Goal Setting for Kids

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There is no great genius without a mixture of madness.-Aristotle

Last week we did our yearly Family Meeting in which we talk about Family and Personal goals. We talked about what goals are, how to set a specific goal and work towards it step by step, and what can help to be more successful like setting a specific time of the day and making the goal very specific. We discussed how goals should help us have good habits;  we consistently do good things until they become good habits. We also talked about how as disciples of Christ we constantly want to try to improve and each time we become better and more like Christ we have more help from Him to move forward and improve even more (Proverbs 4:18)

To make the process more visual and help the kids keep track of both their goals and progress we made up this GOAL SETTING WEEKLY STAIRS on which they could write their goals and each time they complete it for the day they move up a stair step. We had the kids choose a cartoon face of a child they thought looked like them from this Multicultural kids faces Clip-Art to use to “climb” the stairs. Elf chose one of the little Asian girls:)

 

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I’m Back!….What happened?

 

 

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Sometimes we get a little antsy waiting at the airport for Daddy…

 

Hey Everyone! You probably thought I got lost or something, haha! Not to worry, after a 7 month hiatus, I’m back!

So what happened? Mostly, life happened.

My computer finally gave up on me in May, after 7 years of faithful service. I decided to wait ‘til October, when we visited the U.S. to get a new one. (Anyone else have bad luck with electronics in Latin America?)

By then I was so out of the blogging habit that it’s taken be awhile to get the nerve to jump back into things. I thought I’d give you a quick update of what’s been going on for the last 7 months.

Right before my computer went kaput (is that actually a word?….yes, I’m the geek that has to look it up now….it is! Yay!) I had just started the Food Cleanse portion of my 2014 Life Cleanse. It went really well, I felt it was very effective, much more so then my last try, and I felt like it did restart my health and get me back on the right track to eating right for my body. The total cleanse lasted over a month with first taking out all processed foods, then going vegetarian, then vegan, then just fruits and veggies, then juice and then back again.

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Yep, that would be two lines alright!

I was just finishing up my Cleanse when I found out I was pregnant again! This was a bit of a surprise since I had just miscarried right before I started my Cleanse. I was so grateful I had, had the chance to clean out my body before starting to grow one inside of it;)

For the next couple months my main focus was keeping my cookies down and trying to find a rhythm of life I could realistically handle with a pregnancy.

Balance is always something I struggle with, especially when pregnant, but the last couple pregnancies have taught me that I cannot be Super Woman because my actions and health don’t just affect me. Thus, I’ve tried to be gentler with my body while pregnant and found that it helps in a multitude of ways which I’m sure I will detail in another post;)

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“She feels it’s important to be prepared….”

We were able to go on a much needed family trip to the beach in May, in which I was once again reminded of how traveling and morning sickness don’t mix well. Thankfully Marvel and the kids were just happy to be at the beach and didn’t complain that Mommy was laying around and not on top of meals nor anything else for that matter:/

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Happy with her castle cake!

We finished up our homeschool year in June and celebrated Elf’s 4th birthday! Man time flies! She is growing up so fast, maturing even faster…4 going on 40! She keeps us on our feet and laughing all the way!

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Wow! Ten years already!

In July we celebrated our 10th Wedding Anniversary with a dinner out all by ourselves! Gasp! We had entire conversations without interruption and got to talk about each other instead of family and business matters. It was wonderful to reminisce and remember why we fell in love in the first place. Marvel has helped me grow in so many ways and is so patient with me. I will be forever grateful for him in my life.cropped-fonsecas_018.jpg

What would I do without him?

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Too cool to smile I guess;)

We also got to celebrate Engineer’s 9th birthday in July! He is growing up WAY too fast and it’s amazing how much he has changed in the last year or so. He has reached a new stage in his life and it’s been interesting to watch and then adjust as all our girls are really still in the “little kid” phase. It’s been really interesting to partake of Engineer’s wisdom as he has become much more expressive about his thoughts. Loving it and at the same time a bit of the Momma in me doesn’t want my little boy to grow up!

August was my birthday and though Marvel was travelling like crazy he made sure to set aside time to surprise me with Japanese food (my craving of choice this pregnancy;) and the kids and he just about wet themselves from the excitement of trying to keep the secret from me. The girls also threw me a “tea party” in which we had imaginary strawberry soup with carrots, strawberry cake and strawberry tea.

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Oh yeah, Engineer “rescued” a homeless kitten….pets….my favorite:/

I also spent the months of July and August planning our next school year and finishing up our immigration processes to get us all our Mexican residency. Immigration is always a headache for me, honestly, but it’s so nice to get it done and know that with residency we won’t have to renew everything EVERY year anymore. I also finished up getting Button’s Mexican and U.S. passports because Marvel was a sweetheart and got us a surprise trip to the U.S. to see my family in October!

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Engineer participated in a folkdance performance for the Mexican Indepence Day

September was the start of a new school year. I decided to wait to pick up my curriculum in the U.S. when we would go to visit (AKA: saving a BUNDLE on shipping costs!!) we spent September with mostly review and setting up and getting used to some new additions (Piano, Portuguese, and Button being more involved as an almost 2 year old). It was a very useful month because I was able to better pin-point exactly where each kid was and adjust many teaching methods and scheduling before we even got our new curriculum.

Also in September I went to the OB/GYN for the first time! Yes, yes, I know, I know, believe me I’ve had the lecture about pre-natal care…let’s just suffice it to say that I’m not a big fan of doctors in general, haven’t ever really found one I’ve liked here, would prefer a midwife but after finding out about the minimal qualifications needed for them and doctors in Mexico decided not to risk it while we’re here, and in all humility I have done this pregnancy thing a few times now and basically know what is normal for me and what is not. So, all that said we were able to go to a basic check-up as a family and everyone got to see the baby on the sonogram, which is always fun. We also found out at this appointment that we are expecting another baby GIRL! January 19th is the due date…though at this point this Momma would go for earlier J

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Cousins! Actually only a few of them….

In October we continued our concentration on school and then the kids and I got to go visit my side of the family in Washington State! It had been 3 years since we’d visited and we’d only seen my parents in the meantime when they came for Button’s birth and another visit here.

It was WONDERFUL to see my brothers and sisters, many of whom had begun their families since we last saw them, and meet all the new additions to the family. It was so great to reconnect with Grandparents and Aunts and Uncles and even my close friends from my childhood.

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Birthday Girl!

Fiesta got to celebrate her 6th birthday while we were in Washington, which was a special treat and she was delighted with all of the attention! As usual, she was sure to tell us exactly how she wanted her cake, chocolate and vanilla with PINK frosting! As her nickname implies, if it had been up to her she would have invited every person she had met in Washington to her party, but we tried to keep it to close family;)

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Two Cakes???!!!!

It was really a wonderful visit and so fun for my kids to feel more connected to family that we talk about all the time. I was once again reminded of what an exceptionally loving and supportive family I have. They work so hard to stay connected and help whenever they can even with geography in the wayJ

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Can we forget Halloween?

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Why is she touching MY cake?

November we got back into the rhythm of school and also got to celebrate Button’s 2nd birthday! She was a little shy with the attention but made sure everyone understood that is was HER birthday and HER cake and HER presentsJ We had a smiley face theme because Button’s favorite song is “If you’re happy and you know it.” And she is truly one happy little girl!

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Guess we were too hungry to take the picture when the food was pretty!

We also celebrated Thanksgiving with our usual turkey dinner and this year the kids each picked a dessert that they wanted to make. We ended up having a leak come through our entry way, coming from the upstairs bathroom, a few days beforehand. So even though I wasn’t up to inviting some of our friends to share in the festivities as we usually do, we did have the plumber join us for our dinner;)

As soon as Thanksgiving was over we started on our Christmas preparations, more with our homemade gifts than anything. We knew Christmas was going to be a little different this year. Marvel had been hearing mixed reviews on his Mother’s health over the past few months and we all wanted him to go and see her himself to see what was going on. Though business wise travelling during December would be the best, he really didn’t want to leave in case the baby came early. He had decided to go in March.

Then he realized that his passport had run out of Visa pages. He travels a lot for business and Visas are often needed. Normally this isn’t a big deal but because his country has different regulations on passports the only way to get more pages was to return personally to his own country and get a whole new passport. So we felt that with that and his mother’s health deteriorating, it was best he leave before Christmas and be back by the end of December.

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Oh the ever frustrating star!

That meant we would postpone our own little family Christmas a few days. The kids were very understanding and everything was arranged. This also meant we had to adjust our Christmas preparations so that we wouldn’t just be sitting around waiting for Daddy to get home. So we moved everything over about a week and saved our Christmas baking for the real Christmas day so that we would be so busy making and delivering goodies we wouldn’t have time feel like we were missing out.

We’ll have a day of cleaning up for Daddy’s arrival and our Christmas celebration and a final day of cooking and baking and wrapping and preparing for our celebration of Jesus’ birth on Monday.

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Can you tell we like glitter?

We’ve simplified our schooling during the last part of this month and had many more activities and reading together than usual. We had a study of snow (which is interesting to do in a place where it never snowsJ We’ve made ornaments and gingerbread houses and the kids made all their gifts by hand this year. The kids also made their own Christmas stories, which was fun to see their creativity. Between that and being involved in Christmas get-togethers with friends and a Christmas program at church we’ve really had lots of fun memories made.

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Some candy even ended up on the houses!

So that about catches us up. In the next few weeks we’ll be having our Christmas with our family, celebrating the New Year, making our family and personal goals for the upcoming year, starting back to “normal” school, and finishing up our preparations for our new arrival next month!

Stay tuned!…

News!

Hey Everyone! 

Just to let you know that I (finally) updated my “About” page! It only took me a year to introduce the whole family 🙂 Check it out and get to know us a bit better. As I type there is a flurry of preparation to leave for the beach, a LONG awaited short vacation that we’re all looking forward to. When we get back look out for my upcoming posts on my 2014 LIFE CLEANSE, a self-improvement program that I made up for myself this year to revitalize and create change that is needed in my own life. We’ll talk soon!

What Do You Think of My New Makeover?

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We made our traditional Christmas cookies on Monday (we added mint flavoring this year though, YUM!)  We had the Christmas trees, stars, bells, hearts, my son decided to make a nativity, a neighbor boy made a sign of “I love you” for his Mom…it was so fun and cute and the kids loved it.

I was really touched though when my oldest daughter (5 yrs old) brought me this little creation….”Mom!” she said beaming, ” It’s you! I made it for you!” It was so darling, and I loved how she tried to match my hair and eyes, it was one of those “Melt” moments that just sends a burst of joy through you.

It wasn’t until today that I was looking at it and the thought came to me, “Is this just a 5 year old creation or does she really think I look like an 80’s country singer?”….Well, I guess it doesn’t matter, it said “I love you, Mom”,  no matter what.

Fill ‘Er Up!

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So I promised in my last post that I would explain the crazy card-stock people standing on my kitchen counter….well, would you believe that they are part of our discipline training?

I’ve used various methods for teaching discipline training but it usually turned out that when it all came out in the wash I was using a punishment/reward program that was only an extrinsic motivation. I didn’t and don’t want that. I want my kids to WANT to OBEY, to WANT to be GOOD. Not because they want something in return or are trying to avoid a bad consequence. I want them to do good for the sake of BEING good. To FEEL what is the right thing to do. Does that make sense? Yes, its ideological and asking a lot of small children but I’m also all about reaching for the moon and at least catching some stars along the way.

One night as I was washing the dishes ( when I do my pondering 🙂 The thought came to me (yep, can’t take credit for it:) of revamping an idea that my husband had used for his team-training modules at work. For his example, he had used buckets and each team member was to fill it will nice things they noticed about others (there was more to it than that but you get the jist). Anyway, I thought that if I could help my kids visualize what their behaviors caused (or contributed to) in themselves and others than maybe it would help them want to make better choices.

So over the course of several Family Counsels this is what we did. Note: when referring to “good” and “bad”, it was based on our family rules and religious beliefs.

FC 1: Had a discussion/devotional on covenants or promises that we make to our Heavenly Father. When we are Christian people what do we commit to do and be?

FC 2: Go rock hunting!

FC 3: Make our own “mini-me”. Using manila folders the kids (and I) drew and cut out a picture that we made of ourselves and taped it to an glass jar full of rocks/beans (we couldn’t find enough rocks)

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FC 4: Discuss how our spirit can FEEL good choices and bad choices. Also, when we make good choices we can have the Holy Spirit to guide us and we have more happiness as a result of both.

FC 5: Discuss that our jar is like our spirit, when we do good things it fills up, bad things take away. Explained our goals of trying to keep our own and others jars filled up during the next week. If someone makes a bad decision then they must take rocks out of their own jar and anyone else that was involved in the decision (sometimes the whole family!). Then they need to think of a way they can fill those jars back up (“I’m sorry” is a start but more action is required). Also, if someone is “caught” doing good things without being “motivated” then they get to add to their jar and anyone else involved in their making a good decision (usually Mom is happier!)

Of course, this isn’t a perfect model of life. Also, the first day was a bit of a hassle trying to manage all the jar nonsense. I really thought about giving up in the first couple hours but even though it was involved and seemingly fluffy…. For us, I think it fulfilled it’s purpose.

By the third day, I could see my kids realizing how their behaviors affected not only them, but others. This time they could SEE a model of what happened to their spirit. For the first couple of days we really focused on how someone FELT when they made a good or bad decision so they could recognize that they could be guided, if they chose to be. I was especially impressed with how much understanding my 3 year old gained in this process- it seemed that  a light bulb went off for her when she saw that SHE could choose how her day would go.

We still have such a long way to go and this is only the beginning of what we’ve been doing as we concentrate on discipline (stay tuned for more posts on our triumphs and failures!), but it was a step or two in the direction we want to be going and that is always so encouraging!

So, what types of activities have helped your family understand or become more disciplined?

Laws of Parenthood

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Don’t get me wrong. I love being a mom. It has always been my career of choice since childhood. Every once in a while though I think, “Can I really handle this?” It was just such a day that I started laughing at myself, reminded myself that I’m not in charge, and wrote this post.

The Laws of Parenthood

Children will only try your patience when you have none left.

Friends and associates won’t stop by the day AFTER cleaning day. No, they stop by the day BEFORE.

Your “quiet” child will only yell in the middle of church.

If you have more than one child you will have a least two that have opposite personalities.

Children have a certain quota of “why” questions they must ask each day, with most kids it comes to about 15,435,986 questions per day.

Your child will not do it; if they think they can get YOU to do it for them.

Children will always try their new tricks out when you have company or are trying to leave the house.

Your child will not sit down or take a nap when they become overly tired, they will become running, yelling, disobedient little trolls.

When your baby starts to sleep better your toddler will start waking up more.

Your children will decide to only make a fuss about food when you’ve spent at least an hour preparing it.

Your children will remind you of things you’ve forgotten when it’s too late to do anything about it.

If you have children you will always have a built in honest appraisal system, they’ll usually try to be tactful, “Mom, your butt is kind of big!”

If you have more than one child it is an irrevocable law of the universe that you cannot have ALL of them OR ALL of your home clean simultaneously.

If you have at least three children and a spouse, odds are that EVERY meal, SOMEONE will not like it.

Children will push all of your buttons only when you’re tired, hungry, and have to go to the bathroom.

You will have uninvited dinner guests on the day you decide to make bread and the kids decide to make mud-pies…..yes, in the house.

Though you may have times when you cannot get your child’s attention, DON’T WORRY! Your children will ALWAYS find a way to get YOUR attention.

And last but certainly not least:

When you first hold your own little baby in your arms you begin to understand the love that God must have for you.

Nailpolish, Puddles, and Sprinkle Tea

ImageDo you know how hard it was to take this? Haha, three little wiggley girls and newly painted toes!

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I was so busy having fun playing in the rain that I forgot to take pictures! But you can see that there was enough rain to have some good wet, muddy fun!

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Rose hip tea with star sprinkles! Warm and ready for bed after puddle-jumping!

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I always drink my tea and play in the dirty laundry, don’t you?

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My daugher is a better photographer than me!

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Even the baby loves this book!

Today was a good day as long as I think of it in terms of priorities. If I think of my long list of “to-dos” then I start to feel discouraged. This summer break I was determined to be more involved in my children’s adventures rather than just organizing and monitoring them. It doesn’t come easy for me. I’m a list-maker, task-oriented, work-aholic type. So I started by making a list of fun things I knew we could all do together, trying to focus on easy, economical activities. Then I started a mantra to myself, “What am I missing out on?” The truth is my kids will not be little forever. There are even fewer years that they will find such joy in little things and WANT to be hangout with me! So today I once again started on my list of to-dos but I kept my mantra in my head. Maybe I didn’t get the floor mopped and the rest of that shelf organized but I did some “to-dos” that were much more important and much more fun.

Instead of insisting that my 3 yr. old go back to bed when she woke me up this morning (before 4am) I went to her bed and let her fall asleep on my chest like she used too when she was a baby

We went to the park and everyone took turns getting dizzy on the merry-go-round

We had a pedicure party and painted all the girls toenails (mine too)!

I stopped what I was doing so I could read to my oldest daughter from the Wizard of Oz for the 40th time(O.K, O.K….so maybe only the 10th)

We went swimming in the freezing (well, cold to me anyway) pool and my daughter and I sang the Wiggles World theme song while she showed me her dance moves

We played in the rain, complete with puddle jumping and floating boats

I stopped what I was doing to let me son tell me his latest jokes (which I think are funny just because of the way he laughs at them)!

We all jumped on Daddy when he got home and gave him a proper welcome

We stayed up a bit later to read the next chapter in our read-aloud book just cause we love it so much

So, when I think of it that way…memories were made and bonds were strengthened…maybe we did get a lot done today.