Discipline.  Ew.  Nobody wants to be disciplined.  Nobody wants to have discipline.  It's a yucky word.  But it's an important one.  We all need discipline in our lives.  It takes discipline to do anything that doesn't come naturally to us.  For me that means eating healthfully, exercising, drinking water, studying the Bible, filing paperwork, shaving my legs... I'm just kidding.  I drink water.

Disciplining children - very challenging.  My daughter is 4 (and a HALF, she would interject), and I'm trying to teach her that there are consequences for our actions and our words.  She insists on choosing her consequence.  I have to explain to her that we don't get to choose our consequence, only our actions and our words.  I have found two consequences that she responds to: loss of movie privileges, and loss of fingernail polish.  Alternately, these can be used as rewards for good behavior.  Good girl = painted nails.  Hurry and finish what I asked you to do and you will have time for a movie.  Otherwise, no movie.  To physically remove the movie from her DVD player is to cause devastation in her world.  She is distraught and tearful over this.  That'll teach her.

Teaching this concept of rewards and consequences to my daughter gets me thinking about our own choices as adults.  Just as my daughter is dealing with "mean words" in the classroom, working to find nice words and apologize when she uses the mean ones, adults also tend to say things that hurt others.  Many times it is unintentional, but I think most times we aim to hurt the other person.  Why?  I don't understand it.  I personally don't get any pleasure in another person's pain.  That's pure evil.  It baffles me how some people live their lives as if they are on a higher plane than the rest of us.  As if their life is "better" somehow.  Mocking someone is the worst form of narcissism.  Talking about people behind their backs (a.k.a. GOSSIP) is a rotten thing to do.  The kind of person who does that WITH you will do that ABOUT you.  Proclaiming to the Facebook world that your life is so awesome is your own evil way of telling others that theirs is not.  Life is not a competition.  We all get the same Prize, should we choose to accept it.  And, like children, we all face consequences for our actions and our words.  We don't get to choose the consequence.  It may be that nobody trusts you because you are always gossiping and talking bad about people.  Maybe nobody wants to be around you because you are negative or complain about EVERYTHING.  Maybe you will lose friends because your heart is filled with hatred, spite, jealousy...and out come unkind words and actions.  "The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks."  Luke 6:45

As I endeavor to discipline my daughter and teach her the values that will enable her to be a loving, kind and honorable person, I examine my own heart and my own life.  Screaming at her is not going to get her to do what I want her to do.  It will only teach her anger and frustration, which is not my goal.  I want the people around me to know the love of Christ.  That is my goal.  Lift someone up today.  Be Heaven-minded.


pay attention to me!

I have decided that my daughter's repertoire of undesirable behavior is a result of her need for attention.  For four years she has been the apple of my eye.  We spent a lot of time together just the two of us because hubs always worked late - past her bedtime.  But it wasn't always quality time.  We usually didn't get home from work until 7:00, and we spent the evening eating dinner, bathing, getting into bed.  There wasn't much time for play or just togetherness.  Then the new baby came, and she has had to share my attention with him.  It must be hard for her to move aside for this little guy, but we are lucky that she loves him dearly and showers him with hugs and kisses.

Lately she has been extremely disobedient.  We have to tell her to do something (or stop doing something) several times, often with raised voices and threats of bodily harm and relinquished privileges.  She has been wetting the bed just about every night, despite our efforts to cut off all liquid consumption at 7:00 (she goes to bed around 9 or so).  With hubs getting home from work around 6:15, we can't really go any earlier than that. Otherwise she would be eating dinner without any milk.  During the last week or so she has also requested that I hold her (snuggle).  I love snuggling with her, and I have to try to make time to do that.  She usually asks me when I am holding the baby.  Since I have become more aware of this, I try to hand him over to Daddy so I can cuddle with my sweet baby girl.

Since the baby was born in May, and I didn't return to work, we have a lot of time together.  She is in Pre-K, but we are home together by 2:30.  I guess I just get caught up with feeding the baby (ALL the time), changing him, trying to get dinner ready, etc. that I don't stop and spend one-on-one time with her.  She needs some time each day with my undivided attention.  This is challenging with an infant in the house, but I do think it's feasible.  He takes a variety of naps.  Nothing consistent, but we can work around him.  She likes to do artsy crafty kind of things, so I think I'll plan some activities that the two of us can do together.  We played with her Barbies the other night, and I think she really enjoyed that.  It may also be time to go through her toys and books and pull out anything that's below her "level" or that she just doesn't play with.

As for the behavior, I'm starting to discover that she responds well to competition (I will get my things put away faster than you will), rewards (you can choose a piece of candy as soon as you ____), and responsibility (I could really use a helper).  It doesn't work every day, though.  Some days she just wants to be a kid and be irresponsible.  Don't we all?  I'm really conflicted over discipline techniques.  Spanking bothers me more than it bothers her, so I think she may be getting too old for that.  I put a lot of effort into it, yet she still seems to be laughing.  Is she crazy?  Am I??  There are a few things that she cherishes:  her movies and her right to choose her own clothes.  Take away these things and she is devastated.  So, I can use them as leverage.  The trickiest part in all of this is finding the right balance between behavior modification and security stabilization.  She needs to feel secure and confident that I love her every bit as much as always.  She also needs to learn to follow directions and accept consequences when she doesn't obey.  My theory is the more unsolicited attention she receives the less she will feel the need to act out in an effort to garner it.


the best advice

Advice.  Everybody seems to have some to offer, especially when it comes to children.  Whether we ask for it or not, people are always ready to dish it up.  I'm guilty of it myself sometimes.  Perhaps when a friend complains about a problem they are facing, we see it as our opportunity to chime in with, "Well you should _____."  Just yesterday my friend was having a heck of a time with her baby.  He was crying endlessly and nothing seemed to work.  I've been there.  A lot.  Recently.  My son is almost 7 months old and still a pretty ineffective communicator.  He gets that from his father.  So anyway I immediately begin giving her little tidbits of "try this" and "did you try that".  It occurred to me that I don't know if she appreciated it or was annoyed, so it got me thinking.  Lots of people have shoved their ideas down my throat.  Some of them are good, and some of them are, um, crap.

Don't let your kid go to bed (or out of the house) with wet hair.  Why?  She'll get sick.  Really??  Since when is illness brought on by something other than a virus or bacteria?  The last time I checked, wet hair doesn't breed viruses.  Crap. 

Don't let your child sleep in your bed.  Once you start, you'll never be able to stop.  This one is tricky.  I have found there are some benefits to having the kiddo in the bed.  She feels safe.  She falls asleep faster.  She's less likely to fall out because she's in the middle.  However, I get MUCH better sleep when there is nobody else next to me.  I have to let my husband sleep there because he bought the bed.  I will say that my daughter is 4 years old and sleeps in her own bed.  The only time it was more difficult to get her to do so was when she was much younger.  My son has only slept with us a handful of times, and that's mainly because I don't want to drop him on the way back to the nursery after a  2 a.m. feeding.  Simply because it isn't impossible to get them in their own beds:  Crap.

Give the baby cereal before bed so he'll sleep all night.  This actually works - IF I can get him to actually eat the cereal. He despises it.  Good.

Don't shake the baby.  Good.

Don't let your kids watch too much t.v.  This can be tough for some people because sometimes you really just need a little break.  If they are happily watching a movie or some entertaining children's show, you might get that moment of peace that you need.  Having said that, I do think there is a lot of junk t.v. for kids.  I prefer Nick Jr., which doesn't have any commercials, and it really focuses on learning.  This channel will not serve forever because at some point my daughter will be too old for "preschool t.v."  I think that moderation is key.  I also think that certain programs can negatively influence your child's behavior.  If your kid is behaving like a maniac or just being a pain in the butt, try scaling back on t.v. for a week or two and see if it doesn't improve.  Good.

If your baby wants to nurse constantly, you must not be making enough milk, so give him formula.  This one really fires me up.  God designed our bodies to do amazing things that we would otherwise think impossible.  The whole birthing process is a prime example.  He created us.  He provides for us.  This provision includes our babies.  Babies tend to nurse more frequently when they are going through a growth spurt or they don't feel well.  If you nurse your baby as often as he needs and wants, your body will produce the milk he needs.  My friend drilled this into me so that I would not give up, and I haven't.  If you give your baby a bottle of formula when he should be nursing, you are telling your body "I don't need so much milk...go ahead and cut back production."  Enough of this and you WILL be out of milk.  Enjoy buying all that formula.  Crap.

Don't hold your baby too much; you'll spoil him.  I believe my job as a mother is to meet my children's needs as best I can, including emotional needs.  Babies often need to be held and comforted, especially when they are newborns.  As they get older, they are less needy in that regard.  I've heard that prior to six months of age, it is impossible to spoil a baby.  I tend to agree.  My son needs me to hold him less and less these days.  I've also discovered that he doesn't really care to be "put" to sleep.  When he starts fussing and the usual tricks don't work (paci, toys, distraction, boobs, etc.), I know it is time for sleep.  My new strategy is to put him in his crib, paci in his mouth, and give him something soft to rub his fingers on (little silk blanket, for eample).  I tell him goodnight, rub his forehead a couple of times and then creep away.  This is working wonders for me.  He only cries sometimes, and usually falls asleep after a minute or two.  If his crying escalates to Stage 5 as it did last night, I will eventually go and get him and try something else.  I do not really care for the "cry it out" school of thought.  Although the doctor recommends it, I just think it's not for me.  At any rate, I hold my baby when he needs to be held or whenever I just want to love on him.  He's happy being held, and he's happy playing on his own.  He's not spoiled.  Crap.

Let's throw in some relationship advice while we are at it.  Don't let your husband tell you what to do. He is not your father, and you should not let him control you.  The thing I don't like about relationship advice is the person giving it has only heard one side of the situation.  The only two people who know what it is really like in the relationship are the people in the relationship.  I believe that it is my responsibility as a wife to take care of my husband (and kids) as best I can.  If he doesn't want me doing something, either he doesn't understand why I want to do it or he has a really good reason for his opinion.  Either way, we need a discussion to get to the root of the issue.  It is childish to maintain the attitude of "I am my own person and I am going to do whatever I darn well please."  1. You are an adult, so you should act like it.  2.  You are not your own person.  When you get married "two become one".  Everything you do can potentially impact your spouse.  You want to go skydiving, but he thinks it's too risky.  Guess what?  If you die, he is stuck doing life by himself.  Raising kids, paying bills, the whole nine.  In my not-so-humble opinion, that is selfish behavior on your part.  I just think there needs to be a mutual respect between a husband and a wife.  Each day I try really hard to consider my husband's point of view, his needs, and his desires.  What can I do to make his day better?  How can I be a better wife and mother?  We are partners, and I am not going to be the one to cause him stress or discontent.  Crap.

So there you have it.  If you don't want to hear someone's "advice", don't complain.  Likewise, if someone is complaining to you, maybe ask them if they want your advice before you just start spewing it out.  It can be frustrating when you are trying to help someone and they argue every point you try to make.  This kind of person just wants to complain, not listen.  My best advice?  Just say, "Aw, that's too bad. Do you want some advice, or would you like to talk about something else?"


medicate your baby

Regarding infant medication, how much is too much?  It used to be you could drug up your baby whenever you darn well pleased.  Pain meds, fever reducers, cold meds, etc.  Within the last 4 or 5 years, "they" have pulled off the market just about everything that was available for babies.  Now you can only use infant Tylenol for the first 6 months, and then Motrin is allowed.  If your baby has a cold, you are expected to spray saline up his nose and suck the snot out with a miniature turkey baster.

I, for one, am in favor of medicating your baby.  If he needs it.  Or if you need him to have it.  My son has been "teething" FOREVERRRRRRRRRRRRRR.  No teeth yet.  But darn it he is miserable.  He got his first cold about 3 weeks ago, and I can't really do a thing for him.  It won't go away.  Now he has an ear infection (first sick visit ever - I'd like to thank breastfeeding for this small victory).  And NOW they want to bring in the big drugs.  Antibiotics.  That has to be harsh on such a little guy.  Yet they have forbidden the cold meds for children under the age of 27.  I don't even know the reason why.  Were people not following the directions?  Proper dosing is not that difficult.  How much does your baby weigh?  Look at the chart, give him the appropriate dose, and don't give him any more until adequate time has passed.  How much time?  Well funny thing about these direction labels - it tells you how often the dose is allowed!

Well anyway, my sonny boy has had some rough days.  Screaming and writhing for an eternity.  Nothing soothes him.  So, every once in awhile, after I have exhausted all other options (and myself) I will give him some Tylenol.  He is usually asleep in less than 2 minutes. No, it doesn't make sense.  Tylenol is not one of those "drowsy" drugs like Benadryl.  It simply relieves pain and/or fever.  Because he can't tell me if he's in pain, sometimes I just have to use my best judgement.  The other thing that seems to knock him out when he is extremely fussy and fighting sleep is Orajel.  Also not a drowsy drug, but also puts him to sleep in under a minute.  It's fascinating, really.

Now you might be thinking that I'm a lazy mother or I'm just a little crazy.  And you might be right.  But before you cast judgement on me, think about the things you have done to cut corners with your own kids.  Driving through McDonald's because you don't feel like cooking.  Plopping them in front of the television because you need some time to recuperate from your day.  I don't see providing my child with comfort and rest as cutting corners.  I did say I exhaust all other options.  I nurse him, rock him, walk him around, put him in the swing, change his diaper, take off his clothes, put him in different clothes...  It is apparent that sometimes he just doesn't feel well and a little comfort medication works.  It is impossible to know if his gums are sore or he has an ear ache.  The poor little fella has an ear infection and he never once pulled at his ear.

My public service announcement for the day is that it is okay to medicate your baby.  Use discretion.  Use proper dosing.  If it says "ask a doctor" on the label, ask your doctor!  Mine gave me a dosing chart which breaks down different concentrations, medications, and weight ranges.  I bet your doctor has the same chart or something similar.  For crying out loud, don't shake your baby - medicate your baby.


finding my groove

My son is six months old.  I am 6+ months SAHM.  You'd think by now I would have my act together.  Well, folks, I don't.  Baby boy is leaning toward a schedule, but he's not quite there yet.  He definitely takes "breakfast" around 5 or 6 a.m., and he gets fussy and put down for a nap around 9:30.  The duration varies, and everything after that is hit or miss.

As for me...the only things I'm doing consistently every day are:  feed the baby at 5 or 6, take my daughter to school by 7:45, feed the baby again when we get back to the house, put the baby to nap around 9:30, pick up my daughter by 2:00, feed the baby when we get back to the house.  Everything in between is random and unplanned, for the most part.  I need just a little bit more structure.  God time, exercise time, cleaning time, work time, SHOWER time (what's that???)  There's so much I want to do, much more I need to do, and I am struggling to find the balance of it all.  If I'm to be this superwife, supermom, supercalifragilisticexpialidotious, I need some structure.  Daily routines.  Ever heard of FlyLady?  Incredible system for a clean house and a peaceful day.  All of the information on the website is free and pretty fun to put into practice.  The principles are solid.  For example, getting dressed to shoes every day.  You'd be surprised what a difference this makes.  It is harder to flop back down on the bed and pull the covers over your head if you are wearing your sneaks.

Plan your work and work your plan.  That's what I need to do.  If I could spend 15-20 minutes each night sketching out what my day would look like tomorrow, maybe I would get more done.  Sure, the baby's needs might interfere with timing here and there, but as soon as he's fed/changed/etc. I can jump right back in where I left off.  The same goes for my eating plan.  I'm trying out Weight Watchers.  It is really hard for me to try to figure out what I ate and how many points each thing was after the fact.  However, if I planned out breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a couple of snacks, complete with point values adding up to my daily target, I would be much more successful.  There would be less spontaneous binging at the pantry.

This planning can be part of your evening routine, like shining your sink or brushing your teeth.  Nobody wants to wake up to a messy sink.  Once you get good at planning the night before, then you can start mapping out 2, 3...7 days in advance.  I think I'll get a cheap little day timer so I can map out my day in time slots.  It won't happen perfectly according to plan, but at least I will have the framework set for my day and I can check off what gets accomplished, moving what didn't to the next day.  I think it's Mary Kay that recommends you write down your 6 most important things for the next day.  These might be paying a bill, scheduling a dental appointment, making your grocery list, etc.

While this post is mostly me brainstorming how to fix my wicked ways, I hope you are able to draw a little bit of inspiration and a few ideas that will help you out.  I'm just trying to find my groove as a SAHM...I'll get there!


breast is best

I promised I would at some point write about breastfeeding.  So here it is, in a nut shell.  Or a bra cup.

Let me just preface all of this by saying that 4+ years ago when my daughter was born, I was not very successful at breastfeeding.  I was new to my job, so I had to return to work after only six weeks with my baby girl.  I nursed her almost exclusively during that time, but once I returned to work I had to start giving her formula during the day.  I nursed her at night and in the morning until she was about 4 months old.  I had a cheap breast pump and was extremely unsuccessful at pumping.  I blamed it on the pump...until now.

With this pregnancy, I purchased a Medela, the Cadillac of breastpumps.  It's electric.  It can pump both breasts simultaneously.  Should be a slam-dunk, right?  Not so much.  I started my pumping efforts a few weeks before I was to return to work.  It took several days for me to accumulate enough for one storage bag of milk (approximately 5 ounces).  When it turned out that I would be able to quit my full-time job, I did not make such an effort to pump.  After all, it was challenging and I didn't think I would need the stored milk so urgently.  I had stored up 4 or 5 packages, and we used them up on a business trip to Florida during which my husband kept the baby while I consulted onsite with a client.  Since this trip, I have made several attempts to pump some extra milk, but haven't been able to get much.  A friend suggested a larger thingamajig, but that didn't help much.  It's more comfortable, but I wasn't able to procure more milk.  I don't know what I'm doing wrong, but I sure would like to figure it out so I can have a few hours to do what I need to do once in awhile.  But for now he comes with me wherever I go.  We are a unit.  A package deal.

Aside from the pumping issue, I have found breastfeeding my son to be a very rewarding experience.  He seems to really like me - mostly for my boobs - but I don't mind that.  We have bonded quite well.  Other benefits that we have experienced include:  very few dirty diapers, smooth skin, excellent baby weight gain, and a relatively healthy baby.  Anytime he starts to get sick it goes away fairly quickly without incident.  I haven't had to take him to the doctor for any reason other than his well checks.  He has a little cold right now but it is very mild and he hasn't run a fever with it at all.  We have saved a ton of money by not buying formula.  We actually tried to give him some once or twice, and he didn't tolerate it well.  He just seems like a really healthy, chubby baby, and I think it has a lot to do with the breastmilk that he has been getting since day 1.

A few things I will point out that are on the "downside" list for breastfeeding:  Feeding every 2-3 hours can be a little exhausting.  Over time, he has become more efficient, but the frequency hasn't lessened.  Breastmilk digests more quickly than formula, so he is hungry a lot sooner than his formula-fed counterpart.  Now that he is old enough for solid foods, I can try giving him cereal before bed to help him sleep longer at night.  However, he doesn't really like cereal, and he isn't always in the mood for a spoon-fed meal.  While breastmilk is always ready and available - no warming, mixing, or the like required - sometimes it is inconvenient in public because it's hard to get comfortable, and I don't care for people looking at my boobs.  I suppose I will get used to this eventually.

I really don't care what the literature says.  It does hurt sometimes.  Just like you get chapped lips if you sit around chewing on them all day, your nipples are bound to get a little chafed from time to time.  In the beginning it hurts because you aren't used to it, and you are still learning technique (as is baby).  Then I've noticed that every couple of weeks we will go through a sore phase again.  I don't know the cause - maybe he's producing more saliva because he's teething, or maybe he's gotten a little lazy and isn't nursing correctly.  I usually work on getting him back on track and then apply lanolin liberally until it feels better.  For the first couple of months, my breasts would burn after a feeding.  I have no idea why.  It doesn't happen anymore, though.

Breastfeeding is supposed to make you lose weight quickly.  This hasn't been true for me, so I just started Weight Watchers.  I have a theory - I am most likely not getting enough calories nor a well-balanced diet to support nursing, so my body is hanging onto the fat for reserves.  That's why I'm confident that Weight Watchers will work - they give you a point value to hit each day, and this takes into account the extra needed for nursing.

I almost forgot to mention how difficult it is to nurse a baby with ginormous boobs!  I don't really know what it's like to have anything smaller, so I couldn't tell you what it is like to breastfeed with small boobs.  I do believe it may be easier.  In the beginning I was concerned that my breasts would smother the baby.  Each one is bigger than the baby's head.  I guess that's why public nursing is so awkward for me as well.  There is no discrete way to pull a watermelon out of your shirt.  We make it work, but I just wanted to throw it out there in case anyone can relate.

My goal is to nurse for one year.  I think we will make it just fine.  I'm so incredibly thankful that I quit my job rather than returning after he was born.  I don't believe I would have been this successful with nursing had I gone back to work.  I do intend to try to figure out this pumping thing once and for all so that I can get out of the house occasionally.  In the meantime, I will continue to provide my baby with all of his nutrients, every 2.5 hours as he demands.  I love my son and I am so happy to be giving him this healthy foundation in life.  I truly believe that breast is best for baby. Yay for boobs.