Posts Tagged ‘Parenting’

I see it’s been awhile since I blogged, so it’s time for an update.

Grace and I are thoroughly enjoying the summer.  We took a much needed vacation to see my family.  Grace had tons of fun with her cousins, aunts and uncles.  It was nice to just relax and take some time off from our busy schedule.

Grace finished her 1st year of pre-school and is busy reading and working on “projects” this summer.  So far, she’s been painting, has started using the sewing machine (under close supervision), drawing, and has even started a latch hook rug kit of Fozzy bear.  Of course, she hooks about 5 pieces of yarn for about every 25 that I hook, but it’s still fun to work on it together.

She’s at such a fun age and is sooooooo independent.  The other day when she wanted to paint, she got out her items to paint, her paint, brushes and a cup of water all by herself.  All I had to do was spread out the newspaper and help her put on her smock.

I’m loving my summer schedule, I teach all day on Tuesdays, and then half day on Wednesday and Thursday.  It’s sooooooo nice.  We’ve been going swimming on Monday mornings until about lunch time and then relaxing in the afternoons, either working on projects or watching a movie together.  I try to run all of my errands on Wednesday or Thursday afternoon after teaching and then we do something fun on Friday.  Last Friday, we took a road trip for the day.

Grace is still taking piano lessons and is doing fantastic.  I’m so proud of her.  This September will be 1 year of piano lessons and she’ll have finished the 1st 3 books in the “Music for Little Mozart’s” series from Alfred.

We have her little pool set up in the backyard and almost every afternoon, she goes out there to splash and I soak my feet in the pool while we eat an ice cream sandwich together.

I’ve been able to get a lot of projects done already this summer with my lighter teaching schedule.  I was able to stain her swing set before it got too hot out and I have a few small pieces of furniture to paint in the next couple of weeks.   I even sorted through her school uniforms today to see what can be used again this fall and made a list of the items I need for her before school starts.

I’ve officially lost all of my baby weight, but I may try for a couple more pounds, just so I have a cushion in case there’s a birthday or holiday where I put on a couple of LBS.  Then I won’t have to worry too much about being over my goal.

I’ve started taking violin lessons and I LOVE it!  My teacher is a friend of mine and she’s sooooooo good about giving me a lesson when I’m ready for one.  I just call her up when I’m ready for a lesson so that I have plenty of time to practice in between.  I’ve already started on a Christmas song, and I’m hoping that by Christmas, I’ll be brave enough to play in public…..we’ll see how it goes.

I hope that you’re taking time to enjoy your summer, your family and your friends.  Work and your to do list will always be there, but your family and friends are what’s important, so make a lot of fabulous memories this summer.


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Everyone wants to be a good parent, right?  But how many really think they are?  How many single parents really think they’re doing a good job at parenting?

I’m always looking for ways to be a better mom to Grace.  Twice in the last few weeks I’ve heard “Beth, you’re such a great mom.” from friends of mine.  When I hear that, my brain kinda goes “huh?” Don’t get me wrong,  It’s not that I think I’m a bad parent, but do I think I’m a really good parent?

I always feel guilty that I don’t have as much time to spend with Grace as I’d like to.  I feel guilty because I don’t do as many activities with her as I’d like to.  Here are some of the things we do together:

*Walk the dog.  I really like this one because not only do we get to spend time together, but I get in some much needed exercise.

*Go to lunch together.  This is so much fun.  Grace picks the place and we have a great time just eating lunch together.

*Play games.  She loves activity books and games.  Last week at dinner, I got out some addition flash cards and told her it was a “mystery game” and that we had to use the clues to figure out the answers.  We used a box of colored pencils to help us with the clues.  So if the card said 8+3, she counted out 8 colored pencils and then counted out 3 more and then counted all of them together.  She LOVED this “game”

*Bake together.  Grace is an EXPERT egg cracker.  Whenever we make something, she gets to crack the eggs.  She loves stirring and pouring things in, plus it’s just tons of fun to bake together.

*Watch a movie.  I’m not a big TV person, but once in awhile, Grace and I will get ready for bed and snuggle up to watch a movie before going to sleep.  She loves it when I’m doing nothing else but rubbing her back and paying attention to her.

Good parenting isn’t just the things you do together, but it’s also how you handle situations the require discipline.

I have to tell you that this stage is the best one yet.  I didn’t think I’d make it through the twos.  The threes were rough, but MUCH better than the twos.  The fours are just so much fun.  I’m finding that with each stage, I have less discipline to take care of.  I think it’s because I had to do SO much work during the twos stage, it’s starting to pay off.

I think one of the biggest things were working on right now is her attitude.  Grace can get a bad attitude in a split second.  I told her yesterday that she had to the count of three to change her attitude or she’d have to go to her room…..amazing, the attitude changed.

A few months ago, her room was becoming unbearable.  I was cleaning it at least three times a day.  I know she’s still little, but I told her that she had to start keeping her room clean, so we made a “clean room chart”  that had the days of the week on it and a spot for a sticker by each day.  I told her that if her room was clean at night before she went to bed, she’d get a sticker for the day and then once she had 7 stickers, I’d take her to Kid’s Fun Center.  (It’s a kids dream come true.  Lots of slides, trampolines, ball pits, climbing stuff.  Basically an indoor playland.)   Well guess what?  The girl who couldn’t keep her room clean had it cleaned up every night for 7 nights THE FIRST WEEK we used the chart!!!!  She still keeps it much cleaner than it was before we implemented the chart.  Now instead of cleaning it 3-4 times a day, I only have to do a once a week clean up in there to really straighten everything up.  Other than that, she keeps it clean 🙂

The other thing I’m working on diligently this year is not yelling.  I began to see that yelling is a vicious cycle.  You child pushes you until you yell at them, then they react.  Pretty soon, they only act when you yell at them, and beside that, it’s just not worth it to get all riled up and get your child upset too.  So, I’m trying very hard to be patient, take a deep breath, and make things fun instead of a battle.  The other day, she was really, really pushing me.  I asked her to do something and she was being very sassy.  I asked her again and again, she was sassy.  I looked at her and said in a calm voice “Grace, you are making mommy very angry right now.  I’ve asked you to put your jacket away. You’re not doing it and you’re being sassy about it.  I’m about to yell at you and I don’t want to, so please go put your jacket away.”  She just looked at me and said “oh, ok Mama, I’ll go do it.”  And she did!  It made me very happy that I maintained my calm, and that she didn’t want to make me angry, didn’t want me to yell, so she obeyed.  Those moments are priceless.

Parenting to me is a constant analyzing process.  I’m constantly analyzing her behavior.  What is it that we need to work on?  I don’t expect her to be perfect or to work on it all at one time, but I also know my child isn’t a complete angel.  She has areas that she needs to work on.  I also analyze how to work on her behavior.  What worked or didn’t work in the past?  What can we do differently so that I’m not using the same methods over and over?  Grace loves rewards.  Whether it’s a day at Kid’s Fun Center, a dollar, picking where we get to eat lunch, choosing an inexpensive item when we go to the store, she just loves rewards.

Honestly, I see her behavior improve the most when I take time out of my schedule and we spend time together.  I think that sometimes she gets sassy or acts up because what she really wants is my attention, she wants to spend time together.

I also pray and ask God to show me how to be a better parent.  I ask Him for wisdom, ideas, solutions.  He is the Master when it comes to parenting, who better is there to ask for parenting advice from?

So, if your child pushes you to the limit, or acts up…..don’t worry, you’re not alone.  Being a single parent is tough stuff, but with a little creativity, analyzing, prayer, and patience, you can do it.

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Well, 2010 is off to a good start so far.  Here’s what’s happening around here……

I’m as busy as ever teaching piano lessons, cleaning out closets (and selling what I’m getting rid of on ebay 🙂

Grace is doing FANTASTIC in preschool this year and in piano lessons.  She LOVES piano lessons, and picks up on it quickly which is a real relief for me.  (We’re using the “Music for Little Mozart’s” series from Alfred’s and she’s just moving right along!)

I’m about to add to my lengthy to do list…….drum roll please……..

I’m going to take Violin lessons!!!  I told the teacher that I can only do a lesson every other week so that I actually have TIME to practice.  I’m not exactly sure HOW or WHERE that’s going to fit into our schedule, but I really want to learn to play another instrument.

As of this morning I have 9 LBS left to go…..I can hardly believe it!  It seems like I’ve been trying to lose this baby weight FOREVER.  I’ve only been working on it seriously for the last year and a half and the end is in sight!!!

We’ve added taking a walk on Saturday mornings to our routine and we’re having a lot of fun with it.  I don’t like to exercise, but I always tell myself that a little bit of exercise is better than none!

On a side note, I bought a label maker a few weeks ago, and Grace just LOVES it.  She wants a label maker of her own and only told me that like 300 times last Saturday, so I told her that I will buy her a label maker of her own when she can spell 100 words that are 4 letters long or longer 😉

She is so strong willed that she’s taking me up on the challenge!  She has to come up with 92 more words she can spell and the label maker is hers.  This is what happens when you speak before you think about the fact that you’re sending your child to a preschool where they work on the sounds of letters…You end up buying a label maker……..she amazes me.  Here is her list so far:

*Plane (She spelled plan and I told her if she added an “e” it would be plane, so she said, “OK, I’ll add an “e” and she spelled it again with an “e” on the end!)

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This morning, I woke up and my eyes were VERY tired.  By noon, it was a full fledged headache.  After Grace and I had lunch, we laid down for a nap so I could get rid of this headache before teaching piano lessons this evening. 

When I woke up, I felt a lot better, and I thought back to just a few months ago when I would have a bad headache at work, push myself through the day, and still have 2 hours of piano lessons and Grace to take care of when I got home. 

I said a prayer to thank God for His blessing in my life to allow me to stay home with Grace the majority of the day, and just have to leave for a few hours each day to teach piano lessons.  I am very grateful that I was able to take a nap today and sleep off my headache instead of pushing myself like I used to have to do.  I thanked God for giving me the strength to make it through each very long day that I’ve had for the last 2  1/2 years while working on this goal of being a full time mom and piano teacher. 

So even though I don’t like to have headaches, today I am thankful that I was able to take a nap to get rid of it instead of making myself more sick by pushing myself to do things on my “to do” list and not resting like body is telling me to do.

I don’t like to take medicine if I don’t have to, so here are a few things I do to get rid of headaches:

  • Soak in a hot bubble bath
  • Drink coffee (I only drink coffee once or twice a year, so when I have a headache, it’s pretty effective for me.)
  • Get Fresh Air
  • Go to the Chiropractor
  • Get a massage (if it’s REALLY bad, and I have the money for it.)
  • Go to sleep early
  • Take a nap
  • Use an ice pack
  • Heat up an aroma therapy bag
  • Cut cold cuccumber circles and put them on your eyes to help them relax

“In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”  I Thes 5:18

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There are days that I feel like my 2 year old has got some major behavior issues to work on and then I turn on Supernanny or Nanny 9-1-1 and I decide she’s pretty good after all.

I found a book at a local thrift store by Supernanny Jo Frost.  “How to Get the Best From Your Children” and I was excited to read it.  Those nannies always work wonders on the show, so I bought it.

The first thing I was happy about is that I already do 80% of the things suggested in the book!  Yea, so I’m off to a good start.

A few things I learned by reading this book:

  • Don’t say “If” to your child, say “when”  i.e. “When you put your shoes on” (not if you put your shoes on.) We will go to the park.  If gives them an option.  I liked this tip, so I tried it out right away, and Jojo is right……it works like a charm.
  • Use the “Voice of Authority”  I’ve made it a goal this month not to yell at Grace.  As patient as I am, I will admit, there are days when I lose it and start yelling.  I know this isn’t constructive, but sometimes it happens.  Jojo says to avoid yelling, go over to your child, bend down so that you’re not towering over her, look her in the eye, hold her arm and explain in an authoritative voice (no yelling, or gritting teeth) what you want your child to do.  Again, I loved this tip, so I put it to practice right away.  This takes care of situations 90% of the time…..Thanks Jojo!
  • Instead of “time outs” Jojo uses the “naughty step” or the “naughty chair”  it’s the same as a time out, but she says that there’s nothing wrong with a child knowing that what they did was “naughty”  I never really thought about this.  It’s not that you constantly want to tell your child that they are being naughty, but I don’t think it hurts to let them know once in awhile that what they did was naughty and that’s why they are taking a time out.

She gives tips on everything from potty training to picky eaters, getting your child to stay in bed, getting dressed, TV, whining, discipline and boundaries.

Again, I was glad that I already to lots of things suggested in the book like the “Involvement Technique” where you involve your child in whatever you’re doing, cooking, shopping, cleaning, etc. and I picked up several good tips for a few things that I was at a loss for.  So all in all, I was pleased with this book.

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Grace is working on potty training. 

Everyone has their own thoughts on potty training.  I’ve had people tell me that as soon as she turned 2 we should have started on potty training.  I’ve had people say, just wait, when she’s ready, you’ll know. 

I’ve had people say that they trained their child as soon as they could because diapers are “so expensive.”  (compared the the $200 a month I used to spend on formula ALONE, $30 a month for diapers is NOTHING.)

I’ve had friends tell me that they had to strongly discipline their child to get them to stop having accidents or make them go on the potty. (Good grief….is it really worth that?)

So here is what has worked for Grace and I.  First of all, I bought a little potty for her, shortly after she turned 2, when she would wake up in the morning, I’d take her diaper off and have her sit on the potty.  For the first 4 months, she did NOTHING in the potty, but she was at least getting the idea.  We’d also do this before bath time at night….. and then one night, she did it!  “We’re almost there I thought.”  Yeah, right…….this girl is strong willed.  It was several weeks before she did anything in the potty again, but I still had her sit on it just twice a day to help her get the idea.  We also talked about going on the potty a lot, and about how that’s what big girls do.

I bought her “big girl” underwear and she wore it over her diapers……..then we started staying home on Saturday evenings and Grace would wear her underware with NO diapers on and I’d pull her little potty out into the hallway by the bathroom, and she would go several times in the few hours she wore her underware.  After a few weeks of this, we tried for all day one Saturday, and even went to lunch at a restaurant with NO DIAPER, just underware on, and there were NO ACCIDENTS!  “We’re getting there!” I thought to myself, now if I could just get her to do this every day……

I have a box of prizes that I use for my piano students and Grace always wants to pick a prize, and I’d always tell her “No, those are for the piano kids.”  Then, I decided that since it’s something forbidden, it just might motivate her, so I started telling her that if she’d go potty, she could pick out of the prize box, so on the days when she would wear her underware around the house, if she went on the potty she got a prize from the prize box.  It worked like a charm!

One day, I decided that I was tired of “talking” about going on the potty and wearing big girl underware and that it was just time to start doing it, so I sent her to daycare in underware, she had two accidents each day for the first two days and after that, no accidents.  The first week, she wore her diaper to nap and bed, just underware when she was awake.  After a week of wearing underware, we tried nap time with underware and in a week she only had ONE accident!  So the next week, we tried going through the night in underware, just TWO nightime accidents that week, and for the last two weeks, we have been ACCIDENT FREE!

Starting this week, Grace only gets a prize from the prize box if she poops in the potty (because that is a struggle for her.)  But the prize box is still motivating her and she is even acting more like a big girl, walking through stores and staying right with me instead of riding in the cart.  Saying “bye mom” when I leave for work rather than screaming and crying and asking for “just one more hug”

So there we have it.  A transitional and patient approach to potty training.  No tears, no running to the bathroom constantly, no frustrations, no pressure, one very happy mom, and one very happy big girl (when she picks out her prize : ) )

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I personally don’t like to watch TV very often and prefer to read and stay busy with projects.  I try to keep Grace busy with educational toys, books, playdough, playing outside, and being a helper around the house (her new responsibility is to help clear the table after dinner.  She puts things in the laundry and puts away ketchup, salt and pepper, etc.) but, she is still a toddler, so she does watch DVD’s once in awhile.  Here is her list of favorites:


  • Finding Nemo
  • Jonah: A Veggietales Movie
  • ANY Veggietales DVD’s
  • Madeline
  • Christmas cartoons
  • Gerbert
  • Charlotte’s Web (the old one)
  • Jo Jo’s Circus
  • The Wiggles


  • Do Princesses Scrape Their Knees?
  • A Very Lazy Ladybug
  • Goodnight Moon
  • Guess How Much I Love You
  • The Story of Three Trees
  • Any Blues Clues Books

She also has lots of board books about different holidays, lots of lift the flap books, and touch and feel books.  I like to rotate her books so that during the Christmas season, she has Christmas books out, during Easter she has Easter books out and just general books out during the rest of the year.

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