Monday, March 25, 2013

I'm Up For The Challenge (I Think)...

While I was browsing through Facebook this morning, I noticed an article that a friend of mine shared.  It was titled, "10 Things I Learned When I Stopped Yelling At My Kids".  The author, The Orange Rhino, wrote about how she made a promise to her 4 young sons to go 365 days without yelling.  The author learned many things about herself, such as 1)My kids are my most important audience, 2)I can't always control my kids' actions, but I can control my reaction, 3)Two words you should always remember are "at least" (as in even though xxx happened, at least yyy didn't happen), & 4)Yelling doesn't work. 

I got to thinking, if she can do it, why can't I??  Of course when I do something, I can't just do the simple (as if not yelling at your children for an entire year is an easy task), I have to be more specific.  I have to give it my all. And I need support of all those around me (or at least as many as possible). 

Here is my challenge that will begin one week from today. You may ask, why not start TODAY?  The answer lies in the fact that next Monday is April1st, the beginning of a new month.  This gives me one week to share with people whose support I need.  This gives me one week to begin to practicing my specifics (especially for #1-yes, there is more than one thing I will be doing). Besides, starting this on April Fools Day is just a fun little perk.  My challenge for myself will go for 9 months: April 1, 2013-December 31, 2013. 

* I will not use the word "no" with my children; I will find positive ways to say negative things to them.  Have no fear, they will still know when they are in trouble; I would just like to avoid the word "no" for 9 months.

*I will make it a point to have go on a date with my husband two times a month.  Whether it is an actual Date Night or meeting up for lunch, we need to make us a priority.  If this means putting things on a calendar & finding a sitter for the kids, then so be it.

*I will do something for me.  More specifically, I will begin working out again.  Since coming down with mono in early February, I have been under  doctor's orders to rest as much as possible, & this means NO WORKOUTS for me!  I have put on some weight that I am NOT proud of, & training for a half marathon in early May has been tossed out the window.  Early this morning, I went in for another blood draw, & fingers crossed, I can start working out again soon.  Even if I can't do full workouts, I know that I can get on the treadmill & walk (I mean how much exercising while I'm sitting at the computer each day?).

I will spend the remainder of this year doing something extra for my children, something extra for my marriage, & something extra for me.  You may already do these in your life & I applaud you.  These challenges are to hold me accountable for some of the bad habits that I've slipped into. 

I have a feeling that at the very least, this challenge is going to present some insights into myself.  Who can't stand to learn a few things about themselves?

If I learn nothing about myself, then I suppose I will have some new & interesting things to share with you in blog posts to come, won't I??

Saturday, March 23, 2013

You Say Sarcasm, We Say Sassiness...

Here in Sassy World, every family member has had the title of Sassy Pants at one time or another.  I'd say that the Girl is the Princess of Sass, because somewhere in her gene pool lurks the Queen of Sassy.  If you must know, as a child, I was NOT sassy.  Seriously.  No really, I was a crybaby Mama's Girl.  My very own Mom was a bit of a rebel, so we will say that it was passed down from HER side of the family.  If you want to talk about little nuggets of sarcasm, then I MIGHT claim the title.  Okay, the sarcasm is directed at my children via my Facebook and blog posts, but it's sarcasm just the same. MIGHT be directed at a lady whom we call Play date Mom (PDM for short), or for some other clueless person that Sassy Family may or may not need to educate.  Don't worry if you don't know who PDM is, I have plenty of reality tv real life experiences to share, but not today. 

Examples of sassiness in our house:
"Stop it right now or I'm sticking your head in the toilet!"
"Eww, he's trying to lick your butt!"

"Quit being stupid!"
"If you put your nose in my armpit again, I'm going to chop your head off!"
"I'd like you to have another baby; it should be a girl; and I'd like you to name her Lola."
"If you let me eat cookies for breakfast, I'll give you a quarter for the cart at Aldis."
"When you aren't here, Daddy let's us eat ice cream, candy, and Doritos."
"You just don't know what it's like to live in MY head!"
"When I grow up & live in my own house, I'm going to lock all the doors so that YOU can't get in Mom!"

And my favorite from the day the the Boy & the Girl discovered that their teenage brother had armpit hair:
"I am SO GLAD that I am a girl.  I don't think that I would like to grow hair THERE!"  (I just smiled & nodded my hair at her.  My husband & I didn't want to ruin the surprise for her).

Thursday, March 21, 2013

We Don't Have Time For You, Miss Braggy Braggerton McBraggypants

I try to be a good Mom.  I try to be a good wife.  I try to be a good daughter, friend, employee, citizen, & any other title you throw my way.  I love to share experiences about our little lives.  On occasion Often times, I will share more than you would like to hear; I am honest about this fact.  I am not going to pretend to be someone that I'm not.  I am not going to pretend that my children are someones that they aren't.  You can take us or leave us.

So why do the OAM's have to ruin it for the rest of us.  The OAM's are the Overachieving Mom's who have & do it all.  Their children are perfect.  Their children can do no wrong.  Everything is everyone else's fault.  They pin & do every craft on Pinterest.  They actually move their Elf on the Shelf in the days leading up to Christmas.  They schedule play dates for their older children for the day after they get home from giving birth to their 2nd perfect child.  They bake everything from scratch.  Their children are involved in & are the best at every activity they do.  Perfectly manicured nails?  You betcha.  Hair in place, with perfect highlights & low lights?  Of course!  Where did they come from??

Let me say this:  I have friends who do the crafts & cook the foods that they've pinned, & I love these women.  I think their Elf on the Shelf ideas rock; I didn't buy mine until AFTER Christmas this year (you know there is going to be something different now that we have one at our house).  Yes, my friend did plan a play date for her older son for the day after she got home from giving birth to her younger daughter; she's also 15 years younger than me, & I say all the more power to her (she just doesn't know how to sit still).  I too, bake from scratch, it's just not done on a regular basis.  I'm glad their children are involved in lots of extracurricular activities; it just wouldn't work in our house.  Mani/pedi's???  YES, YES, YES!!!!  I receive gift certificates, & I only go every three weeks.  I could live without this if I had to.  No really, I could.

These regular people are not OAM's, though.  They are regular people, living regular lives.  It's the one's who feel that they must brag about every. single. thing. their children do.  While I'm busy wiping my youngest butt because he finally got this potty training thing down, their child can ask to go potty in 4 different languages.  While I am trying to sort through toys to keep, toss, or donate, her family has gone to some foreign country over their 4 day weekend to help build homes for the underprivileged.  While my friends & I were having our monthly Taco Night at 9:00pm (after kiddos were in bed), she & her friends were having a Girls Weekend in Cabo, while their nannies took their children on a shopping spree to FAO Schwartz. 

These are the Mom's who like to look down their noses at those of us who are living a real life.  If you think I am making up the above scenarios, you would be half right.  I have met people who have done some of these things.  I try not to judge, because I don't know their whole story.  Nor would I trade places with them for a million bucks; they've got problems just like we do; just on a different level.  I can choose to ignore them.  Or not follow their blogs.  Or not be their Facebook friend.  I can smile at them & say nothing, then carry on with my life.

Then I can vent & be a tad bit snarky in my not so perfect blog.  Yep, that's what I'll do.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

She Was Kind Of Weird, & Not In A Funny Way....

"I hate you!"  "You are so mean!"  "I wish I could live someplace else!"  "You never let me do anything!"  "I have to do everything!"

Those are things that at least one of my children hollers on a regular basis.  Pick & choose they say.  Pick & choose your battles.  We do not put up with backtalk in this house.  But I do know that we have to take the context of what is being said into account.  Like the time we were getting ready to leave for the grocery store & I asked Little Boy to try to go potty before we left.  He threw himself on the floor & shouted, "I have to everything, it's not fair!"  I was like, "What in the world?!?"  I didn't think that being asked to go potty was a situation that would elicit such a response.  He'd heard the Girl howl that one many times, & I guess that's how he felt he needed to respond. 

I've said it before & I'll say it again, I am so thankful that I know where I stand with my children.  No....we are not raising a crew of brats who don't know respect.  However, the fact that they aren't afraid to speak their mind makes it easier to know how to correct a situation & turn it into a teachable moment.  If they kept everything bottled up I am sure I'd have to really wrack my brain to pull the thoughts & words out into daylight.  I want my children to know that they can come to us anytime.  I want them to know that they do not have to be afraid to tell us anything.  We'll work out the kinks before we release them into the big wild world.  Hopefully in the end, we'll find that we've done one or two things right.

As a Mom, it is hard to know that I have to trust others with my children.  I want to protect my kids from any unkind words that someone else may throw their way.  We let go & trust teachers, coaches, scout leaders, & other caregivers.  I know that I can't be by their sides all the time but gosh, no one knows my kiddos like I do.

Thursday night I was in the gymnasium of the Y that I work at, teaching a Family Fitness class.  The Girl was in swim lessons, & the boy was across the hall playing video games in the game zone room until it was time for his swim lessons.  I trust the staff in every area at our Y, but I sometimes worry when the Boy is in this area.  Not because of the staff, they are fantastic, but because when I am teaching my class, this room gets more crowded than usual.  I have to kick the older teens out of the gym so that I can teach my class, which consists of parents/guardians & their children.  I worry about the noise bothering the Boy.  I worry about his interactions with the older children because they don't know him & his personality.  They don't know that he is so literal & concrete.  They don't know that when he asks for a turn & waits patiently for a turn & doesn't get it, he may have his world turned upside down.  He doesn't know that sometimes older kids don't want to share with younger kids.  They don't know that this may set him into a tailspin, & it could result in him having a meltdown that I get to deal with.

When it was time for the Boy to head downstairs to the pool for swim lessons, I had my friend M's daughters head down the hall to get him so they could walk downstairs together.  After a few minutes, M's son came running back into the gym saying, "some old lady is yelling at the Boy, & he looks really upset."  I had my group move on in their activity & excused myself for a moment so that I could check things out.  The Boy came flying down the hall, face as red as a beet, & tears were welled up in his eyes.  He looked at me & said, "I don't want to talk to you Mom.  Leave me alone." 

Leave him alone?!?!  Who did he think he was talking to??

The Boy has a few quirks that have been attributed to his Aspergers.  One of them is that his nose gets "bothered".  He often times feels that there is something in there, & being a kid, sticks his finger in there.  NOTHING comes out, but it bugs him to no end.  When we see it at home, or if his teacher sees it at school, he is reminded to go & wash his hands with soap & water, to help avoid the spreading of germs.  Well a lady was in the game zone with her grandchildren while they were playing the Wii.  The Boy was playing a game on the Wii as well.  Apparently, he had "one of his itchies" in his nose, so he did his thing then proceeded to pick up the game controller.  This woman went off on my child, calling him a "nasty boy", & stating that he needed to "get out".  By the time I got down the hall, I (kindly) asked what happened.  Everyone knew this was my child.  Except for this woman.  She started telling me that this "nasty behavior should be put up with".  I (kindly) informed her that this is my child & that at our Y we do NOT speak to children in this manner.  I informed her that in a situation like this, it would best to ask him to please wash his hands, and that we will NOT name call & demean a child or anyone else while in the Y.  I informed that we treat people with respect.  After all, "what if he has an illness or disability that you can't see with the naked eye?" 

The young man working in the game zone apologized to me, telling me that it happened so fast, that he didn't have a chance to intervene.  I wasn't worried.  I spoke my peace in a calm yet firm manner.  My Boy calmed down & went to swim lessons.  My Boy didn't cry, yell, grunt, fall to the floor & rock, or anything else that may have been deemed inappropriate.  He walked away from a situation that was uncomfortable.  Proud of my child?  You bet!! 

It wasn't until the next day at his doctors appointment that the Boy chose to talk about the situation.  He told his doctor & I, "That lady was mean, but I didn't have to be around her, so I left."

Then the Boy added, "she was kind of weird, & not in a funny way; I just hope she brushed her teeth when she got home, because her breath was hot & stinky."

Monday, March 4, 2013

Stepping Outside My Comfort Zone

When I share on my blog or on my FaceBook pages, 9 times out of 10 it's going to be about the silly &/or naughty thing that my children do.  As you know, the Girl is mouthy with her Momma & the rest of her family, Little Boy is ornery & wants everything that the older children have, & the Boy is equally as sassy as his sister.  As of late, you might think that when I write about the Boy it's all about Aspergers; of course there is so much more to this child.  The reason it may seem this way is because this diagnosis is still new to us, & we are learning so much about it (& him too).  I find that by sharing with you, I have a release.  I have also found several other Spectrum Parents via FaceBook who are going through many of the same things we are going through in our house.  It's always refreshing to know that others are dealing with some of the same issues.  It's always a nice feeling when you know that there is a wonderful support system, & that you are not alone.

My husband & I have been discussing whether or not we should share the Boy's diagnosis with him.  We know that he deserves to know why things are different for him: why he has a hard time with schoolwork, why he has meltdowns, why he gets overloaded with information, & why certain fabrics bug the crap out of him, to name a few.  We also know that this wonderful boy of ours is a manipulator; if we tell him the word "Aspergers", he will use it as an excuse to not do things when they get difficult.  We've decided to let him know that his brain processes information differently, & this is why he visits Dr. L (his psychologist) every 2 weeks, this is why he has things set a little differently in his classroom, that we want him to be comfortable in his environment so that he can succeed in every way possible.

Sometimes sitting down with him, I'm not sure if he's listening, so we will sometimes discuss things at mealtime, then the kids can absorb the information & we can revisit the topic later.  I chose to do that this morning, thinking that the Girl & Little Boy need to be a part of the conversation as well.

Rather than explain that his brain is different, I thought I'd approach the subject by talking about a "what if" scenario with them.  What if I had a pet zebra, but the former owner gave me a book about taking care of a whale?  Here's the conversation that followed:

**The Boy:  Mom, that wouldn't happen & you know it.  Zebras are not domesticated animals.  (yes, that's his 'concrete & real' coming through).
**Me:  Let's just pretend, okay?  What if someone gave us a pet zebra, but gave us an owners manual for a whale?  How would we know what to feed it, how to give it proper shelter, what would we do do comfort it if it was in pain, how would we give it a bath, & what kind of medical treatment might it need if it got hurt or sick?
**The Boy:  We could call the people who use to own it.
**Me:  We couldn't reach them by phone.

**The Boy: Send them a text or an email & tell them to get you the right owner's manual.
**Me:  They don't have email or texting on their phone.  What are we going to do?
**The Boy: We could go to the library & check out a book on taking care of zebras.
**Me: What if it was a holiday & the library was closed?
**The Boy:  I know, we could look it up on the Internet!
**Me:  What if our Internet was down?
**The Boy:  How about if we call Dr. Linda? (Dr. Linda is our dog's vet)

**Me:  What if we couldn't reach her?
**The Boy:  I guess we would have to love it & care for it the best we can until we got the right owner's manual or some other kind of information that would work for our zebra.  Can I go wash up & brush my teeth now?"

This my friends, is a discussion that we will revisit later.  For now I will take my son's advice: I will love all three of my little zebras (my Aspie & my 'neurotypicals'), and I will care for them as best I can....

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Pick A Chore, Any Chore....

"Doing chores is punishment!"  This is what the Girl shouted when we were looking at her new chore chart for the month of March.  "Doing chores is not punishment; they are a way for you to help out in this family".  Apparently she did not like this response, because I heard her grumble under her breath, "I'm going to find a NEW family."

My older two children have been doing chores of some sort or another since they were 2 & 3 years old.  Whether is was putting their toys away, taking laundry to the laundry room, sorting said laundry, taking trash can to the curb for trash day, or feeding the dog, they've always had some sort of responsibility around here.  Well now all of that stuff they used to do has a name: CHORES.  Now they grumble & whine when the mere mention of doing these things.

Want to know what my solution to that was??  I quit giving them chores.
Actually, I gave them more to do, with incentive.  We will not call it allowance; that will come later I'm sure.  Yes, I spent the better part of my day making, laminating, & cutting chores charts for each child.  We've got age appropriate tasks for each of them, with each task being assigned a point value.  If at the end of the week, they have a set upon number of points accumulated, they then get to choose a reward ticket.  If I catch them being good or going above & beyond at any point during the week, they may or may not receive a 'caught ya being good' ticket.  Since my older two are so competitive, I assigned some like chores & some different chores on their charts, with each of them having the potential points earned at the end of the week being a different number.  Hopefully, they will focus on their jobs and not worry about nosing into each others business.  I know that last part is probably wishful thinking, but hey, it's worth a try, isn't it?

Like with anything else, it won't work if we don't enforce it, so my husband has to be on board with this too.  He thinks it's kind of silly to have them earn prizes for jobs that we all should be doing to make the family unit run smoother (I paraphrased as Jeff does not talk like that).  However, he said that he will back me up if it means teaching  them to leave the nest so we can have some peace & quiet responsibilities for when they are grown up, then he will back me up. 

So, they've got their chore charts hung up on the wall, they've seen what the rewards that they can earn are (so bright & shiny, laminated on card stock), they are loving the fact that they can initial their charts when they have completed a task, & have been told if they grumble while doing their job, they get an "X", thus not earning their points for that task. 

At bedtime tonight, the Girl asked me if her chores would change.  I told her that we will change their charts each month.  I said, " you may keep some chores & you may have new ones added; it's all based on what responsibilities Daddy & I think you can & should be doing." 

She looked at me & asked, "what is your reward?"  I raised my eyebrow & asked, "MY reward?"  She said, "yeah, your reward; you do these chores all the time.  Where is your chart?"  I told her I don't have a reward chart, because I'm the Mommy. 

Her response??  "If that's part of the deal, then I'm not going to become a Mom.  Ever.  That's a ripoff!"