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Thursday, January 28, 2016

Sleeping in on the weekends--a thing of the past?

Saturdays used to be our lazy mornings--my husband and I would sleep in until 9 am, get up, enjoy breakfast, and just do things on our own schedules.  This was my precious time until my daughter was born and, hello, sleeping in was a total thing of the past!  With our early work schedules, both of my kids are routine-driven.  It doesn't matter if it's a weekend, or a week day, if they've stayed up until 3 hours past their bedtimes, or if we're in a totally different time-zone: they are up at exactly 6:15am CST every. day.  Obviously, my husband and I traded off with getting to sleep in, but many Saturdays we were both equally exhausted and then it was just a contest of "who slept in last weekend" (likely me) and arguing about whose turn it was (I just want all the turns!!). Say goodbye to sleeping in, right?  Well, no.  When my youngest was about 2.5 years old I decided, forget it, I need this time back. 

I missed getting a little extra sleep on the weekends and I was notorious for making really bad bedtime choices on Friday nights--I would stay up until midnight some nights just to get some "me time" on the couch watching a movie or late-night TV. So Saturdays were really painful for me--it was up and right to the coffee maker.  Saturdays were getting to be worse than weekdays because on weekdays I went to work and wasn't forced to be super fun and entertaining for anyone under the age of 6. Kids demand a lot of entertainment now-a-days!  But then, I started really questioning why I needed to be so "fun" at 6:30 in the morning.  

I started realizing that by getting up and doting on the kids an hour before I was ready to see the light of day, I was rewarding them and encouraging them to keep waking up early and having 50 billion "needs." I started changing things bit-by-bit.  I would get up, provide breakfast, go back to bed, and just lay there not quite sleeping, but not quite awake.  Soon, my older daughter realized that she was capable of getting her own cereal and milk and she felt pretty empowered by this discovery.  Once I figured that out, awesome!  I would tell her to get breakfast for the two of them and then I could go back to bed for a while longer until there was some other "emergency" that required attention.  Fast forward to today--kids get up, eat, and play by themselves for about an hour before they wander in and ask us for something.  Hooray!!!  Sleeping in is so awesome!!

Of course, there are consequences of sleeping in.  For example, my children make an epic mess every Saturday when no one is watching them.  Typically the game is to take every toy on the upper level of the house and put it into a gigantic pile that they call "the nest." This is a pain to clean up--the only plus side is that my daughter is pretty helpful when it comes to clean-up time.  Still, we'll probably spend an hour arguing with the younger one about why he has to help.

We aren't the only ones that feel like the clean-up is worth the extra hour of sleep, though. One of my co-workers shared that she uses the exact same strategy.  She did mention an epic fail with fig squeeze pouches that the kids got all over their carpeting, walls, linens, and just everywhere you can imagine-- she said, on the plus side, she was happy to discover it wasn't poop smeared everywhere!  Moral of the story is that sleeping in is possible, it gets easier as your kids get older, and it's OK to challenge kids with some independence.  Just be prepared for some surprises when you get up! And of course, keep your home kid-proof so you can rest easy when you do get that extra hour of sleep.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Tale of Despereaux Review

Several months ago, I started testing out reading longer chapter books to my 5-year-old at bedtime.  She is old enough to listen to the story without having pictures on every page.  This opened an entire door of reading possibilities for us!  Finally, I was looking forward to bedtime so I could see what happened to our favorite characters vs reading the same old picture books.  We got on a Kate DiCamillo kick--reading Because of Winn-Dixie and The Tiger Rising-- and Tale of Despereaux was on my "to read" list.  For some reason I was having an especially difficult time getting a copy of it from the library (this obviously speaks volumes to the popularity of this book), so I finally gave up and ordered a copy of our own. By far, this is my favorite Kate DiCamillo book. 

Tale of Despereaux is just so funny--I felt a bit bad about laughing at some parts of this book, because the subject matter wasn't all just roses and butterflies, but I just couldn't stop myself as I was imagining some of the ridiculous scenes!  For example, the queen that dies from a rat falling into her soup and the scream leading up to said death--perfectly described and we could not stop laughing about it! For some reason Kate has a thing for absent/deceased mothers since this is a theme in the other books we've read. 

Tale of Despereaux also gets the reader involved in the story.  The narrator keeps making side comments to the "reader" about what's going on--even asking us "What do you think?" We are asked to decipher the meaning of tough vocab words like "perfidy" based on context (it means deceitfulness; untrustworthiness).  A chapter or two later she even quizzes the reader to see if we remember what perfidy means!  We forgot, but it was still fun!  Although this sounds really academic and painful, it was done in such a fun and interactive way that kids will be clueless they are learning new things and even the adults will learn something!

On the "scariness" scale, this book was a little more challenging for my 5-year-old because there were several sections where she started freaking out and wondering if Despereaux was going to die. She gets really worried about this stuff, so I'll often have her flip through a book and look at some of the pictures to show her that, yep, the hero is still alive several pages later. We've also been having a lot of conversations about heroes of stories and how they are bound to face difficulties, but rarely die.  Not many people like books or movies where they kill of the hero! 

Anyway, Tale of Despereaux gets two big thumbs up from our family and you should definitely think about introducing this as a before-bed read for your elementary school-aged children!  I also found this great English class website where you can find vocab words and all kinds of goodies for casual discussion with your older child.  I'm sure this is a book we'll be reading over and over again!

Monday, January 18, 2016

Welcome!

Welcome to my new blog!  If you’ve found your way over here from Cloth Diaper Guru or if you’re just visiting—welcome! I’ll have to admit that I’ve been away from consistently blogging for quite some time. Cloth Diaper Guru was an amazing website that was very “how-to” and “Q&A” focused—I almost feel like it was a binder of protocols on how to be successful with starting to use cloth diapers.  As a researcher, I loved writing for Cloth Diaper Guru.  However, obviously I have thoughts and interests beyond just the cloth diapering and parenting space and I didn’t feel like Cloth Diaper Guru was the right venue to explore those various topics.  I was also beginning to lose a bit of my enthusiasm for blogging—I had been consistently blogging for the better part of three years and I honestly needed to take a sabbatical of sorts to focus on my new interests.   

As I get into developing this website (slowly, at my own pace), I’m sure there will be some bumps in the road.  I do hope you’ll stick with me as this site flowers into something great—an idea takes time to fully mature!  Thanks for visiting and please leave me a message with any kind comments or suggestions.