Monday, February 20, 2017

Why we will always read with our kids!!!

Some of the things books have taught us…

1.     Attention span
I have a three-year-old, five-year-old and a six-and-a-half year-old. Their ability to sit and listen to books is not the same but reading books has grown their ability to sit quietly and listen. Reading during breakfast and lunch gives them extra motivation to stay at the table and eat. It helps give them focus when they are distracted and aimless.

2.     Facts about specific subjects
There are so many great STEM picture books for kids that give them facts in a story telling style and introduce them to weather, animals, history and physics using correct terminology.  fit We don’t always read picture books sometimes we read Wikipedia pages and let them ask questions about what they are interested in. When we are able to explore their interests it gives them an appetite to learn and to listen and to discover and eventually to read for themselves!

3.     Vocab words
I don’t simplify the words I read the big ones and then pause to ask them what they mean. They often can tell me because they are learning the words in context. I frequently hear all three of my kids using words that surprise other adults (ie: calamity) and have to explain that they learned it in a book.

4.     Geography
Books take place all over the world and introduce us to animals that don’t live in our backyard, new traditions or locations my kids hadn’t heard of. We go look on the map to see where these places are or where these animals live. Books inspire new conversations and questions that allow our children to explore the world.

5.     Languages (French and Spanish)
I was never gifted in foreign language but want my children to hear and know other languages. Books help us both! We love the Fancy Nancy books for introducing French words. High Five magazine has a story article each month that includes Spanish sentences and gives the pronunciation. These books and articles use simple words that we can easily use throughout our day.

6.     Family quiet time
We are high energy, loud and active during most moments of the day which wears this mama out! Similar to all kids of various ages they all want to do something different with me at the exact time during the day. Unless, I pull out a stack of books, then everyone is “on the same page” (bad joke?!). As nap times slowly fades from our reality and bed times are a little later we still need a rhythm of rest to our days and I still need some quiet. Reading books together has become a family activity we can all enjoy together. We also use audio books when we need quiet time in separate rooms.

We read at the typical times of the day, before rest time/naps and before bed. But we also are reading during breakfast, lunch and many times in between. For us it is how we get through sick days, snow days, rainy days, sunny afternoons when we are tired from playing outside all morning, long days, airplane rides, grocery store trips, road trips…see? BOOKS!!!!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

My thoughts on sleep

I can be opinionated and sensitive but laid back about many things. My kids regularly play in mud, run around the back yard naked in the hose, we have dance parties in the middle of Kroger because it's a good song and my son is regularly seen in a spiderman costume. However, I lay my foot down about sleep...EVERY TIME!

When I was pregnant with our now six-year-old I read a book about sleep (Healthy sleep habits, happy child). I know there are differing views on crying it out, sleep training, and the best bed time. There are lots of books written that tell you what to do but few tell you why. The book I read taught about the science of sleep: why we need it and how the brain develops with it and without it. Before it told me what to do it explained the whys of sleep. For me this changed the game. It educated me on sleep so that I could make decisions for my kids, for myself and for caregivers and I knew why I was doing it that way. I knew how to problem solve issues as they arose at different ages, in different locations or busy seasons. It made me feel like an expert in one area. I am not an expert really in anything and as a new mom I felt so lost and clueless about my new role. But, I knew exactly how I felt about sleep and why that was the important issue for me that everything revolved around.

Our house still revolves around sleep. Wake time, nap time, bed time, is something that gets evaluated and taken into account for lots of decisions made throughout the day. It empowered me to know what my kids needed and why. It helped me show them grace when I wanted to give up, it helped me create a normal for them when everything else happening was far from normal.

I have seen them respond well to sleep. Bed time is not the worst time of our is one of the best. We still have rest time and for me that is such a lovely expected routine. On weekends I nap! On weekdays I work or shower or get much needed quiet time while the older two to play games or listen to audio books in their rooms. Sometimes it allows me one-on-one time with them.

I often have friends whose babies aren't sleeping call me with questions. I love the puzzle of putting together sleep problems, of thinking through the small things that make big differences, and of encouraging them that sleepless nights aren't forever. When we are tired we forget that things will change, that they will grow...we feel out of control. My kids feel the same way. When they are tired they can't obey well, learn well, play well. Their emotions, just like mine, get the better of them!

Many nights my kids are in bed before 7 PM and my husband and I follow close to 9 PM, sometimes earlier. I have very early risers and and wake time is not something you can change very often. However tonight we are in new territory. My three-year-old isn't napping anymore so rest time is looking different but he fell asleep today and that throws off bedtime. There are many odd situations for us this month. Knowing how much sleep my kids need has helped me create a schedule for them in this month of abnormally. Understanding why my youngest is still awake at 9:30 PM helps me show him grace, go with the flow (not something I am great at) and speak the truth to myself that he isn't awake because I have no discipline in putting him in bed.

There are not many things that I am strict about with our kids but sleep is one that I need and they need! Hope I get some tonight and I hope you do too ;)

Monday, February 13, 2017

Messy Mondays: The Bed

I love organization, everything having a home. When you put something away and need it an hour later or a day later you know exactly where it is. It removes chaos and additional time on wild goose chases hunting that spiderman sock, the purple sunglasses or the left tennis shoe!

Our kids are great at picking up messes when reminded it is a constant conversation as they run around toys, books, clothes in hand and like a tornado leave them in a maze of a path all over the house.

So I have chosen specific areas to focus on...

Shoes go by door
Books go on the shelf
Clothes go in drawer

Those are the things I say on repeat hoping that they will sink in and when they become a habit I will give them a new area to master. For many people a made bed is on their priority list but for me it is not. In this season we climb into bed often throughout the day to read stacks of books, the kids snuggle in my bed and watch a show so I can shower, they have rest time with books and toys in their bed each afternoon and in those fit-throwing-need-an-attitude-change moments in between they are sent to their beds to calm down.

Our beds are a place of rest and comfort for them, though not always for me. This week my bed is being shared by little people who fling their arms around my neck at midnight, kick their legs over me at 2 a.m. and sneak in at 3 a.m. to scream themselves back to sleep. It isn't so restful and it is messy. But I am choosing to see the beauty in the mess: the snuggles, the calm quiet of the dark, the joy of stacks of books read, Lego played with, and audio books listened to. Sharing life with kids is messy and it stretches me daily to choice joy in the midst of chaos!

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Smiling not surviving!!!

Do you find yourself wanting a treat at the end of the day? Like payment for a job well done?!

Worked out...check.
Made grocery list...check.
Made three different breakfasts all to order...check.
Kept kids alive...check.
Got 3 kids down for rest time...check.
Folded and put away 5 baskets of laundry...check.
Brushed kids teeth...check.
Taught 2-year-old to count...check.

At the end of our days we are exhausted. Physically from being up for long hours on our feet, emotionally from teaching little ones how to experience their emotions and communicate well, spiritually from being lonely or having little time to ourself. Often this exhaustion can lead us to a place of defeat. We see all the unaccomplished tasks, we see the times we lost our patience or chose to look at our phones instead of a face...we finish the day seeing our failures. We sink into the couch in an last ditch effort for me time and pour a glass of wine or scoop a bowl of ice cream as if to reward ourselves for surviving the day.

But, what if our glass of wine at the end of the day wasn't a reward for tasks completed but a celebration?

A celebration of all that you did accomplish. A celebration of how you succeeded today despite the distractions, despite the interference, despite not finishing that task list and despite wearing heels while you vacuumed you still loved your family well.

Was patient with two-year-old when I wanted to scream...cheers!
Finally saw my six-year-old understand his screaming was an over-reaction...cheers!
Made kids a priority over task list...cheers!
Laughed with my kids...cheers!
Disciplined my kids instead of ignoring them...cheers!
Welcomed my husband home with a smile...cheers!

A celebration not of surviving but of smiling alongside your kids in the midst of all the mess!

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Find me on Scary Mommy today

I am writing today on Scary Mommy; a great blog that unites women in motherhood as we navigate this crazy, awesome, complicated land of motherhood. Join us and read along, here!!!

Scary Mommy

Monday, January 23, 2017

Long haired boys

I didn’t give birth to three kids who look alike. They aren’t all the spitting image of my husband or myself and they don’t look like each other. They are as different in eye color, skin color and hair as they are in personality. I like that they look different, I like that they are different. It reminds me daily that we were not created the same. That we all reflect the image of God in various ways and what a beautiful picture we all make together. There are similarities in us as a family, there are traits and emotions that run through us all and we have to learn and fight them together! But the differences are so interesting to me. They remind me we are not all created the same, that God loves me as an individual, that He forgives all my sins of yelling at my kids, being selfish with my time, and giving my husband the silent treatment. He died for each individual sin and each unique person.

My children’s hair reflects their opposite personalities. A boy with red, wavy hair; a girl with straight blond hair, a boy with curly light brown hair. All different, all interesting all beautiful to me. But, why do we define beauty in such narrow terms? Skinny is more beautiful than heavy. Long is more beautiful than short. Blonde’s do not actually have more fun! We do the same thing in gender. Now, I am not getting political or hippie. I am pretty conservative on all things (see church going, homeschooler…ha!) but I have boys with long hair. It doesn’t touch their shoulders but it is longer than their ears. I made a choice, it isn’t laziness or busy schedules. We aren’t avoiding getting it cut.

Why is this a discussion for on lookers every time we leave the house? We regularly hear “what beautiful hair she has?” as my loud three-year-old boy runs around in red boots and a superman costume, ringlets bouncing through the grocery store. Now, I know plenty of girls who wear superman costumes and red rain boots. But, if we are going to make a guess at a child’s gender why is the hair the signal?

I believe God created us as men and women, boys and girls purposefully. I believe we are created equal in value but different in nature and physics and there is beauty in those differences. So let us be different and not defined. My boys are going to have long hair until they decide otherwise, we might dye it colors, or hide it under a hat but I know it’s different and I know it’s beautiful and I know I need simple things like hair and smiles and red rain boots to remind me of the Creator!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Multitasking Survival Skills

We all have lots to accomplish in a day, people needing us, projects we want to create, time we need to spend on too many things. This week has been so good for me to explore what I spend my time on and how that affects me and my family. There are lots of times we have to multitask. There are parts of life that are routine and habit. Those habits we tend to tune out and do in our sleep.

A new challenge arises when we are doing things out of our routine. So, be confidant in  multitasking when it is routine. When you are unloading the dishwasher, cooking dinner and playing with the dog at the same time. When you are folding laundry and playing charades with your kids (oh, just me?). We all handle things differently and can take on more or less than others and that is the beauty of being created as an individual.

If you are creating new habits that need attention and focus here are some of my mom survival skills

Survival Tips

11. Have your kids pick a puzzle, book or playdough to play with at the kitchen table while you are cooking dinner. When our kids were 2 and 3 this was scissor time and gave them something to look forward to and more desire to stay put! Our favorites are… 

22. Getting everything ready to leave the house is typically a scramble. Get your kids ready and then give them a consistent waiting spot with a task. Ours choice is they pick a book and sit on the couch “reading” until we are ready (less than 10 minutes).

33. Work together. I often feel that I don’t have time to clean the house because I don’t want to put my kids in front of a movie to clean for an hour. I have found small tasks that they can do without me (wipe down a bathroom sink, dump trashcans into a larger bag, put small items back where they go) and bigger tasks to do together (vacuum, dust, unload dishwasher). We talk about how we are going to all work together and then we are all going to stop and play together!

44. Don’t underestimate their ability to sit still for a short period of time. While I vacuum their bedroom they all sit on the bed (less than 2 minutes).

55. TV shows also have a place for this. You pick the show and make it an educational one like Wild Kratts, Octonauts or Leapfrog. This helps me stay focused also because it gives me a time limit to complete the shower, cooking, or cleaning and then I know I need to be done.