Monday, May 23, 2011

On Hiatus...

Hmm...  Were they in cahoots about something here? 

It seems that since Mother's Day morning, when this photo was taken, the kids have required much more of my time and efforts to train them up.

Life (especially life with my three blessings and charges) has presented one thing after another.  Some good.  Some challenging.  All finding me with lots of figurative balls in the air (or rolling, dropped, across the floor) and my back against the door (literally, most of the time when I am on the phone, to keep my "runner" and his tag-along sister inside and safe.)

Thus, I have been in the midst of an unexpected hiatus from blogging.   Being a mother to Luke, Nina and Jack is my main call and attending to that, along with home, work and life's other sundry details means has left no time lately for blogging. 

I miss sharing here, as well as reading other folk's blogs and hope to get back to it. 

Not that I think what I share here is so helpful to others, but if you don't already follow vie google or email, and, thus, know when I am posting, and if want to know when I am back and blogging with activity ideas, resource reviews, every day tales, etc., please leave a comment on this post and I will be sure to pop over to your blog or email to let you know my hiatus has ended.

In the meantime, I would appreciate prayers offered for good decisions and just getting through the days, delighting in the gifts God offers despite the challenges life presents.  Thanks!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Holy Spirit Speaks through Children's Play

What are Luke and Nina up to here?

Well, if you asked them, they were singing to their dog-baby, who was going to sleep.

If you asked me, they were helping Mommy listen.

You see, sometimes, when I read the Bible, I wonder: Why doesn’t God send burning bushes, angels and other messengers anymore? For I could sure use some direct guidance and encouragement at times. Most mothers could, right?

Then, I realize He does. He uses those around us to help us receive His messages.

Take this scene last week, for example.  It was through it that the Holy Spirit spoke to me through  Now, I’m not ready to share exactly what the Holy Spirit spoke to me about, right now, but I will share how:

I was discouraged. I was questioning. I was feeling unheard and undirected. I was also not paying much attention to Luke and Nina’s latest antics.

Then, I sat near the kids for a moment with Jack in my arms, too tired to even formulate prayers or cognizant thoughts in my mind.

That’s when Luke turned to Nina and said, “Let’s sing Jesus songs. Let’s sing ‘Alleluia’.”

Now, that caught my attention.


Well, Luke has had an inexplicable aversion to the word “Alleluia” for quite a while now. In fact, he was more than happy to "bury Alleluia" for Lent and shouted at Nina every time she tried to sing it (one of her favorite things to sing) for the next six weeks. Then, since Easter, when he’s heard the word sung, he has usually covered his ears and complained that he “hates alleluia”.

Moreover, the kid has been breaking my heart and testing limits by saying he loves the angels and God, but doesn’t like Jesus. WHAT?!?  Imagine my horror (and my questioning of self about if I have already failed my calling as a mom) every time he voices such offensive thoughts.

So, having Luke suggest singing Alleluia and Jesus songs warmed my heart. Then, as he did it Luke-style, pounding out “music” on his broom-guitar while sing-shouting at the top of his lungs, I sensed a very distinct answer from God about a few things.

Yep, sometimes through din of childhood play, the Holy Spirit speaks to our hearts. I am so grateful that he spoke to mine last week.

What has given you a grateful heart this week?  Share at:

Sunday, May 8, 2011

How to Deal with Non-Compliance: A Mothering Lesson from My Little Girl

"C'mon, Luke," Nina said as she gently took his hand and guided him to where I, a very frustrated Mommy, stood with teeth clenched, taking deep breaths, after my son had not only obviously not listened to me again, but had also run away from me and, worse, run out into the road without stopping, looking nor listening (something we have been drilling over and over ever since a very scary Halloween night.)

So, as my little girl (who did stop, look and listen), guided her brother back to me, a Mommy-on-the-brink-of-yelling-yet-again, I exhaled and thought, "She's so sweet and so wise.”

Yes, as I watched Nina simply walk to Luke, take his hand, smile and use a brief word or two of direction—and, moreover, as I witnessed Luke comply, with a smile on his face even—I realized, “I could have done that.”

In fact, I have done that. With Luke at times. With my other children, too. But, mostly, with other people's kids,  When I used to work at schools, on a cruise ship, at a day care, at a camp,… I almost always remained peaceful, direct and kind when dealing with children. And, usually, it worked,

Then, when I first began my parenting journey, I did the same. Indeed, I was even known to say that I do not allow yelling in my home.

However, over the past five and a half years, as responsibilities and challenges increased—especially those borne from Luke’s unique nuero-pscyhological make-up—that proven firm, but loving, approach  that I had employed successfully for years when working with other people's children was too often superseded by, well, yelling, brashness and, in general, uncharitable Mommy behavior with my own children. You know, the stuff that sometimes works for a moment, but rarely in the long run.  The words and actions that might stop an undesirable behavior when Mommy is looking, but rarely help develop good habits and responsible choices overall.  The errors of my way that make me “human”, at best, and just like other screaming ninny moms, at worst.

And, so it was today, on more than once occasion, that I found myself mothering quite poorly despite it being Mother’s Day.

Then, along came my Little Nina, at a mere almost-four years old, modeling a course of actions and words that embodies some of the wisdom of the ages:

  1. Act more than you speak.
  2. Expect positive results.

Yes, Nina’s simple redirection of Luke demonstrated that:

  • kindness and respect often receive far better responses than harshness and demands.
  • actions, especially firm, intent, yet gentle ones, often speak louder than words.
  • a few well-selected words, spoken in a non-threatening tone, often beget more positive results than a long-winded request or, worse, a frustrated tirade.
Now, I admit that Nina doesn’t always display such acumen,  I also concede that am fallible and can't expect to always do so either. In fact, it took me almost the entire day to truly let the wise modeling that Nina did today sink in. 

But, sink in, it has.  And, tomorrow, I intend to head the lesson:  When faced with non-compliance, I will try to remember to stop what I am doing, look at what is happening and listen to the voice in my head that tells me to do as Nina did,  to react with peace, kindness and directness, inviting compliance.

It is with this thought I go to bed smiling.  For there may have been no cards nor tangible gifts from my children for me this Mother’s Day (beyond generous shares of heart-warming and appreciated hugs, kisses and well wishes, and, those, in themselves are immeasurable treasures), but there was Nina's reminder of how to be a more effective mom.  That reminder is something I am determined to really hold onto!

Thanks for the lesson, my sweet girl!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Jack is 10 Months Old (and a week!)

In honor of Jack's 10-month birthday, I thought I would share some photos of him from the past month...

I'm starting to get curls like my siblings.
I was a champ through my recent belly bug!
I pulled myself to standing for the first time shortly before I got it.
And, I was alert as ever even as I recovered from it.
I like to play tug-o-war with my seat tray.  It always makes me laugh!
I am constantly teething and chewing on everything!
I think I feel another tooth popping in from the top!
What a fun mirror Mommy's friend has!
Sleepy boy.
When I want something, I am quietly intent on getting it.
I can drink from a glass.
I like trying to climb trees like Luke and Nina!
One of my favorite past times!

I've just realized I don't have good photos of Jack doing his perfect Army crawl (which he is transitioning out of now), nor his new big boy hands-and-knees crawl.  I also don't have one of him playing catch with a ball, which he loves to do.

What I do have is a photo of my baby having his first big boy picnic -- feeding himself just like Luke and Nina do!

And one of him and Daddy on his actual 10 month old birthday. (See the resemblance?)

And, finally, I have a question: 
How did we go from this:

to this:

to this:

so quickly?
Jack's first year is going by too fast.

He truly is the "cherub", "angel" baby everyone always comments to me he looks like.  He is so laid back, amiable and sweet.   We are truly blessed by our surprise baby each and every day.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Our Addiction Revealed at Signature Moms

Online communities are such a wonderful resource for our family that I have become a little addicted to blogosphere, yahoogroups and such. But, there is something else my family is addicted to that I revealed today over at Signature Moms, a community resource for moms of all ages.

Swing on over to my post there to discover what I have been known to schedule doctor's appointments and shopping trips around -- especially now that spring has sprung! Ah, no more hats and coats needed, at last.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

We Play Pool Noodle Hockey

No correct equipment? No problem! All you need is a family with imagination!

That’s what we found one evening a few weeks back when warmer weather was finally breaking in our part of the world and our son wanted to play hockey outside.

The problem was that we have no hockey equipment.

And the solution? Looking at what we did have instead of what we didn’t and making it work anyway!

We had:
  • a need for Luke to enjoy some heavy work as part of his sensory diet.
  • a craving for us all to partake in some active, outdoor time (homeschool P.E.)
  • a family with imagination

Bike helmets, Freecycle-scored roller skates, pool noodles, a wiffle ball and the game was on!

The Look of Determination
Our former neighbor, who was visiting next door, even peeked out, saw us playing and came over to join in the fun.

Evening Up the Teams
  • Proprioceptive and vestibular input? Check!
Bend and Reach
Balance and Move
  • Laughter and fitness together outside? Check! 
"Hockey is fun!"
Daddy-Son Face Off
  • Creative problem-solving as a family? Check!
    Game On

    • Controled, good-natured rough play?  Check!
    And, perhaps, most importantly: Safe, family fun? Check! (Luke wanted to use his and Nina’s metal rakes as sticks. For safety reasons, I suggested the noodles.)

    We Play
    How about you? What have you been playing with your kids? Has creativity or problem-solving been the impetus for any new versions of old games? Do share! And, if you happen to try pool noodle hockey, stop by here again to let us know how it went.

    Aldo, stop be We Play at Childhood 101 to share.

    Monday, May 2, 2011

    For the Car (and Home) Music Library: A 28 Instant Songames Review

    Singing Along while Finding Her Armpit
    For economic reasons, as well as simply to maintain a good balance to the rhythm of life, I try to maintain a habit of having several car-free days for the kids and me.  That means on days when we do use the car, there are often a number of errands and appointments to attend to back-to-back.  Or, there are long drives to single destinations to be had.

    Whether grouping a lot of smaller trips into one or taking one longer trip, I find that having a mini music-library in the car helps keep everyone happy, entertained and, yes, even moving, at times.  (Because, with my kids, balancing still quiet times with active moving ones is key to maintaining peace and Luke's sensory diet.)

    Recently, I was lucky enough to review a copy of  28 Instant Songames, provided by Future Horizons, for OJTA (complete, detailed review here). What a great little CD this is!

    Meant for music and movement at home or in the classroom, we accidentally found 28 Instant Songames is perfect for the car, too.  You see, in order to write the review for the CD, I gave it a first listen-through in the car.  The kids took to it immediately and, after that, often requested it in the car (and at home).  Truly, the CD became a staple in our mini-van!

    When I pop the CD into our minivan's player, Nina joins in with song and playing right away, by singing out all of our names, as well as ones of friends and extended family members during the introductory songs.  Then, she and Luke enjoy finding their own body parts, and pointing to Jack's, during some of the early songs on the CD.  (I love that these songs include a variety of lesser-used body part vocabulary, instead of just the typical early ed song basics:  head, shoulders, knees, toes, hands, eyes, ears, mouth and nose.)  After that, by the time we get to Luke's favorite, "Pick an apple, pick an apple..." everyone is giggling, interacting and stretching -- well on our way to a decent drive

    Of course, being constantly active and silly in the car isn't my idea of a perfect car ride.  I like some relative quiet, too.  And, I must say 28 Instant Songames provides that, too.  The kids often become quiet and intent when listening to the character voices on the CD that lead them through the CD's different realms:
    • The Horse Realm, where children develop awareness of their bodies while moving along to music that ignites rhythm and imagination.
    • The Dolphin Realm, where children explore their feelings, strengths and joys, increasing their vocabulary and emotional awareness as they play
    • The Eagle Realm, where children are encouraged to connect with others while discovering personal joy and acceptance of diversity.
    • The Frog Realm, where the magic of imaginative play is honored and where wishes and dreams are invited to be voiced.
    These characters provide a “story” effect, where bits of narration from various fairies and creatures,  “Aunt Barbara” and two children, string the 28 songs on the CD together as a cohesive whole, making it even more enjoyable for the kids to listen to in the car.

    From Tears to Apple Picking
    In fact, it is just this story effect that has more than once saved the day, or at least decreased the stress level, in our mini van.

    You see, lest you think all is ideal in the Stanger mini-van, let me be the first to admit it is not! I often have to struggle with one (or all three!) of our children to get them in the car.  These struggles carry over to whining and, sometimes screaming and tears, as the kids are buckled in.  Then, there are the residual kiddo complaints and nagging aimed at me and each other.  It can be very trying!

    That's where 28 Instant Songames comes in.  For the time being, at least, it's story effect has a wonderful calming effect on the kids.  I pop the CD in and their concentration moves from being extraordinarily unpleasant to being engaged in music, song and storyline.  Ahhhh!  Peace!

    With easy-to-follow songs and chants, various vocal qualities, rhythms, beats and sounds, plus the storyline to boot, 28 InstantSongames lives up to its name as an instant (and enduring!) hit in our minivan.  (We like to dance along to it in our living room, too.)

    28 Instant Songames: Fun Filled Activities for Kids 3-8Some skills the CD keys into are:
    • listening
    • memory
    • fine motor
    • gross motor, and
    • language.

    The songs and games as described in the CD's accompanying booklet, key into the following concepts in a fun and functional way:
    • body awareness,
    • self-esteem,
    • self-expression,
    • friendship, and
    • acceptance of others.
    Catchy, easy-to-follow and able to engage, 28 Instant Songames is a resource we enjoy!

    What are some of your calming car strategies?  Any favorite CD's for car trip, long and short?  Do share in a comment!


    Related Posts with Thumbnails