Book Review: The Mindful Child

February 17, 2012

The Mindful Child: How to Help Your Kid Manage Stress and  Become Happier, Kinder, and More Compassionate by Susan Kaiser Greenland

This book has changed so much for us. I think I recommend it to someone every week.

Many years ago, I saw a great therapist, who said, within three minutes of meeting me, “Wow, you’re really scattered. You should try meditating.” I tried meditating. And tried. And tried. I listened to guided meditation CDs. I meditated while nursing babies in the middle of the night. I think I was able to successfully meditate for 30 seconds.

The basic premise of The Mindful Child is to teach your child meditation through breath awareness, but the happy side-effect (for me) is that I finally feel like I’m successfully meditating. The exercises are so easy and simple (so easy and simple, a child could do them! har), that we’re all happily meditating most every morning.

I also pull it out if we’re having an afternoon where everyone is all screechy and hitty.

I pick a different exercise and guide us through it. The kids are surprisingly receptive. Zuzu and Ramona don’t do it, exactly, but they sit there quietly and watch. The exercises are things like rocking your stuffed animal to sleep by putting them on your belly (while you’re lying on your back) and breathing in and out. Or imagining that you have a protective bubble around you that can get huge if you’re alone in a meadow, or shrink around you if you’re in a crowded room — but it always protects you and no one can get into it without your permission. Or just sending friendly wishes, silently, to other people.

If you’re interested in starting a meditation practice with your kids, this is the book to get. It’s chock-full of information, and each exercise can take as little as 30 seconds, or much longer if you and your kids are up for it.

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CATEGORIES: homeschool

Random Product Endorsement: Miracle Skin Transformer

February 13, 2012

Ok, I realize it’s kind of random that I’m recommending makeup, but, you know, it wouldn’t be the first time. It’s just that: how often does something that claims to be a “miracle skin transformer” actual produce miraculous skin transformations? (Well, at least until you wash it off.)

I got some of this as a sample, obligingly smooshed it on, and then looked at myself in the mirror, shocked. When the hell did I start looking so good? I looked awesome! At which point I went and ordered up a full-size tube.

And now, whenever I’m going to be leaving the house and interacting with actual humans, I slap on some of this stuff, some Benefit Boi-ing under my obnoxiously dark under-eye circles, and I’m good to go. Every time I put on Miracle Skin Transformer, I pause for a moment when it’s on only half my face, and marvel at how the bare side looks like the face of a tired old haggard mom lady, and the miraculously transformed side looks like the face of a well-rested mom chick with excellently smooth and even skin.

It’s also some kind of primer, so your skin is all soft and luxurious.

I will say that I use the color “medium” in this. I am Mrs. Pasty Paleface, so I don’t know what kind of vampires are using the colors lighter than medium. I’ve never used anything approaching medium in anything else. I usually just grab whatever is called, like, “Glowing Aspirin Face” or “Snow-Covered Ground.”

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CATEGORIES: Julie

Clean Your Room!

February 10, 2012

Here’s a passive aggressive little comic that Henry dashed out one day. In the first panel, Henry and Eli are in their room (bunk beds on one side, Zuzu’s mattress-on-the-floor on the other), saying “See, it’s clean!”

Then my hand is reaching for the doorknob, saying, “Let me check” while a kid voice says, “No, don’t!”

And then apparently the room wasn’t actually clean (yes, boys, I do check the closets), because the third panel says, “Back to work…” with the sort of shattered-glass background to signify great pain and suffering.

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CATEGORIES: Henry
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How to Night Wean

February 6, 2012

Somehow, over the years, the question of how I’ve night weaned my kids has come up. Usually some extremely sleep-deprived mom says, “I think I need to night wean. How did you do it?” while sounding like she’s on the edge of tears.

So! Here is what I did for all four of my kids, and it worked every time. I’ve night weaned as late as 18 months (Henry) and as early as 11 months (Ramona).

Kids understand a lot, and they also think very visually (which is why you should be reading them lots of books). So I draw a picture. On one side is a picture of the baby sleeping, with a moon, and some words (for me, to remember to say out loud) about how we sleep at night, and we don’t nurse.

Then, next to that, is a picture of me nursing the baby, and a sun, and words to the effect of how it’s daytime, and HALLELUJAH, we can nurse now that the sun is up.

I hang it on the wall, and before bed we read it aloud and talk about it a bit. The first night will be rough. Be prepared. Your baby will be pissed. But be strong, because, magically, Night Two will be much, much better, and then (with all four of my kids at least) your baby will be sleeping through the night on Night Three.

I think one reason it works is that you’re blaming the sun. “Hey Baby, it’s not my fault. Blame Mr. Sun. I’d really love to nurse you, honestly I would, but the sun says no can do.”

You can see (maybe) that this particular drawing is a little smudged. That’s because Ramona would put her wet little finger to the picture every night, pointing out the key elements. She so totally understood it all.

This picture will also, forever, completely crack me up, because of this conversation that happened while I was drawing it:

Henry: What are you doing?
Julie: I’m drawing a picture to help night wean Ramona. [I explain concept of what I'm drawing] I’m having some trouble, though. It’s hard to draw a baby. It doesn’t look like Ramona sleeping. It looks like a 12-year-old boy.
[Henry starts laughing hysterically.]
Julie: What’s so funny?
Henry: I’m laughing because I’m imagining the next picture, where it will look like you’re nursing a 12-year-old boy.

Now: how to completely wean? I have no idea. I’ve always weaned because I’m pregnant, and there’s nothing left in there. And since that’s not going to happen this time (REALLY, I’M SURE), how do I wean her for good? Right now I’m down to twice a day only, but it might be nice to wear a dress again. I haven’t worn a dress since 2003 (because, you know, if I’m wearing a dress I have to pull it up almost over my head to nurse her).

Ramona is so sweet and lovely and adorable, but I’ve been nursing or pregnant for nine years now, and maybe it’s time to, I don’t know, get drunk on bourbon or something.

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CATEGORIES: Julie, Parenting, Ramona

War. Death. The Alps.

February 3, 2012

I’m really looking forward to seeing the story Henry’s thinking of that goes with these chapter titles.

CATEGORIES: Henry

New review: Tweak Tweak

February 1, 2012

Ok, yeah, I’ll admit it: I sort of thought Tweak Tweak was going to be treacly awfulness. An elephant baby tweaks her mom’s tail when she has a question. Yawn. But I was wrong! It’s cute, yes, but also silly and fun. And definitely something certain 3-year-olds I know wanted read aloud a thousand times.

Hear my review on the Brain Burps About Books podcast today, where Katie interviews the other faculty members of the Highlights workshop. You can see more about the podcast episode here, or click here to listen or download directly. Enjoy!

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