Tag Archives: motherhood

Raising Grateful Kids – Review

So little did I think that with my little blog that a handful of my facebook friends read I would be chosen to be part of the launch team for a new book by Kristen Welch (of wearethatfamily.com ) – Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World.  I even filled out the form at the very last day!  I’ve only been reading her blog for a couple months but I have come to appreciate her insights.

So the book – it’s a bit of an emotional read, but I think it’s an important one.  Kristen shares many stories from her parenting experiences, and those of others.  Also included are some polls she conducted and research studies from others.  There is also plenty of scripture to support her ideas!

I most appreciated the chapter on technology, as it convicted me about my own overuse of my phone.  Also because this era of technology is a new parenting world.  Even I can remember a time before computers (barely!) but my kids will have so much more technology than we ever did.


The other best chapter was the last one –  “Dear Parents” – where she gets real about the challenge of this undertaking.  One of the series on her blog has been “Parenting upstream in a go-with-the-flow world” which described it well.  She boils it all down to what all parenting goals boil down to:  What you want them to be like, you have to model.  But of course, there are a lot more practical details on how to do that in the book, including ideas for each age group at the end of each chapter.

I also loved her focus on service and perspective, drawn from her experience with travel and starting a non-profit.


I did have a bit of a hard time relating to some of the examples for a few reasons.  I think our current financial position has forced us to be more content.  I can remember thinking that I would never ever live in an apartment when I had kids – I would own a home for sure.  And now here we are, in a 2-bedroom rental, after living in a 1-bedroom until Leland was 18 months old, and I think that if we could live in a townhouse that would pretty much be my dream home.  God has been gracious in changing my heart on my sense of entitlement (at least in some areas) as we have learned what we can actually afford.


Much of the book is also more for future reference for me – my kids are only 1 and 3; their little desires are quite simple and so far they are happy with simple.  Sure they get itching for “something new”, especially around birthdays and Christmas when people are a bit too generous, but they also say “thank you” often (well, “ks” from Elliot) and even unprompted.

My only other area of differing opinion is that I definitely lean in more gentle parenting style than Kristen, but I was able to take the information and fit it into my ideas about parenting.  Some of it is just semantics, like in the chapter against a child-centered home. I can also see how attachment parenting might look too child-centered but could still be more family-centered (and even better – Christ-centered).  Because again, I only have littles, and let’s face it – they tend to be the focus and their needs tend to influence the rest of the family.  That’s why I am sitting here finally typing this review while they are sleeping!

Overall it was a good and important read and I’ve been blessed to be part of the group previewing the book.  Check it out!

Where to buy:


barnes and noble

also check lifeway and cbd





One of those moms . . . [and some fun links!]

I plunked Elliot down on the floor after the third failed attempt to get him to sleep* and said “I’m going out.”  Brian (wisely) didn’t ask questions. I grabbed my coat and drove alone for the first time in who knows how long and went to Benny’s (a local chain store).  Google said they closed at 9, but when I arrived a big sign said “Open Nights ‘Til 8PM”.  I checked the clock and it was 7:58.  I went in.  It smelled the same as when we went there with my Dad as kids.


I regularly donate, sell, or at least rotate the kids’ toys to keep them under control.  We don’t have tv so Leland doesn’t know about all the great toys for sale out there, and we go quickly past or around any toy section at the store.  I like to stick to open-ended, non-electronic toys but we have plenty that don’t fit that criteria, too.

But then the Benny’s circular came, and there was a toy that looked an awful lot like an impact hammer, and Leland is really into impact hammers (and pretty much every other kind of truck, thank you Truck Tunes Vol. 1 and 2 . . . and desperation on long trips where we count trucks . . . ). He is the one who found it on the page.  (Side note: Easy entertainment for 2 little boys – throw all the circulars on the floor and let them rip/move/scrunch them)

It’s not an impact hammer, more of a bulldozer with a drill on the back, and from Paw Patrol (a show I think).  It’s not electronic at least.  But this striving-for-minimalism-or-at-least-less-clutter Mom turned into a crazed Black Friday shopper and I had to have this toy.

So there I was, at 7:58 scanning the toy aisle at Benny’s 2 days before the toy even went on sale – I wanted it so bad I would’ve paid full price that very night.  No impact hammer.  I scan again, I check to make sure that was the entire toy section.  It’s past 8 now. And then a nice young man in a tie asked if he could help me and I gladly accepted. No impact hammer.  He took my name and number to hold it for me if they found one.  I probably talked about impact hammers a little too much and probably had crazy eyes but I was on a mission, and excited to be talking to an adult.

The next day I line up my brother to check another Benny’s the day they go on sale if I don’t find one.  The day the sale starts arrives, and I call the store with my name – no one answers.  I call the store my brother could run to  – no one answers.  I remember another one close to me – someone answers!  They check – they have one!  They hold it for me.  We all go out in the pouring rain and retrieve it (as stealthily as possible since Leland was with me).  It’s kind of dinky, actually.  But for $11 I will be giving my child an impact hammer for his birthday in May!

*Elliot’s sleep is pretty terrible lately – I think it’s a 10 months thing.  Sleep regressions are hard when sleep wasn’t that great to begin with.  I have a motto, however, because we subscribe to the “wait-it-out” method of sleep training – I made it up myself, and I think it’s pretty catchy:  No sleep training = no complaining.  So I’m not complaining, just explaining 🙂

I found this post about 9 months helpful:  http://babyshrink.com/2010/why-your-9-month-old-baby-is-so-difficult-all-of-a-sudden


It wasn’t going to be the timing we wanted (not that ultimately we are in control of these things), and it wasn’t really our plan anyway.

She came to visit a little bit early, as I often pray she will when I get my hopes up at all.  I spent 2 years that way, so I am used to having my hopes turn to disappointment month after month. God was gracious and his timing is perfect.

“The heart of a man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” Proverbs 16:9

We choose to be open to life, not because of any mandate, and not because of any particular Bible verse, but because our study of the God’s word and prayer has led us to not decide how many children we will have or exactly when.  Not being under any particular church’s teaching regarding family planning, however, we also choose to artificially delay for my health for a reasonable amount of time and then open up the possibility.  (Although you could argue that Natural Family Planning isn’t really natural either . . . ) If lactational amennorhea worked for me, we wouldn’t even do anything at all and “leave it up to God” as they say . . . but isn’t it always up to Him anyway?

It’s hard to talk about what we did without framing it as a mistake.  Without saying “oops” or “we weren’t careful enough” or “we weren’t trying”.  We did what we did and we owned it, even though I knew with my highly predictable fertility it probably wasn’t peak time anyway. It’s hard to talk about it now that she came to visit without framing it as relief, or dodging something, or being safe, and not actually making a mistake.

But now that there was the possibility, and we grew to be okay with whatever the outcome this month, should we continue to delay? Well we chose our health plan based on no babies this calendar year, so I suppose we should probably stick with that for now 🙂

Oh, and Aunt Flo who came to visit?  We’re on speaking terms.  I’ve even forgiven her for all those other unwanted visits because the little boys that came when she finally took a vacation away from our house (thanks to a little surgery for the hubby) are pretty amazing people to have waited for.


And a funny story:  So I ended up having to go to urgent care today (after writing the rest of this post), and thank goodness Brian was home after finishing up being in a jury.  I was doing my usual trick of using the knife to get the pit out of an avocado and the knife went straight through the pit and into my finger. Anyway the medical assistant asked if there was any possibility I was pregnant and I had to chuckle.  This was after I had to explain why I was still taking prenatal vitamins, and that my baby was 9 months old (he assumed newborn, because I was breastfeeding I guess?).


Brian and I went to the dentist for our semi-annual cleaning the other day and had a woman from church watch the boys in the office while we went in.  The dentist popped in when the hygienist was done and told me I had perfectly behaved little boys out there, that they were just like me, always perfect, not like my brothers.

I have been thinking about perfectionism a lot lately. I am trying very hard not to bring that weakness of mine out in my children.

I don’t know where the pressure on myself of perfectionism came from, but it runs deep. It became part of my entire personality.  And then the pressure from being the “good kid” or being “smart” meant that when I did mess up, it was a really big deal.  Like I wasn’t allowed to act age appropriate because I was so tall and mature for my age (Someone literally asked me what year of college I was in when I was 12). Like because I was good a lot of the time I wasn’t allowed to mess up. Like I wasn’t allowed to have problems.

In reading about gentle parenting the “age-appropriate behavior” piece has been striking me and I am trying not to expect too much from my kids.

I always remember a story my Mom told me about her cousin’s kids when she went to visit them in the Southwest several years ago.  The older one was a bright, healthy young girl, and the younger girl had many medical issues and Down Syndrome.  The older girl exclaimed “I want a feeding tube!” in a desperate cry for the different kind of attention her sister was getting. Immediately I knew that was me.  I could relate to that little girl I hadn’t ever met. I can remember being jealous of my brothers’ allergies, depression, grades etc.  I can remember sneaking a bonnet to school in second grade and using it as a sling and saying I had a broken arm.  I remember feeling jealous of a girl who used a wheelchair for a while in first grade.

I don’t know what form I was filling out, maybe in late high school, but it asked what my weaknesses were.  I never know what to say for that! It was never for lack of knowing them or having them, but how to put them in words that didn’t make me sound like a horrible person but still sounded humble and real. I asked my dear friend Christa to offer some suggestions and she mentioned one might be that I don’t take criticism well.  She is such an insightful and observant friend, and true to her statement I didn’t take it well that she said I don’t take criticism well!  I wasn’t self-aware enough at that point to realize I just proved her right.

So what am I doing about it?

Well since having kids I’ve been forced to let go of some of my perfectionism and need for control.  And with them, I try to let them be themselves.  I don’t force them to play with toys in a certain way.  I don’t overly guide their artwork.  I try not to act or sound disappointed when they mess up.  I try to remember they are little, and where they are developmentally.  I try not to yell.  I pray hard to be a good Mom.  I try to remember that article I read about not telling them they are smart, but instead praising their efforts.

On our recent road trip, I chose a different way to drive than we usually do (with good reasons) but then the GPS had that adding 30 minutes to the trip!  I was so frustrated and beating myself up for keeping the kids (and us) in the car longer than we had to – I was tired and grumpy about it . . . but then the GPS actually had us getting off the highway and winding around so we ignored that and I got those 30 minutes back off the ETA!  As I was recounting the GPS story to my Aunt Denise, I said “So I was beating myself up for nothing” and my Husband said “the story of Emily’s life” (or something like that) and you know what?  It’s true!  I am so hard on myself – so I am going to work on that.  Maybe I need to apply those Gentle Parenting principles to myself!

I’m not perfect yet at letting go of this perfectionism thing, but I’m glad I’m becoming more self-aware in this area.

More on Gentle Parenting . . .

I have been thinking yet more about gentle parenting . . . maybe someday I will get all of my thoughts for posts in one place at one time in one coherent post, but for this season of life that is not to be! I also should note I am not by any means an expert on gentle parenting.

I also had this ready to post already and lost it, so here goes again (this time typed in Word first)!

In my last post here I forgot to mention Leland’s other amazing concoction: peas and ranch dressing in his honey/raisin/cinnamon oatmeal!  He ate it all up – I’m glad I didn’t stop his creativity!

I am wondering if we spend so much time concerned with our children’s sin natures that we don’t take our own into account.  Any parenting method would probably work if we were perfectly sanctified already.  I have found myself struggling with anger since becoming the proud owner of a 2-year-old, whereas I never would have thought of myself having any anger issue or temper previously.  And when I am angry is when I am most likely to be a less than gently parent, including yelling, and some physical punishment. I know that when angry is the very time to not use physical punishment!  My main trigger (other than fatigue) I found to be when I was trying to put the baby down for naps.  For a while Leland would play quietly enough, but then he started willfully being loud when he knew he needed to be quiet.  My solution for now is he watches a video while I nurse the baby down for his nap.  It goes against my ideals for limiting screen time, but it is keeping me sane and helping the baby nap.  At most he watches 2 videos a day.  (We don’t have a tv so limiting screen time is a little easier!)

Something I have thought about for a long time is how often as Christians, in an effort to fight the sin nature, we reject all things natural.  I notice this in how gentle parenting methods tend more to embrace age appropriate behavior.  Is it sinful for a 2-year-old to act like a 2-year-old? My Aunt has a theory that Jesus himself acted as any 2-year-old might.  I also thought about this concept when Leland was little and I nursed him to sleep.  There is a popular Christian parenting method that would call this a “prop” for sleep.  But what would I do then with the little baby who fell asleep nursing? I was told it would get harder the longer I waited to stop doing this, but he eventually just started staying awake after nursing and I could lay him down.  Now he loves going to bed! I know Elliot will eventually stop as well.  I think it helps to wait until they are old enough to understand when you talk to them about going to bed and what is happening.  Anyway, other examples of “natural” things many Christians might reject could be chiropractic care, acupuncture, yoga, herbal remedies, babies waking up at night, etc.  I’m not lumping those all together as the same type of thing, just thinking about what things might fall into this broad category of rejecting natural along with the sin nature.

The Christian parenting book I am reading now is not my favorite. I really like many of the overarching principles that focus on the heart of the child and the Gospel, but I do not necessarily agree with the “how” that the author comes to from those principles.  Although the Bible is sufficient for all things for life, it doesn’t give a specific, comprehensive manual for parenting.  We have to be careful that when we hear or say something is the Biblical way that is not just one person’s specific interpretation.  We also need to take into account the whole Word of God and not create an ideology based on one verse in isolation.

Side story: I learned the phrase “it’s not my favorite” from one of the missionaries that led the music camp trip to Namibia I went on in 2004. She taught her kids to use that phrase if they were served food they did not like.  I love how it rides the balance of honesty and tact!

Gentle Parenting

I think I’ve figured out why gentle parenting is making so much sense. At least why respect for our children as persons is becoming clearer and more important to me. 

The other day I dropped one of Leland’s pieces of egg on the floor and he was somewhat upset (reasonably).  And I started thinking about how I would not want someone to yell at me for dropping something or making a mess when it was accident, so why would I yell at a small person when they do so? I apologized to Leland for dropping his egg and talked about how we could clean it up.  

The tricky part is when they are willfully making a mess or doing something wrong.  But maybe still, his goal is not to make a mess.  Maybe he is really interested in how water flows out of his bottle or how cantaloupe tastes in macaroni and cheese (apparently pretty good because he still ate it). Brian teases me for harping on Leland putting things in his drink (for some reason I cannot tolerate that behavior!) but maybe he is learning about spatial relationships and what will fit. Most messes we can clean up.

And then there are the times they look you in the face and knowingly do exactly what they are not supposed to!

I have struggled to reconcile gentle parenting with how to deal with our children as the little sinners that they are. Sometimes that little sin nature is just so apparent!  Is it possible to deal with sin gently? Christian gentle parenting seems to be a minority.  Maybe it is about balancing knowing they are sinners but remembering they are a soul – a soul I can help nurture.


I was going to write a post about nursing in public.  About how maybe the stories that make the news of women being harassed are actually only a small sample of what happens when women breastfeed in public.  About how maybe our outrage over these occasional happenings is biased by how little we hear of people breastfeeding in public and nothing happening.  That maybe the culture at large is improving in the normalizing of nursing.

I was going to write about our trip to Mystic Aquarium yesterday. About how busy it was and how hot!  And about how many people I saw feeding their babies in various ways, and no one seemed to care.  About how one woman I saw using a cover, one woman was not. About how I fed Elliot at the sea lion show and at a grilled cheese cafe in the shops next door to the aquarium without a cover and hardly anyone even noticed what I was doing.

I was going to write about how I don’t use a nursing cover anymore, not even in church.  Because it is too much of a hassle, too unwieldy, too hot, too hard to see what is going on . . . and maybe because with my second baby I can get him latched on a little quicker and my boob isn’t hanging out for quite as many moments.

I was going to write about how I went to a gathering hosted by my former workplace and I could tell people were not used to seeing what I was doing, but then just went back to what they were doing.

I was going to . . . but then I read an article about a baby dying because of a police officer trying to arrest a mom for breastfeeding in public.  And it was graphic and horrible and made me feel sick and so very sad.

And then I was going to write about that article, and I did a little looking to find out that it was satire.  I guess I don’t understand the point of satire.  Too many articles get sent around and too many people take them seriously.  Maybe I am just too gullible or too sensitive.

I was going to write about another satire piece being shared around recently about a woman breastfeeding her 12-year-old in public.  People were so appalled and it was extreme, but more importantly people seemed to not realize that nursing into even toddlerhood is the norm worldwide and is good for mom and baby (besides the fact that people seem to not realize it was satire).  One comment by a friend of a friend (commenting on a friend of a friend posting the article on facebook) said she thought the golden rule was you stopped when they got teeth!  Goodness no, my dear, goodness no (unless of course other circumstances prevent breastfeeding longer or that’s what a person decides to do – no judgment there, do what you got to do [p.s. I have a post about judging in the works – I don’t like that I have to qualify what I say to try and avoid even seeming like I am judging others]).

So I guess I don’t know anymore what I was going to write about.

So here is a picture of Leland eating a gigantic PB&J (in public)