Thursday, June 25, 2009

so much to think about and do

yesterday a wonderful woman from the sacramento discovery museum came down here to fresno to do a site review of the discovery center for us. she was just MARVELOUS, let me tell ya! the four of us (myself, the director of TDC janet, susan and her husband) walked the grounds and talked and talked and talked about how they do things at their museum and what we could/should be doing at TDC.

one thing that i learned...is that things aren't as bad as i had originally thought. 2 reasons, one is that i was able to hear more from janet through the walk-through because she was explaining things to susan...and two is that susan perception of TDC was that things were really great!

now, of course we still know that we have issues to deal with. one of the biggest being that the central valley in general doesn't even know we're still here! but seeing things through susan's eyes was truly wonderful and left me feeling light and happy about things. way better than i've felt in awhile.

i still think that there is much more to dig into...and i'm still on track with figuring out how to tackle the things that i can (and am allowed to) tackle. (i say allowed to because i do realize that not every aspect of TDC should be tackled by me. i'm not superwoman, afterall, and i'm not trying to be superwoman here. i'm just trying to help where i can. stick with my strengths and all that. and also trying to not tread on any toes either.)

so with all that in mind, one of the things i asked susan was how to get the community connected to us again. and she said events. i asked how to do events so that they will profit, and she said charge entrance! seems simple enough, eh? i'm thinking the other key piece of info here is to make sure to advertise advertise advertise. and we got some ideas for that as well.

i've started thinking more seriously about events to do and am really quite excited by the possibilities! and in conjunction with those ideas, i'm starting to research where in the world we should be advertising...and how to get the word out far and wide!

i'm contacting other organizations and asking them where THEY advertise so that i can get a really good list going. hope it works. and in exchange, i'm offering to share my final info with them as well. wonder if i should open a new google spreadsheet for this? hmmmm. will look into that.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

maeven's long ago mermaid party

i was just reading this post about a mermaid birthday party and realized that i never did post about what i did for maeven's party last year! i like to document them all.

so let's see what i can still remember (it was last november!)

we did it at our friend's property, margaret hudson's barn, for those of you that are local and know what that is...because we didn't have a space that would house everyone indoors in case it rained (which it didn't, but it was in november, so there was that possibility).

ahead of time...
maeven made a picture of a mermaid:

and i scanned it and made a bunch of copies because she wanted to make her own invitations this year (usually we just do evites). then we figured out the info for the inside and made a word file for it and printed it all up and i bought blue cards at a dollar store and had maeven cut all the pieces of the cards and glue them onto the dollar cards with her info.

i also got a cd of mermaid and ocean themed music together by spending HOURS on itunes searching for good music. (can you say obsessed? shyah!) sadly, we didn't even listen to all of it at the party...but if she ever wants another mermaid party, i'm set!

then for decorations we got a bunch of streamers (my favorite decoration since its CHEAP and you can use it for all sorts of stuff!) in shades of blues and greens. all bought at dollar stores...and also curling ribbon in greens for seaweed. the day of the party i had the kids help decorate by hanging streamers all over the place to give the illusion of being underwater. so we hung them all hanging in strips, and curled and hung the ribbon as well.

i also printed a bajillion coloring pages of underwater animals and plants and lots and lots of mermaids! these were so much fun to find (and there was a ton to find)...brought colored pencils to the party and had parents and kids help color them and hang them up. we cut around the shapes of the things so we had them looking like they were in the water and floating around and such.

we also did white and blue balloons...blew them up and hung them around for bubbles and a bunch of them on the ground.

maeven made her own mermaid play to perform at the party...but was too shy to read it or participate so i got her friends and some family members to act it out. it was very cute!

we found water balls (rubber squishy balls filled with water) that were shaped like octopus and puffer fish at dollar tree, and use that to do a fun name game (well, i THOUGHT it would be fun, but it was too hard to catch the balls, so oh well, they got to keep the balls).

we also did a version of musical chairs, but used pillows from the couch in the room to be "mermaid rocks" and i played a fun version of mahna mahna from the cd "for the kids"...and had them all sit down or stand up for each mahna mahna...and took out pillows every so often...and they had to squish on the pillows together as there were less pillows (no outs). it was very giggly.

we got a bunch of clear and blue and green glass rocks (the kind you put in flower arrangements that are flat on the bottom) and called them "mermaid jewels" and hid them around the yard for the kids to find in a treasure hunt. the jewels were in different shapes: squares, stars, circles...and we got them in bags at dollar tree.

food: i bought all kinds of sea themed food. fish sticks, shrimp, and made tuna fish sandwiches. i also made octopus from hot dogs that we sliced to have legs (they curl up when you cook them). also fishy and whale crackers, ocean (blue) jello cups w/gummy fish in them, blue koolaid...

and the cake was a chocolate cake we got at a grocery store predecorated and then redecorated. i used a butter knife dipped in hot water to turn the flowers into rocks, and added a bunch of blue frosting and brown sugar to make sand and to cover the "rocks" and used our playmobil mermaids to top it. oh and sugar fish and starfish and seaweed to decorate the top and around the edge. used blue frosting to make waves around the sides of the cake.
wish i had pictures, but our camera died right after the party started. :(

maeven wore her mermaid halloween costume (we always do this, as her birthday is 4 days after halloween, so whatever she picks for one is for the other as well).

we also did some parachute games with balloons...like keep the bubble on the parachute and such. kids loved the parachute the best, i think!

i had a bunch of other games planned, but we didn't do them. i plum forgot some and others just didn't feel right to do at the time...the kids were already having fun. :)

i need to find the page in the notebook that i wrote all my notes down in to document this more...but that's all maeven and i can remember for now.

it wasn't entirely what i had wanted, since we skipped some stuff i thought would be really fun (but i always over-plan...never enough time). but it was a big success anyway! :)

from now on i have to make sure to blog as soon as the party's over, despite how tired i am, because trying to remember it all 8months later is hard! LOL!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

times are a-changin

my children are growing up so quickly before my eyes. just this week maeven seems a young lady to me. i look at her and cannot believe how much older she seems. tyren is no longer a baby, but very much the little/big boy. turning 4 in just a few short weeks, and finally potty trained and spending literally hours entertaining himself daily with his own imagination. to the point that he thwarts my plans to do things with him at times ("i'm busy, mom!")

i'm enjoying all these changes. i generally embrace change. i look forward to changes with joy (usually) and revel in them as i realize they are happening.

i've been spending a lot of time obsessed with working on my projects. but in balance with that, after a chunk of time on the phone or computer, sorting through project ideas and such, i also have been finding myself very engrossed in just looking at and listening to my children. i don't want to miss these moments. i want to soak it all in and remember these times with them.

i can't appreciate every single moment with them. its far too overwhelming to be a joyful parent ever moment of every day. but i have felt very proud of myself for remembering to tear myself away from my projects to sit and watch my children play and talk to them about whatever they are babbling about at the moment.

tyren in particular is a babbler. he takes after me in that. maeven isn't so much of a babbler, but if you allow her to talk when she feels inclined, you can hear quite a lot from her. she has so much going on in her head. that's what she got from me. the endless thinking.

oh my goodness my son is too friggin adorable. he just got right in my face to explain to me about something he wants to make that is "for singing softly like this" then he proceeded to sing softly to me. i have no idea what he's talking about but the expression on his face was just precious.

if only he'd go to sleep though. it's nearly midnight!

Friday, June 12, 2009

lazy organizer my butt!

i've subscribed to the lazy organizer blog for awhile and really get a lot out of it. she really inspires me, yet i've yet to get going on any of the ideas yet, argh.

well today she's really got me thinking. she posted this today: http://www.lazyorganizer.com/blog/?p=4026

basically it talks about how she disagrees with alfie kohn's ideas against rewards and punishments.

i've had a similar thought for awhile...and while i do agree with some of the idea behind being against rewards/punishments and i do seem to subscribe to it in many aspects of my parenting...it just hasn't felt entirely right in regards to helping my kids develop good habits in regards to things like housekeeping. and i've struggled with this for awhile and i'd like to blame the state of our housekeeping on this but i really can't entirely. it is more about me just sucking at any sort of routine. but i digress.

i think lara has something here in saying that the rewards systems she uses to get her kids to help around the house regularly help them to develop the good habits of those chores. and i have recently come to my own conclusions on developing good habits...that its so very important. and i really should try focusing on this concept because i'm failing miserably currently.

*sigh* so yeah, "lazy organizer" my butt! she's the most UNlazy person i've met online! now if i can just use these ideas and get my act in gear....grrr. training MYSELF is the hardest part of all!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

my big brave boy

this monday we had tyren's second dental work visit.

here he is with the gas mask on:
isn't he just stinkin cute? adam says he looks like a little rudolf the red nosed reindeer, LOL!

i found it humorous that i named that pic "tyrgas"...get it?....tear-gas? (if you don't know how to pronounce my son's name...its TEER, so this is a funny joke, get it? LOL!!)

anyway he did awesome again! no problems at all! he got a little wiggly, but nothing major. dr was impressed again!

and this time he climbed right into the seat and had no problem with getting the gas (his first time), and even got novicain shots (numbed with a topical first) and had more extensive drilling.

he did just fine!

still have a few more teeth to do. but we're really trucking along fine! pretty soon he'll be done...the worst is done now, i think...the rest are smaller cavities i think.

i think the key here is that he doesn't keep tyren in the chair, manhandling him for very long. like 15-20min tops. pretty dang cool!

and having a movie to be able to watch while he's there in the chair helps too, LOL! we bring our own so we know that it will be something he wants to see.

oh man, its so nice to have this stress mostly over. we still have a few more visits before all his cavities are treated, but now that he's gotten these 2 visits out of the way, and with flying colors, my stress level has pretty much dropped off. phew! i tell ya!

pretty amazing to remember that this is the same boy that the other dentist wanted to refer to be put under for general anesthesia!! yikes! wow am i ever glad that we found dr doug and he was able to work with tyr...AND that we found pinatta's view!! pinatta rocks!!

Thursday, June 04, 2009

network marketers, go away!!

good god i'm SO tired of all these scams out there! i get advertisers all the time via my websites, and more often then not they are network marketing scams that are trying to hook unsuspecting and naive mamas.

i read a fabulous article called "Seller Beware", about the world of the work-at-home scams. i already pretty much felt that way about the MLM and network marketing world...it just confirmed my feelings.

i don't want to be advertising this crap. oh sure there are legitimate companies like pampered chef and usborne books and discovery toys and such...but they still have the potential to end up losing women tons of money in the long run. usborne books is the only direct sales company, actually, that i've seen successfully run to the point that still, all these years later, the mom is still doing quite well. i think that's because they really do have fabulous products and all of us clamor to buy those books! but they are the exception to the rule, i think. there's always at least one.

anyway, as a website owner that offers advertising, i'm always bombarded with crap. i always try to turn away the blatant crap, and have even gotten to the point of turning away the lesser known crap. i hate network marketing companies as a whole, so why should i advertise them on my site? well they do pay, bleh. its a real dilemma at times when our family seriously needs the money. but i don't want my sites becoming a repository of crap ads like most of the rest of the net. it really cheapens the website.

and i don't think people take your site so seriously when there's so many crap ads on them. maybe even if there's a bunch of ANY ads, even quality ones! well i suppose it depends on the ad.

well i've accepted some ads that i was ok with. but i just refunded some money and deleted a new network marketing ad. i knew right away that it was one of those scams, like all the thousands of other ones out there. i don't want that on my site. i still have mixed feelings about some of the ads that i still have on my site, but i'm working my way through them.

i don't allow anything that i know is melaleuca on my site anymore. that's scam with a capital S! stories abound on the net about THAT company! the problem is keeping up with which companies are melaleuca! stayin home and lovin it & m.o.m. team come immediately to mind, but i can't remember all the rest...there's a ton!

i need to go through and purge my mommy biz directory again...i think some melaleuca and some other crap have slipped through.

all of this just makes me really want to figure out a way for moms to be able to work from home that is LEGITIMATE! something that they can trust me to tell them about...something that is real and up-front and i can employ other moms to help me with ...something that will benefit me to benefit them, but it will all be totally true and real and easy to understand...hm, the only idea that comes to mind is my idea to have a local family resource site for people to set up like mine. sell a template of what i have. actually i will have to redo my own template first, since i'm not longer working with the designer that designed that one and i want to redo it anyway.

well, that's an idea i've had for awhile and i plan to pursue it at some point truly. i think its a fabulous idea...although i don't know how many others out there will think so too. we'll see, i guess.

first i need to revamp my own site and then figure out how to package it for sale. well, it can be done! :)

i've also already written and published a book to share with other moms how to start their own in-home mommy and me classes! i just wish i could know if there were lots of moms that have benefited from it or not. i've sold like 50, but have yet to hear back from any of them how it went. :(

Monday, June 01, 2009

Violence is not child's play

have i ever posted about the lion and lamb project?

i can't remember.

from their website: "The mission of The Lion & Lamb Project is to stop the marketing of violence to children. We do this by helping parents, industry and government officials recognize that violence is not child’s play –and by galvanizing concerned adults to take action."

i got involved with the project when daphne white, the founder of the organization, did a chat with me on mommy chats. this was when i was doing mothering magazine sponsored chats. this is a subject that is near and dear to my heart, so i really was happy to learn about daphne and her organization.

during the chat, or after, i can't remember...i learned that daphne was shutting down the organization (the fight was getting too hard, and she wanted to move on with her life) and that the website would disappear as well. that site is a wealth of wonderful information. i couldn't let it disappear. so i offered to keep it up for her. and i still am. i did some original tweaking to fix some of the gobbly gook code, and fixed a mess of broken links. but i haven't really done anything since. i would like to actually go back to it when i find time and clean it up some more. i'm sure there are more broken links now.

anyway, i was just thinking about this recently...since my son is at a very impressionable age. i have always been very adamantly against violent play for children. violent games, violent toys, violent shows, etc. i've kept it out of my children's lives as much as i possibly can. i seem to be in the minority.

i feel like a minority among minorities. i'm already a "freak" in that i am pro-natural birth and homebirth, and exclusive breastfeeding and extended breastfeeding, and cloth diapering, and being a family bedder, and anti-cry-it-out for my babies, and VERY anti-circumcision, and anti-spanking, and i believe in delaying academics and homeschooling and unschooling, and no soda for my children, and i'm sure there's more that i'm leaving out...

and trust me when i tell you i take NONE of those issues lightly. they've all come from a LOT of reading and learning and research and asking questions and spending time talking to so many people and on and on and on...and coming to my own conclusions on things.

add to that list my anti-violent play stance.

i already had this belief before i became a mom. i was raised by a preacher and his wife (my dad and mom) that were anti-violent play and didn't even allow us to pretend to shoot with our fingers, much less have toy guns or weapons of any kind. (i distinctly remember for my brother's 6th birthday, i think, that he got a cannon game that my mom made a big point of returning to the store.) so i was raised this way.

but as an adult, studying child development at CSU Sacramento (later getting my bachelor's in Child Development), i learned even more that sold me on the belief that "violence is NOT child's play." at least it shouldn't be. this was a big part of my college education. and its why you won't find any quality preschools that will allow war toys in their programs.

so finding daphne and her organization was a godsend.

on that site is a wealth of research and proof of all the things that i had been taught as a child as well as taught as an educator. violence does not belong in childhood, even pretend violence.

i firmly believe this.

but, i am a minority on this. even among my vegetarian and peace-loving anti-tv hippie-esque friends (i'm not sure what hippie really means anymore, since its meaning has greatly evolved in the 2000s, i think, but some would think that the circles i hang with are hippies. i don't necessarily agree...some yes, but not all of them.) sure, some of them are similar minded, but i am finding even among all these alternative lifestyles that i'm in the minority. so many people i hang with are fine with their children playing war or having toy weapons or watching violent shows or playing violent games, etc.

i am not trying to say that i would want to change them...because i wouldn't want anyone trying to change MY ideas on things, so i certainly am not on any mission to change anyone else's! they are all very intelligent and loving parents, so i don't doubt that this is something that they just don't have a problem with, just like i don't have a problem with some of the stuff i let MY kids do that they wouldn't dream of letting their own kids do. we all have our things we feel strongly about.

i just find it interesting, that's all.

i read a book awhile back that really cemented these beliefs in me:

i own a copy of this book and intend to read it again soon...tyren is going into this age where i fear he might get drawn into this type of play. i've seen hints of it already.

i don't worry about maeven. its really true that girls are drawn to different things than boys and she's just never had any desire to pursue violent play. plus she's older and past that impressionable age where she's wanting to mimic everyone around her. tyren is smack in the middle of that stage. i am very concerned about what and who i expose him to.

he's turning 4 in about a month. this is where i've seen violent play explode in the little boys i used to teach preschool to. so far its not happened with him and i hope i can handle anything that comes my way in a way that i can feel good about.

i'm trying not to go completely overboard and ban things. but i don't want it in our lives. i don't want him playing violent computer games (daddy plays his at night after the kids are in bed, deliberately to not expose them. and the kids know that daddy's games are not for children. i treat it the same as alcohol and coffee and soda. not for my children. when they grow up, they can choose for themselves. for now its our choice for them.) i don't want him having any violent toys, i don't want him being around children who obsess with violent play.

he is my little mimic. he picks up everything around him. so i try to surround him with what i WANT to influence him. so the children we hang with are children who don't go around pretending to kill each other all the time. its worked well so far. the only violent play i've seen with our weekly play dates are occasional sword play, which seems to mostly be very rare. and i just distract him when it happens. so far its worked.

if it comes up, i try to distract him casually...but if its something that it would be a big deal for me to get him away from, i try to stay back and look for an opportunity to distract him away from whatever it is (a tv show, a game, a toy, violent play, whatever)...so i don't flat out ban it for him because i think that would just make it more appealing to him. i figure if he gets a little exposure here and there it won't be the end of the world because he's not going to have that in his home life, which is the major part of his life, so hopefully that will be enough to keep it from becoming an obsession. and i do see children who literally obsess on this sort of play. this is why i avoid these children.

yes, i'm picky. but i'm ok with that. i know that what i feel is right for me and my kids. my husband understands and agrees with me. he doesn't want them exposed to this stuff any more than i do. probably he doesn't feel as strongly as me, since he did have plenty of violent play as a child and turned out to be quite a kind and caring husband and father. so obviously just because a child engages in this sort of play they don't ALWAYS turn out to be gang bangers and thugs.

but that doesn't mean i'm ever going to be ok with letting my child play that way. just because its not a given doesn't mean its ok. just because some smokers don't develop lung cancer doesn't mean its healthy to smoke. just because some alcoholics don't pickle their liver doesn't mean its healthy to drink excessively. you get the point.

its not ok with me and it probably never will be ok with me to have children that play violent games and play with violent toys or watch violent shows. sure there will probably be a time later in childhood where i'll be more ok with things because they will be mature enough to handle more. but that doesn't mean i'll ever be really comfortable with it. heck, i don't like that my husband enjoys hacking up monsters either! i'm not ok that my brother is drawn to really dark and twisted books and movies. it is really sick and bizarre to me and i don't get it. probably never will.

i am working hard at just keeping this out of my children's lives as much as i possibly can, but not to the point where i feel i'm going really overboard. i know it doesn't feel right to make a big deal in front of my children's friends...so i just play each situation as it comes and try to calmly deal with it when it arises. during the toddler and preschool years, i found it fairly easy to take my kids into another room to play when family members would put on games or shows that i felt were inappropriate for my children to watch (no small feat, but doable)...and i continue to do this as i feel is needed, and adam does as well. thankfully he agrees with me on this and so he notices inappropriate things as much as i do.

and now that maeven is older and just the personality she is, she knows when things are inappropriate and covers her eyes or walks away. she isn't drawn to it anymore than i am. and i suspect she feels about it the way i do, sometimes physically ill by what some people find entertaining. she's so much like me in so many ways. she also works at helping to shield her little brother from things. sometimes i have to tell her to relax a little because she goes overboard sometimes...but i really appreciate that she's on my side with this. she knows when to take her brother to play elsewhere because someone is doing or putting on something inappropriate.

it does get harder and harder as tyren gets older though. because before he was pretty oblivious. now he's getting more aware of things. hopefully he'll be like my brother, and not really care that much about what mommy and daddy are distracting him from. tim never seemed to care much about the banned war play. neither did i. some kids, i know, would make it a continual battle. hopefully it won't come to this. if it does, i may have to compromise my principles a bit to avoid the battles...but i won't compromise them completely. if tyr turns out to be a child that its a huge battle to keep him away from these sorts of things (and i am of the mindset that some is taught, but some IS innate. i'm not totally hard core.) i will have to figure out some ways to make it ok with both of us. not sure what that will look like, but i'm open to it if it comes to that.

i just hope it doesn't come to that. i can't see me ever fully relaxing about violent play. like i doubt i'll EVER be ok with him having a toy gun. squirt guns, sure, we already have those because they are fun and none of the ones we have even resemble a real gun, if my son even knows what one is. and when we play we don't pretend to shoot each other, we squirt with water. and we call them water squirters, which they are. i'm ok with that. and there might be more things i'll be ok with...but i don't ever see myself ok with him having ninja turtles or g.i. joe or power rangers. probably won't ever be ok with that.

but i've learned a lot of things from being a parent...and one of the biggest is never say never. so i try to keep a somewhat open mind...and keep steering my children in the direction i want to see them go.

i just hope i can handle it as well as my parents did and have it be a non-issue like it was in my childhood. times are really different now, so we'll see.