December 2009

Three Words for 2010

by Tim on December 31, 2009

I came across a great idea about what to do instead of New Year’s Resolutions – choose three words that you can refer back to again and again to focus yourself on goals important to you in the coming year. Not only is this a lot easier to remember, they aren’t phrased as unrealistic expectations that you’ll probably fail at before the weekend is over. (“Go to the gym five times a week!”) I used to overcompensate by choosing goals I couldn’t fail at like “Don’t eat acorn squash at all this year.” Seems like it’s time for a better approach like this one.

I don’t think that there are many rules about how to do this. I would argue that they shouldn’t be words that are already fundamental to your everyday life to the point where I’d call them givens. So for me, I don’t think making ‘father’ or ‘husband’ one of my words would get me farther along the path, as if I’m not attending to those during the year, it’s a given that I’m too far gone for anything else to much matter.

I’d also suggest not making the three words into a phrase like, “Get stuff done.” The best ones I’ve seen are when people bring together three separate words that may not be that related to each other, each word describing a specific goal or facet of a goal. And don’t be an overachiever and develop different three-word sets for different parts of your life. Just three words for your entire life for 2010.

Examples I saw:

“Debt, Family, No” (develop a plan to get out of debt, spend more time with family and less with work, learn how to say no to people)

“Gifts, Awareness, Ownership” (try to see the gifts each person has regardless of anything else, be aware of all the possibilities happening around me, take ownership of my life and not blame things I can’t control)

“Sandman, Grace, Cayenne” (sleep more – the Sandman brings good dreams, show myself and others more grace and kindness, and spice up life some)

I’m still thinking about my three words for 2010. I’m pretty sure about one of them. Either way, I think I can survive a few days into the new year as I reflect on them more.

So, what are your three words for 2010?

Happy New Year! Thanks for all that you have shared with us and blessed us with over this past year! Here’s to a great 2010!

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25 Good Things

by Tim on December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas! We hope your holiday – in whatever way you observe this time of year – has brought peace and joy, plus a little rest and sanity, to your family.

I’ve spent a lot of time over the holiday season trying to take a thoughtful look at my life, particularly at all the good and positive things in it. I wanted to list some of them here, both for my own benefit and also to encourage others to perhaps do the same. And 25 felt like a good number given the season. So here goes. (Complete with illustrations!)

1. This year we became the Flashlight Four. Having Dale Jr. as part of our lives these past almost-eight months has opened up a whole new world of wonder for us. He and the J-Man hardly seem like they could be more different, and because of that we have two unique-in-all-the-world gifts in our lives. What could be better than that!

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All I want for Christmas really is…

by Tim on December 24, 2009

As I write this, there are a couple of hours left on Christmas Eve. I can’t believe the holiday season is drawing to an end. It’s hard to figure out where it all went.

I wrote a while back about my struggle to fill in the sentence, “All I want for Christmas is ______.” I’ve been thinking about it ever since.

I’ve realized how much my thoughts have centered on some shaky belief that if we could just get over one more hurdle or if I could just complete one more thing on my to-do list or if we could just overcome one more challenge then things would be OK. Not surprisingly, as soon as any of those one things happens, it doesn’t feel like enough – it never does – because there’s always something else to worry about to replace it. This isn’t the way to find peace. Hopefully I keep remembering that.

All I’ve been wanting for Christmas this month is the ability to make my peace with where things are – to say that for now what is right here in this moment is enough. That everything I need is right around me. That I don’t need me or the J-Man or Mary or Dale Jr. to be anyone other than who we are.

But really that’s my choice. No one has to – or can – give it to me. It’s a choice I can make every day. Simply having the day off today to hang out with the family, do a few things around the house, and otherwise take it easy and play with the kids has made me realize that all I want for Christmas is already here.

Plenty of days will still be challenging, frustrating, and exhausting. Plenty more will be exciting, joyful, and wondrous. And some of those days will be all of the above. But I hope to keep remembering that every day starts and ends the same way.

I wake up every day the father of the two most wonderful and perfect children anyone could ever hope for and married to my high school sweetheart and soulmate. And I end each day the same way. All I could ever want is right here all around me. And from there, anything is possible.

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Apologies and Thanks

by Tim on December 9, 2009

We wanted to write a public note to say thank you. Thank you to all of you who recently have left such thoughtful comments on our posts or have e-mailed us to share your stories, experiences, and feelings of solidarity in our common parenting journey. We have been touched by the depth of your responses, your encouragement, your amazing insights, and your love for your children.

We’ve been so lax in responding to you, and for that we apologize. We’ve spent many a day waking up, going 100% all day long in hopes of just getting everybody through it, and then crashing at night. We’ve spent a lot of time recently focusing on starting over on many of our approaches to daily life and how we manage everybody’s needs in the house. And the good news is that we finally feel like we’re making progress.

The downside still is that so many other things got dropped in the middle of all this that we’ll be digging out for a while. But, it feels like we’re starting to move forward again, and that helps.

We just wanted you all to know how thankful we are for all your caring, kindness, honesty, commitment, and support.

May your holidays be filled with peace and hope.

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Are You Smarter Than a Four-Year-Old?

by Tim on December 9, 2009

This past weekend, we hit a pretty big low around here. We’d been having all sorts of problems – on top of the myriad other sensory problems – with the J-Man pulling off his sleeper (not unzipping it, but just plain shimmying out of it) and diaper every night within five minutes of going to bed, peeing in his bed, and then just lying there. We’d go in, reclothe him, change his sheets, fuss at him, and put him back to bed.

For a while, this was enough. One cycle of him stripping down and us coming in apparently was enough for him to then settle in for the night – clothed – and sleep. There was the other issue that he’d strip the second he woke up in the morning and do the same thing. If we weren’t in there fast enough, it was time to change sheets again and clean him up as part of everything else we do to get him ready in the morning.

Then about a week ago, things really went downhill. He wouldn’t keep anything on while he was in the bed. We tried fleece sleepers with feet, without feet, two-piece pajamas, etc. and nothing stayed on. We’d check on him a few minutes after changing him and the bed, and there he was naked as the day he was born with his clothes and diaper wadded up in the crib with him. Finally, we ran out of clean sheets. We started laundry, but quickly he fell asleep. So, we let him sleep au naturel.

Next morning, he was wet, of course, but we marched him to the shower, cleaned him up, and went on with the day. Next night, same ordeal, so we just gave up and let him sleep that way again. After the last ‘argument’ with him about it, once we let him be, he fell asleep quickly. Same morning, similar trip to the shower and on with the day.

We weren’t happy with this since obviously he doesn’t have enough control yet to not wet his bed, but short of restraints, we had no idea how to keep his clothes on him. He’s widely known for his Houdini skills and feats of flexibility, trust me. We decided to pick the less bad option and let him sleep that way.

This is where the concept of ‘less bad’ takes a hideous turn.

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Like a candle

by Mary on December 5, 2009

For the past few days, we have been schedule freaks. OK, everyone except Dale Jr. He does what he does, when he wants to do it! For everything else, we have pre-planned, pre-made where available, and pre-decided, all before the kids get out of bed in the morning, or after they go to sleep at night.

The J-man’s teacher (hi Mrs. Jennifer!) and his OT (hi Mrs. Jamie!) came over on Tuesday afternoon, and had some good, solid, concrete suggestions about his current sensory issues. The suggestion that we all thought would be the best was to use a picture schedule at home like they do at school. I mean, we already had what we thought of as “routines” but those routines seemed to leave a lot of downtime, and downtime is NOT what the J-man needs right now.

So, man, have we kept him on track! And it seems to have helped, to a certain extent. We’ve still had the “stop, drop, and flop” happen a few times but there has been less stimming and random screeching. WAY less putting hands over ears. I am, however, tired of Pinky Dinky Doo, since we can only have the TV on during the scheduled TV time now, and that’s all the J-man has wanted to watch. Thankfully, he asked for Rachel today. YAY for Signing Time!

We’ve added an enormous amount of brushing. It seems to calm the J-man immensely, and he really likes it. I think if he could request it, he would. In fact, sometimes when we’re done with the “brushing and squishing” routine, he hands the brush back to get whoever is doing it to start again – and so we do.

We’ve changed our eating style – we used to eat in the living room, on tray tables, watching the evening news. My mother will be pleased to know that we now eat at the table, together. This means I have absolutely no idea what’s going on in the world right now, since, as I mentioned, if the TV is on, it’s Pinky Dinky Doo. I don’t stay up late enough to watch the 11 PM news. Tim is up that late, but it’s because he’s working. With all of the hands-on parenting, he’s not really getting any work done during the evening the way he used to. Yeah, our schedule still has some kinks to work out (like, when to MAKE DINNER for the parents) but I’m hoping we figure something out soon because otherwise, Tim just doesn’t sleep, and that’s bad.

Last night, it all came together because Dale Jr took a nap right about the time I needed to put dinner in the oven. The J-man and Tim were outside, swinging, and I scurried around getting everything ready. Right before dinner was ready, Dale Jr woke up, so while I fed him, Tim got dinner out of the oven, then I finished everything off and we sat at the table. The J-man finished his nuggets and applesauce quickly, then asked for “sticks.” When I gave him the container of sticks, Dale Jr was starting to get fussy sitting in his high chair.

Tim and I have given up talking during dinner because we’re shoving food in so fast, but we weren’t anywhere near done at that point. The J-man calmly picked up his container of sticks, walked around the table, sat down at the chair beside Dale Jr’s high chair… and stayed there, looking at him while eating. Since Dale Jr ADORES his big brother, that was enough to make him happy, at least for long enough for us to finish eating. The J-man saw someone in trouble, thought through how he could make it better, and did so.

That action brightened our day. It was just a little light, a match struck, but it stayed lit long enough to light a candle. I look forward to many more candles burning brightly.

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All I Want for Christmas is…

December 4, 2009

… well, I don’t know. And that’s the issue I’m struggling with. [If you gloss over the rest of this post, which I wouldn’t blame you for doing, please consider this one point as I’m really interested to hear people’s responses. How would you fill in this sentence: ‘All I want for (insert your holiday […]

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