Hello, Mornings?

Power Buzz
source: sea turtle via Flickr

I really like to pretend that waking up before my kids doesn’t make that much of a difference.

I have three kids 5 and under, I say! I am tired! I need every bit of sleep I can catch! And I do think it’s true that when the baby isn’t sleeping through the night, I needed to try to catch up on sleep in other places. But now he is, for the most part. {Although the last two nights my 3-year-old has been up twice and my 5-year old once … but that’s not the norm.}

Last night I set my alarm for 5:30 and went to bed about 9:45. I had a 5 a.m. wake-up call from Joshua, and just went ahead and got up at 5:15 after I nursed him. And now, at 7, I’ve had some quiet time with God, showered and washed my face, dressed, had something to eat and two cups of coffee, and am writing a blog post. I feel completely different than I do when I let my daughter wake me up at 7:00 and growl at her to go ask her dad for breakfast.

I still need to figure out where to fit in exercise. I probably need to eat a healthier and more complete breakfast than an apple and cheese. But it’s a giant start. Feeding my brain with positive messages from the Bible before I start anything else makes such a difference in my day.

There’s a whole, well, movement on Twitter about Hello Mornings, a challenge to get up before your kids and study the Word. It’s a great resource if you’re looking for a place to start.

Do you get up before your kids? Have any tips and tricks to share?

Jessie Weaver When Jessie Weaver is not busy being the resident ParentLife Blogger, she writes at Vanderbilt Wife and also for magazines like HomeLife and ParentLife. She lives in Chattanooga with her husband, where they run after three kids 5 & under.

Sick Kids and Self Doubt by Jessie Weaver

When Libbie was about a year old, I was living with her by myself in our condo in Nashville. My husband was in Chattanooga during the workweek, and I was waiting on our condo to sell. (Ha. That’s been a year and a half. Still own it.)

Libbie was playing around our kitchen island, and I picked her up. And knocked her forehead into the edge of the island.

Libbie wailed. I wailed. I felt like the Worst Mother of the Year award was right there for my taking. And I called my pediatrician’s office, who called my doctor, and then my doctor called me. Just so I could find out, really, it wasn’t that big of a deal. As long as she had a bump, it was OK.

Untitled

This weekend I’ve been attending to a baby with a mid-grade fever … not quite high enough to panic, not quite low enough to feel at ease with. I find myself in the same battle I always face: should I call the doctor? Is it a big deal? Sure, I’m supposed to trust my mother’s intuition … but I think it’s a little clouded by the worry a mother has for her sick babies.

The self-doubt is my least favorite part of parenting.

It makes me even more glad that my husband and I are not in it alone. Not only do we have friends, family, a church that loves us, Dr. Google, and Twitter, MD—we have a Heavenly Father who cares for us and our kids.

“In the fear of the LORD one has strong confidence and his children have a refuge.” Proverbs 14:26

For some reason, it’s struck me as beautiful lately how God and Jesus are Father and Husband—the two things Jesus was not literally on this earth. God, as Trinity, fulfills every role to us. He is beyond measure.

Because of this, I can muster up some confidence. And if I fall flat on my face as a parent, or go to the doctor when it’s just the sniffles … well, both God and the pediatrician will forgive.

originally published june 2011

When Jessie Weaver is not busy being the resident ParentLife Blogger, she writes at Vanderbilt Wife and also for magazines like HomeLife and ParentLife. She lives in Chattanooga with her husband, where they run after three kids under 5.

Special Needs Parents Need Friends by Ellen Stumbo

Did you know that many parents of kids with special needs feel lonely?

Because of their children’s needs, some special needs parents feel isolated. That birthday party everyone is invited to? Maybe the child has significant sensory processing issues and cannot handle the noise or large crowds. That Bible study at church that takes place during the children’s  program? The special needs mom needs to stay with her child because there isn’t a trained volunteer to help with her child’s needs. That playdate at the park where the moms chatter while the kids play?  Not gonna’ happen! Most likely the child needs help to climb on the special equipment, and there goes the adult interaction.

Parenting a child with special needs can be exhausting. Sometimes, it is easier to stay home. The thing is, special needs parents need friends. They need someone to talk to and someone to laugh with. God created us to be in relationships, we are not meant to do life alone.

What can you do to reach out to a special needs parent?

First, get to know her family and her child with special needs. Can you babysit for an hour or two so mom and dad can go out on a date? Maybe a late-night-date after the kids go to bed?

Initiate the relationship. You can ask, “I would love to get together with you, is there a time or day that works for you?”

Plan playdates around the abilities of the kids with special needs. Maybe a playdate at a park won’t work, but the special needs parent might have some suggestions for fun activities that work for her family.

Call. Just pick up the phone and call. It is amazing how something so simple makes such a big difference. Let your friend know that you are available to talk. And you don’t have to talk about special needs! Just chat about the weather, about the conversation you had with your brother, or about the embarrassing situation you had at the store. Just be a friend and reach out.

ellenstumboEllen Stumbo is a writer and speaker. She is the mother of three daughters: Ellie; Nichole, who has Down syndrome; and Nina, who was adopted and also has special needs. She is wife to Andy, a pastor.

Keeping Young Minds Active During the Summer

Summer is a time for relaxation and family fun, but most parents would agree that their children should be actively engaged in educational activities and experiences over the school break. To keep your child productive, consider the following ideas, broken down into each major subject area:

1. Heed the Need to Read: Countless studies show the importance of summer reading: Kids who read in the summer outperform their peers in the fall. Avoid the “summer slide” by making sure your kids read often during the summer.

●Most libraries have a summer reading program with incentives and prizes. Visiting the library once a week can be a fun family escape. Research shows that kids who choose their own books (with parent approval) read more.

●Create a time during the day when no TV or electronics are allowed.

● Read to your child and listen to your child read.

●Listen to books on CD  while traveling.

●Model reading.

2. Do the Math! Few would argue the importance of math. Skills that are not used are often forgotten, so practice is essential. Besides specialized math tutoring facilities, which are gaining popularity and producing increasingly impressive results, there are many ways to keep math skills sharp at home. Consider these fun activities that allow your child to practice math:

● Follow recipes

● Read maps, and calculate mileage on trips.

● Use flashcards to practice facts.

● Utilize online math practice sites for kids, such as the following:

-Funbrain.com

-AAA math.com

-Coolmath.com

3. Invite ‘em to Write! Good writing skills provide evidence of learning and understanding. Writing makes thoughts and ideas visible and gives children a clear way to express themselves. Encourage your children to write using these ideas:

● Keep a journal on trips and at home.

●Write letters and emails, requiring correct capitalization, punctuation and grammar.

●Let your child record her voice telling a story, then dictate that story onto paper.

●Encourage your child to write one short story a week. Keep them in a folder as a keepsake from the summer.

4. Smart Summer Science:  Science helps us to understand the world around us. Besides being educational, science can be lots of fun! The following activities reinforce important science concepts:

●Visit science museums, zoos, and aquariums.

●Dig for fossils.

●Gaze at stars, find constellations and track the moon’s phases.

●There are many fun experiments that can be done at home. Visit the following web sites for ideas:

-National Geographic Kids

-PBS Kids-Dragonfly TV

-Funology

 

5. Make History with Social Studies Activities-Summer provides an escape from  that sometimes-boring history class. Use the summer months to strengthen your child’s interest in things of the past. History teaches helps us learn from our past and prepares us for the future. Geography knowledge is vital, but often over-looked. There are many activities that can encourage your child’s social studies understanding:

● Visit history museums and historical places.

●Research your family tree.

●Make a map of your neighborhood using a GPS .

●Research and report upon the locations (states/countries) that you visit on vacation.

 

Kelly Wilson Mize is a wife, mother, freelance writer, and fifth grade teacher living in Huntsville, Alabama. She holds a master’s degree in elementary education.

Pregnant Surprises by Jessie Weaver

Tosia2
source: PLateauus

I’m writing this six weeks before my March 21 due date, but as you read it, we may or may not have welcome our third child, Joshua, into the world.

This pregnancy was a surprise for us, and everything after that plus sign appeared has been surprising as well. My strange, on-and-off sickness made itself known until 22 weeks. I went into our “big” ultrasound 100% convinced we had a baby Katie in there … oops. At 31 weeks, my hip and back started acting up to the point of putting me on modified bedrest (with a preschooler and a toddler and no local family). And at 34 weeks, I’ve started feeling the end-of-pregnancy sick already, making it difficult to eat anything.

While none of my pregnancies have been peaches and sunshine, this one has been especially tumultuous for me.

I can’t say I enjoy pregnancy, although I am grateful to have healthy ones with healthy babies thus far.

It’s easy for me to float away spiritually when I feel bodily miserable, too. I “reward” my pain with too much television and novel-reading, ignoring the Bible on my bedside table. My back makes it difficult for me to sit through a whole church service, so my soul has been without many sermons.

Yet, is there a better time to really cling to the Word and what He has to say about parenting and children?

Do you have any advice for pregnant mommies who struggle like I do? How do you stay focused on God while your body is a constant reminder of earthly pains and issues?

Jessie Weaver is the resident ParentLife blogger. She is a freelance writer who lives in Chattanooga with her husband and two kids (2 and 4) plus one on the way!

Pregnant Parenting by Jessie Weaver

Being pregnant is not my talent.

I am a great newborn mother. I nurse with ease, love to snuggle, and deal relatively well with little sleep. I know many parents don’t care for the infancy stage, but I LOVE it. I am always happy to just hold a baby.

But pregnancy does not agree with me. I haven’t had scary pregnancies, or bedrest, or premature births. I just spend nine months sick, exhausted, in some sort of back pain, with severe acid reflux. I like baby kicks … but that’s about it.

So now, in my third pregnancy, I am trying to find ways to be a decent mother while getting through another 9-month period of The Grumps. Here’s a few things I’ve come up with.

Let It Slide

My main job is to take care of my kids and make sure they are eating, sleeping, and breathing, right? If I have to turn to Chef Boyardee instead of cooking from scratch, it’s OK. A little extra TV won’t kill them. Making sure they – and I – get some fresh air is a good goal for the day.

Housework is not my priority, and I will do what I can when I can.

Snuggles

I’m spending extra time cuddling the little ones. Today my almost-4-year-old daughter and I gave up naptime to watch a movie and snuggle. She was thrilled with the one-on-one time, and I got to lay on the couch and still be an awesome mommy.

Reading

One thing I can do quite efficiently while hardly moving is read my kids piles of books. We read, talk about pictures and stories, and make up new stories. They are really into coloring, so any related coloring activities are good, too!

 

Your turn: What’s your secret for when you are too tired/sick/pregnant to parent as you normally would?

Jessie Weaver is the resident ParentLife blogger. She is a freelance writer who lives in Chattanooga with her husband and two kids (1 and 3) plus one on the way!

Growth Spurts: On the Way

pregnant
source: summerbl4ck

In our October 2012 issue, you can learn about childbirth class and not smoking on our Growth Spurts: On the Way page. Here are a few more pointers we couldn’t squeeze in the magazine.

Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes shows up as a complication for some mothers during pregnancy. Your doctor will test you between weeks 24 and 28. Typically, you can control gestational diabetes with a healthy lifestyle.

  • Eat healthy foods. If you test positive for gestational diabetes, your health care team can help create healthy meal plans for the duration of your pregnancy.
  • Exercise regularly. Exercise helps keep blood sugar under control. Consult with your doctor about how often to exercise and what types of exercise are appropriate for you.
  • Monitor blood sugar. Your blood sugar levels can change quickly. Check with your doctor about how often to check your blood sugar.
  • Take insulin. Sometimes pregnant women with gestational diabetes need to take insulin. Take insulin only as directed by your doctor.
  • Get tested after pregnancy. Get tested for diabetes again 6 to 12 weeks after delivery and then every 1 to 3 years. Typically, gestational diabetes goes away after delivery. However, 50 percent of women with gestational diabetes develop Type 2 diabetes later in life. Consult with your doctor about being retested and continue maintaining a healthy lifestyle of eating well and exercising.

DOCTOR Appointments

Mom, be prepared to attend several doctor’s appointments. The first visits will be scattered apart with a preliminary ultrasound to confirm the baby’s heartbeat. The appointments will become more frequent the closer you get to your due date.

 

Are you pregnant? If so, how far along? I (Jessie) am almost 16 weeks with my third baby. I’ve found lemon-lime glucose drink is the trick to having the gestational diabetes test without gagging!

You Know You’re a Mom When …

June_22_rubberduck.jpgOn several occasions in the not-so-distant past, I’ve found myself chuckling over the strange characteristics that mark motherhood. You know … the things you never could have imagined or understood before having kids.

I’ll give you two personal examples:

1. Several months ago, I was digging for something in the bottom of my purse and I pulled out a rubber duck. That probably doesn’t happen to many women without children!

2. A few weeks ago, our department was given the opportunity to leave work a couple of hours early before a holiday weekend. Do you know what I did with my time off? I went grocery shopping … and I was excited about it! Why? Because I didn’t have my toddler in tow! Three and a half years ago, I could not have imagined being that excited about grocery shopping!

Knowing I’m not the only one who thinks about these kind of things, I decided to ask my Facebook friends to finish this sentence: You know you’re a mom when …

I LOVE the responses I got and wanted to share them with you.

Some made me literally laugh out loud!!

… you speak in five-word sentences. "Would you like some juice?" "Do you need to potty?" "We do not eat rocks."

… you automatically cut everyone’s food into small pieces, even the grownups.

… you find yourself watching Sesame Street and you are the only one in the room.

… you unconsciously think in rhymes (due to reading too many Dr Seuss books)!

… you tell other adults that you will be right back because you need to "go pee-pee in the potty."

… you catch yourself singing the Wonder Pets theme song in the shower.

… you know every word to every VeggieTales video but have trouble recalling what you did last week.

… you accidentally dilute your own apple juice … and drink it anyway.

… you share bites of your meal even though they have the exact same thing on their plates.

… there are rocks in the dryer and clothes in the driveway.

… you have to weed through the action figures in your purse to find your lipstick.

… ketchup on the ceiling does not surprise you in the least.

… you tell time by which cartoon is on.

… you understand the language of toddler speak.

Others were responses I knew every mother could relate to: 

… you’re exhausted, ready for a nap, and your toddlers are running laps around you!

… you can’t use the bathroom or take a shower without being interrupted.

… you hear yourself giving the same sound advice or warning to your children that your parents gave you … even the phrases you swore you would never say!

… you catch your child’s throw-up in a store.

… things that used to gross you out dont’t phase you anymore!

… getting up at 7 is sleeping in.

And others warmed my heart and made me smile!

… you look at all your grandchildren and say, "It was all worth it".

… when you look at that little gift of God and nothing else seems as important anymore. 

… you can see your heart walking around OUTSIDE your body!

Now it’s your turn. Leave us a comment finishing this sentence. You know you’re a parent when … . I can’t wait to read your responses!

You’re Not Alone, Mom!

Chasing SuperwomanIn the May 2011 issue, our article "Looking for a Safety Net?" talks about the kind of mom friends you need in your life.

If you can’t find a way to meet regularly with friends, at least take time to read their blogs! There are tons of great mom Web sites out there to help you network and remind yourself you are not in this alone. Here are a few of our favorite Mom “reads” in book and Web site form.

 

 

Do you have a favorite mom blog or book about being a mom? I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my own imperfect-mom blog, Vanderbilt Wife. Hope you’ll pay me a visit! – Jessie

New Moms Need Mentors! by Jessie Weaver

A little over 22 months ago, I birthed my first child into the world.

She took her sweet old time as my husband and mother waited and the dog watched me, confused, while I didn’t sleep for two nights straight.

Her little life has changed me just as much and more than I expected. My greatest panic as we came home from the hospital in October 2008 was that I had no family in Nashville, where we lived. No one to call for help. I begged my mom to stay forever, to move to Nashville without my dad, anything to save me from having to raise a baby without her guidance. Wisely, she declined.

babylibbie

Just a few days into Libbie’s tiny life, the preschool minister from our church came to visit. She brought three things: the rose that had symbolized Libbie’s birth on the church altar; a Christian parenting book; and a copy of BabyLife.

I will confess to barely touching the book; life was too overwhelming already with a newborn wreaking havoc in our house. But I read BabyLife from cover to cover, multiple times. And discovered its bearer, our dear preschool director, lived very close to our house and would fill in as “Mom” when needed. Her guidance and friendship saved me several times.

Titus 2:3-5 encourages older women to mentor younger women “to be sensible.” I can think of many times when I needed some sense stuffed into my head. I am forever grateful to the women in my life — older, not too much older, even younger — who have taken the time to talk me down from a cliff. Every new mom needs guidance at one time or another, whether she wants to admit it or not!

Now, as baby #2 is gestating and December seems to be getting closer and closer, I hope to find another wonderful mentor in our new city. Because life with two seems pretty scary to me, but I know a lot of women have been there.
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The ParentLife staff is starting work on the newest edition of
BabyLife , which will be released in June 2011. The magazine is full of advice for parenting children during their first two years of life. What would you like to see featured in the magazine? What articles would catch your attention?

Jessie, the new “ParentLife Blog Guru,” is a stay-at-home mom and freelance writer and editor in Chattanooga, Tennessee. She has blogged for over four years at Vanderbilt Wife.