Ta-Da!!

Welcome to the new and improved “Girlie World!” 🙂 I always get itching to have a new furniture arrangement and/or paint my endlessly white walls but…since that’s not going to happen, I’ll settle for a seasonal blog change!

What’s a blog without pictures?! This is daddy “helping” Samuel get to sleep:) I thought it was awfully quiet in there and this is what I found!

For those of you who are friends with me on FB, you’ll already know this but Samuel said the cutest thing to me the other day. I was doing laundry this weekend and Samuel was downstairs helping me. I air dry all our pants and shirt, so I was pulling a pair of Ben’s jeans out of the dryer, when Samuel said, “Mommy, save those daddy pants for me cause soon I’m gonna be a man and wear them! And then we’ll go to the clothes store and get me some more daddy pants.” This comes from the boy who doesn’t want to turn 4 in one week! I’ll definitely have to do a special post for a special boy!

Speaking of special posts, with our traveling and insanely busy week, I never got to dedicate a post to a very special daddy on Father’s Day. I want to thank the very special daddy of two precious boys! He is a master at many things including: catcher and thrower of balls, teacher of new skills, dinosaur pretender, master tickler, egg maker, protector, recent nighttime snuggler, bear hugger, whiskery kisser, role model, committed and faithful daddy and companion, reader of stories with cool voices, often bath giver, scary shadow chaser and a million other special amazing daddy-like Daddy qualities. Samuel and Zakkai adore you and so do I. Happy Father’s Day!

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Charts N’ Stickers!

I mentioned awhile ago that we’ve made some conscious changes in our parenting and that I would blog about it….and then I didn’t:) Life’s been busy, what can I say?!

Every so often, when necessary, Ben and I sit and just talk about our parenting and any issues that may have arisen with the boys (and there usually is something!) and how we want to deal with it or change our approach. This happened a few weeks ago after some behavior changes in the boys, especially Samuel. Samuel is our sweet sensitive boy. He does not tolerate anger or correction well, especially from Ben. We would like to protect his sweet, gentle heart while also teaching him to listen well and obey and receive gentle correction. We often find ourselves putting undue pressure on him just because he is the oldest! We expect him to set a good example for Z and “act his age” (which he does!) and listen immediately and well….be perfect. He was getting really frustrated and we realized that we needed to focus more on all of his really great qualities and all of the wonderful things that he does.

We made a chart for him a long time ago, around the age of 2. I redid it in the last few months to reflect his age. He helped me make it, cutting out pictures from magazines, glueing, etc, which made him feel pretty proud! It has several categories on the side, such as “Helping mommy around the house”, “Good Behavior (listening, being kind, gentle, using nice words, etc), “Cleaning up toys”…. And on the top are the days of the week. I put velcro on the squares of the chart and on the backs of the stickers I made. Everytime he exhibits good behavior that we notice, he gets a sticker and for every 5 stickers, he gets a prize! We have a prize bucket that we keep up on the fridge stocked with cheap Target $1 toys, stickers, etc.
We realized we needed to reward him more often so we also have a “special” chart next to his regular chart where he gets to color off squares and work for a Thomas train. The behaviors for this chart are generally the more immediate ones that we really need to focus on right away. For example, the first one we did in the fall was “Staying dry at naptime and other potty behavior”, a more recent one was “Staying in Bed and good nighttime behavior.” The chart you see above was his recent one that took him 2 1/2 months to complete! He earned Duncan the train as a reward and HE WAS PROUD. It is amazing how effective these charts are! His newest chart is going to be to earn Peter Sam (you guessed it! Another train…) and it is focusing on behaviors out in public. For instance: listening well to other adults, good behavior this week at VBS, etc. He LOVES to color off these squares! We think he really deserves these prizes, too! He also gets a lot of verbal praise (so that he doesn’t only behave for prizes and stickers), hugs, etc.

We have also been really focusing on our tone of voice with the boys. We were getting frustrated with behaviors and noticed that we were raising our voices more and, as I confessed above, focusing on Samuel’s behavior a lot. It’s so easy as a parent (or a human!) to get low on patience when there is a lot going on, at certain times of the day (can we say dinnertime?) or when you are frustrated by certain behaviors. We are really making the conscious decision to speak calmly and yet firmly, get down on the boys’ level, explain our reasoning (esp to Samuel who understands) and most importantly, LISTEN to Samuel. We feel it’s really important that we respect our boys as we parent and discipline so that they know they are being heard by us.

The chart wall. Zakkai now has a chart, too! (the blue one!) and LOVES to get stickers and prizes!

Parenting is tough and, for us, an amazing way to change and better ourselves for our children. How else are they going to learn respect, gentleness, patience, kindness, forgiveness, etc, unless they see it modeled before their eyes? We make so many mistakes and can only pray that God will cover us in those mistakes. We adore our boys and are so thankful that we were honored with the gift of loving them! There are many more things that we do but I thought I’d just share a couple of things that we are focusing on and that work for us!

What am I thinking?!!

I am, gulp, possibly, nervously, reluctantly….cough, hesitantly, completely against my will…..doingawaywithsamuelsnaptime. There! I scraped that out of my trembling lips and I cannot repeat it! Please don’t make me!

There are a few reasons for doing the above unmentionable. The biggest reason is that S is staying up ENTIRELY too late at nighttime (almost 9 pm), rolling around and keeping Z awake and driving me crazy! His naptimes were a lot shorter than they were 4 months ago and at least once a week, he’s been staying awake the whole time anyways. My sister suggested to me over this past weekend that I might want to consider dropping his nap, saying that he would go right to sleep at night, which her boys have been doing. I filed her information away, far far away, in my head for a rainy day 3 years from now…..I thought:) Yesterday, I kept his door open all through naptime while I was cleaning the apartment and let him read books and draw and then for the last 15-20 min I asked him to lay quietly so I could have some rest time. He was so happy and pretty well behaved and guess what?! Last night, he was snoring within minutes of his tired little blond head hitting the pillow! It made for a much less stressful nighttime!

Right now, he is playing quietly with his train table and occasionally snuggling with his giraffees and talking. I am actually enjoying my quiet time with him. I think it could also be handy in the fall. We applied for preschool and weren’t able to get in, unfortunately, so I am thinking I can spend this new quiet time in the afternoons with him doing preschool activities! I’m looking at the bright side:) Wish me luck!

Pictures!!

Capital Building

Our newly married friends Aubrey and Greg!

Self Portrait after wedding. Why in the world don’t we ever remember to ask anyone to take pictures of us?!!

Even better:)

The infamous Liberty Bell

I have no idea why Ben looks angry. I swear he was having a good time!

The grave of Benjamin Franklin and Wife

Christ Church~Beautiful and church of many famous Philadelphians, Ben Franklin and George Washington included!

Independence Hall where The Declaration of Independence and Constitution were written, signed and read to the public.

Sign outside of a building where we took a tour. I do have pics of the inside but I didn’t want to bore you!

The teeniest tiniest picture you ever saw:) (cell phone) Z in the ER waiting for stitches…

Well, there’s our weekend in a nutshell! More fun memories for us to pull out, smile over and talk about. I love creating this life with my amazing 3 men! Until next year’s getaway…..Europe anyone?!

History and the dreams of Boys

We left Chi-town and it was rainy and cold. We came back to Chi-town and it is hot and muggy. What’s up with the weather?! I’m glad summer’s come but now I have to talk the hubster into dragging out air conditioners and setting them up….

Aside from our rough start to our trip with Z’s fall, we had a good time. It was incredibly hard for me to leave the boys; I didn’t sleep a wink so by the time we left at 4 am Friday morning, I was sobbing and Ben was patting my knee and telling me to take a nap:) 5 naps and two burning eyes later, I started to feel slightly better….

We loved our time in Philadelphia! Wanna know the truth? We liked it even better than Chicago. I’m not a big city person and do not want to raise my kids in one but I really liked Philly. Chicago feels much colder and industrial in comparison. We had a really nice time at the wedding, met lots of new people and spent most of our day Saturday in Historical Philadelphia visiting sites like the Liberty Bell, Ben Franklin’s grave and the very Senate house where George Washington and John Adams got sworn in! Pretty cool. History is really fascinating to me. I forget that our government didn’t start in Washington; it started right there in Philly. (I’m sure that’s what they called it, too:) I would highly recommend a trip there! It could’ve been the history and neat things that we saw that made it so great but it was mostly likely holding hands, strolling aimlessly along with no place to be, watching the other parents struggle with their children who should’ve been napping, watching stupid movies, sharing a giant ice cream treat, exploring a new place together, getting rained on and not caring and just spending time together. Yep, I’m pretty sure that was it.
The boys got along famously while we were gone, being spoiled by Muggas and Grandmas alike. They had various new toys, popsicles stains and stories about parks and bowling. Crackers and cousins, watering the garden, helicopters and Papa’s tractor. Riding on Mugga’s front porch, picnicing with Grandma, kitty cats and cows. Red cups and green ones, beds on the floor, new stories read to them, airplane noises from Papa and the city of bugs. It’s the stuff boy’s dreams are made of!

We are all off schedule, exhausted, hot but happy with good memories of the weekend to spur us on through the week! Pics to post tomorrow!

Away..

I thought I’d write a quick blurp to let you know I am alive! We are traveling right now~ We dropped the boys off at my mom’s in Ohio yesterday and left in the wee early hours this morning to continue on to Philadelphia, which I might add, we have never been to before! We just got back to our hotel from enjoying the wedding of Ben’s college roommate. We are staying to explore tomorrow and heading back to pick up the boys on Sunday and back to Chi-town on Monday.

Keep us in your prayers for safe traveling and protection over the boys! Samuel is feeling so sad that we’re gone and Zakkai had a bad fall last night and we had to take him to the ER for stitches in his forehead. He looks like the walking wounded with his bandaids, stitches and bruises but is quite a trooper. It was incredibly hard for me to leave this morning knowing I was leaving behind two sad boys. Please pray for us!

Pictures


Here are some pictures of our time at the park before our picnic the other day! The boys had SO much fun playing frisbee and running around in the beautiful sunny park. Boys need sunshine, fresh air and wide open places to run:)

I said I would write a post on our new parenting goals and I will….but I’m too lazy to upload some pictures of their charts that we’re working hard on. It takes forever to upload pics to my computer. That’s why I am longing for something like this: http://imaging.nikon.com/products/imaging/lineup/digitalcamera/slr/d60/index.htm because I randomly have a lot of money lying around. Snort.

Wishful thinking, right? My desire to become a better photographer is increasing all the time and our little digital 3.2 megapixel that takes the pictures approx. 5 seconds AFTER you press the button just isn’t doing it anymore! Hey, technology changes a lot in 5 years….Sigh. For now, I’m dreaming…