Friday, December 21, 2012

Such as These...Nathan and the Bell Ringers

Okay, so I am going about the mundane things of life during the holiday season.  The swanky grocery store in this small town has those red buckets with bell ringers at both entrances.  We don’t go to the swanky store all the time, just for small things that the more affordable store doesn’t carry.

I admit, I am getting lost in the hustle, trying to hold onto the reason for the season but things are getting a little overwhelming.  To many places to be, a few too many gift exchanges, a blessedly busy hobby and one kid that has been sick long enough that it nags at the heart of this mom and dad.

Here there and everywhere and in a glow of Christmas Spirit, I decide not to pass the bell ringer with just a smile but here, let me dig out my change.  There is a bunch of it weighing down my purse anyway, right?  The kids love putting the change in the bucket and maybe if they observe me giving, they will grow up giving too.  Right?

A few days later and that swanky store is right next to the post office which makes it handy.  Another friendly bell ringer and I think, glowing warmly inside, “I will just try to give something every time we come by, isn’t that a noble goal?”  Yes, noble, and I dig in my purse while surely a mother in some part of the world is watching her cold, hungry kiddo, wishing she had my change.

And another trip or two and the change keeps on coming, handing it out to three happy kids who stuff  it into the red bucket while the bell ringer smiles and says, “Merry Christmas, every bit helps.”  Are they trained to stay cheerful in the face of so many that walk on by?

So, a week ago, on Friday, a friend of my children happens to give a Christmas card to my boys.  In the card is two dollars for Nathan.  We get in the car and ride the two minutes to the swanky store.  I just have to run in and get milk and bread. As we pull in, we pass the bell ringers, two men chatting by the red bucket.  I park, grab my purse and start digging out change…let’s give something each time we go in, you know?

From the back seat, the uncontainable sound of a joyful voice, “I KNOW.  I can give them my two dollars.

Distracted by trying to dig out quarters, nickels and pennies, “Are you SURE you want to do that?  I have change that you can give…”

I can give my two dollars!  They need real money too!  I want to.”

I begin, “Are you…” then something, surely not my own heart, but something, stops me and I fight misty eyes and I tell him that would be wonderful.  For once I understand not to steal his joy and what a beautiful, simple joy it is and I remember words, words about a kingdom for such as these, words about not hindering the children to come to Him.

This boy, who always has a list of Legos that he’s saving up for, this boy who has had this found money for less than five minutes, is giving it away because they need money, too.  And he runs up to the red bucket and stuffs his two dollars in before I can even get there with the other kids and the bell ringers, they thank him.  But I have a problem, watching this giving joy pour out of him and knowing that boy the way I do, and I am nearly crying in front of the HT.  So, I try to explain and I want them to understand because this kid didn’t give money from his momma’s purse, he gave his own two mites that he had only two minutes.

These two bell ringers, men older than me by a bit, with their friendly faces, they see my feelings on my face and they see his pure smile and he’s hopping next to the bucket.  They pause and they try to convey that they know how really cool this moment is…and we say goodbye and we go inside.

Milk and bread and life goes on and I am treasuring these things in my heart.

We head out the door and those bell ringers, they stop us and ask his name.  Nathan can’t answer. His mouth is full of free sugar cookies from the balloon station.  They can’t leave their bucket but they have paused in their ringing and they want to talk to him, to make an impression on him like he has made an impression on them and they say so.

They tell Nathan that he has touched their hearts, giving all of his brand new two dollars, these two men giving their time because they must be the kind of people whose hearts are already touched enough to be spending an afternoon in the air ringing a bell and watching people like me scoot by or explain that they don’t carry cash anymore.

They have it ready, a $5 bill for each of my children and I don’t know how to handle this and I point at the bucket because I am tearing up again and they make it clear that they want these kids to have something for themselves.  Those men give Nathan the money and ask him to hand it out to his brother and sister and he does so, dutifully, unaffected by his sudden increase in wealth and his mouth still full of sugar cookie. They explain that they want Nathan to know that he touched them that day and they are pleased to meet all three of them and I am still not sure about the money but again, something stops me and I think I should not mess with this moment but let it be.

At home I call Nathan to me and I ask him if he understands the consequences of his gift.  I tell him that his sweet heart and his two dollars blessed me.  Then it blessed those men enough that they wanted to give back and I am sure that whatever they wanted to put in the bucket is right there in the bucket.  Their giving blessed Nathan and Robert and Nora and it isn’t even about money but about the heart.

I don’t know what Nathan will do with their gift but I know that my heart grew two sizes that day.
Merry Christmas

Friday, November 2, 2012

Stone Soup...a confession

I want to be good, to make Jesus happy.  I remember thinking those thoughts as I left the pew in my little church as a child and went forward toward a rather ordinary-looking grace that would change my life, hinder it though I may.  I went to Pastor David and told him I wanted to be saved, I wanted eternal life in the presence of God. When he asked me why I said that I wanted to make Jesus happy.

But I have a confession.  I don't make Jesus happy.  I bear bad fruit sometimes.  I want to do better.  I want to BE better.  I am showing my children how to grow bad fruit and that makes me sad.  I thought if I shared a little reality, it would help, sort of like a step-program...I confess to you.  I...I...I can't do it by myself, what I really need is a new heart.  Luckily, that is possible.

A deep breath in my soul and here it comes:

Judgement.  That's my sin.  At least the one I am most aware of today.

Perhaps my opinion of myself is low and so I feel better if I think I am achieving more or doing it better than someone else.
If I have a cleaner house then maybe I am not the worst person?
If my kids don't swear (yet?) then maybe something I do is worthy of righteousness or on the sliding scale of sin that is a total lie, I am not as bad as others and therefore I must be better than some?
If I manage to get make-up on and you didn't then I am a better wife right, even when I nag because it is all about the skin right?  Or is it the wallet?  No...that's not it either.

For whatever reason, I judge.  I look around and I think, "My ____ isn't perfect but I would never do that or at least my kids don't _____."  Hateful and there it is right on the ground between us.

But what should I do when I look around and see with truthful and loving eyes, see others in sin?

When the Jews ran to Jesus, dragging their guilty victim, talebearing in their hearts and on their tongues, our sinless King said,
"He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first."  John 8:7
Would I throw a stone at Her?  Who Her?  A beloved friend?  I would never! Right?  A relative or sister or some other precious, sinful Her like me?  Surely I would not.

But I do throw stones.  I throw them every day.  I throw them at my neighbors and people I see at the gas station.  I throw them at you and I throw them at my church and I throw them at myself.  And I hate those stones and they lay there accusing ME and calm moments like this when I can see into my own heart, I hope you don't even know and those stones hurt me.

Now comes the scary part, and the scary big promise right from the mouth of the King himself.

"For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.  And why do you look at the speck in your brothers eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?...Hypocrite, First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye."  Matthew 7:2, 3 and 5 NKJV
That's me in verse 5, Hypocrite with a plank in her eye.  This makes me fear deep in my soul and I am not talking about the watered down "reverential trust" kind of fear that your modern bible translation might offer, I am talking about respectful fear of Creator God who looked down on pre-flood mankind and was sorry He made them.

BUT, gracefully, the tide turns when you dive into the Word and learn about the God who does good for us because he loves us and for no other reason than that he chooses to love us, He who planned to love us from the very beginning.  Read Moses speech to Israel in Deuteronomy 7, 8 and 9, and though we aren't Israelites, you get deep insight into His mind and motives, "that He might humble and that He might test you, to do you good in the end." (Deuteronomy 8:16 NKJV)

And Moses relays God's message over and over in these chapters that it is not because of their righteousness that GOD SET HIS LOVE ON THEM.

Oh my, take a knee if you are able because He set His love on us.  We can only stiffly resist with our proud necks or let ourselves be crushed by the love that He set on us.  Crushed by His love.  May it be, My God, give me a new heart and let me be crushed by Your love, crush all the stones in me and soak me right up and accept my gratitude for this promise in your word...
"Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.  Judge not, and you shall not be judged.  Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned.  Forgive, and you will be forgiven.  Give and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom.  For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you."  Luke 6:36-38 NKJV
"For every tree is known by its own fruit."  Luke 6:44 NKJV
I have only to look at my fruit to see what kind of tree I am and we don't even want to go there...because God's word is not silent on the fate of trees, but it is full of promise, and the Word bears grace and it does not bear stones and so I want to leave my stones on the ground right here.

My sinful heart is broken and that is the only sacrifice that I really have anyway but luckily, it is not my sacrifice that matters...

And the promise in Luke, the warning and the promise that whatever measure we use it will be measured back to us and maybe not even equally, but in good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over and it will be put right into us but we need help.  

I can't change by myself but the Spirit, the Spirit can bear fruit right out of me, I am grafted onto something good and that is the fruit I want and I don't deserve good but the God of All went and set His love on me and poured out grace and there is literally and blessedly...nothing I can do to change that.

Blessedly crushed,

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happier than a pig in Mud...

In January, 10 months ago now, my husband and I decided to improve our physical fitness by creating a training and meal plan that would enable us to increase our strength and stamina while...never mind, we started counting calories and moving our backsides because we wanted to stop gaining weight and get in shape.

Being 40-something with three kids does not, in fact, doom a person to a life of going least not coasting down at high speeds.  If I am going down, I am doing it with two parachutes open and the brakes on!

Soon after, my husband discovered a worthy motivation.


This is an event where you pay the organizers to let you run miles and miles stopping only to crawl through, jump over, climb under, hang from, get shocked by, or freeze in whatever obstacle they have set up.  Oh yeah, the proceeds benefit Wounded Warriors.  Your thanks for completing the course?  An orange sweatband and a beer. (Oh don't get all worked up, just don't drink the beer if you don't want to...its okay to be the salt you know...)

So, my husband trains and I walk. We write down calories, a surprisingly easy and cheap way to alter your eating for the better, and I lose a size and my husband loses 30 pounds.  *sigh*

The day arrives and we drive down, all five of us, the kids are crazy excited.  They have done lots of "training" with him (health, it's not just hereditary but contagious, yes?) and they are ready to watch some funky monkey (monkey bars) and the kiss of mud (crawling through mud under barbed wire) and other obstacles with slightly edgier names whose double meaning was lost on the kiddos.  (I just used some of the less conservative elements as a springboard to brainwash the kids with my own point of view.)

Look at the hands on the right edge of the pic above, those hands waiting to help a stranger up.  When was the last time I helped anyone up?

This is not a commercial for the Tough Mudder but a commercial for the world around you.  I had forgotten that people are not just mankind but uskind and we are loved, if not always by each other but by our Creator.

Everyone was so nice, participants, volunteers, family members, everyone.  Some of the costumes were skimpy but really, we saw the same amount of flesh in a fast food restaurant the night before.  There were signs encouraging determination, reliance on--wait for it--OTHERS, doing your best and getting back up when you fall and above all, HELPING OTHER PEOPLE WHO ARE DOWN.

You see, in my insulated little world, I fear I have lost my saltiness.  I admit to you that I stand apart when I venture outside my circle of family and church.  I don't know quite how to handle the world at large because I seem to be rarely in it anymore.  And considering my faith, this makes me quite useless.  So I was really encouraged to see what potential we have to impact the world around us.

I saw people at the Tough Mudder wearing their faith, talking their faith and walking their faith and these real people and the others there who were having fun on behalf of a noble cause, these should be some of our heroes, not the folks on TV who are paid but the ones who have paid just to help someone else.  A worthy model, don't you think?

The Tough Mudder Creed

As a Tough Mudder I pledge that:
I understand that Tough Mudder is not race but a challenge.
I put teamwork and camaraderie before my course time.
I do not whine, kids whine.
I help my fellow mudders complete the course.
I overcome all fears.

Now, with your permission, I would like to editorialize...

Abba Father,

I understand that life is not a race but a challenge and the goal is a race worthy of a "well done" from you, and certainly NOT to finish first!
I put love of you and love of my neighbors before MY chosen course.
I do not whine but try to be thankful in all circumstances because You are God and I am not.
I help my fellow mudders complete the course, enough said.
I overcome all fears only through You who strengthen me.

And another thing, this event was physically and mentally challenging.  We need more of that in general.  Let our men and boys, many of whom were made to be warriors, let them have challenges and do hard things and fail and try again.  Let them test and exert themselves. Spiritually, can you imagine how salty they could make an event like this if they were to come in droves?

And for your girls, what an inspiration.  My daughter watched a beautiful young woman cross the monkey bars (these bars, about 20 of them, followed the inclined roof line going upward, peaking and coming down), with the guys in her group cheering her on.  We were so impressed because those fitness nut guys cheering, they had fallen from the bars into the muddy water before that girl crossed.

Events like this are springing up all over now.  Test them to make sure the cause is worthy but we are inspired to action.  The boy, 9, watched his daddy cross "the monkey"and said out of the side of his mouth, "How old do you have to be to do this?"

Trying to be worth my salt,

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Superman's Secret Identity Revealed

Let me let you in on a little secret, Superman is real and I know who he is.  I married him 12 years ago.  I know he has super powers because a friend who lent us a mower once said my husband could break an anvil.  Maybe that isn't what he meant...

He can hit baseballs out of the park, coach for days in freezing February weather or 102 degree sun, if you put oranges in your water cooler it makes a difference, you know.  But let him go too long without sugar and, lets just say hunger is his kryptonite.

As crazy as I was about him, I didn't even know his secret identity.

But then something happened, a miracle actually (but that is for another post) and we found out we were expecting.  A baby shoe with an apple seed to show the size of our child the day we learned he existed and a poppy seed to show the size of his already beating heart.   Twenty-one days wonderfully made and our child's heart was beating.

Superman became Mr. Safety, spending two hours in the car seat aisle before actually making a purchase.  I am not kidding.  He did the finger sticks to test the sugar in my blood and worked in his gymnasium office while I walked that sugar off at 10:00 PM.  While I lay in a hospital bed recovering from a c-section, he changed tar-filled diapers, eventually becoming such an expert by our third child that he made a list of the supplies he wanted, forget cotton balls, you need industrial wipes for that stuff.  I began to suspect that he was not to be taken for granted.

He is the "master swaddler" who kept vigil over me and the new ones every minute we were in the hospital.  He came in the door from work, kissed me (is that how all this got started?) and says, "Give me that baby, he needs Daddy-time."  He is the daddy who took the boy to daycare the whole first week because I couldn't stand to do it and then hurried there to get him first.  He always has room on his chest for a sleepy little one.  I reach out to the little one who can't lay down while he sleeps, strapped in a seat to keep his milk down, and I touch him to feel him breathe but his daddy's hand is already there.  These are the things you do when you are a daddy.  These are the ordinary things that turn men into heroes.

He is learning to live on kid-time and how to eat with a person on his lap.  The man of steel drives slower now.  He has used words like "onesie" and "exersaucer" and he says, "Sorry, not today, I am with my kids."  He learned to appreciate the sounds of babies breathing, squirming and talking to their toes while we tried to sleep because that means they are there and they are healthy.  These are the changes you make when you are a daddy.  These are the ordinary changes that change you.

He likes to be with the kids and misses us when he can't be home with us.  He tells me, his wife, that I take good care of our children when it is 5:00 AM and one of them is up again.  He says I did the right thing when an emergency room visit spawns a $1,500 bill because our son shook strangely without cause when he was nursing.  He bundles our children for the trip to church.  He worked long and hard to get his National Boards and principals' degree because he looks to the future and wants to take care of us.  The man of steel has made a commitment of steel.  Commitments of steel make it possible for ordinary men to leap tall buildings.

He loves me, the mother of his children, chooses to love me every day.  He works hard so that I can raise our children and it matters.  They wait for the lights of his van (major sacrifice there!) and run when they see him. They still cry sometimes when he has to work too many nights in a row.  They don't miss TV heroes but they need him and he is there.  Above all, these kids know, day after day, minute after minute that he loves them.

He endures an ever-lengthening bedtime routine and says daddy prayers over them.  These are the things that teach your children what a daddy does, what a hero is.  These are battles fought  with hard choices and adventures lived in wee hours and a legacy well worth leaving and I know that his power doesn't come from the planet Krypton but from a holy place that is not fiction.  He knows it too and that is why he is more than a man, but a hero to four of us whose day really gets started when daddy comes home.

Love always,

Monday, September 24, 2012

Daughter of Elisha

Daughter of Elisha

She is wild, that girl who hasn’t learned fear
Flies through the air and into the water
Arms and legs strong and fast and
Joy explodes out of her little body.

Catching a glimpse mid-air is like seeing a spark of the
Power that was used to ignite her soul
With the breath of God, my God I can’t
Breathe when Your reality is so tangible.

She is the one who accepts Your
Sovereignty like a child, who accepts that You
Are really there in the storm and that
You are God and we are not.

Wild is her spirit still and God I ask that
She stays wild, untamed, not safe in her faith.
Let her rest under Your wings with her eyes on the
Strong Tower and her eyes open like Elisha.

For more on the biblical account of Elisha with his eyes wide open, read 2 Kings 6:8-17.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Who am I? The story of the slidin' Chevy...

Last weekend I heard something I have never heard before and I don't know if I will ever forget it, though in some ways, I wish I could.

It was the sound of my family screaming as our car slid across the highway in the rain.  No kidding here today.

I was driving us home, my husband and three kids, and it started to rain.  We had a wonderful morning at the zoo, beautiful weather, the kids were so fun that day.  I started driving and so did the rain.  We joked because I hate to drive in the rain but after 25 years, you get over it.  It was a hard rain but not so hard that anyone would pull over.  Not five minutes later as we drove down the highway with about an hour and a half to go...

The bible teaches us that God's protection is real and should give us courage. (Numbers 14:9 NKJV)  That protection can be given and withdrawn.  It was surely with us that day...*

I felt it the second the physics operating under that car changed.  We were riding along in the right lane, listening to a book on CD and I felt it go wrong.  One second the wheels were on the highway, the next second there was a thin skin of water between the tires and the road.  You have all felt that feeling, turn into the skid, quick swerve and you correct.  This time the correction was useless as we continued to spin to the left.  I said my husband's name.  By this time the car was sideways in the left lane.  I had an overwhelming feeling of surprise that this was actually happening, really going to happen, whatever that meant and there was nothing that I could do about it...

The car kept spinning as we skidded onto the median which sloped sharply down.  My perception is that we had enough momentum to continue across the grass valley into oncoming traffic.  Instead, the back passenger side of the car, that's right, the back of the car hit a series of metal posts holding cables about 30 inches off the ground.  We skidded along the cables like we were magnetized, tearing bumpers, fenders, the gas tank lid, rearranging my husband's door so that it is jammed closed but has a 2 inch gap at the top and something tore the undercarriage stopping short of the gas tank.

The kids continued to scream as we sat in the median watching cars pass by our obvious wreck site.  It took a minute to realize that no one was hurt in spite of the floorboard under my son's feet, which was about six inches closer to him than normal.  No one was hurt in any way. We crossed a lane of traffic, turned more than 180 degrees, slid across the median, tore the car up and no one is hurt.  I am still dazed.

 "Who am I, O LORD God? And what is my house that You have brought me this far?"

My husband and I walk around with a different look in our eyes this week.  We reach out more often, try to teach the kids to be more gentle.  Who am I, O LORD God?  This was the reading that I unintentionally found waiting for me a day or two after the accident.  1 Chronicles 17:16 is David's cry after receiving a huge blessing. It is my cry too, after my huge blessing.


*Joshua said this when the Israelites were facing the monumental decision of whether or not to take the promised land, "...their protection has departed from them, and the Lord is with us..." Numbers 14:9 NKJV

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Confessions of a Reformed Helicopter Parent

During my previous life when I worked at a couple of colleges, I often found myself in a position of parenting students that were not that much younger than I was.  I was a young professional without children who had grown up with parents that encouraged self-sufficiency, strong work ethic and the development of common sense, where possible in my case.

I did not understand why these young adults were not capable of calling my office to make their own appointments when they were 100 yards away.  How was it easier for Mom to call from another state?  Or why did Dad feel it necessary to request during orientation that I "keep an eye on her" and communicate with him by email if I thought he needed to know anything?  The stories go on and on.

Society calls these parents helicopter parents because of their constant, often noisy, hovering that actually keeps those on the ground (the teachers, coaches, etc.) from getting anything done for fear of the rotors cutting off their heads!

In typical, emphatic, young adult fashion, I swore I would not hover around my kids.

Then my little darlings were born.  Robert was old enough to speak the first time he busted his knee on the pavement.  I know this because he promptly told his babysitter that I did it.  I put great time and energy into mentally recording the diaper issues (pun intended) of another child and still find myself driving them all crazy with my second-guessing.  "Do you want grapes or applesauce with that toast?  Or would you rather have eggs?  You could switch the grapes for peaches and we could do oatmeal?"  Do you hear the sound of the rotors overhead?

I seek reform!  You see, I love them all and in my old age, I want them to live next door to me but in their own home, not mine or even on land that I might own.  When my youngest is my age I will be 77 years old if I am blessed with long-life but the odds are, maybe not.  I can't imagine not having my parents but I HOPE that if we aren't here for our children, they won't need us anyway.

I want my children to know how to work and play and grow their own faith without it being fed to them on a baby spoon.  I want my kids to be able to fight for what they believe in and fight for weaker people and fight for their own health by getting off the couch even if it hurts.  I want them to have strong soul-muscles from being on weak knees and I want them to use those muscles when things get hard because they WILL get hard, maybe harder than I know.

And how can these three miracles (that's another story for another time) that so delight and exhaust me learn to do anything if I don't let them try?  How can they learn where to put the dial on the toaster if they don't burn the toast? How can they learn how yucky it feels to have shampoo in your hair when you get out of the tub if I wash their hair for them?  When they use a crayon on the neighbors siding, how can they learn that is NEVER okay if I run over there and clean it off with an erasing sponge myself?

I say, let them cry, sweep, clean, fold, and do anything that they can, while they are at home and it is about erasing sponges, spills, hurt feelings and burned toast.  Let them learn before it is about bosses and mortgages or jail.

Let them learn these lessons while I can still catch them IF they need it or HELP them if their muscles, physical or otherwise, are not strong enough.  Instead of "Let me do that FOR you..." how about, "Let's do this together..." or even better, "Call me if you need help."

Lots of little things that I learned while still with my parents gave me great personal confidence in my abilities to manage life.  I am not talking about personal pride here but just the repetition of successful endeavors, no matter how small, that made me willing to try other things, even trusting the development of my faith.  Things like knowing how to care for a home, cooking the meals that I like, seeking and finding a job during the summer, making my own schedule in high school and managing a certain amount of food, gas and fun money.

So, I try not to hover and I recently moved the first aid box to the kids bathroom from a high cabinet in the kitchen.  I mean, if you are going to get out there and ride, you better know how to put a band aid on, right?

Just don't tell them that I am watching from behind my sunglasses and just because I am wearing the iPod doesn't mean the volume is turned up...


Saturday, August 25, 2012

My Name is Butmommy

That's right, my name is Butmommy.  I know it isn't glamorous but its the truth.  Butmommy.  I guess it could be worse.

"Butmommy, I still have three minutes left on my screen time."

"Butmommy, I took a bath Monday."

"I know I said I was full Butmommy, but I was only full of vegetables.  There is still room for cookies."

"Butmommy, you have to get up.  You promised GOD you would always feed us."

"I know I said I wanted that kind of treat, Butmommy I like yours better."

"Butmommy, I don't mind if the dog licks me in the mouth.  I don't think its gross."

"Butmommy, I don't want to sit next to my brother, HE'S gross."

"Butmommy, why do YOU want to look at stuff in the store?"

"Butmommy, why do I have to wash my hands if I didn't touch anything in the restaurant bathroom?"

"Butmommy, why does Daddy have to go to work?"

You get the picture.  Here's the thing, I know that they will grow and mature and that they won't always call me Butmommy.  Their words will evolve and just like most of us, who as adults no longer call our parents Mommy and Daddy, my own kids will seek a more grown up way to address me.  

Though I want to savor every moment of this time, I do look forward to the day when they call me BUTMOMMA instead.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Morning Shower in a Construction Zone

I wrote this when my kids were smaller, enjoy. M

This morning I took a shower with two construction workers in my bathroom.  I turned on the radio, put in a favorite CD and threw a plush, white towel over the shower door, turned the water on high and climbed in for a few moments of pampering.  I washed passion flower shampoo out of my hair while the taller worker hammered on the doorframe.  I lathered up my curvaceous, post-partum body while the thinner one repaired the door handles.  Of course they stole the occasional glance, begging me to draw a happy face in the steam on the glass doors.  I knew things were getting out of hand when I was asked to rewind the CD to Yankee Doodle Dandee as they danced in front of the mirrors.

Of course, the most unusual thing about this whole scenario was that I was able to take a shower, dry my hair and put on all of my makeup on the same day.  Normally, these three things happen only on separate and non-consecutive days.

Just to clarify things, the two construction workers in my bathroom are off-limits to all you single women out there.  Both are blonde and blue-eyed and I think they are rather handsome.  However, the taller of the two happens to be about 37 inches high and turned three a couple of weeks ago.  He is a great dancer and Yankee Doodle was his idea.  The one who is good with the mechanics of anything with moving parts weighs about 28 pounds and communicates primarily in his own private language.  We, his family, understand that “muck” means “milk,” and “nunga, nunga” means “I want that.”

I would love privacy and expect to have some in about eighteen years when our youngest, the velcro baby, might move out, assuming she is successful in her launch from home.  In the meantime, I have learned to appreciate, if not enjoy, the sound of hammers in the morning and Yankee Doodle is a pretty cheerful song to have stuck in your head.

Yankee Doodle went to town a’riding on his pony…

The Real Me...

Do you ever find yourself wondering what other people are really like? When I was a kid, my mom had lots of girlfriends and we would go visit them or they would drop by and the kids would play outside while the grownups visited about work, love and life, ordinary or extraordinary things. I learned lots of things I probably had no business knowing because I was a quiet girl and I think they forgot I was there!

Things are different now. Our sociology has changed and we have set standards of perfection that cannot be attained. We are very connected electronically but I miss the presence of a friend. Granted, the issue is exacerbated by my personal circumstances. I am fortunate enough to stay with my children so a day or two may pass when I don’t even leave the house. My family is 1,200 miles away and our little family moved to a new town last year so we are no longer close to the friends I had grown to know and love.

Needless to say, I am like a kid in a candy store when I get to spend time with adults. Manners are forgotten, silliness abounds and way too many questions are asked out of simple curiosity…and this is how I act, not my kids! At 41, I expected more in the way of social development.

It is good to be around othere people, it gives me perspective. I have to admit that when I hear another parent say things like, “Buddy, you may not climb the restaurant”or “Aster, honey, please take my hair out of your mouth!” I am so grateful because I realize that I am not alone!

See, sometimes it feels like I am alone and that is just the truth. As a woman of faith with a deeply blessed marriage and three kids who wake at six-something in the morning, I assure you, I am NEVER alone, but it feels like it sometimes.

Now, to the point…I was wondering if you ever feel the same way? Since I don’t really expect you to drop in on me and you don’t know my mother and therefore can’t tell her what my home looks like right now, I feel free to share. Don’t get me wrong, I like a neat house. Remember the movie SLEEPING WITH THE ENEMY? Until I found out the villain was evil, I totally enjoyed the organized canned goods and perfectly aligned towels, still do, in fact. However my reality changed when I had kids. More on that later but come peek in the windows…from where I sit in my getting-worn-out, beige recliner I see:
- Legos on the floor (at least a kid is playing with them)
- a blanket crumpled, again on the floor
- piles of books
- my purple sweatshirt on the couch
- pillows thrown less than neatly on the couch (yeah)
- TV center drawer open
- dust
- wow, the floor needs vacuuming
- a dog scratching (nice…)
- my husband still steaming from a workout outside
- a little girl asleep in the other beige chair with a bunny and a book
- yet another boy that I can’t actually see because he is wrapped around behind me sleeping which is making writing to you very challenging

Here’s the thing, all of these imperfections that would drive me crazy are, in some way, great gifts, even the dust and the dirty dog. As a labor of love, I will probably clean up soon. When I do, I hope it is for them, to make our home. I hope it is not as it has been so many times, cleaning in spite of them or around them, annoyed with them. In the meantime, you are welcome here, please like me anyway. I have potential and right now, I want to choose the best part…and hope that this is what I am really like.