Tag Archives: Mollinator

Bedtime or Bust

I’m sure every family has a time of day that just seems to cause stress. Maybe it’s the breakfast and out the door to school/work rush, maybe it’s the afternoon when a toddler has stopped napping but still needs one, or maybe you are like our family and it’s the time between dinner and bedtime.

From 6-7 pm every night I’m pretty sure someone has taken my children and replaced them with caged monkeys that look like my children. They are wound up, their listening ears have long since shut off and I seriously find myself wondering how I haven’t downed an entire bottle of pinot in this hour. 

I get it. Other than school in the mornings, the kids don’t really leave our house. So from 12-7 they have the same toys either inside or outside to play with and see the same faces. I get a little stir crazy too and I have stuff I should be doing. It’s also the time where we don’t really have enough time to get involved with anything (especially anything that makes a mess) but they are bored and dying for stimulation. Only, I’m at my witching hour too. I’ve been at work all day and have come home to make dinner and am brain dead or I’ve already been entertaining them all day long and am fresh out of ideas. And fresh out of patience. 

I try to keep it to a simplified routine, but Charlie somehow thinks that alligator wrestling pajamas on him is part of his routine and Molly thinks draining our entire city of water by playing in the sink for 10 minutes is part of her routine. Just once I would love to brush everyone’s teeth without someone biting down on the toothbrush or sealing their lips like they’ve been super glued. And I’m not sure exactly but I’m pretty sure that there is a game of “hide the lovey” that the kids have created in order to extend bedtime by another 10 minutes as we search high and low for someone’s favorite stuffed animal. I think Charlie’s beige puppy dog shoved into my Ugg boot wins the prize of the longest search. Tonight like a crazed maniac I forced the kids on a death march to search for said puppy dog then realized that a 4 and 2 year old are probably the worst searchers ever. I don’t know what I was thinking, these kids can’t find me hiding under the dining room table while we play hide and seek, how are the going to find a stuffed dog the size of my hand? (and why can’t their favorite stuffed animal be those ginormous ones you win at carnivals???)

We finally make it to the bedrooms only to not be able to agree on 1 story to read, so we read 2. Or 3. Or I put my foot down at 4. Technically I could do it earlier but I hope if I give them lots of attention before leaving they will be less inclined to exit their rooms looking for more. I’m usually wrong. With Molly, she was content with us kissing her goodnight and leaving, we had that part in the bag. We were home free once that door shut. Then Charlie decided that he wanted to sleep in a double bed and needs us to lay down with him, lest he cry like we have broken his heart. So we lay with him for a couple minutes. BIG MISTAKE. That leads to Molly wanting to cuddle and why not? We cuddle with Charlie, it’s only fair. Bust, we let that good thing fly out the window and added an extra 10 minutes to bedtime. When we finally do get to evacuate, we are only at a 50/50 chance that Molly won’t wander from her room and whine for me at the top of the steps to tell me that one last pressing item before going to bed.

An hour later, everyone is maybe asleep and I flop on the couch only to realize that it’s only 7:30 and the night is still young for this mama in need of doing dishes and cleaning up and all that other fun household work that doesn’t get done while I’m at work. But what I really want is some cake and a glass of wine so I compromise and drink while I fold laundry then eat cake. Which reminds me, I’m out of cake.

So, what is your stressful time of day? Are you a morning, afternoon, or like us, a bedtime monkey show?

Teacher Susie

When Molly was 9 months I expressed some concern to our pediatrician that she didn’t respond to us when we talked to her. She seemed lost in her own world a lot. He asked if she responded to sounds, I said yes, he said he wasn’t concerned.

When Molly was 18 months I expressed concern that she seemed to be bothered by things such as her hair being too long, her sleeves being pushed up or wearing clothes. The pediatrician said she was starting to express her individuality.

When Molly was 2 1/2 and again at 3 I expressed concern that she was having a lot of behavioral issues, more than I deemed “normal”. I was told by our pediatrician that she was bored and not to worry, she wasn’t autistic.

We are no longer with this group of pediatricians.

In the fall that Molly started 2 year old preschool I was at my wits end. She was almost 2 1/2 and having tantrums at every little event. I read parenting books, articles and blogs. I read anything I could get my hands on and talked to other parents for advice, but nothing worked. I was failing as a parent, I was failing my child and I felt like I was failing my family. Depression doesn’t even begin to describe how I felt.

“Give you child choices, so they feel empowered” I would read. I would give Molly choices and she would pick something else, like ice cream for breakfast and then throw a 30 minute fit because I wouldn’t give it to her.

“Ignore the tantrum, it will go away”. After 45 minutes it gets easier to ignore because you start to become numb to the the screaming, but after about the 4th one in a day your nerves are shot and you end up giving them some attention during the tantrum. Now, I have failed, she has broken me.

“Don’t overuse negatives like No, Don’t, Stop, etc”. Even though we still try to do this, I can only say “we sit on the couch” so many times before I go insane.

Enter Teacher Susie.

Teacher Susie came to us through the Parents As Teachers Program in our local school district. (I highly recommend this program if it’s available in your school district). She would come week after week with her tote of fun stuff and play with the kids. I would discuss our behavioral issues and she would supply real life solutions, then she would see them fail and say “hmmm, we’ll find an answer”.

Oh, how our family loved her totes though. The kids would be diving into them before she even took her shoes off and for an hour everyone was happy. There were new toys, challenging toys, sensory toys, fun crafts, those totes were awesome. Then there were Teacher Susie’s folders and in those folders were my goodies. There was information on development, on behavior, and new solutions to our problems. Finally, our concerns were falling on open ears. Teacher Susie worked with us for almost a year and then came the day that she witnessed Molly in full Molly form and me on the verge of a nervous breakdown and it was finally said “I think you need professional help”.

I blinked away tears and said “yes, that’s why you are here”

Teacher Susie: “I think it’s time our behavioral counselor came to talk to you. I can only do so much and you guys need the help”

I honestly just sat there and cried. I left to go back to work and cried some more. I felt like I had been punched in the stomach but I knew she was right.

A week later Marie showed up. I had taken notes over the weekend (Molly made it quite easy) so I could have everything I wanted to say easily at my finger tips. Then she had Stampy and I fill out a questionnaire about Molly’s behavior. Apparently we filled it out pretty quickly and without much discussion with is rare.

When Marie returned with our results, she had met with Teacher Susie first who informed her that we would be relieved. Marie still showed up with a look on her face like she was going to tell us that someone died. “Normal” is considered a child’s age + or – 2 years, Molly came up with a behavioral and emotional development less than an 18 month old, she was 3 1/2. Not only that but scored in the 99th percentile and off the charts for most categories.

We weren’t insane and we weren’t failures, we had a child that had difficulties and now to start therapy and find out why.

A year later we have lots of answers and lots of smiles and little mental breakdowns and we have Teacher Susie to thank for that. Without her, I don’t know where we’d stand today. She has since left the Parents as Teachers Program and often I want to email her or send her a card but how do you thank someone that gave you so much. How do you thank someone that finally listened and stood with you and helped? No card or email or gift seems to do justice what she did for us. I don’t know if there is ever a way to truly have her understand our gratitude. Teacher Susie gave us our family and she gave us our little girl back and for that I am eternally grateful.

Therapy Thursday

Therapy Thursday is by far my favorite day. I get an hour of therapy. Plus, she helped us with the whole dozen-temper-tantrums-a-day thing. That was good too.

But seriously, I don’t know why more parents don’t go to therapy. It’s awesome. Or maybe our social worker/family therapist is awesome, but whatever the reason it has been what our family needed.

Then the worst and best thing happened today. We realized that we probably don’t need therapy anymore. We sat around talking about the past month (scheduling had kept us from meeting before this point) and realized that we had nothing to report other than good things.

  • Molly has started saying “I love you”
  • Molly has become more verbal about telling us when she’s uncomfortable
  • Molly has transitioned back to school without difficulty
  • Molly has started to play with other children
  • Molly is getting her face wet without screaming

The list could go on and on and we realized we are only left with one basic problem: dealing with Molly in places that make her uncomfortable with her sensory system. Molly’s biggest sensory hurdle are noisy areas. That seems to be the last thing that still causes her behavior changing, life stopping anxiety. Luckily our therapist has just come back from a conference learning about dealing with anxiety in children. She warns us that therapy is still in the research stage, but I’m okay with being a guinea pig if it gets results. At least this lands us another session!

I’m scared to leave therapy. We have come so far with our hand held, I feel letting go is like jumping into the deep end without my swimmies. I know we can do it (I’m pretty sure I know how to swim), but I’m terrified. Our therapist has done so much for us over the past year. She is the one that took notice and said we weren’t crazy when we said that Molly wasn’t developing normally. She was the one that got us into Early Intervention. She was the one that kept me from ending up in a full straight jacket. She’s the one that taught us how to be a functioning family. I’m really not ready to go at this on my own. No matter how good things are.

What if I forget what I’ve learned?

What if Molly has a backslide when she starts kindergarten?

What if I just need an occasional pat on the back?

Last October when we started, Molly had the emotional development of an 18 month old. She was 3 1/2. That doesn’t mix well. Today in discussing how Molly seems to still lack empathy we found out it was normal. Normal? Molly?? Those words don’t go together.

But, they were said together.

And it felt kind of good.

Maybe I can do this.

Toddler Beds: Molly v. Charlie

Our neighbors gave us a twin bed. It was in great condition and Molly was 3 so it came at perfect timing. I figured she would outgrow her toddler bed at any time. We put her new bed in her room and she was so excited to go to Target and pick out brand new sheets. She was so proud as the cashier rang up her “Mad Bird” sheets (what she calls Angry Birds) and even announced they were for her new bed. At bed time she climbed into her new bed with her animals and snuggled in. I was amazed at how easy it was to transition her into a new bed. I left her room and turned on the video monitor.

Not as easy as I thought.

She had already moved her blanket, pillow and lovie into her toddler bed and fell asleep. Seriously, she must have instantly moved beds the second I closed the door.

She’s almost 4 1/2 years old and still sleeping in her toddler bed.

We kept a full sized bed in Charlie’s room as a guest bed. Charlie was in a toddler bed for a week before he climbed out of the toddler bed and into the full sized bed. It’s been 2 weeks and he’s not looking back. He sprawls himself out taking up every last amount of space he can with his 36 inch 30 pound frame. He loves it.

I never thought I would be taking apart Charlie’s crib before Molly’s.

On the bright side, we can just move Charlie’s mattress onto Molly’s bed since hers has started to rip.

We Don’t Say Those Words

One of my many fails as a mom was my inability to control my potty mouth when Molly was a baby. She had been verbal for way too long as swear words were still flying from my mouth as easily as saying “how was your day?”. In my defense, I did share a rocking chair with my blue mouthed Grammy until I was 6. Some things were bound to wear off on me. Then it happened. My 2 year old said “Jesus Crazus” which was her interpretation of “Jesus Christ”. The bad part was is that I found it somewhat amusing. Not because of what she was saying but how she was saying it. There was a string of exasperation that went along with it, “Oh my! Oh my goodness! Oh my gosh! Oh my Jesus Crazus!”. Plus, she had a look on her face that she knew she was saying something taboo. However,  we couldn’t have her blurting this out at Christian Preschool, so we did what all good parents do when their toddlers say things they shouldn’t, we ignored the behavior.

Only the behavior only got worse.

At first she banged her head into the door and said “shit” as she walked away. I couldn’t hide from that one, she was imitating me. But it didn’t end there. I was explaining to her about God, she asked “like God Dammit?”. I said “well, yes, but he doesn’t use his last name”. This one could’ve been either Stampy or myself, but it was probably me. Still, we were trying to ignore the words as they came out. I mean, if you don’t react to the behavior should stop, right??

Nope. It gets worse.

My sweet little girl said it. She said the F bomb. She used it correctly. Then she said it again. And Again. And Again. In fact, last year on our vacation trip she shut herself in the bathroom and preceded to scream it at the top of her lungs multiple times. We tried ignoring it, she said it more. We tried explaining it wasn’t nice. She continued to say it. The problem when your child is smart is that they know from day 1 that it isn’t ok, and that’s why they do it. And when we ignored it she would keep saying it until we would address it. We were trapped. We were trapped in a F’in horrible situation. We didn’t know what to do. I think they only thing that really worked was divine Jesus Crazus intervention and she eventually moved on to something else to get our attention. Like strangling her brother.

We had our sweet mouth girl back.

Then she turned 4. And the words have become worse.

Shut Up and Stupid.

Now, I might have a potty mouth but I don’t have a mean mouth. We have limits in this house and those 2 words are definitely on the not-under-my-roof-you-don’t type list. I even skip over those words in the Berenstein Bear books. We have had several talks and time outs for using “mean words” and I think it’s working. Last night Molly said “Mom, I’m not going to say shut up. I’m going to tell you that S-H makes the ‘sh’ sound and that’s the sound that begins shut up” and continued with her dinner. Yup. She gets it. And she gets how she can get away with saying the black listed words without getting into trouble. She’s 4. I have a long road ahead of me.

Image

What words on your “black list”?

Our Family Trip Facebook v. Reality

The best thing about Facebook is that it is a highlight reel of your life. The good points, the funny moments, what you have edited and are willing to share. There are happy family pictures, parents sharing their child’s latest accomplishments from sleeping through the night to reading to scoring a goal, and your latest accomplishments. Sometimes, I feel like my life could be a complete failure if I didn’t know that probably these people had just as many “bad” moments as “good” moments, they just don’t care to share their fails with the world. Which brings us to our family’s recent “trip”.

I stopped calling them vacations when Molly was a baby because frankly, we stopped taking “vacations” the second I had to pack formula and a pack and play. Now, this trip we actually traveled without both of those items but it was still far from a vacation. First off, we thought that we could leave at 3 AM so the kids would sleep half of the trip. So naturally, they did not.

We rolled into my husband’s aunt’s house a little before 9 AM all of us exhausted and smelling like vomit thanks to Charlie. (Note to self: always pack a trash bag). That afternoon, after not napping and spending time on the boat I posted this picture to facebook:

It’s a picture of my feet looking out towards a toddler relaxing in a hammock and I can assure you I had a sippy cup of wine in my hand so, obviously I’m living the life.

Reality: This scene was about 5 minutes of relaxation. Probably more like 3. I had my wine in a sippy cup so I could take it on the go as I chased my kids around a new environment. Did I mention they had been up since 3 am? They were so overtired that any listening skills a 4 and 2 year old possess were long gone and they were beginning to act like chimpanzees on PCP. Stampy took Charlie in the car in the hopes for at least a 30 minute car nap and returned home to hear Molly screaming bloody murder from the bath tub. It’s a good thing Aunt Jane doesn’t have close neighbors or CPS probably would have been knocking at the door. Later that was followed up with a text:

“my kids are acting like assholes”

They had become those people. The ones that make you shudder when they show up to your party and you know that something is going to get broken. I feel lucky that our family was extremely understanding. That was where my day ended. Tired, slightly buzzed (but not in a fun way) and sharing a pull out twin bed with Molly. Honestly I was so tired that I didn’t care that night.

Day 2:
We went to the beach. Yay! The beach! Charlie fell asleep on the way there so Facebook got this post:

Charlie fell asleep on the way to the beach. What you don’t know is that he had been up since 4 am. So, of course at 10 am, he was ready for a nap and was not thrilled when it only lasted 20 minutes. He eventually rallied and played in the sand.

That was a nice 10 minutes on the beach.

Reality: Charlie decided that wandering in every which direction was much better than building things in the sand or going in the water so I spent the day burning my feet chasing a 2 year old. On the plus side I met some nice people as we walked by 8,000 times. Then we left the beach and the old Routine Monster reared it’s ugly head and Molly asked demanded to go to the outside shower at the beach like we did last year. Ugh. Outside shower is in Kitty Hawk, we are in Southern Shores. Not that it is a far drive, but not really on the way to anything either. Still we were left with the decision of giving into a semi tantrum and everything we fight to overcome or listen to screaming for the rest of the day. We chose to give in and have peace so off to the outside shower we went.

Day 3:
We headed off to another beach at Jockey’s Ridge. Facebook got this nice post:

Which actually, real life did mirror Facebook here. This day was relaxing on the beach. It was when we went to leave that all hell broke loose. We were that family. The family with 2 screaming kids as we wrestled them into car seats. I didn’t put that on Facebook either.

Day 4:

Best Buds

That was the picture that was posted to Facebook along with Molly noting that she’s sees corn so therefore we must be home.

Reality: The drive home. Dear God. Charlie woke up at 5 am. I was up at 5:30 am. We had at least 5-6 hours to drive. Charlie went along with the program and pooped before we left. Always a bonus if you don’t have to change a poopy diaper in the car. We actually managed to remember to pack everything (rare event) and be in the car almost on schedule. 2 minutes into the trip Charlie was asleep, Molly was watching Toy Story and I was exhausted. Oh, I still have at least 5 hours til we get home. Patience draining. I had just lived off of snack food, coffee and wine for 3 days how could I possibly keep it together for 6 hours in the car. I didn’t, but I also didn’t air my grievances other than forcing Stampy to post to my Facebook

Vir-gina. Worst. State. Ever.

It really is.

What I also didn’t post was a how my 4 year old with a fear of public bathrooms started screaming about an hour away from home that she had to go to the bathroom. I tried to coax her to go to my brother’s to use his bathroom but even that wouldn’t do. We pulled over and offered her a Pull Up. No dice. We then had to spend an hour hoping Molly didn’t poop or pee her pants. That wasn’t stressful. Then the last 40 minutes she asked every 3 seconds if we were home. Every. Three. Seconds. After 15 minutes Stampy told her that we would be home when we went up the really big hill. Sounds good in theory but we live in rolling country side, there are hills everywhere. Now we alternated between “are we there yet?” and “is this the big hill?”. Finally we hit the big hill and were home. Only to come home to realize that we had left in a huff and the house was a disaster. I’m going to believe that we were robbed and they just messed everything up and forgot to run our dishwasher and didn’t actually take any of our stuff.

A week later and our house is somewhat put together. Not really.

Can’t wait til next year!

I Love Therapy!

Today is a Therapy Thursday and that always makes me smile. Before it would make me smile because I really saw the benefits of our behavioral therapy in our day to day lives. We had minimal tantrums and the ones Molly did have were only 10 minutes as opposed to 45 minutes (and who doesn’t love less crying??). Now I love Therapy Thursdays because I get an hour to discuss my parenting/toddler problems to a professional and be told that I’m doing a great job (and who doesn’t love that boost of confidence??).

We are in the minority that does not find out the gender of our children before they are born. Throughout the pregnancy I made the mistake of saying 3 things:

  1. I don’t want the baby born on my birthday
  2. I don’t want a red head
  3. I would prefer a boy

It’s not that I didn’t want a girl, it’s just that I had an older brother and to me it just seemed natural to have a boy and girl in that order. I didn’t want a red head because I didn’t want my child bursting into flames the second she went outside (which red heads tend to do) and I didn’t mind sharing my birthday, I just didn’t want to spend my birthday in labor. In a hospital. In labor. I wanted to put my feet up and have some cake. So on my birthday at 11:11pm, after 26 hours of labor (I guess technically I did put my feet up), came a bright red haired baby girl. Yup. I really should have known from day 1 what we were in store for.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Bringing her home from the hospital we knew we were completely under prepared to take care of a child so when the struggles came, I just assumed it was because I had little idea about what I was doing. I’ve always been more of a “I’ll just wing it person” and I took the same approach to parenting. Naturally when she was colicky, sleep deprived and suffering from acid reflux I handled it like a pro. And when she turned into a tantrum-y 2 year old, I handled it a little less like a pro and when she turned 3, I had a nervous break down. I seriously thought I was a failure at parenting. I couldn’t remain calm during the 7th tantrum of the day like the “professionals” recommended, my child was unhappy, my marriage was suffering, I learned that people that were supposed to love me were calling me “irrational” behind my back, and my nerves were fried. Then, in walked Marie. Our Social Worker from Heaven. I wasn’t crazy and I wasn’t a failure. In fact I was doing quite well since I was still a functioning human being raising a child that was emotionally delayed like Molly. I liked Marie from day 1. Turns out we were raising a 3 1/2 year old that had the executive functioning of an 18 month old and the intelligence of a 5 year old. Apparently that makes for a lot of red flags to go up in the child development world.

Almost a year later we are happy. The stress is still there because, let’s face it, we can’t change who Molly is. We can change how we see her and what our expectations are for her. We are learning to balance what she really needs vs. what she thinks she needs and is trying to manipulate us for. Most importantly, I’ve learned that help is a good thing and that it’s ok if it takes a village to raise your child.

Baking Bread

This year our garden had a plethora of squash (read: Why I shouldn’t Garden) that my family won’t eat. I can’t really blame them. As I don’t mind squash, it also isn’t my favorite vegetable and I’m certainly not going to eat 5 squash plants worth of squash. So, what to do? Head to Pinterest of course! (you can find me here). And since Pinterest does not disappoint, I got a wonderful Bread Recipe from The Virtuous Wife. The kids were so excited to help bake and scampered up to our dining room table and waited while I got out the ingredients. I made the mistake of bringing the flour to the table first.
Image

So instead of helping, the kids decided that antiquing each other would be much more fun
Image

Followed by flour angels
Image

Thank goodness the recipe was super simple to make, pour everything into a bowl and stir. I would hate to see the mess they would’ve made if it took me longer than 5 minutes to get it in the oven! The bread was worth every messy second though, it is delicious!

Therapy Thursday: The Whistle Game

I’m squeaking in on Thursday after a long day of dental work. Thanks to a Percocet and a pain free induced state, I napped for 2 hours today… now I’m wide awake at 11pm. This won’t make for a happy Friday. I will take it since for the first time in 9 days my tooth hasn’t been in excruciating pain.

Anyways… Therapy Thursday. We have been lucky enough to get Molly into both behavioral and occupational therapy for her Sensory problems. I can’t even thank the woman who got this ball rolling enough. She was our lifesaver. These therapy sessions have given us a lot of knowledge and activities to try and experiment with so today I thought I would share one of our favorite OT games. (Disclaimer: I invented this game, not our pediatric OT. It was invented by my orthopedic PTA brain once we were told to work on weight bearing through large joints). The kids call it The Whistle Game. Basically it’s this: I use a Tabata Timer app on my phone and force the kids to exercise. 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off for 4 minutes, come on kids… burn those calories! We pretend we are animals for 20 seconds at a time. This also helps for turn taking and quick thinking. At each whistle one of the kids picks an animal and everyone acts like it until the whistle blows again, then the next kid picks an animal. This is really good for weight bearing through the extremities as they crawl and slither around the floor and it gives Molly the proper input and help her calm down and keep her from full body slamming Charlie. I strongly recommend playing this game before making dinner. This helps change things up as the kids are getting bored and need something to do and it also helps give them the attention they crave before you need to disappear. It’s amazing how much can get accomplished if you give the kids your undivided attention. This game only backfires when someone chooses “horsey” and then everyone wants a horsey ride. Then you are the only one working on all 4s. What’s great is that this game allows for a lot of variety, not feeling animals today?? That’s ok, we sometimes do actual exercises: jumping jacks, squats, push ups. or running laps. You can really do any activity you want for this, the possibilities are endless.

There are a ton of free tabata apps on the phone, I use the HIIT app for Android. It’s Free and it’s easy enough to use that Molly has figured out how to use it so they can do it while I cook.

I Love You Too

I heard these words tonight and I started to cry. These are not often words that are uttered from Molly to us. She usually responds to our numerous “I love you” declarations with blank stares or non-sequitors. (oh, you love me? Let me tell you about dinosaurs) It’s not that she doesn’t love us, it’s just that she lacks either the verbal or emotional skill to tell us. Everything we go through with her, this is probably the hardest one to deal with. It breaks my heart on a daily basis that my devotions go unrequited vocally.
I understand that she loves us, I can tell from her actions that she does. I saw how she glowed and held my hand the day I volunteered in preschool, I know her constant devotion to being by my side and her insistence of my one on one attention are all forms of love. I know this, but sometimes I need to hear it. And tonight I did. It took about a dozen “I love you” utterances from me and my telling her that the response is “I love you too” but when she opened her bedroom door to tell me that she loved me, I didn’t care about the fact that I forced my need on to her because I got what I needed to hear. I’m set for the next 6 months until I force it out of her again.