Let It Go

No. Even though you’ll often hear this tune playing in our house, car, sleep (I swear) – I am not referring to the insanely popular song sung by Elsa from Frozen. I am however talking about the only resolution I’m making in 2015.

Let it go. Everything! My job, my house, my kids & my marriage. Don’t start to panic, I haven’t lost my mind. I don’t mean that I’m literally letting go of those things (with the exception of my job), but I am working to let go of the small things tied to those important parts of my life.

I’m focusing on being grateful for the things our home already provides instead of seeing the “flaws” I want to fix. It doesn’t always have to look immaculate and magazine-worthy. Toys can be seen laying around and there might be some dirty dishes left on the counter. It doesn’t matter, let it go!

I will try to yell less. I know this is going to be a challenge, but I really want to find a way to make this happen because it’s not healthy for any of us and frankly – our kids deserve it. There is no way they are going to stop running, fighting, yelling and I don’t expect them to miraculously listen – but that’s what we signed on for and again, as long as they are not hurt – it doesn’t matter, let it go!

keep-calm-seriously-in-this-house-17I think if I can follow through on my first two goals, my marriage will improve as well. We are always so stressed because we are doing too many things at one time. Less home improvement projects will allow for more focused time to spend with the kids. Hopefully that added attention will eliminate some of the battles we’re constantly fighting on a daily basis. Lower standards for my children will provide less stress and hopefully less yelling and you know what they say, happy wife = happy life, right?

The year of 2014 was good to us, but I’m confident that 2015 will be even better. I will do my best to keep calm, even while living in this house amongst the inevitable chaos.


School S_ _ _S

As August comes to a close I finally realize that we need to mentally prepare ourselves for school. Yes, that’s right – one week from today Ella will start school. Today we met her kindergarten teacher and went through what to expect for our first day. I guess I thought it wouldn’t be a big deal since we’ve been dropping her off at daycare since she was 6 weeks old. Nothing changes, right? Wrong!

Ella has been pumped for this new adventure. She is excited to make new friends and really excited that there is no more nap time. However, after we left her new classroom this morning she asked me why the play areas were so small and there weren’t many toys. Even though we go to a curriculum-based daycare full of tons of opportunities, I had to explain that school is all about learning and that there would be far less time to play.

ellaShe wasn’t thrilled with my answer and I think it’s safe to say her level of enthusiasm diminished a bit, which is not great. You see – school is either going to fall into the S U C K S or S A V E S category and I was really banking on the latter. At this point, those three tiny letters hold the only hope we have for sanity.

Once again, we’ve ran into behavioral issues (I’m currently reading: Raising Your Spirited Child) at daycare and that typically means she’s bored or not challenged and is ready for something new. We have tried almost every parenting tactic and employed negotiation skills that even the best salesperson would be envious of and …nothing! Seriously. Not a single thing works on this kid. There is no reward system, positive reinforcement or threat that has an impact.

I’m hoping that her new school setting will SAVE us and provide a lot of things, really. I’d love a classroom full of kids where just one might have a larger personality than her. It would be good for her to not always be the ring leader and at the same time it would be nice for her to befriend someone with as much energy & enthusiasm as her. I hope that learning to read & write, amongst a ton of other new opportunities, will challenge her and keep her attention focused. My last request is a selfish one – I hope public school allows us to meet more parents like us. Not only would it be nice to meet some parents in our age bracket, but we’d also love to know more that share our parenting style. Very simply said, we don’t coddle our kids. If they fall, we expect them to get up. We don’t talk to them like they’re babies and helicopter moms would gasp at my lack of sensitivity. Don’t get me wrong – I am not judging other parents and their styles, but instead simply stating that it would be nice to know we’re not alone.

While I’m unsure if my wishes will come true, one thing I can guarantee – school will change our lives! Drop-off, pick-up, vacations, daily routines, free time, etc. Those things aren’t a big deal and I’m confident that we can adjust, but my bigger concern is that school will inevitably change Ella. Right now, even though she acts like she’s 15, she still thinks I’m super cool and wants to hang out with me. It’s only a matter of time before she thinks I’m lame and will opt out of our girl time to hang with her friends. She’s also been in the same, safe, monitored, controlled environment her whole life. This will be her first exposure to the big, imperfect world in which we live. This is where we enter the very real possibility of bullying, especially considering her cleft.

It’s true that she challenges me daily and while I want her to behave, I never want her to change. Her large, confident personality is a part of what makes her so special & I will do my damnedest to protect her from possible insecurities that can so easily creep in. For now I can only hope that we have instilled enough strength & bravery to allow her to take on this new adventure and if possible, come out an even stronger kid. Wish us luck and happy school year!


Minimalist Mama

I suspect this post will not make me popular or be received with open arms. When I first started this blog, the idea of sharing my candid thoughts was an exciting and freeing thought. They say you should blog like no one is reading it. Two+ years later, the reality is that I still have to filter myself because people do read it and some things are better left unsaid. I started this entry over a week ago. I have read it and re-read it. This morning my daughter missed her highly valuable speech session because she threw a tantrum over a “thing” that I made her leave in the car. This blog is long overdue and is going to be a bit different so hold on…

As you know we have been struggling with Ella’s behavior for quite some time now and continue to try various tactics to get it under control. The uphill battles are so numerous it feels like we are climbing a mountain and the longer the issues continue, the more creative the solutions we drum up become. In a recent post I mentioned we have; changed her diet to eliminate excessive sugar intake; been diligent about getting to bed on time; purchased teething jewelry to keep her mouth occupied; let her chew gum to help her focus; and purchased a potty watch and training undies. In addition we have tried almost EVERY parenting tactic known to man; punishment, reward, ignoring it, talking it out, praising her, etc. Despite all of our efforts, NONE of it has successfully crossed a single issue off the list.

When we decided to change her diet I worried it was going to be really hard on our lifestyle but it turned out to be a pretty smooth transition. Our newest idea though will most definitely be the most challenging – and not on our end. This is where my popularity diminishes..

This new change might be a bit hard on Ella at first, but the truth is – the grandparents will have the toughest time adjusting. I have felt this way for a very long time, but after a lot of research we plan to focus on Ella living a minimal lifestyle.

In our research process this article aligned with the things I have been saying all along, but did nothing about because I felt like I couldn’t get the message across and it was easier to continue as-is. Growing up my brother and I didn’t have a lot of “things.” Did we have toys? Absolutely, but it wasn’t to an excessive degree and what we did have-we played with. Otherwise we were outside; riding our bikes, catching night crawlers, exploring nature, making up games. It sounds ridiculous at the ripe old age of 29 to be reminiscing about the “good ole days,” but it’s true-it was a simpler time.

Ella has SOOO many toys that it not only lowers her quality of life, but mine too. Seem dramatic? I spend at least two hours every single day picking up her things that have been scattered throughout every room in our house. That’s 13,140 hours over her lifetime that I could and should be spending with her. Yes, I like a tidy house, but this has become more about safety these days. If I didn’t pick it all up we wouldn’t be able to get around without the risk of tripping on something. I can’t tell you how many times she has been hurt already and I say, “that’s why it’s important to pick up our things!”

Not only has she collected a million “things,” she is also very possessive of them and not in the way of sharing (yet). Even if she never plays with the item she has to know where it is at all times making it another full-time job for me to keep it all organized and accessible upon command. We spend 10-15 minutes every morning helping her find and gather at least ten different items that have to accompany her on the five minute car ride. As you can imagine long road trips require even more preparation.

We joke about her undiagnosed ADD but she moves like a tornado from one activity to the next, because she can – never fully dedicating her attention to any of it. She wants to read and before we can finish a book she says, “actually I don’t want this anymore” and is off. I ask her to color me a picture and I get a few scribbles and she’s done. Dress up consists of more time changing in and out of costumes than the actual time role playing.

It has gotten out of control and as her mother and the one who is supposed to be laying a solid foundation it’s going to stop. No more! The amount of “things” she has is going to be drastically reduced and strict rules on acquiring more will be put in place (popularity drops again).

Unless her toys meet the following guidelines, they will be donated or tossed:
1) Inspire Ella to use her imagination.
Colors/art, dress up, kitchen set-will make the cut, but the junky Mc Donalds kids meal collection is gone.

2) Aid in her development.
Books, puzzles, blocks, music-but the blinking lights and noise makers are out the door.

3) Played with on a regular basis and in good shape.
The baby dolls are a staple toy, but the dirty ones must go and maybe she’ll learn to take better care of them.

4) Be original.
I don’t mean that it needs to be some grand gesture or unique item. I just mean she doesn’t need to have backup items of every single thing she owns. She doesn’t need 38 pairs of sunglasses or 30 purses (I’m not exaggerating). This might help her understand that she needs to take care of her things because when they break she can’t just swap it out.

I know that the gifts come from a place of love but she gets so many things at the same time she doesn’t appreciate or utilize any of it. She has been trained to think its normal to receive numerous gifts every time she sees someone. More importantly she values attention much more than gifts. I’m sure she’d give it all up for some one-on-one time!

So this is serving as my public plea. Please stop giving Ella “things.” We’re doing our best to raise a stand up kid and like the article states, this change will help her take care of her things, become more resourceful, increase her attention span and build her creativity.

Let the purging begin!