Saturday, April 30, 2011

Book Review: Secure Daughters, Confident Sons

Recently, I received and read the book, "Secure Daughters, Confident Sons" as part of my Book Reviewer Program commitment.  

I love parenting books.  I love learning how I can better parent the two little lives God has given me.  I thought a book whose subtitle was, "How Parents Guide Their Children Into Authentic Masculinity and Femininity" might provide me an interesting read.

On the whole, the book was a quick read.  It was divided up into separate chapters regarding boys and girls.  So, most of my time was spent the most relevant chapters for me, about boys.  

But I will say I had a hard time with some of the things the author wrote.  Many of the things the author stated seemed based on his own limited and personal view of life and tended to be most focused towards the importance of a father in a boys life.  I felt alittle disappointed by the fact that a mother's role seemed both minute and inconsequential.  I'm ok with Dad being a boy's hero.  But Mom came out looking a bit like "chopped liver."

I don't think this book is going to be a parenting book I necessarily recommend.  There are few new ideas offered.  And of the ideas I hadn't heard of, many seemed based less on research and more on the author's opinion.

However, having said that, I found a few things interesting from the book.  So, I thought I'd list them here.

One of those is this: The author argues that "boys need to destroy the world."  The author writes, "While boys are brave rescuers, they're also inclined to destroy, for purposes both good and bad.  Something within a boy compels him to break and smash things.  This is why "fireman," "army man," and "policeman" are hugely popular answers to them "What do you want to be when you grow up, son?" question...Boys also love monster trucks because monster trucks smash and crush regular trucks.  The destroy-the-world factor explains why boys are also more attracted to fireworks, guns, army men and explosives."

The author failed to explained why he thought this need to "destroy the world" was significant, which is another reason I was unimpressed with the book.  But the mere observation was interesting to me.  I related better to this idea of an innate male desire towards being wild with insights from John Eldredge's "Wild At Heart" book with regard to God's design of men to be fighters and rescuers.

Nonetheless, I did like this quote, "Men lead because the male's orientation is to shape, mold, create and change things that are bad into something good."

I like this quote because it reminds me of the importance of helping my boys become strong and focused so they can lead appropriately, so they can help the widow, orphan and alien, so they can do what is right in the midst of what is wrong.

Another quote I liked is regarding the author's claim that boys want to "save the world."  The author writes, "Perseverance is the lesson our boys must learn in working to save the world.  For our boys, anything worth doing is going to be a difficult challenge."

I don't think the author helped me, as a mother, to do much for my boys (other than view my place in the family as being merely secondary to their father).  But what I gained from the book was the insight that my boys have a need deep within them to carry out justice and make a difference in our world.  I need to see all of their crashing of cars, flying of airplanes and love for firetrucks an infantile manifestation of a much deeper desire to fulfill their duty to care for others and fight for what is right.

A complimentary copy of this book was given by Multnomah for an honest review.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Monitoring Moviews

My husband and I took our three year old to see one of the newest animated films in theatres this week, Rango.

I wish I hadn't.  My husband and I both enjoyed Rango.  And had my child been 10, he would have too.  But it wasn't appropriate for a 3 year old.  The humor was foul, the language was inappropriate, the theme was above his understanding. 

I felt foolish realizing I should have been more thoughtful in our choice of movie.  But I had no idea that an animate movie about a lizard would have "bad" words and several scary parts. 

As an adult, I don't often think of the existing movie rating system.  But, as a parent, I believe I should not only pay attention to the movie rating, I need to go further. 

There is a large range of what is considered "PG".  And even G movies can be surprising non-G.  So, after some searching, here are a few great websites I found to help me in the future when choosing a movie/DVD that is appropriate for my children:
 
http://www.commonsensemedia.org/movie-reviews

http://www.kids-in-mind.com/


http://blog.beliefnet.com/moviemom/

I often check out the ratings before my husband and I spend money on a movie ticket.  And now I will also check out the ratings before my husband and I bring our children (or even rent or buy a movie for our kids). 

Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Sticker Chart for Mom

If you saw how many charts and lists I have in my home and on my computer, you'd think I was *super* organized.  But the reality is I'm not...but I desperately want to be.

But I have to be creative with myself.  My well intended schedules easily become paper art for my refrigerator.  And my online calendar can get so junked up I can't figure out what's important and what's not.  But I find ways to keep myself focused.

I made Little Bear a sticker chart a few days ago.

Because he needs to brush his teeth I need to remember to help him brush his teeth.
And because he needs to be potty-trained I need to remind him to try on the potty more.

So, I made Little Bear myself a sticker chart a few days ago.
And it's working!


It goes like this...Mother wants child to be independent and get into good habits.  Child is motivated to be independent by praise and stickers.  Mother makes a sticker chart for child.  Child reminds mother to teach him good habits and how to be independent because he wants a sticker.  Mother, after being reminded, helps child accomplish items on the sticker chart.  Child is happy to receive praise and stickers.  Mother is happy to help child.  Mother and child get in a routine of child being independent and establish habits.  The sticker chart becomes irrevelant.  Repeat with new goals.

How I did it: I used a piece of poster board, markers and tape.  I found 50 cent stickers after Valentine's Day so I stocked up on his favorite movie character, Lightening McQueen (despite my disdain for Disney characters).  I wrote each item out so I could read it.  But I drew little pictures so he could "read" it on his own too. 

 An example of this in my own life is Little Bear's sticker chart.  This sticker chart lists a few tasks that I want Little Bear to do more of each day - things like brushing his teeth, trying on the potty, putting his clothes on and off independently.

After desperately trying to remember to remind Little Bear to do these things hroughout the day, I finally decided to make a chart, which I have placed on his door, that will help me remember the 5 (broken down into 8 individual) things I want to help him do daily.  These are things that are not already in our daily routine but things I wish were.

After a few days, I found that I didn't need the sticker chart anymore to help me remember to do these things.  The goal of the sticker chart was help us make new habits, which it did.  Whether or not we keep the sticker chart will really be whether or not Little Bear continues to want to do it.  Once he gets bored, I'm fine.  All I wanted was to train myself.

However, Little Bear has been trained too.  At first, I needed the sticker to motivate him.  Now, he just knows that's what I expect.  No longer do I put his clothes on for him.  Now, he does it himself out of habit.  We are almost there with brushing his teeth.  And we'll continue working on the potty training.


Once we have accomplished placing all five items in our routine, I will move to new goals.  It's too bad a need a sticker chart to help me.  But as a mother of two toddlers, where no day is exactly like the other, I reason...whatever works, do it!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Memorizing Bible Verses

Little Bear has completely surprised me by how quickly he can memorize!

When I was a child, I memorized Bible verses at school, particularly in Kindergarten (we memorized 26 Bible verses, one per letter of the alphabet).  I enjoyed it and can remember some (but certainly not all) of them even today.

In fact, one little Bible verse really impacted me as a young child.  I would often crawl up in my younger sister's bed (we shared a room) during thunderstorms and say the verse over and over and over and over.  It was very comforting to say, "What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee."  It was my kindergarten teacher who taught me that saying this Bible verse when I am scared can remind me that God is always with me.

So, with this, I desire to teach Little Bear Bible verses too.

I was a bit apprehensive at first on how to teach him to memorize.  I know children have an incredible ability to memorize alot quickly.  But I wasn't sure how little ones actually memorize when they can't read.

What I realized is they simply need repetition!

So, I began with a simple Bible verse first, "O, give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good.  Psalm 118:1"

I read it to him once or twice and then began to make a game of it.  I would say, "O, give thanks unto the Lord, for he is..."  And I would prompt Little Bear to finish the sentence with the word, "good!"  We learned the reference for the Bible verse once he had memorized the entire sentence.

What I was surprised to find was that Little Bear learned the entire thing within a day or two and enjoyed saying it over and over.  Of course, I would cheer and praise him (with kisses galore) when he memorized it.  Sometimes, I will actually hear him say the verse (with no prompting) if someone tells him "thanks."  It's pretty funny.

The next verse we learned was "Children obey your parents in the Lord for this is right.  Ephesians 6:1".  I actually sometimes get the tail end of these two verses switched around.  But Little Bear never does.  He knows them by heart better than me. 

I never use this verse to discipline but sometimes, shortly after a situation that involved discipline, I will remind him.  "Remember, Children obey their parents..."  And he will often reply, "for this is right!"

Memorized Bible verses are never to be flashy or showy.  I do not desire that my child know a hundred of them so I can show all my friends how smart he is.  I never want to use a Bible verse to shame him or exasperate him.

Bible verses are merely wisdom that I want to imbed in my child's heart and mind early.  I want him to believe truths about God and about the world.  I believe Bible verses can help him hold these truths near.

Our next verse to learn is the very one I held on to most.  This is a perfect time for him as he often explains he's fearful at night or that noises scare him. 

I look forward to hearing from him one day about a Bible verse that made an impact on him.  Until then, I will provide him plenty of verses for him to memorize.

My goal right now is to teach him one for each alphabet.  I will list on the blog the ones I will choose in a few days.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Montessori Activity: Money In A Can

You'd think this activity wouldn't be interesting.  But every time a little one at our house plays with it, they become mesmerized by the feel, difficulty and sound of dropping money in a can threw a small whole.


It's an easy activity in which you need two things: money and a can (we use old baby formula cans).


It's best to use all sorts of sized coins.  We typically pull out Daddy's change can.


We poke two wholes on the top of the can's lid.  One hole is just for small coins like pennies, nickels and dimes.  The other hole is perfect for quarters.  This gives a bit of challenge to the activity for a toddler.


You can see Little Bears' frowed eyebrows in this picture.  There is something interesting about seeing a coin be pushed ever so carefully threw the lid to disappear to the bottom of the can with a "clunk!"


The nice thing about this activity is it can repeated as much as the child wants...and can be placed away for another opportunity in the future.


We consider this one of our "rainy day" activities as it's a fun thing to play with at the kitchen table while   Mom is cooking or working nearby.  We always stay nearby to prevent the exploration of the if-that-was-fun-what-happens-when-you-put-a-coin-in-your-mouth activity.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Guest Post on Simplicity Parenting's Blog

I am honored to have an opportunity to Guest Post on the blog of one of my favorite parenting books, "Simplicity Parenting."

Read the post here: http://www.simplicityparenting.com/blog/2011/02/this-weeks-small-change-why-im-choosing-to-simplify/

Friday, February 04, 2011

Preschool Montessori Activity: Playing with Rice Extension

Since introducing the Rice Activity, Little Bear has requested to play with the Rice box daily.  One thing I offered him recently was a tray of rice.  It started out that he wanted to play with his cars on a thin layer of rice.  But then he began to discover (his own discovery) that he could "draw" with his finger.  So, he started making shapes.


Later, he requested that I help him draw letters in the rice.


He enjoyed both watching me draw the letters and tracing them afterwards.  He then found my letters to be a good "racetrack" for his matchbox cars.  (Notice the broom nearby.  When the rice is out, so is the broom!)

Preschool Montessori Activity: Playing With Pinto Beans


Little Bear has started to show some sustained interest in real Montessori activities.  It's been delightful to see.  So, I decided to introduce some spooning activities to him.  I started with Pinto Beans.



Pinto beans or lima beans work really well to start off because they are so big.  I liked using it first because I could easily monitor how controlled he would be with the beans.  I did find them on the table and on the floor some but, for the most part, he kept them in the bowl.

I have Little Bear several types of spoons to work with - a big spoon/measuring cup all the way down to a small child sized spoon.  He enjoyed using them all.  When I found him less interested in the activity, I put it up for another day.

Preschool Montessori Activity: Playing With Rice

After I saw the success of the Pinto Bean Spooning Activity, I decided to try giving him rice next.  He *really* loved playing with rice!


I purchased an inexpensive bag of rice from the grocery store, gave Little Bear a spoon and a bowl.   He loved spooning the rice from the container to the bowl.  When he was done, he carefully poured the rice from the bowl into the container. (I keep all of my spooning activities in separate shoe boxes.  This keeps the rice/beans/etc from rotting and makes for easy storage/clean up.)


Later, when this activity became old, I played a game with him.  I hit a few random toys in the rice and allowed him to find them with his spoon or fingers.


Here are a few of the toys I did...mainly colorful plastic and wooden items.


He loved putting his fingers in the rice.


I was surprised about how well coordinated he could be with the rice.   Inevitably rice fell on the table and the floor but he stayed very focused for this activity, playing with it for about 30 minutes.  The nice thing about rice is it's super easy to clean up.


Little Bear asked if he could put his matchbox cars in the rice.  I finally agreed that he could do two cars at a time.  He really enjoyed that.  (Although, I did have to make sure to shake the cars out afterward to get rid of any rice hidden inside.)