Tuesday, March 30, 2010

SAHM Struggle: Mentally Draining

I had employee orientation this morning for a *very* part-time job at a local community college. When I got up this morning, I immediately made coffee (of course) and knocked off a glass dish I scrubbed clean last night. It hit the sink and splintered everywhere. I cut my hand, but not like last time. In fact, the dish is still in the sink because I am fearful of cleaning it up, which is totally out of character for me. My orientation ran an hour over so I was in a hurry to get to the sitters, and when I picked up the kids, they didn't want to leave because they were outside playing. They did not want to leave, so I promised them we would return outside when we got home.

Ty immediately took off his shoes and within minutes, had a "foot ouchie." Poor man had a splinter. This sounds really lame, but I was so nervous to remove it from his little foot. Then I felt even more lame that I was mentally preparing myself the way I was. The splinters of the day were making me jumpy.

I got everything ready and of course he cried and kicked. I hated hurting him and remembered all the times my mom removed splinters for me. That got me to thinking that I should have given him more of a pep talk about what I was going to do and then I worried he didn't understand. Sometimes little kids don't understand and I should have helped him more.

Today is almost over though. The hubby said he would help me clean up the glass and Ty seems to have forgotten the ouchie. I am going to watch a television show with my hubby and we are going to bed early (aka: before midnight). Tomorrow will not be such a draining day.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Youth Television Messages

As I sit and reflect upon the day, I wonder about the television my kids watch. Ty's favorite show is "Mickey Mouse." My hubby and I like this show, sing the songs, and dance the hot dog dance with Ty. I know he learns more than the standard information from it and I wonder, what does "Mickey Mouse" teach him?

I like "Mickey Mouse." It isn't annoying like other kiddie television shows and it has important lessons. It works with letters and numbers. It also has nice music which is great for vocabulary development. My husband and I talk to Ty about what he sees.

The characters aren't bad either. Donald is the young grump, Goofy is the original funny guy, Pluto is the loyal companion, and of course Mickey is Mr. Popular and the leader of it all. Minnie and Daisy wear high heels and bows. Yep. They giggle too. Yep. I can't think of any distinguishing characteristics those female characters have. Can anyone think of the type of characters these two ladies are, creative or specific? I can't. This led to me wondering...

What do Disney writers think? That it is fine to form well-developed male characters but not to distribute to females any defining, specific, or wonderful characteristics? I wonder why their male counterparts are so interesting. I wonder why the writers did this. Was it intentional? (If it was unintentional, I wonder about Disney, which doesn't sound realistic to me. That business seems to know what is going on). Donald walks around, offensive and grumpy. Goofy has smelly feet and a poor diet. Minnie and Daisy? They are pretty unoffensive. They don't even need to offend--they just need personalities.

I wonder what my little boy thinks of this. Does he think that it is fine for girls not to have defining personality traits? Does he think that all females should be cute cookie-cutters with pretty outfits, bows, and high heels? If he doesn't, will he?

And worse (maybe just as bad, I don't know which is worse), I wonder if my little girl thinks she is supposed to be very standard, very run of the mill, very middle of the road, with nothing to distinguish herself from other females, aside from the color of bow she wears? I wonder if she will think that her darling personality is too bold, too boisterous, or too silly.

Just wondering.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

SAHM Triumph: Snuggles

Ty loves to say, "sit on the couch and snuggle wif me." This breaks my heart and well, I always do it.
I adore snuggling my babies, even though they are not tiny anymore. I know the day will come when they want to run the neighborhood, or sulk in their rooms, or drive their cars, or sit in a dorm room and snuggle with someone else.

Sometimes I get down on myself because I am not doing laundry, unloading the dishwasher, sweeping the floor, or the other million mom-tasks.

Sometimes, though, the kids need love in the form of snuggles. I think Ty says that because I tell my kids that when they are tiny, "let's snuggle together." He's heard me say it many times. I think that part (not all) of raising well-rounded kids is teaching them they are loved. So, although snuggling is one of my favorite mom duties, it is an important one. That is why petting my kids' hair and snuggling them on the couch is my SAHM triumph of the day.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Educational Theory of the Week: Brain-Based Learning Principle 12

This is it for brain based learning. While I think it is incredibly fun and honestly tied to life, the ideas of it are difficult. The "brain" is, well, difficult and complex. Talking about brain-based learning barely chisels away the slightest bit of it. (Be sure you comment down at the bottom if you have any requests for next Monday!)

Here is the twelve and last concept:

Each brain is unique.

This summarizes what all parents and teachers know. Children learn best when they have environments that are personalized. Everyone's experiences shape who he or she is and everyone feels comfortable learning in a unique way.

Parents do a good job of "knowing" their kids and therefore teaching them well. The sticky part is when they get into school. Too much (for an assortment amount of reasons, too many to account here) of education does not take the unique brain into account. This is why parents must advocate for their children and help them at home.

And there they are--all twelve brain based learning core principles. Enjoy your Monday, and please drop a comment with ideas for our new learning theories/practices. Possibilities: Bloom's Taxonomy, cooperative learning, or technology. Inclusion? Our world influences education and almost everything has a "name" so I'll listen to my blog readers ideas! Let me know and thanks!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

SAHM Struggle: Balancing!

As my dedicated readers can see from lack of posting this week, work and my kids kept me busy this week. I struggle with posting this because I don't want to sound bratty. This is a recurring struggle in my SAHM world and it isn't getting better.

When I started working at home, I knew that it would be hard. The kids want something, I lose my train of thought, Za unplugs the computer, the dog pukes everywhere, Ty wants more TV. I refuse to let the TV babysit my kids, so of course, I help him. I cleanup the dog puke. I plug the computer back in. I do puzzles and read stories. I love it. I enjoy being with my kids. That is my mommy job and I am so lucky to have it.

I do need to get a little bit of work done though. Just a little, just for that extra bit of money and for a bit of adult interaction for my sanity.

I don't miss deadlines and I think (and hope) my clients are happy. I succeed in mommy-ing and writing. Is this the balance? Is there any other balance, or is this just it? I feel like I am going to lose it, but I don't?

And despite my hand wringing and setbacks, I do get my work done. I just wish it wasn't at one in the morning. That seems to be my time where I can work and get it all done. Of course, that has drawbacks. I'm tired and my head hurts.

So, I'm torn with this balancing act. Any advice? This SAHM is tired, has a headache, pleased clients, and happy kiddies. Something tells me though that I still need balancing advice.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Educational Theory of the Week: Brain-Based Learning, Core Principle 11

The eleventh and second to last brain based learning principle is:

Learning is enhanced by challenge and inhibited by threat.

(Obviously). The patient teacher or friend who helped you figure out the tough math question, your fingers on the piano, or bike riding not only knew what to teach, but how to teach. This educational theory is easy to apply whiles teaching our kids, because we love them and are so darn cute. Does your patience diminish as they get older? I know my patience sometimes does, but I always try (and sure, I fail sometimes) to regain my patience.


The example that immediately
came to me was of course, potty-training because we just finished that. (It is over and Ty is trained, yay). It took a long time, lots of tears, and plenty of patience from the teacher. How? Why? Well, I hate messes. Especially messy messes. But potty-training isn't about me, it was about Ty. So even though the downstairs bathroom was sanitized more in six months than it had been in the previous 4 years we've lived here, being patient was best. Looking back, our worst days were the days when Ty probably felt threatened by my impatience or frustrations. Instead of thinking about what to do or how to solve his problems, he was worried about my reactions.

This is such a fine line, one I think about. How do we challenge our kids without threatening them, or pushing too much?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Before You Quit Your Job...

This has been my first week posting daily and I'm pretty happy with how it is going. I've knocked the educational theories down to Monday only so that we can start off the week with one and work it really well for a full week. I'm going to continue chronicling my SAHM adventures because:

  1. They really are adventures. My kids wear me out!
  2. I want to look back at all of this and smile and if I don't record it as I go, I'll forget and just never get around to it.
  3. I want to relate to other moms and dads who stay home. Parenting, while working or staying home, can be really alienating. I think that blogging and all Internet connections provide support for those doing this difficult job of parenting!
Anyway, back to finances for this Friday-I guess I'm sort of digging the alliteration with this week. Today was inspired by a discussion I had with a friend I'll call Janice. It was funny because as I continued with my daily posts, I was stuck with what to do for Friday. After I got off the phone, finances made sense. What person who quits his or her job doesn't worry about money? My hubby and I did and still do.

Janice called and wanted to know what financial considerations my family took before I quit my job as a teacher to be a SAHM. I really wish I could have told her we had money stocked away and sold our second car before I quit. That is not the case. Here (from an English teacher, not someone with any sort of a degree or background in finances) are a few ideas.

As I prepared to quit my job, I did prepare my finances. 

  1. The hubby and I got rid of our piddly credit cards. All the store cards and "back up" cards-we eliminated. Gone. Anytime I thought about putting a shirt on a credit card, I looked at my babies and put the shirt back on the rack. 
  2. We traded in our gas guzzler for a smaller, used car. Our payment went down, and our gas bill did too.
  3. We modified our food bills. Groceries--fresh food and less canned and eating out--gone.

In Hindsight
Sure, we really tried, but if I could do it again, I would try to pinch a few more dollars.

  1. Eating out. I know this contradicts the previous list. We did cut out eating out, but not totally. We did as a family, but with friends or coworkers, not so much. Especially at the end of my school year, everyone wanted to "have lunch one more time." Think about it: going out to eat for one person is a minimum of $7, and that's if you go to Subway. $7 for an unemployed person (which I am now) is good money.
  2. Coupons/deal hunting. Now I have no problem searching for the best place for an oil change. Before, I don't remember what I did. I just wasn't used to looking for deals. I would have started that practice beforehand. 
  3. Looking for small jobs. I write on the side and substitute teach as well. Getting into these gigs took some time. I would have done all that paperwork and searching before so I was ready to go when I quit.
Any other tips for those thinking of becoming a SAHM? 

Wonder Why Wednesday: Singing in the...

I sing and hum to my children, often like most parents. I am a bad singer, but they really like it, among other things I do for them. Music and my singing calms them. None of their family members have musical inclinations, so they will probably have a strong musical intelligence. Nonetheless, we do lots of singing.

Why do kids like singing so much? They learn when singing-the alphabet, rhyming, numbers, and animal sounds-but it goes beyond the facts that have been put to words. Tonight when my hubby ran in the store to grab something, I was left alone with two tired children and so I naturally sang to them, which calmed them. I've made long drives and sang to soothe crying babies until my throat hurt. So I know kids like singing, but why?

The entire brain is engaged and stimulated when singing, according to this
interesting article. Chicago Children's Museum also provides these facts:
  • Singing with a recording is not as productive as singing with another person.
  • Singing enhances language learning.
  • Singing stimulates both new learning and memory. 
So, is it a fair assessment that my kids are happy because they are learning? They receive gratification because they are communicating? Maybe they are happy because mom is silly. Maybe they are happy because of the tone of my voice. Maybe, my singing makes them happy for all these reasons. 

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

As A Mom, Not Sleeping

Hello 5:30, am. I wish you weren't here. More importantly, I wish you were here but I didn't know about you, which would translate to me being asleep.

Of course, I'm not because Za did not sleep well last night and fussed most of the night and wanted to nurse most of the night which is fine but she wouldn't sleep and nurse, which leads me to wonder if this is really going to be a more common occurrence. I wonder why she cannot sleep and nurse at the same time, which she normally excels at. I wonder if I'm being too tough on her because she is probably going through a growth spurt, teething, or something else that one year olds do. Then I wonder if I am being a softy and should put her in her bed and pat her to sleep. That translates to me getting less sleep than normally, so I don't do that, but I still wonder if I should.

I wonder how I'm going to do today because I actually have to work - outside the home. I wonder if I'll be grouchy or if I'll manage. I have no other choice but to manage, but I wonder if I'll do it well. Probably not.

And, here comes the sun. I wonder if I can get another hour of sleep before the kids are up for good.

Monday, March 8, 2010

SAHM Triumph: What Noon Mommy Knows

Sometimes when I am doing my SAHM gig, I get mad at myself because I think I could have done all the stuff I do now and the stuff I did then. Scrubbing the little insides of the sippy-cups and all their hidden crevices, well, while necessary, isn't what I (or really anyone) finds fun. The thing is, when I worked full time, we never knew where sippy-cups were. The car? Under beds? Someone's house? We always had the flimsy ones and when they got gross, we tossed them. I know that's bad for the environment and my wallet and I hated that practice. Now we have sturdy cups that I can't easily toss so I have to scrub them.

The triumph, other than the environment help and saving money, is that I have time to clean these sippy-cups. I also clean them as I clean the counters and don't procrastinate as the tired working me did. SAHM knows that when Ty marches into her room at 3:00 am and pokes my forehead with his bony finger and says "want milk" she will be really tired. So...

Noon Mommy knows that when she is loading the dishwasher, she should take apart the sippy-cup because Three-o'clock in the Morning Mommy may not and because I have the time to wash sippy-cups, that is my SAHM triumph of the day.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Educational Theory of the Week: Brain-Based Learning, Core Principle 10

Thank you for brain based learning theory number 10 (one of my favorites, dorky that I have favorite, I know): 

We understand best when facts are embedded in natural, spatial memory.

Yes, yes we do. How many of us utilized our rote memory for a test, using flash card after flash card? I did. I can't remember a darn term from my high school anatomy class but I sure can wire an electrical outlet because I practice on a real outlet. I was taught to do that naturally where the terms did not seem funny or out of place. Natural is best when it comes to learning. 


This can go two ways: positive and negative. I've flipped out at the dog several times only to see my son staring at me and learning, "the dog pukes up wood chips, this must be how we respond." I think we've all done that (and regretted it and felt guilty and so on). But yes, children do learn facts, where that is how to react or how to greet or how to apologize to someone from our natural environment. Hopefully, it is more positive than negative. 

As far as teaching "facts" such as ABCs, numbers and later, reading and adding and then still later, grammar and algebra, people do remember and learn better when their natural and spatial memory is tapped. How do we do this? Well, it goes along with the cliche of "a life long learner." I always believe parents do not need fanciness to teach, but merely common sense every day activities. For instance, Ty "helps" me cook. This normally involves him dumping a cup or sugar or a teaspoon of salt into a bowl. But what else can he learn in this natural environment?

  • Before we start, he washes his hands, which teaches him about science, health and germs. It requires about a 2 sentence explanation for me. Lately, he's questioned where the water goes, so I'm sure we are going to continue learning as we (very simply) wash our hands. 
  • He watches me read the recipe, which I read to him, which teaches him letters and numbers.
  • He sees me double check my measurements. Hopefully, he can take this learning and apply it to double checking his homework or his book bag for school.
  • He realizes patience is required. Getting all the ingredients out, showing him that the product is not immediately finished and that we must clean up our mess is an important lesson. Food doesn't just POOF appear, just like learning and so many other processes in life don't. We must wait and be patient. 

How have you engaged your child's quest to be a life long learner, or taught facts in a natural way?