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Saturday, November 30, 2013

Sponges, Part II


In our last blog we discussed how children absorb everything.  They copy the good things we do, and the bad things we do.  We want to give them good things to mimic on purpose. One of the first things I think about is a love for reading.  If you have young children, read to them.  If your children are 7 – 11, read together.  Have your children read to you, and you read to them.  If your children are 12 – 17, encourage them to read for fun.  Find a subject they are interested in, take them to the library, and require them to read – particularly during school breaks and the summer.   Let your children see you reading.  If you struggle with reading, read anyway.  The more you read, the better you will get, and ….. your children will see your reading.  Why is reading so important?  Reading helps children develop language, speech and communications skills.  It helps them develop a strong vocabulary which will help them in school, and in life. When reading to young children, reading helps the child develop a closer relationship with you. My children loved our reading time before they went to bed.  It was their quiet time with me.  When older children read, it helps them explore new concepts and discover different places.  Reading helps children use and develop their imagination. 

One of my sons told me today how much he hated reading as a child; but, he said, you made me do it.  He read all the Berenstain Bear books when he was little, and then as he grew older, all the Star Wars books.  He didn’t like a lot of variety but he did learn to enjoy reading.  

Thought for the day: Reading is a gift that keeps on giving. It is one of the most important gifts you can give your children.  If you have never been to your local library, or you have not been in a long time, make a decision to visit this week.  Discover all the wonderful books and other resources that are available for FREE. To find libraries in your area, search http://www.publiclibraries.com.



Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Sponges

Sponges.  That’s what children are. From the time they recognize you, until they are grown, they watch everything you do, and do their best to mimic it. I remember a TV commercial from my childhood: there was a dad and his little boy.  The dad was painting the side of a house; the son was painting the side of the house. The dad was driving his car.  The little boy was driving his car.   The little boy did everything his dad did.  Like father, like son. The dad picked up a stone; the little boy picked up a stone.  The dad threw the stone; the little boy threw the stone.  This scenario continued until the last scene where the dad lit a cigarette.  As the dad put down his cigarette pack, the little boy looked at his dad smoking, and picked up the cigarette pack. The commercial was an anti-smoking commercial and made the statement – "Like father like son – think about it".  That son was a sponge, watching and soaking up everything his dad did.

Our children are like that too.  Everything they see you do, everything they see on TV, at school, they absorb it just like a dry sponge.  They take it all in, and they imitate.  This is why it is so important what you let your children watch on TV, or what you expose them to.  As moms, we want the best for our children.  We want them to live healthy meaningful lives.  I ask the question: what did you do or say today that you want your child to mimic?  What did you do or so today that you do NOT want your child to repeat? 

A young mom told me recently that she heard her 4 year old scold her 2 year old little sister using a curse word.  She said her daughter did not use the word viciously but in a simple straight-forward manner.   After she tried to contain her laughter, because it really was funny; she had to explain to her daughter that she could not use that word.  Her daughter was confused because she knew she had heard her mom say the word.  This mom told me she knew she was going to have to watch her language, and “clean up her act”, because she did not want her daughter going around cursing. 

This does not just apply to young children.  One of my grown sons teases me by telling me that he drives like me, but better (of course).  When I ride with him, I realize he picked up a couple of my bad driving habits.  My husband and I taught him how to drive; we taught him the rules of the road; however, how I drove spoke much louder to him, then what I taught. 

What are some good things you want your children to absorb?  Over the next few blogs we will discuss some good habits and traditions to model in front of your children. 

Thought for today: Ephesians 5:1 (Message Bible):  Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. 


I found the old “Like Father, Like Son” commercial on YouTube:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cmzDLzqQ-A0.  Enjoy!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Mama Education


I hope you caught my last Village Moms post, Thriving Families. If not, then check it out here. One of the ways I keep my family thriving is by educating myself and I wanted to elaborate on the different ways I do that. I think it’s extremely important to keep updated on all the different research studies that are published, in addition to following other mom bloggers, reading books and keeping in touch with different experts on various issues that we as moms face. I am also a big believer in simply asking friends, family, teachers and pediatricians their opinions or ideas on solving problems.

I love reading. I don’t get to read as often or as much I would like to but that’s how life is as a busy mom. I am very thankful for my library and utilize it frequently. It helps save money and space in my home. (If I love a book and think I’ll use it as a reference then I’ll go ahead and purchase it. I use half.com and amazon.com to buy used books.) I set aside time each morning and evening for the purpose of reading. It takes me awhile to get through books but when I am focused on setting aside time, even if it’s only ten minutes a day, I make slow but steady progress.

Favorite Books
Most of the books on this list are straight forward parenting books, some are Bible studies and some are a combination of the two. 

Love & Logic by Jim Fay & Foster Cline
Love & Logic is based on using choices as a way of getting your children to do what you want. For example, “Do you want help cleaning up the blocks or would you like to clean up alone?” I used this philosophy in my daycare and always had good luck with it. It definitely takes practice to get in the habit of offering choices. It really made me examine how I word questions or demands to my children. There are other points in this book that definitely make it worth reading. Plus, it’s filled with pretty funny stories! They have a variety of books designated for different age groups as well.

This is more of a parenting book and Bible study rolled into one. I liked this because I could read it very slowly. I didn’t have to finish the entire book straight through. I could read a chapter and put it away for awhile, if life got busy. My favorite chapter was “Jacob’s Mood Toward His Brood”. The book gives the background on Jacob and his family and the favoritism he had experienced as a child and how that influenced his own parenting. Very interesting stuff! The book was more about what these parents really screwed up and how to learn from it. 

Married Mom, Solo Parent by Carla Anne Coroy 
This is a good book for those of you who have husbands that work alot or are away from home due to traveling for work or being in the military. It’s full of encouragement and different ways to combat the loneliness, anger and frustration of being married but not necessarily feeling like it. Carla's website has great information and other resources. 

Bad Kids Of The Bible by Thomas Craughwell 
This is also another parenting book/Bible study. Each chapter tells the story of the “Bad Kid” and then explains what we can learn from the problem and how it applies to parenting.

The Five Love Languages of Children by Gary Chapman & Ross Campbell 
I highly recommend this book! The Five Love Languages is such an interesting break down of how we all give and receive love. The Five Love Languages for Children applies the concepts to our children. You can take a quiz here to better assist you in understanding your love language. I think the first step is understanding your own love language and then understanding your child’s love language. It can truly transform any relationship in your life!

Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Theodore A. Tripp 
I read this book before I began my parenting journey. It was very educational for me because I was about to become a mom so I really had no idea of what the future would hold. It is a book that you’ll want to really be able to focus and concentrate on.

The Duggars: 20 and Counting! by Jim Bob & Michelle Duggar 
Yes, I am a huge Duggar fan! No, I do not want 18 of my own children but I absolutely love alot of their parenting philosophies. Jim Bob & Michelle cover alot of different issues from their debt-free living, potty training, feeding a huge family on a budget and really great organizing tips. Be prepared when you read this because their viewpoint is dramatically different from most of society. You will be truly touched at how they love each and every one of their children. Check out their website as well.

Your Child’s Health by Barton D. Schmitt, M.D., F.A.A.P. 
Our son’s pediatrician actually gave us this book. It’s a great reference tool for medicine dosage, how to handle fevers, sleep regression, breastfeeding and a multitude of other health issues. It's very handy and I really am able to trust this information since our doctor gave it to us. You can also ask your child's pediatrician if there are any reference books he or she recommends.

I read this when my son turned 2. Gosh, that was such a hard year! I was having so many problems with my son and I thought that I had to be missing something when dealing with him. This book really helped me understand the natural tendencies of my boy and how to deal with them. I have not yet read “Bringing Up Girls” but I would guess that it is equally as educational. 

The Preschooler’s Busy Book by Trish Kuffner 
This is a great tool to have to solve boredom. Kuffner also has many other books. I have the Toddler Busy Book also.

This is filled with encouragement, funny stories and parenting help for every mama out there. 

God’s Promises and Answers by Word Publishing Staff 
I got this for my high school graduation and have referenced it frequently. It isn’t a parenting book but I always feel the Word of God is filled with applicable lessons and this book helps me find them.

Grace For The Moment by Max Lucado 
This is not necessarily a parenting book either but we could use a little grace as parents. We should offer a little more grace to ourselves as well as to our children. We all make mistakes and it’s what we do with them that counts.

There are many wonderful parenting books out there that address many issues so this is not a complete list of everything I would recommend. If you’re a new parent or about to become one then I also suggest you do a little research on Piaget’s Cognitive Stages of Development . This was one of my favorite topics to study in school. I think it’s really interesting and a good measure of how much you should expect from your child. 

Favorite Websites & Blogs 
These are a collection of sites that help me run my household more efficiently, be a better mom or are strictly Biblical. If I’m not connected to God then I am hopelessly lost as a parent. 
  1. Stacey Makes Cents  She’s funny, has great recipes and will teach you how to save money.
  2. Money Saving Mom This is a great one to help save money. Obviously!
  3. The MOB Society Sounds scary but it’s The Moms Of Boys Society. I love the encouragement, crazy stories and monthly prayer calendar. 
  4. Proverbs 31 Ministries Uplifting help and hope to navigate life.
  5. 100 Days Of Real Food To be honest, this one made me feel overwhelmed and guilty at first. However, if you want to make real changes to your family’s diet then this is a great tool. I take it with a grain of salt because I have neither the time, budget or interest to be able to 100% feed my family the way that Lisa does. I give her credit for being able to do it though! It’s definitely a great one full of recipes and free meal plans.
  6. Jen Thorn  Jen’s goal is to educate us and help bring us closer to God. 
  7. Focus On the Family  Great resource!
  8. Parenting Magazine Website  I used to get the magazine but the website is so great that I really didn’t see the need to continue my subscription, especially when the baby just loves to tear up my magazines anyway.
Parenting Classes
I do try to take parenting classes to continue my education. You can take a CPR/first aid class at any hospital. If your child attends daycare then you might even be able to join in when the teachers renew their certification. I recommend asking your daycare provider about it. Most hospitals offer other parenting classes like breastfeeding help, infant massage and how to talk to your kids about sexual issues.

I also take classes through my local Child Care Council. Most of the classes offered are evenings and weekends so even if you’re a working parent you can still attend. 
If you aren’t in the Detroit area then I would be happy to look up a Child Care Council for you. Just leave me a comment and I’ll get back to you.

My children are growing and changing every day. New issues arise constantly so I am always trying to find ways to better myself and the quality of life my children receive. With the technology at our fingertips, it really isn’t too difficult to do. I hope you have gotten some good ideas and found inspiration to continue educating yourself.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Thriving Families


A few months back, a dear friend posted a link for a free parenting magazine on her Facebook page. I was pretty excited because I think she's a fantastic mom and person so I looked into it immediately. I glanced through the Thriving Family website and liked what I saw so I decided to sign up for the magazine. It comes every two months and I always look forward to it. Thriving Family covers a variety of touchy issues such as pets in heaven, truth-telling, cultivating compassion in our children, weaning kids from the e-pacifier, age appropriate chores as well as games and recipes. It covers so much ground and is good, sound advice. You can sign up for Thriving Families here.

I wanted to share the free magazine with you all as well as ways I keep my family thriving. To me, having a thriving family is a journey. It isn't just one action or event that makes you thriving. It's an ongoing attempt to help your family be the best it can be. Here are the things I do:

1. Prayer
I start my day in prayer because it centers my eyes on the Lord and reminds me of my true responsibilities here in the world. Furthermore, it just helps me feel better and more confident knowing that I've brought my concerns to God. Even if it's just a simple "Lord, bless this day and my efforts."

2. Laugh, Laugh, Laugh
When things get really intense at my house I try to bring some laughter into the situation. I'll choose a silly story to read to my kids or we'll talk about a particularly funny memory. If you don't laugh, you'll cry!

3. Drinking Enough Water
Water consumption is very important to keep your mood boosted and hunger pangs at bay. It flushes toxins from the body and can help relieve tension headaches. If I'm feeling a little grumpy it's typically because I've overindulged in coffee and haven't had any water. 

4. Getting Plenty of Sleep
Sleep is such a precious commodity in our society. It seems that most of us just don't get enough sleep. We're overwhelmed by technology, which keeps our brains buzzing and can disrupt sleep. I try not to ignore my phone and computer for at least an hour before I want to go to sleep. This gives my brain a chance to slow down and not be stimulated by the light from the screens. I am guilty of falling asleep with the tv on, which is very disruptive to sleep. I've always believed a good day starts the night before with a good solid sleep. When I stay up late then I'm sacrificing having a good morning and enough energy for the following day.

5. Rest Time
My son went through a period of time where he didn't nap. It really was difficult because I had a new baby and I really needed that time during the day to catch up on chores or take my own nap.  I survived that period by putting everyone in the car and taking a drive. Both kids would fall asleep and I would just park in our driveway and read or pray. My son physically needed the nap and I needed a mental break. I decided to start sitting in my son's room with him to help him to fall asleep in his bed. It was the same frustrating routine every day: eat lunch, read stories, lay down. But instead of him falling asleep he would toss and turn, talk to me and make other random requests for different items. Sometimes it would take two hours to get him to fall asleep (if he even fell asleep at all!) and then the baby would wake up. I was so frustrated because I wasted two hours trying to get him to go to sleep and still didn’t end up with having the downtime I really craved.

I started noticing that around 3pm every day he would get really quiet and sit on the couch looking at books. I decided to try putting him down for a nap at 3pm instead of 1pm. Guess what? It totally worked. As it turned out, he really wasn’t ready for a nap at 1. 3pm was the magic time for us. It takes a little finesse to keep the baby awake until then but as long as she gets a tiny nap in the morning then she can take her second nap at the same as my son takes his. 

By observing my child, I was able to solve the issue of him not napping. If your child is too old for a nap then start including rest time into your schedule. Start small, say 10 minutes, and then extend the quiet time period until everyone feels refreshed. Your child could simply play or look at books in his or her room, just as long as they don’t come out. If your child has dropped his nap or seems more challenging to put down for a nap then reflect on your day. Maybe he or she isn’t getting enough physical activity or misses you. Some children may start wanting their backs rubbed or having a story before nap. Quiet time in my day helps me refocus my thoughts and energy. 

6. Giving Up Distractions
My biggest distraction is my phone. I have fun games, a camera, Facebook and Pinterest all on my phone, among many other things. Being a stay-at-home-mom, my social life is lived out mostly through Facebook. I rarely get a chance to see my friends or even call them on the phone. It’s so easy to check out what everyone has been up to through my phone. However, it is SO unnecessary and unimportant in the grand scheme of things. I had gotten into a really bad habit of always having my phone nearby and I had to stop it. I deleted Facebook from my phone and gave myself a couple of times each day to check Pinterest. I stopped taking so many pictures too. Even though I wanted to capture every beautiful smile, funny face and exciting accomplishments of my children, it ended up just encouraging me to pick up my phone even more. I started leaving it upstairs instead of bringing it with us all over the house. It has helped me to really engage with my children instead of being distracted by my phone. It’s one of the best things I’ve done to help my day go more smoothly. My children no longer have to compete with my phone for time and attention and I don’t drop it nearly as often.

7. Educating Myself
I have an associate's degree in Early Child Development so I am naturally interested in educating myself as a parent. I read a couple different parenting magazines and follow some great blogs to keep my mind open and see how other moms are handling different situations. When a situation arises that I have no idea what to do then I'll do a simple Google search to find out possible solutions. (I often post links to great articles on our Facebook page so make sure you like us!)

As a mother there are so many pressures that fall on our shoulders and it can be so overwhelming. I hope that Thriving Family magazine can help you as much as it helped me. We must be ever-changing in our methods because our children are ever-changing. What routines do you implement into your life to help keep your family thriving?