Saturday, April 28, 2012

Called Out

Two nights ago we had an unusually sane dinner, during which we were actually able to have a decent devotional time. (This is not the norm. I repeat: orderly, rational conversation is not the dinnertime norm for our family.) We read and talked about the story of the rich young man from the Gospel of Mark. Remember how Jesus told him he was only lacking one thing? All he needed to do was go sell all of his possessions, give them to the poor, and follow Jesus. Unfortunately, he went away still rich, but very sad.

We talked about the Stuff to which our own hearts cling so tightly. "Matthew, what if God told you to give away your bunk bed and your new umbrella and your Diego blanket and your scooter so you could follow Him?" Matthew grimaced. "I wouldn't do dat!"

"Meg, what if God said you needed to give up your pillow pet and your teddy bear and your scooter?"

"Well... I would try to do that, because I love Jesus more than all those things."

"Mommy, what would be hardest for you to give up?"

"Mmmm... probably my computer."


"Because that's how I stay in touch with people. I email them and I read blogs. And it's also where I store information and all our pictures and organize our school, and... lots of things."

As I spoke, Dave's iPhone dinged, and he pulled it out of his pocket and glanced at its screen. A sly little grin crept over Matthew's face. Then he pounced.

"Daddy, what would you do if God took away your phone?"

I'm afraid there is only one word for what I did at this moment: I cackled. For quite a long moment. Dave looked at me and laughed as he said, "That's good, buddy. That's a very good catch."

And it was. My dear husband is as far from being a materialist as anyone I know, but if there is one thing he relies upon and enjoys maaaaybe just a teeny bit too much at times (other than fleece pullovers), it's probably the iPhone. It's really quite funny to hear someone called out when it's so spot-on. Especially when the caller-outer is four years old. And especially especially when you know the one getting called-out is humble of heart and will enjoy the joke as much as everyone else in the room.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Why I Should Always Heed My Mommy-Intuition


Before I left the living room, I actually had the thought, Maybe I should put away the tortilla chips. Esme might dump them all out if I leave them here. That was wisdom. Then stupidity and blindness set in. No, she wouldn't do that.

And so I went blithely off to put Graham down for a nap. And when I returned... Oh. Oh, yes she would. 

I should know this child by now! I should know that she is the cutest, most endearing, mischievous, manipulative little blondie in the whole wide world, and that she is absolutely not. to. be. trusted. I do know this! I just... psyched myself out.


Getting her to clean up her mess took FOREVER and might have been more tempting for me than it was really worth. Next time, Gadget... next time, whatever that little voice is saying, just listen for once, huh?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Room Swap

So on Monday we made the big switcheroo. Meg and Matthew are no longer roommates. (And they probably never will be again. Weird!) Now we have a Boys' Room and a Girls' Room.

The nursery, which always used to seem like a decent-sized room, is mysteriously shrunken now that it contains a very tall bunk bed set, as well as the crib, dresser/changing table, bookshelf and glider. But Matthew couldn't care less about the space crunch; he's elated to be the inhabitant of the top bunk. Esme has been ejected from the crib, which now holds Graham's car seat. This is the Boys' Room.

In the Girls' Room, not much has changed. Meg still has the top bunk. We pulled the mattress and support pieces out of the bottom bunk and stuck the pack 'n' play down there. This will be Esme's bed until we decide it's time to buy another twin mattress and promote her. This step really can't be too far off--the girl is tall. But, for now, she's just happy to be with her big sister. And this morning, she proudly referred to her play pen as, "My room."

We're two nights into the new sleeping arrangement, and so far everything runs smoothly. Matthew is not too disturbed by Graham's middle-of-the-night feedings. Meg, having weathered two years with the Bedtime Comedian, is pretty much immune to Esme's cheerful, falling-asleep chatter. (Though the first night, Dave and I were downstairs chortling at the monitor as she tested the waters. "Beggie? Beggie? BEGGIE!! BEHHHHHHH-GEEEEEEEE!!!")

Transitions are always kind of painful for me. My head knew that getting Graham out of our room would be best for everyone, but my heart said, No! Don't let him go! It's too fast--he's growing up and away too  fast! Likewise with Esme and the crib: But she's still my baby girl! I don't want her to be a big kid in a big kid's bed! Well, welcome to life, Mama. Change is what it's about, and the changes that are coming won't get any easier than a little bedroom swap.

Honestly, once we arrive, I'm always fine. It's only in the anticipation that I ache to hold on to The Way Things Are Now.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Matthew Moments

I've said this before, but the way that my oldest son's little mind works both fascinates me and cracks me up. The other night at dinner, the kids were waaaaay hyper, anticipating our first trip of the season to Jimmie Cone, our famous local soft serve joint. So Matthew and Meg were chattering back and forth, getting louder and sillier with each exchange. I couldn't tell you exactly what they were going on about, but I guess it had something to do with ice cream. Finally Meg hollered, "And I'm going to Jimmie Cone!" "No you're not," Matthew countered. "You're going to Jimmie Sours!" Dave and I both arched one eye brow and looked at each other like, Where is he going with this? "You're going to Jimmie Sours!" the boy continued. "Dat's where dey have wemonade!"

This picture is from one day last week, when Matthew suddenly and inexplicably developed a desire for a mustache. Yes, a mustache. I told him we could make him one, so we did, and he wore it pretty much all day and part of the next. What a goob.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Words with Meg

IMG_0772 - Version 2

I have some stories to record, some stories of Meg's adventures in vocabulary. Two are already rather old, dating back to last year, and one is fairly recent. One involves the complete misuse of a word, and two show Meg using words correctly but with that extreme dramatic flair of hers. All three are hilarious, at least to us, and I don't ever want to forget them.

1. Last summer after our trip to Illinois and Michigan, our friend Joseph came over one night with his two girls. I went upstairs for something, and when I came back down, Meg was excitedly recounting our vacation highights. I was just in time to hear her say, "And we had a family seduction at a water park!" There was a pause, then Joseph turned to me and cocked his head. "I'm thinking she meant 'reunion,'" he said. Yes. Yes, indeed, she did. Praise the Lord.

2. When a hurricane blew through sometime in the early fall[?], we came outside the next morning to find our favorite tree partially destroyed by the winds. It was the kids' climbing tree, the tree from which we hung our swing and the tree whose lowest branch we tossed a sheet over to make a quick tent for reading and hiding. So the loss of the overhanging limbs we loved and used so well was a blow to all of us. Still, I stifled a giggle when Meg heaved a sigh from her innermost depths and said, "Now sorrow has come to us."

3. A couple of weeks ago, Meg dragged herself inside after some time spent playing with the neighbor girls. She curled up in my lap and told me the story of her first social rejection, how the girls had been playing with her but suddenly decided they didn't want to include her any more. As I stroked her hair, she reached for the words that could capture her emotional state. "I feel... I feel so... I feel so forlorn."

And I... I feel a deep affection for this girl, with her love of fine words. The apple has indeed fallen close to its tree.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Cousin Time

Last week my sister's family came up for Easter and part of Asher's spring break. It's always so great to spend time with them. In addition to celebrating the resurrection together, we went to the National Zoo, dyed and hunted eggs, and spent lots of time on the playground. Here are a few pics from Nana's front yard.

The "big" kids, Aylenne, Ari, Esme, Meg and Matthew:


And baby Judah, cutest little chunka in the world.





(Graham was napping and missed the outdoor fun, but here he is with Nana a little later. Just so he doesn't feel left out of the cousins post.)

The ornamental cherry tree in Mom and Dad's front yard was in pink glory. Uncle Asher made it rain blossoms for the kids...




(Doesn't Asher look the part of the English teacher with his beard? We all like it on him.)

The Spruills moved this summer and now live considerably closer to us than before, but after each visit, Meg always laments that they aren't closer still. Me too, actually. Family is good. We sure love ours!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Three Months Old Already!


Well, we have a sweet boy on our hands. (Did you ever notice that sweet is one of my favorite words? It is. I love it because it sounds like what it means.
Sweet. Say it out loud. Sweeeeeet. I like how you almost have to smile as you say it.)

But anyway, as I was saying, Graham is a sweet, sweet baby boy. He's good-tempered and easy and smiley. If he's well-rested and fed, he'll grin at almost anyone who speaks to him. He is very conversational and makes heart-melting coos and gurgles if you talk to him privately. (Not so much when the rest of the troops are around raising their ruckus.)

He loves it when I sing to him. One of my dearest memories so far is of our first full night in the hospital; sometime in the wee hours, Graham couldn't sleep, and he was crying. I tried rocking, gentle bouncing, patting, shushing, walking, all with no change. Then I sat down on the bed and started to sing. I sang the chorus from Sara Groves' "Fast Asleep." Nothing in this world is quite as sweet/As a tiny baby fast asleep/I could watch you to the end of time/Especially when that baby is mine. Almost as soon as I opened my mouth, he stopped crying. I sat there softly singing those words over and over, like a benediction, and swaying slightly. As long as I kept singing, he was content. If I stopped, he revved up again. Eventually, he slept. I've repeated this experiment at other times since then with similar results. He's the first of my babies to have such a noticeable response to music as a newborn.

He sleeps tightly swaddled and in his car seat. During his first couple of weeks he couldn't seem to get comfortable when I'd lie him flat on his back. He would be quiet for a few moments, then he'd wake himself up fussing and squirming and needing to burp. But reclining at an angle seemed to fix that almost 100%. And now it's all he knows. He's a very good, deep sleeper, particularly at night, and these days he usually goes 4 or more hours between nighttime feedings. So I'm getting at least a little rest.

Graham has reflux much more than any of the other kids except for Meg. I've been off dairy completely for almost a month now, and that seems to help a lot... or at least it seems better on most days. He also has pretty severe eczema and has already reached the "oozy" stage a couple of times. I hate watching him scratch his little baby face with the back of his little baby hand, poor guy. I've had to use a prescription steroid cream to keep the breakouts at bay. I've also tried going off of eggs and wheat, which are the most common eczema-causing allergens, to see if that might help at all. I started that over a week ago and have been very diligent about it, or so I thought. Today I realized that the tortilla chips that I eat at least once a day are manufactured on equipment that also processes dairy and wheat. Brilliant!

Graham's brother and sisters love him soooooo, SO much. Meg dotes on him, coos at him, holds him, carries him, soothes him, helps with him, and tells me at least three times a day how cute he is and how glad she is that we have him. Matthew is completely incapable of keeping his hands off of his brother. I am confident that he wants to be gentle, but... um... let's just say he has a hard time channeling the overflow of affection and enthusiasm that Graham inspires in him. This is one proud and happy big brother. Esme is less fascinated than the other two, but she's been very warm toward "Baby Gammy," and we are grateful. She is more than happy to fetch diapers and wipes for him as needed, and she's recently taken to "reading" to him if I leave the two of them alone for a bit.

As for Dave and me, we are utterly smitten. I wish I could somehow hold on to these dear baby days and retain all the wonderful things about having a tiny someone who is so dependent, so trusting, so easy. By now, I know that I will forget what it's like almost as soon as the next stage arrives... hence, these few brief notes to help me look back with gratefulness and joy. You are loved, Graham David.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Ready or Not

I wasn't ready for Christmas last year. We spent the month of December tearing the house apart for some unexpected renovations. The kitchen was a maze of ladders and fixtures pulled out from the walls. The dining room played host to our toaster, stand mixer, crock pot and other appliances, as well as the overflow from my always disastrous desk. Two of our bathrooms were unusable. I was nine months pregnant; my brain was in furious nesting mode, urging me to whip everything into perfect order and readiness. I had visions of crafting handmade gifts with my kids at our spotless family table, nestled in the cozy tidiness of a home lit with twinkling Christmas tree lights. Instead I spent my time squeezing my enormous belly through hallways jammed with painting supplies and unhinged doors, and serving my kids haphazard meals on the living room floor.

But needless to say, even though I wasn't ready, Christmas came anyway.

This year Easter is coming too fast as well. I always intend to pull together a handful of the brilliant ideas furnished by the omni-competent mommies of Blogland, weave a Lenten tradition for my own family. I want to help prepare our hearts for the Resurrection celebration with a season of humbling and meditation and creative anticipation. But with a new baby around and a husband who's been out of pocket for weeks due to work and extended-family commitments, I haven't made it happen... again. And here we are; Easter is tomorrow. I'm not ready.

But you know what's comforting? Jesus came to a world that wasn't ready for Him. He came to a world that was messy. (He came because the world was messy!) He came as a baby to a people who expected an emperor or a general. They weren't prepared to recognize Him, let alone welcome Him properly.

Fast forward thirty years, and even Jesus' closest friends and disciples still weren't ready--not for a Lord who would ascend His throne by dying. And not for the resurrection either. The women at the tomb on that Sunday morning arrived with tears and embalming agents. They hadn't come for a party. This was not the original Sunrise Service planning committee, ya know? They were, as the angel said, "looking for the living among the dead." They were completely unprepared to find an empty tomb. Mary Magdalene was so unprepared that she thought her risen Lord was the landscaping guy. And the disciples? They were still in town, cowering behind a locked door, waiting to be arrested. So I guess what I'm saying is, if I'm unprepared for these celebrations of Christ, at least I'm in good company.

I still want to grow in helping my family prepare for and enjoy the Easter season. But in the meantime, I am so grateful for--no, I am reveling in--a Savior who deigned to display His glory to the unprepared.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

A Mommy's Springtime

If you're a mom (or at least if you're like me), spring is the time of year when... get reacquainted with your stock of registered trademark character band-aids. Real fast. pray your neighbor will think that a bunny ate the top of her daffodil, whilst sheltering the true culprit in your own home and guiltily admiring a certain yellow blossom on your kitchen windowsill. walk out the front door to check on your kids and find yourself saying things like, "Where are your pants?" open your kids' closets and start praying for a miracle of hand-me-downs. open your own closet and start praying for a miracle of clothing budget and personal shopper. adjust the portion of your day that is spent in the kitchen to include plenty of time for ant-squishing. abandon all hope of keeping little fingernails clean. rejoice in anticipation of a three-month break from matching socks. look out the window at any given moment of the day and see something that makes you smile.

So what did I miss? What are the signs and symptoms of spring at your house?