Author: Julie K. Nelson

I am a wife and mother of 5 children, with only one left at home to spoil. I write, speak, teach at Utah Valley University, cook, travel, and can sometimes be found folding laundry. My newest book "Keep It Real and Grab a Plunger: 25 tips for surviving parenthood" will be released March 2015 and my first book, "Parenting With Spiritual Power" can be found at local bookstores and online book sellers.

Infertility

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This is a heart-wrenching post from waiting for baby bird

What is infertility, you ask?

The dictionary would tell you that it is simply being unable to conceive within a year of actively trying or being able to carry a baby to full term. But it’s far more than that. And it’s far more than just an inconvenience. It’s a disease of the reproductive system that affects 1 in 8 couples. And like any other disease, it is frustrating. It is gut-wrenching. And it is depressing. It’s like a grave that keeps following you around day after day as it swallows your hope and buries more and more of your dreams with the tears you just shed.

It is desperately longing to be pregnant. Wanting to know what it feels like to have a life growing inside of you. A life that has your eyes and his smile. A life that you created in love.

It is walking down the baby aisles and touching the onsies, picking up the booties, and wondering when. And asking why.

It’s loving a child you have never met. And missing them fiercely every day.

It’s emptiness as you walk by the bedroom that should be a nursery. It’s loneliness as your house is absent from the pitter patters of tiny feet in the morning or giggles from bath time at night.

It’s frustration that leads to desperation as you try every vitamin recommended, test suggested, treatment procedure offered, medicine given, and diet instructed.

It is feeling unworthy. Because maybe your faith is too weak. Your prayers are not enough. Or your past too damning.

It is trying to understand why prostitutes, drug addicts and those who abuse their children are given such blessings. But you? You seem to have to fight and work and struggle beyond your strength and exhaust all of your resources to receive.

It’s a constant war between your body and your soul. A war that you must fight to win daily and a war that is exhausting, yet you battle on.

It is trying to remain hopeful, yet realistic. And failing to find the balance.

It’s hearing the words, “I’m sorry, but there is no heartbeat.”

Or expecting to walk out of the hospital with a birth certificate, but instead it’s a death certificate.

THAT IS INFERTILITY.

It’s more than just an inconvenience.

It’s more than just the inability to conceive.

It’s dream shattering. Soul crushing. And heartbreaking.

And that is what 1 in 8 couples deal with on a daily basis. Couples that could be your friends, neighbors, or family members. So please keep them in your prayers because the prayer you pray for them today, could be the one that makes a difference in their lives tomorrow.

Open Doors

I know,  I’m lucky. I have two married daughters who live on my same street. One is 4 houses down; the other is a hop, skip, and a jump away from our house. They’re both renting so I know it’s not permanent, but I’m relishing this brief time they are so close and pop in often for a chat or a bite to eat.

Like clockwork, my oldest brings over our grandson around dinnertime. It’s like Christmas every day at 6:00 p.m.

A few days ago, it was early in morning when heard the *crunch crunch* of someone eating cold cereal in my kitchen. My husband was in bed, still asleep, so I called out to our son. No answer. I got up and found my newly-married daughter there. It tickled me. So does this meme:

kids

Morality and the Teenage Brain

Two of the greatest times of brain and body development (or “plasticity” as psychologists call it) is early childhood and adolescence. Think about the incredible physical changes and growth from birth to 5 years old and during the teen years. Even though we can’t see it, similar rapid cognitive development is happening in the first five years.

If you ever said to your teen, “How could you be so stupid!”…let’s just clarify.  They aren’t stupid. They just don’t have fully developed brains to make really mature decision. The brain is not fully developed until about 25 years old. Because the brain develops back to front and core to outside, the last part to develop is the front, called the pre-frontal cortex. Executive function controls that region where reasoning, moral development, and planning takes place.

Teens do impulsive things. They can use poor judgment and reasoning. To top it off, they are going through stages of moral development. The “Heinz’s dilemma” is a frequently used example in many ethics classes. One well-known version of the dilemma, used in Lawrence Kohlberg’s stages of moral development, is stated as follows:

A woman was near death. There was one drug that the doctors thought might save her. It was a form of radium that a druggist in the same town had recently discovered. The drug was expensive to make, but the druggist was charging ten times what the drug cost him to produce. He paid $200 for the radium and charged $2,000 for a small dose of the drug. The sick woman’s husband, Heinz, went to everyone he knew to borrow the money, but he could only get together about $1,000 which is half of what it cost. He told the druggist that his wife was dying and asked him to sell it cheaper or let him pay later. But the druggist said: “No, I discovered the drug and I’m going to make money from it.” So Heinz got desperate and broke into the man’s laboratory to steal the drug for his wife. Should Heinz have broken into the laboratory to steal the drug for his wife? Why or why not

Kolberg was most interested in the reasons the teenagers gave for their answer. The “why or why nots” gave a window into the formation of the adolescent’s value system. The stages he outlined are simply put:

  1. Early adolescents tend to be more obedient, or self-serving. The do not question authority and think and do what their parents have told them.
  2. Mid-adolescents, teens start to question, which looks a little like rebellion. Furthermore, the new ability to think abstractly enables youth to recognize that rules are simply created by other people. As a result, teens begin to question the absolute authority of parents, schools, government, and other traditional institutions.
  3. By late adolescence, most teens are less rebellious as they have begun to establish their own identity, their own belief system, and their own place in the world.

Some youth who have reached the highest levels of moral development may feel passionate about their moral code and may choose to participate in activities that demonstrate their moral convictions.

As intriguing as the moral dilemma scenario is in Kolberg’s study, there are other, more playful ways to ask your teenager questions that gets him talking about his thinking. Here’s a fun exercise to see where your teenager is on the stages of moral development. Play this “Would you rather…” game together, each answering the questions and examining your rationale. No one is wrong and no judgments should be made. You can start with making up easier choices for younger children, like “Would you rather be a cat or a dog?” and then use these during different years of adolescence to see if their reasoning matures.

Would you rather…

Save the life of a starving African child you’ve never met

OR become a Jedi, get the Force and a light saber?

 

Change your last name to Hitler

OR never eat candy again?

 

Have no Internet

OR no cell phone?

 

Live in a world with no problems

OR live in a world where you RULE

 

Win the lottery of 20 million dollars

OR amputate your right arm if it cured cancer?

 

Have the superpower of flying

OR reading everyone’s mind?

 

Know the date of your death

OR the cause of your death?

 

Have all the time in the world (endless supply)

OR endless supply of money but only 10 years to live?

 

Be the smartest person in the world

OR be the most handsome person in the world?

 

Have a piercing

OR a tattoo?

 

Be able to talk to all animals

OR speak all languages?

 

Never have your mind get old (but body does)

OR never have your body get old (but mind does)?

 

Be able to go back in history and stop 9-11

OR stop the Holocaust?

 

Have mermaids be real

OR unicorns be real?

 

Have a Pinocchio nose when you lie

OR never get to shower again ?

 

Be a genius that no one likes

OR be an idiot that everyone loves?

How To Fight Fair

Why do you think a man will agree to play sports with the possibility of getting hurt? Why do people march willingly into battle, even in the face of the enemy?

These are examples of conflicts that contain something that protects us and gives us confidence in the face of uncertainty.

Rules.

In sports, there are understood rules. There is a referee to keep players protected. If someone gets a little too heated and loses his head, the referee will call a foul, or a technical. In war, there are rules of engagement that give structure to an otherwise hostile event.

So it is with couples who fight. If they become out of control and unpredictable, their fighting is unproductive, even destructive. However, if couples established agree-upon rules, the conflict can be resolved much easier because both parties feel safe.

These are some rules that couples can sit down and adopt before the conflict arises. If followed, they change “fighting” to a constructive discussion that leads to mutual understanding.

  1. No yelling. Fighting can be passionate and if it gets too loud, it just turns into a screaming match. When one person yells, it’s like a barking dog. The other dogs have to join in, and they just get louder and louder. One person trying to out-do the decibel level to be heard over the other. Then they both end up yelling on top of the other person so that no one can hear the other.
  2. No name calling. Along with yelling, using derogatory statements or mud slinging is against the rules. I call “foul” because you have made this a personal attack and lost reason. We don’t attack the person, but the issue.
  3. Stick to the issue. When hot heads take off running, the contentious couple often start bringing up other grievances. It’s not fair to air a laundry list. Tackle one issue at a time.
  4. Similarly, don’t bring up old arguments. It’s like going back to the landfill, digging up old garbage, and flinging at your partner. The past is over, and the present is what you need to focus on.
  5. Take turns talking. This is probably the one that couples struggle with the most (along with the next related point). If you want to be respected for your opinion, you have to offer the same to the other person. You can’t ask for what you aren’t willing to give.
  6. Listen. When it’s your turn to listen, use all your energy to be in the moment. Don’t let your thoughts distract you. Don’t be formulating your rebuttal while your partner is talking. Even if you don’t agree with what the other person is saying, they deserve to be heard, just like you. Their point of view is their reality, even if it’s different that yours.
  7. Pick a good time to talk. Discuss your disagreement when you both agree it’s a good time to talk. You both need to be rested, relaxed, and ready. That means you might need to say, or email, “Honey, there’s a problem about overcharged on our credit card we need to go over. When would be a good time for you?” The wrong way to go about this is to corner your partner, like when they walk through the door after work (“We need to talk right now about your mom coming to visit!”). This is a sure-fire way to put your spouse on defense and the sparks to fly. I’ve never been a fan of the saying, “Never let the sun go down on your anger.” If I were to try to hash out a problem with my husband when it’s 11:00 p.m. and we’re both worn out, I can promise you that the problem would just grow and we would make it worse. Go to sleep! Get refreshed and pick a better time when you’re on the top of your game.

If you create a list of rules of engagement, both parties will be more likely to feel fairness, a shared amount of power, and safety when disagreeing. It may be easy to agree to the list when you’re both calm, but when emotions start to rule over reason, one of both may resort to hostility again. In that case, it’s very important that you also discuss what will happen in the heat of the moment. One of your can form a “T” with your hands, to indicate a “foul” or “technical” to remind the offending party that they broke a rule. Or just reaching over and gently touching the other person’s hand and saying, “Honey, remember we agreed not to call names” is a kind reminder.

Connecting with your kids through cell phones

Let’s face it: cell phones get a bad rap. I’m the first one to line up and criticize the addictive behaviors kids are learning through over-dependence on cell phones. Kids exhibit withdrawal-like behaviors when they’re not plugged in for over 15 minutes. And let’s be honest: moms and dad are sometimes worse.

Electronic devices such as cell phones can distance us from meaningful relationships. They entice us to live in a virtual world, to disrupt healthy sleep patterns, to introduce electronic bullying, stalking, and predatory opportunities, and might even expose young children to harmful levels of radiation.

Okay, now the good news. Like all technology, cell phones are amazing if we tap into the good stuff and manage the bad. After raising 5 teenagers, these are the ways cell phones have enriched our family relationships:

  1. Wonder where your kid is? “Find My Friends” is an app that lets you see your kid’s precise location. No way to lie about where they are. If your kids balk at the “stalking parent” approach, make it a condition of having their phone in the first place. They have nothing to hide, right?
  2. Speaking of finding friends, there are so many times when I need to find my child to pick them up at school, or find them in a crowded public place. Finding them via text or calling saves me HOURS of wasted time. I remember years ago, before cell phones, my family went to Disneyland. We split up and had one Walkie Talkie per group. We thought we were so cool!  So did everyone else at the park who couldn’t find their group. Cell phones have made everyone go a little less crazy finding their kids.
  3. Cell phones offer some really fun games. We love group games like Headbandz or Charades, but any solitary game can pass the time waiting at the doctors, or attending a sibling’s LONG and BORING musical Jr. high concert.
  4. Speaking of games, there are tons of educational benefits awaiting on a cell phone. When my kids had to memorize a huge list of words for school, we used a flashcard app, and I’d test them on it. Educational games are great, but be careful to limit their time and not let the games replace human contact. We tend to justify “learning” games, but human-to-human interaction has been proven as the best learning relationship.
  5. Safety and escape plan. There was an interesting blog post that highlighted the need for kids to have an emergency plan in case they got in over their heads with social pressure. He called it their “x-plan” which means an escape plan using their cell phones. Teens can type “x” to their parent’s number which is a secret code for “help me I need to get out of here.” If you get that “x” text, you call your teen back immediately with a bogus story. “Hey something has come up and I need to pick you up right away.” The teen can feign disappointment, but he’s secretly relieved to get out of a party that has turned into drinking, sexual activity, or anything he’s not comfortable with.
  6. Speaking of safety, I  have such a peace of mind knowing that if my teen was on an outing and got lost, perhaps even where it would turn into a critical situation like in the mountains, he would have his cell phone with him to dial 9-11 or phone a parent to help rescue him. My daughter did just that on a side of a road in the middle of Nowhere, Idaho after hitting a deer.
  7. The camera function on a phone is indispensable! Teens have become genius at capturing important information and images using their cell phones. It might be written instructions, a map, or a recipe that they can pull up later to easily reference. It’s the best! If you have a child who has missed a family event, like dinnertime, you can take a picture of the plate of food, text it to them with the message, “We missed you at dinner. Hope you can make it tomorrow.”
  8. Google Maps. Needs I say more? Never get lost again. For someone who is directionally challenged, this would have been a life saver as a teenager.
  9. Send your kid “love notes” via cellphone. Emojis are the new adolescent language. Teenagers can turn cold and prickly during their pubescent years, but will still accept texts with happy, loving messages.
  10. Another spin on #9 is to set up a family group text and send daily inspirational messages. You can do this through “Messenger” as well to include videoclips. These are private messages to your kids with a scripture of the day, an inspirational quote or meme, or anything that brightens their day.
  11. Put on music or podcasts while you and your kids are cleaning the house. It makes a huge difference to take your mind off the drudgery of cleaning by singing and dancing along or learning interesting stuff from a podcast.
  12. Now that I’m a grandma and have kids around the country, can I just end on this major point? Face time, Google hangout, or Skype on my phone is a way for us all to stay connected no matter where we are. I love technology when it melts the miles between us. You can even prop up the phone while you are playing a game or eating dinner to have the faraway child feel like part of the family, if only for a while. For free!

My husband and I were very careful to monitor our kids’ cell phone usage, as well as other electronic devices. We even started them on phones that were call and text only, no WiFi. But as they grew older and learned responsibility, the world opened up through these devices and became a tool for connection. The trick is to be ever-vigilant and in control rather than the other way around. Parents should be their kids’ best examples of putting away devices when a real face time is needed.

20 Parenting Hacks

There’s not place to hide in parenting. Nowhere to run.

Do you need a little help with those sticky, tricky spots? Life can get messy and whenever kids are involved. Or perhaps you’re just tired of hearing, “I’m bored” and you need some time to yourself in the bathroom. Here are 20 parenting life hacks to make your job easier.

1.PLACE TAPE OVER THE SPEAKERS ON YOUR KIDS’ TOYS TO LOWER THE VOLUME.

2. PUT A CUPCAKE LINER UNDER A POPSICLE TO KEEP IT FROM MELTING ALL OVER YOUR KID’S HAND.

3. EASILY SHAPE SNOW INTO BLOCKS USING A RECTANGULAR-SHAPED TUPPERWARE CONTAINER.

4. MAKE MEALTIME LESS MESSY BY PUTTING KETCHUP UNDER YOUR KID’S HOT DOG INSTEAD OF ON TOP OF IT.

5. KEEP YOUR CANDY SAFE FROM YOUR KIDS BY STASHING IT INSIDE A HEALTHY SNACK’S EMPTY PACKAGING.

6. HAVE A KID WHO CONSTANTLY PULLS OFF THEIR DIAPER (OR STRIPS NAKED)? TRY PUTTING THEIR ONESIE ON BACKWARD.

7. CUT A STICKER DOWN THE MIDDLE, THEN PUT ONE HALF INSIDE EACH OF YOUR KID’S SHOES. THIS WAY THEY’LL ALWAYS KNOW WHICH SHOE GOES ON WHICH FOOT.

8. WASH BABY SOCKS TOGETHER IN A LAUNDRY BAG SO YOU NEVER LOSE ANOTHER ONE AGAIN.

9. IF YOUR KID IS AFRAID OF MONSTERS AT NIGHT, MAKE SOME “MONSTER SPRAY” TO SPRAY IN THEIR ROOM BEFORE BED.

10. PUT PLASTIC WRAP OVER THE TOP OF A CUP TO SERIOUSLY CUT DOWN ON SPILLS.

11. ATTACH A CLIP TO THE END OF YOUR KID’S BUBBLE WAND TO KEEP IT FROM FALLING INTO THE CONTAINER.

12. USE AN EMPTY WIPES CONTAINER TO STORE TRAVEL SNACKS FOR YOUR KID.

13. KEEP TODDLERS ENTERTAINED ON A FLIGHT BY LETTING THEM PLAY WITH GEL CLINGS ON THE WINDOW.

14. THE BEST TIME TO CUT YOUR BABY’S NAILS IS 20 MINUTES AFTER THEY’VE FALLEN ASLEEP.

15. KEEP YOUR TODDLER BUSY BY LETTING THEM “PAINT” THE FENCE WITH WATER.

16. PUT A KEY RING ON YOUR CHILD’S JACKET TO MAKE IT EASIER FOR THEM TO ZIP UP.

17. USE SHOE ORGANIZERS TO ORGANIZE YOUR KID’S THINGS IN THE CAR.

18. DOES YOUR KID YELL “TOO COLD!” WHEN THEY NEED AN ICE PACK? GIVE THEM A BAG OF FROZEN MARSHMALLOWS INSTEAD.

19. Turn an old cardboard box, pizza box, or appliance box into something amazing. Let your child color, paint, or draw on it and turn that ordinary box into something magical like a castle, a car, or a T.V.

20. Use a mesh bag to put all those tiny toys (Legos, anyone?) into and  run on a dishwasher cycle to clean.

Article credit:  100 Genius Hacks Guaranteed To Make A Parent’s Job Easier