Training them kiddos

One of the major things that made me realize that I needed to become a stay-at-home mom is the behavior of my oldest 2.  (They’re 2.5 and 4.)  It just hit me one day that they had traits and behaviors that I wanted addressed and I was the best one to do it.

Kids of all ages need their moms – I’m not discounting the mother/child connection at all.  But I think that in the beginning of a child’s life, mom is mostly there to keep the child alive and thriving.  Meet their emotional needs?  Yes, of course.  For sure.

But as the child gets older, it’s less about meeting physical needs and more about training them.  Shaping their behavior.  Socializing them.  Helping to root out negative tendencies like selfishness, temper tantrums, and outbursts.

I was facing an uphill battle when it came to that.  I haven’t been diligent in the small stuff when they were younger and it grew into bigger things as they got bigger. It’s just snowballed into something really difficult to correct.

I realized that the daycare was in charge of that molding for far more hours in a week than I was.  I knew of most of their daycare teachers, but not all of them.  And I didn’t know them very well. Each teacher had their own way of doing things and sometimes my ways were different than theirs (not necessarily good or bad, but different brings confusion).  Each day, I got a few seconds with their teachers and a written report. Essentially, I was left with 1-2 hours a day during the work week and then the weekends to influence my kids.

It wasn’t enough.  Not based upon the behavior that I was seeing.  Each kid is different.  Each kid needs different things.  Each kids thrives under different circumstances.  And mine weren’t thriving under the situation we were in.

So now that I’m at home, I’m trying to be intentional about training them.

  • Helping them manage emotions (“It’s okay to be angry, it’s not okay to throw things.”).
  • Being very clear on expectations.  Around all kinds of things, even dinner (We don’t talk when daddy is praying.  We sit on our bottoms, not spin around on our head.  We don’t take food off others’ plates without asking.  We ask to be excused when we’re done.  We don’t smash banana in our hair (ok–that’s the 15 month old who does that!).)
  • Practicing skills.  Skills like walking near me when we’re in public. Learning to button our own shirts.  Using the bathroom (Stephen is potty training).  Brushing our own teeth.  Things that used to be easier for me to just do for them, given the time constraints that I had.

It definitely has some rough moments that turn into rough hours and rough days, but it’s been eye-opening and rewarding.  And I think maybe we’re starting to see progress.  Little by little – it’s going to take time!

Last year, I wrote that Samuel might have craniosyntosis and need the same surgery that Finn had.  Well, the decision is still to be determined.  We did a CT scan last fall and the results were inconclusive.  His skull wasn’t fused, but his skull bones are more “narrow” than they should be.

So in April, we had an appointment with the cranio-facial surgeons and the results were: still inconclusive.  It isn’t a “slam dunk YES” nor a “slam dunk NO”.  Check back this summer.

Last week, we met again with the team and again the answer is inconclusive.  So rather than solely waiting, we’re getting another CT Scan this week to see what the bones look like on the inside.  Whatever the result is, I just want an answer.  A straight up Yes or a straight up No.  And if surgery is ever going to be needed, then I’d like it sooner rather than later.  Surgery on a 1 year old is easier than surgery on a 5 year old.

Here we (maybe!) go again!

A recent picture of him – the best one that I have that shows what his head shape is now:



So..almost 2 weeks ago now, Benjamin turned 1 month old.  Finally getting the information captured and documented!

His scrapbook page:


A recent picture:

(From the pictures we had taken after he was born — photographer Eve Thrasher.)


One of my facebook friends recently posted this:

“I love my kids but anyone that says they don’t like the “empty nest” didn’t marry their best friend.”

Her youngest child just went off to school for a year and her oldest three are married (and thus out of the home). I don’t know exactly how long they’ve been married, but I’m guessing it’s at least 25+ years.  It’s just always fun to see people happy about great marriages – especially when they’ve been married for more than 2.6 seconds.

I read her status and wondered “How do I get that!?” Not how do I get a great marriage? Not how do I marry my best friend? My question is mostly: “What can I do so that in 25 years from now, when my kid(s) are grown and gone, I’ll still feel like I’ve married my best friend?

I’ve been thinking about this topic for a while. I was reading a book by John Rosemond (called New Parent Power!) that spoke to this briefly:

In the years since World World II, we have become increasingly and neurotically obsessed with the raising of children. Something that used to be a fairly commonsense responsibility has taken on the trappings of science. … Within the child-centered family, the implicit understanding is that the children are its most important members and the parent-child relationship is the most important relationship. …

Well, if you want raising children to be difficult, you need only to put them first. By putting your children first in your family, you guarantee they will become manipulative, demanding, and unappreciative of anything and everything you do for them. …

Again, its a question of priorities. In a two-parent family, the marriage must come first. After all, the marriage created the family, and the marriage sustains it. The marriage preceded the children and is meant to succeed them. If you don’t put your marriage first and keep it there, it’s likely to become a mirage instead.

It’s a concept that’s foundational to most of his advice: the marriage must come first and children should not be the center of the family. It’s what makes parents happier and it’s what makes children happier.

I want that! I want 25+ years to go by and for Jeff & I to send our last one off to college . When we do, I want to say “Love ya kids, but get out! Daddy and I gotta cuddle!”. I don’t want it to be “No kids!  Come back!  Don’t leave me alone with this stranger called Hubby!”

I’m beginning to realize how hard it is to keep your marriage front and center while raising children. Children will take all the attention that you are willing to give them. They don’t start out independent in any way, shape or form. And it is easy to want to give them all your time and energy.  They’re fun – the questions they ask, the smiles that they give, the new milestones that they reach. They’re unique – each child doesn’t something a little bit different and has their own personality. Eventually, their needs can dominate the family schedule with school, church, sports and other events.

Kids are cute, fun, unique and needy. Particularly, the first several months of your first kid’s life are i-n-t-e-n-s-e. At least, for me, it was. You’re learning so many new things. You’re making decisions you’ve never made before. It can take alot of focus. In fact, it can take ALL of your focus if you let it.

How you prevent a kid-center marriage probably doesn’t have a magic formula. There’s no “do these 5 things together and you’ll be fine”. I’d guess there are some generalities though: keep talking, keep having fun, spend time together. How and when you talk is up to you. How and when you have fun is up to you. How and when you spend time together is up to you.

Kids will take all the energy and focus that you let them. Seems to me it is important to give them lots of energy and focus, but not ALL of your energy and focus.  Now that I’m staying at home, I am hopeful that I have more time to focus on my marriage.  That doesn’t mean giving the boys sticks and knives to play with and to ignore them, but to make sure I have time for Jeff too.  Our marriage will sustain our family!

It’s officially been 1 month since my last day of work.  Since then, we also welcomed Baby Ben into our family, so the time has been full.  Thought it’d be good (for me) to document some of my thoughts on how the ‘Not Working’ thing is going.

Answer: I LOVE IT!  Since I’ve been employed since I was 15, the closest thing I can compare ‘not working’ to is my maternity leaves where I took 6 weeks off work.  Which is pretty fitting because if I was still employed, I’d be on maternity leave right now.

But this is pretty different than my maternity leaves.  For a couple of reasons:

  1. I knew that my maternity leaves were temporary.  The time was limited and I knew that I was going back soon.
  2. I still continued to work during my maternity leaves.  Not full-time, of course, but I dialed in to keep my email Inbox as clean as possible and to respond to anything critical.  I had people doing parts of my job during each leave and I knew that I was putting a burden on them.

This time?  I can’t work even if I wanted to.  No access to any company resources.  Why?  Because I’m not employed there!  I might wonder what people are doing while I’m gone, but it doesn’t cross my mind often.  I don’t know what meetings I’m missing.  I don’t know what decisions they have to make.  I don’t know what software enhancements they’re designing.  I just don’t know.  I don’t have to worry about the work that’s waiting for me when I get back.  That makes it infinitely easier to not think about my past life.

Right after Ben’s birth, I had this thought: “Man, having Baby #4 sure is easier than Baby #1!”  I chalked it up to confidence brought about by experience.  But I don’t think that’s the cause of my calm nearly as much not having to think about work and what impact my absence is having on my co-workers.

I wrote about this almost 5 years ago, but so far, my experience is proving it out: Being a Stay-At-Home Mom seems to be emotionally great!  My attention isn’t divided and that is very freeing right now.



I feel like I’ve opened a daycare.  A daycare that only takes in my offspring, but a daycare none-the-less.

Here’s just a glimpse into what my day looks like.  This is an example of “a picture is worth 1000 words”.  It happened when Jeff brought the 3 oldest boys up to the hospital to meet Baby Ben and we tried to get a picture of the 4 of them.


Our 4th child – Benjamin James was born yesterday!


(Note: This a very girl-friendly post, so if you don’t like reading things like ‘dilated’ and ‘cervix’, this would be a good post to skip.  No hard feelings!  If you like these types of posts, you can also read the birth stories of Phinehas, Stephen and Samuel.)

Tuesday, June 21st 

I had been having contractions over the last couple of weeks – even going to Labor & Delivery to get checked out last Saturday.  Turns out I was mostly dehydrated and my uterus was irritated, hence the contractions.  A couple of big containers of water and they would stop.  On Tuesday, I had my scheduled appointments with the perinatologist and my OB.  The previous week, I was dilated to a 2 and was the same on Saturday.  So I was looking forward to seeing if I had made any move forward.

1:45 AM – Sammy woke up in the middle of the night.  That isn’t typical for him, but 1/2 a bottle later, and he was asleep again.  I, however, was not.  I couldn’t get back to sleep, so I went to sleep on the couch.

Eventually, unable to sleep, I turned on the TV to watch Netflix and ate some soup.  I was having contractions again, but they felt different – they weren’t “full abdomen” contractions like I’ve had in past labors.  The contractions were low.  Some were painful, but not majorly so.  So I made a conscious effort to drink lots of water in case it was dehydration again.

5:15 AM – I was sitting watching TV and felt a big gush.  My water had broken!  Luckily I was on the leather sofa, which is easier to ‘clean’ than a bed!  It felt like A LOT of water.  With Stephen’s birth (my other labor where my water broke before being in the hospital), I don’t think it broke completely – just started leaking, but this time, it seemed like a full break!  I rushed to the bathroom, waking up Jeff on the way.  Called my mom, who was going to come over to watch the boys.  Called my doctor, who was out of town and spoke to his partner and she agreed that I should go to the hospital.

6:00 AM – Got to Labor & Delivery and got signed in.  In our room by 6:10.  Paperwork done with the nurses around 6:30.

7:00 AM – The nurse checked me because my contractions were not strong.  Had my water not broken, I wouldn’t have even been timing them or giving them too much thought.  I was still only dilated to a 2, 50% effaced and baby wasn’t descended (at a -3 station).

7:30 AM – Because he had been suspected to be breech before and they couldn’t detect where the head was, they did a quick ultrasound to confirm that he was head down. Not breech!  No need for a c-section!  They decided to start me on pitocin in hopes of getting the contractions going that would push him down.

8:00 AM – Started the pitocin at a dosage of 1.  They increased the dosage every 1/2 hour by 1, so 8:30, I was at a dose of 2 and at 9:00, I was at a dose of 3.

9:10 AM – Contractions started to be painful.  They weren’t very close together and they weren’t very long, but they were painful.  By 9:30, the pitocin was increased to a 4, which is as high as we ever got.  The nurse put in the order for the epidural.

10:15 AM – The anesthesiologist arrived and got the epidural in on the first try!  For a couple of my births, it took a few different tries.  Contractions were strong and I was crying at this point – somewhat from the pain, somewhat from the pitocin, but also just from the pure emotion of it all.  And once a hormonal woman starts crying, you just gotta let her cry!

10:30 AM – The nurse checked me and I was dilated to a 5, 80% effaced and baby had moved head down to a -1 station.  Good progress in the right direction.  We placed ‘bets’ for when baby would be born.  Jeff said: 11:43, I said 12:05 and the nurse predicted 12:15.

11:34 AM – The nurse turned off the pitocin.  Baby’s heartbeat had always been tricky to find – meaning it was easy to find and it measured well, but he moved just enough just often enough that they had to keep re-adjusting the monitors.  And they didn’t really like the way that his movement was steady – they expected more ups & downs just because of contractions.  The doctor was called in to check me.  I was dilated to an 8, but was really ‘squishy’ (whatever that means), so they decided to deliver.  This was mostly based upon my history that in the last 3 births, I never had to push very long.

11:53 AM – After 4 sets of 3 pushes (maybe 10 minutes worth?), Benjamin was born!  Turns out he was posterior (sunny side up), which can be more painful than face down, but since I had an epidural, it wasn’t a big deal for me!

After – He was put on my chest right away and we did skin-to-skin for an hour.  They didn’t even really rub him off majorly and didn’t weigh or measure him for about an hour.  They did put that little hat on him, but that was it – it was mostly us cuddling on the bed.  We tried to breastfeed around 12:30 and got a good latch (a first for me!)  He was very awake and alert and has lots of hair (although it’s very light).

Of course, they did eventually weigh him and measure him.  His stats:

  • Weight: 6 pounds 12 ounces, making him my 3rd smallest baby (which is ‘funny’ because a week before birth an ultrasound estimated him a 7 lbs, 7 ounces, which would’ve made him my biggest baby).
  • Length: 20 inches
  • Head circumference: 13.5 inches








Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 47 other followers