Friday, September 26, 2008

It Really is a Privilege...

... to play unsupervised. This is just some food for thought, but it has been percolating in my brain for quite a while now. As we raise our kids - especially when they are in these early training, preschool years - we take an enormous amount of time to teach our kids how they should respond and react to other humans (and animals, too, I suppose!). When a child up and smacks his brother you have yourself a bonafide training opportunity to teach the offending child how to properly behave. And when little Susy can't seem to share even one dolly in a pile of dollies and Emily responds by swiping one out of selfish Susy's arms, you again have happened upon an excellent opportunity to teach Susy about generosity and Emily about patience. The scenarios will undoubtedly resurface numerous times and your training and teaching will repeat itself. (Prepare to learn a new level of patience!)

But the only way to grab up these critical opportunities is to keep those kids in your sight. (It is hard to effectively teach when you are not certain of what caused the problem in the first place. Does Susy really need to learn generosity, or is it that Emily was using her brawn instead of her words.) If you have a good suspicion that leaving siblings or friends alone in a room to play together will result in some traumatic tear-filled episode, then one or both of those kids have not earned the privilege of unsupervised play. There is more teaching and training to do!

But the payoff is incredible, when you can leave a room and trust that the child or children left there will do the right thing most all the time.

When Jackson and Jenna were going through a stage where they got into naughty mischief whenever they were together (something not normally in either of their patterns of behavior) we had to rescind their privilege of unsupervised play and watch them carefully to correct them. The last thing we wanted was the two of them to establish bad habits of play that would stick around! After a relatively short amount of time of supervision we were able to re-establish the privilege. (Whew!)

The bottom line is that we humans have the responsibility to treat others in a certain way, and the big bad world teaches us that when we don't, we lose friends, freedoms, jobs, relationships (i.e. privileges). It is a grace we give to our kids when we apply that same real-world principle in our homes. Correct me if I am wrong, Tiffany, but that is a classic example of doling out logical consequences.

One little kiddo-caveat: When my boys were between 18 and 30 mos or so, I did a lot of "protecting and preserving" of sibling relationships. It is REALLY HARD when you are three or four years old to play with a two year old. They are destructive and lack an incredible amount of understanding. So in the interest of staving off the terrible and innumerable negative interactions between siblings, I frequently saved the older child from "the wrath of the two-year-old." And when that two year old does play with the four-year-old brother, they play under my close supervision. I can teach my older child patience and kindness when reasonable, but then when the younger one tries to trash the entire train track that the older one pain-stakingly built, I can quickly mitigate that situation by swooping in to the rescue. And as far as the 7 year-old interacting with the two-year-old, he has matured enough so that those two CAN play unsupervised. It is a beautiful thing.

Anyway, I encourage you to keep your kids close. Be close by so you can teach them over and over again what godly responses look like. It can be tedious and exhausting at times but you will not be sorry you took the time early on to train your kids in these character qualities.

Thursday, September 25, 2008


I just read a friend's blog. She is making chocolate truffles, which reminded me that this week I took up crochet. What's the connection, you say?

I needed something that would do two things: force me to sit down and also keep my hands busy. In other words, I snack-snack-snack every chance i get when i sit down (bad habit that started in childhood), so the way to usually avoid snacking is to keep moving, but I HAVE to spend more time sitting and resting because of the big-belly thing I have got going.

And can I just be honest for a moment and say that I have already gained all the weight i care to gain in this pregnancy but sadly, more will come no matter what i do from this point forth. (Plenty past the "twenty-five pounds" they estimate one ought to gain. PLEASE! Good for you if you stuck pretty close to that number.)

So at the very least, i will avoid sabotaging myself and CROCHET EVERY CHANCE I GET. And then when the baby is born and I am burning more calories just sitting and breastfeeding that i could do in an hour-long spin class, I will enjoy one-too-many helpings of Tapioca Pudding (can you believe THAT is what I crave immediately after giving birth? Random. I know.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


The test results did not show a smaller mass or same-sized mass. Instead, the mass has completely disappeared. It is gone. For whatever reason, the Lord has allowed this one to pass us by.

Praise Him! Praise Him! He is merciful and mighty to save.

Thanks to everyone who prayed for us today. I needed to be held up in prayer.

Focusing on The Promises

Today is a big day, to again determine if there will be Chemotherapy in our family's future. I am filled with more emotion, trepidition, and sadness than last time we had to do these tests. I blame the pregnancy.

So today I am focusing HARD on the promises and truth of God because my heart is a deceitful thing.

Ah Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you.
Oh great and powerful God, whose name is the Lord Almighty, great are your purposes and mighty are your deeds. -Jeremiah 32: 17, 18b-19

When I am afraid, I will trust in you. In God whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. -Psalm 56:3-4

He is sovereign. He knows my fear. He hears my cry. He is faithful to show mercy. I need not be afraid. He is my rock and my hiding place.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Simple conversations

Out of the silent, silent blue...

Jackson: Mommy, is Jesus for pur-tends?
Me: Oh no. Jesus is not for pretends at all. Everything you know about Jesus really, really happened.
Jackson: Oh. I just thought he was a book.
Me: No. He was really a man that lived on earth a long time ago.
Jackson: Oh. I never knew that.

Really, it is in the spaces that life is lived and parenting is done.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Just a Link

This is purely for the couple of people who asked to listen to the talk I gave at a local Mom's ministry. So here you go, Mom and Tiffany. You can click here and scroll down to listen. I had to download Internet Explorer 8 in order to view the little podcast window. Enjoy!

Sunday, September 21, 2008


Little Jackson has taken to wanting me to wipe him again. He has been potty trained for over 2 years and is fully capable of performing all functions quite well (well, decently at least). And its a good thing, too, since kindergarten looms in a little less than a year. So this new request to be wiped was fine for a couple of toilet episodes but I could see the writing on the wall: it was not going to end anytime soon and with a baby on the way and a nearly two-year old still in diapers, I will be dealing with my fair share of poop with the unable-to-wipe-themselves variety of children. This convenience needed to be nipped in the bud.

So I used a little tid bit from Tiffany and started wiping him with a bit more vigor and intensity than necessary. Nothing torturous or painful, just a bit harder than that sensitive area prefers. "OW-OW-OW! Mom, why are you doing it too hard?" Because that's how a mom wipes a four-and-a-half-year-old that already knows how to wipe himself, sweetie.

And let me tell you, it did the trick. The very next day I asked him, Do you want me to wipe you, Jackson? I'd be glad to!! "YES! Wait. Are you going to do it hard? No, nevermind. I can do it, Mommy."

Yes, you can. You are such a big boy!! Independence is a very good thing, my love!!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A Rhetorical Morsel

One thing that can really trip up us moms is when our kids do things that bug us but we don't necessarily have a name for it. Its just those annoying things that they do that you know they shouldn't but you can't identify the underlying character issue. Like a sibling that constantly does things to purposely annoy another sibling. The thing they are doing is not overtly wrong but you want the behavior to stop and the best you can come up with to say is something eloquent like, "Stop annoying your sister!" Another area similar to this is when kids ask the same question over and over again, hoping to get a different, more favorable, answer from mom.

In most cases of nagging, it is very difficult to deal calmly with a child that is wearing you down. One way I have found to get the nagging to stop (aside from giving in) is to raise my voice, get angry and make my kids sorry they asked for the eleventh time. But ah-ha! I have found another rhetorical option. In this approach, you calmly give them a point of obedience, and if they disobey you, you can enforce it as you would enforce any other obedience issue.

Kids, at 9:30AM: "Can we have a treat?"
Mom: "Yes, you may. AFTER lunch."
(two minutes later...)
"Mommmmeeeee, can we have a treeeeeeeet?"
"I already answered that question. Do you remember what the answer was?"

  • If they don't, then repeat the answer and then ask them to tell you what you just said (having them repeat the answer will cement it in their brain and give you the assurance that they have heard and will likely remember the answer next time they ask).
  • If they do remember, have them tell you what the answer was and then praise them for remembering.
And then when they ask again (as my kids do) say something like, "I already answered that question, didn't I? Now please don't ask again." And a follow-up answer could be along the lines of, "I told you that you may not ask me that question again. Will you choose now to obey or disobey?"

Using these words takes a behavior that is otherwise just annoying and tiresome and difficult to discipline for and turns it around into a very simple obedience issue. Sneaky, huh?

Monday, September 15, 2008

Eleven Years!

Saturday was our Wedding Anniversary. Eleven years. A year out of the single-digits and into the forever world of double digits.

So, we went away for a little less than 24 hours (thank you Maryann and Lindy for making this possible by We went to the beach. Romantic balcony room on the water. Jacuzzi Spa in the room. (This post will remain rated G, readers.) Suffice to say that we had a marvelous time alone together.

In the weeks leading up to our anniversary I would have to say that we have been in a season of nit-picking. I think I have done 87-92% of the picking. I am pregnant, after all, and have lost my mind. I have KNOWN in these nit-picking weeks that if I would just LET STUFF GO that we would both be so much happier, but alas, I had not the self control to make this happen. And when a man is being hen-pecked 92% of the time, what husband would be motivated to change his behavior either? So we were driving each other crazy for days and days, weeks and weeks on end choosing to fight every battle, all for the sake of simply being right.


But in the 36 hours before we went away (we argued about every detail of going away, by the way), we were both sweet like sugar to each other. And it was not a fake sugar. No aspartame or splenda here. We were both choosing to NOT fight battles that did not matter (something that my un-pregnant self can do usually much better, and something my unprovoked husband is GREAT at). In those glorious 36 hours, life around here was so nice.

I pray that in the next three months before this baby comes, and in the weeks following birth when my hormones REALLY wreak havoc on my mind and body (gotta love waking up drenched in postpartum night-sweats) that the Lord would comfort my husband who might just need it. More than that, though, I pray that I would not fight every battle, that I would find ways to build him up often, and that he would be blessed.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Transitions, Galore!

All of you on-top-of-it Moms posted your kid's first day(s) of school within moments of kissing them good-bye. I, on the other hand, am slightly more neglectful. But in my defense (since you must think me a terrible mom, I therefore defend myself) we had several transitions going on at the same time.
Transition #1: "Binki on a Hook"
My binki boy is constantly sneaking his binki out of his crib and sucking on it during non-sleep moments. And this pregnant mom is tired of the battle. Thank you, O Brilliant Ginger, for the idea of putting the binki on a hook high above his reach. Upon waking up, he puts the binki on the hook and we wave good-bye to it until the next sleep period. And the transition away from the binki completely has now begun, as he associates it only with sleep. (And car trips. And diaper changes. But that's it. Really.)

Transition #2: "Operation Make Room for Baby"

While we were unraveling poor Weston's world, we thought we may as well move him to a big boy bed. Shall we potty train him this week too?? We'll give him a month or so, then maybe... Here you see night one and night two of the transition. His sleeping positions were a crack up.

It has been a rough adjustment, mostly because I chose to start him sleeping on a toddler mattress on the floor. It was just too easy to slink off to sneak a toy or book. He already takes FOREVER to fall asleep so this added temptation did not help. I have spent many hours so far sitting in his room while he tries to fall asleep. I finally moved him to a twin bed and box springs but before I could do that I had to break down and buy a bed rail (I had previously just borrowed them but that dear friend gave hers away leaving me high and dry - just kidding Lori!). Sleep since then has been improving.

Transition #3: Davis Goes to First Grade

Far more sentimental than I, Davis said: "Be sure and take a picture of me in my backpack, Mom. And then put it in my baby book, alright?" It took some convincing before he was willing to turn all the way around and face me for even one picture. And then the school bus wisked him away for SIX WHOLE HOURS.

Upon arriving home, I asked him how his day was. Unlike most all kids in the world, his answer was more than the standard one or two word answer. No, this boy is his father's son (believe it or not, Ryan talks more than I do). How was school? "It was good. My classroom is small. We have play centers. I know four kids in my class already. Mrs. Baker is nice. I ate everything in my lunch...." I should not have been surprised to get so much information, but I was.

Transition #4: Jackson's Playmate is Gone All Day

This transition was much more dificult than I expected. Poor little guy was at a loss, missed his brother so much, and was generally an emotional mess. He had a regular scream-fest nearly every day. Everything was a travesty, all day long. Everything was a defiance. Now, the end of week two, he has made the transition and a delightful bi-product of Davis' absence has surfaced: a brand new relationship between big brother Jackson and little brother Westen. So endearing. Here are the two boys, spontaneously reading side-by-side. I look forward to watching Jackson step up to the plate as "the biggest brother in the house," and the development and growth of this friendship.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


Thanks to everyone who prayed for me in preparation for the talk I gave today. I slept incredibly well the night before (better than I have in about a year, I would say). The points I wanted to cover I feel like I covered. I did not run over-time. People smiled me through the entire 50 minutes. And I HAD A BLAST! And if you were there and one of the ones smiling at me, THANKS!!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

My Picks: Best Books for Parenting, Compiled

Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth, M.D. If sleep is a struggle, or if you are afraid that sleep might become a struggle, read up on this book for sound research and (hopefully) great results. Great for a mom with an infant, or a mom with a child of any age that does not sleep through the night, has trouble going to sleep, or is not adjusting to their own bed, or any number of sleep-related issues going all the way up to the teen years.
Raising Godly Tomatoes by Elizabeth Krueger. The best book out there for godly instruction on the yearly years of child training. It is an excellent book for a mom with an 18-24 month old and beyond. One caveat that must be mentioned: She advocates keeping your children isolated from the world. The decision to do or not do this while your children are young is one that must be left up to how God leads your family. Regardless of what your family chooses, the help in this book is unmatched for its parenting advice.
Parenting the Heart of Your Child by Diane Moore. Great book for getting a big picture of the various stages your kids will need you to coach them through, as well as some tips for where you are now. Good for mom’s with 3-4 year olds and beyond.
“Don’t Make Me Count to Three!” by Ginger Plowman. An excellent resource for learning how to biblically teach, train and discipline our kids. Great for Mom’s with kids around 4-5 years old and beyond.

What are YOUR top picks?!?

Friday, September 5, 2008

The Roller Coaster Way, and other small annoyances

We can arrive to our driveway going one of two ways: the regular way, or what my husband once called The Roller Coaster Way. Either way gets us home in equally short times, one just has a series of small up and downs while the other is quite flat and straight.

Jackson loves The Roller Coaster Way. Loves it. He excitedly asks for it whenever we near the intersection to turn onto it. Davis, on the other hand, has developed a distain for going this way. In my opinion, he has no reason to hate it other than to annoy his little brother. (Let me add, in all fairness, that this is such an unusual position for Davis to take on an issue.) As Jackson is yipping "turn! turn! turn!" Davis is yelling, "NO! We ALWAYS go that way and I HATE THAT WAY!"

What a predicament I find myself in. I can please only one in the car. If I am to ever get home, I must choose one way or another and no matter what I choose, one of my boys is completely devastated (no exaggeration, here). What is a mother to do? I suppose I could keep track and go straight one day and turn the next day. Or I could listen to the first voice I heard and go that way, or I could even use my popsicle stick method...

Instead, I have solved this dilemna with this phrase: "Davis, it is my good pleasure to do this small thing for Jackson and I delight to give him this simple thing each and every time he asks kindly."

"BUT THAT'S NOT FAIR! YOU KNOW HOW MUCH I HATE IT!!" He says through tears.

"Yes, you have made it very clear how much you hate it. And I understand that it even is not "fair" to you. But this decision is not about you, my love. It is about Jackson. There are many times when I base desicions purely upon the fact that I delight to please you, and this is one decision that I make based purely upon my delight to please Jackson."

Of course, before I could say this to him, I had to come up with an example of this that applied to Davis. I actually had to wrack my brain a bit but came up with a perfect example: Every night (well, not EVERY night) after I read to D and J, I send Jackson off to bed. Then I pull out a chapter book that is right at Davis' level and read only to him - this is a routine I do purely because I know how it pleases Davis. In fact, it means the world to him. And even when he has been a pill and does not deserve it, and even when he really should go to bed early that night, I still do this small thing for him.

And upon explaining that to him, he settled down a bit about The Roller Coaster Way.

It reminds me of the verse that tells us how good a gift-giver our God is, "If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him! (Mt 7:11). And it encourages me to seek God's wisdom in parenting rather than our own limited "wisdom." I hope you are equally encouraged.

Monday, September 1, 2008

I'll stay employed

Every so often, I have to remind Davis that he is not the mom... He gets "big brother syndrome" and adds a very mommy-esk tone and then lets Jackson know what his current offense is: "Jackson, you KNOW what happens when you fuss..." or "I am not going to let you have this banana unless you ask nicely..."

I let Davis know that I am the mommy and that his job is to be "the encouraging older brother." Sometimes, when he is being particularly thick with mommy words and tones I tell him tongue-in-cheek that he is going to put me out of a job - that he better stop doing my job or I will have to find another family that needs a mom since he is doing my job for me.

So tonight, I had my hands full with my two younger ones. They were both fussing at everything in the worst ways. One was so out of control that I eventually had to put him in the shower - fully clothed - and cool him off. In the middle of it all Davis, who was quietly playing trains while I was alternating between tantrumming children, said "I guess they are making sure you have a job today!"