Saturday, February 28, 2009

Playing: Volume 1

Putting together and playing with his street "train" tracks

Friday, February 27, 2009

Run Around, Run Around, Run Around

Fun Video Friday

After being stuck in the house one rainy day, Parker had to let out that toddler energy somehow!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Confessions of a Mad Mother

I have to admit everyone's right. Being a parent is the hardest thing I've ever done in my life. I've learned so much about myself these past couple of years; some things I like, many I don't. I feel like I need therapy now, but I can't afford it, so I'm trying the next best thing: writing and sharing with family and friends.

This past year has been really tough for me as a parent. Parker started tantrums early, around one year of age, and they've continued to escalate. My health has been all over the place with my thyroid issues and my injured back and I've been using those things to excuse my number one issue right now: rage. Since my health has been stabilizing lately and the rage still comes once in awhile, I think there's more of an emotional aspect deep down that brings it out rather than a physical one. It doesn't come from thin air, it does need some provoking to come out, but still, I don't feel like I can excuse it anymore.

Monday, as an example, Parker wanted to go outside to watch Dada's truck come home. Since he didn't fall asleep during his quiet time, I thought it would be best to get his bath done early to be prepared for an early bedtime. I told him we could go out to meet Dada's truck if he took a really quick bath first. Of course, getting him in the bath is a struggle, but we managed OK. Then, once he was in, he was having a lot of fun and didn't want to come out. I explained to him that if he wanted to meet Dada's truck in time, he'd have to come out. He didn't seem to care, so I let it go for awhile and let him play some more. Long story short, it finally clicks in his head that he wants to see Dada's truck, but by that time I knew Jake would be home soon and we wouldn't have time so I told him that unfortunately because he didn't get out when I asked, he wouldn't get to see Dada's truck. He started crying and throwing a huge fit and refused to get out of the tub (at this point the tub was empty, thank goodness). With my back hurting, I didn't want to just reach in there and pull him out unless I absolutely had to. With him sitting there wailing, ignoring any reasoning I tossed his way, I could feel the anger creeping up and up and I knew I needed to step away for a minute, but I couldn't. I was afraid he'd get hurt if I left him alone. So of course I didn't leave. I opened up the bathroom door thinking if he got cold enough he would want to get out. It didn't work, he just wailed on and on, nothing I said hitting home. Then it happened, I lost all control. I dragged him out and gave him a whack on his bottom, which surprised him but of course didn't help with the crying. As much as I didn't enjoy doing it, I do admit I wanted to hit him. I was so angry at him for being so stubborn, for being good only when he gets things his way, for being EXACTLY LIKE ME! The spanking event ruined my night and I stressed about it the rest of the evening. I stayed up late mulling it over, and woke up early mulling it over.

I know anyone who spends enough time with me knows this without my saying, but I am an anal control freak. I think to some extent I've always known that about myself, but I never realized how much of one I was and how much it negatively affects others until I became a mother. Honestly I can't even stand myself sometimes. I hear things coming out of my mouth and I wish I could just duct tape it shut. I wish there were really such a thing as a chill pill that I could take. I don't handle stress well. My reasoning shuts down and I do and say things that even I don't understand.

So I'm trying to be open and honest about my rage problem. I don't believe in spanking in general. Growing up with it, I don't think it really works, and it was not in my parenting plan (there I go again, needing to follow a plan) to use it. But I know that if someone chooses to use spanking as discipline, it needs to come from a calm, in-control place, not one of anger. There's a fine line between spanking and abuse, and that line is easily crossed when one is in road rage mode. I know all this, but I let it happen anyway.

I truly think the anger comes from disliking myself, from doubting myself as a wife and mother. I always want to excel at everything. I've always set the bar high for myself from getting good grades to working hard, etc. You'd think that working hard would be enough to make me feel proud of myself, but I also want to see good results from my hard work. It drives me crazy that I can do things "by the book" and it won't work on Parker (like napping). It upsets me when I spend hours working on a meal only to have it turn out barely edible. I feel like I need to have the place in tip top shape when the hubby gets home because that's my share of the work load, and when I have those days when it just doesn't happen because I either felt like crap or had a hard day with Parker, I feel guilty... and then I feel angry for feeling guilty.

When I go through these things, I start having flashbacks of my childhood. I don't want to say my parents were bad parents, but I do think there was a lot of dysfunction and in general, quite a few scary things that happened. I don't want it to be like that for Parker. I'm so afraid I'm going to damage him and he's going to grow up resenting or hating me. I know I'm not the only mommy who worries about this, but I can't help feeling a little bit alone in all of this sometimes.

But seeing as how this is supposed to be Thankful Thursday, I do want to end my Therapy Thursday (haha) on a more positive note:

*I'm thankful Parker and I had an awesome time together on Tuesday... he slept in late, took an almost two hour nap, and went down easily for bed (let's not discuss Wednesday).
*I'm thankful I was able to sit down last weekend and get three weeks of blogs done (excluding my Thankful Thursdays).
*I'm thankful Parker woke up talking two times this week instead of crying.
*I'm thankful for my son's sense of humor (yes, I'm a piggy and I also smell like monkey balls).
*I'm thankful my hubby has taken over bedtime with Parker. I get to say goodnight and Jake gets to stay in with Parker and make up all the awful[ly great] stories while I get a head start on me time. Parker goes down without a peep almost every night now. I remember my Dad telling us stories and reading us books before bed. I think it's precious Parker is going to have those memories, too.
*I'm thankful for my little sister's comments on our blogs :), and...
*I'm thankful knowing there will come a day when I can look back on this time and miss it fondly.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Kleenex Box Hat

Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Going Bananas

Big boy eating his food without needing it cut up!

They're brothers from a different mother.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Wii and Rock Band

As many of you who are friends with me on Facebook already know, Parker and I recently took a trip to L.A. to spend time with Sara and Christine. Sara bought a house there last year and has fixed it up quite a bit already. Christine brought Rock Band for the Wii gaming system and we all had a blast playing. This was my (and Parker's) first time playing on a Wii system. Not surprisingly, Parker loved the drums best. I preferred singing as it required the least amount of coordination and talent!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Parker's Birthday Party!

Finally, here are some pics (and a video) from the big day. Parker was so thrilled in the morning when Dada came back from the grocery store with the helium filled balloons. He went wild playing with them until guests arrived. I was so involved with getting things ready that I completely forgot about taking pictures of the decorations. Oops! Originally we planned to have the party at a local park, but it was raining pretty hard that morning so we squeezed into our little condo. Once the kids warmed up to each other, the place was buzzing and it was lots of fun. Thanks to everyone who made it! Parker, once again, was spoiled rotten with gifts.

Guests are arriving and playing

Opening Presents

Singing Happy Birthday

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Thankful Thursday

I'm grateful to have spent more time with old friends this week.
I'm grateful that I can finally say I've played a Wii.
I'm grateful that Parker has taken three naps this week that were over 2 hours.
I'm grateful that Parker isn't sick anymore.
I'm grateful for my health.
I'm grateful for my husband lending an ear and giving me his common sense advice when I can't think things through alone.
I'm grateful for "quiet" time even when Parker can't fall asleep for his nap (like today). And I'm especially grateful that tonight Parker will have an early bedtime.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Birthday Frosting Whisk

Wordless Wednesday

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Thankful Thursday: Something a Little Different

I'm feeling a little wordy this week and I thought I'd write out some rambling grateful thoughts today rather than a simple bullet list.

I'm grateful for a large tax return coming our way! We were not expecting such a large sum. Such a load off our shoulders! 2008 was our first full year of me staying at home and every month our budget belt was pulled tighter and tighter. Adding money to our savings was just not happening, and our chances of ever buying a home seemed to be getting slimmer and slimmer. Now that home prices have dropped so dramatically, we are again hopeful that we will get to dip our toes in home ownership and have even taken a look at some places already. This return is going straight to our savings account to help with the house down payment we've been trying desperately not to spend.

On a whole different subject, some days I am so grateful that I'm a woman. This is going to sound offensive to you men reading this, isn't it? Don't get me wrong, I feel like I found one of the "good" guys in my husband, and I know there are plenty out there, but overhearing some of the conversations men have makes me feel just a little ill (OK, I know I can say the same thing for plenty of women, too, but still). For example, Parker and I were eating at Taco Bell and a man about my age was talking on his cell phone. Apparently he owned a plumbing company and one of his drivers had cut off and flipped off a woman who, understandably angry, called the number on the truck and reached the aforementioned guy in Taco Bell. He spoke to the woman and gave her a story about how sorry he was and how the driver wasn't doing well and was on the cusp of being fired. Then he calls and speaks to the driver and laughs about it and asks him if the "chick" was hot (''cause she sounded hot"). Maybe I'm just getting too old to have a sense of humor about the whole thing. I mean, I am friends with a few guys whom I can imagine having this same conversation and I don't consider them to be bad people. Even still, a part of me couldn't help being bothered by it just a little. As I said earlier, at least it made me feel a little more grateful for my genetic make-up!

This week I'm also especially grateful that even though Parker is growing up, I still get that wow feeling everyday and am amazed by his antics and words. It's such an awesome experience to watch someone grow and learn new things every day. Some things this week that just hit that aww spot:

1) As most of you know, Jake took a trip to San Francisco for work not too long ago. We drove him and his co-worker (whom Parker calls Noni Toni) to the airport to see them off. Now this week, every time Parker sees an airplane either in the sky or in a picture, he always talks about Dada going in an airplane. Yesterday he asked, "Dada go in airplane today? And Noni Toni, too?" It was so cute.

2) I love that he knows how to negotiate things out of me. I mean, yes, we started this with him so why can't he turn the tables on us? For example, in order to help avoid tantrums, we'll often set out a timer and let him know he has such and such amount of time left before he has to move on to another task. And he also gets timed time outs (which we haven't had too many of lately, thank goodness). So now every time he wants something (like to pretend to drive my car) he ends the question with "two minutes, please mama?" How can I say no when he's being so reasonable?

Parker "driving" my car (or as he calls it "turn turning")

Jake when he was a baby, driving his Grandpa's car

3) It's also nice that Parker knows certain rules and it's even nicer when he follows them. Just a couple of examples: a) We live upstairs so every time we leave the house he knows he has to stand against the wall and wait for me to lock the door before we head downstairs. b) He saw me shaking the OJ before I poured it for him one day and then he thought that it would be a good idea to start shaking his cup. A few days of dealing with that and threatening to take the juice cup away, I decided to try a new tactic. I got down to his level before giving him the cup and asked him to repeat after me, "Mama, I will not shake my cup." It worked! Now I try to do that every time before giving him his cup to remind him and he always finishes the sentence before I can. He sticks to his word, too!

4) He still notices things that I don't (or I wouldn't expect him to). He's been doing this for a long time, but it still doesn't cease to impress me. Yesterday, for example, he wanted some Apple Crisps (freeze dried apples). I took down the big box from the fridge and he said something about the apple crisps being in my room. Then he proceeded to bring me to my room and point out an old box that I had saved and put up behind my dresser to reuse later. He wasn't around when I put it there, so he must have wandered by one day and noticed it.

5) He is starting to grasp the idea of plurals. I know this because he has created his own plurals where they need not be (as kids often do). Fishes and teethes. Too funny!

6) About a week ago I noticed he put together his Thomas train track by himself. It was mostly put together, just a few pieces out of place. Usually I put it together for him in the morning so he can play with it. This particular day I forgot and I was on the computer while he played and when I was done I started walking past his train track and did a double take. I knew it was his work because one of the pieces was upside down showing the street side (but it was still together)! It's hard to tell by this picture, but the upside down piece is in the area closest to the camera, one of the small straight parts. It has a street on that side rather than the grooved train track.

I'm sure I've mentioned this before, but this week I am especially grateful for music and Parker's love of it. Any time I'm having a hard time keeping him happy while I'm getting ready for the day or working on any task that he can't help me with, I've found that if I put some music on, he will play happily for a long time. His mood changes drastically. I still remember when I was a kid and our parents would put music on on the weekends and we'd all just hang out and play and dance in the living room. Fun times!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Birthday Week: Volume 3, Cool Truck

Look at another gift from Auntie Sarah! Parker went so wild playing with this the night of his birthday. For two hours straight he was crawling around in it and talking so excitedly about it. Since it was his birthday, I decided that I would let him play and instead of making him eat dinner at the table I sat in the truck with him and helped him eat. I try not to spoil him, but it was a special occasion, after all!

Look through the moon roof... Dada's in the back!

The following day he drove me everywhere in it. I sat in the back and asked him to take me places. Each time he'd make a driving sound while turning the wheel and then stop, look back and say (in Parkenese, of course) "here we are at the _____!" He took me to the beach, to Target, to Grandma and Grandpa's house, to the park, to restaurants - you name it, we were there!

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