Friday, March 23, 2012

Happy 3rd Birthday, Carter!

Today, well, actually at 10:9 a.m., my boy turns three-years-old. What a memorable year this has been. I'm going to attempt to recap as much as a can, or at least the highlights, because I do not want to forget them.

A year ago (his second birthday) was somewhat difficult. He was still having a hard time adjusting to his baby brother who at the time was almost seven-months-old. I couldn't leave the room with the two of them alone together for any reason whatsoever because Carter was so aggressive and really testing boundaries. On top of that, he had some speech delays that were keeping us from being able to communicate well which was frustrating for both of us. I was desperate for anything to change, and God was very faithful to hear my prayer and answer me. Shortly after his second birthday last year, I called Early Child Intervention (ECI), and they send a speech therapist and case worker out to evaluate him. I was very anxious headed into this situation because whatever reason, I was afraid to learn that something was "wrong" with my child. They couldn't have been kinder or more understand and willing to answer any question that I had. To sum up his evaluation, they tested for six different areas of development. In every other than speech and language, he tested at anywhere from 4-8 months ahead of schedule. In speech and language, he tested three months behind schedule, and you have to be at least 4 months behind schedule in order to qualify for their in-home therapy. So she encouraged us to wait three months and see what happened, and then reconsider whether we wanted them to come back and test him again. It was a very wonderful experience, and I'm very thankful we went through it because it reminded me that contrary to what I commonly believe, I am not in control, HE is, and He has my children right in the palm of His hand and that His timeline is far superior to mine. I'd say that following that evaluation, within the next 4-6 weeks, his speech completely took off and flourished, and he most definitely made up for lost time. That's also about the time when we noticed that he began to reign in some (of course not all) of his aggressive behavior.

Here is my boy last year celebrating his second birthday with Me-Maw and at the Houston Zoo.

Dear Carter,

Today you turn three years old. Something happened this year that I never want to forget and probably won't since I'm sitting here bawling and have only written two sentences in this birthday letter to you. This year, from two to three years old, is when you transformed from a turd destructive, sometimes dangerous ball of energy and aggression into a still very active, but now very playful and likable little boy. I use the term "little" VERY loosely as you are now about 3.5 pounds heavier than your big sister. You went from being "cute" to being downright handsome. Seriously, son, I see trouble in the future as you have the most beautiful blue eyes and will most certainly be the star linebacker or offensive lineman of your high school football team. It is a miracle that you don't have permanent bruising on your cheeks from how often your mommy (and others!) squeeze them.

This year your interest in specific toys really became apparent, and it has been a joy to watch. Anyone who knows you knows that you're never without a Matchbox car (affectionately referred to by you as a "v'room, v'room") in hand, and usually two or three. Your favorite movies are "Cars" and "Cars 2," but your favorite Cars character changes weekly from Lightning to Mater to "Finn Missile" to "Ban-check-o" (Francesco). You love anything on wheels including trains too. You love pushing and pulling anything on wheels too like our wagon or the stroller or your "egg car" that's meant to be ridden in Flintstones style.

I love chatting with you. You are just like your daddy. You don't always have much to say, but you want to be heard when you finally do speak up! One of my favorite memories from this year is when you would get irritated because we didn't listen to you immediately when you were talking, and you would yell very sternly, "Hey! I'm talkin' to you!"

I love watching you play with your brother and sister. I'm so thankful that I can leave you alone in the room with them, especially Caleb, and not just because it means that you are less aggressive, but because it means that you are actually playing together and having fun. (And it means that Caleb is starting to defend himself.)
You have become a daddy's boy through and through, and I'm beginning to be OK with that. As soon as he walks in the door in the evening, you run to him and yell, "Daddy! You're home! Come play with me!"

As a two year old, you started preschool, and you have done so well. I'm constantly amazed at how much you've progressed and what wonderful things your teachers write on your daily reports such as, "Carter knows his shapes so well, and he won the shapes game today." Or "Carter is the only one in our class who knows the entire Pledge of Allegiance so he leads us every day." I'm so proud of you, Son! What a blessing you are to your class, and what a blessing First Steps Preschool at River Bend Baptist Church has been to us! Here's your birthday celebration at school yesterday. Your mommy and brother had such a great time celebrating with you. I'm so thankful you enjoyed your "bue cuh-cakes with 'pinkles."

Last night I put you down as a two year old overwhelmed with how redeeming this year has been. I know that might seem slightly melodramatic (get used to it, that's how your momma is), but it really has been because at this time last year, I was desperate. I hope that many characteristics of your personality never change. You are a raging ball of testosterone all boy, and I don't want that to change. You are not really very affectionate just like your daddy, and I'm OK with that too. This year was very special because I saw you become a playmate and friend to your brother and sister and to your friends at church and school. That was very special to watch, Carter. You are so very loved and so very special. I can't wait to see what you'll become and do over this next year. For now I'll refuse to believe what all the naysayers believe about three being worse than two. :) 

Your bedtime as a two-year-old! Wake up, Son! I'm ready to sing to you and smother you with birthday kisses!!

Love, Mommy

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Lessons Learned from Social Networking

When there are many words, sin is unavoidable, but the one who controls his lips is wise. (Proverbs 10:19 HCSB)

Yesterday I had a lapse of judgment and created a Twitter Account. Twitter seemed pretty daunting to me with all the pound signs, RT this, @ that, etc. Plus, I'd be kidding myself if I didn't admit that I need another social networking outlet like I need a hole in my head as my Nan affectionately says.  There are already some aspects about it that I appreciate more than Facebook, but that's a different blog post for a different day.

When I was in high school, our English teacher, Mr. Cooper, would always have a minimum word count for our papers. I think it was usually somewhere around 500 unless it was a research paper. I'll never forget the first time he told us this requirement for the first paper that we ever wrote for him. While most of the class was moaning and groaning trying to figure out how they would come up with 500 words to write about "Bartleby, the Scrivener." I, on the other hand, had the opposite reaction. My initial thought was, "OK, but is there a maximum word limit?" I'll never forget his response to my question: "Carter (he called us all by our last names), you can write as many words as you need to complete your five-paragraph theme paper requirements. Just remember, the more words you write, the more opportunities you have to make a mistake. A mistake on the last page of your paper will count against you just as much as a mistake in your first paragraph. If word #967 is misspelled, it will still count against you as much as it would if it were word #2. I won't stop counting mistakes against you once you've reached the 500 word minimum requirement." 

Well, ain't that just the truth! And the applications in other areas of our life are just about endless! 

I am a social being. I love finding out that people I know enjoy the same social networking outlets that I enjoy so that I can communicate with them. My Hubs, on the other hand, would love nothing more than to walk into his office at work in the morning and not come out or talk to anyone until it's time to leave in the afternoon. We are different, and that is perfectly OK. He told me the other day he'd rather get a root canal with no Novocain than have any sort of social networking account. For better or worse, opposites attract, and all that trash, right? 

Here's the funny thing about Twitter. 140 characters...that's it. I have a hard time limiting myself to 140 WORDS, much less characters. I was pretty excited awhile ago when Facebook expanded the amount of text that you can post in a status update. Not only am I social creature, but I'm a wordy one at that. I have this innate need to use as many words as possible to explain my thoughts and actions or a significant event or story. When I first created my Facebook account, I naively and immaturely would post every thought I had, every political opinion I hold, every single funny thing my kids did, etc. If I disagreed with something that someone else had posted, I would foolishly always respond. If I was having a bad day, I would lay all my feelings, thoughts, emotions out there for the entire Facebook world to see.  Real grown up, I know... (If you're my Facebook friend, you might be thinking, "Courtney, you still do that. What do you mean that you did do that?" No, really, I've learned to censor myself...I'm thankful that you don't hear the mess I keep to myself. :) There are a lot of status updates that I regret posting, texts I regret sending, comments I regret making, etc., because in a moment of impulsive reaction, I felt justified in thinking, writing, or publishing whatever I'd said. Don't get me wrong, I do think that there are appropriate times when you should defend a conviction that you hold dear or that you should respond critically to people's posts in constructive ways, but I was going way overboard in true Courtney Wilcox fashion. 

Over the past few years, God has really impressed upon my heart to be more deliberate, intentional, and choosy with my words. I don't have to "bite the bait" every time it dangles in front of my face. I don't have to respond to every single post that could potentially apply to me, that I might possibly disagree with, or that might involve someone or something that is dear to me. This would even apply to texting and emails. Sometimes silence speaks louder than words (or printed text). I also don't have to post every single controversial thing in my head with the intentions of inciting a disagreement whether political, personal, spiritual, etc. 

I know that this next statement will be like saying that a circle is circular, but I've come to appreciate the wisdom found in Proverbs a lot more as an adult. Solomon was so wise because he actually prayed for wisdom. When Solomon said that when words are plentiful, sin is not absent, he was very likely writing that specifically for Courtney Wilcox. To me it reads, "Shut up, Courtney, and you won't get yourself into trouble. You don't have to respond or take the bait or over-explain yourself every.single.time."

While I've learned a lot about how to use my words more deliberately and intentionally and not so impulsively, I still have so much more to learn, but I'm thankful that God isn't finished with me yet and hasn't given up on me. I'm so thankful that my friends haven't given up on me either and graciously haven't "unfriended" me or anything scandalous like that while I continue to grow toward social networking spiritual maturity. :) 

Hopefully I won't manage to screw up and tweet something I'll later regret when I only have 140 characters to use. (And yes, my initial thought was, "Oh no, does that include spaces?" :) Hehehe.)