Saturday, December 26, 2009

Captivating Clara

I'm technically a day early, but I know that I'm not in labor so I'm counting today as "making it" to 32 weeks! For those who do not know my history I will give you, well, a little history. (If you know the stories feel free to skip ahead.)
Clara is my fourth child in four years, less than, actually. My first, Emma, was born March 30, 2006 and Clara's due date is February 20, 2010. So whether or not she arrives before that day, she will in fact arrive before Emma turns 4. For a short time I will have a 3 year old, a 2 year old, a 1 year old, and a newborn.

With Emma my water broke at 31 weeks gestation. I was taken to Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis which is connected to Children's Hospital and has the best care for premature babies. I spent 12 days in the hospital on complete bedrest while they continuously monitored me to make sure I didn't get an infection. Each day you sit with your membranes broken increases your chance of infection.
After 10 days the collected amniotic fluid and tested it to see if her lungs were developed and it came back that they were in fact very healthily developed and she wasn't in any danger.
The next day we talked to the doctors about inducing because her risk of having development issues had significantly decreased while my risk of infection had significantly increased. So on day 12, we induced.
She was born at 32 weeks 4 days weighing 4lbs 1oz and was 16 inches long.
She spent 1 month in the SCU (Special Care Unit) before she was able to come home with us.

We found out we were pregnant with George when I was 8 weeks post-partum from Emma. And if you know anything about preterm labor/births, you know that getting pregnant so quickly after delivering increases your chances of having preterm labor or delivery and my chances were even higher considering I had already had one premature delivery.
At 29 weeks gestation I started to dilate - 1cm and was immediately put on bedrest and Terbutaline - to stop any contractions I was having. Though my body was dilating, I never felt any contractions - at least not painful ones. I moved from 1cm to 4cm within just 2-3 weeks. Thankfully, I had numerous people pitch in and help me take care of Emma and our house so that I didn't have to do anything. My mom and mother-in-law were especially helpful.
George was delivered full term, at 37 weeks exactly (7lbs 3oz) - the day after I stopped taking the Terbutaline.

We found out we were pregnant with Wyatt when George was about 5 1/2 months old. So again, the risks or chances of preterm labor/delivery were there. I started Progesterone shots around 16 weeks or so that were to help slow any progression my body would try to make. The kids and I spent much of the winter in North Carolina at Mike's aunt and uncle's house (that they graciously opened up to us) so that we could be closer to Mike while he was at school in Jacksonville. At 27 weeks, while we were there, I started to dilate and was 1cm dilated. I went home with the kids, with the help of Mike's aunt, the next week. I was put on bedrest and Terbutaline again and the kids and I stayed with Mike's parents where his mom took on the immense task of caring for the kids and I every day! We returned home once I was 32 weeks along and Wyatt was born slightly premmaturely at 35 weeks 5 days. But he was a strapping boy of 7lbs. 2oz. and came home with us just like a full term baby would.

Now, here we are with Clara. We didn't get pregnant with her until Wyatt was just over 1, so my body did have a little break. I started Progesterone shots with her right away at 14 weeks because they did help slow my dilation process with Wyatt. At just over 28 weeks I did start to dilate - 1cm, 50% effaced. I was recently checked again at almost 31 weeks and had NO change at all! I did get Betamethazone shots to help her lungs develop. I am not on Terbutaline currently, which I am glad for. And I have not really been able to be on much bedrest considering I have 3 children at home ... that are 3 and under. I'm sure you can guess that I don't have the chance to rest much. It's also been amplified by Mike's December schedule - he worked from November 29 - December 23 straight, including weekends and most of that was 12+ hour days.
So, our first mini-goal was to get to 32 weeks, which is tomorrow! I am counting today as being there ... because, well, I definitely feel 32 weeks pregnant. If not more.
Clara is now the weight of a large jicama (3.75 lbs or more) and at least 16 inches. Developmentally she should have well developed lungs by now and would definitely be able to live and grow outside the womb, if she decided to grace us with her presence so early. She is measuring ahead of schedule and is continually testing the space limits of my uterus.

Our next mini-goal is 34 weeks. Sunday, January 10th. Then after that it's the long-term goal we've had of 36 weeks. Sunday, January 24th.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Not Me Monday!

This is going to be my first attempt at the hilarity that is "Not Me Monday." I do not claim to be very witty with words, but hope to at least amuse myself as I think of things this last week that were definitely not me.

I have not been incredibly stressed the last two weeks due to my husband working 12 hour days, 7 days a week and being put on modified bedrest where I am only supposed to eat, pee, and shower. I have also not been completely frustrated with the fact that my children have decided to boycott naptime.I awake with joy and cheerfulness every single morning and keep that throughout the entire day.

If the above were in fact true of me I definitely would not get Caribou and eat S'more cake twice in one day, once being for dinner, just to calm my emotions. No way, not me!

I also would not DVR three Disney movies off of ABC Family for the sole purpose of having something to occupy my wonderful, well-rested, beautifully behaved children in the evenings while we wait for daddy to get home, so that I can "rest." 

And there is no way that I would let the stress of the last two weeks dictate me so much as to stop having Bible Time with the children and instead just lay on the couch while they do Blanket Time. I would never do that! No way! We always make sure to maintain our routine, even when stressed. 

Finally, I would never feed the children leftovers 3 nights in a row and make George a separate meal of pancakes just so that they would all eat peacefully. I would never do something like that! Our meals are always well planned and executed beautifully. And my children always eat peacefully.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Snippets of Saturdays

Not just this Saturday. Actually, it's mostly just snippets - not confined to any particular day. I'm not quite that organized!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Mothering Moments: Why Not Timeouts?

So, I know that many, many people today use timeouts as their primary disciplinary action, but we do not. There's been questions posed as to why we don't use timeouts, so I thought I would answer that question quickly today.
Plus, being forced to sit more than normal forces you to find ways to occupy your time. I can only sleep so much in one day!

No Timeouts
Basically, it comes down to a pretty simple concept. When your child disobeys, acts out, talks back, or does something else to make your innards cringe repeatedly and you place them in a timeout, separating them from yourself, you are communicating that if they displease you they cannot stay in your presence. Saying that, "if your actions are not appropriate then you cannot be in my presence."
Basically telling them that they have to perform a certain way to stay in your presence.

We feel like that is a poor representation of God because God does not deal with us that way when we disobey Him. He does not remove us from His presence until we finally get it right, He gives us consequences but continues to love us and allows us to remain in His presence despite our disobedient actions.

So, we choose to discipline differently!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Character Counts: Respect

Last week and this week we have been reviewing respect during our Bible Time. Now, I've been lax in having Bible Time, so it hasn't been everyday like I want it to be but, we're working on it!
Emma has been struggling with respect lately - respect for God, respect for daddy, and respect for things so I thought it was time we went back and reviewed. These are all things I learned from other mothers, one in particular.

Honoring others with my action, my words, and good manners.

"Show proper respect to everyone." - 1 Peter 2:17

During our Bible Times I say, "What is respect?" Emma answers, "Honoring others with my actions, my words, and good manners." I do hand actions to help her remember - "my actions" is I hold out my hands and shake them, "my words" I point to my mouth, and "good manners" I take my hands and fold them in my lap.
Then I say the first word of the verse, "show" and Emma says the rest of the verse. Even George can now say this whole verse! (Yes, it's possible at 2 1/2!)

Then we talk about who we respect and how.
We respect God. We respect Him by: being quiet when others are praying, obeying and honoring His word - the Bible, and honoring others the way He tells us to - loving them and also obeying those He has placed in authority over us. For the kids, obviously that means mom and dad and any other caretakers.

We respect dad and mom. We respect them by: answering them correctly and cheerfully. When daddy says, "Emma." Emma says, "Yes daddy."
When mommy says, "Emma come." Emma says, "Coming mommy."
When daddy says, "No." You say, "Ok daddy" cheerfully.
When mommy says, "Please _______," You say, "Yes ma'am."
We also respect daddy and mommy by looking them in the eyes and listening completely.
We respect dad and mom by obeying them - quickly, completely, and cheerfully.

We respect our brothers/sisters. We respect them by: loving them and treating them the way the Lord wants us to. Kindly, with love, thinking of them before ourselves.
We respect those who are not our siblings the exact same way.

We respect our property. We respect this by: treating our things with care and concern. We also take care of others' things the same way with care and concern. If we borrow something we return in it the same, if not better, care that it was in when we received it. We care for our things to make them last as long as possible.

What Does the Bible Say About Respect?
"Blessed are they whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the LORD.
Blessed are they who keep his statutes and seek him with all their heart.
They do nothing wrong; they walk in his ways.
You have laid down precepts that are to be fully obeyed.
Oh, that my ways were steadfast in obeying your decrees!
Then I would not be put to shame when I consider all your commands.
I will praise you with an upright heart as I learn your righteous laws.
I will obey your decrees; do not utterly forsake me."
-Psalm 119:1-8

*Vs. 6 literally, "respect unto all Thy commandments". In other words, respect for God's commands is number one - we must honor God by our actions, by taking His commands seriously.

Respect is interchangeable with honor in the Bible; here are some verses on who to respect:

Everyone: "Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves." -Romans 12:10
Parents: "'Honor your father and mother'- which is the first commandment with a promise- 'that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on earth.'" -Ephesians 6:2-3
Husband: "However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband." -Ephesians 5:33
Employer: "All who are under the yoke of slavery should consider their masters worthy of full respect, so that God's name and our teaching may not be slandered." -I Timothy 6:1
Everyone; King/Leader: "Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the King." -I Peter 2:17
Elders: "Rise in the presence of the aged, sho respect for the elderly and revere your God. I am the Lord." -Leviticus 19:32

Thoughts On Respect:
Respect is God's way, yet respect is almost unheard of these days as everyone looks out for their own self interest. In previous generations respect was normal and expected, but not any more. Now we have to purpose to teach our children to be respectful and have to undo what they learn from their peers and others. God commands children to honor (respect) their parents, so out of obedience to God we must demand it from them.
Pray: That we will live and speak respectfully before our children and they will be respectful.

If you are married, one of the best ways that you can teach your child about God honoring respect is to honor your husband.
This morning, for me, was a great example of how not to do that! Mike snapped at Emma and I quickly chastised him in front of her for snapping and told him to walk away and take a break. That does not teach my children how to respect the authority above them.
If I teach my children that the husband is the head of the wife and Christ is the head of the husband - which I do - then my actions this morning were contrary to that teaching!

How Do We Create Respect in Our Children?
1) Use people's names - on the way to an event/function practice the names of the people you will be seeing there, or at least the key people. Example: Sunday School teacher.

2) Shake a person's hand - firmly - when meeting them and repeat their name back to them. Practice hand shakes and repeating names at home.

3) Teach your children to not cause fear to the elderly by running or playing roughly too close to others. Examples: running at church - others get nervous when little ones are running, and may be holding drinks that could spill if they get hit. Running in parking lots - people will be fearful if they see a child jet out into the lot and we do not want to cause fear to others. Same with streets and stores.

4) Hold the door for people - especially boys. Teach boys that "gentlemen" always let girls go first.

5) Look at people's eyes when you talk to them. Practice this at home - in conversation and with staring games.

6) Stand to meet your company. Whenever someone comes to the house stop what you are doing and greet them kindly and enthusiastically.

7) Smile! Have your children make different facial expressions for different emotions - fear, anger, sadness, jealousy, happiness. Then ask - which one feels the best? Worst? Etc.

8) Use Mr. and Mrs.

9) Be a good winner and a good loser.

10) Do not brag. Let other people praise you, do not praise yourself. Proverbs 27:2

11) Teach them to thank all service members and anyone that does something for them.

12) Teach them table manners. Sharing a meal should be an enjoyable experience and children can enhance our hospitality.

13) Answer when spoken to. "Yes, mom." "Yes ma'am." "Yes sir." Etc. Acknowledge others when they speak to you.

Songs we sing for respect:
Super Manners, to the tune of "I'm a Little Teapot"
I have super manners
Yes I do
I can say "please" and "thank you" too
When I play with friends, I like to share.
That's the way I show I care.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means to Thee,
R-E-S-P-E-C-T, that's what He wants from me!

Example Manners/Rules:
At Church:

Do not run
Look people in the eye
Talk loud enough to be heard
No baby talk
Have a firm handshake
Use people's names with Mr. and Mrs.
Obey your parents and teachers
Be a helper (go out of your way to help others)
Introduce yourself to children you do not know
Boys - hold the door for others

At Home Meals:
-Wash your hands and tidy your appearance before coming to the table.
-When praying, close your eyes and bow your head. Hold your hands still, without playing.
-After helping yourself to food, pass it on to your left.
-Take turns speaking. Talk about pleasant things, and do not interrupt others.
-Do not grumble or complain about the food.
-Chew your food quietly, with your mouth closed.
-Do not overload your mouth, or talk with your mouth full.
-Do not drink with food in your mouth. (Sounds funny, but is gross when you have a cup of water/liquid mixed with bits of food.)
-Stay at the table until everyone is finished and has been excused.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Mothering Moments: Personal Thoughts on Purposeful Parenting

A while back I had the opportunity to share some of my thoughts on mothering and parenting with other women and I was going through my notes just the other day and thought it would be good to share them again. This is really more for my benefit than for anyone else's! I've been struggling with motherhood lately and going through some of my own written convictions is good for me and helping to refocus my mindset.

When I shared these thoughts previously I was asked a few questions so I will include those as well.

What would you have like to have known going into mothering/parenting?
The biggest thing that I feel like God has shown me over the last few years that I wish I would have fully grasped and understood beforehand is:
That if God has given you a child then He meant for you to be a mother. No matter what the circumstances were that brought that child into being. If you have a child you ARE a mother and He CHOSE for you to be a mother.
And if God has chosen to make you a mother, which He has, then He has also equipped you with all of the necessary tools to be the kind of mom that He wants you to be. Not the mom the world wants you to be. Not the mom your friends want you to be. But the mom that God wants you to be!

The world and people around us will cheapen the role of being a mother. They will make it seem less than par and "ho-hum" but that is not what God thinks about being a mother.
Titus 2:4 talks about how we are called to love our husbands, love our children, to be self-controlled and pure, and to be busy at home.
- Home is where you as a mother will have the best and greatest impact.
- Remember that even when people pull and persuade you that things outside of the home are more important, your greatest and most important impact will only be made at home.

What are some things you felt were good to know going into mothering?
1) Consistency is key.
No, we’re not always consistent! But we have been able to witness the effectiveness of continual consistency and we have also seen the effects of discipline that is not consistent. Families we watched that made a purpose to be consistent now have children that need less correction, are respectful, live out the character qualities that their parents were consistent with teaching. The families that we have seen live more in the moment of discipline now have children who throw tantrums (at 11 years old), fight every parental authoritative decision, whine, argue, and show disrespect to the extent of screaming at their parents.

2) You need to have their hearts.
We have been told this important truth over and over since we first got married. If you want to have an impact on your children you have to capture their hearts. It's hard to gauge whether or not you have your child's heart but there are a couple things you can do that can help you determine if you do or not.
- If you are speaking to your child and they continually look away from you and you need to hold their little cheeks just to get them to look at you and even then they're still looking away with their eyes - that may be a sign you do not have their heart yet.
- If you tell your child to do something or you tell them no to something they ask for and they respond cheerfully, "Ok mom!" That may be a good indicator that you do have their heart.
- To really gain your child's heart you need to give them yours. As mothers it easy to think that that comes automatically, but it may not. You need to be investing yourself and your heart into them. And the best and most beneficial way to do that is by giving your time. Start by giving them large quantities of your time because quantity time turns into quality with your children.

3) Routine, routine, routine.
In our home we have Blanket Time, Room Time, Table Time, Bible Time, etc. I was fortunate enough to witness the power of routine in a couple of families when I was younger. These times give our days purpose and structure. They also help my children to know what to expect and that gives them stability and security. Ex: Emma asking to have blanket time and room time and Bible time! She will ask if I have not included them in our day. The kids also do so much better when we have these times implemented into our days. They thrive knowing what to expect at what time each day. Things run so much more smoothly when we have structure in our days.

What keeps you going? How you overcome when you feel like quitting?
Being a mother is hard work. The hardest job that you will ever have! And because of the daily repetitive nature and sometimes tedious work of mothering it is important to figure out a few things that help to lift up your spirit when the days get too long, too hard, and too exhausting. For me those things are:

- Getting up early to exercise. Exercise keeps me energized for the day and heals my body. I do a workout that only takes 20-25 minutes but helps my back and gets me moving!

- Daily Quiet Time. After I exercise I take 30-60 minutes and spend time in the Word. Before doing this my days were more filled with frustration and anger and bitterness. I would be more inclined to yell at my children and my fuse was extremely short. Not to say that there still aren’t days where I struggle with all of that but if I get in the Word before the kids are awake those things are less likely to be “normal.” There has been nothing that has affected my mood for the day more than my time with God in the mornings. Now, you NEED to find time to do this! Before I started consistently doing it in the mornings I would just say, “Oh, I’ll do it whenever I have time.” And that quickly turns into “I don’t have time right now; I’ll do it when they have Room Time.” And that would turn into, “I have to do other things right now, I’ll do it during nap time.” And then when nap time rolled around I would have other things to accomplish or get ready and so I would say, “Well, I can just do it before I go to sleep.” Well, most days with 3 children under 3 I would be asleep before I hit the pillow!

- Nap Time! Or Quiet Time if you have older children. And make sure that you aren’t spending your nap time cleaning! (That’s something K--- told me once.) Have your children clean up before they go down for their naps or their quiet times and then use that time to refuel. I get a couple things done during nap time that are necessary – maybe getting dinner in the crockpot or putting the laundry in the dryer, and then I take the remaining time to rest so that I can be energized and ready for the rest of the evening when my husband is home.

- Time away. Whether that is a conference on mothering, church event (Band of Mothers), coffee with a friend, read a book that encourages your goals in parenting, etc. Just make sure that you’re doing something that is going to encourage you in your purpose and drive as a mother!

Example: I recently e-mailed K--- because I had been a having a string of discouraging weeks as a mom. I was endlessly frustrated with Emma and just exhausted of the duty that being a mom includes. She e-mailed me back with the exact encouragement I just told you: and said, “Do whatever it takes to be encouraged in mothering!” So, I took her advice and asked my husband if I could go to Band of Mothers at our church, which is a group of mothers that meets one Monday each month for 2 or so hours. I was able to go and it was EXACTLY what I needed! It was all about disciplining and having your children’s hearts.

- Seeing people who have come out the other side! Get in touch with someone who has already been through the stages your children are currently going through and bend your ear to their wisdom.

How did we get a vision for raising your children on purpose?

Mike and I always had ideas about what we wanted from our children and our parenting. The things that first took us there were being in contact with a couple very real, very Godly families whose children exampled the same things we wanted to instill in our children. I was very fortunate to be closely connected with the D family for a number of years before I was married and before we had any children and because of that influence I learned a lot about the greatness that your children have within them because of the power of Christ.

I learned that the “norm” today is NOT the norm that God has for my children. And I was able to see a very real example of the success of consistent, purposed parenting.

If you think that that’s just not reality for you and your spouse and your children – you are wrong and you are believing a lie!

Satan definitely wants you to think that all your family can achieve is the world’s definition of “normal” and great.

But God has a far greater purpose for your family and you as a mother. Our children can become far more than we ever imagined if we are willing to parent with God’s purpose and will.

- One thing that Mike and I did on the encouragement from Premeditated Parenting by Steve and Kathy Nelson was to make a list of the qualities that we want our children to example when they are teenagers. That list is: Knowledge and belief of the Word of God, a personal relationship with Christ, Self-Control, Honesty, Responsibility, Integrity, Honor, Courage (to do what is right), Know that your word is gold (when they give people their word something will get done), Honesty, Strong Faith, Self sufficiency -to know that they can truly do anything in this world if they work hard and aren't scared to take chances, Good Work Ethic, Modesty, Purity …

- Being involved in a church that has a vision for families. It’s important to have people around you who will support and encourage what you are doing in your parenting. Not that you won’t meet people in your church that have a different vision or disagree with you, but you want the leaders of your church to have families that example the same things you want in your children eventually or will at least encourage you with your parenting goals.

- Our Vision: To raise kids who are strong in faith, self sufficient, honorable and then some. Our family should be an example to others as well as selfless. Our purpose is and always remains to love the Lord and to love others.

How do you and your husband communicate about parenting?

- Email.

- Dates.

- Talking – whenever we get the chance.

Example: a lot of times we talk on the way to church in the car because it's uninterupted time!

Example: a way to not react when your husband wants to make a change in the way you guys discipline. If you bring up something or he brings up something and either he doesn't agree with you or wants to change something you are doing - do not just say, “Oh, okay.” Even if you’re like me and need time to process through changes your response still needs to be encouraging and supportive, “That’s a good idea. Can we talk about that more later?” That way I have time to think and process and he knows that I still honor and respect his decisions.

If you guys are not on the same page start with sharing with him what you do with the children during the day. Explain the details of how you discipline and what situations get what type of discipline. Then allow your husband to change, alter, or modify the way that you do things. It is far more important for you and your husband to be disciplining the same way than it is for you to be “right” about the discipline.