Sunday, April 18, 2010

Now -- Better savings at

Now, using my referral code BestSaving, you get $10 off your first order including diapers ($49 minimum total order) and a $5 credit for your second order. That's an extra $5 of savings. sells lots more than just diapers and wipes, they carry formula, baby food plus all kinds of baby gear, from small to large.


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Good Dog, Bad Dog; Good Kid, Bad kid

Since Louie, an untrained terrier puppy, joined our household a few weeks ago, I've been revisiting th idea of training and noting where our training has fallen short with Fenja, our older dog, as well as considering what training we need to be doing with Louie in order to turn him into a dog that we can live with. As I've reviewed the dog training ideas I have used in the past, I've also been confronted with the difference in the attitude I have toward my dogs and their training versus the attitude I have toward my children and their discipline. While I have good intentions in disciplining my kids, the majority of the time I fall back into Scarily Punitive Reactionary Mom mode. I've thought in the past that My Smart Puppy, my favorite puppy training book, may also be the best parenting book I've read. Obviously, there are significant differences between puppy training and child discipline; I'm not trying to figure out which training collars and flavor of treats would work best for my kids. However, some of the best advice in My Smart Puppy has to do with the owner's attitude and outlook, and I think a lot of this can teach parents something, too. So here are some musings on some puppy training ideas that might bring something to parenting.

Each Puppy is Different
Temperament is inborn -- in children and in dogs. "The trick to being happy is not to get what you want, but to want what you get." This applies as much to kids as it puppies. Regardless of the child you imagined you would have, the one you've got now - with all his strengths, weaknesses and quirks,; is the one you've got. Accepting this and working with him rather than trying to mold him into an idealized image is essential for good discipline.

Do you love your puppy, or do you love loving your puppy?
Love means giving the puppy (or child!) what she needs for her growth, not what you'd like to give her or what would make you feel good about being a parent. Often times what she may need is firm boundaries - and this may not always make you feel wonderful or loved in return.

Get to Good
Focus on teaching what to do, not what not to do. While corrections may be necessary, they should not be the bulk of training or disicpline. Being told "don't do this" without being told what to do instead can be confusing for dog and child alike. Focus on teaching behaviors that you want, and then encouraging those behaviors.

Effective Corrections are as gentle as they can be, and as firm as they must be.
Intimidation or harsh punishments may make you feel like you've "done something" in response to he behavior, but it isn't like to help the trainee learn what to do and feel capable of and motivated to do it. Good corrections stop the behavior long enough so you can teach the wanted behavior in its place.

Your puppy can change, but you have to change first.
Doing the same thign you've been doing is likely to end in the same result you've been getting. If what you're doing isn't working, don't blame the dog or the kid , change what you're doing. For some reason, this is much easier for me to keep in mind with regards to the dogs than the kids. Louie has an accident. I clean it up and think, "He should not have been off-lead in the house. Also, he never is in the hallway or the bedrooms, so he probably doesn't even think of those places as 'inside.' I need to make sure to bring him into each of those rooms on lead and feed him there."

Rosie has an accident, and I freak out that once again she hasn't bothered to stop what she's doing and go to the bathroom. Unlike with the dogs, my first thought isn't of what I need to change about what I'm doing in order to help her be successful.

My title is intentionally a bit misleading -- the label "bad dog" isn't helpful in dog training because it doesn't help you to change anything about what you are doing, but only encourages you to become more frustrated and annoyed with your pet. Something similar may be true for children as well, along the lines of the famous Fr. Flanagan quote, “There are no bad boys. There is only bad environment, bad training, bad example, bad thinking.” We can't have total control over our kids (or our puppies!), but we can control our affect on the environment, our example and our training. I'm not sure why my first instinct when the dog misbehaves is to adjust my training, while my first instinct when the kids misbehave is anger, but I don't know what is going be my self-improvement priority for now. Hopefully in a few months, Louie will be better behaved, the kids will be decently well behaved, and I'll be at least a bit calmer.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010


One would think that I would be worried about the current school year and what we're not accomplishing every day, but I'm not. Instead, I've been thinking about our curriculum choices for next year. This may be to distract myself from what I ought to be doing right now.

I had felt that I needed a "plan" for next year. I rarely manage to get myself to actually plan the week ahead, and all too often if I don't make plans, very little gets done in school at all. This might be just fine; the kids are learning a lot just by reading books about what they're interested in and asking questions. However, I feel like our day goes much better and the kids are better behaved if we have more guided learning. We decided to go with the Mother of Divine Grace syllabi -- we had used this for first grade for Pauly, and while we used something different this year, I found myself missing the day by day plan, and I liked having affordable structure in my homeschool, as opposed to having to enroll with a program. I like the poetry memorization and recitation and the focus on history through "real books" that Mother of Divine Grace has. I've gone ahead and ordered the third grade syllabus and teacher planner, which organizes the subject-by-subject plan in the syllabus syllabus into a weekly planner style format with all subjects scheduled. Now I'm doubting whether this was a good idea, since the planner is most useful if you stick pretty strictly to the recommended resources. I had intended on doing exactly that, but I've found myself deviating from the plan as I've begun purchasing materials for next year.

They recommended a science textbook from a Protestant publisher that promotes creation science, which is something that I don't consider science at all, properly speaking. Despite reassurance from others who have used this text that it doesn't mention evolution positively or negatively at all, I decided to use a different resource that I felt better about, and which is designed to give a Catholic perspective on science. I was uncomfortable with using an older catechism, which doesn't incorporate the development of doctrine evident in the Vatican II documents and the Catechism of the Catholic Church, so I've decided to go with something different for the catechism portion of their religion classes. That affects not just the basic religious plans, but also the memorization plans. We probably will not use their recommended math text, I don't really care for the approach. I did purchase their phonics and spelling recommendation, which uses an intensive phonics method to teach spelling through sixth grade. Honestly, this resource look pretty overwhelming to me, and I certainly don't agree with some of the philosophical underpinnings of the program, which states that phonics and phonetics can't be learned without direct instruction. I'm still planning on trying it out, but I don't feel very hopeful about it. Pauly takes piano lessons, so that will be substituted for the practical aspects of the music curriculum. I'm not sure what planning help I've been saved, here.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Life with Louie

The new puppy, Louie, has been living with us for nearly a week now. There is at least one way that my life has changed -- I get to sit down and rest even less than I did before! I think things will get a bit less hectic as we get more accustomed to living with him, and move him into a set crating schedule. Since he was incompletely housebroken at his old home, and wasn't keeping his crate clean, I can't trust him yet to keep it clean here. We take him out a lot, as I can't assume that since it has only been x long since he was out last, that he doesn't need to go. I do think he is trying, though, and I am much more optimistic about his housebreaking than I was before we brought him home.

I am excited about having a new puppy. Louie is a sweetie and seems very smart. I'm really looking forward to see how his training comes along, and I feel newly motivated to work on the things we never really conquered with Fenja -- like walking on lead without pulling. Now, I just need to find the time to fit that in. I wonder if I invest in some treats if I can get the kids to listen as well as the dogs. . .

I want to state for the record that I was NOT motivated to get Louie to show up my sister (who just got a new dog, herself), despite what Bob thinks. : P