Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Be'll never regret it

I'm a busy mom.  All moms are busy.  In the past couple of years, I have felt overwhelmed with the amount of commitments I allow myself.  This year though, I am determined to handle everything.  In order to do this I had to realize what I was doing wrong.  There had to be a root to my stress.  I knew that I couldn't keep all the plates spinner if I could just put my finger on what was causing me to drop them all in the past.  It was lack of organization.

Organization has always been a struggle for me. I pile things up telling myself I will sort it out later.  But I never do.  I never follow through with containers, binders, labels, etc.  Not anymore.  I took on the role of PTA president this year and I'm a Girl Scout Troop Leader.  If I drop plates, there are parents and kids relying on me to be consistent, transparent, and communicative.

Tonight, I held our first parent meeting of the year for Girls Scouts.  I am very proud of myself for creating a binder to stay organized.  Of course I had to get it in green and made a cover sheet.  I loved the vintage GS picture of the different levels of girls from days past.

Inside, I have tabs for the following topics: troop meeting plans, troop budge/expenses, calendars/newsletters, permission/health forms, brownie patch tracker, daisy patch tracker, Sandpiper Community Meetings, and trainings.  I am using sheet protectors to keep agendas, minutes, and forms that I need multiple copies of.  The only problem is that when I use page protectors, I can see my table labels but I'll find a solution eventually.

I'm also going to help keep my parents and girls more organized.  I borrowed a folder idea from this organized troop leader.  Each Brownie will get a green (brown folders are impossible to find!) plastic folder with their name on it.

I fell in love with Jen Allen's blog I am Girl Scouts.  She has tons of templates you can type into for free.  Her designs are colorful and fun.  Her Girl Scout Promise and Law page is the front cover.  I think I am a bit of a traditionalist in this aspect.  I think everything we do has connect to the promise and law.  These statements are our mission and give us purpose and direction.  They bind us together in a sisterhood.  All my Brownies have the promise memorized.  We will be working on memorizing the law this year. 

The next pack is Jen's Troop Snack Calendar.  I left mine blank. The girls will write it in at each meeting (being responsible for what I say and do).  Some troops set up a schedule but we choose new kapers at the end of each meeting.  My girls enjoy this process.

 The next page is the Girl Scout Promise using sign language.  I am going to teach my Daisies using sign language.  It's a tactile way to learn it, fun, and adds a multicultural element to our meeting. 
On the inside left pocket is a label with the leader contact information. 

I will add an envelope for dues and resource pages as the year progresses.  If the girls have "scoutwork" (instead of homework) this is where it will go.  These folders aren't as bulky as the girl guide binders.

I am also pretty proud of my little newsletter.  I borrowed the Troop Scoop from something I saw on pinterest but haven't been able to find it again.  All in all I am having a great time.  I have amazing parents who are willing to step in and plan events, parties, lessons, field trips.  They are generous and love their kids and love our troop.  It makes the volunteering part a joy to be a part of.

A woman interrupted our meeting (we met at a Chick-fil-a) for a few minutes inquiring about troops and how to get a placement.  I encouraged her to become a leader.  I know people look at me like I 'm crazy when I tell them I am a GS Leader, PTA President, Wellness Champion.  I take on a lot.  But what is the alternative?  Sitting around twiddling my thumbs? 

Probably not but I know I will never regret engaging in my children's childhood.  Because I am involved in girl scouts I am ensuring that my daughters are having experiences to build their courage and confidence.  Because I am involved in PTA I know that not just my kids but their school is going to have programs that empower families to be engaged in their children's school lives. 

Someone recently said, "I just don't have time to be involved."  My heart crushes for them.  I know that our lives are crazy.  Everyone has a million things to do, bills to pay.  So many of us are treading frantically in stormy waters just hoping that the next huge wave wont be the one to pull us under for good. But engaging at school, in your community, at your church...whatever it is you choose that improves the the right thing to do. So,  I choose. I choose engagement over neutrality.  I choose communication over silence.  I choose positive change over stagnant living. I choose my children.

Don't get me wrong.  I don't write this to shout to the world that I am an awesome parent.  Read my previous post.  I fail all the time.  I make more mistakes than I care to admit.  But I think I am a testament to a busy mom's best efforts to be the change in the world that I want to see happening.  An I'm proof that anyone can do it.


Sunday, September 7, 2014

Sensitive Kids

There is thing that happens most days.  It's called homework.  Some days my children attack their homework with confidence and gusto.  They revel in the knowledge that they completed a task that brings them one small step closer to free time on Friday. Don't get me started that they only get this free time (which was once called recess) on Fridays.

What does homework look like on the other days?  It's nothing short of a crisis.  Everyday I live in fear for the moment I have to ask, "Do you guys have any homework?"  If I get an eye roll from my eight year old...then I need to brace myself for the long haul.  First, denial.

Jordy on a good homework day at the library.

"No.  I don't have homework tonight. I can do double tomorrow since it's not due until Friday."  Sigh.  I am preparing the consequences in my electronics of any kind until homework is done because it is really difficult to get her to stop her chosen activities once she has started.  I try to remind her of how good she felt on the days she completed her homework right after school and had the whole day to play with her puppy, on the computer, do art projects, etc. 

"But I'm hungry" or have a head ache, or thirsty, or have to go potty.  Insert whatever excuse she is rotating through that day.  Sigh.  Breath.  Don't loose your patience. 

But I can feel it building.  My frustration at her refusal to comply to the routine.  My impatience at her unwillingness to do as she is asked.  My anger at having had to work all day and deal with so many issues that it would be amazing to come home to compliant, respectful, perfect kids.  DEEP BREATH...because I know that isn't real.  My kids are confident, independent.  They negotiate terms.  They are intelligent and witty.  They don't always comply, they aren't always respectful (they're working on it) and they certainly will never be perfect.  I love them.

As I dig my heals in ("You will sit here until this is finished.") and so does she ("But I can't because I know how to spell pencil broke...this pen doesn't feel right") ...something in her snaps.  Her anxiety is triggered.  She begins to panic and I feel completely responsible because I couldn't keep my cool.  I should know better.  I know she is highly emotionally sensitive.  I know that when her anxiety is triggered she goes from not wanting to her homework to truly believing she will fail second grade because she can't do the assignment.  All the signs of a panic attack are there.  She hyperventilates, her hands shake, she cries and hides.  And I hang my head in shame as she slams the door to get away from me...the source of the trigger...her mother.
This was taken after about 3 hrs of battling it out.

So what do I do?  Josh is amazing with her and is usually able to coax her back out to finish her assignments.  I know that her anxiety stems from the gifted characteristic called "perfectionism".  She is terrified of being a failure; and especially in front of me.  In other children it might mean a relentless focus on details.  And in some situations she is that way.  In art, she will re-draw the same image hundreds of times.  In music, she will sing the same song until she gets the pitch the way she wants it.  But in most academic areas, her perfectionism causes fear to rule her world. 

In school, she doesn't have issues except during testing situations and that has gotten better over time.  So what is the common denominator of her attacks?  Me.  She only panics at school in gifted...which she has with me once a week. 

So I am setting some small simple goals for myself:
1. When I notice the signs...take a walk before I start feeling the frustration (at home).  At school, I will simply walk away and work with another child for a while.
2. Create a schedule for when and where homework will be done each day.
3. Do a fun artsy thing with her either before or after homework time...her choice. 

It is my hope that by doing this I will help her to see that I am changing my behaviors; to help her see that I value her emotional health; and that I love her enough to change for her.

Don't get me wrong...this isn't every day.  Maybe 1-2 days a week this is happening.  But it's so stressful for everyone in the house that I feel it must change.

I am also reading as much as I can to help her:

Tips for Parents

Stress, Learning and the Gifted


Sunday, August 3, 2014

New Furbaby for the Parkers

We have decided to adopt Capri into our home.  She came in and just kind of captured all of our hearts.  I am absolutely shocked that we are adopting our first foster dog.  She is a lot smaller than what we had talked about getting...although she is only 4.5 months old and could grow more.  She has certainly grown since we got her.

Now we need to decide if we are going to keep her name.  I rarely call her Capri.  I call her Capresi (cap-ree-see) or little girl.  So now we will probably start the name game.

Jordy likes Mesmerelda, Mezzy for short.  She says, "Because she came in an mesmerized us".  HA!  We will see.  I like Mezzy. 

And I hate to be cliché but she is like a shadow the way she follows me around so that might be an option too.  I remember it taking us forever to name Zoe.  The name the breeder gave her was Latte.  That didn't suit her at all.  We loved the name Zoe from the tv show, Firefly, and that stuck. 

Capri is technically Jordan's dog so she gets the final say on names.  She has talked about naming her Oreo too.  Time will tell.  For now though, we are just enjoying all the snuggles she gives.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Her personality emerges!

Capri has been with us a full week now.  She is really becoming comfortable with our routine and family.  She has discovered our basket of toys and loves anything soft that squeaks.  She also likes rope toys.  She is learning how to play with Zoe.  Capri snatches toys from Zoe in order to get her to play but our snobby 11 year old Sheltie is not having it.  She just lays down at Josh's feet as if to say, "Yeah, enjoy but he loves me best."  Sometimes I will hold Capri back while I play with Zoe to show that she gets turns too but I don't know if that does any good.

Her puppy mentality is great.  She is smart, inquisitive, and playful now that she has been de-wormed and spayed.  If she gets bored, she climbs on tables, desks, and can jump high enough to get on top of our garbage can and then get to  the counter top.  Long walks 2 to 4 times a day and lot of play time with fetch and tug help keep her from this behavior.  She loves to play fetch and is learning to "drop it" when she comes back...after a quick game of tug.

She is learning "down" and "leave it" quickly.  She learned "sit" extremely quickly.  She is struggling with "stay".  Leash training continues to go well.  She pulls on the leash a bit, wanting to follow her nose.  My 7 year old has a hard time keep up with her pace. She is very fast and strong for such a little dog.  I usually walk Zoe and stay ahead of Jordy and Capri to establish the hierarchy (Thanks Liz!).  They walk together very nicely.

She has not snarled at Emily again but Emily needed correction on her behavior towards Capri too.  Now they are buddies.  Emily has a similar energy level to Capri so they make great play buddies.  Jordy had a friend spend the night and there was no snarling or snappy at the new child...BUT Capri was recovering from her spay so she was out of it.

Feeding time has improved.  Capri wolfs down each meal.  We feed Zoe once a day 3/4c mixed with water in the evenings plus treats and chews during the day.  But Capri needs way more than that.  I feed her 1/2c in the mornings and 3/4c at night, plus another 1/4c during training sessions...for a total of 1 1/2c.  I don't think this is enough since she jumps at her food like she's starving. The feeding guide says She should be getting 2 3/4c a day.  I am going to increase it to 1c at each meal time and 1/2c reserved for training sessions.

Although I really thought a bigger dog is what would be next for our family.  It seems like this size dog fits our family very well.  We still haven't decided if we will adopt her.  I am still concerned that once school starts that our schedules will be too busy for such a young and active dog.  However, I have started getting up earlier to walk her so that she gets enough exercise.  I am enjoying my "forced" walks and Zoe is getting a lot more exercise for it too.

Time will tell.  We will need to decide by the end of the week. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Capri Update

Capri is becoming much more comfortable in our home.  She is still have some stomach issues but I hope that the de-wormer and new puppy food will help her.  She is very sweet with both of my daughters and loves to curl up with Jordy for an evening snuggle once she has eaten and had a nice long walk.  She ran to me and sat on my belly to give me very timid kisses when I arrived home today. 

1) Territorial with food and toys and affection. 
Last night, Capri was standing in my lap while I was scratching her back.  Zoe approached us and Capri snarled and snapped at her.  I'm not sure why she did this.  There were no food or toys involved.

I had to return to work today so my husband, Josh, and 5 year old, Emily, were home with the dogs today.  He reported that he was playing with a tug rope with Zoe, our sheltie, and Capri snatched it away.  She did it twice.  On the third try, Zoe let her know that was not cool.  They snarled at one another but she submitted to Zoe. 

They eat separately and out of different dishes.  I'm not sure how to work with a dog who is territorial and protective about their food.  Is there a way to correct this behavior? 

2) Too smart for her own good.  Capri figured out how to open Zoe's food container and the garbage can lid.  We moved the container and turned the garbage can around so the latch is against the wall.  Easy fixes.  She also opened a kitchen cabinet and tried to use boxes in the cabinet to get up to the counter.  I couldn't believe it.  We have had to be very vigilant about food.  On the plus side, my daughters are finally consistently cleaning up after themselves and eating only at our kitchen table.  We do have to keep all the chairs pushed in or Capri climbs on top of the table.

1) Walking on Leash.  Capri enjoys being outdoors a lot.  I think she must have some kind of hound in her (beagle?) because she is extremely sniffy.  She constantly has her nose to the ground.  We are working on staying close on the leash and 'heel'.  She is very motivated by kibble but still jumps for it.  We started with very short walks in our front and backyard.  Every walk has been a little farther and a little longer.  Tonight we were able to go to the end of the street and back.  We even did a little jog.  I've noticed that when she is bored or under walked she starts to look around the house for things to get into. 

2) Potty training.  Capri is doing great with this!  She has already started going to either the front or back door and either scratching or jumping at it.  She almost immediately goes potty after doing this. We are sure to take her out immediately after any longer stays in the crate (over night or if we all run out to the store for a bit). 

3) Crate Training.  She doesn't LOVE her crate but I think she recognizes it as a safe place.  We do feed her in there so that she doesn't feel like she has to protect it from Zoe.  

All in all, I think she is doing great.  I am certainly surprised at myself.  I thought Josh would be the one taking the lead on everything but he has deferred to me as I have been reading about fostering, common health issues with fosters, etc, etc.  I never would have thought this was something I would do or love doing.  I never had dogs growing up.  In fact, I didn't have a dog until I moved in with Josh and his Aussie, Dingo.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

A foray into doggy fostering

Do not, under any circumstances, make promises to your children unless you are 100% sure you will see it through.  Beyond the inevitable tantrum that will ensue when you break the promise, you have made a chip in the trust your child has with you.  I'm guilty.  We all are.  Promises are a binding contract with your child that you will see something through.  It could be a trip to the park, a toy, a new book. 

In my case, it's a dog.  My oldest daughter, Jordan, has been asking for a dog since she was 5.  At the time, I was taking courses for my masters degree, Emily was still in diapers, and we knew Josh wouldn't have a job much longer.  It was definitely the wrong time to add a fur baby to our family.  So we told her when she's 8 AND can prove she can handle the responsibility of a dog.  She jumped for joy.  I swear if the kid could accurately use a calendar she would have developed a count down.  She constantly asked how many years, how many months until she turned eight. 

The first year, she didn't bring it up as often.  The fateful day was far away and we were all busy with life.  The second year, she started to really notice different breeds of dogs at the park. After she did a community service project at school to help abandoned animals, she informed us she wanted to rescue a dog from a shelter.  But her 8th birthday was still a year and a half off. 

About 2 months after she turned seven, Jordan began to really discuss wanting a puppy versus a juvenile or adult dog.  We spent time discussing the demands of a puppy, and a senior or adult dog.  We discussed sizes of dog.  We started adding more responsibilities to Jordan's chores.  Picking up toys, maintain her room, feeding Zoe, our sheltie, taking her out in the backyard.  Walking with her on leash with an adult. 

Jordan will turn 8 October 4th this year.  She has proven to us that she is ready.  I'm not delusional.  I know that Josh and I will still be the ones, at first, to establish routines and care.  Although we met several dogs at local shelters that were sweet and got along with the kids and Zoe...most had health issues we weren't prepared to take on.  Jordan said, "I want to put the dog's needs before my own.  These dogs need to find a home that can care for them just right." 

This summer, several of my friends started to help out at a local rescue and fostering dogs.  Their experiences were so heart warming.  Their children loved on the dogs, learned about their care, and got to be part of the help the dog learn to be a family pet.  It seemed really rewarding. 

Our family discussed the pros and the cons.  The kids were part of the decision.  I worried that we would bring in a foster and they wouldn't be able to let go when the time came.  The girls decided they wanted to try it anyway.  We chose a dog that was coming in on a transport from Alabama.  Jordan said, "I know she might not stay forever Mom.  I like knowing I saved a dog.  Either we will be the right home or we will find her the right home."  I am constantly amazed at this kid's generous heart.

Capri is 20lbs soaking wet.  They say she is 4 months and a border collie mix but I am skeptical.  So far she doesn't behave like any of the herding dogs I've had.  But she is still adjusting to a new place.  I've never owned a beagle but sometimes she looks a bit like a hound to me.  And it might explain her longer body and freckled nose.

Here she is meeting Zoe for the first time.  After this initial greeting they have pretty much ignored each other.  She is a very nervous and timid dog.  She rolls over to show her belly for everyone.  She is very attached to Jordan and I.  I think because we were the ones to pick her up from the transport.  She is very nervous around Josh.  She belly crawls towards him but she does go to him and sat with him for a long time last night.  However, she shows her belly almost the whole time.
It seems like she was probably in an outdoor kennel.  She really loves being outdoors.  She stalls when we try to come back into the house and cowers like she thinks she shouldn't come in.  She has had loose stools since eating our kibble and vomited a bully stick.  I'm going to give the food another day or so to see if she adjusts to it.  I have no idea what she was eating before we got her. 
She seems to really love being around the kids.  She growled at Emily twice but I think Emily might have squeezed her too hard while hugging.  She growled at Zoe twice. Capri had a chewy and Zoe went over to see what was going on.  I have been isolating them for meals.  She was afraid of the vacuum machine when I needed to do some cleaning so I put her in her crate while I finished up.  She likes her crate a lot and is responding very well to crate and potty training. 
She had two accidents in the house.  The first was stool and I think her meal just went right through her.  The second was pee but the girls took her out of the crate while I was in another room.  They didn't take her right outside like we had been doing all day.  It was a good lesson for the girls.  Jordy had to clean up the mess and we discussed why a routine is so important.
So we have learned a lot.  I am showing Jordy the proper way to dispose of her poo when we walk.  She doesn't want to do that part but I told her its part of the having the dog.  You have to be willing to do the not so fun stuff.  Today we are going to give her a bath because she still smells from the transport.  We also need to get her a chewy and see what other toys she might like.  She doesn't seem to like any of Zoe's.  Zoe didn't seem to mind sharing and they didn't growl at each other over sharing toys or the two doggy beds we have in the living room.  I do sense a little bit of jealousy for attention but no aggression.  They walk beautifully on leash together. 

Time will tell.  I'm hoping she comes out of her shell with some consistent TLC and a routine.  I have to got back to work on Monday.  She will be home with Josh and Emily all day since Jordy has summer school.  Fingers crossed!  This wasn't an easy promise to keep.  Although we promised to adopt a dog when she turns 8, this is teaching us all so much about generosity, caring for the less fortunate, and the power of love. 

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Get fit and get to the fair!

With the Kids

The Florida State Fair started last Saturday.  We took the girls for the first time last Sunday.  You would have thought I had told Jordan Santa Claus was coming for a personal visit.  “I just can’t believe I am finally going to get to ride a Ferris Wheel!” she squealed with excitement.

Luckily it was the first armband day because the girls wanted to ride all the kid rides which were between $3- $4 each.  Each ticket is a dollar.  It was a relief not to have to negotiate rides according to a budget. 

Saturday - February 16 - Open at 9 AM

Midway opens at 10 AM

4-H & FFA Day – FREE Admission for 4-H and FFA Members with identification or jacket.

Adult Admission - Ages 12 and over $12

Children Ages 6-11 $6

Children Ages 5 and under are FREE


Since there are only a couple days left…I suggest heading out there for some family fun!

Get Fit as a FamilyThere are many ways for you and your family to get out in the community and do something to be fit together.  And it can be fun.  Use your chidren’s natural interests to choose activities.  Our girls love the feeling of flying.  A bike ride is the perfect choice to get them that feeling and help them get some exercise.  We throw their little bikes in the back of the car, hit a local park, and let them ride while we walk along side.  I look forward to the day when we can all ride together.