Friday, November 6, 2015

All you need is....

A few weeks ago Peanut threw the mother of all tantrums. She was kicking me, punching me, screaming and sobbing. This little pint sized girl was trying any and every way to get her every way.

She had thrown a few more tantrums than normal lately, and nothing had worked. Time outs, Time ins, taking toys away, making apologies, etc. I was done. Fed up. Had it. My sweet little girl would turn into a terror with merely a shake of my head.

This time, I carried her to her room - kicking and punching the whole way - and calmly sat her on her bed. She screamed to get out, to get up, and I very calmly told her that she would stay right there until she stopped screaming and punching, and then I would be back to talk to her.

I walked out her door to just down the hall. I almost immediately heard her sniffling her tears in, trying to calm down, so I went back into her room and sat on the bed next to her.

"Sometimes, when I get upset, I just need one thing to make me feel better." I said to her. "Do you know what that is?"

She looked up at me, tears still rapidly dripping. "No. What?"

"A hug."

She kept looking at me, tears slowing down, eyes wide.

 "Do you think you need a hug?" I asked.

She nodded and leaned into me. I hugged her. I could feel her little body quivering from the raw emotion of her tantrum, her breaths ragged and gasping.

I kept hugging her. We didn't talk. I didn't lecture. We just sat there and hugged. I could feel her anxiety and my frustration slip away as we just held each other, mother and daughter.

She whispered into my arm. "I'm sorry I hit you, Mommy."

It was only then that we talked about actions and emotions, apologies and anger. Words that can't be taken away and actions that hurt others physically and emotionally. We talked about loving each other unconditionally.

It felt good. For once I felt that she was listening to me, and that I was listening to her, rather than just doling out punishment. I told her that her actions were unacceptable, that hitting and screaming were disrespectful and not allowed. I asked her what she thought a proper punishment for her actions should be.

She started to tear up again, but said solidly,"You should take away my barbies until I can be more respectful." And she grabbed her box o'Barbies to put in my room.

"Except this one. You don't need to take Chelsea." she said as she grabbed Barbie's littlest sister. I let her keep her. She was respectful the rest of the day and next. All her Barbies eventually went back to her room with Chelsea.

Yesterday, Peanut woke up cranky from her nap, frustrated with everything. Her blanket wasn't on her feet right. She didn't like grapes any more . She wanted a different snack. She was cold. She was bored. She wanted to play a board game, but no, no no, not that board game. No, no that one either. The list kept going on, until I finally threw up my hands and told her I didn't know what she needed right now.  She started crying and said,"I just need a hug, Mommy. Please can I have a hug?"

I hugged her.

Hugs are band-aids for aching hearts, a balm for hurt feelings. They can heal faster than any medicine.

Sometimes I forget that my smart, social girl is only four. With all her independence and spirit, I forget that she is just a little girl, learning her way in this world. It shouldn't have taken me this long to realize it, but sometimes all she needs is a hug.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

I am thankful for my children.

I've been dealing with some super entitled, ungrateful children lately (and I have no one to blame but myself), so we have spent a lot of time lately talking about thankfulness. What we have, what others have. How we can help those around us, and what we really need vs. what we want.

Apparently, ungratefulness is not uncommon in this age range, and I am incredibly thankful (you see what I just did there?) to a friend of mine who posted a review for the book, 'The Me, Me, Me Epidemic' by Amy McCready. I'm only 1/5 of the way through, but I keep looking over my shoulder for the person is writing exactly about my life.

They aren't bad kids; they are very egocentric, as most are at the ages of 4 and 6, and always seem to want more. More toys, more books, more video game time and more snacks. They are very aware, at the same time, that there are people out there with a lot less than we have (less home, less toys, less food) and they love putting together more 'Blessings Bags' to pass out to the homeless and seeing all the goodies we bought for the food bank.  To further emphasize the giving to others,  I thought I would let Peanut sort through her own toys to find those she could donate.

I sat with her in her room to help, and she asked me, "Can I have a box to put all the toys for boys and girls that don't have any?"

Of course you can, I thought, grabbing a big plastic hamper, hoping that the bigger it was, the more she would give.

Her mighty donation pile

Why, yes, that is one small etch a sketch and the top 1/2 of a mermaid barbie.

This is only the playroom stuff....don't get me started on the Barbies in her room!

I think I will go over this donation thing with her one more time. I am positive I can find enough to fill that basket. And more.

Monday, November 2, 2015


The pumpkins were lopsided, bruises turned towards the back. Sharpie marks showed on the front where the cutting wasn't quite even with the design.

We ran out of candy before 8 pm. Mostly because we told Peanut she could choose how much candy to give trick-or-treaters, and she took us at our word. She dumped it in by the bucketful.

Peanut lost her Belle tiara at the school carnival Friday night, so we had to improvise on Halloween night with a red rose instead. She also pulled an audible on going with Belle in the first place, as I had bought her both the Anna (from Frozen) dress and Ariel dress she just had to have, oh I need it so bad, pretty please, please please please. 

Bjorn only wanted a red light saber to go with last years Darth Vadar costume he wanted to wear again. Unfortunately, he had grown quite a bit this past year, and I don't think Darth Vadar's wore capri pants. Five days before Halloween, I headed to the big box store and grabbed the last StormTrooper they had.

It was a perfect Halloween.

Bjorn was quite hilarious on Halloween night. While Peanut passed out candy, he patrolled our front sidewalk, Storm Trooper gun in hand. He just walked up and down, up and down, in perfect character.

Our neighborhood had what seemed like hundreds of trick or treaters. They came to the porch in droves, dozens at a time. We walked the small 'loop' around our home, which only took an hour or so. But almost every single home had their front porch light on. It was a trick or treater's heaven. Door after door of candy and toys, with no dissapointing dark house to walk past. It was awesome.  By the end of the loop, I asked both kids if they wanted to head to another street, and they both said no, wanting to play at the neighbors house and pass out candy instead. Fifteen minutes into passing out candy, we ran out. Without a pause, Bjorn immediately lifted up his own candy bag and dumped handful after handful of candy into the bowl to pass out. I love his tender heart.

The lopsided pumpkin was the one Bjorn specifically picked out, wanting it over all the other perfect round ones. After looking in the Jack o Lantern book at all the intricate faces he could carve, he said, "Nope. I want to draw my own. I know exactly what I should put on it." And he did. It looked exactly as a Jack o Lantern should!

The school carnival was a whirlwind of bounce houses, ring tosses, Haunted Houses and seeing friends. Peanut is the most social little girl I know, and kept running up to kids, both her age and older. "Hi friend!" she would shout, giving a big hug.  She did the same to teachers and parents. Everyone knew her, and she was in her prime, waving like the princess she thinks she is. Bjorn spent the first half of the night wrestling with one of his BFs in a bounce house, and the second half of the night playing football and basketball. It was a perfect night.

I forgot to make the kids their special halloween snacks and mummy quesadillas. I ran out of time to make handprints in the shape of ghosts and witches. I didn't make a family costume as I had hoped, but picked up store-bought ones straight from the shelf. My pictures will never make it onto pinterest.

Twice Peanut told me that this was "the best Halloween night ever".

She was right. They are only so little for so long, and they both had such a wonderful Halloween. I think they truly enjoyed every bit of it. So, it wasn't everything I had wanted it to be. It was more. It was perfect.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

A Skirt for Ken

Peanut is obsessed with Barbies. (And Shopkins and My Little Pony and anything super girly and pink and purple with glitter on top.)

It's completely my fault, as I accepted some Barbies from a friend thinking "Oh yes, she might like these someday" and then I bought her a big huge Barbie house for her birthday.

She spends all day asking me to play Barbies. Have you ever played Barbies with a four year old? It is constantly taking off sparkly little jean jackets, putting on sparkly little dresses and being told that 'Barbie doesn't say that' and 'No, she doesn't like to sit on that chair, she likes sitting on this one'.

I'm in Barbie playing hell.

So I jump for joy when our little neighbor girl comes over to play with Peanut and I get a reprieve from the pink glitter. I have often thought of texting her mom just to say "Can A please come over? I need a break from my kids."

The last time they played together, I overheard them arguing over Ken.

"Peanut!" laughed A, "You can't put a skirt on Ken! Boys don't wear skirts!"

"Yes, they do." Peanut said indignantly.

"No they don't! Boys don't wear skirts."

They argued back and forth a few times until Peanut got mad.

"Yes they do!" Peanut shouted. "Boys DO wear skirts. My Uncle Junction wears a skirt!"

I couldn't help but laugh. Kilt, Peanut. It's called a kilt. 

Monday, August 24, 2015

Living with a 6 year old

What it's like to live with a 6 year old. 

One day you see this on his door: 

No moms and no sisters allowed. 

The next day he does this: 

He wanted to have them protect me while I sleep. 

Half sweet. Half sour. Part independent. Part little boy. Such is life with a 6 year old. 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

So hot you could fry an egg on the sidewalk

If you've been following the national weather channel, you would know that Phoenix is about to burst into flames. Day after day of record breaking heat. The pools feel like bathwater, opening your front door is like opening the oven door, and - according to one of my neighbors in her golf cart - the breeze is not a breeze at all, but really a blast of air from your hair dryer.

It's hot, people.

After my candles melted on my back patio, we decided it was hot enough to try other experiments.

Is it really hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk?

Bjorn with his eggs.

We laid out a spot for three different eggs to see how they would cook. A sheet of aluminum foil in one spot, a Calphalon pan in another, and a spray down of PAM on the sidewalk next to those.

Sooo, the one on the sidewalk got a little messy. Oops.

Bjorn cracked the egg on the sidewalk, and in the pan. Peanut and I cracked onto the aluminum foil.

Then we sat back and waited.

And waited.

And waited.

See, nothing happened. There was no sizzle. No bubbling of edges, or smell of cooking eggs. There were just three eggs sitting on our back patio and two kids complaining about how how it is.

Bjorn and I watched the eggs for 5 minutes, but with nothing happening, and it being 116 degrees outside, we set an alarm to check them in ten minutes. Bjorn went back inside to his Wii games, and I continued our man cave wall project.

Ten minutes later, nothing had changed. Not one piece of the egg looked cook. We set the alarm for 15 minutes this time.

30 minutes had passed since we cracked the eggs. We found that nothing had changed on the pan and aluminum foil eggs.

The one on the sidewalk HAD cooked, but not in a good way. It was thick and gooey, but no longer runny. I scraped it off the ground, a pile of bright yellow clumps.


It wasn't dramatic, but that's science for you. It's not always a POOF! of air and something amazing happens. It did seem, though, that you COULD actually cook an egg on the sidewalk. Not one you would want to eat, mind you, but one that was cooked.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

The First Week of School

Four days ago, both my children started school.

Yes, BOTH of them.

Bjorn began first grade, no longer the "baby" of the school. Kindergarten had its own playground, an enclosed small playground with a jungle gym, sand toys and tricycles. First grade gets to play in the big playground with the rest of the grades. This playground also has a jungle gym, but has basketball hoops, tether ball and soccer.

But its not all about the playground. (Although if you ask him, it might be!)

I can drop him off at the gate to the school, and he can go to the playground all by himself, dropping his backpack off along the way. He knows now, after being at that school all last year, that he gets to go to a different "special" each day (like music, art, computers). He is especially excited about tomorrow, Friday, because he gets to go to the special that he chose. At the tender age of 6, in first grade, he was able to choose his own elective. From the likes of yoga, baseball, life science and media tech, he chose STEM - an engineering oriented class using building blocks, Legos and Hot Wheels. It is perfect for him.

He is in class with most of his friends from last year, and the ones in the other class he still gets to see at lunch, recess and after-school playdates. He has asked to start flag football this year, so in two weeks I will sign him up for it, in the hopes that he will enjoy it, but will decide he likes baseball or soccer better. Flag football leads to real football, and there is something about my little boy being tackled, or tackling others, that I don't like. Sigh.  And me being from Texas, you would think I would be overjoyed! I just worry about his smart little brain getting hurt. At least for 6 year olds, it is still just flag football.

 Peanut began full day preschool. We drop her off at her classroom, Princess lunchbox in pretty pink backpack, at the same time we take Bjorn. We pick her up at her class the same time as him, too. All day she goes to school.

The first day, I worried. Would she cry? Would she hang onto my leg? Would she throw one of those huge Peanut size tantrums she is prone to lately?

I shouldn't have given it another thought. She dropped her water bottle off at the water station, lunchbox in lunch wagon, and folder in the homework area. She hung up her Owl backpack given to her by her GodMother alongside three Frozen and one Transformer backpack, and she headed to the play area with her friends.  Yes, friends. At open house we discovered that a girl in Bjorn's class also had a little sister in Peanut's. And they are fast friends already, with Peanut coming home to tell me stories of "Oh, P said this in class today" and "I love playing with E. She is just so funny!".

It makes me so happy to see her so involved. Today we dropped her off at school and had to practically beg her for a hug and kiss before she ran off to play. She wanted to just wave us off with a quick 'Bye!' I'm happy she is glad to be there, but my heart aches at my youngest being in school full time.

She is in full time because of my job, because we need her watched three days a week while I work. But I really thought I would only send her when I work, and keep her home with me, doing the things we had done together before. But after she has been in school, I don't think she wants to stay home with me, grocery shopping and going to the gym. I'm sure she would want to stay home if I let her watch movies all day, or if we went to museums or Bounce house places. But that won't be everyday. Most days we would be doing the normal hanging out, errands that happen from day to day. I think she would rather be at school with her friends, playing.

So, I may keep her home more often. I may send her to school. But right now, in this first week, I'm a little sad (and at the same time, impressed and proud) at how easily she leaves us to grow up to go to school. This week I have taken a little more time to make coming home in the afternoon an exciting time for all of us as well - board games, coloring, Barbie playing, Lego building. I have taken the days when they are at school to get all the not-fun adult things done (bills, groceries, mopping). I have also begun writing more. With all this free time while they are both in school, I don't want to waste it. I will make the most of every minute. Much like they are doing at school.

My two small big kids. I am truly starting to feel the ache of them growing up and away, and I also understand now what I was told when I was in the throes of young motherhood, handling a needy toddler and stubborn baby at the same time. "The days are long, but the years are short."  Yes. Yes, they are.

Happy first week of school, my big littles. May you form friendships that will last a lifetime, learn lessons that will make you braver, and find the courage to try new things. May you know that I will always be there to pick you up when you have fallen, to walk beside you when you need strength, and to hold your hand when you need comfort.