Wednesday, March 30, 2016

I took away the 4-year-old's easter egg hunt... Then gave it back.

It's official. I'm a pushover. But seriously, my decision to "give back" our 4-year-old's Easter egg hunt after her EPIC temper-tantrum last week, did not come without a lot of going back and forth. Let me explain.

Last week while the kids and I were at the gym's cafe having a snack, the 4-year-old decided that she was going to take away the baby's toys whenever she wanted to. I tried explaining to Linna that she couldn't just snatch toys away from other people, because she doesn't like it when other kids do it to her. She was in a "mood", and yelled, "BUT I WANT IT!".

Here we go.

I grabbed the toy out of her hands and gave it back to the baby. This completely set her off, and she started "growl" crying (it's the best way I know how to describe it) at the top of her lungs. I told her that she was going to lose a privilege if she didn't stop screaming. The screaming continued, so I quickly reacted by taking away her Easter egg hunt with her cousins that weekend (2 days away). This hunt was something she's been looking forward to for a month. Realizing what her mom had done, Linna quickly begged me to give her back her Easter egg hunt. When I said "no", and explained how her actions resulted in this consequence, she FLIPPED out. The "growl" crying ensued. While people started turning their heads in our direction, I told her to step outside the cafe until she could settle down. She listened, but never settled down. She stood outside the cafe screaming, and even stopped a woman to tell her how horrible I was for taking away her Easter egg hunt.


Anyway, she continued to scream and cry all the way to the car, on the drive to school, and continued as we walked into her classroom. I tried ignoring her as she walked behind me, until she could settle down. The looks we got from other parents were actually quite comforting, but it wasn't until Linna walked into her classroom that she stopped crying. I walked back to the car with Baby Jimmy, and called Papa Saigh to "release" all of my frustrations.

My little Easter bunnies: Linna, age 4. Jimmy, age 4 months.

A happy bunch of Krekelberg cousins at Aunt Pulie's after their Easter egg hut.

I posted this story on Facebook, and received opinions from many of you on what to do. Could I really follow through with my discipline and make the 4-year-old watch her cousins participate in the Easter eggs hunt without her? The thought of this broke my heart. But, if I let her participate, she'd never take my "threats" seriously.

Parenting. Is. Hard.

In the end, we let the 4-year-old participate in the Easter egg hunt. After some serious thought, I realized that I reacted to my 4-year-old's tantrum a little too quickly, and took away something that I wasn't ok with actually taking away. That was my fault. It's also difficult for a 4-year-old to understand a consequence that isn't immediate. While I was so mad at myself for not "sticking to my guns", I realized that doing so might actually be more difficult for ME than her. I don't think I could have sat back and watched my little girl's heart break, as she watched all of her cousins participate in the Easter egg hunt without her.

(Linna hunting for Easter eggs.)

Yep, I'm a softy.

However, I learned a few things from all of this.

A. Parenting is hard. And it doesn't get easier as they get older.
B. I sometimes react too quickly when it comes to disciplining.
C. When it comes to 4-year-olds, consequences need to be immediate.

And parenting is just THAT... A never-ending learning process (emphasis on NEVER ending).

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Linna's new arts & crafts corner.

We are FINALLY almost "done" with the updates and renovation of our main floor in the new house! Since we purchased the house in October, we've torn out and installed new floors, updated the kitchen cabinets, painted all of the light wood, painted all the walls, updated the laundry room... The list goes on and on. Papa Saigh put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into the many DIY projects we decided to complete. Now that our main floor is becoming the main living area that we created, we wanted to give our very artistic 4-year-old her own little area, that flowed with the rest of the main floor. Basically, we didn't want it to look too "kiddie".

We decided to get a very neutral and WASHABLE rug for Linna's new arts & crafts area. I found a very simple oval-shaped rug by Lorena Canals, and decided to go with it, since I can just put it in the washer every now and then. The rug protects our new floors against the 4-year-old's glue, paint, and sticker projects, and looks perfect under the KidKraft Table and Chairs set we ordered as well. KidKraft furniture has lasted a long time after our previous purchases, so we decided to order the Avalon Espresso Table and Chairs set. I love the color of the rug and table set together, and it's the perfect size for our budding little artist. I did need to assemble the table and chairs myself, but I did it in under an hour one night after Linna went to bed. I've also washed the rug once so far, and it almost looks better than new after a quick trip in the washer.

I'm kind of crazy when it comes to organization, and I know that kids will play longer when they can find their belongings in their "place". I bought a few, cheap little plastic drawers from Target to organize all of Linna's beads, stickers, googly eyes, popsicle sticks, etc. into. She loves going through all of her little drawers to pick out the supplies to complete her projects. I also bought three wicker-type baskets from Target for about $10 each, to throw all of her markers, crayons, stamps, etc. into, and Papa Saigh built a little shelf for the baskets in under 30 minutes (I seriously never knew how "handy" my husband is!). I can throw all of her supplies into these baskets, so they're "out of sight and out of mind", but it looks completely organized. We also put up the B. Toys easel that my cousins got Linna for her 4th birthday, and her 3 Sprouts Toy Bin that she's had forever is now filled with the toys she usually plays with. I guess I should order Baby Jimmy a 3 Sprouts Toy Bin too, huh?! They really are great, and incredibly durable.

This is Linna's personal space, and she literally spends hours there every day. She keeps herself completely entertained, and we are so impressed with the projects she's able to create. She's practicing her writing, spelling, fine motor, artistic, and other skills needed for kindergarten, and the best part is that she loves it!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

I didn't want to be a mom anymore.

Sitting down to write this blog post has been extremely difficult for me. Every time I revisit the very dark place I was in two months ago, my anxiety soars. However, if there's one thing I've learned during my journey through motherhood, it's to embrace the REAL moments, no matter how scary they may be. If you're a judgmental person, you should probably stop reading this blog post now, because I'm about to get REAL.

REALLY real. Scary real.

When Baby Jimmy turned two months old, I literally fell apart. I should have seen it coming, but I didn't want to face the reality that I might be suffering from postpartum depression/anxiety a SECOND time. I was diagnosed with postpartum depression after my first pregnancy (when Linna was about two months old), so I thought I knew what to look for after my second pregnancy. The first couple months of Baby Jimmy's life were an incredible struggle for me, and I could never have anticipated how challenging it is to go from having one to two kids. We also had a LOT going on right after Jimmy was born: Buying and renovating a new house, moving and unpacking all of our belongings from Singapore, an unexpected divorce in the family... All while dealing with everything that comes with a newborn (sleepless nights, leaky and aching boobs, a healing vagina, etc.). I spent hours behind closed doors, sobbing my eyes out, and couldn't handle my life as a mom of two. I literally feared my day-to-day life... AND my children. I couldn't be with my friends in public without bursting into tears for no particular reason. The amount of anxiety I felt about waking up each morning to my life as a mom of two, made me physically ill. I wanted to run away from everything, and having these feelings about wanting to leave my children behind, made me feel an overwhelming amount of guilt. My back and jaw ached from all the stress and anxiety I was feeling, but I made myself believe that I was simply going through the "challenges" every mom goes through after having their second child. I figured that I just needed some Vitamin D and exercise, because winter in Minnesota can be very "grey" and depressing. I started taking Vitamin D supplements, and joined a gym that has childcare. While those things helped, they were simply Band-Aids to a much more serious issue.

One morning, I woke up with "flu-like" symptoms. I had to text my mom at 5 a.m., to come over and watch the kids. I literally felt like I was dying. My husband had JUST started a new job, and I couldn't stomach the thought of him losing his job because of my "failure as a mother". I feared the day so much, that it made me physically sick. I laid in my bed and cried to my husband about how fearful and confused I was, telling him that he couldn't leave me alone. I was seriously paralyzed with fear. I felt like my body was in shock, and I couldn't get out of bed for three days. My husband and my mom would come into the bedroom to check on me, and they would both cry right along with me because they didn't know what to do.

I obviously needed to seek medical help, so I called my OBGYN's office. The second I mentioned "postpartum depression" in my shaky voice, they got me in right away. I've always been very open about the fact that I suffered from postpartum depression after my first pregnancy, but having to seek help this time around, made me feel so much shame and defeat. I felt guilty about not being able to "suck it up" and be a mom to my two kids, and shameful for not seeking help sooner. I wanted so badly to believe that these feelings would pass, and that I could just trek through it.

I don't think I stopped crying for three straight days. I sobbed at the doctor's office because I literally couldn't function. I felt like an elephant was sitting on my chest, and I couldn't think logically. I couldn't eat, or sleep without popping a Xanax. I didn't want to go on medication, but the thoughts and feelings I was having were something I couldn't control. I needed help, and today I am so thankful that my family and close friends pushed me to seek medical attention. I don't even want to think about where I, or my kids would be if I hadn't gotten help when I did.

My beautiful babies: Linna and Jameson (Baby Jimmy).

While I've been able to bounce back after my "crash", there are SO many mothers out there who don't. Postpartum depression/anxiety is the darkest and scariest place, and is something beyond a person's control. I now realize that having babies, flips some kind of switch in my brain, and those horrible thoughts and feelings I was having were NOT my fault. The sad reality of postpartum depression/anxiety is that if left untreated, it can result in death. While I don't condone mothers who harm their children, I can honestly say that I understand how it can happen.

I have had those feelings.

When we read about mothers in the news who drive their cars with their kids inside into a lake, or drown their babies in the bathtub, our immediate thought is "HOW could a mother ever do that to her own child?!". While these tragedies are horrific and unimaginable, it's important for people who have never suffered from postpartum depression, to understand how serious the condition is. My heart breaks when I think about all the mothers who have had to suffer in silence, and have no help and support from their partner and/or family. These women must feel like they're in their personal hell. If you're one of these women... YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

I can't help but think what would have happened if I would have been in Singapore when I was going through all of this. Two of the reasons I was able to find my way out of my postpartum fog, are my husband and my mom. While they may not have been in my shoes, or even understood exactly what was going on in my head, they were by my side through it all. My husband's employer was incredibly accommodating, allowing my husband to take a couple days at home with me. And my mom took over the responsibility of our two kids while I got my head on straight. I am beyond thankful for both of these people. They never made me feel ashamed about the way I was feeling, and constantly told me that it was out of my control. I also appreciate a few, specific words that my husband said to me about a week after my "crash".

"I don't know how you do it."

Having to take on the responsibilities that I have as a stay-at-home mom, made my husband realize how stressful and challenging of a job it is. I'm thankful that he sees what stay-at-home moms actually do all day.

Today, I'm on medication to help with my postpartum anxiety. I feel like I'm finally back to my old self, and LOVE being with my kids again. It breaks my heart to think that at one point, I didn't want to be their mom anymore. But, again, those feelings were beyond my control. While some days are tougher than others, I am thankful that I get to spend the time that I do with my kids. Sure, most of my days end by popping open a bottle of wine around 5 o'clock (or sometimes 3 or 4 o'clock - the struggle of motherhood is real).

We're all in this together, ladies.

When you think you just can't do it anymore, please know that you're not alone. Every day is a new beginning, and one day our babies will be all grown up, and we'll give just about anything to go back to the craziness. Until then... there's wine.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Linna's new hobby: "How to" youtube videos.

Our 4-year-old is obsessed with watching videos on YouTube of people opening up Kinder Surprise Eggs, as well as videos of people testing out and playing with toys on YouTube, and creating things like slime. Does anyone else have a kiddo who loves watching these types of videos?! Well now, Linna has decided that she wants to create her OWN "How To" videos on YouTube, and we recorded a couple today. Here's her first one...

And here's her second one...

I'm so proud of her! So creative. Keep on truckin' Miss Linna!

Baby jimmy can talk.

If you listen closely, you can hear 4-month-old Jimmy say "hi", "Mama", and "I love you"...