the connection

It all started on December 7, 2013.  After the circus.  I decided once and for all to get serious about not yelling at my kids. It doesn’t feel good. I love them and they need to know that, even when they aren’t acting very lovable.  Especially when they aren’t acting very lovable.

I vowed no more yelling.  Then I yelled on January 7th. Exactly one month later and just one short week into the year. I yelled on February 8th. Not as intensely, but the trick to knowing if it “counts” or not is if it feels bad.  Truthfully, it felt bad.

On March 2nd, I posted this on the Yell-Free Year Challenge group’s wall on Facebook:

I yelled on December 7th.
Then again on January 7th.
Then once more on February 8th.
I will make it more than one month.  I WILL make it more than one month.

I got so many supportive comments and such positive feedback for my success so far.  One person pointed out at this rate, that’s only 12 yells a year.  True, that doesn’t sound so bad, but my goal was zero. Someone else pointed out that in the last 3 months – 90 days – I had only yelled 3 days.  87 yell-free days. Good point.

I felt confident.  One of the last comments asked if my yelling was related to my PMS…hmm.  I looked at the dates again and noticed the pattern and shrugged, sure that it was merely coincidence and that I just had a 30 day tolerance limit before my head popped off.  One side effect of my birth control is irregular cycles and I’m terrible about tracking/remembering so I just assumed I was irregular. But maybe I need to pay more attention.

Because I started on March 8th.
And I yelled on March 9th.

The scene:  Theo was in time-out for talking back and telling us no repeatedly.  We were eating lunch and sitting 20 feet from time-out. He continued shouting and being disrespectful from time-out with the intention to push our buttons.  Job well done, because I reached my boiling point and bolted out of my chair and over to time out.  I squatted down, eye level with him and shouted “STOP IT!! Just STOP!!!!!”

I turned and walked back to my seat with shame in my heart and embarrassment on my face. Looked at Ryan and said, “I guess I can’t make it past 30 days.”  Then I remembered the question about my cycle and literally felt this connection happening between my mind and my body.

It hit me, maybe she was right. Maybe my tolerance is not thirty days, but maybe my tolerance is just lower while my hormones are out of whack.  Maybe the trick is getting a better handle on myself ahead of time. Preparing mentally for these situations might be the key.  I have to increase my ability to ignore toddler/pre-schooler behavior and be the bigger person.  I have to keep in mind that I cannot be disappointed in a 2 or 4 year old with out of control emotions when that is the very thing that I have modeled for them.  I have to remain calm when I am upset.  Or tired.  Or moody.

So I’ll say it again….and I will believe it again. Because I will try harder. Again.

I will make it more than 30 days.
I WILL make it more than 30 days.

Because don’t these two deserve the best me I can be?


restarting the clock.


I know everyone slips up, but I feel like a failure… again.  I made it exactly a month without yelling and it felt great.  Now I remember why I wanted to stop – this is a sad, pathetic feeling.  So by January 7, I’d already messed up on my most important resolution.

I’m certainly not trying to justify it, but I want to remember it.  I want to remember the way I felt afterwards for inspiration to do better next time. It was our fourth day of being snowed in, which in itself was not a bad thing. We’ve had plenty of toys and games and movies to keep busy.  Plenty of food eat and no reason to brave the scary roads or arctic temps.

Things took a turn for the worse yesterday when the boys refused to take a nap. They just played and goofed off in their room for 2 hours. By that point it was already almost 3pm so I wanted to keep them up for a decent bedtime since it’s back to real life today. By 5:30, Dexter was asking for warm milk (which means he thinks it’s bedtime). He was falling apart at the seams. Theo was fine until we turned his movie off and transitioned to the library for story time.  He chose a huge Marvel encyclopedia and had Ryan talking to him about different characters for 10 minutes while I read two books to Dex.  By the time we finished up, Theo had decided the Marvel book was “boring” and wanted to choose two new books.

Uh uh.


We told him he could choose one other book, but that he’d made his first choice and was not bored with it for 10 minutes so that counted as one of his picks.  He started crying immediately, whining that he didn’t like it and that it was boring. We said ONE BOOK. He said two. One. TWO! And so on.  Finally it turned into us saying zero books, at which point he really lost it.  We ushered him towards his bedroom and bathroom to start brushing teeth, etc. and he ran into his room and started hitting a canvas picture on his wall. I raised my voice and said “Stop!” out of caution and alarm but he continued. The picture fell off of the wall and hit him on top of his head (don’t freak out, it weighs a few ounces). It startled him but didn’t hurt him.  I grabbed it as it was falling and put it back up on the wall.  I picked Theo up by his armpits and carried him down the hall to the chair in the corner. Sternly but calmly, I said “Time out for hitting your picture!” and sat him in the chair. I turned my back to set the timer and before I could turn back around, I heard things falling over the sound of his screaming. He was standing on the chair, pulling papers and pins off of the bulletin board.

That was it. I don’t know why that set me off. I don’t know why that put me over the edge. I don’t know why I snapped. But I did.

I’m not even 100% sure what I said. All I know was that I was in his face, shouting, and I couldn’t stop myself. I didn’t even think about not yelling or try to prevent it.  I’m sure there are a million things I could have done differently, like just let him have the dumb 2nd book from the get-go.  But that’s what I did.  I got in my little boy’s face and yelled at him. Because I’m bigger than he is. Because he made me mad. Because I can’t manage my own emotions when I’m tired… yet I expected him to.

Fail, fail, fail, fail.

Normally when he’s in time out, we will start the timer and walk away so we are not giving him attention, but I knew I couldn’t trust him.  I stood and watched him (towering over him of course — why, why, why didn’t I just sit down?). He cried. He begged for 1 story. He said he was so sorry.  He begged me, “talk to me, mommy! Why won’t you talk to me?”  But I remained silent.  I waited for the timer to buzz and asked him why he was in time out.  He didn’t even remember. He said “because I said no.”  I explained to him why he went to time out and why his behavior was dangerous.  He continued crying throughout tooth brushing and getting into bed.  He cried while I sang Dexter 4 bedtime songs and declined when I offered to sing him songs as well.  He cried that he wanted to sleep with us.  We told him we were not ready to go to bed.  He said he didn’t care and that he just wanted to sleep in our bed.

This is when the gut-wrenching “what do I do” thoughts crept in.  Is he crying now because he’s still tired? Because I broke his heart? Because he’s scared (from the movie he watched)? Is it a stalling tactic to stay up longer? Is it attention-seeking?  Would it help or hurt us in the future if we give in?

I kissed him and told him goodnight and left the room.  Ryan stayed and talked to him a little longer but the crying continued.  Ryan came out and it wasn’t long before we heard through the monitor “daaaa-deeeee! Daaaaa-deeeeeee!”  Ryan went back and laid with him until he fell asleep. Compromise I guess.

I shed a few tears.  I feel really sad and guilty about it. I’m disappointed in myself not only for yelling, but for only making it one month without yelling and only 7 days into 2014.  I’m moving on. Today is a new day.  Today I will not yell.  I will review my alternatives to yelling and try something new when I begin to feel frustrated. Every day is a learning opportunity.

The Orange Rhino says:

Changing is hard.
Not yelling is hard.
Making a promise to do the above, is hard.
Mistakes will happen.
Moving forward and achieving my goal will only be harder if I don’t forgive myself along the way; if I don’t love myself along the way.
So love myself more, forgive myself more, I will.


First of all, Happy New Year!  I hope this year is better than the last and brings each of you much happiness and success.  There’s no reason for this time of year to be the only time of year to make a positive life change. However, it seems kind of like a clean slate so each January, we all think of ways to improve ourselves and our lives.  Whether you call it a resolution, a goal, or just a hope, I wish you the best of luck and hope that you are able to remain dedicated to what’s important to you.

For me, in 2014, I am focusing on a few areas in my life.  
Health & Fitness
Last year, I met my goal of losing 20-24 pounds and staying in that range.  I’m really proud and excited about my continued success but I know that I will not be able to maintain that success without continued action and caution.  During the month of December, I enjoyed a few too many sweets and threw caution to the wind as far as my diet was concerned, knowing that I’d be buckling down again in January.  I started running last year and I hate it. But I love it.  It seems I do best when I challenge myself and have to beat a personal goal.  This year (am I really saying this!?) I intend to run 300 miles in 2014.  Why 300?  I tossed a few ideas and numbers around in my head.  My thought with 300 miles is this… 6 miles per week for 50 weeks.  If I run 2 miles, three times a week, I will have 2 weeks when I don’t have to run at all.  That is a pretty tight schedule and if I get behind, I’m screwed.  I’m hopeful that my own fear of failure to meet my goal will keep me on track.  I might run 3 miles twice a week.  Or maybe there will be weeks when I run 3 miles four times.  I don’t know how this will work out.  All I know is that the more I run, the easier it should get.  The further I should be able to run.  What this doesn’t take into account is sickness or vacations or holidays or injuries.  I can’t predict the future but I think if I am dedicated, this is possible.  I think this will be my most challenging goal of 2014.
While I don’t think this will be my most difficult goal for 2014, I think it is the most important.  After what happened on December 7, I decided to stop yelling at my kids.  Since then, I’ve only “yelled” once, and I’m not sure that counts. Truly not trying to justify it, but I was yelling out of panic, not anger. Dexter started wadding up a map from one of their books that was certainly not the trash he was about to turn it into.  I told him to stop, but he didn’t hear me over the enormous sound of paper crinkling so my voice quickly escalated into a yell, as I shouted “stop! Stop! STOP!”  He stopped.  I looked up at Ryan like a deer in headlights and said “does that count??!”  This was on December 16.  I haven’t yelled since then!  On Sunday, Theo lied several times about something insignificant and it was really making me angry because I knew the truth.  If I hadn’t already committed to no more yelling, I think I would have lost it.  Instead, I put my hand on his shoulder and got down on his level.  I said very calmly, “you’re not telling the truth and mommy is getting really upset.  I don’t want to yell at you so I need you to listen to what I’m about to say.  Are you listening?”  He nodded.  I already felt myself calming down.  “Theo, I need for you to go sit on your bed until you are ready to tell the truth.”  He did.  It worked.  There was absolutely no reason for me to yell.  It’s degrading to the small, innocent person I’m yelling at and it makes me feel like the worst parent alive.  No more yelling.  Please look up the Orange Rhino Challenge for more information.  Since learning about this, I began following a Positive Parenting: Toddlers and Beyond group on FB, which has already posted so many useful tips and interesting articles about the potential damage that yelling can cause.  Eye opening, really. 
I did Project 365 in 2012 for about 3 1/2 months.  The goal being to increase the amount of pictures I’m taking, to take pictures of different things, to improve my photography skills and abilities, and to increase the likelihood that I will force myself to spend some time sorting and organizing my photos into something meaningful (aside from a space eating monster on our external hard drive).  I’ve gotten super lazy about taking pictures of the boys unless there’s some occasion to do so.  The best pictures I’ve taken have been of ordinary moments and I’m hoping to capture some of those again in 2014.  So, I’ve agreed to participate in Project 365. My friend Mindi has promised to encourage me along the way, since she just wrapped up a successful Project 365 in 2013.  I can do this!  I will take at least one photo every day and post one picture that represents each day of 2014 in weekly posts.  Wish me luck – this will be tough for me to keep up with!
The things that I mentioned in the previous post are still important to me and will continue to be a work in progress, but as far as “resolutions” are concerned, this is it.  Three.  Running 300 miles.  365 days of no yelling.  Successfully completing Project 365.  
Will you join me in any of these?  What are your goals or resolutions for 2014?