Wednesday, November 30, 2011

5 Ways for Teaching the Reason for the Season



Today I wanted to post on something Christmas-centered. In the past, I have talked about decorating the Christmas tree with children in the home, Santa, teaching about Christ all year round (not just at Christmas time. Tangent time--the other day, McKenna and I were shopping and she saw a big Santa thing--like a big doll. She said, "Look! A snowman!" I just laughed. It actually made me happy because as a 2.5 year old, she does not recognize Santa, but she does recognize Jesus), a poem I wrote for focusing on the symbols of Christmas, and ideas for giving back at Christmas.

This year, I want to share five of ideas we have implemented in our home for helping our children focus on more of the "reason for the season" (cue music...He is the reason, for the sea--eee--son...) and not so much on themselves and what they are getting. 

Straw Bed for Jesus
This idea came from my husband's parents. The idea is to make a soft bed for Jesus to lay in, one piece of straw at a time. My father-in-law made a manger for us (note that a manger is what animals eat out of...not the stable...so we are talking a little bed). They then gave us a bag of straw. The goal is for family members to do service, and for each act of service, they get to put a piece of straw in the manger. We do this from Thanksgiving until Christmas.

If you don't have wood-working ability, you could use a shoe-box instead. If you don't have access to straw, you could cut some strips of paper up (if you did that, you could even write the service down on the paper). I thought this was a fun idea for keeping our focus on Christ and on service during the Christmas season.

Give Gifts
We started this tradition last year. Each child had another child for Christmas. Then they got to go to the store and pick out a present for that child. They also got to wrap the gift on their own (if age appropriate...McKenna had help). This was Kaitlyn's gift to McKenna. Doing this really helped them to think of someone other than themselves. It also helped them to be excited Christmas morning for more than just themselves.


Participate in a Charity or Service
Last year, I shared my ideas for giving back at Christmas time, and several of you shared your ideas also! Service teaches love, so finding something to do with your children will help them learn to love others. Here is the post: http://www.babywisemom.com/2010/11/lets-give-back-christmas-giving.html



The Nativity

We have this Fisher Price Little People Nativity. This is a nativity the children can play with all they want. You can use it (or any other nativity you like) to help as you read through Luke and the story of Christmas. My in-laws also have a fun tradition we do every year. The children draw out a person from the story, then dress up as that person. They are given the nativity piece that matches the character. The children then walk in and place their piece in the stable as their part is read from Luke. It helps the children to have more focus on the story since they have a part in it. You can dress up easily with towels, robes, and scarves or ties.


Sing Christmas Songs
I have never had a child ask me more questions about gospel matters than as we sit at the piano and sing together. So I am talking about singing songs that talk about Christ, not bells or Rudolf. Silent Night. Joy to the World. Away in a Manger. The songs that tell of the birth of Jesus. You don't need a piano--all you need is your voice. If you do this often, you will be surprised at the questions your children will ask about the words they are singing. Music is powerful. With that in mind, you can also have Christmas music playing in your home throughout the season.

Those are my five traditions we have! I would completely love to hear your ideas. I would love to add some traditions for focusing on Christ more at Christmas time.

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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Child Summary: 6.5 Years Old


It is amazing how much a child can grow in a few short months--both in size and in personality. Three months ago, I was looking at the end of his life before starting full day school. It is incredible to reflect on how much he has matured in his first few months of being a first-grader. His first grade teachers expect a lot out of these little people. They expect them to be quite independent and capable of doing a lot for themselves. These children rise to the expectations. 

The addition of full day school to our lives has really changed the dynamic of life at home for Brayden and things we have been doing for years and years--pretty much his whole life. 

SLEEPING
Night sleep is the same. In bed between 8-8:30 PM. Up at 7:00 AM. But rest time is mostly gone from his life. No rest time on week days. We don't do it on Saturday, either. We only require rest time on Sunday. It is a day of rest, so we have him do rest time on that day.

EATING
The boy is eating like I can't believe. A few weeks ago, the family stopped for Subway. Brayden loves Subway. We got him a footlong, and yes, he ate the whole thing! The entire footlong. I didn't even do that. He is hungry, hungry, hungry. All I can say is, wow, what will it be like when he is a teenage boy? Brayden has always been an impressive food eater. If you read the solids posts, you will get a feel for what he ate as a baby. But as a toddler, he did the textbook eat very little thing. When he goes through growth spurts now, his eating is just incredible because it passes up what an adult eats. 

GROWTH SPURTS
Speaking of growth spurts, there have been a couple of nights when Brayden is complaining about pains in his limbs. I immediately heard my grandmother's voice talking about "growing pains." I need to look into it to see if this is legitimate or if is one of those things you hear from grandma...either way, he was in pain, he was eating a lot, and his school pants I bought way too big are almost too small now.

PLAYING
Playing is another huge thing that is different at home now. He gets home from school, sits on the couch while I painstakingly drag information about his day from him, then he does his homework, practices his piano, then he and Kaitlyn play video games with each other for a bit. Then we have dinner and family time.

He has independent play only on days he does not have school. 

SCHOOL REPORT
Brayden is doing very well in school. His teacher tells me how much she enjoys him and that he is "seriously one of her very favorite students." He is a good student behaviorally, obedient, and willing to help. He also is a good student academically. His teacher tells me how he thinks about things in such a different level from most first graders. 

I love to go help in his class. You might think that when you help in class, your child would alter their behavior since you are there--and maybe some kids do that--but they seem to forget you are there after a bit and you can really observe how the child is in a classroom setting. You also get to see what other students are like so you can know who the child is talking about (and, um, encourage and discourage certain friendships). You also get to talk to the teacher a whole lot more than you do in a teacher's conference. I am already thinking about how to balance my time among my children as more get added to school. 

I am also one of the room moms for his class, so it gives me extra time to be in the classroom. Helping in the class is so valuable to your child and of course to other children in the class. Most teachers love the extra help.

Another fun thing with school was during Drug Free week. They talked about different heroes and had policemen, firefighters, football players from the university, and other heroes come to the school. At the end of the week, they drew a picture of their hero. His paper said that his mom (that's me!) was his hero "Because she is nice." That was one of those payday moments. I am so glad he thinks that highly of me right now :)

SUPER SWEET
Brayden is super sweet. He is amazingly good with little children. He is great with McKenna. At one of our Thanksgiving meals (yeah, we had three), he noticed he was the oldest child there and that there were several young children (all about McKenna's age). He said he would have to play with them and help keep them happy. He was so cute with the little kids.

THINGS TO WORK ON
Of course Brayden is not perfect. Something we are working on with him right now is to not tell people when they are wrong. He is a very smart person and also a very strict rule-follower. Those two things combined lead to him feeling some duty to correct people when they are wrong. We are really trying to impress it upon him that it is not his job to correct people and that people don't like being constantly corrected. My hope is we can get it through to him before a peer group does it, but sometimes it takes a group of peers telling you to knock it off to get the point across to you. 

FAVORITE  TOYS
Without question, the favorite toy right now is Legos. Legos, legos, legos. Brayden even saved up his money for almost a year to buy a Lego toy he wanted.

WHAT WE ARE READING
Brayden loves us to read chapter books to him. His favorite series right now are:
While lots of children have read Harry Potter as young children, I know book four gets pretty dark. Because of that, I have been making sure his time between books is spread out. We started the first book about a year ago and are currently on book 3. We read lots of books between each Potter book. A nice thing is that when reading, your imagination controls what you see--unlike seeing it on TV. Anyway, I figure if children survived at least a year between each book release when the books were coming out, he can survive reading them slowly so his grows in maturity between books.


SCHEDULE
I don't want to post a detailed schedule of his day on the internet, so I will do generalities.

Before School (day starts at 7 AM)
Before school he does these activities:
  • Gets ready (shower, dressed, pray, brush teeth, make bed, eat breakfast)
  • Read church magazine (I like to read an article from a church magazine we get to help him have a peaceful frame of mind before going to school)
  • Plays with Kaitlyn
  • He sometimes practices his piano before school--sometimes after school
School Day
  • School stuff
After School
  • Homework
  • Practice piano if didn't do it in the morning
  • Video game time
  • Play with siblings
  • Dinner
  • Chores
  • Family time
  • Get ready for bed (in bed by 8-8:30 PM)
Extra Activities
Right now, the only activity we do outside of school is piano lessons.

Monday, November 28, 2011

It Starts With You

Monkey See, Monkey Do
Last week, we talked about the moral precept of teaching what is right, not just what is wrong. I talked about sharing examples with your children when correcting of family members on what is the right way. "When Mommy gets frustrated, does she hit you? No. We don't hit when we are frustrated. Instead, we XYZ."

You of course have to be consistent in your actions for your example to carry any weight. "Your actions speak so loudly that I can't hear your words." If you want your children to be moral, you need to be so yourself.

It Starts With You
I know, I say that a lot, right? I really believe it. "Effective parents know they cannot lead their child any further than they have gone themselves" (page 78). Trying to train your child in a moral path that you have not yourself followed is about as effective as you trying to guide them down a raging river not knowing how to avoid the dangerous whirlpools and hidden boulders.

But it is more than just knowing where they are. Would you rather go down the river with a guide who as studied out the dangers and can point to them all on the map or the one who as studied all the dangers and has also practiced avoiding them in life?

I am not saying you need to have been perfect your entire life in order to teach your children to be morally virtuous. Not at all. But if you are currently trying to teach your child to speak nicely to others, know that it is the right thing to do to speak nicely to others, and yet often speak in a condescending manner to people, your child is not likely to "do as you say and not as you do." When I was in college, some friends had a saying about finding a wife. "You gotta be what you wanna pull." I think that is equally as true in raising children.

Except we have a serious advantage. I think our children are better than we are. They are more valiant at heart than we are. Sometimes children come out great despite their parents, but for the most part, you gotta be what you wanna pull. "...our children will live at the same moral standard we do, no matter what standard we describe with our lips" (page 79).

You might be surprised what little ways you break rules that you have in place for your children. Do you help with a happy heart? Do you speak nicely of others at all times? Are you patient with your family members? Do you control your temper? Are you dependable in your responsibilities around the home? Do you assume the best from others?

Whenever you have a problem with your child, consider in what ways you and your spouse might be displaying this vice. You are likely not doing it as exaggerated as your child is. When children mimic, they do it in such a magnified way they show us things we never knew we did. For example, McKenna has this way she will pull her bottom lip when she is upset. I thought it was the oddest thing, then one day I noticed Brayden does the same thing--just a lot more minutely. I never noticed it with him, but did with her because of the way a child magnifies something she is mimicking.


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Saturday, November 26, 2011

Gigi Hill {Giveaway!}

Love, love, love, love, love this giveaway! Really, I do. Today's giveaway is a fabulous bag from Gigi Hill. Gigi Hill has tons of bags to suit a variety of needs. They have everything from small bags for your phone and wallet to large bags that hold just about anything you could carry around with you. Carry on? Check. Purse? Check. Diaper bag? Check. Tote bag? Sure thing. It is all there. These bags also come in a variety of fabric types and styles. 

Today you are entering to win a Zipped Brigitte as shown in this photo:


This is a large tote. It started out as a beach bag but can be used for even more--it would make the perfect overnight bag!  I love the fabric of it. It is most definitely ready to be handled by a mother of children. This bag will handle sand, water, spills, and children. This bag includes their Signature Pocket Design. It is ready to be ultra organized! Here is a breakdown of the pocket design:

Here is another picture of the bag:

This bag sells for $168.00 and you get the chance to win one today for free! Let's not delay any longer. 

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:
Like Gigi Hill on Facebook! Then comment saying you did so. Also note, if you don’t win this great Gigi Hill bag there is still a chance for you to win! You can enter to win a great tote, bag, or accessory from their new Passport Collection by “Liking” their Facebook Fan Page and participating in their fun contest. See their page for more.

Sample Entry
I like it!


For Your Third Entry:
Go to the Gigi Hill website. Look at the bags. Come back and comment with your favorite bag!

Sample Entry
Zipped Brigitte of course!!


For Your Fourth Entry:
Like this blog on Facebook. Already do? Tell me so. Comment saying you like it.

Sample Entry
Hi! I like on Facebook!


For Your Fifth Entry:
Free entry! But you have to enter to get it.

Sample Entry
Entering for free!


For Your Sixth Entry: 
Tweet, blog, OR share on Facebook about this giveaway! Then comment saying you did so--include your twitter ID or blog addy if applicable. You only need to do one of these to enter.

Sample Entry
I blogged it! yourblogaddress.com


For Your Seventh Entry:
Tweet, blog, OR share on Facebook about this giveaway--but it needs to be different than your entry 6! Then comment saying you did so--include your twitter ID or blog addy if applicable. You only need to do one of these to enter.

Sample Entry
I shared on Facebook!


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 Saturday, December 3 when I select a winner. I don't know the exact time that will happen. You can just enter until I select a winner.
  • The winner will be randomly selected at random.org
  • The winner will be announced Saturday, December 3.
  • 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!
  • US shipping addresses only please




MyPix2Canvas WINNER!

The winner of the canvas from MyPix2Canvas is...

ofwhomiamtheworst

Congrats! Email me at valplowman@gmail.com to claim your prize! You have one week or another winner will be chosen.

And as if we haven't had enough giveaways this week yet, we have another one coming up this morning...

Friday, November 25, 2011

SnuggleU {Giveaway!}



It is time again for another giveaway of the SnuggleU!

For those that do not know, the SnuggleU is a product my husband and I designed for Kaitlyn after bringing her home from the NICU. They used blankets wrapped up to cuddle around the bottom of her. We were feeling mighty protective of our girl--she was our baby after we lost Braxston and then she spent a few days in the NICU, so we were a little extra obsessed with making life perfect for her.

When McKenna came along, we used this with her, also, only this time used it in her bassinet AND her crib. She was an amazing sleeper. She loved the cozy feeling of being snuggled up while she slept. We have loved it and we have gotten fabulous feedback from customers. 


Today we are giving away a SnuggleU to one lucky winner! You win will a SnuggleU and your choice of pillowcase cover. If you don't win, we have a special holiday discount on our blog, so check that out. http://snuggleu.blogspot.com/

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:
Become a follower of the SnuggleU blog! Then comment saying you did so. 

Sample Entry
I follow it!


For Your Third Entry:
Go to the SnuggleU blog. Look at the pillowcase fabric options. Come back and comment with your favorite fabric choice!

Sample Entry
Gray/green/blue flowers!


For Your Fourth Entry:
Like this blog on Facebook. Already do? Tell me so. Comment saying you like it.

Sample Entry
Hi! I like on Facebook!


For Your Fifth Entry:
Free entry! But you have to enter to get it.

Sample Entry
Entering for free!


For Your Sixth Entry: 
Tweet, blog, OR share on Facebook about this giveaway! Then comment saying you did so--include your twitter ID or blog addy if applicable. You only need to do one of these to enter.

Sample Entry
I blogged it! yourblogaddress.com


For Your Seventh Entry:
Go to the blog and read the user reviews. Come back and share that you did so. 

Sample Entry
I read the reviews!


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, December 2 Mountain Standard Time.
  • The winner will be randomly selected at random.org
  • The winner will be announced Saturday, December 3.
  • 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!
  • US shipping addresses only please


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