Explore More! on Pinterest

23 May

Special preview of newest recycling paper art technique: Rolled Paper.

I still haven’t seen too many people doing what I’m doing with rolled paper illustrations and ornaments so take a peek on my Pinterest page and get in on something truly new and innovative.

Explore More! is a counting book for children to be released this summer that uses photographs of these unique creations to illustrate the concepts of letters, numbers, animals and directions that young kids are just beginning to explore.

http://pinterest.com/zanyzenist/rolled-paper-art-ornaments/

Explore More! Preview

Explore More! Preview

 

My 20 Favorite Facebook Quotes from 2012

13 Dec

My favorites are not Facebook’s favorites.

Facebook gathers information about all of us as we use it. What we like, comment on and share is all collected in a database and analyzed by advertisers. BOOK Cover Facebook Logo

As this year comes to a close, the collections are being shared. Facebook will share some of what they gathered about you and what their formula has concluded to be your “20 Biggest Moments”. Go to your Facebook home page and check it out. Do you agree with what they came up with?

Yesterday, I watched as Katie Couric hosted an episode of Katie where these “biggest” stories were discussed. The stories that had the most shares, likes and which were mentioned the most. Then today, on Facebook, I read a quote from claypotideas that let me see all this information with a new perspective;

“What people think about you is none of your business.”

So much of our time is wasted worrying about what others think about us. Facebook’s “20 Biggest Moments” feature is reinforcing this destructive behavior by selecting out only the stuff that your friends have liked, shared and commented on.

Define Yourself

Young children, on the other hand, like, share and comment on everything that is emotionally important to them. Kids feel everything and will most likely tell you all about it. “My neck is itchy”, “I have to go pee”, “I have balls in this box” etc. The examples go on and on. In my book Heart of a Toddler: The Zen in Them this is :

Lesson 25: If you see value in it, share it.

The key word above is “you“. If you see value in it. So, I test out this theory of the importance of personal value.

I ask my preschooler, “If you think back about this entire year, what do you remember the most?”

“You!” He says quickly, pointing at me with his entire arm.

I know that’s not an answer that would score high up on the Facebook charts, but it’s one that scores high up on mine. For while it will calm our hearts to free ourselves from what others think, it can also empower and inspire us. Even negative comments have something to teach us, as long as we can manage not to let them hurt us or be roadblocks to our growth. It’s all about our perspective and how we choose to take it.

My Top 20 Favorite Facebook Quotes for 2012

I’ve gained a lot of insight and inspiration from quotes that have come to me through Facebook and which I have shared there. Facebook didn’t however and most aren’t accessible from there anymore.  I see defining value in them however, so I have dug through some of my favorite pages and here I am sharing these quotes with you. Enjoy.

1. “The mind is everything. What you think, you become.” -Life Tastes Well

2. “Don’t explain your philosophy, embody it.” -Epicurious reposted by PositiveAtmosphere.com

3.”If you cannot make a change, change the way you have been thinking. You might find a new solution. Never whine. Whining lets a brute know that a victim is in the neighborhood.” -Maya Angelou

4. “People are just as happy as they make up their minds to be.” -Abraham Lincoln

5. “An anthropologist proposed a game to children of an African tribe. He put a basket of fruit near a tree and told the children the first one to reach the fruit would win them all. When he told them to run, they all took each others hands and ran together, then sat together enjoying the fruits. When asked why they ran like that, as one could’ve taken all the fruit for oneself, they said, “Ubuntu, how can one of us be happy if all the others are sad?” ‘UBUNTU’ is a philosophy of African tribes that can be summed up as “I am because we are.” -The Great Spirit

6. “What screws us up in life is the picture in our head of how it’s supposed to be.” -posted by Zen Parening Radio

7.”Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.” ~Eckhart Tolle

8. “I Love You. I am your PARENT, you are my CHILD. I am your QUIET PLACE, you are my WILD. I am your CALM FACE, you are my GIGGLE. I am your WAIT, you are my WIGGLE. I am your DINNER, you are my CHOCOLATE CAKE. I am your BEDTIME, you are my WIDE AWAKE. I am your LULLABYE, you are my PEEKABOO. I am your GOOD NIGHT KISS, you are my I LOVE YOU.” – Joy of Mom

9. ‎”It is not what you do for your children but what you have taught them to do for themselves, that will make them successful human beings.”
~Ann Landers reposted by I Love Being a Mom

10.”The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice.” ~Peggy O’Mara reposted by I Love Being a Mom

11. “When nothing goes right, go left.” -Daily Dose

12. “Do not educate your child to be rich, educate them to be happy, so when he grows up he’ll know the value of things, not the price.” -Page101

13. “People were created to be loved. Things were created to be used. The reason the world is in chaos is because things are being loved and people are being used.” -Open Mind

14. “Character is how you treat those who can do nothing for you.” -Zen Parenting Radio

15. “Read this slowly: LIFEISNOWHERE. What did you read? “life is no where” or “life is now here”? My friends, life is all about how we look at it! -Daily Gratitude Challenge

16. “It doesn’t matter how old or gangster you are- if a toddler hands you a phone, you answer that shit!” -George Takei

17. “Birthdays are good for you. Statistics show that people who have the most live the longest.”

18. “Food reform begins in your kitchen, not in Washington.”

19. “Metal bits in your cereal. Yummy!”

and last but certainly not least….

20. “Super-risk-it”: when something is good, super good, super, super, super good, as in terrific. -Adam Potter, 2012

DSC00740

Advent, Anticipation & Presents

1 Dec My preschooler wanted to play Santa right away with the advent presents.

Christmas is ComingThe countdown to Christmas is on. The decorations are up. It is a season of waiting and preparation, but as the anticipation builds is the present moment getting lost?

With advent, as with so many things, there is a fine balance to keep in play. There is so much focus on “the big day” that the days leading up to it can easily fall victim to merely planning for the future. A dangerous practice, as anticipating the future tends us to swing too much energy toward an unknown that is over as soon as it has begun.

Once the future has begun, it is no longer the future, but the present, and without practice we might not even recognize it until it is over and then find ourselves looking forward to the next thing: be it New Years, Birthdays, or simply going back to work.

How many times has a relaxing Sunday been marred by the anticipation that the next day is Monday and that will mean going back to work? Don’t deprive yourself of the present in anticipation of the future.

How? Enjoy the Present with Presents! Of course.

 

A present for each and everyday.

A present for each and everyday.

A tradition that I’ve enjoyed since I was a kid is that of advent calendars. Each day, starting today December 1st, is acknowledged with a small surprise or gift of some kind. Sometimes it is a lovely wintertime picture, a sweet candy treat or a small toy.

The practice of advent calendars teaches small children their numbers and helps them to visualize how many days there are left until Christmas. In addition, advent calendars give parents an easy answer to the often asked question: “Is it Christmas now?”

Some good ideas for making your own advent calendars can be found here. This year we are doing the 24 origami boxes made to look like little presents. Last year I took all of my preschoolers random mismatched socks and made them into stockings. What advent calendar ideas have you enjoyed doing?

Breaking it Down Even More

As I’m writing this, I’m reminded by an hour by hour we remain present during this season of anticipation. We have a wintertime clock (that we received as a present a couple years ago) that plays a different Christmas carol each hour, on the hour.

There are candy canes and other sweet treats stashed in plain view all around the house this month, as well.

While my preschooler, like many children, spends lots of time longingly examining the tree and wondering what joys this magical season will bring, with advent, we are reminded that it is each day and every moment that holds the real gift of the present.

My preschooler wanted to play Santa right away with the advent presents.

My preschooler wanted to play Santa right away with the advent presents.

 

 

Instant Karma in “I am….”

5 Nov

Notice how roadsigns never say, “Don’t run over pedestrians?”

Say What You WANT to Happen

Maybe it’s because they are so pure and so close to being just born from the source, but it seems like kids have instant karma.

Tell a kid “no” when they are in the middle of something and if they know they are wrong, they will likely sabotage themselves so that they stop doing it.

Scream, “Don’t run in the house” and sure enough, they will soon trip and fall down. Would they have fallen if you hadn’t said anything?

A lot of times we tell our kids what we are afraid will happen and just by speaking it, we make it happen.  I became aware of this several years ago and since then, I make it a practice not to vocalize my fears if I can help it.

I try to avoid statements like: “Don’t run, you’re going to fall”, “Don’t put your drink down there, it’s going to spill” and “Don’t play with fire, you’re going to get burned”.

Something about the kids and the universe, the “don’t” doesn’t get heard and instead the kids just hear, “you’re going to fall”, “you’re going to spill” and “you’re going to get burned”; and then they do.

The more I pay attention, the more I realize how important it is that we choose our words with care. We are anointed with the responsibility to develop our spirit along with developing the spirit of our children.

The clearest way to do that is to change the “I am…” If you say to your child, “You are clumsy,” their self-speak will play in their brain, “I am clumsy” and then they will be clumsy and have lots of accidents. And you can see it almost instantly play out with kids and their behavior.

Instead, let positivity be paramount in your own self-speak and in the words that you choose to use with your child.

So switch around those words to focus on what you WANT to happen: “Walk so you’ll stay safe”, “Be careful and focus so that your drink stays in its cup”, “Always use caution around fire and you won’t get burned.”

Call into your life and speak the name of what you want to happen. Model for your children this positive self-speak: “I am safe, I am prosperous, I am free.” Fill in the blank with a positive and positivity will take the place of negativity instantly.

Tornado in a Jar

5 Oct

I discovered a few free, easy wrinkle smoothers and stress relievers this week. And it was right when I needed them.

“Time-In” instead of “Time Outs”

I worked it out and I spend 98 hours a week, every week with my son. Sometimes I long for an 80 hour work week instead. Sick days off? Nope. The best cure for baby fever is an actual fever. You totally don’t feel like taking care of others when all you want is someone to take care of you when you are sick, and we’re just getting over being sick.

For those of you going off to work and then coming home to parent, yes, you work just the same amount. What was getting to me this week was the jealousy of those people. Simply because they get to split their time between two jobs and mine is spent all at the same one. The thought that was on repeat in my head: 98 hours a week at the SAME JOB! Unfair! Unfair! 

So anyway, these thoughts about my hours was stressing me out and making me feel overburdened. My son was reflecting this when I was least equipped to handle it, so of course it escalated the negativity. He did this in the form of hitting.

Hitting me exclusively it seems. Me and the dogs that is. I’ve never seen him hit other kids, but he comes at his mother and our pets with frustration, exasperation and all sorts of other big emotions.

After years of pleading with him to “Use his words” instead, I still feel assaulted physically and emotionally by his flinging arms and sharp kicks. “That is it!” I give into my anger and put him in time out. (This is for me more than for him, I know.)

Then I found this wonderful post about using Time-IN to connect instead of Time-Outs for hitting. I’ve been trying it and I think it’s working.

Cracking the Kid Code

Another thing I did this week that has been helping with the hitting, is to give my 3-year-old MORE words to use for his big emotions. We had focused on the simple words before: happy, sad, mad etc. If I listed them, there would probably be 20 different words at the most.

But this week I read Cracking the Kid Code by Shelly Phillips. She has a list in the book of approximately 180 feelings words! I printed it out and use it as a reference and reminder of all those other words that describe feelings. This week my son learned and used the word “irritated” for example.

Facial Massage

All this stress I was putting on myself was amplified on my face. My forehead was tight and my jaw clenched. And we all know what that means: WRINKLES. Then I found this beautiful, free, natural wrinkle and stress reliever. Facial massage as described in the Visual Encyclopedia of Natural Healing. It may feel a little strange at first to massage your own face, but just after a few days, my skin is smoother and more vibrant without the worry or cost of strange creams, abrasive cleansers or peels.

Tornado in a Jar Craft

Finally, I found this great, super quick craft project that goes super well with the big emotions of this week. A tornado in a jar is essentially soap and water shaken up.

We were fascinated by the simplicity of this project. The simplest things can have the hugest impact in life, just like with our emotions.

It is a quick thing to get ourselves all shook up, but spinning our wheels is as destructive as a tornado. I screwed on the lid to that tornado this week by shifting my perspective on hitting and punishment, awaking to using more feeling words, self-soothing with facial massage and sprinkling a little fun on the problem. A phoenix from the ashes: triumph!

 

Crayon Curls “C” Craft

21 Sep Letter C Craft

Crafts that keep a boys attention need to be a special mix of activity, magic and a little bit of daring thrown in.

This week we are working on the letter “C”. Far from his first introduction to the letters, we are reinforcing the lessons from last year in our home lessons this year.

Day 1: First I told my 3-year old that we’d be working on the letter “C” and then simply started talking with him about words that start with the letter “C”. We went to the store and for a walk and I had him point out and trace with his fingers all the “C’s” that he could find on the signage along the way.

There are 2 letter “C’s” in this sign.

He saw the pride and enthusiasm in the eyes and voices of not only me, but the others we met along the way and shared how we were discussing the letter “C” today. He was able to get a treat from the store, but it had to start with the letter “C”, he choose a cookie.

Incorporating letter learning in everyday activities like this help him to recognize that there are letters and words all around him in the world and that spoken words are made up of these letters.

Day 2: First I asked my preschooler if he remember what letter we were working on this week. He did! We choose from games to play by listing the ones that start with the letter “C” such as Cootie, Cars, or Cards.

We did some Cutting crafts and then went down to the beach. We played separately in the sand and when he inevitably came over to see what I was doing, he could see that I was drawing “C’s” in the sand. He mimicked me and drew a set of his own “C’s” as well. Castles are a great “C” thing to build in the sand also, although I built a sand Cat for him to stomp in.

Day 3: Too tired for traditional coloring and crafts by the end of a busy day, my child adamantly refused to do anything and threw his craft supplies down on the floor in frustration when I proposed doing one.

Undeterred, I mentioned that we’d be cutting, grating and using a knife and an iron, and his mood flipped a 360 and he was all in.  So I’m calling this craft the craft to do when the kiddos don’t really feel like doing any crafts.

Crayon Curls “C” Craft

Supplies:

broken crayon pieces

plastic bag (white or clear without too much printed writing)

wax paper

iron

marker

scissors

knife, grater, pencil sharpener etc.

Directions:

Success Hint: Take it easy on the obvious teaching techniques when the kiddos are tired. It wears them out and makes them shut down and shut out learning. Get into the fun stuff and only loosely mention the lesson you are trying to get across.

Step 1: Preparation: Peel all the paper from the crayon pieces. This is a great project for all those random pieces that get broken. Lay down a piece of wax paper bigger then the letter “C” you want to make on a surface that can be ironed on.

Step 2: Cut open the plastic bag so it lays flat and lay half down onto the wax paper. (Plastic can be tricky to cut, so parents, you’ll probably have to do this part.)

Step3: Have your child write the letter “C” on the plastic bag with the marker. Parents may have to hold the bag tight so the kids have a flat surface to write on.

Step 4: Get the kids busy grating and cutting the crayons to make curls and crumbs. Make sure all the pieces fall down onto the plastic “C” you just made. Close supervision is necessary for the littlest kids or if they haven’t had a lot of practice with sharp items.

Step 5: Fold over the top half of the plastic, trapping the crayon crumbs inside. Cover with another piece of wax paper.

Step 6: With the iron on medium-high heat, place the iron on top of the wax paper sandwich, watching for wrinkles below. These wrinkles indicate that the plastic is melting together below. CAUTION: If the iron is too hot, it will melt the plastic onto the wax paper, if the iron is too cold, the plastic halves won’t melt together at all. If you’re not sure about the temperature, start out low and check under the wax paper to see if the plastic is sticking together, turning the temperature up slowly if necessary.

Step 7: Cut out the letter “C” shape. Done!

Have your child get small crayon crumbs from a variety of different techiques: putting the crayons in a pencil sharpener, skimming them with a butter knife, grating with a cheese grater, cutting with scissors.

 

How to Answer the Tough Questions

14 Sep

“Where do babies come from?”

A big question for a little guy. How have you answered this one? What about all the others that are just as tough? Did you panic? Laugh it off? Did it get all deep and philosophical?

Before we can answer our little ones questions, we have to have our own answers to those questions. What is your answer? What about the other people  they are around? How do they answer these questions?

Kids are never to young to start wondering about questions that some of us spend our lifetimes asking ourselves.

There’s no cheat sheet when it comes to answering these tough questions. Here’s a list of some of the tough questions my preschooler has asked me and some of the answers that I came up with. Use it for inspiration, irritation or just aspiration to giving quality answers to the children in your life.

“Where do babies come from?”

  • “From momma’s belly.”

“How do they get in there?”

  • “From loving.”

“How did we get here?”

  • “We are all bits of stars from the sky. Everything that’s alive has electricity in it. We are all important and all deserve the chance to live.”

“What happens when we die?”

  • “I don’t know. No one does.”

“How can Santa see me?”

  • “He can see everyone, all the time.”

“What do plants eat?”

  • “Dirt and sunshine. They drink water. We all need these things to live.”

“Do rocks poop?”

  • “Rocks aren’t alive. Everything that is alive poops.”

“Why is that kid mean to me?”

  • “Maybe they are sad, or mad, or maybe they just don’t feel good. Why do you think? What do you think you could do to make them feel better?”

“Why?”

  • No matter what they are asking about, kids want an answer. Try to be truthful and simple with answers, using terms they will know and understand.

Answering the barrage of questions from kids can be exhausting, but the answers we come up with define our children’s views and attitudes towards life. The questions come when I’ve least expected it, and in many different ways. When I’m mindful however, they lead to answers that sparkle and satisfy.

 

Bringing Up Bebe Brings Up Issue of Control

15 Aug waiting
“Enjoy” is an important word here. For the most part, French parents don’t expect their kids to be mute, joyless, and compliant. Parents just don’t see how their kids can enjoy themselves if they can’t control themselves.”
-Pamela Druckerman, Bringing Up Bebe, One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting

I delve into all the parenting books I can find to gain wisdom on how to parent my own child. The latest of which has been Pamela Druckerman’s Bringing Up Bebe, a book that talks about how the French have a different goal in mind when raising their children than American parents seem to.

First of all, let me say that this book is all about generalities and one woman’s experience that was supported by parenting professional’s opinions that she found. Research can be found to support just about anything. She is coming from the perspective of a middle-class to upper middle-class white American who moved to France and noticed differences in her child’s behavior and the other American children’s behavior from the French children she met. Bringing Up Bebe is a record of that experience and what she found the differences between the French parenting and American parenting techniques to be. There are a lot of parenting philosophies out there and a quick counter-read to Bringing Up Bebe is this Forbes article: Bringing Up Bebe? No Thanks, I’d Rather Raise a Billionaire.

The “How-To” of Creating Happiness

So, now, as a parent, what is your goal while raising a child? Is your answer for your child to “be happy”? Ok. So how are you going to do that? It’s a tough question. Think about it and we’ll come back to it.

In Bringing Up Bebe, the French have some very specific goals: A) raise a “sage” or calmly present child that controls themselves so they can enjoy themselves, and B) awaken children to all that the world has to offer.

Now, back to the question above. The French parenting philosophy discussed in Bringing Up Bebe is about raising a controlled and awakened child so that they (and their parents) can be happy. So, how do they do this?

Control is taught through encouraging awakening. One example is with food. French children are little gourmets, says Druckerman, who eat all sorts of foods, and waits for them to be served in courses. You don’t find French moms grabbing for goldfish crackers and juice boxes at the playground like American mothers do, she says. Children eat at scheduled times: usually at 8am, 12pm, 4pm and 8pm without a myriad of random snacks in between. This seeming strict schedule is encouraged through an appreciation of food. Awaking children to color, taste and texture found in food, which should be enjoyed slowly and purposefully.

WAIT!

Sighted is the famous “marshmallow test” where children were put in a room with marshmallows on the table and told by a scientist that they could eat one now if they wanted or wait until the scientist came back and then they could have two marshmallows. It was found that those that had enough self-control to wait for the bigger reward as 4 year olds were better at concentrating, reasoning and handling stress as adults.

The French have this concept of raising calmly present “wait-ers” ingrained, it seems. They let kids practice waiting, and as they are doing this practicing, they are learning how to distract themselves so that waiting becomes less of a burden. This is why French children rarely whine or collapse into tantrums: because they have developed the internal resources to deal with frustration. American kids? More anxious, irritable and demanding which isn’t fun for anyone.

Visible Results

So, while I have several parenting goals: to raise a happy child through spiritual awareness, empathy, self-knowledge and being awake, there is definitely room to teach some self-control techniques so that he is able to more easily handle stress as well.

After reading Bringing Up Bebe, there has been one noticeable difference in my everyday life with my child. I’m asking him to wait more. Not to sit through a lecture, just to wait for a few minutes between him asking me to do something and me actually doing it. And, so far, the waiting seems to be getting easier and easier, so I’m hoping he’s feeling less and less stress while doing it. I have noticed him taking a longer pause before interrupting my conversations with other adults, so…..could be working already.

Craft so good, do it twice!

1 Aug

You know a craft project is good when A) a preschooler uses the lesson learned from it in everyday activities; and B) when he wants to do it again the next day.

That’s what this craft was for us this week.

We spend a lot of time at the beach and normally putting sunscreen on my child consists of corralling him long enough from the pleasures of sand and cooling water to smear the stuff on while gripping onto his arm so he doesn’t run away.  Which is why this craft project appealed to me.

Basically, you take some dark-colored paper and paint on it with sunscreen. You can add on interesting shapes and then place it in the sun for the day. By dinnertime, the paper has been bleached by the sun everywhere except for where the shapes or the sunscreen has been.

You compare the paper to your skin and boom! lesson learned.

How do I know?

Because after we did this little sunscreen craft project we went to the beach. My boy voluntarily stopped playing, ran up to me and asked for sunscreen!

Amazing. It was a request that sounded as sweet as music to my mom-ified ears.

Then when he woke up this morning he wanted to do it again.

As the summer paces along, the sunburns don’t have to. Try this and other crafts from I Can Teach My Child, a site that has given me some great ideas.

The Seven Spiritual Laws for Parents

25 Jul

The Law of the Least Effort.

We’re coming up on Wednesday as I write this (& you’re likely reading it) and getting around again to what I find to be the easiest and most natural of the Spiritual Laws that Deepak Chopra talks about in his book The Seven Spiritual Laws for Parents.

The Least Effort? Wait. I like to do what takes the least effort…but isn’t that called just being….lazy?

Chopra’s writings and speeches sometimes turn out like a lot of other self-help gurus: muddled and preachy. At times I’ve thought cynical thoughts about the series of “spiritual experts” that Oprah has referenced over and over again….and then a funny thing starts to happen; I start to agree with her.

Suddenly Deepak Chopra goes from “choke-ya” to “Oh! That’s why you two practically have the exact same name: Oprah and Chopra, that’s pretty close you’ve got to admit. (Oh, Chopra is Deep! I get it ;)

Both of these “Oprah-esque” public figures have what is essentially a very simple and pure message: Do What Feels Right.

Do what feels right. It seems easy but often isn’t when the situation gets complicated.Doubts and questions come. Do what feels right?

How do I know what that is?

This is where spiritual awareness comes in. It’s about constantly being aware of yourself and your surroundings. It’s a big idea and a life philosophy and Deepak Chopra pares it down to simple language so that it is an approachable topic to talk about with preschoolers and very small children so that they can start to view the world through the lens of a spiritual being.

Whoooeee! Just explaining the explanation can be exhausting!

So, Chopra’s easy version:

FIRST LAW: Everything is possible.

SECOND LAW: If you want something, GIVE it.

THIRD LAW: When you make a choice, you change the future.

FOURTH LAW: Don’t say no-go with the flow.

FIFTH LAW: Every time you wish or want, you plant a seed.

SIXTH LAW: Enjoy the journey.

SEVENTH LAW: You are here for a reason.

Chopra spells out practical ways to discuss these seven laws with your children in Seven Spiritual Laws for Parents, including focusing on one law per day and taking notice of it on that day.

So back to Wednesday.

This Wednesday I am going to take Deepak Chopra’s suggestion and pay attention to my ATTITUDE toward things like work and toward the happenings of my life.

I am going to teach myself and my child the divine way to approach life: by finding the game, the magic, the miracle in the task. I am going to try to remove the pressures that obstruct play including: warnings, threats, judgements, time pressures, guilt, expectations, rewards and falsehoods.

And if I don’t do it all, I’m going to forgive myself and remember that tomorrow is a new day.

 

 

 

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