Taking Life One Step At A Time

Taking Life One Step At  A Time

Friday, September 26, 2014

Potty Train Quickly and With Minimal Stress

Image from adventureswiththepooh.wordpress.com

I'll start right out with this: I hate potty training. With child number five I spent several weeks in denial before finally admitting that the day to start was staring me right in the face. But I'm about to let you in on a little secret about potty training. It can be done with just one seriously intense day and about a week of reminders for your little one.

The first thing we've done is let go of the expectation that our 18 month old or 2 year old will potty train successfully. We wait until our kids are three years old. This is especially for boys, but I'd wait with girls until at least closer to 2 1/2. There are several cognitive abilities that need to be developed before children are ready to train. They must be able to hear, remember, and obey at least three simple directions at once. So, something like, "Run to the potty, pull down your undies, and pee," must be a reasonable request.

(A lot of people talk about using peeing dolls to aid in their child's understanding. Hogwash! Why go and buy an expensive doll that drinks and pees when you can just set your child up in the bathroom with Mom or Dad (depending on the sex of your child) to watch an actual live person? Dolls are great for pretend, but you want your child to go potty in reality. So show them how.)

We begin by really talking up the potty experience long before we actually start using the potty. We build anticipation and talk about how diapers are for babies and undies are for big boys/girls. We let our child watch us go potty to get an idea of what he'll be doing. And we talk about it in excited tones and with big smiles.

On the day of, we take off the diaper in the morning and congratulate our child on becoming a big boy. It is absolutely crucial to this method that you switch completely to underwear! Even at bedtime. Yes, it sounds painful for mom and dad, and it can be, but it is necessary to give the message that they are no longer a baby and only wear underwear.

We take our child to the potty. Most of our boys have started out by standing. Three year old boys are typically just the right height to stand at the potty. They don't need to direct their pee because it just heads straight into the toilet. We've had one boy prefer to start sitting, but within a week he was willing to try standing. Sometimes, putting cheerios into the toilet for boys to aim at can be very helpful. Girls are easier because they don't have to aim. Sit them on the seat and let them go!

One tip I haven't personally tried but have heard works well is turning children to face the back of the toilet when sitting. It allows them to hug the tank and feel more secure on the toilet. I typically let my children hug me if they feel insecure, so I haven't tried turning them around, but it sounds like a great idea (and a back saver for mom!).

It may take a few times of trying before your child really gets the feeling of going potty. We had one child try for the entire day and finally at 8pm went 9 times in a row in the potty. What a relief! Most kids don't take that long.

You begin by first having your child feel the front of their undies. You ask if the undies are dry or wet and he will reply with dry. You praise him for having dry undies! Explain that dry undies are comfortable and that dry undies are what we want to have. Have your child try to go potty. Even if they can't yet, it's okay. Tell them that you are proud of them for trying. Since their undies are dry, let them have a treat. My kids love candy and it's a rarity in the house. We just put out a bowl of m&m's and whenever they have dry undies, they get one.

Set your timer for 10 minutes and let your child play. At the end of 10 minutes, go to your child and have them check their undies. Are they dry or wet? If dry, praise them and bring them to the bathroom to try going. If they have stayed dry through trying, give them a treat.

If your child is able to actually pee into the toilet, throw a party! Call a family member or friend who will celebrate on the phone with you. Clap and cheer and make a huge deal out of it. Give the child 2 m&m's for going in the potty.

Continue to set the timer for every 10 minutes that first day. It's a long day. Long. It may be wise to begin on a day when your spouse can relieve you from potty duty halfway through the day. If you have older children, involve them in the process.

It WILL happen that your child will wet in their underwear. When you ask your child to check their undies and the response is that the undies are wet, the real work begins. This is the time to practice getting to the potty. Voice your dismay at wet undies. Explain that when he needs to pee, he should run to the bathroom. Then say, "Let's practice!" Grab his hand and run with him to the bathroom. Pull down the wet undies and have him try going. If he can't pee (which he usually can't because he's just gone in his undies), pull up the wet underwear. Leave the wet undies on! This sounds awful, but it's a key part of the training. Go to a different spot in the house and start the exercise over again. Ask if the undies are dry. Of course, you'll get the answer that they aren't. Remind your child that when he needs to pee, he must run to the bathroom. Run with him and have him try to go again. Do this 10 times. Yes, 10 times.

At first, your child will think this is a fun game. After a few times of wet underwear, he'll hate it and so will you. But it very clearly sends the message that wet undies are undesirable. He'll very quickly learn that it's worth it to get to the potty before he pees.

Once the practice is done and you've accomplished your 10th try of running to the bathroom, you give your child fresh, dry underwear. Then have him check and praise him for having dry undies. Give him an m&m. If at any time during the practice he is able to get some pee into the potty, praise him and discontinue the practice. Give him fresh undies and a treat.

I have trained 5 children with this method and all have been using the potty consistently by the end of the first day. Typically they still have about one accident a day for the first three or four days. When your child takes himself to the bathroom without any prompting, you can consider him trained. That sometimes takes up to a week. Until then, continue prompting, but stretch the amount of time between prompts.


Push the fluids on the day of potty training. The more your child drinks the more opportunities for success they will have.

Have a special treat for bowel movements. These are sometimes scary for kids, so promising a really special treat can help them buck up their courage.

Plan to be home for about a week. Until your child is really comfortable with using the bathroom in your home, you shouldn't introduce a different bathroom. And for a long time (months), any time you go out, point out where the bathroom is immediately upon arriving at your destination.

Fill the day with positives. The practice times are hard emotionally. Be sure that you are filling up your child with positive remarks all day long. And maybe order in pizza as a positive for you!

Set a flannel backed plastic tablecloth underneath your child's bedsheet. Bed wetting will happen in the beginning. Be prepared with extra sheets, underwear, and a blanket on hand.

Plastic underwear covers are your friend. If potty training in the summer, beware that these cause your child to sweat. But these will keep most of the pee in the underwear cover instead of on the bed. And it allows your child to still feel the sensation of wetness intead of absorbing it like a diaper or pull up would.

Have patience, and take this all with a grain of salt. With six kids, I now know that there is no formula to parenting. What works for your friend's kids may not work for yours. And what works for one child in a family may not work for their siblings. With that said, please recognize that while this method has worked for five of my children, please do not use it if you feel it won't work for yours. You know your children best!

Good Vibes, Positive Thoughts, and Prayer

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A friend posted something on facebook the other day asking for prayer about an upcoming trial in life. Several people chimed in offering their support through prayer and many sent well wishes. Others said they'd be sending good vibes and positive thoughts. All mean well, but it has me wondering something. Just what will good vibes and positive thoughts do for this friend of mine?

Oh sure, she might be encouraged to know her friends are thinking of her. It's always nice to know that people care about you. But really, when the tough day comes, how will those good vibes help her?

As Christians, it's really easy to say, "I'll pray for you," whenever a friend expresses a need. But it's time to evaluate. Are we really doing what we promise?

When I first moved to St. Louis, a very wise woman shared with me that she had decided to forego using the phrase "I'll pray for you." Instead she would take the friend or acquaintance aside and pray for and with them on the spot. She didn't wait. She said, "Let's pray about that now." If the opportunity to pray at that moment wasn't feasible, she had a different phrase. She'd say, "I'll pray for you whenever the Lord brings you to mind." Now that's a promise you can keep!

The Bible tells us that prayer is the most powerful tool we have. It gives us direct access to GOD!! When we pray, we are going before the throne of the living God. We are placing our friends, our loved ones, those we meet, and even some we've never encountered, into the Lord's hands. We are recognizing His authority and His power. And if you want to understand the power of prayer, just read a few accounts in the Bible. Passages such as when Abraham prayed for the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 18), times when Moses prayed for the Israelites (Exodus 32), Hannah's prayer for a child (1 Samuel 1), Paul and Silas's prayer in prison (Acts 16). God hears our prayers and he answers.

Which brings me back to these good vibes and positive thoughts. If prayer is the tool that brings us and our loved ones into the presence of Almighty God, what do these vibes and thoughts do? Are thoughts the same as prayers?

I have to say that thoughts aren't the same as prayer. I used to trick myself into thinking that if I had thought much of someone during the day, it equated to me having prayed much for them. But that's a nasty little trick the father of lies wants us to believe. It keeps us from actually spending time in prayer to God. Prayer is a conversation with God. Thinking is a conversation with oneself. Thinking of a person is great ... for you. But it does nothing to improve anything for the other party. Of course, you could easily make a case that thinking of someone leads you to check in on them and offer help. If that actually happens, then kudos to you! But I know that in my own life, it is a rare friend who offers to pray and then will actually follow up with questions or a phone call days later. If thinking leads you to action, that's terrific. But it's still not as powerful as prayer.

I'm not even sure where to go with the good vibes thing. I'm guessing that thought emerges from the belief that we are all connected by our energy. If I think positively of you (sending you good vibes) then you'll somehow subconsciously pick up on that positive vibration and it will have a good effect on your body/mind/soul. Honestly I don't get it. I could sit in the living room sending positive vibes to my cranky toddler all day long and it won't improve his mood. He'd simply think I was being a selfish and neglectful mommy sitting alone on the couch while he has needs in the other room.

Friends, can we do this: when we want to positively impact someone, let's actually do the monumental and life-changing task of praying for them. Stop sending vibes and thoughts that are only impacting you. Take your friends before the throne of grace and put them and their needs into the hands of the Creator. Far more will be accomplished. It doesn't take much time; it doesn't have to be long. You don't have to be on your knees or in a quiet place. Pray with out ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Can you imagine what could be accomplished if we actually took that to heart? Oh, that it would be so!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Ordinary Grows Beauty

I recently watched this video promoting Francis and Lisa Chan's book "You and Me Forever".

The video features our friends, Mike and Sharon, who, after having three children went on to adopt nine more. Their children are growing up and some have reached adulthood and are doing amazing things for the Kingdom of God. It's easy to look at their family and think that their life must be charmed. But I know they have faced plenty of hardships and difficulties. Sharon says it in her own words in the video and this particular quote stuck with me long after the video stopped playing.

"Serving God takes a lot of submission and a lot of repetitious, unglamorous work. I think people can look at our family and see 12 vivacious kids and think, 'Wow! What a beautiful thing!' But that involved years and years of doing the same thing over and over again. You have to be willing to make yourself nothing sometimes and then He blesses those efforts in the end and makes it into something beautiful."

I love this quote because it so well describes what life really is. Behind every person doing great things for the Lord is a lot of day in and day out faithfulness. It takes me straight to the verse I have adopted as my motto for these years with children at home. "Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin." (Zechariah 4:10) And this, "Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more." (Luke 12:48)

Probably very few of those reading this will have 12 kids like the Dennehy clan. And none of us will have identical lives to each other. But each of us has been given much with which to be faithful. Perhaps it's your work, your family, your possessions, your ministry, your friends. We all have small beginnings in our lives; areas in which we are called to work faithfully. Things that require day in and day out, over and over again actions. Things that can seem monotonous, dull, and frustrating in the moment.

Whether or not you look closely enough at someone's life to see the mundane, it is there. I know it is present in my life. The question then is not, "Will I have to do the mundane, ordinary things to serve God?" The question is, "How can I be faithful in doing the mundane and ordinary?"

The answer? Keep on. Do the next thing and practice thankfulness. Remember your blessings and from whom they come. Be faithful even in these little things and God will make something beautiful out of the ordinary.

High Rise Apple Pancakes

It's the time of year for apples. Apple pie, apple crisp, applesauce, apples with caramel ... there are so many delicious things to do with apples!

One of our favorites is a little known recipe for High Rise Apple Pancakes also sometimes called German Apple Pancakes. They are simple to make and soooo good as a dinner, breakfast, or dessert.

You may want to double the recipe though, because it's hard to eat just one helping!

High Rise Apple Pancakes:
(serves 3-4)

Heat oven to 450 degrees with a large cast iron pan (if you have one) in the oven.
(If doubling the recipe, use two pans)

While the oven is heating, prepare the batter and topping.

2 eggs slightly beaten
1/2 C flour
1/2 C milk
1/4 t salt
1 T butter
Combine ingredients and beat until smooth.

When the oven reaches 450 degrees, coat skillet with butter; immediately pour in the batter.
Bake in the lowest rack of the oven at 450 for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350; bake for 10 minutes.

While the batter is cooking, cook the topping.

1/4 C butter
1/2 t cinnamon
4-6 C apples, sliced
1/2 C sugar

Melt butter in skillet over low heat. Add apple mixture; cover and cook until apples are tender while the batter is cooking in the oven.

When the batter is done, pull it out of the oven. Slice and serve covered with apple mixture. Serve immediately.