Saturday, March 21, 2015

Spring Break Photo Fest

Here are a few photos from our Spring Break camp-out at Galveston Island State Park:

It was verrrrry cold the first day

We woke up to a display of hundreds of these interesting webs.

There is a small cold boy regrouping under here.

The Silly S'more Selfie collection

Pleasure Pier

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Parenting 101: Behavior does not Cause Reactions!

I am reading an interesting book about play therapy. Attachment is an ongoing issue around here. These little ones brought some baggage with them and attachment seems to be the only way to unpack and organize it.

I know all three would benefit from formal attachment therapy, but at what cost? I realized that in order to get even one or two of them in regular therapy, it would necessitate giving up T-ball for the boys. With school, there are simply not enough hours in the week; we barely scrape by as it is, timewise, during ball season. So then comes the necessity of deciding which will benefit them more, play therapy or "play ball."

This book, The Parent Survival Guide: From Chaos to Harmony in Ten Weeks or Less, offers me a chance to do both. I am in the stages of assembling my kit and making my plans, so "special playtimes" haven't started yet. The Captain, on the other hand, is undergoing some sort of new metamorphosis that is not sitting well around here. He has become extremely stubborn and has realized I will not physically make him do anything so is experimenting with simply not doing anything at all -- and or having a giant tantrum -- when I get too directive with him.

I, on the other hand, no candidate for parent of the year, am trying to remember to use the reflective technique the author, Theresa Kellam, teaches in the book. Basically, I am to narrate his behavior, without sarcasm, meanness or irony in my tone. "Oh, you are laying on the floor," "You're pretending you can't hear me," etc. Once I've done that, the next step is to narrate his feelings. "You are angry because I said you can't watch TV."  This part is trickier than it sounds because I don't honestly always know what precipitated the behavior. In that case, it has to be simplified to "you are angry, you are afraid," etc.

It is very hard to remember to do this when a child is pushing my buttons. When I can remember, it works very well. It takes some self discipline too; my first impulse is to push back. A mark of adulthood is having the maturity to regulate my behavior. It seems so obvious but it is so easy to blame the child for my reaction. I cannot control my emotional response but I can control my reaction/behavior. To me, the real irony in all of this is that this is exactly what we are asking our child to do and hoping to teach them. Your emotions/feelings are real and valid; nonetheless, you have to control your reaction.

I have said all this as much to remind myself as to enlighten you. So step one is for me to get very good at the technique just described and, step two, is to gather the tools I need for the therapeutic playtime and implement it as soon as reasonable. I am aiming for getting it started during spring break.

This is a good book with sound principals and no "tricky" parenting. I recommend it for anyone in the trenches.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Fast Food Fast and Food Stamps Budget

It's Ash Wednesday. Somehow I got confused and convinced myself that last week was Ash Wednesday so I am a whole lot more prepared than I would have been then!  Last night we celebrated Fat Tuesday with Fettucini Alfredo, Roasted Chicken and Banana Pudding.  Hence forth, desserts (rare as hen's teeth around here) will only make occasional appearances on Sundays and feast days.

This year we will take our third go at living with a "food stamps budget."  The average SNAP benefit for a family of 6 is about $925/month, about $5.07 per person per day, so that's what we will go with. In our past experience, we have found we can eat healthy food with no problem, but virtually no eating out and very few convenience foods fit our budget.  I am thinking of adding a new spin this year and paying cash to make it easier to be sure we meet our budget. Our Fast Food Fast for Lent is easier with the Food Stamps Budget; we just don't have the resources to grab that food very often or at all.

I have talked to Sunshine about it; teens need advance notice of such things --but I will talk to the little ones tonight over our simple meal of soup and biscuits. They are still young enough to need reminding about Lent and why we make sacrifices.

Sunshine had a great idea: Near the end of Lent, we will take $100 and use it to distribute food to the homeless in our community. This will be an excellent way to "press out" our sacrifice in a way that our children can relate to. Sunshine has a big heart for the less fortunate. I have a few weeks to figure out how best to accomplish this!

Our family does not typically give up sweets for Lent, but we do cut back on having sweets around the house and available. I'm thinking now of the Girl Scout cookies we just bought and how I'd better put them in the pantry until Sunday. Fortunately, I employed a lot of restraint in my cookie purchases.

Well it is Ash Wednesday so I'd better go fix the Littles some lunches or they will eat chicken nuggets at school!  Does your family observe Lent (or something similar) and if so, do you make a sacrifice as a family?

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Back to Old Town

A couple of months back, it began dawning on me that the charter school was not the right place for Tinker and The Blitz. It was a tough decision for "bloom-where-you-are-planted" me but in the end, we decided to move them back to their home campus of Old Town Elementary.

We have only had good experiences at Old Town. Initially I started Tinker in a charter school for Kinder so she and The Captain would not be in the same school in the same grade. I wanted him to have a chance to blossom on his own. That worked but since this year, The Captain followed me to Forest Creek, the conflict would not be there. 

We moved them over the break and it has been wonderful. Tinker is getting only "good marks" for behavior and The Blitz has had a total turnaround in writing confidence. They needed a chance to succeed; they are too young to give up on school.

Don't misunderstand; I think their charter school is a great school and we loved our teachers there. The teaching methodology was not a good fit, however, for these two early learners. Additionally, I think the numbers of students who were ahead of grade level also impacts the experience for kids like our little guys.

So, for now, la vie en rose!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Auld Lang Syne

Where did the days go?  We are but a few days from the end of the year and I've made nary a post for months.  Thank you, Wilma, for waking me from my reverie.

Huntley Family Reunion -- what a blessing!
I got a new job in August in a Functional Communication classroom of students with autism and that took my focus for September. We then had the supreme pleasure of having my parents nearby for a little over 2 months which was a joy and delight. Then suddenly it was Advent and here we are.  I have little in the way of pictures  to share -- I was technologically challenged for several months --but will end the year with a few sweet notes from Autumn. Guess I need my parents and brothers to send me some photos!  Please forgive me for the really blurry iPod shots! Just a handful of sweet memories!

Pajama day for the Blitz with Ms. Mahoney.  Kinder is the BEST.

Sunshine's first day of school
All the Littles think a "store-bought" veggie tray is a gourmet treat! 

The makings of Thai Salad; just one of a hundred lunches we took to school!

Fancy hair tattoos courtesy of Pepper

Nothing makes us happier than hand-me-downs!

Kindergarten is exhausting!

The Captain's first day of school at Mom's School. 

Pepper's first day of college

Lunchbag. Pepper and I had a one-week before school sewing marathon.  This is the only thing that got photographed!

Fabulous cousin time at our Cousin Camp Family Reunion
It has been a whirlwind few months and I am grateful, grateful as the year draws to a close. I hope your new year is blessed!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Haircuts, a Lunchbox and Other Joys

Pepper is home for the long weekend and I was ever so glad to see her take out the clippers.  She let all the kids pick out their own hair do and they are a bit extreme -- but SO cute.  She did a great job.  Here are the "before," "during" and "afters" of Tink:

The pictures don't do it justice; it's adorable.

Here's the Blitz's new cut; he says we have to call him "Flash" now:

He's not so "Flash"y when he gets home from school. Kindergarten is leaving him completely shagged out.  The other day I went to Weight Watchers and when I got home at 6:30, this is how he was:

Daddy put him to bed and he didn't wake until 5:30 the next morning! Thankfully he'd been fed first!

Here is The Captain with his cool cut. I love his curls but he loves the shaved head.  At least Pepper convinced him to add a little decoration!

Finally, I did squeeze in time to make a new lunchbox from scraps I had around. I priced out new lunch boxes on Amazon and at Target and they are SO expensive!  It's lined in oilcloth and insulated. The total cost was $1 for the drawstring.  I love it because it's big enough for a bento box and a soda standing up.  I bought a book of lunchbox patterns on Kindle.  I'm working on another one now.    Pepper got inspired and made her own but I didn't get a picture and it's at SFA now.