Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Head Lice Infestation!

Mini Me got head lice. I never thought it possible. We are a curly headed family. And we use a lot of product in our hair. Didn't think we could be afflicted. But alas, we have been.

In all honesty, it has not been as bad as everyone has made it out to be. Everyone in Widney Loft was lice shampooed and nit checked (to be safe). Sure, it took me 2.5 hours to comb through Mini Me's hair with a nit comb. I made sure to section her hair off in small chunks and went over each section numerous times from each angle. Then when each section was done, I went over the whole thing a few more times. If my daughter had fine, straight hair, it would have been even easier. But it wasn't that bad.

Even the house de-lousing everyone complains about was not that hard. We put all of their stuffed animals away for two weeks. We washed all of our most recently worn clothes (J had just washed everything so we were in a pretty good place). We washed everyone's bed sheets. Finally, we vacuumed the living room sofa and carseat headrest. But honestly not hard.

Maybe we did something wrong. Everyone makes it out to be the most horrible, horrific experience ever. That you should drop a couple grand to have some Lice Fairy hair salon go through your family's hair with - literally - a fine toothed comb. Or that you should use all these specific products to get your child's hair and your home cleaned. I don't know. Maybe I did do something wrong. But it's gone from Mini Me's hair and we survived.

Have you ever had head lice in your family? What did you use?

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Knowing Me Knowing You - February '12

My friend, The Fairy Blogmother FINALLY posted a new "Knowing Me, Knowing You" so I am happy to play along.

1. What is the one thing you wish you were better at as a blogger?I used to blog every day. And I used to miss reading my blog friends' sites every day. I miss that. I miss my blog world.

2. What is your favorite way to treat yourself/pamper yourself?I like my alone time. I like to go get a pedicure and my waxing done by myself. A massage and alone time is divine.

3. Do you (or have you in the past) work outside the home?  If so, what do you do?I do marketing and admissions for a private school. I LOVE what I do. I LOVE where I do it. 

4. What is your favorite thing about blogging?I can get my thoughts and feelings out and that is therapy for me.

5. If you could magically be anything you wanted to be (without needing additional education or childcare) what would you be?
I'd like to be a psychologist. Have a license to tell people how to run their lives instead of now - I tell them but I don't have a license.

6. Do you like to travel? If so, what is your favorite destination?Yeah, I like to travel but I don't want to waste money on it. Meaning, I want to rest on vacation. I don't want to spend a bunch of money traveling somewhere to lounge at the pool reading when I can curl up with a good book in my pajamas in my bed. That said, I've traveled a fair bit and seen a bunch of stuff and have rather enjoyed it.

7. Are you an adventurous eater?Yes. I've eaten things other people would not eat like alligator, cow testicles, rattlesnake, shark, all manner of sea creature, etc.. Doesn't mean I would eat it twice. What doesn't kill strengthens, right?

8. How would you describe yourself? Type A-/B+ personality. I come across as an A-type until you put me next to an alpha female and then you realize that my shy side is there and I no longer dominate the room. But without the other alpha female, it's my show, my friend.

9. Have you ever met your online/blogger friends in real life? What was it like?I think the first bloggy friend I met was The Fairy Blogmother. I knew her well enough from her blog that I knew she was shy and it would take some prodding to get her to come meet me - even though it was with a mutual real life friend, NAMK and her family. 

And I met A2EatWrite in Ann Arbor, MI in 2010. She made me the most delightful cookies. My mom and sister thought I was going to be killed by her. They were so wrong. A2EatWrite was like hanging out with my best friend that I had not seen a couple of years.

10. Do you have a best friend? How long have you known them?J has been my best friend for 15 years. This is both good and bad. Good because I have a "built-in" best friend. I've never been best at nurturing female relationships. So having a built-in bestie makes it even harder for me to put forth the effort to connect. I have many good friends but I don't talk on the phone with anyone nor do I go out shopping or to lunch with the girls often (every really).

11. Do you still live in the same town where you grew up?
Nope. That ship sailed at 18 years of age when I took the first opportunity to move back to Toronto. I always think I can live a small town, small city life but I really can't. I can do it for a little bit until the novelty wears off but I need concrete under my feet and skyscrapers above my head to feel comfortable in my own skin.

Okay, so head on over to The Fairy Blogmother and play along...

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Madonna Strong

Everyone has an opinion on Madonna's performance at the 2012 Super Bowl. This is NOT yet another arm chair quarterback critique. In fact, I read a great blog post that talked about how Madonna has always been a fighter. It's true. She has.

Madonna was always different. I remember seeing interviews with her former roommates and friends about when she was starting out. They all say that Madonna was talented, hard-working and different. Say what you will about her, you have to admit she is hard-working. That she is a fighter. That she demands perfection from herself and others. And that she doesn't give up. I admire that about her.

In my life, it seems like we get over one thing and start to feel like we can walk on sure footing and then we are smacked in the face with something else. I'm tired. I don't want to do "it" anymore. I just want to have a chance to rest and relax. For years it's been immigration, infertility, adoption, unemployment, etc. The list goes on. I try not to look at other people's lives because I know it is all surface perfection. I know we all have our struggles. When you go through infertility, you ask "why is it so easy for some people?" Is it worth fighting for? The past year, and especially the last few months have been trying. At times, I just feel like, "God, can I please get a break?"

Then I read a great blog post about Madonna and how she has been fighting from the beginning. At 53, Madonna should be able to sit back and enjoy the fruits of her labor. But that is not how the woman is wired. And that is not how her life - or mine, or yours - is wired. We are in a constant struggle and battle. There is always something on the horizon. Some "bad news" or some "hurdle" we need to overcome. It's life.

Now, there is a difference between "struggle" and "drama."  Martin Luther King, Jr. had struggles. Rodney King had drama. Martin Luther King struggled for a purpose. He had a means to an end. His struggle was justified. No, I'm not about to compare Madonna's struggles with the greatest civil rights leader of the 20th century's struggles. The point is, in our lives, do we have struggles or do we have drama? Is it our struggle or is it someone else's drama that we are allowing to be our struggle? Some people took Rodney King's drama and made it their struggle when they burned down parts of L.A. Is it your struggle? Is it your drama? Or is it someone else's?

One nice thing about being over 40 is that I am at a stage in my life where I feel like I can really say: "I'm not taking your crap on." While I may not say that to someone's face, I am saying it to myself. I can distance myself from what I don't want to be involved in, including other people's drama.

Another nice thing about this stage of my life is that I know myself. I know how to read my own language. So the other day when I was feeling like I wanted to slap everyone around me silly, I realized my hormones were ramping up and I needed to step back and chill out. Otherwise, the drama created would have been mine. Created by me.

Ultimately though, we all have our own struggles. I think the difference is in how we approach it. Do we embrace the struggle, learn and move on? Or do we curl up in a ball and run from it? We need to know when to stand strong and when to run. When I did crisis pregnancy counseling, I often asked the girls to imagine what is the worst thing that could happen if they told their parents they were pregnant. And then I asked them the best thing. Usually, the reality is somewhere in between - parents typically don't kill their daughters for getting pregnant. What's the best thing that could happen if you go for it? What is the worst thing? Sometimes, we don't know the answer to that question. We just know we are in the struggle and we have to see it to the end.

Sometimes our struggles make us stronger. Other times, it puts us one step closer to the prize. If we had not struggled with infertility. If we had not ruled out reproductive options. If we had not stumbled through the adoption process. We would not be our son's parents. People all over the world would not have been touched by our son's story. We could have decided to remain childless. Nothing wrong with that choice. Some days I regret not going that route. But there was something inside that made us move on and keep going. Keep fighting.

It's that drive and desire inside that keeps us going. That keeps us moving from struggle to struggle to victory. It's knowing that we can do better. We can be better. That "thing" inside us that won't let us rest. That won't let us quit early. That even when we are at the top of our game, like Madonna has been, that makes us keep going. Keep reaching.

Where will today's struggle take you tomorrow?  What prize is waiting to be unlocked in your life?

Sunday, February 5, 2012

The Value of Books: Children and Reading

I am a book LOVER. I would own every book imaginable if I could. If I were Oprah rich, I would buy a library and sit there and read for hours and days and weeks on end. At one point when I was in grade six or seven, I had read all of the books in the Bookmobile that came to our neighborhood - and could tell you what each was about.

I love the smell of books. I love the feel of books - hardcover or softcover, it doesn't matter. I love reading books on my iPad. I love listening to books as they are read to me. I. Love. Books. I love reading newspapers and will read anything I can. Even upside down on your desk...

And I want my children to love reading too.

While I want my children to love books that mean something, I realize the value in "garbage reading." What is garbage to me is often a gem to my children. Case in point: the Diary of a Wimpy Kid Series. I don't like the meanness, bullying, and irresponsibility portrayed in the books. However, my boy loves them. My goal is to get my son reading so I have purchased several in the series for him and we have listened to them on audiobook in the car. I just have to follow up with life lessons so he doesn't treat others that way.

Our son's principal recognized the love he and several boys in the class had for all things Titanic when they were in first grade. She purchased new library books on the Titanic at their reading level. This helped to bring a heavy topic to a child's comprehension level. My son is an artist so he draws everything he is reading. It's a double benefit for him.

What holds your child's interest? If it's Barbie then let your daughter read Barbie books. If it's Sonic the Hedgehog, buy some Sonic cartoon books. Personally, I believe that what gets your children reading is what is important. You can work with them on the content later.

My children are ages 9 and 6 right now. I still read to them. I thought I should be phasing it out, especially for the oldest. But then I read a few articles that talk about the value of reading to your children well beyond middle school. Reading to your children helps them to understand the cadence/rhythm and pronunciation of words. It helps them develop and improve literacy skills such as increasing their vocabulary, improves attention span, nurtures emotional development, stimulates imagination, and improves problem-solving and analytical thinking.

Children listen on a higher level than they read so listening to adult readers stimulates growth and understanding of vocabulary and language patterns. It enables them to "read" books beyond their literacy level. Plus, it builds memories and bonds with your children.

I will tell you that reading with your child need not be drudgery. Once, our local librarian said her daughter hated "Alice the Fairy" but I was convinced my daughter would love it. I put on a "fairy" voice and so began my children's love affair with Alice. We bought the book for our home library. I even read it in that crazy voice for my daughter's classmates - and they LOVED it!!!

When I read a "Series of Unfortunate Events" to my children, I use a British accent. And when I read Elephant and Piggy books by Mo Willems, I use a politically incorrect southern African American male voice. The point is, have fun with the books. Find the voice of the book that works for your family.

Well, I must end this now so I can go live what I just preached. I am getting ready to read "The Littles" to them right now. What are you reading to your children?

The Littles

Do you remember reading "The Littles" when you were a kid? I LOVED the Little family. I used to wish we had tiny humans with mouse tails living in our walls.

In fact, one time, we had a 2"x2" hole in a wall by the baseboard and I told a friend that the Littles lived in the walls and used that hole to get in and out. In hindsight, she probably thought we had mice. No mice. Just my very vivid 10-year old imagination.

I'm always in search of book series' to grab my children's interests. (I got them hooked on Lemony Snickets "A Series of Unfortunate Events" and Motor Mouth hooked on "39 Clues.") Needless to say, I was extremely happy when the children jumped on board and got excited about me reading The Littles to them. Did you know that there is value in reading aloud to children right through middle school and beyond? Reading to your children should no stop once they can read to themselves.

I found the first Littles book in the series at a Barnes & Noble in town. I found 6 more in the series while hanging out in-store at www.Open-Books.org (great organization, check them out). I ordered two more from Scholastic through school. Now I'm on the hunt for the final 3 titles I'm missing.

We are an excited family!

Widney Christmas Tree Watch 2012

One post a day until the tree is packed away.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Wednesday, February 1, 2012 

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Friday, February 3, 2012

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Bead Parenting

Now that our children are a little older, the most successful parenting tool has been a bead reward system.

It started off with a complex chart of what they needed to do in the morning and after school. Things like brushing their teeth, getting dressed, putting their swim clothes in front of the washer, etc. They could earn bonus beads for being kind and considerate of each other and others. Beads were taken away if they did not obey the first time (with a warning that they would lose beads) The reward for filling their jars was either money ($7) or a play date. They took to it!

Why $7? I didn't feel like doling out $20/week. And when I said $7, they were really excited! Turns out, it takes about a month to fill their jars. We tend to give them about $10 each.

To keep it fresh, the chart evolves. Whereas they were given beads for basic things they did, if they did not do them, beads were taken away. No swim clothes by the washer? Lose 2 beads. Motor Mouth goes to the pool 4x/wk so that can add up!

For awhile, the kids kept wetting their bed. It was insane. I decided to reward them for dry nights. Five beads for waking up dry. Wasn't sure this was good for their psyche but it worked. Dry mornings! Before the new year, we said they would stop getting beads for this as of New Year's Day.

We now give Mini Me 3 beads for waking up. BUT, if she cries for no reason, she loses 2 beads each cry. Crying has reduced.

Motor Mouth gets beads for getting all of his spelling and vocab words and memory verse right.

Both kids get extra beads for helping or being considerate of others. If we get a good report from the sitter, they are respectful to grow ups, behave in public, etc. they get bonus beads.

Conversely, if they are being an absolute putz, they get beads taken away. We give warnings and often it is enough to elicit the desired response. The beads removed must match the infraction.

We realize this is a temporary system. But until the kids figure beads with the hope of a play date or cash is lame, we are relishing the system.

Details on the Beads:
I first wanted to do marbles. I went online to order some but decided to go with the beads instead when I walked in to Pier 1 and found these lovely gems. I was able to pick some that matched Widney Loft that the children would like. The glasses were on sale as well. About 8 oz glasses. The circles are Mini Me's and the stripes are Motor Mouths. Kids have to fill their glasses to get a reward.

When the kids do well, they get the beads in their glass. When they don't do well, they lose a bead to the jar.