Summer crafts ~ Necklaces

This is a simple craft meant to help fine motor skills. We made cereal necklaces with twine and half of a pipe cleaner.

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I cut a pipe cleaner in half and twisted it around the end of the twine to make a ‘needle.’ The needle made it easier to thread, and I used it as the latch when we finished the necklaces. This kept me from needing to tie it and possibly creating a strangulation hazard (I may worry a bit much about those, but who ever regrets being careful?)

My son loved making them too but ate them one by one as he got them on the strand. At least he got fine motor skill practice in ;)

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Preschool Issues ~ Distractions

I am a plain person. I have to intentionally choose to wear colors in my wardrobe, my rather boring taste prefers to wear black and white or brown and tan. When it comes to teaching, I would just prefer to dish out facts and let the students memorize them.

That is not how I teach my children for the most part though. I have learned that it is fun to learn while playing.

But………

I am starting to realize that some pre-made flash cards and educational books are more distracting than educational.

While teaching my son the alphabet a few months ago, I was using flash cards. These flash cards contained both upper and lower case letters and a picture. My son would often see the picture and gladly tell me what the picture was, or make the corresponding animal noise.

We have had similar concentration issues with workbooks my daughter likes to work in and even some ‘educational’ TV programs. Adelle (3) is able to read three letter words, but when her curriculum gave her books full of words she could read, she was overwhelmed. She wanted to guess the words based on the picture (which is a good skill but distracting at this age), and she felt intimidated by the sheer amount of words.

That is not to say that learning should always be plain, boring and straight to the point, but why not sometimes just show them what we would like them to learn without the distractions?

I made Index Card flash cards of the alphabet for my son. He still enjoys playing with them, but we could move through the cards quicker and he learned what we sat down to learn a lot faster.

When I took every word from the three books she can read and put them in flash cards, she was able to read them all. No guessing, no distractions, no talking about a story or character (we read several stories a day, but I prefer to do one task at a time), just joy and satisfaction over every word she managed to read.

I know, its boring to use index cards. It is one-dimensional learning. We learn other things in very creative ways (we’ll have to share more of the fun things!), but is it all bad to sometimes just get straight to the point?

I’m sure my children are not the only distract-able preschoolers! How have you handled distractions? Is there a benefit I am missing?

Parenting Strategy ~ Reconciliation

We have time for lots of craziness!

We have time for lots of craziness!

Kids do things they are not supposed to. It is inevitable. Children are independent humans with a mind and will of their own. How parents handle these issues is not really a concern of mine. There are a several different strategies for teaching children to obey and handling disobedience, but I thought I’d share what we do AFTER handling issues.

Simply put, we just give them another opportunity to obey. We start over.

Let’s say we told my daughter that she should go into her room and play. Instead of going on her merry way, she complains and whines. Even if she is still on her way to her room, we handle her attitude and then start over. We tell her exactly (or close:) to what we told her before and give her a chance to respond appropriately.

If my son were to snatch or yank a toy from his sister we would address his actions and then set up the situation again. We would give his sister the toy and have him ask nicely.

Its like a reset button.

My husband and I feel like this helps the children to handle any guilt, shame or bad feelings of doing something they are not supposed to. Whenever my husband and I have to address behavior, after we handle it, it is forgiven and is as if nothing ever happened. Giving the children a chance to try again helps them see that in us. When we start over, we are calm, and use the same tone of voice and body language as we did before.

Sometimes we have to ‘reset’ several times before we get the right response, but it always ends well. The child has reconciled his or her actions and our relationship with the child is also strengthened. By helping him or her make things right, they never have to go away feeling guilty, embarrassed, angry, upset, or feeling like they got away with something. All of which could interfere with our relationship, even if for a short time.

In the instance of my daughter whining about going to her room to play, allowing her to change her attitude and try again, frees her to go in her room and enjoy it. If we would have told her to have a better attitude and that was all, she would continue to sulk and would not be able to enjoy her room right away.

This is just a routine thing in our home, and we don’t give it much thought, but one day my daughter did something she was not supposed to and I addressed it and kept working on dinner. I do not remember what it was since it was several months ago, but she was a little distraught when I did not give her a chance to reconcile and asked rather politely, “Aren’t you going to let me try again?”

“Yes, of course,” Was my happy response, I remember that much.

Being able to reset is also like practicing obedience. We have been able to break many habits by just having the children say or do the right thing. For instance, my son is almost broken of answering questions with, “yeah.” We prefer him to say, “Yes,” “Yes, Mommy,” or “Yes, sir,” anything really that is more respectful. (although I heard recently that this is only a concern in the South, so if you think I’m crazy, I’ll admit that I do call my son, “sir” and my daughter, “ma’am,” so the expectation is hardly one sided! :)

When JJ answers, “yeah,” we don’t say anything that would make him feel bad we just politely say, “Yes, Mommy,” or whatever it was he should have said. He usually repeats it excitedly, and we continue on with the conversation or activity.

We do the same with “I want” sentences and questions that are not asked politely. The practice has been worlds of help. In many situations we do not even have to address wrongdoing, we just help them correct it.

When it comes to parenting, I don’t want what is easiest for them or me. I want what is best, and that is not always what is easiest, but I believe this habit definitely makes life easier both in the short and long term. I have expressed this sentiment in several posts, but one of the most important things in the world to me is letting my children know that they can do anything. Allowing them a chance to reconcile their behavior shows them that they can obey; they can do what is best. It shows them that doing what is nice is a wonderful feeling. Practicing obedience shows them that their parents have full confidence in their ability to do what is right and that we are behind them, helping them and guiding them.

Kidversations ~ Mommy Milk

My two and three year old came to my bed first thing in the morning. It was the first morning they woke at home after their sister was born. The baby awoke and I thought nothing of nursing her with my daughter there. She saw me nurse her brother for a year, and she used to pretend to breastfeed her dolls.

She must’ve forgotten because her eyes grew huge as I prepared the baby for a latch.

“Mommy! What are you doing?!”

I was dumbfounded and searched for the right response while she continued,

“That makes people weird, Mom!”

I explained how babies get their milk and we spent some time together while baby fed. Several times she kept shaking her head saying things like, “we get milk from cups and bowls.” She was trying to process this strange phenomenon.

A few minutes later she says, “I’m thirsty, may I have some milk.” Then a worried look spread across her face, “Um…Can I have my milk in a cup?”

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Josephine Lily

“You’re hurting me!” I called out to the midwife, upset about her interfering with my concentration. After all, I was busy trying to birth a baby, what was so important that second?

“That’s not me Honey, that’s your baby.” She calmly responded.

“Well get it out!”

Just a few hours before this crucial moment, I was laboring in my living room convinced I was experiencing another bout of prodromal labor. From 34-35 weeks I had experienced contractions similar to early labor and as the weeks passed they got stronger and closer together. From 38 weeks they felt as strong as transition contractions from my last delivery and were spaced 7-15 mins apart. These episodes happened several times a week and were as long as 10 hours long. I never got so close that I had to call the midwife, but there were several days we made sure things were ready, just in case.

I experienced two days of prelabor with contractions 7-8 minutes apart the day before (Thurs) and the day (Fri) I had my membranes stripped. Each night they spaced out at 10 and 11 pm.

I had been praying that I would go into labor on my own, and should have been relieved when the midwife decided to allow me one more day before breaking my water (bringing me to 42 weeks and 1 day). Instead, I was feeling hopeless, tired and frustrated. I was ready to be finished and had lost sight of my desire for a spontaneous delivery.

I, again, felt like I was in labor all day Saturday, but they stayed at 7-8 minutes apart. My emotions that day ranged from excited that I could be going into labor on my own to distraught that I could be experiencing false labor at 42 weeks. Around 7pm the contractions started to space out to 10 and even a few were at 15 minutes apart. I was getting disappointed and was very worried about having my water broken the next morning (I was GBS+ and it poses a bit of a risk, maybe not much, but I’m no risk taker!).

My sweet husband suggested I relax so the contractions could space a bit more and I could get some sleep before the induction. He filled every pot we own and boiled water to fill our tub (we have a small water heater :), he cleaned the bathroom, filled the room with scented candles, dimmed the lights and sent me to relax.

I relaxed all right! But my contractions became 3 minutes apart almost instantly (I didn’t time them long because I was sent to relax, not watch a clock :). They did not feel nearly as strong while I was in the warm water, so I stayed where I was until I could not bear it anymore.

We called the midwife when the contractions were averaging 3-4 minutes apart (but were ranging from 1.5 minutes to 7 minutes and were almost all 2 mins long, so much for a normal labor pattern!). We arranged to meet at the birthing center at 11:30 pm (and hour from when I called).

When I arrived I was praying that I was at least a 5; I wanted to be in active labor or I did not know how I would handle ‘real’ labor. I checked in at 7.5 and was given a nice room to labor in. I tried to labor in the warm birthing tub.

When I first arrived at the birthing center

When I first arrived at the birthing center

For whatever reason, I could not relax in the tub, so I put my dress back on and labored while standing, rocking and swaying. Sometimes even singing to my playlist. My mother in law and husband were with me so I talked in between and during contractions. I found the best way for me to cope was to relax and pretend like nothing was happening. I even told my husband to keep the conversation going.

I asked to be checked at 12:30 am, and was at 9, and I felt ready to move on to the next stage. I knew it best to wait, and labored for another hour before desperately asking the midwife, “How long does it take to get that last centimeter?”

They said if I was ready I could start pushing. My husband sat on the edge of the bed and I squatted while he supported me from behind. I told the midwife to “Get it out,” after about 10 minutes of pushing and another 10 minutes later I held my sweet Josephine Lily.

I cuddled her, nursed her, ate a small meal and took a shower. Her newborn exam showed a perfectly healthy baby born 8 lbs 15 oz and 21 inches long. We left shortly after her exam and brought our new baby home.

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Just over 2 hours old

Just over 2 hours old

Her big sister and brother are thrilled she finally came! I have two little helpers :)

Her big sister and brother are thrilled she finally came! I have two little helpers :)