Saturday, April 30, 2011

Product Review: 2010 Forth Quarter Review

Every so often, I like to do a review of a quarter of things we have done for giveaways and reviews. I like to give my thoughts on the item so many months later because I think the longer you have something, the more you know if you like it or not. This is a review for October-December of 2010.

Chic Baby Boutique
We have loved our tutu from Chic Baby Boutique. I think every little girl should have a tutu to play in--it is a great dress up item. My girls love dressing up in their tutus and dancing around. My favorite thing about the tut we got from Chic Baby was that it was full of three different colors--super fun! She also now sells tie-onsies for boys, so go check her out!

http://chicbabyboutique.net/index.html



Bob Books
You know I love Bob Books. This hasn't changed at all in the last six months. Still love them. Still use them. Kaitlyn is currently reading them. They are genius. They are just long enough that by the end, her brain hurts (you know that feeling when you have just exercised  your brain). It is perfect. Not too short and not too long. 





Homespun from the Heart

This is the perfect time to bring this up. This is the company that does these cute, primitive rag dolls. They are for decoration. A new thing she launched around the time of our giveaway was these "Mother's Love" dolls where she makes mom and her children. What a great mother's day gift--for you or grandma! Grandma with her grandbabies...she would love it.






Trading Cradles
There isn't much to say about this other than it is still available for you to buy and sell baby products! If you want something, be sure to check this out before you buy!








CSN Stores
Then we had a CSN giftcard giveaway. Who doesn't like free money to buy what  you want with? http://www.csnstores.com/ourstores.asp

Sinucleanse

Oh yes, we still like this. It definitely came in handy over the winter and during cold season. 








Bumble Book 
Since I don't have a baby, this isn't a product I have been using. But I do love the idea and think it is so valuable to have all of your notes nicely bound together, not only for the current baby, but to reference for future babies. Then you know exactly what things were like at certain ages (since we tend to remember things through rose-colored glasses).





Mamatography Workshop

This has been a fun resource for learning more about photography at a time when I am wanting to learn. I have a long way to go yet....



That is fun to look back on!

If you have a product you would like reviewed, please email me at valplowman@gmail.com. You don't have to be a big company; it can be as simple as just you and your etsy shop!

Fresh Baby Dishes Winner!

The winner of the Fresh Baby Divided Dish and Bowl is...

Kristin! (Just "Kristin" is the entry name).

Please email me at valplowman@gmail.com and include your mailing address. You have one week or another winner will be chosen. Congrats!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Making Work Fun



This is another post I published originally on the Children's Learning Activities blog that I think is important enough to post here to ensure you all see it.

Cleaning and other work doesn't need to be boring in order to be an effective teaching tool for children. There is nothing wrong with making cleaning an enjoyable experience for the family. Here are some ideas to make cleaning fun:

  1. Music: Turn on some music to keep you moving! Sing and dance as you clean.
  2. Adventure: Turn it into an adventure. Dress up in your adventure clothes, find the messes, and attack them with your sponges and cleaners. We like to go on "treasure hunts" after a holiday. For example, we will go on a treasure hunt for our all of our Christmas decorations after Christmas is over. We find the decorations and bring them back to a designated spot. If something is too high to reach, the kids tell us where it is. This helps cut back on those missed decorations you find the day after you put the boxes away!
  3. Cinderella: My friend shared this. She and her girls pretend they are Cinderella and clean the house. When they are done cleaning, they dress up in their princess dresses and have a princess party.
  4. Chore Incentives: You can do chore cards, chore jars, sticker charts, lists...whatever keeps everyone motivated. Mix it up from time to time. Nothing will stay motivational forever--you need to change what you do every so often.
  5. Focus on the Serving: "Thank you for cleaning that! That is such nice service you are doing!" Use positive talk to thank your child for helping with the family chores. Even if something is "your job," it is nice to be thanked for it.
Doing chores around the house does so much more for a child than simply teaching a child how to work. Honestly, if all my child learned from chores was work ethic, that would be enough for me. People I admire in life are hard workers and learned how to work hard in youth. There is so much value in work ethic.

It will help your child be better citizens and most importantly better spouses and parents. I have in the back of my head a great gift I want to give to my future daughter-in-law--I want to give her the gift of a husband who is helpful in the home and is a hard worker. My mother-in-law gave that to me and I love it!

Work helps our mental development. It helps our character development. One of the best ways for me to get my five year old boy talking about his feelings is to work beside him for an extended period of time. At first, he talks about surface topics, but as time passes, he is soon talking about matters of his heart.

And on a more simple level, chores help children develop fine and gross motor skills. They help with colors (like when sorting laundry). You can work in shapes and counting. 

There is so much value to work! But remember that it is okay to keep work fun.

So, how do you make work fun around your house?

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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Birth Order and Two-child Families


If you currently have two children or plan to have two children total, the chapter on parenting the two child family is just right for you. Leman discusses some tips and strategies to do your best in his book The Birth Order Book.

He talks about the different gender scenarios--two boys (where Mother's influence is of ultimate importance), two girls (where father's influence is key), and boy-girl (where the standard rivalries found in two children families is not usually present).

Now for some of my own personal commentary on the topics. 

First, for the boy/girl. While I obviously don't have that now, I did for a couple of years. Leman comments that "...a first-born boy and a second-born girl can often develop a close emotional bond" (page 298). This is certainly true of my first two. Brayden and Kaitlyn are best friends, and I have decided they are twins separated by birth. They are super tight. These two also don't compete with each other in most instances. 

I grew up in a two-child family. I have one little sister. We definitely had rivalries. My little sister did everything she could to avoid following in my footsteps. For example, I was a singer. She also has a great singing voice, but dropped out of lessons for fear of being compared to me. 

So a trick as a parent with two children is learning to manage these rivalries so they don't become a problem for one or both children. 

Leman has a list of ideas for you:
  1. Don't label: Don't label one as "good" and one as "bad." Don't compare. 
  2. Love and relate individually: Point out what you love about each child as an individual. Don't ask one child to be more like another child.
  3. Love unconditionally: Love your child no matter what grades are or even what behavior is like. You always love the person.
  4. Treat as individuals: Things don't have to be perfectly equal for both children. The older child can have a later bedtime at points in life.
  5. Maintain consistency: It will mean a lot to the oldest child for you to be consistent about rules.
  6. Have age appropriate responsibilities: Remember, it is easy to try to treat two children the same, but you aren't doing either one favors with that. You will either have too low of expectations for one or too high for the other. It is also possible you would land somewhere in the middle.
  7. You don't have to keep things exactly even. Parent each child indivually. If the oldest was ready for a certain freedom at five, it doesn't automatically mean the youngest will be, too. She might be ready earlier or later. 
  8. One-on-one time: One-on-one time is very important. As Leman says about this time, "You don't find it; you make it." Take one child shopping, go out to eat together. "Dozens of ways to spend one-on-one time together will occur to you, if you really want to do it" (page 306). For more on this idea, see my one-on-one time posts.
I think some major tricks to parenting the two-child family is to figure out how to treat children fairly yet as individuals, also. With two children, you better believe they are noticing things like how much time they get with parents, what expectations are of them compared to the other, and how often little sister gets new furniture (um, yes, that is my real life). You won't be perfect, but you can try your best.

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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Poll Results: What age range is easiest for you (easiest, not hardest)?



Newborn
  45 (10%)
Baby 4-6
  93 (22%)
Baby 7-9
  65 (15%)
Baby 10-12
  30 (7%)
Pre-Toddler (12-18 months)
  37 (8%)
Toddler (18-24 months)
  27 (6%)
2 year old
  11 (2%)
3 year old
  9 (2%)
4 year old
  10 (2%)
5-8 year old
  13 (3%)
Pre-teen (9-12)
  0 (0%)
Teen (13-18)
  2 (0%)
Don't know yet!
  78 (18%)


Votes so far: 420
Poll closed 

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Reminder: You can leave comments on poll results posts if you would like to add to the poll after it has closed. This would be helpful for those who have more than one child, those whose children have reached certain ages after a poll closed, and those who didn't visit the blog while that poll was open. To find closed polls, click on the poll results link above

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Baby Braxston

Today marks 5 years since we lost our little Braxston (for more about this, see Miscarriage and Stillbirth). I still think about him throughout each and every day. It still brings tears to my eyes to think about the little boy we lost.

I remember that day. It was actually the middle of the night when he was "born." My husband and I were able to hold him. He looked absolutely perfect. He looked like a small baby. This amazing group called Share Parents came and took pictures of him and pictures of us holding him. When we looked at the pictures later, we were both surprised to see that he didn't actually look as perfect as we thought he did in the moment. We knew the Lord had blessed us to be able to see our son in a perfect light.

What a blessing to be a mom to such a valiant spirit. I am overwhelmed at the trust of the Lord in me to do that, and I hope I can be worthy of that trust. I love my Braxston just as I love my other three children. I pray for him as I do for them. 

Today, I will cry a little (let's be honest; I am crying right now). I will look through his scrapbook I made for him with my family. I will look through his memory box Share Parents made for us. We will go buy some flowers and take them to the cemetery. We will buy some pizza and go to a park by the cemetery and have some fun in memory of Braxston. 

Until we meet again Braxston. We love you.

***Last fall, my dear friend, Kelli, lost a baby girl. She is a fabulous writer and wrote the perfect poem for this situation. With her permission, I link you to it: Still.***

Monday, April 25, 2011

Leadership Phase

On Becoming Childwise: Parenting Your Child from 3-7 Years

Nearly three years ago, I wrote a post on the Four Phases of Parenting found in On Becoming Childwise. At the time, Brayden was barely three and Kaitlyn 15 months old. The first phase is called the leadership phase and is for ages 2-6 years old. My kids were young--one of them not even in the phase yet. You can see in that post that the information I shared is basically that--information.

Today, Brayden is almost 6. Kaitlyn just turned 4. And I have a third child who is barely 2. Today, I obviously have a much different, and wiser, perspective on this phase. Brayden only has one more year left in this phase.

First, the basics of the phase (Childwise page 55):
  • Primary goal is to establish your leadership in your child's life.
  • Not oppressive leadership, but authoritative.
  • This is a phase of boundaries. You allow freedoms as your child demonstrates responsible behavior.
  • This is the bootcamp of child-rearing.
  • You want to get control of your child so you can train him.
  • This phase is the focus of the book On BecomingChildwise.

During my most recent reading of Childwise, I was suddenly struck by this phase. My mind halted on this phase--it is the bootcamp of child-rearing. This is the time to establish leadership. Let's compare this with the next phase of parenting--Training (page 56):
  • Ages 7-12
  • During training, your children are not yet in the real game of life.
  • This is a series of practice sessions.
  • As Ezzo & Bucknam describe, using a sports analogy, you work with your child each day in different settings, going through drills and exercises. This is practice time.
  • You stop your child when necessary and make immediate corrections, explaining the reasons.
  • Show your child what to do and how to do it.
  • Your child will only listen to your training if you gained control in the discipline phase.
  • This phase is the focus of the books The Smart Parentand On Becoming Preteen Wise.

I think that a lot of times, we parents try to rush the leadership phase an move on to the training phase. We get discouraged and frustrated when our child is less than perfect. It is important to remember what the phase is: a time to establish your leadership. This is a four year time period. I think that illustrates the fact that there will be plenty of times your child challenges that leadership. There will be plenty of times your child forgets or even ignores the boundaries you have put in place.

So as  you navigate this often tumultuous phase of the 2-6 year old, keep in mind what you are doing in this phase. You are not expected to have a perfect child by the 7th birthday. The 7th birthday is when training begins. 

So take a breather. Relax. You are doing just fine! All of Childwise is focussed on the Leadership Phase, so you can get lots of information on what you want to be doing during this phase in that book. Remember, this is not the phase for perfection. A 5 year old is not meant to go through life perfectly with minimal reminders from you. He hasn't even started official training yet! He is simply learning to listen to your voice and obey it. So take it easy. Just as Rome wasn't built in a day, a delightful 19 year old was not taught all she needs to know in a day, week, year, or even phase of parenting. It took her parents 13 years of solid work followed by 6 years of solid coaching. You can get there someday, too.

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Saturday, April 23, 2011

Fresh Baby Dishes {Giveaway!}


Last year, I did a review on the Fresh Baby Baby Food Kit. I have loved Fresh Baby. They rolled out some new products this year and sent some to me to review.

They. Are. Cool. 

Really--they are great and innovative for making the whole food process much easier.

Above you can see a picture of the Divided Dish. Here are some cool features:

Movable Divider Keeps Food Separate
Double Body Construction:
  • Separates for Easy Cleaning
  • Keeps Food Warm & Cool Longer
  • Outside shell never gets too hot
Airtight Lid:
  • Spill-proof
  • Keeps food fresh
  • Great for On-the-Go
Dishwasher Safe (top rack)
Freezer Safe
Food Safe
Size: 9 fl oz/250 ml

Material:

Bowl: 18/8 Stainless Steel
Outer Shell: PP - Polypropylene (#5)
BPA, Lead, Melamine & Phthalate-Free


The other item they sent to me is the Baby Bowl:

Stainless Steel Bowl Features:

Double Body Construction:
  • Separates for Easy Cleaning
  • Keeps Food Warm & Cool Longer
  • Outside shell never gets too hot
Airtight Lid:
  • Spill-proof
  • Keeps food fresh
  • Great for On-the-Go
Dishwasher Safe (top rack)
Freezer Safe
Food Safe
Size: 10 fl oz/300 ml

Material:

Bowl: 18/8 Stainless Steel
Outer Shell: PP - Polypropylene (#5)
BPA, Lead, Melamine & Phthalate-Free 

Pretty neat right? I love them. 

One of you lucky readers will win your own divided dish and bowl! Hooray! So let's do the entering business.


For Your First Entry:
Become a follower of this blog. Then leave a comment. If you are already a follower (the thing where your cute face pops up with all the other cute faces of people following), comment telling me so.

Sample Entry 

I am a follower!


For Your Second Entry:

Take a moment to browse the Fresh Baby website: http://freshbaby.com/. Then comment saying you did so.

Sample Entry

I looked at the site--I like that they have podcasts!


For Your Third Entry:

Like Fresh Baby on Facebook. Comment telling us you did so. You might already like it if you entered the giveaway last year.

Sample Entry
I like it on Facebook!


For Your Fourth Entry:

Like this blog on FacebookAlready do? Tell me so. Comment saying you are a fan.

Sample Entry

Hi! I like on Facebook!


For Your Fifth Entry:
Follow Fresh Baby on Twitter. Then comment saying you did so. Include your Titter ID.


Sample Entry

I follow on Twitter! @valplowman


For Your Sixth Entry: 

Change your status on Facebook to talk about this blog giveaway with a link to this review. Leave a comment saying you did so.

Sample Entry

I changed my status!


For Your Seventh Entry:

Follow me on Twitter. Once you have done so, come back and comment and include your Twitter ID. Already do? Comment saying so.

Sample Entry
I follow on Twitter! @valplowman


Entry Rules
  • You must leave a comment in order to have an entry.
  • You must leave a separate comment for each entry. This is not so I can get lots of comments--it is because it makes it a million times easier to choose a winner. It takes less time, and less time is good. Plus, it makes sure I don't miss an entry.
  • You don't have to do all seven entries...for example, if you just want to follow this blog, you can just do entry one.
  • One entry per comment.
  • Up to seven entries per person.
  • You must fulfill the rules of each entry for each entry to count. If I see the entry is not valid (did not meet entry requirements), I will disqualify your entry. Trust me, I check.
  • Entries will be accepted until 11:59 PM Friday, April 29 Mountain Standard Time.
  • The winner will be randomly selected at random.org
  • The winner will be announced Saturday, April 30.
  • If you would like, you can add your email address to your entry. If you are the winner, I will email you to let you know. You do not need to add your email address in order to win. I understand not everyone wants to share their email addresses with the world. I will announce the winner on the blog, so you can check the blog Saturday to find out if you won.
  • Once the winner is announced, you will have one week to contact me or another winner will be chosen. Be sure to check back. The only thing worse than not winning is to win but not realize it in time!

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