Mommy and Me Dates

I call them dates. I get people who get all weird when I say that. *eye roll* Every month we go out and have a meal or see a play etc. I teach him manners. We have fun. As he gets older I’ll teach him some more etiquette.  Oh! He and his friend Jon wrote their names today! (I wrote his ‘e’)

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Creating a Family Culture : Part One -Traditions

I want to talk to you about creating a family culture in your family. It is something I am working on in my own family.

What is a family culture?

A family culture encompasses everything that makes your family’s identity. This seems silly but imagine your family is a character in a story you are writing. Where did it come from? What does it believe in? What are its favorite past times? Favorite foods? What about political issues? What does it stand up for or against? What kind of personality does it have?

If you look around at families you know you might be able to see their personalities or culture. If not, try TV. There is always that super religious family. Or that family who is all about sports and competition. If you have ever seen Cheaper By the Dozen 2 you can see it really clearly. (Not a favorite just really clear example) Two very different families competing. You can see the difference in how they raise their kids and their morals stand out.

The Art of Manliness (fantastic website) says that a family culture is made up of three principles. Values, Traditions, and Norms. I will discuss each of them in individual posts but if you can’t wait you can check out what The Art of Manliness has to say HERE.

But first…

Why should I build one?

Excellent question!

For me I like the sense of identity that it will give my son. That is especially important as a single parent. Even more so as a single mom raising a boy. Men and boys need a tribe. It should be yours.

The other reason is that they say that a healthy family culture is more important than parenting styles. Which is awesome because I don’t even know what my parenting style is! That leads me to my next point…

(Family culture) goes beyond parenting styles “to tell the complex story of parents’ habits, dispositions, hopes, fears, assumptions and expectations for their children.

– U.Va. Study Identifies Four Family Cultures in America November 15, 2012 H. Brevy Cannon

The norms and values part of the equation will make it so you and everyone in your family have the same set of rules and standards. When your kid breaks a rule it always means the same thing…and everyone knows it.

Sounds complicated. How do I create a family culture?

Actually, it’s really not. It’s surprisingly fun!

One way to get started is to pretend your family is a secret club. Sit down as a family and create a set of “club” rules and bylaws or a family mission statement. Then the fun part!

You could come up with secret handshakes or a family cheer. Plan field trips. Have family movie nights. Game nights. Just pick a time and make it special. From now on every fourth Friday is Taco night. The first Monday of the month shall henceforth be called (drumroll please) Meatloaf Monday. Whatever you want. Just anything to make it special. Our family has a Saturday Family Breakfast.

You could get a container and put strips of paper with ideas in it. Everyone takes turn drawing one. Susie gets to pick what you will have for the main course, Tommy picks the dessert, Hubby picks the beverage etc. Give yourself time to plan ahead and shop.

Research your family heritage together. Discover your coat of arms or make up your own. Discover cultural food and traditions.

Another thing you can do that is really simple and fun is creating love rituals. (Read my post my post on that for more.)

Stay tuned for more on the subject soon.

So tell me about your families. What do you do that makes your family unique?

 

 

Mess or Masterpiece?

So I turned away for just a second…

That’s all it takes. He was using a pot of glue. The kind with a stick inside the lid you can spread it on whatever you are gluing. In his case he was gluing cut out paper shapes his grandma had given him in an envelope.

I turned around and saw….

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I took a deep breathe…and let it out. I shrugged to myself and handed him a BIG tub of glitter. He already made a mess. Why not have fun with it? I’ll have to clean it up either way.

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The final result?

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My Epiphany

I had another blog for less than a month. It just never really fit my vision. My posts were all over the map. Everything was sort of blurry. As I was trying to redo my blog I discovered something shocking and the name just popped into place. I immediately ran over to GoDaddy and bought the domain for The Delight Driven Life.

Why? It’s very nice but what does it mean?

I discovered I was actually an unschooler! “Delight driven” is another way to say “unschooling”. It exemplifies the concept perfectly and also my life. I strive for a stress-free, fun, flowing life.

I decided very early on to homeschool my son. Before he was a few months old. I had this picture in my head of how it was going to go. I thought it was just a natural extension of the way moms teach their babies. I planned a whole curriculum to start preschool. I bought thousands of art supplies and a few workbooks. I even bought a preschool microscope from Amazon. I put lots of other workbooks in my cart. I had a whole mind map filled with plans. Monday we would do reading, Tuesday we would do Math. Etc.

I have felt so guilty because we have only opened the workbook twice, and not once have we sat down and had a “class”.

Instead we have been outside playing in the yard, going for walks, playing with the dog, building with Legos and blocks, drawing, painting, gluing. We read books, sing songs. I even got him his own tablet. (Gasp.) We spend a lot of time running errands.

If he asks questions we talk about it. We sometimes Google images and watch YouTube videos of things he wants to know more about.

As it turns out, I am not lazy…ok, well maybe I am, but not when it comes to his education. It turns out I have been “unschooling” my son. (Read more about it HERE)

The amazing thing is that he is learning.

When you look at our days through the eyes of an unschooler you can see a difference. Take one activity from above; playing in the yard. He is learning about bugs and nature and life cycles by playing in the yard. Grass, plants, gardening, how everything is connected. He runs, tumbles, jumps and rolls down the hill getting physical education. He rides his bike building motor skills and confidence. I give him chalk, a play kitchen, and big box of mud to run his cars in.

He learns through play. I provide opportunities to learn and guide him. I ask questions and let him come up with the answers. Sometimes we look stuff up. I am always there for him when he wants to learn.

One day he told me, “Everything I need is in your brain.”

We are so much happier. No more pressure. No more feeling like a failure for not having a formal education.

We are “delight driven”.

Christmas Traditions for Your Kids

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I know, I know. Thanksgiving isn’t even over yet. If you are starting traditions you want to plan ahead right?

I love Christmas. I love everything about it. Especially now that I have a kid. I love making it magical. Starting traditions.

Here are some traditions you can start with your kids or even as a couple really. It doesn’t matter how old your kids are. Some of these you may have seen before but hopefully you find my spins on them unique

1. Christmas Movie Night

Okay, you have probably seen this one before. I like it a lot though. It is easy to tailor to the age of your kids. You can even do it as adults. You can do it any time and it requires hardly any money. You could do it for free really.

For a different spin on it you could combine it with other traditions like hot cocoa while you watch, or maybe popcorn. You could decorate Christmas cookies beforehand or make Chex mix and then sit down and eat it while watching movies.

2. Candy Cane Cocoa

As a kid we would pile the whole family into the car and drive around looking at Christmas lights and then come home to drink hot cocoa. It was too hot for us when were little so we would stir it with candy canes.

(Be careful because as they melt they turn into pointy shivs. LOL.)

Anyway, it would cool and taste like mint or whatever flavor you like.

3. Christmas Morning Breakfast

You could find a way to make Christmas morning special by making a fun breakfast every year. (I like my breakfasts. Have you seen my post on The Family Breakfast tradition?)

You could make a snowman pancake or reindeer or snowflakes. See how creative you can be. Use a frosting kit, a plastic bag with a tiny hole, or a squeeze bottle to make your shapes.

You could also use metal cookie cutters to make shapes.

My dad makes me Eggs Benedict every year for Christmas. (Even the year he had Cancer in his throat.)

4. Gingerbread Houses

I love making gingerbread houses. I use the kits though you can buy all premade and just get right to the decorating. For older kids/ bigger families maybe you could have a friendly competition. For little ones you can make them out of graham crackers.

5. Neighbor Gifts

I am planning on making cookies and/or putting together a box from the dollar store and putting by my neighbors’ doors when they aren’t home so they find them and have no idea who did it. I want my son to help and then we will hide and watch them find it and giggle etc.

I think it will teach him to give without expecting anything in return or getting “credit”. The true meaning of Christmas.

I’m curious about your traditions. What do you do in your family? Maybe you had some when you were a kid? Tell me in the comments.

ASL (American Sign Language) as a Second Language???

Why am I teaching my son a second language?

More and more colleges and universities are accepting ASL in fulfillment of foreign language requirements. The University of California system (all campuses) will soon accept ASL in fulfillment of foreign language entrance and graduation requirements. Harvard and Yale are among some of the schools which are investigating similar action. Recently, we have witnessed tremendous activity by state legislatures to support the teaching and acceptance of ASL as a foreign language. Many states now recognize ASL as a foreign language for the purpose of meeting high school graduation requirements.

From <http://www.unm.edu/~wilcox/UNM/facts.html>

Besides college, which is a long way off, there are a lot of benefits to learning a second language. Any language.

Bilingualism of any languages (whether signed or spoken) is a great booster for brains. It enriches and enhances your cognitive processes: higher abstract and creative thinking, better problem-solving, greater cognitive flexibility, better listening skills, greater academic achievement, and more! It also promotes cultural awareness, literacy, and other intellectual benefits.

Not just bilingualism, but also why not bimodalism too? Bimodal, that is using visual-spatial medium, expands your visual-perceptual skills: spatial awareness, mental rotation skill, visual sensitivity, and more!

From <http://www.handspeak.com/learn/index.php?id=11>

Is ASL even really a language?

Yes it is, actually.

“Because of its signed modality, people often assume that ASL is fundamentally different from spoken languages, or that it is merely a contrived representation of English. In reality, ASL is a fully developed, natural language. It is not a derivative of English; ASL contains structures and processes that English does not (Klima & Bellugi, 1979). ASL is a complete language with its own unique grammar (Fromkin, 1988). It is a true human language, with all the features of other human languages. An abstract concept can be expressed in ASL as easily as in English, Spanish, Navajo, or any other spoken language.”

From <http://www.ericdigests.org/1992-4/asl.htm>

It is important to realize that just like most other languages, when you translate the syntax is different. The order is different sometimes and you can speak faster because there are signs for concepts and phrases. It is interesting to note that there are even different “dialects” and “accents”.

When looking into sign language as a foreign language credit, it is important to know that there is a difference between learning signs in an English word order and learning American Sign Language.

American Sign Language, or ASL, is a unique language with its own set of grammatical rules. It is not universal, and it is very different from English and other international signed languages!

From <http://www.babies-and-sign-language.com/home-school-homeschooling.html>

Why did I pick ASL?

I learned some as a teen and really took a liking to it. I learned some Italian once and tried to teach myself French once upon a time. I can’t remember the French and a tiny amount of Italian. The signs I learned as a teen I can still remember.

Everyone kept telling me to teach him signs as a baby but he was such an early talker I didn’t bother with it. The more I see about it the more interested I am.

It can help teach your toddler to learn to read. Toddler sign language helps a child connect the word gestures with printed letters. Signs help preschool children increase their vocabulary. Because the word is spoken while signing, phonetic sounds are taught.

From <http://www.babies-and-sign-language.com/toddler-sign-language.html>

Early benefits to signing with a child include stimulation of speech and language development, as well as earlier communication and decreased behavioral problems.

From <http://www.babies-and-sign-language.com/home-school-homeschooling.html>

Sign language reinforces auditory skills by adding visual and kinesthetic input. Signing also stimulates connections in the brain and provides a secondary avenue for conceptual understanding to occur.

Sign language also improves spatial skills that are important for solid reasoning. There are so many cognitive benefits to learning sign language!

From <http://www.babies-and-sign-language.com/home-school-homeschooling.html>

Also I figured I’d have to learn with him. You know how people are always saying if a child is going to master a language they need to learn it as early as possible? Not a problem with sign language. I learned Away in a Manger this morning.

Okay, but your child is a hearing child…

Studies have shown that hearing children who are taught sign language as a part of their reading instruction score higher on standardized reading tests

From <http://www.signingtime.com/sign-language-for-kids/

It doesn’t matter if your child can hear or not. The career choices are nearly endless.

Respect for and understanding of Deaf culture should be cultivated in the classroom. Some of the Deaf cultural mores and behaviors that can be taught include introductions, leave-taking, conversational turn-taking, language code-switching, criteria for acceptance or non-acceptance in the culture, folklore, group norms, identity, and so forth.

From <http://www.ericdigests.org/1992-4/asl.htm>

How are we learning it?

We started watching “Signing Time” on Netflix. It’s amazing. I learned a lot from it even though it’s a kid show. They show you signs and then immediately put them into a song and conversation. Warning: The song will get stuck in your head. Guaranteed. LOL.

Lifeprint.com is very helpful.

I will post links as time goes on and when we learn Away in a Manger we will post video.

I’d love to hear from you. Are your kids bilingual?

The Family Breakfast

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Every Saturday my son and I try to have a family breakfast. He is still little and it’s just me and him but I try to make it special. I want it to become tradition as he grows.

We usually just do quick breakfasts on the other days but on Saturdays we make things that take longer to make and eat such as omelets or waffles. Sometimes I make Eggs Benedict. My favorite. We are making it this Saturday.

It is part of creating a family culture. (More on that soon.) I don’t use my cell during this special family time. He gets to help me create food too so it is truly special bonding time. We use fancy napkins sometimes too. Anything I can to make it special.

As he gets older we will keep doing this and it will be our time to connect and share about our lives. I sort of feel like it is a bank account and every time we have a family breakfast I am investing in the ones we will have when he’s older. I will use this time to teach him to cook too so maybe someday he will make me omelets.

Do you have any family traditions like this?