Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Update

July has been a busy month.

I took the kids to Chicago the 15th-22nd and we had a great time. We saw lots of family and did some touristy stuff and chilled with Grandma and Grandpa. It was a very nice week, although exhausting without James there to help shoulder the work. I don't think I'll be traveling alone with the kids like that for awhile!

Gracie is every bit of 4 years old now. She has an imagination that is huge. She is drawing pictures now of objects that are identifiable, people with faces, hair, bodies, hands, etc..... She's also into drawing animals, and flowers and trees, as well as hearts! She has started writing a bit now too, she can write most letters of the alphabet very well and she loves to have me tell her how to spell real words. It's amazing really, to see the light bulb come on and the excitement she has about being able to communicate with writing. I'm sure reading is probably not far behind, she's obsessed with books and learning everything she can get her hands on!

Ian is doing great also. He is talking up a storm now, he speaks full sentences with complete thoughts and he uses pronouns and descriptive words correctly most of the time. He still likes to put s on the end of a lot of words which I think is adorable and I will really miss. He still says opay instead of okay too and he calls Gracie Acie. I will really miss it when he outgrows that. He plays with Gracie sooooo well, he takes her direction and they will sometimes play together for over an hour without any intervention from me. I love those times, like right now. They have been happily playing for almost 2 hours now, it's so nice!! Ian loves Buzz Lightyear and swords and superheros, he's always pretending to be some sort of something. It's so cute to see the imagination in action.

We have gone TV free in our house. I have been wanting to do that basically since Gracie was born but we never dove in. Well this last weekend we put the TV and TV cabinet up for sale and got it out of the living room. It still hasn't sold, it's posted on Craigslist and hopefully will be out of here soon. We still have a TV in our bedroom for the kids to watch the occasional video but the days of daily TV programing are over. There was a lot that went into the decision but mainly it was just becoming an obsession with Gracie, she would watch TV all day if I would let her. The commercialism was getting insane with her wanting every single thing she sees and quoting commercials for Yoplait yogurt......... That and the drama. Gracie has picked up more drama than she needs and has uttered things that I know were because she had seen that spoken on a show. So it was time. Actually it was beyond time, but we finally bit the bullet and did it. I'm glad we did, I know we will all be better for it!

Well, of course now the kids are done playing and need me so I gotta run!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

New Look

I changed some things to make this blog a bit easier to read. Tell me what you think!

Deep thoughts with Alice

We ended up taking Gracie out of the classes we had planned for the summer. Mainly it's because Gracie just does not do pressure or competition well. Like not at all. Her personality is the perfect storm of competitive and perfectionist. When those two things don't line up you are gonna have a hurricane. We went to the Play with a Purpose class once and that was just a disaster. Gracie was the youngest of that group and unfortunately not many of the kids were very friendly. Gracie just does not understand when kids are not friendly. She walks up to people and introduces her self and asks kids if they want to go play. For whatever reason the kids in that group looked at her like she had two heads and would not speak to her. It was weird. It made her really uncomfortable and therefore she lost her confidence.

Sidenote: It's situations like this that really make me feel it is essential to be with my kids when they participate in things and why home schooling is the plan. I feel it is my job as a parent to observe and help and protect them in social situations. She's only 4. I could see her trying, I could see her pain when she was rejected. In a group situation all her feelings, all those little signs she was giving off that told me this wasn't working would never have been observed. In fact, the teacher that was in charge of the group probably would have told me she was quiet and well-behaved. The problem with that is she wasn't being quiet because it is her nature, she was quiet because she was hurting. I was a teacher. I speak from experience and I shutter at all the needs the kids I was in charge of probably had that I was far too busy to notice. Keeping the group under control is the main objective of most childrens programs, meeting their emotional needs is rarely the goal. I now have a visceral reaction to watching kids be herded around in groups. I honestly don't think it's best for them and in turn for society as a whole. Take that as you will, it's just my own observation.

Anyway, back to the topic.....because she lost her confidence she started freaking out about not being good enough and it resulted in major meltdown. She felt the pressure of competition and it did not bode well. She told me she didn't want to go again and I was completely fine with it. I also realized at that moment that most likely we would encounter the same situation with karate, there would be a lot of pressure to perform, she would be at the very bottom of the age group that would be in the class (meaning she would be in class with 6 year olds) and I knew that if she couldn't keep up it would just frustrate her way more than it would be worth.

I've been reading a lot about kids and competition and all that and I'm deciding that avoiding competition as long as humanly possible is probably the best course of action!! Unfortunately we live in a highly competitive society and it is inevitable that the kids will have to deal with it at some point. The problem I see is how much our society equates worth to performance. If you perform well you are valuable but if you fail at competition you are not. I mean, it's much deeper than that but that's the basic premise. It leads to people reaching for approval so badly that if they can't find approval in one group they find it in another. This is where kids and teens especially get into trouble. If they can't get approval, if they aren't valued, if they don't think they are good enough in their parents eyes they will go looking for that approval somewhere. Usually among their friends and usually by doing things that prove harmful.

As a parent I am trying to work out how to convey to my kids that no matter what, I am there. No matter what, I love them. They don't need to work to get my approval. They have it. They will always have it. I will always be there. This is important to me because my childhood (and even still actually) involved a lot of doing what I was told because I wouldn't be accepted otherwise. That was made clear through punishments and threats. And it was really a bad deal because it made me ignore a lot of my curiosities and the things I wanted to do, try, or learn about because they fell on the side of life that was labeled as "bad". Now that I know those things weren't bad at all I find myself wanting to ensure that my kids can pursue whatever they want to with my full support. I don't want them wondering "what if" when they are 33.

You know that song, I Hope You Dance? I bought one of those cheesy little gift books that has the word of that song with pictures and a complimentary single of the song a long time ago, for Gracie for her first Christmas. Silly as it is I really want her to know that I want her to go for and do whatever it is she wants to. I will be there to support her through it, come hell and high water, no matter what "place" she finishes in. She's my daughter and that's good enough.

I Hope You Dance

I hope you never lose your sense of wonder
You get your fill to eat
But always keep that hunger
May you never take one single breath for granted
God forbid love ever leave you empty handed
I hope you still feel small
When you stand by the ocean
Whenever one door closes, I hope one more opens
Promise me you'll give faith a fighting chance

And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance
I hope you dance
I hope you dance

I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance
Never settle for the path of least resistance
Living might mean taking chances
But they're worth taking
Lovin' might be a mistake
But it's worth making
Don't let some hell bent heart
Leave you bitter
When you come close to selling out
Reconsider
Give the heavens above
More than just a passing glance

And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance
I hope you dance
(Time is a real and constant motion always)
I hope you dance
(Rolling us along)
I hope you dance
(Tell me who)
I hope you dance
(Wants to look back on their youth and wonder)
(Where those years have gone)

I hope you still feel small
When you stand by the ocean
Whenever one door closes, I hope one more opens
Promise me you'll give faith a fighting chance

And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance
Dance
I hope you dance
I hope you dance
(Time is a real and constant motion always)
I hope you dance
(Rolling us along)
I hope you dance
(Tell me who)
(Wants to look back on their youth and wonder)
I hope you dance
(Where those years have gone)

(Tell me who)
I hope you dance
(Wants to look back on their youth and wonder)
(Where those years have gone)