Wednesday, March 25, 2009


Click on this CALM to see a great video of Kirk Martin talking about being calm. I love to watch and listen to these clips over and over, because they are calming to me. I have not been able to watch a Calm video, and then go yell at the kids or spouse. As a parent and a human being, I want to be like Kirk, with a calm that invites everyone in. Nothing and no one could take that away from me. Doesn't everyone want that?? Kirk found it in himself, and so can anyone else. I heard a leader in church say, "you can say, 'I will never be angry again,' and actually keep your promise to yourself." I tried it on my own, and failed, miserably. Celebrate Calm was the answer to prayer I needed.

Baby Kendon's first snow!

We loved the March snow! It was almost a foot deep at our house, but it only lasted a few days. We had to enjoy it quickly.
Peter insisted on going out like this:
We settled on this:

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Kendon is Learning, Am I?

Baby Ken's 1st words:
1. Mama 6 months
2. OW 9 months
3. Daddy 9 1/2 months

Tonight Kevin and I had fun playing with Kennie. He's learning so quickly! We taught him the sign for "love." (Arms folded across the chest.) He actually did it back! Kevin then taught him how to say "Daddy." We tried to teach him the sign for "Daddy." He almost did it. He reached up to his ear instead of his forehead, but that was good enough for us! Kevin repeated over and over, "Say: I love you daddy!" Ken said, "AY ya ya Daddy!" HA HA! We're such nerdy parents! We think our kids are geniuses, no matter what!

Those are some of the sweet moments we have with the baby before we drift off to sleep that are just priceless! He also is learning to stand by pushing up against us as we lay in the bed. He gets this super proud look on his face like "I'm DOING it! " that cracks us up! He brings such laughter and happiness to our home! It would be so empty without him!

Sleeping and Nursing

We co-sleep with the baby. We don't have a choice with the tiny house we're in, but as a nursing mom, I've always slept with or very near the baby, even when we had a large house. I still don't know if that is the best way for everyone, but for us, it is the only way. The problem is when to get the child out of the bed, and HOW! Usually I decide to give the baby the boot when we can no longer sleep! When the baby is so energized by us that he crawls all over us, and won't calm down until late into the night, or if he just wants to use me like a passy all night. Recently, I discovered that he does not feel the need to use me like a passy if he is adequately full before going to bed, something I wish I knew with my first child!

I put Kaylee and Peter in the next room at about 9-10 months old. Now I'm thinking that, especially with Kaylee, I may have mistaken her need for more food as a need to be out of our bed. So now I've been a parent just long enough to know that I don't know anything I thought I knew! NOW WHAT?
Attachment Parenting
Attachment Parenting is a method of parenting to create a strong bond between parents, especially moms, and babies. You breastfeed, carry or wear the baby as much as you can, sleep with the baby at night, the baby sleeps on you for naps; you are constantly with the baby. I attempted it with my first baby, and have done it with Kendon, but not by choice. It was more of a protection from his older siblings, and the lack of space for a crib in the main part of the house that created his attatchment parenting.
The only down side to attachment parenting, is that the baby is so very attached to me, and there are some days I just want him to be okay on his own. He does play by himself for maybe an hour a day, and then he's crying at me again. I would love it if he'd take naps at regular intervals, but that would require the use of a crib, or me taking naps with him, which I can't do with two other kids. The one crib we do have is in the back of the playroom, which doubles as the kids' bedroom, and our storage room. It is not heated, so I'm looking forward to warmer weather. When it's warm I'll consider putting the baby in the crib, at least for daily naps, but he screams when he's alone. I'm talking blood curling, blue veins popping out, entire body blood red, terrified screaming! He doesn't know he's okay by himself. That is the real down side to attachment parenting.
I was SOOO done with it after Kaylee was 10 months old, I remember balling when she fell asleep in my arms because, while it was tender and sweet, I was a prisoner to the chair while laundry and dishes went undone, phone calls went unmade, and the slightest movement caused her to wake up and cry. I could do nothing but stare at the wall as my blood pressure rose for the next two hours. I didn't even have other kids and I was miserable. Peter didn't get much of it at all, because I was so traumatized by my experience with Kaylee. I was determined he would know he was fine on his own. He also took a passy and nursed very well which helped tremendously. He was my easiest, calmest, most self-assured, fattest baby, and so far, toddler.
So I am not a fan of attachment parenting, even though I've unwittingly done it with this baby. Predictably, he's insecure without me. He screams and kicks and shakes his fists while Kevin holds him and I can get ready for him, and as soon as he's at my hip he stops. As he's gotten older he's only gotten more so. I cringe to think of how I had to pry Kaylee from my hip. All the crying, by both of us, and all the sleepless nights, to teach her she was okay without me, were so hard on all of us. I just don't think I can go through all of that again!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

An Answer to Prayer

Do you struggle with hyper, emotional, impossible to control children? You are not alone.

My confession : I have struggled with my daughter for the past year. She has always been intense and head-strong, and as she's grown we have reacted to it by spanking harder or more often, yelling, telling her she was annoying, pushing her around, and other things I now know are immature and hurtful. I knew something had to change when she began to threaten her own safety, and others around her. I've never told anyone this, but one day I saw her watch the baby fall off the couch, and she actually smiled! It shocked me! Did I have an evil child? No. I had an angry and hurt child, who was very strong to the core and refused to be broken.
My sister told me "It sounds like you need Celebrate Calm."   Immediately I was irritated.  Just one more parenting program that I knew wouldn't work.

The thing I was struck with immediately as I began to read Celebrate Calm newsletters, was, "It's like this guy is peeking through our windows!  He's describing my family exactly!"  I have begun to experiment a little, and am finding immediate, positive results.

I am still a work in progress, and I have not been completely successfull in changing the way I parent yet, but it's baby steps, and I definitely am taking those!

Here is a sample of a newsletter from Celebrate Calm:
[Shortened, and changes in colors and appearances have been done by me. My comments are in these blue brackets.]
Why You Should Want A Strong-Willed Child
Confession: When my son was young, he was a really "difficult" child in every sense. I struggled with this and tried to drive this oppositional nature out of him.
Instead, I drove it deeper within him and began down a path of destroying my relationship with my son.

It wasn't until I heard a still, small voice whispering three questions to me that I began to see Casey in a different way: What if there isn't necessarily anything wrong with your son? What if he is made this way on purpose, and you are frustrating those purposes? What if instead of changing Casey, you are the one who needs to change? Ouch.

The response to those three questions forever changed my life and my relationship with my son. And it is the reason Celebrate!Calm exists today. I cannot tell you how many parents lament, "Why couldn't I have been given an easier/complaint child?" I understand the internal struggle when you realize parenting is more difficult than you expected. But I must ask you the same tough question: are you ready to grow up and be mature rather than just wishing your child would be different?

A Warning

I believe in firm, matter-of-fact rules, expectations and consequences. I am principled and cannot be moved emotionally by my teenage son. I am the king of my home, but I do not walk around acting like an immature, insecure dictator who cannot stand when my son disagrees with me.
I let my yes be yes and my no be no.

But that is far different from the negative, stern, harsh tone we often adopt with these children out of frustration. Many parents think their job is to "drive the disobedience" out of their strong-willed children. Alas, many of us unwittingly engender this disobedience and set our kids up for failure. We are so unyielding and demanding in our approach, that we create battles and "yes-no" standoffs repeatedly throughout the day. Are you creating battles where none need exist?

[This felt like a slap in the face, and a kick in the pants; both of which I needed!]

If you take this approach, you will drive this oppositional nature deeper into your child. You will sever your relationship with your own child. You will send the message that there is something wrong with your child, that you don't like him or her, that he'll never meet your expectations. You'll withhold the affirmation and unconditional acceptance your child desperately needs. And guess what happens? Kids like this find themselves seeking affirmation and acceptance from other disaffected peer groups. They will seek acceptance somewhere--better from you than a teenage boy, or group of social outcasts.
Many of you grew up in homes like this, dealing with rejection from your parents, and now you find yourself repeating the cycle. You must, must, must change this.

[So on the positive end, what DO we do? Kirk gives 4 steps that are simplistic in principle, but far from simple to achieve. He expounds a great deal on each of these, but I will just give a summary.]

1. Check your own heart and deal with your own anxiety.
[This morning I was concerned that my daughter needed to go to the bathroom and was holding it in. I could feel my blood pressure rising, and I realized that each time I told her to go, my heart raced more. I came close to yelling at her to GO POTTY! Instead, I paused and looked inward. Why did this bother me? I said to myself; it's not healthy for her to hold it. Besides, she needs to learn to just go so she doesn't have accidents the way I did as a child. Then I realized my anxiety stemmed from my own childhood, and I needed to take a step back and let her have ownership over her own bladder, and childhood. I did not allow her to ignore or disobey me, but I calmed myself down, and refused to be moved to anger or frustration. Just another way I used Kirk's advice in my daily life.]
2. Calm yourself: Don't take it personally.
3. Give your child some ownership.
(So for kids who are naturally more independent, I want to show the big picture and create the parameters, but give them some options.) [For instance, I wanted my daughter to pick up her litter and throw it in the trash this morning. She ignored me when I said, "Pick that up and put it in the trash." But when I said, "Kaylee, we want this floor to be clean, right? Let's pick up our trash so the floor can be clean." She perked up, and picked it up. But she didn't throw it away immediately. It was too easy a task. She asked to take the trash to the can across the room and behind a shopping cart instead of the one a few feet away. At first I tried to convince her that the closer one was better, but then I stopped myself. I realized that she just needed more of a challenge, and I allowed it, then praised her afterwards. Everyone won.]
4. Cultivate gifts, talents, and passions.

[To see more, go to, or reply to this post requesting more info. I can send you the specific newsletter I got this from.]


My friends and family have heard me tell about how I love this website and this program. I have not invested yet in the CDs Kirk sells, though I want to desperately. I've seen and felt progress just by getting the free newsletters. I have learned so much, but more importantly, I've had the shift in perspective that is the foundation for change.

If you read these descriptions, and feel it applies to you, don't be afraid to check it out. The newsletter I signed up for comes as he writes them, which is sporadic, and he doesn't share email addresses. I love to talk about the things I'm learning with anyone and everyone, because I think every child and every family ought to have this gift.

I thought I was doing well to "have high expectations" of my daughter. But all I was really doing was disaproving of my daughter, day after day, until frustration and disappointment became a part of who she was, and how she saw herself. Now we have a better idea of the direction we should be taking, and we have more tools to draw from. I can't wait to learn even more and keep practicing!

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Mistakes I've Made and Learned From

Mistakes with my first child, I often became overwhelmed because I thought I had to teach her everything, and my own pride drove me to want her to do everything faster and better. She was very bright, but so often I focused on what I wanted her to learn next, that I didn't just stop and let her enjoy her babyhood, especially once her brother came along. I pushed her to grow up too fast, and now I look back and realize how it just slipped away, and she'll never be a baby again!

My second child was constantly compared to his sister, and most unfairly, even though I knew better, I just couldn't help it. He was slower at everything, at first, and I think I babied him too much. He did learn to talk very rapidly, and was compared as faster than his sister on that. He refused to sign before he spoke, which was odd to me, but he seemed to be an auditory learner, and really used those excellent ears of his. He didn't want to learn to sign until he got talking down. It took me a long time to accept that, when I compared him to Kaylee who signed much more than talked for a long time. I spent his entire babyhood looking back at Kaylee's instead of just enjoying the ride, and now, those three short years are gone!
Now with my third child, I've finally learned to just enjoy him as he is, and not compare him, or push him to grow and learn any faster than he does naturally. I am more able to relax and laugh with him, and just enjoy every day as it comes, and sit back and marvel at him, instead of worrying that he needs to be taught this, and that, and so-n-so is already doing this, should he be doing that too? I don't care about any of that any more!

Kevin is also there with me, and we often laugh when we see our old selves in new parents. It's cute to watch but we're so glad that we've learned and grew up a bit. We are definitely "growing up with our kids." Living in the PRESENT. That is the main lesson I've learned, and I'm loving it!! "Kennie" is tiny, and does everything at his own pace. I just have to figure out how to keep the house clean when I have a baby. I haven't figured that out yet, but I'm not anxious about that either. I'm sure I'll learn.

Now, you'd think that we've learned our lesson and no longer push our daughter to learn and grow faster, and compare Peter to his sister, but alas, it is not that simple. It seems to have become a habit, and a way of relating to them that has become entrenched in our relationship with them. Now that we're aware of what we've been doing, we're trying to change that relationship, and we have small victories here and there.

For instance, I was fretting that my daughter had forgotten all the words I'd once taught her to read, and she was slow at learning her colors, and still can't write her name, even though all the other kids in her primary class can write their names. I wrote to Kirk Martin of Celebrate Calm expressing my frustrations at trying to teach her when she was just not willing to sit down and learn with me.

He reminded me that it is foolish to compare her to other children her age. "Relax and enjoy her!" He said. I realized he was right, and I knew it, and told my husband the same thing, and we forced ourselves to do just that. Now I see that she has excelled in other ways, and she's just learning different things, and has chosen to focus on non-academic learning for now, and THAT'S OKAY. She is fine, and I need to be too!! Still I learn, and still I grow. Slowly, slowly, but surely.

Catching up!!

Peter is now 3 years old! He is very active, climbing, jumping, running, etc. But he's also very controlled for the most part. I would not call him wild, just energetic. Yesterday I was scolding him for standing with the fridge open, and he just broke down and cried, and asked for a passy. We got rid of the passy months ago, but he still asks for it when he's really upset. So I'm thinking:

A. He needs a nap,

B. He's been watching his overly dramatic sister, or

C. He's feeling really insecure because I've been scolding him a lot today, and haven't been very nice to him.

I decided it was C, with a little bit of A. I let him cry for a few minutes, then put the baby down and held Peter for a while. I sang his Peter Rabbit song, hugged him , and told him how much I loved my big boy, etc. We sang several songs, and I made sure to make eye contact, which I reallized had been a really long time, at least days, since I'd really looked into his eyes. He immediately responded, and gave me a big kiss on the mouth and said, "I love you, Mira." (Mira is his nicname for me.) I realized then that I had missed my son maybe even more than he'd missed me, because when he got up and walked away, my whole being silently cried out, "COME BACK!" So I offered to sit and read some books with him until he was like, "Mom, that's enough...really... I'm good now. Leave me alone." Sniff.

Peter loves to pray. He prays over everything. Every time I give him a glass of water, he prays over it. It's like this compulsion that he can't eat or drink until he prays. Kevin said one night he gave Peter 5 refills of his cereal, (Peter eats a ton, and still is tiny,) and each time the food was set in front of him, he said a prayer. He loves to start by saying, "OH NO! We forgot to say a prayer!"

The other day he found a stash of candy up high in a cabinet. I would not have known, until I heard his little voice behind the couch saying "Heavy Father, thank you for this day..."

Peter is also very good with language. Ironicly, he was my only child to take a pacifier, and the fastest to speak. So what they say, that pacifiers delay speach, was NOT true with my son. When I read books with Peter, he often is telling me what to say before I say it (he memorizes them.) He teaches me sign language from his Signing Time videos. He will remember things he's learned with no reminders for months! I want to start teaching him reading, and I wish I could teach him other spoken languages, but I am not fluent in any other language. Kaylee is now 4. She is very active, and wild much of the time, though she is calming down a lot as I gradually try to use celebrate calm principles with her., it helps with my other kids too. Some days are better than others.

She has a very good memory sometimes, and it surprises me! She remembers her toddler years, and will look at an object and tell me how she got it, or what happened when she got it, when I don't even remember.

She is also very observant. She asks questions constantly, and is a mommy in training. She does a perfect impression of me, and often gets in trouble for immitating me, such as spanking her brother. I have a hard time with it, because she is usually careful to say she's sorry to have to do this, and how she doesn't like to spank him, but he just can't be naughty. He cries, and I come in and say "Hey! That's not your job Kaylee! It's my job!" Then I hear her telling Peter later, "Peter, it is not your job to spank! It's my job." Right now she is putting a load of laundry in to wash. Really.

Kaylee is also a princess, and loves pretty things, except she loves to wear her brother's "zippers." She gets in to my make-up frequently, and loves purses, and pretending she's a mommy. She comes up with names like "Hassaline, and Cashi, and Ci Ci," for her mommy names, and we play make-believe together. It is fun sometimes. I feel like a little kid again.

Last night she was running around the house, round and round constantly for 5 minutes or so, and I was about to tell her to stop running, before she got hurt, and come to dinner; when she informed me that she was "Anjelisha" and riding on a train! She had to ask the conductor to stop the train in a very mature, grown-up voice, so she could come to the table for dinner. As she went"Pssssh, chugga chugga...." and slowed down, I was thankful I hadn't scolded her, and just let her have her childhood moment. What an imagination!

I have one more child than I did last time I posted, Kendon Kevin. He's a very bright little baby. This picture was taken when he was 3 months old. He is now 9 months old, and is such a mama's boy!
He can't leave anything alone. I've learned I can't just give him a toy to play with, because it's too easy. He's bored before he begins. So I give him a bucket with a toy or toys in it. Then he's very interested and is occupied until one of his siblings notices he's having fun and takes the toy away. ;)

He is trying to stand already. I've done nothing to encourage this. It's all him. He's been pulling to stand, and side-stepping along the couch and bed. He has begun trying to stand with nothing to hold on to recently. Mostly to get at me. He is learning to speak as well. He often copies our sounds. He loves "OWWW." We hear that a lot in our house. He says "mama" which is the only word he says that he knows the meaning of at this point. He's been my only baby to say "mama" before "daddy."

He saw me writing one day, and was very interested, and eventually attacked the pen and paper. Then later I caught him trying to write with a pen, the point side down and everything, and then the next day he was doing it again. He's the same way about the computer. We leave him alone for a minute and he's pecking at the keys, squeeling with delight. When the battery cover fell off the remote control, he picked up the cover, and excitedly crawled over to the remote, turned it over to see the batteries, and attempted to put it back together. He's just really observant, and a quick learner.

He's been a very relaxed and easygoing baby for the most part, unless I'm changing his diaper or getting him dressed. He hates being on his back. The last few weeks he's starting to want mommy all the time. It's a sign that he needs more food. I'm nursing, so I know that my milk will adjust to accomidate him within the next two to three weeks, or I could just start feeding him baby food.

He's very curious about food. He cries and bangs on his high chair if we're eating anything, so I often give him tastes. I had to feed him a bunch of my tomato soup the other day, and I was a tad worried about if that was okay for his age. He didn't have any trouble, so I guess it was okay. He also knows the smell and look of craisins, which my kids eat every day, and he demands to be given them, even though I'm a little nervous. But he does fine. He has 6 teeth, and insists on being able to use them! He wants to chomp on breads and crackers, and cookies, and he seems to remember things he likes! He also enjoys gnawing on raw broccoli or carrots.

So that's our update for the kids! Kevin and I are doing really great right now. We're like most couples, and go through ups and downs. The trick of course is having more ups than downs. Lately, we've just had an easy time of communicating, and working through disagreements. I love him so much it hurts!

Last night he stopped at the grocery store without me asking him to, and got some eggs and bread, and a few other things he'd noticed we needed. He did all this, without even calling me!! Some of you may not think that's all that wonderful, but to me, it was a sign of true love! He's come a long way!! He cared about whether we had enough food, and he paid attention! Also, he got the brands I like! I'm pretty picky about my brands...and he nailed it! He also got wheat bread for me, even though he prefers white bread! It was just one of those things that seemed little, but showed a lot of love. I don't think I thanked him enough! I will have to write him a little note.

Kevin spends all day every day building a home for us. He hasn't had a job since just before I got pregnant with Ken. So he's been building a house, hoping to sell it. The economic downturn has really thrown our plans, and is making things very precarious and scary for us. Maybe we're close right now because we're both scared about our future! Well, every cloud has it's silver lining, right?

I love how much my husband loves, and loves to play with his kids!