Sunday, May 30, 2010

It's pool season!

Everyone knows that Memorial Day marks the start of "Pool Season." But for us, this is the first year that we've actually joined a pool here in DC. Before now it seemed a bit silly - we have a pool at our gym that we swim at year round, and then last year Lucy was a wee one. But this year we ventured out into the sun for the first time, and it was a huge success. The water was frigid (it is Northern Virginia after all, and the average high this time of year is only 75 degrees, but the boys jumped right in. Lucy (thankfully) had second thoughts about the cold water, but she was sporting her Minnie Mouse swimsuit, and she headed off to the kiddie pool and the little kids' play area. Kept me out of the water, so I was fine with that. Then, as our pool time was sandwiched in between nap time and bed time, we ate dinner at the pool too. Chilly little men and a little girl that was reconsidering getting in the big pool, but everyone settled and ate and enjoyed their time at the pool. All in all a good first swim at "our pool."

Saturday, May 29, 2010

I am a Free Range Mom

May 29, 2010

I am a Free Range Mom

Path_to_the_green_1A friend of mine recently started a group on Facebook that is called Free-Range Parent Society. While the group is new, the concept is not (but boy am I glad that she gave it a name!). I am a Free Range Mom, and have been since the birth of my first son. I encourage my kids to dig in the dirt, wander the yard, play in the sand, and explore their surroundings. I allow them the flexibility to learn as we go.

While this often delays us, my kids know that stopping and smelling the flowers, but also touching them, and sometimes even tasting them, is not only acceptable, but encouraged. I teach my kids to be independent, to make their own choices, and understand the consequences of those choices. I empower them to explore their world – it’s their world too after all. If that means that they are a little more dirty, come home a little late, or have to sit a little longer with a friend or sibling to work things out, then so be it.

Too often we are caught up in the day to day things to realize that our kids are growing up quickly, and that they need time to be kids, but also to explore and learn to be independent. I send my kids outside to play regularly, by themselves, and have done so since they were all pretty small. They need the freedom to explore without my watching their every step. They need to learn confidence in their choices, and know that getting dirty is part of being a kid. Being outside, away from me, helps them develop all kinds of great skills (not to mention the benefits alone of playing outside). My kids don’t need a security details when they roam. They are free to ride bikes, play soccer, visit friends, you name it. Don’t get me wrong – I’m very safety conscious. My kids wear helmets, are all in car seats, and taught basic safety as well as stranger danger rules. But I also encourage them to roam the world with their eyes open – knowing that they might encounter something unique or interesting. Instead of looking to me for support, they are examining their surroundings and stumbling on incredible things. They have learned to negotiate treaties, build bridges (literally and figuratively), deal with strangers, and deal with boredom. My children are independent, free thinkers who often wander off the path.

It was hard to take that first step towards being a Free Range Mom. I knew early on that I wasn’t a helicopter parent – far from one as a matter of fact. But I also knew that there had to be a balance between letting my kids roam free, and safety. So, I taught them what I could, empowered them to make good choices, then set them free. As they reach certain milestones, I let them do more and more on their own. Learning what your kids are capable of is part of this though – you need to maintain the safety and at the same time let them walk their own path. This particular path has led me to three well behaved, forward thinking, independent children (and a fourth that’s well on her way) that make their own choices, deal with their own consequences, but most of all are allowed to be who they want to be. Dirt, sand, rocks, adventures, friends, and sometimes tears all have a place in our house, and I hope they do in yours too.

This is an original DC Metro Moms post. Suzie also blogs at Confessions of a Not So Well Behaved Woman and shares the stories of the adventures that her kids take her on.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Phipps Family - Spring 2010

Our adventures this Spring in 30 seconds:
More pictures to come soon!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Napmeister

This boy is the MASTER of the quick nap. If there was an award to be won, Ian would win it. We drive 30 seconds away from school and he's out. We hit the road for a soccer game, and he's out. We head out for gymnastics, and he's out. His napping skills simply can't be beat. And he's not sleeping because he's totally exhausted - he gets a decent amount of sleep at night - he just needs more. He would do well if he could take an afternoon nap every day, but unfortunately school doesn't allow that to happen. Up until he was in school he took regular naps. Not regular like his older brother Max did - Max would sleep for two hours every day until he hit kindergarten. But Ian took (and still takes) cat naps. For some kids this would cause trouble a night, but he's also pretty quick to go to bed then too. Ian takes a 20-30 minute nap (and sometimes shorter), then wakes up and hops right out of the car and goes on his way. He goes from dead asleep to gymnastics in two minutes. He goes from slumped over to soccer in 90 seconds. Pretty impressive if you ask me. Nothing wrong with him - he just needs MORE sleep than other folks, and if I had his napping skills I'd be taking full advantage of them too!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

How to train your kids

Every parent's dream is to have children that pick up after themselves, do chores around the house to help out, and are generally responsible. Well, my friends, if this is your dream too, do I have a secret to share with you. If you start them young enough, and keep your expectations high, they WILL do chores, clean up after them selves, and help around the house. Ands by start early, I mean at the ripe old age of ONE. Lucy is actually almost 2 now (22 months to be precise), and she recently started helping her brothers out with their chores. She'll actually unload the dishwasher for anyone who will let her (and you know they are always telling her when it's their chore). She does a pretty decent job of it too. You tell her it's time to do the dishes and she scurries into the kitchen (actually it's closer to a full out run but she's little so it's still a scurry). She unloads what she can, puts them mostly into the right spots, and as long as someone else is grabbing the stuff she can't reach all is well. If you don't grab that stuff then you end up with dishes in weird places or silverware all in one drawer. Regardless, we started early with the boys and to this day they do chores pretty much every night. Each kiddo has three chores every night, and minus a few complaints here and there and a bit of micromanaging for a few specific chores that they've become slackers at, they do a pretty decent job. I wouldn't eat off the floor after the clean it, but hey, it's one less thing that I have to do, and they contribute to the household! So, yes, we start 'em young here. And yes, it works, and we have the track record to prove it.

Monday, May 10, 2010

BOA - You need to work on your signs

The local BOA sign is being taken over by leaves:
on the inside!

Thursday, May 06, 2010

I'm a chiropractic convert

For years I've had lower back pain and have been treated by a variety of folks, but mainly surgeons and PT's. I feel pain, go to the surgeon, he gives me a shot, then I get PT and then go about my life for a while. Then, a year, maybe two, or even three passes, and I feel pain again, go to the surgeon, get a shot, and you get the drift. Well, this time, the first time since we've moved to DC I have been referred to a chiropractor. While my mom went to one when I was younger, the thought never really crossed my mind. The surgeon always gave me my shot, the PT showed me new exercises and stretches, and the pain slowly went away. The problem with that approach was that nothing was ever fixed, and the pain would come and go in between and I had no remedy other than Advil and bed rest. Well, like I said, I'm a chiropractic convert. If I could bring my chiropractor home and feed him I would (he's already got a home and I assume he's well fed). If I could give him my firstborn I would (he's already got kids I believe). But this man relieves my pain. And the best part is that he does so whenever it hurts, without any Cortisone shots in my back (sounds worse when I put it that way, doesn't it). Now, the original problem with my back is a congenital defect and will never go away, but now when that little pain creeps up, I'm not laid out for a week writhing in pain and popping pills. It's a manageable pain. And the best part is that so far, whenever those little pains creep up, I can walk in, get an adjustment, and walk out pain free. There are times when the pain is more significant or I have to wait a day or three due to my schedule, but no more chronic pain that knocks me off my game, and no more heavy meds or shots to control the pain. Since I started going to the chiropractor seven month or so ago, I've taken Advil exactly ONCE for lower back pain. Considering I used to put the Advil executives' kids through college, that's a significant improvement. So yes, I'm a chiropractic convert and will now shout that from the rooftops to anyone that will listen.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Thinking of Mom

I've run across an old friend, been helping to organize a blood drive, and have watched the kids do some new and cool things this week and it's making me think of my mom. So, I'm sharing a few pictures from the last time the boys saw her in July of 2006, shortly before she passed away.

Mimi & Max
Mimi & Sam
Mimi & Ian
We miss you and we love you!