Sunday, June 29, 2008

Choices, choices

About a month ago, I blogged about the ideas we got from the book Parenting with Love and Logic. Since then, we've tailored some of their ideas to our own situation and personalities. One way we've done this is by using choices to help lead Ian to a result that is not an option. For instance, all the steps leading up to a nap are laden with choices for him. "Do you want to sit on the big potty or the little potty? Do you want the grey sweatpants or the green sweatpants? Do you want the blue blanket or the green blanket? Do you want the duck book or the doggie book?" The wonderful thing about all these choices is that none of the specifics matter to us. What does matter to us is that he's still going potty, he's still putting on sweatpants, and he's still going down for a nap, but he feels like he's a part of the process and does everything much more willingly.

For another example, Ian often likes to climb into his own car seat now, instead of being placed there by us, and when we try to force him into the seat because he's taking too long (playing with the buckles, etc.), it's a struggle, to say the least! However, if we simply say to him as we're approaching the car, "Ian, do you want to get in your car seat by yourself, or do you want Mommy/Daddy to put you in?", he can answer either way and he knows what to expect when he gets in the car. Getting in the car seat is not an option, but how he gets in there is. The "Do you want to ______, or do you want Mommy/Daddy to ______" is a very powerful tool. It puts him in the driver's seat while still putting him on the right road to where we want to go. It seems that it's all about setting the stage for the situation so he knows what to expect.

In dealing with undesired behavior, the choices also work quite well. If he's being exorbitantly loud at dinner, we calmly tell him, "You can either sit nicely and quietly in your chair, or you can play on the floor without food. Which do you want to do: eat or play?" If he chooses to eat, but continues to have inappropriate table manners (we're talking about things a 2-year-old reasonably has control over -- his mouth and loud antics), we gently take him down out of his chair and his supper is over, which means he probably goes to bed a little hungry. We've only had to do this once so far. An empty tummy is a powerful consequence to misbehavior related to food. However, a full tummy and the enjoyment of dinner is also a powerful consequence and motivation to straighten up. The trick is coming up with consequences that are applicable to the situation, and making it clear that the action leading to those consequences is his own choice.

I can't help but think that these choices are helping him become a more responsible individual, in the long run. I hope that the more situations he comes across to learn from his choices, the better choices he'll make as he gets older. All of this mixed with empathy and instruction about God's love may lead him in the right direction. I hope! Like my friend Anne says, it's kind of like "preventive" parenting: staying one step ahead of your child and predicting what might set him/her off, then being upfront with the child about the situation so that their actions really are their choice.

Sunday, June 22, 2008


by Lisa

For those of you not on Facebook, here is an update of our latest projects that we've been doing!

Eric decided to use his power tools for the last time in a year (they'll be put in storage while we're living in the apartment this year) and build a TV cabinet with doors so our TV isn't "staring" at us all the time! He stained it a similar color to our coffee table and end tables, and it matches almost perfectly! I'm so impressed with his woodworking abilities! Here are some pictures of the finished product:

I, on the other hand, realized that a lot of our artwork and wall hangings that we had hanging in our living room were very low on color (our walls do all the "coloring" for them!), and that we'll be living in an all-white apartment with light beige carpeting. Not too inspiring. So I decided, instead of spending tons of money on artwork, to make my own! I used pre-made stretched canvas and acrylics to make three wall hangings. It was the first time I had picked up an artist's paintbrush in nine years, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Here are some pictures of how they turned out:
While our handiwork is certainly not commercial quality, we have really enjoyed creating things with our own hands these past couple of weeks and putting our own stamp on our furniture and decorations. It's been fun, and we'll enjoy the outcomes for years to come!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


Ian loves "watching" us make dinner or whatever we happen to be doing at the kitchen counter. He pushes a dining room chair into the kitchen and puts it right up against the cabinet so he can see what's going on up there on the counter. Sometimes, he "helps", but most of the time there are knives and other non-kid-friendly things involved, so he's relegated to watching. We soften the blow of not being able to help by feeding him appetizers of his favorite veggies: carrots, cucumbers, green (or red) peppers, tomatoes, etc. It's a great way to get some veggies in him before dinner even starts (so we're less worried when he only goes for the meat and starch at the table), and to keep him occupied while we work! Making dinner has become a family affair!

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Reading with Dad

Hello! It's definitely summer! We've got Indiana's famous high-heat, high-humidity concoction of weather sitting right on our doorstep, and it looks like it's going to be staying for a while. The thunderstorms have moved away for a couple of days, but according to, they'll be back later this week to add more water to the too much we already have! Some of you may have seen reports about the flooding in our area. It's been pretty crazy. Two of my co-workers are still stuck in Indianapolis due to roads being closed between there and Bloomington. Hopefully, the water will start to recede soon and we won't have any more damage.

So because of the yucky weather lately, we've been spending more time indoors. Here's a video we took yesterday of Ian and Eric reading together in the nice, cool air conditioning.

Reading is one of our favorite family activities. There are many evenings where Eric and I don't even turn on the TV, but instead, sit in the living room and read. It's a very relaxing way to spend time together. Sometimes Eric even reads to me out loud, which is so much fun and a great way to share our favorite books with each other. Ian loves books, too, and we spend a lot of time reading to him each day. He has some favorites right now: Dr. Seuss' "Oh the Places You'll Go," "Winnie the Pooh and Honey Tree" (one of my personal favorites), and a library book called "Tough Trucks" that we recently ordered from Barnes & Noble because he likes it so much. We're finally getting away from just picture books and into the realm of books with more words on each page. He really seems to be enjoying stories now. It's fun to see your child developing interests in things you like to do as well!