Archive for the ‘parenting’ Category
When Chris and I got married we set some short and long term goals for our family. One of our short term goals was to serve on a mission trip together before we had children. Sadly, we didn’t meet that goal- in the busyness of life it is something that got pushed off time and again. As JT and Kate are growing old enough to understand and follow our example as Christ followers, it has become more and more important to us to live out the gospel intentionally with and before our children. Our desire is to love our neighbors both near and far and to serve widows and orphans the best that we can as a family.
A few months ago Chris was chatting with a coworker about Arbol de Vida, the orphanage that he works with in Juarez, Mexico and that our church happens to support. During the conversation it was mentioned that last year the children had oatmeal for dinner on Thanksgiving. It’s like a lightbulb went on and we saw a need that we could meet. Why not provide Thanksgiving to these children? Why not bring our family down and serve it to them ourselves?
Chris and I have decided to answer God’s call to take our family on an adventure in serving Him over the week of Thanksgiving this year. On November 17 we will be joining the Schrimp family, the Babb family, and possibly two more families in driving 11 hours south to Juarez, Mexico to serve the children and staff at Arbol de Vida. We will be returning on Thanksgiving day, hopefully in time to celebrate with family at home.
We are excited for an opportunity to expose JT, Kate, and James to another culture, to be the hands and feet of Jesus to others, to love some children who can use extra love, to help meet practical needs at the orphanage, to show our children how God gives to us so that we can give to others, and to provide a turkey dinner with all the trimmings to the residents of Arbol de Vida. (Thank goodness I cooked Thanksgiving by myself for the first time last year! God knew what was in store for us this year!)
We are nervous about spending 22 hours+ with our three (very young!) kids in the car (especially since James is still breast feeding every 3 hours!), border crossings and travel in another country, safety on the road and in a town known for violence and drug wars, spending 4 nights in a dormitory (no naps = cranky kids!), exposing our children to the older children of the orphanage (most of the orphans are middle and high school aged), and living and sharing the gospel when we have so much to learn ourselves.
How can you support us on this adventure? First and foremost we need your prayers. We know that all things are possible with God and that prayer is a powerful agent of change. We will face many challenges during this adventure and will need an extra measure of wisdom and grace and patience as we face the unknown. Second, we would appreciate your financial support. We will require gas for the round trip drive, a hotel stay for one night, and groceries, toiletries, and goodies (all of which must be purchased in Mexico) for the children of Arbol de Vida. We would like to lavish the kids and staff with love and practical goods while we are there. If you feel called to support us, whether through prayer or gifts of money please let us know before November 10.
Thank you for your love and support-
Chris, Melody, JT, Kate, and James Benschoter
Well, I admit it. Having three kids is kicking me in the butt. We’re actually doing fine; we eat 3 meals a day plus a snack, we change out of our pajamas (most days!), we’ve made it to church every week since James was 3 weeks old. You know, we’re fine. But I am exhausted! Chris has track season right now, so 4 days a week he doesn’t get home til 5:30 or 6 which is when I try to serve dinner so I’m doing all that without help- and with the addition of my 2 nephews on Mondays and Thursdays. Plus he’s gone all day Saturdays at track meets. James is doing great at giving me long stretches of sleep at night, but JT has started having nightmares and calling for us in the middle of the night several times a week. Gone are the days of sleeping in until 8 or 9, at least one or two of the kids is up by 7 am most days. Which makes it awfully hard for me to take a shower, so I’m lucky to get one every other day lately. Odds of me getting more than half an hour of all three (or five) kids resting at the same time in the afternoon are pretty low. Maybe twice a week I get a decent break- so then it’s always a big decision… do I sleep? shower? start dinner? catch up on email? pay bills? blog?
Anyway, all that to say- Hi. I’ve missed you. Here’s what’s been happening around here lately…
JT has started showing a lot more independence. He’s dressing himself most days, using the potty on his own, helping with snack and meals, doing little things to help with James and Kate. He is a great big brother!
The other day we got the kids loaded up in the car to head to church. While clicking JT in to his seat we noticed he was wearing socks, but no shoes. So I ran in the house and grabbed a pair. Once we got to church I was helping him put them on and I discovered that he was wearing a pair of jeans under his khaki pants! This week he wore his pajama bottoms under his pants. Silly silly boy.
JT watched me using the toilet the other day and asked “Mama, is that tricky how you go pee pee without a penis?”
We had an exercise bike in our foyer and JT pushed it across the room. I asked him how he did it and he said “Well, I was doing really hard work!”
JT climbed up so his feet were higher than my head at the playground!
JT broke out in some wicked hives in the middle of the night all over his legs. He started calling them his “bubblygerks”.
Kate gets super possessive of James. When she’s holding or hugging him she doesn’t want any help and heaven forbid someone else wants a turn!
Kate was watching me breastfeed and noticed the blue veins on my breasts. She became very concerned and said “Blue! Blue! No drawing!” She thought someone had drawn on me.
(please note that two of us are still in our jammies!)
Kate loves to pick out her own hair bows! She has also taken to carrying a pair of footie pajamas around as her lovey. Lucky for us she’s not picky about which pair!
Kate is definitely two- she’s got a real willful streak and she’s likely to melt down over any small injustice. But she’s still super sweet, so kind, really funny and loves to cuddle in with me every chance she gets.
The good news is we’re all happy. The kids love James and don’t seem resentful of the time he takes at all.
We loved having Grandma and Grandpa here for three weeks in March and then our friend Daniel here during spring break. That added some nice variety and was a lot of help!
(please note the kids are actually fighting over the baby- and they’re in their jammies!)
Both big kids are go go go all the time. They are super adventuresome and always climbing and jumping and creating and getting into stuff!
We’ve been having lots of fun playing hide and seek, coloring and using stickers, playing outside (Oh thank you God for the warm spring weather we’ve had!), building with blocks, and reading books.
It’s nearly impossible to get the kids to sit still long enough to take a picture.
This is the best Easter picture we got of the family- do you see how crazed we look?!?
The sweet boy who tipped us over the edge!
James just turned two months old, he weighs 13 pounds 11 ounces which is 87%. He’s a great eater!
He’s smiling and noticing his toys and the people around him now. He’s a great sleeper and he’s pretty easy going.
So you see why I haven’t been on the computer much lately. Most of my Facebook and email time is on the phone while I’m breastfeeding. The blog has just had to go for now. Thanks for understanding, I’ll be around as often as I can!
Naptime has become a bit of a challenge at our house. Kate still desperately needs a good two hours, and mama still desperately needs a good two hours, but James and JT aren’t always willing to cooperate. I’m working on training James (and coming along nicely, I think), but JT is a bit more challenging. Most days he doesn’t nap, which means he’s bored and looking to get into trouble. Now I don’t mind him demolishing his own room, but he also gets into the bathroom. We kept discovering that he had filled a garbage can with water to float his toys in, or used all of the little flossers for some game, or squirted out half of the soap onto the floor. So he lost his bathroom privileges. Which means he needs to ask us to supervise him in the bathroom during naps. And he quickly realized that it is much more fun to call for mommy to take him to go potty 8 times than to play by himself. Aside from the fact that he’s keeping me from napping or showering or interrupting my quiet time, he’s hollering right outside Kate’s door and often wakes her up before she’s ready to wake up cheerful. And the last thing I want is a short nap AND a grumpy girl for the rest of the day.
Now I know some of you are thinking that its too much to ask a three year old to rest quietly for two hours, but I don’t buy it. For one, I think are kids are capable of much more than we regularly expect from them. Two, he can and has done it in the past. In fact he was doing it daily back when he was still in a diaper- it was the whole bathroom thing that did him in. Three, while some moms may not need as much down time as I do, I find that if I don’t have a few hours to myself I go a little crazy. It is much easier to parent when I am recharged. Four, when else am I going to sneak some chocolate into my diet? Those kids can hear a candy wrapper crinkle or the sound of a handful of m&ms several rooms away!
Yesterday was the final straw. JT was standing in the bathroom as I was putting Kate down for nap and I asked if he needed to go potty. He said no. So I closed the bathroom door and the baby gate and walked downstairs to feed James. JT immediately started hollering that he had to go potty. I told him that he should have gone when he had the chance and proceeded to feed James. JT spent the next 15 minutes yelling with increasing panic that he had to go poop and wasn’t going to make it and I needed to hurry. I finally finished on the first side with James and went up to let JT in the bathroom. As he was going in he told me that I could go back to feeding James and that he didn’t need any help. So I went ahead and started to feed James on the other side only for JT to start hollering that he needed help wiping. Are you kidding me? Ri-dic-u-lous. I was ready to kill him.
Anyway, I decided that I needed to come up with an incentive plan for a better nap time. A behavior chart or something. EVERY DAY I have to listen to him and deal with him waking up the other kids and needing to use the restroom every 5 minutes and I have had it.
Here’s what I came up with-
He starts nap with the potential to earn 20 cents. The first two times I have to interact with him he loses a dime each time. When he’s out of money he starts getting punished each time I need to deal with him. As soon as he earns a dollar we make a trip to the dollar store for a prize. If he can earn his dollar in just 5 days he gets the option to spend it on a treat at McDonald’s where he can play on the play structure.
Today is day one. He lost both dimes in the last half hour which resulted in a tantrum. Maybe tomorrow. I have high hopes.
James made his appearance on Feb 27, 2012 at 6:43 pm. He was 8 pounds 5.3 ounces and 20 inches long with a 14 inch head circumference. James has proven to be a champion eater. Unfortunately, he prefers to stay up eating all night long rather than sleeping. Mama is working on that!
James was due on the 24th, and I was starting to think that he was never going to arrive, when I suddenly developed blurred vision and difficulty speaking and thinking. Everyone sprung into action and in less than hour we had childcare for all the kids (thank you LaLa and Kristin!) and I was at the hospital getting checked out. By that time most of my symptoms had subsided and my blood pressure was only slightly elevated. The very kind labor and delivery doctor said that she suspected I was in the earliest stages of labor (I was dilated to 4cm and having strong but irregular contractions while on the monitors) and offered to save me a trip back that night or the next day and to induce labor. We agreed and they started the Pitocin. About 2 hours later they broke my water and an hour after that James was here! It was a VERY quick delivery- I went from 8cm dilated to having a baby in less than 15 minutes! I have new respect for women who forgo the epidural- even with mine this one hurt! Everything was very fast and very intense there at the end. James came out in great shape and was strong and healthy from the get go.
JT and Kate adore their new brother and are constantly touching, kissing, tickling and holding him. It’s one big love fest around here! We are all settling in nicely and enjoying our new family of 5. JT keeps saying he thinks that he should have 2 little brothers. I told him that we’ll have to wait and see- let’s just enjoy the one we already have!
Somewhere on the world wide web I saw this simple idea for learning the calendar and practicing numbers and writing with preschoolers. JT and I have been doing it since the beginning of the year and he LOVES it- he looks forward to it every night. We hung a calendar in his bedroom and every night before bed he writes the day’s date and then makes a big X on the square for the day.
We also write in something that happened that day (preschool or snow or played with friends) and talk about the things that are coming up in the next few days and weeks. It’s a simple way to encourage him to practice writing his numbers and to start reinforcing the days of the week and grasping the concept of the calendar and time.
Try it with your preschooler!
Otherwise titled “How I Spent my Christmas Vacation” or “The Yellow Room Gets a Makeover”.
Since Baby #3 is coming sometime in the next two months we needed to get cracking on cleaning out Kate’s new room so we could move her out of the nursery. Unfortunately, the yellow room was not only serving as a guest room, craft room and wrapping room, but it had also become the dumping ground for things we didn’t know what to do with. Papers from the closing of my condo in 2001? Yup. Yearbooks? Yup. Old financial records? Yup. 3 boxes labeled “Chris junk”? Yup. 14 years of bible studies? Yup. I vowed that I was not going to lug all those boxes down to the basement until they had been purged and sorted and organized.
Here’s how the room looked this Spring…
Totally out of control. So embarrassing, really. Not particularly inviting for guests or a relaxing place for crafting. We made a little bit of progress over the summer, but things kind of stalled when the school year started. So, Chris and I spent 3 or 4 evenings after Christmas sorting paperwork and hauling things from the second floor down to the basement and from the basement up to the second floor. The desk and file cabinet had to go down to make room for a dresser (the one I painted months ago- I am so glad I did that before I got big pregnant!) and chair (an extra we had in the basement). Thank you Matt and Robb for helping us haul the furniture- it was a bit much for this pregnant lady!
Here’s Chris about halfway through the great purge of 2011.
Don’t be fooled- that’s totally a fake smile. This was not a fun task!
But look how cute Kate’s big girl room turned out!
I LOVE the letters that Auntie Kristin made for Kate- they double as hair bow storage and I think they’re so fun!
We ended up adding black out curtains OVER our black out blinds because this room is much brighter than Kate’s old room and she was having a hard time napping in here. We’re big fans of sleep at our house, so we fixed that problem quick!
We debated about setting up our second crib in here for Kate, but decided to give the bed a try- so far so good! Bedtime has been easy, naps are a little harder, but we still have the pack n play as a back up in case we need it. I’m still looking for a headboard for her new bed, hopefully something will come up on craigslist soon!
Doesn’t she look tiny in her full size bed? Sweet girl.
We decided against decorating her room with any kind of a theme- in a few years when we have an idea of what Kate likes and wants we may change things around for her, but for now the existing yellow floral bedding and some of the decor from her old room work just fine. She is thrilled and loves running between the nursery and her new room and saying “hi bed”, “hi Katie’s room”, “hi chair”. It’s so cute.
I’m calling this project a success! Now to put the nursery back together and to tackle the mess in the basement…
While wasting time online several months ago, I stumbled upon this idea for adding a guitar patch to holey jeans. I thought it was pure genius, and perfect for my 3 year old who is obsessed with all things music. I pinned the page on Pinterest and then when I came across two pair of jeans with holes in the knees in his laundry I knew it was time. I am not artistic AT ALL and I am so pleased with how these came out! I used her guitar and amp as inspiration for the first pair, then I decided to go crazy and come up with my own pattern to make drums on the second pair. I searched google images for drum sketches, but really ended up coming up with my own design on paper which I then used to freehand the actual patches.
JT opened up the box with these on Christmas morning and he was so thrilled! Of course I couldn’t get him to stand still for a picture for anything- he was literally jumping around with them. I did get a picture of him wearing the drum pants the next day. Please note the glow drum sticks in his hands and the fake smile!
Here are some close ups of the patches-
Sadly, the ironed on edges have already started to come up after only 1 wash, so I’m going to have to stitch all of the edges down to keep them on tight. I was hoping to avoid that since I can’t fit those little legs over the arm of my sewing machine and will have to do it by hand. Ah, the price we pay to keep our kids happy. And looking like a rock star.
When Katie was 11 months old we took her in to the doctor for the croup. While at the office she was weighed and we discovered that since her 6 month exam she had completely fallen off the growth charts. The urgent care doctor was actually far more concerned about her weight than about her croup and started throwing around terms like “failure to thrive”; she urged us to see our pediatrician ASAP. Our pediatrician was much more reassuring, and with her advice (and that of the dietician she referred us to) we started a regimen designed to put some weight on our girl. And we did have some success. Kate put on enough weight that she crept onto the growth charts and has stayed there (even if just barely!). Unfortunately, Kate spent so much of her awake time in the high chair that we started to see her lag behind in some of her developmental milestones. One of the key things that I noticed was that Kate wouldn’t usually respond to her own name. She also was not pointing to familiar objects in books, following even the simplest of commands, making any animal sounds, etc. She was still very babyish in her behavior. At 16 months we were referred to our local Child Find / Developmental Pathways for a comprehensive evaluation of Kate. They determined that she did not have global delays (delays across every area of development) as I feared, but she did have significant delays in receptive language (she tested at 9-12 months in this area) and slight delays in gross motor skills (she was only a few months behind, but should have been walking on her own).
Fortunately we live in an area where were are eligible for services through the county at no cost to us. They offered us 3 sessions of speech therapy a month and we decided to give Kate another month or so to see if she would catch up on her gross motor skills and then re-evaluate her need for services with a physical therapist. When it came to her gross motor skills, Kate took care of that problem on her own. At 17 months Katie decided that she was ready to walk and she just took off. When that girl finally took her first steps she literally walked from one end of the house to the other! By the time we saw the physical therapist for her re-evaluation she had caught up to her peers and showed no sign of slowing down.
Her speech problems were not solved quite as easily, and thus started a new Tuesday morning routine. Each week we met with a therapist who taught us tricks to engage Kate’s attention and teach her joint attention. Things like clapping while calling her name and then tapping her near the eye to get her to look at us, physically helping her point to the objects in the books we were reading, playing lots of games like Patty Cake and Ring Around the Rosie. We worked to make sure that we would stop and catch her attention while giving a command and then give her a chance to respond appropriately or physically help her to complete the task. We started forcing Kate to use her words or sign language to request what she wanted rather than responding to her cues. We started narrating her every move to increase her familiarity with the words that go with her actions.
Right around 20 months I felt like Katie’s “lightbulb” went on. All of a sudden she doubled and then tripled her vocabulary. She started responding to commands and to the events going on around her appropriately. She started requesting books by name and pointing to the pictures in them. I would hear her singing the alphabet tune or Jesus Loves Me. She started identifying people by name and interacting with us conversationally. I mentioned the changes I was noticing to our therapist and she agreed that Kate had all of a sudden jumped into the land of “age appropriate behavior”. I asked for her opinion regarding continuing therapy and we decided to run Kate through the battery of tests to evaluate her again. (I say this jokingly- most of the questions were directed at me or were answered by the therapist herself through observation.) We decided that it seemed Kate’s language skills had reached or surpassed expected levels. Our therapist then brought in a specialist who interacted with Kate and did a formal re-evaluation and she discovered that Kate was testing at 24 months for her expressive and receptive language skills-an increase of more than 12 months in her development in only 5 months! Way to go Katie Mae!
This prompted a meeting with our regular therapist and our service coordinator to officially “graduate” Kate from her services. And here is where I realized just how blessed (fortunate, favored, etc) we really are. Both ladies told me that in all of their combined years of experience this was the first time that either of them had graduated a child from speech therapy after only five months. Ever. They both said that most children end up in therapy for several years at least, requiring intervention from multiple specialists and often continuing to receive help well into their school years. Both women were amazed at Kate’s rapid progress and delightful response to early intervention.
So here is where I thank God for our sweet Kate. I praise Him for our little girl and for getting us just the right help at just the right time to give Kate the kick start she needed. I consider it nothing short of a miracle.
(click on the link for a video of Kate showing off her stuff)
Thanks for walking through this short, but challenging journey with us. I am so thankful to have you with me along the way!
I went the the grocery store last night at 8:30. While there I heard two different parents deal with their screaming, whining children. One little boy flung himself down on the ground and insisted that his mom carry him. She had her hands full of grocery bags and couldn’t pick him up if she wanted to. Of course in my snooty superiority I thought to myself, “Hello, it’s 9 pm! Put your kid to bed!” But I also thought ,”This is why I come at night all by myself. I’m so thankful I don’t have both kids with me.”
There are lots of good reasons to take my kids with me when I go grocery shopping. I know lots of parents who always shop with their kids. They cite a lot of valid reasons. The kids learn to help by getting items off a shelf or “helping” to figure out which item is a better bargain. It teaches them patience. Delayed gratification. That you don’t always get a treat when you go to the store. That being part of a family requires participating in family chores. I know- there are tons of reasons I should take them. But I rarely do. And here’s why…
Today we had 3 errands to run. We had an hour before Kate’s appointment to fill up the gas and get a car wash, go to the library and go to the bank. Since two of those errands didn’t even require us to get out of the car I was optimistic that it could happen. The fill up went fine and both kids giggled and loved the first part of the car wash. And then it got loud and Kate freaked. The poor girl was hysterical- totally panicked, sobbing, wailing for me. JT was so sweet, offering reassurances along with me, “It’s ok Katie. I know it’s loud but it’s not scary. Don’t be scared Katie.” She wasn’t buying any of it. It was five minutes of total meltdown.
We pulled out of the gas station and headed to the library. Usually I bring the stroller in, but we were pressed for time and the location of my parking spot meant I would have to walk the long way around the lot if I brought it, where if we all walked we could cut straight across. I decided to carry Kate (and calm her down anyway) and let JT walk. Only Kate, in all of her 20 months has NEVER learned to help hold on while being carried. That girl is ALWAYS dead weight and ends up sliding halfway down my leg (often taking my clothes with her) resulting in a very difficult journey. Especially when my other hand is holding the hand of my three year old. Once inside the library I had to set her down and let her walk (so I could at least return my shirt and ill fitting maternity pants to their proper positions- and when I say proper I mean both their correct and modest positions!) and then I remembered the other reason why I always use the stroller. Because Kate pulls every book, video, CD, etc off the shelves that she can get her hands on. We found a few videos for the kids (the Laurie Berkner Band and the Mr. Ray Show in case you’re wondering), I cleaned up several videos Kate had thrown on the floor, and then we headed to the stacks for the book I was looking for. It was about then that I realized the most horrible stench was coming from my sweet girl. Horrible, gag inducing diaper smell. And I wasn’t even standing near her- she had wandered at least 10 feet away. I quickly scanned the shelf for my book, but nope- all checked out. “Well,” I thought as I returned the 5 books Kate had just pulled down, “we’ll see what’s in the new releases.” At the new release shelf is a bench. JT climbed up called Katie to come up with him. She started wailing and I see that he’s grabbed her by the arm and is trying to pull her on to the bench that way, which isn’t working. I picked Kate up and set her next to JT and she immediately flung herself back off the bench and landed nose first on the floor. Then the screaming really started. Full blown, “I hated that car wash, I’m hurt, I stink, I’ve had enough and I’m not going to take it any more” screaming. I picked Kate up to cuddle and shush her at which point JT decided it was a good time to stand up on the bench and jump up and down and yell. IN THE LIBRARY. I took all this as my cue to leave. We scanned JT’s items and raced out the door. At the car I changed Kate’s diaper on the passenger seat while she squirmed and flailed and tried to flip over relentlessly. With the putrid smelling diaper on the floor of the car I zipped us to our next destination, the bank.
As we pulled into the bank JT remembered that once (at least a year ago) the nice lady at the drive through window gave him a sucker. He politely requested that we go to the drive up window again so he could get another sucker. Since we were running so tight on time I decided that we were going to use the drive through ATM instead. JT didn’t like my choice and protested very vocally. The entire time. Setting Kate off again. And our whole car smells like that diaper.
Once home we raced into the house, I brought in the milk from the porch that I had forgotten to retrieve hours earlier and I saw that we had maybe 2 minutes before Kate’s therapist arrived to clean up the tornado that had struck our play room. Just as JT started putting away blocks I got a text from the therapist that she was running 20 minutes late. We finished cleaning up the toys with at least 10 minutes to spare, plenty of time for making a new mess. During that time Kate threw 4 balls out Mollie’s door. Kate and JT fought over every toy either of them touched. Kate fell down and hurt herself at least 5 times requiring me to calm her down. And JT found every way to make as much noise as possible in an attempt to make me crazy.
Our sweet therapist finally showed up to total chaos. Kate was exhausted, miserable, unwilling to go to her, fussy, and everything made her cry. Plus she keeps saying “Car wash. Scary. Cried. Water loud.” I think I’ve permanently traumatized her. JT on the other hand, was amped, making as much noise as possible, banging on drums, throwing toys, spitting, and causing a ruckus. Toys had managed to spread out all over the floor again. All of this had gotten Mollie excited, so she was jumping up and barking and getting all in our space. Awesome. Halfway through her therapy I finally took pity on Kate and put her down for her nap.
That was my morning. And that is why I don’t take my kids to the grocery store.
This morning I went in to get Kate up from her crib and discovered that her diaper had exploded, leaving Kate and her crib covered in poop. The kids were due for baths anyway, so I decided to go ahead and bathe them on the spot. I stripped Kate and her bed, and then went in to get JT. He too had pooped overnight, and as I was changing his diaper I let Kate run around nekked. I finished JT’s diaper and told Kate to come join me in the bathroom. When she followed I saw that she had pooped on the carpet in his room! I whisked her back to her changing table, wiped her bottom and then cleaned up his carpet. I finally got both kids in the bathtub and scrubbed them down. After baths I wrapped Kate in her towel and set her on the bathroom floor- where she promptly peed all over. As I brought her back into her room to finally get a diaper on that girl I caught the dog licking the poopy laundry in her hamper. Seriously? What a nasty nasty morning.
my little stinkers in the bath this morning
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