Sunday, August 30, 2009

Behavior Management

I was talking to a friend today on the phone and came to the realization that the way we manage behavior is a little different from most parents (once again thanks to my School Psychology background). She was really interested in how we had been managing Jessica's behavior and how I thought that might look in the next several years so I thought I would write a post about how we currently manage Jessica's behavior and what we plan to do in the future.

Our First House Rule
Until Jessica was almost a year old, we just redirected her or kept whatever it was out of her reach. "No" was not a word she heard often because it was not necessary. Beginning around her first birthday, we introduced the first house rule, "Stay out of the fireplace." Beginning with that first rule, we tried to make sure the rules were positively stated so we were telling her what to do instead of what not to do. For example, if the rule is "We sit in chairs," the child cannot very well stand in a chair if he is sitting. However, if the rule was "Don't stand on chairs," then the child could conceivably do a headstand in the chair!

Our Version of Time-Out
We also introduced time-out at this point in time, and apparently we do time-out differently from most people I know, thanks to my School Psychology background. Let me give you an example of a school-aged child first, and then I will explain it a little further. If John throws a pencil at me, then I will say, "John, you are in time-out for throwing a pencil at me." Typically I will place him in a chair away from other students, toys, etc. Then I will either stand near him and completely ignore him or I will do something else. As soon as his hands, feet, and mouth are quiet, I will say "John, your hands, feet, and mouth are quiet. You are out of time-out. John, hand me the pencil." If John hands me the pencil then the incident is over. If he chooses not to hand me the pencil or if he throws the pencil at me, then he goes right back to time-out and we repeat the process until he hands me the pencil.

How Time-Out Looks in Our House

This is the same process we use with Jessica. If Jessica tries to crawl into the fireplace then we say "Jessica, you are in time-out for getting in the fireplace." Then we place her in her pack-n-play and walk away. (She hates being confined, and it keeps her bed from being a place she associates with getting in trouble. Eventually we will switch from the pack-n-play to a mat that can be folded up in my purse.) As soon as her hands, feet, and mouth are quiet then she can get out. The first time we used time-out, I had to get her out when she went to take a big breath before the next scream and tell her how glad I was her hands, feet, and mouth were quiet! Once she was out, if she went back to the fireplace then we started the process all over again.

This has worked very well for her. She realizes that she is not going to get the things she wants (playing with toys, attention from us, etc) if she tries to get in the fireplace. She also has an opportunity to calm down so we usually don't experience too many tantrums outside of time-out. It also helps us keep from feeling overwhelmed with trying to teach our child how to behave because we only use time-out when she breaks a house rule! Overall, it makes the entire experience very non-emotional. One thing that can trip you up is if you don't provide enough positive attention when the child is following the rules. It can be difficult to remember to do that when they are playing nicely, but it helps create a stark contrast between time-out and time-in (when they are following the rules). Overall, the key is to be consistent!

The Evolution of House Rules

In order to help us be as consistent as possible and to keep us from feeling like we have to teach our child how to behave perfectly all at once, we try to limit ourselves to 3 (or less) house rules. Some day we might have as many as 5, but I don't think I (much less a small child) could remember more than 5! We currently have 3 house rules: Stay out of the fireplace, We sit in chairs, and We leave the furniture assembled. Right now, the rules are more a reminder for me to remember what constitutes her going to time-out, but eventually we will review the house rules at least once every day so that she will remember them as well. By that time, the rules will probably be something more like: Do it the first time, Keep hands, feet, and objects to yourself, etc. I always try to make sure the rules are positive, specific, and easily understood.

In the Future
In the future, I have thought about switching Jessica over to a token economy, whether it is stickers, pennies, TV time, etc. where she can earn a lot of positives during the day but also have those positives taken away if she breaks a house rule. I have also considered switching her to job card grounding. With that if you break a house rule, you draw a job card. You can do the job whenever you like, but you do not get to do anything that you want to do until that job is done. It is like time-out for older kids.

Outside of Our Home
Currently when we are not at home, we simply redirect Jessica. We encourage her to say please and thank you, but we don't push it. I also give her choices. For example, she can choose to hold my hand, or I can carry her. Eventually, we will have to come up with some other strategies, but we still have a few months. I am still a little undecided about what that will actually look like.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Front Porch Friday: Bottoms Up!

"Bottoms Up" is a rather descriptive phrase for our past week, in more ways than one!

1. The night before last Jessica drank some Germ-X (which is toxic), and last night she drank some contact solution (which is not toxic). Thankfully, she did not get very much of either of them, and she was just fine. Before she started walking, I went through the entire house rounding up all the chemicals and putting them in a cabinet above the dryer or in a locked cabinet in the bathroom. Apparently, I missed a few items! I am currently working on doing a much more thorough sweep of the house! I have also decided to get rid of all Germ-X, Purell, etc, and replace our on-the-go hand-sanitizer with apple cider vinegar. From what I have read, it is pretty effective at killing germs AND is non-toxic!!!

2. Both of those nights Jessica pooped in the toilet!! Actually I have not changed a poopy diaper since last weekend (of course part of that was because of an incident in the tub and another in our neighbor's backyard...)!

3. Today we had our neighbor and her granddaughter over to play. The little girl does not like milk or yogurt very much. I had her help me make smoothies for snack using yogurt, and she liked it!!

The rest of this post doesn't have anything to do with bottoms being up. So sorry to disappoint you! This weekend will probably be a nice, long, quiet weekend. There are a few errands to run, but I am hoping to be able to start in on my loooooonnnnnngggggggg list of craft projects. David is taking advantage of the nice clear skies we have been having; however, I will not be joining him tonight! I am too tired from all of the other nights I stayed up stargazing with him!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A Day in the Life with Jessica!

I have concluded that my child is just too cute not to share some of the day's events on my blog! Unfortunately I only have one picture from the day, but it is darling! Today we went shopping in Pensacola. We went for some new sandals for me because my soles literally fell off my other pair; unfortunately, we were unsuccessful this trip (because I am very picky). However, we did purchase Jessica and her friend River leotards and ballet slippers!!!!!

While at the dance store, the sales clerk set her on a short stool, and Jessica sat there perfectly still while she put little hose and slippers on her feet. Then I put the leotard on her, and she sat perfectly still, prim and proper with her knees together and her hands on her knees on the stool.....for about 20 minutes!!!!!!! This is unheard of for my child!!!! I am not sure if it was the novelty of the leotard and ballet slippers or if she was just tired! River then decided that she wanted to sit on Jessica's stool and the other stool next to Jessica just would not do! River tried to push Jessica off of it. Her mother and I told her no, and she did it again. She did it a third time, and I told her no. Her mom asked, "Did she do it again??" I said, "Yes, but she is doing better. This time she used her words: 'No, No, No!' and then pushed her off!" All the while, Jessica just kind of looks at River like, "Well, if it is that important to you."

On the other big event today! Yesterday, Jessica looked like she was about to poop so I moved her quickly to her potty. After she used it, she got up, looked in the potty, and pointed saying, "See!" I was so proud of her that I had her help me flush it down the toilet! Tonight, David was watching her because I had a headache, and he saw she was getting ready to poop and quickly moved her to her potty. When I got up, he told her to show me what she had done. She pointed at the potty and said, "Potty! See!" Again we made a big to do about flushing it down the toilet!! I think she might actually be beginning to get it!!!!!! I was trained in graduate school to do the all in one day potty training method; however, Jessica and I don't seem to do well with that method. Neither of us seems to have the attention span for an all day long venture so we have been using what I call the "Burst" method! We start the all day plan and then give up halfway through the day. The first day she learned to sit on the potty and that she poops and pees (that was an exciting discovery)! Then we took a break for a couple months, but she retained what she had learned. The second burst last weekend we mostly learned that we do not disassemble our potty; however, I still occasionally find toys in the potty... Apparently she also picked up on the word potty and that poop (as well as toys apparently) go in the potty. Sounds like progress to me!!!! :-)

Monday, August 24, 2009

A Word on Technology

Several of the blogs I read are written by moms who do not have TV's in their home. We have a TV (two actually), but we rarely watch it, mostly on Saturday mornings for cartoons and when someone is sick. Although I think it is important to be able to get by without technology, I also recognize that technology can be used to enhance our quality of life. However, moderation is key! Some ways technology can be used in positive and negative ways:

1) Computers can be used to learn new information not readily available in your location, but too much computer time will take time away from your family and/or other tasks and projects.

2) Cell phones can be wonderful if you have car trouble with a little one or two or want to keep up with family and friends, but they can also be a distraction from tasks that require your attention.

3) TV can be educational, and it can give you a few minutes to relax and do absolutely nothing. However, it can also serve as an escape from time with family or other tasks and projects.

There are others, but those are the big three in our house. I used to spend a fair amount of time on my cell phone keeping up with my numerous brothers and sisters. However, I have tried to limit it some to give me more time with Jessica and accomplishing tasks when she is asleep! I also use the computer...a lot! David and I both do actually. Sometimes it is kind of nice because we will sit right next to each other each researching whatever we are interested in and share what we are learning with each other. However, you can have too much of a good thing, and some computer activities are more useful than others! Facebook and virtual farming are probably my least useful activities! However, I also spend a fair amount of time researching how to do things around the house I don't know how to do, child development questions that invaribly come up, etc. Overall, I am a big fan of technology, but it is important to "keep it in it's place" and not let it run your life like Farhenheit 451!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Money Saving Monday: Mending

My mother says I have an awesome hand-stitch. She has had me repair rips in her upholstery before. Amazingly enough, you really can't tell where the rips are! As tiny as my hand-stitch is though, I do not like doing the mending! I like to create something new not repair something old! Where is the creativity in that? However, mending something you already own is much cheaper than buying something new. Therefore, I have devised a plan to make mending more bearable! We take four trips a year to see family, which is a 9 hour drive one way. While my daughter is playing with her toys in the backseat, and my husband is listening to talk radio, lectures, and music, I mend our clothes! It has worked out perfectly for me because it gives me something to do with my hands, and I can discuss with my husband whatever he is listening to! It also frees up the precious time that I am not trapped in a car for 9 hours at a time to get other things accomplished!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Ode to Jessica

It is amazing to me just how much you have grown over the past year and a half. It has been an incredible journey thus far watching you grow, learn, and exhibit your own unique personality. We see so much of ourselves in you, and yet you are such a unique combination of the two of us.

Your curiosity should come as no surprise as both me and your dad have always been interested in science, or the study of how things work! You have been very curious from the moment you were born. You were very alert, checking out your mom and dad, right after you were born. Within your first week of life, you had figured out how to get those silly baby mittens off your hands! When you were a month old, you decided that you were a big girl and did not need to take naps! Can you imagine how hard it was to keep you entertained ALL DAY ONE month old!!!! At four months old you somehow managed to get out of your swing! Starting when you were a month old, we went everywhere! We went to the zoo, a farm, Sylvan (so I could work), the library, museums, trips out of town, etc. In fact, in your first 6 months of life, you visited 6 states! You have always loved to go see something new! (Well, for a while you did not like to go anywhere at night because you thought we were trying to make you go to bed, and you did not want to go to bed because you might miss something!!)

You have taught me to appreciate characteristics in myself that I did not always see the positives in. For example, I have always had a very short attention span, and at this point you seem to share that characteristic. However, what I did not realize was that we both also have very sweet dispositions. After much thinking and watching, I have concluded that when you have a short attention span, you can't help but be very good natured! Any wrong is quickly forgotten! All of the neighborhood children like to play with you! If they get mad and take a toy from you, you just shrug your shoulders and go find something else to do. Don't think though that you are a doormat, that you are NOT! If there is something you want or need, you WILL let someone know, very loudly too I might add! Two of our neighbors have commented that they can hear you crying from inside our house! The day after you were born you kept the family across the hall awake with your screaming because you were mad that my milk had not come in yet! In general, as long as you are not tired or hungry, you are a very happy and sweet child!

You are also a very friendly child! I make new friends everywhere I go because you run up and introduce yourself! Well, except at Gulfcoast Gymnastics. There I spend the entire Open Gym following you around making sure you don't walk off a "precipice!" Speaking of which, you also have no fear! Go anywhere, see anything, meet anyone, and you are just fine! (You fed the goats and cows by yourself this summer at the zoo!) However, recently you don't like to get too up close and personal with people you are unfamiliar with in an unfamiliar place. You need time to explore the place first. THEN you will get to know the people! Once you are ready to meet people though, it doesn't matter who they are or how different they are. You are just happy to be there! You are particularly enamored with babies and small children! You once met a special needs baby and thought she was just the coolest thing! I got to talk to her mom a lot that day!!

I have learned over this past year and a half that you do things in your own time and your own way. There have been a couple times that I thought "Ok, today we are going to learn to do ____!" Only to realize that no matter how determined I was, you just were not ready or at least not ready to do whatever it was in that particular way! My creativity has had to soar in order to keep up with your creativity! You currently have a very large vocabulary for a child your age, but you have absolutely no use for using that vocabulary unless absolutely necessary! You have more important things to figure out how everything works! When we go to the Open Gym, you like to try and figure out how to take apart the gymnastics equipment! When we go visit Sylvan, you figure out what all the buttons on the copy machine do! Your goal in life is to go, see, and experience everything.....much like your mother!

You will eat almost anything....except hotdogs and lettuce (You are still trying to cut some of your molars!), and you love milk just like your mom and dad. You have always been a great sleeper! We think it is because you stay so busy all day long!! You actually currently sleep a little longer than a child your age is supposed to. Some of the moms in our neighborhood have asked how I get anything done during the day with you being so busy! One of the biggest challenges we have had with you has been diaper rash. You have your mother's sensitive skin and are hot natured like your father. This is not a good combination! During the summers we put you in cloth diapers because it is the only thing that keeps you from breaking out....mostly!

Your problem solving skills amaze me! That must come from your father! You also look just like your daddy! Speaking of your dad, you love to rough house with him at night! On Saturdy mornings y'all enjoy watching your absolute favorite show, Veggie Tales (You started actually watching it at 3 months old!), as well as 3-2-1 Penguins and The Zula Patrol. This year for his birthday, you insisted we get him the Larryboy and the Bad Apple video game! You had a good time playing (with an unplugged controller) with your daddy!

Your best friend is Nutmeg, our cat. You two have a wonderful time prowling through our house getting into all kinds of mischief. You both love to go play outside. However, sometimes Nutmeg gets a little aggrevated when you try to tackle him or pull his tail. You, on the other hand, think this is great fun and laugh hysterically! I love your laugh! You also like to help your mommy out around the house. You have been unloading the dishwasher since before you were a year old, and you started picking up your toys after your first birthday. You are not much of a copy cat. You like to do things in your own particular way!

You have never minded us leaving you, and you love going to Sunday School! When we left you with a sitter at 5 months old so we could go to a movie, you and the sitter were waiting for us on the front portch when we got back! We decided then that you needed babysitters who were either experienced parents or very high energy! The most common phrase we hear used to describe you is: "She is very busy!", and you are! As my dad said about me, "You are one great big ball of fun!" You also will occasionally go off on your own exploring. At the last wedding we attended, you crawled off to the kitchen during the reception! One of the ladies in the kitchen found you and brought you back!

You currently believe that you must pray after reading any kind of book but that you should not pray before a meal! You also like to sit on the potty to read books but not much of anything else! Since you were a year old if you broke one of the 3 house rules, you went to time out. Thankfully it has been very effective for you because nothing else seems to work! You absolutely love Mr. Clarence and Ms. Tammy at church and Ms. Liza and Christa and Ms. Kami and River down the street! You are only one and a half, and you have already been invited to 3 birthday parties! You love to read books but seem to prefer big books as opposed to board books. You also love to play dress up! Once you dressed yourself in a red bandana and then wanted to go visiting across the street, which we did! You also love to dig in the dirt. One time I picked you up to go home from digging at Ms. Liza's, and you screamed bloody murder! You love to swim and can swim several feet by yourself! Your favorite toy at the moment is Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head. You love taking them apart and putting their parts back in all sorts of interesting places! You also like to wear Mrs. Potato Head's earrings and glasses. Sometimes you put Mrs. Potato Head's mouth in my mouth!

You are a very sweet, fun, energetic, and curious little girl! We think you are fantastic and love you very much!! We enjoy getting to be your guides to adulthood! (Well, unless we are tired or hungry, and then we are cranky too!)

You are my sunshine. My only Sunshine. You make me happy when skies are gray. You'll never know dear, how much I love you...

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Front Porch Friday: Parenting (the second time around)

I recently read a post on MckMama's blog about discipline, and it got me reflecting on my current parenting style and the events that influenced it's development. I grew up the oldest of 5 children. Responsibility always goes along with being the oldest in a large family; however, I will say that I probably had more responsibility than average when I was in high school. My mom was severely depressed at that time, and we all had to pitch in just to hold it together. Some of the things I remember doing are:

1. Keeping a date book to keep up with all of the kids' (that's what I usually called the youngest 3) appointments.

2. Adopting a massive mommy purse (before it was the style) for the calender and other such things.

3. Driving people in the minivan (my mode of transportation) to different appointments and making their return appointments.

4. Taking the kids back to school shopping for clothes and supplies.

5. Taking the youngest girl shopping for her first bra.

6. Either cooking dinner or helping to cook dinner.

7. Helping the kids with their homework.

8. Picking the kids up from school and trying to be there for important functions (with a camera of course).

9. Rounding up the kids at church and making sure everyone had their Sunday School papers.

10. I once got a mug that said "Mom" for Christmas from my siblings and cousins.

11. I remember falling asleep in classes and staying up late at night to finish homework, which had NOT been the norm before.

12. I spent my first Thanksgiving holiday from college making the entire Thanksgiving dinner and part of an Indian costume for my baby brother.

13. I moved back home after my first year away at college partly to spend time with my mother who had improved significantly.

I am sure there were other things, but those are some of the things that jump out at me at the moment. I was not the parent and did not have the ability to discipline, which made it hard to make them do what I needed them to do (like be quiet while I was a new driver in Memphis!). However, in some ways, my relationship to some of the younger children is more like a parent and less like a sibling. It was very difficult when I got married and left Memphis, because I felt like I still needed to be around to "help" them. As they have grown up, I feel less responsible and more able to enjoy just being with them. I suppose like a parent feels when they empty their nest.

As I reflect back, I realize that this experience with my siblings greatly influenced how I chose to parent my own child(ren). I modeled parenting techniques I had seen used and not necessarily with taking their individual differences into account. I was also very tough on them because I did not want them to end up being allowed to fall through the cracks during that stressful time. My baby brother later said that he thought I was very mean and scary but that now he realized that I was pretty cool. I was not all bad. My sister, Kim, and I managed to keep things fairly normal around the house after school: making cookies, doing homework, etc. However, it was a very stressful time, and I lost my temper quite a few times, thankfully with no lasting consequences.

Shortly after this experience, I got married, moved away, and started graduate school in School Psychology. I took a lot of classes on managing behavior and child development, and I learned a lot of new and positive strategies I could use to get desired outcomes. (Parenting that Works by: Edward Christopherson and Susan Mortweet seems to sum up most of what I learned in graduate school, if you are interested.) Much of what I learned lines up with what MckMama wrote in her blog: avoiding triggers, making expectations clear, focusing on what you want the child to do, giving the child choices when you can, acting quickly and calmly, looking them in the eye, distracting, being consistent, and knowing/using your child's currency.

This "second" time around at parenting, I find myself much calmer and more laid back. I also find that I am more willing look at individual differences and be more flexible. Obviously I am enjoying it a lot more, and I have to say that I am glad I got a trial run early on to work out some of the kinks! Each person's situation has its own pluses and minuses. You just have to make the most of what you are given. I feel like my situation worked out very well, and David had a lot to do with that since he walked a good portion of that road with me and gave me the opportunity to enjoy being young!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Front Porch Friday: Health Care Reform

I have seen a lot of discussion recently about health care reform, and I wanted to go ahead and add my two cents. I am not necessarily against a health care reform, but I also recognize that all change is not always good change. Obviously, as a conscientious individual I am concerned about whether or not we can afford it as a country.

However, my main concern is that if the government becomes too involved it could hurt us morally. People need the opportunity to fail. I know that sounds harsh, and I did not use to feel this way until I worked in some of the poorest school districts in the country. I have visited their families at their crack trailers and lean-to's and seen the world that those children live in outside of school, and my heart broke for them. However, it was not until I listened to those children that I realized that our nation has enabled this kind of home environment to exist.

I worked with several large groups of children. I once asked my sixth grade group what they did on the weekends for fun. They said, "We go on dates." I said, "Oh. What do you do on your dates?" They said, "We go to this house with couches on the south side of town and have sex." Then they continued to explain to me that their parents had them when they were 12 years old, and that they planned to as well because you could get a check for the child, you got a bigger check if you beat them till they were stupid, and you didn't marry the daddy so he could be a truck driver and you could pool your welfare check, crazy checks, and truck driving money. Unfortunately I found out that what I was being told was the truth and that this attitude of "I don't have to work" is a lot more prevalent than I used to believe.

I realized that the reason this attitude has developed is because we have removed the consequences for irresponsible behavior. Now there are people who find themselves in situations where they need assistance. They accept it, and they work hard to get off of it. I am not talking about those people. What concerns me is that if we give people all of the necessities, what incentive do they have get off of that assistance and be a contributing member of society? With all of the government assistance programs out there, many of these children's families were able to have things that I could not afford for my own family even though we were working.

Ideally everyone would have equal access to food, water, health care, shelter, clothing, etc. Unfortunately this has been tried in many different countries and communities, and it has never lasted very long because people loose the will to work and become a slave to the entity, system, government, etc. This side of heaven a utopian society fails every time. We learn from history that man needs the consequences of inaction to teach him responsibility. Does this mean that I am unconcerned for anyone needing assistance? Does this mean that I think I will never need assistance. No, but I believe that should come from local communities. Giving people the opportunity to give and help their fellow man directly is also necessary for teaching us valuable lessons in morality, compassion, etc.

As far as health care, specifically, is concerned, I have done all three: paid out of pocket, paid for catastrophe insurance, and paid a reduced rate for group insurance through an employer. I know what it means to be well below the poverty line and have to make the tough choices, but it is because of those tough choices that I am the person that I am today. As I am sure you know, some children seem to have to learn lessons the hard way. Adults can be that way too. By shielding them from the consequences they need to learn those lessons, we are only hurting ourselves as a nation.

Do there need to be changes in health insurance? Quite possibly, but we need to be careful that we don't want change so badly that we are willing to accept seemingly good changes that may or may not turn out to be best for us as a nation.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Making a House a Home: Guest Room

The third post in our Making a House a Home series did not take as long, partly because I have been working on the house like crazy while trying to get over our recent loss. (I have been about to drive my husband crazy!) The room featured this time is the Guest Room! As we live in a vacation area, we typically have a lot of guests, particularly during the summer months. (Although this year we haven't had hardly any. Probably due to the recession.) For now we have found it convenient to have a guest room. Eventually I will probably loose our guest room to children, but hopefully not for a while! Overall, we estimate that we spent a total of about $40 on this room. These are pictures of the room before we moved in.

Once we bought the house, I immediately started figuring out where we were going to put the furniture. We decided to put the furniture that had been in our bedroom (before we made the rope bed) in the guest room. The furniture had originally belonged to my great-grandmother, and the mattress and box springs had been my parents when they got married! It was definitely time to retire these pieces to less heavy duty usage! The next thing I started thinking about was what other items I wanted to go in the guest room. Since we were not going to be using the full size bedding on our new bed, I already had a color scheme: yellow and blue.

One of the pictures I bought as a souvenir while on vacation, and the other a friend painted as a wedding present.

The first thing we did upon moving in was repaint the room. All of the paint jobs in the house were sloppy, but this room was just awful! They had not used a primer on the dry wall so the paint started peeling on the wall in sheets taking dry wall with it! We ended up have to patch the walls, spray texture over the patches, primer twice because some of the previous paint was very dark, and paint a coat or two of the new color! It was very frustrating and took quite a while! We ended up painting the room a light yellow to go with the bedding and hopefully enlarge the room. As I have said before, I like to use variants of the primary colors in my house because just about every color will go with them! We also decided to put up crown molding as it is hard to avoid painting the ceiling when you have a popcorn ceiling! David once again did a very nice job on that!

Now it was time to start adding the finishing touches! My mother had made some lace curtains for the room we got married in, so I hung those over some light blue blackout curtains I had gotten on clearance at Wal-mart for $20. The curtains looked more like shower curtains, but they do their job (keep out light and help with temperature control) and look much nicer with the lace curtains on top! Since the room already had an antique feel to it, I added an antique chair I plan to reupholster some day, a quilt rack with afgans made by relatives, and an old hurricane lamp. I decided to add some seashells since it is a guest room near the coast! We also took apart her ceiling fan and spray painted the brass parts. It turned out great and very economical! This is the second ceiling fan I have done. As I have said before we are replacing all of the blinds and door knobs in the house, and I have not included that in the price of the redo. (Although you can see from the pictures I still have to repaint the doors and change the doorknobs. Maybe next week...)

I am pleased with what we have done with this room, but my favorite part is storage space! In this area of the country we have to be very careful about where we store things because of intense heat and hurricanes; therefore, I decided to store Jessica's old baby clothes in the dresser organized by age so it will be easier access as we have other children! I also stored old clothes under the bed to be used for later sewing projects, and I put all of our camping gear in the top of the closet. So much storage space and yet it still doesn't look cluttered!!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Money Saving Monday: Trash Bags

I quit buying garbage bags 2 years ago. I had thrown out our kitchen trashcan when we moved because it stank!! I started using old Wal-mart bags hung on a door knob just until I could get around to buying another trashcan; however, I never did get around to it! This has worked out particularly well when we use disposable diapers because the bags do not hold very much so it gets emptied about every other day! While a lot of people are going towards reusable grocery bags, I am saving money by reusing old plastic bags! Sometimes I get a rather large collection of plastic bags. I have considered crocheting handbags out of them. I have seen a couple patterns online that looked cute!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Front Porch Friday: Life in the Fast Lane

Welcome to our Front Porch! Every Friday, I invite you to sit on our Front Porch and see what life is really like at our house!

It feels like our family has been in fast forward mode for the last month, especially the last several weeks! First we found out we were pregnant. Then I was on bed rest with a very busy 1.5 year old! Then last week we lost the baby. Last week was very difficult for me. Jessica and I spent a lot of time together, just the two of us, enjoying fun morning outings. In the afternoons and evenings, I just about finished cleaning the house from top to bottom and started cleaning out all of my husband's stuff and assigning him "Honey Do" projects. If he was unable to complete the project when I felt it needed to be done by then I burst into tears, and sometimes I just burst into tears for no good reason at all! David obviously had a difficult last week as well!

This week seems to mark the beginning of healing and moving forward. Monday I got my blood work done, and the doctor said I would not have to have any procedures done. My friend Kami, down the street, and her daughter River, took us to the doctor's office, and afterwards we celebrated by going to lunch at Cracker Barrel and shopping! I am not a big shopper; however, Kami managed to find a lovely long brown skirt that I loved at Charlotte Russe for $5! The rest of the week, I filled with Zoo Tots, Mommy Dance Class, swimming, visiting a friend in Orange Beach, and dinner with some friends in my neighborhood. I think all of this made for way better therapy than seeing a couselor!!!! (not that I am against counselors...this way is just way more fun!)

I also found out that the place that offers the Mommy Dance Class is going to be offering a Mommy and Me dance class for 2 years! They said that 1.5 year olds were welcome too! Jessica and I are up for anything that involves moving!!! We don't believe in sitting still for a moment! Speaking of which, I also realized this week how very much my daughter is like me. I have concluded that I am going to have to be very creative in my parenting to help her learn without frustrating her and to help her see how special she is despite the fact that she does not seem to follow the norm. It made me feel better to realize that she is just unique and that I am not missing something in my I celebrated with a glass of wine, yummy bread, and Enya! (It doesn't take much to make me happy....though that may be because I have about as short of an attention span as my daughter!)

David left today for the AIAA conference in Chicago. I was a little nervous this morning about him leaving because I have come to depend on him so much over the past two years (moving away from family, not being able to do much while pregnant, having a hard time making friends because I couldn't get out much, finding a church, not working for the first time ever, getting melanoma, out patient surgeries, the miscarriage, etc). However, things seem to be going just fine.

My parents are across the sound at the beach this weekend so we are spending time with them, and Christopher, a guy we went to school with and works with David, will be staying with us until David gets home. We have had teenagers banging on our door in the middle of the night and there have been a series of break-ins, etc around the neighborhood, so Christopher offered to keep an eye on me and Jessica while David is gone. (I am a really really heavy sleeper and would probably not wake up until it was too late to do anything about it.) Hopefully while David is gone I will be able to stay busy and when he returns life will slow down a tad for us!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


I try not to talk shop too often on here, but occasionally something comes up around our house that coincides with my School Pyschology World. (I'll get to that in a minute!) I was trained to diagnose and treat a multiplicity of childhood disorders; however, ADHD was my specialty. While in Mississippi, there were very few professionals in any field in the state who knew more about it than I did, and for a while I had a small private practice where I tested and treated children for ADHD.

One of the most frequently asked questions is, "Do you think it really exists?" I believe that there are people who have a set of characteristics that are unusual for the general population and make it difficult for those people to work in situations that seem to come naturally to the general population (like traditional school). We call that set of characteristics ADHD. Do I believe there is something inherently wrong with those children? No, but I do see differences that can make life more challenging if people insist on the child conforming to the norm. My guess is that we would not need diagnoses if people were willing to accept that some people are just different and there is no right or wrong way to do things.

Today my School Psychology training is coinciding with my new position as Stay-at-Home Mom. I was diagnosed with ADHD as a child and had MAJOR difficulties because of those differences. When we became pregnant with Jessica, I knew there was a possibility that she might share some of those characteristics. Obviously, I knew she would not be exactly like me and that she could even have very few of my characteristics, but I realized from the beginning it was a possibility. I had noticed behaviors in her along the way that set off my "ADHD radar," but today I am CERTAIN she shares at least some of my ADHD characteristics!

Most ADHD kids you meet are very happy, cheerful, sweet, and kind individuals. (I suspect this is because they are so distractible they can't help but be super good natured!) However, most ADHD kids also get frustrated very easily when you try to teach or get them to do something they don't understand, and they can go from zero to a hundred very quickly! In some ways they are just like your average kid.....only much more so! I noticed this behavior in Jessica today big time!!

So what are you going to do about it? As a Stay-at-Home Mom and School Psychologist, my response to ADHD-like behavior in my child is to: Do Nothing...well almost nothing! I never want to have my child tested or medicated if I can help it. There is nothing "wrong" with my child. Perhaps some things won't work for my child, but that is not because there is something "wrong" with my child. (Just so you know I am not against testing or medication in general. I just don't want to use it on my child.) What I will do is realize that my child is not someone else's child and has her own set of characteristics that make her unique, and I will do my best to let her guide me in choosing parenting techniques that will work for HER.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Money Saving Monday: Coupon Clipping

Someone recently mentioned in a comment that they save a lot of money clipping coupons. We use coupons in our house, but I do have trouble sometimes finding coupons for the items we typically buy so I thought I would list some of the coupon sites I have found online in hopes that some of you would post others that I do not know about!
Money Saving Mom
Coupon Cabin
Fat Wallet

Most of these seem to have a lot of the same coupons. The site that has been the most helpful for us though is! It allows you to search sale circulars for all of the stores in your zip code! Within 30 minutes of our house, our grocery shopping options are Wal-mart, Publix, and Winn-Dixie. Wal-mart usually has the lowest prices; however, Publix routinely runs killer deals on things like milk and meat, two items I routinely have trouble finding coupons for! Publix also has a baby club that frequently sends me coupons for fresh meat and milk! I also like Shop Local because they include sales circulars for all kinds of stores not just grocery stores.

Another idea I am about to try is trying to make use of a local butcher and farmer's market. I found an ad for a local butcher shop, and the prices looked great! It will require a little bit more work on my part, but I think it might be worth it! I had also thought that I might could stock up on vegetables at a farmer's market this summer and freeze or can them for the winter.

The best way to get great deals on purchases really seems to vary from person to person based on what you typically buy. Please share how you get your good deals!