Wednesday, January 30, 2013

book pick: The Retired Kid


life has been really crazy lately... which is to say, more crazy than usual for any family with young children! i'll spare you the details, but in short it involves an ever-expanding to-do list, a house encased in plastic, correspondingly elevated pms symptoms, and the newly discovered need for a security system. oh, and a stomach virus. yay!

a friend of mine reminded me of a date on our calendar, however, that makes everything bearable: Cancun 2013. we're celebrating our 10-year anniversaries with our husbands at an all-inclusive resort, which means nothing to worry about but the sunscreen. swim-up bars. towels shaped into animals. grass umbrellas. some local ruins. someone else cooking all the meals. ahhhhhh...

sometimes my husband and i daydream about "when we retire." our kids are ages 2 and 5, but we're already banking on grandkids and bicycle tours of Europe. maybe even an rv to tour the lower 48. but lately, the habit has come to annoy me. for one thing, they really are pipe dreams. who knows if we'll be able to retire, much less go to Europe! for another, it makes it seem like what's happening now is some kind of lesser existence – when it is anything but! even when there are more stresses than usual, what's happening in our lives now is nothing short of splendiferous.


a fun book we've been reading around here that gets me in the right present-frame of mind is The Retired Kid, a somewhat-older gem by the prolific Jon Agee. "It's hard work being a kid." so Brian decides to retire at the ripe age of 8. he flies off to (where else?) Florida, and settles in as the latest resident of the Happy Sunset Retirement Community. there are card games, golf, and poolside naps. but also long documentaries, prune juice smoothies, and false teeth mishaps. so Brian gets to thinking about "the good old days." and you know what? being a kid ain't so bad.

and neither is being a parent! (i even hear they have resorts with childcare nowadays...)



this post contains all of one affiliate link.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Our New Look


Not quite a year ago, I started this blog as an outlet—for my parental frustrations as well as my professional drive to keep writing, writing anything at all. Here's an excerpt from that original "About" page, which shall be kept for posterity:

inevitably, some of the most poignant times – when we remember why parenting is a joy – are when we're all doubled over in giggles over something that would make our single friends look at us with a pitying 'you've gone nuts.' they have no idea that it's the sanest we've felt in a long harried time. remembering the carefree parts of being a child by celebrating them with our own keeps the crazy away.
this blog is a compendium of light-hearted reminders to enjoy our kids and cherish the fleeting years we have with the silly stage – before they turn into sour teenagers.

Not quite a year later, you've noticed a lot of "guest" posts from a dear friend of mine, Jesikah, and as of yesterday, another dear friend, Pavette, who are writers in their own right—as well as super mommas with the healthy dose of humor that's needed for this parenting trip. In other words, they've got the silly = sane philosophy down.

So I'm not waiting for some one-year anniversary of reflection. In the midst of potty training a 2-year-old (oh, how I hate poop), trying to jimmy-rig a clown costume for my 5-year-old (oh, how I hate clowns), and increasingly filling naptime hours with paid work (oh, how I hate bills but love paychecks), I am going to take all the help I can get with this lovely endeavor that I think is worth continuing. And, quite simply, I'm going to call this blog what it already is: a community effort!

Welcome to the new silly = sane, home of Melissa, Jesikah and Pavette—and, who knows, maybe some other contributors down the road! Check out the new About tab up top to learn more about our writers.

Incidentally, all you writing parents out there (and we do mean daddies, too) are always welcome to submit a guest post for consideration. Email me at sillyissane@gmail.com.


About this blog


Parenting children sometimes requires acting like them. That's the idea behind silly = sane, a blogging community that recognizes that remembering the carefree parts of being a child—by celebrating them with our own—is what helps keep the crazy away. We share parenting strategies that work, thoughts about poop and burnt dinners, picture books and music that keep everyone happy—all with a healthy dose of humor. Our contributors:


Melissa
... is a writer mom of two splendid girls who is continually reminded how awesome it is to be a kid (or just act like one). A freelance writer, she works from home to focus on her two precocious bling-lovers. Together, they seek to enjoy the most beautiful corner of the world, the Pacific Northwest, where they devour books, play monster tag and ponder the redeemable qualities of Disney princesses. You can reach Melissa at sillyissane@gmail.com.




Jesikah

... is a writer/teacher mom of three spirited children each styling an epic personality. Good thing, too, as she is always up for an adventure! Whether it is creating stories, geeking out on board games, endlessly planning her garden or making a huge mess in the kitchen, she is known to face parenting with a good dose of humor and mythic nerdiness—the essential ingredients to becoming the Geekiest Mom on the Block, a title she boasts with pride. You can reach Jesikah at myles.jes@gmail.com



Pavette
... is the stay-at-home mother to three wonderful young stay-at-home children (due to age, no homeschooling here). They attempt to peacefully coexist in rural Kitsap County using cooking, crafting, gardening and a lot of humor. Many a Pinterest idea has been executed by Pavette, often with results that would likely be shunned from the Pinterest community due to non-conformity. Contact Pavette using this email address: pavette at gmail dot com.



One more thing... Some of our posts may contain affiliate links, like when we recommend books. We're not out to get rich off this blog (good gravy, we're not that naive), but hey, if you're buying anyway... Learn more of the legal mumbo-jumbo on the disclosures page.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Dinner Prep: A poem that can be a rap

last week it was the 2-year-old's poop stuck to the bottom of my shoe (hurrah, potty). today, it's getting over a stomach bug (hurrah, potty). it's a case of the Mondays people. and that is my disgusting introduction to the first post from our latest contributor and supermom, Pavette! (a round of groans, please!) learn more about Pavette—and a new approach for this blog—tomorrow... once i'm back on some semblance of a schedule. for now, i'm mentally preparing for tonight's dinner to simply be edible. (last week, my kids got broccoli... just broccoli... at least it was the veggie!)




It’s 5:30, you better be aware,
The atmosphere has changed, there’s a shift in the air
Daddy sends a text, he will not be expedient
That’s a real bummer, since he’s bringing the main ingredient.

You start the rest of dinner thinking all will be well,
When it’s 5:45—thus begins the hell.

The 2-year-old has to potty, you say “Run, hurry, fast”
But alas she doesn’t make it, her bladder did not last.
So you pull out the carpet cleaner while she sits on the pot.
Is this fun yet? Oh no, I think not.

Back in the kitchen working on dinner some more
Holding onto the baby, she was fussing on the floor.
Something doesn’t smell right, you take a big whiff.
The baby’s dirty—off to change her in a spiff.

What’s this? A blow out, oh no!
Poop up her back, but dinner was almost a go.
Finally she’s changed, you preheat the oven.
When into the kitchen come your 5-year-old of lovin’.

He’s looking for attention, and picks up the oil
He pretends to drink it—making a foil
You freak out worried that it will spill
He pouts and cries, breaking his will.

At 6:15 Daddy sashays in
And you open with “Darling, where have you been?”



"Don't Worry!" image provided via pressurechief_redux

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Tweenkling Insights: Part Two



by Jes

I guess my son felt the glare, the vocal scoff and the response through clenched teeth were not enough “signs” for me to gather that he was mad. To further drive home the point, he had to march up the stairs with pounding feet, kick a toy in his path followed by slamming his door shut forcefully. His brother came in their shared room to get something, an innocent victim in this war, completely oblivious to the “signs”. The next thing I hear is my younger son protesting while my older son is screaming orders, the door opening and my younger son being thrown out. My older son had turned his small frame instantly into the strength of a club bouncer. My younger son was now fully aware of the “signs” and was ready to give his brother a few of his own. At this point, I pulled my younger son away before more damage ensued.

For those that know my oldest son, you know he is a shy, somewhat nervous person who enjoys a good laugh, a fun story and is endlessly curious about life. He is also compassionate, sensitive to others showing remarkable empathy at times, helpful, great with small children (so patient and kind when playing with them), and he loves to read. But lately, those beautiful attributes morph into a green monster ripping his clothes off when suddenly angry. In fact, my son claims when he gets mad it is like he Hulk outs and can’t control himself. This makes his self-worth plummet.

In the day of psychology, mass media fear of young adults and school shootings, the last phrase “can’t control myself” was a terrifying confession for me to hear as a parent. Cue husband – oldest of four boys, quite rascally and mischievous, grew up making his mom believe he was a perfect angel, all the while raising hell when she wasn’t looking. It was this boyish charm that lured me in at age 15 ;-) As my maternal fears began to climb to irrational levels, my husband waltzes in and says, “that is what boys this age do” as if that explains everything.

Yet, somehow it did. Or at least, it gave me pause. “They do?” I asked back, clearly perplexed as I come from the “civilized” gender (wink! wink!). He then goes on to explain that when he was around our son’s age, he got into a lot of fights. Most boys did. The testosterone kicks in, turning little boys into men, and they leave childhood fighting.

Being an old-school parent in many ways, I suddenly realized why parents way-back-then sent their boys to the chopping block around this age and through their teenage years. They needed to burn off some steam and learn to be constructive with it in a way that benefited the home or community and to control their impulses. With flat screens replacing active play time more and more in our culture, less tweens and teens are actively doing something about their changing body in ways that help.

I resent being a referee, and throwing a flag for unnecessary roughness is not my idea of a good time. However, I have fantasized about getting a whistle and cutting out some fabric to use for a quick reaction and attention grabber … not to mention a visual representation of how a line was crossed. Wouldn’t it be fantastic if all you had to do was blow a whistle, drop a brightly colored square on the floor and your brawling boys knew there was a 10-yard penalty and instantly went into separate rooms to calm down?

OK, so back to reality. What is a parent to do with a tween boy who is raging with testosterone? I don’t have a chopping block, but I do have dirty floors, laundry that needs to be carried up and down the stairs, toilets that need cleaning, dishes to be put away and so forth. And he has a father to battle in arm wrestling, practice throwing around punches and to have a Nerf gun war.

I have also learned it is a time for more structure despite the push for independence. With freedom comes great responsibility. Knowing expectations and being able to see results and the ability to check off tween honey-do lists boosts their confidence and keeps them connected. Make them a part of the process. Allow them to herald it is family meeting time to discuss the agenda for the day, the next couple of days, the week. Let them help you with the family calendar. When you discuss things, ask them what they think. You’ll be amazed at their intelligent response. It is also a great time to expand their horizons and find ways for them to give back to the community – whether it is their neighborhood, their school, church or even their city. Keep it local so you can be more easily involved, also maintaining connection. Will they resent the idea? Most likely, but once they start helping out they’ll enjoy it, even if they don’t let you know they have.

How do you help your tween or early teen deal with their anger? Their need to physically react to the emotions they suddenly feel? To feel in control despite developmental changes they can’t control?

How can we help them feel constructive and valuable, rather than shame and our disappointment for the hormonal changes taking over their bodies and mind?

Please share your ideas and comments! I would love to hear them (and so would other parents of tweens).



photo credit: "Lego Hulk Smash," by Fantaz via Flickr

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Tweenkling Insights: Part One



by Jes

My oldest boy has been replaced by an awkward young male trying to figure out if he is a child or a young man, sometimes exploding in an emotional display that I would qualify as both – asserting his independence with both verbal finesse and preschool-like tantrums. Yes, I have a tween. For those who have (or have had) a tween, you know exactly what I am talking about. As a parent you feel the excitement of brewing independence only to realize it is coupled with sassy backtalk as a means to assert said independence.

One day he was playing and the next, he wanted a cellphone, his own personal computer, wanted to know how old he had to be to have his own Facebook account, and if he could do additional chores for money to buy his own things. He then began checking the mirror looking for facial hair, which I found very amusing but of course, kept the conversation at the level of seriousness he desired.

I must admit, I went through a whole month of total shock and denial followed by another whole month of sharpening my tools as a parent. I now declare back with equal energy, "Game on!”

Similar to a preschooler, those ages 9-12 may throw a tantrum to express their independence. However, unlike a preschooler, tweens are quite articulate, forming reasonable arguments and can have intimidating responses to “no,” not to mention their social needs are intense. Oh, did I mention their social needs are intense? They want get-togethers with friends every second of every day! My life is consumed with talking about friend-time, thinking about friend-time, planning friend-time … and video games, and wanting to know when we can have pizza again for dinner. (Their appetite is remarkable, especially if you have a boy!)

I will never forget the moment I snapped out of denial, it was a lovely Fall afternoon when my rule-following, compliant, always easy-mannered son yelled at me from the top of the stairs that I was ruining his life (his exact words), followed by a very impressive eye roll, and then a glare that instantly made my superhero-strength mom armor activate.

My first response? Anger. Pure, outraged, don’t-you-dare-disrespect-me fueled anger. We stared at each other for a few minutes, challenging each other silently while steam came out of our ears. Miraculously, my brain returned to me before I spoke, enough pressure had been released (thank you steam ears), and I realized that I needed to break the tension or he would not hear anything I had to say and it would perpetuate the problem. So, I decided to go along with this fantasy of his, hoping to stimulate his intellect into realizing the absurdity of his words.

“Well, I’m glad you finally figured it out. Each day I wake up, grab a cup of coffee and say to myself, 'How can I ruin my son’s life today?'” I watched the anger begin to dissipate. “We have a game, you and I. My role is to ruin your life (for which you’ll thank me for one day); and your daily quest is to figure out my master plan. What say you? Do we have a game?” He was trying desperately not to laugh at this moment. I stuck out my hand and he took it, shaking it in agreement.

Now when he displays his displeasure at my response and decision, I say with glee, “You did it! You figured out how I wanted to ruin your life today! You are so good at this game. I will need to come up with something really difficult tomorrow.”

This always turns a moment that could go wrong in so many ways into laughter. Inserting humor does wonders to a temperamental tween, I am learning. There are two proverbs that sum this up well: “A kind word turns away wrath”, and, “Laughter does the heart good like medicine.”

If you have or have had a tween – we need your ideas.

How do you help curb attitude without breaking their spirit?



photo attribution: "Fight," by Philippe Put via Flickr

Thursday, January 17, 2013

pulling rank

i've been filing away those precious lines that seem to get through my kids' cute skulls with silly-sanisms, lines to use on your kids. so far, we've dove into the sea and rocketed into the future for inspiration. this week, i want to give a shout-out to Colleen over at Mommie Daze, an awesome blogger from my old stomping grounds in West Michigan. since starting this blog, i've come across many talented (and veteran) writers, and Mommie Daze has some great stuff going on – with that humorous quality i value, to boot.

Colleen has a list of Things Only a Parent Would Say, and this recent one really got me laughing:

Mommie Daze line to use on your kids: "I was not born yesterday. You were."

i like to think of this as a variation on the more traditional "because i said so" vein of parental verbiage. sometimes kids have to be reminded of their place. it's a place of cuteness and overflowing love and squishy tushies. but also a place of fortheloveofallthatisholy-would-you-just-listen-to-your-mother?

this could also serve as a great diversionary tactic. i can already sense how this might go down with my 5-year-old.

"Sweet One, stop that."

"grumble, grumble"

"Sweetie, i need you to stop that right now."

"ugh! why Mom?!"

"just stop it."

"argh! i don't want to! whyyyyyyyyyy?"

"because i was not born yesterday. you were."

crickets, crickets, crickets

"no i wasn't. i was born in June!" moment of thought "how long 'til my birthday, Mom? is it the day after this day?"

and, badabingbottaboom, we're on to a new topic.

what ways do you put a spin on "because i told you so?" have any lines of your own to share that have worked on your kids? comment on this post, or email sillyissane@gmail.com.



and in case you missed the last two silly-sanisms...


#2 #1

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

submit your whiskered caption


i've been on a mouse kick since writing about my favorite books with talking mice. i found this little photo on Flickr and decided to add a speech bubble to give Mr. Whiskers the gift of speech like his literary cousins. but what shall he say? drop your caption in the comments below, and be sure to share your favorite book featuring a talking mouse (or bear or pig or spider or ...) —Melissa



background image: "Mouse in flower pot" by Ruud Hein

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

talking mice



talking dinosaurs. talking bears. talking frogs. but you know the pinnacle of anthropomorphism is the talking mouse.

there are tons of those skittering creatures out there in children's literature and film. a nice compilation is posted by Rose West, who wonders at why the mouse is so prevalent. i think she puts it beautifully when she says:
Perhaps it is vulnerability. Perhaps children, who are often unable to clearly express themselves, find similarities between themselves and these tiny animals. Perhaps these fictional mice and their ability to talk represent something to children, something like hope.
either way, now into my 30s, i'm still smitten by these whiskered protagonists. and, like doll houses and fairies, it's fun to watch my girls start to engage these pint-size joys as well. both my girls have giggling fits over the mice in Beatrix Potter's "The Tale of Two Bad Mice," thanks to BBC's animated retelling. they also have an affinity for Angelina Ballerina and Lilly.

try though i might, however, i cannot get an ounce of interest out of my 5-year-old in Ralph, Abel, Stuart, or Basil. the closest we get to boy-mouse approval is Lilly's chums: Chester, Wilson and Owen. and i think that has more to do with Lilly and a blanket that is yellow. where's the love?

i'm rushing her again, of course. she's only 5! 

i constantly find myself torn between wanting to keep my daughter little and wishing she'd jump to the next stage. 

"oh, i love this one too"
versus
"this was one of mommy's favorites when she was a little girl..."

"tell me again about your imaginary superhero"
versus
"you need to learn to tie these goldurned shoes yourself!" 

she's only 5, and yet already 5. and i keep envisioning what i want for her, rather than viewing the world from her 3-foot-10 perspective—and marveling.

there are amazing moms out there reading full-length chapter books to their kindergartners, who are ready for the next step. my big girl is still interested in picture books (preferably with pictures that are princess-like)—and that's ok. she memorizes the stories with the help of images, then plucks a book off the shelf, finds a cozy corner, and reads to herself, over and over again, page after page, time and again. what a subtle yet wonderful way to instill a love of language and story in a child.


part of the genesis of this blog was to remind myself (and other harried parents of young children) to enjoy these fleeting years. to embrace the silly. in my book-obsessed world, that also means letting go, letting go of this rush to share and slow down enough to follow my daughter's pace—in small, mouse-like steps. 

(if mice wear plastic princess pumps, that is.)

what whiskered friends do you hope to share with your young ones as they grow older? i'm keeping a running list of our favorites (and hopefully future favorites) here.





fine print: this post contains Amazon affiliate links. learn more here.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

book pick: Snoring Beauty

i adore this week's book pick. it has all the makings of a silly = sane top 10. it's a fractured fairytale. the illustrations are top-notch. the text has a lovely flow. and the in-jokes for parents are hilarious. "Yada, yada, hippity-hop..." onto the synopsis...

in Snoring Beauty, an irate fairy nearly dooms Princess Drachmina Lofresca Malvolio Margarine (er, you can just call her Marge) to death by pie-wagon, but a half-deaf fairy (Tintinnitus) saves her with a salvaged wish. instead, Marge turns into a sleeping dragon who can only be awoken by a quince. in the meantime, the village suffers. Marge is good at everything, thanks to the fairy wishes at her christening – and that includes snoring, on a dragon scale. in the end, a Quince does in fact save her from permanent slumber (and the gentry from permanent hearing loss), although he quickly finds that some things never change... yet love endures, and the couple lives happily (if noisily) ever after.

i have so much fun with the voices in this book, it's almost embarrassing.

the author, Bruce Hale, is an actor and Fulbright Scholar in storytelling. the illustrator, Howard Fine, also makes people smile as a dentist in his other life (you may also know him as the illustrator of Deb Lund's dinosaur books).

more fractured fairytale fun on this blog:


book pick book pick

i'm still working on my fractured fairy tales for these two books. now i'll have to add a third. have one of your own? send it to me! sillyissane@gmail.com



this post contains affiliate links for the book.



Friday, January 11, 2013

screen-time approved


as Jes wrote recently, we parents need to take our own screen-time advice and hide the backlit bother away to instead focus on our kids and the real-time we're spending with them -- or, heaven forbid, see our neighbors' actual faces, not just their Facebooks.

the key is to keep them from becoming bothersome addictions and use them for what they are -- tools. everything in moderation (or in the case of screens, minimalism, in my opinion ... says the blogger who just spent a half-hour not-quite-aimlessly perusing her Facebook feed and is still recovering from an all-night "Downton Abbey" marathon).

i do OK putting away the screen, actually, if not the work that goes with it. (my daughter equates me + a computer = "mommy's working," which if she's waiting for the computer often ends in the same refrain: "you have two more things?") i save the useless Facebook meanderings for when the girls are in bed (almost all the time, anyway). and it helps that the only screen i have is a laptop screen. it's about as portable as you can get (Chromebook) but still nothing you'd carry in a hip holster or purse or something (at least, not the kind of purse I carry).

anyway, all of this prompted me to really think about how my young one spends her own screen time. and so i decided to share my favorite screen-time tools for my daughter's "computer time" (i.e., mommy's work-from-home-to-pay-some-bills time), as well as some things my girls and i do to turn a crazy moment into a together time-out with the help of a screen.

here we go...

pbskids.org: my daughter's favorite website. this website dominates 99.9 percent of our kid-involved computer time. (if we include all screen time, then movies on DVD would come in second, but probably a distant second.) it has games, coloring sheets and videos from a wide variety of clean 'n' cute shows we'd actually watch if we had tv. Sweet One's learned new words, facts about dinosaurs, basic math -- and how to spell p-b-s-k-i-d-s-"dot"-o-r-g as she familiarizes herself with the keyboard (first step to ten-finger typing! um, unless that's a skill getting ready to go the way of cursive...). another website we've enjoyed in the past, but is currently languishing in our home (due in part to the disappearance of an awesome audio version of "The Diffendoofer Song," which used to be our primary entry point) is Seussville.


picassohead.com: get a little art lesson by creating your own Picasso-style head (is that an eye or a nose?). i like this because it encourages being a bit more free, creative and off-kilter (good skills for parenting as well as the future artist).

fingerplays: the King County Library System has a wonderful online compendium of fingerplays and rhymes, many with video demonstrations. many of these are popular and traditional, but others i've never heard before. one of our new favorites came in handy for our indoor snow day (sans snow). it's also generally useful when you'd rather bring circle time indoors and bypass the frenetic craziness of public library story time.

and... well, that's it. (unless you count the Disney Princess coloring app on my husband's smartphone, which has saved the day in public places when cranky time is rearing its cute little head.)

i may be the only remaining person on the planet without a smartphone or tablet computer. so... this list is really short. that's a good thing. even if i did have a smartphone or iPad, it still should be short! but, i'm relying on you, dear wired readers, to add to this list with what are undoubtedly culturally updated ideas. what's your favorite app? online game? or are you on screen-time overload?

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Great Screen Time Debate

these thoughts come to us from guest blogger and mommy wonder Jes...

Screens are a constant issue, modern-day monsters that perpetually munch away at time that could be spent doing something else (says the writer who is typing this message onto a screen while checking Facebook – ha!).

OK, so that was a little strong. Nevertheless, let’s be honest, adults. We believe that statement is true for our children, but not really true for us. After all, we exercise regularly, eat our veggies and work hard all week, sacrificing night and day so our little ones can grow up healthy and strong. Yet many of us (myself included) tell our children to go outside and play, give heavy lessons on why we limit screen time, and then as soon as the door is shut we quickly get onto our electronic devices for a quick hit to make it through to the next moment. I ask though, next moment of what? Are screens modern-day wise sages to life that we must always sit before them and bask in their infinite binary wisdom? And why are children the only ones supposed to run outside and play screen free?

You thought this was a message about parenting children didn’t you? Vooohahahaha! It is! No, really it is. Who do you think the children are watching? We know the answer but when confronted by our children, are we prepared to explain ourselves? I have a learned the hard way that through the mighty super powers of observation, children have a way of turning a lesson back on us. Bless their little hearts.

My oldest asked me why he had limited screen time but we were allowed to play on our phones, laptops and such all day long, even at the dinner table (which was the final insult to him). I could have easily given him some variation of "I’m an adult, I can do what I want and when you are an adult, you can make the rules for your life," or, "Do as I say, not as I do." However, I knew if I did, I could not look him in the eyes as it even sounded shallow to my ears simply listening to my thoughts ponder the response.

He was right. It was time to tuck the smart phone away (that yet again made me look dumb which I do believe is its design in the universe), close the laptop and store out of sight, put the remote into the end table drawer so it is not a visual reminder and then ask, what next? Go outside and play! Seriously, when was the last time you played tag or hide and seek? The great outdoors is not reserved only for children, nor is hanging out with neighbors (if you have them). Grab a cup of coffee and knock on your neighbor’s door and see if they can come outside and play, too. Take the children for a walk together, or sit outside and chat while they run around. The fresh air will do you some good, even in the rain. Rain walks are fun -- think of all the endless puddles and splashes!

Are you feeling the panic yet? The fear of what might happen if you don’t have your phone on you while you interact with the world? I did. I felt genuine fear and tried to rationalize it with thoughts of emergencies, great photo ops for Facebook and even (shock, awe) the idea I could be bored. But it only lasted for a moment. The next moment brought joy, relationship and wonder. I completely forgot about my electronic devices. I now make it a habit to leave my phone in the car or at home when doing something fun with my children outside, even while at the park. They deserve my undivided attention and I need to have true focus, rather than split entertainment.

I challenge you all to tuck away the phones, laptops and tablets and go outside and play. When you're in the house, sitting around unsure what to do, reach for ideas rather than electronic devices. Our ancestors led perfectly happy lives without the aid of phones and computers. Let’s make them proud! (Not to mention to reinforce the values we are trying to instill in our children during this digital revolution.)

Let’s be the leaders in modeling screen-free outdoor play. Can I get an amen?



attribution: smartphone image

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

word of the month: magnanimous


my youngest is potty training. which means i'm working extra hard on my positive reinforcement skills. that is, if i ever get to use them.

let's just say, i'm having better luck with the 5-year-old.

Sweet One is a fan of Fancy Nancy, an endearing book character who has taught my daughter more than one fancy word (plume is now her primary term for feather). and Fancy Nancy is teaching me a trick or two as well.

we've reached the stage of sibling spats. the youngest is old enough to interfere with the oldest's sense of personal space. they both have, shall we say, confident personalities. when Sweet One does the mature thing (especially for a kindergartner) and shares a favorite toy with her sister when it's appropriate, i try to heap praise. it works. however, it works ever so much better with a fancy bit of praise.

"how magnanimous!"

fancy and grown-up, two things a cute li'l princess can't resist. i can see the effect. she stands up a bit straighter. she's thinking about the word, not knowing it but understanding it at the same time.

now. if i could find a similarly fancy magic bullet to get the Li'l Miss to sit her cute tushy on a potty seat...



background image of Scuffed Tiles is via Flickr. the Fancy Nancy text above is an affiliate link to the books on Amazon.