Category Archives: Relationships

How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count The Ways

Ryan is an amazing man. He’s not perfect. There’s a thing or two that drive me nuts – but that’s not the point of this post. This post is about the wonderful man I’m married to. It’s unlikely I’d ever find someone else as wonderful for me as he is.

Over the past few years he’s spent more hours than I can count wearing one baby or another on his back. I sit and relax while he watches movies standing up.

Whether he has a baby on his back or not, hell help me clean up the kitchen. By help, I mean he cleans the kitchen while I sleep in.

Speaking of sleeping in…When he’s home, he gets up with the girls, and lets me go back to bed. Pure Bliss 🙂

He does most of the grocery shopping. Which is also saving us a ton of money. I’m the one that knows what’s in the pantry. So if I go shopping, I see something I know we’re almost out of, and I buy it. He reads my list and doesn’t even look at anything else. Thus keeping our grocery bill half the size mine would be.

He lets me have a fighting chance while playing Nintendo with him. I even beat him at Disney Universe a time or two.

He buys me flowers a few times a year, just because I like them.

Everyday, he tells me I’m beautiful and that he loves me.

He plays with our children and lets them help him cook. When our backyard turned into a lake one rainy day, he took the girls outside with their mud suits and fishing rods and happily fished with them for several hours.

He plays with the baby as much as he plays with the big girls. He also gives me special time with Cordelia while he plays with the big girls.

He supports my desire to go to Disney World every year. And works the overtime to make it happen.

I love his smile.

He’s joined me on this crazy adventure we call parenting and he’s willing to step out of his comfort zone and try new ways of doing things just because I tell him I think it’s a good idea. Wow!

I can’t help it, I’ve compared my husband to many others and every time I come to the same conclusion – keep yours, mine’s better 😛 (said in a very teasing manner – please take no offence : ) I love Ryan and that’s as it should be).

 

 

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Why Children Misbehave

About a month ago we went through a period where the girls were completely out of control. Someone was always being hurt, someone always being mean. There was a lot of yelling, a lot of tears, a lot of hurt feelings. The girls needed more attention , more love, more understanding, but the behaviours made it difficult to want to give them what they needed.

At some point, I believe, every parent gets to that point at least once. One night after a particularly rough evening, Ryan turns to me and says, “I just don’t get why she (Ella) does these things.”

The answer was painful. Obvious. We were responsible for her behaviours. Not directly of course, but in a lot of ways the things we did in response to her actions, caused more, bigger actions. At the time I wasn’t modeling calm behaviour. I didn’t model a gentle voice, I didn’t model patience, or a willingness to see someone else’s perspective. Her acting out directly mirrored my own acting out. Between Ella and I, Agatha also acted out. She no longer had comforting arms every time she needed them, she no longer had a soothing voice when scared, her sister no longer gave her the space she needed. With three people in the home angry and hurting, it only makes sense that Ryan felt the tension. It’s expected that he began to act out as well.

Use whatever analogy you choose. A family is a single unit, like the body, a car, or computer. When one part doesn’t functioning properly, the rest malfunction as well. As my hormones came back into balance and the quality of my sleep improved, my moods and level of patience improved. The difference was instantaneous and so beautiful. The girls calmed down, Ryan came home happier and better able to join the girls in their pursuits. Our family healed.

I believe, and please don’t take this as finger-pointing, that if a child is acting in a way that’s unacceptable to the family, then the parents need to look at their lives and see what the root cause is. Children, especially young children, pick up the stress and tension within the home and act on that. The moods in the home become substantial, palpable. A harsh word is as strong as a rough hand, a brick wall. When the people within the home are out of tune, then children aren’t capable of acting in a calm collected manner.

So what’s a parent to do? Sometimes situations are out of control. A person is sick, there isn’t enough money etc. Find out what you need in order to feel in control again. Or what can you do to make things better.

In my case it was a mental shift. I had to let go of needing certain things. I had to reaffirm my conviction that the parenting style we’ve chosen is the best for our family.  If it was a lack of money, we’ve been there, we’d find a way to make the money go farther, or decrease our wants. If a person was sick, we’ve been there too, we’d try to find ways to work around the illness without taxing the person. We’d try to find ways to focus on the rest of the family, rather than the sick person.

In all cases we find ways to have unstructured fun as a family. Before starting our fun we, the adults, talk and try to guess what behaviours we’re likely to see – running, climbing, jumping, screaming, grabbing, pushing, pulling, hitting…. and try to find ways to allow the behaviour without anyone else being hurt or afraid. From the “Playful Parenting” book we’ve taken the ‘love hit’ suggestion to heart a few times. If a child hits us, instead of getting upset, lecturing, saying ‘no’ we laugh and look goofy as we inform them it was a ‘love hit’ and now we’re so madly in love with them we must hug them and kiss them forever. They run away squealing – the hit and whatever caused it completely forgotten. The parents are now back ‘in control’ and everyone is enjoying their time together.

In order to fix hurt hearts and down feelings we don’t need a ton of time, but we do need to prove that we’re there for our children. We don’t need to give them everything, we can still offer guidelines and boundaries, but we must do so gently and respectfully. If we model it, they will follow it.

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Father’s Day

Father’s Day, a day to remind ourselves of the wonderful things fathers do for their wives and children. Here is a wonderful post I read recently and thought I’d share with you.

I’m happy to report that my husband is fully ‘awake’ according to this dad. About the only thing Ryan doesn’t do from this list, is wake the girls up while they’re sleeping – maybe in a few years, but not now. Well, unless you count vacations, when we have places to go etc.

When home, Ryan gets up in the morning with the girls, and lets me sleep. He’s even, once or twice, gotten up at night with them when they’ve woken and needed something.

He does occasionally do something fun for himself, but more often than not, he’s home with us when he’s not working.

He changes diapers, and helps with pottying.

He plays with dolls, has let the girls paint his toes, and even told anyone who said anything about it to bugger off. Pink toenails and little girls that know their daddy loves them were more important that whatever his brothers thought.

I’m sure he does things he doesn’t want to do, but he’s pretty good at hiding it, so I don’t think the girls notice.

When he’s home he’ll watch all three girls while I go for a walk with my sister. Or grocery shopping, or clothes shopping, or to the fabric store. And once upon a time, before we had a baby needing to eat every two to three hours, he’d watch the girls while I wrote, or went to work.

I really hope he’ll figure out how to clean the bathrooms or wash the floors, but for now I’m happy with him folding laundry and doing the dishes. That’s thirty minutes or more a couple times a week where I can re-charge for the week ahead.

He gives the girls hugs and kisses and tells them he loves them. He tickles them, chases them, reads to them and generally spends a lot of quality time with them.

Today, we’re sitting down together and watching “Gnomeo & Juliet” together as a family. Fishing over the side of the second floor railing (catching dollies on the first floor), watching the third day of rain pour down outside our window. And loving life.

I am truly blessed to have found a man that loves his family enough to play with his children and to help his wife. I couldn’t ask for more.

Yesterday was our seventh Anniversary. Each year I’ve grown to love my husband more than the year before. Each year I’ve enjoyed with Ryan more than any other time. From what I can see this next year will continue that trend. Life gets better all the time.

 

 

 

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Whose Fault is it Anyway?

One of the biggest problems in our home is determining whose fault something is. We all do it. Ella and Agatha say, “I didn’t do it.” Ryan tells Agatha, “Don’t worry. It’s not your fault.” I trip over something in the middle of the floor and demand, “Who left this here?”

Sound familiar?

In day to day life people assign blame for so many things, and most of the time it doesn’t matter who did it. Will it change anything by knowing who to blame? Maybe your relationship with the other person. But most of the time nothing else will change. And that’s the problem. In our family we’ve fallen into the blame game and the only things coming from it are hurt feelings. As parents if we demonstrate truthfulness and own our mistakes as well as failing to notice the mistakes of others, our children won’t fall into the blame game as well.

I want to change how our family handles mistakes. However, for myself, I know it won’t be easy. It’s a habit I’ve fallen into, unfortunately I don’t really know how to stop it. There has always been a punishment for every mistake or wrongdoing. From the time I was young, to moving out, and starting work. That’s the way the world works.

But it shouldn’t.

People should be free to make mistakes. And more importantly, free to learn from their mistakes. Fear prevents learning, growing. The fear of punishment makes a person’s primary objective hiding the mistake, rather than learning anything from it.

How can we step away from blame and become free to make mistakes and let our children make their own mistakes?

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Magnificent Monday

Many People view Monday negatively. If I had a Monday to Friday job I probably wouldn’t like Monday’s very much either. I stay home, and Ryan works shift. So Monday’s only rarely mean back to work. However, today does mean back to work.

It’s a wonderful day. The house will get back in order, the girls will be more calm, snacks will be delivered to the princesses before they ask. The floors will be cleaner, the dishes will be done, laundry done. I’ll be very busy.

Cinderella arrives at the ball

When Ryan’s home I do a whole lot less. I usually take a glorious nap. But the floors aren’t as clean as I prefer. Instead of cleaning the floors, Ryan plays with the girls. Which means more mess, that doesn’t get noticed until I wake up. When I wake up, I could either clean, or spend time with my family, or possibly take a chance to read if the girls are busy on their own. Ryan could clean, or he could take a chance to do something for himself.

Then it’s time for lunch, snack, dinner – food of some type. A quick tidy and more mess happens. But I didn’t have to cook the food. Instead I helped the girls or sat down while Ryan worked in the kitchen.

When someone gets hurt, they usually come to Mommy. I certainly seem to get the majority of the tears. Which means I take a break after the tears are dried and the smiles return. It’s tough when Daddy gets the happy excited girls, and I get the super sized emotions.

While I’m helping the girls, Ryan tends to watch, he doesn’t clean. But he sees how I help the girls calm down. After all I do spend a lot more time with them and he doesn’t always understand that when someone is crying about a missing toy they need cuddles more than the actual toy.

When the tears are dried and the girls run to play on their own, Ryan doesn’t clean. I can’t know, but I suspect he feels a bit jealous, left out, when the girls need Mommy and push him away. After the tears are done, he doesn’t want to clean. Instead he takes the time to recharge his hurt feelings.

By the end of the day the majority of the mess is still around the house, but the girls had plenty of snuggle time with Daddy, and extra craft time with Mommy. They had a chance to do things that are too difficult for me to help them with on my own during the week.

Mess stresses me out. So first thing in the morning when Ryan’s at work. I clean. The house isn’t perfect. In fact there are toys everywhere, but things are organized and a small mess is easy to clean as it happens. The house could be cleaner, but then I’d need to enforce so many rules about what the girls could or couldn’t do. I’d need to spend more time away from them, rather than learning who they are, and how to help them through big emotions.

Today is a Marvelous Monday. The house is cleaner than when I woke up, the girls are fed, princess hair and make-up has been fashioned, a giant castle has been built in the basement, a toddler size ‘pool’ appeared in the family room. Aliens have taken over the living room, and most of the supplies we need to make pigs have been gathered. But most wonderful of all is that my husband called home and said he’d go out of his way to pick up the groceries today, it’s so cold that he doesn’t want to worry about me, and the girls, out. Now I don’t have to take the girls into town on such a miserable day. Instead I get to stay home and relax. Play, cook, clean. I get to be Mommy.

Princesses Magzins and Cinderella's Castle

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To a Better Tomorrow

Today was one of those days. After waking up a million times to provide my tenant a bit more elbow room, I couldn’t go back to sleep. Five O’clock, dark outside, and my eyes would not close. So by the time the girls woke up I was a bit, shall we say, lazy. I got them breakfast, then just sat there and watched them run around. That was it. I didn’t try to get them crafts, or games, or anything. And then when they started to hurt each other, I snapped. I raised my voice, and they both looked so dejected. I felt miserable and instantly wanted to make it up to them – so I asked if they wanted to help me make cinnamon buns.

They shook their heads sadly and said they’d rather watch shows. Boy did I feel like the worlds worst mother! I can’t keep up right now, I can’t participate in many of the games they play, I can’t chase them, or swing them, or throw them. If I want to pick them up, I need to sit down first. And if one of them needs me, it takes me a lot longer to navigate the room than it used to.

There I was: tired, and guilt ridden. I joined them for some shows, we had fun talking about what they saw, but even now, I can only handle so much TV before I need to do something. So I got up and fixed them some snacks, and started to make cinnamon buns (and a nice double espresso to get me through the afternoon).

I completely lost track of time and just as the buns were about to go in the oven, I realized the roast was twenty minutes late for it’s date with the oven. It wasn’t even dressed yet, in fact it was still in the fridge. Sigh. One of those days.

Ryan got home, and supper was still cooking. The girls were wild, there was nail polish everywhere, and I was ready to cry.

She was happy. What more could I ask for?

What did Ryan do?

He got down on the floor with the girls and had them giggling in moments. He chased them, helped with a puzzle, got out candyland, admired their newly polished fingers. In short he was the world’s best Daddy ever.

Daddy's Little Princess

As their game allowed he came over hugged me, kissed me and offered to help in whatever way he could. He was already doing so much to help me relax, and he offered to do more.

I am truly a blessed woman. Tomorrow will be a better day.

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Dancing Around a Volatile Volcano

Being married is like dancing around a volatile volcano. For that matter, being married is like being a volatile volcano. Some days it feels so good to let all the debris spill out. But those other days, those days when you know something is coming. When you feel the heat sizzle. When the ground shakes beneath your feet and you loose your balance. Those days you wish volcanoes, or your spouse, didn’t exist.

My poor husband. He had no idea what he signed up for when we first started dating. In fact, he probably still had no clue when we got married a few years later. But four pregnancies in, he knows. He knows I have a bit of a temper. Just a smidge mind you.

Of course, on the flip side I had no idea what I was getting into when I married him. He doesn’t talk about his emotions. Most men don’t. But it goes deeper than that. Unless he is really, really upset he just ignores them. He will scowl and snap, but if asked he will declare he is okay, and definitely not angry. Until one day he snaps.

For the longest time this drove me nuts. I had no idea where I stood with him. If I did something he didn’t like, he wouldn’t tell me, but his actions would. Unfortunately, even though I could tell (basically) how he was feeling, I had no idea WHY and nothing changed.

I’m not saying one spouse/either spouse should give in and not do something just because the other doesn’t like it. I am saying that in order to make a choice one way or the other a person needs all the information.

For instance when Ryan comes home from work I’ll often ‘let’ him take over watching the girls and I’ll sit in front of the computer. This went on for a while. He’d come home, grumpy, and continue being grumpy until everyone went to bed. I had no idea why. I figured he had a rough day at work, or didn’t want to spend his only spare time as a jungle gym. I was angry because he didn’t seem to want to spend time with us, I spent more and more time at the computer while he was home. He got grumpier and grumpier.

Then one day I’d had enough. I exploded! After a lot of yelling, a bit of stomping, some tears, some threats, some alone time to calm down, we actually figured out the root of our troubles. He was upset because he’d come home and want to spend time with his entire family, but I spent my time with the computer. But instead of saying anything, and risking hurting my feelings, he just kept it inside.

It hurt me more that he hadn’t felt able to talk to me about his concerns. It hurt me more because I’d spent weeks believing he just didn’t want to spend time with me, with his family. It also hurt him because he though I didn’t want to spend time with him, when in fact the opposite was true.

Now that I know how he feels I can actually make a choice. And he also knows that some computer time doesn’t mean I don’t want to spend time with him.

We are learning. We are changing. Our mutual volcanoes are dormant. We can dance in relative peace.

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