Monthly Archives: May 2014

Accentuating the Positive


Poor Philip.  Being 4 can be rough sometimes.  Lots of rules.  Lots of expectations.  Lots of emotions.

Sometimes, his emotions erupt like a volcano.  I understand.  I feel that way sometimes and I am still a work in progress on “turning the wheel” and keeping my emotions under control.  Today, in fact, I felt a rumbling of anger when he had drenched himself with the rainwater (irresistible!) while I walked the dog.  I had this big plan.  It was a cloudy day so we were going to relocate some of the 4′ x 4′ garden beds from the back garden and put them in the front garden.  But, a soaked child in cool, persistent wind is no good and I was not in the mood to dress him in fresh clothes, stick his feet in plastic bags to allow him to wear his sodden boots and layer him in a fleece and a windbreaker since his winter coat was dripping.  It was so disappointing.  We were going to be EXCAVATORS!  We were going to unearth these beds and haul them.  He was going to get wonderfully worn out and I was going to tackle a chore.  But, it drained me.  I lacked the reserve to be resilient about it.  We went in.  I removed all of the wet items, made sure he was warm and dry and relocated myself to make a bed while he listened to Poetry Speaks to Children in the kitchen and read along with the book.

As I made the bed, I argued with myself about whether or not this was a major big deal (not really) or just a learning opportunity (probably) and what I could do about it (get calm, move forward).

When I got downstairs, he was still listening to poetry, and I was still feeling pretty negative.  So, I grabbed a notebook and a pen and just started writing.  I sat on the chair near the window (trying not to think about all of the seeds that I have not yet planted) and I got my mood back in order after about 2 paragraphs (I wasn’t given much time for more).  He came up with some games to play, we had book-and-a-snack on the chair a bit later, then enjoyed reading the graphic novel version of The Little Prince over dinner.  Afterwards, he had a fabulous splash fest in the bath followed by a bedtime book, then lights out.

As I gave Philip his bedtime hugs and kisses, I told him how much he helped me get chores done (he helped me vacuum and he helped me clean dishes), how hard he worked on controlling his emotions (He and I worked on a list together.  For example, “When I get angry, I will stop and think quietly.”), how gentle he was with the dog (lots of pets and a reminder to brush the dog’s teeth) and so on.

He was grinning ear to ear.  He even said he was blushing.

As Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish point out in How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and How to Listen So Kids Will Talk, lecturing, preaching and harping about mistakes are ineffective motivators for positive change.  When the situation has passed, when the milk has been spilled, when the brains (both the parents’ and the child’s) are back in normal mode, it’s time to talk about ways to do things differently.  It can be really hard.  Parenting is a selfless act, but not all parents are selfless (nor, I think, should they be).  But, having faith and trust, leaning on patience and collective plans really can help ease the burden on all in the family.




It is another gorgeous evening.  The sun has set and the temperature is warm and pleasant.  The mourning doves are making their last song of the day and the frogs have picked up the chorus.  The other night, I saw my first bat of the season.  That was wonderful.  The barn swallows haven’t yet returned.  While I am concerned about that, I am still hopeful.  Our official “last average frost” date is May 7th.  Maybe the swallows know that the bugs aren’t really out yet.  I am inclined to trust them and have some faith.

The semester is, thankfully, wrapping up.  As usual, it is hard to see the end of the term.  So many students make the choice between school and their jobs.  Their jobs always win.  School rarely does.  As a result, school performance is impacted.  You can’t earn an A when you don’t turn in assignments, come to class, study or take exams.  It is grueling to witness, but I am not the type of instructor that calls the student on the phone or drops by their home to find out why they didn’t come to class.  I accept that they are adults and let them make their choices, however lamentable those decisions turn out to be.

In the past few days, Philip and I have been busy outside.  We have started the foundation for a stick house beneath the white pines.  It is round and, as it turns out, accommodates the new teepee that Grandma E. sent today.  Nearby, we began digging the outline for the sunflower house.  I did a quick inventory and have decided that we could use more sunflower seeds, but we will do our best.  Around the magnolia, we tilled a large circle.  We are going to make plantings as if it’s a big clock.  I was thinking of placing tomatoes at the 3, 6, 9 and 12 positions.  We have started to transplant the daylily plants from the back of the house to the front.  The part of the area north of the mailbox has been completed; the area south of the mailbox still needs to be done.  We also transplanted several comfrey plants and situated them beneath the fruit trees.  It will help them thrive.  Mother’s Day is this Sunday and I am hoping for a non-rainy day.  A cloudy day is not a problem–in fact, it would be preferable–since I intend to have 2 helpers with me for the day getting the yard all arranged, planted and organized.  It is a very big hope.

The kitchen is a tad messy and there are things to do.  I will sign off now and then attempt to take care of them.

Have a good night.

Vive le French!


Last night, we came home from the library with these 2 gems:

Benjamin Bear in Bright Ideas by Philippe Coudray.   For emerging readers (and, I suspect, boys), this book provides enough words to convey a message with images that highlight the humor in the action and the text. What I love most about this refreshingly different children’s book is how it provides clean humor and wonderful wit without kowtowing to “what kids want.” When I buy books, I think about whether or not the author deserves my money. I fully believe that Philippe Coudray creates an entertaining book with charm and understated verve. Bravo!

Hello, Mr. Hulot by David Merveille according to Jacques Tati.  Another gorgeous book from the French.  Merci!  Monsieur Hulot is an exceptional character depicted whimsically and sure to make you laugh out loud. I particularly love “The Snowball Effect” (brillant), “The Umbrella Corner” (sweet ou doux) and “Francois the Postman” (tres drole), but all of the vignettes are wonderful.  A refreshing change from so many of the other children’s books that are out there.

I am so excited to have found these books!  I hope that you will pick them up and enjoy them, too.

Au revoir!

Fools Check In


Fools Check In

A mower.
We had decided on a mower.
Push or riding?
Are you kidding?
Definitely riding.

Which one to get?

Big mower at fancy shop
With aloof sales guy:
5-year warranty
Bagger included.
Will bring it to your house
All repairs done at the shop.

Not as big mower at rough-and-tumble shop
With folksy sales guy:
5-year, 3-year, 1-year warranty
You drive it home.
You break it,
Good luck fixing it.

$500 is a lot of money.
$500 is a lot of tree seedlings and berry bushes.
Think of the berry bushes…mmmmm

SOLD to the folksy guy
With peanut shells in his boot treads.

P.S.  The bagger is extra.  About $500.