Saturday, August 29, 2009

I must remember...

This is a quote I heard while watching the video 50 moments with Lisa Bearnson. It struck me hard. This is something I must remember, especially right now as my son is in his "destructive" stage. It seems that everything he touches/plays with breaks. I get ANGRY. More than I should because honestly it is just an object and not one of my precious children. Yes it sucks that the $150 swing no longer has a mobile or music that works, but the swing part does and no one got hurt. It's not like the swing fell apart with Sophie in it. Yes, it sucks that I didn't realize how much we use the letter W in the English language until Mason ripped off the key on my laptop keyboard. Yes, it sucks that the toy corvette Fred got for his birthday is completely destroyed. Yes, it sucks that most of the books Mason loves, have pages torn out or ripped in some way making it difficult to read. BUT, they are only things. THEY CAN BE REPLACED. Fred has a new corvette toy, exact same one, that Mason is not allowed to touch. Most of the pages we found and were able to tape back in the books. Not always cheaply. We have a new mobile section for our swing. And not always can they be fixed. Mason doesn't know I threw away the broken corvette and I'm sure he'll be upset when he figures it out but it's not like he could play with it anymore; it only has two wheels, no windshield, no trunk lid, no driver seat. List goes on. Besides he has like 40 other cars to play with and his birthday is coming up soon. If he wants another one he just needs to add it to "mommy's list." Someone is sure to buy it for him. I think, he needs to learn that he can't break things and expect them to be fixed. Everything costs money and most often it's not cheap. Plus it's not nice to break things, especially if they belong to someone else. And then I think, he is only 2 yrs. (almost 3). How much can he really understand about this? Am I expecting too much? Take it easy on him. He's learning. He's a boy. He's his father's son. THINGS WILL CONTINUE TO GET BROKEN. Teach him the consequences, NICELY, and move on.

Because you are PRICELESS. Especially with that face.
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Friday, August 28, 2009

Good Behavior Jars

I've been a little MIA due to being ill for a few days and just trying to deal with the issues mentioned in my previous post. However I feel that I have come up with a doable solution. Hopefully one that works.
Good Behavior Jars. It's a twist on the chore chart/jar idea. I decided to try positive reinforcement for good behavior and continue with consequences for bad behavior. I dug out some mason jars from my craft room and Mason helped me decorate them, choosing which color ribbon he wanted and where he wanted it. I think I have a future crafter in the making as they came out really nice. I decided to fill the jars with stones/rocks because that is something Mason is into (collecting rocks and throwing them in ponds) and felt he'd be excited to have a new way of collecting them. We then had to sit down and decide what behaviors would be rewarded; rendering a stone put into his jar, and what behaviors would be punished, therefore resulting in a stone being removed and sitting in time out. When his jar is filled he gets a reward. In his case he gets a car (those .97 ones from Target. I figure it's pretty affordable if he ends up filling his jar every few days).

Rewarded Behavior
1. cleaning up/putting toys away without being prompted or after only being told once
2. playing nicely/sharing
3. staying seated for a whole meal
4. holding parents hand when crossing street or walking in parking lots
5. peeing in potty (when prompted by parent and not crying about it)

Things that earn double stones
1. informing us he has to pee and actually peeing in potty and not his pull up
2. pooping in potty
3. doing something nice for someone without asking
4. helping around the house/doing chores (on his level of course)

Punished Behavior
1. throwing toys
2. hitting/kicking/biting
3. disturbing/being mean to Sophie
4. talking back
5. throwing tantrums
6. after 3 warnings continuing with unwanted behavior/not listening to parents
7. swearing (damn it)
8. touching computers/Sophie's swing & bouncer

It may seem as if there are way more behaviors under the punishment category. This is because I don't want to reward Mason for every little thing. While I think he should always be polite; saying "please" and "thank you", should obey us the first time, and go to bed without it taking 2 hours; I want to focus on the big issues. The things we are constantly in battle over. We do work on everything with him but as my husband always reminds me, you gotta let the little things go and focus on the behavior you want changed. Where it makes the biggest impact for us all to be happier.

So far it is going well. He has half his jar filled. It takes 20 stones to fill. Though Fred made a good point that possibly 20 is too much. Because things have sort of gone back to being chaotic and misbehaving. So 10 is probably a better number to reach. Also as he gets better at filling up the jar I think we might do a trade-in value. So many stones equals a certain reward. Like 5 stones= ice cream, 6 stones= eating out, 7 stones= trip to any place Mason wants to go (within reason), etc. Something along those lines. We'll give it a few more weeks to see how it is going. I'm trying to be optimistic.

If you didn't notice I also have a jar. It's the really big one. Figured it could be used as a way to show Mason that mommy is working on her bad behavior as well. Every time I handle a tantrum/bad situation calmly without yelling or losing my cool. I earn a stone. If I yell, scream, throw a fit myself. I lose a stone. Simple. I don't necessarily earn a reward. The only reward would be knowing that I accomplished a goal, changed my attitude and therefore made it less stressful and hopefully everyone more happy. As of the picture I had earned one stone. Yay! At the time of this post I had lost my stone. Boo. So I'm working on it.

I also feel that it will help if I focus more on spending time with Mason. While yes, I agree that I do need time for myself. I do believe that is the number one thing they discuss in both Scream-Free Parenting and 1-2-3 Magic. Both excellent books. Ones I should probably re-read and keep on my night stand for daily reference. I think that he needs a little more attention paid to him. So I will be on my computer less, updating my facebook status and tweets, which also sadly means less blog posts. While I am trying to gain a reader base and following, my family is most important. Besides, they are the ones I most often post entries about and if I don't spend time with them how am I going to get material for my blog? So as I finish up this post I am heading off to play with my son.
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Friday, August 21, 2009

Over the edge

It has been made clear to me over the last two months that my son has absolutely no understanding of discipline. Or maybe he does and it is just blatant disregard for my authority as a parent. Either way I have reached my breaking point and am now being DRIVEN OVER THE EDGE.

Mason has been acting like a brat. A huge spoiled brat. Admittedly, I am mostly to blame. When it was just the two of us I doted on him as if he was the only thing in the world. And I would buy him things. Lots of things. If I was out and happened to see a toy, a video, clothes or a snack that Mason would like; I bought it. Even now with two kids I am finding it hard to stop this habit. Mason has an obsession with cars and I totally feed that obsession. To the point that I am becoming obsessed myself. Determined to have my son own each and every, including the obscure ones, character from that damn movie. I go to Target and scout out the selection, see they have a rare item and snag it. I'm not entirely sure if I need a twelve step program or what, but I can't seem to help it. I love to shop for my kids. Buying things for them makes me happy. It's one way I express my love, and for them to know just how immensely I do. (*This topic is an entirely new blog entry in and of itself that I will get into on a later date.) Now my intention has been not to give it to him right away. Instead wait for his Birthday, Christmas or some other grand event like being potty trained. However, seeing as I am never without the kids, it is hard to hide such purchases from him. And, if you are a parent, you know it's about as easy to convince a kid he can't have the toy you just bought as it is for our government to find Osama Bin Laden. My second fatal error occurred sometime while pregnant with Sophie. Blame it on the fact that if I wasn't sick, I was tired, or physically unable because well I was just big and pregnant. The simple truth is that I got lazy, and in turn let Mason get away with MURDER. At the time it was easier for me to not deal with it. Today, I am having a very lonely pity party over the fact that I should have listened to that little voice screaming inside my head to not let him to this, or say that, etc., even if it was easy right then, because I WOULD REGRET IT later.

To add fuel to the fire; I've never been one that could easily keep my cool when things SERIOUSLY PISSED ME OFF. Especially when it comes to loved ones. If you ask my husband, it doesn't take much to set me off. This could be due to him knowing me so well that he tends to push my buttons more easily, and unintentionally I'm sure, or plain and simple; I have anger issues. I claim the former. Either way; parenthood seems to have amplified this unattractive character trait. I am not proud of this fact. Honestly, if I could be more level headed like my husband and stay cool and calm in these situations instead of having my head turn 360 degrees, spewing nonsensical crap; I might have a higher success rate. Half the time Mason thinks it's just a game when I send him to time out, never staying put and laughing when I drag him back. At best, he immediately hugs me repeating, "it's o.k. mommy. It's o.k." When he really wants to try my patience he talks back as if he was a teenager and can even been seen running up the stairs and slamming his door. REALLY?! He's almost 3 going on 13. I find scenes like the one in Target the other day; my son laying on the ground thrashing and carrying on and me clearly exasperated; all because I wouldn't spend another 30 minutes looking at all the cars in the toy aisle. I'm suddenly THAT mom. The one who knows I should drop everything, leave the full cart of groceries and just walk out of the store the minute he throws one of his tantrums, but find myself trying every desperate attempt to get him to stop. Trust me; dropping to their level, squeezing their arms to the breaking point and angrily whispering threats 2 inches from their face is not very effective. I don't praise myself for losing control, having my own temper tantrum and needing a time out. Quite honestly it's down right embarrassing. But this is who I become when frustrated. THE SCREAMER. In fact, Mason has been pushing my buttons so often I am sure he thinks me yelling is just my normal tone. You realize some drastic changes need to be made once your child starts to emulate your parenting style in his random playful conversations.

It's not easy to hear how absolutely crazy you sound when it comes out of the mouth of your two year old. Not to mention certain phrases that should never be uttered at his age. So here I am, desperate and barely hanging on. I've tried everything I can think to get him to behave. I watch other parents and wonder, how can I get my son to listen and obey? Clearly I am doing it wrong, but how do I fix it? I realize that kids won't behave 100% of the time and I wouldn't expect them to either. Kids act out, see how far they can push, it's all a part of growing up. But there is a line, and when it gets crossed punishment ensues. In a perfect world kids would accept that punishment with a smile and move on. But as we all know, and the title of this blog states, it's anything but. Currently I am taking the approach of hitting him where it hurts the most. No I am not talking about physically beating him. Tempting, but I'm not THAT insane. I have taken away all his cars and trains. However, while packing them all up I heard him saying, "and this one too mommy," handing me one of his toy cars. Not sure he is taking this seriously. I think he thinks he'll get them all back once I calm down and get over it. But I am trying to stay firm and hold my ground and not cave even if he drives me nuts with no toys to occupy him. Let's see how a few days to a week registers with him. Maybe he'll get it then. Or maybe I am overreacting and need to learn to let the "little things" go. And how can you be sure what the little things are? I don't know. The ONLY thing I do know, is that we are somehow surviving. And maybe that's what parenting is all about. Surviving. Not whether you are "Super Mom", or your children are the model of perfection, but that everyone is still alive at the end of the day. Because even if my days seem to feel as if I am on the front lines I still love my kids and always will.
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Monday, August 17, 2009

Conversations with Mason Album

*Supplies: Paislee Press Lark and Aneal Photogenic paper; Flip flop and florencesans fonts
Have you ever paid attention to the things your kids say? Think about all the times our kids have made us laugh, or embarrassed us by the phrases they have uttered. Whether it be a common saying uttered wrong or repeating something we've been heard saying on a daily basis. Anyone who follows me on Twitter or is my friend on Facebook, knows my son has repeated some pretty funny things over the course of this year. A few, quite embarrassing but it is all a part of his growing up and learning.

The first time I heard Mason utter what has become a normal occurrence in our everyday, I had the idea to make an album of his hilarious phrases. Finding inspiration during a class I took at Big Picture Srapbooking, Everyone Can Write a Little with Cathy Zielske, I began my Conversations with Mason album. Applying Cathy's simple design and tweaking it to make it my own, I created three templates and have the first dozen pages completed. This is my first all digital album (besides the one I made in the class) and I am rather proud of having stepped out of my comfort zone and happy with how it has turned out. Some pages don't have pictures yet but I am experimenting with what to do on those pages. Hoping the class I am taking with Ali Edwards this fall will give me some ideas and inspiration. Below I have shared just a few of the pages created so far, as this is an ongoing project that will have many volumes in the years to come. Mason is sure to only continue growing his vocabulary, therefore constantly giving me material to add. Already, I find myself jotting down new things he spews out every day while in the car, at the store, or around the house. I must make note to create an album for Sophie once she begins to talk as I am sure she will follow in her big brother's footsteps.

*Supplies: Paislee Press Lark and Aneal Photogenic paper; Fabianestem and florencesans font

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Friday, August 14, 2009

Well I won't be winning Mother of the Year

Waking up with a migraine the size of an asteroid field, I knew today was not going to be on the top of my list. However, I never thought I would feel as if I was living a page out of the children's book, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. Today I am Alexander.

When I crawled back into bed at 5:30am it was just a minor headache brewing. By 8:30am when I decided it was probably time I get out of bed it was a full blown migraine and I wanted to throw up. Upon dragging myself downstairs I see that Mason had dumped the entire jumbo carton of Goldfish onto the floor in the family room. Great. Now I had to get out the vacuum and make the already unbearable pain in my head even worse. Trying to get a cup of coffee made, Sophie starts her ear piercing scream and I detour to make her a bottle. Once fed, I finally get my cup of joe, take two Excedrin Migraine and make another cup. Later the door bell rings. It is the mail man handing me my mail and scolding me for parking my car on the curb in front of my house, because heaven forbid he get his lazy ass out of the truck to walk two steps to put my mail in the box. Sophie starts her screaming, AGAIN. I am trying everything to calm her down. Finally I do and sit in front of my computer to read an article. Mason walks up, hand over mouth and says, "I'm not doing anything." To which I know he has done something he shouldn't have. "What did you eat?" I ask. "Nothing." I look and see nothing in his mouth. Satisfied I go back to my computer screen. Then I hear him say, "There is bug spray in my mouth." Sirens go off in my head. WHAT!? BUG SPRAY IN YOUR MOUTH? I immediately jump up, baby in arms, and run to where I know the Target bag is sitting from our trip the other day to buy none other than, bug spray. It isn't there. THE DINNING ROOM. Mason's favorite hiding spot is under the chairs. Rounding the corner I see the bag, empty. SHIT. I see the bug spray peeking out from under the chair, quickly grab it and see that it has been opened. SHIT. SHIT. I run, put Sophie on the floor and find Mason. "DID YOU SPRAY THIS IN YOUR MOUTH?" Nothing. Louder: "DID YOU SPRAY THIS IN YOUR MOUTH!!??" I Don't remember if he answered. I just know I made a mad dash for the phone and the poison control number.
Ring, ring.
Hello this is poison control...
Oh my god, I don't know if he did but my son just told me sprayed bug spray in his mouth.
Ma'am. How old is your son?
Almost three.
What is the name of the bug spray?
Bull Frog Mosquito Coast.
Is your son complaining about his mouth?
Mason, does your mouth feel feel funny?
Yeah, it does.
It does?
I hear him ma'am. *reading the ingredients of the spray* He probably doesn't like the taste. Your son will be fine. Just give him some juice and try to calm him down. And calm down your daughter. *Sophie is screaming, once again, in the background.* My name is Lori, if you have any questions feel free to call back and ask for me.
Thank you.
Hang up.
THANK YOU GOD! I keep repeating this to myself over and over. Go to the pantry to get some juice for Mason. Pick up Sophie and try to console her, once again. Then turn to Mason and tell him to "NEVER DO THAT AGAIN!" Then promptly move the bug spray and anything else I think he might try to swallow to the top cabinet on the highest shelf possible. The reality of the situation finally sinking in, I sit myself down on the Time Out chair and cry. Big Huge tears. Mason walks up to me, very concerned, gives me a hug and says, "I love you so much." Holding him tight and not wanting to let go, I look at Sophie, now quite and think to myself, "Well, I won't be winning Mother of the Year." But then again, I knew that before today.

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Photo Booth

We had some fun with photo booth today.
I love being goofy with my kids. It's my simple joy.
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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Four Generations.

We recently spent a day with Fred's family out at the 125 acre Belle Grey Farm in Upperville. Fred's Dad and Step Mom have owned this farm for the last three or four years but only recently moved out there permanently. They have done so much with it. Renovating the barn, building an orchard and two houses (one for my father in law's workshop) and running their own saw mill just to name a few.
Fred's grandparents have been in town and staying out at the farm, in the brand new guest house. This was my first time seeing it all finished. Stunningly beautiful.
*This is the Garden in the back of the house. Very serene, peaceful, calming. A place I would love to spend reading a book alone.

We had Veda's famous Chicken Chalupas for lunch. So delicious. After, Fred and his Dad went out flying RC airplanes in the field while Mason and I got to ride in the Porsche speedster with Heather. Cool car. Mason enjoyed playing with Aiden and watching The Incredibles, yet again and I got to catch up with Veda, Fred's Grandmother. After dessert we all ventured out into the Garden for some family photos.

*Fred Briggs II with his youngest son Aiden, Grandad Briggs, Fred Briggs IV with our son Mason.

I'm not sure why, but this was the first time we had ever taken a photo of the four generations of Briggs Boys. Grandad (Fred II), Father in law (Fred III), husband (Fred IV), son (not Fred V though had potential to be). Too long to wait for a photo like this. Hopefully, once the grandparents move to Virginia (maybe in the next year or two they will be moving out to the farm to live in the guest house) we can have photos like this more often.

*Grandad, Grandma Veda Belle, and Sophia Belle

I simply adore my husband's grandparents. They are the sweetest couple you could ever meet. Sharing their kindness with me as if I was a part of the family from the fist time we met approximately seven years ago, by giving me a card with some money for my graduation from college. I especially enjoy spending time with Veda (whom Sophie is named after) . She has such wonderful stories to tell about their life history and I can't help but smile when in her presence. The spunkiest 80+ year olds, with stories of chopping the head off a snake and hopping into the back of a flat bed truck with a hedge trimmer and generator and trimming trees in the neighborhood while being driven down the street. I look at them and see an incredible life they have lived so far, and all the love they have for one another and can only hope that when Fred and I are their age, we can be so blessed.

Here are a few other great shots from the day:
The kids eating chocolate cake. I was shocked as this was the first time Mason had actually eaten cake (he's never liked it) and not just the frosting.

My son after being told he couldn't have anymore chocolate cake. Teenager in the making with that face.

Later that evening, Janet and Eric arrived. My husband's Aunt and Uncle. Looking around I realized that it had been four months since we had all gotten together as a family and how that felt too long. Ali Edwards has a new class she is teaching at Big Picture Scrapbooking, Yesterday and Today. I registered for it on Saturday and now after this day with family I'm really looking forward to this class. It really has me thinking about my childhood and the stories I want my kids to know about me (and Fred) and how it compares to their own. I suppose maybe I've gotten extra sentimental after having two kids. But then again, it could just be in my nature.

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Saturday, August 8, 2009

Big Brother


You know people told me that I'd look at Mason after having Sophie and wonder how he got so big. They were right.

I pick up Mason and think, oh my god he's heavy. Or listen to him talk, watch him play and seriously wonder what happened to my baby boy? How did he grow up so fast? Seeing him with Sophie seals the deal. How grown he is when trying to comfort her when she cries, "Sophie, Mommy is right here." How he towers over her when giving her hugs and kisses. Praising himself on how strong he is when picking her up (much to my horror) and handing her to me. But most of all, how much of a wonderful big brother he is when helping feed her while I do the grocery shopping.

It is such a sight to see his growth (and sometimes regression) in behavior since the birth of his little sister. So much responsibility for such a small person, to be so "grown up" and "mommy's helper" at the age of two, going on three.

It is in these moments, these brief moments that our family creates, where I find the memories I want to remember forever.

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Monday, August 3, 2009

i see.

Sometimes we forget to say "Thank You" to those we love. The ones who do so much for us and seem to go unseen. Sometimes appreciation gets overlooked due to the chaos and busyness of the everyday. It doesn't always get said out loud though we feel it. This layout is for Fred. My husband, who does so much for his family. You are appreciated, though our gratitude isn't expressed in ways that you can always understand. Just know you are loved, and we see how how you work for us. Thank you, babe for being you.
*sorry for the poor quality photo. Still trying to work out how to get 12x12 layouts documented.
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