Tuesday, November 29, 2011

As it turns out, they ARE listening...

So, I'm not quite sure what I've done.  I make a big effort to teach my kids to be grateful for what they have.  They know not to ask for things in the store and are generally happy with what they've got.  Well...

They seriously think they're not getting anything for Christmas.

Not like 'You were bad, you're not getting anything', but a very matter-of-fact 'We have everything we need.  We don't need anything for Christmas.'  I know because Girlie's teacher at church asked J if the kids really aren't getting any presents for Christmas?   

We had a conversation a couple weeks ago.

Girlie:  I am sooooo excited for Christmas!!!
Me:  You are?
Girlie:  YES!!!  I mean, but not for presents or anything, just because I love Christmas and I want to do a service project where we donate newborn kits--
Sammy (looking very surprised and a little skeptical):  People really donate newborn kids?
Girlie:  No, like onesies and diapers for babies.  KITS.
Sammy:  Yeah, I'm excited for Christmas too.  Not for presents, either. 
Girlie:  Yeah, we have everything we need.
Me:  Yes, we're very lucky, aren't we?
(a pause)
Girlie:  Are we really not getting any presents for Christmas?
Me: Have you ever not gotten any presents for Christmas?
Girlie:  No.
I just smile.

Fast forward to the conversation where Girlie proclaims to all her friends at church that there are no presents in our household this year.  And, while we're doing a more-experiences-instead-of-tons-of-gifts year, of course my kids are getting presents.

But I'm having a bit of a dilemma.  Am I Scroogy if I just let my kids believe they're not getting gifts?  There's no "I want this", no wish lists, no circling things in catalogs, thought of ...self.  And isn't that what I want for my kids? it?  It's weird, because I didn't think that kids would actually be like this.  Are they missing some of the excitement of Christmas?  We certainly want our kids to focus more on the birth of the Savior, and they're thrilled with the service things we've got planned, and they certainly are getting wonderful gifts and experiences for Christmas.  I'm just wondering if they've listened ...too well.  We are taking them to see Santa (even though we're not big promoters of Santa), but I'm pretty sure they'll have a blank look when he asks them what they want, since "a farm with horses" is off the table for now.  What do you think?  Are they missing part of childhood?  Or are they exactly the kind of people I have been trying to raise? 


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

My favorite parenting tips

My lil sis is about to have her first baby (as in, due today).  And, being the older sister I find it my duty to be the Official Dispenser of Unsolicited Advice about being a parent.  Here are some of my favorite tips that people have given me, in no particular order.

1--Sometimes when your child wakes up from a nap they will be happy, sometimes unsure, and sometimes freaking mad at the world.  There's nothing you can do, just ride it out and they'll get over it soon.

2--Get on their level when you're having an important or disciplinary conversation.

3--When they ask for you, say "Yes?" because it sounds so much nicer than saying "What?"

4--Never buy them something in the store in the moment they're asking for it.  Come back later and buy it.  Or, when they're small enough, you can still buy it without them seeing it.  Save yourself some future entitlement issues.

5--You cannot spoil an infant by holding him/her too much.  Too soon they'll be pushing you away saying "'Nuff love, Mommy, 'nuff love!"

6--Write down all the cute things they say, because contrary to what you think, you won't be able to remember them all and write them down later.

7--Empower them.  Give them stools and put things on their level so they can help themselves (like putting kid dishes on a shelf their level so they can 'set the table' for snack time, ).

8--Every chance you get, tell them how special they are and how much you love them.

9--Natural consequences:  "If I have to spend all of my time and energy cleaning up this mess by myself, I will not have any energy left to {do that fun thing that you wanted to do}" makes more sense than "Clean this up or we are not {going to do that fun thing}!!"

10--People are more important than things/everything is disposable.  It doesn't matter how long it's been in the family, how expensive or new it is, or how much you loved it as a child--it can be ruined and thrown away.  Just keep telling yourself that people are more important than things.

11--Use encouragement, not praise.  I know, sounded weird to me at first too.  Examples:

"Wow!  You figured that out all by yourself!!" vs. "You are so smart!!"
"I enjoy your sense of humor so much!  You make me laugh!" vs. "You are so funny!!"

They might seem the same, but using the first phrases (the encouragement phrases) leads a child to draw conclusions about themselves ('I am smart/funny'), which is infinitely more powerful for them as a person, than for their self esteem to be based on judgements (praise phrases) from others.  Praise can acutally be very damaging to their self esteem, because they can come to rely on on praise and will struggle when they don't have it from others.

12--Warning:  You will love your baby so much that you can hardly stand it.  You will be so out of control, head over heels, crazy in love with this little person that you honestly think that your heart just may burst out of your chest.  You will know that you've never witnessed anything as amazing and miraculous as this little person, and you'll be so utterly enchanted with your child that, could he/she ask for a whole herd of ponies, you'd do it in a heart beat.  Your breath really will catch in your throat, and you will be so excited about your child that you will experience such a high of emotion that would be exhausting if it were about anything else, but is instead exhilarating.  It is a phenomenal, life-changing kind of love.

Join in the advice giving!  What's your favorite parenting tip?

Friday, November 4, 2011

Q. What is The Seattle Times? {and my fall mantel}

A.  The big field that we go to play in every fall because our backyard is too small and we don't have these beautiful leaves, and Mommy takes a million pictures of us.  Oh, yeah, and a newspaper too.

Sadly, I think her favorite thing is running from the camera.

I didn't tell him to put his arm around his brother.  To me, that's priceless.

Sometimes he looks like this.

But most of the time he looks like this...

The joy of fall!!  We love the last, outrageous burst of color.  It fills the soul.

So, I brought some of the fall-y feeling inside to my mantel.  The light here makes it hard to get really good pictures 9 months of the year.  But, here ya go.  Ideas for fall 2011.

I opted out of my usual leaf garlands and candles this year.  I went with a simple berry garland along the mantel and dug through my shelves for an assortment of books.  I am in love with the wreath, and I attached it by putting a thumb tack in the top of my window and using a loop of brown yarn to secure it.

The pumpkins I tipped on their side by putting a little adhesive cork circle on the side (I was going to use tape, but didn't have any artists tape).

I took all the jackets off the books and chose them for their color, not their title.  I wanted cozy fall colors.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

50 lbs of candy

That's what it felt like, anyway.  Here is my little Cougar team (complete with bubble wrap football pads).  Clearly it doesn't matter to us where they go to school. ;)    
Between the church trunk or treat, Microsoft trick or treating, and the neighborhood, there was a lot of candy to be had.  If you need any, just come to our house.

And then yesterday, having reached my personal Halloween saturation point, I tore everything down and now it is Fall here.  Ahhhh....