Friday, February 24, 2012

Should we say "thank you" to children?

I heard once on a radio show that parents should not say "thank you" or "good girl/boy" when a child does something they were told to do. The host said children should know their place, perform their duties, and listen without expecting a reward. Show them who's boss.

It made sense at the time.
doginstructors.com

Then I learned how to horseback ride. And I was told whenever the horse listened to a command, we were to say, "Good girl!"

Then I learned how to train a dog. And I was told to say, "Good job!" or "Good girl!" whenever the dog listened.

Know that I am not comparing my Little Olive to a horse but that I am comparing methods of teaching. Why on earth should I thank a horse but not my own offspring? We say "thank you" and give positive reinforcement to let a horse and a dog know they just did the right thing. We want that behavior to be repeated.

In my extremely knowledgeable 2.5 years experience of parenthood, I think this makes sense, and I've seen firsthand it makes a difference. For example, before nap time today, Little Olive was being very stubborn about putting away her toys. I repeated myself so many times and reworded my directions to give her clear steps: "Pick up the green block, and put it in the blue bin." Over and over and over again. She was testing me for sure. But finally --- she did it! I was very frustrated but managed to say, "Thank you. Now pick up the red block, and put it in the blue bin too." Her expression actually changed when she heard me saying, "thank you" - and she quickly listened this time around. I'm not saying I know all the answers, but I'm happy this works!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Cell Phones - To Use Excessively Or Not

"Omg, you never answer your phoooone."

Well, guess why? Because there are reasonable speculations that cell phones may cause cancer. With everything going wireless and small amounts of radiation flowing from one device to another, we're once again put in a tight spot regarding technology. And because cell phones have only been around for a couple decades, there hasn't been a fair amount of time to conduct any sound studies. But if there's a risk, we at least know about it now and can put some habits into practice. Here are some tips I've collected from my browsing around on this topic, and I will admit I do all of them:

1. Don't carry your cell phone on your person at all times. Keep it out of your pockets and instead keep it a reasonable distance away. For girls this is easy; we have our purses. For guys, I'm not sure what you should do. Maybe buy yourself a manpurse.

2. If you use your cell phone as your alarm in the morning, put it on airplane mode for the nighttime. People also believe the small amounts of radiation can interrupt your sleep.

3. Text when possible instead of calling.

4. If you talk on the phone, try to put it on speaker, so it's not right up against your brain. (But don't forget about cell phone etiquette when doing so! Keep private conversations private.)

5. Try to make longer conversations on a land line.

6. Keep exposure around children to a minimum.

As always, feel free to share any further suggestions or thoughts on this matter!


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Jane's 27 Stitches

Jane pushed her textbooks away with a sigh. "If I have to read one more term about court systems and criminal law, I'll go crazy." A frustrated groan escaped her throat as she wearily rubbed her forehead.

"I hear ya," said Tenley, from across the table. "It's all mixing together at this point."

Jane smiled but saw easily through the white lie. Tenley practically had photographic memory, a near perfect 3.9 GPA, and could answer any question about law without glancing at her notes. She accompanied Jane to the library for this review session mostly out of kindness rather than personal need. Jane appreciated the gesture, but was starting to feel overwhelmed. Coming from a line of successful family lawyers, she felt the pressure more than ever to pass this exam. Not to mention, those loud students a few tables away were treating the library like it was a dance party. What was the world coming to? Why was every person under the age of 20 incapable of having even an ounce of respect for their surroundings? She looked over to see Tenley studying her expression. Tenley tapped her pencil up and down.

"What you need is a break," she suggested.  "Come on!" And started packing up her supplies.

"No, you come on," Jane said emphatically. "The Bar is just about twelve hours away."

"Trust me," Tenley replied. "If you study while you're this stressed, you won't retain anything."

Jane wanted to protest, but a break sounded like the best option at this point. They headed out of the quiet library and onto the streets of the busy college town. Expecting to still see the sun in the sky, Jane grabbed her cell phone. "What?! It's 10:40? How long were we studying?"

"Too long." Tenley looked up the street. "Want to just grab a coffee and chill out for a bit?"

With finals and exams driving people to insanity, the nightlife was more rowdy than usual. One group of young undergrads was swarming a local pub and had taken over the sidewalk. The girls walked around to avoid them. A flirty freshman wearing a sports jersey whistled and winked at Tenley as they walked by. "Oh please," she said as they passed. "You're like a decade younger than I am."

"Seriously--"

"Look out!" someone yelled.

A loud radio, screeching tires, and a bright set of headlights had come swerving around the corner, headed straight for their direction before someone yanked her out of the road. Her foot caught on the curb, and she crashed down into a cast iron bench. For a moment everything was blurry and blindingly painful. Horns were beeping and people were yelling at the speeding car as it vanished down the road. When the roar of the engine had passed, she heard voices asking if she was okay and felt a set of hands helping her to her feet. "Jane! Jane, look at me."

"Holy crap," Jane moaned, holding her wet face.

"Oh my gosh!" Tenley exclaimed. "You're bleeding. -- Really bad..."

"I'm dying!" Jane panicked when she saw her blood-filled hands.

"She needs an ambulance," someone said.

"Let me see." Jane turned to see the Flirty Kid holding her steady.

"Oww..." Jane moaned, tears smarting behind her eyes. "Did you save my life?"

"Kind of," Flirt said. He was looking at her face very seriously and asked to see her cheek. "I'm in pre-med, don't worry." He touched her face carefully, but it caused her to wince and yelp. "It looks like you only need stitches. You should be okay."

"Thanks, Doctor," Tenley snapped. "How about you go back to playing with your G.I. Joes?"

"My G.I. what-?"

"Oh, nothing. I'm taking her to the ER." Tenley held Jane around the waist and started guiding her back down the street.

"Do you need a ride?" Flirt was still there.

"Do you have a license?" Tenley quipped.

"Tenley, stop," Jane said, almost laughing. The smile made her cheek sear with fresh pain, so she spoke slowly. "Sorry...what's your name?"

"Ray."

"Ray, nice to meet you. I'm Jane. Ow. Thank you so much for getting me out of the way." She cringed from talking so much and he waved her off, noticing the pain.

"It's fine, really. I'm just glad you'll be okay." Tenley was giving him an impatient smile, so he backed away and said, "If you need anything just call me."

"Okay, thank you!" Jane called, as Tenley guided her away.

"Yeah, sure, genius, you didn't even give us your number!" Tenley muttered.

Two hours later, Jane was filling out paperwork at the local hospital. A fresh gauze pad was taped neatly to her cheek, covering her brand new stitches. The nurse led her back to the waiting room where Tenley was waiting.

"Wow, you look great! They really did a nice job on you."

"Thanks," Jane said. "I just feel like I can't move my face."

"How many stitches did you have to get?"

"Twenty seven."

"Phew...27. Holy moly, Jane. You have 27 stitches on your face. It really doesn't even look like that. You look great."

On the way home, between yawns (most of which were still painful for Jane), they talked about their night and Tenley swore she would hunt that driver down and sue him for reckless driving and other things that probably weren't even sue-able.

"Tenley," Jane said suddenly. "I got 27 stitches, right? Wasn't Ray wearing a jersey with the number 27 on it?"

"I didn't notice," she said. "But hm...wow."

"Yeah, wow is right."

"You two are meant for each other." She gave a silly, lovey, smile in her friend's direction.

Jane smiled tiredly. "No, but it's just funny how things happen..."

Feeling tired, humbled, and grateful, Jane knew she would forever be indebted to Ray for what he did that night. Even if he was only eighteen, she thought he had been the most courageous person in her life so far.

"Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe."
1 Timothy 4:12

Friday, February 10, 2012

Upset at Hunger Games

This week's topic is Upset. Very fitting, if you ask me because I just finished reading Mockingjay - the last book of the Hunger Games trilogy. If you haven't read the books and plan to, you should probably stop reading right now. Major spoiler alert below.





Seriously.






I'll give you a few more empty lines to avert your eyes and not spoil anything...







If you have read the books and want to join in the discussion, continue below:





First of all, I loved, loved LOVED the first book! Seriously, could not put it down! The writing was captivating. Simple, I think, but creative and thrilling. The characters very well-developed and believable, though a tad typical. Katniss was a little irritating to me. She was angry 99% of the time, but she had good reason to be, so I let it slide. The storyline - eerie as all heck. Seriously, teenagers killing each other? Horrible. The Capitol had way too much control. Very 1984ish if you ask me. But such a great book. The love story was just perfect - though it had me begging for more at the end. Peeta or Gale? My choice was Gale. 100%. Even though Peeta was awesome too, I'll admit. But come on, Gale was it. You could just tell.

Was literally going crazy until I had Catching Fire in my hands. Plowed through the book faster than the first. Page 96? Amazing! But as it got going, it became heavy...very sad. Predictable in some ways but threw me through a loop in others. Such a traumatic ending. Felt hesitant to read the third.

But I read the third. Took me a few days...but I'll admit...I really didn't enjoy it anymore. It felt very rushed, and the writing was confusing. Gale was turning into Mr. Jerk, and I didn't know why. I felt like the author didn't have a good explanation for why Katniss wouldn't pick him, so she started leaving him out and only including him for a miserable fight with Katniss here and there. I kept hoping they would make up and make it through together, but it just got worse.

The war/rebellion was brutal, realistic, and Katniss' mood only made it more dreary to read. The ending was beyond confusing for me as I had to read several pages over again to understand what had just happened. Wait, Prim died? Because of Gale? Are we serious... way to lamely get rid of Gale. It truly made me upset. Nothing against Peeta. He's like the nicest guy - but so bland, in my opinion. And didn't he hate her for 3/4 of the book anyway? I know it wasn't his fault, but still.

And at the last minute, we find out President Coin is evil? And President Snow told the truth? Katniss never even dug around to find out about anything. To find out if Gale was responsible.

She just went home, eventually married Peeta, and eventually had children...and yeah. That's how the book ended.

I understand it's a very realistic way of displaying war, trauma, and human pain. But this is geared toward young adults, like young teens. I'm sorry. I'm almost 25 years old, and these books shook me to pieces (not to mention Cato's death seriously had me growing nauseous). I don't think someone half my age should really be reading this. Not saying they should be sheltered or only read about rainbows and unicorns, but this felt very, very intense to me.

On the flip side, I'm very sensitive, so maybe this affected me more than it will others. But I hope I'm not alone in the fact that I wanted somewhat of a happy ending. At least just have let her be with Gale...maybe that's all I really wanted. That makes way more sense than being with Peeta. She felt doomed at the thought of marrying him in Book 2, did she not? It seemed like she would have wanted Gale in the end.

Thoughts are welcome!

My Little Etsy Shop

I was very excited when I opened my e-mail one morning to find I had made a sale on my Etsy shop. This is an occasional and exciting moment for me. I immediately listed the second copy of the item and went about my day. Before an hour had even passed, two separate people contacted me about it - one of them wanted a custom order of several sets. I gave myself time to think about whether I wanted to accept the challenge of making nearly 75 more items, but before I could even respond, the second listing sold to a completely different person!

My etsy was smokin' that day!

Later that day, I went to the fabric store and stocked up on more material. It's soothing to sit at the sewing machine, hemming those cloth wipes/napkins/washcloths, getting into a nice rhythm. I'm almost done with a few new sets, so keep an eye out for them!

Friday, February 03, 2012

Some Yummy Foods

Food and me get along very well. We are best buds. Soul mates. Awesomesauceness. So in this little post, I want to share three of my favorite recipes with my Very Advanced Readers.

Squash Soup
photo credit to simplyrecipes.com

I give full credit to my older brother for this one. He made it for me the day after Little Huck was born, and I instantly fell in love with this warm, seasonal, aromatic dish. He told me what was in it, so here is the recipe I use whenever I try to replicate it. This makes about 4-6 servings. Usually I double the recipe to last us a few days.

Ingredients
1 onion diced
1/2 stick butter (I'm a butter lover)
1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup milk (heavy cream is awesome too)
A few Tbs brown sugar
Spices to taste: cinnamon, ginger, allspice, nutmeg.

Sautee onion in butter. Add in squash and cup of broth. Add a few tsp of spices. Cover and lower heat. Cook for about an hour. When squash is soft, add milk. Scoop half of contents into a blender. Repeat with the second half. Add brown sugar and more spices if you'd like (I always do, but I'm a huge pumpkin pie girl). Then let it cook on low for a few minutes before serving.

Seriously...the best soup in the world!


closetchef.ca
No Knead Bread

I have to thank my sister for finding this recipe on Pinterest.
It is the most delicious, easy bread I have ever made or eaten. One thing you have to know ahead of time:

1. You will need a lot of time to make this!

I'd start the dough the night before if you want it for dinner the next day. Total rise time is between 16 - 20 hours. But you barely need to do anything. And my bread looked just as amazing as this picture. So delicious. Perfect to go with your squash soup!


No Bake Energy Bites

Another amazing idea found on Pinterest. Instead of copying the recipe, I'll send you right to the source: Smashed Peas and Carrots. Little Olive and I make these about twice a week. I have yet to use the flax seed, but they taste amazing even without it. (Hmm...we love almonds over here. I'm going to try them this week with sliced almonds.) The only "bad" thing in here are the chocolate chips, so I never feel guilty about snacking on them or letting L.O. eat several throughout the day. They are super easy and so yum.

Have a favorite, easy recipe? Share away in the comments below!

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Review of Daisy Cavalier

I never actually named my first car, officially. But when the topic came up (the two times that it did), I immediately thought of the name Daisy. So in honor of this week's topic, "Reviews", I'm going to tell my GBE2 friends about my first car.

I believe I was 18 when I started looking for one. I had a part-time job at the movie theater, the same one I met my husband at, and saved all my money like a desperate bandit. My dad gave me tips on what to look for as I scanned the classifieds. Low mileage, little to no rust, year, previous accidents, and whether it needed expensive work like new tires or a radiator. Together we found a promising looking ad and went downtown to check it out. A middle-aged man was selling his son's car. A '97 Chevy cavalier. Black. Two door. Tinted windows. "It is what it is," repeated the man 50 times while my Dad inspected every last inch of the car. It was awesome.

The AC fan was busted, so my dad talked him down a few hundred dollars. Even the heavy scent of Febreze pouring out of the windows couldn't mask the slightest hint of smoke hidden inside. So for $2,200 I bought my own car.

After trips to the DMV, and calling companies to get vehicle insurance quotes, we slapped on my first set of plates, and I got to drive it home. It was such a great feeling. I must have looked like the silliest, little punk alive, driving this sporty car around in a pink shirt and playing Kelly Clarkson on the radio. But let me tell you, that car lasted me a great many years. I was sad when I finally had to sell it. Being pregnant and all with Little Olive, the rusted brake-lines were not safe anymore.

Of course, I replaced it with another Cav - this time a four-door. You don't see many these days for sale...those Cavaliers. But I have only fond memories. I'm sure wherever Daisy is now, she's being taken care of and is happily driving around a carefree teenager...who of course is going the speed limit. (Obviously...)