Friday, January 18, 2008

All within the last day

I tried to post yesterday, but found myself just complaining about how Lilly is not being as well behaved as I want her to be. What a laugh!

So, here I am today with pictures of things I have suggested to them and they have loved the ideas.

January 11th~We headed to Walmart so that we could pick up mini trampolines for us and for Stella's family because they were on sale for $19, which is like 1/2 off. Marti and Lilly also chose to spend their allowances (which is $5 every other week per girl, not much but they are currently happy with that). Marti had saved her allowance from the payday before so she had $10 and Lilly had $5. We went through the normal, "Mom, can I have this?" and "Let's look at the price. Nope, this one says ______, you don't have enough for that one, but if you save your money you will have it in ______ weeks ".

Marti picked a fairy Barbie and a Polly Pocket set complete with horse. Conveniently, I had recently cleaned out their room and moved all the Polly Pocket stuff downstairs in a case.

Lilly picked the same pink fairy Barbie as Marti and recently named her Nika.

So, here is Stella and Lilly on the trampoline which was initially in the basement, but is now upstairs in their bedroom.

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And a picture of them together LOOKING like best friends. Don't let that fool you, lol! Stella also looks taller in the pic because she has dress up shoes on. They are actually about the same height even though Stella is 10 months younger than Lilly.

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And a picture of Marti with her Polly Pockets on Friday. This was the first day in a long time that she had little interest in playing video games.

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Saturday morning Lilly got up and wanted to play Veggie Tales Dominoes (which I printed from here and laminated at Office Depot when they were doing free laminating for teachers back in September). So, we played a game, then we spelled her name out, which she was very proud of, as you can see.

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Tuesday, I thought the girls might like to try something new so Lilly and Stella helped me make crepes. Lilly and Marti wouldn't try them, but Stella liked them.

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Yesterday Lilly and Stella climbed into their swimsuits and took a bath. This activity is a sensory thing for both girls. Usually it calms them. Yesterday, it ended in fighting, but they had fun for a minute.

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We also pulled out a game that I bought back in the summer and forgot about. Pin the key on the treasure map. They liked it alright, but Lilly couldn't grasp the concept of leaving the blindfold on. If she left the blindfold on she just couldn't see where the X was to put the key.

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We also downloaded a game suggested on one of my lists called TimezAttack. I wasn't sure Marti would get into it, but she loves it. Now, she is learning her multiplication facts BEFORE she has her addition and subtraction facts memorized. Uh-oh! Just kidding. It's an Oh-well here!

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It seems yesterday was quite a busy day. In the afternoon Lilly and I went to buy a "snake" in order to clean out our kitchen sink drain (which didn't end up working), but Lilly came into the kitchen and asked what I was doing. I said, "Snaking the drain". She says, "Can I snake the drain?". Of course I let her and she thought it was just the best thing. That alone made all the trouble we went through for "nothing" totally worth it.

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Today, the girls made sticker pictures and macaroni necklaces, plus they have been playing in the girls' bedroom a lot lately.

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Well, that's all for today. Have fun this week!

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.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

The Holidays

I could tell you all that we have been busy around here the last few weeks and that is why I haven't posted, but I bet you already know.

Our Christmas and New Years were both good. My great grandfather who is nearly 80 went into the hospital on Christmas Eve and unfortunately came out with hospice so we are all spending lots of time with him.

As usual, we documented the last few weeks with pictures and will be putting together the pictures and videos from June 2007-December 2007 on two big DVDs. We have 4.16 Gigs of picturess and 2.57 Gigs of videos.

We wanted to share a few with you all and even a couple videos of us sledding that we took today.

Lets start with talking about the latest video game that we have been playing. It's called Harvest Moon Magical Melody and we got it from our local library. Marti and I both LOVE it. Her favorite thing is to watch me play (which would honestly bore me to death if the roles were switched, but she loves it). Anyway, here is a pic of some of our accomplishments ( you can click on the thumbnail and be taken to a bigger version if you wish.

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In the center we are freeing the Harvest Goddess (one of the main goals in the game). From the top clockwise the pics are as follows

-LiLari (our characters name) with our sheep who are named Baaaab (from an episode of Drake and Josh called Sheep Thrills), Acrobat (not named after anything, Marti picked this name), Bella (Bellatrix from Harry Potter) and Cissy (Narcissa from Harry Potter)

-LiLari with our chickens who are named Cormac (after Cormac McClaggen in Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince which I had just finished reading), Abbot (Hannah Abbot in Harry Potter), Won Won (what Lavender Brown calls Ron Weasley in HBP) and Wormtail (Peter Pettigrew's nickname in Harry Potter)

-LiLari with the love of her life, Alex, the doctor in the town.

-The Harvest Goddess right before turning from stone back into her regular self.

The other pictures are of different notes we recieved which helped us to free the Goddess. The ones I included in the collage I can't remember the exact names for the notes, but...
the Wild note, the Fodder note, a note for planting a tree, dyeing wool note, brushing note, shearing note for shearing the sheep, the snow note, and the second home note.

This game has been much fun for the both of us and now we are trying to find a way to collect the money to buy it.

CHRISTMAS

This next picture is of my eldest daughter. On this particular day we went to a gathering of my maternal family with whom I am fairly close, but we don't really see much of anymore, like we did when we were kids.

Lilly was on the VERY shy side for the first half of the gathering and I held her most of them time (and as it is usual with family, we got a few snide comments which we completely ignored).

Towards the end of the event Marti decided to go outside with my 12 year old cousin and my 7 year old decided to climb the tree. When I found out, I laughed and went out to take a picture, which is below. My mom loved it too as she happened to be the "Best Tree Climber On The Block" when she was growing up and considering she lived in the country, blocks are VERY big there, lol! My grandpa did tell me to go get her out of the tree and when I refused, he dropped it. Here is the pic.

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I personally had a little trouble dealing with Christmas as all my girls wanted to do was play video games. They weren't even that interested in gifts. It was a silly thing that I ended up becoming a martyr over for a few days, but I got over it rather more easily than I have with similar things in the past.

Here are some pics from New Years Eve when we decided (just that afternoon in fact) to go to the beach on Lake Michigan that we often migrate to several times throught the year, especially in the summer.

The Lighthouse
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Daddy and Lilly playing Star Wars
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Marti
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Lilly
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AND on the way back home, Marti let her chocolate melt in her hands and ended up rubbing it all over her hands, but it was okay because we were stopping at the store anyway. It took her a full five minutes to get the chocolate off, lol! It felt good to not make a big deal out of this. This unschooling thing is catching on, lol!

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New Years Eve Night we had quite a snow. I took pictures in the early hours of morning before dawn (yes, I wake up naturally before dawn on a regular basis WITHOUT an alarm). If you click on the pic, you will see a bigger pic and can even see the moon peaking through the branches. I was able to share this beautiful view with my family through pictures because they all like to sleep later than me.

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Later that morning Lilly was playing on Playhouse Disney and made me a picture, so I had to share that too.

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And then, even later we all went outside. The girls played in the snow and Roger and I took turns cleaning off the car, shoveling the driveway and sidewalks. Marti started a snowman. The first pic is Marti and Lilly with the bottom of the snowman. The second is of Marti with the middle which she ended up throwing at me because she "didn't like" something I said. It hit me pretty good and we had a good laugh.

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And Finally, the videos from today. The first is of both girls going down and "crashing" at the bottom and the second is of Marti attempting a ramp which had been pre-built. Her sled got tripped up on the ramp and she fell face first into the snow. After we got the snow out of her face she was fine. In fact, when she seen the video she cracked up and told me that I should put it up here, so I am.

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