Sunday, September 18, 2016

How to Teach Your Child to Not Interrupt

We've all experienced being in a heavy conversation only to be interrupted by a demanding child. That child is your responsibility and you must tend to his every need. Shouldn't you see what he wants? Maybe something terrible has happened. Besides, the more you ignore him the louder he gets so you have to find out what your precious son is carrying on about. His well-being is the most important thing in the world to you, right?

Well..... your response to The Interrupter depends on your parenting style. You'll either respond reactively by stopping your conversation to answer him, or you'll think proactively by remembering that your response today will determine how he approaches you next time.

The Interrupter will never learn on his own how to get your attention properly and respectfully. He must be taught. That is why clearly stating the rules ahead of time, such as before you meet up with friends, will give you the leverage to teach self-controlled behavior.

You say to little Alice, "Sweetie, Mama is going to talk with Mrs. 
Jones for a little while and you must play quietly. If you need something then you give me a signal or quietly wait until there is a pause in our conversation and I can stop and see what you need. Only interrupt when someone is hurt."

When Alice comes up to you, loudly demanding your attention, you lift up your forefinger in the "one moment" position, and finish your sentence. Don't even give her eye contact. Don't tell her to wait. Your signal should be enough. She should wait next to you quietly. Then when the time is right you can bend down, praise her for waiting so quietly, and then tend to her need.  

If she breaks the rule and continues to carry on, then excuse yourself and take Alice aside to be reminded again of the rule. If a time out is necessary then give her a time out, telling her to think about that rule and how she should behave next time. After a couple minutes, ask, "What did you think about?' She must recite the rule and how she should behave before she is allowed to get up from time out. Go back to your conversation and have her wait again for just a short while, to ask her your question. She'll learn!

Proactive parenting is hard work but so worth the effort! You'll raise well-mannered adults who will do the same with their children. Remember you are training future generations! Don't expect schools to do it. Don't expect your church to do it. Don't expect grandparents to do it. Don't expect neighbors or friends to do it. You You You are the one who is to train your own child.

Read more about teaching children respect from an earlier post here.

And now for a fashion tip...
I recently bought a new pair of shoes that turned out to bother my heels. Easy peasy solution - I cut out a piece of fabric from an old fuzzy sock and placed it inside the shoe. Ahhhh. So much better!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Bringing Up Bebe Book Review

Lots of young families are reading Bringing Up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman. My own daughter, who is about to give birth in a week, has read it and spoke highly of it. I decided to read it myself and offer a review.

Pamela Druckerman is an American journalist, married with 3 children, living in Paris. She began to notice how different French children were than her own kids. When she and her hubby were in a French restaurant, wanting to enjoy its gourmet food, they found themselves gobbling it down to get out of there because their daughter was carrying on, making a mess, complaining loudly about the taste. As they dashed out the door, she noticed the French children sitting quietly with their parents, eating the strange mix of vegetables and French flavors.

Next, she learned French babies sleep through night practically from the get go. How do they pull THAT off? And when she would take her kids to the playground she noticed French moms dressed to the nines, sitting on the park benches chatting with their friends while she was on her kids' heels supervising their every move.

As a journalist she did an excellent job researching, interviewing, and observing everything she could on the differences in American and French parenting styles. It is a fascinating read. Here are some of her conclusions:
* French parents make use of The Pause with their newborns. They don't rush in to pick up their baby for at least five minutes. Soon the baby learns to settle herself and by four months she is sleeping through the night.
* When the baby is about six months and it's time to introduce solids, French parents don't start with rice cereal. They start with spinach and squash, introducing new flavors each day. When they reach school age, the menu always includes three courses - usually a vegetable starter (such as shredded carrots with vinaigrette dressing), then the main meal (such as pork tenderloin with garlic mashed potatoes), and then a dessert, which is always some kind of fruit. Food is an essential to the culture.
* French parents give their children lots of time to "awaken" or "discover". Children are not pushed into too much stimulation. They don't give their toddlers swimming lessons nor their preschoolers reading lessons. Instead, instruction is limited to mastering the oral language, and opportunities are offered for children to explore and discover.
* French mothers are of the philosophy that children are not going to define them. They quickly get back to their pre-pregnancy weight, dress fashionably so as to still turn their husbands' heads. They enjoy visiting with friends and don't let the children's schedules interfere. Children learn to entertain themselves.

Now here are my thoughts on French parenting. There is so much here that would be very beneficial to implement, such as helping your baby sleep through the night as well as raising eaters who aren't picky. But as far as refraining from over-stimulating young children I would say there needs to be a balance (somewhere between Bringing Up Bebe and Tiger Mother). Children must be supervised on the playground and mothers should not be distracted by long and involved conversations with other moms. And while giving children opportunities to "discover" and "awaken"  are important, I think early education helps keep America on the global scene.

A big piece of parenting is about relationship. At the end of the day we don't want to be tiger mothers who beat perfection into our kids, nor do we want to be so calm and uninvolved that we don't have a relationship with our kids (the author notes that the French are known for being the most unfriendly nation in the world). But somewhere in between we can stimulate our children and make learning fun thereby raising kids who love to communicate and simply enjoy being with their family. With that thought in mind, I highly recommend reading this book.

And now for a refashion...

Here is a new twist on a necklace. It is made from strips cut from old T-shirts.

And here's how I did it...

First cut off the bottom hem, and then cut off several strips, going through both layers at once. 

 I wanted a little green to add to the mix so I did the same with a green T-shirt.

Next I stretched the strips which naturally curled up and became almost string-like.

And now for the fun part. Add beads (I used ones with wide holes so I could get the thick T-strips through).

Put them together and then wrap them with another strip of tee.

And there you have it! I made 2 of them - one with a little green (see above) and this all white one:


Friday, September 2, 2016

Ten Cheap Dates With Your Spouse

You date. You court. You get married. You date some more. Then you have kids.
You're too exhausted to go out, and too poor to pay a babysitter let alone dinner and a movie.
Your spouse needs your undivided attention. You know how critical time together is - time to talk, time to enjoy each other, time to dream.
Here are some ideas to get you going. None of these cost much, but all of them give your marriage the opportunity to become richer as a couple and more united as parents.

1.  A hospital cafeteria has cheap but delicious food. May be an unconventional date spot but you can't beat the price.
2.  When the kids go down to bed, one of you go pick up dessert-to-go at a nearby restaurant and bring it home to eat together.
3. Popcorn, hot-chocolate, and a late-night movie from Netflix.
4. An ongoing Monopoly game. Start it in the evening when the kids are in bed and play until bedtime. Put it up and out of sight until the next available evening to continue. The loser makes cake.
5. A walk, or hike in the woods.

6. After dinner tea. Send the kids into the next room to play quietly after dinner while you and hubby sip tea for 30 minutes to talk about the day.
7. Build a fire outside and roast marshmallows. Bring out the instruments and sing together.
8. Lay down a blanket in the backyard with all the lights turned off. Lay down together and look up. Can you find and name the constellations?
9. Go to a museum, or your town's First Friday art trail.
10. Borrow a couple kayaks and paddle down a local stream.

Send me more suggestions!

And now for a refashioning...

Here is a T-shirt refashioned into a fun stylish shirt:

 First, I cut slits on both sides of the neckline. I used a ruler to measure how far down the slits would go so they would be even on both sides.

Next, I cut out every other strip and then gathered the slits together, securing them with vintage baby buttons from my collection so give it a criss-cross effect.

Here's the whole pic:

Enjoy. Blessings!

Friday, August 19, 2016

What to Do When Mom and Dad are Both Sick

I just had surgery this last week and then an infection and then a reaction to the antibiotics. Yeah. Miserable. There's no other word for it. But the bright side of my personal trial was my dear lovies who attended me. My hubby and daughters made meals, ran errands, rubbed my feet, made me tea. I am truly blessed. It brought me back to a memory of when all four kids were at home and both Steve and I were out for the count.

Now when kids are little little there is no way both parents can be sick. That's all there is to it. One of you has to tend to the babies. I guess you take turns, or call a parent or a friend. But there was one occasion when my kids were between the ages of 12 and 4 and we knew the older ones would look after the younger ones so both Steve and I could be sick at the same time.

When it became apparent that both of us needed to stay in bed that morning we called our four to the bedroom. I said to them, "Both Daddy and I have been up all night and feel lousy. We are both sick and need to stay in bed. You are on your own to do school your own way today. At the end of the day I will be very interested to see what you come up with."

Oh my goodness. What busy beavers they were! I was shocked to discover what they decided to do that day. The four of them sat down and wrote out a script for a movie and then gathered costumes and filmed themselves. And what a hilarious result!

You see, this is a result of proactive parenting. By doing the work ahead of time, laying the groundwork of obedience and discipline, it never entered their minds they could get into mischief. The older ones rose to the occasion. They knew we trusted their judgment. There are times, like getting sick, that you don't expect or plan for, but you have actually prepared kids all along with your consistent routine. And what blessings follow!

And now.... my big reveal.... this is my entry for the 2016 Refashioner's Challenge:
 The challenge was to make something out of old jeans. I created a jacket out of 5 pairs of old jeans.

 I added a lining on the inside to make it comfortable to wear. Although it is a heavy jacket it will be perfect for those frigid days in my chilly classroom!

As you can see it is a sort of raggedy quilt layout.


If you're interested in reading about how I did this click here. Blessings!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Dinnertime Fun and a Refashion Preview

Those of you who have followed me for awhile know that I am an advocate of the Family Dinner. Whatever it takes to be together at dinnertime is worth the sacrifice. The Family Dinner is a time to connect and should be a non-negotiable coveted time of the day's schedule. Working parents should plan ahead to be home at a reasonable hour and meals can be planned ahead to simplify the supper hour into a daily routine.

Dinnertime can be the climax of a family's day. As the kids help put away toys, as older kids finish up homework and help mom (or dad) make dinner, there is anticipation for that special hour. Everyone looks forward to coming together. Here are some ideas to make that time special:

* Take the time to prepare real wholesome food that isn't a pre-prepared fast-food (although there are days when boxed mac-n-cheese is the difference between eating together or not) and involve your kids in the cooking.
* Light a candle, use the china (save paper plates for company), set the table properly (take advantage of the time to teach etiquette!).
* Play a game during dinner (we loved Settlers of Catan and would just put the game board in the middle of the table).
* Bring a current event article to the table or ask everyone to find a fun fact to share to spur conversation.
* Bad Manners Night - this is when all rules are eliminated. The idea is to demonstrate why you need rules! (Warning - this almost always descends to a food fight - yeah, we've done it and it's a blast!)
* Crazy Hat Night - everyone wears a funny hat to dinner.
* Guest Night - the dinner table is a great time to do hospitality. Invite interesting people from your church and community. One of the many people we had over for dinner was a 70 year old woman who had led expeditions to the South Pole. She shared such fascinating stories with us but also expressed amazement that our kids were even interested (we had read many stories of penquins, and the race to the South Pole, etc. and learned a little about Antarctica before we had her over so the kids pumped her with questions.)
* Saying grace before partaking teaches the children gratefulness, patience, and opens the door to further discussion on God.
* Initiate teamwork by insisting the family work together to help with clean up afterwards! 

And now for a peek at what I'm doing for the Refashioner's Challenge...

The Challenge is to make something from old jeans. So I decided to make a jacket. This is the pattern I will use:

And here are the jeans. 

As it turned out, I needed 3 more pairs. So 5 jeans altogether! The 2 above I bought for $5 at the thrift store, but I used 3 old ones laying around the house (2 had been used for painting and one was outgrown).

So here is a sneak peek as to what it will look like. It's still a work in progress. I have until the end of September to submit it for the contest.

In the meantime, I had fun playing around with the waistband of the biggest pair. I cut it off and made a belt for myself!

I glued a daisy lace (cut off from a refashioned gown - see here). And then I sewed a vintage metal button on each daisy.

I just added snaps so it would fit around my waist.

And here it is!


Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Tips on Making Your Home a Refuge

"Ahhh. It's good to be home!" my husband said when he returned home from work.

"Are we going anywhere today?" my son asked. 
"No. Today is a stay-at-home day," I replied.
"Oh good!" he responded.

Does your family like being home? Or are they anxious to get out of there because it's not restful but chaotic? A restful, peaceful, home is a refuge for your family. They will love being home, and coming home, and simply being together when the environment and the tone of its management is positive.

So how do you get there? I'll be honest... it takes effort. The second law of thermodynamics is that "entropy always increases" or in other words, "everything tends to disorder". It's true, isn't it? Have you ever seen a child's room automatically stay clean? But a place that is desirable to live in looks welcoming, inviting, orderly, fun, and most of all is full of love and acceptance.

A home that is a refuge is a home where parenting is proactive. Establishing rules ahead of time on playtime and clean-up will give the boundaries. Planning special events, family times, creative times help make home a fun place to be. If you find yourself always playing catch-up, always after the kids who never seem to listen to clean up their messes, or resigning to clutter as status quo, then you are going about home management reactively.

Here are some tips to get turned around:

 *Begin with a schedule of a typical day. Wake people up about the same time each day, and then plan to go to bed about the same time each day. Avoid letting the kids "graze" for their meals. Instead establish three set meal times and do what you can to eat together. 

* In that set schedule there should be times for chores. We usually had a few regular chores in the morning before school, such as making your bed, gathering laundry, feeding the pets, etc. In the afternoon, however, we tackled bigger chores such as vacuuming, dusting, wiping bathroom, etc. And of course, after supper chores always included washing dishes, sweeping the floor, wiping the table, etc.

* Always leave a sizeable chunk of the day for playing and pretending. You can encourage play with proactively pre-planning what they might choose to do by setting out dress-up clothes, tea sets, building sets, cars and trucks, etc. You don't need to set out all of their toys at once, but something different each day.

* After play time there should be a pick up time. Pick-up time can be fun if you set a timer and see how fast they can do it. Be sure to have them pick up all of their toys every day before dinner so your home looks and feels peaceful for a nice meal together. I didn't want my husband coming home from work each evening having to navigate his way across the room as though he needed to hack his way through a jungle so we tried to do a pick up before he walked in the door.

* Plan fun times together. Dinner time is a great time to do fun things - how about a game? How about a discussion on a current event? How about asking everyone to bring a new fact to share? 

* Let your evenings be family times. Read books, play a game (hide and seek anyone?), take a walk, do devotions, sing together. This of course implies that your outside evening meetings and appointments are kept to a minimum.

* I've always hated the title of "housekeeper" to describe what I do (it's HOMEMAKER, thank you!) but admittedly there is a certain amount of housekeeping that you have to do. I found it much more manageable when I allocated the biggies for each day - so for example I mopped on Mondays, changed bedsheets on Tuesdays, etc. So when a dirty floor was staring at me in the face I could let it go knowing I was getting to it on Monday. I preferred to not leave it all for one day. However you choose to do it you absolutely have to keep up or it gets away from you - it's that entropy thing.

* And really... once your routine is established and your children are trained to help it doesn't take long. And then your home looks nice. And looking nice is key. I know this because I noticed that after I cleaned one room the kids would be in there. Then I would clean the room they vacated and as soon as that was cleaned they'd be in there again. You see, they loved being in cleaned spaces! And my husband does too. So instead of harboring bitterness about it, I served joyfully because in the end they all loved being home.

And now for a refashion...

Who wears slips? I do! But they're hard to find in the store because most women don't bother wearing them anymore. I think slips are necessary when you're wearing thin fabric dresses but so many of my dresses that I've recently updated are shorter than my slip! Have you ever had someone whisper to you, "Your slip is showing!" I never understood why people think a slip showing is not socially acceptable but a bra strap or boob is fine. Hmmm.

Anyway... I refashioned a lacy slip so it would fit better underneath my dresses:

I can't seem to find my "before" pic but all I did was cut off the last seven inches of the slip which included a nice lace trim. So I chopped off the lace that was on the bottom and resewed it back on the slip. In essence I shortened the slip by 4 inches.

Now I can wear my dresses with a slip that fits!

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Calgon and Curtains

"Calgon - take me away!"

I recently texted that to my daughter after a crazy afternoon spent with school kids. She responded, "??" I realized she hadn't seen a Calgon commercial. They go back to the 70s and 80s.

What parent hasn't had a Calgon moment? And yes, a wonderful bubble bath helps to regroup and de-stress.

Proactive parenting requires that you take care of yourself so you have the wherewithal to manage your children. I am so sad when another parent rolls his eyes at the thought of caring for kids: "I can't stand 2 of them, how did you ever manage 4?" or "I'm dreading the summer... what will we do all summer long?"  If you've ever gotten to this point then you are parenting reactively not proactively. Check out my Summer Ideas page here.

Take time out regularly so you are never short with the kids. Go out on dates with your spouse, take regular walks, bubble baths, quiet times for prayer and Bible study, etc. The English have their tea time. The rich have their cocktail hour. The Mexicans have their siestas. We can all learn from them! I began a habit to stop what I was doing about 3pm every afternoon to just sit and drink a cup of tea. It felt so good! Then I was recharged to take on the evening.

Sewing is my creative outlet that uses another part of my brain and truly helps me relax. Here is a creation for you...

This is a simple yet elegant window treatment sewn from hand embroidered linen napkins.

First I opened the napkins and gave them a good pressing. Then I placed them at a diamond shape, and folded over the top corner of each one.
 Next I laid them out side by side, overlapping slightly. Then I simply stitched a wide seam straight across to allow a spring-loaded rod to go through.

The result is a beautiful vintage valence for your window. It allows plenty of sunlight!