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Friday, July 24, 2015

Encouraging Your Child to Dream- And Helping them Fail a Bit too...

Jules here-

My three dreamers
I love when my kids are happy, confident, and secure in tasks that they endeavor to do- from coloring to sports I love when my kid are proud of their efforts. However, after a certain age, I do believe there should be some realism instilled within their self-esteem. After watching American Idol a few years ago, I vowed never to instill false-confidence in my children so they wouldn't end up singing like this...

As Grace is getting older, my expectations of her talents have elevated too- Do I champion ever coloring picture or drawing she shows me? No, no I don't. I am straightforward and honest with her with responses such as, "Well, I like the colors you chose, but it looks like you weren't as careful staying within the lines that time." OR, "I've seen you draw butterflies better on your other pictures, but I do enjoy that one rose in particular." I believe that this technique offers three things: 

1. It lets her know that I know her abilities and talents-as well as her limitations.  I know when she puts her true effort in. 

2. When I do compliment a truly "good" work-she knows it is well-deserved, not a simple placation. She learns to trust me and my opinion. 

3. She learns that she isn't perfect. She learns that she's not the best at everything- but she also learns in a safe, home environment.  Hopefully this gives her the confidence to face disappointment and failure in the "real world" too.
Back when I had lower standards for her :)
With Felicity, I am just starting this more honest approach- she needed a boost of confidence being the middle child under the shadow of a crafty older sister.  She is a child who is hesitant to attempt something unless she knows she will be successful, and yet she usually surpasses Grace with gross motor challenges.  From swinging to monkey bars, she often accomplishes milestones before her older sister- yet she seems to need more encouragement.  I try to not completely discourage them with my honesty, but I want them to know they cannot succeed at everything or be the best at everything.

I vote for professional cartoon for her future career.
Parents walk the tightrope between having your child be a secure, confident kid versus an arrogant, self-absorbed jerk that so often decorates my Facebook news feed. The parents of the 1990s kids were so worried about bruising an ego, having a child feel inferior, or ever discouraging a "dream" that I believe that birthed the "selfie" generation....  I cringe when I see a person post pictures of themselves flexing, modeling, and posing in front of a mirror with a transparent self-deprecating message beneath-- obviously fishing for compliments.

Adorable memes shared here @AnimalBehaviorC 

 I want my children to live in a "real world"- I want to encourage them to follow their dreams- BUT, if James is 18 years old and wants to pursue his golfing career before going to college, um... no.  Will I get James town golf lessons next year? Yes! Will I put aside some money for the occasional mini-golf? Of course! But I also believe in showing your child how rare it is to achieve these fantasy aspirations. Professional sports player, singer, actor, etc.... the chances of success are so minimal in those careers that you truly need a good back up plan.
My little pro
Does your child love professional sports and want to be an NBA player, yet his height will top out at maybe 5'10"?-- Get him into a sports management program or communications degree.  Encourage a baseball "star" to volunteer or work with a minor league baseball team in the summer. Maybe he/she will find a passion with marketing for the team or sports writing. Or maybe sports will just be a hobby.

I've known parents who bend over backwards supporting their children's unrealistic dreams- and then when the child doesn't succeed he/she faces the depressing realization that they have no viable back-up plan.  Plus, every day work pales in comparison to their fantasy lifestyle that they had dreamed of... 
My ballerinas...they are amazing... NOT-- but they're cute :)
So am I mean, heartless, or cruel as a parent to tell my child that her song really wasn't that entertaining and that she stole the tune from "Pop goes the Weasel?"  Maybe. But I would rather have my child realize her limitations and strive to improve upon herself rather than the world to teach her that lesson later.

Easy Rule #3478- Keep balancing between encouraging your child to dream and allowing them to face reality, they'll thank you later. Or they'll go to therapy. One or the other.

Ha! So true.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

7 Quick Takes Friday

Jules here-

Another week (or two) has gone by in which I have collection of random quick takes from the week...

Summer is fantastic for wildlife in NH.
Though we moved to a more "city" setting, we are surround by lakes on our little peninsula.  We often take walks after dinner, and one evening we watched a family of beavers practicing swimming in our little inlet area. We watched in delight as the baby beavers swam proudly in front of us!
Aerial view of beaver
Up at my parents home, we were greeted one afternoon with a mama moose and her calf grazing on the corner of their lawn.  We followed them from the windows as they sauntered around the home.

After looking this up, I have found that this isn't necessarily a "wild" bird in NH, but this Guinea Hen must have escaped its owner because he followed me along the road for quite some time.

Fourth of July is more than Red, White, and Blue.
Thanks for posting this on Facebook, Miss Chrissy!

 With the "Live, Free, or Die" motto, New Hampshire seems the perfect place to celebrate our nation's first patriotic holiday.  From parades to fairs, we have dozens of options to have a fantastic Fourth!  This year all three children stayed up to see the fireworks over the lake-- it was so much fun.... and yet, during Sunday Mass I regretted allowing my three year old son so little sleep....
My house all decked out!
Girls ready for a pre-Fourth Barbecue!
White chocolate & sprinkled pretzels for the Fourth!
It's berry picking time!
We went strawberry picking towards the end of the season- which meant slim pickings, but also fewer crowds. And by fewer, I mean NO ONE! We drove to a farm in NH, there was a sign with a scale, and we saw no one for the entire visit!  I love that in New Hampshire there is still an "honor code" when it comes to farm stands and you-pick locations.  It really shows that there are more "good" people than bad in the worldWe plan on going raspberry picking to the Smith Family Farm this weekend! Mmm....

Summer rainy days can be appreciated too.
We have been blessed with quite a bit of sunshine this spring and early summer- but we recently have had a few rainy days thrown in.  At first, my kids missed the beach, biking, and our walks- but they also appreciated a puzzles I set up, playing extra Mario, and re-starting our board game nights.  

Dealing with the Terrible Threes
James is going through his tantrum stage- a little later than the terrible twos, but I hear that mother's of young boys often lament the "threes"....  Unlike my girls, James has proven to be a bit more challenging at this age.  From putting on his shoes to sitting still during Mass, he is testing my patience. Through prayer and the occasional swearing, I am coping.  I have noticed that when I take the time to spend 10-15 minutes a day solely doing a "James" activity his behavior does improve.  Am I going to drop my chores to play golf all day as he would like? No... but I am trying to make an effort to participate in a daily sport/game with him. After he has made his bed everyday without me asking for 2 weeks- we go to go to mini golf tonight! He LOVED it~ he could have played all night!

Looking back, how did you do it?
For the past seven years, I think I have slept a straight 8 hours (without a bathroom break OR child interruption) maybe once... The second I hear a floor board creak in my bedroom, I am awake and cognitively functioning.  When there's an illness, accident, or bad dream, I am instantly handling the crisis until everyone is safely snuggled asleep.  Am I complaining? Nope. I am just thinking back to college and how I slept in a dormitory with students staying up all hours: talking in the halls, slamming doors, playing music, etc. How the heck did I sleep through all that? That seems like a much WORSE living situation than I'm in!  

On the topic of looking back, I look back to last year and think about packing up my home, showing my house to potential homebuyers, and trying to find a new home for us-- AAAAH! How did I do all that? I cringe thinking about three months ago with unpacking, painting, moving, etc....  
One of the messes from the past...
The point is-- even when your life may seem as if it has insurmountable obstacles- you can handle it one day at a time.  Instead of looking at the whole mountain, make a smaller goal to achieve first. You will look back one day and say to yourself, "How the heck did I do that?!?"  You never know what you are capable of!

Check your summer "bucket list"! It's going quickly
Summer seems to be slipping by this year- as I went to Wal-Mart yesterday and found the Crayola Back-to-School Sales in full swing! (I have a problem with the 97 cent markers).  Time to check our "to do" list for the summer! We still need to hike another mountain, visit with our cousins in a few weeks, try a few new playgrounds, and make our own ice cream!
Storyland, NH Off checklist!
Easy Rule #717144- It's summer! Don't forget to appreciate the warm weather, break from school, and long days!

Easy Rule #334334- When your child is in a difficult stage, love them more. Pray more. It can help.