things a perceptive three-year-old might learn from the Little Mermaid.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Daddies are mean and yell loud. (We're talking through this one.)
Kisses should always be openmouthed with tilted head. (Ditto.)
You can meet a guy and immediately want to leave your home and family forever.
I will have Daddy's blessing if I defy him, meet the man of my dreams, and marry him in such a way that I can never be a part of my family again.
You find out if someone likes you by trying to get them to kiss you.
A good man could fall in love with you without ever hearing an intelligent thought from you or knowing anything about you.
If you sell your soul to the devil/sea witch, it'll still turn out Happily Ever After.

...I've seen this movie before, but never as a parent of a little girl. We bought it without much thought this weekend and let Gracie watch it twice. The more I think about it, the more I wonder what on earth I was thinking. For one thing, it's terrifying (particularly the Sea Witch scenes). For another, it's got some horrid social messages about adolescence/love/family/relationships.

What really set me off, though, was the music video (Ashley Tisdale) that plays immediately after the movie, which applies the "Kiss the Girl" song to what has to be a middle-school or junior high dance scene.

**Mommy twitching in horror at the thought of her girl applying this song to her first dance/date/crush/relationship**

I may be paranoid, but I'm resolute in my paranoia. We're retiring The Little Mermaid, thereby avoiding the whole Princess schtick for a bit longer, and returning to aiding and abetting her Tinkerbell fascination instead. (At least Tink's running around trying to help others instead of collecting fancy trinkets, sneaking off to forbidden places, or batting her eyes to try to win a man.)

The openmouthed kissing thing is absolutely hilarious, 'tis true. But it was scary how quick she picked that up. "This is how I do it now." No, sweetie, not for a long while yet... PLEASE.

Sunday night. Leafthought.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

It's 1 a.m.(whoops-- I thought it was about 11pm). My husband never came downstairs after putting the gal to bed, so I imagine he's up there sleeping on hers, carefully balanced between her sprawled little body and the edge of the mattress. It's not the best way to sleep, but it is a great way to drift off. We both accidentally go to bed early occasionally because of her way of cuddling as she drifts off to sleep.

7) Today, I'm thankful for autumn leaves. In Orlando we had very few, and they tended to drop around December or January. I missed autumn terribly. I went out today with our gal and raked leaves furiously for about half an hour. It was good for my soul to feel the whispery cruch and smell the earthy scent that comes with disturbing leaves that have been too long on the ground. Good too to see her throw herself with abandon into my piles, laughing and running about with leaves stuck to her sweater and hair.

As I composter, I value leaves for practical reasons as well: Chopped leaves make awesome mulch and compost ingredients. I want to shred them all and add them to our garden spot, but with 1.8 acres and about 12 huge oaks, we have more than we could ever need. Best to leave today's big piles near the street for city pickup next week.

Our oaks don't turn bright colors, but the copper glow of the sun through their clinging brown leaves is something I'll forever associate with the first days at home with Q. I rocked him in his room with a view of those gorgeous leaves in the slanting afternoon light, prayed for his health, and felt so thankful to be holding him at home at all, whatever was to come with his kidneys. A year later, he's healthy, and I am so thankful. And I will always remember those leaves and prayer-breathed first days.

(off to bed. 1 a.m.! I am a glutton for punishment.)

Good Work, Good Messes.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

5) I'm so very very grateful that my husband is doing work he loves, work that helps people AND has the potential to make us a good living.

We're leaping into our first "open enrollment" period for the products he sells, which means that Medicare recipients are going to be demanding much of his attention for the next two months or so. I'm very accustomed to having his help-- cooking, laundry, kid-watching are all things he's very skilled at. It's going to be an adjustment for me to have him occupied elsewhere. May I keep remembering what life was like when he worked for a ministry that wrang everything out of us and left us in a damp moldy unhappy heap, or when he worked in the office at the crusty outdated chalkboard manufacturer and made his supervisors look productive while they paid him in beans (well, not quite, but almost). A little sacrifice is well worth the benefits-- monetarily, but most especially in the way he thinks and feels about his life and dignity.

6) Hooray for progress on the home renovation front! Sunday the handyman/carpenter who my parents use called to let us know he was available for a project we've decided to do rather unexpectedly. Our 1916 American Foursquare house has had only two families own it before us, and it's badly in need of renovation in multiple areas. My husband needs a meeting place for clients during enrollment season, and we figured out a way to do it inside the house. This means that the renovation required to bring those areas out of "1970's fugly" into a presentable condition is a tax deduction. So bring in the handyman, to remove all the woodwork and the 1970s paneling; bring in a drywaller, to hang 1/4 inch drywall; paint it (ourselves?); and bring back the handyman, to put back what he'd removed. Voila! Non-ugly office and entryway/meeting room!

(But yikes, the chaos that began in my house yesterday. Nails and splinters all up and down the staircase carpet. Pile of paneling on the front lawn, with no sure plan on how to dispose of it. Gaping ugly holes around my old windows and doorways, with cold air seeping in everywhere. Let's get this done asap, PLEASE!!)

7) I love that there is something this beautiful available for our dining room:

...of course, it's nowhere near affordable for us at this point. But there it is, my little (well, rather big) dream. It makes me smile. I am willing to wait for our opportunity to purchase it.

Saturday night gifts

Saturday, November 08, 2008

4) That my two children have grown and changed and loved and blossomed for another year. Q's now one year old, and G's three tomorrow. (Three! That boggles my mind... how can it have been three years since I sat in that wheelchair, shivering and sore, waiting for the nurses to get her IV placed so that I could see my beautiful girl for the first time since she was whisked away from the delivery room? I remember picking her up gingerly, with all the wires and monitors and oxygen and feeding tubes hanging off of her like spaghetti, trying not to displace anything. And the wonder of her obviously recognizing me, nestling herself into the hollow under my neck, and sleeping, at peace because I was there. I knew right then that nothing was more important in my world than being present for her, helping her sleep or with whatever she might need.

That's still true today. After all the chaos of today, the frantic housecleaning (too cold for a park party! 20+ people coming to our house in four hours!! YIKES, that.) and cake-decorating (NOT my Primary Talent) and present-wrapping and visitor-greeting. After having to greet a college buddy I hadn't seen in ten years wearing my milk-stained pyjama top and jeans in my wretchedly untidy house. After Tinkerbell crowns and Little Blue Engine that Could party hats and apple cider and birthday candles. After putting away a mountain of leftover cake, a kitchen full of dirty bowls and icing tips, and a whole mess of wrapping paper... there was so much peace and joy in my heart as I curled up to nurse my boy and cuddle my girl as we watched her new Tinkerbell movie before bed. She put her head on my leg and said sweetly, "I just love you so much, Mommy," and my heart nearly broke for joy. What more could there be in life than this-- a beautiful sweet girl and a jolly little baby boy, with a husband who adores us all?

There's nothing I"d rather be giving myself to than this. I am tired, often flustered, often stained with milk and embarrassed about my house. My stupid belly is still stretched out and ridiculous-looking, and I rarely get more than four hours' uninterrupted sleep. But I am so unimaginably blessed.

A new take on this tired ol' blog.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Life with toddlers and babies does not give itself to writing very much. Even less, life with toddlers and babies and a new business in the house. All require constant care, overwhelming care, care that by its very nature always falls a little short of my ideal. We're scraping along, managing to keep everyone fed and clothed and the house from falling into the Filth Abyss, but just barely. So there's no time for the writing I'd like to do, the NaNoWriMos and NaBloPoMos and daily updates and hometown tourism writing and such that's lurking in the back of my mind. Someday, perhaps, but not just now.

But. I do want to record something of my life. This first year with Q has slipped by in a flash-- we've endured a birth defect, an operation, a nasty scalp infection, a lack of weight gain, a lot of things. And I have very little of my writing to show him about his first year. I have yet to write out his birth story; I don't know when I'll get around to creating pretty scrapbook pages that tell the story. I haven't written this month about G's glee the first time Q rolled a ball back toward her after she rolled it to him. I've not told you about his first word: "out,' he said softly, as he reached for me in his carseat. I have no pictures or videos of the adorable way he speaks, softly, out of the side of his mouth sometimes, a sweet soft baby with a John Wayne twist to his lips.

It's ironic that I have so little time to write when everyday life is so tip-top full with beautiful moments to write about. I think about all that writing I did when I was single, and then married and childless, soul-searching, restless, often unhappy writing, documenting what now seems like a fairly empty life. Now that my every moment is full, that my babies are changing and growing and making me laugh every single day, I am not recording it. How upside-down that is.

So. I'm going to try something new, something I think will help me record snippets of my life: my everchanging children, my everhealing husband, the home I love and want to nurture and design and craft.

I've been reading Ann VosKamp's words at for a couple of years now. Sometimes I stay away for a while, because her eloquence and centeredness and the simple beauty of her life can stir a sense of inadequacy if I'm not feeling good about myself. But when I return, I'm always overwhelmingly blessed again by her thoughts, her discovery of the unspeakably holy lurking and indwelling the mundane details of motherhood and home life. It's rich stuff, like Carmichael or Elliot is rich to me. She has a project called The Thousand Gifts that is simply this: she challenges us to list one thousand things that stir us to gratitude, little and large moments that find us amazed anew at the Hand that placed them there.

A gratitude journal is no grand new idea; in fact, it's a bit of a faded fad. But I'm going to try this and see where it leads me. (Obviously, my current course is getting me nowhere, writing-wise.)

Without further ado, my first Gifts:

Photobucket1) A little girl who treasures the experience of having something special over the experience of consuming it. She sat tonight at the kitchen table, her small heap of Halloween candy spread out in a pile, and gleefully shaped it. "Mommy, it's a Candy Tree! It's a circle!"... and simply could not decide which piece to eat for dessert. After a great deal of time, and a fair amount of maternal pressure to please Make A Decision So We Can Get On With The Evening, she carefully selected a package of Whoppers... and gave me four pieces during the process that she wanted me to have. What generosity of spirit, what a joyful little steward she may be one day.

love this grin.2) A little boy who wriggles in paroxysms of delight whenever his sister swoops down to interact with him. She may tug on his head, push at him, pull blankets over his face, steal his toy, bounce him too roughly in his jumper... and until the moment that he is either getting hurt or is absolutely terrified, he will beam and squeal and huh-huh-huh giggle just with the joy of having her attention. What good friends they are going to be.

3) A new laptop that makes me want to write and create again, that seems to open up all kinds of creative possibilities. A hard drive that's all mine, to fill with pictures and writing and design and research of whatever I please. And the doting husband who gently insisted that I have a Macbook instead of the less expensive PCs I would have chosen for myself, who finds such joy in giving me such an extravagant gift. Just wow.

That was fun to write. I want to keep doing this...