loquacious family

Monday, November 23, 2015

Why The Tree May Be Staying Boxed This Year

Our 2013 tree. She loved it.

In past years, I have consistently made a stink about not setting up the Christmas tree in a timely manner. Hubbs is not into Christmas decorating, so convincing him to assist me in hauling all of the Christmas stuff up from storage has always been a challenge, and more often than not, a bribe is usually involved. I, however, am the person who cranks the Christmas station on the XM dial the moment Remembrance Day is over. I LOVE LOVE LOVE everything about Christmas, from the festive golds and forest greens and cherry reds, to the special merchandise packaging "gift sets," to the bustling malls aglitter with artificial trees and ornaments. For me, the season comes alive with holiday cheer (and holiday grouchiness, which I have an inexplicable ability to block out), and I ride it like a drug-induced high (or at least, what I perceive a high to be. I've never taken drugs).

This year, however, my November has been filled up with book-selling events. Between that and being a mom and a substitute teacher and soon-to-be tutor, my days are full. I have barely had the time to sit down and think about Christmas gifts, much less ponder decorating our home space (that we will only be occupying for a portion of the holiday season, thanks to our warm destination Christmas this winter). We are in a newer, bigger space this Christmas as well, which means there is a lot more potential surface area to cover.

Anyway, I am not stoked at all when I even briefly think about adorning our abode for the holidays. Seriously, I am dreading it. So not like me, right? I know. But part of it is the work that I know is involved, and part of it is the fact that we won't even be able to enjoy it for the entirety of the month; I feel overwhelmed even considering it. Of course, that Hubbs is now working on-site at his client locations does not help one bit; before, I could rely on him to be here to assist during the work day, but now I only get to see him at the end of the
day after his lengthy commute. He's spent, I'm spent, and thus the tree remains boxed in our garage.

Not our tree, but *a* tree that was on display at Nana & YeYe's hotel last year.

Little L has been getting festive, though; she remembers that we have a certain Little People Nativity set in one of our boxes, and she has been waiting for a few months now to gain access to the figurines again. And so, much to my chagrin, I simply cannot avoid doing something to make our home merry. It's not for me, it's for the little girl who is just now starting to comprehend and develop a taste for the merriment and cheer that comes with the holidays. I don't want to rob her of the experience and anticipation of Christmas, and I know that the glittery ornaments and wreaths and knickknacks all somehow add to the excitement of this glorious season.

But if I can figure out a workaround, we are not putting up a tree this year. I'll keep ya posted! ;)

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Saturday, October 24, 2015

Hustling and Bustling and Thankful Hearts

Obviously my posting frequency has really dipped these last few weeks, to the point where I would say I'm not even worthy of "mom blogger" status at this point! It isn't intentional, of course, but as with all things, life ebbs and flows through different seasons, and some are simply busier than others.

Right now, we are in "hustle" mode, forcing the blog to take a back seat to juggling new (preschool!) schedules, my Usborne commitments, and keeping our business books up to date. Hubbs has started working onsite at his client offices, so we have also been adjusting to his daytime absence and commuting hours. Add to that a busier day with an active 3.5 year-old, and sometimes the hours just escape me.

In the midst of all this chaos and change, I am so thankful for a God who never changes. I'm grateful that He has continued to show our little family an abundance out of His grace, and while we find ourselves sometimes a bit breathless from the hectic pace of our days, we also cherish all the more the quiet times we can enjoy together as a family. We are blessed that His goodness has been made evident, and His mighty hand continues to guide us as we figure out some big and little things in our lives, from the direction of Hubbs' career to whether we should spring for another vehicle (the answer is a resounding NO at this point).

And so, as we try to adjust to a new season of life, the blog remains in the background like a cozy sweater, not quite a good fit for the current climate but ready to welcome me back into its soft, comfy embrace when the time is right. 

How is this season going for you? Is there familiarity in the rhythms of your routine, or are you embracing change like we are?

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Monday, September 21, 2015

Two Can Still Be a Lonely Number

I might be steering into sensitive/controversial territory here, so consider yourself warned.

People often give us reasons why we need to have more than one kid, chief among them the following:

- we make cute kids, so therefore we cannot stop at just one
- more kids means that over time, they can entertain each other and let us off the hook (of playing with them)
- when we get old, more kids means more children to care for us, thereby reducing each child's burden
- when we both die, having multiple kids means they still have each other
- in the event we lose a child, we still have another one
- only children are sad and lonely, and having siblings fills their inner needs and reduces loneliness

The last line of thinking is the one I was pondering about the other day. While every one of these reasons may simultaneously have some small merit and yet be completely and utterly ridiculous, it occurred to me the absurdity of the reasoning that one should have children for your children's sake. Really? What strikes me as most ludicrous of all is that most children don't really know what they're asking for when they inherit a sibling, and 100% of the time, children don't get to pick who their siblings are. While some children hit the lucky sibling jackpot and end up with sisters/brothers that become lifelong friends, I think that if we were to be completely honest here, most people end up with siblings that are only associates by circumstance. Like, if their siblings were classmates, they might not necessarily be friends. In some cases, they definitely would not.

So while having two or more littles might mean that for those first two decades of life, they have a live-in frenemy or compatriot in mischief, there is certainly no guarantee that in the overall course of life, these children will have a loving, harmonious relationship with each other. In nearly every family I know, from every generation dating back to my grandparents' era, there is a dysfunctional sibling relationship or estrangement. We're talking way more than half, folks, like 75%. And I would say that even among the 25% who don't have strained sibling bonds, there isn't necessarily a close friendship between *all* of the sibs. Unlike friends, siblings are kind of an obligatory relationship; therefore, compatibility is not always guaranteed.

It's safe to say, then, that having children for the sake of your children is fairly weak logic. I don't think that just because Little L is an only child, that she will necessarily feel alone, and I don't know that she would ever want to exchange the attention and standard of living afforded her by being an only child, for siblings. If she, like so many people I know, were to end up with a sibling that she simply did not get along with, then I would posit that her quality of life would be severely reduced (as would my own). If I were to have a second child (no, I don't plan to), believe me when I say that it will not be for the sake of Little L!

Perhaps I am making a blanket statement here. How is your relationship with all of your siblings? How is your parents' relationships with all of theirs? What's your best friend's sibling situation like? Or your grandparents', or extended families'? How about your spouse's, or his family's? Think of all of the people you are close with, and then think of their relationships with their siblings. All good? No dysfunction? No estrangement, or "tough love" scenarios, or strain? Maybe it's just me. That said, I speak as one who was raised in a traditional family with 4 kids, and who is married to a husband who also comes from a traditional family with 2. No divorces among the generations preceding my own, and lots of kids in my parents' and grandparents' origin families, as well as in Hubbs' extended clan. Christians, Catholics, Buddhists, and some agnositics, too, and I would say that the 75% rule applies.

Anyway, the next time someone tells me I need to have another kid so that Little L isn't lonely and doesn't have to carry the sole burden of her aging parents, I might be punching them in the face. Or sending them a link to this blog post, and then punching them in the face. Because, seriously, MYOB comes to mind. As does the ridiculousness of people trying to tell you what you should do with your own body (and family). BAH.

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Friday, September 11, 2015

Favourite Friday

I'm not usually a big promoter of anything, since I don't get compensated for my opinions and I know that reading reviews is almost always at the bottom of everyone's list, unless of course they're consulting with Professor Google to try to find something they're inkling to purchase.

In light of that, I will try to make this short and sweet. Here are a few of my favourite things:

Method Ginger-Mango 4x Concentrated Laundry Detergent
Okay, so it doesn't smell like ginger or mango. It does however smell magnificent, plus it's less toxic than using Tide (although it does still contain sulfates, phenoxethanol and fragrance). Hubbs has been complaining about his clothes smelling "moldy" even after being laundered with our usual stuff (plus Downy, plus Bounce). I decided to give this scented goodness a go and voila! I haven't even needed the Downy, and the clothes still came out feeling soft. His sat-for-two-days-after-the-gym clothes and his well-worn, greasy jeans all came out smelling and feeling awesome, too. No more musty mold odors! This is totally my new favourite laundry detergent, by a long shot.

Available in bigger sizes too, but I like the baby size best

Norwex Microfibre Face Cloths
I am the consummate lazy person when it comes to facial cleansing. How many facial cleanser products do I get from Ipsy that sit unused in my bathroom drawer? A shameful number, that's how many. I've always been a water-only kind of girl, even though I've tried doing oil cleansers and gentle organic ones. Lately, I've been stealing Little L's Norwex baby face cloths and just washing my face with them, because they're right there in my bathroom and quick and easy to use. Miraculously, my waterproof eye make-up always comes off after just a few wipes with the wet Norwex, leaving behind a nice black blob on the little towel (it rinses off). My face is spotless afterwards, and I love that there's none of that messy dripping that happens when I try to wash with a cleanser. As for the towel, I just have to rinse and wring and let it air dry. On occasion I've boiled the towels once they've started getting a little ripe, but then they return to their former glory and microfibre plumpness, and we start again. We get a good amount of mileage from our facecloths, so the price is well worth it for us!
Thanks Zappos for the image! ;)

Native Jefferson Shoes
I bought these on a whim when I was shopping in our new neighborhood. I had heard some good things about them, and wanted shoes to replace my can't-be-seen-in-public Crocs. Who knew these shoes would be my go-to all summer long? Nicer looking than Crocs, but with similar benefits (waterproof, washable, odor resistant, shock absorbent), and really comfy after I finally broke them in (it took about a week of on/off wearing). While my feet can sometimes get a little sweaty in there, generally these shoes are great for doing neighborhood walking and running errands and pairing with my casual clothes. I love that I can wear them on the rainy days too, since I don't mind my feet getting wet. They've also come in handy when I've gone with Little L to the nearby spray park!

Varage Sale
Okay, so this is an app, and I might be introducing you to your newest addiction, but wow is this ever easy to use and oh so handy!! I have already bought and sold a few things using it, and find that it is effectively regulated and has great features like a small business directory, a forum for discussion posts, and a way to rate your seller by giving them "praise." I spend a little too much time on here, admittedly, but what a fantastic way to off-load stuff you no longer need/want, or purchase stuff for cheap! The app is quite pretty (think Pinterest meets IG, with a FB login) and I love that it is separated by regions, so I can only see the regions that I belong to.

See? Short and sweet. Have a great weekend everyone! xoxo

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Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Sleepy Time, or Our Do Nothing Approach to Sleep Training

It's no secret that my kid has never been big on sleep. She was born wide-eyed and alert, opting to keep her big brown eyes open even under the bright lights of the operating room where she was born. She stayed up for several hours (I think I counted 6) before she really fell asleep that first day.

Fast forward 3.5 years, and it's no different. She is not one to be forced into slumber, and to even attempt it would result in her working herself up into such an emotional frenzy that only sheer exhaustion would cause her to relent on the wailing. That's my kid.

And so, we have co-slept and endured her crazy bedtimes and wake-up times, nursing her down at night and taking her on long stroller rides during nap hour. For us, this flexible non-schedule was never an issue because neither Hubbs nor I have had to work outside of our home; as a result, we've never had to contend with set sleep schedules to accommodate daycare or our 9-5's. I read somewhere that kids actually do have their own schedules, even from birth. As we charted her sleep cycles, we noted that she did have one, too; hers simply wasn't as predictable as others' were, and that was okay with us. Not ideal, but okay.

Now that she is older, however, she is falling into her own bedtime routine quite organically. It's still "late" by conventional standards, but works swimmingly with our present schedules. Little L usually wakes up between 6:30am and 7:30am, and doesn't nap much anymore. When she does, the duration can be anywhere from 45 minutes to 3 hours (during growth spurt season). On nap days, her bedtime ends up being pushed later into the evening, somewhere between 10:00pm and 11:00pm. Most days, however, she skips the nap and announces that she needs to go to bed sometime between 8:00 pm and 9:30 pm. We've not forced her into this schedule, but she has sort of implemented it herself, based on her own body cues. When she does get overtired from fighting sleep, or announces, "Even if I am tired, I am NOT going to sleep!," we will sometimes offer to load her into the car for a "sleepy sleep ride." That usually does the trick, knocking her out while conveniently reducing her daily nursing (weaning!) and giving us some bonding time in the front seats.

It's not for everyone, but we have found our do-nothing approach to sleep training has worked out well. Little L wakes up happy 90% of the time, and lets me "sleep in" a little because her later slumber usually translates into a more reasonable wake-up hour. She doesn't come charging into our rooms at 4:00am wanting to join us in bed, nor does she do the bedtime dance of "one more story," or requests for water 30 minutes after she's supposed to be asleep. Because we are still co-sleeping, she also doesn't have nightmares, night terrors, fears about boogeymen or any of those things normally associated with kids her age who sleep alone. She gets to spend quality family time with Hubbs and I in the early evening, affording us opportunities to go out for dinner as a family and eat at what we consider a normal dinner hour (because for us, 5:30 is simply too early to eat)!

And as we cap off the evening, there is nothing more sweet than having her little 3.5 year old body snuggled up next to mine. One day, she will want to have her own bed and bedroom and the privacy that comes with it, and I will miss having my baby safely snoozing right next to me. While others celebrate the "freedom" they perceive early sleep training to give them, I celebrate the opportunities I'm afforded to continue to parent my little girl throughout the night. I cherish these moments and feel blessed to be able to have them.

My point here is simply this: for those parents out there who wonder if they're the only ones doing it "wrong" by not sleep training your baby, know that you're not alone nor are you doing it wrong. What works for one family differs greatly from what works for another, and obviously there are a bazillion extenuating circumstances and life variables that factor into which formula for "sleep training" is best. I take great issue with the articles and arguments that condemn parents who opt not to sleep train, or use fear-mongering tactics to suggest that a child who isn't sleep trained must automatically be sleep-deprived and overtired and therefore harmed by their irresponsible parents. These generalizations are no more accurate than the ones that state that every sleep-trained child will end up depressed and anxious and emotionally-damaged because their neglectful parents opted to torture them with extinction methods.

Anyway, I'm glad that we had foregone sleep training in favour of this lackadaisical (or laissez-faire) approach. It has fit so well with who we are, what we believe, and how we live, and we are so satisfied with how things are turning out. Of course, Murphy's Law suggests that the moment we think this, something is going to go sideways with her sleep patterns, but I suppose that's content for another blog post. ;)

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Oxford Suites Bellingham - A (Slightly Long-Winded) Review

Having a conversation with the Octopus in the lobby
I've never considered intentionally visiting new hotels just because. We have done the new resort thing once, when Sparkling Hill was merely weeks old, and my in-laws held their wedding there. At the time, however, we didn't really think twice about it being brand spanking new, because that was not why we chose to stay there.

Anyway, this past long weekend, we decided to do a last-minute getaway for just a night. Since we were being spontaneous, we didn't have a hotel booked or a destination selected. I was cruising Google for deals to whichever of Whistler, Bellingham, or Victoria would come up with the best offer first. To be honest, I didn't think Bellingham would have an appealing option, because I've done the online search before in past months and their hotel selections are usually limited to low-mid-range La Quintas and Best Westerns, or else pricey luxe resorts that are usually totally booked up. To my surprise, however, I came across a blog post and a listing on Booking.com for the Oxford Suites, and from what I was able to gather from their mobile-unfriendly (and ugly) website and the blog, this was a pretty nice and super brand new hotel. A few clicks later, I booked us into a Family Suite room for under $200US. I later learned that this pricing was because the hotel has technically not had their grand opening yet, but they've soft-launched to iron out the kinks.

A deal's a deal. I wasn't about to pass up the chance to stay at a brand new hotel where I might be one of the first (if not the first) guests to occupy their rooms. The pictures I saw on TripAdvisor were pretty compelling, too.

Fresh delicious cookies. I ended up enjoying one too!

So off we went, across the border, and to our hotel. Their 3:00 pm check-in time was very appealing to me, although in the end we didn't arrive until after 4:00. The plate of delicious, soft sugar cookies greeting us at the check-in desk were a bonus for Little L and Hubbs.

Pay no heed to the mess. That's what happens when a 3-year-old plays on it.

Weird place for a lamp, right? And the mirror was so pretty, too!

When we entered the room, we were very impressed with its size. The "living room" portion contained two queen-sized beds, a loveseat and coffee table, a wardrobe, a dresser (with the TV on top of it), plus a desk with two seats. There was also a mini "kitchenette" area with a microwave, a mini-fridge featuring a separate, good-sized freezer, and a coffee maker. An A/C and heating unit was also installed along one wall, giving us an easy way to cool down or heat up our room; I've always found those little wall switches questionably effective, so I was glad to have this beast of a unit for us to control our room temperature. While the walls did still seem a bit sparse, I loved the dark browns and grays and the clean lines and contemporary decor of the suite. The only weird part was that the floor lamp was situated such that it obscured the one decorative mirror that hung on the wall in the sitting area.

The most important part of a hotel

The bathroom (with a sliding door!) had a separate shower and tub, plus their toilet was contained inside a tiny room inside the bathroom (for additional privacy, I assume). I loved that most of their toiletries were not freebies, but full-size wall-mounted amenities that we could use; there was a travel-size lotion that we were permitted to take, however. I'm sure some folks would rather have all the little bottles to take home, but I've always found that practice to be quite wasteful in the end (because really, who among us actually uses hotel shampoo)? Their soaps were paraben-free, though, which I thought was a nice touch.

Comfy king bed. We jumped in right away, just to test it out.

Connected to the living room was a separate bedroom that housed a king-sized bed, another dresser-with-TV and wardrobe, and a bag rack atop another one of those heating/cooling units fixed into the wall. The two nightlights installed on the headboard each offered an A/C outlet plus a USB outlet for device charging. This, I thought, was another really nice touch.

She ran down the hall chanting, "Light after light after light..."

The beds were super comfy to sleep on, and we found the general vibe of the room to be very pleasant and relaxing. Little L kept herself busy running from the door to the desk on the opposite end of the room, staring out the window at the mall parking lot across the street, climbing on and off the bed, and playing with stickers. She felt really comfortable being there, which was a huge sell for us.
The small pool, hot tub, sauna and steam room

The amenities were also quite good, although there were still some kinks to work out with execution. Our key cards (both sets) couldn't access the pool area or the fitness room due to malfunctions with the locks on both doors. We had to get the front desk manager to let us into the pool, which was fitted with a small pool, hot tub, steam room and sauna. They even had one of those chair lifts to help mobility-challenged folks in and out of the pool! However, the water in the pool was a bit cold, and we couldn't get the switch for the hot tub's jets to trigger. Hubbs, however, could have spent the entire evening inside the steam room, the one amenity that sold him on the entire property.

Entering into the bistro/bar/breakfast area

The bar of delicious Caesars

Oxford Suites is apparently known for their hospitality, so in addition to the cookies, we also got free drinks (2 per person) for wine, beer or cocktails during their evening reception. Hubbs had the best Caesar/Bloody Mary of his entire life that night, and Doug the bartender will always have a special place in his heart because of it. Besides the drinks, the hotel also provided food during the evening reception. When we were there, they had a salad bar set up, plus some yummy soup and crackers - for free! Little L had her fill of oyster crackers and tomato bisque that night. The bistro also served up a small menu of dinner entrees, and Hubbs ate the best black bean burger he's ever had. My panko-crusted mac-and-cheese was also hearty and satisfying. The free breakfast was also very tasty; they scrambled eggs to order, had an oatmeal station, a coffee/juice bar, fresh fruit and cottage cheese, a toast station, roasted potatoes and bacon. Mmmm, bacon.

There were some things that could be improved, however, such as:
- understaffing the bar/bistro during reception hours; poor Doug was working his tail off
- malfunctioning toaster and an unclear procedure for how the free breakfast was supposed to work; we totally thought they made omelets to order!
- unclear communication about which alcoholic drinks required two tickets vs. one
- a really spotty WiFi connection

But these are small potatoes in the big picture, really. Oxford Suites was an enjoyable stay for us, made moreso by the fact that our room smelled like new paint and furnishings, and everything was clean and so much was free. Parking on the property was free, as was the WiFi, and of course the drinks and food. The hotel felt a bit classier than your typical low- to mid-range hotel chains, and I really felt like everyone working there was trying to go that extra mile to help us feel special and heard and tended to. Customer service was definitely a strong suit for these folks.

We will definitely be back. We're happy to know that there is a hotel option for us in Bellingham now, and look forward to our next Oxford Suites stay. In fact, the hotel made such an impression on Hubbs that he is planning to do an Oxford Suites tour one day when we finally go on a family road trip down the West Coast.

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Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Church for the Littlest Hearts

Or is it?

My heart is heavy, so I write this in search of wisdom from more seasoned parents who have walked this path.  

How do you church your sensitive, attached children in a way that is respectful and responsive, and still balances their spiritual needs with your own?

Let me clarify our struggle to provide some context. We are Jesus-loving people who seek to grow in our faith, and worship in community. We also want Little L to witness and participate in this part of our lives, just as we want her to learn more about Jesus and hopefully, eventually, come to have a personal relationship with Him. Those are big priorities for us, and we recognize the value and importance of going to church as part of being in a worship community and fostering an accountable faith.

However, we struggle hard with church attendance, not because we are unwilling to go or unable to find a good community, but because most churches as we've experienced do not have adequate means to minister to sensitive and attached children. Every church we have attended, as well as those we've simply looked into, sets up their children's ministries in a similar fashion:
  1. Children younger than a certain age will attend a nursery staffed by a rotation of volunteers. It's essentially a supervised play space for babies, toddlers, and possibly preschoolers for 1.5-2 hours with minimal Bible teaching.
  2. Children who have reached a certain age (usually preschool and older) will transition into a more "class-like" grouping with other similar-aged kids. These classes will take place during church service time and will be taught/facilitated by a team of rotating volunteers who follow a prescribed curriculum (usually worksheet and story-based). The quality of the class will be largely dependent on the quality of the teaching materials and the general experience of the volunteer Sunday School teachers.
  3. Once children hit a certain age (usually junior high or senior high), they will begin to join their parents in the worship service.
While I think that this kind of arrangement likely meets the needs of most families and most children who are generally adaptable and not prone to anxiety, it is less suitable for kids like Little L, who can sometimes take a long time to develop an attachment to the adults in charge, and who has never felt at ease being left with strangers (even those with much childcare experience and who have been vetted by the church). The very experience of being left with a stranger (or near-stranger) at a young age, even for a brief amount of time, can be vexing for someone who is especially sensitive and unable to comprehend what is happening. To the little person with no concept of time, being left alone is tantamount to being abandoned. Will it be forever? Will Mommy ever come back? As rational adults, we obviously know the answer, but when it's a baby or a toddler, the anxiety of the separation can be equally intense whether we are gone for 5 minutes or 5 hours.

So it was and is with Little L, who has a fairly anxious disposition when she doesn't have an adult to whom she can anchor her trust. Since most kids' ministries are staffed by volunteers that work in rotation, there isn't the consistency that would allow Little L to form a bonded relationship with any given person (or two or three people). Unfortunately, this has really made it difficult for Hubbs and I to regularly attend church, and to attend it together; one of us has usually been relegated to watching Little L while the other goes into the worship service. The result is that we are not both getting our spiritual needs met every week, and we are also not able to effectively model the importance and value that we place on worshiping God together in the context of community.

Even when Little L has remained in Sunday School (with me accompanying her), I have noted that the quality of her experience and learning varies depending on which volunteers are facilitating the learning. Those who are seasoned teachers or naturally gifted with kids tend to lead really great lessons, but so often it is the well-meaning but utterly unskilled volunteers who are tasked with delivering the curriculum, and the teaching portions of her class end up being really boring and one-sided. The lesson is then lost on my kid, which makes me wonder why we are at church in the first place; at this point, neither one of us is getting spiritually "fed."

For the separation anxiety issue, many have suggested that we simply let Little L "cry it out" in Sunday School or the nursery. Much like the extinction method of sleep training, the rationale here is that eventually she will figure out that we do come back, and she will get comfortable enough with her teachers du jour not to wail like a wounded hyena anymore. Sure, maybe that works...but what if it doesn't? And at what cost?

We know of many who have walked away from God and from the faith of their parents because they have been disillusioned and turned off by how "church" had been imposed on them as children. They resent being forced to go when they've hated it or were afraid. They struggle with the discrepancies they see between the Bible's mandates to love and cherish and not exasperate one's children, with the practices of their parents regularly dishonoring their anxious feelings about going to church and forcing them to attend. These folks so often blame God for the choices that their parents have made, and are wholly turned off to the love of Jesus because they can't see past the negative associations of church that they formed as young kids. I know that my own childhood Sunday School experiences did much to turn me off of organized religion, but for the grace of God!

I think about Jesus, when He called the little children to Himself. He was so inviting, and despite not being particularly handsome or distinguished or notable in form, He attracted kids because He loved them and was gentle with them. He honoured them and regarded them with respect (which was not the norm of His time). While He may not have had any cool tricks or gimmicks to entertain His youngest audiences, He held their attention because He saw them for who they were, and He met them where they were.  

My desire is for Little L to know this Jesus, the gentle Lamb who speaks Truth in love. I want her to thirst for God, to embrace His Word and to know just how big and wide and deep and high His love is for her. I want her to be excited to worship Him with others, and to feel safe and engaged and interested in what her teachers want to show her about Jesus. I want her to willingly go to church, versus feel coerced to attend because we want to attend. I want to be respectful her feelings when she tells me that she is scared or sad about going to church because the volunteers in Sunday School weren't able to maintain control over all of the little kids who were screaming and yelling in the room, or because the teacher tried to make her feel bad (read: guilty) for asking me to stay with her in the classroom when she wasn't quite ready to let me go upstairs yet (and yes, both happened). But I don't want all of this at the expense of Hubbs' and my own spiritual nourishment.

And so we struggle on with our church attendance, because we simply haven't found something that works for all three of us. Every Sunday continues to be a bit of a battle of wills between a preschooler who is alternately loathe to go or apprehensive and scared about attending, and two earnest parents who really want to go to church, but also want to avoid imposing it on their 3.5 year-old, strong-willed and sensitive child.

I feel like we are very alone in this, because so many parents that I've talked to have not even identified this as a problem for them. They attend church every week, with multiple kids sometimes, and their children seem quite willing to spend time apart from them, even at the youngest of ages. It seems odd to me that we would be the only ones wrestling with this, though, so I can only assume that others who have walked this similar road simply don't voice their struggles. Or maybe they stop attending church for a long season, and just don't say anything about it.

How do you church your littles? Do you take them regardless of whether they want to go or not? Do you find Sunday School to be an effective time of Bible learning for your kids? How have you balanced your child's wishes with your own, where faith is concerned?

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