Tuesday, May 27, 2008

And the Winner is...

Alison G!!

Congratulations! email me your address and I will have the book shipped directly to you.
rjglover @ verizon . net

Thanks for everyone who commented. Now to those of you who did not win, go buy the book or put it on your birthday wish list!!

This was so much fun for me. I am totally doing this again sometime!!

A Risky Question

"Davis," says I, "What makes a mommy a good mommy?"
"Hummmm...I have not really thought about that, Mom. Let's see..."

And here is the list he came up with, in this order, in these exact words.

They give grace,
They ground kids when they are wrong so they can learn,
give you candy sometimes,
They do a few exciting things (with you),
They take care of the kids,
...Take kids places like the hospital when they need to go so they don't die,
And they love you.

That's a pretty good list, don't you think?

(I did have to ask him what "being grounded" meant to him, since that is not something I have ever done. Oh, and the hospital reference is pretty funny because one of the things I tease Davis about when he is doing something dangerous is I say, "You better get down from there, Davis, because I don't have time to go to the hospital today." One day, recently, he had to ask if what I was saying was true or not. "Davis, sweetie, no matter how busy I am, I will always always ALWAYS bring you to the hospital if you get hurt real bad. Don't worry about that a bit.")

Sunday, May 25, 2008

I've Just Gotta Share! (free book give away!)

I have been reading Elizabeth Krueger's book Raising Godly Tomatoes and just picked up on some Wonderful Morsels of parenting help. Wanna glean from what I learned??

Emotional Issues in Children
I have three boys so I don't deal with much of a variety of complex emotional outbursts (usually we just deal with anger), but when I do I am never certain how to handle them. I mean, I am a girl, and I have emotions, and I know how powerful they are, and how difficult it is to work my way out of them...if its so hard for me, what can I possibly expect from my child?

Here is one thing she said: "It is not wrong to have emotions, but unbridled emotions are dangerous and potentially devastating. Adults who feel righteous indignation upon seeing the innocent suffer, or children who grieve the loss of a grandparent, act properly and nobly. But not all emotions, displayed freely, are good. Both the adult who loses his temper when frustrated, and the child who throws a fit to get his way, are equally reprehensible. Emotions are attributes of God Himself, engendered in us when He "created man in His own image". The challenge is not to eliminate emotions, but to manage them in ways pleasing to God and in accord with His image."

She goes on to explain what a disservice we do to our children when we do not train them to correct their thinking when their emotions get the best of them. When allowed to melt into a puddle of pity, sorrow, or anger, it only leads to incredible (and growing) self-centeredness. The Bible speaks only negatively about our selfish nature, and allowing our kids to wallow in their own pot of emotions denies them the opportunity in those instances to consider how others in the situation are feeling. She goes into great detail about all sorts of types of emotional outbursts (from genuine fear to sadness to defiant anger) and how she suggests handling them here. I have paid particular attention to the section on how to deal with a child that has woken up on the wrong side of the bed. (I can't wait to test her advice!!)

Note: she also has a lot to say about crying and whining and about temper tantrums, which she rightly lumps in to emotional issues.

Spanking, and Other Non-Controversial Subjects :)
This one debunked something I have wondered over long and hard: should we spank our children when they have hit. My gut has said yes, spank. But the fact that I could not put my finger on why that is ok bothered me enough to give me doubts as to whether or not I was on the right track. Elizabeth said it perfectly succinctly, so I will just quote her: "Beware of the popular definition of spanking as "hitting", deceptively implying child abuse when proper spanking is nothing of the sort. ...Any child can tell the difference between a just spanking and hitting. The simple, all-essential difference between hitting and spanking is this: Hitting is done in anger and it’s goal is injury and retribution. Spanking should never be done in anger, should never injure, and has the goal of training for the good of the child." Bottom line: whether your child has defied your direction or has slugged his brother, if you are spanking properly, your child will not be the least bit confused at the message you are sending in correcting their misbehavior. Carefully examine your thoughts and attitudes regarding spanking. If you have defined it even in part as hitting, examine your methods. Elizabeth offers many possible scenarios of wrong thinking, all of which gave me pause. Here is one I thought particularly useful: "With their hearts telling them to discipline, but society constantly making parents feel guilty about spanking, many have chosen the middle ground by purposing to use spanking “only as a last resort.” This is a serious error. When this practice is adhered to, what we wind up with are parents who hold off spanking until they are overcome by anger and frustration. Then they lash out in rage and vengeance. That’s never the proper way to spank. Not only is it cruel, and damaging, it is also ineffectual, as it shifts the issue from the child's misbehavior to the parent's lack of self-control. Those spanking in anger must examine their parenting to see if they have allowed misbehavior in their children to go too long uncorrected. Never defer spanking until you've lost your temper. Watch your children and correct minor disobedience and bad attitudes early, with a spanking if necessary, and you won't have to deal with the frustration caused by a child who provokes you to lose your patience and temper. Do not spank only as a last resort."

I cannot tell you how many times throughout the read of this book (and I am not done yet) I have had to stop and praise the Lord for the wisdom spelled out so thoughtfully and plainly in this book. I have also been forced to really look carefully at where I can make changes to significantly improve my parenting skills. I want every mom on the planet to experience the kind of encouragement and help that I have received.

So, at the risk of looking like a fool who thinks there are more people reading my site than there really are, I am going to copy JoyInTheJourney's idea and do a free book giveaway. (Think of how good your chances will be on my little site!) Anyone who comments on this post will qualify and I will send the winner their own paperback copy. Maybe even two people will win. All I ask is that you purpose in your heart to read it cover to cover. It's just that good. (Ming, you are first in line to borrow my copy.)

Good Luck!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Into a Summer Swang

I would be lying if I said that we have kept up with our wonderful afternoon routine that was created at the beginning of the year. But in fairness, it was the first trimester yucks that pulled us from it. Our afternoon routine now consists of my pathetic effort to climb the stairs at noon after working for the business all morning, give a few hugs, toss the baby into bed if he is not there already, and then set the kids up in front of a 30 minute show so I can close my eyes and rest my weary body. I threaten them with all sorts of horrible things if they play or argue loudly enough to awaken me, and I leave them for a good ninety minutes. They are usually little angels. When I nod off cuddled up to my body pillow (thank you Megan), I catch some serious shuteye, usually rising only because the baby has woken up and started to jump and play in his crib. Now, after nearly a month of this "routine" my kids eagerly ask as I make my climb up from my office if I will be taking a nap today (reading between the lines, "can we watch a show, Mommy??"). Though this routine is nothing to be proud of, in the big picture, "no child is harmed in the making of this movie."

Getting back from my digression, the yucks remain for another couple of weeks (maybe less) but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, and after the super-hot sunny wave we enjoyed last week, I also see that the routine that was so wonderful for the winter must be shipped off to Alaska or Sweden, or some other sad place where people don't wear tank tops while gardening. A new summer routine must be birthed.

I usually "think big" to a fault at first - to the point that I want to give up before I even start. I have wonderful, lofty, doomed-to-fail ideas of how I want the kids to do all these marvelous things without complaint, without hesitation, and with all the diligence of pre-adults. I have learned over the years how to actually make it happen: by building a routine around a fixed daily event (meal and/or snack time is my personal choice) adding to it slowly, one week at a time, one activity/goal at a time.

The first major change that must be made is that all the important stuff needs to take place first thing in the morning. In the warm weather, my kids play quite happily all afternoon outside, and I am happy that they do that. They get tons of exercise, and they get dirty-dirty-dirty. I love that. But I don't love it in the house. So the last thing I want to do is invite the dirt in prematurely. Not a very godly reason, but its the truth.

And since school is out, I want to take advantage of a slower morning to read the Bible together, have Bible quiet times again, and spend a little time alone with each of my bigger boys practicing reading. The kids will be devastated to learn that the summer daily routine will likely not include TV. I have other things in mind that I would like to build into the routine, but if I list them all I will get that hopelessly overwhelmed feeling in the back of my eyes and I will be tempted to just keep on napping.

Let's not go there!!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Today's Conundrum

What would you do with this napping child? Move him (and risk ending the nap) or leave him (and risk the nap ending prematurely due to uncomfortability)?Talk about your classic lose-lose situation!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Teaching Only Obedience

Installment One to whet your appetite for the Book "Raising Godly Tomatoes."

"...when (your children) are still small (teach only) one thing: that they must always obey (you)with a willing and pleasant spirit. When we start with just that one thing, we don't have to do much else. What could be more simple? Once your child understands obedience, everything else is pretty much taken care of." (RGT, p.19)

Where do I start? What do I train for first?
"It doesn't matter what you train for first. You are training your child to obey you agreeably, as he should. You are not training him to come, or to hand over a toy, or to sit still on your lap, or to do or not do any other individual task. You are training for obedience, and if you train for obedience, you won't have to train for anything else." (RGT, p.21)

And what about tantrums?
"...Any conflict over anything can, and likely will, turn into a tantrum if you suddenly begin insisting your untrained child obey you. That's GREAT! That's WONDERFUL! ...Look forward to the tantrums and other major displays of stubbornness and willfulness as opportunities to win a while war. If you win a few tantrum wars (and you must), the little skirmishes will just disappear, and so will the tantrums." (RGT, p.21)

So, how loud can I yell?
"No Yelling Allowed. When you correct your child, do not raise your voice. We've all heard parents who call, "Bobby? Bob... BOB... ROBERT! COME HERE RIGHT NOW!" When you do it that way, all you are doing is training your child not to obey you until you raise your voice...Wouldn't you like to be able to just use your regular voice? To just ask politely one time and get a positive, willing reply? Then train your child with that in mind... Call and instruct him in your regular voice. Do not call him twice if you know he heard you the first time. Get up and correct him if he doesn't respond promptly and correctly to your first call." (RGT, p.23)

And then she covers the importance of consistency... she defines it as "every time your child requires correction ,you get up and do it, remaining there to supervise and outlast until the message gets across." (RGT, p.24)

She was not always this kind of parent, so she takes you through the process she went through to get her kids to where they are now. This is just a portion of one chapter that I found wonderful. It just keeps getting better, and more helpful.

If you like what you read here, you better buy this book for yourself!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Toddler Parenting

Ok. I have raved about Marc Weisbluth's book on getting an infant/toddler to establish good sleep habits. And I have raved and raved about Diane Moore's book here and here, which is excellent for kids starting at about kindergarten age (maybe a touch younger). But there is a sizable age gap that MUST be filled. So, my next raving will be Elizabeth Kruegger's book "Raising Godly Tomatoes." I have actually mentioned her website once, in this post.

This book is the single best resource I have come across that teaches not only the philosophy of teaching a young child obedience, but it gives practical examples in short chapters that break child-training process down into bite-sized pieces.

She begins with teaching children at the age of 6 months or so - that is a great time to introduce mommy's authority and the concept of "no." That's when they are squirming at a diaper change, and with in months it is also when they are at least a bit on the move and touching things they ought not.

Her main emphasis in child raising is keeping your children close to you. She calls this tomato staking - where you can watch closely and be a student of your children, and can quickly correct problems before they become issues. I think this is great, but it is only fair of me to mention - and warn you - that she is a big propenent of limiting contact with the outside world and believes that just about any contact with "other children" is adversive - even at church. I will also humbly say that I am only raising 3 right now, and she has birthed 10, SO WHO AM I TO THINK I KNOW BETTER? I do know that for my family right now, having exposure to "the outside world" is just fine. And her thoughts on this subject by no means disqualifies her from giving excellent parenting advice. Honestly, she is a very wise, woman.

So if you are about the enter the age of parenting a child who wants increasing independence, or if you are in the thick of it and wishing you had more help, go check out her site, read up on Tomato Staking and Starting Early. I encourage you to purchase the book. It will be the best $15 you invest this month.

Stay tuned. I will whet your parenting appetite in the next couple of days.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

"I'm Not a Perfectionist..."

"...I just like things a certain way."


I heard a very wise woman speak today and she noted briefly about the woahs of her past perfection. My ears perked a bit. Before I go on I have to be a bit more accurate about myself, here (because that's what perfectionists in messy houses must do), I am not super super perfectionistic but I have these tendencies. (My husband is rolling his eyes now but I am pretending he just misunderstood my meaning.)

She said two really good things that I must record for posterity:
1. If you are so focused on results and go around re-doing what your children have done (refold the towel, re-sweep under the table, straighten up the not-quite-clean-enough-for-my-liking room, repositioning the silverware they set at the table) we rob our children of initiative. Why should they try when their "good enough" is not good enough? I will go a step further and say that we steal away their hope, too. Our kids want desperately to please us, even when they don't show it. And every time we pull out our perfectionism card, we have dashed their hope of pleasing us. So, again, why try. Knife to my heart!!
2. The second thing she said is that people stop helping perfectionists and instead heap more on them because they see them as ultra efficient at what they do. It is so true that people stop helping. I think the other reason that (husbands) stop helping is that we let them know our displeasures. I was tempted to exercise that principal (but did not) a few weeks ago when, in the morning I saw that the pan FULL of cooked vegetables from dinner the night before that I was planning on eating for lunches that week did not get put away after dinner. It took me only a moment (thanks to 10 years of learning how to be a decent wife) to recall how thankful I was that he HAD put all the other dishes in the dishwasher and cleaned all the other pots and pans. I shudder to think that a handful of years ago (or during any given pregnancy, Lord help us) that I would have "casually" brought it up to him. I decided I would rather throw away yucky veggies and have help again on another night. Good choice, girl. (And, no, that is not a pic from my house. Just a random google image.)

Now I will add my little two cents on the subject but this is about my son, who I see has the propensity to follow in my footsteps. He likes things perfect, and struggles when he can't get it just right. So it is all the more critical that I on-purpose show him that the definition of perfect is not "doing everything right." The definition of perfect is "complete in Christ." Everything else, for my perfectionist son, is "good enough." How fun is it that I get to influence him in that way (and how thankful will his free-spirited wife be!).

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Who am I??

A semi-heated discussion took place on a couple of my friend's blogs this past week. The discussion surrounded permanent birth control vs. allowing God to fully control the size of your fmaily. Many may disagree, but I would argue that this is a grey area of godliness, sometimes thought of as black and white, depending on who you ask. (So many - if not all - Biblically grey areas are like that!) Grey areas really ruffle feathers because they require so much more of you. Black and white? no problem. A quick judgment call and you are done thinking about it. Grey area? Oh great. Now I have to use discernment each and every time the subject comes up. That's a lot of work!

Not the mention the insecurities! Oh Lord, save me from my insecurities! And so this reminds me of what it was like to be a brand-new mom, when I was teeming with insecurities. Amidst the barrage of unsolicited and solicited advice, there are a googooplex of biblically grey areas that I encountered as a new mom: Do I rock him to sleep or let him cry? Do I give him a binki or not? Do I feed him solids at four months, or wait until six? Will I put baby locks on the cupboards or use them to teach my baby "no?" The questions seem benign enough but they are all questions that attempt to answer the bigger question: What kind of mom and I going to be?

When I was a new mom I had two really good friends who also were new moms. Both of them seemed to really know what kind of mom they were going to be. The two of them were (and are) great moms, but they approach mothering from opposite sides. One is laid back and spontaneous while the other is structured and organized. These characteristics naturally flowed into their parenting styles. I, on the other hand, fell somewhere in the middle of these two. And OH how I struggled to define myself as one or the other.

Lest you think the insecurities stopped once the newness of motherhood wore off, I will assure you it is has not. Now, nearly seven years later, I have defined myself and the kind of mom I want to be in many ways, but there are still places where I am still stuck in the middle, trying to decide. Take the issue of education, for example. I straddle the worlds of Public School and Homeschooling when I am with my various friends. I see the benefits of both and find myself constantly waffling between them, wondering and feeling insecure. I have a school-aged child, so a preliminary decision is made, but still I wonder.

The point, please, Jenne? Ah yes. I do have a point. Finding who you are as a mother takes a really long time (perhaps forever), and it ought to be said every once in a while that we need to be patient with ourselves (and our fellow mom-friends) as we struggle through the millions of questions that arise and not feel bad about the fact that we waffle. What is more, we must give ourselves the freedom to be the kind of mom WE want to be, NOT the kind of mom our friends are or appear to be.

And the ultimate point here, is that our identity as a mom is found when we sit at the feet our our Savior. As we seek out wisdom on our knees each day and allow the Lord to shape us in all areas - black, white and grey - we will all the more be the mom He had in mind from the very beginning. And that will be so vastly different from even our closest friends and family.

And that's simply wonderful.