Category: Parenting

Link Round-ups: Inspirational Images, How to Cook Millet, Pool Noodle Hacks, and More

Posted on Jul 22, 2014 by No Comments

Today’s link round-up has inspirational desktop images, tips for cooking millet, pool noodle hack for adults, and more.

Thrifty Recipes taught us how to make chocolate chip sour cream banana bread.

Songbirds and Buttons shared inspirational desktop images.

Chocolate Covered Katie taught us how to cook millet.

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The Suburban Soapbox showed us how to make personal reuben pizzas.

Domestic Mommyhood showed us how to make Kool-Aid play dough.

Create Craft Love shared some pool noodle hacks for adults.

Oh Everything Homemade taught us how to sew a blanket for a toddler.

Photo credit: Thrifty Recipes and The Suburban Soapbox

Widen and Loosen in the Cycles of Life

Posted on Jul 21, 2014 by No Comments

I have noticed an interesting pattern in my family that seems to be more and more prevalent. We are widening and loosening more than ever before. Let me explain.

Years ago when the older kids were small, my concept of family was also very small. My immediate family, my parents, and a couple of close friends pretty much were the sum total of who I included. We were tight-knit, very close, and looking back at it all I would have to say that we were exclusive.

As time went on, those bonds loosened. We were still very close but the people we included were more varied than in the past.  Girlfriends, boyfriends, random people who had no where to be…all of these people ended up at our home. We had widened our definition of family to include who every happened to cross our paths.

Sometimes this wasn’t such a good thing. Not everyone we invited in to the house was helpful, a good influence, or worthy of our time. We learned, we healed, we went on. While we did widen our definition of family we were still pretty close knit and still pretty stuck in our own ways of doing things. You were welcome to enter in but, like a black hole, you were not able to get out.

Then one got married, two went into the military, I got divorced and remarried, and everything changed.

All of the insecurity made me long for that tight, close, sheltered family. I wanted a place where no one got hurt, where I could protect my loved ones, and where things stayed comfortably predictable. The problem with that was that comfortably predictable can also be translated as stagnant.

Stagnant things stink after awhile.

I let go and watched as things continued to widen, but now they were also becoming loose. Not everything revolved around my house anymore. They had adult friends, things that they did, in-laws, and other relationships that were every bit as important to them as I was. I could let go of the strings on my own terms or I could have my hands shredded as those bonds were yanked from my hands.

I chose to let go.

Nothing terrible happened. Some things are different than they used to be and some things are not. I did not cook the Christmas turkey last year — my son-in-law fried it. It was an odd feeling a first, almost as if I had been replaced.

As things went on, the feeling of replacement grew to a different feeling altogether. It was a feeling of inclusion, of being part of a team, and of working together. As an only child, that wasn’t something I had much experience with. I tend to be one of those people who works best alone.

I stepped back and handed some of my responsibilities to my kids. It was freeing in some ways but it also allowed me to understand how my parents felt when they handed over some of their responsibilities to me. It truly is a cycle of life — it just doesn’t feel odd until you are on this side of it.

Which side of the equation are you on?

photo credit: kevin dooley via photopin cc

Why Being Good Isn’t Good Enough

Posted on Jul 18, 2014 by No Comments

I have some unusual ideas about parenting. I really do try not to saddle anyone else with my beliefs, although I share my thoughts, because honestly I am a much different parent now that I was 30 years ago.

Some of the things I did make me cringe but I have the dubious advantage of looking back on all my mistakes and attempting to do it differently when the situation calls for it. No doubt in ten years I will look back on these parenting days and cringe as well.

One thing I have noticed is that we tend to focus on the outward behavior more than the inward motivations. Because of this, we raise kids that know how to make things look good but often don’t have the ability or self discipline to carry it off when not in public. We give a child a timeout for getting angry and hitting someone but we don’t follow it up with practical ways that they can manage that anger next time.

Let’s face it — when it comes to emotions like anger, frustration, and negativity, there will always be a next time.

If a child is disciplined outwardly (the time out) without getting the strategy, then when it happens again he will get another time out (if you’re around) or get away with hitting (if you aren’t). As uncomfortable as it may be, it’s very important to talk to your kids about their emotions.

Try taking a time out with your child. Ask why the event happened and what caused the physical outburst. Really listen to the reply. Most older kids will just tell you that they don’t know because it’s easier but young children will often spill their guts about how they feel. They haven’t learned to keep it bottled up yet.

Brainstorm age appropriate ways that your child can manage his emotions himself. Teach him to learn to monitor his own emotions and give himself a time out when he feels a negative emotion beginning to kick in.

For example, I have a terrible temper. I rarely lose it but when I do, it is uncontrollable rage. I believe that it has gotten the better of me three times in the past 30 years.

I have learned to identify the beginnings of that anger and give myself a time out so that I can calm down. I have learned to tell people that I can’t talk about something at the moment but will discuss it at a later time.

It is amazing how many people get angry or offended when I put off a potentially ugly confrontation long enough for me to think out my response.

Young children can learn to walk away and move to a quiet, soothing activity like reading a book, rocking in a rocking chair, or closing their eyes and pretending that they are doing something they enjoy. Self soothing is an important skill that anyone can learn. It’s especially important for our kids.

They need to know that good behavior does not mean that they are handling things well. Learning to identify and process emotions in a healthy way is a skill that they will use their entire lives.

photo credit: Jeromy_S via photopin cc

Link Round-up: Paid to DIY, Recipes, a Numbers Game, and More

Posted on Jul 17, 2014 by 1 Comment

Today’s round-up shares a way to get paid to DIY around the house, a few delicious recipes, a game, and more.

Amanda’s Cookin’ shared a vintage recipe for a Lazy Daisy Cake.

Army Wife to Suburban Life showed us how to get paid to DIY.

Sand in My Toes showed us how to make a number hunt game.

The Crafty Blog Stalker shared a recipe for cabbage and pineapple slaw burgers.

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Kenarry shared a tutorial for a summer burlap wreath.

DIY Beautify taught us how to make a bird feeder using thrifted plates.

The Casual Craftlete shared a recipe for lemon blueberry chia jam.

Photo credit: Amanda’s Cookin’ and Kenarry

One Little Boy’s Lemonade Stand Makes Big Difference

Posted on Jul 17, 2014 by No Comments

Four years ago, Zack Francom’s school challenged each class to raise $86 for a fundraiser. That $86 was enough to purchase a wheelchair. For his part, Zack sold lemonade and cookies and once the challenge ended, Zack decided to keep his cleverly named Zack’s Shack in business.

Now at age 11 he has been able to provide more than 330 wheelchairs for people in underdeveloped countries like Guatemala where one wheelchair costs more than a year’s salary.

When I read about Zack’s story I was happy to see that somewhere in this country, a child could still have a lemonade stand and learn the lessons that go with it. He lives in Provo, Utah, and runs his lemonade stand one weekend each year and then donates the money to LDS Philanthropies. In turn, with Zack running this charitable lemonade stand, he is teaching lessons to society, too.

As a kid, he could have used the money he made to buy a new gaming platform, a bike, or some other thing to entertain himself. Instead, he is looking at it as a way to help other people. He told a local news station, “I know people in wheelchairs, and it’s sad when they don’t have one.”

Zack has been operating the Zack Shack for four years now. He says, “My goal is to fly around the world someday and hand out the wheelchairs.” In some circles he is nicknamed “the wheelchair wonder boy”. I say that in any circle, this kid offers a good example of not only thinking of others but as someone who actively helps others.

And behind that kid are parents who have not only helped him see the value of living like this, but help provide the ingredients for the lemonade and cookies he sells. Mom and Zack make the cookies and lemonade together and Dad helps set up the stand.

Parents make a difference and raise kids who do, too.

Photo credits: LDSPhilanthropies

Behavior Modification Can Be Overused

Posted on Jul 16, 2014 by 1 Comment

Behavior modification is what most parenting techniques are based on. There are rewards for good behavior and negative consequences for bad behavior.

At some point, at least in theory, children will do the right thing in order to avoid the negative consequences. It’s the same technique used to train dogs, lab rats, and trained seals.

One of the reasons it’s used is because it works — at least most of the time.

However, when it’s used too much behavior modification turns into manipulation and that will eventually cause all sorts of problems. Manipulation happens when you increase the rules from the minimum necessary to your life, my way. It’s when there is no room for choice, mistakes, creative interpretation.

It results in rebellion every time.

For example, there is a point where children must be given the freedom to make bad choices. Maybe your fourteen year old stays up to play video games when he has a big test the next day. It happens more than once. You can ground him from video games or you can let him figure out that falling asleep in class, failing the test, and feeling like crap the next day just aren’t worth the high score on the game.

In some cases he won’t figure it out. He’ll keep making the same stupid mistake. As long as it’s not a life threatening one, it may be best to let him handle it his own way, even if that means he sleeps through every test he takes.

The hardest part of being a parent is stepping back and letting your kids work things out their way.

photo credit: ClickFlashPhotos / Nicki Varkevisser via photopin cc

Link Round-up: Birthday Badge, Puree, Summer Reading, DIY Sunscreen, and More

Posted on Jul 15, 2014 by No Comments

Today’s round-up has a first birthday badge, puree, a summer reading list, non-toxic sunscreen, and more.

It Happens in a Blink shared a tutorial for a first birthday badge.

It’s Always Ruetten shared her summer reading list.

Army Wife to Suburban Life gave us 15 ideas of things to do when you’re alone.

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It Bakes Me Happy shared a recipe for carrot apple mango puree.

Sand in My Toes taught us how to make a parking deck out of a cereal box and other items you have around the house.

A Mom’s Take shared her recipe for a moisturizing non-toxic sunscreen.

Carolyn’s Homework shared a guest post and taught us how to make peanut butter and jelly cookies.

Photo credit: It Happens in a Blink and It Bakes Me Happy

Please Hand Me the Magic Bullet

Posted on Jul 14, 2014 by 1 Comment

I used to think that parenting was a matter of finding the right combination of rewards and consequences that would cause my children to act in a way that didn’t embarrass me in public and gave me something to impress my friends with when we were talking about family things.

It seemed reasonable. After all, I have trained dogs and horses to be well-behaved, surely children could not be that different?

Well, in case you weren’t aware of it, children really are that different. Sure, you can pop an M&M in their mouths when they succeed at peeing in the potty; you can give them a dollar for every A on their report cards; and you use a variety of other reward systems to get the behavior you want. That works, at least most of the time.

Unless you happen to get one of those kids that simply can’t be manipulated with chocolate or money. Then, my friend, you are screwed.

Most, if not all, parenting techniques depend on a system of consequences and rewards. If you read any parenting book it will boil down to two words — consistency and consequences. As long as you are consistent with consequences your kid will get it, eventually. Unless, of course, they don’t.

And if they don’t, you are a failure as a parent.

That is wrong, totally wrong, but you can’t sell parenting books that simply say, there is no magic bullet. Sometimes, no matter what you do, kids will continually make wrong choices. That’s when you continue being consistent but realize that their freedom of choice does not reflect on who you are as a parent.

Feel better?

photo credit: rolands.lakis via photopin cc

Lego Game for Girls Focuses on Friendship

Posted on Jul 11, 2014 by 1 Comment

Lego has come out with a video game for girls six to ten years old. No one shoots anyone else, cuts off their heads, or throws balls of magic fire at them, which is kind of unusual in a cool sort of way.

The game revolves around five friends — Olivia, Mia, Stephanie, Emma, and Andrea. They live in Heartlake City and each gamer will join them there to begin their adventures. The gamer’s character is Olivia’s cousin who is visiting and mentored by Olivia as she demonstrates the various rules of the game.

You and Olivia head to her school where she introduces you to the rest of the characters. At that point you’ll be asked to help with a problem and will go on a “mission”.

You’ll complete a mission with each of the five girls, meeting new people, working on projects, and developing a virtual friendship with them. As the friendship becomes deeper the characters will begin to open up more and tell you more details about themselves, just like in a real friendship.

The player has complete freedom to explore the city and decide how to spend her time. The game also has a scrapbooking area where she can save photos to remember her adventures.

As the game is played, the player collects LEGO studs for money. The money is used to customize clothing, hair, and accessories so that the player can express her unique style within the game. Pets are also collected and there are a couple adventures where you play from the perspective of the pet, allowing children to learn empathy for animals as well as people.

You can learn more about it at the Lego website.

image via Lego

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