Dear Hensley: You’re Two Today!

Happy Birthday Hensley Ruth! You are two years old today. Two years ago we had no idea what was in store when we met your tiny 7 lb 11 oz newborn baby self. Now you are about 25 pounds and have more personality than we can handle! 

Your first complex sentence was, “Daddy, I like your g-asses (glasses)!” 
You are a real jabber box, but you’re most used phrases are sending important messages to your big brother and partner in crime. Those are “Stop It!” and “Be Quiet!” and “No THANK you.” Along with “Come get me!” and before bed it’s “God b-ess you.” and “I love you.” Besides words it’s giggles or squeals or whining. You two are very close. Sharing a room has been so fun, but Tegegne has recently been lobbying to move his bed to Fields’s room. (Hate to break it to ya buddy, but that baby dude still cries at night. Ain’t much quieter in there.)

On the days that Tegegne is in school, you are attached to my hip. You hang out with me on the counter while we bake, you often take a good morning nap, and we play with Baby Fields and sometimes Baby Hazel. You like soothing Fields with the same phrases I use. It’s so cute to catch you in a motherly moment… “Mommy’s comin’, mommy’s comin” while you pat him gently…”Shhhh, shhhh, shhhh…it’s okay.” Then there are your not-so-motherly moments where you take his pacifier, trying to somersault over him, or try to hold him when I’m not looking (in which case you are trying to be helpful but he’s nearly your size, kid.) 

Tonight we will surprise you with a cute little cake, candles, and a balloon after dinner. Your big party is Saturday with our extended family and a few friends. We are so excited to celebrate you, sweet sweet Hensley! Thanks for hamming it up round here.

Love,

Mommy

P.S. I must say, I really love it that I had a daughter. I mean my boys are wonderful too, but you and I…well, we both love shoes. (Enough said, right?) And hats and candles and chocolate and singing.  Even though I get so annoyed when you loose my earrings while getting into my jewelry…I secretly love it. I love it that I’ll pass down my favorite necklace to you. You are becoming a little girl before my eyes and I am imagining you in high school. I know there will be times you won’t wanna hang out with your dear ‘ol ma, but I’ll cherish the times you do. 

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Who Rules the Roost: Round Here

Feel Like Your Kids Are Running the Show?
One of the unfortunate parts of being a parent is that
you cannot give your children everything they want. In
addition, you must also ask the kids to do things they
don’t want to do (homework, go to bed) and to stop
doing some things they do want to do (teasing, whining).
If you are really doing your parenting job, therefore,
along with being warm, caring and supportive, you must
also frustrate your kids on a regular basis.
When you are frustrating your little ones, the children
have two choices. First, they can cooperate and tolerate
the frustration. Second, however, youngsters can
engage in what we call testing and manipulation. Testing
and manipulation are the efforts of frustrated children
to get what they want or avoid discipline by getting their
parents emotionally confused.
When trying to “press your buttons” like this, a child has a “choice” of six basic tactics.
All parents and teachers recognize the strategies we are about to describe!

The Six Basic Testing Tactics

1. Badgering: “Please, please, please, please!” or “Why, why, why?” “Just this once!
Just this once!” “Mom! Mom! Mom! Mom! Mom!” There are some children who could
have been machine guns during the last war.

2. Temper: An aggressive attack or emotional outburst. Younger children, who aren’t so
good with words, throw themselves on the floor, bang their heads, holler and kick
around ferociously. Older kids, whose language skills are more developed, come up
with arguments that accuse you of being unjust, illogical or simply a bad parent in
general.

3. Threat: “I’m going to run away from home!”, “I’ll never speak to you again!” and “I’m
not eating dinner and I won’t do my homework!!”


4. Martyrdom: May be kids’ all‐time favorite! Your
daughter indicates that her life has become an
incredible burden since you are totally unfair. “No
one around here loves me anymore,” “I never get
anything” or “You like her more than me!” are
examples. Crying, pouting and looking sad or teary
can also be effective manipulative devices.

5. Butter Up: Here’s a switch: Butter up takes an
approach that’s different from the other testing
tactics. Instead of making you feel uncomfortable,
the child tries to make you feel good. “I think I’ll go
clean my room. It’s been looking kind of messy for
the last three weeks. And after that maybe I’ll take
a look at the garage.” Ever heard a parent say,
“The only time my son’s nice is when he wants
something”?

6. Physical Tactics: From a parent’s perspective, this last form of testing is perhaps the
worst. Here the frustrated child may physically attack an adult, break something or run
away. Physical methods, of course, are more common in smaller kids.

What’s Going on Here?
Most kids would never be able to describe the underlying mechanics of testing. But we can
tell you exactly what’s going on. Here’s how it works: The child’s testing is saying to the
parent something like this: “You’re making me uncomfortable by not giving me what I
want. But now I’m also making you uncomfortable with my badgering, tantrums, ominous
statements or feeling sorry for myself. Now that we’re both uncomfortable, I’ll make you a
deal: You call off your dogs and I’ll call off mine.”
If you do give in and give the child what he wants, you are guaranteed that any testing will
stop immediately—in a split second no more hassles. Some people say, “Thank heaven—
there’s a way of getting rid of testing and manipulation!” There certainly is, but there’s a
catch. The catch is who’s running your house? It isn’t you; it’s the kids. All they have to do
in a conflict is get out their big guns and you are chopped liver.
For many parents being able to enjoy their kids again means being able to manage kids’
manipulative behavior quickly and fairly. How do you do that? Recognize manipulation for
what it is, never give children what they want when they are testing, and know when it’s
time to stop talking!

I just read this newsletter from 123 Magic and it hit home for sure. The only way I can stop my kids from manipulating is when I use their counting and timeout strategy. Luckily Tegegne’s doctor recommended it to me several years ago. I checked out the dvd from the library and have used it ever sense. 123 Magic worked for me! I know several of my friends agree that establishing a timeout routine early on helps immensely with disciplining young children. 

I’m totally going to make a “time-out pad“. Genius.

Time out for us is the least exhausting way for me to let my kids know that I rule the roost round here! 

Love,

Mom

Mom + Designer: And After Hours

So I’m not quitting my day job (that’s good news, isn’t it kids?), but I’m not quitting my night job either.  Even though the clean clothes haven’t found their drawers, dinner has been simple, and I’m pulling off the pony tail, I have so enjoyed working on these design renderings the past 5 days. I love, love, love being at home with my children. At the same time, I look forward to the days when design becomes a day job again. That will officially be when Baby Fields is in kindergarten. However, Tegegne starts kindergarten in a few months. I’m sure I’ll pick up several more projects once he is a full-time school boy. 

Speaking of which, I was just thinking that I should start looking for items for his school uniform. And of course, some jazzy new shoes! 

There is much going on around here, but in honor of Lent the kids and I are trying to be as unplugged as possible. With that said, writing here is one of my favorite things so I’ll be back soon with more thoughts and sharing of life’s adventures with the Joneses.

P.S. Highlight of my day just happened. Fields, you finished eating and look up at me with a bashful grin that makes your shoulders shrug. Then squealing and laughing. Thanks for making me feel so awesome. It’s hard to hold onto stress with your innocent joy and laughter.

Love, 

Mom (Often want to sign off as Design Mom, but remember that Gabrielle snatched that up years ago.)

Fields Benjamin: 5 Months

Dear Fields,

Hello my little baby buddy. You are 5 months old! You are happy and sweet and easy going. Your cry is soft, your hair is soft, and your smile gives me a warm heart. If you are crying during the day and I am unable to soothe you, your brother or sister usually can. Earlier in the car, Hensley was saying “It’s okay, it’s okay…” in the sweetest little mothering tone trying to help you stop crying. Often when I’m fixing lunch and you are crying I’ll notice you’ve stopped then I see that Tegegne is lying by you talking, or you’re on his lap looking at a toy. That’s what is sweet about siblings. There’s a-lot-a love to share.  Your front teeth are making their way, you sit up pretty well. We will introduce you to the wide world of solid food in a few weeks. Unlike Baby Hensley, you’ll offer a smile to anyone and everyone. 

We love, love, love you. I want to write more soon. I’ve recently taken on a design project that leaves me little extra time in the day, and the shower and I have a date. 

xoxo,

Mama Bee

Featured Friend: Friday



Hello, it’s barely still Friday, but I’m going to squeak on in and introduce you to a dear friend of mine. Meet Amy. She and I were introduced through a friend of hers. You see,I was reading this awesome book called Soul Graffiti, when Michael and I took our first vacation to San Francisco after we had become parents. It was there that we met the author of that book, Mark. Mark and his wife had us over and we shared a wonderful discussion on life. A really memorable one. A few months after that trip I got an email from Mark, saying that one of his dear friends who had been a part of his intentional community in San Francisco was moving to Kansas City from Haiti and we should meet. Amy was that friend. 

She is the kind who will hang out with our family no matter what we’ve got going on. She is a Loyal Lucy and a generous friend. She visited me several times in the hospital when I was on bed rest. She was recently at the hospital all night with Fields and I.  During our holiday homes tour prep she was over several nights decorating. When she comes over she’ll read a book with the kids, help cook dinner, or just be with us whatever we’re doing. We love Amy. She is a good friend. She answered a few questions below…

How old are you?
– 30 years old. Though I routinely get cardedThanks Mom&Dad!
Can you tell us what jobs you’ve done in San Francisco and what your job is now?
– Are you sure you really want to hear all that? When living in San Francisco, I was a bit of a vagabond as far as employment. That, and the fact that you almost have to work 2 jobs to afford that lovely city! (sigh) I do miss it though. So, let’s see… 
My first job in the city was working as a nanny with 2 autistic kids. Through this position I was exposed to a lot of fascinating & innovative forms of therapy. Later I was a social worker with Meals On Wheels of San Francisco. I visited homebound seniors to assess their health & safety, providing in-home services when necessary. I left that job & social-worky kind of stuff to go full-time with ReImagine – a center for integral Christian practice. At that time, there was just a small collective of us, 15 people or so, all working together to flesh out a life that connected our deepest held beliefs with our everyday routines. A lot has changed with ReImagine since that time, having evolved into something more accessible to a larger audience. But I still cherish those memories from the early days of figuring it out, & hold those experiences & people near to my heart. 

I left ReImagine to return to work with those on the margins – beginning in my own neighborhood. I lived in the Mission district, which is a beautiful vibrant part of the city, filled with public murals, hipsters, local food & galleries, & a prevalent culture & population of immigrants from Central & South America. At the Tenderloin Community School, I worked with the Bay Area Women’s & Children’s Center to pilot an exercise & conflict resolution class. When school let out in the afternoon, I’d bike across town to Horace Mann middle school & teach an after-school health & cooking class. At both of these schools, the student body consisted mostly of immigrant youth, newly arrived or 1st generation. My students & their life experiences were a constant source of education, & left me with many a story to tell. I quit these jobs to work in Haiti for the summer, & upon return, wanted a job that dialed down the intensity a bit. So I became a barista, worked at a Pilates studio, & on Sunday nights worked at the best dive bar Ever. Shortly thereafter, I left San Francisco & CA…and road-tripped it to KCMO. (what?!!) I now work at the Kansas City Free Health Clinic as a medical youth case manager, helping young people navigate HIV & develop into independent adults. I really love it. The work is challenging, my clients are inspiring, & I am proud to partner with them in their journey.

What is growing in your garden right now?
– Confession: Kristyn asked me this question back when things were still growing in people’s garden. So get in your go-back machine & pretend it’s ice-free, warm & sunny…and there’s my garden! You’ll notice an abundance of kale in one bed – it’s my favorite food! Last year my sister roped me into planting 10 tomato plants, which turned out to be a bit…tangly so I took it easy this year & only planted kale, swiss chard & brussels sprouts. Turns out some of the heirlooms from last year had scattered their seeds – so 3 tomato plants surprisingly popped up! A welcome (& manageable) addition. 

You’ve lived out of the country, yes? Where did you live and what were you doing there?
I first went to Haiti over 4 years ago. I was actually planning a trip to Sudan that fell through, so a co-worker suggested I contact a journalist friend of hers in Port-au-Prince. I was on a plane 2 weeks later & knew next to nothing about the country. By the end of my time there, I was educated & politicized through firsthand experiences, having lived & worked beside members of a social movement called SODA. SODA defined itself as “a decentralized network of grassroots groups based in poor communities in Haiti that are dedicated to promoting voluntary and cooperative ways of organizing,” & organize we did. 

I was there to help train teachers, as members had started a free school to ensure their neighbors & children would receive an education. In addition to teaching, I partnered with youth to build a community center, played soccer, learned about the chicken project, & traveled to the Northern city of Cap Haitien. It was there that I made a friend who would bring me back to Haiti in a more permanent capacity. After the earthquake in 2010, this friend asked me to move to Port-au-Prince to open an extension office to assist in recovery efforts. Naturally, I took her up on the offer. Sasha & Nick welcomed me into the work of S.O.I.L. with open arms, & for the next 6 months we joined forces with OXFAM GB to pilot composting toilets in displacement camps – a new technology as far as sanitation in an emergency setting. 

In a nutshell, I helped build composting toilets & turn poop into nutrient rich soil. I could go on & on about my experiences there, but I’ll instead direct you to the website, where you can see the fruit of 2 years’ labor as SOIL provides soil to Haitian farmers! This is an organization to believe in – & SUPPORT! – for the work is honest & needed, providing jobs to Haitians in country. I think of Haiti & the SOIL team on the daily & long to return. Once my Kreyol is up to par again – I will. 🙂