Thursday, November 30, 2006

Book Review and Challenge

I just finished reading, "Give It Up!--My Year of Learning to Live Better with Less" by Mary Carlomagno. The author decided to give up a different thing each month for a year and she writes about her experiences. She gave up alcohol, shopping, elevators, cell phones, dining out, television, taxis, coffee, cursing, chocolate, and multitasking. It was fun to read about what she learned about herself and the challenges that came with each different thing. With almost everything, she drastically changed the priority that the particular thing would have in her life after each month. I really enjoyed the book, but mostly I just like the idea of the whole thing. So, I decided to challenge myself to do the same and give up one of my vices each month for a year. I'm excited to start, so I'm starting tomorrow with December instead of waiting until January. For December, I'm going to give up desserts. At first, I wanted to give up brownies since that seems to be my biggest weakness, but when I thought about it, I realized that if I just gave up brownies, I'd probably just replace it with something else like cookies, icecream, etc. So, I'm going to give up all desserts. Being the holiday season, this should be even more of a challenge than normal, but probably the best time to do it anyway. I'll post from time to time about how it's going. I have most of the things picked out for the year, but if anyone has any suggestions, let me know. Also, if anyone would like to join me, you're more than welcome to try it out with me as well.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

New Look for My Blog

I'm trying out a new look for my blog to see how I like it. So far, I do, but I may still end up going back to the old look. We'll see. I haven't figured out how to put links in on the side yet, though.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Pranksters

Last Wednesday night, Britton and I played a prank on Jason. I had some rubber gloves out from a project that we did for preschool (we made turkeys by stuffing the gloves with popcorn and painting the feathers and rest of the turkey, they were really cute!) Anyway, later on, Britton wanted to fill a rubber glove up with water, so I told him about the prank at Oakcrest where we would freeze water in a rubber glove and put it in someone's bed. His eyes lit up and he said he wanted to do it to Jason that night. So, we filled it up and put it in the freezer. I completely forgot about it, but Britton got it out of the freezer when it was bedtime. Jason was already in bed, so I had to get him out while Britton snuck the frozen hand in. I lured Jason into the other room, but then just whispered to him about what was going on. It was a good thing too, because Britton didn't even put the hand under the blankets or anything, he just set it right on the bed in plain sight. Jason played along really well and just laid on top of it and let out a good scream. Britton started laughing so hard. It was priceless!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Interesting Article

I read this article on MSN the other day and thought it was interesting.

Anxious Parents
It's a worrisome trend, according to this dad.
By Kristopher Kaiyala

When I was a kid, if it wasn't a school day or a soccer weekend I was off in the woods with my dog or with my neighborhood friends. My family lived on a forested hill on the outskirts of town—exactly the kind of place an adventurous kid would want to grow up. There were creeks to dam, dirt mounds to jump bikes off of, tree forts to build, new and winding trails to explore. In winter, with a foot of new snow to track out, it was even better. I would leave in the morning, after doing chores, and as long as I made it home at the agreed-upon time, or checked in by phone if I ended up at a friend's house, all was good. I was free for the day. Can you imagine letting your kids roam free today? That is, free all day, unsupervised and without a cell phone or BlackBerry or homing device strapped to their waists? There's something about our world in 2006—the seemingly ever-present threat of shooters, kidnappers, predators, drug dealers, scammers, or natural hazards like ponds and wells—that makes the child-rearing freedoms of yesteryear seem dangerous and anachronistic. And yet somehow, we survived. My mom and dad were great parents. They were involved in all aspects of my childhood, but when it came to just being a kid, they backed off. They gave me a lot of space to grow and learn and explore and figure things out on my own or with friends, as long as I showed them I could make good decisions and be responsible for my actions. Of course back in the '70s most people still smoked and seat belts were an abstract concept. Public safety campaigns and liability lawsuits had yet to grip America, and PlayStation/Xbox/Nintendo and the Internet weren't even blips on the short-attention-span horizon. "Disorder" probably meant you got the wrong hamburger at Dairy Queen. One could easily dismiss those days as a "different time." And certainly technology and medical science and communication and safety standards have changed dramatically, but kids are still kids. Their basic needs haven't changed. I'm just a dad, not a sociologist, but it seems to me that for healthy development, kids need equal doses of responsibility and freedom. Get rid of one and you're asking for trouble. Get rid of both and it's going to be a bumpy ride. And yet that's exactly what I see a lot of parents doing today. They eagerly do all they can to smooth out life's troublesome potholes for their kids, while at the same time micromanaging their every move. As writer Hara Estrof Marano put it, parents try to "engineer a risk-free world for children." In 2004, Marano wrote an article for Psychology Today called "A Nation of Wimps." Her book by the same title is due out in 2007 (nationofwimps.com). I'm not one to pay much attention to so-called experts, but I think Marano is onto something.
"Cell phones function as an eternal umbilical cord," she said during a recent phone interview, "and it's all so misguided. Kids aren't allowed the freedom that allows them to build their own identities. They can't make their own mistakes, and so they miss out on critical life skills. When something difficult arises, there's mom or dad on the cell phone trying to fix everything." Parental anxiety is natural, said Marano, but too often horribly misplaced. "Anxious parents turn their kids into projects." And you can dispense with the notion that it's the guilt-ridden working parent who's most at fault. "Often the at-home parent is the one freaking out. A lot of moms and dads, especially in affluent homes, leave the work force to focus on their kids. They apply their professional training to parenting and try to turn their kids into résumés on two legs."
Or worse, into patients. "I think it's appalling how many parents are willing to have their kids labeled 'diseased' because they think it will help them academically," Marano continued. "It all centers around giving their kids more time to take tests, especially the big test—the SAT." She says a lot of parental anxiety involves getting children into college. "When kids do not function well in that narrow academic groove, parents try to give them an edge or have the rules bent for them." She also says kids are often labeled defective so early that they don't fight it; they internalize that something's wrong with them. They see themselves as weak.
Marano has plenty of research and experience to back up her findings. Me? Just my daily observations. You see them at the playground, at the mall, across the backyard fence, at PTA meetings—moms and dads who hover or praise or scold to the point of annoyance or irrelevance. Those parents who are so consumed by their kids' security and self-esteem and academic standing that you wonder if those poor children will ever have a chance to speak out or grow up or just be themselves. Of course it's our duty to protect our kids and help them succeed. But at what cost? The last thing we should do is project our sometimes irrational anxieties onto them, like the mother who recently told me she wasn't sure if her child was allergic to peanuts but she had the medication for it just in case. You know, all kids are different, but they're tough. They're built to survive, and sometimes we forget that. We need to step back and remember the world for the beautiful place it is. And let kids be kids.

Monday, November 13, 2006

No Safe Place

The only place that I can put anything that Haley can't get into is on top of our fridge. Well, this morning, she climbed on a chair, then onto the counter, then onto the microwave and could reach all the stuff I have been stashing there that she shouldn't get into. When I walked in, she had the matches and said, "I wanna do fireworks". I guess I'm going to have to find some other place to put things.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Primary Program

Today was our Primary Program. I am so glad that it's over with. I'm the one that writes the program and is in charge of the whole thing so it's been somewhat of a stress the last couple of weeks. I knew it would turn out great because it's always everyone's favorite Sacrament Meeting, but I still wanted it to be "the best ever" or something. I was a bit worried because none of our practices went even remotely well. We have 10 Sunbeams and only 2 of them are girls. But, one of those girls is developmentally way behind and a real problem. There's another boy who has some major behavioral problems and then the other 7 boys are just 4 year old boys so it's always difficult to get them to sit still and obey. Of course, one of those boys is Britton which makes it even harder for me to be in charge when I'm trying to chase him around and get him to sit still. Combine that with two singing leaders who haven't quite gotten the hang of things and a handful of teachers who think it's optional if they even show up, and I was more than a bit worried about the whole thing. But, the kids came through big time and it turned out great. Britton even did his part and it was adorable. The kids sang so well and very loud. It gave me chills several different times and almost brought me to tears near the end. So, I guess there was nothing to be worried about after all.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Potty Training

Haley is almost officially potty trained. It's hard for me to actually say that because I haven't actually done anything. About two weeks ago I bought her a little stool and a seat to go on the toilet then I just started dressing her in underwear and she has seriously done the rest. I don't think that's typical by any means, but she is so independent that that's what worked for her. She had to do it all on her own. And I'm still amazed every time that she just goes in there on her own and goes. I forget that she's not wearing diapers since I don't really have to do anything. That's so opposite from Britton who still likes me to help him half of the time. There have still been a couple accidents to clean up, but it hasn't been bad at all. I guess having an ultra-independent child has some advantages.

Weekly Random Question

What are some of your favorite smells?

*lavender
*rain
*baking brownies

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Movie Review--The Santa Clause 3

Yesterday afternoon, we took our kids to a matinee to see The Santa Clause 3. Other than Haley being squirmy the entire time, it was really fun. The movie was very cute and perfect for kids. The plot was a quite predictable, but it was still entertaining and fun to watch. I never saw The Santa Clause 2, so there were a few things that I didn't really know about, but it's not like you can't catch on and enjoy the show. But, it does make me want to go back and see the second one. It's definitely not a movie I would have gone to if I didn't have kids, but it was a fun family activity.
I probably wouldn't recommend it for kids under 4, however, since I spent most of the movie wrestling with Haley. It wasn't the type of movie to really hold her attention, but she did really like parts of it. But, then again, there aren't any movies that hold Haley's attention for that long, especially in a theater when it's so much fun to play on the chairs and climb up the stairs and run up and down the ramp.

Bug Fun!




This week for preschool, it was "I" week. So we did a bunch of stuff about insects (one of my favorite topics). We had so much fun making bugs that I thought I needed to take a few pictures.

Karate!




We signed up Britton for an introductory special at a local Karate school. He has talked about karate for a long time now, so we decided to see how he would do. So, he got to do 2 one-on-one lessons. Wednesday was his last one. He did really well and really loved it. He was a bit shy at first, but then warmed up to his instructor by the end. Wednesday he got his white belt and got to break a board. He was so excited after he broke it. It was really fun to watch him.
We ended up enrolling him for one of the classes. He's really excited. And so am I. I think it will teach him a lot of good things like focus, discipline, respect, etc. This particular place seems really good for young kids too because they have a lot of skills tests where they can get a stripe for their belt. And they do a lot to just build their confidence all around. Their 3 rules are: 1) obey your parents, 2) keep your room clean, and 3) no fighting or hitting. What parent wouldn't love those rules?