Thursday, October 30, 2008

October Sky

Last Saturday brought an afternoon from heaven for Brighton’s 5th birthday party. There was not one cloud in the sky and if the sun hadn’t been shining so, Brighton’s perpetual grin would have done the job just fine. He was joined at the park by 8 of his buddies who brought their Dads along just in case they needed some help putting together their Estes rocket. Little did we know, we had invited the rocket wizard, a.k.a. Brett Austin. All went without a hitch at the assembly table.

To my surprise and relief, Brighton requested a chocolate cake with chocolate icing. Since I didn’t have to attempt the caramel icing this year, I didn’t lose a wink of sleep nor did I have to stock up on ingredients to re-make 3 and 4 batches. The only thing I missed was the taste of it in my mouth! (Mom?!?)

(The stress free cake and the 5 year old reaction to the Birthday tune. Every year is different!)
As the theme from Star Wars filled the park, each little guy waited patiently, kind of, for his turn to launch his own rocket. The kids took turns counting down to “blast off” over the loud speaker which turned out to be a most coveted job. Sometimes the numbers were a little off but everyone at least knew “3-2-1- BLAST OFF!!” Once the button was pressed and the rockets were launched, they zoomed higher than I thought possible for eight bucks a piece. The boys recovered all of them after first learning to run with their necks craned upward towards a rapidly and randomly descending target. You would have thought someone had spiked their Capri Suns. Any onlooker that didn’t see the rockets would have been extremely concerned.

The girls he "allowed" at his "boy party". He was pretty happy about it.

How is it that when I downloaded these pictures the night of the party, I couldn't believe how "five" he looked??

Friday, October 24, 2008

A Letter to Brighton, 2008

My sweet boy,
What a job I have today writing your 5th birthday letter! When it comes to wrapping things up, your momma is pitiful. Writing a summary about ANYTHING is not one of my strengths. So, one day, if you ever decide to read this, grab a comfy chair and enjoy.

Up until the day we brought you home, I had never seen
your sister speechless. On October 27th, 2003, your chatty 21 month old sister couldn’t find the words to express her absolute delight in welcoming you into our family. Instead, she just hopped, danced and skipped about your basket beaming for a full 10 minutes—running to hug us and running back to invade every square inch, and then some, of your personal space. Once she found her tongue, she immediately wanted to hold you. It was time to sun your slightly jaundiced and barely 5 ½ pound baby body, so we walked out into a gorgeous October day and stripped you down while she settled into a sunny spot in the green grass. We placed a “blanket- wrapped you” into her uplifted chubby arms and she has been a favorite of yours ever since. Until you were three, she was "mommy" and I was "momma". You were an answer to many of her sweet prayers and ours.

Just the other day, it was your turn to give out the vitamins and as you tried to put your hand in the mouth of the jar I noticed how huge it looked. It was just one of MANY times throughout the year I noticed that my four year old was on his way to five. I am so not ready for you to be five. I don’t like it one bit.

What I do like is to watch you do your favorite things. You love to play any sort of ball. I have seen you shoot your little UT basketball towards a regulation height goal at least 30 times before you made it through the net. Nothing excites you more than to eat a “Brighton- approved" meal. Your “default” activity is to build, build, build whether it be with Lincoln Logs, Tinker Toys, Dominoes, blocks, books etc. You have a thing for all things “caution”-- “extruction” toys you call them, like road blocks, orange cones, stop signs and anything with that familiar red circle with the line through it. I am not positive but if I had to guess, your favorite thing to do is to play with Julia. You, my second child, never learned to play well by yourself. When I attempt to work on this neglected area of training, after about 20 minutes, I hear your door opening, your bare feet shuffling in the hall way and a few seconds later, your voice trailing down the stairs, “Momma? Can I play with Julia now?”

There are so many unique and special things about you and it makes me wonder which things will still be evident years from now. For now, you are the one who will run and jump off of the dock at the lake and then swim UNDER the dock to get to the ladder only to do it a dozen more times. However, you won’t play with a particular pirate toy in your room by yourself because “it is creepy”. You are the one who loves to share a meal with friends or family in our home. I think you get more excited about that than a play date with a friend. During my "mommy check", you are the one I always find sleeping wedged in the smallest place possible. You are the one who plays Pick Up Sticks with the precision of a brain surgeon. You are the one who still comes to find me in my room when you make the trip downstairs. You always greet me with one of your 1000 watt smiles and a sweet hug. You are the one I find on the stairs with your blanket in the early morning hours. When I ask you what you are doing, you always answer, “I just wanted to know where you were.” You are the one who seeks out my friends in a crowd to speak to them and quite often to give them a hug around their legs. You are the one who will pray whenever asked. Each sentence brings delight to God’s heart, as they do mine, even though they can be quite egocentric. Your prayers remind me of blog entries as you tell God all about your day, what you liked, what you didn’t, and what you hope is different tomorrow (including the food).

Maybe your most noticeable skill is that you have never met a silence you cannot fill. Sweet B, you can talk. Seriously. You fill our rooms, our car, our meal times with non-stop verbage. It really is quite amazing. You talk to Julia through the bedroom walls all hours of the day and night. You even have "fillers" for those times you can't remember what you were going to say. Among your favorites are, "Where are we going in the morning?", "I love you.", and "What are we having for dinner (or breakfast or lunch)?". Your constant need for (my) water makes sense when I think of how many words you can speak in sixty seconds.

Since you have had plenty of practice, you are a pro at expressing the way you feel and communicating your ideas and thoughts. Here are a few of your declarations (and three critical questions):
On certain food: “My tummy is tired of this food.”
On spoiled cottage cheese: “This cottage cheese is dead.”
On using the Target bathroom: From the stall-- “That was my pee pee. Brighton Sanders.” (Marking his territory????)

On hydration needs: “Pizza and chocolate bars make you thirsty. Oranges don’t.”
On getting a spanking: Through tears and a contorted face, “Can we pray about it?”, or “Will you give me grace?”, and always, “How many?”
On Krispy Kreme doughnuts: “This bagel is awesome!”
On someone suggesting a military cut for his hair: “My Momma would NOT be happy about THAT!!” On sleeping (or not?): “I was very tired but I couldn’t keep my eyes closed.”
On future occupations: “A bull fighter or an airplane driver. Either one.”
On playing house: “We are playing wife and honey.”
On having the fidgets: “My brain is not working on this devotional.”

Well, son, if you are still reading, I am proud of you. One, it means I was actually able to teach you to read and two, maybe you really do wind up liking it. Five years have been a blink but YOU have been an eternal joy. I absolutely love being your “momma”. I love knowing the little place on your cheek that doesn’t tan. I love that you talk a lot. I love that you love company. I love that you steal my heart almost every day. I love the way you run. I love knowing the birthmark on your back is shaped like a sea creature. I love that when you get married you want to live in “Evonne’s room” (upstairs at our house). I love that you draw ten pictures a day for me (of a football field). I love that when you pray, you NEVER forget to thank God for “my Dad, my Momma and my sister”. And so, sweet Brighton, I thank God for you. I love you more than you'll ever know. Happy Birthday!

(Last night before you went upstairs to be tucked in by your Daddy, I said, "Come here, so I can hug and kiss my four year old one last time." Once in my arms you asked, "Will you still hug and kiss your five year old?")

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Soccer for Two

Until about a month ago, I had never owned a soccer ball. I thought bowling balls were the only sports balls that had "sizes". I had never laid eyes on soccer shin guards, either. Catcher shin guards, yes. Soccer, no. I even had a short stint wearing catcher shin guards in high school until my coach found out I could stretch a mile to catch a bad throw to first base. (This skill developed early by being willfully determined to catch EVERY “bet you can’t catch this” throw my brother would whirl at me.) I had no idea shin guards were part of a soccer uniform and that EACH player had to wear them. Growing up in my Southern small town, we were all about baseball and football. "Pee Wee" they called it. As a business owner, you might as well have closed your doors for good if you didn’t sponsor a team. This meant paying for the kids’ uniforms which would have your businesses’ name splattered across the front making sure everyone knew you had done your part and that it was okay to keep trading with you. Soccer was for the “city folk” --anyone who lived north of us. It just wasn’t on our radar. When I moved to Fort Worth and made my way to Benbrook one Saturday morning, I found out more kids played soccer than were in my entire elementary school! Fifteen years later, we purchased our first soccer balls (one pink, one blue) and shin guards.

So, here they are playing for the Timbers and the Expos in Upward Soccer sponsored by our church, Alliance Community Fellowship. Since Jeff coached B's T-ball team, he opted to coach Julia's soccer team which significantly boosted her confidence playing her first organized sport. Brighton is as focused and determined as he was in T-ball. The pictures say it all. Every expression I have captured screams "intensity". He is completely offended if you yell to remind him which goal is his and will fight to the death to get a chance at the ball. Julia? Well, she looks adorable in her knee socks.

One more thing-- there is something very wrong, bordering on scandalous, about a soccer game at 8 am on Saturday morning. I haven’t found grounds for protesting it yet, but I will not give up looking.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Texas State Fair 2008

Big Tex's new shirt didn't go unnoticed by Julia and Brighton.
They look real, don't they?
Her choice for her ride.
B was quite relieved when he didn't measure up for the swings.
Instead, he chose the caterpillar coaster.........again.
Second generation pumpkin carver

The kid's favorite thing that day was the Backyard Circus.
Very simple. Very creative.

I don't think we will ever get to "the bench" at a time when our faces won't be spotted with the sun. Their bench. Our "altar".
The best way back to the car.
He didn't want to leave, but his "legs [were] tired of walking".

Monday, October 13, 2008

A Futile Brick

As my girl grows up, I, like every other mother on the planet, continue to be amazed by how fast it happens. It is sort of like the wrinkles that started after I turned 30. I had no idea the speed at which they would appear…… exponentially. That seems to be the way she is maturing. When I think of Julia as a first grader, it still sounds young, but when I TALK to my first grader, I am stunned by all she understands and comprehends. When she is focused and thinking, I can be somewhat satisfied in my conversations with her. I enjoy her so. However, as it should be, I hear the words of a girl who has only been on this planet for 6 short years (That would be “6 and a HALF”, if she could correct me. It is much different than “plain 6” as she calls it.). It might be in a funny word, a misunderstanding, or just a clueless statement. Realizing her season of saying these kinds of things is almost over, I decided to record a few that I have heard over the last few months.

Jeff and the kids gave me a small yummy bakery cake for my birthday which taunted all of us every second it adorned our kitchen counter. When finally saying “yes” to one of her many requests for a piece, she began dancing around the kitchen singing, “I love cake best of all! I love cake best of all!” Then all of a sudden, she stopped, locked her brown eyes on me and said, “No. Mom! (pause) No. GOD!!” Well, I was thankful she got that all straightened out.

After getting into trouble, I asked her, “What were you thinking, honey? Did you really think it was a good idea?” Promptly and honestly she admitted, “I didn’t think, Momma. I just started doing it.” I loved her bluntness and could completely relate to her answer.

One late afternoon at the TCU pool, Julia was finishing off a peach while “people watching” which consisted of mainly students at the time. She asked why all the people had earplugs stuffed into their ears. I explained to her that they were listening to music which didn’t really compute with her since there was already music playing, so that led to preferences, privacy—you know, WAY more than necessary, but typical and tiresome when talking to any child under 10. It must have been a good day for me because I went on to explain that it also drowned out all the talking and yelling. Now, that stopped the inquisition. She thought about that for a second then rolled her eyes and said, “Well, when they get kids, that thing will have to go!” Just one reason you will never see me with my Ipod at the pool.

While reviewing the days of creation during our Bible study one morning, I asked her, “What did God create on day 3?”
“He made the land and the vegetarians.”

Both the kids are forever bringing their “art” to me. Children bring a WHOLE new meaning to “art is subjective”. The other day she proudly handed me a fantastic picture of a yellow bird. I could plainly see the beak, the body and the wings. So like any good momma would, I said, “Great bird, Julia. Love it.” She grabbed it back and held it up in front of her face and said, “It’s not a bird. It is a banana with a tail!” Okay. My bad.

When we leave the kids with a babysitter, we have always had the children tell us who the boss is before we leave. When they couldn’t speak, they would just point to the babysitter. Julia’s probably getting a little old for it but we still ask because of Brighton-- absolutely necessary. The other night when I began, she interrupted me with her hand up and said, “I know. I know. She’s sovereign.” I think that settled it.

After church one day, she asked, “Momma, who are 'Jonah’s brothers'?” This one took me a second as I skimmed through the book of Jonah in my brain. Instead, think young, cute and musical.

A few weeks ago, one of our spelling words was “hair” and the sentence that followed was, “Don’t let your Mom brush your hair if she is mad at your Dad.” She had heard the sentence a few times before but this time before she wrote her word, she smiled and said, “Good thing YOU are never mad at Daddy.” I'll leave that one alone.

I love that she is still clueless sometimes, but far more often, I see a perception that makes me want to stand a little straighter. Her growing up is normal, I know, but that doesn’t make it any easier. At least once a month, Jeff tells her, as his Mom used to tell him, “I am going to put a brick on your head.” We had dinner with a couple last week that have two in college and two in high school. It brought me great comfort to hear the Dad say he has loved every stage of his kids and that each stage seemed more enjoyable than the one before. He talked about how when they are older, they still have all the same traits you adored about them when they were younger. Now, they are just more mature. See, I can't imagine not longing for the days they said words with funny phonics or made statements that made people other than grandparents laugh. Last weekend, our friends traveled to Vanderbilt to visit their 18 year old boy and one thing he had planned was a trip to the Science museum which is much like ours here—somewhat child-oriented. Don’t you love that?

As much as I am tempted to try to balance the brick on Julia's head, at the same time, I can’t wait to “know” her at 18. Who KNOWS what she would plan for all of us to do?? However, in the meantime, I will be content with being her audience for all kinds of "shows", listening to her "Julia-isms", and loving the next twelve years one day at a time.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

1000 Miles

One thousand miles is a long way. No doubt. Try driving it two and sometimes three times a year. It might be a long way, but most of the time, I really don’t mind. The kids have been doing it turned around backwards in the infant carrier from the get go. Both of our families are in Georgia so that trek across I-20 is of the utmost importance. We have our favorite exits memorized— the ones with Starbucks, clean bathrooms and Dairy Queens. (What is a road trip without a blizzard?)
Because we live in Texas, we know we have missed a LOT—birthdays, family dinners, holidays, strange dead animals in the backs of pick ups, parties, churns of homemade ice cream, homecomings, fish frys, weddings, graduations, every kind of sports games from baseball to lacrosse and just fun family stuff. After 16 years, I have gotten used to it. Sadness creeps in from time to time, but we also know this is where God wants us and where He’s called us. We couldn’t love it more………..until a week like last one. The one thousand miles FELT like the other side of the world. Most of you know, my Mom had surgery and received some surprising news. To sum all of that up, she will begin six months of chemotherapy the first of November and we truly believe that will be the end of it. My Mom’s genuine “Pollyanna” attitude has been refreshing, not to mention an inspiration and example to me. She continues to prove to be the amazing woman I have always thought she was. When major things happen like they have over the last 2 weeks, each one of the one thousand miles stink. The main reason I did not go was that I was told not to come, but if the thousand miles had been more like three hundred or even five hundred, I would not have been so inclined to obey my mom’s preferences.
Since children came along, I have prayed that God would somehow bond the children with their grandparents even with the 14 hour journey between them. I trust He is doing His work but last week, I was able to see a bit of evidence. The night before Mom’s surgery I told the children a 6 year old version of what was going on with their Nanna and what the doctor would do. They listened with wide eyes and furrowed brows. I guess my story simmered after bedtime because they had more questions when I awakened them the next morning. When it was time to pray before breakfast, my most eager “pray-er” wildly wiggled his hand over his indescribable bed head. Without waiting to be picked, he just bowed his head and prayed:

“Dear God, Keep Nanna safe. Let them be careful when they cut her tummy open. (getting her confused with a friend who had just had a C-section) Don't let them cut her all the way open. Let them be careful when they get that piece of her body out of there. I pray for momma’s……… for Krista’s………… for momma’s nanna, no Momma’s Momma. I love Mommy, Daddy, Nanna, Papaw, God and Jesus and the breakfast Mommy made. In Jesus' Name. Amen.” (Touched that we were all on the same level as the waffles and bananas.)

Without reminding him about Nanna, here is his bedtime prayer:
“God, please be careful with Nanna and make her all better. I love Nanna, Papaw, Momma, Daddy, Julia and myself. Amen.”

Again, with no mention of Nanna, his breakfast prayer the morning after the surgery:
“Keep Nanna safe. I love Nanna and Papaw, Meema and Doodle and all of my cousins who don’t know who we are anymore because we haven’t seen them in a long time, and I love my Momma and Daddy and my sister. (And with a tone bordering on disrespect….) And God, thank you for getting that bad stuff out of Nanna and don’t let it EVER come back AGAIN!!

Is God answering my prayer? I’ll take that as a “yes”. Thank You.