LOST: 2 Kids’ Loveys FOUND: 1 More Loving Mommy

51 days down, 314 to go!

Dear Lion and Tiger,
Where do you get off hiding from #3 right before bedtime? Do you not know that #3 can’t fall asleep without you? And of all nights to go missing you pick a night when your best friend didn’t nap during the day and is completely and utterly inconsolable. Seriously? WTF? What did I do to offend you? I’m nothing but nice to you. I wash you when you’ve been chewed to disgustiness. I make sure you come on vacations with us. I try my hardest to let you stay snuggled in bed all day so that you don’t get left behind somewhere or fed yogurt for breakfast. And yet, this is how you repay me. Thanks. No truly. Thanks.  You made me realize something. 51 days of not yelling and I’ve actually changed. So while I am grateful for my new insight, let’s not pull this stunt again, okay?

Thanks,
The Orange Rhino

*
It’s 5:59. Finally, time to go up to bed. I’m counting down the minutes until 7:00 when I have my night to myself. I have lots to do. But, oh my, Lion and Tiger had other plans.

It’s now 6:15. #3 is out of the bath. Up since 5 am with no nap, he looks like he is going to face plant any second. He frantically starts looking for his friends. And by friends I mean his 3 Lions and his 2 Tiger loveys that he NEEDS in order to go to sleep. We are 2 lions and 2 tigers short.  Sh*t I think, knowing the hysterics that will follow. Yup.

Missing: Lion #3 and Tiger #2. Reward: Anything. Just so long as #3 goes to sleep!

Through tears: “Mommy, mommy. Tiger gone. Lion gone. Missing. All gone. Downstairs.”

In an effort to save bedtime I quickly grab the baby and bravely leave #1, #2, and #3 alone in a room (which by the way is asking for someone to be pushed into a door or kicked just because it’s the end of the day and that’s what we do. Duh!)  I go downstairs and do a quick sweep of the house and find 1 lion and 1 tiger. Double sh*t. Still down 2.

I hesitantly return upstairs to deliver the news to my now screaming 2.5 year old.

“#3, look I found Lion and Tiger!!!”

#1 points out: “Mommy, you’re still missing a tiger.”
#2 points out: “And a lion.”
#3 “chimes” in: “NOOOOO. Lion and Tiger gone. All gone. No nap.”

(Oh yes dear son, you are going to sleep. With or without Lion #3 and Tiger#2, you are destined for bed!)

Well, at this point there isn’t much else I can do, scratch that, will do. It’s way past bed time and I desperately need to get the kids to sleep so that I can feed the baby (and because well, I am desperate for the day to be over already). I promise #3 that I will find Lion and Tiger and bribe him with an episode of Jake and the Neverland Pirates in the morning if he goes to sleep.  The bribe worked. Jake is my new best friend.

Fast forward to 7:00 ish. I am on my hands and knees crawling all over the first floor looking under every curtain, chair, couch, table for Lion and Tiger. When I am not looking under I am looking in. In every bucket, box, wagon, car, tool box, backpack, bed, cabinet. And let’s not forget IN the garbage. Yup, I looked in every FULL (because why would they be empty on nights I needed to look through them?!) garbage bag. No luck.

It is now 7:30ish. I have just wasted 30 minutes of MY PRECIOUS TIME looking for these blessed animal friends that are SUPPOSED to stay in their room for this exact reason. I don’t know how many times I have cursed these friends out. And not just lion and tiger. I’ve cursed out daddy elephant, mommy elephant, froggy, ducky, lamby, giraffe, puppy#1, puppy #2, teddy #1, teddy #2, and the newest friend, #4’s bunny. Because yes, each child has not 1, not 2, but AT LEAST 4 of these friends.

Why? I don’t know. I guess because when I was a first time mom and some experienced mom said “oh you mustn’t buy just one, you need several in case you lose one. But oh, don’t buy the same one. Buy different animals so he is equally attached to all so if one is lost, he’ll be happy with another.” Okay, well that logic was WRONG.  As proved tonight.

My boys don’t care if they are the same or different. If they have 1 or 600. They love them all equally if and 1 is missing well their whole universe falls apart.

And normally I fall apart with it.

“What the h*ll! How did you lose your friends?! They are supposed to stay in your room! Why didn’t you leave them there. This is your fault. Your responsibility. I have things to do besides looking for your friends. Give me a break!”

Oh yes, I have had MASSIVE tantrums and screaming fits over missing friends and blamed the kids. Some of my best shows actually. And all right before bedtime.  It wasn’t bad enough one of my sons had to go to bed without their best friend, I had to scream at them too. Talk about an AWESOME send off to bed.

But tonight, I didn’t. It was hands down the weirdest out of body experience EVER. I didn’t even flinch. I  just offered hugs and kisses and lots of love and encouragement that he would sleep okay which is a MUCH better way to send him off to slumber. Was I annoyed? Oh yes. Did I b*tch while looking through the garbage that smelled of fresh fish? Yes. Did I yell at myself for losing the friends (because really, my son is 2.5, it’s my job to make sure the friends, ALL 5 of them, stay in his room)? Yes.

But I didn’t lose it at #3. I didn’t even have the urge to throw a raging Level 6 temper tantrum. Or to even yell.

And wow is that refreshing and ridiculously awesome. I feel like I have actually changed. And given the length and intensity of the screaming rants I used to have, I honestly never thought I could. I never thought I could hold it together. I never thought I could go 1 day, let alone 2 days, let alone 51 days without yelling.

I lost the loveys and in return found a new, calmer, me. A me who yells less and loves more. Totally worth the hassle.

Found. At the Train Station. Of all the places, they couldn't have gone hiding on the couch, where I could find them??!

And rest assured, Lion and Tiger were found and are now snuggling with #3.  They were at the Train Station with Thomas. Because, really, why hide in an obvious place and make my life easy?

*

Do you think you that you can’t stop yelling? Is there one event that always sets you off? Share it with me! I picked 365 days of not yelling for my goal. That was perhaps a little intense. Maybe I could have picked just one event, like becoming a screaming mama whenever a friend was lost, and decided to not yell in that situation. If you are hesitant to start the challenge but want to, maybe try picking one event and choosing not to yell at that time. It’s a start, right?

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Pay it Forward

49 days down, 316 to go.

Dear Russell,
I want to thank you for saving me from my cranky self last Friday. You might not have realized it but the one word you said to me helped me get through the rest of the day. It gave me the pep in my step that I had a lost. So thank you. You are amazing.

Cheers,
The Orange Rhino

*
Day 45 sucked. You already know that. But what you don’t know is that it only mostly sucked, it didn’t completely suck. All thanks to Russell.

About 6 hours after my Day 45 morning meltdown, and about 2 hours after my afternoon meltdown because #1 and #2 came home from school, looked at me, and started up AGAIN, it was time to get all the boys out the door to take #3 to speech therapy. #3 and #4 had opted to shorten their naps (wasn’t that considerate?!) so I took advantage of the beautiful weather to walk to town instead of drive. I SO desperately needed the exercise and sunshine. I prayed that together the two would snap me back into a good mood; that they would snap me back to being a good, on the ball parent.

So I strapped one kid on my back in my Ergo baby carrier, buckled two in the double stroller and took the other one by the hand. And off we went for our mile walk to town. I felt rejuvenated as hoped and thought,

“I can do this. I can make it through Day 45. I feel MUCH better. Mental note. When struggling, get out and walk.”

Am I the only one who thinks positive things out loud and jinxes herself? UGH!

We arrived and within minutes of #3 heading off with his speech therapist, I immediately, thought “sh*t I CAN’T do this!” #4 was screaming again because he was hungry, but wouldn’t take his bottle. And #1 and #2 were whining because two of the boys in the waiting room had doughnuts and they did not. So they opted to show their dismay by climbing all over the chairs, rolling around on the floor, not listening and reminding me every 30 seconds that they did not have doughnuts. It was AWESOME, mostly because there were three other moms watching me (judging me?) as I struggled to keep my composure.

At last #3 returns. I couldn’t get out of there fast enough. I load everyone up and head for the door. As I maneuver myself and the stroller out, Russell, the office manager, stops me.  He takes one look at me. I clearly look frazzled. And overwhelmed. And probably pretty fragile too.

“I just want you to know that I think you are Amazing. You do an amazing job.”

Well, I certainly didn’t feel “Amazing” and I don’t like to think I am. But guess what, at that point, I said thank you and believed him. Because I needed to.  That one statement made my afternoon. It kept Day 45 alive. It gave me the confidence I needed. It filled my heart with happiness. Seriously.

Because how often as a mom do I feel unrecognized, unappreciated, and unsuccessful? OFTEN.
How often do I feel amazing? HARDLY EVER, if ever.

Why?

Part of that is my nature. I am insecure. Part of that is the nature of being a mom. Of being caught up in the diaper changing, fight stopping, nap training, meal making, mini-van driving craziness and forgetting to stop and realize, wait, I have good kids, I MUST BE DOING SOMETHING RIGHT.

And part of it is that there is no report card in motherhood, there is nothing telling me I am doing a good job. There are just kids telling me they need milk and their bottoms wiped!  And well I like report cards, always have, always will. They inspire me. They make me feel good about myself, my efforts. They remind me that my hard work is paying off. And if my hard work isn’t paying off, at least they say, hey, you get an A for effort. Oh how I miss report cards, oh how I miss the tangible positive reinforcement.

Yes, I could easily say that my boys are my report card. I could say that their behavior 100% reflects my efforts. That their politeness (or not), their empathy (or not), their listening (or not!!) is a direct correlation to my efforts. But at the ages of 5 and under, I think it is unfair, to me and to them, to consider them my “report card.”

Right now, at this stage of motherhood, I can only be evaluated based on me. On my actions. On my efforts. So to hear Russell tell me that I am doing an amazing job, well, it felt great. And it was the kind of positive reinforcement I needed at that moment because the other reinforcement I was getting was   from my boys and it was the importance of birth control!

Russell took 30 seconds out of his day to compliment me as a mom. 30 seconds. Those 30 seconds reinvigorated me and helped me parent the next 4 hours with more love, grace and a heck of a lot more fortitude. You know, like an Orange Rhino. I know I am not alone in wishing someone told me I was a good mom more often…and I know I am not the only one who NEEDS to hear that more often. So I am going to pay it forward. Any time I see a parent doing being amazing, I am going to tell him/her. Starting now.

If you are reading this, chances are that you are trying to yell less at your children. In my book that makes you amazing, because admitting that you need to change takes courage, and trying to change takes even more.

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The Orange Rhino Rolodex

45 days down, 320 to go!

Dear Day 45,
You kind of sucked. Big time. But you know that already, you were right there beside me watching (laughing?) as the kids took turns kicking my a*s and I fought back tears of frustration. Oh I hope the next few days are better or at least that they give me new ideas on how to handle tough, crappy days.

Off to recharge,
The Orange Rhino

*

Today sucked. Really sucked. I haven’t had a day like today in oh say 45 days. The hits just kept on coming and my anger, then hostility, and frustration just kept on growing. I think my kids actually woke up and said, hmmm, let’s test mommy today. She is almost at 50 days, let’s knock her back to 0 for sh*ts and giggles. Well they did a darn good job trying. Because let me tell you…oh did I want to SCREAM today.

It all started at 7:00 am. #2 took all the pillows in the family room and created a blockade so that I couldn’t sit down and feed the screaming baby suffering from a 103 fever.  I know, sounds innocent, right? They are just pillows. Well to me, it was a personal attack. I have told him time and time again NOT to do that because it makes it hard for me to walk safely around the coffee table without tripping and yada yada yada. In otherwords, it’s a darn inconvenience to me and I don’t want to deal with it at 7:00 in the morning. Can we say, mama was CRANKY?!

Next.

Five minutes after I finished feeding #4 and the boys TV show ended the mischief began. The dumping of all toy containers. The throwing blocks across the room. The running around the house naked and screaming. Did I mention the baby was still crying because he refused his bottle and he was still starving?  Did I mention that nothing and I mean NOTHING I said, did, tried, stopped the behavior? Did I mention that I was so frustrated tears were starting to fall down my cheeks? Yup they were. I just didn’t know what to do with myself. I was so overwhelmed and frustrated that I couldn’t get a hold on the situation. Disciplining just wasn’t working this morning and I wanted to SCREAM, not yell, but SCREAM!

So I stood still in the middle of the kitchen, tears falling, baby screaming in my arms and the three older boys running around me, naked.

The Orange Rhino Rolodex. Well not exactly, but maybe I do need one?!

And I started mentally flipping through my Orange Rhino Rolodex for tips on how to keep from yelling. Breathe. Walk away. Whisper. Get a camera. Join them. I tried everything (but get naked, scary sight!) and didn’t yell but discovered I was quickly running out of tactics. Sigh. It was only 8:00 and I was tapped out for the day.

Ding.

Saved by the toaster oven! The waffles I *cooked* are ready and the smell of syrup rallies the troops, albeit still naked, to the table. At this point, I don’t care. I just want 5 minutes of quiet and quasi good behavior.

Clearly too much to ask.

The plates – WITH SYRUP DRIPPING ON THEM – start flying across the kitchen table. Are you kidding me??? I picked up the plates and cleared the table. Breakfast was over. The response I got?

“Mommy, we were just being like the three naughty monkeys on TV. We were having fun too. You see, the monkeys threw their breakfast (banana peels) so that is what we were doing.”

Well sh*t. They were right. They were acting out the TV show. Ugh.  Should they know better? Probably. But points for creative play.

Just then, they are saved by the phone. My hubby innocently asks how the morning was going. My response?

“It ain’t going, it’s EXPLODING. This morning has been awful. I am at a loss. I don’t know what to do.” Tears start flowing FAST.

My husband so lovingly tells me one of my new insights:

“Sweetheart, you just have to go 32 more minutes and you’ll make it through the day. You just have to get them buckled into their carseats (where they can’t hit, punch, bite each other) and off to school.”

“Right. I got it. I can do this.”

I can’t remember exactly what happened in those next 30 minutes. I blocked it out because it was beyond infuriating. I am pretty sure it had to do with lots of not listening and not getting ready for school. I had completely lost control of the situation. Anytime I spoke my voice seemed to vanish into the air. Poof!  My boys were in charge. I was just along for the ride. And boy was it a bumpy, crappy ride that made me sick to my stomach with frustration. I just wanted to SCREAM at them and scare them into listening. Obviously that wasn’t an option.

So I focused on keeping it together for just 30 minutes. The time flew when I finally let go and stopped pushing them to cooperate, when I realized that it was OKAY that we were going to be late to school. No big deal. No point yelling. I chilled out and in turn, so did they. Of course, I felt like I failed as a parent, that I gave in to their bad behavior.

But as I write this, I think, maybe I didn’t fail. I might not have gotten their behavior under wraps but at least I kept mine in check by not yelling. So I guess I need to add “chill out” to my Orange Rhino Rolodex of tips on how not to yell.

What’s in your Orange Rhino Rolodex?

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I just threw a temper tantrum…

44 days down, 321 to go!

Dear Self,
You need to just chill out. And you need to remember why you started blogging in the first place. To have a place to go to for support. To keep yourself accountable, and on task. You didn’t start blogging to become a popular writer. What you write doesn’t have to be perfect. It just has to be real. And honest. Forget coming up with thesis statements and the like. This isn’t college. You aren’t getting graded. Phew. I really detested English class. Because I always got flustered writing. And yet here I am. Flustered. Go figure.

Remember, RELAX! (do you know what that means?),
Your Self
a.k.a. The Orange Rhino

*

Last week I threw a temper tantrum, to the likes of my 5 year old’s temper tantrums, although perhaps worse since I am 30+ and *should* have it all together. Which I SO don’t. It is actually a tossup as to whose temper tantrums are worse. Mine or my 5 year olds. Sadly, they are about the same. He just has 1-2 a day and I am down to 1-2 every few months. THANK GOD.

But last week’s was grand.  Complete with foot stomping, yelling, slamming my computer down, and some tears. All because I was frustrated. All because I had a vision of what I wanted to write and I couldn’t achieve it. I wanted what I wrote to be perfect, to make sense, to flow and say exactly what I wanted it to say. And it wasn’t flowing. And I just kept thinking, sh*t, this is a WASTE of my time because no one reads what I write. And I just kept obsessing over words, lines, trying to shorten my blog to make it fit the suggested length of a blog so people would read it, when really, I should have just put it out there.

I should have just stopped worrying what people think about me and instead used my babysitter time to have quality time with my baby while my sitter played with my 2.5 year old. And vice versa. That is the waste. Not the less than perfect writing. But the poor prioritization of my time. And really, that is what the tantrum was all about.

Or was it?

Was it really my being angry at myself for sucking at prioritizing. Is that really why I was mad?

Was it really my being angry at myself for not having self discipline, not knowing when to stop. Nope.

I have to be honest with myself, with you all. And this is going to be wicked embarrassing to admit. My tantrum was all because I was afraid of what people would think, that you wouldn’t like what I wrote, that you wouldn’t like me.  Why is that embarrassing to admit? I don’t know. I guess the part about caring so much about what others think of me and not having any self confidence to believe in myself?

I finished my tantrum and my babysitter who had just witnessed it looked at me.

“I think you should stop blogging. It is stressing you out.”

“No it’s not” (said grouchily, kind of like a barking dog, roof!)

“No really, it is.”

And that’s when I realized. The blog itself isn’t stressing me out. It’s the putting myself out there that is. I am the most insecure person you’ll meet. I spend probably way too much time out of my day worrying that I am not good enough, that people don’t like me, that I did something wrong, yaddah yaddah yaddah.

So this blog, in all of its wonderfulness, and this challenge, in all of its wonderfulness, is phenomenally difficult to me. It is like a double whammy – learning to not yell and learning to not care so much about what the negative stuff other people *might* or *might not* think of me and what I write.

So I turned my tantrum into a teaching moment. My babysitter LOVES when I act like her 2nd mom (insert sarcasm).

“You’re right. I do seem stressed. But it is a good thing. It is positive stress. This blog, writing and sharing with the world, it’s forcing me to learn how to worry less about what people think (might think) about me. It’s forcing me to learn how to believe in myself first, to feel proud about what I wrote even if others don’t feel the same. This personal issue of worrying that others might think negatively about me has kept me stuck in many ways for my entire life. It’s held me back. If I can fight through it, I’ll come out a stronger, better, happier person.”

And I truly believe that.

So I am choosing to challenge myself. To  keep doing The Orange Rhino Challenge, the not yelling and the blogging. Because I believe I will come out stronger, better, and happier. It is HARD, REALLY HARD but it is so worth it.

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The Root of my Yelling

43 days down, 322 to go! 

Dear College Ruled Yellow Paper,
I would be lost without you. I need you like I need water. You keep me going because you free me. You free me of all the thoughts which are bogging me down and stressing me out. You give me clarity. So thank you. Please don’t ever disappear even in this ridiculous digital age. In my eyes, no computer or App can replace you.

xoxo,
The Orange Rhino

*

I have a confession to make. I am in love with someone beyond my husband, my kids, my family, my friends.  I, The Orange Rhino, am in love with my yellow college-ruled (NEVER ever wide ruled) pads of paper. I have one in the kitchen and one next to my bed. Whenever I feel like my head is going to explode from the constant bombardment, I turn to my dear friend, the yellow pad of paper.

You see, while some people do Yoga to find calm, I make to-do lists, schedules and charts to find calm! It simply brings me inner peace. When my mind is feeling crazy and overwhelmed by my ridiculous, over ambitious ideas of what I need to do to be a better mom, what Dr. appointments I need to make, what house chores I need to do, what house chores I would like to do, what personal goals I have, yadda yadda yadda, I put it all down on one of my many yellow pads of paper. And then I organize it. And then I turn to the  other two things I love – Microsoft Excel and Microsoft PowerPoint – and make a “fancy” prioritized to-do list, or a “fancy” color-coded schedule, or a “fancy” chart. And I feel better. Much better. Nothing gives me a greater natural high than making a list or a chart.

While the graphic representation of the inside of my mind can be frightening, I still love the order, the organization, the clarity it brings. I love being able to physically see how to proceed, how to stay calm. My lists and my charts are my map to get away from my mental chaos…and I would so be lost without them.

So it should be of no surprise when I started feeling challenged, feeling mental overwhelmed on this Challenge, when I started Digging Deeper, that I got pen and paper and made a chart. Several Charts actually. And guess what, I found clarity. Lots of it.

See Exhibit 1 & 2 (LOL as I write that): What Triggers, my Triggers?

From these two charts, I was able to figure out the main driver at the root of all my yelling.

I am an IMPATIENT person.

I am impatient. There I said it. I am an impatient person.  And what I feel propelled to write next is “I always have been, always will be.” But I refuse to accept that. I will NOT always be an impatient person. I am going to become a more patient person. Full stop. Period. Why? Besides the obvious that patience is a good thing?

Because “love is patient.”

On our wedding day, my husband and I promised to each other to be Patient and I owe the same promise to my sons.

How can I live up to that promise?  Well I need to understand what drives me to be Impatient…besides DNA. I love you and all dad, but I could have done without your impatient gene. That’s a joke by the way. I like my DNA. Mostly.  But seriously, what does drive me to be so impatient – with my kids, with my life, with myself?

Well another sketch helped figure that one out. See Exhibit 3, re-drawn for legibility purposes AND with some blanks. Can’t give everything away now!! I have 322 more days to blog!

Exhibit 3: I am Impatient Because…

Why am I so impatient? Crap there are lots of reasons!!!

Well crap, there is A LOT on this chart. A LOT. It is frightening indeed (especially since the empty boxes have been my life long personal challenges! But oh do I feel like a weight has been lifted. You see, all these lines with words, well these words have been bouncing around in my head for years. Driving me nuts. Making me feel overwhelmed because I KNEW that they were giving me a headache, literally and figuratively. But seeing them on paper, formally identifying them and now sharing them with the Orange Rhino Community, well, it is empowering. Because now I can’t hide anymore behind the excuse of “I don’t know why I am so stressed, why I am so impatient.”

Because, yes you do, Orange Rhino, yes you do. It is time to TAKE CHARGE, it is time to work on you. Because the nicer me, the nicer mom, the nicer more loving kids I will raise. Or at least that is my theory. Here’s hoping it works!

How will I take Charge? Did I get a map out of these other charts? Yup! But I’ll save that for a rainy day (ie. when I am ready to expose myself even more…could be a while!)

P.S. I hope this post maybe inspired you a little, made you think a little, but if neither of those I hope it made you laugh A LOT at my DORKINESS!!! Wow can NOT believe I just publicly shared these charts with strangers…

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“I try to Sing my Emotions”

42 days down, 323 to go!

Dear Alison,
Tonight’s post is for you. You were one of my first FB followers and you have inspired me along the way with your commitment and passion to change the habit of yelling at your kids. I have always been impressed with your honesty and your positive attitude. I often found myself thinking of you, and your will, whenever I was feeling like I wanted to quit, so thank you.

When you made it 10 days, I asked you a few questions and this is what you answered. As you re-embark on day 1 (or is it 2?) I thought it was the perfect time to share with you what you wrote. I hope it makes you smile. I know it made me smile, especially the part about singing your emotions instead of yelling them. And I know it will make others not only smile but also feel inspired. Thanks for sharing. And keep it up. ANY moment that you choose to not yell is a win in my book. So whether you make it 10 more days, 30, 60 or 365, I think you have already succeeded….

Cheers to YOU,
The Orange Rhino

*

1. Name (if you wish), # of kids, ages and gender
Alison Chan, 2 kids, Ethan 3.5 and Calvin 21 months

2. What drove you to do The Orange Rhino Challenge in the first place? Did you have an epiphany?

I was reading your blog that a friend had posted and immediately was drawn to the truth that you spoke. I gave it a try and on day 3 of going back to day 0, I realized I really needed to give this a serious try. Once I got to day 1 successfully, I realized that my 3-year-old also did not have a tantrum that day. After that I was hooked and committed to going a whole 365 days!

3. How has The Orange Rhino Challenge impacted you? Your family? 
I have had 13 days without yelling and feel fantastic. I am so much more patient with my kids and really now I realize that I used to get upset about the stupidest things. The biggest impact on our family is the pure and simple fact that Ethan has not had a tantrum in 13 days! Him and I talk about this and he really said that it is because I am talking to him differently. I love it!

4. What has been the hardest part about not yelling?
The hardest part about not yelling is that it is easy to revert to old habits. It is really hard at the beginning to change the way you speak. I realize now though that I even lost track of the number of days I have not yelled because it feels so normal to me to not yell now.

5. What is the best part about not yelling?
The best part about not yelling is that my kids have also stopped yelling. They now have so much more tolerance for each other and are starting to really share their feelings and emotions in a much more grownup way. It has been fabulous! I have enjoyed so much more of my time at home with them. I am a stay at home mom and I can honestly say, some days I would just wait for my husband to get home from work and just run out of the house because I was so frustrated some days when my oldest would have 4 or 5 30 min tantrums. I no longer have days at all like that any more and I am so happy to spend every minute with them. The tough moments we do have are much more manageable for all of us.

6. What is your one “Orange Rhino Revelation” about how to not yell that you would like to share with others? (ie, what works instead…singing, dancing, being silly?)

I always try to get silly and sing my emotions out instead of yell……this sounds so ridiculous, but it works for me.

7. Did you EVER think you would make it to Day 10? 
I never thought at day 0, I could make it to day 10, but now I am losing track of the number of days because it is getting so easy for me.

8. What is your new goal
My new goal is to get to day 60. After that, I think 365 days is totally possible!
*

Have you made it 10 days without yelling? Email me! I would love to hear from you and be inspired! The first 10 days are the hardest but most phenomenal feeling days. Reading what other people experienced during those 10 days reminds me what it is all about.

Email me at TheOrangeRhinoChallenge@gmail.com

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What triggers, my triggers?

41 days down, 324 to go!

Dear Muscles,
With all this digging I’ve been doing, where the heck are my beautifully sculpted arms? They still look flabby and gross. Can I at least get a little bit of tone going on? After all, spring is around the corner and I would love to wear some sleeveless, flirty, non-maternity dresses!

Much obliged,
The Orange Rhino

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41 days down. I’m psyched. 324 to go? I’m totally terrified.  Because this is hard, hard, wicked hard work! The first two weeks not yelling were easy – the adrenaline from realizing I could actually not yell and the novelty of my new persona drove me to succeed. And then reality set in, the adrenaline vanished and it became hard work. Holy SH*T! It took A LOT, and I mean a heck of A LOT of energy to achieve days 15 to 25 ish days which made me think is this sustainable? If so, how will I sustain it?

Do I remove all the legos from the house since they drive me nuts when they aren’t cleaned up and I step on one? Do I give my kids chicken fingers every night so there are less fights? Do I wear a bathing suit during bath time so I don’t care if I get splashed? Do I keep figuring out my triggers and try to remove the ones I can? Yes.

Do I just keep responding to these triggers by taking deep breaths, stomping my feet, walking out of the room, laughing at situations, taking pictures, whispering to the kids, reminding myself they are just kids, and posting on Facebook when I am going to blow? Yes.

And then I had a big, gigantic Orange Rhino Revelation that is great, but that totally sucks too. Sure, I can do all of the above things. And obviously the latter set I have to do, but if I want this all to be easier, to be less hard work, and more natural, more a part of me, I have to do some serious, personal hard work first. I have to figure out, not just the surface level triggers, not just how to respond to them, but I have to figure out what is triggering my triggers.

What really drives me to yell?
What is at the ROOT of my yelling?

Sure it’s easy to blame it on my kids annoying behavior. Their behavior might (definitely) suck at particular moments and YES kids can be ANNOYING but it’s my choice as to how to handle it. While it might take 2 people to tango, and it might seem like it takes 2 people to yell (1 as the yeller, 1 as the instigator), it really only takes 1 person to yell. It takes me.

It is up to ME to control MY voice.

I have to decide whether or not I will yell. My kiddos can instigate all they want but unless they are saying “mommy yell at me” or coming over to pry my mouth open to yell, they aren’t making me yell (even if it feels like it).

And while I can try my darnest to teach them to ditch their annoying behaviors, to teach them to not interrupt when I am on the phone, to not wrestle each other on the coffee table, to not throw their plate across the kitchen (which by the way when full of food is just AWESOME), at the end of the day,

no matter what I wish, there is only one person whose behavior I can control. Mine.

Which means I have to better understand myself and why I yell. I just can’t ENTIRELY blame my yelling on my kiddos. Yes, sometimes I can and will blame them, like when #2 shakes the babies pack n play with him in it and I’ve politely and clearly told him numerous times before that is a definite no-no and he knows it. And well sometimes I can just blame my desire to yell on having a bad day. We all have them. But for the most part, I have to, no, I WANT TO look deeper because I feel that will help ME make yelling (more of) a thing of the past. And that is the hard sh*tty part!

Looking in the mirror can be really UGLY. Being honest, being really really truly deeply honest can be UGLY. And Hard. And it can feel like a relief to tell the truth, like a burden is lifted, but sometimes the process of getting there can suck. Like the last 2 weeks + of my life. It sucked.

It was easy to say I yell too much, that was obvious to everyone in my house. My kids, my husband, my parents, my in-laws, anyone who walked through my door and stayed more than 48 hours could tell you I yell too much. Then it was easy to say I yell too much because I am Impatient. But why I am so impatient? I am tired, stressed, overwhelmed, have four kids blah, blah, blah.

But Why? (do I sound like a kid yet? Why Mommy? Why? Why? Why? Why? )

Why am I stressed? Why am I overwhelmed?

Having to figure out why I yell too much, what if anything I can CHANGE,  and then ADMIT it, admit what I have to do to change, well that ain’t easy and it isn’t entirely pretty either.

Which is why I haven’t been blogging as much. Because this digging has been HARD WORK and mentally exhausting. I’ve figured out some things that I just don’t want to write about and see LIVE on “paper” because it means they are REAL. These “things” that if I decide to work on, decide to commit to and change, mean even more hard work. And I mean really, do I REALLY have time for more work???

But someone told me you only work hard at things you care about and are passionate about. Well this, The Orange Rhino Challenge, my not yelling at my kids for 365 days, I sure as heck am passionate about.

So of course I have the time. It just might mean I won’t blog as much as I like!

Wondering what I discovered? Oh well what fun would that be if I told you all my dark secrets here, in one post??? Stay tuned! I still have to find the courage to write about them!

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What’s a Mom to do?

38 days down, 327 to go!

Dear #1 and #2,
I am glad you had so much fun today. Really I am. Especially because you were having fun together which is a rarity in this house. But next time, can you have more fun doing oh say, not naughty things? I would be much obliged because then I wouldn’t have bitten my tongue trying to not yell.

Thanks,
Your Loving Mom, a.k.a
The Orange Rhino

*

I continue to surprise myself. From 4:30pm to 7:30 pm I certainly should have yelled. At least once. More like four times. Because that is what I would have done in the past.  #1 and #2 were in KAHOOTZ tonight to piss me off. They were determined. Even when I said  “ORANGE RHINO. I am going to lose it” they kept going. With smirks and laughter to boot. Little sh*ts. Oh but I love them.

I don’t know why I didn’t yell.  Maybe it was the Spring type weather, the 8 hours of sleep last night, or maybe I am changing.Or maybe I just realized that I didn’t stand a chance against these two tonight! Sometimes, you just have to toss your hands up in the air and say, oh well. They’re not hurt, they’re not being rude, they’re just having fun. LOOSEN UP mamma! (Yes, I am WICKED uptight. Ask anyone who knows me!)

It all started at 4:30. I had asked the boys to clean up. It got quiet. Really quiet. I looked in the hall closet. All the coats (6 people’s worth!) were on the floor. #1 was standing on top of his Pottery Barn Cushion Chair – which is anything but strong – with six linked hangers in his hand trying to get down a spool of gift ribbon to decorate the house. #2 is standing there as well, taking orders from #1 as to how to support him so he doesn’t fall. It was actually kind of cute…and very resourceful. So I let the mess slide.

I politely reminded them to clean up. I got back to helping #3 clean up.Then I saw something white flying through the air.

What is white, light, and can float in the air for long distances? TOILET PAPER.

Well, since I had ruined their plans to decorate the house with green ribbon they decided together that toilet paper was better. Well at this point I had the baby in my arms. So as I went to grab #1 and stop him with my one free hand, #2 ran back into the bathroom and got more toilet paper. When I stopped him, #1 got free and went into the bathroom. I was completely outmatched.

And I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t yell which is SO what I wanted to do. No, I wanted to SCREAM, like level 6 scream. I wanted to scare them to make them stop in their tracks. They were so giddy from having fun (and probably from the Spring weather too!) that my voice, even my whisper, didn’t demand their attention. I was beyond annoyed because now the entire area was COVERED in one spool of toilet paper. Finally, baby still in arms, and still screaming (lucky kid, that is what I wanted to be doing!) I boxed them out and shut the bathroom door. What else was I supposed to do? Yeah, probably should have just started throwing toilet paper too. Would have been way more fun!

The dynamic duo moved into the kitchen to “color.” Excellent I thought, some nice quiet time. Then it got quiet again. SH*T!

#1 came running out of the bathroom looking like he was ready for a Tribal meeting in the Madagascar movie. He had taken his shirt off and used his Crayola markers to drawn on his face. Now, this wasn’t new. He had done the same a few days earlier. But I was sure that the strong scrubbing in the bathtub for 30 minutes to remove the NON-truly-WASHABLE markers would have cemented in his brain that this was a dumb idea. Clearly, it hadn’t. As I went to wash his face off, I saw another child, #2 of course run out of the kitchen. Well sh*t. Yup, he came back equally decorated.

Again, what’s a mom to do? I mean really?

What's a mom to do? Yell?! Nah. It was too funny. Kind of. It was a pain to wash off!!!

When this is what your kids look like, when they’ve played together joyfully, does yelling really achieve anything??? Nah. I just said to myself screw it. They look hilarious. No need to yell.

Oh, you are probably thinking that was it for the night. Right? Yeah, for an hour.

Our marathon scrubbing the non-washable-markers off bath is over. I am counting down the minutes to a nice, cold, refreshing beer. #1 and #2 and #3 have been tucked in. #4 is having his bottle. It is peaceful. For 30 seconds.

#3 is banging on the door, presumably with his fists.

With my baby in my arms, I walked into #3’s room. I picked him up off the floor where he had been HAMMERING the door. Yes, not banging with fists, but HAMMERING the brand new door with the plastic hammer he snuck into his room since his tools are his security items. I calmly (how the he*k I was calm I truly don’t know) put him in bed, told him good night and walked out.

What a sh*t show.

Alas, it is now 8:10. Not gonna lie, I don’t even need a beer to relax. Because making it through the last few hours without yelling feels really good. Really really good. Being more chill feels great, almost better than a cold beer.

Who am I kidding? I need to celebrate. Cheers!

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I miss my boobs.

36 days down, 329 to go!

Dear 36 D,
I miss you. Every morning when I get dressed I desperately search for you and you are nowhere to be found. All that is left is a bunch of flappy, saggy skin with no resemblance of any shape. It is an ugly sight. An anything but feminine and sexy sight. A reminder that I’m done nursing and having kids sight. And it makes me start the day really sad. Even my super duper lift up bra doesn’t lift my spirits, or anything for that matter, since there is nothing to lift! But then I remember what I have gained in your loss. A much more relaxed, more available, more loving me. So I’d say the trade off is worth it, wouldn’t you? I know my kids would.

It’s been real,
The Orange Rhino

*

Oh my boobs. My blessed wonderful boobs. My boobs that weren’t designed for breastfeeding, but that were designed for exclusive breastpumping. Yup, I pumped for my four boys. I attached myself to the boob-sucker and mooed like a cow for a total of 26 months for 75+ minutes a day. 75 not so pleasant minutes of feeling guilty that I wasn’t breastfeeding and feeling irritated by the sound of a breast pump…

Errr, er. Errr, er. Errr, er. Errr, er.

The sound drove me batty. I mean really, you would think that Medela would have created some flap to cover the pump to soften the noise. But no, they seem to think it necessary for us ladies, who are already suffering from our tender breasts being sucked alive to also suffer through one of the most obnoxious sounds EVER. And furthermore, where is the label on the breast pump that reads:

WARNING if you use this repeatedly, your breasts will actually shrink in size and will lose any and all form of perkiness that they once had, leaving you feeling less feminine, something you didn’t realize you cared about? And where is the label that says:

WARNING even if you hate using this machine, you will miss it when you no longer need it.

I should have looked for that Warning label more. Because then maybe I would have found the resilience to pump longer. Because I do miss the blessed machine just as much as I miss my boobs.

Do I miss the sound? Heck no. Do I miss having one more thing to do every day? Heck no. Do I miss having to try and parent while connected to a tube that was connected to a machine that was connected to a wall? DOUBLE HECK NO.

But do I miss the pump because I discovered that for me, the milk I did make, even if from a pump, symbolized my last physical connection with my son, and to his fleeting babyhood, two of the many truly sacred and powerful pieces of mommyhood?

HECK YES!

Because in my heart of hearts, I know that our 4th is our last. And no matter how much I complained about what a pain in the ass pumping was, or how much I complain about how hard the sleepless babyhood days can be I just can’t imagine not experiencing either again. I just can’t.

And so I held on to pumping as long as I could.

But, I had to stop. I had to stop so that I could be a better mom.

I know that sounds a*s backwards – giving breast milk is supposed to make me a better mom and all. But it wasn’t. It was making me a worse mom. All the time constraints around breast pumping, all the pain from constant clogged ducts, all while having 4 kids who needed me, stressed me out. A LOT. And when I am stressed out I tend to Yell. A LOT.

As a matter of fact, the day I had my “I yell too much Epiphany” I was attached to the boob sucker. I can blame a lot of my yelling B.C. on the pump. Why? Because when attached, not only could I not give my kids my total attention, but I was also agitated by the sound and really impatient and irritable (really it takes this long to make 6 ounces?  We’ve got stuff to do!) These things combined lead to the same thing every time. Yelling.  Repeated 4 times a day. Do the math. That’s a lot of yelling.

And so I stopped pumping for the final time in my life.

IT WAS HARD letting go of the connection to my son and to my child bearing years.  But it was even harder constantly feeling crappy about how much I yelled at the ones I love. It is no coincidence that 10 days after I stopped pumping, I celebrated 10 days of not yelling 10 days of loving moreBecause in removing this stressor from my life, I became more relaxed and more available for my kids. And subsequently, I started yelling less and loving more.

I might have traded in my beautiful size 36D boobs for 36 -AAA, and I might have been forced to accept that I will not be making breast milk again, that I will not be having any more kids again much sooner than I was ready for, but I have gained a more peaceful and loving connection with my boys. And that is way more beautiful and bountiful than a size 36D.

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Ode to Bed Time

35 days down, 335 to go!

Dear Bed Time,
Oh how you can annoy me so.
I know I am supposed to love you and cherish you, but sometimes I do not.
I just want the kids to wash up, brush their teeth, and then curl up in their cots.
Please don’t get me wrong.
The bath time giggles, the stories, the nighttime snuggles I do LOVE.
It’s just that you stand in my way from my hours that are peaceful like a dove.
I ask you, implore of you, please be kind to me.
Help the kids move along from bath to bed without a fight,
So that I can send them to slumber full of hugs and kisses, not anger, for the night.

xoxo,

The Orange Rhino

*

Wowsers! Did NOT think I was going to make it today (also didn’t think I would write a poem?! Huh?!)

Anyway, the day was going relatively fine. Despite 5 hours of sleep (basically my own doing, dumba*s) I was mostly cool, calm, and collected. Three words I would never have used to describe myself before The Orange Rhino Challenge.

Then I started thinking. Which is NEVER a good thing. Thinking about how #4 is growing up too fast. Thinking about how I struggle to enjoy the present. Thinking about how much I worry about what other people think.

The pre-occupied mind moved in.

Then for some reason for which I have no idea, maybe too much coffee, maybe the start of the stomach bug, maybe because of all the thinking, the intense, I can’t move, I want to cry, stomach pain moved in.

Then the physical exhaustion hit. WHAM.

And what time was it? 5:30. The beginning of the end of the day. The beginning of the longest hour for me. The beginning of an hour where I am antsy and eager for it to be over the minute it started.

I have 60 minutes where I get to bathe 4 kiddos and get them to bed. All while they 1) complain I turned the TV off, 2) complain I picked out the wrong pajamas, 3) complain they don’t want to wash their hair, 4) complain that daddy isn’t home, 5) oh screw it. The list goes on and on.

If I had to write a Chemical Equation for what triggers a massive yelling Reaction, tonight would be it.

Mental Preoccupation + Physical Pain + Physical Exhaustion + Complaining Children + Antsy Mommy => 1 Yelling Mama!

So going into what feels like the “never ending hour,” the hour that is supposed to be peaceful and loving but feels more like a head-banging negotiation, I had all the right chemicals mixed together for an explosion.

But the explosion never came.

I continue to be surprised by myself.

I mean the night time routine, forget my kids having a meltdown, this is my meltdown time. I usually yell used to yell at least 1x per child during that hour. And that is was on a good day.

“Stop screwing around, brush your teeth.”
“Go to the bathroom already.”
“No putting your butts in each others’ faces” (really, this is what boys do???)
“Don’t spit on the mirror, spit in the sink!”
“Hurry up, it’s bedtime, not playtime!”

Bedtime is simply a hard hour. Even though I look forward to it on really long days, and I love the one last snuggle when I tell each boys why I love them so, getting to that point is hard. Because everyone is tired and MAMA wants the day to be over. I want to claim my life back for a whopping 2 hours. Hey it may be two hours, but they are MY two hours. The two hours where I can pee on my own without someone asking if it is a pee or poop. The two hours where I don’t have to watch a talking truck on TV, where I can do what I need to do without first getting 4 kids settled only to have to re-settle one 2 minutes into doing what I need to do. The two hours where I can talk/email without interruption, where I can enjoy silence and just breathe. And quite frankly, anything that slows down my getting to my 2 hours, well, has the tendency to annoy me.

I do my best to remain calm during bath and bed time, to not rush my boys so that I can send them to bed relaxed and reassured of mommy’s love. This is supposed to help them sleep better…and I think it does. But WHOA is it hard. Because I just want to be done. I don’t want to read one more book or answer one more question, I just want to relax. And of course my desire to be done makes me antsy. And being antsy makes the kids antsy. And when they are antsy Bath time / Bed time takes longer. So it is all massively counterproductive.

But still, most every night I am antsy.

And nights like tonight, when my stomach and head are throbbing, I am extra antsy. And I yell, or used to yell, A LOT.

But tonight, I had something new in my favor. Awareness. I knew going into the “never ending hour”  that the cards were stacked against me. So I mentally prepared myself and told my kids what was up.

“Mommy doesn’t feel well. I need you to be extra good tonight because I love you and I don’t want to yell.”

Instead of yelling, I just kept saying this one line over and over. And over. And over. To re-assure me, to re-assure my kiddos.

Turns out, it was the best one-liner I’ve ever used. It scored me Day 35.

Wow, communication really has its perks.

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