Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Nanny 911

I've been watching reruns on Netflix of Nanny 911, a 2004 TV show where British Nannies come into the homes of American families having trouble with discipline and try to turn things around in a week's time.  Although the screaming and fussing can get irritating, it is nice to get a refresher on some of the parenting techniques that actually work.  There is definitely a pattern in the episodes I have seen so far.  The kids are going nuts.  The parents are going nuts.  Nanny comes in and just observes and takes notes the first day.  Many of the parents think that whatever she will do could not be effective on their kids.  She goes out to formulate her plan and brings back "Nanny's Rules."  Many of the same rules return from family to family.  There are usually between 4 and ten rules, I think.  Here are some I can remember:

Hands are not for hitting. (No hitting, kicking, biting, etc.)
Be respectful. (No name calling, sassing, etc.)
Use your words.  (Express your feeling with words rather than violence or shutting down.)
Take responsibility for your own things. 
No lying.
Wheeled toys stay outside.
Listen to each other.  (Lots of families are yelling a lot to be heard, but nobody is giving anyone else the time of day to be heard.)
Keep a schedule.

Nanny reminds the family that rules apply to ALL.  Whiny kids come from whiny parents.  Children learn disrespect from the model their parents set for them.  Violence breeds violence.

Next she brings out some tools to help them get organized.  Some families need a written schedule to follow.  Most need an incentive program.  There are points of some sort (marbles, magnets, tickets balls, fake cookies, etc.) the children can earn for good behavior or lose for poor behavior and a point collector (clear jar, magnet board, etc.).  Some parents need to learn how to put the kids in timeout--one minute per each year of age.  Plenty of them need to learn how to use tough love and realize that it is a child's prerogative to get upset and cry when they don't get what they want.  Parents show greater love for their kids by setting limits and being consistent than when they cave in and give the kids what they want just because they complain.  They will not be traumatized because they spend one entire night crying while you firmly and patiently return them to their own bed again and again.

Nanny reminds that behaviors are unacceptable, but children are not unacceptable, and we don't tell children that they are bad.  We say, "That is unacceptable" or "That's not okay," but we don't say, "You're being bad."

The parents who are resistant to the nanny and don't have faith in what she tells them are the ones whose problems persist.  The parents who give their best humble efforts to admit that what they've tried hasn't been working and are ready to listen to a professional experience the greatest change in their families.

Each episode ends with an uplifting and hopeful wrap-up describing the great changes happening in the families, but it is clear that some families will fare better than others.  Many parents really need to go to get some couples therapy to work out their relationship issues that are spilling over to the kids.

I think this is a really great program.  Surprisingly, my children enjoy watching it with me.  I was a little worried that they'd learn some naughty behaviors from watching these other kids after they saw some children literally climbing the walls (I saw the light go on in their minds--"I didn't know you could do that!") but usually they look at me regretfully and say, "We do that sometimes, too."  I thank God that my children are not as wild as the ones I see on this show, but since we started watching this, we've been able to tweek some things in our own home and enjoy a little more peace.

This Little Piggy

My little Buddy loves to play the piggy game.  Most people know the usual: "This little piggy went to market" wiggling the big toe, "This little piggy stayed home" for the next toe, "This little piggy had roast beef," so on, "This little piggy had none."  "And this piggy cried 'Wee wee wee!' all the way home" while you run your fingers up his leg and belly.  My kids have loved it since they were tiny and want me to do it again and again.  I got tired of saying the same thing over and over, so I started changing what the piggies would do.  "This little piggy went to a restaurant, this little piggy stayed in bed, this little piggy brushed his teeth, and this little piggy ate some spaghetti.  This little piggy cried 'Woo woo woo!" all the way to Grandma's house."  Now we take turns making up silly things for the pigs to do.  Those tiny fingers wiggling my toes are so cute.  My children love the attention and time I spend with them to play this game, and now it isn't so dull for me!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Raspberry Preserves

My mother kindly said that my raspberry preserves were the best she's ever tasted.  What a compliment!  And it was only my first time.  I followed the recipe from the paper insert of the Sure-Jell fruit pectin.  It comes in a little yellow box like Jell-O.  There is a recipe for freezer jelly, cooked jelly and cooked jam.  I made cooked preserves, but it was something in the middle of jam and jelly.  I didn't know which it was, so I took an average of the amount of sugar between the two and cooked it at an average time between the two recipes.  (Also I only had half as much raspberries to contribute, so I cut all ingredients in half.)  It took quite a lot of time to get the seeds out of the berries.  This is what I did:
I had to scrape the berries against my wire strainer with a spoon to strain them.  It was difficult and time consuming.  My husband says his Nana has some sort of contraption rather like a mortar and pestle she uses to de-seed her berries.  I may have to invest in one of these, now that I'll be gathering raspberries from my own yard every year.

Some of the berries had sections where the bumps were white instead of red.  I imagine it is from the wasps sucking out the juice, but I don't know.  Anyway, I ripped those parts off.  I also discarded the mushy old ones.  From a 6 cup/ 48 oz. bowl of berries, I made just over a third of that in--in--what should I call it? Not juice... berry goo.  After all was done, I had 7 of these tiny jars (1/3 cup each) of marvelously delicious preserves.  I decorated them fancy to give away, but I think I will have to keep a few more for myself than I thought, after all that work turned such a small yield.  My son is thrilled to have his very own jar and refuses to open it or share it.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Short Story Contest at LDS Publisher

LDS Publisher is having a writing contest.  (See the button on the bottom right of my blog page.)  I have been thinking about entering, but I haven't had much time to write something.  Becoming a published author is on my "Bucket List," but I have a lot of work to do.  I've written a simple children's story and been rejected by several publishers so far.  It has been a good learning experience to find out how the publishing world works a bit.

Magic Tree House Series

My daughter has started reading the Magic Tree House series.  There's somewhere around 40 books in the series.  Basically some kids happen upon a tree house with a library in it.  When they look in the books and wish they could be there, the world around them changes to match the story.  I read the first one, Dinosaurs Before Dark.  I give it my parent's approval.  It is a good transition from picture books to chapter books.  The plot line is simplistic, but exciting (well it was for her, but not for me).  There were a few science facts about dinosaurs in the first book, and I imagine there would be something to learn from each of them, but I don't know.
I'm not going to give this book a star rating because I didn't really enjoy it very much, but Belle (age 7) reads them in one sitting and asks for more.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Bottling Peaches

I gathered nearly 200 of the juiciest, sweetest peaches I've ever eaten in my life from my very own tree this summer.  What a treasure I have!  My friend taught me how to can them so I could preserve them for later.  I've never canned anything before, and it has been a great learning experience.  Here's what I learned. 

Cut the peaches in the groove all the way around.  Pull one half away from the pit and then use the knife, a spoon, or your fingers to pry the other side off.  If the peach isn't ripe enough yet, you won't be able to get it separated without squashing the whole peach.  If they are sort of green, leave them on the counter for a couple days until they ripen up.  They should be soft when you press them with your finger.  You can peel the skin right off if they are ripe.  The ones that weren't quite ripe needed a little help with the knife.  Blemishes are okay because they come off with the skin.  If not, cut out the bad spots.  Collect the skins and pits for the compost pile if you have one.
Slice the peaches and put them in jars.  I discovered it was a good idea to be sure all the lids were off the jars before you get your hands all sticky.  Wearing an apron can help keep your clothes clean.  Fill the jars, and press them down gently to make room for more.  Mix about 2 cups (16 oz) of water with 1/4-1/3 cups (2-3 oz) of sugar.  Stir it to dissolve the sugar.  You may want to let it rest while you are cutting peaches to be sure it dissolves well.  Make more later if you run out.
Pour it over the peaches, and then use a spatula to gently press against the side to release some of the air bubbles.
Wipe the rims and threads of the jar with a clean cloth to get off any spills.  Pour boiling water over the lids and leave in hot water until you are ready to put them on.  Use a fork or one of those fancy sticks with a magnet on the end.
Hand screw on the lids (not real tight).  Aren't they pretty?  I love the red edges, but that disappears after cooking.
Put them in the rack of the water bath pot.  Fill it with water (you could be heating some up in the mean time).  My friend said to do it up to the rim, but I have since read elsewhere to cover it with an inch or two.  Put the lid on and boil it for 25 minutes.  This timing might be different depending on where you live (altitude), so I suggest actually looking up a recipe online or in the Ball Blue Book.
Remove them if you have a tool to do it without burning yourself, or remove the pot from heat and let the water cool.  Let them cool for 12 hours on a towel or wire rack.  Check the seal to see if it pops.  If it does, you'll have to put them in the fridge.  If not, you can keep them on a shelf.  You may want to unscrew the ring to see if there is any water trapped in it so it won't rust.  My peaches floated up to the top and made a lot of juice underneath.  It must be normal, but this is my first time. 
Do I have any readers more experienced than I?  I would love to hear if you have any tips or tricks.  Please leave a comment.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Little Big Planet

When the Playstation network went down a while back, they gave us 2 free game downloads for our PS3.  We got Little Big Planet.  It is a really fun game!  I'm not really that interested in spending my time on video games, but this game made a bridge for me and my husband to do something we both enjoyed.  You have control over adorable little "sack people" and run around a brightly colored world of obstacles collecting stickers and bubbles.  Much of the game requires team work, which made it a fun family activity.  Even four year old Sweetheart enjoys the game and can play it.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Fablehaven: A Review

I love reading children's and young adult literature.  It isn't so much because the stories are better, but because they are short!  Being the busy mom that I am, I have trouble committing to a huge novel.  When I sit down with a good book, I find it very difficult to put it down.  I love the altered state of consciousness I get into--I am transported into someone else's life for while.  I enjoy the escape.  But when the book is too long, either my productivity suffers, I have to exercise a lot of self control to put it down, or I end up putting it on the shelf and never finishing it because the story gets cold over time.


I finished Fablehaven by Brandon Mull yesterday.  It did not disappoint.  I certainly love a good story that involves fairies.  My mother and daughter and I all share an affinity to sparkles and tiny things.  I loved the description of the preserve and wish that I could visit the garden.  (I am reminded of an exquisite garden I once visited in Malaga, Spain...)  The story is almost a mystery, so I will not divulge many details here, or I will spoil the ride should you choose to pick up this book.  I found myself getting emotional over Seth's deliberate disobedience and all the trouble he caused (it struck a chord I could relate to).  I liked that there were discussion questions listed at the end of the book.  Wouldn't that be fun to actually be involved in a book discussion?  I haven't done that since I was in college.  Unfortunately, my book club meets at a bad time for me.  I read all the books on the list, but have never attended a meeting!

Fablehaven receives my four star rating.
(No foul language, but some vivid descriptions of scary stuff)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Weeding with Scriptures

Where I go to church, we have a monthly fast and testimony meeting when the bishop turns the time over to the members after sacrament to come up to the pulpit and testify what they know to be true.  It is a faith building experience to hear others' testimonies and even more so to bear your own.  This past week, Belle's best friend took a turn.  She is a darling seven year old girl with wide eyes and a bright face.  She spoke of a lesson her mother had taught her that "touched her heart" about how reading our scriptures is like pulling weeds.  If the weeds are left to grow, they will eventually choke our testimony, so we must continue to read and study the scriptures to keep our testimonies strong and growing.  The simple faith of this young girl was an inspiration to many.  A few people commented on what she said, and several people gained the courage to stand and take a turn because of the example she set.  And here I am several days later still thinking about it.  The simple faith of young children can make a dramatic impact on all around!