Tuesday, January 26, 2010

My Great Commission

“I have been given say over everything
in heaven and earth,
so go make apprentices to me
among people of every kind,
submerge them in the reality
of the Trinitarian God,
and lead them into doing everything
I have told you to do.
Now look!
I am with you every minute, until the job is done!”
(Matthew 28:18-20)
~
I realize these words were not written solely to the parents of small children,
but there is much in there that applies to the task at hand.
And that last part is worth holding on to.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Unbelievable.

Let's just say this first: I don't like grocery shopping with two boys.

There.

Having said that, I was grocery shopping with my two cherubs today. We opted for the racecar cart. I had them driving together in the front, snacking on cookies (which I believe are free from the bakery mostly to appease frazzled mothers who do not mind bribing with cookies), then taking turns walking, driving, or hanging off the side like garbage men. By the time we reached the checkout lane, I was so ready to be finished with this life stage.

Tyler, my child who excels in making a friend and learning life history everywhere he goes (which he perhaps inherited from his hypersocial mother), said to the teenage grocery bagger, "Hi."

Nobody can turn down his dimples, red hair, smile, or charm.

"Well, hello."

"Where's your dad?" he asked.

Naturally, she was taken aback. "My dad? Oh. Well, he's at work."

"Oh."

As long as we're talking about it, "And where's your dad?"

"My dad? Oh, hmmm. He is... he is... at work too."

"Okay. So all the dads are at work."

"Yep. And do you have a penis?"

What?!

I covered his mouth faster than you can say 'inappropriate.' I scooped him up and said, "Tyler, that is not okay. We do not talk about that outside of our house."

I released my hand, to let him apologize. "Otay. Sorry, Mommy. And she's a girl. She probably doesn't have one."

It's likely. Please, sweet child. Stop asking.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Hustler

"Look, Grandma, I'm a strong boy," said Tyler. "I have big hustles, just like Mommy. She has big hustles, too."

'Hustles,' in case you're not sure, are 'muscles' in Tyler lingo.

And I am tremendously hopeful that he doesn't take this story out of context and tell others - really, anywhere - about "Mommy's big hustles."

That could be too easily misunderstood. Really, too easily.

Sun and Moon

Tucker calls me Moon.

He only uses it when he's feeling playful or teasing me about something, but he tosses it out several times every day.

"Hello, Moon. Come here, Moon. I love you, Moon."

I really wasn't sure where it came from, until I heard myself call him 'son.' Aha. And there we have it:
He is my son;
I am his moon.

There are perhaps a dozen parallels tucked in there. Nice discovery, Tuck.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A Sign I've Been Too Busy

Today is my dad's birthday, and we celebrated in mighty ways. Before dinner, birthday presents, and cake, we wrapped gifts, painted (indistinguishable) birds and rainbows with Crayola watercolors, and decorated a birthday card from two grandsons to their adoring Poppa.

Dad held proud Tyler, and he read the card aloud:

On your birthday,

I'm as happy as can be,

Because you're the -

He stopped and looked at me with a puzzled look. And then he continued.

Because you're a Grandma who cares about me.

"Grandma?"

Oh, geez. You see, Robb's mom's birthday is next week. We proudly decorated, stickered, and presented to Poppa the absolute wrong card.

That's what I get for planning ahead and buying them all at one time.

Poppa laughed out loud and loved the memory. He asked to keep the card. Of course, you can keep it.

We'll buy MaeMae a new one... or give her the one that says "Thanks for being my grandpa."

Just a Little Rest

That last hour before dinnertime gets a little sketchy. 3:30-5:00, really. It's a demanding time of day in so many ways - the boys patience with each other and creativity to self maintain wear out at precisely the same time that I need to part ways to fix a meal for three hungry men of varying sizes.

Yesterday, I decided to mix things up a bit for that last hour. Robb is out of town, and we can all use some variety and encouragement. So, I announced the plan: the park, or the library, or McDonald's playland. Any of the three, for the boys who would quickly put on their shoes and jackets.

Nobody moved.

So I picked up the pace on their behalf, gathering and packing for the hour away from home. Tucker whined at my feet, asking me to please stop and hug him. I did, and then I went on with the plan.

Whine, whine, whine. Hug, hug, hug. Let's go, buddy. Fresh air. On with it. And where's Tyler, anyway?




I found him: in my bed. Under the covers. "Mommy, I just need a little rest. Come sit with me."

Well, well. Perhaps I'm the only one trying to rush these amigos out the door. In every way, they were saying, "Hey. Cruise Ship Director. Maybe you could give us a little free time."

Done, kiddos. This, we can do.

I enticed Tyler downstairs with the promise of rest once he arrived, I scooped Tucker into the chair with both of us, and we watched Toy Story, beginning to end. And nobody moved.

Late dinner. Late baths. Quiet bedtime.

Who knew? (I'll take it.)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

I'm Quirky.

There are many things I don't care about, and lots of things I should. There are many things I care deeply about, and a few perhaps too much.

Like paper, pens, and all related things.

This has always been true. I am often the happy - and honest - scorekeeper for any game, but please don't touch my pen or the score card. An error may force me to re-copy and begin again.

In college, I only used a 3-ring binder for class notes, because a spiral notebook offered too many stressful variables. If I missed a class (which was likely), I would be far too stressed about leaving the right amount of space for the notes I missed, and I certainly couldn't write them out of order, and what would I do if I finished the notebook before the course, or WORSE, the course before the notebook??

(My blood pressure rises at the very thought.)

Monday is not the most efficient day of my week for grocery shopping; Wednesday would suit me better. But the darling meal calendar on the refrigerator begins on Monday. If I shop on Wednesday, well, there would be empty days on the grid. Can't handle.

And now, now, I cannot find my blue highlighter with the built-in sticky tabs. And one of the books I'm reading calls for both. Both, I tell you.

This should perhaps matter to me less than it does. But it doesn't matter less. It matters.

See? I'm quirky.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Wisdom

"Don't expect wisdom to come into your life like great chunks of rock on a conveyor belt.

It isn't like that.

It's not splashy and bold . . . nor is it dispensed like a prescription across a counter.

Wisdom comes privately from God as a by-product of right decisions, godly reactions, and the application of scriptural principles to daily circumstances.

Wisdom comes, for example, not from seeking after a ministry . . . but more from anticipating the fruit of a disciplined life. Not from trying to do great things for God . . . but more from being faithful to the small, obscure tasks few people ever see."
~Chuck Swindoll

Tell Me More.

Tucker came up from the playroom to announce, "Mommy, the caboose is trembling, and it fell off the track."

I'm sorry... did he just say 'trembling?'

Sure enough, he confirmed it with motions. Shake, shake.

Well, hello, third grade word that just fell out of my four-year-old's mouth.

That would be the same four-year-old who only found sentences about a year ago.

(I love this. Bet you might have guessed.)

Pre-Literacy Skills in Action

Today, each of the boys came out of Sunday school with a sticker.

Tucker's said, "The Lord is good to all." Tyler's said, "I know God loves me."

When I asked them what the stickers said, Tucker told me, "Mine says, 'The Lord is good to all, and to all a good night.'"

(That sounds oddly like the end of The Night Before Christmas.)

And Tyler said, "Mine says, 'Hey! No people in the laundry!'"

Not so much.

(But extra points for creativity.)

Friday, January 15, 2010

Role Model Extraordinaire

As we dined over pizza and unbelievable garlic breadsticks at a favorite spot in town, Tucker spotted a police car as he passed by the window.

"Oh, look! A police car!"

"That's right, buddy. Where do you think he's going?"

"Probably to help someone."

And in a sing-songy voice that was perhaps only sarcastic in my own ears, Robb said, "Mommy has had lots of help from policemen this year."

(It's true. Speeding tickets. Three of them. Ahem. Moving on.)

I kicked him under the table.

Mimicking his sing-song voice, I said, "They've already learned about policemen helping us."

And not missing a beat, he playfully continued, "Then maybe you could stop offering a firsthand example."

Ahem.

Perhaps.

Here's to fewer dollars paid to the county in 2010.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Specifically Speaking

"I need to get the bath towels out of the dryer, boys. Please don't splash bath water on the floor," I said.

And when I came back, they were filling the trash can with water. Pouring, by the Ohio State Football Game cup-ful. That's a lot of ounces at one time, people.

And may I say, the trash can was generously filled with trash, already. Diapers notwithstanding.

But. The floor was dry.

I probably should have rejoiced in their obedience. And I did... later, when my rational self returned.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Fortified

Fortify yourself with a flock of friends!
You can select them at random,
write to one,
dine with one,
visit one,
or take your problems to one.
There is always
at least one
who will understand,
inspire,
and give you the lift
you may need at the time.

~ George M. Adams

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Before Coldness Sets In

One of my favorite things to do, at the end of a long day, is to cover my children one more time with their blankets.

After an easy bedtime, and especially after a hard one;
after they have felt abundantly loved,
and especially if they have perhaps wondered;
after they have been thankful for my faithfulness,
but especially if they have questioned whether I'm acting in their best interests,
I like to sneak into their quiet bedrooms and cover them up.
Comfy, cozy.

After all, they might get cold during the night, and I can prevent that in a very silent, unobserved way. They don't even know I was there.

And, I can kiss them once more before I leave.

As I did precisely that at the end of a rougher day with the sweet ones entrusted to me, I was feeling particularly weary from a few things on my mind and on my heart. Sick children, traveling husband, unemployment toying with the hearts of those I love.

And suddenly I wondered, as I tucked blankets under their chins, how has God done this same thing for me? Quieted me before I could spin out of control? Tucked a blanket quietly around me, before coldness could set in? Silently, unobservably offered himself, in ways I might never notice?

My mind was flooded with a dozen gifts...


an encouraging conversation with a trusted friend,
a timely card in the mail,
a song lyric that seems to speak directly to me,
a gift card to Starbucks from a friend who says,
"I think you could use some time for you,"
a kiss from my son,
a hug from his brother,
a knowing glance from my mom,
a laugh from my dad,
a text from my brother,
a phone call from my husband,
a verse on my mind.
~
Perhaps God sent them my way.
So I wouldn't feel cold.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Dance Break

Tucker is trying out his own groove these days, and any time he hears music - audibly or in his head - he breaks into a dance.

It's especially charming when we're strolling through the mall. He stops in front of each shop, listens for a driving beat, and busts it on out as the spirit moves.

Today, walking behind him, I captured him in action.

video

And Tyler couldn't keep from joining in.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

In the Eye of the Beholder

Surrounded by clusters of Legos, Robb and the boys built things for one another to play with and/or destroy. Robb presented a finely crafted masterpiece, with multiple colors, layers, and the appearance of flight.

"Hey, Tyler, look at the cool airplane I built for you."

"Oh, wow, Daddy! That's a great pirate ship!"

"No, Tyler, it's an airplane."

"No, it's a pirate ship. See? It shoots right here."

"No, it's an airplane."

"Oh... an airplane? I think it's a dinosaur."

"Tyler, I built it. I know what it is. It's a very cool airplane. See?" And with great fluorish and grandiose sweeping, he put its abilities on display.

"Oh! A flying dinosaur! That's so great, Daddy!"

"It's an airplane."

"It's a dinosaur. On a pirate ship."

Robb gave up, knowing truth in his heart. And because it didn't appear that Tyler intended to.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Bonked Noggins


It was bound to happen.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Wishing for More Wishes

It's cold and snowy in our city today, and after cabin fever creativity had resulted in a plastic scuba diver with a broken leg, an entire Yahtzee game gone awry, and a fireman carefully poised atop one blade of the ceiling fan, it was time to leave the house.

To the mall we shall go, my little men.

After we had visited the puppies, guinea pigs, and bunnies in the pet store, and after we had ridden the escalators up and down and up and down and up and then back down, we visited the fountain. I only had dimes and quarters in my purse, and I'm not so much about tossing those in by the handful, and the boys weren't interested in the time investment of traveling to the food court to trade a dime for ten pennies.

So, they called on their own ingenuity: they climbed the rocks, leaned over the side, held one another's feet for safe keeping, and gathered pennies of their own from inside the fountain.

I'm pretty sure there is something unethical or illegal - or at least unsanitary - about that. But it's not like we kept them. It was entirely a catch-and-release system. Oh, look, a penny. Toss. Hey! A nickel! Two pennies! Toss, toss.

So, since we weren't pocketing the change for our own lunches in the food court, I think there's only one thing really at risk: the wishes. I think there is some fairytale rule that says you can only wish on a penny once before you toss it in the fountain. After that, maybe you're wishing for someone else's wish again, or wishing their wish for yourself. And when I think about it that way, my children probably retrieved the pennies of children who wished for a new baby in the family, for new teeth for Christmas, or for a pet snake.

All of which I can say are effectively not happening anytime soon for my kids.

Anyway, it all worked out in the end. An outing for us, pennies for them, a break for me, and dry clothes for all. Somehow.

And maybe those count for a few granted wishes.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Another Kind of Crayola

The boys colored all over each other's bottoms with magic markers today.
They chased each other in circles, like a puppy chasing his own tail, with markers in hand.
Yep.
Scribble, scribble.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Who Keeps You Safe?

"Mommy, I just saw a big truck by the sidewalk. We need to be safe," Tyler reminded me, from his post in the backseat.

I had been walking with him to our parking spot, so I can personally vouch for his safety. Still, never hurts to affirm.

"You are right. Who keeps you safe?"

"Um, Mommy."

"That's right. And who else?"

"Daddy."

"You're right. And who else?"

"Um, Mommy."

"Yes, Mommy does, again, but so does God."

"Right. God keeps me safe."

Ready to share the wealth of this learning moment, I said, "Tucker, who keeps you safe?"

"I would just like to be quiet right now."

Well, okay.

Fair enough. As long as you know, somewhere in your sweet little head.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Thank You For Noticing.

Last night, to ring in the New Year, Robb cashed in some hotel points from a year's worth of business travel. The boys stayed with my parents, for a New Year's Eve Bash with Grandma and Poppa: complete with hats, balloons, a buffet of their favorite snacks, and ice cream before bedtime.

We dropped the boys off, and Robb and I ran happily away for the night.

Robb spared no expense with his hotel points, and we stayed at one of the nicest hotels in town. When we checked in, surrounded by high class of all kinds, Robb and the host behind the counter exchanged various pleasantries about Robb's loyalty to their hotel chain, how many points he had accumulated, and my, what a year of travel.

And, then...

He said, "Ma'am, we would like to personally thank you for your loyalty as well. We know that when a businessman accumulates this many nights away, it is the spouse at home who makes the sacrifice. May we upgrade your room this evening?"

"Why, yes. Yes, you may. And may I say, you have just made my New Year by saying so."

And with a few click-click-clicks, he handed us the key to our room on the concierge floor. We were upgraded to a suite with a living room, bedroom, 1 1/2 baths, 2 closets, robes, slippers, a jacuzzi terrace (translated: on the roof), full view of the fireworks, complimentary cocktails, appetizers, and breakfast, and living space larger than our first apartment.

All thanks to my loyalty.

(I told Robb we should invite some people to join us... it felt nearly wasteful to have that much space, all to us, for one night. But, um, no dice. It was just us. And it was so great.)

Not a bad payoff. And not a bad way to ring in the New Year.