Thursday, August 22, 2013

Sticker Chart

Princess is three years old.  Three and a half, actually.  It's time for her to sleep (all night) in her own bed.  Some of you say she should have done that years ago.  Others of you say let her stay with us until she moves out.  Whatever your opinion, this has been our parenting decision.

Princess has been going to bed in her own bed just fine for a while now.  The problem is that she comes into our room in the middle of the night and crawls into bed with us.  I wouldn't have too much of a problem with this, but she tosses and turns and thrashes about.  I already have Flower in bed with me.  I don't want Princess to accidentally injure her.  Thus, I stay up all night trying to ward off Princess's attacks.  It's seriously more exhausting than waking up every couple of hours.

We tried talking about being a "big girl."  We made her room into a pink princess getaway.  She has a nightlight.  She has a unicorn pillow pet thing that shoots stars onto the walls and ceiling.  She has her dolls and stuffed animals.  I know none of this is a replacement for cuddling with Mommy and Daddy, but Mommy and Daddy need space.

Enter the sticker chart.

A friend of mine told me about doing a sticker chart with her daughter for something (for the life of me I can't remember what).  But the idea is brilliant (and as a teacher I'm very familiar with the concept).  For Princess's sticker chart, we are using a calendar.  Each night she stays all night in her big girl bed (excluding getting up to use the restroom), she can put a sticker on the calendar the next morning.  In a week, she has the chance to earn seven stickers (duh).  To make the idea more attainable, she only has to earn five stickers within a given week to earn a prize.

We worked out that the prize is a "sleepover" date with Daddy.  They hang out, eat popcorn and/or ice cream and/or Oreos with milk, and watch a Disney movie of her choice together before she goes to sleep.

Princess is loving the sticker chart.  She is so excited to earn her stickers and constantly talks about the movie she is going to watch with her daddy.  We've been doing it for over a month now and she's been able to watch quite a few princess movies.

I can't say that it's been perfect (some weeks she just decides she doesn't want her sleepover and crawls into bed with us practically every night), but the sticker chart has definitely been motivating to her.  I've been able to get better quality sleep (this is huge for me), and she has something to work towards.  I'm not sure how long we will continue it, but I don't see an end in sight in the foreseeable future.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Appliance Junkie

In my quest for domestication, I've taken to creating more things at home.  For example, I'm trying to cook a lot more from scratch now.  I have been reading a ton about healthy eating and how what we eat really affects us, so I'm trying to feed my family healthier.  Or healthy-ish.  Or just better.  This means making many items at home instead of buying from the store.

The first major appliance I bought was a crockpot.  I had a small one that had been a wedding gift, but I wanted something larger.  Plus, I had prepped all of those crockpot meals for when Flower came and I needed a crockpot large enough to cook them in.  I shopped around and found a Hamilton Beach 6.5 (I think) quart crockpot.  I have definitely gotten my money's worth out of it, and plan on using it until it dies.  It's a good size, easy to clean, and easy to use.

My brother gifted me a little Ninja food processor, and I absolutely love it.  I think I use it practically every day.  It's a great size, easy to clean, and chops wonderfully.  Plus, Princess loves to help me use it by pressing the lever to make it chop.  

The next appliance I bought was an ice cream maker.  Due to my dairy strike (Flower's little intestines were irritated when I would eat dairy and she would have blood in her diaper, poor thing), I really wanted ice cream.  However the soy and coconut milk ice creams that I found were limited in flavors and a lot more expensive than I had anticipated.  Thus I came up with the brilliant idea to make my own non-dairy ice creams.

After trying to make a batch of ice cream using the baggie method (Google it), I gave in and bought a Cuisinart ice cream maker.  Princess and I have fun making different batches of ice cream depending on what we have on hand.  I think I may  have gotten carried away, though.  I have about a gallon of ice cream in a variety of flavors in my freezer right now that needs to be eaten.

The next item I want is a bread maker.  Supposedly bread is super easy to make.  I know I've made bread in the past before without a breadmaker, but I think those make it a little easier.  How cool would it be to create my own bread every few days.  I can smell it now, rosemary herb wafting in the air as the dough rises....

I also want a juicer.  Apparently juicing is totally in right now.  Or maybe it's on the out and I'm behind in the times.  Whatever.  I'm concerned about the amount of vegetables Princess is eating (like none), but I know she loves juice.  I make smoothies a lot now, but Princess doesn't always drink them with me.  I don't think she likes the texture. Plus, how fun would it be to say, "My baby drinks homemade apple juice."  Ha. 

Add to my list a stand-up mixer.  Hello, homemade pasta!  And more cookies. And mashed potatoes.  And mashed cauliflower.   (Although I tried it one time and no way did it resemble mashed potatoes.  Need to revamp and try again.  Perhaps the stand up mixer is the secret).

That's it for now.  Goodbye counter space.   

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Swim Lessons, Summer 2013

Princess took swim lessons for two weeks this summer.  It was the same class she took last year, Sea Turtles.  Last year she sat on the sidelines and had to be coaxed into the water.  At the end of the class she received a report card that showed her as not mastering the skills needed to move on.  Husband was very disappointed and was excited for her to try again this year.

This year Princess was in a class with one of her good friends, so we were hoping it would be more motivation if they were together.  She was also in a class of all girls, as opposed to last year's all boys.

She did very well this year.  I was a proud mommy watching from the sidelines.  She paid attention and tried most everything the instructor asked her to.  She kicked.  She sat on the steps and listened.  She pretended she was a star fish.  She attempted to blow bubbles (she really does not like to put her face in the water).

One thing about this class that I didn't like was one of the other girls in her class (there were four students total, including Princess).  This girl was bigger than all the others.  All through swim lessons she seemed to pick on Princess.  I don't think she did it on purpose, per se, but I was hoping the mom would have stepped in more.  This girl, we will call Red.  Red wanted to pour water over Princess's head (Princess hates getting her hair wet).  She wanted to keep pulling Princess's braids.  She would grab Princess's legs whenever it was Princess's turn to go swim.  She was all up in her space.

I was outside of the pool watching all of this going on, standing right next to Red's grandma who had brought her.  Red's grandma said that Red has epilepsy and maybe some other disorders.

Is it rude of me to think, "So what?"  I commented to Red's grandma that Princess didn't like people touching her and wanted her own space.  Red's grandma just made some excuse that Red liked other kids.

Princess handled it very well.  She would scoot away from Red, or hold her hands up in front of her to block her off.  The instructor was good, too.  She would grab Princess and make it her turn to swim if she saw her being picked on.

Besides Red, swim lessons this year were a lot of fun.  Princess was a little more confident in the water, even though she still refuses to put her head under water.

At the end of the session, Husband eagerly awaited this year's report card, hoping to see some improvement.  However, the apologetic instructor had forgotten to bring it.  Thus, we didn't get one (I suppose I could have come back another day to get it, but I didn't think it was worth it).  The instructor did tell us to have Princess repeat the class next summer, hoping she's more comfortable with going under water then.

Third time's a charm, right? 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Not Going Back to School

It's weird, knowing summer is ending, and everyone else is going back to school.  All my teacher friends on Facebook are posting about setting up their classrooms, endless meetings, new expectations, and getting ready for the students to come. 

I think I'm jealous. 

Maybe. 

I feel like I'm in limbo.  I am choosing to stay home with my babies, but feel like I need to be doing something more for some reason.  I keep trying to remind myself of how stressed I would be right now if I was going back to work.  How I would be getting overwhelmed with meetings and setting things up for the students.  How the first few days are the toughest because they set the tone for the rest of the year.  How my babies at home would be pushed aside as my priorities were rearranged.  

Then I have flashbacks of the best classes I ever had from this past year.  How amazing those kids were, how driven and sweet and just plain FUN.  I miss them.  Maybe because I didn't close out the school year with them, my unrealistic subconscious tells me if I go back it will still be the same.  That the same students will be there and all will be as it was. 

But then I go out somewhere and see defiant children backtalking and bullying and being punks.  And I remember the students who were challenging, who made me think about different ways to reach them, who made me preoccupied when I was home and should have been focusing on my own children. 

I try to recall the meetings.  The endless, endless meetings where you are told to rearrange things a certain way, fix the way you are doing things, change this, change that, but come to another meeting so people can just babble on and on about nothing when you could actually be in the classroom getting ready for the students. 

But I miss the camaraderie.  The joking with the other teachers, the commiserating, the collaborating over lessons and students. 

Am I going to stay home forever?  No.  I think I would shrivel up and become empty if I didn't have more to do.  I think I need to find a project, just for me, something to do where I can challenge myself, but also take my children since I can't afford daycare anymore.  Preferably something that can make extra income.  That would be nice. 

In the meantime, good luck to all the teachers pouring their hearts into their classrooms right now.  To those memorizing class lists and critiquing lesson plans and designing bulletin boards and attending meetings and changing curriculum and speaking to parents and collaborating with coworkers and spending hours thinking and planning and prepping to make connections.  Thank you for all you do.  I know it's a lot.