Monday, January 30, 2017

January 2017 In Our Home

Birthday Month
     January is birthday month in our home. Currently three out of four of us have a birthday in January (will Huxley be a fourth?). It's cake, cake and more cake! 

     For David and I, our celebrations were rather simple. We exchanged gifts (session at the local indoor golf simulators for him & a new water bottle for me). I made him a pound cake (he's not big into sweet birthday cakes). I decided to postpone my cake as that would've been three cakes in one month! 

Homemade donuts for
breakfast! Delicious!
     For Tennyson's third birthday, we decided to celebrate with a party this year. His interests have been fixated on backhoes for the past month. It all started with checking out the book, *Backhoe Joe by Lori Alexander from the library. Every week he would ask for this one book when we went to the library. Then, we found an episode of *Mister Roger's Neighborhood that featured a backhoe, and it became a daily request. So, a dirt digging/backhoe theme party was the plan! 

    We celebrated the day of his birthday in our usual fashion. I made a birthday banner and hung it on the wall. For breakfast, I made homemade donuts with chocolate and plain frosting for us all to enjoy. That evening, he opened gifts from David and I, as well the gifts the grandparents had sent him. I think I was equally excited for him to open gifts, as we had gotten him the two items he had been wanting for quite a while- his own copy of the *Backhoe Joe book and *a backhoe truck to play outside. We have read that book multiple times every day ever since! We then made him a family favorite for dinner of homemade macaroni and cheese with mixed vegetables (shh! Don't tell them mac and cheese doesn't normally include vegetables. haha). Afterwards, we enjoyed another special treat of ice cream sundaes. Birthdays are a good time for special treats!

      For his party, we continued the dirt/digging/backhoe theme. I kept things pretty simple in our preparations, but yet it was still a huge push to get it all pulled together. We were so glad we were able to offer him a party (but also glad we decidedly only do one party per child per year! Phew! haha). The children played in the backyard in the dirt with trucks or in the exploration bins that were filled with shovels and sand (ie the digging theme). We had simple ham & cheese sandwiches, blt sandwiches, pretzels, chips, fruit tray with dip, veggie tray with dip, dirt cups, and of course the cake. I semi-homemade (time was tight!) a peanut butter cake by modifying a boxed cake mix and then topped it with homemade chocolate frosting. I used a couple of tiny construction vehicles and crushed chocolate cookies for the decorations on top. It turned out pretty cute and quite tasty! Tennyson seemed to thoroughly enjoy the playtime outside with the others, cake and party in general! 

     (I really wished I had gotten some photos of the party. It was such a push to get it all put together that I didn't get a chance to take photos before guests began arriving!)

      Next year will be Annelise's turn for a birthday party. Hmm...perhaps if I start now on some of the preparations I can have them completed in time and not have to rush again. Heh, probably not!

      Flashback- Tennyson's 1st Birthday Party

3 years old!
(Being silly wearing Daddy's cap!)
Tiny Tot School & Tot School
     We've slowed down in our "school" activities quite a bit. I just haven't been able to keep up with everything now that I'm in the final weeks of pregnancy. We had reached a point in which nothing was being accomplished, and I hated that the materials and opportunities were being neglected. Since my intention with "school" at this point is simply purposeful activities we can do together each day, I decided we'd try to simply complete one tiny tot school and one tot school activity each day (the full schedule for a day of tot school with our curriculum usually includes 3-4 activities each day). And...success! 

    I love having a purposeful activity for us each day. It really helps focus energy and keep down the chaos that could erupt with too much free play. (Free play is good, but too much free play results in sibling squabbles and a ridiculously messy home). It's also, of course, a nice time we can spend together and invest in family relationships. I think one activity each per day will be how we proceed for the foreseeable future, especially once Huxley arrives. 

Lessons Learned- Teach vs. Tell
19 months old!
(Enjoying the sunshine
 and outside playtime!)
      As Tennyson as gotten older, he's begun to mimic our words of correction. He will give a "no instruction" to Annelise regarding a behavior, much like we do. For example, he might tell her at mealtime, "Sister! Don't throw your food!" While the instruction is completely warranted, it coming from a little three year old mouth sounds oh so ugly. It sounds bossy. It sounds unkind. It's not the kind of sibling behavior we desire for our children. I've therefore begun to think creatively on how he can better say those comments. I tell him the way he said [____] wasn't best and ask him how we can instead encourage her to make the right choice or have the right response. So, for the food throwing incident I might have him repeat me saying, "Annelise, our food goes in the bowl or in our mouth, not on the floor." The same applies in instances in which she behaves poorly and then he behaves poorly in response. How can we encourage one another to have the right response? The heart is for each of them to see that we all work together in a family to encourage and to help each other make wise choices.  

       This effort has been a very strong lesson to me personally as well. How often am I giving a "no" instruction and focusing on the negative behavior alone? (Answer: way too often!). It takes an extra effort to pause (ie calm the emotional response) and then provide teaching and encouragement. If I want Tennyson or any of the children to demonstrate a certain attitude or behavior, then I absolutely must model it myself. I can't possibly yell "no!" or "don't...!" etc. constantly at my children, and then expect them to have a better response. That's nonsense, not to mention ineffective. Of course they're going to treat one another in that manner .. that's what they've seen! 

     This is requiring a lot of retraining of my natural response. Many times, I miss the mark but then remember and repeat myself in the way in which is desirable. It's a very slow process, but I feel like it's a move in the right direction. (Parenting is parent-training too (at least for this Mama!)). The subtitle of the book *Sacred Parenting is absolutely true- raising children shapes our souls. 

(Note: There are absolutely instances in which a "no" instruction is warranted. Forget the positive perspective, they need to understand that boundary immediately or well. The above is in regard to other instances in which a little flexibility in the approach is appropriate). 

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:
    • *Devotions for Sacred Parenting: A Year of Weekly Devotions for Parents by Gary Thomas
      • I love *Sacred Parenting and *Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas. These two books alone have transformed my perspective and approach towards these entities. I highly, highly recommend either of these books. The devotional book has been a wonderful resource for daily/weekly doses of wisdom. 
    • *Love and Respect: The Love She Most Desires; The Respect He Desperately Needs by Emerson Eggerichs
      • We're going through this book with our small group from church. I'm not impressed so far, but perhaps it will surprise me as we continue to work through it. (Since reading Sacred Marriage, nothing else has compared). 
    • *Professionalizing Motherhood by Jill Savage
      • I had the expectation that this book would be about applying the characteristics of a profession or career that takes place outside the home or mothering role and applying it to motherhood or homemaking. For example, setting objectives/goals, establishing a schedule, attire etc. However, it is nothing of the sort. It's just an individual's musing on motherhood. That's not necessarily bad, but it's not what I was anticipating based on the title of the book. I'm not entirely impressed with it thus far, but I'm not finished either. Perhaps it will surprise me and change my opinion of it by the end. 
  • Tennyson
  • Annelise:
    • *The Pout-Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen
      • We checked this book out from the library and the children enjoyed it so much that we added it to our home library. The writing is really creative in it's rhyme and rhythm, and overall very well done. 

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

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the great reminder about no instructions! Something I definitely can improve on! Sounds like an adorable party!


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