Monday, April 23, 2012

Pruning the Facebook Tree

These days, it's considered abnormal for someone to not have a Facebook account. Along with our account, comes needless time spent "facebook stalking" others, broadcasting our emotional life through passive-aggressive statuses, and building our self esteem up through our lengthy grocery list "to do today" posts or descriptions of the 4 course dinner we just made (did you ever notice that no one ever mentions that the house is a wreck and the kids have been parked in front of the TV all day while that dinner was made or that amazing blog post was written?).

*NOTE: I am writing this post during nap time. Even though I should actually be studying right now. (cringe). *

Along with all of the nonsense though, comes a lot of good things out of Facebook. I'm able to reconnect with old friends, share photos with family across the country, and can be quickly alerted if anyone has a need that I can meet. However, we all know that this is rarely the only thing that comes out of using Facebook.

Facebook is the one thing in life that you can easily control. Did someone make you upset? Are you wasting your time? Did you get offended? Are you being tempted to emotionally connect with someone other than your significant other? These things can really weigh us down, and they are all to often mediated by this addictive social network! The solution is easy, though---VERY easy: click the "x" and get out of it. Getting out of a website or clicking a button on your computer is easy! Wouldn't it be great if the rest of our lives were so easy?

(Why thank you, Ms. Know-It-All for saying that ridiculous comment and hurting my feelings and stressing me out. I think I'll just take my finger and press your nose and WHOLA! you will disappear and never return to my vicinity again!)

Here's another secret: are you being emotionally drained by something derived from Facebook? Guess what?! You can delete that person from being your "friend" (or "block" them from seeing your statuses or you from seeing theirs if you don't feel comfortable "unfriending" that person). Facebook, like anything in life, should be building us up as a person. Our use of it should be intentional and in our control. If it is not intentional, we should be looking at how to change that. Living with purpose is similar to pruning a tree. We can let our life grow wild and out of control, dropping dead branches, getting infested with bugs, and entangling ourselves and others in its growth, or we can be purposeful about limiting outside and intrinsic influences, carefully shaping it like a Bonsai tree. We can prune out things that aren't helping us get to where we need to in life, and we can make decisions now that will influence how are life looks ten years from now.

I'm not saying Facebook is horrible. In fact, I think it's a great tool. I am simply saying that if it is causing you to stumble or if the "friends" you have on it are tearing you down instead of building you up, then please have the courage to change some things.

Here are some questions to help you decide who should stay on your "friend" list so that you can have a beautiful Bonsai Facebook tree instead of a massive droopy Willow tree that entangles itself and you.

1) Whose life are you genuinely interested in, whose do you not care about, and whose Facebook page do you stalk because you are nosey or enjoy gawking at them to either make yourself feel better or because it's entertaining? Be honest. It isn't fair to stalk another person's life (even if they are foolish enough to put it out there for everyone to see) if it's not because you are being genuine.

2) Who causes you strife on Facebook? It might be through her statuses, comments on yours, or even from that one person who drives you crazy because he sends you three Farmville requests every day.

3) Who would you actually seek out to talk to if you saw them in real life? Anyone who doesn't make this cut should probably not take up room on your Facebook tree.

Once you get your Friends' list trimmed down, you may want to consider a few other actions, too. Simple solutions to real problems (don't think anyone has these problems? Talk to your friends!):

1) Problem: spending time on Facebook inhibits you from accomplishing things you need to, or takes time away from your family.

Solution: decide on a particular time of day/week that you will be on, and actually stick to not getting on outside of that time frame. If you do this, then make sure you aren't getting email or text/phone alerts about Facebook activity. Another solution is to only use your Smartphone and to not get on the website version. This is what I do and it does really limit the amount of time viewing other people's pages or sending message to people just because it's not as easy to do through my app than it is via my PC and website.

2) Problem: people who you don't feel you can delete (family, for instance) are really bothering you.

Solution: block them from seeing your statuses, or make it so theirs don't pop up in your news feed. This has been a wonderful emotional-tank saver in my life!

3) Problem: You are getting too involved with someone you shouldn't.

Solution: share your password or even an account with your significant other. It's also pretty easy to delete someone, and even if you struggle in the beginning, protecting your relationship is very much worth the uncomfortableness you may experience at first.

Keep watching Life More Simply--I will be launching a Facebook Bonsai Tree Challenge very soon that will give you an opportunity to take back your personal Facebook life and live with intention! If you choose to start pruning back your Facebook Tree today, be sure to note how many "friends" and "pages liked" you started with so you can report this in the challenge! Get excited about shaping your life. This is only one step, but it has the potential to greatly improve your thoughts, and taking your mind captive is the key to living the life you want.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Live homebirth being webcasted NOW!

As I write this, Jessica, a mother of five, is birthing her sixth home, and for all of the world to see. Attended by a midwife and complete with a media representative (Anna) who answers questions and keeps the audience updated with Twitter-style text updates, this family is allowing everyone to become part of the intimate birth story of their child.

Are you watching? Would you show your own birth live on the Internet? How does this benefit or hurt the audience and the family being viewed?

While I am currently at work (oh my, a 45-hour long shift), I am unable to watch it (my male coworkers insisted that no birth is going to be seen on the public computer while they are in the room!)...but if you are interested, you can catch the whole event here:

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Discipline: Making it Effective by Making It Personal

"You are not managing an inconvenience. You are raising a human being." -Kittie Franz

Anyone who has more than one child has probably noticed that while one child will cry if you look at him wrong, the other child will defy every Nanny 911 philosophy and will still be screaming and kicking 2 hours after you began the discipline routine (forget that "they give up after 40 minutes" nonsense!). What then, is the key to discipline that works? It's simple: the child.

It would be nice if every home could have a chart that had a specific consequence for every possible offense. However, even if you could come up with a chart like that, I'm afraid the impact one consequence has on one child is very different from another child. Look at it this way: if your teenager said a vile word, you might take away her cell phone for a day, thus putting her into the depths of despair and ensuring she will not say this word [in front of you] ever again. If your toddler said a naughty word, taking a phone away probably wouldn't mean a thing and thus you will probably hear the word "SHUT UP!" again (when my 3-year-old wishes to be as downright naughty as she can possibly be, that is what comes out her mouth at high rates and volumes). See where I'm going with this?

Here are some guidelines to choosing an appropriate and effective discipline strategy for your child.

1) Discipline is behavior modification and should be thought of as such. Thinking of a consequence as a "punishment" places the focus on your child obeying you because of your power rather than your child developing into a morally, ethically, and wise individual who makes good decisions. And yes, your child will learn to obey/respect authority--but it will be because he understands that he should instead of because of fear. Keep the purpose of discipline in mind and you will go far.

2) The discipline should be appropriate to the offense. My daughter refused to pick up her toys in the time I allotted her to do so the other day. As a result, I put all of the remaining toys on the floor into a box which she then had to earn back (which her 3-year-old spirit refused to give in to and do until TWO days later). Notice that the discipline matched the offense (the offense, in reality, was disobeying mama. The action that showed the offense though, was not picking up the toys. So the discipline was relative and concerning the toys--it is a much more concrete A to B relationship for my child to learn if I keep the discipline flowing from the same object that was the problem in her mind!). I kept the consequence consistent with the problem, and I also kept it in proportion. I didn't take all of her toys away, just the ones that she didn't pick up in time.

3) The discipline should be meaningful to the child. Study your child to see what impacts that child the most, and use that to your advantage when choosing discipline strategies. For example, if your child who loves to write was mean to someone, it may work well to have him write five letters of positive affirmation to specific people, or to write a list of 20 things that are positive about the person he was mean to. Also, a social child will feel very negatively toward being separated from the rest of the family, while a more introverted child will find having 10 minutes away from everyone a welcome experience. You don't always have to chose the most drastic measure to create the most memorable impact on the child.
4) The discipline should be immediate. Research shows that to change the behavior of someone, immediate consequences are most effective. Often times, delaying a consequence is done to create a level of fear. If we are attempting to shape our child's character out of love rather than fear, though, manipulating the environment like that should be avoided. :) Yes, this will be inconvenient to you, and you may not always be able to make it happen. But if you threaten your toddler with you pulling over the car if he pokes his sister again, then you had better be ready to pull that car over, or your child will quickly learn that mom doesn't mean what she says and that he can get away with poor behavior. And that "wait until your father gets home" philosophy? I mean, really? Don't you want your child to respect both parents equally and know that the parents are on the same team? Discipline your child, mama, it is your responsibility to raise him right!

5) The discipline should be consistent. Keep the standards for your child as consistent as possible between homes and environments. If your child gets into trouble for hitting at home, he should also get into trouble for hitting while he is at the grocery store. Having the same discipline consequence for an offense doesn't matter as much as simply having a discipline consequence for the offense. For instance, if the child is at dad's house and is disrespectful, he may have to go to his room for 10 minutes. At mom's, he may end up in the corner for the same offense. The point is that your child will do better if he has the same set of standards, not necessarily consequences, for his behavior regardless of location.

The ultimate idea here is to learn about your child. It is important to shape a character without crushing it, and this can only be done by making each consequence appropriate and personal for the individual character it is supposed to shape.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A borrowed thought on birthing without fear

I began cleaning out my blog subscription list tonight. The first one was deleted with no problem since the author hadn't posted anything in a year. Then, not recalling what the next blog was, I clicked on Heartbeat Photography...and fell in love. I have a soft spot for newborn and pregnancy photography. There is something magical and beautiful about it. This woman, wherever she is from and whomever she is, gets it. The moments she has captured are just that--magical and beautiful. What I want to share with you, is a paragraph that she wrote on the page who explains who she is as the artist behind the photos.

"Beyond capturing souls, hearts, smiles, bellies or little toes; I have discovered a great love for speaking, mentoring, and educating my fellow sisters in faith about their glorious bodies, swollen bellies, growing babies and the journey and miracle of bringing new life into the world. I educate, create, inspire, doula, midwife and walk 'with women' to help them and love on them as they fulfill our most amazing task: to bring forth the life that our God has created."

My favorite words from her, though, are this:

 "Women are the carriers of life. We hold the fruit of Christ's love beneath our hearts. Our curses have been taken by the blood of the lamb and we no longer need to serve fear, death, pain or torment. We are free. It is time we started to birth with the Faith that He has given us."


Friday, April 6, 2012

Goodnight Moon Lullabye Song (listen for FREE!)

Renowned Grammy-award winning composer and conductor, Eric Whitacre, has created a beautiful rendition of the childhood storybook classic “Goodnight Moon” into a Phantom Of The Opera style lullaby. The music breathes of elegance and sophistication while enchanting the listener with an uncluttered melody line and a robust string accompaniment. This song is so much better than the common children's music on the market today. As a private music instructor and having been trained in the Music Together early childhood music curriculum and theories, I tell you from the voice of research that it is very important for your child's musical development to listen to music in a variety of styles, keys, modes, time signatures, etc.. This song meets a lot of criteria for stimulating positive brain activity and musical development and I would definitely turn up the computer and let this song play in the background of your day. :)

Take a listen at to stream it for free!

(I received no compensation or even acknowledgement for this review and the opinion is certainly all mine)

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Discipline: When to Enforce, When to Have Grace

 "What is best for the child is not always what is most convenient for the parent."  
~ Bonnie Bedford

My son turned 21-months-old two days ago. Tonight was the first time he ever folded his arms while telling me "no" as he stood in his high chair after I had told him to sit on his bum during dinner. As soon as dinner was done, I got the kids washed up and into jammies. Again, my son defied me when I tried to put him into his bed. Even though he was fed, clean, warm, and had his beloved "blankie," he was still so very upset. The problem? He wanted to wear his sneakers to bed...

 Parenting little ones can all too often include power struggles over whose way something is going to get done--including if we are going to listen to mommy and sit during dinner, or if mommy is going to give in and let us stand while we eat! How do you foster independence and self reliance while still raising a child who knows how to obey and be respectful--and who doesn't feel entitled because he always gets his way? And how do you know which things to let go of, and which things to enforce? These tips will help you decipher this very question.

1) Uncover your motivation. What is the reason behind what you are asking your child to do? If it's a safety concern, then YES, you need to enforce your request and the child needs to obey immediately or have consequences appropriate to the situation/child/age. If safety is NOT a concern, then move to Tip #2.

2) Make sure it isn't a power struggle for you. Sometimes, let's face it, we want to enforce an idea of what our child should do because we want to "win." For some reason, it seems perfectly logical in the moment, but not so logical as I write this and think about myself facing off with a kid who can't even talk yet. Isn't teaching our child self control, love, and respect of more importance than teaching them to obey without question? Don't get me wrong; I want my child to be able to obey without question, because it could save her life some day. I also, though, want her to be able to reason and not just blindly follow someone, because the ability to reason could save her life later on when I'm not there. I also want my child to know that I will consider her feelings and thoughts, but that I will also enforce what I feel is the best decision for her (at least at this age!). 

3) It ultimately comes down to this: do you want to enforce something because it's good for your child, or because it's good for you? What is the issue at stake, and does it really matter? There will be times when you need to stick to your guns simply because your child is learning to obey. Other times, you need to show grace and allow your child to do it "his" way because it's an issue that really doesn't matter and allowing him to choose helps his development in some way.

For us tonight, my son sat during dinner and wore his sneakers to bed.