Thursday, June 30, 2016

The Art of Listening, or Better Yet, The Art of Follow Through

Not sure what is in the air today, but from the get go, we had issues with listening and following directions on and off throughout the morning.  By 8 this morning, we had already face a handful of melt downs, maybe a fit or two, and not following directions.  My oldest hadn't even been up for an hour.  On the flip side, the in between moments, he was a great helper and listener, was so nice to his brother, had fun, got us all laughing a time or two, had some really great ideas, and were filled with so much sweetness.

It may have been the late to nap yesterday that cascaded into this morning and being tired.  Or maybe too much stuff going on and not enough down time, so it was his way of pushing back. Or maybe it's just because he is three and life of a three year can be tough, especially when you add a sibling into the mix.  Who knows really and if I could actually pinpoint the problem or the figuring it out, I could write a book and make millions.  But, the best I can do is guess, try to ask, or better yet watch him.

Which, as the day goes on, I will be watching more intently.  However, this post is not just about listening...and for all of us to listen...but the art of follow through as well.  That, my friends, is sometimes so hard to do as a parent, especially when the tears begin to fall.

Generally, with a few warnings, most of the time T listens.  When he is having a hard time, we say, "if you don't _________(fill in the blank), then you will loose _______ (fill in the blank)". Rarely, do we actually have to dole out the consequence once he hears what he will loose.   However, every now and then, the consequence needs to be fulfilled.  This morning was one of those times.

He was supposed to clean up.  He started, then decided to color.  I asked him again to please clean up.  He really wanted to add color to something.  I gave him one minute and set the timer.  When the timer went off, it was back to cleaning.  Then, he decided to color on his chalk board.  After which, I told him to put the chalk down and finish cleaning up.  Upon ignoring me, I told him he would loose one story if he didn't follow directions.  It wasn't until I had to take away that one story, that he finally listened, cleaned up, and went up for stories and nap. 

However it didn't end there, once we got upstairs he kept trying to pick out three stories. Again and again, I said "nope, only two".  Then the flood gates opened really wide.  He loves stories and loves to read.  He even had picked out earlier what he wanted.  But yet, we could only do two.  He kept trying different books, but always ending up with three.

The more he tried, the more I said no, the more the tears came.  It was hard.  And then it got to the point where I had to leave the room and let him be.  I closed the door and got A ready for nap.  Once he was settled for his nap, I went back in.

Before I did though I prayed.  I prayed for God to give me the right words to say.  The first thing I did when I opened the T's door?  I got down on the floor, pulled him into my lap, and hugged him tight.  He calmed down instantly.  And then I said, "I love you".  I left it at that for awhile.  In a moment when I could have barged into his room, yelled, reprimanded, I choose to hug, say I love you, and then wait.

A few minutes passed and he asked if he could have three stories.  I said no softly.  His response, why. I gave him the reason and he left it at that.  He told me which two stories and we read and snuggled.  When we were done reading, we snuggled some more.  He said that he really wanted three stories.  I said I know, but we could read more after nap and then have three stories for bed time.

I will admit, I am no where near a perfect mom.  I don't want to be, but I will say there are times I try to be.  Sometimes, the best thing to do is walk away for a moment and then come back, hug, talk, and let it go.  There is no sense in talking to someone when their emotions are running high and they are in complete melt down mode.

Sure it would have been easier to give in, give him those three stories.  But what would that have taught him?  What would he have learned?  It's in those tough moments that we truly learn.  It's hard to say no and stick to it, especially when there are tears involved.  In the long run though, we are better for it.  I can almost guarantee, that he and I will talk about what happened at least one more time today and he will share about it when his dad gets home.  He will process it and so will I.  But in the end, the most important thing he needs to know and to hear, is that no matter what, I love him.  Despite the behavior choices, I still love him.  Always do and always will.  Saying I love you is one of the hardest things sometimes, but it means so much. 

Follow through with what you say and in the end, let them know that you love them.  And sometimes, in those moments when we want to push away, what we really need to do is pull in and wrap our arms around tightly.  That is what brings comfort, that is what brings calm, that is what brings us together.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Sometimes it's the simpliest things

Sometimes it's the simplest things that prove to be our biggest struggle, challenge, hurdle.  They stir up feelings of worry, anxiety, fear and we wonder "how in the world will we ever _____" (fill in the blank).

I am sure dads feel this way, but I can only speak from the mom side of it.  I remember when T was born I would do things at odd hours of the day, like take a shower at 4 am after nursing and go back to bed dressed. I thought, how am I ever going to be able to take a shower at a normal time, and well a normal pace.  I had mastered the art of 12 minute showers and getting ready for the day, which included shaving.  How do I know it was 12 minutes? Because he had an ocean project that I would turn on with music for him to watch and listen to while I did it.  Then, with time, it became much easier.

Now, I hit that point again.  Several months ago I decided I really wanted to get into working out and would during nap time for my oldest.  But I never wanted to get really sweaty or really into because I wouldn't be able to take a shower until after all were in bed.  So I thought. And felt really.  The idea of doing a good workout and then getting to take a shower stressed me out.  When really, it should have gone the other way.  I find that I enjoy a good exercise and it does so much for my mood and emotions.  I did manage to squeeze it all in just after A went down for nap, but before T woke from his.

Looking back, I don't understand why it was tough and why I felt the way I did.  But I do know, in that moment the tasks seemed so daunting. The thought came to mind today after I did a workout and did get to shower, pretty close to right after. Sometimes, we are our biggest obstacles creating our own versions and playing it in our heads, while letting the "what ifs" get us stuck.

All to often, I will do this.  I could list the what if questions, the scenarios I would run through my mind, but it would take pages. What I will say is that it can be done, we can figure it out, and we can keep things simple. We need to let them happen in their own timing sometimes, but it can be done.  There will come a day when all those tasks that seemed so daunting, come to you with the greatest of ease. For now, take heart in the idea that you are not the only one.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Mini Vacation ~ Duluth

My oldest has been asking to see lighthouses, especially to see Split Rock.  This time around we didn't make it all the way up to Split Rock, but we settled on Duluth with a short trip up to Two Harbors during nap.  So we got to see lighthouses and a few extra things.

For us, Duluth is about a two hour drive.  I was excited to head to Duluth for a mini vacation.  We hyped it up as much as we could with our oldest (maybe a little too much).  But we were all ready to go.  Staying in water park hotel, watching the lake freighters, seeing the lift bridge, and just being near the great waters of Lake Superior.

We showed our son videos of the lift bridge, the boats, and even the lighthouses.  He was excited to go.  We showed him pictures of the water park and all talked about all we could do.

I will admit, I was nervous and worried about how it would all go.  First vacation all four of us, being in a hotel room, and doing a water park.  My son loves water and he loves playgrounds, the water park seemed like the best of both.  Not to mention all the extra cool things we would get to see while in Duluth.

Our room faced the lake, so when it wasn't foggy, we got to see the lighthouses, the lift bridge, and even watch the boats coming and going. It was great!  We played in the water in the morning, sat on the balcony watching the lake while the youngest napped, and explored Canal Park in the evenings.

We all needed this mini vacation for many reasons.  Extra family time, trying something new, and helping to give us a better perspective on vacations with four of us.  All around a good time.  We are ready for our next adventure!

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Let's Get This Exercise Started!

I've tried the workout dvds and the workouts on netflix.  Yet, I was never able to keep them going.  Maybe I got bored of them, maybe it was because I couldn't set the stuff up quickly, or maybe it's because I didn't have it written down.  Who knows really.  I just know that I would got a bit and then stop.  Never giving it a chance to become a part of my life.

Now, because I want to make health a priority, it seems to come more easily.  Not to say that I don't have set backs.  I started after I was cleared from the doctor.  I had a c-section delivery, so I had to wait until my 6 week follow up and even after that had to ease into it.

I began in December 2015.  It was slow at first and easy going.  Then came the holidays and a family vacation during which, I did not work out.  It kept tugging at me though, so I got back to it a few times a week.

I noticed a difference on the days I did exercise.  Despite the lack of sleep, working out part way through the day seemed to help.  It helped me make it through the afternoons with just enough energy.  But it wasn't really until I put it all on a calendar that I really got moving more consistently.

My sister in law, Taylor, told me about Fitness Blender.  Its a great! There are so many workouts to choose from, for free even.  There are also programs you can buy that also include a meal plan.  Even those are inexpensive.  There is a favorites section and a calendar that you can input your own workout plan.

I highly recommend filling in the calendar with workouts.  It makes it easier to get going and you can get to working out faster.  It wasn't until I entered workouts on specific dates and set a monthly goal that I finally started to see results.