Our Mindful Life

Our Mindful Life: October 2012

Our Mindful Life

Our Mindful Life is about paying attention to what it is that we do on a day to day basis and how we impact each other and the planet. We will talk about all of the things that we do here at home to make ourselves and the world a better place.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Parenting 101: How to Gently Respond to Children Who Are Hurt

Children who have been hurt.  This seems like it would be a fairly simple thing to respond to.  But a lot of the time, when something happens to our children, we become so overwhelmed that it can be difficult to find an appropriate response to give them.  I've developed this system to help parents work quickly and easily through helping a child out of distress.

It only takes a SECOND to help a child who has been hurt.  I'm going to illustrate this with an example that happened at our house last night - Sofi fell out of bed in the wee small hours of the night!

SURVEY the situation, especially if you didn't witness the accident.  A quick look around can often tell you a lot.
When I arrived on the scene, Papa had lifted Sofi back into bed, but I could still see her bedside lamp overturned on the floor, and some things that are supposed to be under the bed but were beside the bed instead had also been overturned.  This told me that she had hit them on her way down, which could indicate an injury and also told me where she may be injured - her head and her torso.  She was still crying and not able to tell us much at that point.

ENSURE SAFETY.  Physically check the child for injuries, especially if the child is unable to give a verbal response regarding injuries.
Sofi wasn't really able to tell me where she was hurt, but I knew that she had likely hit the lamp with her head, and that her torso was possibly hurt, so I was quickly able to feel for swelling and bleeding.  Gently rubbing the places she had hit helped her to stop crying.  Most of the time, this is the type of accident that we have met with.  We have had a few where she did incur a serious injury, including a broken hand and even a concussion.  Once we had assessed her safety in these situations, we moved on to getting medical help for her.  Then we continued through these steps, although we found that it was on a longer time-frame for those injuries.

CALM the child down by providing a calm presence yourself, projecting love toward the child, and providing hugs, kisses, rubs, bandaids, songs, or whatever helps your child to calm down.
Sofi was calmed at this point simply by my presence and my gentle words and caresses.  Every child needs something different to help calm him or her down, so support your child in a way that he or she needs.  One side note - ordering a child not to hurt really isn't helpful.  It doesn't actually make the child not hurt, is likely to upset the child further, and teaches the child to stuff down his or her own feelings in favor of maintaining a calm front.  It is better to actually help the child to calm down and regain composure.

ORGANIZE the space around the child again.
Return the area to what it should look like.  Having the area in a disheveled state resulting from the accident can cause the child to continue being upset about the accident.  In our case, simply picking up the lamp, righting the things from under the bed and placing them under the bed, and getting the bed ready to be slept in again really helped to center Sofi.

NOW  Help the child to focus on the present, not the past.
Once the accident is over, we don't need to return to it with the child and discuss it for an extended period of time.  We need to establish ourselves in the now and move forward from there.  If there is a problem that needs to be corrected to help keep the accident from recurring, address it, but don't dwell or shame.  In our example, Sofi often ends up curled up on the edge of her bed and any type of movement will roll her off the edge.  So, when she was curling back up on the edge to return to sleep, I simply helped her to move over to the center of the bed.

DISENGAGE  Now that you have helped the child to right the situation, give back his or her autonomy.  Disengage yourself and allow the child to pick back up where he or she left off.
In our case, this meant letting Sofi go back to sleep, and going back to bed ourselves.  In the case of a fall off a bike, it means giving the choice to get back on the bike and try again or moving on to another activity.  In any event, it means that the child was doing something when the accident occurred and once the child and the situation have been righted, the child should be allowed to continue with his or her activity, in his or her own manner.

So, to recap, just remember SECOND.

Survey the situation.
Ensure safety
Organize the area again


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Fall Vocabulary Poems for Beginning Readers

In Waldorf education, the children learn to read by writing verses, songs, tongue twisters, etc.  Sofi and I have been working on some Autumn themed poems and I thought I'd share them in case anyone else would like to use them!

Poem 1
Fall leaves
Fall down,
Yellow, orange,
Red, brown.

Poem 2
Moon yellow,
Leaves red,
Nuts brown,
Orange pumpkin bed.
Fall is here!

Poem 3
On a walk,
In the Fall,
Leaves from
Trees tall,
Red, orange, yellow, brown,
Lay down,
On the ground.

Poem 4
Pumpkin orange,
Nuts brown,
Yellow moon
Looks down.
Leaves red,
In bed.

Of course, these are all my original poems and belong solely to Our Mindful Life.  Anyone is welcome to use them for their own personal use, but please do give me credit if you use them for something else!  :D

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Clothespin Clean Up

One thing that we have long struggled with at our house is that Sofi is, by nature, a helpful, domestic personality.   Walter, on the other hand, has little to no desire to clean up after himself.  He will happily stand and watch while Sofi cleans up an entire room (or three) on her own.  We've tried several different systems to help them become equal partners in cleaning up, but our latest seems to be the one that is TRULY effective in helping them BOTH to organize their thoughts, themselves, and to get the messes cleaned up with equal input!  And, it is easy for both the 4 year old and the 6 year old to use, which is a great bonus.

I'm going to start by saying that many families prefer the system where one toy is allowed to be out at a time. I was raised in this system, and I found it to be constrictive for a creative personality.  Also, when I watch the way my children play, there is no "ending" of one game and "beginning" of another.  They all sort of flow into one another.  So stopping to put away the train tracks before getting out farm animals doesn't make sense to them.  After all, they stopped driving the trains on the train tracks and began to drive the tractors on them.  Then they needed the barn and the animals to go with the tractors.  Then they didn't need the tractors anymore because they got out the buckets to haul the animal feed over.  Stopping to pick up the train tracks completely ruins the flow of the game, but that means that by the afternoon, almost every toy in our play room can be spread around the floor.

And I can be ok with that, so long as we can get those toys picked back up.

This is where the clothespin clean up system comes in.

I got out my trusty bag of wooden clothespins that I use for a million and twelve things, and got out several of the shinier, newer ones.  Then, using Sharpie marker, I wrote the name of one type of toy that needed to be cleaned up on one side of a clothespin.  On the other side of the pin, I drew a picture symbol for the toy.  This way an adult or older child helping to clean up can read the name, while non-readers can look at the symbols.  I repeated this step for each type of toy we have in our playroom.

Next, I labelled the appropriate receptacles in our play room for each type of toy, with the matching name and symbol.  We have a cubby system, and baskets, so I just used masking tape and marker to do this, but if you've got the fancy equipment, you could make pretty labels.

To put the system into action, I divide the clothespins evenly between the kids.  They clip the pins to their shirt tails.  Then they go clean up all of the toys that correspond to one of their clothespins.  When they have gotten all of that type of toy up, they return the clothespin to me or the bag that we keep the pins in.

There are a few things that we've learned along the way.  Four of the pins are harder than all the others - kitchen, tool bench, dress up and dollhouse all have many things to be picked up and put away in different areas.  So, we make sure that these are divided equally between the kids instead of one child getting all or most of them.  Also, both of our kids love to do the dollhouse and get it all set up and cute, so we have to take turns having that pin.

The system allows each child to focus on his or her own tasks.  My "bossy" six year old doesn't feel like she has to keep her brother on task.  Nor does she feel like she is going to have to clean everything up if he isn't working.  She can see her definite, fair, to do list, and she can know that her work will be finished when the list is done.  Little brother is learning that the mess doesn't have to be as overwhelming as it may seem, if he just focuses on one item at a time.  He's also learning that if he plays around instead of cleaning, his chores will still be there, and Sofi may not be hanging out while he finishes.

And even one year old baby Elliott is learning that things get put away.  He will sometimes help to put something back where it goes while the kids are cleaning - although more often, he is digging cars back out of the basket.

What type of systems do you have in place to help your kids learn to pick up after themselves?

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Monday, October 22, 2012

Mom Hacks Monday - My Happy Book

I'd love to introduce you to my house organization binder!  This isn't a new concept.  Search Pinterest and you will find several such binders.  I am sharing my incarnation because it is what I have tweaked to work for me and my family, and I've incorporated some easy things into it that make our days much easier.

This is my happy book!

My happy book usually lives on the kitchen counter, opened to one of the following pages.

This is our daily chores page.  We've got the same list of daily chores that we need to go through day after day, and keeping track of what everyone has or hasn't done at any given point in a day can get a little overwhelming sometimes.  So, I wrote down each of our daily chores, side by side, and popped the sheet into a page protector.  Instant daily to-do list!  I can use a dry erase marker or crayon and mark off what has been done, and erase the entire thing in the morning and start over again.  Bonus, the kids love marking off their own chores and I've slipped in a little sight reading for Sofi.

Our weekly page comes next.  Each day has it's own section marked on the page, with a spot for what we are having for dinner, and a blog post idea.  I also wrote down the weekly chores on this page.  I do laundry daily, but I've sorted the type of laundry I do to specific days of the week so that I can stay on top of it and no one runs out of underwear.  The type of laundry to wash each day is written on the page as well.  I slipped that page into a page protector as well, and I can write in my weekly plans in dry erase marker as well.  Some people would have printed this out in all manner of fancy fonts and made a free download of it so that you could have your own.  But I haven't unpacked my printer yet, so I wrote it by hand on this cute paper (that I've been saving for like 8 years now for the perfect project).

Next, a sheet of lined paper slipped into a page protector, to write my random to-dos on.  I can write and erase easily again.  Just think how much paper we are saving here, folks!

Then I added these awesome hand made tabs!  I have sections in my book for a homeschool calendar and time record, notes, homeschool planning, meal planning, hospitality, finances, garden planning, gift and birthday planning, Christmas planning, contacts, a price book, and animal records.

My homeschool record currently looks like this, although I think I may tweak it a bit when I run out of the weeks I have already printed.  In Ohio, we have to cover 900 hours and several core subjects each year.  So, I use this space to simply jot down what we have worked on throughout the day, and how much time we spent on it.  I don't have to detail it, but I can simply jot down different conversations we've had, etc.  At the end of each day, after the kids are in bed, I add up our minutes for the day and write it at the bottom of the column.  We have a goal of 148 minutes per day, and we typically blow that away.  At the end of the week, I add up our daily totals for a weekly total, and jot it in the corner.  I keep track under that of our year to date minutes, so I add this week's to the week before and jot it down.  Easy peasy record keeping, and easily lets me look back over past lessons and activities to see progress etc, as well.

These are the pages I use most.  My notes section simply houses loose leaf notebook paper for lists, quick notes, etc.  Under homeschool planning, I have my copy of the laws for the state of Ohio, along with all of my correspondence with the school district and our letter excusing us from compulsory attendance.  Meal planning houses calendars where I write what I've planned or made for dinner.  I keep the past months for future ideas!  Under hospitality, I keep track of whom we have invited over for dinner, when they came, what foods they may be allergic to, like or dislike, and what we served them.  Finances houses the budget, gardening is my planning space for what the garden will grow in a year, and theoretically a map of what grew where last year.  Gift and birthday planning has records of who I need to buy gifts for, and what I have bought or made for them.  Christmas planning has a list of who I send holiday cards to, plans for crafting or buying gifts, stocking stufferswhat has and hasn't been bought yet.  My contacts are pretty self explanatory.  My price book compares prices on the same product at different stores or co-ops so that I can tell when a sale is a good sale and if it is worth driving across town to get a different price on a product.  Animal records has a separate sheet for each animal in the house (and eventually on the farm) detailing their personal and medical history, where they came from, etc.

And in the front lives my three ring pencil bag with my dry erase markers, pens, sharpies and a highlighter so they are always easy to find.

So, this is how I keep track of what needs to be done in my life, and where I'm at!  I love my happy little book.

Do you have a happy book?  What do you use it for?

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Friday, October 19, 2012

Foodie Friday - Easier Than Hambuger Helper

Over the summer, I was planning a series about whole foods recipes to replace less healthy packaged foods.  A friend requested a Hamburger Helper replacement and I thought that sounded super easy!  At least, until I realized that I have no idea what Hamburger Helper tastes like.  Then, I happened across a few homemade hamburger helper recipes on my Pinterest feed, and took a peek.

I had a few issues with the recipes, though.  Partly from an allergen stand point, the recipes wouldn't have worked for us.  But beyond that, they relied heavily on processed ingredients for flavor.  Bullion, packets of seasoning, powdered milk, etc.  So, I kept "cooking" on the recipes.

I finally decided that what would work for me was the concept of a similar skillet meal, made with fresh ingredients.  And let me just say, what I turned out is not only EASIER than it's boxed counterpart and it's homemade replacement, but it is so good that my pickiest eater chowed it down twice in two weeks and begged me to make it again soon!

So, of course I am sharing the recipe.

Easier Than Hamburger Helper
2 lbs ground beef
2 cups water
1 1/2 cups pasta
Oregano, sage, garlic powder, dried minced onion, salt and pepper
1/4 cup ketchup or seasoned tomato sauce
1 1/2 cups veggies of your choice (optional)
Shredded cheese or cheese replacement (optional)

1. Brown the ground beef in a large skillet.  Drain the grease if needed.

2. Add 2 cups water and the pasta to the beef in the skillet.  I used gluten free pasta shapes, but any pasta will work.  Whole grain pasta is the healthiest option.  At this point, I toss in veggies with mine, because I add veggies to anything I can.  Cut up fresh veggies, or use frozen for more convenience.  I like carrot and zucchini, myself.

3. Add your seasonings.  I give a hearty shake of each, going a bit lighter on the garlic and a bit heavier on the onion.  My husband would be perfectly happy with more garlic.  Seasoning is actually a matter of personal preference, which is something that you don't get from a box.

4. Stir in the ketchup or use tomato sauce and toss in some extra seasonings to add more flavor.  I use store bought, organic ketchup. Ketchup can also be made at home.

5.  Simmer for 15 minutes, or until pasta is done.

6. Add cheese or cheese replacement if desired.

Cooking time: 20 minutes
Serves 4-6

Now, this is one flavor.  If you want to mix it up, just change your seasonings and veggies.  For example, add diced tomato and corn, cilantro, chili powder, and paprika, while omitting the sage for a Mexican style flavor.

I hope your family enjoys this recipe as much as mine does!

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Tuesday, October 9, 2012

New Shoes for Mama

Welcome to the October 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Instilling a Healthy Self-Image
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared confessions, wisdom, and goals for helping children love who they are. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
As I have stated previously, I am good at caring for others, but not so much myself. I model lots of great things for my children - eating well, avoiding toxic things, being thoughtful, speaking kindly and with respect, hard work, and doing our best. But I know that, without meaning to, I model putting yourself last on the list, working hard for everyone else, and ignoring your own needs to fulfill the needs of others. Since these are things that I DO NOT want my children to learn, I've been working really hard at not doing them myself.


But I am getting better.
This is the beginning of a guest post that I have written for Natural Parents Network.  You can find the rest of the post there.  Thanks for checking it out!

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
(This list will be updated by afternoon October 9 with all the carnival links.)
  • Why I Walk Around Naked — Meegs at A New Day talks about how she embraces her own body so that her daughter might embrace hers.
  • What I Am Is Not Who I Am — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama discusses her views on the importance of modeling WHO she is for her daughter and not WHAT she sees in the mirror.
  • Carnival of Natural Parenting: Verbs vs. Adjectives — Alisha at Cinnamon & Sassafras tries hard to compliment what her son does, not who he is.
  • The Naked Family — Sam at Love Parenting talks about how nudity and bodily functions are approached in her home.
  • How She'll See Herself — Rosemary at Rosmarinus Officinalis discusses some of the challenges of raising a daughter in our culture and how she's hoping to overcome them.
  • Self Esteem and all it's pretty analogies — Musings from Laura at Pug in the Kitchen on what she learned about self-esteem in her own life and how it applies to her parenting.
  • Beautiful — Tree at Mom Grooves writes about giving her daughter the wisdom to appreciate her body and how trying to be a role model taught Tree how to appreciate her own.
  • Do As I Say, Not As I Do: Nurturing A Healthy Body Image — Christy at Eco Journey in the Burbs is changing perceptions about her body so that she may model living life with a positive, healthy body image for her three young daughters.
  • Some{BODY} to LoveKate Wicker has faced her own inner demons when it comes to a poor body image and even a clinical eating disorder, and now she wants to help her daughters to be strong in a world that constantly puts girls at risk for losing their true selves. This is Kate's love letter to her daughters reminding them to not only accept their bodies but to accept themselves as well in every changing season of life.
  • They Make Creams For That, You Know — Destany at They Are All of Me writes about celebrating her natural beauty traits, especially the ones she passed onto her children.
  • New Shoes for Mama — Kellie of Our Mindful Life, guest posting at Natural Parents Network, is getting some new shoes, even though she is all grown up…
  • Raising boys with bodily integrity — Lauren at Hobo Mama wants her boys to understand their own bodily autonomy — so they'll respect their own and others'.
  • Sowing seeds of self-love in our children — After struggling to love herself despite growing up in a loving family, Shonnie at Heart-Led Parenting has suggestions for parents who truly want to nurture their children's self-esteem.
  • Subtle Ways to Build a Healthy Self-Image — Emily at S.A.H.M i AM discusses the little things she and her husband do every day to help their daughter cultivate a healthy self-image.
  • On Barbie and Baby Bikinis: The Sexualization of Young Girls — Justine at The Lone Home Ranger finds it difficult to keep out the influx of messages aimed at her young daughters that being sexy is important.
  • Undistorted — Focusing on the beauty and goodness that her children hold, Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children watches them grow, loved and undistorted.
  • Off The Hook — Arpita at Up, Down and Natural sheds light on the journey of infertility, and how the inability to get pregnant and stay pregnant takes a toll on self image…only if you let it. And that sometimes, it feels fantastic to just let yourself off the hook.
  • Going Beyond Being An Example — Becky at Old New Legacy discusses three suggestions on instilling healthy body image: positivity, family dinners, and productivity.
  • Raising a Confident Kid — aNonymous at Radical Ramblings describes the ways she's trying to raise a confident daughter and to instil a healthy attitude to appearance and self-image.
  • Instilling a Healthy Self Image — Laura at This Mama's Madness hopes to promote a healthy self-image in her kids by treating herself and others with respect, honesty, and grace.
  • Stories of our Uniqueness — Casey at Sesame Seed Designs looks for a connection to the past and celebrates the stories our bodies can tell about the present.
  • Helping My Boy Build a Healthy Body Image — Lyndsay at ourfeminist{play}school offers readers a collection of tips and activities that she uses in her journey to helping her 3-year-old son shape a healthy body image.
  • Eat with Joy and Thankfulness: A Letter to my Daughters about Food — Megan at The Boho Mama writes a letter to her daughters about body image and healthy attitudes towards food.
  • Helping Our Children Have Healthy Body Images — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares information about body image, and her now-adult daughter tells how she kept a healthy body image through years of ballet and competitive figure skating.
  • Namaste — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment shares how at barely 6 years old, her daughter has begun to say, "I'm not beautiful." And while it's hard to listen to, she also sees it as a sign her daughter is building her self-image in a grassroots kind of way.
  • 3 Activities to Help Instill a Healthy Self-Image in Your Child — Explore the changing ideals of beauty, create positive affirmations, and design a self-image awareness collage. Dionna at Code Name: Mama shares these 3 ideas + a pretty affirmation graphic you can print and slip in your child's lunchbox.
  • Beautiful, Inside and Out — It took a case of adult-onset acne for Kat of MomeeeZen to find out her parenting efforts have resulted in a daughter that is truly beautiful, inside and out.
  • Mirroring Positive Self Image for Toddlers — Shannon at GrowingSlower reflects on encouraging positive self image in even the youngest members of the family.
  • How I hope to instill a healthy body image in my two girls — Raising daughters with healthy body image in today's society is no small task, but Xela at The Happy Hippie Homemaker shares how choosing our words carefully and being an example can help our children learn to love their bodies.
  • Self Image has to Come from WithinMomma Jorje shares all of the little things she does to encourage healthy attitudes in her children, but realizes she can't give them their self images.
  • Protecting the Gift — JW from True Confessions of a Real Mommy wants you to stop thinking you need to boost your child up: they think they are wonderful all on their own.
  • Learning to Love Myself, for my Daughter — Michelle at Ramblings of Mitzy addresses her own poor self-image.
  • Nurturing An Innate Sense of Self — Marisa at Deliberate Parenting shares her efforts to preserve the confidence and healthy sense of self they were born with.
  • Don't You Love Me, Mommy?: Instilling Self-Esteem in Young Children After New Siblings Arrive — Jade at Seeing Through Jade Glass But Dimly hopes that her daughter will learn to value herself as an individual rather than just Momma's baby
  • Exercising is FUN — Amy W. at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work talks about modeling for her children that exercising is FUN and good for body and soul.
  • Poor Little Chicken — Kenna at A Million Tiny Things gets her feathers ruffled over her daughter's clothing anxiety.
  • Loving the skin she's in — Mama Pie at Downside Up and Outside In struggles with her little berry's choice not to celebrate herself and her heritage.

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