Saturday, February 28, 2009

Discipling our Children

For some reason, I'm not able to post photos tonight. So, I thought it would be a perfect time to talk about a parenting. Today I took part in a survey for the US Department of Health. Most of the questions were generic.

In fact, there was only one question I thought was interesting; that was, do we feel that it is our responsibility to teach our children, or do we think that children learn best on their own through experiences.

It was another easy question, but one I feel very strongly about. Thomas and I both think that our number one responsibility to our children is to provide instruction in everything. In fact, to discipline a child is to instruct them through modeling, motivating and teaching desirable behaviors. Today, most people think discipline means to punish. But historically, it meant to instruct and improve.

Here is how Webster's Dictionary in 1828 defined the word discipline: " To instruct or educate; to inform the mind; to prepare by instructing in correct principles and habits; as, to discipline youth for a profession, or for future usefulness."

Is that what you think of when you hear the word "discipline." I know this is not the way I would have defined the word before we were foster parents.

There is so much to good parenting, and we have so much to learn still. But I feel that we got a good start through our foster care training. To become licensed we had 6 hours of behavior management. And this fall, I took another 15 hours class on behavior management because I thought I needed it.

In every moment of the day, we try to take the opportunity to find learning moments for our children. Moments that we can use to instruct them. For instance, Petra likes to hang around me while I'm trying to prepare dinner each night. This can be quite annoying and time consuming to have a toddler whining under your feet. Each night, I try to find something for her to help with or for her to do while I am busy. Some nights I give her items to put on the table to help me. Last night, I turned dinner prep into a counting game. We had beef stir fry. Everything I did, we counted together. So when I cut the green and red peppers, we counted to 10. And when I pounded on the beef we counted. She learned from the experience. I know this because she counted from 5-10 by herself last night.

Positive parenting requires a lot of work. It takes time and effort. It takes keeping your cool and avoiding junk behavior. It takes patience. And it takes constantly reminding yourself not to use coercive behavior with your children. Or at least it does for me.

I am thrilled that the experts have come up with a list of coercive behaviors we should all avoid. Avoiding coercion is critical to maintaining a healthy relationship with anyone, but especially with your children. That is because trying to change inappropriate behavior through negative interactions causes a person to avoid, get even, and escape. It also often produces guilt, humiliation, fear, discomfort, or other negative feelings.

The experts have identified the behaviors we need to avoid. Each day I run the list through my head, and sometimes I catch myself in the midst of one. We each have our own bad habits, the trick is to identify them and change our behavior first. Here are the 12 common coercives I was taught to avoid.

1. Questioning - especially any question that starts with "why"
2. Arguing
3. Sarcasm and teasing
4. Force, verbal or physical
5. Threats
6. Criticism - be especially careful not to mix criticism with praise
7. Despair (includes pleading and helplessness...always the victim)
8. Logic (logic can be used with your children, just not during an inappropriate behavior)
9. Telling on them to others (don't let your children overhear you talking about what they did)
10. Taking away privileges, items and allowance (what, you ask? well, children do earn privileges ... basically the child should know what they will or will not earn ahead of time, this shouldn't be an immediate response that the child never had warning of)
11. One-up-manships (Ever heard the phrase, " you think you have it hard..."
12. Silent treatment

Friday, February 27, 2009

The Grocery Game

This year Thomas and I have made a commitment to stay on a budget and pay off debt. We are on track so far ... and I am loving it. What this means is we are only spending cash, and we have decided to go with the envelope method.

Today I tried my hand at becoming an extreme couponer. After hearing about how much people were saving at the grocery store, I couldn't pass it up. It just doesn't make sense to spend more than you have to. So, for the past few days I have spent hours, and I mean hours, reading up on tips and advice, looking at sales, looking for coupons, etc. There are some great sites that I found extremely helfpul. I'll post them at the end of this email. I know that next time it will be easier and take less time. I was actually hoping for better results tonight, but I've only been collecting coupons for one week. So I think this was a good start; it is the first time ever that I saved more than I spent.

Here is what I bought:
5lb red potatoes
Natures Own bread
Publix ice cream
2 boxes Quaker Instant Oatmeal
Aunt Jemima Pancake Mix
2 boxes of Cereal -Quaker brand
4 cans of Progresso soup
1 can of Muir Glen Organic Soup
1 jar of Muir Glen Organic Marinara Sauce
2 jars of Classico Sauce
2 boxes of Mueller's Pasta
20 cans of Green Giant Veggies
2 boxes of betty crocker brownie mix
2 boxes of velveeta and cheese
2 boxes of kraft mac and cheese
2 frozen Voila complete dinners
Simple Orange/Mango Juice
1lb Strawberries
2 lbs Red Grapes
Dozen Eggs
Starbucks Coffee

Total cost before sales and coupons: $127.04
Total spent: $51.84
Total saved: $75.20 (59%)

Not shabby. Lots of room to improve.

These two websites were very helpful at getting me started.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

How to identify an allergy?

This is going to be a quick post. I keep thinking of things I want to post about ... my husband, Valentine's day, other thoughts I have about things...however, the most pressing issue right now is Jasper's allergies. He seems to be allergic to something. He is generally a very happy, very good baby. However, we are continuing to have issues.

First, he was on normal formula. His skin was dry and itchy all over his head, scaley in most places. He started vomiting and had awful watery mucous diarrhea. So it was time to change his formula - the best guess being that he had a milk protein allergy.

Next, we tried soy formula. Immediately, he stopped spitting up and his diaper changed. Nearly two weeks after the switch, things cleared up immensely with his skin and he wasn't itchy. Then about two weeks later, he was vomiting up his bottles and once again had watery mucous diarrhea. So he seemed to develop a soy protein allergy.

Now he is on Nutramigen. It is a hypoallergenic formula that provides proteins in a hydrolyzed form. The day after changing his formula, his head looked better. Although, I would not say that it has continued. His diapers changed immediately also, and he has stopped vomitting and spitting up. His diapers are still really, really loose. We started this 9 days ago.

Here is the deal, he is still scratching his head like a crazy fool. Although not having "fits" about it all the time, usually only when he is sleepy or asleep. He will scream at night about it, and still pretty much be asleep. We have to swaddle him tightly, and then he gets mad about that.

Ok, so two days ago he woke up screaming around 5am and I could not get him to stop. We walked, and rocked, etc. No good. Finally, I took him with me to go buy a paper and that helped. When we got home, I turned on the lights and sat him down to play. And found a rash all over his head. (See photo below-click on the photo to make it larger). I took photos, thank goodness, because by the time Thomas woke up it was gone. A few hours later, he had a rash all over his head once again. Both times I think it was between 2-3 hours after his botttle. However, it did not happen the rest of the day.

Any input?

And here is an extra picture of my two boys sleeping!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Jasper rolled over!

OK, the title says it all. Today was Jasper's big day. He rolled from his belly to his back. I tried to grab the camera and film it ... but was literally 2 seconds too late. He is doing quite well. We've had some more trouble with his formula. About a month ago we put him on soy formula because his head was so itchy ... things cleared up after 2 weeks. Now it seems he may have developed an allergy to soy formula ... once again he is waking up in the middle of the night crying about his head tomorrow he is heading back to the doctor to see about getting a prescription formula.

This week we received a FABULOUS gift from Aunt Alida and Uncle Sam - Petra's great-great aunt and uncle (thomas' side). I was shocked and in disbelief because I didn't know this existed. And so absolutely thrilled to get such interesting and educational books. Petra received two "Touch the Art" books - Brush Mona Lisa's hair and Feed Matisse's Fish. These board books have pictures of famous artwork each with a 3d object for the child to touch or feel. Petra loved them instantly; as Thomas read one to her she was repeating "tick tock" over and over as he went through it. Jasper also loved them. He stared happily at all the pictures. I was so excited about these books I took them into work the next day to show them around! I have a friend there who loves art history - these I thought are a great way to introduce art to children.

Petra is her normal happy self-also with the normal 1 year old junk behavior. Today she came up to me and said "cookie" out of the blue. I asked her if she wanted a cookie and she said "yes." Then later in the day while we were in the living room she pointed up towards her room and grunted (you know the normal 1 year old grunt they use for everything). This is not normal. Petra normally does not want to go to her room. She is quite happy in the living room. But I asked anyway, "do you want to go to your room." "Yes," she said and toddled off and up the stairs. I don't think she actually had a plan once we got up there. But generally, maybe it has helped that we are playing in her room more often.

I think I posted that Thomas put Jasper's crib together last weekend, and we organized their room. It works great now because all the toys and books are in one area. Petra seems to enjoy playing in her room now more often. And today I got confirmation of that fact. So real quick, here are some photos of the room. Jasper's basic IKEA crib is below and working out great. And then you can see the gobs of toys in their room.

And here are some videos I thought you might enjoy.
The first one is a short one of Jasper boxing his toys - I had a hard time getting this because everytime he saw the camera he would stop. But this is his normal 20 minute workout each morning while we cook and eat breakfast.

This second video is a very laid back look at our Sunday afternoon lounging around the house.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Adopting is a gift

It’s been too long since the last post - the main reason of course being that I’m too busy these days to post. In the evening, when I’m not busy with the children, and not sick or exhausted, I’ve been working on a website design for the Heart Gallery North Florida. I’m the founding president of our local Heart Gallery which serves 12 counties across northwest Florida. Heart Galleries are incredible websites and museum-quality exhibits which feature children in the state foster care system that are available for adoption. Ours is just starting, but we are the 15th Heart Gallery in the state of Florida. I’ve only just begun to work on the website – go to

Our children are fantastic. I’ve wanted to post to let you know all the new things that are happening.

Petra is talking up a storm. She is repeating nearly every thing we say. She will try to count with us, try to repeat the letters in her name, chime in every once in a while with the correct letter when we sing the ABCs, she tell us I love you now, she also says jasper, oval, circle, she even said triangle yesterday.

But her favorite words seem to be No and Stop. For instance, I will try and put her hair in a ponytail and she will yell "oww", "no, stop it." Over the last week, Thomas and I have made an effort to say “Yes sir” and “Yes ma'am” frequently. The result has been wonderful, Petra has also picked up the word “yes.” She now often responds to questions affirmatively. She will say yes now if you ask her if she wants her juice, and she uses it in other ways. By example, two days ago when I was trying to pull my lunch out of the fridge before I ran off to work, she decided she wanted to play in the fridge. She loves to pull things out, etc. So, I told her we had to close the door. “No” she yelled, “stop it.” (we hear that a lot). I looked at her very pleasantly and said “who do you think you are talking to, do you want a knuckle sandwich.” Real sweetly, she responded “yes.” Either she really likes knuckle sandwiches (which she does, in case you are wondering this is when we playfully put our fist up to her mouth) or she likes any sentence which has the words “do you want” in it. I think it is probably the later. Anyway, the point being is that it is really helping to balance out her use of the word no and it has made a tremendous difference in her responses to us.

Petra also is getting really good at her shape sorters and starting to get the hang of her puzzles!

Jasper is our chunk of hunk. He seems so much bigger and older than last month. But, I don’t think he is much heavier based on our doctor visits over the last couple weeks. He is doing great. Thomas put his crib together this past weekend and now he is sleeping in the nursery with Petra. He is doing really well in the crib – he is still waking up every 3-4 hours to eat, but at least he is in his own bed. I still usually have to bring him to bed with us around 5am because he starts to get restless, but this is much better for me than having him in our room or in our bed all night … which is the direction things were heading last week.

Jasper has some interesting squealing going on these days, I guess you could say he is singing or listening to himself make noise. It’s very high-pitched which is why it sounds like singing. He is also very strong. He will be rolling over any day now. Right now he is leaning toward a career as a boxer … let me explain. He is thrilled each morning to sit in his bouncy seat while we fix breakfast, for about 20 minutes he repeatedly punches his toys in rapid succession like a speed drill with both hands. It is hilarious; he does it with such force that the toys wrap around and we have to unwind them for him. He loves it. He never really pulls on them or touches them, just punches them. Oh, well he does pull the middle one which plays music. There are three total – he punches the ones on each side. I’ll try to get it on video one morning.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Sunny Afternoon

I just wanted to share some photos with you. Everything here is wonderful. The photo directly above and below were taken of Petra the day of her adoption - one week ago tomorrow - in front of the Old Capitol in downtown Tallahassee. She is by far one of the greatest joys in our life. After going through years of infertility, I never thought I would look back and thank God for the pain and grief. However, if we had been able to have children, I don't think we would have pursued fostering, and we would not have this perfect little girl in our life that I know has been planned for us from the beginning.

On a lighter note, the rest of these pics are from today. I made pancakes this morning -- here she is chowing down on one of her favorite foods.

And we played outside today, and took a walk down the street.

Tonight Petra surprised us with some new words. We were starting to watch the Super Bowl when she decided to stand, then squat down, then stand up, then squat down, etc. She looked quite pleased with herself and we realized she was saying "up" and "down" each time she moved. I guess they taught that one at day care. It was cute. She is also saying apple and ba"nana" now. Along with cookie, and so much more. Today she made a good food choice - she took the apple over the cookie! yeah.

Jasper has been growing and becoming a real mama's boy. Thankfully he has also stopped attacking his head with fits and scratching himself. Just in the last couple days there has been a dramatic difference. I was starting to think he was OCD. The doctor had suggested maybe it was the milk proteins and to switch him to soy milk ... it took 2 weeks to make a difference but there has been a 100% turnaround. Who knew formula made your head itch? Thankfully, he doesn't look like he's been through the brier patch any longer.

And here we are playing on Thomas' new web cam.