Friday, April 30, 2010

Friday Photo April 30, 2010

So that is what I look like from that view. Interesting.

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Sniff Test

The sniff. You’ve seen it. The parent hoists the diapered bottom up in front of their nose. They smell. They hope it is not theirs. It is. They hand the baby off. They did the last one. They compromise. They’ll do it together. I’ve even used the finger technique. Our old neighbor and friend used to find all of this quite disgusting. Runny noses equaled absolute horror. A mom friend of mine confessed that she thought she’d never be one of those moms who let their children have snotty noses, but now she realizes that the fight isn’t worth it. So, you just let that battle go as your child beams through the crusted snot and coos at all those judgmental faces who have either forgotten or never experienced parenthood.

With each subsequent child, more and more of your self-inflicted standards get washed away. Things you thought you’d never do, you do. You thought you’d never let your child cry-it-out: you do. You thought you’d never give your child peanut butter before two: you make enough PB&J to feed the local elementary school. You thought you’d never drop your child off at the nursery: you do, eagerly. Sunday is your big day off! You thought you’d never give your baby fruit snacks (a poorly disguised piece of candy): you have a year’s supply in the car.

You never wash off the pacifier. You no longer own baby toys. Subsequent children are more interested in their brother’s things anyway. Nap time? The youngest sleeps on the go. When he finally drops the morning nap, you celebrate your new sense of freedom. You begin pushing that afternoon one from 12 to 1 to 2. When you had your first, you scheduled your whole day around that nap. It was your sanctuary. Now with the last you can’t wait until they are no longer napping, and you can be free. Free to go and do, whenever. No more rushing home from the grocery store so he doesn’t nod off on the car ride home and ruin the whole thing. The whole blessed two hours to finally: do laundry, unload the dishes, clean out the van, check e-mail, call back your friend, read your book, or take a nap.

The oldest didn’t start preschool until four, the youngest gets signed up at two-and-a-half.

But aren’t you better, this last time around? I think I am. I’m more relaxed. I have a better view of it all. I’m cherishing my last, relishing in the present, and excited for each new phase of discovery. Seeing the world through a child’s eyes keeps us all young and new and realistic.

We moved next door to my parents almost two years ago. My mom recently told me, “This is a happy time in my life.” And it is. She is benefiting from the multi-generational approach to living. She and my father seem younger than they did just three years ago. They happily volunteer to watch the boys. (At least this is what I have chosen to tell myself.) My dad eagerly checks the henhouse for eggs with my second. They beam when our youngest child reaches for them. They know this is just a segment of time. They can look back at their lives and remember how life furnishes living in chapters.

And so that is why I sniff and check with no regard to those looking on and being totally grossed out by my parenting choices. I’m fully immersed in this current chapter. Like a good book, I am defined by my lead characters. And currently they are one, three, and five.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

I Finally Have a Hero

I am married to a hero, a super star. His name is Daddy. The shouts of glee and much awaited excitement confirm my hunch that he is... the man. Yes, they love me too. I know this. I have no issues of inferiority. But, I am very glad he’s their hero. Shouldn’t he be?

I get a little giddy over him too. When I see his car turn down our road, my heart skips as I jump from the couch, “Daddy’s coming!” He’s my savior--especially during this very long, rainy season of spring. We’ve been in the house all day long. Done it all. I’ve made play dough, read zillions of books, played school, wrestled, leapt from furniture shouting, “Super Mom!” made breakfast and lunch and snack and prepped dinner, and I’m pooped, done. He’s my knight in shining armor. He slays the dragon of monotony and fatigue.

After a day spent giving as a teacher, he comes home and gives some more. He shows genuine exuberance and joy at seeing our faces. The feelings are mutual. He raves about mommy’s cooking, supports my wish that all participate in cleaning up the dinner table, plays hours of living room soccer, creates mini-science experiments, changes diapers because, “I just can’t do one more,” and then helps me tuck them all into bed.

Then he listens. I need to process. I have things to say. This is when he really relies on his super powers. This is quite a stretch for someone who is a confirmed introvert. But he does it. Why? He loves me. This is also amazing. After eleven years I can tell he loves me even more than he did when he first married me and made those life-long vows to love and cherish and listen.

He lost our wedding ring a year into our marriage. He was helping someone with the plumbing on their house and didn’t realize it had fallen into the abyss of pipes and water pressure until he came home. A ring didn’t seem to fit his style anyway. I convinced myself it wasn’t a big deal. He was always taking it off to do this or that, so I suggested a tattoo. I mentioned this to a teaching colleague of mine and they said with warning, “Whoa, that’s permanent.”

Why would I ever give up something this good! You bet it is permanent. I’m glad we have a life-long arrangement. I’m glad that our first decade together is only a sliver of the years we have coming our way. Since having kids my love and adoration toward him has grown. I need him as much as the boys do. I’m better with him than I am without. I’m happy to shout, “Daddy!” I run for my hug too. I only smile when all three boys crowd on to his lap for our family movie nights, and I’m left to my lonesome on the couch. Everyone needs a hero, and I’m glad to be living life with mine.

Monday, April 19, 2010

42 More Days

42 more days to write, edit, peer edit, rewrite, edit some more, rewrite again, and submit to our anthology. The due date for submissions is June 1st.

It is fun reading the stuff that has come in so far. Everyone has a story worth reading to share with others. Go for it. Don't talk yourself out of sending something good our way.

If you need the submission guidelines, click on the tentative title here: The Cheese Fun and Other Misfires. Also, if you click on my label "writing" you'll be able to read all the entries I've made related to this topic. You'll get a better idea of the voice we are looking for by reading those posts.

Happy 42 days of writing!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Friday Photo 4/16/2010

A Much Better Family Photo....At The Beach

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Messy Play Part Two

If you missed my post on the importance of messy play, you may want to click and read...get some background. For those of you who read it, enjoy the pictures! This evening of Gak was perfect. It had been a long, rainy day and was everything we needed for quality time and post-dinner play that didn't drag. Plus, my boys crave a lot of daddy time. When they don't get it, they act out. This filled their love tanks well.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Friday Photo 4/9/2010

Do I really need a title? (Notice the ancient microwave? That was the first one my parents ever purchased. I remember the whole shopping experience. Sears actually had a sales expert just for microwaves. The catalyst: my mother went back to work. I recently gave it away, and it is now housed in my husband's classroom where it gets properly ridiculed by the Tech Savvy Generation.)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Worms and a Backhoe

I love boys. I have three, five if you count the dog and the husband. That is why I love books that connect with boys.

Here are two great picks from our last trip to the library:

I Am A Backhoe
captures the imagination of a little boy, both the character in the book and those reading it. The little boy's arms and legs and hands become different construction site trucks and diggers. When he rides on his daddy's back, he is atop a flatbed truck.

My oldest is done with his truck years, but there was a time when he spent hours in the dirt pushing and excavating, just like the main character in this book.

The other book is Winnie Finn, Worm Farmer. I love that the main character is a girl, but not a girl wearing pink and fairy wings. No, a girl who loves worms. This makes me think of my nephew. He had quite a worm phase. He's moved on to bigger and better bugs and reptiles and creatures of all kinds, but I will always associate worms with his cute two-year-old self.

Monday, April 5, 2010

April Showers Bring Messy Play

Anyone else feel the pain of these rainy days? I am such a better mom in the summer, or I like my job more in the summer. It is so easy. You just open the backdoor and away they go...all day long they play.

These last two weeks have been especially arduous. It is very fitting that I recently checked out a book called Fun With Messy Play. The woman writes about the importance of messy play with special needs children, but she and I both agree that all children need this opportunity. So, with a bit of inspiration and the rains coming is how we survived yet another day indoors.

It only took me three boys to figure out that sticking items into play dough and then letting the child pull them out is a major source of entertainment. It bought me like 15 minutes, and at this age that is quite impressive. Have I mentioned how intensive 12 mos. to 18 mos. is? Well, it is for me.

After reading Messy Play I've decided that letting my son feed himself applesauce counts. The author mentions that messy play needs an objective. Objective: eating.

Noodles count too.

Part Two Coming Soon!

Friday, April 2, 2010

God-Sighting 9,201...

It was a rare and treasured sunny, Spring Break day in Oregon. We were on our family vacation. The boys were so excited. We all love to travel, glad we passed this passion on to our sons at such a young age. We’d decided on a simple, short trip to Portland....two nights in a hotel, ride the MAX, see the city, go to the zoo, OMSI, swim in the pool, and visit IKEA. I felt we were giving our boys a showcase tour of the Rose City.

But, the highlight for me was the lunch we shared in Pioneer Courthouse Square. It has been dubbed Portland’s Living Room, and is. Everyone is there. Everyone is relaxing. Everyone is doing what you’d do in a living space. We ordered a large pizza from Pizza Smeccha. We were spread out on the north western steps. We were warm and happy. I found the man sunning himself and exposing us all to his hairy chest to be a bit of a distraction, but otherwise I was pretty much focused on my family and our time together.

Someone else was not. Someone else was noticing someone without. Out of the corner of my eyes I saw my three-year-old scooting a plate of pizza toward a man sitting a few steps up from us. He wasn’t scared of this man, who we would label homeless and a “stranger.” No, he was just unsure how to go about sharing his food.

The man was also unsure if he was supposed to take a toddlers gift. I smiled, “Honey, do you want to give your pizza to him?”


The man took it and from the rate to which he enjoyed it, my son observed his need for food well. I couldn’t help but beam with pride. I was impressed by my child’s skills to observe and empathize. Was all my parenting and modeling and teaching working? This is my goal: Love God, Love Others. I would be more pleased if my children grew up to be models of this type of life choice than if they were successful embodiments of our capitalist system. I would love if I could pass on a sense of only needing our daily bread and what was extra we pass on.

I saw a glimpse of this in my son. Much of what I try and model gets flubbed up by my own imperfections, but because of God’s grace and God’s light in my child, some of what I value is being passed on.

Later when it was time for us to catch the next MAX train the man stood in the doorway and held up the whole train so that we could all get in with kids and bags in tow. He was giving back. We received his gift to us. He gave what he could, and I was thankful. It was what we needed at the time.

Later when I asked my son why he’d given him his pizza he answered simply, “Because he didn’t have any food, and it is good to share.” Then he launched in to the story of Jesus on the cross and the two robbers and how the one robber wasn’t nice to Jesus, but the other robber was, and Jesus forgave his sins and told him he’d be in heaven with him. This all connected in his mind, and I think it was a significant piece of my son’s spiritual journey with Christ. It was real, and it flowed from a place strangely not human. It was a God-sighting.

These are the stories we share. We are seeking stories like these. Sometimes our stories of failure teach and sometimes our stories of success encourage.

If you have a story please consider submitting to our anthology. You can read more about it by following this link. The deadline is June 1, 2010.

And in the Spirit of Easter (and this story).....Christ Lives