Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Darlin's get a birthday sunburn

This darlin' has a big birthday coming up and I think he knows it! We went to the beach to celebrate.

My pretty babies sitting quietly, smiling sweetly, not nagging me for food or something to do!!!

Who needs a chair when you've got
all this charm  to get a cushy seat?

Hey man, that's not bread! It's my lilly white toes!

Duck pond-endless source of
entertainment for the darlin's.

Seesaw fun with no bloody faces!
Mama was so proud.

Oh, Auntie protect me from the wind,
 the beach conditions are so unpredictable!

Burying a dead fish floating in the bay,

Digging for arts and crafts supplies-hopefully
 critters won't crawl
out of the shells once we get home!

Look Mama, we found something dead! Yeah!

I'm too fabulous for all this dirt!

Where did all these kids come from anyway!?!
This is the darlin's sea gull impression.
This is right before she shoved a
handful of wet sand in her mouth!

Now she's getting her feet rubbed at the
cabana by the Grands! What a hard life!

The littlest darlin' did not miss the comforts of home.

She helped me make a fairy boat from the bits off the beach.  

Another arts and crafts project survived. Yurrah!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Self-policed society

Darlin's aged 3 and 1 at the time. 

Discipline. It's complicated once they get past dripping slobber on their baby toys. When the first darlin' was coming upon toddlerhood, Mr. Darcy and I just made a LOUD irritating noise when he got near something dangerous and then looked away so he couldn't "enjoy" the face of the parent or discern the direction where the noise came from. It was great fun in truth, but once the next darlin' came along and the first darlin' got old enough that the "random irritating noise" wasn't working, it was on, folks, and it wasn't pretty. Two children can get into all kinds of things one alone won't and they can combine their "powers" to see what a mama is really made of. I believe this is when I really started to appreciate the word discipline and not as punishment term but one that spoke to natural consequences. From that point, I looked to discipline as "social training" for an individual standpoint and also to strengthen the bond and orientation of each of us united as a single family unit. For each discipline maneuver I doled out, I tried to think WAY AHEAD to how this would translate as an adult strategy. After all, I think the schemas in an adult's toolbox go back to birth order, sibling dynamics and parental relationships. So I was really feeling the pressure to get these skirmishes handled as well as could be managed. This was a lot easier said that done in a sleep deprived state. It takes lots of oxygen in the blood stream to get creative with kids' discipline.

Darlin's that are 3 and nearly 1 now! Just a little bit of
history repeating!!!
This got a bit more challenging once we added a third and now fourth darlin' to the mix and we began to have young kids and babies and the varying discipline strategy of "adjusting the rule to the age" problem.  Once you give a "rule" they want to see it equally applied to everyone in the house including the parents. It's a fairness drive I can appreciate but things don't always translate fairly once you factor in age and pre-existing circumstances. I have learned over my relatively short duration to restrain my desire to slap a rule down as a solution for a discipline issue. It almost always backfires here in darlin'ville. I have had however better luck with creative problem management such as thought-provoking books, toys put on restriction, separating children, fully explaining the "why" of my requests, offering choices, and making deals for tradeoffs necessary to keep peace. Does that sound weak or what?! In my pre-mama days, I would never have employed such strategery (love that fake word) but God is working on me, teaching me patience, and also that I am not really in charge of anything. It might seem easier to let the kids to work it out for themselves but remember my dear friends, this blogger is a certified type A control freak (in reform training of course!) so for me I have to nearly meditate to "walk by" an argument and listen out of sight to make sure no one gets hurt in the bargain. Now, I'm real human so I break this common sense strategy all the time. There is usually a coup and they work together to bring down the mama. Quite effective and usually not pretty. At these times, I usually take comfort that as much as they may bicker over a plastic toy, at least they know and appreciate each other well enough to band together to drive me nuts. ;-) I can only speak to a solid effort rather than a mastery of discipline at this point. I feel the weight of the responsibility to help them manage their feelings and behavior but ultimately it is up to each child's conscience really. I take comfort that these are trials in miniature for the life they will have as adults, the social realm of compromise, teamwork and tradeoffs for success.

The home is the first of many labs where they will test these skills. The home is also the first culture they will attempt to master as they claim it for their own. I wish I could say I was the lab manager but mostly I am just a rat (the one who keeps banging her head into the wall at the end of wrong turn in the maze). I take a greater measure of comfort in the idea that God is probably wearing the white lab coat and making notes on future "character crafting" experiments for us all. Thank heaven he is the one who is really in control!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Beautiful nothingness

When I was growing up, there were routines, schedules, classes, projects...I always had something going on and not much has changed. I am addicted to productivity and to fully completing my goals. There is a scene on the hit show "Friends" where the character Monica can't sleep because her shoes are out of place. Totally me. Uh huh, I know I need help but I figure raising four kids makes me "high-functioning" enough to escape diagnosis ;-).  What being a full-time stay-at-home homeschooling mama has taught me about projects and productivity hasn't exactly helped me check things off my "done" list. It has however taught me to appreciate the beautiful inspirations that have come from long unscheduled days with my children. I did not realize that such creativity could come from nothing. I am continually amazed with how differently my kids look at objects around our home and in our yard and how wonderfully open their minds are. They bring me letters made from flower branches and show me board games made from figurines in their toy box-complete with kid rules of course! They turn toys upside down and attach them to other things I would never have imagined to make vehicles and machinery-all with quite specific functional explanation of course! They write wish lists from web sites and teach each other to read using a syllable game and long prehistoric animal names. They count each other's snack pieces, sorting, adding, and subtracting in the bargain. Food does make for the coolest math! They make miniature exhibits in my windowsills and leave creative gifts around the house for Mr. Darcy and I to find. I love the learning "modules" and "games" they design for their amusement. Because these are their ideas, they fully embrace them. I heard once never to interfere with child's play. I have found for my darlin's this is a truism. The moment I acknowledge their "game" or try to be a part of it, the creativity comes to an end. They want me to "do it for them" or "pat them on the head" for the accomplishment. When I steer clear, I notice they validate themselves and take it on to the next level of learning through play. The taxonomy of learning can go way beyond simple verbal skills even at the tender age of five. It has in truth been a blessing and a challenge learning to embrace unfinished projects and this boundless creativity. If Mr. Darcy and I survive this unconventional phase, I will be very proud to say the least. I pray of course for the peace of mind I need to watch my lists grow and embrace an unscheduled beautiful nothingness. Another sweet lesson that I needed to learn. May my darlin's always look at the world in their beautifully abstract way!

Friday, March 4, 2011

My Review of Make Believe Hood

Originally submitted at Magic Cabin

Children love dressing up as their favorite animal to track down their candy ""prey."" Our comfy cotton velour costumes are easy to put on and equally fun for pretend-play year 'round. Made in China.

Fits most children ages 3 to 9.

  • Our Lion Hood has a...

Make believe Modular

By Research Mama from Mobile, AL on 3/4/2011


5out of 5

Pros: Entertaining, Durable, Interactive, Realistic, Easy Assembly

Best Uses: Indoor, Creative Development, Young Children, Family Time, Imaginative Play

Describe Yourself: Parent Of Two Or More Children, Stay At Home Parent, Education Oriented

Was this a gift?: No

The part about this costume that we love is the modular nature of it. I enjoy that they don't feel swallowed up or hemmed in by a full body costume and as a result it is played with more often. Both my boys and my girls love the dino hood which is well made and has tons of applications in creative approaches to learning.


Thursday, March 3, 2011

Remote control

For some time my oldest darlin' has been talking to me about remote controls. Since he creates all manner of science experiments, I admit I wasn't concerned about this "remote control" bit. Well, recently he got a bit more specific with his remote control capacity and capability. Apparently this remote control is for the mama robot. It has "pause" features that he uses when he wants to interrupt phone conversations, computer time and other routine house cleaning. This remote also has the ability to run programs with the "play" function such as make me a snack, dole out justice, get me something to play with, and read a book to me. Apparently, there is a "rewind" function whereas mama can be given a "second chance" to consider something the darlin' has already asked for but didn't get. The "fast forward" button is used to find out where we are going, when we are going to get there and what we are going to do once we arrive. Most of these buttons happen in the car, but they also get used the day before a big event or outing. I am not sure I can articulate how I felt when he explained how the remote makes the mama go into the kitchen and make his food for lunch, supper and so on...Well, I suppose you could say I felt a bit used ;-)  Mr. Darcy found this amusing and decided it was a gift of sorts that we could wield with the darlin's. Now he points the imaginary "remote" at our kids and says "pause" to stop arguments, to stop horseplay for mealtimes, and to give them a moment to "think it through" before they are about to do something dangerous. There is a "play" function to ensue chase, illicit performance, and to start homeschool projects. We are still working on "rewind" and "fast forward" but hey, it's a new remote. There are bound to be kinks in the program. I can tell you I wish there was a rewind for the potty, wrestling injuries and temper tantrums...oh well, pause and play are better than nothing. And credit where it's due, Mr. Darcy's ingenuity saves the day again.