Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Eight is Enough

1) I just finished knitting a sweater for NJH. It was a very easy pattern, using a fair isle patterned yarn. I'm happy with the result, although it's a little too big for him right now. I have a series of very funny pictures of him "modeling" the sweater...he's furious with me and screaming and having quite the meltdown, poor little fella!! (posting pics soon)
2) I'm planning CAH's 5th birthday party. It will be a Tinkerbell theme, and just "big girls" have been invited. We'll be playing several games, doing a few crafts, and assembling/eating fruit kabobs. CAH opted for cupcakes (with purple and green "pixie dust") and we're still deciding about a pinata (vs. treat bags with lip gloss, sparkly stuff, etc.)
3) The three older kids are very busy with swim lessons. I am proud to say NCH, at age 7, is now at level 6! CAH, at age 4, is a level 4, and KBH, at age 3, is a level 2. KBH is officially "vestless" and all over the pool at home. She jumps off the middle diving board at lessons with her usual zest!! CAH has a beautiful stroke, especially the "elementary back stroke" (or "chicken airplane soldier.") NCH continues to participate in the swim team, with practice each morning at 7:30, and meets once a week. He swam the 25m free, 25m back and 25m breast last week and was thrilled he wasn't "DQ'd" (that means he is doing the correct stroke now, for the entire race.) Both girls are on the waiting list for the swim team, so hopefully they will get the chance to join in the fun in another year or so.
4) My house is dirtier than it's ever been!!! Yes, it's true! We're on the go with swimming so much, that my usual morning cleaning time no longer exists. I try to run the vacuum daily, and the meals/dishes/laundry are barely getting done. It's a little frustrating, but there are less than 3 weeks left of the swim practice/lesson schedule...I'm sure the dirt, dust and grime will still be here!!
5) I finally finished watching "ER"...I know, it's silly, but I had most of season 14 and all of the last season downloaded and it was bothering me that I was taking so long to get through it. I was sad to see it end...but I know, it's just a show!
6) I'm still reading the "Left Behind" series by Tim LaHaye...what a great series!! I'm on book 9 and it continues to captivate me...I look forward to my Precept Bible study this fall, as we study Revelation.
7) We spent Sunday at my parents' place on the Great Sacandaga Lake. I love watching the kids out on the boats. NCH thinks it's a "perfect" day if he can be in each of the boats (sailboat, motor boat, row boat and kayak.) In fact, he had his first solo kayak trip on Saturday, as he and my dad kayaked Northville Lake up and back. I can't believe he's big enough to do that!! All three of the older kids love tubing behind the motor boat, and I'm sure it won't be long before NCH tries the water skis! So far, NJH says, "Boppa, lake, sail boat" but he gets a bit timid once he's on the dock. I don't mind that he's balances out the risk-taking tendencies of KBH!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Book Review: Have a New Kid by Friday

Those of you who know me know that I love a "kick" a "fad" a "trend" or a "gimmick," whether it's dieting, fitness, or raising kids/behavior modification/discipline. I am aware, however, that there is no "manual", no "step by step how-to-raise-a-perfect-child" guide book. Instead, I try to gather information from a variety of sources and incorporate new ideas into my ever-growing "bag of tricks." I also realize, now that I have four children, that every child is different. What works for one child, may not work for another...and what works one day, may backfire another time. Now that all of that is out of the way, here is my "review" of the book, "Have a New Kid by Friday" by Dr. Kevin Leman.
I picked up this book because several friends had raved about it. The title was pretty catchy, and the book wasn't terribly long. I could commiserate with several of the "tales of woe" at the beginning and I was ready to change my children - attitude, behavior and character!!
My positive feelings began to fade when I read the words, "1) Say it once. 2) Turn your back. 3) Walk away." Somehow, that just didn't sit well with me. Saying it once sounds terrific, but turning my back? Walking away? Hmmm. I decided to keep reading, maybe I just didn't understand. Now that I've finished the book, my opinion hasn't changed much: your child needs to tidy the family room. You say it once, turn your back, and walk away. If the child has not complied, you wait until he needs something from you, and then you refuse to do it. You can then explain that when he didn't tidy up when you asked, he was not obeying/showing kindness/respecting you and you, in turn, will not drive him to karate that day. Again, that does not sit well with me. Am I teaching my child he has to behave or he won't get stuff? That if he disobeys, mommy will decide she doesn't feel like doing X, Y, or Z? Maybe I'm missing something, but this is the gist of this book! Also, in the area of "say it once," Leman claims, "If you say it more than once, you're implying, 'I think you're so stupid that you're not going to get it the first time, so let me tell you again.'" I'm not convinced here.
Yes, there are other sections of the book that make more sense to me: understanding the ABCs (attitude, behavior and character...if you don't like your child's attitude, look in the mirror; know the purpose behind your child's behavior; and know how to shape your child's character.) Three helpful strategies: "1) Let reality be the teacher. 2) Learn to respond rather than react. 3) B doesn't happen until A is completed."
Other helpful sections (although not new): 3 types of parenting (permissive, authoritarian, and authoritative/responsible) as well as 3 pillars of self-worth (acceptance, belonging, and competence.) And then the "top 10" list, which includes being consistent, always follow through, respond don't react, never threaten, never get angry, don't give any warnings (this is a tricky one for me - not sure I agree here), ask yourself "whose problem is this", don't think the misbehavior will go away, keep a happy face, even when you want something else.
The remaining 2/3 of the book is "Ask Dr. Leman," an A to Z guide/advice section. Some of this was helpful, some applies to older children (musical influences, cell phones, etc.) but "fighting in the car" jumped right out at me (a recent issue for the Hill Herd!) The advice for this problem was to try turning up the music (so it seems like you can't hear them?!!) If this doesn't work, "calmly pull over the car and stop. Get out of the car, stretch a little, check your tires...when you get back in the car, say something like, 'is it safe for Mom to drive now?'" I liked this one! (I'll let you know if it works...)
A few other points to ponder - "Don't praise them. Encourage them." Leman states that, "Praise links a child's worth to what she does. Encouragement emphasizes the act." I'm still mulling this one over.
My goal is not to bash Dr. Leman. I am just a bit skeptical of the "five-day" plan. There are several items from this book that I will add to my own bag of tricks, but I don't think "say it once, turn your back, walk away" is right for our family at this time.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

In Love With A 21-Month-Old

Yes, I love all of my kids, but did you ever have that day/moment when you are just SOOOOO "in love" with your kids?!! It happened today with NJH, now 21-months-old. I'm not sure if it's knowing he's "our last" or just his utter cuteness, but I keep finding myself staring at him...watching him play, gazing at him as he looks at books, just marveling at all he is. Here are some of the things he's doing lately:
1) Last night when I tucked him in bed, he said, "Mommy, lub-you" for the first time.
2) I've heard him repeat after me counting to ten, but today he counted from 1 to 10 completely on his own, several times (he was counting the bars on the safety gate.)
3) He LOVES to sing! He actually has great pitch and rhythm (very cute to see him dance along with The Wiggles.) He's been singing Barney's I Love You, Jesus Loves Me, Bathtime song (wah, wah, wah wubbly bubbles...), Mr. Golden Sun, and Brown Girl in the Ring (sugar and a plum song.)
4) He enjoys playing sleep (he calls is "leep") and snuggling under blankets, pretending to sleep.
5) He has such a great laugh and loves to play hide and seek/peek a boo.
6) He absolutely LOVES books! He often says, "Read, Book" and is quite particular about which book he wants. He also knows which pages are his favorites and names most of the items on the pages. I love when he makes animal sounds, especially a high-pitched "Tweet, Tweet" for birds.
7) He's being a little bit "Rain Man" lately (repeating words and phrases over and over and over and over), but usually once I acknowledge him, he moves on. He is definitely enjoying the sound of his own voice!! :)
The time is just flying by...I can't believe he'll be two in less than three months! I'm really making an effort to savor these sweet moments.