"The miracles of nature do not seem miracles because they are so common. If no one had ever seen a flower, even a dandelion would be the most startling event in the world."

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Little Perspective on Monday

A friend shared this link and this poem. It's so mesmerizing that I would almost prefer to post it alone, but must instead comment just to say, I'm looking at that hated pile of things on the stairs, and maybe the noise, quite differently today.


In the half-light, before the workday stir,
three strips contour her body, cross the bed
and this dull morning seems a watershed
with me indifferent to the sight of her

as, with her sleeping eyes, she is to me.
Once I had rockclimber’s hands: worn thin,
one layer more naked, they’d sense her skin
aware an inch away, like witchery,

yet over years hands callous with the wear
of touching her, and fierceness seems absurd
as does delusion when the fever’s cured,
and the strong arch our marriage made won’t bear

a tower to our passion, or a child’s home.
Instead there’s empty stairs and controlled climate,
too many books, too much reason for quiet
where something squalling with life might have grown.

I stand in the door, neither there nor gone;
through blinds the sun insinuates its way,
casting a chart of the approaching day
where I should lie, and where her arm is thrown.

-Peter Coghill

Thursday, November 18, 2010

17 November

I was going to get off the computer and begin to resuscitate my house from what appears to have been a jolly fun Trash the Whole House Day celebration, but I now have a little one sleeping on the chair behind me and I Will Not endanger that by moving one inch out of this chair. So here I am blogging by default. :) Ready for the run down?

1. Have we done something to strengthen their minds / intellect?
After a little bit of reorganization of the living room bookshelves my girlie is loving picking out a math or phonics workbook on her own and doing a couple pages at the kitchen table. I'm loving this because it is completely self directed and self instigated, my very favorite kind of learning. Aren't those rare moments nice when our theories actually work out in real life?

2. Have we done something to strength their spirit / faith / their foundation in God?
Still reading away in The Jesus Storybook Bible. It's good for a mama's heart too.

Can I go off on a tangent here? What's with the comparing?? I am completely happy with where we're at, and then remind myself that others are doing more, that their children finished the Storybook Bible at 6 months and are now discussing Ryrie at naptime, and I feel inadequate. Worse, I feel like I am failing my daughter. If anyone has strategies for quieting those accusing voices that are never satiated no matter how much I do, I would love to hear them.

3. Have we done something to strengthen their bodies?
And the cold weather hits. I am absolutely not afraid of going for a walk when it's freezing out, but already I can see my tendency to hunker down inside and miss out on those big muscle activities. So no, not yesterday, but it's going to need to be a conscious choice this winter. I'm thinking this in the playroom. Hubs is not convinced. :)

4. Have we done something to strengthen their emotional self?
I've been greatly impressed this week by this quote from the linked article - "children are not meant to take direction from those to whom they are not currently attached, and this is meant to keep them safe." After reading this and a note on facebook we have implemented a new plan for coping with anger. When the girlie "feels angry, and it's getting BIG inside" she runs to me for a hug. So far . . . moderate progress.

5. Have we done something to strengthen our family bond(s)?
Can I just say I love bath time? Daddy understands the sensory issues with water that I just don't get, and listening to him sing to her while he got the tangles out of her hair last night was the best. We've also had some sleep and behaviour issues this week related to the blasted time change, and reinforcing the rules and working through them has been bonding. I can't get over how relationship building and affirmative discipleship/discipline without corporal punishment is. All the silliness I heard about the love a child feels for a parent after being spanked and "restored". It's just dysfunctional! This is good, this feels right.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

I Don't Spank My Children

written by Rachel, a dear friend, and reposted with her permission. Thank you!

Discipline and Discipleship
These words (obviously) share a root word. As a Christian parent, I see these words as inseparable. There are, of course, times when I forget that disciplining my children is ultimately an act of disciple-ing them, but overall this is how I view God's intended role for me as a mother. I believe this is how most Christians see their roles as parents.

Lest we speak past one another, I want to clearly state here at the beginning that when I use the word "discipline" that I do not mean spanking or punishing my children. Many Christian parents use the word "discipline" when they mean spanking, but this is not how I'm using this word.

Every discussion I've ever read or participated in that involves Christians and spanking, someone eventually says that spanking is the God-ordained method of disciplining our children. Some people go so far as to say that NOT spanking is sin; others take a milder approach and say that NOT spanking is, at least, unwise.

I have spanked my children (so I'm not coming from a place of unfamiliarity with the practice), but I do not spank them anymore. Why? Because I found spankings to be a stumbling block and a crutch, and the Holy Spirit spoke to me through my experiences. When spanking was an option I allowed myself, I found that I did not parent well. It was too easy to threaten a spanking instead of communicating with my children. It was too easy to spank instead of dealing with their hearts. It was too easy to give into righteous indignation that my children did not fear me so much that they would jump-to the minute I gave an order. It was too easy to become self-centered and expect my children to make my life easier. In short, spanking gave me an out: I didn't have to *work* at parenting, I could just spank them.

If you spank, that last paragraph probably resulted in you writing me off. Maybe you feel insulted -- "She's saying I'm lazy because I spank!" Maybe you've categorized me as someone who used spanking "incorrectly"; you are thinking "That's why I never spank in anger and I always pray and hug my child afterward." Honestly, I'm accusing you of nothing, I'm simply telling you that NOT spanking improved my parenting, strengthens my connection with my children, and allows me to focus on my ultimate parenting goal: Discipleship. Plainly and simply, spanking got in the way.

Parenting without spanking means that I must stop and *think* about all of the issues that are swirling around us when I give my children instructions. (Are the kids tired? Hungry? Are they having a rough day? Am *I* having a rough day?) I must stop and think about whether the instructions are valid. (Am I being unreasonable? Am I parenting strictly for my own convenience?) Stopping and thinking only takes a few seconds, and as I've been parenting this way for several years, I've found that I'm rarely aware of these as conscious thoughts anymore.

Parenting without spanking means that my children are free to confess to me without fear of spanking. Sometimes there are consequences for what they confess, but their openness allows us to have a conversation about the issue and for now they accept the natural consequences of their actions with a good attitude. Very rarely do my children attempt to hide their deeds from me, and I've had the opportunity to coach them about confessing misdeeds to others in their lives.

Parenting without spanking means that I must actively engage my children about their sinful hearts. Spanking isn't present to cloud the issue, spanking isn't present to become the focus of their resentment, spanking isn't seen as a method of atonement for their sins. I want them to understand that Christ atoned for their sins, therefore we forgive others and ask for forgiveness.

So often when I explain to people that I parent without spanking, their response is, "Maybe you have time to talk to your kids every time, but sometimes I need my children to obey me immediately." This is not a family-specific need. Sometimes I also need my children to obey me without question, and they usually do when we are in such a situation... I can make it clear with my tone that this is not the time for us to have a discussion or to attempt to give their perspective. We've arrived at this point because when my children were younger, if they did not obey me, I simply "made it happen." If I told them to "Come Here," and they did not, I went to get them. If I told them to "Pick up your shoes," and they did not, I placed their hands in mine and made them pick them up. They've learned that I will "make" them comply with my commands if they are unable or unwilling to comply on their own.

I know that sounds crazy to you. I know this because it sounded crazy to me when I was first introduced to parenting without spanking. The best way I can explain why I no longer think it is crazy can be summed up by two points:

*Children are immature. At first they are able to do nothing for themselves, so we help them with everything. As they gain maturity, they take on more responsibility and we have to do less for them. I no longer tie shoes or dress my girls, though at one time I did both of these things. At one time they were unable to obey me every time without my help, so I helped them with that, too. Now that they are more mature, I have to help them comply less and less.

*Children sometimes refuse to obey. When this happens, I "make" them obey and the task is done. They are learning that resistance is futile; Mom *will* make me comply. If I were spanking I would have to spank the child for disobedience and then *still* have to make them obey in the end. (And sometimes this is a loop of give instruction, spank for disobedience, continued refusal, spank harder for disobedience, continued refusal, spank even harder for disobedience, continued refusal... and the parent is left with the choice of spanking so hard that it is physically damaging OR deciding it isn't worth the battle OR doing what I did in the first step and "make" it happen.)

As I mentioned before, many Christians consider NOT spanking to be sinful; others just label it as "unwise" for not heeding "clear instruction" from the Bible. If NOT spanking works well for me, would these Christians have me spank anyway as some sort of insurance plan just in case my exegesis is incorrect? That makes no sense to me, and my God doesn't want insurance-plan "obedience."

My discipline goal is discipleship. I found that spanking distracted me from this goal, and the Holy Spirit convicted me to parent gently. So, I don't spank my children.

Handwriting Practice

A good friend sent me this link and I love it! I'm printing out a couple pages and laminating them so that we can write on them with a washable marker, wipe off, and use them again.


Friday, November 12, 2010

11 November

The fall weather is spoiling us, and we're still in tshirts here by afternoon, a rarity for this time of year. Most days lately have been lots of free play outside, and little of anything else. When I start to wonder if I'm doing enough I picture the snowy days ahead. This certainly will not last! Yesterday was a "day off" for us, meaning it was just the girl and I and we had lots of fun.

1. Have we done something to strengthen their minds / intellect?
We're doing Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons after strong recommendations from friends. The first lessons are so basic that we are fighting boredom, but I'm trying to stick with the system and get through it. Thankfully they are short! We also did a couple of math pages while I cooked last night.

2. Have we done something to strength their sprit / faith / their foundation in God?
Trying to remember that I want to start on The Lord's Prayer at lunch times, maybe if I type it in here I will remember. Lunch time is crazy!

3. Have we done something to strengthen their bodies?
Yes, and mine! :) Our museum had a big "Ant World" where you can climb and crawl and explore. I might not have thought it was as much big muscle activity if I hadn't tried it myself.

4. Have we done something to strengthen their emotional self?
We've stuck with our tea time routine! Yesterday also included making a new friend at the museum, R. had gotten so good at this that it's hard to remember that it was such a weakness a year and a half ago, and a special lunch for just the two of us. How can hummus NOT be good for your emotional self?? ;)

5. Have we done something to strengthen our family bond(s)?
I think just taking the whole day together was priceless. Daddy brought home ice cream and root beer for the official 4.5 bday celebration. There was just so much togetherness packed into one day. It was very good for us.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

"Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly at first."

Feed Thy Soul

If of thy mortal goods thou art bereft,
And from thy slender store two loaves alone to thee are left,
Sell one, and with the dole
Buy hyacinths to feed thy soul.

Moslih Eddin Saadi

Monday, November 8, 2010

"Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be cumbered with your old nonsense." -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Friday, November 5, 2010

"When we adults think of children, there is a simple truth which we ignore: childhood is not preparation for life; childhood is life. A child isn’t getting ready to live; a child is living. The child is constantly confronted with the nagging question, “What are you going to be?” Courageous would be the youngster who, looking the adult squarely in the face, would say, “I’m not going to be anything; I already am.” We adults would be shocked by such an insolent remark, for we have forgotten, if indeed we ever knew, that a child is an active participating and contributing member of society from the time he is born. Childhood isn’t a time when he is molded into a human who will then live life; he is a human who is living life. No child will miss the zest and joy of living unless these are denied him by adults who have convinced themselves that childhood is a period of preparation. How much heartache we would save ourselves if we would recognize the child as a partner with adults in the process of living, rather than always viewing him as an apprentice. How much we would teach each other… adults with the experience and children with the freshness. How full both our lives could be. A little child may not lead us, but at least we ought to discuss the trip with him, for after all, life is his and her journey too." -Professor T. Ripaldi

Thursday, November 4, 2010

3 November

We have a winner for the Set & Fresh gift card giveaway. Mhgood, I hope you enjoy your Pink Thai DragonFruit freshener or something else fun. Again, please note: samples and prize pack were provided by P&G through MyBlogSpark. Winner was chosen using Random.org. I have another fun giveaway coming up so stick around! This one is a little spicy, a little mild, and lots of fun for family night. Any guesses? On to yesterday's rundown.

1. Have we done something to strengthen their minds / intellect?
Can I really go an entire day without doing something that falls into this category? It seems like I have. Ok . . . that's not good. Too much screen time yesterday, but those days happen.

2. Have we done something to strength their sprit / faith / their foundation in God?
The thing I'm not sure about sometimes is that we can have a superb day and then I look at these questions and think it was an entire bust. I know a lot of these things are happening subconsciously, but I do want to be purposeful about them. So off with the guilt, and on with the, "Hmm, lets be thinking about that today."

3. Have we done something to strengthen their bodies?
Lots of outside play on the big toys, climbing, stretching, and lifting. In fact, I actually wondered yesterday if I should add a "Did we spend time outside today?" question for the winter. Outside time is really important to me from the tiny baby stage all the way through to adults. Fresh air and sunshine!

4. Have we done something to strengthen their emotional self?
Yes! Sharing a new routine here because I'm no good at routine, I don't like it but my preschooler thrives on it. As part of my Project Simplify my life we are now having tea together immediately following nap time. Little moments of civility enrich our emotions and I want to make this one a habit. The key to AP is attachment, I am so sad when I see people "stop spanking" and get so frustrated because they are not replacing it by nourishing attachment. This just doesn't work any other way. So tea will be our time, our moment of civility (shamelessly stolen from Sally Clarkson), and a scheduled bit of work on that attachment we need. Part of the routine is allowing her to hand wash (rinse) the cups and saucer and pot in the sink when we are finished. Sort of a nod to minimalist "washing your bowl" combined with Montessori family life works and sensory play with the warm water. So there you have it. Hoping to come back at some point and ad some links here to define some of what I mean. If you have questions, please ask!

5. Have we done something to strengthen our family bond(s)?
Last night was trash night and though she didn't help Dad as much as usual due to a very bad mood (Judy Moody, anyone? ;)), we took the time to do a little bit of extra decluttering. I believe she learns about how we work together and support each other from watching even when she isn't involved. And of course she was following us around everywhere and interacting even though she was officially upset about not getting to play on the computer. Attachment makes even the grouchy times better - there's my unsolicited proselytizing for the day. :)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

2 November 2010

I'm back! Crazy fun stuff has been happening around here, and blogging, as always, has suffered. Yesterday my bright girl turned 4 and a half! I'm a big fan of half bdays. So here's the rundown for yesterday. I don't expect it to be pretty. I'm in some sort of weird emotional time warp this week.

1. Have we done something to strengthen their minds / intellect?
Monday night wasn't our first frost but it was the first that was both heavy enough and we were outside early enough to observe. Licking frost off of the play house just counts as extra sensory interaction right? ;)

2. Have we done something to strength their sprit / faith / their foundation in God?
Not specifically that I remember though I have a feeling it's the little everyday praying together and living together that counts. I do want to be conscious about it.

3. Have we done something to strengthen their bodies?
Dad and girl went for a walk collecting leaves and seed pods last night while I voted. Again, it might be a bit of a stretch.

4. Have we done something to strengthen their emotional self?
Play skills and cooperation are definitely getting stronger. So proud of herself when she worked together with a friend to right the large pirate ship toy that had been blown over by the wind. Problem solving also came into play when deciding whether to continue a game or come help in the garden. She came up with a really cool solution on her own!

5. Have we done something to strengthen our family bond(s)?
We're still living together. :) Somedays I think that's the best we can do. We struggle and stick together anyway.

Don't forget to enter the drawing for a $5 gift card. Winners will be chosen this evening.