“I Wike to Sing”

I heard Ivan singing as he marched up the stairs to get dressed this morning.

“Jesus woves me this I know, for the Bible tewws me so…

Next time won’t you sing with me…YAY! I wike to sing.”

I don’t think I’ve ever heard him voluntarily burst into song like that, so I was so thrilled to hear him singing Jesus Loves Me. Only to be equally humored as he completely switched to the ending of the alphabet song. Oh well. At least he’s happy.


Owen said it first but Ivan picked it up and ran with it. When he tries to emphasize how large something is he will call it “Hunormous!”

Huge and enormous are just not enough on their own I guess.

Ivan is completely convinced of his successes in life. He does not turn back. Since turning the corner with potty-training he has enforced his achievement by insisting that he does not need any help in this area. He is rather put off when I insist on accompanying him to public restrooms and though he often returns from the bathroom at home with his pants and underwear completely backward, he would rather I not assist him in getting dressed.

He is so expressive and it is often easy to read his face for dilemma and concern. However, he is not one to voice his emotion without a lot of reflection first and it is sometimes hard to know what is the source of his troubled looks.

Ivan is the one I am both extremely anxious over and extremely proud of in high stress situations. His ability to weather pain and discomfort astounds me at times, while his sensitivity to emotional bruises often concerns me. I feel such a need to protect his heart, but it is a difficult task to undertake. Prayer is a wonderful covering for mothers to have at our disposal. There are so many things we see in our children, but we can do nothing about on our own. Were it not for the promises of God, His protection, His ministering angels and the sharp and accurate weapon of His Word I would be a basket case. He is a better Father for Ivan than I could ever be a mother and the ability to lay all of my boys at His feet is…HUNORMOUS.

Heard in the Van

We were on the way to a birthday party where we were told hot dogs would be served. When we told Ivan what was on the menu he was very excited. A few minutes later we heard him proclaim from the back of the van…”Mommy, I get very frustwated to eat hot dogs in buns.”

He gets upset and has even cried when he cannot fit the entire hot dog and bun into his mouth to take a bite. I told him that he could eat the hot dog and bun separately and he was happy.

The Spiritual Answer

Ivan was ready with the spiritual answer tonight on the way to church.

Owen had informed me that he enjoys eating in the van. He has been given this opportunity one time and has since brought it up in order to let me know what a great time he had. I decided to see if he could verbalize why this was so great and asked him to tell me why he liked it so much. He replied that it was fun. I asked him if he could tell me why it was so fun and before he could answer Ivan yelled from the seat beside him…”JESUS MAKES IT FUN!”


It’s funny how an ordinary day can become extraordinary in the matter of hours. Not that anyone else would notice in this case but for Ivan, and me too, today has become special. First of all he had his very first dentist appointment and not only did he walk away with the knowledge of how beautiful his teeth are, he was remarked on over and over for his good patient skills. He was brave and patient and made his mommy very, very proud. He felt like a big boy I think and maybe all that inspired him in what transpired a little later.

The boys and I were eating our lunches and Ivan had stopped eating and seemed to be goofing off so I prompted him to eat. He said, “but I have to go potty.” We quickly ran to the potty where he did his deed and then wanted as little assistance as possible with clean up and dressing himself. It doesn’t sound that remarkable I know, but really…it’s huge. First of all he told me that he had to go. Not that he hasn’t done it before, but it’s rare and most of his success up to now has been largely due to my prompting him to go and threatening him if he didn’t. Secondly, He knew what he had to do. He didn’t haphazardly plop himself on the potty or carelessly stand and stare at it waiting for something to happen. He purposefully got himself ready and maintained his focus on what he was there to do. Thirdly, he got himself dressed. Part of my concern with Ivan and how long all this was going to take has been his lack of desire to be independent. He’s strong willed and independent in thought, but he wants to be babied a lot. I can’t do it forever and I’ve been so tired of it. It isn’t that I can’t make him do things for himself. I know what he’s capable of and I insist on him doing those things most of the time. But when a capable person forces you to force them to do things…it’s very draining. I finally saw that spark of “I can” in him. That desire to move on and be a big boy.

Lord knows I’ve heard over and over how quickly they change, how we shouldn’t push them to grow up and to savor these baby years. I’ve surely done enough savoring by now. I cannot savor what is flat out rebellion to growing up just because he’s jealous of his baby brother, or angry that we moved into a different house. That isn’t worth savoring. I’m not talking about wanting to cuddle or crying when he’s hurt. I’m talking about obvious hurt and anger that stems from rage for what’s going on around him and manifesting in a refusal to cooperate with the rest of the family. I feel for the poor kid. Middle child syndrome and all that, believe me, I know…I was the middle child too. Sensitive and melancholy, deeply wounded by any unfair treatment and wholeheartedly wrong in many of my conceptions of the intentions of my parents and siblings. I do not want for him some of the misery I allowed myself and I desperately want to teach him early the things I’m still grasping now. Give more than you expect back and never treat people fairly…treat them better than they deserve and don’t ever, ever, ever expect to be treated at a level you deserve. Be confident in one thing only…that the God of the universe, the God who made a world from the sound of His voice…that God thinks you are INCREDIBLE. None of the rest of it matters. How I wish I could inject that into his brain right now and he could build on that foundation for the rest of his life. For now…I sing Jesus Loves Me and load him up with affection and affirmation and I do not savor his selfish, babyish moments. I battle them as if they are threatening his life. Because they are.

He put the last piece of puzzle in his 100 piece panda puzzle today. He has done so well. I’m almost convinced that he’s a graduate of potty training but I think I’ll pull out one last challenge for him and see what happens. He’s really doing it.

Hesitant Joy

Hesitant because I’ve been confident of progress more than once before, only to be disappointed.

Joy because Ivan is happy about his progress today. After my post about our breakthrough in potty training in November we hit yet another road block and the frustration seemed to mount to the point of a complete distraction for me. Why did it work so well and then seem to fall apart? Why, why, why? I decided as it came time for Christmas guests and the busy days of the Holiday season, that we should take a break from potty training entirely. We have gone several weeks in just diapers with an occasional pull-up now and then. He has not liked it, but it was a much needed break for me.

I was a little troubled though. I was confused because I felt so strongly that God had led me to put him back in diapers when he wet and it seemed that it hadn’t work for very long. Didn’t God know that it would only work for a little while? Maybe I hadn’t heard from God at all. I think I did hear from God, and like so many things in my life, God has to lead me in steps. I probably wouldn’t have made the decision I did over the holidays, had I not first experimented with putting him in diapers as a result of his accidents. I probably would have doubted and questioned God had He just told me to put him in diapers and take a break for a while at the time that He told me to use the other method. I think Ivan needed that step as well.

So, now we have gotten through the Holidays peacefully, Ivan and I accepted our shift back to diapers and have slowly gotten back to the idea of trying underwear again. He wanted to do it right away. He was very tired of diapers, but he continued to wet his pants consistently. I have continued praying about it and an idea struck me last week. I have been struggling the entire time with the right motivation. What motivates Ivan enough to actually be an incentive for him? Not much. He’s a take it or leave it sort of guy when it comes to bait. He can almost always spot the hook underneath and as I explained before, he does not like to be manipulated. However, last week I took note of the joy he takes in putting puzzles together. He will sit for long periods of time at the dining room table getting all the pieces together. I realized that it isn’t a gift/treat or prize that motivates him, it’s a challenge.

I discussed my next move with Kris who agreed with my little scheme and then went to Wal-Mart and picked up three puzzles. I got a 24 piece with Handy Manny on it, a 100 piece with some panda bears and then a big 48 piece floor puzzle with Lightning and Mater. I pulled out a cookie sheet and taped the bottom of a corner piece of the first puzzle (Handy Manny) to one corner. I numbered each puzzle piece so that they weren’t in perfect order but that each consecutive number at least matched a piece that would already be placed on the tray. I did all this on Saturday while Ivan was napping. That night I explained to him that we would be wearing underwear to church and probably forever after. And that each time he used the potty to go he would receive one piece of the puzzle. He was very excited and Sunday morning proved to be a good start. We have put all but 5 pieces of the puzzle together since then and had about 5 accidents including three wet bed incidents. This morning I was able to give him a puzzle piece instead of wash his sheets and that was exciting for both of us. He has really gotten excited about the whole thing and I expect to start on the next puzzle before the weekend. The 100 piece puzzle will be quite a challenge on several levels but I plan to give him the floor puzzle as a congratulatory prize once it is completed.

He is in the dining room now, singing to himself as he puts together the 48 piece animal puzzle for the Asia continent in the puzzle book that Grandma bought for Owen a while back. He finished Africa about 5 minutes ago. He takes a long time to get it done, but he doesn’t quit until it is done…hopefully we’ll see that same determination with this revived attempt at potty training.


I’ve been meaning to post some of the fun things that Ivan expresses and it is so hard to catch them and get them posted soon enough for my memory to keep the details. Lately I’ve been collecting them in a Word document in hopes of transferring it over when I’ve gathered a few good ones.

“I can’t see dem in my nocolurs.” while holding his fists up like he’s looking through binoculars after eating his dinner). I grabbed his hands to wash them…I washed, washing one hand at a time and his light hearted lament followed, “You bwoke my nocolurs.”

“I’m Handy Manny.” (With a straw behind his ear like Handy Manny’s pencil)
“Stop cwying baby tools” (talking to his imaginary tool set)
“It’s okay baby tools”

The “How ‘Bouts” He seems to wish to manipulate us but expressing his desires as if they are a really clever idea. He says these things with his eyebrows raised and a squeak in his voice as if he’s so excited by what he just thought of.
“How ‘bout I eat on the couch?”
“How ‘bout I lay down on the couch to west and watch Veggie Tales…that would be fun.”
“How ‘bout I put my stwaw in my bowl and drink my milk?” (after finishing all the cereal out of his bowl)
“How ‘bout Owen’s at work and daddy’s at school. And you and me and Aron is at Sunday school.”

Just some things I’ve heard him say. “I don’t need to pee pee training.”

“I can’t turn the water off, my hands are too drippelly.” (slippery)

“I wanted to go to JC Penney.” (as we’re leaving the shopping center at Providence) We just thought this was funny because we had never thought of Penney’s as a place the kids were excited about.

“Get some more box of cwackers?” (When asked what daddy was getting at the grocery store.)

“Wal-mart will sleep in Aron’s room.” (Referring to Owen’s stuffed kitten toy, Sonic, who he repeatedly calls Wal-mart instead of Sonic.)

“I’m happy that you wove me.” (After leaving the train station where he was upset because the “ticket man” didn’t wave at him. I asked him if he was at least happy that he got to see the train. No…he wasn’t…but he was happy that I love him.)

“you are twying to be Noah.” (To a nursery worker wearing a Santa hat at church. All Santa’s are thought to be Noah.)
He also asked me, “Why does Noah laugh ‘Ho, ho, ho?’“

He often repeats and plays back situations to his brother by acting them out. He begins by telling Owen what he said in a tone as close as possible to it’s original feeling and then changes back to his normal voice to say “and then mommy said…” and uses a completely different voice and tone to replay my response.

He is maturing so much and his vocabulary is pretty impressive. He seems to be a very sensitive little guy and really tries to understand people and situations. He gets upset easily and is more emotionally volatile than Owen was, but is also more willing to share and show concern for others. He is affectionate, but choosy about who he shares it with and has a strong sense of acceptance or rejection.

He is putting puzzles together and will sit by himself for long periods of time trying to conquer them. He has been tackling a 100 piece puzzle that is far too advanced for him several days in a row. He only gets a few pieces to match up but is not discouraged and keeps coming back for more.

In the picture above he is proudly posing (remind you of anyone else?) after completing a 24 piece puzzle that he got as an early Christmas gift from Amber and Madison. He put it together that night without help and I loved watching his concentration while he worked.

He’s fun to be around and though we are still dealing with potty training, I am learning where I need to let go and when I need to hold firmly. He loves to be funny and can make his older brother laugh, which makes him feel so, so good. He’s a great little Ivan.


I finally see some results. I have felt like the multiple months we have been working toward independent toilet use has been in vain. I have prodded, cheered, encouraged, spanked, charted, motivated, cried and pulled my hair out but nothing has seemed to work with Ivan. Yes, he’s done it, and will do it, but not without my insistence or hovering over him. The days he has been dry all day long have been because I didn’t forget to make him go. When I made him go he cried and whined about it making it less and less likely that either of us would want to continue this fruitless process. Even spanking him for “accidents” was more punishment to me than him. He hated it, but wasn’t willing to do what was asked of him. I was beginning to wonder if he had some sort of physical problem that was causing a delay in his ability to know that he was about to go.

Last week I sat down and had a talk with myself about Ivan and his thought processes. Having tried prizes as well as punishment I realized he is not suddenly going to become motivated by these things and just upping the ante will not change that.

“What is motivation for Ivan?” I asked myself. “He likes to do things on his own,” I answered. He is angry when I make him hold my hand to walk through the parking lot. He wants to push his own cart at the grocery store. You would think he would want to go to the bathroom on his own but it’s not that simple. He does want to go on his own but he doesn’t want me to tell him to go. I think going to the bathroom was only distasteful because he felt he was being forced to do it…and he was. So why wasn’t he just doing it on his own? If I let him go…he would wet his pants. Every time he told me that he had to go, he had already leaked just a little in his underwear. It was as if going to the bathroom was a last ditch method for avoiding a spanking. Each time I told him to go he was crying and whining to let me know that this was not his choice and going on his own would have given me the wrong message in his mind. If he was going to be potty trained it had to be because he chose to be potty trained. Even giving him prizes only reinforced the idea in his mind that he was being manipulated. My promises of a new toy or an outing of some kind were not only difficult for me to come up with and follow through with, they were not putting a light in his eye or quickening his steps at all. He would just look at me and smile…as if to say…”that’s a pretty good deal mom, but I’m really not in the market for a trip to Chuck E. Cheese right now.”

I started praying about this issue way later than I should have. It wasn’t until last week that I started doing more than asking God to give me patience. I finally asked for wisdom instead and what do you know…results.

I thought through some of the things that have made Ivan turn about and do what I want him to after he insisted he didn’t want to. One of those things is something I think he got from me…if you tell me you don’t want me to do it…that’s what I want to do. He is a real sucker for reverse psychology. I don’t like this (in me or in him), and I don’t want to encourage it because it’s such a rebellious attitude, so telling him that I don’t want him to go the bathroom wasn’t an option. However, if I make him wear a diaper as punishment and then tell him that he has to go potty in the diaper and not in the potty…it just might do the trick. And it seems to have worked.

On Friday morning I was exasperated. He had peed in his pants twice before 10:00. The second time I had to clean him up…I pulled out a diaper…NOT A PULL-UP…A DIAPER…FOR BABIES…and made him wear it. He wasn’t too upset by this until he had to go to the bathroom. I told him that he had to go in his diaper and he cried. I made him wear the diaper all day and that evening when a babysitter came I changed him into another diaper and she was instructed to leave it on him all night. I told him that he could start again with underwear in the morning.

The next day he was back in his underwear and things went much better. He volunteered each time he had to go, and though I was sure to warn him several times that there were plenty of diapers if he had an accident, he was for the first time consistently proactive about going potty in the bathroom. Even announcing his need to go before allowing that little leak in his underwear. Sunday was the same way and so far today as well. DRY, DRY, DRY.

I don’t think it is as much the punishment of the diaper as it is being told he has to do something a certain way. He has decided that “his way” is going in the potty, now that we’ve introduced the lesser option. Now, going to the bathroom in the potty is his choice instead of something I’ve forced on him.

I feel like we’ve finally had a breakthrough. I don’t know what Dr. Spock or Dr. Dobson would say about this method, but I really don’t care…I am just so thankful he’s making progress.