April 22, 2014

sticker charts for the perfectionist child

cruz turned two and a half right around that london was born. as much as i'd like to tell you that the transition from one to two children was easy, it was not. partly due to his age, and partly due to sharing mommy and daddy with another child, cruz had a rough time. i haven't written too much on this because i understand it and i want to respect cruz's right to have had a tough time with all the change. so yadda yadda yadda, we've been using a lot of sticker charts around here.

i've tried a lot of different sticker chart strategies, and it took some trial and error before we found a system that seemed to work for us. like everyone, we work on multiple behaviors at once. we're being sweet to sister, carrying our dishes to the sink, saying please and thank you without prompting... cruz responds really well to sticker charts, so we used them, but all of a sudden the doors of my kitchen pantry exploded with charts. and there seemed to be a different system for each behavior we were targeting. there are only a few times a day that cruz could earn a sticker for putting his clothes in the hamper, but a seemingly endless number of opportunities for saying thank you! not to mention the times i wanted to give a positive reinforcement for a behavior that didn't have it's own chart.

like a normal person would, cruz was getting frustrated with the array of color-coded charts i had for him. everything he was doing got reduced to a checklist. the rules were constantly changing and he never seemed to get to the end reward. aggravating, right?

so we threw out the old sticker chart rules and ushered in a new system that's been working very well for the last few month: the tower of stickers.

the idea is simple: whenever we want to positively reinforce a behavior, we put a sticker on the chart. the stickers start at the bottom of the page, and we build up until there's a "tower." if there's a tower by friday, cruz gets to have a "jammie movie night." the reward is big enough that he cares about getting a movie night, but he understands that he needs to wait until friday to watch his movie. we aren't stuck with handing out rewards at random times. and importantly, because there's no set number of stickers cruz needs to earn (we're looking at a general positive growth model #statnerds), there hasn't been a sense of despair over "not having enough."

best of all, it's working. cruz understands that good behavior = praise + stickers = movie night. he loves adding to his tower and we've seen his behavior improve because we're able to be consistent with the praise and reward. the other day he was upstairs. i heard him sneeze and then he hollered down, "i said bless you to myself! i'd like a sticker, please!" how could i not, right?

April 15, 2014

a twitterature linkup: what i've been reading lately

today i'm linking up with modern mrs. darcy's monthly twitterature. these are my short reviews of recent reads.

+ love does lately, i have felt the need to step away from "taking a stand" and instead a call to get back to the root of my faith: love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, and strength. and love your neighbor as yourself. so, among other things, i bought love does. bob goff is really good at loving others and writing about it enthusiastically. this books has inspired me to make some risky big acts of love. highly recommended. #extraordinaryeverydaylove
+ the unlikely pilgrimage of harold fry you know how netflix makes genre recommendations that are very specific? tovi and i always get "thrilling, emotional documentaries" and "workplace comedies" (#blackfish #parksandrec). if amazon did the same, my genre would be "old british people finding themselves, charmingly." this book fits squarely inside that description, and i really enjoyed it. #oldbritsfindingthemselves #charmingly
+ mr. penumbra's 24-hour bookstore an author with a sense of humor, a mysterious cult, a love letter to books, san francisco. #winningcombination
+ reconstructing amelia this book had all of the ingredients for a winner-- murder mystery, gossip girl-esque cliques, but the adult elements of the book (about teenagers) really threw it off for me. #saynotoprepschools
+ exceptional there are many great dystopian YA novels out there. this is not one of them. if you're writing about an alternative future or universe, you need to build that universe. this book never got close. #skipit

after last month's line-up of disappointing books, i am so happy to have a number of worthy choices to recommend! how about you? read anything good lately?

April 7, 2014

a lovely little day in: san francisco

we took a long weekend up to the bay area a few weeks ago, and snuck in a dreamy day in san francisco. i lived in san francisco for a semester in college and then again for the year between graduation and getting married. i love the city, but have never really experienced it with kids. we go up to the bay area often, but going into the city usually seems like a far-off dream. we planned to visit san francisco this time, but even then i thought, "ah, sure. that'd be nice if it happened." but it did! what a lovely surprise.

seeing san francisco with two kids was fantastic. we gave ourselves some limits (parking only once, keep our route pretty flat), which helped to narrow down our options. our day ended up being predictably touristy, but guess what, we're tourists.

the weather app on my phone had been telling me to expect coooold temps and cloudy skies in san francisco, but as we drove in over the new bay bridge, it was sunny! and kind of warm!

we parked one block off of embarcadero and headed towards the ferry building, but first walked down a long pier, watched some old men fishing, and some young men wearing too many accessories. we doled out snacks and took pictures of the bay bridge and couldn't believe our luck that we had actually made it into san francisco.
it's been years since i'd been to the ferry building, and we loved every inch of it. and every calorie. we seriously ate our way from one end to the other. tovi fell in love with some cinnamon almond brittle while i couldn't get enough of this nutella-filled italian donut (i mean, i literally couldn't get enough because cruz has not quite caught onto the concept of sharing food).

we made it a goal to walk down to pier 39 to look at the sea lions and get lunch. there was so much to look at and listen to the whole way down. the exploratorium had a ton of interactive exhibits outside on the piers, which were cool to see and made me want to check out the museum next time we're in town.
sea lions. street performers. fish and chips.
the kids both fell asleep on the long way back to the car and stayed asleep, so we drove around the city and reminisced about our dating days in san francisco. we held hands so much of the day and i kept saying, "i can't believe we're here!" absolutely perfect day.
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