Thursday, December 22, 2011

The one where I talk about bullying....

Bullying comes in many different forms, and from many different people.  We all know about physical school yard bullying and how much it can hurt our bodies. But what don't know about is the subtle bullying that comes from words.   "sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me". We've all heard that, right?  Well guess what, I'm here to debunk that.  WORDS HURT!   As much, if not more than, sticks and stones.
How do we recognize bullying with words?  Sometimes it can be hard. has some wonderful information in their article

Bullying: Know the facts about bullying, even if you don’t think bullying affects your child.

They talk about teasing and it's effects on a child.  A child can become withdrawn, not want to be around the person(even if it someone they really like). They can have self-esteem issues. They can feel like no one around them cares.  They can even feel resentment towards the person doing the teasing/bullying, even if it's a loved one.    A loved one, you ask? Yep. Sadly adults who love our children are also doing the teasing/bullying.    Why?  Well, because they have been that way their whole lives and everyone thought it was funny.   They made excuses for her.  They let her continue in order to "keep the peace."    

Well, this mama refuses to "keep the peace."  My house, and my children, are a Bully-Free Zone.   You may not bully me or my children, or my husband.  Not as long as I'm around...

So, how do we recognize bullying by teasing?   Here is how:
-The person who is being teased isn't happy about it. They may laugh, just to cover the fact that they are uncomfortable or to "fit in."
-The teasing is directly hurtful.  Covering hurtful words with a laugh and an "I'm just joking." is just as bad.  It still hurts.
-If the person is too young to understand that words hurt.   Small children can still be hurt by words, but sadly, do nothing about it.  They either can't verbalize it themselves or they have been taught to respect their elders no matter what.  This gives the adult an unfair advantage because the child cannot stick up for themselves.
-Making fun of people, even in a teasing manner, is still hurtful and not okay.
-Is the teasing tearing a person down, or lifting them up?   If it's tearing them down, it's NOT okay.   God wants us to love each other and use our words to lift them up, not tear them down. 

So, what can we do about it?    Well, we can teach our children that bullying and teasing in a hurtful manner is not okay.  Using your words to hurt others is never okay.   If you have a problem with someone, bring it to them directly. Don't use bullying/teasing as a way to retaliate or make your ways known.  

What can we do if we see someone who is bullying/teasing others?  STOP BEING QUIET ABOUT IT!  STOP MAKING EXCUSES FOR THAT PERSON!  There is no reason at all that the person doing the bullying/teasing needs to continue.    It doesn't matter if that person is  8 or 108, it's still not okay.   That person needs to learn a new way to communicate with others. If the only way she can communicate with others is by teasing/tearing them down, then I think maybe some counseling is in order because she has some serious problems of her own.    Be it self-esteem issues or a way of getting attention, or because it makes themselves feel like a bigger, better person, whatever it is. It's not okay.    

Kids Health has a wonderful article on teasing and what to do about it.   It's behavior that must be unlearned once it's been learned. It's behavior that needs to stop before it even gets started.  

If you have anything to add, or any comments, I'd love to hear them.


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The one where I talk about Shaming..

Actually, I have asked a wonderful gentle mom and fellow blogger, peaceondarknights, to do a guest post for me.  Shaming is something I try  my hardest to avoid while raising my boys.    And wether it comes from me, their father, grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends or strangers, it all has the same effect.

Shame is an insidious thing.  It can be so subtle and be conveyed by such culturally acceptable phrases, that we might not even realize we are doing it or the message it is sending to our children.   Some parents who would never dream of spanking, still find shaming to be a perfectly acceptable way to show their displeasure or get a point across to their kids.  Some parents, like myself, recognize shaming for the monster it is, but still occasionally spit out pat phrases of disgust rather than thinking through more uplifting and appropriate things to say.  

Here are a few phrases I see used, why I object to their use, and some alternative things to say:
Bad boy!  I usually see this directed at toddlers, doing normal toddler things.  Regardless of your opinion on the inherent goodness or lack thereof in humans as a whole, a 2 year old getting into the cookie jar or decorating the bathroom with toilet paper is not being *morally bad.*  Usually they are being inquisitive or exploring their environment.  They are little scientists, discovering their world and figuring out what will happen if they drop their food on the floor.  Does it make a sound?  How fast does it go?  Does it splatter?
At any age, even disobedience or moral wrongs are not helped by the vague proclamation that the child is bad.  All it does is tell the child that their entire human worth is wrapped up in this one mistake.  If it is used frequently, it tells them that their worth is wrapped up in these series of mistakes that they just keep making no matter how hard they try.  Wait.... they make mistakes!  That makes them so fully..... human.  As an adult human, I certainly can relate to how awful I feel when someone berates me and how much better I respond when someone takes the time to gently show me a better way.    

Depending on the age of the child and the issue being addressed, some alternatives are to explain to the child the problem with what they are doing, express how you feel about what they did, redirect them to something more appropriate or work with them to brainstorm ways they can do what they want to do in a more acceptable way.  State clearly what you want them to do "Leave the cookies in the jar," rather than attacking their character.    

What on earth were you thinking?!  I find myself spitting this one out without thinking sometimes.  What I really mean is "I just found this mess and I'm shocked and frustrated!"  or "If you had thought this through/used your brain/ thought about how this would affect me you wouldn't have done it."  The first can be much better expressed by saying exactly what I mean and saying how I feel about the situation.  The second is demeaning.  It insinuates that the child is stupid or careless.  I am so glad that today when I closed my husband's online tv show he had loading when I only meant to close the page I was browsing, that he didn't insinuate I was being careless.  How often do we as adults do things that fail to take into account how someone else will feel about it, not out of maliciousness, but maybe because we simply don't know that they have a preference?  Children lack forethought and impulse control because that is the way God designed them to develop.  If those areas of their brains were mature, they wouldn't need parents.  No amount of trying to make them feel stupid, careless or bad is going to force their brains to develop faster.  What it can do is cause them to feel stupid, careless and bad for the rest of their lives. 

Again, the best way to express frustration, is simple to state your own feelings.  It is important to distinguish between feelings and judgments.  "I feel like you were being careless when you broke my necklace" isn't actually a feeling at all.  It's a judgement about what you think the other person was doing and thinking (or not thinking).  "I feel frustrated/sad/upset that you broke my necklace," lets the child know that their actions do affect other people.  When all they hear is your judgement, they will probably think you are attacking them and get defensive.  If they hear your feelings and are of an age where they have developed some empathy, they will be more inclined to respond appropriately.   A great book on this subject is Nonviolent Communication. 

Your brother always.... why can't you be more like him?  The comparison.  No two people are alike and if we were all the same, what a boring world it would be.  So telling one child to be more like the other, does not help him become a better person.  It hinders him from becoming the person HE is supposed to be.

Instead of comparing two children, imagine how you would respond if this child was the only one you knew.  How can you build this child up in his unique gifts and abilities?    

Shame, shame (complete with the finger motions).  This one does not even try to disguise itself as something other than what it is- shame.  It is blatantly telling the child that they should feel ashamed of what they have done and can even be done in a mocking way.  I think it is very important to distinguish between guilt and shame.  Guilt is internal and comes from our conscious or the Holy Spirit prodding us to do things differently.  Guilt is a natural, God-given feeling that arises when we do something wrong.  When experienced by an emotionally healthy person, it pushes them towards repentance and restitution.  It is the impetus for changing their behavior TO something better.  Shame, on the other hand, is external.  It is the voice of someone outside ourselves saying that we *should* feel bad, wrong, and dirty for what we have done.  It is embarrassment and fear of what someone else thinks and creates a desperation to get AWAY from the bad feelings, without any goal of where to go.  A child who hears a lot of messages of shame, blatant or subtle, can fail to learn to hear their own conscious and instead learn to use the approval or disapproval of others as their guide for what is right and wrong.     

Again, this only tells the child what not to do and that he should feel bad for doing it.  Imagine that you were just teleported to another planet.  You don't know their customs or their language and you have to figure everything out as you go.  Would it be helpful for them to look at you in disgust and shame you every time you made a mistake?  Or would you appreciate if someone took the time to show you their customs?  Kids don't want to do things that other people will be angry or sad about.  They want to figure out how to get along in this world and often even when they know intellectually, their impulse control and physical ability has not yet caught up to make it possible.  Show them how the world works, explain to them why, and work with them to find solutions to problems.    

Friday, December 9, 2011

The great birthday extravaganza!!!!!!

So, my sweet little boy turned two today.  Two years ago I was lying in a hospital bed recovering from a c-section and nursing my sweet, gorgeous baby boy.    Look at this beautiful face!  

Now, two years later, he is this big beautiful bundle of fun.

Because I like to make their actual birthday special, I decided to throw a small party at a local park.. It was fun.  Some friends, some family and good old fashioned party fun.   Cupcakes(which Samuel and I made together), some balloons and lots of playtime.  Which also means, lots of pictures. :)  

He wasn't too sure about the birthday singing.  He seemed a bit scared.  And he wasn't too sure about the candles.  He wouldn't blow them out.  I guess we better work on that. OOPS.

But this?  THIS was fun!  More leaves than he has ever seen and he gets to play in them all, as much as he wants.

Mima and Papa came tonight too.  They brought a gift with them.  Can you see it? It has wheels.  Awesome.....

It's a hit. He loves it.  Totally cool.

So I brought out the new-to-us toy food that a friend at church gave us.   That was a huge hit. He loves it!   Oh, and that scarf?  Mima made that.  One for him and one for Cias. :)

Now this is what I call a happy birthday boy.  He had a wonderful day of playing and partying and eating whatever he wanted.  He even got one of his favorite foods for dinner-PIZZA!!!

And there is more partying and more presents to open on Sunday at the big family birthday bash.  I'll let you know how that goes.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Elf Mischief!

The elves are back. They came back the weekend after Thanksgiving. And boy, oh boy, have they been busy little creatures.......

Night 1: They got into the pantry, pulled out some cans of food and made a tower.

Night 2:   Um, they slept..  I think they were tired from their trip here..

Night 3: They poured themselves some Rice Krispies.  Guess they were hungry.  Messy, all always.

Night 4:  They gathered some friends to play with. Lined them up in the hallway and gave them some toys.  Looks like they had fun. What do you think?

Night 5:  They were too tuckered out from playing the night before.. They slept all night.

Night 6:   Well, we woke up in the morning and found them in the bathroom.  They dumped band-aids on the counter, played with toys and used window marker to draw on the mirror.   Tic-tac-toe, happy faces, stuff like that.  One was actually hanging from the Christmas lights with the marker in his hand when we found them.

 Night 7(I think...): A snow ball fight! Can you believe it? They actually had a snow ball fight in my house!  Good grief.  They used cotton ball snow balls and Mega Blocks to build protection.

Night 8?: Can you believe these two? Hanging from the lights!  Whatever shall we do with them???

Night 9:  They just keep getting into stuff.  We found them in refrigerator! Cias' elf(Jake) was standing on the jelly jar eating whipped cream.  Sammy's elf(Buzz) was sitting on the shelf below eating blueberries.

Night 10?:  Well, the good news is that they aren't just mischievous.   They are also crafty.  They actually crocheted themselves sleeping bags. In one night!  Impressive!!!    They did leave a bit of a mess with the yarn though.

Night 11?:  More crafts. And a little sweetness.  See the snowmen hanging on the wall? Well, Cias and I made those during Thanksgiving break, but we hadn't hung them up yet. Well, the elves were kind enough to hang them up for us.  How wonderful!  They also made some of their own. I haven't hung them up yet. I think I'll let Cias do that.

Night 12(I think...):  Blocks are fun, even for elves. They built themselves houses.  One used Mega Blocks, the other used wooden blocks. Then they tucked themselves into the cute little elf-made sleeping bags and settled in to watch some TV..
Sammy wasn't too sure what to think about it when he woke up.  The elves were playing with HIS blocks!  

Night 13-ish: HAPPY BIRTHDAY SAMUEL!!!!!  2 years ago today I gave birth to my adorable, cuddly, beautiful, full-of-life baby boy.    The elves made him 2 signs and brought him a gift.  It's a Melissa and Doug Trace and Lace.  I hope he likes it!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Us Vs. Them.. Why???

Why does it have to be us vs. them?  Public school VS home-school.   Yep, I'm going there. Why? Because I'm angry.  I'm angry at the assumptions about public school parents.   The assumptions that we don't teach our kids anything. That  we just send them off to school and don't care.  That we just let the school raise them.   Guess what? THEY DON'T!

I spent the first 5 years of my oldest sons life teaching him his ABC's, shapes, colors, math,  how to spell and anything else I could. He was reading at the age of 4. Spelled his first word at age 4.5.  I then, hesitantly, sent him to Kindergarten.   Guess what I did when he came home from school? I continued to teach him.  Did I ignore his education and let the school teach him whatever they wanted? NO.  I honestly don't know any public school parent that does.  I'm sure they are out there, but I don't know them.  

He is now 9.5 years old and in the 4th grade.  And guess what?  His education doesn't stop when he leaves school. I have not stopped teaching him.  He learned about centrifugal force at the laundry mat with me.   We learn, all the time.   We do the same things that those home-schooled families do, just in a different time frame.  We may not do it on weekdays during the hours of 8-3, but we do it.    

What really gets my goat is when I hear stuff like "only a home-school parent would do something like that!"  Uh, guess what. You are wrong.     Even non-home-schooling parents will gather their children around to stare at a bug on the sidewalk and then research it at the next possible opportunity.        Even non-home-school parents will read to their children for hours just because the child wants to.     Even non-home- school parents have "school" supplies all over the house because their children were doing some great project.

Home-school families aren't the only ones that make butter with their children.  Or use cookie making to teach math.  

And non-home-school parents like to see educational websites too.  Or printable's for the kids.  Or free resources that we can use to enrich our children's lives and educations.

We have kids who aren't afraid to be themselves.   We also can have kids who don't care what the rest of the world is doing. We also have kids who do what they want, regardless of what their school-mates might say.

Why? Because WE taught them.  Yes, shocking, isn't it? Public school parents actually teaching their kids stuff? Oh my, I think the home-school community just gasped  and fainted.  It couldn't be possible! Could it???     Yes, yes it is. :)

So, the next time you want to start bashing or making fun of public-schoolers, remember, there are those of us who care about our children's educations.

And don't tell us 'homeschooling is best for everyone', because it isn't.  

Friday, November 11, 2011

The one where I talk about my house...

My house is messy. Why? Well, I'm an exhausted mom of a spirited toddler who thinks that making messes is fun.  Add in the fact that I'm naturally a messy person, and yes, you have a messy house.  Is it dirty? NO. It's cluttered. It's a messy. But trust me, you won't find anything freaky or disgusting around. No bugs. You aren't going to catch some crazy disease.  I'm not that bad.    I don't sanitize daily, I happen to have a love/hate relationship with germs. Love the good ones, hate the bad ones.  I'm not going to kill the good ones one too. We need them. They help us and our immune systems.

So, if you walk into my house, you'll find toys on the floor. Clothes on the floor. Maybe some pieces of paper that the toddler ripped up(yay! fine motor skill practice!!!!).   Books(Yay! We LOVE to read!).    In the boys' bedrooms you'll find toys all over the floor(yay! My boys play in their rooms! How great is that???). Maybe some clothes that the 9.5 year old didn't pick up because, well, he's 9.

In the kitchen you'll find dirty dishes.. Why? Well, the dishwasher was out of commission for a few days, and I'm still trying to catch up. I've been busy and tired in the evenings and haven't gotten them done. I plan on doing them today.       In addition to being busy, I have kids.  My kids are growing so incredibly fast that I don't want to miss a single moment of it.   And if that means leaving dishes in the sink at night so I can play with them, or even sit and watch them play, I'm going to do that.   I don't want to look back on their childhoods and say "man, I spent all that time cleaning my house.. What did my kids do while I was doing that?"
Yes, I know, kids can clean too. And they do.  For the most part.   But this isn't about them, it's about me. :)  So, I just have to say, that if you come to my house and complain about it being messy, I'll reply with this: If YOU want my house clean, feel free to come and clean it yourself.  I'm going to play with my babies.

One Hundred Years from now (excerpt from "Within My Power" by Forest Witcraft)
One Hundred Years from now
It will not matter
what kind of car I drove,
What kind of house I lived in,
how much money was in my bank account
nor what my clothes looked like.
But the world may be a better place because
I was important in the life of a child.

Cooking and Cleaning....

"Cooking and cleaning can wait til tomorrow
                                                  For babies grow up, I've learned to my sorrow. 
   So, settle down cobwebs, dust go to sleep. 
I'm rocking my baby and babies don't keep." 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Something to think about......

I saw this today and had to post it. It's the second time I have read it, and it means so much that I had to share it with you.

‎"When I was about twenty years old, I met an old pastor's wife who told me that when she was young and had her first child, she didn't believe in striking children, although spanking kids with a switch pulled from a tree was standard punishment at the time.

"But one day when her son was four or five, he did something that she felt warranted a spanking--the first in his life. And she told him he would have to go outside and find a switch for her to hit him with. The boy was gone a long time. And when he came back in, he was crying.

"He said to her, 'Mama, I couldn't find a switch, but here's a rock you can throw at me.' All of the sudden a mother understood how the situation felt from the child's point of view: that if my mother wants to hurt me, it mkaes no difference what she does it with; she might as well do it with a stone.

"The mother took the boy onto her lap and they both cried. Then she laid the rock on a shelf in the kitchen to remind herself forever: never violence. Because violence begins in the nursery--one can raise children into violence."

~From a peace prize acceptance speech given by Astrid Lindgren, author of Pippi Longstocking

Thursday, November 3, 2011

I forgot how hard it was to have a toddler...

I really did forget.. Could be something about the 7.5 year age span between my two kids. :)    I forgot about the tantrums. The BIG, HUGE feelings that cause them to go crazy.   I forgot about the constant mess. The sleepless nights.   The crying.  Oh, the crying...     The lack of help from a husband who works constantly, either at his job or at home on his computer.    

I'm exhausted.  Constantly, always exhausted.  I had a splash of energy the other day and spent it playing with my kids.  We had a blast.  But the house didn't get clean.  It's a disaster. It looks like a tornado flew through it.  Constantly. Always.  Picking up is pointless because it's the same mess an hour later.   And it's not even toys. It's blankets, and papers and who knows what.  Why are those on the floor in the first place??  Good grief.       I think I'm getting an ear infection. I don't have time to be sick.  My house and my family will fall apart if I am sick.   And moms don't get the luxury of lying in bed for 3 days like dad does.    Or does that only happen in my house?

Anyway, toddler hood.  It has it's ups and downs..   Said toddler just crammed a handful of pumpkin muffin into my mouth. Thank you son.  Now he's pulling on me because he wants to do his animal sounds app.  Problem is, I'm writing and we have to leave in a few minutes to take Mike to work.    Nope, no animals right now.   And that pumpkin muffin is gross..  EWWWW.  Glad I didn't make them, or buy them.  Oh that is NASTY.  Hooray for good coffee to rid my mouth of the flavor.

This post is really discombobulated, isn't it?  Oh well.      One more month and Samuel will be two(whaa, my baby is growing up!!  No fair!!!) and then he can go to the drop off day care down the road.  And then I can come home and get my house clean.    Just an hour or two is all I ask.  Enough to get the house clean with out him hanging on me, or screaming, or flipping out.

Hmm, sorry for the venty post.   They can't all be happy, that wouldn't be normal. There are other emotions, after all.  

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Happy Halloween!!!

So, yesterday was Halloween. Which, in my house, is only for dressing up in an awesome costume and getting as much candy as possible.  First we had to carve the pumpkins. Strike that, I had to carve the pumpkin. The plan was for Cias to do it, but he backed out at the last minute.  He chose a dragon stencil and sent me to work.   I think it turned out pretty good.  Cias later added red "flames" to the mouth so he could have a fire-breathing dragon. :)

 After that came pumpkin painting.   Samuel loved that.  Note to self: do more painting.  :)    

 Then they got bored of painting pumpkins and painted the table....

 And themselves.. :)

  This year I had an adorable Pikachu, from my extremely Pokemon obsessed 9.5 year old, and  Woody, from my very Toy Story 3 obsessed 22 month old.    Talk about CUTE!!!     Sammy wasn't too sure about it, but after the first 4 houses or so when he realized he got candy, he was all over it. Well, technically, he was all over the candy.. He ate it as fast as he got it.   The words "trick or treat" came out something like "ta uh tu plba" or something like that.. I couldn't quite figure it. LOL      Our neighborhood was THE place to be and was overrun with cars and people.  I'd love to say they were all friendly, but the teenagers have some things to learn about manners regarding trick or treating and young children. :(   I was sorely  disappointed.      But my kids had fun and neighborhood is still intact, so I guess all went well.

And of course, we had to trick or treat at our house.
We wrapped up the night in pajamas, answering the door and handing out candy.   The boys had a wonderful night.    And mommy had a very low stress night by staying close to home. :)  One of these days, however, we might get a family picture on Halloween... Or any other time for that matter..   Sigh.......  This is as close as we'll ever get.

Today, Tuesday, was spent trying not to eat too much candy... We failed.   We ate way too much.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

And people wonder why I'm exhausted...

I'm sure it couldn't be because of my 22 month old dare-devil, could it?  I believe my toddler's goal in life to make sure my hair is as grey as it can possibly get.   Today proved no exception.   See this wonderful ladder below?  He climbed it.  Twice.  Alone.  By the time he got almost to the top, I could no longer reach him to make sure he didn't fall.  It was taller than me.   All I could do was stand at the bottom and watch and be ready to catch him if he did fall. He didn't. He made it up just fine, proving his excellent balance and coordination skills to me once more.  Now to put those superpowers of his to good use.....

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Don't complain, I'll shut you up... Kindly... :)

Friday we were at the pumpkin patch and I'm standing in a long line to get tickets for the train ride. It was a long line and only one woman working. She was doing her best. Well, apparently the guy behind me didn't think so. He started complaining. A lot. And using language that wasn't appropriate with so many kids around. His very pregnant wife and small child were standing next to him. I kind of shook my head and stood there as he complained horribly.

Well, then Cias walks up and stands next to me. The guy is still complaining.. I ask Cias if he is having fun. He exclaims YES and he's very excited. The guy is still complaining. Even Cias noticed. So I said (rather loudly), "Man, I guess there is something about standing in a long line in the sun that brings out the worst in people." Cias nodded.

The guy never said another word.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Wow, what a weekend!

Friday my mom and I took the boys to the pumpkin patch. What an adventure that was.   We watched pig races, mined for marbles, went down a big slide, played in lots of dirt, played in a fort, went on a train ride, ate some yummy pie, and picked out some great pumpkins.    We also saw some animals at the petting zoo, but Samuel wasn't too impressed with those. The goats scared him.   I think his favorite part of the trip was the train ride. He seemed to really enjoy that.  Cias' favorite part was picking out the pumpkin. :)    We came home about 6, covered in dirt, exhausted and happy.

Saturday was my birthday. 34.  Wow.   That's just crazy.  I don't feel like I should be 34.    But I am.... le sigh......  Anyway, my husband, in an odd turn of events, threw a party for me!  First time in 12 years of marriage. YAY HIM!!!!!!  It was great. He picked the perfect chocolate cake.  Ordered pizza. Bought a veggie tray. It was wonderful.   It was a family only party,  and that was fun too.   My wonderful 11 year old nephew used his own money to buy balloons, filled them up and drew faces on them.  The kids are still having fun playing with them.   My 9 year old niece bought me a Wonder Woman  Polly Pocket. I didn't even know they made such a thing!  It's so cute!!!      My mother and father in law gave me a Keurig. YAY!  So fun to make coffee in it. LOL.    And my dear husband gave me a Kindle.  Coffee and a Kindle! What great gifts!  How blessed I am. :)

Sunday I worked at church and went out to lunch with my mom and the boys. Sadly my mom had to leave. :(    We spent the rest of the day recovering from Fri. and Saturday.