Thursday, December 6, 2012

Puddles and puddles and piles... Oh my.

There have been a lot of puddles and piles in our house in the last week. Lots of different kinds of puddles and piles, too.  We went and cut down our Christmas tree a few days after Thanksgiving. It was incredible the difference between Abi Kate at this time last year verses this year. She wanted to run through trees, touch them and smell them, she wanted to help with the saw… (um, no). The first real tree that I had (or that I can remember) was our first married Christmas. So, we’ve continued to cut one down every year. Walking through the rows always makes me feel like the Christmas season is officially here. Abi Kate insisted that they were Halloween trees, saying “tick or teat” as we walked through the fields (Promise I didn’t forget the r’s… she omits that sound). That is until we lit up the lights on the tree at home and she whispered, “Kiss-mas!” Precious.

 Bye, guys! 

 Abram came too ;)

 Clearly we don't get out much. Sorry babe! ;o
 First sip of hot chocolate :)
We got the tree home and our first puddle happened-- you know where you fill the tree stand up with water and miss?! And then the small pile of needles after it’s placed in the tree and lights are put on and it’s finally finished. We chose a different type of tree than we’ve ever cut before. While I happen to like this tree, I discovered once I started to put the lights on that it has thorns on the inner branches! Oh my soul. I put on long sleeves and gloves to protect my delicate skin ;) And afterwards, we sat with the overhead lights off and just the twinkling Christmas tree lights on…. That feels like Christmas, too.
 Helping Momma with the lights (See my gloves?!)

 She kept finding random pieces of tape and putting them on her chin-- Santa?!

We also started our Jesse tree, a new tradition for us. I wanted to do one with her last year, but I knew she was really too young to participate. So last year, we read the Christmas story and talked to her about it. There are so many cool ways to do a Jesse tree, but I wanted Abi Kate to be able to fully participate in the making of each ornament. She doesn’t have the fine motor skills for gluing and cutting and all the adorable craft making yet, so I found an online source of printables. Because sister loves to color. Actually, while she colors she says, “I coloring. I coloring.” Just in case we didn’t notice. 
 Coloring ornaments on Day 1

Fierce coloring skills, eh? ;)

I love the concept of the Jesse tree because it traces the entire story of the Gospel, the prophecy of Christ’s arrival, the reason we would need a Savior, the way that God wove his story into the lives of everyday people, all the way to the arrival of the Holy One…. It’s just a beautiful tapestry that completely displays the sovereignty of God. I want her to see how it ties together and leads us to our own redemption. She’s too young to understand it all right now, and that’s completely ok. But we want her to hear it over and over again, so her heart will be responsive as she grows. We’ve also used our nativity with the Jesse tree this year. So there are piles of crayons on our floor and piles of hay from the roof of the stable. She calls the stable a “farm” and named the cow “Layla” (SO appropriate). But she’s got baby Jesus’ name down, so we’re calling it a win.
Sorry, everyone under the age of 2 has been pants-less in a our house for a few days... More on that...

 And this gem of a wiseman she named & continues to call"Ra Ra" (which is what she calls my sister). It's incredibly hilarious to me because if Rachel did live back in biblical times, she probably would've been a wise woman. Maybe she would've been black, too. Who knows. Miracles happen, right?! 

Tommy & I are also using John Piper’s Advent Devotional for ourselves. I l.o.v.e. John Piper. Love his poetic words, love his sheer honesty, love that he speaks Truth, unfettered by the fluff and feel-goods. I have a friend who had linked up this devotional on Facebook and I was so stoked to print it off on Sunday afternoon and get started. In our Connect group on Sunday morning, what did our teacher hand out? None other than Piper’s Advent Devotional. With a folder! (Chock it up to nerdy teacher-ness but I love a good folder). My printer was so happy! (And so was I.) It has been so good for me to spend the days readying my spirit for the season. I can’t read any of his stuff without crying-- hence more puddles. I’d highly recommend it if you’re looking for one for yourself. I feel like I’m getting a double dose with teaching Abi Kate the Jesse tree and then reading this as well. I can feel the activity of the Spirit in my heart this season. Maybe in a more real way than in years past.

We also spent the last week beginning potty training with Abi Kate. So… more puddles (and sadly some piles.) She started showing readiness signs around 17 months, but I got pregnant a few weeks later and just could not muster up any extra effort to assist in the encouragement of the potty. I spent a lot of time trying to determine if now was the right time, discussing it with my hubs who knows things are always far less serious than I make them. My comfort was that she’s very verbal and honest to a fault  (“I don’t like Mommy’s cookies.” That’s what she said the other night. Offensive. By the way, they were actually delicious. More for me.)  I felt her communication and brutal honesty would make the process an easier transition for us all- especially if she wasn’t ready. (I fully anticipated her to look at me and say, “No, Mommy. I no like potty.”)  I looked into about a thousand different methods and about 3 days in (with some time away from the situation, some introspection, and the much needed encouragement of a friend) realized that much like most things in my parenting, I don’t fit into a “one size fits all” approach. Most methods are just methods that we have to shift and make work for us. We started off with a bare-bottom and oh my soul were there lots of puddles on the floor! But it actually worked very well for her to identify the physical sensations. On day 3 or 4, she started realizing that she has voluntary control over those muscles, so she began using the potty more as a conditional reflex. She’s still working on the verbal connection, but on day 7, she started running to the potty independently when she has had to go- and she made it ahead of time. Woo hoo! She’s been consistent in doing that daily and going when we tell her with a few accidents still thrown in. I’m sure she will now pee exclusively on our carpet the rest of the day once I hit “publish.”

The other puddles came from me. Crying. A lot. I don’t remember being quite so teary in my other pregnancies, but I have been with this one. A lot of my tears relate to Abi Kate, so that’s different from her pregnancy I guess since I wasn’t raising a child yet. One of my biggest concerns as a parent has always been that I would rush her in doing things. We live in a culture of independence, which isn’t really a bad thing, except that I feel like babies often aren’t allowed to be babies. Toddlers can’t be toddlers. Preschoolers need to be like school-aged kids...  I just want Abi Kate to thrive in her own time because she is her own person. She is unique and develops uniquely, just like all children do. It’s why one-method teaching in a classroom usually isn’t profitable. I feel the same in my parenting with her. We will encourage her and help her become autonomous because we do feel like independence is important, but we don’t want to put her in situations that she’s just not developmentally ready for yet. It's a balancing act that everyone does differently and one that I struggled with in this new experience. It was difficult for me the first few days of potty training because I feared I was putting her in a situation she wasn’t ready for developmentally. Which made me cry. A lot. I don’t fully know why I thought this except that I am just plain emotional right now which ups my irrational level (and that's stunning in itself), lessens my ability to objectively evaluate her progress, and because there are many so opinions on potty training about when and how and what defines success/not success that all differ. It wasn't the accidents--I don’t get frustrated with the accidents- they just don’t bother me. I expect them. (Except the one she had yesterday. On our bed. My side. I cried. No anger just a bunch of uncontrollable snubbing from me. It was really embarrassing.)   I couldn't put my finger on why I felt this way (probably because they were covered with my ridiculous tears), so I had to take some time to sit back and consider two things. First, my motivation--  I saw signs that she's ready and I would adore if she’s potty trained before Abram arrives.I know how I am in transition times-- I don’t do change easily. And I know that trying to potty train my two year old while having a newborn attached to my boob all day long while wearing mesh panties (sssuupppeerr sexy) would not be the most gentle or patient environment for her learn it. Not because of the timing or age or anything else, but because of me. I know I would feel rushed and frustrated because I know myself. Many people do not have this flaw like I do, so later is just fine. I'm just not one of those laid back people. Honestly, I wish I was.  Starting now makes me feel like I can offer a much kinder and patient response as she learns. Second, I realized that this is how she ALWAYS learns. She is always cautious in learning new things-- meaning she doesn’t throw herself into them without exposure. She held the tip of my pinky for a month (really there’s no support in there!) before she decided she would let go and walk alone. And once she did decide she was going to walk, she was done with crawling almost immediately. She was the same in learning to crawl- rocking on her knees for weeks while I encouraged her to come to me and cheering her on when she made it. Once she realized she could do it, she was ready. It’s even reminded me of the first month of breastfeeding. I led the way, not her. I followed her cues for when she was hungry or needed comfort, but the actual act-- I had to position her, I had to help her latch appropriately, I had to help her stay awake to eat. And once she decided that she knew what to do about 4 weeks in, she didn’t need me to do all that anymore. It took me a few days to recognize that this new learning phase is really no different for her. We didn’t rush her to do any of these things. We just gave her the support she needed to reach the goal in her own time. And that’s how learning has always worked for her as an individual-- experience plus time coupled with our patience and guidance as she figures things out. It almost reminds me of Lev Vygotsky’s concept of scaffolding (which by the way I was a huge fan of when I was in the classroom). Heck, even her birth mimicked this pattern-- contracting for 5 weeks. And once her body decided it was actually time to grace our world, it was 5 hours of labor and she was here and it was done. It’s just who she is and how she learns. Once I got a grip on that, realized it wasn’t nearly the issue I was pouring over, most of the tears stopped. I realized we are following her cues while guiding her along the way. We feel no rush for her to be fully trained by the end of the month or even by her 2nd birthday (and WHY is that looming on the horizon?!). Patience and breathing easy-- two things I’m still learning. ;) And clearly, not thriving at it while pregnant! We’ll just keep being consistent and she’ll fully get it when she’s fully ready. In the meantime, she’s made great progress and she is so proud of herself when she is successful. As usual, I was the only party stressing about this. She thinks it’s fantastic.  

Sorry there's no potty training pics. I'll take a picture of a puddle on the floor next time?! 

So the puddles have diminished significantly from her, at least while we’re at home. She’s not quite ready for potential puddle-making in public yet haha. Maybe in another week. She looks like a big girl in her panties, which she adores. And we had to put coconut oil on her little bottom cheeks from where they got chapped sitting on the carpet (hilarity!) But hopefully those puddles will continue to decrease in coming days/weeks. ;) And on a separate and random note, let me just say that I totally get the start/stop with potty training. It can be uber discouraging and the consistency is just plain exhausting, or at least for us. There were 2 definite days I thought, “I’m too tired/pregnant for this.” In addition, can I just say that for me it is  SOOOO much easier to assist in potty training someone else’s kid?! I’ve done that before. No emotional aspect, so no biggie. Next time, I’m sending my kid to a friend’s house. Get ready, girls. Abram is next. Don’t be shocked when he shows up with cookies for you (obviously not the ones AK deemed gross) and a note pinned to his shirt that says, “Please return me when I am a successful potty-er.”

That said I’m still the maker of most of the puddles this week. I opened the Christmas present she made us in her Sunday School class and sobbed. In my car. Over a handprint. Maybe I’ll get myself under control in a week or so. Or maybe 4.5 months from now. In the meantime, we’re enjoying and anticipating all things Christmas and hope you are too- puddles, piles, and all!


  1. She is so gorgeous!!! And I feel ya on the pee puddles! Tanami was doing so well, and then this week decided the only appropriate place to pee is in my parent's closet floor while we are there. Fantastic. Thank goodness it's laminate and not carpet. There is a lot of back and forth - you just have to take it day by day and bask in the "Wins" :) And where did you find panties that fit?!

  2. Thank you! It is good to know we aren't alone!! So glad you said that. Back and forth is a great way to describe it! I got panties at Kmart-- crazy, huh?! They usually never have anything I need and I think I go in there once a year. We also got a pack of Gerber training pants and they come in 18 month but I got the 2T-- so they're a little tall on her, but she's got my thighs, so... ;)