Thursday, May 27, 2010


Remembering Olana MacArthur
6/11/84 - 5/27/09
I still remember the day I first heard her voice. I was in our hopeful baby room putting the finishing touches on the paint when the phone rang. We rarely used our home phone, so every time it rang, I felt nervous anticipation. When Matt answered the phone, I could tell it was not the usual sales call. He said he needed to go get me and mouthed "it's about a baby" to me before I got on the other phone. And then I heard her voice for the first time. She was really nervous, but wanted to assure us that this was the choice she both needed and wanted to make for her son. I can still almost feel the shock and excitement and nervousness all wrapped together in that moment.

And I remember going to her last ultrasound before Benjamin was born. She looked beautiful that day, with her belly and that pregnant woman glow. And she was always so bubbly. I remember watching her greet the other pregnant women in the waiting room with excitement because they were there for their babies too. She never knew a stranger. I believe this is where Benjamin gets his outgoing personality.

And I vividly remember sitting at lunch on a Saturday afternoon and getting a call from her telling us that she was getting ready to head to the hospital. We showered and packed bags and left as soon as possible. I remember seeing her in the delivery room and watching her go through contractions. I remember holding her hand and feeling amazed by her strength. I remember how she kept her sense of humor, even through the delivery and I remember her when she saw Benjamin for the very first time. She kept saying over and over how beautiful he was. And indeed she was right.

I remember spending the night with her during her first night home from the hospital, and how she cared so much about him that she breastfed him as long as she could. And I remember the agony in her eyes the day she placed him in my arms and entrusted the roll of mommy to me. To this day, I don't know how she found the strength to make such a loving decision.

I could keep on with the memories and I'm so thankful for that. Open adoption is not always easy, but it's a beautiful thing. I'm thankful that I got to know her, if only a little, so that when I look at Benjamin and see his outgoing personality and his fun and crazy silliness, I know it was from her. And I'm thankful to have seen such a picture of sacrificial love and to be able to share that with Benjamin. He still remembers her and talks about the last time we saw her. We went to a park in Austin and rode the train and played on the playground. I love that he sees pictures from that day and says "you member Olana and the train mommy?" And I always will remember.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


I love it when I get to see something that has God's fingerprints all over it. I feel like God has been teaching me a lot about His love lately and about exhibiting unconditional love to those around me. He's been teaching me that His love is not based on things I do or even on Him doing things for me. If he answers my prayer with a no or a not right now, it doesn't mean he loves me less. So I guess he's been teaching me about trusting His love without having to have a daily visual or emotional feeling of it. So, when He gave me that visual, I think it made me stand even more in awe of Him and His love and protection.

My visual happened yesterday morning. I was up visiting my sister Rachel and her husband Craig while Matt was away at a conference. Monday night we decided to venture out in the rain to do some fun shopping. We spent about an hour and a half at the mall and then went home to put our boys to bed. Tuesday morning we were sitting at breakfast and I was talking to Matt on the phone. He mentioned that our bank had called and that they had said they had a question. My mind immediately went to all those scare stories you hear about people supposedly getting calls from their bank, but it not being their bank at all, so I warned him not to give any personal information (as if my amazing man isn't smart enough to think of this on his own). Matt went on to tell me how it was funny because when he tried to call them back, it was an actual branch. Then I started to panic. I hadn't even used my debit card and we really don't even use that bank anymore. Then it clicked that the area code of the bank he had received the call from was in my sister's town. I frantically went to my purse in search of my debit card, picturing someone having tried to make a large purchase and overdrafting our account. My wallet was gone. Since nothing else was missing from my purse, I figured I must have dropped it, but it's amazing how quickly you forget what all important things are in your wallet. Long story short, after calling one credit card company, I finally got a hold of someone from the bank who informed me that an employee of that bank had found my wallet and brought it to that branch. I nearly cried with relief. And then I thought about all the other scenarios and realized the amazing visual God had just given me of his love and protection. Aside from the obvious protection of our finances, God also protected me from driving half way home without my wallet. I would only have discovered it when I went to get gas and then I would have been stranded. And what are the odds that an employee of the bank we don't even have here in town, but that does have branches where my sister lives would find my wallet and just happen to be able to take it to work where she could find our phone numbers and call us to let us know? Like I said, it has the fingerprints of God all over it. He's so amazing anyway, but I love it when he gives me a visual.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Potty Training 101

Potty training is such a funny thing. I mean, for two and a half years, Benjamin remained perfectly content to do his business in his diaper. Then all of the sudden, we told him  it was time to do something different and expected him to get it within days or at least no more than a couple weeks. The miraculous thing is that withing less than a week and a half, he was mostly there. Kids are amazing!

After we got pretty well settled in here, I decided it was time to do the dreaded potty training. We tried it last summer and he was not ready at all, so we gave it a break. He began showing lots of signs of readiness back in January and February, but since I knew a move was on the horizon, I wasn't about to potty train and then deal with regression after the move, so we waited. I read a book and got advice and it was all great, but the best advice anyone ever gave me was telling me not to worry about using a particular method, but rather to go with what seemed to work for Benjamin. So, being that Benjamin is a major food lover, and being that my mostly health food buying self never has much junk in the house, we made a trip to the store for some fun treats. Benjamin was super excited about his treats and told everyone on the cookie aisle that they were for potty training. We came home with mini oreos, animal crackers, fruit snacks, and gold fish. My first brilliant idea was to let him pick which treat he wanted every time we had a success. I decided to set the timer and he got a treat both for being dry when the timer went off, and for every time he went on the potty. Unfortunately I underestimated the power of the treats and Benjamin managed to go just enough for a treat and then come back to go again 5 minutes later for another treat. He stayed dry for most of the morning, but was tired of it by the afternoon and by the end of the day, he was having lots of accidents and was so hyped up on sugar that it put me in a super bad mood and I felt little hope that we would ever get anywhere. So we gave up for the night and decided to start again the next day.

Day two was mostly the same. He was a mess from all the sugar and I was frustrated and tired. So I called my mom and she suggested only giving him a treat for being dry when the timer went off. So I tried it. And it worked!!! We started with 15 minute intervals and still had some accidents, but I never prompted him to sit on the potty unless the timer had gone off. I explained to him that the way to stay dry was to go on the potty if he had to go. It didn't click right away, but pretty soon, he got it and would go to the potty unprompted. It was amazing! I'm pretty sure it was one of the most tiring weeks of parenting I've had since he was getting up in the middle of the night to eat, but he did it and I'm so proud of him. I have not changed a poopy diaper in more than three weeks and it's awesome!

It's been about 3 1/2 weeks since we began and I think he may actually be having more accidents now than he had right after he got the hang of it. But, I think they are mostly just him playing and forgetting to stop and think about going to the potty. I hear that's normal and I'm trying not to get frustrated by all the extra laundry. I'm just so glad it's mostly behind us. :)

Now for the funnies:

During the second week of potty training I was feeling cooped up in the house and decided to go for a walk. Benjamin of course had to go while I was out and since we were kind of on a wooded trail, I told him it was time to learn about going outside. He LOVED it and kept telling me he had to go again. I told him he needed to wait, but before we got in the car to go home, I decided to let him try again. He got all ready to go and then spotted a puffy white dandelion and moved over to aim at it. I mean is he a boy or what?!!

Getting Benjamin to go poop on the potty was challenging and took several days (which from what I hear is not bad at all). Now that he's finally figured it out, poop has become a common word in our home. He can be heard ending his prayers with the word, analyzing his accomplishment in the toilet and telling me what's there, or telling me about the baby snakes in the toilet. Again, all boy!

And I'm not sure how funny this is, but when I first began thinking about potty training, I was very set against using pull-ups. I was pretty convinced they were a waste of money and would make Benjamin just think he was in a diaper. But, before we started up with the potty training, I decided to buy some just for times when I was dropping him off with other people like at church or the Y. My sister had given me a coupon, so I felt pretty good about it. We got home with them and I never thought much about them again since we used underwear for the at home training. It wasn't until the end of the first week that I decided to venture out to the Y with him and wanted to put him in a pull-up. They were nowhere to be found. I searched everywhere and finally determined that I must have left them at the store. I was frustrated about having spent that much money and then wasting it, but determined to get to the Y, so I took him in underwear. He stayed dry! Now here's the funny part. 3 weeks after starting the potty training, I was moving some stuff around on the shelf of his closet and what do you think I found? haha! I guess my theory that they were unnecessary was correct. However, we will definitely be using them for trips and they came in very handy this past weekend when I traveled to visit a friend. :)