Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The Calm Before the Storm

Or her.

At two years and ten months old, Jordan declared that she wanted to wear big girl underwear. Apparently a boy in her nursery school class was using the potty. Yay! She followed her statement with, "I don't want to use the potty." Um?...Okay. Notice that I didn't even bring up the topic. I think that today, I may be a tiny bit proud of this fact.

Jordan was able to keep her Barbie and Princess underwear dry each morning, day after day. But there was one small glitch in this training process. She wasn't staying dry because she was using her potty. Oh no. She was dry because she would hold her pee in until nap time. You see, at nap time I would put a diaper on her. I couldn't expect her to stay dry while she was sleeping, could I?

She would stay dry from 8:15 am until 2:45 pm, everyday. That's a long time. She would try to go on the potty (probably to placate me) and even watch TV, while trying. I hoped this would take her mind off of the task at hand.  But she would always say,  "Nothing comes out, Mommy." Yes. I can see that.

Sometimes a little would come out. Very little. So we would continue to wait for another twenty minutes. To no avail.

Who can go a little bit, and then have nothing else come out?

Anyone who has ever over indulged in drinking of any kind, knows that once "the seal" is broken, it's like trying to stop Niagara Falls.  Jordan's Niagara Falls didn't start flowing until she was securely wrapped in her diaper, and in the privacy of her own crib.

So Jordan's first attempt didn't go too badly. I didn't get angry or upset, and neither did she. That all changed when she was a  bit over the age of three. I'm not sure why, but in my mind, three was the magic age when all kids should stop peeing and pooping on themselves.  And three, was only two months away.

Thank you,

Us Too

Monday, February 22, 2016

Honesty. It's Better Than Sugar Coated BS

This next section may seem trivial to some. It might bore others. But I don't think that it can be ignored or omitted. Each one of us went through it, and it's a normal part of development. Plus, I'm pretty sure that our experience with Jordan was a bit a-typical. Surprise.

I'm referring to the once in a lifetime, fun-filled days of potty training.  The first time that I documented from my journals, I actually omitted the parts that portrayed me as a psycho mom, who appeared to be in dire need of a vacation. But I knew this wasn't okay.

That's right, in this blog you get the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. I mean, why not? Maybe some of you out there can learn from my mistakes. I might not know everything about parenting, but I do know that our kids have the uncanny ability to push us to our ultimate, sometimes mind-blowing, limits. And I ask you, who can think straight while in that state of mind? Definitely not me.

I'm also open to sharing all of the pleasant, and not so pleasant, details because thankfully we now have the beautiful, confident, high achieving, intelligent eighteen year old Jordan. So I'm assuming we must have done something right along the way. Right?

I hope it's obvious that I'm not sharing our story so I come out looking like the mom of the year. Far from it. I'm writing Us Too because families have issues. Kids and parents can have emotional problems, chemical imbalances or strong personality traits. I know that I've said this a number of times, but the more these issues are understood and addressed, the more ability we will have to support and help one another throughout our lives.

Basically in our family, like in most, we were all doing the best we could with what we had.

Stay tuned. There is a poop-load more potty talk to follow...

Thank you,

Us Too

Thursday, February 18, 2016

I Guess Parents Never Stop Parenting

Now that I think back, I remember telling Weeze (aka my mom) that I wasn't comfortable disciplining my kids in front of her and my dad.  Maybe it was because I wanted them to think that my kids were perfect and we didn't have any problems with them. After all, my grandparents didn't see my brother or I get yelled at, or misbehave in any way. We are always on our best behavior when we were with them. But we only saw them for short periods of time. We would go over and celebrate a holiday or birthday, enjoy the day, and then drive home. 

When Weeze and Dad came from Florida, which they eventually did five times a year, once for each grandchild's birthday, they stayed with us for a week or more. They temporarily moved in. I loved when they did, and I wouldn't have changed a thing, except for maybe the number of tantrums thrown. I wouldn't have changed anything because they really did get to know our kids.  They witnessed the good, the bad, and the off-the-chart, behaviors.

It was all out there for everyone to experience. It's hard for a family to be on its best behavior for over a week, night and day. And when I say hard, I mean it's pretty much impossible.

Years later, when Jordan wouldn't, or more accurately, couldn't get herself off her floor on Mother's Day, it was Grandma Weeze who talked to her, dried her tears, and eventually got her to join us. I tried, but I was too in it, too hurt, too emotional. I realized that I wasn't helping, so I backed off (not easy) and asked Weeze if she would be comfortable giving it a try. And thankfully, she was. 

I wonder if we ever really stop learning from our parents...

So Adam and I did learn, and we really buckled down. We were a team and always tried to back one another up. We began confronting her defiance, her throwing of toys, her anger, calmly and quickly. And it began to make a difference. Her tantrums weren't less intense, but they were shorter in duration. She started to settle down in minutes instead of hours. She would come down and tell us that she was sorry. Woo hoo! Things were getting better. 

Thank you,

Us Too

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Monday, February 15, 2016

Something to Briefly Think About

Adam and I had a conversation about my last post. In it, I said that the unconditional love provided by grandparents is a special, irreplaceable kind of love. I do believe this. But the definition of unconditional love as found in the dictionary is:

Unconditional love is known as affection without any limitations, it can also be love without conditions. This term is sometimes associated with other terms such as true altruism, or complete love.

Here's my question to you: When children are involved, is there ever a time when no conditions are necessary? Like zero conditions? How about for grandparents? I try to imagine our lives if we would have had no limits, no rules, no schedules; no conditions. All of the issues we had dealing with Jordan would have been a million times worse if she never knew what to expect, or what was expected of her, At least that's what I assume.

Get's you thinking, doesn't it? If you look at it this way, it seems like being a grandparent could be a rather complicated position to be in. Regardless, and keep in mind that I may have no idea what I am talking about, I surely hope that (many years from now) Adam and I get the opportunity to figure it out, side by side. :)

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Thank you,

Us Too

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Kids, Parents, and Grandparents. It Could Get Tricky

I have no idea why part of this is pink. I have tried everything to change it and Adam isn't home to help me. Let's just say that it's a Valentine's Day miracle. Happy Valentine's Day!

I think it's pretty clear that I did what my parents told me to. It is also clear that there were many times when Jordan did not do what we asked of her, at least not without a fight. Did this bother me? Of course it did. At times I felt like an inadequate parent. 

That's why it was interesting when I saw Jordan give Grandma Weeze and Grandpa Tony a hard time. It kind of shocked me. My dad asked Jordan to help him clean up the toys, and Jordan informed him that she didn't want to. Oh boy. He then gave her a choice, either help clean up, or go up to your room (This began to have a very familiar ring to it). She refused to do either.

Here we go.

He then motioned towards her forcefully, scaring her up the stairs while she was running, screaming and crying. I certainly didn't mind that he yelled at her. Let's face it, she told him "No.".  We all endured a period of intense screaming, but then she did come downstairs.  She told him that she was sorry, and then she was all lovey-dovey with him. Phew.

I thought to myself that there is no telling how many times this exact same scenario could repeat itself while they were visiting, but this time it did appear to work. This was a good thing, because the unconditional love provided by grandparents is a special, irreplaceable kind of love. All the parenting crap, in theory, shouldn't really be a part of it.

During this same visit, my mom told me that she had to wrestle Jordan into her clothes two times. She said she actually had to pin her down and threaten to smack her butt, in order to get her dressed. Welcome to my world. I know this was not easy for my mom to deal with. A child not listening to her was one thing. But her first, beautiful granddaughter not listening to her, I would assume that took her to a whole other level of mixed up feelings. And Jordan was a big three year old who was still in diapers. This made getting her dressed that much more difficult and frustrating.

Seeing Jordan behave in the same manner that she had done with us, but with my parents, was strange. I have to admit that I was a bit amused by it. Maybe, just maybe, she actually was a tough kid to handle, and we weren't failing her in the discipline department.

There were other times, years later when again, Jordan challenged my parents. These times were much more intense because, well, I guess Jordan was much more intense. At this time though, when our kids were young, I was just thankful that they got to spend this irreplaceable time with their grandparents.

Thank you,

Us Too

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Princess Kate is Talking About Kid's Mental Health...

So why wouldn't we?

I was watching the news the other night and I was happy to see this video. Princess Kate has decided to be the Royal Patron of the organization, Place2Be,  Place2Be is passionate about providing a better future for children, by giving them the tools needed to better cope with life's stressful events.

You probably know by now that in my opinion, the more this topic is talked about and publicized, the better it is for all involved.

My favorite quote from this three minute video was "While we cannot always change a child's circumstances, we can give them the tools to cope and to thrive. With early support they can learn to manage their emotions and their feelings, and know when to seek help."

How great is that? So let's all continue talking about mental health and supporting those who may need it. :)

Thank you,

Us Too

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Trying to Ignore the Stigma of Mental Illness

So Kayla has begun showing some OCD-ish tendencies before bed. To explain that briefly, there are some rituals she feels that she needs to do every night. They take time, so it's difficult for her to get to sleep. For a junior in high school, this is the last thing that she needs. High school kids are already sleep deprived enough.

I'm bringing this up because even though I'm very vocal about trying to break the stigma, and my advice is: don't worry about the stigma, I think that I still do. Crap. Because if I would explain to someone about Kayla's new symptoms, I would mention that we are able to cope, because we are already familiar with all of this. After all, we have been through it with Jordan.

That's when I hear the voice in my head saying: Well that sounds just great, two of our kids have the same problems. My next thought is: people are going to wonder what the hell is going on in our house.

There's that stupid stigma.  Us Too.

First of all, why do I care what people think? Second of all, why do two of our kids have similar issues?  Sure, I know that it runs in families. Yes, I know that stress and lack of sleep contribute to these behaviors. But Adam and I do all that we can to try to prevent the stress. We anti-push taking the hard AP and honor classes. We communicate with them about everything, take them to therapy, explain that as long as you do your best, it will always be enough... yet they are still suffering. And it sucks.

Just last week I was told through tears, "I have some B's. I can't be just average."  Uggh... Average? Our girls are so far from average, that at times they boggle my mind.

I'm not sure what my point is, except to share that it is important to realize that all we can do is continue to support and love our kids. And let's not forget to not give a crap about what others may be thinking. And maybe most importantly, because nothing positive ever comes from this, let's try not to blame ourselves.

Thank you.  Happy Superbowl Sunday!

Us Too

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Things That Make You Go Hmmm

This title is a little C+C Music Factory throw back song. I thought it would be a good idea to help counteract the seriousness of this entry.

Adam and I completed the second half of the Mental Health First Aid class. So next time you see us, feel free to share your inner-most demons and struggles. Just let loose, because we can handle any mental issue that could possibly be thrown our way. 

I'm kidding, of course. 

I did thoroughly enjoy the class, and I found it to be very informative. There were a few facts and ideas given that really stood out to me, so much that I'm still thinking about them today. I would like to share these with you.

  • 89% of individuals with mental disorders are treatable with services and supports. ~~ I don't know about you, but I think this is a pretty good statistic.
  • Half of all mental health issues begin by age 14. The average time that it takes for those to seek treatment is TEN years. ~~ This is way too long! I'm sure that the negative stigma associated with mental illness contributes to this sad statistic.
  • Mental health challenges and disorders are the leading cause of disability in the United States. ~~ Damn! 
  • Suicide is the second leading cause of death on college campuses. (The first is accidents.) ~~ This fact is unbelievably scary.
  • The phrase "committed suicide", should not be used. ~~ Think about other things that are committed: crimes, sins... It has a very negative connotation. That is the last thing the person's loved ones should be faced with. Alternatives are, "died by", or "resorted to" suicide.
  • No one would ever describe a person who has cancer as "cancerous". So if a person has schizophrenia, should we describe him as "a schizophrenic?" No. He "has schizophrenia". An illness is an illness...
  • This quote totally sums up why people need to be more educated and comfortable dealing with the topic of mental illness: "If more people were prepared when I went into a crisis it would never have been called a crisis. It would have been a meaningful conversation about what my needs were in that moment, and how the people who were closest to me could support me through it." ~~  I love this. It was stated by Brianna Masselli. She wrote it in the forward to the book, Youth Mental Health First Aid. Think of how many less kids would suffer, just because the people who love and surround them, possess the knowledge and language to support them.

So, are you now going hmmm?? I hope so. :)

Thank you,
Us Too