Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Ages and Stages of Children and Faith

Parenting to me has been one giant object lesson in faith after another.  This week, as I looked at the vastly different stages of my three kids, I couldn't help but reflect on how I remember different stages in my faith that were oh so similar to where they are at.

The new my sweet Ellie girl.  She is the easiest baby I have had, cute and cuddly, eager to learn new things and find new abilities.  Other than the world revolving around her, she hasn't fully embodied that sin nature yet.  There are times when I marvel at how much I love this little one, just want to love on her and have all the patience for when she just wants mama (who couldn't when they are just so crazy cute and sweet?)  She delights in the world around her with awe and giggles and is so very trusting.
I remember being a "baby" Christian- new to the world of faith and a relationship with Christ.  I often had the feeling my little one looks to be expressing above.  Mountain top experiences, filled with awe with God and my Savior, wanting to just curl up in His arms, joy bubbling over, and excited to learn everything I could.   In the same way I wish I could bottle my kids' energy, I wish I could bottle that feeling to refer to it on the harder days.  I still have glimpses of that, but it is missing the innocence of youth, I think.  I know the Love our Father has for us, because I know the love I have for my own children.  It is amazing to think that just as I adore my little ones, want to hold them, comfort them when they are upset, and delight as they do, so does our Father.

The Two Year Old-  Oh my crazy Sami...she is in the depths of toddlerhood.    All that is terrible about twos, she experiences daily.  I have said that I think two year olds help us to understand original sin.  God said don't do it, and we did.  This is our daily battle: don't do that, don't put that in your mouth, be gentle to your sister, dog etc, listen to Mommy, don't pee on your father, be my sweet girl...the list could go on and on.  Whatever I say, she does the opposite.  She loves learning but sometimes I think it is so she can continue to be smarter than us in her own mind.  Of course, she chose one of the hardest days I have had with her to sweetly tell me for the first time that she loves me, and my heart melted.

 Let's be honest, I have been there more recently than I care to admit.  Whether it was an issue of flagrantly going against what God wanted for me and sinning or sinning by omission, not doing the things God asks of me, I have gone through my own toddler stages of faith.  Thankfully God's patience far surpasses mine and he has been there for me through these stages.  There have been times when I feel I have had blessings removed due to my own choices.  Looking back, I can imagine God lovingly saying "That was a bad choice" while putting me in a spiritual time-out, while I worked toward an attitude of repentance and learning to listen to Him again.  Just as my toddler often makes me want to pull my hair out at times, I am sure God looks at me and thinks "Seriously??  You know better!"  Thankfully, just as I remind myself daily with my toddler, "This TWO shall pass."  God's patience wins out and I grow, change and learn by his grace.

The Teenager- Everyone keeps telling me to brace for the teen years, and they may get rougher but at 13, my oldest is an awesome person.  She isn't perfect, but she tries hard.  She loves to learn, grow and be challenged.  She is figuring out who she is and who she wants to be and I am so proud of who that is.  Sure, there are more eye-rolls these days, an increase in her embarassment by her parents, some moments of surprising attitude, but on the whole I am in awe of the young woman she is becoming.  Her beauty, grace and intelligence are inspiring.  We aren't necessarily in the clear for rebellion, but I refuse to believe it is inevitable.

I see my child growing into such an amazing person, and I hope that I sometimes cause my heavenly Father to feel the kind of pride I feel in her.  I know I still have moments of attitude with my Father, but I hope those are growing to be the exception.  I am sure someday I might progress past a teenager in my spiritual maturity, but I guess I have only been a Christ-follower for 15 years, so my teenaged behavior might make sense at times.  Just as we grow and change throughout our lives, so do I continue to see the growth in myself.  I hope I continue to grow, change and mature throughout all the days in my life, so that my heavenly Father will be as proud of me as I am of my own kiddos, saying "well done, good and faithful servant."

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Potty Training Wins

Potty Training....those two simple words can bring up so many emotions: dread, fear, exhilaration, joy, and of course exhaustion!  My first daughter was crazy advanced in a lot of ways and at 18 months came home from day care, where she often saw older kids using the potty and asked for a potty.  We went out, bought one, and she used it from then forward- easiest potty training ever!  (Of course during the day, I had help due to the awesome day care she had!)

Fast forward to kid #2, almost 11 years later.  The first attempt was when she was around 22 months, before #3 came around.  We used the 3-day potty training method and she took to it great.  That is...until she got a stomach bug a month later and all progress was lost.  By the time she was ready to try again, I was about to have #3 and I decided to wait. And wait we did.  I finally had enough of buying two sets of diapers and decided to commit.  On Monday, Sami woke up and we immediately changed her into panties and made a big deal about being a big girl.  I showed her the potty chart and bribed her with chocolate.  She did so much better the second time around (of course she is 9 months older this time with significantly more verbal skills.)  We hung out at home for 3 days and now she goes potty whenever she needs to.  She has even stayed dry all night the last two nights, wearing her big girl panties to bed.  I have also noticed a marked improvement in her behavior and attitude overall.  I attribute this to the fact that she is getting extra attention and extra praise from everyone.  It has been a great reminder about how well kids respond to positive reinforcement.  I plan to find all sorts of ways to praise her for all sorts of things even once she is 100% trained.

Sami excited about her new book she got as a reward for staying dry for 2 nights in a row!

We left the house for the first time today and this meant time to protect the car seat.  I went to Babies R Us hoping to find something like this: Kiddopotamus Deluxe Piddle Pad.

Then I decided I would just make more, that were cheaper and bleach-able :) I bought these "lap pads" a pack of 6 for $9.99 from Babies R Us.  I am sure you can find similar from Walmart or Target or the like. 

 I then laid it in the toddlers seat.  (Yes we are still rear-facing, no it isn't as reclined as it looks in the picture).  I cut a slit for the latch between the legs and for each strap on the sides so that they aren't impeded in any way.  This is an important step for keeping kiddo safe.

close-ups of cutting around the straps.

 I then used the one I cut on the seat as a template and cut the rest of them to match. 

 Lastly, I put one back onto the seat for the next time we leave the house and put the rest in the plastic bag they came in with the handy hook and hooked it to the back of the seat on the headrest.  You could always do this to the front seat if you don't have a minivan :)  Now I have plenty for longer car rides, or if I am behind on my laundry (NEVER! )  Having an easy way to protect the car seat saves the headache of washing the seat cover, having the seat out of commission and keeps mommy positively praising Sami and not freaking out over accidents that are bound to happen.  Totally worth the $10 and effort!

I need to make a set for the baby's seat next, for those random diaper explosions that only seem to happen in the car seat.

I am so happy that we are on the road to having Sami trained!  Now I only have one set of diapers to change!!! WOOOHOOOO!