Lessons from a Lowe's bathroom.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The other morning, as I stood under the steaming shower head, I heard a little voice on the other side of the curtain: "I want to wear big boy underwear today, Mommy. I want to use the potty."

I rinsed the conditioner out of my hair in record time, dried off, and dragged the baby potty out of the corner of the bathroom. Suddenly, Liam walked over to it, pulled off his diaper, and went. My mouth hung wide open in shock.

For months, I had been feeling the pressure of potty training from a host of well-meaning people in my life. I'm sure they never meant to discourage. But when they casually say, "Oh, my son has been potty trained since he was a year old!" it's hardly helpful. Perhaps they ask, "Liam isn't showing any interest at all?" out of genuine concern. But really, it seems more likely that parading their potty training prowess (the earlier the better!) makes them feel a little better about their mothering. Don't be mistaken: I'm guilty of it, too. I take way too much credit for how my kids sleep through the night when, really, I did very little to form their sleep habits.

Aside from those comments, I haven't been concerned for even a second that Liam is three years old and not interested in using the potty. From the vantage point of his biased mother, Liam is incredibly bright, using words like versatile and impressive and bacteria correctly in sentences. But still, potty training has been an uphill battle I haven't had the energy or desire to fight with him. He has very clearly told me, "I would rather wear a diaper today, Mom." So I've stood my ground - for my son and for my sanity - and responded to well-meaning advice givers with, "I just don't think he's ready yet. But I'm sure he'll let me know when he is." As many a wise pediatrician has said, "I've never sent a [developmentally appropriate] child to kindergarten in a diaper."

That first afternoon after we said goodbye to diapers, we felt adventurous (or possibly just a strong case of cabin fever) and headed out on a quick errand to Lowe's. By the time we stood in line with wood in our cart, Liam squeezed his legs together and whispered, "I have to go right now." I left the wood at the counter and raced to the back of the store, which felt like half a mile. By the time we got into the bathroom, it was more than I could juggle trying to hold Lanie in one arm, the diaper bag in the other, and somehow lift Liam up high enough for him to reach.

"But Mommy, I don't know how!" he whimpered.
"Sweetie, you're doing such a good job. Just be patient and relax. It'll come!"
"I don't think I can."
"You can, buddy! You've been doing it all day long. I am so proud!"

After Liam had been successful and we'd finished jumping up and down at his success, a kind-faced woman walked out of the stall next to us. She bent down to Liam's level and looked at him with gentle eyes and said, "You are so lucky to have a mommy that is so patient with you. My mommy wasn't very patient with me and I still have trouble going to the bathroom in public." Tears filled my eyes. The discouragement of the past few months evaporated as her words filled the room. She had no way of knowing what had preceded this momentous day for us, or even that he had just started to use the potty that day. But her words meant everything.

As we left Lowe's, I felt as if I could conquer the world. Liam did, too, with dry Lightning McQueen underwear and a few gummy bears in his hand. It was the sweetest reminder that my words, too, have such deep impact. How am I bending down to the poor in spirit as Jesus did, kindly lifting their heads with my words? How am I looking for opportunities to bless the lady in the next stall whose name I don't even know? The coworker who's having marital issues? The little boy in my own home who's been hearing "no" more often than "yes"? Jesus found me - the discouraged potty-training mom - that day in a musty bathroom at Lowe's. He bent down and gently lifted my head through the kind words of a stranger and reminded me that I'm going to be ok in this crazy mama gig. He's guiding me steadily along.

To my fellow potty training moms: After over a week of no accidents, I'm declaring Liam officially potty trained. He really only had one accident since declaring he was done with diapers, which just goes to show me that he was truly ready. Praise. The. Lord. But this post is in no way meant to discourage the mamas whose little people aren't ready yet or have been struggling with potty training for months. My one piece of advice: don't push it. And don't let others push you into it. When your little guy or girl is ready, he or she will certainly let you know. There's no point to rushing them through childhood or pressuring them to achieve what they just aren't ready for. You can do this, mama!  

One year with Lane Eliette.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Lane Eliette,

One year of you. That's hard to swallow, but at the same time, it's hard to imagine life before you. After your first few difficult months that we thought we'd never survive, you've become our dream baby. Our miracle. Our joy. You sleep for 13 hours at night, nap once or twice a day (depending on what our schedule allows), and are generally always smiling and babbling. When you get sleepy, you lay your head on our shoulder, plop a thumb in your mouth, and say, "Nigh nigh" in your raspy little voice. With your long fingers, your deep blue eyes, your Daddy's olive-toned skin... you've captivated us. You've developed a host of nicknames this past year: Lanie Lou, Lulu, and now Louie. Liam calls you "my girl" or "Lou" most often.

You are petite with one exception: your plump, round belly. You'll eat anything: a scrambled egg, an avocado, a third of my Chipotle bowl. You aren't picky in the least (at least not yet!) and you're always disappointed when the meal is over.

One year ago on this day, your Daddy and I spent a few moments in the morning praying that you'd arrive on January 8, one week before your actual due date. By this time in the afternoon, I was losing faith. I hadn't felt a single contraction all day and thought for sure you'd stay tucked inside until well past your due date. When Liam and I headed to the children's museum that evening, we had no idea you'd make your grand entrance two hours later. Your whirlwind first year has been a little like your whirlwind birth: surprising, exhausting, exhilarating.

Your middle name means "my God has answered," and this year, that has been our theme. God has given Mommy a new job that has been an absolute gift. He's given Daddy new responsibility and new songs. But mostly, He's given us you. What we ever did without you, I'll never know.

We love you so,

Mom (and Dad and Liam)

7 years.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

One year ago, just days before Lanie's birth, I felt depleted. Faced with end-of-the-year business decisions, a mile-long list of sewing orders to ship out, and the discomforts of my final weeks of pregnancy, I was weary. I looked at the stack of bills sitting on one side of the desk and the to-do list on the other and felt consumed.

While staring blankly at the computer screen, a familiar song came through Pandora: I Believe in You and Me by Whitney Houston. If you've read our engagement story, you might remember that this was the song Shawn chose to play when we got engaged on the ice at Rockefeller Center.

Seven years ago, as soon as I'd heard the first piano line of that song on the ice, I had known that very soon, Shawn would drop to one knee and ask me to be his wife. It was the moment I'd been dreaming about for months, and when it happened, tears had filled my eyes. In that moment, I had felt so cherished, so desired, so confidently loved. Even though I was normally very shaky on ice skates, I hadn't faltered once as we skated to the song because I felt so exquisitely free.

Years later, I heard that song come through the computer speakers and tears had again filled my eyes. This time, though, I felt so distant from that girl. Had that really been me? This time, I carried an enormous belly, dark circles under my eyes, and so many questions about what the next few months would hold. Two kids? Hospital bills? Taking maternity leave from the business?

As the song played, Shawn happened to be nearby and reached out to hug me as my tears began to fall. Mascara ran down my face as he held me, reading between the lines of what I was feeling. This time, though, I wanted to feel invisible. I didn't want him to see the baggage I carried - as if he hadn't already known - or the temptation toward hopelessness in my eyes. I wanted him to see the girl he fell in love with.

When I felt brave enough to look into his eyes, though, I knew exactly who he saw: the girl he loved 7 years ago and loved even deeper today, baggage and all. I felt raw, unmasked, but somehow more accepted than ever. I felt a deep sense that in being loved by him, my burdens had somehow been lifted.

Tim Keller, a pastor we really respect, often says that if your marriage is strong, you move out into the world in strength, no matter what else is going on in your life. If your marriage is weak, you move out into the world in weakness, no matter what else is going right in your life. From one side of that experience, I can say that is so true.

Ultimately, though, this isn't a post about how wonderful my husband is. He's amazing, no doubt, but he's still flawed. He sees my weaknesses and doesn't always love me perfectly in spite of them. And trust me: I am no perfect wife. Ultimately, we believe marriage is an earthly reflection of Jesus' great love relationship with us, His bride, and that we will one day be united to Him. We believe that one day, Shawn and I will stand together in heaven in complete wholeness and perfection before God and will look at each other and say, "I always knew you could be this wonderful." We will only have glimpses of that wholeness here on earth. But there, we will stand in awe before our Savior and be made complete: no jealousy, no anger, no lust, no sadness, no pride. Only healed relationships and worship.

Now, though. How does this change our lives now? Far too often, I carry the stress of being a wife and mother and nurse and so on all on my own. I think I can bear the weight of it. I even believe I can hide my flaws from my husband, the world, and the Lord. What I fail to believe in those moments is that God accepts me completely because, when He looks at me, He sees the perfect righteousness of His Son.

We talk about the "gospel" in our house quite a bit. It's probably our favorite word. But what is it? My favorite way to define the gospel is this:
We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope. - Tim Keller

These days, it's easier for me to believe that first part. I have a pretty good grasp on my flaws, and I have an easy time hanging onto them, rehearsing them to myself, beating myself down. But that second part changes everything. As much as I ever hoped or dared to be loved, Christ loves me more. He loves me perfectly.

It's our 7th anniversary today, and I am grateful for a husband who would love nothing more than to point me - and everyone who crosses his path - to Christ. I pray that our marriage today and in 7 years and 57 years from now is a reflection of His lavish love.

So to my Shawn William, who loves me deeply and loves Jesus even more, Happy Anniversary. I will never get over the gift of being yours.

Liam's room.

Friday, December 4, 2015

A disclaimer first: No, this is not always how Liam's room looks. It's usually strewn with cars and random puzzle pieces and maybe even a diaper under the bed.

Now that we have that out of the way, his room is one of my favorite rooms in the entire house and I simply wanted to remember it. It's always changing just a little, just like he is. So much of it has been made by me or by him (the teepee by me, the banner and painting on the wall by him). Oh, and the dresser was mine as a baby. It even has the original shelf liner in the bottom drawer.

The day we walked into our house for the first time, I walked into the sunlit middle bedroom and said, "This has to be his." I knew the giant windows would make it a place we wanted to spend time, and I liked that it was right next door to our room if he needed anything. He has one of the two carpets in our entire house, so we do spend lots of time in his room: reading "three Bibles" every night before bed (Jesus Storybook Bible, Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing, and the Rhyme Bible), putting together dinosaur puzzles, getting both kids' diapers and clothes changed.

Mostly, it's just feels like him: a lot of light with a little wild thrown in.

Christmas cards this year.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

For every Christmas card we've ever sent out, I've designed our own cards in Photoshop. Just the thought of that... even typing that sentence!... stresses me out this year. (Did I really ever have that much time?!) It's something I've loved to do in the past, partly because I enjoy the process, but also because it's been hard to find a pre-made design I love. Here are two of our most recent cards: 
This year, I'm going a different route. With full-time hours at work and a crazy December ahead of us, I'm letting Minted.com do the work. I mean, look at their Christmas cards! I'm not exaggerating when I say I think all of their choices are just exquisite. I love the simplicity and elegance of their designs. Also, one of their features is that they'll address your envelopes to your recipients for free. Yes, please. 

Today, until 12:00pm PST, get 20% off holiday cards and 25% off everything else with code: CM2015. If you haven't decided on a photo yet, you can still purchase them at this price now and fill in the details later.

Here are a few of my (many) favorites: 
Color field foil-pressed holiday cards
Joy and Then Some Christmas photo cards 
Wonders Christmas photo cards
Hallelujah Christmas photo cards

I can't wait to show you which one we choose! After the photo is taken, the cards are chosen, and they're all sent out, of course. Happy card shopping!

This post is in collaboration with Minted.com, whose products and customer service I genuinely love, and the opinions expressed are all my own.
Proudly designed by Mlekoshi playground