Friday, December 09, 2016

Your thoughts and words

I loved this vĂ­deo about a teacher in Israel who says,

"Teachers, headmasters, educators, your thoughts and the words that you use about a child will at some stage become the thoughts and words that the child thinks about himself."

This is exactly why the thought of putting Addie in a school here sends a chill up my spine. It's true, perhaps I just had bad experiences in Portuguese schools and I'm sure there are good teachers and (possibly?) good schools here. But I have yet to meet the Portuguese teacher who has this kind of "opposite" treatment with a problem child. Who tells him he is good and smart and well-behaved, and helps him become that way, instead of telling him the opposite and sometimes even verbally abusing him. Unfortunately, I'm not exaggerating. I've seen sad scenes with small children. And I've yet to see the school system here that promotes this kind of opposite treatment, instead of solidifying the stereotype the child already has. What bothers me most in schools here are the completely unnecessary meetings teachers have in every grade level where they "talk" about students. Past teachers tell new teachers about the students they will have, which ones are problematic, etc. When studies have shown that this kind of "passing on of information" only causes assumptions and stereotypes in teachers that influence how they treat their students. These meetings for me are pure crap-talking and totally non-Christian.

Anyway. This is also the kind of thinking I try to remind myself of as a mother and as my children's primary educator. The thoughts and words I use about them and also about the world will MOLD them. Huge responsibility. Reminds me of the other day when I said "what the heck?!" and Addie spend the rest of the evening yelling "what the heck?!" Luckily, she hasn't repeated anything worse yet.:P

Thursday, December 08, 2016

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Food for thought for stay-at-home-moms

...Photography by Made With Love Photography. If you live in the Lisbon area, please contact Marta for all your photography needs.

"Child rearing is not an easy task. It is a full-time job—a real job minus the quotation marks. Seven days a week, from morning to night, anyone who stays at home to take care of their children is constantly at work. As a job, it’s even been priced out at equating to a salary of $118,000. Weekends? Holidays? Sick days? Those go out the window as long as one’s child still needs care. It’s a job. Any woman, or man for that matter, who chooses to raise their children one-on-one and full-time should be proud and should be given the same respect as anyone who earns a paid salary."

"Of course, parenting goes well beyond a choice to stay at home or work, and one or the other does not guarantee better parenting. But research by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the National Center for Biotechnology Information shows that children who received one-on-one quality, loving care are less stressed and less aggressive than those raised in all-day day cares with larger caregiver-to-child ratios. Having a parent at home full time also teaches children to form healthy attachments and relationships, something that they carry on throughout their lives, as shown by the Center of the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning. This isn’t to say that children without stay-at-home moms or dads are automatically doomed, but it’s one more reason why it’s not a ridiculous decision on the part of those who decide to stay home."

"True life satisfaction can be found in everyday moments—yes, even in going to bed at night, exhausted, knowing that you have put in a hard day of work raising your kids and have been paid in memories instead of paychecks."

Monday, December 05, 2016

A spiral of aggression

...Addie playing stuffed animal "school" with a little friend that visited last week.

We were having a rough couple of weeks with a sudden increase in Addie's aggression/jealousy and my frustration/anger in dealing with it. It was terrible. The more I corrected her or chastised her, the more she would hit/kick/bite/throw things at/yell at her brother/friends/me.

It was like a spiral of aggression. Confronting her about it made it seem to get worse. I was dreading each day, filled with fear of what to do, hating having to reprimand all day, and feeling like we weren't going anywhere. Except upping the violence level.

Then I had this incredible epiphany. It was in part due to my husband's advice (he always has such great advice... single moms, how do you do it?!), my spiritual director's advice from a while ago and a blog post. The blog post was actually talking about facebook, but she was inspired by St. Francis of Assisi's prayer, "Where there is hatred let me bring your love, etc."

I realized I don't have to reprimand Addie. She's still small and most of her aggression was coming from being unable to deal with her emotions anyway. And "what you did to them you did to Me"... was I treating her as I'd treat Jesus?

So I started responding to any outbreak of aggression with a hug, a kiss, and a little prayer for Jesus to help her be gentle. And it's working. The aggression decreased almost to zero. And when it does happen, I don't get upset anymore. I feel like I have a plan, like I'm doing the right thing and like I have a long-term vision.

Sigh of relief.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

A vegetarian makes a turkey, part 2

I had just about decided we wouldn't celebrate thanksgiving this year... I was feeling it was a-great-idea-I-just-couldn't-quite-get-the-energy/time-do-to. But what is it about cooking this particular bird that gets me every time? I'm not sure. I don't even eat turkey!

So very last minute we decided to give it a go and we had people that live near us, including our parish priest, come over. It was soooooo worth it. It was wonderful. I made turkey, a pumpkin pie and chestnut puree and everyone else brought side dishes for the turkey. Turkey is surprisingly easy to make. It's just time consuming. I used this brine, then stuffed it with lemon, fresh thyme and onion, smeared it with butter all over and cooked it until it looked done. Next year I will get more professional and use an oven thermometer. ;)

I made everyone write down something they were thankful for and place it on a tree branch before we ate (see pic above). My favorites were the youngest kids' answers. What makes you really, really happy, I asked them. My two-year-old said "food" (!), a three-year-old said "laughter" and a five-year-old said "pictures".

After dinner I paraphrased and translated the book If You Sailed on the Mayflower in 1620, also for the second year in a row. I feel like I should get some kind of award for sharing American culture. ;) My favorite thanksgiving books are that one and also One Little, Two Little, Three Little Pilgrims for small children.

I used all plastic plates and silverware, but there was still a lot of clean up / headache the next day. Oh well. Still so, so worth it.