Monday, September 30, 2013

a newborn, sick baby snuggles, and a new favorite place

 Welcome to the world, Master James Brock Caldwell.
 I forgot how positively scrumptious brand new babies are!
And so tiny, too.
I'm just gonna throw this out there - he was holding my hand by the time I left the hospital.
I'm quite certain the recipient of the Favorite Aunt Award has been chosen.
Baby Brock, you are already so loved by so many.
And you are so abundantly blessed to have such a wonderful mommy and daddy.
They are smitten.
I will forever remember their faces as I sat across from them on your birthday and listened to them joyfully tell the incredible story of your birth.
"Heaven blew every trumpet
and played every horn
on the wonderful, marvelous
night you were born."
Fast forward a few days. And a fast few days they were.
I got a call from Baker's teacher.
His fever was too high to stay at school.
I canceled my meetings, scooped up my little, and headed home for an afternoon of pajamas, snuggles, and get well wishes.

And this is how I spent two straight days.
Gaze at Baker, watch him sleep, and thank the Lord he's mine.
In the same pajamas. With the same dirty hair.
And I wouldn't change a single thing.
Somehow, someway, each day gets sweeter.
Each day, no matter that it's already seemingly filled to capacity, my heart swells, and my love grows for this little guy. 

After the sleeping, and there was plenty of sleeping, we took the pajama party outside for some Vitamin D.
Also known as "Mommy's going crazy being cooped up inside - get me outside before I lose my ever-lovin' sanity."
I said to Baker, "Mommy needs some sugar lovin."
Ask, and you shall receive.

On Saturday, he was finally feeling better, and Fall has decided to stick around for more than a few hours.
We loaded up and went to the Riverwalk.
This may be one of my favorite places in Tuscaloosa.
It is where Brian proposed, and it is now where our family is making more special memories!

Baker's current schedule:
Work hard.
Eat lots.
Play hard.
Eat lots.
Rest hard.
Eat lots.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

His power

When I start a post, I stare at a blank screen.
Sometimes, I come with something on my heart, pictures to share, a memory or milestone to capture.
Other times, I start with a prayer, that the words flowing from my fingers would not be mine, but His.
That His light would shine through my little corner of the Internet.

Tonight, I am starting fresh.
Staring at an intimidatingly white screen.
Letting the thoughts of the day, of the past few days, swirl around in my mind.
Praying for discernment as I settle on the words I feel God laying on my heart.

As I pondered, as I prayed, a song kept interrupting my thoughts.
One of my all time favorites.
One that puts me right in the presence of the Almighty.

How Great Thou Art

"Oh Lord, my God,
When I in awesome wonder,
Consider all the worlds Thy hands have made;
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
thy power throughout the universe displayed.

Then sings my soul, my Savior God to Thee,
How Great Thou Art..."

And I thought about His power.

We discussed this very topic in Bible Study this morning as we studied the third chapter of Ephesians.
People around the room shared their stories evidencing His power in their lives.
Their stories told life, birth, hope, joy, miracles.

For me, God's power has been shown time and time again.

While in my finite, very human brain, I will never fully grasp His loving power, I think I understand it a bit more clearly now that I am a mother. Not that you have to be a parent to know the loving power of the Most High. No, that is certainly not the case.

But for me, through this journey, God has shown himself more clearly than ever before. Maybe I have looked for it more closely. Realizing this is not something I can do under my own power, I have sought strength and wisdom from the Lord. That He would guide my path, dictate my ways, guard my heart.

I don't think He was withholding His power before, I think He earnestly wanted me to seek it. Seek His face. Ask Him to draw near to me, as I drew near to Him.

So often, I am guilty of placing God neatly in a box. In true Type A form, situating Him just so on the shelf. Giving Him a good dusting or repositioning every now and again. When I truly need Him to heal a hurt, provide encouragement, or answer a prayer, I carefully lift Him off the shelf, take Him gingerly out of the box, and expect Him to work some sort of magic. Entrusting Him with only the areas I assign.

Here lately, God has spent much more time out of that little box. For one, He doesn't fit very well. And another, I was spending too much time taking Him out and putting Him back in, when I really just needed Him here all the time. Honestly, some days, that scares the daylights out of me. If I give Him too much reign, what will I have to change? How will my words and attitude have to be altered to be holy in His sight? What will be affected?

And what I've learned,

As I give Him the chance to be a more powerful God,
He shows me He is an all powerful God.

Through His power, I can more clearly grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Jesus. Although, one of the things I love most about His power, is that it is always bigger and greater than I can possibly fathom.

In everything, His power is displayed.
How great Thou truly art.

Through death, He has brought life.
Through darkness, He has brought light.
Through trials, He has been glorified.
Through heartache, He has brought restoration.
Through pain and suffering, He has brought healing.

"For this reason, I kneel before the Father from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge - that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than we could ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us..."
Ephesians 3:14-20

Thursday, September 26, 2013

A Grown Up Weekly Reader

As a student, I loved Weekly Readers.
Interesting articles, read together with my classmates after our Friday Spelling Test - cha ching!
 As a classroom teacher, I loved, loved Weekly Readers.
Nonfiction text on students' reading level that they wanted to read and a science grade - cha ching!
Here is my weak attempt at a grown up Weekly Reader.
A few of my favorite reads from the week in one place.
They touched my heart, and blessed my day.

A Letter  to Mamas Parenting Children with Disabilities
Written by Beck Gambill at The Accidental Mama

Read it here.
I had so many thoughts vying for my attention after reading this.
thought one. Baker has Down Syndrome. He has a special need. But that's not what defines him. That's not what makes him special. He is special because he was created by our Heavenly Father. Just like me, Baker has gifts. Gifts that have been given to him to bring honor to Jesus. I hold wholeheartedly to Romans 8. Especially the twenty-eighth verse - "For we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose."  All means all. In all things, Christ works for His good, for His glory. I am privileged to see Him using Baker for just that. It's an honor. It is a daily honor to see Baker, at only sixteen months old, being a light for Jesus.
thought two. I am by no means a superhero. I am just a mama. A mama blessed daily by my sweet Baker. There are trials and struggles, but aren't there with all children? I don't know personally. Baker is our one and only. I don't have others to make comparisons. And right now, I am grateful for that. I see other children, I teach in public schools, and I read articles about typical development. But, I try not to let that govern my thoughts or expectations about mine. Comparison is a dangerous thing.

thought three. Simply, give grace, give compassion. While I certainly am not a superhero, I have been given a unique task. One not everyone understands, just because they haven't lived it. Some days, I wish I could wear a sign. "I got sad news about Baker's development, be tender with me today." "Someone just said the r-word. My heart hurts." "Baker isn't walking. He's sixteen months old. Her nine month old is running. I need a word of encouragement." "I'm a new mommy. To a child with special needs. I'm struggling. I need affirmation as a mommy." We all have unwritten, unhung signs. I don't know what yours says, but I could take a guess. And what it says matters less than how I respond. Through this article, I am reminded, give grace, give compassion. You might say something that you didn't mean to say. I heard one the other day that hurt to the core - Baker is Down Syndrome. They didn't mean it how I took it. Give grace. Whatever your sign reads today, I hope someone hugs you, encourages you, pats you on the back, affirms your role, gives you compassion.
Dear Working Mom, I Feel It Too
Written by Jennifer Green on Courtney DeFeo's Blog
Read it here.
I have no words to add. Jennifer said it beautifully. God placed this in front of me on the perfect day, at the perfect time - when I was ridden with working mom guilt.
This is what I love about blogging. The community of moms, believers, encouragers.
A Little Story for you, Ags. Or non-Ags. Either Way.
Written by Melanie, affectionately known as Big Mama
Read it and watch it here.
I am totally not an Aggie. I very much bleed Crimson.
But you can love this video, the message of this video, regardless of your team colors.
The Standard of Beauty
Written by Erin Carroll at Blue Eyed Bride
Read it here.
It talks about beauty and insecurities and raising boys to respect women. Just yes. All of it. Every single word. Just yes.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Taste and see

My family was sitting in the living room late Saturday evening flipping between a few college football games. As we munched on yummies and shouted a few "Roll Tides," it was impossible not to notice the color of the sky permeating every corner of my parents' home.

The cheers for the game were muffled by our lips declaring the beauty of the Lord.

It was one of those nights, one of those scenes, where I almost felt removed. Watching from the outside in. Seeing my husband, my son, my parents all in the same room. Seeing His majesty evidenced in the heavens above and the earth below.

Taste and see that the Lord is good. And I did. And He is.

We did the unthinkable. We stepped away from the television. (Insert gasp). And walked outside to bask in His goodness.

There was twirling, football throwing, and baby catapulting. And then there were entire minutes of silence, as we all reflected on the majesty of our King.

"O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!"
Psalms 8:1
"The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands."
Psalms 19:1

Friday, September 20, 2013

Five on Friday

It's that time again!
If you follow me on Instagram, you have likely seen a few of these already.
Here's to hoping they make you smile again.


I've prayed for this - pulling up, standing, the beginning stages of walking. That Baker's parts, which were so beautifully crafted and so wonderfully made by our Father would begin working in symphony. Now that it's here, goals are being met, Baker is surpassing odds, I'm torn. It's a day of celebrating, but there's a small part of me that already misses the bitty baby whose little body molds so perfectly to mine. Thank you Jesus, for the time to hold my precious, and thank you Jesus, for your perfect plan for his life. May he always walk in You.


Hi Toofers!

My cheeser is a little beaver. One morning this week, I walked into Baker's room to the sound of singing and chatter. I was so excited that my little woke up on the right side of the bed and was showing all of the signs of his mommy's love for the morning. He was playing so happily in his bed, or so I thought. Apparently he was using his crib as his newest chew toy.

The conversation that later transpired with Baker's teacher involved words like "ingested large amounts of wood' "don't be alarmed" "wood chips" "in" "diaper."

I can't make this stuff up.


Fall made a very brief appearance over the weekend. It lasted long enough to tease me with the need for oversized college sweatshirts and throws while snuggled on the porch in the early morning sun with my favorites.

Fall, I love you. In the name of heated seats, teeming bowls of chili, lattes, leaves falling, football Saturdays, come back soon, please. 


My sweet Baker, you are my brightest sunshine. You make me happy when the skies are gray. You make my heart smile deep down to its very depths. You breathe life. You speak joy. You smile and my day is made instantly better. You cry, you cough, you stand, you sing, you fuss, you eat, you dream, you inspire. And I am affirmed in my role as your mommy. The Lord daily reminds me of His faithfulness through your sweet spirit.

Sometimes I let the days pass too quickly. I rush this way and that. I get impatient. I get overwhelmed. I pack macaroni and cheese or Spaghettio-s instead of vegetables or cutely cut sandwiches that correlate with your letter for the week. I let weekdays pass in hopes that the weekend will arrive sooner. I multitask. I neglect to be fully present all the time.

Thank you for loving me anyway. Despite my many faults. Thank you for giving me grace every single day.

From the tips of your tiny toes to the top of your head, and all of my favorite spots in between, I love you.


Baker has cut out his morning nap at Rise. As a result, he craves a power nap late in the afternoon just to make it through supper.

I gratefully drop everything. Let laundry pile where it may. Let the dishes multiply. And spend a few minutes of a very busy day rocking this little, committing his life and my worries to the Lord, and stare in amazement that he's really mine.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Sixteen months and sweeter than ever

My sweet Baker is sixteen months old and is truly sweeter than ever.

I love, love this stage.
Each day is a new discovery. 
A shadow. A texture. A food. A rhythm. An expression. A sign.
I love, love this stage.

I crave interactions with Baker. 
He is so full of life and love.
His communication is so sweet,
so purposeful.
Reading books, singing songs, dancing across house, sharing ice cream.
These are the sweetest of days.

But sometimes, as difficult as it is,
I put him down.
I step away, and I watch him in fascination.

He does his thing, and I have a ticket to the greatest show on earth.
He manipulates the pages of our favorite stories, 
emulating the gestures I do with precision along with each turn.
He sings along with familiar tunes that drift across his bedroom, or in the silence, he writes his own lyrics. 
In perfect harmony, he sings.
He sits and stands and crawls. 
Until he finally lays his head down on the scratchy floor to take a momentary rest.
Then he does it all again.
Back and forth he goes.
Me, watching in amazement as he wills his little body to follow his commands.


Like a little old man, who eats the same breakfast, in the same chair, at the same table, over the same newspaper day after day after day, Baker craves routines.
He eats cinnamon oatmeal and applesauce for breakfast, and then smells of fresh baked apple pie all day long. 
He crawls familiar paths around the house, wearing the carpet as a dog does his trail in the backyard.
He sits in the driver's seat, fiercely turning the steering wheel this way and that before moving to his car seat.
He brushes his teeth and then mine, without fail every morning and night.
He leans in for a "tight squeeze," pat, pat, pats my shoulder, and coos after being separated all day. 
No words, but so many words.
After bath, he crawls to the basket which houses his books and carefully removes all of his chosen ones for our nightly reads.
He first rocks with his back against my chest, then just before submitting to slumber, turns around and snuggles his head in the crook of my neck.
He sleeps in the same angelic position as the first night he was born.

He loves with a love so intense.
So real.
I spend my days slathering those I love in words of affirmation.
But Baker, with only a small vocabulary of spoken words, 
communicates love with his whole being.

Me: "Baker who do you love?"
Baker: signs Dada
And I, I melt.
He is curious.
And energetic. 
And loyal. 
And gracious.
And joyful.

My angel baby,
my real live baby doll, 
my dream come true,
my Baker Bell

is sixteen months old

and he is sweeter than ever. 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Jesus Calling - In the Stillness

My To Do List is one of my most prized possessions.
Although, I rarely accomplish in a single day what I set out to accomplish.
I always seem to drag one, or two, or three items to the next day, willing more time, more energy, more hands, more ears, more eyes to get them done.

Important tasks get pushed to the backburner.
I neglect things.
I fail to adhere to a weekly cleaning schedule, workout schedule, fill in the blank schedule.
I am a hot mess.
Some days I celebrate cooked meals (and I use the term cooked very loosely), other days my backseat is littered with bags tattling of a day spent running this way and that, stopping only to refuel.
There is dirty laundry on the floor and dishes in the sink.
Between school and work and appointments and play dates, we are always on the go.
 To be quite honest, I love it this way.
I like crazy, the hustle and bustle of busy days.
I like going, doing, accomplishing.
Being around people.
Checking things off.
Being independent, a go-getter, a doer.
Living big. Living busy.

What I struggle with, is sitting down all by myself and being quiet. 

When I crash, I crash hard.
I go, and go, and go until I stop.
Until I have nothing left to give and exhaustion overtakes my body.
 I often do good things.
Things that would please the Lord.
Things I dub “His handiwork.”
Things he has gifted me to do.

So, imagine my confusion when I read today’s Jesus Calling.

Receive my peace. It is my continual gift to you. The best way to receive this gift is to sit quietly in my presence, trusting me in every area of your life. Quietness and trust accomplish far more than you can imagine: not only in you, but also in heaven and earth.

When you trust Me in a given area, you release that problem or person into my care.

Spending time alone with Me can be a difficult discipline, because it goes against the activity addiction of this age. You may appear to be doing nothing, but actually you are participating in battles going on in the spiritual realms. You are waging war – not with the weapons of the world, but with heavenly weapons, which have divine power to demolish strongholds. Living close to Me is a sure defense against evil.

'"Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27
"This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel says, 'In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.'" Isaiah 30:15

Hello, my name is Jennifer, and I am an addict.
An activity addict.

Lord Jesus, create in me a clean heart.
One that thirsts for you,
for stillness in your presence,
for peace and quiet to commune with you.
Draw near to me, delight yourself with my praise.
Inhabit my thoughts, my time.
 In You, I rejoice.
In You alone.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Rambles - Thoughts on September 11, Buddy Walk news, Advocare update, and a few pictures

Ramble One.
For me, today is that day.

I remember my parents and grandparents talking about events in our nation's history, and when they did, their voices weakened, their shoulders slumped, their eyes became teary. When they talked about that day, they recalled specific events, that to me, seemed quite insignificant - what they were wearing, what they were holding, where they were, what song was playing on the radio. Seemingly insignificant events made significant because they occurred on that day. They spoke of them in reverence, wanting, willing us to understand, all while sheltering us from the pain of that day. With every word, they were speaking truth of a tragedy, and they were uttering a thankful prayer that their innocent child, grandchild did not know the evil of the world in such a way.

For me, that day, was September 11, 2001.

I was a sophomore at Hillcrest High School, sitting in Mrs. Hudson's Foods and Parenting class, drinking an ice cold Diet Mt. Dew, as had become my awful habit, ready to cook whatever was on her menu for the day. I was busy chatting with my friends who occupied the same table. To this day, twelve years later, I still remember the distant sound of the ringing phone in her office. Her always cheery "hello," didn't disappoint. Then, as she listened, her smile drooped, her sunshine voice turned drastically dim. She hung up the phone in her windowed office, walking purposefully to the television. She immediately turned from Channel One, the school news program we watched each morning without fail, to a national news channel where we watched, in horror as a second plane flew into the World Trade Center.

That day.

A day I will never forget.

We continued throughout the day. There wasn't a lot of teaching, but as a student, there was a lot of learning. Teachers opted out of lesson plans, choosing a trusty news anchor instead. Most clutched cell phones as their fears were silenced and it was confirmed that their children, their loved ones were safe. We watched the events of the day unfold, and we learned truths and evil we can never unlearn. We saw things we can never unsee. We heard things we can never unhear.

As I left, I drove down Patriot Parkway, my radio blasting live footage of the day. It was like a drug I couldn't deny. No matter how much I wanted, I couldn't silence the news.

That day.

A day I will never forget.

Fast forward twelve years. As I visit classrooms and see school age children boasting their red, white, and blue, observe moments of silence, and color flags, I realize, not a single student in the building experienced that day. Along with others, I now understand the role of my parents, grandparents. It is my job to help them understand the magnitude of this day.

May we never forget the heroic actions displayed by so many on that day.

May we never forget the lives lost on that day.

May we never forget the way our nation turned to a Sovereign God who held us closely, comforted our hurts, and guarded our hearts on that day.

Ramble Two.
In other, much lighter news, we are not participating in this year's Buddy Walk. A special thank you again to all who supported us last year, and who were waiting patiently for us to announce plans for this year. We have other organizations who provide our family with more support, and through prayer and discussion, Brian and I made the difficult decision to instead focus our time, energy, and financial resources on supporting them.

A huge congratulations and best wishes to all families participating! I know you will have a wonderful time. If you don't have an organization that you support, and would like to get plugged into one, this is worthy!

Ramble Three.
I have almost completed Day 6 of Advocare's 24 Day Challenge. It is not nearly as hard as I imagined it would be. And I have more energy than I thought possible after a full day at work and mommying a sixteen month old. This very skeptical consumer is a believer! And Spark, hello fabulous! I won't bore you with the nitty gritty details, but there have been pounds and inches lost already! Woop!

I became a distributor, so if you want to purchase, or have questions, let me know!

Or you can visit my Advocare page. Beware, I'm a newcomer, so I don't have a fabulous story yet. But, it's being written daily!

Ramble Four.
I always believe in saving the best for last. I like to leave you smiling! So instead of more words, I'll bless your day with some pictures of my precious doll baby and his handsome daddy.

Friday, September 6, 2013

my wish

There's no Five on Friday, or lengthy thought-provoking, heart-tugging blog post today. Nope. This has been one of those weeks where I've said, "If I can just make it to Saturday morning, I can do ANYTHING!"
Apparently my goal was to cram every possibly activity into every second of daylight" (and some far past), and by golly, I've done it!
It's been crazy busy, and I am, more than ever, coveting time at home this weekend.
So, please excuse me for taking the easy way out - snapping a few precious iPhone pics before leaving for school, copying and pasting the lyrics to a lovely song, and calling it a winner!
i hope the days come easy and the moments pass slow
that each road leads you where you want to go
and if you're faced with the choice and you have to choose
 i hope you choose the one that means the most to you

and if one door opens to another door closed
i hope you keep on walking til you find the window
if it's cold outside, show the world the warmth of your smile

but more than anything, more than anything
my wish for you
is that this life becomes all that you want it to
your dreams stay big and your worries stay small
you never need to carry more than you can hold

and while you're out there gettin' where you're gettin' to
i hope you know somebody loves you
and wants the same things too
yeah, this is my wish

 i hope you never look back but you never forget
all the ones who loved you in the place you left
i hope you always forgive and you never regret
and you help somebody every chance you get

oh, you'd find God's grace in every mistake
and always give more than you take

this is my wish for you, baby baker
Thank you, Rascal Flatts, for a lovely song that makes this mama a weepy mess thinking about my hopes and dreams for Baker's future. I have so many wishes for him. So much hope for him. So many dreams for him.  

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

No, Baker!

I have typed, then backspaced, then typed again.

My favorite group of inspirational ladies,
The Build 'Em Up Bloggers,
are sharing posts on "Creative Correction" today -
what you're doing when time out isn't working.
I really struggled with whether this was a topic on which I was comfortable writing for all the world to see.
And safe to say, the answer is a big fat NO!

There are several reasons why:
1. I am a brand spanking (no pun intended) new mom. What do I know?
2. Baker is only 15 months old. Is it too early to begin?
3. Baker is a boy, and I am very much a girlie girl. What do I know about disciplining boys?
3. Baker has Down Syndrome. Do the same rules apply to children with special needs, and if so, am I knowledgeable enough to adapt them to meet his needs?
But, I continued typing,
trusting that the Lord is leading me in raising Baker.
And, for some reason, I typed long enough to push that highlighter orange button at the top of the screen and clicked "publish" for my words, my actions, my faults, my rights and wrongs of parenting to be made known.

Since Baker turned one, some days, all I feel like I say is
"No, Baker!"
"Mommy said no."
"Baker Bell, no sir."
"Baker, don't throw your food on the floor."
"Baker, that dog food is not for you."
"Baker, don't bite mommy. That hurts."
"No climbing on the table."

See this kid.

He's mine.
That's my boy.
Several years ago, I was a part of a Bible Study on using Scripture in correcting childrens' actions.
The verses the study was centered upon, don't discriminate on age, gender, or intellectual ability.
"Love the Lord your God with all your heart
and with all your soul and with all your strength.
These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts.
Impress them on your children.
Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road,
when you lie down and when you get up.
Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.
Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates."
Deuteronomy 6:5-8
(emphasis added)
And with that, all of those excuses were nullified.
My role, my goal, my life as a wife and a mother, is to partner with my husband in upholding the ten commandments in our home,
and guide Baker in living a life that honors God.
For those of you who have read our story, and followed along the path of Baker's life, I know what you're thinking.
For I think the same thing numerous times each day.
When I peek over the edge of his crib,
when he signs "please" and "hug" and dive bombs into my arms,
when he pats my back in sync with my love pats on his,
when he drifts off to sleep and gives  me one final kiss before closing his eyes.
But yes, even my cute little Baker Boy,
this sweet angel who loves so easily,
and laughs so big,
needs correcting.
Just like me, he was born into a world of sin.
He was born a sinner.
That was really difficult for me to type.
In fact, I tried to sugarcoat it.
But, adding ice cream and chocolate syrup doesn't change that truth.
And as much as I have ever been, I am thankful for God's grace that saved me.
And I am thankful for God's grace that covers Baker.
Oh, how I pray that I will raise a man who, above all else, loves the Lord.
 And commits his life to Him.
I pray that Baker is a light for Jesus, that he shines brightly for his Savior, that he trusts in Him, that he is saved, baptized, and spends eternity in Heaven.
That is my job.
Not when he turns a certain age.
Or reaches a certain IQ.
Regardless of his diagnosis, his IEP, the Lord has called me to raise Baker in His image.
 How do I do that?
One. Consider the child.

I think, just like anything else, it is necessary to consider the child.
For me, my mom only had to look at me with that carefully perfected mama look, and I changed my tune. My brother, David, required a slightly different approach.
For Baker, at only fifteen months old, I don't give him a lengthy saga when I correct him. I say "no," I sign "no." My words and body language convey "no," and sometimes, "Baker Bell, with all the love in my heart, I am your mama and if you make me laugh, so help me, I said NO!"
While Baker has Down Syndrome, which I know inhibits his mental capacity, I also know he knows right from wrong. He communicates this each day. When he is doing something I have warned him against, he looks at me with those almond eyes, and says "eeehhh." Like, "Mom, I know you said 'no' last time, but are you going to let me get away with it this time?" He also knows remorse. When he does something he knows he shouldn't, he pouts his bottom lip out and gives me a big love, communicating, "I'm sorry, Mommy." There are things that I might have to teach him more slowly, but I will not use his disability as an excuse for misbehavior. That being said...
I also have to consider the day and the time of the day. Is Baker acting out because he is teething, because he is tired, or because he is testing me? Does he need correcting, or does he just need grace, and some extra love?
Two. Talk about it with your spouse.
I never wanted to be the mama that says, "You just wait until your daddy gets home!"
So, Brian and I have talked about this, in great detail. We communicated our non-negotiables, our goals in raising Baker (and future children), our thoughts on spankings, time out, restriction, etc.
We decided it was important for us to be equal disciplinarians who provide instantaneous, and consistent feedback. We decided it was important for us to have similar boundaries and for us to be consistent in how we correct our child's behavior.
Brian and I have talked about spanking, prayed about spanking, and are all for spanking. However, for us, now is not the time - not in any shape or form. And the older Baker gets, the more I push back the time. I am extremely prayerful about this right now, that God would equip me and guide me in choosing the right methods in correcting Baker's actions - that take into consideration his special needs.
"He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him." Proverbs 13:24
(See David, you were really, really , really loved!)
Three. Involve Jesus.
This shouldn't have been last, in fact, it needs to be at the forefront.
Pray about it. If there was ever something that brought me to my knees, it's a whiny, food throwing, inconsolable toddler. I have prayed diligently about correcting Baker's behavior. And I have prayed off the cuff about correcting Baker's behavior. You know the prayer, "So help me God, if he wants to live to see sixteen months..."
Use the scriptures. As Baker gets older, I want him to know why it is important for him to do, or not do something. And not just because "Mommy said so." Yes, that is important, but more importantly, is that Jesus said so. I want Baker to grow up in reverence for our Lord, wanting his actions to please Him, not me. I will be proud regardless. I want Baker to respect me, and not dig into the dog's food bowl, and do things the first time I ask, because God says, "Honor thy Father and thy Mother."
I am learning.
Every step of the way.
A lot of days are trial and error.
There are tears, there are laughs.
There are prayers and there are praises.
Every day, I learn something new.
Every day, I grow a little more confident.
Every day, that Lord guides me and equips me to be a mother who raises a child who loves Him.
"Train up a child in the way he should go,
and when he is old, he will not depart from it."
Proverbs 22:6