Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A Battle of Wills

Some things in this will probably upset or offend you. I'm sorry, but this is some of my parenting techniques that I learned from my older siblings and parents.

The dinner table at our house, just like at my parents, has become the dusty barren street of an old western movie. Nearly every night, there is an epic stand off between parent and child over whether or not the child will eat his food. Most nights, he does not and goes to bed, crying and hungry. His father occasionally yells and sets a timer and tells him to eat before the timer goes off. His mother buckles him into his booster seat and makes him sit for hours before she looses her temper and attempts to force feed him. Both tactics end up with a child in tears.

Tonight, I was on my own. Austin has a game night at work he attends every other week. Usually on those nights we just eat out of the fridge so that means Asher can have pretty much whatever he wants, which is usually cereal. Tonight, for some unknown reason, I decided to cook. Meatloaf.

My meatloaf is good. I know, everyone thinks theirs is good, so that doesn't mean much. Mine is like a hamburger in meatloaf form. It's got potatoes in it and a ketchup mustard sauce that's really yummy. Everyone I've ever made it for, even non-meatloaf people, love it. In the past, Asher has eaten this well.

Of course, he wasn't 3 the last time we ate this. Three is a hard age, I'm discovering. I've been told this, but man. I hate it.

I put dinner on the table at 5.30. Elijah ate his 1/3 of the meatloaf in no time flat (I make mini meatloaf so we eat an entire one in one sitting). I ate mine in slightly longer. Austin's got put in the fridge for when he returned. Asher's tiny portion sat untouched on his plate, pushed to the center of the table as he staunchly refused to even let a morsel of it touch his lips and tongue. Elijah got cleaned up, because of course there was meatloaf in his hair and all over his face and hands and in his eyes, then set loose to run amok while I cleaned up and "supervised" Asher's eating.

Elijah and I opened and shared some gummy Lifesavers. Asher begged for one and I told him if he ate a single bite of meatloaf he'd get two. Nothing.

Elijah and I watched some tv (I can see Asher from the living room). Asher begged to come watch. I said he had to eat a bite of meatloaf first. Nothing.

Elijah followed me around the house while I tended to things, picking up a few items, filling out paperwork, laundry, filing paperwork, etc. Asher started to doze off at his seat so I got a washcloth, wet it with cold water and stuck it down his shirt. He giggled and wiggled around but refused to eat.

I went upstairs to look for something and was up there for probably half an hour. He got up about three times between 5.30 and 8 to go potty or to throw up. Throw up and pee what, I have no clue. Mostly it was an excuse to get up and I realize that.

Around 8, I lost my patience. I had earlier speared a piece of potato and smeared ketchup sauce all over it and told him it was just like a tater tot, his favorite food in the whole world, and now, I was done waiting for him to try to eat it on his own. I forced it into his mouth then held his mouth closed and tilted his head back. It's soft and small so I'm not worried about him choking. He fought and twisted away, so I pinched his nose shut and covered his mouth with my other hand. He twisted so hard he nearly fell out of his chair and my ring scraped his face and cut him a little. He's apparently got a sensitive gag reflex because he dry heaved and then coughed up the piece of potato that he hadn't swallowed. I picked it up off the floor, threw it in the trash, wiped his face and set him back in his chair. I told him he had ten minutes and we'd try it again. He screamed and cried for ten minutes, then we tried again with a smaller piece of potato. This time, we both ended up on the floor and he was red faced with tears streaming down his face. He swallowed that one on accident but refused to show me. I set him back in his chair.

I went back into the dining room to finish up what I was doing and to calm down. I was angry. I have a short temper as it is, so a kid being so openly defiant makes me want to yank him by the hair and shake the daylights out of him. Even if he wasn't mine I'd feel that way. But since he's mine, I want to do it even more. He used to be so sweet and obedient and eat EVERYTHING and now he's a little twit who I sometimes want to punch in the face.

After some thought, I offered him the option of drinking milk instead of eating more meatloaf or waiting for his dad to get home. This was 8.30. He's now been sitting at the table not eating for 3 hours. So I offered him milk. He said yes. He usually says yes to milk then drinks about a third of it. Tonight I refilled his cup three times. Granted, I only filled it about a third full, but that's still about 8 ounces of milk that he drank willingly and completely. While he drank I sat at the table with him and we talked. I was worried my force feeding him would scar him and make him not trust me, but he seemed ok. He told me he knew I love him and he loves me too.

I hate going through this every. single. night. Sometimes, it doesn't seem worth it. He eats things with protein like peanut butter crackers, spaghetti, and mac and cheese. I know there's not a lot of protein, but there's some. He needs to protein and the calories so if I can get him to eat something with those I feel somewhat accomplished as a parent. I keep hoping that I can bargain with him some but he refuses to bargain. I keep hoping he'll grow out of it, but we're going on 6 months with only backwards momentum. He eats fewer things now than he did last summer.

Yes, family, I get the irony. I know this is probably my punishment for doing just this to my parents for years. At least Asher hasn't gotten to the point where he's sitting with it in his mouth or spitting it out when I turn my back or scraping it into the trash or garbage disposal. I was pretty creative with my food disposal so hopefully, he won't come up with anything new too soon.

So here's a question: is it better to make him sit at the table and stare at the food or to let him get up and go to bed early? I'm not giving him something else later, his dinner is typically the only food he is offered once it's been offered. He has to wait until the morning for something else. Neither option seems to work so I'm leaning towards just sending him to bed with no food, which I hate because we have so much food in the house no one should ever be hungry. It's stupid, if you think about it.

A couple hours into the standoff. He started crying and screaming I needed to let him say cheese for the picture after this was taken. That went on for about 10 minutes before he finally gave up. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

A Day in the Life...

Some people who don't know better think stay-at-home-moms have it easy. We supposedly sit around and eat bonbons and watch soaps and do who knows what else. We're not really doing it for our kids, we're doing it because we're lazy. We're just relaxing all the time.

Nope. Sorry. There is no relaxing when there are sick kids in the house.There is no relaxing when the house is a disaster and you have company coming. There is no relaxing when sometimes Mom just can't handle the mess the house has become and even though no one else cares or will see it she cares and it must be cleaned right now.

But yea, there is a bit of relaxing. At least in my house.

We all know I'm lazy. Or maybe the word is unmotivated? I don't keep the house spotless because I can sweep the kitchen floor and before the broom is put away a child wanders through, crushing crackers into powder with his bare feet. I can do laundry and fold and hang and put it away and the next morning there's underwear all over the floor, last night's clothing in a pile in FRONT of the closet door, and last night's pull up on the floor BESIDE the trash can. I can put all the toys away in their designated spots and all the books on their shelves and five minutes later the floor is so covered in books and toys you can't tell it's a hardwood floor.

So a lot of the time I don't.

I don't let the house get just horrible, but I don't stress about it. I do try to sweep up when company is coming, and I try to keep the kitchen sink relatively cleared of dishes (so nothing sits more than 24 hours) but I have other things I'd rather do than wash dishes or sweep floors or pick up toys.

I like to sit and read while the boys are playing, stopping to play with them when they require my assistance. Usually I'm just their jungle gym and I can read through that. I like to do miscellaneous crap online (games, reading, organizing, recipe hunting, etc) while watching Hulu. The boys will frequently bring toys into the room I'm in and keep me company.

There's no bonbons in my house, but there is reading, tv watching, playing, and general goofing off.

Today, though, was different.

I woke up determined to finish up with the fresh produce that was mine to deal with from our Bountiful Basket on Friday. I had 4 rainbow carrots and 7 artichokes. Not sure what to do with either, I shredded the carrots and looked up recipes online to make marinated artichokes. I found one that called for ingredients I had on hand and set to work. It's a lot of work and I may have done it wrong, but we'll see. A couple hours later, I had four 4-6 oz containers of artichokes in brine and olive oil ready to go into the freezer and a sink full of artichoke trimmings for the garbage disposal. I put the containers away and turned to the disposal. After a couple handfuls of trimmings, the garbage disposal shook the sink so hard I thought it was going to come out of the counter and then it stopped. No sounds. And the sink was quickly filling with water. I turned it on and off a few times, then reached in and started pulling out handfuls of chopped artichokes. Still the water stood. I got down and unscrewed pipes, nothing. I unscrewed a line at the top and that did something. Now there was water all over the cabinet, the kitchen floor, and halfway down the hall to the laundry room.

I sopped all that up and then started trying to find the clog. I figured the garbage disposal was broken and we'd have to get a new one but wasn't terribly worried or upset. We got some money back from taxes so it's mostly an inconvenience. I try a few things, get more water all over myself, then finally give up and plug everything back together because it's time to leave for my ophthalmologist appointment.

While the sink fiasco has been going on, I've been doing laundry. I found in the washer a pile of "clean" blankets from Elijah's finger painting episode a couple weeks ago. So that got washed again. Then in went the boys clothes, minus 2 pull-ups Asher had obediently deposited in his laundry basket. He confuses night time underwear (pull ups) and day time underwear (cotton briefs) for some reason. So briefs can be found in the trash and pull ups in the laundry. After the clothes were done, I found a pull up I hadn't noticed before. OF COURSE it exploded all those little gel thingies that absorb liquid. I scooped up what I could, then set the machine to do a rinse and crossed my fingers. This coincided with the giving up on the sink.

I dressed quickly, yelled at Asher to come use the potty before Oma got here to watch him while I was out, changed Elijah's diaper, yelled at Asher a few more times, then headed out when Mom and Bob showed up. I was on time, but the doctor was behind schedule so my appointment for 3pm lasted until 5.15 and I got home nearly 3 hours after I left, with the report that my headaches are most likely actually migraines and my vision has decreased from -7.5 to -9.0, but my eyes are healthy!

Mom and Bob offer to bring us a small snake to try to fix the clog. I'm convinced I can do the disposal replacement myself. Austin gets in on things and we work to unscrew the garbage disposal. After about 20 minutes, we get everything unhooked and unscrewed but we can't get the stupid disposal off. Then I see a label that says "reset button."

are. you. kidding. me.

We get it all hooked back up, stand back, and press the reset button and then turn it on. And. it. works.

So I'm all excited we fixed it ourselves with no added expense of a plumber, but...I feel dumb for not realizing there's a freakin' reset button.

The boys have been fascinated by this whole process. Elijah sat on my chest at one point while I was working under the sink and on my lap at another point. Asher just wanted fruit snacks and peanut butter crackers and his red cup.

Today was an anomaly. Usually it's get up, get the boys up and changed/into clean underwear, eat breakfast, veg most of the day, get dinner started, clean a couple areas of the house for a couple hours, veg some more. Those are my kinda days. Hopefully, next week will be a whole bunch of those days. I can't wait.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Seeking and not finding

If you've ever moved, you know that it's inevitable that something will get lost, broken, or both. The hope is that it'll be something you don't care too much about to the point that maybe you don't even notice. I moved 5 times between May 2005 and July 2010, basically once a year, and in that time, I didn't lose or break hardly anything. I was so proud! Of course, I did most of that packing and moving myself.

When we moved to Abilene in 2010, move #5, I was dealing with horrific morning sickness thanks to my adored Asher. It was bad enough just having morning sickness but coupled with the stress of moving halfway across the state in the space of about 4 weeks, I was practically down for the count. Thankfully, we have amazing parents and family and they all stepped up and came to our rescue and packed up our house for us (with us) in the space of a weekend. We hired someone else to do the heavy lifting and drive a truck of our belongings to our new home 3 hours away. Somewhere along the way some things went missing.

First, my favorite pair of tennis shoes. I don't wear shoes often around the house but I loved those tennis shoes. They were comfortable and I liked the way they looked. Bummer, but oh well. I haven't found a pair since I liked as much. Apparently I'm picky about my shoes.

Second, I had the complete Faerie Tale Theatre dvd set, and now I don't. No idea when it disappeared, since no other dvds went missing that we could tell (but we have a lot so who knows). That bummed me out more because hey, that was a gift and an awesome one at that. I haven't replaced it yet but I have definite plans to.

Third, we had painted the entire house in the first 6 months we lived in it, most of it done by yours truly. I had bought some pretty neat painting tools...and somehow those disappeared. I have a suspicion they got left behind and tossed. LAME.

Fourth, and most heartbreaking, was a bag of my dad's ties. My dad LOVED ties and had, seriously, a couple hundred. We all went through them and picked out our favorites when he died. I had probably 30 ties in a plastic grocery bag that I would have sworn was in my closet but when we got to Abilene and I unpacked, I couldn't find it. Periodically over the past three years, a new place to look has popped into my head and I've searched, but I've never found it. I can replace dvds, painting supplies and shoes, but not my dad's ties. I wound up with all the leftovers that no one wanted, so it's not like I don't have anything, but in my bag were special ties: the tie he wore to my wedding, a hand painted silk tie, a Norman Rockwell tie, a NYC subway map tie, a constellation tie. And who knows where they ended up. When I first realized they weren't where they should be, I sat down and cried. Then I opened every. single. box. and searched through them all, even 6 months pregnant. I climbed into the attic, I went through the garage in August heat, I opened suitcases and bags and cabinets and drawers. I went through Austin's stuff, just hoping I'd find it. And I never did.

I wish I could say that this past month I found it but I didn't. A new spot to look occurred to me last night and I'll check this afternoon but my hopes are pretty low. I sincerely doubt it's in that box but who knows. If it is, I'll cry again. Hell, I may cry when they aren't. I wanted those special ties for my sons and it breaks my heart that they don't have them. I feel like that one small way of introducing them to their grandfather is an area where I failed. I know I'm the best mom I can be for them, I'm not down on myself otherwise, I just hate that I lost them. Thinking back, I wish I'd carried them with me. I just didn't think something like that would get lost.

Fingers crossed for this afternoon.

The only picture of my favorite shoes. RIP

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Sunrise, Sunset

We went to the wedding of a childhood friend this evening and it was, of course, beautiful. One of my favorite weddings, and I've been to quite a few.

I think the first wedding I really remember was early 90's. Either my cousin's in 92 or a couple in our church around that same time. The cousin, I seriously had no idea he existed he was so much older than I was. When you're 8, someone in their 20's is ANCIENT. I don't remember a ton about the wedding except I liked the dress his sister, a bridesmaid, wore, and I didn't like his wife much for some inexplicable reason. They divorced within a couple years so maybe I was onto something.

The couple from our church had a daughter several years later (or maybe it just seemed like that to my skewed sense of time) and she's now a college sophomore, which is INSANE to me.

We went to lots of church couple weddings and as I grew up and showed a talent for piano, I started getting asked to play in them. Mostly it was family, and since my two brothers and sister had five weddings in about 4 years (December 1995 to June 1999) I got pretty good at it. I was playing at the Salvation Army church on Sundays when I was home from college and got asked to play for a couple who were getting married three days later. They didn't care what I played because they knew I'd play it well. I played in weddings for people I didn't know well at all, then started playing for friends' weddings. All were grateful and I viewed it as my gift to them so did my best.

Then I moved to Austin and it was more difficult to practice for the few weddings I was asked to play for. It wasn't that people didn't want me to, it was just that most of my friends were now married. I think my friend Amy's wedding was the last I played for in 2007. Crazy.

Then began the best phase of weddings: just attending as an adult. I love getting to go and see the couple and their joy and the happiness of their families. My favorite part is watching the groom see his bride for the first time. I don't look at her as she comes in, I look at him. I've seen tears a few times but every time he has a huge stupid "I've won the lottery" grin on his face. Then I swing around to her and usually see a similar look on her face. It's especially more poignant when one of them is an old friend.

Tonight, watching Paul and his new bride Brianna...was amazing. He's been in my life since before I have memories. His whole family has. I remember when we were literal babies and toddlers playing at my mom's office in the back room with the nanny hired to watch the employees kids, Paul and Caleb in the big round yellow crib Elijah is now sleeping in and Jacob, Taylor and I sitting on a built in cabinet "driving" cars. Jacob was much more mature and started the game with a regular car. Then Taylor said he had a car with 2 steering wheels, so I had to one-up them with a car with infinity steering wheels. I was a bad-ass like that. I remember climbing the weird cement fence in the back even though we were told not to probably a dozen times by our mothers and nanny.

Paul is younger, so I have more memories with Taylor and when he and his lovely fiance finally get married, I'll write about those, but Paul was always like another younger brother, but less annoying. I never remember him being annoying, which is weird. Other friends with younger siblings, I definitely remember thinking "can this kid just leave already?"

It's so strange to me to see the kids I grew up with or who were a few years younger than me hitting the period of their life where they're getting married and having babies. I know I'm 30 and married for 6 years with two kids, but I still feel like I'm MAYBE 20. I've been out of high school for nearly 12 years, out of college for 9...but I still find myself wondering what happened.

Adults who were kids seemingly yesterday are finishing college and dating seriously and getting married and having children. I remember when some of these kids were born, so that makes me feel old. I say practically every time that "I remember when you were..." which I'm sure annoys them because I know it annoyed the crap out of me whenever people said it to me when I was their age. (My parents stayed very close to the midwife who delivered me and she said "I remember the day you were born!" at practically every major event in my life.) They're always very sweet about it.

As I was giving Paul my congratulations and a hug, he told me they were honored that we came and that touched me. I'm honored that he wanted me there. I told him of course, he's practically family. Even if he's family I don't see much or talk to, I will always celebrate and grieve with him from afar. His mother is my mother and his family my extended family.

I am always honored to be invited to weddings and have rarely not gone to them. I can think of only a very few I didn't attend. The phase I'm most dreading is my kids' generation getting married. Luckily, that's at least 20 years away.

Paul seeing Brianna for the first time

Friday, April 4, 2014

I think a little cheating is ok

Ok, ok, I cheated upstairs a bit.

I AM getting rid of things that were upstairs, but I didn't drag the two or three boxes/tubs of sentimental papers/knickknacks out of the attic to go through in detail. Mostly because I filled them in the last year and didn't want to go through it again. I organized the upstairs area a bit more, in spite of my two lovely children "helping" by taking things out of the boxes immediately after I put them in. Elijah really likes doing that. Asher was contented playing with the legos upstairs, which included building robots and throwing pieces at his brother. The robots are more abstract than anything else.

Upstairs didn't take as long as I anticipated because I'd actually done preliminary work last year when the clutter with little paths around just pushed me over the edge and I went upstairs. There's still a bit of a path from the head of the stairs through Austin's stuff to mine in the back. I may tackle his area next week, just boxing up everything and stashing them until he gets around to them himself. It'd be nice to have that be a possibly useful area at some point.

I found a tub of 18 month clothes for Elijah, which is good and bad. Good because hey, clothes! Bad because I thought I'd found everything already and so bought basically a whole summer wardrobe (got it on ebay for less than $3 per article of clothing, which isn't bad) so now his drawers are overflowing and his rod in the closet is stuffed. So we can afford to be picky. Since Elijah's growing into the 18-24 month clothes and Asher JUST grew out of the 24/2T sizes, instead of packing up and storing Asher's old clothes, I just moved them to Elijah's "next size clothing" spot, the top rod that's too high for a normal sized human being to reach easily over his clothing rod. Asher has his own on his side of the closet with a few winter 3T stuff. So hopefully the doubling up on clothing won't happen again. Especially now that I've got the tubs winnowed down and labeled more clearly (stupid me not labeling better before.)

Next up is scanning in pictures that aren't already digital and the kids' artwork. I've recovered the top of the rolltop desk with the piles of stuff to go through and scan and/or discard. So prepare for some fun old pictures! Yay! I can guarantee there will be horror pictures of me because thanks to Bob, I've got a slide scanner and can now scan all the slides of my and Mom's trip to Nicaragua in 1994. Yes. You know you want to relive my super awkward tween days. I'll be sure to throw in a couple of pictures of me as the stinkin' adorable baby and toddler I was before puberty robbed me of cuteness. Oh puberty, you mean cow.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Unknown Treasures

Today I hit a milestone: I finished the first floor of the house! I have gone through the laundry room, the back hallway, the pantry, the kitchen (ALL the cabinets included), the dining room, two desks, the living room, the front closet, the guest room and bathroom, the boys' room, the master bedroom, and the bathroom. Granted, Austin's stuff is left for him, and that'll take him a couple days, but I've done everything else! I found some more interesting things along the way, too.

I didn't realize we had a Dirt Devil hand vacuum steam cleaner. If I had, I wouldn't have put it away with liquid inside and it wouldn't have come out of the closet with mold in it. I got it with bleach, though.

I managed to find some missing puzzle pieces from wooden puzzles that Elijah likes to "put together" and by "put together" I mean "dump the pieces on the floor then kick them all over the house." So the puzzles are up on a high shelf until I figure out a better way to hide them until it's time to play with them.

I found more tape. Packing tape this time, so now I can tape big stuff.

I found 13 unused boxes from U-Haul. Unused meaning they're not folded into boxes yet.

I found the ice scraper I really needed back in February. I'm not even going to lie and say I wish there was some ice to scrape because I don't. I'm loving the weather right now.

I found my ditty bag that I'd misplaced back in December and gave up on finding in January and replaced in it's entirety in February. So I'm doubly prepared to travel!

I found about a dozen little pouches of kitty treats and a sandwich baggie of catnip. Marco doesn't know, no one tell him.

It's amazing how much space I have in certain areas of the house now that I've cleared out stuff, or at least better organized it. The big box of stuff to get rid of is actually much smaller than I thought. Maybe I'm keeping too much, maybe my mom took more than I realized (that's probably it) or maybe I'm just organizing it better. Who knows. I have drawers in my desks with NOTHING in them. It's crazy. I have empty spaces on my closet shelves. Well, the front closet anyway. The back's so clear it's crazy. I moved the cat food and water so we can use the hallway better and Elijah LOVES walking to the back door and looking out. He does it about once or twice an hour. He taps the window and says "Go?" and looks so hopeful I feel mean saying no. So sometimes I indulge him and we go outside and he walks around and picks things up to lick. He hasn't gotten sick yet so I guess that's ok.

The biggest spaces are still ahead of me: the garage (I have no idea what else to call it) and the upstairs/attic. Tomorrow I tackle upstairs. I've got a mountain of stuff to carry up there to put away and organize along with the gobs of stuff already up there. I have a feeling my give away box is going to grow exponentially.

As sick as Asher has been this week, he definitely has time to poke his head into whatever space I'm in and ask me what I'm doing. He doesn't want me to give away his toys because obviously he needs them all. So I have to be sneaky. I did notice that at some point when I wasn't paying attention he and his brother got into a box of stuff to go upstairs and scattered it around the house.

I think I'll hit the end of this much sooner than anticipated and that rocks. SO hard. Maybe I'll be done by May! I haven't had to buy anything for storage because I have the Mount Everest of boxes in the garage and can usually find what I need.

So if you've been hemming and hawing about organizing and decluttering and getting rid of the crap, just do it. It won't take nearly as long as you think it will. Commit to one space a day. Maybe one room, if you can do that much. Go through, get rid of things you don't use or want or like and make space...and leave the space empty. It's nice to have empty spaces around. Feels open.

Good luck!