Monday, November 29, 2010

One Meal

Sometimes it is not easy to figure out what to feed my kids. My son isn't that picky, but he often doesn't want to stop playing to eat. So, for dinner one night, I gave Eldest what I called a One Meal, meaning, there was one of a lot of different items:
one bite of a leftover meal
piece of string cheese
grape
dried cranberry
olive
carrot
wheat puff
pickle
cheddar cheese cube
mandarin orange wedge
cheerio
'Daddy cereal' Quaker Oat Square
Ritz
gummy vitamin
macaroon
circle of bread with peanut butter on it
star puff
pea
cashew
raisin
slice of quesadilla
baby puff
marshmallow star

It was a big hit. He has asked for it many times, and he at least tries everything I put on the plate. It also gets him to the table without complaint.
I've also learned that calling something a silly name makes it more appetizing. Take for instance, Spaghetti-O's. At first they were car tires, and then they became train wheels when his interest waned. He ate up his "train soup" with gusto last night. Mission accomplished!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Sidetracked

As an adult, I often get sidetracked from what I am doing and forget to go back. I also get distracted easily and my attention wanders. Is it any wonder that little kids so easily forget what they are doing?
I am often frustrated at my son because he is taking his time about doing something. I remember watching a mom deal with her forgetful 4 year old. She reminded him gently what he was supposed to be doing and then said, as an aside, "The little ones get distracted so easily and forget. I have to remind them about their task so they can finish it."
It takes more patience on my part than I think I have. But I have to remember, it is not defiance from my son, it is just a trait of being three. I am trying to patiently and gently remind him of his task. Often, I find myself asking him, "Did you forget what you were doing? Do you need a reminder?" If I use this tactic, he usually says, "Oh yeah!" and goes on to continue his task.
It has taken me almost 30 minutes to write this because I have many distractions in my house. Not just kid distractions, but kitchen, laundry, bathroom and cleaning distractions. I however, am old enough to know that I need to finish my task. My job is to instill that knowledge into my children, and to do it gracefully.
Lord, help me to remember that my frustrations at my son are something I have control over. Help me remember that he is only three and that the forgetfulness is part of the territory. Help me to remember to be gracious to my son.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Day

All my life, if you asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would say I wanted to be a wife and a mother. Even when I went back to finish my bachelor's degree, all of my classmates knew that I wanted to have babies after I graduated.
Well, I have achieved my dream. I have been a wife for 10 years and a mom for almost 4 years. I live in a house with a backyard and I get to stay home and take care of my family and household. I love my life.
It is a good to remind myself of this every once in a while. Today, my children are getting on my nerves, I have ruined part of our Thanksgiving dinner, and my husband is at work.
God has chosen me to be the mom of these children; chosen me to be the wife of my husband; chosen me to be privileged enough to stay home to raise my children; chosen me as one of His children.
I am glad we have a national holiday that reminds us to give thanks. I often think that, as an American, I take my life for granted. I wish we had a little larger house so my kids didn't have to share a room, a little larger yard so they could have room to play and I could have a garden. My pastor often reminds us that as long as we have food, clothing, and shelter, we are better off than 3/4 of the world. I must remember to be thankful for what God has blessed me with, because it is His gift to me, not what I deserve. God's grace is sufficient for me. Another way to say that is that I am blessed with more than I deserve, and I should not complain about the presents I have been given.
It is a good reminder, as my children scream at each other, that I have been blessed. That God has given these children to me to teach me about His blessings.
Thank you, Lord, for the blessings you have given me. Help me be mindful of them and not take them for granted.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Mercy and Grace

Mercy: Not getting the punishment you deserve
Grace: Getting something good you do not deserve
My MOPS meeting last week had a large impact on my mothering. The speaker gave so much practical advice and words of wisdom that I am still processing it.
She didn't come armed with only her own wisdom, but she asked her friends for their wisdom as well. She said the responses were from women ranging in age from the early 20's to the late 80's. One of the ladies gave this advise: have boundaries cloaked in grace.
At first this stumped me (and I am still muddling through the meaning). I have boundaries for my children. But what does it mean to have them cloaked in grace? It means that I need to model and verbalize grace and mercy towards my children. And how do I do this? By allowing a little flexibility in the discipline zone. [I realize I should explain that I am talking about dealing with my 3 yr old. My 1 yr old still needs the consistency of discipline every time.]
The other day, my dear three-and-a-half-year-old son lied to me. It was an out and out lie, and he knew it. It deserved discipline, and he knew that as well. But I told him I was going to be merciful to him and not give him the discipline he knew he deserved. I also told him that next time he lied to me like that, I was not going to be merciful to him, and he was going to have consequences.
Then yesterday, grace happened when I gave my DS the hot chocolate he wanted, but did not merit, due to a bad attitude that morning. I realize now that I should have told him I was being gracious to him and explained about grace, but I didn't. I eagerly await the next opportunity to model and verbalize mercy and grace to my son.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Gentleness

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1

I'm learning that not only does a gentle word turn away wrath, but a gentle tone of voice. When I speak to my kids with annoyance in my voice, they respond with either annoyance or anger. And this just makes me more annoyed. But I've found that when I speak softly and with a gentle tone, not only do they listen better, but their anger is often diffused quicker.
Eldest has been having attitude problems lately. Namely, he is refusing to do what he was asked to and defiantly saying, "No, I don't want to do it." This is not acceptable, and it is frustrating my husband and me. I'm still not sure exactly how to deal with this attitude, but speaking to him with gentleness and love helps the situation. Because while he may still be defiant, my own heart is not responding in kind, and that helps my attitude.
I am not a gentle person by nature, so God is helping me remember that I need to be gentle to my children. Using a soft and gentle tone of voice is helping all of us to have better attitudes.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Sibling Squabbles

My kids are starting to fight with each other. It is usually the older one taking something from the younger one.
At MOPS yesterday, the speaker addressed the issue of sibling squabbles. She said that once they are verbal, you should be teaching them how to work out their problems. She gave the example of her own kids saying that she was not in a position to figure out who was right or wrong, they needed to figure it out between them, because if they didn't, they would both have consequences. She said that changed their attitudes fast, because if they were both to have consequences, no matter who was wronged, they worked things out quickly, or just forgot about it.
Preschool teachers in Japan rarely intervene in arguments between the children. They observe them to make sure violence doesn't erupt, but they let the children work out the situation between them. And the kids resolve the issues on their own. If one child hits another, the other children show empathy to the hurt one and once peer-pressure gets to the offender, that child will apologize.
I've decided to take a step back from my children's squabbles and see what happens. So far, they have worked out most of the problems on their own. Now, if I can just remember not to step in just because I'm annoyed, this might work!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

No Yelling

I have managed not to yell at my kids today.
I managed to stay calm when my son put a blanket over his sister, which he has been told repeatedly not to do. I managed to stay calm as both of them were crying, she because he had scared him, he because I was mad at him.
I managed not to yell when Eldest was fooling around (after being told to stop) and spilled a full cup of milk on the floor. I managed to stay calm as I cleaned it up and he wouldn't stop asking me questions about what I was doing, showing me what I had missed, asking why the milk spilled.
The only time I did yell today was when he almost shut a drawer on his sister's fingers, and it was a scared reaction, not really a frustrated yell.
As I write this, Eldest is in a time out for disobedience again. Still, I didn't yell. It seems my calm demeanor is a little confusing to him, he doesn't know what to make of me. It certainly gets his attention, though, and he knows I mean business.
Lord, help me stay calm and steady in the face of trying situations. Now I have to go get my son and talk to him about the mercy he is going to receive in place of discipline for his disobedience that caused spilt milk.

Frustration and Patience

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