Friday, November 11, 2011

Top Ten Messy Z Stories

I once wrote about the most disgusting moment of motherhood to date. Key word is "to date." Little did I know that there were far more disturbing occurrences to come.

10. First poo situation. Z is 18 months. He explores his poopy diaper and has a very sensory experience in his crib. Caught it on video:

9. "Finger" painting with his toes in his vomit at the bottom of his activity center, The Office.

8. Straight-faced shovel full of sand into the face of a little girl who got too loud (What yo name? What yo name? What yo name?) and too close to him. Absolutely no warning on his face. Now knowing about his sensory integration delay, I can see why the girl was literally threatening to him. My first experience of being horrified at my child's behavior. Not knowing what was at work behind it, I just thought he was being really mean.

7. Poo on slide Top of the swirly slide. My friend (thank goodness I wasn't alone) stood guard warning off children while I ran to the car for wipes and plastic bags. Thankfully there was no smear of poop down the slide after, package delivered, Z slid on down. Z's re-enactment later that night: "Done go on da slide! Dare's poo up dare!"

6. Permanent marker on hard wood floor

5. Daily upheaval of room during nap time. For months!

4. On travel. Just off plane. John goes ahead to get the luggage. I stop with kids at bathroom. Z having really bad attitude. I give him a time out in a boarding area that is, thankfully, relatively empty. He is super angry about the time-out and he starts running around the row of chairs. I either have to chase him or just stand my ground and hope he comes back to me. I'm trying my hardest to stay calm. "Z, come here NOW." (In low, I-mean-business mommy voice). Z rounds the corner and stops directly across from me with two rows of chairs in between. He points and screams, "You killed my Faver!' (Yes, he meant Father.) I see a man start to chuckle out of the corner of my eye and I burst into laughter. I laugh so hard I almost cry. Z is so shocked he comes over to me and does his time-out. The kindness of strangers.

3. Z's reaction to a flu shot at the doctor's office. The door opened and he was a caged, injured animal set loose. Screaming (Full-on, cop-calling screams- see number two) and running through the ENTIRE office, back exam rooms, front waiting room, hallway to other businesses. "Get it off! Get it off!" Fifteen minutes of just barely keeping up to make sure he didn't impale himself on something. Harper in stroller, left behind at nurse's station. He almost throws himself into an elevator but a kind stranger blocks his escape path. Don't remember how I got him out of there and to the car.

2. Baby Z at home with Aunt and Uncle. So tired and upset. Can't sleep. Screaming. Lots of screaming. Cops show up.

1. (Re-creation of events, CSI-style) Z goes to the bathroom to pee. He gets distracted with Harper's new potty seat (plastic bottom, soft cushion top). He takes the seat to his bedroom to investigate. Grabs scissors and cuts apart the soft pad. Outer plastic tube, inner cushiony sponge. He cuts it into multiple neat little pieces. He realizes he never went potty and has an accident in his room. He looks around for something to clean it up. Sponges! He soaks up the pee. Nicely absorbent. Hm... the obvious next step? A little sponge painting with urine on the side of Harper's black crib.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Sometimes Things Come Easy

I've been decidedly grumpy for the past few days (a cold doesn't help) and I was sitting here grumbling about various things when I decided I needed to just focus on something positive. Remembering that I haven't blogged in a while, I decided I need to write about a child-rearing event that was simply a gift from God.

Harper is potty-trained.

No gearing up, no printing certificates, no stocking juice and rags and treats. One day John puts her in underwear. And it's a day I go to work, so the babysitter keeps it up. I come home and feel Harper's little underwear-clad bottom. Surprise! She went all day in underwear. No accidents.


I'm one of those moms who has one of those stories. Really? What a gift! What a GIGANTIC contrast to my potty-training experience with Z. (Feel free to read previous potty training angst.) This is nothing short of a beautifully wrapped, perfect gift from God.

So, to be clear, and so you don't hate me too much, Harper has been working up to it for a while. We started doing poops on the potty when she was less than two years old because it was easy to tell when she had to go and it usually helped her to not have a diaper on when she did it. Then, recently she was very picky about her pants feeling wet at all. The diapers had to be immediately changed and then if there was the slightest residual wetness, it had to be changed again. One day we counted 14 diapers changed. So I decided to try pull-ups, thinking at least she could change them herself. True. And then she changed them 16-20 times herself. At one point I actually pulled out the hair dryer to "dry" the pull-up and to dry, um, herself (gentle cool setting from far away, don't worry!).

The morning John put her in underwear was after changing her pull-up four times before 7am. Understandable. So, she was just ready. She liked the feel of the underwear and is generally aware of when she needs to go. She still needs reminders, and she has had some accidents. But it was so much simpler and easy-going than with our first inductee. And that's not to say that it is all based just on the child. My philosophy and approach this time was a lot more easy-going.

For example, I thought a lot more about whether Harper was ready. I talked about potty on the toilet a LONG time before I even considered working on it with her. My standard for being "potty-trained" is different. I didn't focus as much on Harper being able to do it ALL on her own. I believe that independence will come with time and practice and can be gradual. It doesn't have to be all or nothing. I still help her get onto the toilet and wipe. She can pull her pants down and mostly back up, but is slow at it, so it depends on if we are in hurry mode whether she does it or not. I'm okay with reminding her. Mostly I just build it into our routine, so it's a pattern and doesn't feel like I'm nagging.

And, just in general, I have a lot less anxiety about it. I just knew she would get there eventually and didn't want to set any deadlines for it. With Z, I felt like if he wasn't trained it would seem like he was behind. I let social pressure suck me into it a bit. That said, there were a lot more issues at work with Z that we didn't know about at that time. So, a hug of grace to myself and let it go.

So, I'm thankful for milestones and Harper growing up. I'm thankful for learning from mistakes and being able to let go a bit more. I'm thankful for an easy-going, sweet little girl who continues to prove her middle name.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


We had a visit from the local fire department on Monday. I still can't believe it happened. I was taking a nap, Z was watching TV, Harper was sleeping in my bedroom... and I smelled smoke. I jumped up and ran to the laundry room and found smoke coming out of the dryer. I stopped the dryer and emptied it to see if I could see what was going on. I opened the side door (in the laundry) room to get ventilation. The smoke was getting heavier so I ran to get the fire extinguisher and came back to the dryer. By then the smoke was thicker and I picked up the phone on the laundry room wall and called 911. My voice was a choking squeak but I got out my address.
After hanging up I sprayed my fire extinguisher into the dryer but I couldn't tell where the fire was. When I stopped and listened, I could hear the fire. A roaring, crackling fire. Then I looked on the right side of the dryer and saw an orange glow through the crack in the dryer side. That is when I threw my basket of clothes outside (to get it out of the way) and I ran to get the kids. Z was great and put his shoes on right away. I picked up Harper, grabbed my purse and a pair of pants for Z (who was in his underwear). We went out front and sat on the front lawn to wait for the fire truck. I pulled snacks out of my purse and had them start eating and I ran to open the gate to the backyard and move that laundry basket of clothes farther into the backyard to get them further out of the way. At that point I also was thinking through the fact that was roughly one half of John and my regular wardrobe.
The fire truck pulled up... this was probably 10 minutes after I first smelled fire, so they probably only took about 7 minutes max. I showed them where to go and then went to sit with the kids. They had us move across the street and we waited. They all were very nonchalant, and I told Z that that was a good sign. After another 10 or 15 minutes they pulled our dryer out onto the front lawn:

My neighbor came over and gave me a hug. At that point I finally lost it a little and started to cry. I just didn't want to fall apart in front of the kids. My neighbor was SOO hugely helpful just by being there. It made me think of that proverb that a neighbor near by is better than a brother far away. Anyway, there was a bit of a mess, but no damage to the house. Praise God that we were all safe and we didn't lose anything significant. There are so many "what if's" that go through your mind after something like this... what if I wasn't home, what if it was the middle of the night, what if the fire department wasn't as close to us as they are...
I'm sure you're wondering what caused it...
Unbelievable. I didn't clean the lint trap and the exhaust to outside was backed up with lint so not enough air was getting to it. The fireman said to clean out that vent every two months. And clean the lint filter EVERY time. Now I know. And now you know. I'll never make that mistake again. I'll also never run the dryer when I'm away, or even at night.

We spent the rest of the day cleaning up the mess. John had to scrub down the walls and ceiling of the laundry room because of the soot. And there was water and smokey yuck all on our kitchen floor. There is still a faint smell of smoke in the laundry room and at that side of the kitchen, but it didn't go into the bedrooms or living room. I'm just so, so thankful for our safety.

A friend said that I could officially call that a bad day. I told him that I actually felt more like I had won the lottery. :)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Remembering to Name

Just flipped open my Bible to this, Psalm 77:

1 I cried out to God for help;
I cried out to God to hear me.
2 When I was in distress, I sought the Lord;
at night I stretched out untiring hands,
and I would not be comforted.

3 I remembered you, God, and I groaned;
I meditated, and my spirit grew faint.[b]
4 You kept my eyes from closing;
I was too troubled to speak.
5 I thought about the former days,
the years of long ago;
6 I remembered my songs in the night.
My heart meditated and my spirit asked:

7 “Will the Lord reject forever?
Will he never show his favor again?
8 Has his unfailing love vanished forever?
Has his promise failed for all time?
9 Has God forgotten to be merciful?
Has he in anger withheld his compassion?”

10 Then I thought, “To this I will appeal:
the years when the Most High stretched out his right hand.
11 I will remember the deeds of the LORD;
yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.
12 I will consider all your works
and meditate on all your mighty deeds.”

13 Your ways, God, are holy.
What god is as great as our God?
14 You are the God who performs miracles;
you display your power among the peoples.
15 With your mighty arm you redeemed your people,
the descendants of Jacob and Joseph.

The next psalm lists the ways God watched over the Israelites despite their turning away from Him again and again.

This reminds me to remember. To think of all the ways God blesses me. To name the tangible ways He shows His love.
210. The pteredactyl noises of a newborn.
211. The collaboration of two kids building a secret hide-out fort. "Harper, get back to work." "Can I have the blue tape now?" "Yeah, we're really special, because we have special powers in our body."
212. Bean and cheese burrito, no onion, no sauce.
213. Nap time.
214. The witty words of Jane Austen making a long drive enjoyable.
215. A quick but deep conversation with a friend, tears flowing, arms holding.
216. Gently probing the wound and feeling only a slight tenderness. Thank you, God, for healing!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Beautiful Wreck

Seven or so years ago I was in a scary car accident on the 405 freeway. It was raining very hard and my car hydroplaned perpendicularly across five lanes of traffic. Thank God, I was okay and the passenger in the only car I hit was also okay. After the car was pulled out of the bushes and ditch (and was still drive-able), we drove side streets to a gas station near our house to look at the damage and decide where to drop it for repairs. When I saw the damage done to the front of the car I almost collapsed. All the pseudo-calm to handle the emergency dissolved and I sobbed hysterically. Seeing the extent of the accident, I realized how much worse it could have been and I felt intense gratitude that I didn't die.

This past week I felt like I was getting a glimpse at the mangling, ripping emotional and spiritual accident that occurred in my life within the last five years. Grief, post partum depression, young children (one who was extremely challenging), unhappiness in life circumstances, a fruitless church life... they all twisted and turned me, John and our marriage into a gory wreck. In the depths of that dark place, ugliness, sin and anger thrived and marred us even more. We have been walking away from the wreck for more than two years and slowly healing and rebuilding. We have felt God's hand through the love of our friends and new church family helping us to mend and renew. But recent events have turned me around to look again at that wreck I so want to leave behind.

Last weekend John shared our story at a men's retreat for our church. In preparing to talk about accountability, John was led back through those very difficult years and was able to see God's loving hand through it all. At a time when John felt alone, he can now see how God's church and people were there the entire time, like a safety net, keeping John from more sin and pain. John was deeply blessed by this view of God's work in his life and God's protection of him during a very vulnerable time. But for me, this was like looking back at the twisted metal of my car and seeing what might have been. The wounds of the last few years are reopened and I'm hurt again by the animosity and indifference that was in our marriage. I can see more clearly the sin that thrived when we were in that dark place and now I can see how much worse it could have been.

And it hurts.

I've been so tempted to be angry again. At myself. At John. At God. All the same questions come up again. Why me? Why us? Why did this have to happen? How can this be for our good? Does God really love me? Does God really want only good for me?

I turn to One Thousand Gifts again for Ann Voskamp's God-given, life-giving words.
"Surely, just as I have intended so it has happened, and just as I have planned so it will stand." (Is 14:24)
"See that I am God. See that I am in everything. See that I do everything. See that I have never stopped ordering my works, nor ever shall, eternally. See that I lead everything on to the conclusion I ordained for it before time began, by the same power, wisdom and love with which I made it. How can anything be amiss." (Julian of Norwich)
"...I won't shield God from my anguish by claiming He's not involved in the ache of this world and Satan prowls but he's a lion on a leash and the God who governs all can be shouted at when I bruise, and I can cry and I can howl and He embraces the David-hearts who pound hard on His heart with their grief and I can moan deep that He did this -- and He did. I feel Him hold me -- a flailing child tired in Father's arms.... I know all our days are struggle and warfare and that the spirit-to-spirit combat I endlessly wage with Satan is this ferocious thrash for joy. He sneers at all the things that seem to have gone hideously mad in this sin-drunk world, and I gasp to say God is good. The liar defiantly scrawls his graffiti across God's glory and I heave to enjoy God."

This moment of light and sight to John, for me, is a moment of darkness. I too easily turn toward the darkness of lacking, the lie that God is not there. And yet He whispers sweetly that if I had never seen the wreckage I would never have known His protective hand. Never seeing the bottom of that chasm, I would not rightly know my dependence on Him. Without the vision of God's word to properly see the things around us, I will only see the hole, the lack. God's word points me again to His goodness.

"Only the Word is the answer to rightly reading the world, because the Word has nail-scarred hands that cup our face close, wipe away the tears running down, has eyes to look deep into our brimming ached, and whisper, "I know. I know." The passion on the page is a Person, and the lens I wear of the Word is not abstract idea but they eyes of the God-Man who came and knows the pain." AV

And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 1 Peter 5:10

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 5:14-16

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Relief in New Routines

This past week was the start of our new routine for the year. Z started preschool on Wednesday. I started my new job on Thursday. From now on, Z will be in school Monday, Wednesday, Friday. And I'll be working Tuesday, Thursday: two full days which is twice as much as I used to work. As with any new thing, I was nervous about the change and the transition for the kids. With change being especially hard for Z, I was expecting the worst, hoping the best for his adjustment to his new class and teacher.

And, honestly, I'm coming to realize that the change is often harder for me than it is for him! He ran right off to his new class on the first day... and the second day.... And he was calm and happy when I picked him up both days. I had lobbied the school director to have the teacher he has and I'm so thrilled to see him connecting already with her. I think she also was expecting the worst (based on true feedback from Z's last year teacher and from me) and was pleasantly surprised. She called me Friday night and told me that his behavior was so good that he was picked to be the line leader for the whole day. I must have smiled for at least five minutes after the call!

I am just so amazed and grateful for the progress Z has made over the summer in so many ways. He is so much more calm and confident. He is thrilled when he does a good job and I can see how hard he tries to do a good job most of the time. The funny thing about change is how even when it is for the better, I can keep operating in the assumptions of the past. I have to fight against the anxiety and dread that I used to feel every time there was a social interaction of a long outing. Z is proving to me again and again how much he has grown and I just have to learn to trust it. Or, another way of saying it is, God is proving to me over and over how much He loves me through the good and the bad, and I just have to learn to trust Him.

Photo Credit: Sofia

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Gift Number 148

Contagious Laughter

For those catching up, I've been counting gifts from God to stir up the joy in my life. Hope this brings you some joy today.