Tuesday, November 30, 2010

2010 Advent Calendar

I've been looking forward to Charlotte being old enough to go through an Advent calendar since her first Christmas. And now, we've reached the age where she is! Yay!

I put this calendar together by using scraps of Christmas paper, poster board, my own ideas, and the scripture readings from My Insanity. I cut out stockings using the Ellison machine at my local library. On the back of each stocking is an activity for the day that is Christmas themed as well as one of the scripture readings I linked above. Each stocking is just taped up and can be pulled off each day to read.

This is a simple calendar. That is what suits us best during this stage in our lives. I think the real important part is taking time each day to impart the real meaning of Christmas to my children.

Do you use an Advent Calendar? What do you include in yours?

Monday, November 22, 2010

In Which I Confess That I'm A Good Mom

Last week, I shared with you how I have been struggling with my mothering and my own expectations for myself. And to say I was overwhelmed by the response of my friends and family would be an understatement.

First of all, I truly was feeling alone. Knowing that other moms also do the same things or lose their patience the way I do was liberating! Especially since some of the moms who responded online or in person are woman I consider "super moms." I never would have guessed they yelled at their kids.

As a result, I am going to try to write a post (at the suggestion of my friend Babs) where I list the ways I think I am a good mom. And you should know, I fought really hard to not type the title as ways that I *MIGHT* be a good mom. :)

I give my girls lots of hugs and kisses.

They hear me say "I love you," several times a day.

The TV they do watch is usually educational.

They both love to eat fruit. And are used to whole grain bread and pasta.

I have always tried really hard, and fairly successfully, to guard their schedule, particularly in regards to their sleep. Even if it made the grandparents cranky because their visits were cut short. I know how important it is and that my girls get cranky without it.

I discipline them. It isn't fun to hear them crying or see them stomping their feet but I know it is ultimately more important that they learn to submit to authority. And, as they get older, I plan to teach them when it is okay to question authority.

My family goes to church. Charlotte and Mary are being taught early on to love God and hide His word in their heart. This is evident in the way Charlotte talks about missions and how she shares her knowledge of Truth.

So there you have it... the list was hard to start, but turned out to be easier to write than I thought it would be. Thanks for all of the encouragement moms.

Now, will you share one way that you think YOU are a good mom? Let's support one another!

Charlotte's Surprise

This afternoon, after her nap, Charlotte got a surprise announcement from Daddy.

They are gone now for 1 night of camping about 45 minutes from home. So it's just Mary and I until 11 am tomorrow!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Guest Post: 7 Secrets to Shopping with Children

With the craziest shopping days just around the corner, I asked Candi Wingate, of Nannies4Hire to share her best tips for surviving holiday shopping with your children. I can't promise these will work though if you drag your 2 year old out a 4 am for Black Friday shopping! All bets are off at 4 am!

You are at the grocery store with your two spoiled, rotten wonderfully behaved children, Johnny and Janie. Johnny sees a snack that he feels that he just has to have. You disagree. He wails for all the store to hear. Later, at the mall, Janie repeats the scenario over a brightly colored necklace.

What could be done to minimize the likelihood of circumstances such as these?
  1. Try to plan shopping trips to occur when you and your children are well rested, have recently eaten, and are not experiencing distress. Also, the shopping trip will ideally occur when the stores will not be overcrowded, which can create impatience and distractions. Make plans to do holiday shopping on a weeknight or as soon as the store opens on the weekend.
  2. Ensure that your children have the opportunity to use the restroom right before you go shopping.
  3. Establish and communicate your expectations for your children’s shopping behaviors. (Jennifer here - this one is HUGE!) What behaviors are your children allowed to exhibit? What behaviors do you not want your children to exhibit? Model as many of the constructive behaviors as possible . . . your children are watching what you do. For example, if being calm is one of your expectations, then you yourself must remain calm, even if you are surrounded by chaos.
  4. Bring things to occupy your children. Does your daughter need her teddy bear to occupy and comfort her during a long shopping trip? Can you put your son in the shopping cart with a good book so he can read or look at pictures while you shop?
  5. Promise rewards for good behavior. For example, “If you behave constructively throughout the shopping trip we are about to have, I will let you each have a pudding cup when we get back home.” (Note: if your children do not behave constructively throughout the shopping trip, then you must deny your children the pudding cups upon your return home.)
  6. If your children are small, place them in your shopping cart or stroller. If your children are older and more responsible, ask them to help you shop for gifts. This will help teach them the spirit of the holidays and keep them entertained. Talk about the person you are shopping for, their likes/dislikes, and what’s appropriate for their age.
  7. Turn the shopping experience into a game and a fun educational field trip. For example, you might have them to take turns listing things they are grateful for, ask specific ‘trivia’ questions about the holidays or an upcoming/previous family vacation, or grab two items from the store and ask them to name differences and similarities. Be sure to praise their efforts in responding and provide the correct answers if needed. Interaction will help keep the children engaged while you do productive shopping. 
By following these seven tips, you can minimize the likelihood that your children will have difficulties during the numerous shopping trips. You will still have trying shopping trips on occasion, as there is no way to eliminate all difficult shopping trips, but you can minimize their frequency and severity by following these 7 tips.

What do you do to avoid tantrums or a case of the "gimmes!" during holiday shopping/

Monday, November 15, 2010

In Which I Confess That I'm A Bad Mom

It's true.

I am a bad mom.

I let my daughters watch way too much television. (That's what they are doing while I type this post actually.)

I have stopped doing fun activities with them at home.

Neither of them have a very diverse diet. Vegetables are like a 4-letter word to both of them.

My three-year old can't recognize all the letters in the alphabet. Either that or her attention span is too short to finish the task. (Thanks to all that TV of course.)

My 14-month old has only spoken a single word. It's "ma-ma" so I should be happy, but she is behind her peers. I can easily blame it on her hypotonia, but I am always asking myself, is it actually because she doesn't get enough attention?

The three-year old hides whenever I go to pick her up some place. It's as if she knows that being with someone else is more fun than going home with mom.

Plus, I yell a lot. Way more than I ever thought I would. I actually hate yelling. I even make myself cringe when I do it. It would be impossible to count the number of times I've had to apologize to the three-year old for losing my patience with her.

Really though, I am just scratching the surface of my badness here... there are a million little ways I look at my parenting and can see that my girls will spend years hating their mother and trying to recover from their childhood on a therapist's couch.

Someone please tell me I am not the only one whose mothering has not turned out the way they thought it would?