I vs You

I don’t know when I first heard about empathizing with an upset toddler, but it was way before I had one of my own and was paid to parent how families wanted me to. I was reintroduced to the concept a few years ago through Janet Lansbury’s blog. Sportscasting made a lot of sense to me and worked, though I didn’t have many opportunities to use it when multiple children were having an issue. I also read many articles about making sure your upset child felt heard and acknowledged. From the examples, it seemed like it nearly immediately eased the situation and helped the child move forward, but my experiences never added up to that.

A couple days ago, it clicked. I am currently reading No Bad KidsThe Case for Make Believe, and the occasional Teacher Tom post. I have also been trying to make the time to listen to some of Janet Lansbury’s podcasts while I cook or clean. I realized that I have been phrasing things completely wrong. Wallace hasn’t been feeling heard and the situations always escalate.

When Wallace gets upset, I often say something such as “I hear that you want a candy, but we aren’t having candy right now.” This never worked but I couldn’t figure out why! I thought I was saying what he needed to hear, but my emphasis was all wrong and I was taking it personally in the process. I thought he wanted to know that *I* heard him. Strike that and reverse it. *He* wanted to be heard. Doh!

A few days ago, I started my acknowledging sentences with “you” and the impact was immediate. He felt heard! He still didn’t like what I had to say, but he knew I heard him. It keeps working and in combination with the visual schedule I made, it eases so much of the tension we often feel during times he is tired, hungry, or not wanting to transiton.

For example, we needed to get ready to leave the house but he was feeling tired and was not cooperating. He ran over to me, threw himself on the floor, and declared he was too tired to put his socks on. (Um, dude, you just ran across the room.) I said something like “you are tired and don’t want to put your socks on. We need to get ready to go.” He managed to get over to the socks and I tried again to show him on his visual schedule what we needed to do to get out the door. He threw himself around some more and instead of getting frustrated, I said “you seem tired, do you need a hug?” He climbed onto my lap for a hug and he assisted with his socks. We managed the boots, sweater, and poncho, and he happily, albeit tiredly, got out the door. Feeling like I have tools to get us through tough situations has helped me to stay calm.

As an aside, Wallace’s hypotonia makes these fine motor tasks challenging. Putting on his socks is a crucial life skill that we have been working for months and that he can usually do with minimal assistance. I lay them out for him with the heel down and sometimes have to help adjust the toes. I know he can do this and feel it’s a reasonable expectation for him to try to put his socks on every time. He also has successfully put on his orthotics and shoes with very minimal assistance, though he is resistant to working on that skill.

I’m really hopeful these tools and changes in how I respond will improve our daily interactions and our overall relationship. I want him to feel heard, which I don’t have with my parents.

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Screen Free

I really like the Screen Free Parenting website and think this post is perfect. It solidifies so much of why we don’t watch tv. Wallace gets more screen time than their kids, which is none, but watching tv is something we do together, occasionally, and for short periods of time. He sometimes gets to play a game on my kindle or on Gramma’s ipad, such as when his cheek was glued together or when it took nearly 3 hours at the barber shop, or a few minutes at home because he asked nicely and he agrees to the timer. He also watches youtube with me once in a while and he likes to check out instagram or ravelry over our shoulders. I had many people tell me that I would need the tv, especially as a single mom. I’m still proving them wrong and would love to decrease both of our screen time more. So, everyone should read the post, check out the site, and see if they might enjoy life more with fewer screens.

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MicroBlog Monday: Connections

I’m one of those extroverts who can make friends with someone in a few minutes. Be it a pleasant interaction with a cashier or deeper conversation with a person at a bus stop, I crave connection and love hearing someone else’s story. I can find common ground with anyone and don’t see the point in being closed off or devisive.

Making friends as a mom seems nearly impossible some days. I would love to have more local parent friends and more kids Wallace enjoys playing with. Somehow my attempts to connect with parents at gymnastics and story time don’t go much beyond pleasant chit chat despite seein the common ground. Since I can’t make people hang out with us, I will keep focusing on the friends we have already, though hanging out with anyone doesn’t happen weekly.

Who wouldn’t want to be friends with us?

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4th Birthday!

Wallace started the day before 7am, so I pulled myself out of bed and got up with him. He wanted his presents under the coffee table so he put them all there, and waited patiently until Gramma woke up. I got his yogurt out of the fridge and mixed in some chocolate chips, which was a mistake. He had a meltdown and cried for a while as I tried to get him to calm down and not wake up Gramma.

After he ate, he played trains and got excited for his birthday. When my mom woke up, Wallace opened his presents and then got ready for gymnastics. I got him a leotard and leggings, a fort building kit, a kid’s digital camera, a custom Monty Python shirt, and a 4 shirt that I made. Gramma got him some books, a train turntable, Kevin a crane train, and the lantern for the Follow the Light Thomas that I had found at Goodwill. Then it was time for gymnastics!

After gymnastics, we stopped to get his birthday balloons. He picked out a Thomas balloon and four latex balloons – yellow with pink butterflies, orange with hearts, pink with stars, and orange with a smiley face. He barely ate lunch because he had some serious playing to do.

We didn’t invite a ton of people, just the right amount – Kristy and Ellie (Scott and Quinn were napping), Missy and Ava, and (Great) Aunt Tammy and Bethany. Aunt Tammy also brought his christmas presents from her and from (Great Greats) Aunt Sue and Uncle Chuck, and birthday presents from Grandpa. He received books, a Thomas coloring book and 64 pack of crayons, a dry erase board and crayons, Chutes and Ladders, magnetic letters and numbers, a huge bus, clothes, a set with a film camera, flash light, and compass, a fancy mug with a W (Grandpa works at a china store), four little construction trucks, a ukulele, and money to go to the planetarium. Oh, and a set with two talking trains that he already has so we will take back to pick out something else.

I made the cake from this recipe, tripled it, and cut it into four pieces. It was pretty good but the coconut frosting was too strong for me. Wallace loved it and only one friend didn’t care for it. I put all the food in bread pans, lined them up like train cars, and Thomas pulled it unless he was being played with. I also set up a train craft, which Wallace did with me the day before. Ellie just wanted to make something with the materials and got upset that Wallace tried to micromanage her.

It was fun to relax and visit with friends and Wallace got to play with his two best friends. Wallace and Ellie played running around swords and flashlights in a dark room. Wallace and Ava mostly played check-up and then got out a barn close to the end of the party. He barely ate all day, but picked at things and ate cake at the party, then finshed up about dinner time. 

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Six Links on a Saturday

I always have a bunch of tabs open on my browser. While Wallace falls asleep, I usually read something on my phone or Kindle. So, I figured I should share what I’ve been reading and what I have open in my tabs.

Play-Trains – An entire site devoted to playing with trains! Wallace’s birthday party is train themed, specifically Thomas. I realized last night that I let an entire week go by without any party planning.

Instead of party planning, I have been having fun reading Screen Free Parenting and coming up with activities to set up for Wallace. I’m planning to write a post all about that after I’ve figured out what works and what doesn’t for Wallace. I like this letter activity but would use buttons instead of stickers or bingo dot paint. We don’t have a color printer and I’d like to make them color for him.

I read a lot about holistic health and nutrition. Iodine deficiency wasn’t something I had really learned about until I had a book I sourced for Amazon all about it. This article was really good and I have started taking Kelp powder when I remember. I’ve also been reading about earthing  which has to do with walking barefoot on the ground and electrical currents. I’m wary of anything that wants me to buy expensive products in order to get closer to the earth, but I really do like the idea of walking barefoot on the ground. I’ve been curious about dry brushing for a long time but haven’t actually researched it. I started with this article and a dry wash cloth, but I want to read more about it.

Got anything interesting you’ve been reading? A favorite parenting article?

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Flash Sale!

I haven’t posted much about Poofy Organics here, but there’s a 50% off flash sale on HD mascara and Everything Salve. For all first time customers, I refund 10% of your sale via PayPal.

I do not know how long this sale will last but will update the post with any changes.

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Parenting Title

When I was pregnant, I decided I’d go by Momma. It wasn’t like I had to negotiate my title with anyone, since I’m a single mom by choice. I started referring to myself as his Momma on this blog and it made it all seem that much more real. I call Wallace’s donor his donor, but they haven’t met yet so names and titles aren’t a big deal.

I came across this survey today and it was a fun read. We are definitely a creative bunch! I was surprised by the small number of entries over six years, knowing that this would be tripled in minutes if posted in a few LGBTQ parenting groups on facebook. Maybe someone who reads would be so inclined to share it around!

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