28 February 2011

Of Our Chatterbox

I tell my husband all the time, "I hate to say this, honey, but your son is a cry-baby."

He shrugs.

We both know it's true.

Last night, though, was different.  Crying, for some reason, I can handle.  Because there's a "solution."  Even if it takes awhile to find it; I know that if he's cold, I can cover him up; if he's hungry, I feed him; if he's too hot, I peel back the layers; if he's soaking wet, we do a wardrobe change - simple enough, right?  What do I do, though, if he's keeping me up in the middle of the night, but he's not crying. 

What if he's just talking to himself - babbling, with a lot of sleepy moaning thrown in for good measure?  There's really not a fix for early (early) morning whining is there? 

Just call him Mr. Chatterbox.  I guess it beats a cry-baby.  Maybe.

27 February 2011

Of Our Wiggle Worm

Emmett has begun the next stages toward becoming a mobile little man.  He has got the army crawl nailed.  And his little feet and knees go a long way toward getting him to where he wants to go. 

I attempted to get video of his wiggling, but, as it turns out, taking a toy away from a baby in order to tempt him to move toward it only makes him cry.  And then, when his sister picks up said toy while you command her to put it down and she, instead, gives it back to him, forcing you to take it away again to put just out of reach, causing him to scream even louder, well, that's just cruel and will make you feel like the world's worst Mommy ever.  Trust me.   So, no video for now.

But believe me, he is working on this becoming an independent man thing.  Now, if he could just learn to pull himself up to his hands, rather than shimmying along on his elbows, he'd be racing around the house faster than we could blink.

Perfect timing for me to become a Cleanie, wouldn't you say? ;)

26 February 2011

Of Keeping it Short

I am so grateful for a husband who will stay home with the kids while I run around being a normal human being, doing things like going to Christian rock concerts with my sister-in-law - for nine hours on a Saturday.  He's pretty much the greatest.  And I'm pretty much tired and have ringing in my ears.  So . . . good night, y'all.

25 February 2011

Of Becoming a Cleanie

I've mentioned previously a book I had recently begun reading entitled "Living Organized." The photo on the cover depicting neatly stacked pastel boxes drew me in.  I'm kind of a sucker for boxes and baskets of all sorts - ask my husband.  And the concept of organization has always fascinated me - as in, I love to dream up (and sometimes go so far as to implement) various tactics for keeping my things orderly, but often find the system only works if you put work into it - which, let's face it, sounds like a lot of hassle for a lazy girl, such as myself.  Besides, I can't re-organize if my things are already well-organized, right?  It's a sick cycle into which I put myself.

So, back to the book.  I have only read the first couple of chapters, but there was one concept the author mentioned that has stuck with me and revolutionized my life already, in the short few days since I first read them.  "Messies," as she calls those struck by my plight, tend to do all things necessary to avoid "frustration" now, but, in the end, only cause more frustration later.  As in, I don't feel like putting my shoes away when I take them off because it's not convenient.  But when it's time to walk out the door and I can't find that other brown shoe, more time and emotion is wasted than would have been if I'd simply put them in my closet when I removed them two days ago.

Suddenly, I find myself constantly questioning my motives.  "What can I do now to avoid frustration later?"

And it's working.

I'm daily vacuuming, making my bed, re-filling the ice cube trays.  And, amazingly, I can relax daily, knowing my floor has been cleaned and relieving myself of the stress which comes from being surrounded by crumbs, shreds of paper and grass tracked in.  I less often have to deal with the annoyance of an empty ice cube bin when all I want to do is sit down to dinner.  I can crawl into an orderly bed without tugging sheets into place.

And, most importantly, I can have guests over without having had to spend the entire day frantically putting things back into place which could have been returned to their homes long ago.

Is this what every day life is like for the "Cleanies"?  Why, on earth, have I been avoiding this for so long?  Crazy, I tell you, crazy.

24 February 2011

Of Welcoming Spring (Maybe)

About three weeks ago, a furry rodent residing in Pennsylvania predicted, in the absence of being scared away by his shadow, an early spring.  Let's be honest, those of us shuttered inside by one of the most intense snow-storms known to the great state of Oklahoma (and those outside of the state also receiving the brunt of said blizzard) were a little skeptical of our friend Punxsutawney Phil.  Spring didn't so much appear to be on the horizon from where we were sitting, bundled on the couch gorging ourselves on an overabundance of readily available entertainment provided by our Netflix subscription.  No sir, it almost seemed winter had just gotten started.

And yet, I've begun to wonder if that easily-frightened little vermin wasn't on to something.  Not days after the second round of the storm blew threw, we donned short sleeves while the final piles of snowflakes melted into the grass.  Today we enjoyed the first thunderstorm of the season along with the endearing twittering (the natural kind, not the technological sort) of birds as they greedily hunted the soggy soil for unearthed worms.  As I enjoyed the warmth, streaming through our open windows, of the brightening day while the clouds rolled away, I sighed.  Spring, it would seem, is upon us already.

Then, suddenly, I felt a certain chill through those same opened windows.  And by the darkened hour of night, a (fully-zipped) coat was necessary to ward off the bite of these 36 degrees. 

Really, winter?  Is it gonna be like that?

Sorry, Phil, looks like we're going to have to wait a bit while this battle between the seasons plays out.

23 February 2011

Of Training

When your child, through her sniffles, tears and snotty nose, asks to snuggle after a very frustrating hour of tantrums and bouts of discipline, heads butting against one another, your heart sighs. 

It's a moment of freshness, starting anew. 

A minute to simply rest on the couch, holding your toddler like you've rarely done since she learned to move around on her own and, thereby, had a choice.  She nestles her head into your chest and you cover her curly hair in every kiss you have.  And you sway just a little.

When she offers up in the tiniest voice a request to watch her favorite cartoon, you stick to your guns - the punishment stands.  And she knows it.  And does not argue.  Simply accepts.

And snuggles.

You realize it may have been worth the struggle.  Because this parenting thing isn't always about the now.  It's about treasuring the moment in which we live, but also about storing up treasures for the future of our young ones. 

And sometimes there are tough moments. 

But we know.  Deep in our hearts. 

We're living in the now, but training for the then.

22 February 2011

Of Appreciating Gifts

Tonight I made (almost from scratch) a crab ravioli with tomato-cream sauce.  Philip and I were fans.  Micaiah took a bite, choked it down and declared, "I don't like it!"  Three and half minutes later, she was clapping, "Yay!  A hot dog!" 

Now, typically she eats what we eat, like it or not, but if she's not going to appreciate quality food that took me time and love to prepare (and that I think is darn good), I don't want to waste it on her under-developed toddler taste buds.  When she was younger I did the same with things like crescent rolls - things Philip and I love and will eat every last crumb of.  To an eighteen-month old, bread is bread.  So she had her some sliced Wonder while we devoured our flaky goodness.  Selfish?  Yes.  But there's only so long we can get away with making the switch like that - in fact, our non-crescent-sharing days are already behind us. 

But it all got me thinking.

I am so glad our Heavenly Father isn't as stingy as we can be as parents.  It's a wonder that He chooses to share the marvel of his creation - the splendor of a sunset, the resonance of a sweet rain, the glistening of a brand new snowfall - with His children, who, most of the time, act like spoiled toddlers, too immature to truly appreciate what we have been given.  Much like the joy of a hot dog when faced with culinary art, we trade the whisper of a breeze through the grass for the tin sound emitting from our computer speakers; we swap the glorious colors of a blooming flower for the glare of a television screen.  "Yay!  Noise!  Yay!  Distraction!"  It makes me wonder why He wastes His time.

I've been working toward Thankful living these days.  Noticing the beauty that surrounds me in the here and now.

The beauty of today included tiny fingers pouring M&M's into a bowl of cookie dough (and splattered egg white on a stunned toddler face), sunshine and a cool breeze between the car and the superstore wasteland, and, of course, this face:

I am grateful.  Grateful that God shares with me what I am often too busy to notice.  Thank you, Lord, for not giving up on us.

21 February 2011

Of Being a Follower

My little girl is such an independent Miss Priss.  When she's at home.  Or just around others her age.

But put her in a setting with any child slightly older than her and my little bossy pants becomes such a follower.  This three-year-old is running around screaming?  Clearly I must run around and scream, too.  This three-year-old is blowing into the most obnoxiously loud recorder known to man?  I must do the same (right in Mommy's ear, of course).

Truly, it's not all bad.  I actually enjoy seeing her getting along with others and being a favorite play-mate (for her pliability, of course - who doesn't want a life-size Barbie doll?).  I enjoy the smile on her face as she joins in the games of others. 

And I know when the tables are turned, she is the model of a wonderfully bossy older friend.

It's all about the hierarchy of toddler-hood.

20 February 2011

Of Right-Brain Tendencies

While Emmett honed his fine motor skills this evening, learning how to put his first tastes of peach-mango flavored puffs into his tiny mouth, and Micaiah worked on finishing her dinner (a task she was reluctant to complete), I pulled out the iPad and began flipping through a free e-book I downloaded longer ago than I can remember - something about living organized and ridding my life of clutter, a task any visitor to my home can attest to my needing to do.

The first chapter focused on the differences between right-brained and left-brained thinking, getting to the very root of the "mess" issue - those who are dominated by the right portion of their brains, according to the book, are inherently averse to order, or, perhaps just incapable of maintaining neat.  While every personality test I have ever taken has always had a difficult time defining me - I always come out nearly perfectly balanced, not fitting definitively into any one box (and I maybe kind of like that unpredictability) - it would appear that my ability (or inability) to keep house would be one of my better-exemplified right-brain characteristics (though my adoration for alphabetical organization points me toward the left-brain camp).

While I pondered this dual personality I seem to possess, I looked up to see my somewhat anal-retentive daughter - who can sometimes get in trouble for being too precise when putting things away and very much enjoys washing her hands - painting her face in ketchup, using her chicken nugget as a brush.  My first instinct was to stop her, scolding her for playing with her food rather than eating her green beans as she'd been instructed, but before I could follow through, I stopped myself.  Clearly she was expressing her own tidbits of right-brain creativity, and who was I, in that moment, to stop her from being herself just because it made life a little messy?

Sometimes it's nice to set the rules aside in favor of fun and freedom.

(And, yes, she had a bath shortly after.)

19 February 2011

Of a Growing Boy

Our little man is so chubby. 

I've known he was big for a long time now, but he's always just seemed "big for his age" - meaning he wasn't really fat for a baby, he just looked older than he was.  He was proportional in his bigness.

Recently I've noticed his legs outgrowing the rest of him.  While his arms and belly are typically baby-fat, his legs appear to have been injected at some point with jelly.  There are rolls and knee dimples - the works.  And it's just plain cute.

Beyond his jiggly thighs (and calves), he's growing up in other ways.  He's laughing for more than just his sister these days, but it still requires work.  His smiles are free; a giggle is going to cost you.  Typically it's a few rounds of peek-a-boo or a good solid tickle, but sometimes you have to pull out all the stops and go for both at once, pulling out the big guns to really get that jelly rolling.

But it's always worth it.  To see his two perfect teeth poking out from his infectious grin and hear the deep belly laugh coming from his gut - these are the moments we work for as parents.  These are the moments that make all of the rest of it worth it.

18 February 2011

Of Minutes

525,600 minutes. This refrain from the musical Rent has been echoing through my mind a lot lately.  Every time I hear Micaiah say, "Mommy, look!"  or  "Help me, Mommy" and I listen to myself respond, for the umpteenth time that day, "Just a minute, Baby." 

525,600 minutes.

It's never just a minute.  It's a minute while I set the final dish in the dishwasher.  Another minute while I run some dish soap over the pan that has to be hand-washed.  Still another minute as I refill the ice cube trays.  But then I hear Emmett crying and I know he needs to be fed.  "Just a minute, Baby."  While I blend together mashed bananas with Mommy's milk and a little bit of infant oatmeal, my daughter waits.  Waits for her minute.

525,600 minutes.

And they go by so quickly.  Before I know it, it's been an hour that my daughter has been waiting for her train track to be set up.  Or to sit on the couch and snuggle with Mommy.  "Just a minute; I'll be right there, Baby."

525,600 minutes.

Meanwhile, the minutes spent washing dishes which will be dirtied by the end of an hour or cleaning counters which will have crumbs before we settle in for lunch are minutes that could have been spent holding my daughter in my arms.  Or hearing sidewalk chalk scribble across the driveway.  "Mommy, I want to color sunshine."  "Ok, Baby."  As her arms reach as high as they can go and I realize she literally wants to touch her crayon to the heat of the sun, I know, this is not a minute wasted.

525,600 minutes.

That's all I have before this time next year - when she won't need my help with the potty, she may not care about Buzz and her dragon, and she won't be surprised to peek behind the flaps of her Dora book.  Maybe these changes won't happen by next year, but how many of these years do I have left?  Or, for that matter, how many of those 525,600 minutes am I even guaranteed beyond the one I am living right now?

May I measure this year as 525,600 moments cherished rather than minutes spent waiting.

17 February 2011

Of a Covering of Love

"Love covers a multitude of sins."  It's a phrase I've heard often (though my high school Spanish teacher's version sounded more like, "Money hides a lot of ugly," but I digress).  My children exemplify this blindess of love with one another.

I cannot tell you how many times I've seen Micaiah smothering Emmett and just as I'm about to scold her, I'll stop mid-"Stop; you're going to hurt your brother!" to see that he's actually giggling.  The same goes for hugs that more closely resemble sleeper holds or bopping him with her princess wand. 

And today I saw the situation reversed. 

While plucking away at the computer, I heard a little squeal from the floor.  I peeked over the top of my laptop screen enough to realize Emmett had a fist filled with his sister's hair (which was still attached).  I fully expected to hear from my oft-cranky, possessive daughter a scream of pain and a yell of, "No, Emmett!!!  Is my hair!"  It was then, just as I began to pounce from the couch to rescue her curly locks, I noticed, rather than squeals of discomfort, it was squeals of delight I was hearing as she wiggled around on the ground in front of him.  She didn't mind one bit that his fist was squeezed tighter than a fat man's speedo.  She was just enjoying her time with Emmett.

Their love is truly the most forgiving.

16 February 2011

Of Mushy Minded Blogging

The title just about says it all.  If you came looking for my best today, you might want to check out some of the posts listed in my sidebar, because you are not getting my A-Game tonight, folks.  I apologize here and now.

For the past couple of days I've been wanting to document a few of my more favorite quirks my children currently display.  I know these won't last forever and before I know it I'll have forgotten all about days like today.  This is me cherishing the moment:

  • From the day Emmett first discovered his wrist, he has used it to his full advantage.  Well, maybe not advantage, but entertainment at the very least.  His favorite form of communication is sticking his arms in the air and rotating those wrists like a mad man.  If he's happy, you'll see a hand wiggling in the air.  An angry Emmett will get you a wild fist, but a really excited little man will stick two arms as high as they'll go with both wrists moving as fast as he can get them.  It's one of the cutest things in the world.
  • When Micaiah has to use the restroom (and she actually thinks to tell us, which isn't often), she'll say, "I need un-erwear." Apparently she's noticed the changing of the underwear happens frequently (as in, when she doesn't tell us and we forget that it's probably time).  
  • Both of my kids are fans of "The Itsy Bitsy Spider" - probably because Mommy tickles them whenever she mentions rain.  They kind of like that part.
  • Micaiah loves story-time.  And for awhile, she was very specific about it happening on Mom and Dad's bed, but recently she's been ok with using the futon in Emmett's room.
  • Micaiah hates the crust on her bread.  She won't eat it.  This frustrates me, but I pick my battles and bread crust just doesn't seem like a hill to die on.
  • Emmett loves television.  Already.  This makes me sad.  This also makes me reach for the remote when he's angry and I just need a few more minutes to get his food ready.
  • Micaiah can count - just not in order.  She often sounds like a quarterback, "One, Fourteen, Twenty-Nine, Ninety-Nine . . ."
  • Emmett can be screaming his adorable head of hair off while getting his diaper changed, but if I stick a board book in front of his face, all's quiet on the western front while he reaches for the pages of cardboard.
  • Micaiah is not a fan of pet names.  We can call her "sweetie pie," "hon bun," "baby bear" or any one of the hundreds of odd names I pull out of thin air and we always get the same response, "No, I Micaiah!"
  • Micaiah also has the most proper pronunciation of the word, "Yes" right now - she always puts a large emphasis on the "s" and it's pretty cute.
That's all I can think of.  I know there is so much more about my kids that make them who they are - the little things you just can't put your finger on, but it's the reason you can't help but scoop them up in your arms for giant bear hugs.  The reason you just can't get enough.  But we'll just leave at this for now.

I'm putting this mind of mush to bed.

15 February 2011

Of Cleaning for Others

Here is my sad confession of the day:  My motto for cleaning my home today (which is showing the aftermath of a Mommy who was sick for a weekend on the tail of a couple of snow days) was, "Clean as if someone were coming."

I have come to realize that I often tell myself and others that I just haven't had the time to clean.  Truth be told, however, that if I am told in the morning we will have guests that evening, I can have a clean house by the deadline - lights dimmed, candles lit even (sometimes to hide a little dirt, but that's just between us).  If we were having weekend guests, the house might even shine and, while it would take some sweat, it would be entirely feasible.

So, why is it not feasible when it's just us?  Just the Rowland clan lounging around?   Part of this is because a full-scale, whirlwind whisking of clutter requires a lack of attention to the small things - and by small things, I mean the ones that say "Mommy" and tend to prefer an interactive care-taker, no matter how much they love Dora the Explorer. 

The other part is . . . I'm good at excuses.  The ones that sound like, "You deserve a break," or "Philip will help you when he gets home."  I throw those out the window when I'm up against the ropes, but on a calm day, the sirens of sloth and self-indulgence sing to me.  And their melody is lovely.

So today, after the munchkins were snuggled in for their naps, I drowned out the voices with the tunes of The House FM and got to work on the kitchen.  I saw portions of my counter top which have been hidden since December (as evidenced by the Christmas-themed sugar cookies which finally found the trash can).   I actually feel like I can do something useful in my kitchen and I have the space to do it (ok, I felt that way . . . and then I made dinner . . . so hopefully by the time I get to bed, I'll be able to feel that way again).

Thus, my goal is that by this weekend, our home will be ready for our imaginary house-guests - who will definitely appreciate shining counter tops, organized bedrooms and fluffy towels.  They are so welcome.

14 February 2011

Of Valentines (of course)

Growing up, Valentine's Day was always a favorite day for me.  While other girls groaned and spoke of boycotts, wearing black or quickly finding a poor sap who would adore her for a day, I looked forward to that one morning a year when I would hurry downstairs for breakfast to see what my Valentine, my first Valentine, my Daddy, had left for me (and my siblings, of course). 

Baskets for Easter, stockings for Christmas, - these were my Mom's domain (oh, I'm sorry, I mean these were taken care of by some furball and a fat guy) - and she did a great job, but there was just something about that Valentine's Day gift from Daddy - whether it be the pure white teddy bear with red bows by her ears, or the tiny African Violet growing in a miniature flower pot, suspended over a clear prism filled with water - that just lit my heart.  Perhaps it was that on a day all about love, I was being spoken to in my love language.  Maybe it was that this seemed the one day of the year when we were given something that was selected solely by our father - a card just from him and a small trinket that said, "I'm thinking of you on this day dedicated to that most pure of emotions."

Whatever it was, it made me love Valentine's Day.  Single for all the 21 years before I met my husband, I would still wander the halls of school, my hair curled (back before it began doing it on its own, this actually required work), donning a skirt and red sweater, my favorite shoes, heart blissfully singing.  I was loved. 

And beyond my own feelings of belonging, I was learning that Valentine's Day wasn't reserved for that one special someone who I had yet to meet - it was a day for everyone - everyone who is loved by anyone - a daughter, friend, sister, aunt, cousin or grandparent. 

Thus, while I thoroughly enjoyed spending this evening curled up by the fireplace (which was turned off - yes we have a fake fire controlled by a switch - due to the extremity of the heat) with my media naranja, dipping raw meat and bell peppers into a fondue pot filled with heated oil, I also enjoyed making my daughter a lunch of heart-shaped peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches and sliced strawberries (which, of course, also resembled hearts) and dressing myself and my children in our V-Day best to deliver chocolate to a much-loved sister-in-law.

And since I couldn't visit each of you personally, go grab the nearest piece of sugary goodness, indulge and know I'm wishing you a Happy Valentine's Day.  You are loved.

(And of course, who wouldn't have a great day with this little cupid fluttering [and by fluttering I mean wiggling] about our home?)

13 February 2011

Of Camping Out in the Living Room

When I was little, playing a game in the "tent" in the middle of a winter afternoon would typically entail a deck of cards under a blanket spread nicely over our card table (and, if we were getting ultra fancy, we'd throw in another couple of sheets and some folding chairs and even make sure the 13-inch T.V. and nearby V.C.R. were incorporated into the tent interior - no, we weren't exactly Little House on the Prairie, but it was the basement-edition of rustic to us).  Those were the days.  The days of, "Remember when?"

When my daughter says she wants to play a game in the tent, she literally means her tent.  The one purchased for her by Gram & Grandy, the one that requires construction by Daddy because tent poles are slightly outside of her realm of capability at this point (but so are blankets and folding chairs for that matter - at least if she's going to make anything useful out of them) - the tent that comes with the pop-up climbing tunnel and fold-back flaps.  And the game?  Rather than a round of war (hoping for the Walter Ace, of course), she'll just take the iPad, tuned to Mommy's taste of music while she plays electronic Memory.  Yes, my friends, times have changed.

12 February 2011

Of Life with Daddy

Their clothes are either too small or mis-matched (or both).

Emmett has been seen around the house wearing either shorts or nothing on his legs at all (in winter).

They're not eating what Mommy would have fixed for them at the times at which I would have done so.

They are watching inordinate amounts of television.

But what this Momma, now bed-ridden (from Strep, as it turns out) for two days, sees is this:

Micaiah is being encouraged to put her toys away when she's done with them (something I, admittedly, forget to ask of her).

They are well-fed (with fruits and veggies, even).

Daddy is playing "Memory" with Micaiah, perhaps more than he would like, but it never shows. All she sees is his shared excitement when she, indeed, finds the other rabbit.

Little boy is almost getting spoiled with smount of time he gets to spend in his Daddy's arms.

My husband knows how to take care of his family (even if it doesn't always look the same as when Mommy does it).

11 February 2011

Of Bedtime Buddies

Please excuse my absence yesterday. Suffering a strong case of tonsilitis, I headed to bed before the kids, even, and did not emerge from the bedroom until lunch-time today (and by "lunch-time" I mean the time at which Philip and Micaiah ate, as I wasn't quite ready). Meanwhile, Philip did an amazing job of playing stay-at-home mom. I even had the joy of hearing, "How do you do this every day?"

In other news, Micaiah has added a new toy to the bedtime routine: Philip's old Beanie Baby in the form of . . . A cat? No. An adorable teddy bear? No.

A dragon.

That's my non-girly girl. Makes a momma proud.

Thus, before lights out, the current commands are: "Say, 'I love you, Buzz; I love you, Dragon.'" And, thus, we do. Because that's the kind of parents we are.

09 February 2011

Of Stepping Stones

Emmett is moving his mobilization routine out of the crib and has begun hinting at a desire to be more active as he plays on the floor.  Today I even saw him inch his little knee along (though I would hardly call it an actual crawl, it was the closest yet).  I get both excited and nervous at the thought of my little mover and shaker literally moving and shaking.  On the one hand, crawling is a big milestone and those are always exciting.  On the other hand, I'm not precisely looking forward to actually having to keep up pace with two little ones scurrying about.  I still like being able to set my baby down and knowing where to find him later.  I suppose either way it's not up to me.  And this little boy will be moving along before we realize what hit us.

Today's Bonus Feature:  Our daughter has quite the funny bone.  This is the joke she made up all by herself yesterday:

"Knock, knock."
"Who's there?"
"It's me, Micaiah!"

I like her a lot.

08 February 2011

Of Questioning

I have just finished Chapter One of the book I have been staring at for the past three weeks, too scared to open.  Do you know the feeling?  You know something will be nourishing to your soul, but you're almost terrified of how it will change you.  Or, knowing the depth, you wait for just the right moment, because somehow it doesn't feel right diving into the deep-end of living an emptier, fuller life in God while your daughter cries about spilled milk and Elmo is on the T.V.  And, as this is where you live right now, it almost feels like no moment is the "right moment."  Maybe it's just me.

Only one chapter in - an introductory chapter really - and already seeds of growth have been planted.  The most noticeable seed begins with one idea - one that is not even an over-riding theme for the book, let alone the chapter, but clings to the soil of my mind nevertheless.  
The thought is this: it is sheer arrogance which leads us to believe that had God only chosen to write the story our way - the way that omits suffering, senseless death and pain - life - my life, the lives of those to follow after me - would have turned out better.  We tend to believe, in our questions of, "Why, God?" that our version would have had a happy ending.  

And what on earth, or below, causes us to think that we - who did nothing to create one hair on our heads or cell in our bodies, who cannot, for the life of us, quit doing that one thing that we always vow we won't do again, who spend our days judging, gossiping, criticizing and wallowing in bitterness or resentment, only to hide it all from the world behind a smiling facade - could possibly understand what "good" is or what a "happily ever after" truly looks like.  

And there is God in Heaven, the Creator of our beings, of all that is beautiful on this Earth, all-knowing, all-powerful, all-good, filled with Truth, orchestrating the most lovely of all symphonies and we have the audacity to question Him?

All of the above chastisement sounds strong and convicting, but when I consider the context - a context of pain I have never known, a pain which cripples me with fear when I contemplate its coming day - when the unthinkable happens and our very souls are torn to shreds, what other response is there, if not a questioning at the rightness of it all?

The answer this book offers is gratefulness.  A recognition of the overwhelming gifts with which God has blessed us which always seem to fade in the darkness of our pain, yet, when brought to focus, shed light on all around us.

My prayer is that I may make this thanksgiving such a part of me that I will not even consider another option, when the faith-shaking day arrives, but to fall on my knees in gratitude for what He has given, rather than what has been taken away.

Till this soil, Lord.  Grow this seed.  May this field of my heart produce a fruit that is pleasing to You.

07 February 2011

Of Adjusting Grace

I tend to forget that my children are people.  Though they may not be up to the same level of thought processing as their elder counterparts, they sure do hold the capacity for the same quality and intensity of emotions.  The only difference is that we hold our tantrums on the inside - or, sometimes, we unleash them in a hurtful tirade of words which are so much more painful than the crying and kicking utilized by the younger generation.

This is what I forget to take into account.  Though we express them differently, her emotions are no less valid than my own. 

Sometimes, on those days when all my inhibitions are released and all my ugliness comes flowing out, I need a little extra grace.  A tender hug.  A reminding that the world is not all bad and, no matter how unpleasant I can be, I am still loved.

And the same is true for her.

Sometimes, what she really needs, rather than another command to eat her breakfast while she sits in her lion-shaped booster seat wailing for no understandable reason, is to just sit in the lap of a loving parent, snuggled under a Slanket watching "Larry and Bob," grasping an empty yogurt cup now filled with dry cereal, alternating between feeding herself and feeding her momma. 

Because some days she's just a rougher version of herself.  And on days like these, we all need a little extra grace.

06 February 2011

Of Football Frenzy

We are die hard football fans in this house, as evidenced by the fact that the three adults spent about fifteen minutes this morning discussing and researching to determine exactly when the game was and on what channel.  Clearly, it's a high priority for us. 

Despite our indifference for the game, I did pull out of this unofficial national holiday an excuse to do a few things I've been looking for an excuse to do: try out a new cake recipe, use my beloved Pampered Chef batter bowl in a creative way and practice my decorating skills (with the Easy Accent Decorator, also from the Pampered Chef - if you're interested, I know a girl).  That's right, I funneled my lack of general sports interest* into a good cause and came out with a darn cute chocolate cake in the form of a football, laces, grass, and all.  Who says I'm not a fan?

Meanwhile, Emmett showed his manly colors today.  Just as the coin toss was about to occur, I set him on the floor (his favorite place, other than a lap, of course) to play with a few toys.  Did he eagerly grab for his light-up musical cube (a current hit)?  No.  He sat motionless, eyes glued to the screen.  He only looked away for a few seconds to glare at his Aunt Dia for making the comment that he was "going to be" a man's man.  Clearly, he's already there.  As proven by the fact that when the Packers took the field his arms went in the air (his aunt did a good job brain-washing he and his sister, who thought our discussion of the team meant she'd be getting crackers sometime soon, so I still say her vote was biased).

So, there, we participated, America.  Happy?

*For the sake of my pride, I would like to clarify: though the athletic arena overall generally fails to register as a blip on a my radar, I would like to make it known that I can watch a game and I have been known to be rather adamant about the team I choose at random (even if just for the colors or the fact that they're the underdogs - or both).  And I can follow a game enough to know that it's sad watching a Super Bowl (supposedly the best of the best) wherein the Steelers allow three turn-overs and miss a field goal (although acing the two-point conversion was nice) - and the Packers didn't bring their A-Game, either.  Just to be clear.

05 February 2011

Of Needing a Break

I don't think I realized until just this week how much I actually do get out of the house in a seven-day period.  And more than that, how much time I spend passing my children off to other people.  Any time we're at church (at this point it's a minimum of three times a week) - they're in the nursery.  When I have a girls' night - they're with Philip.  When we have a date, they're with Aunt Dia.  For anywhere from one to three hours, multiple times a week, I am free to converse and interact with other adults.  Free from the whining, the inexplicable crying, the unintelligible babbling I am intended to understand but really just frustrates both listener and speaker at the inability for true communication.

The interesting aspect to this is that I never realize how much I depend on these mommy-breaks throughout the week for keeping my sanity and my peaceful attitude with regards to my children.  Absence makes the heart grow fonder.

It is not until I am in a home all day every day for going on a week now with two adorable children who demand my undivided attention every waking moment of the day (and some that should be sleeping moments but for some reason aren't) that I finally begin to understand the need for rest.  A respite from insanity.

Thus, as I began the day, after a sleep-less night thanks to a son who apparently likes to talk in his sleep (a fact I never notice until we're sleeping in the same room for nights on end) and an attempt to find a solution to this "problem" which only leads to many waking hours for all involved, making breakfast for a daughter who seems to cry at every question or command these days, I found myself with the desire to shed a few tears as well.  I told myself when Philip got up, I'd ask him to take point today in the parenting department, because I just couldn't handle it anymore.

But I didn't ask him. 

Because the moment he came out of the bedroom, he whisked my son from the floor and demanded I go rest.  Two hours later, I opened my eyes to he and a happy baby sitting next to me, asking what the aforementioned happy baby needed to eat.  And then my husband fed my son cereal while I padded around in p.j.'s for the fifth straight day (not the same ones every day, mind you).  My daughter actually ate the peanut butter sandwich her daddy made her for lunch (after refusing mine all week).  After lunch, Philip prepared the squirmy worm (the elder, as the younger was snuggling in for a nap) for an afternoon of outdoor fun in the snow.  We made a snow family, complete with Easter egg eyes and Craisin mouths.  And I had fun.  Because I wasn't stressed.

And then, then he dug my sister-in-law's jeep out of our driveway so she and I could actually escape for a blessed hour and a half before the next wave of "wintery mix" hits the greater Shawnee area. 

And I breathed.

And that's why I love my family.  Because they love me and they need me.  But they can survive without me.

And sometimes I'm just allowed to take a break from being mommy.  But not for too long.  Because, honestly, who doesn't want those tiny arms wrapped around them (or the snow version of them, which is almost as adorable) as a precious voice declares, "I loll you, Mommy."?  This girl sure does.

04 February 2011

Of Cabin Fever

In case you don't see my Facebook page on a regular basis, here's the latest.  I'm trapped.  In my own home.

We live on a street.  It's just that.  A street.  Not a neighborhood, not a subdivision.  A street.  Thirty houses that all look the same, separated from the rest of the world, or at least Shawnee.

And, as such, it would appear we do not warrant plowing by officials of the aforementioned city.  Thus, while the rest of the world* shuffles along streets piled high on either side with snow shoved kindly aside for them by their friendly neighborhood snow-plow, I find myself, along with my family, and all others on this blessed road without the likes of four-wheel drive, confined to walking distance (which, for an un-motivated girl such as myself, will take me just about to the end of the street) - and that through twelve-ish inches of snow and ice.

The funny thing is - the only reason this bothers me is because our grocery store is having some very decent sales this week and I hate to miss good deals.  [Taking a deep breath.]

Thus, when I boil it all down and truly analyze my motives I find myself less frustrated and more grateful.

Grateful that I have nowhere I have to be.  I have no travel plans being thwarted by this onslaught of winter weather.  No major life events I'll be missing out on.  And all the company I could want right here in my little haven of warmth (except when my husband, whose boss does, indeed, have four-wheel drive, is at work - at which point I'm missing a big part of the company I wish I had).

Meanwhile I understand that right now, this beautiful landscape of white, is but a fleeting moment.  One I enjoy not often enough here in Oklahoma (which is much further south than I ever gave it credit for).  And come next year, I'll be dreaming of watching the fluffy white flakes falling from the heavens.  So I rejoice.  I rejoice in the glorious beauty of creation - and in the fact that it's forcing me to slow down and enjoy this moment.

*I do recognize that it's highly unlikely we are the only location isolated by the likes of the insensitivities of the Shawnee snow-plow operation, but as I have limited experience with the extent of the shunning, I'm working on assumptions here - so keep that in mind as you attend my poorly-planned pity party. 

03 February 2011

Of Moments

Best moment of the day:
Snuggling with BOTH of my kids while watching first a Tyler Perry movie and later "Go, Diego, Go!"  Seeing Emmett laying with his head in his sister's lap, looking at her in awe while she cradles her brother's skull and gives him a loving and protective smile: priceless.  Being able to hug them both while all of this occurs: a feeling I wouldn't trade for the world.

Second best moment of the day (a runner-up so far behind the gold medal winner it might as well still be at the starting line): winning my fourth (out of four) game of Settlers in the last week.  I believe that would make me THE Settler of Catan for Snowmageddon Twenty Eleven.

02 February 2011

Of Bath-Time Buddies, Volume Two

Despite the glances of pity or the incredulous inquiries of, "How do you do it with two?" I've received from friends who are either great with their second child (and we have many who fit into this category) or are too scared to try, I'll say this here and now (it's the same answer I give in person), it's absolutely the best.  The transportation or even getting-out-the-door issues involved with having two children aged two and under are entirely outweighed by the countless awe-inducing moments of watching my babies delight in one another.

Tonight was another such moment.

We have finally reached the short window of childhood wherein our kids get to have a real-life bath-time buddy.  That's right, Emmett has graduated from the company of his own reflection and now has the pleasure of sitting in his Bumbo, kicking his sister's knee and chewing on any rubber duckies or bath books she offers.  Splashing each other is a favorite (which, to be honest, is what brought Emmett to this point - I'd rather he splash his bathing sister rather than give me a premature shower from the confines of his infant tub - but that's just my preference).

Thus, to those who fear having more than one or even having two closer together, just know that right now my kids are best friends, and I'll take that over arriving at church on-time on a consistent basis any day.

01 February 2011

Of Applause

Well, there's the obvious.  It's snowed, recently, in case you weren't aware.  There are drifts up to my hips out our door.  And, yes, at the urging of my sister-in-law, we did go out for just a little bit.  And, while Micaiah enjoyed throwing the snow at Mom and Dad (which meant she used her immobile, mittened hands to grasp a few flakes of snow and then throw her arms in the air to toss them in our general direction), she only did so from the safety of the front porch.  Anytime she crossed the threshold, the wind was too much for her and caused panic and mayhem.  So she stuck to the tiny brick-walled porch.  And she was very happy about it.

But while having a day to relax, where going somewhere isn't an option, and being "forced" to enjoy time on the couch playing Mouse Trap with a two-year-old has been wonderful, I'm not positive that was the highlight of my day.

What really made me smile this morning was watching my son clap for the first time.  He was so excited to sit in his aunt's lap while watching Diego (Dora's cousin, in case you were unaware of today's toddler pop culture).  And the thrill pushed him over the edge so that his hands simply had to come together in joy.  Absolutely  adorable.  Filing this, along with his latest fad of the past couple of weeks of waving his arms in the air while rotating his hands in every direction because he loves the functionality of his wrists, under "Cutest Actions my Son has Learned to Date".