I love this time of year and even though in these parts it does not really mean cooler temps yet- it is cooler than it was in August though...
I just love, love, love the colors of fall.
Bacon & Eggs anyone?
Hooray! Cousins are in town from Germany!
Mr. Funny Face
Have a very Happy Halloween! Tonight for dinner before hittin' the candy we're having Witch's Stew (veggie soup) with witch's fingers- whole grain breadsticks shaped into witch's fingers- crooked with moles and an almond as the fingernail. This makes a perfect warm, quick meal to get the fun started!
Often in the car we listen to books on tape these days. The girls are always so eager to get back to their stories that the instant we get into the car I hear, 'Turn it on.' When one of them is not in the car we don't listen to it because then the other child would be off. These days the big sister is the one who rides in the car with no story after we've dropped the little sister off at school. But today I picked the little sister up without big sister so we had a 1/2 hr car trip with no story or radio on and here are just some of the things that I heard on the way home:
"Did you know that 5+5+5+5+5+5=30?"
"I drew my best picture ever today. And I made an almost perfect magenta heart."
"Why did you pack those disgusting crackers in my lunch? They make me feel like barfing when I eat them."
"If you were born without a jaw would you rather be born with your mouth open or closed?" (Honestly, this kind of freaked me out! What kind of question is that??)
I replied, "Open so I could at least pour liquid into my mouth."
She responded, "I would choose closed for sure because it's easier to talk with your mouth closed."
Then we went into a long game of trying to guess what she was saying with her mouth closed. I scored a perfect zero. Then the next game went into her holding her mouth open with her fingers so her jaw couldn't move and again the guessing game continued. I scored about 80% on this one. So, she started rethinking the part about it being easier to talk with your mouth closed.
As odd as the conversations were that took place they did help me to know her a little more. If the radio were on this could've never taken place. Even though we do love our stories these days- We are in the middle of Prince Caspian right now and loving it- it was a lovely treat to listen to a little bit of steam of consciousness escaping from the little sister. Also, that big sister was not there to interrupt, over-power or laugh at her made a big difference. The whole rest of the evening I felt closer to her and also kept wondering, "I wonder what she's got on her mind now?" It just takes a few minutes for us to tune into someone else's life and point of view to see them a little differently and when that's our own child it's particularly rewarding.
In honor of the review I am offering all dvds for a sale price through this weekend. Sale price is $15.95, rather than $19.95. It's a good time to get them before Christmas! The real story is that I could not figure out how to offer a coupon to the Jet with Kids readers so am offering the sale to all. This will be the last one before Christmas.
One of my all time favorite pieces of advice early on was about the Halloween sugar faeries. In case anyone does not know them, particularly if your children are younger, I'd like to introduce you! If older, this will be much more challenging to pull off. In our house it is the Sugarplum faeries that visit on Hallow's Eve after all the candy has been collected. The kids all get to eat as much as they like on the night of collection but that night they put out their candy to the Sugarplum faeries, who gather all the candy for the sugar to begin making all the sweet treats for Christmas time. The faeries need a lot because there are all those gingerbread houses to be decorated, candy canes to be made, cookies for the tree, the list goes on. So they need all those little helpers on Halloween to help them do the gathering or they would never be able to meet the supply for Christmas.
Luckily, we started this on the big sister's very first Halloween so she knew right from the get go that the candy was not meant for her. She could eat pieces while she collected, but it was all meant for something more important than her own satisfaction. She really took pride in gathering as much as she could for those faeries. And still to this day they know the candy is for them. Last year the little sister hid little piles from the faeries that she wanted to keep for herself and was quite happy to trick them, which is completely consistent with her personality and temperament. She's phlegmatic, loves food and definitely has tendencies towards hoarding. The big sister is of course mortified by her sisters tricky ways and tries to guilt her about it yet at the same time wishes she had a little stash of candy as well. But that is consistent with her personality and temperament as well.
And our faeries are always kind enough to leave a thoughtful little note and small gift behind for the girls' hard work. She usually brings a much wanted book or handmade item made especially for them.
I have not ever been too into watching TV and have never paid for cable. I went through a phase of being into the Amazing Race and bought rabbit ears for our TV that I had to hold in my lap and keep moving around while watching to catch the unbelievable locations they visited.
We are staying with my mom right now who has a TV nearly as big as the wall it sits in front of and has hundreds of channels to choose from. So last night I found myself watching Super Nanny. I'd seen tidbits of the show before but never watched an episode. It was both fascinating and disturbing and yet I think the family was far better off after her visit than where they were before her visit. The family had 5 children and the mom was just recovering from kidney cancer and the dad was terrified to stay home with his own children. It was truly like watching a train wreck that I couldn't peel myself away from.
I was stunned to see that mom was doing nothing to prevent further decay of her physical body. She was still totally out of control in her own life. You would think something as powerful and threatening as cancer would've got her attention and brought her to a place where she was doing something proactive to change herself and her anger responses. I would think that if I'd lost a kidney I would vow never to yell ever again. But here is where our medical system really fails us. They tell us to 'reduce stress.' But don't really give us a how. Even western medicine agrees that stress causes the body to produce chemicals in ours bodies that wreak havoc but the best they can do is say, 'try some form of mind/body healing.' They know that the people who have truly healed themselves have usually turned to some form of alternative healing, usually from the East. As mothers we must gain control of our own emotions and not spew them all over our children when we feel frustrated or overwhelmed.
The hardest part for me to watch was the bath/bedtime fiasco. This can be such a wonderful time of connecting with our children at the end of the day and even Nanny's suggestions were so minimal. During my time of living in Japan I became addicted to bath before bed routine. The Japanese would never get into bed 'dirty.' Even if I shower in the morning and wash my hair I still bathe before bed. And I still bathe with the girls, now 7 and 9. It's getting crowded these days and if I had a boy this would likely have stopped years ago, but this time is so precious to me because this is where I hear all about their day.
From bath we move straight into bed time. We brush teeth, put on jammies and get into bed for story. There are many really great teachers out there like Kim John Payne, who studies modern stresses on children, recommend the same book each night for minimum of one month until the age of 7. This gives children a really strong sense of predictability in their lives, which fosters trust. The books should be something that you really want the child to bring into their sleep and should be nurturing and comforting with very simple pictures. If the story is too stimulating it will not calm the child. My favorites include these two, both of which I read for about one and a half years, each. Yup, every single night before going to bed the same book for well over a year. That's about 500 times in a row. :
The images are so soothing and warming and comforting. Imagine the mom first lighting a candle with her 2 year old, then crawling into bed with child and slowly reading this book. Then end with a night time verse, blow out the candles and say prayers if that's part of your beliefs. Then the mom could've sat at the edge of her child's bed while rubbing his back and singing a lullaby. I think it's fine if parents want their children to sleep in their own beds and Super Nanny's guidelines of no eye contact and no speaking I think are good. But it does not need to be approached as a war with a 'win' and 'lose' mentality. The dad last night said a few times, 'We won.' while the children seemed quite deflated. If you're moving a child into his own bed the child will likely cry, but singing gently to the child or staying in their room while singing gently are options that support the child rather than 'break them.'
And of coarse the old stand-by The Sandman, by Rien Poortvliet. The girls would often wake up and check their eyes first thing to see if the sandman had visited them and left sand in their eyes. This is again one of those things that many adults take so literally not wanting to 'lie' to their children giving them the scientific meaning of the 'sand' in their eyes. But the feeling I wanted to convey to my children was that they are taken care of as they sleep and magic does happen. They can travel anywhere they want, eat as much candy as they like, stay up playing with their dolls, etc. in their dreams. Whatever they couldn't do in their waking hours they would say, 'Oh, I'm going to do that tonight in my dreams.' They still do this as they are much into magic these days and wish they could do spells and ride brooms. I still hear, 'I'm totally going flying tonight.' I've been encouraging the girls to try to meet up in their dreams and do stuff together. Back before children I was really into Shamanic dream travel and my boyfriend at the time and I were able to meet in our dreams- once at a wedding at a water slide. We were able to describe the same place with the same people in attendance.
The girls still eat their pancakes 'Roberta style,' which is rolled up and then dipped in syrup.
These two books both reflect our own cultural heritage and if we were of a different ethnic heritage I would've likely picked different books that reflected that culture in an equally soothing manner. I think it's important for bedtime books to be about going to bed and sleeping, not race cars, climbing mountains or going to baseball games. Those are all great for daytime reading. Think calm, relaxing, comfort and sleep.
My wish for every child is that they could be tucked into bed each night with love, beauty, comfort and peace. Sweet dreams.
The girls are really into playing card games these days and we love this one from Bidcage Books. The fun thing about this set is that it comes with a book telling all about the featured artists on the cards. Also, the cards have numbers as well as the name of the artists for those that are not yet reading. The company also has other artist genres to choose from. We love the impressionists.