Monday, March 31, 2008

Teacher's Pet

What can I say?? Homeschooling is really working!! :)

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Parenting 101

Lately, I have been scouring my parenting books. Ya know when you first become a parent...or even earlier, when you first become pregnant you get all excited and start buying and reading any parenting book or article you can get your hands on? Truth is, you probably won't need the information for a couple years. Then a couple years down the road you've forgotten what you read and are beside yourself with what to do with your toddler, so you get them all out again. A couple more years go by and again you are losing it and wondering how in the world someone let you birth a little person to be totally responsible for raising. That is where I am at. I have had 7 years of psychology/family/child training, plus almost 5 years after that of being a mother and I have found myself at a complete loss with my kids lately. There are days I feel defeated and run over by the demands of a 4 1/2 year old and a 2 1/2 year old. They are quite a team I tell ya!
Now, it really isn't all that bad. They are generally really good kids, but there are certain "battles" that we seem to have every day, lately. For example, Brendan is totally into a certain computer game right now. There is nothing "bad" about the game, but it is totally brainless and a complete waste of a little 4 year old's time. If he had it his way I think he could spend the whole day playing it. I have set limits and he gets two 15 min. games a day....depending on behavior of course. He insists this isn't long enough and we talk and we talk and we talk, and I tend to threaten to take it away if he doesn't stop asking, so he stops for a while, but I'm not kidding, I feel like a lot of my days lately are revolving around when the poor, deprived kid can play Q-bert! That's right. Q-bert.
Now with Wyatt my hardship is nap-time. He and Brendan share a room and sleep in bunk beds. For the last couple months I have spent the majority of my nap times putting Wyatt back to bed, pulling him off the top bunk (on top of sleeping Brendan), closing the door, locking the door, pleading for him to stop talking, etc, etc, etc. Many days he has completely skipped his much needed nap simply because he hasn't stopped moving for 2 seconds to realize he is exhausted and fallen asleep. I've tried time-outs, I've tried the "Nanny" method (putting him back over and over and over without talking to him), I've even tried spanking. (If you know me very well, you know that I don't spank)
A note on spanking: After all my schooling, I knew that I would not spank when I had kids. I do think that there are appropriate ways to use this form of discipline, but with all the controversy and plenty of other proven methods of discipline, both Rand and I have refrained from spanking, slapping, pinching and other forms of punishment that require us to physically inflict pain on our children. HOWEVER, I have been driven to insanity with both of my children (both around the age of 2) and believed there may be no other form of discipline that would work. Unfortunately, spanking didn't seem to solve the problem either and I knew that I would be forced to spank over and over if I was going to choose that method of discipline, and I just wasn't willing to do that.
SOOO, that brings me to the desperation and the scouring of my parenting books. I am again reinforced that there are some GREAT parenting tips out there and alternatives to spanking if you are interested.
Here is one that I recently put into practice....
I was re-reading my "How To Talk So Kids Will Listen, And Listen So Kids Will Talk" book. A good reminder of how I do and do not want to talk to my kids. (You can get into bad habits so fast and without realizing it!) One of the books alternatives to punishment was Problem-Solve. Low and behold tonight I had the perfect opportunity to try it out. Bed time isn't usually much of a battle, but for some reason tonight it was for Wyatt. He cried and cried and wouldn't stop crying. Rand put them to bed because I was out for a walk, but this shouldn't have been a problem. He puts them to bed lots. So when I came in Rand was in the process of guarding their shut door (a consequence we've used to discourage talking, playing and whining once we leave the room. Generally it works, as they do not like having their door closed at night). We waited for them to be quiet for a bit so that they could earn their door re-opened. I decided to go in and give some love and attention. A good thing to rule out first. Make sure they aren't just needing some cuddles. However, after a good time of cuddling and talking about the good things about the day, Wyatt burst into tears again when I left the room. I had to stop, because I wanted to yell out, "No more crying!! It's time for bed." OR "If you can't stop crying and lay quietly I'm going to have to shut your door!" If we were parents who spanked I may have threatened a spank or gone in and given him a swat to get him to stop and obey. Luckily I stopped myself and decided to try something different and see if it worked. Here's how it went down, play by play.
Method #1: Problem-Solve
(calmly walked into the room and sat on Wyatt's bed) Wyatt, we have a problem, don't we? You want Mommy to stay in the room with you, but Mom wants some alone time and needs some rest. Do you think we could come up with a solution to solve this problem?
Wyatt: (sniffling) Yeah.
Me: Okay. What could we do? What could we do to make this better?
Wyatt: I could stay up late (it was already an hour past bedtime)
Me: Okay, that's an idea. What else?
Wyatt: You could take me back to the splash park. (I'm shocked he's participating this well with coming up with solutions, even though there is no way we're doing either of these things)
Me: Okay. I have an idea. I could leave your door open and you could lay quietly. Or, I could close your door if you want to cry. (Brendan pipes in at this point)
Brendan: I have an idea! You should leave the door open and we will fall back to sleep.
Me: Yep. That's an idea. (Wyatt starts to cry because he thinks I'm going to leave.)
Me: OOO, I have an other idea! I could give you your lantern by your bed and you could quietly look at books until you get tired. (Jack Pot!!)
Wyatt: Yeah!
So, I got him his lantern and I heard him quietly looking at books. Not another peep out of him! Now he is sleeping and I'm so glad he fell asleep feeling heard and cared for and not defeated and sad. And I don't feel defeated either. I feel like I succeeded. I stayed calm, I stayed in control and we both walked away happy. I achieved the desired behavior without punishment and tears. I just totally diffused a battle! I hope it works this good every time! Chances are, it won't, but it is definitely worth a try, don't ya think?

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Willie on Jones Soda

(click to see bigger)

Jones Soda has just recently released a bottle with Willie's picture on it. It went out nationally, so wherever you are in the United States, you should be able to find it in your local stores, assuming they carry Jones Soda. I went looking in several different places around here yesterday, but they didn't have it out on the shelves yet.
This is what the label looks like, and you will find it only on the Berry Lemonade Soda (ice blue in color).

Let me know when and where you find it!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

I Heart My Aunt Jojee

Aunt Jojee came for a visit this last week bearing gifts galore for her little nephews. Some of the gifts were great and some were very in sugary.
Let me explain further...

She has come to visit 3 times in the 11 months that we have lived here. It's great! Because she doesn't have kids and both her and Jon work, she can kind of pick up and come whenever she can take off work. She usually takes a late flight so she comes with special cards and packages for the kids to find when they wake up. This time the bags were full of bubble gum, cookies, crackers, candy, bubbles and bug vacuums! What kid wouldn't be thrilled? Later, packages arrived with custom T-shirts so that the kids could romp around town and let everyone know just what a great Auntie they have.
Now, here's where things went a little bad with all the presents and candy....
One of the nights Rand and I had a birthday dinner to go to for one of our friends. A perfect opportunity for Joanna to get some special Auntie alone time with the boys. She made a plan and couldn't wait for us to leave. The theme of the night was to be "Desert Island". They built a huge fort in the middle of the living room and the boys were instructed to get their flashlights, a couple books and a couple toys.
To compliment the evening, Joanna had found these gummy crocodiles that the boys could eat while they were on/in their desert island. Now these weren't your normal gummy candies. They were at least a foot long and they looked absolutely disgusting. I would have thrown up eating one these things.

According to the story I heard later when we got home, Brendan wanted to bite its head off right away. Wyatt does whatever Brendan does, so they both chomped the poor things head off. Look at the picture. The head was more than a mouth full.
Now Brendan is my kid who eats just about anything. Wyatt is my kid who gags at the taste, smell, and texture of almost everything.
Wyatt swallowed the head and said he didn't want to eat it anymore, he just wanted to hold it. Brendan proceeded to continue eating the whole thing. I think by the time he got to the tale he thought maybe holding it for a while would be a good idea. So he too, held the remainder of his gummy crocodile. But alas, he could not control himself. He decided he would just suck on the tale and then before you know it, the whole thing was gone. He said, "Jojee, I think that crocodile made me a little sick." And then he excused himself and went to the bathroom. Wyatt never did eat anymore of it....thankfully. Wise little boy.
Brendan was sick to his stomach the whole next day and we talked a lot about cutting out sugar. In fact, he refused to have a treat after dinner the next night because he said he was not eating sugar anymore because it makes him sick. So he learned his lesson and I think Auntie did too. There's got to be limits! :)
We always have so much fun with Aunt Jojee. She really is a great Auntie and we were sad when she had to go home. Luckily we have webcams!
Thanks for coming to visit Jojee!!!! We miss you!

First Summer Swim

If you've been paying attention to the weather in the Southwest, you may have noticed it's warming up. To me, 85 degrees is easily swimming weather, so I went out and got the kids a pool so we would have a nice watering hole to cool off in. Unfortunately, it seems our 11 months in Arizona have turned the kids into cold water snobs. They won't hardly touch the water in the pool. They say it's too cold. I guess swimming in 95 degree pools all winter has made them a little picky about what water they do and do not have fun in.

Oh well, it will only be a matter of weeks before the sun is heating that little pool up to 95 degrees easy!

Friday, March 7, 2008

One Year

Ok, buckle up everyone. This is not going to be your typical "here's-what-the-kids-are-doing" post. It's long, so you might make sure you have time to read it.

Almost exactly one year ago, I wrote this (This was my very first post on this blog):

March 21, 2007
It started out as just a simple road-trip vacation to Phoenix and it turned into a job interview, a second trip to Phoenix and a job offer. That's the short version. The longer version is as follows:
At the end of January we loaded up our car and took our first long car trip to Phoenix with the kids. It was fun! Rand didn't have a "job" so we went with no specific plans to return..although we were planning on coming back at some point. Before the trip,we had been going through a time of change since Rand quit his job. His heart was for ministry, so he had been pursuing Thoughtlife (his non-profit ministry) as a full time job. As it turns out, although this ministry is well liked by many and a very good idea, it costs more to operate than we can afford without some other means to support ourselves adequately. (My Arbonne business supplements some, but that's another story) So, something was going to have to change, and we knew that before we left for our trip.
Meanwhile in AZ, a good friend of Rand's had been interim-pastoring a small church, but was heading off to the east coast in the fall and the church happened to be looking for a new head pastor. Rand's friend suggested he apply. So he did. The search committee interviewed him and loved him. We went home and the church flew all of us back down for a second interview and an "audition". Rand passed with flying colors and the church voted unanimously to hire him. The job seems perfect for him and I think he is going to love it. The church is REALLY small, but they want to grow. They are ready for change and want Rand to come in with ideas and a plan to implement them (exactly what he's good at).
Needless to say I am so sad to leave home because I love it here. My family is here which is the main reason I love it, but I also love the scenery, the weather and the atmosphere of a small town, a simpler life and the slower pace. I mean, we are going from wet, cool and green to dry, hot and brown. It's going to be quite a shocker. Who moves to Phoenix right at the beginning of summer? And who would leave here? We just survived winter. We're leaving right when it's starting to get good!
So, we blast off April 14 with a big Uhaul truck with our entire house on board. We have a For Sale sign on our house and we're starting to pack.:( Here we go. Ready or not. We're off to the desert!!

Now, we all know the series of events that followed, especially those that took place on April 14. We actually left on the evening of April 13 and had we not, we probably wouldn't have gone because we would have found out the bad news and still been in Shelton. I find it ironic that I used the words "blast off" because, boy, it was some definite blasting. I hope you have kept reading to this point because what follows might be a bit of a shocker. Looking back, I understand so many more answers to the "why" questions that I've had over the past year (isn't that always the case??).
When we came to Phoenix, a year ago, our marriage was really on the rocks. Many people knew that, and I know that there were many that were praying for us. God led us to a counselor....who is really more of a discipler/mentor. It has been like no other counseling I've ever experienced. God used this man to change my marriage, my relationships, my family and most importantly, my faith.
Immediately, he told us that God did not bring us to Phoenix for that church (Rand's job) and he told us that God kept giving him the words "one year" for us. He didn't know what that meant, and neither did we, but he kept saying one year. One year in Phoenix? One year in counseling? One year at the church? We didn't know.....and we didn't really believe we weren't here for that church. Maybe you've noticed that I haven't written much about Rand and his job and the church and all of that. Maybe someday soon, I will sit down and do that, but it is a LONG STORY! Through no fault of Rand's, but just circumstances, Rand has recently submitted his letter of resignation to the church. The church will be closing it's doors as it cannot afford to continue operating and the few members it has have joined with another church who we were talking about merging with. Obviously the merge didn't happen and the corporation of First Baptist Church of Glendale will soon be dissolved.
Currently, Rand is submitting his resume and letters of recommendation to churches and we are again in a very similar situation as we were exactly one year ago. But I must say, we are very different people. Never in my life have I been so sure that God is the one in my life directing me and leading me and guiding me towards HIS plan for me...for us. This last year has been a year of refining fire. We were so sure that God brought us here to grow that little church and like our counselor said over 8 months ago, God actually brought us here to get us prepared for something else.
There is SOOOO much more to the story and so many more examples of how God is showing us again and again that HE has something for us and it is all falling into place in His time. When I feel it is okay for me to share, I will write more about where we might be going, but we still aren't sure. We need prayers! I don't feel scared and I don't feel stressed. I feel grateful that God has kept us from making some major mistakes (like buying a house) so that we can be free to go where he leads when we know where that is.
We may end up staying right here. Then again, we could be loading up a U-haul truck again soon. Please pray for us and for Rand, who bares the burden of providing for his family. I have faith in Rand and I have faith in God that we are going to be more than fine. I do find myself re-living last year, last March and last April, when absolutely everything changed. Right before our world was really rocked. We thought we were just moving to Phoenix to pastor a little church. It was so much more than that! It's hard not to think of Willie and April 14 which is fast approaching. I can't believe it's almost a year. I'll save all that for another post. Thanks for reading. Thanks for praying.