Parenting Against the Grain {BFBN}

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by Bethany Lynch

We make decisions many times in life to go against the grain. It usually isn’t easy or fun but we know it’s what we need to do. There are certain patterns we know we don’t want to follow. Most parents even teach their children not to go with crowd-led decisions, not to be afraid to stand apart.

There is also something deep within us, especially as moms, that longs for companionship and friendship and the ability to identify with others. We desire to fellowship with other like-minded moms often with similar parenting philosophies. Babywise is a great example. I have learned so much from other moms that have taught me how to add structure, how to be more flexible, how to use creative consequences, how to require first time obedience. These things are not unique to Babywise but it has been a strategy that has worked very well for our family.

Even within such a strong parenting philosophy, there have been times I have felt like we needed to go against the grain. What was in a book or among the majority of like-minded moms was not working for us or did not feel right. Although this is starting to sound like a discouraging post about the -wise series, it is not by any means. I couldn’t agree more with many of the things in the entire -wise series, and with any book, there will be things you should take/leave or modify for your family. However, I sense that many of us feel wrong for doing what is right for our family.  I wanted to write this post as an encouragement to do what is in your heart or gut.

I think "start as you mean to go on" is always a good place to start and a great consideration before making any big changes, but don’t be afraid to make changes…even if you are in the minority. By all means, ask for advice and consider what is recommended by seasoned moms as well as newer moms with fresh perspectives….but don’t be afraid to go against the grain. Some of the best decisions we have made have been a bit unusual and non-traditional but they turned out to be smart decisions specific to *our* family. After all, one of the strongest tenants of Babywise is being parent-directed.

Here are the top 5 thoughts I have for deciding whether to make a change:

1. How long have you tried something? Keep in mind as older as your children get, the longer you may need to be consistent in your efforts. Often it also feels like we’ve tried something day in and day out but in reality time has passed slower. My general rule of thumb for infants/toddlers is two weeks minimum and for older toddlers/preschoolers two months minimum.

2. How many things have you tried? My caution is not to try too much. Be consistent foremost and avoid making multiple changes. I loathe troubleshooting. I am horrible at it, and when I try, I usually end up doing way too many things. I have no idea what works or doesn’t. Keeping things simple and trying one thing at a time for a sufficient period of time has served me much better. It is still hard not to want to "fix" things quickly but what works for "most" moms really might not work for you.

3. Have you thought outside the box? Don’t be afraid to consider advice from moms that are not like-minded either. We have a lot to teach each other. No two kids are alike…especially of your own. I learn every day that my kids respond completely different to similar situations. It doesn’t mean you need completely different parenting strategies for each child but it might require some creativity when you don’t get the same response from each child.

4. Do you feel uneasy? We all know parenting is so extremely hard and without adequate instruction manuals…but there have been a few times as a parent that I *knew* something was not sitting right with me. Something bothered me. I had put in lots of hard work and it just was not working well. Don’t be afraid to admit that you need to do something else.

5. Who do you feel is influencing you? Hopefully you feel on the same page as your spouse. The times that my husband and I made an unpopular or unusual decision but were down to the same paragraph made those decisions all the better. There have been times we disagreed and I definitely felt differently than him. Make sure you are still considering what is right for your family…not just what works for other families. Seek advice! Learn from others…but make sure you are always willing to take the risk of doing things different if it is in the best interest of your marriage, your family, your children, and yourself.

Bethany writes a blog to encourage and inspire working moms at The Graceful Mom. She is a busy but passionate wife and mom to two children, ages 5 and 3.

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A New Phase

I feel like we are escaping the challenging phase of having a 3 and 1 year old and are entering a new phase, which, so far, has been quite pleasant!

From the holidays, the start of the New Year and January through March, my children were giving me a run for my money.

As they are now 4 and almost 2, life has just been very fun and entertaining with them! The fact that I have a 4 and 2 year old is just surreal to me. It seems just last week this picture was taken as I held both of my girls, who were both just BABIES, together for the first time:

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The age of four has brought some maturity to Little Bug, which is extremely welcome. Along with maturity has come an independence and not in the becoming-my-own-person kind of way, but in an able-to-do-more-on–her-own kind of way. Things I have done for her for four years now, she is now able to do on her own. Like put on her shoes. Do you know how helpful it is to have one child that can put her own shoes on?!

We don’t have a fenced in yard at this house so we go outside frequently to walk Pup, which means we put on shoes multiple times a day. It’s helpful that Little Bug can do more for herself these days. She cleans up her toys well (that is something I just figured out with her – post on that coming soon), can get her own snacks/drinks sometimes and we are starting to have more adult/child conversations instead of all toddler-talk. Some conversations are deep and others are just down-right hilarious. She has started telling me “I love you, Mommy” without me first saying, “I love you, Little Bug”. She tells me I am the best mommy. Tonight as I was tucking her in bed she said, “Mommy, let me tell you something.” She pulled my ear to her mouth and whispered, “You’re the best Mommy ever!!”. That is all so rewarding to a Mommy!

I’ve also in the past couple of months, noticed that Little Bug and Sweet Pea’s sister relationship is starting to blossom again. There was a phase (during this challenging past 6 months) where they were not meshing as I would hope and I knew it was developmental. Sweet Pea was just too “baby” for Little Bug. But Sweet Pea is growing up now at almost 2 years old. Her language is finally taking off and I know her maturity has brought both girls to a more equal level developmentally. I’ve noticed them playing well together basically since we moved.

People, I am not ashamed to say it: We are leaving the baby phase and it feels great. Smile Don’t get me wrong, I love having babies (um, once they are 6 months old, hehe) but I can see FUN times ahead for my family as we enter the stage of having two preschoolers instead of a preschooler and toddler or toddler and baby. If you are in the toddler/baby phase and feel like you are just treading water trying to stay afloat, seriously, before you know it, they won’t be in the stage they are in now. Children do grow up; babies become toddlers and toddlers become preschoolers and with every age, there are positives and negatives to that stage. If something is driving you insane, hang on, it will change before you know it.

Summer is here and, compared to last summer, it is nice to be able to get out without worrying about getting the baby a morning nap so I don’t have a cranky, overtired baby on my hands! We are spending this summer doing fun activities, having play dates and going on trips and we are having such a wonderful summer!

I know we will have more “hard phases” with the girls. Everyone it seems always says, “Just wait until they are teenagers!”. I guess I have a different viewpoint on all that. Or maybe I am naïve.

I chose to believe this, however: I am working daily, while my children are so moldable, to train them in the ways of the Lord, so that when they are old they will not depart from it.

When I started teaching 4th grade ten years ago this fall (wow- I cannot believe my college graduation was 10 years ago), I received excellent counsel from my friend and mentor, Angele, who told me, “Spend the first 6 weeks of the school year just teaching rituals and routines to your class and the rest of the school year will go SO much smoother.”

She was absolutely correct and every year I spent the first 6 weeks of school teaching my students how I expected them to do certain things (like line up – yes, that has to be taught and even in the 4th grade!!) and how I expected them to behave. Because of my HARD work those first six weeks of school, I wasn’t still dealing with a class at Christmastime that took 15 minutes just to line up to go anywhere.

No, we practiced how to line up multiple times in those first 6 weeks (and beyond whenever needed), which made lining up something we didn’t have to worry about come October. All the kids knew what was expected of them, they knew the consequences if they chose to not line up correctly, and they just lined up when I simply said, “Let’s line up to go to the library.” Within 5 minutes, the whole class was lined up and out the door.

So, what does this have to do with parenting my children? I am doing the HARD work now, when my children are young, to mold and shape their little hearts to desire to please the Lord and live their lives for Him. By the time they are teenagers, it is my hope and prayer that their hearts will belong to the Lord and they will chose to continue to honor the Lord by continuing to obey and honor their parents as they have been taught since birth.

I try to remember this on the difficult days and the challenging phases when I wonder how I will ever survive raising a strong-willed child. Keep on keeping on. That’s how.

My work is hard now, but prayerfully I will reap eternal results of my labor when my daughters are grown.

I never wanted my kids two years apart

I’ve said it before and I’m saying it again, I never wanted my kids two years apart!

We have been in a rough patch the past month or so. A three and half year old and 18 month old are a lot of work!!

I’m a scheduler and I seriously couldn’t imagine what the past month would have been like if I wasn’t a scheduler. The schedule is there to serve us and usually the schedule serves us well and leaves me able to manage everyone’s needs while still being able to hold down the fort and keep up with housework for the most part.

But this past month, I have just felt worn down! It’s been mostly Little Bug wearing me down (what’s new?) but Sweet Pea’s had some things going on with her this past month that haven’t been the easiest to deal with.

Oh Little Bug. Where shall I begin? This girl literally keeps me on my toes all day long. From wake up to naptime to wake up to bedtime, Little Bug is a whirlwind of….drama. From being picky about what she wears to wanting to change clothes a million times a day (a battle I will fight because I refuse to do more laundry than necessary!), to arguing with me about washing her hands (seriously? just go wash your hands!!) to making me laugh until I nearly pee because what she says is just that funny – this girl is one of a kind.

Funny thing is – her birth mother, Tracy, warned me that I was going to be “in for it” with “this one”. How did she know that? She said ALL her kids are stubborn and strong-willed. Those must be some tough genes! Sometimes though, when I am dealing with Little Bug’s stubborn streak – I know I might as well be talking to her birth mother. They are very similar in personality, it is uncanny. I like that because Tracy is a pretty cool person. Only difference is, Tracy has sadly channeled that gusto into the wrong things, and I pray that we are able to teach and mold Little Bug to channel her gusto into serving the Lord with her whole heart.

Back to the 3 and 1 year old. This past month I have found myself wishing they were just a teeny bit older so that they could be a teeny bit more independent and not rely on me for everything from wiping their booties to preparing their food to dressing them (except Little Bug of course) to entertaining them!

Little Bug, at nearly age 4, still will not willingly entertain herself. She has never been one to go off and play on her own. As I have wracked my brain about whether I made her this way or if this is just how she is, I have come to the conclusion this is just the way she is. On the scale of introvert/extrovert she is as far on the end of extrovert as you can go. She simply thrives off interaction with people. And even though when she was a young baby I would take her with me everywhere I went in the house, I didn’t make her be this way. This is just her. But my goodness. It makes for some LONG days though.

It would be SO helpful if I could sit her at the table with some color books and crayons, stickers, markers, whatever and let her go to town, but that simply won’t work with Little Bug – yet. I am holding out hope that maybe by the age of 8 she will be able to do something like this. Or if I could set out the play-doh and let her play for 10-15 minutes. She won’t do this if I’m not doing it with her! I’m telling you. Constant interaction is a requirement with Little Bug and it is draining sometimes! I do not mind playing with her at all. It’s just that I DO have other responsibilities that need attention – like another child who also needs attention and a home to maintain!

I’ve heard it all. I just need to “let the cleaning go”. Believe me, I have. I used to regularly clean my blinds. As in polish them. Don’t make fun of me. I like things clean. But child #2 came along and I quickly learned there were way more important things to do in this life than clean my blinds. I also refuse to live in filth – kids or not. I will clean my house. And I want my daughters to see me keep a clean house because one day that will be their responsibility too when they are married and have babies of their own. They may not have clean blinds, but that’s okay.

The sister relationship is kind of in a funky phase as well. Sweet Pea is still so young and since she doesn’t really talk much yet, the girls relationship hasn’t really blossomed anymore lately. If anything, it’s turned more to a big sister picking on little sister relationship! I have HIGH hopes that this will change simply because we are speaking words of blessing to the girls such as “Your sister is your best friend!” and surely once they are both a little older and more developmentally on the same page, their sister relationship will grow. I am pretty confident I will see improvements here by the time they are 2 and 4 or atleast by the ages of 3 and 5.

But right now, it’s been a hard juggling act to keep everything moving in the right direction over the past month. I felt myself getting into a “funk” and finally I had to have a little talk to myself (pep talk I guess you could say?).

And in those moments God reminded me that I must meet my girls where they are in life NOW. I cannot constantly wish they were a little older (or in a few years I will probably be wishing they were a little younger – that is just how life goes). I must be the Mama they need now. And right now they still need me to do so many of the menial tasks such as wiping booties even though I am so over wiping booties I could scream. This is not the only hard phase we will go through. I know there are bound to be many more after this one.

These are the best days of my life. I am not being sarcastic. I wanted this and I still do. I want to be with my children every single day, all day long. But being a mother is hard. Some days I wish I had the luxury of calling in sick. I’ll be able to do that in about 16 years, I know. However, I know that I know that I know in 16 years when my baby goes off to college I will long for these days. My Mama has told me she sometimes misses the days when we were little and she was home with us. But she also tells stories of it being hard. Even though my brother and I were angels. We really were. We don’t have stubborn genes; my mother didn’t get to “parent” a strong-willed, stubborn child until her eldest grandchild came along. I think we’ve all sat dumbstruck at one time or another by the things Little Bug has done!

This is getting a little ramblyish. So let me wrap it up by simply saying: There is so much pressure on moms these days to be the “perfect mom” but I say we just need to meet our children where they are NOW. Push through the funky phases and find the silver lining in every phase. There are silver linings. Little Bug is a comedian every single day. And it is so precious when we see God working on her little heart. He is, there is no doubt in my mind about that. She loves to be read to. I love to read to her. It is so interesting to me how a child who moves like the wind throughout the entire day can sit still for an hour and read book after book after book.

And – Sweet Pea has officially dropped her morning nap so we are FREE in the mornings now and that is helping tremendously!!

I will not give up.

Sigh.

Being a stay at home mom is hard. Sometimes I find myself wishing I could have another title besides “mom”. But at the same time, I would not give up these precious years with my babies for anything in the world.

I am finding this stage we are in right now to be somewhat trying. Especially to my patience!

Parenting a newborn and just-turned 2 year old was difficult. Especially because I wasn’t just dealing with the typical newborn and learning to juggle the needs of a newborn and toddler. But we got Sweet Pea’s tummy troubles under control and life fell into a predictable pattern. I got both girls on a good schedule. Everyone’s needs were met and life was pretty much smooth sailing with these two until we reached the stage of 3-year-old and 1-year-old.

These two keep me on my toes daily!

I still have them on a predictable schedule and, honestly, I can’t imagine what it would be like if we just flew by the seat of our pants each day.

It’s the 3-year-old antics that get me most days. Little Bug requires me to be on top of my game (my “game” being parenting) every single waking moment. She leaves me weary and giving a HUGE sigh of relief nearly every night when I tuck her into bed and tell her goodnight. I’ve gotten to where I look forward to bedtime for her every night, just so I can regroup and prepare myself for another day of her 3-year-old antics.

She is one tough cookie to parent! And last week, I was so discouraged. To the point where I felt like I was losing control over her, losing her respect and we were destine to raise a brat that would grow up disrespecting us and disrespecting all authority in general.

I found myself even saying things like “Dave, she’s yours. She doesn’t listen to me anymore and I am at a loss of what to do…”. Not good. And I knew it wasn’t good but it was almost like I was giving up.

And when I realized this I knew I could NOT give up! Even though I am tired and worn out and discouraged and feel like I am not making any difference in this child’s upbringing, I knew I could not throw in the towel and give up on disciplining my wayward daughter.

It is my job, my responsibility to train her in the ways of the Lord, so that when she is old, she will not depart from it.

And so I jumped back into the game, telling myself, I have to keep doing what the LORD has called me to do – parent my children.

I woke up the next morning and knew what had to be done. I had to clearly tell Little Bug what was expected of her and what her consequences would be if she chose to disobey her mother. We talked about the Bible and how it tells children that they are to obey their parents in the Lord for this is right. We talked about how when she obeys Mommy and Daddy she is honoring the Lord and honoring her parents. We talked about how the Bible tells parents that they are to train their children up in the ways of the Lord.

There were five instances of deliberate disobedience, sassiness, and outright disrespect towards me from Little Bug from 8am-10am. She received her consequences consistently with each offense and then, after the fifth offense, it was like a light went on or a switched was flipped and this new child entered my home.

One of her biggest offenses lately has been arguing with everything – and I do mean everything – we tell her to do. Sure, there are times when she can state her opinion about something and about what choice she’d like to make – but there are times when she just simply needs to say “yes mam” and do what her mother has told her to do, no questions asked.

So that morning I made it clear to Little Bug that she was to just say “yes mam” when I told her to do something. No more arguing. No more debates. Just say “yes mam” and do it.

Well, like I said, there were five instances in a span of two hours where Little Bug chose to deliberately disobey me or was outright disrespectful to me. After being consistent in the consequences Little Bug and I had talked about that morning and following through with every offense, I suddenly had this sweet, obedient little girl on my hands and I could hardly believe it.

Children so need this. Children need discipline!! Here I was about to give up on the very thing my child needed from me most.

There was even a time in the morning when Little Bug told me, “Mommy, say, ‘Put on your shoes, Little Bug.’”. I said it and Little Bug immediately said, with a HUGE smile on her face, “Yes mam, Mommy” and went to do it. Here she was asking me to tell her to do things simply so she could delight me and herself by first-time obedience, and most importantly, with a happy heart!

I could hardly believe the transformation in just two hours of direct training and discipline of my child.

I know my job in training this child in the ways of the Lord so that when she is old she will not depart from it is far from over. After all, she is not even four years old yet.

But I certainly have a new perspective on my role as mother in her life. She needs me to train her. She needs me to discipline her. She needs me to intentionally parent her and train her in the Lord.

And I will do it. Even when I am at my wits end and wondering if I will ever make a difference in this child’s life.

I will parent my children.

Because, right now, in this stage of my life, this is one of my most important roles in this life. And I will not give up.

Learning about Giving and Budgets…at age 3!

I want to instill a heart of giving in my girls. My mom had the idea to take Little Bug shopping so that she could buy a Christmas present for her Daddy, Mommy and Sister. I think they ended up buying Uncle a present, too.

My parents took Little Bug to the dollar store and gave her a budget on what she could spend.

My mom helped her think about what each person is interested in and Little Bug walked around the store finding things she thought we would like. I wish I could have been a fly on the wall.

Here she is in the check-out line with all her purchases:DSC05038

Mama told me that after she shopped for everyone else they gave her a budget to be able to buy three things for herself.

She chose a snow globe, a pair of Princess socks and a spray bottle.

Then she found a Princess balloon that she reaaaaallllly wanted.

When my mom was telling me the story I said, “Ut-oh! Did you let her buy four things instead?!”

And she said, “No! We made her stay in her budget! We told her in order to buy the balloon she would have to put one thing back.”

I was smiling from ear to ear.

It is NEVER too early to teach life lessons to children!

I asked, “So which one did she put back?”

She put back the snow globe and bought the balloon instead.

I absolutely LOVE this! Little Bug learned you can’t have everything you want. You have to make choices and stay within your budget. It is a lesson my parents taught me and it still impacts my life to this day.

And she also learned there is great joy in giving to others.

After shopping they took her to a new frozen yogurt place in town!

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Conscience & Umbilical Cords

Found this in my drafts and since I haven’t had much blogging time this week, I’m posting it today!

Little Bug did something the other day that totally shocked and surprised me.

On Sweet Pea’s birthday we were at my parents’ house and Little Bug was helping Grandma make Sweet Pea’s smiley face cake.

Little Bug wanted to lick the icing. I told her she could have a lick and then that was it until she had a piece of cake after dinner.

It wasn’t long and I suddenly heard Little Bug crying – but it was a cry that you don’t usually hear from Little Bug.

A cry of remorse and regret.

I went into the kitchen to see what was going on and my mom said that Little Bug asked for another lick of icing but my mom had said no because I had said no but Little Bug had gone for it anyway.

Typical, is what I was thinking.

But then, something very atypical happened.

It was like Little Bug realized what she had done and she was SO SO SO SO SORRY!

As soon as she saw me she plunged for me and buried her little head in my shoulder and kept crying and crying tears of remorse.

I have never seen her so sorry for doing wrong in all her three years!

My mom and I calmed her down and we both talked to her about the choice she had made and that it was the wrong choice. We asked if she was sad that she had disobeyed Grandma and more tears just flooded from her eyes! We talked to her about forgiveness and that God forgives her and so do we!

I was half-way laughing because I could hardly believe this was my Little Bug, but then, at the same time, I was rejoicing over her tears and remorse because that incident showed that she does know right from wrong and she had clearly been affected by her deliberate disobedience and was genuinely sorry!

I believe it’s the work of the Holy Spirit already in her little life. And I just pray that God continues to captivate her little heart and draw her to Him.

A couple days later Little Bug, out of the blue, asked me, “Mommy, where is Jesus?”.

I told her, “He is in Heaven preparing a place for us, but He is also right here with you.”

She said, “Can I talk to Jesus?”

“Yes, you can! When we pray we are talking to Jesus! We can talk to Jesus anytime we want to. He is always right here with us.”

Wow. There is nothing like having conversations like this with your own child! I look forward to her asking more and more as she gets older and older and then understanding more and more, and building a faith in Jesus Christ of her own. What a blessing and privilege as a parent to be able to lead this little girl to know and love and desire to serve Jesus Christ here on Earth. He has some amazing plans for this girl.

All that talk also lets me know that we are probably getting closer and closer to the time when she will start to ask questions about adoption.

I look forward to those days, too, because her story is beautiful. The work God has already done in her short life through adoption is nothing short of miraculous.

I will never push her adoption story on her. I know, because she is a very curious girl, she will one day start asking questions and I will answer every single one the best I can.

Right now, we don’t really talk about Tracy and her role in Little Bug’s life. I see no need to do that. I know – in it’s time – her story will reveal itself and I will be ready to help Little Bug understand.

For now, I mention Tracy only when Little Bug presents an opportunity. For instance, the other day Little Bug, for some random reason, was asking me about umbilical cords.

Apparently we have a book that shows them because Little Bug was asking me to find the “umbilical cord” book so she could see one. She wanted to know what it was for.

So, I naturally told her, “Little Bug, when you were in Tracy’s tummy you had an umbilical cord that connected you to Tracy so that she could feed you while you were in there.”

Then I told her, “When you were born, Mommy was there and I cut the umbilical cord because you no longer needed it. And that is why you now have a belly button in that spot.”

I’m not really sure how much she really paid attention to anything I said about Tracy because she was so set on finding this umbilical cord book!

But I never want Tracy and the fact that she “used to be in Tracy’s tummy” to be a foreign concept to Little Bug. I don’t want her to ever have a time in her life where she was not aware of this fact, because I know it is from that fact that the rest of her story will unfold when the time is appropriate.

So I do talk about Tracy every so often with Little Bug so that she knows her name and knows she “used to be in Tracy’s tummy”.

I have no idea where all that came from. I wasn’t planning to talk about that in this post, but there it is.

I guess I will end with this.

Being a parent is such a humbling role. To be totally responsible for the physical and emotional well-being of a little person is a daunting task, sometimes. And then, when you throw in the curveball of adoption, it can seem even more daunting when I think about the task ahead of me to explain things in a way that Little Bug can truly grasp and understand why she was born into one family and then placed in another.

It’s something I can’t sit and worry about. I just have to trust that God will in His infinite wisdom piece together Little Bug’s story for her so that she can see it the way we – her parents and her adoptive mother – see it.

A redemptive story.

To all the parents with strong-willed/spirited children…

Well.

We all know my eldest is…strong-willed? spirited? outgoing? Not really sure exactly what to call it but, yes, I wondered how long it would take preschool to figure this out.

Four days.

Last week, on her fourth day of school, I got in the line to pick her up and I saw a lady look at the name on my dashboard to know which child to bring me and then she went back in the building.

I turned my head the other direction and when I turned back to look at the door out came Little Bug…with her teacher.

Remember, I used to be a teacher.

I knew this wasn’t good.

I geared myself up to hear whatever she was going to tell me about my darling child.

She told me briefly what had happened at school that day and then told me to give her a call whenever I got the chance.

I drove to the end of the parking lot, got out and went to the backseat where Little Bug sat in her car seat.

And we talked about the day.

She admitted she had not obeyed Mrs. S the first time, but her focus was on the little dumb-dumb lollipop that she held in her hand.

She wanted to enjoy her treat – now. But I had to tell her she would not be able to eat that special treat because she had not made good choices at school that day and in order to enjoy special treats we must obey our teacher the first time.

And, yes, of course, a bucket full of tears ensued after that.

And the little dumb-dumb now resides in a spot out of reach but in plain sight so that Little Bug can hopefully enjoy that treat after her next day of school and after she chooses to obey her teachers the first time.

I must admit I was just waiting for this moment. I knew it was going to happen.

When my mother picked me up from preschool she would hear things like, “She actually said a word today!!!” and I knew from the start I was going to be the mother that would get “bad” reports on the misconduct of their child that day.

What I am going to say next is for all the Mamas out there with a little firecracker of a kid who is strong-willed and spirited or whatever you want to call it…

When I was pulling out of the school that day I could have allowed myself to be embarrassed that I am “that parent” with the child who misbehaves.

But, no.

Yes, I am the parent of one of “those kids”: the strong-willed firecracker type – but are not ALL kids interesting little creatures that need to taught, molded and trained in the ways of the Lord?

It’s just that these little strong-willed firecracker types stand out among all the rest because they naturally call attention to themselves. They are not wall flowers (like I was as a child) and they need their parents to teach them, mold them and train them in the ways of the Lord.

It’s not easy.

There are times when I think to myself, I do not know how to raise this kid!!

But I refuse to fall prey to the stereotypical views of parents of “these kids”. And neither should you!

Instead, we must seek the LORD for wisdom in raising these children and figure out what behavioral methods work to bring about positive results.

I don’t know what causes her to feel the need to decide that even though ALL the kids in her classroom are happily painting, she doesn’t want to paint, so she is going to take her smock off and declare, “I do not want to paint!”.

I see something special within the heart of my strong-willed firecracker kid! God is going to do something amazing with that strong spirit. She won’t give up easily in life and she will be determined to see things through to the end.

As her parent, it is not my job to feel embarrassed because my child’s 3 year old preschool teacher came out to my car to talk to me on the fourth day of school! It is my job to be informed about what is going on at preschool so I can continue to mold this little girl into the Godly woman God desires her to be.

It’s an exhausting job, but one that I wouldn’t trade for anything in the entire world.

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.

We’ve all heard that and hopefully we all know nothing could be further than the truth.

Words are powerful.

If you read Angie’s blog you may have recently read her post titled, In the Mending {a series}.

After reading through that post and then reading the over 100 comments behind it (which is something I rarely do), it opened my eyes even more to the great responsibility as a mother that I have to speak words of blessing to my children.

I read about an adoptee who was told by her adoptive mother that she would “amount to nothing”.

A woman who remembers her father calling her “fat pig”.

A woman whose husband of 19 years left her for another woman.

A woman who remembers being in 6th grade and desperately wanting to be invited to a certain party. Her friends helped her wear a “cool outfit” so that she would hopefully be “cool enough” to get an invite. She never did and carried that rejection with her throughout her life.

This same woman had a son who wanted to have birthday party when he turned seven. His mother said he could have a party as long as he invited every single boy in his class.

One little boy’s mother came up to her at the end of the party and thanked her profusely for inviting her son because this had been his first ever birthday party; he had never been invited before and was so excited to attend this party he had slept the night before in his Sunday best in anticipation of the party.

A woman who remember coming home as a kid with a 96 on a test and was told, “That’s good, but maybe next time you will get a 100.”

A woman who was told by her dance teacher at the age of seven that she would never be a good dancer because she was too fat.

A woman going through infertility who received an email from another woman stating if she was a better Christian, God would give her a baby.

A woman who was verbally abused by her adoptive father.

I just kept reading until I got to the very end…

And all I could think about was how much POWER we as parents have in speaking words that will kill the very spirit of our children or speaking words of blessing that will build our children up and help them be who God desires them to be.

Many of the people who left comments on Angie’s post have been walking around with a wound inflicted by words that someone spoke to them decades ago.

What was said was so powerful to the point that it has altered the way they perceive themselves and affected many, if not all, of their future relationships (with a spouse, friends, employer).

All of these stories broke my heart for these people but, I guess you could say, the stories about a parent inflicting a wound on their child by the words they spoke to them, made me angry.

We must think before we speak!!!!

Especially when it comes to our children!!!!

I am sure all of these parents who are guilty of inflicting this wound on their children carry a wound themselves from someone in their past, but that does not make it “okay” to speak like this to children.

Words are powerful and I pray that I take every opportunity possible to speak words of love and encouragement to my daughters and not words that will tear down their little spirits and make them feel like nothing.

Today, speak words of love and encouragement to someone! Just as those negative words have the potential to stick with that person for a lifetime, a word of encouragement has the potential to change the course of someone’s life, too.

Be that person for someone today!

While Daddy is away…

Meet the Green-Eyed Monster. I think she had her hands and arms (and forehead!) painted in about 2.5 seconds.

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I took the girls to a park and put Sweet Pea down to help Little Bug. Turned around and this baby was crawling on the concrete! By the way, Sweet Pea is officially mobile as of about 1.5ish weeks ago!

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This girl loves to swing. And she always wants to go higher!

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We were playing in the living room when all of a sudden Little Bug, with her characteristic enthusiasm, said, “Mommy!! Let’s go swimming!”. She proceeded to stripe completely of her clothes – even her panties – and run to me while saying, “Please go get my bathing suite!”

The next hour was spent out in the backyard playing in the pool…

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with the water table…

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and in the sand box!

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It had rained earlier that afternoon and the rain had cooled things off a bit. So it was actually pleasant to be outside for a change.

Until dinnertime when we attempted a picnic. The mosquitos were out in droves and drove us inside. Even Sweet Pea was batting at them.

Little Bug wanted to take a picture of me and this is what she got:DSCN0236

This “solo parenting” week is actually going very well. (I know by saying those words things are bound to fall apart tomorrow…) I was a little apprehensive about doing this parenting thing without my other half, but it’s going well. Attitude is everything. I decided we were going to have a fun girls week – and we are.

Plus, the blessing of family is HUGE. Dave’s parents came over and played with the girls on Monday and my mom came over yesterday and spent last night with us. We enjoyed dinner out together with the girls at the restaurant of Little Bug’s choice: Chick Fil A!

Also, I think of all the women whose husbands serve our country overseas, leaving their wives to “solo parent” for months at a time. What I am doing this week is nothing compared to that. Puts things into perspective.

Four more days and the man of the house will return!!

A Cup of Milk

Little Bug keeps me on my toes.

For the past few weeks she has started not going to sleep right away at naptime. Naptime is 2pm and after hearing her play in her crib for a while, I would go in her room at 2:15ish and tell her to go to sleep and she would.

Then things escalated from there. The past few days I’ve found myself going in there multiple times from 2-3ish, telling her to go to sleep and taking friends out of her bed if she doesn’t.

Then yesterday, she did the unimaginable – although I have learned to put nothing past this girl!

I put Little Bug down for a nap at my parents’ house and left for the Crisis Pregnancy Center.

At 3pm, after hearing strange sounds, my mom opened Little Bug’s door to find she had climbed out of her crib, turned the lights on, pulled numerous wipes out of the container and made a mess all over the room.

When I got back from the center, I talked to Little Bug about what she had done. We talked about sleep time rules: lay down, close eyes and go to sleep. Then, I talked to her about the danger of climbing out of her crib. (And yes, I realize it is time for a big girl bed. Thanks for your comments yesterday! We have lots of out of town family coming and going during the month of June so I want to wait until things calm down towards the end of June and then we are going for it.)

This morning, while warming Sweet Pea’s bottle, I noticed Little Bug’s light was on in her bedroom. I opened her door and found her sitting in the middle of her room, playing with a toy. She said, “I’m just playing with this.”

I calmly picked her up and told her, “You must stay in your bed until Mommy comes to get you.” I closed the door and left to go feed Sweet Pea and talk to Dave.

But first I prayed that God would give us wisdom on how to handle this because the issue had become more than just needing to adjust nap time or making sure she was good and worn out before laying down for a nap. (Little Bug still needs a nap. When she does not get one, by dinnertime, you can tell.)

A friend had suggested to me that I needed to take something away from her that would be a big deal to her. So I got to thinking. What could be taken away?

Dave and I started talking about this and I threw out the idea of “no TV”. Little Bug watches a 20-30 minute show while I feed Sweet Pea at noon. We didn’t really think that would be effective because the consequence wouldn’t be immediate upon waking up for the day.

Then I thought of “milk time” and as much as I hated to take this away from her, I knew that was the something that would speak to her the loudest that her disobedience is unacceptable.

I could already see the alligator tears that would be pouring from her eyes when she learned she had lost “milk time” and, I also felt like a mean Mommy.

But I knew it was the right thing to do to hopefully solve this issue.

When Sweet Pea was finished with her bottle, I left her in bed with her Daddy and walked to Little Bug’s room.

“Little Bug, what did you do this morning?”

“I climbed out of my crib.”

“Did you choose to obey Mommy?”

“No.”

The stinker was smiling through this whole conversation. It is one thing to do something wrong and then be sorry for it, but to smile and be proud of the wrong you have done? Help me raise this child, Lord, ‘cause this isn’t something I can do on my own strength!

I started talking about the story of Adam and Eve. I said, “Little Bug, did Adam and Eve obey God?”

She quickly said, “No they did not.”

I asked her, “What happened?”

“I don’t know.” Good answer, kid, since we have only talked about and read this story about a million times since your birth.

So I prompted her, “What did God tell them not to do?”

“Eat the apple.”

“And what did they do, Little Bug?”

“They ate the apple.”

“So did they obey or disobey God?”

“They disobeyed God.”

I then explained to Little Bug that Adam and Eve sinned when they chose to eat the apple and that sin always has consequences. Adam and Eve’s consequence was that they had to leave the garden.

Little Bug looked up at me and asked, “What is my consequence?” The smiling faded. She knew this wasn’t good. Finally.

And then I told her, “You chose to disobey Mommy. That is called sin when you disobey Mommy. Sin always has consequences. Your consequence is that you will not be able to have your milk time this morning.”

And then the buckets of tears fell right on cue as Little Bug realized her choice of disobedience cost her “milk time”.

It was in that moment that I realized something, too.

I felt horrible taking her milk time away but better for her to learn a lesson in sin and their consequences with climbing out of a crib and losing “milk time” at age three, than to learn with something like premarital sex and pregnancy at the age of 16.

Little Bug doesn’t need me to ensure her happiness and pleasures in this life. This morning she needed a mother that was willing to stand in the gap between learning to choose wisely in this life and being left to flounder around without clear boundaries and standards.

And, thank God, the only loss suffered this morning was a cup of milk.

I learned something invaluable too.

These are the moments God is giving me to mold and shape the heart of my little girl so that she will hopefully one day grow up and love our Lord and desire to do what is right and pure. I cannot allow myself to fall prey to the lies out there that would suggest my daughter’s happiness is more important than teaching her that sin has consequences.

No, it is my greatest responsibility and privilege to teach Little Bug, at the age of 3, that sin always has consequences. The choices we make have consequences and while our sins are forgiven because of Christ’s death on the cross, the consequences of our sin live with us forever.

Today was humbling for me because I feel so inadequate for this job of bringing this (stubborn, hard-headed) child up in the Lord! I must just press on and trust that God will continue the work He has already started in the life of this precious child.

And that she will learn these lessons well and only have to lose her cup of milk.