I'm back, and there's a lot to catch up on!!! Prepare to be inundated with entries over the next few days.
First up, parenting anxiety. I believe my friend, Nicole, coined something along the lines of "First-time Parenting Syndrome" in which us new parents freak out over every little thing we may have done (or not done) to somehow screw our kids up forever.
I had one of those moments the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.
His class was doing a special show for the parents to showcase their songs and crafts as a fun send-off for the holiday weekend. I showed up with the throng of other parents only to feel slightly panicked that my son was not among his classmates. His teacher caught me trying to find him and motioned to the empty corner of the room - far away from the rest of the students who were happily singing and dancing in synch.
I didn't see him at first. I didn't see anyone at first, actually. As I slid past parents holding cameras and videotapes, I noticed an aide's head peeking over a bookshelf. Behind the bookshelf she was sitting with my son on her lap. They were reading a book together.
I was confused. Why wasn't he with the class? Did he do something wrong?
The aide explained that he refused to participate in the sing-along. They had tried everything to get him to participate, but he would have none of it. So instead of singing with the class, he sat off in the corner, physically separated from his peers, and looked at books.
Immediately, a thousand thoughts raced through my mind.
Did he suddenly get stage-fright? No. This ham of a kid is willing to dance and sing for complete strangers. Shy will never be a word used to describe him.
Maybe he wasn't feeling well? No. He was happily reading his book and looked perfectly fine.
Was he being disobedient? Yes, but he's not typically the rebel and was very likely skirting the show for a reason... so why?
And then that terrible feeling set in... the parental anxiety I spoke about above... the one in which you can't help but feel ultimately responsible for everything.
I remembered several instances of Vincent being corrected - by his classmates - for his speech impediments. As many of you know, Vince was practically deaf for two years of his life. He finally got his hearing corrected two days after his 2nd birthday. I spent countless hours and likely thousands of dollars getting him treatment and professional help to work on the skills he never developed due to his hearing issues.
So even though he's made incredible progress in the last year, he's still not caught up with his peers - at least verbally. Everything else he's either on par or excelling with. Speech and comprehension, though... he's behind. Making progress, but definitely behind.
I cringed at the thought that Vince might finally be understanding his impediments. I don't think he really understood that he was behind his classmates with speech. He just babbled happily at everyone and typically got his point across because his basic communication was passable; however, now that his peers are speaking in complete sentences and articulating clearly...
You see where I'm going with this?
They're picking up on Vince's weakness. I don't think anyone's been outright mean to him, but kids are kids. They don't realize how mean they sound as they say things like "Vincent sounds funny" or "Why do you talk like a baby?"
I can't help but wonder if Vincent wouldn't sing with the class because he felt self-conscious about his own ability to articulate the words as well as the other kids. He can't really sing along to very many songs because he just can't articulate the words fast enough. He's great with beats and can "babble" in time with the music, occasionally getting out a clear word or two where they're meant to go. By and large, however, he babbles along and I've heard kids call him out on it. I've seen Vince look at them cock-eyed and keep on going, oblivious to what they meant by correcting him... but what if it's finally dawning on him that he's not "on level" with the other kids? What if he's starting to feel bad or not smart because he can't communicate as well as the others?
I had to choke back tears as I took him from the classroom. Again, all those thoughts of inadequacy came flooding in.
I should've gotten him more help. I should've found more doctors to side with me on surgery before he was two. I should work harder with him at home on his communication skills. I need to hire a new speech therapist to coach him one-on-one!
Mostly I just kicked myself on the way home, angry for having put him in a position where he could possibly feel stupid or shut-out from the rest of the group. God forbid he was embarrassed or something. Even now just thinking about it... I'm upset.
Rationally I know this isn't really my fault. As a parent, you can't help but feel responsible, though. There are just days that you are overcome with fear of being the source of your child's pain. The fear that you did something that could possibly harm the most precious little heart you know... it's enough to make your heart bleed. And that was how I felt the entire night.
I talked to John about it, crying the whole time. I couldn't help myself. I felt like such a failure - even though I knew full well I'd done everything in my power to salvage his hearing from when he was nine months old. John patted my hand and told me what an amazing mom I was and that I might've just caught him on a terrible day. Maybe he just didn't feel like singing that day and wanted to read a book instead. Who knows? He didn't seem upset or sad when I picked him up, so maybe John was right... maybe it was some freak incident and I got myself riled for no good reason.
This is just the end result of having children, though. Constantly worrying that their issues are somehow caused by your inadequacy as a parent. *Shakes head* Goodness. It's a good thing I trust God to make up for all the things I'm lacking. I'm not a perfect parent. Far from it. But I do love my son, and I trust that even though I will do a litany of things that will cause my little munch issues, God will be there to set him straight again... to somehow take my broken-ness and fix it up enough so that it IS enough. At the end of the day, that's all I can hope for, huh?
I've been blessed with several artistically inclined friends. Being someone who can't draw a straight line with a ruler, having these artistic friends has always given me a bit of a boost. I can live vicariously through their skill set. Ha!
Long-time readers of this blog know that I absolutely adore paintings. I'll try to sneak them into most entries and sometimes I'll even go on wild tangents trying to figure out their layered symbolism. I just really, really enjoy that sorta stuff!
Anyway, an old friend of mine dropped me a line this weekend. (I've already had this discussion with her, so no worries about wading into a public battle of wits. We've reached an understanding and she gave me permission to post this.) This friend, "Lilly," is a pretty incredible painter. I've linked to her material on my page in the past, and I've attended two of her shows in the last year. We don't really talk much, but I tend to comment on her albums as she posts new work. Every now and again she'll comment on a pic or two of Vince, but that's about the extent of our communication.
I was thus happy (and surprised) to hear from her this weekend when she called. She said that she'd been reading this blog for about a month and has been debating asking for my help with selling her paintings. She said that in exchange for selling her artwork on my page, she'd share my blog with her friends.
Now at first glance, that's not a ridiculous offer. However, I admit that I took offense to it simply based on a conversation I'd recently had with John.
Let me explain:
I've been posting to Facebook about my husband's upcoming movie release. Many of my readers already know that he sold his first movie to Lionsgate and the release is this week. In my attempts to support him in his dream to make and sell movies, I not only agreed to be in the movie (with Vincent), but I helped make the food, solicited help from my best friend, Mary, and have been plugging the movie left and right for it's various screenings, releases, and news-bytes.
Now, what most of you don't know is the name of my husband's movie. The reason for this is that the content in the movie. It's rated R, but it should really be closer to NC-17. It's very "The Hang Over" in content. Thus, I've never promoted it on my page, even after John's begged me to write up a horrible review and rile all of you fine readers up into a tizzy so you'll buy it and yell about it, too.
*Shakes head* My husband - "No publicity is bad publicity." Ha ha!
Anyway, I've made the conscious choice NOT to promote his movie on this page based on principle. He was feeling slightly unsupported because I didn't want to use this medium to promote what I was already promoting through Facebook, Twitter, etc.
As I pointed out, however, I was supporting him in every other way known to man. I was telling folks about his project, I was linking to the various news articles about it, I cooked for the cast / crew, and I agreed - against better judgement - to take part in it. That's about as supportive as it gets, right?
Then, on top of that, I pointed out that for all the unsolicited support he got from me - publicly - he had yet to link to my jewelry page. So I really shouldn't hear word one about being unsupportive.
(Mind you, pointing this out promptly solicited a "Check out my wife's page" post to his feed; I was quite appreciative).
I go out of my way to support the various projects he or our mutual friends get involved with. I'll re-post teasers, I'll comment on promotions, I'll share tasting / jewelry events. Why? Because that's what friends do, right? Even with stuff I'm not entirely excited about because it's not about my excitement regarding a project - it's my level of excitement regarding the success of a friend.
So I re-post - ad nauseum, I'm sure.
Yet I have not received similar treatment and the answer is always the same. "I'd totally repost your stuff if it weren't so religious."
Now this is not an entry whining about how little my friends repost my store. I'm honestly not looking for that. You fine readers have done a wonderful job of spreading the word, and for that, you have my prayers and appreciation. However, I take offense to the fact that there are those among my group who have the audacity to claim I'm unsupportive or unwilling to help because I'm embarrassed by X, Y or Z when they refuse to help me out because they're embarrassed by God, or who would have no problem reposting my jewelry so long as they're getting something out of it. As Lilly pointed out, she'd "make the sacrifice" of posting about God in order to access my "audience."
Something just doesn't really sit too well with me when you put it like that.
I don't mind coupling up with others who want to reach a broader audience. I've had similar discussions with Dom, a wonderful artist, and even my friend, Mary. I don't mind sharing wonderful items that I think my readers would be interested in.
What I DO mind, however, is being used and then allowing my readership to be used. Looking to ride the coat-tails of the year and a half I've spent churning out entries, battling against mean-spirited trolls, and pouring out my personal life for what I hope will be the benefit of others... it amounts to being used.
Telling me that you'll "make the sacrifice" of sharing my hard work so you're able to make good off the readership I love, appreciate and respect? I'm sorry, but that just seems downright arrogant.
And I explained it in those terms. If my page isn't good enough for you to "like" or share on its own - or even just because you would like to help me find success - your artwork isn't going to make it any better. Your artwork isn't going to somehow change or overshadow the fact that this blog is Catholic, and everything about me and what I do is firmly rooted in that Catholicism.
So again - this isn't a pity party asking folks to share my page. I don't want it shared by those who simply feel guilted or shamed into sharing. I want it shared by those who either enjoy my work (both written and crafted), or who believe others will find value in this calling.
I apologize for the long vent. It's just that I've been approached by so many folks over the last week or so who were interested in utilizing this page either for ad-space, sales or information (and no, I never have and never will allow 3rd parties to take your information).
It just really drove me up a wall and I ended up feeling very frustrated. Since speaking with Lilly, she agreed that she hasn't exactly been the most stellar at recognizing that my work was just as valid and time-consuming as hers. And maybe that's what folks who don't blog / craft tend to forget.
So Delaware just passed a law which effectively outlaw corporal punishment on the basis that child abusers exist.
My question is this: Should we outlaw sex because rapists exist?
I mean, in both instances, we have laws in place that specifically punish folks guilty of child abuse / rape. We are we looking to abolish corporal punishment altogether? Exactly when did the state gain the authority to tell me how to properly discipline my child??
Pardon me, Delaware, but methinks you've just spoiled an entire generation of children. Why? Because most kids are smart enough to realize that with a simple false report to the police, Mommy or Daddy will be at their mercy and can thus get away with being terrible, terrible people.
"You think you can ground me for failing three semesters of math? Yeah right. I can easily call the cops and tell them you've been hitting me behind closed doors and you won't be around to enforce that, will you?"
This is a TERRIBLE, TERRIBLE idea. Our government's been remarkably good at making those recently.
But yes... should we now outlaw sex on the same grounds?
1 day old - still in the hospital!
Three years ago today I got to meet the blessing I'd been waiting for my entire life.
My little smiling bubble of sunshine.
I still try to measure his growth against the memory of him nestled in my arms that first night in the hospital. His little ear tucked into my elbow... his little face smooshed against my breast... his "bundled" body hugging the length of my arm.
Oh and how he's grown!
Now his head rests on my shoulder and curls into my neck. His arms encircle me and those precious feet dangle well past my hips.
My baby is no longer a baby so much as a little boy, and I'm not entirely sure how that happened!
But I thank God for such a blessing. Each smile, each laugh, each gasp of awe... they're golden little treasures in my heart. Even his struggles, his frustration, and his cries... they're all little jewels that have endeared him to me and marked him as mine.
Today we celebrated amongst ourselves. John and I took him out for a fun dinner and ice cream because, although our family tends to want bigger, more extravagant celebrations, we appreciate our tradition of togetherness. John and I created our little family unit, and we like first dibbs on celebrating the moment we finally became a real family. It's ours - he is ours. And while we love to share him with our families, we do tend to get selfish of him in moments like this.
No worries, however. We'll have the cake and the presents and the family together in a couple days. We don't deprive him of such joy. We do, however, push it off in favor of our unique family-time. John and I both hope it instills in him how much we love and appreciate him. Cake and presents are great, but bonding with the people who love you most in the world...
That's a true celebration. :)
Happy birthday, baby. Mommy loves you more than you know. I thank God for you every day - you are a kiss from God, Himself. Bless you always...
This weekend was INSANE! I mean that in a really good way, but boy am I tired!!! On Friday night, I crammed about four days of cleaning into a few hours.
You see, with my new job starting on Tuesday, and all the plans I had for the weekend, I really wanted to have the house cleaned and all the laundry completed. Unfortunately, all those wonderful plans fell through when I found out that I'd lost my sitter for Saturday. Now that I would have Vincent, I couldn't do about ten of my "To-Do's" which meant we threw everything out the window and spent the entire weekend having fun.
Good thing I crammed my productivity into Friday night, huh?
Anyway, on Saturday I took Vincent to the farm. He went apple picking for the very first time, and while we were at it, we picked some corn, too! You only live once, kid, and you haven't truly lived until you get lost in row upon row of corn. :) I think he enjoyed the hay ride that ferried us between the various fields. He and another little boy kept grabbing fistfuls of hay to "rain down" onto the floor boards.
He was a little afraid of the stalks, but he liked shucking the corn!
After we picked the apples and corn, we found our way back to the market where we picked up peaches. These peaches were HUGE! They were the size of John's fists, and John's got some pretty huge hands. Vincent really enjoyed eating those. At first he refused because I was calling them "peaches," but as soon as I represented them as "apples" he went to town. He's definitely at that stage where trying new things is suspect. *Shakes head* Ah well. Now he eats them just fine... even if I call them by their proper name.
Super late Saturday night I drove down to meet up with my in-laws in Ocean City. Being the last weekend of the summer, I wanted to make sure Vince got at least one more "beach day" before we packed it in.
It was great because friends of the family were also down, and the kids in this family adore Vince. Vince adores them, too, so it worked out really well. They practically took over parenting duties for me the whole of Sunday. He absolutely gloried in their attention! It was so adorable to see them vying for his attention... it really was. :)
Riley, Vince and Shannon as we walked up to the boardwalk together.
Finally, Monday rolled around and it was a little bit of a bust. The weather was dreary, so we weren't able to do much outside. However, I wanted to take Vince up to get photos like we do every Labor Day weekend. John was away for a bachelor party he hosted, so he wasn't able to come with, but I wanted to keep the tradition going and surprise him with photos when we saw him that night.
At first, Vincent was in rare form and didn't want to take them. So I walked all the way home with him and put him down for a nap. After the nap, I decided to try again in the hopes that he was in a more willing mood. I was not disappointed, and we ended up with quite the happy result!
Yes, I realize I allowed my son to get photographed holding a gun. When he was younger, I allowed him to be photographed with an empty bottle of Jack. Please save any and all comments of irritation or snark. My husband likes these photos, and I find them to be a fun compromise considering I refuse to allow guns into the house (whether they be toy or otherwise - no matter how much the husband begs, barters or pleads).
Anyway, it was a fun weekend, but I'm beat! Oh, and we also got Vince a haircut. It was his first time in the chair all by himself. I'm so happy he sat still!!!
Making faces in the mirror
So yes... even though I was unable to do the litany of things I wanted to check off my To-Do List before my 1st Day, I think I still did pretty well. Being able to spend time with Vincent doing fun and goofy things beats laundry, floor scrubbing and errand-running any day of the week. :)
As you can probably tell from the photo, I was a little overzealous in purchasing the potty for Vince at Christmas when he was only 15 months old.
Now that he's almost three, I'm glad I didn't wait. He got to mess with his potty for almost two whole years before I began to potty train him. He spent those two years getting to know his potty... playing with his potty... and using his potty as a ramp, step-stool and yes, even a seat.
Once I started to coax him into using it for its actual purpose, he wasn't really scared of it. From all the horror stories I've heard of parents trying to prove to their toddlers that monsters don't exist in their potties, or that the seat wouldn't swallow their bottoms, etc, I'm just really, really glad that Vince had a good, happy relationship with his special seat. No fear of the unknown for him, thank goodness!
However, trying to get him to figure out just what that "Uh oh, I gotta go!" sensation actually meant was an entirely different ballgame. As some of you may recall from my 1st foray into Potty Training, I was less than successful. In fact, I was pretty miserable and felt like an all-star failure.
I'd even accepted failure. Almost.
Instead, I didn't give up. John and I just altered our approach. Sure, Vince still had a few accidents over the last two weeks, but ya know what? He's only had a handful! That first weekend of hell really made him incredibly self-aware. Sure it took several hours of me scrubbing my carpets and floors. Sure it took several extra loads of laundry and a couple extra trips to shower, but in the end, I can see what it was all for.
I haven't bought any diapers this month!
Vincent requests to go to the potty now - frequently.
He's in big-boy underwear all day. He hasn't had an accident in three days. THREE DAYS!
And last night? Last night he woke up from his sleep just so he could ask to use the potty.
I think I've died and gone to Heaven.
My little boy... I'm so proud of him.
Several of my friends asked if we did a reward system to see results so fast. We haven't. We've just been very diligent about asking him - over and over again - if he needs to use the potty. Every time he does use the potty, we praise him like you wouldn't believe. In fact, I think we over-praise him.
Twice Vincent stopped playing while we were in Chick-Fil-A's playroom on Wednesday so he could run to the potty. He only went once, but he expected a huge round of applause both times.
Ah well - I'm just so proud of the progress he's making. So moral of the story - Don'T Give Up!
No child goes to high school in diapers. :)
When did my little baby boy go from this
So I made the decision to attempt potty training Vince this weekend. Up until this point, John and I haven't been very consistent with it. If we remembered to try him on the potty after his bath - woo hoo. If not, c'est la vie.
However, my laissez faire approach quickly choked on its bon-bon lovin' neglect after I read a note from his teachers reminding us that Vincent was developmentally ready for preschool. The only thing standing between Vincent and a more structured, educational setting was his diaper.
I immediately felt panicked, proud and frantic reading that letter. I'm so proud that my baby boy is ready for preschool. At the same time, I'm panicky over the fact that my baby boy isn't so much baby as boy now and is thus ready for the next stage of his educational development. That brings tears to my eyes for more than one reason.
Finally, I'm a little frantic because I realize I need to get on the ball with training him. He'll be 3 in September, and if he's to start preschool Sept. 1st, I've got my work cut out for me.
So instead of going down the shore this weekend (as was originally the plan), I spent the entire weekend home with him in anticipation of the many accidents that were waiting to happen.
Ugh - I wasn't disappointed!!!
I can't even tell you how many times this poor kid used my floors as a potty. Le sigh. On the plus side, leaving him run around naked (or in his big boy underwear) certainly made him a lot more aware of the "I gotta go!" sensation that precedes using the bathroom. He even surprised me by using the potty three times - once going number two! I really thought we were making headway.
Not so much.
And after a particularly messy melt-down (on the part of Mommy, not Vince), John calmly suggested that maybe I was trying to push Vince before he was ready. I knew he was right. It made logical sense to me. I think I knew even before I started that he wasn't ready. Trying to push it on him will only freak him out and make potty training that much more difficult.
So I deferred to Daddy on this one. Vince gets a potty training reprieve for now. We'll be more consistent with reminding Vince about the potty and asking him if he needs to go, but for now, we'll let him have his diapers... even if that means he waits a month or two to start preschool.
It takes a village.
Or in this man's case - a town.
We need more stories like this depicting the incredible beauty that humanity is capable of.
God bless the people of Bussey, Iowa.
Alrighty, I've caved. I registered MyBrokenFiat with Twitter. All the cool kids were doing it.
Help me out by getting my following started! I intend to amass an army that will take over the world.
I mean, I intend to amass a following of like-minded, respectable folks who enjoy sharing tips and anecdotes on religion, raising a family, and other relevant morsels.
Follow, share and tweet. Thanks, all! :)
Also be sure to let me know what your Twitter handle is so I can follow you as well. I'm still not entirely sure how all this works, but eventually I'll figure it out, I promise!
Part 3 in the Accident Series
The pain actually worsened in the months after I delivered Vincent. My chiropractor explained that it was partially due to how I was breastfeeding (I cradled Vince, so my shoulders naturally slumped over and rounded my back) and partially due to my ligaments falling back into place.
Also, I may not have been carrying Vince around inside me anymore, but I was carrying him around in a carseat while lugging around a diaper bag. So maybe my extra body weight was gone, but I'd replaced it with an equal or greater amount of luggage that threw my body off-balance.
Bathing Vincent was (and is) one of the most torturous activities for my back. It's SO incredibly painful to bend down to properly clean him. Hoisting him in and out of high chairs, shopping carts, and swings at the park all hurt. And it's not just a quick sharp jab to the spine, either. It's a lasting grinding that leaves me achy for hours (if not days) afterwards.
Then there's cleaning around the house. I'm typically a clean freak. I vacuumed at least three - four times a week (both floors) and scoured the bathrooms on my hands and knees. I'd run up and down three flights of stairs without issue carrying laundry and do grocery shopping without complaint. Now? All of that is painful to me. The twisting motion of the vacuum makes my back revolt, carrying anything for any distance (especially on stairs) is just asking for punishment, and scrubbing tubs and floors really does put me out of commission for at least a day.
I remember a few times when Vince was a baby that I had to have John take over bathing because my back gave out. The first two times it happened, I crawled into bed and just cried because I felt like a failure as a mother.
Then there were days in which I simply couldn't take him to the park like I'd wanted to because I had spent the day before cleaning.
I realized that my life had turned into a perpetual game of Tetris. I was constantly juggling tasks that needed to be done with my ability to actually do them.
- If I do two loads of laundry today, I won't be able to clean the bathrooms, but I might still be able to take Vincent to the park.
- If I hoist Vince up onto the slide a few extra times, I definitely won't be able to scrub the tubs, but I might be able to get him into his high chair for dinner. Right? Maybe John's home and can help.
- I can take Vincent to see my Mom in Philly, but I'll need to time myself so that I get home when John does so someone is there to pull Vincent from the car. I'll have to give up vacuuming this weekend, but at least Vince will see his grandmother.
Seriously - these are the types of thoughts that STILL go on in my head on a daily basis. It's a CONSTANT give and take that makes me feel SO angry. I shouldn't have to constantly gamble my abilities for Vincent's everyday living. And yet I do. They may not be for the same things as when he was a baby, but they still exist.
For example, he loves to do pony-back rides now. I can maybe give him two or three before I'm out of commission. He'll cry because he wants a few more rounds, but I simply can't. And yes, I still hate myself for that sometimes.
Then there are the times my neice will see me "airplaning" Vince. She'll demand a turn (which I happily give), but I know the inevitable, "I'm sorry, guys, but I can't do it again" will come and make them feel gypped of fun.
I hate it. I hate everything about this. It makes me feel gypped as a mother / aunt because I SHOULD be able to do all these things without thought. It's not like I'm 60 years old. Argh.What's worse is that I had to give up my chiropractor because I simply did not have the money to put towards him. Copays are $50 per visit, and at three visits per week, that adds up to how many diapers? How many clothes? How many trips to the zoo? It didn't seem fair that I was taking money away from Vincent to pay for something that the insurance company should have been paying for. So I sued the guy's insurance for proper coverage - All State. It was like opening an entirely new hell for myself.