Thursday, April 28, 2016

In Which the Allergies Runneth Over

It has been the week of allergies. I am still in denial because I don't have allergies, but now that I'm on an allergy medication as well as two different eye drops, I think I should acknowledge the truth and move on.

Let me just say: to all of you courageous people who have played off the line, "It's just allergies", I salute you. Because I believed you--and allergies are the worst.

I really dislike not being able to see out of one eye because it's burning like the fires of Mordor (nerd reference for the win) and won't stop leaking tears down my face. It makes driving annoying and reading near impossible. While I don't mind the Man chauffeuring me around every where and thankfully have most of the twins' books memorized so I can "read" with my eyes closed, I can't recite The Wind in the Willows verbatim to the boys and would really like to know how my own novel ends.

Perhaps it's made even worse by the fact that for five minute periods I feel better and am thoroughly enjoy feeling better only to find myself streaming tears again and hiding from sunshine like a vampire. Allergies, man, they're hard.

At the very least, the Man and I have now officially crossed Texas off of our Retirement Potentials list (because I won't reward Texas pollen with my presence), which only leaves 49 states and the rest of the world to decide between. I may have allergies, but I'm still winning.

That's my foot on the right.
I'm surviving allergy season by napping on any flat surface available while the
kids joyously trash the house. It's working well for us,
and the teddies and babies are enjoying a surplus of clean diapers.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

One Moment

My sister told me on the phone today that there was a moment this week when she and her kids were coming home, their hands full of wildflowers they had picked, her eldest son racing down the hill on his scooter, when she just wanted to slow down and grab hold of the memory with both hands so that she wouldn't forget how perfect it was.

Isn't it interesting how those moments happen in the middle of the mundane, and if we're not careful, we miss them?

Last day of first grade...or kindergarten...we aren't quite sure.

There's something about them--the quality of the light, the way the air holds its breath, the stillness between seconds--and we try to take a picture with our minds so that we can hold onto the moment, remember its every detail, replicate it in our mind even years from now.

We won't be able to. Memory is fickle, and we know that. And the very fact that these perfect moments happen in the middle of our every day makes them that much harder to grasp.

This kid...

It's one moment, maybe a glancing smile exchanged with my husband while the kids laugh around the dinner table, maybe pudgy arms wrapped around my neck accompanied by a tiny kiss on my cheek, maybe my hand reaching down to pet the dog in the middle of the night--and I squeeze my eyes shut and try to memorize everything about it, knowing that tomorrow it will be blown off into the wind like dandelion fluff.

Finally, I just give thanks and pray that God will help me remember. Because I know that the things that make a life are not the Pinterest moments or the well-planned birthdays or the perfectly executed vacations (not that there is anything wrong with those things). A life is made up of a string of moments, one after another after another.

I brush the hair off of sleeping eyelashes. One moment.
I read as the sun sets, an arm around each boy. One moment.
I push the swing higher to the music of shrieking giggles. One moment.
I hold the Man's hand while we drive. One moment.

Tomorrow there will be new moments to replace them--some good, some not so good. I say thank you. And best as I possibly can.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Bucket Lists and Babies

I hit a major goal on my bucket list this week. I feel like I should write about that because it was kind of a big deal for me, but also because I think sometimes we need to remind others that there is life after kids.

When I first found out I was pregnant with the Little Man, I thought my life as I knew it was over. In my hormone crazed mind, all my dreams were suddenly placed on the back burner, and I was no more than a receptacle for a child. Seven years and a little sanity later, to a certain extent, yeah, it was kind of like that. But really, not at all. Because while there are seasons when all I do is kids, I never stop being me, and the things that make me Marian never disappear. I might have less time for the things that once defined me, but they are not suddenly negated.

So if you're a new mom reading this (or a mom who's just had kid number two or three or four), take heart. I know having a new baby can feel overwhelming. You're stuck in a world of breastfeeding or bottles, spit up, runny poop, endless diapers, and an ever changing nap time. And you have graciously, sacrificially, lovingly set aside your own wants to care for this tiny being who is completely helpless. The days are very, very long...mostly because you never get to sleep any more so they stretch on into what was supposed to be tomorrow.

But the newborns grow up. And you will read books again and go to coffee shops and have the occasional uninterrupted conversation (though that will still be rare because hello, you have kids). You will find the time to exercise. You will go shopping (if that's your thing) and buy something other than unscented wipes and new pacifiers. You will fix your hair and do more than survival make up. You will wear jeans that fit again.

You will remember what it feels like to be you.

Not the you from before. That you has now deepened and broadened (especially around the hip area). There are parts of you that will be recognizable, aspects of your personality that will be greeted like old friends, but parts that will surprise you too. You still like running, but suddenly you have a taste for guacamole too.

This weekend I ran my first half marathon. I was surprised that my bladder nearly gave out on me--darn you, twinnancy! And that I had as much fun running it as I did. And that the sight of my children and husband cheering me on, first at mile ten and then at the finish line, about brought me to tears. But the running part felt very familiar, like getting back a piece of me that's been on hold through multiple pregnancies.

So I just wanted to say, I did it. And you can too. I don't know what's on your dream sheet. Maybe not running until you about pee your pants and your toenails want to fall off. Maybe it's going back to school. Maybe it's learning a new hobby. Maybe it's just figuring out how to do a Dutch braid. And right now you feel so overwhelmed and think that you're never going to do more than survive all the wonderful children God has given you.

Take heart. It may not be this season, but it could be the next. Our kids grow up so fast, and our bucket lists aren't going anywhere. Then again, one of the women who came in before me was pushing a running stroller with her very young baby in it and she was trucking so...some people are just super awesome and don't have to wait. You could try that route too. For the rest of us, solidarity: our bucket lists will still be there when the newborn smell has worn off.

This is after I availed myself of the port-a-potties.
Didn't the Man do a great job getting all the kids ready?
He even color coordinated them and got a bow in Bee's hair!

Friday, April 22, 2016

Bedtime Reading

Bedtime reading is sacred in our home. This week we've been straying from the more traditional written word and enjoying the challenge of I Spy Treasure Hunt with photographs by Walter Wick and riddles by Jean Marzollo. I love the I Spy books, and so do the kids. We've found several of them (including a Christmas themed board book that has been read to oblivion), and this one has been fun times for all. 

Unfortunately, this week, Littles decided to unscrew the lightbulb from his table lamp...and then Bruiser promptly shattered it...and I'm too lazy to change a we've been trying to find all the little hidden items by the light of the dusky sunlight that makes it through the window or the blindingly awful over head light. We've loved the challenge. Bedtime has gone a little late as we've gotten sucked into finding that one last item.

Last night after we finally gave up on I Spy (and probably destined the boys for a lifetime of glasses), I tucked the boys in bed, strapped on the Man's handy headlamp, and read them a chapter of The Wind in the Willows. It was so cozy, and it just happened to be the chapter where Mole gets lost in the Wild Wood, which was deliciously appropriate for reading in the dark. Tiny got very sucked in. Me too.

Some of my favorite reading happens in bed. There are few things more enjoyable than curling up against a stack of pillows with a good book and a warm blanket. There's also something thrilling about hiding under the sheets with a flashlight because you don't want Mom to catch you. Or, in my case, don't want to disturb your husband by keeping the lamp on. 

Lately, the Man and I have been letting Littles stay up with the headlamp and a book for another half an hour or so after getting tucked into bed. We feel that this is a time honored tradition which is just part of the joy of being in a reading family. However, this evening, I came up to lay down the law over bed time with the twins (again) and discovered that Bee is also delving into the world of reading under the sheets. She had handily picked out a Dr Seuss book and was more than a little proud of herself. It got confiscated after this picture.

So, what about you? What have you been reading in bed lately? I've been sampling some Annie Barrows, but when I was a kid I typically stayed up late with L.M. Montgomery, Brian Jacques, and Robin McKinley. So far Littles is tending more towards Beverly Cleary and Roald Dahl.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

A Visit from the Frizzells

{For Shirlee}

You asked for a visit from the Frizzells, and while I can't exactly make that happen, I'll get as close as possible. Here is what you should expect, should you ever receive a visit from us.

First, I hope it's okay if I bring my own coffee. I tell you this because I know some people don't appreciate coffee as much as I do, but I can't survive vacations with the kids without coffee. Truth.  And I don't think you can survive the un-coffeed version of me that the family has lately informed me is "just not as nice".

Second, I might bring Trigger with me because he's adorable and pathetic and I love him. Don't judge. I realize that the tables have turned, but seriously, look at his precious puppy eyes.

Third, you need to prepare yourself for the fact that my children are quite possibly the loudest human beings on the face of the planet. Here's Tiny playing drums on the cookware. What he lacks in rhythm, he makes up for in passion. Invest in ear plugs. Or maybe I should bring you some for your hostess gift...

Fourth, some nameless people in the family have started taking sports very seriously. I will make sure to remind said people that it's a bad idea to play baseball in the living room. I'm sorry in advance for whatever gets broken by loose baseballs and swung bats.

Fourth, it might get a bit dirty. My kids are magnets for mud and puddles. Also, they leave behind a trail of zucchini bread crumbs (a modern day Hansel and Gretel) which the Man swears are even harder to sweep up than rice.  Point me towards the cleaning supplies.

Lastly, I apologize for the fact that our youngest son is incapable of keeping on a shirt and has started impersonating Cousin It. He firmly believes that hair cuts are optional, and he has optioned out. Also,  Bee still doesn't understand why Bruiser gets to run around outside with no shirt and she doesn't get that option. I further confused her by forgetting she was a girl for five whole minutes yesterday and letting her do so until I came to my senses. Whoops.

At any rate, party at your place? I'll bring the crazy. You bring the awesome. And it will be--wait for it--crazy awesome.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Let the Sleeplessness Run Over

Dear friend whose one year old has suddenly decided she wants to see Mommy multiple times a night, 

Let me speak to you out of the wealth of my experience. 

But first, let me tell you how my eldest child lulled me into a false sense of security before I had the rug rudely pulled out from under my formerly well rested self. Never mind, I won't tell you about that part. It's not relevant, and it will only make us all long for things that will never again come to pass. I will just say that said child still routinely sleeps 12 hours a night and has to be dragged out of bed by the smell of burnt bagels while still wearing his favorite pajama shirt which reads "Waking Up Is Hard To Do".

Unfortunately, every child is different.

My other three children... Insomnia and I became close friends for quite some time. Even now, when I feel well rested and generally get my allotted 7 hours of sleep, there is rarely a night when the Man and I aren't each out of bed at least one time each. There are nightmares and potty accidents and lost loveys and pleas to "cover up me, Mommy" even though all children are perfectly capable of covering up themselves.

So here I am, not nearly as far removed from the trenches of sleeplessness as I'd like, to share what little I have gleaned with you:

  • You can do everything right, but you can't make them sleep. I swear to you that I read every sleep book available when it came to the twins. And implemented all of the suggestions religiously. Even the ones that contradicted themselves. And did so like my life depended on it. Because it really did. And was too tired to realize that I was completely crazy pants. It may have made me feel like I was doing everything I could, but it didn't make them sleep. You can lead a horse to water... BUT (repeat after me) you can't make a baby sleep.
  • If you have a partner in parenting, let them actually be your partner. The Man and I didn't really figure this one out until the twins. In all honesty, I felt fully capable of handling Tiny's sleeplessness on my own and the Man was swamped with work, so I made an executive decision to not interrupt the few hours of sleep he was getting. The twins were a different story. I was desperate over a year in, and he was home. He was my saving grace. This is especially important if you're still nursing. A middle of the night wake up had to be responded to by someone who didn't smell like breast milk. If you've got back up: use it.
  • Water sippies are your friend. Sometimes early toddlers are just thirsty. It's hard work learning how to walk. Sure you'll have to break this habit once they start potty training and haven't stopped drinking themselves to sleep, but it's totally worth it on the sleep end now. 
  • It's a season. I know it's no fun waking up to a demanding child when you are supposed to be past that stage. Expectations are a beast. Especially when you're pretty sure yours are founded in reality. But seriously, it goes so fast...and then they're in a top bunk dropping sippy cups on their sisters' heads and you can't get to them for those midnight snuggles. Hold them close, smell their heads, remind yourself they won't be nursing for much longer, and try to pray something other than just "Please, God, let them go to sleep" (although that is a totally acceptable prayer too). I spent a lot of wakeful nights praying for other mamas who weren't getting sleep either. Solidarity, sister.
  • Let these moments spur you to gratitude. Thank God on the nights you do sleep. And on the nights you don't, thank him that you have a kid who wants to spend time with you, a kid with a healthy appetite, a kid you can snuggle in your arms still. Or thank God that you get to send your husband in there to deal with your shrieking offspring while you roll over and get a little more sleep. There are always opportunities for gratitude if we are looking for them.
Why do they do this? Who knows. What is the joy of not sleeping? Sleep is wonderful! It's pretty much the best thing ever! Do they miss you? Are they really hungry? Are they perversely trying to keep you from being well rested enough to have another one of them? Could the answer be "D. All of the above"? We will never know.

Until, of course, we get to heaven and ask God why He didn't give us babies who slept a little better, and He informs us that He just wanted a little more time with us...and to give us a little more time with some the best gifts He's ever given us. Plus, He was all out of the babies that did sleep well and hadn't restocked on His supply yet.

May you get your version of this soon.
And may you know that her younger brother almost got
mailed to California tonight after an hour worth of sleep wars.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

The Dandelion

Last week we raised the question of why dandelions are the official flower of the military child. Here's the answer for you:

source unknown

I'm calling the tie for Shirlee's answer: 
"Because a dandelion is exactly all those things, bright and bold to the eye, strong and resilient to the elements in which it is dealt, soft and tender to touch."

and McKinzie's:
"I'm guessing the wind blowing them has something to do with the dandelion as flower of the military child."

So, ladies, you get to pick my next couple blog topics! Speak now or forever hold your peace. Also, asking that I not blog at all is definitely an option (pick that one! pick that one!--then I'll take the week off and do nothing but read novels!).

Here's to our dandelion military children! Too many exclamation points!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

What's New

One of the more challenging things about being a stay at home mom is knowing how to answer the question: what's new with you?

While others can tell about the interesting business trip they just went on or the new project they have at work or the promotion they just received or any number of interesting things about their coworkers, stay at home moms don't see a lot of big changes in their day to day.

When I'm asked that question, I respond awkwardly with, "Well, I'm still homeschooling..." and then trail off into whatever milestones the kids have trotted out lately, but that's not really answering the question. The question was about what was new with me. And a lot of times, there's not a good answer to that. My day-to-day can come across as incredibly mundane.

When school and the pillow pile collide.

This is the reality of stay-at-home-mom-dom. If one of the kids isn't doing something dramatic (which is kind of the goal: no broken bones, no tantrums, no inappropriate artistic experiments), life can sound sort of boring. We do chores, we play outside, we do school, we walk the dog, and the next day we do it all over again.

But here's the beauty: all that humdrum ordinary that can't give a good answer to "What's new with you?" leaves so much space to see the extraordinary. And when I say "a good answer", what I might mean more is "a typical answer".

Because this week, what was new with me was our first hummingbird sighting of the season. It was sharing a cup of coffee with one neighbor, some much needed vet advice from another neighbor, and a cherry "Good morning!" at the track to a third. It was accepting that I am an introvert whose preferred response to all social invitations is, "My schedule is clear but my inner introvert is not available for company" or "Yes, but only if you come with a book so I don't have to talk to you" or--my all time favorite--purposefully not checking the phone until dinner...but instead saying "Yes" to friend-vitations after all and having a great time being social.

What was new with me is I learned that cilantro can do something called "bolt", and I dutifully gardened like an adult. I read a lot of books. Wait. That's not new. I plowed through some more school work with the Little Man so that we can finish school next week. I started tapering on my running program to prep for next week's half marathon.

I notice these things only because I have the space to do so, and I have the space to do so only because I have what, on the surface, can come across as a more than usually commonplace job. I think this is a not-so-small blessing.

So, I want to know: what's new with you?

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

For the Mamas of Wee Little Babes

Sunday night I received a text from a friend asking for devotional suggestions for "mamas of wee little babes". Now,  normally I would've objected strongly to her use of the word "babes", but in this case, I felt that "wee" justified it. Although she would've been given extra credit points for the use of "bairns" in that context, but that's not the point of this story. The point of this story is that I realized that my response demanded much more space than a text message...and here we are now.

Let me start with a disclaimer or two. One, all these books have been written by human beings who are by nature faulty. Anything I include on this list must be checked against the Word of God. I know in at least two of the books I include on the list, there are ideas that are worded confusingly and could lead to fault theology if not held up and viewed through the lens of the Bible. 

Two, as a "mama of wee little babes", please give yourself some grace and accept that you are going to be tired in this season of life and time is going to be limited and that is as it should be. Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me," and by that he knew that you were no longer going to be able to have two hour quiet times when you could delve deeply into obscure commentaries on the minor prophets. That doesn't mean, "Write your quiet times off all together!" It just means to rearrange your expectations a little bit.

With that said, many of the books I am about to suggest are little snippet books. You can sit down, read for five minutes, get a succinct thought or a short verse to meditate on, and go change the next diaper. Some that I am thinking of:
  • Jesus Calling by Sarah Young. One page daily devotional with a couple Scripture verses at the bottom. Always thought provoking.
  • The Lord Bless You and Keep You: A Treasury of God's Promises compiled by Summerside Press. This book, in and of itself, is not the point. It's a compilation of short verses on various topics combined with quotes from famous Christians. I'm sure you can find plenty of other options of this type. I include this specific one because it was an incredible blessing to me during the first year of the twins' life when my "quiet time" was, more often than not, five minutes on the toilet reading this book. Seriously.
  • My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers. If you have a baby who doesn't sleep and your brain is fried, don't pick this option. If, however, said baby keeps you busy but the wheels of your brain seem to be turning with a minimal amount of effort, this is a great choice. Again, only one page long with Scripture references included and deep, deep thinking.
Sometimes though, you need a book from an older, wiser godly mom who will remind you that you are not alone in the trenches. You need someone to share the wisdom they have gleaned over the years now that they can put together complete sentences once again that don't include the words, "Johnny, the dog doesn't eat grapes" or "Clarabelle, smearing poo is not an art form." The following books are for those moments:
  • Treasuring Christ When Your Hands are Full by Gloria Furman. Perhaps one of the most theologically engaging books on parenting that I have ever read. 
  • Desperate by Sally Clarkson and Sarah Mae. A fantastic collaboration between an older mom and one who is still in our shoes (and Sarah Mae likes to use the word "babe" too, though sadly not "bairn"). 
  • Loving the Little Years by Rachel Jankovic. I read this while still pregnant with the twins (or shortly after they were born?). I don't remember because my brain was fried (italics necessary). But I do remember this one being perspective changing for me. Quick note: this is free on Kindle right now.
  • A Loving Live by Paul Miller. Okay, fine, this one's not written by a mom. And it has nothing to do--technically--with parenting. But I read it during our last move and the ensuing weeks of sleeplessness with Bruiser, and it was so encouraging to my heart and grace-giving that I had to include it.
One of the major blessings of having wee little babes who are up in the wee sma's (I'm sorry: the novel I'm reading right now is set in Scotland) is that if you are purposeful, you can see a dramatic increase in your prayer life. Admittedly, sometimes this is in the form of, "God, please, please, please, just let them go to sleep. Please. I just want to sleep. Please." But sometimes it's just the inevitable result of having very full hands...and not much to do with your mind. Take that brain space and use it to pray. Remember: first century Christians didn't have their own personal Bibles and Beth Moore studies. But they did have the Holy Spirit, and they did know how to pray. A couple of books that might help you with this:
  • Praying the Scriptures for Your Children by Jodie Berndt. This is self explanatory.
  • The Power of a Praying Wife and The Power of a Praying Parent by Stormie O'Martian. Again, self explanatory. Although, please read both of these selections (and the above Jodie Berndt selection) with discernment. I truly believe in the depth of sincerity both ladies possess and their desire to see real prayer affect real change--and agree with this--but we serve a God who sometimes has other plans and sees a bigger picture than we do. Just my two cents. My favorite part of both books is the additional verses to guide your own prayers.
  • A Praying Life by Paul Miller. Sorry about two Paul Miller books for the price of one, but...this is a really fabulous guide to prayer.
  • A Valley of Vision by Arthur Bennett. A collection of Puritan prayers that can really stretch your brain and your heart. Put this one on the shelf next to Oswald Chambers and only read after you've unclogged your brain with at least a full pot of coffee.
Last, your Bible is always an excellent devotional resource. You don't have to read five chapters a day. Sometimes all you have is five minutes for a Psalm. Sometimes you prep ahead by leaving memory verses on post it notes all over the house. Sometimes you pick a version that's a little easier on your brain dead self. My favorite is the Phillips translation. Though I wouldn't use it for a daily quiet time for very long (it's not the most accurate translation available), it is written with such frank, straight forward prose that it always encourages my heart.

Wait! One more! (I'm sorry! I know this is long!) If you don't have a copy of The Jesus Storybook Bible, please get one and read it with your children. On days when I wasn't able to squeeze in my own personal quiet time, reading Sally Lloyd-Jones' words always brought me into Christ's presence.

God loves that you want to spend time with Him. He understands that you're tired. He knows you haven't shaved your legs in five months. He gets that the dirty diapers and the dirty dishes and the dirty laundry are overflowing in your home. And He thinks what you are doing right now is wonderful. He gave you those children fully expecting that they would derail your time. Give Him what you have, and know that He gives grace, and that this is only a season...and it goes by so very quickly.

{I included Amazon links so that if you want more information on a book, it's only a click away. I don't normally do this and am not affiliated with Amazon in any way, but please do let me know if this is helpful for you.}

Monday, April 11, 2016


Somedays "adulting" comes more naturally than others. I try really hard to be a good adult, but I'll be honest: there are books, and they always kill my attempts. I've discovered lately, that a lot of the things I think are required for adulting are actually pretty trivial.

For example, "real adults can keep house plants alive." I'm working really hard on this one. Also, "real adults can make homemade tortillas." And since I've mastering this one, I'm a real adult now! "Real adults get up early." (Meh.) "Real adults exercise regularly." (Fine.) "Real adults make up their beds." (Sure, whatever.) "Real adults don't finish off the leftover Indian food without offering some to their husbands first." (Fail.)

Lavender makes me happy.

Some of these may be true. Some...perhaps are only personal goals that don't need to be applied to the larger spectrum of adulthood.

Today, however, I discovered a "real adult" goal that I thought I'd share with you: real adults ask questions when they don't know something.

And because I am a real adult (who diligently finished cleaning of the kitchen and now is diligently blogging before getting back into my book), here's my question for you (that incidentally ties in somewhat to my adult goal to keep plants alive): What is wrong with my cilantro and how do I fix it?

That's it on the far right. Help!
The leaves look weird (all spindly instead of nice and flat), and it doesn't smell right any more, and what did I do wrong to deserve this!?

Seriously though, the Man had to tell me to stop stroking the plants and whispering lovingly to them, "Grow, little baby, and don't die on me!"

Also, I'd greatly appreciate it if someone could instruct me on the finer points of when and how to dead head flowers. And don't even think about telling me to google it because I'm depending on you here!

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Not Just When the Bee Stings

It's been a fun day (there were naps!), and I would like to acknowledge that by sharing a few of my favorite things. And then I have big plans to eat a bowl of ice cream, take a hot bath, and read--because it's Thursday night (which means it's practically the weekend) and half the family is out at a baseball game.

So, a few of my favorite things:

  • The Sound of Music--duh. But not the part after "Sixteen Going on Seventeen" when Leisl says "Wheeeee!" because she looks terrifyingly witch-like.
  • The new name for the Suburban. Do you remember how much fun we had trying to come up with a name for the suburban after we got it? For quite a few weeks it was the Great White Beast, but that always felt a little long. Then a couple months ago, Bruiser started referring to it as "The Burban"--and it stuck. The Man and I enjoy our snide little jokes about wanting to go get in the Burban after a long day, and it never gets old! We also like the looks we get in public when Bruiser pleads desperately to go get in the Burban. Parents of the year, I tell you!
  • Mr Brown Can Moo by Dr Seuss--I know I write about children's books a lot--primarily because they are awesome--but this may be one of my all time favorites right now. Here's why: it's one of the only things in life that can get Bruiser to sit down and be quiet. I don't know what it is about Mr Brown, but when he whispers like a butterfly, miracles occur. Namely, the miracle of Bruiser using an inside voice.
  • My library! I checked email on my way out the door tonight to walk the dog with the twins and found that the library had 3 books on reserve for me. I rerouted our walk, tied the dog out front of the library, and ran in and grabbed said books, sans ID because I'm there so often the library people recognize me before I even get through the double doors. It made me happy. So for the record, my library is one of my favorite things, but also Trigger who waited patiently while I ran in, and the twins who were very congenial about the whole thing even though they had no choice since they were strapped into the stroller and I'm the adult.
  • Dividing and conquering: the Man took the boys tonight ,and I kept the twins. It was amazing. And I loved it. Twins sans big boys actually pick up their toys, cheerily. There is ten times less whining and hitting and screaming simply because there are half the children competing for my attention. I don't have to hold my temper with the big boys while I'm already holding it with the twins. Amazing, I tell you! The Man and I try to split up the kids fairly regularly so they get a little more one-on-one time, and every time we do: it. is. worth. it.
  • April is the Month of the Military Child, and military children are one of my favorite things. I have four of them, and I've known hundreds. These kids are, for the most part, resilient, well rounded, selfless, and generous with their hearts. A large portion of them fall into a group of kids referred to as Third Culture Kids, who are also near and dear to my heart.  The military kid's official flower is the dandelion. If you can tell me why, I'll let you pick my next blog topic. Seriously.
This bee didn't sting, but according to Bee, it was taking the pollen home for breakfast.

Sometimes we count favorite things "when the dog bites and the bee stings", and sometimes we count favorite things as an act of courageous celebration. These are a few of mine. Care to share a few of yours?

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Memoir Titles Etc.

Just some blurbs while I wait for the laundry to finish so I can get my running clothes out and go to bed:

  • Potential titles for my inevitable memoir: There Are Matchbox Cars in My Blender or Surviving the Great Lego Booby Trap or Why Would You Think That Was a Good Idea? Like all good memoir titles, these work on multiple levels.

  • My children are odd about animals. Today, Bee told me she wants a kitty cat in her hand, and Bruiser threatened to eat both our neighbor's dog and the non-existent hummingbirds we're trying to lure into our yard with a newly hung feeder.

  • Monday means all the drama. Tuesday means unusual breakfast choices. Wednesday means locking myself out of the house. Thursday? I'm hopeful for unexpected calm.
  • Littles informed me today that he thinks he's up for reading Moby Dick. Should I offer to buy him his own personal whale if he can get through it by the end of the summer?

  • Nap time always makes me think of the above clip from Emma. The important part is at the end where she says, "Oh, I love John! ...Oh, I hate John!" This is how I feel about naps with the twins (Oh, I love nap time! Oh, I hate nap time!). My expectations are so high...and so often inevitably crushed into oblivion. Why is it that on the days that kids are falling over with exhaustion, nap time never happens? Also, should one twin condescend to fall asleep, there is always a good chance that the other twin will try to clock the sleeping twin in the head with a sippy.
  • Tiny continued on with his second child ways--one must keep up with one's elder brother--by teaching himself how to ride a bike today (the Man had given him one lesson the day the training wheels came off). He is relentless in his pursuit of domination...even to stealing Little's school books and trying figure them out. I expect to come downstairs one day and find him with his nose in Moby Dick.

  • The twins have decided that Trigger needs full supervision during his meals and encouraging words along the way. This includes picking up the dog food to move it closer to Trigs while he is already eating it and shoving Trigger's face in his water bowl all while chanting robustly, "Trigs! Eat it! Eat, Trigs! Here's your water, Trigs! Eat it!"
  • My daughter dubbed me the Coffee Queen last week. I am holding onto that moment of awesomeness with both hands.

  • You would think that there would be some benefit from having a grapefruit sized cyst removed from your innards. Personally, I would have taken six pack abs as a perk. No such luck.
And there's my laundry all finished up. We're out!

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

American Fairy Tales...Ish

I read these two beautiful books last week and then spent an inordinate amount of time trying to track down an article I read months ago about the difference between European fairy tales (from the Brothers Grimm all the way to Harry Potter) and the fantasy literature that comes out of America. It was an utterly fascinating read, and I'm kicking myself for not saving it to share, especially in light of both of these books.

Let me start with the Ingrid Law book. Switch is the third in her series, following Savvy and Scumble. My middle sister, who has a thing for unusual super heroes (possibly because she is one), introduced me to this series, and I was thrilled to find the third installment at our library. The series centers around a family who, generation after generation, discovers unusual gifts on thirteenth birthdays. One child has the ability to disappear, one a connection with storms and water, one has the gift of being perfect. Some of the gifts are quirkier and more unexpected than others. I loved the emphasis on family, courage, and loving the gifts that you've been given. And they are very (very, very) American in their magic.

I lucked out and found Savvy at a used bookstore last week for $3 and bought it without a second thought. I am very much looking forward to reading this whole series to the kids in a couple more years.

Up next, Peace Like a River by Lief Enger is quite possibly being added to my favorite book list. I placed it with Switch because, even though it doesn't necessarily have magic of the usual kind, it does explore the supernatural. The story of a family whose eldest son shoots and kills two intruders sounds a bit morbid, but it was incredibly thought-provoking and discussable. I could've talked about this book for hours, but I resigned myself to sharing my favorite quote with the Man (and now with you): "Fair is whatever God wants to do." And this book has God doing and not doing quite a few things.

At any rate, if you are a fantasy buff wanting to explore non-European options, these are two good choices. And if neither of these look appealing, you may want to consider the magical realism genre embraced by a lot of Latin American authors. My personal favorites are Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Isabel Allende. 

Regardless, I'd love to hear your thoughts on how Old World fairy tales differ from those coming out of the Americas, and if you bring in African and Asian--or even Australian! fairy tales, I'll take those too. But if you try to cite Twilight as your source, I will permanently ban you from the blog. Just being honest and stating my opinion. Because honesty and over-opinionated-ness are very American qualities, and when in Rome...

Monday, April 4, 2016

Splinters = Lots of Pictures with a Side of Kipling

We're due for a family post about now, but I jammed a huge splinter up under my pointer fingernail today, and typing doesn't feel so nice, so I think I'm just going to do a few favorites, mostly from our weekend jaunt to the beach, and be done with this. I will also tell you, O My Best Beloved, that I've been reading The Just So Stories with the big boys and that's made me want to completely change my writing style--but that's another story for another day (just don't forget about the suspenders). In the meantime:

My basil has bloomed--someone tell me fast if this is a good thing or a bad thing.

Texas wildflowers make long runs much more enjoyable.
No, I did not take this picture while running.
I am not that skilled.

Sunrise over the Gulf of Mexico

This was more beautiful than donuts.
The Man picked a good hotel. And also, fine, good donuts.
Beach time fun!

We found so many butterfly shells,
and it brought my mind back to lessons learned in Gift from the Sea.
Great job, Anne Morrow Lindbergh.
Bruiser, in between demolishing Little's sand castles.

Bee, more than likely playing with her watering can,
which she refers to as her "tea party."

I blink, and he grows up.

This kid could live on the beach permanently.

Our lightning fast picture of the sand castle
before Godzilla (aka Bruiser) struck again.

In my attempt to avoid being cheesy, I'll just say:
I'm grateful for this Man.

And that's it for now.

We had a lovely time meeting up with old friends and being on the beach, and the kids are moping about being home with all of its routines (homeschooling! vacuuming! cooking actual meals!), but it was a perfect chance to regroup so that we can now slog on through April and the beginning of May until summer descends with all its 'scrutiating idleness.

Admit it: you knew I wasn't going to let you leave without a little bit more Kipling.