Saturday, June 10, 2017

May 2017 In Our Home




Blogging
     Clearly, blogging has not happened this month. I really wish I could post more but I simply don't have the time. I stay so busy during the day caring for the children and our home. My time for other pursuits is even more limited when David travels for work as much as he has this month. I'm not yet totally giving it up because this little space means so much to me and I so thoroughly enjoy the memories recorded. However, posting may continue to be very sporadic. Instagram and the Facebook page have become more preferable as they do not require quite as much time as writing full blog posts. Perhaps when all three children nap well during the day I can pick it up again. I do miss it, and greatly appreciate everyone who continues to follow!


Breastfeeding
     At the beginning of last month I was ready to move on from breastfeeding. Little Huxley and I were continuing to experience lots of problems from the oversupply and fast/forceful letdown situation. I decided to give myself a break by simply pumping and bottle feeding for a while. Unfortunately, since a pump doesn't empty as well as a baby and I make so much milk I ended up with a bad case of mastitis within a few days. It was by far the worst case I've had yet with it, and having to continue as normal in caring for the home and children didn't help matters. A couple of days and multiple cabbage leaves (crazy remedy, but it works!) later, I finally got it to clear up. (phew!). 
     After that experience, I returned to breastfeeding and I think we'll be pushing through just a little while longer. I don't want to experience that again! So, despite some continued problems we've pressed on. And, somewhere along the way I fell in love with breastfeeding. It's always been so problematic for me with the oversupply issues that it's always been more of a pragmatic matter. However, this time is different. Perhaps it's the effect of not knowing if this will be our last baby and my last time to feed a baby myself. Whatever the case, I'm now delighting in holding him close and loving on him in a way that only I can at this moment. 

Traveling Days & Parenting Solo
     This month was a very busy time for David traveling. He was gone one week to PA, then home a week, then gone a week to CO, then home a week. To say I was nervous about having full-time care of the home and children while he was gone is an understatement. Three children three years old and under all day everyday is no small feat. The week flying solo started out a bit rough as we had a plumbing problem and an adjustment for the children, but by the end of the week we were making it through just fine. I learned a few valuable lessons during these times: 
     1. I'm stronger and more capable than I knew
     2. It's okay to cut myself some slack (paper plates and semi-homemade meals are just 
         fine!)
     3. Prioritizing and letting go of nonessentials is a must. (So what if we don't do and go
          like some other families?!)
     4. I can keep my cool to be calm and joyful in any situation, even tantrums
     5. I can get by on very little sleep (hello, night time "napping." It's not pretty but I made it)

Tennyson
      Tennyson is in the middle of that "big emotions" time in life. I think I'm learning how to handle things just as much as he is! One thing I know for certain is that the more upset I get the more upset he gets. If I can remain calm and compassionate, then he can heed the lesson much better. Disappointment/disapproval from me and/or strong disciple are not effective at all with him. He's a sensitive soul and internalizes things so easily. It's a quality I'm needing to learn more about so that I can reach and encourage him to thrive in his own way.
    On another note, I've observed a characteristic of Tennyson's learning style. He does not cooperate with Q & A. Casually reveals knowledge within conversation. It's really remarkable how much he knows (and how much has come from books!)! I think a literature-based homeschool approach will be very well suited for him in the future. 

Annelise
23 months old!
     We continue to have bouts of frustration due to an inability to communicate clearly. She's has many words that she uses, but there are still many, many more that she has retained but doesn't yet have the ability to articulate clearly. I've been spending more time reading to her when she wakes up before everyone else in the mornings or naptimes. I've also been spending some time with her word book by having her repeat the words after me. I've considered flashcards, but haven't purchased them yet. If it weren't for her frustration, I wouldn't push such as this. However, she clearly has the desire to communicate to a greater extent but needs practice in articulation. (I'm open to suggestions for encouraging language development!)
   One big moment for her this month was getting a big girl bed! She has really enjoyed the extra freedom and is much calmer when she wakes. However, this has also meant that keeping her in bed has been a bit of a challenge. haha

Huxley
3 months old!
     Huxley is by far the easiest baby yet. As long as his belly isn't upset, he's such a content little guy. He doesn't mind playing in the swing, on his floor mat, in the bouncy seat etc. He indicates clearly when he's hungry or tired. I can often simply walk around while holding him and he will fall asleep. Speaking of sleep- this. child. actually. sleeps! He's our first to do so! (Our older two still don't sleep through the night for one reason or another). He still wakes up once or twice to eat. However, that one time at night may be at 5am. He's such the easy baby that it's hard not to want another baby! haha


Now that I've had multiple children, I'm more convinced that some things are more personality than training. Two have been poor sleepers and one..well, decent sleeper. Two have been belly sleepers and one is a back sleeper. Two have not taken a pacifier whatsoever and one absolutely loves it. So far, one is a picky eater and one eats everything offered. Two are of a calm personality and one is spirited. 

School time
Colored water exploration bin to go
 with our tot school unit that features
 the color yellow
   Sometimes I wonder if we should be accomplishing more in our school time. After all, Tennyson is three and most children his age are already enrolled in a formal preschool. It's tempting to fear he being "behind" his peers. But then, I go back to our reasonings for spending our days together as a family and homeschooling in the future, and I am confident in our decisions for the direction for our family. It brings me great joy, in fact. So, I push aside the comparison trap and delight in where we are presently. I feel like this is a completely appropriate time in life to just play and read stories together. If the children want to go outside instead of having school time, then outside it is! If we need to spend some time focusing on learning and practicing correct responses and properly handling those toddler "big emotions", then that's what we do. There are many areas of learning to focus on at this point beyond academics. It's not like we don't do anything academic. We still have our tiny tot curriculum and tot school curriculum, from which we complete an activity each day. We still accomplish learning, but it might just look different from a public school approach. (But the freedom and flexibility of choice one benefit of homeschooling?). The point is- know why you do what you do and then confidently and joyfully pursue it. Don't compare. Walk your own path!

New Books We're Enjoying This Month:
     I like to purchase at least one new book for each of us each month. For an additional look into the books we've enjoyed in our home, click the "Bookshelves" tab at the top of the page and then follow the links to our various online bookshelves. 

  • Me:
  • Tennyson
    • *Amazing Airplanes by Tony Mitton
      • We have *Amazing Trains as a part of our tot school curriculum. Tennyson really enjoys this book and has become quite good at naming all the trains and train parts. This book is part of a series and I thought the airplane book in the series would be a good addition. It would also help excite and prepare the children for our upcoming plane rides. 
  • Annelise:
    • *Five Little Ducks by Annie Kubler
      • This book is the fun little song in book form. Annelise really enjoys songs and their motions. Always fun when she can sit and sing the song as she flips through the pages. 
  • Huxley:
    • *Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
      • This was the first book we got when Tennyson was a baby. We read it almost daily during his first year. Unfortunately, it didn't make it in our move to TX. I thought it only appropriate to purchase another copy of the book for the younger two children to enjoy as well. 
Note: The "*" indicates the inclusion of an affiliate link. I am personally an affiliate with Amazon.com, and as such receive a compensation for purchases made through the links. (Thank you!)

Friday, May 12, 2017

Daily Homemaking Schedule (3 yr. old, 2 yr. old, 3 mo. old)

   
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   I recently reworked our daily schedule a bit to meet our needs a little better. I wanted to improve it in two main ways- order of activities and one-on-one time.

     First, I created our mornings and afternoons to be the same routines but different tasks. That routine includes: getting ready, eating (plus a story read), housework, activities with the children, one-on-one time, and outside playtime. By limiting things to these main areas, the schedule and day is simplified a bit. Also, the repetition will be much easier for all of us to know what comes next in the day and transition more smoothly. 

     The second change I made was to incorporate much more one-on-one time. With three children three years old and under now, I'm finding much of the misbehavior to stem from a desire for greater attention. Their attitudes and behaviors improve quite a bit when they've been able to have either mine or David's undivided attention. This can be difficult to do in a day though. But, if I plan for it then it's more likely to happen. So, I've paired one-on-one time with time for independent play in the bedrooms. While I'm spending a little time with one child, the other one can be playing alone in a bedroom. We've yet to be successful with independent play, but we're going to really work on it because I know we're all at a point of needing some space (ie independent play) and one-on-one time. I have it scheduled twice a day so that we have ample opportunity to be together and it maintains the repetitive nature of the morning and afternoon routines. 

     Below is a copy of our current daily schedule. (Click the images to view larger).  


Notes:

  • "Tiny Tot School" refers to activities designed for Annelise's age (1-2 yrs old). This isn't a formal academic curriculum but more so just simple activities. For instance, this week we sang "I'm a Little Teapot," learned the sign for "no," read Llama, llama Red Pajama, stacked blocks and played "cushion crawl" (simply acting silly crawling over and around big cushions/pillows in the floor). 

  • "Tot School" refers to activities for Tennyson's age (2-3 yrs. old). We use the "All Aboard the Animal Train" curriculum from My Father's World. Again, this isn't a strict, formal academic curriculum but just simple activities. For example, this week we sang a song and played a corresponding game, read a story, sang "This Little Light of Mine" with the hand motions, worked on a puzzle, and then ended the week with a yellow water exploration bin outside. 

  • "Morning Jobs" refers to helping to unloading the dishwasher and to helping move laundry from the washing machine to the dryer. Both children are able to do these tasks. My desire is for them to begin to have a role in maintaining our home each day. 

  • "Personal interest" during naptime- If I don't designate or schedule such as this then it likely won't happen! It also likely won't happen if a little one takes a while to go to sleep or wakes early from sleep. I've learned to hold this time very loosely. Sometimes I get the opportunity, and sometimes I don't (okay, most of the time I don't but that's just the way it goes!). 

  • "Afternoon cleaning"- For me, the housework is manageable if I work on a little bit each day. So, I aim to have two rooms tidied and one deeper cleaning task completed each week. I haven't had the children join me in this effort just yet, but I'm going to try to begin incorporating them by assigning them one simple task as I work (such as picking up blocks if that particular room has toys strewn about). We may be successful in them helping, but we may not. They will at least witness that tidying up is a normal part of the day. haha

  • Anything else?

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Home Tour: Backyard

    
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      One really nice aspect of home ownership is the ability to personalize the house or property. Being somewhat 'all or nothing' kind of people, we decided to tackle one room or area each year. We create a plan for the space, save up the funds, and then complete the project in it's entirety. 

      Last summer when we moved into the house, we promptly began converting the existing formal dining room into a school/office/guest room. We knew we would need this particular space to be set up and functional before any of the other areas of the house. This room has been so nice to have! All our books are stored there in the large bookshelf (that's not entirely true, we have books all over the house! haha), our desk is in there and easily accessible, and our guests have used the room during their stays. I certainly will always want a space like this in future homes!


     This year's home project has been our backyard. I love spending time outside. Depending on the heat, I like for the children and I to be able to spend some time outside each morning and afternoon. I also thoroughly enjoy sitting on the patio talking to my husband. I think being outside when the weather is nice is far more preferable than sitting inside all the time! Fresh air is good for the soul, right? Right!


     So, since we spend so much time outside we wanted to spruce it up a bit. David and I both enjoy gardening. We've attempted a container garden outside our apartments every year we've been married. We talked and dreamed quite a bit about the garden beds we would create since we purchased the house! We created three garden beds in our backyard:


1) Herb Garden
     The border bricks were originally lining the side fence in a similar fashion. That garden bed, however, had long been neglected. We relocated the pavers to the side of the house and created an herb garden. In this garden we have: sweet mint, cinnamon basil, greek oregano, parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, fern-leaf dill, chives, chocolate mint, fennel, cilantro, mexican taragon, peppermint, spearmint, lemon balm, grapefruit mint, pineapple sage, and stevia. In front of the herb plants are marigold plants. This bed will really be quite nice when it fills out fully. We will also have an abundance of fresh herbs to use now or dry to use later!       


2) Flower Garden
     This is one of my favorites! The border bricks were orginally just stacked beside the shed building. We wanted to create a garden in this particular garden bed for a couple of reasons. One, in considering the potential for snakes and the likelihood of them residing between the shed and fence, we wanted to block off access for the children. We didn't see any snakes last year, but have heard about snakes in Texas. I'd rather be cautious and not encounter one if at all possible, and I certainly don't want the children coming upon one while playing in that area. A second reason for this garden bed is to attempt to naturally repel mosquitoes. The mosquito population is greater here than anywhere else we've ever lived. Annelise and I are particularly tasty to them. So, within this bed are several mosquito-repellent plants. Hopefully, they will be helpful and we'll not fight with the mosquitoes quite as much this year! Beyond those reasons, I'm enjoying this garden bed for it's simply beauty. I really love the finished look!


3) Vegetable Garden
     This is the main focus of our gardening! David spent several weekends creating four 4x8ft. and one 4x4ft raised bed gardens. We then determined the vegetables we wanted to grow and created a plan according to the principles of square foot gardening. We were able to plant and grow a lot in these beds! We're excited to grow and preserve some of our own food! We're also delighted to be able to raise the children with an experience of where food comes from (beyond the store)!
The large beds line the fence to make the most use of our small backyard. 


brussels sprouts, broccoli, spinach, collard greens, curly-leaf kale, red swiss chard, sweet potatoes


red onions, scallions, yellow onions, romain lettuce, lima beans, crook-neck squash, zucchini squash, corn, green beans


purple hull peas, zipper cream peas, okra, japanese eggplant, butternut squash


green bell pepper, red bell pepper, jalapeno, sweet banana pepper, grape tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, bradley tomato (good for canning), red beefsteak tomatoes (good for slicing and eating), Cherokee purple tomatoes (good for slicing and eating), sweet basil, lime basil, purple basil, picking cucumbers, cucumbers (for slicing and eating)


cantaloupe


Strawberries
(The hangers were already on the fence. We thought we'd make use of them by growing strawberries in baskets. Plus, they should also attract some pollinators to the garden beds)
 Other Areas
The back patio:


Outside Activities/Toys Organization
     I cleared out half of the shed for use in storing the children's outside activities and toys. We can now easily choose activities and then put them back away. 
Activity/Toy bins include: gardening, chalk, bubbles, water, sand (shovels, molds etc), construction trucks, and sports (balls). Tools used in the exploration bins are stored within those bins. 


The gardening activity bin
   We would still like to add a screen door to the house. The grass will also need some attention as it did not come back as nice and full as it had been previously. Otherwise, we're finished with this home project. It took us a few months of work, but we are now thoroughly enjoying the result. It's such a nice space of our home now! Gardens are just happy places, don't you think? 

Monday, April 24, 2017

8 Non-toy Toys

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     Sometimes the best toys are non-toys. They're those bits of random objects around the house that can be repurposed for play. After all, don't you know that the best part of a new toy is the box?!

     The following is just a few of the activities I've created over the last few years. Some have been more successful than others. They have all been wonderful to offer the children when they need something new and/or interesting and interactive. 

1) Coin Drop
     This activity is made from a baby oatmeal container and milk jug caps. The bottom of the container is metal and makes a sound when the coins are dropped into it, which has added to the enjoyment. When noise isn't desired, though, I added a piece of felt to the inside. The children have played with this activity so much that the slit in the top is nearly worn out. 

      Also, this activity pairs well with a tot school unit on the book *Corduroy by Don Freeman. It's a safer alternative to using real coins for little ones. 

2) Jingle Bell Socks
     This activity has been great for our 0-1 year olds. It is made from a package of infant socks (0-6mo.) and small bells. I placed a single bell in one sock, two bells in another, and three in the third sock (that fourth sock walked away from me and I never found it!). I then sewed up the top of the sock, leaving the cuff intact. The cuff, actually, provides a great place for little hands to hold. Who needs fancy plastic rattles when you have socks?! haha!

3) Foam Bead Lacing
      The idea of this activity is to practice fine motor skills by lacing the pieces onto the string. It's made from a foam pool noodle and shoe string purchased from the dollar store. 

     This has been one of our least successful activities. First, the tip of the string was more difficult than expected for them to string through the beads. I think they would have been more successful if the end of the string wasn't so floppy. Or, simply wait until an older age than when I had introduced it to them. Second, if you notice there are bites taken out of the bead pieces. This was the main reason this activity isn't brought out very often and if it is there must be close supervision. I don't care to pick up dozens if small foam bits from the floor or have the activity itself destroyed! 

4) Scent Bottles
     The children really enjoyed these! These are simply a set of travel bottles within which I added a scented element inside (essential oils, extracts, pieces of herbs or other aromatic plants). The children have enjoyed squeezing the bottles and smelling the various scents! 

5) Velcro Sticks
     The children call these "sticky sticks." They are simply the largest colored craft sticks and pieces of velcro. These are fantastic for creative play, and we've often brought them in an activity bag for church. We've also used them to create various shapes (triangle, square, rectangle, pentagon etc.). They will hold the shapes up to their faces like frames and giggle. 

6) ?
     I'm not sure what you'd call this activity. It consists of an empty container (formerly filled with peppercorns) and cut pieces of pipe cleaners. The idea is to insert the pipe cleaners into the small holes of the lid. It's a great fine motor skill activity!

7) Pom-Pom Drop
     This activity is similar to the Coin Drop activity, but easier for younger ones to complete. It's created from an old dairy container. I purchased a value bag of various sized pom-poms from the craft store to accompany it. The nice thing about the container being something ordinary is that I can always get another lid and cut smaller holes for smaller pom-poms. So, it can increase in required fine motor skill as they do. 

8) Ribbon Pull Box
     This is also a favorite! I simply poked holes in a small box and inserted stripes of fabric (could do ribbon, but fabric strips were what I had on hand). The fabric piece are strung through two holes on different sides of the box. When one side is pulled the other goes in, and vise versa. We have played with this activity so many times. The children really enjoy when I add silly sound effects when they pull on one end causing the other end to move as well. 

     Like I said, these were created over the course of the last three years. I don't have near as much opportunity to create activities these days. It's nice that once created, we have them to play with for the next few years. Although slower, I still enjoy adding to our collection. It's so fun to offer the children activities that promote skill building and exploration (not to mention, free reused materials!). This sort of thing satisfies my creative spirit. 

 Note: The "*" indicates the inclusion of an affiliate link. I am personally an affiliate with Amazon.com, and as such receive a compensation for purchases made through the links. (Thank you!)

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

March 2017 In Our Home




They play while I read

Garden Beds
So exciting to see these beds! We've dreamed about them for so long!
     We have been dreaming of our own garden for many, many years. We attempted a container garden nearly every year we've been married, but had poor results. (Tricky to get the soil composition just right). When we moved into our house, we immediately began talking about putting in a raised bed garden. David carefully calculated the cost of all materials and we put funds aside when we could until we had the full amount to complete the project. Over the course of one weekend, David built all the beds and filled them with the various soils. I then got to determine what we'll grow and where. (This was very exciting to me and quite the privilege! I know nothing about gardening whereas David grew up with one, and so it would have been easy for him to simply do everything himself. Instead, he gave me the opportunity to have a hand in it as well. Since, I don't have a background in gardening I relied on the Farmers Almanac Vegetable Garden Planner to determine square foot gardening and companion planting. I also consulted various other websites to determine how many plants we needed to plant for our family (and some to share!).) Hopefully, it will be a productive gardening year! It will certainly be an educational experience for me. I'm so looking forward to fresh vegetables from our own backyard! I'm also looking forward to the children getting to see where food actually comes from beyond products in a store. 

Adjustment
    The adjustment to caring for three children three years old and under has been challenging to say the least. Attitudes and behaviors have been at an all time rotten. I've realized how my poor attitudes and behaviors while I was so exhausted during pregnancy and during these newborn days have so negatively and so deeply impacted the children. We've got a lot of work to do to dig out of this hole. 
1 month old!

    Breastfeeding has had a rocky start. Once again, I'm an overachiever milk-producer. As in, if I were to pump I can obtain 7-11oz in one session. Breastfeeding for us is "drink or drown." He was getting so much so fast by week three that he would projectile vomit many of his feeds. He was also having an issue with milk becoming trapped in his nose, which is problematic when you're an obligatory nose breather. Because he gets so much milk so fast he tends to gulp and gag during nursing sessions (all my babies have done this). All that gulping results in a lot of ingested air. One of our greatest struggles is a painful gassy belly and resulting sleeplessness. Again, this is the third time we're experiencing breastfeeding as such. It's heartbreaking to watch him struggle with his belly. It's also exhausting for Mama and Daddy to need to do so much to try comfort him (..all night long). I contacted a local lactation consultant and we determined another way to try to decrease supply. I'm hoping to hold out a little longer with breastfeeding, but I also know this path well. Poor sleeping and eating habits established early on are so very difficult to redirect later. (And, honestly, I'm struggling many days on only four hours total of sleep every night.)

Activities
     We're back with "tiny tot school" and "tot school"! I had really missed having an activity to do with each of the children each day. The approach of having just one activity per child per day is continuing to work out really well. 

      I've also desired to have a more purposeful activity for our outside time each day. Free play is great, but eventually they grow disinterested in the toys or area provided. One of my goals this summer is to provide something new for them to play and explore. Since we have been working on our garden this month, I thought it would be fun to provide a vegetable garden for them. I purchased some inexpensive plastic vegetables and buried them in their exploration bins. I also set out a bin of flowers and plastic pots for a flower garden. And then there was also the gardening tools and watering can that they already had. I've brainstormed a list of ideas I hope to incorporate each week. They don't have to play with the planned activity, but it's an additional option. 

Lessons Learned
What would I do without a baby carrier? Love the K'Tan!
    We're one month in to family and home life with three young children! Although I have many, many more lessons to learn, the Lord has already begun guiding me greater. A few areas within which I've been learning:

    1) A schedule is more essential than ever- If I'm going to adequately care for three little ones, meals and the housework all day everyday, then I must pre-determine what or who needs my attention when. Otherwise, I'll be expecting more from myself than possible and no one/thing's needs will be met (not to mention I'd be a fried and frazzled mama). A schedule also helps me keep everyone productively occupied throughout the day. Otherwise, the children will quickly fall into disputes with one another or make colossal messes in the house. Because Huxley's eating times can vary each day, I've found it best to use a basic framework in creating a schedule each day and then adjust the times as needed. I create the morning portion at the start of the day, and then write the afternoon portion at naptime. Anything we didn't accomplish during the morning gets moved to the afternoon. Scheduling helps me tremendously. I have intentions to begin taking photos of each element of our day and creating a photo chart/timeline to give the children a visual. I believe this will help them understand each piece and transition well. 

2) My approach to parenting has to be refined- Though I've been a parent for three years, I've come to the realization that I've had it all wrong. We have been so authoritative in our style. However as I examine the children's individual personalities and behaviors in terms of responses to situations,  I'm becoming painfully aware of how damaging that approach has been. The children have such different personalities, and they need me to learn and approach them according to how they can best be reached and respond. I cannot approach them both according to my personal parenting philosophy. I also cannot parent my sensitive child as I would my spirited child. Or, conversely, parent my spirited child as I would my sensitive child. None of these approaches work, and I fully see that. The Lord has really burdened my heart with a desire to learn and grow towards better parenting. This has meant laying aside former notions of parenting and learning new ones, as well as becoming a student of my children in terms of who they are and how to best relate to them individually. Their behavior is so heavily influenced by my parenting style. With three children now, I want to end the power struggles and begin enjoying each of them greater. 


New Books We're Enjoying This Month:
     I like to purchase at least one new book for each of us each month. For an additional look into the books we've enjoyed in our home, click the "Bookshelves" tab at the top of the page and then follow the links to our various online bookshelves. 

Note: The "*" indicates the inclusion of an affiliate link. I am personally an affiliate with Amazon.com, and as such receive a compensation for purchases made through the links. (Thank you!)

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Family Rules and Rewards (for toddlers)

 **  Please note that our parenting experience extends to a mere three years currently. We are learning how to approach family rules and expectations as we go! These rules and rewards will change as our family changes. The following is merely a sharing of our family's current experience. Perhaps, though, it may be helpful for determining rules and rewards for the toddler ages. **

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     At some point it happens- the need to establish household rules. Household rules are beneficial for the child and the entire family. They, in fact, allow all individuals to thrive. Rules provide guidance to proper behavior in a predictable manner. They aren't arbitrary, nor are they reactive. They establish boundaries and limits that teach a child how to conduct himself in a variety of situations and settings. 
     
     A toddler is experiencing a developmental stage in life in which he desires independence and will explore his limits. He's also wrestling with feeling big emotions but lacking in the ability to communicate or control those emotions. As a parent, it's my responsibility to help him navigate emotions and impulse-control so that he may develop emotional intelligence and maturity as he grows into an adult who will then be a beneficial member of society. 
     
Our "time out" spot in our home. 
     The home and family are mini-societies and practice societies. Jill Savage describes the upbringing setting or time as our "internship" for life in her book *Professionalizing Motherhood. She contends that the lessons learned early in life within the home or relationships therein provide a foundation from which we will work from as adults. Rules within the home establishes a respect for authority and boundaries that exist for a purpose and must be followed, the same as within society. Obedience and respect for authority is learned. Rules also provide lessons in social skills and how to interact well with others. If a child can learn to get along well with his sibling(s), he can get along with anyone. Establishing rules within the home are a part of training a child to become a thoughtful, kind and productive member of society as an adult. 
     
      Establishing rules within the home requires discipline on my part as a parent as well. It's easy to just "go with the flow" and correct as needed. However, this pattern is diffcult for the child to follow. He doesn't clearly understand expectations for his behavior. He only learns of his misdeed through correction. In other words, he acts and then I would react. It appears as though expectations are arbitrary and perhaps subject to my mood/disposition. I can see how eventually the children may begin feeling guilt and shame for being "bad" as a result of constant fussing. Establishing rules in a more proactive and concrete manner provides them a better understanding of the expectation for behavior and allows greater opportunity for success. 
     
      Family rules aren't bad things! They're really quite beneficial!
     
     As our oldest child grew from baby to toddler, we began to see the need for establishing family rules. We determined that around the age of two was an appropriate time to introduce formal rules and consequences. We considered various behaviors that were applicable to the particular stage in development. I didn't want a list of "no...". Instead, I tried to write the desired behaviors and then clarified with specifics to the side. We have a copy of our family rules hung in our "time out corner" in our home, and can easily point to the list and show them which rule was broken during our discussion. 
     
     Below I have a copy of our family rules. 
Click to enlarge. Contact me to receive a copy via email. 

     Our approach typically includes three steps: 1) a reminder of proper behavior 2) a warning of consequence and 3) Time Out mat (following Jo Frost's method). I've learned that it's important to resist the temptation to ask, "Do you want to go to Time Out? Then, don't do ___." This seems to send the message that the child may direct the discipline. Instead, I've tried to train myself to say, "We do ____. If you choose not to, then you will need to sit in Time Out." 

     (There is certainly far more to discipline than mere rules and consequences. This post is intended to focus only the practical "how to" as it applies to our family.)

Rewards
Our jar is kept in our living room to be easily accessible and visible to everyone. 
      Along with rules, we also have a reward system for our children. A reward system is equally important as a rules system. A "reward" can be as simple as a word of praise. Or, it could be a visual reward. It could also be something tangible like a new activity, toy, book, treat or outting. Little ones are learning proper attitudes and behaviors, and it can easily become apparent that they are "bad" if they receive only correction. They really need to be affirmed that they've done well as well! The two systems are necessary for balance. 
   
       A reward system  recognizes and focuses on positive behavior. The creation of some sort of a system allows me to be more cognizant of offering them that recognition. It's easy as a parent to simply expect a certain standard of behavior, and neglect praising and/or rewarding them for it. By having a visible reward system, not only are they motivated to work towards the goal, but I'm more inclined to be prompted to offer them praise or a reward. My mama-heart needs to see the good/positive and offer praise just as much as the children need to receive it. 

     We initially used a sticker chart, but it quickly lost it's appeal. I then chose to use various size pom-poms placed into a jar. The pom-poms are new and exciting to them, which provides sufficient motivation. The various sizes allows the jar to be filled without a predetermined amount. 
  
      Any time we recognize the children having good behavior they receive a pom-pom for their jars. We try to recognize even the smallest act, as even that is important. Once the jar is filled we take the individual out for an ice cream cone, cookie or other special treat with just Mama or just Daddy. It's a simple concept, and yet has been so effective! 

    (Of course, eventually they will need to learn to exhibit proper behavior without a tangible reward, but for the toddler age presently we believe this is an appropriate course of action. His little face lights up with the offering of a pom pom or mention of working towards an ice cream cone reward, and so that's sufficient evidence for me!))   

Recommended Resources: 
Jo Frost's Toddler Rules by Jo Frost
*Time Out Mat
"Caught You Being Good Jar" idea and printable

Note: The "*" indicates the inclusion of an affiliate link. I am personally an affiliate with Amazon.com, and as such receive a compensation for purchases made through the links. (Thank you!)

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Monday, March 13, 2017

February 2017 In Our Home

They fill my heart with so much joy!

Parenting- 
     Now that I'm no longer pregnant, I'm able to see more clearly the toll that was taken on the children. I struggled with exhaustion and tensions were often so high. I was less patient, less teaching, less loving towards the children. Now on the other side, I feel as though it's going to take some time to make up for mistakes (ie yelling and stressing way too much). 
      I need to learn new understandings and approaches regarding parenting and the children's unique personalities. I picked up a few books that may be helpful: *Positive Parenting, *The Strong and Sensitive Boy, and *Raising Your Spirited Child. While I may not agree with or implement every nugget of information or suggestion put forth in parenting books, I do find them very valuable. It's so important to me to be continuously learning and growing in my roles. In order to do that, I need to seek out resources that will teach and encourage me. 

Note: The "*" indicates the inclusion of an affiliate link. I am personally an affiliate with Amazon.com, and as such receive a compensation for purchases made through the links. (Thank you!)

Tot Schooling-
     We've taken a total pause on tiny tot school and tot school while we adjust to a new member of our family and then host extended family for a week. We'll pick it back up when it becomes clearer how our days will look now that we have three little ones. 

He's Here!
     The main event of this month has been the arrival of our newest baby! It was quite the whirlwind and surprising delivery. The next two weeks were spent resting, recovering and adjusting to our new family dynamics. It was absolutely wonderful to have that time. It was also a dream to have gotten that much time with David and with our family all together. Although the days have been rather stressful and chaotic while we figure out a new norm., I'm completely in love with our family of five. I'm so grateful for God seeing fit to grow our family. 

Blogging-
     My goal of publishing one new blog post each week and one social media post each day has collapsed. I thoroughly enjoy this space as my outlet for expression. It would be nice to maintain one personal interest/hobby. However, with the birth of our third child I'm realizing that those goals may not be feasible at this time. There is simply very little opportunity to be attentive to anything beyond caring for the home and children. It won't always be that way, but for now I must acknowledge that it is. I will continue to jot down post ideas and outlines in my notebook with the hopes of they one day becoming blog post. A daily or weekly deadline for publishing posts, however, will simply have to be let go of for now. I'll simply publish what I can, when I can. There are seasons in life, and that's a lesson I'm needing to really grasp presently. 

2017 Garden
   
 The arrival of a new baby is a perfect time to take on a big project, right? We've dreamed about a backyard raised bed garden for many, many years. We made plans and saved up the money to make that dream a reality. David spent one weekend building the frames and filling them with dirt. I used the Farmer's Almanac Vegetable Planner to plan out what we would like to grow. It won't be too long before we have our own delicious vegetables growing in our own backyard (...as long as the children don't pull anything up, that is. haha!)!




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