Monday, August 29, 2011

A Perfect Bedroom Time Example

My nephew and the dog that started the story below, Keona. Notice how actually happy Keona is here. His tail was wagging so much, it appears blurry because the camera didn't have a fast enough shutter speed to click it in mid-wag.

It's late and I should probably just go to bed. I had curriculum nights for both of my kids tonight at their school and then ended up talking to a friend in the parking lot until way too much time had passed. I had to check and respond to emails from my students, but I really wanted to blog about my nephew's perfect bedroom time incident today.

We were cleaning at a house today with these two big dogs. We love these dogs! The one in the photograph with my nephew is Keona; he is a Great White Pyrenees/Australian Shepherd mix. The other is a huge, pure-bred Great White Pyrenees named Cooper. Both are sweet and generally good with the kids. My nephew can be a little rough on the dogs at housecleaning houses, my house, and even his own house. He isn't mean, just overly exuberant at times.

Last week we got a dog at a housecleaning house a little over excited, and I could see that he was about to jump up on my nephew, which would have caused a bruise down his face and body. So I quickly gathered up my nephew and took the jump up on my own leg, making a bruise from my underwear line to my knee. Again the dog wasn't try to be a bad dog; he just wanted to play and didn't know his size and strength in comparison to a three year old boy.

Today I had already given him a warning at my house when he was squeezing one of our dog's heads a little too much with love. Then at the housecleaning house, I had asked my nephew to be gentle with the dogs. This particular house has a giant bean bag chair that sits lower than the raised couch in their home theater area. The kids enjoy jumping off the couch and onto this bean bag chair. Keona, the dog, also likes the bean bag chair and decided to lie down right in the middle of it. I told my nephew not to jump onto the bean bag chair when the dog was on there. Of course, the next minute, he did it anyway. Keona kind of jumped up and looked like he was going to start playing with my nephew, but more in the line of bring it on rather than a little playfulness. I said sternly and a little loudly, but not a true yell, "No!"

I meant NO to both of them. I made Keona get down and go to another area of the house. My nephew was cowering on the couch and acting as if I had screamed bloody murder at him. I picked him up and explained that I only wanted him to be safe and to be gentle with animals. I asked him to look at my huge bruise and asked if he thought he might want one of these because if he plays rough with the dogs, they will play rough with him, and he could get hurt. I told him I needed him to say, "OK Aha, (That's his name for me. It stands for Auntie Heather.) I will be sweet with the dogs."

He said nothing.

I said, "Oh that's sad because I really need to know that you understand this is important. How about if you have some bedroom time until you can tell me you will be sweet with the dogs?"

Then I carried him all the way from the basement up to the fourth level (this is a tri-level house with a basement.), and placed him on the bed in the master bedroom. I said, "You can come down when you can tell me you will be sweet with the dogs."

Then I walked out of the room, went to the family room area and began vacuuming. I got about halfway through the room, which took about five minutes, when I heard, "Aha, Aha!"

I turned off the vacuum, and my nephew was standing on the stairs. He said, "I am ready to be sweet to the dogs now."

I scooped him up and asked, "How does that make you feel?"

In the tiniest voice, he said, "Good." Then he buried his face in my shoulder.

After that there were no more dog roughness problems.

This is just a classic example of how bedroom time works when it works like it is supposed to work. You have to know that it doesn't always go this smoothly, especially when you first start using it. Also the age of the child can have an impact on how well this works. When I first started doing it, my daughter was seven. One of the first times I did it, she just kept coming out of her room and staring at me and her brother. Fred said, "What's wrong with Hannah?"

I said, "Oh she needs some time in her bedroom to get sweet. She is having some trouble with her temper."

The next time she came out staring us down with what would have been lasers from her eyes if she could have figured out how to actually shoot lasers from her eyes, Fred looked from her to me and said, "I don't think she's sweet, yet!"

It took several times of just calmly putting her back in and closing the door and leaving her there until she decided she was sweet before it worked. Now she often self-imposes some bedroom time and will come out only when she is ready to be sweet.

The experts, Jim and Charles Fay and Foster Cline, say it should not ever be a timed thing because if you use it as a "time out" and you set a timer, the kids will only be clock watching versus internalizing the reason for being separated in the first place. Bedroom time should be used for the child to be separated and then to get sweet before coming back out. They use the word, "sweet," because that is the desired behavior they want for the kids to come out exhibiting. Believe me there have been many times when I have said, "I see you back out, but I am not feeling the sweet. See you when you are sweet." They may stomp off and be mad that I am sending them back, but they always go and eventually they come out sweet.

My sister would tell you that my nephew has not always exhibited this perfect bedroom time behavior either. There have been times when she almost had to physically hold him to the bed in order to get him to stay in there, or close the door and then sit right outside so that each time he opened the door to come out he could not get past her. The key is that they have to actually be sweet, and they have to stay there until the sweet attitude is apparent, or they must be returned.

If you are consistent with this technique, you will find that the child will eventually internalize what you want for them to learn or do, and that they even sometimes send themselves away to get sweet. Consistency is the key! The Love and Logic guys say it is like making your words become like gold. The follow through and the calmness with which you carry all of this out, will make it so that eventually it will go as smoothly as it did for my nephew and for me today.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

A Psychic Experience

Fred G and Wanda at a family party. These are my maternal grandparents that helped to raise me. I lived with them my first year while my mom finished nursing school. Fred was kind of a tough shell to crack, but apparently I was the one to crack it, and he lived out the rest of his days wrapped around my finger. Wanda was a fiesty lady, who loved her family and frequently spoke her mind.
For those of you who know me, you know I grew up fairly conservative and pretty fundamental. I don't really want to go into my religious beliefs fully today, although I will soon. However, I can suffice it to say, that I am more of a seeker and searcher these days than I once was.

In keeping with the seeking and the searching and the reading of Eat, Pray, Love, I had been thinking for a while that I wanted to see a psychic. I was scared and curious all at the same time. The upbringing voice in my head told me maybe I ought not to meddle in such things, but the seeking voice wanted to see what it might be about for me.

I told my guy about it. (My guy is yet another subject for another blog....) He found someone in the Yellow Pages online and began texting her, and over a period of about two weeks in which we made and cancelled and rescheduled appointments, we finally went to see her yesterday.

I had some questions on which I wanted some insight, but I was still pretty nervous, until I walked into her office. She looked like us. She didn't have strangely styled or colored hair or clothing. She almost could have been someone in my family; she just was part of my world and reality of people. I felt at ease.

I asked my guy to be there with me because you know how when you go to the doctor and he has to tell you something important you want a second set of ears to listen in case the doctor says a word like cancer and then that is the only word you heard the whole time? Well that was partly what I was afraid of happening. I wanted someone else there that could hear what I heard, although as you will see, my guy heard differently than me because I had my own internal dialog and work that I have been doing.

Anyway, the psychic, sat us down and asked me what I was curious about learning. I told her, but I am not ready to tell my readers just yet. The reason for the suspense is that it ended up being so detailed and covered several different topics that I want to write about each of them individually. I promise to keep writing about this. It is also a lot to process and I am a supreme processor, so some things I am actually not ready to share with the Internet!

She closed her eyes and said that she needed to tap into my energies. After a bit, she opened her eyes and said those that needed to be here were here. She said my energies were like a waiting room. Sometimes for people they appear as a board room or board of directors. I found it interesting that for me she said a waiting room because I would not need or want a group of people to direct me. She followed up the waiting room with the reason. She said they were in a waiting room because they don't always know what to say to give guidance or how to help. All I need to do from now on is to sit down and be quiet; they are there for me and whatever I hear or say first is what I should go with. When I second guess, is when it changes. I thought this was also very me. I do know that normally I should go with my gut. I find that if I start second guessing myself that is when I often times get into trouble. I also know that I am not good at asking others for help and often times it leaves my loved ones feeling helpless and in a holding pattern.

Throughout the session, she answered my other questions of which there were three main ones. After the first question was answered or explored, she asked if it was settled and the energy with which she was communicating said that it was. Just as she was about to begin with the second topic, she paused and said there was a grandmother that had something to say. She said this particular energy just piped up and wanted to let me know, "That I was doing a great job with the kids," at which point, I burst into tears!

I had already been crying some, but that just turned the flow to high! My mom's mom, whom I had lived with my first year of life, was so that woman who would just stand up and say what she had to say. Nothing else, just the one thing and then off she went to be a part of the collective. I have no doubt that Wanda stood up, said her peace, and sat back down. When I told my mom about this she, too, burst into tears. She said, "I could just see her saying, 'you tell that girl that she is a great mother!'"

For the other parts, different energies were speaking to my psychic. She said a couple of names had come to her, but others were just like a collective group. The grandmother that spoke up didn't wait for identification as to whose side of the family she was on, but I didn't need to have authentication. I knew immediately that would be Wanda.

For my first question, it was someone named Gordon. Today I found out who Gordon is, and I will share that story soon.

Another name, George, came up and she said that he didn't really have anything to say and he didn't say who he was, but just wanted his presence to be known. I picked up on the letter G myself. When I told my mom about this, she said of course, my grandfather Fred, her dad, who also raised me my first year of life, had the middle name of George. I had always just thought his middle name was G, just the letter G. Mom said it was George after his own dad, but he never wanted to acknowledge the name because his father had not been very good. Apparently George had been an alcoholic and had left the family when Fred was in sixth grade. That was why Fred never finished school, having to quit at the sixth grade and start supporting his mom and sister. My mom said it would be just like Fred G to be quiet like the George energy and just let his presence be known behind the scenes. I wrote in my Father's Day blog how much this particular grandfather means to me. I am very touched that he was there and confirmed what I have always known: that he is there every single day.

The final two parts of my session were not name or individual specific. She said it was like the collection of all the souls, or spirits, or energies were speaking as one. They said at any point I can ask anything and to trust my intuition.

My guy said to him it seemed vague, but I could see how that would be and it only confirms to me that the psychic was really tapped into me and my energies. The entire time I was having internal dialog with myself. I knew of what she was speaking each time. There was never a feeling of vagueness or well, that's not quite right. I always knew that she was tapped into my energies. This was not a fraud. This was not a fake. She was really communicating with them to me and through me.

I left there feeling like I know what to do next. I feel assured and very much not alone. She never told me what to do or exactly what my future holds because she can't and honestly that wasn't what I was looking for. There is still free will and no one or no thing can know the future, but I can know and do know that I am always surrounded by those that I love, living or passed on. I feel more spiritually connected rather than less or that I did something wrong, more assured in my beliefs in God, and the world which we cannot see but is there because we believe it is there, and because we exercise faith. It is a world of grace and love. And I am grateful to God that I was allowed a glimpse.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Family Pizza Night

When I was standing at the deli today waiting for my ham order to be sliced, I noticed this yummy looking flat bread on the shelf below the deli case. It said also makes super pizza on the package. I thought, "Why not give that a try for tonight's supper?" I also picked up some pepperoni, mozzarella, artichoke hearts, and black olives while I was shopping to add to the pizzas.

When I was ready to start preparing the meal, I called the kids down so they could tell me what they wanted on their pizzas. Both wanted to help prepare the meal as well, which is always a bonus. Plus this way, Fred actually ate all of the items that he put on his pizza, which otherwise he would have turned his nose at. He put pepperoni, black olives, ham, and cheese on his pizza. Hannah and I both had pepperoni, black olives, artichoke hearts, mozarella, and tomatoes from our garden.

After all of the toppings were applied, we put them in the oven and baked them for 10 minutes at 400 degrees. They were yummy. We each at half of our pizzas and put the rest in the fridge for another meal. Fred even asked about an hour later if he could have more, but then changed his mind to ice cream for dessert! How unusual of him to want ice cream! hahahaha!

Really the recipe was quite simple and can be modified to whatever your tastes are. I simply laid out the flat bread, put on some spaghetti sauce, then we each put on our own toppings, and baked them for 10 minutes in a 400 degree oven. Bon appetit!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

A First Grade Miracle!

Mr. Davis and Fred at kindergarten graduation, May 2011

I love our elementary school! I mean really I love almost everything about it! Mostly I love the staff and how they care very deeply about my children.

When I was going to move five years ago, I only wanted my daughter (I am going to be calling her Hannah in my blogs) to start kindergarten once. I was not exactly sure where we were going to find a house and in which school area we would be, so I went to several schools to open enroll her. When I walked into Peiffer elementary, I knew immediately this is where we needed to be. They were so welcoming and helpful, and there was an availability in the kindergarten class. I just had that gut feeling that this was going to be a home base for us. It happened that we ended up buying our house in the Peiffer area. It all worked like it was supposed to!

Every year, Hannah has had fabulous teachers and then my son (whom I am going to call Fred in my blogs) started kindergarten last year and had an amazing kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Gray, just like Hannah's teachers all had been. At the end of the year, I requested to Mrs. Gray that Fred be put in the same first grade teacher's class as Hannah had been. Mrs. Gray regrettably informed me that Mrs. Marden, our beloved first grade teacher for Hannah, would be teaching second grade in the fall. I was dumbfounded to say the least! What? No, Mrs. Marden for first grade for Fred?? How could this be? The thought had not occured to me before then.

I am sorry to say that I was not feeling thrilled about the remaining two first grade teachers. They seemed fine enough, but not superb. I have been fretting a little all summer long.

So yesterday afternoon, we were driving over to the school for the annual open house and ice cream social where the kids meet their teachers and bring in their supplies. Hannah was musing over which of the fifth grade teachers she wanted, both great choices, and whether she would be in the same class as some of her friends. I said I wasn't really all that worried about fifth grade, but first grade was another story. To put a good spin on it for the kids' sake, I said, "But we know Mrs. Gray knows Fred very well and will place him in the class that will be best for him. We are just going to trust in Mrs. Gray."

We walked up to the school and looked on the front doors where they post the class lists. I looked at first grade while Hannah looked at fifth grade. As my eyes fell upon the lists for first grade, I saw three, not two, first grade lists. The name on the third first grade list was none other than MR. DAVIS!!! I even exclaimed it out loud and looked down to see Fred's name there on that very list! I burst into tears and Hannah, having heard me exclaim the name, gasped out my very thoughts, "Oh thank you dear God!"

Mr. Davis is the law around our house as far as Fred is concerned! Fred was able to have Mr. Davis as an intervention teacher last year for extra reading help. If Mr. Davis said the vowels are a, e, i, o, and u, Fred would come home and exclaim such news to me as if it were written on a stone tablet, even though I may have already told Fred upteen times the same information! I would just simply respnd with interest and satisfaction, "Really, I had no idea that those were the vowels," all the while smiling to myself and offering up prayers of thanks for Mr. Davis.

Fred will spend the afternoons in one of the other first grade teacher's classrooms, since Mr. Davis will only be a half time teacher, but still this is the most perfect scenario. One that I would never have even imagined!

It just reminds me that God is watching out for our every need. I especially needed it yesterday when I had already had a meeting earlier in the afternoon that was extemely disappointing and offered me no solace. This was just another one of God's gentle nudges that He is still there and still taking care of me, Hannah, and Fred! And I offer up prayers of thanksgiving and blessing to God for Mr. Davis, our first grade miracle!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Taking the Long Way

One time when we were visiting my cousin and other family in South Dakota, we drove up to see her house in Minnesota. On the way there, we were listening to some of the Dixie Chicks music. Ready to Run came on and my sister, the one we used to call the Dismisser because she had a knack for dismissing guys quickly if they showed any red flags, said, "This is my theme song!" We all laughed.

 I said, "I think mine would be Wide Open Spaces," to which the other two nodded because I am so fiercely independent.

My cousin, who was going through her divorce at the time, said, "Mine is Goodbye Earl!" We all laughed together over the joke. Even though we didn't kill her soon-to-be ex-husband, we had certainly thought about causing him harm since he had hurt our beloved so much.

I know they are controversial at times, but the Dixie Chicks write music with which I can identify. I love their blended harmonies, the fact that they play their own instruments, write most of their own songs, and live life on their own terms, not on the terms of what men tell them to do. While I still love Wide Open Spaces, I feel more that my theme song for the last at least six years has been Taking the Long Way.

Taking the Long Way seems to be what I do these days, and really for most of my life. I am not one to do it like everybody else for sure. I am often at odds with the establishment, especially if that establishment involves men trying to tell me what to do and think and feel. I don't hate men, but I do have trouble with patriarchal thinking.

My favorite part of the song is the bridge where they sing, "Well I never seem to do it like anybody else. Maybe someday, someday I'm gonna settle down. But if you ever want to find me, I can still be found, taking the long way, taking the long way around."

That really is me. I have definitely not followed the path of everybody else in my marriage, my career, how I raise my kids, or even how I am as a single mom. I can't seem to find it in me to settle down and have a traditional relationship like everyone says I am supposed to do. Even though I like rules and guidelines, sometimes, I make up my own rules and guidelines for my own life. I really am overly independent and do not love it when others tell me what to do or that what I am doing is wrong or not the way they would do it. I have had guys leave me because of my independent streak, and that is ok with me because it won't work if a person doesn't love you and accept you for who you are. Not to say that at the time of said leaving, it was not painful. In another of their songs, the Dixie Chicks do say that "Time heals everything," which does end up being true in the long run.

Yesterday I turned 41. I had my big 4-0 last year. I find myself in this life now feeling fairly content and at peace. I have my house, my kids, my business and other assundry jobs that all add up to get the bills paid and have a little left over. I feel happy with using Love and Logic with the kids as it keeps us all generally calm. I even bought a newer car recently, so I don't have to worry about breaking down in the old one so much. The kids are about to start new school years, for which they are actually excited. The circle and the cycle continue. I have definitely come out on the better side from all that pain and misery of six years ago. It was not easy, but I kept moving forward, kept trusting in God, and of course, took the long way around!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Eat, Pray, Love

How much do I love this book?

 I cannot even begin to say all the ways this book has touched my heart. It is ironic because I had put off reading it for a while, especially after seeing the movie. The movie is all right, but she comes off as fairly selfish, and I just could not understand how she walked away from her marriage like she did. In the book, of course, she goes into so much more detail and her journey is so self-revelatory that I can see where she is coming from much better. I still think that I would have stuck with my marriage if I were her, even though it was not the best relationship, but having gone through a sad and painful divorce myself, I do also understand why she would not want to be married anymore. One thing Liz Gilbert says is that she would rather live an imperfect life of her own rather than a perfect version of someone else's idea of her life. I know that feeling myself, especially as someone who grew up Christian and even though my husband was unfaithful, I have been shunned by people in the church because of my marital status. I would have saved my own marriage had it been possible, but my husband had no desire to repair things and you cannot have a relationship with only one person. I have had people suggest that I could have/should have done more before and after the end of the marriage.

When I was a little girl, my mom brought home this Sandi Patti cassette tape, and we listened to it mostly in the car on long road trips. It was a live concert Sandi Patti gave and in it she went through her own musical history of different people she wanted to be like when she grew up such as Karen Carpenter or Barbara Streisand. She sang different versions of Jesus Loves Me  as if she were one of these great singers. She said, "I didn't just want to be like Barbara Streisand; I wanted to BE Barbara Streisand!" And then she proceeded to sing Jesus Loves Me as if she were singing People. Well, I don't want to just be like Liz Gilbert; I want to BE Liz Gilbert!

I don't mean that I want to travel to three different countries in a year to find pleasure, God, and balance in my life. I do like to travel, but I don't like to be away from home for that long. I also could not practically be gone from my home and children for a year either. What I do want to be is someone who shares her life with others in the hopes that some life lessons could be passed on. I haven't always lived the easiest life, but I believe that I have been through what I have been through in order to be more empathetic to and for others. Liz Gilbert is so raw and honest in her book. She talks about so many of the things that I have been searching for in my life, especially when she speaks of finding God, cultivating relationships, and finding purpose in her life. I don't know; maybe I am not really all that knowledgeable or interesting, but I do know that ever since I started this blog all I want to write about is personal versus housecleaning or parenting tips, which were my original topics of intent.

I have not written as much as I want because I keep stopping myself. I hesitate because I am afraid... afraid of being judged, afraid of giving away too much personal information, and afraid that I am really not all that interesting or that others really don't want or need to read about my personal reflections on this life so far. 

I would say a word of caution to those considering reading this book. If you are not interested in finding out more about yourself, I would not recommend this book. I am not saying that with any sarcasm. If you are truly happy with who you are and don't have a wandering, seeking, or searching mind, I just do not think that you would get as much out of this book. In addition, if you are someone who is extremely conservative in your religious views and do not have an open mind as to ways to communicate with and/or find God, then I think you might be offended by some of her thoughts on these topics.

I am on my third time through in less than a month, and each time, I have an aha moment about something new. I will think about whether I want to share more about myself and how that might manifest itself in this blog. However, I would love to write and/or publish a book someday just like Liz Gilbert!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

First Online Teaching Job

Yesterday was the first official day that I started work for Ashford University as an online teaching assistant. It is a fairly simple job, where I grade papers for the course, but do not actually teach it. It is a good first step into the world of online teaching. The professor with whom I am working seems great. She teaches for several online universities. She gave me some good advice to apply, apply, apply in order to get more online jobs for myself.

Ironically this job was the first online job for which I applied, and then I got it right away. I have applied for about 10 other jobs since then and haven't even been offered an interview. I will keep applying. I found one tonight for an online English instructor that I will apply for tomorrow.

This is the plan for the future for now: to get a couple of online teaching jobs and keep my housecleaning business and keep watching my nephew and my handicapped sister. I would love it if my blog eventually earned me a little income as well. I do sometimes wonder if I am trying to do too much, but I think if I tried to return to the classroom full time, it would have more drawbacks for our life. I think it would upheave our entire schedule. I know I would have summers off, but then there is also the coverage needed when I would have inservice days or conferences. I also really like being here before and after school for the kids. My old teaching teammate is going back to work after being home with her kids for 10 years, and she said she will only be making $500 a month more than when she stopped teaching 10 years ago. I just don't know if it would be worth it financially and schedule-wise to go back to full time teaching. I do think I can juggle the housecleaning, the kids, the caregiving, and the online teaching. I mean, I was able to do all of the above minus the online teaching and get my master's degree. I have always seen the online teaching as the same amount of work as getting my master's only this way around, I can get paid for the work done! : )

I haven't had to do too much yet for the class. The first written assignments are not due until next week. Then the true test will begin as to how much time it will really take. Their papers are due Monday night at midnight, and I have until Thursdays at midnight to have all of them graded. I will keep you all posted!