I’m a stubborn person. So are my children. And this quote runs through my head at LEAST once a day.
I’m a stubborn person. So are my children. And this quote runs through my head at LEAST once a day.
In 2008, with a tornado nearly touching the ground in the area around our town, my first child made his presence known in the world. After a long and grueling labor, my midwife instructed my husband as he caught our first-born and then proceeded to warm him with kangaroo care as he brought our boy to me. It was both an awe-inspiring and terrifying moment. Having spent 23 hours in labor and 1 hour pushing, it was exhilarating to be finished with the most physically demanding event of my life, but also frightening because my son was crying and screaming his little head off. I looked at my husband in terror and fear as I realized – no one told me this might happen. Three minutes in and he already can’t stand me?
I’ve always been concerned about motherhood. In fact, it wasn’t until after my 20th birthday that I even considered parenthood might be an avenue of interest to me. Up until that point, I was determined to never have children. I didn’t want to bring kids into a world with pain, grief, loss, and sadness. When my biological clock started ticking, it started ticking very loudly. By the time I had met my husband, I was ready to start having babies. In fact, I dreamed of a huge family. My earlier worries had dissipated. But I still worried about being a mother. What are the characteristics of a good mother?
In 2011, we had the joy of bringing our second son into the world in the local birth center. It was so peaceful and homey in the birth center, such an aura of calm and joy that we loved. On the way home from having lunch with my husband at his work, the contractions started. They picked up and we were sure that at our regularly scheduled appointment with our midwife she would notice some progression. At our appointment we still weren’t in the THERE part of labor that requires one to be at the birth center, so we went home and continued to wait. 26 very long and very painful hours later, I could feel that it was time to meet our youngest child. Our midwife delivered him – actually, there were two midwives present at the time, I think. He came out with his bag of water completely in tact, which helps make his birth story as interesting as his brothers. (Isn’t every birth story interesting, though?) He didn’t cry as much as his brother, but he was such a goofy looking baby and I was so much more calm the second time around.
I still worry about parenting and being a mom. I’m overprotective and I know it. I worry about what will happen when my children are out of my sight. I worry that I will be a terrible mother. I worry that I’m going to not figure out the right way to handle parenting or that I don’t spend enough time with the boys or that I spend too much time with them. Do I feed them right? Do I discipline them well? Are they going to be strong, kind, confident boys? Will they be creative, smart, free to be themselves?
On this Mother’s Day, I think about all the mothers in my life. My paternal grandmother is one of the most amazing people who I have ever met. I wish I could write all the stories she has told me over my lifetime so that I can learn from them even after she is gone. Mothers can make such a difference in our lives – both positive and negative. There is much power in that station. I hope that I will be a positive influence for my boys. They mean the world to me.
Last week I had the pleasure of attending a special webinar with Latina Mom Bloggers and Pull-Ups to listen to potty training advice from experts Dr. Andres Cotton and Jeannette Kaplun. This is very timely advice for me because my youngest is showing definite interest in using the potty – he’s even gone on it a few times himself! Needless to say, I was delighted to have the opportunity to listen to advice from professionals, and I was even given an opportunity to ask questions myself! As a result, I have some information to share with you – both about the experts, and their expert advice.
Dr. Cotton is a pediatrician in Miami who works both at Miami Children’s Hospital and has his own practice. He has 17 years of experience as a pediatrician, including some volunteer work with a Haiti Medical Relief Team. He has done a lot of great work and has worked with many parents, so he definitely has a wealth of knowledge to impart! It was really neat to hear him during the webinar because he was more comfortable speaking in Spanish and I don’t hear a lot of that anymore!
Jeannette Kaplun is a really awesome woman – condensing her bio into a single paragraph will take a bit of effort on my part! Beginning in the early 2000’s, she blogged about her pregnancy and motherhood. She’s been in the media on TV, radio, online and is also a published author and conference speaker! And on top of all that, she’s potty trained her own two children. She really was awesome to listen to through the webinar!
Dr. Cotton and Jeannette both had great advice during the webinar. The bloggers in this campaign sent in questions for them, which was fun. We definitely had an opportunity to learn, and it was also a very fun and casual webinar with lots of laughter. The questions were interesting – I don’t know how some of the other bloggers came up with such awesome questions! After the webinar, I felt that there were five top tips that they shared that I will also be using during my latest potty training adventure with my youngest son.
Top 5 Potty Training Tips from Pull-Ups Experts
I think the most important thing to remember is that potty training is a process – it’s not going to happen all at once, it may not happen in the way you thought you knew was going to work, but it will happen.
Pull-Ups is motivating Moms to stick with Potty Training. Visit Pull-Ups on their Facebook page here, and watch this video to learn more about potty training! You can also reach out to Pull-Ups on Twitter – they’re great at responding!
Volunteering has always been important to me, but since I’ve had children, I love seeing how volunteering and helping others is important to them. Watching a child learn and grow and take a real interest in helping other people is a really awesome experience. It’s one of those moments – like when your child says a prayer in his own words – that brings tear to your eyes and warms your heart. The second best experience is watching another child making a difference, and that’s exactly what you will find in Little Red Wagon.
Warning: this trailer will likely bring tears to your eyes! I will confess, I totally cried when I watched it!
Little Red Wagon is an inspiring story about a 7-year old boy named Zach Bonner who heard about the kids without water and other supplies after Hurricane Charley in 2004. Using his red wagon, he started collecting bottled water and other items for the kids affected by the hurricane. The next year, he formed the non-profit Little Red Wagon to help underprivileged kids, and his good works are still continuing. This movie tells his story, and here’s the official blurb:
When Zach sets out to help homeless children in America in the wake of Hurricane Charley, by walking across the country, he must overcome bureaucrats and blisters and capture the hearts of his fractured family and the entire nation.
The movie was a hit at last year’s Heartland Film Festival, and this year it won the “Truly Inspiring Movie Award” – and now it’s your chance to see the movie! Screenwriter Patrick Sheane Duncan (from Mr. Holland’s Opus) and director (and Indiana native!) David Anspaugh who also directed Rudy and Hoosiers worked together with Philanthropy Project to create this movie about Zach Bonner’s life. It’s definitely a must-see movie! If you’re in Indianapolis, head on over to AMC 17 to catch Little Red Wagon!
So you’ve heard about the replacement referees that the NFL has used this season, right? We’re a football family so it’s big news to us, and since it’s been in the newspaper and on the news a bit, I imagine you’ve heard about it too. The deal is that the NFL and the NFLRA (National Football League Referee Association) are having contract disputes, just like when the players were locked out last year, and just like in baseball that year where we didn’t have a World Series because they couldn’t agree. Does anyone even remember baseball anymore? After that year, a ton of fans were lost, and it looks like football may be heading that way too.
Just what is it that the NFL commissioner and owners have against the real refs that is causing all this trouble?
Apparently those three issues are the big problems. And the best part? There are only 120 NFL referees. Goodell and the owners can’t find a way to make a compromise with 120 refs. Unfortunately, the backup refs that are currently replacing the real officials are causing huge issues – it seems they’re more worried about making the big calls than the ones that actually cause a difference, like the missed pass interference call that would’ve made a difference in the end of the Green Bay and Seattle game. Even President Obama is calling for the real refs to come back. Not only is the dispute causing problems for the players and the coaches, it’s also a problem for the fans. Not only is the integrity of the game up in the air, we also have to consider what a lockout like this can be teaching our children.
I know that not every family watches SportsCenter as a family event, but ours does and I’m sure other families are at least somewhat knowledgeable about what goes on in the sports industry too. We have two boys, so I’m trying to learn as much as I can about sports now so that I’ll know what they’re talking about in 10 years. So what does it teach our kids when the NFL and the refs are in a labor dispute and the real refs can’t call the games, which leads to missed calls, refs attempting to officiate the games of their favorite teams, etc?
I think one of the most difficult lessons that we’re learning now and that this dispute is teaching our children is that if you’re not considered for the professional league, then you don’t have to be able to do the best job. All of the replacement refs are officials that would typically be calling high school or D3 or lower college games, and they’re making some pretty terrible calls. So I suppose our boys can expect that if they play football, the refs will most definitely make awful calls throughout their football career, unless and until they make it to the professionals, in which case the refs will likely be somewhat better. The best the boys could hope for is to go to a D1 or D2 school so they could have better refs during college.
We’re also teaching our children that it’s ok to not agree and make compromises and to just take your ball and go home if you can’t agree with the people you’re working with. As a mom, this is a topic that I struggle with because I always teach my boys to share. Yes, they can take turns, but in the end they’re both going to hurt a little to make a compromise. If the NFL is convinced that the issue that is causing the most problem is the 401k vs Pension issue, then why could they not agree to go ahead and grandfather in the current refs while all new refs will have the 401k plan? Maybe I don’t understand retirement well enough, but when the commissioner is making $10million per year, I would assume that they could afford to throw the refs a bone on the retirement issue since that’s what the NFL is saying is the holding point.
The third point that bothers me from this whole issue is what happens to the players and coaches if they make any reference to the replacement refs not being up to snuff – they’re fined by the NFL. I often don’t agree with the disciplinary actions that the commissioner decides on, but this on is really aggravating. I always teach my boys that they need to respect their elders, but not that they can’t question authority. I don’t want my boys blindly following someone because they’ll be punished otherwise. It’s clear that the referees are not making the best calls, but when the players and coaches have mentioned it, they’ve been treated to fines. So when asked by the press, they can either lie, say no comment, or change the subject. I’d rather just not have the players and coaches be bullied into providing false answers.
For the sake of the fans, please, END the dispute! In my opinion, the NFL has room to bend. Nothing that the NFLRA is requesting seems all that bad, although I don’t think I’d press for the income, but that’s just me – our family makes it by on much less. Can we appreciate football with the replacement refs? No. Is the season going to be forever marked by this debacle? Yes. Let me stand by the game that we love, we just want to watch a decent, fair game that doesn’t bully or take advantage of those with less room to give. So please, Goodell, make a deal.
Did you take prescription medication as a child? Did you have any classmates who did? When I was young, I don’t really remember anyone my age taking medications. Of course, they may have at home, but I don’t remember any medications being passed out at school. In fact, it was unusual in high school when a diabetic classmate had to take insulin. These days, though, our children are facing a much different school day – one in which the school nurse is a medication dispensary. The epidemic of children on prescription medication scares me, but the number of psychiatric diagnoses for children scares me even more. I always hope that there is a way out of such problems without medication, and Marilyn Wedge has done an excellent job of bringing another option to the plate. Marilyn Wedge uses clear explanations of complex therapy concepts to make hope to parents and caregivers of troubled and troublesome children real in her book Pills Are Not For Preschoolers.
Family therapist Marilyn Wedge has been in practice for over twenty years, and through that time she has seen a number of families and children. In the introduction, she remarks on the increase of psychiatric diagnoses and children being medicated for them in the US – it’s such a prevalent situation that she felt there was a need for another option, which she presents in her book Pills Are Not For Preschoolers. The chapters discuss various case studies from her own practice of children and families who have sought her help based on recommendations from family, friends, pediatricians, school counselors, and teachers. Each case study is used as an example to show how a particular therapeutic technique is used, how she learned to perfect her therapy sessions, and what she has done to avoid medication and psychiatric diagnoses for children. It is a powerful book where I was tearing up during descriptions of how a child transformed and cheering for the families. The book reads with a quick pace and transitions smoothly from one chapter to the next. I feel as though I’ve learned a good bit about family therapy, and I have a solid foundation of knowledge about why Wedge believes there is an alternative to medication for our children.
One of the typical characteristics of medical books tend to be either a dry, humorless, clinical approach to the topic or, on the other side of the spectrum, the author attempts to make the concepts that can be related to easily by the average reader by writing with abstract philosophical sections and waxing poetic. Wedge does an excellent job of steering clear from either extreme and presents the complicated world of family therapy, system theory, and strategic therapy in a way that brings the topic to the understanding of anyone – especially parents. For the parent who is dealing with a troubled child and wondering where to turn next, it proves a very understandable, straight forward, and readable text. It’s filled with information, explanations, history, techniques, and examples, but Wedge has a talent as a writer that allows her to reach the reader and impart her knowledge without it being a painful or tiring exchange.
A detail that really caught my eye in her book is the descriptions of each person that she uses to elaborate the therapy techniques and ideas that she is expressing. When she describes a patient or parents, she includes a physical description with hair and eye color, age, and even a description of the clothes that the individual was wearing at the first meeting. I found this level of detail to be intriguing – I wondered if she wrote it down as they walked in, or if she remembered it – as well as a very easy way to make me relate closer to the individual. Once I knew how he or she looked, I was able to get an idea of who the person was, and I think that may have been the point. Once she made the name into a real person for me, I was able to take what she was saying about the therapy as a more personal topic, where I was hoping that the doe-eyed girl would really be helped by her strategies, and I could see how she began to form her hypotheses about how the parents acted at home when she noted their perfectly pressed clothing and elegant dress. It was as though she was giving me a glimpse through her eye and showing me how a family therapist could work – it almost made me think that when I grew up, I could be a family therapist.
The most important part of Pills Are Not For Preschoolers for me is that it is a book that parents who are having problems with their children could read and use as a resource. While she does not recommend that parents attempt strategic therapy which is very complex, she does offer some excellent parenting suggestions that can be used by any parent. To me, it almost came off as a manual of what to do to make your family less likely to need the services of a family therapist. The appendix even includes some information on how to find a (good) family therapist, as well as the references and notes about her resources and an index which allows the reader to easily look up the topic of most pressing concern. For example, if you’d like to learn more about a particular therapy strategy, you can look each individual one up, or even look up the symptoms displayed in each case. It’s a very reader-friendly book, and as a parent I appreciated the option of reading it all at once or reading the most pertinent chapter of my preference.
In the end, I would recommend that all parents read this book. The examples and parenting strategies that she has included are a jumping off point of what do and what not to do as a parent. So many children are being medicated these days, that it’s almost guaranteed that at some point someone may suggest that one of your children may be afflicted with a psychiatric condition. For parents who are dealing with a troubled child, I think this book would be a great shoulder on which to lean during a difficult time – and I think that the information about therapy will help when choosing a family therapist. Without a doubt, I would seek the counsel of a family therapist before allowing my child to consume prescription medication, and I think that a reader of Wedge’s work would understand why I hold that stance. In Pills Are Not For Preschoolers, Marilyn Wedge provides a straight forward, reader friendly description of family therapy techniques that can help reframe behavioral problems in children as conquerable symptoms of problems within the family organism.
Pills Are Not For Preschoolers is on tour with TLC Book Tours, check out the reviews from these other tour hosts:
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Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher to facilitate my review. My opinions are honest and my own.
How often do your kids go outside to play? When I grew up, my parents owned several acres out in the country – there was never a shortage of activities that we could do outside. Between the animals, woods, garden, and outbuildings, it seemed like there was always something to discover. We even tried sitting out on the roof of the porch like the kids in Dawson’s Creek (can you tell I’m still watching the series on Netflix?). One of my major mom guilt factors now is that I feel like my kids aren’t getting enough time outside. Between my responsibilities, the baby’s nap, and my husband’s work schedule, there are days when I don’t get them outside. And I feel awful about it. It’s partly because we live in town – I don’t feel comfortable letting my little ones wander without an eye on them constantly. As they’re getting older, that’s not as worrisome, but still – not enough outdoors time. So when I received a copy of the Nature Play at Home guide for parents and caregivers in my email from the National Wildlife Federation and Natural Learning Initiative of North Carolina State University, my interest was duly piqued.
It turns out I’m not the only parent that’s concerned about my children getting the benefits of learning about nature. We’ve all heard that the obesity epidemic in the US is affecting children – and greatly. And then there’s also the increased rates of children diagnosed with psychiatric disorders like ADHD, ODD, and OCD. I’m one of those parents that’s adamantly against medicating children and I generally assume that when my kids are acting out there’s a reason behind it – usually because they’re bored or I’m not doing my part to teach them the right lessons. But I’ve found that when I prepare projects or “lessons” for my kids to play and interact with, they’re not only learning but they’re also doing things that keep their brains more occupied than watching a movie (which is not to say that they don’t watch movies. Shamefully, I must confess that they watch more than their fair share). So the idea of creating a nature play space for my boys using the materials and locations that I already have was very intriguing.
Since we live in Indiana, I can almost guarantee that there will be some winter days that are too cold or too windy for me to take my boys out. This year it won’t be as bad because my youngest is now over 1 year (sniff, sniff, I was so not ready for his birthday last weekend!), so I won’t be as worried as when he was a newborn last year. The guide-book from the NWF and NLI describes how we can use a space like our screened in front porch to create a great nature discovery area for kids. There’s even information on how we can use the backyard to let the kids discover different types of nature than what we see every day here in Indiana. For those living in the city or in apartments, the guide does a great job of providing examples and explaining how techniques can be adapted to a balcony – there’s a way for every child to learn more about the outdoors and about nature. If you have a community garden, playgroup, childcare setting, or other group site, there are even ideas on how to make larger outdoor play spaces for entire communities.
The best part about the Nature Play at Home guide is that it’s a free download. Yep, that’s right – all this information is entirely free for us to use. Not only will it help our kids develop their imaginations, get them playing outside, hopefully reduce obesity and medicalization risks (I always hope for these reductions with every activity!), the advice is free and offered to all parents and caregivers. If you would like to grab your own copy of the guide, simply click here and fill out your name, email address and zip code. You can opt in or out of future mailings, and download the guide for free. I would LOVE to see a nature play center in my community, but for now just preparing one for my own kids will have to do!
Disclosure: I have received no compensation for posting about this free guide. I received the information about the availability of the guide and downloaded it on my own.
Joanna is a stay-at-home mother of 2 young boys. She enjoys reading, writing, cooking, socializing, and constantly struggles to find new and better ways to manage the home. Read More…