Friday, December 21, 2012

Quality Time: Eli Style

Eli has a bit of a cold.  Which means lots of coughing, drooling, and crankiness.  It's nothing compared to what it was like from August to November.  Those months are going going to live in infamy in our family.  Just like the day the Steelers lost to the Cowboys in the Superbowl.  Or possibly the day Twinkies stopped being made. 

But this time Eli just has a typical baby cold. 

I look miserable, but this is a piece of cake.

Who knew that your kid could be sick, and it didn't have to be catastrophic with multiple trips to the doctor per week?! 

At any rate, I thought I'd teach Eli how to make himself feel better.  It's something I have done since I was a kid: I fire up some video games.  Nothing works better than taking your mind off being sick!

Eli was excited, of course.  He's a big fan of Xbox controllers, TV Remotes, phones, and anything else you want to hold while he's around.  

So as I  turned on the Xbox and handed Eli a controller he laughed with anticipation.  There's no question in my mind that he's a big fan of video games.

Eli, you have to share with Daddy!

Apparently too big of a fan.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Trusting God Admist Heartbreak

Miscarriage. Something I never thought Eric & I would be faced with.

When Eric and I found out we were expecting #3, I think we were both a little nervous. We wanted nothing more than a healthy baby. Who could really blame us after everything we had gone through with Eli?  

I have prided myself on the ability to get pregnant easily and deliver my babies just as easily. A few pushes and sometimes a literal laugh and I would be happily holding my new bundle of joy.

Afterall, I have always felt, I was born to be a mother. Born to make babies. Something that has always felt second nature to me. I had always assumed, once I got pregnant, I would stay pregnant. I haven't ever miscarried a baby. My body loves making babies and I love being pregnant. 

Yet, last Friday morning, I found myself in the OB office getting an ultra sound confirming my worst fear. We lost the baby.

Once I left the doctors office, it wasn't until around 2:00 that I was aware of the Sandy Hook tragedy. My mind was spinning. How do parents find hope when they are faced with losing a child?

God. And the hope that God brings.

Eric and I have experienced God's redemptive qualities time and time again through our experience with Eli. Our marriage is better for what we have gone through with Eli. We have had a front row seat to some amazing miracles!  We never have to doubt God's presence in our life and whether God is really real.

He has made His presence known.

Through this miscarriage, I have been now been given the gift of being able to relate to the 1 out of about every 3 pregnant women who miscarry.
Even though my faith in being able to carry any more children has been shaken, I know with God anything is possible.

Even though my heart feels like it is broken into a million tiny pieces, I know God's heart is breaking too.

I have faith that God is going to redeem this experience and turn it into something amazing.

It's our job, to keep our faith and hope in Him.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

God’s Not Done With You Yet

Dealing with a kid with a disability is a grueling, non-stop job. And while there are many things far, far worse than club foot, it’s not exactly a walk in the park (no pun intended). Every day, Heather and I feel the burden of Eli’s club foot diagnosis. And while I’d like to say we fly through it without issues, I’d be lying. It puts a strain on our marriage, wakes us up in the middle of the night, and prevents us from doing “normal” things.
And while we’re thrilled with where Eli has journeyed, we’re feeling the burden.
Whenever I feel this way, I always look to the Bible to see how, as a Dad and a husband, I should be acting. (I know, that almost sounds old fashioned! But it’s the only way I know of to keep myself grounded.)
Often I find myself turning to the story of Elijah. Elijah is one of my favorite people from the Bible. In many ways he was an action hero. Not only did he spend his days confronting evil - when virtually everyone else in Israel wasn’t interested in taking a stand - he also out ran a chariot on a race back to the nearest city. But perhaps most dramatically was the time he called fire down from the sky:
Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come here to me.” They came to him, and he repaired the altar of the Lord, which had been torn down. Elijah took twelve stones, one for each of the tribes descended from Jacob, to whom the word of the Lord had come, saying, “Your name shall be Israel.” With the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord, and he dug a trench around it large enough to hold two seahs of seed. He arranged the wood, cut the bull into pieces and laid it on the wood. Then he said to them, “Fill four large jars with water and pour it on the offering and on the wood.”
“Do it again,” he said, and they did it again.
“Do it a third time,” he ordered, and they did it the third time. The water ran down around the altar and even filled the trench.
At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: “Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. Answer me, Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.”
Then the fire of the Lord fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench.
When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, “The Lord—he is God! The Lord—he is God!” (1 Kings 18: 30-29)
That’s pretty impressive. I don’t know about you, but I haven’t called fire down from the sky recently. So after this amazing miracle, what does Elijah do next? A few short verses later we read, “Elijah was afraid and ran for his life.” (1 Kings 19: 3)
Interesting. It’s not the message we get from Hollywood. We’re told that after you do something amazing you crack a joke. Maybe you smoke a cigarette. Heroes in our culture tell us that part of being a hero is the acceptance that doing something amazing is kind of boring. And certainly not life changing.
But the Bible paints a different picture. It shows us that in the moments following our greatest spiritual victories, we’re most likely to suffer despair. Elijah performed a miracle and stood up to an evil king. Instead of walking to the nearest bar and ordering a martini, shaken not stirred, he ran away and hid.
Heather and I feel this with Eli. It wasn’t until after Eli made it through his illnesses that we felt the toll it took. We’ve seen miracle after miracle with Eli. But the minute we got a true victory over his suffering, depression and exhaustion set in. There were no clever one-liners. No apathy. Just exhaustion.
Of course God is cool with this. He didn’t yell at Elijah. And he’s not going to yell at you. Instead, he gave Elijah rest. But in the midst of that, he reminded Elijah that his work was not done. That he couldn’t give up.
And we can’t either. God has more work in store for our family.
And he’s got more work for your family.

photo credit: jurveston

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Eli's Second Pair of Dobb's Braces

It's hard enough to believe that Eli is one.  It's even harder to believe he's out grown his first set of braces.  But there we were, back in the room that started it all.

Poor thing looks so nervous :( he hates this place as much as I do!

The casting material

It's kind of sad to say good bye to the baby braces :( My little man is growing up!

It's best to feed Eli during casting to prevent screaming and figiting!

They put on a protective "sock" to keep the casting material from getting all over Eli's legs and a white smock for Daddy. You wouldn't believe how sticky that stuff is... and impossible to get off clothes!

THis kids is always eating :) And we wonder why he is so big?!

Pretty handy little contraption to prevent kids from getting cut huh?!
They make ends of the casts longer than the actual foot to make sure the AFO's have room for growing :)

After two "short" weeks we were able to pick up these beauties!

This time the brace shop gave us a choice on color. Good bye hospital white!
Eli seems to like this set much more than the last pair. I don't know if he is happy to have a more manly black brace (hahaha) or if it's because the doctors prescription called for the braces to finally start turning his feet to a more normal angle (35 degrees rather than the 70 he was at before). Whatever the reason we are thrilled!  mostly because Eli has almost started to sleep through the night! And who doesn't love a full night of sleep?!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Year of Thanksgiving

Looking back, 2012 has been a year of hell.  Without a doubt, 2012 has been brutal.  There never been a harder year that I've lived through.  And the same goes for Heather.

But when I look back, I don't just see the misery - I see what could have been.  And how close to true disaster we were.

In the last year we've struggled with....

I may look innocent, but I'm just waiting until your least expect it...
Many of these we've shared here on Faith Feet & Love.

But as I said, looking back, I don't really see those problems.  That's not to say that I don't remember them.  Trust me, when your kid projectile vomits on you 3 times in one week, you don't forget!  Instead, I find myself grateful that even though we've flirted with disaster far too many times, it has given me a deeper appreciation for the wonderful things we have experienced.

For me six things stand out when I think of 2012:

The moment when Eli smiled at me for the first time.  It was at about 3:00 in the morning, and he needed to be changed.  As I laid him on the changing table, I remember him distinctly looking at me, smiling ever so slightly (one of his first smiles by the way) and sticking his tongue out at me.  (Which was a game we used to play until he was about 3 months old.)

Playing "catch" for the first time.  Okay, so he didn't really catch.  But he knew enough to throw a toy back and forth to me.

Eli's love of games.  I've never seen a kid who loves to play as many games or who loves his toys more than Eli.  No matter how miserable he's feeling, he's always up for some kind of playing.  (Even if Daddy has to carry him while he plays.)

Why limit yourself to what you can carry, when you have a mouth.
His love of cars.  I don't know where he gets it, certainly not from me.  But this kid loves to watch cars.  The bigger and louder, the better.  And if it has a lot of lights, that's just extra winning.  We thought buying a house on a busy road would be a drawback, but it's saved us through the last few months of constant illness.  No matter how sick Eli is, he always makes time to watch cars.  Even at 4 AM.

Eli's work ethic.  No one works harder than this kid.  No one.  He doesn't know what it means to give up, whether that's learning to crawl, or learning to live with casts on his legs. 

Isabel showing off the one-shoulder backpack look of "older kids"
Of course it's not just Eli we're thankful for.  Our daughter has had an up and down year as well.  At times she's struggled with school.  But other times she's been a leader to her friends.  And while she had her own rough start to 2012, she's really become an amazing kid.  With a hilarious sense of humor, and a new-found love of all things Harry Potter, she's slowly growing up.

Okay, she's actually growing up entirely too fast!  But that is a post for another day...

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

What A Broken Window Can Teach You

“Whenever God’s Spirit works powerfully to roll back the darkness by extending the Kingdom, you can count on the darkness pushing back, sometimes in subtle ways”  
- Stand to Reason

I think one of Christianity’s most controversial ideas isn’t the Jesus is God. Or even that Jesus rose from the dead. I think it’s that evil is real. Most people living in today’s culture (or at least western culture) find this idea almost absurd. Not only is the idea that evil is real, shocking, but to think that evil has a personality is virtually offensive.

The idea that Satan is a “person” who intentionally works in our lives to cause harm, distraction, and mayhem is virtually enough to commit us to mental institutes.

Yet, as a Christian, I believe evil is real, and that Satan is real.

Which means that sometimes when bad things happen, it’s not God or bad luck, but an intentional attack. (Makes you wonder how many times we blame God for something bad happening, when it was Satan…)

That’s where we find ourselves this week. Ever since we made a decision to give generously to our church to make a difference in the world, we’ve had a run of terrible luck. Everything from Eli’s medical problems, to financial issues, to the latest:

Yep. Heather’s car was broken into. They stole her purse, smashed a window, and most importantly, took all of her Starbucks gift cards. (Oh the humanity!)

When Heather called me to tell me that her car had been broken into, and her purse was stolen, I was enraged. I was angry at God. I was angry at myself. And I was angry at the criminals who did it. I was ready to bring out the firing line. The thought “there just aren’t enough public executions these days” may or may not have crossed my mind.

How dare someone put my wife at risk? How dare someone ruin my Sunday? How dare someone nearly force us to cancel our tip to see my parents for Thanksgiving. How dare someone cause us not to be able to pick up Eli’s new car seat, thus ensuring his safety?

All because they were drug addicts, and needed their next fix (and yes the police know who they are, but they can’t keep them locked up in jail.)

The more I thought about it, the angrier I became. And I felt justified being angry.

That’s when something even worse happened. I couldn’t suppress the story of Stephen. The very first martyr of the Christian faith. Stephen was known for his powerful speaking, and gentle manner. He was a threat to the Jews of his time, because so many people believed his testimony about Jesus.

So they killed him.

By stoning him. (The kind of stoning involving rocks, not plants.)

Few deaths are more painful than being bludgeoned by rocks. And yet in the midst of this what did Stephen do? He prayed, “God, forgive them, they know not what they do.”

Time and again as my rage swelled I thought of Stephen. I thought of his words.

It’s difficult to stay angry at drug addicts who cost you a few hundred dollars in theft and car repairs when Stephen was able to forgive people who were in the process of killing him. And while I’m not over this whole incident, I am once again learning that sometimes you don’t really “believe” in something until it’s put to the test.

In the end, Satan isn’t the only one who acts in our lives. God also moves in us, and around us. Reminding us, sometimes painfully, that life is about the choices we make.

Friday, November 9, 2012

God is With You Because You Aren't Dead

“I know that you [God] are pleased with me, for my enemy does not triumph over me.” (Psalm 41: 11)

Over the last year Heather and I have had a lot of up’s and down’s. Many of which we’ve shared on Faith Feet & Love. At first it was easy to keep hope. We knew that God loved us, and we had seen time and again the ways God had protected us and provided for us. But as time wore on, it became increasingly difficult to keep believing God was really with us, and hadn’t forgotten about our struggles.

It’s from that perspective I read David’s words in Psalm 41. And to be honest, I’ve been wrestling with that verse for the last few days. I’ve been trying to understand what it means. On the surface it sounds just like a nice thought. Yet another Bible verse meant to encourage us. But it’s actually something more than that. David wrote that Psalm in the midst of being chased out of Jerusalem in a coup attempt by his own son. That’s right, David is fleeing from his own son, because his son is trying to murder him and become the next king. And in the midst of that, David is praising God for not abandoning him.

I don’t know about you, but my first reaction was, “What?!”

That’s when I realized something - David defines “success and failure” differently than I do.

I define success as getting my way, and failure as facing obstacles or rejection. I want to give up watching the Steelers play when they aren’t up by 14 points. I know that when an election doesn’t turn out as I wanted, I’m ready to call it quits. I know when a job doesn’t come through, I want to say, “why bother?”

I’m ready to question why God has abandoned me at the slightest sign of trouble.

David on the other hand has a simpler definition of success. He defines God’s pleasure as “not being dead.”

This is hard for me to understand. How can David say that God is pleased with him when everything in his life is so terrible? How can he continue to fight? How can he continue to live?

But that’s when I realized I know someone who lives like David. And it’s Eli.

He doesn’t know defeat either. He doesn’t know quitting. He’s literally the hardest working 12-month old kid I know! And he’s had to work for everything. From sitting, to lifting his head, to crawling. None of that was easy for a kid who spent much of his life in hip-high casts. But Eli doesn’t worry about that. He just focuses on what he wants (often his toys) and goes for it. He doesn’t play the “what if’s” game. He just lives.

In his own way Eli knows that God is with him, because his enemies haven’t triumphed.

He’s not dead, so he fights.

Can I do any less as his father?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Eli is ONE!

I am filled with emotion.

Today our sweet Eli turns one.

What's this you say? It's my birthday??

Oh my gosh!  You're right!

Heck yeah!  Let's celebrate!
It’s hard to believe how far we have come in this last year and how far Eli has come in the last year. Some days it feels like it has flown by. Other days it feels like this has been the longest year of our life.

In the last year, Eli has withstood countless trips to the hospital, dozens of tests, and suffered more than most of us will in a lifetime. Through all of this, he has done it with a smile. Eli is without a doubt, the happiest kid I have ever met.

Sitting in the delivery room last year, I had no idea how our life would change. All I knew was that I was scared (who am I kidding, I was terrified!). We had no idea what Eli’s feet would look like, no idea if he would be able to pee, and no idea what life was going to be like raising a kid with a disability.

After 10 long hours of labor and nearly losing our sweet boy, at 7:52pm Eli finally made his appearance and all the fear/worry/anxiety melted away. He was perfect and I loved him just the way he was :)

Although this year has been heartbreaking at times I wouldn’t change a second of it.

Eli has changed us; changed our community; changed how I see the world. And changed how I view God.

These are things you can’t put a value on and could never accomplish without suffering.

Dear Eli,

The moment you were born, I knew I was forever changed. I think my heart grew two sizes. I couldn't believe you were mine! When I looked at you, I couldn’t see a single thing wrong with you. Your feet were the most adorable perfect feet I had ever seen.

Daddy and I were baffled by all the doctors and people who were coming in to look at your feet. (Doctors were even bringing in their students to learn from you.)

We knew you were special.

Everyone told us how cute you were. But we already knew that. Barrett’s are completely adorable after all, so that was a given ;o)!

You and your sister are my greatest accomplishments.

You, Eli, have taught me to suffer with grace. Through your suffering you have brought people to their knees, helped them reconnect with God after they had lost a connection years before, through the unceasing prayers for your healing. Through your suffering, faith has been restored in modern day miracles.

You have taught those around you what sheer determination will get you. You have shown people what hard work will do. You don’t know what it means to give up. Each day you keep pushing on, working harder than the day before to meet that next milestone.

You have taught me to love more unconditionally and more deeply than I ever thought possible. Your sister loves you SO much. I think you have also taught her to love without reservation. Isabel is so protective of you and loves taking care of you! I pray as you two grow up together that never changes.

Through your suffering, you have taught Daddy and I to hold on tighter to our marriage (and each other) and not give up when things get hard, to accept help from our friends, to be humble, and above all trust God more.

Every milestone you reach is cause for celebration. Through you, we have learned to step back and appreciate the little things and not take those moments for granted.

Daddy and I know God has big plans for you little man. We know this year is just the tip of the iceberg.

We are both honored to call you our son. We are SO proud of you and love you more than we could ever thought possible.

Happy First Birthday Eli! You make our hearts swell with pride for all you have accomplished in just one short year!

I love this kid so much sometimes I think my heart might explode!
And finally a super sweet card from Isabel to her baby brother:
For those of you reading at home a translation :): Happy Birthday Buddy Bear

Dear Buddy Bear, I love you so much and I think you are sweet. I love to play with you and it's very fun! I also like to read to you.

And snuggle with you. Sincerely, Isabella PS. Happy Birthday!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Ear Tubes!

Well it finally happened. After watching Eli suffer since the beginning of August with the same ear infection, he was finally eligible to get tubes last Monday!

I would like to say that getting the tubes was the easiest thing we have ever done. After all, everyone told us it would be :). But, like all things Eli, it was a rough few days. He had a lot of bleeding post surgery due to the infection and several days where he seemed to be in pain but, was sleeping through the night almost every night!

This weekend, just as we thought things were starting to get better, Eli started crying and pulling at his ears again. I could have died. Neither Eric or I were ready for another round of ear infections. We thought surgery fixed all that! Of course Eli is a complicated kid and things never seem to come easy for him :(

Thankfully we still had some of the drops left that we were given after surgery so we started those back up again and he seems to be feeling better for the time being.

Here are a few pictures from the day:

Everyone is looking exhausted :)

Trying to calm the hungry Eli down with the cool bubble wall.

yeah Mommy, I know I am cute! But why am I in this white gown?!

Right on schedule!

Heading into surgery

In recovery and for the first time, didn't want anything to do with Mommy!

Still looking sweet as ever :)

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Random Acts of Kindness: Ambushed with Love

I have been trying to write this post for days now but for one of the very first time in my life, I was nearly speechless.

The last two months have been hard for our family. Really hard. Eli has been fighting the same ear infection since August. We have been at the pediatricians office so many times it's almost comical. With each antibiotic prescribed, Eli wasn't getting better. Even the series of shots that works on 99% of kids didn't work for our Eli.

Even though we left Eli's pediatricians office with a referral to an ENT I became (as usual) a worried, hot mess. How could my baby be so resistant to antibiotics? Especially since Eli had never had an antibiotic prior to August.

It seemed like everything had suddenly become so hard again. Eli's sleepless nights were wearing on us, the 2,3, & sometimes 4 doctors appointments a week were wearing me out, on top of both Eric and Isabel getting sick during the same time period, was enough to send me over the edge.

Even Puppy doesn't make me happy...

I remember when I could breathe...

Eric and I have been talking a lot recently about how we have been feeling really called as a family to live our life more openly. To live with transparency. To share our struggles with our friends. Not in a whiny, feel sorry for us kind of way, but as a way to go deeper with our friends. Get beyond the surface and really dig in deep with our community. So, the next day I sent out an email to my girls smallgroup asking for prayer.

Almost immediately my girls stepped up. My inbox filled with such amazing words of encouragement. The load was noticibly lighter. My friends were carrying part of our burden.

For instance, when I called to schedule Eli's appointment for the ENT the following day, we were "randomly" assigned to one of the best ENT's in the entire country, Dr. Myer III. He is actually the president of the American Society of Pediatric Otolaryngology. Can you believe our luck?!

Actually, there was no luck about it. I have no doubt getting an appointment with Dr. Myer was a direct result of the prayers we received. One day, I am going to learn to trust that God has Eli under control :).

For a few days things looked like they were getting back to normal.  Eli had healed from his ear infection when we saw Dr. Myer.  And we were able to schedule surgery for tubes.

Unfortunately it wasn't to last.

Fast forward to Sunday. Eli had been sick all weekend. Throwing up more than Eric and I had ever seen. So sick that we canceled most of our plans for the weekend.  But since we already had a babysitter lined up (who also works at Children's Hospital so she isn't afraid of germs) we decided to head to our couples small group. 

To be honest, I think we were both feeling relieved to get out of the house for a little bit.

By the end of the night my phone was filling with text messages from my girls, asking how I was holding up, seeing what I was up to, etc. I even mentioned to Eric how weird I thought it was that they were all texting me within minutes of each other... They must really think I am really about to go over the edge! HA!

Little did I know, we were about to ambushed with the most awesome, over the top, act of love, that anyone has ever done for our family.

When Eric and I got home and walked into the house we were greeted by a kitchen full of my very closest friends. (I can't believe I didn't take a picture of all of them standing there! I blame being completely overwhelmed and a little confused.)

My girls had gotten together to cook and prepare meals & wine :) for our family for  the next ten days! Look at all this food!

They even made some of the food Eli might be able to eat lactose/dairy free so little man wouldn't get sick :) That's love :)

Eric and I are still blown away by what these girls did for us. Words will never be able to adequately describe the depth of our appreciation. 

But this is what it looks like to be part of God's Kingdom, and part of a community who loves you.  And it's why we try to lead our lives as openly as possible, and to invite other people into our story.  How can you not experience something like this and not be changed?

You can't.  And that's what God has been up to this whole time.

Ami, Andrea, Angel, Gina, & Jes, our lives are better for having you in it. You girls are truly a gift from God and I am so proud to be doing life with you guys! You guys are the living definition of what it means to be the hands of feet of God. Thank you for helping to carry our family and for loving us so much. XOXO

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Guest Post: Moving to a big kid/toddler bed with a club foot brace

When searching the internet or message boards for advice regarding club foot and treatments, you never seem to see much information past getting the brace.  It's like all the materials just magically fast forward a couple of years.  Even in Dr. Ponsetti's official stuff it is almost like those toddler years are just a side note.  But since I am in the middle of this stage, I wanted to report on what it is like to have a very active toddler wearing a brace at night, and how our recent transition to a big boy bed went.

I had been fielding questions from family and friends for a little while about when we would be moving our 20 month old son Jamie out of his crib.  And to be honest, I wanted him to stay in the crib as long as possible, first and foremost, because it meant that he was still my baby.  Once he moved into a real bed that was just one more reminder of how he was growing up too fast.  Selfish reasons aside, the other primary reason was I couldn't imagine how my energetic monkey of a child would do in a bed with hardware strapped to his feet.  I was afraid that he would fall out and hurt himself, get tangled in the covers, or try to walk across the room and wake us up in a fit of screaming.

Jamie was not concerned about any of this, however.  He decided one day while my husband and I were on vacation that he didn't want to stay in the crib during his nap and climbed (and fell) out.  Luckily my mother was watching him on our video monitor and managed to mostly catch him.  This started a week of watching anxiously while he falls asleep, hoping that if he fell out that he would land on the pillows on the floor.  Sometimes he did, sometimes we caught him, and sometimes we didn't.  And that didn't stop him - so it was clear we had to move him into something lower to the ground, and fast!

 We found a youth bed at Ikea that Jamie hopped right into and said "night night!"  It was several inches lower than the toddler bed our convertible crib could change into.  I put it together in an afternoon and we tried our first night in the bed with the Dobbs brace.  We expected it to be a total disaster, but that first night had mixed success.  He fell asleep pretty well in the bed, but there were times that he fell asleep on the stuffed hippo on the floor.   We also had to help adjust him several times as he tried to go around the room and in and out of the bed.
one peaceful moment from the first night

The next day's nap was worse - he just wanted to stay up and play!  Eventually he fell asleep on the hippo, and woke up highly upset that he was on the floor.  :)

After that, every night night got better and better.  In less than a week he was sleeping his usual 11 - 12 hours a night and naps actually improved to 3 or 3 1/2 hours!  My process for the transition was to keep his bedtime routine the same but move it to the bed. I made a big deal of unveiling his new bed along with a new Elmo book a couple of days before the move, "Big Enough For A Bed."  We tell him to lay his head on his pillow after we finish our prayers and that big boys stay in their beds all night.  I still sometimes have to go in once or twice to put him or tell him to get back in his bed and go night night.  After that, I have found that I am just reinforcing the behavior if I go into his room and he always eventually sleeps in his bed.  I took out all the toys next to the bed and put them in the closet and the only books accessible are bedtime books.  I made extra double sure that everything was as baby-proofed as possible in his room.  And of course, we have a video monitor so that we can see what he is doing.
second night and already sleeping much better!
We are so proud of our big boy and how he has beautifully mastered this transition.  He wakes up very sweetly and will often get a book and climb back into bed in the morning, "reading" and singing until I come and get him.  It just makes my heart burst.  :)

Some specific suggestions I wanted to share in looking at this next stage for your family:

Buy a cheap twin or youth size bed.
        I was horrified to see the damage on the inside of my lovely wood crib, and after just a week the side rail and foot board of the youth bed were quite nicked up.  The in and out of the bed with the metal brace is very rough on the furniture and should be expected.  The distance to fall is a concern when learning to sleep in a bed, so the bed should be a low to the ground as possible.  It should be set up so one side is against a wall (if possible) and the other side have a side rail.  I know some parents of very active children who put the mattress on the floor initially.

They are more mobile than you may expect.
        I had feared that he would have trouble moving around, but my son can almost walk in the brace, and has no trouble crawling around to get where he wants.  I took away the big fluffy comforter for now and just put in lots of small pillows and a small quilt.  Jamie was getting caught in the comforter but doesn't really need it yet anyway.  The pillows help cushion him against the wall, and he loves them.  He is able to get in and out without any assistance and the best part is, he knows to sleep in his bed.  That conditioning from the crib is very strong.

They may become more aware of the brace and how it is restricting movement.

        Jamie has told me several times in the last couple of weeks that his shoes are boo boo and tries to take them off.  He does sometimes even fight me when I try to add the brace to the shoes.  We have stuck with it, though, because I really felt like this initial time with the bed would be crucial in setting the expectations for night night as my toddler becomes a pre-schooler.  We just had our every-3-month-appointment with Jamie's orthopedist and still have no update on how much longer he will be in the brace.  He is correcting very well, thankfully, but we had hoped to have some idea of the timeline now that he has been braced for a year and a half.

Listen to sleep signals and tire them out.
        The freedom that a toddler bed offers is an understandable temptation.  I have found that getting Jamie down for naps is usually much easier and he will sleep better if I listen to his tired signals.  So when we are out doing errands and he is yawning, I have to force myself to head back rather than squeeze in one more stop.  If he gets overtired because I was stretching him he takes much longer to fall asleep, and we have actually had to wake him to make sure he would be able to sleep at night.  Doing energetic activities like going to the park in the morning also really helps tire him out so that he just wants to sleep, not stay up and play.

We are starting potty training and he is doing GREAT!  Trying to work this in with the brace has been interesting, so I will do another post with how that whole thing works through the perspective of raising a club foot child.

This is a guest post from Victoria, who has been a bloggin' machine for Faith Feet & Love.  She's previously written an Our Story feature as well as sharing some advice about the Importance of Humor when dealing with clubfoot.  We want to thank Victoria for writing such an awesome guest post!  If you'd like to write a guest post, please contact us for more details.