Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Christian Mama's Guide to Parenting a Toddler by Erin MacPherson

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Thomas Nelson (April 9, 2013)

***Special thanks to Erin MacPherson for sending me a review copy.***


Erin MacPherson is a mom of three who never does anything halfway. When she discovered she was pregnant she decided to write about it—but then kept writing. A former staff writer and editor for Nickelodeon, Erin now entertains parents on her personal blog as well as through freelance magazine articles, devotionals and speaking. She wants to come beside her readers not only as a confidant and Christian sister, but also as a best girlfriend who understands what daily life is all about.

Visit the author's website.


The Christian Mama's Guide to Parenting a Toddler: What's a mom to do when her sweet baby's smiles and snuggles turn to tears and tantrums?

This take on everything toddler—from throwing food to potty training to massive toddler fits—is filled with sanity-saving advice every mom wants to hear. Helpful tips include how to:

  • stop a tantrum in its tracks (or at least survive the tantrum without breaking into tears of your own)
  • discipline your child in a way that demonstrates Christ's redeeming love
  • make your marriage a priority when your kid is a squeaky wheel that always seems to need your time and attention
  • introduce your child to Jesus in a way that leads to authentic faith
  • convince a one-and-a-half year old that broccoli really is better than cookies—even if you don't believe it yourself

Moms will be entertained and encouraged by the amusing anecdotes and godly advice of this comprehensive, topical approach to parenting one and two year olds.

Product Details:
List Price: $15.99
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (April 9, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 084996475X
ISBN-13: 978-0849964756



What Happened to My Sweet Baby?

Your baby is (or at least was) about as close to perfection as you’ll find this side of heaven. Those dreamy grins every time you walked into the room. The sweet melody of ba-ba-la-la-las in the baby monitor as you woke up each morning. Those moments when she snuggled close and fell asleep on your shoulder. Pure, sweet almost-perfection.

But recently, have you noticed something changing? Like those dreamy grins being replaced by snarls? And that sweet melody of ba-ba-la-la-las sounding an awful lot like, “No! Mine! No! No! No!”? And those snuggle-close-and-fall-asleep moments getting fewer and further between?

Just as you were getting that whole baby thing down pat, your kid decides to up and turn one-and-a-half on you. And suddenly, you’re afraid to go out in public because your kid might pitch a royal fit, but you don’t want to stay home because your kid might have a tantrum. You can’t go to restaurants (he might smoosh peas into the carpet) or to parks (he might hit someone) or to stores (he might climb the shelves). How do you survive?

I remember the day I realized that my son was in the terrible twos. We were at the park with the other moms in my MOPS group and Joey picked up a pebble (okay, it was a rock) and threw it at another kid. Gulp. After a very long (and very passionate) lecture on why rock throwing isn’t a nice thing to do, I was certain that Joey wouldn’t do it again. He was so contrite. And surely he hadn’t done it on purpose. He was only one! So I hugged my oh-so-sweet son tightly and sent him off to play. And, as soon as he escaped my grip, he smiled innocently at me, picked up another rock and threw it at the same kid. Harder this time. Uh oh. Helllllo terrible twos.

So, what now? How do you survive when your kid can’t make it through the day (okay, the minute) without throwing a massive tantrum? And what do you do when she thinks that a balanced diet should consist solely of mac & cheese and chocolate chips? And how do you discipline a kid who can’t understand the difference between “steal” and “share”? And how in the world can you go grocery shopping when your kid’s throwing toys out of the cart every twelve seconds as you stock up in the bulk-foods aisle?

It’s time to adjust your mama game plan. You can be the mom of a one-and-a-half-year-old and still go into public and come home (somewhat) sane. And you can love God, love your husband, and (yes) even love your fit-throwing, no-saying, rock-throwing kid while doing it. Here’s how.

A note for my particularly scrupulous readers: You may notice that all of the pronouns in this book are male. This was a decision made by my editors and I in order to keep the copy simple and consistent. It in no way means that that this book is more applicable to boys or that I intended the tips and advice in this book to be just for boys. So, if you happen to have a daughter (like I do), please mentally substitute "her" for "him" and "she" for "he" as you read. And then write a very serious letter to whoever invented the English language letting them know how much easier our lives would be if pronouns weren't gender specific.


Getting into the Toddler Mama Groove

Surviving and Thriving in the Toddler Years

I took my one-and-a-half-year-old niece, Greta, to McDonalds a few days ago. I’m not sure if that makes me a bad Auntie (she’s asked for McNuggets for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day since) or a cool Auntie (I let her get fries . . . shhhhh!)—but regardless, she loved it. And I did too. Except for one thing: Greta—adorable, sweet and precious Greta—is smack dab in the middle of the terrible twos.

We walked into the play area, and before I could set my tray on a table, Greta ran up to another kid who was putting on his shoes and shouted, “No! Mine!” Turns out Greta was under the impression that everything in the room belonged to her. The slide? Mine! The giant piano on the wall? Mine! The little baby that another woman was putting in a high chair? You guessed it. Mine! It was hilarious. And aside from having to remind Greta 15,324 times to be sweet, we had a wonderful time.

I told my sister-in-law the story and she wasn’t quite as amused. You see, Greta’s plunge from delectable baby to delectable-yet-exasperating toddler happened very quickly and very unexpectedly. One day, Greta was her normal sweet self—singing sleepily in her crib, eating whatever delicacy her mama put on her plate, and playing nicely with her cousins. The next day, Greta woke up a different kid. She whined. She said no. She threw her veggies on the floor. And she screamed “mine” at anyone and everyone who dared come within fifteen feet of one of her toys.

My sister-in-law is beyond frustrated—and rightfully so. I remember feeling the same way when my kids hit the terrible twos. Suddenly, all of my parenting skills were tested. All of the rules were changed. And all of my lovely walk-in-the-park moments were ruined by massive temper tantrums and whining fits. I realized I had to get my mama groove back because my sweet baby was no longer a sweet baby, and if we were being honest, I was no longer a sweet baby mama. I was a frustrated mama. And an annoyed mama. And the kind of mama who spent more time saying no to my kid than he spent saying no to everyone else. Which was a lot.

Being the parent of a one-and-a-half-year-old is overwhelming. Remember back in your new mama days when the mere thought of feeding and bathing and diapering a baby seemed overwhelming? Remember that? Well, now you’re an old pro. Being a toddler mama is a lot like that; it feels impossible at first. It seems like you’ll never be able to go to the mall—or church—again. But you’ll figure it out. And before long you’ll be able to handle a whiney meltdown while calmly filing your nails and sipping an espresso.

[[a header]]How to Get into the Toddler Mama Groove

[[b header]]1. Give yourself a break.

I’m a perfectionist, so I tend to think of my kids’ behavior as a direct reflection on me. And then, when my kid acts obnoxiously, I blame myself for being a terrible mother. But mama mantra #1345 begs to differ: you are not a terrible mother because your kid just smeared Desitin all over your mother-in-law’s antique quilt. Or hasn’t eaten anything besides peanut butter and Cheerios in nine days. Or just stole a toy from another kid at playgroup.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t deal with these issues—you should—but simply that you can’t be hard on yourself because your kid is having a bad day. Motherhood is hard, and no mom in the history of the entire world has been a perfect mama—no one. With that in mind, even in your worst mama moments, cut yourself some slack. God has used some of the hardest times I’ve had as a mom—times when I wasn’t sure if I would survive the day, much less eighteen years—to show me how to depend on Him. And in order for God to use these trials to help me learn and grow, I have to let go of them and give them to God. Only He can make our paths—and our children’s paths—straight.

[[b header]]2. Give yourself a time-out from your kid.

Sometimes you just need a time-out. I remember a day like that. My son Joey had thrown a huge fit in Target because I hadn’t bought him a chocolate milk (mean mommy, right?) and that had escalated to a hysterically whiney car ride and a full-on toy-throwing tantrum when we got home. I called my mom. She told me to bring him over to her house.

I vegged in front of the TV while she took him to play in the sandbox and read him books. He calmed down. I calmed down. And by the time I had to go home to make dinner, I was a different mama—calm, cool, collected, and totally in love with my adorable son. Whoever said that absence makes the heart grow fonder was almost certainly the mom of a one-and-a-half-year-old. I can be at my wit’s end but after just an hour away, be rushing home for a chubby-armed toddler hug.

So, on those can’t-get-through-five-minutes-without-an-issue days, don’t be afraid to call a friend, call your mother, call someone. No one can do it alone, and chances are that your mother or your sister or your best girlfriend would be happy to take your kid to McDonalds for an hour or two . . . and return them full of chicken nuggets and French fries.

[[b header]]3. Plan Your Days to Include Movement.

In the past, you may have been able to get by with lazing around all morning and spending the afternoon reading stories, but most toddlers are active and need a lot of activity. And by “need a lot of activity,” I mean that if you don’t make sure your kid runs around for at least two hours out of every day, you’re pretty much guaranteed a five-star meltdown at nap time and an eight-star fit at dinner.

So, for your sanity (and your kid’s), try to work some activity into every day. One of my favorite things to do with my kids is to go into the backyard and play soccer. They love it because it’s fun. I love it because it counts as exercise for them and for me—and because a couple of years ago, after a couple of weeks of backyard soccer practice, my husband commented on my “sexy soccer-player calves.” Let’s just say I became a regular soccer fiend after that. Even a quick walk to the park or around the neighborhood can burn some of that pent-up toddler energy, especially if you let your kid walk at her pace instead of yours. Of course, that means you won’t get anywhere quickly, but who cares? At least you’ll be able to inspect every single acorn you see along the way.

[[b header]]4. Pray. For Yourself.

I know you’re praying for your kid. Like all the time. But what about for yourself? It’s hard to be a good mama—especially when your kid isn’t exactly full of sugar and spice and everything nice. So pray for patience. Pray for wisdom. And pray that you’ll be able to reflect Christ’s love in your life even when you’re on your last nerve.

Time-out for Mom

For When You’re Praying For Yourself as a Mother

You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain. (Psalm 139:1-6)

Lord God, it is such an incredible thing that you—the creator of heaven and earth—know me personally. You know my ever flaw, my every strength, my every thought and my every desire. And so, I don't have to tell you that I desperately love my children and want to do whatever it takes to raise them in a way that's pleasing to you. Lord, I need your help. I cannot do it alone. My human ways are weak—I grow impatient and selfish and angry. But you are so much bigger than that and I pray that you fill me with your spirit so that I, in turn, can be like you. Amen.

[[a header]]Toddler Dictionary

Just to get you started off right on your toddler mama journey, here’s a dictionary of common toddler words.

Bedtime [bed-tahym]: 1. The moment when—no matter how exhausted I’ve been all day—I suddenly feel wide-awake. 2. The moment when—no matter how much milk I left in my sippy cup at dinnertime—I suddenly feel extremely thirsty. 3. The moment when—no matter how independent I’ve felt all day—I suddenly feel extremely needy.

Binky [bing-k-ee]: (also known as: wubby, wubbalove, paci, pacifier) 1. The thing that—no matter how much my mom tries—I will refuse to go to bed without. 2. The thing that—no matter how much mom tries—I will refuse to leave the house without.

Broccoli [brok-uh-lee]: A green tree-like substance that should be immediately fed to the dog if placed on your highchair tray.

Chocolate milk [chaw-kuh-lit milk]: The only thing that will keep me from tossing a carton of eggs on the floor at the grocery store.

Crayon [krey-on, -uh n]: 1. The thing mom always puts in my hand when she wants me to be quiet at restaurants. 2. A tool for decorating walls, floors, and mom’s super-expensive antique coffee table. 3. A yummy snack.

Dog [dawg]: 1. The big thing lying on the floor that wants you to pull its tail. 2. Synonymous with “pony.”

Hair [hair]: A convenient place to wipe your hands after you’ve eaten mashed sweet potatoes or anything with maple syrup.

Mine [mahyn]: 1. Something that belongs to me. 2. Something that I want to belong to me. 3. Something that once belonged to me. 4. Something that I’ve seen before.

Park [pahrk]: 1. The place where I can run and scream as loud as I want and mom won’t tell me to stop. 2. The place where I will find unlimited amounts of gravel, rocks and dirt to roll in, get in my shoe, eat, and throw at other kids.

The Wiggles [th-uu wig-uh ls]: 1. The absolutely hilarious guys that mom—against her best judgment—introduced me to on that day that she was trying to answer sixty-two emails in one afternoon. 2. The fun concert that mom will—against her best judgment—take me to when they come to town. 3. The fun CD that mom will—against her best judgment—buy. 4. The fun CD that mom will—against her best judgment—play in the car CD player if I whine long enough.

Whine [wahyn]: 1. The noise you make when you really, really want something. 2. The noise you make when you really, really want something and mom says no. 3. The noise you make when you really, really want something and mom still keeps saying no. 4. The noise you make when you don’t remember what you wanted, but you know Mom will probably say no anyway.

Vegetable [vej-tuh-buh l]: A fun toy that mom puts on your dinner plate so you have something to throw during dinnertime.

[[a header]]Your Toddler is Fabulous (Even if She’s Fabulously Obnoxious at Times)

Even in the middle of the most hysterical, most obnoxious, most terrible one-and-a-half fit, if you look really, really close, your kid will still be pretty darn cute. That’s because your kid is a fabulously amazing (and independent) creation of God and even in the middle of her one-and-a-half-year-old glory, she is still pretty darn amazing.

The thing about the terrible twos is that they really aren’t that terrible. Sure, your kid acts terrible from time to time, but it’s because she is growing and learning and trying to figure out the world. And sometimes that figuring manifests itself as whining. And sometimes that growing manifests itself as fit-throwing. But in the middle of it all, God is working in your kid’s life, and you get the incredible privilege of getting a front-row seat to it all.

It’s easy to get frustrated with one-and-a-half-year-olds, but it’s also easy to love them for the real, honest, and utterly adorable children of God that they are. And with that in mind, let’s get on with our loving—and surviving—of the toddler years.

Happy Reading!



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