Monthly Archives: February 2016

Learning to read without lessons

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I am watching my 5-year-old learn to read. It is a beautiful, simple process. I have not “taught” her, she has not had formal lessons, no forced X amount of minutes she has to spend practicing daily. I read to her. Lots of books. Books she picks out; books I think she will like. I read in front of her. I read aloud things as I am typing them for her. I spell words out at her request.

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The thing that has helped her the most is computer games. She likes to search for games herself on the app stores. For a long time, she would ask me how to spell something (like cat or baby). Then she would remember those words. She then began to like playing some games that had words to read as a part of the game. She could figure the game out without reading, but eventually she wanted to know what it said. I would always help read it, but sometimes I was helping my other kids, or she just didn’t want to get up. So she has started sounding it out.

I didn’t even know how far she was along in this journey. Today she called me into her room to ask for some help reading a word on her dragon game. She pointed out all the words she had already read. “Mom this says green fairy, and that says boss, and this says rock, but I can’t figure out this word after rock”. So I asked “what did you think it was when you tried to read it?” She sounded out the word and I repeated what she sounded out and she put it together. “Dragon! Oh okay! Rock Dragon!”

I don’t know who is more proud.

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Cuddle and Connections in our Carrier

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This is another throwback post. My daughter is now 5.5, but the words are just as true for my 3 year old and my 4.5 month old.

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My daughter just turned two years old this past Mother’s day. As with any two year olds she is on the go constantly; she always is setting out to do something very important: tower building, chalk drawings, reading her books, playing with her “babies”, and singing are amongst her favorites. Every day I look at her and she amazes me. My once high needs baby is now an active toddler who I barely get to hold. It is so bittersweet.

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Luckily for Mommy, there is one exception and that is when she is being worn. This is the one time that she allows me to be close to her for more than 2.6 seconds. This is when I once again can just look down and kiss her forehead, or stare into her big beautiful blue eyes. This is when I get to read her cues before she even gives them. This is when I get my baby back for a little while. I actually kind of make excuses to try and wear her just for this time. Our normal wear times are at grocery stores, or farmer’s markets, or quick trips elsewhere. I offer to wear her when I cook or do major cleaning or even when we take our daily walks. Usually I can get away with it for a few minutes at fun activities, before she is demanding to run around, but those few minutes are priceless to me. She is growing so very fast, and in a few months she will have a baby brother or sister. It would be awesome for me to have another carrier for my husband so that when we have two little ones, both can be worn if needed. I never want her to feel pushed out of the way for the new baby. If she wants to be held Mamma or Papa will always be there even if there is a new baby; because she is MY baby too and I will wear her for as long as she’ll let me.

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Our Unschooling Day 2/19/2016

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Our day started out by meeting up with some new people for the first meet and greet of a local family friendly hiking group. We met at Starbucks, got a treat, and headed on a walk to the park. Hailey met some new friends who she spent much of the time with, and Elijah mostly played with me or by himself. After a while of play, we walked back and headed home.

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We had some lunch and the kids played pretending to be the chef/waiter/customer at a restaurant.A bit later Elijah played in the water in the sink a bit while Hailey and I played Rory’s story cubes. Which is a game that must have been made for her. I laid the baby down for a nap and Elijah fell asleep too, which means it will probably be a late night here, so maybe a movie after dinner.

Expectations

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I have come to realize that many so called “problems” are only problems because I have made them that way. That is, the “problem” is created because I have unrealistic expectations. Expectations of my husband, daughter, friends, or just life in general. When I take a good honest look at these expectations and reevaluate them, I often find the problem never really existed in the first place, or at least not to the degree I was making it to be.

I don’t really like this understanding though, because it kind of puts me as responsible for my feelings…ack! I guess that means I can choose to change my expectations and often the problem may dissipate completely, or at least seem significantly less important.

I will use a current example from my life for relevancy. My husband builds and fixes computers as a side job/hobby. It is not uncommon for us to have multiple computers in various states of disarray throughout the house. We have a small house, which leaves very little room for him to put projects he is currently working on. I usually ask him to store stuff in the basement that he isn’t going to get to for a few days. It is kind of a pain to carry all this stuff downstairs and then back up again, so sometimes he leaves it out to get to tomorrow.

I also have a very curious 3-year-old. When the computer get left out he can only hold himself back for so long before he really wants to try to fix it himself. Push this button, grab that part, use the computer as a step stool…. you get the point. Understandably, his Papa doesn’t really want him to do that. So two unrealistic expectations are occurring here.

Expectations. vs reality

The first is the expectation that a curious toddler is going to be able to leave something that is very cool looking, something that he sees his Papa messing with often, alone for an extended period of time. He tired, he really does, but eventually he will give into that toddler desire. He means no harm, but he still has a lot of maturing to do on that self-control thing.

The second unrealistic expectation is that I should be able to keep him off of the computers all day so that my hubby doesn’t have to lug it all downstairs and back up again. I try too, I really do. But, I have a house to take care of, games to play with the kids, a baby to nurse, and Facebook to scroll through research to complete.

If I or my husband holds rigidly to these expectations, then we are going to inevitably feel upset and angered. The problem is the expectations. The reality is clear. The computers need put away for everyone’s sake and the problem is solved.

Point being, examine those expectations. Are they realistic? Can you look past the feelings of frustration that something isn’t being done how you want, and just look for a solution? Not always easy, but for me, it alleviates a ton of stress that doesn’t have to be there.

 

Why I don’t make decisions out of fear

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Love this graphic from Positive Parenting Connection

I am not a big believer in making decisions out of fear. I’ve noticed that people make many choices out of fear of the “what-ifs”.

I have heard comments like “I wouldn’t let our child sleep in our bed because, what if they never want to leave?” or “If I start letting them watch television, they will want to do nothing else”, and “If I let them get away with that this time, they might always try it.” I have even heard of parents deciding not to have any more children because “they have been so lucky thus far, what if this next one is not healthy?”

Unfortunately, in life there are no guarantees. There is no guarantee that your child will even make it to tomorrow. You only have right now. So I choose to my decisions out of love, and what feels right for my family today. I will not let fear of something that may or may not even happen dictate how I will live.

I choose to bedshare because I love it, my husband loves it (actually it was his idea), and my children love it. Nothing makes me feel more warm and fuzzy than cuddling with my family. I can never replace the memories of the funny things my girl has said in her sleep, or the look on my son’s face when he sees me first thing in the morning. Will they be in there forever? I doubt it. I don’t know how long they or any of our future children will need to be in our bed. But I won’t force them out because of fear of lack of independence or what not.

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We watch television sometimes, even my toddlers. I enjoy a good laugh, a little break, or some mindless entertainment sometimes, especially in the evening when I am tired from the day. I am not going to not watch because “they” say it could be bad. I do not prevent television for fear of a mindless zombie child who will lack creativity. That has not been my experience at all.

I try not to view allowing my child to do something that some do not, as “getting away with it”. I see myself as flexible. There is very little that is actually black and white. Every day, every situation can be different. Children’s needs change and so do mine. I make each decision based on what is needed now, keeping in mind my goals for the future and the desire to raise my children with love and respect.

I am blessed with a healthy family right now. I am not guaranteed health tomorrow and neither are my children. I am not guaranteed anything. So why would I make a decision based on a “what if” for a future I may never see.

I am not a big believer in making decisions out of fear. I am a believer in making decisions out of what works for us, not the subjects of some study I read on the internet. I am a believer in making decisions out of love.

Visions of Motherhood: Before and after. Reality check!

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This is another post that was written a few years ago. My journey figuring on this parenting thing is still changing.

 

Every expectant mom has their idea of what motherhood is going to be like. It usually involves some idealistic vision of a sweet calm baby, who smiles and laughs all the time, wears adorable outfits, and nurses perfectly. You see yourself taking this charming bundle of joy to the park for picnics with your husband or imagine them playing (or sleeping) happily while you continue to cook gourmet meals and have a spotless house (like that even happened before the baby). Lastly, you (I!) expect many things to stay the same, namely your relationship with your spouse. All of that is well and good, and don’t get me wrong, I want to embrace the power of positive thinking…. but…. It just is NOT TRUE, at least not all of the time. Sure, I tried to tell myself it was true for a while. I might have even had myself convinced, after all I can be pretty persuasive.

The excuses didn’t put a ding in my idea vision for a while. The dishes are dirty because the baby nursed all day long…………. The floor didn’t get vacuumed because I didn’t want to wake her……Buttered egg noodles for dinner because she is just so darn cute I couldn’t put her down.

But eventually reality had to set in. Did I have the perfect sweet calm baby who smiled and laughed? Sometimes. She also wore some adorable outfits. The nursing perfectly…well that took a while. Beyond that sometimes my sweet baby was not so calm. Sometimes she cried, a lot, for no apparent reason. Did we have picnics in the park? Um, no. But we were able to go and play and have fun at the park as a family once she was like 8 months old. The gourmet meals and spotless house? (Cough, cough) Sure if spaghetti and “Yes, I did manage to get the laundry put into the dryer” counts, then yes.

I think the biggest obstacle was learning that having a baby changes things more than just what you cook for dinner. I had to learn how to be mommy and wife. We had to learn what it meant to parent together. Expectations change. It was (and is) difficult. But that’s okay. It comes with the territory.

I absolutely love being a mom. It is the most challenging, unpredictable, life altering thing. It is the only thing that can turn my horrible day into a wonderful one with one little smile. Is it exactly what I had imagined (pretended) it would be when I was big and pregnant? Not exactly, but it sure is something awesome.

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Toddlers and TV

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Is that little one watching Television? Don’t you know they tell you how risky that is, how it destroys imagination, and how very necessary it is to put a strict limit on the amount watched?

Well, yes that little girl is watching television (probably Curious George since that is her “must see”). And yes, I have heard all the things they have to say. And if you had asked me a few years ago, I would have wholeheartedly agreed. Back then I believed a lot of what they had to say. I was actually on the path to becoming a “they”. But something changed. I had a baby, and with that came this mothering instinct. This instinct guided me on many things from how I fed my baby to how I slept with my baby. It felt good. But it also scared me sometimes, and I tried to ignore it. This big gut feeling was making me question things that are not really supposed to be questioned in our society. Things like vaccines, things like discipline, and things like freedom.

I fought the questions for a while, some longer than others, until I just could not let myself ignore it anymore. I researched, I read stories, I read books, I questioned myself and questioned some more, I networked with others, I prayed (and prayed and prayed), and I talked with my husband and then decided how we felt, how we wanted to live.

The television offers so many good things, that I couldn’t possibly believe excluding it from our lives was the right way (before this point I had basically stopped watching too, because she might see it). I love to watch cooking shows, shows that are about my interests, and every once in a while a show that makes me laugh. So does my daughter.

I am still not one to have the tv on all day. It just doesn’t fit in with all the playing outside, coloring, playing with babies, dancing, reading and cooking, building (and knocking down) towers and peek-a-boo games we do. But there is something special about the way her face lights up when I turn on her favorite show or the way we cuddle when we watch a movie, or the way we instantly get up and dance when there is music in the program.

I will admit, as much I believe in freedom, I was still a little scared to turn on the television for my girl. Those doubts lingered in me, they had been deeply ingrained. But there is no decrease in her imagination, no evidence of brain rot. She continues to grow and learn and wonder.

I recently read someone advising against it because “there are other more stimulating activities available”. You know what my first thought was? Who wants to be constantly stimulated? We all need to just relax sometimes, and the television is perfect for just that.

 

 

 

This post was written back in 2011. This cute baby is now 5 and still watches TV. She has survived and thrived 🙂

 

 

 

Homeschooling this past week

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We have been busy trying to get through the winter and I have not updated the homeschooling section much. We have been out of the house quite a bit and spending a ton of time with friends.

We met up with our homeschool friends at the local science museum.

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We practiced climbing skills at a local nature park.

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We learned about Groundhog’s day at a program at our favorite farm.

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And we played on tractors and pretended to know how to operate one.

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We also found a new website that Hailey is loving called Teach Your Monster to Read.

Add to that plenty of connect four games, dress up, reading stacks of library books, taking walks on the sunny days, and plenty of TV in our down time, and I would say we learned plenty this past week!