Friday, August 27, 2010

Quick Takes, #13

#1: Since we're finally getting a break from the heat, the boys and I went for a walk last night. Not only was it nice to enjoy being outdoors, but I was glad to get some much-needed exercise which I've been neglecting since it's been so hot. I think we'll do it again soon!

#2: Speaking of my need for exercise, have I mentioned the cream filled long johns at the donut shop closest to our house? They are absolutely sinful, they are so delicious. I really wanted one this morning, but am happy to say I managed to not turn in to the parking lot as we drove by. Thankfully the donut shop closes at 11 a.m. - I'm not sure I'd have that kind of will power on the way home after a day at work.

#3: Our grandbaby and his parents were over at our house for dinner Wednesday night. As we prepared to eat, he was tired but fighting sleep. I got the pleasure of holding him close, rocking him gently until he gave in to what he knew he needed. What a nice to feeling to have a little one asleep in my arms.

#4: My step-dad retired in the spring after over 40 years of teaching. This week students came back to school in their district and for the first time in all those years he wasn't there. I was concerned for him, especially since my mom is still teaching. But, no concern necessary...he's doing great and enjoying his freedom!

#5: In the mornings when we open the garage door, my boys have a habit of stepping out into the open and saying, "Good morning, world!" I love it!

#6: I overheard a conversation in a restaurant this week where three men were talking politics. They were mostly like-minded so their conversation was quite jovial and relaxed. However, I was not of the same mind and was really struggling with some things that were being said within ear shot of my children. I couldn't help but wonder - how do I teach my children to be compassionate and understanding in a world that seems to be getting more divided and volatile?

#7: Of course, my children weren't paying attention to the content of said conversation. The only concern either of them showed was when 2 out of the 3 men were laughing. The two-year-old got a perplexed look on his face as he pointed to the one who was not fully participating and said, "He not laughing. What wrong?"

Have a great weekend...relax and enjoy a laugh or two. And for more Quick Takes go on over to visit Jen at Conversion Diary.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Bigger Picture #9: Small Kindnesses Matter

One evening this week the boys and I were out for a fancy (okay, really it was fast food) dinner. There was a mother in front of us in line. Her husband was seated across the restaurant with their two young children. She ordered their food and then was waiting for it.

When their food was ready it filled two trays. As she turned around to carry them to the table, a container of dipping sauce fell off. She looked at it briefly and I heard her say to herself, "I'll come back for that." She then carried the food off to their table, planning to return for the sauce.

The four-year-old and I both saw the sauce fall. We made eye contact and I said to him, "You could take that to her." He eagerly did just that, running over, setting it down on the table and then quickly departing nearly before she realized what he had done. But I, from across the room, could see the gratitude on the face of a woman with two small children whose fast food experience I could relate to.

I was reminded right then that small kindnesses matter. It would have been so easy to not even notice what she had dropped. It would have been easy to not even respond. But I'm glad we did notice and I'm glad we did respond.

I'm glad my children have been on both the giving and receiving end of small kindnesses. I hope I keep remembering how important they are.

What's your Bigger Picture moment from the week? Go on over to Maegan's and share your story by linking up.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

I'm Drinking Virtual Coffee...Want to Join?

Amy at Lucky Number 13 has created a link to invite others to join in her Virtual Coffee. So, today I thought I'd sit a spell along with her and others. You might want to, too.

If we were meeting for coffee today...

You would learn that I don't drink coffee (pause for collective gasp). My vice is pop, though I try to limit to one a day. If it was a cooler morning (or the air conditioning where we were meeting was more than doing its job), I'd likely have a chai tea or hot chocolate.

I would tell you how proud I am of the church I serve. We have just concluded our first capital campaign and despite a difficult economy and the fact that so many weren't sure we could, we not only hit our goal, but we have exceeded it! I would explain what a big deal this is and how much it says about who our congregation has become and is becoming.

I would ask you if had any suggestions for where we should vacation this fall, as I talked about how much our family needs some time together. Right now with busy schedules it is a rare occurance for myself, my husband and our children to all be in the same space for more than a few minutes.

I would tell you how one of the four-year-old's teachers told me that he was asking her how to tell time on a real clock and that she is going to start working with him on that. I would tell you how grateful I am for teachers who do more than what's expected and how amazed I am that my four-year-old is wanting to learn this.

If we were having "coffee" together, I would simply be grateful for time, too fleeting and too infrequent, time to just sit and visit with a girlfriend...time that I treasure but rarely seem to find these days. I would say thank you!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Tightrope Walking

This morning...very early this 1 o'clock this morning...the two-year-old and I were having a conversation. (Not our normal conversation time, by the way)

He had woken about 12:30 a.m. and needed a glass of milk - just ask him, he'll tell you. Actually I did believe he probably could use it since he hadn't been feeling well all day and had hardly eaten at all. I was just thankful not to have to make a sandwich or pancakes or something in the middle of the night.

So, he drank a little milk and then we laid on the couch together. First we were at one end cuddled up. Then he moved to other end so our legs and feet comingled in the middle. Finally he said, "I need more milk, momma."

"Should I get that for you?" I asked.

"I save your place. I be your best friend," he replied.

I smiled as I wandered back to the kitchen to retrieve more milk. And when I returned, there he lay at my end of the couch "saving my place."

I've had several reflections on this interaction since.

My first thought was this: I can't help but pause and wonder how my two-year-old already knows about things like saving places and having best friends. And I really can't help but wonder how he already knows the power of calling someone his best friend (or telling them they are not, which he also does). Of course, I know that between an older sibling, a daycare setting where he spends time with older kids, and his natural brillance (of course there's that!), I shouldn't be surprised when he knows things that I reserve for older children.

My second thought was this: There is power in a two-year-old calling you his best friend (especially at 1 o'clock in the morning). Who wouldn't want to be his best friend when that means a snuggle on the couch?

But, that thought led to another (as often happens) and I was suddenly hearing all these conversations I hear from parents regarding whether parents and kids can be friends.

Some say no, absolutely not. You are his parent, not his friend.

Some say yes, so much so that the direction and discipline that is intrinsic to parenting flies out the door.

I wonder if our first question doesn't have to be about definition - how are we defining friend?

I don't need to be the one my children gossip with or paint their nails with or go shoppig with...okay, yes, I know I have boys, I just don't know what boys do with their friends - I'm a girl! (And I have lots to learn before they become teenagers!) Point made, though, right? I hope that my children have people of their own age, their own experience with whom they can play, talk, and even complain about their mom.

But I like to think that somehow, carefully, I can be both parent and friend. I like to think that I can be the one who guides and correct and cheers on, while also being the one who relaxes and enjoys and hears their hearts.

I am a both/and kind of girl. And I believe our parent/child relationship is modeled after our God/human relationship which I also understand to be both/and.

Yes, God is God - God is our creator; God is divine; God is the one who guides and directs us, the one whose judgment is better than ours.

And yes, God is friend; God is near to us; God is constant companion; God is intimacy; God invites us to be partners in living and in kingdom building.

I read both of these in scripture. I experience both of these in my relationship with God.

And I like to believe with some good judgment and sometimes what feels a lot like tightrope walking we as parents can still be parents while coming beside our children as friends.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Quick Takes, #12

#1: I almost had a date with my husband this week. We had lunch...just the two of I suppose it counts. It was last minute and shoved between work meetings, but it was still conversation face to face.

#2: Because I'm stubborn and not really counting lunch as a date with my husband, I'm hoping we might get one tomorrow night. The boys' older sister wanted time with them, so she has them tomorrow night and I just got set free from the church commitment I had. So...maybe...

#3: Our schools around here began the new year this week. The four-year-old is anticipating when he starts kindergarten (yes, a year from now) and had several questions this week. First, he asked what day next August he would start school. Of course I don't know, but had I been able to tell him, he probably would have remembered (he's just that kind of kid). Second, he asked if any of his preschool friends will go to the same school as him. Because of locations (daycare is by my work and he'll be in school near our home), I doubt it, but again...I don't know. Finally he asked if I would go to a new work when he goes to a new school. I told him probably not. At least not that I know of.

#4: I'm working on planning a family vacation for the fall - late October, perhaps November. The main point is just to spend some time together. It doesn't have to be any place with big attractions or one of those once in a lifetime locations. Just somewhere away. Any ideas? Any place you've loved being with your family and young children?

#5: I had eaten Bagel Thins (shaped like a bagel, the flavor of a bagel, not so thick and packed with more fiber) at my mom's. Then she had brought me some on her last visit because I couldn't find them. But guessed it...I found them at our local grocery! Guess what we had for dinner?!? Guess what we'll have for breakfast tomorrow?!?

#6: What is it about religion that often seems to make people think they have to have the right answer and everyone whose answer is different than theirs is wrong? I don't get that. And I've been in several conversations lately with people who really struggle with that and who, because of that, are really turned away from God. What purpose does that serve?

#7: I read a book this last week! No, not an illustrated, rhyming children's book. One with paragraphs and pages in the hundreds. A simple novel about friendship. Not the best book I've ever read, but just what I needed.

For more Quick Takes visit Jen.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Conversation in the Car

This was our conversation in the car this morning:

(After looking to see that the two-year-old had his pouty face on)

Me: What's wrong?

Two-year-old: (grunt)

Me: (trying to cheer him up) I love you!

Two-year-old: No. And I don't love you!

Me: I do love you...

Four-year-old: (interrupting) And she'll love you forever. She'll even love you if you die and she'll wish for you.

Two-year-old: I don't want to die.

Me: No, baby, you aren't going to die. He didn't say you were going to die, but if you did I'd still love you.

Two-year-old: I don't want to die.

Me: You aren't going to die for a long, long time (I want to be able to tell him he never will...but that's just not true...I hope I can assure him that it won't happen for a long, long time)

Two-year-old: I don't want to die.

Four-year-old: You are still very young. Even mommy and daddy aren't old enough to die. You won't die until you are very old.

Two-year-old: I knew that.

Bigger Picture #8: Loving Who He Is

Tuesday morning I shut off my alarm and fell back to sleep. When I did wake up, it was to the voices of my two boys. I opened my eyes to see both the four-year-old and the two-year-old standing their saying, "Wake up, Mommy!"

I told them good morning and began to have conversation with them. It wasn't until the two-year-old said to me, "I climbed out of my crib," that it even occurred to me that he's never come to my room in the morning, I always go to his!

Now, let me say, I did know he could climb out of his crib. He has done it, not frequently, but on several occasions. But, never in the morning. Our usual morning routine is that he wakes up and then when he's ready, he calls to us, somehow seeming to know what day it is and which parent to call for. But, on Tuesday, he climbed out and came to wake me up.

At first I was surprised that I wasn't more surprised by his presence at my bedside. But then it occurred to me...I wasn't surprised because even though he's my baby, I do see him as a big boy and I am happy with who he is growing up to be.

I'm not quite ready to give up the crib. It will take several more morning escapes for that to happen.

But for now I just remain hopeful that each day when he (or his brother) greets me - whether he is two or twelve or twenty-two - I will look at him and simply love who he is right then and there.

For more Bigger Picture Moments visit Melissa.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

What an Honor!

I'm so honored to share that I've been the recipient of the "Cherry on Top" Award thanks to Hyacynth who you can visit at Undercover Mother. Hyacynth delights me with her thoughtfulness and her storytelling as she shares life, as I do, with two delightful little boys. And, after just learning that vacuuming makes her heart flutter, I adore her even more. :) Thank you Hyacynth for considering my blog award-worthy.

Now, on to the assignment that comes with this award. I am to list three things that you don't know about me and include a picture.

#1: I'm not sure I could make it to 11 a.m. without a Dr. Pepper (although I often think I should put some effort in to breaking this addiction).

#2: It is usually easy for me to see the good in several options, to see both sides of an issue. I claim it's because I'm a Gemini - although I'm not sure I spend too much time worrying about what my "sign" says about me. It's one of the things I most like about myself and one of the things I least like about myself. Needless to say it sometimes translates into indecisiveness.

#3: Perhaps in relation to #2...I struggle with living 8 hours away from my family of origin. There is nothing I would like better than to move back to Iowa, even to my hometown. Meanwhile, there is nothing in me that says we're done here in SW Missouri, so there is no plan to move. Thankfully (as I have mentioned before) my children have great relationships with my parents, sister, grandparents, and other family and friends despite the distance. I will simply remain grateful for our connectedness in both places.
Now, here's a picture...although it's now over a year old, it's one of my favorites of myself and the boys.
I also have the honor of passing this award on to five other bloggers, so here it goes...

#1: I first must award Sarah at This Heavenly Life. Sarah was first my in-real-life friend with whom I shared two pregnancies...we gave birth to both of our children within a month of each other. Although we've shared so much, including our journey into motherhood, it wasn't until she began blogging that I realized what a great writer she is. Although I was somewhat familiar with blogs before, I really credit Sarah with both my desire to regularly read blogs as well as my choice to write one (she definitely deserves credit for my blog becoming a reality - I couldn't have set it up without her!).

#2: I also pass this award on to Christine at Coffees and Commutes. Since beginning to read Christine's blog, there have been so many times when I've said, "Yes, exactly!" or "Me, too!" while reading. I am thankful for her honesty in writing. Reading her blog challenges me to work on being more open in my own writing.

#3: The next award goes to Young Mom at Musings of a Young Mom. I've been so impressed with how openly she has shared her journey of faith and life as she is seeking and finding new understandings. Setting aside those ideas that we've clinged to for so long is never easy, but she is doing it with grace.

#4: Sarah at Emerging Mummy also gets an award from me. I so admire the way she speaks her heart openly even to issues of controversy. While I find myself often wondering how others will respond, Sarah sets an example by being true to herself.

#5: Finally I want to aware Lenae at Just Lenae. Lenae's blog is lovely and real as she chronicles the live and love of her family.

Have a great day!

For What Do We Pray?

Today it is overcast and far cooler than it's been for weeks. While I'm enjoying this change in weather - the cooler temps, the lack of sun beating down and baking everything within its reach - my four-year-old is concerned.

"Is it going to rain today, Mom?" he asked first thing this morning. I had to look out the window...I hadn't even taken time to notice the weather.

"It might," I replied, enjoying the thought of a summer rain.

Rain didn't enter our conversation again until we were in the car on our way in to town.

"Mom, you need to pray," said the four-year-old.

Pray. Okay. I can do that. But, what's this request about, I wondered.

"Why?" I asked.

"You need to ask God to not let it rain."

Ah, my child is worried that rain will interrupt his much needed outdoor play at school. He wants the weather to cooperate with his plans.

But, how do I respond? I want my children to know they can talk to God about anything. I also want them to understand that God isn't there to give them everything they want whenever they ask (or demand) it.

I did respond...with carefully chosen words...walking the tightrope between these two realities...perhaps with more of an answer than my four-year-old needed.

But, how would you respond? How do you help your children find that balance? How do you find it?

Friday, August 13, 2010

Quick Takes, #11: Actually Random

#1 - I had lunch with our two week old grandbaby this week. Well, his mommy and I ate, but he kept us company. Is it bad that both myself and his mommy were commenting that one of his cutest faces is the frown right before he lets out a cry? He's just so cute when his mouth turns down and his forehead wrinkles that it's hard to do much but smile. However, he does know how to make himself known and is sure to get comforted when the crying ensues.

#2 - Speaking of our new grandbaby - his daddy went back to work this week and his mommy goes back to school next week. Their life is about to get into the "usual rhythm" - whatever that is. Please send good thoughts and prayers their way as they get back to their routines and as they figure out how those routines work with a new little one in their midst.

#3 - I was reading this post and was really struck by those four words, "At the same moment." Wow - so much does happen at the same moment. My joy lays next to someone else's sorrow. My anxiety next to someone else's eagerness. But even beyond that, I find these things happening within me. My joy and sorrow anxiety and eagerness excitement and exhaustion intermingle. Isn't it amazing?

#4 - The four-year-old's swimming lessons ended today. It's amazing how much he learned. I actually watched him swim the length of his teacher's pool BY HIMSELF. It is pretty amazing!

#5 - Tonight on the way home from swimming the four-year-old did a favorite thing which is to tease me by saying, "I don't love you." Of course, the two-year-old chimed right in, "I don't love you, too, Mommy." But I didn't have to listen...the four-year-old responded to him before I could. "But she'll always love you," he told his little brother. I had to smile...he's been listening!

#6 - I recently mentioned my grandparents in a blog. I have to comment on them again. In the last month both my grandma and my grandpa have written sweet letters to my four-year-old in response to drawings/notes he has sent them in the mail. It just warms my heart that they take the time to do that and I love that he is learning about old fashioned, hand written correspondence.

#7 - I need a date with my husband. Perhaps I should make sure that happens.

Quick Takes are in a new location for this week, so for more be sure to visit Hallie over here.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Bigger Pictures #7: Taking a Breath

The four-year-old has been in swimming lessons the last two weeks. He loves the water. He loves being in the water. He loves being under the water.

As I've watched him in lessons each evening, I've been impressed with the way he pays attention to his teacher. I've been impressed with the way he sits - quite still - and watches as she gives instruction and even as she helps other children try what she's teaching. It's been fun to watch as his mind grasps all the concepts and sometimes it's been funny to watch as his body tries to put them into practice.

I can say that he has made great progress. He is now actually able to swim across the pool. Last night he figured out how - without the help of his teacher - to remain afloat on his back. He's doing really well.

As I've watched him what I've noticed is that his biggest challenge is remembering to take a breath. He will swim for great distances on whatever air he started with and come up gasping for air. The instruction his teacher has had to give most often to him is, "Lift up your head...take a breath."

Watching this gave me pause to think how often we forget to "take a breath." We go here and run there, we accomplish this and mark that off our lists, we are busy with family, with jobs, with volunteer work, with friends, with our homes, with our churches, with so many things and yet sometimes we forget to refuel, to rest, to allow ourselves to get the energy we really need to do these things.

So, today, I'm going to practice finding my breath...slowing down...making sure that I get filled back up after giving so much away. Thanks to my four-year-old for this important lesson.

For more Bigger Picture Moments visit Sarah.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Kudos to Young Mom

Not much to say today except to point you toward Young Mom's recent blog as she reflects on the last year since theirs has been a spanking-free household.

I've written here before about my own commitment to not spanking. I love the fact that she has shared her journey of discovery as she's made a shift in her parenting style. Her reflections on the changes she's seen in her kids and herself are wonderful.

Saturday, August 7, 2010


Over the sounds of the dishwasher and washing machine both running I hear something wonderful...


from two boys who are playing together.

I think I'll just sit and listen.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Quick Takes, #10: Stuff I Loved

I'm not sure what's motivating this post. Perhaps it's the fact that we just had a grandbaby and so baby stuff is on my mind. Perhaps it's the fact that our house is nearly absent of baby stuff because our little boys have grown out of so much of it and I'm happy with the stage we're in. It's likely that many who read are also past the baby stage as well, but I'm just going to take a moment to reflect on baby stuff I wouldn't have wanted to live without.

#1: Ducky Bag Holder (and the bags in it): This cute little companion remains in our diaper bag (the two-year-old is not yet potty trained) and has been our best friend for four and a half years now. He contains a roll of trash bags for the disposal of diapers. Since we've always been on the go with the boys, it's been nice to know I always had a bag handy for diaper disposal. I never wanted to be that person who left someone else's house smelling like...

#2: Dreft Stain Remover: I'm sure there are other brands that work just as well, but our cabinet has not been without Dreft Stain Remover for four and a half years. I have found that it works well on everything from poop to spit up to food to more grown up stains like ink and oil.

#3: Binkies: Yes, I know some people think a child should never be given a pacifier, but my boys were both binky addicts and I supported their addictions. In fact, the two-year-old has one in his mouth and one in each hand right now. I think it's great for folks who don't use them, but for us they worked and when he was ready, our oldest left his binkies for the Easter Bunny and went cold turkey. I haven't worried too much about breaking the habit...I've never seen a 17-year-old taking one to prom.

#4: A Soft Blankie: Both of my boys have wonderful, soft blankies that have been great companions (and a source of jealousy for my husband and I who have often wondered why they don't make adult sized blankets in that fabric).

#5: A Rocking Chair: And let me start by saying that I'm not really a "sit and rock the baby for hours on end" sort of gal. I know people who really could just sit and hold a baby all day. That's not me. I love the feeling of a baby, especially my babies, in my arms, but my mind is often racing with the many things I need to be doing. But, our rocking chair was a wonderful place for me to quiet those voices and be present with my boys, especially during feedings.

#6: Baby Book: Although there are still incomplete pages in both of my boys' baby books, I am a person who likes to record and remember. I loved having a place to write down what they were doing and what they were like at different points along the journey. I love to go back and read them.

#7: Breasts: Okay, not something you can buy at the store, but something I wouldn't have wanted to go through the baby stage without. I loved breast feeding my children. I loved the connection that I felt with them. I loved the power of knowing that my body was providing just what they needed. I loved the fact that it gave us time together - time that couldn't be pushed off or forgotten but that demanded it be taken.

What was your "can't live without" baby item? Even though I won't be needing it, I'd love to hear...maybe I'll buy it for an expectant mother someday!

Click here for more Quick Takes and have a great weekend!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Bigger Picture #6: Speaking What We Feel

One day this week I listened to my voicemail only to hear a message from my sister in which she said that she just wanted to tell me that she liked me. She went on to comment that she doesn't tell me that often enough, but she wanted me to know.

I was so amused and delighted by her sweet message that I laughed aloud as I listened which caused the four-year-old to ask what I was laughing at. I told him, explaining that his aunt had just left me a message to say that she liked me. His response (perfectly appropriate for his age) was self-focused, "Instead of us?" I went on to explain to him that it wasn't instead of he and his brother. No, in fact, they know that their aunt likes them very much.

What I said to him was this: Sometimes adults forget to tell each other than we like each other. We do a better job telling kids that we like them and love them.

I couldn't help but also remember a conversation I had with a 90-something year old woman one day when she was in the hospital. As I went to leave she said, "I love you." Then she added, "We just don't say that often enough."

"I like you."

"I love you."

These are both important sentences for us to say and to and from both the big and little people in our lives. I think I'll work on stating my feeling more often to those who make a difference in my life. After all, I want them to know.

Don't forget to visit Hyacynth for more Bigger Picture Moments.

Monday, August 2, 2010

On Being Second

Melissa wrote here about her youngest going to VBS today - the first time she'll be dropped off somewhere without her mom or big brother physically present. After all, she (like many of us) is a second child.

Her post has caused me to again wonder about how different my two-year-old's experience of life is from my four-year-old's. Interestingly enough, I am a second child and I haven't spent time wondering how that made my perspective different from my sister's. Until I had children of my own, although I'd thought about birth order issues, I'd not considered it the same way. Now, even though I'll never really know what to attribute to my children's birth order, I can't help but wonder.

Just recently, when we were preparing to go to Iowa for my cousin's wedding, the two-year-old said, "I go to I-wa...wit-out you, Mama, and wit-out brudder." I was shocked. Our children have spent many nights without their parents, both at home and at relatives' homes, so I wasn't surprised he would go without me. But, without his brother? I have often wondered how he would do if we sent him alone, but it never occured to me that he would think of such an idea. I'm still amazed.

Because really, all he's known is being with his brother. Yes, they are separated at times - he's in the nursery while his brother is old enough to go to Sunday school; they've been in different rooms at daycare (although since February they've been together there). But, the two-year-old doesn't know a world without the four-year-old.

Even as a second child, I don't know that I can name the many ways that makes life different, but here are a few:

A second child always has a companion.

A second child always has a competitor.

A second child never has all the attention and love, but has more than enough.

A second child has another by which to measure his or her accomplishments.

A second child has another from which to differentiate himself or herself.

A second child never knows mine without also knowing ours.

I'm sure this list could go on and on. And I'm one of those who believes that one experience isn't better or worse, they are just different. And I hope, whether we're talking about issues of personality differences or those that are truly impacted by birth order, that I will parent my children for who they are...who they are individually, but also who they are within our family and this world.

I hope that my children will grow up to know that they are exactly who they are supposed to be.