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My brain is slowly atrophying. I am so busy with mothering stuff and homemaking stuff and moving overseas-support raising stuff that I am finding it hard to read or to keep up with current events or even to watch movies. Certainly, I am not finding time to write about any of those things. All that to say that this is yet another boring parenting post. But some of you might find it interesting or at least be able to weigh in on some of it. If you could care less about parenting, just skip to number 7 for what's really important.
1. Attentiveness. Responsibility. Respect. A friend of mine recently mentioned these as three character traits that are the focus of the Christian, classical school where her husband teaches. I thought they were pretty good words for what we want to foster around home as well, and they seem to encompass most of the problem areas of behavior. So the boys and I made a poster with those three words, talked about what they meant, and drew pictures and wrote some ideas under each word. It's great to have key concepts to point out ("Calvin, is that showing respect?") that the boys can then attach to certain behaviors.
2. Reward charts. I resisted them for so long because I so snottily assumed they would teach my kids to work for external reward and/or to be people pleasers. Know what? Those things are okay! They are how kids are wired, and with maturity comes a greater pull to internal gratification. In the meantime, we have two charts with space shuttles in the corner, blasting off from Earth and following a trail through the solar system to Pluto. Once all of the dots on the trail are covered with star stickers and the shuttles reach Pluto, the boys get a treat. Each time I see them making a special effort to be attentive, responsible, or respectful without having to be asked and/or without complaining, they get a star. Calvin is especially into it, and Hobbes is because his brother is.
3. M&M's for dinner. Okay, I'm not really feeding the boys candy for dinner, but this is another reward system that is working for us. During some meals, when I want the boys to work on a particular table manner, like staying in their seats or, heaven forbid, eating with utensils instead of hands, I put five M&M's on the table for each of them. When they do whatever we are working on avoiding, I take a candy away. They get to eat whatever pieces are left at the end of the meal. Sometimes Hobbes says he didn't want candy anyway, so I am not sure this external reward thing is as effective with him.
4. Not-so-baby food. Linus still has not developed the coordination to feed himself, has no teeth, and is constantly hungry, like a linebacker. My only solution has been using this food mill to grind up our dinners whenever possible and feed them to him. It is the only way to get enough food into him without sitting there for hours. He is still always hungry and nursing every three hours during the day, but we are slowly figuring out how to feed him.
5. Common Sense Advice. Have I mentioned my new favorite blog? Go check out Like Mother, Like Daughter for some fantastic common sense, mommy-guilt-free advice about parenting and homemaking. Her worksheets on the sidebar are excellent. Really, delete all other parenting blogs from your reader and read hers. It is SO refreshing.
6. Homeschool. Yep, I'm giving it a try. Calvin loves Saxon math, but may be done with the first grade curriculum before Christmas at this pace. He begs to do more each day. I am hoping to get into a morning routine of doing the calendar and weather and daily/weekly schedule. Since we have a small house, I decided to make a small, portable "bulletin board" out of a pocket folder. I know this idea isn't original, but I thought I would throw it out there. I will do the calendar and weather on one side of the inside and the schedule on the other. I plan to use a combination of sticky notes and velcro tabs for attaching the month, day, weather, and schedule cards to the sides, storing the extra pieces in the folder pockets. I'll let you know how it goes.
7. Football. More important than the previous 6 points. The season starts tomorrow. Go Vols!