Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Total Mom Makeover - Week One Day Three

Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will always hurt. This is what my mom used to say to my brothers and I growing up. It is hard to realize the magnitude of power that words have until you grow up. But even then, controlling your words and how you use them is a struggle - especially for moms!

Minimize negative comments and maximize your positive ones!

While what we say is important, what we hear can influence our lives as well. Perhaps a comment from a well meaning friend, your mother-in-law is trying to be helpful or maybe you are your own worst critic. You don't have what it takes. Don't get your hopes up. When you hear these words tearing you down, be ready with a positive message for yourself. I am a smart, creative woman. I can do this! You need to believe these positive messages when you tell them to yourself. Hannah Keeley says it best in her book TMM, "Make them real, say them out loud, support them with you actions. If you believe you are smart, intelligent, and creative, then you will act accordingly."

Yes, this includes words that you tell yourself!
When I get home, I immediately relax and feel that comforting homey feeling. I also seem to be much more relaxed with how I talk to my husband and children. Of all the places where we need to work on what we say, our home should be on the top of the list. Our children absorb and listen to everything we say and do. There will be enough challenges out in the world for them and it's our job at home to create unshakable confidence by the words we choose.

While all communication is powerful, the most powerful communication by far, is what occurs within. Everyone has the tendency to act in behaviors that keep us from reaching out goals. You stay on the couch and watch TV when you want to be working out. You sleep in when you really wanted to get an early start to the day. You want to be compassionate with the kids and then you start yelling. You must keep you vision clear and ask yourself, "What do I really want?" This is the question that can help keep you focused even when you feel like giving up. Practice asking yourself this question daily and in many situations. We face temptation everyday and our body and mind long for instant gratification, even when we really desire something more.

The daily exercise for today is to write down these four categories in your journal: home, health, family and life. Under each one write a positive and empowering message to show the vision that you have for that area in your life. Speak these messages out loud and throughout the day. It's as simple as writing, "I love my home" and helping to transform your attitude for the day. Write down some replacements for the negative things you say around the house as well and practice using those.

Repeat after me: I am a beautiful woman who is creating a life that I love!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Week One - Day Two
When was the last time you re-evaluated your vision? You know, the kind of vision that motivates you and gives you that drive everyday to better yourself and get you up in the morning. Before starting my TMM I never even had a vision or goal to work towards, I was just hoping to make it through the day! I will admit though, that I always had daydreams and fantasies, which were fueled by watching reality TV and seeing other people put more energy into their lives than I was wondering, "why can't I have energy like that? why can't my house look like that? I wish I had the energy to dress nicely and put on makeup" Always dreaming but never doing until I read this:
One person dreamed of becoming somebody. Another remained awake and became.
For some reason, this quote really struck a chord with me. Holy moly, everything I hope and dream won't just happen, I have to make it happen! These past few years I have literally been waiting for that day when I wake up and I'm back in shape, the house looks great & my life is back in order. I kept waiting and hoping and of course nothing ever changed! I'm hoping to put together an awesome printable with that quote on it for my desk to remind me that you can't just sit back and wait for things to happen. You have to make them happen!
Our exercise today is to go over your list of should that we made yesterday. Use the list as inspiration to create your vision of what you want out of life. Now, describe this new woman! Be descriptive as possible. How do you feel? What do you wear? How do you interact with your husband and kids? This is the new you that we will now work towards and carry this vision around with you during the journey.
What is your vision of you?

Monday, November 18, 2013

Total Mom Makeover - Week 1 Day 1

My Total Mom Makeover started completely by accident. I was searching my local librarys listings for The Total Money Makeover (my husband and I will begin our money makeover this coming January), which I requested, but Hannah Keeley's Total Mom Makeover (TMM) also came up in the search. I'm a sucker for any book mom related, so on a whim, I requested it as well.

Fast forward a week and I picked up both books this afternoon at the library (along with the first Magic Tree House book for my oldest son - I've heard rave reviews about them for kids!) and quickly glanced through the TMM while I waited to pickup my oldest from school. Even while glancing through, I could feel my excitement rising and couldn't wait to get home and start my life changing journey.

Week One - Day One
Everyday I read through the days entry and follow the Daily Exercise which involved writing in your personal journal. I'm using my favorite Miquelrius striped notebook, finally the occasion to write in it!
Our first task is to write down all the "shoulds" that we carry around with us all the time. These are thoughts that bug us about our home, health, family and life. This is to help ease the burden and for a little while, not worry about them! A couple of my "shoulds" are:
  • I should keep the house cleaner.
  • I should spend more time with the boys.
  • I should work out regularly.
Then I made the decision that I want more out of life! I want to be the best mother, wife, homemaker, and woman that I can ever be! The second task was to finish this sentence "I have decided..." and make it whatever you desire for you home, your health, your family and your life. Follow me on my 6 week journey to a better life, full of happiness and joy - we deserve it!
How have you improved your life today?

Monday, February 11, 2013

Alphabet Series - The Big Alphabet Picture

Yesterday, at brunch with my parents, we were discussing our alphabet series, and how we have been working to saturate our space with the letter of the week.

My dad brought up a fabulous point during our discussion: not only was it important for O to learn each letter independently, it was also important for him to see it as part of the alphabet, as a whole.

My dad shared that when he was younger, he struggled to understand parts of concepts on a micro level, unless he got to see the macro, big picture.

Because O seems to have a lot of learning traits that my dad exhibited as a child, we thought we should take this idea in to consideration.

My husband and I decided that we should display the alphabet somewhere in our living room, as reference, for when we are learning an individual letter - we can point up to the letter in the alphabet, and talk about the letters around it.

Here's what we came up with:
Of course, this puts an end to our physical flash carding days (sad face) until we get another oversized alphabet set, but we feel as though this visual reference is more important at this point.

The boys have already noticed the new addition to the living room, and I frequently find them staring up at it.  O will point and name each letter as he goes, and X (being only 20 months) will just point up to the letters and look back and forth.

I think this will be a great addition to our saturation attempts.  It's also great for a new game of letter seeking: we ask O where a certain letter is and he seeks it out from on the wall.  I think he will begin to get used to where the letters are, and will have an easier and easier time finding where each letter is.

Just another step towards total alphabet saturation in this house!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

D is for Dinosaurs

This week is all about the letter D, and D is for Dinosaurs!

Our "alphabasket" has a LOT of variety this week!

More-so than any previous week we have lots of BOOKS!
And why is that, you ask? We only had two books in the house about dinosaurs - the Dinosaur Alphabet, and the Kid's First Dinosaur Encyclopedia.  So we used our brand-spanking-new library card to take out a few additional books on dinosaurs!

We also have a Magic Paint Poster book.
It is technically "monster" themed, but there are several pages of dinosaurs!

We have a Micro Terrarium of a prehistoric Fern for us to plant in its egg. (this will also be a nice little lead in to next week's theme of "earth"!)

We have some model magic to make our own dinosaur bones (or whatever shape O ends up making) to later dig out of our sensory bin! 

And, finally, in our Alphabasket, we have a set of stickers to decorate our letter "D" with!

And, as always, we're saturating our space with the letter "D":  We have "big" and "little" D drawn in window markers on our large bay window:
I've also drawn a large capital D for our living room easel; and I've cut a letter D out of cardboard for the boys to play with.

This week, we'll also be going to the Science Museum of Minnesota to see their dinosaur fossil exhibit (and explore their other exhibits)!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

C is for Color - Snow Coloring Turned Bath Coloring!

Today I took O outside to use our color-filled spray bottles on the blank canvas that is snow!

For this activity we used: 
*Dollar store spray bottles (or maybe target dollar section..?)
*Washable children's paint

I had the bottles pre-mixed from a summer activity that involved using the spray bottles to paint canvas - hence the use of children's paint instead of food coloring or another method.  I will say, food coloring, in my experience, does stain clothes and certain surfaces. So, if we do this activity again in the future, I'll probably still use children's washable paint mixed with the water….it only takes a small amount of paint to get a pretty rich color in the water.

Once I pulled out the bottles, O got pretty excited.  He LOVES using his spray bottle in the bath tub during bath time.  He saw that I had several bottles and I think his little mind was completely blown. 

We got all suited up -snow pants, boots, the whole nine yards - and went outside.  I set up the bottles in a row, so O could identify each color, and easily chose which one he wanted to spray with.  He chose orange.  We started playing...
and…even though O was clearly having a great time:
…We discovered the hard way that it was 2 degrees with wind at 20 miles per hour………mommy should have checked the weather before we bundled up! (look at that face…trying so hard to stick it out!)  Even as I was telling O that we had to go inside because he was shivering like crazy, he kept saying "no, colors!"

I didn't want to disappoint the poor guy…who had suited up so diligently and nicely to play with the color spray bottles.  

So we moved our little activity to the bath tub!
Again, I lined up the bottles on the ledge so O could reach them.  We filled the tub with water and BUBBLES!  (What better indoor substitute for snow…than bubbles!?)

O took his time deciding which color to use, and labeled them as he pointed to the various bottles:

O explored with spraying the walls of the tub….

and then spraying his hands!
(he would spray it then immediately rinse it off.  But it was a GREAT sensory activity for him.  I was proud that he even considered doing it!) 

In retrospect, I'm glad that we moved in to the bath tub.  Because of O's sensory issues, he usually hates bubbles.  But he was so excited about the spray bottles and seeing the colors, that he tolerated the bubbles really well.  He would frequently kick the water to move the bubbles away, or rinse himself off in the running water, but nonetheless he was IN the tub WITH bubbles.  A nice little milestone for my boy.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Alphabet Series - Saturating Your Space with the Letter of the Week

Every week, I tell you how we saturate our space with the letter of the week, but I wanted to really show you how prevalent we make each letter for O to see.

Every week, as I've told you, I write the letter on the big art easel that we put in the living room.
We put this easel in the living room for the express purpose of displaying the letters.  Every day, I bring out the markers for 15 or 20 minutes at a time for the boys to color on the letter - and to see if O has interest in tracing the letter.

I've also begun writing the big and little version of the letter on our big, bay window:
(Just to show how visual and obvious the letters written on the window are)

 And to show how big I draw them:
Again, every day I bring out the window markers for the boys to draw on the window - in hopes that they will find interest in specifically coloring in the letters.

In addition to saturating our space on a larger scale, I frequently bring out our white board, for O to learn to trace the letters on. 

O is actually doing REALLY well with tracing on this "medium sized" scale - I think its the first step in developing the fine motor skills to trace the letters on even smaller scales.

Every week, I cut the letter out of a piece of cardboard - usually from one of our cereal boxes:

Just like with the easel, the window, and the white board, I bring out the markers and crayons for a little while each day, in hopes that O will want to color in the letter.  Just the mere exposure to the shape is beneficial, in my opinion.  So far, X has had more interest than O in coloring in the letter, and I'm fine with that - the exposure is good for X, too!

I try to put a lot of emphasis on the letter throughout the week (clearly!), while we also work on the concept associated with that letter.  Getting O interested in the letters, thus far, has been easier than I thought.  Then again, with the amount of saturation I do in our space, I probably shouldn't be too surprised!

I hope you've gotten a few ideas on how to saturate your space with the letters for your kiddos!  What else do you do to expose your children to the letters of the alphabet?