Friday, May 29, 2015

The Day I Felt Like a Failure

The day seemed to start out like any other.  It was an ordinary Tuesday.  I woke up to Carter coming into our room with his daddy so Ty could say good bye and I could get up with Carter.  Looking back there were so many things working against us.  Carter had been sick over the weekend running a 101-102 degree temperature and hadn't slept in bed by himself since the Thursday before.  Elise caught whatever he had which made her clingier and fussier.  Add onto that Carter's already higher than usual maintenance due to not feeling up to par and I should have been prepared.  We didn't do much the day before since we were all tired and both kids weren't feeling very good.  We grocery shopped in the morning, Carter visited Uncie J while I took Elise to the doctor, we ate lunch, we napped, we went for a run, and played for a little while at the splash pad.  Carter had actually asked to go home while we were at the splash pad which has never happened before.
Our day started off with some peek-a-boo in the laundry hamper.

That morning things quickly took a turn for the worse.  Carter was jumping on our bed as I was getting dressed.  I told him to stop because it wasn't safe and he could land on sissy.  He stopped but then walked right over and stomped on her leg.  I took him to time out and then we talked about how he had hurt sissy, he apologized, kissed her leg, and made sure she was okay.  Then next thing I knew he was kicking Harper so again to time out.  Again the apologizing and making sure she was okay.  After my run I left Elise in her car seat because she was asleep and put her in the doorway while I showered so I could keep an eye on her.  She was still asleep when I got out of the shower so I left her.  Carter went over and started kissing her which was fine.  Then he stood up and started rocking the car seat with a vengeance.  I told him that was too rough and he didn't want to wake sissy because she'd cry and I'd have to get her out and we would be late to the park.  He looked right at me and started slapping at her.  So another time out.  It wasn't even 10:00 yet and he'd already been to time out 3 times.  We had a morning playdate at the park and I was hoping that would be exactly what he needed.  I figured he just needed to get outside and run off some energy.  Then he would go back to normal.  We were ready early so we headed out and played before our friends arrived.  Carter was having a blast, trying all the ladders and splashing in puddles since he was wearing his boots.

Our friends arrived and in retrospect he was already getting tired, but it didn't register at the time.  It was after 11:00 and he had woken up early and had a rough night of sleep on top of that.  He was playing nicely with his buddy Landon and then Landon ran off to play on some other equipment.  He wasn't being mean or leaving Carter out on purpose, he just wanted to climb a ladder he hadn't yet.  Carter ran after him screaming, "NO LANDY!!!!"  I reassured him it was okay and that Landon just wanted to try out the ladder.  Wish I would have stopped right there and realized it was probably time to go home.  Elise started crying because she was hungry so I pulled her out of her car seat in the stroller to nurse and put a cover up on.  As we walked back over to the equipment Carter approached a little girl probably around a year and half old.  He went to hug her, but she turned so he hugged her from the side, they got off balance and fell down.  With how it happened it looked like he had tackled her, but I knew what he had tried to do.  As I was reminding Carter to be gentle and going to help them up, her mom ran over and pulled her up giving me a dirty look and chastising Carter.  As they walked away he slapped at the girl.  I told him no and walked him over to sit for a time out.  That's when we for real should have packed up and gone home.  But did I pick up on that?  Unfortunately, no.  So we stayed and after a while of playing nicely Carter did the same thing to a little boy.  He hugged him, but for too long and too hard so they both fell down.  As they were getting up Carter slapped the boy in the head.  I took him to time out again and had him go apologize and check on the boy.  A little while later Carter asked to go home and I happily said good bye to the moms we had met there and loaded up to go home.

I had felt pretty good all morning and really refreshed after our run.  The incidents at the park hadn't really bothered me too much at the time.  But on the drive home I started thinking about it more and getting more and more upset.  Leave it to postpartum hormones and sleep deprivation to make your mind go to dark places.  I started wondering where I'd gone wrong as a parent that Carter felt it was okay to hit other children.  Then I started thinking about all the ways I had possibly failed him to make him feel that way.  By the time I got home I was close to tears because in my mind I had failed miserably as a parent by raising a child who would become a bully in school, being mean to other children and physically harming them.  I stood making his lunch, my mind still reeling, when he out of no where blurted out "Grandpa Eddie".  I stopped and stared at him, wondering how he knew exactly what to say.  My Gandpa Eddie was notoriously a jokester and was ornery as can be all through childhood and honestly somewhat in adulthood, but he turned out to be an amazing man.  The kind of person who touched the lives of many people around him.  People I'd never met but felt inclined to share stories of him to me after he had passed.  I felt much better and put Carter down for his nap with somewhat uplifted spirits.

When Carter woke up from his nap it started all over again.  The terrorizing Harper and not being gentle enough with Elise and I lost it.  I just sat down on the couch and cried.  Carter came over, sat next to me, looked right into my face and asked, "Mommy okay?"  I told him I was sad.  I was sad because he had been mean to me, to Harper, to friends at the playground, and to sissy.  He looked me right in the face and said, "I stop all of that."  Although I knew he wouldn't follow through with that promise, it was a sweet sentiment.  That evening when Ty walked in the door I couldn't help it, one look at him and I began crying all over again.  I was exhausted.  I was tired of the time outs, of the hitting, of the kicking, of Elise's constant need to be held.  I wanted the day to be over.  I wanted to start over again.  I wanted Carter back to his normal self.  It had been a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.  I felt like a failure as a parent.  The time outs weren't working.  Talking wasn't working.  I just wasn't getting through to my son.  After Carter went to bed Ty and I had a long talk.  We came to the conclusion that Carter was overtired, jealous, and needed attention.  We realized I should have left the park after Carter's incident with the first little girl.  I shouldn't have stayed letting it spiral out of control.  In my heart I knew it was just a bad day, but I couldn't help feeling worthless.  I cried more times than I'd like to admit.
I walked in to find Carter consoling Elise later in the day which almost made up for how mean he'd been to her earlier.

That day I was convinced I was a failure as a parent.  I had gone horribly wrong and ruined my perfect angel baby.  While having a conversation with my dad I told him I felt like a failure as a parent and he responded with, "And it won't be the last time."  Parenting can be hard.  Both babies were sick which meant I wasn't getting enough sleep.  I was tired, hormonal, and stressed out.  In my head I thought, "Maybe Carter would be better off going to daycare all day because I'm such a worthless parent."  Then I remembered having that thought before when Carter was around 2-3 months old.  I had set him in a laundry basket on the counter while I put away some folded laundry and it tipped over, spilling him out.  I remembered thinking, "Carter will be better off at daycare, at least they won't almost kill him."  When I remembered that thought I realized this day wasn't the first time I'd felt like a failure and as my dad pointed out, I know it won't be the last.  But I'll keep going and doing the best I can because I love my precious children more than can be described.  Although my day was terrible and I wished I could forget it ever happened, I was glad it reminded me not to put too much weight on just one day.  You can't measure anything in just one day and I shouldn't have made large generalizations about Carter's behavior and future based on a bad day.  Thank goodness we got to wake up and start over the following day!  

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Ty is Now a Van Man!

I've mentioned before my regret in not buying a mini van. Almost 2 years ago we decided we should get a new car to replace Ty's then pretty downtrodden SUV. We wanted a safer and bigger car before adding another child to our family. We also wanted to have a while to get used to the added expense of another car payment before #2. Neither of us felt we needed a minivan. I felt it would be silly to drive a van with only one child and after researching SUVs we felt one with a 3rd row would be sufficient. It wasn't until we started trying to fit my parents and brothers in the Mazda with us that we started to realize it wasn't big enough. The 3rd row was basically a joke and we all dreaded when it was our turn to sit in it.

Then Elise came along and we added another car seat. Before buying the Mazda we had played around with the car seat to see where all it would fit. At the time we only had the infant car seat and didn't realize how much bigger our upgraded car seat would be. We had planned out how we would set up the car with 2 car seats, putting the baby in the middle and Carter in the back. It wasn't until Ty went to install the infant car seat just weeks before Elise was born that we realized our plan wouldn't work, the car just wasn't big enough. There wasn't enough room. Both the passenger seat and driver seat were limited in how far they could be moved back due to hitting the car seat behind them. On long trips I wasn't able to stretch my legs out and it sucked. There had also been the frustration of being giantly pregnant and having to lift Carter all the way up into the tall car.
Elise and Carter riding in the middle seat of the Mazda.
Elise was born and I started transporting 2 kids in 2 car seats, one on either side of the car. In our driveway I'd load Elise up while Carter waited on the other side and then I'd go around to load him up. Everywhere else I'd set Elise's car seat down to load Carter and then go around to get her in. It wasn't awesome but it wasn't too bad and I got in a good routine. But man, there was no room in the middle and to get to the dreaded 3rd row we had to crawl through the trunk. When the stroller was in the trunk the back seats had to be folded down so it could fit. The 3rd row was even more of a waste. When we took longer trips and I sat in the back between their car seats it was miserable. I was squished on the hump of the bench with no leg room with Carter's toys spilling over into the little leg room I had.
My mom squeezed between the 2 car seats in the middle of the Mazda.
I kept telling Ty how much I wished we'd gone with a van. Getting the Mazda turned out to be a big mistake. At the time it was a great decision but once I started driving it I realized it wasn't what we'd hoped or needed. Plus if we decided to have a third child there's no way the Mazda would work. Ty told me if we were going to make the change we should do it sooner while our Mazda had more value. My thought had been to wait until we had more paid off as we had only paid off about $2,000 on our loan, but what Ty said made sense. Last weekend we finally had time in town to look at some vans. During the week Ty did some research and found a few used vans that were in our price range. My hope was that we could find something cheaper than what our Mazda was worth since we were upside down with it, owing about $5-7,000 more than the projected trade in value. I figured there was a small chance of that happening and didn't have much hope in finding a van. Ty discovered a used Dodge Grand Caravan priced in our range. He was excited to look at it and wanted to jump on it after having a Honda Odyssey sell before we got a chance to look at it. Jeremy agreed to come to our house after Carter went to bed Friday evening so we could look at it without worrying about him running around the dealership.

We arrived at the dealership a little after 8:00 with it closing at 9:00. Our plan was to mess around with the car seats and stroller to see how they'd fit and then return the next day to look some more. We knew our best bet for a car in our price range was a Dodge so we wanted to get a feel for one. We were in a hurry leaving so I forgot my purse. Normally there's a pacifier in Elise's car seat but it had gotten taken out and not put back. So we weren't prepared to be there past 9:00. We were greeted by a friendly salesman who took us right to the van. He was working with another couple who were in and out of finance buying a car so he'd go back and forth between us which was nice and gave us plenty of time to play with the car.
Our sweet new ride!
We opened the hatch and I tried out different ways to lift the double stroller in and fit it into the trunk. I was amazed at how much lower it was and therefore an easier lift! Then we got inside and played with the seats. Our favorite thing about the van was the stow 'n go seats in both the middle and back row which folded down completely into the floor. Ty put both car seats in different places in the van to get a feel for how they would fit. I started to get giddy seeing all the different options and how much space there'd be to move around! Ty showed me all the places we could fit car seats and I jokingly said, "So you're saying we could fit 4 car seats in here at once." He quickly replied that if that was my plan we would abandon the search for vans immediately which cracked me up!

The salesman then brought over a Chrysler Town & Country which was about $10,000 more than the Dodge. It was in great condition with automatic lights, leather seats, and a back up camera which were the things the Dodge didn't have that we would have liked. It was also fully loaded with a DVD player, navigation system and other features we didn't need. Although beautiful I wasn't interested because I liked the idea of a cheaper car that we could almost trade the Mazda in straight across for. We had seen what we'd planned on for the evening but the salesman offered for us to go ahead and test drive it so we figured why not?! The power adjustment  in the front seat was broken so I couldn't reach the pedals, something they assured us they would fix, but that meant I couldn't test drive the car so Ty did. I was immediately impressed with how comfortable the seats were. I originally thought cloth seats may have been a deal breaker because they would get so dirty with kids, but man were they comfortable! When we got back from the test drive they wanted us to try out the Chrysler but I wanted to head home and honestly didn't want our interest in a more expensive car peaked. We declined the second test drive because Elise was getting tired and fussy. I wanted to head home but they talked us into heading inside for a few minutes to run some numbers and see what our payments would look like. While inside the manager took our Mazda out to drive and get an idea of what they'd offer us. It became clear they were trying to close the deal and it was nearing 10:00. I told Ty to close things down so they reluctantly let us leave as we promised to return the next day. 

Saturday morning we had planned to take Carter on a special group hike at our nature center and we went ahead with those plans. Once Carter was down for a nap Jeremy came over so we could head back to the dealership. This time I was more prepared with my purse and a pacifier in hand. The salesman we worked with the night before was happy to see we had returned. We talked about what we were interested in and he brought out papers showing us numbers. Going in we were expecting to be offered $11-13,000 for the Mazda as Kelly Blue Book listed that as the estimated trade in amount. We were floored when they offered us $15,000 which meant we would only get $3,000 less than what we still owed. With our down payment we were back at zero which means our car payment even with tags and taxes included will be around $60 less per month than we were paying! So now we have a car that is a better fit for our family and have a cheaper car payment which is a win all around!
Elise zonked out while we sat in the finance office at the dealership.
Right now we have the captain seat behind the passenger seat folded down and stowed away to give Carter more room to climb into the back, me more room to move around while loading the kids, and a place to easily change diapers on the go. The van also has automatic sliding doors so I don't have to worry about Carter waiting on me to open the door or accidentally swinging my door open too far in a crowded parking lot and dinging someone else's car. The key fob has buttons that open each of the doors as well as the back hatch. All of this is a game changer and makes my life so much easier!
Carter peeking out from his car seat in the back of the van.
Carter pushing the button on Elise's mirror so it would play music.
Every time we walk out of the house and I can push buttons to have both doors open by the time we get to the car I am so happy. I load Elise in on the driver's side, close the door, circle the car and step in on the passenger side. By the time I'm in the back ready to buckle Carter in he's already sitting in his car seat waiting on me. I was worried with him being all the way in the back I wouldn't be able to hear him but I can actually hear him better than I did in the Mazda. Not sure if it's because the van is quieter or because he's more centered in the car rather than all the way on the passenger side so he's more in my line of hearing. Either way I love it! There have been a few car rides where I've sat in the back next to Carter. I love being able to see both my babies really well. With the seat in front of me folded down I can stretch my legs all the way out which is such a treat after being sardined into the spot between the car seats with no leg room in the Mazda. I am one happy momma! 

From the moment we bought the van I knew we made the right decision and each time I drive the car I find a new reason to love it. Yesterday it was having the room and privacy to change into my running clothes after storytime at the library. The van is so easy to use that one day after a run I let Carter play around inside it while I loaded up the stroller. He found the buttons to open and close the doors and hatch so I dealt with him closing and opening the hatch on me. I told Ty the disadvantage of having such an easy car is that a toddler can do it! This weekend we were playing at the park while Ty ran and it started to lightning and rain. We went to the car and played with the door open rather than wasting gas by turning the car on and leaving it running. We were in a parking lot but due to the sliding door were able to do that. All things I've loved about our van and I'm sure I'll find even more reasons to be pleased with our purchase!
My view from the back seat!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Wordless Wednesday

Skippy was wondering who was sleeping in his spot.
He eventually settled on this spot.
Elise loves daddy snuggles!
Carter didn't want to take a nap and was crying, Harper felt sorry for him and laid by his door.
Carter wanted to help slide Elise back into her bouncer.
But it turned into more of him choking her out.
Carter put on my running watch and said, "I go run!"

Checking out bees in the bee hive.

Factiming Gma, Gpa, Aunt Netta, Megan, and Garrett.

All of my loves!

Walking to the car in style!

Woke up to this view on Sunday morning.

Treat at Krispy Kreme after running some errands.

Trying to fix the broken chair for Harper.
Carter set the table and said the yellow bowl was for me, the green bowl was for daddy, and the red bowl was for Oma.  Then he asked when Oma and Opa were coming over.

Elise loves to roll onto her side to sleep.

I got out the Bumbo for Elise and Carter claimed it as his.

Lovin that double chin!

Mommy, let me take the picture!

Elise had too many cute faces to pick just one of these pictures!

Ready for snuggles.  I love the back of her head.  Well I love every part of her!

Carter giving Elise a kiss since Gma sent him a letter with a kiss for Elise in it.

Cozied up in the baby carrier at the park.

Just a boy and his dog.

Group shot!

I love all my babies!

Harper checking on Elise.

Laying down to listen at storytime in the park.