friendship matters

The other day I received an unexpected gift in the mail: the October issue of “Psychology Today”! There are several wonderful articles in the issue, but the highlighted article is called, “Life Lessons: 5 Truths People Learn too late” by Elizabeth Svoboda. And one of the truths in particular really hit home. Thus, the purpose of this post: I want you to know the truth because I think you might need to hear it as much as I did. So, without further ado…here it is:

“Lesson #4: Social Networks Matter: The strength of your friends is as critical for your health as the lifestyle choices you make.”

The highlights you don’t want to miss:

  • The higher the quantity and quality of your relationships, the longer you live.
  • People with active social lives were 50 percent less likely to die of any cause than their nonsocial counterparts.
  • Low levels of social interaction have the same negative effects as smoking 15 cigarettes day– and even worse effects than being obese or not exercising (from study by Julianne Holt-Lunstad of Brigham Young University).
  • The more social connections you have, the greater your ability to fight infection (from study by Sheldon Cohen of Carnegie Mellon University)

The takeaway?: “Stress has potentially negative effects on health and well-being, but knowing your friends have your back can prevent such fallout” (Cohen).

 

my dear friend Dana with our babies!

Wow! I knew supportive friendships were important, but I didn’t realize just how much! Here’s to reaching out, making time, and enjoying a friendship today!

To read the full article (and the other 4 life lessons!) click the following link: http://www.psychologytoday.com/collections/201209/life-lessons/lessons-loving

 

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the transformation is complete!

For those of you who have yet to experience baby-proofing your house, let me tell you: it is a … curse word! Could decent looking baby gates cost any more?! I’m not sure if it’s because he’s a boy, or because he’s Caleb, or both…but if there is a sharp corner, his head will find it. If there is something to climb, he will climb it, and fall (on his head). If there is a plug, he will pull it out and insert it into his mouth. If there is a button, he will push it. Shall I go on?

Yesterday he stepped on one end of a cat toy and it flew up into his nose, bruising it. (It looks a little better today, but it’s still swollen). All that to say, as a parent you will at some point come to the conclusion that you do all you can to prevent pain and injury, but your kid is still going to get hurt. I’m just going to try and make sure he doesn’t kill himself too badly. Of course, I’m failing to mention here the times he’s sustained injury due to my own stupidity. (Oops, just mentioned it)!

Baby-proofing and lack of space are the reasons we traded in our dining room table for a big plastic play door (among other things). We had a tight budget so I had to get a little creative! Unfortunately I’m not artistic, so it isn’t fancy, but it suits us just fine…and more importantly, Caleb loves it and has a relatively safe, confined space to play!

Before:

After:

Couch: Ikea. It folds out into a bed/fort!

Tent: Ikea

Frames: Ikea

Inside the frames are Dr. Seuss flash cards backed with colored paper and a book that Caleb destroyed (this was before I realized that he likes to eat paper) and I’d kept for a time such as this.

White Shelf: Walmart

Toy Organizer: Walmart

Canvas: Joann’s. I painted it and decorated it with an alphabet flash card set from the consignment store. Then I hot glued some mini clothes pins and put pictures of Caleb and our family inside. One day, I’ll display his artwork there.

Frames: Ikea. Filled with a few favorite greeting cards from Christmas, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.

Floating Shelves to display books (Dr. Seuss, of course!): Ikea

Rug: Target

Toy door: baby consignment store, highly recommend checking one out! I just wiped this buddy down with many lysol wipes and saved over $50 on a toy that he loves!

Blocking off the room with gates was the trickiest business of all, but after ordering a gate that didn’t fit–we got this one with extensions and it worked like a charm! Our space is over 6 feet wide so we feared we wouldn’t be able to find a nice looking gate for this opening. So glad we found this!

Happy Playing, kids!

intimacy after baby

Having a baby is one of the most joyous and challenging times of your life. It’s normal for intimacy with your partner to take some time to adjust. There are about a million reasons for this difficulty, but here are a few:

–       Exhaustion

–       “Baby blues” or post-partum depression

–       Feeling isolated or alone

–       “Roller coaster” emotions, rapidly fluctuating emotions

–       Feeling unattractive and undesirable

–       Decreased or lack of sexual desire

–       Difficulty becoming aroused

A few helpful hints for surviving the next couple months:

  1. Talk! Adjusting to the role of becoming a mother is a process!  Tell your partner about how you’re feeling and ask for his help and understanding.
  2. Find support. Talk to other new moms you trust. It is so helpful to know that you aren’t alone!
  3. Get information. Ask your doctor about any physical difficulties with intimacy, the impact of breastfeeding on intimacy, etc.
  4. Ask for help. Consider investing in counseling, if needed.  If feelings of sadness or depression worsen and begin affecting your daily life, you may need a little extra help. Counseling can also benefit post-baby difficulties in your relationship. It can help ease the transition, restore sexual intimacy, and aid in understanding and communication.

Let me know if you’d like help finding resources!

yeah, he’s cute–and such a blessing, but life sure is more complicated!

logical consequences

I’ve made a few blogular promises that I need to make good on.  I’ll start with the follow up from this parenting post about sending an I-message. I promised to post on discipline in the form of logical consequences when the “I-message” fails to change behavior. So, here it is:

Logical consequences* are great because they help your child to learn responsibility and independence. Using logical consequences with your child instead of punishment helps your child to understand that their choices and actions can have consequences. For instance, the logical consequence of not putting dirty clothes in the hamper is that he must do his own laundry…or wear dirty clothes. Sounds good, huh?

Tips & tricks for using logical consequences:

1. Ask the child to help set the consequences. Ex. “I still have a problem with you leaving your belongings in the kitchen. What do you think we can do to solve it?”

2. Give the child a choice:

There are 2 types of choices in using logical consequences:

  • Either-or choices: “Either you may…or you may…you decide.”
  • When-then choices: “When you have…then you may…”

3. Make sure the consequence is really logical. One key to this whole business is that the consequence is logically connected to the misbehavior. Children can more easily see the justice in this and accept their consequence with less resentment.

Not logical:

“Either come to dinner when I call or no TV for a week!” This consequence is arbitrary and will feel unjust. They may also know that you won’t reinforce it for more than a night or morning. Never threaten a consequence you aren’t willing to act on. More on that later…

Try something like this:

“Either come in to dinner when I call or it will get cold—and you may miss it altogether.”

4. Only give choices you can live with.

5. Keep your tone firm and calm.

6. Give the choice one time, then act to enforce the consequence.

7. Expect testing. Your child will test to see if you will do what you say you’re going to do. Be consistent!

8. Allow the child to try again after experiencing the consequences. Example: “It seems you have decided not to play outside this morning. Take care of your room and we can try again this afternoon.”

I’ll be trying these skills on my guy in a few short years…

Information taken from “Active Parenting Now” by Michael H. Popkin, Ph.D.

* this information is ideally used for kids aged 5-12

parenting: using an “I” message

Before having Caleb, I had a list of things I would “never do” when I became a mother. I would never let him sleep in our bed, give him dessert before dinner, let him cry for 45 minutes… And well, I had no idea. Before having a kid, I was the perfect mother! And now…now, I do my best. And that is faaaarrrr from perfect. But there are a few things I hope I don’t go back on (granted, I know I will make mistakes sometimes). I want him to feel loved, respected, and valued. I will do my darnedest to never shame him or make him feel small.

I really enjoy this by Dr. Michael Popkin called “Active Parenting Now.” I highly recommend this book for many reasons. One big reason is that it advocates for the parent’s authority, but teaches how to do that while still respecting your child. Plus, it works!

I’ll do a few posts with concepts from this book. This one is on using “I” messages. {By the way, this works in other relationships, too!}

It’s appropriate to use an “I” message when a polite request has failed to change behavior in your child (or spouse).

Here’s how you do it:

  1. Name the behavior or situation you want changed. It’s important to avoid shaming your child. Make sure you separate the “deed from the doer” (or the “sin from the sinner”). Example: “I have a problem with your leaving dirty dishes on the coffee table.”
  2. Say how you feel about the situation. Without raising your voice this lets your child know that the problem is serious to you. Usually anger is a secondary emotion and underneath it is fear, hurt or helplessness. Try to identify the primary emotion underneath anger…it is less threating. Example: “I feel taken advantage of…”
  3. State your reason. A simple explanation can go a long way. Example: “…because I have to spend time and energy cleaning up after you.”
  4. Say what you want done. You’ve already made a polite request. Since that failed you must let your child know exactly what you want done. Example: “I would like you to bring your dirty dishes to the kitchen and put them in the dishwasher when you leave the living room.”

Making “I” messages stronger:

  1. Get agreement. Example: “I have problem with…Will you do that?”
  2. Establish a time frame. Example: “…when you are finished.”

If this doesn’t work, logical consequences and disciplining are necessary. Stay tuned for tips on my next post!

grateful monday!

Is time in fast forward? I can’t believe another week has gone by! I am blessed beyond what I could ever deserve. I love starting the week reminding myself of that fact!

Melissa! She invited Caleb right up to check out what she was doing…he was fascinated!

Time with very dear friends! We went to see a play to support our friend, Gwen and enjoyed some much needed community! I love this picture!

A husband who still thinks I look beautiful even after being scalped at the hairdresser!

lovely flowers and sweet cards for Mother’s Day!

a fun time with the family at Ikea! We had fun dreaming up ideas for his new playroom!

having fun planning Caleb’s first birthday party!

You turn! What are you grateful for in the past week?

my favorite…

I’ve said a few times that I love other people’s blogs…let me share a few of my favorites with you!

A Grateful Girl’s Guide to Style. I can proudly say that I was in a sorority with this grateful girl. We didn’t know each other well, but I’ve gotten to know her better AND learn a great deal through her blog on style, being comfortable in your own skin, and lovin on Jesus.

The Style Stork. My girl Morgan is a mommy and counselor too. We went to grad school together and I love her humor, insight, and grace! She’s one hot mama and I’m proud to call her my friend! Her stylish blog features all things pregnancy and baby design.

Love Lavished. I also went to grad school with this amazing women of God, Jenny. I became a fan of her blog after reading her deeply moving and transparent posts about her first miscarriage. I highly recommend her blog to everyone as her courage is inspiring for anyone who has experienced loss.

That’s all for now, but stay tuned! My list continues to grow!