Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Roller Skates and Real Change

It has been a death defying morning.

We had a picnic lunch in celebration of our survival.

Littles roller skated out the kitchen door and down a two foot drop into the garage; he knocked one of the jeep doors over onto himself; he fell off the 3 foot tall night stand (again--roller skates); and he still thought that roller skating up on the playground (and I do mean "up" on the 4 foot high platform) was a good idea. Tiny, on the other hand, managed to light a match and drop it (still lit) onto the carpet and also turn the gas stove on full blast when I wasn't watching. The boys ended the morning with a brawl over who got to get Bee a spoon at lunch that included one child throttling the other one by the neck. Brotherly love. And pyromania. And roller skates.

Who thought roller skates were a good idea?

He was getting cocky yesterday practicing on the carpet
and decided to try the tile for the first time…it wasn't pretty.
I can't count the number of times this kid has wiped out. 

Anyway, by no small miracle, all four children are in bed right now (and I am hoping I don't incite the jinx by writing this), so I thought I'd make good use of my time and write…instead of doing something more practical like cleaning the kitchen or prepping for the move. The Man wants a sane wife at the end of the day, after all, more than a clean house. I think.

The twins were a huge help when we bunked the boys' beds this weekend.

Lately, I've been thinking about ways that I have changed since the kids arrived. There's the obvious--stretch marks and a crusty kitchen floor--but there have also been a few more subtle changes along the way. For instance, I hate fake flowers. Absolutely think that they are terrible. Why have fake flowers when they a) don't have any fragrance and b) are just a cheap imitation of reality? But right now, in fact, for the last three months, there has been a vase full of fake flowers next to my coffee pot. Yup. I'll let you take a wild guess about who gave them to me for Mother's Day.

Aside from changes in decor (did I mention Little's contribution to our bedroom wall art? and experienced moms, please tell me, when is it okay to get rid of your children's artistic efforts?), I've also had to man up in a few areas. Like when I find a mouse baked into my oven. Do I scream? Maybe a little. But then I made like an adult, cleaned it up, and helped my poor traumatized children move on with their lives.

He brought a snack for the road.

Speaking of trauma and manning up, few weeks ago, the Man decided that the state of egg-lessness in our home needed to be rectified. I don't eat them so I don't cook them. And since he's rarely home for breakfast, the boys haven't really been exposed to them at all (unless you count putting them in baked goods). So, he lovingly cooked up a whole batch of breakfast burritos.

The boys were more than a little hesitant to try them (considering that Littles thinks the Man's cooking consists of calling in pizza--not true), so I said I would try them too. Moral support and all that. Think like a team: eat eggs. Besides which, I generally re-try eggs every year or so to see if my taste buds have moved on with their lives. They've been given a good long break since I've been pregnant for going on 5 years now and no one in their right mind would expose themselves to their most hated food while pregnant.

I made it all the way through that burrito. Yep. Even if it did start coming back up about halfway through. And I made it with a smile, if a somewhat queasy one. Then I filed that experience away under "things I do for my children" and moved on with my life.

These kids have starting joining us in our eating escapades.

In a full spirit of confession, being a mom has also made me realize just how ugly my sin is. We've had a rough couple of months sleep-wise (I'm starting to sound like a broken record), and there are few things more capable of bringing out my awful than sleep deprivation. I have had thoughts I never thought I would have. I have said words I hoped never to hear coming out of my mouth. I've been impatient. I've yelled. I've gotten angry about things that really don't matter. And at the end of the day, I've found myself broken hearted at who I am when things get uncomfortable.

This is still where I am a lot of the time. It's easy for me to get stuck on the failures, reliving them even on the good days. But I am trying (so hard) to learn that the glory of the good news of Jesus Christ is here even in this. So often I come before Christ, begging for forgiveness, asking how he can love me in all my ugly, but the reality is that my failure does not come as a surprise to Him. Not at all. His grace accepts all of me. His cross redeems all of me. His empty grave renews all of me.

This was just supposed to be a funny post about my silly children, but the truth is, though I am not the woman I was before they came into my life, the main reason is that they force me closer and closer to Christ as I desperately try to figure out how to parent them past the sleepless nights and the rearranged expectations and the toddler tantrums. Fake flowers and taped up scribble sheets and choked down breakfast burritos are hopefully only the outward sign of a heart that is being relentlessly drawn closer to the only one who deserves a Parent of the Year award--the one who gave his own life so that his children could be with him forever.

Early morning snuggles are the best, aren't they?

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Hope Revisited

A few months ago, I wrote about hope. I'd like to revisit that topic.

I was reading the love chapter earlier this week as I nursed--which means I really wasn't thinking about hope at all. I was thinking about how J.B. Phillips translated "love is not rude" to "love has good manners". (So stop talking with your mouth full! It's unloving! And if you don't change the toilet paper roll, you might as well just tell me you hate me!) And then I got to the very last verse:

In life we have three lasting qualities--faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of them is love.

All those months ago (or was it weeks? time is screwy these days), I asked what we do when our hope dies. I've finally figured out what I think the answer to the question is: love.

When our hope is deferred, we choose to love. To love ourselves, to love the faulty humans who surround us, to love Christ, and possibly most importantly, to rest in His love for us, because we are faulty humans and consequently, our love also is faulty.

So, at the end of a long day when things have not gone as planned,
when the laundry has not been finished,
the dishes have not been done,
the floors have not been vacuumed,
the muscles of my body and mind have not been stretched,
all because of the tyranny of the urgent (also known as the tyranny of twins and toddlers),
and I look in the mirror and lose hope that life will ever be manageable again,
that my body will ever be, well, not saggy and flabby,
that my mind will be able to process more than nursing schedules and tantrum management,
that our home will ever be salvaged from the dust bunnies that have taken over,
that I'll ever get things rolling towards this move…

I must make the choice to love.

I remind myself that I love my children and my husband,
and that a great part of love is service,
whether that means kissing invisible booboos
or choosing to do dishes with two babies strapped to my front
or leaving behind unfolded laundry to fit in some outdoor bonding with my sons.
I remind myself that I need to love myself,
which might mean cutting a little slack,
or crediting piggy back rides as an aerobic work out,
or believing the Man when he tells me that what I've done with my day is enough.
Most of all, perhaps, I remind myself that I love my Jesus,
and that means believing him
when he tells me I am fearfully and wonderfully made--yes, even on the days when I feel like a failure.

Because that's what love is:
believing the best
of others and of ourselves.
And when we can't hope any more,
when we find ourselves wondering if this is the best we get,
we choose love
(to believe the best even if this is the best we get).

Because love will always bring us back to our greater hope,
the one True Love who gave everything so that this
right here
right now
isn't the best we get,
but is only a shadow,
a taste,
a hint of what is to come:
forever with Him,
transformed to reflect Him,
completely satisfied in Him,
hope realized.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014


There have been a lot of lasts lately. It's PCS season. So, you know, last time having dinner with that family. Last time at the playground with those kids. Last date before our babysitter moves to Illinois. You get the picture. With all that said, it's been nice to have some firsts. So, let's celebrate some firsts, shall we?

In the traditional sense, Bruiser is leading the way with a couple teeth. We need to get the biting under control quickly though. That kid is rabid.

You can see them if you look closely, hold your tongue right, and squint a lot.

Little's survived his first wasp sting. Technically, his first two wasp stings or were they yellow jacket stings? It doesn't matter. The point is that he screamed a lot less for the second one than the first. Desensitization at its best.

Bee blew her first raspberry on my arm the other day. It tickled. She was proud of herself.

We had our first bout of twin on twin wrestling. Bruiser got the jump on Bee. He may be small, but he's quick. I predict that his first words will be "smack" and "down". Also, Littles and Tiny may or may not be starting a betting pool. The odds were on the heavyweight Bee before this surprising upset.

Please don't tell me if all my wrestling terminology is wrong.
The Man isn't home tonight to help me in my ignorance.

The twins got their first bucket swinging experience. Tiny also had his first time of accidentally swinging upside down when his bum slid off the swing when he was about six feet up in the air. Luckily all my "hold on tight" lectures had apparently sunk in and the Man was able to rescue him before he broke his neck. When I die of a heart attack, we will all know who caused it.

I promise the huge forehead is a result of bad camera angles.

She was smiling right until I took this picture. I promise.
And yes, that might be a tiny, fuzzy mohawk developing on the top of her head.

The big boys began their foray into baseball, which evidently is going to be their first official sport. I was really pulling for soccer, but the Man sabotaged me. He's sneaky like that. Fine: I have big plans to brainwash them all the next time he deploys. He'll come home and they'll all be musical loving, Indonesian speaking, soccer players.

This stud takes his baseball very seriously.
His bat is also starting a reign of terror in our home.

The Man is in the process of getting a really great picture of Littles here.
I'd include it but he didn't send it to me.
So instead I'm posting this picture which shows you the astounding green of our well-mown weeds.
Is this Oklahoma? I can hardly believe my eyes!

Bee borrowed my clothes for the first time (it's a long story--don't ask). I almost think she pulls off my super awesome Neverthirst t-shirt better than I do...

She makes that shirt look good.

The twins got their first big kid stroller ride. No one fell out of the stroller, so I think we're winning. Also, that's Bee's first sippy in the cup holder. Technically it's the communal sippy because I'm hygienic like that. Honestly, I was going to get Brusier one too, but they were all out of "boy" colors, and I figured sharing with Bee for a couple weeks would be less psychologically damaging than having his own pink and flowery sippy. 

There was nothing exciting happening over the edge of the stroller.
But don't they make you wonder?

Bee also showed first evidence last week of her own special brand of humor when she spent a significant portion of lunch fake sneezing and laughing at herself.

Unfortunately, neither the twins nor the boys have decided to impress us with the first of breaking the ongoing run of sleepless nights (it's a thunderstorm! it's a bad dream! it's a new tooth coming in! it's Mommy and Daddy's eyeballs falling out from exhaustion!), so I'm continuing to live on a healthful diet of coffee and sugar, which isn't doing much to help the sudden influx of what I'm referring to as PCS pimples. But who knows? They could decide, tonight even, that a well-rested Mommy is a first everyone could enjoy.