Thursday, December 31, 2009

Ornament Soup

Ornament Soup

Empty pot
Wooden spoon
A couple of ornaments stolen from the X-mas tree

Place ornaments in empty pot and stir with spoon. Take ornaments out. Stir empty pot. Put ornaments in. Stir again. Offer a taste to everyone in sight.

This was Boo's creation while I was fixing dinner last night. Mmmmm...

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Out With a Bang

Well, this year is going out with a bang. Life really does throw some crazy surprises sometimes. However, it's in the "rolling with the punches" that we become who we are.

Our latest surprises? Our poor bunny Oscar died. He could not fight the infection any longer I think. We came downstairs this past Sunday to find that he was no longer with us. It's very sad. His cage is gone. We moved it out. Boo hasn't asked about Oscar at all, which seems strange to me. Perhaps somehow he knows - at least to the extent that a two year old could know something like this. He was a wonderful and loving pet. He will be missed.

Our other surprise happened Sunday evening. We were on a shopping trip and our car breathed it's last breath, revved for the last time, or however I should say it. We knew this was coming, so not a total surprise. But we didn't expect it to be quite so soon. So for the second time in the last five years we find ourselves temporarily without transportation. How I miss the days when T and I had two vehicles between us. I long to get back to that so that losing one car is not total loss of transportation and freedom. It will happen though. We just need to practice our patience.

So here we are. A few days later and all is calm. I had some good news health wise yesterday. So it was nice to have a positive thrown in there. My daycare kiddos are back today. That's another positive. After not having them for an entire week, it's nice to see them all today. We went out and played in the snow today. Twenty minutes to get ready for twenty minutes of outdoor play! It was a blast though. The kiddos loved the toboggan that T picked up for the daycare earlier this month. There's even a little hill in the backyard courtesy of my sloppy gardening style. Basically it's leftover sod that was never removed from the yard before it started to break down and grow tall weeds during spring and summer. I'm sure that it looked very trailor trash. But now all covered in snow, it's the perfect size for a toddler toboggan hill. The kiddos loved going "wee" down the hill!

I have a lot to look forward to in the new year. My business is going great and I feel confident that it will continue to do well. I have some exciting things that I'd like to add to the daycare, all in good time though. I will be ending this year on a very positive note, spending time with my family and with my wonderful nieces on New Year's Eve!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Holiday Mish Mash

A little of this and a little of that is probably what this post is going to evolve into, hence the title of "mish mash."

First of all, the daycare has been going extremely well. Better than I could've hoped actually. It's the first time in years that I've been able to truthfully say that I love my job. Yes, I have my "want to pull my hair out" days, but that's life. I have wonderful kiddos and families. It's so wonderful to see Boo have so many delightful children that he can count as friends. Granted, if he had his way, maybe he'd have his friends over a little less, but overall he does a wonderful job of sharing his home, toys, and his mommy with others. So this Christmas season I feel so thankful for the wonderful families and kiddos that I work with. Not only do I have great families, but I have filled every spot. It's hard to believe that five or six months ago I was wondering if I'd have to throw in the towel on the home daycare idea. It's been a huge exercise in patience and trust, but I do believe that God has taken care of us.

We've been crafting and creating X-mas and winter themed art this month. It's been so fun. We've also done a few Montessori-inspired activities with a X-mas theme. One of my favorites was sorting light bulbs into X-mas tree shaped silicone candy trays. It was a fun way to work on color recognition and sorting. The kiddos really seemed to enjoy it.

I took Boo to the $ store to pick out presents for important people in his life. This was fun, but I must admit that the experience was not quite the peaceful and perfect endeavor that I had envisioned in my head. I had such a vision of lovingly helping him make choices between this or that object for so and so. Instead I had a whiny toddler who wanted to look at everything for himself and didn't really care much about picking things out for anybody. Ah - toddlerhood in all of it's egocentric glory! We did end up choosing things, but the process was much more chaotic and stressful than I had pictured. Oh well. I'm still glad that we went though. Even if he doesn't quite "get it" yet, the idea of giving to others is something that I want instilled in my children even at a young age. So I guess enough experiences like the $ store experience will lay that foundation one little piece at a time. And perhaps one day I'll realize that he "gets it" and there won't be one defining experience that taught him about giving but a mish mash of chaotic, whiny, disorganized experiences all mushed together that instilled the value of charitable giving.

Sidenote- what's with my use of "mish mash" this month. Seems a bit much. Oh well.

Wally's coming along quite nicely. He seems as though he's starting to mellow a bit. I'm loving that. As he mellows more and more his time out of his crate is extended more and more. I dream of the day that he can wander freely in the evenings. Right now he's kind of like Wonderpup the wonderspaz when he's out. He can be a bit much. Even Boo finds him overwhelming much of the time. They are doing MUCH better together though. There was a time when having them in the same room together was a constant cry fest for Boo and a constant nip fest for Wally. I would say that Wally's definitely a non-nipper. This is saying a lot considering he turned into a little alligator for awhile after we brought him home! And he's so great with the daycare kiddos. He feels very protective of them. When the big people (aka parents) come in and start handling their children during pick up and drop off, poor little Wally goes a little nutso. It's a bit comical how he watches out for them. His crate was moved from the kitchen to the office, known as the "special room" to the kiddos. It's so nice for him to be more a part of things. The kitchen was a bit too isolating for him I think. And there's much more to absorb the sound when he barks in the office, versus in the kitchen where the sound just bounced around and gave me the world's biggest headache! I love my dog, but owning a dog is so different than I visualized. Not in a bad way, just different. My dog can drive me so insanely batty some days, but I still love him. In that way, he reminds me so much of a toddler! I never understood this until I became a dog owner. I'd always seen other people with their dogs, happily petting them, watching them perform tricks, and all of those cutesy things. But it's in the maddening times I think where the depth of your relationship with your pet develops. Practically anyone can love a dog when he is "behaving", but to care for a dog and love it when it's being infuriating is a whole new level of love. I think this is so similar to how I feel about parenting - the depth comes from the struggles!

Oh, we now have a three legged rabbit. I'm not sure if I've mentioned that. Poor Oscar had a tumor and had to have his left rear leg removed. He was supposed to have his staples out Monday, but he had an area that became infected. So he's on a different antibiotic and we go back tomorrow to see how he's doing. I really really hope the infection is gone. The vet talked about cutting further up if we can't get the infection to heal, but I don't know. I don't want to keep chopping the poor bunny. I'm just hoping he heals this time so that we don't have to think of alternatives. He's definitely more with it this week. I wonder if the pain medication he was on last week made him lethargic. He's hopping around, eating, drinking, and seeming more like himself. He's just having a harder time keeping himself clean. We've had to really step up the grooming in order to try to keep infection at bay. Hopefully we've done a good enough job of it this time around. So I'm hoping for no infection when we go to the vet tomorrow.

Right now kiddos are napping peacefully. Naptime - my favorite part of the day. My kiddos are so good about laying down and napping. Another thing to be thankful for!

Well, I guess it's time to stop writing and get wrapping. There's still lots of gifts to wrap. I'd like to get it done so that we can focus on getting the train/craft room ready. I guess I didn't mention that. We're using our second bedroom as a train/craft/someday school type of room (for when Boo starts his homeschooling). I'd also like to store extra toys/daycare materials/art supplies in there. Yes - it's going to have to be organized to the nth degree in order to accomodate all of that. So anyways, we've been piling bags of junk that have been gathered up around the house in this room. We've gotten through a lot of it in the last week, but we still have more to clear out in order to make way for the train table. There's now way the room will be finished before X-mas, but we just need to make it functional enough to put up Boo's train table, wrap it up, and stick a big bow on top. The boy is getting trains galore for X-mas. We ended up doing a train theme for his gifts. It was definitely not intentional. It just happened. Every single gift, with the exception of stocking stuffers, has to do with trains! I'm eventually going to get my sewing machine and supplies set up in this room. The idea is that if I don't have to spend 1/2 an hour finding and dragging machine and supplies out for sewing, I might actually sew? We'll see how that works out. I do miss sewing!

We have a slew of busyness coming upon us in the next few days. There's a lot of family gatherings. It'll be good times, but it will be busy and hectic. So I'm going to try to remember to stop and breathe, look around, and intentionally take in life around me. I'm going to try to enjoy the precious memories as they're happening and focus on my little one's face and expressions and words as he enjoys this X-mas season.

God Bless!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Connect with Respect

That's the phrase you'll read over and over and over in The Happiest Toddler on the Block. And it's not written in an idealistic and unattainable manner. Dr. Karp has done something wonderful. He has taken great ideals that I strive for in my parenting and laid them out in practical tools for parents.

As much as I write about discipline, I'm sure those that read know by now that I'm a huge fan of having many tools in the parenting toolbox. So many parents set out to not yell, shame, spank, be overbearing, and many other things that our society has come to see are ineffective and possibly damaging to children. But without replacing methods that were used on us as children, it's like trying to climb out of quicksand. You know you don't want to sink, but without tools there's nothing to grab hold of. The way I see it, the more tools that I have, the more I have to hold onto, and the more likely that I will not sink in my parenting. We all have setbacks and momentarily slipping up, or sinking a bit into the sand, is not the same thing as sinking completely and indefinitely. I am convinced that our overall tone and attempts at respectful, empathic, loving parenting matter much more. So the time that I lost it in the car when we were trying to get somewhere in a hurry is not going to "ruin" my child. Yay - huge sigh of relief. Just as we continually extend grace to our children as they develop and stumble a ton along the way, we must extend that same grace to ourselves. We're not going to do ourselves any good as parents if we beat ourselves up over our mistakes!

Anyways, I guess I kind of digressed a bit as I really wanted to write about Dr. Karp's methods, but it's an important point as I think many parents, including myself, struggle with the fact that they cannot be perfect or good enough as a parent.

So on to Dr. Karp. His book is AMAZING. If you read one parenting book in the next year, choose this one. I honestly believe what I'm saying. He's got a bit of everything in there. He talks about encouraging those behaviors that are working well, discouraging the annoying behaviors, and stopping the absolutely unacceptable behaviors. He talks a lot about time-ins and feeding the meter. He likens our childrens' need for love to a parking meter. It must fed all day long or you will have a problem. With the car it's a ticket. With a child, it's bad behavior. Children who feel loved and respected will behave better. This is common sense and something I truly believe, but he gives us practical ways to show our children that love and respect.

Over and over he talks about connecting with respect. When children are upset we've been taught to immediately distract, ignore, reason, and many other things that do not address the upset. He says we're all missing a step. We need to first acknowledge the child's feelings, however ridiculous or selfish or what not. Then move on to distract, reason, redirect, or whatever technique is appropriate for the situation. He gives a practical way of getting on a child's level and showing them that you get what they're wanting, feeling, and/or trying to say. I have seen would-be tantrums nipped right in the bud with this technique. Dr. Karp says that the reason children get louder when asking for what they want is often because they do not feel understood. You know the scenario. "cookie...cookie...(now the knees start to go up and down, the voice goes up a bit)...cOOkie...Cookie...COOOKIEEEEEE... No amount of "No honey", "not right now", "not until after dinner" seems to do the trick. Why? According to Dr. Karp's research and methods, the child thinks you don't "get' him. I will tell you that I have tried his methods in just such a situation and the loudness/intensity of my child immediately drops as he realizes he's been heard.

I could go on and on. But the reality is that I will not be able to fully describe his theories and techniques. Please, if you have a toddler, and you feel the need for some tools in your parenting toolbox, pick up this book! I wish I had gotten this book when Boo first moved into toddlerhood. It would've been immensely useful even way back then. Try it - I would bet just about anyone could take away at least one useful element and probably a lot more!