Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Not One of the Ten Commandments

We've been having some interesting theological conversations recently around our house. Drew has asked about heaven, talked more about God, readily recalled some of his Bible memory verses, etc.

I have realized that with a greater aptitude for understanding, we also have greater potential for misunderstandings about the God we serve and how He instructs us to live our lives.

For instance, yesterday morning I explained to Drew that we needed to finish breakfast so we could take the dog for a walk.

Under his breath I heard him mutter something about God. Intrigued, I asked him to speak up.

"God does not say 'TAKE WALKER FOR A WALK' in the Bible!"

(a long pause so that I could regain my composure)

"Yes, but God does say to obey your Mommy and Daddy, so hop to it, Mister!"


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Children Don't Keep

If you've ever had a grandmother who cross-stitched or a friend who scrapbooked, or if you've been to even one baby shower in your lifetime, you might be familiar with parts of the following poem (by Ruth Hulbert Hamilton):

Mother, oh Mother,
come shake out your cloth,
empty the dustpan,
poison the moth,
hang out the washing
and butter the bread,
sew on a button and make up a bed.

Where is the mother whose house
is so shocking?
She's up in the nursery,
blissfully rocking.

Oh, I've grown shiftless as
Little Boy Blue
Dishes are waiting and bills are past due
The shopping's not done
and there's nothing for stew
and out in the yard there's a hullabaloo
but I'm playing Kanga and this is my Roo.
Look! Aren't her eyes the most wonderful hue?

The cleaning and scrubbing
will wait till tomorrow,
for Children grow up,
as I've learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down, cobwebs.
Dust go to sleep.
I'm rocking my baby and babies don't keep......

(Oh, that last line, it gets me every time. I'll give you a moment, too...)

Today, I was trying so hard to accomplish something. Anything, really. Because every once in a while, I need to feel productive in a business-professional kind of way instead of measuring the success of my day by how many times my son remembers to say "Thank you" and not throw his dirty socks on the dining room table as he strolls by.

I endeavored to throw a few items up on Ebay, clean a few rooms, and spend some time writing. To help me accomplish my tasks, I bought a new video for Drew to watch after I picked him up from school this morning. My master plan was to sit him in front of the television until he got that tranquil, glassy look...then I would hide in the office until my tasks were completed.

Well... I need a refund on my "babysitter". Drew didn't like the glasses that the duck was wearing in the story, so he turned off the T.V. and came looking for "MOMMY!!!!" Although I begged for a break ("Just give me five more minutes and I'll come play hide-and-seek, I promise."), he was full of ideas. Eventually, he agreed to play quietly until I finished my work.

In the middle of uploading pictures to my Ebay auction, I realized that I was humming the tune to "Cats in the Cradle"...obviously I was aware that I had passed up on an opportunity to play with my little boy, and it wasn't sitting well with me.

Oh sure, I get a thousand requests a day to play, but I'm well aware that my time is quickly coming to an end. Even now, Drew would rather play chase with daddy than snuggle for books with me. And when that phase draws to it's natural end, both my hubby and I will be begging for a little time with him when our son's world is consumed by his friends.

So, I stopped what I was doing, and went to look for my boy. "What do you want to do today?" I asked.

"I know! Let's have a campfire picnic under daddy's desk with marshmallows and fire!"

A few moments later, we were sitting in the office, under the desk. With marshmallows skewered to long sticks, we "roasted" them over a candle and looked at all the dust and dirt on the floor with a flashlight (sigh... my to-do list just got longer... note to self... Hubby's office is NOT self-cleaning).

After the campfire was put out, we shared a pillow and propped our feet up on the desk. Drew asked me to tell him a ghost story. Not knowing how scary I should make it, I just looked at him and said, "BOO!". Judging by his fit of laughter, it was apparently just the right amount of scary!

After about ten minutes, our campfire picnic was over, and he was on to more interesting adventures. And me... the busy me who wanted to accomplish so much today OUTSIDE of my role as mommy... I just found myself longing for one more marshmallow... one more "Boo!" before he ran off.

So, with all due respect to Ms. Hamilton, I decided that I needed to update her poem a little. (Because, honestly, when is the last time you had "...shake out the cloth and hang up the washing" on YOUR to-do list??).

Children Don't Keep

Mommy, O Mommy!
Come answer your phone
Tackle the laundry piles,
Get the bills done.
Empty the garbage, Limit T.V.
Make time for playgroups, Figure out the Wii…

Where is the mother whose voicemail is maxed?
She’s out in the backyard, content and relaxed.

I’ve put up my Out of the Office reply
‘cause I just can’t stand one more day to slip by
When I could be playing a game of “I Spy”
With my boy on the swing-set while I push him “HIGH!”

The chores and the errands can wait one more day
But boys won’t keep asking their mommies to play
So I’ll sign out of gmail
And put the PC to sleep…
I’m playing with my child, and children don’t keep.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A Sense of Style

Sometimes, you're just born with it....

Friday, September 19, 2008

It's a Big Job, but Somebody's Gotta Do It

Before our trip to Guatemala, my husband and I were on the receiving end of the most spectacular display of generosity from our friends and family. Everyone hoped to send something with us to the orphanage that might fill a need or provide a smile for the children. From toothbrushes to crayons to blenders to backpacks, we piled our dining room table high for weeks with supplies that would make the journey with us to Central America.

The Sunday before we left, a couple brought a bag full of sweet little stuffed animals that had been donated by a friend whose business no longer needed this particular inventory.

Drew helped his daddy carry the bag out to the car after church, asking all about the contents. Thinking this would be a good father-son project, my hubby suggested that Drew help count the animals when we got home.

His eyes lit up, and you could almost hear the gears shifting in his head. "I KNOW!" he exclaimed after a few moments of careful thought. "This is a job for a SUPERHERO!"

(Thank goodness we happen to have a Superhero living at our house these days.)

Thanks to the efforts of our caped crusader, el gato blanco and his friends made it safely to Guatemala and were a hit with los ninos!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Rules of the Playground

*Note: I came across this "essay" on my computer the other day. It was my first attempt at creative writing after becoming a new mom. I'm guessing (based on how old Drew was at the time), that this was written about 2 years ago.*

Today, I took my 15-month old to a little neighborhood water-park. You know, the kind of place where children can frolic amidst water geysers and gurgling fountains and squirting flowers – the perfect spot for kids to cool off in the heat of the summer.

Being a first time mom, I approach these adventures with some anxiety. I know that I need to let my little guy have some freedom and room to run, but at his age, he’s usually still the youngest one around, and my “Mom-Guard” is on full alert. After all, I am responsible for making sure he doesn’t get out of my sight or climb too high or get hit by flying buckets, etc. So far, he’s handled his little life lessons like a pro, seeming to studiously take note of acceptable social behavior and imitate what he sees the big kids doing.

So, today, as I stood on the edge of the “sprayground” watching my son, I was trying very hard to stay out of his way and let him be a little boy. Just as I began to get comfortable and give him some space, I witnessed the following interaction:

A five year old girl walked up to a water spray gun mounted to the ground – the kind you can aim and fire at your unsuspecting little brother’s bottom just as he kneels to fill up his bucket. Unfortunately for her, my toddler was standing under the water gun trying to catch whatever drops fell from it’s big spout.

She assessed the situation for a few moments, then slowly lifted her foot, placed it on his chest and gave him a little push. It wasn’t a kick, and you could tell by her hesitant nature that she was pretty sure she wasn’t supposed to kick babies. So, I sat back and continued to watch.

Because her little plan didn’t have the intended result (it made my son more curious than anything), she leaned down into his face and told him to “please leave!” Well, this didn't do much good either. And I can't blame him for staying put; after all, now a pretty little girl was leaning down talking directly into his face, and my boy was infatuated! He stopped trying to catch the water and gazed intently at her, trying to figure out what she was saying to him.

I moved in a little closer but was trying my hardest not to interfere. About that time, the little girl’s mom, began making her way across the park toward us. Before her mother arrived, though, this child put her hands on her hips, looked at my sweet son, and said (with all the contempt and exasperation of a teenager), “This is RIDICULOUS!”.

She then turned around, hands still firmly planted on hips, and looked me straight in the eyes – (“Uh oh, I’m busted,” I thought)“Is this your baby?” she asked. “Yes, he is,” I answered. “Could you please make him go!”… more of a demand than a question.

Her mom was rounding the corner and was within hearing distance by now. For effect, I paused a moment, then answered back loudly, “You want the baby to go??” I’m not sure why I felt I needed to ensure that her mother heard what I believed to be an offensive request (maybe 5-year-old attitudes are contagious). But I was curious to see how this little bundle of bossiness would be dealt with.

Much to my disappointment, the other mom simply explained that the baby would get distracted eventually by something else, and would be out of her way in no time.

“That’s it?” my heart cried. “Didn’t you see your daughter attempt to kick my child? Didn’t you witness her haughty attitude and frustration? Aren’t you going to do something right here in the middle of the park to correct this behavior?”

I snapped out of my imaginary monologue in time to observe that the girl was now happily playing with her spray gun, my son was bouncing across the park chasing water drops, and the other mother was making her way back to her friends, who continued their conversation about the best recipe for stuffed green peppers.

Feeling quite surprised by my own emotional response to our first playground “confrontation”, I also felt a little humbled. After a moment of retrospection, I realized how normal this type of encounter must be in the unpredictable world of preschool interaction. And over the next few years, my child may be the one dishing out the bad manners on a shiny platter for some poor, unsuspecting toddler in his path. But I hope I will remember how it felt to be new at all this “mom stuff”. And maybe if for no other reason than to give some other first-time mom hope that there are polite children left in this world, I will proactively run interference for any bad situation I see unfolding and make him apologize to mommy and baby alike. After all, isn’t that the point of socializing our children…To teach them how we want them to approach the world and to show the importance of respecting each other in our daily interactions?

*Whew - I was so idealistic back then! I'm just grateful that I haven't had to test my own theory of "What I Would Do.." For the most part, Drew is shy and quiet on the playground, keeping to himself or wanting ME to slide down the slide with him. Although he did pull a little girl's curly hair one time. I was shocked and responded swiftly, making him apologize to the child. Later, her mom advised that she thought my son was just "flirting" with her daughter. I think I'd rather assume that he was being bad...*

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Dressing Room

Overheard by anyone else who happened to be trying clothes on today in the Target dressing room:

OK, buddy. Hold on to the numbers that the nice lady gave you when we came into the dressing room. (a "2" and a "6" b/c the dressing room attendant graciously allowed me to bring "8" items in with me!)


What happened?
The number 6 just went behind the mirror right there.

How did that happen?
I'm not sure.

Buddy, I asked you to take care of those numbers.
I am! But the number 6 is stuck behind the mirror now. That's o.k.

No, it's not. We're going to need to get it.
Mommy! Why can't you get that? Just reach in there and pull it out.

I'm going to need a tool.
How about your shoe?

I don't think my shoe is a good tool, I need something very small that will fit between the mirror and the wall.
Oh, do you have a hammer in your purse?

No, I don't think a hammer is the right tool either.
(Several minutes pass, and I finally free the captive tag from behind the mirror)

Good job, mommy!
Thanks, man.

Mommy? Can I try on some new clothes?
Not right now.

What day is it?

What day is tomorrow?
Tuesday. You're going to school tomorrow.

Yey! I love school! Then what comes next?
Wednesday. Bible study. Then Thursday -school. Then Friday.

Oh. Mommy? Can we get jelly beans here?
Yes, if you're a very quiet boy for a few minutes.

O.K. Hey Mommy! That red dress is VERY pretty!!!

Yes, buddy...

I need to go potty.
O.K. Let me just get dressed.

Yes, Drew...

I think I'm very tired.
(Really, I'm pretty exhausted, myself!)

I think I'll just lie down here on this bench while you finish trying on your clothes. Hey! Is that gum in your purse?!!!?? I LOVE gum? Can I have some?
Yes... if you'll just quiet down a little bit, o.k.?

I will. Mommy. I don't like this gum.
Drew... please unwrap the gum from around your knees. Remember, gum goes in your mouth or in the trash can.

I'll just put it in your purse...
Wait.. don't... O.K. Just remind me to look for that gum later, o.k. buddy?

Mommy? Are we all done already? That was fast! Let's go get jelly beans now! Oh, after we go potty. Mommy, I REALLY need to go potty now.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Word of the Week

The Word of the Week is:

Last week's W.O.W was
(pronounced kat-uh-wom-puhs).
In it's adjective form, it describes something that is askew or awry.

And here's my lame attempt to use it in a sentence:

Although I was delighted to hear a friend use this adjective in a sentence last week, my mind (currently filing thoughts in a catawampus heap inside my head), cannot recall the context in which she used it. I'm pretty sure it was good, though. I may have to post a follow-up after I see her this weekend!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

New Lyrics

To give a little bit of background for my story today, I need to share my son's conclusion the other day. After talking about how old he was (three), and what number comes next (four), and when his birthday is coming (not for a long, long time), he decided that he really didn't care to get any older.

"I don't want to grow up, mommy. I just want to be three for a long, long time!"
Fine with me, buddy.

So, last night we were watching a DVD presentation that a friend of mine put together with pictures from our trip to Guatemala. Drew has watched it A LOT since we've been home. He seems to enjoy seeing pictures of his Daddy working on roofs, his Mommy painting, and all the kids, whose names he's beginning to learn, playing around the orphange.

One of the songs my friend chose to add as background for the presentation is Garth Brooks' "We Shall Be Free". It's a powerful song, and some of the lyrics include:

When the last thing we notice
Is the color of skin
And the first thing we look for
Is the beauty within
When the skies and the ocean
Are Clean again....
We Shall Be Free

We Shall Be Free!
We Shall Be Free!
Stand Straight,
Walk Proud,
We Shall Be Free!

As I listened closely while my son sang along with the music last night, I realized that he was EMPHATICALLY singing,

"We Shall be THREE! We Shall be THREE!"

And as I consider his approach to life, I think he may just be on to something!

Monday, September 8, 2008

War Eagle!

It seems like everyone's getting into the spirit these days. My hubby and I are both graduates of Auburn University (War Eagle!), so we've tried to instill a love for Auburn into our son's impressionable little mind.

Therefore, my hubby couldn't have been more pleased to hear the following conversation between Drew and myself today:

Him: I want Auburn sherbert for dessert.

Me: It's ORANGE sherbert, buddy. You want orange sherbert for dessert.

Him: Mommy, you can call it orange sherbert if you want to. I'm calling it AUBURN sherbert!

I'm Not Crying Over Spilled Milk

When I was in college, I borrowed my mom's minivan for part of a semester when my own car wasn't reliable enough to make the eight hour trip from my parents driveway to the dorm room anymore. And in return for the exceptional generosity of my mom, I spilled a cup of curdled, milky hot chocolate all over the floorboard of her car.

I had never smelled anything so awful in my entire life. And while I attempted to clean it up and rid the car of that horrible scent, nothing seemed to work. I took it to professionals, tried my own concoctions of fragrant "fresheners", drove around with the windows down in the midst of the winter chill - to no avail. I think my mom eventually had to sell the car.

So, today when my son sheepishly peeked his head around the corner and shared that he'd had a little "spill", I was horrified to see that he'd overturned his entire bottle of chocolate milk onto the cushion of my new sofa. My mind recalled the odor of that minivan so many years before, and I just knew that I needed to take care of this mess fast (or we'd have to stick a "For Sale" sign in the front yard).

After a few minutes of trying to soak up the spill with a dish towel, a bottle of stain spray, and a few prayers (there was no time to test an inconspicuous spot for color-fastness), I decided that I needed to be a bit more aggressive. I removed the cushion from the couch, then removed the cover from the cushion. Unable to find ANY paperwork on the washing/cleaning instructions for the fabric, I just threw the cover into the washing machine, turned every knob to "gentle" and hoped for the best.

This could have been a gigantic mistake, as I considered all the horrible things my washing machine might do to my couch cushion's cover, but I was committed. When the washer completed it's cycle, I bravely tossed the wet fabric into the dryer (again, everything set to "gentle"). At the sound of the buzzer, I nervously made my way to the laundry room, wondering what might be in store (loss of color, change of shape, shrinkage, you name it).

Tonight, I am happy to report that I'm not crying over the spilled chocolate milk! That couch cushion looks GREAT; so nice and clean, and it zipped right back into place, no problems. So... I'm thinking of throwing all the cushion covers in the wash tomorrow. And making my kid some clothes out of this fabric!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Word of the Week

The word for this week is: Catawampus

I was at a small group meeting tonight, and a new friend used it in a sentence. It's bad when you're trying to pay attention to someone's story and your mind is thinking "Ooh, I can use that as my Word of the Week - I wonder if I'll find it on Dictionary.com."

My last W.O.W was hyperemesis, which unfortunately means "severe and excessive vomiting". Gross, right?

Six weeks after God placed an amazing little life inside me, I became intimately acquainted with the diagnosis that I was experiencing a "hyperemic pregnancy". Throughout the next 7 months, I do not recall a day when I didn't lose every ounce of nourishment I attempted to put into my body. Several times a day.

On the "good days", I would try to go to work or run an errand, only to be sideswiped by a wave of nausea and summoned to my knees for hours. Once, I had to call my mom to drive me home from the parking lot of a drug store when I ironically became too naseous to wait in the pharmacy line for my anti-nausea medication.

On another occasion, my brother had the privelege of rescuing me from the ladies bathroom at the grocery store, where I'd attempted to pick up a few items of food to feed my poor husband. I was no match for the deli department, though... thinly-sliced turkey is a formidable foe to a weak stomach.

Needless to say, the sweetest words I ever heard were the doctor's proclamation that we had ourselves a baby boy. Mainly because it meant that I'd apparently survived the pregnancy; and at a hefty nine pounds, Drew seemed to have weathered the waves pretty well, too!

While I attempt to color my memories with shades of humor, I also feel a need to be transparent about the experience.

I never knew depression until I carried this child for nine months. I never experienced such a blow to my "I-can-do-everything" ego until I couldn't do anything at all but sit on the cold tile floor of my bathroom. I never thought I'd make irrational choices when my own child's life was at stake until I heard myself begging the doctor to "deliver him NOW", six weeks before my due date (they didn't, by the way. Thank goodness doctors tend to ignore irrationally hormonal pregnant women).

The good news is that I've never known that kind of depression again since the day my son took his first breath of earthly air, and my days are filled with tremendous joy. I've never experienced such assurance that "God can do everything" until I realized I couldn't do anything except pray for this beautiful gift He's loaned me. I never knew what it felt like to be gladly willing to give your life without question for someone, until I met this boy.

Three years have passed since my hyperemic phase of life. I'm happy to say that the memories aren't quiet so vivid. Perspective has set in, and I'm realizing that my experience has made me more empathetic (I certainly have a soft spot in my heart for young moms who are at a certain stage of pregnancy and a certain shade of green).

Whatever the reason, I'm grateful for the experience. And I still feel victorious when I'm able to complete my order at the deli counter!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Yes...Sometimes... or Not Yet

I had to complete an evaluation for Drew's preschool today. The "Ages and Stages Questionnaire", or ASQ, devloped by someone at Iowa State University, sets out to determine whether my three-year old is performing well or (as they ominously put it in the scoring section) "may need further evaluation" in Communication, Gross Motor Skills, Fine Motor Skills, Problem-Solving, and Personal-Social Interaction.

So, this morning, with questionnaire in hand, I set out to determine my son's ranking amongst his 3-yr old peers. Drew was delighted with most of the activities I asked him to perform, while I checked each box we completed with a Yes, Sometimes, or Not Yet.

"Drew, point to your nose...your ears... hair... feet... etc."
He looked at me with a goofy smile and complied, pointing to each feature I named.

"O.K., now pick up that couch cushion and place it UNDER the coffee table."

"That's not where it goes, mommy. It goes ON the couch."

"Yes, but I just need you to listen and obey. Place the cushion UNDER the table."

"Mommy, it doesn't fit. I'll put it NEXT TO the table."

(He was probably wondering whether there was a 32-yr old ASQ... "Can your mother give directions that are actually able to be completed by a three-year old. Yes, Somtimes, or Not Yet")

Gross Motor Skills:
I was asked if my child could kick a ball by swinging his leg forward, jump with both feet leaving the floor at the same time or throw a ball overhand. While I could have easily answered these questions without a demonstration, I thought Drew might enjoy showing me how he did each. Gross motor skills have always been my son's strong suit, and I hoped for the opportunity to elaborate on how fast this little guy's fast-pitch really was, or how he has a better batting average than my husband. But, I only had the Yes, Sometimes and Not Yet boxes, so I placed Check Marks in the "Yes" columns and went looking for my son who was demonstrating his jumping abilities from atop the dining room table.

Problem Solving and Personal-Social Skills:
Drew does well in these areas, I realized as I completed each section. At one point, I had to ask him, "Are you a girl or a boy?"

"I'm a boy and you're a girl. Daddy's a boy and Walker's (the dog) a boy. You are the only girl and you have 3 boys."

"O.K., thanks!" At this point I started to feel really good about this kid's developement. I mean, it doesn't really take much for the mommy-pride to kick in, and I was there. Then I turned the page to:

Fine Motor Skills:
I knew I was in for disappointment already. Just last night we were eating at Chili's, where they gave my son a picture of a chili to color for some charitable cause. We donated a few dollars so that Drew's artwork could be hung on the wall of the restaurant. I am embarassed to admit that I considered asking them to just keep his picture tucked away, so as not to scare some of the smaller children.

My little guy is not an artist. He has wonderful talents and passions. They do NOT include artistic ventures. This kid barely uses more than one color on any coloring page and only scribbles in large, sweeping marks. Lines mean nothing to him. Form means nothing to him. He still holds a pencil or crayon in his fist like it's a hammer and is about as gentle as a lumberjack with his chosen artistic medium.

Needless to say, we finally gave some attention to the "Sometimes" and "Not Yet" categories, and the questionnaire was completed.

For the rest of the afternoon, Drew talked about all the "New Tricks" Mommy had asked him to perform. And I have to admit that it was fun for me, too. It's hard to believe how fast these kids grow up, and when asked to quantify the progress, I realized today how much my child has learned in three short years.

So, I asked myself today if I was ready for life with this amazing big boy in preschool. Yes, Sometimes, or Not Yet.... and I checked all three boxes.

Thursday, September 4, 2008


Well, we're back from Guatemala. And I have to say that the adjustment process has been interesting. Filled with highs and lows. I'm grateful for hot showers and I'm disenchanted with television. I'm enjoying air conditioning in my home, and I'm not enjoying a house filled with the noises of only one child. While ordering my fast-food, I catch myself wondering what the orphanage could have done with that $6.

As someone who enjoys writing, my expectations were set high for some great "material" when I got home. Yesterday, though, I went out of my way to avoid this blog. I cannot find words to describe our time with the children of Amando Los Ninos. And I think that I'll just have to wait a few days to let the experience sift through my brain before the words can accurately capture the events that transpired.

For the time being, I'm loving the hourly pleas from my boy to "tell me some more stories from Gwa-wa-ma-wa!"

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Home Again!

Today is my big boy's very first day of preschool. And I will still be in Guatemala. And Grandma will be taking him to school.

Will you pray for us??

We'll be arriving home around midnight tonight. I am so grateful for your prayers this week. I can't wait to share stories and pictures. Although I'm writing this post about a week before we even leave for our trip, I am just believing that God is preparing our way, that He's directing our paths, and that He is just preparing to show us who He is in a very real way.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Día Cinco

* The following post was written on 8/22 in anticipation of our trip to Guatemala *
For updates on our trip, click HERE

It's Labor Day, and I'm hoping that we'll be doing some good old-fashioned labor on this, our last day in Guatemala!

In the meantime, my parents have just arrived back home from my brother's wedding and will be watching Drew today. I'm sure they'll be exhausted, so please pray for rest and good health as they switch gears and watch the boy for the next two days.

Please also pray that Drew will be excited by the transition to Grandma and Grandpa's house. That he'll be brave and strong, and that he won't miss his mommy and daddy too much.