My name is The Orange Rhino and I yell at my kids

Written today, but should have been written sometime in January 2012. If I had had the guts then to completely admit to all that’s included below….

Dear Internet World,

My name is The Orange Rhino and I yell at my kids. A lot. A lot more than I like. A lot more than I ever imagined I would. I don’t yell at them ALL day (or everyday) but it kind of feels like it. And well, I am sure it definitely feels like it to my four boys. Because most of the time (again NOT all the time) when I yell, I don’t just yell, I YELLLLLL. I’m talking a full on screaming at the top of my lungs yell accompanied by one or all of the following: red face, shaking hands, screeching voice, eyes squeezed shut in sheer disbelief.


I yell at them for leaving legos on the floor, for not hanging their jackets up, for putting their shoes right where I walk so that I trip.

I yell at them for pissing everywhere BUT in the toilet, for emptying half the bathtub on the floor, for spitting on the mirror during toothbrushing time.

I yell at them for hitting their brothers, for pretending to shoot each other with guns, for not stopping rough play when someone is crying.

I yell at them for complaining about what I serve for dinner, for throwing their food on the table if they don’t like it, for saying they aren’t hungry and then begging for food. 10 minutes after the meal is over.

I yell at them for playing instead of going to bed, I yell at them for getting out of bed too early, I yell at them for waking each other up in the morning.

I yell at them to hurry up and get out the door, to pee before getting in the car, to stop picking on each other while we wait in the car line at pick up.

I yell at them for begging me to put the TV on, for asking one more time to play with their LeapPad explorers, for pleading for more toys.

I yell at them for interrupting me when I am on the phone, for not stopping talking when I have said I need a break, for talking too loudly.

I yell at them for not saying please and barking orders at me, for calling their brothers mean words, for being fresh with me.

I yell at them for not keeping their hands to themselves in stores, for intentionally taking a toy from their brothers, for pushing each other.

I yell at them for temper tantruming for what feels like hours on end, for slamming doors when angry, for throwing toys on the ground and at me when they don’t get their way.

I yell at them for silly things, for serious things, and “you’re-just-being-annoying” things.

I yell at them when I have had enough of them not listening, when I am tired of being patient and empathetic, when I am overwhelmed with the challenges of parenting.

I yell at them when they are only being mildly annoying but I am cranky, or tired, or not feeling well, or anxious, or sad, or preoccupied, or busy, or just not in a good place.

Am I missing anything? I am sure I yell at them for a lot more. Because it looks like I CHOOSE to yell at them for just about everything and anything.

Oh, yes I did forget something.

I yell at them for yelling at me, for yelling in the house, for yelling at each other. Wait, I wonder where they learned to yell at me? To yell at each other?

Crap. They learned that from me.

Crap, I yell a lot. I lose my patience a lot. I forget they are just kids, just people, a lot. I don’t stop and question my expectations, a lot.  I get lazy and don’t try to find self control, a lot. I tell myself I am going to change, and then do nothing, a lot. I wish I could stop yelling, a lot.

Because yelling makes me feel really, really crappy, A LOT.

My name is The Orange Rhino and I am tired of being a yelling parent.

I am tired of being disappointed in myself for not keeping it together. I am tired of knowing that my yelling is hurting my kids’ feelings and probably doing some emotional damage too. I am tired of yelling and having it achieve nothing but making things worse. I am tired of not setting a good example for my kids. I am tired of getting on my kid’s cases for everything, for not letting them have a little more breathing room. I am tired of not putting the energy into finding a way to end my yelling. I am tired of saying “oh, I only yell on occasions, but when I do it is bad” when really, that is a lie. I am tired of going to bed (almost) every night feeling guilty and ashamed of how I treated my boys.

My name is The Orange Rhino and I am going to go 365 days straight without yelling. I make this big commitment because this nasty habit of mine needs to vanish not for a few days, but for life. I make this big commitment not just because I know I can do better and because I want to do better, but also because my kids deserve better.

(My name is The Orange Rhino and I DID go 365 days without yelling and I believe that you can too!)


The silliest fight…

227 days of not yelling, 138 days of loving more to go!

Dear Self,

You let the silliest things both you and tempt you to yell. Seriously, loosen up a bit, will ya?

The Orange Rhino


Every morning and every night I get agitated over the same thing: toothpaste on the bathroom counter and toothpaste spit all over the bathroom sink. But let me be clear, it isn’t just on the counter it is smeared all over and on good days, it is dripping of the sides of the “used” toothbrush so that the toothbrush leaves a nice mark wherever it sits. Oh, and the spit isn’t just in the sink, some of it has accidentally “sprayed” on the mirror. And the wall. Perhaps on the toilet seat too because wouldn’t it be fun to spit into the toilet? It looks like a sink you know. Yeah, once my kids have brushed their teeth unsupervised the bathroom smells minty fresh and looks freshly “decorated.” I. CAN’T. STAND. IT.

And every morning and every night it makes me want to yell at my older two sons.

And every morning and every night, and especially right now, I think to myself, really?? Really you are going to yell at your kids over toothpaste?

Yes, it is messy and sticky and one more thing to clean up.

Yes, it is frustrating that no matter how many times I remind them to wipe down the counter and rinse the sink when done, they still forget.

Yes, it is maddening that it seems they have no regard for being neat and tidy or respectful of my wishes to use proper “bathroom etiquette.”

Yes, it is annoying to have to make extra trips to CVS just to buy more toothpaste because of the constant waste (because no kid in my house every squeezes just a little toothpaste on the toothbrush.)

But no, the great toothpaste fight really isn’t worth yelling at my kids.

Because they are 6 and 4.5 and are still learning.

But more so, as I finally realized this morning as I wiped down the counter again for the umpteenth time, they are actually doing something RIGHT and I should focus on that behavior and applaud it instead of ridiculing the inconvenient behavior.

Without my having to ask, they are not only remembering to brush their teeth but also actually doing it! ON THEIR OWN! This is miraculous! Worthy of a celebration even! It took me months of reminding them to get to that point. Months! My older boys brushing their teeth on their own is so incredibly helpful; it is one less thing that I have to remember to ask them to do and let’s face it, I need all the help I can get!  And not only is it good for me, but it is good for them. Brushed teeth = less cavities, something my mouthful of cavities (and Novocaine from having a crown put in today) is really wishing I had remembered to do when I was a kid!

So as I grumbled under my breath this morning about the mess, I decided to let go of the great toothpaste fight. I decided to embrace the good behavior and stop harping on the bad. I decided to accept that it will take months for them to remember to clean up after themselves and that is okay. I decided to focus my energy on bigger problems, bigger annoyances.

I decided that it is really no big deal to have to take 5 seconds to wipe down the counter and 5 more seconds to gently remind the boys the etiquette of tooth brushing. Taking 10 seconds is a heck of a lot more convenient than locking up the toothpaste in my bathroom and having to go get it and then monitor their brushing while I have two tired younger brothers pulling at my leg for one more book. Taking 10 seconds to set an example and teach is a heck of a lot better for my kids than telling them “no, you can’t do this on your own because you make a mess.” Taking 10 seconds after they have already brushed their teeth, which is a huge accomplishment, is WAY better than spending hours in the dentist’s office in the next years if they didn’t brush their teeth because mommy was too swamped at bedtime to hound them to do it.

Yeah brushing their teeth on their own and making a mess is WAY better than the alternatives.

Besides, they will get it someday. It might be when they move in with a fiancee 20 or so years from now, and she has the same pet peeve, but they’ll get it. And until then, I’ll just keep on gently reminding them to clean up.

Some “yells” at my kids I will never forget…

226 days without yelling, 139 days of loving more to go!

Dear Nerves,

Whenever you find me, you take over my entire being and make me an absolute b*tch! You are one of my worst triggers for yelling. Could you do me a favor? Could you either stop invading my body or send me a manual on how to handle you? I would be most appreciative. So would my boys. I am much more pleasant when I am not nervous!

Warmest Regards,
The Orange Rhino

There are several “yells at my kids” that I cannot shake from my memory, like this one. I think it is so “memorable” because it is exactly what I didn’t want to achieve that day. 

I was 36 weeks and 6 days pregnant with number four. It was potentially my last night as a mom of three kids and I wanted it to be special and perfect because I knew once #4 came, I would be even more exhausted, more cranky, more busy than I had been the last 8.5 months. I wanted to have one last hurrah with my three boys. I wanted to take them out for a fun dinner where they got all my undivided attention. I wanted to laugh and joke with them. I wanted to have fun with them. I wanted to snuggle them into bed feeling secure that when #4 comes, they will still be as important as ever even if they didn’t feel like it because lots of my energy was going into caring for their new baby brother. Oh how I wanted to shower them with hugs, and kisses, and lots of love that night.

But I didn’t. Instead I showered them with impatience, intolerance and lots of yelling.

All because I was anxious.

and scared.
and tired.
and frustrated.
and disappointed.
and grumpy.
and short tempered.

I was all sorts of not positive emotions.
In fact, I was EVERY EMOTION but what I wanted to be that night.

All because the next morning I was headed to the hospital to try and flip #4 out of breech position. I had three natural deliveries and was terrified of a C-section if he didn’t flip, terrified of recovering from a C-section with three older boys at home, terrified of the potential of an emergency delivery at 37 weeks as a result of the procedure, terrified of feeling disappointed if my last delivery was a C-section and not the delivery I wished for, terrified of having a baby NOW when I wasn’t mentally ready, when the house was still under construction and so not ready to welcome a baby.

I wanted SO BADLY for the procedure to go well. I wanted SO BADLY to have special time with my boys just in case I did deliver tomorrow. So much so that I was an absolute mess b*tch!

And it came out in the form of yelling.




Oh, I yelled most of the day. It was AWFUL. Absolutely awful. And then came dinner. We couldn’t go out to Friendly’s as planned which just added more disappointment to my list, further fueling my mood. So we brought it home.

I opened the styrofoam containers which had trapped in the steam from the once hot food.

The boys started eating.

“My food is soggy.”


“I didn’t want macaroni and cheese.”

It was my turn to complain. But I did more than complain. I SCREAMED at the top of my lungs so much so that my hands shook and my face turned bright red.

“GOD DAMMIT KIDS! All I wanted was a nice peaceful and special meal before tomorrow and you’re ruining it! Absolutely ruining it! ”

They stopped complaining and all simultaneously burst into tears, my then 5 year old telling me that I was the meanest, worstest mommy ever.

My heart sank. I was mortified and ashamed and OH SO INCREDIBLY SAD.

They weren’t the ones ruining dinner, I was.

The pressures of my current situation had absolutely gotten to me and I had taken it too far on a day when all I wanted were loving moments, when all my boys NEEDED were loving moments. I felt so disappointed in myself. So disappointed in the lost moments that day. So disappointed that they might wake up tomorrow and be with the babysitter and without me for three days and their most recent memory would be of mommy screaming at them like a lunatic.

Oh the guilt at that moment at me alive.

“Oh boys, I am SO SORRY. Mommy is just so stressed and I lost it. I am so very sorry. I love you so much.”

We eventually cleaned up from dinner and made it up to bedtime. As bad as losing it was, it did whip me into the emotional place I wanted to be pretty quickly. Patience found me, helping me to have the bedtime I wanted: a slow, peaceful, loving half an hour. We chatted longer during bath time, we cuddled longer over story time, we snuggled longer during tuck-ins to bed. I let everything go a little longer that night. I cherished everything a little bit more. And it was wonderful.

I didn’t get the day I wanted, but I did get the bedtime I wanted, that I so desperately needed. I had found the strength to FINALLY get a hold of my behavior; I had found the strength to FINALLY rise above the pressure. And I was proud of myself.

I think #4 was too. En route to the hospital the next morning he did one really big (and painful!) fist pump in the air and flipped into position. Not only did I get to have the natural delivery I wanted, but I also got to go home to my boys and try again for a fun-filled, loving day before #4 arrived. And I got it. Times 13.

Excuses Begone!

222 days without yelling, 143 days of loving more to go!

(This is a follow up to yesterday’s post, click here to read it)

Dear Excuses,

I love you. No really, I do.  Whenever I don’t want to do something hard, something that makes me uncomfortable or do something that I fear I will fail, I search for you and hold on tight. You entice me with your promise of comfort. But the thing is, sometimes I have to let go of you in order to move forward. Please don’t hate me when I do. And more so, PLEASE don’t try to woo me back. It takes a lot of work to move on from you.

The Orange Rhino

219ish days or so ago I had to find the strength to kick 5 really good “why I can’t stop yelling at my kids” excuses to the curb. If I didn’t, I didn’t stand a chance of getting my Orange Rhino Challenge off the ground. So I had a heart to heart with myself and came up with lots of reasons why my excuses weren’t reasonable, why they didn’t stand ground, why they were weak and didn’t deserve to be holding me back from the mom I wanted to be.  I was harsh with myself but I needed to be. It was time. ENOUGH ALREADY of complaining and not doing.

Even though I did successfully put the excuses behind me and started building a bridge towards becoming a non-yelling parent (LOVE for my kids really is a great motivator!), those excuses do still sneak up on me when I am really stressed, when I am extra tired and when the kids are extra difficult. They try so hard to woo me back when I am weak. Kind of like RIGHT NOW, making this the perfect time to remind myself of all the reasons why my excuses needed to take a hike in the first place and all the solutions I discovered so far to keeping them at bay.

My Excuse: I don’t know how else to stop behavior besides yelling
My Rebuttal (written as if I was talking to myself because well, that is what I did!): First, you have never tried REAL hard to stop yelling, you’ve never made it a priority, you’ve never invested time in finding alternatives so how do you know you don’t know how? And besides, you’ve never been a parent before; you are still learning the ins and outs. Parenting is a process and it is a different process with every child. You may not know how to parent without yelling TODAY but with practice and research and support you CAN figure out how. Besides you LOVE your boys. Changing this behavior IS important to you.

My Solution(s):
Keep trying new alternatives until you find what clicks with each child. Keep reading parenting magazines for tips and tricks. Keep being open and honest with friends and The Orange Rhino Community and ask what works for them knowing that it may or may NOT work for your child. Keep BELIEVING that there is a way, keep BELIEVING in yourself that you can do this. Oh, and read these links for alternatives ideas for yelling.

My Excuse: I don’t want to ask for help, I am too embarrassed
My Rebuttal:
Oh dearest Orange Rhino, get over yourself. You are NOT perfect and no matter what any mother says, she is not perfect either. We all have areas of improvement and we ALL could use help on something or other. It is OKAY to admit to a weakness. If you feel judged for admitting you need help then guess what? You don’t need that person in your inner circle.

My Solution(s):
Keep blogging and finding support from The Orange Rhino Community and remembering that you are NOT alone in this challenge. Keep telling yourself that no one is perfect and it is OKAY not to be.

My Excuse:  I know the problem will just fix itself, I will just become patient
My Rebuttal: You will not magically get it together, you will not magically become patient. You are NOT Tinkerbell with magic powers. Being a parent does take work, learning to be patient takes work. Learning to be patient IS possible. It is a process and it will take time but it IS possible.

My Solution(s):
  When seeking patience, look for perspective (it’s just spilled milk), remind yourself they are just kids and are still learning, take deep breaths, say out loud “I want to be patient,” or find humor. And above all else, take care of YOU so that you can be in a good place full of mental strength and physical strength so that you can’t get (that) worn down by all the trials that come with parenting. Keep exercising. Keep trying to get more sleep.

My Excuse: I don’t need to change, my yelling isn’t that bad
My Rebuttal:  Let’s put aside formal research and therapists opinions on how yelling impacts children for a moment because we know they will say that yelling is bad. Period.  What is your opinon? What was that you said? You feel bad and have major mama guilt when you yell? You want to change?  Then it was that bad. Besides you know you weren’t yelling on an occasion. You were losing it, liked WICKED losing it, 1-2x a week and yelling once or twice a day. Yes you had yell free days every now and then but more often than not you went to bed feeling guilty about how you lost it. So yeah, your yelling was that bad…because it was bad enough to rent space in your head.

My Solution(s):
  Look at this blog post and this picture and remember that IS WHAT your kids looked like on occasion. Remind yourself that you don’t want to be your uncle. That you want to be a more loving parent. Remind yourself how GOOD you feel on moments when you don’t yell, how PROUD you feel, how much less guilty you feel, how much less crappy you feel about yourself. And when desperate ASK your kids these two questions: How do you feel when mommy yells? Which mommy do you like better, the yelling one or the Orange Rhino one?

My Excuse: I am too tired and don’t have the energy to be patient
My Rebuttal:
You will always be tired. Even when the kids all sleep through the night, you will be up waiting at night for your kids to come home safely.  Being tired kind of comes with the territory of having 4 kids. It is not going away. So you can’t lean on that as an excuse.

My Solution(s):
Go to bed by 10 at least 5 nights a week. Keep exercising, keep trying to eat healthy. ACCEPT that tiredness comes with parenting and DON’T lean on that as a crutch to excuse behavior you don’t like!

My Excuse: I am too stressed and besides when the kids are older, they will be easier
My Rebuttals:
You will always be stressed and not just because that is part of your personality! Every phase of having a child brings new challenges, new stresses. You can’t remove all the stress in your life, you can just try to improve how you respond to it!

My Solution(s): 
Make a list of my stresses and work on improving those I can and accepting those that I can’t.

Here’s the bottom line. I can make excuses like the best of them. That’s the easy part. The hard part is admitting that they are actually EXCUSES and not truths and that they are truly holding me back from something I really want. The even harder part for me? Letting go of the excuses, the security, and trying to move forward despite fears of failure, discomfort and challenge. But doing so brought me back to the easiest part: feeling good about the mom I am becoming.

My Top 5 Excuses for Yelling at my kids…

221 days with yelling, 144 days of loving more to go!


Oh how I love you! You are such a fabulous source of gossip and such a fabulous distraction from the craziness that is my life. And last week you were a fabulous inspiration for a blog post. Added bonus. Thank you!

The Orange Rhino


I read an article last week,,20629293,00.html about celebrity trainers and weight loss. I was curious, what IS the secret to looking so gosh darn good? I mean really, who doesn’t want to know? (Personal chefs and daily personal trainers ASIDE!) I sure as heck do! As I read the article I nodded along, yeah, blah blah blah, nothing new, blah blah blah, as if, blah blah blah, WAIT that is an interesting point. Roughly speaking the point, as I interpreted it was:

My clients are motivated to lose weight. That’s not the problem. The problem is that they can’t lose weight because they have an Excuse. They know what to do, they know what they want to do, yet they can’t bridge the two. Something is stopping them. The KEY to losing weight for those clients is understanding why they can’t build the bridge and helping them to build the bridge.

Building a bridge is necessary…but not only does it take a lot of time and patience, but it is also scary!


And it made me think.

Why did I not stop yelling earlier?

Why couldn’t I build the bridge I needed too to change my behavior?

I knew I wanted to. I knew what to do. And yet I kept on yelling.

I knew it was “as simple as” choosing not to do it. Choosing to work at it. Choosing to make it a priority. And yet for probably three years as my children became more difficult and I added more children to the house and therefore more stress, I kept on yelling.

I NEVER thought I would be a yeller. NEVER. I had witnessed my uncle yell and ridicule his son and it made my stomach curl. I witnessed my cousins cower under his voice, I witnessed them stop respecting him, stop loving him and it made my heart ache. I would never yell like he did I vowed to myself at the age of 13 ish.

As I grew up I witnessed parents yelling at their kids at the park, the grocery store, everywhere. I witnessed the kids crying and not responding.

I would NEVER be that parent I vowed to myself at the age of 20 ish.

I grew up more and witnessed friends have kids and doing an amazing job, handling tough situations with patience and love and I vowed to myself at the age of 30 ish that I WOULD be that parent.

And yet here I was. In my early 30’s.

Not being the parent I wanted, but being the parent I vowed I would never be.

So I sit here, after reading that People magazine article and I wonder…what was my excuse? Why couldn’t I build the bridge from wanting to not yell to actually not yelling? Why did I allow myself to become the parent I NEVER ever ever wanted to be?

Or better stated, what were my EXCUSES? Because it wasn’t one. It was many.

I love my kids and don’t want to yell at them BUT… I can’t stop yelling because I don’t know how else to parent, I don’t know how to get them to listen to me, I don’t know how to get them to stop their behavior without screaming.

I love my kids and don’t want to yell at them BUT… I can’t stop yelling because I am too embarrassed of the type of parent that I have become to tell anyone, I am too embarrassed to ask for help, to find support.

I love my kids and don’t want to yell at them BUT … I can’t stop yelling because in my mind I keep telling myself, it’s okay, I will just magically get it together one of these days, I will just magically find the patience I seek, that I dream of and besides it isn’t THAT bad, I don’t yell THAT much.

I love my kids and don’t want to yell at them BUT … I can’t stop yelling because I am too tired right now and I don’t have the energy or the patience to even try.

I love my kids and don’t want to yell at them BUT … I can’t stop yelling because having young kids is stressful and they get to me and besides, this is just a phase, they will grow up and it will be easier, THEN I won’t yell.

What a bunch of excellent excuses I had…still have. Because there are days when I don’t feel like holding it together, when I just feel like SCREAMING and these excuses sneak back into my mind almost encouraging me to scream, giving me permission to scream. That is the thing about excuses – really “good” ones are really easy to be persuaded by.  Especially the “it’s not so bad” one.

So I sit here and read this list of really “good excuses” and wonder…how did I build the bridge from yelling to not yelling 219 days ago? How did I start building the bridge especially since I have a HUGE fear of bridges, a huge fear of failing, I mean falling? And how do I keep that bridge in tact so that I don’t slip into bad habits?

Read my “solutions” HERE: Excuses Begone! In the meanwhile, do any of these excuses look familiar? What are your excuses?

Waiting to Exhale, part 2

219 days without yelling, 146 days of loving more to go!

Dear E.R.,

I really did not enjoy hanging out in you 10 days or so ago. Not one bit. I am grateful for your hospitality and for your kind doctors and nurses. That said, could have done without visiting you. No offense. At least our encounter reminded me of a few big things. I guess I am grateful for that too.

See you in a LONG while, I hope,
The Orange Rhino


I snuggled with my baby into the hospital bed, careful to not get twisted in all the wires coming off of him, careful not to wake him. I couldn’t stop staring at him sleeping peacefully in my arms. I couldn’t stop thinking how much I loved him. I couldn’t stop thinking how grateful I was he was okay. That he was going to be OKAY. I couldn’t stop thinking that even though I was told he was going to be okay, I still didn’t REALLY believe it.

And then the beeping started.

Beep. Beep. Beeeeeep!

The alarm started sounding in the hospital room. #4’s heart rate had dropped…and mine sky rocketed. He started twitching again, I held him tighter, tried to hold him still. The computer screen flashed red and the nurse came rushing in.

“What’s wrong? What’s the alarm?!” I asked.

She examined him with an anxious calm about her.

“Ah, he pulled off his heart monitor. He must have gotten twisted in it in his sleep.  That was scary, wasn’t it. He’s okay.”

She looked at me and seemed to get that I didn’t believe her.

“He’s okay. He’s alright.” She repeated to me.

He was alright, but I was on alert, again. I still couldn’t rest. I still couldn’t breathe. This was MY baby. I knew I would love my children. I knew I would have a special bond with them. But I never knew the bond would be so incredibly powerful and all encompassing. I never knew that the bond would be so strong that the smallest thing would make me nervous; that the words “he’s okay” wouldn’t always be enough.

Soon after the Dr. arrived and announced that all the blood work was fine and that his fever came on so fast that it caused this response. He added as long as he doesn’t have any more seizure symptoms during this illness he’s fine. Otherwise, if he does, well then we will worry.

THEN we will worry? Doesn’t he know that I will worry until I know we are in the clear? Until I truly know that the seizure was a one off and that he is safe? That we are safe?

The Doctor left the room.

I tried to breathe but I still couldn’t exhale. I was still on alert, on fear that something bad was going to happen to my baby.

The Doctor returned to the room.

He wasn’t supposed to.

He had already said goodbye and good night. This time instead of standing at the bed to talk to me he walked right to the chairs and sat down and got comfortable. Which by the way made me feel completely UNCOMFORTABLE. What now? Why is he sitting? What does he have to tell me?

“Well, you know how I told you the blood work was fine?” Pause.

(Um, was the dramatic pause really necessary doctor? Do you really want me to pass out from a panic attack right here on the spot?)

“There are signs of a UTI. We’ll start antibiotics tonight. If he gets another UTI then you’ll need to see a specialist. It could be signs of a problem.”

And that was it. 5 hours and a few minutes later and theoretically I was allowed to breathe. My son was going to be OKAY, the doctor had sat for no major news,

And yet I couldn’t. I couldn’t breathe. I still couldn’t exhale.

And one week later and a bit and I can’t. Because I am still in shock that I had to race my baby to a hospital. I am still scared. I am still petrified that he will have the symptoms of a seizure again and I will have to see him look that way again.

I watched his fever peak hit 105 twice over the weekend and it scared me that another “seizure” was going to come. I watched him in the days that followed more wobbly than ever on his feet and I worried that something was wrong. I woke him from naps covered in sweat and I worried that the fever was coming back. I listen to him cry out in pain in the middle of the night and then settle right back to sleep and I think is it just teething or is he still having bad dreams like me of having to rush to the hospital?

And I watch him laugh and smile and seem to be normal and I think, “it is OKAY. It is going to be OKAY he is fine. His fever is gone. No seizures. He is fine.”

And I still wait to exhale.

And I don’t think I will ever completely exhale.

Because I am a mom.

And I LOVE my sons so incredibly much that I want nothing but the best for them. I want them to be happy. To be healthy. To feel loved. To feel secure. To feel successful on their terms. I don’t want them ever be in pain, physically or emotionally.

And I can’t control that. I can’t always protect them. And for this reason I think I will never completely exhale. Because I will always have a small piece of me on alert hoping that they are okay, inside and out. Even when they are okay, I will have a small piece of me on alert hoping that they stay okay, that nothing happens to them.

But something will.

My boys will be in pain someday. They will hurt physically and emotionally. And all I can do then is hold their hands and comfort them and let them know that they are loved and that it will BE OKAY.

An Orange Rhino Revelation: This post has nothing to do with not yelling. But yet it does. Seeing my son in pain, and fearing that something was really wrong, brutally reminded me of my deep love for him and all that I wish for him in this world.

I want them to be happy. To be healthy. To feel loved. To feel secure. To feel successful on their terms. I don’t want them ever be in pain, physically or emotionally.

All those things I want for him? Yeah, yelling like a lunatic like I used to completely goes against my wishes for my son. I can’t always be with my sons and keep them safe and healthy and happy. I can’t always protect them from pain. But I CAN not add to it. I CAN not yell at them. That I can do. And that I will keep making a priority. 

Waiting to Exhale

218 days of not yelling, 147 days of loving more to go!

Dear Deep Breath,

I am anxiously waiting for you to find me. I am ready to exhale. I am ready to let go and accept that it will be OKAY. I am ready to move on from being in a state of shock. So please, come find me.

The Orange Rhino


I haven’t taken a breath since two Thursdays ago at 3:00, 3:06 to be precise. That is the moment when I came into the house and it was eerily silent. I called to the babysitter with a nervous voice. I knew better than to think everything was alright. My house should NEVER be this quiet this time of day.

“Julia? Julia? Where are you? What’s wrong?”

“Something isn’t right. I just got #4 from his nap and something is wrong. He is hot and doesn’t look right.”

I ran to the stairs and grabbed him. I knew immediately something was wrong and the tears came as I rushed him to the changing table to take his temperature.

“Get me the phone. Pack the diaper bag!” I yelled as I took his temperature.

It was only 103 but he didn’t look right AT ALL.

“Hello? Hello?” I said to the pediatrician’s nurse. I don’t think she understood me. I was trying so hard to stay calm and talk clearly but I couldn’t. I just COULDN’T.

“My baby,” I cried. “My baby. Something is wrong. Something is wrong. His arms are limp. He’s shaking all over, his lips are tinted blue, he looks grey and his eyes are doing funky things. He looks like he is going to pass out.”

“Okay, do you think he is having a seizure?”

“I don’t know. I just don’t know. Something isn’t right. He gets 103 temps often but never responds like this.”

“Okay, hang up the phone and call 911.”

And I did. And it was hands down one of the scariest moments I have ever experienced. I have NEVER had to call 911 before and it was one of my worst nightmares coming true – the fear of having to rush one of my babies to the hospital. I threw things in a bag and went outside to the curb and waited for the ambulance as instructed by 911.

I held #4 in my arms as tight as ever and just kept saying “Mommy’s here. I love you. Don’t go to sleep. Don’t go to sleep. Stay awake baby. Stay awake.”

Sirens were heard much to all of our delight – mine for obvious reasons and my older sons because, well, how cool to see a police car and an ambulance pull up in front of their house. I jumped into the ambulance and they immediately started giving my baby oxygen.

“Should we wait for the paramedics?” one EMT asked the other.

“No just go. GO GO GO!”

I tried to find my boys to tell them I’d be back, that it will all be fine but I didn’t have a chance. The ambulance took off as fast as it came and we got to the ER just as fast. The EMT opened the door for me to get out with #4 but I couldn’t. I stood up and my legs shook from all the nerves. He held my hand and helped me down and I leaned on him all the way into the ER.

WOW. I was in the ER with my baby and brought by and ambulance because we suspected a seizure. Just minutes before I had been thinking about my son’s first day of Kindergarten and how all I wanted to do that afternoon was seize the moment and enjoy my boy’s company and here I was investigating another kind of seizing.

Somehow I made it into the ER room without passing out – and without #4 passing out. As the oxygen kicked in #4 start to become more alert, his eyes stopped wigging out and his head stopped bobbing backwards. Three of us, two nurses and I, worked together to hold his arm still to insert an IV to get blood and give him fluids and then to attach the heart monitor. It was a struggle. A struggle. He didn’t want to be touched, he just wanted to snuggle. He just wanted to curl up and sleep on me.

In all the ugliness of the afternoon, in all my lingering fears, I found such peace in holding my son at that moment.

I found such peace in his soft hands in mine. His head on my chest. His knees curled up pressing against my stomach. His breath on my neck. His eyes, now able to focus, looking at me as if to say,

“Mommy, make it better. Make take care of me. Mommy I need you.” Oh dear son, and how I NEED you.

The last exam complete, my sweet son still moaning with pain, and the Dr. turned to us and said,

“We think he might have had a febrile seizure. The blood work will let us know. I will be back in a few hours with the results. It’s going to be okay. Take a deep breath and just rest.”

Take a deep breath and just rest. RIGHT. As If I could. I couldn’t exhale for the life of me. I waited and waited to calm down but my heart was still racing, my palms still sweating¸ and tears were still occasionally dripping down my face. But #4 understood the Dr’s orders. He passed right out on me, cuddled in a receiving blanket identical to those from the maternity ward. And I had a wave of emotion pass over me identical to the day he was born and he fell asleep in my arms for the first time…

Pure, unadulterated love. And gratitude.

13 months and a bit later…still full of love and gratitude for having this healthy baby boy in my life.










Wondering what this post has to do with yelling? Read HERE

The secrets of an “I’ve NEVER yelled parent”

214 days without yelling, 152 days of loving more to go!

Dear Katie,

Can you please explain to me in simple terms how it is that you are not a yeller? I know people like you really do exist and I am so curious to know what you secret is? Do you have magical powers that keep your voice from raising? Have you practiced lots and lots? Are your kids perfect? Please DO TELL!

The Orange Rhino


I’m not really a yeller.

I’ve never really been a yeller.

Every once in a while I yell, but not often. Don’t get me wrong, I certainly have a temper, and I do let things get to me, but for some reason I am not a yeller. (Please note, I do also take antidepressants and have anxiety medication to use when necessary, so those two things do give me a bit of an advantage in the keeping cool department.)

As far as I remember, my parents never yelled at us (until junior high at least); and it’s not like we didn’t ask for it. I’m told I was just like my eldest son is now – a limit tester, a patience trier, an independent nobody-tells-me-what-to-do-er, a talker-backer, but a sweet kid. So I know karma has it’s hand in my experience as a parent, and I am getting my dose of fresh child. Did I mention he just turned 3? I also have a 6 month old who wants attention ALL THE TIME. Dividing my self between two kids who want undivided attention all the time, and a family owned in-home business is stressful.

My nerves get frayed.

You know when it feels like every nerve in your body has been rubbed to the point of agitation and you are just itching to get out of your skin? That type of feeling.

I feel it when my 3 year old is asking me for the 30th time “Whats that? What does it do?”, or telling me he can’t eat the third meal I’ve made for him (to order), or he’s screaming at the top of his lungs because my 6 month old won’t stop crying.

I feel it when my 6 month old is screeching, arching his back and kicking because he’s so over tired that he doesn’t want to be held – but he wants to go to sleep – (we just sleep trained to fix this situation).

I feel it when I’ve finally gotten him to go down and am ever-so-gently putting him down in his crib and the cat walks into the nursery and meows – waking him back up. I feel it when I’ve finally gotten him to latch and start breastfeeding, and someone or something in the house makes a loud noise, startling or distracting him enough to pull off and make me have to start the whole process over again.

Needless to say, I do have the stress, and thus the desire to yell.

But I don’t.

Instead I breathe.


I learned how to meditate back in high school, my gym teacher/lacrosse coach taught us. It’s something I’ve taken with me through life and keep coming back to. I’ve had anxiety my whole life and this tool is really helpful. Putting it into practice when I started doing yoga was a challenge, but I do think that practice helps me stay cool as a parent. Yoga teaches you to stay in the moment, to focus on your breath through each movement and pose. To continue focusing on your breath and continuing to breathe even when you are in a really difficult spot and your muscles are shaking, you’re sweating, and you just want to quit.

Afterall, the pose will be over soon.

So when I’m at my wits end, and everyone (both kids) are in my face, I call on what I’ve learned in meditation and yoga;

continue to breathe deeply, focus on that breath (block out the cries/yelling), internalize your attention, and it will be over soon.

I’m not as avid a yogi as I used to be (thanks to the kids), but I do have a few videos I use at home that are great: Sara Ivenhoe’s Yoga on the Edge ( a three part series that has sunrise, noon and sunset workout and Tot Yoga ( one my 3 year old and I do. He likes watching the kids on the TV and he copies the poses. Even if he doesn’t last more than 10 minutes, it provides a nice quiet background and a chance to breathe.

The other thing that helps me, my mother taught me back in high school when I was battling with depression and everything seemed to piss me off. She told me you have to choose your battles.

My husband and I have recently realized that we fighting too many battles with our 3 year old. It would be nice if he picked up all of his toys all the time, ate everything we put in front of him, and did whatever we said, but what kind of adult would he grow up to be? He needs to fight his battles, push for separation from his parents, and develop into his own person. In order for us to allow him to do that, we need to let him rebel, and back down sometimes; and other times, when it REALLY matters, we need to stand our ground. We are starting to determine what is a negotiable and what is a non-negotiable (i.e. you do have to sit with us at mealtime, but we’re not going to force you to eat everything on your plate).

We are calling it “Hakuna Matata”- you know, “No worries”? The Lion King is his favorite movie right now so we hear the song a lot. Translated to our current situation; don’t worry about everything (is he cleaning up, eating healthy all the time, doing what we tell him all the time, etc…) The more we push, the more he pushes back; and the fights aren’t worth it all the time. So we choose our battles. It makes mealtime a HELL of a lot more relaxing, and thus eliminates a situation in which both of us are tempted to yell.

If all else fails, I am watching both kids, everyone is pissy and misbehaving, it’s a full moon and I’m about to crack – we take a walk. I strap both kids into the stroller and I walk. I breathe while I walk – in and out with each stride. Enjoy the fresh air and the warm sun and work the tension out of my muscles.

And I enjoy the peace and quiet, in between every “Mummy, what’s that? What does that do?”

A Mom’s Regret

211 days of not yelling, 154 days of loving more to go!

Dear Orange Rhino,

Um, I am failing to see the connection between not yelling and your post yesterday (read here) about your first three days of Kindergarten? You talk about feeling left behind and not wanting to let go but how the heck does that tie to the Challenge? Just curious.



Every once and a while I have a deep profound thought about how The Orange Rhino Challenge has positively impacted my life in a way I never expected. Tonight’s post about my son’s first day of Kindergarten attempts to express one of those thoughts.

As I watched my son walk away with someone else holding his hand, as I watched him leave me behind at the car to start a new part of his life, a new part where I couldn’t easily be a part of it like I could in pre-school, so many intense and conflicting emotions hit me at once that I truly hurt all over. I didn’t know what to feel, what to think, what to do but, well cry.

I was so overwhelmed with love and pride, oh how I love you sweet boy!

But also so overwhelmed with sadness, oh don’t leave me!

And so overwhelmed with disappointment, oh I didn’t cherish these young years enough!

The love and the sadness faded so quickly as the disappointment rolled in and took over my mind. Disappointment that my summer days filled with freedom to have strawberry daiquiris at our “beach” in the sandbox were over. Disappointment that my time with my son was going to start changing soon, that he was going to want to play with friends more and me less. That he was going to be with teachers more and me less. But the biggest disappointment, the one that hit me like a Mac truck? The disappointment in myself.

The disappointment that I had all summer and the 6 years prior to totally enjoy my son’s presence, to not have to really share him, and yet, I didn’t take advantage of that precious time, at least not to the extent I ever dreamed of or hoped for when I envisioned myself as a mom. Nope, much too much instead of appreciating him and appreciating OUR time together, I so often complained about him, about our time together.

Complaining that he doesn’t sleep well. Complaining that he is a picky eater. Complaining that his tantrums are unbearable. Complaining about this behavior or that behavior.

Complaining and yelling instead of loving.

Yes, in these last 6 years I have loved my son and I have enjoyed his presence but I am going to be honest. I could have enjoyed it more. I try not to regret decisions in my life, but right now there is a huge pang in my heart that I “slightly” regret not taking advantage of these last 6 years more. These early years were free of classes, teachers, homework, team practices and full of desire to be with me. Me. Me. Me. The days were full of opportunity to bond and now the days will be less full of opportunity to be with Me. Me. Me.

So yes, right now I wish that I had done my “to-do list” less, cleaned the house less, said go entertain yourself less, YELLED LESS and instead PLAYED MORE, LAUGHED MORE, SHARED MORE and LOVED my son more.

I know it is hard to enjoy every moment as a mom. Oh how I know!  I have 4 beautiful reminders that take turns showing me how hard motherhood is and inspire me to not want to play with them at numerous moments throughout the day due to their lovely antics. And oh how those antics make it hard to stay in the present and not dwell on the crap that comes with motherhood.

But today, today, oh how I wished I tried harder to complain less and enjoy more. Because then today as I dropped my son off at Kindergarten I wouldn’t be thinking “darnit, there he goes. These precious young, fleeting years are really starting to go behind me and I didn’t enjoy them enough because I was too busy complaining.”

Enter The Orange Rhino Challenge.

I am so grateful for it.

The Orange Rhino Challenge is forcing me to be more positive about my children because getting caught up in the crap well, makes me feel crappy and makes me yell. And when I am positive about them, get this, I feel more love and enjoy my time with them more.

The Orange Rhino Challenge is forcing me to be more present with my children because when I don’t, when I get caught up in my daily crap instead of caught up with them, I get snippy with them for “interrupting” me and get close to yelling. And when I am more present with them, get this, I have more fun with them and enjoy my time with them more.

The Orange Rhino Challenge is forcing me to be more patient and understanding with my children during massive meltdowns because when I am not, well, then I have to employ just about every of my 100 alternatives to yelling! And when I am more patient with them, get this, not only do I appreciate their struggles more but I also cherish the moment, and them, more.

Not yelling is helping ME take advantage of my time with my babies. It is helping me to enjoy their presence more. It is helping me to feel less regrets about the time I spend with them. Looking back, I might feel I have missed a lot of the last 6 years but at least this Challenge has helped me appreciate the last 211 days more. And I’ll take that. It’s a start. And I really hope it continues.

When I started this challenge in February I posted a question to people about how to be more present stating that I want to be more present with my kids, that I want to enjoy time my time with my kids more. People suggested several books. I haven’t read them yet, I haven’t had time.

Turns out I didn’t need them. I figured out one solution on my own. Not yelling.

Left behind.

211 days without yelling, 154 days of loving more to go!

Dear the only orange box in the classroom,

I can’t believe of all the places to be in my son’s Kindergarten classroom you are directly above his name on his cubby. He knows orange is my new favorite color and every time he sees orange he thinks of me. So thank you for being there, in my place, today and everyday the rest of the year.I know you are just a box but to my son, when he is missing me, you will be a great reminder to him that I love him and will be picking him up soon.

Mommy Orange Rhino


I have started kindergarten three times now. And each time has had the same result: tears from being left behind.

My first day was September 1981. I was 3. My older brother was 5. It was his first day really, but it was my first day without my best friend home with me. I distinctly remember leaving him and bursting into tears as I walked back up the driveway with just my mom. By the time she entered the house I was a full on mess. My face was hot and sticky, my dress was covered in slobber and I had already thrown myself in a heap on the ground at least twice. My mom had tried to soothe me but there are only so many words that can make one feel better when their best friend leaves them behind. So she went inside and lovingly told me she was there when I was ready to come in. Alone. Finally, I gave in. I opened the metal screen door with my trembling arms and took one step then another step in. But I was too weak and too upset to open the door wide enough to guarantee that the spring on the door wouldn’t slam shut on me as I stepped inside.

OUCH!!!! More tears commenced as the metal door nailed the back of my foot, ripping off all the skin. Blood oozed out faster than my tears.

I was a mess. Inside and out.

My second first day of Kindergarten was September 1983. I was 5 and a half. This was my OFFICIAL first day of Kindergarten. I don’t remember much except for walking in with my mom and standing at the big door to the classroom and refusing to go in. I hid behind my mother as the big booming and intimidating voice of my teacher told me rather briskly and without any intonation of love “Orange Rhino, it is time to let go of your mother’s hand and be a big girl now.”

OUCH!!! More tears commenced as she took my hand and led me away leaving my mom at the door.

I was a mess. Inside and out.

And then I heard the sweetest voice ever. It was that of a 1st grader named Kathryn. She was sitting at circle time with a big purple pillow that was as cozy looking as she clearly felt.

“Orange Rhino, why don’t you come sit next to me? I’ll share my pillow with you.”

To this DAY I can still tell you exactly what that pillow looked like and exactly how Kathryn looked and sounded. Isn’t it amazing how one kind gesture can stay with you a lifetime?

And my third first day of Kindergarten was, well today. September 6, 2012. I am 34 and a half. My son is almost 6. It is his first official day of Kindergarten, my first official day as a mom of a Kindergartener. He’s been dreading this day since the last day of pre-school. I’ve been dreading it since the day he was born I think. Because I know what first days of Kindergarten contain: tears and being left behind.

And that is what I dreaded today.

Being left behind.

By one of my best companions, my oldest son.

For all the complaining I do about how long the days are, how hard they are, how hard he can be, he is the greatest little companion a mom could ask for. He asks great questions, makes heartfelt proclamations, laughs in a way that eases all pain, and shares so many of my interests. And oh how I didn’t want him to start the journey of “real school” where he spends more time in school than he does with me. Oh how I didn’t want to accept that it was the beginning of letting go. The beginning of him being more confident in himself, the beginning of him loving me still, but needing me a little less. It is a great beginning for him, I know, but still a hard one to grasp.

So no, I didn’t want him to go to Kindergarten today. I wanted to hold on to this summer forever. I wanted to keep him young and home forever. And yet I knew I couldn’t. I knew I had to let go, I had to let him grow without me. And so I drove him to Kindergarten against my will. I put on a brave face so he didn’t sense that I was sad that we were being separated. I put on a smile so he was excited and not nervous. I assured him I would see him soon so he knew that I will ALWAYS LOVE HIM and will ALWAYS be there for him even as he grows and becomes more independent.

We pulled up to the front door and the teacher opened the door. He got out more gracefully than I ever expected, waved good bye, said “I love you mommy” and then BAM. The door slammed shut as harshly as it did thirty-one years ago.

OUCH!!! The tears finally commenced.  OH did they commence. I bawled like I did on my first day of Kindergarten in 1981. And in 1983.

I was a mess inside and out.

I bawled because I was left behind, again.
I bawled because I was so proud of him for finding the courage to do something he was afraid of.
I bawled because he showed confidence that he didn’t have a year ago.
I bawled because it was beyond clear that my first baby was growing up.
I bawled because I had to let go.

I bawled because I love him so.

Wondering what this has to do with Yelling? Lots. Have a read tomorrow night!