Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Our Three-Pronged Approach to Disciplining With Love

A couple of days ago, I was sifting through old files on an old computer and I came across a document entitled "Discipline." I opened it up, and Sam and I laughed and laughed as we read through the guidelines we had come up with to discipline 1-year-old Talmage (who is now 6) for various behaviors. For "putting rocks and dirt in mouth" we allowed him 5 attempts to eat said materials while we removed them from his mouth and said "kuh-kuh" (yes, it was spelled out in the document...) before we would take him inside. There were consequences for getting cords and plugs, for biting, for refusing to say please, and much more...and they were incredibly specific and tedious!

As we enjoyed a good laugh over our naive parenting, Sam commented that it made him feel good to see that he had actually improved as a father over the years--but at least we were trying to be conscientious!

As time has gone on, we've gradually whittled out our approach to disciplining our children with love.
It can be summed up using three known phrases:

1-One Strike, You're Out
It may sound harsh, but we realized that it was sending a mixed message to our kids when we gave repeated warnings before finally giving a consequence. When we respond immediately to their behavior, we avoid nagging, we teach them to obey the first time, and we are able to better keep our emotions in check and give consequences calmly.
(This is the guideline I struggle with the most--I tend to want to give second chances and find myself nagging more than I should!)

2-Speak Softly and Carry a Big Stick
To be honest, I don't really like this phrase, but it fits our second disciplining guideline perfectly. Our goal is to always stay calm and be loving as we give consequences--but we try to make the consequences hurt sufficiently to prevent the behavior in the future. Not only does this remove anger from our end of the interaction, but it encourages the idea that consequences are a result of behavior--not a result of a parent's anger. For example, if one of the kids throws food, we may take their plate away and say, "I'm sorry you made that choice...I wish I didn't have to take your food away, but when you throw food you don't get to keep it." Our kids still get mad about consequences, but their anger is directed more toward the consequence and less toward us. Another big part of this guideline is to follow through. I cringe when I hear idle threats like, "Come now or we're leaving you!" If we propose a potential consequence, we must be prepared to execute it.

3-The Punishment Must Fit the Crime
This guideline is pretty self-explanatory. We try to give consequences that are directly related to the negative behavior exhibited by our kids. For example, when our 4-year-old loses his temper and screams at someone, he gets a bit of cayenne pepper or vinegar on his tongue because he used his mouth incorrectly. Hitting may result in a few minutes of arm-folding, name-calling is followed by compliment-giving, and if we ask the kids to do a chore and discover them playing instead, the distracting toy is confiscated or thrown away. I believe that time-outs have their time and place when a child needs to be removed from a situation to calm down, but it usually doesn't make a lot of sense to me to isolate a child as a consequence for bad behavior.

Of course, these guidelines are very specific to our family and what works for our kids.
I always hesitate to give parenting advice because each family is so different, and our experience may be completely different from someone else's.
Perhaps someday we'll look back at these guidelines and find ourselves laughing once again at our naivete, but in the meantime, articulating our approach to disciplining helps us be consistent, it helps Sam and I be unified in our parent-child interactions, and it helps us stay calm and know how to respond in moments of stress.

I'd love to hear some approaches to discipline from other parents!
What works for your family?

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Capturing Beauty

I've been working on my photography skills since our first baby was born and I would take about 50 pictures of him every day, trying to capture the perfect facial expression and create the ideal composition.
For about 6 years, though, I was limited by my point-and-shoot camera and I longed to someday have a camera that would allow me to create beautiful works of art.
Last summer, my parents generously gave us a combined birthday/Christmas gift of a DSLR camera, and learning to use it over the past year has been a joy and has given me a creative outlet.
Although I still feel that I have a long way to go in my photography,
I've made a lot of progress.

I've had the opportunity to do a good number of photo sessions for family and friends, I've acquired a couple of lenses and learned how to use them, I've taken an online photography course and received my certification, and I've learned how to use Photoshop.
And yet, as gratifying as it has been to create images like these for clients:

I find the greatest satisfaction in using my developing skills to capture the essence of daily life with my own family in an artistic way.
You see, the basics of motherhood and family life have an unsurpassed beauty to me--
and so capturing my 2-year-old's smirk as he dribbles milk down his chin
and doing so with sharp focus, soft lighting, and gentle edits helps express externally what I feel inside and what is the main theme of this blog...that there is incredible beauty in life's everyday moments.
And it is in large part for that reason that, amidst the struggle to balance my life and prioritize correctly, continuing to learn about photography feels like a worthwhile pursuit to me.

Monday, April 18, 2016

25 Weeks

We're halfway through the 20s, and I'm thrilled about it!
The 20s are always kind of a hard part of pregnancy for me...
it seems I've been pregnant for so long and yet there is still such a long time to wait to meet this new little piece of my heart.
I've been keeping busy with my long list of projects to do before this little guy arrives,
so pardon the sporadic posting!
Someday I may get back to daily posting,
but in the struggle to maintain correct priorities at times this blog goes on the back burner.

As far as the pregnancy goes, I'm feeling pretty well.
I have a fairly long abdomen and I find that rather than getting a cute little bump,
my whole torso just swells up at once.
As my sister-in-law said, "You have a column, not a bump!"
However, I've gained a surprising amount of weight and this little guy is measuring so big that they're about to send me in for another ultrasound to make sure everything is normal.
Each of our boys has been about a pound bigger than the last--
Talmage was 7 lbs, 7 oz, Wesley was 8 lbs, 9 oz, and Lincoln was 9 lbs, 3 oz--
so when Lincoln was born my doctor told me that if we had another it may be a 10 lb baby!
We'll see if his prediction proves to be true.

In any case, he is still a big time mover.
I wish I could see exactly what he is doing because his movements seem so bizarre and rapid at times that I can't fathom how a tiny baby could create such a sensation.
It will definitely be interesting to see what he's like as a newborn!

I had a teacher in high school who insisted that God gave mothers the gift of forgetfulness
so that they would continue to have babies because they couldn't remember how painful and difficult it was.
Maybe he was right, but I prefer to think of it not as forgetfulness but as the divine love Elder Jeffrey R. Holland spoke about last October. He quoted a mother who wrote to him,
"How is it that a human being can love a child so deeply that you willingly give up a major portion of your freedom for it? How can mortal love be so strong that you voluntarily subject yourself to responsibility, vulnerability, anxiety, and heartache and just keep coming back for more of the same?...Maternal love has to be divine. There is no other explanation for it. What mothers do is an essential element of Christ's work."
Read his full talk here.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Front Yard Signs of Spring

Isn't springtime glorious? I love watching the daily changes in the plants and seeing the hope of new life.

And my personal favorite:

Monday, April 4, 2016

Little Bits of Life

I often wish I could be a fly on the wall at others' houses,
just to see what their routine is like and to learn from their daily lives.
Sometimes I question whether or not I ought to share so much of our daily lives on this blog,
but then I remember the beauty found in the little moments--
I hope our little moments can serve an uplifting purpose in a world filled with so much negativity
and I desire to preserve these moments through photo and text for my own use and reflection.

And so it continues.

We enjoyed Spring Break last week, and although we didn't do anything spectacular,
I tried to take the boys on an outing each day.
We visited Mrs. Cavanaugh's chocolate factory, went to the children's Church History Museum exhibit, went to tour the Conference Center before General Conference, and went to BYU to enjoy the Bean Museum, the Paleontology Museum, and the creamery (per my boys' request!).
We also went to the DI to pick out an assortment of new books to add to our library, something we enjoy doing on a regular basis!
Sam and I enjoyed a pottery class date night my sister gifted us for Christmas--it was totally amazing! I am so excited to get our finished pieces back.

We are so glad the weather is warming up because it means a return of backyard sports.
Yesterday evening Sam took the boys in the backyard and began acting out scripture stories with them.
Talmage came running inside to grab his bow to use as a prop and breathlessly gave me an excited summary of their activity.
As he grabbed his bow and turned to run back outside he exclaimed,
"I'm so glad I have a dad to play with me!!! I am so lucky!"

Life has been pretty routine lately,
but the routine is completely exquisite when I allow it to be.
Here are a few snapshots of our daily life:

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Tuning In

Today our family has been tuning in to the LDS General Conference!
This is one of our favorite times of the year.
Our boys have been counting down the days all week in preparation for our "General Conference Party."

The messages shared in the conference bring hope to the struggling,
peace to the conflicted,
encouragement to the downtrodden,
and enlightenment to those seeking answers.

All followers of Christ, regardless of their individual religious affiliation,
will find much in these messages that resonates with them.
I encourage all to tune in with us tomorrow on!

For starters, one of my favorite talks from today can be found here,
all about the importance of understanding our divine nature as literal children of God.

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