Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Levi Stories

Dear Levi,

You make my heart sing. Did you know that? I think you do. You act like you do.

You baffle me because you are such a performer and love being in the spotlight, but you still can be very shy sometimes. The other day I was walking along, looking at tomatoes in the grocery store, when the produce man laughed and said, "He's watchin' himself dance in the mirror!" I looked over and sure enough, there you were, dancing and looking up into the mirrors that hang over the produce. You had a sheepish look on your face, but I think you enjoyed the laugh.

You are enthusiastic about life. When you see our favorite grocer, Mister Roy, you run up to him and give him a fist knock (or whatever kind of greeting that's called). I'm loving teaching you how to interact with others and give them an enthusiastic greeting. I love how you bless them with your smile. More than anything, you get excited about Mimi and Papa Jerry. They come through our door and your little legs won't even move you are so entranced. You often simply squeal with delight. One time when we went to their house, you were so excited you couldn't open the glass door, you just saw Mimi and laughed with joy.

I love how excited you get over things. Things like sprinklers and fountains. The other day we were out by ourselves in the front yard with the sprinkler and you got so into it that you were yelling and running through the water. Aria and I just sat on the front porch and watched, it was so entertaining.

Recently, Daddy had surgery on his ankle to repair his torn achilles. The best part about it was the fact that someone loaned him a knee cart. You love to ask him if he wants to use his "crunches" instead of the "scooter" and if you could please ride it. In my opinion Daddy is very generous with his knee cart. One time you did leave him stranded though and he had to crawl from the back of the house to the front. We are working on thinking about other people's interests above our own. It's a hard concept, I know, I'm still working on it myself.

I'm also amazed at how aware of how "cool" you are. We went to Old Navy the other day and to get some sunglasses for you. The Avenger ones at Target just weren't cutting it. We found the glasses and a mirror to try them on. You put them on and immediately started dancing to whatever techno beat was playing in the store. That afternoon you wore them to the pool, walking in, you acted like you owned the place. You kind of looked like a 3 year old version of the Secret Service.

You are my cool, fun, enthusiastic, passionate, sweet little boy.

I love you Levi,


Sunday, May 26, 2013

Sunday's Psalm

I haven't done this in a while. This morning I needed this Psalm and it just happened to be in my chronological journey through the Bible for today. 

Psalm 139

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.
Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
    and the light become night around me,”
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
    the night will shine like the day,
    for darkness is as light to you.
13 For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts,[a] God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
    they would outnumber the grains of sand
    when I awake, I am still with you.
19 If only you, God, would slay the wicked!
    Away from me, you who are bloodthirsty!
20 They speak of you with evil intent;
    your adversaries misuse your name.
21 Do I not hate those who hate you, Lord,
    and abhor those who are in rebellion against you?
22 I have nothing but hatred for them;
    I count them my enemies.
23 Search me, God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting.

It hit me anew: Your eyes saw my unformed body... I weep for all the children our country legally destroys within their mother's womb. Lord, how long will we look the other way and be concerned with lesser things than the mass destruction of our young? Please help us Lord!

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Logistics. Cloth Diapering, Sharing a Room, Nursing, EC'ing and Potty Training

I recently (several weeks ago?) had a friend message me on Facebook asking several questions about potty training, weaning, sharing a room and that sort of thing. I'm going to try to give some concise updates in this post.

I feel inspired to write today because I have recently jumped back on the cloth diapering band wagon. I'm yet again washing diapers in the toilet and feeling like I'm super hardcore. You know you are hardcore about saving money that in order to save 29 cents you clean your child's excrement out of their diaper to reuse it later. I always thank the Lord when I open it up and there's no poop, or at least when it's solid enough to just toss in the toilet. Yes, I do have those flushable liners, but so often I forget, or this is even sillier, I think "I don't want to waste this liner, she just pooped, so we will go without one this time." Anyways, I like the cloth diapering, mainly for the fact that I don't have to pay for diapers every week. Right now, every little bit helps.

Sharing a room. Aria and Levi are currently not sharing a room. I'm going to blame teething. She is still unpredictably waking in the middle of the night and screaming. This causes Levi to wake and also scream. For about a week I was going in, getting Aria, settling down Levi, bringing her to bed to nurse, and then waking 30 mins later to put her back in her own bed. One time this happened twice in one night. After about a week of that I told Ben that we could set up the pack n play in the guest room and she could sleep in there. I'm actually kind of glad we are doing this because I want her to be used to sleeping in a pack n play. I felt like Levi always slept in his crib better because he was not used to the feel of the pack n play. I think this will make trips easier for us this way. My thought is that she will go back into her crib around 18 months because maybe sleep will be a little more regular then.

Speaking of nursing... I think we are about done with Aria. It makes me kind of sad. A few reasons: Part of me was really proud that we were going so long, in a sort of braggy, La Leche League sort of way, we were still nursing and I was proud that we had kept it up so long. I know, that's totally dumb. Another reason is that I need to be a little more conscious of her diet, making sure she eats a wide variety of food. This is especially difficult because she seems to only like two food groups: meat and fruit. Green stuff? No way. I was really surprised when she ate some peas the other day. So far she spits out broccoli and peppers like nobody's business.

Will I EC Aria? (Takes a deep breath). I don't think I'm going to do any EC'ing with Aria. I thought it was so cool with Levi and I love the idea of it. The problem is that our culture is not conducive to EC'ing. We have things like carseats and high chairs. It's customary to have clothing on your children at all times. We also have TONS of carpet in our house. The only rooms without carpet are the kitchen and the hall bathroom, totally dumb. I would be more okay with babies wandering around without diapers if only our house was all tile or wood, something that would clean up easier. Oh well.  I did think that I might do it when she was older (9-12 months) but by that time I just didn't want to take the time. That's kind of another thing, just the time and energy it took to catch everything, it's kind of nice to just relax with her and not worry about it.

Potty Training. Levi was a beast to potty train. What child isn't? Okay, I've heard those stupid dream stories of kids potty training in like 3 hours, and please don't tell me those. I want to hear about the kid that took a month and still struggled. :) Levi took about 2 weeks. Even then, he wasn't fully "trained" because I still had to make him go and help him get on and off the potty and wipe him and everything. That's sort of the choice you make. You can wait longer and they will be more independent, or you can do it sooner and it will be more reliant upon you as the mom. I'm sure this is not always the case, each child is different. I think the closer to 2 they are, the more they need help, the closer to 3 they are, the more they can do on their own. Just a developmental thing.

Levi was pretty good with the pee's, we had accidents and stuff, but he didn't have issues with going on the potty. It was the poops that were the problem. It absolutely terrified him to poop on the potty. I tried to distract him with videos and things, but that didn't work. After about a week of staying in the house, Levi in just a t-shirt, no pants, accidents on the floor and constipation I finally said,
"Okay Levi, we are going to Target to get some presents."
"Yes, let's put on your clothes and some shoes and go to Target and get some presents for when you go poopoo on the potty."
He didn't know what Target was exactly, but he knew what presents were. Especially after Christmas and birthdays that year. We packed up Aria (about ten weeks at the time), went to the dollar section at Target and he helped me pick out about ten little toys. We threw them in the cart and went and got some wrapping paper and tape. We got home and when he went to bed that night I wrapped them and put them on the island in the kitchen. The next morning he came out to some beautifully wrapped presents. We explained that he had to go poopoo on the potty and then he could unwrap a present.

It took the whole morning for him to get up the courage to go on the potty. He would say, "I gotta go poopoo." And sit on the potty for a minute and then decide he didn't want to. I think he was afraid. Finally, he sat down on the potty and started screaming. "No! No!" I rushed to him and realized he was pooping. "Yes! Yes! You're doing great! You can do it!" I almost laughed to myself because it totally reminded me of when I birthed Aria. I felt like I was coaching a woman through natural childbirth. When it was finally over he was crying. This surprised me because I thought he'd be great when he was done. I had to console him some more, we got an M&M plus he got to unwrap his present. That week we had many more presents and the poops became less and less traumatic. I will never forget that first time though.

Right now he is almost completely independent. The only thing is that I wipe him for poops. I don't trust him yet and I want to make sure it stays clean down there.

So, that's my update. I hope you enjoyed!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Boasting In My Weakness

Time to blog. Not much else is going on at the house and I'm thankful. Ben had surgery this morning and has been in and out of sleep ever since. I think we have talked a total of 10 minutes in the past 6 hours. I've been cleaning the kitchen, resting, bumming around on facebook and instagram... I thought, I just need to blog for a minute.

I always set up my blogs like that don't I?

I just posted a bunch of pictures my friend Debbie took of me and my kids on facebook. They are absolutely beautiful. She is so talented and I'm thankful for her friendship.

I was just looking through them with happy thoughts, sort of just clicking along, when suddenly I came to the end and wound up at the beginning of my facebook pictures. They were the pictures from when I first started FB like 8 years ago and I didn't have my own camera, so whatever pictures my friends took, those were the ones that were posted.

Let me explain, if this is your first time getting to know me. I was about 50 pounds heavier than I am now. I struggled a LOT with my weight throughout high school and college. You can read about it more in the series The Redemption of My Physical Body if you would like to know my story.

It was kind of like a slap in the face. I'm going along all happy and seeing these lovely pictures and then I see what I used to look like. Lord, help me with this, I don't want to insult Your creation. I also don't want to insult those years when I looked like that. I truly believe they were valuable and meaningful and I'm truly glad I looked like that. It's just a bit of a shock, to see the difference.

I've been thinking about the scripture that says, 'And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness." Most gladly, therefore, I will boast all the more in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.' 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 This whole area of food and body image and self-control have been weaknesses in my life. I am so weak in this area, I struggled for years to try to get a handle on it. Always, the harder I tried, the worse things got.

Finally, I came to the end of myself and had to surrender it to God, for good.

Can I just boast in the fact that I am weak in this area? Whenever I try to start taking control of things and manipulating and start concentrating on losing weight and taking my focus off the Lord and putting it on food, everything starts to crumble. I praise God that it doesn't take me long these days to surrender back to Him and put it under His authority again.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I want to boast in the fact that I did not go from who I was 5+ years ago, to what I look like now. I did NOT do it. It is not because I pulled myself up by my bootstraps and dug in my heels and determinately said, "I will do this!" It's because I gave it to the Lord and surrendered food and my emotions to Him. Day after day after day. I had accountability in that with my husband. So many times Ben has said, "Jody, you are not allowed to diet. You know that won't help you. Only the Lord can help you." in so many words. He's right.

Lord, You have done these things in my heart, in my life and the fruits of it are evident in what You have allowed in my body. Thank You for Your rich blessings. I DO NOT deserve them. I am thankful that You have had mercy on me.

Thank You.

Okay, as much as it's painful for me to see, I'm going to post this, only to say that this is what I used to look like.

And this is what the Lord has done. As I said, this is the fruit of obedience.

And this one, because it's one of my favorites. 

Friday, May 10, 2013

An Anger Problem

Let's just say it was a long day. There were good parts and not so good parts.

Good parts: going to the playground TWICE, once in the morning, once in the evening. Levi spent the whole time on the swings. When I wasn't pushing him, he was begging me to push him. I keep explaining to him how to pump his own two legs, but I don't think he even wants to learn. I kind of don't care. I mainly love his delighted laughs as he goes higher and higher.

Bad parts: hmmm, let's just say there was lots of disobedience and lots of screaming.

Lord, You are teaching me something, help me to learn it.

One thing I'm working on right now is nipping disobedience in the bud. This is difficult when your child goes from one disobedient thing to the next to the next and ... well, you get the point. Maybe we need some new toys or something to preoccupy little ones. They seem to really get into it when I'm trying to focus on something important, such as making dinner or lunch or prepping any kind of food.

We were hurrying home from the park. We had been playing in the sunshine for about an hour and all I had brought were those Annie's version of Teddy Grahams and water. No protein, no healthy carbs, no fruit... Aria wanted to eat the whole box and threw a fit when I took them out of her dirty little hands. She was laying there in the mulch screaming as I talked to another mom about this great parenting book on how to train your child. Excellent, you are making me look SO GOOD right now Aria. I called Ben and told him I would come pick him up as soon as we got home. He works about a mile away. He tore (yes, completely TORE) his Achilles on Sunday and can't drive. He can also hardly walk and can only stand for a small period of time.

We got home and I was going to make nachos with black beans. I started getting out the stuff when Aria screamed to be held. Levi was asking all kinds of questions, asking for food, grabbing things. Ben couldn't help, so he went and sat in the recliner. I was trying to hurry because I knew he didn't have a ton of time for lunch. I realized I needed to grate the cheese for the nachos. I also needed to drain the can of black beans and let's just say I wasn't working in a meticulously clean kitchen. (A pet peve of mine is working in a dirty kitchen. I basically prefer to clean the whole kitchen before I start prepping for dinner only to get it dirty again. Deep sigh...)

I remember my stress level soaring.

Those are the moments when you want to start doing things to your child that would not be good. You find yourself wanting to spank them so hard, so that you would feel better and get some of this anger out. I started to think to myself, I can't do this, who am I kidding?

Rewind: A few days ago I had a talk with Ben about his tone of voice towards Levi and how it was a little too harsh sometimes and how he needed to watch his attitude towards him. I kind of think Levi is going through this phase of seeing how much he can argue and push back. Everything is argued. So many things he manipulates and it can make you pretty touchy if you don't watch out.

Today I needed that talk for my own heart attitude.

Ben is gone for the evening and I had to handle the kids by myself. Aria's not too big of a deal if you just wrestle her into her diaper and pajamas while she screams. She goes right down and then maybe cries off and on for maybe an hour. Yes, she's the easy child. That's because she's in a bed with WALLS.  Levi got out of bed several times.

The problem was the fact that I chose to make pita bread and that requires a lot of attention. Levi would come out and ask for more water and I would explain to him that he didn't need more water because that would cause his Pull Up to overflow like it did the past three nights. We aren't drinking huge glasses of water or tea before bed anymore, mommy finally learned her lesson.

Then I would tell him to get back in bed and he would complain or tell me he was hungry or he had to go poopoo or his tummy hurt. Sorry buddy, you just went poopoo earlier today, I fed you dinner and you didn't eat all of it and you don't seem like your tummy really hurts and you weren't complaining about it earlier, so, get back in bed.

Again, I'm concentrating on cooking these pitas, and I see him standing just outside the kitchen. Anger, flares up and I ask him, what does he think he's doing? Again, he pulls out the excuses and he wants to help....

All the while I'm listening to a program about anger.

I realize that I'm angry, not because he is sinning and disobeying, but because my day is getting interrupted yet again. I'm angry because he's manipulating me and wanting to disobey and draw out his bedtime and here I am, trying my hardest to make good food and he's infringing on my cooking time, and I've had it.

I cannot say that I am proud of my behavior following that time. It was a struggle and the more I let my anger control me, the worse Levi got. It was like my anger was feeding his disobedience.

Finally, by the end of the night I was apologizing to Levi. I told him I was sorry I burst out on him and treated him the way I did, dragging him into our room so I could spank him, feeling I was completely justified in it.

Lord, help me to respond in love. Help me to be diligent in the first time things happen. Help me to be long-suffering. I need You so badly in this. Thank You that Your power is perfected in my weakness. Therefore, I will all the more gladly boast in weaknesses, with insults with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong. Lord, as I confess this and put it before You and say that I can do nothing, I am surrendering it to You. Please, help me depend on You in this area of my life. I cannot do it alone. Give me wisdom and give me strength.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Thoughts on Motherhood

Okay, so blogging might be a last thing I need to be doing right now. I just laid in bed with Levi for about 30 mins (which feels like an eternity when you are laying with a three year old, waiting for him to stop fidgeting and just fall asleep, I thought about not making him nap about 30 times... and then I remembered how we were all up multiple times last night thanks to his little sister).

The dishes need to be washed, I need to do yoga, wash diapers and maybe do some other things around the house.

The problem is, I usually only get the pressing things done, and I just put off the important things... such as recording my thoughts and feelings and the happenings of our family for everyone on the internet to read. More importantly, for us to be able to look back on someday. Thank you Blogger, for being a place for me to put this stuff.

So, here we go.

Yesterday at the grocery store I had an epiphany: when shopping with two little kids it will take all of my energy and focus to just get through the store. Grocery shopping is no longer a peaceful meandering through a store where I can look at prices, spend time gazing at and sampling cheeses, get lost in the cereal section looking for the best deal. It's not relaxing, it's stressful. But that's okay. I realized that if I look at it as a challenge of focus to keep two little kids busy, to focus and check my list after every aisle, to answer questions and explain why we are not getting marshmallow cereal because it's not good for our bodies.

My goal is to be kind and respectful of strangers and other adults, to teach my children to be friendly if an elderly woman asks how old they are. It takes energy and focus to pick Levi up off the floor during a meltdown in the dressing section and quietly tell him that he needs to stop and have a better attitude and that we need to do all things without arguing or complaining.

It takes energy to run to the bathroom from the middle of the store all the way to the front and then re-find your place. Or energy to backtrack to where you forgot a certain item (I hate going back to where I have been!)

I keep thinking, the joy of the Lord is my strength. Lord, You are strong in my weakness. Your strength is perfected in weakness. I am in desperate need of You in this whole mothering thing. It feels like I'm being stretched beyond capacity some days. Help me! I need Your Holy Spirit to give me love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Thank You for Your faithfulness.