Week 1 – DNSN



Enhancing Relationship Strategies #Fail!  Wouldn’t call it an epic fail, but fail nonetheless.

The morning started out all good and then I decided I wanted to get Einstein Bagels for breakfast.  Everyone had woken up on their own WAY early so in my mind, there wasn’t going to be a problem getting ready and out he door in time.  I tried to set the stage:

Mom:  Hey kids, if we can get ready by 8am we can eat breakfast at Einstein Bagels.

Kids:  Yea!!  Alright!

So, there you go, we’re all in agreement and there are 45 minutes left for the kids to get ready.  They were dressed already so really, it shouldn’t be a problem.  AND, right at that moment I should have pulled out the tape to help keep my mouth shut.  I didn’t and here is how I failed:

Reminding:  reminded Rip that he was responsible for making his lunch/snack;  reminded Rip that we would not be coming home after bagels so if he wanted to take his backpack, he needed to get it ready before we left;

Not keeping the agreement:  45 minutes came and went.  I did not let the kids experience the consequence of not getting bagels when they weren’t ready by 8am.  It was at least 8:15 before we were out the door.

Why did I fail?  Because I was HUNGRY!  And I REALLY wanted Einstein Bagels.  I absolutely wanted that bagel so bad that I let all my interfering strategies get in the way.  And in the end, I was so dis-pleased with myself, the bagel didn’t even taste all that good.  Ugh!

Ok, I always have to find the positive in any situation – just my nature.  So here is why this day wasn’t an Epic Fail:

1.  Rip is putting his lunch and snack together on his own.

2.  Rip is remembering his backpack on his own.

3.  I am continuing to learn lessons about myself.  Which includes when I want something, I will use/do whatever to make sure I get what I want.  And when I don’t get it, I tend to pout.

4.  I was still able to observe and take note of where the kids are in their skill development and where they still need to go.

Ok.  Time to move on to the next day.  Hopefully I’ll reach for the tape before it’s too late…


No nagging, reminding, lecturing allowed!

Ok, it’s been a little over a year since we did DNSN and we’re back at it.  Just a quick reminder, this is the week where Kirk and I stop using any interfering strategies (nagging, reminding, lecturing, etc…) and focus on observing the kids and ourselves.  The point of this exercise is to break our nagging, reminding, etc… habits and focus on using enhancing strategies (more on what those are in a later post).  The other point is to take stock in where we are with our training.  What can the kids do that we have been doing for them?  What do the kids need practice with?  What do the kids need to be trained on?

So today is Day One of DNSN.  Kirk is very grateful that he is in Vegas for work for the first few days.  I am very grateful at how calm, almost zen-like I am regarding this event (last year we were basket cases!).  Kids did pretty well I must say.  AND I managed to keep my mouth shut when the urge to start reminding came up.

So, here are my observations from this morning:

– Ripken can totally make his lunch / snack on his own.  I did make his sandwich but he was in charge of the rest.

– Riley needs some training on food etiquette.  She likes to eat directly out of containers and then place partially eaten food back into said containers.

– Ripken has progressed from last year in that as he got in the car he, completely on his own, remembered that he didn’t have his backpack, snack or lunch.

– I fully expect people to be ready when I’m ready and my blood pressure rises when that doesn’t happen.  Would like to learn to get this a bit under control as I think the kids can sense my tension and it does nothing to get them moving forward.

Now it’s time to go off to the store and buy some tape for my mouth.  I promised the kids that if Kirk or I start in with the nagging, reminding, lecturing, they could tape our mouth’s shut.  And we may have to do this to ourselves at times 🙂

Today was the last day of Say Nothing, Do Nothing.  Tomorrow we get to sit down with Ripken and Riley and talk about what we have learned this week.  And we get to finally clean up our house 🙂

My plan was to get up early and run this morning, but when Riley joins us in the middle of the night (which has been happening for at least a month now), no one really gets a good night of sleep.  Training Riley to sleep through the night in her own room should really be our next big project.

Anyway, since I didn’t run, I took Camden for a walk after breakfast while Rip was watching television and Riley was getting a bath.  Unfortunately, when it was time for Camden to do his business, I realized that the poop bag dispenser that we keep on his leash was empty.   I have a real problem with dog owners who don’t clean up after their dog, so I figured I would circle back around after we got home to pick it up.

So when Camden and I got back home, I asked Rip if he wanted to go on a mission with me to find Camden’s poop.  For whatever reason, Rip gets a kick of pointing out all of Camden’s piles in the backyard when I’m doing my weekly pooper scooper chore, so he was very excited about this mission.  Of course, he was stark naked at the time (not really sure why),  and I was halfway willing to see if he would  walk out the door that way, but then he stopped and  said he had to go get some pants on.  Whew, that was close.  When he came out of his room, he had put on shorts and his Texas Longhorns football shirt.  I was so proud!

He had neglected, however, to put on any shoes or socks.  In the spirit of Say Nothing, Do Nothing, and knowing that we weren’t going very far, we started out on our mission.  And it actually turned out to be a nice little walk.  I was consciously trying to be in the present with him, and just stop and focus on what we were experiencing   We looked at some leaves on the ground, picked up some bird feathers, watched a rescue helicopter circling above Cowles Mountain, watched a man rake his front yard, and made up a story about a handprint that we saw in someone’s sidewalk.  It was very satisfying to really connect with Rip, on what could have been just another chore to get out of the way.

When we got home, Kristin and Riley were on their way to the bank, and Ripken said he wanted to go to the park to play tee ball and ride bike.  I was more than happy to oblige, and when we were getting ready, Ripken said he wanted to bring his wallet in case the ice cream truck came by.  Of course, he quickly realized that he still didn’t know where his wallet (and money) were, so he asked me if I would buy him some ice cream instead.  Now normally the first thing that we say to this kind of request is “do you have your money?”, but I don’t know if it was because we were having such a good morning or because I just felt that there probably isn’t anything wrong with a father buying his 5-year old son an ice cream at the park once in while, so I said I would.

Hmmm.  Ripken no longer seemed that interested in playing tee ball or riding bike.  He was now focused on ice cream.  Not wanting the sole purpose of the visit to the park to be about ice cream, I suggested that we wait for mommy and Riley to get home so that we could all go together.  While we were waiting, we started talking about how hard it is sometimes to remember to bring all of our stuff with us in the morning when we go to school.  I told him that I had to remember to bring things too – like keys, my wallet, and my computer.  I asked him what he needed to remember to bring, and he quickly rattled off his backpack, his lunch, his snack, and his clothes.  I had to give him a hint about his school folder, and then we both agreed that we would try hard to remember our things the next time we had to go to school and work.

I knew that I still had to pick something up at Costco for Kristin’s birthday, so I asked Rip if he wanted to go with me to get a berry smoothie.  I’ve never known him to turn down a Costco berry smoothie (or any other smoothie/slurpee/slushy-type drink) for that matter, so I told him that I would wait for him I the car while he got his shoes on.  Given the current state of our house in general (and Rip’s room in particular), I was thinking that I would be sitting in the car in the garage for at least half an hour before I would have to give up and go back inside.  But to my surprise, less than two minutes later, out comes Ripken with a big smile letting me know he had his “jet” shoes on, and we were ready to go. 

Kristin and I had been talking about taking a drive up to Julian for while, and after we all got back from our errands, today seemed like a perfect day to go.  Julian is up in the mountains about an hour east of where we live, and is famous for apple pies.  Rip slept for about 45 minutes on the drive.  Riley had already had her nap earlier that morning (fell asleep on the way to the bank).  We ended up going to a kid-friendly hiking trail just outside of Julian and had a great time.  The trail was about a mile long, and was kind of steep in places, but for the most part both kids did great.  It was really nice being outdoors and getting some exercise together as a family.  We took a ton of pictures, and had lots of fun playing and running from daddy monster.

Of course, we had to stop at one of the apple pie shops and pick up a pie before heading home.  We had still been talking about ice cream and how yummy it is with apple pie, so Ripken was very excited about getting some ice cream at the pie store.  He did, however, make it clear that he preferred his vanilla ice cream with M&M’s and sprinkles – not pie.  Unfortunately, the ice cream line was very long in the pie shop, and the pie line was much shorter, so we decided to just get the pie and told Rip we would stop and get ice cream when we got home.

Here’s the interesting thing.  For someone who seems so easily distracted by the simplest things when we’re trying to get ready for school or get out of the house, Ripken can be laser-focused when it comes to something he really wants.  And today, he really wanted ice cream.

We stopped to pick up my car from the car wash (Ripken had accidentally spilled half of his smoothie in the back seat on the way back from Costco), and I took the kids home in the minivan while Kristin drove my car to get the ice cream.  I think Rip must have asked me at least a dozen times during the drive home and after we got home when mommy was coming home with the ice cream.

So Kristin finally gets home, ice cream in hand – and Rip immediately asks her for it.  A quick side conversation ensues, and we both agree that in the spirit of Say Nothing Do Nothing, Rip is free to get ice cream if he wants it, but that mommy and daddy would not be available to help him with it until after dinner.   Well, that was all he needed to hear.  He immediately pulls the stepstool over to the counter, and asks me where we keep more bowls (since most of the kids’ bowls are still sitting dirty on the dining table from this past week).  I explained that we didn’t have any clean bowls left since he hasn’t been bringing his dishes over to the sink this week.  That didn’t deter him in the least.  He grabbed a fork out of his drawer (since there were no clean spoons left either), climbed up the stepstool, opened the ice cream lid, and started eating right out of the container with his fork – all while I’m standing there cooking dinner (and mentally putting surgical tape over my mouth).  And then he invites his sister up on the stepstool to join him, and starts fork-feeding her ice cream as well.  Oy…

He finally finished (temporarily) and went outside to see what Kristin was doing.  I took the opportunity to put the ice cream back in the freezer.  Riley took the opportunity to let me know she was none too pleased with that decision. 

And 10 minutes later, back comes Rip for round 2.   He went over to the dishwasher, found the least dirty bowl he could, walked over to the freezer, and looked at me.  I told him this was still Say Nothing Do Nothing week.  He asked if that meant he could do whatever he wanted.  I nodded yes.  And he proceeded to get the ice cream out, scoop some into a bowl (not sure where he found the spoon), and took it over to the table to eat.  He was done eating and in the garage by the time I finished dinner.  So Kristin, Riley and sat down to Sloppy Joes (apropos, given the way our house looks right now), and I put Ripken’s on top of his ice cream bowl – with very little optimism that he would actually eat it.

The rest of the evening was fairly uneventful – a couple of flare-ups when we wouldn’t respond to Ripken’s requests while we were eating, but nothing too dramatic.   I gave him his heads-up at 7pm that I would be available to read him books for the next 30 minutes, and then went back to wait for him in his room.  He came back 5 minutes later, we read two books, sang three songs, and then it was lights out.   We figured the nap to Julian would be kicking in, and Rip got out of bed shortly after we were done.  Kristin and I stayed in our bedroom while Rip (we’re assuming) played, got something to eat, and mailed a letter.  He finally fell asleep on his bed around 9pm, still wearing his Longhorns shirt – and nothing else.  Hook ‘em horns!

Probably the most incredible thing that happened today was us getting out of the house and to karate almost on time.  The incredible thing is there was zero effort on my part to get Rip ready and into the car to leave.  I simply said if we were going to karate that we had to leave in 2 minutes and that Riley and I would be waiting in the car if he chose to go.  Rip then proceeded to his room, put on his karate pants (wore his school shirt) and met us in the car.  And the only reason we were late is because I lost track of time and didn’t get the 2 minute warning until it past the time when we should have left.  Now we did manage to lose a pair of socks at karate.  Rip wore his socks into class (no shoes, just socks), took them off and never thought of them again.  I mentally waved goodbye to the socks as we left karate.  He is now down to 6 pairs of socks.  I don’t have a formal plan but I do know that I will not be paying to replace lost articles of clothing…definitely not in the budget!

Rip did sneak in a nap on the ride to karate so we are anticipating it to be a late night for him.  He did elect to have books read to him but as I left his room he asked me to “shut the door.  All the way so I hear the click.”  We can hear him playing in his room right now.  I hope he’s not up too late.  Tomorrow is Friday and I’m really routing for him to remember his backpack/lunch/folder and if he’s too tired, there’s no way that will happen.  Trying to keep the faith!

On a more fun note, on the way home from karate Rip told me about Isabella..his girlfriend!  Apparently Rip draws Isabella pretty notes at school, thinks she is ‘pretty and cool’ and Isabella thinks Rip is ‘handsome’.  Oh my!  I had so much fun listening to him tell me this!!  I was so grateful he wanted to share!

Today was a bit of a rough morning.  Everything started out normal but when it came time for me to turn the music on, Rip didn’t want me to.  For the past 2 days, as soon as the music came on Rip has been getting to his room and getting dressed.  Today, he wasn’t so interested.  I did remind him when the last song started that we would be going to school at the end of the song.  He ran up to me and said “No mommy!  I need you to start the 3 songs over!!”.

No such luck.  At the end of the song I gently walked Rip out to the car (where his clothes were waiting).  He pretty much was in a foul mood by now.  There was lots of  “I don’t like this shirt!  I want my red shirt! Go get it!”.  After a few minutes of not getting dressed, I let him know that I was going to start driving in 1 minute if he would like to sit down and get buckled.  I did have to put the car in gear and drive a short bit before he was willing to put his clothes on.  Ok, at least we’re dressed.  Unfortunately he still had no idea he didn’t have his backpack, snack or lunch with him (school folder was in the car left over from Tuesday afternoon).

Rip did remember his backpack about 10 seconds after he got out of the car.  It was at that point I had to pick up the screaming/crying 5 year old and carry him to school.  I did notice that not a single tear had come from his eyes so I can’t tell if he has some tear duct malfunction or if he was fake crying.  I’m inclined to believe it was the latter.

Drop off at the classroom was a little challenging as well.  Lot’s of “Don’t go mommy!” and clinging on to me for dear life.  Thankfully there was another boy coming in the classroom clinging to his mommy as well.  I was able to say to Rip, “Look, Cody is having a sad day too.”  That seemed to calm Rip down and he sat in his chair and let me go.  As I was leaving the room, I let the teacher know Rip wouldn’t have lunch/snack for today.  I couldn’t quite tell if I was given the evil eye or not.  I was feeling pretty bad at that point so I’m thinking yes, there was a definite evil eye coming from the teacher.  Oh well, she’s only in my life for this one year.  Rip is in my life forever…and he is WAY more important!

Well if nothing else, both kids were pretty tired today and went to bed without any resistance.  Much to my surprise, the house is significantly worse off after this afternoon.  Rip located a sheet that was sent home from school where if he cuts out 10 box tops and tapes them to the sheet he will get 2 tickets for the halloween carnival at the end of the month.

Rip took it upon himself to search the entire kitchen to locate box tops.  He proceeded to dump out the box contents and cut out the box tops.   Thankfully he was kind enough to put most of the contents in zip lock bags and back on shelves…unfortunately not everything made it back.  He ended up with 7 of the 10 box tops cut out and pasted on his sheet.  Of course I’m completely new to this school thing and just learned that ‘box tops’ doesn’t mean the UPC code on purchased items but means a special box tops logo only on General Mills products.  Not a single UPC code that Rip cut out is a box top.   We usually buy generic stuff too so it could be pretty difficult for him to get those 10 box top logos.  Ugh…I so hate to be the bearer of bad news after all the effort he put into cutting those boxes!!  I just went to check our food supply and we do have about 5 boxes in the house that qualify.  We’ll see if how excited he is to do a repeat performance.

What else.  The kids watched about 5 hours worth of TV today.  I am absolutely sure I have some pretty strong beliefs about kids who watch that much TV and the parents that allow it.  Will definitely need to sort through that!  Meanwhile, I kept to my do nothing, say nothing and let it happen.  Of course that was a benefit to me with the kids glued in front of the TV like zombies…I got an AMAZING amount of stuff done.  So much stuff that I’m not sure what to do with myself now.  Guess I’ll start catching up on my Daily Shows.

Oh one other thing to note, for the first time in I don’t know how long, I was actually able to carry a conversation on the phone without one or both of the kids instantly needing my attention.  And it definitely wasn’t due to the TV watching…they have a sixth sense about the phone…can come running even before the first ring or just as I start dialing.  Today, I was on the phone, in front of them, and they just did their own thing – making lots of messes :-).

I’m looking forward to seeing how tomorrow goes.  Rip’s backpack and it’s contents are strewn across the dining room floor.  Including his permission slip for a field trip.  Haven’t decided what to do with that yet.  It’s not due for another week so I’ll probably just let it lie there until we’re out of do nothing, say nothing.

One last thing to note.  Bedtime.  Riley fell asleep in my arms tonight…clearly she was tired.  I gave Rip notice that after watching an episode of Arthur I would be available to read him books.  Rip went for the book reading.  Two surprising things happened:  1.  Rip on his own, no mention from me, brushed his teeth before books.  This is the kid that has not brushed his teeth since Monday morning…two days ago!!!  I think he attempted to floss too but I didn’t want to hover so I’m not sure if that actually took place.  2.  While reading books, Rip mentioned once ‘Night Night’ – that’s his security blanket.  I continued to read and Rip didn’t feel the need to go get his blanket or mention it again.  I’m pretty sure this is the first time Rip has voluntarily gone to sleep without his blanket.  I’m pretty sure there’s something to be learned here too.  Wondering if he is feeling more secure with himself…has this independence brought on a whole new level of confidence?  Of course, he still wanted nothing to do with pull ups so I will be sneaking in there shortly to suit him up and protect that mattress!

This morning was a little tough.  Not because we were having any particular troubles with Rip getting ready, but because I got a crappy night of sleep and when I’m tired…oh, am I grouchy!

Rip actually came out of his room on his own this morning.  I don’t think it was because he just woke up from being so well rested, I think it had to do with his sister who is incredibly vocal and LOUD!  My goodness, this child could wake up the dead!  Anyhow, he went about doing whatever he wanted to do (mainly watch Dragon Tales on PBS).  At 7am he was given the 15 minute notification.  He elected to start watching Sesame Street.  At 7:15 came the, it’s time to start the songs.  I got a ‘No!  I’m watching Sesame Street!”  I DID NOT engage!!  I just went on my merry (actually, not so merry this morning) way.  Rip got up went to his room and got dressed.  Came out in what appeared to be clean clothes (although I think the underwear was forgotten again) and announced he was dressed and ready for breakfast.  Kirk & I said ‘OK’ and went on doing our stuff.  Rip selected pretzels and cheese for breakfast.  The last song ended and I announced it was time for school and headed out to the car.

In the car, Rip noticed his backpack was in the car and asked if I had brought it to the car.  I kindly informed him that it never left the car yesterday.  That’s when the wheels started turning.  He quickly put together that his lunch and snack must not be in the backpack, then ran into the house to get his stuff.  I then asked him if he wanted to put stuff in his backpack right then or when we got to school.  He elected at school.  By now we are a little behind schedule.  When we parked at school, Rip put his lunch/snack into his backpack.  He did forget his school folder but certainly was not going to forget his extra shirt that he wore to school yesterday.  And no mini-saves from me today.

Anyhow, we did not get to school in time to do the run program and yes Rip was upset but got over it quickly.  He saw a couple of friends and decided it was time to change his ‘top shirt’.  It was at that moment I realized that Rip was wearing the same shirt he wore yesterday…his new beloved Batman shirt.  Now yesterday, the Batman shirt was clean.  Today, it was covered in dirt and food.  I especially liked the chocolate milk stains on his sleeve…from where he wiped his mouth.  UGH!  Cleanliness is high on my ‘training needed’ list.

Rip did get a bit clingy when the bell rang to go to class.  I did my best to not engage but it was pretty hard when he was literally hanging on to me.  I didn’t see the teacher to signal for her to rescue me but I did after just a moment manage to get Rip to let go and head into class.

He just walked in the door after school.  I’m sure we’ll have some more fun things to go through this afternoon.

By the way, I am completely done with living in an incredibly messy house.  Yes I’m less stressed in terms of how I interact with the kids.  But I work out of the house and I’m done with hanging out in the filth.  Really can’t wait till we can clean up on Sunday!!

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