Around Here: Week 52

This is it, folks.  
Another year of "Around Here" posts complete... 
52 weeks in my life, captured here on the blog. 
I know that someday I will be so grateful for the effort I put into recording our regular, everyday family life on this blog.  


Embracing... a new tradition of opening books on Christmas Eve and spending the evening reading them.  I was thrilled when the kids were as happy as I was with the new tradition.

Making... cinnamon rolls on Christmas Eve, which is a longstanding tradition from my childhood.  We call them cinnamon rolls, but they're really caramel rolls.  The recipe is my grandma's, and I remember making them with my mom when I was a girl.

Celebrating... the most perfect Christmas day ever with my kids & husband.  The children stayed in bed until 6:30am, then we all walked out to the living room to open presents together.  They loved their gifts from Santa (a Nerf gun for Logan; a remote control car for Jack; Magic Tracks for Wyatt; and a dollhouse for Carly) and their gifts from us.  It was the first year where no one was asking, "Are their more presents?" and that made me so happy.  I love that they had grateful hearts, not greedy ones. 

Saying... goodbye to Dashy, our Christmas elf.  I have to say that even I miss him!  The boys love spending the month of December waking up to his shenanigans, and as much work as it is, I have loved watching them enjoy his magic this year.  I think maybe I treasured this year so much because I have a feeling it may be Logan & Jack's last year believing.  So far, they have no doubts, but they are approaching that age. So it felt extra special. 

Continuing... to nurse Carly just once a day at nap time.  I am thinking that once we cross into the new year, it won't be long before we're done.  Just in time for her second birthday. 
What a blessing it has been to be able to nurse her for this long.

Enjoying... lots of laid back days, playing Legos and Nerf guns while everyone is out of school.  The twins have made the most of the bit of snow we got last Friday and have been sledding everyday.  Then Josh surprised me and took the twins out of town with him Wednesday through Friday, and it was so lovely.  Two kids (by comparison) is a cake walk. Ha!  I took a bath, read a book and did plenty of blogging!

Watching... our yard bunny out the window constantly.  I think I get as excited as the kids!

Organizing... our bedrooms and cleaning house in preparation for my parents' visit.  It feels so good to have the house clean & organized.  Sometime next week we will undecorate the house, which sometimes makes me sad, but mostly makes me excited for the new year.  I just love a clean, fresh space.

Still... listening to Scream Free Parenting and watching The Crown when I have a spare moment.

Finishing... Winter Street and starting Winter Stroll. I also bought Sophie's Choice and This Is How It Always Is for the new year.  One of my favorite things to do when a new year is coming is to make a list of all the books I want to read.  It makes me so excited.  This week I have also been counting my "books read" for 2018.  I am currently at 67, and that's probably where I'll end the year.  My goal was 50, which, at the time, felt lofty. So to close out the year at 67 after not reading a drop in October or November, feels amazing!!!

Loving... how the boys will read to Carly (over and over and over again) with no complaints.  At 23 months she is loving books so much and I couldn't be happier!

Contemplating... what goals I have for 2018, as well as how many books I want to read, and what I want my "Word of the Year" to be. In 2014 it was "content"; in 2015 it was "linger"; in 2016 it was "gentle"; and this year was "embrace."
What goals do you have for the new year? Do you set reading goals? And what are you "word of the year" ideas? I'd love to hear what you all think!

-Tyler Knott Gregson




(This post was started about two weeks ago):
I went an entire week without yelling, you guys! (Actually, even more than that. It's been like nine days!) The funny thing is, I wasn't even that focused on it. Like I didn't stop each morning and think, "Don't be a crazy beast, today, okay mama?"
I have been, however, much more aware of my time constraints and what I want to get done. So I've been writing a lot of lists and prioritizing ruthlessly.  And my priorities have been: get the Christmas cards/shopping done; spend time with the kids; keep the house running smoothly.  Anything that fell outside of those three goals was pushed to the wayside and will wait for January.

I have read so much on Not Yelling, that I can't remember what tips came from where, but one of the tips I came across was to spend at least a week watching when & why you yell before you start changing things.  That way you can try to problem solve some of the causes, and can know at what point you are most likely to lose it.  It's also important to know why you want to quit yelling.

So here are the basics: 
Yelling makes me feel shitty about myself. 
I am the one making me yell.  I relinquish control when I yell.

I want to quit yelling because:
a) I want to feel like a good mom
b) I want to model self control for my children.

What makes me yell?
  • Wasting my time or running late
  • Wasting money (the kids being wasteful or careless)
  • The boys fighting (hitting or being unkind)
  • Feeling out of control (particularly when the house is a giant mess)

I have noticed that I yell the most on Sundays. How weird is that? I assume it's because I am preparing for a big week ahead, and we clean house on Sunday. So stress is a big factor.

In terms of time of day, I yell most in the mornings on our way out the door or when they fight (particularly when I'm in the shower).
I have also noticed I do not yell in public. Only at home.  

Many times I'm yelling because I have unreasonable expectations, or because the expectations I have are unclear.  Solving the unclear expectations was easy- I just made sure I told the kids what I expected.  
Adjusting my expectations to be more realistic was much harder.  I honestly feel like my kids should be able to get along for six minutes while I shower and ten more minutes while I do my hair & makeup.  But they have proven time and again that they cannot.  
"Should" is a dangerous word when it comes to parenting, and if you find yourself using it, proceed with caution. I decided to let go of that expectation, and now I only shower twice during the school week, and use dry shampoo the other days.  This minimizes the amount of time they are left to their own devices, and makes for much smoother mornings.  I also introduced a half hour of TV time on the days I do shower.  We used to adhere to a strict "no screens" rule during the school week, but for my sanity, I have added that little bit of TV time so I can shower and get ready in peace.
My point in telling you all of this?
DO WHATEVER IT TAKES!  It's okay to bend (or completely change!) the rules so that what you're doing works for you.  That half hour of TV time makes all the difference on the mornings I shower.  I also make sure that I eat every day before school drop off so I'm not hangry (hungry+angry).  Make sure you take care of you so you can better take care of them.

Something Ralphie (from Simply on Purpose) says is to try looking for the good.  Whatever you look for, you will see.  So I've been trying to really stop and relish (or even praise) the behavior I see that thrills me as a mom.  (A good spelling test, a kindness for their sibling, random hugs...)

The last thing I've been doing is watching the stories I tell myself about the situation (thank you, Eckhart Tolle!), meaning when Logan doesn't want to vacuum, it doesn't mean he is a lazy human who will live on my couch until he's 42.  When Wyatt is whining about putting his laundry away, it doesn't mean he will be an unruly, ungrateful teenager.  In that same vein, I need to stay in this moment.  Don't look forward, don't project, just do the next right thing in my current situation, and that will get me all the way through this crazy adventure we call parenting. 



Carly at 23 Months

On Christmas Eve Carly turned 23 months.  
We are in the last month of her being one.  
It's so very bittersweet. 

At 23 months, she is funny, sweet, and loving.

She makes us all laugh,
and is full of character.

She loves to play with her brothers' toys,
making vroom sounds with the cars,
and taking apart the legos.

She also loves being a mama to her baby dolls,
and toting stuffed animals with her everywhere.

She loves getting dressed and is so good when I do her hair.
When she looks especially cute, all the brothers will say so, and she copies them,
saying, "So cute!"

Her hair is getting longer, which is nice...
but she constantly has new hair growing as well, so it is pretty much always out of control. 

She loves to say, "Nope!" especially if we tease her that it's time for night-night.

At the dinner table she loves to have all our attention,
and she often does.
She'll join our conversation, or just get our attention so she can point out all the things on her tray:
Fork, spoon, cup of water, rice, broccoli, plate...

She is a bossy little tyrant some of the time (I think she's practicing for when she's two). 
She's the most bossy to her big brothers.  

Here she is screaming "Wy-att!!!" 
wanting him to join her on the trampoline. 

She hasn't had very good naps the last month
(I blame teething)
and it's made for some hard, hard afternoons!!!

If things don't go exactly how she wants them, 
or I can't understand exactly what she wants,
she can throw some epic tantrums. 
Mostly they consist of:
melting onto the floor
and loud screaming

 She loves to go get brothers from school,
wants to walk independently while we're there,
and seemingly can't wait to be a big kid!

 She loves snacks.
She is always asking for a bowl or baggie of something.
This day, she brought me a baggie and the chocolate chips and wanted them PLEASE!

 She loves to read,
and will bring us HUGE stacks of books to read.
Then she will sit and listen to all.of.them. 
It's amazing given her age.
She'll also read to herself, which I love.

 While we were gone in Spokane at the hospital,
Josh said she would say, "Mommy? Wyatt. Sick."

When they finally got to FaceTime each other, they were both overjoyed.
Wyatt's smile hadn't been so big since before he had left town,
and Carly was tickled to see her Wyatt Byatt.

 I'll often ask, "Who do you love, Carly?"
And she'll answer:
Logan Bogans,
and Ari."
It's so so cute!

 Before she goes to bed, she likes to make her rounds, saying goodnight to everyone in the house, hugging them and telling them she loves them.
"I love you, Gackie"
"I love you, Gogan"
"I love you Wyatt Byatt"
"I love you, too, dad"

And before I leave the room after tucking her in,
she'll say sadly, "I love you, mom."

 She is still nursing.
We are down to once a day, before afternoon naps.
The plan is to drop that as well within the next few weeks. 
I'm ready to be done in so many ways,
but quitting is still bittersweet.
(I'm finding all of parenting to be quite bittersweet!)

 I love how the boys tolerate her. 
She will get in their business, steal their toys, yell at them, and they just smile and let her be, always including her where they can.

She LOVES bubbas.  
(That's what we call stuffed animals around here!)  

When she finds one, she stops whatever she's doing and hugs it, closing her eyes and sighing. 
It's so precious.
She especially loves her new Panda from Josh.

She LOVES looking out the front window and the back slider at our bunny (or bunnies... we aren't sure if it's one bunny we keep seeing in both yards, or if it's a few bunnies...).  The other day after she looked at the bunny, she ran and got her monkey bubba and held him up to see.  She said, "Look it, monkey! See the bunny?"

She is just the most fun at this age.
She's putting together all kinds of sentences;
("Mama do it." "Bunny go night night." "Play with me.")
she can play pretend with her toys or the boys;
and she loves to be tickled.

I am still tickled at her girl-ness.
I love dressing her in pink and purple,
I love doing her hair and picking her shoes,
and I love how maternal she is to her dolls.

Carly, you are so beloved.
I hope that you forever know it, baby girl.
The last 23 months with you have been pure magic.