Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Behaivor vs. Consequence

Some of you know I'm currently working on an AA in Early Childhood Education. I really have no desire to become a standard public school teacher at any point, it was honestly just a whimsical choice at the beginning of my studies. It seems that whatever guided me down this path was spot on. Though not for the purpose of educating the masses, the curriculum is helping me discover things about homeschooling and parenting that I had learned but forgotten over the stressful years of schooling, single parenting and birthing many, many kids.

One of the lessons I have re-learned is the value of behaivor versus consequence and the rationalizations of a young mind. Some of you may know this, it might be new to others, and yet still, some may be like me and have learned it but lost the knowledge.

Consequences have no value if they are not directly related to the behaivor.

Read that again.

Absorb it.

Read it a third time if you need to. I did.

I can't tell you how many times I've been at the end of my rope disciplining my kids. I get so frustrated and angry that behaivor correcting becomes reduced to harsh punishment that doesn't correlate to the unacceptable actions. I'm not perfect and that's okay, only if I strive to be better.

Many times I've sent the kids to be early, put them in time out, or taken away privedges based on behaivor I didn't take the time to understand. How can a young mind rationalize that the punishment for not cleaning their rooms when asked becomes early bedtimes? The room is still a mess, going to bed has nothing to do with messy play. And by the time we're done arguing and yelling over their lack of obedience the kids are crying, I'm angry and neither is a good way to form relationships with others. The work will be there in the morning and the consequence if they are still not cleaning will be something dramatically different at nine a.m.

How can a child understand what is expected of them if they haven't been taught? A dog is obedient, a child is not. Yelling and screaming only pushes the young mind to detatch from the present. Long drawn out discussions (which is usually just the parent talking) have them zoning out even if you get a head nod at the appropriate time. A child doesn't learn to obey, they learn to live in a socially acceptable way with those around them based on self control not parental control.

Applying the proper consequence to an undesireable behaivor links the two together in a child's mind. Consistentcy in consequences is another key to helping children understand what is acceptable and what is not. As is realistic parent expectations. These are based on the emotional and physical skill level of the child which you can find information on based on age. These standards can help you determine what is acceptable for you to expect at any given developmental stage and to curb your unrealistic expecations to their level.

The younger the child, the more immediate the consequences should be. Telling a three year old that because they stayed up too late at night last night and therefore needs to go to bed earlier tonight creates confusion and will most likely result in a difficult bedtime. There is too far a space between behaivor and consequence. Though an eight year old might be able to rationalize that consequence.

The goal of consequence (which can be negative or positive) is to create an environment where unacceptable behaivors are undesireable to the child based on experiences that reinforce positive social behaivors. Not based on fear.

Did you get that? They're not based on fear.

Physical or emotional abuse might get your child to respond but they'll be looking for loop-holes. They'll continue the behaivor if they think they can get away with it. There is no inner desire to control behaivor other than fear of punishment which is a whole nother blog post and completely different from consequence.

Punishment and Consequence are not the same.

These past few days I've been really taking a look at how I respond to behaivor in my kids. It's hard to always be patient, loving and kind when I am tired, frazzled and busy. The few additional moments it will take me to properly redirect and apply consequences for undesireable behaivor will save me time later on when they are at a maturity level that has higer self-control.

I urge you to look at your parenting skills and see if there is an area you could brush up on. Becoming parents didn't have our brains automatically downloading The Good Parent Handbook and life can sometimes get in the way of knowledge we've previously accumulated.

Parenting is a full time job, we need to keep current on our skills, recognize when we've lapsed and work towards being the loving, caring parents we know we can be. Remember, we're raising people that will someday be parents themselves our jobs here are crucial.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Awesomeness of Old

We took a trip to Cracker Country for National Smithsonian Museum Day today.

The simplistic beauty of these hundred plus year old homes just speaks to my soul.

I look around and think "Yeah, this is where it's happening. This is the place to be."

The simplistic beauty of purpose is astounding.

It's even better when the kids are completely engrossed.

Especially in a place where hard work is valued, 

and there are no electronics to mollify them.

Friday, September 24, 2010

The next six

My head is close to implosion with everything floating around in there. Part of the problem is the disorganization, clutter and overwhelming amount of stuff that has to get done over the next six months.

There is so much on the plate that has no clear definition or path. Things have to get done but I don't really have a clue as to how to get them checked off my list. I have an overwhelming desire to just sweep everything out and start anew. From scratch. Bare. Pure.

Though I realize that won't fix really any of my problems. No solutions will come from starting over, my issues aren't really with things. It's just something that I can control, is tangible. Six months isn't even a set in stone date. It's just a number I came up with, a passage of time that I feel comfortable with. Something to soothe my frazzled state.

I'm hoping that much of our problems will be done in the next six. I'm hoping at least to have goals and definitions for the myriad of things knocking on my door by that time. Until then, I'm just a hard working hot mess trying to find at least a little joy.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Lights out

A few days ago the usually afternoon shower came by. It's hurricane season which means we get a lot of storms. I love it. The rain is soothing. Hubby and I had even dreamed of moving somewhere more precipitous. Like Ireland or Oregon.

It was dinnertime and the pasta just came off the stove in time for the power to go out. Flickering lights are a given but this time it stayed off for almost an hour. I'm glad I made the soy candles a few months ago. I placed them around the kitchen creating pockets of warm yellow glow. The kids loved it.

But rain deluges don't get me out of homestead chores. The only outside animals are the rabbits. Dinner, for them, still needed to be served. I don't mind the rain but it does put a little note in my mind that when we move I'm sorely unprepared for trekking across marshy meadows. Flipflops on my handmade deck are what works for now. It will come though. Needs will be met as they come.

Which is how I'm trying to take everything. Excitement can make me over-eager to get things before we're ready. It will happen. We'll get on our land where need for true muck boots will be a necessity, not just a vision of things to come. Slowing down and appreciating how things are and how they will be settles my restless heart.

Having the lights out for a short time helped me to see.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Simplicity is Scary

This move has prompted us to radically scale back belongings. Though, for months and years we've been disparaged over our "things". We know they have begun to rule us. Enjoyment is halted, walking is hindered, spaces become confined, money seeps away with the need for "things". Where does the need to have come from? When are we conditioned to need so much?

I surely don't remember being taught consumerism. I suppose, though, that was the point.

Giving up and letting go, thirty years into my life, is scary. I think to myself somewhat silly though valid questions and thoughts.

"What if I need this and can't afford to get another?"

"How will I do things without the proper tools?"

"I spent money on this. Just to give it away seems foolish."

"What if something happens and I don't have what I need?"

"How can I effectively teach our kids with a smaller library of resources?"

Then changing lifestyles comes with it's own need for things. The tools for new trades, new work and self-sufficiency require things that have been needless in our past lives. I find myself buying galvanized tubs, portable water containers and searching for a low priced clothes wringer. Things I have never had use for until now. Unless I give way to the simplification of our other household items, fitting these new utilitarian necessities into our shrinking home is impossible.

Though some things are being switched out for more useful, longer lasting, multipurpose items, the release of things we've grown dependant -but don't need- is still overwhelming and scary. And I will admit there are things I don't want to give up. Things I'm not ready to let go. Each day, week, month brings me closer to finding closure. To understand that giving up doesn't mean having less. Each step towards simplicity brings me a step closer to the things I truly want in life. Even if at first it seems frightening.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Frogger + Pacman + Japan + Toiletries = Awesome.

I stumbled upon this tutorial while searching for a link to send a friend. Instantly, I knew I had to make this bag. I'm going away for my birthday weekend next week and am lacking in the awesome toiletry bag department. Actually, I have no toiletry bag at all, so this was a welcomed project.

The whole thing whipped up in about an hour. Though your time might be significantly less if you're not pausing to wipe yogurt out of someone's hair, changing dirty diapers or chasing children around the house trying to retrieve forks, permanent markers and other random hazards. Even with those distractions, I still ended up with a rockin' bag.

The instructions are straight forward, lots of photos and free. What's not to love? I will say this is fairly small. If you carry a small department store's cosmetics counter with you, you'll need to make a larger bag. I'm not judging, just forewarning. Fortunately, for me, my toiletry needs are simple and sparse; shampoo, spare contacts, toothbrush and deodorant. Easy peasy. And, dare I say, Japaneesy.

I got this fabric as a freebie when I ordered my last shipment of Japanese Lego fabric. It's imported from Japan, is a medium weight cotton canvas and just about the coolest thing ever. How can you not be drawn to the Frogger-Pacman-esque theme? The myriad of dots, stripes, Japanese words I have no idea how to read, and zigzags call out to the primal Eighties era crafter in me. Until now, it had sit in my stash being neglected. I just couldn't figure out what to make with it.

The inside is lined with a scrap piece of orange dots. The zipper was actually an 18" I cut to size and the tabs on the sides are grosgrain ribbon because I didn't feel like making them. I already have plans on making another for sewing stuff.

I love this bag.

Friday, September 10, 2010

I'm broke, leave me alone.

My debit card number got stolen at some point and I there are two charges pending in my bank account that are unaccounted for. My bank is awesome (thanks, USAA!) and have started proceedings to get them off. But now I have to wait for it to get redeposited, wait for a new debit card and get to be paranoid about anything else that happens.

I'm stalking my bank account like a crazed ex.

It's not fun.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

It's not the lighting...

Monday we went to the Aquarium and since it was a holiday, Rob got to go with us. Usually, I'm the only one that gets to take our kids to fun places. It was a nice change. I also made him man the camera. Another change. Finally, I'm in some photos showing that my children do actually have a mother and aren't running wildly over the city by themselves.

But then I got to look at the photos. Oh. Oh, dear. I tried to convince myself that it was the very horrible underwater lighting from the fish tunnel that made the black lines under my eyes.

But the succession of photos (five in all) all show the same thing. When did I get these huge saddlebags under my eyes? When did I become a linebacker? My journey towards thirty (which ends on the 19th) has been a hard thing to swallow. I thought I'd be fine. "Eh, thirty, whatever." I'd catch myself saying when I was closer to twenty-nine. Oh, my naieve younger self!

But I am having a problem with aging. Trying to deny it isn't helping. This life mark, stepping stone, accomplishment, whatever you want to call the turning point of thirty, has my heart clenching regardless of the ridiculousness of it. And I do realize it's a little silly. I still can't help the feeling.

So, I look at my photos. Sometimes. I accept the black bags. Or try to. I stop myself from agonizing over the calendar and my death-march to thirty. Maybe. I take back the camera to hide the aging evidence. Definately.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Gifts for a Girl

I've been keeping this project secret for four days now. I can barely contain myself. I'm actually writing this blog post earlier than I'll post it because I still want it to be secret. After lunch, we're headed to a little girl's birthday party. I've known this little one since she was still gestating in her mama's belly.

I used the pattern in the book One-Yard Wonders. The book is great for fairly simple projects with limited resources.  Unfortunately, the project I picked -the Fabric Dollhouse- wasn't at all simple.

I like to pride myself that I can figure out how to do stuff with minimal directions but this house nearly drove me insane. Though now that I know how to do it, it's actually quite simple.

The hardest part was the lack of measurements and the discrepancy between the house they show you they made and the instructions they provide. Their house has a roof and a garden. The directions have you making a house that's all the same color interior/exterior.

Everything for this I had on hand which is pretty amazing. I even stole photos off the mom's facebook page and printed them on inkjet compatible fabric.

And of course, true to my nature, I didn't add the proper number of button closures and didn't put enough batting in the thing so it's a little delapidated. Things I have learned over the past four days. 1. Don't start a handmade present that requires this much work without at least a weeks notice.  

2. Directions are for suckers.

3. I suck at hand sewing.

4. Don't make fun new projects infront of the same age/gender children you're not giving anything to.
My girls won't stop asking for one now.

I used lots of buttons for embelishments; the rose shaped ones for the rose bushes outside, the flowers in the garden, the door knob on the front door. The rest is pieces cut from wool felt and hand stitched with embroidery floss. The doll is one of my Bestest Friends that I handpainted. There is another girl but she wasn't done "getting dressed".

I hope she likes it.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Makes me laugh every time.

The unsuspecting Jenna gets pounced on while playing outside.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Smithsonian Museum Day Sept 25th

Don't forget to claim your ticket for free admission for one person plus guest valid on September 25th, 2010 from Smithsonian Museum. There are hundreds of museums participating in this program. We're going to use ours to visit Cracker Country, a local Florida Pioneer historical museum.

Last week I won one of Cracker Country's Electronic Field Trip DVD's. With my procrastination issues, giving me a deadline field trip of the 25th to get our lessons in really helps.

What museum are you planning on attending?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

When the Teacher becomes the Student

A new school year has started. This year my oldest would be entering third grade (where did the time go?) I say "would" because he's never been in public school and is not working at a fully third grade level, on a few things he's above. But I can't say he's a third/fouth/fifth grader, I would just confuse people. We have been doing this homeschool thing for four years now and I still have a hard time at times.

Am I doing things right?

Are they learning everything they need?

Will they grow up just as smart as the Valedictorian?

Will not being Valedictoriain or Quarterback or Prom Queen or Class President make them feel like they were left behind? Left out? In any way deprived?

There are times when these questions -and a slew of others- don't even register in my brain. I just know its working out. I know they love their lives and are learning regardless of me drilling them with times tables (which we don't really do). I know it because they surprise me with their knowledge.

Imagine this, I am with them 24/7, I oversee everything they have exposure to and dole out what they require for learning on a daily basis and they astonish me with the words that come out of their mouthes.  They know things I didn't know they had a clue about.

I must be doing something right if they learn after the text books are put away for the day. That makes me proud, confident, happy.

But it's not always like that, it hasn't always been that way. I will admit that I am a perpetual planner. I plan, plan, plan and then plan some more. Make lists, do research, make a budget sheet but my fault comes with follow through. Life gets in the way. I have so many brilliant ideas for teaching, field trips to go on and assignments to work that I fall short of actually implementing many of these mind-blowing learning adventures. I'm disappointed in myself for this personal fault.

I'm not perfect, I get that. But I want to be for my kid's educational sake's. When I'm not, I pound hard blows to my own confidence in teaching.

It's a weakness I desperate to work through. I need to work on just getting up and going and seeing where we end up instead of working out how each step will be made to get there.

Teaching my children has opened up so much about my own experiences in public school. I remember my own reasons for being a "gifted" student and getting straight A's and it wasn't because I craved learning. It was to get the emotional pat on the back from those I felt were superior. Once I didn't desire that emotional bolstering learning fell away and I didn't want to be apart of the system anymore. So, at fifteen I dropped out. Learning left me for a long time.

The current educational system leads us to believe that after formal education is completed for the day, the year, at graduation, that learning is done. Our brains are "allowed" to turn off and tune out. Learning after regulated school days comes with stigmatisms of "overachiever" or "nerd". Learning has become a punishment for acedemic fulfillment.

I eventually went back to highschool and got my diploma but it was just a task to be completed. I was always good at workbook pages. Since teaching my own children I have re-learned learning though it has been a hard emotional process to endure. I am still finding out things about myself and my desires that I need to work through. I want to know things now. I want to engross myself in things that interest me. I get excited over things and love the ability to explore them in as much depth as I want. I find myself getting overly animated and unable to stop talking when someone tips the lid on something I'm learning about. I have the enthusiasm and drive that I see in my own children's eyes when they tell me about something they've uncovered.

I have become childish in my learning. And it's a very good thing. It's also opened my patience to listen whole heartedly when they come to me explaining at length their newest discovery in minute detail.

I never want my children to have to re-learn their love of exploration and education. Hindsight has allowed me the gift of understanding. Self-honesty has shown me my weaknesses and has given me an opportunity to work towards strengthing them. Homeschooling has blessed me with the gift of becoming the student.