Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Happy First Birthday, Kendall

Kendall. My little Kendi girl.

I just put you down a baby and tomorrow you will wake up as a one year old. They whoever they are always say the years get shorter with the second child but I never thought it could be. It feels like just yesterday I was worried about how we would handle you as an addition this family. And with a snap of my fingers you were born. And now with a blink of my eye you are one. I had no idea what a joy you would be.
You were so much like your sister and so different. I don't know why I thought you would be the same baby, but I did. I mean, you do some of the same things- you both were super physical super early, crawling and walking way before it seemed your little body could handle it. And y'all both have an undeniable fire burning inside you which I have to say, I think you got from me and I totally love. But you're your own little person and seeing your personality grow over the last year has been such a joy.
And personality is not something you lack, my dear. You are so teeny tiny (still in size 9 month clothing) but man are you a little pistol. You are SO fun and crazy mischievous. You have a sense of humor which is so weird in a baby. You love to clap and the smallest things make you happy. You are SUCH a joyful baby and always look to us to share the joy with you. You are so snuggly and definitely a mamas girl for now. You are intense- when you're being loving and when you're not. You are kind of a little snap job. You have this fierce little yell.. well, its more like a screech. And its simultaneously adorable, ear piercing and mind numbing. You use it to get everyone's attention. You LOVE to eat and have a super grown up palette. You can say "mama" your first word, score!, "dada", "all done", "please" and, your most favorite word "Reese."
Man, do you love your sister. Watching the bond between you two seriously makes me happier than anything else in this world. Your father and I were on our knees with the Lord about this more than anything else before you were born and we are so grateful to see your sisterly love. You always want to be near her. And she is always holding on to and hugging you which you do NOT always want. But, man, the way you look at her. You are starting to hold your own with her, not letting her push you around and starting to stand your ground with her a little more. Not in a mean or fighting way, just in a I'm-my-own-person way. You two are always smiling and laughing together. I wasn't sure what you would be like before- Reese is so strong willed and I wondered how you'd be able to deal with that. But I know now that you're mostly going to be able to hold your own in this world and that no matter what, you and Reese will be there for each other.
Your scrunchy little smile kills me. It is the most adorable thing. Paired with your tiny bottom teeth… I can barely stand it. When I was pregnant I prayed that you would be a joyful child and you totally are. Tonight as I nursed you and put you to sleep I prayed the same prayer I prayed on Reese's first birthday.

Lord, bless her mind. Let her be strong willed and compassionate. Let her stand strong in her convictions. Give her wisdom and discernment. Bless her eyes that she may see the good in people but not be naive to the realities of this world. Bless her heart that she may love indiscriminately... but protect her heart from pain. Bless her lips that her words may be kind always and never say hurtful or untrue things. Let her speak and sing of the glory found in you. Bless her hands that she may work, play an instrument, create, praise, and one day hold a child of her own and know a love like this. Bless her legs that she may run, jump, play sports. Give her feet that ache to explore but always direct her path. Bless her with a long life full of joy and love for you.

My sweet little Kendall, I love you so dearly. Happy First Birthday, baby. We love you so much and are thankful for every single moment with you.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Your Story Matters… or Does It?

If I could, I would've titled this "Your  Only His Story Matters". This post has been brewing in my heart lately and I've talked to other women about it- bloggers and non bloggers. I've looked to scripture for the answer. And I've prayed about it. I keep thinking about the "Your Story Matters" thing that has been going around the blogging world since… well, since I started blogging.  It is usually specifically directed at Christian bloggers; those of us using our influence to spread the gospel and truth. Which, side note.. I totally believe in (obviously) But there's this new trend I've been seeing online lately. Its the combination of the selfie and the your story matters and the gospel...and honestly it makes me feel a little weird. 

It is the cry of our generation, isn't it? YOUR STORY MATTERS! At any given time I can scroll through my newsfeed on any platform and see some "selfie" or a "halfie" or random "cozy little corner" us and our buzzwords, huh? of a woman's house with some inspirational post below it, written entirely in christianese, that has absolutely nothing to do with the picture and honestly does nothing to further the kingdom. But we all do it and we all like and retweet them because YOUR STORY MATTERS. And I sit here and truthfully I participate and all I can think is NO.

Does your story really matter?  No. It doesn't. 
Halfies can get real awkward, real quick
Now, I know God knows us intimately as individuals. He loves us for sure. And He wants us to be in community with one another but does our story really matter? I think no. Only HIS story matters. When we post these pictures or write out our story or "inspire" other women are we really glorifying the Lord or are we glorifying ourselves.. in selfies with scripture quotes that are nothing more than idolized images of our self and have little to do with the actual gospel? 

We are all putting so much emphasis on our part in His story when in reality, He doesn't need us for His story at all.  You are valuable to Him and you are known to him, but you being known to the world isn't. Let's look at the absolute hands down most important person in the world: Jesus. Fully God and fully man. God's only son with whom He was well pleased. The one who bore the sins of the world on the cross and died for us so that we may have eternal life. The sacrificial lamb. Did HIS story matter? Only as it related to the Father and his kingdom work it felt a little heretical to just say NO there.. but, no, his story didn't matter. How do I know this? Because we don't know Jesus' story. We read his birth, then jump to one day in his life at age 12, then nothing until he is baptized at age 30.

If we don't hear all the details of Jesus' story, who am I to think that all the details of my story matter?

Ouch, right? I know. Stay with me here. We want to be an influence for God, right? I know I do. But what we want is for the whole of our lives to inspire others for HIS glory. "So that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven" Matthew 5:16  So what do we do? Actually point to Him, not point to ourselves pointing to Him.

This weekend I was listening to my friend Ali's husband preach and I was furiously taking notes so I'm not sure how much of this next part is what I was thinking or what he was saying Nicolai please still be my friend if I straight up plagiarize you. He was talking about John the baptist who came here to prepare the way for Christ. We were in John 3:25-30 where John's disciples are seeing people leaving and they really don't want to lose the opportunity to influence for The Lord but John isn't bothered because John isn't Christ. He uses gospel mathematics: in order for Jesus to increase my being known must decrease. He must be made prominent and I must disappear. The verse at the end about the friend of the bridegroom? Well.. google it because its kinda inappropriate but basically the friend of the bridegroom is like the best man. And everything that happens before the wedding and after as this verse is discussing has nothing to do with the friend of the bridegroom. But it is his actual joy to stand unknown for the good of the bridegroom. If nobody remembers the bridegrooms name, that's a problem. If no one remembers the friends name... Eh.. it doesn't matter. 

And so it is with us and Jesus. If no one remembers you but they remember Jesus, you can count it all as joy. 

Can you use parts of your story to glorify the Lord? Obviously. Can you reach out via your voice online or your actual voice and use parts of your story to tell people the good news?  Of course. Does God know and love you and see fully your whole story? Truly. But does your story matter? Nope.  It's like what we say in The Influence Network all the time- there are no rockstars among us. The sweat may be ours but the Glory is all His.  Maybe God is using pieces of your story for His glory, but I assure you His story is all that matters. 

Friday, April 11, 2014

How To Get Your Baby To Sleep Through The Night

Y'all know that Kendall and Reese weren't sleeping and I was pretty much at my breaking point. I tried to let Kendall cry but with my husband's job I knew just couldn't let the girls scream all night, plus Reese was waking up, so the cry it out thing was short lived. But y'all… as of this week both my girls are sleeping through the night!  And this isn't on accident, this was an intentional thing I did by following my own advice… with the encouragement of my friends. And this is how you can get your baby to sleep through the night by correcting your sleep training mistakes.

For some reason, this time around,  I didn't remember that in order to teach Kendall to sleep I would need to stick it out for a few days. Sometimes, when you're there in the thick of it, you can't see past that evening. And the nights were so hard, y'all. There wasn't even reprieve at bedtime. I knew for sure Kendall would wake up at 10:30pm for her nighttime feeding and then pretty much every 2-3 hours for the rest of the night. It was exhausting. I was tired y'all. Like, beyond tired. Like post-ridiculously-horrible-pictures-on-the-internet tired.

And I did it to myself. From the very beginning I hadn't taught Kendi to self soothe. Right before bed, I nursed her and put her to bed alllllmost asleep instead of awake. Everytime she cried, I'd picked her up and nursed her. It was at the point that only I could calm her down at night- she wouldn't be calm with even my husband which is CRAZYTOWN. This was our nighttime routine with the girls:

  • Bath time for both girls started at between 7:00-7:15pm. 
  • Lotion and pajamas
  • Storytime- we read one fun book and one bible story
  • Song- Reese loves to sing so we sing one song (sometimes a bunch of times) 
  • Bedtime prayers
  • Lights out, sound machine one, ballerina music for Reese. 
  • Nursed Kendall and put her down awake
Both girls went right to bed because this has ALWAYS been their bedtime routine, so they know what to expect. But I had also accidentally perpetuated another nighttime routine:

  • Kendall wakes up at 10:30, I go in and nurse her. 
  • She wakes up between 1-2, I go in beg her to sleep as she screams at me and then finally break down and nurse her lying down. 
  • She wakes up at 4am and I cry and curse under my breath and go in and nurse her
And we did this every night for basically the entire last year. I had to keep the girls in different rooms so Kendall is still in the guest room in a pack-n-play. Crazy. Like, really crazy. But last weekend the hubby went camping in one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen (via pictures) and I, through the encouragement of some awesome friends, put my mind to sleep training. He left on a Thursday and my hope was that by the time he got back on Sunday the girls would sleep through the night.

Now, before you anti-cry-it-out-ers get all hot and bothered, let me say two things. Firstly, Kendall is eating food, a full dinner, and is not nursing out of hunger at night. She would nurse out of habit and out of comfort and, not that thats a bad thing, but it wasn't necessary 4 times a night at her age. If you are trying this method and your baby is not yet eating solids and so is nursing out of hunger, obviously nurse your baby. (My personal suggestion would be to nurse your baby right before bed and then nurse your baby again right before you go to bed (between 10-11) . After about 4 months if not earlier they shouldn't need to be nursing all night long) Secondly, I do not in any way believe the cry it out method causes children to lose trust in parents or feel neglected or abandoned or unloved. My girls are loved on and played with all day long. We kiss and cuddle them and do everything we can to make sure they know they are loved and feel secure. And before we put them down, we give them all the cues it is bedtime, we put them to sleep with a book, a song, a prayer, their sound machine and their special dolls. We put them down awake so they know where they are and they wake up in the same place. They can trust us and know they are loved even if we don't come in to their room every 2 hours all night because duh.

Day 1: Kendall woke up at 10:30 like she always does. I went in after 5 mins and picked her up, gave her her pacifier instead of nursing her, and held her until she was calm and content. I had set a precedent for her to expect me to come in and I wasn't trying to scare her. I told her she was ok and she needed to sleep in her bed. And then I put her in her room. She started screaming crying when she realized I wasn't going to nurse her to sleep and I went into my room, turned off the sound on the monitor because there was no not hearing her and let her scream. I ended up going into her room one other time but total she screamed for an hour and a half. The whole time she was screaming I was reminding myself no baby ever died of crying, that she was safe and that it was better for her and for everyone if she slept, and praying. Reese woke up somewhere around the end of the first hour and I let her come into my bed to sleep. I knew that if I could get Kendall sleeping, Reese would be no problem and probably wouldn't wake up anymore. After that first hour and a half she didn't wake up for the rest of the night. This was crazy progress because she had never ever ever only woken up once ever in her life. 

Day 2: Kendall didn't wake up until 11:30. I didn't go in there until about 30 mins in, which was as long as I could stand. After I comforted her and put her down she screamed for about 15 more minutes (Reese came in to my bed again) and then everyone slept for the rest of the night. This was, again progress and showed me we were on the right track. 

Day 3: Kendall again didn't wake up until midnight, cried for about 45 minutes, Reese came into my bed, but I never went in to check on Kendall. She eventually put herself to sleep. Time wise, this wasn't a win BUT it was the first time in her life I had ever not go in to her room and she slept. insert emoji praise hands here

Day 4: The Husband came home after bedtime so when Kendall started crying around midnight he went in to comfort her because he missed her. This was the worst thing we could've done. She was hysterical and panicky when he left to the point that even when I went in to comfort her, she didn't stop crying. I nursed her to sleep that night and Reese ended up in our bed. womp womp. 

Day 5: Kendall woke up at night between 12 and 1am, but we didn't go in. She cried for about 20 minutes. Reese came into our room.

Day 6: Kendall again woke up at night between 12 and 1am, but we didn't go in. Her cries were as short lived as they were angry. Reese didn't wake up.

Day 7: Oh, glorious day 7. If I could've, I would've titled this blog post "On The Seventh Day She Rested" is that blasphemous? Nobody in the house woke up, not once, not ever, for the first time in 21 months!! thanks to those pesky nighttime pregnancy potty trips Y'all, praise God, my friends who encouraged me, and our friend Don who took my husband camping. 

Since then, Kendall has yet to wake up at night. BUT IF SHE DID, I would let her cry. I have to say that both girls have been so much better behaved during the day. They are sweeter than usual and are far less emotional and the same is true for me. Everyone was so affected by the lack of sleep to the point that we were all just the grumpiest grumps who ever grumped. 

If this is true for your family, my best advice to you is to sleep train your baby. Most commonly it takes 3 days, for us it took a week, but it might take a little longer (although I doubt much longer than 7 days). If you want, you should ask your doctor if your baby still isn't sleeping and hear their best advice for you. The best encouragement I can give you is 1. To do it 2. To stick to it 3. If you falter a little, its ok 

Let's encourage each other- how is your baby sleeping? Do you have any tips and tricks? 

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