Saturday, December 27, 2008
Prayers that poor, poor, POOR Girly Pie's two top front teeth come in soon so that her misery can end. The poor child is grumpy, eating little, nursing fitfully and sleeping terribly.
And Mommy is ready to have her smiley, scooty, wiggly, happy, sweet girl back.
Oh, and Mommy is also ready to sleep somewhat consistently again. At least for a night or two.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
I was 11, and it was a previous snow that had not melted by the time Christmas had rolled around. So technically I guess this will be my second white Christmas in my life.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Goose is in one of those delightful toddler stages where you just can't get enough of him. He's happy as can be about 95% of the time. When you ask him to do something, or gently correct him if he's done something wrong, he mimics what he hears the big brothers say with a completely pleasant demeanor... "Yes Ma'am." But somehow it's just a little bit cuter coming out of a two year old's mouth with that little lisp and the slight toddler accent that he still has. He recently started praying, which is also precious. "Deaw Foddow. Tink oo uh Piglet. Tink oo uh Pooh. Tink oo uh Mommy. Tink oo uhhhh, Piglet. Tink oo uh hot dogs. (etc...)" And he'll go on and on and on until you add in your own "Amen." at which point he happily shouts "AMEN!" and prayer is done. He's also shown a renewed interest in Girly Pie, which is so sweet. He's always so excited to see her and kiss her and make her laugh with Peek-a-boo or silly faces. And if someone is hurt he is so concerned... "You OK, Mommy? I kiss it. You better now?" It's especially sweet when he's the one inflicting the pain. He'll step on my toe with all 35 pounds of muscular chunky toddler strength and I'll say something along the lines of, "Ouch. Careful Honey, that was Mommy's toe." It's said gently and I don't think much of it, until he's checking in on my well being and bending down to kiss my foot and asking me if I feel better now. It's just so funny.
And the eye crossing. It seems as though he often does it when he's eating something, and he really wants to see what's going in his mouth as he takes his bites. It's just so hard not to laugh when you look over during dinner and he's sitting there all cross-eyed and staring hard at his apple slice. He's just such a goof.
And the little sense of imagination kicking in is just a riot right now. He likes to play trains on the train table, and more than the bigger boys ever were he is infatuated with Thomas and friends. It's so fun to look over during my morning kitchen cleaning time and hear him chatting away with his trains. "No Thomas. You no do dat. Wook Percy. I Thomas. I Drivin'. Wook out, Percy." Or when he's running around mostly naked, but with a backwards plastic knight's shield draped over his shoulder and a hard hat on his head. And maybe a pair of cowboy boots, depending on his mood.
So anyway. Each age has it's own special magic. Goose is just in one of those particularly magical phases where my husband and I could just eat him up. Considering the fits the kid can throw when he's not in a "Happy Place," we'll gladly soak up the cuteness now. Maybe we can bottle some of it to open up on a rainy day sometime in the next few months when he's pushing three and working hard to reassert his toddler independence. ;o)
Sunday, December 14, 2008
He knew that in a few short years after we moved to our first home, that Mary Grace and her family would be moving in just down the road from us. He knew I was in need of a mentor and a true best friend: a woman to walk with hand-in-hand through this beautiful season of life. He created in me an apprentice’s spirit, and He knew that I would need to have a friend to watch and walk alongside without my even being aware of it.
I was not created with an innate knowledge of the world of mothering and of women. I was not raised in a home with anyone modeling these things for me either. But I was brought up in an environment with a very loving and supportive father, and women all around me pouring into me in various ways that went unnoticed for years.
So now, to sum up a bit from all the ramblings… I realize that I really do like women.
I love being able to talk to Mary Grace for hours about nothing really worth keeping a record of, but still I can walk away feeling justified, supported, refreshed, loved, understood… I love that. I love that she can encourage me without even trying. Heck, she can encourage me in the middle of telling me about a tough moment for her just in the fact that I do not feel alone in my occasional chaos or struggles to be all that I am called to be.
I enjoy having another friend I met from church (Let’s call her E.) over with her children and we can let our 6 walking and talking children play together and make gingerbread cookies and while we hold our babies and share stories of support and encouragement of the Lord and His work in our life. We can mention something that we cannot quite put words to in our world of mothering and the other can say, “I know! That is so true.” Even when we do not have the right words to make it all make sense. The thought, the feeling… the understanding is still there.
And I like that I can call the slightly younger friend down the road (I’ll call her C.) with her very young family of two children under two years old and chat about the thrill and newness of our same-aged babies. It’s great that she can come over and try out a craft we’ve been doing for years and to watch her face light up as she enters this world of mothering that I have enjoyed for so many years (well, almost seven years… it feels like it’s been longer though!) and I get to feel just that little bit like the mentors who have meant so much to me over the years.
And the day I started this silly little Women post, after a morning chat with Mary Grace, a midday baking and chatting time with E. and her brood, and an evening spent at C.’s house where we were invited for a lovely quesadilla dinner and we stayed for a nice chat and some super cute play time between our two-ish year olds and our 7 month olds… well, that day it occurred to me that the women in my life are truly a blessing.
These days (though the aforementioned day was a bit more full than I am accustomed to) fill me up in ways that I cannot describe. To share a common thread with these women, to be a part of this world that I once feared… even hated at times… to be accepted, loved, understood…to have others see the beauty in the day-to-day details of my life and understand them on a level that only another mom could… well I am not the graceful and talented writer that is my friend Mary Grace, so I cannot find the words to describe the feelings that come with this connection. But, I have a feeling that if you are a woman reading this right now that you may just have some idea of what I am talking about.
So all this to say that my friends, the women that I can clearly see were chose by the Lord Himself to walk with me in this life, mean very much to me indeed. I once thought that a husband to love me and children to raise were all I needed.
But at this point in my life, at least now in this short but important season of raising up my young family, I am so very thankful that I can do it alongside a few other women who can hold my hand and hear my stories and enjoy them, and who can share theirs with me. And then, once I have gotten all my chatty excitement out on them, I have just enough left for my husband to enjoy but not to feel overwhelmed by. ;o)
After all, as my dad occasionally says to my husband with a wink, “You married her. She’s all yours now.” And half the time he’ll make the little flapping hand sign that is synonymous with talking too much. So I guess that even though I looked like a boy once upon a time… I always did talk like a girl.
And one last little point, though I have been terribly long winded already… I adore my sons. I love (and always have loved) the world of boys and I always did feel like I would be the mother of boys. And after three of them, I was pretty well sure that I was going to be the mother of only boys. During my pregnancy with Girly Pie, we did not find out her sex (as with all my pregnancies) and I was completely confident and convinced that she was a boy. I remember having pangs and thoughts along the lines of, "I never got to be on the daughter end of a winning mother-daughter relationship. And I wonder if I will ever get to be on the mother end of a right and good mother-daughter relationship." But I was ok with that. I was just thrilled to be having a fourth child regardless!
Ok. I’ll stop talking now. ;o)
Friday, December 12, 2008
When I first married my Man, I thought, “Who needs friends? I have a husband. He’ll make me happy and complete.”
Are you laughing with me here? Because I am. Oh, how naïve and innocent I was then. I was a few weeks shy of my 21st birthday when I married my Man. I thought I had it all. We bought our first house three months later and life was good. The neighbors seemed nice, we had decent jobs, the house was perfect for raising a family.
Life was good.
And then the babies came. And oh how long I had waited for them! (well, it felt like a long time... but patience was not a virtue I yet had at 22 years old...) Now, still I thought that aside from my long dreamed-of children, my husband was the only person I needed in my life. I was still under this delusion. I was not a believer at the time, so I didn’t think I needed God. I was close enough with my dad, but I was grown now and didn’t want to “need” him anymore, either. I certainly had no need whatsoever for my mom. And those other women? Oh well. I could do it just fine on my own.
I had nannied for the years before marriage and up to the time Punky was four months old and again, though I didn’t realize it, these women I was working with daily were filling me up with the stuff it takes to be a woman, a mother, a friend. It’s funny how clear everything is when looking back. Hindsight’s always 20/20, right? At the time it was just a job. Back when I watched those children as an adolescent and teenager, that was just fun work with cute babies. But those women, those moms behind the scenes… it’s only now as a woman and a mother myself do I see the important role they played in my life. I didn’t feel like I needed anyone, because I had always been blessed with people I didn’t even realize were there.
But as my family grew and my children got older and needed more of me - the deeper me, not just my arms and my breasts and my kisses, but my thoughts and my instruction and my constant attention - things started to change. Suddenly, my husband wasn’t enough. Suddenly he didn’t want to hear about the daily goings on now that we had our own kids. Or at least he did not want it in the minute and monotonous details that I was so fascinated and enthralled with. Suddenly I had questions and challenge and stories that I could not share with him. Suddenly I was a mother, a woman… and I was alone...
Thursday, December 11, 2008
I went out of my way to play with other people’s babies. I was blessed with some women in my life who had small children, and since I was a responsible and kind young lady who adored children, I played with them and watched their children often. At the time I was just enjoying the time with small children, but what I didn’t know was that my young mind and heart were being filled with the stuff that families are made of. These women took me under their wing. They loved me, shopped with me, talked with me, comforted me, invited me into their homes and made cookies with me and let me enjoy their children and play with them and feel just a little bit like the (albeit older) daughter of a woman who actually loved her children. Though they were receiving the benefit of cheap or free help with their young families, they were also pouring their love out to me.
And I drank it in.
These women were such a huge blessing to me in my life. They were the ones who actually gave me glimpses into this world of women that I someday would be a part of. And they made it look like a world that I might actually enjoy living in.
And then as I grew into the upper years of high school and got caught up in friends and driving and boys (well, the idea of boys, though no real boys actually existed in my world – also by God’s grace in hindsight) and I moved on from these surrogate mothers in my life, but their presence remained in my heart. I saw them occasionally, and spent time with some mothers of my friends, but I took for granted their presence and only in hindsight did I really see any of these women for the angels that they were...
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Finny (said with just the right amount of spunk, but not a trace of snottiness): "Punky, you're not the only smart one in this house."
Too true, Finny. Too true. And more power to you for figuring that out. Good for you, my boy.
Now that may seem like a strange statement, but hear me out here.
I grew up as the only child to a single father. My mom moved out of the house just weeks after my second birthday, and never came back. She kept in touch and I visited her fairly often as long as we lived in the same state, but by the age of five, my dad and I left sunny California and headed north for rainy Washington. From that point on, to the best of my recollection, I only saw my mom for weekends once every two or three months, plus a week or so in the summer and a decent stint between Christmas and Thanksgiving.
By first grade I was BEGGING my dad to let me get a short hair cut. I refused to wear anything even remotely resembling girl clothes, including anything dress-like, anything pink, or anything with ruffles, ribbons, bows or fancy collars. By third grade I had a complete boy hair cut and actually gelled my hair to a stiff shine for school each day. I wore jeans, frumpy tee shirts and sweatshirts and even my dad’s long baggy shirts. I did not really like to play with girls too much and really and sincerely prayed a few times in my life that God would just make me a boy. I really wanted nothing to do with the world of women. As far as I was concerned, my dad was the only person in the world who mattered, and my mom was really not who I wanted to grow up to be like, so the world of men looked way more appealing to me.
Now the funny thing was I was a slight, prancy little girl with completely feminine tendencies and a girlish way about me. I loved babies and played "house" often. I had girly features and pretty hair (well, it would have been pretty had I let it get longer than my chin) and I flitted around in all my frumpy boy clothes with dainty little mannerisms. But still, I was in complete denial that I was created female.
Of course I didn’t really want to be a man either, and eventually I grew to appreciate the world of women and girls more by the time I hit middle school. I still remember a boy (a punky popular kid – the kind who can say something stupid and everyone else thinks it’s cool) asking me if I was a boy or a girl. I thought (but didn’t say out loud) “I’m wearing pink sweats, Stupid. What do you think I am?” But for the most part, I started making female friends and getting interested in boys and playing with Barbies and all that. So it worked out alright eventually.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Monday, December 1, 2008
So I put in a few hours at the computer Googling Christmas crafts, baking and activities. I put holds on a bunch of Christmas classics on video from our library’s great hold system (after all, what Christmas is complete without watching the stop animation version of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer a few dozen times?). I ordered a Jesse Tree book and cut out the ornament circles for the season. I also found a whole Bible reading calendar for Advent online.
And then – and this is the key thing here – I used a small three ring binder and some plastic dividers with pockets in them labeled one for each week of Advent and printed out some weekly schedules from Donna Young. Then I just sat down and plugged the stuff into the weekly schedules. I left a column for each activity and filled something in for each day. We had movies planned in, a Christmas song to learn each week, baking days, ornaments to make, gifts to make, outings to go on, and days like St. Nicholas Day marked with an appropriate book ready from the library and the right items set aside to celebrate the day in a fun way.
And all this I had done long before Thanksgiving rolled around.
And do you know what? It was GREAT!!! The boys were thrilled with the crafts and the baking. We had so much fun! I loved having everything all laid out ahead of time so I wasn’t trying to think of something in a pinch. The recipes, craft directions, coloring pages and advent and Jesse tree readings were all right there in my little book, even down the which movie was up for the day and what song we were learning for the week. (By the way, there is nothing cuter than three little boys banging on upside down jars and singing The Little Drummer Boy. I’ll always remember the endless rounds of, “Puh-rum-pum-pum-pum… rum-pum-pum-pum… rum-pum-pum-puuuuhhhmmmm.” It was pretty stinking cute.)
We made our annual salt dough Christmas tree ornaments. We made caramel corn (yum!) and home made gum drops (not so yum...) for the first time. We cut out gingerbread people and decorated them and made a garland of them to hang in our dining room. We made handprint Jesse trees and the boys colored the Jesse Tree ornaments and glued them up their each morning after our Bible reading. We made Fruit Loop garlands to hang on the tree. And the cutest little craft ever was this little wreath shaped frame made from puzzle pieces painted green with little red holly berries dotted on them, and then used as picture frames for my kids and hung on the Christmas tree. So cute! We learned at least three Christmas carols that we had not yet memorized before.
The list goes on and on. I have so many fun memories from last year’s Advent season. Yes, our house was a wreck for most of the month. Sure, I was just barely finished cleaning up one project before the boys were digging into the next one. Yeah, we had so much paper lying around it was undoubtedly a fire hazard. And of course we did not do every single activity I had planned out on my handy-dandy weekly schedules. But we did most of them, and we had a blast doing it all. This year my boys started asking about Advent and when we would start it up again around, oh, late September.
This year things are a little different. This year I have a six month old (almost seven months… Ack!) Girly Pie in tow and I am much less organized. This year Thanksgiving just came later than it seems like it should, so it snuck up on me that Advent was starting YESTERDAY!!! This year, I still have a handy little notebook, but I did steal much of what’s in the new one from what I had planned out last year. But I guess that’s kind of the point. I took the stuff we really enjoyed, I dropped the stuff that was less fun or just not worth doing every single year, and I added in a few new ideas that were better for my kids being a year older (or just easier for a Mommy with one more little one to juggle in the mix) or that just looked like fun.
So we’ll see how it goes this year. Today was Day One of the full crafting schedule. And it was a little hectic, I admit. We made the handprint trees and some popsicle stick angels, and did our Bible readings. But Goose didn’t nap, Punky has been sliding into disrespect lately so we had some teachable moments that interrupted the flow of the day, and Finny is in need of some sensory activated every 2-3 hours so I need to keep on top of our schedule more than I did last year (I’ll write more on the sensory stuff another time…).
Ok. Moving on. It might not even be an infection, after all. ;o)
So back to the point. The point is… Advent. It’s fun. It surely has brought us closer together as a family and made for some really great memories for us all. We made more time to study God’s word and really got a lot out of that part of the season… but we also just enjoyed the family tradition side of Christmas, too. And as much as I want my children to know the true meaning of Christmas, I do want them to really have a lot of memories of family time and fun, too. So we may not be the biggest shoppers this time of year, and we may also not be completely focused on Jesus’ birth in every activity that we do, either… but on the whole, it has been a really wonderful thing for our family.
And if you haven’t done something like this before, maybe you can give it a try this year. I don’t have time tonight to hyperlink all the resources I have used, but I’ll gladly pass along links that anyone requests in the comments area.
So Merry Christmas to all… and Happy Adventing, too.