer and the warm air too, but enough already. It's's not supposed to be 88 degrees in October like it was this weekend!! I don't want it to be just freezing yet, but getting out the jeans and sweaters sounds good to me! I think I'll make something in the crockpot for dinner...maybe some chili with steak in it? Yeah... I think so!

To get a bit off topic, Mitchell has a major obsession. Trains. Thomas the Tank Engine to be more specific. The only good thing for us is that he makes ANY train into Thomas with that good imagination of his, so at least it hasn't cost us a lot of money...YET. That's what we're doing for his birthday party, which--by the way, he asks us about EVERY single day. (Is it time for my birthday party yet?) I love that kid. He wakes up from his nap..."So, Mommy. First we change my diaper then I watch Thomas. Okay?" His voice goes way up like he's actually asking and not demanding. Funny how the tide turns and brings about sudden bursts of tears when I say "No, we're not watching tv." Sigh. He's pretty easily distracted with humor and if all else fails, we go on a hunt for Thomas and his friends in the living room. That's always big fun.

He's going to be Bob the Builder for halloween. He's very excited about it and also fluctuates between being Thomas and Bob when he grows up. The Thomas love is starting to drive Chris a little bit nuts, but I was talking to his mom the other day and he was the EXACT same way at this age with airplanes. (Yeah, that might be why we have a copy of "Air Combat" in every bathroom in the house.) I think it's just funny how trains seem to consume about 90 percent of Mitchell's brain from day to day. He pretends he's a train when he's walking (he's started to shuffle and chug now, so it's even becoming more refined), he whistles like Thomas while he's eating, his trains have to sit on the window sill to watch him eat all of his meals, they go in the car and wait for him while he's in school, etc., etc. I do love it though because it brings him such enormous joy and really does bring out some creativity in him while he's playing. We don't even have a train track or anything...I've kept holding off because he's fine without it and I thought tha coming downstairs to one that Santa setup with an actual Thomas character or two on it might be a magical moment. I can't wait for that!!

Makes me wonder what Georgia will be obsessed with? Hmmmm.... :)

Monday, October 03, 2005

Rush, Rush, Rush...

Why is it that now that I'm NOT working full time, I'm more busy than I was then? I feel like all Mitchell and I do is rush here, rush there, do this, do that. Sometimes we hardly have time to breathe, I swear! I have always had people tell me that I'm one of the busiest people that they know, and that it seems like I'm always on the go...I think I'm starting to believe them.

I think that there are two things contributing to my newfound awareness of my go-go-go lifestyle: I'm getting older and I'm feeling the impact of this pregnancy on my stamina. Now, I'm not saying I'm an old codger or something...but let me tell ya, there is a HUGE difference in energy between 22 and 32 and it's not on the positive side of the ledger. Man, if I had half the energy I did when I was 22 now, life would be great. Then pile on being pregnant...I'm huge. Well, not as huge as I'll be 5 months from now, but huge nonetheless. Yes, it's a good cause. Yes, I'm supposed to get all large and round. Yes, there's a person growing in there, but I am a big ol' momma. Pile on the extra weight and it takes extra work to haul it around with me all day.

Oh, and I forgot about the issue of my knee injury. It's been a year now (the week of Halloween last year) since I tore my patellar tendon. Part of me wishes I'd just had surgery...the other part of me wishes that I'd kept up more religiously with my rehab. Again, energy is the key here folks. I just don't have as much as I often need. I think I just need to bite the bullet and get myself to the gym. I just don't want to put Mitchell in the daycare. We already have him in school two days/week and the gym daycare costs $20 extra every month. Seems silly to me. I think I'll just do what we did it out with Chris for him to be home by 7:30 three nights a week and go then and he can handle the bedtime routine with Mitchell. Then if I can make it on Saturday mornings, too...great.

I think I am my own worst enemy when it comes to rushing around. I have so many people I want to see, things I want to do, places we need/want to go...and I try to cram them all in. Sometimes I make it happen, but there's definitely a cost. Like no nap for Mitchell, or the laundry doesn't get done. Or the dishes wait until the morning. All of that stuff is fine, I know, but when "stuff" piles up, so does my stress, and as I've already mentioned, my energy level does not.

I think in general it's a losing battle and one that I'll be waging until my dying day, but I need to get better at two things to help myself out: saying no and time management for myself. I have a tendency to say "Sure" in response to everything and I need to stop that. I'm getting better and I've started with family since I know they'll still love me no matter what. :) I just hate to disappoint people, but I really need to at least say "Let me get back to you on that", take some time to breathe and prioritize and then give an honest reply including the words "I can't fit it in" if that's the truth. Chris is so good at that, maybe I should take a page out of his notebook. It's little things like answering the phone...for whatever reason, it bothers me to not answer the phone when I hear it ringing. It seriously drives me I have a tendency to pick it up no matter what is going on. (Except diaper changes or if I'm in the bathroom or something.) If Chris is involved in something, he either says "Let it go" or "I'm not here". Why can't I do that?

I also just need to make sure that I schedule my OWN stuff first each month and then plug everything else in around it. I think that would probably be pretty helpful. Like the gym...I think it's pretty much a joke to say I don't have time to work out when I have time to be on the internet, checking email, typing this blog, etc. I just have to buckle down, decide what's important and get it done. I'm thinking that time will just become more precious once the baby gets here...can't imagine she'll inject any more free time into the picture. :)

Sigh. Life. It just keeps coming at you. I need to count my blessings and not take everything for granted or so seriously. I think I just get tired (hmmm...a theme?) and let stuff roll. We'll see what happens. Hope I'm not all talk!!