Christmas Countdown Out of Whack

Well, I’m terrible at updating the countdown this year. But we have done all sorts of fun things.

Day 11: Pick out ornament for the tree (2012 was Cat in the Hat, 2013 was Tow Mater, 2014 is Minnie Mouse) This was the first year that Miss Punky picked out the ornament herself. Its going to be a very Merry Minnie Christmas. Literally. She has asked for only two things from Santa. Minnie Bike and Light Up Shoes. I have the bike in the works (her godfather is painting an old bike we had) and the light up shoes I got for her are Minnie Mouse and the bows and hearts light up. She’s going to love them.

From her moms so far I have gotten her a zebra print Minnie Mouse bath robe, because she’s so dramatic about being cold when she comes out of the tub and dries off. The small walk to her room or down the stairs in just a towel brings on the jitters and shivers. Its pretty darn adorable. I also found the cutest Minnie Mouse duffel bag for traveling and it comes with a sleeping bag. So when we go visit my family, she will have her own bag to take! Just like a big girl.

So – Minnie Mouse is the theme of this year.

10007071_10153425943059148_5804401524306364908_n

Day 12:Angel Tree and Senior Tree at Walmart. Walmart always sponsors children for Christmas. Kim and I have been picking stars off the tree for several years. This is the first time Miss Punky picked her own star. A 6 year old girl who wanted a baby doll and stroller. Miss Punky picked out the baby doll and I added the cheapest stroller(cause we aren’t made of money) to give to the little girl. Our bank sponsors seniors. I always try to take one of those as well. Punky picked a Grammy instead of a Papa and we bought their wish list item of art supplies.

I always feel bad that the paper ornaments with all the senior citizens on it are not usually touched. In fact, when I went to put the gift in the their collect box, there was trash inside of it, but no gifts. When we went back to Walmart the end day of the collection, there were still the same amount of ornaments on the tree. No one ever thinks of the senior citizens – at least that’s the way it looks. It’s pretty sad.

10868078_10153428898854148_9101640743576519456_n

Day 13: Kim’s grandfather’s union always has a Christmas Party and he gathers all his grandkids and great grandkids together for chili and nachos at 9am. We adults are getting to be a little less steel stomached for it. But they have Santa and pictures and lots of great things for the kids to do. Its a nice time normally. I didn’t get to attend, because with this midnight shift, I have been sleeping in late. So, I’m not in the family picture with Santa. But! Miss Punky is sitting on Santa’s lap! How exciting is that development?!

10392452_10203730761131554_5975348658045299689_n

Kim, Mrs. Claus, Santa, Uncle Eric, Punky, and Aunt Ashley

10836422_10153725629972195_1194133813_n

I very small portion of the very large Italian family that I married into. They are all the grandkids and great-grandkids and their parents.

Day 14: We colored plastic ornament balls with sharpies for our neighbors and their kids as well as her godparents. She had fun just scribbling and it really added character to the gifts.

553284_10153433059104148_3768549941426297788_n

Day 15: We filled the ornaments with hot chocolate and then delivered them to their new owners. They are lucky they got any marshmallows though, because she kept putting them in her mouth, instead of in the ornament!

10682425_10153436574079148_6788602757026370592_o

So that’s what we have been up to so far. I have also mailed all my Santa Letters this year. I dropped them in the mailbox to be picked up yesterday, so they are on their way to all the kids on the list. 140 of them this year!

10678759_10153430755619148_5027971448701475349_n

10392469_10153431152724148_6758108362848203401_n

10438258_10153434735684148_6412271761116570528_n

We have 9 days til Christmas. This has been the most interactive holiday with Punky – the one where she has participated, started to fully understand that this is a holiday, and really gotten into the spirit. I can’t wait to keep on making traditions with her!

A Monster is Visiting Our House

With being a parent comes the fun and exciting world of “How the hell do you react to that?” moments. I’m having  a few of those lately. I mean, there’s no magical handbook to parenting that comes with your kid. It doesn’t come flying out with the placenta to say, “Here’s how to raise this kid.” and has the perfect guide to every possible situation you will encounter. If it did, I would need to read up on the chapter of “When a Monster Visits Your Toddler.”

Yesterday was a very looooooooong day. And it started as my only day off in the week. And ended with me falling asleep at 7PM, before Punky’s bedtime and getting no cuddle time at bedtime. SAD DAY.

Let’s start at the beginning.

This cute face showed up at the top of the basement steps at 6:30AM yesterday.

2014-08-12 09.54.09

I had fallen asleep around 3-3:30AM after working til midnight. I was shocked and a little disoriented to find her standing at the top of the steps. This picture is actually from a few days ago, at the top of the living room steps, but its the same effect, without the ARMFUL of babies.

According to Grammy, she came down stairs, crying from her room, about how she had a monster in her room and she was afraid. Of course, Grammy tried to comfort her and she was having none of it. Instead, she promptly went down the stairs and found our room in the basement.

She just broke my heart with her little cries of fear and she climbed into my bed and cuddled. “Mommy I cried.” “Mommy I afraid.” “Mommy there a monster in my room.”

Now, I’m a believer of all things, this includes things like ghosts and other assorted things. Yes, for a woman who’s not a religious believer, I do believe there are things that kids may or may not be able to see that we can’t see. So, while I know that monsters are a normal part of a kid’s developing brain, and it was likely just a nightmare.

To Punky, its a real thing.

2014-08-11 11.09.01

To confuse the matter, I’ve noticed in our efforts to help calm her and keep her our ever so presently sweet baby girl, we are all in the house, suggesting different things to her. Giving her many ideas about the monsters that does or doesn’t live in her room. Sometimes we tell her that there are no such thing as monsters. Sometimes we tell her that there are no monsters at this particular house. Sometimes tell her the monster just wants to be her friend. Sometimes telling her that it was a bad dream. At some points we tell her its nothing. In the end, to a two year old, I can’t imagine all the conflicting information is easy to process for her little brain.

And I struggle with what to say at all. I don’t want to discount her fears. I don’t want to tell her she’s wrong. Because to her, its was a very real experience. It was something that very much happened to her. And she was pretty darn vocal about it. I didn’t even know she knew what “being afraid” meant. I didn’t know she knew what that word was. She continues to astonish me with her language skills and the way she expresses herself.

I want her to know that its okay – that she is safe and no one is going to let anything bad happen to her. In the end, the goal for me – is not to discount her experience or if imagination is at work here, to discourage that type of creativity (albeit scary to her at the moment.)

2014-08-13 18.26.47

 

Its not our job to tell her what is real and what isn’t real. To her this was a very real experience. And I would never want her to think I didn’t believe her. I would like to think I could help her think through the process of determining for herself what it is this monster represents or this monster is to her. What it really means. Because – as a Mommy, I don’t know if I believe one way or another that there is a monster hanging out in her room. I’m undecided. Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean its not a real thing to her.

So, I am struggling with the complex nature of the situation, and at such a rapid pace. While she was sitting on my bed, cuddling with me, telling me about the monster in her room, dried tears on her cheeks, I felt helpless. Like I was failing somehow as her mother in that moment, because what do you say? How do you respond? How do you keep her innocent and sweet and so very much content in that moment?

2014-08-10 08.44.30

I want to convey that she is safe. I want her to know that she is loved. I want her to know she can come to me when she is scared, upset, angry. I don’t want to discount her feelings. I don’t want to minimize the very real fear she had in that moment.

And perhaps not all parents think this hard about how the reaction to a real or imaginary monster, a dream or a nightmare, a spirit or a shadow is going to effect their child’s life. I do.

Its the type of parent I am. I want her to think about it, I want her to deduce her own conclusions. I want her to know I will follow her down the path she is on and we can seek the knowledge together. On all sorts of things. This monster included.

2014-08-13 18.27.46-1

For the time being. I am not discouraging the idea that monsters are real. I am very much open to the possibility that it is something she experienced. Dream or no dream, shadow of a stray toy on the floor or  a creak she heard in the house – it was  real to her. I don’t have the answers.

What I do have is a new identity. An identity as Mommy. And in my little girl’s eyes that means all things will be better with Mommy’s hugs and kisses. And I will always stand by that identity. The more she grows, the more I grow in that role and the more I fall down in the moment, but pick myself up after the fact. The initial response to this monster in her room was not executed as flawlessly as I would have liked. Most things aren’t when it comes to this mothering thing.

But, I feel comfortable in my decision to instead expose her to what is a possible alternative. Monsters may  or may not be around, but she is safe and there is nothing that will harm her, not while I’m around. Not while her Mama’s around.

Because in the end, I want her to be creative. I want her to use that imagination of hers and sometimes creativity and imagination can be scary. I forget that she’s two sometimes  and that doesn’t discount that she is still growing and learning. Her concept of things are still being shaped. I want her to shape them for herself. I want her to be the person she is and think about the world from her own unique perspective.

And hopefully, since last night, she went to bed with no problems. NO need to search the room for monsters I am told (remember, I passed out before bedtime) and no real issues. When she wakes up, I suppose we will see if this was just a passing thing for the day or something we will be encountering more often. I hope for the first one, so that she can go back to building mountains with her Kinetic Sand and riding her trike around the driveway in peace and monster free!

2014-08-13 12.08.44          2014-08-11 16.25.26

Have you had to address this monster in the closet yet? Have you been looking under your kids’ beds for things that go bump in the night? I’m all ears on how you handle it. I am am still trying to figure out my own strategy!

Adjustments and Changes Coming Soon

Of all the memories I can think of my childhood, very few would be considered “normal”. Very few would be considered “happy”. I’m sure I had lots of happy, normal childhood moments, and yet, I really can’t remember many. I bring it up, because of all the childhood memories, I remember one so vividly , at least the emotion that it sparked in me at the time – that sometimes I have to wonder if I made it up.

As I come out of Punky’s room after 45 minutes of cuddles, rocking, singing, and back rubbing – it reminds me of a time when my Mom did the same for me. I don’t remember the specifics, I couldn’t tell you which house we were in, I can’t tell you how old I was. But I can remember trying so hard to fight off the sleepy feeling as my mom rubbed my back, skin to skin, for how many minutes, I have no idea.

IMG_7941

I knelt next to Punky’s bed, as she was hysterical tonight, not wanting to sleep, scared, just being stubborn, who knows, but she needed some Mommy time. We are a cry it out kind of family in most cases, but I have been extra sensitive to her neediness since the move. She’s been more clingy, more whiny, just more needy in general. She’s also more busy than normal, she doesn’t want to settle down -there’s too much to talk about, too much to do, too much to see and take in.

IMG_7829

While I rubbed her back, humming and making up the lyrics to a tune I didn’t know – I thought about what my Mom was thinking all those years ago. When she was rubbing my back. When she watched me fight the sleep, shushing me and whispering to me to close my eyes. What would go through her mind as she tried to help me fall asleep? Was she worried about missing what was going on in the room next door? Was she overwhelmed with overflowing love for me in that moment? Was she so exhausted that she didn’t really have a thought or time to think about anything specific?

I don’t remember singing, though its possible that occurred. I don’t remember much other than a slow motion sleepiness that happened when I asked her to rub my back and she would roll me on my tummy and sit on the side of the bed until I fell asleep. As a mother now, I haven’t quite mastered the staying long enough to ensure that Punky is fully asleep, but she’s drowsy enough to get to sleep minutes after I shut the door.

IMG_7926

This isn’t her actual bed, but she looks adorable on the baby shower gift Aunt Ashley and Grammy made for someone’s new baby coming soon!

Punky went back to school today, a banking error on the daycare’s part, but its caught up now, so I won’t protest too much. She was delighted to go to school and I know the adults in the house were delighted to sleep in, take a little break and make the day a quiet and peaceful one. She came home from school full of stories about her friends and playing outside, complete with green paint in her banks and glitter on her cheeks. Its nice to have her back in school.

This is my last week with day shift at work. I will start working 1-midnight and contrary to what other people think – I actually picked the shift! I am looking forward to it. I worked it about a year ago with my interim supervisor role and I loved it. I get to see Punky in the morning/afternoon and can take her on early play dates to the park or the library. Its also a 10  hour shift, which means that I will only work 4 days a week with rotating 1 weekend a month. Its the perfect and ideal situation for us. Kim and I have both discussed it and decided with our many doctor/therapy visits – a day off during the week is going to be great.

It will also give me time to decompress during the week. This Monday through Friday 8-5PM is supposed to be a dream job spot for most people, its just not working out for me and I am slowly, well no …. quickly feeling the candle burn out. So a few new change and routine will do me some good – my therapist agrees.

IMG_7998

The changes keep coming for Miss Punky though and I’m not at all delusional in thinking this won’t be a shock to her system. She’s tough – I know toddlers are more resilient than we give them credit for, but I feel like all the changes are overwhelming her delicate little brain and emotions. She’s just so clingy to me right now – but hopefully, this will mean I get to spend MORE time with her instead of less. I may not be able to put her to bed, but I will be able to come home and eat dinner, maybe read her a story before bed.

IMG_8029

Kim’s health is doing better, thank goodness. It was quite a scare for a while. But she has gotten the use of her legs back and her Lithium levels, I believe, are back in the normal range. We are getting into a routine and its about to change, but we can only do what we can do and so for now – I will be thankful that she is better health wise – as as good as she can be. We are happy, anxiously waiting for Missouri to overturn the ban on gay marriage. I’m planning a wedding for my friend, but I’d really like to be planning my own wedding!

In other news, my Uncle had some sort of stroke on Tuesday, I don’t really have all the details. he’s no longer in the hospital and I talked to him this afternoon. He seems as well as expected, tired but alive.

My grandpa fell off his tractor a few days ago and broke his leg right above the knee. He’s currently in the hospital, my poor grandma has been running around taking care of both of them! He’s been showing signs of dementia/Alzheimer’s for quite a few years now and it doesn’t bode well for his condition. They all live three hours away and I don’t feel like I’m getting enough information to feel comfortable about being away. But they tell me he’s out of surgery and doing as well as can be expected as well. They will be moving him to a nursing home rehab center to get some help with walking, like he doesn’t already have a hip replacement as it is.

IMG_8000

So, while that stuff is all scary and the changes just keep coming, the adjustments are being made and we are rolling with the punches life has been dealing out. That’s all one can really do, right? Hang on for the ride…. we are hanging on ….

4/52 – Adventures With Mommy

Image

This week was really all about exploring the adventures we could have with Mommy. And learning that sometimes, the best “me time” is time with the little girl who makes your world go ’round. I’m exploring and learning new things too!