Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Mothering--The greatest project of them all

So, I guess you could call raising children a project. You set a goal and work to accomplish it. I guess what sets it apart from other projects is what a long-term goal it is and how difficult it is to gauge your progress while doing it. For these reasons, I don't generally think of parenting as a "project", but I do think it is the greatest project of our lives. Hopefully, we will accomplish our goal and see our children grow to be happy successful adults. Anyway, during this process of child-rearing, I think parenting involves many small goals. For example, I have always had a goal to raise healthy eaters. For the most part, I have succeeded so far. One way I have accomplished this is that I don't force my kids to eat their meals, but if they don't eat them, then they don't get any more food until the next meal. Sheer hunger drives them to eat what I give them. Of course, I can't rule out the possibility that simple genetics is to be credited for my kids being pretty good eaters. Both of their parents love food and love healthy food, so, it's in their blood, but I do like to make my self feel good by believing it is due to my parenting, well, "skills" :). Anyway, lately, my oldest has been going through a stage where he tries to get out of a certain meal, or a certain type of food, by saying he is not hungry yet. Being that I am currently pregnant, I've been too tired, and too hungry myself, to fight him over it or postpone dinner. However, I have noticed that not eating together has had a negative effect on our family. Also, it has allowed my son to be able to weasle his way out of eating what the family eats. So, I have discovered a great solution that I hope will help other mothers out there. I still tell him that if he doesn't want to eat what we are having, then he doesn't have to, but it is what is being served for that meal and if he doesn't eat it, he can't have anything else until the next meal (which might be breakfast the next day). But, I have added a new stipulation. He doesn't have to eat the food, but he does have to sit at the table while the rest of us eat, and he must "smell" the food. This works particularly good if there is a prepared plate right under his nose to smell. Without fail, every time I have done this, he has eventually decided he wanted to eat the food. Some times he will only eat part of the meal and skip parts he thinks he doesn't like. But, the point is he is eating what I am preparing for the family and we are eating together as a family. I think the sumptuous smells of a good meal combined with a hungry tummy and the inability to distract with another activity simply lead to eating what is in front of you. Anyway, I just thought I would share in case there are other mothers out there who fell like they can't get their children to eat what they prepared. Try out the smelling technique and let me know how it works for you.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Kids Playset

O.k., my first project when moving into this house was to build the kids a playset. I knew that if I was to get any other projects done, I needed the kids to have something to entertain themselves with. Since they so enjoyed the playset and swingset at our last house, I decided to build them one. However, all the pre-made ones that you buy and assemble were SO expensive, not to mention that they weren't exactly what I would want anyway. So, I spent some time designing a simple set, making up a product list and deciding if I could afford to build it. I was able to build it for less than half the price of an even smaller and simpler store-bought set, and I felt that my design was more appropriate for the ages of my children. I wanted a set that would be fun and safe for even crawling babies, as they like to try to do whatever their older siblings do. Since both of my boys started climbing before they started walking, I had to always watch them so close on our set in Iowa, where the baby could climb the ladder, but then was stuck at the top where there were three spots they cold simply fall off from. So, instead of a ladder, I built 5 platforms of consecutive heights so that babies can get both up and down safely on their. The set includes a small slide for smaller children (one we found in a dumpster and recycled in our own playset) and a larger slide for older children. I also included monkey bars for the older children that span from a platform that is only 2 feet high and, therefore, not a threat to a young child that may fall from it. The swing set kits are awfully expensive so I just bought generic brackets and built my own. The set is now one year old and, so far, it has held up quite well. The monkey bars are the only thing that I've run into trouble with. I made them out of PVC pipes so the kids wouldn't get splinters from wood or burns from metal. However, I attached them simply by countersinking them into the wood supports. As the wood supports have weathered and bowed over time, they have slightly separated, therefore causing some of the monkey bars to fall out. I will need to come up with a solution at some point, but haven't gotten around to it yet. Anyway, here are some pictures of the playset.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Wooden Toys

So, for Christmas, I thought it would be fun to make the boys some wooden toys. I love wooden toys. Two of my favorite toys I remember from childhood are ones that my dad's grandpa made for him. One was a man that does flips when you squeeze two sticks together. The other is a toy called Jacob's Ladder that is really difficult to explain in words. So, those were my picks for the boys this last year. I made my oldest boy a flipping gymnast since he loves gymnastics and my younger boy a flipping bear. I really like the way the gymnast works because sometimes it's leg catches on the string and it looks like it is doing special tricks on the bar. I also made each of them a Jacob's ladder. Here are some photos and videos of the toys in action. The boys took their flipper toys to Grandma and Grandpa's house when we visited after Christmas and Grandpa liked them so well I made him one for his retirement. However, I was too dumb to remember to take pictures of it before giving it to him. He worked for the church in the Church Education System. So, if you hold the toy in one direction, it is a middle-aged man dressed in a suit and the stick says "CES--Church Education System". If you look at the toy from the other side, the man is an older man, dressed in a luau shirt, complete with wife beater tank top underneath, swim trunks, sun glasses, and a gold chain necklace that has a big gold bling pendant that says "CTR". The stick on this side says "CES--completely emancipated slacker". He really liked it. I wish I had a picture to show you because it's my favorite of all three of the flipper toys I have made. Oh well. I guess you'll just have to imagine it. I hope to carry on the tradition and make at least one wooden toy for each of my children every Christmas. If I had had more time, I would have liked to make some nice little wooden storage boxes for the toys so they last longer and can be a keepsake, but I've never gotten around to that.  SORRY THE VIDEOS ARE SIDEWAYS.