Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Creating Calm: The Great American Road Trip & Tips

We all want to be "Happy as a Clam" ... and for this Drill Sargent, it isn't as easy as I'd like it to be.  Although, we are always progressing forward.. leaps and bounds and hopefully, I am letting go of some of my military-esque parenting tactics.

And yet.. we are (as a family) venturing out on a Road Trip.. yes the gaggle in a car for an extended period (here's to hoping I still have hair and it isn't completely grey).

So I did what I do best.. prepare and Google!!  I came across so many great ideas for so many of my wonderful blogger friends.  Here are just a few and then I'll give you MY first TIP (modified from my internet finds)!

So what are some of your ideas/techniques for creating Calm in the Car so you can be Happy as a Clam?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Edu-macating Educators

Bella is in Kindergarten this year, she is younger Kindergarten (she turned 5 after the start of the school year) but she is a bright kid.  She knew her alphabet (upper and lower case), her numbers to 20 (recognizing them), could count to 100 (got stuck a bit on 50), knew some of her sight words, and how to spell her name.. intellectually she was ready for Kindergarten.  Sadly, behaviorally she still couldn't sit still through a Disney Princess movie, never mind the marathon of all day Kindergarten but we enrolled her anyway.  Our hope was that being around child a bit older would increase her maturity and her behavior.

I've never posted much about the children's behavior or any issues that we go through as a result of their past life experiences.  Mainly for their privacy and ours.  But sometimes things need to be discussed openly for both my benefit and for others to understand and learn how to better help children who come from traumatic and/or neglectful pasts.

We are presently in the process of having her evaluated for an IEP (Individualized Education Plan).  Honestly, I am scared...  I am so scared that they School District will find that she is not in need of an IEP, even though I KNOW she does need one.  She is fully capable of learning but the classroom environment sets her off.  I can't seem to pinpoint a trigger, but it does seem to be centralized around larger group activities (circle time, recess, the bus ride, e.g.).  At those times her behavior is just out of control (to put it simply) she becomes defiant (yelling and screaming at those in authority roles, running away from the teachers and other adults, and even physically hurting other students by pushing or pulling them).

Monday, February 4, 2013

This is an older blog post, but it was shared recently by a friend and hit home (and admittedly, stung a bit too):  How to Miss a Childhood by HandsFreeMama.

What do I want my children to have as memories?  Of course some of the same things I remember... Weren't we all Wonder Woman or SuperMan at some point?  Jumping off buildings (swing sets) in a single bound?  -- okay sorry Mom and Dad, but we did jump off the barn roof too, among other things that will not be admitted to you or my children.

I just don't know where to find the time...  With 5 kids and working full time, our schedules are jam packed. And this is without extra activities, like soccer or girl scouts.  I am reluctant to even add those to my schedule.  But I am missing out on their childhood... and so are they.  I have even taken to pacifying and bribing them with video game play (the current favorite is Smurfs Dance Party for Wii), just to get other things done.

Here is a list of some favorite memories from my childhood:

  • roaming free 
  • building forts
  • blanket forts
  • playing board games
  • learning how to shuffle a deck of cards
  • getting my nails done (by my mom -- which first involved soaking them in warm water and soap)
  • riding my bike
  • a sick day of Sonic video game play (my brother and I beat it -- I can't even tell you what we were sick from)
  • Disney Movie night (on TV)
What I am afraid my children will remember:
  • me being on my cell phone
  • me placating them with video games
  • being sent outside to play on the swing set so I could clean the house
Although, reading my list of memories.. I am *now* sure that some of those items were my parents shooing us away to get things done.

So how do I accomplish "Not missing out on Childhood" from their end and mine?  

I don't get home from work till about 6pm or 6:30pm...  I make dinner.. we eat dinner.. and then its off to bed at 8:30pm.  Not much time in there.  In the morning its getting everyone ready, making lunches, and then out the door and off to daycare/school/work.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Life Books: Part II (the cover letter & template)

So, I know what your questions are about Life Books... What should I write in the Life Book?  What do I include?  I don't have baby pics or bio family pics, what then?

My answers... be as bland as possible when discussing why the children where in care.  I use words like "wrong choices" and "big problems" (these are direct from books I have read to my children about Foster Care and Adoption:  Maybe Days, Families Change, Kids Need to be Safe, and The Star).  Do not write specifically about what "choices" or "problems" the birth family had... these are questions that can be answered as the child asks and your answers can be suitable to the child's age (for our children with their young ages.. "big problem" suffices to squelch the curiosity).

Pictures:  Stalk social media... yup, right click and/or print screen work wonders for pictures.  Or if you still don't have anything, then have the child draw pictures if they are old enough.  And if you still come up short then you can always add artwork they've done, just to make the pages look "perty".

The big thing I like to have in my Life Books is a Cover Letter.. and Introduction to the book if you would.  Here are the links to a blanket letter and a template for a Life Book (from MixBook).

Good Luck, Enjoy, and don't be afraid to Be Creative... at best they'll have a complete book with pictures of everyone and information about them and at worst they'll have a book that documents their time with you as their Foster Family.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Life Books: Where to begin?!?

So part of a child's journey in life inevitably involves the creation of a "Baby Book" of sorts.. It tells them their story through words and/or pictures.  In the Foster Care world and even Adoption, we call these books "Life Books".

I have created three, and I have to say that "A"arron's is by far the best... probably because it looks like a baby book.  It covers the first year of his life, his milestones through his adoption date.  For "C"indy and "B"ella I am missing all of their milestones and baby pictures.  I do have pictures of their birth families from physical photos given to them while they were in foster care... but the books still seem incomplete.

At some point, I found this fabulous letter from a CaseWorker as an introduction to the Life Book.  I was able to copy and paste it and edit it to my liking.  But now that I am working on my fourth and fifth Life Books.. that letter is NO WHERE to be found.  {so much for my wonderful Google skills}

There are websites that you can order Life Books from and even suggestions on what to do (personally, I prefer Shutterfly hard cover books -- sometimes there are Groupons for them for only $10 plus shipping -- I have a fear that pictures/pages can get removed from a binder and then the child has nothing).

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Just Hurdling...

Even though I find blogging/writing/journaling therapeutic... sometimes I just don't have the time to get it all out and share the nonsense in my head.

In March we took two new placements (again for privacy purposes their names will be changed):  "D"ylan (boy) and "E"mma (girl).  At the time, they were placed with us "D" was 8 weeks old and he slept through the night (he still sleeps through the night) and "E" was 2 1/2 years old.  "D" is a pretty cheery little guy.. although he does turn into a gremlin if he is overtired.  And "E" was quite shy in the beginning... she wouldn't talk to adults and barely spoke.  We initially thought she had some sort of developmental or cognitive delay, but she has come around... first speaking with the other children and then forming trust with the adults in her life and having full on conversations with us.  They are an interesting addition to the home and family unit, but they are foster children... we have no plans on pursuing adoption should they be unable to be reunified.  We know that this is best for them and our family and that there is an amazing set of people out there who would be blessed to have them should they be unable to be reunited with biological family.

And, happily our family is complete!! The missing puzzle piece has been found and we are overjoyed that "C"indy and "B"ella are our daughters! We had a small ceremony at church, in which we said a prayer with our congregation and some of our family was able to attend (not living in the same state as our families can be a drag for moments like this).  The girls started the school year with their new names and were soo excited!!

We've had some behavioral issues with "B"ella post adoption and my anxiety has shot through the roof!  But we are working through things, her therapy sessions have increased and so has my listening to Love & Logic CD's during my commute.  We have discussed medication, but really feel that isn't a great choice, given her past and possible predisposition to addiction.  We'd like to utilize Occupational/Behavioral Therapy instead of medication... she is only 5 years old and with her trauma history is emotionally a 3 year old (maybe 4 year old).. so her behaviors are on target for her emotional age.  Sometimes meeting her where she is emotionally is easier said then done... again that is where L&L is my saving grace... along with giving myself a time-out.

Right now she said she enjoys writing sentences as a consequence.. I believe it gives her time to process right from wrong.  She writes 5 sentences.. usually it is "I will sit on the carpet at circle time." and she says the sentence as she writes.  The next day she has a great day at school.. there are some mornings that she just wakes up on the wrong side of the bed. And its like dealing with Oscar the Grouch.  She'll do everything in her power to annoy every person in our home.. typically the other children.  And once she is put in a time out for that... she is on the wrong foot for the rest of the day.  Tuesday it was turning off and on the kitchen lights while I was getting ready.. I hear "A"arron screaming at her "DOP IT!! I TANT SEE!! DOP ITT!!!!" and "E"mma "Peas Stop!!" and even "C"indy "They are asking you nicely!"  Finally, I call down.. "That's it, turn the lights back on and sit on the step until we are ready to leave!"  Yah not very L&L of me... its not always easy to be a consultant parent.. the drill sargent comes much more naturally for me.  HOOORAHH!!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Nanny 911

So, we have switched from having a daycare provider at a daycare center to the children being at home with a "Nanny" for lack of a better term.  They seem happier (the children that is) and it makes my morning less stressful, so that makes me happier.

Our Nanny doesn't live with us, she arrives in the morning while I am getting ready and gets the children breakfast.  They are usually sitting at the table happy as can be when I leave.  I get kisses from them and off I go.

At daycare there would be days I would be LUCKY to even get a wave goodbye, never mind a kiss!  There were fits and tantrums getting dressed in the morning, there were fits depending on which daycare teacher was in the classroom at drop off.

The only thing that hasn't changed, is super excited children when I walk in the door from work... "MOMMY MOMMY!! You look pretty Mommy!!" or "Up, Up!! Up Peace"  How can resist?  I scoop up "A"arron and get a nice big hug and wet kiss!  Even our Furbabies are happy.. they get the privelage of not being a crate for 9 hours a day!

Do any of you have a Nanny or in home caregiver?  What are your likes and dislikes? AND.. what do you do about taxes?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Preschool Weekly Lesson #2

Weekly Theme (Start Monday, continue with the theme all week)
This week's theme is B.
The vocabulary word are bed, bug, ball, bee, bat.

Books to read aloud that support the theme:
(You can choose one book to read all week, or a new book for each day. These are just suggestions, you may find others related to the theme in your library.)

Books to read aloud: Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey 
The Big Balloon Race by Eleanor Coerr 
The Little Ballerina by Katharine Ross 

Poems that support the theme:
"Bee" by Ellie Shumaker

How perfect it is
to hum and be silent, to hum and be silent,
doused in warm rays,
to be surrounded on every side
by petal-beauty symmetry --
gold satin, pink velvet, royal purple silk --
to journey as an honored prince
in the quiet realm of breeze-bent green;
to seek patiently amidst the love shapes --
circles and ovals and cylinders --
for tiny sips of sweetness;
to hold a minute weapon, never for crueltybut only for kindness to self;
to spread about, by just a touch,
without even trying,
grains for new life;
to be filled, tender and heavy,
and spin away toward the cozy hollow,
there to share the meadow's seed!
s, its sugar;
then to buzz and twirl, to buzz and twirl,
and by this private dance
to show a way, a path to fly
to the Sun's kingdom.

"My Bed is a Boat" by R. L. Stevenson 

My bed is like a little boat;
     Nurse helps me in when I embark;
She girds me in my sailor's coat
     And starts me in the dark.

At night I go on board and say
     Good-night to all my friends on shore;
I shut my eyes and sail away
     And see and hear no more.

And sometimes things to bed I take,
     As prudent sailors have to do;
Perhaps a slice of wedding-cake,
     Perhaps a toy or two.

All night across the dark we steer;
     But when the day returns at last,
Safe in my room beside the pier,
     I find my vessel fast.

Gross Motor Skills Activity: (Monday)
Using a large ball, play games to encourage your child to kick the ball, using one foot at a time. You could also throw and catch it to each other.

Fine Motor Skills Activity: (Friday)

Beads in a Paint Palette

A clear cup of multicolored faceted plastic beads was placed in the middle of the tray. The children use their thumb and forefinger to grasp each bead and place it in one of the bowls of the paint palette tray. The children sorted the beads into the tray by color. Each bowl of the tray holds about 4 beads. A muffin tin could also be used for this activity, but I prefer the paint palette tray because each bowl is smaller and the children have to be more precise about placing the bead into the bowl. The beads and paint palette trays were purchased in a craft store. (Read more: http://prekinders.com/fine-motor-skills/#ixzz1kCtNXKlj)

Shape/Color (Tuesday)
This week you will teach the shape of a circle.
  • Walk through your home looking for circles.
  • Cut circles out of construction paper.
  • Paper towel tube art.  Use an old paper towel tube and stamp circles, discuss the shape.
This week you will teach the color of a yellow.
  • Find Something Yellow Have the children find something in the room that is yellow and have each child bring it to circle time. Have each child tell the class what they have found.
  • Yellow Chat Have the children name as many things they can that are yellow. Write down their list.
  • Lacing Cards Cut yellow poster board into shapes and punch holes around the edges. Then let your child lace yarn or a shoestring into the cards. 
  • Fingerprint Bugs A Big Hit with my Toddlers) Supply each child with a piece of white paper and a yellow non-toxic stamp pad. Show the child how to make fingerprints on the paper, using only one finger at a time. When finished, add legs and antennae with a black pen, or for older children, have them add the legs and antennae. 
Letter (Wednesday)
The letter this week is the letter B.
  • Give your child a printout of the (capital) letter B to color. ~Letter Printouts~
  • Teach your child to trace the shape of the letter B using his finger. You can trace in pudding, finger paint, a shallow tray (cookie sheet) filled with rice or beans, etc.
  • Point out the letter B in signs, cereal boxes, etc.
  • Post the letter B on your learning poster.
Number (Thursday)
The number this week is the number 2.
  • Show your child 2 object to count, or eat 2 cracker, 2 cheerio, etc.
  • Show your child the written symbol (numeral) for 2 and put on your learning poster.
  • Add 2 sticker to your counting book.
  • Show your matching index cards for the number 2 to your child.
  • Draw 2 square on a piece of paper and count it with your child.
  • Walk around your home counting 2 of many different objects.
Song / Nursery Rhyme / Fable (Friday)
"Baa, Baa, Black Sheep" a nursery rhyme 

Baa, Baa, black sheep, 

have you any wool?
Yes sir, yes sir -
three bags full:

One for the master,
one for the dame,
And one for the little boy
that lives down the lane.

Baa, Baa, black sheep, 

have you any wool?
Yes sir, yes sir -
three bags full.

For this Week's Lesson in PDF Format - Click Here!

Friday, January 20, 2012

A DIY Chore Chart & Giveaway!

So I am not the DIY Crafty kind.. I try, but really it isn't me.

I am in love with Pinterest, but seriously I have no clue when I am supposed to have time enough to ever actually create any of the stuff I love on there!

But the hubs and I decided we needed to figure out how to give the girls an allowance.   We are in the camp that you don't get paid for chores.  Chores are expected, they are something you do because you are in a family, you live in a home.  As adults you don't get paid for chores, you just do them because they need to be done.  So, how do we accomplish giving them allowance that they can earn and teach them about the responsibility of chores?  Well, I had a great discussion with my friend D (who has a fab Etsy Shop ~ The Super Cute Boutique) and she is in the same arena my husband and I are.  Chores are Chores and you don't get paid for them (sorry to rat you out D).  But within that discussion, D and I developed a plan!  A LOOPHOLE to the no payment for chores sentiment.

The Plan:
  • The children will be required to do chores/tasks based on their age range (e.g. ages 2-3 appropriate chores).
  • They can do chores/tasks that are in the age range above theirs to earn money (e.g. ages 4-5 appropriate chores).
  • The chore tiles go up to about 16 years old and starts at ages 2 & 3.
  • Since our girls are ages 4 & 6, they will be required to do their daily/weekly chores based on ages 2-6.
  • To earn money they can do chores in the 7-9 age range (e.g. vacuuming, dusting, etc.).
  • We will use the white board to track their earnings and if they want to "bank" the money rather than physically keep it their banks.

The Creation of the Chore Chart:
(modified from Not So Idle Hands plans)

Here's what you need:
Then, I print out the names onto the paper and put the magnets on the back or you can adhere them with just a few pieces of double stick tape.

Print out your "Chore Tiles" and collect your items (the magnets, stickers, and "Chore Tiles").
Place the magnets on the back of your cut out "Chore Tiles" (you can skip the next step if you don't want to use the epoxy stickers and just print the "Chore Tiles" on a nice thick cardstock).

For the magnets, I used the epoxy stickers (make sure you don't touch the sticky side, you'll get fingerprints on them) and the sticker magnets. 

 Then CAREFULLY place the epoxy stickers to your "Chore Tiles" ... I used the magnets to hold the "Chore Tiles" so that I could place them on the super sticky epoxy stickers.


And here is our FINAL PRODUCT!!

This process was quite time consuming, but I luckily had the help from "C"indy.. she happily stuck the magnets on the back of the "Chore Tiles" while I dealt with my epoxy stickers.. again CAREFULLY.  Oh, and I duplicated some of the tiles because each girl needs to be responsible for the chore (e.g. brushing their hair, brushing their teeth, taking a shower); whereas some chores really can only be accomplished by one person (e.g. feed the dogs).

And because I am the coolest blogger EVER.. I am giving you the pdf version of the "Chore Tiles"!!  Yup that is right.. for a limited time you've can win you're very own DIY CHORE CHART, from your's truly!  Just Click Here!!  After that they will be available on Etsy!  


Friday, January 13, 2012

Help me and earn a Giveaway!!

My upcoming post will be instructions on your very own Chore Chart.. 

and if I can get 100 followers, 

I'll do a giveaway!!


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