Pursuing Him at Easter and All Year Long
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Easter egg hunts are a fun tradition for most families. As we watch our kids run around the yard in delight hunting for eggs, I’m reminded of the pursuits we all seem to hunt in life. It’s almost humorous to watch our kids on a passionate pursuit to fill their baskets with eggs that simply contain cheap candy and meaningless trinkets, yet on the other hand we as mothers are often guilty of the same silly pursuits. Okay, so we don’t have our cute little baskets, but we do have are darling little calendars which we fill with big girl pursuits hoping they will satisfy us or give us significance.

In this springtime of refreshment and renewal, let us consider our pursuits. Instead of chasing meaningless trinkets in order to satisfy our immediate cravings, let’s reconsider what is truly worth pursuing. The golden egg if you will. We can choose which eggs we will chase after, so why not chase after that which is lasting and eternal. Passionately pursue Christ. Paul put it this way, “Since you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”

Egg hunts may seem fruitless and unfulfilling in some ways, but there is one hunt that will never disappoint. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your mind and all your soul. He is the one prize who satisfies our longings and meets our deepest needs.

Here’s one of our favorite recipes for Easter morning:
Easter Morning Rolls
2 cups self-rising flour 2 cups softened vanilla ice cream (softened)
Lightly stir ingredients together until just moistened. Line muffin tins with paper liners. Fill ¾ full. Bake at 325 for 20 minutes. Yields 16 -20 muffins. We use these muffins as an Easter tradition at our home and talk about how the rolls symbolically represent Christ, the bread of life. The muffins have two ingredients just as Christ is made up of both God and man. The white color represents his purity, and the flour is self-rising (which represents our Easter celebration of Christ rising from the dead).

Shopping with Tired Toddlers and Other Scary Scenarios
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Never underestimate the power of prevention. Although some tantrums are unavoidable, there are others that perhaps can be diverted by preventative measures. Through wisdom and discernment we can move around certain potential land mines, and experience fewer explosions. Here are a few toddler land mines to avoid.
• Terrible Timing. Don’t run errands when the kids are tired, hungry or over-stimulated. Make a general plan for your day and if at all possible run errands in the morning while the kids are more alert and energetic. Careful not to overdo it. Too many errands in one day is a tantrum waiting to happen. Avoid long outings and make sure you take time for food and opportunities to run and be less confined to the stroller or car-seat.
• Un-Prepared. You know your child. If he needs extra snacks bring them along. If he gets thirsty all the time, bring extra juice or water. If your child can’t stand wet or soiled clothes, bring another change of clothing, and always make sure you have enough diapers on hand. Another important preventative measure is to bring along some extra toys and books for those times when you find yourself unexpectedly waiting, whether it is in traffic, in a restaurant or in the grocery store line.
• Inconsistent. No Means No. Unless some sort of abnormal circumstance occurs you must stick with your guns. If you give into a tantrum, your child will learn that screaming works. Be gentle and firm, but don’t change your mind just to quiet them down. Use a creative distraction or alternative if you must.
• Too many rules. We may set ourselves up for sabotage if we set too many rules and regulations in our homes. Keep your rules simple and easy to obey so it is not necessary to be saying “No” every time you turn around. You only frustrate a child with too many Nos. Be reasonable and open. Toddler-proof your house for the time-being, so every other word coming out of your mouth is not a rule.
• Lack of Attention. Some kids need, desire and even thrive on quality time with you. Make sure that you take time each day for some good ole eye to eye communication. Sometimes we get so busy doing activities and interests for our child (or for ourselves) and we forget to give them very essential undivided attention. I’m not saying you need to over attend your child (which some moms are in danger of), but I am saying just as you feed your child each day be sure to feed them the delicious gift of your attention as well. While you are shopping, keep your kids engaged in the process by helping you find the green can or picking out their favorite soup.
• No choices. As your child’s independent spirit develops, give them small and simple opportunities to make decisions. Do you want to read this book or that one? Do you want the orange sippy cup or the pink one?
• Growing Them Up too Early. Let’s not give our kids a ticket to frustration by placing them in activities or giving them tasks that are over their heads. Teach and stretch, yes. But there is a delicate balance of expecting too much. Give them age appropriate toys and provide age-appropriate activities, so you set the stage for success rather than frustration.
• Failing to Tell Expectations. Always remember to tell your child how you expect them to act, especially as you approach a new situation. On the way to the indoor play land say, “Honey, I expect you to obey mommy. We will eat lunch and play, but then we must leave when I say so for little Kelsey’s nap time.”
• Forgetting to Notice the Good. Take advantage of the times your kids do something right to tell them “Good job, I’m proud of you.” Our kids love attention and encouragement and will live up to the kind words you say about them. You can bet if you tell your child “I’m so proud of you for not being fussy at the grocery store today,” they will work hard not to whine or complain the next time you go.
• Junk food. Sugar, caffeine and junk foods can affect our body’s ability to handle stress, so it stands to reason that if effects our young child’s body even more. Feed your children wholesome foods which will help sustain them longer and give them strength to adjust and persevere, instead of going hyper. You may detect that your child is wild after eating certain types of foods. Begin eliminating different foods form your child’s diet and see if their behavior is affected. I discovered orange juice tended to make my oldest daughter a little out of sorts, so we took it out of her diet.
• Over-stimulation. Too many activities, too many people and too much sugar can be a recipe for disaster. Guard against overwhelm by recognizing the needs of your child. Some kids thrive while others explode from sensory overload. Turn off the television or loud music, move into a peaceful room with less people if you begin to see the first stages of over-stimulated fussiness.
• Trying to be a Lone Ranger. We must build a team with those who spend the most time with our kids. Explain to your spouse, the grandparents or a favorite sitter how you plan to handle tantrums and how to prevent them. Ask them to join you in the family effort. The more consistent the main players are in your kids’ life, the quicker your child will learn that tantrums get him nowhere. And that’s the goal to keep in mind; you are gently trying to teach your child tantrums are not a healthy way to get what you want. Tantrums are not a becoming quality for an adult, so just like potty training we need to help them get rid of diapers and tantrums as they begin to grow up and leave the toddler years behind.

Defuse

Hope these were helpful! This is an excerpt from my book , A Positive Plan for Creating More Love, Less Anger (Thomas Nelson)

Taming the Toddler Tantrums
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Like a March wind, a toddler tantrum can blow in at any time. Let’s talk about some strategies that may help you work through the trying moments of tantrums. No matter what the reason for the outburst of rage, the first and most important rule is for you as a mom to stay calm. If you allow yourself to become angry and out of control then you have two tantrums on your hands and that’s not a pretty sight. Besides if you scream and yell, you will teach your child several new lessons; how to get someone’s attention through screaming and it must be okay to scream because mommy does it. So, rule number one in handling your child’s tantrum is keep your cool and speak to your child in calm and soothing tones.

Try the following methods to handle the tantrum. Not all of them will work with your toddler, but explore and begin to figure out what is effective for calming down your child.
• Verbalize the Frustration. Gently help your child verbalize his frustration or say it for them. “Mommy knows you are mad because you can’t buckle the car seat yourself. Let’s do it together.” Do not try to negotiate with your child, simply let them know you understand what he is trying to do or have.
• Hold them. Sometimes when a child has lost control he needs a secure and loving embrace to help him calm down. Some kids do not respond well to being held. One of my daughters liked to be held during a tantrum and one didn’t; she became more enraged as she tried to get away. Know your child. Boys especially may need to be released to work out their frustration physically.
• Move to another Location. If you have a safe room or a fenced in back yard where your child can work out his tantrum, remove him from the source of frustration and allow him to work it through himself. Remain in fairly close proximity so he knows you haven’t left him, but don’t give the tantrum attention. If you are in a public place, you may want to take him to the parking lot or the bathroom in order to change the environment.
• Firmly and Gently tell them NO. If you know the tantrum is of the manipulative nature then lovingly and firmly explain that you are not going to give him what he wants. Stick with your firm No. Tell him when he calms down you will begin to work out a solution or alternative. If you are at home, let him cry it out to his hearts content. He will eventually stop. If you are in a public place you may need to remove him to another room or outside until he gains composure and sees that you mean NO. Recently I observed a mother and toddler in the seats in front of me on a plane. As the boy began to scream and cry because he wanted the trailer which went with his toy truck, the mom gently took his face and said in a soft, firm voice, “No, we don’t scream on the plane.” The boy calmed down. Then this wise mom offered him hope, “Perhaps grandma or Uncle Bill has a trailer you can put on your truck.” The boy was content for his mother let him know she heard him, but also let him know what was expected of him. Then she offered hope.
• Offer Hope. We all need a glimmer of hope. When you tell your child No, if possible offer hope for something different down the road. With no hope in sight, a child can become discouraged or exasperated, but alternatives and possibilities are calming and encouraging.
• Distract your child. This is a useful tool if you know the tantrum is born out of frustration. Toddlers have short attention spans, so a distraction can take their mind off of the immediate source of tension. If you are at the store ask your child to help you find the next purchase, or look for something that is his favorite color. If you are at home, distract them with a new project or different toy. On occasion a child may be bored and need something to keep him stimulated. Bring extra toys or snacks along when ever you leave the house.
• Ignore the Tantrum. If you are at home and you can tell the tantrum leans more toward manipulation, then do your best to ignore the tantrum. You may want to move to another room, but if your child is young don’t leave their sight as they may feel very insecure. If you are in a public place then ignoring it may not be the best solution, but you can move them to a quieter place.
• Do not allow Aggressive Behavior. Don’t ignore a tantrum if your child becomes violent with you or someone else. At this point it is time for disciplinary action as he must learn to curb this behavior. Tell your child you will not allow him to hurt others, remove him from the situation and then punish accordingly.

Next week we will look at some preventative measures to keep the tantrum from happening in the first place. This is an excerpt from my book Defuse, A Mom’s Survival Guide to More Love Less Anger (Thomas Nelson). Click here to order the book.


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Creative Ways to Console
There’s no one perfect solution to console a crying baby, but there are a few creative ideas moms have used throughout the years to help soothe the tears. Try several of these methods to see which ones may work for your precious one.
Rocking. As anyone who has ever whiled away the hours on a porch swing knows, there is something calming about a gentle rocking motion. Consider standing with your baby in your arms and swaying back and forth, rocking in a rocking chair or glider, or placing the baby in a baby swing.

Change of Venue. Putting your baby in the stroller and taking her for a walk may calm both you and her down. Another helpful idea is to put your baby in the car seat and take her for a ride. Perhaps a quiet, dark room or a different setting is all she needs to regain some composure.

A Snug Wrap. A swaddling wrap is a way of firmly wrapping a newborn, helping him feel more secure. Here’s one way to swaddle your baby: Spread a receiving or lightweight blanket on the floor. Fold one corner of the blanket down. Lay baby faceup on the blanket with her head just above the folded end. Pick up either the right or left side of the blanket and pull it over your baby to tuck it in snugly under her opposite side. Fold up the bottom of the blanket to cover her feet, then wrap the remaining side of the blanket around her, keeping her head and neck exposed. Do not wrap too tightly, and do not leave your baby in a swaddle wrap for more than eight hours in a row. I recommend a blanket called the Miracle Blanket, which is created especially for babies as a swaddling wrap.

Singing or Consistent Rhythm. Your baby was accustomed to the rhythm of your heartbeat while in the womb, and some newborns are soothed by a similarly consistent rhythm. Consider gently humming or singing a lullaby to soothe your fussy baby. I sang “Jesus Loves Me” and other simple Bible songs to calm my babies. Some parents have found the rhythm of the washing machine or dishwasher can help.

Pacifier or Teething Ring. Some babies have a strong desire or natural reflex to suck. A pacifier may be the calming factor your child needs. Usually between three to eight months old, babies begin cutting teeth, which may increase irritability. Excessive drooling, biting, or even a mild temperature may be an indication that a tooth is surfacing. To soothe your baby’s gums, offer her a cold, wet washcloth, a refrigerated (not frozen) teething ring, or teething biscuits.

Baby Massage. Gently rub or massage your baby’s back or tummy to help soothe the crying.
Stimulation. Although one reason babies cry is from overstimulation, it can also be possible that your baby is bored and may need attention or stimuli. There are plenty of baby boredom busters on the market. Visit your local toy store or do a search for “smart baby toys” on the Web.

Gas Remedies. It is possible that your baby may need to be burped or needs to be fed in a more upright position to avoid gas pains. If your baby arches her back or draws up her knees in pain, she is likely to be suffering from gas. You may want to consider Mylicon Infant Gas Relief, which is safe for newborns and available over the counter at most pharmacies. Sometimes babies have an intolerance or allergy to certain foods. A simple change in diet may make a difference.
Colic. Mayo Clinic estimates that 5 to 25 percent of babies have a frustrating period of inconsolable and intense crying known as colic.4 Colic is typically defined as crying for more than three hours a day, three days a week, for more than three weeks in an otherwise well-fed, healthy baby. Generally the episodes show up in the late afternoon or evening. A colicky baby may be difficult or even impossible to console during these crying episodes.

In addition to trying the methods already mentioned in this chapter, it is important for you to try to stay as calm as possible if your baby is colicky. I know it is difficult to remain relaxed in the midst of incessant crying, but your baby can pick up on your stress and tension. Again, don’t hesitate to ask if you need to call a friend or see if your spouse can give you just a short break. Use the opportunity to take a quick nap, read, talk to another adult, take a shower, or simply step out of the house in order to regain your composure. If there is no one to call at the time, then you may need to lay your baby safely in her crib and step into another room for a while.

Take Care of Yourself. It can be unnerving to hear your baby constantly cry. If you have gone through the checklist of possible reasons your baby is crying and nothing seems to fit, then take a few measures so that you do not become overwhelmed. Sometimes, you may need to put your baby down and let her cry for a while, or you can put on some relaxing music to calm your spirit and help you not focus on the cries.

These tips come from my book, Defuse, A Positive Plan for More Love Less Anger (Thomas Nelson)
Next week we will look at dealing with Toddler Tantrums.

A Home with More Love, Less Anger
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Crying Babies
You’ve prepared for almost nine months for an eagerly anticipated new member of your family. The nursery is decorated and stocked with baby clothes and diapers, and your family and friends are overjoyed. It’s all so wonderful! That is, until you come home from the hospital and your baby begins to cry and you can’t figure out how to console him. Welcome to motherhood! It’s not quite as easy and blissful as we anticipated. Isn’t it amazing how this precious new addition to the world, so tiny and sweet and innocent, has the power to fluster and frazzle us simply by crying?
Your little treasure from God is not deliberately trying to frustrate you, although it may feel that way sometimes. A crying baby is simply trying to communicate the only way he can. No matter how frustrating the crying may be, we need to remember that our baby’s intent is not spiteful, but rather based on need, comfort, and survival.

A mother’s response to her baby’s cries can reassure him and give him a sense of security. “Picking up and attending to your crying baby won’t spoil her. For the first few months, you are getting to know your baby and she is getting used to being in the world,” says pediatrician Maud Meates-Dennis. “By being responsive to her crying you are letting your baby know that she is loved and cared for and that will give her security.”

A newborn baby may cry for more than two hours on any given day. As you get to know your baby, you will begin to figure out why she is crying—perhaps she is hungry or tired or in need of a diaper change. It also helps to know some practical techniques to calm the crying and cope with the tears. Let’s begin by examining some of the reasons babies cry and then some creative ways to deal with it.

Why Do Babies Cry?
Babies must rely on someone else to provide for their basic needs of comfort, warmth, and food. Typically when a baby cries, he is trying to communicate he has a specific need. As a new mom, you may be frustrated by your baby’s cries as you desperately try to figure out what could be upsetting your precious little one. Gradually, you will begin to recognize your baby’s patterns as you get to know his needs. Let’s examine some of the reasons a baby cries.

Hunger. The most common reason a baby cries is because she needs to be fed. If it has been more than three hours since she last ate, she may be hungry again. Most newborns eat every few hours (unfortunately around the clock), with the exception of the first day or two after birth, when some babies feed very little. Some babies may get so upset when they are hungry that by the time they begin feeding, they gulp air with the milk—which causes them to spit up or cry even louder.
Try to gently calm your baby before feeding her, and if your baby begins to gulp, take a short break. Take time to burp your baby during and after each feeding. Your baby may need to be burped between meals as well.

Diaper Change. Some babies become especially upset when their diapers are soiled or wet, while other babies seem perfectly content even when they have a full diaper. Check your baby’s diaper often to make sure it is dry. Also, check the tabs to make sure the diaper fits properly and the tabs are not irritating her skin.

Need to Be Comfortable. Babies often cry if they are too hot or too cold. Touch your baby’s stomach to feel if she is too hot or too cold (feeling hands or feet is not a good guide, as they usually feel slightly colder). Add a layer of clothing or take one away accordingly. Your baby may feel more secure or comfortable bundled in a swaddle wrap, which is explained in the next section.

Tiredness. A tired baby can be a fussy baby. If you notice your baby losing interest in people or toys, rubbing her eyes, yawning, or decreasing activity, she may need a nap. If you respond early to your baby’s cues of tiredness, you may avoid a major outburst of tears.
Newborns need up to sixteen hours (or more) of rest each day, so make sure your baby is getting the sleep she needs. Sometimes your baby may be overstimulated due to a busy day or lots of people around, so you will need to take her to a quiet, dark place away from the stimulation in order to get some rest.

Need to Be Held. Many babies need an extra dose of cuddling and reassurance that you are there. Newborns especially need close physical contact for comfort, whereas older babies may be reassured by seeing or hearing their parents nearby. The Mayo Clinic reports, “Babies who are held or carried during most of their waking hours are less fussy than those left in a crib or infant seat.”2 You may find a baby sling helpful, allowing you to keep your baby close while freeing up your hands. A gentle massage or light pats on the back also reassure your baby through your touch.

Overstimulation. Too much activity, too many people, too much noise may be too much for a baby. If you notice your baby shutting her eyes or turning her head and crying, she may be trying to shut out all the stimuli around her. This would be a good time for a change in scenery, perhaps moving to a dark, quiet room or, if the weather is nice, it may be good to head outdoors for some peace and quiet and fresh air. A calmer environment and maybe even some gentle “white noise” like a ceiling fan could help your baby calm down.

Pain or Illness. If you have checked the above motivations and your baby is still crying, you may want to explore the possibility that she is in pain or ill. A baby who is sick or in pain often cries in a different tone than her normal cry. It could be sudden and shrill or higher pitched.
Check your baby’s temperature and do a full examination of her body to make sure there are no rashes or obvious problems. Make sure her clothes are not too tight or pinching her. If your baby is at least three months old, you might also want to run a clean finger along her gum line to see if her gums are swollen or if you can feel a tooth coming through. If so, you can offer her a refrigerated (not frozen) teething ring or obtain your pediatrician’s permission to use an over-the-counter oral anesthetic, such as Oragel.

Some babies have a reaction to certain kinds of formula. If you are breastfeeding, your baby may be reacting to spicy or gas-producing foods you ate. Some babies are sensitive to caffeine as well. If you think certain foods may be causing your breastfeeding baby to be fussy, then avoid those foods for several days and see if you notice any difference.

Remember, no one knows your baby like you do, and if you sense that something is wrong physically, do not hesitate to call the pediatrician.

Need to Suck on Something. Many babies find it comforting or soothing to suck on something, whether it is a clean finger or your pacifier. First, make sure that your baby is not hungry, since newborns most often need to have their sucking instinct satisfied with the nutrition of breastmilk or formula, rather than the nonnutritive sucking of a pacifier. Once you have ensured that the baby is not hungry, then offer her a pacifier, teething ring, or a clean finger to suck on until she calms down.

Time of Day. Sometimes there are simply times of the day that a baby may become fussy. One of my daughters typically had a crying spell in the early evening, which made dinner preparation a tad bit of a challenge, yet this routine only lasted a short while.

Next week we will look at creative ways to console a crying baby.
This is an excerpt from my book, Defuse, A Mom’s Survival Guide to More Love, Less Anger

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