Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Right Brain Syndrome

Do any of you still watch House? Well, we do.

The last episode we watched had a guy on there who had had brain separation surgery. They separated his brain hemispheres for some reason that I can't remember, but now he couldn't control the left side of his body. It acted independently and did all sorts of crazy things.

Dr. Wilson suggested he announce to his right brain what he was about to do. Because, whenever he got up to do something, his left brain knew why, but his right brain didn't. It thought he was acting for no apparent reason, and resisted.

Probably too long of an intro, but I was thinking about how kids are probably like a cute version of a separated right brain half.

They have no idea why we do what we do most of the time...and it's probably really frustrating.

When Sam was little, I used to tell her what was coming up next, or what to expect in the new social situation we were going to, etc. I found this eliminated a lot of tears and frustration, for both of us. I still do this with her, but I realize I haven't been doing this with Charly, and I should be.

I also tell her what kind of behavior I expect. I think this also makes her feel safe. Like she has the tools to handle what's coming next. She's not as scared. This will come in handy when school starts in the fall.


Charly likes to be held a lot, and is always asking me to do so. If I stand up and walk into the kitchen, she thinks I'm completely ignoring her. But what I'm really doing is putting away my dishes so I can hold her. How would she know that unless I tell her? So, while it's annoying to announce my every move, it can be helpful.

Just add it to "my list of things that come out of my mouth that make me look a little crazy to strangers in public."

Also on the list: singing Old McDonald in the middle of Wal-Mart. Who cares?

On Housework

Daryl Hoole suggests,

Some of us consider housework the enemy, convincing ourselves that we would be happier without it. If the truth were known, however, housework is our friend and the ideal "medicine" for much of what ails us.

There are comforts in cleaning. There are healing powers in housework. There is deep satisfaction in doing one's duty. Character is built through hard work. The Lord said to Adam, "Cursed shall be the ground for thy sake" (Moses 4:23).


[I]t is not the work that makes us tired, it is our negative feelings toward it such as irritation, resentment, anger, frustration, ingratitude and self-pity.
(Hoole, 132,134).

While my "testimony" of housework may not be this strong, I do like me a clean house. When I'm pregnant, I warn Jon that chores will not get done regularly for the next year or so. And we can just forget about dinner altogether.

But now that my human-ness is returning, I'm trying harder to keep it clean. I'm not one to keep to a schedule. In fact, I hate them. I usually try my hardest to sabotage them.

But in this case, I think I need a little bit of predictability. Now I have a specific chore for each day of the week, and then Saturday, I prepare the house for the Sabbath by doing a quick wipe down and spot check. I'm actually surprised at how little there is to do every day if I keep to this routine. Saturday then becomes virtually chore-free, more restful and a day to be together or do larger projects with Jonny home.

I basically just decided that I feel better about myself, my day, and my surroundings when I stop putting it off and just do it. Then I eliminate the inner struggle altogether. It's amazing how much a mental battle can take out of you.

I read Bill Cosby's book, Fatherhood last year. (A good, light read, by the way.) He said his son had a hard time keeping up with his school work. Nothing they did as parents could change his bad habits. He had a friend who was a pilot and Cosby asked him to talk to his son. The pilot related flying to homework (I think it applies to housework as well). He said, "It takes a lot more fuel to keep taking off and landing, then it does to just keep the jet in the air."


I liked this thought. A few Saturdays ago I asked Jon to help me clean the house really well so we could have a good starting point for my new chore schedule. I feel like ever since we moved into this house and had Felix, the entire house has never been all clean at once. I just felt like I couldn't get ahead. I was surprised how long it took us to clean the house in its entirety. Now that I'm doing a little every day, I am truly surprised at how much less effort it takes to keep it clean than to get it clean.

Once I figure out how to keep it clean myself, I'll start finding tasks for the girls to do. I'm trying to implement sustainable life-changes. Baby steps...

I hope I can keep this up!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Wrath of Natalie Fisher

A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stirreth up anger.
--Proverbs 15:1.

What exactly is wrath anyway?
Webster says it's "strong vengeful anger."

That makes sense.

Man, I was wrathful yesterday. I don't know what my problem was. Hormones? Still no excuse. There were couple of times I could tell Charly was staring at me trying to decide if I was friend or foe. It broke my heart.

Then I was thinking about the above scripture. I've always thought about it in the context of, if you use a soft answer, you will turn away another's anger. Aka, that of your children.

But then I realized, perhaps more significantly, a soft answer will turn away your own wrath. Soooo what I needed yesterday.

Anger begets anger, in others as well as yourself. I got a D- yesterday. Hopefully I'll do better today.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Oh. My.

I was thinking the other day how often I get mad at Charly and for what reasons. Now that we have her mess-making under control, I can rule that out. What else?

I realized that many of the times I get angry and frustrated, had more to do with her just wanting to be a goofball at inopportune times than actual naughtiness. When I change her diaper, of course she's going to want to play chase-the-nude-two-year-old. I'm going to try hard not to get mad at her when she's just being playful.

However, that was not the issue today. I made the mistake of taking a minor infraction and turning it into the Battle of Waterloo. I should have kept my big mouth shut. It wasn't that big of a deal, but for some reason I decided that Charly should apologize, more out of politeness than anything. An hour later, Charly was still sobbing for her Daddy and refusing to apologize. No amount of "If you don't apologize, then's..." could get her to change her mind. She had been to time out and been sent to her room, among other things. For some reason I forgot to pull out the cold shower threat...

I was mentally chiding myself for starting this mess, but didn't want her to just get away with it since I started it. I have met my match in the Battle of Wills. I have only ever been bested by Jonny...and now I've tied with Charly. Finally, I practically threw Charly on Sammy for an insincere hug and dropped the matter. Charly turned the hug into a chance to complain about Sammy squishing her. She didn't get much sympathy from me.

What a way to start a Monday. Head full of puddin'! Next time I'll just keep my big mouth shut.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mind Your Ps and Qs

If you don't want your kids to repeat it, then don't say it. If you want your kids to say it, repeat it.

I think most of us want our kids to say please and thank you, especially when they're with company and dealing with others. Are you polite to your children? What tone of voice do you use? Not only will your kids repeat your words, they'll also mimick your tone. I cringe when I hear Sam ordering Charly about just like a Mini Me in a less-than-flattering tone. Do I really sound like that? If you haven't had that moment as a parent...just wait. It's comin'.

I don't always say "please" to my children, and sometimes my tone could use a little tweak. But, I try really hard to ask my children polite questions, and I expect them in return. It can get pretty frustrating, but I hardly ever let my kids get away with asking for something without saying "please." If they omit it, I don't even have to prompt them, a simple eyebrow raise will suffice. And so the dance continues, all day everyday. I hope someday, someday this will be second nature for them and my eyebrows will get a rest.

As per a previous post, the words we decide to use is incredibly important for another reason. Our children assume we're always telling the truth. They don't understand irony or sarcasm.

If you tell them "You are____", they'll believe you. Make it good.

If you say, "If you do that, then you'll get [insert discipline here]." Then you better follow through or else they'll lose respect for you and not trust you.

Sometimes I'm flabbergasted at what comes out of my mouth.

If it's my night to tuck the girls in, I give them a hug and kiss before leaving the room. A lot of times, they ask for another one, and another, and another...

One night, I heard the words, "Okay, no more hugs." come out of my mouth. Now this is a fairly innocuous phrase, but I didn't like it just the same. Would they know I meant no more hugs just for tonight? Or would they think I meant no more hugs...EVER?

I decided saying "I have more hugs for you tomorrow." was a much more accurate portrayal of what I wanted to say. Framing our ideas in the positive is awkward at first, and not always possible, but I think it's worth the trouble.

If, as a parent, you find yourself saying "no" a lot, just flip the phrase.

"No hitting." becomes "Hands are not for hitting." etc.

I use, "That's a great idea for tomorrow." a lot. Most of the time, they'll forget their request, but sometimes they'll remind you in the morning.

This won't produce perpetually-positive children, but it makes me more positive, which in turn helps my kids. Plus, I eliminate some guilt by feeling like I'm not always rejecting my kids' ideas.

This doesn't mean you are soft on your kids. Discipline is still necessary. Strong tones and words are sometimes necessary. But when they're not, let's be a soft place for our children to fall so they keep coming back.

Thursday, May 7, 2009


Feelin' kinda bored today...

"...[A]n ordinary day can be a blessing..."

"'Normal day, let me see you for the treasure that you are.'

It is a gift to love life, to have a zest for living, to be enthusiastic, to be cheerful. Such a gift can be ours if we desire it. It is all a matter of attitude, not circumstance. The key is to realize that attitude begins with gratitude." (Hoole, 133).

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Wisdom of Harry Potter

Sometimes I read something and think, "Wow, that's really deep."

I've read all seven Harry Potter books. For those of you who haven't, consider this my spoiler alert to you.

Harry is a wizard destined for greatness. He is the one person in the entire universe who can defeat Voldemort. Somehow Voldemort taught himself how to be one of the best, and most evil, wizards in the world, second only to Dumbledore.

So, if Harry is supposed to face and defeat Voldemort in the end, how come he doesn't become just as great? I mean, isn't he 17 or 18 when he wins the final battle? He's not the cleverest or most talented wizard. He's not really the best-at-anything kind of wizard, except maybe his penchant for the Dark Arts. So, how does he defeat Voldemort? How does he survive seven years at Hogwarts with Voldy nipping at his heels the entire time?

Answer: He surrounds himself with people who are strong where he is weak. And those people are incredibly loyal.

There you have it. A deep and profound truth. Every time I go through a major change in my life: school, marriage, children, etc, it seems I'm *blessed* with the opportunity to reassess/rediscover/remake who I am. This can be discouraging when I'd rather be anyone but myself. I'd rather be like Sally who makes killer homemade bread, or Suzy with her perfectly quaffed hair.

In the middle of one of my past crises (I think it was post-Charly) I thought about this Harry Potter phenomenon and realized I didn't have to be good at everything. In fact, I wasn't supposed to be good at everything. Who has that kind of time? I venture to say also that it was never Heavenly Father's intention that we each be good at everything. That's why he gave us each other. That's why I've been blessed to live among so many talented people; to either learn from them, teach them, help them, or lean on them for help in return.

This concept has eliminated any (okay, most) guilt I feel when I take people up on their offers of help. Sometimes I need help, and a lot of it. When we moved here and I had Felix, I needed a LOT of help. And if you were one of those people who helped me, even as a complete stranger, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. In fact, I'm tearing up as I write this, I'm so grateful.

Let's let others help us. Let's be generous to those we normally wouldn't offer help to. Let's live how Heavenly Father intends us to live: happily, and together.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Rope's End

Just when I think I can't do anymore of this (or anything like unto it):

I get a little of this, to keep me going.