Sunday, January 30, 2011

Our Kids and the Power of Our Words

Something that has been on my heart and in my thoughts a LOT lately is the power of our words when we speak about our kids.

We've all done it... or at least heard someone do it...

You are out and about, and your child is behaving really well. A stranger or maybe a friend stops to comment:

"She is such a good girl!"

And then it happens. You reply with a "Well, she's not always this good. You should see her at home. I'm just waiting for her to fall apart any minute."

I don't know why we do this as mothers, but it seems like we often feel the need to temper positive, glowing comments about our child with more realistic ones that remind others of our child's many imperfections.

I have definitely been guilty of this on more than one occasion and have also heard many other Mama's do the same thing.

Lately, it has really come to my attention how much these words affect our children's behavior.

We may not realize it, but our kids hear the comments we make about them. And it really does affect their behavior in a negative way.

Kids live up to the reputation you give them.

If you are constantly referring to them as a troublemaker or a sassy-pants, they will live up to it. That is why it is SO important to speak positive words about our kids every chance we get, look for the best in them and give them a good reputation to live up to.

I was recently talking to my friend Cassi about this, and she recounted a child psychology study she read that really impacted her. It went like this: (sorry if I butcher it, Cas!)

A couple had a little girl who was quite the little discipline problem. She was always getting into mischeif. Therefore, they had given her the nickname of "Little Devil." They would say it affectionately, like "Here comes our little devil!" I'm sure they didn't mean to be critical and just thought it was a silly nickname for a sassy little girl.

Upon asking for advice on how to deal with their child's behavior issues, someone suggested that they begin calling their child a more positive nickname. So instead of "Little Devil" they began calling her their "Little Lamb."

And the miracle is that within a week or two, this little girl's behavior completely turned around. Just from that one change. Her parents gave her a reputation of being a sweet, gentle girl, and she lived up to it.

Isn't that amazing? We as parents are largely responsible for our kids' self-esteem and helping them to identify who they are. When we speak positive words into their lives, even if it's not always true in that moment, we are helping to shape their personality is such a positive way.

Of course behavioral issues need to be addressed and dealt with. Those of you who know me know that disrespect and disobedience are not acceptable in our home. BUT the words we use when we deal with these things are HUGE in determining our child's behavior.

I've really noticed with Bennett how down he gets when I use negative words regarding his behavior. He shuts down, and I really can't get through. For instance one of the issues we have been dealing with is play-hitting and being too aggressive at school. My natural tendency is to say something like:
"Bennett. You NEED to stop hitting your friends at school. You really have a problem with keeping your hands to yourself. That is unacceptable."

All of those things are true. Hitting is not acceptable. But the problem is, this statement gives my son the reputation of being an aggressive hitter. It doesn't really help him. It just makes the problem worse.

So lately, I've been trying something more along the lines of this:
"Hey Benny, I want to talk for a minute about hitting your friends. You are a sweet, gentle boy, and that's not the way sweet, gentle boys treat their friends. I know your heart and that you don't want to hurt others. You want to please Jesus! Let's really work on keeping our hands to ourselves next time."

Notice, that I'm still addressing the behavior as unacceptable. I'm not giving him the impression that he is perfect and can do no wrong. And he will probably still have a consequence. ("I know you want to do the right thing, so Mom is going to help you remember not to hit by taking away your TV privileges for the rest of the day.") The main difference is not the end but the means. There are still consequences, but just explained in a different way.

And you know something... it works! A few weeks ago, Bennett's teacher pulled me aside to tell me how great he has been in school and how he has blossomed and developed so much more self-control. I really see so many more behavior improvements when I am using positive words.

Think about it. What do YOU respond better to? Let's say you said something really unkind about another person and a friend approached you about it.

Would you respond better to this,
"Wow, that was mean. I didn't realize you were such a mean person. I'm so disappointed in you."

Or this?
"I was really surprised to hear you say those unkind words, because you are such a sweet person. Is everything okay?"
Which one would turn your behavior around and cause you to have a change of heart? For sure, the second one. The first statement would just make you angry, embarrassed and probably cause you to say more unkind words.

I'm definitely no parenting or psychology expert. I get it wrong more often than not. But this just makes so much sense to me and has been so helpful that I thought I'd share. Maybe you have a recurring problem that your child is dealing with. I really encourage you to speak as many positive words as you can in that particular area, giving your child a great reputation to live up to. Please let me know if it works for you as well as it has for me!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Today: A Pictoral Guide

Here's what we've been up to on this beautiful, sunny Saturday...

Nothing earth shattering... just playtime, coffetime, playtime, lunchtime and playtime again. But as mundane as they sometimes feel, I think these days and moments are the memories I will cherish most when my kids are grown up.


So today we...

...made Gotham City on our chalkboard table. I had a very particular architect guiding the city plans and all the dwellings for the bad guys.
Then we made heart-shaped multi-colored crayons using old crayon pieces. Find out how here.

Didn't have time to take pics of the finished products of these because we were off to...

...ride bikes and have a picnic in the front yard.

Excuse us... we are still working on sitting like a lady. But isn't she precious?!

Finally, after Mallie went down for her nap, Bennett and I worked on making/compiling a "Riddler" costume for him. He is SO into Batman right now. The Riddler is one of his favorite characters, and he has been begging me for a Riddler costume. So I went the cheap route and decided to piece one together for very little money.
Here's what the Riddler looks like:

And here's my Riddler.

The main thing Bennett wanted was the hat, which I got at the party store for $2. It's just one of the plastic Leprechaun hats they sell for St. Patrick's Day. But boy was my little man excited about it.

To complete the costume, I cut a quick mask out of leftover stretchy black fabric I had. Then I did a freezer paper stencil of a question mark on a green shirt we already had (which had a big stain on it, so it was perfect for this project!).

Now I have a few more precious minutes of quiet time, and I'm off to read a few pages of my book and drink an afternoon cup of coffee to the sounds of my little Riddler playing in the other room.

Hope everyone had a great Saturday!

Friday, January 28, 2011

STUFF: A New Policy

My friend Gina just wrote this post asking for ideas on how to limit all the stuff that accumulates in our homes, especially once we become parents. I shared with her and thought I'd also share with my myriads of readers (hardy har har) a new policy I'm implementing in our home.

Here's what I shared with Gina:

I'm trying to implement this new policy at our house...
For every new thing I bring into my home, I donate one old thing. That means that if the kids get a new toy, one old toy gets donated. Or if I buy a new pair of shoes or a new shirt, something else from my closet has to go. I like it because it not only encourages us to have less stuff/clutter and be generous to those in need BUT it also really keeps my buying in check when I know that I'll have to get rid of something else. It really helps me to stop and think before purchasing something. "Is this item really worth bringing into my home? What other item will it be replacing?"

We've had this policy for a while in regards to Christmas and Birthdays. But lately I've been trying to use this rule of thumb in all areas and seasons. Of course there is room for flexibility here, but for the most part, I am sticking to this rule on a daily basis (with the exception of groceries, of course).

I'm hoping that the more we stick to this rule, the less clutter we will have around the house and the more my children will learn the virtue of gratefulness and the value of money.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Get BACK to Work, Woman: Re-Vamping My Weekly Chore Chart

Ever since Bennett started school, I've kind of fallen off the bandwagon with my weekly chore chart. That wagon o' melodies just keeps on keeping on, and I'm left in the dust holding a rusty Banjo.

I think the main reason is that our schedule has changed so much this fall, and the old chore chart didn't really fit with our new schedule.

So here is the new chore chart in all it's organized glory. I've kept all the elements the same. Basically I just moved things around to different days that make more sense for our family now. For instance, grocery shopping got moved to Tuesday because that's the day that I drive the school carpool. (oh my gosh, I sound so matronly when I say things like that) Anyway, it's the prefect day to run this errand because I only have one child with me, and I'm out anyway with time to kill.

Laundry got moved to Thursday because this is the day my friend drives the carpool, and I'm home with just Mallie Gal for a huge chunk of time, which is perfect for washing, sorting and playing sock basketball (more on this family favorite later).

Day for God and Family. No work!

  • Plan Meals for the Week and Make Grocery List
  • Clean Out Fridge (making room for new groceries tomorrow)


  • Grocery Shopping
  • Dust


  • Clean Bathrooms


  • Wash and Put Away Laundry


  • Vacuum
  • Mop Floors


  • One Monthly Chore (see below)
  • Catch Up on Any Missed Chores or 30 Minute Organizing Session

Monthly Chores:

  • Clean Out Kids' Closets/Store Clothes That Don't Fit
  • Clean Out Pantry
  • Spot Clean Carpet
  • Clean Windows/French Doors

Obviously not every week will look exactly like this. Knowing me, most weeks will not.

But at least I have a plan in place, and that allows me to be flexible and still accomplish some key tasks around here.

And the best part is, once my daily chores are done, that's it for the day... no need to stress out over all that needs to be done. And I can be one step closer to my goal of being fully present with my kids when we are playing, instead of running though a mental list of tasks.

By golly, I feel back on the old Bandwagon already!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Trader Joe's Product O' the Whenever: Cinnamon Schoolbook Cookies

I purchased these little gems for the first time the other day, and they are definitely "Product 'O the Whenever" worthy.

Each tub o' deliciousness includes the alphabet from A to Z and even some numbers too!

In addition to their delicious snicker doodle-esque flavor, they have been great for encouraging my Bennett boy to sound out short words.

He is more than eager to learn his blends when a tasty cookie treat awaits him at the end!

Wow... that rhymed! I'm a poet and I didn't know it!

Anyway, there is a lot of fun to be had with these cookies. Like this morning... Bennett found a surprise waiting in his yogurt at breakfast.

Think about how many fun things you could do with these cinnamony confections... I found this fun recipe online, which features said cookies. I will be making these treats for Bennett's class in February!
You could also use them to spell out a message on your child's birthday cake, play edible scrabble, send a secret message in your child's lunchbox...

Or you could just spell out your own name and decorate it with doodles... if you are slightly pathetic and hopelessly dorky like yours truly!

Yes, that is a backwards 3 taking the place of the "E." Hooray for improv!

Whatever you do with them, these cookies spell out WONDERFUL every time!

Friday, January 21, 2011

10-Minute Makeup for Busy Mamas

I often hear Mamas say that it takes too long to put on makeup, that they just don't have time to mess with makeup since they've become a Mama.

So, being a busy Mama myself and a lover of ALL things makeup, I thought I'd share my favorite 10-Minute Makeup routine.

Now, don't get me wrong. I have many a day where I stay in my PJ's all day without a lick of makeup.

But I do find that getting ready and putting on makeup, even if it's just a little, does make me feel more put-together, productive and ready for the day. As nice as those "pajama days," are, they often leave me feeling "blah."

At the same time, I personally don't think you need a full face of beauty-pageant-ready makeup when you're wearing your track suit and chasing your kids through the park.

So I reserve my "20 minute makeup" for special occasions and evenings out and do "10 minute makeup" on a daily basis.

Also: Dont expect rocket science, here. I'm no makeup expert... just a Mama searching for the balance between playtime and beauty time.
Here's the Breakdown:

Step One: Moisturize (1 Minute)

I recommend:
Trader Joe's Regenerating Antioxidant Face Lotion -- You could spend upwards of 75 bucks at Sephora for a similar face cream. I can't believe TJ's is able to offer something so high quality for so few dollars. Wait a minute... yes I can believe it! I love the cleanser too!

How To: Gently massage your moisturizer into your skin, using upward motions. Don't skip this important step! It will make your makeup go on SO much better! I like to do this step right after getting out of the shower and then get dressed, do my hair, etc. before applying my makeup. That way your moisturizer has time to soak in before you put your face on, so to speak.

Step 2:Foundation and Concealer: (2 minutes)

I recommend: Bare Minerals. It provides perfect coverage for a Mama on the go... you won't have that foundation-y look. As a bonus, it has a built-in SPF!

How to: Lightly sweep foundation on your whole face in circular motions. Then use a concealer brush to cover up any blemishes using the same foundation. (Often makeup experts will say to conceal first, then put on your foundation, but I personally think it works better this way.)

Step 3: BLUSH! (1 minute)

I cannot tell you what a big difference I think blush makes in the overall healthy look of your skin!!! If I only have time to put on two things, it is without a doubt always foundation and blush! It will take you from drab to fab in not time!

I recommend: Benetint. Buy it! Seriously. You won't be sorry. I absolutely LOVE this stuff and can't live without it. It is so quick and gives you the perfect, natural rosy glow!

How to: Apply three dots of Benetint to the apple of your cheeks and pat to blend in. Add more if necessary.

Step 4: Extra Eye Help (1 minute)

Let's face it, we Mama's need a little extra help around our eyes... so that all the sleepless nights, crying in the pantry and plain old stress don't show.

I recommend: Ooh La Lift by Benefit. This little miracle is just what you need to perk up your eye area and make you look like a more well-rested and vibrant version of you.

How To: Apply three dots to the under eye area and outer corners of eyes (the crows-feet area) and lightly blend in. Do this after under-eye concealer to help combat that "reverse raccoon-eye" effect that concealer can sometimes give you.

Step 5: Eyes (3 minutes)

How To: I'm giving you the how-to first this time so the products I'm recommending will make sense. First you want to apply eyeshadow. For sake of time and not looking too made-up, I usually just do one light shimmery color all over my eyelids. Next curl your eyelashes to open up your whole eye area and make you look more awake. Finally apply a coat of black mascara. Super quick and simple.

I recommend:

"But wait!" you say. "That's only 8 minutes!"

Right you are, old chap! I came in with two minutes to spare! Boo-ya!

So go ahead, take your time! Relish those extra two minutes! Or rush and be done in 8 minutes.

Either way, you will look positively radiant, I do declare.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

On Motherhood and Priorities: A Musing Examination

I began this New Year o' 2011 with some resolutions.


I am SO good at making resolutions...

...and so bad at keeping them.

So this year, to help whip myself into resolution-keeping shape, I decided to journal my progress of said resolutions bi-weekly.

Yesterday I had my first "resolution-check in" session during my morning quiet time. And I'm doing okay. Not perfect, but okay.

I think one of my problems is that I try to make big changes overnight as opposed to looking at the resolutions as a process. For instance, I'm not just going to become an organized person overnight, but I CAN become more organized, little by little so that when 2012 comes around I can look back and say, "Yeah... I have definitely made some progress in this area."

That's what I'm shooting for in 2011... not cut and dry one-time changes, but slow and steady progress.

I wanted to share some musings from my journaling evaluation o' resolutions from yesterday:

Isn't it interesting that I'm doing the worst at keeping the goals that matter most (like reading my Bible and praying more consistently and my parenting and marriage goals) and doing the best at keeping the goals that really don't matter in the long run (getting organized, blogging more consistently, etc.) Lord, please help me to prioritize! Please give me a vision for each day and the self-discipline to see it through. God, help me to pursue what really matters first each day and then move on to other things if there's time.

I feel like some buzz words for 2011 are:

These are words which really describe the heart of what I need to work on in my life. Each and every one of the goals I have written down in some way relates to one of these words. So I guess I can consider these my real resolutions for 2011.

Here's hoping that when 2012 rolls around, I can look back and, with God's help, say that I'm a more consistent person, more focused on the things that matter and living more simply.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Pow! Bam! It's Batman!

While hunting through our DVD's the other day, Bennett happened upon our copy of "The Dark Knight."

You know... the Batman movie Heath Ledger won an Oscar for after portraying a very dark and sinister Joker?

Bennett, seeing Batman on the cover, began BEGGING me to watch it.

In a word, NO.

Obviously, I would never let him watch it, but he has been SO persistent, thinking it is a Batman movie for kids. He will absolutely NOT let up on it...

Bennett: "Mom, can I watch it when I'm 40?"
Casey: "Yes."

Bennett: "Can I watch it when I'm a Daddy?"
Casey: "Yep!"

Bennett: "How about when I'm 5?!"
Casey: "Nope."

The sight of our brokenhearted, dejected little Batman -lover moping around all forlorn spurred me to action. Or should I say...


I purchased the amazingly corny, non-violent and PG-rated "Batman the Movie" with Adam West from 1966. I got it for $4 on Amazon, and Bennett LOVES it!

I surprised him Thursday at the beginning of "quiet time," and after many gasps and awe-filled "Thank You, Mama!"s and of course a detailed examination of the cover including a comparison between each of the characters with his own Batman figures, we began watching it.

I watched with him for awhile and then excused myself to get some work done around the house. As I worked in the the next room, I kept hearing him cracking up and saying "Woo Hoo!" when Batman "Pow! Bam!"-ed the bad guys or "Whoa!" when Batman did something exceptionally noteworthy. It was more precious than words.

And afterwards, we played Batman Castle and acted out Batman (I'm Catwoman... Meow!) for the rest of the night!

It brought me such absolute joy to see the delight in his sweet little face.

I love Batman Clark Anderson!

Friday, January 14, 2011

A Personality Revelation: The Languages of Apology

Several years ago, my husband and I heard about the book The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman, and we really think it is an awesome marriage/relationship tool. It helped us understand ourselves and the ways we give/receive love. I highly recommend reading it, if you haven't already.

Well, now I just discovered that the same author has another book called The 5 Languages of Apology and WOW! What a revelation into myself and what I am looking for when others have wronged me. I took the assessment at the bottom of the page, and I scored highest in the "Expressing Regret" category.

My secondary language was "Accept Responsibility."

I definitely resonate most with the "Expressing Regret."

I am super interested to see what McPreachy scores, and I think this could be very helpful to me as I try to apologize in a way that is meaningful to him.

Check it out, and let me know what your results are!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

10 Years Ago...

... I married the love of my life.

Happy 10th Anniversary to my wonderful, thoughtful, honorable, endearingly nerdy, logic-loving, pancake-making, problem-solving, sermon-preaching, penny-pinching, rule-breaking, over-researching, makes-me-laugh, loves-me-unconditionally, hot stud of a man.

You are the most amazing husband, and I'd be lost without you.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Vintage-esque Necklace: A Christmas Gift Re-cap

This year I made 80% of our Christmas gifts, which was 95.5 % wonderful.

The .5% big bummer is that I couldn't post all the fun crafts I was making since several of my 5 blog readers were future recipients of said crafts. So now that Christmas has come and gone, all the gifts safe and sound in their new homes, I can come out of hiding and show you a fun necklace I made for a few BFFs.

I got the idea from this darling blog/store. I Love the AMAZINGLY cute necklaces they make... but couldn't really afford that price tag.

So I ordered some 1 inch chandelier crystals here.

Then I ModPodged fabric on the back of said crystals and attached them to a chain purchased at Michael's. Simple!

Let's take a closer look, shall we?

For the packaging, I just took some cream-colored ponies... er... card stock and made 2 slits in the top, which I slid the chain into. Then I tied it all up in a cellophane bag with a pretty ribbon.

The gift tags were made using Trader Joe's Holiday Bags, thanks to a tip from my friend Katie. They were free and SO fun to make. Here's how.

Another fun gift I made this year were coffee cozies! I made a few for friends and also for Bennett's teachers. They were so cute wrapped up with homemade chai tea mix or with a Starbucks card tucked inside the cup.

Here's a picture of the cozie I made for myself.

I was inspired by these darling cozies sold on etsy.

So there you have it... those are just a few of the things I was up to all December long!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Blogspiration: The Best Chapstick Ever!

For Christmas stocking-stuffers, I made this chap stick recipe from Passionate Homemaking...

...and it is seriously the best chap stick I have ever used.

Now I know I am prone to exaggeration, but this time I'm serious. If you don't believe me, let me first mention that I am a complete chap stick snob. I am very particular when it comes to my lip balm. I don't just lose my head in wild infatuation... I am very level-headed when it comes to such serious matters.

But this one stole my heart... I am in love.

It is amazingly moisturizing, but not greasy or waxy. It has a subtle scent and creamy consistency. It is free of dyes, perfumes, chemicals and most importantly, petroleum (which is NOT good for your lips, though it's in almost all chap sticks). It is the perfect chap stick.

It was very easy to make even if you aren't into making your own beauty products.

A few notes:
  • I made mine on the stove top in a glass bowl over a pot of simmering water (not a crock pot like Lindsay did).

  • I added a bit (not too much) of peppermint and vanilla essential oils. Cinnamon would be scrumptious too!

  • I purchased all my supplies on Mountain Rose Herbs.

Make a bunch and give them as gifts... or hoard them all for yourself! :0) Either way, your lips will be luscious and moisturized.

Happy Smooching!