Monkey See, Monkey Doo-Doo

When I saw my daughter on all fours lapping up water out of the dog’s bowl, I learned she was more akin to her furry friend Scout than I had previously thought.  In fact, since becoming a parent three-and-a-half years ago, I’m finding that my kids and my dog could be blood relatives.  Yes, that’s right; I said my kids and my dog are almost siblings.  Before you judge, ask yourself this question:  Has your daughter ever pooped in your shoe?  Well, mine has, so I count myself qualified to make the above comparison.

Further demonstrating her relation to the canine family, my daughter has a strange draw to the actual toilet bowl.  I’ve never seen her drink out of the commode (yet), but the pride I felt for her going pee-pee in the potty quickly turned to disgust when I saw her scrubbing her hands with liquid soap in the toilet.  Surely I didn’t teach her that habit!

I have also found out that my son is part monkey.  Aside from his affection for bananas, this child’s “terrible twos” included creating Picasso-like arrangements with his feces during nap time.  Never have I feared laying him down to sleep as much as I did during his feces throwing phase!

My children don’t just take after animals with their bathroom cycles (although potty-training and house-breaking a dog is one in the same); the comparison runs even deeper.  If I don’t know what day of the week it is, I can always figure out when Monday comes around by the frantic sound of feet/paws hitting the floor and bodies slamming into the faux-wood blinds at a chance to see the garbage man.  The primal sounds of barking and shouting at this poor man doing his job bounce off the walls in my home.  Similarly, the garage door signals a Pavlov-like reaction in the kids and Scout as all run to the door in anticipation of Daddy’s arrival.

They all like to show their affection by licking, as our new baby can to attest to that fact (yes, my children LICK their sister’s face), and if they’ve done something wrong, I know to check their favorite hiding places under the bed and dining room table.  They eat food off of the floor (people food and dog food), and they like to destroy books by ripping out all of the pages.  They will run full speed and jump on a person if they’re excited, and they all like to try to attack the vacuum cleaner while screaming with delight or barking in fury.  With so much in common, I’m surprised my dog doesn’t like the kids more!

Growing up, I heard the wise advice many times that one should get a dog before having a child.  Until now, I didn’t realize what  a sage piece of advice that is.  However, having a kid is much better–their breath doesn’t stink nearly as bad, and when they learn to speak, it’s cute and not weird.  And when it comes to the place in my heart that my kids hold versus my dog, well…there’s no comparison.

DSC_5185

DSC_4920_2

DSC_4781

Embracing Inconvenience

I left church today, and I knew I needed to write when I got home.  God had convicted me, and there was a course of action I wanted to take.  If I recorded my thoughts and my plan of action, then I was more likely to follow through instead of having a fleeting idea.  Now that the kids are all in bed, and Matt is asleep beside me, I can begin on this journey to inconvenience….

For a couple of years now, I have struggled with wanting to go to church.  I want to attend and participate in church–it’s the actual going that’s the struggle.  Matt is the leader of our church’s tech team, which means he arrives at church every Sunday somewhere between 6:30 and 7 a.m. and, as of late, does not come home until around 2 p.m.  Therefore, I have the sole responsibility of getting our three children three and under clothed and fed and packed in our minivan for the drive to church.  Satan works very hard on Sundays, and I normally feel very angry by the time I’ve gotten to church after rushing around getting everyone ready by myself.

I used to attend the 9 a.m. service, but after Chloe was born, I didn’t think I could make it that early, anymore.  Also, my sister and her husband began attending church at 10:45, so I switched services so that we could all attend together, even though I preferred going to the first service.  Having my sister to sit next to helped quell the frustration I felt every Sunday that I sat by myself as my husband worked in the sound booth.  I don’t think we’ve sat together in the actual congregation from start to finish of a church service in two and a half years.  For me, church has been a lonely and disappointing experience, and every Saturday night, the tension would start to build.  I knew the morning chaos that would ensue the following day and how I would feel when I actually got to church.  And Matt knew it, too.

I made sure on many occasions to let him know that I was unhappy with the time he spent volunteering at church.  He already got home late from work; why did I need to give up Wednesdays, some Saturdays, and half of Sunday to the church?  Where did the kids and I fit into this picture?

Today I got my answer.  Our pastor began a series on inconvenience–allowing ourselves to enter into inconvenient situations for the greater good.  To have great success in marriage, faith, work, etc., we have to allow ourselves to be inconvenienced; nothing worth having comes easy.

I had already been mulling this idea over in my mind as our pastor had previously asked for some people in the congregation to attend the 12:30 p.m. service so that visitors could have plenty of seats during the earlier services.  12:30 would be the most inconvenient time for me to attend.  While I would have more time to get the kids ready for church, getting them lunch before church would be difficult but necessary so that they could immediately take naps when they got home.  They would be cranky since church would get out after nap time normally begins.  And we’d probably still arrive late to church, anyway.  People with kids know that the time doesn’t matter; it’s the fact that kids are involved that makes all the difference! And when we finally got home from church, half the day would be over.  Even with all my reasons for never wanting to attend the 12:30 service, I felt a pull to start attending, and now I know why.

God showed me the big picture today.  Going to church at whatever time I attend, whether with my husband by my side or not, is not about me.  It’s about Him.  I go to worship Him, and Matt serves to worship Him.  If I constantly drop negative comments to Matt about the time he spends away from me, he’s not going to want to spend more time with me.  If anything, he’ll find another ministry at church!  I am so blessed to have a husband that wants to serve the Lord and not an addiction at a bar or an internet site, and I need to remember that fact.  If this ministry is how Matt feels called to serve God, then I need to allow myself the inconvenience of coming to church without his help.

That is not to say that I don’t think Matt and I can strike a happy balance between our two situations, but he knows how I feel.  I have to trust that he is doing the best he can to recruit other volunteers so that we can attend church together once in a while.  In the meantime, I have to let him take responsibility for this issue without my commentary…

…and I have to attend the 12:30 service.  Allowing someone who has never enjoyed church the chance to sit and hear the Gospel instead of possibly standing in the back is worth my attending a more inconvenient service time.  I, also, have a responsibility to make Sundays the best day of the week for my children.  Going to church is supposed to be a joyful, stress-free time, so we are going to relax starting next Sunday.  We will sleep late (is that possible with a three-month old?), go downstairs in our pajamas, and enjoy a huge brunch.  Pancakes, eggs, and bacon will become a regular part of our Sunday routine.  We’ll go to church full and happy (and probably late).  And after church, the kids will fall asleep in the van and stay asleep as we transition them to their beds…

…ahem.  Okay, now I’m dreaming, but so what?  Cranky kids will be a minor inconvenience for the greater good.

This blog might not be my most entertaining or well-written, but I had to write it.  By writing, I’ve committed myself to doing.  Feel free to ask me next Sunday about brunch and my new attitude, and if you are interested in hearing more about inconvenience, check out www.12stone.com.  Podcasts of the sermons are available.

Where There’s a Will…

As I struggled through another day of training my daughter to use the potty, I strained my eyes to see the light at the end of the tunnel.  After all, success couldn’t be that far away.  Hannah Grace did try to make her baby doll use the potty….

Even in the midst of the sea of urine and mounds of feces that have accumulated on my carpet, there are many humorous events that go along with potty training.  Hannah Grace caused me to chuckle as her doll went pee-pee, and I was reminded of another event from six months earlier that kept me laughing for days.  Prior to starting my blog, this post was published on my facebook profile:

From February 24, 2009

I should’ve known from my morning that today was going to be off. My car wouldn’t start, and of course, today was my day to work in the playroom at the gym. Thanks to my husband’s help, I arrived with the kids in tow only 25 minutes late, but apparently the excitement for the day had just started….

The playroom was crazy, and at one point in the day I was holding a cranky baby, ushering four kids out the door to their respective mommies with another worker, while the third staff member was tending to the other 30 kids in the playroom. All of a sudden, my co-worker Stephanie exclaimed, “Jennifer, Caleb’s peeing in a cup!” Of all of the words to follow “Jennifer,” I was not expecting those five.

I had no idea what she was talking about or why Caleb would pull this stunt, but I quicky handed her the baby and ran to the bathroom while a few horrified mothers looked on the scene. Sure enough, Caleb’s pants were down around his ankles, and he had his penis stuffed in a sparkly Cinderella cup from one of the toy dish sets.

Now, let me back up. In Caleb’s defense, the door to the bathroom was locked. We had a lock installed on the outside to keep little kids like Caleb from going in the bathroom and playing in the toilet. Now why Caleb didn’t get one of us to unlock the door…well, if he did that, he wouldn’t have the opportunity to pee in a sparkly cup, would he?

I quickly ushered Caleb in the bathroom, not quite sure if pee was actually in the cup, yet, or if Caleb was just working up the nerve. “You can’t pee in a cup, Caleb! Use the potty,” I frantically tried to reason with him. He was holding that cup with a death grip as he made his way to the stool in front of the potty. I looked down, and the damage had been done. Caleb took the cup, and threw his pee into the potty. I have to give it to the kid–he didn’t spill one drop.

Caleb looked up at me with pride in his eyes. “I poured my pee in the potty. That was funny,” he smiled.

Once again, I stressed that we don’t pee in cups and threw the sparkly Cinderella cup in the trashcan as we headed back to the crowd of kids. As Caleb walked away, I couldn’t help but think he was pretty smart. I mean, he could’ve peed on the floor.

True to form my almost three year-old taught me a lesson: “Where there’s a will, there’s a way!” Or if that moral doesn’t work for you, how about “There’s never a reason to pee in your pants if a cup’s nearby.”