Friday, January 13, 2012

Discipline Help: Practice Academy

Lately, our daughter, Lily, has been going through a really challenging phase.  It is typical for children between the ages of 7 and 9 to go through a lying phase.  Lily has begun 'stretching the truth' and is also disobeying me on occasion.  Since this is a heart issue, and an issue of character, we have had the same lecture that we gave to our older children regarding telling the truth.  We have always made it a point to teach our children about how our behavior should honor God.  We tell them that God's Word teaches us that lying is a sin.  Practically speaking, being dishonest may put us in danger later, as their daddy and I cannot believe their words when they lie.  While this phase may be typical for her age, it is not a given that she will outgrow lying.  At this stage in her development, we must hold her to the standard of honesty and integrity.  We call her out when she is lying.

Likewise, her disobedience is not just a character issue, but a dangerous liability.  This past summer, our church hosted Pastor Peter Ajemo from Suba, Kenya.  Pastor Peter told the story of how his son was about to enter their chicken coop, unaware that a 9-foot cobra was inside.  Pastor Peter was on his way to deal with the cobra, when he saw his precious child with his hand on the door to the coop.  He called out to him to stop, and he did--immediately. 

While we may not deal with literal cobras here in Texas, we certainly deal with figurative cobras all the time.  There are dangers that are just as deadly to our children.  If we allow our children to disobey us when the coast is clear, then when it is a matter of life or death, their disobedience will be deadly.  Many years ago, I was putting together a safety plan for our family in the event of an emergency like a fire or tornado.  I thought about my sweet children and wondered if they would do as I ask without questioning me in an emergency.  From that point on, I took seriously our roles in teaching our children to be obedient.

This evening, Lily did something I told her not to do.  She has been challenging me all week, and I determined to step up my game.  I decided to give her a practice academy.  I learned about practice academies last year in my Exceptional Students class.  We had a guest lecturer who was a Behavior Interventionist.  She had the most interesting ideas for changing behavior.  I learned so much, and one of the strategies that I've used in the classroom is the practice academy.  The way it works is that you have the child practice following the direction that you desire.  In Lily's case, she needs to say, "Yes, ma'am," and do what I ask.  Brian and I gave her a series of simple commands to follow:  "Go over to the counter and pick up that paper," and "Put those cups into the sink," for example.  If Lily fails to say "yes, ma'am," or "yes, sir", then she has to go back and do it all again until it becomes natural.  I've already done it twice tonight, but it didn't take as long to get the right response this evening when we did it the second time.  I'm not trying to break her spirit; I'm trying to teach her to do the right thing. 

We use a similar technique in special education, when trying to reinforce positive behavior and diminish negative behavior.  I am learning a great deal about this, and attended a day-long training through the school district specifically designed to help paraprofessionals to manage challenging behaviors.  We listened to a lecture and watched videos demonstrating techniques for encouraging our students to wait and to follow directions and that help to diminish problem behaviors like hitting, blurting out, and self-stimulation (these are behaviors that the student does which are pleasing to him or her, like rocking, flapping, chewing on things, etc.).  There is so much to learn, and the behavior interventionists that help us in the school district are so full of vital information.  I have to say that they also deal with a lot of challenging situations with grace and perseverance.  It was fascinating to me.

Next week, I begin what I hope will be my last night class for a while:  Teaching English Language Learners.  It has been strongly suggested to me that I should get my certification in English as a Second Language (ESL).  So, God willing, I will be ESL certified, as well as Special Ed. and General Ed. EC-6th grade.  It has been a lot of work so far, and while I pray that I am closer to my goal of being a full-fledged Special Education teacher, it still seems like I have a lot more to do.  I keep reminding myself that God is in control and that He has called me to this path for a purpose. 

Many blessings,


Sunday, January 8, 2012

Yard Clean-up and T-Shirt Turn-Around

The weather here in North Central Texas has been unseasonably warm.  It was a beautiful week, with temperatures in the 60's.  Sadie, our one year-old puppy miniature horse, has enjoyed the weather tremendously.  We have started calling her The Master of Destruction, as she has managed to destroy so much stuff.  Today, the kids and I spent the afternoon cleaning up the aftermath of her latest maelstrom.  My husband, Brian, put some old blankets in the dogs' houses for the winter.  Much to our chagrin, Sadie pulled one of them out into the yard and scattered the stuffing all over--in full view of the kitchen window, mind you, so that when our friends came over yesterday, they got to see Sadie's handiwork.


Last week, Jacob and I bought two apple trees at Calloway's.  We managed to get the Granny Smith in the ground before New Year's, but the Jonathan was still out back, waiting patiently for us to plant it.  So, while Matthew, Lily, and I cleaned up stuffing, limbs, electric cord, and various other things Sadie had strewn about, Jacob dug a hole in the front yard for the tree.  While I was out there, I straightened up the yard and the kids played.  I put my tools away in a safe place (from Sadie) and Matthew took down the net from around the trampoline.  In the next couple of weeks, Brian and I intend to get started on a vegetable garden for the area of the yard that is next to our kitchen.  I've picked out some fencing that I like at Home Depot that is sturdy enough to keep Sadie out.  Jacob has offered to help us build raised beds, so I am hoping to get onions and garlic out by February.  Maybe I can even manage a crop of lettuce!

In honor of Metamorphosis Monday, I'm sharing one of my sewing projects that I completed last weekend.  I discovered the joy of machine embroidery two years ago, and I especially love to take something simple and give it a little extra spice with embroidery.  I found these plain, long-sleeved t-shirts at Wal-Mart for a mere $8 each.

I have a lot of awesome embroidery designs that I've gotten from  I like the more edgy, intricate designs that they produce.  I have several lovely fleur-de-lis patterns, and I wanted to do one in colors that suggest winter.  I have some beautiful thread, and I am always looking for opportunities to use it. :)

Here is my winter-inspired fleur-de-lis:

The picture is not very clear for my other t-shirt, which is a lovely eggplant color.  What I mean to say is that the color of the picture is not true to the actual hue.  I have a design that is intricate and beautiful that I have been dying to use:

Isn't it lovely?  I love the nutmeg color in the phoenix' wings.  The nice thing about machine embroidery is that I can change the effect of the design by simply changing the colors.  So, next time, I might embroider this in an icy silver, blue, and aquamarine combination and the design will take on a completely different feel.

The only thing I'm not happy with is the placement of the phoenix.  I should have put it a little closer to the bottom hem line.  Otherwise, they turned out great, and when I wore the fleur-de-lis shirt to work the next day, I was asked to do some embroidery work for the school secretary!  Bottom line, I turned a couple of $8 t-shirts into something a little more unique and fun.

I'm going to be keeping my eyes open for more things that I can add a little panache to.  I'm already thinking of making a knit dress with some embroidery trailing down the sleeves....

Many blessings,


P.S. I'm linking to Susan's Metamorphosis Monday at