Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Lots of Breakthroughs

I only have a few pictures today, but am happy to report a few breakthroughs.

First, we have noticed that this week, Marti has had much less interest in video games than in previous weeks. She has spent quite a bit more time cuddling with us to watch movies (which we do nearly every night), playing with Lilly, and reading books before bed. It's nice, but I know that she still adores her video games and this will come and go. I am fine with that.

The second isn't a breakthrough so much as my advice to another mom. This is definitely about what my kids have taught me. I babysit for this particular mom and she was distressed about her daughter's behavior, especially when it came to getting dressed in the morning. The reply was quite long.

This was my advice to her...

"I don't notice too many issues with her. I am thinking that right now, currently, she is sick and that could be the cause of some of the issues.

As far as clothes go, I am sure you already let her pick out her own things, but (and I know this can be difficult) try and make sure her favorite outfits stay washed. Also, you might try asking her if she wants to pick her clothes out the night before or have you tried hanging everything on hangers? I used to put pants, shirt and underwear all on a hanger. There are less choices this way and I know for Lilly that too many choices can be overwhelming.
Another suggestion. Try putting her dresser in the laundry room. I don't know why this might work, but we have taken the girls' clothes out of their room and some days it seems easier, some not. However, Lil has stopped taking out all her clean clothes and strewing them all over the room now. Have you tried pruning down her clothes? Maybe there are too many to choose from.

As far as the behavior issues go...
I used to have HUGE behavior issues with Lil (or what I perceived to be behavior issues). Eliminating the Red dye issue has helped a lot, but what has helped even more is following the principles of unschooling. Now, unschooling can be a lot to swallow and I know that you can't actually take your kids out of school so please don't think I am suggestion that.
It can be a lot to read, but the VERY best site for info on unschooling is www.sandradodd.com/unschooling, but I wouldn't go there right away.

The first thing that I want to suggest is that you do is wrap yourself up in the word "autonomy".
According to Merriam-Webster
Main Entry: au·ton·o·my
Pronunciation: \-mē\
Function: noun
Inflected Form(s): plural au·ton·o·mies
Date: circa 1623
1: the quality or state of being self-governing; especially : the right of self-government
2: self-directing freedom and especially moral independence
3: a self-governing state

This is what we are striving for in our household and that includes Stella when she is here. To an outsider, it looks like I spoil my kids. I will admit that I do my best to give my kids EVERYTHING they want. I certainly think that they deserve it.

I would start by nearly always saying yes. Say yes to everything you can, and even some things that you can't.

Before I start to explain a little, let me quote Amy...
"Saying yes doesn't mean that I ignore my needs and limits, or that I don't keep my children safe, or that they don't learn how to treat people well. We talk about all these things, and I model respect, and we often come up with solutions together. I'm not nearly perfect at it yet, but I really don't punish anymore, and I'm always trying to work my way toward "Yes, and how can I help?""

When I first started saying yes I came upon a situation that most people would say no to. Lilly wanted to play in the road. This was at my MIL's house, not my own and she was about two. I could have easily told her no, but I didn't. I went into the road with her and I watched her the entire time. She soon grew bored with it and was back in the yard. She has only asked to play in the road one other time although she did ask to ride her bike in the road last summer because it was easier than riding on the sidewalk (she would get stuck on the cracks) so, again, I went in the road with her. If you live on a busy street you could still say yes by saying "Let's ride on the sidewalk" or "Lets walk around the block where there is a less busy road."

Now, you are going to meet a TON of resistance with this idea. Firstly within yourself. Before I started this, I thought "well, this will be easy, I don't say no a lot anyway". Boy was I crazy there. I am still working with myself and I first heard of unschooling THREE years ago!

You will also probably meet resistance with your husband, I am sure. Don't tell him what you are going to do and don't expect him to do it. Just model it. If you walk in on him saying no or scolding one of the kids I would suggest getting said child out of the situation by taking them and doing something with them, getting them something to eat (even when it's almost dinner time) or whatever. Then go to your husband and see if there is anything you can do for him. Don't mention the scolding of said child. Perhaps he had a hard day at work, etc. This was a bit hard for me at first. I thought "I already do nearly everything and have my plate full as it is and YOU want ME to do something MORE for HIM?" So, believe me, I have been there.

Also, other family. I try and remember with them that *I* am my child's advocate and sometimes her ONLY advocate. If she were to talk back to said adult, no doubt she would get in trouble. So I do it for her so she doesn't have to. At Christmas, Marti was in a tree outside a public place where we were having our Christmas gathering. My grandfather told me to get her down. I just said "No. She isn't hurting the tree." and I walked on by him. I was able, at that same gathering though, to look back and see that my girls were the most well behaved of the bunch. Including some of the older teens.

Just know though that sometimes, this will all blow up in your face. You will yell and you will scream. You will feel awful about it. Your mom (or sister, or dad, or fill in the blank) will say something to your daughter and you won't say anything, but you will think later, I should have said...

Relish those moments. Those are learning moments.

About a week ago Lilly pooped her pants and I BLEW a gasket and then some! I yelled and screamed at her and then turned around and yelled at Roger. I felt awful IN THE MOMENT, but I STILL could not stop myself. After I got things sorted out I went upstairs and meditated on it. Lilly hadn't even come to me right away about it and I was pissed about that. She hadn't come to me because she was afraid I was going to blow up and I did. What did I teach her in that moment? That she CAN'T come to me. She couldn't come to me when she pooped her pants. If I kept this up, would she come to me when her friends offered her drugs down the road or when her boyfriend wanted her to have sex? I realized I was NOT being the mom I NEEDED to be.

Yesterday she pooped her pants again. There was no yelling and no screaming. I showed a bit of disappointment at first, but I tried my best to clear that and I know that next time, I will be even better.

In those moments, when you yell and scream or when you get disappointed or when you are sure it isn't working because of something your mom said or something Dave said, feel free to give me a call or go read at Sandra's website.

I know this has been a ton of info and advice and I am not sure that you will be interested, but those are my thoughts."


I felt quite pleased with the realizations I have come to leading up to that letter and while writing it. I hope that it helps one or two other soul out there.

Now, on to the fun stuff!!! Pictures for the last couple days!

Yesterday was grocery shopping day and Lilly went with me to the first store. For awhile she sat in the cart with the grocery list to cross things off per her request. It lasted about 3 or 4 aisles and she was down walking, but I took a picture of the grocery list because it shows lots of handwriting practice and some reading practice (if we were concerned with those things, lol).

As far as the handwriting goes, I picked up a couple things that weren't on my list and she insisted that I spell them out for her so she could write them down and be able to cross them off. Too cute!!!

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This next picture is of Lilly teaching me how to play a new game that she made up because I told her that I did not know how to play the game Phase 10, which is what cards she had brought out.

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And we can't forget the one a bit later where she decided she was hungry for sugar. My knee jerk reaction would be best described if you watch Ned's Declassified. On the Field Trip episode, at the end when Moseley sees Ned in the Wild Boy Get up and "laughs", that is about what I was feeling like when I seen her with the sugar, lol. If you have no clue what I am talking about, I highly suggest the episode. Heck, I highly suggest the show. It is a family fave! Actually, I found the clip on Youtube (gotta love youtube!). The part I am talking about is about 2:25 into the clip.

I actually got her a little bowl of the sugar so she could my big one didn't get spilled and turned around a few moments later to the sugar spread all over the desk, so it turns out I didn't have anything to worry about after all.

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A little later that evening Marti was playing a game on miniclip and I look over to see Hilary Clinton being "knocked out" by Rudy Giuliani. Hilarious. She didn't really understand about it being about the presidential candidates, but I told her we were about to pick a new president and this game's players were modeled off of those candidates.

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The last picture I have for now, is from today. We live in Michigan. It is January 9th today and my girls were able to go out and play on a completely dry trampoline. I think the farmers have got to be loving this weather. How it snows and then melts and soaks into the ground, then snows again. I would think it would produce quite a crop coming up. I hope it does them well.

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And I sign off for now so I can go get dinner and enjoy nighttime movie cuddling at the Horein Manor.

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