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15 Topics to Discuss With Your Spouse

As I mentioned two weeks ago, my husband and I recently attended a class on marriage. At the class, we were given a list of 15 questions to discuss with your spouse developed by Doug Brinley. These promote personal level communication. 

Brinley suggests that before bedtime, you and your spouse choose one topic and discuss it for 15 minutes. You are honest, positive, and willing to risk sharing your thoughts and ideas. Avoid criticism.

This document to the left is a jpg that should be printable quality. If you want to print these questions out all cute-sy, go right ahead!

  1. When I first knew I loved you and wanted to marry you.
  2. My own strengths and weaknesses--how I feel about them. Things I am working to improve.
  3. Events and situations that make me happy--activities that I enjoy doing.
  4. How marriage has been different than I thought it would be.
  5. An outstanding trait I think you have developed since we got married.
  6. My favorite scripture, poem, or spiritual experience.
  7. How I feel about our home and family--how I would like it to be; if I could change one thing.
  8. How I feel about being a dad/mom.
  9. The meaning of intimacy to me--what part it plays in my life.
  10. How I feel about my work and/or homemaking role.
  11. What I enjoy about marriage compared to being single.
  12. My attitude about money, spending, and saving.
  13. Things that depress, frustrate, or discourage me.
  14. A trait I like in other people that I wish I had.
  15. An area I could use some help in carrying out better in our marriage.
I encourage you to take the time to go through these questions. You could do one a week, one a day...whatever works for you. It will help you to talk on a deeper level of communication, which strengthens a relationship.

Brayden Summary: 6.75 Years Old

This is it--the countdown to 7. Doesn't 7 seem old? I think so.

Sleeping is the same. He goes to bed between 8-8:30. He wakes at 7:00 AM. He has rest time once a week on Sunday.

He still eats well and is very adventurous in trying new foods. His tastes are definitely maturing. 

And if you find it super borning to hear "sleep is good" and "food is good"--at least take it as an encouragement that two things that can cause you so much worry in the baby years are not of concern in the child years. You have much bigger "fish to fry" so to speak.

I mentioned last time that he had "growing pains" at night sometimes, and many of you commented you believe growing pains to be very real. He hasn't really had them recently.

Playing is interesting right now. He is very, very into imaginative play, which I think is not really what the average child is focusing on at this age. I haven't looked into it. I know one of my good friends, who is very geniusly imaginative (and I don't use the word "genius" lightly) says she loved to play imaginatinatively much longer than her peers. The strange thing for me is that he was not into imagination as a toddler. I would try to get him to imagine ("Brayden, do you hear those birds? What are they saying?" "Birds don't talk mom."). So I am not sure if he is hitting imagination later than usual, or if he is just going to be super imaginative.

Brayden continues to do well in school. I still help out in class often. A difficulty he faces in class is the same he does at home: being in-charge. He seems to feel it is his duty to keep everyone around him on task and following the rules. He struggles with that at home, too. That is his task he is working on improving at home and at school.

At the last parent/teacher conference, his teacher told me his reading level, and I realized we aren't encouraging him to read on the level he is at when at home. I was going by the books they are sending home for reading groups, but he is actually at a fourth grade reading level. We started having him read one picture book to Kaitlyn each night while we are doing bedtime routine. This is still not up to fourth grade level, but picture books have a great variety in vocabulary words. He also will read ahead silently in his chapter books, which for some reason I find incredibly cute. I guess it is because I have always desired for my children to love to read, so it thrills me to see my baby boy reading those books on his own and because he can't wait to see what happens.

Home life is going well. Like I said, he has his moments of thinking he is "large and in charge." 

He is super sweet and empathetic. As I have been pregnant, he always dashes to get me a bowl to throw up in and he cries with me when I do throw up. He is the only one ever to cry with me while I throw up (he did it as a baby, too, when I was pregnant). He loves to help out as best he can.

He was having some issues with basically being pessimistic. When it was time to go to school and he had to stop playing in the morning, he would be upset. We have spent a lot of time the last month focusing on what we are grateful for. "Instead of being upset playtime is over, be grateful for all the fun you had while playing." It really stems back to having trouble with transitions unless he has warning--an issue he has always faced. If I tell him "five more minutes until it is time to go to school" he has no issue with it. The trouble is, I think he is old enough it is time to learn coping skills because life won't always give you a five minute warning. 

Last time, I mentioned that we were working on Brayden not telling people they were wrong. He is doing great at this. But, like I said, his current thing to work on is a close cousin to his previous goal and that is his feeling he needs to keep people on task. We remind him he doesn't need to be the parent or the teacher--he needs to be the brother, friend, and student. While I know he can't grasp it yet (not until he is an adult), I tell him he needs to enjoy being a child. Once you become and adult, you can't go back to childhood. You can't relinquish that responsibility once it is yours. The time to enjoy childhood is now. 

Favorite toy is still, hands down, Legos.

We are still reading the same series. I should add he also reads various picture books as well as science books. 
I don't want to post a detailed schedule of his day on the internet, so I will do generalities.

Before School (day starts at 7 AM)
Before school he does these activities:
  • Gets ready (shower, dressed, pray, brush teeth, make bed, eat breakfast)
  • Read church magazine (I like to read an article from a church magazine we get to help him have a peaceful frame of mind before going to school)
  • Plays with Kaitlyn
  • He sometimes practices his piano before school--sometimes after school
School Day
  • School stuff
After School
  • Homework
  • Practice piano if didn't do it in the morning
  • Video game time (three days a week)
  • Play with siblings
  • Dinner
  • Chores
  • Family time
  • Get ready for bed (in bed by 8-8:30 PM)
Extra Activities
Right now, he has piano lessons, basketball, swimming lessons, and ice skating lessons. We haven't had all of that all at once--we are in the two weeks they all overlap each other. 

TV Time Under Two

"Educational programming" for children under two is not educational at all. In fact, research has shown that there is some negative results from a child under two watching television. I know! That isn't a popular thing to say. But television under two is not for you.

I am sure a lot of you saw this information released from the AAP last fall: 

This says that not only is watching TV--even "educational" TV--is not only not good, but potentially bad. And this statistic literally sent my eyebrows straight up. The average 12 month old gets 1-2 a day.
TV Time Rules for Children under two | toddlers | children | #television
hours of screen time

This article sites some things that are negative about TV usage prior to two:
  • Studies consistently find that a child under two cannot learn anything from the TV anyway
  • Using TV as a sleep crutch leads to poor sleep habits
  • While the TV is on, you are interacting with your child less
  • Three studies have found a link between "educational television" and developmental delays
  • There may also be a link to poor attention spans
  • It distracts baby from play (even as a background noise)
So with these negative effects, what is it about the TV that makes parents choose to allow their child to watch TV anyway? I am sure some "just don't buy it" and think it can't possibly harm. I am sure some are unaware. I am sure some feel they need the TV to give them time to themselves--even if it is just to shower and brush their teeth. 

Ari Brown of the Academy says, "“We know you can’t spend 24 hours a day reading to your child and playing with them. That’s okay. What’s also okay is your child playing independently,” she said. “That’s valuable time. They’re problem-solving. They’re using their imagination, thinking creatively and entertaining themselves.”

My children have never been big TV watchers prior to age two. I purposefully limit it (and ban it), but I also just couldn't fit it in my day if I wanted to. Okay, I guess I could cut something out for TV if it was a priority to me. But we don't ever need it. Naps, mealtimes, independent playtime, family seems hard enough to get that time in with baby without adding television to our day. I can see it being a tempting crutch once baby went to one nap a day and was awake longer. 

All of my children have seen a television show before age two. Brayden saw it earliest, then Kaitlyn, then McKenna. With Brayden I did what just naturally felt right. He started watching TV when I was pregnant with Kaitlyn and he was down to one nap. I needed that 30 minutes a day to just sit still. I sat by him on the couch. But by the time McKenna came along, I had formed a more solid opinion that TV was not only unnecessary, but even not good. She didn't really watch TV until after she turned two, and didn't start any sort of consistency with TV until  she was about 2.75 (winter time for us). I still don't let her watch it every day. She is, however, at a point where there is learning to be had from educational programming. 

I encourage you to read the article and encourage you to limit if not totally banish TV for the first two years. I am not saying forever (unless you want to, that is fine). Just the first two years. After that, there is learning that happens. 

What are your TV rules in your home?

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A Minute For Me {Winner}

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Pinteresting Fridays: Organization

Today let's focus on some fun ideas to get you more organized.

by Kaye Winiecki

I try to refrain from commenting on these, but this one needs to be commented on. Something like this is fabulous. You can consolidate your child's artwork, and as your child grows, you will be floored by the massive amounts of artwork that show up in your house. I have a friend that puts the actual work in a scrapbook--just glues it right in there. That would work great,  too, and then you get the original. There are lots of ways  to do this--just do it. You will thank yourself.

by The V Spot

compiled by design finch

by Operation Organization

by IHeartOrganizing

See my organization pinboard here:

3 Reasons YOU Get To Be In Charge

Following the Leader

There is definitely some trepidation in society from parents on taking the leadership role as parents. I am not really sure why that is. I don't know what led us to this point. Part of it, I am sure, springs forth from the idea of "child-centered" parenting. Putting the child's needs before the parent's or family's on a consistent basis can kind of make you a bit hesitant to step up and take charge as a parent (you might hurt the child's feelings if you do that).

In The Parenting Breakthrough, Merrilee Boyack's third principle is: Remember that we are the parents and we are in charge (page 19). 

Simple right? Makes sense? And yet we hesitate. Part of me can see why. I remember my mom when she was my age. She had me young enough that I was old enough to really remember her and her parenting. I don't know what she was feeling inside, but she definitely seemed perfectly confident in her parenting decisions. I honestly don't feel that confident. Perhaps the world of our children is much, much different than our world was at that age. The difference between my life as a 6 year old and Brayden's life as a 6 year old are quite different. 

Brayden lives in a world of technology. He also lives in a world of danger. When I was 6, it wasn't even a law that I had to wear a seat belt. Brayden not only needs a seat belt, but a booster seat to go with it. He lives in a world where it isn't safe to just wander the neighborhood. I wandered all over the place when I was six. 

For my mom and I, however, our worlds were pretty similar as six year olds. Sure, cars were a bit better and VCRs were about to come out, but I watched a black and white television as a six year old just like my mom did. No microwave, just like my mom. Life was very similar. 

Despite the differences in our worlds, we are still the parents, and I believe that means we not only "get" to be in charge, but that we "must" be in charge. It is our DUTY to raise our children. If we neglect that duty, we will have to answer for it. 

And it isn't always easy. As Boyack points out, "As parents, we have to be willing to experience frustration, lack of cooperation, and challenges to our patience and certainly our sanity, all without giving in!" (page 21).

If you are feeling a lack of confidence in you being in charge, Boyack offers three reasons.

You have more experience and more intelligence than your children do. Boyack points out that your children won't believe that and won't accept it, but that doesn't mean it isn't true. I remember not realizing how smart my parents were really until I moved out of the house. That is the moment you suddenly appreciate all they did for you. Then you have your own children and appreciate them even more.

Boyack points out that you don't wake up in the morning with the desire to be a bad parent. Each day, you want to do the best you can. You are trying your best, and that is fabulous.

The Lord has entrusted you to take care of these children, and He will help you do so. You can pray for direction, and you can get direction. Maintain your humility in this and it will take you far.

There you have three great reasons you should be in charge, not your child. Face this responsibility with confidence (while remembering humility) and you can guide your child in the direction he or she needs to go.

Related Posts/Blog Labels:


5-15 minutes once a day
  2 (4%)
5-15 minutes twice a day
  6 (12%)
15-30 minutes once a day
  9 (18%)
15-30 minutes twice a day
  16 (32%)
30-40 minutes
  7 (14%)
40-50 minutes
  3 (6%)
50-60 minutes
  6 (12%)

Votes so far: 49 


Reminder: You can leave comments on poll results posts if you would like to add to the poll after it has closed. This would be helpful for those who have more than one child, those whose children have reached certain ages after a poll closed, and those who didn't visit the blog while that poll was open. To find closed polls, click on the poll results link above

How to Prepare Your Child for Surgery

Two of my children have had surgery thus far in life. It is always a scary thing--surgery. While most of the time things go right, sometimes things go wrong and that can be nerve wracking. I think it is helpful to prepare yourself and your family ahead of time and to know what to do to help make the whole process easier.
How to Prepare Your Child for Surgery | surgery tips | surgery | #surgery

With Brayden, I had months to research and prepare for his sugery. He had what is called "trigger finger" in his thumb, which meant his ligament was preventing him from extending his thumb fully. His proceedure was rather simple. I was able to talk to moms whose children had been through surgery and get their wealth of knowledge and experience before facing it.

With McKenna, however, I had less than 24 hours notice before her surgery, and a proceedure was added during surgery, giving me no time to prepare. Her initial surgery was  for ear tubes, which is very simple, but she also had an adenoidectomy and a tonsillectomy added at the last moment. The tonsillectomy is not quite so easy and low impact. 

Because of the short time frame I had with McKenna, I thought a post on this blog with genearl tips on prepping for surgery would be helpful for anyone of you whose child needs to have surgery.

    How to Prepare Your Child for Surgery | surgery tips | surgery | #surgery
  • Ask Questions: As your doctor, ask your friends, neighbors--anyone you can get in contact with for their experience and what things you should be asking. A hard thing with surgery is we often don't know what we should know. People who have been there can help us out with that.
  • Research: Do your own research on the procedure. Don't just rely on what the surgeon is telling you pre-op. Again, ask people about their experience. What should you expect pre-op and post-op? Ask on social networking sites, read reputable websites, read journal articles....find  out  what you can.
  • Stock Up at Home:: Buy what you will need before the surgery. Buy foods, medicines, humidifiers, etc. all beforehand so you have it at home. Going shopping with a child who just had surgery is even less fun than with a healthy child. Waiting at home while your spouse runs to the store for needed supplies is also not fun if the child is in need of it. Many surgeons will even call in prescriptions the day before surgery so you can have that at home, also.
  • Talk to Your Child: Explain in a way that you think is best for your child. Why is she having surgery? We told McKenna she was having surgery so her ears wouldn't always be in such pain. She had been living with pain in her ears for long enough that this was very exciting for her. Tell the child what you will do (though I don't think I would tell what the surgeon would do). "we will get up early and then go to the hospital. We will put you in a special outfit. You will go with the anesthesiologist...etc." This is training in times of non-conflict. Tell your child enough to give her the tools and power of knowing what is going on without so much it scares her.
Take Along
Your doctor and hospital will give you ideas of things to bring with you to the surgery. Here is my list:
  • Easy to change clothes: your chilld will most likely be changed into a gown for the operation and then back into her clothes before going home. You will want these to be easy to change.
  • Sippy cup/bottle: I would bring your child's own cup to the surgery. After surgery, your child will need to drink so much liquid before leaving, and it will be easiest to do this with a child coming off of anesthesia if she has her own cup she likes to drink from.
  • Camera: Capture the day on film.
  • Blanket: Bring along your child's favorite blanket (or just a familiar blanket if she doesn't have a favorite). 
  • Lovey: We brought a favorite stuffed animal. We did our surgeries at two different hospitals, and both allowed the child to take a stuffed animal (or several) into the operating room. McKenna chose not to take one into the OR, but Brayden brought his. They even bandaged his giraffe up just like him. 
  • Other entertaining items: We brought some toy trains for Brayden. For McKenna, we had Elmo on my husband's iPhone that we turned on after the surgery when she was waking up. It helped her to be a little more calm. 
At Home
  • Be comfortable: Make your child as comfortable as needed. For Brayden's surgery, he was able to go about his day as usual, just with a large bandage on one hand. McKenna, however, was down for the day. She was on the couch all day and her menu was significantly different. I made her very comfortable on the couch, and myself very comfortable on the other couch.
  • Be present: After anesthesia, you need to watch for blood clots. Because of this, I didn't even take McKenna to her room for a nap. I stayed right by her side the whole day so I could watch her. 
Extra Tips
  • I really worried about the no food and water after X time thing--especially in the morning. Both of these children are big eaters who want to eat as soon as they wake up. There really isn't need for worrying. Niether of my children asked for food nor water. Both hospitals we went to were great and had us scheduled first thing in the morning, so we had to wake the child up to go to the hospital. That definitely made it easier to go without food and water. Once at the hospital, things are so new and they are just nervous enough they don't think about it.
  • Some hospitals will allow you to take your child to the operating room and stay until the child is asleep. Others take the child at a certain spot. Both hospitals we went to take the child. With Brayden, they carried him and he cried for about 10 seconds, and then was okay. With McKenna, she walked out hand and hand with the anesthesiologist chattering away. We knew what was going to happen and had better prepared her for what was to come, so she was okay with it.
  • Some children are "angry" when coming off of anesthesia. Pretty much all children cry (if not completely all). Some are just angry. That is Brayden. He was angry while waking up. It is definitely easier to have just a sad waker (like McKenna) than an angry one. The child doesn't stay angry for long and doesn't remember it later.
  • Don't be worried about things getting off the normal routine. The child will bounce right back into routine happily once she has recuperated. 
  • Some children have a hard time with doctors or dentists after a surgery. Brayden was fine with his doctor, but the dentist freaked him out for the next year. He had previously not be scared at the dentist, but having to lay down and open his mouth and have a person with a surgical mask lean over him really scared him. He did get over it, but it was sad to see. It remains to be seen if McKenna will have the same reaction with the dentist. The doctor is fine. 
If you have any tips for preparing for, going to, or after the surgery, please share!

Aahhh Presidents

A dear friend of mine is married to a man who works at a bank. He definitely was thinking when he chose his profession because he gets lots of extra holidays off throughout the year that the average worker does not get (a fact he likes to remind my husband of with plenty of advance of the day...then my husband makes movies in just goes back and forth...I won't go into the differences between men and women at this point).

ANYWAY, school children also get most of these days off. Wasn't that fun? Getting days off all the time in school? Not college school--elementary school. That is where the holidays were awesome. I really, really, really think some holidays should be standard--like Civil Rights day--why is that not standard? Doesn't that one seem like a pretty big deal in our history? Shouldn't it get a little more respect?

ANYWAY...I have decided that for my pregnancy, I will follow the example of the bankers and school children of the USA and take those holidays off myself. So today instead of a regular post, you get to read a some-what (or lot-what) rambling post that takes several paragraphs to say "I am taking today off." I guess that is what you get when I am pregnant and tired and sick. Rambling. Just enjoy it. 

Exercise and Pregnancy

One of my biggest questions when I got pregnant this time was "What can I do for exercise?"

How to exercise during pregnancy
I know several women personally who I have watched do pretty regular exercises throughout pregnancy who all had great deliveries and healthy babies--so I knew it was a possibility. I had never consistently exercised during a pregnancy before. I honestly couldn't even fathom that someone could do that. Between morning sickness and extreme fatigue, I didn't know how you could possibly exercise.

However, I had been exercising almost daily for almost two years. This is not something you can easily just give up, and I didn't want to. I didn't want to go back to square one in the pain I went through to build up my endurance. I had also read many times that exercise was good for you. Great! But what exercises? 

I decided to turn to my friend Charlotte and her blog "The Great Fitness Experiment." She recently (recently in my mind...not terribly recently in reality, but my mind is in charge right now) had a baby and had several posts on exercise during pregnancy. One that really helped was this one: Myth Busting: Fitness in Pregnancy.

And then because I am her friend, I went ahead and emailed her for more assurance. 

My worry with exercise and pregnancy is hurting my baby. I have lost a baby. I know the pain and I never want to go there again. Char has also lost babies, so she understands my worries. 

The thing that stuck with me through our emails was to "listen to my body." Makes perfect sense! But isn't perfectly easy, I found out. You see, I had been working for the last two years to push my body further than my body thought it could go. Exercise is about discomfort. It is supposed to hurt. You are supposed to get tired. I had to figure out how to listen to my body and distinguish what was "slow down for baby" and what was "I want an excuse to slow down."

I spent the first 8 weeks working out the same as I had been--with Jillian Michaels. I love her work outs. The problem I ran into, however, was that she pushes you hard. It wasn't working out for me--I felt like I was pushing harder than I should and I spent all day every day in more worry about losing the baby than I would normally. Yes, I know women do more intense things throughout the pregnancy. My mom was one of those women. But I felt worried, and I think part of listening to your body is listening to your "intuition" or whatever you want to call it and I knew I needed to tone it down.

So I ordered Lindsay Brin's pregnancy DVDs. She has one for each trimester that is designed to help you strengthen your body in the right places for your growing belly. She throws out lots of helpful information (like, did you know your hamstring tightens throughout pregnancy and if you are having lower back pain, stretching your hamstring can help with that?). She also encourages you to go only as far as you can go, and she gives you limits to get to. She reminds you to get water breaks and to take it easier that day if you need to. It is great for me. It is not an extremely intense workout. It also is quite long. It has been good for me, though. I also work out on my elliptical a couple of times a week.

Okay, so after that long, anecdotal story, let's get down to the bare information about exercise in pregnancy.

Yes, this is a hard one. I still find it most effective to exercise before my children wake up, but once morning sickness really hit me, I found this very difficult (if not impossible) to do. I have to eat before I exercise, and then I have to sit for at least 30 minutes or that food is coming back up. Then the kids are up and in need of things. 

I have had to let go of what I used to be able to get done. I can't expect to do what I used to do. If I want exercise to be a part of my day, I have to do it later in the morning. A hard thing with that, though, comes when I have to be ready by 9 AM to take children to various places, so it isn't always happening every day, but I am still trying to work it all out. I shoot for 5 days a week, but I don't always make it in the last 4 weeks with morning sickness. It is okay; when morning sickness backs off, I should be able to do it more.

I still do it at home.

Like I said, I am currently doing:
There are lots of great exercises you can do. Generally speaking, you can stick with whatever you were doing before. You can maintain your weights--but not increase. Walking is great, as is yoga and swimming. The things to avoid are things that can cause falling, and during second trimester and beyond, laying on your back isn't great. Yes, some people do things that have a high risk for falling. In Hawaii, my husband and friends were taking surfing lessons. I declined due to pregnancy, and the surf instructor and his girlfriend (both older) said, "Oh, that's fine! Pregnant women surf all the time!" Sure, but they probably already know what they are doing. They are also obviously more comfortable with the risk. I am not--not willing to risk it.

Bottom line, listen to your body. Do what feels comfortable. Do some reading on it so you know what is safe and what is not. Listen to yourself--your body, head, and heart. 

I would love to hear from you! What pregnancy workouts do you love? What activities? Any DVDs that you loved? Share share!

Love and Logic Magic: Strong Dose of Empathy

image source

Let's take a moment to imagine something. Imagine you are a child--let's say four years old. You just got a soccer ball for your birthday. Your mom explained very plainly that you were not allowed to play with the ball in the house. Temptation gets the better of you and you eventually start to play with it. Play gets more and more intense until you eventually hit a picture on the wall that comes falling down--breaking the frame.

Imagine how you feel right now.

Mom comes in the room and instantly sees what happened. Mom can respond in many ways, but let's say mom is very consistent with her rules and you know she will follow through with her warning about what would happen if you disobeyed the rule to not play in the house. Considering Mom will follow through, there are basically a couple of ways she could go about it.

Scenario One
Mom's voice raises and she says something to the effect of:

"Oh my goodness! Billy! Why did you do that!! Do you see what happens when you don't follow the rules? Now my frame is broken! I can't believe you just didn't listen. I hope this teaches you to listen to me in the future. Give me your ball. You aren't getting this thing back mister."

Mom is frustrated, and she shows it. She provides some lecture for you so she can make sure you know you just messed up big time. 

Imagine it. 

Now imagine how you feel. How do you feel toward Mom? How do you feel about losing your ball?

Scenario Two
Mom speaks. She is firm, but does not raise her voice.

"Oh dear! Looks like you decided to play with the ball in the house. That is too bad. You remember the rule right? If you play with the ball in the house, you lose it? That is too bad. I know you were looking forward to playing with that ball outside this afternoon."

Mom  is firm and sticks to her rules, but she shows you empathy. Maybe she even gives you a hug.

Imagine it.

Now imagine how you feel. How do you feel toward Mom? How do you feel about losing your ball?

I hope you were able to feel how children ttend to feel in these two scenarios.

In a situation like scenario one, the child often turns his disappointment and shame over what he has done and what that means into anger toward the parent. Instead of accepting that the situation was caused by him and is his fault, he feels anger toward the parent and blames the parent for losing his ball. 

In a situation like scenario two, however, the child understands he brought this on himself. He just made a mistake. He knows mom feels sad for him--he isn't angry at her for his choices. She isn't rubbing it in. 

The consequence in each scenario was the same. The actions that led to each scenario were the same. The difference was the attitude of mom when she responded. 

This is why your response when your child does something he or she should not do is incredibly powerful. Your response can make the difference in whether or not your child accepts personal responsibility. The disappointment over the situation remains on the child's actions rather than transferring to the angry adult.

Whether you are an adult or a child, you will appreciate your mistakes being met with empathy rather than anger. A child is small and is often scared when he or she messes up. Children want to please and when they do something that will disappoint mom or dad, it makes them sad. They are also sad to receive consequences.  The love you can show them helps them see mom and dad will be there and love them even when they mess up. 

Love and Logic Magic
This principle is discussed in  Love and Logic Magic for Early Childhood  right around page 15/16. Here are some tips I wrote down from the pages on this topic:
  • Share empathy before delivering consequences
  • Be strict and loving
  • Allow mistakes and allow child to learn from them (this means you don't take back your previously laid out consequence just because your child is sad)
  • Don't respond in anger, frustration, or lectures
  • Deliver consequences with empathy instead of anger. You share the same message but put empathy in place of the anger
My Experience
I tend to respond with empathy rather than anger. I read Parenting with Love and Logic when Brayden was just about to turn two, and this is a principle that rang very true with me. I have seen this to be true. I haven't always been perfect at the empathy (like, for some reason when a child spills milk at ever meal because she is goofing around makes it hard for me to show empathy). So I know that the empathy path is much more effective than the frustration path. 

I encourage you to try it ans see what kind of difference it makes. If this is a principle you have tried, how do you like it?

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I often hear from other women about compliments and how they have a hard time giving them. Not because they don't want to or because they don't think the nice things. I think we all think nice things all the time--we just don't say them nearly as often as we think them.

Then the conversation turns to how silly it is that we don't just say the compliment we are thinking because what does it hurt? How hard is it?

The other night, I attended a class on marriage. The presenters had some tips on parenting also. One thing the woman talked about was levels of communication. I won't go into all of it, but she pointed out that complimenting a person is a deeper level of communication, and one that often makes us uncomfortable. The reason is we feel vulnerable when we compliment, so people really only feel comfortable complimenting if they feel secure in the relationship. She then pointed out the importance of complimenting our spouses and our children, and that if done so, it would bring our relationships closer together.

That sparked an idea in my head. My husband was with me in the class and agreed to my idea.

Here is our newest family tradition. I can't yet testify to the power of the tradition--we haven't been doing it long enough. But I have seen such wonderful results so quickly, and I feel like it is such a great idea, that I didn't want to wait to tell you. I want you to know now. It is very simple.

Each night at family prayer, we kneel in a circle (this is old tradition). The new part is we now each offer a compliment to another member of the family. I think the easiest way to do this would to go down the line and on the first night, everyone compliments Dad. The next, everyone compliments Mom. Next, Brayden, etc. It would be esaiest to remember who gets the compliments that night.

But I think it would be very beneficial to the family to each get a compliment each day.

So we are rotating. Night one went like this:

Mom complimented Dad
Dad complimented Brayden
Brayden complimented Kaitlyn
Kaitlyn complimented McKenna
McKenna complimented Mom

Night two:

Mom complimented Brayden
Dad complimented Kaitlyn
Brayden complimented McKenna
Kaitlyn complimented Mom
McKenna complimented Dad

So each night, the right column moves up one. This is similar to how many families alternate gift exchanges from Christmas to Christmas. 

Do you want to know what McKenna said to me night one? "I like that you are a friend of Jesus." Isn't that one of the sweetest things a child could say to a parent? 

I encourage you to try it. My children just light up when they hear the compliment given them. 

Best Things...12-15 Months Old

This can be a hard age--especially if it is your first child. The now pre-toddler is more mobile and has more of a mind of her own, so she is often requiring more redirection and you will likely encounter your first little tantrum during this time period. There are so many things to appreciate in this time period, though, both from what the child is learning and what the child is not yet doing. So on this Valentine's Day, I wanted to share things I  LOVE about this age.
  1. Still small and cuddly: The child this age is still small and cuddly. I know not all children cuddle, but they are small enough to easily have in your lap or arms and be comfortably wrapped up by you.
  2. Trying new foods: With the first birthday behind her, she will be able to try all sorts of new foods. I find it very fun and exciting to see how my children like these new tastes and textures.
  3. Better physical skills: It is fun to watch your child get better at walking, feeding self with a spoon, and the other physical skills she is starting to pick up on.
  4. Enjoys having fun: The child in this age range is really starting to love sliding, swinging, and other fun activities you envisioned your child doing when you were first pregnant.
  5. Easily entertained: The child in this age range is still easily entertained. I remember McKenna could sit happily in a sandbox for over an hour--no toys needed. The sandbox was enough.
  6. Growing interest in kid stuff: In addition to the playground, your child will show more interest and ability in things like coloring. 
  7. Better communication skills: Your child will be better at communicating verbally and non-verbally. You will better be able to tell that she understands you. And anyone with older children appreciates that despite this language growth, and even with some little tantrums, the child this age is still not really back-talking.
  8. Follows instructions: The child in this age range can typically follow a 1-3 step command process. This is fun because not only is she able to listen to your instruction, but it further shows you her language comprehension.
  9. More playful with toys: Your child will start to be able to build small towers with blocks and just play in general with toys more. It is fun to watch.
  10. Excited about life: This is true for children in this age range and for quite a while forward. They are so excited about life and so fascinated with things we take for granted: a moving leaf, the blades of grass, the blue sky, the feel of a breeze...I love watching this discovery process!
What about you? What are your favorites from this age group?

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Mealtime Offenses (and Defenses)

Mealtime can present a wide array of problems in behavior from your child, but luckily there is plenty you can do to stop it if you have a plan in place. On Becoming Babywise Book Two dedicates an entire chapter to coaching you through this process(starting on page 65). I will encourage you as they do: consistency is key.

Some common problems that come with mealtime are: flipping plate, throwing food, screaming, blowing raspberries, standing, arching back, banging tray, and intentionally making messes (in hair, on plate, on floor, etc.). Here is what I do. My methods do vary from the methods outlined in On Becoming Babywise Book Two. Both are effective. The "how" is different, but "why" is the same.

Step One
I start with a gentle "That's a no." I usually follow that up with "we don't XYZ." For some, this will be enough. Most, if not all, will at some point continue the behavior out of curiosity over what you will do when she does so. You will continue on to step two, calmly.

If she complies, then thank her for obeying you and commend her for it. I say, "Thank you for obeying! That is a good girl to obey Mommy."

Step Two
This is a light consequence moment. Babywise suggests you remove baby to her bed, but my baby's bed is far from the kitchen. Having to go to the bed would make disciplining at this point enough of a pain I might avoid it. So, I leave baby in the highchair, but remove any  food (our highchair has a top tray, so I just remove that tray and baby still has a tray). I then tell baby, "uh-oh. Looks like you don't want to obey. Let's take a break." For a younger baby, around 6 months, I would sit there and just pause from feeding for a minute. As the baby gets older and more aware of what she is doing, I turn the baby so she can't see me (though she can see outside and that is fine). After a minute or two, we try again. If the child does the offense again, I may or may not start with step one and retry. I also might go to step three.

Step Three 
This is when I assume baby is done eating and we end mealtime. This is if it is safe to assume baby is acting out because baby doesn't want more food. I don't end it if baby is still hungry. One note, if baby is doing it to get out of the highchair, you don't want to reward the behavior. For example, Kaitlyn would sometimes push all of her food onto the floor when she was done. I definitely did not then remove her from her high chair immediately. I taught her the right way and she waited for a minute or two before she got out.

Remember Prevention
There are plenty of chances to teach your baby to obey you without having to turn mealtime into a battle ground. If your child insists on standing in the highchair, strap her in. It keeps her safe and keeps mealtime about the meal.

If your child plays with her plate, don't give her a plate (this is for babies). I don't ever give my children under age one a plate. I don't usually give them a plate until they are out of the highchair and sitting at the table.

If your baby likes to blow raspberries, practice that in the tub. The tub is a great place for raspberries. This is practicing substitution. Raspberries are a normal things for a baby to do, but that doesn't mean that baby needs to do them while eating food. You don't need to wear it and you don't need to wear a space suit to stay clean. Baby can do raspberries elsewhere and still get satisfaction from it. 

I also don't have a problem with my baby holding a toy in her hand while she eats. Our highchair came with some toys, so my babies have all held a spoon or little pan while eating. You could use a baby spoon. I don't let them put the toy in their mouth while eating (easier said than done with some). It keeps baby content to just eat, and it has never caused problems in our future. 

Apply Consequences
You can also offer consequences. If your child insists on making a mess of the food, give her one piece at a time until she can handle having a few pieces. That actually leads to a good point that you don't want to put too much food in front of your child anyway. 

If she slams her tray and won't stop, buckle her in and remove the tray. 

If she arches her back, patiently wait for her to be done before you make your next move. She is likely doing it out of frustration over something.

Practice Outside Mealtime
Remember to teach sign language (she might be screaming because she is either done or wants more). 

Also, work with her to obey at other points in the day. 

The mealtime issues can be easily addressed. Make a plan, prevent where you can, and eat in peace! Do you have anything unique you do in your home? Please share!

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Pinteresting Fridays: Fun Family Activities

Here are some fun ideas for activities to do with your children!

by Let's Explore Play Every Day!

by Celebrate Every Day With Me

by Miss Pretty Pretty Etsy shop

by Digital Reflections

by Counting on Me

To see more great ideas for children I have found on Pinterest, visit me here:

Top Sleep Tips to Get Your Baby Sleeping

by Rachel Rowell from My Baby Sleep Guide

This list will work for any age child, but it is especially made for younger children and newborns. I hope it helps!

Top Sleep Tips to Get Your Baby Sleeping | baby sleep | #babysleep

Avoid overtiredness.
I can't mention this enough. Pay attention to your baby's waketime, pay attention to your baby's sleep cues and consider keeping a sleep log. Keep in mind that newborns are often up only to eat and have their diaper changed and then it is time to go back to sleep. If you keep a newborn up too long, helping her go to sleep is going to be really hard--for the both of you! Find that optimal waketime and try hard to keep with it. And keep in mind that it changes and you need to change with it or you'll have a whole new set of problems!

Swaddle your baby. A newborn that is swaddled is more likely to sleep for longer stretches of time--for naps and during the night. She will also probably settle more easily to sleep. Now who wouldn't want that? I really like specially made swaddle blankets. I have found that they keep most babies swaddled better and they also make sure baby is swaddled the correct way (see hip dysplasia and swaddling). There are some great ones out there that even help keep those houdinies swaddled!

Help baby distinguish night from day. Some people go all out on trying to help baby distinguish night from day. They keep things crazy loud and bright during the day-- even during naps. I haven't found it necessary to do this to such an extent. Simply keeping things light and somewhat active during baby's waketimes during the day and quiet and dark at night is usually enough to let baby know the difference between these two times. And only change a diaper at night if you need to (they will end up sleeping in their own pee until they are potty trained so don't worry about it--you can't help it!). By need to I mean they won't leak their diapers. Try night time diapers, a bigger size up diaper, cloth inserts or even a soaker cover to prevent night time leaks. In older children, don't give them much to drink before bed.

And of course, the eat/wake/sleep cycle does wonders at helping baby distinguish day from night.

Avoid overstimulation. Newborns get overstimulated very easily. Even staring at your face can be pretty intense for them. I know they are cute, but try to contain yourself :) If you (or grandma) overdue it, you very likely will have a baby that has a hard time settling down for sleep. Older children get overstimulated too, so try to turn off the tv and stop the roughhousing at least 30 minutes before bed (how long before depends upon your child).
Top Sleep Tips to Get Your Baby Sleeping | baby sleep | #babysleep

Avoid Sleep Props. Sleep props, like consistently nursing or rocking to sleep, don't always cause problems with sleep, but more likely than not they will. So try to "start as you mean to go on" as the Baby Whisperer says. Sometimes we have to do sleep props to survive or to ensure our child gets some sleep or to extend naps and that is OK. You do what works for you and your baby and your particular situation. Starting as you mean to go on is good, but sometimes it doesn't work out out perfectly.

Try to put your child to sleep drowsy but awake. As your child gets older you will probably be putting her to sleep more and more awake. If she starts to resist you when you try to get her drowsy before sleep, it is probably time to put her to sleep more awake.

Follow a Routine/Schedule. Children thrive on routines and consistency as you all know. Keep a consistent morning wake time. Follow the pdf method and the eat/wake/sleep cycle. Encourage full feedings. Try to avoid sleeping during feeds. Be consistent, but flexible.

Start a Pre-Sleep Routine. Make the sleep routine soothing, consistent, predictable and something to look forward to. Avoid things, like the TV, that may be stimulating. Dim the lights. Read a book. Sing a special song. Give lots of snuggles. Enjoy your special time together :)

Be consistent. I have mentioned consistency more than once during this post but it is important enough that I want to mention it again. If you want good results, you need to be {mostly} consistent. Also give things long enough time to work before you decide what does and doesn't work. It is fine to change things up, but don't throw ten different things at your child at once without ever giving them a good try. You'll send her for a tail spin and you'll have no idea what caused what and what helped or hurt.

Top Sleep Tips to Get Your Baby Sleeping | baby sleep | #babysleepCreate a good sleep environment. Keep the temperature around 65-70 degrees Farenheit. Make sure the room is dark at night and in the early morning hours. Try to have your child sleep is his actual bed if at all possible. Avoid itchy clothing and use footed sleepers and sleeper blankets instead of blankets for young children. You might want to consider using white noise if you have a really noisy house or if you child seems to benefit from this.

Stick to an early bedtime. This one thing alone fixes so many problems! Most children do best with a bedtime around 6-8 (depending on naps, morning wake time, age and total sleep required at night). Bedtime may be earlier than usual for a while if you are adjusting to a dropped nap or other changes. It may also be super early for a while if you are trying to combat a cycle of over tiredness. Also, many babies do a bit better with a slightly later bedtime during the newborn period. This usually naturally moves earlier as they get older.

Consider tanking up with cluster feeding and the dreamfeed. Tanking up helps to {hopefully} extend night sleep and the dream feed helps to put the longest stretch of sleep right when you go to bed. And when baby starts sleeping longer, the dreamfeed will be the one and only night feed, instead of one in the middle of the night. NICE.

Feel comfortable with whatever you are doing. Don't do something unless you are comfortable doing it, especially when it comes to sleep training. If you do, you will feel crummy doing it and you will likely not stick with it. But remember, just because something is hard to do, it doesn't mean it is the wrong thing to do.

Watch your baby's cues closely and expect change. The one consistency with babies is their ability to keep changing! Change with them or sleep problems will pop up.

Trial and error is the only way to figure out if something actually works! You won't know until you try it! Waiting until you know exactly what will work (which is impossible to know) will just lead to a lot of waiting!

Realize that many newborns do not sleep well in the evening during their "witching hour". Instead of feeling frustrated about this, use this time to get out and do something with your baby (who won't sleep at home anyway). Use the swing or a baby carrier. Do what works to get you through this time. My youngest spent most evenings in a wrap the first few months of his life. It kept him content during this fussy time and he even fell asleep sometimes.

Learn about developmental periods that make sleep training or sleep in general tough. One of these is the Wonder Weeks. During this time your child mental (and often accompanying physical changes) that cause him to see the world in a while new light--and sleep often suffers. If you know about this, you'll have a heads up about what is going on and won't be so flustered. There are also developmental periods mentioned in the book Bedtiming that may not work well for initiating sleep training.

Relax! Don't obsess! Relax! Enjoy your baby. There will be sleep regressions and hiccups along the way. Remember, all babies have their off days just like we do. Don't worry about it.

Keep the end goal in mind when things are tough and you feel like giving up. Try working on one thing at a time. Find some support (like this site!). Have some {more} patience (remember, your baby is only X weeks old :)  Relax and don't let that bad nap ruin your day!
 The Babywise Mom Book of Naps