March 30, 2011

Implementing Change with Lists

Another problem we've decided to address at our house is chores.  I think I mentioned that the minute Corrina comes home from school, she heads straight to her bedroom and we don't hear from her except at dinner time.  I am constantly going in there to say "Corrina, did you do your homework", "Corrina, it's time to take a shower", "Corrina, did you fed your fish today".  I am essentially nagging and she throws a HUGE fit every time I walk into her room with a request or question.  I am constantly wondering what I can do to fix this situation.  I ask her to do the same things every day.  She knows what is expected of her on a daily basis, so why the fight? 

I have realized that Corrina is a visual person.  If something is explained in writing, she seems to understand it better.  Just listening isn't enough for her.  I think this is why she has responded so well to the food tracking mat.  If I had realized this sooner, I could have saved myself so many words and both of us a lot of frustration.  So, I bought her a small notebook.  Every night, I make a list of the things she has to do in the morning before school and one for after school.  The list is essentially the same every day.  I sat down with her and we composed the original list together, talked about the things that need to be done and why. 

Her morning list consists of pretty obvious things such as making her bed, brushing her teeth, remembering her glasses.  Her afternoon list consists of things like homework, picking up her bedroom, some sort of exercise and helping with dinner, as well as personal hygiene items.  Every day, she can see what she has to do.  When she finishes the task, she marks it off and moves on to the next.  I don't hound her about getting things done.  My only stipulation is that the list is finished before bed.  This lets her go at her own pace and she feels like she's making her own schedule.  I am no longer nagging and the arguments have all but stopped because she helped make the list and she agreed to it. 

Life is so much easier when you take the time to learn a few things about your children and are willing to be flexible in order to accomodate their individual personalities.  If you have a suggestion, a product or a tool that will help with the list, I'd love to hear about it.  I'd love to come up with something more than just a notebook and a list that I have to write daily. 

March 29, 2011

Implementing Change-Attitude

Another thing we realized that really needs to be altered is attitude.  How can I change the attitude of a 7 year old girl?  The answer is that I can't, but I can change my attitude toward her.  I realized that I have stopped treating her like a person with actual thoughts and feelings and opinions and have started expecting her to only do what I expect of her, think what I think, and want what I want.  This is not me.  I now understand why she hides from me the way she does.  I would have hidden from my mother too if she acted like this.  I have become so critical and too good at complaining.  I am becoming my grandmother, who (despite how much I love her) is kind of a scary woman.  I definitely need to be more conscious of what I say and how I react to her in order to build her self-esteem.

 I have stopped talking about Corrina's weight or getting frustrated about the fact that her clothes don't fit anymore.  It doesn't matter to me.  I don't know if she'll be curvy when she's older or if she'll be a size 2.  As long as she's healthy and loves herself, it doesn't matter!  I love her no matter what.

One thing we fight about is her hair.  I feel like I am constantly telling her to brush her hair, telling her she didn't do a good enough job.  So, last week, she told me she wanted to cut it all off.  Instead of blowing her off or telling her no, I decided to listen to what she wanted, called my best friend and set it up.  I let her do it all herself without my input.  The result?  Super cute!  She LOVES it.  She feels better about herself and we have one less thing to fight about.  She doesn't even argue about showering now.  Apparently, having all that hair was a bigger issue than I realized. 

I realize changing takes time and I'm not going to try to rush it.  Realizing the problem and being willing to change is the first step.  We're making it.  Flexibility is key and eventually, I know things will fall into place and we probably won't even notice when they do. 

One other thing I'd like to address is the attitude of others.  It's difficult enough as a parent to know the right thing to do for your children all the time.  It is harder when you have to deflect the comments of others from your children.  I have had people commenting on different aspects of Corrina's personality and physical attributes for a long time.  I have even had people telling me that I need to put her on a diet since she was 2 years old.  It is one thing for people to give suggestions or comments to me, but unless you are asked to do so, it is extremely rude to comment, suggest or scold my child (or any child) to her face.  I know that everybody has an opinion on parenting, but unless you are dealing with your own children, you have to keep those opinions to yourself.  I don't need anyone telling my daughter that she is fat, harping on her about eating or criticizing my parenting.  It is counterproductive and possibly harmful. 

Having said that, I'd like to share some websites that provide some good information.  The Eating Disorders Information Network has some great tips for moms and dads, and Building your Child's Self-Esteem

March 28, 2011

Implementing Changes-Nutrition

It has been almost 2 weeks since I wrote about my problems with our oldest daughter.  I have to say that just writing about it made me feel so much better, which encouraged me to actively address the problem instead of just worrying about it.  I've decided to write a couple posts on how we're addressing the problems, changes that we're making, as well as a few tools and resources.  Parenting is sometimes hard and I'm not afraid to say that I've made mistakes in the short time that I've been a mom.    I am not a psychiatrist, a nutritionist, a doctor or any kind of professional.  I'm just a mom afraid of watching my daughter slip away from me at a very young age. 

A couple hours after writing the post about Corrina, the Chickin Feed Primer almost literally fell at my feet when I was pulling a cookbook out of the cabinet.  I had bought it a couple years ago (I honestly have no recollection of how I originally came across it or where I bought it) and I never really looked through it or bought the tracking boards that accompany it.   I opened it up and found a wealth of information on nutrition for children, what they need and how they get it, some really good kitchen and meal tips, recipes, exercises and activities for kids and a list of resources.  I knew that I needed help making some changes, so I ordered the Trackin' Place Mat.  Apparently, when I bought the book, they carried a metal tracking board, complete with magnet trackers, which has evolved into the place mat (I really would rather have a magnet board, though).  The mat is laminated and comes with a wax pencil that can be removed daily.  On one side, it shows the food groups, serving suggestions and daily amounts, which can be checked off as they are eaten.  On the other side, there is an explanation of food groups and which foods fall into each group. 

I have to say that I can't believe how the amount of food I have been serving Corrina differs from the amounts she should have.  I thought I was serving fairly balanced meals in good portions.  Boy, was I wrong!  I'm pretty sure I'm not the only person overfeeding my children.  I don't know why I have never familiarized myself with the food pyramid and serving sizes.  Isn't this my job as a parent?  It has just never occurred to me.  My eyes have been opened and I urge all parents to familiarize yourself with this information.  I'm not saying that parents need to turn into the food police and only let our children eat exactly what is suggested and nothing more or less.  We are being flexible, we realize that these are merely serving suggestions.  It is not a law and obviously no one is going to show up on your doorstep to cart you away for not following exactly.  This is not a diet, we're not counting calories.  This is just life and I feel better just knowing what my daughters are eating, and feeling confident that they are going to be healthy.

So, one of the changes that we've made in our house is the way we eat.  Corrina has been tracking her meals for a week and a half and has done marvelously well.  She is really responding to knowing what she's eating, making decisions based on the information she has in front of her.  She has made the decision to trade the jelly on her PB&J sandwich (which she MUST take daily) for a drizzle of honey.  She is drinking more water and less milk and juice.  She has traded her fruit snacks for actual fruit.  I know it hasn't been that long and this is only the beginning, but I am amazed by the improvement she has shown and how little resistance she has put up.  I am very proud of her.

I am in no way affiliated with Chickin Feed.  I only came across their product by chance and appreciate that it has helped us.  You can check them out at  You can also follow them on Twitter and Facebook

March 25, 2011

A Correction

This week, I swore I wouldn't put off blogging.  I had all these posts in my head that I was going to write.  It didn't happen.  I've been busy and sick and tired.  When I say tired, I mean exhausted, a kind of exhaustion I don't think I've ever felt before.  I'm feeling a little better today, so hopefully it's almost over.

There is something I feel like I should clear up about my pregnancy post.  I'd like to point out that I have not intentionally been trying to lose weight or avoid gaining weight.  I have been exercising, taking vitamins and eating better because I want to feel better, not because I'm worried about getting fat while pregnant. It is important to gain weight when you're expecting.  I also don't suggest starting an exercise routine while pregnant without discussing it with your doctor.  I discussed it with mine and we decided that adding a little more exercise to my routine may  help me avoid such severe postpartum problems.  I am not doing any kind of strenuous activities, mostly walking.  So, please, if you are expecting or ever plan to have a baby, do not look back at my post and think, "she managed to lose weight from the wrong places and gain weight in the right places, I can too". 
I'm not 100% sure why I haven't gained any weight.  It could be a change in my activities, but it could also be something else.  As a result, I now have to take extra precautions with the baby.  I now have to have a weekly sonogram to measure the baby and non-stress tests twice a week to make sure the baby is active and healthy.  The baby is healthy and active, just a little on the small side.  The extra tests are just a precaution and not a result of anything that I have done or any serious health issues. 

Ok, I feel better now that I've said that.  I hope everyone has a great weekend! 

March 16, 2011

State of My Pregnancy

I've been talking a little bit about being pregnant since August.  I've complained a little and shared my fears of postpartum depression.  I've tried not to let pregnancy overrun the whole blog, though.  So, today I thought I'd give a quick rundown of where things stand. 

I am 33 weeks pregnant.  That means there are only 7 weeks left...maybe.  George came 3 weeks early and Kennedy was 2.5 weeks early.  This means that we could have a baby in a month...or not.  Only time will tell.
I haven't bought a single thing for the baby.  There isn't much to buy.  I did give all of my baby clothes away, so I will have to buy some pretty soon.  I think Corrina and I will probably go shopping for some things this weekend.  I will also be purchasing a ring sling sometime very soon.

The baby has no name yet.  When I was still pregnant with Kennedy, I picked a name out that I knew I wanted to give to a little girl.  Kennedy already had her name, so the name was saved for our next baby.  However, when we found out that Georgia was due on my grandpa's birthday, we decided to name her after him.  The problem is that Steve doesn't really like the name I picked out.  He can't really seem to come up with anything better, though.  Kennedy and George already call the baby by this name.  I keep telling Steve that if we change it now, it will only confuse the kids.  He's pretty sure it's something they will get over quickly.  I'm not so sure, though.  Like I said, the names he suggests are awful, but I have to keep an open mind because I wouldn't want to give the baby a name her dad hates.  or would I?  Anyway, feel free to leave some suggestions. 

We had a sonogram today to check on the baby.  Since my first appointment, I have gained a total of 0 pounds.  I have lost 1.  So, we're just had to make sure the baby is a good, healthy size.  She is just fine, weighing in at 3 pounds 12 ounces.  It turns out, I'm just a little healthier than I was 8 months ago.  I eat better and exercise.  Overweight people tend to lose weight when that happens.  So, the baby is healthy.  The weight is going where it needs to and leaving the places it shouldn't my thighs.

So, that is where things stand at this point in my pregnancy.  Everything is going pretty good.  I don't feel too awful.  It's coming quickly to a close.  Man, that was fast!

(by the way, my skin did clear up with the help of a vitamin D3 supplement, taking probiotic enzymes 3 times a day and using a concoction made of witch hazel and tea tree oil!)

March 15, 2011

7 going on 13

I always thought that when the kids were old enough to do things for themselves that I could relax for a while, just sit back and enjoy them until they hit the awkward tween years.  Boy, was I wrong.  Taking care of preschoolers, toddlers and babies seems so easy, so clear cut compared to older kids. 

Corrina  is 7 (I'm not sure if she's a typical 7 year old) and our relationship seems to be deteriorating very quickly.  We have reached this point where everything I say is wrong.  I only have to ask a simple question about her day and it usually turns into a big deal.  She spends most of her time in her room listening to music.  She lies to me.  She is always playing her dad against me.  She does her best to avoid spending time alone with me and when we are alone, she spends our time arguing with everything I say. 

I can't help but have the feeling that we are failing miserably as her parents.  I'm not sure where to begin with her.  These are issues I didn't think I'd have to deal with for at least another 4 years.  I don't know if I am making something bigger out of the situation or if Steve downplays the problem too much.  For example, she spends an enormous amount of time in her room staring at herself in the mirror.  I told Steve that I think we should probably do something about it.  I don't see anyway that it can be a positive thing.  He said he thought it was probably normal and didn't know what we could do about it anyway.  That's when I told him that this is how eating disorders are developed...and bitches are made. 

This brings us to our bigger problem-weight.  She has put on quite a bit of weight lately.  It has gotten to the point where clothes that she just got 2 or 3 months ago will not fit at all.  I've also realized how much food she eats.  I've caught her sneaking to the kitchen while Steve and I are putting the other girls in bed and eating.  She comes downstairs after we've gone to sleep and eats.  I've tried to talk to her about it, but of course, it ends in a fight.  I'm just mean mom who doesn't want her to have any enjoyment in life.  I'm trying not to harp on her about it because I don't want her to feel self conscious about weight at the age of 7.  I don't want her obsessing over it.  I want her to feel good about herself and love everything about herself.  But sneaking food?  I can't really ignore that, can I? 

I know that I haven't always been a great role model when it comes to making wise choices about food.  I've been trying to change this.  I make 3 meals a day, we avoid convenience food and usually only eat out maybe once every 2 weeks.  I don't buy sweets or chips.  We limit the amount of sugar we have.  I have even joined the gym and exercise on a daily basis.  I realize that the choices I make and my actions have a huge impact on the way my children view things.  What else can I change?  What is the best way to address the changes in my daughter?  Is this behavior typical of a 7 year old?  Right now, I just don't know, but I will find the answers to my questions.

March 7, 2011

I Know It's Right

It has been almost a month since I made the decision (along with my doctor) to take medication for anxiety/depression.  Let me start by saying that I already feel so much better.  Steve has even taken the knives from their hiding place.  However, the question of whether or night it was the right decision or the safest decision has been raised. 

This decision is not one that I took lightly.  I know that there are risks involved.  There are risks involved with anything that you take or do during pregnancy.  I had to decide which situation could be potentially more dangerous-taking the medication or not.  I decided that not taking medication would cause a bigger impact and had a higher chance of causing harm to my whole family.  I was seriously reaching the point where I was afraid to leave the house.  How could that turn into anything good?  I know there is no way that situation would be better after I had the baby. 

I'm confident that I made the right decision.  I would love to be someone who isn't affected by chemical and hormonal changes that happen during pregnancy.  I'm not, though.  I'm just glad that I am now someone who understands that I'm not one of those people and can make the right choices to fix it.  I am no longer someone who is afraid to be a person with problems or to ask for help. 

Medications for anxiety/depression aren't magic cure all pills.  I'm not walking around with a permanent smile fixed to my face.  Taking it doesn't mean I am cured or never feel bad.  I still have days when I want to rip my hair out and scream or lay in bed and do nothing.  The important thing is, though, that I feel better.  I'm not walking around on cloud 9, but I do feel a little more like myself. 


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