Sunday, December 12, 2010

Forgot to share!

Last week, I think it was, we did a little science activity with hot water, cold water and food colouring to see how diffusion works. Very, very neat! I will hopefully be able to post some pictures soon!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Children need sleep

All right, EVERYBODY needs sleep, but children especially so.

My 3yo niece arrived this morning and she was not her usual self, even for the recent change in her reverting to more baby-like behaviours. Her mood was almost palpable, the expression on her face blank, yet somehow negative. In between her moments like that, she was fussing at her Dad's helping her get her boots off. She usually likes to do the rest by herself but she wasn't moving, so Dad asked her if she wanted help. She just stood there, dark circles under her eyes. He then said he had to go, at which point she started lightly hitting him, but not in her usual "I'm hitting you because I want to see your reaction", but because she was unhappy. He kept asking her questions, trying to have her verbalize what she wanted, to no avail. She ended up in a mini tantrum, jumping up and down, a kind of scream coming out of her mouth. She was not a happy kid.

Eventually, Dad just picked her up, hugged her, then I said, "Come with me," and she did. I took her coat off and while doing so, quietly and gently asked her if she wanted to sleep on me. She nodded her head. Downstairs we went to the computer where I got her to sleep while I did stuff. At one point, I put her in my bed. She slept about an hour in all, I think. Completely different child upon waking!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Keeping them working WORKS

Okay, I haven't solved the issue of keeping the older kids working, not as long as the 16yo is wanting the provincial high school diploma but really, really doesn't want to be doing these courses, but thinking about yesterday and some of the issues that have been developing with the 3yo, I thought about: What would Maria Montessori say to do? Get her working. Working stabilizes, normalizes, provides something other than one's perceptions or emotions to be the focus. And prevents boredom, which can so often lead to no good. ;)

With the little one not yet sufficiently trained with the stairs, I have to keep baby gates up, which means the 3yo can't freely go downstairs and get things from the shelves. So, I brought up a variety of things for her today and had her come to the kitchen table with all of us. She was the most focused of the bunch. lol. She had her work in front of her and went through every single one of them once. Then she was done. And she had a fabulous day. Oh, we had a little issue with her reverting back to not asking for something--just standing there and wanting you to do whatever it is she wants you to do--but it's getting so much better. I really ought to do some grace and courtesy lessons with her.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Feeling very unsympathetic today

I had a poor sleep last night, I admit it. This definitely affects my mood as much as a lack of sleep affects the kids'!

And let me tell you, there are some kids in my midst with a lack of sleep, too!!! lol

My 5yo niece is with us today because she was very tired this morning and not feeling great. Well, she's actually been fine--most of the day. We had an incident not long ago where she was playing dinosaurs with ds and her little sister--they were the dinosaurs and kind of attacking each other with pillows. Well, ds is 10 and a boy and niece is 5 and a girl and TIRED--ds hit too hard, she says she's not going to play anymore, so the 3yo says she's not playing anymore. He comes upstairs pouting (yes, he had a poor sleep, too), in light tears because his cousins won't play with him. (No, I had no sympathy for him. My mind went: Why is he crying over two little girls no longer playing with him after he's been playing with them for hours?) The 16yo is talking with the 5yo, trying to figure out a bit what happened. 5yo says at one point, "He hit me for fun." Meaning--he hit me because he thought it was fun. The 16yo said, "Well, you were having a dinosaur pillow fight. You're going to get hit." She tried to hide a smile at the dinosaur pillow fight comment, and I said something, can't remember what. She switched to tears in an instant, "But he hit me hard!" (This was about 5 minutes AFTER she had actually been hit, but immediately after me, the authority figure, takes notice.) I was not sympathetic, I admit it. I told her that she didn't cry when it happened, she could stop crying about it now (she has a habit of putting on tears to suit her purposes; I wouldn't say this to any child!) and go to bed like mom wanted her to. She stopped crying instantly and went to bed. For 2 minutes. lol. We have to go out soon, so I'm not going to force the nap issue.

Earlier, 13yo dd was in the kitchen with the 16yo, who had "stolen" a little microbe stuffed toy from her. He is 5'9", she is 4'8" (and finally growing! yes, she's below the 5th percentile for height!). He was holding it out of her reach, waving it around, and she was trying to get it back. It was all in play, nothing serious. But... In our small kitchen. Where there were dishes on the counter and things being cooked on the stove. Had I known, I would have asked them to think about a better place to play their game. All of a sudden I hear, "I'm sorry, are you okay?" Dd had tried really hard to get the toy, she jumped or something, he lost his balance, in her direction, and she fell against the dishes and counter, hitting her shoulder and twisting her arm. I had some sypmathy, but not much, I'm ashamed to say. It was all I could do to keep myself from saying, "What are you doing playing like that in the kitchen??" I hugged her, got her an ice pack, gave her a Motrin, stroked her head here and there.

My 3yo niece all of a sudden started crying very loudly a few minutes ago. Like she'd been pushed over or something physical. "What happened?" Both boys were down there and neither one knew. "What happened right before she started crying?" Ds said she had hit him and he told her no. She then started for the stairs with her huge crying and tears. Oh man. (No, no sympathy this time either. I think rightfully so. lol.)

My 5yo niece was writing on a chalkboard easel that was near a wall--she was on the wall side. Ds was goofing around with a blanket, it hit the chalkboard and it went in her direction minimally. A loud angry "Hey" and his name came out of her mouth. "What happened?" (This has been my phrase for today. *sigh*) Ds explained. A minute later, the 5yo decides to pipe in, with tears, how ds caused her finger to be pinched. I told her she could stop right away or go to bed, like before. She stopped. (Funny how easily controlled those tears are, eh? I tried in the past to just let her cry when she does these kinds of things, but all that ever succeeded in her doing was focusing on the issue more and more until she became thoroughly convinced of the injustice and was crying very loudly, even 10-15 minutes or more later, or had switched her mind to some other reason to cry. It wasn't helping. That's not to say I don't ever let her cry, I just know her well enough to know when the tears are authentic sadness over something or actual pain versus when they are sympathy seeking, especially to blame someone else/get the other in trouble. Or just the result of tiredness and fixating on a supposed injustice. ;) ) Nope, I had no sympathy about the pinched fingers. A 2-minute delay for the pain to cause tears just doesn't work for me. Especially when I'm tired.

Hoping for a really good sleep tonight, not just for me, but for everybody!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Must do something about the 3yo

Truly. Her behaviour is getting worse and worse.

This all started a little bit when her older sister, my 5yo niece, started going to school full-time. But it wasn't too bad. Things regressed more when her Dad went away on a business trip for 5 days. She stopped walking into the house in the morning--has been carried in almost every single day since. Other little things popped up around that time. Combined with her no longer having someone to direct her every move the way her sister does, things really started regressing--like not talking clearly or not talking at all, just little noises we're supposed to interpret.

Then the baby (well, he was 12 months) started. The 3yo is jealous. She is attention-seeking. She is sometimes just willful and angry for no apparent reason. Also blaming others for things they haven't even done, like her falling and missing the last two stairs to downstairs--because she was sort of hopping from one stair to another--then blaming my son for it, even though he wasn't even in arm's length of her. It's not pretty.

Today there was an event that really had it clicking that I must direct her more. Things started off okay--she fell asleep on me (yes, her lack of sleeping well at home has definitely contributed to the issues!) and then napped for about an hour in all (I transferred her to the sofa at one point), after that, she found the Swiffer Duster and dusted, played with the baby (okay, so he's now about 13.5 months) and everything seemed pretty good. But something happened at some point, I'm not sure what--maybe she hit the limit to her self-direction, maybe she was tired of not having my son play with her (he was engrossed in a dinosaur book all morning), I don't know what, but the 16yo saw her picking her nose, said, "Ew, gross!" and within the next minute, she walked over, wiped that finger on his bag, went back to the spot she had been, and put on a face that was a mix of smirking and being put out for being told "Ew."

Oh boy.

This from a child who turned 3 about 2.5 weeks ago. Mind you, she has a 10yo brother who definitely has his style of retaliative ways... ;0

I have no idea how Maria Montessori would have handled it. I was not impressed. Especially since she kept smirking after the 16yo told her to not do that and I can't remember what else. I guided her over to the sink, wet a new dishcloth for her, and yes, I admit it, annoyed and a bit angrily brought her to his bag and guided her hand to wipe off where she'd wiped her finger. She kept the smirk up until I got eye level with her and told her I can't even remember what. I then asked her to go sit down in the big chair by herself for a while (there were some books and toys there, so it wasn't as though it were some horrible isolation). She didn't go. (This has been another issue: outright defiance, dragging of the feet, etc.) I took her hand, brought her over to the chair, lifted her up and let her stay there a while.

I thought about how I'd handled it, but was quickly brought to the point of thinking: what is causing this behaviour? It's not like she's acting up mostly when the baby is getting attention. No. Even later in the afternoon, she found it unfair that my son was letting her older sister have some grapes, but not her (the 3yo). I asked him why she couldn't have any. I don't know what was behind it all, but he quickly said, "Okay, you can have some." Well, man oh man, she took her sweet time going down those stairs. Her sister took another grape from the very few that were left. I said to the 5yo to wait and let her sister get one before they were all gone, but the 3yo continued to do the very s-l-o-w movement down the stairs. I finally said, "Well, maybe your sister should get them all since you're not being very quick about getting to them." That got her moving. ;) But why drag her feet for something that she wanted?

Some good things from today: The 3yo did the dusting on her own, happily played with the baby for a while and did some puzzles next to me at the table. I helped her with a couple of them. Mostly I tried to just let her do them without me commenting much. Oh, she also wiped some windows. Need to keep her busy with practical stuff.

All of this means that what I've not been able to get myself to do in terms of providing her with consistent lessons and activities has turned into a crisis situation where I *need* to! An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. I must remember that.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Oh shucks, almost a week

And I was doing so well at blogging!

Since the last post, I've still been sick. I just can't shake this. My son has had symptoms even longer, so I guess that's just how it is.

School-wise, we're doing better. Most mornings--the ones I'm feeling well enough for--a minimum amount of work gets done and it's great. Dd has hit a point that she WANTS work now, it's part of her morning routine. (And she likes to boast how she doesn't like routines. ;) ) She finally finished the sheet on multiplying binomials and I've now introduced her to factoring trinomials. She was tired and fussy this morning (sounds funny to describe my 13yo that way), but gave it a shot anyhow.

I'm still having ds work on handwriting and math as his basic work in the morning. I do want to extend what they are working on, so I'll have to figure that out. To be honest, being sick, I'm so exhausted by the end of the day, I just can't even think.

Advent has started and I have not begun anything with them. Except the Advent calendar we have. It's like a mini wooden wardrobe, you open the doors and there are a bunch of drawers. You can mix them around to make the kids look for the number or just put them in order. I like to mix them. ;) Dd came rushing downstairs today--the first time I've seen her rush in the morning in AGES--eager to see what treat I had put in today's drawer. LOL. 13yo's still like their treats. ;)