Cantaloupe I will be.

34 days down, 331 to go!

Dear Day 34,
I am embarrassed to report that you almost won because of cantaloupe. Cantaloupe people. I almost yelled because of cantaloupe. If that isn’t ridiculous, I don’t know what is. Yelling over pineapple? That I can understand. It’s prickly. So it could hurt me and cause me to yell. But cantaloupe? It is sweet and tender and besides it is orange, my new favorite color. How can cantaloupe anger me? I don’t know, but it did. I must be entering my “testy” stage. So could you do me a favor Day 34? Could you ask Day 35 to be sweet and tender like the cantaloupe?

Thanks,
The Orange Rhino

*

Just writing this makes me laugh. I almost yelled at my kids over a fruit. A FRUIT. It was an interesting series of emotions, this Cantaloupe encounter. Talk about a roller coaster ride.

Here’s the background. Dinner is over. Kids are watching night time show. #1 says he is still hungry and helps himself to cantaloupe. Great healthy choice, no complaints. #2 decides it is a great idea too. And of course #3 agrees. So now my three muskateers are sitting at the counter eating cantaloupe for dessert instead of heading upstairs to bed. Seems so sweet and innocent, right?

Begin the roller coaster ride of emotions:

HAPPY: Wow, this is a beautiful, happy moment. I am going to get the camera so I can remember it when sh*t hits the fan. (By the way, NEVER think to yourself, wow, things are calm and wonderful, they could get worse.  It invites the karma gods to cause unrest.)

DUMBFOUNDED, 15 seconds later: Wow, they dumped out the ENTIRE container of juicy, sticky cantaloupe onto the counter. The just cleaned counter. The counter I don’t want to clean again. Oh wait, awesome, all the cantaloupe juice is dripping onto the chairs and the floors. Sweet! More sticky mess to clean up while the baby cries for bath, bottle, and bed.

A sweet moment. Kind of.

CALM, 5 seconds later: Wow, I can handle this. I have my camera I’ll take a picture and laugh as that is what I have learned to do in these situations.

AGITATED, 5 seconds later: Wow, what a friggin’ mess. This isn’t funny. It’s annoying. Especially since #2 is sick so all of his pile now can’t be shared. He’d better want Cantaloupe this week. Ugh. It’s past bed time, I want the day to be over, WTF.

VERY AGITATED, 5 seconds later: “BOYS, why did you…”

 

#1 chimes in. “ORANGE RHINO mommy. Your voice is going up.”

My response:

STILL AGITATED: “Thank you #1. I know that.”

“No really, mom, you’re close to yelling. I’m just saying. It’s a warning.”

LAUGHING, 5 seconds later: Wow, my 5 ½ year just gave ME a warning. What’s next, a time out?

Hopefully not, because in this case a timeout means resetting my clock. And I’ve worked hard to get here. Really really hard. Not yelling takes a lot of work – it is a lot of ups and downs, up and downs, up and downs. It is great but man is it work. Just look at this one example that lasted, oh say, 60 seconds? It took a lot of energy to ensure that my sweet side overruled my prickly side. And that was just 1 minute. There are 779 more minutes like that one during the rest of the day. Okay, well not every minute from 6:30 am until 7:30 pm is like that but at least half are, or at least it feels like it. If not more.

The Orange Rhino Challenge is an absolute commitment. A bigger commitment than I imagined. But I am not going to give up.

I am certainly not going to give up because of a minor inconvenience like having to wipe a counter and wipe the floor. That’s what, 2 minutes of work? If that? In the grand scheme of things, no big deal. I can handle that. What I wouldn’t be able to handle would be yelling. If I had yelled that would have taken up at least 30 minutes of my life because I would have spent at least that amount of mental time feeling crappy and sulky…especially given the circumstances.

You see, what was a minor inconvenience for me, was a major bonding and growing moment for my boys. They were not only proud to have been resourceful enough to help themselves to dessert, but they were also proud of their healthy choice and as an added bonus were proud to have divided up the fruit evenly for sharing. I mean look at that picture, I think those two piles are perfectly even and the third, not pictured was identical!!

If I had yelled in this silly situation, I would have squashed their enthusiasm, their confidence and hurt their feelings. In other words, I would have been a prickly pineapple. I have never really liked pineapple, so that doesn’t work for me.  I much prefer to be a sweet and tender cantaloupe, I’ve always loved cantaloupe and it is afterall my boy’s favorite fruit. So cantaloupe I will be.

FLABBERGASTED: Wow, did I really just write that? Did I really just end a post comparing myself to fruit? What is this challenge doing to me?

HAPPY: Wow, it is making me relax. Excellent.

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Watchout! She’s gonna Blow!!!

33 days down, 332 to go!

Dear sweet Husband,
Wow, you really taught me a lesson this past weekend. A frightening one. A thank god you taught me one. A thank god I am taking this challenge one. So thank you.

Xoxo,
your most appreciative wife, a.k.a
The Orange Rhino

*

Wow. Wow wow wow. What a moment. Lots of them actually all in the span of 90 minutes. Hilarious and scary (insightful) moments all at the same time.

It was Saturday.  A glorious, sunny Saturday. We slept in until 6:30 (insert sarcasm) and felt great.

We took the boys to go bowling as a reward for sleeping, scratch that, STAYING in their rooms until 6:30 am every morning for 5 days straight. We got to the bowling alley on schedule ie. early enough so we had time to play and then leave in time before the I’m hungry meltdowns started. We started having fun as planned (we’re big planners here at The Orange Rhino household).

Not planned? That #3 was strong enough to pick up the size 14 bowling ball…repeatedly! I was trying to feed the baby, my husband was trying to help #1 and #2 bowl (otherwise their balls got stuck in the middle of the lane) and #3, well he was busy trying to toss the size 14 ball, which if you don’t bowl is HEAVY, across the lane, towards our neighbors, who were, just a wee bit busy. You see, the father next to us was throwing a LOUD temper tantrum at his two tween aged sons.

“That’s it. We’re out of here. Brady, you cost me $20! I wanted to have fun. And you whined the whole time. We’re leaving. Put your shoes on, now!” He then threw the shoes at the two kids and walked away.

I felt so bad for the two boys. Not only were they clearly used to being scolded like this in public, but after witnessing the whole thing go down, after having done The Orange Rhino Challenge for a few weeks, I knew something I didn’t know before. That all the dad needed to do was to ask Brady, why are you so upset? He would have just answered…which he eventually did…that he was frustrated he couldn’t bowl as well as his dad. That he sucked. Sigh.

Now to be clear I AM NOT JUDGING. Why? Because I have said stuff like that before. Just not in public. My temper tantrums B.C. (Before Challenge) were ugly too. We all have our moments.

Thankfully for me, but not for the kids next to me, the dad’s behavior kept me in check because at that moment, when I was trying to feed a baby and keep  #3 in check, I too wanted to throw a temper tantrum. I wanted to scream “I can’t do this by myself. Husband, help me NOW! #3, enough already. Just sit next to me and color. STOP screaming every time I try to take the ball away!!”

Needless to say, when we left the Bowling Alley, I was exhausted.

My husband asked me if I had fun. I looked at him. Was he f*n nuts? I spent the whole time trying to keep #3 from starting WWIII with the neighbor. But yes, I guess it was fun…

On to lunch. #3 was still in a mood. God Bless him. We were all squished into a booth at Burger King (kid’s choice) and #3 wanted space. Needed space. Demanded space. He kept elbowing  #2 and me to move. Oh, and he was taking everyone’s French fries. Let’s just  say he was on no one’s good side. So my husband picked him up and left with him…screaming. It was another peaceful moment on this beautiful peaceful Saturday that we had planned to be a fun day.

Back in the mini-van. #3 is still crying that he didn’t get to eat his KETCHUP and my blood is boiling. I’m exhausted at this point from not yelling. I’m done. I start driving. #1 thinks it is funny to start screaming. #2 joins in and well #3 is still crying.

I HAD IT.

I pulled over to the side of the road as soon as it was safe. I turned to look at the kids. But instead I stopped and looked at my husband. He was covering his ears and leaning away from me.

He was waiting for me to BLOW. To lose it. To scream.

I just looked at him, totally confused, and said,

“What are you doing?”

“Waiting for you to scream.”

“Huh?”

“Oh right, you don’t yell anymore. You’re The Orange Rhino.”

Totally hilarious that he was taking cover from me. Totally embarrassing too. Totally sad that I used to yell that much and that loud that he was prepared. BUT totally awesome that I have stopped (fingers crossed).

So what did I do? I waited. Waited until the screaming stopped. Didn’t say a word. Just waited.

It finally stopped. THANK GOD.

And Thank God my husband took cover, thus pointing out to me that yes indeed, I did yell too much.

I am totally hoping I can keep this up, this not yelling thing. Because I really, REALLY, don’t want to be like that dad in the bowling alley (LIKE HOW I USED TO BE.) It was so not cool. And I really don’t want my boys to have the same sad, shamed look on their faces that the other boys did as that too was so not cool, more than not cool. It was heart wrenching.

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I scream, you scream?

31 days down, 334 to go!

Dear Baskin Robbins,
Today when I woke up I thought of you because today is my attempt at going 31 days without yelling. Every time I see that number I think of you and all the times I told the 31 original flavors to customers and all the memories we shared during my childhood. I’ve been faithful to you for so long, but I have to come clean. I have grown up and moved on to finer tastes. And as it turns out, my sons have adopted the same taste. I’m sorry I couldn’t make them love you like I did.

Fondly,

The Orange Rhino

*

I find it hilarious that I started the day thinking about Baskin Robbins and ice cream and then this happened:

I (used to) scream, you scream, THEY still scream for Ice Cream!

Totally busted. I went upstairs for 1 minute to check on SCREAMING baby (awesome times right now in The Orange Rhino household) and this is what I returned to – #1 and #2 QUICKLY scarfing down MY Haagen Daz. They know that it is mommy’s ice cream for when she is stressed and that theirs is (was) the Baskin Robbins quarts with pink lids. It seems we have all moved on, them from Basking Robbins, me from yelling.

You see normally, upon seeing this I would have yelled because there are so many things wrong with this picture. 1) They are eating ice cream without permission 2) They are eating MY ice cream 3) They are sitting on the counter 4) They aren’t offering to share and 5) While I got the camera, they finished it without giving me a bite! The only good thing, they were doing something together that wasn’t wrestling. So not only could I not yell because of The Orange Rhino Challenge, I couldn’t (didn’t want) to yell because they were getting along for a change. So instead, I got the camera and smiled. It was kind of nice to see that they love ice cream as much as I do…. it makes me know that they truly are my kiddos.

I mean, I love love love ice cream. Who doesn’t love ice cream? I live for ice cream. If I could have had an ice cream wedding cake, I would have. If I had the financial means, I would open up an ice cream store. If I could eat ice cream every night, I would. I literally think it is all I ate during my 4th pregnancy so it isn’t a surprise that boy #4 has a lactose intolerance and I had to give up my nightly ice cream fix for 6 months while nursing just to help his stomach out. That was brutal. BRUTAL. When I stopped nursing all I wanted was ice cream. Or so I thought.

I had my first ice cream fix all planned out. It was going to be a double scoop sundae at Friendly’s – vanilla ice cream, with hot fudge, peanut butter sauce, whipped cream, marshmallows and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. But the most tragic thing happened. After not having had ice cream for 6 months, when I took a bite, it tasted BLAH. Blah blah blah. It didn’t appeal to me at all. I took another bite. Same response. In fact, I didn’t even finish it. My husband was convinced I was sick. I wasn’t. I have just simply lost my appetite for ice cream. I’ll take a few bites a night as a reward for surviving the day, but that’s it. My ability to eat a whole sundae and enjoy it is gone.  The satisfaction from eating ice cream is gone.

And well, it seems I’ve lost my appetite for yelling too. In not having “yelling binges” for 31 days I hardly feel like yelling anymore. I just don’t feel like “yelling” as a means of releasing frustration exists in my body anywhere. It isn’t even trying to poke out and scream hello.

One day I was so angry I went into the garage to yell and nothing came out. I physically couldn’t yell. At first, it was a massive let down. I really needed a release at that moment and I was so proud of myself for walking away from my boys. I was sure yelling into the garage would instantly make me feel better. But to yell and have nothing come out was like, huh? WTF? This is what I used to do to feel better. This is what I used to like to doing. It was my sure thing. What happened? It was disappointing but also so invigorating at the same time because it meant one thing. My ability to yell was gone.

But let me be very clear.

Am I still frustrated? Oh yes. Do my kids still drive me bonkers at times? H*ll yes.  But my first impulse isn’t too yell. The SATISFACTION I got from yelling is gone, and with it, the temptation. I was never really satisfied by yelling before, I always felt crappy afterwards. But at least it felt like a release of sorts and that was satisfying. But now I have found other ways to release that are more satisfying…because I release without making my kids cry.

Now my first inclination is to stomp my feet (my guess, is kind of like how I envision a Rhino would do before charging?). Yes I look like a fool. An absolute, utter, fool. I stop wherever I am, close my eyes, clench my fists and teeth and stomp my feet. I kind of look like a two year old having a tantrum – without the yelling of course. But it works. And at this point, I’m going with whatever works because not only am I not screaming for ice cream anymore, but I’m not screaming at my kiddos either it and feels great.

(P.S. I won’t scream if my appetite for ice cream returns, that would be cool. But I will scream if my appetite for yelling does return…life is just better without it. Harder perhaps, but better.)

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Day 30 Celebration!

30 days down, 335 to go!

Dear Day 30,
WOW! I so never thought you were going to come. I mean really, me, not yelling for 30 days straight? That’s a joke. I still don’t believe it. I am pretty sure my mother-in-law wouldn’t believe it either but she would be thrilled. She never really has approved of how much I used to yell. Used to yell. Wow, that is cool to write. Used to. Not do yell, but used to. Sweet.  And to be clear, it wasn’t that I yelled 24-7 but when I did, it was mean. Oh boy was it mean. And the boys cowered. It was not cool. So tonight, I am pretty ecstatic at the progress I have made. I still have a LONG ROAD ahead. A long, long road. Probably more like a long, bumpy, slippery and wicked steep hill. But that’s okay. The drive is totally worth it. My boys are totally, no more than totally, worth it.

Cheers,
The Orange Rhino

*

THE ORANGE RHINO REVELATION: I am not the only one with good ideas in this house, I am not the only one who knows a thing or two! It turns out that my boys do too. I need to be more open-minded to what they have to say because well sh*t they might actually have a really good point and conceding that point could save me from a lot of unnecessary yelling!

This morning #1 and I were in our  normal battle over what clothes he should wear. He wanted to wear shorts and a t-shirt, I wanted him to wear the pants and t-shirt I put out. 5 minutes later he was downstairs, on the couch in shorts.

Me: WTF? I thought we had this discussion?

Okay, no I didn’t say that but I wanted to!

Me:
#1, we discussed this, it’s too cold for shorts.

#1:
Yes mom, but I want to wear shorts.

Me (totally annoyed because I had been up since 4:45 with the baby…):
Well, I’m sorry, you can not wear shorts.End of discussion.

#1:
You know mom, I can just run up and change after the show is over.

Me:
Oh, okay, I guess you are right.

Well that sure as heck was a lot smoother than yelling at him, demanding him to change at that moment. There was of course still a lot of reminding after the shower was over but at least we reached a compromise and there were no tears involved!

*

THE ORANGE RHINO REVELATION: BirthDAYS might not be the same now that I am a mom, in fact they might be out right depressing (read more at It’s my Birthday and I’ll cry if I want to), but that is why I am inventing BirthNIGHTS. Dinners out with girlfriends to celebrate my Birthday. BirthNIGHTS are never depressing and always fun. My BirthNIGHT with one of my friends was tonight hence the no major post :) And it couldn’t have come at a better night, as I got to have a glass of champagne in honor of my BirthNIGHT and my 30 days without yelling. Woo hoo!

Cheers!

The Orange Rhino
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The Orange Rhino’s Revelation

29 days down, 336 days to go! 

Dear Orange Rhino,

Yesterday you admitted you needed help. Today you need to admit that you can’t blog every night. If you want to succeed at your challenge, you need to be relaxed and rested, not cranky! You need to go to bed earlier, spend more time with yourself NOT thinking about the Challenge, you need to have more time on the couch with your hubby watching Grey’s Anatomy and cursing at Ben for liking Courtney, and you need to take a step back. So today I am forcing you to not post. Or at least not post a full post. Instead share two new ideas you have then go to bed.

Did you hear me? Share and then GO TO BED. Yes I am yelling at you.

Cheers,

Yourself

*

Okay, my two new ideas so that I can get to bed.

I will post “deep thoughts” from the trenches as frequently as I can (hope this is okay?) but when I can’t, I will do one of two things, or both.

1) I will post 1 or 2 or more Orange Rhino Revelations from the day. A teaser if you will. It might be new, it might be old, and it certainly won’t be eloquently written, but hopefully it will inspire you! Please don’t stop following or sharing because of my cutting back. Pretty, pretty please with a cherry on top.

2) As new Orange Rhinos achieve personal milestones, like 10 days!!! maybe 20?!!, I will invite them to write about their experience so that I can share it with you on days I need off. The way I see it, the more we all share our positive experiences, the more we will all be inspired to keep going.

So here we go.

THE ORANGE RHINO’s REVELATION: If I don’t take care of myself, I become cranky. When I become cranky, I yell. Therefore I need to take care of myself. Hence, this post! 

THE ORANGE RHINO’s REVELATION: Don’t Assume my kids are up to no good.
#1 had a pen in his hand. He was standing at my desk, by my calendar. The one I put hours into choosing the perfect pictures. The one with all important appointments written on it in color code for each child. He was silent. He looked pensive. He looked like he was up to no good. I looked right at him and calmly (which totally surprised me!) said “Please don’t tell me you just wrote all over my calendar.” “No mommy, I didn’t. But can you tell me where we are in this picture? I can’t remember exactly but I know we were having lots of fun.” SOO glad I didn’t yell. He was reminiscing. How sweet.

And tonight’s Orange Rhino Inspirational Read

This is from someone I have dubbed Mrs. Sunshine (didn’t know if she wanted to stay anonymous or not!) because to me, she seems to have a wonderfully sunny disposition and approach to life that I just love. She just achieved 10 days without yelling at her twin 4.5 year old boys! Here are some of her thoughts, so eloquently written too!
*
“ahhh facebook, the escape at night from chaos and parenting… so, on my usual browse of what’s going on in facebook land one evening, a friend had shared this Orange Rhino blog.

 

I love reading Mom blogs, the honest cut throat, real deal of parenting.. the non cookie cutter way things really go down.. as soon as I read this blog I was both laughing and thinking.. wait a minute this woman is on to something!

 

NO YELLING? for 365 days, she’s got to be crazy… I can’t even go two hours with out something exploding in this house, let alone 365 days…

 

…I am so guilty of being the YELLER, I mean really, let the list begin:

 

Fighting : “quit kicking your brother!” “quit punching each other” “Don’t jump off the table, Share those cars, ” DON”T SAY MEAN THING TO YOUR BROTHER” ” I SAID GET IN THE BATH” “FOOD IS NOT A TOY” GET OFF THE COUNTER, LEAVE THE DOGS ALONE, KEEP YOUR PANTS ON, FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS RIGHT , i SAID YOU CAN’T HAVE THAT! and my favorite, ” I SAID NO!”… and this is the short version..

 

Every time I would find myself being tested, my voice would go to 11! When I was a child, yelling was talking.. and then Eureka, I am going to take this challenge~

 

Can I do it? Can I really not yell at these two? Will I whisper? Walk away? Laugh? and the answer to all these questions is YES~~

 

The Orange Rhino Challenge is working!!!

 

I have survived Ten full days, and here is what I have noticed, not gonna lie, the boys haven’t transformed into these saints that don’t scream, fight, cry or share all the time… but I see what I have control over, I see that I have better ways of coping with frustration, anger, sleep deprivation, headaches, and any unwanted behavior..I know they wont give up testing me, that is after all their job…

 

My motivation is the same as it ever was… I know that my boys learn behavior and how to handle themselves by watching how I do these things… I know that I want them to grow up with better coping skills and learn that screaming and yelling does nothing but escalate the situation and leaves everyone in tears…

 

Not yelling is perhaps one of the best gifts I can give to them, life already has a bunch of obstacles .. I want to control the ones I can!

 

I’ll let you know how I feel at 20 days, but right now the best feeling I feel is empowerment!

 

*
Thanks “Mrs. Sunshine!”  Here’s to 20 days, and 20 more after that!
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Darn you / Thank you

28 days down, 337 days to go!

Dear Orange Rhino Community,
I mean this with the upmost love and sincerity, but Darn You! Every time I want to quit, that I want to throw in the towel and say I can’t do this, it is too much, it is too hard, I am going to fail, and that I DECIDE to quit, one of you sends the most eerily perfect email or Facebook post that reassures me.  And then I think “sh*t” I can’t quit. And I don’t.  So I guess instead of saying “darn you,” I should be saying…

Thank you!

The Orange Rhino

*

Whenever I read one of your posts, or one of your emails, from a new or old Follower, I get excited that The Orange Rhino Community that I envisioned is actually forming. A community of parents supporting each other in the goal to parent with more warmth and composure and less yelling. A community where honesty isn’t frowned upon, but embraced. A community free of judgment, where I can safely admit that I yell too much. A community where it is okay to be REAL…where it is OKAY to admit I need help.

And oh boy do I need this Community. Why?

Because I SUCK at asking for help. Suck at it.

Just ask any of my local friends who tried to help me when my 4th boy in 5 years arrived. They offered to bring food. To bring kids to camp. To bring groceries. I politely declined. Well except for the first day home from the hospital when I realized I needed Newborn size diapers for the first time ever and I needed even larger size breasts shield for using the breast pump because well the 4th time around, things are just different! The last thing I could handle was a trip to Babies ‘R Us so I asked for helped. But that was it. That was pretty much the extent of my asking for help at a time when obviously, I really needed it. I didn’t ask for help when I felt I just couldn’t make it through another day. I didn’t ask for help when I knew it would make my life easier, and better.

And why the hell not? Was I too proud? Too stubborn? Too sleep deprived to know any better?

No, I was just stupid. Okay, and perhaps a bit too proud. Okay, and probably too stubborn also.

I wanted to prove to people that I could handle 4 kids under 5 (mostly) by myself, that I didn’t need that much help. Why? Because so many people told me that I was crazy to have 4 kids in 5 years. That I was screwed to have 4 boys. That I needed full time help and then some. Which I of course I took to mean: that I couldn’t do it on my own, that I was not capable, but weak, that I made a mistake having so many kids so close together.

Yes, all of these are my personal issues. None of my friends were saying what I felt they were. And no, I don’t think anyone I know who asks for help is incapable or weak, I actually think they are strong and wise. So my logic in not asking for help, even though when others do I think it is a good move, well it was totally flawed!

Yes, I should have just asked for help. Asked for someone to bring me coffee. Asked for someone to come help me organize clothes (we had just moved). Asked for someone to make that second trip to Babies ‘R Us. But you see, I like to give back. I like to give, period. So I feel bad asking and accepting help knowing that I can’t return the favor in the near future. So, I only take help when I know I can return the favor.

Well, again, this is just stupid and stubborn. I know.

Because everyone needs help at times. And it is OKAY to ask for help. I’m going to say that again so maybe I start to believe it, haha. IT IS OKAY TO ASK FOR HELP! There will be a time when the tables are turned. When I will be able to give all that I want to give and there will be a mom, either one I know or perhaps one I’ve met through this Challenge, that will need my help, my support. A mom who won’t be able to return the favor. And guess what – I won’t expect her to and I will be glad to help her.

So I guess I’ve learned my lesson. This go ‘round, as I take on my “5th” child, The Orange Rhino Challenge, I readily admit that I need help. There I said it.

I need help. I need help keeping my promise to my boys to not yell for 365 days. It’s a big promise. A big big one. But it is oh so important to me and my boys. I simply have to keep it! I knew I couldn’t take on this challenge by myself, I knew that I would need the support. I knew that I would need a community to turn to when I just want to SCREAMMMMMMM! Which is exactly why I created the blog and opened myself up. And you all have been there, and helped me. Thank gosh for facebook, thank gosh for you!

So please, keep doing what you are doing. Send me emails, share my posts, post on my FB page that I can do it when I say I want to scream because you are helping me in a big BIG way. Your support and enthusiasm for The Orange Rhino Challenge inspires me to keep going, even when it is beyond TOUGH.

And P.S. My four boys, #1, #2, #3, and #4, they Thank you too because they much prefer the new mommy who “gives lots more hugs and kisses.”

www.TheOrangeRhino.com
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Why the big tears?

27 days down, 338 to go!

Dear Leap Day,
You’re just the Day that keeps on giving! Last week you helped me realize that I need to have more faith in myself that I can take on The Orange Rhino Challenge,  that I can succeed both in not yelling and in sharing. Well in realizing this, you also made me realize something else, something even more powerful. It’s not just about me. Forget just having more faith in myself, I need to have more faith in my kiddos.

Cheers,

The Orange Rhino

*

These last few days have been really quite hard. I’ve struggled. There is simply no doubt. Why? Well, amongst other reasons, my kiddos have been collapsing in tears over everything and nothing and it is draining. Draining, draining, draining! I’ve done my best to give full attention to the tears, but I have to be honest, after a while I find myself drowning in what starts to feel like drama. I find myself thinking, really? Really you are crying again? Over that?  #2 took your toy, again. Okay. That’s not new news. #3 won’t share. Okay. That’s not new news either. That’s nothing, no big deal.

Now, wait, who am I to judge what is everything or nothing? What seems like nothing to me, “he took my sticker off my shirt and now it won’t re-stick” could be everything to #2 (in fact it was, the sticker was from a friend so it did mean everything, it meant he was liked).

So, the way I see it, not only do I have to have more faith in myself, but also I have to have more faith in my kids.  More faith that even though they are “just kids” who tend to cry a lot, chances are that when they are really REALLY upset, that something REAL is going on. More faith that their feelings are REAL and important TO THEM, even if at the time, they seem trivial and annoying to me!

Today would have been a great day to have more faith from the start. Today was oh so full of emotional outbursts!  Full of them. The cup poureth over. Every time I turned around to ask my sweet first born to do something simple, like clear his plate, he started bawling. And when he wasn’t hysterical, #2 was. The crying NEVER STOPPED.

Now, my first instinct when one of my boys is in an emotional, full on tears, tirade, for the third or fourth time that day! is to yell “ENOUGH ALREADY!!!” (It gets just a tad bit exhausting and irritating, you know?) It hardly ever dawns on met at that moment that when there are big tears and big emotions over small things that there is usually something else going on. That it’s not just nothing. That it’s REAL. Sometimes it is just exhaustion. Sometimes it is just that he is having a bad day. But sometimes, well lots of times actually, it is something bigger and it feels like everything to him.

But always, always if I just STOP and ask what is going on, I get an answer. And if I am uber patient and uber persistent, I get the REAL answer.

Somewhere, somehow, I got the strength and brilliance this afternoon to hold #1 and ask him nicely what was going on, instead of chiding him for his behavior over small, silly things (which is what I used to do. Sigh).

“What is going on? Why have you been crying all day? Why the big tears?”

“Mommy, I’m sad that I don’t get more daddy time. I want two daddys. One that works and one that stays home and plays with me all day.”

“Is that all?”

“No, I want more mommy time. I want two mommys. You play with my brothers all the time. You love them more than me.  I want one mommy that plays with just me and one that plays with my brothers.”

Well, that just about broke my heart. Here I had been wanting to yell at him all day, growing more and more agitated by his outbursts and he just wanted more mommy and more daddy time. If that wasn’t eye opening I don’t know what is. Imagine if I had asked him this question at the START of the day instead of 4:00? Imagine if I hadn’t just assumed he was crying because, well, that is what kids tend to do from time to time. Sure would have made for a much smoother day full of more love and understanding and much less agitation.

It amazes me that before The Orange Rhino challenge, I never would have taken the energy to stop and ask what was up, why the big tears. I would have probably just focused my energy on yelling and getting my son to do what I had asked.

I am so grateful that I couldn’t yell today. That I was forced to stop and ask what was going on, to find out if it was truly nothing, or if it was everything. Because what my son told me was super important, REAL important, way more important than any of the silly chores that I wanted him to do.

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Too many “Oopsies” don’t make it right

24 days down, 341 to go!

Dear Day 24,
Thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you! Thank you for being so kind and taking it down a notch because quite frankly days 20, 21, 22, and 23 have sucked. No, that is putting it mildly. They have been miserably depressing and horrifically challenging to the point of me wanting to give up on The Orange Rhino Challenge and blogging all together. I *think* I’ve turned the corner, I hope so!

Cheers,

The Orange Rhino

*

The boys, yes all 4 including my bambino, did a fabulous job of finding their most annoying personality trait and parading it around the house from 6 am until 6 pm every day this week. #1 had two to three full-on emotional outbursts everyday over the smallest thing. #2 didn’t stop talking, even to take a breath. #3 spoke in a scream all week and #4 cried whenever he was put down. Oh, and #3 and #4 barely slept. Of course my sleep deprivation and stress headaches also hung around every day all week. Put my kids’ awesomeness together and BAM this week smacked me in the face. Oh, and I forgot to mention that when I am sleep deprived, I start to get extra moody and hormonal and start walking towards “my dark place.” So that made this week extra special.

Then it happened.

I took all 4 cranky boys to the pediatrician’s office to check to see if a double ear infection was the root of #3’s sleeping problems (per the doctor’s request). It wasn’t. Dammit, I was really looking for an easy solution! Anywho, picture a room about the size of a queen size bed. Maybe smaller. Now picture 1 doctor, 1 resident, 1 stroller (with baby), one mommy, three kids, a doctors table and a wall of cabinets. Now picture the free space. Right. There is none. We are snug as bugs in this room. And yes, I am claustrophobic. And yes, the baby is screaming (his teeth hurt?!), #3 is screaming “no shots, no shots” and #1 and #2 are bickering over who gets what color marker. It was such a lovely family bonding moment. Ha. Hardly.

Before Challenge, B.C., I would have broken into a sweat trying to keep the peace so that (1) I could look like a pulled together, terrific mom who doesn’t snap and (2) so that I could focus on what the doctor had to say. Instead of my normal I’m-at-the-doctor-and-the-room-is-too-small-and-you-kids-are-driving-me-nuts-nasty snap, I just laughed. I took one look around the room and thought to myself “This is f*****g nuts. I have four kids under 5. I bring my own circus wherever I go. God help me.”  And the sweat never came. It was so odd. I totally surprised myself.

But it was JUST what the doctor ordered.

It reminded that I AM changing, that I AM becoming a calmer person, a person who doesn’t YELL at her kids when she is stressed.  And boy did I need that reminder. I needed my groove back. I needed to feel good about myself, about this Challenge. I needed to know that all of my hard work means something.

I needed to feel empowered and invigorated again, because although I made it through the last few days not yelling, they were not so graceful. I had too many “oopsie snaps” and even occasionally flirted with the idea of “The Nasty Snap” much more than I care to admit. And while I didn’t break any Challenge Rules that I set forth for myself, I did realize one thing this past week:

Not yelling is great, but if it is replaced with lots of snapping, even if unintentional, that’s not so great.

“Oopsie snaps” are a reflection of my being not as patient, not as engaged, not as empathetic as I wish. I wish to be all those things because when I am, it means I am being more loving. Period. I started this challenge because I wanted to stop yelling. But why stop yelling? Because I felt awful every time I did. But why? Was it guilt? Was it embarrassment? Was it disappointment in myself? No, it was love. I love my boys immensely. I fell in love with them the minute I knew they were growing inside of me…and I fell even harder the minute I held them in my arms.

But my yelling, it was hurting their feelings, it was scaring them, it was shaming them. It was everything BUT loving them. And quite frankly, lots of snapping, well after a while, it isn’t loving them either.

So as I think about it, really, my commitment to do The Orange Rhino Challenge, to Not Yell for 365 days, it’s not just about changing the volume of my voice or changing my tone. It’s deeper than that. It’s about changing my entire momma attitude. It’s about being more patient, more engaged, more empathetic…more loving. Lucky for me, as I really hope to conquer this challenge, I have a feeling that if I yell less, I will love more. And If I am more patient, engaged, and empathetic…I will yell less. So whatever I chose to work on, I’ll win. I’ll love more. And at the end of the day, that is what is at the HEART of The Orange Rhino Challenge. Loving more.

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A Leap of Faith

23 days down, 342 to go!

Dear Leap Day,
You came and I was so busy being cranky that I missed celebrating you! But as I write today, a day later, I thank you for reminding me of something. This project of mine, the not yelling for 365 days and blogging about it hoping someone wants to read it, it’s a leap of faith. Leap Year comes every four years. This opportunity however, to work on something that I am passionate about and truly believe in, comes once. And I have to seize it. Not just for me, but for my kids. So, sorry I missed you this go around but hopefully next time I do see you I still won’t be yelling!

Cheers,
The Orange Rhino

*

I have to have more faith in myself that I can do this. That I can blog and share my feelings and not worry about what people think because really, that is what my problem is today. That is what is holding me back from writing what is on my find. This Challenge, it is more than about not yelling. It is about discovering if I want to remain a dedicated SAHM or if I want to go back to work part time. It is about learning to share my feelings without spending hours worrying what people think…it is about getting a thicker skin like a Rhino! It is about learning to persevere, even when I want to quit because I think I am going to fail. It is about learning to set time limits for myself – and focusing on what is important to me. It is about being honest with myself about all of these things even if I don’t like the answers.

I have to take the leap of Faith that these questions will resolve themselves. But only if I keep with it. I’ll be honest, I want to quit. For all the reasons above. Do I want to start yelling again? No, I don’t. Do I want to stop writing? No, I don’t it truly is helping me. Everytime I start writing, I learn something new about myself and why I yell. And I go to bed with some weight lifted. Do I want to stop sharing? Yes and No. Yes, because I worry what people think. If they like what I wrote, if they shared it with friends or not. But no, I don’t want to stop sharing, because I feel a community growing. A wonderful community of honesty, kindness, and support and it feels great to be a part of it.

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