Tuesday, June 30, 2009

If At First You Don't Succeed....

Proverbs 24:16 " For though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again..."

Ever feel like a Job. Well, here is my Job rant for the day. A week ago Monday was a BAD parenting day. I joke, my husband had to call and "instill the fear of God" since he was out of town. Tuesday, my fuel pump went out at an intersection-I was the first one in line to go and couldn't. Wednesday, our date night was spent replacing the radiator in the other car. Thursday, a challenging relative came and brought us another car and has stayed until at least today. There is a new hole in the side wall of a newer tire that we now have to replace. Sunday our VBS starts and I'm in charge of crafts for 120+ kids and because of all the aforementioned stuff, I am WAY behind. Today my husband has to have an MRI on his back. Yesterday he spent all day in a contractors office on a big job he might not even get (unethical reasons too!).

So where does that leave us. Well, first, what a great verse in Proverbs. I don't know about you, but I'm ready to play the sluggard and pull the sheets over my head. And second, what is the saying, "Satan is alive and well on planet earth."

For the righteous part, I think we can have good things come from bad situations. We have had to be willing to except a not so perfect car, but hey, we have a car. Things/issues that have been building in our marriage have come to the surface, and we have been able to deal with them in a way I feel has been honoring to God and our marriage. We have come to lean on and receive support from some great friends here locally. And my husband has been able to see the positive side to a lot of this (it used to be always me trying to be positive.)

For the Satan attacking you part of things. Well...I honestly think that is part of it. I mean, he took away everything that Job had-why can't he do the same to us. And he knows where it hurts. We don't have new cars, so there's always some kind of maintenance. But seriously! How much in one week! And the relative...well, this has caused a big strain on our marriage-even before this instance. It's like the thorn in our flesh.

So where does this all leave us. Well, I think God does try to teach us things. And no, we won't collapse. 1 Corinthians 10:13 "...And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bare. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it." Hot dog. No worries, right :-). But I think it also means, we have to be willing to take the way out that he has provided, whether we want to or not.

And I think he gives us tools to overcome those areas that Satan can get to us. He knows it happens-he even had to tell Peter to "get behind me Satan". For the marriage things that were going bad, it caused us to discuss things that hadn't been discussed. And to come up with a plan to deal with it. We are bigger than the problems the relative causes. It was our own way of saying, "get behind me Satan", we are bigger than this and your not going to win.

If it's any encouragement to any of you...since we all know we live in a fallen world and bad things happen...here is my favorite verse:

Isaiah 40:31 "They that wait (or hope) on the Lord will renew their strength. They will mount up with wings as eagles. They will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not grow faint."*

*I did quote this verse from memory-I may not be totally accurate in all my punctuation, etc.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Loving Our Husbands (and our families)

I studied a great book with a few other women this past summer: Becoming the Woman of His Dreams by Sharon Jaynes. Initially I thought the title pretty cheesy; the content of the book, however, is terrific. Jaynes breaks down 7 areas in which we wives can be the woman of our husband's dreams. Throughout the book, she uses many Scripture references to back up her points--the part I appreciated most on my first read through the book was that she used Scripture references beyond those normally offered to wives (you know, beyond the "submit" passages or "a good wife is better than rubies"). She points out, for instance, that 1 Corinthians 13 should be applied to the way we love our husbands--not just a general way to love others. She outlines all the many times Paul encourages believers to be constant in prayer--doesn't that mean we need to be constant in prayer for our husbands?

Dostoevsky, in his amazing book The Brothers Karamazov, has a fascinating chapter titled "The Grand Inquisitor" in which a character expounds on this idea of loving those close to you. It's definitely easier to profess love for the starving children in Africa or the persecuted church in the Middle East (you might even send money or pray for these groups) than it is to love those in our own homes or our real, next door neighbor. Why? We see all the faults of those close to us. We let little things get in the way of our love; I believe an example in Dostoevsky's book is the way someone chews his or her food. If it's annoying, it can keep us from loving someone.

C. S. Lewis offers similar insights in his Screwtape Letters. In this book, a senior demon is training a younger demon in the arts of temptation and swaying people away from the Lord. One of his tips: get the "patient" in question to start focusing on the irritating little things his mother is doing rather than focusing on the real ways he can love and serve her.

Why do I mention these? Is my husband bothering me? Are my kids driving me up a wall? Not really. I've just been praying through some Scripture that is general in nature, not directed specifically at families, and was struck by the difference these actions/ideas/attitudes would make in our own homes. Some of these verses are ones Jaynes offers in her book as prayers to pray for our husbands, inserting their names as we pray. Praying Scripture is a powerful tool, the Sword of the Spirit. So, in the coming days, I'll offer up some of these Scriptural prayers. I encourage you to pick one or two and pray through them for you husband and your children. If you need an attitude check, I can guarantee you that this will help! If you've begun to focus on irritating little habits or started to notice a bothersome trait in someone in your household, try praying through one of these verses for that person instead. Our prayers become so earthly-focused. Scriptural prayers help reorient our thoughts to what is really important.

Carrie has already given us a great list of verses to pray through for our children. See her post on Teabag Verses for Students and Moms.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Potty Training: Betsy's "Method"

I'm not sure you can call this a method or not--it's more a conglomeration of various tips and strategies. But here's what I prefer to do:

Phase 1: Pre-Potty Training like crazy (this is when I become Potty Training Cheerleader Extraordinaire--did that little visiting girl just use our potty? Yea for Suzie!! She just went pee pee in the potty! Look! You're going pee pee right now! (in the tub) Are you going "stinky" (at sign of red face)). I also wait for readiness signs (dry diaper for 1.5 hours or so at a time; vocabulary in place--they need to be able to say "potty," "pee pee," etc.; interest in potty; telling me they've gone to the potty--usually only occasionally).

Phase 2: Gear up. (Get towels, drinks, potty chairs, etc.)

Phase 3: Awareness Commando, baby! Little naked babies running around, a stack of blue towels, and LOTS of fluids. After all, if they're not pee-ing, and obviously so, there are no training/teaching examples. I didn't want to use a potty chair with the boys, but quickly saw that we needed one (well, two) with this approach. The potty chairs move with us around the house: we sit in them when we watch movies, we sit in them when Mommy reads us stories, etc. Gradually, we'll add underwear to this scene. Generous and frequent rewards for any sprinkle in the right direction.

Phase 4: Control After kids are very aware of when they're going pee pee, we try to move to a pee pee on command (they need to be able to go before we leave the house--when I tell them to--especially if it's been a while since they've last gone). So, this phase is a continued education for them in learning to control their bodily functions.

Phase 5: Independence This is when they get to tell me when they want to go potty, and I pretty much operate as a normal Mom (as opposed to Potty Training Cheerleader Extraordinaire). I do have a few consequences for accidents: if someone can't take the time to come inside, for instance, and has "wet pants" while swinging, then they must come in then and there from their playing. If, however, he/she makes the attempt to come inside, I always make sure they get a little time back outside as a reward for taking the time to stop and use the bathroom.

Some notes: time spent in each phase is relative for each kid. With my daughter, she was firmly in the indepent phase by 2 months from the start date (start of awareness phase). We've just begun with the boys and are making good progress in the awareness phase for one twin (as I write this, it's day 2). But, obviously, I don't have a gazillion success stories to back up my method.

Also, and this is huge, your vocabulary makes a big difference. Don't say "if you go pee pee, Mommy will give you some candy." Two things wrong with that: first, they're going to go pee pee. That's not the issue. The issue is that they go pee pee in the potty. So, make sure you include that. Second, they are going to go pee pee at some point. Say "When you go pee pee in the potty, Mommy will give you some candy." When you move into the control phase, same thing. Say "When you go pee pee in the potty, then we'll go play outside." Not: "Hurry up!! We have to leave! Just pee!" You might as well realize that that's never going to work, so don't waste your breath and don't stress out your toddler.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Potty Training: Pre-Potty Training

Regardless of when you choose to potty train your child, you will have to do some pre-potty training, for both yourself and your child. I am by no means an expert on potty training, but I've learned some things along the way. The info from here on out is all garnered by much talking with friends and family and much reading of the "experts" (which are often highly over-rated).

Pre-Potty Training (for your child)

If you're going with an early start date, you'll need to make this a top priority in the few months preceding the Big Day. If you're planning to wait and train later, then this will happen along the way by osmosis, most likely.
  1. Give your child the vocabulary to use: be consistent ("pee pee" should always be "pee pee"--or whatever you choose). Catch your child in the act whenever possible and point it out (bathtub, changing table, naked time, etc.). Label body parts, the potty, etc.
  2. Model for your child at all times: parents and older siblings are always going to the bathroom. Leave the door open and narrate ("Mommy's going pee pee in the potty!" or "Look at Big Sister--she just went pee pee in the potty!").
  3. Let anticipation work for you: "In a few more days, YOU will get to go pee pee in the potty!" or something like that.
Pre-Potty Training (for YOU!)
Yes, you will need some pre-potty training, too! If you've never potty trained a child before, maybe the following will help you avoid some of the mistakes I (and my friends) have made.
  1. Get in the habit of pointing out all the times you (and your child) should use the potty. Before you leave the house for any reason, point out that you are going to the bathroom. (this will help you remember to do that when it's a necessity for your child).
  2. Do your homework--read up on methods, equipment, etc. Know what some of the strategies are.
  3. Learn what motivates your child: is he independent and likes to do everything himself? That might be all the reward you need. Does she idolize her big sister? Let big sister be a key component of your strategy.
  4. Gear up: gather whatever you think you'll need: salty snacks and juice/water if you're planning an all-out day or two; potty chair and/or potty seat/ring for big potty; lots of towels (I use blue towels) if you're just going straight to underwear (or commando); pull-ups if you're planning to go that route.
  5. Get your game face on: Yes, you'll be cleaning up accidents. Yes, your child will not understand right away. Yes, you'll be washing sheets, couches, rugs, toys, etc. Yes, you may have to wash a car seat. Yes, you'll be singing silly songs and doing dumb dances. Yes, you may allow your child to consume far more candy than you ever thought you would allow. Yes, you will have to put your child first, before phone calls, dinner prep, a play date, and the like. Grin and bear it!

Teabag: Wise Instruction

Hear, my son, your father's instruction, and forsake not your mother's teaching. For they are a graceful garland for you head and pendants for your neck. Proverbs 1:8,9

What are we instructing and teaching to our children? Is it good and worthy enough to be a garland and pendant for them? Will we teach them well enough so they can follow Proverbs 1:10:

My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Potty Training: When to Do It?

Carrie and I have chosen very different times to potty train our children, so I thought it might interest the peanut gallery to hear some of the pros and cons (at least according to her and me) for potty training early v. late. I've just begun training my 25-month old twin boys, so potty training is all I'm thinking about!

I would consider "early" potty training to be in the 18-month to 2 1/4-year old range. "Late" potty training is 3+. Then, there's a big spread in the middle that would involve issues on both the early and late sides. I've chosen to train my children early (daughter at 23 months; boys--just begun at 25 months) and Carrie's gone with the later age range (3 1/2 years for her boys).

If you haven't gotten to the potty training stage yet with your child(ren), it's worth considering the following; there really isn't a right or a wrong way to potty train as long as you do it, expect your child to obey once he/she demonstrates full capability/knowledge, and keep the peace in your household :).

Pros of Early Training (these are all generalizations):

  • less laundry/effort if your child is in cloth diapers--maybe a year and a half less!
  • less money/trash if your child is in disposables
  • child still wants to please Mommy/Daddy, so battles of the will aren't typical
  • rewards can be smaller--a Skittle, an M&M, etc.
  • you might not be out and about as much as when the child is older, so you'll have lots of home time to practice
Cons of Early Training (again, generalizations)
  • much more parental time/involvement required (child can't pull his/her pants up, child can't reach potty by him/herself, etc.)
  • can take longer just because you're often starting with a child who doesn't have tons of awareness of his/her bodily functions
Pros of Later Training
  • typically easier, if you can find the right motivation for your child
  • less parental involvement needed (child can dress him-/herself, reach the potty, etc.)
  • typically faster--the child is usually pretty aware of what's going on
Cons of Later Training
  • can result in a battle of the will; parent's approval isn't quite the be all, end all it is for a toddler
  • you have to spend that much more time/money on diapers!
  • you might be move involved in activities (like preschool) that can complicate time needed for practice/reliability