Emily Post, perhaps the queen of all things mannerly, said this: “Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter what fork you use.”
As a brand-new mom over eight years ago, the most helpful book I read was On Becoming Baby Wise: Giving Your Infant the Gift of Nighttime Sleep by Gary Ezzo and Robert Bucknam, M.D. This was the book I turned to over and over again for practical advice on helping my infant sleep, eat and play well.
I’ll say upfront that I understand that not everyone is a “schedule” type person. I know Moms who have great success at just going with the flow, especially as the number of children you have increases. However, I do happen to function at my best when I have at least a skeleton of a plan. Being a first-time parent, it gave me a sense of security to know what to plan for and expect at different times of the day. Therefore, I recommend to others to at least try a schedule, even if it’s just a basic one that includes having meals, naps and bedtime around the same time each day.
One thing I appreciate about Gary Ezzo’s books is that he begins by emphasizing the husband and wife relationship as the most important one in a family. I highly agree. So often, when a baby is added to the marriage, everything in life begins to revolve around the child and his or her needs. While a baby definitely has needs to be met and often requires a lot of attention, especially in the beginning, it is so important to continue to create time and space for the husband and wife to be together. (Speaking of which, a wonderful friend has offered to keep our girls so that John and I can go out on a date Friday night! Yay!)
On Becoming Babywise then moves on to discuss feeding philosophies, concluding the section by recommending parent-directed feeding, in which “baby’s life is guided by a flexible routine.” This leads into the following chapter on babies and sleep. The only way I can judge the recommendations from this chapter is on how they worked for me. Both of my girls were excellent sleepers, sleeping at least six hours straight at night by the time they were between six and eight weeks old. Let me just say that I am one who needs my sleep and what a blessing it was to have them sleeping through the night very early. This chapter also mentions sleep props, one of which could be rocking your baby to sleep. I loved rocking my babies and would occasionally rock them to sleep, but most often rocked them until they were only very drowsy, then put them in their crib to actually fall asleep.
The book proceeds to talk about facts on feeding, another chapter that I found very helpful. I did nurse our girls, but was not one of those moms who love every minute of it and rave about what a wonderful experience it is! I nursed them because I was physically able to, personally felt it to be the healthiest option and, on the practical side, it was the most frugal choice. I understand that not everyone decides to do it that way and certainly respect each mom’s decision.
Chapters six and seven address what your baby’s routine might look like and includes suggested activities for baby’s waketime. If I had errands to run, I normally did those in the mornings as that seemed to be the best time for me and was also when my babies were awake the longest and seemed to be the most content. Chapter eight talks about discerning baby’s different cries, something that it doesn’t take most moms very long to figure out. I had one daughter who, as a baby, went through a stage where she cried for a few minutes each night when I put her in her crib. It was as though she needed that time to let things out, then she went right to sleep.
After a chapter on having multiples (I was able to skip that one!), the book concludes with chapters on problem solving and “parenting potpourri.” Subjects range from baby equipment to pacifiers to teething. I found both of these chapters offered good advice. (There is a final brief chapter on introducing Babywise principles if your baby is a little older.)
I highly recommend reading this book if you are expecting a child or have a new baby. You may not use or agree with everything in the book. I find there are few, if any, books that I read and follow in total. However, I can almost always find something that is applicable to my situation and use it to help me be a better parent.
Pasta is one of our girls’ favorite foods. It doesn’t have to be fancy; last night it was fettucine tossed with olive oil, parmesan cheese and a little salt and pepper. They basically licked the bowl clean. Since Jessica at Life is Mom is holding an “Ultimate Recipe Swap” and this week’s theme is pasta dishes, I thought I’d share one we enjoy here. It was hard to narrow it down; but, since we started out the week with cold temperatures, I was in the “comfort food” frame of mind. Hence, here’s my favorite chicken lasagna recipe.
12 ounces egg noodles
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
4 cups chicken broth
4 cups cubed cooked chicken
3 cups cottage cheese
2 eggs, slightly beaten
8 ounces mozzarella cheese, grated
Parmesan cheese, grated
Cook egg noodles according to package directions; set aside. Melt butter over medium heat in a saucepan; blend in flour, salt and pepper and cook until smooth. Slowly add broth and stir until sauce is thick and bubbly. Stir in chicken; set aside. In separate bowl, combine cottage cheese and eggs; set aside. In 9x13x2 inch baking dish, layer as follows: 1/3 of chicken mixture, 1/2 of cooked egg noodles, 1/2 of cottage cheese mixture, and 1/2 of mozzarella cheese. Repeat layers, ending with chicken mixture. Sprinkle heavily with Parmesan cheese. Bake uncovered for approximately 1 hour at 350 degrees.
[You can also make this ahead and freeze it. When ready to use, thaw for 24 hours in refrigerator and bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 1 to 1 1/2 hours.]
One day soon I’ll share one of our favorite summer pasta recipes! Check out Life as Mom for more great pasta dishes.
This edition of Teaching Tuesday is about letters. I would encourage you to introduce letters to your child at an early age, but NOT in a formal sense. There are many ways to incorporate the ABC’s into your day and have them become part of your play. Here are a few ideas that I used with our girls when they were very young.
- Read books that are centered around letters. One of my older daughter’s favorite books when she was around two years old was Dr. Seuss’ ABC book. Let’s just say I had it memorized! I have seen many cute books for young children that use letters as a basis for a story. Check these out at the library and read them during your reading time with your child.
- Play with blocks that have letters on them. For her second Christmas, my daughter received a set of very nice wooden blocks from my grandmother. They had letters in color on the sides. While these were great for building, they were also useful in playing other games such as finding letters that were the same and teaching letter names.
- I was able to find foam letter shapes that could be used in the bathtub. Both girls played with these, getting them wet and then sticking them up on the side of the tub. Again, we could name the letters or try to find the letter that started their name.
- One of the neatest things I found was a large rug that had the alphabet printed on it. It was actually decorative and very pretty; we bought it for our older daughter when she was about eighteen months old. In her room, she would play with her toys on it; however, she would also notice the letters and as we were playing on it, we would talk about what the names of the letters were. For some reason, she developed an affinity for the letter Z! It was one of the first letters she learned and she loved to find it in books and point it out.
- Using sidewalk chalk, write some letters on your sidewalk or driveway and see if your child can find a certain letter and jump on it.
- At snack time, form the shape of a letter on a plate with cheerios or another small snack food and see if they can name the letter.
These are just a few fun things we did together in an informal way to introduce the girls to letters. I’d love to hear ideas you may have used in this area with your children!
When it comes to being a Mom, it’s very easy to get wrapped up in the daily struggles and forget to focus on the big picture. God has given us the precious gift of children and we have only a certain amount of time to prepare them for life. I was recently reminded by a post at Life as Mom how important it is to set goals for myself as a Mom and then find practical ways to work toward reaching those goals. Here are my initial thoughts as I considered the kind of Mom I want to be.
I want to be a Godly mom who is supportive of her daughters through
- time spent together doing fun and serious activities, realizing how quickly time goes by;
- providing every opportunity for them to reach their God-given potential; and
- open, positive communication about what’s going on in their lives.
I started with prayer because I have come to realize (what I have known all along) that only God can work in a person’s heart and spirit and help them to become all that He would have them to be. There are so many areas in which I can pray for my girls: health, friendships, right attitudes, finding God’s will for their lives, future spouse. I also need to pray for myself that I will continually give them over to God and allow Him to work and lead in their lives.
As for time spent together, I believe that takes planning and preparation. I want to find activities that we can do together as a family. For example, I have scheduled us to attend a free kids’ cooking class next month. A few weeks ago, we attended a Charlotte’s Web play, then went out for dessert afterwards. However, not everything has to be a “big event.” It could be something as simple as a family game night or a picnic in the backyard. Another area I am exploring now that the girls are a little bit older is finding a volunteer opportunity that we can all participate in – a way to help others by working together. I want to keep in mind that they won’t be this age for long and I want to make the most of it.
With each girl, I am trying to keep my eyes open to potential gifts and talents they may have. One of them is currently going through a writing phase – “journaling” and writing little stories. Whether it’s musical or athletic ability, drama or art, I want to allow them to explore areas of interest to them and support them in it, even if it’s not something in which I’m particularly interested. The goal is to help them develop talents that can be used to serve the Lord and others throughout their lives.
Finally, I strongly desire to keep the lines of communication open. I think a large part of this is just being available – in the car, at meals, at bedtime. I’m hoping that being able to listen now to whatever they have to say and being interested in what’s going on in their lives will bode well for those coming teenage years. As the weeks go by, I hope to keep these thoughts in the forefront of my mind that I might seek to meet the goals I have set and accomplish the purpose God has for me as a mother.
I’ll be up front with you here….I promise not to have a theme for every day of the week. I’m a relatively scheduled, organized person, but that makes even me a little crazy. However, with my background in education, Teaching Tuesday was just too good to pass up. So, every Tuesday I’ll do a post on a teaching idea or tip that I’ve used or heard about.
Since I’m just beginning my blog, I have to start with the most basic concept of all. Read to your child. Start as early as possible and don’t stop. This one came naturally for me because I love to read. I know my Mom read stacks and stacks of books to us as children. I read to both of my girls while they were in the womb.
Once they were born, we established a habit of reading two books (or stories) before naptime each day and another book, along with a story from a Bible storybook, at bedtime. Many days we read more than that, but at least I knew we had those times scheduled for reading even if the rest of our day was too hectic to fit it in.
We’ve moved past naptime now (except for me some days!), but we continue our bedtime reading every night. The neat thing is that I’m getting to re-read some of my childhood favorites. What a joy to see my girls as enthralled with them as I was! I read a great article yesterday from Amy at Literacy Launchpad regarding treating books as family heirlooms. Go here to read her post.
Just a little more about me………I am in my late thirties (for a little bit longer!) and am married to a wonderful, supportive husband named John. We have two daughters, ages eight and six. I grew up in a truly Christian home; my dad has been a pastor for over thirty years and I have two brothers and a sister, all of whom I love dearly. I was saved at a young age and am so thankful for the privilege of having many years of seeking to know and serve God more.
I have a college degree in early childhood education and taught in an elementary school for six years. I have also worked as an executive secretary in a hospital system and briefly as an office manager for a design firm. The last eight years of my life have been primarily spent being a stay-at-home wife and mother.
One of the greatest desires of my heart is to have our girls grow up loving and serving God. Through this blog, I hope to find others with the same goal so that we might share ideas and inspirations, trials and triumphs through the coming years. I hope you’ll join me!
Welcome to my little piece of the World Wide Web! I’m excited to begin blogging about subjects that are near and dear to my heart. I hope you’ll join me on this journey of learning and growing as a mom of two young girls. I hope to share things I’ve learned (and am learning!) and also be exposed to new ideas from you!
Having been saved at an early age, I approach blogging from a Christian perspective, seeking to glorify God by rearing daughters who can fulfill their God-given potential. Let’s talk about lots of topics: big ones, like educating our children, sibling rivalry and putting faith into practice; and other topics that are just for fun – favorite books, toys and foods!
I’ll share stories from our family and hope to get to know more about yours. It all begins on Monday with a series I hope to share for several weeks – Mannerly Monday! Join me then!