Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Sibling battles in our family

My girls are 20 months apart: Karis is 3 1/2 and Karlie is 20 months. We didn't have any problems until Karlie was about 5 months old and started crawling... right to Karis' toys! At first, Karis was really tickled that Karlie could crawl, but she soon realized that Karlie put all her toys in her mouth and chewed on them! YUCK! It is amazing how quickly a toddler can learn the word "mine!" :) While Karlie was so little and some of Karis' toys could be dangerous for her, we quickly taught Karis which ones she had to share and which ones she had to play with on the table, on the couch, or on her bed where Karlie could not reach her. She also saved several special toys for when Karlie was taking her morning nap. That seemed to make sense to Karis; she loved the idea that some toys were just for her and and this point she was still fascinated by the "baby" and she really enjoyed playing with Karlie with the toys that were safe for her.

So we really didn't have too many problems after that until Karlie was about a year old and started walking and could reach everything. Karlie had no fear and would just tackle Karis (who was twice her size :) and grab whatever was in her hand! At first Karis was amazed and would just stare at her in disbelief, but as it got more common, she started taking matters into her own hands, screaming "no Karlie!" and grabbing the toy back. This is still the major struggle in our house, 8 months later, as Karlie is usually the instigator in most disagreements. She absolutely LOVES to get Karis' attention by taking her toy and running away! But I can encourage you in that we can definitely see progress :)

We have a very similar approach to Leah in that we want to get to the heart of the girls, rather than just demand perfect behavior. At our house a key word is "kind." The girls know what it means and know how to show kindness because we talk about it often. When they have a disagreement, I always ask if they are being kind. I ask Karlie if Karis likes it when she takes the toy. I ask Karis if she thinks it makes Karlie happy when she screams at her. So instead of "who had the toy first?" we bypass that and they immediately know that they are both in the wrong. After addressing their hearts, I do address the behavior. I reprimand Karlie for taking the toy and if it is a repeated offense, I spank her. I also usually give her back the toy to hold and instruct Karis to ask her for it in a loving manner (Karlie, would you please give me back my toy?") Then Karlie has to give Karis the toy. If Karis has assaulted her in any way to get the toy back, then Karis will usually get a spanking as well. And if Karis has been hoarding the toy, we have discussions on sharing.

This scenario has been played out many times in our house with slight variations over the last 8 months, and it does get tiresome to walk them through it, step by step, every time. But I want to encourage you that it is worth it and they are definitely learning! I've been in the kitchen doing dishes and have heard Karis saying, "no Karlie; I had that; please give that back to me!" instead of the normal shrieking and it melts my heart. And often, when Karis isn't giving her attention by getting upset at her, Karlie will actually calmly give it back!

Another issue we have just recently started dealing with is Karis telling her sister when she has something that Karlie cannot have. Karis currently has a big pink sparkly ring that she loves and whenever she finds it to put on, she will go right to Karlie and say, "Karlie, this ring is for me; it is not for you!!" I don't think she is actually trying to be unkind, but she just wants to make sure Karlie leaves her precious ring alone! Of course, as soon as Karlie sees it, she starts fussing to have it! And the same scenario plays out with other favorites: food, clothes, and other things that are indeed Karis'. So we are really working on trying to make her understand that she is not being kind when she says such things to Karlie and I usually make her let Karlie play with it for a while.

So what kind of things do your children struggle together with? I'd love to hear any ideas you have for dealing with any kind of sibling rivalry!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Being Intentional with the Bible (for both myself and the kids)

The girls and I have a "Bible Time" every morning on the couch. I had always thought we would do devotions before bed every night, but it always got too late and the girls were tired and fussy and not able to focus. So instead we switched to singing before bed and Bible time in the morning. This has just worked so much better for our family!

At night, we sing a combination of hymns (such great theology in most hymns!) and fun Bible songs.

We have our Bible Time before we get started with our chores for the day. We usually go outside to play first thing in the morning (before it gets too hot!) and then come inside grab our water bottles and settle on the couch for our Bible time. The girls have gotten all their wiggles out and can really focus well. Our Bible Time consists of:

1. "Questions" -- I recently got this "Catechism For Young Children" set from Doorposts and we have really enjoyed it! I make a game out of asking Karis questions each morning and she uses a fake microphone to answer. I love the great theological foundation these questions lay for her and you would be amazed at how often she brings them up in random conversation.

2. Scripture Memory -- Right now we are going through the verses listed in My 1st Book of Memory Verses. We usually go over 2 verses that we learned previously and then repeat a new verse several times. I usually make the scripture into a song, rhyme, or rap, and often add hand motions to make it more interesting and easy for Karis to remember.

3. Bible Stories -- We have several children's bible story books and I usually just let Karis choose a few to read for the day. My personal favorite for her age is The Big Picture Story Bible, but there are many that she enjoys. Sometimes we read them for a half hour, and other days we only read 1 story. I want her to enjoy the time so right now I base it totally on her interest and how Karlie is doing entertaining herself. (Karlie usually starts off reading with us, but can't sit still as long as Karis and ends up doing puzzles after a little bit.) We just started "loosely" following the Bible reading plan on ABC Jesus Loves Me and I usually also teach them a song or two about whatever story we are focusing on for the week.

For Myself: This week is also about sharing ideas to help Moms be more intentional with the Bible and I have to be completely honest; I struggle in this area. I am much better at being intentional with my kids! I try to have my Bible Time in the morning before the girls get up, but if they randomly get up earlier than usual, my time is cut short. And I have a hard time finding any other time in my day. I am not one who can study at night because I just fall asleep :)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Care Calendar and some recipes

I just wanted to let you know that I absolutely LOVE these online meal organizers! My favorite part about them is the e-mail reminder that they send to the person bringing the meal. My first experience with planning meals was horrible, because I felt badly about calling to remind people. (Like I was insulting their intelligence or something.... I thought that if they signed up for a date, obviously they would take a meal on that day!) Our church usually offers to bring meals M/W/F for a month after a new baby, so by the end of the month, people were forgetting and my poor friend was left scrambling for food at the last moment. 

The next time I planned meals for a friend, I used Care Calendar (very similar to the other meal-planning websites mentioned) and it worked beautifully! The calendar was filled up almost by the end of the first week and I could tell that my friend was getting a delicious variety of food. Being able to see what everyone else is bringing is probably my second favorite thing about these online meal organizers :) 

Here are some of my favorite recipes for taking to new Moms. I've also included some muffin and breakfast bread recipes because it is always nice to take that along with a dinner so they can have something easy for breakfast! Feel free to leave comments about some of your favorite recipes for taking to friends -- I love to try out new recipes!!!

Freezer friendly options:
Cheesy Chicken Strips
Chicken Cordon Blue
Harvest Loaf
Zucchini Bread

Other Favorites to share with friends:
Poppyseed Chicken
Potato Soup
Pizza with Home-made crust
Ham Biscuits
Hawaiian Chicken Pile Up
Cranberry Chicken
Chicken Divane
Chicken Parmesan
Baked Ziti
Oatmeal Cranberry Muffins
Healthy Breakfast "cake"
Chocolate Breakfast Cake
Pumpkin Muffins