Wednesday, March 26, 2014

(Not So) Hidden Treasure

I didn't have blogging on my agenda today since I'm kind of strapped for time this week, but I feel compelled to pop on here really quick to document what just took place at our house. These are situations you never, ever anticipate finding yourself in before you have children. I mean, really.

I was working on getting all the tax information together for our CPA. The kids had just finished lunch and went in the backyard to play for a little while. I peeked out the window and saw Harrison standing there with his pants down. Even though I don't encourage it, he's a boy and he loves to pee outside so that's what I assumed he was doing. He had a troubled look on his face though, so I asked him what was going on.

Me: What are you doing? What's the matter?
Harrison: I thought I needed to go poop but now I don't.
Me: Well come inside and try if you feel like you need to go.
Harrison: I don't need to go anymore because I already did.
Me: Uhhhh....what? You pooped where??
Harrison: Over here! Come look! Off the ladder of the play set! I tried to wipe but it didn't work out so well.
Me:Wipe with what??
Harrison: The water hose.
Me: ::speechless::

When asked what would prompt him to want to take a dump in the back yard like a dog when we have a perfectly working toilet just inside, he gave the typical boy answer:  I wanted to leave a little hidden treasure behind for the pirates. 

That. Kid. 


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Happy Heart Chart

I wanted to share a little jewel that I have recently discovered in parenting. I think I mentioned that we had a few tough months regarding attitudes and behavior last year. A lot of that can be chalked up to having a 2 and a 3 year old, which in my opinion, is the most challenging age combination EVER when it comes to defiance and tantrums and disciplining (of course we'll see what I'm saying when they are 14 and 15, ha!). Those sweet kids of mine (more so one than the other, but I'll let you guess which one is stubborn and hard-headed just like their momma) know how to push my buttons and I was having a hard time staying neutral in my emotion. Keeping it real translation: I was a raging hot-head who yelled at my kids way too much and spouted off empty threats like I'm going to throw all your toys in the trash if I have to ask you to pick them up one more time!!!! and if you get out of your bed again we are gonna cancel family night this week!!! It was getting pretty embarrassing. I knew I needed a new system in place because what we had going on definitely wasn't working. 

So around the new year I started researching ideas. I came across this post and decided to give it a try. I was skeptical but hopeful at the same time. I modified it to meet our needs and slapped that puppy up on the wall...and then a miracle occurred. My children actually started listening!! And picking up their toys!!! And being respectful!!! And having good attitudes!!! And showing more kindness and consideration for others!!! And all peace was restored in our home again. Obviously they are still kids and still make foolish choices from time to time, but overall this has been a game-changer in our house. 



You can read the post I referenced for more detail, but to summarize, here is how it works: 

I had each child pick out 6 "tokens" of their liking. It could be a picture of anything and it was totally up to them. Harrison picked an astronaut, Fishy Boyd, a monster truck, Superman, a football, and Caillou. Harper chose a cupcake, Snow White, a ballerina, Minnie, Cinderella, and Barbie. The key is to get them excited about their tokens so they form a tangible attachment to them. Then I printed them on card stock and cut them out into circles.

Every day they start fresh with 6 tokens. Even if the day before was a total loss, each day is a new beginning. Each time they disobey or fight or make a poor choice, they have to pay me or Rick a token. They physically have to pick one out and hand it over, which I think is huge for them from a mental standpoint. There are many times they fret over which token they want to give up. The best part of this system is that there are tons of opportunities for positive reinforcement. Each time I catch them doing something good or obeying right away, they earn back a token. Some days this is easy and they are very motivated, and other days I reeeeally have to try hard to find reasons to pay them back. But I think this positive reinforcement is the key to the success of the chart so I definitely dole out a lot of grace. Their goal is to have all 6 of their tokens at the end of the day. And if they do, they get a sticker and we all sing and do The Happy Dance. We don't say anything negative if they don't have all 6, but if they do then we make a big deal.

If they lose all six of their tokens, they are gone for the rest of the day and there is no opportunity to earn them back. There is also a more severe consequence. Thankfully it's only happened a few times so far. The consequences we've used have been 1) no tv for the entire day, 2) a nap instead of quiet time, 3) early bedtime, and/or 4) tuck yourself into bed at night. #4 has by far had the biggest negative reaction...who would have thought?

I like that as soon as they lose a token they are usually pretty motivated to earn it right back. It never fails -- Harrison almost always loses one when we are trying to get out the door to leave. But I tell him he can earn it right back if he gets in his seat and buckles up on the first try. It's almost in my favor for them to need to earn back at least one at all times. ;)

I also like that it also teaches them the basic concept of currency. I will often tell them they can pay me a token to help them clean up their toys or they can clean them up by themselves for free. They know that they need to save their tokens, and they also know that they need 10 stickers to reach their goal. We have a $10 max limit on each goal (they can set a goal for a cheap toy, a fun outing, etc). If they see a toy they want that is $20 I tell them that's 2 goals worth, and they are beginning to recognize basic value. It's taken them almost 2 months to reach 2 goals so they know that it takes a lot to earn 20 stickers.

Here is a video with Harrison explaining how it works. Notice how he says he's the boss of his tokens. I think that's been HUGE for his personality. Even though obviously Rick and I are in authority, this chart takes out the power struggles most of the time. 





The biggest challenge is being consistent. Especially when we're on the go. It definitely takes effort but we've seen great results in a short amount of time. Hopefully the newness doesn't wear off and we all stay motivated.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Movie Monday - Ashley Eats an Egg

Okay -- so I know this video is a little long but I promise you will not regret watching it. I still laugh to the point of tears every time. It's good to have friends you can laugh at, right? :)

Ashley is suuuuper picky when it comes to food and textures. She had never had a deviled egg so after I made them for Colt's party we talked her into trying one for the first time. And then of course we had to film it. There are actually 2 videos but I'm only posting the 2nd one where she finally takes a bite.

PS - they are green because it was a Dr. Seuss theme party. Which probably didn't help the poor girl out. :)

Enjoy!



And Ashley, I'm proud of you!! Even if you did cry, gag and almost vomit before it even touched your mouth. You and my kid have a lot in common ;)  Love you!



Thursday, March 13, 2014

Look Who's Back!



And look who's sick. :(


 

Mary called me yesterday morning to let me know that they had both woken up vomiting. Nothing like a stomach bug the day of the road trip home. They were so pitiful and I felt awful for them! It sucks being stuck in a car when you feel so icky. And it was definitely challenging trying to manage the pukefest going on in my backseat since I was driving solo. But even though I hate it when my kids are sick and it's not fun cleaning up endless vomit, I was happy to be back in my element of motherhood and thankful to be able to snuggle them and nurse them back to health.

they both wanted in my lap and I was happy to oblige
guess who else wanted in my lap...
 Harper started feeling better a lot faster than her brother. This was her first tummy bug and it seemed to be much more mild. She stopped throwing up yesterday afternoon and even had an appetite by dinner time. Harrison, on the other hand, was in bad shape. He was vomiting every 15 minutes or so all day and couldn't even keep a cracker down. He fell asleep at 5pm and woke back up around 9pm, then was restless and couldn't get back to sleep until after 1am. It was a rough day for the poor guy. Thankfully they are both feeling much better today!

 

 I was looking through the pictures I took while they were away and there aren't too many to report. Apparently most of the pictures I take are of the kiddos. Who woulda thought? We did get a ton of work done around the house. We went on a couple of dates and enjoyed each others' undivided attention. And we talked a lot about how weird it was with them gone.

PF Chang's

And since my kids weren't here to be the subject of my photos, I did snap this one of the cat. He rarely grooms himself so it caught my attention when I saw him licking what I thought was his paw. Nope, turns out he was actually licking the leather on the couch. For like 5 minutes straight. I'm not sure if he thought he was grooming himself?


Never a dull moment around here, folks. Except apparently there was because I actually took a picture of my cat licking the couch.


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Homesick

I never knew it was possible to feel homesick while you are inside your own house. But yep, it is. My littles have been visiting their grandparents since Saturday and I am missing them like crazy. It's just not home without them here and I'm ready for those little boogers to get back here and cheer this lost mama up.

I have also realized how much I blame my kids for things not getting done around here as quickly as I'd like. I've had nothing but child-free time on my hands for the last 3 days and I have still managed to procrastinate on certain projects like nobody's business. Apparently if it's work I don't feel like doing, I'll find a reason to not do it. Huh. Interesting. Don't get me wrong, I've been a busy little bee, just not in the most productive or logical sense. Like, instead of tacking the disastrous piles of junk I've made all over the house that need to be organized/purged/I-have-no-idea-what-to-do-with-all-this-crap, I find much more important tasks to do like spontaneously sewing curtains and cleaning out all the bathroom cabinets and bathing the cat. And typing out a blog post. Ahem.

But in my defense, I was missing my kids so much that I started looking through pictures of them, and then I realized I needed to post them on here. It's very high priority. Much more important than all these piles of crap I don't know what to do with. See how I did that just now?

 ****

Harrison sleepwalks into our room almost every night. This night he didn't quite make it all the way. How sweet is this? I mean, for real.


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Harper took her pony tail out in the car and was rocking some awesome hair. I joked that it looked like Donald Trump's comb-over and taught her to point and say "you're fired!"

 

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This was Harrison's take home sheet one day. I asked him why he threw his food away and this was his response: I wanted to be nice and share my lunch with all the germs in the trash can. They were hungry and sharing is the nice thing to do. Hmm. Seems as though he's learned the art of spinning and justifying. I have no idea where he got that from. (I will get to my Piles 'O Crap very soon but I need to finish documenting these precious childhood moments first)


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We started a new behavior chart last month. I'll have to do another post about it later because it's been working wonders. (some days, anyway)  If they have all 6 of their tokens at the end of the day they get a sticker, and after 10 stickers they get the goal they were working towards. Harrison chose Chuck-E-Cheese for his first goal and Harper wanted to get her very first pedicure at a nail salon.



She loved it if you can't tell. At one point she laid all the way back and closed her eyes. Home girl knows how to relax and enjoy the pampering. They both just reached their second goal before they left to go out of town. Harrison wants to go to "big golf" (driving range) with his dad and Harper wants to do putt putt with me. Bring it on! Harper's going DOWN.

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The kids' school went on a field trip to NASA. We have a membership there but it was fun to go with all of their classmates.

"3-2-1 BLAST OFF!"
 They both sat and watched this science show and did great! I was amazed that it held their attention for a good 30 minutes or so.


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I was a little nervous moving Harper into a twin bed without a rail. I'm not sure why I'm worried she might fall off the bed or anything. HA!


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This is just one example of how my husband is a goofball. He always teases me that I'm super competitive when it comes to parking. I get excited about front row joe's and he gets annoyed that I take more time looking for a prime spot than if I would have just taken the first spot and walked the difference. Um, duh, because I like to WIN. So any time he gets the chance he does this to me:

he parked in the very last spot in the parking lot, waaaaaaay out there. See it? You might have to squint.
 He dropped me off at the door at Garden Ridge because he wanted to go next door to Sears, and then thought it would be hilarious to park as far away as possible. He is such a goober.

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Harrison had his very first soccer game last weekend! The kids voted and named their team the Dragons. For his age group they do a 30 minute practice and 30 minute game back to back. It was a gorgeous day to be outdoors and we had a great time cheering him on. For having zero experience, he actually did really well. I had to laugh because when he got tired/lazy, he went and stood by the goal and said he was going to be the goalie, even though they don't have goalies for this age group. :)



jumping jacks


Apparently it tuckered him out. I turned around and he was sitting in my chair like this with his legs crossed. It's tough being a mini David Beckham.

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Rick and I got a good laugh at this masterpiece. I was relieved when he told me his drawing was of a monster and not, in fact, boobs.


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 Harper has a cute outfit that is made out of a thin knit, and anytime she wears it this is what she does all day long:


Her dad is not thrilled. Ha!

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And this is just a picture I took of them before we left the house one day. They were being so sweet to each other.  

 

I cannot wait to get my hands on these two itty bitties tomorrow morning. My world is just not right when they are away.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Death by Slumber Party

 It's a sad day when you wake up feeling like you stayed out too late at frat party last night: achy body, exhausted, completely clothed in yesterday's jeans, shirt, bra and makeup....but instead just fell asleep in your toddler's twin bed at 7:30pm.

What's even sadder is when your husband does the same thing in The 4-Year Old's twin bed, but when we both wake up we discover that The 4-Year Old has abandoned the rest of the family and is sound asleep all by his lonesome in our nice, cozy, king size bed. I can't decide if he's a traitor or just really smart.

All I know is holy guacamole, I must not ever do that again! Sleeping with Harper is like signing up for a beat down all night long. I got slapped, kicked and headbutted and I'm pretty sure I'll have the bruises to prove it. That poor girl woke up crying and whining no less than 5 times and when I tried to comfort her she glared and pushed me away. It's like it's in her genes to be angry and mean when she's sleeping? ;)

We have never made it a habit to lie down with them because we never wanted to get stuck doing it regularly, but they haven't adjusted 100% to sharing a room at bedtime yet. And when I say "adjusted" I mean actually going to sleep versus jumping from bed to bed and partying all night long. Sometimes they just need a little policing help. We usually stagger their bedtimes so we won't have to stay in there and reinforce, but lately I've had a hard time resisting Harper's requests to "lay down and chat with me, mommy!" Such sweet, sweet conversations.

Lately it's been her birthday party(ies). She loves to talk all about her big plans. This year she wants a pink ballerina party, next year she wants a blue Ariel party, the year after that she wants a teacup birthday party. That girl KNOWS what she wants. She tells me all about the cake and cupcakes in detail. She tells me what she wants for her gift. This year, it's "a pink unicorn from daddy. A REAL one and not a fake one." Well that should be easy, ha! She loves to go through her guest list and name all the people in her class. When we get to a few names she makes a disgusted face and tells me they aren't invited. That sweet girl apparently has a little snob in her. :)

Colors are another one of her favorite topics. I never thought that one could spend 15 minutes talking solely about colors, but it is totally possible. Pink and purple are by far her favorites, but she also feels the need to point out that she really likes all the colors. I took a video one night of our conversation because I know one day she won't care to sit and talk to her momma about little trivial things like this and I'll miss it. She is a great reminder to fully enjoy even the simple things in life. We were driving yesterday and she saw some trees that are beginning to bloom and she could hardly contain her excitement over all the "purple trees" and pointed every single one out along the way. I love that sweet girl so much.




Speaking of yesterday, we took advantage of the sun's reappearance and headed to the park.




And when I was cooking dinner last night, I realized it had been 5 minutes of quiet for Miss Harper, which is about 5 minutes too long without producing hefty suspicion of mischief. Yep, I was right. Gotta trust that mom instinct when a toddler is involved.



Harrison asked me to take their picture. They take pride in their level of crazy.



And here is Harrison in his dad's glasses last night.



I'm certain there's a hilarious caption to describe these adorable pictures but my brain is too fried to come up with one. Maybe I'll ask the boy himself when he awakens from his peaceful slumber in my giant king size bed.  ;)

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Game Plan

Harper had her allergy testing yesterday to see if we could identify anything that might be triggering her asthma. Poor baby girl was NOT happy when the nurses were pricking her. She had a tougher time than her brother did.


She's allergic to grass, trees, and mold. Those should be easy to avoid, right? ha! The doctor doesn't feel like these are huge contributors to her asthma, though, and should be easily controlled by the Singulair that was recently added to her regimen. Her biggest triggers so far have been viral (usually has asthma episodes right before she comes down with a cold) and inhaled smoke or fumes. Over the last 2 weeks it's improved (only had to use her rescue inhaler 3 times) with her upped dosage of Qvar steroids so hopefully that will get it better under control.

It's not routine to test asthma patients for food allergies but since she is at a higher risk for nut allergies since she has a sibling with them, she got tested for those as well. Not the news I was hoping for...she is also allergic to 2 kinds tree nuts. Less than Harrison, thankfully, but she's at higher risk for a severe reaction because of her asthma.

Before Thursday I really didn't have a lot of knowledge about food allergies. I have a 9 year old cousin who is severely allergic to peanuts (can't even touch them or his skin breaks out in hives) and I know it's been a hard journey for my aunt and uncle. But other than him, I've always been sort of quick to shrug off the trend of food allergies and intolerances. You hear all this buzz around words like gluten and I've never really bought into all of it. I guess just because I never had a reason to? But after reading about nut allergies and hearing personal stories from several moms in my community I definitely understand now that it's imperative to take them seriously.

It would be one thing if ingestion just caused a rash or hives or an upset stomach, but nut allergies can be life-threatening really fast. They are the 2nd leading cause of childhood death. And they are sneaky. Just because you have a mild reaction the first time or two does not mean it will stay that way. Increased exposure can actually make them worse. The way I understand it is their bodies have a limit, and once they've reached that maximum limit that's when they start to go into shock. Even from just traces through cross contamination of the nut they're allergic to.

This has all been really overwhelming. There are a lot of implications that will affect our daily life, but the hardest part is battling the fear and anxiety. I feel a lot of pressure to protect my babies and obviously there will be many occasions in which I'm not in control. Entrusting their safety to others is going to be my biggest challenge to find peace in. Yesterday was my Cry Day. It started pretty much the moment I left the doctor's office and continued on and off all day. But I got it all out of my system and I feel much better today. Rick and I sorted through everything and came up with a strategy on how we're going to best manage everything...and this Type A girl copes a lot better with a game plan.

*Obviously, avoid tree nuts. Even the nuts they aren't allergic to, because there is a high risk of cross-contamination and also a risk of developing allergies to them since they're closely related. To be more specific, tree nuts include: walnuts, pecans, almonds, hazelnuts, cashews, pistachios, pine nuts, and Brazil nuts.

*This means reading every food label. We also have to look for the warnings that say "manufactured in a facility that processes tree nuts" or "may contain traces of tree nuts." It's usually right under the ingredients list. Which, by the way, are on TONS of food products that you would never suspect with this warning label. A few examples: canned frosting and cookie sprinkles, 95% of the loaves of bread at our grocery store, ice cream, etc.

*I will be providing their own snacks at school to make it easier for the teachers to avoid giving them something they can't have.

*No more food bought from bakeries or any cakes, cookies, brownies, etc. that aren't homemade by myself or someone I know is aware of their allergies. This will be challenging at birthday parties and holidays but I told the kids that if they ever have to pass up a treat they really want, we can make our own goodies at home to make up for it. My goal isn't for them to miss out on fun or feel left out, but it's my job to protect them. I talked to a mom over the weekend whose child took one bite of a cookie that they didn't know had cashews in it and they were calling an ambulance 5 minutes later. It's not worth the risk.

*The kids will each have their own Epi Pen carrying case to leave with them at church/school/YMCA/etc. We remind the teachers and caregivers each time we drop them off and make sure they know how to administer the medicine and what signs to look for.

*We ordered them each an allergy bracelet to wear to serve as a reminder during snack or lunch time.

*We are training them to ask before accepting any food whether or not it could have nuts in it. If the person says that they aren't sure, we are teaching them to say they can't have it. It's already helped, too. Someone offered them a free sample at the grocery store and Harrison asked if it had nuts, and sure enough, it did.

*When we go out to eat we will make sure to let the server and/or manager know that they have nut allergies. We will have avoid greek and asian restaurants as well as ice cream parlors (boooo) due to the high use of nuts and therefore high cross-contact risk.

My main purpose in writing this post is to educate family and friends who are around the kids on a regular basis. Rick and I both feel that the more we teach our loved ones about nut allergies, the safer our babies will be. I'm also going to provide a few links that have been helpful to us. Please take a few minutes to read and get informed.


http://www.foodallergy.org/allergens/tree-nut-allergy

http://www.foodallergy.org/anaphylaxis

http://www.epipen.com/how-to-use-epipen

http://kidshealth.schn.health.nsw.gov.au/fact-sheets/tree-nut-allergy

http://itchylittleworld.com/2013/02/05/its-just-not-worth-the-risk-our-anaphylactic-experience/



We did consider the validity of the test results and whether or not we should get a second opinion. This is going to be a huge adjustment for us and we want to be sure they are truly at risk before shifting our lives around and worrying all the time. False positives are possible. But considering 4 out of 5 of the 60 substances Harrison tested positive for were nuts, it's pretty safe to say the pattern speaks for itself. The allergist we saw was highly recommended and I got a good feeling from him. I don't see that getting a second opinion would help us because it would be the same exact test. It's too risky to do an oral food challenge now since they are so young, but when they are 8 or 9 that will be an option. (food challenges are where they are given tiny amounts of the food to ingest and they are closely monitored in a hospital in case they have a reaction). So for now we are going to play it safe and be cautious. And of course pray that they don't ever get in a situation where they need their Epi Pen.

I'm sure I don't need to say this but I feel like I should put it out there. And please hear me when I say I don't mean this disrespectfully. But if anybody rolls their eyes at us, gives us negative feedback, brushes this off, isn't supportive of our cautiousness, and doesn't take this as seriously as we do, we will not be leaving our children in their care. It is our primary responsibility to protect our kids and we have carefully researched and considered the risks and how we want to manage all of it. We can't in good conscience entrust them to anybody we feel isn't 100% on board with diligently protecting them through avoidance. Put yourself in our shoes; I'm sure anybody with kids can understand where we're coming from.

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