Sex talk.

Yesterday, I told my three-year-old where babies come from. Like where they really come from.

We sat there on the floor of the playroom piecing together the bricks for a smashing game of Don’t Break the Ice – one of her favorites. She always needs help squeezing in those last few tight-fitting blocks so we can flip the whole thing over and begin tapping away with our little plastic hammers. “Mom, you be the green team and I’ll be the yellow team,” she decides for us, handing me my thin, green hammer.

As we began tapping away, I can’t help but notice my protruding, eight-months-pregnant belly preventing me from having the full range of motion I need to really give this game a go. A growing baby makes it hard to bend in the middle and twist around and sit on the floor for long periods of time. Lucy is very aware of this little baby growing in my belly. She knows she’s soon going to be a big sister again, regularly talking to and hugging her baby sister (my belly) telling her she loves her and placing her ear to my belly exclaiming, “She said she loves me, too!”

Lucy also knows that in a few weeks she and her little brother will need to stay the night at a friends’ house or a friend will be coming to stay at our house (we still haven’t finalized those plans yet) when it’s time for the baby to come – but what happens while mommy and daddy are away at the hospital is a little lost on her other than the fact that she knows a doctor is going to help push the baby out of my belly. The first time I told her a doctor was going to push the baby out of my belly she said with great concern, “But Mommy, that will hurt the baby and the baby will cry!”

Her little three year old mind doesn’t need to understand all the details of childbirth just yet, but there’s something strange to me about her settling on a bit of a half-truth regarding the doctor pushing a baby out of my belly. I mean, if you think about it, where would a baby come out of if it comes straight out of my belly? Does it bust through the side somewhere and make some sort of large, gaping wound that needs to be stitched up? I guess maybe that’s one way to explain a c-section… but pretty disturbing to think about. Personally, I used to think babies came out of the mommy’s belly button and that’s why it had to be all tied up.

So, I sat there for a few moments wondering what to do and decided I should just tell her. “Hey Lucy, you know when the baby gets here, she’s not really going to come out of my tummy – she’s going to come out of my vagina. That’s why there’s a hole there.” To which she replied, “Oh! Like where my pee-pee comes from!” and I explained to her that there’s a place for her pee-pee to come from and another place for babies to come out of. “Okay, Mom.” And back to tapping away at the plastic blocks of ice.

Reading the actual words about this interaction makes me feel a bit queasy. Did I really just tell my three-year-old daughter where babies come from? Did I really use the word “vagina” and correct her when she thought that’s where her “pee-pee” comes from? (Side note: we decided early on to use anatomically correct terminology with our children regarding their “private parts” so this wasn’t the first time she’d heard the word vagina. She’s well aware of the fact that girls have vaginas and boys have penises.) 

This is new territory for me though.

Sex and body parts were not openly spoken of in my house growing up. Any idea of physical affection, even seeing a couple of grown-ups kissing on a TV show like ‘Home Improvement’ was met with awkward kissy sounds from my dad as a way to cover up his own discomfort regarding the subject. My vagina was commonly referred to as my “boom-boom” (be sure you wipe your “boom-boom”) making it extremely awkward when I was the only one giggling uncontrollably the time my first grade teacher read the book ‘Chicka Chicka Boom Boom’ to the entire class.

Not having an open dialogue about sex as a young person with my parents meant that I learned everything I knew about human anatomy and intercourse from conversations on the school bus and giggling at pictures in an Encyclopedia Britannica with one of the boys in my third grade class. My first introduction to sexual intercourse came from a VHS tape we watched in the fifth grade that in a broad stroke explained the mechanics of intercourse while also talking about our changing bodies and how us girls would need to start shaving our legs and wearing deodorant soon. The reality of  learning that babies came out of a woman’s vagina was brought to my attention a year later through another VHS tape we watched at school, which showed the entire process of a woman giving birth. It was all pretty disgusting and disturbing to me at a time where I was mostly concerned with whether we were having chicken nuggets or rectangle pizza for lunch that day.

This introduction to the human body and sexuality led me down a pretty clumsy path of having to discover, on my own, how things actually worked and having to undo a lot of other misconceptions I grew up believing. (Another blog post for another day…)

Becoming a parent has made me think long and hard about how we ought to approach these topics with our own children. My husband and I both agree that it’s good to have an open, running dialogue with our kids about their bodies and sex so they first hear about these things from us – a safe place – and not the weird, convoluted misconceptions they’ll eventually learn from their peers and the world around them. We think that these age-appropriate, ongoing conversations will allow us to help shape a positive view of sex and their own bodies instead of seeing sex as confusing, shameful, or something that shouldn’t be discussed at all.

I don’t know if we’re doing it “right” but I do know we are doing it “different” in hopes that we will be raising children who feel the freedom to talk to us about anything and ask questions when they hear messages that are contradictory to what we’ve taught them to be true.

Parenting and pee-filled car seats.

 

*Grab your own FREE printable at the bottom of the post!

*Grab your own FREE printable at the bottom of the post!

Sometimes kids pee in their car seats. Sometimes kids who are fully potty-trained encounter the terrifying automatic flushers at Target and are scarred so deeply by them that they refuse to pee anywhere but in the safety of the bathroom at home. (Who can blame them?) And therefore, sometimes kids pee in their car seats because they just. can’t. hold. it. any. longer.

My oldest was fully potty trained. We absorbed all of the advice out there and went about potty training her in the way that worked best for her bright, independent personality. We waited for her to show signs of interest in using the potty instead of her diapers, and then encouraged her in her curiosity until she fully decided on her own (with our assistance) that using the potty was something she was ready to and willing to do. She was two and a half at the time.

Fast-forward 6 months. We are out at Target and the urge comes over her. We quickly find the Target bathroom and I help her hoist her little self up onto the giant potty after applying the paper germ-barrier, and before she can finish her business *FLUSH* the automatic flusher goes off and scares the bajingles out of her! As an adult it always freaked me out when an automatic flusher flushes mid-way giving your hiney an awkward little bath, so I can only imagine the terror it would inflict on a child who not only wasn’t expecting that to happen to her, but has never before encountered a toilet that acted on its own volition – flushing at will. I’m pretty certain this is the very thing nightmares are made of.

So, I can’t blame her. I can’t blame her for being afraid of using the toilet outside of the safe, not-flushing-until-you-tell-it-to potty in her very own bathroom. At home.

And I can’t very well discipline fear out of her, spanking her for peeing in her car seat when she didn’t do it on purpose – in obstinate defiance of a command not to. It was an accident. 

But now what? How do we get past this?

I don’t fully know the answer, but I can imagine that it involves a lot of patience and grace and mercy in the coming weeks and months. And a lot of learning on my part as the parent to be the image of Christ to her – to show her mercy in her growing as she navigates something that causes her fear and learns again to trust me when I tell her she doesn’t have to be afraid. This, of course, will all come about through practice. Through experiencing bathrooms other than the “safe” one at home as well as other circumstances that lead her into continuing to trust my word as her mother – someone who loves her and wants the best for her.

The most aggravating bit of all this is that I don’t get to determine the timeline for her. Even though it infuriates me to have a pee-filled car seat again, I don’t want to decide that my frustration over her having accidents is bigger than her fear and needing time and space to learn to trust again.

So, pray with me as I learn to be patient with her. To image Christ to her and continually seek wisdom in how to guide her, because I’m certain that once we overcome this hurdle there will be something new that comes about where she’ll need me to be full of grace and mercy towards her when it would be easier to be “scary mommy” instead.

And I’m finding comfort in knowing that this is a process and fortunately I have Jesus as the ultimate source of grace and mercy coursing through me – I’m not parenting alone.

My gift to you: Free Printable to color your cares away.

Love,
Janine

 

Grace in the growing.

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Well, friends. I present to you a chive. Or maybe it’s a bit of parsley, hard for me to tell at this point especially since it’s very possible I mixed up the labels from the seed packets and because I know virtually nothing about plants…

I have a black thumb. I absolutely cannot keep plants alive, nor have I ever considered growing them from seeds because they’d surely never sprout (due to some sort of mishap or oversight on my end) and if they did I know they’d live a very, very short time. So why even waste the poor seeds?

However. My sweet Lucy is learning about plants at school and I thought maybe it would be fun for us to grow something together at home. I told her I don’t know how to grow things, but that we could learn together if she wanted and she seemed ok with that.

So, eight days ago we bought this little herb kit from Lowe’s, brought it home, and fumbled through the directions, planting our tiny seeds in their little plastic pots. It may be no surprise to you that within minutes of covering the last seeds with soil, Lucy was asking if anything had grown yet… and I had to explain to her that it takes time. It takes time for things to grow. It will probably be several days before we see anything grow. And I had to explain this to her 10, 20, 30 minutes later, and when she got up the next morning and later the following day and the next…

But, eventually she stopped asking.

And last night, when I saw the first little bit of a sprout had popped out of one of our plastic pots, I was truly surprised. Because I realized I’d stopped asking, too – I stopped believing that anything would come of our little project at all even though I KNEW we read the directions carefully and did everything we were supposed to. I’d given up a bit of hope and began doubting the process because I didn’t see immediate growth even though I knew it would take awhile.

And this morning, when I saw that the little sprout had grown taller and began to unfurl, a bit of that hope returned. It made me realize there are SO many times I do the things I know I’m expected or asked to do and give up because I don’t see immediate results. Even things I WANT to do I can have a tendency to give up on when growth is slow going.

I love that God doesn’t work that way. That He designed growth, progress, change to take time. That we aren’t expected to learn a new concept overnight and practice it perfectly from there on out. We aren’t expected to be full of love and joy and peace and patience and goodness and kindness all the time with perfect, beautiful, ripe-for-the-picking fruit at all times.

There’s grace in the process of growing…

There are seasons. And it takes time.

Lucy is singing in her bed right now, as she does most mornings, and I’m looking forward to hearing what that joyful little voice has to say when I show her our first little sprout…

30 day sketch challenge!

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Join the challenge!





Hi friends!

As we embark on a new year, one of my favorite things to do is start out with a fresh sketchbook. Something about closing out an old sketchbook and starting something new excites me about what lies ahead!

As I’m sure come of you can relate, some of ,y biggest struggles as an artist are being inconsistent in practice, not making time to create, not knowing what to create when I open up my sketchbook (fully intimidated by that blank page), and wishing I had community and support with friends creating by my side.

So, to overcome some of my own struggles, and start out 2016 on the right foot, I’ve challenged myself to get in my brand new sketch book every single day in the month of January. I’ve been setting up a series of prompts ahead of time so I can’t say to myself (and my sketchbook) “I don’t know what to draw, so I just won’t do anything today.” and would LOVE it if you’d join me so we can create together and cheer one another on!

Each day at 7am (PST) you’ll receive an email from me with your prompt for the day. Once you’ve completed your drawing, pat yourself on the back, and then post it on Instagram with the rest of the crew under the hashtag #MakeWithMe.

One of the best things about doing this together is the encouragement of community, but also the accountability to continue creating and the joy of practicing. (And even getting better!)

Absolutely no drawing experience is necessary! Just start where you are and challenge yourself to grow.

I hope you’ll jump in and join us!

Love,
Janine

We learned the hard way

that my trigger is when he leaves.

It happens 5 mornings a week, I’m left to care for the kids on my own while he goes to work. And while I view it a privilege to stay home with my children, to spend my days with them, playing, correcting, feeding them. While I see it as a blessing to our family and a righteous call on my life during this season — the trigger remains.

We learned the hard way that anxiety can cripple a person. That it can steal your breath and your mind, cause your heart to race and your days to melt into one after the other impossible to discern one from the next.

We learned the hard way that his leaving is a thin thread that weaves its way deep into a messy pile somewhere inside me, where everything is tangled up in a wadded ball and the more you pull to untangle it, the tighter it winds its way around itself. Where being left wasn’t just a simple act of my husband needing to go to work each day to provide for our family, but rather the painful recall of abandonment I endured years ago now being thrust upon an undeserving source.

And he learned the hard way that getting out the door in the mornings may be a monumental task at times. Because sometimes it means he has to sit down on the floor with me as I’m crying — in the place where I’m desperately trying to pull myself together so he can leave, but I remain stuck in the tornadoed overwhelm of the impending day’s tasks and the emotions of my feeling aloneness.

And he does.

He sits with me. Hand resting on my knee, ready to make eye contact when the tears finally clear my eyes and I can see him again and not just feel his presence. Reassuring me that I’m not in this alone, I don’t have to do it all, I am enough even in my brokenness.

And slowly the thread unravels. Loosens up ever so much, and freedom begins to creep in. I’m able to catch my breath.

I am grateful that God uses people in our lives to draw us to Himself. And I am forever grateful that one person He has chosen to place in my life as a consistent showing of His hands and feet and voice to me is the man who stood at the altar with me five years ago and promised to love me. And he loves me well. In sickness and in health.

So, I say we learned the hard way, but maybe we are simply learning the only way and it just feels hard because this part isn’t easy…

Love,
Janine