Tuesday, April 22, 2008

A Pretty Day in April

I wasn't quite sure what to think yesterday as we drove to the title company to sign all of the paperwork to finish the sale of our house. I found myself spending most of the day in a reflective mood, because the sale of our house symbolized so many things. It would take me way, way too long to write here everything I observed or contemplated, but I thought that I would share a few "quick hitters" from the day.

Something that gets lost in our consumer culture is an understanding of the concepts of stewardship and ownership. In particular, the Christian concept of stewardship of God's resources is often twisted and perverted by capitalistic principles of ownership. This house was never mine; in actuality, it is a physical resource that I had the privilege of managing on God's behalf. In hindsight, I recognize that my responsibility with respect to this house was to maintain and improve it, so that it would be ready for the next person(s) that God wanted to occupy it. When viewed in that light, every time I mowed the lawn, updated the landscaping, or renovated/repaired something in the house, I was actually being a steward, and not an owner. I have a very clear picture of this now that we are renting the house from the buyers. None of my actions will really change over the next 3 months, but they will all be focused towards keeping the home in proper shape for the next occupants. To me, this is a picture of how we should think about our own lives. Our lives are not our own, even though it may look like it. We are stewards of our time, resources, money, and skills, not owners. When we don't use them, or when we misuse them, we do not just harm ourselves, but we defraud those that follow us.

I have to say that I sure felt good being on the "selling" side of the table as opposed to the "buying" side. I had forgotten the sheer weight of what it means to purchase a home. All of the financial responsibilities, coupled with the maintenance that is sure to come, is something we get too used to. From a Christian perspective, we need to be doubly or triply aware of what we are doing when it comes to such a large scale purchase; "ownership" is a two-way street, and a large-scale purchase like a home ends up owning the owner as much as the owner owns the purchase (if not more). This has real implications for our ability to be free to go where God calls us, or to have the energy and time to give to others.

Finally, it was interesting to sit in the same chairs (or at least, the same spot at the table), in the same room, at the same title company, where we signed for our home 5 years ago. A lot of memories came flooding back. This house has been the place where we have celebrated some of the happiest moments of my life: bringing Ian home from the hospital to a house full of grandparents and great grandparents, celebrating Ian's first birthday with a big party on a gorgeous early Spring day, and numerous other dinners and/or parties with family and friends. I also thought about how this house was the site of the most painful loss I've ever known, and how the few moments on Earth that I had with my second son were here.

I could write much more, but I won't...mainly because I need to work on my dissertation.



Saturday, April 05, 2008

the Potty Train

Since Ian is almost two, we're in the full-throws of potty training! It's actually been kind of fun, believe it or not. We've enjoyed watching him become more independent and aware. And while the many trips to the bathroom during the day get kind of tedious sometimes, we recognize that it's all a means to an end -- his eventual complete independence -- and that's a good thing. Here are some pictures of him enjoying his "potty time."

For help with how to go about this venture, we've taken information from our parents, our friends, and some books, and put it all together in our own way. One of the most helpful sources of information has been Jill M. Lekovic's book, Diaper-Free Before Three, the self-described "healthier way to toilet train and help your child out of diapers sooner." She outlines potty-training as a very gradual and natural process. As a pediatrician and a mother of three, she gives some wonderful tips that have helped us a lot in this whole adventure.

One tip we took from my parents, though, was the idea of a sticker chart, which they used on me when I was being potty-trained. While Lekovic doesn't recommend using actual rewards (besides verbal praise) for using the toilet, we kind of got in a rut with Ian where he just wasn't interested anymore. So I drew up this chart with two of his favorite things: a choo-choo and stickers. He really gets a kick out of putting a sticker on the chart after he's produced something in the toilet -- a little sticker for a "pee" and a bigger sticker for a "poo." It's always a big celebration when he's allowed to run bare-bottomed into the kitchen and attach a sticker to the train track. As you can see, in just the first five days, he really did well on his output! Since then, he's already rounded the corner of his choo-choo track and is well on his way to becoming potty trained. Hallelujah!
If anyone else has any ideas or tips you want to share, we're all ears!