Teaching.

The lull on this blog has been for lack of time lately. The last two weeks have been pretty busy. But, they’re busy in the best way possible! We’ve entered summer camp time and I’m having a blast!

I was asked to direct the skits and choreographies for both children’s camps (January) and teen camps (February). I had three days to teach 6 kids the three skits for children’s camps. I had those same three days to also teach two separate groups the one skit and two choreographies for teen camps. I had one hour one morning to teach the skits that we’re using for two of the Bible lesson introductions. Do I really have to say we didn’t get it all done?

The group doing the skits for children's camps

During one practice, I halted the whole thing and ended up rewriting the entire monologue and having a friend translate it and cut/paste the music and tomorrow we’ll record the guy who’s going to read the monologue. And then, we’ll practice it for the first time this Thursday. And two groups have to learn it.

During another practice, we ended up changing the technical aspects to it and making it much more simple than the original idea.

Last week camps officially started. We had 84 children from ages 6-12.

I had the privilege of teaching about 45 of them every morning. The lessons this year are on the life of Gideon, who is one of my personal heroes. Tuesday, they learn that God has sent us a Permanent Savior, unlike the Israelites who never had just one final judge to save them. Wednesday, they learn that God has chosen them for a very specific purpose, no matter where they have come from or what kind of background they have, like He chose Gideon. Thursday, they learn that we must have faith and trust that God will be with us, like He was with Gideon even though Gideon lacked faith. Friday, they learn that God has the ultimate victory in whatever battles we have in our lives, like He won Gideon’s battle without them even needing to fight.

Monday morning, I had three children accept the Lord as Savior and Friday morning, I had two more. Praise God!

Friday was a blast teaching. We acted out Gideon’s battle and the kids did a great job, blowing trumpets and yelling at the top of their lungs. The kids did a great job paying attention on Friday (probably because they were all dead tired!).

Friday evening, I was the one who gave the application at the bonfire. I’ve never done anything like that before (much less in Spanish), so I was a little nervous. But, God just calmed my heart and I was able to challenge the kids to make decisions. So humbling seeing these children come to the bonfire and throw their sticks in, symbolizing the promises they’re making between them and God.

Today, our second week began. My husband has been working on the playground here doing some repairs and he said he had to yell at the kids more today than he did all last week! Some showed up hours early and we caught them in the sewer behind our house (uck). We also caught them stealing watermelons from our neighbor’s field. OH my. It’s gonna be a long week. We have over 100 tonight and more arrive tomorrow. I’m nervous. It’s like teaching kids from Brooklyn, the Bronx, and inner city Philly all in one week.

So, if you think of it – pray for me! I had to say three words up front tonight and I messed up one of them and I had over 100 children laughing at my Spanish. Humbling, yes. Intimidating? Oh you have no idea. I can just see them losing it on me if I mess up on my Spanish this week.

At one point this week, I was frustrated with some outside elements and I was nervous about teaching. I stood in our bedroom window praying and I actually prayed, “God, where is my help?” My eyes were drawn upward and there were the mighty mountains outside my window and I knew – “I lift my eyes unto the hills – where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord – the Maker of heaven and earth!” My goal this month is just to be an empty vessel. I know I can’t teach well in Spanish. I need the Holy Spirit to just use me and speak through me.

And that – that right there – is the entire lesson of Gideon. “Go in the strength you have” and let God win the battle for you.

Before you go read the story of Gideon (Judges 6-7), which I know you’re about to, feel free to read the monologue I wrote for teen camps. I’ve put it under the tab “My Writings.” But, please do not use it as a monologue without my written consent.

Training the Little One.

Elena is now 15 1/2 months old and we’ve been working on potty training for the past couple of months, believe it or not. We are by now means experts and I don’t want to remotely come across that way. But, I wanted to share what we’re doing just to throw the ideas out there for what it’s worth. The longer I’m a parent the more firmly I believe that there is no cookie cutter method for anything you do with your family. I had originally planned on following the method where you take like a solid weekend and ALL YOU DO is potty train and then you’re done. But, my husband had other ideas and, well, he won.

My husband is absolutely awesome with our daughter. He grew up as the 2nd oldest of 5 boys and he basically raised his youngest brother (who’s still only 14). One of the things he did with his youngest brother is help potty train. I, on the other hand, have never potty trained anybody! I gladly defer to him! 🙂

I’m gonna get a little graphic here, so if you don’t have kids or don’t really wanna talk about the bathroom…   stop reading now. Fair warning. 

Most methods have you begin with teaching your child to go pee on the potty first. However, if you’re a parent, you know that it’s much easier to know when you’re child is going #2 than when they’re going #1! There’s faces, noises, and, of course, smells that go along with it. It’s so simple to know when your child needs to go #2 AND there’s time in there to rush them to the potty, whereas with #1, about the time you think they need to go, they’re done.

So, just one day my husband decided he’d make Elena just sit on the potty when it looked like she was getting ready to do #2 and he’d see what happened. Well, she went! She wanted to get off immediately and see what had happened! She flushed the toilet and was just thrilled with herself. From there on out, my husband got into a routine with our (very regular) daughter. They would sit on the potty in the morning before he went to work and again at lunch, then again sometime before bed. She began using the potty at least once a day and if we were lucky, two or three times a day.

Another thing that’s popular is to reward your child with M&Ms or cookies or something when they go potty. Elena has gotten treats twice for going potty. The rest of the time, she’s perfectly happy with getting to flush and waving “bye-bye” to everything in the bowl.

Now that I’m not in school and I’m home with her consistently, I make her sit on the potty fairly often throughout the day – after naps, after meals, before bed, before baths, etc. She’s peeing on the potty much more often, although by far not every time. However, thanks to consistency, we haven’t changed a poopy diaper in a solid three weeks, if not closer to a month.

The hardest part is keeping her entertained while sitting on the potty. She takes a long time sometimes and it’s just sitting there on the toilet. She gets bored pretty much instantly. Now that we’ve bought her one of those kiddy seats that sits on top of the toilet, it’s a lot easier to keep her entertained since we don’t have to hold her up so she doesn’t slip into the toilet! So, we keep a supply of easy to play with toys in the bathroom – bath toys, simple books. We also let her play with the toothpaste, a cup, a comb – random items in the bathroom. It keeps her totally happy and about the time she gets bored, she’s done!

Brian has also taught her how to push. Now, this is honestly hilarious! We tell her to push and she leans forward and goes, “Ehhhhhhh” and her face gets all red and she pushes as hard as she can, but she makes the noise like that! Then she laughs and laughs when it actually works! Oh, it’s a riot!

I am not a believer in having the potty seat and carrying it with you from room to room. I have no desire to have to  clean the seat, for one. But, I also think it’s good for the child to get used to sitting on the toilet itself. We’ve taken Elena to people’s houses and she’s fine with sitting on toilets not in her own house because she’s used to it. She doesn’t need the kiddy potty seat to use the bathroom. I also think it shows that you can take your time with your child to sit in the bathroom with them and set apart time to be with them and help them – not just merely plop them down on a portable seat so you can keep working.

Consistency is so key, though. At the beginning, if we were lazy with it for a day or two, it took us three or four more days to get her back on track. But, now that we’re in a routine and we keep an eye on her, she’s doing just fine and we’re well on our way to

I am 100% positive that this method won’t work for everyone. But, to sum up, the things we’ve learned that I thought I’d pass along are:

  • Starting with teaching the child to go poop on the potty first is a heck of a lot easier. You can tell when they’re going so you can stop them and make them run to the bathroom (which stops them from finishing so they can go on the potty). The sensation of a bowel movement is a lot easier for the child to recognize (and hold off) than a urinary movement. Plus, they (at least Elena) think it’s fun to hear the “sploosh” and they really do know that something came out of them and something is going bye-bye in the water.
  • Be consistent. Especially if you start with them going #2 on the potty and your child is fairly regular, it’s pretty easy to know when to sit them on the potty. Start with times like shortly after waking up, after meals, and before bedtime. Then branch out to before and after naptimes, mid-morning and mid-afternoon, and early evening well before bedtime.
  • Keep toys and gadgets on hand to play with in the bathroom to keep them distracted and to make sitting on the potty fun, not a chore.
  • Make the “reward” for going simple things – flushing the toilet, washing their hands, clapping and cheering, hugs from parents. The bigger deal you make of it, the more they’ll want to do it because they enjoy the attention.

Our big accomplishment today: Elena went with her daddy on a trip to the store and drank a bunch of juice and had a snack while they were gone. Brian checked her diaper before the trip home and she was dry. She got home and I made her come to the bathroom just in case and wouldn’t ya know it, she went pee on the potty. I got to put back on the same unused diaper. It felt like such an accomplishment.

So there ya go. For what it’s worth – our humble theories on potty training!

Always interesting.

Elena moved into a “big girl bed” early December. Brian built the frame then took the boards out of her crib for the bottom and used her crib mattress. Voila. Adorable and versatile. He’ll take out the end piece when she needs a longer bed and just extend it. [My husband’s a genius. But, we all knew that a long time ago, right?] She has not fallen out of her bed and it’s really low to the ground, so I’m not horribly concerned about her getting hurt. I do have a blanket next to her just in case since our upstairs floor is still plywood.

Around 1:30 this morning, though, something happened. To be honest, we’re not sure exactly what.

My perspective: I heard a thunk, then Elena screaming. Then more thunks, Brian is out of bed, Elena is wailing… So, naturally, I started to scream. I screamed like somebody had come to kill us in our sleep, ran around the bed, and finally managed words – “What happened?! What’s wrong with Elena?! Is she okay?! What’s going on?!” And I turned the light on.

Brian’s perspective: Something roused him, he jumped out of bed without thinking, and realized something was at his feet. Then, he started coming to and realized the “thing” at his feet was actually his daughter! He didn’t want to step on her, lost his balance, and fell into the closet wall – the whole time with Elena and myself screaming and crying.

What we’ve pieced together: Either Elena fell out of bed and her crying woke Brian up, which in turn woke me up (the initial thunk I heard being her falling out of bed). Or, she was sleepwalking and when she finally came to, she fell (the thunk) and began crying. Or, she had crawled out of bed and was sleeping on the floor, then woke up and realized where she was and the thunk I heard was Brian jumping out of bed. We’re leaning towards #2 because tonight, she actually did sleepwalk! It was a little creepy. We’re watching her sleep and we notice she’s just tossing and turning constantly, but she’s sound asleep. Then, all of a sudden, she gets out of bed, very carefully, and goes over to her books that are stacked near her bed. Brian’s standing right near her, but we decided not to say anything to her. She looked at her books, then turned around and began to walk away and then it was like a switch went on and BAM she fell and began screaming. Eery. So, Brian’s theory is that she got out of bed and poked him in the face like she always does, then fell when she finally woke up.

We’ll never know.

But, Brian did fall into the corner of the closet wall. He sliced open his hand pretty deep (it’s been bleeding all day) and he sliced open his head. So, not only did we have crying, scared baby and shaking Mommy, we had a bleeding Daddy who wasn’t completely sure why he was bleeding! Needless to say, we didn’t get much sleep last night. I managed to fall asleep closer to 4; Brian said he and Elena didn’t fall asleep until more like 4:30.

Yup, always interesting here! 

January 2012
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