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Posts tagged ‘child’

Okay, it’s time to make the announcement official: I am pregnant. Due sometime in late July–I don’t have an official date yet.

I’ll admit it: I’m procrastinating the whole prenatal check-up thing because most days I don’t feel like even cooking and doing dishes, much less getting out and going somewhere. That, and I want a home birth, but I need to see if I can convince my insurance company to cover it. Otherwise we’ll have to pay the midwife out-of-pocket or do it unassisted–and the latter isn’t really something I want to do. I know I could do it, but I don’t really want to be without a professional, and I know my husband would feel the same way.

But that’s not why I started writing this. I just need to get some thoughts down on “paper.” A conversation I had with my brother brought this up, and I just wanted to get it out.

First off, this will be our third child. We had more or less planned on having more children. We just didn’t intend to have one quite yet. We are still living in the rental house, waiting for our place to be fixed up. The deadline for that is the end of February. So hopefully we will make that deadline, or pretty close to it. But after discussing it, we realized that a summer baby, while my husband is not in school (he’s going after his master’s in social work–just finished his first quarter) would be perfect. We could get into the routine of a new baby before school starts again, and he plans on taking paternity leave for a while to help the transition. We realized that waiting until he was doing his internship would not be a good time to have a baby, and if we had waited much longer, the age gap would be larger than we want. Manny will be 3 1/2 when the new baby is born. I’m 3 years older than my brother, and we always wished we could have been closer. So my husband and I are happy with this surprise pregnancy.

But my mother is not. She thought we should have stopped at two. Of course, because this one was unplanned, there wasn’t a whole lot she could say, other than that she hoped we were done. And honestly, I don’t think we could have timed it better if we had planned. Seems God knows best and overrules sometimes, in spite of what we may do. But she sure ranted and raved about it to my brother.

The typical American family has 2.5 children, supposedly. So congratulations are always in order on a second or third pregnancy. But after that, a lot of people will start asking questions like, “Was this one planned?” “How many are you planning on having, anyway?” And any American family that has a lot of kids gets discussed quite a bit behind their backs. Of course, the Duggars are on the extreme end of things, but I remember how my mom talked about the lady who moved to our town and came to church that had 5 kids. “She shouldn’t have so many. How can she take care of them all?” Hey, she ran a daycare! She knew what she was doing. At least in one sense. And she wanted more. What right did we have to say she shouldn’t?

I am not officially quiver full; I believe God has given us the responsibility to be sensitive to issues such as finances, the health of the mother, etc. But I think there is a lot of truth in the quiver-full philosophy. Children are a blessing. And if my husband and I end up having 5 or 6 or more of them, that should not be an issue that affects my relationship with my family.

Now, I know my dad’s family would be fine with it. My dad’s only sister had 5 kids, and now has at least 8 grandchildren and counting. My dad himself had 6 siblings, and he wanted lots of kids. My husband had 4 siblings, and his parents both came from even larger families. My mom, on the other hand, had two brothers, and I think she was unplanned, considering the age gap between her and her older brothers. It’s fine for her to look at the smaller family and say, “It’s so much easier on the mother, easier on the finances, and we are so close to the end of time, etc,” but she’s done having children. This is our family. We don’t know if we are done or not. I figure we’ll know when we get there. But that’s not something I’ll be able to know for at least two years, if then.

I was reading a post on one of the few blogs I still keep up with called Childrearing As Our Profession. As a young adult, my goal was to be a wife and mother. I’m a wife for as long as we both shall live. But I’m a mother in the profession sense only as long as I have children in the home. Of course, I’ll always be their mother, but I can’t really mother them once they grow up. The more kids I have, the more I’ll have the chance to practice that profession.

And I’ve made some mistakes along the way. I’ve let things slide. I’ve lost my vision of motherhood at times. But this pregnancy has been a wake-up call. Once the morning sickness wears off and I can focus on life again, I need to get my home and children in order. I can’t focus on that right now, because I’m in survival mode, but I know that I must soon. Because having another child won’t make it any easier, but being more organized and in control before that child comes will.

So there you have it. My thoughts on having more children. My brother asked me if we still are planning on 10 (I used to joke we would have 10 kids). I told him that we don’t know. We’re going to take them one at a time, and when we’re done, we’ll know. And honestly, I don’t care what my mother thinks. If we have 5 and she can’t afford to come to every birthday party, she won’t hurt my feelings. But she’s the only grandmother my children will ever have–my husband’s mother died a few months after Gislaine was born–so I hope she just accepts that this is our family and we are going to decide between us and God what to do with increasing it or not.

There, I’ve said my piece. It’s late and I’m going to bed. Thanks for “listening,” if you got this far.

I think I have finally figured out the secret to parenting.

Okay, when I say “figured it out,” I don’t mean that I have a 100% perfect understanding of it. But I think I have enough of a concept to apply it and to share it.

And it wasn’t my original discovery. It comes from the book Parenting Your Infant/Toddler by the Spirit by Sally Hohnberger. And “it” is the parenting pyramid.

In my own words, this pyramid means that God is at the top, desiring to communicate to my child and me. Because I am the parent, I need to open up the lines of communication–two-way communication. I need to make sure my heart is fully surrendered in the moment. And let me tell you, lack of surrender on our part is a big reason why we fail to bring our children to true obedience. Just try making a child obey cheerfully by yelling at them!

The second aspect is that God also wants to communicate directly to the child. However, the rebellious, tantrum-throwing two-year-old isn’t listening. So we as the parent, now surrendered to the Lord, will communicate to them, and direct them to listen to what God is saying to them. Then we lead them to surrender as well. Once they surrender, the lines of communication are open between both parent and child and God and child.

Now, that’s good in theory, but let me make this practical with some illustrations from my life today.

It was time to pick up the toys and get ready for worship. But neither of my children wanted to pick up the toys. Manny tried to throw a tantrum and Gislaine started to cry. Because I couldn’t deal with them both at once, I sent Gislaine to her room and told her to wait until I called her. Then I told Manny that he needed to surrender his heart to Jesus and put the toys away. I said, “Let’s pray,” but he jerked in defiance. So I took his hand and said, “We need to go for a run.” We ran the length of the house and back. Then I knelt again and asked him to pray with me. He knelt, folded his hands, and closed his eyes. Then he repeated after me. “Dear Jesus, please help me to put my toys away happy. Amen.” Then I showed him the toy, and repeated my instruction. He put it away. At first he was just compliant–putting it away under protest. But as I directed him to put more and more away, his heart softened until by the time he was done, he was a cheerful, happy little boy. And Daddy noticed later, after I had gone to the gym, that he was the happiest, most obedient, surrendered little boy that he had been for a long time, and commented on it to me when I got back.

Once he was busy putting his toys away, I called his sister out. We knelt and I led her in a similar prayer. Then I asked her, “What is Jesus saying to you?” She said, “To obey.” That just warmed my heart! Jesus was speaking to my precious daughter, and she recognized His voice! I said, “That’s right. Now please put the dolly’s bed away.” And she did. She also helped her brother put some things away. And she was happy when it was over.

And so was I!

Yes, it took extra time to do it, but the end result was happiness for everyone, and peace in the home.

Yes, this is the secret: a connection with God, listening for His direction, and following His guidance. Most of the time, we won’t know for sure if the ideas that come to our minds are from Him or not, but we are to test the spirits, and move forward in faith. But being surrendered ourselves–to take our toddler’s hand for the grizzly run (because they are too young to run by themselves), even when we don’t feel like running–makes all the difference. Because we certainly cannot bring our child to surrender if we are not surrendered ourselves!

I’m reading this book through for the second time. I can’t say I’ve read enough recently to do a proper review of it, but I would still highly recommend it. And all the other books in the series.

I was listening to Revive our Hearts yesterday, and the speaker quoted from the book The Life of Helen Keller. After describing the scene where Anne Sullivan taught Helen to eat like a civilized creature (if you’ve seen either of the “Miracle Worker” movies, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about; if not, either watch one or read the book!), Anne goes on to say something very profound:

I saw clearly that it was useless to try to teach Helen language or anything else until she learned to obey me. I thought about it a great deal, and the more I think, the more certain I am that obedience is the gateway through which knowledge, yes, and love, too, enter the mind of the child.

I don’t know how to improve on that, so I’ll just recommend that you read it again, 2 or 3 times, and let its meaning really sink in.

Yesterday I had a battle with Manny. Not near as big as Anne had with Helen, but it was something. Lately he has not wanted to eat any cereal except the chocolate-covered “Koala Crisps” (which are gluten-free and actually have nothing he is allergic to in them, which is why I buy them and give them to him occasionally). Trying to get him to eat anything else for supper is a battle. So last night I decided to try something different.

When I offered him the food, I told him clearly that he had a choice to make. He could either choose to eat cheerfully, or he could stand in the corner. He hates standing in the corner, by the way. But he chose not to eat, so by default he chose the corner. I put him there and worked nearby, watching him closely. If he turned around and looked at me, I would remind him to put his nose in the corner. Of course this made him cry again, but I persisted. I started him out at 2 minutes, then offered to let him eat. When he said no, I went 2 1/2 minutes. Then 3 minutes. Then 3 1/2. Each time I offered him the food, showing it to him, and letting him choose between eating and the corner. He tried to interject other options, like “nigh nigh” (going to bed), but I would not allow those options.

I am not sure how long it took, but we were up to 5 minutes between choices, and finally he chose to eat. He said, “Eat, eat,” so I put him in his chair, poured hemp milk on the puffed millet that I had coated with carob powder, and offered him the spoon. He ate the whole thing cheerfully, and was delighted to get some grapes afterwards!

Not only was this a great victory, but Daddy noticed later that evening that he was more compliant and less demanding. I think I have hit on something here.

The truth is, I have been very neglecting of my child training lately. But I have also neglected my walk with the Lord. In the past few weeks, I have been going through a period of revival, which always results in reformation if it is genuine. And this week the Lord convicted me that it was time to start working on my child training. I have been praying for wisdom, because Manny has some serious issues, and he’s too young to reason with, and I let some things get too far. But thanks to this victory yesterday, I am beginning to see some light at the end of the tunnel.

But it’s a very long tunnel! At least, it feels like it! But God is my guide, and I know I will win as long as I remain with Him.

Okay, this post is not for me. My son is almost two.  I am writing this for the author of a blog that I follow who just had a baby a few days before Christmas, and now she is starting to feel overwhelmed as hubby goes back to work, mom goes home, etc. She asked on Twitter if any of her followers had blog posts on the topic of surviving with a toddler and a newborn, and since then all kinds of ideas have been flooding through my mind. Of course, since my second is almost 2, I figure I am an expert on the topic (hahaha), so here is my advice, for what it’s worth:

Prioritize

I know that sounds hard to do right now. But take 5 minutes when the baby is asleep and toddler is happily coloring or playing with dollies or something that will keep her attention for that long, and decide what is really important. Spotless floors? Dream on! Making sure mother and all minors are fed? Absolutely. Making sure they get nutritionally balanced, gourmet meals? Forget it! If they get Cherrios & milk for breakfast, PB&J sandwiches for lunch, and takeout for dinner for a month, you can consider yourself a good mother! Hubby can fend for himself for at least the first month! Of course, the newest arrival will be getting nourishment from Mommy or a bottle, so make sure you keep taking those prenatals!

Seriously, though, decide what is absolutely essential to making sure the house doesn’t cave in. Things like meals, laundry (as much as you’d like to skip this–though intensive stain removal can go on the back burner now), dishes (get paper plates & bowls to make this part easier), and sleep (not necessarily in that order). Then stick to it, and only add in things as you have energy (notice I didn’t say time–energy!)

Simplify

I alluded to this in the previous section, but you really should simplify things as much as possible. When clothes get scarce, throw a load in and wash it. Don’t sweat the baby poop stains around the legs of the onsies. They will come out well enough when you have time to put them on the line later. Stock up on frozen dinners, rice-a-roni, sandwich makings, cold cereals, quick hot cereals (this time of year hot food is nice, and oatmeal only takes a few minutes to make), fresh veggies for munching (avoid broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage if you’re nursing–though if your toddler likes them, have some handy for her!), pasta and pasta sauce, and take-out menus of all your favorite places–especially the ones that deliver. The less you have to think about right now, the more time you will be able to spend recuperating and enjoying your precious children.

Nap When You Can

I know they always say, “Sleep when the baby’s sleeping.” With one, that was easy. With two, it seems almost impossible! It took a while, but eventually I was able to get my two to sleep for at least half an hour at the same time. To be honest, I usually tried to get things done then, but I wish I had taken more time to rest–even if I couldn’t sleep. Hindsight is 20/20, and lack of sleep contributed to some very difficult times for me later (especially since my son had severe eczema, and that was emotionally draining for me, and even more so because I was sleep deprived).

There is a lot of conflicting advice about co-sleeping, but I did it with both of mine for the first few months, and that really helped me get more sleep. It can also be helpful at naptime. By 2-3 weeks baby should be able to handle nursing lying down, and it allows you to relax more than sitting would. If you just can’t fall asleep for worrying that you would roll over on the baby, get a co-sleeper thingy. There are different styles available; one kind slides under the mattress and hangs over the side of the bed; the other kind lays on the bed, but has soft sides that come up to keep baby safe. It’s worth looking into. At 3 or 4 months you should be able to transition baby into sleeping by himself (especially if he does that during the day already).

Cut Down or Eliminate Caffeine

I know it seems like caffeine is your friend, but it’s not. If you are nursing, you are passing it to your baby (which means he’s going to be more hyper), and you’re taking away from tomorrow’s energy reserves to get through today.

When I was a child, I had this kid’s book about health that had a picture of a couple of tired horses trying to pull a heavy carriage up a steep hill. They were giving it their all, and yet the driver was whipping them to make them go faster. And it told me that is what caffeine does to us. Maybe that’s why I never touched the stuff. And let me tell you, it’s not because I never felt like I needed it. There were days I wished I had some around! But overall, it’s much better for everyone to avoid it.

Ask for Help

They say children are meant to be raised in a village. If you were Amish, the neighbors would be over mopping your floors, weeding your garden (if it were summer), doing your laundry, and bringing you home-cooked meals–without you having to ask anyone for anything. But we don’t live like that anymore. Nowadays you have to ask for help. And that is hard on our pride sometimes. But the sooner you do it, the better off you will be.

The first place I would look if you don’t have family nearby is your church. A good church is like a second family. Call the head deaconess or the pastor and ask for help. You will probably need to be specific: “I would like someone to come once a week for the next month and a half to mop my floors and do some important cleaning like toilets and vacuuming major walkways; also, a few home-cooked meals would be lovely!” If anyone in your church has kids your toddler’s age, see if they would be willing to come pick her up once or twice a week in the morning for a playdate to let you take a nap while the baby sleeps and not have to worry that the toddler is getting into something.

Watch Your Coping Mechanisms

For me, adding a second child was not as hard as watching that child slowly develop a severe case of eczema. It was draining for me. By the time he was 7 or 8 months, he was a very miserable baby and I was about to have an emotional breakdown. I found myself trying to cope by watching movies and playing games on Facebook. Looking back, I wish I had looked for other ways to cope, because all I did was hide from my problems while they got bigger and more overwhelming.

Now don’t get me wrong. A good movie now and then is not the issue. It’s 3 movies a day while I ignored everything around me. I wish I had taken more of that time to get down on my knees and plead for strength to get through the rest of the day, claiming promises like Isaiah 40:29-31. I wish I had taken the time to read good devotional books and other good literature instead of letting Hollywood fill my mind with useless trash.

So there you have a few ideas. I hope it helps you and anyone else who finds this post.

Video Page

Here are videos that I have made, grouped by category:

Sewing

How to Make a Simple Child’s Dress, pt 1

How to Make a Simple Child’s Dress, pt 2

Cooking:

How to Cook Cream of _________ Cereal