Wednesday, April 18, 2007

A New Take on Training

Today, a child at my house used the back yard as a toilet. Though this is not a new or heretofore unknown phenomenon, it hasn't happened for a long time; I was hoping it would never happen again! But, alas, it has. Now, I get to embark on yet another adventure with toilet training. The reason I am embarking on yet another adventure is because each of my four older children have, at one time or another, tried the same toilet-testing technique.

Many years ago, when my oldest daughter was but three (and I had two other children, in diapers), my husband had a brilliant idea. If our very-recently-toilet-trained three year old couldn't make it to the toilet, she could go outside in the bushes. Boy, oh boy, talk about a license to kill. All of a sudden, our little girl had NO accidents, but our grass had lots of brown spots surrounded by lush green rings. She even showed a visitor's son how to leave his mark on the great outdoors.

Of course, having told one child (even though we changed that directive, QUICKLY) she could go outside, each child has gotten the first message without the second. Hmmm? Wonder how that happened? Don't tell me! Now, with two three year olds (my sister and niece are here) running around, yet another "generation" of kids are challenging my sanity.

So, now for my new take on toilet training; if you rub dogs noses in their pxxp when they leave deposits in the house, will it work to rub a kid's nose in it when a kid pxxps in the yard? I'm not sure it will work, I'm pretty sure I don't want to clean up the resulting mess, and I'm not brave enough to try it. But, it is something to ponder. If I rubbed a little girl's nose in her mess in the back yard, would she try making a mess in the backyard ever again?!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Path of Least Resistance

You've undoubtedly heard the saying that water takes the path of least resistance. Over the years I've learned that other things also follow that pattern; men, children, clutter, things like that. Recently, though, I had a startling realization; mothers also tend to follow the path of least resistance, or at least this one does.

Now, don't get me wrong. My children will let you know without a doubt that I am not a pushover when it comes to issues of discipline or character development. A few of them will tell you how mean I can be. While by no means perfect, I most certainly strive to give my children what they need, just simply what they want because it is easier. But, in certain areas, I have chosen the path of least resistance and only in hindsight do I see the consequences.

From my earliest childhood, my dream was to be a nurse. Yes, I know, that is very typical and traditional, but it was my dream. My other dream was to go to Africa or India and take care of orphans and peole who needed medical care. I wanted to save the world, one bandaid at a time. Somewhere along the way, I met Mr. Incredible (no, not the super hero, but a real super guy), fell in love and started having babies. After my oldest daughter was born, I went back to nursing, but only for a few months. It was just too difficult to have someone else telling me what my daughter was doing; I didn't want to miss out on her milestones just to do something with the letters behind my name, no matter how hard I worked for them. So, I quit. Since then, I've let go of many aspects of my dream; not only am I staying home and out of the hospital, my nursing license is long-since expired, and the only hope I have of going to Africa is to visit friends who are ministering there. Not only that, but my second career as a spiritual life coach is on hold indefinitely while I focus on ministering to my family. The path of least resistance was to let go of dreams, then just stop dreaming.

Over the course of years that I've been focusing on letting go of dreams, God has fulfilled some dreams I didn't realize I had. I am beginning to enjoy the opportunity (instead of the burden) of making my house a home, creating a safe haven for my family and others that is more than just a place to eat and sleep. Having children was never on my list of things to do before I die, but I would miss out on SO much in life without my blessings, and they are blessings! My oldest daughter dreams of writing (rather like Anne of Green Gables, in many ways), but I never really did. It is only in hindsight that I realize how very much I enjoy writing, and how many opportunities I have to do so (we publish a monthly newsletter and send a weekly e-mail update for people who invest in our non-profit organization). As a result of opportunities to speak to different groups, I've discovered God has gifted me and given me a desire to do more public speaking; again, one He has already been filling. Today I was invited to a meeting of the parents' association where my girls go to school. Though feeling very much like a third wheel (and not unlike a child sitting at the grow-ups' table), questioning why I even came, it went well. In the end, several others in attendance said they really appreciated me coming and felt like I contributed a great deal to the meeting. It was a totally new experience, in a completely unknown territory, but it was fun!

I've taken the path of least resistance, pursuing and then letting go of my dreams. I'm only beginning to realize that though the territory is unknown and the dreams not yet dreamed, I can enjoy and embrace the dreams God has for me. (For more information on a personal relationship with God, visit Only God knows what the future holds, but He is beginning to open my eyes to the fact that He truly loves me and has a wonderful plan for my life; one that doesn't include just sacrifice. It looks different than I expected, but it isn't quite as bleak as it first appeared. The lesson I'm learning, though, is that it requires much more effort from me to embrace new hopes and dreams, to explore new territory and take on new challenges. This mom is no longer going to settle for the path of least resistance.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

The Ultimate April Fool's Day Prank

Ok, maybe after having five girls, I'm a little excited about having a boy. Maybe I'm even proud of my son, feeling very special that I can finally dress a baby in blue. Until last Sunday (April Fool's Day), though, I didn't have any idea it mattered to me so much. How, you may wonder, did I make such a startling discovery? Well, let me tell you. It has to do with our time-honored tradition surrounding April Fool's Day.

April Fool's Day at our house has taken on epic proportions. It is, in a way, our favorite holiday. Girls plan for months to pull off the perfect prank. Two years in a row, we were tee-pee'd, by our own daughters! One year, the girls even tee-pee'd us in our bed! Ok, I admit, we played along with that one a litte. And Chris played along with the girls when they put parchment paper over the toilet bowl instead of plastic wrap. This was the first year in many that I wasn't the one soaked by the rubber banded kitchen spray nozzle, only because I didn't do it! But, the prank pulled by my older daughters has got to be the best April Fool's Day prank ever in the history of our family. The girls dressed my son in pink!

Now, to really understand and appreciate the success of this prank, I have to give you the whole story. First, I dressed my boy, as I usually do, in appropriate boy clothes before heading downstairs. Since it was a Sunday, he was dressed for church. We enjoyed a leisurely breakfast of green eggs and ham (yes, we really ate green eggs and ham, like in the book) before loading into the car to head to church. As I was wrapping up final details from our mornings' adventures, I asked my oldest daughter to buckle her brother in the car. She quickly responded she'd buckled him in already; that should have been my first clue. A last minute scramble to cover the baby with a blanket drew a little curiosity, but not enough for me to figure out something was up. Not until a final check by Dad did we discover the reason for the above described behavior; the baby boy was dressed in pink!

If it had only been a pink dress my daughters dressed their brother in, it would have been funny, but not the prank of all-time. What takes this prank up several notches is what happened in addition to the pink dress. Every detail was covered! The diaper bag had been completely transformed; the wipes container was princess pink instead of boy blue, an extra dress (purple instead of pink) took the place of the pants and shirt, even a bonnet, EVERYTHING was girly! Because the discovery was made before we left home, I had time to grab a change of clothes before running out the door to church. What I did not count on was the creative energy my daughters would exert to make sure their brother arrived at church in pink. They hid the extra clothes! That's right; my daughters (they all collectively take credit) hid the extra clothes I grabbed, so their brother had to go into church wearing a pink dress! A few people commented on how cute my baby girl was, too!

When the pastor asked if anyone new was visiting, my husband stood up to introduce his new "daughter." Everyone howled with laughter! Even a week later, people were still laughing, asking for details. Thankfully, before the experience was over, I was able to see the joke and laugh. I must admit, though, it took a while to embrace the humor. You see, I'm very proud to have a baby I can dress in blue. But, maybe not quite so proud as I was. After all, what is April Fool's Day for if not to make a fool of someone, especially your mom, in front of dozens of people. This is definitely the best April Fool's Day prank ever pulled in our family!