Friday, May 29, 2015

Segreto Ingrediente

I've been wanting to do some Mother's Day reflecting, so here's what was and is on my mind - because I do want to capture/record/journal our most marvelous Mother's Day to date.

First, I think it be an at-times awkward holiday. Many people miss their moms, don't have moms, want to be a mom. I want to be with my moms, but I'm here and I'm a mom. It feels weird to celebrate me, but I want to acknowledge the day and give thanks . . . and really, I'm a mom because of my kids, so is the day about my kids? But then that's kind of awkward/ironic, because (and I've polled some friends on this) at this stage sometimes what moms need on Mother's Day is to be alone for a while. Add to the irony that at later stages moms are missing their (adult) kids and would do anything to be with them. Well, anyway. It's a day, it's past, but for me worth processing a little.

And then there's this thing about expectations/needs/wants (sometimes not known until too late, or known and not expressed . . . both dangerous recipes for disappointment and angst. Also a conversation theme among friends after the day). We did find as our good literary friend Strega Nona says, the "segreto ingrediente" this year: celebrate early. A day early. It was bliss. We went to Penzeys (thanks to my parents) and to Mill Valley Kitchen (thanks to my parents-in-law). We were together, we were out, I was not cooking, the day was gorgeous. We came home, Trev & Karis made and gave me terrariums. So crafty! And then Sunday could just be Sunday - Karis went to a friend's birthday party and while Judah (and Trev) napped I watched part of Anna Karenina. Then we established a new traditions: steak and sweats (pants). Just all, sensational. I am humbled to be able to be a mother, a day to celebrate it sometimes seems like "Well yeah, this is hard" and other times like "Why do I get to do this?".

3 Words?
I read an article lately that asked some "famous" mothers several questions, one being: what 3 words would your kids use to describe you. I've been thinking about this one, more in terms of what words I hope would be used . . .

Visit to Linnie
Judah and I loved a little visit to Grandma Linnie to her care center . . . joined by Aunt Debbie & her friend Val. It was so memorable, watching Judah interact as we painted her nails and chatted. Linnie was hilarious, and kept asking who "that little girl belongs to". Sweet memories.

Just saying, Judah needs some. And I've been reminded about our responsibility as his parents to give that gift to him - it feels so different (everything does) than with Karis. I keep reading in Proverbs about the topic (discipline your son and he will bring you peace - just to name one) and it makes me feel . . . like I need extra doses of wisdom right now.

Donut Duck!
We call her Donut Duck (Karis's name, the flavor sometimes changes) and she lives in a barrel planter right outside our front door. It's crazy, and I'm so thankful she chose that spot to lay her 6 eggs. We discovered 3 of them Mother's Day weekend, saw 3 more several days later. And now even when she's gone (which is rare) we can't even see the eggs because her down is covering the nest so fully. So beautiful. I've given much thought to her innate devotion to nurturing her chicks. We wonder what she thinks about all day, if she gets bored? We hope to be here when they hatch (um, we hope they hatch). Donut is extremely tame, we come and go and talk to her and she just sits there. Devoted.

Can't not think of them
My kids. That's it. I explained this to Trevor - the inability to tune them out even when he's with them here and "in charge". When they are in my orb or even out of it, they are on my mind and in my heart. It's the most all consuming thing I've ever experienced, pretty amazing. And also, constricting. But always, grateful.

Speaking of Trevor 
As I write this, Trev is reading to me from The Onion, ridiculous stories about motherhood, such as: "Mom was so sad she ordered just pizza for dinner". Some are funny. Although for full effect, I would recommend calling Trev and having him read them to you.

Other thoughts to capture that might as well insert here:

Like a Yeti
I recently showed to Karis (via youtube) the "Yeti ride" at Disney World (my fave) . . . and we got to talking about Yetis. She wanted to know what they're like. In explaining this hilarious fictitious creature I found myself using Judah as an analogy. It went something like this and came out of nowhere: "It's like when Judah is freaking out - we know that Judah is actually a very kind, fun, wonderful little creature. But sometimes, he gets so frustrated and feels things so strongly and just doesn't know what to do with his feelings . . . well, I think the Yeti is like that. He's really a very lovely creature, he's just scared and acts out in ways that seem scary." Something like that. Basically silly BUT helped me to remember to laugh and to understand my 2 year old (um, and anyone at any year old, right? Please, right?).

Children's Prayer
Luke 11:9-10
I could spend a lot of time writing on this, but I'll summarize and say I've been so humbled in how I think about prayer . . . by my faithful, wise, wonderful teacher Karis. Before the children's prayer service many weeks ago she asked, "Mommy, will this be a fun meeting?" and I hemed and hawed and basically said, "No! We're praying, this is serious and sacred". Uff da, I was so put in my place as the time was so full of joy and laughter - isn't that so what we learn from children? He asks the children to come to Him, He accepts all offerings and I know He loves their joy and exuberance and energy as they pray. I've also been reminded listening to Karis's askings ("Dear Lord, I pray we'd find Wally and get a lolly . . . " and other such requests). Yes, God wants us to ask. He tells us to ask (verse referenced above). So, I'm trying to pray more like Karis. Yesterday it was, "God, I pray that Judah would have a happy wake up and a calm morning". And I'm thanking Karis often for teaching me how to pray.

Extremely random:
Trevor and I recently enjoyed this article, as we do love our 7pm kids in bed here! No judgement for anyone else AT ALL, but this has worked for us, mostly because we get some time together at night . . . trying to grow in flexibility always and I know kids can bend (even when sometimes their moms seem stiff. Ummmm, me).

Some mom quotes from recent reads:

From the Kevin Leman (he is hilarious) book First Time Mom:
"What you have to capture as a parent is your child's heart. You've got to know your child's heart, help train your child's heart, protect your child's heart, listen to your child's heart. Spend the early years enjoying each other's company and use that time to capture your child's heart."

From The Count of Monte Cristo
" . . . however all other feelings may be withered in a woman's nature, there is always one bright smiling spot in the desert of her heart, and that is the shrine of maternal love."

From Mom . . .  and Loving It
"Moms have experiences every day that make them want to rejoice - or pull their hair out . . . we live so constantly with moments that are out of our control . . . "

From Surprised by Motherhood
". . . mothers never want it to be over. Even the hard stuff. They want it to stop. They may want to find room to breath, to weep, to panic. But they don't want it to end - this delivering, shaping, cheering, loving, bringing life into the world."

- "Where's my little cereal with rice krispies and cream half drunk up?" (her version of what Pa in the Little House books calls Laura when he gets home)
- "Ooohhh, momma - the rules are to cheat!"
- "I wish I was four, it's so much simpler!"
- "Well, why not?" (in a positive way, like - hey, let's go for it!)
- "I drew a Yeti!" (she did, it was very yeti-ish)
- She recently got at the library the DVD Donald in Mathmagic Land. It's adorable - old, hilarious, she loves it and so do I. It ends with talking about "the Creator" and so she says, "Mom, so really, this movie is all about God!"
- My little helper girl's new routine is to water flowers/plants outside right after lunch -then she spends a good 15 minutes giving her feet a bath. I love it
- Books: Stuart Little, Thy Friend Obadiah, Mrs. Piggle Wiggle, Little House on the Prairie, Betsy Tacy
- "Well, those grandma's really stocked up my treat stash!"
- "It's a block party!"  (said while Judah dumped all his blocks into the trampoline)
- "Momma look, this is the part where he plays chest!"
- "Oh don't worrry, mom - that won't happen for a long time!" (when I was lamenting the speed of their growing up)
- "I hope this turns out how I'm hoping it will" (isn't that such a life long lesson?)
- "Mommy, I think soon we should train Judah for the potty! For now I think we can just hold him over the toilet"
- "It's a sweatshirt, you sweat in it!"
- "Mommy, does the girl have to be younger than who she marries?"
- "No Judah, my name is Karis! But you can call me Mommy" (HA!)
- I'm daily in awe of her love, so attentive and kind and care-taking of all around her
- She loves finding inchworms in the backyard, then making little "homes" for them in plastic cups . . .  securing saran wrap with hair bands and poking the wrap with toothpicks so they can breathe

Judah Jibes:
- "Pretty flower!"
- "Church. Uppa Ava. Cheerios. Sing"
- "Uppa!" (pick me up, please - Karis said this too!)
- "Gummy time!"
- "Cozy sleep sack"
- "Mary Poppins" (loves the book, that was my mom's when she was young)
- "Orange shirt" (loves colors)
- "Play pirates!" (game with daddy after dinner)
- "Mermaid book!" (loves looking at the Hans Christian Andersen version of Little Mermaid)
- "Toot!" (after he toots and then explodes into giggles. Must be inherent - studies should be done on this phenomenon)
- "Help you?" (translate: help me - he's getting so good at asking for help instead of melting into frustration)
- "Hi Judah!" (sometimes even whispered - when he wants you to look at him. And we say it all the time . . . )
- "Su-per-maaaaaaaannnnn!" (which is how I carry him downstairs. More correctly, how I get him to happily be carried downstairs)
- "Hooray (insert: mommy, Judah, daddy . . . )!"
- "Put it on!"
- "Tea time! Treat!"
- "Duck is sleeping! Eggs!"
- "Bye, Chocolate Donut" (the duck)
- "Peek a Boo!" (while bringing Karis the book Peek-a-Boo, to read to him)
- "Read mouse!" (I Love You, Mouse)
- "Play, Caleb! New friends!"
- "Uppa Julia!" (loves being lifted by our little friend Julia)
- "More more more! Little Guy! Little Guy's Daddy!" (while bringing the book More More More to anyone to read)
- "So funny!"
- "Go to sleep!" (while assuming his sleep position - bottom up and arms all cozy at his sides). Said anytime I even slightly reprimand him
- "Green button! Yellow button!" (said while pointing to the big dots on his pootise blanket)
- "Go go bananas! Slice bananas!" (part of Karis's dance class routine that he loves)
- Judah still loves to process his day when he goes to sleep and I still savor those moments of eye to eye focused "conversation" - "Play daddy. Gentle friends. Play Cisco! Play Simon! . . . "
- I never tire of watching Judah form words, so carefully concentrating and sputtering out exactly what he's trying to say

Saturday, May 9, 2015


"She thought to herself, 'This is now'. She was glad that the cosy house, and Pa and Ma and the firelight and the music, were now. They could not be forgotten, she thought, because now is now. It can never be a long time ago."
- last page of Little House in the Big Woods

". . . she felt as if it would be a greater relief to remain quietly at home, entirely free from any responsibility whatever, and so to rest her mind and heart in a manner which she had not been able to do for more than two years past . . . It was astonishing, almost stunning, to feel herself so much at liberty; no one depending on her for cheering care, if not for positive happiness . . . she might be idle, and silent, and forgetful - she might be unhappy if she liked . . . "
- from North and South, thoughts of the character Margaret

I remember beginning many a paper in high school and college with quotes - and these recent ones above seem so apt. As I type (this exact sentence, because I'm sentence by sentence these days). The first from Laura, well of course. NOW. Live NOW. This is our only today. The second - well, I will take these few Saturday morning moments. The tradition is for Trev to sleep in and then I eventually brew his coffee and Judah carries it up to daddy. Oh yes, so dear these days are. I'm also at this moment listening to a "relaxing" playlist Trev compiled. I love my music man.

The following 2 paragraphs are early morning stream of consciousness from a few days ago . . .

It's well into May, and my true confession is: our air conditioning is on. I always resolve not to do that, and then . . . Judah's monitor tells me the temp in his room (weird) and when it crept up to 79 despite all efforts to cool the upstairs. Well, can you tell how guilty I feel about this? There are better things to feel guilty about.

But why feel guilty? I just re-read The Gifts of Imperfection, what a refreshing reminder of so many things I need to hear. A couple recent quotes that are running through my head: the author says that so many times she thinks in her head, "It would feel so good to freak out right now! But, will that make anything better? No". I for sure recited that in my head when driving in awful traffic and listening to the kids have their own freak out in the back. Oh adulthood, how much there is to learn. I'm reminded it's not by my strength that I can grow in love and all those luscious fruits of the spirit (peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, self control, humility, love . . . ). Another line, so simple and helpful: listen to music, dance, laugh. YES. All these things. They happen naturally around here, it's amazing what miracles happen when we turn on music in the morning. I've been pulling up some old tunes, like "How Bizarre" &  "Tonight's Gonna Be a Good Night" - Karis grins when I dance while putting on my make up and I'm sure she'll join soon enough. I tried Ace of Base's "The Sign" until I realized how not worthy the lyrics are of my 5 year old's ears. Friends, any recommendations for uplifting, silly, marvelous music? Please, send songs my way!

On my mind and heart lately is the topic of needs. We all have needs. We're created with needs. But what do we REALLY NEED? And as a mother/wife I feel the responsibility of discerning everyone's needs - so we're not just spinning our wheels, so we're living abundantly (nothing like a ton of self pressure, right?). I do really have a renewed desire, though, to be attuned and wise and - present - to the needs of myself, my husband, my family. What does Karis need when she's moping? What does Judah need when he's freaking? What do I need when I feel like freaking?! What does Trevor need when he comes home from work? A couple Saturdays ago I clearly remember thinking I needed to get errands done, and then it hit me that I really needed a friend. As it happened, poof, Anne texted an invite to the park where we were headed anyway. Lately I need to clean out drawers, color with Karis and daily have Crio Bru (you should try it). Always I need Grace upon Grace. Anyway, I'm enjoying these thoughts, they seem purposeful in this season.

Keeping it real here, oh how I mess up in meeting needs! The most humbling thing happened when picking up Trev from his Lasik surgery. I felt overwhelmed in the moment (why?!), and he hadn't even had the surgery and . . . well, let's use Trevor's word and say it was legendary. Legendary. Enough to send me to a sad and reflective and repentant place - that has led to refreshment and vigor and life, gratitude for Trevor and a reminder of being there for him in every possible way in word and deed (as much or more as it's so natural to be there for my children).

I find it terribly difficult to receive unmerited favor that is grace, yet easy to live with regret. But to give grace, I have to receive it. That was a huge part of the Holy Week lesson for me, that continues into this Easter season (50 days of Easter on the calendar here!) - receiving forgiveness is as necessary as giving it, both are vital and linked. Grace upon Grace. I'm so grateful.

Oh, and by the way, click here for Grace - by U2. 

Happenings/Recent Routines:
  • Little Brother's Big Birthday: Drew, happy birthday! We loved time in Excelsior with him, Mel, Kirk & Nancy. So grateful for that guy's life
  • Easter: beautiful! Early service worship/nursery, home for Easter Egg hunt, pork roast, macaroons. He is Risen
  • Gale Woods Farm/Basement "work": Trev and Andy hit the basement while Beth & I took the kids to Gale Woods. So unfair, right? The kids and I even hit up a huge home book sale in Minnetrista on the way, at a beautiful farm house. We left Gale Woods happy and tired, and grilled out later with that dear framily that the Dierkers are to us
  • Fine Dining Club: every other week we have a new tradition of meeting Lee/Caroline/baby Asher at local "fine dining establishments". That's right, Culver's, QDoba, Potbelly's, Rusty Taco. Divine, delish
  • Local Pope Gal Dinner: at Pizza Lola with Debbie & Kate. Loved it, all
  • Okee Dokee Concert: with friends, at Orchestra Hall. So super. The kids perhaps loved best the parking ramp ride
  • Prayer night for children: at our church, they happen a few times a year and this was the first that children were invited to come and receive prayer - based on 1 Samuel 3:9-10. A separate post, I was completely humbled
  • Concert night: Sister Cassie came to town to see one of her faves, Lord Huron. So, sister Kate and I joined, and my what fun. I do try to step out of my comfort zone once in a while, and how perfect this was. First Avenue, crushed like sardines, great music, felt inspired/refreshed, got to think and zone out and just enjoy art with lovely ladies
  • Tickle book: Ten Tiny Tickles is what we often do when we come downstairs for the morning - smooshed onto a chair and going through the tickles
  • "Tell me something I don't know": a new game Karis and I play . . . sometimes on the way home from school. Stemmed from Karis saying, "Mommy, I ALREADY KNOW that!". So, this is a friendly way to dispel . . . 
  • French Park outing & Pizza/movie Saturdays: enough said, so simple and sweet
  • Grandpa Camp: loved having Grandpa Kirk here for a week of ins and outs, Tea Tuesday (and toaster oven, ha), elk burgers, local library (to read Barbie books!) & Lunds, coloring, hanging
  • Lasik surgery: despite my wife fail, the surgery was a great success. AND we got to watch the entire thing, on a screen. One of my first thoughts was how much I truly love Trevor's eyes. One of my second thoughts was how freaky it was
  • Grandma/pa Pope visit: Trev's parents stopped by while Trev was recovering, such a gift to us (literally - the kids colored and played with sand toys beautifully the next morning). So good to be with them as I felt quite weirded out with Trev mummified in bed with wacky goggles and vicadin haze
  • Guys weekend in NE: Trev joined my dad/bro for the Berkshire Hathaway Shareholders event. Sounded sensational, bonding, so glad they could go together
  • GrandmaS Camp: my mom and grandma came to keep me and the kids company while the guys were away, what memories we made. Hours in the back yard playing with a bubble mower, following Karis's imagination in "restaurant & grocery store", dining delights (Jets, OPH, Copper Hen, Glam Dolls, Snuffy's - we know how to pack it in!). Karis spent afternoons with them out and about, I rested. We all soaked in every minute of the weekend
Recent Reads:
This is US
Going Over East
Mountain 2 Mountain
The Heart of the Home
North and South
Positive Discipline
Parenting the Wholehearted Child
Positive Discipline
Nurture Shock
The Reading Promise

Trevor's Reads:
He continues to follow his book club's quite rigorous schedule - including Meno, Aristotle, Plato, Herodotus and other such books that I would probably never choose. It's fun to listen to his thoughts

Karis & Judah's books:
Little House in the Big Woods
Peter Pan
Mr. Putter & Tabby
Hug a Bible
Peek a Boo
Five Little Monkeys

- "Judah can do plies!" (dance move - indeed!)
- "Look mom, we're doing the sprinkler!" (dance move, indeed!)
- "Mommy, the birds keep flying in the sky but none of them are coming to eat!" (her birdfeeder obsession is adorable)
- She lately loves to put Judah in her old flower girl dresses
- "We're playing boarding dance class. It's when Judah lives here and only goes  home for holidays"
- "Judah, wanna go see your . . . " (Said as I needed to change his diaper. I'm not going to go there right now, but yes, we talk about anatomy these days)
- "Well, sometimes I have two feelings. Like, it was funny and I didn't like it at the same time" (oh wise soul)
- "Momma, I have to say, I really like things with pockets"
- "It was neat that the kids got to have stones"
- "I mowed it" (as in, ate quickly)
- "When I go grow up, first I want to be a cello player in a concert. THEN I want to be a cheerleader."
- "Judah, let's loosey do!" (as in do-si-do, but not)
- "This is so satisfying. Mom, what does satisfying mean?"
- (to aunt Cassie) "This music makes me want to dance on my bottom"
- "I really love being my brother's sister. I also really love being a girl" (after I told her I love being her mommy, and also being Trevor's wife)
- "Mommy, even though this is just for kids, I'm going to let you have some" (talking about her blueberry tea)
- Her latest tick is to cough lightly or blow on her hands. And burping. Always fascinating to me (if not a little . . . concerning? Aggravating?)
- "It knocked the wind right out of my leg!"
- "This sweatshirt is growing out of me!"
- "Mommy, a duck planted her nest in our flower pot! There are yellow eggs!"
- Karis continues to live her name, "Grace". We do have our moments, of course, but really - I adore this girl

Judah jibes:
- "Park the car!" (first 3 word sentence)
- "Hi Katherine!" (a friend who was here for dinner, who he now talks about daily. Hello, new babysitter!)
- "Narnia! Caspian!"
- "Meat!"
- "Bookie! Crayonie! Pootsie!" (everything near and dear to Judah still has "ie" on the end)
- "Phone-ie!" (as in, his little phone. Which I thought was a cute addiction until I realized . . . he is carrying around his phone like an appendage, just like his parents).
- "Bless you!" (said so appropriately)
- "Thank you!" (mostly appropriately)
- "NO NO NO NO NO" (to everything. but only to me)
- "Yup!"
- "Hi Judah!"
- "Donuts. Mmmmmm."
- "Yummy!"
- "Wash your hands!"
- "Garbage. I throw away"
- "2 grandmas!"
- "Tic tacs!" (a recent thing of the day)
- "Grocery store!"
- "Bamma!" (word for "grandma")
- "yoga!"
- "Pocket!" (in which to put rocks)
- "I got it!"
- "Kare-ith? Kare-ith? There she is!"
- "litt-ul man"
- "nap!"
- "Hi home!"
- "home pootsie!" (because it is indeed different than the "car pootsie")
- "blue sky"
- "yellow crayon" (his fave)
- "tic tacs!"
- "Lady Gaga!" (a clip they watch with daddy, LG singing some Julie Andrew's songs at the Oscars. Oh my)
- "Running!"
- One morning he kept his sleep sack on for over an hour and managed to put on Karis's crocs, pad around the house, and have an epic tantrum
- Before bed he usually wants to talk about someone he saw/played with that day, such as "Cisco. Gentle, Cisco. Friend."
- When he wakes up, he often asks for Trev with hope, "Daddy, working?"
- He goes rigid and turns red when he forcefully says "NO!". This is a great alternative to hitting his sister, which also happens at times
- He still mooshes, loves to sit and look at books, dance, giggle hilariously, and run
- Basically, Judah is talking, listening, understanding, growing up TOO FAST. Loving most minutes