I want to scream at my kids (but really, I just want to cry)

295 days of not yelling, 70 days of loving more to go!

Dear Orange Rhinos,

Monday night I took #4, now 16 months old, to the hospital via ambulance as he had another seizure. This one was worse than the one three weeks ago, and that one was worse than the one three months ago. I was hesitant to go but the Pediatrician insisted I call 911. 5 minutes later 4 EMT’s stormed my house. Two minutes later as the ambulance tore towards the hospital we were cut off by the paramedics who jumped in the ambulance, kicked the EMT’s out and started attaching little man to machines and oxygen. Soon after we had arrived at the hospital and I shared all that I had just witnessed (excessive drooling, a twitching left hand, a vacant stare that can only be described as, it looked like my son had no soul behind his eyes for 10 minutes) the two pediatric doctors on call agreed that a trip to the Neurologist was now necessary. As in, the next day, pronto.

I asked the doctors all sorts of questions: would he be safe at home? Should I sleep in his room? What happens if he seizes again? Will he be okay? They answered my questions calmly and thoughtfully and I bundled up my love and walked out of the hospital in a complete and utter daze. I remember getting in my neighbors car to go home. That is the extent of “feeling” I remember from that part of the evening.

The minute we got home I settled sweet #4 into his crib and then settled myself into my porch chair, big glass of wine in one hand, baby monitor in the other, and a heavy down comforter on top of me. It was 37 degrees out but I didn’t care. The cold air and the twinkling of the Christmas lights brought me the calm and peace I so desperately needed at that point.

Because you see, there are three words I don’t like together: Baby, Neurologist and Pronto. The combination successfully freaked me out and while my son’s nervous system had gone under attack earlier, now mine was. My brain was firing off all sorts of thoughts. I was simply scared shi*tless. But not much I could do at that point. So I slowly sipped my wine and breathed in whatever fresh fair I could knowing that tomorrow could very well be a hard, long day.

Last drop gone I then settled myself into my make shift bed – an air mattress outside #4’s door so that I could hear if he started seizing again (he moans and groans in a way that is unsettling beyond words.) I woke up the next morning to the sound of #1 and #2 asking each other “do you think mommy is back from the hospital? She’s not in her bed. Do you think baby is okay?” Reality hit. I needed to get up and face the day. I needed to be as strong as I could muster for all my boys that day. I needed to fight my desire to cry and stay cuddled up in bed. My boys needed me.

My boys were awesome yesterday morning. No fights over getting dressed, who got what cereal bowl, who gets to sit in the back car seat, etc….It was just the peace I needed to start the day, the peace I needed to stay calm for all of them and myself. Well, as to be expected, the peace was somewhat short lived as when it was time to go to school no one wanted to because they all knew mommy couldn’t pick them up because #4 had his big appointment. Tears fell. And fell. And fell. Legs kicked and kicked and kicked. Screams yelled and yelled and yelled. “I want mommy!”

Oh yes, the house was filled with chaos, and noise, fear and sadness. And I just wanted to scream. Scream out my worry, scream out my frustration. I wanted to scream at no one, yet I also wanted to scream at them, for no reason.

But I knew that would do nothing. So I did what I have taught myself to do.

I talked. I listened. I empathized. I treated my boys with respect and told them all they deserved to hear.

“I know you are angry. I know you are scared. I am too. I wish I could take you to school. I wish I didn’t have to take baby to the doctor. I wish I didn’t have to go to the hospital yesterday.”

“But it is not fair. You’re spending all your time with him.”

“You’re right. It doesn’t seem fair. It is all kind of sucky. But I love you. And as soon as I can get home I will. And I will hug you and love you. It will be okay. It will be okay.”

And then I cried with them. I just couldn’t help it. And you know what? I was okay with that. Because through this all (this Challenge) I have learned that of the many things I am learning to do, I am learning to teach my boys how to handle emotions. And that means feeling them. All of them.  Even the ugly ones. It means showing them that yelling at people isn’t okay, but that it is okay to cry, to be angry, to be sad and to SAY SO. Nicely. And it means learning to handle those emotions so they don’t bring you down. It means talking about them.

And that is what I did all day, and that is what I have done for the last 290+ days (albeit with a slight filter to keep my boys anxiety down and a simplified manner, but still.)

When I came home from the neurologist yesterday I was a mess. I pretty much still am but I am not talking about that. Yet. I’ll talk about it when I have something concrete to share. The appointment wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t good either so when I walked in that door I didn’t feel like being a parent. I didn’t feel like being responsible. I just wanted to curl up on my porch and feel the fresh air and pray that it brought me peace again. And cry. And cry. And cry. I wanted to feel scared and sad. I didn’t feel like dealing with all the energy that my boys had at that moment – all the excitement they had to see me after a long day. And yet, I wanted to be there for them at the same time. I wanted to hug them and love them and feel the goodness that was real in front of me at that moment. I was so conflicted with emotions. Wanting to hide but wanting to be present. And that overwhelming confusion actually made me want to scream at them to stop running around and to stop jumping on me.

So I did what I did earlier. I talked and I told them where mommy was at.

“Hi guys. I am excited to see you too. I love you so much. Listen. Here’s the thing. Mommy has had a long day with the baby. I’ve missed you tons but mommy is tired and feeling a little stressed. So I need you to help me. I need you to play loudly in the basement or quietly up here. I get cranky when I am stressed and I don’t want to get cranky with you. I want to love you lots. Can you help me?”

It worked. It works. It makes me feel better and my boys got it. It being openly sharing my feelings instead of keeping them inside until I scream.

I openly share my emotions with you, my boys, my friends and my husband. With everyone including the wall. Some people think it’s too much. But I’ll tell you what? It works. It keeps communication lines open, it helps people know where I am at, and I truly believe it prevents big blow up fights and screaming. And you know what else?

It is teaching my sons empathy and the more proper way of how to deal with emotions than yelling.

So, so be it if it is too much. To me, there has been nothing but upside. It has kept me “calmer” and closer to all my sons during a very trying week. And it turns out that is what I needed more than a glass of wine and a trip to the porch. I didn’t need stress from yelling and feeling crappy about yelling. I didn’t I feel crappy enough as is. I needed to love and be loved by all my boys. And I got it.

So yeah, this week has been tough. And tomorrow and Friday will be equally tough as I sit in the hospital for 48 straight hours watching my baby go through seizure tests galore to rule out all the bad stuff. And yeah, I wanted to go out to my porch tonight and cry instead of packing for the hospital. But I needed to get this out. I needed to set my feelings free. I needed to admit I was having a hard time.

It works wonders you know, sharing  your feelings with adults AND kids alike.

(Now let’s hope our Neurologist can work some wonders too and give me good news.)

Fingers crossed,
The Orange Rhino 

The Orange Rhino Emergency…Basket!

294 days without yelling, 71 days of loving more to go!

Dear Fruit Cake,

Move over. This holiday season, you are no longer the #1 gift. The Orange Rhino Emergency Basket is. Filled with 10 of the Orange Rhino’s favorite things to use when she wants to yell, the Orange Rhino Emergency Basket is the perfect gift for any mother or father. In fact, you can give it to employers, friends, grandmas, Starbucks baristas, crappy drivers on the highway yelling at you to move when traffic is full on stopped. Yes, you can give this basket to anyone this season. Because face it…come the holiday season, everyone yells more than they like. And what everyone wants is to not yell, not Fruit Cake.

Best of luck to you,
The Orange Rhino

*

Feeling like you are going to yell? Need a quick fix to snap you out of it? Grab one of these 10 items and remember your promise to yourself and to your kids, to not yell at them. Grab one of these items to feel better, to find empathy, to make your kids laugh, to relax. Grab one of these items and feel the desire to yell slowly fade away.

And yes. Yes I do have this basket in my house. And yes. Yes I do use these items. What was that? Has this challenge made me a little silly and over the top? Why, yes, yes it has!

  1. Start blowing bubbles (Helps me take deep breaths but more so, reminds me of childhood and that I should just chill out sometimes!)
  2. Put hand in front of mouth and pretend to “toot” a horn or grab this horn and blow  (Great attention getter making it easier to deliver my message without yelling. Focused kids equal kids that can listen better.)
  3. Put funny glasses on and “look” through their eyes  (Makes kids laugh diverting them from bad behavior and helps  me to force myself to see kids in an orange way, a more loving, understanding way. )
  4. Spray silly string (Fun diversions help everyone relax and refocus.)
  5. Pop some orange M&M’s into mouth, a.k.a. Orange Rhino Pills! (Chocolate is a great mood changer! I stash these everywhere I need them – purse, car, diaper bag, desk drawer. Need a laugh? Read this blog post Parental Laryngitis about the pills!)

6. Paint toe nails orange (Reminds me every morning to be warm and composed. Added benefit? My boys ask why my toes are not pink like other moms. Ha! Their interest really reminds me of my promise to them!)

7. Buy orange napkins and keep in the kitchen (Meal times are hard – I make them more fun and more peaceful with this good reminder. And on nights I know are going to be beyond difficult I whip out the orange plates!)

8. Put orange post it notes all over the house ESPECIALLY where I am apt to yell (It’s like having a built in alarm system for yelling. When I am feeling really corny or goofy or stressed I even write notes to myself. You can do it! Don’t yell, laugh. Don’t yell, smile. Tell your kids you love them.)

Orange post-it note warning! Dear Orange Rhino – don’t yell at the kids for not getting ready for school on time. Help them if need be! Barking orders gets you nowhere fast!

9. Make Orange Rhino sign, attach popsicle sticks and have Kids hold it up when crankiness starts (They love it and having a team to support you in house is huge!)

10. Serve Orange Foods/Drinks  (oranges, peaches, cheese, Cheez its, carrots)

 

The beauty of this basket? It is not only easy to put together thanks to Party City and their new color coordinated section but it is easy to move around to different rooms depending on where you are. Having a really bad day? Bring it with you everywhere! The basement, the garage, outside, the kitchen, the bathroom (you know because what parent EVER goes to the bathroom alone?!) Having an easy day? Leave it in plain sight in the kitchen.

Want to personalize the basket?

Try adding an orange sweater for someone who loves clothes. My favorite is this one from Old Navy – I have it, super soft and super obnoxiously bright orange! I wear it on days that I know are going to be rough, you know, days that start before 5:30! http://oldnavy.gap.com/browse/product.do?cid=60790&vid=1&pid=262546072

Or how about for someone who loves to cook? This is a MUST. It’s orange and it says Love. What is not to Love? Purchase at www.brownlowgiftcom. I know I fell in love when I found it and by the way, it actually is a phenomenal spatula. Works beautifully and I love that it “belongs” in the kitchen because that is where most of my stress is.

Okay, and who doesn’t love a candle? Yankee Candle’s Spiced Pumpkin is great. Any orange candle is for that matter because the scent is relaxing and the color is a great reminder.

So what are you waiting for? Throw out the fruit cake and make an Orange Rhino Emergency basket for your friend, a neighbor OR better yet YOURSELF.

Why does The Orange Rhino Emergency Basket work? Because most of the items create distractions. They stop “bad” behavior, both MINE and my boys. These items help both my boys and I stop and re-focus so I can deliver my message calmly and they can hear my message easily (or easier). Go ahead, give it a try! Or at least add it to your holiday list!

 

 

My Mother-in-law was right.

291 days of not yelling, 74 days of loving more to go!

Dear Mother-in-Law-dearest,

Not gonna lie. I am thrilled that you hardly, if ever, are on the internet. As such, I can “safely” share this blog post without you saying “I told you so!”

Fondly,
Your daughter-in-law

*
(Disclaimer: As far as mother-in-law’s go, I am pretty gosh darn lucky. I am actually grateful that mine is mine. Even if she annoys me sometimes, read on!)

It’s that time of year. A time to give thanks, a time to count or bountiful blessings, a time to eat up all the beautiful moments that family can bring. But for my ever-optimistic mother-in-law, it isn’t a time of year, it’s a way of living. She still writes hand written thank you cards even for simple thinks like having us for Thanksgiving Dinner, taking the time to call, sharing a story about the boys. She says thank you to anyone and everyone who she shares an exchange with during the day and she finds a way to be grateful and say something positive even when times are really bad, like right now when the love her life is failing way too quickly to Alzheimers.

And as much as admire her positive outlook, I must admit, sometimes it does feel a bit much. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed (jealous?) by her ability to not just find gratitude, but to feel it and share it with everyone. Okay and well sometimes, sometimes I feel just really annoyed by it.

To be clear, it’s not that I am anti-gratitude or an outright unthankful b*tch, I just am not over-the-top-lets-be-grateful-every-second-of-the-day like my mother-in-law. I most definitely say thank you when appropriate, expected, needed or truly heart felt (like whenever you comment and I say thank you for reading!) And while I most definitely think grateful thoughts, like wow, I’m grateful the boys aren’t pummeling each other right now, or wow, I’m grateful my husband helps around the house, I don’t actively share those thoughts. Yes, I do embrace the importance of gratitude but sometimes I just want to say to my mother-in-law, “enough already with the gratitude! Can’t you say something that bothers you?”

I think I actually said that to her once. Or twice. And every time my ever so chipper, perfectly perfect and proper mother-in-law, said to me,

“Now Orange Rhino, you do know that practicing gratitude is one of the many keys to happiness don’t you? That otherwise you focus on the negatives and that just brings you down?”

“Yes.”

“Well good. Have you been writing in your Gratitude Journal? You know, you really should give it a try.”

And by that she means  the one she gave me within weeks of meeting for the first time, the one she gave me each Christmas, each Birthday, each opportunity. Yes, my darling mother-in-law has been pushing Gratitude journals on me since the first moment she could. At first I was touched. How sweet, she likes me enough to give me a gift. And then how sweet, she wants to share with me something personal in her life that works. Then it was, enough already do I seem THAT unhappy? And recently, when she finally stopped giving them to me it was DARNIT, where is the Gratitude Journal when I need one?

Because guess what. MY MOTHER-IN-LAW was right. Practicing gratitude and sharing those thoughts whether via a journal a blog or out loud does make me happier which in turn get this, KEEPS me from yelling. The whole practicing gratitude isn’t just the corny hogwash that I thought it was! When I talk about the positives in my life it keeps me focused on the good things, the happy moments which helps me feel lighter and obviously, happier. And a happy mommy = a less apt to yell mommy.

This became evidently clear during the great power outage of 2012, also known as Hurricane Sandy. Every moment I felt stressed or angry or annoyed I found myself saying “wow, it could be WORSE. I could have lost more than power, I could have lost my home. I am so lucky. I am so grateful our house is unharmed.” And that sense of gratitude helped me stay calm and get through the day. And then when I saw power trucks coming to New Jersey from all over, Massachusetts, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Washington DC, Indiana, Mississippi – my eyes filled with tears from gratitude and that kept me grounded and focusing on hope and that it would get better. And that got me through the day without being crotchety, without yelling.

I had always heard that gratitude was a powerful emotion from sources beyond my mother-in-law. I think I even recently read somewhere that it is scientifically proven to make people happier. I guess I didn’t realize just HOW powerful an emotion and a “non-yelling tool” it was until now. And hey, while I wish I had listened to my mother-in-law earlier, I am grateful that I at least learned the lesson now. Now is way better than never. I don’t expect to practice gratitude on the level of my mother-in-law, I just hope to practice it more. I just hope to share my thankful thoughts out loud more. And right now is as good as any time to practice

I am grateful for all 600 of you who read this blog and follow my challenge on Facebook. Your support keeps me going. Honestly. Thank you. Happy Thanksgiving! And to my non U.S. followers, Happy giving-me-reason-to-say-thanks!

 

 

Don’t ASSume…

287 days without yelling, 78 days of loving more to go!

Consider this blog post a PSA. Not a Public Service Announcement. Not a Politics Service Announcement but a Parents Service Announcement, about what I will not say, you’ll have to read to find out!  I hope you enjoy and learn something from my story, which warning is both gross and funny

*

My darling second son has always been fond of touching everything. And I mean everything. And that includes his bottom. Yes, his bottom, the inside of his bottom to be precise. This has been a problem since the moment he discovered that he could indeed, explore that part of his body. Now, I have heard that this is normal. So every night at bath time when he goes exploring I would gently remind him that it isn’t safe and he could hurt himself.

I always got the same answer. “Okay mommy. Sorry.”

But then there was one night back in October when the answer was different.

“But MOMMY. I simply HAVE TO put my finger up my butt.” (Really?!)

He was rather insistent so I clearly had to understand why it was so necessary.

“Something is stuck up there! I need to get it out.”

“Okay sweetie. Do you need to go the bathroom?”

“No. I need to put my finger up my butt.”

Lovely.

“Well no more sweetie. It’s not safe. Come on, time to brush your teeth.”

That conversation just did NOT settle with me that night. It just didn’t seem normal. So I called the pediatrician the next morning. With four young boys I call A LOT so let’s just say they know me pretty darn well!

“Hi Theresa (the nurse). It’s Mrs. Orange Rhino. Again. So here’s the thing. #2 (ha!) normally puts his finger in his bottom. Sorry, I don’t know how else to say it. Anyway, last night he insisted he had to get something out. Is this really normal?”

I heard my pediatrician chuckle in the back, clearly sharing my feelings of “wow, what will happen in this family next?!” and then clearly state to the nurse:

“No, this is not normal. Have him brought in immediately.”

I panicked. Really? What could it be? A tumor? Hemorrhoids?

We rushed in and my pediatrician took a swab of the area and left the room with a small smile on his face.

He returned with a large smile. Like I said, we know each other. He knows I have a sense of humor and can take the punches!

“So Mrs. Orange Rhino, the good news is that he has RECTAL STREP.”

“Huh! What? How does one…”

I couldn’t finish my sentence as #1 started chanting LOUDLY “Rectal strep. Rectal strep. You have rectal strep!” Can you blame him? It does kind of have a ring to it.

I was flabbergasted. I had never heard of it and had no idea how one would contract such a thing at this age. My pediatrician interjected my thoughts:

“The other good news is that it isn’t Worms. That would be really gross. No, this is only kind of gross, right? Just what you needed, right? More good news: antibiotics will get rid of it. He most likely had strep undetected and passed it below when wiping.”

“Okay. How long did he have it?”

“Well he had a pretty big colony in there. I’d say a few weeks. Maybe a month? You are actually REALLY lucky you caught it. Undetected strep can be dangerous to the body, including kidney problems.”

Well, well, well. I assumed my son was just being gross and difficult and stubborn about his butt exploration but no, he indeed had a problem. Good thing I called and then did further research that night. You know, search the web and pretend I am a doctor, type research. I discovered that it is actually contagious. And a light bulb went off.

#3 started potty trained in August. The last few weeks prior to his brother’s diagnosis he was having bowel accidents daily. I ASSUMED he was just regressing and not trying hard enough. When he said it hurt and he needed help I was frustrated. When he had an accident I got frustrated. When I realized SH*T he probably has rectal strep too because a symptom is hurtful bowel movements, I got frustrated.

I called the pediatrician.

“Hey, it’s me again! So #3 has the following symptoms…and #2 bathes with #3 and #4, should I bring them in?”

“Oh yes. Most definitely.”

And GUESS WHAT? We had a winner folks. #3 AND #4 also had rectal strep. As the doctor chuckled at my predicament (I now had three bottoms to lotion up twice a day and three kids to wrestle meds down, twice a day for 10 days) and wrote more prescriptions he said:

“Yeah, so probably a good idea to bring #1 in tomorrow.” (Ya think?!)

And GUESS WHAT?! Another winner. 4/4. The best part? #1 normally bathes separate but that week. THAT ONE WEEK he bathed with them once. Just once and voila. Rectal strep.

Only thing missing? The 4th bottle. Comical. Absolutely hilarious to me. I have a hard time remembering to give medicine to one child. Let alone 4. Of the same kind. How the heck would I keep it straight?!

 

 

As we were leaving the office, my 4 rectal strep boys and myself, I overheard an intern say to a doctor:

“Wow. You learn something new every day. I had NO IDEA rectal strep even existed.”

 

 

Hmm. That makes two of us sweetheart! But now we both know. And now I know, or rather have been forced to REMEMBER to never assume that my kids are wrong, or what they have to say doesn’t matter simply because they are kids or because they are frustrating me. I must give them the benefit of the doubt. They may just be RIGHT.

This was not the first time I made a bad assumption about my kids or dismissed what they said. It’s easy to dismiss their actions, to assume because they are younger and “just kids” that I am right and they are wrong. Oh so unfair (how would I feel if someone dismissed my feelings? Um. AWFUL.) I used to constantly jump to conclusions that they were up to no good and yell at them only to have them turn around and hand me a beautiful picture, or show me how they were cleaning up. Yup, I’ve yelled unnecessarily before and made an a*s out of myself but more so, hurt my kids feelings. Have you ever made an assumption about your children and yelled at them only to make an a*s out of yourself?

 

 

Marshmallow Mayhem

286 days without yelling, 79 days of loving more to go! 

Dear #2 and #3,

You continue to give my great photo opps. Thank you. But next time could you please stay OFF the high chairs and ask me for help?!

much love,
The Orange Rhino Mommy

*

Oh boys. Oh my dear, dear boys. I love the teamwork. I love the independence. I love the confidence. I don’t however love the unhealthy snack or the dangerous approach. All that said, I do love you for giving me a great idea for a new alternative to yelling, like stopping and taking a picture. See?

Remember this picture?

“You block mom, I’ll get the pickles. In the glass jar…”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well those two were at it again yesterday. Same idea, new location, and a new alternative created and I just realized, clearly the same shirt. But on a different child. AWESOME.

Who wants a snack?

I think this is how the conversation went down before the picture:

“Hey #3, let’s push the wobbly chair over to the cabinets and get really, really close to the stairs so that when mommy turns around from changing a diaper she sees us and gets all in a twit.”

“Okay #2. And I know. Instead of getting a healthy snack lets each shove a mouthful of marshmallows in our mouths so when she asks us what we were thinking we can’t talk.”

“Great idea. Do you think while she grabs her camera, because we know she will, we can quickly shove some marshmallows in her mouth so she can’t yell at us?”

“Yeah. Good thinking.”

“Ready. Set, go!”

And this is how the conversation went when the boys were busted (and after a took a picture)!

“Um boys, what are you doing?”

“dghdshgdsha”

Yep, their plan worked. I couldn’t understand a darn word. Between the smiles and the giggles and the mumbled words I couldn’t even yel. I did manage to not laugh though and to still firmly remind that that their behavior was unsafe. And then when they offered me a marshmallow I accepted. It was a sweet peace offering I couldn’t resist (even though I probably should have.)

As I munched on my marshmallow I had fond memories of a Bridal Shower where we made the bride eat a marshmallow every time she answered a question about her future husband wrong. How many kids does he want? 2? Wrong. 1. Marshmallow in. When did he know he was going to marry you? First date? Wrong. 2nd marshmallow in. By the fourth marshmallow we couldn’t understand a word she spoke and couldn’t stop laughing. Just like now.

Which made me think: what if I carried marshmallows around and stuffed them in my mouth whenever I wanted to yell? That would definitely make the boys laugh and change their behavior (win) but oh so not practical or smart of nutritious (no win).

BUT I could bite my tongue and try to talk instead. That would DEFINITELY have the same effect. I tried it out today when everyone was crying and carrying on at dinner time. They weren’t doing anything deserving of yelling or reprimand I was just tired and cranky.

So I bit my tongue and talked pretending I had marshmallows in my mouth.

It sounded like this, kind of:

<<< Okay, just kidding. I can’t figure out how to upload a video to my friend’s computer. So just Imagine it! Better yet try it tomorrow!>>>

When I spoke, the boys stopped in their tracks and started laughing while asking me “mommy, what’s wrong with your mouth?” “mommy you sound like after you went to the dentist.” “mommy you sound funny.”

I had their attention at last and it was quiet enough to get my message across. So I repeated it this time not biting my tongue.

“Boys. Please stop yelling. I have a headache and I am really tired. Please go play with your legos. Thank you!”

“Oh, okay.”

Wow. Biting my tongue literally worked. I’ve always heard that sometimes you have to bite your tongue. Guess it’s true.

Master one moment at a time

285 days without yelling, 80 days of loving more to go!

Dear Orange Rhinos,

I regret to inform you that my computer read my post last week and in sheer defiance decided to go kaput. So unfortunately for this week looks like I will be posting via phone again. Apologies! Anywho, here is a conversation I had with my hubby this morning. Based on the tone of my posts the content should come as no surprise, but hopefully you like it and find it useful (and funny!) I know I did at the time.

xoxo,
The Orange Rhino

*

OR: I’m cranky.
Hubby (H): Yes I noticed. Is it that time of month? (Ever so loving).
OR: No!
H: Oh. Sorry. Is it because you feel gross like me?
OR: Yes partially. I just wanted to cry this morning when I woke up.
H:I feel ya pain sister (why he calls me sister I have no idea. Weird.)
OR: No seriously. I just can’t seem to get back on track after the Hurricane and it is overwhelming and annoying.
H: Of course you feel that way.
OR: thanks captain obvious. Want to shed some light?
H: You’re off routine and have been for 3 weeks! You’re not exercising, not eating healthy, not motivated to write because you’re stressed and therefore not writing which is a routine you had, you aren’t sleeping well because kids aren’t adjusting back to aforementioned missed routine so yeah you’re proper f’d.
OR: wow babe. Thanks for the awesome pep talk. Yeah, things are tough right now. But how does one get through? How does one pick up and get going when the going gets tough? You know, as you would say, how do I light a fire under my a**?
H: Is this a philosophical question about life? A blog question? A weight loss? I can only handle one female emotional issue at a time…
OR: it’s all of the above. It applies to all you know.
…He starts talking and I cut him off becuase in talking to him I started gaining clarity.
OR: I know, you just go at it. I read somewhere then when working out if you feel weak that is when you push through. That is how you become stronger.
H: Exactly. It’s hard and overwhelming right now but if you push through you will get back on track. And everytime you come to this place you will push through faster because you’ve become stronger.
OR: Okay great philosopher, put it into simple terms please.
H: Focus on what is 3″ in front of you.
OR: My nose??? (Yes I said this. Yes I have a big nose).
H: No you dumb a**. Focus on the basics. Focus on what has to get done now. One choice at a time. One thing at a time until you have both feet underneath you again.
OR: oh okay.
Child #2: I have to go p**p and I can’t wait until we get to Starbucks.
Philosophical conversation ends as we each run, pushing a double stroller the remaining half mile. Focus on what’s in front of you – like the potential of an accident. Back to basics!

*****
Seriously though, this applies to the Challenge and life. Focus on the moment in front of you now. Not the 365 days or the 3 months or the 30 days or even a week. Master one moment at a time and when you feel weak push through…the strength to not yell will come. Tell me, what do you do to get the spark going? Focus on the basics, like cleaning (sat morning FB post), or what?

“When times get rough, you can fall back on us”

282 days without yelling, 83 days of loving more to go!
Favorite Song #4

Dear Peter Gabriel,

I still sing and smile and remember when I was a teenager who dreamed about a boy showing up to her window with a boombox whenever I hear the song “In your eyes” from Say Anything. And now this song made me smile because it reminds me of a strong belief of mine, to not give up. Whatever the challenge, don’t give up…I hadn’t sung this song in ages but my post last night brough it right back. And the words couldn’t be more fitting.

Thank you,
The Orange Rhino

*

Don’t give up by Peter Gabriel

 

In this proud land we grew up strong
We were wanted all along
I was taught to fight, taught to win
I never thought I could fail

Dont give up
cos you have friends (right here Orange Rhinos!)
Dont give up
Youre not beaten yet
Dont give up
I know you can make it good

Dont give up
You still have us
Dont give up
We dont need much of anything
Dont give up
cause somewhere theres a place
Where we belong (it’s right here)

Rest your head
You worry too much
Its going to be alright
When times get rough
You can fall back on us
Dont give up
Please dont give up

cause you have friends
Dont give up
Youre not the only one (you are so not!)
Dont give up
No reason to be ashamed (none what so ever)
Dont give up
You still have us
Dont give up now
Were proud of who you are (I am amazed by anyone trying to be a better mother)
Dont give up
You know its never been easy
Dont give up
cause I believe theres the a place
Theres a place where we belong 

Don’t give up…

281 days without yelling, 84 days of loving more to go!

Dear Self,

Remember a few months ago when you hated your body because those last 12 pounds of baby weight wouldn’t budge and felt it mandatory to stay glued to your thighs, hips, a*s, stomach, face, arms, and  well everywhere? And remember how many times you wanted to give up because all your tracking of food and extra exercising seemed to be producing no results? And remember how one day the scale FINALLY showed progress and that pushed you to keep going until all 12 pounds were gone? I tell you this to prove that you can lose those 8 pounds that you gained these last few weeks eating processed carbs and drinking numerous glasses of vino! You can do it!

xoxo,
Yourself (the one tired of hearing you complain that you can’t do it as you shove another bite of ice cream in your mouth).

*

ARGH! I am stuck, stuck, stuck! I want to lose weight but I can’t seem to move forward. Every morning I say “today is the day! Today is the day that just like that I am going to stop eating crap and starting feeling better about myself.” And then every night comes and as I get in my pajamas and I see my belly shake I say “tomorrow will be the day. Tomorrow will be the day that I exercise and eat well.”

I’ve been having these chats and trying hard to eat well for two weeks now. And I am making NO progress. The scale isn’t budging and I’m pissed.

Is it good that each day I keep trying? Yes. Is it good that each day after one mistake I say screw it I’ll start again tomorrow and give up? NO. Because not only does that just make it harder, but also there are lots more chances that day to succeed and get back on path.

When I recently lost weight I wanted to give up every single day because I didn’t see any progress. One morning the scale yelled at me ever so rudely “YOU SUCK AT LOSING WEIGHT!” and then my pants yelled at me “STOP EATING SO YOU CAN BUTTON ME AGAIN!” and then my husband said to me as he saw tears come to my eyes, “Don’t give up. Don’t give up.”

And I didn’t because I knew I wanted to change, that I had to keep going because I felt so awful about myself that it was permeating everything and everyone I touched. And what would know? The very next day the scale finally showed me some serious love. And that day I worked even harder because I knew I could do it. And I worked harder the next day and the day after and the day after and then weeks later I was at a weight I have dreamed of for 8 years.

All because I didn’t give up.

Because I didn’t stop trying after one mistake. Because I asked for support from my husband. Because I forgave myself after the extra cookies. Because I stopped putting myself down, telling myself I couldn’t do it, that I sucked. Because after a few pounds of success I believed in myself that I could do it.

Oh wait, am I talking about my challenge with weight loss or the challenge of learning not to yell?

When I started this challenge the counter always yelled at me “You suck, you can’t stop yelling!” and my children yelled at me “STOP yelling, you’re so mean!” and then one day when I wanted to quit because it was so HARD and EXHAUSTING I wrote on The Orange Rhino Facebook wall and you all told me “Don’t give up. Don’t give up.”

And I didn’t. The next moment I wanted to yell I didn’t because I knew I could control myself. And the moment after, and the moment after that. Before I knew it, I had gone days without yelling. 281 days later and I still haven’t yelled…

Because I didn’t stop trying after one bad moment of yelling.
Because I asked for support.
Because I forgave myself when I did yell.
Because I stopped telling myself I would never change.
Because after a few moments of success I believed in myself that I could do it.

And I believe that I can lose weight again.
And I BELIEVE that you can learn to lose your yelling voice.

Ask me for help. Don’t write a day off if you yell. I promise that your kids will give lots of opportunities to try again! Forgive yourself when you do yell. Stop yelling yourself you can’t change. Know that you will have moments of success and that those moments will make you encourage and inspire you to keep going.

I wrote this last night when I was angry that I had done well all day and then blew it when I rammed ice cream down like a champ after the kids went to bed.

BUT this morning I got on the scale. Ironically, it FINALLY showed me that my attempts this week weren’t for naught. That moment of progress inspired me to finally eat a healthy lunch again and finally said no to the extra cookie. Sometimes it just takes one good moment to be propelled to keep trying. But if you don’t try, you might never get that one moment. 

Confirmed: my computer is a big ‘ole trigger

280 days without yelling, 85 days of loving more to go!

Dear Dell,

I hate to inform you but having you back in my life after two weeks has proved to me that that you are indeed, a trigger for my desire to yell.  Bummer. I do love you. But I love my kids more so…I think you might need to go or at least go to a new location in my house. Permanently. Sigh. Separation will be hard but we can handle it. I know we can. We have to!

xoxo,
The Orange Rhino

*

Ever since we got power back my kids have been driving me nuts. Which is totally backwards right? One would think that without power – without easy access to TV and heat and food that the kids would have driven me nuts. But that wasn’t the case. Sure we had our moments when they did but as a whole, no, they didn’t bother me as much as I anticipated given all the chaos, uncertainty and um moodiness that I brought to the house. They actually did pretty gosh darn well. I will toot their rhino horns for them!

I keep asking myself why? How? How did I go so long under the circumstances and stay calm (besides the part that I have grown and changed since I started the Challenge and truly have less desire to yell now)? How did my boys go so long and stay so relatively calm? Especially given all their personal triggers?

This morning when I was on the computer AGAIN, and they were “annoying” me, AGAIN, a light bulb went off as to one of the reasons I was able to not yell the last two weeks. (Nice pun, eh?!)

I was completely utterly absorbed in people.com as I thought they were all playing nicely and that I could take a breather after the great cereal debacle of November 14, 2012. Then one kid started poking me asking me innocent questions. Then another started crying. And another started yelling. I turned abruptly from my computer screen and opened my mouth ready to scream “WHAT DO YOU WANT, LEAVE MY ALONE?!”

This is how I looked Monday (if I were blonde and looked like her, anyway) when my computer showed me a black screen. Again. Now if you turned the head away from the screen that is how I have acted for the past few days at least once an hour. sigh.

I was so beyond bothered to have been interrupted (a huge trigger).

I was so beyond bothered that my kids needed me, no WANTED ME. Really? REALLY!!! Writing that makes me cringe. I hadn’t felt that in two weeks and yet this week, since power came back on, I have felt it at least ten times a day. If not more.  And I really think my computer is largely to blame.

I was simply more engaged the last two weeks because I didn’t have a computer to run to for a break when I wanted one, or when I wanted to hide from the chaos by searching aimlessly on yahoo.com, people.com and facebook.com. Yes, I need breaks. Breaks are good. But I see now that I took them much too much when my computer was around. Because it was an easy escape.

Without a computer, there was no easy escape. I had no choice but to listen more attentively, to help resolve problems.  I couldn’t run from the madness by reading about The Bachelorette Jef and Emily. AND without a computer to entertain me, I had more opportunities to stop and play because what else was there to do? Without a computer I was “forced” to connect with my family first. Without a computer my kiddos remained my focus – I didn’t get distracted by the allure of the small portable black box that is actually a big black hole that sucks me in and doesn’t want to let me out.

Free of distraction, I was able to be more engaged and present with my boys which is exactly what I NEEDED to be. I needed to focus on helping them handle the situation anyway that I could. I needed to be focused on them to keep their behavior, and mine, in check with minimal meltdowns because the last thing I needed amidst all the insanity was an epic meltdown. What I didn’t need was to know if Emily was with Ari or not.

I liked myself better the last two weeks. I thoroughly enjoyed feeling less snappy and less bothered AND I thoroughly enjoyed hanging with my boys distraction free. All and all it was much more peaceful, fun, interesting and easy…EVEN under the circumstances!

So starting tonight, the computer is going UPSTAIRS, out of sight. It can no longer be the first thing I see when I walk in the door. Nope, I need to remove the temptation to escape to it when the going gets tough. I’ve tried but before but this time it is even more clear to me that the change is necessary, no not necessary, desired. It is going to be an adjustment. But it has to be done. I can do it. I have to do it.

Note: I am trying to move on from talking about no power as I am sure it is over done at this point! That said, if it isn’t and you do want to know about other lessons learned the last two weeks, let me know and I’ll share them!

 

Monday morning misery

278 days without yelling, 87 days of loving more to go!

Dear Monday,

Why can’t you ever be nice to me? First you fill my house with tears, then you break my computer and then you break my dryer. Yes, I blame you for all those things because I feel like it. Harrumph.

A disgruntled Orange Rhino

*

Picture this. It’s Monday morning. Not just any Monday morning but one after a two week vacation from school and any routine really. Now add three over-tired kids because they don’t get daylight savings and one baby who likes to pick up everything and move it. Oh! And don’t forget the super high-strung mommy who didn’t sleep a wink because of her own nightmares. Okay. Can you see all the tears? Can you hear all the protests against going to school? Can you feel all the tension? If so, you were at my house this morning. It gets better.

Now imagine all four boys in the car. I realized I didn’t have my keys to start the car and look for them. They are no where to be found. I ask the boys as they always take them. Nothing. No response. No remorse. Which meant one thing. Darling baby played hide mommy’s keys, again!So here we are. After tears and meltdowns and air-punching and angry screams and finally getting buckled in to go to school..and we can’t. Are you KIDDING ME I bark rather fiercely.”Everybody out!” I ordered. “Help me find the keys.””Aw mommmmmm” they complained back.

“Look, you guys encourage him to take the keys, you help look.”

We all went inside and dropped to our knees, aka baby height. 5 minutes later, keys found in the play kitchen. Excellent.

And queue the whining about school and the tears to start again. This time louder and with much more vigor and passion. Excellent.

After I wrestled four kids BACK into their car seats I couldn’t help but think to myself, who doesn’t love Mondays?! T.G.I.M. Anyone?! No takers?! How about T.G.F.D.B.O.A.T? Thank god for deep breaths oh and Tuesdays. Tomorrow is a new day. New moments. New opportunities. Bring it on Tuesday, or better yet, Monday realize you are MINE and can’t mess with me.

Oh yeah!!! As a homeschooling Mom, I'm tattooing this on my forehead!!! How about you @Meg Shank???? ;)