Friday, February 24, 2012

Aiden's Antics

Even though I have been distracted and unable to blog recently, I assure you all, Aiden is up to his usual shenanigans...

Like playing around with his Daddy...

And baking cookies with his Grandma...

And of course, keepin Mommy smiling...

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Ladies Man

So it begins...

I took Aiden to pick out his Valentines for school this weekend, to my surprise he wasn't interested in Cars or Toy Story, he wanted the sports pack of Valentines. Even better, they come with cute little stick on tattoos and because they have nothing to do with Disney, they were super cheap.

While we were waiting in line to check out, Romeo strikes a little girl's interest with his tattoo Valentines, and before I know it she was fawning all over him, batting her eye lashes and asking if she could have one...

Almost bought him a pack of condoms...just kidding!

Anyway, we got home and he took a nice long nap. I was putting off doing the Valentines because I wanted him to be in a good mood when he signed 24 of them. Six o'clock rolled around and we started taking the Valentines out of the box...oh my lord...since when do you need an assembly line to put these things together?!?!

Do they realllllly think kids do all the work for this?? They must, because my fingers (which are relatively thin) are way to big to get these little tattoos in the tiny little slits in the cards.

Not only that but all the Valentines cards were attached to each other, so I had to separate them myself - and all of the 32 minuscule tattoos.

After 2 hours of relative cooperation from Aiden, they were all signed. Then I had the task of attaching the tiny tattoos and taping the heart shaped suckers to the inside.

Pre-made Valentines my ass.... 

They turned out good though and by Monday morning I was gearing up for his party.
When I got to Abiding Hope I was so happy to see Aiden's class projects hanging in the main hall! Their class is in the South wing so no one sees their displays but low and behold here was Aiden's "love bug" -- next to Brayden's of course...

Anyway, Brayden's mom was actually setting up the party so I went a little early to help her - cut pizza, do table cloths, etc. easy stuff.

Then we got to the Valentine's bags...trying to get one of each in each bag from each kid...I am sure there was an easier way to have done this, but we left it til the last second and it was difficult to say the least.

As per usual, the kids get their pizza party for lunch.

Then the typical activity is cookie decorating. Each kid gets a sugar cookie, a glob of frosting and some sprinkles. So each kid starts by eating their cookie, then they spoon feed themselves the frosting and are left with a plate of sprinkles. Then they go home.

Maybe it's time for a new party activity.

Once they were all wired up, I got to watch Aiden just around with his pals for a bit before I went back to work. I am really glad I keep making the time for these things.

Those giggles are the best Valentines.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Not So Happy Hoe-Down

Last night was Aiden's first ever school performance - their Annual Hoe-Down. All the classes worked on and performed hoe-down themed dances. I was apprehensive about this for a few reasons...

One, I had no idea what to expect because when you tell Aiden to dance, he typically responds with his booty-shakin number entitled "Do-Do-Dahhhh!"

Two, he's never done anything like this before and gets really overwhelmed in front of lots of people.

When his class filed into the gym, I immediately started to worry...

He had his head down, wouldn't look up, and clearly wanted nothing to do with any of it.

Right as the music started Grandma and Grandpa Deiker showed up and snagged a spot on the floor right next to Aiden, but things went from bad to worse...You can hear me in the back ground starting to panic and Uncle Erik saying, "Oh noooo."

I have a full video of his performance but for his sake I will just say, things didn't improve much. He didn't want to be there, he smiled a few times and sang along briefly but when everyone started clapping he broke down.

I was shaking for him. Standing behind a packed row of chairs I was coming unglued trying to figure out how to get to him. The people in front of me saw who I was and helped out, thank God! I was so proud of him for sticking it out up there though.

The older kids performed and there were a couple that were total class clowns. I was thinking to myself, "I wonder if I know their parents from class..." Sure enough, one of the moms from my parenting class asked, "Is the other class clown yours?" I felt bad saying no, that's all you....but it was hilarious.

Aiden's spirits were better once I got to dance with him and the whole thing was over - he took to rough housing with Uncle Erik in the gym.

Anyway, thanks to Grandma and Grandpa Deiker, Aunt Dana, Aunt B and Dave, Aunt Kelly and Uncle Erik for coming - these things mean a lot to Aiden.

Ps - When we got home and I showed Aiden the video of himself, he started doing the dance...funny kid.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Somebody's Hero

She's never pulled anybody from a burning building. She's never rocked Central Park to a half a million fans screaming out her name. She's never hit a shot to win the game.

She's never left her foot prints on the moon. She's never made a solo, hot-air balloon ride around the world. No, she is just your everyday, average girl.

But she's somebody's hero. A hero to her baby with the skinned up knee. A little kiss is all he needs. The keeper of the Cheerios, the voice that brings Snow White to life, bed time stories every night. And that smile lets her know, she's somebody's hero.

She gets a check every other week, she's a nine-to-fiver. But she's also a waiter, a cook and a taxi driver there at home until her boy is grown. Givin all her love to him is her life's ambition and when her baby moves on she sure will miss him. But not today, those are tears of joy running down her face.

She's somebody's hero. She gave him wings to leave the nest. It hurts to let your baby go but as he looks back into his mother's eyes, his smile lets her know. She's somebody's hero.

Communicative Parenting

Last week in my Empowered Parenting class, we talked about how important it is to be on the same page and to be open with your co-parent. This week we talked about transferring that communication to your kids.

We read the bible passage about Moses and the burning bush which I was having a hard time with -- however, we worked through it as a group and this is what I learned:

When God wanted Moses' attention, he used something important. Then to engage him in a conversation, he used Moses' name. God gave Moses very clear instructions about how to approach "Remove your sandals for you are on holy ground." He expected Moses' respect and got it.

1. Get your kid's attention
2. Use their name - get on their level, use eye contact, a softer voice, a touch etc.
3. Give clear, concise instructions
4. If you expect respect, you will get it

We learned a really good acronym too: HEAR

H - Use Humility
When you Aiden is frustrated, I will tell him about how sometimes I get frustrated too. Everyone gets frustrated. It's ok, we will get through it together. When you show that you "get it" and that "you're on their side" kids will open up and ask for help.

E - Be Efficient
Give your kid a tool that they can use right away, since this is religious based, we immediately talked about praying as a tool. For Aiden, I mostly just want him to know that my assistance is always available.

A - Affirm
Always offer encouragement, but make sure it is honest. If Aiden does what I ask but maybe only half way - say he picks up his play-doh but doesn't wipe off the table, I can say, "Thank you for helping, it makes Mommy really happy, but do you think there are things we can do a little better?"

R- Respond
This goes back to the "anger interrupter" - don't react, instead, take a breath, then respond constructively. Not only when Aiden does something wrong but when he is in need. Last week at McDonald's a bigger, less well mannered child (can you tell this made me angry?) took his happy meal toy from him on the play ground. When Aiden came crying, I could feel my protective mother-lion kick in. But instead, I took Aiden to that little boy and together we asked, "Excuse me, is that my toy, maybe you took it by mistake?"

Of course the little boy denied it and then told his parents that Aiden "gave" it to him, so it wasn't the ideal result, but we calmly reacted to the situation together. Then Uncle Erik went and got him a new, cooler toy.

Anyway, a big piece of the HEAR thing, which Steve and I have always struggled with is remembering:
Kids don't think, talk, or reason like adults - often they don't learn to do so until they are 20+ years old.

Another sad/generational note arose in class last night - when we talked about toxic verbal weapons. So many parents in the class felt like their parents were extremely mean and hard on them, and the youth pastor even commented that in his teen-group at the church, he often hears kids say, "I wish I wasn't so hard on myself..." Unfortunately, they grow up to do this to themselves when parents use:
Hurtful Teasing
Subtle Put-Downs
Play Historian
Project Failure
Fault Finding

The biggest eye-opener for me was "Broadcasting" I am terrible...I constantly tell Steve about Aiden's mis-behavior when he is around and can hear me say, "SOMEBODY got in trouble at school for yelling today..."

We should deal with these things quietly when Aiden isn't around, when he knows he has been wrong, it's over and dealt with, he shouldn't have to relive it. I am his safe place and I vow to always be that.

I stayed longer after class to talk about Aiden's whining with Lori (leading the class) and she gave me a really good idea. Especially because of Aiden's speech barrier, he will get more and more frustrated. It's important to think of Aiden's emotions as a basket. When he can't effectively communicate - it's like his basket is already full. So when he gets frustrated and then I in turn get frustrated, he has no more room in his basket for listening and cooperating, so instead of telling him what he's doing wrong I will tell him simply how to correct it.

"When you can ask me in a respectful way for something reasonable, I will meet you with a reasonable response" -- When Aiden has a fit about not being picked up...Aiden, if you can ask me nicely for what you want I will be more than happy to do it.

It was kind of an overwhelming class but I took a lot away from it and Aiden and I are now using our new house rules:

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Every Day Is A Birthday

Yesterday was Aunt Dana's birthday. Since she and Aiden are very close, we went over to Glenn and Maria's for dinner and cake. Aiden's Uncle Erik is in town for a short while so he came with us also. 

Aiden is really interested in birthdays - he loves cake, he loves ice cream, and he loves presents. So when it was time for Dana to blow out her candles he was concerned that he wouldn't be doing it himself.

Luckily, Grandma Deiker is a saint, and will light and re-light the candles for Aiden so that he can have a turn too.

I would like to title this next photo:
Who's Birthday Is It Anyway?

As Aiden seems to have forgotten....

Anyway, Aiden took a turn blowing out the candles, 

then he proceeded to help Dana with opening her presents.

He was very happy for her to have received The Lion King - when he got it for his birthday, the first thing he said was "Dana, look Lion King!"

After presents, Grandma Deiker enlisted Uncle Erik's mighty military muscles to help with the ice cream

and Aiden helped himself to a buffet of toppings.

Of course he was so wired when we got home, I thought he would never go to bed but who am I to deny anyone sugar?

Happy Birthday to Dana, and a very merry un-birthday to us all.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Empowered Parenting

Things have been tough. I know the twos are supposed to be terrible and the threes are supposed to be troublesome, but it's all just really tough. Whining and fit throwing and time out taking are at an all-time high, while listening and cooperating are at an all time low.

After an incident involving a corn dog, a cheese burger, a public melt-down and 8 time outs...I got an email from Abiding Hope offering an "Empowered Parents" class, and I didn't hesitate for a second.

Last night was the first session. It was so incredibly eye opening, I almost cried like 3 times. I realize that there is only so much anyone can help you with before you have to just figure it out yourself, but I really needed some of the wake up calls.

We started by discussing in groups how the following items relate to parenting:

Kids are sponges, they soak up everything and then carry it all around with them waiting for the perfect time to repeat your actions and words. And you have to clean up after them...a lot.

We all make mistakes, parents and kids. Parents take it upon themselves to try and erase not only their mistakes but their kids' mistakes too.

As parents, we have to be flexible while maintaining structure. We also have to be able to stretch and not break.

No matter how much we try, we can't keep our kids from growing up. But we can focus on the small moments.

Kids are freaking expensive, and boy does it take some luck to not mess them up.

After talking about these objects we took time to reflect on how we were raised and what about that we would like to pass on to our kids. My dad was big on choices, make the choices you want but live with the consequences -- he was also the only father that said "I love you" apparently. I want to pass both of those things on. He also let me form my own opinions and seek my own answers. I got a lot of questions answered with more questions. I want Aiden to have that yearning for knowledge and insatiable curiosity.

Then we looked at parent styles. As the parent of a toddler, I am constantly moving between "The Chum" who gives in, wants a good relationship, but is also emotionally manipulated and has a whinny kid -- and "The Controller" who is in charge, micro managing, over organizing and gets a rebellious kid. It's hard to step outside these styles with a 3 year old, they require a maximum amount of involvement, but it's important to take from the relationship based role (the chum) and the rules based role (the controller) in order to maximize cooperation which is something I really need to work on.

Another big thing I need to work on is showing my partner respect. As a parent, you can't expect your kids to  respect you if they don't see you receiving respect. I have always tried to step in and help Steve with Aiden and get them to do things "the easy way." And now I feel really bad, all that that tells Aiden is that his dad doesn't know how to do it. This is a big priority for me from now on, to back off and let them make a mess or do things the hard way together.

Along with respect comes the not-so-simple task of being on the same page. When we can't be ahead of the game and run into those "But Mom said I could" situations we need to discuss why one parent said yes and why one said no, and decide together who is right. Then, the parent who has to eat their words has to tell the child - this reinforces trust and respect to that parent. If Mom says yes, and Dad says no, and Dad is right but Mom doesn't have to apologize then it's almost like, "Well Mom just doesn't know what she's saying..."

I am also working really hard now to "speak in the positive" - if you say "Don't look down..." your kid's gonna look down, or throw a toy, or hit someone, etc. So from now on it's, "Please look up," "Please use the toy correctly," "Please play nicely with your friends."

One of the biggest eye openers was being told, "AS OF TODAY YOU WILL NO LONGER....walk away." A staple of all parenting survival has always been, walk away from tantrums. But, God does not leave nor forsake us. From now on, Aiden can take his tantrums to another room but never will I walk away and break his trust or treat him as a lost cause. Though I am going to need some good ear plugs.

We discussed irrational fears, The Chum fears temper tantrums and The Controller fears a loss of control. It's important to not let our children's emotions become our emotions and to rely on our partners to balance our fears. I get overwhelmed when Aiden cries and cries - Steve handles it very well. Steve loses patience with Aiden easily - I am good at giving second chances to Aiden. So from now on, so what if Aiden gets upset? Better than having him be the boss of the house as a teenager...which is where we are headed if we don't change.

A few months ago, Aiden had a melt down in a restaurant and an older man told him, "JUST SHUT UP." I nearly killed the man. I have never felt so protective of my child, who at the time I was trying not to kill out of frustration. But looking back now, because of that experience, I know two things:

1. Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard fight. I don't judge other parents. I understand. 

2. There are no bad days. Only bad moments. It will end.

This weeks homework is writing 5 house rules in the positive. Aiden gets to help and as the teacher told us last night, just work on just hanging on.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

My Bowl Runneth Over

Being part of a religion based pre-school was a difficult decision for us. I come from a highly religious family whose values and morals stem from our faith and teachings. Steve comes from a strongly religious family also, but himself isn't firmly rooted in it. At the level of school Aiden is now, we figured, what's the worst that he could learn? He was promised Baptist as a baby, meaning he should grow up to follow and believe his own religious creed when he so chooses. So at this stage in the game, what's the harm in learning right vs. wrong? And so what if he prays before meals and knows that Jesus loves him -- there are worse habits a child could form.

I can not stress enough from the bottom of my heart how happy I am with Abiding Hope Preschool. When I said, "What's the worse that he could learn?" I had no idea he would be developing such a strong compassionate compass for helping others. The pre-school is dedicated to helping the immediate community as well as working globally to improve lives and touch hearts, whether they share the same religious beliefs or not.

They continually hold fundraisers, which I will admit, I have on occasion rolled my eyes about thinking, "Ugh, they sure know how to pull at your heart strings to get you to donate..." But when I think about the strong educational curriculum he is involved in, for such a cheap tuition rate, I consider us so lucky to have found a place where everyone is so invested in the kids. And it really eases my mind when I know the money is going to such great causes and I am so happy to see Aiden so actively helping others without even realizing it. When I went to a fundraiser for the school last week, all I could think was, "Wow, these kids are going to have it so ingrained in them to help others, to not bully, to stand up for what is right, etc. by the time they get to second grade..."

The fundraiser was called, "The Empty Bowl Lunch." Every class made a big pot of soup - Aiden's class made chili - he donated red kidney beans to the pot. In each class, every kiddo also made their own bowl out of clay, very small bowls. They idea is that when the make the soup and they make their small bowl, they talked about how not everyone gets juice boxes, cookies, pb&j and fruit roll ups for lunch. Some kids only get a small helping of soup from a soup kitchen.

On Wednesday, parents were invited to come share a bowl of soup with their kids and to gather together and be thankful for all that we have. We met in the sanctuary of the church and one by one the classes filed in. Aiden's class was last, with him leading the line -- perhaps that explains why his teacher is saying, "Shhhh" in this photo...

Of course, everyone knows, when you tell Aiden to "Shhh" he takes that as, "Be sneaky" so he is leading the line in ultimate sneaky-ness into the sanctuary. His teacher even started doing it.

Part of the fundraiser was donating canned foods, so they had a representative from the food bank talking to the kids about why we donate food and who it helps. He's done this for 4 years now and still doesn't have the edge on the kids. He told them, "I don't know if you guys can read my shirt or not..." (It said, 'The Face of Hunger May Surprise You') and was immediately inundated with raised hands and screams of "I can read! I can read!" so cute!

As the speech went on, he was having more and more trouble keeping hold of them so he wrapped up quickly by saying, "Do you have any questions??" Big mistake...

About three minutes later he had to ask, "Do you know what a question is?" 

"Are you hungry?" That's a question...

Funny stuff.

Aiden of course was far to busy to be interrupted with this question business.

I threw this picture in just so ya'll could see Aiden's girlfriend...the little red-head :)

Anyway, he was pretty busy making funny noises..

After the food bank presentation we got down to business...eating chili and buying bowls. All the bowls that the kids made were for sale for $5 a piece. So I was thinking, not bad, free lunch, cool bowl, win-win. Totally worth it.

Then I saw Aiden's bowl...

I had to buy it. 

So now I have a purple blob of clay worth five dollars.

But Aiden has an thankfulness for what fills our bowls at home.

That's priceless.