Thursday, May 19, 2011

A Kindergarten Celebration

This morning, along with Josh, my parents, and Josh's dad, I attended Caleb's kindergarten celebration. It was such an adorable thing, and I smiled each time the principal reiterated sweetly, "We will make sure you have time for pictures!"

Caleb and the principal. He was looking up at me on the top row.

I did my best not to cry. I had teary eyes throughout most of the program, and each time Caleb looked up at us and waved, it made me have a few more tears. This growing up stuff sure is hard on us moms.

The class of 2023.

It was a bittersweet morning. What a blessing to see him learn and grow. I particularly loved when they read his name and said, "When Caleb grows up, he wants to be an astronaut...or a ninja." Ha!

With his teachers. I love them.

I know he can't possibly understand my tears. It's probably just silly to him now. Perhaps he'll understand someday.

But to me, he should still be this little baby...

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Not Outdoorsy

I am not an outdoorsy kind of girl. It's sad, really. If it's not 72 degrees, sunny, with a very mild breeze, I do not want to be anywhere but inside.

So when it was 50 degrees, damp, cloudy, and very breezy yesterday...and my children wanted to play at an outdoor playplace in a town we traveled to...and since we had to kill time and didn't have any other choice but to let them get out and stretch and play, I did what any non-outdoorsy-mother would do:

Sunday, May 8, 2011

In Honor of Today

"Behold, children are a gift of the LORD, the fruit of the womb is a reward." Psalm 127:3

Being a changes your life.

We were sitting at lunch when my friend casually mentioned that she and her husband were thinking of starting a family.

"We're taking a survey," she said, half-jokingly. "Do you think I should have a baby?"

"It will change your life," I said, carefully keeping my tone neutral.

"I know," she said, "no more sleeping in on weekends, no more spontaneous vacations..."

But that is not what I meant at all. I looked at my friend, trying to decide what to tell her. I wanted her to know what she will never learn in childbirth classes. I wanted to tell her that the physical wounds of child bearing will heal, but becoming a mother will leave her with an emotional wound so raw that she will forever be vulnerable.

I considered warning her that she will never again read a newspaper without asking, "What if that had been MY child?" That every plane crash, every house fire will haunt her. That when she sees pictures of starving children, she will wonder if anything could be worse than watching her own child die.

I looked at her carefully manicured nails and stylish suit and thought that no matter how sophisticated she is, becoming a mother will reduce her to the primitive level of a bear protecting her cub.

That an urgent call of "Mom!" will cause her to drop a soufflé or her best crystal without a moment's hesitation. I felt I should warn her that no matter how many years she has invested in her career, she will be professionally derailed by motherhood. She might arrange for child-care, but one day she will be going into an important business meeting and she will think of her baby's sweet smell. She will have to use every ounce of her discipline to keep from running home, just to make sure her baby is alright.

I wanted my friend to know that everyday decisions will no longer be routine. That a five year old boy's desire to go to the men's room rather than the women's at McDonald's will become a major dilemma. That right there, in the midst of clattering trays and screaming children, issues of independence and gender identity will be weighed against the prospect that a child molester may be lurking in that restroom.

However decisive she may be at the office, she will second-guess herself constantly as a mother. Looking at my attractive friend, I wanted to assure her that eventually she will shed the pounds of pregnancy, but she will never feel the same about herself. That her life, now so important, will be of less value to her once she has a child. That she would give it up in a moment to save her offspring, but will also begin to hope for more years - not to accomplish her own dreams, but to watch her child accomplish theirs.

I wanted her to know that a cesarean scar or shiny stretch marks will become badges of honor. My friend's relationship with her husband will change, but not in the way she thinks. I wish she could understand how much more you can love a man who is careful to powder the baby or who never hesitates to play with his child. I think she should know that she will fall in love with him again for reasons she would now find very unromantic.

I wish my friend could sense the bond she will feel with women throughout history who have tried to stop war, prejudice and drunk driving. I hope she will understand why I can think rationally about most issues, but become temporarily insane when I discuss the threat of nuclear war to my children's future.

I wanted to describe to my friend the exhilaration of seeing her child learn to ride a bike. I wanted to capture for her the belly laugh of a baby who is touching the soft fur of a dog or a cat for the first time. I wanted her to taste the joy that is so real, it actually hurts.

My friend's quizzical look made me realize that tears had formed in my eyes. "You'll never regret it," I finally said. Then I reached across the table, squeezed my friend's hand, and offered a silent prayer for her, and for me, and for all of the mere mortal women who stumble their way into this most wonderful calling. This blessed gift from God--that of being a Mother.

Dale Hanson Bourke from Everyday Miracles and Chicken Soup for the Woman's Soul

Friday, May 6, 2011

Sarah's Preschool Promotion

This week brought an end to Sarah's first year of preschool. It's always bittersweet to know the year is over. I'm proud of her improving skills and educational development, but I'm sad when I think about her growing up. Plus, she had Ms. Carrie - just like Caleb did - and I know she will miss her!

I truly love the preschool she (and Caleb) attended. They are just the most genuine people who love kids and love to see them learn and grow!

And now for a quick thank you. When I knew I would be going back to work, there was one thing that I worried about, and that was how we would get Sarah to and from preschool. Two wonderful friends helped me out, Nel and Sarah H. I know they told me it was no big deal, but it was a big deal to me. I couldn't imagine having to take Sarah out of school because we couldn't get her there and get her back, and like another perfect piece of the puzzle, they were there. THANK YOU GIRLS! You are a blessing to me.

Her preschool year has come to an end...but we look forward to next fall when we start again!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - Sparring

First night of sparring at his Taekwondo class, May 2, 2011.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Potty Training 101

When I tell the story of the day I gave birth to Caleb, there is the "nice" nurse and the "mean" nurse. The first nurse - the "nice" nurse - didn't make me push hard, didn't tell me to bear down, didn't tell me that I wasn't supposed to let up between numbers while counting to ten. She told me I was doing great. The second nurse - the "mean" nurse - was the one who came in during the first nurse's break, after I had pushed for two freaking hours, and after the first time I pushed for her she said, "That's not pushing. And don't you let up until you've gotten to ten!" Baby Caleb came out quickly after I met "mean" nurse.

The same might be true for potty training. I've officially potty trained three kiddos. I wish I had someone who would have been "mean" about it with the first child so that I would have just sucked it up and stuck with it right from the start. And then with the second child, I gave up a few times as well. That was the wrong thing to do! I speak from experience when I say...once you start, there's no going back. Just do it! It's more about the parent being ready than the child being ready (that's the "mean nurse" in me).

Here is Chrissy's advice:

1. Pick a day and stick with it. If they can say the word "potty" and "poopie" (or whatever you chose for your home), and if they have, on occasion, told you they've gone in their diaper, they are ready. Some say that waking up dry is also an indication, but considering I have a six-year-old who still wets at night, that's not really an indicator in my book. But that's just me.

2. It is not easy. You will not put on a pair of underwear and magically have a potty-trained kid. Why did I think this was the case? And while no mom will admit it, it must be what we all think. Yes, they will have accidents. Lots of them. They need to do this to learn cause and effect. You might have days of one accident after not lose hope. It is ok! This happened with Sarah, and I wanted to give up! But one of my closest friends wouldn't let me, even though Sarah pottied on her floor!

There is some guess work when it comes to trying to time it to catch them so they will go in the potty seat. "Ok, time for a potty break! Let's sit down and try!" They need to learn this, too, so they know it's the right thing to do! And the first time they do it, DO A HAPPY DANCE! :) Pump them full of water or juice so that they will have plenty of potty to learn with!

3. Do not use Pull-Ups during the day. They are worthless when it comes to training a child to use the toilet. They are only handy at nap time or night time if you so chose, but do not think that because they keep you from cleaning up messes that it's somehow the wonder product for potty training. It's not.

4. Commit to staying at home, and I mean 24/7! This is more difficult when both parents work, but in our case, Josh had spring break that he decided to utilize for this effort. Gabriel did not leave the house for a week. He didn't go to church or the store. We were totally devoted to the training process and kept him home so that he could feel comfortable using the bathroom. A week is not necessarily what you have to have, even a weekend would be good. But the longer the better.

5. Be willing to think outside the box. With all three of our kiddos, we began the process with the potty seat in the living room. I had friends think I was crazy, and I think my mom did, too! But none of the kids were really crazy about sitting on it, so I remember reading something (or maybe it was on Dr. Phil?) about letting them sit and watch their favorite show to get them used to being on the potty seat. This worked for us. I am also not one to bribe my kids to do anything, but we did use M&M's with Gabriel, and this was a hit!

6. In our house, boys sit down first. I'm not sure if everyone does this, but both Caleb and Gabriel pottied sitting down first. As a matter of fact, Gabriel began his potty training on March 25th, and just yesterday he pottied standing up! It's funny to me, but I guess he knows Caleb and Daddy do this, so he wanted to try, too. Since he's tall enough, I'll let him, but I always run to the bathroom when I hear him lift the seat so I can make sure he's directing it correctly. But for starters, I really think it's easier for them to learn sitting down.

If they refuse to sit on the seat, just let them pee their pants. That's right. I said it. I truly feel that eventually this shows them the cause and effect of it. Yes, it's exhausting. I know. But it's worth it. I know that, too.

There is plenty of advice out there, and I'm sure some of you have your own advice as well! I mean, I didn't even mention naked time for the kiddo! But these are the things that have worked for us, and I felt like this post was long overdue.

What are your tips? And if you haven't potty trained, what do you think you'll try?

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The World I Know

It was a year ago last weekend that I attended Women of Joy with my mom and sister in Branson, Missouri. It was that weekend that God spoke to both Josh and me, and we decided to homeschool Caleb. We didn't know how it would go. We didn't know how long it would last.

We also didn't know that our lives would change drastically directly after I began teaching him.

Without going into detail, as it's quite personal (and I'm not a bold blogger I guess), our lives took a 180 degree turn in the fall. And by January 3rd of this year, I went back to work, we enrolled Caleb in school, and my two younger ones began going to an in-home daycare while I was at work.

Huge changes for me. Just huge.

It was not something I planned or had in mind. I had been a stay-at-home mom for four years, and it was something I had grown accustomed to doing. While there were hard days, as any mom would attest, the benefits outweighed the cost to me. The time spent with them - the giggles, the play time, the whimsical nature of it (I could go where I wanted, when I wanted), and the "mommy friendships" was just as it should be.

But sometimes things change.

When I decided to go back to work, I wanted more than anything to go back where I had worked previously. I still knew many people there, and I felt like the adjustment would be far less difficult if I felt like I was back home so-to-speak (as much at home as a person can be in a work environment...maybe you know what I mean). I was fortunate to receive an interview rather quickly, and I was hired into the Patient Finical Services department as a Patient Registrar at Phelps County Regional Medical Center.

I just love that place.

Has it been difficult sometimes? Yes. But there are several factors that have made it work for me when it may have otherwise had me uptight and in knots.

1. Caleb's personality lends itself to adjusting to new situations. He is the type that will play with anyone, introduce himself to anyone, and be around anyone. Very helpful with this change! His teacher wrote me a sweet letter by the end of the first week telling me that Caleb seemed to be adjusting very well and was more than ready academically. This helped me a lot.

2. Sarah and Gabriel are with the sweetest woman during the day. I was floored that she had an opening for not one but TWO KIDS! How amazing was that? She only keeps teachers' kids and does not charge us for days off including holiday breaks and summer break. She is a Christian and instills Godly values within her home. She is a blessing in my life.

3. Working where I worked previously allowed me to get back into the groove rather quickly. I saw so many people I already knew, and it always makes me smile when I see someone and they say, "Chrissy! You're back!"

Those three things have been nothing short of God's grace working in my life. I wouldn't be functional otherwise.

My world has changed. My first day of work was January 3rd, so I've obviously been avoiding this post. I'm not really sure why. I know that the world of blogging - especially the blogs I've read the most - tends to lean towards stay-at-home moms. What direction does this take me now? I still want to write, I just don't know where to find the time and what to include now. You were so used to hearing about me being a stay-at-home mom. What about me being a working mom?

Not to mention the "whys" of me going back to work. There are days when I wish I could be more real on here. I will never forget when I shared just a tiny bit with one of my readers, and their response was, "Wow, sometimes we forget that there are real people behind these blogs with real hurts and real issues." Yes. So true.

The world I know. So much different now.