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Archive for the ‘parenting’ Category

It seems that Stephen (8 months old) is learning new skills every day.  And his personality is starting to reveal itself more and more.  And there are times that I think “Did Phinehas do that?” because I can’t remember.  And they’re only 18 months apart!  And I still can’t remember unless I’m prompted by something or someone mentions it.  I don’t want to forget:

  • What Phinehas’ belly button looked like.  For at least the first year of his life, it was a cute little cinnamon roll shaped.
  • How he used to point to the lamp and whisper “Hot”, either like he knew a secret or that he was afraid that you didn’t know it.  I’m not even convinced he knew what “hot” meant at that point.
  • When we called Uncle Kyle for his birthday last weekend and he just knocked out a great rendition of “Happy Birthday” song.  Wasn’t perfect, but I don’t know how he even knew what he did!
  • How he ‘chases’ up after Stephen on the steps, “pretending” to catch him, just like we do with him.
  • How he (kindly intentioned, but not so kindly in action) pulled Stephen down the stairs trying to help him learn how to go down.
  • How lately he wants one last hug and kiss from me when I drop them off at Aunt T’s…that’s a new thing and I love it!
  • The way he says “tickle” when he wants Jeff to chase him around and tickle him.
  • And the way he says “No!” when you ask if he wants you to tickle his tummy, but then he lifts up his shirt so that you have easy access to tickle him.
  • How he asks for “some”.  It used to be that everything is “some”.  Some watermelon.  Some M&Ms.  Some cheese.  Doesn’t matter – he wants “some”.
  • Him playing with my hair dryer in the morning as I get ready.  His love for the vacuum is being replaced by that new toy.
  • How we have to read “Dog” (Go Dog Go) at least 5 times/day even though he rarely seems to be paying attention.
  • Playing in the bathtub asking me to “shoot” which means fill up this little syringe with water and shoot it at the wall.

 

What saddens me is how much I’ve already forgotten and that he won’t remember most of this…but that’s okay.  I’m creating good bonds between us that I hope to strengthen the rest of his life.

June2014

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Working Part-time

I’m not a President Obama supporter, but I’m far from a hater too.  In fact, I really dislike how people disrespect him and his office just because they don’t agree with him.  I’m talking about people that call him “Barry” or other disrespectful names.  There was a candidate for governer here in Nebraska a couple of months ago who had a President Obama bobblehead doll and knocked it off a fence post during one of his ads.  Just for that alone, I wouldn’t have voted for him.  (He wants to be the head of our state, but can’t respect the head of our country?  No thanks.  There were other qualified candidates.)

All that to say that I don’t normally get too excited about politics.  I definitely have my opinions, but it’s not an area that I spend lots of time on.  I just have other things that excite me more.

Until I read Parade Magazine’s article a couple of weeks ago with an interview with Michelle & President Obama on family issues.  And she said the following that really bothered me:

“Now I realize that that’s one of the challenges that we have as women:  We don’t negotiate for ourselves. We don’t negotiate hard. And I realized that again later on when I had Malia, my first child. After a while, I asked for part-time work [at the University of Chicago]. And I did the same job, part time. Essentially, I just got paid less. That was the first time I realized I would never again work part time, because that’s not a good deal for women.”

Now, I recognize that this was a short magazine article and had she been giving much more time and space to say what she really thinks, there might have been a different picture presented.  And it seems like her experience working part-time really colored her position on this.  But here’s my position on this:

Working part-time (compared to full-time) is wonderful.  And I wish more women would choose that option, not less.  (In full disclosure: I also wish more women would choose the stay-at-home mom route too.)  Working part-time might not have been a good deal for her, but it was probably a better deal for her children.  Maybe the solution isn’t to forget about working part-time (instead of full-time).  Maybe the solution is to work part-time and mean it.  And set boundaries around it.  (Easier said than done, I know…but let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater.)

I jut can not imaging working full-time at this time.  I just can’t imagine both my husband and I rolling in at 5:30 p.m., getting dinner thrown together, getting baths and bedtimes and cuddles and reading and instructing all in before 7:00/7:30 p.m. at night.  I just can’t imagine it.  (Well, I can imagine it, but I’m miserable in my imagination).

And maybe our kids go to bed earlier than most, but I far prefer that to waking a sleeping baby and toddler up at 7:15 a.m. just so that I can take them to the babysitter’s house (as wonderful as my babysitter is) or a daycare.  Or even letting them sleep in and having a nanny/babysitter be there when they wake up in the morning.

For women who want to work:  For women who need to work: Part-time can be a wonderful option.  It’s definitely worth looking into.

/rant over.

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Thousand sacrifices

One last thought from “Desperate: Hope For the Mom Who Needs to Breathe” by Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson.  In a letter from Sally to Sarah, she writes:

“I always wanted to be a hero – to sacrifice my life in a big way at one time – and yet, God has required my sacrifice to be thousands of days, over many years, with one more kiss, one more story, one more meal. “

I’ve often wanted that.  I wished weight loss worked that way: one big effort (over the course of like 1 day), then you just coast.  Or financial success: one big effort (over the course of like 1 week) and all your past financial mistakes were fixed.  Or if you worked one really hard project at work, you wouldn’t have to work hard again (like ever!).  But life doesn’t usually work that way.

And mothering is one more kiss, one more story, one more meal.  When you don’t feel like being touched anymore.  When you feel like reading something meant for an adult.  When you feel like eating junk food.  It’s lots of little sacrifices.

The good news is that I can’t remember regretting a sacrifice.  I can’t remember climbing into bed at night and thinking “man, I really regret reading ‘I Love You Stinky Face’ 20 times today.” I can’t remember saying to myself “I really wish I wouldn’t have made vegetables at dinner.” I just don’t.  Sacrifices – even the small ones – have a way of reminding you how cool these people in your life really are.

 

 

 

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Another lesson learned from  “Desperate: Hope For the Mom Who Needs to Breathe” by Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson.  The quote:

“Many voices in motherhood today want to make a law out of everything – the activities that are best for a child, how to spank or not to spank, and how to secure obedience; working outside the home or staying at home; what clothing is acceptable for our girls; what movies, music, or books are or are not acceptable; dating or courting; adopting; drinking; even eating – there is no place where the grasp of legalism cannot and will not reach.

And yet, Scripture clearly speaks to the opposite.  It tells us in Romans 14:22, “Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves.”  The worry of what others are doing or are expecting us to do will indeed kill our souls.”

When I read this, I didn’t automatically think of the supposed “Mommy Wars”, but, instead, I thought of the tendencies inside me.  Oh yes!  This is me!  I want rules that pretty much guarantee good results – in my child(ren) and in me!

I have got to chill out when it comes to thinking that there are easy answers to be had.  I have got to chill out when it comes thinking that there is 1 way to raise a kid.  To have a good marriage.  To live a happy life.  Chill out Jayme!

 

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Enjoy them!

Another thought from from  “Desperate: Hope For the Mom Who Needs to Breathe” by Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson.  They say:

So many moms try to micromanage every single behavioral issue with their children and feel a need to win every battle, especially when they are young.  As I observe how God treats me, I realize that I keep learning and growing in my weaknesses, sometimes in areas I was not even awar of.  It seems He shows me one area at a time.

And yet, other parents let their children misbehave and be out of control so much of the time that their children are a burden to all who come into their wake.

And so discipline is an issue of training, little by little, year after year.  Do not expect a toddler to behave like an older child who naturally has more self-control and maturity.  Learning to be consistent in teaching and training is a way of life.  It is quite exhausting if a parent makes everything an issue for the child and the parent.  And be sure to enjoy each stage of your children-have fun, giggle, distract, lighten up, and win their hearts.  Children are more likely to respond to discipline if they feel loved and affirmed.  Be sure to extend grace to your young children, and also make sure they have lots of time to play outdoors to wear out their energy and fill their need for activity.

This kind of hit me between the eyes, so to speak.  For a while there, I was so concerned about getting the right behavior out of my child, that I wasn’t really enjoying my child.  Certainly, life will never be 100% enjoyable – not with a child.  Not with a spouse.  Not with myself.  There will always be “I wish I didn’t have to do this” moments.  But I had forgotten to ENJOY HIM!  I had forgotten that he was still VERY YOUNG!

I heard it once that “Children define love this way: P-L-A-Y!” and “Your child’s favorite toy is you.”  May I remember that more often!

 

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When did I stop?

A few weeks ago now, I was reading “Desperate: Hope For the Mom Who Needs to Breathe” by Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson.  I had seen it referenced by quite a few of the bloggers that I follow, so I checked it out.  I can’t say that it was life-changing or anything, but it was a very encouraging read.

I don’t feel desperate about parenting right now, but I did several months ago – about the time that Finn was 20 months old.  It seems like that was a very rough time.  Stephen was just a month or two old, but that didn’t seem to throw me any curveballs.  It was the beginning of the Toddler stage that was giving ME fits.  He was starting to challenge things he never had before.  He seemed to suddenly get super tall overnight, causing him to be able to reach things that I thought were safe (i.e.: knives on the counter!).  He developed the ability to open closed doors.  Before, countertops and closed doors were boundary-defining.  Not so much any more.

It’s all normal, of course, but this was the beginning of “true parenting” for me.  Until then, I had pretty much just been keeping him alive.  Now the real teaching and instruction was beginning.  And I was uber confident that I was doing it all wrong and it was just a matter of time before the police department brought him home in a squad car for spray painting a bridge or something.  (Remember: He wasn’t even 2 yet.  I was clear over-reacting!  This I know.  But this I didn’t feel.)

Anyway, a quote from this book stood out to me:

“As the undeniable reality of my own sin nature convicted me of how I view my children, I was reminded of something I had read in one of Sally’s books.  In Mission of Motherhood, she wrote about being frustrated with her children.  She felt like her efforts weren’t proving fruitful, and no matter what she did with her children or how many times she told them what to do, it wasn’t working.  Clay said to her, “Honey, at what age did you stop sinning?  Because that’s when our children will stop.”

That really helped drive home the concept that I am in this for the long haul.  There are some things that I’ll have to tell him once and he’ll listen.  But there are many, many, many, many things that I’ll have to repeat myself for.  Just like I know that it’s wrong to be short-tempered or jealous (but I do it anyway), my son knows it’s wrong to put his feet on the table or to throw his food (but he does it anyway).

It was just a nice reminder that I am no better than my son; just a little more sophisticated!

 

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(I know I already did a “He’s 2″ post, but my heart was burdened to write an actual letter to him)

Dear Phinehas (aka: Mr. Finn):

You’re 2! Already so much is different about you from just months ago. And yet, I can look back at baby pictures and see the same facial features. But, still, things are different. You’ve lost your cinnamon-roll shaped belly button, which was just so adorable! You’re tall and lean and that just had to go. I guess you’ll be grateful for that when you’re older.

You’re a toddler, of course, and not a baby anymore and yet…You ask for “rock, rock” before bed and it’s getting harder for me to do that – you’re just so big now. So, I do the best I can while I sing to you “Jesus” – the song you always ask for. You don’t really know who Jesus is yet, but Jesus Loves the Little Children must be the song you associate with sleeping. I didn’t really rock you to sleep as a baby (and truth be told, I don’t rock you that long now – just a few verses), but “Rock, Rock” was a new thing you came up with a few months ago.

You’re in a major train loving phase and I kind of hope it lasts. You get so excited for your train pajamas and you take your time picking out which 1 of the 4 trains you want to sleep with that night. I just checked on you while you were sleeping and you were curled into a ball, holding that choo choo.

You love the outdoors and I hope that continues as well. You ask for “walk” often, even if it’s not to the park and really, just to walk outside. In true toddler fashion, you’d much rather push the stroller, wagon or buggy than ride in it. You’re kind of scared of the loud sound of the lawn mower, but you keep talking about “mow, mow”, so I think you do like it deep down.

You’re starting to interact more with Stephen, which is good as he’s starting to get more mobile. You certainly can’t play together, but you understand that he has “his” food and you have yours. And it’s kind of confusing to you that Mommy doesn’t want you to share your food with him just yet, although she wants you to share other things.

You’re a huge fan of your dad, still. You’ll point him out in pictures of our family – completely ignoring just about everyone else. “Dada!” You know that your name is Finn or ‘Neas (as you sometimes call yourself) and that Stephen is “The Baby”.

You’re definitely a determined little guy, but are slowly learning boundaries. Not throwing food is still a struggle for you. So is not putting your feet on the table. You know you’re not supposed to do it, but you do it anyway. But your persistance has paid off in many ways as you’re actually quite good at manuvering the vacuum (another thing that you adore) and in other things.

You love to “cook”, even if that just means eating the chocolate chips. But we let you help anyway – someday, that will pay off! You love to clean too (maybe that’s the real reason you love the vacuum) as you’ll often want the dishrag after dinner to wipe down just about any surface you’re tall enough for – the chair, Stephen’s high chair, the walls – it doesn’t matter – you’ll clean it! You get super excited when I let you help me clean the bathroom!  “I do, I do” is a phrase that I hear all.the.time.

Your tastes in books is ever changing. For months, it seemed all we read was “I Love You Stinky Face”, then it became Dr. Seuss’ ABC book. Now, you’re all about “Shepherd”, which is a very short story of the Good Shepherd. We’ll read the same book over and over again, but that’s okay – I’ve learned to hide the boring books!

You love routine as well. Wake up. Drink milk. Mommy reads to you. Get dressed. Color. Find your shoes. Go to the “Garage. Car. Seat”.  Go to Aunt T’s. Play with trains. Antagonize Camry & Capri. Come home with mommy. Play with trains. Mommy reads to you. Take nap. Wake up. Get snack. Mommy reads to you. Play with trains. Play with blocks. Stephen wakes up. Go on walk. Come home. Dada home! Do the Dada dance. Play with dada. “Tickle, Tickle!” Eat dinner. Play with blocks. Put on jam-jams. Drink milk. Watch “Wheel!” Pick out train. Go night night with one last “Rock” and “Jesus” and 2 blankets.  You know what each step in the day is. I love that!

I love being your mom. And I love seeing the little boy that you’re becoming!

Love,
Mama

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Dear Mom of One

Dear Mom of One,

Have another child.  You should.  Cause kids are awesome!

While I can’t really tell you what to do with your womb, I do want to encourage you that it gets easier. This second kid thing is sooo completely different from the first kid thing.

With the first kid, every single thing was new.  Brand spankin’ new.  Never faced before.

The amount of responsibility that came on you all of a sudden was overwhelming.  If your child needed something, it was up to you (and your spouse) to provide it.  For now and for many, many years to come.

The amount of things you had to acquire in some way was all on you.  The pressure (even if it was just pressure you put on yourself) to get the right items seemed so high.  The stroller that fits your lifestyle best. The crib that goes best in your rooms.  Would the breast bump work for you?  What kinds of bottles and diapers are best for your baby?  Debating on how many onesies and sleepers will you need?  How do you install a carseat again!?  Are you a baby swing family?  How about bouncy seats?

Everything your child went through was new to you.  You had never had sole responsibility for a newborn – including “little” things like caring for umbilical cord stumps, clipping fingernails, clearing away boogers, giving baths.  Caring for a baby was new too – how to comfort him to sleep, knowing when baby is tired or just tired of being on his tummy, helping baby learn how to sit, how to roll over, how to crawl and eventually how to walk.  Figuring out if he really is sick or just teething.  Figuring out if you like have a routine or if you’re just a “whatever whenever” kind of parent.  Trying to decide the best way (and when) to start baby on solids and cow’s milk.  Trying to decide when to move him from a crib to a “bigger boy” bed.

These are all decisions that I’ve faced and my oldest will be 2 tomorrow.  (I can’t imagine all the things I’ll face in the next 20 years.)  But I’m hear to tell you: the second time is much easier.  Sure, every child is different and you’ll likely face different scenarios.  But guess what?  You don’t have to start from scratch!  You’ve already made lots of decisions the first time around.  You’ll probably do the same thing next time!  You don’t have to, of course.  Because you’ve learned some things.  And your family is different now.

But, dear mom of 1, please don’t think that having your second child will be just as hard and overwhelming as the first.  At least, it hasn’t been for me.  You’ve already set a great foundation.  So have another one!

Love,

Mother of Two

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I got a toddler.  Smack dab in the middle of the “Terrible Twos”.  I got a rambunctious one.  Tenacious is what someone called him.  He’s just not always tenacious about obeying me.  But I digress…

I’ve been reading lots of parenting/mothering/childrearing books and blogs lately as I’m struggling with how to do this phase of parenting.  Some good stuff.  Some not so good stuff.

But there’s been 2 comments that have really struck me hard.  They are:

Someday, you’ll long for these days.

There are lots of women out there that would love to have a little toddler running around, creating messes.  Not because they don’t have children of their own, but because they do.  But their children are older, well past this age.  And they fondly remember back to the coolness that little ones are.  Where they’re discovering new things.  Where they all of a sudden seem to know their numbers out of the blue.  Where there are hugs and “I wuv yous”.  Where mom and dad are just the coolest people around (except for maybe Grammy when she has fruit snacks.)

Now maybe those moms aren’t remembering the potty accidents and the temper tantrums and the tears and the pain that is carseats.  But that’s okay – it’s enough of a reminder to me to enjoy the good moments (of which there are lots) because someday I’ll want these days back again.

And…

These days are simple.

Well, they can be anyway.  But this thought was shared by a writer (Owlhaven here) who also has older children and has come to realize that parenting teens is the hardest phase of parenting.  She writes:

It was so easy when they were tiny. So easy to just scoop a sleeping child up after a long day and bring them into the rocking chair for a late-night snuggle.  Their soft selves would cradle into me not even wondering, not even skipping a breath.  They’d just settle in, where I could breathe into their hair and rock and rock, soothing both our souls, with me luxuriating in the deep down certainty that even thru the heavy weight of sleep they could feel my love.  That their dreams were sweet because they were in my arms.

I could really relate to that!  If you look at it that way, this is an easier phase.  There’s nothing that a nap and some animal crackers can’t fix.  There isn’t any drama with friends who suddenly don’t want to play.  No being left off the soccer team.  No fears about bullies or lockers not opening.  No fears about driving or college.  No fears about finding a spouse.

With my kids, I control where they go.  I can usually hug and kiss the hurts away.  A good night’s sleep clears away all of the problems – it’s the best “reset” button ever.

So, even though it can only take 2.6 seconds for my kid’s attitude to change, these are great and simple days!

Finn

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(You can see other Everyday Life posts here.  If you wanna.)

Day #35: Talk Ain’t Cheap.  It’s cute.

The closer Stephen gets to bedtime, the more he “talks”.  I often lay him on our bed while I read and he flirts with the ceiling fan.  It’s so nice to be able to do that in this age where he can’t yet roll enough to roll off the bed.  He’s already been talking for at least 20 minutes.

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