Thursday, January 26, 2012

Tell the FDA to label genetically engineered foods!

Sign the petition  to have our foods labeled. Other countries are way ahead of us in doing this. For some reason the US lags behind. Knowing what's in our food is so important.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Chores and thinking about them differently

This is something Sandra Dodd shared in her always learning yahoo group.
In response to a post of a Mom having a hard time with her 11 year old daughter.
I'm sure many Moms could read this and find some wisdom in it because household duties are surely something that could bog us down.
But it can be applied to anything you are having a tough time with.



One thing that you can do is change your attitude about housework. Seriously, it is very very possible. I know this because "I" did it. Looking back, seems like an easy switch in thinking; before I did it, seemed completely ridiculous.

It isn't an insignificant change though, because it is part of your everyday lives. So that's MY recommendation to you - that you focus on changing your thinking about housework. It won't take that long if you put some serious energy and commitment into it. Maybe a month for it to really be different.

Here is the big "secret." You think about the REAL reasons you are doing whatever you're doing. Not the negative reasons, the REAL reasons. Do it like you're reciting a prayer or an affirmation or even a mantra to yourself - "I am washing these dishes because because it is so nice to come into the kitchen to make food and find all the dishes clean and ready to use." "I am cleaning the cat litter box because it is so nice to see it all fresh and clean and smelling good and ready for the cat to enjoy." "I am doing this laundry because I just love opening the closet and having all these clothing choices to pick from."
"I'm making this food because I love to nurture and care for my family."

Also, pay really close attention to the nice feelings of doing housework - enjoy your pretty dishes, nice dishtowels, the smell of dish soap, the feeling of the warm water.

It takes self-discipline to do this stuff, at first. You can hang onto the resentment that you're "stuck" doing housework, or you can choose to be grateful that you have the chance to do it for your family.

I didn't get this figured out until my kids were pretty old - older teens. Until then, housework was the one aspect of our lives that wasn't happy. I managed to completely change the way all of us look at housework. Even just today I was doing dishes and thinking how pretty my green bowls are, and I made soup for two of my kids and two of their friends. When I brought it out, I said, happily, "Don't you love these bowls?" It was a carry over from what I'd been thinking while doing the dishes. One of my kids said, "Such little things make my mom so happy." It was said kind of jokingly, but also proudly. And after we ate, they brought the bowls into the kitchen and rinsed them off carefully and, yes, lovingly.

[Pam Sorooshian]

Friday, January 13, 2012

Steps to unschooling


There is no set blueprint or rule book to follow to make the transition to unschooling really. It'd be fantastic if there was a checklist, but it's just not that easy and it doesn't work that way. Having made the transition myself, I have found some "steps" that may lend themselves well to the transition process for someone else who would like to pursue unschooling. I have been led to radical unschooling which is not exclusive to the homeschooling portion of the day but every faucet of the family. 

Unschooling is not child led learning (this is an interesting article). I've often seen it described as child led, but sometimes maybe that gives the impression that the parents are hands off and the child takes the lead. How it's working for us is that it's more a team verses my sitting back and being passive. A former misconception I had about unschooling is that parents are hands off, which is completely opposite of the reality. Unschooling requires parent involvement, more than anything else we've used for homeschooling in the past. 

Step 1   
Read Connection Parenting by Pam Leo.
Read Unconditional Parenting by Alphie Kohn.
Read Parent Effectiveness Training by Dr. Gordon. If you don't read any other parenting book, read this one. You don't need any other parenting book but this one. : ). But I enjoyed the others very much as well.

Reading these books will really make it so much easier to understand a lot of what unschooling is all about. The true first step really starts with your parenting.
I read all the unschooling books first but it didn't really click for me until I read the parenting philosophy which really is the glue that makes up the fabric of unschooling.
While you are doing this reading, let your kids have essentially a type of "summer vacation" from your schooling.
While they are enjoying this vacation, be with your kids as much as possible, doing things with them. Really take the time and make it a priority to be in the trenches having fun with them. It's different from any other homeschooling style. It takes more time to really be present and be with the kids verses handing them  a school schedule, a workbox, or a math page to work through. Do things with them you enjoy. Introduce them to your hobbies and interests or things you liked as a child. Have your husband do the same. Ask them what they'd like to do, read about, watch, talk about, etc. Think of things you wish your parents had done with or for you and do them with or for your kids.
Lay on your bed watching TV and chatting, play board games, cook meals, take nature walks without making it a nature "lesson", play video games together, just be together. Rough house play with them as much as they like. I like to play the sea witch and try to get the kids with my tentacles. And dance party. I spin them, dip them, boogie on down with them.  Bry likes to play a game called Baby Machine Gun. This is where he uses the youngest as a machine gun and chases the other kids with her while she giggles like crazy and he makes machine gun sounds, and the other kids all giggle like mad while he runs after them. And then there is mud monster where he is on the ground trying to pull the kids into his muddy home. And of course the great classic hide and seek.
Here are some great games to play with kids in case ideas are needed. We found some great ones on here that we never knew about before.

Respect is really an essential step. Talk to your child like a valued friend. Look them in the eyes. Touch them kindly and with love. Don't yell. Don't punish. Don't threaten or take their treasured items away. Don't be a bossy Betsy or a Miss Grumpy pants (as my children call it when I'm grumpy).  And if you do those things, apologize and mean it. Admitting when we are wrong means a lot. Don't pretend to be perfect and above mistakes. We are merely human and mistakes are just a part of our lives. How we handle them is what matters. 
Step away from the computer screen when they ask for your time and even when they don't. Turn the water off at the sink and do the dishes later. Try to avoid saying "in a minute" or "just a second". Don't put off now the joy they are waiting to have with you. Put off the computer and the dishes instead. When you are an old woman or old man laying in your bed, you will never say, I wish I talked more online, or spent more time cleaning my house, or that I worked more, you will say I wish I'd spent more time with my family. Live like that now, so you won't have any regrets.

Say "yes" more. Here is a quote from Joyce Fetteroll at Joyfully Rejoycing (a great unschooling site): Don't drop all your parenting rules at once. Just say "Yes!" more.
One of the biggest mistakes made is after reading how conventional rule-based parenting feels and looks to kids and then declare: there are no more rules: eat whatever you want, stay up as late as you want ... The result is kids feel tossed into the middle of a storm tossed ocean without support and chaos ensues. While it works great to declare vacation from school and just plunge into unschooling, it works better to ease into applying the unschooling principles to parenting.
Here are some links on Sandra Dodd's page about saying yes:
http://sandradodd.com/yes.html
http://sandradodd.com/joyce/yes

Step 2:  
Read some books on unschooling. My personal favorites are:
Parenting a Free Child by Rue Kream 
Unschooling A Lifestyle of Learning by Sara McGrath
The Unschooling Handbook by Mary Griffith
And if you are coming from a Traditional school mindset the first on the unschooling reading list I'd say to go for would be 101 Reasons I'm an Unschooler by PS Pirro.

I took notes, wrote in margins and highlighted things that answered questions I had, or that I felt really drawn to implementing here. The easiest changes to make are the ones that feel natural and comfortable. I'm not trying to follow a specific model that worked well for a seasoned unschooler before me. I'm just trying to flesh out what feels right for my family. But reading how others do it and their motivation is a huge help in getting your own vision going. Reading typical, or not so typical days of others is always fun. But will not look the same for anyone else, so don't use them as a model, just an inspiration.
Here is a great read for anyone who has a family who enjoys spending time at home. You don't have to be on the go to enjoy unschooling. Some of the typical days look quite busy going from place to place but don't let that be a deterrent. 

Step 3:
Read the wealth of great info on Joyce Fetteroll's site and Sandra Dodd's site (Sandra also has a book called The Big Book of Unschooling).
If it's your cup of tea, join to read on some online yahoo unschooling groups. If you think of a question you have not seen answered in books or blogs, chances are someone has asked it before you in an online group so the archives are great. 
Don't get overwhelmed by advice that you've read given to others. It's all about baby steps. If you change to much to fast you will get discouraged and overwhelmed. Don't try to make your house look like another unschooling family. It's always going to look individual to your family.  

Step 4: 
Deschool yourself and your kids for as long as you need it. This really starts, when you understand the parenting aspect of unschooling as well as what unschooling is not.
If you are looking at the things the kids are doing through schoolish glasses then take longer to deschool. Be willing to let it take as long as it needs to take for you.
Don't judge how your kids spend their deschooling time. Maybe it's with TV, maybe video games, and you don't feel right about that. Don't let your issues be theirs. The scare tactics about limiting video games and TV are just that. If you've limited them they might gorge a bit for awhile. But relax. Let them enjoy it. Play the games with them, watch the shows with them, be in the room with them enjoying the time together. Being with them is really important.

Step 5: 
If you belong to traditional homeschool groups online, forums, yahoo groups, etc. and there are no other unschoolers, you might not wish to continue there any longer. I've felt that in some groups where I'd been for a long time. It was time to move on because there was a lack of common ground and some aggressive attitudes because I had opted to go another way then many there. Beyond that, there is simply far less time to chat with other homeschooling parents online since we've made this shift. Much more time is spent with the kids verses talking about what to use for this or that for schooling the kids. 

Step 6: 
Stop making your kids do chores. Why you might ask? Because forcing kids to do chores is not kind, respectful or loving. How would you feel your husband forced you to do something he placed a paramount priority on and gave you no option or opinion on your participation in the matter?

I use the word "force" because even when parents say "I ask for them to help", if they can't decline and say no, then you are forcing them either in a passive aggressive way or with straight out threats/punishments or rewards for doing said chores.

It's possible that you can sit with your kids and list out the very important things that simply have to be done in your home. This is not your "in a perfect world" dream chore list, but what you need for your home to be okay. Possibly your children may be willing and happy to take on some of those jobs or maybe they won't, or maybe in time they will.

What you can do instead of assigning chores is invite them to help you tidy up. Enjoy it. Make it fun and they may want to help out, most of the time they do. But if they don't want to help in that moment at that time, don't lose your cool. Use Motivated Moms or Flylady for you, not for them. Get yourself some routines to make your house run for you to stay on top of things. Keep the chores down to what you feel is a must for yourself, but be realistic, you should be spending time having fun with your family. Possibly have a day that you and your husband tackle your household duties together. That would be what, an hour a week to accomplish it all? Just do a few things daily, to keep the house tidy until that weekly cleaning hour. But don't force chores on the kids. And do your household tasks with a cheerful heart. Think of how you bless your family by keeping a clean house. I prefer to have a cleaning day when my husband is at work. Thursday or Friday are the days I do my "big" cleaning. Bry works out of the home so I feel it's the least I can do for him, having him come home and not have to help me clean the house. 
Here is a link on Sandra Dodd's site about chores. Joyce's response is really a great read.
Here is some good reading for the Dads, since often times it's the Moms who are reading and discovering the homeschooling path.

Here are great audios that I hope anyone will take a listen to by Sandra Dodd.
Enjoy the ride and the journey with your children. It feels wonderful when all the pieces of the puzzle start to come together. You can feel the change in you. Feel it in your home, see it in your children.  It's just such a peaceful feeling. The loud happiness, the cuddles and special times.

Remember don't change everything at once. One thing at a time.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

How folks parent

***Disclaimer***
I'm feeling a bit frisky this evening and some of my opinions may rub someone else the wrong way.  If you don't believe in respectful parenting, you will probably fall into the "rubbed the wrong way category". I know we all do what we think is best with the information we have at the time. But part of being a loving parent is striving to learn and grow to be the best we can possibly be. If you use time outs and spankings there are better ways. Peaceful ways that offer much richer rewards.
*************************************************************

When I first read some of Sandra Dodd's writings about mindful parenting and parenting peacefully I had doubts about how it could work in practice. It seemed permissive to have those beliefs about children.  I've received some emails from my blogging of late, especially when I posted about the Unconditional Parenting book, of parents who inferred the same thing. I've put it in practice and it's anything but permissive. It's really loving a child, respecting them as a person. It's not forcing them to bend to my will because of the tapes I have playing in my head from how my parents were with me. I hope I get to see Sandra speak someday as I would love to tell her in person how much I appreciate how strongly she advocates for unschooling and parenting with respect.
How could I punish, threaten, control my children and try to label that as love?
How could I expect respect if I treated them in a way that was anything but respectful?  How can any parent expect respect if they don't give it?

What I'm seeing in the way some others parent shows me that my mind has truly evolved in how I want to interact with my kids. I always viewed motherhood as a gift. I've felt lucky and blessed to be able to be home with them, to homeschool them, to enjoy these special moments. I'm not overwhelmed or frazzled. I'm not wishing I could send them off to school so I could have time to myself. I just feel so lucky, so happy to have this role. Despite all that,  I don't think I used to parent in a way that made me feel as at peace as I do now.

Observations and other chatter:
Last night I was watching an episode of Parenthood that I had on the DVR. This one was where the family was going on a road trip. Christina is yelling from the front room for her son Max to turn down the game. She doesn't get up, go to talk to him in person, but keeps yelling through the walls. You can see she's starting to get annoyed. Not just with the noise of her son playing the game (which was loud), but because of the conversation she's having with her husband during this time. She finally gets up, goes in and shuts off his Xbox 360 game. He tells her how long he worked to get to that point in the game, and how she caused him to lose where he was up to that point.
I'll stop right there because I'm betting many parents would say, she was right on. I would have agreed with her before. It's something that many parents would not think twice about doing. But what I saw was one person going in and disrespecting another person. To turn off a game like that, that was important to another person (her child), that he had dedicated so much time on. What reaction could the child have had but anger and outrage? If a child came in and did that same action to a parent who was typing something on the computer, how would a parent feel? Pretty angry, probably start yelling. Of course this is a fictional show. But for some reason that stuck out at me because a similar scene is something that gets played in thousands of homes across the country. And similar scenes are acted out on shows all the time.

Bry had a call the other day about a runaway (he goes on a lot of calls about children). He could not believe the horrible attitude that these parents had toward their child. The disrespectful way they spoke to their child and about him made my husband's skin crawl. His former response would have been, the child needs discipline. Now what he sees is parents who are authoritative and controlling or permissive (as in they don't care at all) are the issue and need fixing. They are the problem. But our society always wants to focus on fixing the kids. Fixing the parents fixes the kids : ).

In homeschool forums over the years I've read a lot of "how do I" queations being asked.
Things like:
How do I get my child to instantly obey?
.........................................to keep their room clean?
.........................................to be honest and truthful with me?
.........................................to stop hitting?
.........................................to go to bed at bedtime?
.........................................to do their chores?

Here are answers I'd give if someone asked me directly those questions:
How do I get my child to instantly obey?  
I would not expect any of my children to instantly (blindly) obey me. Unless I'm yelling something like "HOT HOT HOT" before a little one would touch a hot stove or "DANGER DANGER DANGER" or I've fallen and I'm yelling "Help Help Help". I'd like them to make a choice, a decision and to ask questions. I don't want them to be blind sheep who will follow because I am bigger or can yell louder or could put my hands on them. I'm sure some folks would say, but what about instantly obeying God?
Teaching a child to listen to the voice of God does not come from a parent being the boss of their every move and thought. I teach my children to pray to God, to reflect and ask God for direction. But God is not yelling at them "do this, do that and do it right now". We take our time and listen for God's direction. There is really nothing instant about God's time. We need to take our time to stop, listen and reflect.
God expects me to treat the children he has blessed into my care with love, respect and compassion. Much like Jesus showed to those he walked with while on earth.
Using the bible to control a child, is not showing God's love. No where in the bible does it say that traditional parenting methods are what God intended for us to use with the children he entrusted to us. To train up a child can be done through love, respect and kindness.

How do I get my child to keep their room clean?  
................to do their chores?
I have not told my children to clean their rooms in a bit now. They keep them clean though. They like a clean room because they like to find their things.
They see I clean my room and put away laundry and change sheets. They follow suit.
I will tidy up their rooms when I pass by because I don't mind doing it. It takes all of 5 minutes to do so.
My son cleans up his toys in his room so he has more room to play on the floor with other toys. My younger daughter who is 2 has never been asked to do a chore. She loves to clean any one's things, unload the dishwasher, clean the glass, change sheets, fold towels and napkins, etc. Today I was cleaning up some blocks my older girls were using on the floor in the family room. We had left them mid-play a bit earlier to go do some packing in their upstairs playroom. The kids were all sitting at the kitchen table eating pizza. The two little ones got up from eating to come and help me clean up. I didn't ask anyone for help. I didn't expect anyone to help. It was a quick clean up to do on my own without issue. But they were happy to help out and did it with big smiles.
One evening I came down to Skylar and Summer having cleaned the entire kitchen, just because they wanted to do it for me. The other day Summer did the litter box, because she was in the bathroom anyway and figured she'd help out by doing it.
The moral of the story, kids will help, maybe not always, maybe not all of them at once but they will help. And when I ask they help. Asking is different from ordering, demanding or requiring. Some tasks are more fun with help. Sometimes it goes faster with many hands. But again asking and being okay with a "no" is different then a demand. My view of chores has changed. I clean up happily. When you are happy and the kids see it and hear it. They want to be a part of it. Joy is contagious. And misery loves company.
I'd rather my kids catch my joy than share in misery.
My kids no longer have assigned chores. I wanted children. With children come messes. I'd much rather they make a mess and have fun doing it than be bogged down with a laundry list of must do's before they can play. Childhood is for play!
My suggestion would be use Motivated Moms or Flylady. Decide what you must do to be content with your surroundings. Don't make your issues your kid's issues about a clean house. They are a parents issue to own. Keep it to bare bones of what you need to feel your house is clean. Not model home clean. But family lived in. : )
Or hire help if you cannot live with a lived in look. Paying someone else to clean for you to prevent treating a child poorly is a worthwhile expense.
I read a comment by Sandra Dodd about parents having to (which I'm not quoting verbatim). You don't have to, you could give your child up.  You didn't have to have children. That might sound very harsh and unrealistic. But it's true right? You make a choice to be a parent. So why not make a choice what kind of parent you want to be? What kind of parent you'd like to have yourself?


How do I get my child to be honest and truthful with me?
Don't punish them. If you punish them when they tell the truth why would they trust you with truth again when you hurt them for being  honest? Don't punish.... period. You want your kids to come to you with anything right?
Me too. I tell them that often and I show them just as often by being non judgemental with anything they tell me.
When you tell your husband the truth (say like you hit the curb and messed up his tire.) Um, yes maybe I have done that very thing. : ) Would him yelling at you for being honest, help anything in the situation?

How do I get my child to stop hitting? 
I think this one is simple too. Don't hit them. Ever! If you hit you show them to hit. Yes it's true. No matter what you call it, spanking, is hitting. Whipping is hitting too. Using a belt is hitting. If I walked up and spanked you, whipped you or used a belt on you, how would you feel?
If you don't hit, but they hit each other, which happens of course. When they are old enough for you to explain (and my 2 year old gets this so I think young ones get it when you give them the respect of explaining it to them) hitting hurts so and so, and makes so and so feel (bad, sad, pain, etc.). Teach them empathy, for people and animals. Animals get left out. Don't overlook how important empathy for animals is.

How do I get my child to go to bed at bedtime?
This is so dependent upon age. Little ones need more parent help with this of course. Attachment parenting, paying attention to their cues is your best guide.
With my 2 year old, she naps when she gets sleepy during the day. She gets her pillow from our bed and finds a quiet spot on a sofa in the house for a nap under a toasty blanket. None of the other kids nap at this time.
When I go to bed at night my 2 year old goes with me. She sleeps either in our bed or in her own bed which is in our room. She chooses which. When I get in bed for the night I write in my prayer journal and read Jesus Calling and then usually play a game on my IPhone if I can't sleep yet. If she can't sleep she watches me do all this and we will chat quietly. And sometimes she might look at books.
Decklin is 5. He also has a bed in our room. We have a nighttime routine of baths, a story on my bed, family prayers and then bedtime. If I'm not tired yet the older girls will lay in my bed playing a video game on their DS, Kindle Fire or read a book while the little kids fall asleep. In our next house we are going to be putting a TV back in our bedroom so that we can snuggle and watch a show together while everyone drifts off to sleep.
If Ember took a late nap and can't sleep she will come downstairs and hang out with me, maybe have a snack.
The older girls go into their bed between 10:30 and Midnight. Usually they will read, talk and play their DS games or their Kindles. Summer usually falls asleep earlier than Skylar. If Skylar can't sleep she comes down and has a snack and will watch TV with Bry after he comes home from work. They have nice chat times together when she can't sleep. Other times she will fall asleep. If they wake during the night they usually get a blanket and cuddle watching TV in the loft on the sofa. As long as they do not wake the rest of the house it's fine. They have options.

I've received some emails with some of the following comments about children:
"Children are ignorant"
"Children do not deserve privacy"
"Children do not get respect they give it"
"Children must be seen and not heard"
"Children cannot make decisions"

How would you feel if your child said that about you? If your parents said that about you as a child? And if they did say it, how did it make you feel?

If you are not treating a child they way you would like to be treated as an adult....with respect, kindness, unconditional love, then to quote the movie Mr. Mom...
"Jack......You're doing it wrong."

Here is a great audio file of Sandra Dodd speaking on parenting peacefully. For anyone heading that way, it will really be a huge help on the journey.
http://www.archive.org/details/PeacefulParentingTalkdoddprystowsky

Free webinar for parents

Come to the webinar with Teresa Graham Brett:

Eliminate the hidden toxins
poisoning your relationships with children...

...by learning the three keys to detoxing
those relationships.

January 11, 2012, 3:30 p.m. Mountain Standard Time




Friday, January 6, 2012

What we have been up to learning wise

We had a great time with my parents while they were visiting. We did some fun things, like Star Wars battles on the Wii and dancing through some fun Just Dance games. Going out to eat and ordering in. My Mom did puzzles and baked with the girls. Skylar took a walk with my Dad (The other kids were sick) and while they were out they looked at model homes. My Dad played Barbie's with the kids. He is very sought after for Barbie play because he makes all the silly voices when he's being one of the dolls. He played The Emperor from Star Wars as he chased them around upstairs and they shot him with nerf darts. The kids and Bry and I all got nerf darts and guns to play with. Oh what fun those will be for chasing games. We had a lot of fun times with them here and it's always to short a visit.

As far as what else we have been up to.

  • Both the girls received Kindle Fire's for Christmas. I preloaded them with tons of fun games and a personal web page of things for them to access. Right now both of them are loving Tap Zoo. I have it on my Iphone too. But I'm just starting my Zoo. They are much farther with theirs. This is basically a game that allows you to create your own zoo, earn money, manage the money, decide how to spend your money. (If I was ticking a box I'd tick math and science). 
  • Using her fire, Summer has been enjoying Starfall which I linked on their webpage and doing some coloring pages as well as some Veggie tales games. She loves Tap zoo too.  Both the girls snuggle under a blanket on the sofa or sprawl out on my bed at night to play a bit of their zoo game together. 
  • They each have been watching some Netflix on their fires. Usually at night when they can't sleep after they have read a bit they will ask if they can watch something on the fire. 
  • Decklin received a Nintendo DS of his own for Christmas. He's been enjoying playing Lego Star wars, Toy Story 3, Cars and a few others. This is usually played on car rides or at night before bed to wind down. He doesn't seem to grab for it much during the day. 
  • For his birthday we gave Decklin an Innotab which is loaded with some fun games. And then we got him Cars to go along with it. That one is so fun. I've sat and played it with him. I stink at racing games on the Wii and this one was actually one I could do without to much trouble. You use the whole tablet as a steering wheel. The preloaded pinball game is great fun also. Ember also received one. They like to play them in the car when we go out and about. The drawing pad on it is what Ember loves. These are a great alternative to handing the kids an Ipad because of the cost. 
  • Just a few days ago we got Indiana Jones for the Wii. Oh gosh talk about a fun game! We are all loving that one. I play it with Decklin everyday for a bit. All of the kids take turns playing along with him. Bry played with him last night and it was such a riot. Skylar is great with solving puzzles in the game, and Summer can make the characters achieve impossible moves, and I love collecting all the coins and smashing all the legos to do so. So together we all make a fantastic team. Someone had emailed me asking about if I had concern about video games. They are great games that we all take part in and play together. No one is sitting all alone playing. These are just a great social fun time for us. And of course the learning is all around us while we play and chit chat. 
  • Skylar has been reading a ton as always. Lately she's working through some of the Dear America books, a book on Martin Luther King Jr., and one of the books in the Narnia series. 
  • We have been packing for our move which begins on January 13th, which we are super excited about. We plan to have our whole front room set up for the kids and overall family fun and enjoyment. The girls were excited to pack up their room. It was really impressive to see how quickly they packed up all their stuff. They are helping me with the rest of the house packing also. Summer enjoys the packing. 
  • Ember has been playing a ton with play dough using a new kit my Mom and Dad gave her. She uses cookie cutters and tools to shape, cut and design. She also is really liking playing with the little animals from Uno Moo. And we have been playing with her Elephant and Piggy dolls and reading the new collection of books that we added to our shelf about them. She is even more into the Fresh Beat Band. We actually found them on Netflix too so she is super happy to have so many episodes at her disposal. I do the dances (well I try to : ) and sing the songs to her through out the day. We have some fun. 
  • I've been playing a fun game on the Iphone called Tower Town. It's free. And you can only play a bit at a time as you run out of money or energy. So it's nice for just little times through out the day to check into it. I wish it was available for the Fires. I've also been doing the bible reading plan from my Church which started with the New Year. And been re-reading my highlighted notes in Unconditional Parenting and Connection Parenting. Next on my list is Playful Parenting. 

Yay a family car again!

We got a 2011 Dodge Grand Caravan Crew. Bry had been anti mini van but this converted him. It's so nice to fit the whole family again and be able to go out together. We had been down to one car since August which didn't fit all of us. So for church I had to hitch a ride with my brother and Bry would take all the kids. While my parents were here, I rode with my brother and parents and Bry and the kids in Bry's car.
Bry really wanted another SUV but I was not amped to go with that because of cost and gas prices. He and my Dad spent a day looking and after a not great experience came home empty handed. The next day they went golfing and I researched a bit on the local Car Max and Edmunds sites to find something that would fit our budget and fit our family and safety needs.  I wanted something a bit easier to get the kids in and out of so I was not anti van by any means. Online I located Kia and VW mini vans to go see in person. And yet we fell in love with the dodge when we saw her : ). Bry loved all the bells and whistles. Like the sliding doors that open and close on their own and the hatch in the rear that does the same.
Car max was fantastic to deal with and I could not imagine buying a car from another dealer after having such a great non adversarial experience.

We turned Ember back around rear facing. She would not fit that way in Bry's car.
She's two, but I feel so much better with her rear facing again! Here is a nice site I like about car seat info. And of course carseatsafety.org is a great site. Ember is in a Sunshine radian 65. Decklin is also in a Radian 65 forward facing. I am a huge fan of these seats. You can even fit three across a bench seat nicely.
Summer (8) and Skylar (10) are now in the Monterey booster seat of their favorite color choices. These seats are sharp. They were a new addition. It was a toss up between these and the Recaro Vivo. I found some great pictures of kids sitting in both to show to Skylar (on the car seat safety site) and she picked what she felt looked most comfortable for the children in the pictures and went by the looks of the seat bottom. We wanted something that didn't have their legs hitting the seat in front of them because of the slope of our van seat. I think she made a fantastic choice! Wish I could sit in one. I'd choose purple : ).

Happy Birthday Decklin!

Decklin turned 5 shortly after Christmas.
Poor little guy was down with a pretty bad cold for the week so his birthday was one of the days where he was in recovery mode. We did have a special lunch for him the Monday before his birthday. But it ended up being a comical disaster. The restaurant was out of fish for the fish tacos (which almost all of us wanted), there was no toilet paper or paper towels in the ladies room (even after we mentioned it it was not rectified), they had no kids cups and brought huge tall glasses which were a spill disaster waiting to happen. We could not wait to get out of there after our meal, didn't even stick it out for dessert. Bry and I had eaten there just the two of us a few weeks back and the food was really good. But with our second experience we won't be going back. That night is when Decklin actually got sick, had a fever and was down for the count.
On his birthday he was feeling much better and My Mom, the girls and I took him to a do over birthday dinner. None of the boys could be with us because they were working and my Dad did a police ride along with my brother. But we had a nice dinner and Decklin really enjoyed it. We had gotten a new car a day or so before his birthday so this our maiden voyage with all the kids in the new car.

Merry Christmas!

The past few weeks have been crazy busy here. My parents were in town visiting for the holidays. We were also car hunting while they were here. And Decklin had a birthday as well. And the kids and I have been down with a cold since before they arrived. Ember and I are the last in the bunch to be on the mend.
Keeping the focus on Jesus for us at Christmas was not a hard thing to do. We talk to him and about him all the time. My son did tell one of the members of the church band that he wanted to bake Jesus a cake for his birthday and toss it up to heaven for him to eat it in the sky. : ) We did enjoy a wonderful Christmas Eve service at our church, which my parents were able to attend with us. Our Pastor talked about Goldfish. His daughter and son each had goldfish as pets. He began to wonder why his daughter's goldfish bowl was always cloudy and dirty. What he discovered was that she would pet her fish, to show it love. He went on to talk to us from the perspective of the fish and his diary entry of this massive force reaching in his bowl and terrifying him on a daily basis. It was a riot. What his message was, and what we all received well was that God in the old testament (seems scary to many) but that God showed his love always then, and always again in the form of Jesus. When Jesus came to earth to walk among us, he was relating to us on our own level. Much like if a human turned to a fish and got in the fish bowl verses sticking their hand in the bowl to pet it. : )
After service our family went out to dinner. We usually cook at home but this was a welcome treat to not have to cook and to just be able to sit back and enjoy the evening. It seemed many folks had a similar idea as the restaurant was filled with smiling jovial  faces.

We had added a pet to our family for Skylar on the 23rd. This added a bit more chaos to the holiday season. It was a ferret she wanted very much. Bry and I had ferrets before and had told her of the time commitment and watchful eye you need to have when they are out of their cages (at least 4 hours of the day with supervised play). She felt well prepared to do so. But the evening after Christmas we talked about it and she realized that it was not something she felt she could keep up with. She felt guilt because she was feeling that there were many other things she'd rather be doing. We were able to return the ferret and the cage the next day for a full refund. She felt bad about not keeping him but she realized all on her own that it was not something she was ready to handle. It went down much better this way than if we had said "no" and not let her try. She really appreciated us trusting in her to make decisions and choices.