Monday, July 27, 2009

A Fly Went By

I'm not very good at concealing my feelings/reactions to things, and unfortunately, Caiden is extremely adept at reading me regardless. But, I'm working on it. I don't want her opinions to be shaped by my feelings.

At the Beach last week, my friend Carissa found a very large, very dead, dragonfly shell. By that, I mean that it was its exoskeleton, and wings, nothing inside. She showed it to us, and my immediate reaction was "cool- don't make me touch it- ech!" But I kept my mouth shut. Caiden was fascinated. Not only did she touch it, but she carried it around for a while. A LONG while. Long enough for me to begin thinking of how I could convince her that the poor guy needed to stay on the beach. I could just see him becoming dust in the hubbub of traveling back up to the condo and that would have been traumatic. Thankfully, she decided his final resting place herself, and we continued on without incident. I was amazed. Usually when bugs are involved, she freaks out. Even just flies cause her to flip. Lately, I had begun to wonder if her reaction to them was mirroring my own. (I HATE spiders and recently been startled by two in her presence. Let's just say I wasn't a gracious hostess...) Thus, the new sensitivity to my own reactions. Maybe I needn't worry- because lately, she's begun to show an interest in all small scurrying things after all- including the lizards that squeeze into our back porch to escape the heat. Maybe this is the beginning of something new... (as long as she doesn't ask them to stay with us...!)

While Caiden was exploring, Addison was chillin on the towel.

(Don't worry, she was slathered up nice and slippery, and only spent a few minutes in direct sunlight.)

Saturday, July 25, 2009


In college one word we heard a lot in the context of serving others was reciprocity. The idea was that as you are pouring your life out for another that you reciprocally will be blessed and re-filled just by the process of being in relationship and loving them. Honestly, that's a great idea, but it isn't always true. At least not for me. Maybe that's my fault, I don't know. Either way, I got a glimpse of it today in a little different way that I expected.

I volunteered a few hours of my time to talk with new Mama's or soon-to-be Mama's at a baby expo today about how to avoid or heal from a cesarean section. As always it was sobering and emotional to hear their stories, their disappointments, their sadness and pain from the emotional/mental and of course physical implications of this surgery. But I also got to encourage them, cheer them on, educate them and celebrate with them for a few moments on their journey. Full.

When I got home, I had an hour in which I had to pull the house together before we had company for dinner, make dessert and a salad. Knowing that there was much to do in a small amount of time, Addison decided she would pitch in too, but instead of sleeping as usual during this time slot, she screamed. THE WHOLE TIME. Then Caiden came home and she proceeded to whine, cry, disobey and generally add to the distressed ambiance of our home. What is this- a conspiracy? The thing is, I should have known. Any time you absolutely HAVE to get something done with time constraints, that's when everything hits the fan. Are babies born with a sixth sense? Are they genetically predisposed to cause disruptions at the most inopportune times? It was one of those times when everything so falls apart that all you can do is laugh because the only other solution includes a box of tissue and a generous helping of self-pity. Unfortunately for me, when I laughed at the sheer lunacy of the moment, Caiden took it personally and collapsed in tears. Oops. It seems that I traded my sanity for hers. Not a good trade.

I put the dessert on hold. The floors didn't get swept. The salad was a distant memory. I focused on being present. I was consistent.

Rabbit trail: let me just say, being consistent is hard. For a moment I actually wished I was one of those parents who just made a bunch of threats and then let my kid walk all over me. Who needs discipline anyway? Or maybe just one of those parents who chose to ignore their child's emotional needs in favor of a clean home. I like clean homes....

But I love my children. So that means that I make every effort for meet their emotional needs, while also drawing boundaries for their safety, character development and in the long run, comfort.

At the end of their night, I took a few minutes (and fought the urge to watch the clock!) to snuggle with Caiden in her glider before bed. As I placed her in her crib, she cupped my face in her hands and said with a smile that warmed my heart to the core, " Mama, thank you for loving me."

Full. I'm so glad I took the time to be present. I could have traded that moment for any number of tasks and all of them would have fallen so very short on the fulfillment meter. My daughter feeling loved was more important than the salad that never got made.

After the girls were down, I went out to be with our company who happened to be former students of ours- now sophomores in college. These are kids with whom we have shared our life, and it was so good to have them around again. They asked a simple question, and I was honest and vulnerable. It's been a long time since I've shared on that level. They listened, asked questions, they shared.

I am so thankful for this day, for God's grace through it all, for the filling, for reciprocity. And now, I am thankful for my bed- good night!

Friday, July 17, 2009

I'm one of THOSE Mamas!

This angelic sweetness is the impetus for three wardrobe changes today before the noon hour. Motherhood is such a messy career! I'm pretty sure that this job ranks in the top five: the first four (fishermen, butchers, coroners, sewage workers) being means of employment I would not embrace if my life depended upon it! Yes, I left out garbage men because in our neighborhood they have trucks that have mechanical arms that do all their work while they supervise from their air conditioned cabs- they don't make the cut! But I digress...

Along the lines of your offspring being the producers of surprisingly large quantities of bodily fluids, I realized today how far I've fallen in the ranks of caretakers everywhere. You see, prior to children, I thought Mothers who cleaned their children's faces with their saliva was disgusting. Now I do it regularly. (Sorry precious daughters, I will try to regain control before your 8th birthdays, or for sure your the very latest year 11- I wouldn't want to ruin your chances of gathering some dignity before middle school!) However today Caiden came to me and asked me to pick her boogers. Not wanting my daughter's air flow to be impeded, I grabbed a tissue and told her to blow. After almost a dozen failed attempts to dislodge the offender, Caiden lost patience, "Just pick it out, WITH YOUR FINGER!!" Not wanting to fail my daughter, I reluctantly obliged. She was rather satisfied with the result- I was not. Gross. But, who am I kidding, I've already had worse on my clothing, in between my toes, and all over the carpet- just this morning!

I forgave her when upon consuming her last bite of veggie lasagna she said brightly, "Mama, that was my last bite and now I can have some chocolate pudding! Isn't that so e'citing?!! Yes my love, that IS so e'citing!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

She said...

Last night at the dinner table Caiden started singing to herself. Typically we take the opportunity to teach her dining etiquette in situations like this..."it is impolite to sing at the table...", but that night, I was too busy getting things on the table and we were eating late, and I was lost in the to do list for the remainder of the evening. Caiden interrupted my reverie declaring, "Mama, I'm not singing at the table, I'm singing at the light." Hmm. maybe I should have specified more carefully: it's impolite to sing while SITTING at the bad.) =)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Our adventures

The first week of July we decided to be very adventurous and take a serious road trip- to Michigan! Jeff had a conference for pastors at Mars Hill - Rob Bell's church, and so we were going along to make a vacation out of it. The plan was to leave at night, drive as far as we could to make good time while the girls were sleeping, and stop over night at my parent's property in TN. We would sleep, and then leave the following morning to drive the second leg of the trip during day light. The goal was to arrive on Saturday so that we could go to church at Mars Hill on Sunday. The conference ended on Tuesday, so we were going to leave on Wednesday and meander on down to Chicago to see what there was to see there. At some point we were going to stop back in TN to visit and spend some much needed time with my family.
This is how it really went down. We left at 8:30 at night, drove until 12 or so, and then Jeff couldn't stay awake any longer. He pulled into a rest area where he "slept" and where I fielded girls all night- one would wake up, I'd get them out of the car, feed or calm them down, and try and get them back to sleep. We got back on the road around 6am. A few hours later Jeff started feeling ill. We stopped for lunch and he slept in the car. When we got back on the road, he was really feeling sick and getting worse. Finally he agreed to let me drive the rest of the way. After arriving at the property, he went straight to bed and didn't get up for two days. It was the worst flu that I've ever seen him catch. We weren't going to get to Michigan in time, nor was he feeling up to driving another 12 hours, so we cancelled our plans to continue on to MI. We were disappointed, but as the week progressed, we were glad that we had made that decision. As Jeff got better we were able to enjoy the property and my family who were able to be there too.

We had two and a half beautiful days there where we got to enjoy hiking, picking blackberries black raspberries, preparing green beans for canning, four wheeling, swinging in the hammock near the stream, making berry cobbler with their freshly picked berries, and spending time with my family. My parents have been very anxious for us to get up there and enjoy the property with them for a year and a half now, so we were glad to finally be able to do so.
When we left, we went to see Tallulah Gorge, a huge waterfall in GA. They have dammed it, but it is still rather intimidating. It was beautiful, and an incredible display of raw power. We went down the 1099 steps to get closer to the falls, and you know it was worth it when the 1099 steps back UP became an after thought.

The girls did beautifully traveling. I put a mirror in front of Addison which really entertained her, and took it away for nap time, =) Caiden entertained her sister when she got lonely, and sang her little heart out to cheer her up when she wanted to eat - 20 miles ago! Caiden's favorite way to pass the time was listening to my old Disney books on tape. That and little petting zoo animals, coloring, library books, and "I Spy" (like Where's Waldo but with tiny objects) books were big winners. Both of the girls were real troopers and we were very proud of both of them.
Every memory made has moments that we cherish close to our hearts. Mine include: listening to the girls laugh contagiously at each other in the back seat of the car (is there anything more beautiful to a parent's ears that their children loving each other?!), From his sick bed, Jeff telling me to go enjoy my family- (so sweet this man of mine!), watching my sisters love on my daughters, watching my Dad relax and be in the moment, fun moments of exploration, enjoying Tallullah Gorge with our little family, and picking berries. Caiden's favorites: finding a turtle on the top of the mountain, picking berries, swinging on the porch swing while Allie reads to her, and snuggling with Nana.
Addison enjoyed being OUT of the carseat, being held all the time, and seeing Daddy more than she's seen him in a few weeks.
Jeff's favorite moments? Well, I'll repeat the ones he has mentioned since we've been home: taking us to Tallullah Gorge, those two days he spent with my family was the most quality time he has had with them in the last four years, picking berries, four wheeling, enjoying being "disconnected" for a little while.
So, our adventure didn't quite take us as far as we planned, but it was lovely nonetheless. Thank you Jesus!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Lists updated

Post about vacation
Finish book on homeopathy
Creatively get through upcoming week without Daddy.
Decide on lamp
Begin new blog?

Preparing for interpreting job
Packing for vacation
Buy some homeopathics
Explore senses with C

In process:
Replacing elastic on Caiden's old FB for Addison
Planning Fall garden- currently mapping out sun in our suddenly shady backyard. The only all-day sunny spot is the only spot with nice grass in both the front and back...hmmm.

We had our first encounter with a naughty word today. Something startled Jeff in the yard, and he said, "What the heck was that?" Two seconds later Caiden mimicked him word for word. I was so shocked, I almost asked her what she said- but then quickly realized that would be unwise, and refrained. In that instant, time stood still momentarily. I found myself running through a series of choices in how I could respond: 1- freak out, 2. lecture, 3. ignore it, 4. laugh, 5. punish her, 6. yell at Jeff. I decided on #7- explain that ladies never use words like that because they are not nice words. Explain that Daddy made a mistake and that he will try to be better in the future. Explain that Mama and Caiden, and Addison and Cinderella (the clincher!) never use naughty words because we are ladies: we are polite, and kind, and sweet. A few minutes later I hear Caiden talking to herself: "I'm a lady so I never will say "what the heck..." I looked at her sidelong and held her gaze until she got my point. Then she said, " What the hiccup? Yes, that is a funny word, and not a naughty word. Mama, I was just talking about hiccups. It's okay" Lord have mercy- she's two...I wasn't expecting this for another few years!

Add: wash Jeff's mouth out with soap and have Caiden watch what happens to people when they use naughty words.