2

I might have given in, but with good reason!

Turner IpadTurner

I was always “that” mother. The one who swore that her child would never, and I mean ever ever play with a cell phone. I always said that I would never be the absent minded mom who so selfishly handed my kid my phone in public just to keep him quiet. No way. That is lazy. It is basically neglect. I was never going to do that.

I even had a house-wide ban on toy cell phones. My reasoning being that Turner just has baby brains and if I don’t want him playing with my real phone, then I shouldn’t give him a toy phone because he cannot distinguish the difference and it would be confusing for him.

Well, never say never.

By the time Turner was just a couple of months old our phones had become a toy for him. Moreso Andrew’s than mine, because I pay for my phone while Andrew’s is part of his job, so if Turner broke mine, it came out of pocket, and Andrew’s, well he had other options. It isn’t like we handed him our phones one day and told him to go to town. But he begged for it, grabbed it while we weren’t looking, and was just drawn to the screen’s light. He has the perfect finger motion too. Using the pointer finger to perfectly slide icons around. He was a pro before he could walk.

I can’t say that I didn’t try, because really, I did, honest.

Well, I did the unthinkable. You know “that” mom I talked about earlier, well if she knew what I did this weekend, she would have me thrown in jail! I bought Turner, my nearly 20 month old son, his own tablet. I had no other choice.

Before you report me to the authorities, hear me out.

The last few weeks, going out to eat with Turner has been a nightmare. While the easy solution might be, don’t go out to eat, it is really hard to give it up, because it is something Andrew and I really enjoy. Plus, I am no Martha Stewart, so I am never going to pass up a chance for someone to cook for me AND clean it up afterwards.

Turner has boycotted high chairs. I am assuming it is because we have never really used one at home, because when he was 9 months old my mom got him his own table and chair and he has eaten there ever since. Then, when we went out to dinner one night, instead of putting him in the high chair, we put him in the booth with us. It was easy, it worked, and it was way better than wrestling him in the high chair. Well, then he got used to it, and now screams bloody murder at the very sight of a high chair. So he gets free reign in a booth, or even a big boy chair. He does pretty well, except he has tons of access and room to cause trouble, which he did last week.

Before I could even process what was about to happen, Turner grabbed the bread off of the table and tossed it to the table behind us. The bread landed in the lady’s lap, she was less than amused. The couple were obviously on a date. You know, the type of date where they were sitting on the same side of the table (can you say awkward?!). So as she rolled her eyes and picked her jaw up off the table, she removed the bread from her lap and brushed me away with her hand. They were obviously not kid people, which is ok, not everyone is.

So we went through dinner, Turner letting out the average amount of screams, while Andrew and I played keep away with everything in sight. Despite being mortified that Turner decided his dinner would consist of nothing but ketchup, which he so artistically spread on the walls, it got worse.

Andrew and I had removed virtually everything from the table, the waitress has even removed our dishes, and once again, before I could even blink, Turner had jacked a red crayon from the table and tossed it to the same table behind us. Not only did the crayon land directly in the lady’s salad, Turner was so proud of himself, he threw both hands up in the air and yelled, ‘TOUCHDOWN.” Speechless, I just said I was sorry, grabbed Turner up and went to the car to let Andrew handle the check.

That is just the latest example of our restaurant battles. So, I broke down and bought Turner a tablet. One of those that are specifically built for kids, so hopefully, they don’t break easily. We have yet to try it out at dinner because we are still recovering from the most recent catastrophes, but soon we will give it a go. Turner did get to play with it at home the other night. He did well. There are TV clips pre-loaded, and I can add any android apps to it. I think it could be the greatest investment we have ever made.

Don’t worry, I don’t plan to let him have it all the time. Just when we are out and he needs something to keep him occupied. I know, I know, those tech toys will rot a kids brain… well, I guess we will see.

Don’t judge me.

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7

I need some advice from the parents out there.

First off, Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy New Year, and anything else we have celebrated recently.

So I am looking for some words of wisdom.

Our family had an incredibly blessed holiday. Turner was showered with gifts and love and it was a memorable second Christmas for sure. But it was his second Christmas. And our home is officially overloaded with toys. I am incredibly thankful for all of our friends and family who wanted to spoil Turner. Admittedly, Andrew and I also went on a Toys R’ Us shopping spree for the little guy. But as I try to get my life and my house back into order, I don’t know what to do with everything.

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This is just from one of the 5 Christmas celebrations we had with family.

1) I am incredibly sentimental, so I tend to hold on to things. I have his “first” toys that his cousin, aunt, grandma, uncle, great grandma, neighbor, and anyone else has given him. I am real big on “firsts.” Then I have kept his “favorite” toys. So if he loved it for more than a day when he was 2 months old, I probably have stored it somewhere and refuse to get rid of it. Then there is the fact, that Turner legitimately still plays with most of the things he got last Christmas and at anything since. So although he got bigger and better toys this year, I don’t want to do away with the ones that still get great use, even if they are a bit older.

So you can understand why my house is overflowing. We live in a pretty fair sized house with plenty of storage space, but somehow, Turner’s 2 Christmas and 1 birthday, and my online shopping obsession, have started to overtake us.

So here is where I need advice. Turner’s 2nd birthday is in May. While we want to celebrate our pride and joy with family and friends, we can’t take much more clutter at home. At Turner’s first birthday, we were already anticipating this happening, so we asked our guests to not bring a toy for Turner, but instead make a donation to a charity. And while we plan to continue to teach Turner this value on his birthday, that effort didn’t really work out last year. Some people brought toys for Turner and a donation, some just brought toys for Turner. And don’t get me wrong, we appreciate it beyond words. We value and love everything our friends and family have done for Turner. I don’t want this to come off as ungrateful, especially to all you wonderful family members who take time out of your day to read my blog.

I have no problem picking on my mom. For one, she doesn’t read my blog, and two, this is something I am not afraid to say directly to her, and have for that matter. My mom donated to the charity last year for Turner’s birthday. Then got him the traditional big yellow and red car. That car will be used for a solid 3 more years, and Turner loves it. In fact, I am fairly certain it is in our living room right now. But you see what I mean? My own mother wouldn’t listen to the no gift rule. She said, “I am getting my grand baby something for his birthday.” She is one stubborn lady.

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So Andrew and I were talking last night, and we suggested maybe asking for a no toy, charity thing again this year. Although it wasn’t completely effective on the gift end, our family did support the charity. And it did cut down on some gifts. But then, those who listened and didn’t bring a gift, felt awkward and out of place by those who did.

Another option we discussed was not having a party at all. Turner is only 2, so while we can get him a cake and just our little family celebrate, I think that would be sufficient. But I can hear my mother’s voice in my head. She would be furious that I was depriving her of the chance to celebrate Turner. So then we could have a small party with just family… but the only problem is, we have a rather large family. And that isn’t really a problem. We are blessed to have so many people who love us and care for Turner. Turner is very fortunate and one rich little boy in that aspect. But he is only 2. Do we need to rent a building and make it a production? It is 6 months out and I am already stressed about it.  Oh, and if you think I am crazy for worrying about a party that is 6 months from now, you must understand that in our very small town, spaces to have birthday parties are very limited, and are usually already booked by the first week of the new year, so I have to get moving.

The third option we disused was asking people to donate to Turner’s college fund. At least for another year or two until Turner could really ask for gifts. Turner has his own bank account and realistically probably already has more money than I do. We want him to have a college fund so when he graduates high school, if he wants to go to college, it will already be paid for. So we started saving the very day we found out we were pregnant with him. And it isn’t just spare change, it gets routinely contributed to. So we thought, we could get a huge piggy bank and have it has a centerpiece at the party and write, “16 years until college” on it. (Can we please talk about how I will only have 16 years with my baby before he abandons me? Talk about depressing!)

Is that tacky? Is it offensive? I just don’t know.

Any and all advice would be great.

We got Turner a motorcycle. Although he loves it... what 19 month old needs a motorcycle? He doesn't even weigh enough to make it move.

We got Turner a motorcycle. Although he loves it… what 19 month old needs a motorcycle? He doesn’t even weigh enough to make it move.

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Making literacy a priority for the children in my community

After Turner was born, I made it my mission to ensure that all children in my community had the best of everything. From sponsoring kids at Christmas, to working to start a local Safe Kids Chapter, I have made it my goal to make the world Turner lives in better.

My husband Andrew, of course is annoyed by my constant causes and efforts to take on the world, but I feel obligated. Maybe it is the new mom in me and my idea, however naive it may be, that I can make a difference. I may not change the whole world, but I am certainly going to work really hard to change mine.

My family's Christmas card this year.

My family’s Christmas card this year.

One of those efforts, which I was actually a part of long before Turner, is Read2Me. Read2Me is comprised of a group of volunteers in my community who are working to prove that Reading Matters in Macon County. We work to ensure that all children in our county, regardless of income, have access to books. Early literacy is so crucial to a child’s development and from birth, even before birth, it is so important to read to and with your children. We want to make sure that everyone knows that and have the resources to do it.

Where we live is considerably poor. Most families in our community live below the poverty line and not only is access to resources limited, but the general education and knowledge of the importance of early literacy is something that is often loss. Read2Me wants to change that, and since we started 3 years ago, we have.

When we started, 75 percent of children entering Kindergarten were testing below proficient on the reading readiness test. The test includes things like knowing you read a book left to right, and which way a book should be, upside down or right side up. Seemingly simples things, that were being ignored. With Read2Me working to provide books to all children in the county, and holding parent training sessions on how to raise a reader, those test scores have improved dramatically. If I remember correctly, the last figures we got showed that now only about 35 percent of children were testing below proficient. That number is still way too high, proving that we have a lot of work to do.

One of Read2Me’s main focuses is implementing the Dolly Parton Imagination Library. We have worked with another local literacy group to bring the program to children in Macon County. We fully fund the program, so it is free for all children, regardless of income. Through the Dolly program, all children in Macon County, birth to age 5, receive a book in the mail each month. The book is addressed to them and is age appropriate. The program is magical and so many children love it.

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In the first full year of the program we served a little more than 1,000 kids, with about 820 actively enrolled. That is incredible. It cost us about $32,000 each year to bring the program to Macon County. What that breaks down to is about $30 per child, per year. A small price to pay to support literacy.

This year, we are a couple of thousand dollars shot tot our $32,000 so we are in a fundraising crunch to ensure that the program can continue through 2015 and beyond. We fundraise all year long. We hold bake sales, car shows, yard sales, talk to local groups, and do just about anything and everything we can think of to get they money raised. It matters to us. It is important to us to make sure that reading is a priority in our community.

We have set up a Go Fund Me account in hopes of raising some additional funding for the program. It may be a stretch, but we are hoping that our mission reaches beyond our community and we can solicit support on a grander scale. If you would like to help, please visit our Go Fund Me page: http://www.gofundme.com/iy31m4. If you can’t make a small donation, please share our story. Please join us in proving that Reading Matters in Macon.

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The terrible two’s is not the right time for photos.

For my sweet sister’s 29 birthday… I gave her the best present of all. I let her take photos of Turner! Totally being sarcastic here. I am sure she wanted to enjoy a day without photos, but it was all that worked into my schedule, so we made it work. But while trying to get a photo for our Christmas card, I came to a realization, that I think everyone should know.

Every parent wants photos of their children. We want lots of photos at all times during their lives. We don’t want to miss a thing. But my plea to parents is, to consider your child before trying to get photos taken. Just because you want it, doesn’t mean you should get them. After last night’s extravaganza and attempted baby wrangling, I realized that at this point in Turner’s life, having pictures taken is just appropriate or feasible. He doesn’t sit in one place. He doesn’t like the camera, he doesn’t like wearing the outfits I want pictures in. He actually basically hates anything that is required to have photos taken.

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While I think Ruby is the best photographer to ever pick up a camera, she can only do so much. She isn’t a miracle worker. So while I would have liked to have the perfect family pictures last night, it just was not possible. And it isn’t Ruby’s fault. I fully understand that I have it made when it comes to family pictures. So while Turner was screaming at the top of his lungs, quite literally, and pushing buttons on the heater, and knocking over the end table, and grabbing the pillows and tossing them from the bed, since Ruby is my sister, she has no choice but to take my photos. That is what super cool aunts do. But the thought of Turner acting that way, with someone who wasn’t my sister, and the pure terror and havoc he created during that 20 minute window we tried, mortified me.

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I cannot imagine, not just Ruby, but other photographers trying their hardest to get that literal picture perfect pose when the subject he being a tyrant. Turner is almost 19 months. He is vicious. I am well aware of that. So I don’t know why I thought I was going to be able to get his photos taken. It would have taken a true act of God to get him, along with Andrew and myself looking and smiling at the camera all at once.

And while, by some freak accident and true miracle, which is a testament to Ruby’s talent and patience and awesome Aunt abilities, the photos you see of Turner and my niece are adorable and look so flawless and effortless, please realize that behind those smiles were tears, bribes, and a little loss of sleep.

I have learned my lesson. Just because I want photos, doesn’t mean Turner is at the age to where I should punish a photographer or any other professional for my own delight. It just isn’t the right time for him.

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So, I beg of you parents, please know your child. Know how they behave and what they tend to do in public or in front of new people… and if it is less than ideal… wait a little while for that special professional photo. That way, you don’t waste your money and time by paying for something that may not be the vision you had in your head… and you save your photographer from a few early grey hairs. Or at the very least… understand that they don’t always cooperate with the camera. So while it would be nice to have the perfectly centered photo with a grand smile and your kid looking like the little piece of perfection you want them to… understand that it may not be possible. So if your child is kicking and screaming, that is a great memory to capture in a photo too!

2

Not all parenting stereotypes are false.

Growing up, I always heard jokes about how parents would hide treats from their kids. Then when I got older, I would see funny cartoons about mom’s hiding out on the toilet trying to savor chocolate without their children finding out, just so they didn’t have to share.

#truth

#truth

Well, this weekend, I got to experience that. It actually hit me… that I am that stereotypical parent. That all of those cartoons were actually a “thing” and were real life. Early last week I got a small bag of potato chips at the store. I love potato chips. I would eat them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, if at all possible. But since a recent doctor’s visit revealed that I was clinical obese, oh yes, obese, I no longer get to enjoy my guilty pleasure.

After a two month hiatus from the gym due to lack of time, and after begin told that I was obese (I blame it on how short I am), I have returned to the gym, restricted my already twig and berries diet, and am trying my hardest to be a better me. So when I bought this bag of chips at the gas station, it was an indulgence. It was a treat. I didn’t open them right away. Even though I wanted them that very minute, just making the purchase calmed my cravings for the time being. I tucked the chips away in the back of the cabinet. A special treat for myself for a later day.

The dynamic duo!

The dynamic duo!

Well, that later day hit me this weekend. I decided to volunteer to have a sleepover at my house with my niece Madison, as well as having Turner. I never mind it. Those two play so well together, and despite the clutter of constant toys and books littering the living room, and an occasional slap for one of them not sharing, it isn’t a tough job. But in the middle of watching those two, it hit me. The uncontrollable urge, the sensation, the burning desire to devour that bag of chips to the very last crumb.

But what was I supposed to do? There was no way I could have enjoyed even a single chip without that two scavengers clawing out my eyes to get a taste. I just was not going to let that happen. I could taste the succulence of those cheddar and sour cream slices of heaven, and I was not about to share with anyone. With my eyes glued to the kitchen cabinet protecting my treasure, I debated every possible tactic I could take to get a moment alone.

My first born!

My first born!

My efforts were hopeless. No matter what scenario I came up with, I just could not see it ending well. And despite being able to literally smell the goodness from the air tight container protecting the nectar of the gods, I left the chips high up in the cabinet.

This is what my life has come to. A hungry mother so stingy and stubborn that I would rather not get even a little taste of my addiction than have to share an ounce with my son and niece. But hey, that is motherhood right?

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We have officially introduced the time out.

Turner is almost 17 months old. He is very stubborn and very strong-willed. He fully knows right from wrong. He completely understands when he isn’t supposed to be doing something, and most of the time, he does it anyway. So last night, after taking one too many swipes across the face, I put him in time out.

He hates it. He knows it is not a good place to be. I put his little nose in the corner and stand behind him while explaining what he did wrong and how he shouldn’t do it. He fights it with every ounce of his being. He tries to wiggle free and tries to reach for me with a river of tears streaming down his face. It is tough. When he is reaching for me, and just wants to nuggle his little head up against my chest, it is hard not to resist. But I know I have to. After all, he is my child, and I was hell as a child. So I know what he has in him, and I know that if karma has anything to do with it, I am in for a real treat these next few years.

My little nightly terror.

My little nightly terror.

It is tough. I don’t plan to put him in time out for everything, just things I truly think he understands he shouldn’t be doing, like hitting. I want to call adult protective services… he is the worst momma-abuser. He doesn’t just hit me. He leans back and puts force into it before he slams his five little sticky, slobbered covered fingers across my check. And he isn’t afraid to use a weapon. Before I even had time to brace for it, he full-force slammed a golf ball into my nose. I wouldn’t mind some cosmetic work, but I would prefer to avoid it being because my toddler started the process.

In addition to time out,  I think I am about to get a lot more stubborn when it comes to Turner’s sleeping… or the lack of. Last night, like most nights, he woke up shortly after 3 a.m. for his nightly romper room. It is exhausting. I am constantly tired, and grumpy, and resentful, and it is about time he gets used to sleeping all night, alone, in his own bed. While it is far easier to rescue him from his crib (if he will even sleep there to begin with) and put him in bed with mommy and daddy, I know we just can’t keep doing it. I can’t take many more nights on the couch, because that is his choice location for his slumber. It doesn’t mesh well for me.

We are about to have one disappointed toddler. But I think it is time that mommy and daddy establish who is boss!

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Catching up while just trying to keep up!

I desperately miss writing on here. I will 100% make more of an effort. Sometimes, life just gets in the way.

We just survived our first fight with pink eye. It started in Turner’s right eye, then moved to the left. It didn’t really impact him too much. I have always said that Turner is the least sick sick kid I have ever met. Nigh time was rough. When he would wake up with his eyes matted he was understandably afraid and confused, but other than that, it was business as usual.

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Turner’s eight tooth has broken through, and that caused more tears and fuss than the ear infection/pink eye. I hadn’t even realized the new tooth until he started gnawing on the coffee table, that is his go-to teething toy despite our best efforts to prevent it. It is so crazy to see all those teeth. He is 16 months now, just hit that milestone on the 30th. Just a couple of months ago when we had his 1 year pics taken he had half the teeth and looked so much younger. I just want to freeze him.

photography

My amazing sister, Ruby Peoples Photography, took incredible 1 year pics of Turner!

Last night when I was snuggling him to sleep, it hit me. One day, he is going to be too big for this. I dread the day that when he gets sleepy he no longer wants to crawl up on the couch with me and let me love him to sleep. It is heartbreaking. I don’t ever want that day to come. Just the thought is borderline paralyzing.

We can scratch off every item on the 12-24 developmental check list. He is such a little person. It is mind blowing at times. Sometimes I let him run around the house barefoot and in nothing but a diaper because it is the only time he still seems like my baby.

Whenever he does anything, I just want to freeze it for a second so I will never forget. Like how his face lights up when a dog or ball comes on TV. How when I walk out to the mailbox he climbs on the couch and watches me from the window. How he takes his toy golf club and swipe hopelessly at balls in the living room. How he finds his spoon and attempts to eat blueberries on his own. How he never passes an opportunity to splash in a puddle even though just a few months ago he was petrified of water. How he pulls out the drawers in the kitchen and plays in them. How he grabs both of my cheeks and plants the sweetest kiss i have ever had right on my lips. All of these things. I never want to forget them. I want to always remember them.