Learning from my children

People always say having kids teaches you a lot about yourself and gives you a different perspective on life. I recently read an article about how mom’s shouldn’t be afraid to talk about kids in the workplace. How they should add parenting to their resumes. That makes sense to me. I am a big believer that having kids has taught me how to handle unpleasant situations and at times even handle employee situations better than I would have six years ago. I look at a tantrum at home and laugh to myself because my 5-year-old is facing the worst situation of his day, while I just dealt with some real stuff at work. While my brain doesn’t want to listen to a tantrum at home after a long day, it puts things into perspective. I see how important it is for me to help him learn how to deal with his problems. I see people throw tantrums in the workplace. Like, a tantrum that rivals my small child but includes lots of swearing while my child only screamed and stomped his feet. Most of the time this happens with someone who doesn’t have children. They only have themselves to take care of. They don’t see the bigger picture in life. They still get to be selfish and act like a small child who isn’t getting what they want.

My kids aren’t just showing me commonalities between the workplace and home, they are also teaching me about myself. It’s not easy for me to open myself up and show my weaknesses. Somewhere along my lifetime I got the mindset that I need to handle whatever is thrown my way. I don’t need to ask for help, I just need to get it done. I don’t feel like I’m stubborn. I don’t know that it makes a difference why I’m stubborn. But I don’t realize I do it. I’ve taken on a lot of stress in my work life and the outsider perspective is that it’s because of my stubbornness. I can kind of see it, but I still struggle with it. How is doing my job because it’s what is asked of me being stubborn? Shouldn’t that just make me a good worker? Is it because I sacrifice myself to do the job? Meaning, I’ll take the world on my shoulders and not burden anyone else.

Trying to discipline my 3-year-old has taught me a lot about myself. And it’s not all things that I wanted to learn. I have a short fuse when it comes to not listening. I’m trying to figure out how to deal with that because I spend a good portion of my day asking why no one in this house will listen to me. Seriously? Why can’t anyone do what I say?! Example…the other night I watched the boys walk towards the stairs and Quinten had a glass full of water. I knew what was about to happen. I yelled from across the kitchen, “DO NOT DUMP THAT GLASS OF WATER DOWN THE STAIRS!” At this point, I can’t remember if he even looked at me. It doesn’t matter. He looks at me all the time and does exactly what I told him not to do. He dumped a glass of water down the stairs. Who does that?! Obviously the next thing he did was go down the stairs like a slip ‘n slide. OBVIOUSLY. He was at the bottom of the stairs by the time I made it across the kitchen. {Ask Amanda, she was just as stunned. Welcome to my life.} Then I had to make the choice of putting him in timeout and cleaning up the mess myself or sacrificing an entire roll of paper towels so they could clean it up themselves. I picked the roll of paper towels and went back to my glass of wine. {That’s probably when I gave myself a refill.}

Twenty minutes later Maximus came running into the kitchen yelling about the huge mess that was in the bathroom. A sink full of toilet paper, water on full force, bubbles everywhere, and water all over the place. Why can’t I enjoy a couple of glasses of wine with my friend?!  After I cleaned that mess up and put them to bed, she asked how I wasn’t drinking bottles of wine every night. I don’t know. I really don’t know. More girl nights will help me survive these two!

It is so frustrating to discipline a child who gets worked up even more when you get mad. I don’t know how to not get mad that he’s not listening to me and be calm when I tell him he’s not acting very nice. This is when I realize that we are a lot alike. Both of us extremely angry and both wanting to be the alpha. So I take the wins as they come, sometimes it’s winning a day and other times it’s one disagreement out of many. 

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Learning from my children

Saying goodbye to naptimes

Life is always changing, especially with small children in the house. I still remember the realization {and sadness} that one of my children was dropping his nap. It was a rough transition for me. That was MY time and then he was invading it, loudly. In an effort to make sure the little one slept, we let Maximus stay in the living room. {One too many ruined naps because he couldn’t be quiet.} 

MY time used to be anything I wanted it to be…naps, catching up on shows, eating junk food…ok those were about the only things I used to do. But it was glorious! Now that time looks a lot different. We recently implemented iPad WITH HEADPHONES. It’s a lifesaver for me. Maximus can watch Axel and Family Fun as much as he wants and I can have quiet time. It’s a big improvement over annoying cartoons. 

By the time naptime comes around I am ready for a break. My heels usually hurt from spending the morning going and standing in my kitchen. {I know, poor weak office worker. It’s really a thing.}  

BRB. Quinten just woke up. A two-hour nap is pretty amazing lately. He is a SIGHT. Blonde hair going EVERY direction. And now the iPad volume is back. But I didn’t even have to remind him to let his brother watch, which is a miracle in itself. We’re struggling with sharing and including our brother in things. Huh. Peppa Pig Santa. Ok then. 

While we seem to have figured out Maximus’ naptime, I haven’t quite figured it out for me. I could clean, workout, do laundry, read, write, or go grocery shopping. I’m not good at getting up early on weekends so I almost always need to get my workout in. Almost everything feels like a job or responsibility and when naptime comes around I just don’t wanna. Grocery shopping is the least ideal one because then I get zero rest all day. {Whoops, sounding like I can’t function without resting.} And cleaning sounds like the most adulting thing to do. Honestly, I usually am already doing laundry. I sit down on the couch to let it finish, the couch swallows me up, and I listen in annoyance as the dryer continuously fluffs as if it’s taunting me to get the clothes before they wrinkle. 

I make a lot of poor choices during naptime, but sometimes I have enough energy left to do a Body Pump workout. Mostly, I social media for an hour or so. {It’s 2016, it’s a verb now.} When I decide to close my eyes, an alarm must sound in Quinten’s room because he comes stumbling out shortly after. And then I’m annoyed again and feeling all sorts of helpless and poor me-like. 

What are you doing during quiet or nap time? 

While on Christmas break, naptimes have been between 1-3 hours. Once we get back into a routine, I expect him to drop down to an hour. It’s like these kids like to constantly make me adjust and change with them! Why can’t they realize that naps are awesome and that we should all do them for 2-4 hours every day?! So now I really need to use my time wisely. I think I’ll focus on writing and reading. Things I can do while being lazy and drinking lattes on the couch. I think that will be my creative focus for 2016. More reading and writing. Less adulting? Just kidding, more efficient adulting so I can enjoy my quiet time without being a lazy couch monster. 

  

Saying goodbye to naptimes

22 steps to a successful grocery store trip with a three-year-old

It’s really simple to spend an hour and half at the grocery store and only leave with 28 items. It can be accomplished in 22 easy steps.

Step 1: Document the experience for Snappers around the world with a caption, “Lord help me at the grocery store with this guy.”

  
Step 2: Opt for the obnoxious cart to buy yourself a little more time. Convincing the toddler that the red fire truck is WAY better than pushing his own cart. {Lifesaving tip right here, folks.}

Step 3: Get yourself a soy latte, you’ll need something to comfort you. This is a bit of a risk because you’ll spend the precious calm minutes ordering and waiting on your drink. But the crazy is inevitable and I always feel better when I can grab a drink, think, and then respond to the madness.

  
Step 4: Let the toddler help fill the produce bags and count when you put them in. This is a risky move because of the potential for said toddler to ruin your food. In this outing, he may have “softly” banged the apples on the bottom of the cart. I think I got him stopped before he did any damage. We’ll know later when we want to eat them…

Step 5: Stand around and watch the water spray the produce. Three or four times. This was a major time suck, but I was nervous about pulling him away too soon for fear of loud screaming. This is where Step 3 comes in handy. Text your husband, take pictures, and enjoy your latte.

  
Step 6: Bribe him with a free cookie to get moving.

Step 7: Stop to see “The Robs” on the way to the free cookie. Also known as the lobster display. Here’s another opportunity to text your husband and enjoy your latte. Almost making it an enjoyable experience.

Step 8: Bribe him with a free cookie to get moving and stop to look at all the birthday cakes along the way. Then ask him five times if he’s sure he doesn’t want a cookie. I’m still in disbelief that he passed up a cookie, but I was well prepared to have to go back across the entire store when he wanted one later. {It didn’t happen.}

Step 9: Let him move from sitting behind the wheel to sitting in the top tray of the cart. Whatever. After making sure that the weight could hold him, I gave him strict instructions to sit down and not stand up. And then I had to stop the cart every aisle while he pulled groceries from the bottom cart to play with. At this point I should tell you that I had been strategically putting all the groceries in the bottom cart, as far away from him as possible. That could have enticed him to move out of the seat in the first place.

Step 10: Threaten to put him in time-out when we get home if he doesn’t stop ruining the groceries. Tell him he cannot stand up and if he does either of those again he will sit where he’s supposed to. {Also where I’ve been putting the meat and boxes because he’s sitting in my second storage location.}

Step 11: Tell him we need to hurry and finish shopping so we can see daddy and Maximus. {Also how I got him out of the house. “Let’s go so we can be home when they get home!”}

Step 12: Threaten to tell daddy he wasn’t being nice when we were shopping. Of course do the threatening after picking up his coat off the floor, grabbing the aluminum foil from a different aisle, and pulling the ziplock bags out from under his smashing body.

Step 13: Try to distract him with a flying bird in the store. Not the best move because he missed it.

Step 14: Help him get back into the sitting part of the cart. HALLELUAH!

  
Step 15: Try to distract him with a beeping sound. Worked for a while as he tried to guess what it was.

Step 16: Agree to go into the cold room {wine & spirits} to see if that’s where the beeping sound is coming from. But only after we get all of our stuff. Use this as a threat in case he doesn’t behave while we grab the last of our 28 items.

Step 17: Go into the wine & spirits section and drive around the aisles. Then text your husband to tell him you aren’t buying beer because there’s no safe place to put it in the cart.

Step 18: Pick the checkout aisle he wants to go in to prevent a meltdown. Hand him some non-breakable items so he can help put them on the belt. Pull items off the belt when he starts to scream so he can “help.”

  
Step 19: Ask him once if he wants a coat on and let him keep it off while telling him he’s going to be super cold and say brrr when we get outside. Walk outside the door and stop so he can experience the cold. Then ask him again if he’d like a coat. Take a couple of pictures to document his craziness.

  
Step 20: Put him in the back of the car so he can put the bags in the car.

Step 21: Tell him he needs to get into his seat before I count to three otherwise he can’t watch his Polar Express movie.

Step 22: Sit in your seat, turn up the movie, and drink the rest of your latte.

  
There you have it, 22 easy steps to buying 28 items in an hour and half with a three-year-old helper at the grocery store! One other word of advice, always park the cart in the middle of the aisle when you stop. This prevents your toddler from grabbing things off the shelf. It may be annoying to others, but it’s for the good of the store and patrons. Trust me. No one wants to listen to a three-year-old scream when you take things out of his hand and no one wants to see flying food.

22 steps to a successful grocery store trip with a three-year-old

Bedtimes gone wrong

Survival posts seem to be a theme around here lately. But, if you had been part of the bedtime in my house that just happened…well, you’d understand. It’s been quite a while since I told someone that I didn’t like my kids much at that moment. I definitely said that twice on Sunday. To which my husband replied along the lines of he hadn’t really liked them much at all lately. I get it.

Some bedtimes go very well and everyone listens. No one loses their mind when you say it’s time for bed. Other nights, one falls and the other quickly falls in support of brotherhood. Tears. Legs that can’t hold up small bodies. Arms that have a life of their own. So much flailing. All the chapters from the Small Child Handbook. You know it’ll be a fun night when you’re doing a solo bedtime and your littlest human does everything he can to run away from you and not get his pjs on. Physically putting clothes on a small human who is twisting and turning is a delightful experience that leaves a person left feeling like you’ve had an excellent workout.

Tonight was one of those semi-ok nights. That means that at most times, at least one kid was listening. {We have a low bar in our house…} Going to bed even looked like it was going to go well because Maximus listened as soon as I said it was time for bed. Two minutes and that kid was in bed and I was on to the next one. Who was in my bedroom taking candles and glass out of a vase. Eventually I got Quinten into his bedroom. He wasn’t the happiest because I refused to sing him a song because he hadn’t been listening. Here’s the thing about Quinten, he doesn’t like it when you don’t do what he wants. So he threw an epic fit. And I said goodnight and left his room. Kicking, screaming into the air, screaming into the bed, and swinging his arms. I was planning on ignoring it, but Maximus shares a wall with him. {And it’s hard to tell a kid to try to sleep over that.} So I had to deal with it. And really, this kid is so stubborn that he’ll scream until you can finally convince him to stop. Tough love happened next. Hugging him as tight as I could until he stopped crying. It’s physically hard to give that kid love! It took a hug from his brother, putting a sock back on {don’t be so surprised that you kicked it off Q!}, remaking his bed, and lots of soft voices. I thought I was starting all over again when he requested a song, but somehow I was able to get out of that room without him {or I} screaming. After starting bedtime 30 minutes before.

::Now I watch mindless tv::

Bedtimes gone wrong

Our little boys of summer

The little boys of Leger Lane, like children everywhere, love the outdoors. When Maximus was 18-months old he used to sit at the sliding glass door and cry because it was winter and he couldn’t go outside. Quinten, at 2 1/2, is almost always out on the deck when it’s raining. Their love has no bounds.

Chasing a caterpillar into hiding
Chasing a caterpillar into hiding

EVERYONE in the house was excited once the weather got warmer this spring. Everyone. There are only so many toys you can play with in the house and chances are high that you will fight over a toy with your brother. Or maybe that’s just our house? 😉

Our favorite summer activities:

  • Play in the backyard – dig in the dirt and move dirt from one spot to the next
  • Play in the sprinkler
  • Go to the pool
  • Go to the park
  • Go for walks – ok, not Maximus’ favorite, but the rest of us like it!
  • Play baseball – not a surprise if you know my family! 🙂

Bryan and I have a shared favorite activity this summer – riding our bikes! It’s a little difficult to find time to ride together, but I’m excited that he shares my love of riding! I’d also put softball on my favorites list. It’s always been one of my favorites, but this year I’m having a lot more fun and enjoying it more than usual.

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Lunchtime ride

Maximus put together a Summer Fun list, which I dictated. Later, he made me add go on a Vacation to China. “Have we been to China?” “No, we went to Minnesota.” “Oh yah, put that on the list, too.” Apparently Bryan’s work trips to China are nothing but fun and also the only place to buy Cars t-shirts. #priorities

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2015 Summer Fun

We’ve gotten a good start on our Summer Fun list and are about half done, minus the China vacation. We’ve spent more hours outside than inside. We’ve missed bath night more times than I can count. Or rather, we’ve gone more nights without a bath than the number of times they’ve been clean this summer. The boys have gotten into a routine of wearing their clothes to bed {and don’t always put fresh clothes on the next day}. They fight bedtime because it’s very much still light out when they go to bed. And they wake up far earlier than anyone should because the sun comes out nice and early. We’re loving summer hard and giving it our all. Dirt under our fingernails, sand in our hair, new freckles on our faces, farmer tans on little arms, and skinned knees are the proof. We’re unanimously voting for 12 months of summer!

Our little boys of summer

Listening skills: do they really have them?

Listening skills. We learn them at a young age. Now that I’m a parent, I’m not exactly sure what age that is. It feels like a pretty important detail when you’re in the trenches of Preschooler 1 and Toddler 2 facing daily struggles of listening.

I can only assume I say the following in my sleep:

  • Are you listening to me?
  • PLEASE listen to me.
  • Please look at my face.
  • What did I say?
  • PLEASE look at me, what did I just say to you?
  • Do you need to go to your room for not listening?
  • IF you don’t listen, I’m going to send you to your room.

We’re struggling hard with this one and I’m a little surprised that it doesn’t appear to have bounds with age. Most days it feels like both boys spend the same amount of time not listening and doing something mean to the other. When Maximus was 2 1/2, Quinten was just born. I don’t remember ever making a big deal about not listening or using as many words or time outs as we do with Quinten. Maybe this is one of those examples of the younger sibling growing up faster than the older one did. Crap. I think our vision is getting blurred in expectations of the boys because they are acting so similar. Age has gone out the window and we both reach the end of our patience for anyone not listening. Sorry, Quinten.  

You learn a lot about yourself as an individual and parent when you’re faced with these issues. I know our little humans don’t know what buttons to push or even that they can push buttons to get a reaction out of me. But it’s so very hard to try to get out of the house TO GET TO WORK and have ears not listening. Or whining because they don’t like the words you say. I try to give more “opportunities for improvement” when we don’t have somewhere to be, but it’s just as frustrating when I’m trying to make dinner or it’s time to get ready for bed.

I feel that one of the most exhausting parts of parenting is the constant repeating. When you constantly tell them the right thing to do and you aren’t sure you’re even getting through. Or, that they’re listening. I’d be ok if I knew I had to say something 100 times before they really had it. I’d still get tired of doing it, but I would know there’s a successful end to it. Right now, we’re trying certain methods but don’t get any positive feedback. Sometimes they listen and sometimes they don’t. Is that because of our approach? Is that because of their mood? Do they understand right from wrong? WHO KNOWS!

No one ever says parenting is easy, especially the early years. Honestly, it’s exhausting most days. Give me two energetic, hyper, not listening boys after a full day of juggling work. Well, I’m sure my patience is lower than it should be for a 2-year-old and 4-year-old. But, I’m sure they are tired too and not using their listening skills to the best of their ability. If only two grumpy people equaled a happy interaction!

I know my little humans are capable of listening, I see them do it consistently with other people. I think that’s the first part of successful parenting. It doesn’t matter what they act like at home, how do they act around other people?

How do you get your children to listen? I might need a new bag of tricks.

Listening skills: do they really have them?

May Family Activity: Movie Night

We do a lot of family activities outside the home in the summer, so I thought I’d start a post of our favorite monthly family activities. Our favorite family activity for May was a special viewing of Big Hero 6. We don’t see a lot of movies, so we rented it the weekend before. The boys were mostly into it so it was a bit of a gamble for the actual event.

Getting out of town!
Getting out of town!

We went out for a family dinner and Maximus fell asleep 20 minutes before we got there. Bryan and I kept telling Quinten to talk quiet because Maximus was asleep.

No not. Max-mus no sweeping. Oh! Max-mus sweeping?

A child falling asleep in the car is kind of like throwing knifes in the dark. You never know what you’ll see when the lights come on. Other than carrying a 4-year-old for a block, he wasn’t a mess. As parents, we felt like we got lucky! It could have been an awful wakeup and transition. We ate at a new location of the place that was our go-to date night spot in college. It used to be a cozy sports bar and now it’s a classy sports bar with partitioned dining areas. WE WENT IN THE CHILDREN SECTION! How smart! There were three other babies in there and our kids weren’t the loud ones! That’s how family date nights should always go.

The movie viewing was supposed to be at the Iowa State University football stadium, but we had rain that day so they moved it to the basketball arena. We were all surprised to see our favorite mascot, Cy, standing outside the doors to the arena. We jumped in line while Maximus tried to wave at Cy. As the line started moving, he got a little concerned about what we were actually doing. 🙂 At this point, Quinten was buried in Bryan’s shoulder. I convinced Maximus that he and I could both take a picture with him.

Our first picture with Cy | MAY 16, 2015
Our first picture with Cy | MAY 16, 2015

I love that Maximus is holding up his finger. I didn’t know he was doing it until I looked at the very windblown pictures. The boys haven’t been to a basketball game yet, so they were pretty excited and Maximus kept saying we were going to watch a basketball game.

Family movie night at Hilton!
Family movie night at Hilton!
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Brothers

We got front row seats in the upper deck and didn’t have to worry about the boys kicking people in front of us. Another win in the family outing! Kids and seats don’t work when other people are in them. Especially when they constantly put their feet up and trade seats.

Popcorn!
Popcorn!

The family next to Bryan offered us some popcorn from the giant garbage bag. There’s one thing Leger Boys like and it’s popcorn. I got a couple of pieces from little hands, but wasn’t ever close enough to the container to grab much. I wasn’t sure if it was bought or handed out {they were handing it out when we left the building}, but Maximus walked right past Bryan and asked the guy for seconds. Kids. Maximus says that Quinten and I ate the second tub, but that’s only because we ate the last of it. Those two definitely ate a lot of popcorn that night! And I thought I’d have water to drink from, but after their first drink I wasn’t putting my mouth back on that backwash infected bottle. Kids can be so gross sometimes.

Car ride home
Car ride home

We made it through the whole movie, no one got scared, they played musical chairs, and we didn’t regret the family movie night. My kids can add a lot of excitement to public outings. Every successful outing helps us forget about one bad outing. {But every bad one makes us stay home twice as long before we venture out again.} It doesn’t hurt that at the end of the night they can sleep the entire way home. And, not throw fits when we change them into pajamas and put them to bed.

We’ll definitely do another movie night in Ames!

May Family Activity: Movie Night