Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Mad Skills

Earlier I found a sippy cup in Caleb's room as I was putting him to bed, and my stomach turned when I saw it because I had no idea how long it had been in there.  Even worse, no idea of what was in it.  Juice that had possibly fermented is one thing, almond milk or a smoothie is something else entirely.

I would like to interject a fun fact about myself: I have a pretty weak stomach normally.  If you're looking for my Kryptonite, well there it is.  Blood or a gross smell usually does it.  You could probably add my "list" of words I hate to the Kryptonite group, but that isn't relevant right now.

So, as I was bracing myself to wash out this cup (that I seriously considered just throwing away), I thought about how if I hadn't developed the "breathe-through-my-mouth-instead-of-my-nose" instinct like I have, then I would probably have a much harder time taking care of little boys.  And that got me thinking of all the awesome Mom Superpowers I now possess.  So here is my list of Mad Mom Skills...or Skillz...depending on how gangster I'm feeling.

  • First, of course, is the one I just talked about, breathing through my mouth to avoid disgusting smells.  If you don't have children, this alternative to being grossed out by stinky things might have never occurred to you.  Then again, if you're a twenty-something young man still living by yourself I'm sure your kitchen has warranted plenty of nose-plugging.  The skill here is doing it without using your hands.  You look like you're breathing normally, but you can't smell a thing.  I do this on a daily basis, especially when changing a certain Caleb Brant's diaper. (For real, the kid is rotten inside or something.)
  • The next one follows the whole smell theme.  If you know me at all, you know I have a super heightened sense of smell.  And yes, this is a curse when it comes to the whole weak stomach thing.  But something cool about being a parent is that the disgusting parts are slightly less disgusting when it's your own child.  So because of our..."adventures", with Joshua, I can now smell poop from the opposite side of the house.  No dirty diaper will go unnoticed if I'm within 100 feet.
  • I've got that whole "eyes-in-the-back-of-my-head" thing going for me already.  It's like I know every sound that is specific to every object in the house.  And what actions are specific to silence, e.g., climbing on the kitchen table, or chewing on a tube of diaper rash medicine.
  • I communicate pretty well with a completely non-verbal 4 year old and a 19 month old who only speaks gibberish (plus a couple unhelpful words).  It's the oddest thing, but it starts when they're infants and you learn to distinguish their cries.  This one means hungry, that one means sleepy, this one means he's angry at the Cowboys, etc.
  • I can wipe a snotty nose faster than a speeding bullet.  
  • When Joshua still used a pacifier, I used my super hero immune system as a shield so I could clean it off when he dropped it.  The moms reading this know what I mean.
  • I can figure out the most complicated of car seat fasteners.  This also goes for high chairs and strollers.
  • I can sleep through a hurricane (or Bobby's alarm and morning ritual at 3:30 a.m.) but the second I hear a little boy whimper I'm wide awake.  Only God knows how my brain tells the difference.
  • I can carry forty pounds of sleeping toddler up a flight of stairs without missing a step, but I can't do a full push-up.  It's a total mystery.
  • And my personal favorite...I've learned to laugh at situations that would make most people want to cry or have a nervous breakdown.  It's a survival instinct, I think.
Well, that's the short list...Any moms out there have any they want to add?

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Best. Christmas. Ever.

Apparently I can be a little Scrooge-ish around Christmas time.  I fully embrace the idea of celebrating the night that God came near to us, the birth of our Savior into the world...but I have some hang-ups with the Pagan roots of most Christmas traditions.  Not to mention, the excessive materialism it has ingrained in America's children. I mostly push these things aside to focus on the aforementioned "reason for the season", but sometimes the Grinchiness seeps through.  Plus, this year was the thinnest Christmas Bobby and I have had since we got married so I was kinda bummed about not being able to join in all that materialism I say I hate so much.

See how that works?  We humans can be pretty hypocritical.  It's shocking to me that anyone can point a finger at hypocrisy when we've all been guilty of it on some level.

Anyway, I thankfully married someone who loves Christmas like he's still five years old himself.  It helps in the balancing act of relationships I've talked about before.  So I try and make sure he remembers it's about Jesus and not Santa Claus and he makes sure I remember it's also about joy and child-likeness.  Which brings me to the main reason we've both had a bittersweet past couple of Christmases. 

One of the things we both couldn't wait for after having Joshua was the time when he would be old enough to get really excited about Christmas.  We would laugh and talk about how he probably wouldn't want to go to sleep and he'd get up super early, dragging us out of bed to go open presents.  Well, this year he is four and up until this point none of our expectations of how Christmas would be with small children had come to pass.  We've never been able to get him to open gifts and it usually ended with us opening them, and then trying to force him to sit down and look at them, hoping they would grab his interest.  Which also never worked.  Eventually he would wander over to the new things but our grandiose ideas of gift-opening never panned out.  

So cut to Christmas Eve at Bobby's parents, and neither of us really anticipating anything other than the usual.  Then out comes the drum set LaVonne got Joshua and something amazing happens...he goes right over to it and starts banging away.  He loved it!  He was smiling and happy and actually excited about a present.  And then something else happened...

He started opening everything!

On top of all that, Caleb was really loving all of his stuff too.  We had two little boys running around, taking turns on the drums, fighting over dinosaurs, and ultimately spending time trying out every new gift.
He couldn't even wait to get it out of the box...

Bobby and I just sat in awe with tears in our eyes, feeling like anything was possible after experiencing the purest joy I've ever known.  The year we'd spent the least amount of money turned out to be arguably the best Christmas either of us ever had.  Here we were, upset over not being able to give all we wanted to, and God gave us this reminder of Himself.  The reminder of His covenant love that began when a common Jewish girl yielded herself as a vessel and gave birth to our ultimate gift in a stable.  I don't believe in focusing on Jesus being a baby (because He isn't anymore) or Jesus hanging on the cross (because He isn't there anymore either), but I do believe in Christmas as a time to remember HOW He came to us.  In the most discreet way, with the least amount of fanfare as possible.  His time on earth began and ended under a mantle of humility.  And this year, I was once again humbled by His mercy and grace that He continues to pour out on the most undeserved.  

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Smallest Cloud

     So, I'm trying to get better at this blogging thing.  I still haven't found anyone to help me with getting it really pretty looking and whatnot, but mostly I'm kinda bad about writing on a regular basis.  It's a combination of not having anything to write about, having too much to write about, not having time, and having time but not having the mental energy to form intelligible sentences.  Plus, I'm my own worst critic so after I post something I feel good about it for about five minutes and then I re-read it so many times I've come up with about twenty things wrong with it.  Which then leads to overwhelming anxiety about ever writing anything ever again.  But then I remember why I do this in the first place and decide to windmill kick my insecurity in the face (a move I can only perform metaphorically...just in case you were wondering).
     I also have a hard time evading the rabbit trails.

     Last week Joshua said Hi.  I was picking him up from school and when I said Hi to him (admittedly not really expecting a response), he said Hi right back.  Well sorta.  It sounded like any small child who is just learning to talk and doesn't say everything clearly right at first, but it started with an 'H' sound and followed my inflection perfectly.  He mimicked, which is another huge deal all by itself.  Add on top of that, the therapist who was with us when it happened said he did the same thing earlier that day with the word 'Yay', and I was in total shock.  I spent the whole rest of the day trying to get him to say it again and trying to get him to say pretty much every other word I could think of.  I always talk to him and prompt him to answer or repeat me, but that day I was doing double time.

     "And Elijah said to Ahab, Go up, eat and drink, for there is the sound of abundance of rain.  So Ahab went up to eat and to drink.  And Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; and he bowed himself down upon the earth and put his face between his knees And said to his servant, Go up now, look toward the sea.  And he went up and looked and said, There is nothing.  Elijah said, Go again seven times.  And at the seventh time the servant said, A cloud as small as a man's hand is arising out of the sea.  And Elijah said, Go up, say to Ahab, Hitch your chariot and go down, lest the rain stop you."  1 Kings 18:41-44 AMP (emphasis mine)

     Here are some things I've learned after reading and re-reading this passage about a hundred times over the last few weeks...

  • Elijah heard the sound before the cloud ever appeared.  God spoke it, so he knew it was a done deal and only a matter of time before he saw it manifest.  Elijah knew His voice, so he had no reason to doubt.  The bible says God watches over His word to perform it...if He speaks it, you can bet it's going to happen.  It's my favorite attribute of His, this unrelenting faithfulness and constantly UNchanging character.
  • Elijah took and maintained a position of prayer even though he knew the rain was coming.  God said it.  He heard the sound.  But he still prayed.  ("Be unceasing in prayer [praying perseveringly];" 1 Thess. 5:17 AMP) AND he prayed until the circumstances changed.  He was so persistent he wouldn't even move enough to go look for himself.  I'm not saying this suggests we lay aside every responsibility we have to lay on the floor in prayer all day, but I do think we can take the same continuous position of prayer in our attitudes, words, and thoughts.  And it makes a difference.
  • He moved to action at the smallest possible evidence of a coming rain.  The servant didn't come back and say that the biggest storm he'd ever seen was rolling in, but Elijah didn't need that to know it was on it's way.  Just a wisp of cloud.  Just the crumb from the Master's table.  Just the hem of His garment.  That's all Elijah needed to hear...
  • Ahab better get going, because the rain is coming.  
     No matter what I do I can't get away from this story.  I know when Joshua said Hi it was my teeny, tiny cloud way off (or not so way off) in the distance.  He hasn't said anything since then, but that doesn't phase me.  I can hear the sky opening up.