Posted by: responsiblemom | November 24, 2009

Thanksgiving at our house!

With all the commercialism around Christmas it seems as though Thanksgiving is being swallowed up in the marketing aimed at capitalizing on the celebration of the worlds greatest gift. The gift of God’s Son is certainly something to celebrate, and the giving of gifts is a grand way to do it, but should that overshadow the day set aside for giving ‘THANKS’? Here, we have a ‘thanksgiving tree’. It is a paper tree taped to the wall on which we tape leaves that the children cut out and write on. We also have started a “Book of Thanks”, in which the children create pages that describe, depict, or list what they are thankful for. Throughout the year I encourage the children to add to their books when they tell me about something they are particularly thankful for. This year, we didn’t get the leaves on the tree (actually there were a few still up from last year), but we did get out their Book of Thanks and as we sat at our dining room table, we read scriptures about giving thanks, and then the children shared the pages in their Books (actually a 2″ three ring binder with plastic cover that they can slip a page into as a cover for their “Book of Thanks”.

I have a lot to be thankful for, but even if I had nothing in this world, I have God. I have life, and a promise of eternal life. I have hope. And having been at a place in my life where hope was hard to find, I am sooooooo thankful for it.

What are some things that come to mind – not necessarily at Thanksgiving but at other times throughout the year – that you are particularly thankful for? And let’s go one step further, how often do we ‘give thanks’ for the things that bless us. Who do we tend to give thanks to? How do we show someone just how thankful we are? In many areas, it is ‘common courtesy’ or proper etiquette to send a thank you note or card after certain events. But what about those two little words THANK YOU? Are they enough? Is there a time when saying, “Thank you” is not enough?
I’d love to hear what you think. And, how do you “Give Thanks”??

Posted by: responsiblemom | November 23, 2009

Introducing Son #3

Michael gave me a bit more trouble than the others early in the pregnancy and again at delivery time.  His cord was not only wrapped around his neck, but it was too short even if it hadn’t been.  I had a torn placenta in the first trimester, and at 40 weeks, we began induction with frequent very low drops in heart rate.  I was a little impatient for everyone (docs and nurses) to get on with the c-section, as I was fully aware of the situation and what was necessary.  While the c-section was a success for Michael, who was smaller than the others but quite healthy, I on the other hand, did not have such a great recovery(but this post is about Michael – not me).

Michael was 7lbs 13 oz. and an all around healthy newborn.  He nursed well, and I began supplementing at about 4 months because he was not growing much and he was only at the 10th percentile on his growth charts.  Supplementing did not go well.  He would take yogurt and applesauce and nothing else.  Even getting him to take his medicine when he developed an ear infection was a nightmare.  When the Doctor said that if he didn’t start gaining weight they would have to admit him to the hospital I decided this was one battle I was going to win.  I spent 3 days literally nose to nose with Michael telling him “I love you Michael and you will eat this”.  Both of us did a lot of crying those three days, but it set the stage for better eating.  After that it usually only took a stern look and an “I love you,Michael” to get him to eat a healthy assortment of foods, and his weight and height crept up to the 25th – 50th percentile.

He is still quite small for his age, but definitely not slow.  He loved learning to read at age 2 1/2 and began ‘jogging’ with (okay – behind) mommy by age 3.  Absolutely adorable to watch.   Now, age 8, he is in running club, and when I can join them, I am definitely behind him most of the way.  He is also doing quite well in school.  When I tried to get him into kinder-garden the year that Joshua went into 1st grade, they wouldn’t let him because his birthday is October rather than September.  So I had him home with me for another year.  When I entered him the next year, I got called in for a conference with the Principle and Teacher after the first week, suggesting that they go ahead and move him up to first grade.  (And I didn’t even say “I told ya so!”).

I try not to call him the baby of the bunch, but lately I have noticed that he does a lot more crying than suits the situation at times.  I was about to call him on it yet again last night when I heard the boys horsing around in the family room.  Before I got headed that direction I heard Joshua shout – “HE’S BLEEDING!!!!”  Being a nurse, I didn’t get too excited – casually walked into the family room telling them to calm down.  One look at Michael and I had flashbacks of when Cathryn had ‘run into the entertainment center’ at age 3.  I had him lay down and held the gash together while sending the others on various errands so I could get a better look.  When Michael squeezed his eyes, and the would separated completely I decided a few butterflies would NOT be sufficient and took him to the ER where he got 9 stitches.  He took it quite well although he was visibly nervous the whole way there.  Now he is all about wanting to show it off.  It is right along his eyebrow above his right eye, and quite swollen.

It was interesting to see how each of the others reacted.  All wanted to be helpful, but their expressions were as unique as their personalities.  Joshua in particular used his ‘escape humor’ to cope, while Cathryn jumped into the task mode.  Benjamin was his usual sweet caring self.   An interesting little tidbit I didn’t expect and am not quite sure how to process, is that Joshua (who had been horsing around with Michael when it happened) decided he needed to pay Michael a dollar after we got back (which Michael readily accepted).  They announced it to me proudly, but I really didn’t know how to respond.

Anyone have any thoughts??? I’d love to hear them.

Posted by: responsiblemom | November 16, 2009

My Second Son

Joshua was definitely on his own schedule. There was no need to induce labor. He made a relatively rapid night time appearance (or should I say early morning)on July 25, 2000. He was healthy and happy. Stayed that way for awhile (the happy part – I mean). I thought I had a strong-willed child in my Daughter Cathryn, but I soon discovered that Joshua had her beat ‘by a country mile’ as the saying goes. He had to start doing a lot for himself after I got pregnant with number 4. I had complications and couldn’t lift my then 8 month old, so I actually taught him to climb the furniture so he could sleep in his crib at night. We usually slept on the floor together for nap time. And since I wasn’t aloud to lift him, he learned to wait for me to get sat down so he could climb in my lap.
He was great with his siblings most of the time but it wasn’t long before I discovered that the best way to keep him from antagonizing them was to keep him busy helping me with some household task or other.

That’s when he found his first love!!!
THE VACUUM Cleaner!!! I had a Generation 5 Kirby (love it – but it’s quite heavy: esp for a 2-3 year old) and it belonged in a hall utility closet set about 2ft up off the floor. He would drag it out when I wasn’t looking to vacuum for mommy, and would just about through a temper tantrum when I made him stop. I soon discovered that we were both much happier if I ‘nipped’ every attitude problem ‘in the bud’. I also realized that keeping them all busy with structured expectations was the only way to keep things from getting out of hand.

I had already been training Cathryn and Benjamin with things like making their beds and putting their clean clothes away, as well as some every day ‘learning expeditions’. I had stopped working shortly after I found out I was pregnant with Joshua, so I had ample time to plan educational games and ‘field trips’, but no money for splurging. Our ‘learning expeditions, were mostly things like walks on which we would discuss car colors, pedestrian safety, and a particularly necessary skill called “look, learn, and leave it be”. We took ‘window shopping’ to a whole new level, and it was fun and educational.

My real struggles began as he was 3-5 and getting very angry and aggressive. It didn’t matter who had upset him, he would lash out at whomever or whatever was closest. He made some very (probably normal, but shocking to me) angry threats, and yet when at the dollar store wanted toy guns. I absolutely refused, and explained to him that guns are not bad, but it is irresponsible to let someone without self control have one. I promised him that he would have to work very hard to prove to me that he had enough self control to be responsible with a gun (even if it was just a play gun). I then created a ‘Self-Control-O-Meter’ to help both him and I have a visual log of how he was doing.

I’d like to say that that was what turned things around, but I can’t. What really did it, was when (about 2-3 months later) we got a DVD ‘the Story of Jesus’.  We had Veggi-Tales, and Beginners Bible products, and we were consistently involved in church.  But the way that movie depicted Jesus as a real person with a real relationship with God, His Father, must have had an impact on Joshua. He asked about being baptized, and when I asked if he knew what it meant, He just said, “Yeah, its what Jesus did.” Gotta love the simplicity of a child. We talked about what it represented; an outward show of what God does for us on the inside when we accept Jesus as our Lord.  I asked him if he had done that or wanted to.  He said yes, and we prayed right then and then talked to the youth pastor about the next time he would be doing baptisms.  Joshua was baptized in Roscoe, Illinois in August of 2005.  By Christmas, I was as excited as he was to see him open his first toy gun (just a plastic cork rifle) and what fun it was!  Can’t say there haven’t been plenty of challenges since, but I can’t deny that God is at work in Joshua’s heart. He is quite responsible even if he is still an antagonist, but he also shows great self control, and genuine respect for God’s word and for what is right. It really is amazing to see what God is doing.  Right here in my home, with my kids.
Thanks for sticking with me for such a long post.

Posted by: responsiblemom | November 4, 2009

Meet My First Son

I considered titling this Meet My #1 Son, but my other 2 boys might object.  So, 14 months after Cathryn, Benjamin was born.  He too was late, and we had to induce labor.  He arrived healthy and intact (albeit with 2 differences that I may venture to share in another post), with a very calm demeanor.  Until we drove away, that is.  For some reason he absolutely hated riding in the car.  Buckled in the car seat he was fine – could be sound asleep – even into the car.  But the moment we pulled out of the driveway, he began screaming inconsolably.  After a few months of trying everything short of tranquillizing him, we just resigned to not travel more than my nerves could stand (ie.  the store, church, doctors office, and – well that’s about it), with one excruciating exception.  He was about 4 months old when some friends of ours were driving from Ohio to see the Memorial Site of the OK City bombing (we lived in Tulsa at the time).  Being a breastfeeding mom and unable to tolerate such a drive with constant crying, it was a ‘very uncomfortable’ drive.  I was sure he would be one of many children with severe car sickness but by about 9-10 months he seemed to have overcome, and was easily distracted with the typical car-seat toys.

My next observation about Benjamin and his unique personality, was that he really was – how do it put it nicely? – um, well, motivationally challenged??  Okay, lazy!!  Most children (I say this based on many years working with babies and young children) will push back or help when you are dressing them.  Benjamin did not.  He also would not undress himself or even help when I helped him change, until he was about 4 years old.  He was definitely not aggressive like his sister, and even as his younger brothers entered the scene, he was more of a follower.

Having said all that, I have to say, that Benjamin is the sweetest most, kind-hearted kid I think I have every met.  He loves to be helpful and complimentary.  One of my favorite things he used to say was in response to my telling him to change his attitude.  He would be crying about something silly or something he didn’t want to do, and right when I told him to change his attitude, he would pull up the tail of his shirt to wipe his eyes and as the shirt came down he had a smile on his face, with his eyes wide and said “HAPPY BOY!”   It amazed me every time.  Unfortunately, he outgrew that too.  Another of my favorite things he said was on one of our many long drives (don’t remember if it was a move or a visit) we had begun talking about my cooking.   Benjamin, about 6 years old at the time, pipes up from the back seat and says “I like every thing  Mom Cooks…………pause…………………that she doesn’t burn.”  So incredibly sincere I  doubled over with laughter.  He still says it once in a while to see what my reaction will be, but that first time was ……..priceless…!!!

Benjamin is also a bit shy sometimes. A few years ago, when the church talked about having a baptismal service, Cathryn and Joshua both wanted to be baptized. Benjamin assured me that he had Jesus in his heart, and that he understood what baptism was about, but he didn’t want to say anything in front of people.  I assured him that it was something he had to be ready for that I would never make him do it, but that whenever he was ready, we would make sure he could.  Just last summer, here at our current church, he said he was ready, and was baptized in the pond across from the church.

He is quite tall and very thin, but healthy and active.  His favorite food used to be undeniably and without hesitation Macaroni and Cheese.  He would eat the whole dish of it if I let him.  More recently things like pizza, nachos, chili-dogs, and lasagna tend to run a close 2nd,3rd, etc.  And while he did play JFL this year with his brother Joshua, he is much more suited to intellectual pursuits.  He loves K-NEX, and his ERECTOR sets, and often talks about what he plans to invent.  In the grade-school music program this year, he played the part of Albert Einstein in Historical Heroes part of the program.  Some friends have promised me pics, so I hope to get them added sometime.

And very smart! His standardized testing shows him well above average, and yet -as mention before- he is a bit lazy unmotivated when it comes to schoolwork.  But alas, I have an older brother (now retired from 20+ years in the marines) who was just like that.  Benjamin loves to read, and is generally a very ‘happy boy’, so I’ll try not to hound him about the  lazy poorly motivated part.  I have several ‘motivational’ tools in place, and just keep tweaking them as we go to try to help him.  At some point it is just his choice.

If you have (or have had) a child who is difficult to motivate and found something that worked please feel free to share.


Posted by: responsiblemom | October 28, 2009

Meet My Daughter

I decided on the way home from work this morning that I should introduce my children one at a time.  I will start with my first.  Cathryn was born on February 2, 1998.  She was very ambitious from the start, and very social, and I must admit I had to ask the nurses if they were sure she was ours, because she was absolutely beautiful (and this was from a nurse who worked in an NICU (neonatal intensive care unit).  Again, I was moved to the point of tears when I got her first set of Professional Pictures back from the Day Care.  I was beyond beaming!

Little did I know that she would be such a challenge.  Along with her ambition, came steely determination (often termed ‘strong willed’ these days).  While she was very involved with caring for her new siblings, she was quite prone to temper tantrums whenever we disagreed on what she should do, (or esp what she should wear – yes, even before school years).  The turning point came when she commented about not liking a song that was on the radio (she was about 3).  It was Carmen’s song “Satan, bite the dust” and she was scared by it – so I explained what was happening, and how she could be free from fear and other bad things if she asked Jesus into her heart, and received the Holy Spirit.  I asked her if she wanted to do that, and she said yes, so we prayed together and she accepted Jesus into her heart.  I would love to say she never had any of those tantrums again, but she did.  Much fewer, and farther between, but this time I could ask her if her attitude was from God or from Satan, and she usually said Satan, at which point we prayed together for the Holy Spirit to rise up in her and help her have a right attitude.  God’s immediate response was evident in her amazing shift of demeanor.  I believe God planted seeds of faithfulness in both her heart and mine.

She really hasn’t changed much.  She is still beautiful (although with braces now – her smile isn’t quite the same 🙂 .  She has much the same ambitious (brothers call it bossy- and I have to admit there’s a bit of truth to that) personality.  She is now in 6th grade (gets all A’s most of the time), and involved in CrossCountry, and Basketball, and plans to play Volleyball as well.  She has shown interest in a lot more school activities, but I have made her choose so she does not over extend herself.  I really did not have a hard time convincing her of the risks – she is a very bright, conscientious girl.

She has had only a few really good friends.  Her first was her preschool classmate, who keeps in touch via email and most recently facebook.  We moved and she moved so they haven’t seen each other in nearly 6 years.  Her next really close friend was the Pastor’s daughter.  Alas, we moved again, and what do you know — they did too.  They also keep in touch though it has been over a year now since they have seen each other.   Now she has two friends at school (that I hear about most) and has stated that one of her goals (shared with me at ‘student led conferences’ ) is to make at least 5 new friends this year.

Speaking of Cathryn (well, typing that is), the kids have a shortened school day today so it is now time to go pick her up. (so much for getting a morning nap after working 3rd shift) .

Take time to reflect on the joys and triumphs in your own parenting adventures.  You might find yourself having an improved attitude with your child -despite their challenging behaviors.

Blessings to you and yours.


Posted by: responsiblemom | October 28, 2009

Hello world!

I am a 40 year old mother of 4 grade school children.  My first passion is to live for God by loving Him and others as His Word instructs, and as His Son Jesus demonstrated.  My next passion is to raise up my children to live for God as well. One of many ways I am able to love others is through a career in Nursing.  I currently work in a local hospital in the Mother/Baby Unit.  Another is by being active in my Church.  I am hoping to broaden my circle of influence by reaching out the world via web.  My aim is to somehow be a blessing to those who need an encouraging word, a vote of confidence, a plan of action, or just a fresh testimony of God’s Grace, Mercy, Forgiveness, Provision, Love.  May you find it here.