The Calming Corner

Three-year-olds are ridiculous. They are emotionally charged, whiny, and logically disconnected.

My dudes are not exempt from the nonsense, unfortunately, and so I’ve had to curve my “parenting skills” constantly. Even more so, with twins, you have to change the way you parent each kid as both are completely different individuals with completely different needs. It’s been a challenge, to say the least.

Blondie is what the modern world is now calling a “spirited kid.” What is that you ask? Let’s be real…he’s full of the devil! Full of energy, spite, and love. He is sensitive and high-strung, loving yet psychotic, lol. No for real…he’s a tough cookie but I am certain he will do amazing things when he’s older. Own a Fortune 500 company or cure cancer. But for now, he’s a doozy and I’ve been trying to find ways to comfort him before his massive blowups happen.

 

Brownie is the complete opposite. He wouldn’t hurt a fly but is very very sensitive. To the point where if we tell him not to do something and logically explain why not to do said thing, he will throw himself on the ground as if he was shot down. He literally just falls out of his chair without bracing his fall. It’s pretty hilarious actually. Kind of like those fainting goats. That being said, he doesn’t get in trouble much but he also won’t listen when you tell him “No.” So, it’s a bit out of control on both ends here.

I began to dig around for an all-around thing that would work for both extremely different children. I’m not sure where I first heard of the idea of a calming corner but I happened to search a bit and found a zillion things on Pinterest and other places about it. Phew! I’m not the only mother who has lost her damn mind and needs SERENITY NOW!

 

***wooooosssssaaaaaahhhhh***

 

First things first, we had to find a spot to have this said Calming Corner. I don’t know why but setting it up in the formal dining area was good enough. I needed to have these two jokesters in plain view so another room wouldn’t have worked. Then I trucked over or mom-vanned it over to the dollar store and grabbed all the essentials to make a calming corner..well..calm.

So in our bucket is:

2 sensory bottles (1 with glitter, the other a lava lamp look)

3 playdough filled balloons with different emotions drawn on them (Happy, Sad, Angry) which act as a stress ball of sorts.

1 snuggly bug

2 squrimy thingies (I bet you like it when I talk about technical, don’t ya!?)

1 firm yet squishable football

1 rubix cube

 

The only rule that is set with this area is that when they are done playing there, they have to put all the toys back in the bucket so they are ready for the next person to use. Essentially, the idea is that we try to catch them before they are upset or if we see that they are starting to get emotional about a situation we ask them if they want to go to the calming corner for a little bit. They are allowed to bring their blankets, loveys, and pacifiers with them if they want and they can choose when they are done. Both boys have sat there quietly for 15-20 minutes at times.

This is not to replace time-outs. It’s supposed to be a “safe space” where they can go to try to identify their emotions and work out how to handle them. It’s not easy being green or three for that matter and this so far has been a great option for both of them. At this point, I’m willing to try anything to get these kids to quit their antics but let’s face it, toddlers will be toddlers.

Hell, I should throw myself in the calming corner and see if they leave me alone for a minute actually! (Going to go try that right now! I’ll report back! ha!)

 

Until next time, Readers!!! xoxoxoxoxo

Saying Goodbye To Harley Noodle Jones

I hate that title. I hate everything about it. Note: This is a long and sad post. So read at your own free will.

I didn’t think I would be writing a post like this for years to come and its completely breaking my heart to do so. Harley deserves a post all about him and for those of you that have followed closely with my journey moving to Germany, you know how huge of a part he really played in that whole ordeal.

Toblerone and I got Harley when he was just a couple months old in March 2010. He solidified everything for us and from that point on we were a family.

H-man went first with Tobi to Germany and I couldn’t join them fast enough. I had to finish out my duties at work and tie up loose ends in the States before I moved. Once I got there, Harley was my main focus since I didn’t have a job or anything else to do except take care of the house (and who wants to spend their time doing that! lol) I dutifully made up a dog training excel spreadsheet and got to work on that! Harley would be smirking at me knowing that lasted all of 4 days! Ha!

Truthfully, Harley was the only close friend I had in Germany as strange as that sounds. It was so difficult to make friends there. He was the one reminder from the US I had and he spoke perfect English. He got me 🙂 On days when I was especially homesick he would take me out for walks to ease my mind for a bit. He was my person.

Back in the US, my world traveling dog watched us go through a heck of a time trying to get pregnant and he sat right with me throughout my pregnancy even though I was barfy (is that even a word?) and barely could move. When the boys arrived he was ALL about them. I didn’t know for sure how he would react and was worried because he was my baby for so long, I was sure he would NOT be impressed with how much attention they would be getting.

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He did take the backseat a bit and I felt awful for it. The twins took over my life and with no family around to help I powered through and did the very best I could trying to manage his schedule and their schedule. But I think he knew I loved him all the same.

Harley and Arjen barking at people passing by. They were a team!

Our blondie twin had a crazy special bond with Harley and I didn’t really see it until I was going back through pictures and there the two of them were over and over again.

I got pregnant again with our little girl this past summer and once again, Harley man had to take the backseat since the sickness took over my body. I laid in bed all day – could NOT function. I did slowly start to feel better later in the pregnancy and by Christmas time, Toberlone was awarded his green card and we booked a last minute trip to Germany. (Side note: NEVER travel during winter holidays with 3yr old twins while 7 months pregnant. NEVER. EVER.)

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Fur Ball got to go on vacation at a great place he loved to go to. A doggy resort so to speak. Fireplaces, fluffy warm dog beds, access to jump on the couch or a bed and to run outside free. NO kennels. That wasn’t his style. While he was there over Christmas he was having the absolute best of times with the resort staff 🙂 (aka the wonderful family who treated him like their own.) He got loads of pets and snacks during their family Xmas party and he sent us daily pictures to brag about how awesome his days were there. Meanwhile, in Germany, I was in WWIII with the time change and toddlers who were kept indoors due to the freezing cold weather. It was interesting…

New Years Day we were driving 3 hours to a hotel in Frankfurt near the airport to make it easier for us to wake up the following day and hop on the plane with the kiddos and my large and barely in charge self. I get a phone call from his host family telling us that he was having a hard time using his back legs and at one point he couldn’t walk up the steps anymore to go inside. They asked for permission to take him to the emergency hospital and we immediately said “YES.”

Initially, the Vet at the hospital said she thinks it could be a pinched nerve in his back and they wanted to do a CT scan the following morning to take a further look. However, his glucose levels were extremely low so that was a different concern.

Fast forward, upon arriving in Detroit and waiting in line at customs, I get the phone call from the Veterinarian and her words to this day are just muddled letters. How do you take in difficult news with 40 languages going on around you while trying to wrangle two extremely tired and moody children through customs? How? Well…you don’t. You listen…you try to take it in… and you cry in front of hundreds of strangers.

Diagnosis: Insulin-producing tumor in his pancreas. His glucose levels dropped so low that in fact, even with surgery to remove the tumor, he would never regain the use of his legs and would only have a few months with us.

What. The. F*ck. Is. Happening. Right. Now. (sorry for swearing but I needed to emphasize the pain)

I couldn’t get home fast enough. In hindsight, I noticed things about him that were giving us signs. He was always thirsty…was starving and begging for more snacks and waiting by his food bowl in the mornings (this is a dog we had to beg to eat!) and he needed way more potty breaks.

As soon as we got back to the house we rushed over to the hospital to see him. I couldn’t even tell the receptionist who I was. I squeaked out a, “I’m Harley’s Mom…” and the rest Toblerone had to take over. The Vet met with us and through tears, we asked her to let us take him home but she recommended not to do that because he had a seizure the night before and they wanted to keep him alive until we arranged his euthanization. Ugh. “Keep him alive.” Double Ugh.

When we went back to see him in ICU…omg…I can’t even describe how awful it was. There were surgeries going on in the middle of the room and all around were cages full of sick dogs. When we got to Harley he lifted his head up, looked at us and laid back down. I couldn’t believe that we were seeing our boy in this situation. It was unreal and maybe the jet lag didn’t help or the pregnancy hormones for that matter.. He didn’t want to eat and there were catheters and tubes hooked up to him all over the place. At this point, I still had not come to terms with the fact that we had to let him go.

We arranged for a home euthanization the following afternoon and as Tobi brought him home in the snow, he put him in the grass one last time to feel the snow on his paws. My heart was crushed watching him carry him inside for the last time.

The Vet gave him a steroid to hopefully keep him going and seizure-free until he got home and that alone made it seem like he was his old self! Gave him a bit more pep and when he saw me he lit up and tried to stand up to come to me.

We laid on the floor together and with his paw on my heart I told him it was ok and I was sorry for not being here for him but he was home now. And all would be ok.

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We tried to help the boys understand that they needed to say goodbye because he was going to heaven but that was the first time they heard the term “Heaven” so the concept was out the window. They patted his head and our nanny took them off to the library and out for donuts so we could say goodbye to Harley. Just us three musketeers again.

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The actual process happened so fast that I couldn’t even catch my breath. A month shy of his 9th Birthday, he was asleep and gone within seconds and I broke. I sobbed and cried asking the doctor to bring him back. As if somehow willing him with my broken heart was enough. But there he laid, peacefully on the couch in slumber like he always did in that spot. The Vet placed him on a stretcher but she put the coziest and softest blankets on him and tucked him in like a baby. He looked so peaceful and I didn’t even know what I was looking at anymore. I kissed his soft ears and watched as he was carried out to the car. I said goodbye one last time and off he went.

A week or two later we got his ashes back in a beautiful box, a clay ornament of his paw print and the first thing I did was look at his ashes. How did our beautiful 90lb boy end up as a small bag of flour? How did that happen?

Days following his passing I walked around with his favorite bear in my shirt because I couldn’t deal with life without him. I even went outside and took a walk as I always did with him at noon, imagining him there with me.

The boys watched me break down every day and would say, “Mommy sad? Mommy miss Wau Wau?” (Wauwau is what the dog says in German but that’s what they called him.) Eventually, the crying wasn’t full sobs, it was silent tears and then it shifted. The boys started to cry and ask where he was. This was worse than anything else. I had to try to put on a brave face for two little boys who didn’t understand where their dog went. And to this day, (even this morning actually) they cry for him and miss him so much.

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I ache to my bones for this dog who was my friend. He was the constant thing I had in my life and I feel guilty that since the boys came around he took the back burner. He didn’t deserve that.

 

I’m not a religious person but I hope more than anything that wherever he is he is happy. Or that he’s somewhere with me here. If there really is some sort of afterlife or rainbow bridge, I hope to meet him there one day. For now, I like to imagine him swimming, playing frisbee, eating a million snacks, and keeping a collection of his favorite sticks.

He was my very first baby and I knew that if I never had kids, he would be enough. I lost my first boy and the grief is all-consuming.

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Miss you sweet Harley Noodle Jones ButtButt.

Until next time, Readers. xoxoxoxoxo

 

 

 

 

 

Here I Go Again

It’s been ages! 3 years to be exact and I have been missing this creative outlet of mine. Life is VERY different than what it was when I first started this blog and now with more grace and perspective, I’m ready to get back up in the saddle, so to speak.

Where to begin? I’ve left you all for so long. Last you heard from me was when I had the twins and then poof…I was gone. Because let’s face it – TWINS ARE HARD! We are now in the “threenager” phase which frankly has me kicking my butt for not relishing in how easy the “terrible twos” were. I wish I could say I have a good handle on these kids but truth be told, I’m hanging on by the necks of their shirts. They are ridiculous and as the days go on I’ll be sure to let you in on all that is them and their twinado tyrants.

So do you want the good news or bad news first?

Bad news first? Well alright then.

This is bad news, actually, horrible and horrifically sad news…we had to say goodbye to our beloved Harley Noodle Jones Butt Butt. I’ll get into that in another post because he deserves his own space. But man. Losing my guy has left me utterly heartbroken and if it wasn’t for the fact that I have little humans who need me to function at full force each day, I would be on the ground in tears for eternity. He was my baby and the gaping hole in my life since he left is excruciating.

Yes, I know people lose their children and parents and that is also horrifically sad but he was my person. Furry and slobbery…my person. More on all that is Harley later though.

But we can’t just have bad news and not follow it up with good news. This is actually great news! My life clearly wasn’t hectic enough so we decided to add yet ANOTHER kid to the mix. And this time… ITS A GIRL!!! Praise baby Jesus and all the pink fluff and tulle he created!!! No, but seriously, this is my best work yet. I mean…LOOK at this face! Can you even deal?!

So I’ll be signing off for now but in a really small nutshell, that is life the last 3 years with a whole lot of other nonsense in between (which I’ll also get to.) Looking forward to getting back into the blogging world…I’ve missed it dearly! I’m hoping you all will take me back in with open arms!

Until next time, Readers!! xoxoxoxoxo

Another Day Of Spoiling

The fun continued from one party to the next! I had my awesome NY baby shower with friends and family back home and our fantastic neighbors here in Michigan threw us another great baby shower/diaper party. We’ve lived here for just a little over a year now and we have accumulated a really great “family” that is always watching out for us.

We had the baby shower with all the ladies in our home and all the men gathered at the neighbor’s house for the diaper party. It worked out perfectly and I got SO many presents (once again!) I never thought I’d be so excited to open presents for my future children and not for myself. Ha! Who knew!

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Harley even wore his fancy new collar which he got as a present from the first baby shower (Thanks Aunt Addie and Uncle John!) He was lovin hanging out with all the ladies!

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Granted I am now the size of a beached whale but my hostesses kept it organized and not too long which was great for me! I have zero energy these days and immediately had to nap after the party was over. I loved showing Toblerone all the new things we got and the adorable outfits people gave us. I mean…little khakis!! Can you get any cuter! The boys also got a few German-esque things geared towards their Dad’s favorite soccer team, FC Bayern Munich. Whether they like it or not, they are going to be fans 🙂

We can’t wait to read them books in English and in German and sing lullabies in both languages. It’s going to be a really fun experience to get them to be bilingual. Nothing cuter than kids speaking in German!

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A rubber ducky with lederhosen! I mean….how cute is that?!

Only 8 more days until their arrival! It may take me some time to get back here to write again but lo and behold…I will be back!

Until next time, Readers!!! xoxoxoxoxo

A Party For Two Very Loved Babies

I have to say that had we become pregnant in Germany, I would not have the pleasure of experiencing a real deal Baby Shower of my own. As most of you know they do not throw Baby Showers in Germany partially because it’s just not their tradition but the other idea is because they are superstitious about bringing gifts to a baby before he/she is born. Its considered bad luck!

A while ago I threw a party in Germany for a friend who was expecting. Giving her the whole experience of an American Baby Shower!  Go check it out if you missed it!

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So, I was just ecstatic that the people I love were willing to throw me my own special party for these two little nuggets. Toblerone and I traveled to upstate NY to my family’s home right before Thanksgiving. The drive was atrocious…9 hours in a car with thigh high compression socks is not particularly the most comfortable way to go! But we arrived and were just so excited to be back with family! People came from all over and even from out of state to visit us! My brother and his clan came from West Virginia and my Aunt and Uncle and cousin came from Pennsylvania! I mean….THATS what I call love!!

My mom’s house was decorated in my absolute favorite theme: nautical! We decided to have this as a Jack and Jill party as well so we could see all of our friends and family at one time. People brought diapers for a diaper raffle and gifts as well. These boys are SPOILED!

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It was just so amazing to be around family and to show them the belly we waited so long to have! Granted, I’ve now tripled in size since then!

We got so many amazing gifts and of course Toblerone was out of this world excited when he got his very own gift for the boys! Thank you to all our friends and family who came and gave us gifts for these boys. We are just so grateful! Having twins is certainly not cheap!!!

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Until next time, Readers!!! xoxoxoxo

 

A Big Time Out – But I’m Back

So it’s 4am here in Michigan and I decided to write a bit as I sit here in the dark on the couch. Time got away from me since I last wrote. I announced to the world we are having twins and then life just started to fly by!

I am now 33 weeks along and I look gigantic. Now it’s just a matter of trying to keep these little babies in!

In August we took a baby moon to Cape Cod and it was MUCH needed. You all know how much we love that place and I couldn’t imagine not going. It was a rough flight though. I was only about 13 weeks or so at that point but I was SO uncomfortable and the nausea…oh man. That was rough.

There is really something to be said about the healing powers of the ocean. I’m no hippy but for the first time since I found out I was pregnant, I could EAT. I even dabbled in a lobster roll 🙂 My parents were able to join us as well for the weekend which was so nice! Who knows when we will be able to do that again!

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As soon as we got back to Michigan, I was sick again. I wish I could have bottled up the ocean and brought it home with me. I’m not sure we will make it next year with the two babies so that will be hard on the heart. It will be our first time not going in over 7 years.

We went to Germany in September as a last hoorah you could say! Unfortunately, Toblerone had to work the majority of the time and I was left to my own devices. The things we planned (soccer game, Oktoberfest, etc.) were quickly shot down because of my growing belly and the risk of being around rowdy drunk people. So, we did a lot of visiting with family and catching up.

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The plane ride…oh man. Let me just tell you something. I do NOT recommend that. I was 16 weeks when we left and I was just about 18 weeks on the way back. A 9 hour flight stuck in the same position really does a number on the body. For two days it felt like my stomach was in a vice grip. Ouch. I will NEVER fly pregnant again. That crap is for the birds! However, I did it all for the Schnitzel and cake! I ate like a champ there. I definitely have two little Germans growing. All they wanted was the typical southern German fare: Fleischsalat, Schnitzel, Spaetzle, and gravy.

 

We had a great time catching up with all the family! I spent lots of time taking walks and going to lunch at Toblerone’s Omi’s house which was nice to catch up with everyone and keep my German going!

We were there during a holliday “Erntedank” that they celebrate here. It literally means “Thanksgiving” or “Thanks for the Harvest.” They are thankful for all that the world gives them. This first picture of the world and biblical friends was made from flower petals that were turned into powder and then this was “painted” somehow. Really incredible stuff. Plus they showcase vegetables and fruit that they are thankful for. It really was amazing to see in person.

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On top of all the fun, we revealed the Genders to Omi and Opi by having them open two gifts and….well…:-) Guess we gotta stock up on Lederhosen!

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Until next time, Readers!!!! xoxoxoxoxoxo

 

A Very BIG Announcement

All of you know that I was taking a few classes this summer that literally took every ounce of my spare time. But that’s not all I was up to… I was also….trying to nurse myself back to health. That’s right, I’ve been sick. All day, all night kind of sick. For WEEKS! No…MONTHS! Can’t eat, can’t sleep, can’t move, can’t function.

And the reason for this sickness???

 

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That’s right…TWO onesies…means double the fun is on the way for Toblerone and I!

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We’ve got a lot to plan for since our lives are completely going to change but we couldn’t be more excited to raise two babies! TWO, people!

Here goes nothing!

Until next time, Readers!!! xoxoxoxo