Friday, November 28, 2008

Child Abuse: When to become “Involved”

When do you report child abuse and to whom? It is not our job to determine if child abuse is taking place. It is our job to speak for the children who may not be able to speak for themselves or get anyone to hear them.

What about all the horror stories about families and lives being destroyed by false accusations? If you have concerns for a child’s safety or well being it is not a false accusation. Truth be known, more child abusers slip through the cracks then innocent people are found “harmful” to their children.


If you think there is some type of abuse going on – proof or no proof – go with your gut on this one, call children’s aid and let them know how you feel and why. It is their job to determine if there is abuse or danger to the child. An abuser is going to hide what they are doing so you may only have hints and small incidences to go on. If something feels wrong it probably is.

If you see abuse – then you call the police and report it so there is a record of the abuse, time and date. The police will bring in Children’s Aid but you may want to call C.A. as well.

If a child is in severe danger – call the police. Bring attention to what is happening. Get as many people as possible to intervene for the safety of the child.

If you saw a baby or a child locked in a hot or freezing car you would do what you had to to rescue the child. Why should it be any different if someone is beating a child or abandoning their children for days on end, or “just” hurting them in ways that don’t leave marks?

We are the adults and it is time we placed innocent children before strangers, friends and even family.

There is nothing worse then looking into the eyes of a child you could have saved but did not. Unless it is knowing a child died because you did not want to get involved.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Christmas Does not have to be expensive #1

My kids love to make things and money is tight this Christmas so instead of spending money on fancy ornaments this year we are buying the less expensive plastic and foam ornaments and having fun making them fancy. Please note that my kids a 3 and 5 so their idea of fancy is not the same as most people, but I can live with that.

One of the first things we did was buy some plastic balls and stickers at the dollar store. We were able to find stickers for all the big name cartoons our kids love, and by putting them on the balls we now have Dora, My little Pony, robot, whinny the pooh and more ornaments for way less then a $1.00 each, and on top of that my kids feel pried because they made those ornaments.

We also bought glitter glue from the dollar store and Wal-mart and used it on the ornaments. It is a good way to go from nice to wow in a kids eyes; let them add sparkles to it. Lets just say I am much happier with the glitter glue instead of glitter and glue. It is harder to put the glue on and then put glitter on with a 3 and 5 year old. You end up with glitter and glue all over everything. With the glitter glue there is much less of a mess, and you don’t have glitter permanently in all your things, and you. Lose glitter has got to be one of the hardest things to clean up.

Over all we had fun, some unusual ornaments made with the memories of making them that we will think of every year we put them up on the tree. I don’t care if some of them are downright odd looking, my kids made that. Also, they make good Christmas gifts, handcrafted ornaments to Grandma.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Sick day turns into a fun tent day

My kids were both sick with colds so I kept them home just to be on the safe side. However I was not expecting to enjoy the day at home, trapped in a house with two kids not feeling very well. Then the cold medicine kicked in and I had two grumpy kids full of energy.

My kids decided all on their own that it was tent day. We pulled in the chairs from the kitchen and just about everything else the kids could get their hands on and they built a fort (with a little bit of help from Mom). The kids spent most of the day building and rebuilding the fort. The rest of the time was spent in the fort playing with each other and watching TV. They even made rooms for each of them to hang out and a living room that fit both of them, right in front of the TV. The only problem we had was when a blanket knocked down the bowl of chips. But the mess was soon cleaned up and they were off again.

The funny part was other then having me help out a little bit they did not want my attention, the tent was just to much fun. I kind of missed it, but at the same time did not mind that they were playing so well together for two grumpy sick kids. What could have been a difficult miserable day turned into a pretty good day simply because I let the kids do what they wanted to instead of worrying about the mess they were making.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Dealing with Holiday Money Stress

The last few days (or weeks if I want to be honest) have been stressful. I know the holidays are coming and I am worried about being able to give my kids a good Christmas. I know in my hart that they will love what ever they get for Christmas, but I also feel bad knowing I am unable to get them what they want.

This year it is different. Last year we put ourselves in DEBT to give them a wonderful Christmas, and we still have not gotten out from under it. So we don’t have the credit to use. This year is going to be tighter then ever and it is kind of hard to deal with as a parent. It is a combination of the economic downturn, our retail website is not making sales right now and the fact that both of us are going back to school so that we can try and get jobs next year simply because we cannot make a living off of our retail site right now. That may change eventually, but it is going to take a lot of time and some big changes in the economy.

We made the mistake of going to the mall with the kids this weekend. It was hard because we had to keep telling the kids no, we cannot buy that. We don’t have the money. Usually we try and pick them up something small, maybe $5.00 or even $10.00 each, but this time we just could not do so. They watched people filling their carts up with the toys they wanted and you could see the confusion on their little faces and they tried to understand why other people could get the toys but they could not. We will not be taking our kids into the stores again, if we can help it, until we do have a little money set aside for them.

We are going back in a week to get a Christmas picture of them with Santa, even though that is going to be about $30.00. We will try to make sure they can pick up something small on the same day, but it is going to be difficult. What is harder is knowing out kids have been asking for the same toys over and over again, and we know that we cannot get them because they are all over $30.00 each. We are going to see what we can do about getting them each one of the toys they want. We have been explaining to them that Santa can only fit so many toys in his bag, so they may only get one or two of the toys they ask for.

The truth is that they don’t need any more toys; they just want the newest ones. Also we have been buying small gifts all year, so they actually have a lot of things to go under the tree, just not what they are asking for right now. So we are not doing that bad, IT JUST FEELS THAT WAY! It is just hard when you cannot give them what they ask for; no matter how many toys you actually have under the tree, because all I thinks is Oh, I cannot buy this and I cannot buy that forgetting what I have already gotten them.

We are signed up for a Christmas basket from the Salvation Army this year and it is going to make a difference. Each kid will get one big toy and one little toy and a few small stocking stuffers. They would like to be able to do more, but the demand is way too high this year. There are way too many other families in the same situation we are in. I am going to be writing about how to have a good Christmas on a tight budget over the next few weeks.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

To eat or not can be all the control a child has

For some children they feel that all they control is if they eat and where they go bathroom. Getting your child to eat or use the toilet can become a battle of wills that no one wins and often results in anger and frustration for all involved. Children will resist having their control taken way just as strongly or even more so then adults. And that is completely understandable, if what you put into your mouth or where you went potty was the only things you controlled in your life you would fight to keep that control.

It can be incredibly frustrating trying to get kids to eat, especially when food is limited or you went out of your way to make sure things your child loves in on their plate. I have been there. We have accepted that our kids will not always eat and have learned to deal with it in different ways.

When ever possible we include them in our food and meal decisions. We find out what they would like for dinner and if possible we provide it. Our kids are learning that it is not always possible for us to give them what they want. Also it has to be “real food” not treats and candy. You don’t want to know how often we have cereal, hot dogs or soup for dinner these days.

Portion size. We have reduced the portions we put on our kids plates. They get a spoonful of each item. They have to have at least the number of bites equal to their age of each thing on the plate. Though we tend to be a little lenient when out of no where the kids suddenly decide that they don’t like something anymore, one bite to try and then eat the other things on the plate.

If our kids will not eat, then that is fine, at five and three they understand the consequences. No treat, or dessert unless they eat their “real” food first. If they are to full too eat anymore then they are too full for dessert. Does it go smoothly, no way! We have a screaming child demanding that they get a cookie instead of the soup they asked for. Answer, “No, you eat your dinner first or leave the table and get nothing.” Often you will hear, “We are not a restaurant, you eat what we give you.” (Keeping in mind that they were involved in the meal decisions in the first place.) If the negative behavior continues food is removed from the table and they are done. If they are hungry later (and not at bedtime) they can have their dinner, not the treat or dessert. However at all time the child in question always controls if they eat or not, that is up to them. We cannot force them to eat all we do is give them the option to eat and don’t deny them the food when they are hungry.

Kids will not starve themselves, if they are hungry they will eat. It is just not worth the battle to try and make them eat. Just don’t give in on the candy, treats and desserts, they have to eat real food first. Also don’t force your child to eat something they hate unless it is all you have to give them.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

My home was broken into today

My house was broken into today and I am very stressed out. When I got home from school James was unexpectedly home already. It seems he had left school a few hours early. He was wondering why I had moved his swords onto our bed and where was the one his dad had given him? I did not move the swords onto the bed, nor any of the other stuff he found on it. It seems someone had a key to get into our home. It may have been a master key used by locksmiths because our complex uses locks that are easy to remove and replace, all you need is one key to open every door in the 98 homes of the complex.

The police believe that either James interrupted them and they had time to get out of the front door before he made it through the back. However, they hid items in our living room under the couch instead of taking them. The police believe that they hid things in preparation for when they come back. They will not have to look around, they know where things are and hid the ones they wanted in a place that we would not normally look but would make it easer for them to grab when they came back with a truck.

This is very scary, fist that someone found it so easy to enter our home and that they did such a good job it was by chance we realized that something was wrong, and that someone had been in our home. If James had not asked me why I was moving the swords around we would never have figured it out. The second reason it is scary is because someone was in our home, and they can come back at any time. They have a key or master key to our home and we do not have anyway to keep them out. So now one of us has to be home all the time. That is going to be difficult and yet we cannot afford to not be home. We cannot replace anything right now so our lives have to suffer to prevent our home from being cleaned out.

We have already replaced the locks and are going to be buying alarms and more to try and prevent our home from being robbed. I am very angry right now, and part of me hopes they make the mistake of trying when we are home because then I can hurt them for putting me through this. Believe me when I say that even though I am for the most part a non-violent person right now I would love to be able to punch them in the nose or kick in a much lower area for trying to take what little we do have and making us live in fear.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Appreciating your child lets you value them

Recently I have started trying everyday to find something to appreciate about my children. Why, because it is a change in perception. I understand that if I appreciate something I value it. I am not saying that I don’t love or value my children but that by changing my view of things it changes my attitude as well. On a bad day I try to appreciate that my kids want to hug me and do things with me instead of seeing it as, “Why wont they leave me alone for five minuets.”

I appreciate the kindness and protectiveness my son has for everyone. He wants to be the hero, the one who keeps people safe from monsters. He takes on more responsibilities then a 5 year old ever should. He was telling me that if he defeated the monsters he would have money and he would give it to me and make things better. What five year old comes out with that? I value the person he is and is becoming. It is a lot easer to see it now that I am looking and finding things to appreciate about him. (picture is not of us, I don't like getting my pictures taken.)

My daughter is a little harder, but she is only three and going through what I hope is just a difficult phase. Though I have been told it never ends, they will always be rebellious and struggling to find or get their own way. However even on her worse days (and mine) I can still find something to appreciate. She love books and loves it even more when I read to her. She has a great smile and sometimes is willing to share with others spontaneously. There is a lot to appreciate in her and her actions if you take the time to look for it between the stubbornness and tantrums. She gets the stubbornness honestly so we are learning to live with it, lol.

Instead of concentrating on what went wrong or all the “bad” things the kids did or said, i.e. the negative things, I am looking past that to the kernels of “good” and fun in my kids. Every night I have started asking my son how much “good” is in him and he always tells me to guess. I start off holding my fingers together as if it is just a pinch. He says “no” and I move my hands apart a little. We keep doing this until I have my arms as outstretched as I can, and then he tells me it is even more then that. I have seen a huge change in him; it makes him feel good that I think he is that good. And he is a great kid when you take the time to look.

It goes back to that old saying “You will always find what you are looking for.” So if you are only looking for the negative, you will always find negative things. If you are looking for positive things you will find them too. It is just a matter of what you want to concentrate on. Looking for things to appreciate in my kids everyday is not always easy but it is worth it for my kids, our relationships and myself. I may not always appreciate what my children are doing, but I can always find something to appreciate in them.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

At what point do kids have too many toys

As people walk into my home they see a living room full of toys. Everyone comments on how many toys my kids have. Then I have to let them know I have boxes more in the basement and we switch them every month or so. A look of shock is the usual response. My kids have a lot of toys. And every time we go out with them we tend to buy anther two, because we have two kids. So at what point do kids have too many toys?

Here are some clues your kids have too many toys:
You cannot store them, or put them away because you have run out of room.
Your kids only play with the ones on the top of the pile because it is too hard to get to the other toys.
You start storing in large tote boxes and don’t know what is in them or worse you have so many cars or dolls they actually fill up a tote box on there own.
Cleaning involves moving toys from one area to another and then back again.
You pack up 2/3 of the toys and the kids don’t notice.
You rotate boxes of toys every few months and the kids think you bought new toys because they don’t remember having them.
You buy batteries in the largest packages and still don’t have enough for all the toys that need them.
The pile of toys is bigger then your kids, or you.
There are so many toys that there is no space to play.
At Christmas you ask family and friends for toy storage instead of toys.

How do I know this, this is my home, what I live with every day and it is all my own fault. I did not have a lot as a child, I don’t remember ever having more then one or two toys at any point growing up. I tend to overcompensate by making sure my kids have lots of toys. For years I would buy up toys at garage sales, even toys that are for kids way older then mine. I would store them so that I had them when the kids got older. It was great; I could afford lots of toys I could not normally buy. It was fun to go out every weekend and see what we could find. The kids loved it and I don’t think there were many weekends in the summer we would not come home with new toys. Then I had to stop, we just did not need any more toys. The kids still ask if we are going because they live finding treasures as much as I do.

Then there are the Birthday, Christmas and oh I just felt like picking this up toys. Then there is the pitfall of; “Hey we are out and the kids have been good let’s go to the store and let them pick something out.” It is so easy to fall into the trap of picking up something new. I makes me feel good as a parent that I can give things to my kids I did not have as a child. However, there is a point when enough is enough, something has to give. A child can only play with so many toys at one time.

My solution, reduce the number of toys we buy. Let the kids keep their favorite toys in their rooms and the ones in the living room are boxed up toys and then rotated every few months. When the kids outgrow a toy put it out on Freecycle so some other kid can enjoy it. Is it working, not so well, you see Christmas is coming and we have a large box in the basement that has been slowly filling up all year with toys for Christmas. We just went from buying toys and giving them to the kids right away to “buying them for Christmas”. It is hard to say “No” to your kids or walk past a great toy sale when you are battling your own demons from childhood. It is a work in progress and it is going to take sometime, like 20 years, for me to fight the impulse to give my kids what I did not have.