Let’s Read!

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When I was a child, I had very few friends. What I did have though, were books. I would spend all of my free time laying on my bed, snuggling my cat Bootsin, and reading the newest book to hit my library. I remember one time in fourth grade I stayed up all night to finish The Guardian from Nicholas Sparks in one sitting. I bawled my eyes out, threw it across the room more than once, and still remember the emotions I felt reading that incredible book.

Caleb seems to be following in my book loving footsteps, and that makes me so excited. Every night he grabs his Daddy Hugs book by Karen Katz, and he reads it with Corey. He’s learned how to count to ten with that book, and understands what each of those numbers mean. Throughout the day, he will grab many books for us to read together. He’s a big fan of “First Word” books, because he likes to identify items. Recently he has started reading very basic words (cat, hat, all, ball, etc.) so we’ve started working on the kind of books that have about three words each page, and many words are repeated. He’s loving it. He’s also picked up quite a few sight words, such as “pizza.” Last night, Corey brought home a pasta meal that said Pizza on the box. The box had no hints that it was pizza flavored, but Caleb saw the world and started cheering for “zaza!”

For Christmas Santa brought him something fantastic, and I so wish I had a picture of his face opening it. He was grinning from ear to ear when he opened up the Big Book of Booboos (Doc McStuffins) from V-tech. He loves Doc, but this is a really fantastic tool as well. There are multiple settings. One teaches the words, another teaches the first letter, and then there is a game setting to test these things. Each page has a sentence about the section, which when touched will read aloud what it says. It’s in book form, and a real favorite around our house now. I love toys like this that help inspire reading skills!

I’m not a fan of forced reading, and I don’t expect him to read proficiently any time in the next few years. Reading is about finding a world besides our own, learning many different things and hobbies, and also spending time with those we love. Reading is about experiencing something that we don’t always have access to. We can learn new skills, find inspiration, and reading can even influence our future.

There is a man named William Kamkwamba from Dowa, Malawi who was too poor to attend school. This didn’t stop him from borrowing books from the library, and teaching himself to build a windmill from spare parts. That windmill brought electricity to his whole village, and earned him many scholarships and grants to attend college. I highly recommend his Ted Talk. Reading helped this man create an incredible life for himself!

To end this post, I’d like to share some of my favorite tips for reading and early literacy. If you have any book recommendations, please share them with me!

  1. Make sure books are always available by setting up a book shelf in every room, including the bathroom.
  2. There are many phone apps with interactive books, similar to leap frog’s old reading systems. My favorite, which I currently only have the trial for, but will be investing in around income tax time, is called “Endless Reader.”
  3. Both sight words and phonetics are important. Sight words for important things you see everyday, but phonetics allow you to read anything and everything.
  4. My favorite beginning reading tip… When learning the alphabet, you can start with the names of the letters, but even better is to teach the letters as sounds.
  5. Breakfast time is a great time to read. Set up a small magazine rack by your table, and you’ll always have something even more interesting than the cereal box.
  6. Let your children see you reading. If they see that you love it, they will too!
  7. Most importantly… it is okay if your child won’t sit down while you’re reading out loud to them. Let them play or run around. Just keep reading! Reading is fun, and shouldn’t be turned into a chore.
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Respect Begets Respect

I strongly believe that the word respect has two very different meanings. Some people use the word in the context of treating others compassionately, or as they would like to be treated no matter what their sexual orientation, gender, race, or economic status is. The other definition, one that is truly cruel, is that some people deserve to be treated better than others, and if they aren’t treated that way, they will then in turn not treat others as even human.

I refuse to let my son grow up believing the second. How will I do that? By respecting him. I will show him what respect truly looks like, because I don’t want him growing up feeling like he is ever worth less than the next person.

In our home, respect is simple. Before anyone does anything, we think of how it will effect someone else. We show a little compassion, and with it comes respect. Manners also play a big part in how we treat one another. If Caleb says please, the chances of us doing something for him go up. We never had to teach him to say please, but instead from day one when we wanted something from him we would say please and thank you as well. His fourth word, was really two words, and was “thank you.” That says a lot.

We also respect his autonomy. He’s still working on that with us, but I have great faith that by us giving it to him, he will in turn give it to us. If he doesn’t want hugs or kisses, we don’t force them. He doesn’t need to sit next to us if he doesn’t want to. We ask, or in important and much needed cases explain why we have to, before diaper changes. Giving him that respect, we’re teaching him that he has control over his own body. In the future that can only aid him when it comes time for romance, or the unfortunate sexual attack. Teaching him to respect his own body as well as others starts from infancy.

Another area we work hard on to show respect is during discipline. We try as hard as possible not to yell, and we do not hit. You can’t teach a child not to do these things by turning around and doing them. Children learn by example. Instead, as we would with any adult, if Caleb has done something wrong we pull him to the side, remove him from the area he’s misbehaving in, and explain what he’s doing wrong. We do not shout, we do not hit, but instead we change the circumstance and ability to get into trouble. Occasionally there will be a tantrum. We pick him up and give him a hug until he’s able to calm himself down and talk about why he can’t do what he’s been doing. Sometimes he doesn’t want that talk, so we let him lay on the ground or sit in a chair until he calms himself. The beauty of it all, is that it works. He learns, not because he’s afraid of us, but because we took the time to explain. We don’t judge him as bad because he’s doing something we don’t like. Instead, we take the time to teach him what to do instead. These fits or moments in general are so rare, because of the mutual respect we have for each other.

Respect means that every person (big or small, black or white, poor or rich) deserves to be treated the same way we would like to be treated. Not only is it respectful, but the only way to be truly ethical.

Colors and Counting: Pompom Edition!

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The Dollar Tree is this magical place where home-schoolers and parents go to buy ridiculous quantities of craft supplies, and educational aids. On one memorable trip I walked by bags of 80 pompoms. I may or may not have grabbed five bags… 400 pompoms seems reasonable right? Right?

Now the only question was what to do with these pompoms? Thus the colors, counting, and pompoms game was created! Super simple prep. I took six Styrofoam plates, drew bubble numbers with corresponding circles (aka 2 circles on the plate with the 2, 3 circles on the plate with the 3, etc…), and colored the circles on each plate with a color of pompom. I laid a platter with the pompoms in the middle of the living-room, surrounded by the plates, and Caleb jumped right in. Watching him use his fine motor skills to place the correct color of each pompom on its proper circle was so much fun. We named each color as he put it down, and talked about adding easy numbers.

I totally recommend this activity any time. You could put Velcro on the plates and pompoms so they don’t move around so much.Do as many plates as you want, multiple colors, and any size pompoms. There are so many great options and it’s a very low cost activity with lots of “educational areas” being covered. Enjoy!

The Dirty Truth About Menstruation after Childbirth

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EDIT: This is just one case. No, not everyone has a period like this once they give birth. This was written because many women have this experience and it can be scary. Everyone is different. Do not take this as, YOU WILL HAVE THIS.

Oh my goodness. They don’t warn you about this. No one talks about it. No one wants to talk about it but gosh do I wish I had known what would or even could happen once I finally got my period back. Let me just tell you, this is not the kind of post you want to read if you have a sensitive stomach or you are squeamish but it is something you should read if you are or soon will be pregnant.

Thanks to breastfeeding I got a wonderful extra seven months of no period. It was wonderful. When I finally did get it though I had no idea what was going on and found myself in the ER. I was convinced I had internal bleeding or even that I had been pregnant some how and was miscarrying. Thankfully neither were true, which we found out after four hours, and it was just a period.

Here’s what you can expect:

-VERY heavy bleeding; don’t be surprised if you soak a pad within two hours

-An insane amount of clotting; it’s like you’ve just given birth and the clots are still coming out

-Watery gushes of blood

-Extreme cramping

It might be scary, and I can guarantee it will be gross and a pain in the neck, but it’s normal and will eventually get better. Sadly tampons tend not to work anymore (they either soak too fast or they fall out) and pads have to be the super kind. The worst thing for me is sleep. I have to get up every few hours just to go to the bathroom, gush blood into the toilet because my body doesn’t let it all out while I sleep, and change my pad.

Some things I’ve found that helps:

-Take Ibuprofen every few hours to slow down the bleeding and help cramps

-Take a short walk

-Relax; take a nap when your little one naps

-Eat foods that are less gassy; avoid dairy and some vegetables

If anything seems off to you, don’t be afraid to go into the doctors though. Just know that it is NORMAL to bleed so much and to pass so many clots. Also, it can last MUCH longer. My second period lasted almost three weeks and was terrible. My first only lasted two weeks and this third one I’m hoping for a much shorter time till the bleeding stops but thankfully Ibuprofen makes it much more bearable.

Thanks For Reading Everyone! Hope This Helps!

How to Not Raise a Princess (or in my case, Prince)

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^^ My Friend’s ADORABLE 13 month Princess ^^

Children do not spoil, food does. That doesn’t mean you can’t accidentally entitle children causing them to believe the world revolves around them and that they will always get exactly what they want. Here are three easy steps to avoiding this.

1) Don’t make your child share and don’t let them expect other children to share with them. I went on a play date recently and Caleb’s friend, who is two and a half, was playing with a doll. Caleb wanted it and went to grab it from her. Her mother jumped to tell her to share and I said no. Don’t worry about it. It’s her’s. I don’t want Caleb to think that just because he wants something, he will get it. That isn’t how life works. You don’t get a car that belongs to someone else just because you want it. There were plenty of other toys so I just redirected him and he was fine. She was a happy little girl because her toy, that belongs to her, wasn’t taken away from her. She was already sharing all of her other toys and that is going above and beyond to be gracious in my mind. I wouldn’t want my one special thing taken away either.

2) Don’t be afraid to say no. I know, shocking after my introducing the idea of no post. It’s true though. Sometimes you just have to put your foot down. Times for that are like when you’re in a store. If your child is screaming for a cookie, and they’ve already had enough sugar, tell them no. Don’t reward screaming and disrespect. Instead, because we all know that the screaming doesn’t stop just because you say no, redirect. I talk about it again and again. Offer something healthy if you can afford it. Oh look at this super awesome apple. Honey you can pick out something yourself if you want but it can’t be a cookie and you can’t eat it right now. This way, their want is understood but you are leading to a better decision.

3) Money is not the only thing that makes a child happy and more over it shouldn’t be the main source of their happiness. Sadly, so many parents use money to stop crying and to make up for lost time. That’s the best way to make a child spoiled because they will forever need more to fill a much more important spot in their life. Kids don’t naturally want stuff. They just want you! The more QUALITY you time they have the less material items will mean. This means that even if you work, the time you have with them matters. Cuddling, talking, asking questions, can make your child feel loved and wanted and that need for things doesn’t even come up.

 Thank You for Reading and Good Luck My Lovely Readers

Music is an Amazing Tool

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A woman named Sharon Novak, who is a children’s song writer and performer, post a great article on her website that inspired me. Her article was about the value of group music classes for toddlers. I will link to her post at the end but I’m writing today because I’ve been inspired. Music has a great teaching value on Toddlers, but also has an amazing affect on milestones for babies.

The picture above is a great example of this. Corey sat on one side of the bongo, Caleb on the other, and Corey would hit his side. After watching his daddy made the sounds, Corey would copy him. He was still so little then and it helped him learn how to use his hands. It was a real cause and effect and a great bonding moment for them as well.

Even from birth music helps with the littlest, most important things. There was this amazing study done on premature babies. When given a pacifier it would activate lullabies to be played. They would calm considerably. These babies that were played the music had an even more amazing result though. They began to gain weight much quicker than their NICU counterparts.

Playing music has been shown to improve math skills. The best time to try getting a person into learning something new is when they are a baby and their interests are just now being developed. This can be as simple as a toy guitar or drum. It’s something to make them interested in learning the real thing in the future.

Another bonus is speech development. Lullabies are great because they often show simple rhyming patterns and have a lot of repetition. Like with anything, repetition is the way to learn how to speak. When a child hears the word moon over and over they start trying to say this interesting and wonderfully sung word. I personally learned how to sign through songs. I would pick a song, learn the signs to it, and later I’d remember the signs because of the song. It’s like learning a dance. It’s always easier with the music.

The real point is, bring music into your baby’s life. It can be a great way to bond and soothe your child. Caleb HATES being on changing tables. Sometimes in public we have to use them. The only way I can keep him calm is by singing Let it Go. He will smile up at me and I can get the job done.

Thank You for Reading!

http://www.musicforkidswithsharonnovak.com/news-from-sharon/the-value-of-group-classes-for-toddlers/

Peacefully Disciplining a Toddler

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^^ My Friend’s Adorable Three Year Old ^^

Today I was asked by someone on another site, “How Do You Discipline Toddlers?” I’m sure you all know that I don’t have one but what you don’t know is that I have a pretty good answer and many good role models to help me answer this question. No matter what age, this is a good way to look at it, but toddlers bring a whole different factor in, and that is their inability to understand that they are doing anything wrong.

Between the ages of two and four the main thought process a toddler has is based on discovery. Cause and effect play into a lot of what they do. If they wear this outfit, crazy as it is, they thought it was pretty and people will applaud them for it. This helps develop their ability to make decisions but their bases on that decision is impulse versus background knowledge. They don’t consider that pink and purple go well together because they are complimentary or considered girly. They simply see it, think ooo pretty, and put it on.

This goes right along with them “misbehaving.” I can’t use the words “being bad.” No child is bad. Children do not mean to give us a hard time, they simply have a hard time themselves. There are only so many words they can use to describe their feelings and needs and this often produces a lot of frustration. One way to get that frustration out is by “acting out” in their own way which can show in a tantrum or doing an action they have been told not to just to get your attention.

Rather than telling these children, who have feelings and just want your love and attention, that they are bad, the absolute best way to remedy a situation is to redirect. If they are throwing a fit ask them why. Try to understand what the problem is. Ask questions. Are you hungry? Are you hot? Are you tired? Is there a different game you would like to play? Children often get overwhelmed trying to figure out what they want so if you give them options at least they have a base to try to explain what is going on with them. If this doesn’t work and they continue having a hard time, it is your job to make the decision for them to do something else. Set them up with something fun. Completely ignore what they were doing before and show them something productive and fun that they can do instead.

Something I’ve seen work wonders is the “Relaxing Jar.” You take a mason jar, fill it with water, a bunch of glitter glue, regular glitter in different sizes and shapes, and a squirt of food coloring. These work instead of time outs. They are not a punishment. They are a way to let the child chose to calm themselves down. You let them hold the jar and turn it upside down. Ask them to watch the glitter fall from one side all the way to the bottom. It’s amazing how quickly the child will get focused on it and forget there even was a problem. I’d say this is a last choice for me because I’d prefer to fix the situation and validate the child rather than just distract them but whatever works for you instead of getting mad is great.

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Once your child is older you can restrict things. They will be old enough to understand why you are doing it. At the toddler age though, the only thing taking away their property does or putting them in a corner does is create resentment. They aren’t thinking, oh I did this so now I’m in trouble. They are simply thinking, mommy and daddy are mean. This makes them much less likely to want to come to the parent when they do need help because they don’t trust they are going to get what they need or the respect/validation they crave.

So, take some time to help your child work through their troubles instead of putting on the dictatorship hat. It will benefit you both by removing the frustration from the situation. Kids are not out to manipulate or hurt you. They are so much more innocent than that. They are just learning how to act, so give them a good role model to learn from.

Thank You for Reading!

 

Cry it Out? No Thank You!

cioThis is one post when I have to admit, I am judging you if you do use the cry it out method. I’ll be honest. I’m 100% against it. There are zero positives in support of it. On the other hand there are a billion reasons why you shouldn’t use it and there are many other ways to soothe a baby in a healthy and supportive way that helps build confidence rather than making them miserable.

I’ve talked about my son being confident. He is held, coddled, breastfed, worn, and shown love whenever he needs it. When he would “fuss” before a nap or when he’s tired I would rock him and soothe him. Then, he’d go to sleep. Why would he not fight it? Because I didn’t force him to. I didn’t say, I’m the parent and the boss and you have to sleep right at this moment so I’ll make you stay in here alone to cry which does nothing but upsets you more and lose trust in me knowing I wont come give you the soothing you are begging for. Instead, because I would go to my fussing child, who like any baby knows that mommy or daddy is the most important person in their life, he realized that he could trust me to make him feel better. A baby’s natural instinct is to need mom and dad. They aren’t being bad. They don’t know any better and why would they? They spent the first nine months of their life inside of mom. Why would they know the outside would be any different? They wouldn’t. My son knows that he can go off and play but if he is hungry or tired his needs will be met right away because I’ve gained that trust and through it he has gained the confidence to not need to be in my arms 24/7. He doesn’t have to fight for it so doesn’t seem so needy.

Here on the other hand are a few of the terrible affects Cry it Out can have on a child:

1) Science has proven that excessive crying causes blood pressure to rise causing the blood to flow slower through the brain and make it so much harder to breath for the child permanently. Science also shows that parents who use the CiO method are 10x more likely to have children that develop ADHD.

2) The emotional and physical development can be stunted making it harder for them to become independent people.

3) The saddest in my opinion, is that although the crying may eventually stop, it isn’t because the needs or problem have been resolved. The crying stops because baby has given up hope. All this does is create a distant child who isn’t close with their parents.

4) There is no parent child trust relation. The child is less likely to come to the parent in time of need. This includes when they are a teenager in danger of going down the wrong path.

5) When you don’t respond to cries the child becomes less self assured. This has been shown to stop them from becoming more out going, creative, popular, and well-adjusted people.

6) Half of the time, it doesn’t work at all. The baby will just keep going, crying on and on, creating much more stress for everyone involved.

7) Even if it “works” it isn’t a permanent fix. Parents have to do it again and again, listening to their child suffer over and over.

8) Children have the same feelings we do. Just because we think they wont remember ten years from now doesn’t mean those feelings of abandonment wont hurt them over time.

9) Something terrifying is that the rate of SIDs goes up with cry it out families. Due to the crying causing stress and trauma, children often fall into a deeper sleep and stop breathing. Not only are they in their own sleep space where you risk not catching it, but it’s much more likely to happen.

Now, I understand that not everyone is going to co-sleep. I understand not everyone will find their grove. But please, don’t let your baby cry it out. There is no benefit. It is completely unnatural and it’s a real way to torture your child with. I can tell you first hand that the CiO method does not work the way so many people believe it does. Instead it makes life harder in all aspects. You will have a fussier, less energetic and confident child on your hands. Just give the peaceful approach a try. I know you have things you have to get done and that nap and bed time can be important, but over all shouldn’t your child come first?

Thanks for Reading Everyone. Let Me Know What You Think.

“When Are You Going to Give Him Real Food?” – The Question that Doesn’t Stop

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I hear it pretty much every time I nurse my LITTLE man in public. People always assume that all I do is give him the boob and in a way they are right. What they are wrong about is my almost nine month old needing to eat solids the same way we do.

Breast Milk has every single nutrient that your baby needs. This includes iron. This includes Vitamin D. Even though doctors will tell you, without testing your little bundle of joy, that they need to supplement those vitamins, they are incorrect. Breast Milk will always be the most complete source of nutrients that you can give your child. More over, the WHO recommends that you breastfeed for a minimum of two years. That means, don’t stop at one. Don’t even stop at two. Just go as long as you can. Once they start loosing teeth then you really do have to stop or the sugar in your milk will rot their teeth. Other than that though, feel free to nurse your child.

The thing is though, I didn’t want to force food on my child. On the other hand, Caleb loves food. So yes, I don’t take out a jar of baby food wherever we are to feed him. Even if I did, Caleb wouldn’t eat it. He hates Purees now. If I am eating in public then my son will eat whatever we eat. I hand him some, he does what he can with it, and we call it good. If we are eating dinner at home, he gets his own portion. He’s constantly eating. It’s our choice though to have the boob always come first. Until my son turns one, or maybe a little longer, I’ll be giving him my booby milk as his main source of food. That is my choice.

You all have a choice as well. You could feed your child every meal and use baby food and what not. That’s okay too. It’s what you and your child are comfortable with. We are comfortable with the way we do it and it’s just one more way for us both to be comfortable.

Thank You for Reading!

The Forced Stay at Home Mummy

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About two weeks ago a friend of mine (who along with her family is pictured above) posted a link on Facebook about being forced into being a stay at home mom. It really got me thinking and sympathizing. This isn’t something I have to worry about. It’s not something that affects my family but for so many people, not just moms, it really can be hard on them.

For me, I’ve always wanted to be a stay at home mom and luckily have a man behind me that wants that as well. When people ask me why I don’t work sometimes I lie. I’ll tell them that it is more cost effective, that we can’t afford child care, that I’d only make enough to pay for day care and what’s the point of that. Even though for me it’s really just an excuse to spit out for the more judgmental people, for a lot of women it’s the truth.

On average in America day care costs around $200 a week. The average pay check for a WOMAN, yes this is specifically for a woman because we are still paid less than men, for a part time job is $225. By the time you pay for transportation to and from work and day care, extra snacks, possibly formula, and clothes that extra $25 is more than spent. In fact, you might just be in the negative. Because of this there is a shocking amount of mothers being forced to stay home.

Then someone brought up state assistance. It’s hilarious how many people insist that if you’re broke enough to not afford child care you will get assistance. The issue is that the state doesn’t just look at mom’s income. Dad could be making $450 every two week and that small amount of money would disqualify you from state assistance. So lets look at that. $750 for rent, and you’re making $900 a month. $100 for heat and electric. $50 for food, transportation, paper products… there is no extra money. So of course this leaves it up to the mother to stay home at least until the child goes to school; or never if you’re homeschooling like me.

This is the part that I really had to think about though. Why wouldn’t someone want to be a stay at home mom? Well, that was a dumb question for me to be asking. Just because this is what I love to do, even I need a break sometimes. Some days when my son goes down for a nap, if his dad is here, I’ll go for a walk. An hour is long enough for me to clear my head and feel like an adult again but some people really need more than that and they need to feel like what they are doing is more. Working a job, especially one you’ve spent so much time going to school for, is what some people are meant to do. I’d rather mothers go to work and put their children in day care so that they have the calm and patience to come home to these kids and really get the most out of them. I’ve had cousins who I really wished would go to work and let someone more qualified raise their children.

I’m not saying that all the moms who want to work are not ready for kids constantly or bad moms or anything like that. I’m just saying that sometimes when you get your choices taken away it can put a huge strain on you. When you once had all the ambition in the world to do this specific job or go to school and that choice is taken away, some resentment is going to build up one way or another. That’s an unfortunate truth of today’s economic circumstances.

Thank You as Always for Reading! Tell Me What You Think!