Tag Archives: Parenting

The Dreadful Silence

You know how it is when you are just trying to relax and enjoy your day off and suddenly you realize that everything is way too quiet? Well that is when you know that you are in real trouble. What could that adorable little brown eyed darling possibly do in less than five minutes? you ask. Ha! A lot you know. Five minutes is plenty of time to raise havoc.

How dost thou destroy my house? Let me count the ways:

Thou doest spread butter across the depth and breadth and height
of the table and every chair,
and into the roots and shafts of thine every little hair.
Thou doest spill orange juice on the stairs at night,
which dries and leaves a sticky sight.
Thou doest finely shred the mail,
and drop the eggs upon the floor,
and then thou doest use the broom to distribute
the mess to every corner of the room.
Thou doest drive me to the very brink, where I seem to lose
my sanity anew, — and yet, I love thee with every breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! — and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

The Misunderstood ‘Ferber’ Method

Ok, for all you moms who are thinking about “Ferberizing” your child because your mother-in-law, husband, grandmother, etc., insists that you need to let your child cry himself to sleep or that you are spoiling your child . . . what ever happened to your maternal instinct? Who knows best for your child? Someone who isn’t even the parent? I am sure that these people are all well meaning and everything, but what would you say if you knew that Dr. Ferber himself even said that what he wrote in his book was largly misunderstood?

“Dr. Ferber, 61, says that he has been largely misunderstood. When he first published his book in 1985, “there weren’t any others,” he says. The book, which has been reprinted 45 times, contains advice on a range of sleep issues, from bed-wetting to teens who can’t get up for school on time. But he is most known for his signature controlled-crying method, which involves leaving a baby alone in the crib to cry for progressively longer intervals until he or she falls asleep. Parents are instructed to go into the room at the end of each interval to console — but not touch or pick up — the child.

Dr. Ferber, who is also director of the Center for Pediatric Sleep Disorders at Children’s Hospital in Boston, says that now, “we’ve had a lot more experience. There really are a lot of different ways” for children to learn good sleep habits.

Dr. Ferber says that he will be revising his book because some parts need to be updated. For instance, he says new research suggests that babies don’t need as much sleep as he originally advised. And he wants to clarify that his crying technique was targeted at a specific problem: the child who can fall asleep only while being rocked or held. While he still presents this approach in his new edition, he says he tells parents they can use gradual steps to wean a child off of rocking and soothing behaviors. And he clarifies that some children such as those suffering from anxiety will not be helped by the crying method.”

Also, about the statement he made in his book which reads “Sleeping alone is an important part of [your child’s] learning to be able to separate from you without anxiety and to see himself [or herself] as an independent individual,” Dr. Ferber said in an interview he did for an article in Newsweek,  “That’s the one sentence I wish I never wrote. It was describing the general thinking of the time, but it was not describing my own experience or philosophy” http://www.healthplans.com/articledetails.php?articleid=6042

From personal experience, I find that my oldest, now 15, who I used the “Ferber” method on before I knew better, is actually the least confident and the least independent of my four children. I used attachment parenting with the other three. I wish that I had had more of a backbone to resist well meaning but un-neccessary criticism and advice from those who did not know my child the way I did. It would have saved me several nights of sitting outside my baby’s bedroom door on the floor wringing my hands with tears in my eyes while she cried, while I told myself over and over that I was doing what was best for my child, until she finally fell asleep with tear stains on her cheecks.

This “Ferber” method is not even what Dr. Ferber intended, but it is what so many parents have misconstrued his words to mean.

Shout out to all moms! Study up on things before you inflict them on your kids instead of just taking some well-meaning relative’s word for it. Actually read the book they are supposedly ‘quoting’ for yourself, and then read about several methods for the same thing, but most of all, trust your God-given maternal instinct and do what you feel in your heart that your baby needs no matter what so-and -so tells you! After all, YOU are the expert on YOUR child, not Dr. Ferber.

The Truth about Motherhood

Here is an excerpt from a letter my sister sent several years ago, which I found just now as I was going through my files . . . such a gem of truth!

“See this sweet, innocent blonde haired, blue eyed, rosy cheeked two-year old boy child?  See these two innocuous looking one-gallon ziplock bags full of California brown rice in my hall closet?  Leave the room for a few minutes and the two will somehow spontaneously combine.  We will be vacuuming rice out of the hall carpet for months.

There is no use in taking a ten-minute sabbatical from Motherhood- someone will be tugging at you, saying “Momma, Momma, Momma, MOMMA!” the whole time.  When you return from your sabbatical, you will spend an hour and a half cleaning up the calamities that happened while you were gone!  Then the whole time you are cleaning up, another mess will be developing in the next room. “

Heart Stopping Moments for Parents

I think that one of the most heart stopping moments that a parent can experience is being called at work and being told that something has happened to one of their children. The second is having a child go missing. Put the two together, and well there is a recipe for some real anxiety.

As many times as you may feel angry or frustrated with your children, there is nothing like the fear of having a child go missing, especially if you have to come home from work and fight traffic before you can do a thing about it. My littlest one went missing today while I was at work and my almost-fifteen-year-old daughter was tending her. I was glad that she called me as soon as she realized that B was missing, so while I was on my way home I called all of the neighbors to see if she had stopped by for a visit. When we fist moved in to our neighborhood, B had a sly way of sneaking off as soon as my back was turned, and so we installed latches at the top of the doors, but she has recently figured out how to use the broom or other long handled tool to un-hook the latch.

My daughter was near a panic, and soon we had two neighbors out looking for her along with my two older children, but I still had the feeling that she was safe somewhere at home and they just needed to give the house another once-over, so I called Alex again and asked her to go through one more time and check every room in the house. Apparently my husband had the same feeling and so when Alex went through and still couldn’t find her, he asked her to check B’s room. When she said she wasn’t there, he told her to tell him what she saw in the room, and when she said there was a pile of blankets on the bed, he told her to move them, and sure enough, there she was, fast asleep right there in her own bed! Of course I got this news that she had been found just moments before I pulled into the driveway.

Since I have had the lovely experience of having children who like to sneak off, I have learned a few things:

  • Always check the inside of the house first — including closets, and under furniture, and especially under mounds of piled up blankets.
  • The second place to look is at neighbor’s houses, especially if your child has a little friend living next door or across the street.
  • Look for your child’s tricycle, bicycle, scooter, or anything else that they might have gone off with. If their tricycle is in front of a friend’s house, that is a really good place to check.
  • If you live two blocks or less away from a fast food restaurant with an indoor play structure, or if you have a neighbor with a trampoline, a swing set, or a play house, or if you live near a park check those places third.
  • If you spend even one minute looking in the wrong places, that is a one minute head start for your kid, so no matter where you look, it is always best if you have other people helping, even if it means getting the police involved.

Vacation Recuperation

It has taken this long to recover from my 4th of July vacation.

Sure I had fun.

Chasing the torrid trio.

And the daring duo.

No running water.


Mice under the tent.

Picking stacks of wipes out of the port-a-potty.

Crabby campers.



Hail the size of marbles.

Stomach flu.

27 kids, half of them under 10.

Sisters, cousins, brothers in law.

Old, dusty childhood memories.




Campfire and dutch oven rolls.

How could it not be fun?

Raising a Writer

When my oldest daughter, now almost 15, was 3 she came up to me and grabbed my hand and dragged me over to the computer and said “I want to make a Poem. Type!” a few days before I had been reading her some French poetry (to which she had said very sternly “Mom, don’t talk me like that!” because she couldn’t understand the words.) So I sat down and she stood there with a very intent attitude, and whipped off the words she wanted. Then after she made sure I typed them in, she ran of as if nothing had happened. It was as if she had been briefly possessed. She was always precocious, but I have to admit that took me by surprise.
After that, it became a sort of intermittent occurrence, and I have several things that she made up when she was little.

Then she went to kindergarten, where a very pretty, but stern teacher who she desperately wanted to please beat her down with homework that was not age appropriate, and who was a stickler for correct spelling. So my daughter began to have a fear of words and their being incorrectly written on the page and no matter how hard I coaxed she would not write anything unless she knew exactly how to spell it. I should have yanked her right out of that class at the first sign of these goings on, but she was my first child and I was young and all of the other reasons parents allow their kids to be traumatized and beaten down until they fear writing.
It has been a long road to get back to where she loves to write, but still even though she has filled up countless notebooks and spends her free time writing stories, she barely will even turn in a writing assignment. She almost flunked out of English this year, because she was blessed with yet another Nazi English teacher – no offense to any English teachers out there; I used to be one. (I did have the sense to take her out this time, but I waited longer than I should have. . . I was under the mistaken impression that I would be able to get her to change her approach through diplomacy, so I wrote e-mails, had a meeting with her and the administration, even offered to come do a training on teen brain development – LOL – etc but to no avail – this time it went way deeper than the red pen treatment and spelling – this woman had serious issues and really disliked kids, especially my daughter which is hard to imagine and I am not one of those deluded parents who overlooks their teen’s bad behavior . . . I don’t think anyway ;))

So anyway, getting to the point . . . because of this history, combined with my work, (I have been at the Reading is Fundamental training all day so this is on my mind because we discussed emergent literacy) I think a lot about emergent literacy, and properly raising the writer in my children. I think it is really important to keep things in perspective when working with kids and teaching them to write. I think the quickest way to scare them off is to grammar them to death too early, and another big way to create writerphobia is to put too much emphasis too soon on spelling. These things are important but I tell people all the time, “which would you rather read? Writing that is interesting and dynamic, or writing that is boring, but is all spelled properly? That is what revision and the writing process are there to iron out the kinks AFTER the story is laid out.
I love writing because it is a fun emotionally rewarding way to get my ideas out where I can see them. I love that my daughter loves to write, and she is very passionate about it (She actually said that it is her life passion to be a writer.) So why do some teachers cheat kids out of this pleasure by ruining it all for them by nitpicking their writing when we should just be jumping up and down for joy that they are catching the writing bug?

Here are some quick tips for raising a writer:
1. Don’t nitpick spelling and grammar. Sandwich specific constructive criticisms with meaningful positive comments, and never just say “it’s great,” or “it’s stupid.”
2. Always have something specific and positive to say, even if it is “I think it is wonderful that you are enjoying writing so much!” If they are not very good at it, they will get better. Keep in mind that writing gets better with maturity and practice.
3. Keep in mind age and ability levels. If a child is interested in writing at a young age, they will only get better with encouragement.
4. Keep it fun — read books together and brainstorm with them to come up with lots of fresh and fun writing ideas; talk about authors of the books they really like and take them to book signings to meet their favorite authors.
5. It is never too early or late to learn the craft of writing.

He Lives . . . for Now

It has been one of those days.  Work went fine, since whilst I was tapping blissfully away at my keyboard in ignorance, building spreadsheets, making phone calls, and updating the program website, my lovely 6-year-old son who comes home from school with his older brother two hours before I do was wreaking havoc all over the place while his older sister who was supposed to be tending him had her nose buried in a book.

Ok . . . so in the perfect world, I would have been home at the door greeting them barefoot with cookies and milk, wearing a frilly polka-dot apron over my jeans.

This is not that world.

And to be fair, not everything went wrong. The kids had eaten dinner before I got home (so her nose came out of the book long enough for her to boss J into cooking spaghetti) even though the veggies had been tossed into the microwave at the end as a sort of afterthought instead of having been cooked properly, and then forgotten so when I went to warm up my plate an hour later, there in the microwave was a cold soggy bag of veggies to greet me. . .

But the part that I was really mad about was the fact that Zee had terrorized (weeded) my garden. All of my lovely little corn plants — vanished.  It was like nothing had ever been planted there.  Arrrrrrgggghhhh! And how can I really be mad about it?  It makes me feel like such a heel. And then he and Bee terrorized (loved) the baby pigeon and the pigeon egg while the parents were off having a breather. The baby pigeon is lucky to still be alive, and the egg . . .  at least it’s not cracked. I hope it still hatches – It is suppoed to hatch any time now. J’s hands are all pecked up from when he returned the poor things to their parents.

This whole thing makes me wonder a lot about the one afternoon that one of the chicks went missing for a whole day. I thought for sure that the cat had eaten one, but now I think that it spent the night under Zee’s bed in a nest made out of a hand towel. Other than the chick having mysteriously re-appeared in the coop the very next morning and my finding a towel under his bed with some feathers in it a few days later, what in the world would make me suspect such a thing???

I used to pray he would live to be at least five, and not accidentally kill himself in one of his crazy antics. Now I just pray for the strength to not kill him myself!

Musings on Mothering

How many children do you have to have before you are actually qualified to give parenting advice? Even Dr. Ferber changed his stance on the ever popular Ferber method for getting kids to go to sleep after having a child of his own. Too many people who write books on parenting are giving advice from the perspective of only having a degree in child psychology, and maybe only have one kid. I go to my mother for advice—she’s the only one I know who’s really qualified since she has raised 12 kids. My younger sister is a close second. She has nine. I have four kids, and my right to give advice on parenting is very limited.

I hate it when parents of only one child (usually a mild, even tempered, obedient child who has never run away from them in the supermarket) look at a frazzled mother and say something stupid like, “I wish she would learn to control her kids!” or “don’t you think you should have used birth control?”

In order to even be able to start handing out advice, you have to have had a child who has done something horrible, like sneak out of their room after pretending to be asleep at nap time, and then quietly going into the kitchen and getting into the refrigerator so that they could get your eggs out and hide them around the house, breaking a few in the process, or like gleefully throwing cottage cheese onto the carpet because they wanted to pretend they were throwing candy in a parade, or getting out your maxi pads and sticking them all over the bathroom wall and calling them butterflies. Or my personal favorite, squirting chocolate syrup out on the white carpet, pouring milk over it, and then dancing in it. (Why did it take me so long to figure out how to lock the fridge? And why for goodness sake did I ever agree to rent a house with white carpet!)

I remember once, being infuriated with my sister because her 2-year-old little girl had pretended that my stacks of clean folded laundry were cakes and she had ‘frosted’ them with a large bottle of baby lotion that had been sitting out, and all my sister had done was take the lotion away and sternly say “no, no, sweetie!” At the time, of course, my first child was only a few months old, and had never done anything remotely obnoxious. If it had happened now, at least we would have both gotten a good chuckle over it.

And what can you really do about it? Take it away, and say “no, no!” while you try your best to look angry. There are a few areas, however, where I do feel qualified to give some advice. For example, never just nod and say “yes, uh huh, ok,” when your toddler is talking to you in words you don’t understand. For all you know, you have just given them permission to use your scissors to play barber. And if you have put your child down for a nap, make sure that he is really asleep before you go take a shower, or worse yet, fall asleep yourself, or you may find him missing when you wake up. Which brings me to the next thing—if you do fall asleep, first make sure you deadbolt the door and lock the top latch which you have smartly installed way up high at the top of the door, and then hide away, or better yet lock up anything with a long handle, like, say a broom, for instance, or you may find him being returned to you by a strange blue haired old lady who was nice enough to go door to door looking for you rather than calling the police. . . if you’re lucky.

How to Tell if You Are the Mother of a Toddler

You know you’re the mom of a toddler when nothing embarrasses you anymore. I know this is true because when my second son was 3 years old he once interviewed every stranger in the fast food restaurant we were eating at, asking everyone if they had penises, even the women. (Thank God there were only 3 other families there.) I was really starting to get annoyed at this strange fascination of his, because no matter how often I patiently explained to him that “no, I don’t have a penis, only boys have those,” he didn’t believe me, so it was actually a huge relief when he came barging into the bathroom one day and whipped open the shower curtain with a strange look of triumph on his face. He looked at me as if he just knew he had finally caught me red handed. As I frantically grabbed for the shower curtain, he shouted “Ha! Mom, you do have a . . .” a puzzled look crossed his face. “A big hairy thing?” Then he smiled and said “and you have bosoms too!” Then he closed the shower curtain and left. That was the end of it, and I am really, really, really glad.

Some other things that could tip you off that you are the parent of a toddler are:

1. When your child is missing, the closet in the entryway of your home is a perfectly logical place to look.
2. You have had to look in the middle of every clothing rack in Wal-Mart at least once.
3. You often look like your shirt sleeve has been used for a napkin. (Oh wait! It really has!)
4. White is not something you wear unless you have a babysitter.
5. It’s a relief to only have to give your child one bath in a day.
6. You lock the doors of your house with a latch that has been installed at the top of the door before taking a shower or using the toilet so your child doesn’t escape, and even then you are ready to run out of the shower naked at the slightest sound of chair legs scraping across the floor . . . (the news story of a toddler who escaped with the car keys and crashed the car into the garage while his poor mother was showering comes to mind)
7. Oh wait! Ha, what was I thinking? As soon as I get in the shower, I have instant company. And supervised toilet time . . . (“eeew mommy, you stink!” “Thanks sweetie!”)
8. Nap time is the only quiet part of your day. (Please! Pray that the toddler will take a nap!)
9. Anything nice you may have is either hidden away, or on a really high shelf that can’t be reached by climbing. (Ha! don’t you know there isn’t such a place? Must be why I don’t really have any nice things . . . )
10. If your child even eats one or two bites of his dinner, sometimes that is good enough.
11. You find yourself babbling to complete strangers at the play area in the mall, because you crave adult conversation.
12. Your house has at least one wall with crayon scribbling if you’re lucky. Otherwise, it’s permanent marker and it’s on every wall in the house. This will invariably happen right after you have painted. Thank goodness for magic erasers!
13. Your house is always a wreck, even right after you have spent the whole day cleaning up.
14. You keep baby wipes in your car and/or in your purse.
15. Milk and applesauce is a good lunch.
16. You often find yourself spelling out words such as C A N D Y, or P A R K in conversations.
17. Barney, Vegi Tales, and the Boobahs are necessary evils.
18. You have had at least one conversation as if Elmo were a real person.
19. You have either gone to the store with an odd assortment of barrettes in your hair at least once because your little girl was ‘fixing your hair’ and would have cried if you took them out, or you have pretended to be a dinosaur and that pancake syrup is blood to get your son to eat (or some other equally gory thing).