The Big Screen

Mekonen had his first ever movie theater experience this past weekend and boy was it FUN!!! We had such a great time enjoying Mekonen and seeing him having so much fun!

Mekonen is extremely obsessed with Pixar Cars. Funny thing is that he was wildly obsessed with it well before he ever even saw the first Cars movie. He just loves anything having to do with cars and racetracks. When we heard Cars 2 was coming out we knew it would be a perfect little family date. We dropped Evie off for the evening with some of our dear friends and made the night a special Mommy, Daddy, and Mekonen date. I think I might've been more excited than Mekonen... that is, until the movie started and he realized what was happening!

When we got into the theater, he was a little confused. The previews started and it showed a little blurb about Cars and then it clicked. He yelled out very loud, "CAAAAARRRRSSSSS Mommy!!!!!" And the people around us started chuckling. Then when that preview was done he continued to say over and over, "Cars back on Mommy?!?!"

Then the movie started and he was mesmerized!

Meko waiting for the movie to start. This picture has all his favorite things in it: McDonald's nuggets and fries, chocolate milk, Cars t-shirt, Lightning McQueen slippers, and his Tow Mater car. The Tow Mater in the corner of this picture is probably my favorite part.
Trying to get a picture of Mekonen and Daddy. Clearly Mekonen was not letting his eyes off that big screen.
Oh yes, the slippers at the movies. 
He thought this was awesome. 
Look at that face. Pure happiness.
An after movie snack of ice-cream at McDonalds, his favorite restaurant. This kid ate more junk that night than he probably has in his whole little life: McDonalds happy meal, chocolate milk, ring pop, raisinets, fun dip, Icee drink, and ice-cream. Whoa!!!
Ooooo, Yummy!!!!

Mekonen's commentary on the night.
After the movie was over we were waiting in the lobby for Daddy to get out of the bathroom and Mekonen kept saying, "Go back in there Mommy?!?!" "Go back in there?!?!?!" 

Since Friday, Mekonen has been talking all about his trip to the movies! Every day he's been saying, 
  • He yells up the stairs, "Mommy, I went to the movie!!!!!!! I had chocolate milk in my mouth!!!!!!!"
  • He yells, "The cars are racin!!!! Tow Mater fly!!!!!!" (cause Tow Mater was flying on a parachute). 
  • He says over and over, "I had nuggets and fies!!!!!" (how he says fries). 
  • He says multiple times a day, "I went on a date with Mommy and Daddy!!!!"
It is SO. MUCH. FUN. watching your kids enjoy something so much. 
Now that's what I call a great time! 


Who Will You Be in 30 Years?

I often feel inadequate in several areas of my life, and within that there is a crazy, sinful issue of perfectionism that seeks to destroy me. When it comes to caring for, and raising you, my sweet babies, I am often terrified. Terrified that I am going to do it all wrong. That I am going to somehow splinter your hearts. I am terrified that during those moments with your precious, delicate hearts, the moments when it counts the most, I am going to blow it, and somehow scar you forever. I know this is craziness because I serve a God who sent His Son Jesus to redeem sinners like me, and because of the Gospel, I can live freely and without fear in my precious relationships with you. It means living out the Gospel everyday in fellowship with you and God, my darlings. I won't be perfect. I will mess up. I will let you down. I just pray that through who I am today, you will know who you are in every day that follows... infinitely loved by your Creator God, cherished in a way You will never understand on this earth, and loved to the deepest human extent by this Mom.

Who will you be in 30 years because of who I am today my little ones? I want your hearts to overflow...

My son, will know you are strong and courageous, that you are daring and bold, and able to carry the weight of life high on your shoulders, blessing in abundance your wife and children? I want you to go forth in confidence, to see the battles that rage all around us, and I want you to know my son, that you are able! Not just capable, but mightily equipped, mightily able, to lead, to rescue, to pursue, to take risks, and to whole-heartedly accomplish. I want the words strong and courageous to be a seal over your heart, long before the world, culture, the media, or any person tries to tell you anything else. I want "mightily equipped" to be sealed up tight in the house of your heart. Will you be that confidant and godly man I know God wants for you in 30 years because of who I am today?

My darling daughter, will you know you are beautiful from the inside out? I began saying it the day you were born, that you are beautiful my sweetheart, so that your life will be colored by these words. But I don't only speak of beauty in sight, but beauty because of who God made you. I want you to always hear this, so there is no doubt in your mind. I want these words to be a seal over your heart, long before the world, culture, the media, or any boy tries to tell you anything. I want "beautiful", the right kind of "beautiful" to be sealed up tight in the house of your heart. Will you know that are qualified and able to pursue and to accomplish that which you set your mind to? Will you know that you are a treasure, that you are worthy, that you hold gifts and talents that will praise God our Father and bless your husband and children? Will you be that woman who loves and serves Jesus and finds her identity in him in 30 years because of who I am today?

May the kind of Mom I am today wildly impact the world through the hearts of you both, my children. May who I am today point you to loving Jesus, loving people, understanding grace, and living the Gospel in your every day life.

I love you, my dear ones.


Their Daddy

I know, I know, every Mom says it, "My kids have the best Daddy." But really and truly, mine do. He loves them, pursues them, points them to Jesus, and holds their very hearts in his hands, and oh what a marvelous job he does.

We worship the God of the Bible. Time and time again throughout the Bible it talks about the generations of Israel worshipping the God of their fathers. That's what we want. Our children to worship the God their Daddy worships- the one true God of the Bible. What a legacy my children's Daddy carries, what a legacy he is blessed to leave.

I am comforted and secure in the way Jon is a Daddy to our children. He doesn't just care for their physical needs, but he pastors their hearts. He loves, serves, encourages, disciplines, and points them to Jesus. He lives real with them, parenting them with Grace and the Gospel. The two best parenting strategies out there. Why wouldn't they be? That's how God is a Daddy to us right?

So I am blessed. My children are blessed because this guy, chose us. We love you. 

Two little babes waking up a sleepy Daddy to say "Happy Father's Day!"
We made Daddy a special card and gave him a mini flip book of pictures for him to keep with him. What Daddy doesn't like to show off his minis? 
Up close look at Daddy's card, complete with Mekonen's handprint and Evie's footprint. (I had to do Evie's foot when she was sleeping. Her little toes were squirming all over b/c the paintbrush tickled her feet. But she kept on sleeping! I attempted to get her handprint first and it almost ended in a paint nightmare!) 
The inside...

It says:
This very special card
has hugs and kisses in it
And wishes that your
Father's Day
is happy every minute!
We love you!

Dear Daddy,
Teaching us about Jesus
Loving Mommy
Praying for us
Reading stories about Jesus to us
Going to work every day
Taking us to the park
Wrestling matches
Hugs & Kisses
Saying I love you
Playing with us
Protecting us
Meko & Evie 


Her Name

This post is a little "late" in coming. I wanted to write about our little lady's name. Ever since choosing to keep Mekonen's birth name because it was part of his story, part of his life in Ethiopia, and added to that, the great meaning it has (noble one, the next to rule), we decided we wanted to choose names for our children that had some meaning to us, or were significant to us in some way.

We knew from the start if we had a girl, her middle name would be Rae. Many of my close friends and family call me Ray (how I've always spelled it). So we knew no matter what we chose for a first name, that would be the middle name. Jon liked the spelling "Rae" so we went with that.

I remember exactly where I was when I mentioned the name Evangeline to Jon. I was at the intersection of 38th street in downtown Indy at a red light and her name came to me. I'm not sure how I originally thought of it, but I sat there and texted it to Jon (no, I wasn't texting while driving). I said, "How about Evangeline Rae." He texted back these three words, "I like it." As soon as I read that, I knew for sure that was her name. You see, Jon wasn't a fan of the majority of the names I liked (mostly because of the meaning factor), so when he responded with "I like it" I knew that was it! This was somewhere in the 3rd trimester and we continued to talk about a couple other names we liked, but towards the end decided if Baby Oren was a girl she would be Evangeline Rae Oren.

What's crazy is that several weeks after we had already chosen the name Evangeline, I got a text from my sister Amy. She says, "I have a really cool girl's name for you. Evangeline and call her Evie. I started cracking up! I mean seriously, what are the odds that she would pick the exact same name and nickname we did, especially when it's not a very popular name. I guess that was a sign that this little lady would be Evie. :)

Evangeline- pronounced Evange-LYNN
Evie (nickname)- pronounced ee-vie 

Evangeline comes from the Greek word euangelion which means the Gospel and "to bring good news." The name itself doesn't actually appear in the Bible. However, the Bible message of "good news" is described in the entire Bible generally, and described specifically in the Gospel books of the Bible (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John).

The Gospel, or "good news," is the heart of Christianity. The Gospel is called the "good news" because it addresses the most serious problem that you and I have as human beings, and that problem is simply this: God is holy and He is just, and I'm not. At the end of my life, I'm going to stand before a just and holy God, and I'll be judged. I'll be judged either on the basis of my own goodness (or lack of it), or on the goodness of another.

The good news of the Gospel is that Jesus lived a life of perfect goodness (righteousness), of perfect obedience to God. But not only has Jesus lived that life of perfect obedience, He offered Himself a perfect sacrifice by dying on the cross for our sins. He rose again, so that at the end of my life I won't be judged on the basis of my goodness (which would fail miserably), but I would be judged on the basis of Jesus' goodness, which is perfect.

He has done for me, what I couldn't possibly do for myself. I couldn't possibly be good enough. So how does the perfection of Jesus secure us for eternity and make us right with God? The Bible makes it clear that it is not by trying to be good and perfect, only Jesus is perfect. But it's by faith alone. The only way you can receive the benefit of Jesus' perfect life and death is by putting your trust in Him- and in Him alone. When you do that, you're declared perfect by God, you're adopted into His family, you're forgiven of all your sins, and you will spend eternity in Heaven. Now that is GOOD NEWS.

How lovely on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news. Who announces peace and brings good news of happiness. Who announces salvation, and says to Zion, "Your God reigns!"
Isaiah 52:7


It's Not Just About Loving Our Kids...

....it's about liking them too. 

Many days the last few months have felt like a whirlwind. A flurry of sleepiness, an active 2 year old, outings, long days, friends, and get-togethers. I am a perfectionist....a recovering perfectionist. I like my life and my house in order and I have a hard time functioning without it that way. I mean, it really stresses me out and I can't sleep at night when I know I am going to wake up to a disaster.

I will say however, that one thing I do well is not let cleaning get in the way of stories and playtime and visits to the park and a chocolate milk break with my 2 year old. This is why I like my house in order when I begin the day. Because the hours (although some days feel very long, are actually quite short, and I want to maximize the time I have teaching, training, playing with, and just being there, liking my kids in their messy 2 year old and 11 week old worlds). I want to start with order because by the end, there is no order. Which is okay. It just can't start out that way!

So, where this gets me is naptime, and late at night. (fyi- Both babes are sleeping, at the same time, and here I write, instead of sleeping!) So I scurry around naptime as fast as possible trying to put everything in order so that I can have enough time to relax before bitty one and bitty two awake from their slumber. (Because after all, how can a perfectionist relax surrounded by a mess?) This leaves me wiped by the end of the day with little time to relax or sleep. I know, I know, and I'm workin' on it! (For example, there are dishes IN the sink and laundry that needs to be done and it's naptime. But instead, here I sit, on the couch writing. That's an improvement for me!)

So, back to the whirlwind days. I have a new summer goal for my time with my ever growing two year old- more ACTIVE playtime with Mommy. I have slacked on this since Evie has arrived. Yeah, it's one thing to take Mekonen TO the park to run around. It's another thing to play WITH Mekonen at the park. To run up and down the slides, to play chase, to pretend to drive a bus, to hear him giggle and belly laugh as the swing goes higher and higher. Because it's all about remembering to like our kids and not just love them... to like getting down and playing with them.

To welcome his squirmy little self onto the couch with a stack of the SAME books he wants to read everyday as I feed his sister (when really I just want to sit there and relax, or read my own book, or check my facebook). Since Evie's been born and we are all a little more tired than usual adjusting to this new normal, we find ourselves saying how loud, fast, rough, hyper, and non-stop talkative Mekonen is. But really, he's always been that way. Babies can be hard on those moments when he is just being 2. When he just wants to chat, just wants to read some stories, just wants to play cars with me, just wants to say ALL the words he knows within a 2 minute time period, and when he wants me to play WITH him instead of watching him play. 

And then I think on how I love this little boy more than my life itself, and how I like him to the moon and back, and the little everyday moments is where the liking really matters.So when he races around the park yelling, "Mommy pay!!!! (play), Mommy pay!!! (play)" I shake off my sleepy, tired, state, and run after my small boy with big feelings. Because really, we need more of each other these days, not less...and more days at the park, and more days as just a little family.


Oh Potty Training!!

Potty training, oh potty training!! That has been the theme of the Oren house. I have a newborn you say? Yes! I am crazy you say? Yes! I am super Mom? No!

When Evie turned 6 weeks old, I decided it was time to potty train Mekonen. In hindsight, that was crazy. But it worked, so I guess not so crazy right? Although, it would've made for a funny youtube video of me running my 2 year old to the potty all while nursing my newborn at the same time. It was a comical site to see!

Originally, my plan to potty train was not going to happen until sometime this fall (Mekonen turns 3 yrs. old at the end of December). But he has always gotten terrible diaper rashes, and this February into March it was almost non-stop. It was to the point where it was bleeding and he would freak out when we changed him. I felt so bad for him. So amid my sleepy, newborn haze, I decided it was time! I used a mix of two methods, "The Official 3 Day Potty Training Method" and Dr. Phil's potty training concepts.  These worked great for us and I highly recommend them if you are considering potty training, or are having trouble with it. Obviously this is my first and so far only experience with potty training, but those recommendations also come from several friends who have used these methods and have had success.

The Basics of Our Mixing Potty Training Method

  • I think this is the biggest thing- Once you decide to potty train, that's it! No more diapers! At all. No matter how hard it gets. (Except for naps and bedtime if you decide to continue with those). Resist all protesting from your toddler or preschooler for you to give them their diapers back. When they realize you aren't giving in, they will eventually hate being wet and dirty and will get it. (The Official 3 Day Potty Training Method has sections on training stubborn or uninterested children too). 
  • Get lots of underwear! We started out with 17 pairs! Have your child help pick them out. Their favorite character underwear might be good motivation for them. Mekonen was going nuts over his Cars and Thomas the Tank Engine underwear. 
  • Get lots of your child's favorite drinks. (If you normally don't allow juice or soda, consider making an exception for these training days. The more they drink, the more practice they will have!)
  • Make it FUN! This is huge! If you show enthusiasm, even during all the accidents, you will be more likely to succeed earlier than later. Resist every single urge to show your frustration or raise your voice.
  • Don't punish accidents. Potty training is developmental and something they need to learn- learn how their bodies work and respond. Punishing them may cause stress or rebellion with it. 
  • Rewards & Treats- find out what works with your child. Mekonen couldn't care less about a sticker chart or little toys. All he wanted was candy! (Can you tell he rarely ever gets any?) 
  • Stay home for three straight days! Commit yourself to staying inside. I know, it sounds cruel during this nice weather, but trust me, if you are doing the 3-day method, 3 days out of the summer are so worth it for a potty trained kid at the end. 
  • If possible, send your other children to Grandma's or a friend's house for the day to really concentrate on the potty training child.
Our Process
  • I was going to get some books and videos about the potty from the library, but with caring for Evie and trying to get her schedule down, I just never got around to it.
  • The morning we started, I changed Mekonen's diaper as usual, putting another diaper on him. We ate breakfast and started drinking lots of juice. I very enthusiastically told Mekonen we were going to start using the potty and that we weren't using anymore diapers! 
  • I brought out his favorite stuffed animal, "Puppy" and we first taught Puppy how to use the potty. We started with a diaper, then Mekonen took the diaper off and helped me put Puppy in big boy underwear. Mekonen thought this was wildly hilarious! (I know, the pictures are a bit much. But hey, it was for the blog)!

  • Then I told Mekonen how Puppy would get lots to drink so he could have a lot of practice going potty. 

  • Then I had Puppy use the key phrase, "I have to go potty!" And Mekonen and I would run Puppy to the potty. Sit him on the potty, and I would use a squirt bottle behind Puppy like he was going pee. Then we cheered for Puppy and gave him a treat. (I know, a bit ridiculous, but Mekonen loved it, and it beats using the potty training doll on Dr. Phil's website that is really expensive). We did this several times over the next hour, and also had Puppy have some accidents. 
  • Then we took Mekonen's diaper off and put on big boy underwear. From the start I said, "Tell Mommy when you have to go potty." This is where this method is different, and I think where it is the key. Instead of taking your child every 15 minutes to the potty and having them sit there until they go, doing it this way, helps the child recognize right away what it feels like to have to go to the bathroom. It's child directed in the sense that they are learning to recognize and control their need to use the bathroom instead of it being dependent on a parent taking them to the bathroom. Initially it will probably cause more accidents at first, but in the long run, I believe has a better outcome. 
  • So, I said to Mekonen, "Tell Mommy when you need to go potty." Then another key is, Don't let your child out of your sight. Not even for 10 seconds." You need to catch them as they begin to pee. As soon as you see them peeing, scoop them up, run them to the bathroom, and while you do that you say, "Remember to tell Mommy when you have to go potty." This helps them to recognize what they are feeling and that they need to do something about it. Put them on the potty and try to see if they can go a little more in the toilet. If not, no big deal. If they go in the potty, even a little bit, bust out your reward system. For Mekonen, it was M&M's! 
  • Every few minutes, remind your child, "Tell Mommy when you need to go potty." Keep reminding them throughout the whole process. 

  • Yes, we had lots and lots of accidents that first morning. I think somewhere between 10-15 before naptime!! And not one of them did he tell me he had to go potty and would pee everywhere! Haha. But I stuck to the running to the bathroom thing described above. During naptime, I put him in a diaper. (In The Official 3 Day Potty Training Method she goes with no diapers at all, not even for nap or bedtime. Her method for nap and bedtime training makes sense to me. But in this phase of life with a newborn, I'm not willing to put that work into it yet. Haha). 
  • During naptime, I washed lots of underwear and was ready to go for the afternoon and evening. To my surprise, Mekonen started recognizing that he had to go potty. He would start peeing, then stop and yell, "I have to go potty!!!" I would run him to the bathroom and he would finish peeing in the toilet. We cheered and cheered. :) 
  • I was very fortunate that in my sleepy newborn haze, Mekonen didn't have any pee accidents after that first day. Starting the next day (diaper at night), I put him right in underwear and told him to tell me when he had to go potty. Occasionally, his underwear would be a little wet when I got him to the potty, but not through his pants or anything. Still, we stayed home and inside for three straight days. No errands, no outside play, etc. Talk about the most exhausting 3 days ever, but boy was it worth it. 
  • We aren't officially in the clear yet! We are still working on the poop thing. I hear it's common for kids to freak out about the poop thing. So if you have any suggestions, I'll gladly take them! We have tried great prizes, candy, and watching to see the signs that he's going to go, but when we get him to the potty, he won't go. The kid will hold it all day, or wait until naptime or bedtime and go in his diaper. Haha. But, he has done it on the potty several times, just not consistently. So we are working on it. His big motivation is "candy in a bowl" as he says. Haha.
  • Oh, I realized how much over-excitement can hinder the process! My sister and her kids were visiting for the weekend and I think Mekonen peed his pants about 4 times the whole weekend. Whoa. As soon as they left and life was back to normal, he was fine! 
A Few More Tips
  • We opted not to use a potty chair. I wanted to get Mekonen used to using the big potty from the start because I didn't want to bring a potty chair everywhere and didn't want to have to later adjust to a big potty. So instead, we just got a potty chair ring that goes over the big potty. It has worked great for us.
  • I would refrain from bringing a potty chair outside if you choose to use one. Your child should get used to running inside to the bathroom from the start. 
  • If possible, stay on hardwood floors/non-carpeted floors during the 3 days. We rolled up our carpet in the living room and it made clean-ups super quick and easy. I just kept a towel and the lysol spray on hand. If you only have one room with no carpet, use it! It will greatly decrease the stress. Bring in special toys, puzzles, etc. to occupy them. Even bring a small TV and DVD player (or laptop) for their favorite movies if that will help. Just do whatever you need to in order to stay on non-carpeted areas. 
  • Don't go back on the training! Stick with it, no matter what! 


Today I Want to Remember

Mekonen Jack

  • How you are comprehending new things everyday and communicating them in such cute ways. 
  • The way you well, "Mommy are you?!?!?!" (wanting to know where I am, and to come get you) when you wake up from sleeping. 
  • How you still want to be held and say, "pick you up?" 
  • How any silly face or funny noise will make you laugh and giggle with excitement. Then you say, "More? More?"
  • How you talk NON-STOP! Even when playing by yourself you are just chatting away!
  • How you love, love to sing and your favorite song is "All Creatures of Our God and King" which you call, "Hallelujah." You ask for it incessantly in the car, "Ha-wujah?" And when we ignore you because we already heard the song 5 times during that ride you then say, "Ha-wujah??? Praise, praise the Father praise the Son??? Praise the Spirit three in one???" Then we can't resist and we play it again. 
  • How you love to play outside and just go places! You get so excited and run to the door to get your shoes. You have been loving our little backyard when Mommy isn't able to take you to the park. You play with your cars, water table, mower, and rocket ship. You also love to "sweep" the sidewalk and the grass.
  • How you are losing some of your baby words, like "mingers" for "fingers." And how you don't say "eat this" and "bite that" as often when you want something to eat. How you are now asking for "snacks" when we walk into the door of Sam's Club instead of yelling out, "eat this?!?!?! bite that?!?!?!" indicating you want to eat some of the samples. This actually makes me kind of sad.
  • How you say words like tovers (for covers), and fark (for park).
  • How you are IN LOVE with parks!! At Sam's Club you kept insisting that we "go to the park" as you pointed to the swingset high up on a display. You did not understand me trying to tell you that it wasn't a park and not something we could play on. 
  • How you love to pick out the letters A, O, and J from the alphabet and yell, "the letter J!!!!!' 
  • How when Evie cries you say, "It's okay Ebie," or "Ebie what's wrooooong????"
  • How bubbles are your new favorite activity.

Evangeline Rae
2 Months Old
11.2 pounds and 22 inches long
What a chunka-monk! I think you look like the Castro family in this picture.
  • How I love your sweet baby smell and nuzzling my nose in the side of your neck.
  • How the sound of your cry reminds me how fragile you are and how much you are so dependent on me. 
  • How crazy and out of control your hair is when I pick you up out of your bed. It kind of reminds me of your Auntie Amy. 
  • How you only like the orange pacifier, and not the pink or purple ones that are exactly the same. 
  • How you have smiled at us from your first week of life.... and no it wasn't gas! You actually did respond to our faces and voices. 
  • How your Daddy spent lots of time walking you around the downstairs, around the table, and up and down the hallway at night, trying to calm you. 
  • How you smiled at the sound of my voice and then furrowed your brow at the sound of Daddy's. 
  • How between 7 and 8 weeks you started to find your voice. It's the cutest thing ever watching you move your little mouth and lips around and trying to make sounds come out.  Here's a video of you talking with Mommy. You are a little annoyed in the beginning but get talking and smiling towards the end!
  • How you smile sooooo incredibly easy. All I have to do is look at you and smile and your whole face lights up. 
9 Weeks
  • How you were sleeping from 10:30/11pm until 6 or 7am for almost a week (at 7 weeks old) and now you are back to eating between 4 and 5am again. As tired as I am, I look over at you in your bassinet stirring around and it melts my heart. 
  • You are sleeping naps in your big girl crib and in the bassinet by our bed at night. When you are all stretched out you are almost too big for it!

    I am in love with your crib bedding! Your Grandma Michelle spoiled you with it. The bright colors are so fun!
  • I am sad how around 8 weeks you no longer fit into most of your newborn clothes. I already look at them and think, "Wow, was she really that small?"