Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Infant Potty Training

Imagine a home with a child under two that does not have the lovely aroma of dirty diapers. Imagine a day spent without wrestling a little one to wipe his rearend before he smears his scent all over the carpet and furniture. Imagine a child who is less fussy because he doesn't have the overwhelming urge to "go" for long periods of time. Imagine no emergency runs to buy wipes. Imagine no more diaper rash or "fire butts" requiring immediate bathing.

It's the world of babies that are amazingly good at using a potty! Our third child is two and has been able to use a potty since she was 3-months-old (though many mommies start with their infants from birth). Just like little puppies, babies don't actually like messing themselves and when they are given the option, they can do their business in a receptacle of your choosing.

There are TONS of websites and bulletin boards devoted to "Elimination Communication". They are full of ideas on how to lovingly teach the babies to release on command. I took the simple advice given by Debi Perl and sat backwards on a potty, cradling my wee one in the crook of my right arm while holding her rearend down in the potty. After only a few times, she could release even the smallest amount of pee within seconds of being placed in that position. Incredible!

There is hope for slackers! I was not capable of sticking to solid routines. While working with my little one on the potty thang, I was homeschooling a 5 year old, barely tolerating my 3 year old, caring for my elderly mother, living in two different states, and still using diapers for the baby. If I can train a baby to successfully use a potty, ANYONE can do it. And the time commitment is less than the time it takes to change dirty diapers.

Method will no doubt depend on your schedule and your baby's personality, gender, routine.

I found the easiest age to train for us was the infant stage because babies love to look at their mommy's face and jabber. When you smile upon hearing them tinkle, it is thrilling for them.

When the distraction phase kicks in, toys are essential to keep them interested. Potty strikes can occur - you can't make a baby use the potty - but they are mostly preventable if you keep updating favorite items next to the toilet. After potty time, I would sing "Toys away, toys away, that is all for toys today" and provide a container for the baby to place the toy in (when capable of that task). As long as you stick to that "Toys away" rule, there shouldn't be much fighting. If you break that rule, good luck with fits. (Learned the effects of inconsistent parenting with my fit-throwing firstborn.)

If the baby was fussy, I rarely had success with placing her on the potty. The best time for her to go was right after nursing. Generally I would feed her one side when waking and then visit the potty. She'd be quite content at that point. Some moms are able to have their babies go at night and literally never use diapers. I was too lazy to do that. And I found that the baby would get irate if placed on the potty when sleepy.

Because I could not be consistent with training the baby (sometimes going a day or so without placing her on the potty), I always had her in diapers. But just like potty training an older child, the training requires more discipline on mom's part to make sure we're taking advantage of opportunities to go potty and not always relying on the handy-dandy diapers for accidents. If we were to have another bambino, I'd probably try the diaperless route, but who knows until the time comes.

From the time the baby could say "go", she has been asking to go to the potty when she needs to use it. Before the baby was 15-months, we were moving, it was summer, and she was starting to strike more often and use her diaper more often. So we said "done" and said goodbye to diapers during the day. She is now 2 and will go a week or more without an accident (accident usually due to my negligence or to over-indulging on yummy beverages).

Currently, she needs to be done with diapers at night. Last week, she was waking up with dry diapers on occasion, and now she is starting to fill the diaper before calling for me, and then immediately asks for the diaper to be taken off. Good hint that the kiddo needs a change in the system.

My prayer while making a bad but ultimately successful attempt at infant potty training was literally to free other moms of the burden of diapers. There is another way and God designed our babies to do oh so much more than we can imagine. I am by no means an expert, but if He can work this miracle through me, He can do it for you!

Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,
So are the children of one's youth.
How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them;

Psalm 127:4-5a

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Relaxed Homeschoolers

We attended the Middle Tennessee Home Education Association Curriculum Fair this weekend. I attended workshops at the conference on Saturday, two of which included Mary Hood's instruction on relaxed home schooling. She is the author of several books incuding The Relaxed Homeschool. For those mommies who stress about homeschooling and making sure they get everything done that's on their checklist, Ms. Hood invites you to unload that burden and enjoy homeschooling with your children.

She believes that a “relaxed home school” develops out of the mindset that you are a family, not a school; a dad, not a principal; a mom, not a teacher; and that you have individual relationships with your children, not a classroom. This mindset helps you to stress out less over school-like expectations, and relax and enjoy your family.

The children enjoyed crafts at the curriculum fair on Friday with a group called Kingdom Academy of the Arts out of Bell Buckle, Tennessee. The academy offers mini-camps and enrichment programs throughout the year. After glancing at their website, I would be most likely to choose from their fall events which include Pioneer and Indian Days. The mini-camps are $30/day for each participant and we would have to drive an hour to get there. The leader of Kingdom Academy of the Arts teaches at Whole Heart Academy in Brentwood, Tennessee.

Even as an "unschooler", I struggle with stealing the joy of learning from my children - by being too rigid when an educational thought pops in my head or by presenting a new concept to a child while the 2-year-old is demanding attention. May God lead us to teachable moments with patience and kindness!

But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Matthew 6:31-34

Friday, May 15, 2009

Map Skills - Understanding Everyday Maps and Labeling Continents

On recent outings we have collected maps - most recently being the zoo map and botanical gardens map. The kids (7 and 5) do not seem interested in pausing to look at the map while we are visiting the attractions, but once we get home they love to trace their route on the maps. I show them the route and then leave the maps on the kitchen table for viewing at their pleasure. Usually they want to review the route with me several times and asks lots of questions. Thank you Lord for lesson plans!

Does anyone else out there have to rely on a map since they have zero sense of direction? I count myself a decent navigator, but without a map I am clueless. Having a daughter who seems to have an even WORSE sense of direction, I honestly worry about her safety as she gains more independence. So let's work on those map skills!

We purchased a continents foam map puzzle from the Dollar Tree. I like it because it's cheap and simple but the sturdiness of the puzzle leaves much to be desired. It would probably work better if I glued it to a piece of cardboard. Since the puzzle itself was a tad frustrating, my 7-year-old decided to lay out the continents on the table in their correct places. Then of course my 5-year-old wanted to do it. I was glad they found a way to enjoy the puzzle without getting frustrated with it.

* Click on Continents and Oceans
* Choose to solve as a Puzzle, with Clues, or with Labels

Recently, I read a blogger's post about painting cheap globes she found thrifting - one color for each continent. I thought it was a marvelous idea - though i have no extra globes. So what I would like to do (and probably never will) is just cut out the continents in colors that match my puzzle and stick them on the globe short term.

My 7-year-old has no trouble grasping the fact that the multi-colored North America on the globe is one continent, but my 5-year-old is having some issues. And I'm not sure the 5-year-old understands that the 2-D puzzle matches the globe at all. Too much color variation (he's always been good at order and matching colors.)

For the LORD is a great God
  And a great King above all gods,
In whose hand are the depths of the earth,
  The peaks of the mountains are His also.
The sea is His, for it was He who made it,
  And His hands formed the dry land.
Come, let us worship and bow down,
  Let us kneel before the LORD our Maker.

Psalm 95

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Slugs and Holes in the Ground

Out of feelings of guilt and having left our sandbox when we moved, I allowed our children to dig two holes in our backyard. What a concept! They were thrilled! And it has been nature discovery ever since.

The holes are close to our fence and we cover them with an old board so no one breaks a leg while running in our yard. The environment along with the safety of the board covering has brought slugs, roly-polies, and worms - what more can a child ask for! The arrival of slugs brought the announement from my little one "Look mommy! A mommy slug and a baby slug!" How cool. (BTW, slugs are not snails without shells - I had to look it up - but snails and slugs are both mollusks.)

Our poor children. Don't touch this! Don't pull on that! Don't step there! Don't pick up that! But why, mommy? Because it's LANDSCAPING.

We are surrounded by landscaping. Our perfect lawns and manicured bushes. Our ornamental rocks and picture perfect flower gardens. (Well, ok, not mine.) May our children learn diligence and hard work in gardening, but may they also be allowed to receive the simple gifts God gave them in the mud (which God Almighty played with first)!

Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.
Genesis 2:7

Monday, May 4, 2009

Send Drawings to Sick or Elderly

Found a great blog post of service projects for kids. A couple of her ideas included sending colorings and cards to sick kids and the elderly. Addresses are provided via Color A Smile and Make A Child Smile. ColorASmile provides the coloring pages - some blank and some not - and then they send out the finished pages after receiving them from you. MakeAChildSmile gives guidelines, but the cards are sent directly to the sick child.

May service be ingrained in our children by our Heavenly Father and may we not mistakenly rely on our own strength or abilities!

Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
1 Peter 4:11