Monday, April 27, 2009

Parenting FAIL #327

It has been too hot to write or even to think about writing today. Now, I'm sitting on the couch, with a fan blowing the cool evening air on me, trying to get some inspiration. :) I can feel the brain cells seeping back into my body with each blast of cold air....aaaahhhhh....

So, yeah, we're wimps up here in western NY, but we also have no a/c. So when it's hot, we can't get away from it. I mean, seriously, NOTHING up here has a/c - schools, churches, houses...well, some houses probably do, but not ours. So today it got up to 86 degrees or some ridiculous thing like that, and we're stuck with a fan blowing hot air in the window & out the window on the other side of the room.

Now that I've got THAT little whine out of my system...I shall proceed to share with you my parenting FAIL from this afternoon. (just an aside: does anyone else think the word FAIL is hilarious? Have you seen those pictures of really dumb things/people/animals that say FAIL on them really big? I really do think they're pretty funny.) But, back to the story...

First of all, what would you rather do on an 85 plus degree day than take your one-year-old to the camp playground in the middle of the sweltering afternoon? Just a dose of family fun for us. We walked up, let Z play on the swing & slides, and then he just wanted to run around and explore. Let me preface my fail by explaining that this camp playground is right across from the camp office, where I work several days a week, and most of those days, I take Z out to the playground area to play before we go home. So I pretty much know what he likes to do, and where he'll probably head next. So when he trotted away from the playground, towards the office building, I assumed he was headed to the front doors - for some reason, he loves to spend endless minutes running up and down the ramp to the entryway. Hubby says to me, "Are you just going to let him run off?"

"Yeah, I know where he's going...over to the entrance", I say nonchalantly...

"Um, it doesn't look like that's where he's headed", Hubby observes.

And I begin to get concerned when I notice that Z is indeed NOT heading for the ramp, but instead, he is running, chubby toddler legs churning furiously, in a direction he has NEVER before explored, towards a bridge that stands about five feet over a creek...not towards the bridge, even, but towards the 'cliff' to the side of the bridge. So of course I take off running like a maniac, and am able to catch his arm about one second before he could've plunged over the edge to his death!

So, there's my biggest parenting FAIL for the day. Tomorrow, I'll be keeping a much closer eye/hand on Z at all times! :)

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Violence in the Workplace

This week, I've been dealing with violence in the workplace.

"Carrie, is your boss beating up on you at work?", you might ask with concern.

To which I would reply, "No - it's my other job -the full-time one, the one that involves taking care of a toddler."

Z has recently started these violent tendencies, such as kicking and hitting/scratching, and also biting. Although the biting is probably because of teething, and I am the one who lovingly (but stupidly) attempts to quell his teething pain on a regular basis by sticking a finger in his mouth to apply let's just leave the biting out of the equation for now.

When I lay him down on the floor to change his diaper, he kicks his legs, hard. I had bruises on my leg earlier this week from him kicking me. I tell him to stop, and I do $pank him on the upper back of his leg sometimes, but he just doesn't get it. He doesn't get that it hurts me when he kicks. And he just keeps on kicking. And bruising.

And that's not the worst part. He's started hitting & scratching my face when I'm holding him. Not out of anger, or so that I'll let him down, but just I don't know. But it really hurts, and he drew blood earlier today. It seems kind of counter-productive to $pank him for hitting, a little bit ironic, don't you think? He does it at the most frustrating times, too, like when I'm singing & praying with him at bedtime, which used to be such a sweet time, but now I almost dread it, because he's scratched me pretty much every night this week.

I've tried to teach him, "gentle, gentle", but it's like a game to him, he'll rub my face once or twice gently and then get this gleam in his eye & scratch me again.

SOOOO...does anyone have any advice about dealing with my suddenly violent toddler? Have you had to deal with this??? Any encouragement or help would be greatly appreciated!!! :)

Friday, April 24, 2009

To Be a Toddler

Recently, I saw a clip from the TLC documentary show, Toddlers & Tiaras. It was only a few-second-long clip, aired on a news show that I was watching, but it was so disturbing that it brought tears to my eyes. This tiny girl, who couldn't have been more than three or four, was dancing up on the stage with makeup and a fake tan on her face, a big frilly dress, and perfectly curled and coiffed hair. She made some kind of mistake with her dance, facing away from the audience instead of towards them, and when her mother loudly whispered something like, "Turn around, you're facing the wrong way", her beautiful face melted into tears, and she ran off the stage into her mother's arms, crying, "I messed up, I messed up". Her mother hurriedly comforted her, shooing her back onto the stage to continue performing. And my heart broke a little for that poor little girl.

Because I have a toddler, too. And toddlerhood and preschool-hood should not be filled with makeup, and fakeness, and performance anxiety, and peer pressure. There will be plenty of that once our babies get to junior high school. In my opinion, toddlers should regularly be covered in food and mud. Their hair should be styled with yogurt or possibly oatmeal, and they should be discovering what sound a rock makes when it's tossed into a creek, or learning the words to songs like The Wheels On The Bus...not memorizing dance steps reminiscent of Britney Spears. Whatever happened to childhood, people?

Is this what childhood is supposed to look like? I submit to you that it is not.

And I offer you an alternative picture.

I love this picture of my little Z. Seriously, can you even tear your eyes away from it? I cannot. There is no makeup involved in this picture. He does have a little food and possibly snot on his face. His hair is self-styled...with applesauce. His little pants & socks are dirty and wet from stepping in the creek, and his shoes are muddy. He's chilling on the porch swing, looking up at his mama (me! Aren't I blessed?) with an inquisitive, happy smirk, his blue eyes wide with curiosity.

And THAT's what being a toddler is all about.

**Disclaimer: I'm not trying to act smug, like I'm a great mom, better than those 'toddler pageant moms' - that's not the point of this post at all, and I humbly realize that I have lots of shortcomings as a mother and am NO better than anyone else. This is only meant to be a gentle reminder to all of us to let our kids be kids...they grow up SO quickly!!!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

I Have Been Crafty!!!

When I do something crafty, I always like for everyone to see it. And acknowledge my craftiness.
I love to do paper-crafts, I make all my own greeting cards, and I used to scrapbook, way back before I had Zachary. I thinks scrapbooking is just more fun without a toddler ripping things apart as you're gluing them together. I take pictures, though, and someday, when my kids are all grown up & gone, THEN I will scrapbook like a least that's the plan. :)

And SO, on to the craftiness. We just got new couches, and new pillows, requiring a new decorating scheme in our living room. A few years ago at an antique/junk store, I got these plastic letters (from an old movie theater sign), that spell our family's last name. They were red plastic, which matched my red/white/blue living room, but does not now match my brown/turqouise/lime green/salmon living room. So I covered them with scrapbook paper. And, voila! For your viewing pleasure, my very crafty letters (which only took about an hour):

Also, the heart below the shelf, which says "Love Much", I just got at an ADORABLE new primitive art store in our mall! I think it was $3! And everything in the store is handmade, hand-painted, thriftily priced...AND they do custom signs for NO extra charge. I am busily considering what Bible verse I would like to get on a sign...and I also want one that says, "Mothers of little boys work from son up to son down." Isn't that a cute saying??? :)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Orange For Stellan

Remember when I asked you to pray for Stellan? Well, he is having a heart ablation surgery today. And we are wearing orange to remind us to pray for him:

Sorry that last picture is so blurry...I had a hard time getting Z to face the camera. :)
Anyway, a lot of other people are wearing orange today - the pictures will be updated through the whole time Stellan's surgery is going on, and you can stop over here to check it out! The outpouring of love, support, and prayers for Stellan is absolutely astounding to me, and I am so thankful for a God who has sent each of these people into the MckFamily's lives to support them today. So please, pray for Stellan, and if you're wearing orange, send in a picture and be an encouragement to MckMama's family and readers!
ETA: Denise & Parker are wearing orange for Stellan!!!

Monday, April 20, 2009

A Passionate Rant About the Conscience Clause

I guess I haven't really talked about it on my blog very much, but in case you didn't know it, I am passionately, vehemently pro-life. I think 'choice' is a terrible word for one human being throwing away the life of another human being, no matter how inconvenient that precious, God-breathed life may be. A better word would be 'murder'. I won't continue to preach on and on, though, so let's change the subject...have you heard about the controversy regarding something called the conscience clause?

Well, this article explains it much better than my rambling words can, so if you're interested you should jump over there & read it. Basically, the conscience clause legislates that a medical professional or a medical climic does not have to violate their conscience to perform an abortion - if they believe that abortion is morally wrong, they can choose to exercise their right and not be a part of the 'procedure'. But Barack Obama wants to rescind the conscience clause, forcing pro-life nurses, doctors, and clinics to either perform abortions against their will or close their doors in protest.

My favorite line in the above article is this great observation: "By rescinding this law, the message that President Obama is sending out is this...Only those who choose abortion have rights." Another awesome thing that I learned from the author is that the Hippocratic oath (which all doctors are required to take) says, "I will strive to do no harm", and the original Hippocratic oath stated, "I will not give a woman an abortion remedy". I would venture to say that abortion DOES do harm, physically and emotionally, to both women and their babies. There are many more important lessons to be learned about the conscience clause from the article, so please go read it.

And if you feel like I do, please go here and sign the petition to keep the conscience clause in the law, and protect the rights of America's health care professionals. Also, I'd love for you to weigh in with your thoughts on this issue, no matter your views on abortion! How do you see this affecting your family/community?

Friday, April 17, 2009

Where Were You?

A few weeks ago, I heard a song on the radio that was new to me, but if I didn't live in a cave, I might have realized sooner that it's a popular song. The song, and the perspective of it was so interesting to me. The song is called You Found Me, and it's sung/written by a band called The Fray. In case you haven't heard it, the premise of the song is that this person met God on a street corner. I'm sure the song doesn't have a sound theological basis (well, it's not Baptist, anyway)- this I got from the fact that God was smoking a cigarette. :)

But the part that was so interesting to me was this:

He said, "Ask anything."

"Where were you
When everything was falling apart?"


"Why’d you have to wait?
Where were you, where were you?
Just a little late
You found me, You found me

Why’d you have to wait
To find me, to find me?"*

The songwriter has a chance to ask God anything, and He asks, "Where were You?" and "Why didn't You come & intervene sooner?" I think that if most of the people living on this earth could talk to God face-to-face right now, we would have very similar questions for Him. There is so much pain in this world, and it is so hard to understand why God would allow such painful things to happen. So many friends of mine are running across my mind as I type this...

A young woman who wonders how long it will be before she has to kick her alcoholic husband out again to protect her four-year-old daughter; a woman who longs for a child, but has been struggling with infertility for years and is on her last month of her last year of her 'last hope' infertility treatment; a woman still reeling from the unexpected loss of her husband and now dealing with serious health problems herself; a man trying to comfort and support his six children while he watches his wife die of Stage 4 cancer; a woman watching her tiny son's heart be stopped and restarted several times a day and wondering how long this can go on; a friend grieving two miscarriages in the last two years and struggling with fear when it comes to 'trying again'; a woman begging God to turn her adult son's heart around as he faces DUI & drug charges; a young family torn apart by unfaithfulness and divorce...I could literally go on and on for hours, listing the painful circumstances that those I know are surrounded with.

And if I could talk to God, I do believe that this would be my first question: Why, Lord?? And, as I was reminded by Beth's post earlier this week, "Why am I so blessed?"It should be enough to remember that God does have a perfect plan. We cannot always see what He is doing. But He promises us that He does have a plan, and someday He will weave all of this messy pain into something beautiful and good in our lives.** And I suppose that's where faith and trust come in.

Thank You, Lord, that I don't have to stay in this hopeless, depressing place, dwelling on the 'why' or on all of the pain. Thank You that I can choose to leave the 'why' up to You, and turn instead to the 'what', as in "What can I do to make a difference in others' lives today, Lord?"

If YOU could ask God one question, what would it be???

*excerpts from You Found Me
By Isaac Slade/Joe King/The Fray

** Romans 8:28

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Who's Grown More?

I have been a mom for 16 months now. Well, 25 months, technically, but when that baby's BORN, that's when everything changes. And do you know who has changed the most in the last sixteen months??? I have.

I remember when Z was just a couple of weeks old, and I was SO tired, exhausted really, and my MIL was here taking care of Z between feedings/pumping so that I could get some rest. And I remember her saying something to me along the lines of: "Cherish every minute of being his mommy. Cherish all of it, even the night feedings."

And I thought, "Cherish? The night feedings? Are you kidding me? All I want to do is get some SLEEP!!!"

And now that he's not nursing anymore, I look back and think, "wow- that went SO fast - I should've definitely cherished every moment of that a little more...even the night feedings..." :) Of course, that's easy for me to say now that Z sleeps from 7:30 pm to 7 am without waking to eat or anything.

When I think ahead to the future, I always imagine myself as 'the perfect mom'. I see myself as a mom with five or six well-behaved children gathered around me, hanging on my every word. I see myself sweetly responding to each of their needs in turn, completely focused on them, never desiring anything for myself, never desperate for a nap or a bath or just a little break. In short, I see someone VERY different from the person I am now.

Does such a person even exist? If so, speak up, perfect moms - share your secrets, please!!

I guess what I'm trying to say is that before I had Z, I thought I would be the perfect mom. I never imagined how hard, how 24/7 this parenting thing can be. "I've done daycare", I said. "I've taken care of several infants at one time. How hard can one baby be?" But no one told me about ALL. THE. CRYING. No one explained to me the exhausting physical limits that my body would be pushed to in those first few weeks and months. You see, at daycare, at preschool, YOU GET TO GO HOME at the end of the day. When you have a baby, YOU ARE HOME.

During those first few weeks, I was so overwhelmed and exhausted. Parenting a newborn was such a shock to my system, I cried constantly. Tears are my way of responding to, well, most anything, honestly - stress, joy, tiredness, etc. And at some point (about 7 weeks in, if I remember correctly), I realized, "Hey. I'm not doing a good job at this. I guess I can't do this on my own. Is there somebody that I can depend on to give me strength in times like this???" Um, yeah. His name is GOD. And I began to turn to Him, and draw on His strength, and not my own. In that instance (and others since), God used parenting to break me; to bring me to depend more fully on Him; to grow me.

And the longer I parent, the more I begin to realize how FAR I am from that impossible dream of being 'the perfect parent'. But I'd also like to think that if/when I have a chance to 'do it all over again' with another newborn, I will have gained enough perspective to carefully cherish each precious moment, even the difficult and exhausting ones, and especially those night feedings.

This post was written for Scribbit's April Write Away contest.

Friday, April 10, 2009

When And Where We Wear

I love wearing my toddler. I really do.
But lately I feel like a 'bad' babywearing momma, because I don't do it as much as I used to. But it's not because I'm being selfish or lazy, instead it's because Z doesn't ENJOY being worn as much as he used to.
He IS 16 months old now, you know.
He still likes to go for walks on my front in the ring sling sometimes, but he LOVES to walk next to me, stopping every few seconds to touch the ground with both hands and proclaim, "Dirt!". When we're going to be out and about (shopping, food shows, etc.), he prefers the stroller to being worn, especially if he needs to take a nap. I do wish I could wear him more, but is it still best to babywear when your 'baby' doesn't want to be worn?
Anyway...I do have a ring sling success story to share. When we were on vacation with Hubby's family, we visited a place in Gatlinburg where you ride a tram to the middle of the mountain, and then there's all kinds of activities you can do up there, like an alpine slide, ski lift to the top of the mountain, playground for the little ones...etc. We didn't know if there would be room on the tram for Z's stroller, so I wore him in the ring sling. He got a little bored when we were standing still in line, and in the tram, but overall, he did pretty well. Here's a picture of us enjoying our time in line (being tickled by Daddy, I think):

At the top of the mountain, Z was going to be bounced around between Grandma & aunties & me, so we rented a stroller, and because it was plastic, he was uncomfortable, and wouldn't nap, so we put his ring sling under his head, and he took a nap in there. On another recent outing, I used the sling as a changing pad. So it's always useful to have around, even if he doesn't want to be worn. :)
At home, during the week, I typically wear Z (ring sling, hip carry) when I vacuum the floors, because he still hates the loud, scary vacuum. And we try to go for a walk or hike when we can, either with the ring sling or Patapum. Does anyone have experience with the Patapum, though? It is SUPER-comfortable for the back carry, but somehow I haven't figured out a comfortable front carry yet. My shoulders ache before I even get halfway up the hill to camp (5 minute walk!). So, if anyone has any tips, I would appreciate that.
One cute thing, when Z hears me say that we might go on a walk or sees the sling, he points to it, and says, "Walk! Walk!" So that's pretty fun. :) And I do love wearing him when he cooperates. :)
For other people's input on babywearing experiences, visit Steph's site, and if you want to share YOUR experiences, jump on in!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Praying for Stellan

Can you even imagine watching a hospital staff of nurses and doctors STOP your tiny son's heart, and then start it again, over and over, all day and night long, desperately trying to keep it beating in the correct rhythm? Just the thought brings tears to my eyes. But I know someone for whom this has been her constant reality for the last couple of weeks. If you haven't heard about Stellan, please click over to MckMama's site and pray for their family. They are bringing SO much glory to God, even through their pain. It is such a blessing to watch their reactions, and how they continue to praise God, and I pray that if I were ever in a similar situation, God would give me the strength to respond similarly. So, please. Please pray for Stellan.

Prayers for Stellan

If you want to post on your own blog about Stellan, so more people can hear and pray, you can get the code for this button from MckMama's website. But whatever else you do today, please pray for Stellan!!!

11:30 am: Edited to Add: Here is a news story about Stellan & his family.