Monthly Archives: November 2006

Avoiding Burnout


Recently a friend asked how I deal with fustration, burn-out, etc.  I struggle just as much with this as I think any mom of four tiny children would! I always seem to be fighting some kind of discouragement, but there are a few things I've personally found helpful. I think the biggest thing is to truly *love* our husbands, our children, our home – basically the work God has given us in this season.

One thing that helps is that I try to take advantage of Matt's being home on the weekends or evenings to take a little “break”, without overwhelming him.  For example, yesterday a young family was over to play with the kids, and one of my daughters was NOT being diligent to do her sweeping job (which was not only disobedient, but it was also rude to our guests as she couldn't play with them the whole time she was dawdling).  I knew how easy it would be for me to get frustrated, so I just quietly told her to go wait in her room (this happened three times), and I asked Matt to take care of it.  He graciously did.  He also watches the girls one night a week so I can get away for an hour (I take an Irish dance class which I LOVE).
It helps me immensely to get enough sleep at night.  This happens to be an area I really struggle in being diligent about.  Even when I'm tired, it's my inclination to stay up too late  – whether it's to get things done while the girls are asleep, finish a movie instead of just turning it off till later, read “just one more chapter”, or something else.  I am trying to learn that “it is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late and eat the bread of sorrows, for so He giveth His beloved sleep.” Ps. 127  I know the days I get enough rest, it is far easier to be patient with my girls, and to enjoy the day in general.
I personally have to make sure I eat enough.  I've always been a bit hypoglycemic and I get SO dizzy if I don't eat, and eat quite a bit. Therefore I do get up earlier than everyone else to eat a big enough breakfast.  I have my girls stay in their beds till I come get them in the morning (after a rather frightening night when Isabelle woke up at 3 thinking it was morning, and I heard her walking about and thought there was a prowler). This also helps make sure I have a few minutes to “fuel” myself to start the day.  They can talk, sing and read with eachother, but they do have to wait till I get them up (except for running to the bathroom and back). Of course, it's much easier to get up and eat if I've gone to sleep at a good hour.
This is probably silly, but sometimes it's the little things that help me.  Thanks to Kendra from preschoolersandpeace, we've discovered the Milly Molly Mandy books, and we love them.  When I'm feeling like I don't care for my job all that much, sometimes we'll read those together instead of whatever school books we had planned.  The little stories have a way of reminding me of the delightfulness of home-keeping, the joy in simple things, and the beauty of the family. They may be little childrens' books, but they have a way of inspiring me to love my job, and to do it joyfully rather than pining away to do something else.  Some of my other favorite books for this are “My Mommy, My Teacher” by Johannah Bluedorn, Holly Pond Hill books (cute little prayers and poems set amid adorable cottages and bunnies – they make me want to “kick off your shoes and swing in bare feet”!), Narnia books (they inspire me to seek to be noble!), even the picture at the top of this post inspired me!  The other day Matt was SO sweet: he took the girls to the Christmas lights park and told me to stay home and take a bubble bath (he knew I was tired). So I enjoyed a hot bubble bath and perused and old Victoria magazine (sadly, they've discontinued it). Sometimes looking in magazines like that can cause me to covet, but this time it was particularly refreshing to me. I just so enjoyed perusing the pictures of children playing by the Christmas tree, the lovely feasts and homes, the beauty of home lights among snow covered lands.  For some reason it was what I needed at that moment to remind me that creating beauty in our homes (in our children's hearts, especially) is a wonderful goal, and one worthy of our time and effort.  I guess it comes down to truly loving my work (my husband, my children, my home).  When I love my work I'm less likely to burn-out, and this is a little thing that helps me remember to love it.
Lastly, but probably most importantly, the days I struggle with burnout/frustration/lack of enjoyment of the work God's given me are the days I fail to pray.  When I actually take the time to pray for my attitude and the way I care for the girls, for their particular struggles, for our day and how we spend our time, for merry hearts and enjoyment of one another, for Matt as he leads and provides for our family, etc . . .I find myself truly loving my work, much more patient, able to discipline lovingly, kindly, and properly, and able to laugh at little things and just enjoy my station.  When I don't pray (and along with this, read the Word), I don't seem to enjoy my station nearly as much!
I can't resist a couple of pictures:
We don't have the ornaments up yet, but it looks so pretty! Not quite the picture up top, but lovely to me! Oh, and the reason the window is so bright because it actually snowed and stuck!
Isabelle was so excited she got to go out in her jammies!

Cutest Baby In The World



                             At least to me . . .




                      She can raise her eyebrow like mommy!








More On Potty Training


I was asked for more potty training details, and though they're not all that exciting, I thought I'd post them here.  I like the book “Toilet Training In Less Than A Day”, which was recommended by my friend Wendy.   It's an older book which I picked up on amazon. I use a lot of techniques from the book, but I totally change much of it, too.  For starters I don't use little potty chairs.  I'm very squeamish when it comes to poopy germs and such, so I prefer that they just go in the toilet (with a little seat that sits on top).  I also don't teach them to pull down their own pants, wipe, etc in the beginning. I have no problem doing this for them for awhile till they're a bit more coordinated (I still wipe Hannah and pull her stuff back on, as she hasn't learned to dress herself yet).  I do prefer potty training fairly young – just under two – if I can, as diapers are expensive and don't always fit well in our budget!  I don't know if I'll worry about it with Juliette, though, as she's a dream cloth diaper baby, and I only use cloth with her.


So the other week with Naomi, I spent the first couple of hours in the bathroom. I chattered away about where we go potty, who else uses the toilet (listing all the people she knows), telling her how big she was to use it, etc. We fed the potty dolly, and took her potty a few times.  I offered a candy or snack to Naomi many times telling her they were “big girl treats” for learning to go potty, and let her drink as much as she would.  After about 15 minutes of this, I tried putting her on the toilet . . . nothing.  We repeated all of the above. . . .nothing.  I think the third time, she did go potty – lots of verbal praise, hugs, and a candy. And more special drinks – juice, milk, etc.  We repeated this every 15 minutes or so, till she'd gone in the right place about three times.  I must say, it is not my favorite way to spend a day (read: boring!), but it is well worth it!


The rest of the day I just set the timer for every 15 minutes, and said “it's time to go potty”. She picked up the potty thing by the end of the day, so she'd go pretty much each time I took her.  She had a few accidents, which we cleaned up quickly.  I kept her in panties so I could see right away if she “leaked” (leggings are nice, too – you can see it, but it doesn't leak out much).  That way I could tell her as she did it “No, No (firmly), we don't go potty in our panties, we keep them dry.”  I diverge from the book's method here, too, in responding to leaks/accidents.  I just calmly but firmly told her what to do, and by the end of the day (when I knew that she was able to go on the potty) I did give her a mild swat for accidents.  I know that probably sounds terrible, but it wasn't really hard enough to hurt – it was just a way to communicate that this was now in the realm of “don't do that”.  I don't know that I'd recommend it for all children at all times, but for Naomi it worked great, and over the next three days she only had a couple very small potty accidents (not even emptying her bladder – she just started, then realized “oops”, and we went to the toilet). I was having a dickens of a time trying to figure out how to get her to go poopy, and she was really trying to hold it in, I think, as she went over a day with no bowel movement.  The first time she did go in her pants, and I just calmly but decisively said “No, no, we go poopy in the toilet now.”  I took her there to remind her, then I cleaned her up and we went on about our day.  The next time she did go on the toilet, but it took her some getting used to. I related the story of her first successful poopy in my post “When It Rains . . .” if you'd like to read it – I thought it was rather funny, but I was very proud of Naomi for figuring it out so quickly.  I was going to start feeding her normal foods, knowing that she'd get diarrhea, and just keep her in a pull-up for a few days to let her have more opportunities to practice with the safeguard of a pull-up (my mom's idea), but this worked out instead, so I didn't need to.  After this, she went in the toilet each time. I was SO proud of her! 


I wasn't sure how this all would go, since she's not very verbal, but she quickly (within two days) started telling me each time she needed to go.  I changed the timer setting to 20 minutes the second day, then thirty minutes the third day; then I only reminded her if it'd been awhile and she hadn't asked).  A couple weeks into it, she has had no accidents of any kind for the last week or so (even been dry after naps) – I consider her potty trained at this point (HOORAY!).  I don't know how much is attributable to the method, but I am SO thankful this was quick and easy – it's been my favorite potty training experience so far! 


Honestly, the biggest four things about this process that I think have helped are

(1)praying (before, during, after, aloud, silently – this whole thing has been covered in prayer for patience, success, etc),

(2)giving her real panties most of the time instead of diapers, pull-ups, etc. (I am doing pull-ups at night, to save on laundry; but she's equally excited about the panties and the pull-ups!), 

(3)praising her for dry panties throughout the day (as opposed to just praising her for going potty on the toilet)

(4)just being relaxed and happy.  I wasn't really stressed at all (as I was with my first daughter – I had not a clue what I was doing!), except maybe right at the beginning. Overall this was a happy and enjoyable process (as enjoyable as potty training can be, I mean). 


I do tend to try for all or nothing.  Either my kids are diapered or they're potty training/trained – no real in between.  Training Naomi at this age was somewhat experimental, since she is a bit younger and doesn't say many words, but as it worked so well, I don't plan to go back to diapers at all. 


I've yet to have a child regress after potty training – I just haven't let that be an option when they're awake. I don't discipline for accidents if they happen once – only if they become a habit that doesn't seem to be health-related.  I have had a daughter who had a few potty accidents which quickly stopped after I gave that child some special one-on-one time – the need for snuggling was apparently manifesting itself in potty accidents.  So I do try to weigh the whole picture. However, I don't worry at all about naps or nights till they're around three.  Hannah was dry at night for a few months, then just started wetting the bed at night again.  Isabelle did the same thing at around 30 months.  I just stick a cloth diaper, or trainer on them at night till it goes away. I suppose that's not the greatest thing to do, but it works.  I really like what Kendra said about not worrying, as they'll be trained by junior high!  I apply this particularly to sleep times.  Isabelle's now dry at night consistently, and has been for quite awhile, but I'm sticking with cloth dipes/trainers at night for the littler ones!  There are some great ones at!


Happy Autumn Pictures


Hannah with the sweet little Venetian parasol from Aunt Kiki

It's so cute I'm almost afraid to let them play with it . . .


The fairy tale puppet show, from Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, also compliments of sweet Auntie Kiki


I believe Isabelle was acting out Beauty and The Beast


Naomi being cute!


Juliette (whom we've affectionately named Babyette) says:”mmmmm, bread”


Babyette in the ergo


Hannah actually had enough hair for a ponytail after bath – it lasted about five minutes till her hair dried, but she was mighty proud of it!


Isabelle “climbing” a tree (we do occasionally go outside!)


What could be better than a leaf-raking pile?


Naomi and Hannah ready for some good ol' Sabbath feasting (tacos – our favorite! and my first double crust pie – not perfect, but it's a start)


More leaves . . .


“Hmm, should I eat these?” (yes, she did)


Hannah “swimming” in the dolly cradle


Isabelle working hard to make lovely little Thanksgiving placecards


Matt took my picture while I was setting the Thanksgiving table


Daddy with his girls on a lunch break


Giving baby sister love


ballerina Belle, who's rather obsessed with my scarf!


hanging out in the toy box


Hannah pushing Juliette in the cart


Turnabout Is Fair Play . . .


After Matt was so kind as to come up with a list of my oddities, I decided to see if I could *tag* him.  Of course, in his good humour, he graciously obliged. I was going to say it's odd that he has no desire to learn to dance and he likes The Simpsons, but he informs me these are not strange in the slightest for a guy.  So, with his help, here's the list of nine odd things about my dear sweet husband:


1.  He likes to compare himself with Martin Luther, but not for the theological reasons one might expect.  You see, Martin Luther was infamous for his rather potent and robust-sounding flatulence – Matt finds this comforting.  Can you guess why?

2. This will be hard to explain, and I found it SO weird as he was telling me tonight.  While he's driving (when he's bored), he keeps his jaw shut/clenched on the majority of the road, but when he passes a driveway or adjoining roadway he opens his mouth, keeping it open until he's passed the adjoining road or driveway, then clenching it shut again – how odd is that???!!!

3.  If you watch him while he's feeding our babies, every time he would want them to open their mouth for a bite, you'll notice that his mouth is open.  Then, when they should shut their mouth, he clamps his shut too (ok, sometimes I've found myself doing this . . .but I'm sure I get it from him)

4.  For our entire time we were dating, and the early part of our marriage, he refused to let me see his feet – he'd sleep in socks to avoid it. I still have no idea why.

5. He genuinely loves the Victorian look, and loves to paint things in the shabby chic/cottage rose style. He says the guys at his work think this is weird, but I happen to think it's fabulous!

6.  Though he loves the result of it, he can't stand the sight of childbirth (he gets so squeamish that he almost passes out each time).  Yet, he's fascinated by watching autopsies (as well as other gruesome aspects of his job), and goes to each one he can (I could never be a cop!), annoying the doctors (his words) wanting to watch everything up close and hear all the details.

7. He can fall asleep anywhere, anytime, no matter what.  He says this is also normal for a guy – sometimes I envy it while I'm lying awake at night wondering why I can't sleep.

8.  He's incapable of actually being still – there is always some part of him moving (a finger twitching, spinning his wedding ring, flicking his knife opened and shut, and in general tapping his hands to the beat of the song in his head).

9. It's a little-known fact that the nickname his sergeant gave to him in the police academy is “Tinkerbell”.  Are you curious why?  During an inspection in the academy, he was instructed to remove his shirt for the “fat caliper” to measure his percentage of body fat.  At that time his drill sergeant noticed the (rather large) tattoo on his back of a dancing-skeleton-fairy-thing. Literally.  It was the logo for some band he used to like.  The sergeant said “What's a good Christian boy like you doing with a tattoo like that?”  He responded simply “It was a bad night, Sergeant.” From then on, each time the recruits ran laps on the track, he could hear his sergeant calling out loudly (as drill sergeants are known to do) “I want to see you FLY, Tinkerbell!” Let this be a lesson to you that getting a tattoo (if you feel the need to do so), should not be a spur of the moment decision!

*10. Oh, here are some silly food things: he's a strict “separatist” with his food – can't stand it if one type of food touches another. And I just recently discovered he doesn't like me to cut his bacon in half to cook it (I've been doing that so it fits in the frying pan I like); he knows it tastes the same, but he likes it in one long piece.

*11. Last one, I promise, but he just reminded me of this.  He is very particular to leave his shoes together in neat little pairs . . . but never, ever, ever in the proper spot – sometimes I'll find a neat little pair of shoes in the middle of a room! 


Thanksgiving Memories


This was a special day.  After a hectic morning at the doctor with my four munchkins, I was happy to let them all lay down for a rest.  It worked out nicely, as it gave me some quiet time to start the Thanksgiving baking.  I made a pumpkin cream cheese pie and remembered special times with my Grandma Pat and Grandpa Bill.  Grandpa's pie was always the cherished treat around holidays. I added the pumpkin in a few years later just for Thanksgiving.  I'm so happy I got to learn to make it with my grandparents just a few years ago! I also made some yummy cranberry sauce. 


Then I got the girls up and settled in little chairs to “help by watching”, and started the intimidating task of recreating Matt's Hungarian Great-Grandmother's recipe for stuffing.  Eight eggs, seven soaked bread slices, a turkey liver, parsley, celery leaf, bread crumbs, bread cubes, onions, spices, a few millions other ingredients and a couple of phone calls to my mother-in-law later I think I did a pretty good job! Now the last thing making me nervous is actually cooking the turkey – I keep getting conflicting reports on how long it takes.  But these things have a way of working out (shall I call it God's kindness?), and I'm sure it will be wonderful!  One family of guests fell ill, and had to cancel coming, so I'm really hoping God will send others to feast with us.


After we put the two littlest ones to bed tonight (we decided two was a good cut-off age for staying up late for marshmallow roasting and such), we had a lovely little pre-Thanksgiving celebration.  Matt made a fire, and we gathered around it with a tiny bowl and twenty corn kernels.  Thanks to a wonderful suggestion from a fellow blogger, we had a sweet time with a little Thanksgiving game.  Each of us had five kernels, and we talked about the pilgrims – the sacrifices they made so we could live in a land where we are free to worship God.  Also how they nearly starved (only having a ration of five corn kernels at one point), but God sustained their colony and their new land. We went around in a circle, and on our turn we each put one kernel in the bowl while sharing one thing we were thankful for. It was just a really special little time, and I wanted to keep track of what we were each thankful for (though of course there are many more than five things!)


Matt said he was thankful for:

1. His wife 

2. His girls

3. his job which provides for us

4. God blessing us so richly by making us His children and giving us His Word

5. Being blessed with good health.


I was thankful for:

1. That God sets the lonely in families (Ps. 68:6), and thus He brought me and Matt together (my long-cherished dream come true!) 

2. our girls

3. our home

4. special times of celebration to remember God's goodness, like feasts and holidays

5. my growing friendships with my sisters (and other out-of-state familymembers) even as we live far apart now.


Isabelle said she was thankful for:

1.  Her sisters

2.  Daddy and mommy

3.  The warm fire

4.  Marshmallows

5.  Our books (girl after my own heart!)


Hannah (who seemed rather more interested in playing with the little kernels) said she was thankful for:

1. These little corn kernels

2.  Marshmallows

3.  Raisins and bread (can you tell she likes food?)

4.  the fire

5.  oh phooey, I can't remember the last one.  I think she said “this game”


We finished up by getting good and sticky roasting some marshmallows (though Hannah preferred them “cold” and unroasted), then we tucked in our little sticky-pies (after de-stickifying them of course).  All in all, I am thankful for a lovely night, and looking forward to tomorrow!



Testing A Video


Well, I've long promised the grandmas that I would try to find a way to show them the little videos we take of the girls sometimes.  Here is my first try.  It may take a little while to load (it was a bit choppy the first time I played it and the sound was a bit off from the picture), but we'll see how it works.  Here's Hannah “reading” me a story while I was washing the floors (hence the chairs everywhere):


By the way, thank you to Annie and KLB for the Thanksgiving idea comments in my last post.  I hadn't thought of that song (and I love it!) and I love the corn idea – I think we will do it the night before with just our family (maybe before we have our traditional marshmallow roast!)  Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!