Get The Behavior You Want…{Review}

51WlU9RnZLL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_I totally never read parenting books.

Ok that is a lie. I read What to Expect When You’re Expecting cover to cover when I was pregnant with Eddie. It was like my Bible.  And then his birth and everything was absolutely nothing like what I was told to “expect” and I chucked that book. I also bought a book about sleep training when Eddie was a baby who wouldn’t sleep (because colic and crazy baby!) and I wanted to stab the author, so I chucked that book too.

And then I stopped reading parenting books.

I may have parenting book PTSD. Whatever.

I do, however, love my friends with medical/nursing degrees. I try not to abuse our relationship by constantly texting or messaging them about ailments I or my family members may have. I’d like to publicly thank them and apologize to them for the pictures I’ve sent of rashes and/or the gross descriptions I have typed out.

Anyway, one of these friends happens to be the internet-famous Dr G. I call her Debi, but she Dr. Deborah Gilboa, MD. to you, and she wrote a book called Get the Behavior You Want…Without Being the Parent You HateAnd I read it…and LIKED it.

Even though I have little kids, I read the parts about tweens and teens too because, well, my boys WILL be that age someday. But really, more immediately, my students are that age. Since I have never taught 13-year olds before, I want to try to understand them a little better. No, I am not their parent, but man a LOT of my day revolves around behavior.

The book is set up to be extremely user-friendly. There are four major parts: one on respect, one on responsibility, one on resilience, and one on implementing the changes. In each of those sections there are numerous short, easy to read, chapters.  It is the complete opposite of daunting. In fact, when reading a book by an MD, the reader usually expects some jargon or medical terms to be thrown at them. Dr. G keeps it very simple and easy to understand. It’s much more like chatting with a friend than talking with a doctor. Yet at the same time, she keeps it very professional and because of her credentials, you know she can be trusted and relied on to give good advice.

One of my favorite sections was the one on resilience. We have had a lot of death in our lives and we have always been as honest as we can with Eddie (and now Charlie) about it. Some people have questioned why I would tell a 5-year old that his Papa died of cancer, but ever since he was small we talked about how Papa lived in heaven, then that he had died, and now that he died because of cancer. As he gets older and asks questions, we answer them as honestly and simply as we can.  This chapter reinforced how important it is for our kids to experience failure, grief, and loss.  It TOTALLY sucks, but it’s a part of life and if they can learn to be resilient from early on, they will probably be better at coping, and hopefully more empathetic to other people, as they get older.

There are a million tips and wise words I could share that I have underlined or marked, but really, you should read the book. If you are a parent, it’s a must-read, but I think even if you don’t have your own kids, but are a childcare provider, teacher, aunt, uncle, grandparent, etc. it’s a good book to have on hand.

The main message is right there in the title: you don’t have to be a giant jerk of a parent to have kind, well-adjusted kids. You don’t have to yell and lose your mind to have your kids behave.

on cloud b

When Eddie was smaller and before we had Netflix, he was very into every commercial that had an “order now” at the end of it.

“I want that!” was frequently heard around our house. When he started earning quarters for the extra chores he does around the house, he even stated that he was saving for one of those Stuff It things that you can supposedly clean up your whole room with and it will look like a fluffy animal when you’re done.

Right.

But the thing he was obsessed with the most was this blue turtle that lit up and played music. He wanted that thing so badly, but he already had a humidifier that had a little light “show” and we weren’t going to just buy him a new thing.

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Then, just a month or so ago cloud b, the makers of the turtle that Eddie had wanted years ago, contacted me about trying out one of their products for our nursery.  Of COURSE I chose the Tranquil Turtle. I knew Eddie would probably be too old, but he might remember how he wanted it.

When the package arrived, Eddie did not let me down. He took it out of the box and exclaimed, “MOM! Remember how I always wanted one of these?? Is this for the new baby??”

I told him yes, but that we should probably try it out for the new baby and would he like to have it in his room to see how it works. I wanted to give him first dibs since he was so in love with it.

“Nah. I’m too big for it and I already have a night light. Maybe Charlie would like to try it out.”

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Eddie sure does know his brother.

When Charlie got home from daycare that day, the boys took the new turtle into the dark bathroom and played with the lights that make it look like the entire room is underwater. They were mesmerized.

That night we put the turtle in Charlie’s room (the current nursery), and turned it on. After books, he said what he always says, “I lay in my bed, you sit here (the rocking chair).” While he shuffled around getting comfy in his crib, I rocked and waited like I always do. After he settled in, I left the room.

The lovely thing about the Tranquil Turtle is that it turns itself off after 24 minutes.

The horrible thing about the Tranquil Turtle is that it turns itself off after 24 minutes.

I had just settled onto the couch with a pile of jelly bellies and a book, when Charlie started crying.  What the heck? He never cried out after putting him to bed.  When I walked in he was lying there pointing at the turtle, which had turned itself off.

“MINE TUTTLE IS BROKEN!”

So I turned it back on, and that was that. He went to sleep.

Every night, if it turns off before he falls asleep he will let us know.  If he wakes up early in the morning and can’t fall back to sleep, he will walk into our room holding his turtle.

To say he loves it is a bit of an understatement. In fact, when he moves out of the nursery and the baby moves in, I’m not sure he’ll be able to give up the turtle so easily…if at all.

The good thing is cloud b has lots of other great nursery options, so we may be doing some shopping before March.

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Disclaimer: I was not compensated for this post. Cloud b sent me the Tranquil Turtle to try out, but the opinions here are all my own. Well, and Eddie and Charlie’s.

soccer season

Before we had kids, Cortney and I talked about how we would absolutely not push them into a sport or activity that they did not want to do. Yes, Cortney played soccer and I was a band nerd, but we weren’t going to make our kids do those things. We wanted them to follow their own passions and interests.

Of course, I know that both of us always hoped we would have at least one of our children interested in the things we were. I am holding out for at least one band geek–especially a brass player–so when Eddie tells me maybe he would like to play the tuba some day, I am encouraging, but not overly so. I don’t want him to think I will be horribly disappointed if he chooses a woodwind (shudder) or choir (bigger shudder).

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Eddie at 7 months.

It has never been a secret that Cortney hopes for a soccer player.

Cort played since he was very little and all the way through high school. He did some adult leagues before we were married and is hoping to get back into some this year or next.

And Eddie has been wearing little soccer warm-up suits since he was tiny.

He always picked the soccer ball out of the pile.

He always picked the soccer ball out of the pile.

Even though I think he would have hoped for a soccer player with a girl too, I know as soon as we found out Eddie was a boy, Cortney began to think about the day he would help his little guy lace up his first pair of cleats.

He knew this would be a way he could connect and build a relationship with his boy.  Not that he wouldn’t love and support any activity Eddie wanted to do, but this one was special to him.

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Cort even admitted a little jealousy because he never had cleats this awesome.

I was never athletic. I didn’t play any sports. While I was looking forward to Eddie playing soccer because he was excited about it, the Saturday morning games weren’t exactly what I would choose to do. But then I went to his first game.  And not only did I get to watch him be part of a team and love it, I got to hear Cortney cheer for his boy.

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I will admit that Eddie is entertaining to watch because not only does he do a good job (most of the time), but when he does super well–like the goal he scored this past week–he will dance and give the crowd some laughs. I have NO IDEA where he gets that part of his personality.

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Right now he plays for the fun of it. He has some natural talent which we encourage, but if next fall comes around and he doesn’t want to play again, we are not going to make him.

He’s already talking about doing Tball in the spring, which we will sign him up for soon.

But for another two weeks it’s soccer season.

It’s hard to believe my tiny guy who liked to roll the plush soccer ball back and forth is finally a big kid who wears shin guards and cleats.  Gone are his chubby dimple hands and feet. They have been replaced by long, lanky arms and legs with kid feet (that stink like kid feet after a game…PU!).

Sports are just another reminder that my boys are growing up. But it’s good. It’s something we have been dreaming about for five years and now we get to see it happening in action.

At least we have a few more years before this one chooses a fall sport.

At least we have a few more years before this one chooses a fall sport.

Whether this is our first soccer season of many or just a one and done sport, it doesn’t matter.  We are helping the boys find what they love to do. And that is most important of all.

 

Netflix Equals Family Night

 

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We have been outrageously busy since school started. Most week days involve us all flying out the door well before 7am, with Eddie and I getting home around 4pm and Cortney and Charlie getting home around 5pm. By that time I’m making dinner, Cortney is wrangling boys to get them ready for dinner, and then we are eating dinner.  Next comes baths and jammies. Before we know it we are settling down to watch a couple episodes of Curious George and then it’s off to bed.

Boys out by 8pm and I’m not usually far behind.

Which means all of our “family time” is a rushed battle of “put this on” and “eat this” and “wash up” and “for the love of all things, keep your hands and feet off your brother!”

These two are usually trying to kill each other in the 30 minutes between Charlie getting home and dinner being served.

These two are usually trying to kill each other in the 30 minutes between Charlie getting home and dinner being served.

Weekends have not been any better.

Friday nights have had soccer practice for Eddie with a game Saturday morning. We are rushing here and there constantly.

The theme Netflix sent us Stream Team members this month was about a family pizza and movie night. I thought it sounded like a fabulous idea!  Just what we needed!

And now here we are with just a few days left in September and we haven’t done it yet. So this past Friday night, I said enough. Eddie was supposed to have soccer practice at 6pm. But he was tired and sick of the week. We needed a break.

So we ordered up a pizza and sat together as a family who didn’t have anything pressing to get to.  It was Friday night, and we could all take a collective breath. AND I didn’t have to cook. Bonus.

Saturday after his game, Eddie and I sat down to watch some new episodes of Turbo Fast on Netflix. It was the perfect way to relax while Charlie napped and Cortney mowed the lawn. I may have even dozed off when Eddie started watching the new Clone Wars episodes.

It was a fabulous weekend. One we very much needed.

Thank you Netflix, for the inspiration to slow down and enjoy each other (and some fun shows)!

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Project 365 {week 39}

I’m on time with this post!

I am also fueled by like a pound of sour jelly bellies.

what?

I also didn’t take a single picture for the first half of the week.

It was busy!

But I caught some stuff from the second half.

(Sunday the 21st-Tuesday the 23rd do not exist in photos)

September 24: chocolate from a bloggy friend while reading a bloggy friend's book after eating a meal made from a recipe by a bloggy friend.

September 24: chocolate from a bloggy friend while reading a bloggy friend’s book after eating a meal made from a recipe by a bloggy friend.

September 25: made a new visual objective board for my classroom. See? This picture is boring. It's why I don't take more pictures of working. It is dull to everyone but me.

September 25: made a new visual objective board for my classroom. See? This picture is boring. It’s why I don’t take more pictures of working. It is dull to everyone but me.

September 26: Came home to a big shipment of books for my classroom library thanks to a VERY generous donor!

September 26: Came home to a big shipment of books for my classroom library thanks to a VERY generous donor!

September 27: This foot kicked its first soccer goal...and came home and did some sweet sidewalk painting. Because it was 80 degrees. Boom.

September 27: This foot kicked its first soccer goal…and came home and did some sweet sidewalk painting. Because it was 80 degrees. Boom.

It was a pretty good week.

This week I have some actual blog posts for you too!

I get to share about stuff I love and that is working great for my family…

I have my 16 week OB appointment…

and if I am feeling up to it, I have some other things that I might finish and publish.

Good times.

Busy times, but good times.

Project 365 {week 38}

Arghhhh!!!

Why can’t I do these posts ON TIME?

And why do I forget to take a “picture a day”?

That is the dang point of DOING Project 365.

Sigh. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that I am documenting what we do each day.

It’s fun to look back on all the years I’ve been doing it (I think five now? maybe?) and watch us grow and change.

So…this is what I have of week 38…

Sept 14: I discover that my aversion to coffee is GONE!  The angels may have sang. Also pumpkin spice latte.

Sept 14: I discover that my aversion to coffee is GONE! The angels may have sang. Also pumpkin spice latte.

September 15: A rare moment of calm between these two. Since they don't see each other all day, there is major ruckus that goes on each evening.

September 15: A rare moment of calm between these two. Since they don’t see each other all day, there is major ruckus that goes on each evening.

Let’s see…Sept 16 and 17 were just busy days.

School and such.

Oh, Charlie had his 30-month well-child and took his shots like a champ.

And he’s still 75% for height and 85% for weight. That may seem big, but compared to Eddie being always off the charts? He’s still our little Bird.

September 18: The weather started to get cooler, so I made something new that I found on Pinterest: chili mac n cheese.  WIN!

September 18: The weather started to get cooler, so I made something new that I found on Pinterest: chili mac n cheese. WIN!

September 19: Ugg. This day did not go well. At least it was a Friday and I would get some sort of break for a few days.

September 19: Ugg. This day did not go well. At least it was a Friday and I would get some sort of break for a few days.

September 20: I spent all day in Lansing working on Common Core stuff, but this little guy gave me great cuddles after his bath that evening. New week coming up!

September 20: I spent all day in Lansing working on Common Core stuff, but this little guy gave me great cuddles after his bath that evening. New week coming up!

It’s been hard to keep up with life lately.

So much comes home with Eddie and he is a non-stop chatter box with all he is learning (yay)!

There are also lunches to pack, cuddles to get, and quizzes to grade.

There is soccer and church and keeping up with work.

It’s a lot.

Something had to be put on the back burner, and I’m afraid it’s my writing/blogging.

But that is the season right now, ya know?

The Trouble with Kindergarten

Being away from each other all day is not new. Since he was three months old, Eddie has been in someone else’s care other than mine.

Yet I miss him more this year than I ever have.

Kindergarten is way tougher on me and him than I thought it would be. Way.

I think about him all day. I pray for him all night. I wring my hands.

This isn’t how I thought it was going to be.  I figured he would have an adjustment period. In fact, I knew that even though he was used to be gone all day and used to being busy, it would still be a big change. He would have to make new friends and learn a new routine and get used to a new set of rules and expectations.

But I had all the confidence in the world that he would be just fine. He would thrive. He would struggle with being tired, but he would make friends quickly. He’s a natural leader and so kind to everyone.

I wasn’t wrong about his kindness and ability to make friends.

I wasn’t wrong about being confident.

I didn’t expect the tummy-aches and the worrying from him.

Every day at pick up he tells me he had a great day, and he proceeds to talk my ear off the entire ride home. Every night at bedtime he confesses he doesn’t want to go to school in the morning, and he proceeds to cry out his fears and anxieties.

He is going through the adjustment period that I knew he would. This is all normal stuff. I thought I was prepared.

But I didn’t realize how much it would all hurt my heart.

Published…Again

Today is super exciting…even for a Monday!

In the spring, I was excited to announce that I was published in an anthology of essays, art, and poetry about child loss called Three Minus One: Stories of Parents’ Love and Loss.

Today another anthology is being released that I am blessed to be published in: My Other Ex: Women’s True Stories of Losing and Leaving Friends.

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don’t mind the post-Sunday-afternoon-nap face I have going on here.

I got my own copy just this past week and I as flip through all of the stories, I can’t help but feel honored to be included besides such fabulous writers.

But as I read over my words, I can’t help feeling a sadness. Because I am still struggling to find the balance in my life that nurturing and maintaining friendships require. I read a viral article online recently about how it doesn’t matter how you feel about your friends if you never show it.  It hit home for me because I realize that is my biggest struggle.

I think about my friends and pray for them daily. But they can’t know that if I don’t tell them or show them.

That is what my essay is about.  It’s about this crazy season of life I am in that has me armpit deep in my own children and in my job and it {unfortunately} pushes my friendships to the outside of my life.  And I can’t blame some of those friends for packing up and leaving.

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The stories in this book are so diverse, and you would be hard-pressed not to find one that resonates with you. I encourage you to get the book–and not just because my words are in there, but that IS a bonus–but because I think it’s a great read for all women.  Because we have all lost friendships.

Project 365 {week 37}

So this summer I forgot to take pictures every day because the first trimester had me couch-bound and nauseous.

This week I forgot a few days because ZOMG BUSY!

For instance I didn’t take a picture on Sunday, September 7. Which is dumb because we had an awesome outdoor church service followed by a church picnic after.  But you know, running after two kids.

September 8: Massive traffic back up that puts me 30 minutes behind schedule and almost late for work. Mondays, man.

September 8: Massive traffic back up that puts me 30 minutes behind schedule and almost late for work. Mondays, man.

September 9: The Reading Workshop has launched! Now to start conferencing with students about their reading.

September 9: The Reading Workshop has launched! Now to start conferencing with students about their reading.

September 10: Found a full-length mirror at school so you can all see that I am already showing at 13 and a half weeks. Gulp.

September 10: Found a full-length mirror at school so you can all see that I am already showing at 13 and a half weeks. Gulp.

September 11: running here and there and everywhere.

September 12: I love my job because I love my students.

September 12: I love my job because I love my students.

September 13: Eddie's first soccer game!

September 13: Eddie’s first soccer game!

We also got some fall weather (FINALLY) in Michigan which means I didn’t have to sweat in my non-AC classroom every day this week.

Also I realized today that my coffee aversion has passed. YAY!

Tell me some good things about YOUR week!

Launching the Reader’s Workshop

Last school year I had a vision: I wanted every one of my seniors to read a book.  I wanted them to have choice. I wanted a classroom library. I wanted to incorporate a reader’s workshop into my curriculum.

I started in April and with the help of you and a grant from The Book Love Foundation, I have been able to increase my library from a measly 104 books to almost 600 books with more on the way. I have an online check-out system for students that has every title in it. I have labeled every book with my name and stamped it with a “property of Sluiter Nation” stamp. I’ve sorted each book into a category so students can “shop” by interest (fantasy, sci-fi, sports, life in high school, etc) when they are looking for something to read.

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We started school with a week of procedures and figuring out where our starting point was. Students took their first SRI (Scholastic Reading Inventory) Test of the year. I had them record these scores.

We talked about goals and increasing SRI scores and reading stamina. I gave them a tour of my classroom library and its categories.  I did book talks of some of my favorite things to read that are available to them in the classroom library.

And this week, I turned my 134 eighth and ninth graders loose to check out books.

It was exhilarating.

Each hour, students crowded the back of my room searching for the book that they wouldn’t hate. Some searching for a particular author or series.

I kept track of requests for authors, titles, and subjects that I didn’t have. I started wait lists for books that were checked out early in the day, but had lots of requests.

By the end of book check out day, I had six pages of book check outs that I had to enter into my book check out program on my computer.  It was the best kind of overwhelm.

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Today (Tuesday) students calculated their reading rate: how many pages they could read per hour (by counting how many pages we could comfortably read in 10 minutes and multiplying by 6). When the 10 minutes were up, many students were complaining that they wanted to read longer because they had just gotten into their books.

My usually chatty junior high classes were silently immersed in books. Almost every student. I only had to take three kids aside out of 134 and discuss being respectful to our sacred reading time. Three.

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We have a long road ahead, but this week was the start. Kids are reading. All the books I’ve lovingly collected and organized are out there.

I really can’t wait to get a groove, learn what works and what doesn’t, and see kids discover reading. Some kids are doubtful and I can tell who will be my “project kids”; but some…oh…some.  They are on fire about this.

That is what keeps me fired up too.

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