Saturday, November 19, 2011

Thanksgiving books...

This is an actual snipet of a conversation heard in our house earlier this evening:

Me: "Thanksgiving is so easy because we only have a few books and 3 movies."

Betsy: "Yeah, with Christmas we have like 3 books and 3 movies every day."

And this is very true. The difference between us, though, is that Betsy would end this conversation by saying, "Let's just skip some of them." Which is when I wonder how she is my kid. Because, no, we are not skipping any of them.

Thanksgiving is a lovely, easy holiday around here. The older I get, the more I love it. It is such a simple holiday. It is just about being grateful, eating, and being with your family. What's not to like?

We have a smattering of Thanksgiving books around here. (We have books for every holiday around here, from April Fool's Day to Chinese New Year.) Here are the best of the best:

1. Beyond Turkey by Debbie Herman and Ann D. Koffsky-a nice overview of the holiday, its origins and facts about it. This book also has a lot of activities included.

2. Giving Thanks by Jonathan London-a lovely book about a dad and his son walking through the woods and giving thanks. It's a nice reminder that we need to be grateful of this blessed planet that we are priviledged to live on.

3. An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving by Louisa May Alcott-we are big time "Little Women" fans around here. This story is in a similar vein.

4. The Thanksgiving Door-one of our favorites. Ed and Ann are an elderly couple who accidently burn their Thanksgiving dinner, so they go to a restaurant whose door is open. In the meantime, the family who own the restaurant don't know what to do about these people who have wandered into their Thanksgiving dinner. An excellent book about the true meaning of thanksgiving and family.

5. The Littlest Pilgrim by Brandi Dougherty. A very cute story about Mini, a pilgim girl who wants to be helpful but who is too little.

6. Thanksgiving in the Barn by Nadine Bernard Westcott-the girls would be mad if I didn't include this one, because it is their favorite. It is a pop-up book.

If you are looking for more books about the actual first Thanksgiving, I recommend The Very First Thanksgiving Day by Rhonda Gowler Greene (especially for little ones), Pilgrim Cat by Carol Antoinette Peacock, and The Magic School Bus at the First Thanksgiving (Betsy is a huge Magic School Bus fan and I highly recommend them all).

Another very nice book to add to your collection is Over the River and Through the Woods illustrated by John Stven Gurney. We only know 2 Thanksgiving songs around here-this one and "I'm Gonna Eat on Thanksgiving Day" by Laurie Berkner. (I think that it's on her Waddya Think of That CD.)

Also we have some fun books that feature characters that we love. We have them for most holidays.

Giving Thanks (Care Bears) by Quinlan B. Lee

Clifford's Thanksgiving Visit by Norman Bridwell

Just So Thankful (Little Critter) by Mercer Mayer

Blue's Thanksgiving Feast by Jessica Lissy

Happy Thanksgiving, Biscuit! by Alyssa Satin Capucilli

Our 3 Thanksgiving movies are A Peanuts Thanksgiving (a classic that everyone should own), A Garfield Thanksgiving, and A Winnie the Pooh Thanksgiving. All of them are wonderful.

I am very blessed this Thanksgiving, with my amazing husband and my wonderful girls encompassing my life, and with the ability to share my life every day with my other favorite people, my parents and my sister and her family. For me, there is nothing better in this whole world.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

A freckle-faced, red-haired girl...

We are getting ready for Halloween around here. Betsy is dressing as Pippi Longstocking, and Felicity is dressing as Belle from Beauty and the Beast.

Felicity's costumes are hand-me-downs from her cousin Mallory. Mallory and Felicity are our girly-girls around here. Every year Mallory picks out a new princess costume, and then a few years later Felicity wears it. April goes for the nice, Disney-store costumes, so they hold up well. So far Felicity has been a clown (which is a family costume that we all have to wear our first year trick or treating), Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, Snow White, and now Belle. Mallory has been Cinderella, Rapunzel, and this year is being Ariel, so we have a trove of costumes still to go through (Felicity can't wait to get her hands on the Cinderella costume).

Natalie is stuck being the clown this year.

Betsy is always interesting when it comes to her costume choices. She, of course, had to be the clown one year and also the Dorothy costume was hers. That was back when she was 2 and I could still pick out her costume for her. Once she hit 3, she started picking out her own costumes. She has been the Tin Man, Glinda the Good Witch, Tinkerbell, and a doctor. This year she is so excited to be Pippi. It was an easy costume to put together, really. We bought a red haired wig (the package said it was to dress up as a rag doll) and put wire in it and braided it to make Pippi's hair. Then I just picked out a denim and plaid dress that looked Pippi-ish from her closet, and we bought some striped tights. She's going to wear my boots.

(There will be pictures on my Facebook page, if you are interested in seeing it.)

We love Pippi around here. We have read Pippi Longstocking (the original book) by Astrid Lindgren twice. It is my favorite of the Pippi books. There are 2 sequels, which we are just finishing. Pippi on Board and Pippi of the Sounth Seas. The South Seas one was obviously written at the request of children wanting to know what Kurrkurrdutt Island is like (it is the island where Pippi's father is a canibal king).The books are a bit dated and certainly not totally politically correct. But they are very well-written, clever stories with a girl as the heroine, which I'm sure is more than half the reason Betsy likes them.

We also have the movie The New Adventures of Pippi Longstocking. It is an okay movie. I liked it a lot as a kid, so I understand why the girls like it so much. As an adult, I find it somewhat cloying and nowhere near as good as the books. But there is nothing objectionable in it.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Walking into spiderwebs...

I have had a lousy week. One thing happened after another, culminating in a trip to the hospital yesterday with what ended up being a kidney stone. My kids are sick, the weather is lousy (especially considering that we had to sit at the football game Friday night in the rain so that Betsy could cheer), I am afraid that I have taken on too much with my volunteering for the year. I'm whiny.

Anyway, I did finish an excellent book last Saturday and had every intention of blogging about it before my nightmare of a week reared its head. It is called The Story of Charlotte's Web: E.B. White's Eccentric Life in Nature and the Birth of an American Classic by Michael Sims. It is a really fascinating look at E.B. White's life. He was so interested in animals and spiders and really getting what he was talking about right.

Betsy and I have read Charlotte's Web twice now. I like to read it to her just before we go to the fair. It gives us such an appreiciation for what all goes into raising an animal. It is an excellent choice for kids who aren't quite ready to sit still for long periods of time because the chapters are quite short. (Betsy always says read more, we are used to long chapeters around here). It is such a moving book. Betsy cried the first time that I read it. It gets right to the point-Charlotte dies all alone, and no one ever knew that a certain spider had had so much to do with the outcome of the fair.

E.B. White based Charlotte's Web on his own farm and also on his childhoods spent in Maine. His whole life sort of culminated in this book. He also, of course, wrote Stuart Little. I read this to Betsy a while ago. My only experience with it prior to that was the movie with Michael J. Fox. The book is very, very different and downright odd. The biography illuminated me as to why and what White was trying to say. I think that I will get so much more out of it the next time we tackle it.

White wrote only one other book, The Trumpet of the Swans. We own it but have yet to read it. Sims only spends a few pages on it, so I still know little about it. When we get to it, I'll tell you my opinion of it.

I'm glad that it's Saturday, I'm ready for a new week. Hopefully it will go a little better...

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Another obsession...

Okay, so I have confessed to my obsession with sunscreen and Purell. I have owned up about reading poetry to my children twice a day. Tonight, another obsession that has reared its head since I had children.

I am obsessed with food.

Now, there is a caveat. I like food that is not good for me. I drink two cans of Sunkist every day. It is my vice. When the girls go to bed, my very favorite thing is to open my Sunkist and take a sip. Heaven.

So, when if comes to my girls, I do tell them all the time that pop is bad for you. I realize, they will eventually discover that I have neglected to tell them of its wonderful fizzy goodness. They will rebel. Until that time, however, they believe me, even as they understand that I am addicted to it wholeheartedly.

My main thing with the girls is that I have a desperate need to be sure that they are eating enough vegetables and fruits. Fruits are easy. The girls love almost all fruits. Betsy eats an apple everyday, and Felicity a banana. (I have to limit her to 2 bananas a day, as Nicholas swears that he once got very sick from eating too many bananas.) I buy all the berries that they sell at Kroger and we always have grapes. To make life easier, I take all of the grapes off of the stem and wash them, then put them in tupperware.

I do the same with vegetables. We always have lots of raw vegetables in the fridge. I wash them (and cut them, if they need cutting) when we get them home. Usually we have carrots, celery, spinach, broccoli, and cauliflower. We add in new things sometimes. This summer we found a lot of cabbage at the Farmer's Market, so we had a lot of that. In our own garden this year we have enjoyed tomatoes, cucumbers, and cherry tomatoes. I have found that the girls are more than willing to try things. Maybe my kids are just weird, but they really enjoy vegtables. I do try to buy organic stuff, and of course you can't beat the stuff we can grow ourselves.

So, the girls have a large serving of vegetables with lunch everyday. They have hummus with them most days. I like doing that because then if they aren't hungry enough for a sandwich, they have had a protein. (Sometimes Felicity is not hungry enough, but Betsy has a hollow leg and is hungry all the time.)

I like knowing that the girls almost always have a good lunch, and then I can be a little more lax with dinner. If we go to Wendy's for dinner, and they have cheeseburgers, it's okay. It's all a compromise.

As another example of compromise, take our breakfasts. We alternate all week between Honey Nut Cheerios and oatmeal. One day a week we usually have eggs, which we are blessed to get from our neighbors who own chickens. And then...Saturday. The rule on Saturday is that you get to choose whatever you want. Right now the choices are Pop Tarts, Fruit Loops, Apple Jacks, and Frosted Flakes. (I always have Frosted Flakes.) The girls look forward to Saturday, and at the same time, they aren't eating junk every day. It works for us.

I have two books to recommend on this topic:

1) The American Academy of Pediatrics Guide to Your Child's Nutrition. This is a handy reference book to have on the shelf to answer food realted questions.

2) Child of Mine: Feeding with Love and Good Sense by Ellyn Satter. This is a really great book on this topic. A lot of it is about understanding that your job as a parent is to provide good food, and your child's job is to eat. You cannot force food down your child's throat. But, equally important, you are the parent ultimately making the decisisons about the food that comes into you home.

As I have been writing, the Buckeyes have been losing. I am sad for my sister and my dad, who love watching them...

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Of sisters and stalkers...

I spent the day with my girls at a teddy bear picnic. As almost always, it was about Betsy. It was for her Daisy troop. So Felicity and I spent an hour and a half sitting on the picnic blanket while Betsy did the fun stuff. I'm thrilled that Betsy gets to do so many fun things, but I am sad that Felicity mostly just gets to watch. And then, when she is finally old enough to do whatever it is, then Betsy has moved on to the next thing.

That said, I love that my girls are close in age. I purposely didn't want to have them as close together as my sister and I are. (We are 14 months apart.) I always felt like I was just barely an "older" sister, as April always did things either with me or just after me. My girls are 3 years apart. It's nice because Betsy is truly older, but they are close enough in age to do things together. I have just cherished this summer, watching them playing together. They often hold hands, and it melts my heart. (April is still to this day my best friend, but we rarely hold hands, you know.)

Anyway, in honor of all of the sisterly love, here is a list of books that are good for introducing a new baby to your family:

1) What to Expect When Mommy's Having a Baby by Heidi Murkoff. This is an excellent explaining-pregnancy-to-a-toddler book. You can omit stuff if you feel like it's going into too much detail. I personally didn't. I have explained how babies are made to both of the girls many times. I'm pretty straight forward about it, and they ask me questions. It's one of those things that doesn't bother me. I know that not everyone feels that way, but for us, we have found that if we treat it like any other kind of question, it makes it easier to understand and less shameful.

2. What Baby Needs by William and Martha Sears. I like the Sears' because they are very into attachment parenting. I didn't do attachment parenting in this perfect way, but I did breastfeed and have the girls sleep in a bassinette in our room. I mostly liked this book for Betsy because it dealt with nursing as a big part of having a baby, and for us that was a big part of it.

3. What to Expect When the Baby Comes Home by Heidi Murkoff. Another What to Expect book. As always, it answers most questions a child could think up.

4. The New Baby by Mercer Mayer. A cute look at a new baby through the eyes of Little Critter.

5. A Pocket Full of Kisses by Audrey Penn. Most everyone in the world reads The Kissing Hand on the first day of school. This is the sequel, in which Chester's mother gives his brother a kissing hand too. Chester goes bananas. It's a good reinforcement of the idea that there is enough love to go around (as I tell the girls, love is not a pie).

As I wrap this up, I am as always listening to 80s music. Does anyone else find it creepy that so many 80s songs are stalker love songs? I have heard Every Breath You Take, Private Eyes, Sunglasses at Night, now it's on The Flame...

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Tales from a sunscreen nut...

Well, it's Saturday night. For me, that means I am listening to 80s music, catching up on my reading, preparing my Sunday School lesson for tomorrow, and realizing that I need to do a blog post to stay with my self-imposed goal of one per week.

I don't have a ton to talk about, but I can think of a few things.

Last week, when I talked about teeth, I wanted to mention that the brand of flouride that we use is ACT. I like it because you only have to use it once a day (once I bought the listerine brand and you have to use it twice a day). Also, to clarify about the singing, I sing a song to the girls while they "swish." It just makes the minute go faster. Betsy suggested it, because the child is ten times smarter than me and she is six.

I also wanted to give the Joy seal of approval to Aveeno lotion. My girls both have really sensitive skin that breaks into a rash pretty easily. This stuff heals it right away. We had always used Johnson and Johnson before, and one day we were somewhere that it wasn't available and we picked this up instead. It just works wonders!

Just as an aside, I am obsessed with sunscreen. That doesn't really have anything to do with anything, but in my mind, someone is reading this who really wants to know these odd things about me. And I do mean obsessed. My kids get slathered in sunscreen every morning. I've done all of this research into the best kinds and what all of the different products available can do for you. If you're interested in my opinion on this, I use Coppertone SPF 50 on the girls. Like I said, they get slathered first thing in the morning. Then, if it is a day that they are swimming, sweating, or the UV index is high, they get slathered again in the afternoon. I recommend keeping sunscreen in the car, near the door, little bottles in your purse-anywhere that you will be apt to use it. I do the same thing with Purell, which I am also obsessed with.

I have succeeded in making the girls hyper viligent about using sunscreen (and Purell). Unfortunately for us all, Nicholas could basically care less about sunscreen and I therefore have to worry if he has the girls for a "mom's day off." He's the fun one...

But that's okay. I like being the weird one. Weird is how I define myself. And the girls are okay with being weird too. We like to think that it makes us unique...

Friday, August 19, 2011

Two nights after a toothfairy visit...

Well, the tooth fairy has paid us a visit. It was a long time coming. Betsy has been wanting this to happen for, oh, at least a year. At school, she was one of the only kids who still had all of their baby teeth, so she is elated that she can go back to school toothless.

For Nick, it was bittersweet. She is growing up and there is just nothing to be done to stop it. Anyhow, I thought that I would use this moment to impart wisdom when it comes to kids' teeth and the dentist.

First off, my kids enjoy brushing their teeth. How did this happen? Well, I think two things, in addition to the fact that my kids are weird. I have brushed their teeth (with a toothbrush) since they were each 6 months old. At least twice a day. Usually after every meal. So they think nothing of it. Also, we have a timer in each bathroom. It is like an hourglass, only it only goes for 3 minutes. My kids know that in the morning and at night we are brushing with the timer.

I still brush their teeth. After lunch, they each get to brush their own teeth. And they don't have to use the timer then. I do this so that they will learn and also because they like it, but they are neither one good enough at it to do their own teeth all the time.

Every night we also floss (we use those floss sticks because it's easier) and they use floride (which we call swish) for one minute. That involves singing (it's not always easy to do something for a minute when you are six and three).

We also visit the dentist every six months. If you live in the Zanesville area, I highly recommend Dr. Robert Malek, who is the girls' dentist. They love going to the dentist. He has video games for them to play and they get a toy at the end of the visit. But mostly, and this is especially for Betsy who loves knowing how things work, he allows them to watch everything that he does. He allows Betsy to get right up in Felicity's face and watch all that he is doing.

Finally, of course, some great books about going to the dentist and good dental hygiene:

1. What to Expect When You Go To The Dentist by Heidi Murkoff. Obviously, I love these books. It answers every conceviable question they could have.

2. Just Going to the Dentist by Mercer Mayer. I love Little Critter. This one is cute and it can calm some dental fears.

3. Show Me Your Smile! by Christine Ricci. This is a Dora book. I like it beacuse Dora asks a lot of questions to engage the child in the book.

4. Meet Michael's Dentist! by Lori Froeb. This one is the girls' favorite. It is a Little People book with flaps (they love flaps).

5. I Know Why I Brush My Teeth by Kate Rowan. I like this book because it goes into detail (in a kid-friendly way) about all of the teeth in your mouth and the importance of keeping them clean.

6. This Book Bites by Timothy Gower. This is a cool book. I got it at a book sale at the library. It goes into so much detail about the mouth. Everything that you could ever want to know, it's in there.

Anyway, I hope that my girls always love taking care of their teeth. Most of my back teeth are gone, due to horrific sinus problems. I love that they no longer hurt me, but it is difficult to eat without molars. So I know whereof I speak. They know that there are some things that Mommy cannot eat. So I'm hoping that they put a premium on their teeth...

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Of cleaning and allowances...

This has been a hectic week! We had bible school all week long, so in anticipation of being very busy, I cleaned my house on Saturday. This is not how I normally do things, and I have missed my usual daily grind a lot.

So, I thought that I would make a blog about how I normally clean, just because I am convinced that it is the best way to get the house clean and retain my sanity. First off, I'm really nuts about having my house really clean, because I was raised by Dina Watson and she is the most obsessive cleaner in the whole world. My mom loves, loves, loves to clean. And she is perfect about it (my mom is pretty near perfect, period). I am as far from perfect as human beings come. And I definately do not like to clean. But I work really hard to have a clean house because, someday, my mother will agree that it really is a clean house. Someday. I hope. And also because I was raised in this nutso way that everything has to be a certain way.

Now, as to how I go about doing it: On Mondays, I clean the bathrooms. (I do this on Mondays because I feel that this is the absolute most important thing to get done in the week. If something happens and my week goes all wacky, I will have this done.)

Tuesdays, I run the vaccum and sweep/mop the floors. (I do this on Tuesdays because I hate doing it and I want to get it out of the way.)

Wednesdays, I do the girls' laundry. (In the summer, I do all of our laundry, for two reasons. One, there is less to do with mostly t-shirts and shorts, and two, I hang things on the line.)

Thursdays, I dust. Fridays, I do our laundry. (In the summer, Friday is a day to catch up on strange things, like, for example, I clean the windows a lot in the summer to let the sun shine in). And on Saturdays, I wash the whites. Sunday is my day off, every week, no exceptions.

I use Saturdays to do odd things that need doing once a month. On the first Saturday of the month, I give the dogs a bath. On the second, I clean the refrigerator/kitchen. I'm supposed to wash the sheets one of those Saturdays, but sometimes that gets pushed to the back burner.

Also, the girls have chores every day. They are age appropriate things, like making their beds and setting the table. Every Saturday night they then receive an allowance of five dollars. I know that's kind of a debated thing, to give them an allowance. But I feel that it's important for a lot of reasons. First of all, they receive four dollars bills and four quarters. Fifty cents (ten percent) goes into their Sunday School envelopes. Fifty cents goes into their piggy banks to save. And the remaining four dollars is theirs. They can use this to shop, if they want. If they are invited to a birthday party, the money for the gift comes from their money. I am hopeful that this is teaching them to be responsible with their money.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

A poem a day...

Okay, every single morning I read my girls a Bible story and a poem. And every night I read them a book (chapter books for Betsy, a board book and a picture book for Felicity) and then another poem. I'll do another one of these for my favorite bedtime books, but today I want to talk about the poems.

I firmly believe that every single person in the world would benefit from reading at least one poem every day. Poetry, in my world, opens my eyes to things, says things in ways that I sometimes just couldn't wrap my arms around otherwise. I am not all that great a poet myself, although I do like to think that I learned at least a few things in my creative writing class in college. But I love and admire many, many different kinds of poetry and I want to instill a love for that in my kids, just the same way I want to instill an appreciation for art and music in them.

With Felicity, who is 3 years old, I stick mostly with nursery rhymes. My favorites are:

1. Animal Crackers edited by Jane Dyer. I love love love this book. It is full of all different kinds of nursery rhymes, and Jane Dyer's drawings are beautiful. I highly recommend this, and I think that it makes a great baby shower gift too.

2. Lucy Cousins' Book of Nursery Rhymes. Lucy Cousins' writes the Maisy books. I love all of her books because she uses such bright colors. They really resonate with the girls.

3. A Pop-Up Book of Nursery Rhymes by Matthew Reinhart. This is a special book that has to be put on a high shelf. But it is lovely to look at.

Now, Betsy is 6 and a half years old, so we have moved on to harder poetry. Here's what we love:

1. A Child's Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson, illlustrated by Tasha Tudor. I was introduced to the world of Tasha Tudor through this book. It goes without saying that eveyone should have this book, and most people do have it in one form or another. But I love this one especially because of the beautiful pictures that Tudor adds.

2. A Family of Poems edited by Caroline Kennedy. This is a great book of poems, with pictures by Jon J. Muth, who is a fantastic illustrator.

3. Where the Sidewalk Ends and A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein. Must-haves. They are perfect for Betsy's age. They are a wonderful, funny way to introduce poetry to your kids.

We have some more, including some seasonal poem books, like poems for winter and poems for Thanksgiving. I've never really found a poem book that I didn't like. Now for bedtime we do two different things. Felicity gets her poem from one of 3 books, which I just cycle through all the time. They are Animal Crackers Bedtime (this is a board book version of Animal Crackers), Care Bears Book of Bedtime Poems, and Mother Goose Bedtime Poems.

With Betsy I use Good Night, Sleep Tight: A Poem for Every Night of the Year edited by Ivan and Mal Jones. I like this one because it gives you a new poem for every night of the year (there's even one for February 29). We've read it so many times we have our favorites. (I think that I've read it to her since she was 2.) I intend to start reading this to Felicity eventually, but some of the poems are long and wordy, so for now I'm sticking with the easier ones for her.

I hope that this inspires you to read a poem to your kids. It's easy and fun and I think that it's so beneficial to them...

Monday, June 6, 2011

Books and breastfeeding...

Okay, to start, I am fully and one hundred percent behind breastfeeding. I breastfed my own kids until they were each 2. However, I try very hard not to be a bully about breastfeeding-my sister does not breast feed at all, and that's okay. I can reem off lots of facts about it, and why I chose it, but I realize that it's not for everyone.

That said, there are precious few books that portray breastfeeding as natural, so far as children's books go. I was adament that we have at least a few, since my children were each only given a bottle a handful of times. These are the best of the paltry bunch:

1. I'm Made of Mama's Milk by Mary Olsen-this is a board book, seemingly made of fuzzy digital photos. This is the absolutely only board book I could find on this topic. It's a, really, but my girls liked it and we read it until basically each of them had given breastfeeding up.

2. We Like to Nurse by Chia Martin-again, this book is a little odd. There are all kinds of different animals shown nursing, and the text basically matches the picture. Not great, but okay.

3. Only the Cat Saw by Ashley Wolff-this is one of my favorite bedtime books with the girls. It is about all the things that the cat sees at night while the family is sleeping. I am including it here because there is a nice, normal picture of the mom nursing the baby included near the end.

4. Michele: The Nursing Toddler by Jane M. Pinczuk-Michele is pretty much a normal toddler and this book is about many normal things she does. She nurses one time near the end of the book. Again, it's okay, since there isn't much out there on the topic, but it is by no means great.

5. Maggie's Weaning by Mary Joan Deutschben-I really like this one. Maggie is an older sibling telling all about how she breastfed for a long time, and then eventually gave it up. This helped in our house with the transition to not nursing any longer. The pictures are all black and white, but beyond that it's a good book.

And that's pretty much it. Like I said, it's a kind of weird lot. But if you're looking for these books, this is bascially the best you can do...

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Just like a merry-go-round...

Okay, we have started something new this summer as far as discipline goes. We have adopted a behavior wheel. This is nothing new, as most schools have something at least similar. But it is the first time that we have tried it. It is working well.

Green means good. (I'm sure that there is a much more psychologically sound way of saying that, but, for all intents and purposes, it means good.) Yellow is a warning. Red means a 15 minute time out. Blue means you get no dessert. And gray means you have to give up a dollar of your allowance for the week.

And so, we start the day with everyone's clips on green. Then, if there is a behavior problem, your clip moves. We have a list of rules, but it basically boils down to-no hitting, no yelling, no whining, pick up your mess...that kind of thing. We have been as far as blue on one particularly bad day, but most days not.

I also instituted a reward wheel. If the girls end up the day on green, they are allowed to spin it. (It's from Twister and the colors coincide with the reward.) There are 4 rewards: go to the Dairy Duchess for a treat, have a popsicle, get your toenails painted, or get to stay up an extra 10 minutes. (To my quite sheltered kids, these are big time rewards.) They decided that they like to do things together, so they only spin the wheel one time and they both get the thing (unless one is not on green, then she does not get to participate in the reward).

Anyway, it is working out well. They are behaving well, I am not having to yell, and best of all they pick up their stuff without being asked several times.I'm liking it...

Friday, May 27, 2011

accidents happen...that's what they say...

Okay, this is my first official "hoping this blog can be helpful" blog. Potty training. I speak as a mom who has, yes, two fully potty trained children. Fully, as in, underwear all the time. As in at night. If you are a parent, then you understand the significance of this moment. Felicity has just attained this overnight status in our house this past week. I am a proud mama.

However, potty training is one of this most important things that a person does in the first couple of years of life and, at least for me, it was hard to find good books to help us get through this phase. As a lover of books, I am always up for a book to help us through any life experience. This is my list of suggested books:

1. What to Expect When You Use the Potty by Heidi Murkoff. This is like the gold standard. It basically answers any and all potty related questions your child could think up. It has an illustration of a septic system. It goes through the whole process, even including what to do when you are not at home. And it talks about washing your hands, something that, quite sadly, most potty books for some reason skip.

2. Going to the Potty by Fred Rogers. I am the biggest fan of Mr. Rogers on the planet. His book is just like the man himself, calm and reassuring and very explainitory. He talks about different names for bodily functions, which I liked, and he also goes into what to do when you are out and about and need to use the restroom.

3. What Do You Do With a Potty? by Marianne Borgardt. This is a moving tabs book that both of my girls really love still.

4. You Can Go to the Potty by William Sears, Martha Sears, and Christie Watts Kelly. I like this book because it using really loving language to discuss this issue. The Sears' are big into attachment parenting and this book illustrates this.

5.Too Big for Diapers. This is a Sesame Street book starring Ernie. I love Sesame Street, plus this book doesn't skip over the hand washing step.

6. Everyone Poops by Taro Gomi. This is a book that the girls have always enjoyed. Just because, indeed, everyone poops, I guess.

Now, these books are just kind of fun potty books:

The New Potty by Gina and Mercer Mayer (I have become a Little Critter fan)

Potty! by Mylo Freeman (a silly book)

Let's Go Potty by Moira Butterfield (another book with flaps)

A Potty for Me by Karen Katz (a lift-the-flap book)

The Potty Book for Girls by Alyssa Satin Capucilli (I bought this because I like Biscuit so much, however, I find this book really wordy)

Also, I recommend two DVDs on this topic-Elmo's Potty Time, which is just fantastic, and Bear in the Big Blue House Potty Time. Both are excellent and my girls still like to watch them, even though we are beyond the training period.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

One more thing I'll probably quit...

Okay, here goes. I am under no illusions that anyone is actually interested in my thoughts-this is more of an exercise in writing for myself than anything else. I don't write anymore, which is sad in and of itself. I used to write so much I literally couldn't stop. In college I wrote that it was my cancer-this undeniable thing inside of me, forcing its way out of my fingers. And now I don't write anymore.

I don't do much of anything anymore, except raise my girls. I say that not begrudingly. They are happily my life for right now. I am the most contented I've ever been in my whole life right now, at this very moment. I live in the house I always wanted to live in, with a guy I love, raising two girls that are amazing and smart and beautiful and did I mention amazing? But then what? What do you do when you actually attain everything you ever wanted?

I'm not complaining. I'm not gloating. I'm just trying to find things that validate my life. I don't get a paycheck every week, so I have to find validation in the things that I do. When I clean my house, do the laundry, save money on groceries...that is my validation. I've learned the hard way not to let anything that the girls do be my validation. Their accomplishments have to be their own. Whenever I get up on my high horse about what a great mom I am, God swoops in and pushes me right off.

Mostly I think that I'm going to use this to talk about the books and movies that I share with the girls. Maybe some other stuff. I'll likely quit at some point, because I can't stand feeling like I am obliged to do something. We'll see...