Review: How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk

Last week I ordered a couple of books and today my book box arrived, yeah!

One of the books I bought is How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber & Elaine Mazlish.

The book was recommended and I thought it couldn’t harm to do some work on developing better communication skills in our family. With 4 kids, 11, 9, 2/12 and 1 I liked the idea that a) they listen and b) they talk and c) we listen.

Today I read Chapter 1: Helping Children with Their Feelings

It made an easy and interesting read. I loved the introduction where it says: „I was a wonderful parent before I had children. I was an expert on why everyone else was having problems with theirs. Then I had three of my own. Living with children can be humbling.“ (p. 1) I can relate to that. Within two and a half years I became stepmother to two and mother to two kids. With my own kids things often come more naturally and I tend to be more patient. But then, I know them better. I’ve known them all their life. These first years and getting to know each other and gaining each other’s deep trust simply cannot develop the same way when you get to know the kids when they’re 6 and 8, as in my case. It’s not supposed to either. But I work hard. And sometimes the whole process seems fruitless. There are rough times. But then there are good times. And over all, we make a family. Still, I’m feeling that our family communication needs improvement. Another quote holds true: „But the language of empathy does not come naturally to us. It’s not part of our „mother tongue.“ Most of us grew up having our feelings denied.“ I recently have started trying to give feelings a name, mostly when it came to swear words, since I don’t want them in my house no more. And I’m working on being empathic. As I said, that comes much more naturally when I’m talking to my son then when I’m talking to my step-son. But then, I think the reason for that is trust or the lack of it. I trust my son and his abilities. But I often catch myself trying to correct my stepsons‘ behavior. And that brings me to my number one non-empathic way of communicating: I tend to ask questions (which of course sound blaming and inquisitiv) or give advice (nobody needs advice if they don’t ask for it and even if they do they could probably do better without). I used to give questions back, I used to give the power of decisions and learning back to the kids. Somehow with a family of 6 and my master thesis still being written I seem to have lost the patience for that.

The authors give a lot of good examples of communication situations, they make you think and work on yourself by asking questions, playing role games, they illustrate situations in comic strips, they give you assignments and examples, and answer parents‘ questions and give real stories. The book is not to be read quickly but to be studied and experienced at slow pace. Still, you can easily read one chapter in one evening. And they sum the chapter up:

TO HELP WITH FEELINGS:

1. Listen with full attention.

2. Acknowledge their feelings with a word – „Oh“ … „Mmmm“ … „I see.“

3. Give their feelings a name.

4. Give them their wish in fantasy.

You could say thank you know that I posted the summary, because now you don’t have to buy the book. No. The examples and exercises are really good. They also make you aware of your won behavior. There seem to be no less than  seven categories of ways to get it wrong. You’ll find yourself at least in one of them. Plus, and this is what I’ll consider the best point in hindsight: Some of the example situations taken from real life with real kids and real parents remind me of one of our kids or the other. So instead of thinking: How has the separation of their parents affected the boy’s life, or what is wrong with him/us, or why is he so careless, or aggressive, or why do they always want more, it just boils down to THEY WANT TO BE HEARD. I took down the names of the kids each situation made me think of so that a) I can go back to this and b) so that my partner can have a look at the lines as well. The book seems to be worth its money.

My / our assignment for this week is:

At least once this week have a conversation with a child in which you accept his or her feelings. Jot down what was said while it’s still fresh in your mind.

Completely new to me was the concept of giving their wish in fantasy (they illustrate this with some really nice examples). I always feel overwhelmed by the boy’s always longing for something new. So next time, I’ll give it to him. I mean, I’d give it to him 😉

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Organizing saves space. 11year old, convinced.

In the last days I’ve been trough our storage room in my free time (which means, kids time and I’m not working on my master thesis) in order to de-clutter our home step by step and to organize our space better. We have so many things, bags, shoes, clothes, piles of paper work (which I’ll be getting to as soon as I’ve graduated, yes, this day will come). I admit, I consider organizing fun. On the one hand our living situation improves and it’s a calming meditative exercise (apart from the dust which makes my allergy worse), on the other hand, the kids love it too. Baby girl climbs the stairs, toddler boy climbs the ladder. Both climb in and out of boxes and have a look at all those things I bring to light and put away again. Kids activity, check.

I put the kids clothes in their boxes sorted by size. I gave away clothes that I didn’t want to keep just that we have them. I gave half our bags away and we still have plenty (though I’m still looking for some kids bags which I thought we’d have somewhere because I promised a rucksack to my neighbor). There are some things we can sell our give away. Today I sorted the shoes by sizes (25-26, 27-29, 30-32, 33-38, 39+).

Somehow I’m left with more empty boxes now than one would expect considering the amount of things I gave away. I told my pre-puberty step-son about this and how organizing things makes so much sense not only because you actually find things easier but also due to storing space you safe. His reaction was a bit reluctant and he asked if this also holds true if you have lots of space and almost no things. Before I had time to find an answer he brought an example and pointed at the kitchen cabinet. What about this small area, he asked. So I took all the plates out (1/3 of one shelf) and all the glasses too (1/3 of another shelf), put everything at the table and asked him to hand me the items randomly. I put everything he gave me back to the shelves where I had taken it out. But the difference was, I was not following a system. So glass came next to glass, then a plate onto it, another plate, another plate, glass, glass. When one shelf was full I turned to the second one, same procedure. Not even half of the plates and glasses fit in. He saw that I got a point here. And I was impressed by my teaching creativity. 🙂

Mother’s Day Strawberry Cake

Went I went shopping for the mother’s day weekend I brought home 4 packs of strawberries. They were 89 cent each I think plus they tasted good which is not always the case with strawberries imported from Spain which leads directly to the downside of the offer. However, I planned on baking me a strawberry cake for Mother’s Day. (My birthday is in late October so most fruits are out of season then but now that I’m a mommy, raspberry and strawberry cakes, here I come.)

Today I share my recipe for this year’s mother’s day cake with you. It tasted fabulous, so give it a try. It may take some time longer than let’s say a brownie mix but still it’s rather easy to make and really worth the effort. My little boy helped me baking as good as he could. I love his eagerness to participate.

Mother’s Day Strawberry Cake (Erdbeer-Wickeltorte)

Wickeltorte

Shortcrust: 150g flour, 50g caster sugar*, 2 tablespoons vanilla sugar, 1 pinch of salt, 1 egg yolk, 100g butter.

Sponge: 5 egg yolks, 2 tbsp water, 80g icing sugar*, 5 egg whites, 30g caster sugar*, 125g flour, 3 tsp melted butter.

Filling: 250g strawberries, 80g icing sugar*, 2 sheets of white gelatine, 1/2l whipped cream, 1 jar of strawberry jam (you might want to use any kind of jam you have at home. Mine was a „various fruits“ variation).

*I used raw cane sugar in all cases.

Optional: 2 tbsp chocolate flakes or sprinkles.

Also: backing paper for the form.

Directions:

1.) Pile flour, sugar, vanilla sugar and salt on a pastry board. Press a hollow in the center and pour in the egg yolk. Place the butter in flakes on the edge and quickly knead to a smooth dough. Wrap with foil, let rest 30 minutes in the refrigerator. Preheat the oven to 200°C.

P. did the kneading, so maybe we didn’t get the smoothest dough, whatever. 🙂

2.) Mix egg yolks, water and powdered sugar until fluffy.

3.) Whip the egg whites until stiff (we call it „Schnee“ which means snow since it looks like it), pour in the crystal sugar to the bowl spoon by spoon and continue to beat until the snow is cut resistant and shiny. Stir one-third with the flour and melted butter, then stir in the remaining snow loose and evenly (we call it „unterheben“ to heave it under).

4) Stress the mass evenly on a baking sheet lined with baking paper and bake 10-12 minutes in a hot oven on the middle rack. Plunge the sponge cake plate onto an unfolded towel.

5) Take the shortcrust out of the fridge and roll it out to a round plate of 26cm diameter, place it in a suitable springform pan, and prick with a fork several times. Bake in the preheated oven on the middle rack for about 20 minutes.

Since we didn’t have a smooth dough, see above, we kinda had to push the dough into the form, but we did this together so what 🙂

6) Wash the strawberries, remove the stalks and set aside some fruit for garnish. Puree the rest with icing sugar. Cold soak gelatine, dissolve it hot and mix it with the strawberry puree. Refrigerate until the mixture starts to gel. Whip the whipping cream until stiff and remove about a third of it. Into the remaining cream stir in spoonfuls of the strawberry jelly.

7) Place the shortcrust cake onto a flat plate and spread with strawberry jam onto the shortcrust cake as well as unto the biscuit plate. Spread the strawberry cream onto the biscuit plate. Cut the biscuit plate lengthwise into 4cm wide strips. Roll up a strip and place it in the middle of the shortcrust plate. Wrap the remaining strips around. (I cut the strips in half length, so  the winding was easier.)

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8) Press the cake a little in shape and refrigerate.

9) Thickly spread around the rest of white cream. (I only filled the gaps and didn’t cover the cake with cream on the outside. This also worked fine.) In the recipe it says you sprinkle the cake surface spirally with the rest of the strawberry cream. O, it should remain on a rest? I used it all up for the sponge 🙂

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10) Decorate as desired with the leftover strawberries and/or chocolate flakes or completely to your taste. We used sprinkles and little red sugar hearts we had at home and which I thought were perfect for mother’s day. P decorated the cake with hearts, T (with my help) put on the sprinkles. Isn’t it interesting to see how differently kids decorate?

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In addition, we put on some birthday candles. One white candle for each of the pregnancies, blue candles for every Mother’s day with my son, a pink candle for the first Mother’s Day with my daughter.

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And this is what the cake looks like inside:

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Now have a piece of cake.

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And another one. Invite your family, your neighbors, share, indulge.

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Karma

Today one of my friends told me that one of his former girlfriends just got her baby. They are still friends. I said I was happy for her. And I felt a little sad. Every time I hear about that woman I feel bad. Not because of what she did, she didn’t do anything, but because of how I treated her. When we first met, I must have been about twenty or twenty-one. We were on a night out and ordered a taxi. She was the next one about to get in the car but I simply ignored that and moved in before her. I’m pretty sure I behaved in some more really rude manners towards her.

Me and my friend talked about that today. He said he knows I treated her badly and that she never forgot. He also mentioned our city trip and said that we could have had so much more fun back then.

Our city trip was at a time when I hadn’t reflected on my behavior. Actually, in all the time when they were together I didn’t. I only thought how strange she was in the way she behaved towards me. I couldn’t see that I was the problem, or I didn’t want to because admitting I was wrong and admitting my motives would have asked for courage.

So why didn’t I give her a warm welcome? I told my friend that it was because he told me they had had an argument before that. That’s what he told me today. But I don’t remember that. What I remember is that I felt insecure. I wasn’t seeing my childhood friends that often anymore. I was afraid that we were moving apart and that someone else might take my place, whatever I thought my place was. Out of these highly irrational reasons I was rude to somebody that didn’t deserve it.

Now here comes the fun part. It might have occurred that some sisters or female friends of some of my boyfriends didn’t treat me well. Sometimes it just bewildered me. Sometimes it hurt. Sometimes I thought „But we could have had so much more fun“. Today I lost the grudges I was holding. Karma just said hello.

I hope I meet that woman again at some stage so that I can say I’m sorry.

Review: „The Daily Workout Plan“

When I was looking for spring party ideas on Pinterest, I found several ideas for working out at home. Does this sound strange? For those of you who use Pinterest and love it you’ll know how this came about. I pinned these ideas for later, when I’ll be fit enough to exercise again. And this later finally came about. I started with jogging around the place where I live which was a windy and sunny 25 minutes run of about 2 kilometers. It felt good, really. I didn’t do much sport over the past three years, so I was really really looking forward to it. I didn’t want to start with body weight exercises straight away. I did this a couple of times while and after breastfeeding my daughter but always got really sick afterwards because my body was exhausted and just not ready yet. So I wanted to start slowly this time with a nice little test run that boost my confidence because I actually did finish it. I was happy to be outdoors, in the sun, and this time I was still fine the next day, apart from a little muscle soreness (in German we call it Muskelkater which literally translates as „muscle tom cat“), but this is probably one of the parts I like most about exercising anyway. It gives me the prove afterwards that I actually worked out, not only fantasized about it. So when two days after my run my health was still up I looked for one workout plan from my list that I wanted to start with.

The winner was Back On Pointe with a daily exercise plan for each day of the week. I really liked the idea a) that I could start any time of the week b) that it has an exercise plan for every day of the week c) that the exercises are thought to be done throughout the day. c) might be the crucial point, with two kids there’s always a good chance of not being able to finish a full workout at once.
In this post I want to share with you my experience with this work out plan.

Day 1 – Friday.

Since I live with a fitness instructor I thought I could skip the „Go to YouTube, type in “[name of exercise] exercise” and you’ll find plenty of videos showing you how to do them.“ part. I hate doing this simply because a) it’s so time consuming  watching the videos, b) it’s hard for me to get how the exercise is done simply by watching, which again is time consuming c) there’s nobody giving me feedback even if I try hard to do the exercises right. I let myself show how tricep dips, side lurges, incline push-ups and oblique crunches are done, because these were the exercises I wasn’t sure about and then I tried to fit the exercises in during the afternoon.

So here is my Friday résumé: Jumping Jacks actually do get exhausting after quite some repetitions. Crunches, sit-ups and the like are better done with a soft mat underneath, otherwise your butt will get sore, sooner than you think. Butt kickers are mean! I couldn’t lift my leg afterwards when I wanted to do the whole thing again starting with the other leg, I mean I could, but only after concentrating hard. After some repetitions I had to count shouting the numbers out loud, so N (11yrs) in the other room had a blast listening and talking about it afterwards. My son (2yrs) copied me afterwards by shouting „Eins! Vier!“ (one! four!) – he’s starting on counting, ain’t he? I love jump squats. I actually thought I’d invented a new exercise a couple of months ago, when I first had the impulse to try them, but Mr Fit told me that they’d already exist. I was disappointed and proud at the same time. 5 is a small number but after the butt kickers 5 was enough. You should be careful with jack knife sit-ups since they easily do you more harm than good so better look for other exercises. I’m really glad that I have somebody showing me how the exercises are done correctly. This one is important since you can do yourself harm if you do them wrong. The more corrective feedback you get at the beginning the better. What I missed  here was an exercise for the back. The next day I could feel the muscles in my legs but was not sure if it was from running or the leg exercises.

Day 2 – Saturday

What a letdown! My personal fitness instructor quit when I showed him how the exercises would go on. He wasn’t that much of a fan of the Friday exercises but when he saw the plan for Saturday there was no way he’d show me any more exercises I didn’t know. In his opinion the whole Daily Workout Plan is in no way balanced. But since I want to try it and give feedback on it, I carry on. Back to „Go you YouTube, type in “[name of exercise] exercise” and you’ll find plenty of videos showing you how to do them.“ then. I was disappointed, as you can imagine. For reasons why see above. However, as usual, I try to see the bright side: a) most of you won’t have an expert at home so this review is more authentic b) I got the idea to write about my exercise plan experiences, with the benefit for me that I need to reflect what I do.

I did the other version of Jumping Jacks than the day before for variation reasons. This exercises is starting to get towards my arms. I did 90 Russian twists (I used the lightest play ball from my kids, which was fair enough to start with) until I recognized I wasn’t doing Russian twists because my back was not up. When I did them correctly for the last few repetitions this exercise made so much more sense and hurt less. I had some trouble finding a good kneeling position, one that didn’t hurt my knees, one that felt right, and then the 5 push-ups where hard, small number but mean if you haven’t done push-ups for a very long time or never really. I HOPE I did the yoga downward dog correctly. Lunges felt strange inside without actually walking around. When I did bird-dogs I had to look up that exercise only to find out that I’d known that already but under no name. Somehow this exercise didn’t work my back as I had hoped, so maybe I didn’t do it all right? When I did the inner thigh lifts, my kids tried to climb me. Since it was the last exercise I just want to finish it. So I sat down baby girl some meters away, did some repetitions, until she came climbing again and so did her brother, the little copy cat. It was fun though with the kids. And I kinda finished the workout in one go. We had to leave in the late morning and wouldn’t return before late afternoon so I wanted to get it done. I can now feel my arms, my butt, my abs and my front thighs. Now, at almost bed time, I can feel my back muscles too. To document my progress or not I asked N to take a picture of me before the second workout, and I’ll ask him to take one after the last one.

Update (April 22):

Day 3 – Sunday

Again, I had to do the workout in the morning because me and the kids were leaving for Vienna.

We went to the zoo and walked around for more than 5 hours. I was so tired in the evening.

Day 4 – Monday

While I was away, M must have looked at the workout plan. He also was helping me again. When I asked him how lunge split jumps were done correctly (I wasn’t feeling to comfortable with them yet) he suggested split squads instead, so if you’re a beginner, do those.

Day 5 – Tuesday

Day 6 – Wednesday

In the morning I got my wisdom tooth pulled out. I didn’t expect to be so dizzy afterwards. I went to bed hungry and slept past noon. I wasn’t sure if I could even make it to today’s workout but in the afternoon I felt better. Still I had the feeling as if someone had punched me in the face really hard but otherwise I was fine.

Day 7 – Thursday

Friday morning my almost 9 year old camera kid took some slightly blurred after pictures (I didn’t check the settings before I handed the camera over to him). After one week you can’t expect wonders, I know. But I tried looking for changes on my body. I feel that the waist is slightly more defined now.
However, I wouldn’t carry on with this plan. Mr Fit had some good points there. What I liked about the whole thing was that I eventually got to get started. I wanted to start with something not too hard before I’d turn to functional fitness (which I highly recommend).

MoniPhasen

Ich war nie ganz dünn, ich war nie dick. Dazwischen hab ich eine Spanne von etwa 20 kg erlebt. Ich habe mir gerade ausgerechnet, dass auf meine Körpergröße von 176cm gerechnet in Bezug auf den BMI 59-80kg im IDEALEN Bereich liegen. Und innerhalb dieser Spanne habe ich mich bisher bewegt.

Ich gestehe, körperlich fühle ich mich am anderen Ende dieses Bereichs am wohlsten. Die Kleidung passt besser, ich gefalle mir besser, der Sport fällt leichter. Mein Wunsch ist also sportliches Schlank. In den letzten drei Jahren, in denen ich Mama geworden bin, ist der Sport in den Hintergrund getreten. Da ich mich aber bewusst ernährt habe und auch mit Kindern die Bewegung nicht ausbleibt, habe ich nach den Geburten nicht zugenommen, sondern jeweils 5kg weniger gehabt. Ich bin nicht mehr schwanger, ich stille auch nicht mehr. Das heißt, mein Körper muss keine zusätzlichen Reserven mehr aufbauen, um meine Kinder mitzuernähren. Ich schreibe das Abnehmen auch dem geregelten Tagesablauf, dem alkoholfreien Lebensstil sowie dem Wegfall von Einsamkeits- oder Frustessen zu. Und auch der Vorbildwirkung gegenüber meinen Kindern in Bezug auf gesunde Ernährung. Ich esse gerne, gut und möglichst gesund. Meine Kinder halten mich auf Trab. Da folgt die Balance, das gesunde Mittelmaß automatisch. Sport beginnt wieder, die Sonne scheint und ich freu mich. Soweit so gut.

Jetzt fühlt sich aber plötzlich jeder bemüßigt, mein Äußeres zu kommentieren. Über ehrlich gemeinte Komplimente freue ich mich natürlich. Über neutrale Aussagen auch, also über nette Gespräche insgesamt. Was mich ein wenig nervt, sind Kommentare, wie “Da müss ma dich aufpeppeln.” oder “Jetzt ist aber dann genug mit Abnehmen.”

Was insgesamt interessant zu beobachten war über die Jahre, waren die verschiedenen Reaktionen meiner Umwelt. Mein Opa zum Beispiel hat je  nach Situation gewitzelt, ich solle doch lieber die Stiegen nehmen bzw. mehr Knödel essen, dem nehm ich aber nix krumm.

Mit 16 und 59 kg bekam ich von meiner Mutter zu hören “Du bist zu dünn.” Und ich war so stolz darauf, in die alten Hosen meines damals dünnen jüngeren Bruders zu passen. Mit 16 ist der Körper aber noch nicht erwachsen.

Mit 73 kg ein halbes Jahr später hat sich mein Körper verändert, aber  so im Großen und Ganzen war alles beim Alten. Ich hab eine Zeit lang keine BHs getragen, weil das so unangenehm war und einiges hat auch nicht mehr gepasst. Auf der anderen Seite war von der Persönlichkeitsentwicklung her ein Sprung da, dass ich selbstewusster und fröhlicher war, da hat mir das nichts ausgemacht.

Ein Jahr später war ich stolz auf 63 kg. Da meinte mein damaliger Freund: “Das Schwabbelige an den Beinen krieg ma a no weg mit Sport.” Trottel, dachte ich bei mir! Und, du machst doch auch keinen Sport, sagte ich. “Andere jammern bei 60 kg, dass sie dick sind!” sagte er dann weiter. Ja, aber vielleicht bei ein paar cm weniger in der Höhe, dachte ich.

65kg: Eine Bekannte sagt mir, dass ich so fantastisch aussehe. Jammert über 5kg zu viel. Ist schlanker als ich. Eine der anderen also.

Mit 68kg erhielt ich eine Absage auf einem Onlinedatingportal: “Wäh, du bist ja dicker als ich! Was soll ich mit dir?” 63kg der Typ, das Hendl. E wahr. Nicht größer als ich und so dürr. Was soll ich mit dem?

Mit 78 kg wurde ich beim Weggehen entweder von Männern nicht beachtet  (ich denke da besonders an diese hochgewachsenen Schönlinge, denen gegenüber ich dann das oberflächliche Etikett oberflächlich und arrogant verpasst habe), oder aber besonders von denen, die eindringlich auf die inneren Werte hinwiesen. Dachten sie, so besser punkten zu können? Aufrisssprüche kamen derart daher: “Du bist zwar keine Schnitte, aber ich finde dich trotzdem toll.” Na, jetzt fühl ich mich aber geschmeichelt. Oder: “Ich wollt immer schon mal was mit einer Molligen haben.” Haltaus, mollig, na bumm? Dafür aber kam ich so das erste Mal im Leben gut mit den Frauen aus und lernte beim Ausgehen nette Mädels kennen. Und was sagt uns das?

Und dann pendelte ich einige Jahre so zwischen 68 und 72 hin und her.

Kurz vor meiner ersten Schwangerschaft hat sich mein Körper einen Vorrat angefuttert. Dann schwanger. Dann stillen. Dann schwanger. Dann stillen. Dann war mein Immunsystem im Keller und ich war drei Mal hintereinander eine Woche krank.

Und jetzt gehts dann so weiter:

Mit 29 und 63kg: “Was ist mit der Moni los?” “Jetzt hörst dann aber schon auf mit Abnehmen, oder?” Meine Mutter blieb ihrer Linie treu: “Du bist fast schon zu dünn.” (Aber eine Mami darf das, der nehm ich die Besorgnis auch ab. Aber sie hat auch nach jedem ihrer Kinder abgenommen. Kann ja nix dafür ;) ). Beziehungsweise: „Dünn, aber halt skinny fat.“ Na schmacks. Ich sag ja, ich mach jetzt endlich wieder Sport.

Interessant ists, von sich innen heraus zu schauen, wie sich die Leute zu einem ändern, wenn man doch immer einfach man selbst ist. Mein Körpergefühl hat sich auch verändert über die Jahre. Ob ich mich grad “dick” oder “dünn” fühle hat nix mit den Kilos zu tun, sondern damit, wies mir grad rundum geht. Und um das gehts ja auch, sich wohl fühlen in seiner Haut. Und Freunde und Deppen trifft man so oder so. Und gewissermaßen war die “mollige” Zeit ein Sprungbrett, mich das auch zu trauen, ich zu sein, dann, wenn die Maskerade fällt. Und vor allem auch, um die Oberflächlichkeit auf vielerlei Arten zu entdecken.