Good morning, Mommy

He slipped into our big bed and he didn’t look little any more. He’s nearly as long as I am now. I heard his teeth chattering and asked if he wanted to cuddle. “I was just about to do that,” he mumbled sleepily and slid over. Hooking one arm around my neck, he rested the other on my arm, laid his head down on my cheek, and I wondered just how many times this would ever happen again.

His arms, still scrawny and small, feel stronger than I remember them being. He rubs his fingers gently on my arm for a minute and then stops, takes my hand and places it on his arm. Tap. Tap. He thumps me as if to say “my turn” and I run my fingers up and down. My other hand instinctively moves, too, and I am rubbing his back as well. Remnants of mod podge on my fingers snag on his tee shirt. My jaw starts to ache from where the curve of his head doesn’t fit perfectly against mine, but I dare not move.

One more Back-to-School Post*

My little guy? He loves school. He’s probably the most sociable of my children and he loves to be around lots of people. Last year he was so excited about going to school, I couldn’t even slow him down to get a picture. This year he did let me get pictures before school, but once we got there he was off! No looking back at Mommy. No walking hesitantly. Just go, go, go.
go boy go

Before school:
L2013

And my baaaaybeeee, y’all. She’s old enough for school! And she is so proud about being a big girl going to big girl school.
LJ2013

*I am, after all, a mommyblogger at heart.

Moments into Memories

photo

i.

We walked on the beach where just hours ago we would have been underwater two-fold or maybe three. The sun slid down the sky, rushing to meet the horizon and we paused to watch. It was one of those big-ball-of-fire sunsets that made me wish I had my ‘real’ camera with me; one that dwarfs the clouds and the trees and the world and leaves you feeling a bit like an ant. An awe-inspired and happy ant, but an ant none-the-less. She looked away to splash in the waves and Oops! It was gone. “Maybe tomorrow,” she says. “Maybe…” I say and we still look ahead, afraid to look away lest we miss something else.

ii.

He lost the chance to get a treat last night. It doesn’t matter what he did or what the treat was, really. Just that it happened and that then it was gone. He tried to hide his hurt, to pretend like he didn’t care but as the darkness of bedtime began to wrap around him, I heard the sniffles. Cuddles helped but still he hurt. I know it’s necessary sometimes – this proving your point, following through, teaching consequences – but it doesn’t mean it’s easy. Each tear tore at my heart. But I do believe it worked. Because today? Today he was full of kindness and goodness and gentleness and self-control. Some days I feel like maybe, just maybe, I’m at least getting a few things right.

iii.

I grab both sides and she grasps tighter. I pull her back and WOOSH she flies. Back and forth. Back and forth. “Adin, Mommy! Adin!”  And I lean in for more. We go like this, over and over, until we both wear out. It’s not often that we find ourselves in this moment with no interruptions, no one else stealing the show or snatching my attention and it’s as neither of us really know how to tie it up and move it from now to memory. She looks up and smiles. Little teeth stretched out into a big smile and I grasp the moment and squeeze it tighter, ready for the back and forth, back and forth that is sure to come.

iv.

I look up just in time to see another adult warn him to be careful. He’s climbed up on top of the slide. Again. He’s been climbing since before he could walk, so I’m not surprised. Nor am I particularly worried about him climbing up there. He’s fallen before (and only been broken once).  But I do suppose that it’s setting a bit of a bad example, so I call to him. “Hey, bud…get down, okay? There are lots of other kids here and we don’t want someone to get hurt.” And even as I say I feel like I’ve caved in to peer pressure. If that dad hadn’t spoken to him, I never would have said a word. I saw him. He was fine, not hurting anyone else. But…but…well, I get it. I do. And I really don’t mind that he said anything. He was genuinely concerned, I could tell. Which makes it even harder to be the parent at the playground who isn’t playing with her kids, who isn’t even watching them very well. And I feel this ridiculous need to make sure that everyone knows that I’ve been with them all day, giving them every ounce of my attention and now? Well, now they’re in an enclosed space created for children and I just need to sit and breathe and read and think and not be rightherewithyouallthetimeMommy. Why is it that no matter which way we choose to do things as parents, we always feel this need to justify our choice? It’s exhausting, really. Why is it that no matter how much we give, it never seems like enough? The push to do more, be more is hard to ignore.

v.

We were the last ones to leave the playground. It was late, even for us. Not all that long ago, had I seen children out so late on a school night I would have rolled my eyes or at least given the disapproving glare. (I have to remind myself of that when I’m the recipient of such looks). But this is the freedom I love about our life as we are living it right now. Memories made in the yellow glow of streetlamps shine brighter than those made in the light of day. I’m not quite sure how that works, but I believe it’s true. These are the things that they’ll remember – the things that stray from the norm, the things we only do on vacation. Piling on the floor to watch a movie that started well after bed time. Ice cream for dinner. Skipping school to enjoy a beautiful day. (And learning even when they don’t realize it). Singing at the top of our lungs to cheesy songs that are, quite frankly, musically awful but full of all the things I want them to know, to believe, to live. I won’t control the radio for much longer. Or the late nights. Or their dinner choices. Or a million other things. So for now, while it’s my choice to make, I’m doing the best that I can (and today it feels like I’m doing just fine).

Why Everyone Should Homeschool

She looks up at me, excited but a little unsure. A smile and a little nod are all it takes. She sounds out the next word and skips down the rest. For a moment – for just a brief moment – her confidence wavers and she depends on me to steady it.

Head tilted, brow furrowed, eyes squinted, mouth agape. He’s running calculations in his head but it’s not adding up. Waiting on me, the one who’s supposed to have the answers. I gulp. “I’ve never been good at math,” I think to myself and then slap my own wrist. Your thoughts eventually become your truth, Bridget. And for the first time in ages (or maybe ever) I respond not with the lilt of a question in my voice but with authority.

I’ve got this. Yeah. I’ve got it under control. (For now.) But it hasn’t always been that way. I’ve had to look up at others and with a smile and a nod, they’ve steadied my confidence. I’ve looked with baffled eyes at people who’ve held my hand and pulled me onward – even if I didn’t get it right the first time or the next time or the time after that. I’m grateful for all the teachers I’ve had, both in school and in life.

In this season of our life, while we are doing school at home, I’ve come to realize just how many teachers children really have. Those little suckers are always learning, everywhere you go. Everyone you meet, every one you see, everyone you hear…they are all teachers. But as a parent it’s my responsibility to be the primary source of learning. And the same is true for you, no matter if your children go to public school or a co-op or if you use Montessori methods or Waldorf standards or if you unschool or whatever path you may be on with your children. Ultimately it’s our responsibility as parents to teach our children the ins and outs of living. Does that frighten you as much as it does me? Sometimes I can’t even handle my own thoughts, my own desires, my own deamons…much less all the ones of four tiny humans!

But here’s a little secret I’ve learned during our homeschool journey: The biggest lessons your children will learn won’t come from books or flashcards or their favorite educational app. It won’t come from that unit you slaved over to prepare or the vocabulary words you drilled into their heads. It’ll come from what they see you do, how they see you respond, the choices you make and how you work through the consequences, both good and bad.

Maybe you figured this out long before I did. If so, why didn’t you tell me? :-) And if not, here…take this tidbit and jot it down. It might come in handy some day.

Teach them to love reading by letting them see you read. Teach them to enjoy music by getting lost in a song. Teach them to cook by cooking with them. Teach them to respect others by being good and kind to all people, even when it’s hard. Teach them thankfulness not only by telling them thank you, but by telling them about the blessings in your life. Teach them to give by letting them see you give to others and by giving to them what they want the most: you. With the timbre of your voice, teach them when to speak up and when to shush. Teach them patience by waiting for them to stutter out the whole sentence without rushing them or by letting them scoop up hundreds of tiny rocks as they walk to the car, even if it’s going to make you late. Teach them gentleness by wrapping them up in your arms, even when they’ve messed up. Teach them faithfulness and self-control when you want to give up, but don’t. Teach them peace when you help them begin to navigate the waters of controversy (and if you have a two year old, you have controversy!). Teach them love not only by surrounding them with hugs and kisses but by giving firm correction when that’s what they need. Teach them joy by smiling at them and laughing with them, by celebrating with others and letting them see you soaking in the little things. And teach them that they are unique and special and wonderful by letting them see you dare to believe those things about yourself.

(Oh, wait. Some of that sounds kinda familiar.)

But there’s more. While I’m giving out tidbits, here’s another one: Teach your children, but also let them teach you. (This is the one that took me the longest to see and even longer to learn). Let a caterpillar inch up and down your arm and be mesmerized at how it moves. Take their offerings of sticks and rocks and treat them as the rarest of treasures. Look for the sparkles hidden in the gravel and the beauty of a little yellow weed. Watch them play with others at the playground – often there’s no us and them, just smiling, sweaty faces whirring round and round on the merry-go-round. Listen to them sing, with nothing holding them back. Watch them dance at the dinner table (and maybe even join them). Laugh at their terrible jokes and teach them better ones. Color – with or without staying in the lines. Swim (without obsessing about what you look like in your suit). Build things and paint things and create things and believe that they are masterpieces.

Be their teacher at home so that when they aren’t with you, your words will guide them.
Be their student so that they know they have something worth sharing; that they are good and helpful and useful.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. Never forget these commands that I am giving you today. Teach them to your children. Repeat them when you are at home and when you are away, when you are resting and when you are working. Tie them on your arms and wear them on your foreheads as a reminder. Write them on the doorposts of your houses and on your gates. ~Deuteronomy 6:5-9{emphasis mine}

 

Looking Back at Back to School

2010:
PK&K

2011:
Aug 10, 2011web-6

2012:
1and2

This year:
2013-2014first day_web

Gazers

I wish I had a picture to show you. The social media experts say that posts with pictures are better, but I don’t always believe that’s true. Like books. Sometimes the movie version is just great, but sometimes what you saw in your mind as you read those words was so grand that no camera could capture it, no actor could do it justice. The movie tries and fails and robs meaning and delight from the words.

Tonight I stretched out on the back deck, seat cushion under head. Frogs croaked and crickets chirped. And I could hear my daughter breathing in and out. My son hummed, not even aware that he was doing so. So faint a sound, I almost wondered if I was imagining things.

Swish! One short streak across the sky.

Falling stars, I always called them. But now we call them meteors. My children know so much more than I did at their age. In some ways that is positive progress, but does all this progress somehow steal the joy of childhood?

Falling star or meteor. No matter which, I made a wish.

Swoosh! A long one stretches out, arcing, pulling my eyes across the sky. “I SAW ONE! I SAW ONE, MOMMY!” she shrieks. And he misses it because he was moving around (yet again). He was the one who was most excited about watching and yet it’s like he has ants in his pants. Sometimes all it takes to get what you want is to watch eagerly and sit patiently. I want to shout, “How hard is that to do????” But if I’m being honest it’s pretty damn hard sometimes, especially when your brain is whizzing and whirring on a loop.

Just be still!

I think maybe I’ve heard that somewhere before.

Be still and know that I am God.

Just like my budding astrophysicist, even when what I want is right before me I struggle to just.be.still. To wait, to watch.

But this…this decree from God isn’t a firm ruling from a harsh leader. It’s a gentle reminder from the One who cares for us more than any other. The One who knows that if we’d just slow down and look around, the things we’ve been looking for may very well be right here.

Too

Sometimes my head and my heart get all wobbly and I wonder if I’m the only one whose heart gets tied in knots like this and if any one else’s brain gets flipped over wrong side out and surely I’m not the only one but it certainly feels that way. Well, sometimes. Just sometimes. It’s not as often as it used to be and it’s surely not as intense but there are still moments, days even, when I feel invisible. As if nothing I say or do makes a difference. And then other times I’m the opposite of invisible and I wish nothing more than to pull into my own self and hide, like a Popple. Remember those?

We’re supposed to live in the in between, or that’s what I’ve been told. We’re supposed to not be too loud, but not be too quiet. We’re supposed to go, but not go too far. We’re supposed to give enough, but make sure you don’t give too little. And we are stuck in this land of in between where no one ever defines the “too”. And it’s in the “too” where so much pain and hurt can be found and before I ever thought of that, it was already true but now that I think about it it’s gone from being just true to being my truth and the truth hurts, which I was told but you never really learn that until you learn it on your own.

And once again I wish I were invisible. I wish I could go about my days living and loving and doing what my heart-gut screams at me to do but sometimes I just can’t. Sometimes I let the “rules” silence me. I back away from messy situations because I’m afraid of getting dirty. But, you know, without getting dirty you can’t really appreciate being clean, now can you?

 

 

Seven Wishes

This year I started writing wishes to each of my children on their birthday. One day – maybe when they turn 18 or 21 or possibly for some special event like graduation or a wedding – I hope I’ll be able to put them all together in a book for them as a gift.

For you I wish…
i. that when you need it to be, your voice will be strong and not waver.

ii. that when other’s words are too strong &make you waver, you will not let it sink your soul.

iii. that when your soul is shaken, you will know where to turn.

iv. that when you turn there, you will find comfort.

v. that if you don’t find comfort, you will not become bitter.

vi. that if bitterness finds you, you will seek out the bittersweet instead.

vii. and that if all else fails, you will know that you are loved no matter what.

with Kit-1

Happy birthday, sweet girl!
I love you so.
Love, Mommy

 

From the Birthday Girl

birthday girl (7).jpg

My Birthday is tomorrow.  Today I had a party today at Gramama & Pops’ house. I got a bunch of  stuff. Some of them were rainboots ,a Kit room with Kit,a owl neclis,a table for Kit,a car piggy bank,gulry for me and Kit,a bunch of close. For dinner we had all kinds of pizza like cheese, olive, pepperony.  For desert we had ice cream cake. I had a good time with my family.

I am excited about tomorrow because I am going to the amarikin girl doll store to eat lunch. It will be a awesome day. My best friend is coming. She got a new doll too. I think we will have a blast!

My Girl & Me

Mommy & Me1Mommy&Me2Lydia and I went to Mother-Daughter camp this past weekend with our church. It’s the same camp I went to as a child and although there are new buildings and new cabins (thank goodness!) most things hadn’t really changed. There were, of course, new people and new songs. But there were also some of the same songs and the same people. Nurse Judy is still there and she still greets each cabin with a rousing rendition of the little birdies song. And the chapel is still beautiful in its simplicity.

We walked around the lake (and got our feet ridiculously muddy because it’s been raining there like it’s been raining here) and she found a giant snail. She couldn’t wait to tell Carter all about it!Mommy&Me4.jpg

I loved laughing with her and watching her laugh and seeing her step outside of her comfort zone a time or two.
We found a leaf on the road that had been crushed over and over by cars and she carefully peeled it from the street and we brought it home. I’m trying to figure out how to preserve it. Frame it maybe?

Mommy&Me3

We spent a bit of our quiet time on the swings by the lake. Talking about bits of this and that, I tried to memorize the sound of her voice. It won’t be this small for much longer. We stood on the dock and watched raindrops fall onto the water, like diamonds splashing down, and stood amazed at how sparkly it was.
Mommy&Me5

We took a walk and took pictures and talked about photography. I taught her about lens flare and I’m fairly certain she will be taking thousands of pictures with lens flare. All of the pictures immediately above and below were taken by her except the black and white one (obviously).

Mommy&Me6

The last night while we were making s’mores and singing camp songs, I couldn’t take my eyes off the sky. It went from this to this in about 30 seconds. No filter on either of these. Isn’t that wild?

Mommy&Me7

Oh, I know you’ve probably seen enough of the Mommy & me selfies, but I’m going to keep on taking them as long as she’ll let me.

Mommy&Me9

Gosh, I surely do love this girl of mine! And I loved being alone with her, no brothers or sister to steal my attention away. Nothing but the two of us, each having a chance to revel in the moments of only mother and daughter, not sister or friend or wife or anything else. Just us. And I loved it. She did, too. She’s already asked if we could go back next year. You bet, my love! Absolutely!

Mommy&Me8

I hope that I can remember to stop and see her more. Really see her. Just her. To see her world, to see her find her place in this world, and to see our world through her eyes.