30 November 2010

Thanksgiving success!

Walter and I became very friendly with our bird friend over Thanksgiving weekend. Thanks to a very thoughtful friend, I sported my pink frilly rubber gloves and my fingers never actually had to feel the slimy turkey innards. What a brilliant idea!

We massaged. We salted. We bagged. It was truly a team effort, and I probably was the weak link in the team. Walter was my turkey hero!!

Sometimes life actually happens in a picture perfect way. The one element that never even made it near my Thanksgiving planning list appeared just as we pulled the turkey out of the oven. I peeked in at our bird friend one last time and realized the turkey thermometer read the magic number 180.

Simultaneously, someone shouted, "It's snowing!"

Perfect. The ingredient only God could provide arrived at the exact right moment.
We sat down to enjoy our dinner next to the cabin's large picture windows and watched huge flakes drift over the hill and I breathed a huge sigh of successful relief.
Rock Castle we love you!

23 November 2010

Soak it in

Tomorrow I get to pick up my 20 pound bird friend. I've been hoping we get along well since July when I first learned I would be preparing Thanksgiving dinner this year.

Brining. Bags. Roasting Pans. Carving Knives. Sticking my hands inside the body cavity.

This year I'm word associating things with the big day that hadn't crossed my mind in past years when I looked forward to celebrating Thanksgiving.

Being a detail oriented, list-making person, you can bet I've had strategies planned out for weeks. I even had a chance to write about them in the newspaper column this month.

As the providers of the big meal, I like to think we get to plan any type of family discussion on Thankfulness. Although the loaded pretzel rods we made for place setting favors do not look like the ones on the crafty blog I follow, I'm looking forward to reading the Bible verses we will attach to each one and hearing everyone share about the good things in their lives.

For some who will sit around our table, this year brought more pain than they thought they could go through. Others received abundantly from God's gifts.

Whether it's Asher stating he's thankful that Christmas is just a few weeks away. Or Grandparents being thankful for their health, we will all have something to share.

Maybe it's a matter of perspective, being around family, or the peaceful feelings our brains create after eating turkey.

We will sit around the table, hold hands as we look around (at the most beautiful bird ever roasted), and for a peaceful moment that keeps us coming back year after year, we will rest in knowing God is good.

There is much to be thankful for. I pray the Thanksgiving abundance permeates and lasts in our spirits far beyond this weekend.

Happy Thanksgiving!

17 November 2010

Anger management

Mom I'm thirteen. Now I'm fourteen. I'm going to be twenty three if you keep doing that.

The scale used to stop at ten, but apparently Walter and I push Asher's anger buttons so hard that his tool to describe the intensity of his emotions had to expand.

It doesn't matter if it's an inanimate object like a door, a chair, the sun or a real person. Angry words tumble out of his mouth so easily, and I find myself constantly encouraging my boy to use self control.

His excuse?

"I'm defending myself."

He owns such a sense of self protection at only four years of age.

I am at a loss for figuring out where all of this anger comes from. All the research I find on anger in children suggest the emotions come as a response to major trauma in their little lives. We haven't had any of that here. God has given us goodness beyond what we could ever describe.

I'm left to believe the quickness to anger and lashing out is more deeply inherent, making it even harder to root out and manage. Much like in myself. And maybe that hits one of the hardest things about being a parent.

It's easy to take compliments for Asher's long eyelashes that I know come from me. And even easier to blame those ears that stick out on his dad. But to look at my flesh and blood child and realize those character flaws are inherited from me drives God's pruning tools even deeper around the areas I know need to be cut out of my life.

Maybe Asher doesn't see his mom yelling at a rock when I stub my toe on it. But maybe he has seen me grumping about that leaf truck driving slow and blowing leaves all over us when I'm trying to get us to preschool on time.

Agh. I hate even admitting areas for "growth potential" aka...bad character qualities exist in my life, but when I see them living out in a miniature way everyday, there is no denying I have room to grow.

Leading me to wonder if the most effective tool in God's sanctification toolbox is creating kids to act out life as they see it lived in their parents.

15 November 2010

no more naivety

Yeah! We're thinking more about little baby things around here again.

I'm dreaming about all the adorable items my knitting needles can get working on.

Walter's creativity in name selection is starting to run full speed. Let me tell you, he gets some of his best ideas on roadtrips when we see exit signs. Litchfield? Sawyerville? It's going to be a fun holiday traveling season.

Asher simply states, "It better be a boy baby," in that threatening way that I know will have consequences if Baby happens to be another girl.

Of course Amelie is clueless about the upcoming change to her world, but I look forward to watching her become a big sister.
A new baby will bring new energy, fresh hope, and a blanket of innocence to everyone who will count little toes and comment on lack of hair.

The innocence is what I now know will not last forever. It's not only believing the baby will always remain perfect and sweet, but believing mom and dad will only allow good things for the baby.

Somehow every mother holds on to the dream that her little boy will never play with guns and swords. He will be the peaceful exceptional child who prefers to play with farm animals and construct genius inventions out of wood. During pregnancy, during birth, in the early days, weeks, months, even years, fathers agree to this protection and desire to never allow the boy to touch a weapon.

Until the boy turns two, and finds a stick. Somehow that stick points at animals, other children, anything that moves. It makes popping noises. And before the flabbergasted mother can stop it, the father joins in and teaches the boy to make a better stick. How to fashion a sword. The joys of a capgun that has real bullets that smoke. Somehow the memories of his own boyhood arsenal overcome daddy and all the declarations of a peaceful weapon-free home are shot down.

The next time around, even as a baby girl, her peaceful innocence doesn't make it to her first birthday without holding a weapon and learning to make "pow pow" noises. Before she can even talk in full sentences, Mommy will look in her rearview mirror and see her little sweetie pulling the capgun trigger in a fierce gun battle with her brother.

Of course this is all theoretical, but I'm not a naive mom anymore. With this third baby, I'm making my sign now to keep the nursery a weapon free zone.

At least until the baby's eyes learn to focus!

08 November 2010

Much to celebrate!

We showed up at the hotel only to realize our reservations were at the hotel ten minutes away rather than across the street from the mall. This meant no afternoon of swimming.

Wolf, Amelie's most cuddled animal who we found at the top of the Trail Ridge Road in Colorado got left behind in the hotel room.

The out of the way yarn shop I drug my family to in Oak Park didn't have the yarn and pattern I hoped it would have.

We made way too many wrong turns and missed exits for a girl who likes to believe she remembers her way around Chicago.

Navy Pier's parking garage sign said "FULL" meaning we had to walk a couple of blocks - a big deal for a four year old boy who believes his hands and face need band-aids all over if he gets too cold.

I should have known when I chose to have a Jamba Juice for my dinner that Asher would hover his lips close to my straw waiting for his turn to drink.

And just ten miles from home when the car had settled down with a little girl and tired mommy asleep, the gas light came on and the peaceful ride ended.

But we still had so much fun!

We have so many reasons to celebrate and I am reminded how much of life is a choice of whether to celebrate or not.

Walter is back with us after months of study hibernation!
And felt rewarded for entertaining kids at Oakbrook by winning a t-shirt after playing the new Microsoft gaming system.

The hotel pool stayed open until 10 pm!

Maggianos still tastes delicious even with a child who keeps falling off his chair.

The knitting shop did have color samples of the yarn I want to order.

Cheesy dancing pirates fascinated Asher enough to make him think about becoming a pirate when he grows up.

Yes, life is good here.
And we choose to respond with thanks and delight.

05 November 2010

End of the Sheriff?

Although a little late with the Halloween picture, I had to share a picture of our adorable Cowgirl and the Sheriff. For months, my Sheriff has worn his get-up everyday but I think this phase is waning. He no longer needs his bandanna tied around his neck every morning. I don't have to buckle his belt that holds the twenty pound jail keys, and I'm not finding hairy moustaches all over the house anymore. The capguns and holsters he received to go with the Sheriff outfit will probably stay around for a while, and so will the cowboy boots since they make him taller than his sneakers.
But the fact is Sheriffs don't have armor to protect against weapons and Knights do. So the Knight armor has re-appeared a little more often these days.

It's hard to know what the next big thing will be, but I'm desperately hoping he forgets what he declared he's into next. On the way home from preschool this week he stated.

"Mom, I think I'm going to be into skeletons next."

01 November 2010

Jabbing and poking

"Why did they call me a bad knight and bad cowboy? It hurt my feelings." Asher asked last night when I tucked him in with his goodnight song.

My heart tore with the realization that those words still stung hours later. Rather than thinking about the fun he had playing with his friends and trick-or-treating, his last thoughts before bed were replaying a bad scene in his mind.

I understand where the words came from, that they were meant to be in play, but they still hit a place where no one wants to be hit. A place every mother tries to protect in her child as long as possible. I want him to believe everyone loves him just as much as I do and that no one will ever think badly of him. It's a form of denial that begins the moment I first held his screaming body, looked into those beautiful eyes for the first time and truly believed he is the most perfect child ever born.

Of course I learned long ago that my son is less than perfect and earlier last evening before the friends arrived, I wanted to trade him in for a child who skips rather than grumps around the neighborhood. But I don't know if I'm ready for going through another round of feeling painful words from kids who don't understand what they're saying. The first time around of hearing "shorty" and "midget" were bad enough. I don't want to live through that part again.

Still surprised about how much this is weighing my heart down, I sat to talk to God about it this morning. I heard myself saying to Him, "I hate watching my son go through so much hurt." and realized how much God understands my pain.

Pain multiplied to the millionth power.

God didn't just watch people call His son, who really is perfect, "bad," but listened to words intended to cut down and disregard everything about His son's entire life. God watched His son be mocked, spit on, beaten, ignored, and enduring the worst possible pain. Did He have to turn His eyes away? Somehow distance Himself from the pain? Tell Himself Jesus would forget it all in the morning? Surely Jesus' years on earth frequently broke the Father's heart. And sometimes having a heart broken watching from afar hurts even more than having it pierced in the moment.

I know this is just the beginning of the ups and downs of childhood words and feelings being hurt. Somehow Asher will make it through to adulthood relatively unscarred. And I hope along the way I can help my boy understand he's not the first or last to be on the receiving end of hurt feelings.

And there is Someone who walks close to him who sympathizes with every jab and poke.

And I've been reminded the Father understands the pain in watching the jabbing and poking.