Saturday, May 30, 2015

~ To The Mom Who Thinks She Can't Homeschool ~

     This is a message to the mom who thinks she can't homeschool...

No, not the mom that has a negative opinion about homeschooling.  Maybe this opinion includes "lack of socialization" or "homeschooled kids are weird."  She is entitled to her opinion. ;)

No, not the mom who has specific circumstances in her life that prevents her from homeschooling, such as work, child custody issues, or medical problems.  She is doing the best she can in her current situation. XOXO

No, not the mom who prefers not to homeschool. She has looked at the options and made a decision for her children that she is confident about.  That is awesome and wonderful!

I'm talking to the mom who says things like, "I could never do that..."
     - I'm not patient enough.
     - I'm not educated enough.
     - I'm not creative enough.
In my experience, these are the things I hear the most!  I have met so many moms who say "I would love to homeschool BUT..." and then one of those three reasons related to inadequacy.  Rubbish.  This breaks my heart! Because guess what?...YOU ARE MORE THAN ENOUGH.

     Here are some important things those self-doubting moms should remember:

     1) Mothers are educators by nature.
Somewhere along the line, moms started becoming convinced they were not qualified to educate their own children.  How did this happen?  We are mothers.  Mothers are incredible women who suddenly have amazing abilities to protect and provide for their family.  A mother's purpose is to raise her children.  What does it mean to raise a child?---To educate.  Think about that.

     2) Moms are just as qualified, if not more qualified than the best teachers out there.  
The biggest thing parents look for in a good teacher is for the teacher to care about their students.  As the mom, you've got that covered. ;) You love your children more than anyone ever could.  You know them better than anyone.  And you want the best for them.  The rest is just finding educational resources, which is easy thanks to the internet.  Trust me, teachers get the same information that you have access to.

     3) If you are patient enough to be their mom, you are patient enough to be their teacher.  
For some reason, some moms think that sending the kids off to school is absolutely necessary to keep their sanity.  Myth busted!  Nowhere does it say that having the kids in school will solve your frustration problems.  It doesn't.  As human beings on this earth we all experience hard days and we often find ourselves on the brink of insanity.  Especially moms!  It's a tough job, but you can do it.  I have found that the hardest things in life are the most rewarding.

     4) Creativity is a muscle.  You can exercise it and become a creative rockstar.
I am proof that this is true.  Before I had kids, I had never thought of homeschooling.  And I never considered myself a creative person.  But once I started researching homeschool and the options (which are mind-blowing), I started thinking more and more "outside the box."  I saw ideas and methods that other moms have utilized and I started borrowing them.  I probably have yet to come up with an original idea, haha.  But sharing ideas and piecing together different types of curriculum has become much easier for me.  It's been a lot of work, but I love it now and my kids are having a blast with the ideas I find for us.

     5) You are enough! As a mother, God has blessed you with abilities beyond your understanding.  Trust your instincts and trust in Him.
I'm sure it isn't a coincidence that almost every homeschooling mom I've met has a strong faith in God.  On social media, one of the biggest responses I see to homeschool dilemmas is "Pray."  Those of us who choose to homeschool know that homeschooling is hard and that the best thing we can do is seek guidance from God.  It helps. I promise.  And I promise you are enough.  Don't let anyone (including yourself) convince you that you are not adequate as a mother.  You are.

    I don't think public school is a bad choice.  And I definitely don't think that homeschool is the universal answer.  I aim to empower and inspire the moms who want to homeschool, but think they can't.  If you are one of these moms, contact me! I want you to know you are not alone. I would be happy to give you advice on the subject and make you aware of your options.  God bless! xoxo  

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Stroller Etiquette (10 Tips for Operating a Stroller at Disneyland)

     I've said it time and time again... "People should be required to have a license to drive a stroller." ;)
     I am a Disneyland passholder, so I am often caught up in crowds of people with small children in strollers.  And I am one of those people.  I take all three of my kids (all under the age of 6) to Disneyland by myself.  I rock the double stroller and baby carrier.  I always get comments like, "Wow, you are brave!" and "All three by yourself?!"  Yup.  I love Disneyland and we have an amazing time together.  Even my husband can be spotted at Disneyland with all three of our kids.  Hahaha!
     And trust me, it is a lot better than having them cooped up in the house and letting them make a mess, where I need to constantly clean up after them.  Disneyland is a beautiful and fun place to let them run and play and get their energy out.  They sleep like angels at the end of the day too!
     HOWEVER, the stroller madness at Disneyland or any other crowded place can be frustrating.  I often see people that do not know how to properly drive a stroller and are unaware of stroller etiquette.  If everyone had an understanding of how to safely drive a stroller, we could prevent accidents, injuries, frustration, and unpleasant memories.  So I decided to go over the stroller basics as a friendly reminder to my fellow parents.  This is my logic: It is just like driving a car...

1) Do Not Fill Over Maximum Capacity
     California Vehicle Code 24002 states "It is unlawful to operate any vehicle or combination of vehicles which is in an unsafe condition, or which is not safely loaded, and which presents an immediate safety hazard."  Similarly, a stroller should only be packed to a safe capacity.  Some strollers I've observed have giant heavy bags attached to the handle bars which swing back and forth amongst the crowds.  I myself have been plowed down by some of those strollers and wonder, "What just happened? And why is my arm throbbing with immense pain?"  Eeek!  Please be aware that there will be people and children walking near your stroller.  Try not to pack it like the family mule. ;)

2) Stay To The Right
     Yes, just like while driving, stay to the right.  The opposite flow of traffic should be kept on your left side.  Whenever I see someone heading in the opposite direction coming toward me, I begin to veer my stroller to the right.  It is a natural reaction.  If they cut in front of me to pass on my right, I am thrown for a loop, literally.  This usually causes anxiety, accidents, and chaos.  There are times when I assume the person is from a country where they drive on the opposite side of the road.  That would explain it! Haha.
     Sometimes Disneyland Cast Members will be out directing traffic during a parade or some other attraction and they are almost always directing the crowds to stay to their right.  But honestly, we are intelligent capable adults that can always follow that logic without being micromanaged 100% of the time.  Right? :)

3) Stay A Safe Distance From The Person In Front Of You (Eyes On The Road)
     Anyone ever been rammed right in the heels or ankles with a stroller?  Yeah, me too.  It hurts! And it only took me getting hit once to make me realize I would never want to do that to someone else.  Don't get me wrong; I have done it, and I felt so bad.  It is an innocent accident; no one actually sets out to run over other people...I hope.  And it is so easy to get distracted, especially at Disneyland.  We are constantly looking around us.  But while driving a stroller, it is important to maintain eyesight on your path.  I do my best to remain a safe distance from anyone in front of me.  Just like a car, it is wise to remain another stroller length from the person in front of you.

4) Follow The Flow Of Traffic
     My husband is an offender of this one.  He likes to play Speed Racer and weave in and out of the crowds.  I have tried to remind him that it isn't a good idea and probably unsafe.  When he sees an empty road in front of him, he smiles and takes off with the kids in the stroller as fast as he can go.  The kids love it and I can't object since there is no one anywhere near us.  But when stuck in a crowd, it is courteous to follow the flow.  Assess the speed of the people and strollers around you and adjust to remain at an average and safe speed.  Not too fast and not too slow.

5) Pull Over For A Rest Stop
     This is my biggest pet peeve!  When I am happily moving along down a path in a crowd of people and all of the sudden, without any warning...the group in front of me comes to a STOP in their tracks! They just stand there: adjusting kids, looking at a map, making decisions about where to go or eat, etc etc.  I'm there thinking, "Um, hello?  I just skidded to a halt about an inch behind your ankles and now I'm trapped behind you until you decide to continue along your way."  All the while the rest of the crowds are walking past us.  This happens at least once every time I go to Disneyland.  Why?? It just doesn't make sense to me.  Crowded place, people constantly moving, and you just stop in the middle of the road?  Do people do that while driving? No, I don't think so.  Just pull over to the side.  Do your thing and then pull back out into the crowds when you are ready to proceed on your way.  It's easy, I promise.

6) Yield To Pedestrians
     Very rarely am I the "pedestrian" (or person without a stroller) at Disneyland, but I need to speak on their behalf.  People driving strollers may not want to admit this, but the "pedestrians" are far less cumbersome then strollers.  They are compact, faster, and more agile.  When I see a "pedestrian" trying to get around me, I slow down and let them go where they need to go.  They can get in places where I can't go and they will be out of my way quicker than a stroller.  I see no reason to be aggressive and try to keep my place in a crowd when I know that the "pedestrian" will be hundreds of feet in front of me in seconds.  Let them continue on their way and avoid confrontations.

7) Utilize Designated Parking Spaces
     I can't speak for other theme parks, but I know that Disneyland has designated stroller parking for almost all of their attractions.  When you are ready to park your stroller, take a quick look around or ask a Cast Member about stroller parking.  They do a great job of accommodating the thousands of strollers sitting around Disneyland, without being a nuisance to the crowds walking through the park. If you park your stroller in an area that is not designated for parking, you may find your stroller to be gone.  No no, not stolen! Cast Members are trained to move strollers to the designated parking areas in order to maintain flow of traffic and keep the strollers from being hazards.  So it is wise to park your stroller yourself where it is supposed to be.

8) Strollers Going Straight Have The Right of Way
     Helpful reminder for when you are about to collide with another stroller.  If you are making a lane change or a change in direction, look around and make sure the crossing is clear.  Strollers who are proceeding in a straight path should have the right of way.  I'm not insinuating that there could be a lawsuit if you don't yield (crazier things have happened I guess, haha)... it is just a nice way to maintain order and peace amongst the crowds.
     And in addition...don't play Chicken! When you are about to experience a head on collision with another stroller, don't be like my husband and assess the size and weight of your stroller and figure the single stroller will yield to the big bad double stroller (LOL)...don't say to your kids, "Hey, think we can take them?"...don't try to be the aggressor and test out who will swerve first.  Sounds like fun, but really...not a good idea. ;)  

9) Apologize When You Incur A Fender Bender
     Accidents happen.  They happen every day and all day at Disneyland.  But when they do, people are generally very nice when they are acknowledged and receive an apology.  An awkward situation or confrontation can easily be avoided/ diffused with a friendly smile and apology.  I have said "I'm sorry" so many times, even when I felt the situation was not my fault.  I don't consider myself to have a doormat personality, but basically I am apologizing for the circumstances or for the miscommunication.  It is much easier to go about your day when someone has apologized, even if it needs to be you.

10) In General, Be Aware And Considerate Of Others Around You
     I want to leave a few of my thoughts on respect, consideration, and empathy.  Disneyland is always pretty crowded and it is easy to step on each others toes there...figuratively and literally.  When you are out there in the world of heavy strollers and giant diaper bags and screaming kids and cranky parents, remember that we are all in this together.  We are all human beings.  We are all children of God and brothers and sisters on this Earth.  
We need to be mindful of others and their individual circumstances.
- That rude employee that gave you attitude may be going through a divorce and child custody issues.
- That disrespectful teenager that cursed in front of your children may have been abused as a child.
- That grumpy lady that yelled at you for bumping into her may have recently lost her sister to cancer.    
     Anger and judgement is not the way to go.  Take a deep breath and carry on.        
     Disneyland is the "Happiest Place On Earth," but each of us are responsible for maintaining the happiness there.  We need to embark on our family adventures with a positive attitude and with respect for our fellow human beings.  We need to keep in mind that we are all hoping to create enjoyable experiences and happy memories.  Let's do this together!  I know we can. :)

"We believed in our idea - a family park where parents and children could have fun- together." 

     - Walt Disney

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (Lesson Plan for the book and movie)

     No such thing as a bad day?  Doubtful.

     I guarantee you that everyone has been there.  We've all had bad days.  No, no.  Not just bad days.  Horrendous, awful, don't want to remember days.  The days where everything goes wrong.  I have them at least once month.  But once it's over, I look back and laugh at it.  And I definitely value my good days so much more.
     That is why one of my favorite movies is Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.

I seriously love this movie!  I loved the book as a child.  It is a classic and I highly recommend all children to read this one.
     I was so excited when I heard about the movie.  We bought it when it first came out and so far, my kids and I have watched it once a week.  It is hilarious!  I laugh out loud every time.
     Alexander is an 11 year old boy who has terrible days all the time, while the rest of his family has awesome days.  But Alexander gets fed up and wishes that for just one day, his family could understand what it's like to have a very bad day.  And as they say, be careful what you wish for. ;)

     The sweet message the movie delivers is that bad days are there for a reason.  They allow us to learn and progress.  Alexander learns that we have to have the bad days in order to appreciate the good ones.  And even when we do have bad days, they are so much easier to endure when we have a strong supportive and loving family by our side.  The movie is touching, memorable, and 100% right on.
     Since my kids enjoy both the book and the movie, I decided to do a lesson plan based on them.  The following resources are available and make up a fun week on the book and movie.

Picture Book

YouTube Video
- Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

The Movie

- Alexander Activity Pages
- Alexander Writing Project
- Alexander Events Sequencing Activity
- Alexander Cause & Effect Printable
Compare & Contrast Vend Diagram (We used this one to compare and contrast the book and the movie.)

     My kids really enjoyed this lesson plan.  My favorite part was that at the end of the week, Marley asked me, "Mommy, can we have a terrible, very bad day today?" Haha!
     I am grateful that even in the middle of a terrible day, I have fleeting seconds of happiness.  When I'm cleaning my toddler sitting in globs of yogurt, or when I'm wishing for a shower because I haven't had time to brush my hair and put on makeup, or when I'm changing a nasty blowout diaper... I look down at my babies or look up at my husband and catch them smiling at me with unconditional love.  I get a couple seconds of absolute bliss and remember that "even terrible days aren't so bad, when you're surrounded by the people you love."