Friday, April 27, 2012

Girls and Hair

When Amanda was 1 and 2 years old, she had the curliest head of hair. Even if I washed it and dried it with a hairdryer and hairbrush, making it go straight, within 10 minutes the hair would bounce back into curls like little springs. I loved it. I was a little worried when it came time to her first haircut. I wasn’t sure if we would lose all those lovely curls. A friend, who used to be a hairdresser, came over and did our hair for us. Now, a few years later, Amanda still has curly hair, but it’s heavier than before, so it doesn’t curl as much as it did when she still had that baby-fine hair.

Back in middle school, I had a realization about girls and hair. Those who had curly hair envied girls with straight hair and girls with straight hair envied girls with curly hair. I decided back then that no matter what type of hair I had, I would be happy with it. That doesn’t mean that I didn’t try the crazy 80’s perm look.

Now I have 3 girls and they each have different hair. Samantha has the straightest hair out of all of us and she sometimes wishes she had Jessica’s wavy hair. Jessica, on the other hand, wanted and received a hair straightener for her last birthday. As you see, what I noticed about the female race while growing up is still true today.

You might like to read my blog post “Eye Color Conversation,” which discusses the topic of “How important is eye color to you?”

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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Measuring Up – 2

I asked a question in my previous post “Does your child measure up?” Now, I would like to rephrase that question and ask, “Do you measure your child against other children and for what purpose?”

My son, Jeremiah, is my first child. He took his first unaided steps at 9 months of age, which is really young. This happened soon after watching his 3rd cousin, who was 6 months older, walking. (I searched on Google to find out exactly how they were related.) However, sometimes he would wet his bed up until around 6 years of age. He played hard all day and slept deeply at night, so deeply that he couldn’t wake himself up when he needed to urinate, not even when we took him ourselves. Was something wrong with him? No, and he eventually outgrew this problem. Some things just take time and don’t need medical attention or parental pressure.

The same morning that I pondered on this topic, I began to read the 1st book of a trilogy that my daughter, Samantha, borrowed from the library. The book is called, The Wind Singer, by William Nicholson and is the 1st of the Wind on Fire trilogy. I haven’t been able to put these books down. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw that the theme in The Wind Singer is about the lie behind measuring people by using exams on certain subjects. The people in the story are living inside a large city and are tested every year to prove their intelligence and their worth from as early as 2 years of age. (By the way, these books are not for sensitive readers as the author doesn’t sugarcoat his storytelling, although I do recommend them.)

My thoughts on this subject are best expressed through an encounter I had with a near stranger. Earlier this year, we had a visitor whom we hardly knew. For some reason I was talking with our guest about the education system. I told him how school systems are only able to measure certain types of intelligences, like mathematics and language, but how there are many children sitting inside these schools who might be good in other areas. As an example, I suggested that a child who is good at gardening would not be recognized in his or her area of intelligence. Our guest then told me that his son struggled in school, but was now happy as an adult doing landscaping.

I hadn’t known this about his son before the conversation, but I don’t believe the example I gave was a coincidence. I believe the Holy Spirit was speaking through me even though I wasn’t aware of the significance of my words until he shared his own son’s experience. If you would like to read more about the Holy Spirit then you can start by reading my post in my blog, Happy Moms, Happy Homes called “Discovering Your Potential – Part 3 of 5.”

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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Measuring Up – 1

Jessica walking Amanda to school.
As I was working on my last post “Some Things Take Time,” I began to ponder these next two posts on measuring up. It’s such an important topic that I took my time writing this, wanting to make sure that I communicate it as clearly as possible.

Does Your Child Measure Up?

Most of us have seen charts that measure a child’s developmental stages from infant to toddler. These charts help us as parents to know when our baby should be rolling over, sitting up on his or her own, crawling and the like. We need to be informed, because we spend more time with our children than the medical professionals do and we might notice something out of the ordinary that they never saw.

It’s important that our children get the professional care that they need, but that is not what these posts are about. They are about addressing the kind that parents do with one healthy, normal kid against another. Pride, not the interest of the child, drives this kind of comparing.

Let me use a short scenario. Dad takes his son Jimmy at age 2 ½ to his very first day at playgroup. While there, Dad meets the father of another boy named Johnny who he finds out is the same age and has a birthday in the same month as Jimmy. Both dads are standing proudly by watching their boys at play. The boys run up to their dads, telling them excitedly about something they had been playing. Johnny is speaking in full sentences, but Jimmy is not yet able to. Up until that moment, Jimmy’s dad had thought his son was a bright spark, but now he begins to wonder.

What would you say to Jimmy’s dad? I’d love to hear from you, but I might not respond to comments on this post as there is more that I want to say on this topic in “Measuring Up – Part 2.”
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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Some Things Just Take Time

Purple Play-Dough in Her Hair (18 months old)

My previous post was about how parents can help children overcome their fears. I mentioned that using games was a key in helping Amanda overcome her fear of shadows. Today’s post is about a fear that Amanda had that took her two years to finally outgrow. That was the fear of getting water on her head or in her eyes. It started with her very first head-to-toe bath.

Amanda was not my first child. I was very used to the routine of checking the temperature of the bath water. I was also used to the task of supporting the baby’s head with one hand while washing it with the other. Despite all my best efforts, she would scream and carry on as if she was being mishandled. Sometimes the other members of my family wanted to know what I was doing to her.
Bath-Time (about 1 month old)

I would try to calm her fears by singing to her or making a game out of bath-time, but nothing worked. By the way, I didn’t wash her hair every time she took a bath. I only washed her hair whenever it was necessary. As soon as she was old enough to hold a facecloth over her eyes, I let her do that to try and help her feel more in control of the situation.

I still remember the first time she didn’t cry. She was two years old. She and I both verbally celebrated her achievement. After that, she began to out-grow her fear and the crying happened less and less often.
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Sunday, April 15, 2012

How to Handle Fear

When Amanda was younger, she used to be fearful of shadows. It’s easy as an adult to logically understand what causes shadows and to know that they cannot hurt you, but you cannot dispel the fear in a child’s mind using logic alone.

I used Amanda’s bedtime to play shadow games with her. I would put on the light and we would cast shadows against the wall with our hands. If trees cast shadows on the window, I’d pick her up, open the window and point out the trees. Also, whenever we took a walk and saw our own shadows, I would encourage Amanda to jump on mine and then I’d pretend, in a joking way, to get hurt. She would laugh and play along. The more she saw that shadows were a natural and normal occurrence, the less she became fearful of them.

The other night, Amanda and I took Benny, our dog, for a walk. It was already dark outside and the street lights were on. She wasn’t afraid, not even once. She even asked to play the jump-on-my-shadow game.

Being fearful is not only a childhood problem. Many adults are controlled by their fears. The Bible states that perfect love casts out fear (1John 4:18). One would have thought faith was the answer to fear, but it is love. It's a good topic to think about and an important one. We should ask ourselves throughout the day whether we are living out of fear or out of love. We can swap very quickly from one to the other. Let love rule and not fear.

The above photo was taken yesterday at my son's high school rugby game. It was the perfect morning for Amanda to play a jump-on-my-shadow game on the sidelines.
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Friday, April 13, 2012

Pass on the Love

Big sisters playing with little sister.
People who put people down are in themselves insecure. You cannot give to others what you do not have inside of yourself. Yesterday, Samantha (my 11 year-old) came home from a birthday party thoroughly happy and exhausted. I got to hear all about it. She said, “Her mom is the most creative mom! That was the best party ever!”

I heard, “Her mom is more creative than you.” Of course, that’s not what she said, but one of my main love languages is praise or “Word’s of Affirmation” from Gary Chapman’s The Five Love Languages. I feel validated when I’m praised. I work harder when I’m praised. You get my drift.

So, how did I respond? I was happy for Samantha. I was also happy for the mom’s gift of creativity. This morning I sent the mother, who is also my friend, a text message thanking her, telling her what a great time Samantha had and letting her know that my daughter thinks she’s the most creative mom. I got a thankful text back, which makes me even happier. I don’t have the “Most Creative Mom” title, but I don’t feel less of a mother because of it. We all need our moments to shine. When you see someone else shining, let him or her know. Pass on the love. Be thankful for what you do have.
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Monday, April 9, 2012

Having fun with Pinterest - Part 2

I shared in my previous post how Amanda and I have been having fun with the paint projects I’ve learned about on Pinterest. I’ve also picked up a few new recipes and even tried one. There seems to be something about almost anything on this site.

There can also be a down side to all of it. For example, I’ve been enjoying looking at the many wonderful kids’ rooms concepts over the past few weeks. Amanda shares a room with her sister, Samantha, and posters are the main decoration on their walls. I began to think that their walls don’t look good enough anymore. It’s normal to want to keep up with modern trends, but it’s not always possible.

It began to weigh a little bit on my heart, but I didn’t voice my concern. So, I was quite surprised when, out of the blue, Amanda brought up the subject herself. As I was putting her to bed, she began counting out loud the number of Hello Kitty and Barbie posters on her wall. Then she asked me why she had more Hello Kitty posters than Barbie posters. For some reason she omitted her My Little Pony posters from the discussion. I gave her some short answer. Yes, I was being impatient, maybe because it had become a sensitive subject for me.

Then she said something that blew me away. She ended with, “My room is perfect!” I realize, once again, that God loves me, because that just says it all.

You might like to read “Out of the Mouths of Babes” if you haven’t already.
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Friday, April 6, 2012

Having fun with Pinterest - Part 1

I recently joined the Pinterest community and never guessed how addictive it could be. I love looking at beautiful things and there’s no end to finding stunning places, spaces and scrumptious recipes to name a few. Awesome pins are a feast to my soul.

I’ve tried two art projects with Amanda that I learned about through other people’s pins on Pinterest. I've already made shaving cream bath paint twice for her to play with at bath-time. I also made sidewalk paint with corn starch and over a couple of days she painted with it outside on the concrete driveway. I would say we’ve had a lot of fun and it makes me feel like an amazing mom who does cool things with her little one.

For the shaving cream bath paint all you need is some shaving cream (not gel) and a few drops of food color. Mix well and now your child is ready to paint the bath or herself/himself. It washes off the bathtub really easily. Use a muffin pan to mix the different colors of paint.

For the sidewalk paint you will need 2 tablespoons corn starch (maizena in S.A.), 4 tablespoons water and 6-8 drops of food color. Mix well and that’s one color finished. If you want more colors, just repeat the process. Use a muffin pan to mix the different colors of paint.

I wish you lots of fun with your kids!
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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Listen to Your Child

I’m sure that we’ve all heard how important it is to listen to our children. Usually it’s in light of the fact that they will eventually become teenagers and the teen years can be challenging. So, if you haven’t been listening when they were small then they won’t talk to you when they’re big. It’s a good message, but not quite the angle I’m taking today.

I’ve already done a couple of posts on the value of listening to your child and I’m sure I’ll be writing more in the future. This time I’m going to share from my own mistakes with Amanda, specifically on two different occasions. Both times I thought she was just exaggerating. The job of a mom can be tedious and so it’s easy to want to brush off complaints made by one’s child as being no big deal. Both times I was slow to respond to Amanda’s complaints and both times it was a big deal. My bad.
The first time happened in 2010. I was dressing Amanda and as I was pulling on her pants, she began to protest loudly. I was thinking, what could possibly be the problem? So, I told her to settle down, because I had to dress her. This was me being slow to respond. When she didn’t calm down, I took her pants off in frustration. Something fell to the floor, but it took some investigating to actually find out what it was. It turned out to be a bumble bee. The strange thing is that it had never made a sound. I called my husband for help and we got it out the window. I was shocked to find six stings on her leg and I immediately applied sting ointment. I later googled it and discovered that bumble bees, unlike honey bees, can sting more than once.

At this point, you might be wondering how it got there. I also wondered the same thing. We hang all our washing outside to dry unless it’s raining. We live in South Africa and electricity is very expensive here, so washing lines are standard at most homes. It had to have gotten trapped inside her pant leg when we brought the washing in off the line the night before and since it never made a sound, I never knew it was there.
The second time I was slow to respond to Amanda happened just a few days ago. We went for a short, fifteen minute walk with the dog and were about six minutes away from our house when she complained that her shoes were hurting her. To protect her feet from thorns and such, we make sure she has something on her feet. It was a warm day, so she wasn’t wearing socks. I figured we were almost home, so she could endure a little bit more. She didn’t say anything after that, so I thought I had made the right decision. I forgot that little people have very fragile skin. Once we were home, I was shocked to find that her skin had chafed open at her one heel and the other one was quite red. Again, my bad.

I hope that you can learn from my mistakes and be quicker to respond to your child when he or she complains about something. Yah, I know, kids do a lot of complaining. It’s part of growing up. But, the thing is, they might be complaining for the right reasons. Life is full of interruptions. Allow yourself to be interrupted. Your kid is more important than the flow of the day.

P.S. She liked picking out her Disney Princess Band-Aids. Ariel was the winner.
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