Friday, December 13, 2013

Is it Christmas Already!?

  • Well we are well on the way to Christmas now. The kids finished up school for the year on Tuesday, and we are in holiday mode. Me included! Every afternoon this week I have spent a little time in the back yard on my swing seat and read a book. Not just any book! The freakin HOBBIT! This book is such a challenge for me...because a) I usually only read biographies and b) Im not a fantasy fiction fan. Honestly the only reason I sat through the Lord of the Rings trilogy was because it was NZ made. And you know how I love NZ made. But I am determined... and so far I am pleasantly surprised! I am really 'getting' why people love this stuff so much...hubster included!
  • Our advent calendar is up and running and we are counting down the sleeps to Jesus Birthday and special times with family. We started the advent calendar last year, which I had put together from a kit set I bought at the lovely Tracy's Shop. The boxes are quite small, and can only fit about three lollies and a teeny piece of paper. And on that little piece of paper I have Advent Activities that we complete that day. Here are a few of the highlights so far...

bought a keepsake ornament

bought food for the food bank

  • So far we have also been to a Christmas Parade, put up the tree, read a Christmas story, made paper chains, written out Xmas cards and done Christmas coloring in pages. I think having a little Christmas activity each day gives the kids the best gift ...and that is TIME...and they like a little sugar too! But we have so much more to come...Christmas baking...attempt to make marshmallows...go see the lights...make ginger bread men... so much fun to be had at this time of year! 
  • As mentioned on this blog post...I took my annual Christmas card pic. I went for a beached theme once again... I cant help it!...we just love our Northland beaches and they provide a lovely back drop for my little sprogs. And as you can see by their faces, the sprogs love the beach...which means they smile more because they are just happy. I picked the beautiful Langs beach this year. Its not a beach we go to very often, but after this photo shoot Hubster and I agreed...if we won a million dollars we would retire here! Yes it really is that stunning.  
  • Again Master Zak Zak proved to be an unwilling muse. You really have to have patience for children's photography...something I have very little of. This year I took literally hundreds of photos so there were lots to sift through. I did the stupidest thing, I left the boys nice shirts at home on the couch, so unfortunately they are in their beach clothes. Oh well! Miss Joy looked beautiful in her new dress and was photogenic as always. Hubster was in charge of project managing the "Snowman". I think he did a good job without a bucket or spade. Once he finished his project he spent the next hour in the surf, while I wrangled the kids into my shots. 

The Final Product

To all of you who read this silly little blog, Thank you! 
Your comments and well wishes really warm my heart and make it all worth while. 
I so enjoy sharing snippets of my life with you to inspire, encourage or give you a laugh. 
And So with that...May I wish you all a very Merry Christmas, filled with fun, joy, family and great food.
I'm off to spend the next wee while wrangling my kids and enjoying the sun and holidays and possibly a little less blogging. 
Stay safe and may the Lord Bless you and yours. 

♥♥♥ Jacksta B ♥♥♥

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Family and toolbox parenting.

Way back in April when I went to the Bloggers Conference in Christchurch, Leonie and I were at the table at the same time filling in an entry to win a Parenting Place (formerly Parents Inc) competition for a "toolbox parents course". We both looked at each other and said the same thing... "I hope I win because I'm a terrible parent!"...We both had a laugh when we both won a prize each. The prize was for one or a couple to attend a 6 week course. And ever since April, I had been on the look out for one in my area, but none seemed to be offered, until last month a Facebook friend invited people for one at her place. Phew!...I was considering giving it to someone in Auckland. And it was exactly the age group I needed..."the Middle years 6-12 year old's".

The group had eight of us and one facilitator and we met for 6 weeks from 7:30pm to 9:30pm. The course has been created by the genius parenting Gurus and mentors from the Parenting Place such as Ian and Mary Grant and John Cowan. Each of us were given a Participants Handbook to keep and to write notes in. The night is run by a mix of reading the handbook, watching short snippets of a DVD with presenters, some group discussions and review activity's. Time and care was taken to listen to each participants views and thoughts, but our facilitator kept us on track and moving through each of the nights topics. And there was a huge range of topics covered!

What did I come away from it??
Well I learnt perhaps I wasn't such terrible parent after all! I had found that over the years that I had been a parent, I had managed to glean a lot of the ideas presented in the sessions from reading the Parents Inc Magazine and from a couple of Ian and Mary Grants books I had on my shelf. My down fall was that I had read them...but hadn't been applying them.

So after attending the course these are the take home things that we have decided to apply to our family.

  • There are a range of parenting styles...but our aim is to be a parent coach style...with a backbone as opposed to Sergeant-major parent we have been at times. 
  • Trying really hard not to discipline with anger. I learnt that the emotion of the anger will override the lesson that can be learnt to improve behavior for next time.
  • I want to to try and encourage good EQ in the kids by teaching good manners. To get along in the world they need social skills and our home is the first place they learn to get along in the world. Habitual good manners will lead to habitual good treatment of others.
  • I learnt about the Anger Rules: "Its okay to feel angry, but the rules are...I must not hurt others or things or myself. And I must talk about it." I have thought about putting this one up on the fridge for the couple of hot heads in the included! Along with some cool down strategies mentioned in my manual. 
  • We did a session on personality types...the animal one: beavers, otters, golden retrievers, and lions. I almost cried when I realised each of us represent all of the  different personality types! No wonder we all clash sometimes! There was some good strategies on how to coach each kind of personality which was fab. 
  • Understanding this is the perfect time for family traditions and creating great memories. Exploring together andhaving fun as a family. 
  • Putting in the time and effort at this time in their lives will help us A LOT when they get to the teenage years. 
  • But the major thing we have instigated is the "Family Meeting". I was a little apprehensive about it...but gave it ago. Our first family meeting was about family meetings! I introduced what it was about and how it will work. We decided a once a week family meeting on a Sunday would work for us...AND the kids loved it! They were asking for a family meeting every second day! I said NO..put it on the agenda for next time! How hilarious! 
  • Things that we have on the agenda were: Chores for the week...they decided that doing the same particular chore for the week was better than we let them do it. Other things we talked about were the things coming up the next week like what days I was working and who had school activities. One person is the scribe for the night and one person gets to have the gavel and be the chair person. The Kids Love being able to put forward ideas like "Saturday family  Movie night" etc. "Hmmm Mumma and Dadda will think about those ideas...." we reply! We make it fun by having ice creams or chocolate and a game after the meeting, like Uno. 

Lately as we have been eating our dinners at the table and conversing I have been looking around at my little family with a feeling of contentment. Like...we are on the right track if that makes sense? and we are making progress to making ourselves a nice little family unit. My hope is that we would one day use the words "we are a close family". Or that my children will grow up not only as siblings but have genuine friendships with one and another. That they will look back on their childhoods with fondness and joy. And  that I will make it through the other side with all my hair still intact and preferable my not grey from stress! 
So doing courses like this really helps! Looking forward to the next one!