Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Autonomy of a Tickle

The topic of tickling has come up among friends recently and I'd like to get back into the swing of writing, so...

This piece was originally published as a guest post on Tales of the Kitchen Witch in December 2012.

When I was a preteen, I remember my brother tickling me to the point of crying. I'd be yelling for him to stop, begging him to stop. He would point out that I was laughing, so I must be enjoying it. I do not ever want my children (or anyone, for that matter) to be put in that position.

Babies can't even tell you they don't want to be tickled. But they are so much fun to tickle! There has to be a way to respect our babies' autonomy and still (possibly) enjoy a good tickle, right? There is! I have some suggestions for you.

The most important trick to any tickle game with a baby is anticipation. If you can give them a chance to anticipate (and to learn when to anticipate) the tickle, you give them the opportunity to object.

With Sasha, I would make tickle hands and chant "Gonna, gonna, gonna" (think Jaws music) as I got closer, then "Get you!" as I tickled her.

Sasha would also run away and back to me for more tickles.
Also? OMG Look at that chub!! I do love to fatten up my babies!

Here comes the next important tip: Short bursts of tickling. I would never tickle a child to breathlessness. It can be fun for both the tickler and the child, sure, but I want to make sure children are capable of communicating "stop" to me when they feel it necessary. It can be difficult and awkward to enforce this with other people tickling your child (even older siblings), but I really feel it is an important lesson. If any child says "stop" - that should be heard and respected. I think of this helping to prepare them for other sticky situations later in life.

Back to fun tickling! With Spencer, I hold up my thumbs and index fingers like pincers. I tap thumb and forefinger while making a "tick" sound. I do that a few times before diving my fingers to him and saying "tickle, tickle, tickle!" as I tickle him. Three "tickles" is probably long enough for one burst in the beginning. As he has gotten older (he is a ripe, old 10 months old now, after all!), he reacts to the preparation. When I hold my fingers up and make the sound, he often giggles preemptively! This lets me know that he enjoys the game!

Love to nibble your babies? Oh, I do! I love to nibble around their little, fat, ticklish necks! Find a way to help your babies anticipate the nibble. I open my mouth wide and snap it shut while making an "Om!" noise. I do this a few times before I "Nom, nom, nom!" on them. (This munching is also awesome on ribs, especially on babies that are upside down!) This is one that will surely elicit preemptive giggles if it is a game your child enjoys.

I'm sure you're familiar with This Little Piggy and Pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake, baker's man. Both of these nursery rhymes are great build-up to tickle play. They offer other learning benefits, too.

How did you feel about being tickled as a child? How do you feel about it now? Do you play tickle games with your children?

Friday, January 2, 2015

Good Things Jar

Thanks to an idea I got from Mom's Clean Air Force on Facebook through a shared post, a year ago I began a "Good Stuff Jar." The idea was to jot down any surprise gifts, accomplishments, beauty of nature noticed, LOL moments, good memories, etc. Then we would read them at the end of the year.

Momma Jorje's Good Things Jar 2014

Any project is difficult to maintain for a full year and this one didn't require a lot of attention, so it was often forgotten. Still, I did wind up with a handful and reading them with my husband on the first of this year gave us a chuckle and a reminder of some things we appreciate. I'd like to share them with you, since there aren't too many. Some of them were funny to us because they seemed great at the time, but didn't really pan out in the end...

  • Frying chicken + pork chops was a lot easier than I was making it out to be.
  • Bonus plants from Patrick (for my garden - we laughed because my garden was a bit of a failure)
  • Elmo cleaned the ENTIRE kitchen... for $25. HAHAHA (he felt underpaid)
  • Gardening + catching worms with Sasha
  • Daddy brought an OK Brown [tarantula] home from [work].
  • Found Little Leafers (a local nature explorers group that died out before it even began, when the leader suddenly had to move out of state)
  • Taste of Summer, Horse Awareness Day and Zoo - all in 1 weekend with Samantha (my stepdaughter, shortly after we gained visitation)
  • Spencer choosing the [ASL] "monkey" sign to mean "Marcus" (his Speech Therapist).
  • Cathulhu (the cat... that we immediately had to re-home when it was found that Samantha was allergic)
  • Neighbor, Brent, brought wood + tools - spent 5 hours on coop!
  • Carnival Epsilon performing in our own back yard for Tyler's Sweet 16.

  • Awesome garden tools from Angie.
  • Got to sleep with Elmo all weekend! (This would have been before the move, when I usually slept on a different floor.)
  • Horse Awareness Day (apparently warranted being mentioned twice)
  • Singing Disney songs in the van together
  • I learned how to make paper seedling pots.
  • Discovered the wonder that is spinach in scrambled eggs - new favorite! (I still eat this almost daily!)
  • Spencer learned to give hugs & made a hugging game. (Taking turns hugging people)
  • New-to-us stove deal - approved out of rent
  • Last $325 [owed] to [last place of residence] written off
  • Made Tubby Custard - Kids loved it! Sasha asked me to make it again the next day.
  • Angela chose our family to receive her free [weekly] "Meal Maker" eggs. (She later sold me our 6 hens at a great deal!)
  • [new home address] (We have been very happy to live in a house!)
  • Courtney & mom [last name] - furniture including full size bed! (They gave us furniture they had in storage.)
  • Got to be Dulce's guests to Taste of Summer (an event that includes free ice cream!)
  • Elmo figured out how to safely install new-to-us stove.

Considering how many times we forgot about the jar, that's pretty good! I'd like to continue the jar into 2015, but I think I'll add one detail - a date. I think it will be cool to be able to put them in order, remember when things happened and maybe even match them up with pictures at the end of the year! This was a really fun thankfulness project and I would definitely recommend it.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Mamatography 2014 - Week 50

In memory of Norman Bridwell, author who created Clifford the Big Red Dog, who passed away this morning at age 86. My kids have all loved Clifford.

Day 341 - Sunday - December 7

Foam Number Tiles
Picked up these foam number tiles for free.
I plan to use them for flooring in the playhouse.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Mamatography 2014 - Week 49

Day 334 - Sunday - November 30

Headed out to see the chickens.
And they're gathering up to see him, hoping for treats!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Giftmas Ideas for Kids

Welcome to the December 2014 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Greatest Gifts

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have suggested go-to gifts and gifting experiences for the holiday season for all your loved ones.

While experiential gifts and memberships are the go-to gift suggestion for all people green, sometimes a grandparent (or friend, etc) wants to give a child an actual item that they can enjoy right that minute. I have some ideas for you... Music. Sounds simple, right? This past year, Spencer has become a huge fan of Patty Shukla. It started with searching for some of his favorite action songs (Itsy Bitsy Spider, anyone?). It has actually grown from there.

Patty teaches a Mommy & Me Music Class, so she has plenty of classic songs that include finger puppets or other actions. There are songs with which you grew up, too. You know the ones! She also has some original songs that get you (your whole family) moving!

Its impossible to narrow it down to a single favorite, but here is one of our top pics:

Spencer has the Wiggle It! DVD which also includes Choo Choo Train, She'll Be Coming Around the Mountain, 5 Little Penguins, Looby Loo, Row, Row, Row Your Boat, Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, Bingo, Shapes, ABC (Upper Case), Farmer in the Dell, Mary Had a Little Lamb, I Like Fruit, Textures, and ABC (Lower Case).

Here's another crazy-active favorite song around here:

We also have the Musical PE for You & ME! DVD (Volume 1). It includes videos for 13 of Patty's most popular songs from 2 CDs (Play with me, Sing Along! and Roar Like a Lion!) These songs get all of us moving, roaring and laughing together every time.

Patty Shukla has a lovely family (often featured in her videos) and offers videos that teach kids Left / Right as well as Sign Language. I think her CD and DVD prices are very reasonable, making them a great gift idea and/or stocking stuffer! She also has free apps, by the way! And now offers a workbook, too. If you just really need to put something on the screen for the kids so you can have some time to get something done - why not make it something that's going to keep them moving instead of melt them into the couch?

We love Patty and can (and do) listen to her songs over and over again!

Lest you think we're only about Patty, I'd also like to share another artist behind kids' music with you. This song is a favorite for singing along, but is a nice calming song and is even on my bedtime playlist for the kids:

Tom Knight has several CDs out, too. We're only familiar with this one song, but would love to hear more. I'm definitely going to research more songs from him to add to our playlists!

I've got one more I'd like to mention. We found Monty Harper at our own local city/county library Summer Reading Program about a decade ago! He writes Children's songs, but also teaches workshops for kids on how to write their own songs! His music matched the themes for the SRPs that were used at most libraries across the country each year for a while. We enjoyed his silly, fun songs so much I did some work with him, trying to get the word out to more libraries. Here is a silly song from Monty:

Monty is trying to raise funds to record a new science CD. He is selling signed CDs and Holiday / Birthday Gift Packs to help fund this project. I highly recommend The Great Green Squishy Mean Concert CD. I haven't even heard Songs From the Science Frontier, but apparently it has remained his best selling title by far since its release in 2010!

Long story short here, if you buy items from Monty, everyone wins! You can support future projects as well as enjoying some inspiring, educational music!

I generally love to support these kinds of artists. They have kids (at least I know Patty and Monty do) themselves and write fun music. Do you have any favorites like this in your household? I'd love to hear them so we can broaden our own play lists!

Disclosure: I received free DVDs from Patty Shukla for review purposes.
None of these links are affiliate links. They only support the artists.
I try to seek out only products I think you would find relevant and useful.
If I don't like a product, I won't recommend it.

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

  • Natural parent's baby shower registry — Since she had everything already for baby #3, Lauren at Hobo Mama is amusing herself by building a list of essentials and a few fun fripperies for a natural-parenting nursery.
  • Gifts of love — Charlie at PeelingClementines recalls her favourite Christmas gift of all time and thinks about how to add this magic to her little one's first Christmas.
  • The Gift of Letting Go — Dionna at Code Name: Mama has discovered that when you're a perfectionist, sometimes the best gift is simply releasing yourself from self-imposed expectations.
  • Montessori Inspired Gifts for Babies and Toddlers — Rachel at Bread and Roses shares gift ideas that were a hit with her son last year and what's on her wishlist for this year.
  • Giftmas Ideas for KidsMomma Jorje offers an original gift idea that hasn't been overdone and is good for the kids!
  • Favorite CDs for Babies and Toddlers {Gift Guide} — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares her family's favorite CDs for babies and toddlers, some of which were favorites of her children and are now favorites of her granddaughter.
  • The Birthday Turned Christmas Wish ListThat Mama Gretchen forgot to share her birthday wish list this fall, but she's still wishin' and hopin' a present or two will arrive for Christmas!
  • 8 Thoughtful Non-Toy Gifts for Baby — Is your family asking for hints for presents to give baby? Moorea, guest posting at Natural Parents Network, offers this list of ideas that won't overwhelm your little one with toys.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Put your boots out: It's Nikolaustag!

Every year, Hobo Mama posts about her family's St Nicholas Day celebations after the fact. I kept suggesting it would be better if she could remind us all beforehand so we could join in! Last year she did it, just for me!! We didn't get much notice, but we got a little. This year, I'm republishing her post (with permission) as a guest post and with more notice!

So: Let this be your reminder! Put your boots out December 5th and Saint Nicholas might just stop by to tuck some shiny little goodies inside!

(Unless you've been naughty, of course. Then all bets are off.)

Since we speak some German at home, we like to learn about the culture as well. That's why we celebrate Nikolaustag, or St. Nicholas Day, each year.

Because the feast day of Saint Nicholas is December 6, empty boots (Nikolausstiefel) generally go outside the door the night of December 5, the eve of Nikolaustag (Nikolausabend).

Put your boots out: It's Nikolaustag! == Hobo Mama

Nikolaus is sometimes accompanied by a servant named Knecht Ruprecht, who hauls the bag and does some of the work of sussing out whether children deserve gifts or chastising. In some regions, children are literally quizzed or asked to perform some religious feat. Since we skip the whole naughty-or-nice bit with Santa, too, we just assume boots are going to be filled.

Put your boots out: It's Nikolaustag! == Hobo Mama

And they always are!

Put your boots out: It's Nikolaustag! == Hobo Mama

When I lived in Berlin in junior high, I always spent the night before Nikolaustag with a German friend and her family. Her mom did Nikolaustag up right! Just as we do here, they lived in a unit in a larger building so our boots (or shoes) just went in the hallway instead of outside — but Nikolaus always found us, anyway.

Put your boots out: It's Nikolaustag! == Hobo Mama

Usual gifts are fruit, cookies, nuts, candies, and little trinkets — much like a stocking. Kids are theoretically supposed to shine their boots first, but fire boots don't shine very well. You can also leave a carrot for Nikolaus' horse, but how would a horse get up our stairs?

Put your boots out: It's Nikolaustag! == Hobo Mama

When we can't locate boots, we go with shoes. Nikolaus is cool with that.

Put your boots out: It's Nikolaustag! == Hobo Mama

I love looking back at Alrik's baldie-mullet phase. I bet even at 2 years old, he will be thrilled to receive toothbrushes, an orange, and string cheese. Easy-peasy.

Put your boots out: It's Nikolaustag! == Hobo Mama
Photo by Richard Huber

Here's what a traditional Nikolaus looks like — a bishop, you see, same as the original Nikolaos. He's tall and thin with a white beard. This fourth-century Greek saint is the basis for various St. Nicholas celebrations around the world as well as the branching out into Good Ol' St. Nick:

He had a reputation for secret gift-giving, such as putting coins in the shoes of those who left them out for him, and thus became the model for Santa Claus, whose modern name comes from the Dutch Sinterklaas, itself from a series of elisions and corruptions of the transliteration of "Saint Nikolaos." {Wikipedia}

I think St. Nicholas Day is a nice time to remind kids to be secret Santas themselves — looking for little ways they can give at this season and the rest of the year, too. Maybe they could leave a little gift for a sibling or do someone else's chore without being asked. You could choose a giving tree or other charity in your town to brighten up someone's Christmas. You could prettily bag some clementines for friends to leave at their door, ring the bell, and run. You could choose a far-off loved one to receive a surprise care package. I was thinking a nice Nikolaus twist for us would be to make and leave goodies and an explanatory note at our neighbors' doors — even if they forgot to put their boots out!

For some extra fun, you could incorporate some other activities into your celebration:

Put your boots out: It's Nikolaustag! == Hobo Mama

Nikolaustag is fun and cultural. Give it a try with your kids this year!

Lauren blogs at Hobo Mama about naturalHobo Mama and attachment parenting and is the co-founder of Natural Parents Network. She lives and writes near the beach with her husband, Sam, and their sons: seven-year-old Mikko, three-year-old Alrik, and newborn Karsten. Lauren happily shares her knowledge of German customs and language with all three.

This post originally appeared on Hobo Mama.
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