31 days of training my kids: less blog, more mommy

IMG_2379As I thought about writing for thirty-one days in a row, I was so excited about all the stuff I could write. Funny things the girls say, episodes of training, good ideas from others, books I love…

But as October 1 approached, I began to be burdened that this not be primarily a blog project. This is what I need to concentrate and re-concentrate on!

I’ve watched myself write less and less and do more and more. Though not great for the blog, it’s been great for me. I’m falling into bed exhausted at night from full days of caring for my family.

Busy days have been training days, too, even though it’s more of the work-as-you-go flavor.

More than anything, my awareness of the girls is growing; as is my desire and burden to love and teach them in a way that will glorify Christ.

So I guess what I want to say tonight is, thanks so much for reading and following along as I’ve worked my way through this thing.

Less blog and more mommy is a pretty good less is more.

31 days of training my kids: let’s get specific

imageAll right, enough hullabaloo. We’ve had two crazy busy weeks in a row, a trip to Pennsylvania and back, and another full week staring us in the face.

I can’t just float on and expect productive teaching and training to happen around here.

Life probably won’t slow down any time soon.

Here is what we will be working on this week.

*Putting stuff away. We’ve worked on it before, but it’s definitely time for a refresher -probably for mom and kids.

*Looking at someone in the eye when they talk to you.

and two more constants…

*Obeying with a good attitude

*Being happy and thankful in all circumstances (this is especially with the older ones -and me!)

We already had a great opportunity to work on that last one at breakfast this morning. Who knew being given a smaller piece of banana than someone else could be so heartbreaking?

What are you working on this week?

31 days of training my kids: favorite books

Today, I picked four of my favorite parenting books to share with you. Nothing fancy, just a few thoughts and an amazon link.

Shepherding a Child’s Heart. I read this before Hope was born, but I really need to read it again as I am now in that stage of life. It is one of the best books on this topic. (not just my opinion)

imageLoving the Little Years. Short, humorous, encouraging and convicting… it’s by a mom of little’s for moms with little’s. Highly recommend!

imageDon’t Make Me Count To Three. A friend recently lent this to me; I had never heard of it. It’s excellent! At first, I wasn’t too crazy about the writing style, but was definitely won over by the Biblical truths and practical helps. I just finished this last week, and it’s a must add to my collection.

imageFeminine Appeal. This is one of my favorite books for women. It does have chapters specific to motherhood, but also describes how the godly characteristics outlined in Titus 2 will adorn the gospel when practiced in a Christian woman’s life. We all want to be good moms, but underneath we first have to be in a right relationship with our Creator. I found this book to be helpful to all of my life, not just in parenting. Though I certainly remember many of the things it said about that!

imageHope you enjoy! What are your favorite Mommy books?


I keep forgetting to tell you that my sister is doing the 31 days challenge! Check out her super fun series, On-the-go Pianist!

31 days of training my kids: over and over

Thanks to my sweet friend Liz who takes such fun pictures of the girls!
Thanks to my sweet friend Liz who takes such fun pictures of the girls!

When my sweet little Hopey was learning to talk I remember how curious it was to me that she would say words over and over. Being my first, it didn’t bother me at all; I just found it so interesting. (Clearly I had not spent much time with babies)

At some point it occurred to me that that was how she learned. That was how she mastered her words and concepts. I’m pretty sure she didn’t think, “That word ‘cracker’ is hard one; I better say it over and over so I don’t forget!” But even at a young age, the idea that practice makes permanent is built into our bodies.

When we practice something over and over, we will eventually be able to do it without thinking.

This is the beauty and the hardship of training children. We can teach them to obey even as very small children, but it takes a fair amount of effort.

Over and over.

Thankfully, we’re given plenty of opportunities. (even without “Here, let me show you what I expect and let’s think of a fun way to practice” times)

Kids have to eat… over and over.

Brothers and sisters have to play together… over and over.

Toys have to be cleaned up… over and over. (even if it is a few days in between on occasion) = )

Seat belts have to be buckled… over and over. Oh what a happy day in our house when the oldest two could do this without complaining or getting frustrated!

Wants have to be put aside… over and over.

Mommy has an opportunity to practice patience… over and over.

Mommy has an opportunity to model confession… over and over.

We go back to the gospel after being all out of sorts… over and over.

It can be so frustrating when kids slip back into habits or attitudes that we thought had been taken care of. But it’s always worth it to keep talking, keep teaching, keep disciplining, keep modeling… over and over.


The grand and glorious things we’ve been working on this week have been no more than sitting in your chair correctly at the table and obeying with a good attitude. This is not the first week we’ve worked on these things, nor will it be the last.

What have you been working on this week?

31 days of training my kids: white rice

imagePardon a personal story that I need to remember next time I’m sitting at the table waiting for a child to finish something they don’t want to.

Within the last month, Sophia has made it clear that she does not like white rice. Unfortunately for her, she still has to eat it. Unfortunately for us, we have to help her eat it.

I promise: the last three times we’ve eaten white rice, I’ve given her a purposefully small portion. That didn’t seem to matter, however, while the centuries went by as she ate it.

You have to understand, when you’re sitting at the table, wishing like never before that you hadn’t said they had to eat it, there is no light at the end of the tunnel. It’s frustration for all parties involved. You just end up questioning why you have decided that it is important for a four year-old to eat all the food given to her on her plate.

Well, white rice night rolled around again; and I again dished out a small portion to Sophia. Unexpectedly during dinner, she began making excited noises and pointing to her plate with her fork. I didn’t get it, so when she had swallowed her food she exclaimed, “I just took a bite of rice!” (possibly the first time she’s ever waited to swallow her food before speaking) = )

She continued to eat all of her white rice before anything else on her plate!

At this point, I have to postpone the celebration and interject that Paul is the one that taught them this. He always works his way from least favorite to favorite on his plate; unlike me, who gobbles up the meat and carbs and then pushes my vegetables around until I realize there are small people watching me. He’s talked with them many times about how it’s better to eat your least favorite thing first, but this was the first time any of them had tried it -willingly!

There were cheers and hoorays and praises all around. Finally, something had sunk in!

Now, as I said with Mckayla and holding Mommy’s hand, this doesn’t mean anything for next time.

But I want to remember it next time I’m growing old at the table.

31 days of training my kids: even when you’re not

imageAfter a lovely and profitable weekend away, and after a long, good Monday… this is about all I have to say.

I’ve really been thinking for the past two days how you’re always training your kids… even when you’re not. They pick up your attitudes and actions; they learn in what situations we will and won’t discipline them… they’re always learning.

Especially impressive to me has been the thought that they are impacted even by the things I do when they’re not around. How I choose to spend my free time, how I think about people who come and go in my life, how I devote myself to Christ… these are all things that directly impact who I am when I’m around my girls. I can’t even perceive the influence, but I know it’s there.

Perhaps this is not very clear since it’s late and I’m writing off-the-cuff.

If my girls learn more from my example, than from what I actually teach them, I want to make sure there is equal effort going into training them and into being a consistent person, even when they’re not there.

May my desires become less and may passion for Christ become more.

Potty training: what NOT to do

photo credit
photo credit

I really thought potty training was going to be the end of me. If there ever was an end. And then everyone said the next child would be easier. And it was… by four months.

To make it perfectly clear, it took me sixteen months to potty train my first one and twelve months to potty train the second.

The end of me.

In retrospect, it was mostly my fault. My girls would have “got it” much faster if I hadn’t botched it so royally.

For fun I thought I’d put together a list of what NOT to do when potty training. Some may apply to you; some may only apply to me and my crazy mind. Either way, I hope you enjoy, don’t take it too seriously, and most of all, don’t spend twenty-eight months of your life potty training.

1. Don’t let your child sit on the potty too long. The point is for them to learn to go when they need to; not to have “the bathroom experience” by rule of probability and statistics.

2. Don’t think that treats will train your child to go. I’m not saying don’t give them; but at least for mine, there was no connection between a reward for going and actually mastering the skill of well, you know… going.

3. Don’t switch back and forth between big kid undies and pull-ups. Of all the mistakes I made, I think this was the biggest. I am now a huge fan of going cold turkey.

4. Don’t think that buying a potty book at Barnes and Noble will aid the process either. And it gets really uncomfortable when it becomes your child’s favorite book and everyone who enters the house gets asked to read it.

5. Don’t frantically search Internet sites and help books regarding potty training. I found that most of them either said the same things or were too philosophical to actually be helpful regarding a toddler.

6. Don’t begin to wonder about your qualifications to parent if potty training is a little rough. Most people work their way through it in one fashion or another and you probably won’t be the exception.


If you’re really being tried, just remember there’s someone out there who messed everything up completely and somehow through it all daily gets to hear, “Mommy, I need to go potty.”

Blessed words.

Extending grace to your children, graciously

Pictures 2 389I don’t know how many times I have heard parents say, “This is grace, kid!” (or been tempted to say it myself)

Today, we had a long morning at the Social Security office and got home for lunch about an hour later than normal. When we pulled into the parking lot, I thought to myself, “Lord, please help me patient with these girls. They have been so good, but I know they’re going to have tons of energy when we get in the house and with my headache and rushing to get lunch on the table there’s bound to be some trouble.”

God gave me the grace to just smile at their louder-than-normal pitch as they rambunctiously played while I prepared a hasty lunch. I even thought of something to feed them that I knew they would like and consume quickly.

To my surprise, Gracie did not eat her food well. (If you knew her, you would think this was surprising indeed) I didn’t pay too much attention, or ride her about it as I had already decided that everything except complete rebellion was going to slide because of the crazy morning.

The other girls finished well, and I offered them applesauce for a treat which they loved. Of course, Gracie wanted applesauce, but it’s a pretty hard and fast rule at our house that you don’t get anything extra after a meal unless you’ve finished all your food.

I went around the corner to get the other girls treat ready and pulled out a bowl for Gracie, too. It would be okay if she didn’t finish her lunch this once. I wanted her to eat something before naptime, and for that matter, I just like her and wanted her to enjoy some applesauce.

“All right, kid, this is grace!”, I thought. At least this time I didn’t actually feel that way. But I did start thinking about how we give grace to our children.

When God gives grace, it’s free and loving and without a rebuke or a reminder that, “You don’t really deserve this, you know. Just remember that.” How many times am I guilty of that graceless attitude?

The grace I receive from God is so lavish and unassuming that very often I completely miss it. It is above my childish understanding; I just go on assuming I deserve all good things. At least a two-year old genuinely doesn’t understand.

When we extend grace to our children, it should be patterned after how God extends grace to us.

“Here’s your applesauce, Gracie.”