Mamatography 2014- Week 2: Drama

Can you spot the kitten in the tree? Our dear kitten was excited the sun was shining and got so thrilled to be outside to play. He ran up the tree and just kept going. It quickly became apparent that he was stuck and couldn’t find his way back down. He kept climbing higher and higher, then started to wiggle himself out to the tiny branches of the tree. Our ladders wouldn’t reach, we tried opening cans of food and calling him down but it was all to no avail. Sadly, he stayed up there all night. Surprisingly enough he was down to greet us when we looked for him first thing in the morning. Whew!

The drama doesn’t stop there with our dear little kitten. Leave it to Big Z to continue the drama. Since my arm is broken and the dishwasher is too, it’s been her responsibility to do the dishes. Instead of doing the dishes after each meal, or at least at the end of each day, she decided to let them go until there was no choice. We’ll call this a lesson in procrastination. The poor girl spent approximately four hours scrubbing every last dish until it sparkled. She did stop to make this pose for me and give me a chuckle. Now the question remains whether or not she’ll learn from this experience and decide to do the dishes on a daily basis.
How do you motivate your kids to help around the house without drama?

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A Pets Role in the Home School

Welcome to the July edition of Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival: Pets and children.
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival hosted by The Positive Parenting Connection and Authentic Parenting. This month our participants are sharing their thoughts and experiences with pets and children! Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


We have a lot of pets. We have fish, reptiles, chickens, rabbits and a dog. We had a pot-bellied pig, Percy, for over 12 years. Pets are an important part of our family. They contribute so much more than we may first realize at first glance. As a homeschooling family, I feel sometimes that our house resembles a zoo. Have you ever felt that way? We may have caterpillars hatching in one corner, a hermit crab in another and tadpoles on top of the dresser. Pets offer a lot in the way of education.  Let’s examine some of the ways pets can benefit a homeschooling family.

“A house is  not a home without a pet.”- Unknown

Learning Opportunities. Whether you’re learning about the metamorphosis of a tadpole to frog or a caterpillar to butterfly seeing it first hand is the coolest way to learn it. The kids LOVE watching their pets  change before their very eyes. They made a connection with their new friends and had mixed emotions when it came time to release them into the wild. Our pets have become the topic of many school projects. My daughter drew a very informative chart in demonstrating the proper way to care for rabbits. She also wrote a  report on  how to train your adult dog, pointing out that it was never too late to teach an old dog new tricks. This led us to look into training courses for our dog. Encourage your children to learn more about their pets. Research their breed or get them involved in obedience training classes. It’s a win-win situation, your kids are learning and you end up with a well-behaved pet. Veterinarian appointments are also excellent places for children to learn, take them with you.Some of our favorite books are by James Harriett he tells some fascinating true tales of life as a veterinarian.  A veterinarian’s office is a great place for kids to ask questions.

” Dogs come into our lives to teach us about love, they depart to teach us about loss. A new dog never replaces an old dog; it merely expands the heart. If you have loved many dogs, your heart is very big. “-E. Jong

Companionship. This may be a very obvious benefit of having a pet.Your pets often become a part of the family, your family friend.  I get such a kick out of seeing my daughter lay sprawled in the front yard with her loyal dog next to her. Pets have a special way of being in tune with their owners. Often they can sense when we’re sad or worried. This has really amazed me. When kids are feeling emotional they often turn to their pets for comfort and friendship.  Pets can help children build trusting relationships. Many kids may feel more trusting around animals, this can lead to building trusting relationships with other children and adults.

“Animals are reliable; many full of love, true in their affections, predictable in their actions, grateful, and loyal. Difficult standards for people to live up to.”- Alfred A. Montapert

Responsibility. Pets require work. This is a great opportunity for children to learn how to care, feed and play with their animals. Even toddlers can be responsible for scooping dog food and carrying food scraps to the chickens.  It gives children a sense of worth to know they are responsible for caring for another living creature. They learn to nurture and feel empathy at a young age through their interactions with their pets. They learn qualities such as kindness and compassion by interacting with their family pet. Being responsible for some aspect of their pet helps them realize the importance of commitment and daily responsibility.

“We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals.”- Immanuel Kant

Stress Relief  I have been able to witness first hand the calmness that holding her pet rabbit, Burt, has on my daughter when she is doing her math. She often finds her math to be stressful, she holds Burt in her lap and she is able to calmly proceed with her math. Holding a pet has been shown to ease anxiety. This is huge in the homeschooling family. You sure can’t take your bunny rabbit to set on your lap in the traditional school setting. When your child is a happier learner, this reduces stress for the entire family. Pets are non-judgmental and kids appreciate that. Doing their school work with they furry companions can help build self-esteem. They may feel comfortable reading to their dog, this can help build their self-confidence. Pets can be emotional healers for children.

“Animals are such agreeable friends–they ask no questions, they pass no criticisms.”- George Eliot

Health Children who are in a home with dogs and cats are shown to be more resistant to developing issues with allergies and asthma. Isn’t that fantastic? Some studies even report fewer incidents of ear infections and upper respiratory infections in families that have dogs. I’m always looking for ways to keep my kids healthy, it’s nice to know that having pets helps. Also children tend to be more active when they have pets to play with. Taking their dog for a walk is an excellent opportunity for exercise. Beyond physical health, pets benefit the family via emotional and mental health. Children learn qualities such as love and empathy from spending time with their pets.

“They motivate us to play, be affectionate, see adventure and be loyal.”- Tom Hayden

Food Pets can teach us about our food systems. We have chickens and therefore, we have eggs. My kids get the connection between their pets and their food. I know some families won’t consider their chickens, their pets, but we do! Some families also will eat their chickens, not us.  I think most people that raise their animals to eat, do not view them as pets. Our chickens will live to a ripe old age just like our pig.There is so much to learn from having your own hens in your back yard.  Dairy cows and dairy goats can be great pets that can also be beneficial to the family by providing food.

“There’s nothing like sitting back and talking to your cows, and if they talk back, you know you’re really relaxed.”- Russel Crow

Life and Death. Our pets are often our companions on our childhood adventures.Having a furry companion for your little ones as they make their own adventures can make for some fantastic memories.  They frolic in the mud puddles with our kids and warn them of danger. Most all of us have some memories of a childhood pet that touched our heart. Those memories are dear to us, even many years later.
True also is the fact that losing our family pet is often times our first taste of dealing with death. Children are often faced with their first emotions of grief and loss from the death of their beloved family pet. They learn life is fragile and they learn to respect it. Through losing a pet, children start to ask new questions, to process their experiences and contemplate what they have lost.

“If you have a dog, you will most likely outlive it; to get a dog is to open yourself to profound joy and, prospectively, to equally profound sadness.”- Marjorie Garber

What pets do you have? How have they added to your family life?

APBC - Positive Parenting Connection and Authentic ParentingVisit The Positive Parenting Connection and Authentic Parenting to find out how you can participate in the next Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival! Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

  • A Pet’s Role in the Home School — If a house isn’t a home without a pet, how can you imagine homeschooling without one? Erica at ChildOrganics discusses the many benefits of home schooling with pets. .
  • Toddlers and Whiskers, Co-existing as One — Mama Duck at Quacks and Waddles explains how to introduce new pets to toddlers and babies
  • Children and the Death of a Pet — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama offers suggestions on how to help children work through the loss of a pet. She includes a variety of books to support both parents and children during this tender time.
  • 10 Reasons to Be a Foster Family for a Pet in Need — Christy from Adventures in Mommyhood: Mommy Outnumbered gives her top 10 reasons to consider fostering a pet until a forever home can be found.
  • Preparing Dogs for New Baby — Jennifer from Mother of the Pack gives advice to new parents for preparing their dog(s) for a baby
  • Children, Pets and Death — Lauren at Hobo Mama has walked with her son through the untimely death of their cat, a fascinating and troubling journey.
  • The Health Benefits of Having Pets — Laura from Authentic Parenting tells us exactly why having pets is beneficial to your child’s health.
  • Romeo, My Healing Dog — Bianca at the Pierogie Mama writes about her loveable old dog, Romeo, who at one point she had to give away but a few years later he was placed back in her life when she least expected it.
  • 6 Tips to Help a Child That is Afraid of Dogs – Ariadne at Positive Parenting Connection is sharing helpful tips and using play to help children overcome a fear of dogs.
  • The Value of Pets – Caroline from Stone Age Parenting writes about how pets have brought so much more than happiness to her life and how she has learned to appreciate and respond to the needs of animals and of humans.

The Smallest Thing

We’ve had an exciting week! It may not seem like much to others but it sure was exciting to us. You see, about two months ago we started our first venture with raising a few chickens. It has been something I’ve wanted to do for some time now. But  to tell the truth I was a little scared.Well, we finally decided to just dive in. I was excited to have healthy eggs  (pastured and soy free) and not pay $6. a dozen at the farmers market!  The Z’s were excited to have more “pets”. My dear husband worked hard preparing an area in the barn, he worked together with Big Z to make nesting boxes and clean and prep the area. DH worked a few weekends in a row building a place for the chickens to run outside and enjoy the bugs and sunshine. I was quite proud of how cute it ended up.
 So we started with three hens, 2 Buff Orphingtons named Henrietta and Gertrude and a Silver Laced Wyandotte named Mrs. Speckles. (yes, I just had to ask my 8-year-old what kind of chicken she was). We bought them as pullets so we didn’t have to raise them from chicks and didn’t have to wait as long for them to start laying. Mrs. Speckles rode home in Big Z’s lap and Gertrude just loves snuggles. They have been a joy to watch and Big Z has taken her responsibility seriously in keeping their coop clean and making sure they have food and clean water. Big Z has been very anxious over the last week in anticipation of the chickens to start laying. Well, it finally happened!  One night this week we went out to the barn to turn off their light and there it was, a beautiful light brown egg right in the center of the front nesting box! Big Z was so excited she started to cry! She was so overwhelmed with excitement tears swelled in her eyes, she started jumping up and down, stuttering and finally shrieked ” I love my chickens!” She joyously ran into the house to show her daddy and little brother. She wanted pictures taken and then she had to call and share the news with her grandparents.
Now, this may not seem like such exciting news to most families, but this was headline news in our world. My Uncle in PA was called the next day, and then we had to tell the other set of grandparents and our other  neighbors and friends too.You know what else?  We were so excited about getting one single egg, that we went out this past weekend and got three more hens to add to our flock. So, yes, we have a grand total of six sweet little hens.  We have a colorful little group of gals. We added an English Sussex named Maid Marion (we just finished reading Robin Hood), a Cuckoo Maran named Cuckoo and a Golden Lakanvelder named Goldie. They all have their own personality and are so fun to watch.
This has been a great learning experience for all of us. We like the backyard chicken website. It’s been a source of valuable information in learning the parts of the chicken, how to care for them and how to clean the eggs. They also have forums where you can show off your flock or ask any questions.  Our local library had a lot of great books to help get us started too. We are still learning as we go, it’s been great. This past week there was a recall on billions of eggs, I am so thankful that we didn’t have to fret about whether or not our eggs were included in the recall. I love the feeling of working to produce our own food, even  if it’s one small egg at a time.

This post is part of Simple Lives Thursday.