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Setting Tone: For All Children. Always.

Hi, all. I want to share my post-election concerns as they pertain to our children. And to explicitly set the tone for my business in this post-election climate. This post is “political,” albeit measured. Some of you may not agree. Some of you may be tired of reading about post-election aggression and post-election opinions. Some of you may come to my blog posts and my other social media posts for an escape from this very type of discourse. But here we are. This is your heads up. If you came for light and fluffy this isn’t exactly it.

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As a concerned American and mom, I’m so disappointed to see the way hate and aggression is presenting in our children and schools post-election. I’ve been reading heart-breaking stories from all over the US in the weeks since. But came across a report this morning that has brought it all together with numbers.

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has surveyed 10,000 educators across the US since the election. They found:

  • Over 25% of the surveyed teachers said they have seen specific acts of bigotry since the election–threats of violence, graffiti targeting minority groups, and property damage.
  • 80% of the educators surveyed reported heightened anxiety levels from students who come from targeted groups–immigrants, Muslims, and students of color.
  • 90% of educators surveyed said the election has had a negative, likely long-lasting, impact on their students.

These numbers are interesting to say the least. An equally compelling addition to these data, are some of the comments shared with the SPLC as part of this survey:

“Kids did a ‘mock’ election where they got to vote for president and two of 32 kids voted for Trump (this was all before the actual election). One of the students who voted for Trump expressed that he felt kids were judging him for his choice and the teacher defended his position and right to have his own vote. He then said to the class, ‘I just want him to win so he can get rid of all the Mexicans.’ He himself is an immigrant from Bosnia.”— ELEMENTARY TEACHER, COLORADO
“The day after the election, white students in my school walked down the halls harassing their students of color. One student went around asking, ‘Are you legal?’ to each student he passed. Another student told his black classmate to ‘Go back to Haiti because this is our country now.’” — MIDDLE SCHOOL STUDENT TEACHER, MASSACHUSETTS
“’You voted for Trump. I hate you,’ said one third-grader to another.” —ELEMENTARY TEACHER, WASHINGTON
“Words that I have not heard in the past — racist, bigot, pussy, slut — are now used by my fourth-graders.” — ELEMENTARY TEACHER, MINNESOTA
“This is my 21st year of teaching. This is the first time I’ve had a student call another student the ‘n’ word. This incident occurred the day after a conference with the offender’s mother. During the conference, the mother made her support of Trump known and expressed her hope that ‘the blacks’ would soon ‘know their place again.’” — ELEMENTARY TEACHER, GEORGIA

The SPLC reports that over 1/2 of educators surveyed are hesitant to discuss the election in the classroom, because emotions are so high. And some reported principals discouraging discussing the election in the classroom.

How do we help our children and educators? The answer does not appear to be “wait and see if it dies down,” because it isn’t.

The SPLC suggests educators should:
•Set The Tone
•Take Care Of The Wounded (targeted and affected persons)
•Double Down on Anti-Bullying Strategies
•Encourage Courage
•Be Ready For Crisis

I think these are actions to take outside of school too. I have been particularly “encouraging courage” in my 4 year-old. Coincidentally, we borrowed Little Red by Bethan Woollvin from our library the Wednesday following the election. Little Red is a reimagining of the classic Little Red Riding Hood tale, featuring an unflappable Little Red. This book has helped us to talk about fear and courage, looking for clues that something isn’t quite right, and making plans.

[As a heads up, Little Red is a little bit dark for a picture book and I would have previously hesitated borrowing it given the nature of my oldest child. But I honestly didn’t look that closely at the book before checking it out and it now seems appropriate to make room for light and dark narrative, at least in this safe way.]

Taking advice from the SPLC, I want to set the tone for my business and social media spaces. Short and simple: We are here to support and encourage ALL children. Always. This stance of equity and inclusion is behind every piece I make and every post I post, regardless of whether it is explicit or not.

Read more about the SPLC survey here. There is a lot more I didn’t share, like the comments from educators who have found no change/no lasting-change in their classrooms or schools post-election: https://www.splcenter.org/20161128/trump-effect-impact-2016-presidential-election-our-nations-schools

Donate to the SPLC here: https://donate.splcenter.org/sslpage.aspx?pid=463

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Parenting: My Perfect Children Are Perfect

Parents in my neck of the woods, and I’m sure yours too, are pressured to be able to do it all with minimal help and a smile on our faces. And we ARE doing it! ALL! Perfectly. With smiles on our faces, always! And tweeting about it (follow me @penandthimble)!

As I write this at 3:38 in the afternoon, I’m totally showered (nope), makeup on (what is a makeup?), dressed in clothes I could answer the door in (nope), and not at all nursing my 19 month-old while she does some painful boob twisting acrobatics thing (whyyy?). Doing it all!

Since I’m so perfect, and so are you, it is no surprise that our children are perfectly perfect in all the things.

My perfect children are happy and polite always. My 19-month old has never cried because she wanted a different water bottle. Neither has my 4yo. Not once! They love all bottles equally!

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My perfect little perfectionists started reading at 12mo. To themselves. Their favorite books are It by Stephen King and any lift-the-flap books they can get her hands on.

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She *read* the merchandizing plan, naturally.

My perfect-y perfect delights love balanced whole-grain, home-cooked meals three times a day (with one healthy snack at 4). I know this is how it is in my house. I could never imagine a life wherein my kid only eats french fries and cookies all day. And snacks all day long. And we never eat take-out. Ever. Real talk, my kids have never eaten a french fry in their life.

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My sweet babies of perfection take no interest in screen time because TV is gross and my kids are sacred jewels who hate the idea of TV and screens.

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My perfectly perfect children are in bed by 7pm and awake by 7am dressed, hair in a bow, teeth brushed, ready to start the day with a smile–that’s just how she wakes up! Yours too, right?
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Since I have been #blessed with self-regulating, non-snacking, reading-on-their-own toddlers, I try to fill my long days to myself with long bubble baths, journaling, naps, and just being, well…perfect! Which I’ll tell you all about in another blog post some day!

Spoilers:

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PS. Want to get your little bundles of perfection something extra? Help them clean up with a FREE reusable napkin with every $15+ purchase in my Etsy shop now through Thanksgiving!

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What My Three Year Old Taught Me About Goal Accomplishment

This is not another potty training blog post, except it kinda is. In September of 2015, all of Phee’s local buddies were potty training so I thought we should ride their momentum and join in. Phee had just turned 3, but was not that into it. She could make things happen, so to speak, to earn treats like M&Ms and Palace Pets (which come with teeny tiny choking hazard brushes, but I digress).

For a week she was like the Princess of the Potty. Then the treats stopped. I was too broke for any more Palace Pets and eating all of the M&Ms when no one was looking. When the treats stopped, so did all of of Phee’s interest in the potty. So rather than cleaning up pee all day, I popped some pull-ups on that. Because sanity.

Cut to Phee’s first year of pre-K coming to an end last month. I mentioned that when she was ready, we’d start trying to wear undies and going potty on the potty again later in the summer. I was pretty sure she didn’t hear more or care because she didn’t say anything. A few days later, she told me she had a question for me…

Phee: Mom, I have a question for you…

Me: Sure, what is it?

Phee: When preschool is over I’m going to be a big girl and wear undies and go pee pee in the potty. (All of her questions are statements)

Me: OK!

Cut to a week later, a Friday, the day after the last day of pre-K. Phee announced that she wanted to wear undies and go potty in the potty. I thought, “Wait, what? You were serious?” But I said, “Yeah you do!” And she’s in it to win it. Is it all going perfectly as planned? No. But she’s serious and focused on her goal.

So I’m taking a lesson from my 3yo. Setting goals, specific start times for my goals, and going all in with focus and determination. Missteps are just that, not insurmountable obstacles. I won’t let little hiccups discourage me and I know the reward is achieving the goal!

So get those big girl undies on (see what I did there) and set a goal for this summer and don’t let go. What is your goal? When are you going to start? Tell me! I want to know!

My goal: Get in a local shop I’ve had my eyes on. I will approach them in September. My goal is far in the distance because we are hoping to move this summer and I love my family too much to try to accomplish a big goal in the midst of a big move. But I will be breaking my goal into smaller steps and working on them in these summer months.

Your turn!

*Featured toilet paper roll image courtesy of hyena reality at FreeDigitalPhotos.net. Although I added the smiley face! 🙂

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I Heart You, Valentine! DIY Heart-Shaped Crayons

Do you have a toddler? Kid? Then perhaps you have a lot of broken crayons in your house too? Turn those broken crayons into Valentine’s Day gifts with my simple tutorial. This is seriously a no-fail, simple activity. Low on time-investiment and high on super cute outcome!

Supplies:

1. Broken crayons (I used multiple brands and sizes)

2. One silicone heart mould tray

3. Oven

4. Baking tray

To Do:

1. Peel the papers off of your crayons if they still reside there.

Next task: Find a use for these pretties!
Next task: Find a use for these pretties
"Those crayons are nakie!"
“Those crayons are nakie!”

2. Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

3. Break crayons down further to fit into the moulds. Great stress relief — snap! snap! crack!

Heart tray + broken crayons
Heart moulds + broken crayons = Meant to be

4. Put broken crayons into moulds. There does not appear to be a right or wrong way to do this. I stacked some vertically, others horizontally, and most were a little of both. I piled them as high as the top of the moulds.

So exciting!
So exciting!

5. Place your heart moulds onto a baking tray and place in oven for 15-18 minutes. We have a baking tray that is too gross to use but have not parted with it yet, so I used that in case there was spillover. There was no spillover.

6. Take tray out of the oven after 18 minutes and put it on the stovetop to cool. The crayons in all but two center hearts had completely melted after 15 minutes. I would not exceed 18 minutes of oven time.

Melted Crayons
Melted Crayons

7. After an hour of cooling, pop those hardened hearts out of the mould.

Look good enough to eat! But don't!
Look good enough to eat! But don’t!
Pop out so cleanly!
Pop out so cleanly!
I'm obsessed with these fun colors!
I’m obsessed with these fun colors!

That’s it! Now you have fantastic gifts! I’m going to give one to Phee’s friends along with a Valentine’s Day sticker sheet! Simple, fun and satisfying to make, and a cute way to share the love with the littles on Valentine’s Day and beyond!