Friday, February 05, 2010


I was helping my friend Jill with the Haiti penny drive she set up for Alki elementary, and she told me that she just felt good from taking action. I agree.

I'm trying to take action in my own life. Helping with raising money for Haiti or helping in my community, for sure, but also closer to home. Working on getting Tessa back on track behaviorly, cooking healthy meals, budgeting (and not just writing the numbers down but living by them), and the like.

Yesterday I even went running. (Ouch!)

It can be so difficult to get started, sometimes, but I am sure that it's worth it.

Action is the antidote to despair. - Joan Baez

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Can I go back to bed?

I'm just thinking about all of these issues that I've been blogging and feeling really overwhelmed.

A lot of my identity is as a Mama, and when Tessa is behaving well I feel like it's a validation of my work. Yes, I know that is screwed up, because she is her own person, and my worth comes from within and not from her behavior, AND I know that her worth is not from some behavior as a child but who SHE is within....but dang, this is really hard.

So, right now, I'm not feeling like such a star in the parenting department.

Follow through

This morning I met with Tessa's teacher, and then I met with the school counselor, to get ideas about how to handle my changing child. It was time to bring in the experts!

Tessa continues to drive me crazy. The worst of it is the snarkiness; the rude behavior. If she wasn't a good student, well, that is something that I could live with....but rude? Not okay. No way, no how.

I'm going to have to be a black and white parent for a while. Here's the rule, you broke it, immediate consequence, no chances. I've read about this as "brick wall parenting" - an "I said it, no discussion, just do it" kind of parenting that I'm not crazy about it, but it seems that this is where I must go for a while. Tessa is manipulating me to do whatever she wants, and she's not being reasonable about it. (When asked, "How do you think we could change your behavior?" she actually told me "You could buy me more treats and toys." Note to self: seven year olds are not reasonable.)

So, I'm putting my foot down. I'm not excited about it, but I have GOT to out-stubborn this stubborn child of mine. (She comes by it honestly; I can, at least, relate to her.) We're going to have a family meeting to present this new information, and to come up with a list of rules together, and discuss consequences for not meeting those rules. I have a plan, with her teacher, about homework....and Tessa will be missing recess if she doesn't do it.

I am going to get my sweet girl back. Tessa is an amazing child, and I'm am going to coax her best parts of her to reappear.

Parenting is hard!

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Whiners' Anonymous

Hi. My name is Kristina. I'm a whiner.

I am trying to gather up a good attitude today after yesterday's meltdowns (both mine and Tessa's). Fortunately, Ryan came home, and helped me to get Tessa to bed, or I'm not sure what I would have done - I wanted to hide in my own bed with the covers over my head!

Today is a new day, a fresh start.

I'm looking up information on seven year olds, and came across this website (again). It should be required reading, I think:
and also this page:

It wasn't my imagination; Tessa is changing, and leaving equilibrium and entering disequilibrium. I am directed to be gentle and patient in response. Oh, I'm trying....

I think I need to master the art of explaining LESS and taking firm, fast action. Removing Tessa from the situation, allowing her to vent in a corner without my interaction. "I love you. This behavior is unacceptable. When you're ready to talk, please come to me. Until then, stay here."

I'll have to work on my script, but I have to come up with a good, succinct one.

I think I'm in disequilibrium, too! Can I go to my room?


Tessa is coughing and sneezing and blowing her nose today...and home from school. I'm going to set up an appointment with an allergist to see if that is the deal. For such a healthy kid, she is missing a lot of school. Maybe that had something to do with yesterday, though?

Off to play dolls and read stories.

This website is very interesting - found this article:

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Mama Whining

I am about to whine. If you don't like whining (who does?) then you might not want to read this.

Still reading?

Tessa is driving me NUTS lately. I know that she is a blessing, a gift, and the greatest joy in my life. I know that children are supposed to drive their parents nuts. I know that this is some new developmental stage and will pass. I know that she's not trying to make me crazy, and that if this is the new disequilibrium then it's not working well for her, either, and it's my job to help her. I know I need to work on my patience. I know that she is a great kid, a joy, a delight, and that I am a VERY lucky Mama.


However, she is getting down-right sassy, and short of locking her in the attic I am not sure what to do about it.

Today? Picked her up to take her to the doc to check out her cough and the small rash on her arm that hasn't gone away. (Cough? Nothing. Rash? Eczema. Nothing big.) The patient bench had a roll of white paper over it, and Tessa rolled, jumped, scrinkled for about 15 minutes - intentionally making lots of noise - while we waited for the doc. Finally, I said, "I can't take that sound any more - could you please stop?" Skrinkle, skrinkle, skrinkle. "Tessa, please stop. Here, let's look at this magazine together." Skrinkle, skrinkle, skrinkle. "Tessa, stop immediately. Come over here. "Skrinkle, skrinkle. "Tessa, no more warnings. " Ahhh - the doc comes in. Skrinkle, skrinkle, skrinkle. Doc talking, I can't hear because Tessa is making so much noise with the paper. "Excuse me doctor, I need to address this: Tessa, I can not hear the doctor because you are making so much noise. Stop immediately." Skrinkle, skrinkle.

I had to stop the doctor THREE TIMES because of Tessa. It's a good thing that I don't spank because I wanted to THRASH my child at that point. (Deep breaths, Mama, deep breaths.)

Leaving the office, "No doctor's office lolipop for you. Those are for good behavior, and yours was terrible." "But MAMA....."

We got in the car and I said, "I am very disappointed with you." We had A Talk.

We got home. Homework time.

Tessa has taken AN HOUR to fill in six blanks with words like "treat" and "head". Me in the kitchen making dinner, two feet from her the whole time, encouraging her. And then telling her "If you don't just DO this, I will write a note to Ms. H saying that you wouldn't do your homework and should do it at recess."

I had to go downstairs to put the wash in the dryer. I said, "Tessa, I have to put the wash in the dryer. I'll be right back, okay?" "Okay." I am at the bottom of the stairs, five seconds later, and she starts yelling. "Mama! MAMA! MAAAAMAAAAA!" This is the irritated "I want your attention" voice, not the "help me - a giant alien is in our kitchen" voice.

I ignore her. I put the wash in the dryer, and she yells the whole time.

I come upstairs, steaming. I say, "That is RUDE. I told you where I was - why did you yell for me?" She says, "I need another bean" (for counting).

I tell her that I need her to finish her homework without me, because the day has me too frustrated to help her at this moment.

So I'm here, whining.

Are you still with me? I doubt it - this isn't exactly great reading.

But what am I to do?! I want to be consistent, give logical consequences, and raise a child who is thoughtful and grateful. I want to give her what she needs, and then some (out of love). I want to give boundaries, and keep them. I want to maintain my cool, and discipline her with love and logic when it is required.

But what happens when she just stares at me blankly, and then goes back to her list of demands?

I was actually saying, "Tessa, I need you to be more considerate" and she interrupted me and demanded extra counting beans. (At which point, I bit off her head, and then went to the computer.)

Our attic is dark and dreary and cold - maybe I could lock her in there? No, I'd feel bad.

She has been such a great kid in so many ways - where did she go? What do I do to coax that version of herself back?!

I've got to go upstairs. She is walking around, which means, unless she's carrying a clipboard and pencil, she's not doing her homework.

I will be calm. I will not yell. I will take away all of her toys for the rest of her, no, bad Mama. I will come up with something....something....

Okay, I've got nothing right now.



I think that I spend a good portion of my life struggling with routines. On the one hand, I love them - they get things done. On the other? Boring! Annoying! Difficult! Money, weight, housework, exercise, cooking, and spirituality all fall into this category.

When my house is dusty and my weight is climbing, I know it's time to look at my routines a little more closely - or to create more routines.

Tessa had a cavity that she had filled yesterday - her only one so far. The dentist asked me, "Does she floss regularly?" Um....floss, yes. Regularly, no. We brush twice a day, but didn't put flossing into the routine, and the consequence was an hour in a dentist's chair with Tessa's knees involuntarily pulling up to her chest. She was brave and strong and I was so proud of her. I read to her the entire time, and she clutched my hand in one of her hands, and Special Bear in the other, and she held it together well. When it was time to go to school, she burst into tears, and said, "Mama, it hurts!" I told her that if she missed school she'd miss Jumprope Club (her after school activity) and she said, "I know." So, I held her close, and we missed school

All because of a pesky 30 second routine that I ignored. (I fully recognize that it's my job to remind her to floss, and I didn't.)

I'm not beating myself up about it, but I am trying to recognize it for what it is...and make changes. What other routines and I letting slip away? What other things could I be doing to protect my "one wild and precious life"?

I have lots of things going well, but there is always room for improvement. This is my life, and I want it to be the best that it can be.

I think I'll go floss now.