Thursday, March 23, 2006

Trying to be a good parent: a few ideas (part 1)

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Trying to be a good parent: a few ideas (part 1)
Current mood: cold

I was thinking of parenting, and of some of the things I try to do as a parent. For instance, I try ALWAYS (except in "emergencies") to pause for an instant before opening my mouth to admonish or redirect Littleman when he is doing something annoying. In that split instant, I review what he is doing and what I was about to say. Is he really hurting anything by doing what he is doing? Is it actually a problem that needs to be addressed, or does my reaction have more to do with my current mood than with his actions? 9 times out of 10, I'll either change how I'm approaching the situation or just decide to shut my mouth altogether and leave him alone. He needs to explore the world, be creative and be independant. I try to keep the list of real no-no's as short as possible, while maintaining his (and our) safety, fostering some good habits and reserving a little prerogative for my own sanity.

One little guideline I read somewhere is the $25. rule: Is he really endangering himself or others? No? Is what he's doing causing more than $25. worth of damage? No? Then don't worry about it. Of course, you have to apply this rule judiciously or $25. would really start to add up! Not to mention that applying this all the time could lead to some destructive habits. But it's a good thought to keep in the back of my mind- for instance, he had a sheet of stickers and of course started pulling off every single sticker to stick onto the mirror. My immediate response was "No, wait, don't waste all your stickers! Don't stick them to the mirror!" But I didn't say it, because the amount of fun he was having was well worth $1.50 and the minor effort of scraping sticker goo off the mirror. Let him have his fun.

Another thing I try to do is offer lots of choices to Littleman throughout the day. Almost any time he can choose between two things and either outcome is OK with me, I let him decide. I'll ask whether he wants juice or milk to drink, whether he wants a plate or a bowl, whether he wants to hold my hand and walk or for me to carry him, whether he wants to wear the sweatpants or the jeans, which movie to watch, what to eat for lunch (within reason), whether he wants to stand on the stool while I brush his teeth, or to sit on my lap. . . choices ad nauseum. But I think that having choices (even if they are carefully screened choices) helps a toddler to feel more in control of their life than they would otherwise, and helps them feel more independant. Also, I think it gives Littleman more practice knowing what he wants and expressing that desire in a coherent, understandable manner. This leads to more success when he tries to manage his own life, therefore less frustration and (I think) fewer tantrums. Also, when it is necessary (for whatever reason, sometimes just because I have HAD IT) to override his desires entirely, at least this is not the usual way of doing things.

OK, Griff is waking so those are all for today. I'll try to think of other things I attempt when it comes to parenting, and write them in a later blog. It is helpful to me to write them down, and who knows? Maybe they will be helpful to someone else too.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

the turning of the year

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

the turning of the year
Current mood: cheerful

First of all, I would like to announce to the world that Mr Cheeks went to sleep at 9:30 last night, slept till 4:30, then after nursing and a diaper change slept till 8:30! OK OK, you might not think that's such big news but it sure is to me. :) He normally eats every three hours around the clock, so that is a vast improvement when it comes to my ability to get a good night's rest. I'm still tired- I have a lot of catching up to do- but it's good news.

I have been so happy to see Spring busting out all over the place. Those couple of 70 degree days were such a breath of fresh air (literally and figuratively). I have been feeling more and more renewed, in a general sort of way. I am inspired to do things again. I didn't feel depressed before, or at least didn't think I did, but I definitely feel happier now that I'm getting outside more, it's not so cold and the leaves are budding out. I'm bummed we never got any real snow, but so be it- it's time for Spring.

All that has got me thinking about seasonal changes, and how I would like to have some sort of ritual or recognition of the turning of the year be a regualr part of my childrens' upbringing. There are remnants of these celebrations in our cultural calendar- Easter in Spring, Halloween in Fall, Christmas (or many other religious holidays) in the Winter. Around here, Billy and I celebrate Summer Solstice with our birthday. But I think I am looking for something more direct. Some special traditions we can enjoy as a family. It doesn't have to be involved. Spring is a good time to plant, for instance. Also a good time to renew acquaintances or reaffirm ties with family. Summer is a time of ripeness, of fun. Great for a picnic, or a trip to clean up a natural place. A time to appreciate Mother Nature. Fall is a wonderful time to reflect on hearth and home- to reconnect with Grandparents, for instance. A time to learn how to cook, how to stock up for the coming winter, in both concrete and emotional ways. And winter is great for talking about death and rebirth, as the darkness comes and the the sun begins it's journey back toward longer days again. Of course, because of all the traditions we already love about Christmastime, it is also a time for giving and receiving, and for family. I'm sure I can think of more.

Did/do any of you have traditions that help you recognize the turning of the year?

It seems like so many people have lost that connection with the earth. We may notice it in passing, as we step outside and see the trees or feel the wind, as we track the weather to be sure we can dress comfortably and not get wet. But to reflect on time passing, to revel in the perfect completeness of this ever turning cycle, is in many ways lost on us. In some ways it is impractical to have perfect awareness of such beautifully all-encompassing truths intrude on our daily hubbub- but in other ways it is imperative that we try to invite it in. I know that I need that connection just as a tree needs it's roots to grow deep into the earth. I drink the completeness, the beauty and eternity of it, and it nourishes my soul. I want to give that connection- nay, an even deeper connection- to my children. I hope they can love, admire and draw comfort from the cycles of the earth just as I do. It will serve them well, and perhaps they will grow up with a respect for these natural things.

Monday, March 13, 2006

the quiet corner

Sunday, March 12, 2006

the quiet corner
Current mood: grateful

Step out the door- chatter, cooking noises, and cousins' laughter fade to a muted din, replaced by the rising tide of frogsong. Small warm body snuggled in my neck, we walk to the quiet corner. Dusky, cooling night breeze stirs the tiniest hint of spring perfume. There, dear- do you see the moon? Isn't she lovely. . . and there my love, do you see the trees sway? Can you hear the frogs calling? Settle on the bench, nurse to your heart's content. Watching the last light fade, there's a bat diving, darting by the lake. Ripples stir, daffodils nod, leaves whisper "Hush mama, hush- pay attention to this time, to this feeling, for it is precious beyond all comprehension. Do not lose it to trivialities." My baby sings to me.

Friday, March 10, 2006

a few (really) random thoughts

Thursday, March 09, 2006

a few (really) random thoughts
Current mood: silly

I was thinking yesterday about the difference between knowledge and ideas. Each needs the other to come to fruition. You may be very knowledgeable, but without good ideas you can't use that knowledge to move ahead. You might have fantastic ideas, but without the knowledge you need to make use of them, they cannot begin to bloom. So if you have one, pursue the other!

I've also been thinking about homeopathic medicine. I want to learn more about it. When you hit on the right remedy, it can be amazingly effective. It works on the principle of "like treats like"- so, to treat a cold that has a symptom of burning, watery eyes you might use a homeopathic dilution of red onion. Red onions cause burning, watery eyes- but as a homeopathic remedy, they make your eyes feel better. I don't really understand it. I have a wonderful book called "Smart Medicine for a Healthier Child" which describes many common childhood ailments, and then lists several treatments: conventional (like what your pediatrician might recommend), herbal, homepathic, acupressure, dietary. . . and finishes up with general recommendations that combine the best of all approaches. I have made use of some of the homeopathic recommendations, with some success. It is a difficult practice to learn, because it is extremely individual- the right remedy for one person might not work for someone else, even if she has the exact same virus (for instance). It all depends on the individual's symptoms and temperament. It can take a bit of trial and error. Maybe I can take a course in it someday.

I like listening to rain.

I don't particularly like having to walk the dog in it. :P

I wonder how Ms Rowling is doing on the final Harry Potter book? I'm dying to read it, though at the same time it will be sad to be done. I guess there's always the movies. Hmm, I wonder how they are coming along? And I wonder what prompted this chain of thought??

I noticed today that my blog now has 200 views. Hey, I guess someone out there (besides G of course! :) ) is actually reading this! Too bad I don't have anything great to say tonight. I'm pretty beat. Littleman has been bringing home every damn bug that comes down the pike, and my immune system is in overdrive I think. Plus I am relatively sleepless, of course, since Griff has been eating like a horse round the clock. Eew, too many bland cliches in there. To make a long story short (ha, another one!) I am a little loopy.

Hi ho, hi ho, on that note I'll sign off for the evening. Maybe after I pay a few bills I can go to sleep!

Friday, March 3, 2006

Fantasia, clean diapers and following directions

Friday, March 03, 2006

Fantasia, clean diapers and following directions
Current mood: sick

I'm sick again. Knock on wood, but the boys all seem OK- it's just me now. So that's the silver lining.

Tonight I was changing Griff's diaper, and realized I was all out of clean diapers within arm's reach there (we use cloth diapers). So, I tried to get Littleman to grab a diaper out of the nursery and bring it to me. He is getting better at following directions, but it's still a bit iffy as to whether he will really get the picture. Well, it took a few tries, but he finally walked in and handed me a couple disposable diapers. Aww! What a good helper. I'd have used them, but Griff has a bad rash right now and the cloth is better for his bum. So I tried again, specifying that the CLOTH diapers are on the chair that the cat usually likes to sleep in. (Because I knew he would be able to identify the chair with that description). But then he just started looking for the cat, and letting me know he couldn't find her. Oh, well.

I put Griff down and went and to get some clean diapers myself. I thanked Littleman for being such a good helper, but he looked a little crestfallen when he saw me getting the diapers. Next thing I know, I am finishing changing Griff and in walks Littleman with a few cloth diapers for me! What a sweetie.

Then he arrives at my side with a few more. . . then a few more. . . and some more. . . next thing I know, I'm feeling like Mickey Mouse in Fantasia, when he has put a spell on the broom to make it do chores, but when the chore is done Mickey can't get the broom to stop! Luckily though Littleman either lost interest or ran out of diapers. :) Still, it made me smile.

Which is a good thing, because my throat feels like fire, I ache all over, I'm sooooo tired and my whole head feels achy and swollen. Delightful. I just REALLY hope the boys don't get it. There. Now I've had my whining for the day! Good night! :)