Friday, April 30, 2010


10-- Number selected by to win my giveaway for the novel, Not a Sparrow Falls.  The lucky commenter is Amanda from "popp"ing out one letter at a time

5-- Number of children  Amanda and I will each have after our babies are born.

2 0-- Number of weeks pregnant I will be this week-- halfway!

2 4-- Number of hours a day that I am hungry.  Seriously, it never ends and the number on the scale is surely going to reflect it. 

4-- Number of naps I am able to snag in an average week. 

0-- Number of days in his life that Owen has not broken down into tears over something.

3-- Number of children in my house who contracted a mysterious virus this week.

1-- Number of children in my house who did not contract the mysterious virus despite having used his brother's toothbrush "by accident" before bed one night.

4-- Number of weeks until school is out for the summer at our house.

Happy weekend to all!

Friday, April 23, 2010

His Eye Is On The Sparrow (a giveaway)

I love the chorus of birds chirping in spring. I love how their voices come alive after a winter of silence.

I love hearing and singing "His Eye Is On The Sparrow."  I love the melody.  I love the comfort in the lyrics.  I love the truth that this hymn sings forth. 

Why should I feel discouraged, why should the shadows come,
Why should my heart be lonely, and long for heav’n and home,
When Jesus is my portion? My constant Friend is He:
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.
I sing because I’m happy, I sing because I’m free,
For His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

I love the words of Scripture.  I love how God has promised to hold us in His hand and never let us fall.  I love how He promises that He will not forsake us. 

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.  Matthew 10: 29-31 NIV

And I love the book by Linda Nichols's book, Not A Sparrow Falls.  It is one of the rare books that I've taken the time to read twice.  It is such a beautiful story of redemption.

There is redemption for Bridie, a young woman who has made wrong choices, taken wrong paths, and feels as though she is too far gone for forgiveness.  There is redemption for Samantha, the child who has lost her mother and experiences confusion without her.  There is redemption for Alastair, father and minister, who has lost his wife and lost his way. 

Bridie is running from a dangerous situation of her own making and craving a feeling safety.  When her path crosses with Samantha's, a young girl looking for safety of the emotional kind, the two form a timid friendship.  But how does Alastair, a man who is just as floundering (but doesn't know it), play into their quest for a guiding hand?  As their stories proceed and twist into one another, it is beautiful to watch the characters build each other up while still struggling to find redemption of their own.

This is not a sappy story that attempts to put a happy face on tough problems.  It is a moving story of real life and real consequences and the hope that God brings despite the pain.  Having read the book several years ago, I was excited to see it come out in re-issue.  I found myself reading snippets between tasks...slipping in a chapter at naptime...rocking Benjamin before bed and reading a few more lines.  It is that good...and I'm pleased to offer a copy to one of my readers. 

There are four ways to earn an entry.  You may do one or two or all!
  • Earn 1 entry by leaving a comment with the name of a favorite book.
  • Earn 1 entry by leaving a comment with the name of a favorite hymn.
  • Earn 1 entry by blogging about this contest. Don't forget to leave a separate comment with the link to your post.
  • Earn 1 entry by sharing this contest with your Facebook or Twitter friends. Again, be sure to leave a separate comment telling me you did so.
Giveaway ends Friday, April 30 at 9 pm ET. Open to U.S. readers only.


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Many Faces of Potty Training

The potty trainers at our house fell into distinct categories.  While the basic method of training was the same for all, their individual personalities dictated how we went about it, as well as the timing and speed. 

Gavin (our first potty trainer) was the Don't Care Trainer.  He was content to use diapers and was content to walk around in wet underwear.  Messes didn't bother him so he had no personal incentive to use the toilet.  We attempted several times to train him before he turned three, but ended up frustrated each time.  Finally, we developed a method that worked rather quickly.  We brought the potty chair into our main living area for a few days.  We had him sit on it about twice an hour at first.  We had him sit so frequently that he didn't have time to wet between potty visits.  Each time he was successful, we rewarded him with an M&M.  Before long, he caught on and realized what he was supposed to do and we were able to move the potty chair back to the bathroom.  We night trained him at the same time and because he was so concious of what he needed to do during the day, it carried over into the nighttime hours. 

Maddie (our second potty trainer) was the Guns Blazing Trainer.  Being only 19.5 months younger than Gavin, she was already 18 months when he began potty training.  She immediately began showing an interest herself.  She was also an early talker and could express her needs well.  We had a period of days where she used the potty as often as Gavin did, but she was not very consistent.   One morning after her second birthday she sat at the breakfast table and declared, "I'm going to wear panties today,"  and she didn't look back.  It was just that easy!  We reminded her multiple times during the day to use the toilet, but once she decided to do it, she did.  Because she was so eager, we chose to train her directly on the adult toilet and not use a potty chair.

Owen (our third potty trainer) was the Reluctant (and Fearful) Trainer.  I was very apprehensive about training him because he was so terrified of the whole bathroom idea.  He was afraid to sit on the toilet.  He was afraid of the flushing sound.  He was afraid to wash his hands under running water.  He was afraid to even walk into a public restroom.  The whole idea terrified him...and terrified me!  A month after his third birthday, though, he developed a severe diaper rash that left him in so much pain, he limped when he walked.  I knew we were just going to have to go for it so on Saturday, I told him that starting Monday, he was done with diapers.  He was scared, but ready to get rid of his rash.  On Monday morning, we took off the diaper and made the switch to underwear.  I took him to the potty about once an hour.  The first day, his main accomplishment was learning to hold his urine for hours at a time.  On the second day,  he started having actual successes.  By day four, he was wearing underwear overnight and by the end of the week, he used his first public restroom.  Potty training went sublimely once we made the plunge.  Granted, seven months later, Owen still asks if he can wear diapers, but he is fully trained.

I anticipate another year before we even attempt to train Benjamin, but I'm sure there are as many potty trainer personalities as there are potty trainers.  What kind of trainer was your child?

To start at the beginning of my potty training series, click here.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

One Step Back

As far as I've experienced it, there are two varieties of potty training set-backs.  The first kind is not as much set-back as it is failure to start forward.  When I began potty training Gavin, I knew nothing about the process and we started several times with no luck.  We would put him in underwear and then find him playing in a puddle, unbothered by the mess.  We'd change him and remind him to use the potty and then find him wet again.  Instead of stressing, we took this as a sign that he was just not ready to make the potty training plunge and so we reverted back to diapers and waited. 

The second kind of set-back is a bit more perturbing, but as it has happened with each of my children, I consider it normal.  We begin with the intense week of potty training.  We make the switch to underwear full-time.  The child learns to follow body cues.  We take the trip to the bathroom multiple times a day.  We reward successes.  And then potty training is complete.  The hoop-la is over and the treats are put away.  The child is confident in their ability to make it to the potty on time, every time. 

And then the child gets too confident.  He waits awhile after he feels the urge to pee.  He keeps playing with his trains until the feeling reaches desperation.  He runs to the potty and he is too late.  I hear a little call of,  "Mama, I need help,"  and then I enter a puddle-y, wet bathroom. 

Or she realizes she needs to go, but doesn't want to stop eating lunch.  She finishes her sandwich before running to the bathroom.  She makes it onto the toilet, but damp underwear must be changed.  And it happens in the afternoon and before bed, too. 

Thankfully, this type of set-back is more frustrating than anything.  It doesn't usually mean the child is un-training.  It just means they need a little reminding to be consistent.   

To start at the beginning of my potty training series, click here
Up next: Potty Trainer Personalities

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Pee-pee's and Zzz's

When I was potty training Gavin, I trained him for the day and the night at the same time.  I thought that was what you were supposed to do...and it worked.  Then I found out that many people day train and postpone night training until later, but having been successful in doing it all at once, I wasn't about to change my methods with later children! 

On the week we begin potty training, I give the child a day or two to get used to the process.  It is an intense time of running to the potty and learning to identify body cues and it is a relief for Mama and child to put on a diaper for bed.  But by Day Three or Four, the night training begins.  In our experience, after a few days of intense training, the child is very aware of the need to hold their pee-pee and this continues when they are sleeping.  By training during the day and not training for the night at the same time, I am afraid we would miss out on this ideal time of awareness.  If I taught them to go on the potty during the day, but pee-pee in their diapers at night, I would have to re-train later to do something that comes fairly easily now. 

Of course, even this method is not flawless and accidents do happen (more often with some children).  We prepare for the inevitable.  We try to limit excessive drinking in the hours before bed, but our children enjoy glasses of water by their beds so we don't make a big deal about how much they drink.  We make sure all the children potty right before bed.  Before I turn in for the night, I check on everyone and if anyone stirs, I ask if they need to use the potty again.  We also put extra padding under the sheets to soak up any puddles that appear in the night.  As soon as the potty training child wakes, we offer congratulations and head directly to the potty to begin the day's cycle. 

Interested in Part 1 of my potty training series?  Click here.
Up next: Potty training set-backs

This post was a participant in Works-For-Me Wednesday, hosted by We Are THAT Family.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Wet Ocean

wet o·cean [wet oh-shuhn]

– adjective/noun
1. toddler description of the toilet water and how it felt when he touched it

Origin: 2009 Owen


After a recent conversation with a friend about potty training, I was inspired to share how we go about the seemingly dreaded task at our house.  What is it about teaching children these necessary bathroom skills that strikes fear in our hearts?  Alas, after leading three children in the way of the potty, it does not seem so scary anymore.  A big task, to be sure, but nothing worth fretting over!

Our number one motto is, "Wait until they are ready!"  There is a lot of pressure to train early and while that may work for some, we've found that a few extra months in diapers saves tears and frustration for all involved.  Our boys trained around age three and Maddie was not quite two-and-a-half.  How do we know they are ready?  There are many ways to know and each child is different, but we looked for dry diapers most mornings, the child's awareness of bodily functions (hiding in the corner to poop, for example!), and their ability to climb onto the potty without lots of assistance.  Readiness doesn't always mean an obvious interest in the bathroom or toilet, but it does mean a definite ability to handle the task.  Potty training to us means training our children, not training ourselves.

Once a child is ready-- really ready-- to potty train, the process is fairly simple.  As soon as the child wakes up, we take them to the bathroom and change them into underwear.  We do not use Pull-ups or training underwear.  We transition directly into underwear.  Throughout the day, we remind them to use the potty about once an hour.  Sometimes they are able to go, sometimes they aren't, but we make sure there are ample opportunities to try and less chance for mess! Any time they are sucessful, we reward them with one small candy (an M&M or chocolate chip).  Pooping earns two candies.  Day One usually brings multiple accidents as the child is realizing how to follow body cues. We try to treat the accidents casually and keep on the schedule of taking the child to the bathroom a regular intervals.  Each day gets easier and before the week is over, we have a mostly-trained child.  When training is complete, the candy treats end.

When Gavin (our first) was training, we used a traditional toddler potty chair.  It was convenient, but we found that then we had to had to then take time to transition him to the adult toilet.  Plus we met with hesitation from him when he needed to use a public restroom.  With Maddie and Owen, we chose to train on the adult toilet with the aid of a child-sized potty seat.

During this time of intense training we do several things. 
  1. We stay home as much as possible.  If we leave the house, we have to switch back to diapers and this sends mixed messages.  We prefer to keep the underwear on all day.
  2. After a day or two, we keep underwear on the child during naps.  When they are training, we have found that they are ultra-aware of needing to use the bathroom and usually stay dry during a moderate time of sleep.
  3. We begin night-training simultaneously.  (cue scary music)

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The winner of This Little Prayer of Mine is Commenter #14,  Donna

Thanks to all who entered!  Keep checking back this month for a fun book giveaway for women.  This book is one of my favorites.  I've read it twice (and I rarely take the time to do that with any book!). 

May everyone have a peaceful day of rest tomorrow...

Monday, April 5, 2010

Following His Lead

I love to see the shine of joy in my little ones' eyes.  It usually takes but a moment to bring that sparkle, but it does take a conscious effort to stop and be intentional.  To put down the dishrag and sit on the kitchen floor to roll a ball.  To tell her yes and watch her run to get her sewing basket to mend the stuffed animal.  (And to thread the needle and watch her stitch.)  To settle on the carpet of a bedroom and dig through the box with him to find just the right Lego piece.  And to settle on the sofa with a stack of favorite books and read until he is content. 

He said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.

With the push for "me-time" saturating our culture, it is hard not to fall into the trap.  But  I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. [emphasis mine]

So if He could lay down his life for me, can I not do the same for those entrusted to my care?  Can I not do it with a smile and watch the sparkle come to life? 

Because he laid down His life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

That's enough reason for me.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Thoughts for Resurrection Sunday (updated with video)

O the wonderful cross, O the wonderful cross
Bids me come and die and find that I may truly live.

from The Wonderful Cross  by J. D. Walt, Chris Tomlin, and Jesse Reeves

For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.

Philippians 1:21 NIV
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