Mother’s Day…I have to admit, as I sit here thinking about it, I have very mixed feelings.

On the one hand:

  • I think about our baby we miscarried 3 years ago this month.
  • I think about how I thought we’d have more kids in our home by now.
  • I think about this past year temporarily mothering 3 kids.
  • I think about those 3 kids today…and their moms.
  • I think about the many women who long to be mothers.
  • I think about the mothers who have lost a child.
  • I think about the daughters and sons who have lost a mother.
  • I think about the daughters and sons who have a mother…but their relationship is severely strained.

But on the other hand:

  • I think about the daughter I do have. Who is alive and healthy and beautiful.
  • I think about the time I got to take care of those 3 kids and how it taught me a different meaning to family.
  • I think about how I grew up always knowing my mom loved me.
  • I think about how I’m going to see her again in just a couple of weeks.
  • I think of God, who loves the orphan and widow, who is Father to the fatherless (Ps.68:5).

 

 

 

I remember when Gracia was still tiny my Mom telling me to enjoy every stage. She said each stage has its challenges and it’s highlights. It’s so true. Getting up at night (challenge) lots of cuddles (highlight). Getting into things (challenge), hearing little hands and knees following me around the house (highlight). Learning to talk and saying things that embarrass me (challenge) saying hilarious things (highlight).

And then there’s those people that seem to think there’s a certain age that is horrible. They may say “the terrible twos” or, “Wait till they start walking and getting into things,” or probably the most common, “Wait till their teenagers!!!” It gets old hearing all the negativity.

But honest to goodness I love this age! Little Dude is now 5, so we have 2 5 year olds in the house. It’s not always easy and I’m guilty of not always being patient, but I really do like this stage of life.

Little Dude, Gracia, Big Sis and Little Bro

What I love:

  • Seeing their faces as they learn. I never realized how rewarding teaching would be. To see them able to do something they couldn’t before is amazing! To see their little lips tightening and the occasional tongue peeking out as they concentrate with all their might on a coloring paper.

  • I love how we can talk to each other, and they have some very funny things to say. Little Dude has accidentally coined the words “fansome” (combination of fancy and handsome) and lunchaurant (restaurant). When we were talking about tornadoes the other day, he kept calling them tomatoes. :)
  • They’re so creative when they play. I love to hear them talk about being super heroes, or Laura and Pa from Little House on the Prairie. I love to see the creativity in their lego houses, even using shoes as something very vital to the house. To give them a box of basically trash and they transform it into a precious treasure box.

One of Little Dude's many creations!

  • I love their excitement. Whether it’s getting to paint, or a new pair of shoes, they get so excited about little things and it can be contagious.
  • I love to see their love. While they do argue with each other at times, other times their kindness melts my heart, sharing candy, helping each other “team fold” a blanket, building separate lego houses then connecting them together.
  • And you know what else? This is a wonderful age for them to learn about their heavenly Father. They love hearing the Bible stories filled with adventure and excitement. Seeing them understanding that God is all-powerful and beyond human strength is so incredibly amazing. And to hear them say that God will always love them no matter what they do. On the days I lose my patience, the days I complain and whine, I need to remember it’s all about them learning about Him.

Other bonuses of age 5 – Potty trained, sleep through the night, don’t need to be bottle or spoon fed, can pick up toys and buckle-up themselves (except when they decide they can’t).

I’ve actually been putting off writing a review of this book, not because it’s not good, but the opposite, it’s so good I don’t know what things to say and what to leave out!

Who would I recommend The Safe Child Book* to?

Parents, babysitters, daycare workers, kids ministry workers at churches, teachers, and basically anyone who ever comes in contact with or sees a child….so I guess pretty much everyone.

What are my favorite aspects of The Safe Child Book*?

I love how it teaches you, the adult, how to teach your kids safety. It talks about playing the “what if” game with the kids. They’re way more likely to remember how to respond in situations if they’ve acted it out rather than just been told what to do. It can also be a fun, non-scary way to learn safety. We’ve personally done lots of versions of the “what if” game with the kids, like:

  • Pretending a friend was asking them to jump on the bed and not let any adults know.
  • We acted out if a stranger comes to the house asking to use the phone or wanting them to open the door.
  • We’ve acted out someone (even someone they know) picking them up, saying that I had told them to get a ride with them (which I explained in real life if that were to ever happen I would PERSONALLY let the kids know, not send a message through someone else).
  • We’ve acted out them being tickled and not wanting to be tickled any more and asking the grownup to stop.

The book explains how kids need to not just say “no”, but if it continues they are allowed to say they’ll tell and even push the grown up away if necessary.

Does it really work?

Actually something came up recently with one of the kids, nothing serious, but it helped me see an area I needed to work on with them. The first time it happened they did not handle it the way we had done in the “what if” game, so I reviewed with them. It came up again a second time and when they told me about it, they said they had handled it just like our pretend scenario.

Some Statistics

The book quoted some hard to swallow stats that should motivate us as adults to take action in keeping kids safe:

  • 85-90% of sexual abuse happens with a person known to the child.
  • Approximately one-third of sexual abuse cases involve children six years of age or younger. (All the kids we’ve had in our home, birth and foster have been under 6, so this really stood out to me).
  • Ninety-five  percent of child abusers were themselves abused as children.

In Conclusion

The Safe Child Book* includes information on how to help your child be a difficult target, abusers often look for easy targets. It talks about how we as adults need to always be talking with kids to see  how their days have gone, that might give us clues if something is going on that shouldn’t be. One of the best preventions is teaching our kids to protect themselves and giving them the authority to even tell a grown up “no” and to help them feel comfortable with talking about anything to us without the fear of getting in trouble if they tell on an adult or another child.

Have any of you read this book before? What did (or didn’t) you like about it?

 

You may also be interested in The Swimsuit Lesson.

*Amazon affiliate links.


Amy

 

These past 10 days we’ve been back to a family of 6, and the funny thing is it’s the same kiddos we had over the summer! Big Sis and Little Bro are with another (and amazing at that!) foster family, but they had a trip already planned before taking the kids in, so we agreed to provide respite while they took their trip for 10 days. Little Dude came back just a couple of days before the other two, and I have to say I really missed having him here!

So, 4 kids, 2 of which were sick, plus our own classes, plus some big papers for homework, plus everything else that happens in life…it was a crazy 10 days to say the least, but by God’s amazing grace, He gave us the strength to press on and I’m so thankful that He’s faithful even when I’m at the end of my rope.

All that to say, I’d like to write  a post someday sharing creative ways to help foster parents, but I think just sharing this list of thank yous will give you a great idea for now:

  • Thank you to my husband, he has been awesome during all this craziness! Like the night he took care of the kids so I could go to a ladies Bible study. I came back to 4 kids in bed, dishes washed, the floor swept and the house picked up! Not counting all the other things he did to help.
  • Several of our AMAZING friends put us on a meal schedule and we got a nice home-cooked meal every week night. Not only was the food scrumptious, but it  was a HUGE help not having to think about supper every night. You guys don’t realize how big of a help that was!
  • All the many people that prayed for us and encouraged us. As I write this, so many faces are coming to mind of people that asked how we were doing, gave me a hug, befriended the kids, and offered to help in any way needed. Even if I didn’t take you up on the offer, believe me it still meant a ton just knowing you were willing!
  • I would like to thank Big Sis, Little Bro, Little Dude and Gracia for their patience with me when I was lacking patience. The 3 older kids were always quick to help the youngest and it was greatly appreciated! And I was never lacking in hugs with 4 kids around! :)
  • And thanks to all of you, sorry I haven’t been able to blog during this time, but I can’t wait to get back to it!

We’d been parents to one child for 5 years, then Little Dude was added to our family for about 2 and half months, during which time we had Big Sis and Little Bro added for 8 days. One thing I didn’t really see coming with these additions to our family was how it would affect my parenting, or rather how it would reveal areas I thought I was doing okay in.

  • I’ve always said that consistency in discipline was important, but when there’s 4 kids, it becomes more of a necessity. When there’s just one it would be easy to let things slide, and now that we’re back to one again we have to make more of a conscious effort to keep that consistency in taking care of disobedient actions or attitudes.
  • The importance of being a good example and doing what I ask them to do (or not do). I’d tell the kids to not to get upset over little things, but I would allow myself to, which leads to the next thing….
  • Apologizing. I’ve always tried to do this with Gracia and I had to apologize when Little Dude was here too. I don’t remember the details, but one day I hadn’t been patient with the kids. When I talked to them about it, I said, “I’m sorry. You two were not obeying, but even if you don’t obey it doesn’t mean that I can act wrongly.” Then I realized that’s exactly what I had been trying to teach them! When one would bug the other I would say, “Just because someone’s bugging you, doesn’t mean you can act wrongly.”
  • Be wise in choosing words. With one of the kids we had, we made a conscious effort not to use certain words. We avoided things like, “you were bad” or “good” but instead chose words like “you disobeyed” or “obeyed.” Which got us thinking that maybe those terms would be better for us to use with all the kids.
  • Don’t assume they’ll do wrong! I can’t remember where we heard this, maybe in one of our foster classes, but I failed many times in this one too. It’d be easy to say things like, “If you don’t….then….., and if you still don’t do…., then you’ll…..and then if you still don’t….”  You get the idea. Instead we tried to focus on the positive. “Once you do….then you can go play!” Or even thanking them for doing it beforehand shows that you trust them to do as their told. Even we adults perform better when people have higher expectations and show that they believe we’ll do a good job.
  • Going to the heart really does matter. I know I’ve mentioned it before, but the book Shepherding a Child’s Heart* talks all about this! With kids it could be extra easy to try to get them to simply do as we say and not try to address the deeper issue, but the problem isn’t just that they disobeyed, or threw a tantrum, or didn’t share. Their problems go deeper, just like the rest of us, we all have the sin nature in us, and we all need to see it so we see our need for Christ.

*Amazon affiliate link.

Orphanology – Rather ironically, I had never heard of this book until the girl babysitting for us while we took our adoption classes loaned it to me, and now it’s my very favorite book on taking care of orphans. But it’s not just for those interested in adopting, it’s all about how we as the church of Christ are obligated to step up to the plate and take care of needy children and it gives some practical ways of doing that (and not just by adopting).

 

Shepherding a Child’s Heart – If I were to recommend one book on parenting this would be it. The whole concept of going to the heart issue has been a goal of mine and Cameron’s with Gracia, and now with Little Dude, it’s been a reminder again of how just outward obedience isn’t enough.

 


Choosing to SeeI already gave my 2 cents on this book, but I will again. :) Mary Beth Chapman’s (wife to singer Steven Curtis Chapman) openness about her struggles with whether or not she was good enough to adopt really hit home with me and encouraged me.

 

Too Small to Ignore – Even though I can’t say I agree with everything in this book, the main premise of how important kids are really was a challenge to me, and to hear Wess Stafford’s  own personal story of abuse made it even more real. And did you know he was the president of Compassion International?

What great books have affected your life?

*These are all linked to my Amazon affiliate links, but if you don’t want to buy them see if your local library has them!

There’s probably a million free printable chore charts out there, but it can be really fun to make your own! Cameron wrote down the kids’ chores and drew a picture next to each one, since they can’t read yet. They really liked being able to color the pictures themselves.

At first we were going to laminate the papers so they could check the boxes each day with a dry-erase marker, but then Cameron came up with the idea of just putting a magnet on each box.

These charts make our mornings a little smoother and the kids love to use the magnets to check them off when they're done!

After this picture, I took some of the boring plain magnets we already had, plus a business magnet and cut it up into smaller pieces. Then the kids got to use construction paper, glue and crayons to make their own magnets just for the chore charts!

 

Amy

 

The Swimsuit Lesson* came recommend to us by a lady who teaches child safety. I borrowed it using the inter-library loan system and read it to Gracia. It’s a great book for teaching kids about private parts being….well…private! In a simple and kid-friendly way the mom in the book teaches her kids that nobody should touch them in any place that their swimsuits cover.

God has given us adults the huge job of protecting kids, but all to often, because of our own embarrassment we don’t ever talk to them about protecting themselves from sexual abuse. While this book isn’t the only way to talk to young kids, it can definitely be a great tool in helping!

*This is my Amazon Affiliate link, I earn a percentage if you purchase it through my link, but if you want to be frugal (since that’s what my blog is all about anyways) I won’t be offended if you simply get the book from your library like I did, and remember if they don’t have it, ask about inter-library loan!

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