And How

Monday, August 29, 2011

Blessings in the Storm

We are finally home from a really exciting, but really exhausting vacation.  We combined a birthday trip for the two of us (which I will blog about later) with a trip home to visit family and BOY was it an eventful week!  Aside from the fun things we had planned, we (along with the rest of the East Coast) dealt with an earthquake at the beginning of last week (whose epicenter was about 30 miles outside of our home) and a hurricane toward the end.

When we left Virginia last Friday (the 19th), we had no idea of what we would be missing...and I'm so thankful for so many things.  I was thankful that the earthquake wasn't more powerful than a 5.8, thankful that no one I know was hurt, and most importantly, thankful that we weren't home (because Pack would have been on the road and I would have been home with the boys...FREAKING OUT!).  And an earthquake is a scary thing, not even taking into consideration all the aftershocks that have continued to happen.  The scary part for us was that we had no idea if anything inside our house was damaged.  We would have to wait to get home to find out (not a thing was out of place, by the way...thankful).

And then there was Irene...

When we left Virginia, we knew there was a tropical storm in the ocean and we knew it was probably going to make landfall, but we figured it would probably strike the coastal areas (of which we are not), so we didn't make a lot of serious preparations before we left.  Just the normal security type stuff.  Then, while we were in San Francisco, we learned that Virginia was going to be pretty hard hit and all my friends in Midlothian were making emergency preparations.  We were thankful once again that we weren't home and that our boys would be safe in South Carolina while we were in hurricane-free California.  I knew we had a lot of trees around our home, but there wasn't a whole lot we could do about it, so we just didn't dwell on the worst case scenario and spend the time sightseeing and enjoying our time.  Then, on Saturday my next-door-neighbor called and I knew it must be bad news.  They were in the thick of the storm and called to let us know that a tree from their yard had fallen onto Pack's work truck....which was parked in the driveway next to the house.  They couldn't be sure there wasn't any damage done to the house itself, so once again, we had to just wait it out and see.

Well, we got home today and once again, we were thankful.  The tree that fell crushed the windshield of Pack's truck, but there was hardly any damage anywhere else on the truck.  Thankful.  Our house was unscathed (minus the yard, which is a wreck).  Thankful.  We have awesome neighbors that pulled out their chainsaw and went to town on the tree with Pack to make sure it was going to be light enough to move safely.  Thankful.  About five other men (three of which, we hardly even know), spent part of their Monday afternoon, lifting the giant walnut tree off of the truck while I backed it out the driveway.  Super-thankful.  Although the windshield was shattered, there was no water damage to any of Pack's things inside the cab.  Pack was thankful.  And the tree itself was VERY close to our house.  If we had been home, the family van would have probably been crushed instead.  If the tree had rolled off the truck, or fallen just a few inches in other directions, there would probably have been damage to the house.  As we cleaned up the yard and dragged branches and limbs to the curb, we couldn't complain about a thing.  We. just. felt. THANKFUL.  Thankful and glad to be home.

Oh, and we never liked that walnut tree anyway;)


That was close...

The silver bullet saved the house!

The damage.  Could be worse!

Little Penn was working hard.  Jude was not interested.

Blowing sawdust out of the driveway.  Don't worry it's battery operated:)

Friday, August 12, 2011

Little Kicks...

So, this is how I imagine Little Bean in my belly (sans the over-permed hair and the bad outfit).  I'm still amazed that I can already feel this baby move!  I'm 15 weeks (just this Tuesday) and last night I felt him (or her) moving so strongly that it startled me.  Those little one or two inch legs are pretty powerful.  I actually was able to feel the kicks with my hand and see them a bit.  If I hadn't made Pack check it out, I would have thought it was in my imagination, but he felt it too and it (of course) freaked him out.  Something about there being a living, growing baby inside another person's body fascinates him and terrifies him all at the same time.  It's pretty funny.

This is where my pregnancies become so real to me.  I start daydreaming more and more about holding that sweet baby in my arms.  I'm so excited.  It will be another month before I find out what we're having, but I really haven't been thinking about that as much lately.  I think most people assume that I'm dying for a girl (and I'd be lying if I said I don't drool over little newborn baby girl clothes), but like I've told some friends recently, "How could I not want another boy after the two sweet, cutie-pies that I've already got?"  Seriously.  These boys are my heart and as much as would like to think I'd be a great Mama to a little girl, I KNOW I was meant to bring up boys.  What a messy/busy/active/loud JOY they are.  I'm so thankful.

I'm also getting back into my pregnancy groove (thank you second trimester!).  I've got more energy, the worst symptoms are practically gone, and I'm looking more and more like a pregnant lady.  As much as my first trimester tried to convince me that this baby was going to be "it," I'm starting to dig being pregnant again.  And if I completely ignore the scale (and the fact that Penn and Jude keep telling me that the baby feels "squishy"), I feel pretty awesome.

So here's to the remaining 25 (or so) weeks.  I'm finally up for the challenge:)

Monday, August 8, 2011

What Works for Us...right now

A few weeks ago, I wrote this post, kind of dictating the struggle we were going through with Penn's current stage.  After I wrote it, I really became conscious of what kinds of things I would say and do to try and get Penn to cooperate when we were in a tense situation.  I thought I would share with you, a few things from my arsenal that have worked (although they may not work every time).

This first strategy is something that I've been doing a lot lately.  I read about this idea on a blog months ago (but I don't remember which one).  I can't help but think this would be beneficial for a lot of age groups.  As a matter of fact, if I were still teaching fifth grade, I could see myself saying this a lot.  It's just four simple words:  "Let's try that again."  What I realized is that children (and adults even) sometime say the first thing that comes to their mind.  When my husband asks me if I can iron his clothes for work, my whole body wants to say, "No!"  But I know he needs clean, neat clothes to wear to work and as much as I hate ironing, I do it because I want him to feel confident at work.  But as an adult, I usually  know how to bite my tongue an think about things before I share them (as Pack has told me, rightfully so..."Kimberly, you don't always have to say EVERTHING that's on your mind.")  On the same note, when I ask Penn to pick up the blueberries off the kitchen floor that fell down there while he was eating, his first instinct is to tell me "No, you can do it."  Why yes I can (and probably faster and better), but that doesn't teach a lot of responsibility, does it?  When I say, "Let's try that again," it really helps him rethink the situation and make the decision on his own to do the right thing.  Most times, that's all it takes.

There are times when the above strategy doesn't work.  My next attempt is usually this quick question.  "Are you going to choose to obey Mommy or to disobey by not doing what I've asked you?"  It's amazing that he's old enough to understand these words, but what also impresses me is that every single time, he wants to obey.  He wants to follow the rules.  Whether it's cleaning his room or going to time out when he's sent, by giving him the chance to think about consciously breaking the rules (and getting consequences), this question will usually end whatever conflict has started.  It also helps to keep me cool-headed in a tense situation.

My boy still hates to clean.  Really hates it.  So in that situation, I have started following the advice of another friend.  Anything that has not been picked up in a reasonable amount of time goes in a trash bag.  The trash bag goes in the garage.  After a week (or so), I'll give him another chance to take the toys out of the trash bag and put them where they belong.  If they don't end up where they supposed to go the second time around, they will get trashed or donated.  Penn MIGHT get his Mobigo back today...

The same friend who suggested the above strategy, also told me months ago about something else that she does when her kids are fighting over toys.  It works beautifully.  It's called "toy time-out."  When Penn and Jude are fighting over a toy, I don't try to figure out who had it first.  I take it away and put it in a "spot" until they agree to share or take turns.  They will almost always choose to share rather than not have the toy at all.

When all else fails...

Penn is finally old enough to know what it means when I tell him to go to his room and lay on his bed (or if we are in public, I tell him we're going to the car to sit).  I try to save this one for when nothing else seems to work because I want it to have impact.  This sometimes results in him screaming, crying, growling, or whatever else he might think would let me know how he really feels.  As awful as these times are, I just remind him that it's okay to be mad at mommy or mad at his behavior, but he still has to have consequences.  When something doesn't go my way, I get furious.  Why do we adults think it's not acceptable for kids to get upset  either?  After I let him get some screaming out, I tell him to stop whenever he feels like talking and we can discuss.  I never prompt this, but he almost always follows the crying with, "I'm sorry for breaking the rules, Mommy."  And I always forgive him (even though it's hard to let go).  And then there's usually a nap around the corner...all that crying really can wear a boy out;)

It's amazing the perspective that can change with some sleep.  I have even found that when I can't seem to pull it together to stay calm enough to try anything that I mentioned above, it's usually because I'm the one that needs some sleep!  Keeping that in mind, really changes my outlook. 

Now I'm going to put a disclaimer out there and tell you that this hasn't solved every discipline problem we've had and good parenting, is all about learning what works best for you and your family.  I also hope that some of my mom friends that have struggled with not knowing how to discipline their preschoolers find something here that will work for them (or if you've tried any of these, please share your experience). Please remember, although I'm not up for a parenting debate (it's hard enough being a parent without having to defend every decision that you make), I'm always open to new advice, so please share YOUR strategies for dealing with conflicts with your kiddos also.  It never hurts to share what may help someone else!