Monday, October 12, 2009

Countdown to Phoebe

Libby and Xander proudly display the paper chain we made with 50 links to count down to Phoebe's estimated arrival. The chain stretched almost perfectly from one end of the hall to the other.

The concept of time is a hard one for little ones, isn't it? We'll leave in about an hour, we did that last week, your baby sister is coming home in about 50 days... SO, to help with a visual and to build excitement for the arrival of our soon-to-come Phoebe, Libby and Xander and I made a paper chain with 50 links, counting down the last 50 days(ish) to her birth.

Well guess what - the chain is getting smaller! Daddy lifts the kids up to cut a link every night before bed and tonight, after the kiddos are all jammied up and the stories have been read, the songs have been sung, prayer has been lifted, my three loves will snip-snip a link and leave only 7 remaining.

The only problem is that I need a backup plan, because Libby and Xander both came later than expected and I anticipate that with Phoebe as well... I guess when the 20th comes and goes we'll start building a new chain to celebrate the "extra" days we have to prepare for her. :)

I snapped this picture last week, or the week before? My loves cut the chain before bed, and we're thrilled to see how short our wait is becoming! We can't wait to bring you home miss P!

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Two Things I Love About You

alexander elliot meade
born October 10, 2007
weighing 8 pounds 11 ounces
stretching out to 21 and 3/4 inches in length
adored instantly by daddy, mama, and libby

Ten-Ten! Today's the day. My Alexander Elliot is two! Two years old. What a blessed two years they have been. Brian and I were changed in the most remarkable way on the day we were given our Elisabeth Adelaide, and then for the Lord to do it again with the gift of Xander - magnificent! Little man, you are adored by dad, mom, Libby, and even Barns. And in honor of the past two years and the delight you have brought your family and friends, I've put together a list -

Two Things I Love About You.

1. i love the sweet sweet way you look at me and say, "hi mama" when you wake up in the morning.

2. i love your oh so soft skin, especially on your cheeks and your little neck. (you're still my baby for a few more days, i can love that about you.)

Okay, two? that's silly. I have a few more.

3. i love the way you adore your big sister, repeat her to learn new expressions, giggle and play with her and miss her while she's gone.

4. i love how unbelievably agreeable you are. i cannot believe how agreeable you are.

5. i love that you are potty trained!

6. i love that you say "bye-bye barns, bye-bye house" when we leave, and that you exhale and murmer, "hooome" when we pull into the driveway.

7. i love your silly voice. your deep silly voice that you throw around to entertain us.

8. i love your memories of yellowstone.

9. i love that you love to sing, and you make up songs and make me make up songs.

10. i love that you were gifted to us, and that by the grace of our God we might be used to teach you his will and his ways and the wonder of his grace.

there is so much to love about you, sweet xander. your amazing manners (you have the best manners of anyone in the family), your fashion sense (you are a really well dressed kid ;), your thin but curly blond hair.... and more..... I hope you enjoyed these special days of celebration of your little life!

birthday cake before...

birthday cake after.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

IN! (the potty)

I can't believe I'm updating the blog with information about my baby's - er, big boy's - latest accomplishment... potty training. What a difficult and fun and sanctifying experience this has been!

It happened Friday night, two weeks ago. Xander clutched his diaper and told us "potty!" We looked for some clarification, "Do you need to go potty?" and he told us yes. We looked at each other, puzzled, and I asked Xander if he wanted to go sit on the potty and go. Yes again. Off we went, to the potty, but nothing happened.

A few minutes later, "potty!" Repeat. (including the part where nothing happened.)
A few minutes later, "potty!" We need a new plan of action. Daddy retrieved the little potty chair and we sat it out for the big boy who wanted to keep his diaper dry. Within a few minutes he sat on the potty, exclaimed, "uh oh! here it comes!" and with that, we were cheering over a soaked floor - and we were on the potty training roller coaster. oh my.

Now what? What do you do when your son tells you he needs to go potty, then proceeds to hold it in until he can get to the potty? Well, we decided that what we don't do is encourage him to go in his diaper. What we do do however, was trickier to determine. After all, is he really ready? He's not yet two, and everyone tells me to wait with boys until they're two and a half. Where did this come from? Was it a fluke? He's not supposed to potty train yet... etc. These thoughts and many more were flying through my brain. Let's not forget we are a few short weeks from Phoebe's arrival. I really had no intentions of tackling potty training before she came. My plan was to attempt it after the new year. Especially in light of our holiday travel plans. Won't it just be simpler to have Xander in a diaper, rather than stopping roadside?

Guess what. I didn't really get to decide. Trust me, that wasn't easy for me to swallow. Brian and I determined that we'd play Saturday by ear. If Xander kept it up, we'd train him, if he abandoned interest and didn't take to the potty after a good night's sleep, we'd drop it. We we were in no way desperate to get him out of diapers. At the same time, we did have a rare open weekend ahead of us - this just might work.

Saturday came and went and we learned a lot about our big boy. Primarily, he can hold it a long time. AND, he didn't want to go in his diaper. So, he had 3 successes on the potty, though he didn't really have them until he simply could not hold it any longer - as in, he'd proclaim "potty!" run and sit on the potty, and then nothing would happen, probably 10 times for every time he figured out how to relax and go. As it turns out, it's a tricky process for someone who has never really had to think about it before!

So, the weekend progressed, and the week, and little by little the little man got the hang of actually "going" on the potty, not just going to the potty when he had the urge. But it wasn't without struggle on my part. Doubt. Questioning. Desperation. Should I really be spending my days potty training him? Every success made me feel like I was digging myself deeper into a hole we couldn't climb out of, every accident made me doubt whether I should be training him at all. I was not sleeping well at night, exhausted during the day, losing my patience with the kids, constantly questioning whether I was doing the right thing, crying when Xander got off the potty without letting anything out, crying when he had a success, neglecting poor Libby who entertained herself for 2 days while I followed Xander around analyzing his every move and gesture for a clue as to what I should do with him. I was a mess!

Enter: the Lord. Oh, how thankful I am for the Bible Study I was working on for that week, and in particular a little section on trials. Finally it clicked, "this is a trial!" and oh for my perspective to change. For those of you who don't know me, I'm a planner. And for everything I don't plan, I still like to be in control of it - as in, I am choosing to not plan. This potty training experience didn't work quite like that. I did not get to plan, I did not get to pick a date to start and buy stickers and candies and start planting the seed in my baby's mind. I did not clear my schedule or pray about my intentions or plans for the coming week of training. Nope, I just got slapped in the face with a kid who decided he wanted to go on the potty. And boy did I need it - I needed the reminder that I am not in control, but I am under the charge of a sovereign Lord who is providentially working for my benefit (Romans 8:28-29 -- And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.), and who allows me various trials, again for my benefit (James 1:2-4 -- Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.) And I needed practice, practice dealing with trials, because I know that more will come.

And oh how the Lord provides what we need. Poor Xander sat on the potty Tuesday morning, and I was convinced he needed to go, and that it would be best to keep him on the potty until we had a success. So I sat with him as he begged me to get down, "all done, mama!" he would proclaim. No, Xander, let's keep trying... we'd read, we'd sing, we'd chat, he'd try to charm me and convince me to let him get off the potty. Finally, in his cutest voice (that often melts me) he pointed to his thumb the way he'd been taught in the church nursery and said, "be patient."

Tears flowed, and they weren't X's this time. :) The Lord convicted me of my impatience with my sweet boy, by using words he scarcely understands but I'd helped him memorize.

Later, while chatting on the phone with my dear sister-in-law I confessed that I was struggling with potty training and decision-making and through her wise counsel I realized that I was measuring success in entirely the wrong light. Rather than accidents v. potty successes, I needed to be evaluating myself through the trial - was I keeping a quiet spirit? Was I patient with my kids? Was I loving? Was I forbearing? Was I quick to confess my sins and repent? Was I grumbling and complaining? no, no, no, no, no, yes....

So, not nearly quickly enough, but certainly not too late, I cried out to the Lord for help - patience, wisdom, joy in making difficult decisions in raising my kids... he answered.

The following days were so much better. Not only did Xander begin to really get the hang of using the potty, but my focus had changed from keeping undies dry to glorifying the Lord in my duty as a mother. I think my husband and kids would agree that I was a lot more pleasant to be around the latter part of the week. :) Praise the Lord for his word that is sharper than any double edged sword! And, praise the Lord for my husband, who came home from work at the end of the day and picked up where I left off, offering me a much needed break, encouragement, steadfastness where I was faltering... He has been such a great and godly leader through this process and I am so blessed to have him leading our family!

In the meantime, Xander is almost a potty pro. He's recently become much more successful at poopie in the potty (that's tricky for little ones, isn't it?). I think ice cream and cookies had something to do with his willingness to learn. :) Once I feel confident in his mastery of this, it will be a totally new world we live in... until I start diapering that cute tiny new little bottom I'm about to blessed with. :)

And here he is, my little man, cuter than anything in his little undies (really, I don't know of much that is cuter than a little one in their undies, sorry, it's just true) enjoying a little bowl of ice cream after a big success. And would you believe, that a couple weeks before his second birthday and a couple weeks before the arrival of his baby sister, Alexander Elliot is potty trained? yowza.