Dis-empowering … Ugh!

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Picture this, candy cane reindeer to be made, teacher gifts to create, cookies to bake and only a few hours until bed time. We sit down to make the reindeer and who ends up making them? Yep, that is right, me. What? Yep, I felt short on time and took over the project. What does this tell my kids about their ability to create something. Hmm… not anything good I’m afraid. So, my good intention to have them make gifts for others went down the drain and resulted in me undermining their abilities.
Luckily I did better on the teacher gifts. I did pre-prep the gifts but I actually refused to help and resisted the urge to fix anything. It was a true gift to me, my kiddo and the teacher. He was able to feel good about himself and his project and his teacher was able to receive a home-made gift she can always have or remember. I was able to empower my child and feel good about empowering him.
The moral of the story; plan ahead, give the kids and myself more than three hours to get a project done. Find a project the kids can really help with or do and give them the space to do it. Take a deep breath when feeling rushed and remember it is about empowering them to be thoughtful and persistent.
Who did the cookies? Well, that was me too but I did remember to let the kids cut them out of the dough. They were asleep for the decorating.
Happy Holidays!

The Danger’s for Crying it Out

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Here is a great link to an article in Psychology Today that spells out the issues surrounding  ”crying it out”.

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/moral-landscapes/201112/dangers-crying-it-out

Taking a Break

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Last night I went out on a real date with my hubby. No kids allowed kind of date at a nice restaurant with a waitstaff and low lights. It was heaven. I haven’t been able to get out for more than 2 hours of “me” time in a long while. I have a kiddo that is very sensitive to my presence, or lack there of, and only wants to stay with a grandparent or his daddy when I go anywhere. Even then he has only been okay with it for a little less than 2 hours and that is his limit. My oldest wasn’t this way at all. He was very self-reliant and independent. People told me this was my “great parenting” that created his independence but I have to say that I am not that great a parent. I am just a parent and I try to stay conscious about who I am being with my kids. Also, I have come to realize with my second child, each kiddo is different. I knew this but now I really know this to be true. They all have different needs. Different ideas about how life works and it is my duty as a parent to figure out what is going on in their individual emotional lives and help them to work through it to become independent.
So, here I am, in much need of a break which I finally got last night! Yea! I know that I am a better mother when I get away for a few hours. I know that I can deal with life when I take time for me. Working on solving these dependency issues is imperative to my sanity and the health of my family. I decided recently that I needed to consciously start taking steps to break this cycle. I realized that I have become too dependent on the help of family to solve my issues with the kids. I looked out into my community and found that the Mothers’ Club I belong to has a Babysitting Co-op. We were so fortunate to have a member join who had done this with another group and was willing to start it with our group. She set up a point system and each member gets or takes away points for sitting. The number of kids and the hours sat, make up the points. She keeps track of them for us and we can request whatever we need as long as we take time to help out another member. This past week, I decided to start with baby steps. I had two different members come on different days to watch my youngest while I did some much needed home cleaning and organization. They were great. Very engaging and loving. Next time around, I will leave for a short period of time. I plan to continue to expand this to trips to the store and running errands and eventually to date night with the hubby. I know that taking time to create what will work for us all and to build autonomy for my son is the best thing I can do for everyone. Last night he was able to stay with the grandparents a little longer than before. He did great!

The “Perfect” Holiday

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So here we are again, the holiday season is upon us and I am madly working to make a “perfect” memory for my boys. Ahhh… What am I doing? The “perfect” memory is already turning into mom leaving them with a sitter while she runs to the store or searches madly online for the best price toy. Back up… deep breathes. Time to make a list. What do I truly want from this holiday season 2011? What do I truly want the end of the year to look like and what will truly be “perfect” for my family?
A mom that isn’t completely stressed out would be a great start. A mom that is present and available would also be a good call. There is a part of me that wants to have it all bought, baked, sent and decorated. I will honor that piece of me by breaking out the calendar and making a plan. A do-able plan that allows time to drink hot chocolate, decorate the tree as a family and much more. I will honor the fun of the season and the gift of being present by scheduling down-time and time to have fun. I am committed to my family and living my life, not the life of the TV commercials and made for television movies. This is our time to be together and to enjoy each other. This is the time to celebrate with friends and relax by the fire. For me and my family remembering this would help to create the “perfect” holiday.

Living in the Past

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Today I was filled with love as I was looking at my two year old boy. He talked me into letting him into the front courtyard to get something. He had just gotten out of the shower and was dawning his typical birthday suit. I reminded him to be quick because we have a rule that he must wear clothes in the front yard. He assured me it would be fine and ran out. He brought me the item he was after and then told me he would be “Right back, Mama!  Right back!” I knew where this was heading. He went to pet the cat. I asked him to come in again. This time he stamped his foot on the ground, started wiggling, hands in the air and said, “Dancing Mama!” with a “What is your problem lady, can’t you see I have things to do!” look on his face. I had to laugh!
Somehow my mind slipped back in time to a few months ago when things weren’t so easy. He is two and two is challenging (and if it isn’t for your kiddo, congrats to you!). I had the thought go through my head that someday I’ll let him know how I almost dropped him off in the National Park for a Park Ranger to raise when he was being impossibly two (a very momentary fleeting thought but it did cross my mind). Right away, the thought that I would share this with him made me cringe. Why would I want to remind him of how difficult something had been in the past? Why would it be necessary for me to tell him how difficult I had perceived this time to be? My answer saddened me. I realized that I would be making him pay for his past behavior in the future (where, btw, he would have no control over the his past behavior) and I would be making myself his victim and a martyr for “putting up with” his behavioral challenges.  In other words, I would be making myself right and making him wrong.
Yuck, it is difficult to digest but none the less true.   It is pretty typical unconsious human behavior to be the victim and martar. I know I can go there, sadly.  Or maybe it stems from a need to control and dominate another human being.  Either way it isn’t the parent I want to be to my child.
I hope that I can continue to stay conscious to this issue. I want to live in the present with my children and let them know how much I love them now, then and always. I want them to know that they can never do or have done anything that could make me love them any less or any more. My love is abundant, unconditional and never ending. I want to give them “roots and wings” (a quote I heard on the show ‘Addicted’). Please let me remember this on all levels of my being.

Today I saw a quote that reminds me of this moment in many ways, ” Don’t let shadow figures from your past invade your today.”  -Marianne Williamson.  I think I should post this on the fridge.

When is Helping Rescuing?

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Earlier this week I was in the yard with a friend and my sons. One of the kids came to us with a problem and I told him to work it out, use his problem solving skills and his words. My friend, being the kind and loving heart she is, jumped up and made a point to work out the problem between the two boys and redirect them to another location to find bugs. I watched it all unfold without comment. It occurred to me that this was an opportunity lost. The boys hadn’t worked through their issue on their own. It was great to have an attentive friend who was ready to turn over rocks and help with the bug search but is that helping or is that rescuing. Does it matter?
Either way, I think the boys are fortunate to have both styles of support. They are able to experience redirection with attentive support and, when they are with me, we work on them solving problems themselves. I support them by sharing possible solutions occasionally and the rest of the time I wait for them to ask for help.
They have the opportunity to know that they are surrounded by love and support and the opportunity to know that they can care for themselves and work through any social and emotional problems that come their way. It is all a process.

Food for Thought…

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Food can be a challenge with kids in general; finding a good balanced diet, getting food prepared and ready when life is busy and sometimes chaotic, even trying to get a child to eat can sometimes be challenging. What do you do when your child can’t eat certain foods? How do you handle play dates, school, birthday parties?
These are questions and challenges I have recently come up against. I had both kids tested recently and found that many things like corn, dairy, gluten and any fast or colored foods aren’t working for them. They are happier, have great energy and are loving life without these things in their diet. It has been a bit of an adjustment but a valuable one for sure. Maybe saying “a bit” is taking it too lightly. The cooperation from the kids has been amazing. They are sometimes a little bummed at not having something someone else is having but we usually find an alternative that works for them.
I am finding that I am having to become diligent and thoughtful, which isn’t a bad thing in regards to food. I am having to plan ahead for every event and pack food where ever we go. If we are going to a play date I must bring our own snacks that are “on the diet”. If we are going some place with cakes and cookies, I have to bring something as an equally interesting alternative or be prepared for the results of allowing them the freedom to choose. I do want them to have fun and be free. I also want them to be happy and feel good.
One thing that this has brought home to me is really paying attention to how my body feels after eating. Helping the kids focus on this is a great life lesson. So I am working on empowering them to see the results and give them some space to figure out how they are feeling after certain foods. So far my 6 year old is doing great. He is taking on his mind/body connection and totally on his own let me know that he didn’t want dairy any more because of the way it made him feel.
I guess it isn’t that surprising that the fuel they are taking in is truly affecting their lives on many levels. All one has to do is look and you can easily find out about all the hormones added to the dairy, and meat. It is easy to find that corn is actually considered a pesticide now because it has been “genetically modified” to kill the pests that try to eat it. It goes to figure that these aren’t working with our bodies and definitely not a small child’s. It kind of makes me cringe when I think about all the corn I have fed my children.
The other day I was cleaning out my purse and the kids where “helping”. They found a few mints from a restaurant I had been to before “the diet” started. I decided to let them have them since I had found out that sugar wasn’t necessarily a big problem for them in particular. My oldest grabbed a red and white peppermint and the youngest a small naturally flavored lollipop. A few minutes later, my oldest came up to me with a bleeding hand and confessed that he had a surge of rage. He had been holding a little glass vile his grandmother had given him at the time. He forgot and crushed it when the rage hit. I started questioning him to see why he was so angry. He said he wasn’t really, it just happens sometimes. So I kept thinking about it. Then I asked if he felt differently after the candy. Suddenly, his eyes lit up, and he said it was definitely the candy. He often had that happen after eating mints. I was confused because he has had some candy and not had a reaction. Finally it occurred to me that their is red food coloring in the mint. It is pretty scary to me that this small amount could cause such a big reaction.
I am just so grateful and thankful that we went down this path and have found what is working for them and what isn’t at this early age. It may take extra planning and work on my part but as their mom it is totally worth it! They are great kids and their smiling happy faces are a great reward!

Tiger Woods of Math…

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“Mommy, is there a famous golfer called Tiger Lilly?”  ”I think you are referring to Tiger Woods honey. Why?”   “Because his dad used to make noise while he was practicing so he could work on his focus.”
Wow… I am not sure where my 5 year old picked up this info but I am amazed that he was looking for information on ways to focus. It has been a topic of discussion around here since a Therapist suggested that he may have ADHD during some IQ testing we had done.
I had noticed that he was really struggling to get through his daily Kumon Worksheets and the more he masters the information, the harder it is for him to attend.
We started working on strategies to overcome this about a month ago. The first thing has been Acupressure done by one of the only people in the US trained to do such a thing. I am fortunate to know Melissa Light so I called her up and made an appointment. She has given us some message techniques to do daily and I have seen improvement already. The second is trying some caffeine.  This is a tricky one.  My mom decided to give him a little tea when we were at her house and he was doing homework.  She gave him half a cup and it seemed to make a difference.  She then decided more must be better and gave him another cup.  Unfortunately, this had the opposit effect and he was soon running around like the wild man he is and with tons of caffeine.  So, experimenting has been interesting and fruitful.

Another thing that seems to help is exercise.  A good run around in the morning seems to be setting his body up to be more relaxed and happy.  I know I am happier when I exercise in the morning too.  It just makes the day better in general.  The next thing we are going to try is a two week  Elimination Diet getting rid of things like yellow foods, fast foods, fried foods, dairy, food coloring, most sugar, most chocolate (I know…sacrilege), processed meats and more to see what if any of these things may be causing an allergic reaction that contributes to the attention issues.  After the two weeks, we will add the healthy foods back in for four days to see if their are any behavioral changes.  This will give us an idea of what, if anything, is contributing to loss of focus.  I am not sure what we will eat because my son’s diet is rich in all of the above, sadly.  I am not a great cook and he is a picky eater.  This is a great opportunity for us to review what we know about eating healthy and un-learn  some bad habits.

A friend of mine who specializes in Behavioral Therapies, suggested the above diet and also EFT.  EFT is a therapy that involves tapping out any issues you are dealing with emotionally.  I have always been interested in learning about it and I figure why not add to the arsenal of strategies.   The books are ordered and next week we will dive into the realm of tapping (hoping it helps with terrific two tantrums as well).

My husband is stressed about him getting a complex.  I feel like not addressing the issue will be more of a problem.  He is a bright kid with lots to offer the world and in my experience with my own learning differences, addressing the issue head on makes it not about being a victim to the problem but about overcoming the differences through finding strategies that work.  This is a good life lesson for anyone in my book.  Learning to address anything that throws a wrench in your way and moving around it rather than letting it drag you down seems like the way to go.

So, this is the current plan.  Am I against meds?  Well, I do think they are over used.  I am not sure where I stand and I don’t think judging is the way to go.  We will work with the alternative strategies and see where they lead.  If the time comes to look into another path, we will look.  Different strokes for different folks, that is what makes the world go  around.

Money Madness & Education…

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Money… money…money… Kid’s are expensive, in case you haven’t noticed.  Luckily they are worth every dime!

This week has been a bit challenging for me… we are working on getting my oldest into Private School and the applications, testing, application fees and such are adding up. We haven’t even gotten to the actual monthly payments or the down payment to hold the spot. We are also coming up on Summer Camp time. BTW… if you haven’t already enrolled…it’s too late!  That is correct new parents… you must make all these decisions and line them up and pay for them or part of them by mid-March or you’re scraping to find something fun.

Same goes for school enrollment. March is the month that things should be wrapped up to get a place for the upcoming year. If you are trying to get into a Private Pre-K, you may need to enroll an entire year beforehand. Yikes… In this world of two working parents and the need for childcare, getting into a “good” private school is a huge challenge.

So… I am venting if you haven’t noticed! :) I just want what will work best for my kiddo. This year we tried Homeschooling and while there have been good things, it just isn’t for him. He is a social animal and needs to be social. Yes, there are lots of Homeschool Groups and such but this kid wants a gang of friends and that is what he needs to thrive. When little brother needs a nap, he misses out on the afternoon playgroups at the park. When most of the extra-curicular activites he wants to try out only happen from 3:30 on, it makes it hard to meet up with friends after their school day. So do we continue and strike a balance next year. I am going for No.

I feel like more structure would be good. It would be nice for him to have not just family input but community as well. I want him to have the opportunity to grow and learn from society not just mommy. That being said… these things take money. I’m sure you are thinking … what about Public school. Well, that is on the list too. I haven’t ruled it out but with expanding classroom sizes and having been there as a Public School teacher, I happen to know that the environment isn’t a good fit for this kiddo. So my options are small and seem to be getting smaller by the day… tick tock…
My friend has created a Homeschool/ Mother’s Club and it is a wonderful concept and idea. It is a great fit for many kids and moms who want unschooling as a model. She has land, animals, a home and moms who are working co-operatively to create something fabulous that meets the child’s needs and the family’s. She has found a great niche and one that is much needed. Because this co-op is family run it is also very affordable compared to Private school. The group leans towards the notion that the kids will get what they need and want when they need and want it.
I love this idea and… I am reluctant to do it. I think it is perfect for many people  but I find myself unwilling to purely trust that the kiddos will pick up what they need.

Why? It only makes since that the freedom to learn and grow with the support of community is a great gift.  It’s not like I don’t practice this at home…As we speak, my kids are running around bohemian style in the yard, covered with mud from head to toe. The beauty of Mother’s Garden and Ultimate Mom’s Club is that they could be running around (clothed) and covered in mud with a gaggle of friends who are all different ages with different ideas. They would have the opportunity to work cooperatively and creatively. They can take care of the animals and do art projects, games and activities the mom’s set up for their learning enjoyment. All of this makes for a creative and exciting learning experience. Why am I resistant to taking this on fully? I don’t know? I think it is the Public School teacher in me that wants structure…structure…structure.

I feel like “structure” is killing our society though. It seems Public schools have “structured” their way out of creative thinking and problem solving. Our country is made great by it’s innovators, not rigourous rounds of rote memorization. Teaching to higher level thinking skills is the way to go. Working on the level a child is whether high or low and addressing their individual needs makes the most sense. Public education has this as their mantra but the reality is that most classrooms only have the luxury of teaching to the group as a whole. In small groups, you can do more but not everything can be done in a small group and not every teacher has the support and classroom management to be able to successfully pull it off.

So, what to do… what to do… I think it goes back to trusting.  It is time for me to remember to have faith.  Trusting the process brings about what will ultimately be the right thing for this child.  What works for him isn’t better or best.  It is what will work for him and I am working towards providing that opportunity.

Next… I get to go through this all again with his brother… then middle school…highschool and college for both boys.  Deep breathes! :)

Wish me luck!

Testing…

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I just had my oldest son tested for a school program. The rub was that I knew the test would show all and any learning disabilities as well as his strengths. It was so nerve racking after Homeschooling him for the last several months and knowing that they would find a deficit in some areas. As a former teacher, I know that getting a child tested at an early age is one of the best things you can do for them in the long run. The younger you discover any learning differences or issues, the more intervention is possible. It is simple brain development. The brain is more playable at a younger age and therefore the interventions will work well. It is also a factor for a child’s self-esteem and confidence, armed with information, his caregivers and educators can help him rather than become frustrated.
So, here I was on the other end of the rope. Now I am the parent and this was my kid we were looking at up close and personal. Deep Breath. Several friends will tell you, I became a basket-case. It took a week to get results and even then the Therapist waited until halfway through the hour to tell me the good news. His results were exactly what I had suspected plus one I didn’t expect. Now I have a game plan and a plan of action. Now I know where to start and what type of school environment will be best for my particular child.

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