31 January 2011

Of Preparations

I visited Wal-Mart before most of the crazies got off work today and was able to stock up on the necessities for "Snowmaggedon 2011" (as monikered by my husband and sister-in-law): chocolate chips, Crisco, peanut butter and rice chex (although sadly, as I documented the list here, I have come to realize the powdered sugar was forgotten - so my grand vision of gulping down Puppy Chow [the Chex version, not the canine variety] while indulging in Netflix has just gone down the drain - a moment of silence for lost dreams, shall we? . . . .Thank you for your pity).   At least we still have the Crisco and the chocolate chips - cookies are a close second any day.

While awaiting the first signs of the storm, the three adults in the house (the aforementioned sister-in-law was invited to be snowed in with us - because most games are just more fun with a greater number of people) partook in a multi-cultural (read: highly offensive to almost anyone with an accent of any kind - as all were slaughtered pretty evenly across the board) version of Pay Day (the seventies edition - even better!). 

Impatience got the better of Dayla, however, and she suggested we go outside and do a snow dance.

Thus she and I did (while Philip stood in the house and threatened to lock the door).  And in the midst of the dance, lightning flashed - coincidence?  I think not.

Less than five minutes later, the sounds of sleet and hail could clearly be heard clattering against the chimney.

The two of us are available for hire to bring inclement weather in your most dire of situations.  Give us a shout.

30 January 2011

Of Crib Milestones

Micaiah took her first steps in her crib.  One morning, upon entering her room to retrieve her from her evening slumber, I saw her standing along the backside of the bed.  Curious, I opened my hands to her to see what she would do and, sure enough, she took two toddling steps across her mattress toward my waiting arms.  I was surprised she would choose the unstable surface of a spring-loaded mattress over the stability of solid ground beneath her feet, but that's my girl - unpredictable.

Or maybe it's just that the crib is the cool place to make your first moves.

Emmett spends much of his time on his belly these days - hanging out on his quilt from Gram, playing with his Little People train or any scrap of paper he can wriggle himself toward.  Other than the army crawl toward desirable pieces of mail mom allows to fall to the floor, he shows little interest in being mobile.  Until we lay him to sleep.  Nearly ever nap or evening bed time, the moment he hits the sheets (belly-down at this point because he always rolls himself there anyway, I figure we're saving him the trouble and ensuring he stays in the middle of the crib), he's up on hands and knees, forehead to the mattress, rocking himself back and forth.  Any mother or expert  (or both) will tell you this is a definite pre-cursor to crawling.

And he only does it in the crib.  Apparently there are corners of that bed this kid just needs to explore - and he'll figure out how to get there if it takes him all night - or he'll fall asleep trying.

29 January 2011

Of My Helper

I know I've been bragging on him a lot lately, but I think he secretly likes it.

I had what could have potentially been a very stressful day today.  Starting with a 9am meeting, moving straight into a Pampered Chef show and then wrapping up with grocery shopping and errands at the mall.  I got home at 4:30pm.  Basically, if you consider I didn't come home for a lunch hour, I was out of the house for nearly the equivalent of a full work-day.  So we had a bit of a role reversal in our home.

And Philip did great.

More than the fact that he cleaned up the living room and kitchen a smidge, fed the kids, entertained the kids, entertained himself while the kids napped, and welcomed me at the door, prepared to unload my car, he also ironed my clothes before I left, aided me in gathering supplies for the day and was all-around at my beck and call (complaint-free) for the entire day - desiring to do whatever he could to lessen the impact of the full schedule laying before (and now behind) me.

He is truly the greatest thing to ever happen to this unworthy, yet eternally grateful, girl.

28 January 2011

Of Airing Out

I really like the Auto-Fill feature on most internet browsers.  Mine gives me the opportunity to avoid repeating blog titles.  I had to try three times this evening before I came up with an original thought - well, I suppose the others might be original to me, but apparently I haven't changed much in the past couple of months.

Today, as you'll note at the top of the post, is January 28.  And it felt darn-near like spring-time.  In fact, our not-so-tiny-anymore tree in the front yard has been tricked.  It's sporting some adorably soft buds.  The poor thing will be sad when wintry temperatures return next week.  It's going to feel downright duped.

But we won't.

While we spread our spring-like wings today, letting Micaiah have a grand time with her sidewalk chalk (branding the aforementioned tree with her own genre of art, in lieu of being able to climb it - but not for want of trying), and taking a family walk in the dimming evening light, we knew we were stealing moments - a brief glimpse of warmth to top off the tank before we hustle back inside and bundle ourselves up in preparation for February and all it has to offer.

We're just grateful for the all-too-short interlude, a chance to air ourselves out a little.

27 January 2011

Of Projects

I currently have a project on which I am working to document a lot of old blogs and get them printed into hard copies to keep for all eternity.  I'm very excited about having this for our family. 

Because of a Groupon I purchased to use toward printing this book, I'm on a tight deadline.  The date is fast approaching and work is going slower than planned.

Which means a lot of movies for Micaiah and solitary play for both kids.  For the most part they're handling the time fine; while Mommy sits with laptop on her legs, Emmett chews on every available object within arm's reach and Micaiah alternates between motionless awe at the television screen and burning through her toy box like there's no tomorrow.  I am so grateful for children who are just fine entertaining themselves when necessary.

Sometimes, though, Micaiah really just wants Mommy time.  So when she pulls out the coloring book and crayons and asks, "Mommy?  Want co-yer?" it rips my heart out to say no.  And yet I do.  "Just for today," I tell myself.  But it's the pleading in the eyes, the sadness in the question that pulls me out, just for a moment or two, to grasp the red crayon offered and scribble in Elmo's outline.  I know it's not enough - but for now she's satisfied.

Then it's back to work.  Only for today. 

26 January 2011

Of Obsession

I always said (notice how every time I start a post this way it means that my life is clearly not under my control) my child would not become overcome by any particular cartoon character.  While she has a clear love for Dora the Explorer (even to the point of owning Dora underwear and pajamas purchased by family members), I felt we had that under control and she would be just fine if we decided to watch, say, Arthur, instead.

However, after watching Toy Story 3 multiple times over the Christmas holiday and then coming home to an iPad on which Mommy installed the Toy Story app (being one of few free and quality child-directed apps), it would seem our daughter is developing a love for not just the cast of wonderful toys, but one in particular.

We could tell when she started referring to playing with the app as, "I want Buzz!"  At first I thought this was her generic way to refer to something she didn't quite know the name of.  But I was wrong.  While she refers to this entire Disney trilogy by that same name, her heart must skip a beat at the sight of that computer-animated astronaut - at least the thrill in her voice conveys that it must.

Therefore today, when a friend who had heard of our child's new obsession, retrieved a Buzz Lightyear stuffed toy from her donation box and decided to donate this, instead, to our wonderful toddler, I was touched.  And Micaiah was elated.

From the moment we walked in the door, she asked to watch Buzz.  Of course, the DVD was still in the player, paused from where we left off yesterday, so I pressed "play" and smiled at my daughter, standing inches from the T.V., hand softly on the face of the cartoon Buzz, other arm hugging tightly her new friend.

I suppose it could be worse - at least she won't be bathed in pink and fake high heels for at least a little while longer ;)

25 January 2011

Of Family Dates

You may or may not have discovered this:  I love spending time with my family.  The idea of celebrating each day as if it's a special event definitely appeals to me.  Whether that means a Saturday of playing Twister with a two-year-old who neither knows her colors nor can differentiate between the right and left or having four bodies snuggle on the couch watching Toy Story 3.

Tonight, we went on a family date.  It was quite unplanned (before noon today that is) but lovely all the same.  We spent entirely too much on dinner, which was balanced by free dessert.  Emmett had his first taste of ice cream.  Yes, we would be the ones sitting in the mall feeding Dippin' Dots to our seven-month old.  But it was so much fun separating one tiny bead of frozen yumminess to slide into his waiting mouth.  And we could tell he loved it by the way he screamed when we weren't giving him more.

The evening was capped off by a session in the photo booth.  Four shots of parents making fools of themselves while trying to get the children to create animal faces - none of which actually captured all four of us entirely?  $3 well-spent, I'd say. 

Granted, the latter half of the evening might have gone smoother if the children had cooperated a little better at nap-time this afternoon, but you work with what you've got.  And I think Philip and I would both agree we wouldn't have traded any of it for another night of hot dogs and Netflix, temper tantrums and all.

PS to all those photo booth designers out there - a camera that can pan to toddler level would be lovely, thanks.

24 January 2011

Of Learning from the Mistakes of Others

Once upon a time, my husband and I had two cats.  We loved them dearly, but as with most new parents, the moment a child was on the way, the albums of cuddling cats (which I'm sure were perused by no one) were at once replaced with photos of a baby belly and nursery preparations.

The cats remained in the house until their jealousy got the better of them and their bodily functions (if you catch my drift).  Thus, two cats kicked out of the house, a craigslist sale to someone who insisted she didn't mind purchasing furniture which smelled like a litter box and a newly acquired garage sale living room set later, we found our home pet-free (at least on the inside) and the our home recovered from its regular urine dousing (disgusted yet?).

Until we had a potty trainer.  Now, lest you think our home has reached any state of atrocity, let me assure you most "accidents" are confined to our laminate flooring, and, thus, have been quickly and easily dealt with.  Last night, however, she was sitting right on our wonderful $40 couch when she leaked quite proficiently.

And an hour or so after she went to bed and I sat on the couch, I could smell it.  I sighed.

Apparently she hasn't learned from the mistakes of others.  At least the dog house* has a heater for her . . .

*I feel I must confess for those who may not know me or have issues interpreting sarcasm: my daughter is not now, nor ever has been, nor ever will be, living in the literal dog house.  She could urinate on the sofa every day from now until the moment she turns 18 and we would still not kick her into residing outdoors.  Although, should that occur, we may look into boarding schools or really good plastic furniture.

23 January 2011

Of Movie Magic

The movie Juno was first released in the theaters when I was pregnant with Micaiah. Philip and I sat in the Penthouse theater here in Shawnee while I chowed down on smuggled, sadly stale, Butterfinger bites (the ones in the box - so yum, when they're not stale, that is), laughing through the story of the pregnant cynical teenager, because while not quite as witty as the title character (and clearly not exactly sharing her predicament) I certainly understood the concept of having to pee like Seabiscuit and all of the wonderful symptoms she so eloquently described. It hit me where I was at.

Now, as a mother of two, seeing the movie for a secomd time, I found myself struck in an entirely different way. Watching the adoptive mother in her eager expectation for the child she's always dreamed of, I was choking back tears like a pregnant woman (which, to the best of my knowledge, I am not). Knowing how precious that desire is to her and that feeling of holding your baby in your arms for the first time. Realizing you're a mother and knowing at once it's exactly everything you've ever wanted and also that you have no idea what you're doing. It's incredible and it makes me so happy to see her in that moment and all the wonderful mother-to-be moments leading up to it.

Thus, the movie, while seemingly condoning a situation I don't at all approve of, still manages to speak to me on so many levels. That's pure movie magic right there.

22 January 2011

Of Our Daily Ritual

Under the advice of a trusted friend (and certified counselor, so he knows his stuff), Philip and I implemented into our nightly routine about two months ago a dialogue wherein we answer three questions for each other:

1. What was the best part of your day?
2. What was the worst part of your day?
3. What is your hope for tomorrow?

Honestly, you would be astounded how much three little questions once a day have completely opened up the lines of communication.  Over the course of 60(ish) days, I have learned what aspects of the day my husband most appreciates.  I know how to make him smile and I know how to make each day a little better.  I know what to avoid or when I can see a trigger set, I know how to smooth things over.  (And he's learned the same of me.)  When I know what he expects to get out of the next day, I know how to help him achieve that goal.

We work together as a team.  And lately, the first two questions have gotten harder to answer.  The first offers too many choices; the second offers little.

So, just for today, I'll give you a sneak peek into my answers (don't tell Philip, it'll spoil the surprise):

1. The best part of my day was making my son smile after five(esque) hours in the car, with two still to go (it was a round trip to retrieve our car from family members).  He was definitely losing his patience with this "riding in the carseat" business and would not have it with a pacifier or any make-shift toy fished from the diaper bag.  But his Mommy holding her face close to his and singing "A Whole New World" softly in his cheek?  That seemed to do the trick.  And with it, my day was a little better.
2.  The worst part of my day was the toll the same amount of time also took on the two adults in the car.  Coupled with not as much sleep as it should have been, we were not at our best with one another (hey, I said earlier things were better, but life isn't always peaches and cream, is it?)
3.  My hope for tomorrow is that God would speak to our hearts as we attend church in the morning, that we would have peace, even in the little decisions, and that the rest of the day would hold the calm and relaxation lacking from the previous portions of the weekend.

Good night, everyone.

21 January 2011

Of Sass

I've been telling this little story all week but thought it should be immortalized on my blog so I could remember it until she's old and gray (ok, so she can read about it when she's old and gray because I doubt I'll still be here then).

We learned last week that our daughter is a) truthful to a fault and b) all about the technicalities.

As we stood in the kitchen, I asked her to come to me and, instead, she walked away, toward her Daddy in the living room.

In my calm, yet stern, voice (the one that says, "I mean business" - you know which one I'm talking about), I asked her, "Micaiah.  What do we do when Mommy asks you to do something?"  This is the moment when she typically turns around and sulks back to me, or at least stops walking and stares me down.

Not this time.

This time she responded with all the attitude in her being, at the top of her voice, "I say, 'No, CAN'T!!!'"

It was one of those bite-my-lip-because-this-shouldn't-make-me-laugh moments.  And in my head I responded, "Yes, technically, that is what you do."  Granted, that kind of response gets a spanking and I'm pretty sure her Daddy handled it that time because I was too busy fighting back the giggles (he was doing a fair job of doing the same).

I suppose it's time we learn to re-word the question.

20 January 2011

Of Bed Time

Bed time for the little ones is one of my favorite times of the day - and that's not just because silence and time to pursue our own hobbies (games, movies, etc.) follows quickly on the heels of tucking in the tiny tots.

What I love about bed time is the routine.  Knowing that there will be little arguing and just sweet moments of stuffing itty bitty arms into warm sleeves and filling footie p.j.'s with diminutive toes.  Beautiful times of climbing onto Mommy and Daddy's bed, babies nestled in our arms, reading the bedtime story du jour.  And, if we're really lucky, like tonight, tickle fights, infant squeals, and giant hugs are packaged into the tightly woven deal as well.

At times like these, it's almost hard to say good night.

19 January 2011

Of Dance

Micaiah loves to dance.  I, too, am a fan of dance.  As discussed previously, throw in some quality oldies and a tutu for the little one and you've got a grand combination.

So, today, when I overheard (yes, I weasel my way into conversations quite regularly; don't judge me) a friend discussing what type of shoes to wear to dance class this evening, my ears perked up - and I chimed in, "For what?".  It just so happens they were discussing a "Mommy and Me" dance class.  How cute is that?

After some convincing on the part of the studio owner (ok, let's be honest, there was almost no convincing necessary other than the confirmation that Emmett would be just fine sitting his plump self in his car seat and observing children slightly older than himself as they bounced, jumped, twirled and spun around the lime green room), I decided we'd give it a shot - just a toe dipped in the pool before we decided if we were ready to soak ourselves in dance expenses.

Having pumped her up, I got to hear on the entire ride to the studio, located in the mall, "I want dance!"  We were both a little stoked.

And the class was everything it promised to be.  Pint-sized faux ballerinas hopped (or were caused to hop by the Mommies), clapped, and boogied to the melody of tunes straight from The Backyardigans and other child-friendly play-lists.  Micaiah loved it.  That girl was born to shake.

Sadly, while the best things in life are supposedly free, this does not include dance lessons and while we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, I'm just not sure we're prepared to make a financial commitment to achieve the same goal accomplished by tuning in to Pandora, breaking out the tutu and shaking it down with my girl here in our own living room for a half hour a week.  True, there's a recital (a recital!), but I guess we'll just have to wait until she's older for performances involving leotards, hair sparkles and obscene amounts of video cameras.

I'm only glad she's too young to be devastated by the knowledge that what could have been a recurring event was cut short by the frugality of her mother.  We'll just keep that between us, shall we?

18 January 2011

Of Feeling Empty

We finally did it.  January 18th and the tree, ornaments, wreaths and garland are all safely tucked in the attic for another eleven-ish months.  And suddenly our home feels so empty.

The walls festooned with greenery adorned with red ribbon have returned to their bland renter's white.  The corner of our living room once brightly lit with tiny white bulbs, surrounded by various hanging knick-knacks telling the memories belonging to our small family of four, has dissipated into vacancy.

The Christmas carols are stowed in boxes and most images of the swaddled infant are wrapped in tissue.

I remain grateful that the joy of my heart is not found in a stocking or a jingle bell, but in the everlasting peace of my God - found not in a manger but in my own being - in my faith in our Creator and His abounding love for me.

17 January 2011

Of Sweet Siblings

Our children have the sweetest relationship.

Nothing will cause Micaiah to lay down her toy, set aside her own wants and needs, like the sound of her brother's cry.  The moment his face crumples and the wail begins, she will, of her own accord, drop what she's doing to run to his side.  Peek-a-boo is a favorite of hers when it comes to lifting Emmett's spirits.  Finding a nearby toy sometimes works as well.  In these times, the happiness of her brother is her only concern. 

Consequently, she's a favorite of his.  He always saves his laughter for his sister.  Smiles are free to nearly anyone who asks, but that precious giggle?  Those are reserved for the current queen of his heart.  And she can snag one without even trying.  For example, while spinning beautifully to the end score of Ant Bully the other evening, without even any direct interaction with her brother, Micaiah earned herself the sweetest giggle.  Of course, when she realized her trick was a winner, she hammed it up and his bubbly laughter erupted continuously.

Being the mother of these two is the greatest joy of my life.

16 January 2011

Of Being Prepared (or Not)

I'll admit it: we had a mold issue in our bathroom (sourced by a leaky roof).  I say "had" because it's in the process of being "remediated".  And when I say, "In the process" I mean, "Our master bathroom has robed itself in a haz-mat suit and constantly sounds as if a clothes dryer is running inside of its belly thanks to the 'air scrubber' which has been sucking our electricity for four days now."

There was a slight mis-communication before all of this started.  I was kindly informed that, as the toilet (and possibly the shower) may have to be removed for the cause of gaining easier access to the trouble area, it would be rendered useless for a few days.  Not a problem, I thought, we have another bathroom.  Slightly inconvenient, yes, but not a major issue in the grand scheme of things.

What I failed to understand was that the facilities were not the only part of the bathroom which would remain inaccessible for at least half of a week.  The entire bathroom beyond our sinks looks as though E.T. set up camp in the bathtub and the environmental unit has him quarantined.  For some, this may not sound so serious - but for those whose closets (thereby entire stock of clothing and footwear) reside in this same room as the toilet and tub, learning this news AFTER all of one's wearable belongings are sealed tightly beyond the boundaries of a zippered plastic wall  is not exactly the best time to sort out such a gross misunderstanding.

Therefore, I have spent the last few days running through the smaller-than-a-handful of sweaters kept in the dresser in our bedroom and my husband, after spending a day wearing my t-shirt because he literally does keep every article of clothing in his own dresser inside his closet, was able to regain some of his own garments when the repairmen returned on the second day and gave me an air mask to wear while I dashed in to rescue what I could find.  Sadly, everything not in his closet was stowed even further into the recesses of the bathroom beyond yet another seal of plastic (this one with no zipper), so I've been resigned to the one pair of shoes which successfully hid themselves in my frenzied cleaning process only a half hour before the men initially arrived - not my favorite footwear - but it's better than the broken flip flops which take up permanent residence near the back door.

Also as a result of this mess, Philip and I each had our first experiences, after three and a half years in this house, showering in the guest bathroom.  And as I, not a short female by any stretch, but certainly not the tallest, either, found myself eye-to-eye with the shower head protruding from the wall, I suddenly had sympathy for every tall guest we've ever had.  I would like to take this moment to apologize.  We forgot to inspect the home for signs that disgruntled elves may have had any part in the construction of the guest facilities. 

Needless to say, while we're surviving (after a late-night toilet paper run - the extra triple-ply Quilted Northern is also being safely protected from any errant mold particles beyond the double-sealed plastic barriers), we're a little more than ready to see the sight of our mold-less bathroom in the days to come.

15 January 2011

Of an Afternoon Out

Hypothesis confirmed: Philip is much better to be trusted with making plans than I. Apparently his mental event planner is not as clogged with the routine movie-night-on-the-couch or day-at-the-park as mine.

So it was that when I wasn't feeling the spend-our-Saturday-sitting-around-aimlessly vibe this morning, I called upon my resident idea man. And he did not fail me.

The suggestion? A visit to Shawnee's Incredible Inflatables for their weekly open jump.

Micaiah had not seen a moon bounce since a birthday party last spring - at which point our little eighteen-month-old was slightly more than apprehensive about the concept and spent the entire party from the safety of the rainbow-colored rubberized floor watching excitedly while other children bounced the hour away.

Now having grown into a mature two-year-old, we thought she might be ready to give it another go. And we were ready to shell out the requisite $6 to find out. Considering she spent the ten minutes in the car declaring, "I want jump!", we were optimistic.

Five minutes later, upon learning children two and under jump free (and adults are always free, too) our optimism was accompanied by cheapskate chills - an afternoon out of the house for a whopping $0? Almost unheard of in Shawnee unless you're a fan of malls or parks (and as a frugal family on a wintry day, we weren't).

And the verdict? She LOVED it.

After an hour she was pink in the face and carried the sweet scent of childish sweat. And her supervising mother who had the privilege of re-living the younger years was happily worn out from jumping, crawling, climbing and sliding alongside our tiresome toddler. And the adult part of me was filled to brimming with watching my husband as he stared into the face of his son, softly sleeping in his arms.

An hour out of the house well-spent.

Oh, and that money we saved was well-spent as well on lunch at Abuelita's, our favorite, where we worked heartily on earning back the plethora of calories lost to the inflatable obstacle course.

14 January 2011

Of Date Night

I went on a date tonight.

And my husband was nice enough to baby-sit while I did ;)

No, I don't have a new boyfriend (Philip and I don't have that kind of "open relationship"), rather I asked my sister-in-law on a coffee date to celebrate her first week of serving as an intern in OBU's Campus Ministry office.  Only she only actually served about a half a week and our coffee date turned into a dinner date which, as it turns out, was really just a coffee date that left us both hungry (if you're interested in trying the new Sips on Main Street, just know they offer lunch, but not so much dinner - although their cupcakes looked wonderful).  And the coffee-turned-dinner-turned-coffee date became a coffee-turned-dinner-turned-coffee-and-a-movie date.

And while I was supposed to be the one treating her in honor of her first official job since graduation, it also turns out that our two chosen locations were cash only.  Therefore I now owe my sister-in-law $12 (or $11 if I'm being rude and making her pay the extra $1 for upgrading to the large drinks I chose, neither of which were actually finished, thereby making the $1 useless - but as it was my mistake, I can hardly deduct this from my tab) for the date I offered to take her on.

In essence, had this been an actual date, especially a first date, it would have gone terribly wrong.  It's a good thing we're all friends here and we can just chalk it up to a fun, adventurous night on the town - the crazy, hoppin' town of Shawnee.  And hey, at least I opened her door for her after the movie.  That would have scored me points, right?

It's a good thing I'm not a guy.  I'd still be single.

13 January 2011

Of Playing the Sweet Baby Card

I believe I've mentioned within the past couple of days, my son, who just over a week ago slept until 10am on his own, no paci, no rocking, just sleeping, reverted, only two days later, to a seemingly endless stream of 6:30 wake-up calls. 


That's all I can say to that. 

Therefore, as I listen to the beeping of my husband's alarm, I'm stumbling into Emmett's room, pulling him from the crib as quickly as my weary arms can lift his chunkiness so as to, hopefully, prevent him from waking his sister at this absurd hour, and carrying him back to our room where he enjoys breakfast in bed while we both fall back to sleep.

This has been our routine for the last week.

And while the waking up earlier part is not the best (and the nursing him back to sleep isn't the most "Baby Wise" response), I'll admit there are worse things to wake up to when my eyes flutter open again later in the morning.  Seeing his chubby little face smooshed against our mattress, his perfect lips forming that adorable "o" babies get when they're snoozing peacefully, makes me realize once again, every morning, that if being a little sleepy later in the day is because of this sweet face breathing in mine - well, who am I to complain?

That's not even the best part (ok, maybe it's tied for the best part).  When he finally does wake up again (Sleeping Beauty typically rises from his second slumber around 10 - yes, jealousy is a factor for some of us in this home), he always wakes up happy - he saves his biggest grins for the person who finds him waking in Mommy and Daddy's bed. 

Goodness I love that boy.

12 January 2011

Of Daily Renewal

The peace which overcame me yesterday morning as I spent time in the Word did, indeed, carry with me throughout the day.

I found I spent less time on the computer and more time twisting with my daughter to the "Purple People Eater" station on Pandora (which quickly, due to my penchant for the thumbs up button and ear for good, clean fun, became just plain oldies) while she donned her tutu and fairy wings (the only appropriate attire for swinging to the oldies for those females under the age of five in this house).

Less time doing busy work and more time sitting in the glider in her room (which hasn't had quality usage since she stopped nursing in the middle of the night) while she watched Toy Story on VHS on her tiny TV (which is almost NEVER used) and rocked on her hand-made wooden rocking horse (not hand-made by anyone in this house, mind you - we're not blessed with that kind of talent) and Emmett sat near her chewing a teddy bear.

Less "let Mommy help you"  and more "want to help Mommy"? 

Discipline moments became teachable moments.

I know it sounds almost as if the Beav, joined by big brother Wally, came over that afternoon to hang out, but it really was the kind of day Stay-at-Home Moms dream of.  And it all started with peace.

This morning, as a Wednesday morning, was another time of trying to get the three of us ready to head out the door at a time that would only make us reasonably late to Bible Study (rather than obnoxiously late).  Therefore, due to lack of discipline in pulling myself out of bed when Emmett was done with breakfast, and, instead, my sending him off with Daddy (who, unfortunately, has no choice between sleeping in or starting his day), I missed my daily time of basking in the Holy Spirit (which, quite honestly, has been missed rather often lately).  I tried, instead, to draw upon the "leftovers" from yesterday.  While it semi-worked and I had a semi-peace-filled day, I also noticed a lot of not-peace-filled responses from myself to very insignificant events.

Thus, I'm learning my lesson.  I can't survive on leftovers.  If I intend to live a life of Holiness, characterized by peace, I need to return to habitually weaving myself into God with the dawn of each new day - not just when I "get the chance."  I suppose you could say I'm downright resolute.  I know it's two weeks overdue and by this point most everyone else has given up on their commitments for the year, but is it too late to jump on the bandwagon.  At least there's more room now, right?

11 January 2011

Of Glory

As I slide open the shades over the back door, brilliant light pours over the floor. The morning glory fills the room. I turn to my Bible, gliding over it's pages while a radiant Light pours over my soul. The Morning Glory fills my being.


In the midst of clean laundry - some folded, some waiting to be touched by the worker's hands - and scattered toys - awaiting the joy of a child's touch - God has granted me this moment of peace. A sliver of time as thin and beautiful as the shard of green light slicing the couch cushion as sunlight bounces from a tiny disc of metallic garland - remnants of a celebration of our Savior's birth. For a mother suffering a slew of six-thirty wake-up cries and a son who returns to slumber as his sister stirs, this moment of calm, of silence, seems almost stolen. But a thief does not know this kind of rejuvenation. Restoration direct from the Source.

In a fleeting moment, the silence is broken. A tiny, yet forceful and feminine, voice cuts through the calm, singing the sweet song of innocence. A tune remembered, but words forgotten, filled with the melody of love she'll always know - "mommy" and "daddy" - words more beautiful to her - and to me - than the twinkling of a little star.

The quiet moment is over.

But the peace remains.

10 January 2011

Of My Best Friend

I tease my husband a lot.  He's a dork.  He knows it (though still defends himself in his love for all things nerdy).  And when he forgets, I like to remind him.  But the reality is, I wouldn't have him any other way.

He's my best friend.

He's the one person in the entire world with whom I am completely, unapologetically myself.  For better or worse.  He has not once made me feel an idiot for something I've said or done (I only wish I could say the same for how I've treated him - we're working on it).

Tonight, as I headed to the E.R. for inexplicable pain (which is, apparently, nothing - but that's not the point), there was only one person I wanted by my side.  And not because I was afraid or too sick to do anything on my own, but because I wanted his company.  He is my support and a great source of comfort.

When I feel dumb for apparently being a hypochondriac, he assures me it's just fine and I didn't do anything wrong.  In fact, when I first told him I was in pain, he took it seriously - more seriously than I did in the beginning.  If he had come to me with the same complaints, I would have implied he was a whiner and it couldn't be as bad as he thought. 

I have a lot of work to do before I hope to be the kind of spouse and friend to my husband as he has consistently been to me.

Thank you, Lord, for sending me a friend, confidante, companion and partner of whom I am completely unworthy.

09 January 2011

Of My Boy

Emmet's becoming such a little person.  As in, he's not just a baby anymore.  He's not the one who simply lays there and sleeps or wakes up and eats or sucks on his paci. 

He's actually showing more of his individual person-hood.  As he sits on his Daddy's lap, he babbles away.  Taking after his Momma, he talks with his hands.  Philip feels as though Emmett is, with the stern look on his face and the very determined fist-shaking, sharing the vast injustices to babies world-wide.  Of course, when I break out the video camera, he stops.  And then he gives his Daddy this look that says, "You weren't listening to a word I said were you?"  At which point we determine one of these gross injustices was the continual demand for babies to act as performing monkeys in front of a camera lens.  Oops.  So we put the camera away.

The paparazzi returned later in the evening, though, despite the protests from our son, because he had his first taste of peas for dinner.  Unlike his sister who expressed her extreme distaste for foreign flavors from the first bite (although always relented to the fact that we were, in fact, presenting her with food which is, of course, better than the lack-of-food option), he made no indication of recognition that this green stuff entering his mouth was even any different than what he was used to.  What did he care?  It was food.  And food is good.


08 January 2011

Of Missing Something

Our little family of four did celebrate Epiphany this week.  We had a stress-free, calm day of doing things a little out of the ordinary.  There were Beignets for breakfast (new recipes just make me a happy girl - especially when they taste like funnel cake - seriously), a little bit of painting in the afternoon and presents around the fireplace (which, as a gas-powered fireplace, sadly, does not crackle) after dark. 

Relaxing?  Yes.

The feel I had been going for?  Not exactly.

I do need to put out there that I tried my very best to do away with all visions of grandeur, recognizing that my attempts to fulfill a specific photograph in my mind only end in stress for all involved and a very disappointed me.  So, no, we weren't in our finest clothes - it was a p.j. day all around.  And, no, we didn't have a fancy dinner - hamburgers and pasta it was - with a hot dog for the little one because it didn't feel like the day to argue (and we only had two pre-made hamburgers, anyway).  But all this I loved - it freed me to let go of high expectations in favor of living in the loving moment with my family.

Where the nagging feeling came from wasn't that we were doing something wrong, but that we were missing something.

I was thrilled to lay down a path toward a meaningful family tradition, but what we lost was the "meaningful."

This day of Epiphany was originally designed (centuries before we ever gathered around our tree) as remembrance for the Wise Men, but more so, a remembrance of Jesus Christ as the gateway for, not just the Isrealite people, but for the Gentiles as well - with whom we all, who are not Jewish by heritage, classify ourselves.  Jesus Christ is the reason we, as a race not originally belonging to God's "chosen people," celebrate, not only the Christmas season, but a year-long, life-long connection with our Creator.  This is what Epiphany is all about. 

But this was not was not what our epiphany was all about.  In fact, our day didn't even involve a family prayer beyond meal-times and bed-times.  Which is why, at the end of the day, I was left feeling . . . just a little empty, I suppose.

Yet, that was just one day.

Holiness isn't confined to one day. 

Here's to 357 more days in 2011 to "get it right" - or at least to aim for the goal.

07 January 2011

Of the Order of Importance

Tonight I'm playing with my new toy - typing this post on my shiny new iPad which arrived at my front door this very afternoon. Lest I lead anyone down the erroneous thought-path that I could actually afford this pricey and most unnecessary piece of technology, I actually won this in a sweepstakes - an unexpected, yet fun, blessing.

The delivery man rang the doorbell just in time, too, as I was in the midst of a lazing session and was highly unmotivated to pick myself up off the couch to pick up our scattered belongings before impending company. You should have seen me, though, fly from the couch at the sound of the ringing bell - I had a sneaking suspicion of what could be waiting. And I promised myself this would be my motivation, I couldn't play until I had cleaned.

And then my son woke up.

First a little frustrated at his waking earlier than necessary, my priorities quickly shifted when I heard the sound of his cry - not the normal I'm-still-sleepy cry or the stick-a-paci-in-me-and-I'll-be-fine cry, but a wail filled with the echoes of a stuffy nose and a drainage-induced hoarseness. My little boy was sick and all I wanted to do was anything motherly possible to quench that ache inside him.

There were no apps to download, e-books to read or silly games to play.

Just my son.

And he needed me.

And, in that moment, being there for him was all I needed - all I wanted - to do.

Funny how children completely redefine the essence of importance.

06 January 2011

Of Resolve

It's kind of ironic, I suppose, that the one of the most common New Year's Resolutions is to be more organized - which means there are millions out there on a quest to gain some kind of sanity in their surroundings - and here I am, resolved not to waste my time with wishful thinking and, thereby, a semi-anti-resolutionist, actually becoming more organized - not because the calendar tells me it's time, but because Christmas presents have moved in and something had to change.

Therefore, my sister-in-law and I spent the kids' nap-times this afternoon re-vamping and transposing my linen, game and movie cabinets.  Things found homes, sheets got folded (thanks, Dayla!) and my heart got a little happier. 

The toys threatening to mutiny for control of the living room, however, remain a very fearsome force with which to reckon. 

Tomorrow's another day . . .

Of Thought

Due to a Blogger malfunction, I was unable to post last night.  Had all things been working properly, here’s what I would have said:

My Love Language is evidence of thought.  I’m sorry, Mr. Chapman, but I had to ad lib a little. 
You see, once upon a time I thought my primary and secondary languages were Acts of Service and Quality Time.  I snobbishly believed anyone who needed Gifts to feel loved must be materialistic and superficial.  It was not for another couple of years, when I was finally in love, that I realized the truth.  My primary love language was Gifts.  

I loved bringing Philip home a Jell-O cheesecake mix from the grocery store or taping thoughtful cards to his steering wheel while he was at work.  

And I lamented when I thought of the long-awaited flowers I was never brought.

Why did it bother me so much?  To not receive something that would only die soon anyway?  I don’t care about things, so why do I care about gifts.  

And then I realized again – it’s not the object.  Just as with Acts of Service (my current secondary) – it’s not the clean dishes that result from the act.  It’s the thought behind it.  I don’t care if it’s vacuuming my car while I’m out of town (it felt wonderful, though!), or a silly CD of a Christmas musical I loved when I was a kid – it’s the fact that you were thinking of me.  

And more than that – you were thinking of me so much you wanted to do one thing that you just knew would make me happy.

That’s what makes me feel truly loved.

So, tonight, when Philip said he had an idea of what we could do when the chores were complete, but it was a little “dorky,” I didn’t care what it was – it could have been digging holes in the backyard for all I cared.  All I knew was that for once, it wasn’t me making the plans.  

It was my husband.  

My husband contemplating what he thought would really make for a wonderful and unique evening.  

And it was.

Freshly popped microwave popcorn, a couple bottles of soda, a laptop with an extension cord 
running from the outlet in the wall of the garage to the center console of the car, a couple of pillows and a Slanket in the backseat and a husband to snuggle with.  It didn’t even matter that the movie wasn’t that fabulous.  

My husband wanted our own private drive-in.  

And that had evidence of thought.

And now I’m kind of feeling warm and fuzzy inside.

04 January 2011

Of Hanging On

In the past I've been eager to get Christmas decorations up (but only after Thanksgiving), but when we're into the New Year they tend to seem so overdue and out of place.  It typically feels strange having a tree in my living room past December 26 (even though we're usually not home to deal with it until after January 1st anyway).

This year, I'm at January 4th and the stockings are still hung from the chimney with care, our tree sits serenely in the corner and has been lit for the past couple of evenings.  Although my sister-in-law gifted me an entire set of seasonal banners, including "Happy New Year", "Let it Snow", and "LOVE" - any one of which would be appropriate at this time of year, the one I hung from the mantle when we arrived home January 2nd?  "Merry Christmas"

I'm not sure what happened to me this time around, but festooning my home in Christmas garb the second week of November?  Having no desire to take it down the first week of January?  Apparently I'm having a rough time letting go of Christmas.

What I've loved most about this Christmas above all others is I found myself really connecting with the purpose of Christmas - with the reality of the Christ child fulfilling God's promise and connecting the lowly Gentiles, not just those of God's original chosen people, but everyone with our Creator, bringing grace to the world - a concept that was completely foreign to anyone of that time.  God in flesh.

It matters not how many times I've sung the carols or seen the phrase denoting the Reason for the Season, it just never seemed to hit me the way it did this year.

And I'm not wanting to lose the reminders, I suppose.

So with that, a Merry Christmas to all . . .

03 January 2011

Of Sitting Up

Our son's newest milestone is his ability to sit up on his own.  Granted, he's far from being a super-star sitter, but he's progressing.

This means I can now sit him down with a toy in front of him and it may be a full minute before he begins to wobble.  And unlike a Weeble, this kid's falling down.  Usually he's soft enough to avoid smacking his forehead on the floor.  Usually.

He's also enjoying a lot more tummy time (keyword: enjoying), quickly stuffing anything within reach or rolling distance firmly into his wide open mouth.  And, though our Christmas travels did a number on his sleeping skills, he's quickly regaining them in the presence of his typical schedule.  

That's our man in a nutshell - our six-month-old little man.  Time is soaring!

02 January 2011

Of Individualism

Yes, my two-year-old is a parrot.  I might as well carry her on my shoulder. 

A couple of days ago, after hearing her daddy ask his own dad if he'd heard something she stood in the doorway yelling, just like Daddy, "Dad, you hear Mom?!" and was very persistent until she received a response.  And for the next couple of hours, no matter what she was told, Grandy was "Dad" - that's what her own father had called him, anyway.

Situations such as these leave us careful of how we word things and thoughtless phrases we throw out - wanting to snatch them back before she can catch them.

Other times, though, rather than seeing a tiny mirror of ourselves, we're left thinking, "Where did that come from?!" 

For instance, when we hand her a Christmas present and instruct her to "shake it." Rather than watching our little girl listen intently for rattling in the box we see, instead, her tiny little hips shaking with all they've got.  Where did that come from?

Or how she's recently decided, when reciting her animal sounds, to make an addition to her repertoire - a giraffe, apparently, says, "Ah-oo."  Where did that come from?

There are so many instances when I just can't pinpoint the moment she was explicitly taught (or even exposed to) something and, yet, she knows it (or makes it up).  A wake-up call to the fact that I am not the only influential factor in my daughter's life.  At such a young age she is already becoming an individual - departing ever so slightly from us, creating her own ideas, decisions and actions. 

I pray, though she continues to be her unique self, we may make such an impression on her that she makes the choice to follow in our faith footsteps, if nothing else.

01 January 2011

Of New Year Hopes

In 2011, I pray for . . .

less selfishness and more service.

fewer things and more self-less giving.

first steps and first hugs.

falling more in love - with God, my husband, and my children.

continued family health.

guidance in the big decisions and wisdom in the little ones.

a warm home and full bellies.

a further awakening to reality of grace.