Thursday, March 1, 2012 | 1 Comment »
A couple of weeks ago at MOPS, I heard Nadia Swearingen-Friesen speak on how her family gets things done without her having to nag, scream and yell all the time. It is a brilliant plan using popsicle sticks and a cup or jar.
Here is Nadia's intro to using her stick method:
Using Sticks to Build a Structure In the early days of parenting, we often have a clear vision of what we want to
teach our children. We talk about what lessons and life experiences are important
to offer our family. And yet, somehow, in the hustle and bustle of a way-too-busy life,
we lose sight of those early goals. We find ourselves living a life that is out of control
and facing the reality that we are pulling our children through day-to-day tasks.
There is a better way! Together we will discover this unique program that teaches
our children to internalize tasks, reduces family stress, minimizes materialism and helps
us to focus on the goals we once had for our children. Hands on ideas will be given
to accomplish all of the above and positively affect the discipline of our children.
You can find our more about Nadia on her website: nadiaswearingen-friesen.com and her blog: nadiaswearingen-friesen.blogspot.com. She also mentioned that she will have a book coming out at some point this year. I will definitely be getting it!
I took about 3 pages of notes from her talk...it was that good! I came home and told Robert all about it. We agreed that we would give it a try since it seemed like a no fail method. Here are the notest that I took. I hope I didn't get anything wrong, but I think you will get the idea and be able to make it work for you family if you wish to do so.
She suggests that parents start out by asking themselves these questions:
1. What do we want for our children?
2. What sort of parents do we want to be?
3. What type of children do we want our children to be?
4. What type of adults do we want them to grow into?
5. What goals do we have for our children?
The answers that she and her husband came up with were:
-they do not want to nag or scream at their kids...kids hate it and parents hate it.
-they don't want to be tired, stressed or worn out...parents are only given 18 years with their kids, so we should make the most of it.
-they aren't servants, they are teachers...we need to teach our children how to behave and how to do the things they need to do.
For the kids:
-responsible children- it's not a parent's job to do for their children, but it's their job to teach their children.
-children who know what to do and do it- most children already know what to do, but they don't act on it.
-healthy kids- we can teach them how to be healthy and show them healthy things that they like.
-standard of things that happen everyday- a rhythm or schedule of sorts for the family.
-music and reading everyday- kids manage it themselves. Reading brings academic success, and academic success brings choices (meaning you can choose your path in life).
-promote delayed gratification- wait and think about a purchase/toy. if kids earn something, it will mean more to them.
-kids should play together- siblings need to value each other, listen to one another, and get along.
These questions and answers will help you decide what should go on your children's sticks.
Using the sticks...
For each child, you get a cup or jar and some popsicle sticks.
Nadia's toddler/preschoolers' sticks had symbols/drawings of these things on them:
-get dressed...draw a shirt and pants
-clean breakfast dishes...draw a plate
-brush teeth...draw a tooth brush
-read/look at a book...draw a book
-play outside...draw a sun
-take a nap (if they don't nap, then they can read in bed for quiet time)...draw a bed
-clean up...write the word "Clean"
For school aged children you can have two colors of sticks, or just color the outer edge of some of the sticks. One color is for before school, and one color (or the sticks with the colored outer edge) is for after school.
Nadia's older kids' sticks have these written on them:
-get up on time
-clean breakfast dishes
-pack a healthy lunch
-get school stuff together
-leave for the bus on time
-clean up school stuff and unpack lunch
-5 minutes cleaning room
-15 minutes of reading
-help mom (wonderful stick! kids will actually come and ask you what they can do for you!!!)
-lay out next day's clothes
-set alarm and get to bed on time
How it works...
Every morning the kids dump out their sticks and put them in their own order (if they want to eat breakfast before making bed, they can, etc). After they accomplish each chore, they can put the corresponding stick in their jar. If, at the end of each day, they have all of their sticks in their jar, then they get a golden stick. When they have 10 golden sticks, they get a prize or money or whatever you think their "currency" is. Nadia's kids get legos. My kids will get a pack of gum or tic tacs (they are super easy to please...haha!).
She also has a discipline chart to go along with this. She suggests this chart for ages 4 and up. The chart holds 3 ears and 3 mouths for each child. When a child disobeys or doesn't listen, an ear is removed from his chart. When a child mouths off or says something he shouldn't, an eye is removed from his chart. Under each ear and eye are the words, "help mom." Brilliant! So when an eye or ear is removed, the child has to do whatever Mom asks them to do when she asks them to do it. If they don't, then they lose another ear. If the child loses 3 ears or 3 eyes in a given day, Mom takes away a golden stick. My kids would hate to lose a golden stick!
She also has what she calls initiative sticks. These are special sticks that her kids get when they do something that is not on their sticks or that a parent didn't ask them to do. After getting 3 initiative sticks, they get a golden stick.
It sounds like a lot, but it's really not that hard once you get the sticks made. Today is our first day, and my kids are LOVING it! They are so excited about putting a stick in their jar. I'm excited about it too. I haven't had to remind them of anything today. And I loved hearing SG ask me how she can help me! I'm sure the newness will wear off and I will have to remind them to look at their sticks some, but I really think this is going to be a great asset to our family!
I would love to know if any of you try it and what you think about it!
Tuesday, February 14, 2012 | 1 Comment »
Today is a HUGE day for me. I am so nervous, and I am second guessing myself. I keep thinking that a homeschooling (yes, we decided to make the leap and homeschool again!) mother of two who still doesn't have all the Christmas decor taken down should not be going back to school two nights a week! But that is exactly what I am doing.
Tonight I will drive onto a college campus for the first time in 9 years and find my way to classroom VON224 to join with other photographer wannabes in the class Photography 1. I have butterflies in my stomach and a fog in my head. I keep going through my checklist of books and equipment to make sure that I don't forget anything.
I just know that I will be the only 30 something in the class. I think I am even older than the teacher. Ha! I'm also thinking that all the young whipper snappers will have taken photography in High School, so they will all know more than I do.
I hope I am exaggerating!
I know it's all going to be fine, that I'm going to be ok. This is a great decision. One that is going to better prepare me for assisting rojo in the future. And speaking of rojo...I will probably be the only student who has such a great tutor waiting for me at home. Nice!
Ok. My nerves are settling, and my confidence is rising. Now off to tackle my to do list for the day, so I will feel like I have it together when I leave for class tonight.
I might need to shorten my list...
Tuesday, January 17, 2012 | 5 Comments »
As I was helping SG with her homework, I became very frustrated with traditional school and how it is affecting her.
Let me start by saying that Nancy Hill Elementary is a great public school. The curriculum is really good. I would prefer a Waldorf inspired curriculum, but theirs is great for a traditional approach. I really appreciate their Math and Science programs. They have exceeded my expectations. The other subjects are great too, but I was leery of Math and Science for some reason. So seeing how great they are was a unexpected surprise to me.
The faculty is really great too. They truly care about these kids. SG's teacher is really sweet, and seems to be so patient and understanding. The principal is wonderful. She is so kind and takes the time to engage with students and parents. All the faculty does. Every time I am at the school I feel as though all the teachers know me, and I am by no means a PTA/PTO/volunteer Momma, so they really have reason to know who I am except for seeing me at pickup, drop-off and school functions.
And the kids...oh the kids. They are so cute, sweet and friendly. They don't have as much as families in other suburbs, and many of them don't have a great home life, but they really seem to be into school. I've been to 6 school functions in the last 3 months, and I have been shocked at the number of families in attendance. From curriculum night to the school festival, there has been a great turn out. I think this speaks highly of the families at Nancy Hill.
With all of those positives, I do have some negatives. One is the schedule. SG is 7 and in 2nd grade. I wish her school allowed more time for unstructured play. She goes to school from 8 AM to 2:20 PM. Here is her schedule:
8-10am - Classroom
10-11am - Recess and Lunch
11-1pm - Classroom
1-2pm - Mon - Music and Gym
Tues - Art
Wed - Music and Gym
Thurs - Computer and Library
Fri - Study Time (so there is no homework for the weekend)
2-2:20pm - Get school work together and clean up
We get home around 2:30 and have snack/relax time until 3pm. We do homework from 3 to 3:30/45 depending on how much she has. By the time homework is over, I have a weepy, touchy, moody little girl on my hands. Her mood does change for the better once her homework is put away in its folder and she's relaxed some more, but while she's working on it, her attitude stinks!
Between 8 AM to 3:30 PM SG only has 3 hours of fun/down time. And only 1 hour (recess and snack time at home) of those 3 is unstructured fun/down time. This frustrates me. I believe that children should have plenty of free time to play and use their imaginations. Maybe I should delay homework time so she gets more playtime before doing school work again. But I don't multitask very well (it's true!), so it doesn't quite work if I try helping her with homework while preparing dinner. And she doesn't seem to want to stop playing to focus on homework. It just seems better to do homework earlier... except for the nasty attitude that comes out.
The only other negative really worth mentioning is that Nancy Hill is not a Waldorf school. If we could afford Four Winds Waldorf, SG would be attending there! But right now my options are homeschool or the local public school.
I've been considering pulling her out of school over Winter Break and homeschooling for the spring semester. I'm wondering if I can handle the stress right now. I'm wondering if the kids can put up with me if I don't handle the stress very well. Ugh. I have two months to make up my mind.
With homeschool, I can give her the Waldorf approach to education, and I can give her plenty of unstructured play time. She loves homeschooling, and yes, she still has weepy, touchy, moody days at home. But these instances are more spread apart than they are now that she is in school. She loves being in school too though. She is a social butterfly and strives to be the teacher's pet. :) She is just the type of kid who will excel in either environment.
So what to do?
Prayers are appreciated!
Tuesday, November 1, 2011 | 6 Comments »
Two blogs this morning discuss the idea of letting go of super mom. Minimalist Mom writes of it here. And over at Simple Mom, Tsh wrote out a list of things she doesn't do and asked readers to leave their own list in the comments. I joined in. Here is my list:
I don't change the sheets every week...I don't even change them every 2 weeks.
I don't dust until I see a thick layer of it on my furniture, and even then, I only dust when company is coming.
I don't vacuum or mop more than once a month.
I don't finish a book before starting another one...unless it's a novel. Then I don't do anything until I finish it.
I don't put the laundry away the same day I wash, dry and fold it.
I don't iron unless I'm going somewhere fancy, which isn't very often.
I don't bathe my children or myself everyday.
I don't stick to my budget as well as I should.
I don't feel shame about the above don'ts. :)
Whew! That is a lot of don'ts. It feels good to put them out there. I'm okay with this list. I have a lot of do's, and they balance out my don'ts. There are some don'ts that I would like to turn into do's, but I'm not going to focus on that until my current do's are solid habits. :) It's all about priorities, right?!
I blogged a list similar to this last April. You can read it here: Confessions of a Tired Mom. I don't necessarily consider them confessions of a "tired" Mom anymore. Now I think they are confessions of a normal Mom. We all have things we are good at, things we strive to be good at and things we will never be good at. Ha! I think I am starting to accept this fact and focus mainly on the things I'm good at. My do's are more important than my don'ts. Yours are too!
Monday, October 31, 2011 | Leave A Comment »
My blog over the last 3-4 months is full of posts that tell of brokenness, confusion, and fatigue. But also of faith, trust, and hope. I've experienced quite the rollercoaster of emotions this summer. The ride isn't over, but I do feel that trust in God (and my yoga practice...smile) is helping me to level out a bit.
I've been taking my time in reading Ann Voskamp's book, 1,000 Gifts. I started it last Spring, and I'm still not finished with it. But I truly think about it's message every day. It's almost as if I have to read it in doses to truly digest what is being said. She talks about finding gifts/blessings from God in the beautiful, the mundane, and even in the ugly.
I've experienced a lot of ugly in my life. And this book is helping me to look at my ugly in a different way. For a while this summer, I lost sight of acknowledging my gifts in this particular life rollercoaster I'm on. But every once in a while, I would pull out my inspiration journal and jot down a few.
This past weekend, I was looking over old journals and reading what dreams, desires, hopes, expectations that I used to have. It's nice to see the ones that have come to pass. But it's hard to read the ones that are still in progress, desires that have not yet been achieved. Desires that I still have and still pray for.
So today, I pulled out my inspiration journal to look back over 2011 and only read positive things. Quotes, thoughts, scriptures, gifts that bring encouragement and hope. I realized that I haven't been blogging these gifts. Rereading them today has brought a lot of comfort and assurance.
They won't mean the same to you as they mean to me. But I know that reading of another's gifts helps me see some of mine that I might be overlooking.
My list to 1,000 gifts...
191. white capped mushrooms growing in the yard
192. catching lightning bugs
193. opening up and putting myself out there
194. women helping women..."you are not alone"
195. Mt 5:3-10...The Blessing
196. planting seeds
197. hands smelling like dirt
198. little hands holding worms
199. handmade gifts
200. birthdays so close together
201. Peter Pan hat on a little head
202. wooden dagger in a little hand
203. wide eyes over a gnome doll
204. birthday crowns and banners
205. Oreo cupcakes
206. fresh strawberry cupcakes
207. a husband who bakes
208. birthday card and gifts from miles away
209. reminders to pay attention to God's gifts
210. "I pay tribute to God by paying attention."
211. jar full of lightning bugs
212. a sensitive girl crying over a smashed bug
213. making the right decisions even though they're hard
214. a quiet house
215. checking in
216. knowing that "there is nothing new under the sun." we aren't alone in our struggles and lives
217. smell of fresh produce
218. packed refrigerators
220. ice cream mustaches
222. new friends
223. rain on a tin roof
224. glass walls
225. cool mornings
227. nature hikes
228. wild flower bouquets
230. perfectly roasted marshmallows
231. lighter fluid
232. Nana/kid time
233. Nana detox - it's hard, but it means that she was here to keep the kids so I could get away
234. hands smelling of basil
235. salad from the garden
236. showers from the hose
237. humming while exhaling...thank you yoga!
238. hula hooping with my girl
239. successful potty training :)
240. faithful friends
241. clouds scattered across the sky
242. wildflowers beside the highway
243. kids believing that toys can become real
244. songs leading me in worship
245. butterflies drinking nectar
246. "Mommy, you're pwetty"
247. "I wuv you, Mommy"
248. "Mommy, you smell yummy"
250. the 90 days
251. giddy feelings when his hand touches mine
252. butterflies in my stomach
253. brutal honesty
254. uninhibited communication
255. positive change
Monday, September 12, 2011 | 2 Comments »