Thursday, July 26, 2012

Gratitude

(Background: The past several weeks Killian has said, "I'm grateful for air conditioning!" during our gratitude routine at bedtime. The first time he said this was during the 100+ degree heat wave, so I thought it was very appropriate and funny. But I guess he noticed I thought it was funny, so he kept repeating it every night. Then sometimes he would just look around the room and list random objects. "I'm grateful for blinds. For the fan." Tonight was the first time he really seemed to *get it.*


Also, I cajoled the director of Killian's (previous) school to let us "trade" for their water play toy, Killian affectionally calls, "Water Play Duckie." I bought the school a new water play toy, and we got to take home the Duckie. Killian has been SERIOUSLY OBSESSED over this duckie since he was 8 months old. I had scoured the internet many times over several years to find this duckie, but it appears to no longer be manufactured. Hard plastic Water Play Duckie slept with Killian the first night home. This morning Killian played with the Duckie in his own backyard.


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Conversation at bed time tonight:

I'm going to sit up for Gratitude. 


Do you want me to go first?

Yeah.


I'm grateful that Tina and Beth came over today on your first day of summer vacation. I'm grateful for Imaginon, because it's such a great library for kids and has so many fun activities. What are you grateful for Killian?

I'm grateful that Ms. Margie traded for the Water Play Duckie.


Oh yeah, honey? That was very nice of her. You have loved that Water Play Duckie since you were a baby.

What else am I grateful for?


I don't know, honey, what else made you happy today?

I'm grateful for getting water sprinklers at Lowe's.


Oh yeah, did you have fun doing water play today?

Yeah. I'm glad Tina and Beth came over today.


Me too.


What else am I grateful for?


I don't know, honey, what else are you happy to have in your life?


I'm grateful that Ms. Margie traded for the Water Play Duckie.


Ok, hun. Time for bed now.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Ready for Summer Vacation / Home School

Tomorrow begins "summer vacation" for the boys. No more school until their new half-day school starts in September. Various family members will be rotating through the house to help.

This is also the last time I will have a clean house. So naturally I took pictures and will pretend our house always looks like this.

I categorized all their toys/tools/arts/crafts into traditional Montessori categories: Art & Sensory, Dramatic Play, Blocks/Manipulatives, Music, and Practical Life. ("Library" is in just about every room of the house.) Each area has a designated place in the house and the plan is to rotate different items through the centers, so 1) they won't get bored and 2) it limits what they can dump all over the ground.

Here is the playroom/Beth's room (Beth moves in soon!) which will house "Art." I figure Beth wouldn't mind sharing her space with art supplies and projects :)

(Oh, and hey, check out my new standing workstation, to the right of the window. I've been enjoying standing while working lately. I've noticed it keeps me extra efficient/productive.)

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The goal is to have a "lesson plan" each day. We have cucumbers in the house, so tomorrow's "practical life" lesson will be peeling cucumbers! Let's hope Killian eats some!

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Beth's bed, my favorite pillow sheet, a bowl with a plastic duckie floating inside (demonstrating "refraction" and a placeholder for a living fish, which taking care of will be a part of "practical life" activities!) I am obviously obnoxiously excited to begin Montessori homeschool.

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Plants to water each day (and basil to trim) and writing/journaling invitation (for Killian; for Mick, it's a "dumping" invitation):

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Because I was taking pictures of the house:

 - art and card string in hallway:

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- whimsical "a shoe on the wall! that shouldn't be there at all!" reference:

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Boys' bedroom. Barren and souless looking, like a Montessori classroom:

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No, kidding of course, actually there are lots of color and personal memories in their room.

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The back porch is now a kids play area. I wanted to have the grand unveiling tomorrow morning, but the boys discovered their newly setup sand/sensory table and play area tonight.

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Boys try out their new sensory/sand table this afternoon. #montessori

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Wish us luck on our one-month homeschooling adventure!

Baby Domination

Looks like a weekend afternoon. I am apparently doing pilates on the living room floor, hanging out with Mick and Mike.

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 Mick smiles devilishly into the camera.
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 Attack!

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 I try to roll, but he is too fast!
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He latches on!
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 Surrender yet, Mommy? IMG_6783

 I'm not done with you yet - take a finger in your mouth! IMG_6788

 Mick emerges the triumphant victor. IMG_6775

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Family Ties

Yes, you do become your parents. And positive discipline isn't everything.

That sums up my thoughts, so you can stop reading now if you'd like.

Family ties are on my mind today for a few reasons. My parents are in California visiting my dad's elderly parents. I talked to my mom today about the situation there and I commented "it must be hard for dad" (to see them in that situation). She said, "No, actually, I've never seen him happier." She went on to talk a bit about how seeing my dad around his parents is illuminating. She had forgotten how simliar my dad is to his dad, (and how me model what we experience as kids). I think for many of us, this is totally subconscious. (Think of how abused children are more likely to become abusers as adults.)

I talked to Mike about it that night. "So which parent am I like?" I asked him. He said, "Both." And off the top of his head, he could describe exactly how I was like each parent and when I'm like each parent. We had talked about this before of course, but it was a good reminder. We do become our parents. It's good to be aware of it. That thing that drove you crazy that your mom does or did - describe it out loud to your partner or your kid - I bet you (whether they point it out or not), you do the SAME EXACT THING or a parallel of it. It's true. That word you used to describe your parent - someone else probably uses that word to describe you.

Positive Discipline often or most times does not come natural to me. Yelling, hurling insults (the whole trying to make kids feel worse about themselves might make them try harder/do better tactic?), even raising my fist in anger can actually be my default instinct. True story. I am very much aware of this deep-rooted instinct. And because I'm aware of it, that's the first step to doing better.

Someone once asked me if I feel like I was raised with Positive Discipline. I chuckled and said no. There was much yelling, definitely punishment, and I don't remember much focus on natural consequences. I wonder if the person asking the question then wondered why my family and I are SO very close, as it's no secret how much I value, love, and cherish my family.

I don't know if I can answer the question with a specific answer (can you easily describe why you love someone?), but if I had to try to put words to what makes my family so close, it is: warmth. And the overall feeling I think we all have as kids that we are the most important thing in the universe to my parents. There is no doubt about it. Their life and all of their actions demonstrate that their children are their utmost priority and family is the highest value.

So there was yelling and inconsistency and all those things in my household growing up. But none of us know what it is like to have a parent leave for an extended amount of time to pursue other values. Or be the last kid left at daycare... again. Before it was a popular phrase, my parents were attachment parents. They kept us close physically and with their loving, daily actions.

I know I've done things in my life that disappoint my parents. Everyone has their own values and of course, they would want their children to share those values too. Sometimes they don't end up sharing your exact values. (I think my parents have accepted that someone can live a happy, virtue-filled life without the Catholic Church. And hey - maybe someone can live a productive, happy life without finishing college too! Maybe pursuing a different path than you did was a better path for your individual kid to follow.)

I have never gotten a sense that my parents' love for me was conditional. That they would only love me if I fit a certain mold. Of course, not many parents would admit to having conditional love for their children, but when they talk about "disappointments" and rarely focus on the positives, it reads that way. It involves more subtle behavior too. It's responding with a disapproving look or words when someone expresses opinions or preferences that are different (not right/wrong - just different) than yours. It's not asking the other person about their thoughts or opinions. Or responding with silence. These things tell the other person they are only valuable or interesting to you when they meet your own personal preferences or expectations.

Actions often speak louder than words. My parents have always been clear and consistent in the message they deliver with their actions (what they spend their time doing and what they put their effort into), and it is truly felt by their kids.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Overheard from a 3 Year Old

Wake up, penis! Good Morning! What would you like to do today?

Does Cinderella have a penis? No. Boys have a penis. Girls have vagiants.

Where is my evil gust of wind?

A bonfire won't stop Maleficent.

I don't wear diapers anymore! ... Can I poop in a diaper?

Stopping to Smell the Flowers... and Spices

Saying good morning to the flowers

Parents of older kids tell me all the time to "enjoy it because it all goes by so fast." Yesterday a woman I met with two young adult children repeated emphatically, "No. Really."

I definitely can see where this sentiment is coming from. It scares me that if I hadn't written some Killian and Cormac anecdotes down that happened just last year, would I remember them? Already toddler-Killian's endearing habits are starting to fade.

Currently the boys fight over who can cuddle with me first thing in the morning. Killian frequently asks me to "sit with me," "hold me!," etc. It's hard to believe in 3 years from now, he'll probably be at an age where he will only reluctantly give hugs.

I am cherishing my days with three year old Killian. Three year old Killian frequently marches around and sings, "We're following the leader, wherever he may go... TeeDum. TeeDo. We march..." and loves going for walks around the neighborhood ("Let's do another loop"). He still loves reading new stories and has the jazz to be involved in any cooking activity that uses a special tool. He has been grating fresh cinnamon into his yogurt each morning. (He has also lately been opening up each spice jar and smelling all the spices. "Can I eat this?" tilted head nodding and smiling hopefully.

I'm following the leader, wherever he may go.

My favorite blue eyed little boy.

Killian enjoys his new book

Killian's spice fetish

I think I can count this as "Killian's first chapter book." I was surprised he (requested) and let Mike read him a story with little to no pictures for so long (25 minutes or so).

Killian's first chapter book

Mick has grown up so much this past month. (Happy 16 months, Mick!) He is loving how he can communicate with us now (signing for more, signing for "all done," and saying different words).

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He loves to eat - especially daddy's guacamole! I'm sure we have enough photos for a guacamole montage.

No! I want the big bowl of guacamole.

You can usually hear Mick somewhere in the house saying "No No No No No." This means he is climbing on a piece of furniture he is not supposed to be climbing on. Then he smiles and looks expectedly at us, as we play the "No no no no no" game, which is of course, he climbs on something, we say, "No, no, no, Mick," and take him down. Repeat.

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He has developed a special love for Otter and Rabbit.

Mick, Otter, and Rabbit

Mick is also starting to show more interest in serious book reading. He will read to himself and also bring me a book and sit on my lap. This is a book about colors, but he seems to think it's a book about noses. He says nose as he points to each face.

Nose

Thanks for all the memories this past month, boys. I hope I always remember how ridiculously cute you were as 15 and 36 month olds.


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Understanding

"I have striven not to laugh at human actions, not to weep at them, not to hate them, but to understand them." - Baruch Spinoza

I came across this quote today and it really resonated with me. I would say it's meditation worthy. It really reminds me of Positive Discipline. One of PD's core tenets is to "identify the belief behind the behavior."


As I'm sure I've said before, since discovering PD, it has helped me more in my interactions with adult people than with kids. I am sometimes surprised, confused, or hurt by other people's actions (or inactions). This concept helps me to remember to not just react to the action, but to use that as an opportunity to understand the person and where they might be coming from/the cause for the action.

Random Abstract Personal Photo for My Random Somewhat Abstract Post

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