September 30, 2010

you'll love this!

have you heard this song?
i'm not a song person... but when i heard this on the radio i went home and bought it on itunes.
it's so funny.
and, my mom had to hear it... she has an x-husband who we all pray for.  :)
{we're good Christians...}

thanks bliss for showing me the video... seriously, watch it!!
i love this song.

the professor: life as a mature student

At the request of my sweet wife, and despite to innate sense of procrastination, I, the professor, take pen in hand and write about life as a mature student who also has 6 kids.  For those of you who love my wife's knack to flaunt conventions of capitalization (not the economic term) and punctuation, please forgive my conformity.  Here it goes...

  1. Being old(er).  Being roughly 10 years older than most of the other PhD students in my department really isn't that bad.  We joke and work and take classes.  I think it's that I am nearing the end of my program that the PhD students seem to observe me and see how I do things, like presenting papers, working with professors, and applying to schools for jobs.  I find that I get more shocked reactions from the undergrad students I teach when they find out that I have 6 kids and still look so young (thanks to Jen purchasing Dove soap).  I guess they expect only balding, gray-headed men to have 6 kids.  No offense if you are a balding, gray-headed man.
  2. The fun never ends.  Really, the fun NEVER ends.  There is always schoolwork to do.  Jen calls and tells me dinner will soon be on the table, and I say "Ugh, there is so much I still have to do today."  And that's not the best thing to say to a pregnant wife who has spent all day with young kids, picked up older kids from school, shepherded them through the after-school transition of jobs, homework, and piano practice, encouraged them gently and sometimes not-so-gently to finish work before play, and then prepared a wonderful dinner of grilled salmon, rice, and tomato-mozzerella salad.  Who am I to complain about what doesn't get done?  Yet my first reaction is still a quite-audible sigh instead of words of gratitude and appreciation.  I would like to get better at this.
  3. Being a soccer dad.  And a music-lessons dad, and a basketball dad, and a boy- and cub-scout  dad, and a dance dad.  One of the joys of being a student and a dad of 6 kids is that I get to drive them places.  With an honest heart and no sense of regret (most of the time), I can say to myself, "It's time to go now and be with my kids."  And I enjoy the distraction of driving around and talking to the kids and watching them practice.  I've realized that since this is planned and on my calender, it's OK.  [Jen's note-- at first i HATED staying at home while the professor drove the bigger kids to practice... hated it.  But, i soon learned that it works best for our whole family.  He takes the big kids and does homework in the car while they practice.  I am able to keep harmony in the home... finishing up dinner dishes, spending time with the older kids who aren't at practice, and putting the little kids to bed.  Often, I do the drop-off and the professor does the pick-up on his way home from school.  We have made this work for our family, and it has been a blessing in our lives.  Even with tons of kiddos and activities each night, we ALWAYS have family dinner with everybody.  And, my younger kids go to bed by 7pm.  It's nice having a husband that has made family a priority.]
  4. Flexibility.  My biggest difficulty is being flexible.  Like #3 above, if it's on my calender then I usually don't have a big problem transitioning.  But if Jen calls and for some unplanned reason I need to get the kids from school, or come home earlier than planned, then out comes the audible sigh.  Not good.  Of course, being the mom of 6 kids means constant flexibility.  I am amazed at how Jen has mastered the art of having a huge 2-do list and then, when life happens, and her list is still incomplete at the end of the day, she's learned to be OK with that.  I'm still learning this lesson.  Of course, if a senior professor calls and says something needs to take high priority, then of course I'm flexible too.  I'm just not choosing to be of my own accord.  Sometimes it's a strength, sometimes a weakness.
  5. It's a small world.  The academic world is so small.  Everyone knows (or has heard of) everyone else, so the importance of reputation is magnified.  I may have heard something uncomplimentary about Professor X or Y, and then they're labeled--and the label may or may not be accurate.  Of course, the same applies for having good things said about you.  Everyone knows who the good people are to work with, or the great culture of this or that department.  And then the network of scholars who are Latter-day Saints is even smaller, so people are comfortable saying that they also went to BYU and can we chat for a minute about what it's like to work at this or that university.  I'm sure that the longer I'm in this profession it will simply get even smaller.
  6. Unity.  Perhaps the most important lesson I've learned is how important it is to be unified with my spouse and with God.  If we are all on the same team, then life is great and I excel.  It's important to realize that my responsibilities and challenges don't change, but my capability to effectively handle them and to rise above them, changes dramatically.  If I'm not living my life in such a way to be close to God, or if I'm doing something that is alienating my wife, then life becomes much more difficult.  So if I get to busy, or if I'm home in body but not in spirit, or if I worry too much about WHAT needs to get done rather than HOW I'm going to do it, then I tend to loose sight of what's really important and my effectiveness drops.  Lucky for me, I have a great wife who values (and teaches me about) unity, so we help each other--usually it's her helping me, but not always.  :)
Anyway, in general life is challenging but very satisfying.  And not a day goes by without me knowing without a doubt that the decision for me to leave Corporate America and go back to school was the right decision for our family.  And that sure knowledge is what sustains me in those "what the heck am I doing here" moments.  So, if any of you are aspiring to go back to school, don't think it's impossible.  It's hard, but it's also a wonderful opportunity to move towards a better life.

September 29, 2010

i LOVE change.

Stillwater, OK
so, it's starting.
the professor is interviewing... i am imagining our life next year all across the country.
in academics, you most often interview in the fall for a position that will take place NEXT fall.
we're not gone yet.
we have almost a whole YEAR left in lubbock...
but, oh it is hard to stay mentally here when so much of my mind is drawn to life next year.

my husband, he's a 100% optimist.
every interview is positive, every school could make him an offer, every town he visits is a great place to raise a family...
and so, it is hard not to get excited about every place i hear about.
Oklahoma State Universitiy, Student Union Building
this week he was in Stillwater, Oklahoma.
he LOVED it.
what do you know about Stillwater?
it seems charming via the internet.

Both Texas Tech and OSU do the "Guns Up" sign... is that a sign?
he has an upcoming trip to Corvalis, Oregon.  (where it is beautiful)
and, Wichita, Kansas... (where we have great friends)
and a video conference with Fayetteville, Arkansas. (which is a great school, and a great place to live, so says a friend that the professor grew up with)

i don't know.
i really think we can be happy anywhere...
and, i just want the decision to be made.
i don't love surprises and not knowing and change.
change is good.

ps.  do you love jakob's hair as much as i do?
he styles it every morning with precision.
i call it "the claw"
cute, huh?!
the professor found me a "horse farm" in Oklahoma.
for about $230 there was a great house, 10 acres, fenced in backyard, darling old barn and acres of fenced in pasture land.  The house only had 4 bedrooms, but we could add on if we needed to.  Oh, and did i tell you, they had apple trees...  yeah.  horses and an orchard.  sounds charming huh?
i would need to paint the cabinets white, but...
i know we're a long way from buying anything... but just knowing it's there makes my heart smile.
i tell you, i could be happy anywhere.  (with 10 acres and apple trees)

September 28, 2010

just me.

so.  have i told you about my husband?
he's great.
he cooks, he cleans, he's Mr. Disciplined.
and, when he's here, he is my right leg.
and, when he's out of town...
life is all mine.
and, i love it.
i miss him, a lot. 
but, i always feel guilty, that i LOVE having 100% control of everything.

i feel no stress about dinner, or what time we eat.
mornings are carefree and happy.
i spend all day doing things that i care about (like polishing my cabinets and vacuuming baseboards)
and i don't worry a thing about the 4 loads of unfolded laundry i have hidden in my bathroom.
you see, i do a lot more, because i don't have the thought of someones "what i should be doing"
only, it's not my husband who gives me those "should" feelings.
it's me. i have these grand ideas (like my horse farm dreams), of what a good wife look likes...
and i try really hard to be that.  and it puts stress on me.  good stress, and bad stress.
and, every time i am alone i think... why is this so nice?... and what can i do to get this feeling even when i have to share Saturday with someone else?

i know, it's all my brain.
when there is two of us, i have an attitude because he's not quicker to put the kids to bed, or fold the laundry that is waiting.
and i feel his judgement (whether or not it is there) that the laundry is not folded already.
if i'm alone... i just do it.  myself.
and it feels good to work harder.  to be in charge.

i KNOW, i'm weird.
but, sometimes i wish that the professor had a job where he would be gone more, because then i could become like those super mega independent woman that you see bringing their 5 kids to every soccer practice, doing breakfast and dinner and family night and bedtime by themselves.
i know i could be that woman... but it awfully hard to be that woman, when you are married to a man that is so naturally helpful.  someone who enjoys cooking dinner and would rather sit at soccer practice while i put the little kids to bed.
Ha!  what a dork i am.
i REALLY should have married a chauvinistic cow boy who refused to do dishes...
at least then i wouldn't have wife-guilt.

i sometimes wish i was Mary Tyler Moore who always had a perfect dinner waiting on the stove so that when my hard working husband walked through the door, i could greet him with a kiss, looking ravishing in my heels and darling dress with an apron, my house spotless, my children quietly reading in their rooms...

many of you may be this kind of wife.
many of you may think this life sounds repressive and old fashioned
many of you may think i am this kind of wife.
yes, i have you fooled.

anyway... truth is, i'd rather be married than have Saturday all to myself.
i'm afraid we'd eat rather sparsely if i didn't have a husband to plan for.
bedtime is scary and awful without a warm body to curl up next to.
i'm totally afraid of the dark.
twice i saw big grasshoppers in my bathroom, and i had to kill them by myself.
it was horrible.
and... i think we've spent an hour a day on our cell phones since he's been out of town... so, it's not like i'm really alone anyway.
i don't mind putting away the laundry.
or cooking a real dinner.
not sure that the professor would give me the same rave reviews that i received last night for canned corn and box mac n cheese.
i think i'd get sick of mac n cheese anyway.

so, yesterday was nice.
and tomorrow will be grand too...
i think we'll just have to wake up a little earlier, not sure that the professor loves the "mom quotes a scripture in the car on the way to school morning devotional" as much as i do.
and, that's ok.
cause he's worth sharing with.
but... if you don't have a man in your home... just one night, enjoy watching whatever show you want to watch without someone else humphing in the background.
and, by the way, i think it's funny that a man can watch a show where someone kills 40 people, blood and guts everywhere, and not blink an eye.
but, if there happens to be a show where a girl kisses another girl... that is repulsive.
it's funny what we tolerate and what we don't.
and i don't believe, no matter how perfect a companion you find... that you will ever find someone that you are not sacrificing for.

i have a friend. 
she has been divorced a few times.
we were talking about relationships and i said "you have got to learn to control your words, the way you communicate what you are feeling."
she said, "I want to find a man who loves me for me... who i can be completely real with 100% of the time."
and i thought, that sounds great... but, i don't even love me 100% of the time.
yes, you do want to feel loved... but love is not about complete acceptance. 
LOVE is about sacrifice and service and restraint.
And... if you are looking for the one person who you don't have to change for... i'd suggest that person wouldn't even be good for you if you found them. 

being with people causes us to restrain, to grow, to reach outside of ourselves.
My relationship with Todd helps me to wake up earlier, to cook more, to be on time, to follow through with commitments (like soccer practices that i would have my kids skip most days), to be more constant, to set boundaries.
Todd, having me in his life, has more empathy, patience, flexibility, creativity, service, he is a better father, he is more tolerant of others, he has cereal for dinner every now and then and knows he will not DIE of malnutrition. 
we both make sacrifices and that is what marriage is all about.
just sayin'.

September 27, 2010

monday morning.

on Saturday Night, i was reminded of this scripture...
Counsel with the Lord in all thy doing, and he will direct thee for good;  yeah, when thou liest down at night lie down unto the Lord, that he may watch over you in your sleep; and when thou risest in the morning let thy heart be full of thanks unto God; and if ye do these things, ye shall be lifted up at the last day.  Alma 37:37

so, monday morning, i woke up and laid there.
letting my heart be full of thanks unto God.
i thought of my blessings...
my darling husband, who is in Oklahoma, interviewing for a job.
my sweet children...

anna, who was sobbing on Saturday while she listened to the song "Puff the Magic Dragon."
(remember, Jackie Paper comes no more so Puff the Magic Dragon lays down his mighty head...)
leah, hugging anna tightly, with sympathy tears of her own.

ellie, crying on the trampoline, sure she broke her head and her leg, she'll never walk again.
leah, who is crying that ellie is "going to be dead."
when ellie eventually rises, leah comes in with pure excitement...
"Mom, remember when Jesus helped the little girl to rise up?  It was a "magical" just like Ellie."
And over and over, "Ellie, you just had a magical from Jesus."  (magical = miracle)

ellie, who sits right on me while we watch Extreme Home Makeover.  who has tears in her eyes at bedtime cause she "misses daddy."  who has to scoop poop out of the bathtub because she wanted to "give lily a bath" last night.  ellie who asks, "mom, sometimes don't you just WANT to wear immodest clothes.  i know you won't, but don't you just want to sometimes?"  sweet ellie.

lily, who said over and over "i love MOMMY!" while i was changing her diaper last night.
and how she had a piece of bread and kept coming into the family room with it.
i would remind her, "Lily, we eat food in the kitchen."
she would smile and say, "OHH!" and run back to the kitchen... just like it was the first time i had ever told her that rule...  20 times.

my sweet big boys... how drew is so funny teasey... singing quietly, "Ellie has pink panties on with white on top..." over and over until she screams.  How when i tell him to stop, he comes over and hugs me while he sweetly apologizes and it always works.  i love that little stink.  and, i remember how on Saturday morning, when jakob was complaining about vacuuming the house, drew just got out the vacuum and did jakob's job for him.  just because.

and how jakob "made dinner" on Sunday night... toasted rye bread tuna sandwiches and edamame.  how at church he begs to hold lily and how lily cries "i want mommy" when i try to pass her over.  then, every few seconds, he whispers to lily, "you want jake lily, you want jake,"  with his cute smile at me, knowing it's not going to happen, because lily is as big of a stink as he is.  and, we both love her for it.

i think of my growing bump, sure i can feel the swirls of movement.  so grateful for the many "magicals" i have been given.

i have much to be grateful for.

and i pray, before i get out of bed, that i can do just one thing for each of my blessings.
i pray for wisdom and patience and energy to serve.
and i remember days i have spent so focused on me that i have missed the bounty that surrounds me.
i remember wise counsel, "Forget yourself and go to work."
and i recommit.
to love more, to serve more, to teach more, to order, to clean, to protect.
i pray that He will use me.
i pray that He will consecrate my efforts.
and, i run to wake up the gang, to gather for scriptures, to join in family prayer via speaker phone, to pour cereal and juice and cut apple slices, to find shoes and socks and hair bands, to encourage teeth brushing and send them out the the door with a kiss and a healthy snack.
i smile at my neighbor running out to turn on his car in his boxers, blue socks and flip flops...
and, monday is great.
and, i LOVE my job.
and, i'm going to miss this someday.
life is good.
today, i am filled with joy.

(which is good, because i definitely have a monday morning house... and it ain't pretty.)

September 23, 2010

what a girl wants...

i've always considered myself a country girl.
i've always wanted horses and an old farmhouse.
my dream would be to have my husband out farming and me at home making bread and drying our clothes on the clothesline.
it's not my fault, i grew up with a horse infatuation... in virginia.
have you seen virginia horse farms?

yeah.  that's what i grew up dreaming of.

only, i'm realizing that i did not marry a horse farmer...
(or cowboy, but please don't tell the professor it would break his heart)
and, i'm really not a cowgirl

at this transition time of life, i'm not sure what to do.
do i give up my dreams?
or do i fight to get them?
and really... what do i want?  and why do i want it?

i like to mentally decorate, and to dream of my "future" house.
i think, we will graduate this year.
rent for a year wherever we move...
and buy a house.
i don't think we'll be in that house, maybe 3 years, then we'll move again.
and stay.
that's my life according to jen.
(was it just me, or did you also hear a little smile from the heavens?)

i think someday we will have money.
and someday i will have a house of my dreams.
only... when that day comes... i need to know what i want.
what is the house of my dreams?

i'm prejudice against big houses and fancy neighborhoods.
i hate them.
but, i have a lot of kids, and i want land.

right now, i think i want a white farmhouse.
like this

with a kitchen like this
a ktichen window like this

dining room like this

and bedrooms like this

and... a backyard like this

but, i don't think i'll ever get it.
i think i'm a city girl.
married to a professor.
with city kids and someday, a tiny indoor dog.
just sayin'

September 22, 2010

more anita.

i love this woman.
so funny.

and one more...
(i found these on made for love and glue... but i've posted her before... she's the mom's weird al.)
this is to beyonce's "put a ring on it."  so funny.

September 21, 2010


i bought this book for 25 cents at goodwill.
(you can buy it for 25 cents on amazon...)  
i love regency romances...
where there is a rich duke, a strong-willed heroine,
and they kiss on the last page.

easy reading, fun banter, happy endings.
i can handle that, even pregnant.
or so i thought.

during naptime this afternoon, i started reading...
and i found myself SOBBING.
like 4 times.
for real.
wiping tears from my face.
both from the desperate plight of this regency heroine,
and from the complete joy as her and the man she loved shared their first real kiss together.

oh my... 
hormones are flying around these parts.

a few things.

So, I wasn't going to blog today, because i didn't think i had any great thing to write.
i went grocery shopping yesterday.
i went to the thrift store while my groceries melted in the car.
i'm still spotting... (ugh.)
but my doctor says the baby is fine- only 2-3% miscarriage rate after you see a healthy heartbeat... 

i bought a norman rockwell book, for $1.  my favorite picture is the mother spanking her child (above).
i love it.  (the mom's reading a child psychology book)

and, i bought this cute little pedestal...

and, lily's cute zebra shirt...

and, i have this sign, that i love, and i really want a black dinner bell to hang by it...

and, i LOVE leah's family pictures... they're cute huh?!
and, i bought pumpkins... so, i'm starting my Halloween decor...

and.  that's all i got.

September 20, 2010

friends and bows.

anna with her friend adelaide-- aren't they cute together?!
we had a fun, friend-filled weekend.
friends and hair bows on Friday.
practices, birthday parties, baptisms, ice cream socials and football games on Saturday.
and, company all day Sunday.

my house is clean- thanks to my ever diligent husband (i went to bed early last night).
and, i feel full.
life is full with friends.
this is our sweet friend Abby, from China, trying to convince my kids to try a little taste of her rice cake...  she came to church with us and then ate jello with mandarin oranges for the first time in her life.  :)  just doing my American duty. 

i'm always glad when i step out of my comfort zone to include others.
so, remind me of this as i begin my winter/pregnant hibernation.
people are good.
think... lots of bow times 4 girls...  (my favorite is the white crinkle one on the left... you can't see it too well in this picture.)
and, these headbands made me smile... i had saved a lemon bag from the store that we cut up. 

bad picture, but you can see the white clip better... it has tulle under it... it's cute.
 So, have a good Monday.
i think i'm going grocery shopping.
and, maybe to a few thrift stores... i'm feeling thrifty this morning.

i'm just not ready to decorate for halloween.
i'm kinda likin' my plain- un-decorated home.
does this make me a stick in the mud mother?
maybe next week...

September 17, 2010

eight. {8}

yes, i have seen my fair share of ultra sounds.
but, OH MY!
moving, breathing, kicking, twisting... baby.
it's real.
it's ours.
it's a miracle.
and... yes, it's one.

i thought i was due around march 1st.
turns out i'm measuring more april 1st. (well, March 22nd)
{i guess my quick to swell tummy is more a sign of seventh pregnancy than bigger baby.}

seeing this baby,
hearing a strong, pounding, alive, heartbeat,
brought with it a swirl of emotions.
i think i've been holding out on the baby squeal because i lost my last two pregnancies...
but trust me, i'm baby squealing now.
oh my!  i have a real, live baby inside me!!

i was talking to one of my wisest friends this morning {sister shumway}
and she said, casually, "When your family is complete you really will know it."
And, looking at this little miracle inside me, with my husband holding my hand, i knew...
i'm not done.

i've tried so hard to bargain with God... this is it. 
if you want me to have another baby, send it now.
and He answered.
one now.
and one more.
as we were seeing our miracle,
i looked at Todd and said, "Honey, this isn't our last baby, is it?"
he said, "i think we'll have one more."
i said, "8?"
he said, with a smile, "at least."
i said, "shutup."
he said, seriously, "eight just feels right.  eight feels great!"
and, i agree.

so, not that we are wishing away this sweet number 7, but i think God gave me a mini-tender mercy.
i had planned on spending my whole pregnancy just cherishing "my very last..."
and. i will still cherish these moments...
even though i know.
i have 8.

heaven help me.

five (or six) for friday.

nothing cuter than a diaper changing husband...
1. for the past 11 years (since my oldest was born) i have used huggies diapers.  my babies have sensitive bums, and they are allergic to pampers...  lily was leaking out of her huggies EVERY night.  we ran at of money at the beginning of the school year, so we bought a small pack of TARGET brand diapers.  NO LEAKING.  ever.
i love them.  and now, i switched.  from huggies to target.  just thought you'd like to know.

2. i have an ultrasound today... i'm kinda nervous, because i REALLY want twins and i only have one morning left to hope.  i know, i'm so silly.

3.  i decided NOT to worry so much about what my kids looked like... to try and NOT spend money on new clothes.  they're kids and it's ok that they look hand-me-down-ish sometimes.  right?  so, last week i brought my girls to a friend's house.  when i went to pick them up, my friends was laughing at how "daddy got them dressed."  i laughed too, and said that he HAD dressed them that morning.  i lied.  and, that afternoon, i went to the store.  i bought a few new shirts and a couple carters leggings at Burlington.  not too expensive.  and, i realized, i DO care what my kids look like.  i'm just not that mom who can pull off the orphan look.

4.  i really want to paint a wall in my girls room like this.  (their walls are already purple, everyday i hold myself back from making a template, tracing with a pencil, and using a bottle of craft paint to trellis.)  we are moving in the spring... what do you think?  should i just go for it?  or should i put it in my folder of "next house" ideas?

5.  today, after school, we are having a friend day.  The professor is taking the boys + friends to the park, and i am making hair things with the girls + friends.  Here is my inspiration sheet... 
(I'm sure they won't be that lovely, but it will be fun!)

6.  i just bought a new duvet cover from target... i saw it online for $89, and my angel shoppers inspired me to call our local stores... it was on clearance for $34.99.  i had to explain to my husband that this was indeed a case of divine intervention, we were meant to have this cover... i just know it.  :)

September 15, 2010

teaching obedience (with examples).

i promised to give real life examples of teaching obedience, and so i will do my best.

1.  Believe in your child.  I hate labels.  Hate them.  I hate when a teacher labels a child, and most especially when a parent labels a child.  He's hard.  He's a picky eater.  Oh, that's just Drew.
Children are all different, but I KNOW they can all learn the life skills they need to thrive.  BELIEVE in them.  Believe they can eat food they don't want to eat.  Believe they can crawl.  Believe they can say please.  Believe they can behave as well as their sibling.  Believe they can potty train.  Believe they can enjoy reading.  Believe they can get 100% on their spelling test.  Believe they can sit quietly through church.  They can dress themselves AND rinse the shampoo out of their hair.   

example.  My oldest child, Jakob, never "crawled".  He did an army crawl where he just pulled with his arms until he walked.  My youngest child, Lily, also army-crawled.  I thought it was cute.  She was older than one and had made no attempt to walk or pull herself up.  (I knew it was different, but I wasn't worried.)  My pediatrician recommended that we see a physical therapist.  At our first visit I said my goal was- teaching lily to walk.  The physical therapist said our goal was teaching Lily to crawl- up on her hands and knees.  I laughed.  This sweet, young therapist spent an hour crawling besides Lily, putting her hand under Lily's belly and pushing it up, forcing her to be on all fours.  Lily SCREAMED.  Like she was dying.  The next week, the therapist came again.  Lily started SCREAMING when she walked in the door.  Again, an hour of coaxing and crawling right beside her pushing her belly up to show her how to crawl.  NOTHING but SCREAMS.  The third week, Sadie, our sweet therapist, walked into my home.  Lily looked at her, smiled, and began crawling up on her hands and knees.  I was SHOCKED.  I didn't think Lily could or would... and she proved me wrong.  Her therapist believed in her, and she was right.  

I have been in MANY therapy situations... with Lily, and with my oldest daughter, Anna, when she completely burned the palms of her hands.  I have watched therapists work with other children who need to do hard things.  They cry, sometimes SCREAM... it is heart wrenching.  But.. the therapists continue to soothe with their words, love with their whole souls, and require the child to do the thing that is hurting them.  BECAUSE, in the long run, that is what's best for the child.

example.  Leah is my "pickiest eater."  (See that label?)  Since she was born I have known something was wrong with her.  She hated textures.  I could not get her to eat rice cereal, baby food, frozen peas... nothing.  She coughed and gagged and choked and it scared me.  I remember telling my mom, something is wrong she just can't eat.  My mom insisted she was fine... I just needed to take time with her.  To teach her.  Over one vacation, my mother spent hours feeding leah.  She always reminded me not to show Leah my FEAR.  She remained calm when leah coughed, smiled and continued to help her eat.  Doing the airplane, praising, singing... not giving up when she spit out her food.  My mom, taught her how to eat.
Leah still takes more food time than any other child.  I have to sit her right by me. I have to explain every color on her plate.  I have to bribe her with dessert.  I have to count and coax most bites into her... one for her foot, one for her other foot... four bites because she is four.  I constantly remind her "You LOVE this."  Sometimes we start with, "just lick it."  Then, "just one bite."  Then, "wow, you're so brave, can you show dad how you eat one more bite?"  And, she does eat.  She will eat anything I ask her to eat.  Yes, it takes effort.  If I don't spend time with her, she will pick at her plate the whole meal and not eat one thing. 

2.  Use daily tasks.  Teaching doesn't have to be something you do at "teaching time."  Teaching naturally happens while you're living life.  Four of the best activities you can use to TEACH are 1. Eating.  2. Potty time.  3. Bed time.  4. Getting Dressed.  Sometimes, we practice spelling words while we eat dinner, or have scripture time while we eat breakfast.  We sing our ABCs when we get dressed.  We practice naming and pointing body parts while we're changing diapers... it's a perfect distraction.

example.  Lily is stubborn.  (See that label?)  Around 14 months, she would not talk, and she would only scream when she wanted something.  With her speech therapist we made the goal that she would say "Please" or "more" when she wanted something.  Our goal was to get her to do something we wanted her to do... again, I smiled.  We sat Lily in her high-chair and scooped a bowl of ice cream.  Lily screamed.  She wanted the ice cream.  I smiled and said, "Say please." (while i rubbed my chest showing her the sign language for please.)  Lily screamed again.  Another HOUR battle... if we took Lily's hand and forced her to sign the word please so we could stick ice cream in her mouth, she would push her hand away showing she could not be broken...  It took one hour.  I did NOT give her the ice cream.  Later that day, I sat her in her chair and offered her a drink.  She smiled, and said "PLEASE!" while signing it happily.  Did I torture her?  Yup.  Was it worth it?  Yup.

3. PRAISE.  Even if your child acts like they don't care what you think.  It is a facade.  Every child wants their mother to be happy with them.  The most sensitive children are the kids that act like they don't care.  NOTHING works better than praise... smiling, tickeling, touching.   Pick a skill... reward the good behavior, remove the reward for the negative behavior.  Praise works the BEST.  Praise, touch, joy... these work better for rewarding good behavior than a check on the chart, a piece of candy, or even a toy.  Sometimes I get into a life rut and I have to force my face to show my child JOY.  It is a very conscious decision.  Anger comes easily to my face, JOY I sometimes have to focus on.  When they do good things, they should feel and see true joy in my face, in my eyes, in my countenance.  And this is the BEST motivator.

example- When Drew was little I wanted to teach him his colors.  I came up with a great idea, skittles and M&M's.  I had a big bowl of candy I would tell him... this is red and have him pick a red one, or say "red" then he could eat it.  Good idea, huh?!  Nope.  Drew looked at that bowl of candy, and wanted to eat it.  All of it.  I would say "RED."  and he would scream "CANDY!!"  or "NO! This is GEEEEN."  Yes, this was a teaching moment, but not for drew.  I learned that sometimes physical reinforcers are a distraction, not a reward.  If you are trying to teach potty training, and every day it is just a fight because your child wants to play with the dumb toy that is hanging in a cute basket above his head for an incentive, then you are not teaching potty training at all... you are teaching child torture (or delayed gratification... which is a good skill, but it's NOT potty training).  If your child goes potty and you give him ONE skittle and he screams because he wants more and you say NO because it's not good for him, your focus has changed... you are teaching him HEALTH, not praising him for getting his pee in the toilet instead of in his undies.  See?  Praise works best without distraction... you can give a whole handful without feeling guilty about sugar intake.  And, praise can be specific.  "I'm so happy you kept your undies dry.  You did a GREAT job getting those poopies in the potty."  This is why my FAVORITE reward for potty training kids, is the POTTY DANCE.  You just dance and make up words to a silly song.  It works.  

example- when i was in high school i worked as a behavioral therapist for an autistic boy.  We did Lovaas behavioral therapy.  (No, not something I would recommend, but it taught me good principles.)  One of the things we did, was focus on getting him to do something we would tell him to do.  For HOURS, I would sit... him in a chair with his knees touching mine.  We would have a table to the left with silverware in it and a pile of silverware to put away.  (He was learning to match the silverware and to obey.)  I would say, "do this" then show him what to do.  I would wait.  If he did nothing, i would say, without feeling. "No... Do this."  I'd show him again.  The third time, I would take his hands and help him to do what I was asking him to do, then I would smile and praise him.  I usually took his hands and had him rub on my cheeks (he loved physical touch) and continually tell him what a great job he'd done.  Then I'd start again, "Do this."  If he attempted to do what I was asking, I'd erupt again in praise and touch.  If he didn't, I'd say "No."
Children respond to praise and training.  Pick one skill and try it out.  (This principle works even with older children... take 5 minutes and show them how to clean a toilet.  When they do it say, No, do this and show them again... or praise them.  It works.)

example- One more Lily example... Lily started spitting everything out of her mouth.  Everything.  It ws funny, lots of kids would laugh.  It was a mess, but she was just a baby.  She did not have the gagging reflex leah had, she is just strong-willed.  It was getting to be a repeated pattern, every meal.  I tired gently discouraging her, but she got more and more stubborn and spit with more and more defiance.  What did I do?  I recognized this was a behavior that needed to be stopped, and I  prepared myself for battle.  The next meal, when she spit out her food and laughed, I looked her in the eyes, said NO, and pushed the food back into her mouth.  She freaked.  You would have thought I was killing the child.  She became a spitting, kicking machine.  Every single thing she would throw or kick or spit.  She didn't eat, she cried.  My kids thought I was horrible.  I would give them the eye warning them not to say anything.  It took 2 days of this spitting battle.  If she kept the food in her mouth, I smiled and praised and told her what a good girl she was, if she spit it out, I said NO.  And, I pushed it back into her mouth.  Mean?  Yup.  Worth it?  Yup.  Once, I gave her a bite, smiled and praised her for keeping it in her mouth.  She smiled at me with a confused look, and pointed to her tray where she had spit the bite out.  I laughed at her confession while she picked the bite up and put it back in her mouth.  Two days, and she decided to eat nicely and happily.  She would often take a bite and then point to her mouth and clap her hands.  The whole table would erupt in praise for a swallowed bite.  After our initial battle, Lily would test every now and then.  Looking right at me, she'd spit her food out.  I ALWAYS put it back into her mouth and say "NO."  Today, she is an EXCELLENT, HAPPY eater.  People look at my kids and say, "You're so lucky all your kids are such good eaters."  Sometimes I wonder if my kids really are just easier, but most of the time I want to tell them...  LUCK comes from EFFORT...  I spent many HOURS earning these good eaters.  NOTE- this has NOTHING to do with food.  i was NOT teaching Lily to eat.  I was teaching her to obey.  And, she is HAPPY when she obeys.

4. Think of the LESSON not the TASK.  Look for life skills that your children have not yet aquired, and then focus on a task or a behavior that can help them learn that life skill.  Alternately, when they are doing something that drives you crazy, narrow in on the BEHAVIOR, and then figure out the PRINCIPLE behind it. It's not just that I'm bothered because my child talks disrespectfully to ME, I want her to LEARN to Humbly Recieve Instruction.  It is MUCH more effective to have a discussion about Humbly Recieving Instruction, than it is to yell back and forth... "Do NOT talk to me that way, I am your MOTHER."  When you have narrowed down your principles, you will not doubt yourself in the heat of the battle  you will know, it isn't about a back pack. It is really about being responsible.  This is a life skill that my child CAN and SHOULD learn.  Yes, it would be easier for you to just pick up his back pack every day, but it wouldn't be BETTER for them.

Our kids do not have to work hard, farm, help support our family... there are so many skills that kids used to learn just because they had to or they would die.  We have to choose specific tasks to teach them specific skills.  When a child pitches a royal battle because it is just too hard for them to make their own bed, do you just make it for them?  Please say no.  It is good for kids to learn life skills... even when they don't want to.

Children will initially resist most opportunities for growth.  If you stick with it for a short time, they will comply and be so much happier because they know they are doing what is expected of them. When a dog gets hit by a car, he needs help.  But, when you go try to help him, he will snarl and bite at you.  An un-tamed horse will buck and kick, but ultimately the horse will be happier once it learns that you are not trying to hurt it, you are trying to work with it.  Kids are the same way... they will initially buck at any new skill... if you are encouraging and happy and teach them, they will LOVE what they can do.  Sometimes you are hurting when you think you are helping, and you have to be tough when you want to help. 

example- For my older kids, it's Piano.  I felt a very distinct impression that my children needed music in their lives.  They are very smart.  I choose piano to teach them certain life skills that I think are invaluable.  Discipline, practice, endurance, as well as the lifelong skill of being able to read music.  Piano is a great foundation for any other instrument.  But, to me it is NOT about the piano... it is about SELF DISCIPLINE... about working hard... about doing something you might not want to do now, because it will be good for you later.  Before we started the piano, i pulled out yearbooks.  I showed the kids the pages of Seniors... where it showed everything they did through their years of school.  We recognized that some kids did nothing, and other kids did TONS of stuff.  It seemed that the kids in band, also ran track or played on the football team, and were on the Honor Roll.  I taught my children why as their mother, i felt piano would always be a blessing in their life.  That it would bless their life more than SOCCER or even SCIENCE (hah- the professor might not agree with that one).  How it would be hard and they might not always want to do it, but that I would expect them to play the piano until they were in high school and could choose a different instrument.  The kids each wrote out their own 10 year plan... things they wanted written about them when they finished high school  Each of them included music.  Mostly they wrote Piano till I can play guitar or drums or flute... but, they did understand WHY i felt piano was so important.  I reminded them that when they were parents they could choose whether or not their kids played the piano, whether they did sports, whether they had to study their spelling words.  When we're the parents... we get to choose what we think is best (yes, they do get input, but as parents, we have the eternal perspective that they are still learning, we drive the boat).
Now, I'm not saying Piano is right for every family, or every child.  I'm not saying that sometime down the road I might change my mind on this ultimatum.  But, I will tell you this.  I have 4 children who have taken piano for 5 years now.  They are really good.  They practice on their own without complaining MOST of the time.  I don't sit with them, I don't nag them, I don't argue with them.  To me, it is NOT about piano.  I am choosing to use PIANO because I do not have cows for them to milk.  I don't ever doubt my decision... and they don't ever doubt my commitment.  The SKILLS I am teaching are obedience, self-discipline and endurance... the TASK I am using to teach it... PIANO.  

example- Kids are sassy.  You can do a lot of things to stop it... and I have.  Hot sauce, soap, cayanne pepper... all of these things kinda work and kinda don't.  One thing I don't like about things is that you often end up fighting as you try to force their mouth open, they aren't learning not to sass, they are learning that you are physically stronger than they are.  And, maybe that is a good lesson?...  First, what is the principle.  Think before you speak.  Be humble.  Be quick to obey.  Love one another.  Receive instruction with a humble heart.  I don't know what you are trying to teach... with my little kids, I simply tell them what I want them to say.
I say, "Let's make your bed."
They say, "NO!"
I repeat, "OK mother!  I will obey."
They copy, "OK mother!  I will obey."
This works.  Even with older kids.
 I also like "change your tone."  (I learned this from a good friend...)  Talk to your children about how it's not what they are saying, but how they are saying it.  I give them lots of examples of statements that mean different things depending on how it is said (sorry, please, cool, etc.).  Remind them to "Try again and check your tone of voice."
Often I will notice one child becoming more sassy, in the morning or at bed time or with their siblings, and I'll think of how I want to teach them their specific thing.  You see, I'm right with them.  It is hard for me to "change my tone" or to always respond humbly to instruction...
Drew is currently struggling with this, he's 10.  I noticed that he was teasing his sisters and laughing as they became more and more frustrated.  I also noticed that whenever I corrected his behavior he would argue for ten minutes insisting he NEVER does anything wrong.  And, he really is a pretty great kid.  But, when he was at school one day, I pondered, and came up with two principles... 1. We need to be peacemakers... add to the peace and harmony of others.  2. We need to be humble and recieve instruction.  When he got home from school that day, BEFORE he said one sassy word or teased one person, I sat down with him and told him what I had been thinking.  I told him why these skills were important to learn.  Also that he wasn't BAD, most 10 year old boys tease little girls and not many people love to hear things they can do better.  I told him scriptures and also, that if I didn't help him to learn these principles now, it would just get worse.  I actually said, "If you continue to yell at me when I try to teach you, and I let you do this, when you're a teenager, you will punch me in the face... that is what sassy teenagers do.  We must learn this skill now so that it doesn't get worse."  I asked him how i could help him learn these skills.  We drew a chart  1. Conflict with siblings  Peacemaker/Troublemaker.  2. Conflict with parents  Humble and Teachable/Prideful and Contentious.
He puts a little dash under peacemaker or troublemaker whenever he is in a conflict situation.  And, he decided if he gets 20 good dashes, I will buy him some new stretchy bracelets.  Deal!  Now, he catches himself, looks at me and goes to mark his chart.  It is a life skill, not a fight between me and him.

And... now i must start my day.
I know this was too long and maybe not helpful.

I remember being at a conference once where a woman told a story about something she did with her child that I felt was VERY extreme.  (Her child actually had to miss prom because he snuck out and went to General Conference with his friends.)  I asked her later if she ever regretted that decision.  She said, "If you are doing your best to parent and listening to the promptings you recieve, you will not regret the decisions you make."
I agree with her.
As I wrote out my examples, some seemed more extreme than others.
Don't do what I do... But, do THINK about HOW to teach YOUR child what you feel THEY need to learn.
and TEACH them.

there are many ways to teach the same principle.
i tried to use extreme examples.
don't get frustrated... this is a journey, not a destination... none of us know everything we need to know.
We are not finished yet, and neither are our kids.

IMPORTANT NOTE--  I DO NOT believe that EVERY fight is worth fighting.  I do NOT believe that parents should enforce 100% perfect behavior all the time.  I don't.  Kids, if left completely to their own devices will turn out OK.   They really will.  You can spend a day reading and let them destroy the house and they will not have any lasting consequences.  None.  Sometimes, I am NOT consistent... sometimes, I HATE consistency.   Most of the time children can be easily distracted and happily re-directed.  Most of the time you can say YES instead of NO.  Most of the time you can calm without conflict.  BUT... sometimes you need to TEACH and sometimes you need to fight the battle.  You know when there is something you need to teach.  And then, TEACH IT.  You can be a carefree, happy, laid back mother and a strict mother at the same time.  You have to PICK your battles and PLAN your strategy.  My FAVORITE primary leaders are not the ones who let the kids go crazy.  They are the fun, happy, STRICT leaders who expect obedience and still love the kids.  You can do both.  I promise.  But if you are not fun, or are not strict, you will loose out.  And, so will your children.  (See my previous post...)  Patient, loving mothers with bratty kids aren't doing it any better than beastly mothers with kids who can't wait to rebel the second they are old enough.  We must balance.  And, the way I think you find balance is...  PLAN what and how you are going to TEACH then just enjoy the other things.

Decide what you are going to teach, and BE CONSISTENT.  Just for a little while, till it gets easier.  I have found you can change ANY behavior in a week... potty training, bed time, eating, sassing, ANYTHING... if you narrow in and focus on ONE THING.  If you teach them, Kids will learn.  And, sometimes, you may need a break.  Change the scene for a little while.  Put on a movie, go to the park, and try again later...   TEACHING is something I do, but I am a very laid back parent.  I'm not uptight... but I do keep a mental list of what i want each kid to learn and try to plan when i'm going to teach them. (The only exception I have seen to this is NIGHT TIME bed wetting... i believe  most potty trained kids will not have accidents at night, but some do... I think bed wetting is genetic and they will grow out of it... it is not something that is taught.  In MY opinion.)  

Like the example about sassy drew... he was sassy MANY days before I came up with how I was going to teach him.  I just respond casually, "Drew, be kind."  But, when I had my idea, I felt inspiration... WHAMMO- we're going for the kill.  Does this make sense?    Don't stress for a year about potty training.  Think about it, plan for it, and when you are ready GO FOR IT.  Give it a week.  Kids can potty train in a week.  If it's a nightmare, If you are fighting battles not related to the toilet, rethink your strategy.  Put it on the shelf.  Take a deep breath.  Your child will not be 21 and wearing diapers.  Life is good.  All we can do is NEVER STOP STARTING.  Teaching is important.  It is a skill that you are learning as well as your child.  It requires mental preparation and effort.  Most of the time your efforts will be rewarded.  Sometimes they won't.  And, that's life.
the end.
of another book.

September 14, 2010

teaching obedience.

WARNING-- read at your own risk.  This post may offend.

while this post is going through my mind, i keep singing the song, "You're so vain, you probably think this POST is about you... don't you?"  I think I heard it on a movie... Cameron Dias?

So, the past week, I have had a VERY SIMILAR conversation with about 7 different mothers.
7 mothers with children ranging in ages from babies to teens... and they all have the same problem.
Through their tears they tell me of their struggle for more charity, more patience, more wisdom, in dealing with their little beasts.
The interesting thing, these woman are the most loving, patient women i know.
Excessively patient.  Admirably patient.
and sometimes, i want to shout at them... you do NOT need more patience.
and then whisper, ever so humbly, you need to teach your children not to be such BRATS.

(oh.  i can't believe i just wrote that.)
My kids are brats too, sometimes.
The thing is, they need to be taught, not just loved and cuddled.
From toddlers to teens... we can spend all our time praying for patience, OR we can attack the bad behavior head on and CHANGE things.
Yes, you will still need patience, but sometimes I want to shout at mothers... Honestly, do you think their kindergarten teacher is going to spend an hour tickling your child's back so that she will stay in time out?  No.
Will your child's middle school teacher allow them to mouth off the way they mouth off to you?  No.
No ONE can stand a toddler that whines and cries about everything.  Not even Mother Theresa.
Love, yes.
But teaching a child that they can behave their worst and still have a loving, sweet, smiling face to look into... that is teaching a child a FALSE sense of reality.
Children who are not taught to obey will not function in society.
Children who are not taught to do things they don't WANT to do, eat things they don't WANT to eat, or behave in socially acceptable ways will have issues as they get older and are required to function.
Even if you home school.  If you are constantly having to use "PATIENCE" when dealing with your child, then ask yourself how they are going to function with other people in society who don't love them like you do?
The answer-- they won't.
And, this is why overly patient mothers often have children that won't interact with other adults.
If you don't teach them to obey, they will not feel comfortable with someone else who expects them to obey.
Someone else who tells them to stop, to say sorry, or to share.  If you haven't taught that behavior, they will not be able to function in appropriate social settings when you are not there.  Kids will think those adults are mean or harsh or scary.  And, a child who isn't taught to obey will have negative interactions with so many people.  You may feel a maternal urge to protect and defend them from these negative interactions... I would suggest, instead of protecting them, TEACH them to obey at home and they will find MANY positive interactions with the world.

Obedience is something that we teach every day, starting when a child is very young.
I don't believe that any mother is not TRYING to teach.
But, sometimes we don't know how!!
It is easy for people to say-- parents, teach your children to be reverent.  But, most parents have already done everything they can think of and they are out of ideas.

I had a teacher say once, "Spanking is for un-creative parents."  So true.
I believe the NUMBER ONE problem with kids today is that parents don't know how to TEACH.

Sometimes we have a more difficult child.  I will say, however, difficult children are not BAD kids, they are kids who "learn differently".  Parents of a hard child just need to learn new ways to TEACH their particular children.
Sometimes, our more difficult children just show us what we need to focus on... but obedience is a general principle.  Never have I seen a completely well-behaved family with one out of control child.  Usually a family has a general sense of obedience or disobedience and one child might carry things to a slightly higher extreme.
That child is quickly labeled the "hard kid".

But really, as mothers, we know when we are drowning... and, usually you can see it in many places.
at church, at the store, when you're on the phone, at meal time, at bedtime, getting ready for school, interacting with siblings or friends, reverence during prayer, compliance doing chores, homework, piano practice, how a child responds when you ask them to do something they don't want to do...  Can you bring your child to visit a home where they just need to sit quietly by your side?  Do they function in social situations?  Can they behave at a fancy restaurant? 

No, you should not be constantly placing your children in situations where they must perform perfectly.  But, children CAN and SHOULD obey sometimes.  They can sit through story-time at the library.  They can sit reverently while the sacrament is being passed.  They can fold their arms, bow their head, and close their eyes during a prayer.  You are not a NAZI mother if you expect obedience.  You are doing it for their own good.  They can sit quietly, they can listen to something that doesn't interest them, they can be respectful of authority and obedient.  If your children only obey when they are at the park, watching a movie, or having free-time then they haven't learned to OBEY.

**Yes, children as a whole will behave worse for their parents then any other person.  So, expect that.  My wise neighbor Maria used to tell me, there are 2 types of families.  1.  Good parents whose kids are perfect at school and beasts at home (kids need a place to relax).  2.  Strict families whose kids are perfect at home and awful at school.  I choose option one.  My kids have NEVER gotten in trouble at school.  They all have straight A's and (except for a few kindergarten calls when Ellie didn't wear underwear, i haven't had to deal with behavior issues at school.)  But, at home, they can be beastly.  And this is why I know that kids can be taught and must be taught.

**Kids are different.  I firmly believe that God sends active, latter-day, more difficult children to Saintly mothers.  I'm not God, and I would send my greatest, strongest spirits to these woman that I see struggling with them.  God sends you strong spirits because He knows you can handle them.  God sends active, strong willed little kiddos into families where they will end up being the Davids and Pauls and George Washingtons and Captain Moronis.  Even though God sent them to you to LOVE, he also sent them to you to TEACH.

So, HOW?  How can we teach our kids obedience??
This is what i think about in my free time.  This is how my brain works, constantly.  I notice a problem and come up with different ways to attack it.  I ALWAYS change my tactics... but there are a few principles that I have learned.

1.  Start young.  Any act where a child does what you ask is teaching obedience.  I love the little songs with motions.  You are not just "playing" with your child, you are teaching them to OBEY.  To copy your actions.
Expect that your child will copy you.  Sing the song and leave a blank so the child can fill in the key word.
Have you seen the Dog Whisperer?  Don't let your babies be the boss, even at play.  God gave you time each day to be eye to eye with your child, changing their diaper, feeding them, dressing them... don't just go through the motions... TEACH THEM to obey.  It is fun.  It is joyful.  It is important for them to learn.  Tell them, touch your nose, when they touch it, tickle them, love them, praise them.  Get the child used to obeying simple commands in play.  "Sit down, stand up, touch your head, give mommy the shoe, let mommy turn the pages of the book."  The more you do this mommy-child dance, the more quickly they will obey in other situations.  They will look to you to see what they should do, you are teaching by your smile and by your frown.  Frowns are just as important.  Age 0 to 5 (i might say 8) are the most important years in teaching obedience.

2.  Be the Gatekeeper.  There are MANY times throughout the day when you have the opportunity to request obedience.  It is the transition times.  Yes, you can watch TV, when your bed is made.  Yes, you can eat breakfast, when you are dressed, shoes and socks, hair done, bed made.  Yes, you can have a drink, when you say please and sit down.  Yes, we can go to the store, when you are buckled.  Yes, I will read you a book, when you clean up your toys.  Yes, you can play on the computer, when your chores are done.  Yes, you can have a warm, gooey, homemade cookie, when your homework is done.  You can say YES with a smile, but do NOT give in until the child has attempted compliance.  You are the gatekeeper, that is powerful.

3.  Pick ONE thing.  Anything.  Sometimes we get overwhelmed and discouraged because we think our kids are ruined or bad, or we think we are failures as parents.  A wise friend told me, people are packages.  You have some great parenting skills packaged with some not so great parenting skills... we all do.  So, don't get overwhelmed (this is SATAN).  Think of it as a project, a FUN project... you are going to teach your child obedience and you are going to start with ONE thing.  Start with teaching PLEASE.  teaching prayer behavior.  teaching them to hold onto the cart in the store.  teaching them to say "Yes Ma'am".  teaching them to touch a part of their body when you ask them to.  teaching them to get dressed.  teaching them to let you change their diaper without having to pin them down.  teaching them to pick up their toys before they play with something else.  teaching them to take one bite of whatever you expect them to take a bite of.  teaching them to sit in time out happily and independently.  teaching them to put their clothes in the hamper when they take them off.  teaching them to practice the piano happily right when they come home from school.  teaching them to put their backpack in the basket when they walk in the door.  teaching them to talk NICELY to you while you help them with their homework.  Pick ONE thing and then ATTACK it.  ALL DAY LONG.  Tell your child what they need to do, tell your husband what you are trying to teach, tell your other children... "We are going to teach Lily to always say PLEASE."  Let them help with the PRAISE.  When you see someone at the store, let them help you praise, "See how nice Leah is holding on to the cart."  Many old ladies will oooo and ahhh with you.  Buy special tic tacs for your pocket (i love tic tacs).  "Oh, wow, you cleared your plate without being asked... here is a sweet treat for you."  (Not every time... but occassionally.  Remember Pavlov's dogs... when you reward sporadically, they still salivated everytime they heard a bell...)  It's a song, it's a game, it's a bed time story, it's a chart, it's what you talk about at the dinner table.
Pray for inspiration, don't doubt yourself... you are NOT teaching them to eat spinach, you are teaching them to OBEY.   Obedience is a great principle. 

This is another book chapter of a blog... I have so many kiddos that everyday I'm teaching obedience to every age level.  I ALWAYS have my ONE THING that I'm trying to teach each child... so, tomorrow I'll give you some more hands on examples.

I hope you do not think I'm judgmental or hypocritical in writing this blog.
Believe me... this POST is about ME.
My kids are NOT perfectly obedient.  No child is.
I am NOT a perfect mother.  No one is.
But, I am a TEACHER.  This is how my brain works, it is what i think about in my spare time.
I like the BEASTS the best.
And, God has given me my fair share of BEASTLY children.
I have learned how to put my children to bed because I had 4 children in 4 years and NO SLEEP for 4 years.
I learned how to teach them because I had to, or I would die.
I have learned how to teach reverence on Sundays because my children were OUT OF CONTROL.
I had to learn or I would have had to stop going to church.
My mother is a good mother, but I did not have an ideal childhood. 
I could not just do what my mother did.

I had to study, watch other families, read books, read articles and PRAY.
{I prayed for patience for MANY years.}And, I have gathered some ideas.
But, what I have learned more than anything else is...
God knows your child better than you do.
He knows how to teach them and He will teach you how to teach them, if you ask him.
Just, PLEASE ask the right question.

STOP praying for patience.
and START praying for wisdom to teach your kids... so you won't NEED so much patience.
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