Posted in Education, Family, health, Opinion, parenting, teaching, toddlers

Behavior Saviors

I read a book about dealing with toddlers recently called Shit No One Tells You

It is a good read but what stuck with me the most is a line in the very beginning. I tried looking up the exact wording but it was basically something like: “I realize I suck at parenting and I’m not used to sucking at things.” *brain explodes*

It was a moment of realization: I have, literally, no idea what I’m doing, at any time when dealing with my daughter. Whatever issue we are facing at the present moment, it is the first time we have faced it with her at that exact age and me in whatever state I’m in. Each day is different and new, which in some ways is exciting and others it’s freaking exhausting.

We have had some issues with my angel’s behavior and it has taken quite the toll on our little family. As much as I blog about parenting and educating your kids at home, I don’t want it to seem that I don’t understand there are things other than reading everyday. When my daughter is throwing things at us and screaming “go away”, trying to get her to read Wocket in My Pocket seems a little unimportant at that moment.

After reading dozens of articles and books, and doing trial and error, I would like to share the few things that work at my house. I say it this way because it does bother me that “parenting” articles (a lot of the time) seem to be “here, this is the way to do and that’s that,” when obviously every kid is different. Some of the tactics just do not work with our little one but hey, the things that I swear by might not work for you either. Remember, we all suck at this.


Stupidest. Advice. Ever. At least I thought that when I read it for the thousandth time. Talking? Really? She just spit on her father and is now kicking a hole in the wall and you want me to talk to that right now? Well yes and no.

I started thinking about it and she is a little person. A two and a half year old with real people feelings and emotions and no where near the experience of expressing them as we have. It’s actually incredible she functions at all. If I couldn’t cuss people under my breath I don’t know how I would make it through the day.

Talking is actually the best thing I have found to do. You have to have patience (which I am working on with her) and you have to be able to read timing. While the fits are happening (some people seem to think you shouldn’t label them fits so if that offends please call them something else like not-so-happy-times) is not the time to talk. That is when your child needs to express their anger, rage, frustrations, and just plain disdain for their little world. They need to cry and scream. So put them by themselves (where you can still hear them, not out in the shed) and tell them you will wait until they are done. My daughter has actually gotten to where she will put herself in time out basically when she needs to cry. It’s amazing. Yes, she’s still crying and upset but only for a short period and she’s recognizing that she needs to deal with those feelings.

When she is done and gets distracted by (insert anything shiny or moving here) then I bring her out and we TALK. We talk, just like normal people but with funny wording. “So, do you know why you were crying?” “Cause, cause I was sad.” “Why were you sad?” “Cause you were mean to me.” “Why?” “Cause you told me no.” “I did, you’re right. You know why? Reese’s Pieces aren’t good to eat for dinner. We need to eat something else first and then you can a piece okay?”

Yes this is a verbatim example.

2. Acceptance

One of the hardest things to have to do when dealing with a child who is having behavior issues is accepting that your child is having behavior issues. It’s hard to hear from a daycare teacher, or from their school, that your kid is beating up other kids or kicking their teacher or burning down the play area (hopefully it’s not the later). It’s probably even harder to witness these problems first hand. Having to yell the words “No, you do not put the kitty in the washing machine” isn’t really the part of parenting you were looking forward to I’m sure. But once you come to terms with the fact that you need to help, you are much better off.


<— Don’t be this



We aren’t doing our child or ourselves any favors by acting like everything is hunky dory when it isn’t. But when do you cross that line between “oh he/she is just a kid” to “okay maybe that is worrisome”? That was something I struggled with for a long time.

After a tough infancy and being used to a very independent (aka stubborn) toddler, I didn’t think behavior/emotional issues were too big of a problem. Until, I started getting the talk from daycare. Once or twice is one thing, but when your child is acting up daily there may be a concern. It started to spill over into bedtime routine as well and I just couldn’t ignore it anymore. I missed my girl. I didn’t know who this screaming little banshee was but she needed to let me daughter come out and play once in awhile.

I looked at our life situation, there are a lot of changes going on for a little one to process. New room, new bed, new daycare, mommy working full time, mommy pregnant, ect ect. It’s just a lot all around. I analyzed her daycare. It’s a very loud and small indoor area (which for her is not good). She needs quiet in order to focus or nap so needless to say she doesn’t nap during the day now. In their defense, the outdoor area is amazing and I know she loves that part of it. I analyzed myself and her father. We both have some work to do in the emotional department! No wonder this poor kid needs help. Accepting is not the easiest part, it may in fact be the hardest. But once I came to that point, it has changed everything.

She is still in the same daycare but the way I’ve approach bedtime has changed. We have started to do everything early, acknowledging she isn’t napping during the day. I also make sure we talk about any feelings she had during to find out some triggers. I have looked at other daycare options as well but for now that isn’t a possibility for me. If you are struggle with your child at daycare then sometimes it’s as simple as they aren’t gelling with their current place. This isn’t to say anything is even wrong with the daycare necessarily, it’s just not a match for whatever reason.

3. Rewards

Again, some people and professionals are against this now. Behavior charts were all the rage, and some parents still swear by them. In schools, most classrooms in elementary still do something along these lines whether it be an actual chart or some sort of points system for good behavior. One class I know had each child create a flower. Whenever they went above and beyond they got to color in a petal. It’s basically rewarding the good and not necessarily punishing the bad.

Okay, I dig it I guess, until it gets to “Okay so we only had two spits, one punch, and one black eye I guess that’s a good day! Here’s a Twinkie.” No. Stop doing that please.

This is something new that I am trying and I will say it’s not always the best or most feasible approach. I don’t think just giving to the fits is the way to go. Yes, the screaming will stop for the time being but your child isn’t learning to cope with the words “no”, “not right now”, or “stop” when you just cave. However, if you can get them calm and talk and show them that good behavior and having patience leads to good things I think that is something that sticks with them. On the flip side, I have read that some parents think this is installing in your child to expect things just for behaving the way are supposed to and it isn’t actually teaching them to make good choices. Just one area I guess I disagree.

Something I am trying for the holiday season is a good behavior tree. A friend of mine bought a little cardboard Christmas tree. My daughter is obsessed with stickers and making a mess so I know she’s going to be all over this thing. My plan of attack is, for the days she comes home from daycare and has been behaving she gets to put some decorations on it. The days she gets in trouble, she can’t. We have done similar things the past few weeks regarding movie time, snacks, ect and it’s really hit and miss. With their not be a consistent prize for good behavior I feel like maybe I need to limit what the reward actually is. This is a work in progress for me so we’ll see how it goes.

(For older kids- tweens and teens check out this post)

4. Quality Time

This is also one that seems like a no brainer. You see your kids every day of life for the most part how much more time do you need to give?

The biggest difference I have seen in my daughter’s behavior came after I took the time to take her on some “dates” as we call them. Again, going from working part time and being with her the rest of the time to working full time has been hard on both of us. Now our dates can be as simple as going to the store and actually playing with things or looking at decorations to getting food together to going to the park. The important thing is that I don’t have an agenda when we do something. We just go with the flow. This is not “I’m running errands and want you to behave so I’m calling it a date” it’s spending time with your toddler.

Feel free to post below anything you have tried and succeeded with your children (or failed miserably there’s no judging here). We all suck at this.

Posted in Family, Gardening, parenting

Garden Fun!

Okay so we know why to start a garden and how but I wanted to post some fun things to do now that you have one!

Again, if you have the space make sure you take the time to plan out seating for your garden. Just having a place outside to sit to do activities and admire your hard work will do wonders.

Also remember that not all kids are the same, some of them will not like getting all dirty and enjoy these activities while some might wish they were getting dirtier.

A good activity to do with kids who are less prone to make mud pies is to do garden planning. Spend the day going around to different gardens, farmer’s markets, and even stores like Home Depot to get some ideas of what you will want in your garden. They can make a list or take photos (disposable cameras probably the best idea). Once you have items listed that your child wants start planning.

Making decorations for in the garden is another activity that doesn’t actually require getting dirty. You can make everything from painted rocks, to labels, to fairy houses. Here are some really ideas for fairy homes that your child can make:

Real Life, One Day at a Time: a fairy gardengarden fairy sign post with 3 signs rustic by NatureScavenger, $12.50This is a good way to help out  birds keep a durable home since the nests are always falling and they end up loosing their eggs. For bird family you can also use  a gallon of milk. Add some straws or a Piece of old clothing to help them stay warm!!!

Also some ideas for the boys:

I love this idea for making mini truck tunnels to create a little construction site in your backyard. My three-year-old (Noah) would love this!IMG_0914_2

I actually think my little girl would love that dino garden…

Anyhoo let’s get dirty-

Obviously letting your kids plant their own seeds and plants is the best way to get them involved. There are some really cute tools out there designed just for kids or just let them bare hand it.

Getting outside in the garden when it’s raining is always fun for kids (obviously not when there’s a tsunami but you know…). Here you can see some ideas I compiled for outdoor rain activities.

If it’s not raining go out into the garden and find a spot that the kids can play in the dirt without disturbing any plants. Bury a few items in there. You can make this game a lot of ways- who left it there? Is that a list left of the items? Is it treasure? Does it have markings of some kind? I couldn’t find any links with some more ideas that go with this but I think you can come up with some cool ones (post below if you do). How to Make a Terrarium

Speaking of digging there’s always the ever fun and ever popular digging for worms! Yeah I know but they are really cool animals if you think about it. They breathe through their skin and some species of earthworms can grow up to ten feet!

How about (for a little older kids) letting them pick out things from the garden to build their own terrarium for their room or to display in the living room. Here’s a great post about doing this with kids:

10 Off-Grid Backyard Games for Your Family ~ Mom with a Prep {blog}There are always backyard games that can enjoyed along side your beautiful garden. This site has quite a few ideas, some I hadn’t seen until stumbling across it.

For little ones consider adding a sandbox or a rock box to your backyard garden. There are pluses to both so do a little research to see which you would prefer having.

For teens getting them involved in all the nitty gritty parts of gardening is a plus. Also I think showing them the payoff of the hard work is even better. If you’re growing anything edible let your teen come up with new dinners to try with the ingredients. If you’re growing flowers let your teen make something that they can give to their grandparents or to the local nursing homes. I know charity isn’t everyone’s thing but most middle school and teenagers react well to making others happy.



Posted in Education, Library, literature, Poetry

‘Her Kind’, Their Kind

I am still struggling with coming up with meaningful lessons for my older students to do next year. This year really got away from me and I know with the centers I have planned I am pretty much already booked. I have started to revisit some of my old favorites in hopes that I would be inspired by them.

In these “centers” I mentioned, there is one for poetry which most students automatically sigh and want to vomit as soon as they see that’s where their name tag is. I, (even as a writer and lover of all things literature) was the same way. School kind of made me hate poetry. If I had to analyze “The Red Wheelbarrow” one more time I was going to put myself in one and roll off of a cliff. I don’t want to do that. I want the students to explore poetry that they will actually like. It wasn’t until I was out of school that I even started to read poetry for fun again and I did end up enjoying some of the poems I grew to hate from having to scrutinize them.

I just reread one of my favorites and I have decided that the students need to just be offered a large variety of poems to read and let me know what they take from it, not what I think, or what the scholars think they should. We obviously will look at imagery and the meanings behind some things they may not understand but all in all I want to know what the poem says to them.

‘Her kind’ by Anne Sexton.

The Three Witches from Shakespeares Macbeth by Daniel Gardner, 1775. © National Portrait Gallery, London Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire and Elizabeth Lamb, Viscountess Melbourne – the most famous political hostesses and society beauties of their day – are shown gathered around the witches’ cauldron alongside their friend, the sculptor Anne Seymour Damer. Date 1775  Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire a...

Posted in Education, Library, literature

Analyzing “The Raven”

At the beginning of the year we (8th grade and I) tried to analyze “The Raven” by Edgar Allen Poe. Naturally, when you analyze anything with 8th graders, and most grades I would say, they want to know “did the author mean to do that?” When going into the mood, the theme, the motifs throughout the poem (and “The Raven” is riddled with them) I was asked this time and time again. For some poems I want to say, “no I don’t think the author was really thinking about that when they wrote it.” For “The Raven,” I don’t know. I am torn because I do believe Poe to be one of the most talented writers ever to be in print and yet there is a piece of me that is like “ehh maybe that was an accident?” I found this blog post that kind of reitterates the argument that I wanted to share.

Guest Blog: ‘The Raven’ – Nevermore.