30 May 2008

sweet baby haven~

~happy 1st birthday haven!~

I've been meaning to write down Haven's birth story, for, well, about a year now, so I figured in honor of my sweet baby turning one, today would be a great day to do it.

Well, to start at the beginning, I'll give you a little background. First of all, all of my children (except Caleb who was born on his due date) have been early. Like from 8 days early to 20 days early. So, as Haven was due on 17 May, and wasn't actually born until 30 May, that made for a very, very l o n g amount of time that we were just...waiting. I am a huge planner, like, I still have 4 containers of Tide that I stocked up on before he was born and the amount of food I had in the freezer lasted us a good 6-8 months, I still have 5 more boxes of toothpaste in the cabinet, and still have some diapers that I got before. Like I said, I'm a planner and slightly ocd. So, my house was entirely clean and we were ready to go a solid three weeks before he was due. As he was 13 days late...I was going slightly crazy, wondering just exactly how large this child was going to be (Anna was 20 days early from her original due date and weighed 8#10oz, and Ethan was 11 days early and weighed 9#6oz. My dates were right, and my awesome sister in law had an 11lb baby just months earlier, so this was no small thought, people!). I was beginning to become obstinate in declaring "I don't care what the midwife says, I am not going to the hospital, I'll just hide out in the basement and he will eventually decide to be born, I mean, no one stays pregnant forever...". Not to mention that we had end of the year New Song stuff (you should have seen me at field day!), my sister was finishing up nursing school, my aunt (the teacher) was finishing up her school year, my mother in law who is a tremendous help but who has two autistic high school age sons that were about to be out of school for the summer, and Glen's work schedule, made for a lot of people trying to schedule when this baby should be born. Oh yeah, and did I mention that my midwife had all five of her children/spouses coming in from out of town for Memorial Day? Oh yeah, and I had been hospitalized with pneumonia a few weeks prior. Anyway, it was slightly crazy :o)

So, Sunday before he was born, the day before Memorial Day. I started taking blue/black cohosh. Tastes gross, but you know, whatever works. Didn't work. Didn't actually think it would. I tend to think babies will be born when they're good and ready, and if you force it before your body and your baby is ready, well, often not such a good idea. So, waiting, waiting, waiting.

Okay, so, finally, around 2:30ish on Wednesday, 30 May, I woke up with what seemed like the real thing. Finally. I love waking up in the middle of the night in labor. It's happened with four of my children, and I had been asking God the whole time to please let it happen that way again. It's just really cool to wake up and know today is the day. Then I usually sit around for awhile, the house is nice and quiet, I take a nice long bath, see the sun rise, call the midwife, and wa la! a baby is born about an hour later. Funny how things don't always go exactly the way we plan. Ha ha. I should probably add here that my whole pregnancy, I had pretty consciously been aware of the Lord preparing me for what would be an out-of-the-norm-for-me labor, and especially once I realized this was to be my first late baby, and as I realized this was going to be a really late baby, I began to really know something was going to be different. So I was prepared.
Sort of.

So, everything went according to my previously laid plans as stated above, except the baby an hour later part. I was in labor, still pretty comfortable, just not moving along nearly as fast as all my other babies. Hmmm. Back began hurting more than usual. Called Glen to come home around lunch time (I had sent him to work to wrap up a few things knowing he would head back when I called). Still thinking, normally we would have had a baby several hours ago. Glen's home, on the phone with work (do these people not realize their door knobs and garage remodels can wait until tomorrow! Gee, does my husband not realize their door knobs and garage remodels can wait until tomorrow?), and every contraction I'm kicking him, pointing at my back..up, down, left, right...push harder...get offf the phone already! Not calling the midwife as I just like to be left alone in the calmness and quietness until I feel I have just enough time for her to get here to deliver.

5pm-ish, finally call her as it's getting more intense. She gets here, checks me, sets up. Still no baby. Get to 10cm, she has me push a little, even though I don't have the urge yet, just to kind of assess progress. Finally, she and her assistant realize Haven is posterior. No worries, not a huge deal, they've actually had 8 posterior babies in the last two months, it just makes for a longer labor and harder pushing. Like I said, not a huge deal. Unless you're in active labor trying to contort your 13 day overdue body into Chinese acrobat-type positions in the name of trying to get your baby to turn already. Yeah right.

I have no idea what my kids did all day. Thankfully, they're pretty self sufficient. Plus they had Glen and Anna around to keep them in line. Toward the end there, Anna and Moriah were on the bed with me, rubbing my arm, and Caleb and Ethan would periodically run to the bedroom door, peek in and see me bent over during a contraction (thankfully, I'm a pretty quiet labor-er), make "oh my gosh-that is such a girl thing-gross!" type faces while trying not to laugh and run off again. Noah was probably lining up blocks somewhere. Who knows? Not me.

So, a couple of hours pass of trying to get this baby to turn. Lying down and pushing a little here and there to see if we can just make some progress in getting him to come out sunny side up. Nothing is saying imminent delivery. I'm lying on the bed, Glen is sitting in front of the bed, the midwife and her assistant are across the room writing something down. I decide to stand up and move around a little. Well, Haven must have decided to turn right then, because as soon as I stood up, I felt him come down. Far. As in he's coming out right now. I leaned over on Glen, yelled "head", and he fell out. Literally. Glen and the midwife dove for him and caught him inches above the floor. Still in his water bag. The cord snapped, so both of us are bleeding out all over the place, he's still in the bag, so he's cut off from oxygen, and no one was ready. It was a very chaotic minute or so. Not to mention that my NICU nurse sister who had never made it to one of my home births before, happened to arrive in my front door right as I yelled head, and walked into my bedroom door right as he fell out :o) The assistant has Haven on the bed trying to break and peel off his water bag. I was facing away from the bed, so I never got to see it, but she said it was actually really neat. She said Haven was just in there with his eyes open looking around. He wasn't actually in any distress yet, and she was able to break it in about 30 seconds. Meanwhile, Susie, the midwife, is taking care of me, getting the cord tied off and getting me back on the bed. It was very exciting and definitely the easiest "pushing" stage ever.

Everyone was fine and soon after, my aunt and other sister arrived. There's always such a rush of adrenaline after I have a baby. Being at home is wonderful. As it was around 9pm, Glen went and got the kids in bed and laid down on the couch in the living room while my aunt, my two sisters, the midwife and her assistant, and me were all back in the bedroom laughing, taking care of post-baby stuff, recounting the amazing birth, and just having a great time.

I can't wait to do it again :o)


Happy Birthday Sweet Baby...

We sure do love you!

23 May 2008

life around here~

Even though we school year round, there's something about the end of May that brings with it that end of the year feeling. For the most part, everyone has finished up the current year's work, and has begun a new grade. Just this morning, I announced, "Hey! You guys are 5th, 3rd, and 1st graders now! And...we have an up-and-coming Kindergartner! Yay, Moriah!" Well, everyone thought the graduation should be rewarded with oh, say....something from the candy basket. So, why not? Sure, you want to celebrate your boundless knowledge by rotting your teeth and filling up on sugar, be my guest :o) Just kidding...I'm not a total meanie!

The last few weeks have been really full. We've been finishing up school, evaluating what to do/work on over the summer, spring cleaning, getting out spring clothes and moving winter clothes around, and still really spending a lot of time thinking and praying about what to do for next year. We've been working on a budget and evaluating our income and spending habits, and bringing that aspect of school into the equation.

In all honesty, that has been a really, really hard one for me as I tend to approach things from the side of asking God what does He wants us to do about school (meaning stay home full time or continue on the plan of doing the Bethel/BCA tutorial stuff), and going from there, but after looking at, quite truthfully, our lack of budgeting like we should have been, we're evaluating what we should do from a financial standpoint. Nothing really major is going on, it's just that when Glen started his business four-ish years ago, we had a home equity line of credit that we used and have just never made the effort to pay off. Looking at "the economy" and the ongoing quest to bring our lives more and more into His will and following His Ways, it is really to our shame that we've let it hang around this long. So, the big question is do we pay it off faster at the expense of not doing any outside school this next year, or do we pay it off a little slower and do Bethel and BCA? Saying this is hard for me is probably the understatement of the year :o) For me, it's not just about economics. I felt like I had really heard from God about next year, but now I'm having to consider that maybe my husband's input into this is quite possibly just as much an answer about what we should do as all my "confirmations" and "leadings" are. Yikes! There is such a big picture here and gee whiz how I wish I knew what it was! Is life this intense for everyone else or am I just a serious over analyzer? I can't even get into all my thoughts (rabbit trails?) on this or I would be writing a serious novel :o)

On the upside, I am proud to say I have listened again to Directing Vision Daily all the way through once so far, and quite a bit of it several times. I can't say enough good about it. It is amazing and just exactly what I need in my relationship with all my children, but particularly the older ones. There is definitely a learning curve, and it requires a lot of patience, creativity, and quick thinking on my part, but I am slowly incorporating it into every day life and it is making a huge difference! It was long overdue and I am so thankful the Lord reminded me about it. It was a specific answer to a very specific prayer for how to deal with some growing um....tension, control battles, frustration, etc. I had to pretty much parent myself from the age of 14 (not to mention my very early years as well), so I am used to being in control. God, in his infinite wisdom (read: sense of humor?) gave me a daughter so like me it's ridiculous (iron sharpening iron?), and our burning desire to each do things "my" way was beginning to cause conflict. I am passionate about nurturing, building, and maintaining mother-daughter relationship so my heart cry for the last months has been for a literal breaking of something in me so that I can be the mother that first of all, the Lord made me to be, but also that my children need, and that I never learned how to be. It's been a long time since I wrote my first introduction where I talked about needing to break free from well, most of my childhood stuff, but I see my role as somewhat of a pioneer in that I desire to change the way my family lives as compared to how I was brought up. I did grow up in a Christian family, but it was (and still is) very co-dependant and my parents were too busy dealing with their own problems to pour into us. I want to be intentional in my mothering and basically, just do things right. Ha. Easier said than done. And that is why my life is all about Him, because I know that if it's even remotely about me, I'm going to fail miserably :o)

So anyway, it's been kind of funny to witness this attempt at changing my helicopter/drill sergeant mindset. When Ethan declares I'm unfair and I say "I know" he looks at me like I'm the craziest person in the world, but he thinks it's pretty funny too. Caleb is still asking how much he would have to pay me to do his jobs, but he thinks $4 for putting away his socks is pretty high, so he jumps on it pretty quick. Anna has actually been sick these last few days, so I've not been able to practice on her quite as much, but she is definitely enjoying her new, happier mama. If anyone has any ideas on how to incorporate this method with bossiness, I really need to know it. That's probably our number one thing we have to correct Anna about and it is beyond highly annoying. I'm really at a loss on how to handle this one.

And on a side note, we've lost a member of the pacifier club, and the other two are on restriction. Anyone want to guess who the drop out is? It's...Noah! And it was actually pretty easy. He's only asked for it about once a day, and only cried for about a minute one time. Moriah's been on restriction for awhile now, as I'm really kind of embarrassed to be one of those moms whose almost five year old still sneaks a paci. Haven is fine to leave it in his bed until he's tired, so hopefully the full blow habit will never develop :o)

I've got to run to fix dinner number two (I burned dinner number one). Happy Friday :o)

16 May 2008

the road that pretty much sucked~

Yeah, well, except it didn't.  I mean, if we're being technical.  Since I'm talking about a baby that wouldn't nurse and all.

For anyone that sees this and is confused I'm linking to this post from a different post where I talked about Everly not nursing.  I didn't really want to bore anyone with the details (unless they were interested for some reason) but I wanted to have a record of sorts of what happened for future reference.  So I'm just burying this one by backdating it.  I'm sure there's a much more blogger-savy way of doing it, but I don't know what it is.

Everly was born on Sunday morning.  She "seemed" to nurse and latch just fine that first day.  I noticed she didn't seem to nurse as much as the other kids had but you never know with different birth situations on how hungry, tired, worn out, etc. the baby is so I didn't really think about it a lot. That night she nursed a lot but I could tell she was not latched properly.  I was worn out and just let her nurse incorrectly.  I had a passing thought I might regret that later but then I promptly went back to sleep.

The next day my dad and my sister and her husband came to visit.  I remember that Everly was having a hard time being discreet and staying latched on but again I just chalked it up to being a newborn.  None of my other kids had ever had trouble with it so I just figured we'd get it worked out.

Once my milk started coming in I was really sore.  I lost a good chunk of skin and was bleeding some.  That had never happened to me before.  It was getting to the point where I could not nurse her it was so painful.  It wasn't the normal painful that would pass after 20 or 30 seconds.  It was like scorching, stinging pain.  I finally asked Glen to get a nipple shield in the hopes it would help her open her mouth and latch properly while simultaneously giving me a chance to heal up some.

It was better.  It helped.  It solved those problems.  But she was not getting satisfied.  I finally resorted to giving her a bottle believing she was a very new baby and the priority was making sure she was eating enough.  For the record I do believe that needed to be the priority but I wish at the time I had been aware enough of how things were going downhill and taken educated steps to turn them around.

Things were okay.  I was very frustrated and annoyed at having to use the shield and knew it wasn't doing anything for my milk supply.  I could sometimes get her to nurse without it but I had to sit there with a feeding syringe filled with milk and shoot some into the corner of her mouth pretty regularly to get her to keep going.  I was trying to encourage her to learn to nurse without the shield (what I would give to go back to her nursing with a shield now!) but I didn't realize that it was most likely signifying that she was having a problem latching properly and getting the milk out.  Which in turn caused her to be frustrated and still hungry, which prompted me to feel the need to supplement with a bottle, which only caused her to learn that a bottle was easy.  This, I believe was our ultimate downfall.  If I had only known.

I briefly wondered if she was tongue tied.  The only other baby I had a bit of trouble nursing at first was Noah and he was tongue tied.  His was an obvious, simple tongue tie.  He didn't really have problems nursing I just noticed I was staying sore much longer than normal.  We had his tongue clipped and everything was fine after that.  Everly's tongue didn't look like his so I didn't suspect a tongue tie.  Now that she is older and I watch her learning to make noises and discover her hands and even discover her tongue I am strongly suspecting that she may have more of a significant tongue tie.  Meaning that it's a wide tongue tie, her entire tongue seems to be attached further forward than normal.  It "looks" normal, I think that's why I didn't see it earlier, but it may be attached further forward even though it doesn't have an obvious frenulum. If that makes sense.  That would really explain pretty much every issue and it makes me so frustrated with myself that I didn't just pay more attention earlier.

I tried using a lact-aid which is one of those little things you put the milk in and attach the small tube to yourself so the baby gets lots of milk but also stimulates your supply.  In theory it should have worked but now since I think she is tongue tied it would explain why it did nothing for my supply.

And in hindsight I don't think it really was a supply problem.  I'd never had a supply problem before with a newborn so I thought it was weird, but since she was still obviously hungry I just assumed that was the problem.  If she is indeed tongue tied than it makes sense that it wasn't a supply problem but a problem with her ability to get it out.  And seeing as how I still have a lot of milk and she hasn't nursed in weeks I don't think I have a supply problem.

I also rented a hospital grade medela pump.  I'm not sure why it didn't work for me but I could barely get an ounce or two after 30-45 minutes of pumping.  I could get way more by hand expression.  Not a great long term solution as it made my hands terribly sore.  I kept the pump for a month but since it wasn't giving me hardly anything and was very expensive I returned it.

So eventually she was nursing less and less and began to highly prefer the bottle to the point where she would just cry and get angry if I tried to nurse.  I have tried tricking her while she was falling asleep, during her sleep, and when she would just wake up in be in a great mood.  None of it worked.  She still gets mad every time.

I'm still trying on occasion as and she gets older I'm just hoping that maybe one day she'll decide it's okay.


15 May 2008

$60 Free...Seriously Easy, Not A Gimmick~

**update~ as of friday morning the 16th,
it appears the promotion is still going on**

Well, I waited until the very last minute
as I wanted to make sure it actually works...
and what do you know?
It does!

So, today is the last day to sign up,
but you can really get $60free, with very little effort.
You sign up and
they credit your account $25 immediately,
then you request it to be transferred to your bank account.

It seems to work just like paypal.
You wait a couple of days for them to credit your bank account
with two small deposits, verify your account,
request the money to be transferred to your bank account,
and....wa la!
$25 free!

At the same time,
you refer your spouse,
thus earning you the $10 referal credit,
and he/she the $25 sign up credit.
Wa la...a total of $60!

I also am not sure when or if I'll ever use the account again, but hey...
a very nice, free date night!
It appears to be like paypal, so I guess they are trying to provide an alternative
and cash in on the online money transfer thing.

Anyway, today is the last day to sign up.
You only have to initiate the process by the 15th,
not actually complete it.

So, here it is...

Refer A Friend using Revolution Money Exchange
(The easiest and quickest way to do it, is when they credit your spouse's account,
have that money sent to your account.
That way you only have to link and verify one bank account.)

07 May 2008

a couple of questions answered~

I've gotten a couple of questions regarding The Taming of the Two, that I'll just try and answer really quickly.

First, is it too late to teach older kids to be able to stop and/or control their crying when disciplined?

No way! We didn't know about teaching our kids this until Noah. In a way, it's probably a little easier to teach them the concept of what you mean since they are older (they understand the words "be quiet" and "cry quietly" or "stop crying"), but it's a little more difficult to get them to actually harness their self control if they've previously been allowed to protest loudly when they're in trouble.

With Ethan and Moriah (the main two we've had to actually teach this to as Anna and Caleb are older and get the concept perfectly, even if they don't like it) we just kind of explained that it was no longer going to be okay for them to scream, throw a fit, cry super loud, etc. if they were being disciplined or just mad at someone. Screaming and yelling need to be reserved for when you really need help and it was not okay to be overly hysterical when being disciplined or when you're angry. We explained it ahead of time, and in the event they are going to be disciplined, we remind them ahead of time. We do tell them if it's a spanking that they will receive an extra spank or two if they throw a fit. It really doesn't take very long for them to know that you seriously expect them to hold in their cries or at least cry softly. If they know they will be in further trouble if they throw a fit, they will stop being hysterical and master self control.

If you have a particularly stubborn child (as is Moriah), sometimes this can turn into a big hairy deal with loud hysterics and running and hiding. In that case, just keep your cool, be very aloof, but fight it through to the end. I've been known to have to securely hold a child with all of my strength waiting for them to calm down. Once they have calmed down (after a particularly hysterical event), then follow through with whatever consequence you decide (spanking, loss of privilege, etc.)

Anyway, so we basically explained it, and if they started to do it, we reminded them to stop. As it's training, they probably won't do it the first time on command (or second, or third...but they will begin to get the picture). So, we gather the child into our arms, or onto our lap, hold them securely and put our hand over his or her mouth (again, just their mouth, not their nose...obviously) to help them calm down. It's basically them learning to close their mouth instead of opening it and yelling, so placing our hand over their mouth serves to help them learn to just keep it closed and hold in their cry. (This always sounds so mean when you type it out, but I promise it's not.) If they continue to cry loudly and protest, remind them they will get a spank, and if they don't begin to make an attempt to bring their loud crying under control (you'll see them actually working through the process of calming down), then follow through. If you see an attempt being made, encourage them, and continue to hold them until they are calm.

It is actually pretty neat to watch a young child mastering control over the outward expression of their anger or frustration. Obviously, you want to deal with root problems, heart issues, etc. and not just teach them to stuff it, but I'm specifically talking about teaching them to not throw a fit. With our older kids especially, when discipline has gotten to the point of a spanking, a good (often long) conversation usually follows to draw out the heart issue and find out what's really going on. So again, I'm not talking about stuffing or ignoring emotions and not dealing with things, I am purely talking about being able to cry quietly.

And for the record, crying is perfectly acceptable when you're hurt or sad :o)

A Little More on Blanket Training...

I didn't have a way to get in touch with Christy who asked me about it (hi!), I thought I'd just answer it here.

I have mainly two areas that I do this in. The first place is a large area rug (5x8) that is right in the middle of our house. It is right in the middle of all the activity as our floor plan is pretty much completely open. I put the baby/child on it (this can also be taught when they're older), show them the boundaries, touch the rug, say "stay on the rug," touch the floor, say "no, no. don't go off the rug." Touch rug, say "yes," touch the wood floor, say "no." Repeat a few times in a totally cheerful, happy mood. They are not at all in trouble, I'm not trying to convey displeasure, after all, I want them to be happy on the rug. Make sure you have some toys, books, entertainment of some sort available in the area you want them to stay.

I stay right by them, at first paying attention to them. When they stick their little hand or foot off the rug, place them firmly back within bounds, and repeat as above. I'll repeat it two or three times before I give them a little swat. But I stay cheerful! This is key. I still stay with them giving little swats each time they test the waters until they decide to comply. As I don't want this to turn into a crying session, after I give a swat, I will attempt to occupy them with the toys. Then I walk off a little, still very close by, but I'll wash dishes, or read, or whatever (make them think the police are otherwise occupied!). As soon as they decide to test me again, I'm on top of it, cheerfully giving them a little swat, putting them back with the toys. At first, they will probably not want the toys as they're beginning to get a little mad at their new found lack of previous freedom, but if you just ignore their crying a little, they will decide to eventually get over it and occupy themselves.

If you have a baby that is just getting really upset at the whole process, stay and play with them long enough to distract them and get them happy. Then walk away and expect them to stay. Again, like all training, it's a process, you will probably have to repeat the scenario over and over, and it will take a little time at the outset, but it will be well worth it, and your child will learn to play within bounds happily. I believe it really fosters the use of creativity and imagination as they learn to have fun in a defined area.

The other area I use is actually our school room (that isn't actually used for school as all my kids like to sprawl all over the rest of the house, thereby leaving the school room free for the little kids to play in). It's a room off of the main area with french doors, so it's a little more confined, but I just teach them to stay on the carpet (the area outside the doors is wood) by showing them the "line" as mentioned earlier.

I do want to say that I don't use it as a way to ignore my children or their needs, it's just a way for them to play safely, happily, and learn obedience and how to play on their own. I know a lot of moms who feel that they can never get away from their children as their children have become very dependant on being entertained by mom and never learn to play by themselves. A child's ability to play by him/herself is a vital skill. That's never been a problem around here, although I have noticed that Noah and Haven are a lot more used to being entertained by someone at all times so I've had to make it a point to allow them to have some alone time.

A couple of useful links for blanket training are Moms and More and Life In A Shoe (she also explains some common misconceptions, what blanket training is not, and is kind of funny about it). It is really along the same lines as teaching your child to not touch something breakable, not to grab your glasses, not to pull plates off the table, not to touch a Christmas tree, etc. Also, I do not use a wooden spoon, rod, paddle, etc. in teaching them. Around here the whole process is done happily and cheerfully.

And now, for my confession...
in case anyone comes over,

I have not actually blanket trained Haven yet, that little guy has free run of the place
well, except for pack n play time, but that's another topic :o)

02 May 2008

the taming of the two~

I will apologize up front...
yes, it is another novel...

The proverbial two...terrible twos, terrific twos.

I get more questions about two year olds than anything else. I guess you all think since I've done it coming up on six times that I must have some answers...ha ha. Noah is my most challenging two yet. Has it occurred to anyone that maybe God has allowed me to experience the twos five times thus far because I'm really hard headed and tend to learn lessons the hard way? Maybe the refining that God wants to do in parents can be accomplished in some people with two or three but for me takes ___ (pick your number)?

All joking aside, I've recently had several people ask me some specific questions about two year old issues. While I in no way claim to know everything (or even much at all), I am glad to pass on what I have learned/am learning, and the resources that I go to.

Valuable Resources:

As with any and all of the resources I mention, each one is to be weighed in light of scripture, and in light of God's vision for your family. No man, woman, ministry, organization, etc. is perfect, nor infallible. I'm just laying it out there saying this is what we've used and what's worked for us. Not every resource works for every child, nor will it mesh with every parenting style or personality. And we do not subscribe to any of these methods or philosophies hook, line, and sinker. We've taken what works for us and discarded the rest.

The first resource that proved invaluable to Glen and I in our baptism by fire (Anna was your textbook strong-willed child) and that we were so thankful to be introduced to right as we needed guidance and practical advice, was the No Greater Joy ministry, specifically the To Train Up A Child books. Michael Pearl is highly respected, and highly despised. For us, his child training advice was wonderful. In my opinion, since he has five grown children, all happily married, all involved in some way in the ministry with their parents, enjoying great relationship with their parents into adulthood, he must know a thing or two. He values first time obedience, tying heart strings, corporal punishment without anger, administered in love, and training. His training advice is awesome, one of mine and Glen's most used tools in toddler hood, and I will talk more about it later.

We love anything by Focus on the Family as both of us were raised listening to Dr. Dobson on the radio. Another excellent website with a wealth of information, a lot of it very practical and very specific, is Raising Godly Tomatoes. It is written from a large family perspective, but is excellent. Think "... a child left to himself disgraces his mother." Proverbs 29:15

Directing Vision Daily is by Danny Silk at Bethel Church in Redding, California, and is reminiscent of Parenting With Love and Logic. They come into play more as your children grow and are all about giving choices, natural consequences, and learning responsibility. I am in dire need of refreshing myself in these ideas as it's been awhile and I am sorely out of practice.

I also really like Raising Your Children In Grace by Liberated Living Ministries. It opened up a whole new way of thinking for me in regards to teaching my children to listen to the Holy Spirit themselves instead of feeling that I needed to be their holy spirit (and trust me, He is much kinder and gentler than I am).

For infants, babies, and even young toddlers, Secrets of the Baby Whisperer and the Babywise books were helpful. I know Babywise is very controversial, and I will say that we do not follow a by the clock feeding routine for our babies. We do utilize a eat, play, sleep routine laid out by the Baby Whisperer that literally revolutionized our life when Noah was born, but we do not feed by the clock. I attribute the ability to lay Noah and Haven down in their bed, whenever needed, and they will go right to sleep, sometimes playing quietly for awhile, even if they are not tired. I obviously don't do this often (meaning lay them down when it's not actually nap time), but when I'm pregnant, I have been known to have 9:30 or 10am nap time around here :o) Babywise is really good for training your babies and toddlers to play in a pack n play, their room, or any area with boundaries. But again, that is where the training tool comes into play.

These are the few resources I can think of off the top of my head.

A couple of specific questions I've received...

I have an almost 5 year old and a 2 1/2 year old. Both boys. Our 2 1/2 has been a textbook two year old. When he is sweet, he is so sweet and loving, but we have had a long season of tantrums, things thrown in anger/frustration, hitting other children, going literally berserk at diaper changes, clothing changes, etc. I am that mom in grocery stores and the like who you both dread because I am there and pity. I have been consistent (mostly) with discipline to what seems like no avail. Truly, no improvement whatsoever. Is there any advice you could offer me? I completely broke down today in tears. I feel like I've tried everything. Thank you for your time :) (BTW- I am a Christian. My husband and I are very committed to training them up in godly instruction and Biblical discipline. Our family is filled with much love. We're just stressed and perplexed as to what to do.)

I will first say that the part of when he is sweet, he is so sweet and loving, but we have had a long season of.... describes Noah to a "t". He is such a sweetie. Absolutely adorable. But if you catch him in a grumpy mood, or move one of his carefully arranged (fill in the blank), you'd better watch out! So mom, I am in the boat with you!

My first response would be to ask if Mom and Dad are both on board with expectations and discipline methods. Two year olds are boundary testers. They want to know where the lines fall. Then, they will test the boundaries to see if they are rubber bands or more of say..., an electric fence type boundary :o) They really do find security and are more at peace when they know what to expect. I've seen this play out more and more with each child as they observe their older siblings actions. That being said, even when there are firm boundaries, each child is different and some of those twos will test that electric fence over and over and over and over and over....

Then, I would ask about spanking. Yes, the S word. I believe it is Biblical when done without anger and in love, with lots of hugs and kisses (and prayers), immediate forgiveness and restoration of fellowship. For a two year old, spankings are more of firm swats often done within the context of training sessions, but depending on the age (new twos are vastly different than almost threes), they will be used for discipline when there has been outright disobedience and/or rebellion. So I asked this mom about spanking...

Yes, we are OK with spanking. We don't use our hand, but rather another little "rod" of sorts for that. Even doing that though, my son will go into even greater hysterics- the heaving and sobbing kind. We can't even get to any kind of attitude change, or even a breakthrough in understanding that what he has done is wrong...

I understand the use of a rod, we do that as well when they are older, but when they are young, it is often more traumatic and removes the "right then and now association" if you have to retrieve a rod or paddle. We probably switch to a rod around the age of four when spankings are given as a result of direct disobedience. I use the term spanking in two ways. In the younger years, it is rarely an actual spanking, it is usually a stinging swat in order to train. As they grow older, it is more of what is commonly referred to as "spanking" in that it is given as a result of direct disobedience. That is when we use a rod/paddle. Make sense? Please don't think I'm saying the use of a rod in the younger years is wrong or that you should change the way you do things. I totally understand the concept of hands being used for love that a lot of parents lean toward, and I respect that. I'm just saying how we do things.

All I can do is answer as to what I would do in that situation. I wouldn't worry too much about attitude change other than them just learning to submit to your authority. They don't really have to understand why at that age, they are more in a training stage of learning what behaviour is acceptable and what is not. It is probably basic two year old defiance/boundary testing, and all they really need to understand is that the behaviour was not okay, there is a consequence, and mom or dad is going to win. It's more of a lesson in association with behaviour and consequence. As far as the hysterics, I will talk in a few minutes about trainging your child to be quiet on command or to at least cry quietly. If it were my child (and it has been, believe me!), as soon as the hysterics started, I would immediately switch to the training/discipline being targeted at the hysterics. Once they have regained their self control, I would hold firm in winning the first battle. This process can take a little while the first few times, but once they learn what is expected, it goes very quickly. I promise. I will also say, though, that sometimes the hysterics and sobbing just need good old fashioned comforting. Hold your position, but just empathize and comfort.

Another thing I would think of asking is if life has been out of order. Is there parental conflict, issues with an older sibling, a move, anything to cause insecurity? This mom sounds like her home is a loving, safe place and she is just dealing with a "very two" two year old, but these are just thoughts off the top of my head.

My specific responses to some of these issues are:

tantrums and things thrown in anger~ sounds to me like your typical communication issues. All of our kids have done this, particularly when they are frustrated at their inability to communicate. We laugh and walk away from tantrums. For throwing something in anger, I would probably say firmly, "No. We do not throw things.", give one firm swat that stings (not on a diaper, not through clothing. On the leg, or on the hand if he is wearing pants) and then try and help them figure out what they need or want.

hitting other children~ pretty much the same as above. It is usually done out of frustration and not meanness, but unacceptable, nonetheless. I would say "No, no. We do not hit people.", give the firm swat (probably two or maybe three) and remove them from the situation, but preferably leave them in view of the fun that may be going on. This will involve the mom quite possibly having to hold a very mad child firmly in her lap as long as it takes for he or she (the child, not the mom - ha ha) to calm down. If it happens in the context of play dates, you may need to explain to the other mom or moms upfront that you are training your child and that if it happens, to carry on as normal and just ignore the mad child. Depending on the age of the child, you could require an apology after he or she calms down.

going berserk at diaper/clothing changes~ we train (I promise I will explain) our children from pretty young to sit still when having his or her diaper changed. This involves a good natured smile and a sweet sounding "be still", coupled with yes, again, a swat that stings enough to cause an association with the action and pain. As this can be done from a pretty young age, we do not do it as punishment or discipline. It is approached from the viewpoint of associating an undesirable action with mild pain. The child doesn't see us as the bad guy because we're smiling and talking sweetly, he just learns that his leg hurts a little if he wiggles a lot during a diaper change. As far as changing clothes, it would probably be helpful to offer a couple of choices, but if it turns into a battle of the will, I'd just stick it out until I won. On a side note, and I will explain this in further detail as well, we do not let our children go berserk. We teach them how to be quiet and have self control over their emotions. It is really quite cool and I have to completely credit Glen with teaching me it was possible for a young child to master this skill.

That's just what my initial thoughts would be. I would advise spending some time reading at the Raising Godly Tomatoes site, the No Greater Joy books, and lots of cuddling and just following mom around learning to be helpful. Two year olds want Independence, and if you give it to them in appropriate, measured doses, they will not demand it so much at inopportune times. I would also recommend a toddler boot camp, kind of basic training. But trust me, we've all been the Mom In The Grocery Store :o)

I would also say, it is important to win. Every time. Especially if your child is in a testing the boundaries stage. I have several memories of literally sitting down in the floor, and (for example) saying "Put the block in the basket," and having the child refuse, getting a spank, and me repeating until they choose obedience. It sounds mean on the surface, but I am training for the long term. I'm concerned about first of all, their hearts, but also with the mindset that I'm raising adults. How much easier it will be for them to obey us as parents as they get older, future employers or others they are under, and most importantly obey God if they are literally "trained" in obedience from a young age.

Let me also add, to this mom in particular as she has been consistent and not seen much improvement, that sometimes, it just takes time, and really, it's hard, but it's really okay. You're not a bad mom, you're not doing something wrong, you're not failing your children, you're not ruining them, you're not failing God, it's not you. Sometimes you just have to cry out for mercy and breakthrough and wait for the maturity level to kick in. Chalk it up to the Holy Spirit doing His refining work in your character as you learn to persevere, trust/lean on/cling desperately to God, and practice kindness, gentleness, patience, and all those great fruits of the spirit that for me anyway, often seem to grow very slowly and fall off the tree right as I begin to think I'm the one doing the fruit growing :o)

"Hi Shyla, I just have a quick question. It is really hard for my husband and I to take our children to church. How do you do it with six? I know you like to keep your children in church with you, but how do you do it and not annoy or distract everyone around you? And are you able to actually get anything out of your worship time?"

Okay, for those of you that have actually sat behind/in front of/in view of my family or (gasp!) even on the same row with us at church, don't fall on the floor laughing or point and yell hypocrite :o) What I'm going to say is an ideal, a perfect Sunday, not something we've actually achieved to perfection.

First of all, we attend a very "grace oriented" church. Our roots go back to home church, graduating to a gym with a rug and little kids dancing all over the place and parents with strollers. It has grown to standing room only, and sadly, the rug is gone, but the attitude of grace toward children is still there. That being said, we highly value the example it sets for our children of just going. Every week. Unless we're sick. We don't wake up and say we don't feel like it (sometimes we don't), we're too tired (often we are, we do not have a good track record of night sleeping babies, you'll have to find advice about that somewhere else!), or it's too hard (it is hard, at first. It does get easier. But it's still not perfect.) Glen and I both grew up going to church every week, and we think it is important to not get the idea into our children's heads that how we feel is to be used as an excuse to not go. Because there is always an excuse :o) This is not legalism, this is loyalty, faithfulness, perseverance and habit forming.

Do we get a lot out of our worship time? Well, I get loads of snuggles. My kids are virtual monkeys on me. We are constantly picking up, passing off, switching babies, and I'm often found with two kids in my lap and two more leaning on either side. So yes, you could say I get something out of it :o) Spiritually? Yes, in bits and pieces. I am in a season where my life is about discipling and setting an example. I need to be getting spiritually fed in my own quiet time (which truthfully, is a struggle for me to prioritize) and not expecting it all to come from church. Although I do struggle with setting aside time every day, I am in constant communion with the Father and I do read my Bible, so I don't need my relationship to flow solely from "attending."

So do my kids act crazy? No. They do not. They move around a lot because there are a lot of them and they like to take turns with Glen and me, and they like to take turns holding the baby and entertaining him, but they have been trained in how to act. We don't let them have games, we do allow small toys for the younger ones. We don't let them hang over the back and watch/play with other children. Our older ones (mid-two on) are expected to sit forward. Our even older ones are expected to listen and follow along with the songs. This is accomplished through stated expectations and lots of reminders. We do try and train them from a young age (12ish months) to sit in our laps quietly, and this has to initially be done at home, usually at Bible story time. It is actually much easier than it sounds, and I feel it is highly valuable as it is a lesson in self control. We tell our children it is the one time of week that we set aside specifically for God as His time, and it is to be treated as a privilege and with respect.

"My son hates naptime. He used to be fine when it was time to lay down, but recently he's been getting out of his bed."

At this point, several people I can think of off the top of my head are thinking "that's me, I asked that question." Trust me, a lot of people ask me that question. Just so everyone knows, it happens to all of them. At least all of mine. For one thing, all my children have gone through cycles where they don't need naps for a week or two (we still require them, though), but then they fall back into the routine. Most of our children have outgrown them fully when they are around five. We still have quiet time for all ages as it is mostly so I can have quiet time. The older ones are allowed to play quietly.

Anyway, when our kids have done this, the first time we put them back in their bed and tell them it's time to go to sleep and not to get out of bed again. Some won't test the waters...yet. When they do, it becomes a battle that I have to win. They climb out, I spank them, lay them back down, tell them in no uncertain terms to not get out of bed again or they will get another spanking, and then leave. Some will cry, I then employ our "be quiet method," and help them regain self control, then I leave. If they get out of bed again, I repeat. Sometimes this will require sitting outside their bedroom door for the entire naptime until they give in. In my experience, our kids have had enough training by then to know we mean business and will only get out once, twice, maybe three times at the most. But if it's a new thing, be prepared to stick it out. Trust me, it's worth it!


To give credit where credit is due, pretty much all the techniques and methods I have I have learned through mainly the above mentioned resources or the moms on the MOMYS board. I do often (especially Monday mornings) ask God to just give me specific wisdom, discernment, insight, and practical answers for what I deal with in every child. Sometimes this comes in the form of divine revelation, sometimes through the Word (think Proverbs especially), but often it comes through resources, whatever they may be. Do they always work perfectly? Of course not. But they sure are helpful most of the time. If you try it and it fails, ask God to give you insight into what you need to do. And you know, sometimes it's a stage. It's just a process of growing up. And truthfully, I'm usually learning just as much, if not more, than my child. The Holy Spirit OFTEN uses my children as a mirror.

Routine~ For all kids, of all ages, this is key. They know what to expect and when to expect it. My kids don't fight naptime or jobs (for the most part) because they know it's just what we do. Job time is job time. School time is school time. Quiet time is quiet time. Period. The little ones don't question it because the big ones don't :o)

Tomato Staking~ Glen is actually the master at this, but he couldn't even tell you the term. It's really just keeping your kids with you in whatever you are doing. It is particularly helpful to bring someone back in line when they are testing the waters. It fosters fellowship and helpfulness and gives a sense of responsibility and being needed to the little ones, but can also be effectively utilized as a consequence or discipline for the older ones. For the little ones it's a fun privilege to do laundry, help with dinner, etc. and for the older ones it's a loss of freedom and independence if things are out of whack. It also builds fellowship between parents and older kids too if it's done in the spirit of just hanging out together and enjoying one anothers company and not being utilized as a discipline technique. Did that make sense?

Training~ This is the big one and the best one in my opinion. It can start very, very early. Definitely before the age of one. It is exactly what it sounds like. It happens in the safety and context of home. We teach them at home so that when we're in public, they already know how to respond. There are different guidelines, boundaries, and methods depending on the age of the child and the situation, but here is some of what we do in a nutshell.

1. Basic Training/Boot Camp: We initially do this with our babies and it is done as explained earlier. Not as a punishment, it is purely training. It is often done proactively. When we see the need arise (think plates getting pulled off the table, a coffee table with breakable things, a hot fireplace), we have training sessions. We set the child down with a desirable object within reach and we tell them to not touch. When they do, we spank their hand. Some people pull hair (gently) or thump the back of their head so that it's done out of sight. Kind of like I mentioned before in learning to associate pain with the action. We just spank their hand because we want them to learn the consequence of disobedience comes from mom and dad. We repeat until they master self control and choose to occupy themselves otherwise. We do it enough that they learn and understand what no means and what is expected. Usually it is said in a very happy voice, and we say "No, no, that's not for Haven. Don't touch!" Eventually, you can just say, "No, no, that's not for Haven, and they will obey." Obviously you wouldn't say Haven :o) You do have to do it often and repeat when necessary. (Teaching them to come when you call them falls under this category and I know parents that once their mobile infants are old enough to comprehend (this is key to a lot of things, gauge your child, we definitely don't want to discipline, etc. for something they can't comprehend!) they train them to come when called. We've not really done this much, although we do expect it when they are older.) Basic training/Boot camp needs to be repeated all throughout toddler hood, it will just evolve with the age of the child.

2. Blanket Training: I love this. I remember taking Anna to a party when she was a baby, laying out a blanket, showing her the boundaries, giving her a small swat once or twice when she tried to crawl off, but after that, she played happily and contentedly on the blanket for the rest of the party. Everyone was amazed. This can be done within the boundaries of a rug, a blanket, a room, etc. And it does not produce a miserable child sitting there sullenly, it allows them to master self control and learn to use their imagination and/or play happily with the toys and books provided. This is a wonderful tool for homeschooling moms as well.

3.Training to be quiet: This is another great thing that I credit Glen with. It is what most people don't think a small child can master and the idea doesn't even occur to them. It is what is most helpful in church or in public. We train our children to either be completely quiet, or cry quietly. When one of our children is angry after being told no or something along those lines, meaning they are crying out of anger, frustration, defiance, or rebellion, we teach them to stop. We say, "Be quiet." And we cover their mouth (not their nose!). We do not by any means prevent them from breathing, we just muffle the sound so that they understand what we mean. We then remove our hand. When they cry loudly again (they will, remember, they are learning how to gain self control and be quiet), we will spank their leg, say "be quiet," and cover their mouth again (same as before, not covering their nose or hindering breathing). You just have to repeat it unti they learn. They will. And it actually happens pretty quickly.

Here is an example of when this come in handy: Noah sees someone in church with a snack and wants some. Oh yeah, we don't do snack in church, not even for our little ones. Well, the baby is okay, but not two and up. We just take a snack in the car and then they get snack again in class, occasionally we will take apples or little bagels, but nothing involving baggies, cups, or pieces like goldfish or cheerios...but that's just us, you probably think we're really mean by now anyway :o) Okay, so he gets mad, begins to throw a fit and protest loudly. I'll hold him on my lap and tell him to be quiet. He immediately (okay, well sometimes I have to say it two or even three times...in the spirit of honesty and full disclosure) closes his mouth and holds in his cry. He knows how to be quiet and/or cry quietly. If he doesn't listen the first time I say it, I'll give him a small reminder swat to let him know I mean business, and he then masters self control. It really is amazing how well it works. It's great for those store tantrums!

Well, it is really, really late and I've been working on this all night. If I think of anything else I'll add to it later. Basically, most kids respond really well to non-negotiable boundaries. It's when Mom and Dad are too busy, too tired, too frustrated, etc. to enforce the boundaries that little people get out of control. I am just as guilty as anyone in this, my kids are not perfect, I am far from perfect. They're pretty good though, we get compliments mostly everywhere we go, and for that, I am extremely thankful. I will say that none of my children have been exceptionally challenging. None of them have any serious issues. I never want to make anyone feel that they are a failure! Some children are more challenging than others, this is just what has worked for us. I know it sounds like we spend a lot of time swatting and spanking, but truthfully, we don't. There is some at the outset of training, and the reminders, but once the expectations are laid out and the lines are drawn, it really makes for a happy, peaceful home. We have lots of fun together. Are there challenges? Absolutely! Loads! This has actually been a really good brain jog for me as we've gotton a lot more lax with the latter children. That probably explains why Noah is our "most two" two year old. I can think of several "boot camp" and tomato staking situations that need to be made a priority around here, and I've got to listen to the Danny Silk stuff again so that Anna and I can stop trying to out-control one another. Maybe someone could hold me accountable to that? Any takers?

Also, for me as a homeschooling mom, it is well worth it to take some days off school when needed to deal with discipline issues and have boot camp. If you're spending a lot of time re-acting to your kids, that's usually a big sign you need a boot camp and is time well spent. I've also learned that when I am spending a lot of time being angry and frustrated at particular behaviours, those are the issues I need to specifically focus on and put energy into changing. That same energy I'm putting into being frustrated needs to be redirected into proactively training my children and changing their behaviour.

So, anyone, please feel free to comment and add to these ideas. What has worked for you? What are some alternatives? Any questions? Other ideas? I would love to get a little discussion going and am always up for learning new tools and getting fresh ideas and perspective.

Good Night.

01 May 2008

happy birthday to caleb~

happy birthday to you,
you live in a zoo,
you look like a monkey,
but you smell kind of like coconut shampoo!

(in honor of caleb's all time favorite happy birthday song,
it was really only appropriate)

Happy Birthday, Bud!
I can't believe you're 8.
It's been so much fun watching you
grow into such a godly young man this year,
Dad and I are so, so proud of you.
May the Lord continue to bless you,
and may you know Him more,
and become more and more like Jesus.
We are so excited to watch you continue to
grow into the awesome man of God
He created you to be.
You are so cool,
and we love you more than we could ever tell you...
"How can it be a large career to tell other people’s children about arithmetic, and a small career to tell one’s own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone, and narrow to be everything to someone? No; a woman’s function is laborious, but because it is gigantic, not because it is minute. I will pity Mrs. Jones for the hugeness of her task; I will never pity her for its smallness." ~GK Chesterton

2012 November

2012 November