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Monday, June 18, 2012

Stellar Grandma

Most grandparents these days seem to have a philosophy of life that goes something like this: "It was hard work raising children.  Whew.  Glad that's over.  Now it's time for me to enjoy my life.  Do all those things I sacrificed because I was running after little ones.  Sure, I love my grandkids.  But I DO love to send them home.  My nerves get frayed after a while.  I need to take it easy.  I'll send them a gift on their birthday - I'll even babysit for a few hours here and there.  That's what it means to be a Grandma."

Okay, that may have been a bit harsh.  I'm sure that's not most out there - just that I think those sentiments float around and then I tell my friends what my Mom does for me and my kids and I make everyone jealous.

Here's an example - just one of many MANY that I could describe:

Two weeks ago my parents flew from Hong Kong (at their own expense!) for a number of reasons which they needed to be Stateside for the summer.  Upon landing, ignoring jet-lag and what a 15 hour flight will do to an aging body, they jumped right in to taking the kids for the afternoon/evening, cooking meals, mending clothes, buying the kids new shoes, pj's (anything they needed and sometimes things they wanted!), taking them to McDonalds... the list goes on.

My parents make me dizzy with all they do, even though I'm half their age.  I can't hardly keep track of their itinerary, much less could I ever physically accomplish all they do!

This past week was Caleb's 11th birthday.  Most Grandmas would think, "Oh, maybe I could help by making some lemonade."  Not Caleb's Grandma.

She took Caleb and Priscilla for an overnight at her house - took them shopping, to the pool and even brought them home well dressed and hair properly brushed and tied back (something I fail to do regularly).  None of this, "I raised my kids, I'm done, can't hack it anymore" for this Grandma!

She made dinner this week that provided left-overs for lunches and suppers.

She ordered and bought the elaborate cake for Caleb's party - and delivered it.  She bought balloons, paper plates/cups, presents for Caleb not only 'from' herself, but from Priscilla and Timo too (on their shopping trip she had them choose).  She came with chips and salsa to the party and even thought about what we'd have for supper after the party (which no one had given a thought to) and brought a ham so we could have dinner that wasn't junky (like chips and cake and soda).

But it just so happens that Father's Day occurred the day after Caleb's party.

So, she took the kids shopping for Father's Day gifts - spending her own time, money for gas, and money for gifts, and had them choose appropriate gifts for him.  She cooked steak, baked potatoes, corn on the cob and prepared a delicious desert - all for our family, even though my Dad was away for the weekend.

I would say my kids have a stellar Grandma.

All other Grandmas - take note.  If you don't want your kids to be jealous of me, just go and do likewise.

Thank you Mom for all you do!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Bedtimes and Bellybuttons

Here's what this evening looked like:

We watched an episode of The Waltons - where Olivia feels her identity is lost in her roles as Wife and Mom.  She longs for the adventure and glamour of the Air Mail pilot whose plane landed in a nearby field.  I'm sure I can relate to her on this front - often I feel my days are filled with the mundane.

Sam did magic tricks for the kids, and they kept pleading with him to do it again so they could figure out the trick.

The kids played Apples to Apples with Sam.

We discussed what Caleb wants for his birthday breakfast tomorrow.  The verdict: Cherry muffins.

Andrew is so precocious and very cute these days.  His words are stilted and carefully pronounced.  Perhaps because of his language delays he has learned to speak in full, grammatically correct sentences - complete with appropriate expression.

"I want to give you a hug Mommy!"
"Will you read me another story Mommy?"

He loves to be read to but more than that loves to feel me near.  He is a happy child - quick to put aside momentary sadnesses and willing to move on to the next thing - even if the next thing is sleep.

So I tucked him in bed and went to say goodnight to Timo.  His eyes were wide as he showed me a tiny drop of blood where he got a scratch.  "Where does the blood go?" he asked, wondering aloud.  "It will dry and become hard, then it will fall off like crumbs on the floor - and there will be new skin underneath - your skin rebuilds itself beneath the scab.  Your skin is very important - it keeps all sorts of bad stuff from entering your body.  When you get a cut it could let bad germs into your body and make you sick.  God gave you skin to protect you," I replied.

"Especially on your feet!" he piped in, after my lengthy explanation.

My kids all know how much I love biology and will give them a quick lesson any chance I get.

Priscilla wandered up.
"Can you come say goodnight?"
"Sure I can."

So I plopped onto her bed - Caleb on one side, and Priscilla jumped on my back to give me a back rub.
"You're so soft Mommy.  Not like Daddy - he's bony."
"Well, I wouldn't mind being a bit more bony like Daddy."
"You're just right the way you are Mommy.  I can't imagine a skinny Mommy.  That would be funny."
Then Caleb sucked his cheeks in and started to giggle, "Yeah, I think Mommies are supposed to be squishy and soft."

And so they sabotaged all my weight-loss efforts.

There was a lot of excitement over Caleb's last evening being 10.
"I don't know what the big deal is about changing ages.  I mean, nothing is really different.," he said.

"Well, it means you're going to be different - eventually," I said.

He commented about wanting to stay young forever.  So I said, "In heaven you might be." When you bring up the subject of heaven to kids it is always fascinating where the conversation will go.

"I can't wait to meet Adam and Eve!  I wonder if they'll look really old!"
"Well, I can't wait to get a look at their bellies and see where there is no belly button!"
"Can you imagine when they had their first baby!?  'What's this thing hanging off his belly?  He must have something wrong!'  I wonder if God gave them instructions about what to do with the cord."
"Poor Eve.  All of humanity is probably gonna be really mad at her.  She's gotta be so embarrassed.  I'd be so humiliated.  Just 'cuz of her sin she messed up the world for everyone."
"Oh man!  Can you imagine if she hadn't sinned?  What an awesome world it would be?"
"No screeching little brothers."
"Andrew would sit in Church with his hands folded in his lap, listening to the sermon without wiggling."
"Yeah, that would be amazing."

And on it went...
I listened and giggled along with their innocent chatter and longed, together with them, for an unending youthfulness - both for them and for me!

And perhaps I have come a little closer to understanding what I happened to read earlier today in Mark 10.

"I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” 

At the time I read it and thought, "I think I know what that means."  But after tonight I think I know a little more - where the knowing comes with the feeling, the laughing, the wonder and the innocence of children who long for perfection and a chance to inspect the tummies of the first man and woman.

Monday, June 11, 2012

What They're Really Saying

When he says, 'Read me a story Mommy!' he's really saying, 'I want to spend time with you and feel your strong arm encircling me, cozy and tight.  I want to feel you near and rest my head on your chest like a pillow.'

When she says, 'Will you just listen to me!'  she's really saying, 'Please, just let me share my thoughts with you.  Don't shut me out!  I need you to hear me.'

When he says, 'I just want to be left alone,' he's really saying, 'I can't take any more of your negative words.  Please don't brow-beat me just now.  I'm tired of hearing all the things I do wrong.  Just give me a hug and let me know you love me.'

When he says, 'Can I have a cookie?' he's really saying, 'Did you mean it when you said 'no cookies before supper'?  I wonder if I can get her to give in to me while she's on the phone!'

When she says, 'Can we go to the pool tomorrow?' she's really saying, 'I want to have some fun and be with friends and forget all the chores you have for me to do!'

When he says, 'You're right.  I did that.  I'm wrong.'  he may also be saying, 'I give up.  I give in.  I'll say what you want to hear just so you'll let me be.'  And then he may hide his face in the pillow so you won't see his tears.

I hope I can hear what they're really saying when they say these things to me.

The Sluggard

I have always loved reading poetry.  But not all poetry.  It has to be readable, comprehendable and with words that are more or less in the common usage.  I can enjoy difficult-to-understand poetry when I am up for riddles and challenges.  But it is so pleasant to be able to read it and understand it the first time!

I have always been a bit of a slacker (don't believe me? - ask my Mom!).  I think it is the achilles heel of my character.  I once wondered what the seven deadly sins were - and when I found they included slothfulness I was horrified.  Just glad not to be Catholic on that one.  But being Protestant is worse I suppose - because we consider all sin to be deadly.

I realized my weakness of character even when I was younger - and not knowing exactly how best to improve myself (and in my ignorance that perhaps I could - forgetting it is really a work of God in me, with my willing effort aided by His enabling grace) - I was drawn to anything written on the subject.  Seems there wasn't much written on the subject!  I figured I was alone in my struggle.  Who was out there writing stuff about laziness?  Not many.  More was written about workaholism than sluggishness.  Oh well.  I did, however, discover a poem and promptly committed it to memory.  It made complete sense to me.  And I didn't need a dictionary to understand it.  And it was by my favourite poet: Isaac Watts.  (Guess I couldn't go wrong there, huh?)

Here it is for your enjoyment:

    The Sluggard

      from Divine Songs for Children

      'Tis the voice of the sluggard; I heard him complain,
      "You have wak'd me too soon, I must slumber again."
      As the door on its hinges, so he on his bed,
      Turns his sides and his shoulders and his heavy head.

      "A little more sleep, and a little more slumber;"
      Thus he wastes half his days, and his hours without number,
      And when he gets up, he sits folding his hands,
      Or walks about sauntering, or trifling he stands.

      I pass'd by his garden, and saw the wild brier,
      The thorn and the thistle grow broader and higher;
      The clothes that hang on him are turning to rags;
      And his money still wastes till he starves or he begs.

      I made him a visit, still hoping to find
      That he took better care for improving his mind:
      He told me his dreams, talked of eating and drinking;
      But scarce reads his Bible, and never loves thinking.

      Said I then to my heart, "Here's a lesson for me,"
      This man's but a picture of what I might be:
      But thanks to my friends for their care in my breeding,
      Who taught me betimes to love working and reading.

      Isaac Watts