Friday, August 31, 2012

Give Them Grace

I finished this book by Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson a couple of days ago. They made some great points about what it means to be a Christian parent. So many times we focus on making our children good and equate that with our success as parents. "Good manners have been elevated to the level of Christian righteousness" (p 20). We focus on the law--do this, don't do that--and ignore the gospel of grace that is central to Christian teaching. When instead, all that we do should come back to Jesus and the work He has already done on our behalf.

The other statement that really resonated with me was this: "Although we long to be faithful parents, we also rest in the truth that our faithfulness is not what will save our children . . . our children will be saved only through the faithfulness of the Holy Spirit . . . He may use us as means to accomplish His purpose, but salvation is entirely of the Lord" (p 22). Our children won't be saved on the basis of what we as parents do or don't do. We can and should strive to model the gospel of grace to them, to talk about it frequently, to let it permeate every aspect of our lives. But the salvation of our children is not dependent upon our own works.

As always, I didn't agree with all the points made in this book. It got repetitive at times. Some of the examples were very "preachy" and much too long. The kids I know would have tuned out mom long before she got to the main point. Sometimes you just need to show your kids instead of tell them. But it did get me thinking about what kind of parent I want to be--I don't want our home to be filled with rules and for my kids to think that God is like Santa Claus, watching to see if they are good or bad and rewarding them accordingly. I want them to see Jesus, who loves us despite our sin and who is our only rescue.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Eighteen Month Stats

Annie's new stats:
20 lbs 1 oz
31.7 inches

That's the 50th percentile for height (I think they measured her incorrectly at 15 months) and still the 5th for weight. She's hitting or ahead on all her milestones and doing all the things 18 month olds are supposed to do. :)

Monday, August 27, 2012

Annie: Eighteen Months





(lighting is horrible but the expression on her face is priceless)

(no more pictures!!)


(yuck, there's grass on my hand!)


At 18 months Annie suddenly seems like a "big girl". The Gent and I love to watch her learn new things; it is so much fun to watch her grow! She has learned some new words--her current favorites are "flower," "all done," and "yes." She shakes her head for no. A lot. But she hasn't verbalized it yet. She is still in love with her books and is learning to share her toys with JJ. Sometimes she gets mad at him for not playing with them correctly. :) She is taking an interest in her dolls and loves to play with letters and numbers. She has some magnetic ones and foam ones for the bathtub. She can identify A-G when she's in the mood to do it. Annie has had a busy month traveling and is happy to be back home for a while! Annie loves fruit of all kinds (except melon). Mango is her flavor of the month. She is still nursing 3x a day (we successfully cut one this month) and taking two naps. Annie is ready to give up her morning nap but JJ is not (he sleeps a good two hours in the morning and again in the afternoon), so I'm keeping them on the same schedule for now. She usually plays in her crib for about an hour in the morning and then takes a short nap, with a longer one in the afternoon. Annie is wearing mostly 12-18 month clothing (she's 18 months old and it finally fits) and size 3 diapers.

Friday, August 24, 2012

A Bigger Car

There are lots of things I say I need that I really don't. But y'all, I really do need a bigger car. Cindy Civic has stood me in great stead for the past ten years, but two toddlers have us maxed out. Definitely no room for the dogs (but thank heaven for our wonderful dogsitter!).

And today social services called and asked if we could take a newborn. And the only reason we had to say no was because there's no way to fit another car seat in Cindy.

Boo hoo.

I hate saying no to a child who needs a family.

But it is going to be a while (at least until early 2013) before we can afford an upgrade, so we'll just keep saying no for now.

Boo hoo again.

I guess I'm going to have to get a van.


I was thinking about a Honda Pilot, but we rode with some friends in theirs a couple of weeks ago and it is completely impractical for more than two car seats. And there's not enough room for a single stroller in the back, let alone my double.

Look out, I'll be a soccer mom before I know it.

Maybe we could follow Peyton's advice and get some racing stripes.

Anybody want to trade their van for my sweet little Civic? :)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Second Annual Summer Cinci Trip

Last week my Mom and I took the babies to Cincinnati. Mom's best friend "Mrs. GiGi" and my favorite Jenn live there, and Jenn has a precious new baby boy I've been itching to hold for the past three months!

He thought my kisses were boring, but I just couldn't resist that sweet baby smell! He is the cutest little guy and I'm so glad I finally got to meet him (and spend time with his mama, too).

My kids had lots of fun with Mr. Kenny. They showed them what their life will be like next year! JJ is offering lessons in childproofing, please contact me if you are interested. :D

Annie loves her little purse.

They also had lots of fun playing with Mrs. GiGi's electronics. BUTTONS! THAT MAKE NOISE!!

Little climbers.

We went to the splash park. Mrs. GiGi and Sam played in the water with Annie and JJ. Thank you!

Almost twins. I get asked that A LOT.

So glad we were able to go on this trip, we had a blast!

P.S. I'm thinking about trying out a photo-editing program. Right now I do no editing at all. Any suggestions?

Monday, August 20, 2012

JJ: Fifteen Months



JJ is a sweet, curious little boy. If there are 50 toys in a room and one thing he cannot play with, he will immediately gravitate toward that one thing. JJ loves dogs--Zeke, Nick, and Huck are his buddies. He loves his stuffed dogs, too. He likes to make you work for a smile. When you try to get a smile out of him, he flattens his little lips and his eyes start twinkling. It is very adorable. JJ has been with us for about a month. He has adjusted very well and is on a good nap/sleep schedule. He and Annie are playing well together. The Gent and I are trying to teach him to eat fresh fruit and vegetables. So far he will only eat banana, blueberries, and sweet potatoes. We just keep offering different things and hoping we will find more things he eats! JJ loves milk, cheese, yogurt, any kind of meat, and anything with refined sugar. :)

Friday, August 10, 2012

Summer Yummies

Here's some deliciousness we've been enjoying this summer.

Pesto Veggie Pizza
I use the Williams-Sonoma thin crust recipe, and then top with homemade pesto (our basil has done great this year, yay!), parmesan or romano cheese, fresh tomatoes, zucchini, red onion, and asparagus. So so so good.

Garlic and Mint marinade for chicken
I add the ingredients to a ziploc bag--about 1/2 cup of fresh mint (this has grown nicely, too), 2 T lemon juice, 2 T olive oil, 2 T soy sauce, 1 t chili powder, 1 t pepper, 2 t minced garlic. Shake them up, add the chicken, and marinate overnight. We cook them on the grill and they stay nice and moist.

Cheesy Grilled Corn
Grill your corn, then brush with melted butter, sprinkle with salt, chili powder, paprika, Parmesan cheese, and a twist of lime. We are going to have to make this again soon because my mouth is watering just typing this.

P.S. I'm taking next week off from blogging. Be back soon!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Positive Discipline

As we enter toddlerhood and foster parenting, the Gent and I have been contemplating what kind of discipline we will use in our home. At this stage the only "discipline" we need is close supervision, redirection, and distraction. Annie and JJ both know what the word "no" means, but I try not to over-use it. And of course at this age they obey "no" maybe 75% of the time. They are toddlers and they are curious about their little world and the big world, too. They want to touch everything and that's just how they are learning.

But as Annie gets older, and if/when we have a preschool-aged foster child, I know we'll need more disciplinary tools than we use now. I've read several of Dr. Dobson's books and got some great ideas there--I especially enjoyed Bringing Up Girls and Bringing Up Boys.

And I'm going to go ahead and address the spanking issue. We live in the South. Lots of parents spank their kids. Like any disciplinary tool, it works for some kids and not for others. Your kids are your kids and you need to parent them as you see fit. But as for me . . . I've always been uncomfortable with corporal punishment. And with foster parenting, it is not an option, for obvious reasons.

In our foster parenting classes they gave us suggestions about discipline, like time out, natural consequences, behavior charts, etc. We went over the information quickly though and it seemed disjointed.

So I picked up Jane Nelsen's Positive Discipline at the library a couple of weeks ago. Like practically everything I read, I agreed with a good bit of it and disregarded some of it. It did give great explanations and alternatives to traditional punitive punishment, and offered lots of advice on how to create a cooperative and respectful relationship between parents and their children. Dr. Nelsen also touches on childhood development (as Dr. Dobson does in his books), which is an excellent reminder of what is normal at each stage. It is easy to forget what is was like to be a kid. :)

Dr. Nelsen's premise is that we should "give up the crazy idea that in order to make children do better, first you have to make them feel worse." Parents should be kind and firm at the same time. The parents are the leaders in the relationship, but it should be based on mutual respect. Mistakes are opportunities to learn, not the end of the world. She is also big on cooling off periods, family meetings for kids past the age of reason (around 3), and involving children in problem solving.

"A misbehaving child is a discouraged child." Dr. Nelsen claims there are four goals of misbehavior: undue attention (I belong only when I have your attention), misguided power (I belong only when I'm the boss), revenge (I don't belong, but at least I can hurt back), and assumed inadequacy (It is impossible to belong; I give up). When you can discern your child's goal in misbehaving you can decide how to treat the problem.

A few of my favorite quotes:
"Children obviously do not deserve all the rights that come with greater experience, skills, and maturity. Adult leadership and guidance are important. However, children deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. They also deserve the opportunity to develop the life skills they need in an atmosphere of kindness and firmness instead of an atmosphere of blame, shame, and pain." p4

"It is important to emphasize that eliminating punishment does not mean that children should be allowed to do whatever they want. We need to provide opportunities for children to experience responsibility in direct relationship to the privileges they enjoy." p5

"Many people feel strongly that strictness and punishment work. I agree. I would never say that punishment does not work. Punishment does work in that it usually stops misbehavior immediately. But . . .the long-term results of punishment are that children usually adopt one or all of the Four R's of Punishment: resentment ("this is unfair; I can't trust adults"), revenge ("they are winning now, but I'll get even"), rebellion ("I'll do the opposite to prove I don't have to do it their way"), or retreat ("I'm a bad person")." p13

All in all, an interesting read with plenty of practical ideas to take away. Wonder how this is going to work in real life? What works for your family? Please share!

Monday, August 6, 2012


We spent a long weekend in Chicago. The Gent had a work trip so Annie and I tagged along. We had the best time in the Windy City. Annie and I had breakfast with a friend from my dancing days, and we also caught up with some dear friends from law school. We sampled the tourist trap at Navy Pier, ate a deep-dish pizza, shopped the Magnificent Mile, visited the zoo, explored the Art Institute, and wandered Millennium Park. Annie had the greatest time. She did well on her first airplane ride, her first bus ride, her first cab ride, her first train ride . . . you get the idea. She didn't put up any fuss at all while we kept her up way past bedtime, ate out most meals, and carted her all over the place. This one's a traveler for sure! (JJ stayed at home with my saintly parents--he has just gotten into a good routine and I didn't want to mess him up.)

Checking out the giraffes at Lincoln Park Zoo

Riding the bus

Navy Pier with Daddy

Art Institute with Mama

Aren't we cute?

Lollapalooza was happening. Here's the view from our hotel. We avoided it as much as possible.

Annie thought the Bean was really cool

Our only family photo

She has four teeth now

And she's so big!

Spending time with friends from law school and their adorable little girl

Figuring out the rocking horse

Whatever it was, we didn't do it!

Wagons are Annie's favorite toy right now

Story time

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Water Play




A good time was had by all.