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Friday
Jan302015

My Commitment to Blog for One Year (Gulp!)

My Commitment to Blog for One Year (Gulp!)  by April Rowen


Some have been thought brave because they were afraid to run away.  ~Thomas Fuller

I’ve been writing obsessively in the back closet (figuratively, although that's not a bad idea!) After lot's of mulling and writing leaking out with every spare moment, I've decided to write a post twice a week, for one year. Rain or shine, up or down, busy or insanely busy, for better or worse. I’m not tattooing anything on my arm just yet as I've been a little FOAMING-AT-THE-MOUTH WHAT-WAS-I-THINKING busy with two kids three and under and I’m a very blessed, very lucky and quite spoiled mom when I get a shower all by myself once a week. (That odor you smell? Yay, it’s way me. So stop sniffing. And hand me deodorant.)

Buuuuut, I’m crazy like a fox and have way too many blog posts stuck in my head, keeping me awake. Also the kids are now going to bed at the same time! This means I have a little time in the evenings to create. And read. And think. And look at husband and remember the color of his eyes. (Dragon) And watch a movie -- All.The.Way.To.The.End.

!!!!!!!

So here’s to my possibly crazy commitment at publishing twice a week.

When I'll be posting...

Professional bloggers announce when exactly they will be posting -- **Raises perfectly-groomed eyebrow and says in deep, important voice:** "You can expect a post every Monday at exactly 8:05 am SHARP (because I've spent entirely waaaay too much time and money establishing the best time to post. Turns out it's Monday mornings, as you've just arrived at work and are contemplating your terrible job, your life, and the world in general, and are perfectly ripe in desperation to read my stuff and **wolfish grin** BUY my stuff which will temporarily relive you of your miserable status until jealousy of my wonderful self sets in.) and I'll also be posting on Sundays at exactly 10:00 pm (because you're dreading Monday.) I'm special."

I can't even imagine such a wondrous thing and admit failure in even thinking about committing to time frames like that, save for this: I'm randomly posting twice a week as family will always come first! And I'm very excited about the 'random' part. You never know when you'll find a post has been published! I'll also get back into sending out monthly or bi-monthly newsletters of sorts with the latest blog posts, along with a few extras.

Why Blog for One Year...?

The reason I'm pushing myself to do this is because I want  to stay up late every night and be a crab the next morning and go gray early to see for myself if I have what it takes, to be able to sleep again by getting all the rattlings out of my head and in written form, and to get better at this writing thing.

Mostly, I yearn (like, stay awake at night thinking) to see us set free of fear, especially us parents. There's a lot of fear out there; fear of what's expected; fear to perform, behave, and do what everybody else is doing; fear to live up to what our typical church tell us, what our typical doctor tell us (without question!), what our society tells us; fear to comply with what public anything tells us like schools, facebook, politicians... Frankly, there's too much presser, too many unasked questions and weak compliance, too much terror, too many battles, and too much misery in this wonderful era and in this wonderful season of parenting. There's also a lot of laziness.

And that's where this blog comes in.

I write to see the terror we all live in shattered and hearts come alive. Don't you feel kinda dead? We kinda are, as a society. And I'm pretty sure a tiny little blog with the title 'Infant VS Toilet' won't make all of that come true... buuuuut what can I say? A girl can try!

(Maybe I need to change the title again...)

I Promise to NEVER...

I will NEVER EVER, NO NOT EVER! write to hurt you or cause disillusionment, despair, depression or any other awful 'd' word you can think of. (Dentist visit?) There's already too many parent-wars out there and too many perfect articles/books that make us feel we aren't good enough. I'M NOT GOOD ENOUGH, EITHER! I only take this super scary step in publishing words (that never go away once online, gulp!) to share, to encourage, and to create fearlessness. 

My vow is to write simply to share another viewpoint without vendetta, agenda, or expectations for anyone but myself. I would never write to hurt you. If I'm pissed, I'll hold the article and pray before publishing it, if ever (it's surprising how many 'rants' I have saved up, yikes!). If it's post-worthy in causing more good than harm, I'll put a disclaimer on it so you can skip if needed. We are a very sensitive, angry people, and I'm pretty sure it's because most of us are sickly, lonely, afraid and sad. 

So Many Topics, So Little Time...

I'm wrapping up my first little book (e-book for now): Infant VS Toilet! It will be fun, easy and possibly a bit silly (we are talking about squatting infants over buckets, c'mon now.)  Also, I'm busy putting together a Guide to Sleep Training Sanity (or How to Sleep-Train your Dragon?) with purchase of the e-book, and a fun guide called: 'Best Gifts for Every New Mom, Whether She Thinks She Wants Them or Not!' 

And I even hired a graphic designer to help me with techy stuff! How about them apples?! At the very least, it's motivating to finish up long-time projects and get back in the saddle again. And to start lots of new projects, whee! Infant VS Food? VS Sleep?

I'm looking forward to looking back in January 2015. And wow, thanks for still being around! I'm excited to keep learning and growing together in this parenting adventure. If I can't make it in advance, I'll let you know. (I REALLY need to work on that, and this one-year-goal will be perfect practice.) See you soon, where I'm starting with a post titled: (Accidentally) Parenting Out of Anger.

 

PS...Have something you want to ask or have me write about? Or ideas to spruce up this dusty little blog? Shoot it here or write me at april@aprilrowen.com.

PPS... Since I'm starting at the END of January, does this mean I can stop at the beginning of next Jan, hmmm?

PPPS...Have a big, scary goal YOU want to start? 

Tuesday
Jun102014

Clearing the Cobwebs

Clearing the Cobwebs    by April Rowen


HI! I’m so happy to be back! Boy, have I missed you, oh wonderful laptop.

Please forgive my ignorance in thinking I'd blog like normal after Baby #2. I remember writing furiously on the very day during the first part of labor. (Write-nesting, perhaps?) There may have even been whistling. See, I planned to continue writing after Griffin was born without more than a few bumps along the way.

Heehee. Did you just hear the sound of a record being ripped off the turn-table?

God is so good in the way He slowly immerses us parents into the deep end. Thank you Dear, Experienced Mom of more-than-one for not laughing me out of the city with my writing tunnel-vision. You were really nice to just smile and let me continue in my sweet ignorance, which was truly bliss.

9 months later...

Now that I’m getting in the swing of things (maybe? She wonders with crazed hair and blood-shot eyes), I’ve been re-evaluating my smidge of a writing business. And I’m more excited and passionate than ever to continue with InfantVSToilet without changing a thing, other than to keep on, keep on, keep on. I have a lot more content I’d like to add. I have a few more outlines for books (‘Infant VS —’ series, ‘Toddler VS —’ series, ‘Parent VS —’ series…) And I'm eager to (FINALLY!) introduce my first book, Infant VS Toilet, especially now that I have a lot more experience with potty-training a newborn from Day One -- and a boy, at that! All this without ever letting go of the coffee cup that has become a permanent part of my hand.

And there’s So.Much.More to write about than potty training.

The more I wade into parenting, the more I realize how backwards our society approaches parenting and these mysterious, frustrating creatures we call ‘children’. As easy as it is to slap a disposable diaper on the kid, we parent overall in the same way, mostly out of convenience and an effort to make parenting quick and pretty.

Parenting is not easy. Or quick. It's the Most.Inconvenient.Thing.Ever.

So this is a post where I can clear the cobwebs and find my keyboard again. I'm stretching fingers, rebooting brain circuitry (which is really interesting after 9 months of no sleep...lots of dust blowing out my ears) and getting back in the game. I might be a bit rusty as I start back up the engine. Bear with me (is that the right spelling of 'bear'?) Vocabulary has shrunk by half (unless baby-speak counts?) and short-term memory is a thing of the past...hold on...

"December sweetie, please put that down!"

What was I just talking about?

(Blink.)

Well anyways, as toddler would say: "Ready...setty...GO!"

"I will praise you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all the marvelous things you have done. I will be filled with joy because of you. I will sing praises to your name, O Most High."  Psalm 9:1-2

Sunday
Sep082013

Empowered for Greatness

Empowered for Greatness      by Kat Flippin

It’s my privilege to be a guest blogger this week on Infant VS Toilet.  I’m a 31 year old woman with no children yet of my own; however, I have three sisters and six nephews among them. I have this unique and beautiful opportunity to watch and learn about this amazing thing called “parenthood”.  I stand back in awe just wondering how they do it – 

  • the ability to create and bring another human being into this world,
  • the sleepless nights,
  • the extraordinary amount of patience that exudes like a super power, and
  • the juggling act with locating your husband’s socks, dressing your infant, starting laundry, and preparing breakfast while grabbing the phone and keeping your second child from discovering electricity the hard way. 

It’s a brilliant adventure of daily organized chaos, and I can’t wait to experience every little bit of it for myself.

With six nephews, I can’t help but laugh when I think about the challenge that is potty training a 3 year old boy.  Two of my sisters and two of my really good friends have all expressed the exasperation in convincing (bribing) their 3 year olds to use the “big potty”.   It’s amazing to me that these kiddos have no desire to be potty trained despite the pleas from their parents.  They are perfectly content to sit in their mess.  I mean, come’on! They are having way too much fun to stop everything to use the “big potty”.  Must be a boy thing, but with every single one of them, they woke up one morning and decided it was time.  Go figure!

Parenting cannot be structured, scheduled, or planned out as much as we would like it to be.  From what I have witnessed, parenting is a learning curve that is custom tailored to each child one experience at a time.  “Ooops! Guess we’ll try something else next time.” I have gleaned some great pearls of wisdom from the amazing moms in my life:

  1. Cheerios have magical qualities – all powerful snack, craft, toy, building blocks in one.
  2. Nap time is not just for the kids.
  3. Moms develop super powers, like super speed (2.5 minute showers), eyes in the back of their heads, and super-sonic hearing to discern the faintest cry.

I look at my sisters and my best friend who have been pioneers of motherhood in my life.  I am so proud of their strength and courage.  Being responsible for another little human being is a huge undertaking.  These little kiddos watch your every move, listen to your every word, and mimic your every reaction and emotion. Motherhood doesn’t get enough recognition.  So high praise to you moms who press forward and embrace your role of instilling good manners, knowledge of right and wrong, consideration for others, and fostering a safe environment to pursue creativity, dreams, and unfiltered potential. 

I love that I have had this opportunity to take it all in.  My sisters and my best friend have shared everything from favorite baby monitor brands to breast feeding techniques (www.usbreastfeeding.org) to teaching your infant new bed time routines.  I consider myself blessed.  With women like this in my life, I feel like I’ve been empowered for greatness.  The Infant VS Toilet blog will empower you for greatness too.  There are a multitude of moms out there juggling the same organized chaos you experience every day.  You’re not alone.  To quote Winnie the Pooh,

“Promise me you’ll always remember: You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” – Christopher Robin to Pooh

 

Kat and her husband, Flip, own Resonate Coffeehouse, Inc.  They are first time business owners stepping out and making a difference in people's lives. Their coffee costs all go to support children in Honduras suffering from cancer, tumors, cleft palates, malnutrition and more. Read more about them on  Resonatecoffeehouse.wordpress.com or Facebook.com/resonatecoffeehouse

Saturday
Aug312013

After 10 Years of Marriage...

After 10 Years of Marriage...    by April Rowen

"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no records of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres."  1 Cor 13:4-7

Have you ever been loved? -- Super loved? The kind of love that makes you wonder if maybe you aren't such a bad person after all? Love that makes you weep and forgive yourself and makes you want to dance and celebrate -- all at the same time?

I don't have much to say for my small life, but I can say this in perfect joy (and with a heart that has grown three sizes too big): I am adored; I am cherished. 

I've experienced a taste of true love. And it changes everything -- to the very core.

True love doesn't make one strive or grasp or search; rather, it makes one complete, whole, at peace. It doesn't drain and empty; rather it fills up and overflows.

I'm often disappointed with books and movies. I yearn to see a relationship that grows into marriage -- a strong, adventurous, unbroken team of two ready to take on the world. To share, grow and risk together. It drives me bonkers when after seasons of growing a relationship in a TV show, it cools down, or worse, is severed for a time before starting all.over.again.

Ack! We were created for relationships; to be stretching, changing, growing together.  And the relationship between a man and woman is the most exciting, with marriage as the start of it, not the end. And isn't that how most stories end -- in marriage? (Vows are said, nothing more to see. Move along, people.)

Before and After...

That quiet mutual gaze of a trusting husband and wife is like the first moment of rest or refuge from a great weariness or a great danger.  ~George Eliot

Before I was married, I was blessed to have a father grow my self-esteem and wisdom in choosing a good man. It wasn't something joked about or hoped for; it was a very real intention. I was expected to find a good one (Godly and honorable), and I didn't take that lightly. I wasn't pressured from family to find a great spouse, but I was instilled with the importance of it. So I set the bar (realistically) high.

I remember back in my browsing days... I'd be carefully scrutinizing the male pool thinking, "Boy, he looks nice on the outside. But what did I just see there on the inside...? The way he treats his friends makes him ugly." When I met Peter,  he was quite handsome. But the more I got to know him, the more handsome he became because of his deep character and integrity. Love for God and his family radiated from him, becoming his strength, his rock, and boy did I want to be a part of that!

I'm amazed when I think of who I was before marriage: Lonely, uber self-centered, self-conscious, fearful, judging out-of fear, and all with the self-esteem of a doormat. 

Now I'm beautiful, strong, thoughtful, gracious, forgiving. (And still a work in progress!) Of course, time and life-experience alone will cause change. But I know without a shadow-of-doubt most of life's changes could have made me even more anxiety-ridden, more small and fearful, more self-centered. But Peter's love unfurled my fears and saturated through my deepest yuck to help transform me into a lovely, loved woman.

Peter's Example, Based on 1 Corinthians:

  • His patience. I've experienced utter, complete patience no matter how long I make him wait as I grab 'one last thing' before we head out.
  • His kindness. Self-control easily slips with deadlines, crying babies, screaming neighbors, angry bosses, late paychecks. But to be the recipient of constant, undeserved kindness...wow.
  • His gratefulness. He is so thankful for me. Not just in noticing and thanking me for the things I do, but thanking me for my existence. For marrying him and loving him and just being.
  • His humbleness. He's proud and grateful of his decisions, his life, and his family. But he's also aware of other's hurts. I'm reminded to never become entitled and prideful of what we have.
  • His manliness. Deep, quiet strength surrounds Peter. He doesn't need false show-of-strength in using fowl language and being crude and crass. My trust overflows because of this.
  • His thoughtfulness. He's a guy. He can rough and tumble like the rest of them. What I mean here is he serves others (and especially his family) more than he serves himself. He's a gentleman. With a paint ball gun.
  • His giving the benefit-of-the-doubt. He doesn't keep a record of wrongs. I've not once heard him accuse, "Oh yay, well remember when you..?!" He isn't angry or easily provoked.

Peter could have become resentful along the way; he could have given in to anger, unforgiveness, despair. He could have focused on his own thing and withdrawn. He could have excluded, abandoned, surrendered. But he didn't; he set the course, with God pointed True North, and took one careful step at a time. How changing it was for me to cling to his example and leadership, fully trusting in his footsteps. 

I'm not a theologian or a marriage counselor, but this I know: I am the most blessed of woman, for I have a man who shows me true love every day.  Peter's daily example transforms me. It cuts through nasty and exposes my secret innards; all the hurts and cravings and brokenness. His love for me is a safe refuge where I can reboot and transform; where I can become my best self, enabling me to be a better wife, a better mom, a better friend...

Mostly, Peter's love re-directs to God. Over and over and over again. Just when I start to doubt or get a little resentful, my husband's unwavering devotion and faithfulness both to God and family shakes the yucky out and and sets me back on course. (There are days when I think I catch a glimpse of God gazing at me through Peter's eyes...)

It's easy to understand love at first sight, but how do we explain love after two people have been looking at each other for years?  ~Author Unknown

Sunday
Aug252013

Go Ahead... Ask Another One

Go Ahead... Ask Another One       by April Rowen 

Too many questions can frustrate and numb. And we all know asking a bride-to-be or a new mom lots of questions involves a knuckle-sandwich.

I've often wondered why I feel disappointment when answering a question that should give me joy. ("When is your baby due? Is this your first? Do you know what you're having?") 

I don't think I'm the only one who often feels sad and empty after answering questions. 

Perhaps it's because there isn't follow-up regarding one's heart to the question. There isn't challenge. (Pack it up, shows over!) Nothing more is said. Oh sure, maybe another prompt question is asked, or worse -- unsolicited advice given. (Yikes!) But it's not often that I feel I'm truly being known or asked something with my best intentions -- that is, with my heart in mind.

Blast From the Past Questions

I remember evaluating my life based on these questions:

  • "Do you have a boyfriend?" 
  • "When are you (finally) getting your license?"
  • "When are you graduating?"
  • "Are you going to college? What's your major?"
  • "When are you two getting married?"
  • And finally, "When are you having kids?" 

I always thought it would end after kids. I mean, what more could be asked after living happily ever after, other than, "What does your Prince Charming use for aftershave?" 

But I was so wrong. 

Now that I have kids I'm asked questions more than ever. Questions that either numb the senses or put up walls. "Were you hoping for a boy?" ... "Are you planning a natural or hospital birth?" ... "When did your daughter start to teeth?" ... "Why didn't you vaccinate?" ... "What's her weight percentile?" ... "What schooling are you planning?" ... "Do you own or rent?

GAAAAAHHHH!!! It's enough to drive a person to eating a whole tub of ice-cream -- in one setting! And after all these questions, I feel more lonely, more unknown than ever...

Quest Questions

Small-talk and chit-chat has numbed me. I'm not a chit-chatter. I've learned how to chit-chat but it drives me crazy. I would love it (and probably keel over) if you grabbed me by the shoulder, looked deep into my eyes, and shook me awake. If you asked something so deep, so penetrating, so uncomfortable, and so not about your curiosity but about my growth that I couldn't even find an immediate answer. Something where the answer isn't what matters so much as the question.

You know, a question that sends me on a quest. A question that burns. "How do you plan on raising your son into a man and your daughter into a lady?"

I wonder if most of us ache for deeper, meaningful, hairy questions. For questions that spark life and jumpstart the heart a little. For messy questions. For a question that will stop us in our tracks and makes us think. And hope. And yearn. Something that doesn't even have an immediate answer. Something that challenges us on a mission. 

But Questions Are Scary...

Obviously there's a time and place for appropriate (aka non-offensive, barely personal) questions. Or is there?

We talk and talk and never really say anything. Our heart sits there, begging us to speak up, just a little, and ask something of deep, personal importance. To share and mull and stretch and truly speak with the other person. And more than that; to listen.

But it's scary. And it isn't cultural. In fact, asking deep questions is so anti-cultural that we greet one another with a question not meant to be answered: "How ya doing?

I really don't want to offend. Or be sued. Or be considered a hater or sexist or racial or whatever. I also really, really, really want you to like me. Asking you a deep, possibly offensive, most likely super-personal question will paint me as a busy-body or way-too-serious. (Just chill out, man, yeesh.) I don't like being uncomfortable and I REALLY don't like making others uncomfortable. And let's not forget the time issue. It takes time to stop and ask. And actually listen. I'm terrified.

And yet... I ache to ask and be asked meaningful questions. I ache to be known and challenged. Here's a few questions I'd love to process aloud and chew:

  1. How can I be a better wife?
  2. What will be my biggest challenge in raising a son? A daughter?
  3. What are my parenting goals in the rearing of my children?
  4. Will my past wounds and learned habits hurt my present parenting? How do I fully heal?
  5. How am I helping the world
  6. Where do I see myself and my family in five years? Ten? Thirty?

 

A child can ask questions that a wise man cannot answer.  -- Unknown