Rebels in Larsononia

You can call me Sergeant Mom. Here in Larsononia I have two rebels under my watch.

Rebel A has been guilty of excessively kicking people, stealing from and nearly deafening Rebel E with his skills of high pitched screaming. He also has trouble following orders. He has been given the benefit of the doubt with his warm cuddles.

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Rebel E has been found guilty of consistently not following orders, picking fights with others and vandalism around the house. Although he has trouble following orders, he enforces his own rules on Rebel A. He has been given the benefit of the doubt with his random hugs and I love you’s.

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It is a hard battle in Larsononia keeping the peace between these two rebels. The objective of my assignment is to guide them into the direction of friendship and hopefully mould them into decent citizens of society.

After some extensive research and a meeting with Director of Home Dad, we have decided that the best way to achieve the goal of friendship is to establish unity between the two boys. We mapped out our plan and put it in action.

Report One-

Incident:

Rebel A had a Buzz Lightyear toy. Rebel E tried to take it. Rebel A screamed and both boys fought over the toy. They were told to put Buzz in Mom’s room for timeout. Then both boys had to sit on the floor quietly in timeout and look at their Mom as she spoke.

Dialogue:

To A- “Buzz did not belong to you. Screaming was not the right way to deal with E.”

To E- “Taking toys is not nice. You need to use words. Next time, E, you offer A another toy and accept his decision. Be patient. Help your brother make good choices.”

To A: “Next time, A, you offer E to take turns with the toy. Help your brother make good choices.”

To both of them: “Say okay.”

In unison: “Okay.”

They were then told to stand and shake hands. Affection such as hugs is not promoted as part of disciplinary action. However, it is also not forbidden. If they choose to happily hug and tell each other they love each other, it is permitted.

Report Two

Incident:

Rebels A and E were caught hitting and kicking with no remorse. They refused alternative activities. E was very angry. A was very complacent.

Dialogue:

Me: “That’s it! RUN!”

The boys ran laps around the living room, the dining room, ran obstacles of alternating between crawling and jumping. During this course of action I would use words like:

“E run with A.”

“A run with E.”

“Run together.”

“Help each other.”

When this was complete, E stated he felt happy again and would like a reward or treat. This was my reply:

“Your reward is the good feeling you have. Let that be enough for you.”

Conclusion-

Progress is being made. Although it has taken months of vigorous work and extensive amounts of patience.

Percentage wise, Rebel E is more quick to offer other toys to keep or obtain the one he wants and Rebel A is now considering alternatives to kicking.

Will report again in five years time.

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Socks- Moments in my Housewife Life

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He sat in front of me with defiance in his eyes. Our eyes did not move away from each other, watching closely, intensely, waiting for a reaction from the other. As if we were in a boxing ring, anticipating who would make the first move so that the opponent knew how to cleverly fight back. With growing impatience, I broke the silence.

“Let mommy put your socks on.” He didn’t flinch. Not yet.

I believe that in these moments, children have an advantage of being ignorant to time. I know there is a clock and our lives pretty much revolve around that.  In these moments I also wonder what career route he will end up making. What job would suit these characteristics of his?

“Give me your feet without kicking, and let mommy put your socks on please.” I stayed in position, mentally congratulating myself for staying calm, yet also ready to grab him if he were to try and make a run for it.

As a new mother, one of the many advices I’ve been given is to “CHOOSE YOUR BATTLES.” I have battled one at a time. Today I face a battle within myself: my impatience vs my wanting to parent right. I mentioned a clock, but there comes a point when even the clock has to take a seat while I live my family life. I am tempted to bribe him. It ALWAYS works! Marshmallows, chocolates, a walk around the block to grandma’s house. I also know I cannot raise him like that forever. There has to be logic in the things we do. Socks keep our feet warm and we put our socks on first, then we can put shoes on.

“Do you like these socks? They’re from grandma so they’re special. We all love your feet and want to keep them warm. Or did you want to pick another pair?”

Sometimes it is not the moment at hand that is the real issue. I believe that these battles are the final bomb after several events throughout the day. Except now it is only 7:12 am and we are getting dressed for school. So what on earth happened already? Maybe little brother woke us up too early and disturbed our sleep. Maybe mommy should have let him have chocolate milk this morning? Maybe we should have kept track of his special car before we went to bed so we could have found it first thing this morning? Maybe he had a bad dream and it’s just put him in a mood. Maybe his tummy hurts because according to the chart it has been 4 days since his last BM. Who knows! But here we are, and all I want to do is put his socks on! It’s so simple! They’re just socks! What is the deal? Why does being a mom have to be so hard? I thought this defiance wouldn’t come until the teen years! He’s four! And for four years I have been faced with his constant no’s. I have broken down from time to time. I have lost my mind from time to time. But not this morning. Today I will win!

I open the drawer hoping he will accept the invitation to choose his own socks. I usually have his outfit picked out the night before and he usually does not care what he is wearing. I still don’t think he really cares, I think he just TRIES to do anything he can to push my buttons!

He finally moves out of his frozen position and looks in the drawer, and pulls out another pair. In continued silence he hands them to me. A satisfied look on his face that mommy did not get her way. That he in fact chose THESE socks and he will now MAKE mommy put them on him.

I do put them on his feet. I have always loved little feet. From newborns to little children, but not older children, not when feet get big and dirty and stinky! Hahaha! His skin is soft, his toenails too long. Another battle for another day.

With socks now on his feet, which is the last of his clothing attire besides shoes, he runs off knowing he is done for now. Again I mentally pat myself on the back that no war raged, that anger was kept at bay and we can move on to the next phase of our morning.

The journey of motherhood is full of unexpected rebellions from our kids, but if there is one thing I have learned so far in this 4 year journey, it is that love conquers all.

Behind the Scenes of the Housewife Life

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Having a picnic for snack time in our front yard.

My current house is painted white. There is a “welcome” mat and a small mailbox, a wreath on the door with a tiny bunting I made. I love having front steps to sit on and watch the world drive by. Sometimes the boys sit with me and we count cars together. Inside our house, and everything that happens here, is what I call “behind the scenes.” Welcome to my home and my life. Have a seat on the couch and make yourself comfy.

I have house clothes and public clothes. Once in a blue moon I decide to “dress up” in my public clothes even though I am just at home with no plans of leaving. It’s just nice to not look lazy all the time. However, of course there had to be spills. The dark smudge on my jeans was from this morning’s breakfast when my two year old decided to dump the last of his milk on my lap and I didn’t care enough to change. I tell myself no one is going to notice. And here I am pointing it out to you.

My four year old points at my sockless ankle.

“Mommy what’s that? Did you have blood?” His nose wrinkled only an inch away from the questioned site.

“That’s a scab. You have scabs too. See? It was blood but now it is healing and that’s a scab. Mine is on my ankle and yours is on your knee.” He seems surprised at the discovery of his own scab and picks at it.

While he picks at his scab I admire my new nail varnish. A nude pinkish colour. One of my favourites I have ever had. When we moved from England to Ohio almost a year ago, it took a few months for me to realise I had gotten rid of all my nail varnish! So I bought a new colour but didn’t like it. I was in a bold mood and chose a bold colour. Mood swings coupled with impulsive buying was never a good match. This “safe” nude colour has proven perfect next to my tan skin. A small and otherwise trivial matter, but sometimes these small things can make a large difference in a woman’s world. I now wear my flip flops with confidence!

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Counting cars.

My two sons begin to scream at each other over a toy. They always want to play with the same one at the same time. Seriously? They have ALL these other toys and books and whatever, but they both want that ONE! A few months ago I had asked my husband if we could please start getting two of everything. He said no. They have to share and take turns. Fine. Before I became a mother, I believed my children would never fight. I have been humbled a thousand fold for thinking so foolishly.

I’ll make us a cup of tea. I only have peppermint, is that alright? Growing up, my mother used to always make peppermint tea, but we drank it cold. My love for mint must come from her. I miss her. Do you ever eat or drink something because of memories? Years ago when I was employed, I worked in a very posh retail store. We had our lunch break and later in the evening we had a tea break. I always had peppermint and liquorice tea, sweetened with brown raw cane sugar, with a slice of my homemade lemon cake. I haven’t been able to make a successful lemon cake since the big move but I will continue to try. The tea however, I cannot find anywhere! If you happen to see it, do let me know! For now, we will be grateful for this peppermint.

So, I am really out of the loop with the music world. On a bright note, I can sing several varieties of the Itsy Bitsy spider, the ABC song, and a few others that I can’t seem to think of on the spot. Having said that, it was a real treat the other day when I was in the car listening to my husband’s playlist and this really cool song came on. I am quite convinced that someone from the band at one point lived the life of a housewife. Because it totally connected with me. I don’t know who they are and I can’t remember what they said, but it was nice knowing that someone out there shared similar feelings as me.

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My four year old comes over and inspects my cup of tea.

“Is that hot lava? It’s hot. See? Smoke. Is it a fire? And burn the house down? No. You can drink it. Mommy do you like it? Is it good?”

I cannot express how wonderful it is to see my son growing up and hearing his thoughts. He may talk in circles but I am ecstatic that he’s figuring things out on his own! My two year old then comes over to see what the fuss is. He takes a look inside my cup and goes back to his playing. He could care less about my tea. I’m proud of him too. For being able to return to his task as if there had been no distraction.

What a journey motherhood is! It’s so big I am silenced for words. There is just an emotion, understood within the circle of women.

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Behind the scenes of a landscaped yard is a squirrel running up the tree. A spider busy spinning his dinner. A lady bug being watched by my four year old. Flowers being picked by my two year old. Pinecones waiting to be played with. Rocks waiting to be treasured.

Behind the scenes of my front door is family life. I watch how they walk. How they play. I listen to their voice. Their sounds. Their cries. I touch their skin, their hair and cuddle them close. I look into their eyes. I notice the books and movies they choose. The songs they sing to themselves. I notice their emotions, their reactions, trying to make sense of who they are. I am memorising all that I can.

I just re-read the 1,000 words that you just read and one word came to my mind: details. My life has become a life full of noticing details, dissecting those details, making some sense of those details. And I wonder, if I, like the passing cars that we count, am a detail in someone else’s story. A detail among the other millions of people living in this country. And yet here you are, dear friend reading these details of my life.  And with that thought, I’ll close with a quote from my four year old prince, ” thank you for realising me”.

My Random Thoughts Today

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It’s been one of those days where everything seems to be so random.

As I ate my breakfast bowl of Honey Bunches of Oats cereal, I made a bet with myself that I could EASILY eat a whole box in one sitting. I want my husband to be my witness.

Why on earth are my son’s underpants in a tupperware on the hutch? Better question: why have they been there for over a week and it hasn’t bothered me until now?

I was recently given a cool candle holder that looks like a bowl with stars on it. I filled it with mints and felt like a genius.

The spots on my toddler’s feet are not a side effect from last week’s vaccinations, but just tan marks from his crocs. What a relief.

I’m pretty convinced that bikinis for little girls was made up by a pedophile. Seriously, why do I see two year olds wearing bikinis? Grown ups wear them to be sexy right? The original idea of wearing a bra and panties on the beach, but kids don’t wear bras. So why have a spaghetti strap bikini? Little girls aren’t sexy. They should have something sensible and easy to play and swim in. Yep, the head of that is a total perv.

Had an incident at the park that made me think of being mindful for a long time. The whole time I was pushing my toddler in the swing and then the whole walk home. Sometimes we need to remind bigger kids of the younger kids and they often give a surprised response. Really? Aren’t we all being mindful of each other? As adults we notice the children, the babies, the pregnant women, the elderly, the disabled, the inflicted, the bully, the beautiful, and the different. Shouldn’t children also be taught to be mindful? I have seen children running and nearly knocking down an elderly woman who was walking with a cane. I have seen children push a man’s wheelchair as he sat in it so they could squeeze by without saying a word to him. Not even looking at him. When I was 7 months (hugely!) pregnant I recall children who were jumping around and one on me! I have seen people walking through doors and letting it fall on the person behind them instead of having the courtesy to hold an extra second for them. When I notice these things I make myself a mommy promise: I shall endeavour to teach my sons to be mindful! My almost four year old makes me proud when he takes note of other’s feelings. He notices the sad, the happy, the proud, the tired, the pained, and he is noticing his own emotions too. That he feels happy when he makes good choices and I see him repeating that good choice and expressing his good feeling. He is also mindful of his toys and making sure they are not where, as he states in his cute little voice: “daddy can trip and fall”. I am not saying my son is perfect, I am simply demonstrating that being mindful of others is teachable. Even at a very young age.

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My sister is in Italy. Last year she had told me about the Lorax movie and thought my son would love it. He does, a year later! Now both my sons are crazy for it. I need to email her and tell her. Who knew that “lorax” would be one of my son’s first words? Ha!

Goals change over time and goals can change quite quick. I need to be more committed in my short term goals. Like saying I am going to eat healthy all day. Then the stress gets to me and I am in a bowl of ice cream by 11:30 because that’s close enough to being lunchtime. I keep thinking about that day and how I need to be better!

I cut all 40 nails on my two boys and neither cried or threw a fit for the first time ever. Proud parent moment.

What if I add some mint flavouring to the chocolate chunk/caramel/vanilla ice cream? Totally adding it to the grocery list.

Sometimes I tire of fanciful things. I long for simplicity. My thoughts keep going to the flowers my boys pick for me. Or maybe they are weeds? I don’t even know!  They are not big and colourful or even particularly beautiful, but they are very special to me because these are what my boys give me with hugs and kisses. My son watches me intently making sure I hold them and keep them! His sweet voice saying, “Mommy look! I pick these flowers for you! I love you!” and my other son, finally saying words, holds his out to me and happily says “flower!” Wouldn’t every mother treasure them when they come with such sweetness and love?

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I hadn’t noticed before how many pictures I have taken since I got married. Do I really need over 18,000 photos? So far I deleted a 1,000 and it feels good. Deleting feels good. It’s the same as de-junking (a term I picked up from my lovely mother in law! I love it!) De-junking feels good. Getting rid of all the rubbish in our lives. The clothes that sit and are never worn. The books we simply don’t need to read again. The friends that don’t make us feel good (mean people suck!). That box of random scrips and scraps and bibs and bobs we were saving for “just in case I might need that one day”. Yeah. Reminds me of an old friend who lived in sweden for a few months with her three boys and husband. They lived simply in an apartment and she said she realised how things can be such a burden. She expressed how she was eager to go back home and rid her life of too much stuff.

IDEA!

I love when a new idea pops into my head! Okay it has actually been swimming around but today it’s been made clear. I have journals for my boys that I am writing. Funny quotes and stories and things they do and like, etc. But I don’t want them to be hoarders. They can have ONE box of keepsakes. I will start it out for them and in time they can add to it themselves as they get older. It would be so much easier to have ONE box than 20. The more we grow up the less time we seem to have and we just lug our stuff around where ever we go. Except sometimes we can’t and it ends up in someone’s basement or attic or closet or in a storage unit. I’ve lived in three different countries and more addresses than anyone would care to know, some of it was planned and sometimes things in life are not planned but they happen anyways so now I think: less (stuff) is more (peace of mind). So far, my boys don’t have enough for me to even purchase this one BOX, they are only 2 and almost 4 years old, but I have a few things I know will not be going to Goodwill when the time does come. Sometimes it just feels good to have a plan.

There was something I was supposed to write down so I wouldn’t forget… what was it?… Oh never mind, it’ll come back to me later. I’m off to bed.

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My first born boy, a few days old.