Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Teaching Obedience

We've had some trouble lately getting N to obey. When asked to do something he often returns our request with a harsh "No!" Needless to say, it's very frustrating. One morning it was particularly annoying, but I knew getting mad wouldn't solve anything. So, in a fit of desperation and with some help from above I'm sure, I came up with a plan. I quickly drew a little chart that says I CAN OBEY, and on it are 15 circles that say "I can quickly obey". The rules are 1. N gets a sticker every time he quickly obeys without complaining 2. N gets a prize each time he gets 5 circles covered with stickers 3. If he is disobedient he gets a sticker taken away.
Today is the third day of our little experiment, and it's worked pretty well. Today has shown the biggest improvement. He has been a lot more willing to do things that used to be like pulling teeth. He gets so excited when he gets another sticker and even more excited when he gets a prize. The prizes have been very simple, but you could call a rock a prize and he'd love it.
Here he is proudly holding his chart

To help him understand better the principle of obedience, that was our topic for our FHE lesson this week. I just used Lesson 14 in "Behold Your Little Ones," the church's new nursery lesson manual (so much better than the old one). We followed almost all their suggestions, except for an activity I had Joel give an example of disobedience and obedience. First, I asked him to do something and his reply was "No!", and each time I asked he got more whiny about it and threw a little fit. Then I asked N if Dad was obedient, and we decided he wasn't. Then I gave Joel another chance and asked him to do something. This time he said, "Yes Mommy. I will quickly obey." N liked the activity so much that he wanted a turn to see if he could be obedient.
I also talked to him briefly about how sometimes it's hard to obey, but it will always make us happy. That right there has been a big help with his obedience chart. I make sure and reinforce the feelings he gets when he obeys vs. when he disobeys. When he disobeys he is sad, but when he obeys he is happy.
The lesson went very well. He really enjoyed all the activities. The rest of the month I will try to similar topics that have to do with obeying (like helping and doing chores).
How have you taught this principle to your kids? Any suggestions?

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Time Ideas

Here are a couple things to do at Christmas time with your kids. Sorry I didn't post this earlier. I guess if you like the ideas you can do them next year. Or, if you already thought of these ideas, which you probably did being the wonderful mothers you are, then just say, "Duh, Marianne. We already thought of that like forever ago."

Teaching the Nativity Story

There are two primary songs that make life so simple for parents. They are "Picture A Christmas" and "The Nativity Song." You can use actual nativity pieces for visual aids or you can draw pictures of each nativity piece.

Family Activity

This was fun. For family night last week, after going to see the lights downtown, we came home and had hot chocolate to warm our frozen bodies. The, we all got ready for bed- Mom and Dad included- snuggled up on the couch with warm blankets and watched a movie. The movie we watched was "The Muppet Christmas Carol." I made popcorn, which is a rare treat for N. After the movie was over we made up beds on the floor, read some Christmas stories, and went to bed on the living room floor by the lit Christmas tree. N went straight to sleep because he was exhausted from staying up much later than usual. It was very fun, and N has since requested to sleep in the living room again. I've told him we only do that once because if we do it all the time it isn't as fun anymore. If you decided to do it I would recommend maybe turning off the Christmas tree. While it was fun to have it on, it made it hard for Mom and Dad to sleep because it was so bright.

What fun things did you do with your families this year?

Merry Christmas everyone!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Human Timer

I've created a monster. A while back I started using a strategy to get N to do things without throwing a major fit. I learned his fits were caused because his world was turned completely upside-down if he was suddenly told to do something different then he was planning in his little head. So, I started giving him ample warning- "In 'blank' minutes we'll have to go home." He showed almost immediate improvement when I started this technique and has since improved by leaps and bounds, although I still have an occasional small fit.

The trouble is this: N has turned into a negotiator. He's started using my tricks on me! Little rascal! Now, almost everything I ask/tell him to do is answered with, "I'm going to [color] for 2 minutes first." Grrr. Kids catch on too quickly. This leads to why I am now the human timer. Sometimes simply saying "okay, 2 minutes are over " doesn't go over too well, so I've found that if I beep like a timer he's more willing to end his task and move on to mine. So, I'm a human timer. I'd rather have this than the fits any day of the week, but sometimes it is annoying. I just want to yell, "No! Not in 2 minutes- NOW!" (and you know I do sometimes- what normal mom wouldn't?) But, what can ya do? In the long run, if I have to choose between a ten minute tantrum with tears and screaming or a willing QUIET boy in two minutes, I'll choose the two minutes.

So...who's in charge here?

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Spirit of Giving

I killed two birds with one stone today. I was able to teach N the spirit of giving and was also able to get rid of some toys before Christmas so that we're not totally overrun with toys Christmas morning.

I told N there are little boys and girls who don't have any toys, so I asked him if he'd like to help and give away some of his toys to kids who don't have any. I was very much pleased when he said yes. Although he did offer a few random toys that were really just junk (I made sure and told him we didn't want to give things like that), I was very surprised and happy at most of his choices. He wanted to give a big fire truck, two of his dinosaurs (which are prize possessions to him), some cars, and two books. We also gave a toy of Clara's she doesn't play with. I was so proud of him. He freely gave those toys because he knew they would make someone else happy. It was a very proud moment for Mom. I'm grateful I was able to teach him the spirit of giving.

How have you taught your kids that lesson?

A Glittery Christmas Tree

This is what N and I did today for a craft/activity. It was easy, quick, and fun. Here's how we did it:
  1. construction paper: green for tree, brown for stump, colors of your own choice for ornaments, and blue for the background
  2. glitter
  3. Elmer's glue
  4. scissors


  1. I drew a big triangle on the green paper and had N cut it out. This teaches them how to use their fine motor skills. N used to really struggle at cutting specific shapes, but he's improving.
  2. Do the same for the stump
  3. Glue the stump and tree on the blue paper.
  4. Cut out or tear small shapes for the ornaments. (We would have had more on ours but N didn't want to do anymore)
  5. Draw a zig-zag down the tree with the Elmer's glue, then immediately sprinkle your glitter over the glue making sure the glue is well covered.
  6. Let dry completely - put it some place where it won't be bothered
  7. When dry, pour excess glitter off of picture. You're done! Now your tree has pretty glittery tinsel.

*Tip: It might be easier to just use glitter glue instead of loose glitter and Elmer's glue

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Pure Imagination

N isn't doing preschool. My reason for not enrolling him is because I didn't want him over scheduled. I have him in Kindermusik, which is once a week for an hour, and he also does speech once a week for a half an hour. I felt like adding one more thing would be too much for a 4 year old.

Although I generally feel fine with my decision to not put him in preschool, I occasionally feel a little guilty. This feeling only comes when I hear of other moms who took their kids to preschool and whose kids loved it. I wonder if I cheated N on a great opportunity for him to learn and grow. I know I shouldn't compare myself, but it's so hard not to!

I had a wonderful talk with N's Kindermusik teacher, Ms. Susan, and she helped me see that I don't need to feel guilty. I value her opinion greatly because not only is she a wonderful Kindermusik teacher, but she also has a degree in child development, raised great kids of her own, and is constantly studying about children and their development- especially how the brain develops. She talked to me about how at N's age his imagination is going wild (boy is it ever!) and the best thing I can do is foster that even more. She gave me some suggestions on what I can do at home to help develop his little brain. I was happy that I already do some of them. Here they are:
  • Give him a pen/paints and a blank piece of paper- no lines that would inhibit his creativity
  • Give him play dough with no play dough accessories and let him sculpt to his heart's content (this is one of his very favorite things to do)
  • Let him go outside and explore the world
  • When reading, don't just read the story. Talk about what's going on, ask "what would happen if...", or make up a surprise new ending to see how he reacts
  • Make up stories
  • Talk about things and ask him questions, questions like: what's the weather doing today?

All these things encourage your child's brain to explore different possibilities, to branch out and make new discoveries.

Yesterday I put her advice to action. N was drawing and I sat down with him and drew my own picture. I drew a picture of a Christmas tree and started drawing presents of various sizes and shapes under the tree. He was, of course, very interested in my picture. I asked him what he thought was in the presents. It was so fun to watch him think. I could see the wheels turning as he thought of what treasure could be hidden inside the boxes. I can see that opportunities to do things like this with N are everywhere. I just have to pay attention to them.

N's imagination really is going wild right now. Sometimes it's not good because he imagines scary things and gets very worried if he doesn't know where I am (this I don't understand- we live in a very small house. I can't go far). But for the most part, I'm very glad he has such a vivid imagination because I know his brain is developing in wonderful ways. I love watching his imagination at work. I try to make sure I play with N each day, but I also try to make sure he has alone time to make his own fun. Ms. Susan helped me understand that doing that will help him so much right now. The more I encourage it the better off he'll be.

So, I'm not going to feel guilty anymore. If I was letting him sit on the couch and eat potato chips all the live long day then I would have good reason to feel guilty. Instead, his favorite things to do are drawing, sculpting play dough, making up stories with his toys, painting, and, of course, a movie no more than twice a day (I need a break sometime!) N's learning tons just by letting his imagination expand. Lets all help our kids grow by letting them use their imaginations and color outside the lines.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

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I'd Love To

I've gotten into a bad habit. Almost every time Noah asks me to play with him my first response is, "Just a second" or the also popular "In a minute." I didn't realize how often I did it until I noticed N was using it on me! How dare he steal my line! Since he was doing it too I became aware that I say it a lot. So, I started yesterday with my goal to quit that habit. I was better at it yesterday than I was today. Whenever he'd ask me to play with him, I'd stop myself from that easy response of "just a second" and instead would say "okay" or "I'd love to." Do you know what happened? We had so many more moments of playtime, he was happier, and guess what- so was I! And I still got things done around the house.

I noticed the "I'd love to" response didn't just make him feel good, but it made me feel good too. It changed my attitude, and I actually did love playing with him. I think my attitude was the underlying problem. I didn't want to be bothered by him because I had so many things on my to do list, squeezing in a few minutes of play time was becoming a burden rather than a blessing. Saying "just a second" wasn't just a response, it was a way to delay for as long as possible the annoying responsibility looming before me day after day of playing with my kids. You may think my wording a little too candid, but, honestly, that's how I feel some days. I know it's terrible, and I feel awful for it. I get so caught up in the monotony of the day after day after day after day... that I forget to appreciate what I've been given. When did playing with my kids become a burden?

Whenever I get like this I try to remind myself that when my kids are older their most important memories will be of their mother playing with them, not the memories of how clean the house was. I can't just dump the responsibilities of keeping house, but I do have to keep my priorities in the right order. Saying "just a second" to N all the time was sending him the message that he wasn't my first priority, and that's not a message I want to send. "I'd love to" sends a much better message.

It's so hard to keep those priorities lined up where they should be. I know I won't ever be perfect at it, so I can't beat myself up for messing up now and then. I guess the important thing is recognizing a need for a change and being willing to work at it. Soon "just a second" will all but disappear from my lips. And I'm willing to bet that we all will benefit from it.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Parenting Books

I'm tired of my old post, so I thought it was time to post something new. I know not very many look at this blog, but just in case someone wanders in, I'll have something new and hopefully useful to look at.

When it comes to parenting books, I haven't read that many and I try not to. Too often parenting books are counter-productive. Instead of giving you helpful ideas and motivating you to be better, they can tend to leave you overwhelmed and feeling like a crappy parent. I think parenting magazines are even worse, which is why I don't like getting those even when they throw me a free subscription just for having a baby.

However, I have read a few that I loved, and I'd like to share them with you.

For the expecting mother, or the mother with a brand new baby have I got the book for you! It is called The Happiest Baby On the Block by Dr. Harvey Karp. You will be able to calm you infant in seconds with the strategies he gives. I recommended this to a friend who recently became a new mom, and she loved it too and even recommended it to her friends. Not only is this book helpful, but it's a very interesting read.

For teaching your baby to sleep, which is oh so important, try reading Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth. I haven't actually read this one, but my sister did and she relayed to me the strategies he teaches. I followed them as best I could considering I didn't actually read the book, and they seemed to work and helped create a reliable sleep schedule with my baby. I have a friend who swears by this book. My sister did tell me that this book isn't as enjoyable to read as the Karp book. I plan on actually reading it the next time we have a baby come around.

If you are frustrated and don't know how to handle the behavior of your child, no matter the age, I would recommend Picking Your Battles: Winning Strategies for Raising Well-Behaved Kids by Bonnie Maslin, Ph.D. It's a longer book, but it's interesting reading. I like it because she talks a lot about child development and why kids act the way the do. It really helped me when I was really struggling with the behavior of my toddler, and I still refer to it now and then.

For parenting with love, you need to read Parenting With Love: Making a Difference in a Day by Glenn I. Latham. I loved this book, and here's why: it's very short; he doesn't talk down to you at all, so the language is very easy to read and understand (so many authors of this type of book like to show you how smart they are); the principles are simple but they work. Some of the chapters I didn't read because they were geared to older children with problems that arise with older kids, but everything else I loved. When I applied his teachings, I saw a difference.

My very favorite parenting book is by the same author as the one I just mentioned. It's called Christlike Parenting: Taking the Pain Out of Parenting. This is the most wonderful book. One thing I like about this book is he doesn't write it from the view of one specific religion. All Christians will be able to understand what he's trying to say. What he does is use teachings and examples of Christ to show how to parent the way Christ would. It will change you for the good. I guarantee it. One reason I like this book is because even though when I read it I feel a little chastened because of things I do wrong, my overall feeling is a great desire to be better and fill my home with love. You will love this book! Every parent needs this book.

Last but not least, we moms need a good pat on the back, and I have the perfect book for that. It is I Am a Mother by Jane Clayson Johnson. After you read this book you want to shout from the roof tops "I AM A MOTHER!"

I hope these are helpful to you. Don't feel like you have to read them. The last thing I want is to overwhelm you because heaven knows we moms feel overwhelmed enough already! But if you do decide to read one or two, I think you'll like them. If you have any that you've read that you'd like to share then please do. You know me- I'm always up for suggestions.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Another Good Read

"When You Are Happy" by Eileen Spinelli
Here's another good book you need to check out. We got it at the library today. I really enjoyed the sweet story about the relationship between a child and loved ones. Not only is it a good story, but it's written beautifully. It also has great illustrations that are colorful and interesting.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Homemade Christmas Ornaments

I decided this year that I wanted the ornaments on our tree to be homemade, and I wanted most of them to be ornaments that I could make with N. So, I went to the craft store, got my supplies, and in less than a day N and I made these creations. I wasn't worried about how perfect they looked. I just wanted N and I to have some fun together. We haven't put our tree up yet (my hubby forbids it!), but I know N will be so excited to hang ornaments that he made.
Supply List:
Acrylic Craft Paint
Glitter Glue
Fun Foam
Craft Sticks
Red pom poms
Jute or ribbon
Scrap fabric
Googly eyes
Hot Glue Gun
Sticks gathered from yard
Fishing line
Wreath Instructions:
These are just unpainted wood ornaments you can buy at Michael's or any craft store. They were 99 cents a piece. They were pretty fast and easy to put together. It was cute to see N paint them. I think you can see which one is his (at least I hope you can!). It was good for him because he had to follow my instructions of only painting the bow red and the the rest green. He was so proud of himself.
1. Paint stick white front and back.
2. While drying, take your fun foam and cut out top hats. Glue on with glue gun when paint is dry.
3. Use the stick end of the paint brush to make eyes, mouth and buttons for snowman. Using brush end paint a carrot nose.
4. While drying, go outside and gather sticks. Your kids will love this part!
5. Break twigs to desired length and glue on. Let dry.
6. Tear small strips of fabric and tie on your snowman's neck.
7. Glue on a small loop of jute or ribbon behind the top hat for hanging.
Reindeer Instructions:
1. Paint front and back of stick brown. Let dry.
2. Glue on googly eyes and pom pom. Use stick end of paint brush for the mouth
3. Gather more sticks if needed. Break to desired length and glue on. Let dry
4. Rip more fabric for scarves. Tie on.
5. Glue a small loop of jute or ribbon for hanging.
Snowflake Instructions:
1. Paint 4 sticks per snowflake (I decided to paint mine blue) front and back (if desired). Let dry.
2. Using hot glue gun, make two crosses. Then glue the crosses together as in the picture. Let dry.
3. For the glitter, I just used white glitter glue. Make sure you let it dry.
4. Use fishing line for hanging or ribbon.
These ornaments were so good for young kids because the painting part was really easy. By the time we got to the detailed parts, N's attention span was done, so I did the finishing touches. These ornaments were also easy to mass produce because while one thing was drying, you could work on something else.
As we get closer to putting up the tree I have a couple other ornaments I want to make, and I also have some I want to save for next year. I think I will make this a tradition- make a new ornament with my kids. I had fun, and so did N. That's what it's all about!
Here's a list of some other great ornament ideas and instructions:
Do you have an ornament suggestion? Or what is something fun you like to do with your kids during the holidays?

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Children's Book of the Month

I decided it would be fun to do a children's book of the month. For November, I chose "If You Give A Cat A Cupcake" by Laura Joffe Numeroff, illustrated by Felicia Bond. These two also wrote the original "If You Give A Mouse A Cookie." These books are so cute. I just think the story is cute and the illustrations are darling. N instantly loved this the first time we read it and we've read it every night before bed for about a week. This is the first of the "If You Give A..." books I've read him, so I'm excited to read more of them to him.

Any fun books you've read to your kids lately or is there one you've had forever that your kids never tire of? Please share! I never know what to get when we go to the library, so it helps to have specific books in mind.

P.S.- If you have something fun you did with your kids you want to share, please do. It's not too late.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

What have you done that's fun?

What's something fun you've done with your kids this week or recently? Anything to do with FHE, preschool lessons, fun books you've read, crafts you've done, etc. Please share! And don't worry if it's not extravagant. The best things are the simple things.

I took my kids to the Tree House Museum with a friend. N loves that place, so I bought a membership. If you haven't been you'll have to give it a try. Kids love it so much! If you don't know much about it check out their website.

I'm excited to hear what you've done! I'm in desperate need of ideas! I've gotten a little lazy.

P.S.- Sorry for the lack of posts. The creative juices haven't exactly been flowing lately.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A Smorgasbord of Fun

So, I haven't posted much lately because, frankly, I don't have many ideas, hence the reason for creating this blog- to force me to be more creative and fun with my kids. I have done a few things lately that were fun. They're pretty simple, but maybe they'll be fun for you too. Sorry, this post is going to be long.

I went to Utah Idaho Supply (something I should have done a long time ago- what a cool store!) and bought a couple activity books for N. One was more geared for things like tracing, matching, recognition, numbers, etc. We've only worked out of it once, but N seemed to like it. The other is a Halloween activity book with puzzles, coloring pages, crafts, etc. The other day we made a spider bracelet. N had fun because he likes to cut and glue things. He didn't wear it long. It went straight to the refrigerator. Here are the instructions:

Fold a sheet of black construction paper in half.

Place four fingers along the fold and trace them with a white crayon.

Cut out and unfold. This is a spider with a eight legs.

Roll the legs around a pencil to make them curl down, and glue on googly eyes.

Staple a 1" wide strip of black paper around your wrist, big enough so it can be slipped on and off

Accordion fold a small strip of paper and glue one end to the top of the bracelet.

Glue the spider to the other end of the folded paper.

Make the spider creep and crawl with a back and forth rocking motion of the wrist.

After we made the spider bracelet N wanted to make a cat out of pink construction paper. I did most of the cutting, but he did all the gluing. He used so much glue that when we put it on the fridge, well, see for yourself.
  • N loves Hide and Seek. He watch The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe (like 10 million times) and that got him hooked. I know this is a classic game that's been played for hundred of years I'm sure, but sometimes I forget about the simple games. Once it was introduced to N He loved it! Something they do at Kindermusik, which I'll talk more about later, is they pretend to be missing roosters. The person looking walks around crowing like a rooster. Your child is supposed to echo the rooster sound. Deliberately take a long time to find the lost rooster, and when you do, delight in making rooster sounds together. It's a fun addition to the game that N really likes.

  • Here's a game we played once that N really liked. I cut up strips of paper and on each one I put something to imitate- an animal, a flower growing, etc. I put the papers in a cup and each paper N would draw out we would imitate the animal or thing on it. He had a lot of fun, and I was really impressed with his flower impression. I think I might have gotten the idea for that game from the book The Toddler's Busy Book by Trish Kuffner.

  • You can also use the above idea and apply it to singing time. I put the names of songs on pieces of paper and each song we draw from the cup we sing.

  • Kindermusik! It's great! N loves it! C will start it soon, and I'm sure she'll love it too. If you don't know what it is, it's kind of like a music preschool. You can find out more about it on their website. In N's class they're teaching musical concepts through the weather. Right now they're talking about the rain. Last week the kids made rainmakers. You can make one using an interesting container and fill it with small items, like paper clips, beans, rice, marbles, etc. You can tell stories using your rainmakers- "I woke up to the sound of thunder...boom! boom! (stomp your feet). I felt the wind on my face, and it started to rain (when you say "rain" have them use their rainmaker)" You can make up whatever story you want. You can talk about temp by saying it rained fast and have them shake their instrument or say it rained slow.

  • More music stuff: C likes music too. Yesterday we had some fun. The three of us all had a musical instrument: N had the classic wooden spoon and pan drum set, C had a rainmaker, and I had a small hand shaker I bought at the music store and some jingle bells. We sat down on the living room floor making music together. I talked about tempo, making fast or slow music, and we talked about dynamics, making quiet music growing into loud music. It was really fun, and all three of us had fun. C was so dang cute, I'm not going to lie!

  • Again, more music stuff (have you guessed that I'm a music nerd yet?): This is similar to the rainmaker, but we made a kind of tambourine. I remembered doing this in elementary school, you might too. N and I each had two paper plates, and we colored each one on the backside. Then we turned one right side up and put dried corn (you could use beans, or rice or whatever) inside. Then we glued (you could probably also use staples) the two sides together. We ended up with our very own tambourines. We used them in singing time for a while.

  • Last but not least, is there anything better than taking your kids to the park? N LOVES it, as I'm sure all kids do, and C is old enough now that she likes it too. She loves going down the slide, and she loves it when I help her climb things- it makes her feel so big. Today she sat in a swing and had so much fun. All three of us were swinging together, and I had a blast. I love doing things with my kids that are fun for ALL of us. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy doing fun things, like all the things I've talked about in this post, but sometimes those things stress me out. You know what I mean? Some activities require a lot of effort from Mom to make them fun and entertaining to a 4 year old, and that can be mentally exhausting. That's why I love doing things where I can sit back and just enjoy the moment. So, don't let this post, or this blog for that matter, fool you into thinking that I'm a mother who spends every waking moment of my day entertaining and teaching my children. If I were I would go insane. I feel pretty good about life if at the end of the day I have succeeded in not losing my patience with N, there was a somewhat smooth routine followed, I laughed with my kids, I sat down and played with them a few times, they were fed, were read some stories, and go to bed happy. Trust me, that's not an every day occurrence, but each day that is the goal. I just have to learn to not beat myself up for when my day doesn't turn out the way I hoped. Just make the best of things, I guess. Anyway...I digressed a little. Uh, parks...they're fun aren't they. Yay for parks...and children.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Thank You Dr. Laura

"Laaaaaaaaaaaa!" (sung high and exultantly) I was a little hasty in my last posting. After I'd vented and finished my post on what to do with a 4 year old stuck on "no!" I thought I'd check out Dr. Laura's website. I know she can be mean sometimes, but I love Dr. Laura. She's one of the few in the media that speaks up for the family and conservative values. Anyway, on her site she had a link on the left hand side that said "stay-at-home," so I clicked on it, and there was my answer: how to get through to your preschooler. "Laaaaaaaaaaa!" I clicked on it and found this. It talked about the very thing I am currently frustrated with- a 4 year old stuck on "no" and the frustrated parents that don't know what to do. Check it out here. I'm sure it will be helpful to all those going through what I'm experienceing. If you have anything of your own to add please do! Heaven knows there can never be too much help in this department!

The Wonderful Behaviors of 4 Year Olds

Our latest teaching endeavors in our house have been challenging. N really is a sweet boy, but lately he's really become an expert in the field of whining and screaming. There have been many moments where I wanted to scream too (and did), but I do think we're making progress. I tried the ignoring thing, but for N, that just made him whine and scream louder. So, now when he whines at me, I tell him "I can't hear you when you talk like that," and I think it's working! He's catching on, and sometimes he'll talk nicely before I even say anything! Yay!

Our other thing we're working on is obeying. I'm starting to think that 4 year olds are incapable of understanding that word. N can be very helpful and obedient, but only when he wants to be. The last couple of days it has gotten particularly bad. Every time I ask him to do something, he just says, "No!" I try to always ask him to do things in a kind way, but all I get is a nasty "No!" So, today he's spent more time than usual in time out. By the end of the day, I had had it! I felt like I was going to have a nervous break down, and every time he asked for something, I just wanted (and did) to say "No!" so he could get a taste of his own medicine. Spiteful, I know, but it was either that or go insane or beat him black and blue.

I really don't know what to do. Please, all you experience mothers, tell me what to do! How do you teach your children to be obedient without nagging them or punishing them all the time for when they're not obedient. When it comes to punishing, I don't know what to do because he's such a drama king. Every time he goes to time out he screams and cries and scream some more, and it takes him so long to calm down that both of us have forgotten why he was in trouble in the first place. I try to always show my gratitude for when he is obedient, but I guess it's not enough. I'm kind of wondering if part of it is an attention thing. I'm noticing that he might be getting a little jealous of the attention that C gets. I think I'm going to try really hard to give him more positive attention and more one on one time. I'm hoping that will help his overall behavior.

I didn't want this blog to me my place for venting parenting frustrations, but I really needed to do it tonight! I promise not to do this very often. Just PLEASE help me!! I need your advice! And I'm sure your advice will benefit everyone because I better not be the only one with a stubborn, strong willed child!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Kid's Yoga

I love finding new ways to implement "yoga" into the kid's day. These activites can be wonderful to get attention or help them refocus. A little silliness can go a long way. :)
Kids yoga is a wonderful way to teach your kids about their bodies and show them how to have fun with exercise and breath. This also helps with social skills when you have a group- there are some wonderful "games" you can implement into your kids yoga if there are groups. Always help child know the pose itself isn't important- but how it makes them feel. Their own stretch is important and they might do things differently from others in the class but that is ok. In any pose help them focus on their body not what everyone else can do. Don't do it if it hurts! In yoga, and in most exercise, you should listen to your body. Pain=stop.
In most yoga classes you start with breath connection and the sun salutations, then you work through a series of poses ending in shavasana or dead man's pose where you relax for 10 minutes or so. With kids that sitting still can be trouble. SO be patient and consistent. Ask them to try things, but if it isn't working leave it be and try again another day. Let this experience be about bonding with their bodies, bonding with you or other kids, and FUN!
Here are just a few to start off with. I am going to have to do a second post. :) Remember you don't have to be technical or picky about how they do each pose- especially in the beginning. You can also use one or two poses and inhale/exhale through them connecting steady breath with the pose.
Counting breath- Sitting or standing have the child take in breaths for different counts. 1-out. 1-2-out. 1-2-3 out. You can do MANY different varieties of this. The child will learn to understand his lung power and can extend his breath or just relax. Set goals for next time- or just do it for fun. I even use this to help Corban calm down "anywhere, anytime"- I will just ask him to take some deep breaths.
Belly Waves Breath Exercise - Have the child lie on his back. Take one of your child's small toys and place it on his belly. Have him take deep slow breaths while trying to make the toy swim (rise and fall)- you can do slow long breaths or let the child experiment with fast, medium, and slow breaths. You can ask them how each breath made them feel.
Sunrise/Sunset- like a sun salutation you can use the sun as your imagery or pick something else (basic- reach for the ceiling-reach for the floor or toes) You can make this slow or fast. Have them reach up like they are going to catch the sun and then tell them the sun is going down and they can follow it to the floor.
Cobra or snake pose- The kids lie on their belly like a snake and raise their bodies up curving like a snake (hips stay on the floor, chest comes up)- Hands are on the floor and push down to help support their chest.
Puppy- Down Dog. Ok. We call this puppy because we use the term puppy for Corban sometimes. He loves to pretend he is a puppy. I use snake and puppy together (like in regular yoga you do up dog into down dog. Down dog is hands and feet on the floor (push up pose distance apart) with the hips in the air straight at the ceiling. So they look like a triangle on the floor.
I try to combine (now that Corb knows most of the poses) to create his own sun salutation. Here is a link to an animated sun salutation. This is similar to the one I use in my own practice. There are MANY different ways to use/do yoga. Everyone seems to think their way is the chosen way. :) I say, find what works for you.
Hissing Cat or roaring lion- Get on hands and knees and they are going to breath in and out while they curve or arch their spine. It is usually inhale round the spine up to the sky, exhale (this is where you hiss or roar) arch your back and your belly moves toward the floor. Kids love this one!
Gorilla/Monkey- Stand hunched over, arms long toward the ground. The kids love the movement in this exercise. you have them grunt like a gorilla while raising the hands in (imagine trying to pick something up) to the chest/armpits. They bend their knees and bound sideways across the room and back. In a group let them take turns being the leader. They have to pay attention- long pauses, or quick directions changes.
Rocking Horse- Child lies on their belly, bends knees, and grasps ankles one at a time. In yoga we are trying to open the chest a lot. This one can take some time for the kid to be flexible enough to grab ankles. Then push the legs up and this opens the chest you can rock many directions.
Peddle laughing- lie on your back and have your child follow your lead then let them have a turn. Peddle like riding a bike- peddle, laugh, peddle, laugh, peddle- etc This is so funny.
Eyes Around the Clock- Take an analog clock place it at eye level for your child. Basically you will have them look up, down, left, right, etc. If they know their numbers you can ask them to look for that number. Stretches eye muscles. You can integrate time telling.
Flamingo- Balance and focus. Mimic a flamingo stance leg back or up sort of like the traditional tree pose. It helps if they have a focal point- something that will not move (spot on the wall or floor) then they can spread their arms like wings.
Sleeping man- (Shavasana/dead man's pose)- you can use a shortened relaxation exercise and then they lie on their backs and use the belly breath trying to hold still as if they are asleep. This is usually the final pose. See how long they will hold still and then try again and again. Don't get frustrated, let them learn. They will be able to hold still longer over time.
Group Activities- These are great if you have a ton of neighbor kids over being crazy and you need something to grab their attention. I am sure you will think of more- please share.
Garden- This is my FAVORITE! We do this almost everytime and you can do this with just one kid or with 20. Tell the kids you are going to plant a garden/ do yard work. Have them get into Rock pose and tell them they are a seed. Ask each kid what kind of seed he or she is. You can have a theme (flowers, fruits, veggies, etc) if you like. After each child names their seed you decide where to plant them. You take them from their mat, while they try to stay in rock pose, and place them randomly about the room. Then you have to cover them with dirt (just pat their back), and then need rain (gently tap your fingers all over them), and they need the sun to help them grow (rub their backs- warm like the sun). Then you get to stand back and watch them grow. They gradually stand and reach for the sky. This one is so fun. The kids want to do it over and over.
Rollercoaster- sit in a line with legs apart, holding the waist of the one in front of them. Lean as you speed downhill, right, left, etc. They follow the leader, raising arms and leaning. Take turns who is in front. Helps kids learn patience (follow leader and wait turn) and they get to be creative.
Any questions?
Any ideas? Would you like more? Let me know.
I know this post is WAY too long.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

New Sunbeam/Nursery Manual

This post is a postscript to my last post. I mentioned how the Sunbeam Manual is too mature for three year olds and how it doesn't even include a lesson on reverence. Well, I was on the church website today and found that they've come out with a new manual, so I decided to check it out. I skimmed through the list of lessons, and, low and behold, there was a lesson on reverence. I clicked on it and up popped the whole lesson. It was simple, short, and to the point. Yeah!! I've been wanting them to improve that manual since before I had kids. We were nursery leaders when we were very first married, so we learned that lessons for little kids should only last a few minutes and be very engaging. I'm very excited about this new manual. I think it will be a great teaching help for church and home. Go check it out!,4945,8184-1-4470-1,00.html

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

FHE Lesson Plans

I'm back from my long absence. My stupid internet has been on the fritz, and it has been very frustrating. It's still not completely fixed, but I can at least get on the internet occasionally instead of never.

For this post I would like to introduce to you all my biggest reason for starting this blog. It seems to me there aren't many ideas out there for FHE lessons geared toward young children- sunbeam age and younger. Sure, there's the Sunbeam lesson manual, but am I the only who's noticed that it's way too mature for three year olds? I still use the lessons, I just condense them like crazy. I want to know what other things you all have done with your families. I would love for this blog to become a great source for FHE lesson plans.

So, the plan: I'll post a topic, and I'd love for all of you to leave a lesson in the comments that you've done with your families. Even though I myself am looking for lessons for younger children, if your lesson isn't geared to little ones I still want you to share it! We all have kids at different stages. Obviously, my children will grow up, and I'll need to adapt my FHE lessons as they grow. So, share share share!

The topic I will pose first is: REVERENCE (I was very surprised to find that is not a lesson topic in the Sunbeam manual).

Don't feel like you have share something grand. Simplicity is almost always best anyway. The more ideas that are shared, the more fun it will be.


Monday, September 1, 2008

Singing Helps

I discovered this book a few months ago at Deseret Book. It's called "Super Little Singers" by Mary H. Ross. I was wanting some fun visual aids for teaching my kids primary songs and other fun songs. This is perfect. It is filled with full-color, ready-to-use visuals and activities for a wide array of songs, from "My Heavenly Father Loves Me" to "The Wheels On the Bus." What you do is cut out the pictures, glue them on to card stock or poster paper and then laminate them. It's a lot of work, but it's worth it. If you do one song at a time, pretty soon you'll have a pile of visuals that your kids will love (having Kinkos laminate everything for you will get expensive very fast, so it's more economical to do it yourself). One of the visuals I've done so far is so much fun. It's a tree with lots of little birds (those took a while to cut out) that are separate from the tree. I put a song on the back of each bird, tape the birds all around the living room, and have N go find them all. We sing the song written on each bird and then he puts the bird back home in its tree. He loves it.

The book also includes suggested actions for songs. I'm not always very good at coming up with actions, so that's very helpful. It also has singing motivators, like the birds and the tree I already mentioned. It's a really helpful book.N likes to sing, but he doesn't always like to learn new songs. It helps him when he has something to look at. The only drawback is it takes some time to cut everything out and stuff. I've cut my songs out when my kids are in bed, and I can just watch a movie and cut.

Anybody else have a resource they love for teaching songs? Any great ideas for teaching kids new songs? I'm all ears!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Homemade Play Dough

My sister-in-law, Sharlee, in her comment in the last post mentioned making play dough for her son. Isn't play dough the greatest invention for kids? My son sure loves it, especially as of late. His imagination goes wild, and sometimes I spy on him while he's playing and laugh to myself at his make believe. The things he says are so funny, and sometimes his snakes he makes have names. Like, one day he named one after his cousin, Tevya. So cute! I love it when I see him use his imagination, and I think that's when kids learn the most.

Homemade play dough is sooooo much better than store bought. It's super easy to make, hardly costs a thing, makes a lot, and lasts for along time (provided your son puts it away when he's done! I've gotten mad at him enough times now that he's much better about it). So, just in case there are any of you who have never made your own play dough, I'm providing a recipe. It's a really good one (granted, it's the only I've tried).

2 1/2 cups flour
3 Tablespoons oil
1/2 cup salt (I discovered the hard way what happens if you forget the salt!)
1 Tablespoon alum or cream of tartar (I have no clue what alum is)
2 cups boiling water
Food coloring

Stir ingredients until mixed. Add food coloring (I add a lot because I like the color to be vibrant) and mix with your hands (It gets pretty hot. You can use gloves or tough it out- your hands get used to it). Store in the refrigerator in an air tight container and it will last a long time.

Happy play dough making and sculpting!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Being More Spontaneous

One of my goals is to be more spontaneous with my kids. By that I mean that I want to be more willing to put down whatever it is I'm doing and sit down and play with my kids if they ask me to or even if they don't ask me to. I am convinced more and more that one of the best ways to teach your kids is to simply play with them. There are always teaching opportunities in play time, but the most important lesson kids learn is that they are loved. I see that in N all the time. On days when I'm more concerned about all the things I need to get done, he's more grumpy and less inclined to do things I ask him to do. But on days when I take time to give him my time, it's the complete opposite.

It's hard sometimes to set aside the many tasks ahead of me so that I can play with my kids. But the second I do I immediately feel the blessings for doing so. I recently learned a poem that has often come to my mind and reminded me of what's really important in life. Here it is:

Cleaning and scrubbing can wait for tomorrow,
For babies grow up, I've learned, to my sorrow.
So quiet down, cobwebs. Dust, go to sleep.
I'm rocking my baby, and babies don't keep.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Here Come the 1, 2, 3s

We have a new favorite thing at our house. I didn't have any fun educational kids music, so I got on Amazon and did some browsing. I found a CD made by They Might Be Giants called "Here Come the 1, 2, 3s." It got great reviews by everyone. I like the band, so I thought I'd give it a try. Plus, it was a good deal because it came with a DVD too.

First, we tried out the CD on a long drive. It was an immediate hit for me because the songs have a fun beat and the words are clever and funny (kind of random but that's how that band tends to be).

Then, we tried out the DVD, and it was an even bigger hit with all of us! It's just plain fun, and some of the songs are down right hilarious. My son really likes it. In fact, a couple days ago I was having singing time with him and he requested we sing the "Zero Song." And, after watching the movie and hearing the songs only a handful of times, my son is already better at his numbers. I highly recommend this CD/DVD. They also have one that's called "Here Come the ABCs," which I'm sure is equally great.

For those of you that watch the Disney Channel (we're kind of in the dark ages- we only use TV for movies) you might already know about these songs. I think that's where they originate from. At any rate, they're really fun and a good educational resource.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Teaching Kids to Love Music

Growing up, my parents listened to nothing else but classical music. My dad's favorites are Rachmaninoff and Debussy. I can remember dancing around the room like a ballerina while my dad listened to Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini. From my infancy, I was exposed to Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Dvorak, Debussy, Rachmaninoff, Copland, etc. My parents never pushed it on me. They didn't force me to sit and listen. They just had it on at home or in the car while we went about our daily activities. By doing that simple thing, I grew to love that music as much or more than they did.

So, I decided I would do the same in my home. I don't play music constantly (sometimes silence is nice too), but now and then, I'll put on a classical CD. Not only am I exposing them to good music, but it also helps our home feel more peaceful. The other day we were driving around, and I put in a CD of Strauss Waltzes. Pretty soon my 4 year old started talking about a movie, and I realized he was talking about the Baby Neptune movie by Baby Einstein where the duck dances in the water to the music of Beautiful Danube. He also made other connections with other songs on the CD. I thought that was interesting that he would be able to recognize the music that quickly. That tells me that kids listen better than we think they do, and they learn quicker than we think too.

I don't have that big of a classical collection. So, I decided that every month I'd buy a new CD. I went on Amazon and found some CDs by some of the greats and put them on wish list. If you'd like to start building your collection but you don't know where to start, here are some of my favorites: Beethoven, Mozart, Bach, Schubert, Schumann, Brahms, Debussy, Rachmaninoff, Chopin, Copland, Tchaikovsky. You could start by getting a compilation CD with the artist's greatest works. Hope this helps!

If you have anything to add please share in the comments!

High Hopes

I'm so excited for this new little project of mine! I hope I'm not the only who will enjoy it. I hope it will be useful to at least one other person.