Friday, January 28, 2011

How Do You Deal with Whining?

(Stephanie, you can skip this --- you've already read it, I'm just posting it because I got your permission. ; ) )

Parenting does not come naturally to me.

Surprised? I'm sure not. About three years ago I was looking, in general, for some good parenting ideas. I didn't care much to talk to people that already told me I was doing it all wrong. So I Googled "disciplining toddlers" and other related topics. Eventually, a great lady in my ward directed me to a book called "Love and Logic." For a mom who needs a lot of guidance in discipline, I think this is a great place to start. At least it gets me adding more love into my disciplining and helps me to step back and take more time before I jump on things. But, it's the mom's I watch that have taught me to relax and just laugh when things seem awful, to not worry about the little things, to just let them be. It is the Holy Ghost that has taught me it is better to have broken things than a broken boy and I thank Heavenly Father all the time for that whisper. When things get ruined, I replay that warning in my mind, it brings love back up to the surface. After all, broken things is part of being a mom. As for teaching things, having fun and doing things with my kids, I think that's the part that comes naturally. (Maybe there's a teensy bit of me that is naturally an awesome mom after all --- let's HOPE.)

My two kindergartners are great kids, really, but even great kids have their moments when their mom doesn't deal very well with their attitude. Believe me, I know, because as I said, parenting does not come naturally to me. As much as I LOVE being a mommy, I find motherhood a challenge. Especially when it comes to dealing with whining!

How do you lovingly deal with whining, yet still get it to GO AWAY!?!?

I went back to that book for some ideas. I thought I would share some of my tried-and-tested approaches that I like the results of.

Is their whining so loud it comes out screaming? I remind them that outside voices belong outside. If they don't go outside on their own, I take them. They can come in when they're ready to use their inside voice.

Crying again? About what? Your arm got what? Poked? How? Your brother? Ohhhhh! Bother! I was just introduce to the "Crying Place" and love that idea. I have had them do their crying in their room with the door shut. But any spot (out of earshot) can be designated as a place to freely express their emotions.

I have been known to absentmindedly give my kids each others plates, cups, crayons, etc. I was annoyed enough on afternoon to say, "Oh? You don't want plates!?" I put them back in the cupboard and let them each use a napkin. It only took a few times for them to learn that they can switch their items on their own --- without whining!

How about getting them to do something they are perfectly capable of doing and should be doing and you hear, "I don't want to _____!" Respond lovingly, but matter-of-factly, "I know you don't want to _____, but it has to get done." (Letting them know that you heard and understand them seems to go a long ways.)

Fighting over a toy and you just can't deal with it again? I remove the toy and suggest they find something to do that they can both enjoy. If I feel I must comment about it I might say something in a loving voice, like, "I don't want my two favorite children to fight with each other because of this toy, so I'll just put it up for now. You can try playing with it again when you are a little older and we'll see if you can handle playing with it the right way then.

This is my all-time #1 response to whining --- and it is SO EASY. When one of my kids comes to me whining (usually when my nerves are already fried), I respond in the most loving way possible (taken word-for-word from the book), "I'm sorry, but I don't understand whining." Repeat. Continue to repeat until they talk to you in a normal voice or stomp away --- you might have to recommend the "Crying Place." It takes a little practice and repetition, but it pays off. With the whining gone, it makes me more willing to tend to their needs.

Another sentence I'll sometimes use (in a loving voice still), "I'll talk with you when you're ready to talk to me the way I'm talking to you." (I think this is also a good way to teach them to treat you with respect.)

How about whining at the table? This is my FAVORITE dinner time rule that I made up out of the blue one evening (Eli also LOVES this one). This is spoken with a smile, with love and usually with a hint of warning, "No whining where we're dining." When someone whines at the table one of us reminds the whiner of this rule (yes, even the kids love to help implement this rule). If whining continues, we ask the whiner to please get down from the table, "That's the rule!" simply stated. (Sometimes you have to take them.) They are reminded that we would love to have them come back and eat with us when they are through whining. It really helps with the dinner atmosphere and I don't have to listen to how terrible my cooking is the entire meal. It amazes me that they come back to the table with a different attitude EVERY time. I definitely recommend this one.

So, how do you lovingly deal with whining, yet still get it to GO AWAY!?!?

Friday, January 21, 2011

Love Pats

Once, my mom gave me a little swat-on-the-bum for no apparent reason. It didn't hurt, but I cried. I didn't want her upset with me. That's when my mom taught me all about 'love pats.'

From time to time I like to remind my children how much they are loved and I decided to tell them that at breakfast this morning. I said something to the effect of, "Daddy and I feel pretty special that you are part of our family and we hope you feel special being part of it. We sure love you and Heavenly Father loves you and I wanted to make sure that you know that." They said they did. Yeah! Huge pats on the back to Eli and me. Then, Alyssa says the most endearing thing ever, "Even sometimes when you give us spankins, it looks like you spank us, but they're just 'love pats.'" (Shhhhhhhhh! Don't tell Payton!)

When I'm not thinking logical enough to discipline, I am happy to know I have used love pats as a loving alternative.

On Blogging

Wow! I don't know where my last post came from, it's not at all what I sat down to write about... but it's a whoppin' 4 comment post, so I've decided not to delete it. I was actually just given a friend's blog address and have since spent many hours reading it. This friend (and mother whom I totally admire and want to parent like) got me thinking --- A LOT. I must have wrote a couple dozen blogs about my introspections as I fell asleep the first night, I wrote more in my dreams and more again as I lay awake in the wee hours of the morning because I hadn't be able to turn my mind off. Now, I wish I could remembered some of those mentally written blogs because some of them were actually fun and none of those took very long to put into words. (I suppose it's harder to edit writing still in your head, so that's why I thought up so many!)

Anyway, I started thinking about how hard it was to let people know what I think of them and it just sort of got me thinking about my past... (I hope it didn't sound all depressed! It felt good to write it.) It also got me going on our adoption story again (I've had a few requests for it), it's a whole work of emotions! If you want more emotions from me --- read it! Mostly, I want to write it for my children before I forget any more of the details. I also want to share a positive story of adoption by posting it. Hopefully, it comes out uplifting --- because for me it did. And I like reading things that make me feel good when I'm done with it. (Oh those spoilers! I hope that doesn't ruin it! ; )

Friday, January 14, 2011

Stuck Up

Once my sister told me that her friend told me that her sister (who I shared a high school class with) told her that I was stuck-up. Stuck-up?!? That alarmed me. I did not see myself like that at all! I LOVE people --- thoroughly love people and discovering what makes one unique. Yet, people intimidate me --- so much so that I can't mentally function sometimes. My mind goes blank. Black. Empty. I want to disappear when the spotlight turns on me. Call it shy, if you will, but "Stuck-up"!?!?!?

If "Stuck Up?" means "feelings are 'stuck up' inside," then, yes, that describes me. But, as for feeling superior to you, just know, I am most likely seeing you with admiration and I haven't figured how to let you know.

Sunday "Anxious Me" automatically set in when I was asked to set up and present a meeting.

I wanted to make sure I did not stray from the church handbook on nursery structure and emphasize what we hoped for for this new year in the nursery. I discovered items I should have been on top of but have been slacking because I never read the information myself. I spent a good part of 2 days putting together a short outline about why we would like a small lesson given in our ward nursery each week. I love the sister called as the nursery leader and did not want to hurt her feelings the slightest bit even though I also felt strongly that lessons should be given and the Spirit should be felt by the children --- she doesn't feel that way.

As I finished my preparations, I contemplated how to begin the meeting (because, if I didn't, I was afraid I would freeze up and come across as being ill-prepared and stupid) I realized all attending are people I love and mean a great deal to me. I began to consider why:

When Eli and I moved our small family here the now nursery leader was the first to introduce herself to us. She gave us a store bought cake and a signed card when she stopped by. The cake tasted awful and had to be thrown out, the gesture, however, was greatly appreciated. Since then we have become really good friends and we share a number of interests that we love to share information on. We sometimes joke about how I bake her bread and bring over my newly discovered and tried healthy recipes for her to sample and in exchange she dumps a pile of llama ___ "stuff" out behind our fence (for my garden). She is who we have called for years now to take care of our home and animals when we are away. She is always happy to do it and does a great job too. She is always helping us out. She is a great example of service and is a hard worker. She is generous with her compliments. She's kind of motherly to us too and I like it. She loves our kids. She makes me feel good.

The primary assistant's voice (also the stake primary president) radiates happiness. Her stories are amusing, her laughter, sunshine. We share a few things in common, like adoption and PCOS. Although, we don't sit down and have long, in depth talks together, she notices me. That's enough for me. I love this lady. I love her children too. When I taught Sunbeams (four beautiful little princesses) her youngest was one of them. Her husband (also a primary assistant) would be at the meeting too. He is our home teacher. He's very quiet so harder to get to know. But, I have discovered he is full of kindness.

The primary president, I love this lady and didn't want the meeting to let her down. She can talk a lot, but, I enjoy every minute of it. The way she has taken to my children reminds me of my mother-in-law. She adores them and she thinks Eli and I do a great job as parents. I don't know how to express how truly I appreciate that. Her whole family has been amazing to us. Her husband has spent countless hours sharing his talents and skills on our home remodel and all he would take from us was a couple banana cream pies. I wish I knew something I could do to repay him, but instead, we asked their daughter to babysit and their son to house sit... I worry about taking so much. There has to be some way to serve them!

How would you express all that? (and don't be mushy!)

More expressionless emotions: I shared a year of similar trying experiences with another young mom and grew to love her. One day she announces her intentions to move away. I freeze inside. I feel the tears but they are not visible until I get home. I learn nothing because yet again, another dear, dear friend I have come to know and adore tells me she's moving. Huge tears pour behind my eyes but again never wet my cheeks until I find myself alone. A friend's husband dies and I feel my own heart will break for her, but all I can do is gather enough courage to wrap my arms lightly around her, still my eyes remain dry. Another friend steals money from my family and all I want to do is forgive her and help her sorrow go away by talking about it, but my voice fails me, it sounds so insincere. My BEST-friend in junior high is dying and I cannot give her comfort. A selfless angel places her two precious babies in Eli's and my arms as she tells them good-bye. So many emotions all at once that, try as I might, I cannot even begin to form words in my mind. Her tears fall but I cannot express, I cannot speak, I finally turn and leave her without a word.

"Stuck up?"

If I could share these feelings, would people like me better? Would it take away my "stuck up"ness, or, is it a different part of my personality that says "stuck up"?

Now that I have children, I make an incredible effort to open my mouth more. Even if I say stupid things, I have to start somewhere or I'll never learn... It is my responsibility to teach them social skills (of which I blamed my parents for not teaching me --- yet, I no longer hold it over them). So, I talk --- sometimes it comes out all wrong! I insult those I want most to be my friends, it seems I don't even know I do it. I want to share happy experiences/stories... but from my lips I hear bragging and wince inside. I try to share my struggles but it comes out as poor me and I mentally kick myself. I try to share information I have learned and am excited about... I'm finally beginning to see that this almost always comes out like I'm judging them. Listening is really what I do best. I was ok with that, but, now I want a VOICE too, and that seems to be when I do damage. Expressed thoughts become an invitation for me to discuss my similar and/or differing opinions, but I'm beginning to see that people seem to think that I'm saying they're wrong when I don't agree. I'm not! (I need to learn a new approach!)

As for the meeting, once again I said NOTHING. No intro, no gratitude for their service, no welcome. Nothing. I do this all the time and I hate myself for it. I want to express genuine love and gratitude... but these are so intense that when I try, it comes out --- LAME. So, I don't. I went through my prepared material quickly. I did remember to stop for input a few times. I felt it went well enough coming from me. But it sounds like I went a little further that she had asked. I don't know if that is good or bad, she said it was great, but I wish I had taken an even more casual approach. I wish I had done it differently, like someone else would have. But what's done is done now and they will judge me as they will.

As you will.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

2010 Rundown

I just love this photo. Payton got a hold of my camera to take this picture of Alyssa's new teeth growing in.
2010 was the year of the Tooth Fairy --- she visited our home 5 times! First, she made two visits to collect Alyssa's 2 front bottom teeth.

About that time we began calling her "Tooth-Alyss" after the night furey, Toothless, developed a longing for a pet dragon!
Then, just before Christmas, the Tooth Fairy returned twice again for Payton's 2 front bottom teeth, and just in time too, Payton was delighted to sing "All I Want for Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth" then show off his new gap.

Alyssa lost her 3rd tooth just before the new year started. I have a feeling the Tooth Fairy will be a regular visitor in 2011. (I had the honor of pulling 4 of those teeth!)

In the spring I finished working at the preschool and doubled my graphic design work as SJCK started a new paper in La Plata County. Payton enjoyed another round of soccer and has got the idea of making a goal down. He scored several! We enjoyed cheering him on.

During the summer I kept Payton and Alyssa busy with library storytime and other city sport (soccer and t-ball) instructional activities,
as well as play dates and babysitting exchanges with other moms.
We blended up fresh fruits and vegetables to make up our own popsicles in an attempt to avoid high fructose corn syrup and to teach the kids that eating healthy can be fun too.
We also grew another garden. This year Payton and Alyssa each had their own 3'x3' garden boxes and they got to choose what they wanted to grow.
Payton wanted to grow watermelon. I chose a quick maturing small sugar baby watermelon and Payton started it indoors. It thrived, but unfortunately, our growing season is just too short. The cold hit just as it began to turn a little pink inside.
After all that work and a summer of anticipation, Payton and Alyssa would not allow that watermelon to be thrown out without eating 1/2 of it first. Even with it as unripe as it was, I don't think they ever enjoyed a melon quite so much.
Payton also wanted to know how pickles were made so he grew pickling cucumbers (which didn't do very well) and dill (did excellent). I bought more pickling cucumbers at the farmers market and Payton and I (mostly) made pickles. They were ready for eating just in time for Halloween. Payton and Eli would eat a jar at a time together.
Alyssa enjoyed watering her garden and had great success too.
She grew a full-size, great tasting bok choy that we enjoyed in a stir-fry and parsley that she picked for scrambled eggs and chicken broth.
She grew little red radishes and an amazing sunflower plant that grew as tall as her and had about a dozen big flowers on it. It was a joy to look at.
We also welcomed honey bees into our garden this year. (The previous years we've only seen hornets doing the pollinating.)
I harvested garlic. I am still amazed by this. I planted them in the fall of 2009 and didn't have to do much at all after that. I put aside the largest cloves and planted those this last fall. We are still eating what we grew but only have 2 heads of garlic left.
I also had great success with cabbage this year (because I had too much nitrogen in the soil). I learned how to prepare some wonderful cabbage recipes. (This is one of my favorite salads. Yes, the guy is out there with some of his ideas, but about 1/2 way through his videos he shares a pretty good recipe.)
Eli grew grass! It was so nice having grass in the backyard for the kids to play on and Eli took such good care of it.
In the fall, Payton and Alyssa started kindergarten and share their teacher. I miss my children while they're gone for so long during the day (but I have yet to find another mom who sympathizes with me...). These two have grown so fast already and are learning so much so quick. Alyssa is excited to be reading now and Payton's desire to read has grown a lot.
They still love looking at storybooks and being read to. I do wish I spent more time reading to them. (It just seems that our evenings are so crazy.)
Payton and Alyssa started ice skating lessons. "Speed" is Payton's ultimate goal and creating "tricks" is his next priority on the ice. I am hoping he learns to put on his breaks soon! (It's got to be better than crashing into the wall!) Alyssa, does not like taking risks and is very caution so that she does not fall down. (She has had enough of that!) In December they got to perform in an ice show that Olympic ice skating medalists Anita and Frank also performed a couple numbers in.
Payton and Alyssa skated as cars.
Payton skated as Spider-man. A bunch of little super heroes chased Cat-Woman (their instructor) around the ice until they captured her at the end. Alyssa skated as one of many little princesses to "Bippity-Boppity Boo" with their fairy godmother.
I was given the opportunity to create posters, fliers, banners, tickets and programs for this event. The ice skating lessons take place at the family recreational center and Eli and I have taken turns on the treadmill and in the raquetball court during their practices. Eli has enjoyed many raquetball games and is preparing to be in a tournament.

Alyssa continued ballet in the fall, as well as the many afore mentioned activities, and this year performed in The Nutcracker as one of the mice. This event took a lot more unanticipated time and dedication then I has assumed it would. Although a lot was experienced and enjoyed between ice skating and ballet, it was a little much for Alyssa and me. Next year we will have to choose one or the other.
We ended the year with celebrating the holidays with many family and friends. I somehow arranged and pulled off doing a 12-days of Christmas for my youngest brother, Scott, and his companion, serving their missions in Iowa. It was awesome that my entire side of the family participated in this and we got great feed back on it. Eli's entire family pulled together to do Christmas for a family we found here in our home town which was also a great project to participate in. (These both happened while the ice skating show and The Nutcracker were going on, as well as Fuzzy dying, a newspaper deadline approaching and a hard drive about to crash at any moment --- and a bit of last minute shopping!) In the meantime, I couldn't get Eli to commit to doing Christmas at home or at his parents' home... so saying life was a little CRAZY at this time is an understatement. I endured a couple sleepless nights, but once we were on the road with Christmas on the top of our car --- I got to relax.

First stop, my sister's for a family gift exchange in anticipation of the big night.

Mom sewed up matching aprons and hot pads for her grand-daughters.
A Wocket for her pocket from Uncle Rob's family.
Opening more gifts.
My brother, Rob, and, my sister-in-law, Di.
I think they like it!
... still opening gifts ...
Payton would have been perfectly happy if this present from Grandpa was they only one he got.
Attending this Christmas party didn't turn out so well for the Grinch.
When we arrived at my in-law's home we discovered that only 1/2 the gifts got packed. (On the possitive side, Eli and I got to go Christmas shopping together this time around.) We enjoyed a fantastic Christmas dinner and holding Kim's new puppies.

Grandma K made homemade playdoe planets, with actual size comparison instructions, with Payton and Alyssa --- twice!
Grandma K prepared Outer Space activities to do with the kids.

Later, that evening, Eli and I watched "True Grit" with Eli's dad. Eli's mom made cookies with Payton and Alyssa in preparation of the next day.

The next day, Eli, the kids and I, headed to Albuquerque (with a plate of cookies) through a snowstorm, for a short reunion with Payton and Alyssa's birth mother. This is the first time to meet with her again since the twins were still newborns. We were surprised, but pleased, to see that Jesse (the oldest of the twins biological brothers), Danielle (his 10-year old daughter, so aunt), Philippe (other brother), Victoria (aunt) and her daughter (20-years, cousin) also came. It was an awesome and very uplifting experience and we hope to do this again soon. Because the big storm was directly over our normal route home we decided to head straight home from Albuquerque on I-25. This way we didn't see much of the storm until we were almost home. It wasn't snowing, it was just getting blown around and the visibility went down to zero. Our road got closed. We were only 2 hours from home! We got a room for the night, went swimming, watched TV and slept in the next day. We made it home the afternoon of New Year's Day to a shoveled sidewalk and a couple of happy, well-fed dogs. We unpacked, started laundry, and I headed out to the grocery store. Meanwhile, we received an invitation to bring in the New Year with good friends. So we did.

Happy New Years!