Saturday, July 28, 2012

FHE: Communication

We've realized the importance of communication lately and wanted to have a family home evening on it.  We did, and it went really well.  This is what we covered.  Keep in mind, this post is written as though speaking to kids.


1.  Body Language.  Before a word is even spoken, you can tell a bit how a person feels by their body language.  Through our body language we can show such things as anger, boredom, joy, frustration, most anything!  If I look at you with my hand on my hip and a scowl on my face, what does that mean?  Does it mean I'm happy with you?  No.  It means you're in trouble.  If I'm sitting with my elbow on the table and my head in my hand and my eyes are droopy, what do you think that means?  I'm probably bored or tired.  If I look at you, clap my hands, and give you a really happy face, what does that mean? I'm really happy for you!

Should we ever be careful with our body language?  We should.  What if you're at church or school and the lesson is really boring?  Should you try and look bored so your teacher knows how boring her lesson is?  It might be hard not to, but you can try to show respect paying attention and looking interested.


2.  Express feelings:  It's okay to say how you feel -- especially if someone asks you. You want to be honest, but you also want to be tactful.  For example, if your sister asks you if you like her dress, and you don't, you could say, "I think it's really ugly."  That's honest, but you could be nicer and say, "It's okay, but I like that other one better."

If someone asks you a question, too, it is really important to answer them.  If you disregard their question, they will think you are ignoring them, which is impolite.

If a person is, however, being mean and trying to hurt you, you do not have to answer their mean questions (like, "Who do you think you are?  The king of the world?").


3.  Coordinate:  Sometimes you have to plan things with other people.  It is especially important when working with othes to express your feelings about a situation when you are trying to come up with a plan.  Let's say you are planning a party for your dad with your sister.  Both you and she could make a list of all the things you want to do for the party, then pick the best ones to use.  


4.  Compromise:  Sometimes you may have a really great idea for an activity and your sister may have a really great idea for an activity, but you only have time for one of the activities.  What should you do?  You could compromise.  That means to give and take.  Maybe you could use part of her idea and part of your idea at the same time.  Or, if you don't mind saving your idea for later, and just using her idea, then that is okay, too.


4.  The Importance Scale:  Sometimes people will have different ideas and will argue about them.  But, when they get talking about it, they realize that one idea to one person is really, really important -- like a 10 on a scale of 1 to 10, but the idea to the other person really isn't that important -- maybe like a 2.  When both people realize that the idea is really important to one of the people, it is really nice for the person who doesn't care as much just let the person who cares more to make the final decision.

So, let's say we want to paint the house.  We'll pretend that your dad wants the house to be grey and I want the house to be pink.  Let's say we get in an argument over it.  Grey, pink, grey, pink, grey, pink.  Then we decide to talk and see how important this decision is to each of us.  Dad says when it comes down to it, he doesn't really care what color the house is, just that we have a house.  I say, I really, really love pink and I've always wanted a pink house.  When dad realizes that, he is very nice and says, "OK, if it's that important to you, then you can have your pink house."


5.  Interrupting.  What if you have something really important to say?  Should you always say it?  We know you want to, but it is most polite to wait until someone is done with what he or she is saying before you start talking.  Let's say mom is talking to dad and you want to tell them something really important. Can you do your best to wait just a few more seconds?  If you will work on waiting for us to finish talking, we will do our best to let you share what you want before you forget.  We know it's hard to remember what you want to say sometimes.


Conclusion & Discussion
So do you think it's important to communicate well and honestly?  What happens if we don't communicate this way?  Is it easier for people to get their feelings hurt?


Can you think of anything we missed?  Communication is so important; we wanted to get the kids off to a good start.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Post-Dinner & Opera-Style Clean-Up

If you're like me, you're always up for a new tip on how to get the kids to help with housework.  Well, here's our latest if you need yet another idea.

Usually we eat dinner then are off to do something, and we fail to do the dishes or straighten up the house.   Then, my husband and I end up doing housework after the kids go to bed.  I was getting pretty sick of it, and finally said to my husband that the kids should just have to wait for us to get the dishes done right after dinner, and they should help clean up the messes they made.  

So, we tried it.  After dinner, we worked on dishes while the kids de-cluttered.  It was amazing.  I felt so liberated not having to clean up after everyone else.  It also gives me time to exercise after the kids go to bed!

Also, we have one particularly messy, unmotivated daughter (especially when it comes to things she doesn't want to do).  For some reason, though, she thought it was so fun to clean if we gave her the instructions opera style.  She was sad when the whole house was straightened because she wanted to do more (I guess we could have done the basement...).

Thursday, July 26, 2012


I just might be on the verge of getting more sleep, but I've found these interesting when in my sleep-deprived state:

"The effects of sleep fragmentation are similar to the effects of reduced total sleep:  Daytime sleepiness increases and performance measurably decreases.  Among healthy adults, only one night of sleep fragmentation will produce decreases in mental flexibility and sustained attention, as well as impairments of mood" (Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, Weissbluth, 1999, 35).

"It's been known for many years that the effect of lost sleep accumulates over time.  When you constantly have insufficient sleep, the sensation of sleepiness when you should be awake increases progressively. . . .  When adult volunteers have their sleep shortened by a constant amount, you can measure impairments in their mood and performance during the day.  If the sleep disruption is repeated night after night, the actual measured impairments of mood and performance during the day do not remain constant.  Instead there is an escalating accumulation of sleepiness that produces in adults continuing increases in headaches, gastrointestinal complaints, forgetfulness, reduced concentration, fatigue, emotional ups and downs, difficulty in staying awake during the daytime, irritability, and difficulty awakening.  Not only do the adults describe themselves as more sleepy and mentally exhausted, they also feel more stressed. . . " (Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, Weissbluth, 1999, 47).

"Western industrialized societies have such high numbers of sleep deprivation that what is abnormal sleepiness is now considered normal" (from our mechanic's newsletter -- go figure).

It's amazing we mother's survive.  But, it must not be that bad or our Heavenly Father wouldn't have made it that way.  He wouldn't have made it so bad that His Plan would be frustrated by moms passing out left and right, but just hard enough that we could figure out a way to make it all work out.

emphasis added

9/18/12 Update:  I've finished the sections in Healthy Sleep Habits now that I've wanted.  I've quite enjoyed the book.  I really like all the scientific research on sleep at the front of the book.  Healthy Sleep Habits has some differences compared to The Baby Whisperer and Baby Wise, but overall, it's the same idea. One major difference, however, is that Weissbluth does say it's okay to nurse your baby to sleep; whereas, the others don't.  He also says babies actually can't sleep long periods of time before 3/4 months because their bodes are lacking the chemicals to sleep that long.  (i.e. Sleep training really won't work before that age.)  He also says it's okay to still be feeding a baby up to 2 times a night by 9 months (I think it was); the other books lean toward 10-12 hours of sleep without feeds earlier than that.  Because I know my kids have started sleeping 10-12 hours a night from around 3/4 months without feeds, I know the other methods work, or at least encourage babies to sleep longer.  This baby #4 is tougher and the methods do help, but I think Weissbluth's book is a bit more realistic in what actually happens with a baby.  So, I'm shooting for a balance between the different ideas.  Now, I need to go buy myself a copy!

Hope & Healing

My friend, Michelle, at Mormon Women fairly recently created another site called Hope and Healing -- Pornography Addiction Education and Recovery.  She felt this was necessary when she began getting a large amount of traffic about the topic of pornography on her site.  Not only did she create an informative site, she also created a forum where affected women can talk.  She writes,
I felt like I needed to create a separate space where they [wives of addicts] could find information and connect with women who had walked this path (fortunately, there were several women who were willing to help reach out to my readers). I know this is a topic we all don't want to think or talk about, but we are past the point where we have that luxury anymore. Please, get educated. If you are a parent, your kids need you. And there are probably people in your sphere of influence who need support and help, too. There are many great resources that are out there to learn more. We're trying to share them here. And if you know of a wife/ex-wife/girlfriend of an addict, let them know about this. They'll find an amazing community of women who are willing to reach out and give them some encouragement.
So, I just wanted to spread the word about this resource because, as Michelle said, "we are past the point where we have that luxury [not to talk about pornography] anymore." 

Parenting Tip: Show them a good time

Recently, we took a family vacation.  In some ways I've struggled with the last several vacations because, basically, I didn't get one.  As the mother, you know, it's just not all that relaxing.  You're still taking care of everyone and probably sleeping even worse than normal considering you're not at home in your own beds.  When you get home, you still feel like you need a vacation.

Anyway, on this last vacation, I considered beforehand that if I didn't think this was a vacation about ME and MY relaxation, but about sharing experiences with my kids and creating memories, then maybe the whole thing won't end up an exhausting disappointment.

You know what?  It worked!  Now, don't ask me why I didn't figure this out about 9 years ago.

(Sometimes I do wonder why I didn't catch this concept earlier.  When I did my student teaching in Western Samoa, I longed to share those experiences with my family (parents, brothers, sister).  Now I just need to remember that I'm here to share the joys of this life with our kids.)

Monday, July 2, 2012

New Normal

I find it interesting that so often I'm thinking, "I can't wait until things get back to normal."  In a recent Facebook discussion, I learned that things most definitely won't get back to the old normal, but they will get to a new normal.  What a concept.  I'm still trying to figure it out.

Sometimes I get caught up in thinking I should be able to get everything done; I shouldn't be interrupted; I should be able to leave the house without making special arrangements; I should be able to get up at 6 a.m. when my husband does; the house should stay clean; I should be able to walk enough that I can eat whatever I want; I should be able to exercise, too; I should be able to ponder and meditate and be all spiritual.  Sure, these are things that once were, but I need to get used to the new normal -- that I'm going to be really tired a lot of the time; that I won't get much accomplished; that meals just won't be as nice as they once were; that I can't really leave the house; that maybe these last 5-10 pounds just won't go away; that I'm really going to have to fight for my spirituality, etc.

I'm not so sure I want to accept the new normal, but it's reality. 

Sometimes I feel like I'm in a nightmare:  I'm on the ground in a hurricane (the hurricane of crying babies, sleepless nights, messy house, body aches, and interruptions), and there is a helicopter above me that has let down a rope to rescue me. Sometimes I get a handle on the  rope, sometimes I can only smack it, and other times it's just out of reach.  When I try and grab the rope to get away, it gets yanked away from me because the helicopter is blown in the gusts or the mud slips from under me and I fall. Sometimes I feel like it's my kids in the helicopter trying to rescue me, but at the same time they're laughing at me conspiring to wake up at different times throughout the night.  It's odd that the kids are there to rescue me, yet they're the ones causing my troubles.

I think that's where the adjustment needs to come in.  I don't think the kids are really the problem; it's my expectation of normal.  The kids really are wonderful, and I forget that I'm here to teach them, and all those things I WANT are just going to have to fit in later or some other way.

I've been doing some research on an ancestor lately (center, front).  She was born in 1839.  She married into polygamy in her teens (her older sister was the first wife).  After the older sister had her 5th baby, she died leaving all the kids with my ancestor.  My ancestor then had 3 of her own kids (the boy and girl on the left in the picture), but then her oldest died as well as one of her sister's girls.  Soon after that, her husband died in his mid-30s.  My ancestor was only about 25!  She was a widow with 6 kids!  Do you think life was hard?  I can't even imagine.  I shouldn't even be complaining about my life.  Heck.  I didn't even have my first kid until I was 27!

What I've learned, though, was that even though her life was REALLY, REALLY hard for a time, it did get better.  She didn't have helicopter-hurricane nightmares, she actually faced hunger, isolation, and loss somewhat regularly.  However, the kids grew up, she learned, she served, she traveled, and she wasn't so financially pressed.  When she died in her late 80's, life was pretty good, I'd guess. 

<pep talk> So, I've got to keep my eye on the bigger picture.  I need to adjust to the new normal -- the normal that is always changing with each paragraph in my chapter of raising young children.  Life will change; it won't go back to what it once was, but it can become normal.</pep talk>