Monday, September 29, 2008

Discipline with a Smile

A very wise, very wonderful elementary school guidance counselor once imparted on me and my fellow teammates this brilliant motto when dealing with tough, defiant kiddos ... "It doesn't count unless they cry."

I am wondering, darling, BB, does it count if you make them laugh?

Effective my discipline is not. Funny ... well, both Natalie and I usually end up giggling by the time all is said and done, so ... WHAT am I going to do?

Let me give you an example ...

Natalie has a darling little while rocking chair in her room. A gift from our favorite mom-of-triplets :) For quite some time, Natalie would just stand supporting her weight on the seat and stare at the letters written across the back. And I would spell, "N-A-T-A-L-I-E ... Natalie." Great fun. Occasionally she would pat the seat as if to say, "Hey, I'd like to sit here," and so I'd lift her and set her rear first in the chair where she would rock a little and then scoot to the edge and stand up ... looking all proud of herself. Oh, the good old days.

Now my sweet almost-15-month-old has figured out how to climb onto the chair ... not into but onto ... as in standing on the seat, holding on to the back, and rocking like she's on some sort of amusement ride done wrong! My reaction: a stern, "No, no, Natalie. We don't stand on the chair. We sit." followed by removing her from the precarious perch. Natalie's reaction: giggling, lots and lots of giggling, and more climbing back to that exact position. After we repeated this scenario a handful of times - and I was reduced to turning my back to her in order to giggle without being seen - I can't suck at discipline and be a bad role model - I put the rocker in the closet and closed the door. Not even that got a reaction, still no tears ... Apparently, my style of discipline involves putting things out of reach ... but in the future I should probably draw the line at putting my sassy, back-talking five year old in the closet ... don't ya think?

Well, that darling rocking chair simply could not STAY in the closet, which leads me to the next funny part of my tale. Every time Natalie approaches her chair, she looks over her shoulder, gestures with one hand, and says, "Naa, na. Naa, na." in this sarcastic and hilarious tone ... and then proceeds to climb onto the chair ... but she only "stands" on her knees. It seems we've reached a compromise, and that's something to smile about :)

An eebee Adventure of the PD Kind

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Today was a bit of controlled chaos and occasionally out-of-control. It was also a little messy but also a whole lot of FUN! You've had a chance to look at the photos. Can you guess what we did today? Oh, perhaps the title of this post gave it away ... we played! More specifically, I hosted a playdate - with 6 other moms and babies (ages 10-14 months). But not just any old PD (as we call them here in the SAHM world) with the babies corralled in the middle of the room with a bunch of toys and mamas catching up on a little adult conversation ... no, none of that ... which I definitely missed, by the way!

This was a PD with a "higher purpose."
This was a PD inspired by eebee's Adventures and focused on developmental play. I think the comment of one of the mom's pretty much sums it up, "Dana, you are such a teacher!" And a bit of a nerd, but I'm totally okay with that :)

So here's what I did ...
I set up three separate stations - one in the living room, one in the family room, and one in our little play niche - each one a different learning adventure.
  1. Pouring and Scooping - two big bins filled with uncooked rice, all kinds of scoops and cups, and a big blanket to cover the floor
  2. Building and Stacking - a big bin filled with all the blocks and cups I could find and a collection of empty boxes (cereal, shipping, diapers, ...)
  3. Rolling and Sliding - a board made into an inclined plane by propping it against the ottoman, balls of all shapes and sizes, and a set of random objects for sliding
When the mamas first arrived, I gave them a handout for each station - information I obtained from the website under Parent Info. Each handout defined the concepts this type of play teaches, explained the importance of learning the concept, and suggested ways for parents to be involved in the play (things to say and ask). I asked the mamas to take a minute to preview each activity while the babies played and "got to know each other." And I gave a little "talk" about my passion for teaching/learning and why I think eebee Adventures is such a good tool for moms and babies.

From there, we split into groups - two mamas and two babies - to rotate through the stations. Each station visit lasted about 10 minutes and then groups moved on to the next. The rice station was a big hit amongst the babies, but some moms seemed a little skeptical about making such a big mess. It did take me about 20 minutes to clean it all up after the PD, but I think it was totally worth it!

After 30 minutes of rotating, I brought everyone back together for snacks and conversation about what happened at each station, what observations the moms made, what ideas they would take back home with them ... that sort of thing. Oh, and while the adults talked, I popped in our eebee DVD and the babies got to watch other babies playing just the way they did at the stations!

Play can be fun and meaningful, and I am so glad eebee has taught me that lesson, and I enjoyed sharing it with other moms, too!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Beautiful Weather Park Tour

Our reputation here in the NW proceeds us ... and it really does rain its fair share here in the Evergreen State. However, you should also know that when the weather is nice, it's is reeeaallly beautiful ... and based on the month of September, plentiful, too.
As a result, we have been frequenting the local parks ... OFTEN ... like just about every single day, sometimes twice a day. And we've branched out beyond the parks right here in our 'hood - although in a time crunch, they are still our favorite - we've been on a bit of a park tour right here in the 'Quah.
The swing is no longer NHV's favorite - in her pre-walking days, she would sit in that swing for like 20 minutes, especially when there were kids playing ... it was equivalent to sitting on the couch watching your favorite show! Now, she'll ask to swing - I taught her the sign - but she signs "all done" long before the swing ever reaches a decent height/speed. She longs to be where the action is, and really who can blame her? My time at the park is spent following her up the stairs and down the slide ... under the "choo-choo" train and out the other side - this one requires me to crawl through the mulch ... oh, and on the days I forget to bring her ball with us, I spend a significant amount of time asking kids if she may play with their ball or chasing her down to return a ball to a disgruntled kid and removing a visibly upset Natalie from the eyes of other mommies. That girls loves the B-A-L-L-S!

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And I love spending sunny days at the park with my baby girl!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Chocolate, Anyone?

A neighbor knocked on my door this morning. Now, this is a rare occurrence here in suburbia ... I don't know why exactly, but it is. So I was a little shocked to begin with and a bit embarrassed because at 9:30 am, when I heard that knock, I was curled up in bed on the verge of falling asleep. It doesn't happen very often - really, dear hubby, it doesn't - but some mornings I just have to go back to bed when NHV goes down for her morning nap, and today happened to be one of those days. Of course ... my neighbor who witnessed me stumbling to the door in my bunny pajamas probably thinks I am a class-A, #1 slacker of the year, but whatev ... I am totally secure in my need for a morning nap :)

So ... why did this neighbor knock on my door and interrupt what promised to be a delightful morning snooze? To ask for "Chad's recipe for Texas sheet cake. The one he made for the 4th of July party." I immediately knew which sheet cake he was referring to - my mom's freakin' awesome, out-of-this-world, chocolate Texas sheet cake - the one I made and brought to our neighborhood 4th of July celebration this year. But I let the Chad comment slide ... until he said it again, "My wife and I have been talking about Chad's cake since the 4th." Let me be clear, Chad had absolutely nothing to do with the baking of said cake and the recipe is my mom's, one she is famous for at family gatherings. Wait, I take that back. Chad did carry the sheet cake to the party. I have yet to hear Chad's side of the story on this, but I assume there is one ... in the meantime, enjoy my mom's recipe, we like to call it Grammy's Incredible Sheet Cake:

The Cake
2 c. flour
2 c. sugar
1 cup of butter
1 c. water
1/2 c. buttermilk*
4 tbsp. cocoa
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
*Grammy suggests using 1 cup milk + 1 tsp. vinegar and let it sit for 5 minutes. You need another 1/2 cup for the frosting.
Mix flour and sugar in mixing bowl. In a saucepan, bring to a rapid boil butter, buttermilk, water and cocoa. Pour over flour mixture and blend well. Stir in eggs, vanilla, baking soda, and salt and blend well. Pour batter onto ungreased cookie sheet (with sides). Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until done - I actually check mine at about 17 minutes.

The Frosting
1/2 c. butter
1/2 c. buttermilk
4 tbsp. cocoa
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. chopped pecans
3 cups of powdered sugar
Bring butter, milk and cocoa to rapid boil. Pour ingredients into mixing bowl; add vanilla and powdered sugar; mix well. Add pecans and mix well. Spread on Texas Sheet Cake as soon as removed from oven. Make frosting about 5 minutes before cake comes out of oven.

Disclaimer: I do not recommend making this cake during a PMS episode ... you will eat the entire thing ... and that's 3 sticks of butter and like 5 cups of sugar!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Black & White Photos

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Time Flies ...

How in the H-E-double hockey sticks is it September already? Seriously, the last month is a complete blur! I haven't even downloaded photos from my camera in almost 4 weeks; now, that's a true testament to just how busy I've been! Not to worry, I've managed to take 150 photos and video snips in that time, but they remain trapped on my digital camera ... not doing all my faraway friends and family any good. I recognize that, and I apologize, and I will move that item to the top of my never-ending To Do List. A list that has now been compartmentalized into three parts: At home, For School, and For my Mom's Group. Oh, and I should probably add For Me to the list, but I doubt that will happen anytime soon ... my naked nails, unruly eyebrows, and overgrown haircut will just have to wait :)

So what is causing all this mayhem? This complete BLUR of the past month? I've gone from an in-my-jammies-til-noon-if-I-want-to, playdate-attending, Stay At Home Mom to a part-time lesson-planning-meeting-attending-parent-pleasing ... seems like there's never time for everything I want/need to do crazy lady!
Anyway, I will do my best to stop neglecting the few of you that actually read my blog :) Miss you!
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