Thursday, January 28, 2010

Raising Your Spirited Child

I just finished reading a great book called "Raising Your Spirited Child" by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka. She is an educator in Minnesota's Early Childhood Family Education Program and author of several other books. She also founded Spirited Child and Power Struggles workshops.

This book is amazing. I imagine that I will return to this book many times throughout the years as I'm raising Boo and any siblings he might have. This book is applicable not just to the age that Boo is at now, but to many ages.

One thing that this book does a wonderful job of is encouraging parents to really consider who their child is as a person. Kurcinka speaks about the different aspects that make up temperament and the challenges that are unique to children who seem to be a bit "more" in one aspect or another. Specifically, she discusses extroversion versus introversion, intensity, persistence, sensitivity, perceptiveness, adaptability, regularity, energy, first reaction, and mood.The extroversion/introversion chapter alone provided me with so much insight regarding my child.

Boo is without a doubt an introvert. I never quite realized it until reading Kurcinka's chapter comparing the two. In fact, I kind of knew that I tended towards introversion myself. Reading Kurcinka's chapter on introversion versus extroversion gave me greater insight into myself and into my child. I've often wondered why so and so can go to one thing after another, bouncing from one activity to another all week long, and I start to go nutty if I go out more than two nights a week. I used to think that maybe something was wrong with me for not being able to handle as much activity or a higherlevel of busyness. The reality is that I'm just not wired that way. Just as an extrovert feels like they're dying inside if they don't get enough time to socialize, the introvert feels incredibly drained by constant social commitments and activity. Introverts feel energized by spending time either alone or with a favorite friend. I have always tended towards one on one outings with friends in lieu of large group activities. I can feel energized going for coffee with a good friend that I trust, but if I go to a party involving lots of people I need time to recover afterwards. What I find energizing as an introvert is a night in with a good book! Anyways, this book of Kurcinka's is about children, right? So, getting back to that, I've realized why Boo clams up when we go to Kindermusik and the teacher prompts him to count or point something out in a book. I admit that I'm sitting there watching anxiously and thinking, "I know he knows how to do this. Everyone's going to think my child's behind. Why won't he perform??" But the reality is, being an introvert, it's hard for him to go to Kindermusik and participate in the activities and follow the instructions. But being put on the spot to answer a question or pointing something out in a book - well, that's just beyond him as a little introvert. Granted, as he gets older he'll be able to do more despite his introversion. But his personality will more than likely lead him to draw back a little bit. And the great thing is, that's OKAY. In our culture, I think we prize extroversion a bit. I love how Kurcinka's book draws out the strengths that introverts possess. And the reality is that pushing him to act like an extrovert will only cause him to feel bad about the way he is. Instead, I need to accept him for who he is and nurture the strengths that are inherent to introversion.

I realize that I'm going on and on about this one point. But it was a huge eye opener for me. Boo attends my home daycare by default that he lives here. Recognizing that he is an introvert gives me insight to notice when he's trying to communicate that he needs time to himself. In fact, I've been frustrated by Boo for not wanting to join in on art projects when I'm in the kitchen with all of the other children doing some fun sort of painting, coloring, or whatever the art is for that day. But you know what he's doing while we're in there and he's refusing to join? Playing with the toys by himself, perfectly content. Thinking about him with this insight made me realize that this is how he finds time for himself in a busy home with friends around constantly. Knowing this I was able to relax today when he didn't want to join the finger painting fun. I didn't ask him nearly so many times, "Are you sure you don't want to come and paint?" Now I know that he's doing something that makes him feel energized and happy. And I can always paint with him on the weekend. And when we respect who our children are as people, we give them the space to have their needs met, which ultimately leads to a happier and better behaved child. And don't we all want children who behave well?

I think that's what I liked about this book. The end result is that we all want our children to "behave" for lack of a better word. This book has so much information about getting to know who your child is as a person and then respecting that. We can respect their unique personalities and set them up for success in different situations rather than forcing them into something that sets them up for failure. Of course we can't control every situation and our children will be faced with things that go against their personality that they must deal with. But if we set them up for success as much as we possibly can, they will have more energy to deal with those situations that are less than ideal. I like how one parent in one of Kurcinka's groups put it. "We don't teach children how to swim by throwing them in the deep end." We shouldn't do that in their daily lives. Very young children have few coping skills and need years to learn how to cope with a variety of situations. It's okay to do what we can to make it easier on them as they get their feet wet and start the learning process.

I feel like this has been terribly rambly, but this book is awesome. There's so much more that I could go into, but I risk writing a novel about a novel. So I probably need to stop. I highly recommend that any parent look into this book - and not just if you feel your child is in the "spirited" category. I think any parent of any child could benefit from this book!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

This is the Way We Wash Our Hands

Let me start this post by saying that I LOVE that Boo is so independent and loves to do things for himself.

However, I will say that I find myself taking a lot of deep breaths these days because I'm battling my own impatience. It's much quicker for me to wash Boo's hands at the sink than to stand by and let him do it. Perhaps it wouldn't be so bad except that he can't yet reach the nozzle on the faucet. But he is of course so offended if I turn the water on for him, so I have to pick him up so that he can turn the water on himself. Then he must push the black button that turns the water to spray and he can't reach that either. So I have to hold him while he does that. So once that's done he's content to put his hands under the water while I hand him the soap. Once he receives the soap he promptly pushes me away and says, "Mommy. Go o'er dere." This is where I take a very deep breath because I know that he can't figure out how to pump the soap (it locks if you turn it the wrong way), yet he insists on trying for a bit each time. After he's tried and grunted and become frustrated with it I'll offer to help and he'll grudgingly accept help from mommy to pump the soap. But then I must immediately move away again while he rubs his hands together under the water. Usually I have to prompt him to turn the water off or we'd be there half the day while he plays in the water. And once again, even though he can't reach it, he must push the black button that turns the water from spray to pour. Then he turns the faucet off and I must lift him up for both tasks. After that he will happily climb down the stool and wipe his hands and face with his towel and then throw said towel into the garbage.

And some people say that extended nursing, babywearing, and refusing cry it out methods will cause a child to be overly dependent. Hahaha. I simply have to laugh at that as I care for my stubbornly independent 2 1/2 year old!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Awimsing We Go

Well, we've tried the pool at the YMCA a couple of times. I even found a swimsuit over the weekend that's not insanely huge on me and a maternity suit at that. So when we went tonight I got to wear my new, properly fitting, non-maternity swimsuit. That was nice!

Boo did great. The first time we went swimming, or wimsing as Boo calls it, he clung to me mostly and was a bit leary. Although even then he told me "I like a water!" and "That fun!" after I spun him around in the water.

We went again this afternoon and he's definitely showing signs of wanting to be more independent with it. I'd like to find him one of those vests that's stuffed with flotation devices. Anyone know where I can get one of those in the dead of winter? He told me when we were done tonight "I like a blue water." But he does NOT like the shower. We shower before and after and he's not a fan! Also, he's afraid of the swimsuit dryer thing. AND he HATES getting his hair dried by the dryer in the locker room. It's a bit scary for him.

If he's comfortable enough I may put him in the independent swim lessons at the Y after he turns 3. That means he would be on his own with the swim instructor and mommy would be sidelined. Eek - how is my baby almost old enough for that??!!!

Anyways, my goal is to go swimming, er..I mean wimsing, a couple of times a week so that he really gets used to the water. And, it's just plain old good family fun. It beats sitting on the couch in the evenings!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Some Small Victories

Well, we will get to use our new YMCA membership for the first time tonight. Specifically, we're planning to take Boo to the pool. He has a fear of pools, so we'd really like to expose him a bit more. I wasn't sure that Boo had any swimwear. I did find a pair of Lightning McQueen swim trunks that he got last summer for his birthday, but they're 4T! They do have a tie so I guess we'll find out tonight if they are going to stay up or not. I think he'd be more likely to fit into his 18 month size from last summer, but I think I've packed them away and I don't feel like looking for them. So we'll try the Cars swim trunks.

I found a set of plastic drawers in my closet that wasn't getting used. I originally bought it to help me store clothes as the clothing racks in my closet are useless for this purpose. But honestly, this set of drawers pretty much never gets any use. Perhaps if my laundry made it out of the basket before being worn again it would get used! I think it'll get more use as a craft paper storage unit. Currently all the daycare paper and felt is shoved in a wooden basket in my craft cabinet. The edges are getting bent and it's all piled together. It's hard to see what I have. So now I have sorted the paper and felt into separate drawers. The drawers are perfectly sized for this purpose. Construction paper is separated from cardstock. White paper and felt have their own drawers. I'll need to find a spot for my jumbo-sized finger paint paper and my roll of contact paper, but that will come in time!

There are some things boxed up ready to go to the basement. I'm trying to get into the habit of grabbing a box everytime I go upstairs so that I can start to see some space in the craft/supply room.

I've been using sparkpeople consistently which is a victory. Now I just need to do a better job of staying within my daily targets. But the fact that I'm tracking consistently is a start. I had a good day with my targets and two bad days. But I still feel I'm doing better than I have been for the past month, so I'm on the right track as far as that goes!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

New Year's Resolutions

Well, it's the middle of January, but better late than never. And no, punctuality is NOT going to be on my list of resolutions. Heehee

1. Relationship Changes

In the new year I'd like to deepen those relationships that would benefit from more depth. In other words, spend more time getting to know friends and allowing the friendship to grow, giving myself permission more often to get out of the house with girlfriends, and being more hospitable by having others over more often.

Another part of this resolution is letting go of relationships that aren't working. People grow and change and often I find myself stubbornly clinging to a friendship that was perhaps in its prime years ago. This is a personal fault of mine I guess in that I'm an intensely loyal friend and tend to have a "once friends, always friends" sort of attitude. In a sense that's true. I think that in case of real crisis I would be there for anybody that I've called a friend at one point in time. However, in terms of the everyday, some friendships don't need my continued efforts and energy. I say this not as a negative or with any sort of bitterness. Changing friendships is a natural process in life, one that I'm learning to fight against with less vigor. So part of my relationship improvements this year may involve cutting back where that is necessary.

A third part of this resolution would be improving family relationships. This is something that I continue to try to chip away at. I'd love for Ayden to share more time playing with and getting to know his cousins this year.

2. A more homey space

I have been VERY lax in this area. I admit that moving around a lot in our first few of marriage kind of decreased my desire to do the normal family things, like putting pictures on the wall, painting, and other such things. However, there's something to be said for a space that is homey and inviting, that tells something about the inhabitants. T is against painting and well, I'm just going to stubbornly work on him on that one because I think it would make all the difference in the appearance of our home. It would also improve the appearance of the daycare area. Can't you just see the arguments on my side mounting?

Also, less clutter would help me feel more at home. Visual clutter is very stressful to me. Right now my method is when it gets too bad I bag it up and move it upstairs. You should see the bags of junk piled in my closet. I'm slowly making my way through the bags, but the clutter continues to build repeatedly. So finding places for things is going to be important. That is a huge part of the problem - we've just never made homes for things. When we moved in I was 7 months preggo with Boo and extremely unmotivated to organize to any great degree. Then Boo was born and well, life is just busy. But I do want to make time for this in the new year.

Specifically we're working on creating a space upstairs in an extra room. It's becoming the craft/daycare supply/future homeschool room. Right now it's a disorganized mess due to being in transition, lack of appropriate storage materials, and lack of time spent organizing. So, there's a lot of work to be done.

3. More homemade items this year

Specifically I'd like to do more homemade Christmas stuff this year. Several years ago I made ponchos and hats for my nieces for Christmas and I've never been more proud to give a gift in my life. Now these were not perfect and my sewing skills are very elementary, but there was something great about being able to put all of my love for them into something handmade. Also, I made Boo a hat and scarf last year. This year I've been working on a new set (he's outgrown the old set) and I admit that it might be spring before I'm done. It's hard to find the time and my excuses are a mile long as to finding other things to do besides sit down and knit. It's kind of ridiculous because once I force myself to sit down and knit, I find much peace and relaxation in the process.

I'd also like to get back to scrapbooking. Getting our craft room done is of key importance in that having the space properly set up would be a huge help. It's hard to scrapbook when it takes forever to gather my things together. By the time I do that it's time to put it all away!

In a lot of ways I think the success of this goal depends on the success of goal #2 - specifically the craft/daycare supply/homeschool room.

4. Healthy Lifestyle Changes

No New Year's Resolution list would be complete without this goal however cliche it may be! This is really a continuation of last year. I've done pretty great with maintaining my weight loss from last year, with the exception of a few pounds gained through the holidays. Um...oops. Anyways, I'm taking a big step this year in letting go of my weight watcher's membership. This was a hard decision for me because I've lost 25 pounds with weight watchers and I hate to give up something that's working. However, for the same monthly fee that I pay for weight watcher's our entire family can have a YMCA membership. This just makes more sense to me.

Nutritionally speaking I do have some support in lieu of weight watchers though. I'm going to be using It's different from weight watchers in that you're tracking calories, fat, carbs, and protein instead of just points (which is a combo of calories, fat, and fiber). So the nutritional tracking will be different. But it's still the same concept. Consume less calories than you use in a day and you'll lose weight. It's not rocket science. That doesn't mean it's easy, but it will work if I stick to it. I've been using sparkpeople for the last few days and I like it so far. There's also a place to track my workouts.

I'd like to work out regularly in the new year. That's been a hard thing for me. I often feel exhausted after spending my day with children. But I figure even if I just walk a few laps at the indoor track at the Y or play in the pool with my child, I'm still doing something besides sitting on my couch in the evening. I will be attempting to add more working out this year, but I'm honestly not going to obsess over it at this point. I'd just like us all to be more active and get out more. Also, I think it will be good for me to get out of the house more. I think my job is turning me into a hermit. I LOVE my job, but I'm so tired by the end of the day that it's hard to want to go anywhere. So I'd like to work on my perception of that.

Well, it's not a long list of goals. Four goals, but big and important goals that will make a huge difference in my life as I work hard at achieving them this year.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Language Arts According to Boo

One of the fun things about little children is their language development. As a mom I never know what Boo is going to say next or how he's going to say it. As he ages his words get clearer and clearer, but he still hangs on to quite a few idiosyncratic pronunciations. So this is my way of preserving them before they're gone forever. Here are some of my favorites:

Boo's Pronunciation Actual Word

Bunnon Button
Panuhcakes Pancakes
bllooooo Blue
Aynen Ayden
Dasaur Dinosaur
Kimuss Christmas
Mikeen Lightning McQueen
Tane Train, also refers to semis seen on the interstate
Gampuh Grandpa
Gammuh Grandma
Ornage Orange
Sillal Cereal
Blanklet Blanket

More Language Fun

Marley and Marley and Marley = The Muppet Christmas Carol
Dollars = refers to anything paper, such as receipts, scraps of paper, even the tag inside of his Christmas stocking was referred to as dollars!
uh-oh = not just used for accidental situations. Used to point out things of interest, kind of like a verbal exclamation point. Ex- Boo exclaimed "Uh-oh. Dinner" while in the car with his grandparents. They were driving past a restaurant that T and I have taken him to for dinner before!
Night night rilla = Good night Gorilla
coffee = This is what he calls his hot chocolate that he gets through the drive-thru of the local coffee shop
No go bed = I threw this in for Boo because I'm sure that he thinks this saying is fun. I don't!

Anyways, I thought I'd post this for something fun while I'm still giving careful consideration to my goals for the new year!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Reflecting on Last Year's Resolutions

I came across something like this in one of the blogs that I read and thought it was a great idea. It's fun to make resolutions, but doesn't it make sense to look back and see if we accomplished what we set out to do? So I've decided to grade myself on last year's resolutions.

Here's my resolutions from last year:

* Attend weight watchers meetings regularly.

I'm giving myself a C for this. The grade could be lower because my attendance SUCKED, but I did lose roughly 25 pounds last year with weight watchers and kept it off. So that's why I'm getting a C instead of a D. However, it was when I was attending meetings regularly that I lost the weight. It was when I was blowing off meetings that I stalled. I'm one of those people that just needs to go the meetings in order to be successful.

* Be more social. Have people over more and go out with others a bit more.

I get a B for this. There's definitely quite a bit of room for improvement, but for me I think I did pretty well. I tend to be an introvert (and I'm completely okay with that by the way), so it doesn't take much social interaction for me to feel great in that area. But there's still room for improvement. However, with a really great friend moving to the area during the new year this area will only continue to get better. Plus I've made some good friends through my business and I'm sure those will continue to improve also. Overall, the social state of things for me in the Burg is dramatically different (in a good way) than it was four years ago.

* Get Boo's scrapbook done through year 2 before his second birthday so that I can put it on display.

Hahahahahahaha. F---- I think I'm going to buy a bunch of cheap photo albums this year and just get the pics put away. Fron now on scrapbooking will be only for special events/trips/etc...I just can't keep up otherwise!

So it's a mixed bag I guess as to how I did with my resolutions. However, there were many great things that happened last year that were not a part of my resolutions. So overall I feel like it was a happy and successful year.

I'll be posting on my goals for this year when I get a chance to sit down and think about it!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Ringing in the New Year

Well, we had a lovely New Year's Eve party. My nieces were here and we had a good time eating pizza and hanging out. Wally also joined in the fun for a bit. We made some rock band bling bracelets from a kit that I picked up at Target. Boo played with snowman stickers instead of making a bracelet.

Poor little Boo developed a fever early on, so he had some medicine and went to bed with daddy. :(

My nieces wanted to watch Harry Potter until the countdown, so I popped in the first of the Harry Potter movies and promptly fell asleep. I was awoken later when the movie was over to realize that it was four minutes until midnight (according to my watch anyways). So I flipped on the tv and looked for the countdown, but we completely missed it!

So I passed out the sparkling grape juice, party hats, and noisemakers and we cheered in the new year. The youngest of my nieces that was in attendance fell asleep sitting up, so we had a good time sticking a party hat on her head and a noisemaker in her mouth and taking pictures of her snoozing away with her party gear on! We also tried to get Wally to let us put a party hat on his head. But being the wild puppy that he is, we weren't successful with that. In the end we put a party hat on top of his crate and took a picture.

We slept in late that morning and had pancakes and sausage for breakfast courtesy of T. The girls left shortly after that.

Poor Boo has carried his fever into the new year. He was feverish all day yesterday and into the evening. So we'll probably be ringing in the new year with a visit to Prompt Care tomorrow. My child has a knack for getting sick when the doctor's office is closed! I do hope he feels better soon. It stinks to see him clearly not feeling well.

Anyways, as the new year rings in, I'd love to post some goals for the year, but I've been so busy lately I haven't really sat down to think through what those goals might be. So perhaps they will come, but a little late.

I wish everyone a Happy New Year and hope for good things to come!