Monday, November 29, 2010

Real Living Translation

"Mommy, do you know what God says? He says, 'Don't say Butthead.'"

Well, he says, "Be kind to one another."

Interpret as needed.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

All Are Welcome

Buzz Lightyear and the Batmobile have made their way into our Nativity scene.

To this, my blogging friend Amanda responded,

"...and upon seeing the Holy Savior asleep, Buzz Lightyear proclaimed, 'Here is our gift! To eternity and beyond!' Meanwhile, on the other side of the manger, Batmobile flapped its doors and sent up a mighty spray of fireworks that rivaled the glow of the Bethlehem Star."

Not a bad approach. All are welcome. Fiction and nonfiction, the story welcomes you, too.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Life, Here and Now.

Some things are too sacred to blog. This one has asked for a few days of quiet. But a few days later, it has floated to the top, now asking to be written.

On Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving, we honored the sixth anniversary of our first miscarriage. The first child of our hearts, the first one who went straight to heaven with no stops in between, to be joined two years later by a sibling.

The heart and psyche are a puzzling pair. My subconscious is inextricably tied to the tangible; even if I paid no attention to the calendar, my spirit would remind me when this anniversary arrives. In fact, this most often happens. I find myself struggling under a dark cloud, a melancholy countenance, and when I stop to think why, I find the answer.

My heart knows.

Robb and I began the process of helping the boys to know there are four children in our family. At breakfast, I forged the waters. "Guys, do you remember how you were born?"

Tuck nodded. "Yes, we grew in your tummy, and then we came out."

I said, "Yes, you both did. And there are two other babies who grew in my tummy, but they died before they were born. They went straight to heaven."

Tucker said, "Maybe they are living in our new house."

(We have taught them that God is preparing a place for us, a house for us in heaven. They talk often about the heavenly home they hope for.)

Tyler said, "I bet God made them whole."

(Yes, I do believe both are true.)

Late in the afternoon, after my heart had spent a day remembering, I bought two balloons. No gender specific colors, since I don't want to create truths we cannot be sure of. I chose lime green and orange. We would choose a sunny spot, launch our balloons, and watch them float into the sky. I wanted to talk to the boys about the symbol, take pictures with my camera or with my mind, and I wanted to let myself remember. We would create a tradition to help them understand and know.

But when the moment came, Tyler opened the back door and simply let his balloon go. He let it go, because he is three. And he does not understand or know. But I was sad, because the launch and the memory and the moment didn't happen the way I had planned. I wasn't there fast enough. I didn't watch it float away. I didn't grab the string and hold on tight, to keep it for just a little longer. It didn't happen the way I wanted it to.

(Much like the pregnancy it symbolized.)

Robb recognized the magnitude of the mistake, the gravity of the moment, of unmet expectations and a moment lost. Instantly, he said, "It's okay. It wasn't your fault. We'll get a new one. We'll get another one. We can fix this."

(In the heart of our loss, he whispered those same things to me.)

Tyler watched and waited, unsure of what went wrong, unsure of what might happen next. In Robb's fatherly wisdom, he said, "How 'bout you go hold Tyler? I think you both need that."

I gathered my boy. I gathered my heart. I slowed down.

I remembered that Tyler is life. That I should not sacrifice his heart on the altar of remembering. I needed to love him, hold him, capture him, and not give greater worth to a lime green balloon that was merely a symbol in the first place. A symbol that I had given too much worth.

Yes, the anniversary was important, and the grief of my heart deserved attention. But I also had a darling three-year-old and a handsome five-year-old, with life, breath, freckles, and charm, who needed me to love them well.

To remember life.

We watched Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, my boys and me - Tucker splayed across the carpet and Tyler nestled in my arms - and we didn't move.

Except to breathe each other in.

Lord, thank you for knowing all of my children.
Thank you for gathering me, for slowing me down, for reminding me.
Thank you for my Tucker and my Tyler, the precious life in my days and joy in my heart.
Thank you that we do not grieve as those who have no hope.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


I ask you right now to please agree with me that a scar is never ugly.
That is what the scar makers want us to think.
But you and I, we must make an agreement to defy them.
We must see all scars as beauty.
This will be our secret.
Because take it from me, a scar does not form on the dying.
A scar means I survived.

~ Chris Cleave, Little Bee

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Great Dichotomy

If she tells you she wishes her car got better gas mileage, that doesn't mean she wishes she'd never learned to drive.

If she tells you she didn't like the middle of the book, that doesn't mean it wasn't worth reading.

If she tells you she doesn't love her job, that doesn't mean she won't come back tomorrow.

If she tells you she needs a few hours by herself, that doesn't mean she's not committed to her family.

If she tells you today was hard, that doesn't mean there was nothing to smile about.

If she tells you she's tired, it doesn't mean she'll never find rest.

If she tells you this is harder than she thought, it doesn't mean she's done.

If she tells you she doesn't love the tasks, that doesn't mean she doesn't love the role.

Sometimes it just means what it means.

The thoughts inside a woman's head are one tangled mass of cooked spaghetti. The noodles wrap all around one another, and it's tricky to pull one long strand from the bowl without getting lumps of marinara on the placemat. Everything connects to something else. It's hard to set boundaries, boxes, or even perforated lines around the things we think and feel, because we don't usually think and feel in a linear, organized fashion.

So, if we are honest with ourselves, there are things we might say, if only we could be sure they would land safely apart from the thoughts that surround them.

I don't love doing laundry; I will, however, make sure my children have clean clothes to wear.

I'm not always good at forgiving myself; I can easily share grace to others.

I'm utterly exhausted; I do not wish someone else had rocked my sick baby during the night.

I don't love the tasks of motherhood; I dearly love being a mom.

I need a break; this doesn't mean I want out.

Those get tangled and messy, and when a woman says, "This is harder than I thought," she follows it up, with her hand on your arm, saying, "I love my children. I do. I love my children. I do. I love them. Know that I do."

Because saying that we don't love serving someone else every minute of everyday is dangerously close to saying we don't love them every millisecond in between.

And we do. Know that we do.

It just gets messy sometimes. The laundry, the dishes, the tasks, the spaghetti, and the thoughts.

I think we could all breathe a little easier if we just let ourselves say it sometimes.

It's harder than I thought it would be.

(But I love them. I do.)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Role Playing

Today, Tucker began calling Tyler "Pedro."

Pedro is a cat who does many tricks, the most popular of which is his ability to go to sleep on command. Or eat imaginary cookies out of his 'owner's' hand.

Tyler loved the new identity, and he spent the day insisting on this alias. "Call me Pedro."

"Tyler, please pick up your toys."





"Hmm? What? I'm Pedro."

And so Pedro it is. My son has become a Spanish version of Peter, so benamed by his brother. And he loved it.

All of this reminded me of a similar game I invented with my little brother: Queen and Slave.

He loved it too. Seriously.

(There are some perks to being the older sibling.)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Alphabetical Interpretation

Look who can spell his name with Wiki Sticks. :)

And look who else.

Check out the arms on that E.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Left Brain... Right Brain.

I have two artists.

I have one linear thinker.

And one who is not so much.

I like how they think.

Bring it on, world.

Together, I think these two can handle whatever you've got.

Awe and Wonder

There are few things more magical than the very first snowfall of the winter.

There were big, furry flakes that you could very nearly catch just by watching.

Later in the season, I think they'll remember what to do in the snow.
But today, they just watched.
In awe and wonder.

Random Rest

"Tyler, what are you doing?"

"I just need to rest. Right now."

Right on the sidewalk, in front of the entrance to Qdoba.

Gotta love a three-year-old.

Halloween Highlights

Introducing, Green Power Ranger and his brother, Blue Power Ranger. They prefer to be introduced as such. And they speak to each other as such.

I simultaneously love Tyler's sewn-in muscles, his need to touch them, and his preparedness to bow deeply at any moment.

The trick or treating family: Power Rangers, TBDBITL member, and a bride, or a princess, or a princess bride. I answered to all three.

The Loot. 116 in each basket. Roughly. Dwindling by the day, as I have eaten approximately 4,000 m&ms.
And because nobody can get quite enough of these Power Rangers, we lived in those alter egos for days.

If I had a dollar for every time a person said, "So, it's still Halloween at your house then?" I'd go ahead and buy next year's costumes.
I sure would.
Here's to a holiday for pretending, dressing up, and sharing chocolates with Mommy.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

I've Got Sunshine On a Cloudy Day.

Today, Tyler learned the song My Girl.

He has changed the chorus:

I guess you'd say,
what can make me feel this way?
My Mom, My Mom.


At bedtime, we put on his jammies, and he ran downstairs for final moments of play. He came running back moments later. "Mommy, I forgot something!"

"Whadja forget, kiddo?"



(I would pretty much buy him the moon, this very day.)

Merrily, merrily...

"Row, row, row your boat, gently down the drain."

~ Tyler

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Celestial Topics

As we drove the route to preschool this morning, the boys had much to say.

"Mommy, the sun is in outer space. And other planets too."

"You're right, Tuck. Lots of planets. Jupiter, Mars, Mercury, Saturn, Pluto..."


They're thinking of a big, happy dog with a long, sloppy tongue.

"Yep, Pluto."

Tyler, occasionally the voice of reason, warned us all, "But Tucker, the sun can burn you. Don't go there."

"I still might like to go there," Tuck said, glancing absently out the window of the minivan, up into the sky.

"You know what, guys? When I was a little girl, my friends and I used to play spaceship on the swings on the playground. We would swing as high as we could, and we pretended to take off into outer space. Then we would slow down our swings, hop off, and pretend that we had landed on the sun. We hopped around in the grass, shouting, 'Our shoes are burning! Our shoes are burning!' And then we'd hop back on our spaceships and go back to earth, just before we all melted to bits on the face of the sun."

Their faces smile gently with the idea of their mom as a little girl with an imagination.

"Did you really go, Mommy?" asked Tyler, ever unclear about that hazy line between reality and fantasy.

"No, buddy. We just pretended. We pretended to go up there to see all those planets."

Tucker, still looking out the window, said, "God made all those planets."

"He sure did. And he made you."

"I can't see God, Mommy. See? I'm looking all around, and I can't see him." Tuck waved his arms in his carseat, as if reaching for the Invisible God.

"I know, kiddo. But he's there. And if you ask him, he'll come into your heart. And he'll live there. He'll help you to feel loved, and he'll help you do the right thing, and he'll listen to everything you say, and when you die, he'll take you to heaven. Jesus is in my heart, and he's in Daddy's too."

Tyler perked up. "But, Mommy, you didn't die."

"No, I didn't. But someday I will. And when I do, I'll go to heaven. Because I invited Jesus to live in my heart."

Tyler wanted to talk all about heaven, so I told him the things I believe to be true: We'll eat our favorite things. We'll have a big party, where we'll sing and dance all night long. We'll run and play together in wide open fields, as fast and as far as we want. And we'll get to be with God, every single day. In fact, he's building a house for us to live in.

And then, Tucker handed me some pretty important words.

With a far away voice, he said, "Mommy, sometimes I don't like this place at all. I really think heaven will be so much better. I just want to go there."

I agreed, with all my heart.

And I asked him not to go without me.


We hosted a colleague of Robb's for dinner tonight. Tyler greeted him and said, "Hi, Mr. Nate. This is my Mommy. She drops birthday cakes. Daddy doesn't. Mommy does."

Yep. Let's just lay it all out there. Make sure he knows the truest bits of my character.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Not My Idea.

Grapes in Honey Mustard.

Mandarin Oranges in Ketchup.


Fruit with accessories.

Dig in, Little Dippers.