Friday, May 17, 2013

Camping at Guadalupe River State Park

This past weekend, the cub scout pack that my older son is in had it's last campout of the year. I help out by buying the stuff for evening meals for two nights for everyone, making reservations at the campsites, and answering questions regarding camping etc. Last year, the pack had gone to this state park but I wasn't there (sent hubby with my kiddo.) This year, since I took on the outdoor coordinator responsibility, I needed to go whether hubby was in town or not. As it turned out, he was in so we both took my older kiddo. He loved that we were both there and he got our undivided attention.

The weather beforehand was horrible! We were expecting thunderstorms on the way there and overnight the first night. We finished packing our vehicle in the rain and during the first hour, it poured down rain and my phone even went off with a severe weather alert. But we continued because there would be other campers who had planned on attending as well. It was rained about an hour after we got our tents up and we all huddled under a covered thing I brought (like a room or shelter from the sun.) The park host had said that there was hail the previous night too we were ready. We tied down the tents expecting the worst and were pleasantly surprised in the morning when no storms came.

Everything went well and the kids rode their bikes all around! They swam in the cold water at the river (it got warmer the longer you stayed in the water) and had a blast! I really missed my younger son the entire time we were gone and we're planning on returning with our whole family after summer (when it's still warm but after crowds leave.) The spaces where you camp were spacious and there was a lot of shade! You couldn't have asked for anything else. Well, except for an air mattress that didn't have a hole. We usually have a spare one that I buy ahead of time just in case. I had forgotten that it had already been used early last year and we slept on the ground after all the air had been squashed out of the mattress. I'll be looking for sales on them in the near future for our next one after school starts again. Here are some pics from our trip.

Hubby staying out of the rain while cooking.
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Kids playing in the river.
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My kiddo and a friend walking on a trail to the river.
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Cacti growing abundantly.
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Thursday, May 02, 2013

10 Specific Compliments to Give Your Children

I saw this via my FB feed shared by someone along with the info from the author Derek Maul / and thought it was worth sharing. I need to remember these things and use them more often!

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10 Specific Compliments to Give Your Children

In the opening pages of Rudyard Kipling’s classic novel “The Jungle Book”, Tabaqui (the jackal) sees a litter of wolf cubs and points out “How beautiful are the noble children! How large their eyes….” In flattering the cubs, he breaks a fundamental jungle rule.

“Tabaqui knew there is nothing so unlucky as to compliment children to their faces,” Kipling writes. “He rejoiced in the mischief he had made.”

Kipling may have written for another era and from another continent, but his story highlights the challenge inherent in dishing out kudos around our kiddos.

Is it OK? How much is too much? What’s the difference between hopeful encouraging and lying? When is praise inflationary? How can I be objective?

Fact is, children look to their parents for encouragement, and finding affirmation at home is foundational to positive emotional development. Parents need to be in the business of building our children up. But we also need to be honest, and it’s important to use compliments that really mean something. Kids can sense disingenuousness and empty praise. Making stuff up is harmful; false praise is dishonest and the practice breaks trust.

Here are 10 compliments all kids need to hear:
Recognize and compliment character:
We live in a world where integrity is neither consistently taught nor widely expected. When our children demonstrate honesty, kindness, trustworthiness and reliability, that’s a great time to take them aside and offer a sincere compliment.

Compliment obedience and respect:
It’s too easy to fall into patterns of disapproval, where the only time we notice is when kids do wrong. Rather than waiting for disobedience or disrespect (then coming down like a ton of bricks) try noticing obedience and respect: “I don’t always remember to tell you, but you are an awesome young man, and I appreciate the way you treat your mother”.

Appreciate them for simply being part of the family:
“Every time I see you, I’m thankful that I’m a dad.” Kids need to understand that they are valued simply because they are.

Compliment contributions to the family:
“Clearing the table (sweeping the porch… putting out the trash) makes a real difference. I appreciate your contribution.” Kids need to understand that what they do makes a difference, that the adults notice, and that pitching in is a good part of family life.

Compliment the quality of a child’s work:
“This is one clean porch, mister!” “You mowed the lawn right up to the edge. Way to go! I’m so glad you take this job so seriously, it shows.” Doing a job at a high standard is always worth noting.

We can compliment the effort, even when the result is not the best:
“Your willingness to help makes me happy! Now we need to take a look at how you can get the trash to the curb without leaving a trail!” Compliments can be an important part of our role as teachers.

It’s important that we compliment children when they achieve something new:
“Wow! That’s a huge leap forward for you there in math, pal.” “Awesome! I’m not at all surprised after you worked so hard.” A well-placed compliment can keep a positive ball rolling.

We can compliment sense of style even if we don’t exactly share their taste:
We don’t want to hedge kids into being clones of dad, or mom. “When it comes to putting together an outfit, you certainly have some flair!” “I can tell that you put a lot of thought into the way you look.” “I’ve never seen a table set quite like that before – you have an amazing imagination!” It’s not useful to limit compliments to the narrow range of our own taste.

Compliment steps toward a long-term goal:
“Son, the improvement you’re showing is commendable. Thanks for trying.” Waiting for perfection before we’re willing to dish out a compliment is inefficient, may dampen enthusiasm, and does little to help the process of growth.

Try complimenting their friends:
But only do this when you can do it honestly! “Your friends are the greatest!” “That Jimmy is such a positive young man.” “You know, it gives me a lot of confidence to know you use common sense in choosing your friends.”