Tuesday, May 31, 2011


Every night they are lined up just like this.  They have a perfect bedside manner-- ever watching, ever patient, ever soft, ever squishy, and most importantly, ever present.  Some of these guys may get moved around from time to time or a newcomer may take a prominent spot but for the most part, they always look like this.

And rabbit has his back...

It’s company, security- whatever you want to call it.  My boy likes small spaces, like the space between his mattress and his wall, like the inside of the booth with Jeff or me on the other side, like in the bleachers between people- never on the end. He just likes company.  At all times. I think if it were socially acceptable, he’d ask the whole dugout if they’d like to go to the bathroom with him.  He’d rather play ANYthing with Julia in her room than crash Hot Wheels or build stadiums out of Legos in his room if it means he will be by himself.  His need to be with people trumps all other possibilities.  

Every morning, when I awaken him, this menagerie of furry friends sits quietly and reminds me of his desire for companionship and for security.  Always, he wakes up grinning, happy to see a real live face hovering over him, reaching up to pull me down for a hug.  When he awakens himself, he always comes downstairs, with a critter or two in hand, in search of someone to be with, to talk with. If he sleeps late on a Saturday, which happens as often as all socks being matched after laundry, strange quietness permeates the house and allows a lazy morning.  But soon, you hear him up, searching for a live body.

I’ve always said his constant need for companionship stems from the fact that I never enforced “pack-n-play time” {aka learn-to-entertain-yourself-time} with him.  He walked late-- really late-- and I wanted to be sure that I never hindered his attempt to take some steps.  Since he never mastered playing by himself in the pack-n-play, he never really got “room time” either so when his last nap was dropped several years ago, mine and Julia’s quiet afternoons have never been the same.

Over the years, bedtime has typically been the most interesting part of the day.  He’s chief when it comes to finding SOME reason to come out of his room after being securely tucked-- CD skipping, fan too loud, covers too stiff, ear hurting, Julia’s CD too loud, needing to draw something, hearing something in closet, squirrel in tree by window, too hot, too cold, too dark, too tired, too awake, too wiggly, too excited...... and I can’t even remember the most ridiculous ones.

After a few years of blaming myself for poorly training my second child, I realized it was SO not about me-- like I like to think everything is.  God made him that way and I am to embrace that about him.  The tricky thing with a seven year old is that he needs companionship along with training to respect other people’s boundaries.  Have fun with that, right?  I believe it’s what a friend of mine calls a “wisdom and life skill”.  It’s worth the effort in training.  It’s something he needs to understand about people and about himself.  Even though he may not need the time apart from people, his sister does, his friends could, and one day, his wife might.  It’s a boundary, that, if learned, will serve him well his whole life.

My prayer, of course, is that as his relationship with Jesus deepens, all of his confidence would be found in Him.  I want Brighton to find Christ as the perfect Refuge, the solid Rock, the All Present Friend in every moment of life.

So, for now, as this wisdom is being nurtured and developed, in come all these little animals-- to sit and stare and provide some company, some security until B figures out he has it ALL in the sufficiency of Christ.
442.  Mary Catherine who took such good care of Julia and Brighton on Wednesdays this school year

442.  lake anticipation

443. Jeff’s admitted weakness when it comes to Julia

444. respites from itching

445. a couple of days to play

446. lily white bodies’ first swim

447. boy’s heart quicker to soften than before

448.  again--Calamine and Prednisone

449.  lazy rivers and water slides

450.  Brighton’s TRUE enthusiasm about summer reading programs~ ha!  Who knew?

451. Julia’s room, one trash bag lighter

452.  sitting through “church” service

453.  long, lazy conversations and homemade ice cream~ caramel

454.  B’s sweet nothings

455.  their heartfelt questions about their stories

456.  summer

457.  and stuffed animals

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Getting My Grin Back

This morning, with water, Zone Bar and computer in hand, I found my “little room”  upstairs awry.  The kids had listened to The Mouse and His Motorcycle in ~ a little space off our guest room that we don’t really know what to call~ yesterday afternoon.  Curtains were askew. Books and shoes were scattered on the tiny bit of floor space left between bookshelves and a comfy chair. My index cards had been spilled.  And I couldn’t find my regular devotional books.  Anywhere.  It was not the ideal way to begin a quiet morning of Bible reading.  I was so distracted {irritated} I couldn’t read.

And the morning went on.....

With a Veggies Tales tooth brush and a hodge podge of chemicals, I labored over Julia’s bedspread and crib quilt that had 2 silver dollar sized ink stains on them.  In any normal household those might be from some faulty ball point pen, but that just won’t do over here.  We are talking bonafide Civil War ink.  Think onyx.  Abyss black.  As she was crying last night she said, “I can’t even turn off my lights to go to sleep because all I see is big black blotches of ink in the darkness!”   I have the stain to a faded state but I think the memory will linger on her baby quilt.

Next, I covered my boy with Calamine lotion.  He has poison SOMETHING all over him.  All.  Over.  Him.  Yep, there too.  It starts at his hairline on his forehead and the last patch is midway down his calf.  After taking several pills just fine yesterday, this morning his prednisone, somehow, kept showing back up.  Not simply, mind you, but with chokes and gags, tears, spews of water, much spitting in the sink, crying and more drama than is acceptable for a boy.

After a few mouthy tussles between the two of them, I gave them a little math to do and a couple of jobs to complete and told them not to speak to each other.  I had reached my limit of refereeing for the morning.  {I refuse to settle arguments over pencils.}  I needed to get ready so I could attend a luncheon for Tarrant NET with Jeff.

And 45 minutes later, I was sitting at a table adorned with white plates and silverware in their proper places on a crisp white tablecloth....

I saw friends I hadn’t seen in a long while-- a few of whom have been with Tarrant NET from the beginning.  I got to hear about grandchildren, weddings, aging parents, graduations, and family vacations.  When a kind man seated across from me started talking about how awesome Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech was earlier that day, I thought, I need to get out more.

Over the next 45 minutes, a friendly man named, Benny, brought me a salad, a basket of hot rolls, a plate of hot food and when he saw that I was thoroughly finished, he delivered pecan pie and a cup of really hot coffee.  Sigh.  I couldn’t help to think of what I would have had at home.  I can’t even bring myself to type it.  And the best part--I loved hearing my husband talk about what he does and all the why’s behind it-- and that truly boils down to his burden to mobilize the Church (notice the big “C”) to reach the lost of Tarrant County.

My heart felt lighter.  I began to relax.  No one had argued around me.  No one whined.  No one had asked me what they could eat. No one had asked me to scratch them.  No one interrupted me.  No one followed me when I excused myself to go to the rest room- neither did they knock on the door.  I enjoyed my one hour and fifteen minutes.

When Jeff prayed to dismiss us, I looked down at my hands and thought they looked awfully strange.  I focused my 40 year old eyes a second time and I could see in my cuticles and on my nails, traces of black ink and the chalky residue of Calamine.  I grinned as I thought how important those two things were to two little people at home- Momma’s scrubbing a bad memory off something special and Momma’s hands rubbing a tad of relief on to a very miserable boy.  I determined to take the grin home.  I talked a bit more (with my hands securely fastened behind my back), hugged a couple of ladies goodbye......

And 30 minutes later, it was time for B’s second rub down and Julia’s bedcover’s seventeenth dousing of Oxi-Clean, bleach, hairspray and Dawn.

And I got my grin back.

425.  dinner with a couple who is standing the test of time

426.  thunderstorms

427.  Saturdays with wiggle room

{her choice--?}

428.  late nights and Kleenex with special friends

429.  cookies from a neighbor

430.  texting- so I can seem close to those miles away

431.  his prized purchase

432.  days they love

433.  getting to watch these guys all season

434.  coaches who give game balls because they can

435.  Tillmans' s’mores

436.  being a guest at a dinner party

437.  empty dishwasher, empty sink

438.  chalky, streaker at the table- oblivious

439.  Calamine and prednisone

440.  baseball scores from Georgia- winning or losing!

441.  getting out

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Tuesday Lament

I was wondering how this was going to work out.  Today, I didn’t make it to Panera for my computer time, my mocha in a “here” cup or my cinnamon crunch bagel.  Nor will I next Tuesday, or the next or the next.  I’ve got kids.

I’d give my vital organs for Julia or Brighton, but the fact that my Tuesdays alone are over- for 3 months- makes me sad.  Not sad like hunger in the Sudan makes me sad but sad like “I’m really going to miss that” sad.  My day off came to a screeching halt last week about 3:20. There were skid marks.  Long ones because I fought it.  I even made one last ditch effort and emailed the school administrator about the “make up” day for all the snow we enjoyed in February.  No dice.

When the fateful day was over, my skid marks led us to Dairy Queen to celebrate the last day of Science Etc. with the other Moms and kids.  I use the term “celebrate” loosely because frankly, over Blizzards and a couple of fried choices, Moms lamented over the fact it was our last Tuesday to ourselves until September.  We asked each other questions like, “What are you going to do?”, “What will your Tuesdays look like now?”. Wide eyes took over usually pleasant faces.  Shoulders shrugged when no answers came.  But after a few spoons of Oreos mixed in with soft serve, we were laughing louder than the kids and talking about, you guessed it, SCHOOL.  2011-2012.  Hopeless.

The kids and I eased into our new Tuesdays today.  The kids slept in really late after their action packed weekend.  I kept my expectations for school at a very do-able level and we had a 12:30 swim date.  I think the part I enjoyed the most was when we got home, we didn’t have a big agenda.  They had finished their school work this morning.  They got showers and put on pj’s at like 5!  Julia and I had time to finish The Secret Garden {LOVE that book!} and Brighton and I got to finish Sign of the Beaver {LOVE that one too!}.  And get ready to be amazed and astounded but I played a game of Sorry before dinner.  I know!  Thank you.  {and I won.}

So, no 11:15 mocha, no toasted carbohydrates laced with cinnamon, no chance to clear my inbox and no chance to “frame the clouds”.  And I certainly have some clouds that, for me, need framing.

But not bad for a new Tuesday.  Not bad at all.
406.  Dairy Queen with Moms celebrating/lamenting- thankful for both

407.  trips to the airport

408.  Mom’s gifts for us and remembering something special for me

409.  cool fronts

410.  ballet recitals and Julia’s excitement

411.  friends coming to watch her

412.  being with friends’ families, eating chalupas and carrying on great conversations in happy chaos

413.  generous "thank you” in the form of a Chuy’s gift card

414.  necessary frank conversations

415.  friendships with history

416.  children lavishing love on my Mom

417.  faith

418.  Sabbath rest-- for everyone

419.  the gift of time from a friend

420.  kids sleeping late

421.  finishing great books

422.  time for board games

423.  full moon’s shadows on bedcovers

424.  new Tuesdays

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Overheard at My House #2


This is the second collection of the things I’ve heard my kids say that have made me laugh or that I just simply want to remember- and I’ve had the wherewithal to jot them down.  Since the years are blowing the bricks of their heads, they are getting taller and somehow the taller they get, the less “funnys” come out of their mouths.  Brighton has two things going for him in this category-- he is the youngest and he also spews out at least twice the potential material.

Once our snowman started melting, various appendages began falling off and eventually became a heap of something in our front yard.  Julia looked at the remains from the dining room window.   She sighed and said, “Well, now all we have left of our snowman is a little snow and a memory.”

Reading time: Brighton looks into his snack cup filled with pretzels and a couple of “Robin Eggs” and says, “Can I have my ‘rotten' eggs before I finish my pretzels?”
(Evidently, I had never told him clearly what they were.)

A kid never forgets where he sees a toy. Brighton was describing one to me a few days ago and I just wasn't seeing it as clearly as he thought he was describing it. Finally, exasperated, he said, "Mom, YOU know, it was at that paint store we went to!!"
(He was referring to a recent trip to the Kimbell Art Museum.)

I was unloading the car from an afternoon of errand running.  Brighton was sitting on the mud space putting his shoes away.  "Momma?"  "Hmm..." over my shoulder as I was headed into the kitchen.
"You smell like a good woman."

J: “Name the continents.”
B: "Africa, Australia, Texas...............”-- spoken from our only true Texan

B: “Mom, will there ever be another 2005?”
Me: “No.  It’s come and gone.”
B:  “Mom, are there people in heaven that missed 2005?”

B: “Is this my fake life or my real life?”    More here.

Julia’s job is to get breakfast ready in the mornings and B is to assist-- with utensils, napkins, drinks etc.  I know this is hard to believe but he gets distracted some mornings and finds other things to do.  The other morning we sit down to eat waffles and strawberries, we pray and Julia lets out a hefty, noisy sigh.  “What is it, honey?”  Exasperated, she says, “We don’t have anything to eat with!”  B tucks his head as Julia is already headed to get forks and napkins.  I try to empathize and say, “It’s hard to remember everything, isn’t it?”  As she firmly places the forks on the table she says, “Yes, it is---- especially when”, big eyes on B,  “NO ONE is helping you!”

Late afternoon, Brighton came in, upset about something that had happened with the kids in our cul de sac.
Me: “Tell me what happened-- I want to know from the beginning.”
B: “Well, I got up this morning.....”

He and I were in his room and I was hanging some of his laundry-- “That girl over there, standing in front of my closet.  Well, I’ve got a crush on her and have fallen in L-O-V-E with her.  That’s MY Mommy.”

When our family went to our friend’s wedding in Mississippi, a gentleman asked Brighton, "Well, tell me, how do you know Remey?" B's immediate response with no hesitation was, "Remey is our sister in Christ and our good friend in the Lord."

Julia bought Gabriel (our dog) a toy for his birthday at Target. When Brighton saw the bag she was carrying, he started dancing around badgering her about what was in it. I didn't understand her secrecy at all so, rolling my eyes, I told her to show it to him. She did so reluctantly, glared at him and half whispered, half growled, “DON’T say a WORD about this to Gabe.”

Christmas-- All sorts of things are being wrapped up around here-- sporadic art work, pocket change, candy from the Halloween basket.  Brighton is filling all of our stockings to the brim.
A few days ago he was running around with something up his shirt yelling, “Where’s the Scottish tape?!”

Watching one of the myriad football teams that have run across our screen over the last few months, Brighton has learned a few things about the game.  Just the other day, when the score was really close, he told Julia, “You know,  they may have an ‘ott’.  I have seen them have three ‘otts’.”  She is bewildered and isn’t hiding it.  She looks at him, then over to me, I shrug, then over to Jeff.  Jeff enters the conversation, “B, what are you talking about?  An ‘ott’?”  Rolling his eyes, a terrible habit taken straight from his mother, “You know, Dad, when it says, ‘O-T’-- ‘ott’.  Remember that game and there were three of them??”

I will admit it.  I am a nerd when it comes to school.  I love Saxon Math-- the straightforward, black and white approach.  It's repetitive, pound- it- in philosophy fits perfectly with my methodical self.  Not too long ago, Brighton was officially introduced to a.m and p.m.  A week or two later when I picked him up from Science Etc., he exclaimed with the enthusiasm of, "Mom!!!!  Science Etc. goes all the way from a.m to p.m.!!!!!"

"I don’t like it when two things upset me in one day. I don’t think I will EVER get over these." -from an emotional 9 year old girl

And because I don’t want this one on the side of my blog of a lengthy period of time.  I was spraying some scent in the powder bath after Brighton had visited it and he asked why so I told him.  He stood there a minute and asked, “Can you spray my bottom?”

I did overhear this one in my house but not from my children but from my sweet next door neighbor. I always get nervous when I hear the comments of my children second hand because with Brighton loose in the neighborhood, the chances of his repeated words making me blush or boil are high.
I have no idea why or when he came up with this idea, but what he said was classic B. My neighbor said, “B came to see me yesterday. He was selling pencils. (????) He said, 'This sure is a crummy pencil but............. I love you.’ “

392.  an excuse to eat Mexican--and getting to do it with friends

393.  late night with friends’ Mommas

394.  special help in the kitchen

395.  getting to celebrate the girl upstairs

396.  B’s genuine love for people

397.  Outrageous Brownies

398.  piano recitals

399.  cards and notes that make my eyes sting, blur and spill

400.  another excuse to eat Mexican- guacamole anyone?

401.  fresh flowers just for me

402.  Mother’s Day wishes in all forms

403.  the gift of quiet

404.  last Math lesson-- absolutely out of my mind with gratefulness!!!

405.  “funnies”

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Weighty Watching

Well, I had to do it.  It was the perfect excuse to throw a party (and eat scones with curd and cream, cucumber sandwiches and such)--- with girls!!  It was a historical event that I wanted Julia to see and thought it would be all the more memorable to experience with friends.

When I was eleven, I remember watching Princess Diana become a bonafide princess.   In 1981, Lady Di’s poofy dress was incredible and we couldn’t see enough pictures of her walking down the aisle, in the carriage, on the balcony.  What we see now is a big air puff of a dress with enough material to make a wedding dress, all the bridesmaid’s dresses and possibly the drapes for Buckingham Palace.  But in 1981, her dress was the definition of class and elegance.  Many a bride would walk down the aisle in something similar for years to come.  

Thirty years later, our reaction is the same.  Whether we are 10 or 40, what girl doesn’t want to watch a lady become a princess?  Why wouldn’t we all want to see the gown she chose on the day a majority of the world would see her?  To catch a sweet exchange between bride and groom?  To watch the entire Royal Family on such a day?  To spot the hats in the crowd?  The “watch” proved to be more entertaining 30 years later!

The girls--and Moms-- came in wedding finery and settled in to watch.  After the balcony kiss, their imaginations couldn’t be contained any longer and they set out to perform their own royal wedding.  Their creativity and recall of the wedding events made for an entertaining re-enactment.

I know very little of the “royal couple” but enough to know they do not share some of our beliefs and morals.   However, as I watched, it was easy to find things I admired about Kate, now the Duchess of Cambridge, on her wedding day--  her perfectly lovely- and modest- gown, her composure on a day of unimaginable weighty proportions, her beauty and her seeming respect for the role into which she was entering.   I knew Julia was watching carefully, taking it all in, for this couple of hours, knowing life long impressions would be made.  Before deciding to host a party, I thought through that and I was quickly reminded that for days, months and years, she has me to watch. Talk about "weighty proportions”.  Not just one day, but day after day after day watching almost everything I do.  I can’t lose sight of that- and sometimes I wish I could.  It’s a responsibility of great magnitude.  Weighty.  At times, crushing.

Of course, I’ve no Cartier tiara, no carriage nor a lovely gown to woo her with but I do have time to give her.  Gobs of it.  And in that time, I’ve got a real life to share.  Every day of it.  And in that real life, I’ve got myself to share.  All of it.  And in myself, I’ve got Christ, my only Hope, to share.

And, He’s something to watch.
375.  finding empathy in your struggle

376.  advice that lightens, not burdens, the heart

377.  friends in the bleechers

378.  finding me from under his batting helmet

379.  parties

380.  innocent little girls trying on “grown"

381.  dreams from You to their hearts

382.  scones, lemon curd and cream

383.  need-a-coat spring mornings

384.  seeing more of the girl upstairs

385.  Cheek sisters in my guest room, filling up my car, and around my table

386.  seeing one more fire in my periphery

387,  sweet nothings from my 7 year old

388.  this country in which we live, though it is not our home

389.  getting to start a new book

390.  having dad home for a morning

391.  being watched