Monday, August 6, 2012

Nature Games

Don't just turn your kids loose outside to play! Make a game out of it!! Explore! Discover!

What kid doesn't love adventure, challenge and to impress their parents!? 

Given if they can't read you obviously have to help them--but that just means that you get to bond thru your involvement!!   

Make the natural world an integral part of their childhood memories & it'll remain a permanent fixture in their lives.  

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Poison on the Grocery shelves

I am a naturally detail-oriented person ("anal" as many like to say), in every aspect of my life: my house, my schedule, daily to do lists (vs most people's weekly) and especially what I put in my mouth.  EVERY cook out I go to I bring my own plate and flatware & get comments about it. In fact the things I get the most flack for are: that I never eat on/with disposable dinnerware, I never drink water from the tap, I buy organic as often as fiscally possible and I'm ridding my house of all things plastic.

WHY? They always ask... Here's why:
In charge of all bodily functions are your brain and your endocrine system--your brain keeps you alive and your hormones tell your body what to do and when to do it. Hormones are a delicate thing--one missed signal can cause BIG issues.  For example--my son was born with Hypospadius, a condition that effects the development of the penis. (Fellas, stop cupping yourself!) This condition is caused by endocrine disruptors, chemicals charading around as hormones.  This obviously happened in-utero and thus was caused by chemicals is MY body.

Some of the biggest sources of endocrine disruptors: Plastic, unfiltered water, and chemicals such as pesticides, herbicides, & insecticides--hmm, I wonder why I do those things my family teases me about?? Curious isn't it?  I am by no means flawless in my environmental efforts--I'm a single mom and student, I do what I can with what I can afford--it's a work in progress. My next step is not to buy ANYTHING even remotely tied to Monsanto.

WHY? You may ask... *sigh* there are few words to describe the level of evil that company is at. First, Monsanto is actively trying to control the food supply of the entire world--if not with their chemicals (herbicides/pesticides/insecticides) than with their patented seeds (you read right... patented.) They are driving out small family owned farms, they sell 'suicide' seeds that only live a year (causing farmers to buy seed every year)... they go around farms and test to make sure none of the pollen/seeds from nieghboring Monsanto farms isn't on Uncle joe-bob's farm, cuz if it is he loses the farm!! Nevermind he had NO idea of their presences, or that the wind is responsible for the transfer!
 OH! And let's not forget the GMO's!! Genetically Modified Organisms. They are in your food. The FDA decided (for you) that you didn't need a warning label on the majority of the products containing them! How considerate. Monsanto (years ago) created a potato that, when eaten by bugs, formed crystal shards in their stomachs and killed them. They then shipped all those 'harmless' potatoes to McDonald's for french fries.
Yup you ate that! And didn't even know it!

I, myself, plan on trying to know better. So these brands are now barred entry to my kitchen!!
My son's 'condition' was surgically corrected, but in his future is a time period (of several years) where his body will be awash with surging hormones--oh yeah, puberty!!  I plan on there being as few Endocrine disruptors in his body as possible (and not just to try to avoid another surgery).  If I ever have any other children I'd like very much for them NOT to have any issues I can trace back to choices I made (ignorant to their severity).

How many of these brands are in YOUR kitchen!?

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Better Bribes for Better Behavior

Potty Training is without question one of the most frustrating challenges in parenting. No parent will argue this.  Case in point: My son has been urinating in the toilet for over a year but still refuses to poop in it.  I’ve been told to try a vast variety of ideas and strategies to get him to do so, all of which involve some kind of bribe. Now I never wanted to be the type of parent that relied on that technique, but with the stresses I’ve faced over the past few months I have resorted to it.  The issue with that is WHAT you use to bribe them with.  This is where my problem lies.

I am NOT the type of parent who buys my child some random toy every time he does something right.  Do I buy him things for no reason? Yes. Every parent does. The things I buy are stuff like: A magnifying glass, a bug catcher, a tag book (to encourage him reading) or some other kind of educational toy. His dad’s family buys him all the toys he’ll ever want. So I don’t need to add to it by using toys as poopy prizes. 

Another common bribe is candy. I’m equally opposed to this. Candy is horrible for you and its only ‘good’ quality is its taste. I am not a big candy person—and in fact I hate chocolate. I cannot understand rewarding a child with something that isn’t good for them and establishing junk food as an incentive (thus planting the seed for all kinds of eating and health issues). Unfortunately you can’t use healthy foods as a reward since you want your children eating them as much as humanly possible!!

So what, oh what, do you use as incentive for good behavior, potty training and the like?   
Unique experiences.  I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, ‘things’ will never compare to ‘adventures.’  A child can go on for a day or a week about some awesome toy they got, but they’ll go on forever about the adventure they had at the aquarium and all the things they saw and did there. 

April was particularly stressful. My son was all over the map with his behavior—spending a good portion of his time in time outs and going to bed early. And we made a deal. If he straightened his act up and didn’t get any more bad reports from daycare until the end of the month we would go to the zoo.  Now every time he picks up one of his animal toys he goes on and on about seeing it at the zoo, what he saw it do, how he wants to see it again… and so on. 

So I figured, why not try that with Potty training?  After a long discussion with a cousin who specializes in rearing children we decided on a potty bank. My son gets a coin every time he goes potty, two if he goes on his own (without my asking him to), and FIVE if he poops (even just a little) in the toilet.  I sat him down and we discussed what HE wanted his prize to be. On the table were things like: going to another BIGGER zoo, the aquarium, going to a circus, (Yes, a toy was an option--it was the first HE threw out) and going to the Dinosaur museum. He picked the last one. We took a Simply Lemonade jug, decorated it with dinosaur stickers and every time he goes we discuss all the things we’ll see and do there—amping him up for going.
And all the money in that Potty Bank? Yup, he gets to spend it at the gift shop.  
SO he gets the experience AND a souvenir of it.  He's pretty stoked... as am I.

The first few days were great… then he got sick and we’ve been bouncing between constipation and diarrhea, but I’m still confident this will work (otherwise this might be my last post since I’ll lose my mind and get locked up in the looney bin!) 

But the point of this post is: As parents our job is to shape and mold our children into competent, well rounded, GOOD people. Rewarding them with objects of little or no permanent significance only feeds into our overly commercial, uber-consuming society. It feeds back into that unhealthy, destructive cycle. Why do that when you can reward personal growth and milestones by adding to their character, knowledge base or skill set? These milestones aren't just steps in development and physical growth, they're markers of personal growth and evolution--celebrate that by ADDING to it!!