Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Simple Encouragement

Asher started using the potty today. I'm sorry! I just can't, not write about it. Gimme some credit- I didn't post it on Facebook at least...

However, the milestones of saying goodbye to the paci and hello to the toilet (both within the past 4 days!) have lead me to think of more than just how my toddler is turning into a little boy (tear). It's made me think of rewards. Ever since we started trying to pique Asher's interest in the potty, we've told him that he would get a balloon when he uses it. I've struggled with the idea of using candy or sweets because I don't want to reward my guy with something that's not good for him. I know I'm lame, okay? But there will be plenty of other opportunities for sweets and I just personally had a hard time using that as a motivator, as effective as it might have been. We did end up taking Asher to get a balloon Saturday morning after the first night without his pacifier, but to be honest, we were the ones who kept asking him about it. Ben and I looked at each other and wondered if we should just bypass the balloon altogether, but alas, we wanted to be true to our word.

When Asher used the potty for the first time last night I began thinking of how I'd make a sticker chart so he can earn some rewards for using the potty. I worked in the morning and Ben's mom was here to carry on with the "potty training" and I never did get around to making that sticker chart. Didn't even mention anything about a balloon. And neither did Asher. As he spent the day in his sweet little tighty-whities he beamed with pride. "I used the potty. I'm a BIIIIIG BOY. Mama and Papa are PROUD of me." And that is his true reward. Pride in a job well done. A sense of love and accomplishment. The boy (and his parents) couldn't be happier. Forget the balloons and toys and stickers that fade away. He will carry these other things in his soul. Hopefully for years to come.

I know each child is different. I know each parent has a different approach. One way is not better than the other, please don't mistake me. I've just been pondering this idea of intrinsic value. Intrinsic rewards. It's rocking my view of parenting and education. What if kids did things around the house simply because they were motivated by the sense of pride in a job well done? How would our school children preform if they were not spurred on by grades and test scores but out of a true love for learning and a good work ethic? I know I would have looked at school A LOT differently. I'm not surprised when I hear adults say that they've finally found a love for learning. The same is true for me. Learning and being satisfied in the journey of it is often times good enough.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Our Papa

Happy Father's Day Papa! We were so excited when Mama asked us to share a few things on her blog in honor of Father's Day. She proofread everything of course, but the following is straight from the heart of the both of us: Asher and Millie.

Do you remember when you found out that I (Millie) was coming? It was a bit of a surprise since Asher was only about 6 months old and you and Mama were still living in survival mode most days. Not to mention that you were packed in that tiny little house. But I gotta say Papa, I think I stole your heart. Sure, the thought of raising a girl can be intimidating- we're fragile, ya know? But you swept me off my feet with your still-in-practice baby-soothing skills and tender love for me as a baby girl. And I never feel safer than when I am wrapped in my father's arms.

My favorite time of the day is when you come home. It's obvious by the way I dance around and squeal. I just can't wait for you to pick me up and kiss me. You make me laugh like no other when you tickle me with your sandpaper chin. I don't have to clamor for your attention because I always have it. That gives me a real sense of security. 

I also appreciate you teaching Asher what it is like to be a man. I think he treats me better because of it. We'll always have times that we annoy each other like brother and sister tend to do, but I know he is looking out for my better interest. I have a feeling it's pretty special to have two men in my life who are looking out for me like that. Thanks for loving me and making me feel like a truly beautiful little girl Papa. I hope one day that I will marry a man like you.

Hugs and kisses,

Happy Papa Day! I've had a hard time narrowing down the things I wanted to tell you. We have had so many fun times and I've learned so much from you. And it's only been 3 years! Well, almost 3 anyway...

Do you know how much I love helping you, Papa? It all started with mowing the lawn. Most kids have to wait until they're like 8 or something to be able to mow, but you just threw me in a backpack at 10 months and off we went. It's so powerful to be behind that noisy piece of machinery. And it sure is a great view. I know I'm getting heavy these days so I'm trying to enjoy it while it lasts. Oh, and I also LOVE to help you shovel after it snows. I know sometimes the slippery sidewalks tend to make it look like I'm doing Pilates in my snowsuit, but there's nothing better than sweating underneath 5 layers of clothes, side by side with you. Plus, being able to drink liquid chocolate afterward isn't too bad either. 

Last summer you ignited my love for baseball. Well, I guess it's really softball, but either way, I just couldn't stop asking, "Watch Papa play ball?". I know that you and Mama make it sound like your team is bad or something, but I don't really understand that. You look like an all-star out there to me!

Papa, did you know that my favorite part of every day is when you spend time with me before bed? I know I've been objecting to the teeth-brushing lately, but it soothes my soul when you read to me. It's so awesome that you read all the way through Green Eggs and Ham almost nightly. I also really like that Bible that you got for us at Easter. It helps me understand more about Jesus and life in general. And thanks for teaching me how to pray. I know that you and Mama mention God a lot, but I'm still figuring things out and it's helpful for you to model that each night and at dinner. Now I can pray for my family and friends. And neighbors. And other random things that come to mind, like closets. (sometimes when I'm stumped I just look around the room for something to pray for) But seriously, it's so good to know that God cares enough to listen to me and that I can ask for forgiveness for the poor choices I make. I tend to need some help with making good choices in the heat of the moment these days... 

Oh, and how can I forget. You make me feel safe. Not because you would beat someone up if they tried to hurt us, but the thing that makes me feel safest is when you kiss Mama. Or when you hug or cuddle her, or make her laugh. I don't know what it is, but seeing that just helps me to know that everything is good. That everything is gonna be okay. 

I hope that I can be a Papa like you some day. I know that sometimes I can make you frustrated and that Sissy and I are a lot of work for you and Mama right now. But in my eyes, you are everything that a Papa should be. Without you I would have no idea of what a loving, hard-working, man who loves God would look like. And most importantly, I know that you are proud of me. See for yourself.

I love you SO much,

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


It's really amazing that despite how horribly people can hurt one another, how easily people can also bless one another. It's just so easy sometimes. So simple.

The Sunday morning of Memorial Day weekend, the Martin clan was walking through campus heading to church. (Brookside meets in a building on campus at BGSU) There was a campus police officer in his car who had pulled aside to talk to another officer who was on his bike. Asher excitedly ran up to the car, pure awe spread across his face. The officer let him peak into the car and before we knew it Asher was sitting in the driver's seat. They flashed their lights for the kids and let them crawl around in the hard, hoseable backseat. Yes, hoseable. I don't know if it's really a word but there was no type of padding in the back seat so it could be hosed down. Makes sense I guess. Especially being campus police, they must see all kinds of drunk ;) The really sweet part was that both officers were just tickled to be able to give such a treat to a little child. One of them even said, "Gosh, I'm glad I was here to see this." Made his day. Blessed his soul.

That same night we cooked out at our new place for the first time. This is really two stories in one, but this next part must be told. When the offer we made on this house was accepted last summer, our dear friend Matt Lochtefeld drove by the house to check it out. He noticed the folks who lived here were getting rid of their grill. It was out by the street with a sign on it that said "FREE". Well apparently Matt had a vision for this grill. Long story short, and there really is a lot more to this story, Matt took the grill back to his house in Perrysburg and cleaned it up. Once we moved in, he brought it back to BG and gave it to us as a housewarming gift. How thoughtful is THAT? And it's an awesome grill too. I don't know much about grills, but it's big and has a side burner and runs excellently. Bless my soul.

Back to our first cookout. A little over a dozen friends gathered in our home and on our deck. Some friends we hadn't even met until that day. All the better. People brought all kinds of amazing food. Weather was perfect. Laughs were shared. And the kids played happily for hours jumping from the pool to the swing set and back into the pool stopping only to collapse on a beach towel to refuel. Bibs and eating utensils completely unnecessary. Later, as Ben and I cleaned up from the day, our tiredness was muted by the retelling of stories and conversations that were had. Memories that had been made. Exhaustion trumped by joy. All because of people. Bless our souls.

These simple blessings through people go on and on. How have you been blessed by people lately?