Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Pitter Pat


What is it about certain words spoken in certain situations, like in a movie, or particular words put to a can’t- get-out-of-your-head melody that never seem to be erased from our usually fallible memory? What about them makes us place our hand over our heart and sigh or even reach for a tissue because of the growing lump in our throat? I am not what you consider an emotional person--- you know, someone who cries over a sappy commercial, but string some sweet affirming words together knotted on both ends with vows of preferring one person over anyone else forever………..well, pitter pat, sigh, dab with the tissue, you got me. These are some lines that come to mind:


Tom Hanks in Sleepless in Seattle,
"It was a million tiny little things that, when you added them all up, they meant we were supposed to be together... and I knew it. I knew it the very first time I touched her. It was like coming home... only to no home I'd ever known... I was just taking her hand to help her out of a car and I knew. It was like... magic.”

Or the song Steven Curtis Chapman wrote about the day his wife was born,
“11-6-64 the sun shone a whole lot brighter Than ever it had before, smiling down on me At 1:09 pm both hands of time stop turning And you came waltzing in, to change my world for good.”

Or the five words from Emma Thompson to Hugh Grant in Sense and Sensibility that gave way to the lump in her throat,
“Then you are not married?”

Or Tom Hanks to Meg Ryan in You’ve Got Mail,
"...and you and I had, just you know, met... Yeah. I would have asked for your phone number and I wouldn't have been able to wait 24 hours before calling and asking, "How about coffee, drinks, dinner, a movie, for as long as we both shall live?"

And lastly, Mr. Darcy to Miss Bennett in Pride and Prejudice,
“If your feelings are still what they were last April, tell me so at once. My affections and wishes have not changed, but one word from you will silence me forever. If, however, your feelings have changed, I will have to tell you: you have bewitched me, body and soul, and I love, I love, I love you. I never wish to be parted from you from this day on.”

Well, I’ve got a new one for you, but you won’t see it on anybody’s favorite movie line list. This one rolled off the innocent tongue of a six year old boy. A few weeks ago, some dear friends, Chris and Sarah, and 3 out of their 4 adorable boys came through town. (above) Last fall, much to our dismay, they moved from our nice and toasty town to the cooler climate of Minnesota. On their way to the airport they stopped by our home so our kids could see each other. The kids all grinned at each other, ran off and played together as if 9 months were 9 days. We really didn’t see nor hear from any of them until Chris and Sarah called them to load up the car. After everyone found shoes, gave clumsy hugs and got buckled into the car, Julia jumped in for one last goodbye and this is what Chris, the dad, heard from his son, Graham,

“Hey Julia, when I grow up and you grow up, will you be somewhere I can find you?”

Pitter pat.

Not so long ago.......

Saturday, June 14, 2008

One Year In


I posted my first entry the morning I started Kindergarten at home with Julia. I was a tad scared, a little anxious and very excited. Now, Kindergarten is completed and all three emotions were validated however, highly underestimated. Being the calculated person I am, I would NEVER branch out to try something new if it weren’t for Christ. How thankful I am He shows me only one page at a time. He is forever faithful to get me to “The End” without scaring me to death with all the chapters in between. If I had read all the “in between”, I might not have been able to commit to reading the intimidating “school at home” book. Never in a gazillion years would I have thought to myself, “Yippee!!! I get to humble myself dozens of times and ask my kindergartener for forgiveness,” or “I can’t wait to see the most stubborn side of my cute daughter and in return, show mine to her! That sounds fun!” or “I am pumped about finding out that my kids can’t occupy themselves while I work on something with their sibling! Woohoo!” or “I think I will like the foggy, fried brain feeling as I drive to Walgreens on Wednesdays to fill life altering prescriptions,” or “I can handle a few more layers of dust on my furniture and not always have lemony fresh bathrooms.” or, my least favorite, “I am excited about Julia seeing all the worst sides of her mother……..more than once.” Early in the fall, a dear friend passed on some wisdom a home schooling Mom had shared with her and it was basically that doing school at home added another venue for God’s necessary work of sanctification. Ooo boy, did I find that out to be true, like the first week. But, what a sweet girl I’ve got. Somehow, she still loves me “to the moon and back”, I am still her “favorite little momma” and she can’t wait for us to start the first grade, after a nice long break, of course. Talk about grace. It’s her middle name….really.


I am grateful to be a part of a group of ladies who were proactive in planning fun activities/field trips for our kids. If it had been up to me, our year would have been a monotonous cycle of the 3 R’s and a few trips to Starbucks. Since I have such creative "on the ball" friends, we visited an apple orchard, the Fort Worth Nature Center, and River Legacy Living Science Center. Julia attended a couple of art classes at the Amon Carter Museum (one on Georgia O’Keefe and the other on sculptures in the museum district). We experienced Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham with the Fort Worth Symphony, the Butterfly exhibit at the Botanical Gardens, Charlotte’s Web at Casa Manana, Mr. Slim Goodbody at Will Rogers Coliseum, and The House at Pooh Corner, performed with the antique marionettes, at the Dallas Children’s Theatre. (By the way, since then, I have a whole new respect for A. Milne’s children’s literature.) We also did some Strawberry picking at Gnismer Farms in Arlington. Each activity was worth the interruption of my almighty schedule and I would do them all again.


This will be no surprise to any of you, but my favorite thing about the year was hanging out with Julia. Obviously, we had our less than desirable moments, but mostly, I found her to be a quick learner, a hard worker, a book lover and just downright nice. I was touched by her thoughtfulness several times whether it be bringing my water to me as we moved around the house for different activities, positioning the chair just so for me to prop my feet up while we read, encouraging me with words I didn’t deserve or showing concern for our new Starbucks friend who was sad.

The thing I felt we did best was learn how to pick out really great books and read as many of them as possible without neglecting the other 2 “R’s” entirely. Just like me, she loves a good story so reading time was always difficult to end. We had a couple of favorite spots—one, on the pillow clad window seat in the kitchen and the other, in a big comfy chair at Barnes and Nobles. Everyone’s vocabulary is influenced by the books they read and Julia is no exception. I remember a couple of years ago when I asked her where Brighton was, she looked at me with hands up in the air, “I don’t know. He just scampered off somewhere.” Peter Rabbit, I am sure. Here are a few of my favorite quotes from this year: Walking into Science Etc., “The wind is really whipping at my face today”, as I am pouring milk over Clifford Crunch, “I want you to bathe my cereal in milk”, as we were headed into Barnes and Nobles, “Let’s walk through Starbucks so we can smell the fragrant aroma of the coffee”, and while eating breakfast, “I watched the lightening pierce the sky last night from my window seat,” and just last week in the pool, “Brighton, stop constricting my straps!”

One year in, more than ever, I see my time with her much bigger than building a descriptive vocabulary, or spouting off math facts, or recognizing art or music, or reading great books. I feel He called me to this for the relationship- with Him and her- and I am seeing that is exactly what it is all about, every second, every day. There were times I lost sight of this, but He didn’t let me for long whether that was through Jeff, His Spirit, a friend or even Julia. The thing I am most thankful for is that I feel we snapped together some scattered puzzle pieces that I had no idea were not in place for our girl- some of them being critical corner pieces. Since my default mode way of living is task oriented, I have to wonder, would I have even noticed had I not said yes to this time? Every humbling moment, every stubborn side revealed, every new layer of dust, every foggy brain day--- all worth what I feel like the last nine months did for our relationship. I am in for next year with wholehearted excitement.

And Nik, can you teach a class on writing short posts?

Now officially a 1st grader with same braids and different teeth!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

American Girls


To celebrate the end of Kinder - garten and the accomplish - ment of some independent work I challenged Julia to do, I took her to Dallas to the American Girl Boutique and Bistro (a.k.a. “The American Girl Store of Let Us Overcharge You for Everything Because We Can”). We tagged along with two other moms who were rewarding their daughters for the same kind of thing. Wanting to give Julia a little extra incentive, I told her for each work/activity she did beyond what was required, I would give her a dollar to spend. Once the abstract concept became crispy dollar bills in her piggy bank, she earned exactly 41 bucks. By the time our little day trip came around, the money was burning a hole in her little pink purse. Julia took her American Girl doll, Samantha, with her nappy hair (or “well-loved” depending on one’s perspective). She had high hopes that they could revive her brunette locks, returning them to their previous silky just out-of-the-box texture. (They forgot “Beauty Shop” in the naming of this place.)

We walked in and immediately all of our little girl’s expectations were met AND exceeded. The spacious show room was beautifully lit and covered with a rainbow of red- every shade imaginable, from deep maroon right down to the palest pink. All the dolls and every outrageous, darling accessory were wonderfully showcased from Native American dolls to modern day. There were cute friendly sales girls anxiously awaiting to show the girls around.
In the beauty shop, there were miniature pink salon chairs and pictures of different doll hairstyles from which to choose. We left nappy- headed Samantha with Endia and began our $41 shopping spree-except we only had $31 at this point. (The hairstyle was $10.) After pricing the first thing she wanted to take home, she was wishing she had done more work instead of eating, playing and sleeping. Thirty one dollars wasn’t going to go very far.
By the end of our shopping (and if Mr. Webster ever shops with Julia, he will have to re-write the definition), I found myself thinking $22 was a bargain for a pair of miniature silky Asian inspired pj’s. I mean, this outfit even came with slippers! A steal, indeed! What?! I needed to get out of there. One thing I have learned about Julia this year is that making decisions doesn’t come easy for her, so after looking at EVERY little overpriced thing, she narrowed it down to four things which totaled well over $100. She had to make her choices. I did my darndest to keep my mouth shut, and let me tell you, it was hard. Excruciating, actually. Get ready for this-- the nauseating part. She wound up choosing a pair of slippers for $8 and a lunchbox that came with four pieces of rubber food for $20. Oh, and how could I forget the little 3”x 3” handkerchief? Her total at the register was $41.14- hairstyle and all. In true Julia-style, she had an opportunity and made sure she experienced it fully and then some.

Lunch in the upstairs bistro was as prissy as it sounds--very “bistro-ish” and tailored-made for Moms, daughters and the dolls. They provided chairs that hooked to the table so the dolls could sit and stare at their own miniature menus. The food choices were the perfect mix for two different generations and I was impressed with their grown-up presentation and tasty entrees.

Even though I was disappointed there was no clearance rack at the American Girl Store, the day was exactly what I had hoped it would be- a reward that communicated I was proud of her. That was enough but I was surprised by how happy I was when we picked up Samantha from the beautician. She really did look great. Her hair no longer looked like steel wool and Julia beamed as if she had a brand spanking new doll. Julia accomplished something else on this trip. She already has her birthday and Christmas list ready..........for the next 5 years, according to budget. Needless to say, she is anxious for the next visit to this cute girly store and ready to work for a much fatter piggy bank.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Evidence


If the air seemed a little sweeter and the sun a little brighter a couple of Saturdays ago, it was because Mrs. Summey, my college mentor was in town. She arrived with love to give to our family and a heart full of gratitude to her faithful Savior who has been to her what she always thought He would be if she ever found herself in a situation like breast cancer. She is on the other side of cancer, for now, and ever willing to share how great her God is. I am including a part of one of her succinct email updates- the conciseness reminding me of phone conversations with her.

“It is my blessing at this stage of life to live in the southern Appalachians. There are few days that I do not take comfort from my environment and often I take refuge in the cleft of the Rocks. These mountains often remind me of the awesome power and beauty of the world in which I live. Just such a reminder came yesterday.

My days are much better now and each day I have less pain and more relief. Still it is no secret to you whom I've shared with all these months that these past 6 months have been a hard, hard place. There have been many days that have been strung together where I found no soft place to rest -- it seemed like the immense, seemingly insurmountable boulders were pressed so closely together that I could find no light or sustenance between them.

But yesterday I as drove through these curvy roads, up against those insurmountable boulders, there it was. There, as a result of significant rains Tuesday of this week, from the crevices of these boulders, flowed a trickle of water. I got out of the car to look and see if I could find the crack -- if I could find the source of the water (and we need rain SO badly this drought stricken year) and I could not find its source . But the water flow was undeniable.
There it was -- hope and life, in the midst of hardness -- the source was simply “the evidence of things not seen".

As she and her family walked through my front door that Saturday, I was overjoyed. I found myself just wanting to sit as close to her as possible-- like that would help me to soak up all the encouraging words she effortlessly places into all conversations. I loved seeing her enjoy my children being sure to affirm any edifying thing she observed in them. Her words have always spoken to tender places within me but there is something different when your kids are added to the mix.

Her relationship with Christ is unique and certainly, a beautiful thing to peek in on. Her deep satisfied roots embedded in an intentionally laid foundation served her well during a very dark time. She has experienced the “evidence of things not seen” in a different way than most of us. To have her example of living in Christ on a regular day is a true treasure. What a testimony that in an "insurmountable" situation where faith is stretched seemingly to a snapping point, she found Christ faithful, as He did her.


Sunday, June 1, 2008

T-Ball and Tu Tu's



Yesterday, we tapped both sides of the “genderometer”…….HARD. Over here, we’ve got sugar and spice AND puppy dog tails. Yesterday we experienced them all. We had a fun day starting with bats, balls and lots of red dirt and ending with tutus, tights and just the right amount of sparkle.
We rolled out of bed for a sunrise T-ball game (not exactly- just seemed that way) and a dance recital after lunch. Brighton wore black shoes with pokey bottoms and Julia’s were soft and pink. We didn’t even comb B’s hair before we left the house and later, I spent 30 minutes straightening Julia’s so it could be ballerina bun slick.
My favorite exchanges of the day were when Brighton told me that he heard Julia tell someone his games were boring and that “hurt my ‘fellings’ ”. After I talked with Julia, she did a good job of watching, so good that I was afraid she might be hurting her friends "fellings" who were at the game and wanting to play. After the game was over and snacks had been consumed, we started our trek to the car. In her most encouraging voice, Julia said, “Brighton, you did great! I watched you!” B kept walking, looked up out from under his Blue Jay hat and said, “Were you bored?” Thankfully, she didn’t answer but there was definitely a new little bounce in his step as he made his way to the car, ball bag and all.

The recital was a treat, as it was for any parent when their child was on stage. You sit there thinking your child is the cutest and maybe even the best. (If you don’t, you are either not normal or………..not normal.) Do you even SEE anyone else’s child? And then you wonder “this routine looks a lot like the one she did last year” (and the year before that and..) and “so...this is what seven months of practice looks like? Okay.” and “should I have bought an ad in the program for her?” and “why was her routine so short and the other’s so long?”.
Brighton’s two big questions of the 1 ½ hours were, “Where’s Julia?” and “When is it going to be over?” I have to love his honesty because truly, those were my two unspoken questions. Not unspoken anymore, I guess.

And if you think this post is a little on the sweet side...............