Five years ago, if you would have told me the time I might spend talking to my two year old about not using potty words, much less PRAYING about it, I would have laughed at you. However, such is my life these days.
When I say potty words, I don't mean curse words. I literally mean potty words: poopy head, pooty, etc. Lana has a friend at preschool who has introduced her to these words, and together, they find them hilarious.
Lana is always so honest - on the way home from preschool, I'll ask her who she played with, she always names this friend, and then she usually tells us that they used potty words on the playground. Her teacher never even has to tell us - she tells on herself! We have talked and talked and talked about this.....about how potty words stay in the bathroom, and about how she should honor her teachers by obeying them, even when her friend is encouraging her to make foolish choices.
About a week ago, I told her that if she couldn't make wise choices with this friend, then she couldn't play with her at school. We talked about choosing friends who help her make wise choices. It made her so sad not to play with her best friend, but she obeyed. Her teacher said she was so diligent about avoiding this friend all day long. It made an impression on her, because she came home talking about how she wanted to play with her friend, so she would make wise choices from now on.
This morning on the way to school, we talked about it again. This time we did a little role-playing, and practiced what she could say to her friend when she started using potty words. Before we got out of the car to go into preschool, we prayed for God to help her make good choices even when it's hard.
Here's how our afternoon conversation went in the car:
Lana: Mommy, I played with my friend today at school, and she used potty words.
Rachael: She did?! And what did you do, Lana?
L: I made wise choices and didn't use potty words!! I did a good choice, mommy!
R: I'm so happy about that, Lana! You honored Mommy and God by obeying. What did you do instead of using potty words?
L: I told my friend not to those potty words, but she did it again.
L: And then I told her did she want to go to time-out??? And she stopped!
We had a big celebration about how she spurred her friend on to make wise choices, and about what blessing that was. We prayed and thanked God for answering our prayers that morning. She was so proud to come home and tell her Daddy about her good day.
Dan & I have talked about this more than I'd like to think about, and we feel strongly that this isn't just about Lana using words like poopy-head. It's about her tendency to follow someone who is making a choice she knows is not right. It's the kindness of God that he's allowed us to see this in Lana at such a young age. We pray hard about this, and talk with her often about pleasing God and not her friends. We really are grateful that we've been allowed to see this in her, and work on discipling this area of her heart.
We spent the weekend in Dallas for Melis' wedding celebration, and Lana is still talking about the hotel, only she calls it a "show and tell."
She was digging for worms with her Daddy before they went fishing a few days ago, and when she pulled up a really big one, she said, "Daddy! Look at this joker - he's so squiqqly!"
Lana's two favorite Bible stories right now are the ones about Eli & Samuel, and Jonah and the big fish. She asks me to tell them to her over and over, even though she knows them herself. We spend most of our driving time in the car this way...me telling her Bible stories and us talking about what God wants us to learn through them. Precious, precious time.
We were at B&N's train table a week or so ago, and there was only one little boy playing there. He was NOT excited about having to share the trains....he kept pushing Lana & snatching them away from her, while his mom sat there and just watched. I kind of hung back & watched, too - I wanted to see how she would respond. We've talked in our family devotions about repaying evil with blessing....what a perfect opportunity to see if she "gets" it. She just kept giving him funny looks as he pushed her around, until finally she was done. He snatched away a train she had picked up, and she looked at him very sternly and said, "You're doing sin!" And then she & I had a talk about forgiveness - how we are to forgive as Christ forgives us....it was interesting to watch the little boy's mom take it all in.
Everything right now is a "family." From my nail polish bottles to leaves in the driveway, there is always a daddy, mommy, big sister, and a baby. Sometimes there's a grandma, too.
She's still such a sensitive little girl! If we just talk to her in a stern, no-nonsense voice, she'll often break down crying, accompanied by her wailing "Don't yell at meeeeeee!" It's so hard not to laugh because it's nowhere close to yelling.
I try to journal about Lana's general daily schedule every once in a while, so I can remember it when Tucker is her age. Here is what her 2 and a half year old routine looks like on a day we are at home. Preschool days are obviously quite different, as are days that Dan works.
7:00-7:30 a.m. Wake up It's a rare treat for her to sleep in until 8:00. We have worked the past few weeks on teaching her a new wake-up routine. It had gotten to the point where she would wake up and start calling for us from her bed. After I spent some time talking with Stephanie, one of my dear friends and mentors, we have re-trained her in this. She doesn't decide when we come get her - WE do. So now when she wakes up, she knows that she can choose to read the books that we place on the end of her bed, lay back down and rest, or sit quietly and wait for us. She does call if she can't wait to pee pee, but we always put her right back in her bed after and wait at least a few minutes before going to get her. We don't want her to start using that as an excuse to get up. Having her wait patiently for us to come to her has made for a much more pleasant wake-up time in the mornings, and after nap, and I think it's setting a good stage for after Tucker comes. There will be times I can't run right in and get her, and she needs to be able to wait well.
8:00-9:00 a.m. Time to play, read books, and eat breakfast. I'm not a big breakfast eater, and usually just prefer a bowl of cereal or toast, but she & Dan LOVE big, home-cooked meals with bacon and fried eggs and grits. Dan & I can usually make this happen on days that we stay home.
9:00-12:00 Playtime, preferably outdoors. This is sometimes when she & Dan will go fishing, or she & I will snuggle in the hammock. If we have errands to run, this is the time frame that we do those in because it's her "best" time. She's just cheerful and loving life.
12:00 Lunch, usually outside. She loves to eat at her little picnic table, and we get so much good talking time in, too!
1:00-1:30 Lay down for nap time. It can take her up to 45 minutes or an hour to wind down and actually go to sleep. She'll lay in her bed and talk and sing and count her toes....it's neat to listen to her, because I'll often hear things that I'm teaching her repeated back during this time. Her brain totally uses this time to process all the new info coming at her.
3:30-4:00 Get up from nap. My rule of thumb is that she must be in her bed for two hours. I really don't care how long she sleeps....I know her body will get what it needs as long as I give her those hours to rest. She generally sleeps about an hour, and
spends the rest of the time talking, singing, and reading.
4:00-6:00 Playtime and dinner preparation. I try to let her help me prep for dinner as much as possible. She'll play outside if we're cooking on the grill. If I'm inside cooking, I have plastic shoeboxes full of fun activities in a closet that I will pull out and let her play with. She doesn't have access to them all the time, so that makes them special! She'll sit at the table, or on the floor in the kitchen with me. I actually prefer to have her in the kitchen. One of my favorite feelings in the world is to be chopping and mixing and cooking while she plays happily at my feet.
6:00-6:30 Dinner time. After dinner, we all help clean up as quickly as we can and then try to take a walk to the lake or around the fields. It's a sweet family time for us.
7:00 Bath time
7:30 Bedtime - we read a book, say prayers, give kisses, and then scoot out so she can do her winding down before finally going to sleep.
My college roommate is like family to us....she's 'Aunt' Melis to Lana, just a huge part of our lives in so many ways.
A few weeks ago, she flew to Costa Rica and got married on the beach to Nick Bunch, a man that I am so pleased to welcome into our "family."
For Memorial Day weekend, they had a celebratory dinner, and Melis & Nick very generously flew us into town so that we could be there for the festivities. They arranged for us to stay at the Great Wolf Lodge just outside of Dallas: www.greatwolf.com/grapevine
You have to check it out! It's an amazing hotel with an indoor waterpark exclusively for its guests. We had the best time you can imagine!!! Lana proved to be a real daredevil, spending only a little time in the "kiddie" area. She much preferred the bigger slides - which, to be honest, I was shocked she was allowed to ride!
We were treated to an amazing dinner on Friday night at the GayLord Texan, and then the celebration was Saturday night at Cowboy Chow. It was really neat...just an intimate gathering of Melissa & Nick's family and closest friends. They shared some of their story with all of us, many of us participated with prepared readings, Dan read Scripture and prayed over them, and then we ate the yummiest dinner you can imagine! Everything was just really tasteful and enjoyable for all of us.
The dinner on Saturday night didn't start until 7:00 p.m., which is 8:00 p.m. on Raleigh time. We weren't sure how Lana was going to handle it, but she really did amazingly well! She ate and played with Melissa's nephew, and enjoyed her first root beer, which I'm sure kept her powered through the night.
We left the restaurant around 9:30, which is remarkably late for my little scheduled girl. And then we promptly ran into the worst traffic jam ever. Seriously, there was a 6 or 7 car pile-up, and they had the interstate completely closed down. And to make matters worse, in our haste to leave and get Lana back to the hotel, we had forgotten to make sure she used the potty before we left. So just as we got enmeshed in this terrible traffic jam, Lana says, "I have to go pee pee. I have to go pee pee BAD!!!" Oh wow. For the next hour and a half that we sat in traffic, she cried off and on telling us how badly she needed to potty. Because we were sitting still, we figured one of us could just hop out and let her pee on the side of the road. No deal. "Noooooooo!" she wailed. "I don't pee pee in grass, I just pee pee in POTTIES!! I need a potty!!!" In our car at home, we carry a portable potty in the back, but there was most definitely not one in this rental car. We were just sure she was going to have an accident in her car seat!
So I climbed in the back with her and held her hand and told her stories and sang songs and tried to keep her mind on anything but pee pee. An hour and a half later, we finally could get off and found a gas station. As soon as she had used the potty, she got back in her car seat and snoozed. We were so relieved she made it!
We seriously got back to the hotel around midnight. She slept until 8:30 this morning, we played at the water park for an hour or so before we showered and headed to the airport for our flight back to Raleigh. She was so tired that she fell asleep on the airplane - something she hasn't done since she was a baby.
We had an amazing weekend - we can't stop talking about how much fun we had!
Her cookin'. Homemade creations like you wouldn't believe: chicken & dumplings, mac & cheese, fried chicken, collard greens and cornbread....just my favorite comfort foods to the MAX!
That she'll tell me the truth as she sees it without holding back - a mixed blessing for sure, but only a good mama will do that! I know that what I see is what I get, and I LOVE that.
She chose life for me, making many sacrifices to raise me. There are no words to describe how grateful I am when I reflect on what my early years must have cost her emotionally, financially, physically, mentally. Who I am today....that I am HERE today...I owe that to her.
How her voice just sounds like HOME to me....called her today to wish her a happy day, and immediately burst into tears when she said "hello." Wherever she is, is just home sweet home.
The way she loves my little girl. She may think I'm a nut case for some of the ways we're raising her, and she may do things that MAKE me a nut case when I'm not around, but I know she loves my little girl to pieces. Something priceless about that.
Her high heels! Anyone who knows my mama, knows what I mean. I just love that it's totally her. I can't try on a pair of heels without thinking of her!
That she taught me to write thank you notes. This is a lost art, and every time I put pen to paper to send someone a handwritten note, I'm thankful that my mama insisted I do this from the time I could write. Good manners are hard to come by, and any that I have are because of her!
That she married my step-dad!! Billy is such a wonderful part of our lives, and I got an amazing sister in the deal, too. We're so fortunate that they chose each other! It all just feels like family when we're together, even the fighting! (wink, wink)
How she's changed over the years, and in that, how she's taught me by example how to forgive, let go, relax....it makes me so proud to see that she's not stuck in who she was yesterday, so I don't have to be, either.
That she's mine! I've come to a point in my life where I realize that it's a compliment when someone tells me that I'm just like my mother. Mama, I am so grateful for all the sacrifices you have made over the years to love me well. You are one of a kind, and I mean that in the best way possible! I love you so very much. Happy Mother's Day!
Her willingness to HELP - she will sacrifice her own time, money, and energy to do things that will benefit her children and grandchildren, not to mention extended family & friends, expecting nothing in return.
That she'll e-mail me even though she would rather talk on the phone
She's just so beautiful, and I see so many of her physical features in my Lana....those pretty eyes, gorgeous cheekbones....I smile every time I catch a glimpse of her in my daughter.
The trips that she makes to come visit us 12 hours a way several times a year....we know they cost her much in terms of time and efficiency at work, but they mean so much! So grateful that she wants to be a part of our world here.
Her curtain-making ability. I mean, seriously, have you checked out the custom draperies in my home that she & my sister-in-law made? Amazing!!!
The packages that come oh-so-regularly for Lana, and that often include a surprise or goody for us! Makes home seem not quite so far away.
The incredible job she did raising my husband. I am married to the kindest, most selfless, hardest working man you know. He is my greatest earthly treasure, and I am reaping the benefits of all the hard work she put in years before I ever knew him. I am so grateful.
The smocked dresses she buys Lana. I know it seems superficial, but it's SUCH a treat for this mama's heart! We would never be able to afford to buy those beautiful outfits on our seminary budget, so every time I put Lana in a smocked dress (always purchased by Nana), I'm so thankful for her good taste, and for how she loves my little girl!
Floating around the pool at the condo in Orange Beach with her might be one of my favorite things in the whole wide world. Sadly, we have gotten to do this very little since we moved to NC, and I miss it like crazy!! Wish I could spend every Saturday there with her.
That she loves me so much that she's stuck with me the past 7 years as we've forged a unique relationship all our very own. We are two very strong, opinionated women, and it's taken work and love and forgiveness and laughter and understanding, but we've come to this place where we both know that we love each other dearly and would do anything for each other. Now THAT'S family. Happy Mother's Day, Mrs. Karon! I love you very much.
Today I am 23 weeks pregnant with Tucker, and I can't believe that this pregnancy is more than halfway over! I LOVE being pregnant....even the yucky parts. Childbirth...well, that's not so much my favorite thing, but we're hopeful this time will be easier.
He is still very low; I'm carrying him very differently than I did Lana. She was high and basically in my ribs the whole time. He is super low, near my hips. Because of how low I'm carrying him, sometimes you can't even tell I'm pregnant, especially when I'm sitting. I can't tell you how many times I've had people express surprise at how far along I am or that I'm even pregnant at all! The OB assured me today that I'm measuring right on target, though. So funny how pregnancies can be so different!
I am not feeling him a lot yet during the day...I usually feel him at night when I get still, but it's not strong enough for Dan or Lana to feel him yet. I was a little concerned about this, as some friends who are also pregnant have mentioned feeling their babies a LOT, but when Dr. Campbell listened to Tucker's heartbeat, he laughed out loud! His response was, "You better be glad you're not feeling him a lot yet, because when you do, you won't sleep again. This little guy is EVERYWHERE!"
I've gained about 12 pounds, and am perfectly healthy in every way. The OBs at my new practice are waiting on all my paperwork and are going to have a round table about my delivery with Lana so everyone is on the same page. They are not alarmed about it at all, but just want everyone to be aware of the situation. They have some interesting theories about why and what happened with Lana, and want to have a game plan about Tucker's delivery. Very reassuring.
Sleeping: Bedtime is still 8:00 p.m., but here lately, it sometimes takes her until 8:30 or 9:00 to fall asleep. She sings, puts her babies to bed, talks about her day, etc. until she drifts off. It kind of bothered me for a while, but then I realized that Dan & I both do things to wind down: I have to read, he likes to watch TV, and evidently Lana has to talk to herself. :) She wakes up sometime between 7:00 and 8:00 in the morning, and takes an afternoon nap that lasts between 1 and 2 hours (although she stays in her bed at least 2 hours).
Eating: We hear all the time what a good eater Lana is. I don’t mean that she always eats a lot in quantity – often she eats like a bird. I think that’s just part of being a toddler. What I mean is that she eats a wide variety of foods: there’s nothing she won’t try and very little she rejects. The only two things I can think of that she really doesn’t like is green olives and tomatoes. It’s really a pleasure to cook for her or to take her out to eat because she just likes so much! Her favorite right now is broccoli, particularly the stalks. She tried boiled crawfish recently, and loves it. We’ve talked some about why we think she’s a good eater, and what we’ll do with Tucker to encourage him to eat well, too. From the time she was a newborn, we included her in family meal time. Whether she was in her bouncy seat, Bumbo, or eventually her high chair, we put her with us at the table and included her in the conversation. When she began to eat solid foods, we gave her whatever we were eating: perhaps pureed or chopped in tiny bites, but seasoned and cooked the same way. We never cook a separate meal for her – she eats what we eat. If she chooses not to, we know she won’t starve: the next meal is just a few hours away! I try to cook healthy, well-balanced meals so that even if there is one thing on her plate she doesn’t like, there are several other good choices. We never force her to eat anything, only insist that she try one bite. If she tries it and doesn’t like it, our response is always something like: “That’s okay. You might change your mind when you’re bigger. Thank you for giving it a try!” We don’t battle food with a two year old. If, for some reason, we see a pattern of her not eating well at mealtime, we immediately evaluate her snacking habits, and will usually eliminate snacks entirely for a while. We don’t want her to graze all day – we want her to eat well at mealtime.
Talking: I love watching her little personality emerge. Some of my favorite things she’s said lately:
*Dan took us to have Dippin’ Dots, and she called them “Polka Dots.” She kept saying, “I love to eat those polka dots!”
*She says “with” instead of “if.” “I’ll hold it with you want me to.” “With you need it, you just tell me.”
*Lana fell & impacted her front two teeth pretty badly, to the point that she couldn’t eat much solid food. Dan went to the store to get her some soft things like yogurt, grits, and soup. When he asked her what kind of soup she wanted, she told him that she wanted “sick soup.” She meant chicken noodle! The first time she had it was when she was sick with a stomach virus. She also calls Gatorade “sick juice.”
*We were all in the living room together, Dan & I were talking about something, and we heard Lana say from across the room, “Excuse me!” When I asked her what she needed, she said, “Oh, I was just saying excuse me to my body! I pooted.”
*We were swimming in the pool, and PawPaw explained the “No Diving” sign to her…you know, the guy diving with a big red circle around him and a line through it….the universal no sign. A few days later, she & Dan were in the restroom at a restaurant, and as she sat on the potty, she said, “No diving, Daddy.” Thinking that she was just remembering the pool, he said, “That’s right, Lana. We can’t dive in the pool at the condo because it’s too shallow.” “No Daddy! No diving in this bathroom!” He couldn’t figure out what she was talking about until she pointed out the no smoking sign on the door of the restroom.
Discipline: As I’ve been reading and praying about this all-consuming time in my life of discipling Lana (and soon, Tucker), the Lord has been using a couple of passages from Proverbs to train my heart about WHY consistency in important in disciplining Lana.
Proverbs 29:17 says, “Discipline your son, and he will give you peace; he will bring delight to your soul.” Who doesn’t want their children to be a source of peace and delight?? And why are there times when I don’t feel that peace and delight? As I reflect on the times when I’m not delighting in Lana, it can often be retraced to a lack of discipline on my part….an area where I have not been consistent in training her. Perhaps I’ve slacked off, maybe I’ve started making excuses for her behavior, but it usually has something to do with an area that I’ve begun to overlook. Thus, she isn’t disciplined well, she is NOT delightful, and I’m not peaceful. Hmm.
After chewing on THAT a while, I took the time to read through those other verses in Proverbs 29, and God REALLY got my attention with this one:
Proverbs 29:15 “The rod of correction imparts wisdom, but a child left to himself disgraces his mother.”
That “left to himself” part really got me. I don’t ever leave Lana alone. Not in the bathtub while I run to answer the phone, not in the car while I dart inside the store, not in the pool while I go to get a drink, nada. Her safety is too important to me. She’s so young, and it’s my job to keep her safe. I’m vigilant about watching over her.
So why would I EVER neglect to discipline her consistently? Why would I leave her alone in her sin?? That’s what it is, I’ve come to realize. When I’m not consistent, I’m leaving her alone in her sin. I’m disgracing myself.
This whole discipline deal, I’m learning, is not for the faint of heart. It’s hard work, and at the end of the day, I’m just so glad I can run back to the Cross for more grace. I can’t do this alone.
Playing: Dan & I regularly sit down and have a “state of the family” talk. This includes talking about Lana’s strengths, and her “weaknesses,” or the areas in which she needs to be discipled. One of the areas that Lana struggles is the ability to play by herself. She’s just high needs in this way. She might play with her babies or puzzles or blocks independently, but she wants to be in the same room with me. She wakes up in the morning asking us to play with her, read to her, just BE with her. I really do love this….she’s my sidekick, and I don’t mind doing everything together. But I do want her to be content to be alone, too. Part of this, I truly believe, is just how the Lord made her. She loves to interact with us and talk, and she just enjoys people. She’s definitely not a loner. But I’m working to develop her ability to be alone. I can’t wait to see how Tucker’s littler personality is similar or different than hers in this area!