Sunday, December 23, 2012

December 23rd, 2012

The other day, Izzy had a near melt-down while we talked about having Christmas at Uncle Joel's house. I think she was just overly tired because every obstacle I removed (yes, Nana will be there... Santa doesn't forget presents... you'll get to see everyone...) was met with a 'what if?' and sniffles. She even asked "What if Santa is dead?" Now that's a child determined to have a reason to be upset! 

If you're wondering what I told her about Santa, especially when she asked if he could be dead... well, I'll tell you. I told her that part of Santa's magic is that he'll be around as long as he needs to be and that he's been doing this job for so long, there's no way he'd forget to do his best to give every kid at least something. She said "Well, I know that there are a lot of countries so there must be a lot of Santas." I think it's great that even when she's seeing the 'flaws' in the Santa story, she finds a way to compensate and hold on to it just a little longer. We went to our local mall and saw Santa there (thank goodness the same one has been there since she can remember) and afterwards, she said "Well, I know he's the real Santa. But how does he get here?" She's pretty sure his reindeer aren't allowed in the mall so he must get a ride from someone else. hehe. 

Childhood is a wonderful thing... for the kids it's a time of constant exploration and wonder and for the adults? I think it's a time to reconnect with what's innocent and beautiful in the world. A time to declutter your mind and heart and enjoy life for what it is. 

Friday, December 14, 2012

December 14, 2012

What can you say when the unthinkable happens? When something horrific and violent, like a shooting at a theater or a mall or a school, shocks you out of your daily routine and makes it impossible to just be... happy.

I cannot grasp how these things happen and I'm just so terribly sad for the families involved. Those that are innocent victims and those that cannot understand why their children would do something so awful. What was so terribly broken in these minds and hearts that they thought this was a viable response to the world around them?

Tonight, our synagogue had our annual menorathon: we bring our family menorah and candles and light them together. It's a beautiful sight to see so many lights burning brightly... reminding us to be a light to the world, to continue the chain of tradition, to reflect on years past, to burn with hope for the future. Tonight it felt like a reminder that there is light in the world and that we need to fan those flames when we have dark days like today.

Praying for peace and healing.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

December 13, 2012

The school year isn't even close to being over but I'm already starting to get the new-curriculum anxiety. Izzy's just about done with the Math U See Primer (as in: we have 4 pages left!) and other workbooks that we like to use are nearly done as well.

What REALLY gets me anxious is knowing that Lily will be 4 in 6 months (as of yesterday!) and I really want to get her started with some sort of formal learning. I know a lot of the learning that Izzy did at 4 was just happy accident but it feels like I need to actually plan things out a bit better for Lily. She knows a lot of her colors and shapes and she can count quite well but she's not familiar with letters or numbers yet and it seems like she could be, if I took the time to teach them 'officially'.

So here's where I went wrong today: I started looking for new activities for Lily and overwhelmed myself by looking at what other moms are doing/providing for homeschooling kids at this age. There are so many 'packs' and 'kits' and whatnot that it's mind-boggling. I keep telling myself that these things are coming from moms that have 4-5 kids and/or used to be teachers in public/private schools so of COURSE they come up with all kinds of activities. So many of them look cute or fun but then when I think about printing them out and using them, it hits me how redundant it is. I know kids love to repeat themselves but a color of the day? animal of the day? I think we'd be burnt out within the first week and not find enough new ways to explore those things to make it worth my time printing/cutting/laminating.

I dunno. Maybe I'm just talking myself out of these things because it seems so time consuming. I mean, how am I supposed to enjoy teaching if I'm either planning a lesson, setting things up for it, or teaching it? It's like the coupon ladies... how can you enjoy yourself if your time is used up with all of this busy-work and nothing of substance? I love my kids but I can't get anything done or enjoy any free time if every waking minute is devoted to school. Surely there's a middle ground somewhere.

December 13, 2012

It's the 5th night of Chanukah. So funny how we were anxious for it to start and suddenly it's nearly over! Izzy lit the candles with me the first night but I guess I said something about wax dripping on my finger and now she doesn't want to try it anymore. Lily has no such worry and has been lighting the candles for me each night. She's just not afraid to try things, even if something goes wrong, she'll keep going. I hope she doesn't lose that attitude ever.

Lily was battling a stomach virus two weeks ago (started the 30th and ran through the 4th) and seems to still be bouncing back. She ate next to nothing for those 5 days and now she's asking for 2nd and 3rd helpings on a lot of foods. I guess it's a combination of regaining what she lost and a growth spurt? Either way. It's much better to hear 'can I have some more?' than 'I think I'm gonna throw up' every couple of hours. :)

School is going well for Izzy. I'm hoping we're making some breakthroughs on reading but she's still so hesitant to even sound things out. I think I was the same way  because I know I was still shy about even trying to read when I was 7 or so. I need to read more to the girls so that they really grasp how important and exciting it is to read for themselves. I don't think Lily will be an early reader but it wouldn't surprise me.

It seems like there's always a phase being gone through these days. Fighting about everything, whining to get their way, making noises when someone is talking to them, arguing incessantly... I guess it's not so much a series of phases as it is one loooooooong phase of contrariness. haha. This too shall pass? Sometimes it seems like structure is the answer but the whole point of homeschooling with this method was to avoid rigid structure to our days/life. Consistency is difficult for me.. how do you drop everything to enforce each instruction you give without setting the expectation that mommy has to come help/push/guide every time she gives an instruction? Consequences for disobedience are consistent but I find myself so exasperated at having to leave so many of MY activities/chores half finished to impose those consequences or redirect little hands towards better activities.

Ok, re-reading that last paragraph's beginning has me thinking that the phase that's being gone thru right now is a verbal defiance phase. Expressing displeasure or annoyance without any filter or control. So... what's the key to resolving that? It seems like when I was a kid, we still got flicked for talking out of turn or had to put scotch tape on our mouths to help us be more mindful. Lily tends to react in the oddest ways to discipline. Either she gets sullen and then goes back to her bad behavior when the punishment is over (and so it starts again) or she laughs it off. I think there needs to be some sort of 'come to Moses' parental meeting to figure out a plan here... haha.

Monday, November 26, 2012

November 26, 2012

When a year starts to draw to a close, I look back and wonder what I could have done differently. As a parent, it's probably impossible to avoid this. It's difficult not to second-guess yourself, once a little distance comes into play.

Most projects that we undertake can be learning experiences. You might not repeat the exact same project but when you do similar ones, you can apply the things you've learned and hope for a different outcome. You might be more patient, more attentive to detail, less forceful. Rearing children does NOT work that way. If you do something wrong when they're three, you can't do it better later. You can't un-yell or re-discipline. What's done is done. But you can be better when they're four and hope to rework habits you've ingrained in yourself and them.

In a few (too short) months, I will be 34, Ben will be 12, Lily will be 4, and Izzy will be 6. I'm halfway resigned to being done with baby-ish years but these numbers are a little scary. I can't go back and redo the 2's and 3's. I wish I could, for many reasons.

Next fall, Lily will officially be starting Pre-K. Which seems silly to say... Pre-K with Izzy was learning the alphabet, coloring, and trying to learn to use scissors. Lily has already begun this process because she cannot  seem to leave anything or anyone alone during school hours.

A couple of months ago, Chad was out of town for a week so I painted the living room. I really wanted to paint the girls' room but I couldn't figure out how to do that with them up. So the living room is a beautifully soft grey and the girls' room is still a tacky off white. Chad's out of town again for a few days this week so maybe I'll set the girls up in my room for a couple of hours and get started on their walls. I should be able to knock it out in a day, if I don't lose my mind trying to keep them in check. haha

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

October 8, 2012

It has begun! I am officially attempting to de-clutter the house.

So far, I've turned around all my clothing hangers and cleaned up the kitchen pantry a bit. I understand the concept of breaking things down into small, manageable tasks. I'm actually glad when a 'challenge' comes with instructions to not overwhelm myself or set unrealistic goals for the day/week/month. But then I get impatient and think "But I don't want to wait till next week to clean the hall closet. Maybe I should do one task a day instead of one a week. And the garage needs to be sorted out... and toys donated... and cabinets reorganized..." You get the general idea.

I thought we were finally all done with whooping cough but the cool front brought new respiratory aggravation. Praying it is gone quickly because hearing all the hacking and sniffling is depressing.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

October 4, 2012

Decluttering Tasks » The Organised Housewife:

'via Blog this'

A friend of mine posted about this on the Facebook the other day and I've tried and tried to take a look at it but I just can't seem to get organized enough to free up the hour or so it'll take to peruse the list of tasks. haha. Isn't funny how that works? To find time to learn how to declutter/organize, you have to first somehow BE organized. *sigh*

Also, I tried to post this yesterday and failed to complete it. That should say something...

Friday, September 21, 2012

September 21, 2012

A Google search for "how many toys should a child have" turns up an uncomfortable number of articles, blog entries, and comments about how limiting your kids' toy supply actually helps them get along better and encourages greater obedience. Becoming Minimalist and The Mother Company are just a couple of hits.   

And then there's this gem from Yahoo! Answers: Wowza. Yes, scroll down to the 'winning' answer. I wonder if that mama feels the same now as she claimed to 4 years ago. Heck, I wonder if she felt the same 4  HOURS later when it was time to clean them all up. 

In the last few months, I've boxed away a few types of toys that were of the 'spill and forget' variety. Squinkies, Zoobles, Littlest Pet Shop, Lil Woodzeez... all cute and little and just a pain in the rear to clean up constantly. If they got played with for more than 15 minutes, the chorus of  "know where my ____ is, Mommy?" would start. They were treasures to hide away but now that they've been put away for the last month, they've hardly been sought out at all. 

Why am I rambling about this? Oh yeah... because I've been donating garbage bags full of 'stuff' over the last few months and it still feels like we have too much. Granted, some of those things have been old clothes, shoes, kitchen gadgets that weren't being used, and the like. But a pretty hefty amount of toys have gone out the door, too. The girls sometimes ask for things that are waiting to go to Goodwill but most of the time, they don't seem to notice anything has changed in their playroom. And yet still, they fight over what they do have and try to hide things away in their 'special' drawers or boxes. I hate to discard baby dolls and stuffed animals but when they just get dumped on the floor and wallowed in, they aren't precious anymore, right? Argh. It's astounding but I find myself sometimes surprised by the reality of it all: they won't suffer if they have fewer toys, they won't lose their ability to imagine or create, and (surprise!) I will be less frustrated with 'clean up time' if there is less to wade through. 

Some of this just been bouncing around in my head for the last 4 years (yeah... Izzy was 1 before she had any real amount of toys) and tonight's reading here at Simply Charlotte Mason just gave me a little nudge. I think Sunday may be a toy purging day for us. I hope I'm ready for a few weeks of 'I'm bored!'

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

September 19, 2012

Last year, I think I made some sort of pledge to myself to stop going places in schlumpy clothes and even to try not to bum around the house that way. It's not attractive, I don't like the idea of someone coming to the house unexpected and seeing me all sloppy, and it just makes me feel better to dress a bit.

I have seriously fallen off that wagon. I'm actually trying to rationalize taking the girls to ballet class while still in my super-sloppy big t-shirt and sweat pants. Argh. I must need new pants if I just can't stand the idea of putting them on.

Monday, September 17, 2012

September 16, 2012

Holy toot, it's been nearly 2 months since I had anything to say. haha. Riiiiiiiiiight...

This school year has started off pretty well. We've had our "I just don't LIKE school" days and our "Yay! I love this!" days. But we're plugging away and I think we're making progress. Math has been a bit of a struggle, as we learn to skip-count by 5s. I find myself to be impatient but I'm realizing that in all the ways that my daughter is like me, struggling with math and learning to read may very well be the biggest. I don't remember really having a hard time with math till Algebra but it's quite possible that I did and just don't remember the early couple of years. However, I remember quite well the frustration involved in learning to read. I must have been 7 or 8 before it truly "clicked" because I can recall trying to read a book to a visiting uncle and being in tears over it. Once it all fell into place, I never took a break and I certainly hope I'm able to help Izzy reach that point with as few tears as possible.

Lily has been a bit of a hellion lately. I know it's the budding independence and desire to be the 'decider' but.. oh. my. goodness. It's been super exhausting keeping up with her shenanigans. I'm humbled by it, quite frankly. I can only imagine how ha Shem feels when we struggle against His plan for us. It must seem as tho we're devoting all our efforts to not growing up. As we celebrated Rosh Hashanah last night and today, I have been reminded that if I want to encourage my children to turn away from their naughty behavior, I have to set the example of making teshuvah myself. In the coming weeks, as I seek to instill better habits in my children, I'm hoping to turn away from impatience, being easily frustrated, and feelings of inadequacy.

We've been incorporating Torah time into our school routine and I feel like that is an important step. This past week's Torah portion was perfectly timed for this:

11. For this commandment which I command you this day, is not concealed from you, nor is it far away.
12. It is not in heaven, that you should say, "Who will go up to heaven for us and fetch it for us, to tell [it] to us, so that we can fulfill it?"
13. Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, "Who will cross to the other side of the sea for us and fetch it for us, to tell [it] to us, so that we can fulfill it?"
14. Rather,[this] thing is very close to you; it is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can fulfill it.
The portion goes on to remind us to choose life, not only for our sake, but for the sake of our children.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

July 18, 2012

Today marks 5 years since Izzy was born. 5 YEARS! It seems like forever and such a short time ago, all at once.

Her independent nature shines more and more each day and I'm excited to be along for this part of her journey through life.

A couple of days ago, I was letting the kids take turns playing around on the piano. When it was Izzy's turn, we were more than a little surprised to hear her picking out notes to string together in a melody and then repeat that melody. She hums and sings to herself constantly so I guess it shouldn't surprise me that she can create other forms of music when given the opportunity. This sort of thing falls in the 'terrifies mommy' category because it reminds me that I'm responsible for her education but not in control of her interests or talents.

Last weekend, Izzy wanted to sit next to one of her friends at Temple. My first inclination was to make her sit with me so that I'd know she was behaving. But then it occurred to me that kids don't have an opportunity to behave unless you allow them to practice. So for the next hour, Izzy and Adam shared a seat (I know! so cute!) and whispered and giggled very quietly. I wish I knew what they talked about, it looked so sweet. He commented on her shoes, I think, and was playing with her hair. It's hard for me to acknowledge that she is having a life of her own, already. When kids are babies and toddlers, it's easy to fool yourself into thinking they are mini versions or even just extensions of yourself. And then suddenly they are separate entities with their own dreams and desires and futures. So hard to let go.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

July 15, 2012

This summer break with Ben has gone by so quickly. :( It's been a good time, even if we haven't done a whole lot of new/exciting things. Chad's been off the last week and will be off this week as well. Hopefully, we'll make it to the zoo soon, before it gets even hotter.

Tonight, the boys are at the lake, getting some 'camping' in. Pops will join them tomorrow morning to do some fishing. I don't understand the attraction, especially if the fish aren't going to be eaten by us. haha. But I'm glad they're getting some 'man' time together. Ben does so well with the girls that it's easy to forget that he's so much older and likes to do different things.

Last weekend, Chad took Ben to do some paint-ball... shooting? playing? I don't know what you call it. It was for a friend's birthday so I'm sure Ben enjoyed being out with older kids and other guys. He had a pretty nifty battle wound to show for it, which he couldn't help showing off to everyone who was interested. Boys... ;)

Izzy will be 5 on Wednesday. ACK! I am NOT ready for that. I still have to print/put together a few party things and, you know, buy her a present. She wanted some "stompeez"... silly house shoes that flap or open mouths when you step. But she didn't ask for them till like a week ago and that doesn't leave much time for shipping. I asked her to think some more and she came up with a 'purple haired LaLaLoopsy' doll of her very own. Should be easy enough to find one of those.

Lily has been super accident prone lately. Fell down and skinned both knees a week ago and then fell and skinned a new spot on one knee yesterday at Taste Dallas. Poor kid looks so rough with three band-aids on her knees. She's running a fever today... hoping it doesn't turn into anything major.

School is around the corner and I have done NOTHING to get really and truly ready. Ugh. I wanted to keep schooling through the summer but that just didn't happen. Not the way I'd wanted it to, anyway. We did more reading and kids are always learning, one way or another, but we didn't do the book-a-week thing I'd hoped. Oh well.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

May 24, 2012

What is happening? The year is nearly half over!

Looking forward to some lake time this weekend. I miss being on/near the water. Haha. I do not necessarily miss being IN the water. Lakes have fish poop, duck poop, all the nasty hot dog water people dump out while making their lunch... you name it, the lake has it. And there's no salt in there to help kill the funk. So... yeah. I like to be near the water, I am not crazy about being in it.

This week has been challenging. I recently did two things that have forced me to re-examine the way I interact with and educate my children.

The first thing was reading "Bringing Up Bébé" by Pamela Druckerman. I knew that America has a unique child-rearing culture but I had no idea the differences were so fundamental, not to mention that those differences begin even before birth. Convicting! I, too, am guilty of celebrating my kids' basic skills as if they were amazing accomplishments (what a good jumper you are!), narrating their play (as if they can't "wheeee!" on their own!), and allowing them to monopolize not only my time and attention, but that of my friends, parents, and the general public. I don't want them to be self-centered or praise oriented or incapable of accepting defeat and criticism but they are well on their way already. So, as foreign (har har) as it seems, I'm 'tightening the screw' that should never have been allowed to be so loose. Enforcing manners, respect, patience, obedience, and self-reliance: setting up the cadre. This establishment of framework fits right in with the schooling style that I believe will be ours for the duration so I feel comfortable that this is the right path.

The second thing I did was attending the Home School Book Fair. I admit, I went in hopes of this year finding a magic curriculum that would somehow fit all of our needs. Something that would cover all the basics and not assume that only Christians care about offering an education that encompasses the whole person, spirit and mind. Alas, I did NOT find this magical curriculum. I found things to like and things to stay away from and things that I didn't quite understand (the Richest Christian boardgame? uh...). So I came home and researched and made lists and pondered... and it's back to square one. Living books, lots of copy-work, hands-on activities, and hoping that what I miss one semester, we make up in the next. I will either become organized or die trying. haha

Moving on to other things...

Dance class is nearly over. Next Tuesday is the last 'regular' class and then the following week we have the RECITAL! I wasn't going to push Izzy to participate in the recital but it seems that her teacher thinks she's ready so it didn't seem right to just exclude her myself. The moms have been allowed to sit-in during some practices and most of the girls seem ready to perform. There are still some giggles and stumbles going on but they are actually pretty intent on mastering the skills they're being taught. I'm already looking forward to next year's class.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

May 3, 2012

Sunday school has only two classes left and then half of each weekend will be 'free' for the Summer. I'm not sure how I feel about that. I'd almost rather it were a year round affair, just to be able to stay in the routine easier.

This brings me to a different quandary tho... do we home-school year-round so as not to lose any academic ground or do we follow the public school model and take a break? I feel like public school students miss out by having a forced break... the beginning of the next year seems to involve a lot of review, at least from what we gather from Ben. Home school has the advantage of a mindset of incorporating learning at every possible opportunity so even with a Summer 'break', there's a good chance of being right on target or even ahead by the time the next school year begins. 

I'm considering just instituting a relaxed schedule for the Summer... picking a book to read each week, regular zoo/arboretum/aquarium trips, letting Izzy set a goal of some sort at the beginning, things like that. I don't want to slip out of the routine so much that when Autumn comes around again, we all dread it. 

The Home School Book Fair is back in town next weekend. I am EXCITED! There are a few workshops I'd like to sit in on but mostly, I just want to see if there's anything new/improved to work into our day. 


Furniture refinishing has kind of taken over my free time. I feel like housework is definitely suffering. But it's just more fun to restore a table than to put away dishes, mop the floor, or organize the pantry. Which really needs it, by the way. The pantry was sort of tidied up before Passover but now it's just... amok. Madness in there, lemme tell you. 


Too many people I know are having babies. Flashbacks to the colicky months aren't even enough to make me totally fine with being done. Darn babies and their cuteness. 

Monday, April 23, 2012

April 23, 2012

So, we bought a juicer a few weeks ago and after letting it sit in the kitchen for a while, I finally got it out, looked up some recipes, and hit the grocery store. We've done smoothies with various fruits/veggies in the past and while they've tasted ok, the texture wasn't a hit. Fruit/yogurt smoothies are about the only way to go. So... yes. I was a little skeptical about using kale, cabbage, and beets in a drink but after a few different combinations, I've gotta say that it hasn't been bad. We've done kale/cabbage/carrot/apple juice, kale/cabbage/carrot/apple/pear, all of the above with beets/celery, and then tonight's treat was carrot/apple/orange/ginger. I sprinkled ground ginger in all of them except today's- used fresh. I definitely can taste it more when it's fresh. I like the zing it adds.

I'm not sure I could do one of the the longer cleanses but aside from lunch today, we're working on a three day juice diet this week. It wasn't bad this morning. I didn't even realize I hadn't eaten anything solid till after the girls had already finished their lunch. I actually FORGOT that my lunch was even ready till after I'd been babbling on to Chad about random things in the office for a while.  I'm such a grazer, tho, that I'm not sure I can actually commit to the real juice reboot. Maybe it wouldn't count against me if what I graze on is more fruit?

Anywhoo. That's going on.

Passover was a short week. I thought it would be hard to be leaven-free but the days flew by and the girls didn't seem to really notice that they didn't have the same meals/snacks as usual. Yom HaAtzmaut is Thursday and we'll have a carnival at temple on Sunday. I didn't go last year... I don't remember why. But it sounds like it's going to be a lot of fun so I'm not missing it again.

The girls and I picked up cinder blocks and soil/compost this morning and while they were napping, I put together a little raised bed garden in the back yard. I really hope the dogs leave it alone. I'll probably have to put up some sort of fence, tho. So far, we have green beans, lettuce, spinach and some herbs planted. I'm hoping I remembered the right herbs to deter flies. They have been AWFUL this year already. Poor doggies are just bit all to pieces every day.

I suppose that about covers it. We had Ben this past weekend and spent Saturday afternoon at Joel and Stacey's house for Rowen's birthday party. Ben and the other kids swam/splashed in the pool. It's so fun to watch Ben really dive in. He's not what you'd call an 'accomplished' swimmer but he's got leagues on me. This summer ought to be a lot of fun if we can spend a good portion of our weekends on the lake. I think water-play is perfect for Ben... it requires the energy he seems to have.

Friday, March 16, 2012

March 16, 2012

Ugh. Sometimes, it feels like it should acceptable to hunt someone down and punch them in the face for being stupidly selfish. Stupid OR selfish can be forgiven but I swear, the combination of the two is just BEYOND.

Friday, March 9, 2012

March 9, 2012

Ok so the BIG news around here is the engagement of some very dear friends of ours. Finally. We only made them start dating like... 5 years ago. Maybe 6, actually. Anyway. Yay!! A wedding!!! Next year!!! hehe.

In at-home news, we've been egg-sperimenting the last couple of days. teehee. I came across this via Pinterest and we set out to dissolve our egg's shell and have a NAKED EGG. It took more than 24 hours, at least for me to be happy with the nudity level. And the kitchen smelled fanTAStic for that time. Blech. But the horror excitement on Izzy's face is totally worth it.

Here's how we started:
Nothing too terribly exciting, other than the immediate covering of bubbles.
By the next morning, we had a frothy layer on top of the vinegar. Yay, calcium carbonate!
 From the side - lots of bubble activity for sure. The egg would also periodically roll on its own. THAT was really cool.

Day 3 - we emptied the vinegar, rinsed and rinsed with water and then added food coloring.

 We emptied out the dyed water and ran fresh in... the egg is most definitely colored. I wonder if we could boil it and cut it open to see how deeply the dye saturated?

Thursday, March 8, 2012

March 8, 2012

Ugh. I feel like I have been yelling since the moment I woke up. Lily insists on testing my limits by staring back at me while I'm asking/telling her not to do something... I've considered the possibility that she sees yelling as a bluff but speaking quietly and firmly has even less effect on her. I wish I knew what her buttons were to know what would have the most immediate response. It's not always possible to get 'on her level' or escort her to a corner as soon as she disregards an order. Sometimes the threat of the corner is enough but I hate to use the 'do you need to stand in the corner?' line too often. It's always backed up if she continues to disobey but by then, the damage is often done. Lotion is spilled, towels are strewn across the room, toys are thrown...

I know this is just a phase. I know she won't always test my patience and she won't always be nearly-three. Possibly I should just stop taking it personally.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

February 28, 2012

How is it almost March already? This is craziness.

I think my last entry must have been the one about not spanking the girls anymore. Which would mean it's been nearly 3 weeks since they've been spanked for 'realsies.' I think I've swatted a couple of  bottoms to hurry them up the stairs but nothing major. It's likely too soon to say whether the shift has been successful or not, since every week/day/hour brings about changes in their temperaments, attitudes, and reactions.

Looking at some old pictures of Lily made me tear up a little. She was such an easy-going, HAPPY baby. Now she's a bit mercurial and stubborn. Ok. Not just 'a bit'... she's a LOT mercurial and stubborn. She's still pretty low-maintenance but when she wants her way, she makes it known to the entire area code.

We're working with Izzy to cut down on the water-works. Any deviation from routine or expectation can send her into a near panic mode. This could just be normal nearly-5 behavior for a girl, tho. I don't know. Ben was relatively easy to manage at this age... he wanted his way, of course, but I don't recall him bursting into tears over every little thing like Izzy sometimes does.  Anyway... trying the divert/distract tactic with her seems to help but it's not always easy to break through the emotions and get her attention.

Parenting is hard and every day I'm reminded of just how much work and affection my parents put into us on a daily basis.

Friday, February 10, 2012

February 10, 2012

I recently read this article, reposted by Mayim Bialik  and found it very intriguing. I'm not sure I completely buy into the idea that spanking makes a child more aggressive, as they suggest, but I'm definitely open to the possibility that spanking doesn't produce the desired effect in many cases. Spank too much and, depending on the child's temperament, they cease to see it as a major consequence and learn to almost ignore it as it becomes part of the routine. Or they begin to expect it for everything and are easily scared which is definitely not cool.

Based on that, I've decided to challenge myself not to spank the girls. I don't feel like I do a LOT of spanking and most of what I call spanking is a swat on the behind to curb behavior that they've been warned about but aren't controlling on their own. Things like climbing on furniture, reaching for things that are on the counter, taking toys from each other, getting out of bed and running around screaming instead of sleeping, etc. I try to first tell them what they're doing isn't ok and if they persist, they'll get a swat. Lily is our 'persister' around here. Nothing stops her, not physical obstacles, not stern looks, not anything.

We've had two full days of non-spanking and I would say I definitely see an improvement: mostly in my own attitude. Who knew that once you cross the line from mildly irritated to spank-mode, it becomes easier and easier to reach the "totally frustrated" point? It IS hard to refrain from the 'surprise spank' (thanks for the term, Megan!) but I'm finding that the surprise 'come sit with me for a minute' works just as well and there are considerably fewer tears involved.

I probably shouldn't count yesterday in our 'non-spanking' tally because having friends over immediately reduces the odds of corporal punishment. But bedtime didn't include any deflectors and there were definitely some things going on that would normally have led to a swat on the behind so I'm counting the whole day.

In the interest of full-disclosure: I am still using the possibility of a spanking to get results. As in, "Do you need a spanking or will you listen to Mama on your own?" and "I am choosing not to spank you for this but YOU need to obey Mommy."

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

January 24, 2012

The steady drizzle is outside but sometimes I feel like it's in my head. Just thought after thought, dripping down and splashing around. I don't believe I've ever been unfairly criticized or belittled by friends or family but I've managed to do a lot of that to myself over the last few years. I detest that I feel guilty constantly. I don't put enough effort into lesson planning, I don't focus my energies properly on housework, I don't discipline consistently enough, I don't involve myself in enough; the list goes on and on.

I want to be happy with less but do more.

Friday, January 13, 2012

January 13, 2012

 I don't know what my bedtime was as a child. Maybe I had one and I complained about it. Maybe I didn't mind going to bed. I don't remember anything about bedtime other than running and jumping into bed so nothing could grab my ankles and periodically waking up with horrific 'growing pains' in my legs.

I do think that my children will remember bedtimes. Because every couple of weeks, one or both of them completely wigs out and is awake more than they're asleep and this means I am also awake more than I'm asleep. Lily is usually the one that is just AWAKE. She's not typically cranky about it for long, she just can't get back to sleep easily. Izzy will wake up and be just PISSED for ages. Mad she can't sleep, mad that I'm telling her she needs to, mad that her toys are not all in her bed... you name it, she's been mad about it at 3am.

I'm hopeful that last night was a fluke bc we were out a little later than normal and she had chocolate milk before sleeping... but if she's crazy tonight, one of us will be unhappy.

Definitely glad that Ben seems to have outgrown his night terrors. Up until a few months ago, he would periodically wake up about an hour after going to bed and be completely freaked out. Never a real reason behind it, just awake and upset. And then he'd go back to bed and be fine the rest of the night. I do wonder if medication changes made some of the difference... probably never going to know for sure.

Friday, January 6, 2012

January 6, 2012

I thought I would be more patient and understanding. As it happens, I am NOT. Today is one of those days that starts off pretty well but rapidly disintegrates into a pathetic mess. Between one child not caring how much trouble she gets into and another child finding new and intriguing reasons to wail, I have a splitting headache and no patience left.

This is not how I want to parent, spend my day, or transition into Shabbat and I find myself doing all three with no grace, no kindness in my heart, and a strong desire to just put everyone to bed and start over tomorrow.

It's only 6:28pm. Argh.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

January 4, 2012

With every change from one year to the next, I experience a little bit of disappointment. I think as a child, I imagined that there would be a tangible difference when the date changed from December 31st to January 1st. Like when your birthday rolls around... you think you'll feel older, more mature, special in some way. And then you wake up and the day feels like all the ones before it. Your hair isn't magically restyled, your clothes look the same, and that smell of stale dog-breath still hasn't left the room.

I used to make 'uber-lists' as the year changed and each new year, I would read over the previous list and be disappointed with myself for not having put more effort into life. Now maybe my lists were too long or too specific or I was just setting goals for myself that didn't make sense but I eventually failed at even writing the lists. I think last year, I said something about "we need to repaint in here sometime" and that was as close as I came to setting a goal. I DID actually repaint our bedroom/bathroom but I never got around to the girls' room/bathroom or the downstairs walls. I haven't decluttered my house or my life and I know that's been on my list at least a few times. 

It may be time for a new attempt at an uber-list. I will not make one as long as I used to. 100+ things to accomplish in a year? Madness. 10 seems too trite so I am going to work on 13. 6 fun ones and 7 serious ones. 

Serious like the days of the week:

1. Actually DONATE the bagged items I've got stashed away. They aren't doing anyone any good as long as they're still sitting in the laundry room.
2. Organize closets. This one shouldn't really be that hard because I actually DO like making a mess and then cleaning it back up. 
3. More sewing. I have patterns for dresses for the girls and even enough material to make a few and I just haven't done it yet. 
4. Run at least one race. I'm already signed up for one so this is highly do-able. 
5. Paint a room in the house. Seriously. Really need to do this. haha
6. Study scripture more. I feel like this is attainable. After all, the Torah has already been divided up into nifty portions for each week and all I have to do is READ them. 
7. Cut back on spending. This one is HARD because I generally try to spend money on things I actually have need of and yet I feel like I'm often spending simply because it's there. 

Fun, like Funday.

1. Get a wok.
2. Write more letters to people. 
3. More date-nights!
4. Re-watch all of Gilmore Girls.
5. Attend another home-school book-fair. This was a lot of fun last year and I feel like it could definitely help to keep things fresh and interesting. 
6. Clean out old makeup/hair products so I can FIND things again. Yes. This is a fun one.