Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Summer adventures

This summer, on one of our trips, we took the opportunity to stop at the museum at Hill Airforce Base. The large planes fascinated the children. They have asked to go back. I enjoyed seeing the amazing machines, although if I think too much about their purpose, I get troubled. I'm not sure I ever realized exactly how big some of these planes and such are.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The example of the bath

At the time I was learning to decide what was important and what was not, the Lord also taught me something important about children. Teaching children takes time and often feels completely unproductive, even when great learning is slowly happening. Again, I learn by stories and analogies, and the Lord had one for this.

Miss E had graduated from the baby tub in the big tub to bathing in the big tub itself. Of course, the bottom of the tub was slippery. Standing up, especially for a wobbly toddler, was not safe. And, of course, all she wanted to do was stand. I was so frustrated. Every bath she had for weeks would involve her standing and me sitting her back down as I said, "We sit down in the bath tub." We would do this over and over and over, probably 4-10 times a bath. I was certain she didn't understand and I was getting nowhere, but I didn't know what else to do. Then, suddenly, one day she got it. All the repetition clicked, and she understood.

Teaching children is one of the most frustrating things I do. It is truly exhilarating to watch them learn, but the work to get there drives me crazy. I've learned that children need lots and lots of patient, firm, consistent, kind repetition. Whenever I yell, things at my house go from bad to worse. When I'm not firm they know they can walk all over me. When I'm not consistent, they hold out the bad behavior, hoping to get away with it this time. And if I'm not kind, my children become an emotional mess (see yelling.) But if I'm patient, firm, consistent and kind long after I think I have to be, they learn and they are confident that they understand both my love for them and the boundaries in our house. Having my children have the security that comes from this type of learning is priceless. I think this is why my mother would say some things over and over and over, even when we didn't seem to be listening. (It reminds me of dealing with teenagers.) Eventually, when it seems least likely, children (and teenagers) hear what we as parents have been saying for so long.

One thing I've learned from the example of an aunt of mine is that this repetition isn't always doing the same thing. Sometimes it is changing the program but keeping the principle the same until something works. This is true for things like chore charts, reward systems, potty training, family prayer, and family scripture study. It isn't that you always do the same thing, it's that you always teach the same thing.

The other main example of this for me (and the time the Lord is most likely to remind me of it) is bedtime. There comes a point with each child where they are capable of getting up whenever they want. Teaching them to go to bed often involves repeatedly returning them to bed or encouraging them repeatedly to return to bed. Eventually they figure it out.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Companion Cube

OK, so this isn't really my project, but I wanted to share it. The Professor's sister made this adorable stuffed companion cube (from the video game Portal) for her husband. I was lucky enough to be the consultant/assistant for the project. Didn't she do an amazing job?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Approved chaos

Young T seems to have passed from his rebellious phase to a very mischievous phase. As proof, I submit these pictures. (Do you know anyone living around here with a mohawk that isn't somewhat rebellious?) The amazing curly mohawk has evolved into quite the mess of curls. As much as I loved the mohawk, this wildness makes up for its loss.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The example of the cello

When Young M was born, I had a 4 year old, a 2 (almost 3) year old, a 1 year old, and a newborn in a two bedroom apartment. Needless to say, the next year was quite interesting. At times, understandably, I wondered a lot about teaching my children and discipline. Often, when the toys weren't picked up or Young A was running away in public or I was dealing with another tantrum, I wondered if I knew how to teach my children. There are so many voices out there that, to a desperate mother, sound like they are saying "Just follow my system, and your kids will be well behaved. Do any thing different and risk raising hellions." Yet all the systems are different.

At this time, the Lord taught me something he repeatedly reminds me of. If something is really important to me, I already know how to teach it to my children.

The example He used was the Professor's cello. The Professor has played the cello since elementary school. He has a beautiful cello that he uses to make beautiful music. We keep the cello in a specific place in its case. The children are not allowed to play with the case. If a child (or baby) wanders over there, they are redirected and taught not to play with it (even if I'm busy.) When the cello is out of its case, they are supervised and taught to be gentle. Because the cello is important to the Professor and could easily be damaged, I will interrupt making dinner, reading a book, supervising homework, or a phone call, for the few minutes it takes to teach a child that the cello is not a toy.

When I'm not listening as carefully, sometimes the Lord reminds me of another example to get my attention. Young T has been fascinated with the outdoor world. We live on the corner of a semi-busy street with a not-fenced-in yard. He is not safe without supervision. And yet, he knows how to unlock all but one lock on the outside doors. He can even remove (and replace) the plastic baby-proof door knob we've used to slow him down. Consequently, if I see an open door, I interrupt whatever I'm doing to find him and shut the door. Now he is often the one shutting the door if someone leaves it open. I don't trust him yet, but we are on our way.

As I thought about this, I realized that the things I'm frustrated with in disciplining my children are usually one of two things. Either, they are things that are important to me, but I'm not treating them as important, or they are things that are important to other people but not to me (so then I feel like I ought to teach them but I don't want to.) So I now try, when I remember, to decide which it is.

If something (having children pick up their toys or clear the dishes or stay right with me when we're on a walk or not hit their sibling or talk to me with a respectful voice) is bothering me, I decide if it is important to me or not right now. If it is important, then I have to treat it as important and interrupt whatever I'm doing when the situation arises. I need to continue trying things to teach my children appropriate behavior until it finally sinks in. I need to be consistent, even when I'm busy or exhausted. If it isn't important to me at the time, then I let it go, even if those around me don't understand or judge me for my choice. If it isn't worth the fight, it isn't worth the angst.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

A pencil case

Miss M needed a pencil case for school that was not a pencil box. I wasn't in the mood to take my entourage to the store to spend more money right before school started. So I made one.

I only used things I already had. The zipper is from a pair of pants that were worn out. The fabric from the stash. The pattern was loosely taken from a pencil case the Professor's amazing mother had made for us in the past.

Like all such projects, it took longer than I hoped and there are plenty of mistakes that I see, but I'm pleased with the result. Thankfully, so is Miss M.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


Our family is spoiled in so many ways. This summer the children were thrilled with the opportunity to experience horses at their aunt and uncle's house. Boots and hats were provided (and required, if they fit.) I don't think Miss M ever wanted to get off.