Happy New Year, Happy New Focus

Ahhh…We can all breathe a deep sigh of new 2012 air.  The dust has settled from the holiday melee, children are back to routines that help them organize their sleep, emotions and expectations.  We (mostly) have cleaned and begun the reorganization that comes with piles of lovingly selected new toys and activities.  Along with the new year comes the feeling of new starts, a new you!, or a new waistline.

Pretty much every year, at least every year that I can remember, I have made a resolution to lose weight.  Yep, my whole life.  I will jog every day.  Lose 20 pounds.  Yoga four times a week…etc. This year as the calendar page flips to 2012 (and reeealy its 2012? I remember when that seemed so futuristic to me) I have new goals.  Goals that come from my drive to grow as a mother, wife and teacher.  Goals that are not just promises to myself or habits that need breaking.  Instead these goals are a reminder to myself to do the work emotionally that needs to be done, to keep growing, learning and becoming the *me* that I can be.

Study and Practice Nonviolent Communication:

In my former life, before teaching, marriage and my boy, I studied social change.  In fact I taught a seminar called “Nonviolence and the twenty-first century” as my senior capstone project in college. The Ghandian idea of nonviolence is not simply refraining from involving in physically violent acts. Standing idly by as someone is abused or marginalized is a violent act.  In other words it is not the abscense of an act.  Nonviolence is a concsious act in and of itself.  You need to make a choice, contribute to violence or contribute to peace.  I choose peace.

I know that during certain conflicts I lose my ability to hear others. Being right can become ridiculously important to me and often I can’t see past my own feelings into the heart of the other person.  Words that hurt are easy to throw around, often easiest to hurdle at those we love the most.  As our family grows I find myself looking back on how we have grown together.  How we truly are turning into a family.  Learning a dance of emotions, needs and responsibilities.  Trying to support each other as individuals and strengthen our relationships while recognizing that our needs may sometimes be at odds with one another.

As a mother I feel the onus is on me to raise a child who is able to express his feelings in a way that is gentle but clear.  Equally important is to raise a child who is able to really hear what others are saying.  Even if it means listening through anger, aggression or pride.  I know that the only way to effectively teach anything is to model it.  To this end I have begun reading (or sort of re-reading, as I started it before with about 5 other books and never finished it) Nonviolent Communication by Marshall B. Rosenberg PhD.

As stated on the center for nonviolent communication’s website nonviolent communication is”the natural state of compassion when no violence is present in the heart”.  My goal for this new year is to engage myself in the study of a new type of communication that will help me relate to my son, husband, co-workers and students in a more loving, open and effective way.  I will not throw words around as if they don’t matter or hurt.  I will be conscious of where the other party is coming from.  I will stop, slow down and (try my hardest!) to step outside myself to see the conflict from the outside.

Focus on the study of Child Development and Early Childhood Education and Parenting:

When I first started this blog I didn’t really know where I was headed.  I know what I do, what I like, how I spend my days and I figured if I started writing about those topics I would find my way.  As the days have passed I have become connected to some amazing (and admittedly intimidating) bloggers.  Crafts sites, cooking sites, engaging anecdotes about their daily lives, crunchy eco moms who don’t use toilet paper (!?!).  I just can’t compete.  How do you take such adorable and informative pictures of your toddler doing an art activity (with no mess?) while supervising? Cooking a meal and remembering to take beautifully framed pictures of each step along the way? SO NOT ME.  Maybe someday, maybe another resolution, but not now. I know now what this blog is.

This is me, teaching, parenting, parenting while teaching.  What fires me up is child development.  Learning how children learn so I can support them the best way they can.  As a teacher, parent or friend.  This platform holds me accountable.  In this new year I will support children for who they are. I will advocate for them and their parents.  In our world today there is more help in a hug than in years of starndardized tests.  I will be true to myself  in this new year.

What about you? What are your goals for yourself? Goals for your family?

Happy 2012!

Advertisements

2011 Best ideas for kids (Linky party!)

Alright, this is my first attempt at joining into a ‘linky party’.  I really have no clue what I am doing but I love the idea of being able to learn, share and explore with other like minded playful people.

As I am just beginning in this world of blogging I don’t exactly have a plethora of posts to choose from.  For 2011 I feel like one of the most relevant things for me to reflect on was how, when or if we allow our children to take risks.  I’d love to hear how other mammas, daddas and teachers allow or scaffold their children’s risk taking.  Here is the post.

Falling can be great!

Now….as for this party, it seems I can’t use java in my wordpress format so here is a link to all of the wonderful links so you can hop around and find the best of 2011.  I loved hopping!


Happy 2011, may your days be filled with peace, patience and play!!

Simple Sunday-The KISS method

I feel as if we have fallen head-first into the holiday season. We had a great long Thanksgiving weekend with my side of the family, including a three-day stay with Collin’s Auntie Mandy and Soon-to-be Uncle Jon. This week has been filled with tree lightings, snow and santa sightings. Collin is excited, he feels the happy energy of love, family and music filling our house. Every year is more fun with him around. I enjoy the changing of the seasons more as we look forward to the exciting moments we will share as a family.
As any mom knows the holidays are not all laughter, singing and cookies. It takes a lot of work to prepare for each event, outing and gift exchange.  Many days I feel a pull to do more, plan more and spend more.  Then I am reminded that this is not what the holidays are about.  Particularly at his age what he needs is for us to slow down, enjoy the moments and celebrate the small, but joyous moments of the season.

When I get too consumed by commercialism I always have Daddy there to remind me to K.I.S.S. or keep it simple stupid! Simple is usually more memorable in the long run anyway.

In the last six years of teaching preschool every holiday season I see families who really enjoy the time and families literally on the edge of cracking…this is what I have learned from them.

Here are five ways to K.I.S.S. this holiday season if you have a toddler:

1) Don’t over schedule! With only four weekends in the month of December every single choice you make will affect the availability of your time, patience and self.  Only say yes to events that you think you truly will enjoy or that will have meaning to you and your kids.  I know, easier said than done, but it is worth a shot.

2) Keep your child’s development/age in mind when planning events.  Try to be sensitive to their sleep schedules.  Is it worth it to stay up to spend a few extra hours with a much-loved but little seen family member? Probably.  Is it worth it to miss a nap (with cuddles and a nice book) to stand in line for the mall santa? Probably not.

3) Plan events through the season that will only involve your immediate family.  Quite time for just Mom, Dad, and kiddos can be hard to come by these days but for most younger children this is really all they really want. Allow loads of extra time for these activities so your child can move at his/her own pace and explore what they want.

4) Allow your child to be involved on their level.  If they want to do something, let them, even if it isn’t the “right” way to do it.  Let them have ownership of the holiday.  Does that mean some cookies may end up headless? Ornaments may drag on the floor? Yep.  Will they be more engaged and proud of their participation? Yep.

5) Incorporate the season into your daily life.  Whatever is most joyous for you, singing, cooking, crafting, pick something and do a little bit each day.  It will help keep your heart in the right place 🙂

Merry Christmas!!

Simple Sunday – Slow it down a latte

I really have been getting in the spirit recently! I smell the familiar dampness of autumn in the air.  The time has changed and the nights are dark and chilly (even before Collin’s bedtime!) giving us ample time to cuddle up and play in the warmth of our heated home.

I find myself wanting to slow down, watch the leaves fall, stay in my jammies a little longer and hunker down in the kitchen cooking warm comforting food.  It has made me rethink the concept behind ‘Simple Sundays’.  I suppose the concept was to make things simple for me.  To be able to write a quick post the night before a long week.  Now it seems that the concept should reflect more of me, or more of our families philosophy.

It should be a series of posts on small ways in which we aim to live our lives more simply, with less fuss and more comfort and love.

In honor of this concept here is my take on my first homemade pumpkin latte! Something I have been wanting to make for about a month now but I was always to intimidated by long lists of ingredients and directions.  (Who has time to break out a microplane and grate cardamom or nutmeg with a toddler running around?!)

I poured some milk into a nice think bottomed sauce pan.  I am sure you could use any milk, though some non-dairy milks will chance consistency when you heat them.  I used non-fat milk and a splash of Collin’s organic whole milk just for texture.

I added some pumpkin puree.  Granted this TOTALLY added to the simplicity of the latte.  During this time of year it’s fun to always have some pumpkin around 🙂 It ended up being about three tablespoons.

Then as it warmed I stirred in about 1/2 tablespoon of  T.J.’s Pumpkin Pie Spice.  This is a  wonderfully warm and spicy mix.  Add more and you get a heart warming chai flavor.  I would imagine you could also add sugar at this point though I’m not much for sweets myself.

Yum, yum,  yum!! So warm, smooth and tasty.  A special treat for a girl who drinks her coffee steaming hot and black.  I sipped this while planning my weekly menu as Collin and Dada played in a tunnel/fort/box with pumpkin lights.  Dada got a little football in too.

There you go, my four step, simple pumpkin latte!