Movie (Snuggle) Time!

The kids love the movie Cars. We had a busy morning of playing outside in the really, really cold (I was hoping to freeze Oliver into a nap, unsuccessfully), and this afternoon I had promised Hazel that we could watch a movie. It’s really hard to say no when she asks to “wotch a mooooooovie”.

I put on the movie, hoping that I’d be able to get some unpacking and organizing done, but Hazel said she wanted me to sit on the couch with her. I figured her attention span wouldn’t last too long, so I would sit with her for a couple of minutes and then when she got up to wander around, I’d get up and get to work.

But she just melted into me. She put her arms around me, lay her head on my chest, and said, “I love you, Mommy.”

So I watched her beautiful face while she watched Lightning McQueen, noticing her nearly-translucent skin, the way the light from the TV reflected in her eyes, how her face shape is so similar to Oliver’s, and just enjoyed the feel of my incredible daughter snuggled up with me to watch a movie. And I hoped it would never end, because one day she’s going to grow up, and I don’t know that I’m ever going to be ready for that to happen.

Stay at Home Mom

Today is my first official day of being a stay at home mom. Kullervo began his job today, and left at 8 this morning to catch the bus. The kids and I are at home, trying to figure out what our new routine will be.

Oliver is going to take a gymnastics class today, and we are going to work on some arts and crafts. Oliver was disappointed when we took down the holiday decorations, so I decided that we would make new decorations for winter to put up. And, if Oliver decides that he doesn’t want to nap today, we are going to have some at-home school, and work on reading, writing, or math.

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Hazel is continuing her love of tutus, and has started letting me put hair pretties in her hair. In other words, she looks adorable… pretty much all the time. Add that to her super-expressive face, and she’s just magical.

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I still have some unpacking and organizing to do, and we haven’t even begun things like painting the walls or hanging pictures. I also need to figure out what I want to do and focus on so that I am still Katy, and not just Mommy.

In other words, today is the first day of our new adventure, and I can’t wait to experience it all! The photos aren’t great, but they will have to do until I take some with something other than my iPhone.

Time Out for Oliver

I feel like there’s something LDS related to Time Out (Time Out for Women?  Time Out for Love?), which I have no idea what it is, but the title stuck, and that’s why I titled this post what I did.  (Oh, and it’s about time outs, too.)

So, time out.  I mentioned here that the way that I do time out is different than it used to be.  Most books and magazines that I’ve read recommend giving time out for a minute per year of age.  I’ve also heard theories of letting your kid be in time out until they’re ready to get out and behave.  I don’t really do either of those.

I’m going to illustrate the way that I do time out with a couple of typical examples in our home.

1.  Oliver gets angry that Hazel is playing with one of his toys.  He snatches it from her, and then hits her.  Hitting is one of those ‘don’t pass go’ cards straight to time out.  He usually gets really upset about having to go to time out, and I often have to carry him over there.  He sits in the designated time out spot by the door, facing the wall, and I usually st behind him and hold him while he’s crying and carrying on.  I try not to talk to him until he’s managed to calm down a bit, and if I do talk to him, it’s usually to say  (or whisper) that we’ll talk when he’s calmed down.  (Aside: Sometimes he’ll shriek that he IS CALMED DOWN, and I have a hard time not laughing.)  When he stops freaking out about being in time out, we talk about why he’s there.  I ask him why he got sent to time out, and he’ll tell me that he hit Hazel.  Sometimes he tries to interject with, “I hit Hazel, but…” and I interrupt him and tell him that there aren’t any buts because we don’t hit.  And we talk about why we don’t hit–that it hurts people, that we don’t want to hurt people, that he loves Hazel, even when he’s angry with her, and that she is smaller than him, so hitting her isn’t fair, and that there are better ways of dealing with a problem than hitting.  If I still have his attention, I try to talk to him about what he could do instead.  Sometimes that works, sometimes it doesn’t.

2.  I ask Oliver to please get his shoes so we can go outside, and he yells at me, “No!  YOU do it!”.  Now, my problem here isn’t that he didn’t obey me, but the way that he told me.  If he had asked me politely, and I wasn’t doing something else, I wouldn’t really have a problem with doing it.  But I won’t let me three year old boss me around.  Then we’re stuck in a battle of wills where he’s said he won’t do it, and I won’t back down because that wold be a parenting nightmare.  So, we often wind up with a statement of, “Oliver, if you don’t get your shoes by the time I count to five, you’re going to go to time out.”  I don’t love putting him in time out for this, but I’m not sure what else to do when it’s a stand off.  So, I wind up having to carry him to time out if he doesn’t do it.  Again, I sit with him, and when he’s ready, we talk about why he’s in time out, and what he could have done instead–he could have politely asked.  Or he could have said, “Mommy, I’m in the middle of putting my cars in my bookbag; can I do it when I’ve finished?”  Here, it’s a matter of learning how to speak to each other respectfully, so we talk about why we don’t talk to each other that way.

It sounds kind of touchy feely, I guess, but maybe that’s okay.  Mostly, we try to adapt our punishment to make sure that we and the kids know why they’re being punished, and also try to modify it so that they aren’t being abandoned and forced out of the family because they acted out.  I don’t want my kids to feel like we don’t love them as much or want to be around them when they’re behaving badly.  I don’t want them to think that my love is conditional on perfect behavior, because it’s not.  So, I love them harder when they’re rotten, and try really hard to stay calm.

And I apologize when I yell at them or snap at them.  Because I want to treat them with respect too.  And I want them to know that they deserve to be treated with respect.

A Study on Bad Timing

Because I am on a flexible work arrangement at work, when I worked mad, crazy hours during busy season, I was able to choose two weeks to take off later in the year without taking official vacation days.

Because Kullervo was graduating in May, I chose the first two weeks in June, thinking that we would have some time together as a family, that I would have nice time in the early summer with the kids to play outside all day, every day before the brutality of summertime hit.  This worked conveniently around the schedule of my current client at work, and it was going to be perfect.

Then Kullervo’s summer annual training with the National Guard changed its dates, so the entire second week that I am off from work, he is gone.

Then we realized the awfulness of bar exam studying, and how it makes law school look like half-day kindergarten.

Still, I have these two weeks to play outside with the kids, “chalking” (as Oliver calls it), taking nature walks, swimming in the pool, basking in the sun (with tons of sunscreen, of course).

It rained for the ENTIRE first week that I was off.  All of this past week has been rain.  Every day.  All day.  If it’s not raining, it’s pouring.  If it’s not pouring, it’s drizzling.  If it’s not drizzling, there’s lightning.  If there’s none of the above, it’s nighttime and nobody realizes it.  And the forecast calls for nothing but rain for the next 10 days.

On top of that, Oliver developed what may be his worst diaper rash ever.  It was so bad that changing his diaper either took two people, or took one person holding him down using acrobatic-style leg calisthenics while he screamed bloody murder, “Don’t hurt me!  Don’t hurt my bum!” and I was certain that someone was going to report us to child services.  The diaper rash turned out to possibly be a blessing in disguise, because it finally convinced Oliver to attempt to use his potty.  And if he’s naked, he’ll use it without accident.  If he’s wearing anything, he’ll just let loose.  (I figure it’s a step in the right direction, right?)

And, because there has to be an ‘and’ here, Hazel appears to be teething, and hasn’t slept for more than about 30 minutes at a stretch at night for at least three nights in a row, which, of course, means that Kullervo and I haven’t slept for more than about 30 minutes at a stretch, and because the first night Kullervo didn’t realize, my boobs are so sore from nursing her every 30 minutes all night long that I remembered why I am fine to wait awhile before having another new baby, because the first few weeks of nursing are a horrible time.

But being inside with two kids all day makes them whiny.  And yell-y.  And bored.  They’re so bored they don’t want to watch TV.  They’re so bored that at the suggestion of a movie, Oliver says, “Um, how about we do something else, okay?”

So, that was last week.  Today, because God realized that I was really, really, really, really, really, really going to need it, it did not rain.  We dropped Kullervo off at Army this morning and headed for the zoo.  We went to the zoo, threw some tantrums, saw four animals (a free zoo makes going with toddlers much more enjoyable, because who cares if you only see four animals and your kids are much more concerned with the HUGE ant they saw walking by the window when they were looking at the bear sloth?), had an argument, chased some birds, and then came home for lunch.  After naptime, we went and tried out a couple of playgrounds we hadn’t been to in awhile (verdict: the first one was ghetto and I worried that we would be eaten by zombie drug addicts or something, and the second one was great with a lot of kids and parents who didn’t appear to judge me as I tried to keep both of my children from dying while perched on high playground surfaces and who lended a hand when it appeared that both were trying to dive off of opposite ends at the same time), and then came home right at dinnertime.

But, because we had to say goodbye to Kullervo for two weeks today, I have been an emotional wrecking ball today and desperately worked to not show the kids so they didn’t get freaked out.  I’ve been tired–I napped right along with the kids today, and it was AMAZING!–and on the verge of tears all day.

So, now I have rambled on and on and on and should probably re-read this before I post it because probably huge sections of it aren’t even going to make sense, but whatever.

When Did This Happen?

Hazel has a few words (Mommy, Daddy, tickle, baby, ball, eat, apple, book, and I think a few others). She’s also gotten to the stage where she has more sophisticated wants than she has vocabulary for, and she hasn’t quite mastered pointing. It’s frustrating for everyone; I’ve been trying to introduce sign language (we have got milk and eat down for that), but it’s still a frustrating time.

At the same time, she is delightful. She has more personality than her size would imply. She’s her own little person, through and through. She’s feisty, independent, and loving. This little girl loves! She loves the cats–even The Beast, who is kind of unlovable. She sees the cats, points, smiles and looks ridiculously happy. She’s very gentle with them (for the most part), and approaches them gently and slowly. It’s like she has an instinct for it. And she’s incredibly sweet with her stuffed animals. She’ll pick one up and carry it around all day, and smile at it. She’ll hug it tight and make it give her kisses, and then is delighted with the kisses she just got.

She has a favorite book–Fifteen Animals by Sandra Boynton. I read it to her every time she gets into bed, and she holds the book while she sleeps.

She loves Oliver. They adore each other. They sit in the back of the car and have conversations. Oliver will ask Hazel questions, and then say, “Yes or no, Hazel? Yes or no?”. Hazel will nod or shake her head, and Oliver will take it very seriously. They listen to each other.

Oliver becomes more and more of a total character. First, he can remember everything. Once, about a year ago (when he was just-turned-two), I picked Conner up from Army (heehee!), and we had to wait awhile for him to be ready. We got out of the car and one of the other infantry guys brought out a ball for Oliver to play with. This weekend, when we were there, Oliver asked if he could look for that man with the yellow ball. How can he remember that?!

He also has this amazing imagination. He has started playing pretend games, and is very elaborate with what is going on. Things often get stuck in the mud (I don’t know why, but that’s been an ongoing theme in his imagination since last summer). Today, a dragon got stuck in the mud and Oliver couldn’t get him out! I offered to help, and proceeded to attempt to pull the dragon out with all of my might, but my attempt was foiled! The mud was too thick! So Oliver found a hero who saved the dragon from the mud and they were friends.

He also talks a lot about his “work-job”. When we tell him to do something, his response is likely to be, “But first…” Often, first he has to go to his work-job. When caught picking his nose, he has explained to our nanny that picking his nose is his work-job. And when prodded further, declared that Hazel is his boss at his work-job, and makes him pick his nose. And pays him $1 for it.

So, when did this happen? When did my kids stop being babies and start being these intelligent, imaginative, loving, really cool people?

Also, just for kicks:
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Mommy Guilt

Maybe this time I deserve it.

Oliver desperately wanted to play Mario Kart tonight (note that this means that I play and he holds an empty wheel, spins it around, tells me all of the stuff that “his” car is doing, and gets all excited–it’s really cute!).  It was already past bedtime, so I told him that he would have to choose–books, or Mario Kart.  Honestly, I thought he would choose books.

He chose MarioKart, and we had a delightful time racing around the corners and yelling and being excited.  Then I tucked him into bed and all was well…. until he saw a book on the floor.

He wanted me to read it to him.  I told him no.

Yep, that’s right.  My three year old asked me to read to him and I said no.  We played video games instead.  Feel free to judge me; I’m already feeling the persecution of the gods of education and reading and stuff.

Mom Hell

I’m going there. If there’s a Mom Hell, I’ll probably have a leadership position (resident CPA, perhaps?).

I teach Oliver wrong things. Not the kinds of things that could seriously damage him or anything–like, skipping letters in the alphabet, or that purple is blue and stuff. No, I teach him other stuff.

Me: Oliver, how old are you?
Oliver: I’m two.
Me: You’re two and a half!
Oliver: I’m two.
Me: OK. How old is Mommy?
Oliver: Mommy’s two.
Me: Mommy’s 26. How old is Daddy?
Oliver: Daddy’s 26 too. [he’s not]
Me: No, sweetie. Daddy is 42.
Oliver: (mischeviously) Daddy’s 26.
Me: (laughing) No!! No!! Daddy’s 177!!
Oliver: Daddy’s 26.

So, on reflection, maybe I don’t teach him wrong stuff. He just ignores my blatant lies. Beh.