Parenting the Tweens

It’s been ten years since I’ve had a tween.  My first two tweens were boys.  I think the greatest challenge might have been keeping them in pants that were long enough and shoes that still fit.




Helloooo….10 year old little girl!  Wow.  The mood swings, the crying, the drama.   It is not for the faint of heart.  What happened to my kind, caring, cuddly little girl?  She does show up every now and then but you can’t be certain when those times will be.  The hormonal version shows up suddenly and without warning.  She might jump into a board game, hop into the backseat, or reveal herself in the middle of a math problem.  There are a few things that calm her a bit.  Sometimes food settles her.  A hot bath can help.  Usually it’s only sleep that makes her flee.

She can certainly cause turmoil in what was a normal day.  She blows in like a hurricane and exits behind a locked door.  To everyone’s relief, “she” usually doesn’t hang around for an entire day and the loving, kind version of her returns.

Sometimes it is a challenge to accept this phase for what it is.  A phase.  This, too, shall pass.

But what to do?  Are these years simply to be survived?  Should we just buckle up and hang on, hoping that this is similar to a roller coaster ride that we will soon step away from, still intact?

Working with middle school students for so many years as a teacher has given me a little bit of insight.  Strangely enough, I’ve had to remember how I dealt with other people’s tumultuous children in order to deal with my own.

It is good to remember these things (preaching to me here):

  1. As much as it upsets the household for out of control tween girl to enter the scene, it upsets that little growing girl more.  Having mood swings and dealing with such confusing thoughts and emotions is a tough job.  It’s tiring for everyone involved.
  2. It is a confusing time.  Yesterday she was playing with Barbie dolls and today she’s noticing underarm hair.  She’s in this body that’s changing and it’s hard to know exactly where all of those things fit into “who” she is.
  3. Remind her of her worth.  We haven’t reached the acne and oily skin phase yet but I know that it’s coming.  My husband has done a great job of always reminding the kids that their most beautiful feature is their heart.  That might be tough for her to remember when she glances in the mirror but plant those seeds anyway. Daily.
  4. Cheer her on.  Sometimes you can’t cheer her up.  You just can’t.  If I’ve learned one thing in parenting (or in any other relationship), it is that you can’t make other people happy.  Encourage her through the rough patches and tell her that soon enough, she’ll come out on the other side of this stronger and more capable.
  5.  Teach her.  In my opinion, one of the most uncertain times of a girl’s life is when she just doesn’t know what or how to do something.  It is hard to be the person who “just doesn’t know.”  Don’t let her find out about how her body will change during PE or gym class.  Spend some time talking with her about it.  Hopefully, she fully trusts you to have her best interest at heart.  If you don’t have that bond already, it is not too late.  Start talking. If she wants to know how to do something like shave her legs, don’t let her be the bandaid wearing girl who butchered her knees.  Show her.  Not in a big deal, weirded out kind of way but in a simple, lighthearted way. This helps it not to feel so awkward.

I know that I could go on with this list.  There is so much that I still don’t know and that I’m learning.  Mostly learning by doing it wrong and then trying to fix it.   🙂

As always, I’m a work in progress.

What about you?  How are you making these transition years   tolerable   wonderful?

 

 

DIY Birthday Cakes for Your Kids

I love a good DIY project and decorating cakes is a hobby that makes me happy so putting those together is fun for me!




About half way through the mess of baking, I tend to remember that Costco and Sam’s both sell 1/2 sheet cakes for less than $20.

But, alas, my kids like for me to bake and decorate their birthday cakes and that makes me happy.  It is a labor of love and actually quite fun to see their ideas come to life!  The delight that they get from them is worth every minute.  They really are truly excited and appreciative.

For this year, my twins asked for two totally different cake styles.  Apparently when you turn eight, it is no longer cool to share a theme.  My cat lover wanted a cake with “tangled up cats.”  My horse lover wanted a pasture scene with horses.

Although I have an excellent home made white cake recipe, I went straight to Wal-Mart to aisle 9 and picked up my favorite boxed white cake mix.  You just cannot go wrong with this one!

For the chocolate cake, I used this devil’s food mix.  I am not a chocolate lover but apparently it is yummy.

I only have one set of round pans and one rectangular cake pan, so I helped the girls to decide that is just what we needed to have the perfect cakes.  The power of persuasion was strong.

So, after a morning of baking, cooking, and leveling the cakes, we were ready!

I used a basic Wilton frosting recipe for the white cake and this chocolate buttercream recipe for the other.  It is the best chocolate one that I’ve tried.   Yummm!

My cat lover is also a foodie.  She loved the strawberry cream cheese filling that I had used on her daddy’s birthday cake so she requested it for her own.  It is really, really good and takes a cake from basic to amazing.

I let the girls choose a set of Toobs to use for the figures on their cakes.  This was like a little gift before the birthday and they put A LOT of thought into just which ones to get.

You really can’t go wrong with “tangled up cats.”  This was super easy to decorate. To make the yarn balls, I covered a bouncy ball and a marble with icing.  This worked well but kept me on my toes at the party to make sure that they got removed before becoming a choking hazard!

It was a bit more fun to decorate the horse cake.  I would have really liked to add a fence  (my idea was to use pretzels and icing) but she insisted that her horses were free roaming. 😉

Overall, we had a really good time with these. It was worth the effort and I felt a bit like superwoman as they oooohed and aaahhhed over the results!

They are already planning for next year!

 

 

 

 

 

6 Habits I’m Working On Mastering

3 weeks.




21 days.

That’s how long someone once said that it takes to form a habit.

Studies have now been done that show it takes somewhere more like 2-8 months, depending on the habit.   Nothing miraculous is going to happen at day 21 that is life changing.

Either way, you can’t get started doing good things and making positive changes unless you start with day ONE so….

Here are some things that I’m working on right now.  Some of them I should have been doing all the time (ahem…. #1) but I’m a work in progress in every area of my life.

#1 Making the bed.

I feel so accomplished when my bed is made before I leave the room.  I also think that I sleep better in a bed that is nice and straight.

Before I quit working full time, I had to leave for work about 6:30 a.m. and I just couldn’t seem to get this little task done before heading out the door.  Now that I’m doing it, I realize it actually only takes about two minutes.  Sigh.

#2 Drinking more water.

I have a 30 oz cup and I try to fill it three times throughout the day.  I am trying to adjust to drinking plain water but I do prefer a flavor packet or lemon added.  My search now is to find a flavor packet that does not contain aspartame.

#3 Walking more.

I am trying to walk at least 7,000 steps a day.  For some of you, that may seem like nothing. For others, it may seem like a lot.  I encourage you to track your steps for a while just to see where you are measuring in your daily steps.  I had a Fitbit but it was lost in the flood.  I have recently bought a cheap knock off and it has worked just as well.

My husband and I also walk a mile a day using one of the Leslie Sansone videos that is available through you tube.  We started with this slow one and now prefer this one by her walking partner, Nick.

I prefer walking outside when the weather cooperates.  A little pavement therapy always lifts my spirit!

#4 Being positive.

I am working, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to take my thoughts captive.  I am prone to worry but I am so thankful to say that I have been able to remove much of that anxiety from my life.

I’ve also had to make some changes in who I choose to engage in long conversations.  Some people are just more likely to pass worry on to me.  I have been convicted that worry is a sin and I am thankful that I have made some progress in that area.

#5  Cutting out Processed Foods.

I know. I know.  It’s the latest trend and the food pyramid is deceptive. Everyone is counting carbs.  That being said, I do feel much better when I cut out the processed food.  We are certainly not Whole 30 around here but we aren’t eating the Little Debbie cakes either.

I’ve made progress on this in a few ways.  I’m too frugal to waste money.  Enrolling in our CSA and paying for it up front forces me to cook and eat more vegetables.

#6 Saying no.

This is a new one for me and it might sound a bit pessimistic.  I mean, shouldn’t we search out opportunities and just go for them?

For the past month, we haven’t been home much during “home” schooling.  I said yes to so many things and our calendar filled quickly.  They were good things but they took time, energy, and resources that just left me feel overwhelmed.

Since recognizing this, I have tried to say no to things that don’t align with our mission.  I left the hustle and bustle two years ago with the hope of creating a calm, peaceful day.  I have to be careful not to get sucked back into the rat race mindset.

I’m always a work in progress.  I know that there are many areas in which I could improve.  Baby steps. 🙂

What about you?  Anything new that you are working into (or out of) your life?